He was still the big brother Ugly Little Thing called out to, still the frail but sensible boy in the eyes of Ugly Little Thing's parents.
Su Ming stood outside the house and lifted his hand to knock lightly on the door.
The sound was incredibly faint amidst the moaning of the blizzard, and it could not be heard clearly in the area outside, but those knocks rang incredibly distinctly within the house.
"Who is it…?" a feeble voice asked from the house. That voice belonged to Ugly Little Thing, but she sounded quite monotonous and lacking in strength.
"It's me," Su Ming replied softly.
Once his voice entered the house, silence fell swiftly within it. Before long, the door swung open from the inside, and the wind from the world outside charged inside with a howl, bringing snow in its wake. Yet at that moment, Su Ming's frail body stood between the door and the wind like a mountain and blocked off all the wind, causing it… to be unable to blow past him, much less reach Ugly Little Thing, who was looking at him with a dumbfounded expression as tears of joy flowed down her eyes.
"Big brother!" Ugly Little Thing cried and went up to hug Su Ming. He patted her back lightly, and continued using his body to block off the wind and snow.
"Don't cry, Ugly Little Thing. It's almost been a year since we last met, you've grown quite a bit," Su Ming said, smiling gently. When he lifted his head, he saw a couple standing inside the house.
The man's head was decked in grey and white, and there were even more wrinkles on his face. Time also seemed to have left its tracks on his slightly bent body and thin face, as well as his slightly opened lips. He looked as if he wanted to say something in the midst of his tears.
This was Ugly Little Thing's father.
The woman by his side had even more white hair on his head. Her original beauty was faint on her face and could no longer be detected clearly. Tears fell from her face, but at that moment, a smile Su Ming believed to be the most beautiful in the world appeared on her face.
"You came back. We were waiting for you…"
Those simple words caused warmth to instantly fill Su Ming's heart. He held Ugly Little Thing's hand and led her into the house. Once he closed the door behind himself, he looked at the simple family before him and knelt down on the ground.
"Pa, ma, your son Dog Leftovers came back…"
A wave of warmth born from familial love chased away the chill that had blown into the house just moments ago and expelled the cold from the world outside, causing the house to be filled with a warmth that could melt any cold.
On this night, Ugly Little Thing's laughter became the same as it was in the past and echoed the warmth. The kind gaze from father would also constantly wander to Su Ming's body, and mother brought out a cotton jacket from the house. She sewed this herself, and it was specifically made for Su Ming.
When he put it on, Su Ming looked like a true young teenager. There was no grief on him, no shedding of any blood, no complicated feelings. There was only warmth within him, a warmth that was born from this family.
The light from this family was never extinguished. Even as the darkness outside grew darker and the freezing wind blew became stronger, that light remained as a constant presence, because it might no longer be oil that was making it burn, but the simple, familial love that Su Ming had always desired.
It was due to it that the light continued blazing, and it was it that Su Ming cherished. He placed that love in his heart and turned it into a beautiful memory that he would not allow himself to lose.
Within that memory was Ugly Little Thing, her father, her mother, and also Su Ming himself.
"I will stay with all of you until your lives end…" This was what Su Ming had said to Ugly Little Thing in his heart in the past. It was also a string of words he carved into his memory right at that moment.
But most of the time, happiness will only last for a short moment, because there is an eye in the world that belongs to loneliness, and it does not want to see too many beautiful moments in anyone's lives. That was why it made fleetingness to be a constant companion of happiness.
That was why people always said that happiness would only last for a short while...
This night eventually came to an end, just like how all beautiful moments in life would come to an end after a short while. Su Ming still could not stay in this place permanently, because if he did that, he might bring about death and disaster to this family before his cultivation base fully recovered.
The only thing he could do was to engrave this fleeting happiness into his heart… and leave quietly.
However, he left behind a person lying on one of the small beds, a person who was gradually opening his eyes at the moment. He was Chen Da Xi. He was Ugly Little Thing's big brother, and a pitiful soul.
His face should have originally been that of a middle-aged man, but Su Ming could not bring himself to make Ugly Little Thing's parents hearts break, and neither could he bring himself to make Ugly Little Thing cry, that was why he would rather delay the full recovery of his cultivation base and give some life force to Chen Da Xi so that he would look as if he was only twenty years old.
This was an illusion. The moment ten years passed, he would return to how he originally looked.
Su Ming left.
He smoothed out the bodies of Ugly Little Thing's parents, causing their sicknesses to leave them and made Ugly Little Thing's birthmark fade a little more. Then he took a step forward, and without even pushing open the door, he appeared outside the house.
'If not pushing open this door that leads to farewell will mean that I've never left, then I will never push this door open.'
Behind Su Ming was an endless amount of snow. It covered the path leading to his family's house, and it looked as if it had cut off his path back before gradually turning the area into a white, boundless world.
Su Ming walked on the snow alone and left farther and farther into the distance. The snow fell on his hair, his body, and the cotton jacket… It was very cold, but that warmth of the family resided in his heart, warming his body in the snow and allowing him to move farther away.
Su Ming left. He walked amid the falling snow, continuing alone as his head turned white. His body gradually faded away from sight and disappeared into the desolate world, slowly hidden away behind snow…
The moans from the wind sounded like the notes from a xun, and the snow falling down from the sky were the lyrics to its song. It sang in this endless space, and no one knew who could hear it.
That song sang about a city buried in snow, about the loneliness that extinguishes all forms of light, about an unknown person's setting sun, an unknown person's face, and the dozen something years of childhood that belonged to that unknown person that could not be seen amidst all the unfamiliar sights…
Once Su Ming left, Chen Da Xi, who was deep in sleep on the bed in Ugly Little Thing's house, slowly opened his eyes. There was a dazed look on his face. He felt as if he'd had a very long dream and had just woken up from his sleep.
At the end of his dream was a voice that echoed in his mind. It was also that voice that brought him back from his dream, to his home.
"You were originally dead… The only thing I can do is to help you gain ten years of your life. Use these ten years… to accompany your parents and your little sister…"