Title : Gu Ruohai’s & Su Huaizhu’s Story
Author : PurpleLy
THIS IS FAN FICTION!!! Click here to read the full disclaimer.
Su Huaizhu froze and glanced down at the arm around his waist.
The owner of the arm hadn’t yet awoken, but Su Huaizhu could feel the warm puffs from his breaths at his neck. It wasn’t too hard to discern who was behind him.
Su Huaizhu carefully lifted Gu Ruohai’s arm by the wrist and shifted his body out before slowly turning around to face him.
Gu Ruohai was still asleep. Su Huaizhu stared at him silently for a long time. He watched him breathe in and out, the gentle sweep of his eyebrows, his long eyelashes, the arch of his nose and the pair of soft lips.
A tuft of hair had fallen across his cheek. Su Huaizhu wanted to reach out with his fingers and curl it behind Gu Ruohai’s ear. But he stopped himself when he noticed Gu Ruohai’s eyes move beneath the lids and the rhythm of his breathing had changed.
When Gu Ruohai gradually blinked open his eyes, the first thing he saw was Su Huaizhu sitting next to him with one elbow balanced on an upright knee, looking away.
Rubbing the sleep from his face, Gu Ruohai pushed himself up to sit next to Su Huaizhu. “Good morning.”
“Morning.” Su Huaizhu replied curtly.
“Is your leg any better?” Gu Ruohai asked.
“Still the same.” Su Huaizhu answered.
Before either of them could say anything further, they heard faint shouts from above: “GU RUOHAI! SU HUAIZHU!”
Gu Ruohai and Su Huaizhu exchanged a glance. Gu Ruohai stood up and shouted, “Wang Ke! Down here!”
After a moment, Wang Ke called out again, this time he sounded nearer, “Is Su Huaizhu with you?’
Gu Ruohai answered, “Yes, but his ankle is injured! We couldn’t climb back up!”
Wang Ke replied, “Wait a bit. I’ll get help!”
With that, Gu Ruohai let out a sigh of relief. He turned back to Su Huaizhu, “We’ll be able to get out of here soon.”
It was a while before Wang Ke returned with three other shixiongs and shijies including Huang shixiong. They lowered some ropes so that Huang shixiong could make his way down the cliff.
Huang shixiong had brought with him some medicines which he applied to Su Huaizhu’s ankle before wrapping it up. With Gu Ruohai and Huang shixiong supporting Su Huaizhu on either side, the three of them gradually managed to make their way back up with the others pulling them using a mishmash of ropes.
“I’m sure you have a good explanation, right?” Huang shixiong asked once everyone was safely back atop the cliff.
Gu Ruohai opened his mouth to speak but Su Huaizhu cut in first, “It was all my fault. I thought to find Shizun’s abode here. Gu Ruohai tried to make me go back but I refused to listen. We fought and ended up falling off the cliff.”
Huang shixiong eyed both of them. “I returned late last night and I assumed the both of you had gone to sleep since there was no light in your house. This morning, neither of you showed up for training and there was no answer when I called. It was then that I discovered you weren’t in the courtyard. No one had seen you or knew where you’d gone.”
Wang Ke interrupted, “Huang shixiong informed us and we’ve been searching for you since dawn. I came here by chance and saw signs of a scuffle. You’re lucky nothing worse happened.”
Huang shixiong crossed his arms. “Nevertheless, both of you will have to be punished for this.” He turned to Wang Ke and said, “Thank you, Wang shidi. You may return and inform the others that they have been found.”
Su Huaizhu and Gu Ruohai looked up as Wang Ke left. Su Huaizhu spoke to Huang shixiong, “Shixiong, I’m at fault. Requesting for shixiong to punish me alone.”
Gu Ruohai was surprised, but he didn’t say anything and remained standing there. Huang shixiong looked at Su Huaizhu, then at Gu Ruohai before speaking, “I’d instructed both of you to continue with your training in my absence. The two of you wandered out of the courtyard and got into this mess. Therefore, both of you shall receive punishment.”
He turned to Gu Ruohai and said, “Gu shidi, I’m punishing you to bring Su shidi back to Yingyuan courtyard.”
Gu Ruohai cupped his fists and received the punishment, “Yes, shixiong.”
Huang shixiong turned to Su Huaizhu, “Su shidi, you shall be confined to Yingyuan courtyard for fourteen days. During this time, Gu shidi will be responsible for delivering your meals to you.”
Su Huaizhu gaped, “Fourteen—that means I’ll be stuck there for the Mid-Autumn Festival!” He caught sight of Huang shixiong’s disapproving look and obediently shut his mouth. He cupped his fists and replied in a low voice, “Yes, shixiong.”
Satisfied, Huang shixiong thanked everyone else for their assistance. He informed them that he would go visit Old Qi for some medicinal herbs for Su Huaizhu’s ankle and ordered the youngsters to first return to the courtyard. All of them departed one by one. Gu Ruohai and Su Huaizhu were the last to leave.
Gu Ruohai bent down with his back to Su Huaizhu and said, “Come on. I’ll carry you back.”
Su Huaizhu made a face. “You can just support my arm over your shoulder.”
Gu Ruohai turned his head and said, “This way is faster and won’t put pressure on your ankle.”
Su Huaizhu was still unwilling: “I don’t——oof!”
Gu Ruohai had ignored his grumblings and picked him up beneath his knees. Su Huaizhu had to quickly loop his arms around Gu Ruohai’s neck to steady himself.
After walking for a while, Gu Ruohai turned his head a little and spoke softly to Su Huaizhu, “Thanks for owning up earlier.”
Su Huaizhu didn’t say anything for a while. Then he snorted, his breath puffing at Gu Ruohai’s cheek. “I didn’t do it for you.” He replied.
Gu Ruohai smiled, “Mm-hm.” He turned his head a little.
Both of them didn’t say anything more. As they made their way back to the courtyard, they passed a couple of other fellow disciples who, upon seeing Su Huaizhu piggybacking on Gu Ruohai, cast puzzled looks in their direction.
Gu Ruohai ignored all of them. He carried Su Huaizhu all the way back into Yingyuan courtyard and into their house before lowering him to sit on his bed. He then brought him a basin of warm water for him to wash up before he left to take a bath at the communal bathhouse. Upon his return, Su Huaizhu had already changed into fresh clothes and was sitting at the steps of their house.
“I’ll go get your meal.” Gu Ruohai said. They were both starving since eating those few loquats last night. So he hastened over to the dining hall to pack up some food.
While he was there, he ran into Qin Jianyue and Luo Yu who’d just finished eating. They greeted each other and Luo Yu eyed the food boxes he was holding knowingly, saying that Wang Ke had informed them of what had happened earlier.
Gu Ruohai chatted a couple of words, then excused himself. He couldn’t tarry too long since Su Huaizhu was waiting for him to return. Qin Jianyue and Luo Yu watched him as he hurried off.
Luo Yu shook his head and turned to Qin Jianyue, “Old Qi said I’m to wait for him in Wanjuan Pavilion this morning. I’d better go.”
Qin Jianyue smiled, “Until later then…”
As Gu Ruohai stepped into the courtyard, Su Huaizhu caught sight of the two food boxes and asked, “Do you think I eat that much?”
Gu Ruohai didn’t reply to him right away. He brought the food boxes over to the table at the corner of the courtyard and opened them up. “My food’s here too. I’ll eat with you. It’s boring to have to eat alone.”
Su Huaizhu didn’t say anymore and hobbled over slowly to sit down.
“You don’t like those from the Righteous Way? ” Gu Ruohai asked.
Su Huaizhu picked up a shallot pancake with his chopsticks and replied in a low voice, “Why do you say that?”
Gu Ruohai swirled his teacup and looked at the tea inside, “You don’t seem to want to make friends; at least with me. But I imagine if you’ve been brought up in the Devil Sect your whole life, the environment of Lesser Jade House is certainly something to get used to.”
“And what do you know of the Devil Sect?” Su Huaizhu said after swallowing and proceeded to pick up a steamed bun.
Gu Ruohai was transfixed as he watched Su Huaizhu bite into it. A rare, serene expression filled Su Huaizhu’s face.
In their few months here, this was probably the first time he’d seen Su Huaizhu without his defenses up. He was clearly savouring his steamed bun. The thought came to him that if something so simple as a steamed bun could give someone like Su Huaizhu such contentment, maybe he wasn’t as unapproachable as he seemed.
That insight caused him to feel somewhat unsettled. Why was he so preoccupied with him? Despite mulling on it for a while, he still couldn’t figure it out at the moment, so he turned his thoughts back to the present and recalled that Su Huaizhu had just asked him a question.
“Nothing much, really. Just what I’ve heard in the rumours of the Jianghu.” Gu Ruohai replied.
Su Huaizhu sipped his tea and raised his eyebrows, “Let me guess: Those from the Devil Sect have strange and unorthodox practices. We eat the flesh and drink the blood of all our enemies. We’re cruel and ruthless; nothing short of barbaric in the eyes of the martial arts circles. Which is why you should never trust anyone from the Devil Sect. Did I miss anything?”
Gu Ruohai smiled in spite of himself and refilled their teacups. “Pretty much, yes.”
“And what do you think now that you’ve met me?” Su Huaizhu asked. He glanced up and met Gu Ruohai’s gaze.
Gu Ruohai sipped his tea, “I get the feeling that we’re not all that different.”
Without waiting for Su Huaizhu to reply, he continued, “We’re both young masters of our sects. We both have our identities and responsibilities to live up to. We’re the same age, so it’s likely that we’ll be getting our crown in…” he frowned and eyed Su Huaizhu, “…two years? After that, we’ll have to get married and gradually take on more sect matters.”
Su Huaizhu didn’t respond. He stared down at his food. His chopsticks had paused.
Seeing that Su Huaizhu hadn’t said anything for a while, Gu Ruohai looked over and nudged him with his elbow. “So do you drink the blood of all your enemies?” He asked with a smile.
Su Huaizhu blinked as he glanced up “No.”
When he saw Gu Ruohai’s teasing face, he couldn’t help smirking back and added, “Not all of them.”
After they’d finished eating, Gu Ruohai packed up the food boxes and went to return them to the dining hall. Su Huaizhu finished his tea and slowly hobbled back into the house to continue his reading of the Six Underworlds Inter Flower technique manual.
In the days that followed, Gu Ruohai diligently brought Su Huaizhu his food and they both ate together at every meal. Su Huaizhu was more willing to chat with Gu Ruohai, although he still maintained his lordly attitude. Gu Ruohai would share with him stories of his favourite foods, Tengyun Pavilion and the Central Plains.
During this time, they’d also started playing chess in the courtyard after dinner. They’d both learnt it when they were younger and would enjoy the game along with some hot tea and conversation before going to bed.
Other times were reserved for practising and training with Huang shixiong. Su Huaizhu’s ankle wasn’t completely healed yet and right now, he could only practice his internal strength technique and meditation. The lack of mobility coupled with the punishment of having to remain in Yingyuan courtyard was clearly a torture for him.
Old Qi had passed a herb paste to Huang shixiong to be applied onto Su Huaizhu’s ankle. He’d stipulated that the injury was not allowed to get wet until it was fully healed. Gu Ruohai assisted Su Huaizhu to apply the medication and change the bandages twice a day. He even brought him a tub of warm water every morning and evening for him to wash up since Su Huaizhu wasn’t allowed out the courtyard and it would be inconvenient for him to bathe with his ankle in this condition.
After a week, his ankle had completely healed and Su Huaizhu was finally able to start his physical training again. He’d been itching for some real exercise. It was bad enough that he was confined to the courtyard, but having his movements incapacitated by his injury was even more unbearable. The moment his bandages came off, Su Huaizhu headed out of the house and after a couple of stretches, he dashed several rounds within the courtyard using the Devil Sect’s Prized Flower Steps light footwork skill.
Gu Ruohai had just entered with their lunch food boxes when Su Huaizhu came zipping past, almost colliding into him. He reached out and steadied the boxes.
“Careful! I spill this and you’ll have no food until dinner time.” Gu Ruohai chided. “The moment I packed these up, the rest of the food was all picked by the other shixiongs and shijies, so there’s no more even if you wanted seconds.”
He brought the food boxes over to the table in the corner. Su Huaizhu landed nearby, came over and sat down. He straightened his posture and stretched out his arms. “Aah, it feels good to move about properly again.”
Gu Ruohai opened up the boxes. Today, there were some new items included; fried pumpkin and lotus root slices. Su Huaizhu picked one up with his chopstick and cast over a questioning look.
Gu Ruohai said, “The cooks are preparing food for the Mid-Autumn Festival tomorrow. These are some they’ve done in advance.”
Once he’d spoken, Gu Ruohai immediately remembered: it was the Mid-Autumn Festival tomorrow. And Su Huaizhu was still stuck in Yingyuan courtyard for another three days.