Fanfiction 2: Moyuan and Bai Qian - Chapter 4 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 4 - Lost

written by Lalaloop
Consultant: Juls
Editing: kakashi

“It can mean a number of things,” Zilan helped himself to some tea while Bai Qian told him of the wine jars she had seen in Moyuan’s study last night.

The two of them were sitting at the far end of the long table in the hall, holding their discussion in whispers while the rest of the disciples were far too engaged in their own conversation to notice.

“He's hiding something,” Bai Qian hissed.

“That’s not exactly news. Shifu didn’t become the God of War by wearing his heart on his sleeve, you know.” said Zilan, passing the biscuits over to her. “And while we’re on the subject, why didn’t you tell him about the dreams when he asked? Maybe he would have told you something if you were a little more honest.”

Bai Qian gaped at Zilan, stunned to hear he wasn’t taking her side, “I asked Shifu if anything was wrong because I cared, I wasn’t aware that we were exchanging information.”

“Listen,” Bai Qian looked around and leaned closer to Zilan, her voice almost impossible to hear, “Do you think Shifu has ever performed mind-reading on any of us?”

“I don’t know,” he replied; and Bai Qian believed him. There was no way they would be able to tell even if Moyuan had done so. “Though most of the time I feel he doesn't need magic to know what we're thinking.”

Bai Qian shuddered and sank back into her seat, feeling her worst fear had been confirmed. Her stomach squirmed at the thought of Moyuan being able to access her mind. Her head had been full of thoughts lately - things she herself was unsure of and those she’d rather take with her to the grave. Bai Qian wondered if she too should avoid looking into his eyes for too long from now on.

“I think I’ll need to go back to the Crown Prince’s mortal place tonight, so don’t be too surprised if I get back late.” she abruptly changed the subject.

“That’s where you’ve been gone to?” Zilan sounded hurt, possibly because he didn’t expect Bai Qian to hide this from him of all people.

“Yes,” said Bai Qian, slightly blushing. “I'm sorry I didn’t tell you, but it’s really not that important.”

“Weren’t you just there yesterday?”

“I…” Bai Qian glanced up at the empty seat at the front. “I lost something there last time, I need to to find it.”

“What did you lose, an earring?” Zilan smirked.

“No,” Bai Qian looked at him in pure confusion. “What makes you say that?”

“You’re only wearing one right now,” he pointed at her ear and broke into laughter, clearly amused by the sight of the long earring dangling about without a matching one on the other side.

Bai Qian reached up to her ears and true enough, she’d been wearing only one earring this whole time. “No, that’s not it,” she took off the remaining earring with a giant eye roll and shoved it into her sleeve pocket, wondering how she could have missed that while sitting in front of the mirror this morning.

“Well? Sixteenth, Seventeenth?” said Diefeng’s voice from the other end of the table. Bai Qian and Zilan turned in his direction, both trying to recall what the whole group had been talking about before the two of them strayed away from the conversation.

Changshan sighed, “we’ll gather here the day after tomorrow at noon and have one last meal together before sending everyone off, agreed?”

“Yes,” said Bai Qian excitedly. “We’ll meet again after Shifu gets out of meditation anyway, but who cares.”

Zilan raised his cup of tea in agreement and emptied it with one gulp.

When everybody else had gone back to their discussion of what they’d be doing during the time of Moyuan’s meditation, Bai Qian picked up a biscuit from the plate and took a bite, sighing at the prospect of having to return to the mortal realm and putting herself through the discomfort again. But she knew she had to.


Later in the evening, even thinking about the upcoming gathering they had arranged could not lighten Bai Qian’s spirit as she stood once again at the pavilion in the mortal household, looking at Yehua and the woman with Susu’s face. She had refrained from telling Zilan that he only knew half of what was bothering her, that she'd spent a few hours this morning to stay at the mortal realm for several days, during which she’d returned to Yehua’s mortal residence many times. Each time, she would stare at him and the mortal woman for hours from afar, replaying Sujin’s words in her head. And each time, she’d walk away feeling worse than the last.

Somehow it all felt like a joke when she was at Kunlun talking to Zilan or Bai Zhen. Although none of them knew the whole story, just speaking with them had made her feel she was only overreacting. But whenever she was alone and face to face with the scene, the uneasiness would intensify.

This time was no exception. She stared at them for a long time, recalling the things Yehua had told her during her last visit to the Nine Heaven Palace. It was almost dark when she decided it was time to go back since she hadn’t found what she came for.

Peach Blossom Garden, thought Bai Qian. She hopelessly needed someone to tell her she was wrong. She could not say it out loud and make it final. She needed to hear someone say something first, anything.

Lost in thoughts, Bai Qian was entirely shocked to find herself arriving at Zheyan’s garden only after what seemed to be a few seconds.

“Xiaowu,” Zheyan called. He was sitting at his table near the pond in a most relaxed posture, waving his hand at her. “Looking for me?”

The garden was blooming with flowers as it always had been, though at the moment Bai Qian almost hated the peach blossoms for being so elegantly unaware. She walked past them and towards where Zheyan was. “Yes.”

Zheyan raised his brows, he’d clearly thought she was only paying the garden a casual visit.

“Where have you been? Is something the matter?” He asked with a hint of caution. Bai Qian reckoned the look on her face must reflect exactly what she felt on the inside: plain blankness.

“I went to Yehua’s place in the mortal realm,” answered Bai Qian, sitting down and reaching across the table to pick up one of the wine jars.

“Ah,” Zheyan tossed a nut into the air and caught it with his hand. “Anything interesting? Speaking of which, when will he be back?”

“The last time I was there, I met Sujin.” Bai Qian took a deep breath, deciding there was no point beating around the bush. “She told me that she’d carved a wooden doll to accompany Yehua in the form of Susu - A-li’s mother. She flaunted that Susu was and will forever be the only one in Yehua’s heart,” Bai Qian moved her head in a circular motion and rolled her eyes; even in the worst moments, she couldn’t help making fun of Sujin’s overly dramatic language, “and that he chose me because I look like her.”

She took a large gulp of wine, feeling the unusual calmness in her voice had begun to scare Zheyan. He too was expecting a certain expression she’d been wanting to extract from herself.

“I went back there today,” she continued, shaking her head. Though she had prepared these words before coming to the Peach Garden, she was now struggling to figure out what to say next, desperately wanting him to read her minds and be done with it all.

"This isn’t right. I feel… angry,” was all she could manage.

Unsurprisingly, Zheyan seemed quite relieved to hear this, he sighed and reached across the table, putting his hand on her shoulder, assuming the obvious.

"Listen, Xiaowu,” he stopped for a moment, flinching upon recognizing Bai Qian was as stiff as a block of wood. Then, in a more cautious tone, he continued, “why don't we wait until the Crown Prince is back, you can ask him directly. There's no reason to be angry or tire yourself with unfounded guesses. Whatever Sujin..."
"No." Bai Qian's voice was flat.
"What..." Zheyan retrieved his hand; his eyebrows almost touched.
"No. I feel angry," There was a long pause, then Bai Qian uttered these last words in a voice so calm and cold that it seemed to disturb Zheyan, "because I'm not as angry as I should be."

Bai Qian turned to look him in the eyes. She believed some tears would have been appropriate, but instead her still lips slowly broke into a bitter smile.

“I went back there because I wanted to find myself raging at Yehua for taking me as a substitute for that mortal woman. I couldn’t. When I’d convinced myself that it was absolutely foolish to take Sujin's word over Yehua’s, I wanted to find myself jumping with joy. I couldn’t.”

The look on Zheyan’s face indicated Bai Qian had lost him somewhere during her utterly confusing declaration. And while he was still processing the information with his fist over his mouth, she took out the Kunlun fan from her sleeve pocket, slowly opened it and ran her fingers across the painting on the fabric.

Bai Qian thought she'd seen a gleam sweeping through Zheyan’s eyes.

“Zheyan,” her voice was as low as a whisper, “I’m going to have to ask you this...”

Bai Qian frantically waited for him to say something funny, to sneer at her like usual, to tell her she was being a silly little fox who fretted about the smallest trifles, who could never grow up. But he didn’t.

“It might just be my imagination,” she inhaled deeply, mentally preparing herself for what she might be in for while he uncomfortably shifted on his stool. “Shifu…”

“Let me,” Zheyan held up a hand.The last time Bai Qian had seen him looking this solemn was when he watched her cry next to Moyuan’s body after the great battle seventy-thousand years ago. “Do you hope it’s just your imagination or do you not?”

Bai Qian looked up instantly, feeling her whole body had gone numb, her lips tightly pressed together. Zheyan set down his wine jar, walked over to her side and sat down next to her.

“I can answer your question. But I’m afraid you won’t like what you learn.”

Chapter 5