Fanfiction: Ink in Water - Chapter 10 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 10 - My heart becoming yours, that was never a choice

written by Bunny
consulting by LigayaCroft, Le and LalaLoop
editing by Le and LalaLoop (kakashi only read through it)

I wake and lay, curled up in a ball, surprised to be waking at all.

Immediately, the cold starts to gnaw at me. When I take a breath, the air spins like metal shards in my lungs.

Where am I? I look above to see the sky has turned into a dome of ice. The clear slabs of aquamarine gleam like a mirror one second, then diffuse to a milky blueness the next by the rising vapor formed from my breath.

The sound of the wind assaults my ears, wailing. It’s coming from the white light that’s been clawing at the corner of my eye. My head turns over to see a cave entrance. Flurries of white powder are gusting through, bringing in currents to scrape across my bare cheeks.

I can’t decide which is worse, drowning in the middle of a storming ocean or slowly freezing to death in an ice cave.

This Shen Demon is getting more and more creative.

How did I get here? I want to pry myself up and take stock of the situation. But I can’t move. My body feels like it’s been frozen into the ground.

Where is that person? Why isn’t he with me?

Reminded of the very last thing that happened, the side of my head starts splitting in pain. I want to curse him, but he is not here.

I am alone.

I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want to die like this. I think I might just die here without him. Why save me, just to desert me? If I need the illusion of my Master to sustain me, then maybe I do deserve to have this ice cave as my grave. The voice in my head strikes cruelly and before I know it, tears are slipping from the corners of my eyes.

As they roll down my cheeks, I can feel them turning solid and hugging my skin.

For how long did I stay that way—refusing to get up, layering wet tears on top of frozen ones, drifting in and out of consciousness—I can’t be sure.

The very next thing that rouses me is the sound of a loud thud.

I immediately think the cave is collapsing on top of me and brace myself for the impact, but when my eyes flip open, they see the thing I least expect to see.

Moyuan’s face.

I stare at him, holding my breath, telling myself this is a last ditch effort by my brain to give me some peace of mind before the cold claims me. But when his thumbs come to wipe the build up of snow and tears from my cheeks, he wipes away my doubts as well. And I am so happy that I’m making his job more difficult; I cry even harder.

I don’t care how much it hurts to move, I’m scrambling up with the balance of a newborn lamb fresh from its mother’s womb, latching onto him. Burying my face in his chest.

“Shifu…” I whimper like a child, sobbing out relief.

His arms come to gather me.

“I’m here.” The sound of his voice is so warm that for a second, I think that all of this cold doesn’t even exist.

“It’s alright… I’m here.”

I cling to him. The layer of frost on my face makes it hurt when I try to smile, but I am smiling regardless. I decide that I don’t care anymore if he’s part of this illusion or not. I will play along. As long as he doesn’t leave me again. As long as I’m not alone again.

We stay like this until my sobs turn into hiccups. His hand continues to rub my back, soothing me, and it takes a while but eventually I calm down.

When we disengage, his hands come up to wipe my cheeks again and I realize I’m even dripping snot from my nose.

“Such a messy crier…”


I feign a scowl while my eyes wander past his shoulder. The sight I am met with leaves me speechless… Why on earth is there a giant bear carcass splayed out on the ground?

“Shifu… W-What is that?!” I wag my finger at it.


“Yes, I see that… but why is it here?!”

Why is he is looking at me like I just asked a silly question?

“Don’t tell me you… killed it yourself?”

Why is he nodding like it’s not a big deal? What is he, a caveman?!

Rising to his feet, Moyuan walks over to that heaping pile of fur and starts maneuvering it around. My mouth falls agape as I watch him flip that giant thing onto its back with ease.

“Shifu, what are you planning to do with it?”

“Would you rather stay in those wet clothes instead?” he asks. “My powers do not work here, so this is our only option.”

Did he just say that his powers don’t work here? Then… did he just kill a massive bear with his bare hands?! What kind of skill is this?!

I haven’t gotten over my shock when my wet clothes alert me that I am shivering in them. All this time, they are still damp with ocean water and have formed a thin layer of ice on the outside that shatters a little whenever I move.


My head snaps up to see that my Master, the ice caveman, has just broken off two icicles from part of the cave wall and started to grind them together. He’s sharpening them into blades. My eyes nearly fall out of my head.

A bit of shame pours into me. While I was lying limp on the floor, crying my way to my own death, he was out killing wild beasts and making weapons out of nothing… How can I even call myself his disciple?

He starts to skin the bear and the sight makes me queasy, but I don’t turn away.

“Shifu… what can I do?”

His busy hands become still and he looks over at me. After thinking for a moment, his chin directs me over to the pile of wood on the floor on the other side of him. I missed it earlier. Was this collected by him too? Does this person even need godly powers?

“Make a fire,” he says.

Make a fire? I’ve never made a fire before… not without magic. But how hard can it be? I remember reading about how the first mortal created fire. He rubbed two sticks together. Right, so I will rub two sticks together.

Moyuan skins the entire bear, portions out its meat, cleans the hide, makes a blanket from it, and I am still rubbing two sticks together…

Without saying a word, he wipes off his bloody hands and comes over to my side. After evaluating what I’ve been doing, he stops me and gently takes the pieces from my hands. I watch as he positions them differently and realize I’ve been at it wrong this whole time. After a few attempts from him, a fire ignites.

He adds more kindle and wood, and the fire grows, warming the air around us, warming me. I know I should be overjoyed right now… but I can’t even crack a smile.

Am I really this useless?

“If you haven’t learned, then how will you know how to do it?” My somber expression must have been too obvious. Moyuan sets down the wood and his hand comes up to caress my forehead. “Do you want to know who taught me how to build a fire?”

My eyes lift. “Who?”

“Xiao Yu.”

“Green Eyes?!”

“I’ve learned quite a bit from him actually.” He gives a soft chortle and stares at the fire.

I tilt my head. The image of Xiao Yu doing useful things just doesn’t seem right. But before I can voice my confusion, Moyuan pushes the bear hide into my arms. “Change out of your robe and wrap up in this.”

Hearing him tell me to change out of my clothes makes my stomach do a loop. I quickly take the hide and go over to the corner of the cave. Unsure of how to go about things, I stand and hesitate. He thinks I’m a boy, right? Is it weird if I don’t change in front of him?

It doesn’t take long for Moyuan to turn his back to me on his own. So I proceed to strip off my wet clothes and wrap my body up in the thick fur. Arriving back to his side, I see that he has also taken off his outer robe and hung it up by a stick in front of the fire to dry. He takes my clothes and does the same with them.

My cheeks are heating up and I can’t tell if it’s due to the fire I’m sitting in front of, or due to the sight of him right now… hair unbound, wearing only his undergarments. Suddenly the memory of everything that happened between us prior to this hits me like a bucket of ice water. The scene on Kunlun Mountain… being saved by him in the ocean… the unseemly thing I tried to do to him—I tried to kiss him, twice.

A line of sweat dots my forehead and my heart starts to race as I sink in these thoughts.



There is a stick of grilled meat being presented in front of my face, I hadn’t even noticed it.

“Are you not hungry?”

“Hungry… YES!” I quickly seize the stick of meat from him. How could I have not been paying attention to my empty stomach? It has been writhing around and cursing me this whole time.

The moment I start eating, all my troubling thoughts go out the window. I’m not sure how much time I’ve spent in this illusion, but it feels like it’s been weeks since my last meal. Remembering that the last thing I ate was also given to me by this person, I am filled with gratitude. I beam him a happy grin.

We sit in silence for a while, the sound my chewing loudly being the only sound echoing around in that cave.

Until he says, “I’m sorry for striking you earlier…”

“AH?” I almost choke on my mouthful of meat.

What is this? He can’t be referring to what happened in the ocean? Doesn’t that mean he’s also thinking about what I did to warrant his strike? I am right back to feeling at my wit’s end. It takes my brain working overtime to convince myself that there’s no need to panic.

“Heh heh… You don’t have to worry about it, Shifu… it’s a good thing this is all an illusion…” I mock up a chuckle, “Otherwise, I wouldn’t even be able to look at you right now…”

He turns and stares at me intensely, causing me to momentarily doubt what I just said. It looks like he’s debating something in his head and I don’t have a clue what, but a moment later, he starts to nod and shifts his eyes away.

“A good thing…”

He’s agreeing? So it’s true… Although I feel relieved knowing this, I also can’t help but mourn the sliver of hope in me that has been wishing him to be real all this time. What am I saying? It’s definitely a good thing he’s not the actual Moyuan, my Master. After what has happened between us, how can I still act normally around him? I should just be thankful I have this version keeping me company; he’s no different from the real thing. If I end up being stuck here forever, then isn’t he as good as real?

I pound these resolutions into my head and immediately go back to devouring my meal.

“How is it?”

“Good,” I bob my head, “Bear meat is surprisingly tasty…”

As I look up mid-bite, I realize that he’s not eating.

Then it hits me. My Master doesn’t eat meat. Doesn’t that mean that this food is only for me to eat? And this bear hide he skinned, isn’t it only enough for me to wear? Did he do all of these things just for me? Then what is there for him?

If his powers are not effective here, how different are our needs at this point?

The bite of food in my mouth, all of a sudden, becomes impossible to swallow.

I look at him in that thin tunic, and then I look at myself wrapped up like a ball in this thick fur; no matter what, it’s just not right.

Setting down the remainder of my meal, I wrap the bear hide tighter around myself and crawl over in front of where he’s sitting to look him straight in the eye. I know I’m being presumptuous, I know this is improper, but if I don’t try to do something for him, then what kind of person does that make me?

“Shifu… If you hold onto me, we can both be warm.”

Before he has a chance to respond, I am already leaning forward and dropping myself against him.

The time that passes between when my cheek hits his chest and when his hands reach for me, could not have passed any more slowly.

I feel his grasp, slowly peeling me back, off of him. And for a few seconds, both our eyes—overflowing with uncertainty and reluctance—stay locked on one another’s. His mouth never says a word. I was sure he would push away at any moment, but instead, he simply turns me around. Until my back is resting against his chest. Until we are both just sitting in silence, staring at that crackling, snapping fire that moves like it’s some living thing.

I think there is a small fire dancing inside of me as well, and my heart is contorting, trying to put it out.

When his arms come to wrap around me, they are so gentle that for a moment, I almost believe I am made of glass.

Then why is it that I am aching all over, like I’ve just been bruised and beaten?


I can’t tell how much time has passed. But it still passes all the same. Each time I fall asleep, I wake up seeing the same dome of ice above me.

Days? Weeks? Years? How long have we been here?

Long enough for me to acclimate to the cold, to learn to make my own fires, to grow sick of eating bear meat, to start calling this ice cave my home…

Long enough for me to forget that he’s not real.

To forget wanting to escape.

Words like ‘the Shen Demon’ or ‘illusion’, I’ve stopped saying them, stopped thinking them.

At first, we only stayed in the ice cave. The blizzard that went on outside lasted for such a long time, I was convinced we would starve. But when it finally cleared, the rays of the sun came penetrating through the cave entrance, and our world expanded.

We went outside.

The enormous range of snowy mountains that wrapped the horizon flooded my eyes for the first time with a light that nearly blinded me. How vast this land seems, makes me almost suspicious that perhaps the thing that put us here has lost us in its own creation.

Terrain, wildlife, vegetation—it is all perfectly depicted. We are stuck in an Arctic wasteland. And although it did not seem like there was much to sustain us at first, Moyuan never lets me forget how resourceful he is.

Staying side-by-side, hour-after-hour, day-after-day, our interactions have grown so natural, so second-nature, that it is starting to feel as though he’s become some embedded part of me. I still can’t say that I know everything about this person, but what I do know, I come to know like the back of my hand.

There were no other people, no responsibilities, no commitments here, so we had to learn to give meaning and purpose to each other ourselves. Often in the smallest of ways.

I’m sure Moyuan didn’t think that teaching me how to fish would result in me being obsessed with catching more fish than him each time we went out. I also did not think that after I praised him for making me a pair of moccasins out of the fur of some rabbit he caught, that this formidable God of War would start devoting most of his time to outfitting me head to toe with more animal skin than I know what to do with.

I have never been one to appreciate the mundane, but now, I seem to be fond of it. There is not much variety in how we spend our days, but nonetheless, they pass too quickly. And before I have a chance to prepare myself, it was on a day like any other day, that this world we have created for ourselves, this world that I’ve gotten used to living in, took on a crack.

Reminding me that the most pleasant of dreams are often the most fragile.

I woke up in the middle of a deep sleep that day, gasping for air, tears streaking the side of my face.

Feeling like he has left me.

When I look to my side, two yards away from me, Moyuan is lying in the same position he’s always been in, eyes open and looking at me.

“What’s wrong?”

I feel bad for waking him. He’s a light sleeper, while I sleep like the dead.

“Did you have a nightmare?”

I nod, wiping my eyes. They were like a leaky faucet, not wanting to dry.

“Do you want to tell me about it?”

My head firmly shakes. I don’t want to tell him that my nightmare was simply that I was unable to find him; that I was running around in endless darkness looking for him. Seeing him now, there is a desire to be closer. And I almost open my mouth to ask to come to him, but already, he is holding out his hand.


Wrapped in three layers of fur, I practically roll over to his side.

On the brink of collision, his hand comes to catch my arm and still me. It then moves up to groom the sweaty baby hairs that have stuck all over my forehead.

“Were you being chased by a beast or something?” he smiles, teasing me.

I shake my head again.

When you spend enough time with another person, you get to a point where your thoughts and theirs become bound together like cords in a rope. Even if I don’t tell him now, he will know later.

“I have a feeling this place will disappear soon…” I confess, my eyes move down. “I have a feeling you’re going to disappear soon.”

I let a long breath fall out of me.

When his hand comes to take mine, I don’t flinch, nor do I look at him.

In the damp, soundless darkness that surrounds us, his low voice is so prominent, I can almost feel it skidding across my skin.

“Right now, I’m still here.”

Unable to help myself, my fingers brazenly thread around his, while the rest of me sinks further into the layers of fur sheltering me, letting the edges fully cover up my cheeks. He doesn’t seem to mind our entangled hands. And it takes me from being panic-stricken to feeling so safe that I think it’s too good to be true.

“Be good.” His thumb strokes over mine. “Go back to sleep.”

He makes it sound so easy, but I cannot. With a foot of space separating our bodies right now, there is nothing that I want more than to burrow myself into him, but I lock up these silly impulses.

“Promise you won’t leave.”

I watch as his eyelids drape over.

“We can’t always be together.”

But I cannot fathom it anymore. Not being together.

The things that make being trapped here bearable, they all comprise of him. The sound of his voice, his smile, his eyes; since when have I started to seek them out? Since when have they become necessities?

I think a part of me knows—what this writhing feeling in my chest wants to say. But it is terrifying. Terrifying to want something I’m not supposed to want. So I tell it to be quiet.

His whisper comes when I finally close my eyes.

“If we part, you will not be far from me. No matter how far away we are.”

Chapter 11