Fanfiction 2: Moyuan and Bai Qian - Chapter 6, Part 1 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)


Chapter 6 - Drops of Rain

Part 1

written by Lalaloop
consulting by Juls
editing by kakashi

“Well, that’s it, I’ll be leaving now,” announced Diefeng, the last to remain in the hall.

With the exception of Changshan and Zilan, who elected to stay at Kunlun because Diefeng, out of worry for Moyuan, had asked for at least two to remain, all the other disciples had gone on their way.

Zheyan and Bai Zhen were now sitting at one of the side tables and Moyuan on his dais.

“Have a safe trip, senior,” Changshan bowed. Zilan and Bai Qian followed his example.

Diefeng smiled, “Take care of everything here, Changshan. And you --” he turned to Bai Qian, his eyes became stern though edged with brotherly love, “When you get to the Celestial Palace, behave. Don’t try to pull any of the tricks you’ve done here. You’ve always been Shifu’s favorite, don’t disappoint him.”

“I don’t want to be anyone’s favorite,” Bai Qian blurted out with a massive eye roll, and quite loudly.

From his table, Bai Zhen shook his head in a way that Bai Qian took to mean ‘can’t you give him a break?’. She turned to sneak a glance at Moyuan, who was simply sipping his tea without any indication he had heard the taunting utterance; though for one split second, she thought she had seen his brows making a sort of involuntary movement.

“Senior, Seventeenth is a grown up now,” Changshan laughed. “She’s going to be the Crown Princess soon; don’t treat her like a child anymore. And stop calling her Shifu’s favorite.”

“I’m sorry,” Diefeng tilted his head and smiled, placing his hands on her shoulders. “I suppose I’ll always see you as ‘Little Seventeenth’. I’m not used to think of you as a High Goddess who's about to stand alongside with the future ruler of all the realms.”

“No,” Bai Qian sighed apologetically and grinned, “Here I’ll always be ‘Little Seventeenth’.”

Diefeng smiled again in approval. He then patted both Bai Qian and Zilan on the back and bowed to Moyuan, Zheyan and Bai Zhen once more before setting off to Kunlun’s gate.

When Diefeng was completely out of sight, Bai Qian turned back to look at Moyuan, debating if she should say something kind.

Don’t feel sorry. A voice echoed in her head. He deserves it. Walk away; it will break him. The voice continued. And pain him. You want to pain him.

And Bai Qian listened to it. She shrugged, briefly bowed to Moyuan and Zheyan, and ran out of the hall.


***


When Bai Qian went back to Qingqiu that evening, she had very little idea of what was happening around her. The second she reached her room, she took off her cloak, threw it on the bed and asked Migu to bring wine from Qingqiu’s cellar. Once the jars were laid on the table, she drained them one by one despite Migu’s constant attempts to stop her with warnings of possible consequences of heavy drinking.

She then threw herself on her bed, punched the pillow into shape and drifted off to sleep with an intense, unstoppable dislike for Moyuan coursing through her as her eyes began to droop, the last thing she remembered was Fengjiu and Migu standing in front of her bed, talking indistinctly.

Bai Qian felt as though years had passed when she opened her eyes. She let out a groan, feeling purely ill and almost blinded by the headache. Frustrated, she threw the blanket aside and sat up to see Fengjiu had fallen asleep at the table nearby. Bai Qian sat still for a while, clutching her head.

“Should have listened to Migu,” she murmured and struggled to get out of bed.

When she’d balanced herself on her feet, Bai Qian reached for the small quilt at the foot of her bed and staggered over to Fengjiu. The little fox was so deep in sleep Bai Qian doubted even the bell of Kunlun could wake her up. She opened the quilt and carefully put it around her. Fengjiu suddenly giggled, her eyes still closed.

“Is it Lord Donghua?” Bai Qian asked with a smirk as she slowly lifted Fengjiu’s head and tucked the pillow underneath. Fengjiu pouted and hugged the pillow close.

Bai Qian patted her on the head, stood up and faltered towards the cave entrance.

She deeply inhaled as she stepped outside. It was still dark; the air was quiet and pleasant. She closed her eyes, trying desperately not to think about what had happened; but it was no use, flashes of the latest events and Zheyan’s words kept racing and dancing about her head as though to tease.

When Bai Qian had reached the lake of Qingqiu, she took a quick look around. Then, inhaling deeply, she leapt upwards and dove into the water.

The cold water caressed her face, rushing through her hair, seemingly draining out every last drop of wine from her, making her more awake by the second.

Though Bai Qian suddenly wasn’t sure she wanted to be so awake and coherent anymore - the more she became aware of reality and recalled what she would have to do, the more she wished she could be someone else.

“How do you do it, Shifu?” she felt as though a robe was tightening around her chest, “I think I’ve failed.”

Bai Qian closed her eyes tight for one brief moment, then kicked the ground hard and emerged from the lake’s surface. The infinite agony was still there, but her headache had started to subside and the befuddlement caused by the large amount of wine she'd consumed in the evening was mostly gone. She flew upward and landed on the grass, thoroughly covered in dripping water.

A thought came to mind.

Bai Qian summoned her fan and darted to the woods near Qingqiu after she'd changed into some dry clothes and another pair of boots.

Sword practice - that should be able to take her mind off of reality for a while. Bai Qian ran through the woods, picked a spot that was surrounded by massively tall trees and started slashing at them with her sword-turned fan.

Leaves and little branches fell from the disturbance, some landed on her hair and shoulders. One twig with a particularly pointy end tore one of her sleeves and left a long scratch on her arm upon its fall. Bai Qian didn’t bother to heal or fix herself with magic and simply went on to practice her jumps and kicks among the trees, making little birds who resided in the proximity squeak in protest.

Once in awhile, angry squirrels would emerge from their tree holes to make furious chittering sounds, gaping at her in disbelief and either went back in or abandoned their dwellings completely.

When it was evident that the innocent trees as well as her robes and boots had been abused enough, Bai Qian retracted her sword back into a fan, panting with satisfaction and thinking it was time to make a quick trip to Zheyan’s garden for some Peach Blossom wine.

“No,” she recalled from her days at Kunlun years ago that Moyuan used to scold her for sneaking into the wine cellar at night and tried tasting as many kinds of wine at she could. Bai Qian grinned, tossed the fan up in the air and caught it, deciding she should head to Kunlun’s wine cellar immediately.


***


Like Qingqiu at this hour, Kunlun was extremely quiet.

As Bai Qian arrived at the wine cellar, she quietly strolled to the inner shelves and scanned through the huge collection of wine jars on display, deciding which one would annoy Moyuan the most.

Before Bai Qian could pick something, however, the sound of some footsteps approaching made her jump as if she'd been caught stealing.

Seconds later, she could see through the shelves a familiar form with his hands behind his back walking in. She quickly straightened herself and set the wine jar in her hand back on the shelf.

“What happened to you?” Asked Moyuan when he had reached where she stood. He scanned Bai Qian from her unkempt hair, which had started to fall out of the bun, to the torn sleeve and the miserable looking boots.

“Why do you ask?” Bai Qian wiped off some dust she felt was still lingering on her face.

Moyuan took another few steps forward, “This is Kunlun, one of my disciples shows up here injured and --” his head slightly tilted -- “well, untidy. I think I’m allowed to be concerned.”

Bai Qian looked down at her clothes, feeling her face burning at Moyuan’s half teasing tone. And as she was still keeping her eyes fixed on her boots, trying to come up with an excuse for this embarrassment, Moyuan walked to the shelf next to Bai Qian and reached up to get an especially small jar from the top, which he opened and set down on the table below. Then, he took out a white cloth from his sleeve pocket, picked up the jar and soak it with the liquid inside, which turned out to have the pleasant smell of tea leaves and lemongrass.

Moyuan stepped closer, carefully lifted Bai Qian’s injured arm and started to clean the blood around the scratches with the cloth. She slightly shuddered and hesitated to stand any closer. But as letting her own arm hanging in mid air didn’t seem to be a good idea, she held onto Moyuan’s robe above his sash.

As the soaked cloth touched her arm, Bai Qian felt an urge to ask Moyuan why on earth he was doing this manually, but decided to keep quiet. She waited for a while, expecting Moyuan would start questioning her behavior earlier. But he did not.

“Shifu?” It wasn’t long until Bai Qian could not take anymore of the silence.

Moyuan uttered a sound to let her know he was listening.

“We had a conversation a few weeks ago about my marriage engagement before Zheyan interrupted to ask you to go speak with…”

“I remember,” he said sharply.

“Shall we finish the discussion then?”

“If you wish,” Moyuan looked at her briefly then went back to pouring more of the liquid onto the cloth. “Though I’m not sure what exactly is left to be discussed?”

Bai Qian was trying hard not to yell out her thoughts and instead arranged her face into an innocent expression, hoping Moyuan would buy it.

“I’ve asked almost everyone this except you - what do you think of this arrangement? Bai Qian tried to keep her voice natural. “Do you reckon it’ll suit me and Yehua well?”

“I have not met Yehua,” said Moyuan without looking up, sounding suspiciously like he had rehearsed in advance just in case anyone asked. “But, from what I’ve heard, he is everything a great leader is expected to be: selfless, responsible, persevering. He has also done a great deal for you. I am at least certain that Yehua is a man you can rely on.”

Bai Qian ignored the list of Yehua’s excellent qualities and said without pausing, “you haven't asked me if I like him.”

Moyuan slightly chuckled, “I shouldn't think it was necessary; you never put up with anyone you don’t like, do you?”

Bai Qian’s lips compressed. As irritated as she was, she could not help marveling at Moyuan’s skill in preserving his stability. His face was expressionless, his shoulders remained powerful, and Bai Qian could have sworn she had never seen water as calm as his eyes at this moment. Not one single sign of discontentment or irritation was to be seen, both of which she was sure he was experiencing.

But how dare he look at her as if she’d just asked a stupid question. He was the liar. He was the hypocrite, the one who

“Seventeenth.” MoYuan’s voice interrupted before she could think of another name to call him. “Why are you staring at me?”

Realizing that she was indeed staring at him like an idiot, and that her other hand had also found its way onto Moyuan’s waist somehow, Bai Qian quickly let go and looked down, feeling her face intensely blushing.

“I take it you are happy with the way things are progressing?”

“It is your marriage engagement, Seventeenth. I’m happy if you are happy,” he gave another proper answer without looking up.

Zheyan was right - this was a display only a lifetime of experience could yield. Bai Qian could not help letting out a slight scoff in the face of all this ridiculousness, which she realized immediately was a mistake as Moyuan looked up at her instantly, his eyes narrowing.

He put the cloth down and took a few steps backward, surveying her with curiosity and annoyance edged in his eyes - which Bai Qian took as a hint that she should either explain herself or get out of his sight.

“If you have more questions, ask.” Moyuan broke the silence, his head slightly tilted, waiting for her to speak.

The air was filled with mutual intimidation.

“Yes, I've got one,” Bai Qian said in a voice that no longer sounded like her own, “Are you tired?”

“Tired?”

“All this secrecy and ‘silent suffering’ and pretending you’re happy for your disciple - are you tired? I've only watched you doing it for two days and I'm already exhausted.”

She had said it. There was no turning back now.

Bai Qian didn't take her eyes off of Moyuan, waiting for a reaction to emerge, waiting for him to ask her where she had gotten her information and for him to tell her she was speaking out of turn. But, to Bai Qian’s utmost disappointment, he only looked as though this was one of the scenarios he'd been well prepared for.

“I see you have spoken to Zheyan.” Moyuan had now given up on the feigned indifference, though he still sounded as calm and collected as ever. Good, thought Bai Qian, she was ready to rage at him any moment.

“Seventeenth,” Moyuan cleared his throat and began in a tone Bai Qian was too familiar with. “I don’t know why Zheyan thought it was a good idea to tell you, but this should not change anything. My mistake, my responsibility, my approach in dealing with the consequences, none of which is your concern. What I think and how I feel should not matter if you…”

“If I didn’t care for you,” Bai Qian finished his sentence. She detested the calmness in his voice so much she felt it should be made a crime. “I assure you, If I could choose to stop caring, I would. ”

Neither of them spoke for what seemed like forever.

Moyuan narrowed his eyes and looked at her as though for the first time. It was during that brief instant that Bai Qian thoroughly understood what Zheyan had told her - if there was anything Moyuan was unprepared for, this was it. Though it certainly wasn’t enough to alter his composed expression.

“And thank you for your advice, Shifu,” said Bai Qian, her voice beginning to break, “but I don’t think I’ll be causing trouble for anyone in the Nine Heavens anytime soon.” And while Moyuan was muddled by this unclear declaration, she continued, “because there’s a great chance…, no --” she looked blankly at the wooden shelf, brushing her hair from her face, “I should say I positively will not be marrying Yehua.”

“This is no joking matter,” Moyuan’s face darkened, his eyes glittered dangerously.

“Perhaps I should get that in writing; sometimes I tend to forget that marriage is not a joke,” said Bai Qian derisively, shaking with anger from head to toes.

“Just a moment, Seventeenth,” Moyuan help up his hand, attempting to explain. Somewhere deep down, Bai Qian knew very well the logical thing to do would be to let him, but right now, every inch of her was screaming in unison for her to put the blame on the man standing in front of her,

“If I had gone and married Yehua, Shifu, would you have felt anything? Would you ever think about me afterward? Or would you simply go on to congratulate yourself that you have successfully kept me in the dark, kept me ‘well and happy’, that you have done me a great favor and have lived up to your name?”

“Seventeenth, listen to me...”

“I would have been happy to listen a few days ago. But of course, the God of War had to stay quiet, it was part of his noble mission.” Bai Qian was barely hiding the sarcasm in her voice.

“Seventeenth, I refuse to argue about something that you don't understand,” he retorted.

“I don't…” Bai Qian sputtered - she simply couldn't believe what she was hearing. “You refuse to argue because this isn't a war strategy debate. It’s only about your heart; it isn’t important enough for you to care! But --” her voice quavered, -- “I'm foolish enough to volunteer for the job, that much I understand.”

“And in case no one’s told you this,” Bai Qian shouted, turning a blind eye to the fact that she was contradicting herself, “I hate you!”

“Yes, I heard you the first time. Now, listen…”

“You were right about one thing - only a fool would do what you did!”

“BAI QIAN! Have care how you speak to me!” Moyuan snapped at her before he could stop himself, his voice now much louder than hers.

Bai Qian stopped dead, feeling as if her soul had just been blasted from her body then abruptly swooped back in. Her eyes opened wide in shock and bewilderment, her lips slightly trembling. And even though she could detect regret gleaming in Moyuan’s eyes, it did not stop tears from pouring out of her own.

Then, too perplexed to say anything else, she threw him a look of indignation and headed for the door.

As Bai Qian walked pass him, Moyuan extended his arm and caught her by the waist.

The hold could not be gentler, but it did what it was supposed to - Bai Qian froze where she was and almost stopped breathing. She looked up at Moyuan while making a hopeless attempt to silence her thumping heart. He, however, was not looking at her but instead staring blankly into space.

“I do not regret concealing my thoughts from you. I am sorry that you are burdened with the information, it was not my intention. But let me just say one thing,” his voice became breathless. “Yehua -- I should remind you that not only is he my brother, we are both greatly indebted to him.” Bai Qian closed her eyes, feeling once again the slapping pain. “Seventeenth, unless you’re absolutely sure… unless you are sure, don’t complicate your life.”

Moyuan slowly removed his hand. Bai Qian stood dumbfounded for another second and started to walk towards the door.

“Was that supposed to be a lecture?” she turned back and asked in a challenging tone, but as Moyuan’s abruptly reprimanding voice and raging eyes just moments ago flashed in her head, she quickly added, “sir?”

Moyuan did not reply. For an instant, Bai Qian thought she had seen the corner of his lips curve into a fleeting smile. She strode out of the cellar without forgetting to slam the door as hard as she could on her way out.