Fanfiction: Mo Yuan and Shao Wan - Chapter 17 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)
Chapter 17written by Chimera and kakashi
Edited by JoAnne
Father Immortal said that since Shao Wan was new to philosophy she and Mo Yuan could study together. “These last few years, Mo Yuan has cultivated patience and stability. He should be a good helpmate,” he concluded, stroking his beard.
Poring over philosophy with His Royal Celestialness was not high on Shao Wan’s list of priorities. In fact, it was so far down the list that she’d probably be dead and soul scattered before she got to it. She glanced to her right. Going by the crease between his usually placid eyes, Mo Yuan didn’t exactly present a picture of patience and stability at the moment. So he did not like this arrangement any better than she did, Shao Wan noted.
She smiled. “We will work hard, Master.”
The two students bowed. When he straightened, Mo Yuan had cleared his face of all signs of discontent. The silent, obedient son. Typical.
Father Immortal had left and Mo Yuan was standing there arranging scrolls on the desk. Shao Wan stretched her limbs. Mo Yuan sat at the table and looked at her expectantly. She cracked her knuckles. Rolled her neck. Mo Yuan continued to look at her.
Shao Wan’s patience ran out. “What, you’re waiting for me to sprout extra heads?” she snapped.
Mo Yuan sighed and laid his finger on the scroll he had unrolled on the desk. “We can start with this one.”
“Whatever floats your boat, Celestial,” she yawned. “Just start talking.”
Mo Yuan began reading from the scroll. Ye heavens, it was boring. The Celestial idiot rambled on about another idiot asking the Buddha where favor bestowed bears great fruit, paving the way for the Buddha to launch into a long winded analogy about army candidates so that he could then spell out which traits made a person worthy or unworthy of honor.
To her it sounded like interminable over-thinking. Trust these uptight old fogies to make even a subject as invigorating as war tedious. Why complicate something that was as clear to her as day and night? Trusting your gut was how you survived, being one with the senses; effortlessly grasping your environment was how you fought, and going by your instinct was how you won. Instead of needing to be reigned in, her passions were what made her as quick as lightening during fights.
Yet, she did need Father Immortal’s instruction. She’d come to the school, after all. Well, she was listening, wasn’t she? But sitting still was torture. The emptiness of the classroom in the fading sunlight pressed in on her. Her fingers twitched to be active, to hold a weapon, to smack Mo Yuan's mouth shut. Halfway through, she picked up a sword and started practicing forms - there was never a bad time to improve her swordsmanship. She welcomed the familiar calm that enveloped her as she settled into her stances.
Changing poses, Shao Wan realised that Mo Yuan had been silent for a while. The bastard must be outraged that she was disrespecting the sanctity of the classroom. Ha! An outraged Mo Yuan was good; she must be doing something right, then.
Shao Wan took her time before looking up. His eyes were fixed on her. She glared at him. “What? Moving helps me focus better. My legs were about to fall off from the numbness.”
Mo Yuan didn’t say anything. He turned back to the scroll and went on reading. His calm acceptance was all the more annoying. Was the man dull at everything except sparring? Shao Wan gritted her teeth and imagined every sword thrust going through Mo Yuan’s face.
Mo Yuan finally reached the end of his spiel. “Therefore, it doesn’t matter which clan you’re from. To bear fruit you have to abandon sensual desire, ill will, sloth and drowsiness, restlessness, anxiety and uncertainty, and cultivate virtue, concentration, discernment, release, knowledge and vision. That is how you can progress as a warrior and a leader.”
Shao Wan paused. “It sounded to me like you need to find someone with the qualities you list and pay them to bear fruit for you.”
“Is that what you would do?” asked Mo Yuan incredulously.
“Isn’t that what you Celestials do?” she smirked.
“I cannot speak for others but I have never sought to cast aside my responsibilities to subordinates while I indulged in sensual pleasure,” he said stiffly. Was that a jibe at her 18 maids?
“Yes, we all know you’re the monk of self-denying austerity.” Shao Wan looked over the bastard buttoned up from head to toe. “Maybe you need more sensual pleasure,” she snickered.
He betrayed no reaction except for a slight tightness around his mouth. Her laughter died as she held his gaze. A challenge to she wasn’t sure what entered her eyes. He swallowed, and her eyes dipped to his throat. She could see his pulse throbbing at the base. Unconsciously, her tongue darted out to wet her lips. Mo Yuan followed the movement with his eyes and her breath quickened. Abruptly, he looked away, breaking their standoff. Shao Wan swallowed a twinge of disappointment and decided this had gone on long enough. She slid her sword into the scabbard with a final click.
“Your lesson seems counterproductive, Celestial. Sitting here when I can be chopping heads makes me restless. Your words make me drowsy, your heap of scrolls makes me more inclined towards sloth than ever, I bear you great ill will in general, and now I have great sensual desire for red bean buns so I’m going to go.” She moved towards the door.
In a flash Mo Yuan blocked her path. “We haven’t finished yet.”
“Yes, we have.”
“I only finished reading. We haven’t discussed the passage.”
“I got the gist of your stupid ideas.”
Mo Yuan did not move.
His still face always enraged her. How could he be so inscrutable when every fleeting thought reflected on her face? When her expressions were an ever flowing river?
And now, he had the audacity to stop her from leaving? Fine, she was all warmed up anyway. She struck without warning. In a swift move he blocked her strike as if he’d been expecting it all along. She followed with more blows until he got serious and began attacking back.
“What about working hard? You gave Master your word,” he pressed out between blows.
“I worked hard to not fall asleep,” she spat out.
“That must have been tiring,” he returned.
She grinned. “I’m working hard on my kung fu.”
“That’s not what-”
She rammed her fist into his jaw. “That hard enough for you?”
Mo Yuan spat blood and came at her with renewed force. That was more like it. Their fights were never elegant. There was something brutal and feral about them, tinged as they were with pain, blood, and sweat. Mo Yuan did not hold back and Shao Wan did not play by the rules. Nothing was off limits.
Their sparring sessions were where he showed the most emotion. His calculating eyes accompanied by precise strikes, not a movement wasted, always sent a thrill through her. Dodging his strikes as they passed within a hair’s breadth was exhilarating. It must have something to do with the blood lust in her.
He hit her solar plexus and she doubled over, spitting a fountain of blood. She was done - he had won. He stopped fighting and smiled contentedly. He was always such a picture of calm restraint that she forgot how handsome the bastard could be when he smiled. Come to think of it, the only times she had seen him smile were when he fought her - and when he won. She liked to think it was appreciation for her moves. She did try so hard to make him bleed.
Groaning in pain, she straightened her back and looked at him sullenly.
“You’re not slothful, Demon Goddess.”
Was he back to preaching? She knew he would take it as a personal responsibility now that Father Immortal had remarked on his patience. He would not fall short of his duty. Stubborn bastard.
“Discard theory. I will teach you practical implementation. You cannot deny that you need restraint to control your powers.”
The bloody bastard meddled too much. Yes, sometimes, she lost control. It was always terrifying and yet, exhilarating to feel the powers of the universe flow through her. If she could manage to use them deliberately, she would be the most powerful being in all the realms. The Celestial Bastard would have his ass kicked to the mortal realm and back - if he even survived. But … she had tried to use them sparsely, many times already. It was impossible. Once the sky-power link opened, she was engulfed by the energy. They controlled her, not the other way round. She knew she could trust her body, though; it switched the powers off by itself, every time, before they could do real damage to her.
“You need to lead your senses instead of being led by them.”
She laughed. “Are you trying to analyse me, Celestial? You should direct your energies somewhere more fruitful.”
“I can teach you to meditate, Goddess.” He continued as if she hadn’t spoken.
“One more word and I will break your pretty nose,” she snarled and pushed past him. Teach her how to meditate? Over her dead body.
As sky power was coursing through her, glorious and terrifying at the same time, Mo Yuan grabbed Shao Wan’s arm and made her look at him. When he had her full attention, he lifted his right hand and started to draw energy into his fingers. Building it up until the blue light was almost blinding, he whirled around her and touched her energy points in quick succession: Yin Tang, Yu Zhen, Da Zhui, Shen Zhu and Bai Hui. Eight times altogether and the sky-power link closed. Before she collapsed, he gripped her around the waist and transported her away, to the edge of the encampment, where he quickly erected a protective barrier around them. Just in case. Cheng Yin would take him by surprise once, but never again.
Out of the blue, Shao Wan blasted as much energy at Mo Yuan as she could muster. It was a considerable amount of power at close range and he doubled over in pain as he went down on one knee.
“How dare you interfere in my affairs!” she screamed at him, “I never asked for your help and I sure don’t need it!”
He had difficulties breathing thanks to her unexpected perfidy, but the anger that started boiling in him helped him find his bearing. He waited until she bent down to check how badly he was hurt, showing she had some semblance of conscience at least, then grabbed her wrist and threw her into the sand with much more force than was necessary. Quickly pinning her arms above her head and positioning a knee at her throat, ready to press down, he looked down at the Demon Goddess with more anger than he had felt for a very long time.
“How dare you blindside me like this,” he snarled at her. “Do not take me for a stupid boy who is too well-bred to react to your insults. I have been patient long enough.”
“I did not-”
He wasn’t done yet. “You and your ex-lover both used violence tonight and broke the rules of this festival - yes, stupid rules in your opinion, but they apply to you all the same. Consider this a warning - overstep again and you will be made to leave. If that happens, I will stop spending my time trying to prevent a war that some fools are too eager to fight and other fools consider a laughing matter. I will lead a Celestial army against you Demons and this time, I will make sure there won’t be another uprising in the future.”
“I am not-”
“It may come as a surprise to you, Queen, but not everything is always about you and your pride. Maybe it is time you looked at what is going on around you and realized that this is a matter of realm security. Cheng Yin seems to possess a spell that opens your sky-power link and you'd better start working on that control you think you don’t need until we find another solution.”
He glared at her and she glared back.
“Are you done with your sermon?” she snapped at him.
“What is the point of words?” he snapped back as he released her arms and took his knee from her throat. “You never listen anyway.”
He got up and brushed the sand from his robe. Making a point not to look at her again, he healed the wounds from her attack and turned to go. He would add tonight’s confrontation to the long list of encounters between him and the Demon Goddess that ended in bitterness and anger.
“Please wait,” she said - and her sudden politeness was as unexpected as her attack earlier.
He stopped and faced her again, warily.
“‘To bear fruit you have to abandon sensual desire, ill will, sloth and drowsiness, restlessness, anxiety and uncertainty and cultivate virtue, concentration, discernment, release, knowledge and vision.’” she cited Buddha - and he remembered that lesson back in school, which had ended in a fist fight like so many others because she did not want to study.
“See?” she continued, “I listen. I heard every word you said and I memorized them all. It is true that I never considered control as something I needed to have, but I will admit to you tonight that I was wrong. I will work on my control.”
He sighed. Very well. It was already a lot, coming from this woman.
“One more thing,” she added. “I will seek to kill Cheng Yin, sooner rather than later. If there is an opportunity during this festival I will go for it, even if it means breaking the rules. Know that I do not want to go to war against you. But if it cannot be prevented, I will at least get to see you in that armor of yours again.”
He was lost for words and that little victory made her smile broadly and add: “Also, God of War, you are incredibly handsome when you are furious. Methinks I have to make you angry more often.”