Bo Zhiyuan rushed to Zhou Luowei immediately, grabbing her by her arms. His eyes searched her face frantically, his words pressed while he spoke, "I heard about what happened and rushed here as soon as I could. You're— you're fine right? You didn't get hurt. Has the physician checked your pulse? Are you completely alright?"
Luowei smiled gently, taking his hands off her arms and nodding. "I'm fine." She glanced over to Rong Tianyu. "But… Tianyu…"
Zhiyuan looked in Tianyu's direction as well, his lips pressing together in a flat line. "I know you're worried about her. Word was already sent over to the Rong Household. They should be heading over any second now."
"That's good to hear. I didn't face too much shock myself, but Miss Yang has…" Luowei moved her gaze to Zixu. "Young Master Yu is here today?"
Zixu kept his distance, bowing. "I was discussing things with Zhiyuan when he heard the news and rushed here. I simply followed along."
At this moment, the doors were opened again. A servant and a middle aged woman barged in. The woman strode all the way to Tianyu who was on the bed, completely ignoring everyone else. "Tianyu, my child!" the woman pulled open the curtains and sobbed, clutching Tianyu's hand.
Based on her obvious words and actions, Yujia deducted that this must've been Tianyu's mother. Since Rong Tianyu already had her family arriving, and Yujia had a change of clothes, there was no reason for her to stay anymore. She also wanted some time to herself.
So, bowing to Luowei, Yujia said, "I'll be going now. Thank you for everything."
"Of course. No problem." Luowei smiled, bowing back. "It's getting late; stay safe as you return home."
"En." She bowed again and left.
Once outside, it was soothing to breathe the fresh air. It felt like a refresher to her clouded thoughts. A servant led her out of the villa. Right when she stepped out, someone caught up to her.
Yu Zixu, again.
She wanted time alone. She really did. But seeing that Zixu had saved her life and treated her kindly for the past few days, it would be rude of her to immediately turn him away.
Yujia folded her hands, bowing. "Young Master Yu. Do you need something from me?"
Zixu bowed back, then looked off to the sky. "It's already a little late. I had questions for you, and I figured that it would only be right if I escorted you back to where you're staying, especially since it's getting dark."
Yujia glanced at the sky too. The sun was dipping closer to the horizon in the distance. Today had been a long day— with Zhizhong, with Luowei, with Tianyu— and it was already close to evening when she stepped out. She expected that in less than an hour's time, it would be completely dark.
"Then, let's talk," she replied simply while she began to walk in the direction of Lingxin.
Zixu, seeing that she was willing to talk, followed along with a content smile on his face. "Are you still going under the identity of Miss Yang?"
"Why would I not?" Yujia raised her eyebrows. Despite not being the Fourth Miss anymore, she was still very much Yang Yujia. That was her name from the very start.
He leaned forward. "How did you escape your marriage? Do you know what your family did?"
"I may have heard a thing or two about it."
"They sent over an empty carriage," Zixu laughed, "An empty carriage, pretending like you were in it. And did you know what my father's expression was when he saw it?"
This was something Yujia was actually curious about. "What was it?"
"Something like confusion. Then shock. And then, overwhelming anger. So much anger that what was entertaining was not the look on his face, but the look on the servants who were bringing the word over from your household. I believe that it was the most entertaining thing I saw this past week."
He smiled a little wider, the smile looking more genuine now. As if Zixu truly took amusement in seeing other people arguing over the most ridiculous things. Which, Yujia could relate to. She found the thought of it— a towering old master of the Yu Family yelling at a cowering servant from the Yang Household— a novelty.
Or maybe Zixu found more entertainment in the fact that his engagement, which barely progressed through the first traditions, was now cancelled. Whatever the reason was for his jubilant expression, Yujia didn't know for sure. She could never figure out what was going on in his head.
"So how did you do it? How did you escape?" Zixu asked again.
Yujia answered, "I ran to Lingxin."
Hearing that, Zixu nodded twice. "I expected something like that. Your master will surely treat you well."
"Is that all you wanted to know?"
"No. I still have many more questions." He tilted his head. "Except now is not a good time."
She looked at him in the eyes. "When are you going to ask?"
"Didn't you say that you were going to be my teacher? As teacher and student, our days are still long, aren't they?" There was a teasing smile in his eyes.
Yujia paused in her steps. "I… said that?"
Her mind flashed back to all of her past encounters. She did promise to teach him a few painting techniques, but that was about it, right?
A foggy memory suddenly surfaced.
"If you say so… then I'll be your kind teacher… who tells you about your kindness scale…"
Those words came along with the memory of Yujia falling asleep as she talked to Yu Zixu. It was the day after the drowned, where he brought her back to the Yang Villa after she fainted.
She said those words as a joke. She swore that she did. Her brain was not functioning normally when she said it.
Yet it seemed like Yu Zixu took it very, very seriously. Maybe this, just like seeing his father bring his anger down on the Yang Household, or his engagement being cancelled, was a delightful, fascinating concept to speculate about.
Seeing her expression of recognition, Zixu continued on with his calm smile, "We can just talk later about these things."
A headache was beginning to appear on Yujia's side. Everything that happened today, along with seeing Zixu, reminded her more and more of her past memories she wanted to push away so terribly.
Water. Suffocation. Sinking.
She wanted all of it to go away. She wanted to be alone. She wanted to forget all of this.
Her eyes looked off to the side, at a tavern. A few people sat inside, drinking jugs of wine.
Her hands began to tremble, if only the slightest.
Alcohol. That was what she relied on in the past to bring her away from all the worries in the world. The reminder of wine set off a sudden craving and desire for it.
Going back to Lingxin with empty hands would do nothing for her. As a sober person, she knew that no matter how much she tried to push down memories, they were still going to surface up.
But with alcohol— that was an escape. An escape from all the struggles and all of the painful parts of reality.
She turned sharply, making a cut for the tavern. Behind her, Zixu turned as well, asking, "Miss Yang, I thought you were going back to Lingxin?"
"Changed my mind. I'm in the mood for a drink. You can stop following now, since you're finished with the questions and all."
He paused in his steps, and Yujia went on by herself.