As a butler, Mario was definitely top-notch. Not only did he prepare an executive suite in a star-ranked hotel so they didn’t have to worry about a thing, he also made a special effort to drive them around Paris so they could enjoy the night scenery.
By the time they actually got into bed to sleep, it was already two o’clock in the morning.
Wang Xiaoming passed out as soon as his head hit the pillow and he didn’t wake up until noon the next day.
The sunlight shone in through the French window with the open curtains. The golden light rose and fell with the contours of the comforter and even the wrinkles seemed filled with soft warmth.
As soon as Wang Xiaoming opened his eyes, they were stung by the light. He raised an arm and covered his eyes for quite a while before he slowly got used to it. Then he turned around and looked toward the other side of the bed, at the still slumbering face.
Even though Baal acted like he was king of the world when he was awake, he seemed like an innocent babe when he was asleep. His entire face was filled with innocence and naivete.
He couldn’t help but want to reach out a hand to stroke the fallen angel’s hair.
Their hair was both black; Wang Xiaoming’s was softer and Baal’s was just like his personality, hard and coarse.
But half-way there, his hand changed direction. Wang Xiaoming silently picked up a thin strand of hair from the pillow.
It was white as cotton and glinted with a faint golden sheen under the sunlight.
A white hair, so soon.
Wang Xiaoming’s heart, which had been filled with happiness and gentleness, instantly chilled.
Did this count as having his fear come to life? The more he dreaded getting old and dying, the faster he aged.
How long could he look at Baal like this? How many mornings like this would they have?
“What are you thinking?”
Wang Xiaoming was startled and just discovered that Baal had woken up at some point and was looking at him with wide eyes. “I, I was thinking about what we should eat this morning.”
“Liars will have their noses grow.”
Wang Xiaoming involuntarily covered his nose. When he met Baal’s teasing gaze, he realized how silly he was acting. Many people would laugh at how silly the one being tricked was to believe such a lie like that. But when it really happened, humans’ instincts always kicked in faster than their logic.
Baal reached out a hand and picked up the strand of white hair that had fallen out of Wang Xiaoming’s hand when he had covered up his nose just then. “Yours?”
“Yeah.” Wang Xiaoming’s expression fell a bit.
“So a human being’s hair can be two colors,” Baal said with wonder on his face.
“…” Wang Xiaoming explained, “It’s not two colors, but it can go from black to white.”
Baal said, “I know, because humans can grow old, get sick, and die.”
Wang Xiaoming asked, “Aside from humans, are there no other species that grow cold, get sick, and die?”
“There are. But though some species will do that, it doesn’t matter because their lives are too long.”
Wang Xiaoming fell silent. Humans always thought that snakes, bugs, mice, ants, and many animals had much shorter lifespans than humans. Though the human lifespan wasn’t considered long among the Earth’s inhabitants, it definitely wasn’t short either. But he only knew now that he had been too short-sighted before and knew too little.
“How long do humans live?” Baal asked.
“Very rarely over a hundred.”
“How old are you?”
Baal frowned. “Does that mean you can live at most for another 77 years?”
Wang Xiaoming looked at the hair in his hand and said sadly, “Maybe not that long.” To have a white hair fall out so soon probably made him part of the short-lived crowd.
“Then why did you insist on being human?!” Baal suddenly sat up and demanded angrily.
Wang Xiaoming was frozen by his sudden fury.
Baal’s mind replayed the choice he had given Wang Xiaoming before. Heaven, Hell, or the Mortal Realm. Wang Xiaoming had chosen the last one without any hesitation. If that hadn’t happened, then maybe he wouldn’t have to worry about this problem now.
Wang Xiaoming sat up slowly and he subconsciously twisted the sheets in his hands as he answered, “Actually, I’ve been thinking about this. I think I was wrong before.”
Baal lifted an eyebrow. “Oh?” Could it be that he thought things through and was ready to go to Heaven or Hell?
“I once said that I couldn’t imagine what I’d chase after with eternal life.” Wang Xiaoming had clearly not been thinking the same thing. “But now I know what I’d chase after with eternal life.”
“What is it?” Baal asked. Back when Wang Xiaoming had said that, it had given him quite the shock because he had never even thought about that question and he had never managed to arrive at an answer afterward.
“It’s to chase after eternity,” Wang Xiaoming answered firmly.
Baal answered in frustration, “That’s crap. If you already have eternity, why would you chase after eternity?”
“It’s life that’s eternal, not that you’d have what you want for eternity.” Wang Xiaoming tried really hard to convey his thoughts. “What I mean is, if you have something or someone beautiful, you wouldn’t want to leave. You’d want to keep it forever, for eternity.” No wonder love songs constantly involved eternity and forever. It was because everyone who fell in love would never be able to bear the pain of loss once they’d tasted happiness.
Baal’s sharp gaze scanned across every inch of Wang Xiaoming’s face. “By beautiful, you mean?”
With his heart jumping wildly in his heart, Wang Xiaoming felt his breathing become labored, and the sheets in his hands were already slightly soaked with his sweat.
“Hmmm?” Baal urged.
“I want.” Might as well get it over with. Wang Xiaoming kept up a constant stream of encouragement to himself and then said in a trembling voice, “I want to see the sunrise with you every morning.”
Baal looked outside at the sun that was clearly going westward and fell silent.
Wang Xiaoming seemed to realize that his confession was a bit too subtle and too artistic. He gritted his teeth and declared, like a warrior about to ride into battle, “I want to sleep with you forever!”
“…” Under the sunlight, Baal’s face became like a statue’s. Perfect but frozen.
He said it?
He said it…
He said it.
Wang Xiaoming dove under the sheets in front of him.
He said it!
“You…” Baal’s face suddenly reanimated, “… don’t want to be a human anymore?”
Wang Xiaoming’s head jerked up.
If there had been a third person there, they’d have realized how strange the conversation was. But there was no third person there and the two protagonists in the scene didn’t see anything wrong with what they had just said.
“I want to be with you.” Wang Xiaoming turned red from head to toe. “I know it’s not right for me to be this greedy. I also know that you said you’ll only be with me for one life. But, I still think I should tell you what I feel. I can’t determine success or failure, but I can determine whether I fight for it or not. I don’t want to regret today’s cowardice when I grow old and die.”
Baal fell silent.
Wang Xiaoming’s heart sank and he laughed self-consciously. “Actually, I’m just conveying my thoughts and it’s not a demand. You can treat it like a joke or a story. You just have to hear it and there’s no need to remember it. Really, I’m being too greedy. Just being like this for one life is already enough happiness for me. Even if we eat youtiao1Chinese fried dough sticks, a common breakfast food in China. See https://thewoksoflife.com/youtiao-recipe/ for more details. for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the rest of my life…” His words tumbled over each other and he had no idea what he was saying.
Baal suddenly yanked him into an embrace and kept him there firmly. “You need to be responsible for what you said.”
“Huh?” Wang Xiaoming looked at him in confusion.
But Baal’s thoughts had already turned elsewhere. “If not human, what’s good?”
“Uh, do I need to die again and then go to Hell?” Wang Xiaoming asked fearfully. Since he had already been to Hell once, he wasn’t quite as afraid about going to Hell. At the moment, he was scared of the pain that he’d experience at the moment of his death.
“You like Hell?”
“It’s okay.” When he remembered that place, so dark and without light, he definitely couldn’t say he liked it. But he believed he could try and get used to it. Even Shi Feixia could stay in Noah’s Ark for the rest of his life to be with Isefel; he could do it too.
Baal’s lips twisted. “Being forced into it is meaningless.”
“I’m not forcing myself.” Wang Xiaoming hurried to reassure, “As long as I’m with you, the place doesn’t matter.” To have Baal agree was the stuff of his dreams. He didn’t want to introduce more complications.
Baal mused, “Become a member of the Kindred.” Aside from Heaven and Hell, only the Kindred would tolerate humans becoming like them and let Wang Xiaoming stay in the Mortal Realm that he loved. Though he could be described as the Unseen’s ancestor, that was because the Unseen had been immortal to begin with. All he had done was give them the ability to become transparent. As for Elves, Titans, and Dwarves—all those were born the way they were.
Wang Xiaoming really got scared this time. He stammered out, “I don’t want to drink human blood.” He did want to live forever and be with Baal, but that didn’t mean he could turn around and harm another human.
“Only low ranked Kindreds need to survive by drinking human blood. The truly high ranked ones don’t need to drink human blood. Actually, they’re no different from your average human aside from having the powers of the Kindred and an inability to die,” Baal said and then suddenly paused. He said mockingly, “I don’t actually know whether God favored Abel or Cain.”
Wang Xiaoming still had his doubts. “But…” He seemed to remember that the Kindred had strict rules about rank and that had something to do with something something clan and something something Holy War. If he became a Kindred, did that mean he’d get involved in that? His face turned deathly pale at the thought of having to participate in slaughter.
Baal saw through his thoughts in an instant and declared, “Second generation Kindred don’t have to participate in those meaningless things.”
“Second generation Kindred?” Wang Xiaoming stared wide-eyed. If he remembered correctly, even Gin was only third generation.
“What do you think?” Baal lifted an eyebrow. Even Cain barely qualified. At the thought of having a Kindred bite Wang Xiaoming’s neck in the future, Baal’s anger roiled uncontrollably.
Wang Xiaoming asked worriedly, “I really don’t have to drink blood?”
“Do you really want to drink it?” Having someone bite Wang Xiaoming was Baal’s limit. Did Wang Xiaoming actually want to go bite someone else?
Finally, Wang Xiaoming seemed to realize that someone was about to be consumed by the flames of anger. He comforted after the fact, “Don’t worry, even if I become like Xiang Wenjie, I wouldn’t bite you.” He silently swore to himself. If he failed the Embrace the first time like Xiang Wenjie did, he would definitely end himself. There was always someone in the world for whom you’d rather die than harm a single hair on their head.
“Why would you think of him?” Baal paused and then asked with a frown, “Also, why do you think you’d be able to bite me?” Even Cain wouldn’t be able to guarantee the bite.
Wang Xiaoming suddenly leapt up from bed. “Crap!”
“Crap indeed.” Did he finally realize he was angry? Hmph!
“What is Xiang Wenjie going to eat this morning?” He wouldn’t suck on a random person, right? Wang Xiaoming hurriedly got dressed.
Baal, “…” All of a sudden, he very much wanted to eat a bat.
- 1Chinese fried dough sticks, a common breakfast food in China. See https://thewoksoflife.com/youtiao-recipe/ for more details.