Fanfiction 2: Moyuan and Bai Qian - Chapter 5 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 5 - Problematic

written by LalaLoop
consulting by Juls
editing by kakashi

Before coming to Zheyan, Bai Qian thought she'd been well prepared for what she might hear. After all, she had always known that something was not right and had thought that any information was better than being kept in the dark.

She had been wrong - not knowing was better than this.
Zheyan’s words hit her like an avalanche, words that still pounded inside her head long after he had finished. The numb sensation had left her body and seemed to be replaced by a feeling of falling off a cliff unsupported. And out of the hundreds and thousands of questions that were racing through her mind, she went for the most obvious one.

“Why didn’t he tell me?” Bai Qian’s voice was shaking, she was quite surprised at herself for being able to speak at all.

“I think we both know why,” answered Zheyan in the gentlest of voices possible. “Is it really such a surprise, Xiaowu, that he didn't tell you?”

Bai Qian was now on the verge of tears; the honest reply was ‘no’. Now that she had all the pieces of the puzzle, it seemed the answer had always been staring her in the face. However, Bai Qian felt she'd rather admit to ignorance than dignify Moyuan’s choice by granting it some sort of understanding.

“I don’t know why,” she said, clinging on to the path that allowed her to blame Moyuan completely for this catastrophe.

“Xiaowu,” said Zheyan, burying his face in his hands, “Moyuan wanted to spare you the pain of facing the dilemma, the pain he himself has known too well. What did he care if his world collapsed as long as yours remained unscathed? What did he care if one more burden was added on top of his many others as long as his beloved disciple and his brother were well, as long as everything was in its right place. He is the God of War, a title that correlates with a lifetime of practice in not letting the heart dominate reason, in taking the lead and in choosing between duty and desire. Of course,” Zheyan scoffed, “the weakness of his brilliance lies in his insistence that his love was one-sided without seriously considering the other possibility.”

Zheyan’s last remark struck Bai Qian like lightning and part of her wished she could deny the truth in it.

“Am I supposed to be grateful?” Bai Qian said under her breath, purposely oblivious to Zheyan’s extremely convincing attempt to defend Moyuan.

“I don’t expect you to,” Zheyan admitted, “I gather that is beyond your ability at the moment,” And he couldn’t be more right.

Bai Qian sprang up from the stool with one hand on the side of her head while the other tightening its grip on the Kunlun fan, still quite unable to fully grasp the reality of what she had just learned.

“Don't tell Shifu I've come to you. I will speak with him myself.” As she was saying this, Bai Qian suddenly doubted that Zheyan would comply with her wish. After all, he had just spilled Moyuan's biggest secret to her.

“Please,” she added. “I need time to think.”

Zheyan nodded with an expression of deep understanding - it seemed he was quite relieved to hear that she at least intended to think - and Bai Qian decided to take it as a promise.

After a long and billowing silence in which Bai Qian felt as if her soul had been sucked out of her body, Zheyan pointed out that she was in no state to return to Kunlun, which Bai Qian heartily agreed with - she was not in a state to see or speak to another being - and was thankful that he offered her to remain at the Peach Blossom Garden.

Zheyan walked her to his hut in silence and left without another word.

When Bai Qian was certain he was out of earshot, she slammed the door shut, glanced down at the Kunlun fan in her hand and flung it across the room with all her might. It hit the wall and fell to the ground, lying harmless and still as if to taunt her that there was no damage done.

Her eyes blurred as tears began to well in them. Suddenly, there seemed to be an explosion deep inside her.

“Yehua…” she breathed. The sound of his name stung her with a violent pain. Bai Qian collapsed to the floor and shut her eyes tight, two strings of tears ran down her cheeks.

“Yehua…”

...

Bai Qian woke up to gentle knocking on the door and with the worst headache she had had in weeks.

“May I come in, Xiaowu?” sounded Bai Zhen’s voice from the other side of the door.

“Come in,” she groaned. The door opened and Bai Zhen appeared on the doorstep with a large cup in his hand.

“How long have I been asleep?” Bai Qian sat up and wearily looked out the window.

“A day,” said Bai Zhen, which made her frantically jump out of bed.

“A day!” She cried. “I don’t believe this. Why did no one wake me up? We’re supposed to meet at Kunlun at noon today.”

“Relax, it’s only morning” said Bai Zhen, handing her the large cup, which turned out to contain ice cold water. This undoubtedly meant that her brother too was aware of what had happened and had apprehended that she would possibly suffer from a headache. Bai Qian didn’t bother questioning him since she had always suspected that he knew.

She drained the cup, set it down on the table nearby and reached for her boots.

“Are you sure you want to go anywhere right now?” Bai Zhen asked. “You don’t look too well.”

Bai Qian stood up straight with determination, fixing her creased sleeves, “I don't want my seniors to worry.”

There was an awkward silence when Bai Qian let down her hair and began to put it up again in the usual bun.

“Xiaowu, Moyuan…” Bai Zhen began in a pleading voice, but Bai Qian made him stop by shooting a look of daggers in his direction.

“Zheyan and I are going too; we’ll be out here when you’re ready.” He retreated to the door and proceeded out of the hut.



When Bai Qian arrived at Kunlun, no one seemed to be awake yet, the school was quiet with only the occasional sound of chirping birds. Zheyan and Bai Zhen parted ways with her and headed straight for the hall.

As Bai Qian was hurrying along the corridor towards her room, mentally coming up with awful names for Moyuan, the sight of Diefeng and Changshan distracted her. They were both standing outside of Moyuan’s study. Changshan was half leaning towards the door and Diefeng was pacing anxiously.

Bai Qian tilted her head in confusion when she reached them.

“Shifu’s having a talk with Sixteenth about…” Diefeng started to explain, but he stopped and stared at her half swollen eyes and pale lips. He walked closer, took her by the shoulders and lowered himself, “Seventeenth, have you been crying? Who…”

Just then, the sound of something breaking and shattering to pieces from inside the room made the three of them jump.

Changshan gasped, “Please… not one of Shifu’s tea sets. What is going on in there?”

Seconds later, the door burst open and Zilan came barging out. Three pairs of eyes gaped at him in utter bewilderment. His face was red with anger, eyes shining with tears that he was desperately trying to hold back. He stopped at the threshold and looked at them.

“Seventeenth? You… you look terrible.” In spite of himself, Zilan also seemed to notice what Diefeng had.

“So do you,” said Bai Qian, completely honest. She was still wrapping her head around Zilan’s current state. “What happened?”

“I'm sorry…” Zilan muttered and ran past them, seemingly terrified of the prospect of being interrogated, disappearing at the end of the corridor.

“Shifu,” cried Changshan as Moyuan emerged from the room. “What…”

Bai Qian glanced at Moyuan for one split second and looked away quickly, feeling hot blood boiling in her ears.

Moyuan, interpreting the look on their faces, shook his head to let them know what they had just witnessed was nothing critical. His eyes swept from Changshan to Diefeng, whose hands were still on Bai Qian’s shoulders.

“Zilan needs a few moments to collect his thoughts.” he said calmly. Upon seeing that this assurance had no effect on their state of bemusement, he added, “he might not leave for the Sea of Innocence after all.”

“Thank you, Shifu. You are the best.” Changshan clutched his heart, looking tremendously relieved. “I cannot imagine why he wanted to go there in the first place.” Then without wasting another second, he rushed into the study, likely to find the source of the shattering sound earlier on.

“I just polished these yesterday!” Changshan’s voice cracked from inside the room.

Still puzzled by Zilan’s distraught appearance, Bai Qian turned towards the direction he had just ran off.

“Leave him be, Seventeenth.” Moyuan suggested, “he isn't ready for questions.”

Bai Qian did not argue; perhaps he was right. And this was about Zilan, not about the bubbling fury inside her.

Then, neither wanting to stand in Moyuan’s presence any longer nor to be questioned again about her pale look, Bai Qian bowed and hurried away with Diefeng closely behind.



At noon, they all gathered in Kunlun hall as agreed. Changshan had taken the opportunity to make almost every dish he could think of; almost everyone’s favorite was present. The long table was filled with food and drinks; the hall brimmed with conversation and laughter. The atmosphere was so joyous that even Zilan seemed to have cheered up a little. Bai Qian herself had decided to temporarily put aside her desire to storm into Moyuan’s study and smash the rest of his tea cup collection and to instead join her seniors’ pleasant exchanges.

“The next time we sit together will probably be at Seventeenth’s wedding ceremony,” Diefeng pointed out.

“That’s right,” Changshan raised his cup, “Which reminds me, the Crown Prince had better treat you well, Seventeenth,” he was now half joking.

The rest of Bai Qian’s seniors murmured in agreement while she turned scarlet.

“Yes,” Diefeng laughed and patted Bai Qian on the back, “in fact, since we won't be around anymore, if he or anyone dares upset you in the future,” he continued as Bai Qian’s eyes grew wider, debating if she should stop him before another word was spoken, “send us word, we will hunt him down and kick…”

“Don’t --,” Zheyan’s voice interrupted in an equally joking tone -- “finish that sentence.”

“I was only joking, High God,” Diefeng said and bowed apologetically. “The Crown Prince is a leader of great character. I admire him immensely.”

“Thank you, Senior,” said Bai Qian with a smile, “I think I will manage just fine.”

Diefeng gave Bai Qian a proud look and went on to chatting with the others.

When she had tried a bit of everything from the table, Bai Qian looked around and craned towards the table overhead, on which wine jars brought by Zheyan himself were displayed. She stood up, deciding she wanted something from the collection there.

She trod over to the table and scanned through the wine jars, noticing most of them were labelled in Zheyan’s writing. Her hand stopped at a particular one that was pearl in color and without a label. It looked just like one of those she'd seen next to Moyuan’s zither in his study.

“Don't touch that, Seventeenth,” Moyuan had left his seat and was standing beside her. He took the jar into his hand, his voice was as gentle as ever, which, at the moment, only added to Bai Qian’s irritation and increased her urge to kick something.

“This one is undiluted,” he continued, “you're too young for such concentrated wine.”

Rage began to boil inside her. Too young?

Her eyes followed Moyuan as he walked towards Zheyan’s table with the wine jar in his hand. Then, succumbing to the rebellious monster within, Bai Qian strode to Moyuan’s side, caught him by the arm, and seized the jar back from his grip in front of Zheyan and Bai Zhen’s goggling eyes. And before he could generate a reaction of any sort, she swept back to the long table, popped open the jar and drank half of the liquid inside.

From the corner of her eyes, Bai Qian could see her brother’s mouth drop open, Zheyan covering half of his face with his hand - though he seemed partly relieved that she hadn’t done anything worse - and Moyuan, keeping a straight face, but as self-possessed as he let on to be, she was certain he was nowhere close to comprehending what just happened.

Bai Qian went back to join her seniors’ conversation, feeling a savage satisfaction that she'd managed to make him speechless.

Nonetheless, Bai Qian was glad she had only consumed half of the wine. Moyuan had not lied when he said it was concentrated, her head was now spinning and it felt as though smoke was coming out of her ears. Thankfully, due to Bai Qian’s high tolerance of alcohol, it did not render her completely drunk.

...

Later in the afternoon when all the disciples had decided that no matter how much longer they remained in the hall, they would eventually have to leave, they retreated to their rooms and started packing. Bai Qian once again wandered aimlessly about Kunlun, waiting for the ones who were leaving to finish so she could say goodbye.

Her steps came to an abrupt stop when she saw a figure standing by the bridge leading to the potion room. As quietly as she could, Bai Qian turned her heels in the opposite direction.

“Seventeenth,” said Moyuan’s soft but now cold voice. Bai Qian turned around again in utmost frustration. Knowing there was nothing else to be done, she started walking towards him, avoiding his eyes the whole time.

When they were only a few feet apart, Bai Qian bent down in a bow.

“Look at me,” he gently demanded when it was obvious that she was keeping her head down on purpose.

Moyuan let out an impatient sigh when Bai Qian showed no sign of compliance. He stepped closer; the current distance between them made her feel as though her insides had vanished.

“Contrary to what Zheyan may have led you to believe, mind-reading is a highly complex form of magic which we don't perform very often or at all unless it is absolutely inevitable. Mere eye contact does not allow any kind of intrusion. If it did, a lot of things would have been much more easily accomplished. Now, look at me.”

This is the man who took the lightning trial for you. Bai Qian reminded herself and slowly lifted her face. Let’s not be disrespectful.

She hated to stand in front of him undefended because no matter what Moyuan said, to her, his dark eyes looked as though they were piercing into the deepest layer of her mind. Though fortunately, there might just be pure hatred in all layers at the moment.

“Next time you disagree with me, come speak to me,” he said sternly. “There's no need to publicly remind people of how abysmal a job I've done in teaching you manners.”

He took the lightning trial. She bit her lip and inhaled deeply. He. Took. The lightning. Trial. And he sealed the Donghuang Bell and saved the world, she added, glad to find another reason to make it inappropriate to lose control of herself.

“Good, now that you're ready to be civilized - is there anything we need to discuss?”

She took another deep breath, but to no avail.

“I’d prefer to discuss it with someone else behind your back, thank you.”

It was a good thing that Bai Qian ran for it before Moyuan had the time to process what she just said. It was also fortunate that Diefeng was not there to witness the scene, otherwise, the exhibition could have landed her one full month of servant work around Kunlun without magic, engaged or not.



Bai Qian kept running until she arrived at the other side of Kunlun then stopped and sank to the steps leading down to the lotus pond. Of course Moyuan was not afraid to offer to talk - the God of War, always knew what to say and how to respond. Bai Qian let out a laugh of indignation.

She shivered when some snow suddenly fell from above and upon where she was sitting. The flakes twinkled in the sunlight, some danced their way down her face, leaving a tingling sensation as they passed by. She looked up to see they were magically conjured in midair and turned around - Zilan was walking towards her.

“Thought you might need to cool down a bit,” he said, his lips curling. Bai Qian wondered if there was a chance Zilan didn’t see her little outburst during lunch and was only saying this for mere amusement. But she knew if she was attentive enough to grasp Zilan’s situation with Yanzhi, there was no reason he should be unable to figure out hers. Bai Qian put on a defensive expression and opened her mouth, ready to lie, when Zilan shook his head.

“Don’t bother, I saw you.” He sat down beside Bai Qian.

“I hate him!” She picked up a rock and threw in into the distance, her expression quite wild.

“Shush,” Zilan nudged her, looking slightly taken aback. “You don’t want to get us both expelled from Kunlun, do you?”

Bai Qian broke into a bitter laugh. A short silence followed. Zilan then quietly put his arm around her shoulders. “I don’t feel any better than you do right now,” he assured her in a breaking voice.

“I believe you,” she answered with a sob.