Shi Yue did not know what gave him away and caused the reaction.
He could not, because he could not see his own eyes - could not see the calm and determined expression that this life’s Shi Yue did not have yet, only the one from another timeline.
Xie Yi felt as if he was standing in front of the Virtuous Sect’s leader again. The man that hated him, the man that wanted to kill him.
Even if he knew that the one in front of him was his Shi Yue, his master, he was still a bit… frightened. Tense.
He did not want to lose his gentle master. He was afraid of it every second of his waking hours; a nightmare he was used to, but that still sat painfully in his chest.
Shi Yue was stunned. Then he sighed at the heavy heartache he was feeling. He did not want the person he liked to be looking at him with such an uncertain and vulnerable expression. Especially not Xie Yi, who was always in such a bright mood.
“Xie Yi, come to me”, he said slowly and gently. He reached out for one of Xie Yi’s hands and tugged him to the bed, to sit down.
He would have chosen the chairs, but he wanted the conversation to have no air of being formal at all. The less formal, the better, so that Xie Yi could calm down.
And indeed. The hesitation and anxiety did not vanish completely out of his disciple’s eyes, but it lowered significantly at least.
The young man sat next to him, barely resting on the bed and scrunched up. He looked like a child expecting a harsh scolding and unable to relax due to that.
“It’s alright”, Shi Yue coaxed, using his free hand to caress Xie Yi’s hair. The disciple flinched but did not evade the touch. He looked confused, with wide eyes. “I just have something to talk to you about. Nothing bad is happening.”
“Talk about what?” Xie Yi felt his throat being sore.
“There’s something very troublesome going on, isn’t there? With the Demonic Sect having those flowers. You know about them.”
Xie Yi’s fingers tightened around his pants. He did not reply. The flowers were a knowledge he had through Juxian - what did he have to answer? What could he say?
“Xie Yi, we need to be able to prepare. The only reason why the Demonic Sect and we all could be at a stalemate for so long as that even though we have much more people, we have no idea about what they can do. We have no information.” Shi Yue paused. “But you have it. About how the sect runs, about their plans, and their abilities of present and future.”
Shi Yue wanted to continue talking.
He wanted to say, I remember our last life. I’m really proud that you managed to turn your life around like this. I know it wasn’t all your fault. Please work along with us, even if the memory might hurt.
He wanted to tell his disciple that he was not going to condemn him for things that never happened and that were mostly out of Xie Yi’s control.
But he did not get that far.
He saw Xie Yi’s eyes, wide like a startled deer's, and wanted to say all those soothing words.
But Xie Yi completely snapped.
It was an instantaneous lapse, too quick for Shi Yue to react to.
Xie Yi trusted his master. But he did not trust the hate that was bound to be deeply rooted inside those memories. With a full understanding of what he had done, he also understood just how much that person must have despised him.
And he was not willing to bet that the current Shi Yue could truly push those feelings down.
...A life of hate, the memory of all those crimes, standing against a few years of good behaviour as a disciple.
Which would be stronger?
He did not want to hear the answer. He did not feel it would be a good one, did not want to bet on it when every inch of his self was screaming to flee.
He would have wanted to tell Shi Yue on his own, maybe, one day. After time had passed and he was sure their relationship was strong enough. He could tell him bit by bit, to watch his reaction.
He could lie to himself. He could sit here and think, oh, he already knows but never told me about it. Surely that must mean he has forgiven me.
Xie Yi tore his arm out of Shi Yue’s grasp and jumped backwards. He did not care about cleansed energy - he used all he had to channel through his body. The power of a Grandmaster, used for flight.
He heard Shi Yue shout after him as the window was crushed to pieces.
Shouts rose from outside, confused reactions at the sudden noise and the heavy aura that suddenly appeared - demonic energy swirling around, stronger than most of them had ever felt.
Xie Yi could both hear and feel Shi Yue follow him out, but it was useless. He knew from experience that if he wanted to run away from Shi Yue, the other would not be able to catch him.
The raging energy inside his body easily made sure that his weaker physical strength could keep up. Until he had made his way out of here, his body would hold.
Shi Yue couldn’t pursue him for long.
He took a roundabout way, then used the small teleportation array near the stream. They hadn’t been able to destroy it so quickly and as it was a one-way type, weren’t too worried yet. At this moment, he didn’t care if it chipped away a bit of his life.
He rushed deep into the abnormally lifeless forest, running until his legs gave away.
Breathless, he leaned against a tree.
Then the laughter broke out, louder and louder, until it ended in a retch. He leaned to the side and covered his mouth, trying to breathe slowly to alleviate the nausea.
He could try to convince himself that Shi Yue would have forgiven him.
But who would forgive a man who was unable to even live with his own sins?
Much worse was that he had not seen Shi Yue act weirdly around him. That he found out Mingtian was Wu was something he had considered, but it was obvious enough that it needed no additional memories to find out.
He hadn’t said anything.
Xie Yi could not tell when Shi Yue had found out at all. He could only guess.
It could be kindness, of course. It could be. It could be so many things, and it could be-
You will do it for us, right? Haven’t we treated you well?
It could be-
You would not say no to us, Xie Yi, would you? Have we ever treated you badly? We gave you food. We gave you a home. We gave you safety. Something this small, you won’t say no, right?
...Kindness was both a gift and a poison.
Kindness could mean that the other person genuinely wanted to help you. It could mean that they gave you freely, or gave you in equal exchange.
Or it could mean a shackle, a reason to demand, a reason to force. It could be a leverage used to make others do what you wanted.
It was true; those people had fed him, given him clothes, given him a bed. He did what they wanted, because they had helped him, and because they gave him a reason to exist.
No matter the price they demanded, he paid and paid and paid back for that bit of fake kindness.
He could justify the kindness that Shi Yue showed to an orphan and a talented disciple.
But he could not find a reason to show kindness to a genocidal maniac.
If there was any way he could lie to himself… Any reason he could think of that did not mean that he was being used again…
“But you have it.”
...Because he knew about the Demonic Sect, Shi Yue had decided to admit he had those memories.
Xie Yi shuddered and curled himself up. He buried his face behind his arms and rested it on his knees. His chest hurt where his core sat, further broken apart from the violent use.
He coughed out some black blood, letting it drip down his lips. It was neither much nor especially dangerous, only a sign of bad blood gathering through the use of demonic energy.
“You’re not going to give up this easily, are you?”, a voice whispered softly. Juxian did not change out of his sword form, but his voice softly trailed in the wind. Xie Yi didn’t remember if he had had Juxian from the start, or if the sword had appeared. “Are you going to let yourself drown?”
“I… No”, Xie Yi rejected, brushing his hair out of his face and biting his lip. “I don’t want to.”
“Why did you run?”
“You know he is not like that, don’t you?”
“I know. I panicked.”