Mei’s mood instantly lifted.
Mei sounded disappointed, but in truth, she was glad to hear this again. The reason being that over the past few months, Hei hadn’t complained about her calling him darling.
Initially, this made her happy, but after a while, she came to realise that it wasn’t that he had accepted the title, but that he simply didn’t care.
She could have called him anything and the response would have been the same.
What did that signify? That he didn’t consider being her darling as anything worth mentioning.
As a result, she returned to calling him by his name, wondering what had happened to him.
Now that he was back to rejecting the title, it meant that it held some significance to him, which meant that he was receiving her feelings.
That was the way she interpreted it.
“I’m glad that you’re back to normal, Hei.”
“Ah… About that. I’ve been acting strangely, haven’t I? I’ll explain about that later.”
“Right now, I’m back to normal, but I don’t know how long it will last, so I wanted to check up on you. Is everything okay?”
“No! It’s not!”
“Oh? What happened? Is it about the new sect leader? Little Bai already told me about it.”
“No. It’s this old hag. She told us that you had gone missing.”
“Is that all? It’s reasonable enough. I haven’t made contact with the sect and even forged some evidence which would lead people to believe that I had died.”
“I know that. It’s not the news itself that made me angry. It’s that stupid look on her face. She was happy to see us cry.”
Hei’s mood took a turn for the worst and the roof underneath his feet suffered because of it.
“She believed she caused Little Bai to cry and had the nerve to be pleased about it?”
“Um… Well, it was both of us, not just-”
It seemed Hei had left a person out of that sentence, so Mei tried to remind him that there were two people crying at that time, however, he cut her off.
“Hehehe. See how I deal with her when I get back. I’ll need you to point her out for me when the time comes.”
“Hm? Are you afraid something bad will happen? Does she have some strong backing?”
“No, that’s not it, I… never mind.”
“Alright then. Aside from that, how are you doing?”
“Everything is going according to plan, though the news that you’re missing could affect Project Hero.”
“I trust the two of you to be able to handle it. Either way, it’s not that important. We don’t need the Radiant Jade Sect for anything. It’s just a nice little ornament.”
“Mm. We’ll do our best.”
“That’s good. But, you know, when I asked how you were doing, I wanted to know about you specifically. Is life at the sect comfortable for you? The humans aren’t too strange? Is Little Bai treating you well?”
Hei thought Mei may have issues being surrounded by so many humans for so long, and he was aware that there was some friction between Mei and Bai, which meant it was possible Bai wasn’t supporting her sister.
In some ways, he was more worried about Mei than Bai.
Mei was surprised to hear that Hei had interest in her day-to-day life.
“I’m just fine. The sect isn’t bad, and the humans are okay for the most part. It’s just that some of the things they do are quite strange.”
“Oh? Like what?”
Hei immediately regretted saying this. In essence, he had just asked what strange things young ladies did when they were huddled up together.
Before he could try to turn the situation around, Mei told him all about it.
“Hm… Well, the strangest one I can think of is when me and Sister Bai went to a hot spring with a few senior sisters.”
“Hot spring… I don’t think I-”
“It was really nice, you know? Next time, you should come with us.”
“Cough. I’ll pass on that one.”
“Aw. That’s a shame. You don’t know what you’re missing. It’s not like a normal bath.”
“I’ll build a hot spring in the residence then.”
“Mm. I’m sure you’ll love it. Anyway, to continue, everything was normal at first. We went in the water and soaked a little, talking about cultivation techniques and formations. But then they started grabbing each other and doing all sorts of strange things. It was much different from the baths we had with Mother-in-law.”
While living at the Shao Bakery, Xiulan, Bai and Mei would bathe together. Shao Chen, Tianlan and Hei would do the same. This was the case even though the kids didn’t need to take baths. They could just use cleansing techniques
Xiulan and Shao Chen were oddly adamant about having baths the ‘proper’ way.
A few interesting conversations would take place during those times, but that’s a story for another time.
“Luckily, they had no interest in the two of us. They said something about waiting a few years. Do you know what they meant, Hei?”
“Ahem. No idea. Human women are strange indeed. As far as I know, boys don’t do things like that. You’ll have to ask the senior sisters. But to stay on the safe side, you should avoid letting them touch you and Little Bai. As a matter of fact, I’ll add a few things to the manual, so you can reference that next time.”
Hei didn’t know what to do. He thought he had covered every likely event. Why had he forgotten about public baths?
He didn’t know what actually took place there, but from the various anime he had seen, it wasn’t the best place for his sisters.
To strike a balance between letting them socialise with their peers, but also avoid corruption… It was proving to be quite difficult.
“How about Little Bai? Is she treating you well?”
“About that… We have formed an understanding between us. We’re allies for the time being.”
Mei’s eyes sharpened, but, of course, Hei couldn’t tell.
“There are certain… external threats that have to be dealt with before we can settle things among ourselves.”
“External threats? Someone dares to bully my sisters? Is it that senior sister from back then?”
“No, you don’t need to worry about it. It’s just a few snakes hiding in the grass. As long as they keep their mouths shut, there won’t be a problem, but as soon as they bear their fangs… Hehe, they’ll lose their heads.”
“Just take their fangs… Won’t that also be okay?”
Hei didn’t know what she was talking about, but he felt bad for whoever it was that was on the receiving end of that killing intent. Even he felt a cold chill down his spine from her words.
He just hoped she could let the snakes live.
“Take their fangs, huh? I never thought of that.”
“Mm. I think it would be better for everyone.”
Of course, Hei’s words were misinterpreted.
“Hehe. To take their fangs. Their pride and joy, and leave them shells of their former selves, forever remembering what they once were and the reason they lost it all. That would cause even more suffering than dealing with them simply. After all, what’s a snake without its fangs? Just an overgrown worm. That you could come up with such a cruel method… You’re the best, Darling.”
Hei was taken aback. He couldn’t even finish correcting the way she referred to him.
First of all, how did his plea for mercy turn into him proposing a crueller method?
Secondly, which version of Mei was this? When did she start enjoying torturing her enemies? Was this because she was a scarlet arctic fox, or was this just the way she was?
And lastly, she definitely wasn’t talking about snakes…
“I-I think you should discuss this with Little Bai before you take any kind of action, okay? Think of it as an exercise to help you in your… understanding.”
Hei was sure that Bai would talk some sense into Mei. After all, he had been raising her to be a cool-headed overlord. Mei, on the other hand, was someone he didn’t know inside and out yet.
“Of course. In this, we are sisters.”
“That’s good, I guess. It sounds like everything is… Well, it’s not bad, right?”
“I should get going now, but I want to let you know that I appreciate you looking after Little Bai for me. It really brings me peace of mind and I wouldn’t be able to do the things I can if it weren’t for you.”
These words caused Mei to blush, and Bai noticed it, causing her to puff her cheeks out. What had Brother said to her?
“You don’t need to thank me. I would do anything for you, Darling.”
“It’s Hei, and you make people feel guilty by saying things like that.”
“Why? Wouldn’t you also do anything for me?”
“… But you would for Sister Bai?”
“Ask her what she thinks.”
Mei did as Hei said and turned to Bai.
“Sister Bai, do you think Darling would do anything for you?”
“Hm? Isn’t that a silly question?”
“… Yeah, you’re right.”
It was just as she thought. Bai was fully confident that there was nothing Hei wouldn’t do for her.
“There are obviously things Brother wouldn’t do for me.”
“There is the giant one you should know of. Brother keeps saying he will go home, to his original world. We see how sad he gets sometimes, thinking about the family he left behind.”
“Mm. But what does that have to do with whether he would do anything for you or not?”
Bai furrowed her brows.
“Do you know how much it hurts when I hear him say that? Do you think I want to lose my brother who I love dearly? I want him to stay. I want so badly to be able to spend all my days with Brother. But he won’t give that to me. He can’t. And I can’t even bear to ask.”
“I didn’t know…”
Bai shook her head.
“From as early as I can remember, I could hear Brother’s heart beating behind me. We would read together, and he would never let anything happen to me. Even before I could understand words, he would spend all day talking to me. And when trouble came, Brother put himself in danger to make me happy. Someone like you, who is running off feelings artificially placed in you by the Heavens couldn’t possibly understand how it is for me.”
Hearing that last part lit a fuse in Mei.
“Who said my feelings come from the Heavens? When I was all alone and had no one to call my own, it was our brother, Hei who came and showed me what family is. What it means to be loved. You, who has always had people who care for you don’t know what it’s like to be alone. My feelings for him are as real as yours and it’s not up to the Heavens to decide who I love! Don’t be angry at me for being able to accept the fact that he has somewhere he needs to return to.”
After they both gave voice to the feelings they held in their hearts, they stared at each other in silence for a long while.
On the other side, Hei wondered why it was taking Mei so long to respond. Had they gotten into another altercation? What was he going to do with these sisters of his?
After a while, Bai had something to say.
“Brother may not be able to do certain things for us, but I believe that even if the whole world turned against us, he would turn against the world for us.”
“Mm. That’s the way he is, and it’s one of the reasons why we love him.”
Bai puffed her cheeks out.
“Brother is too mean. How can he make us love him this much and then just leave us behind?”
Mei placed her hand on Bai’s head and stroked it gently.
Bai removed Mei’s hand and Mei smiled.
“You don’t know the extent of Darling’s cruelty. You know the snakes in the grass?”
“Mm. If they dare lay their fangs on Brother, we’ll see if their heads stay attached.”
“We were thinking far too small. Darling suggests that we keep them alive but remove their fangs.”
Bai’s eyebrows shot up and her eyes sparkled.
“That would cause even more suffering, how did Brother come up with such an idea?”
“It’s too soon for us to start understanding what goes on in his mind. That being said, I’ve kept him waiting long enough.”
Mei returned to her conversation with Hei.
“I understand now. I’m sorry for making you feel guilty.”
“There’s no need to apologise. As long as you understand, it’s okay. There are just certain things I can’t do for you, but if you’re ever in trouble, I’ll be the first one there.”
“Mm. You said you needed to leave soon?”
“Right. One last thing, I found some interesting places out here. I’ll bring you to them when we go on our trip.”
“Eh? Is the trip still happening?”
Mei assumed that the trip was cancelled because Hei ended up going to the Radiant Jade Sect with her and Bai. In terms of the original agreement, Hei was compensating Mei for agreeing to go with Bai and looking after her.
But the way it was now, Mei got what she wanted, to go to the same sect as Hei, and looking after Bai wasn’t that much of a chore. She would have been fine without the trip.
“Of course, it’s still happening. Didn’t I promise it to you?”
Mei couldn’t help smiling when she heard this, which caught Bai’s eye. Seriously, what were they talking about?
“Then I’m looking forward to it. There are actually a few things I had in mind as well.”
“We’ll do all of them.”
Hearing her excitement, Hei had a bad feeling.
“What were you thinking of?!”
Bai saw Mei’s change in mood, causing her curiosity or increase.
“… I think it’s time for me to go now. See you later.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
With that, the conversation was over.
Bai noticed this.
“What were the two of you talking about?”
Mei turned to Bai with a triumphant smile.
“Oh, nothing much. Darling was just telling me about how I bring him peace of mind and that he wouldn’t be able to do what he does without me. How about you?”
Bai was inwardly shaken but maintained her outward appearance.
She leaned back into the couch.
“It was quite similar. Brother just told me that I’m irreplaceable and that I make him feel warm and fuzzy on the inside.”
Mei also leaned back and looked at her nails.
These were normal actions, but the atmosphere between the two was growing quite strange.
“Oh, really? Would you believe me if I told you that Darling has been finding places to take me on our trip?”
“How wonderful. That trip is still happening? I wouldn’t be able to accept such a thing knowing that I had already gotten what I wanted. But I suppose some of us are shameless enough.”
At this point, sparks began to appear between the two.
If someone were to walk in, they would think a lightning tribulation was about to occur.
“Oh! Silly me. Did I say warm and fuzzy? I believe Brother’s exact words were ‘very warm and overwhelmingly fuzzy.’ It’s a feeling only little sisters can trigger, you know?”
“Fascinating. Though, Darling told me that human women were strange. It’s an awful shame what one of us will inevitably become.”
At this point, Bai’s body was twitching, and Mei’s colours were inverting.
But before things could proceed, they both heard a message and got rid of their intense auras.
“Brother really knows us…”
“Mm. A little too well…”