Fanfiction 2: Moyuan and Bai Qian - Chapter 6, Part 4 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 6 - Drops of Rain

Part 4

written by LalaLoop
consulting by Juls
edited by kakashi


“Your brain can never catch up with the speed of your thumping heart in these matters, Xiaowu. Someone as dense as you needs a person who knows you, who can convey sound with silence, who can take hold of your heart and soul the way raindrops seep into the earth - one by one, silently, diligently, as if nothing...”

“Convey sound with silence?” Bai Qian interrupted in a mocking manner before Zheyan could finish, trying hard to hold back laughter.

“It’s funny now, but you’ll understand. You will learn to notice.”

“I don’t think so,” she said with a smirk and went back to her book.

Zheyan’s mysterious smile widened
.



“Gugu.”

She woke up to Fengjiu’s gentle tapping on her shoulders.

Bai Qian had been sitting on the stone desk in her room with a thick book in her hands, recalling a certain conversation she’d had with Zheyan a long time ago.

She knew she would have to return to Kunlun soon to see if Changshan and Zilan might require her assistance but she needed some time alone to clear her head before appearing in public again. And since Moyuan appeared obviously unaffected by the series of recent events, she was not going to let him see her desolate state.

And so, after getting back from her trip to the Nine Heavens, Bai Qian had been avoiding questions from her relatives and instead decided to go through the piles of books and documents about affairs of Qingqiu on her desk, blankly flipping through the pages. But she couldn't help thinking about Yehua and the state he had been in when she’d left his palace.

Which led to another concern - given Kunlun’s influence, it was only proper that the Crown Prince of the Nine Heavens should pay a visit to Kunlun, but considering how she had just practically ripped the heart out of Yehua’s chest and trampled on it, Bai Qian did not expect that to happen in the next few days. She wondered if anyone had told Yehua of his relation to Moyuan; and if he had been aware of his days as the Golden Lotus, would he put aside the conflict and make a trip to see his brother? But she simply shuddered at the thought - having Yehua and Moyuan in the same room was about as safe as walking up to Qingcang and asking to borrow his Double Crescent Halberd.

Too worn out with the reading not exactly helping, Bai Qian had fallen asleep on the desk before she knew it.

When she opened her eyes, Fengjiu was sitting opposite of her. A smoking cup of tea was set beside her piles of books and papers.

“Did I miss anything?” Bai Qian rubbed her eyes, “has anyone asked for me?”

“No, Dad was here to see if you were alright, but I told him you needed to rest. Then Fourth Uncle stopped by to check on you, he asked me to tell you not to drink too much.”

Bai Qian nodded, feeling quite proud of herself for not drinking at all.

“And High God Moyuan was here too,” Fengjiu added after a short pause. “He came to speak with you, he said it was important so I took him here. But… you were asleep.”

“He was in here?” asked Bai Qian, her expression quite cross.

“Not for long, he left only seconds after I did.” Fengjiu nodded nervously, afraid she might get scolded. “He just sort of…” Fengjiu stopped, a streak of pink appearing on her face. Bai Qian blinked, waiting for her to continue.

But Fengjiu simply pointed at Bai Qian’s head, looking uncertain. She knit her brows then suddenly gasped.

“He read my mind!” Bai Qian roared. After listening to the Old Phoenix clarifying his false claims about mind-reading and how he had only been joking all along, she knew that would be quite impossible, but what else could a high god with such powerful magical abilities be doing that involved someone else’s head.

“No!” Fengjiu shouted in frustration and went red. “Why do you always assume the worst, Gugu? He just… well… I didn’t see clearly… I was standing by the entrance… and... from an angle…”

“Never mind that,” Bai Qian did not have the patience to watch Fengjiu blushing about some mysterious thing Moyuan had done, as long as it wasn’t mind-reading; after all, this little fox would blush about anything. And judging by Fengjiu’s babbling, it was probably nothing significant. She asked abruptly, “did I talk in my sleep? And did you tell anyone anything?”

“No, of course not. You told me not to,” she assured.

Bai Qian touched her forehead and exhaled in relief. She then stood and straightened herself up.

“Are you going to see High God Moyuan?” Fengjiu asked.

“No, Fengjiu, he is the last person I want to see. I’m going to the Peach Blossom Garden.”

“But what if it's something important?”

“Don't worry, if it's not about the bell of Donghuang or the meditation elixir Zheyan is making, it's probably not important.”

“Oh…” Fengjiu thought for a while then nodded, “you're right.”

“The Peach Blossom Garden is not a bad idea then,” the little fox stood up. “You need some fresh air. It’s always quiet and peaceful there. Delve into the peach blossom petals, Gugu.” She twirled in delight, “and the fragrance, maybe it’ll help you clear your mind!”

Bai Qian couldn’t help smiling. She shook her head, “aren’t you adorable.”


***

With a puff of silver smoke, Bai Qian was standing inside Zheyan’s garden. She looked up and to her left and right, inhaling the sweet scent of the flowers.

Though the moment she turned around, she felt a horrible sinking in her stomach and wished she could vanish on the spot. Zheyan and Bai Zhen were sitting at the stone table near the pond, and opposite of him had to be Moyuan. Bai Qian could not believe her bad luck, she grunted as Bai Zhen stood up, bowed to Moyuan and walked towards her.

“I was going to take refuge here,” she whispered to her brother.

“And High God Moyuan seems to have foreseen that.” Bai Zhen winked. “You went to see the Crown Prince?”

“How did you know that?”

“A celestial guard was here to inform Zheyan of the Crown Prince’s return from his trial. He mentioned he saw you in the Nine Heaven Palace. I figured there’s only a handful of reasons why you would go there.”

“Yes, I spoke with Yehua,” Bai Qian said, looking at the ground.

Bai Zhen simply nodded, he always knew when not to ask questions.

“Well,” Bai Zhen gestured towards where Moyuan was sitting, “you don't want to stand here and talk to me for too long while you haven’t greeted your Shifu, it's disrespectful.” He wrinkled his nose and smirked, then continued to walk ahead, disappearing into the peach blossom trees.

Bai Qian kept her head down as she walked over to the table. Zheyan nodded his greeting when she curtsied then stood up and walked to her side.

“Are you feeling better? I was at Qingqiu earlier but Fengjiu said you were tired.”

“I’m fine,” she replied.

“Seventeenth, come here for a moment,” Moyuan spoke. Bai Qian blinked uncomfortably; she remembered what Fengjiu had told her in Qingqiu’s cave. But as she recalled the medicine cup, she gave him a look of resentment.

“I need more information; I’m a little afraid of you,” she blurted out.

“Xiaowu,” Zheyan said through his teeth, though Bai Qian could have sworn he looked as if he was going to burst out laughing.

Moyuan put down his teacup, “Zheyan, would you mind if we continued our discussion later? I’d like a word with my dear disciple.” His silky voice told Bai Qian this was not going to be something she would enjoy.

“Of course,” said Zheyan and he slowly departed with unmistakable effort to hide his expression, whatever it was. Bai Qian’s eyes followed him as he headed in the direction Bai Zhen had just gone.

Perhaps she was really out of options, Bai Qian sighed as Zheyan’s figure became smaller and smaller, there was no avoiding conversation this time.

While she was still occupied with thoughts and apprehension, Bai Qian suddenly felt Moyuan standing right behind her. She turned her head to the side but before she could ask any question, his arm was encircling her shoulders, pulling her close. Bai Qian quietly gasped, her mind going blank.

But then she quickly realized it was not at all what she thought he was doing.

She felt her body being jerked upward. Cold air was swooping past her face and hair.

Seconds later, her feet touched the ground, she looked around to see they were standing in Moyuan’s study.

Bai Qian turned and looked up at him for, feeling foolish about her earlier thoughts. Moyuan let go of her and waved his arm towards the door - it slammed shut. He then walked to his dais, brushed aside the back of his robe and took his seat.

“Why am I here?” she asked.

“Sit down, Seventeenth,” he gestured at the seat opposite of him. “I know you dislike me a great deal at the moment so I will try and make this brief.”

Bai Qian strode over. “I’d like to leave,” she protested. “I have nothing to say.”

“You have said enough last time in the wine cellar, at least enough for me to comprehend the situation. I’d merely like to explain something to you, Seventeenth. I believe you need it. Please, sit.”

“I don’t want to hear anything, either. I’m really tired...”

“All the more reason you should listen to me,” said Moyuan matter-of-factly.

“Are you going to keep me in here?”

“Just until we’re done talking.”

“I don’t want to...”

“You are going to nonetheless.”

“NO!” Bai Qian had had enough of Moyuan’s calmness and empty words. She didn’t care about being disrespectful or anything else anymore.

Moyuan, on the other hand, did not flinch but only looked as though he had expected this.

Bai Qian grabbed one of the tiny and exquisite looking tea pots, which was elegantly positioned in the middle of a tray on the wooden shelf next to her, and swung it against the wall. It shattered into pieces and fell all over the floor. If Moyuan was trying to unleash the hot anger that had been boiling inside her and whistling to be released, he had been successful.

“I don’t want to listen! I'm not going to listen to your… your well prepared speech. I didn't care about your lectures then, I don't care about it now!”

She seized the tray and threw it as far as she could along with the little cups on top. They hit the door and were now also tiny fragments lying on the ground. Moyuan sat still and watched her with a look of utmost patience, completely indifferent to the sight of her demolishing his possessions.

“I don’t care what it is that you want to explain! I will not listen to anything…”

“Yes, you will,” he said plainly, “I’m afraid this is an argument you are not going to win. So, the sooner you let me begin, the sooner you can walk out that door and never have to look at me again.”

Bai Qian couldn’t help but notice the slight bitterness in his voice. But she did not care to interpret Moyuan’s tone anymore. She ran to the door and reached for the handle.

But she could not, her hand was thrown backward the moment it got close to the wooden handle.

A shield spell had been placed in front of the door.

Bai Qian breathed out in anger, tears shooting out of her eyes. And the next thing she knew, she was blasting forces at the door and bursting into speech. Insults came out of her one after another so quickly and loudly that it was possible Moyuan did not fully understand any of them, though she felt he got the general idea.

After several unsuccessful attempts to counter the spell and feeling that the door had gotten enough and that it wasn’t going to budge no matter what she did, Bai Qian came to an abrupt stop. Breathing heavily, she closed her eyes, wiped the tears on her face with her hands and slightly sobbed, her ears still ringing.

She walked back to the platform and took the seat on the other side of the table, annoyed to see Moyuan’s lips curling at her attempt to stay as close to the edge as she could.

He looked at her for a considerable while. Bai Qian briefly ran her hand across her face and hair to make sure there was nothing for him to tease her about. Yehua had stared at her this way many times, when she had asked him why, he would sincerely praise her look. Though with Moyuan, she suspected it could just be that there was some dust on her nose or that her hair was undone.

“I will not deny it,” he began, “the fault is mostly mine.”

A brief silence went by. When Bai Qian saw Moyuan looking away from her face, she quickly sneaked a glance at him.

“You are not very attuned to subtlety, it is one of the traits that reflects itself in your abysmal performance in Philosophy and Meditation.”

Bai Qian’s mouth fell ajar. She had now started to wonder if Moyuan had any idea how apologizing worked.

“It is entirely my fault for assuming that you would be able to draw a conclusion from the implications,” he said, noticing her reaction.

“I owed you an explanation so there it is,” he continued. “There are certain declarations I’d rather not make, certain questions I’d rather not ask unless I already know the answer. That is the reason why I hadn’t said a word to your during your long years at Kunlun before the Great Battle. I thought it would be inadvisable to burden you with what was supposed to be my responsibility. I thought that given enough time, everything would assemble itself.” He sighed, “there were instances that we came quite close to the subject, but I convinced myself again and again that you were too young to understand and that you might react frantically.”

Bai Qian narrowed her eyes and uncomfortably shifted in her seat; it seemed to her that Moyuan was pointing out that he had been right all along.

“But again,” Moyuan sat up a little straighter, “we are not here so you can listen to me defend myself, we’re here to talk about you.”

While he was looking quite relieved to end the subject, Bai Qian sighed wearily.

“You’re going to talk about how I’ve been behaving, aren’t you? Why I took it out on you when it’s obviously not your fault? If that is why you brought me here, then just name my punishment and be done with it because I’m not about to apologize...”

“A little patience, please, Seventeenth,” he said plainly. “Yes, we will discuss the way you’ve been behaving. Zheyan, your brother, and perhaps your niece too are all wondering why your anger towards me hasn’t subsided. They couldn’t find an explanation, so I thought I’d give it a try.”

Bai Qian raised her eyebrows - was this some sort of game to him?

“But I think I should make myself clear before we continue - I do not blame you for behaving this way. The fact that you want to fly at me and attack me only proves that I have done my job right. And I am nothing but pleased to earn your wrath.”

At this, Bai Qian found herself leaning closer to the table with her eyes growing wider. For once in the whole evening, she was neither bored nor irritated.

“You didn’t rage at me because you don’t care, you did so because you care too much, more than you should. Because you are every bit as responsible and thoughtful as you were brought up to be. Because I'm a reminder of the pain you've caused Yehua. Because underneath the stubbornness and the - well - inability to recognize sophisticated distinctions, you are my disciple.”

“So, quite similar to your seniors, you tend to conform to the same method of dealing with crisis where it concerns the well-being of your loved ones. I've taught you to think, to consider the consequences of your action, to put the welfare of others above your own, to be courageous and confront the challenge, be it on the battlefield or simply in your daily life. So why would I disapprove of your action when that is precisely how I have taught you to act?”

Bai Qian stared at him, her lips compressed. Despite the sarcastic remark Moyuan had just snuck into his speech, he seemed to be making a solid point.

“You seem unconvinced.” Moyuan tilted his head, his eyes glittering. “Let me tell you again from the beginning then.”

“The moment you became aware of the truth, you put the blame on yourself, exhausted yourself with the feeling of guilt because you knew, you knew that eventually, someone, possibly more than one person, would get hurt. You worried about how your father would face the Celestial tribe, how Yehua and I would face each other, and what Prince A-li would think of you and Yehua.”

“But you are not made of stone, there is a limit to your capability,” he continued. “When you felt the weight crushing on your shoulders, you unconsciously looked for someone to blame besides yourself - because then more than ever, you needed to be of sound mind to determine what to do next. You could not blame Zheyan and your father for arranging your marriage engagement, it wasn’t their fault. You could not let your brother take responsibility because he merely offered you advice, not instructions. You could not let your seniors worry. You could not display weakness in front of your niece because she looks up to you.”

“So naturally,” there was a hint of amusement in his voice, “the most logical choice is me. You choose to let me be on the other end of your fury and take the full force of your outrage because you know I can, because it is an easy choice. And with the brain-wrecking decision you would have to make soon, there is no shame in desiring something easy. You've seen with your own eyes many times how I deal with spite and insensitivity. Most of the times, they would simply bounce off me, would they not? So what's the harm in inflicting on me a tiny amount of the pain you are feeling? Childish? Perhaps. But not entirely insensible.”

“And of course, your exasperation only intensified with the way I reacted to your anger. You hated it. You hated that I was able to keep my emotions in check while you couldn't. You despised my chuckles to your attitude and provoking questions, my refusing to give what was, in your opinion, a ‘proper response’ to your outburst. When this was a discovery that turned your world upside down, I seemed to remain untroubled, which you took as a great insult. Right at this moment, you also hate me because I seem to be continuing what you have labelled a ‘noble mission’.”

“And after a while,” he smiled, “you forgot the initial reason of your anger and just simply reminded yourself to be angry whenever you see me.”

“Am I right, Seventeenth?” Moyuan asked after a long silence.

Bai Qian was at loss for words. The simplest and most honest answer would be ‘yes’, that she felt as though the enormous rock on her shoulders had been lifted and her threads of thoughts had been untangled, but she did not want to give it. Her breathing was becoming short. She stood up and took a few steps away from the dais.

“I don’t…”

“Do you understand now?”

Bai Qian frowned - she hadn’t expected to be questioned.

“Are you saying that…,” she stuttered, struggling to form a reply, “that... you don't care… you don’t mind… that it’s fine...”

“I do care,” Moyuan stood and stepped towards her, “I care a great deal. But no, I absolutely do not mind.”

“You feel you cannot allow yourself any happiness because you have deprived Yehua of his. Yet you are not cowering in a corner of your cave and blinding your mind with wine. Instead, you have chosen to thrive for a solution, hopefully a solution that would cause the least damage to those whom you care about.”

“And if the result is simply me receiving some spiteful remarks from you then so be it. You told me that evening in the wine cellar that you were taking on a task I had neglected. I certainly will not make any assumption from your statement, but if this anger is a reflection of your caring, then carry on. Because I expect no less of you.”

It took Bai Qian a while to notice Moyuan was now standing so close that she was having to look up at him.

“You’ve made me out to be more heroic than I really am, Shifu,” she said bitterly, sniffling.

Moyuan did not reply. She brushed her hand across her nose and kept her eyes on the ground.

“It seems I have missed something. Perhaps another reason why you have been so furious lately?” he asked, though it didn’t sound like an actual question, but rather something he had not been certain enough of to mention.

“W - why…” Bai Qian gasped, looking up “why do you…” Amid her uncontrollable sobbing, she saw Moyuan briefly move his arm forward, but then he simply closed his fist and brought it back to his side.

“Why... do you have so little regard... for your own heart?” She said at last.

A long silence encircled them, one that was not unpleasant but quite the opposite.

“The same can be asked about you,” answered Moyuan. He reached up to near Bai Qian’s left shoulder, gently pressed his palm against where her scar was, his dark eyes boring into hers. “Sometimes it doesn't matter much if our own heart bleeds, does it?”

At the end of his reply, Moyuan quietly waved his other hand, his gaze still fixed on her face. Bai Qian heard a small click behind her. She turned around to see the door had been unlocked.

Bai Qian realized she had forgotten that just a short while ago, she had been desperately wanting to leave the room.

Moyuan removed his hand from her shoulder. For an extensive while, they looked at each other. Bai Qian wondered if he would want her to remain a little longer, but she could not bring herself to ask, neither was she able to tell from his inscrutable eyes, she never had been able to.

So, quietly she stepped away from him and exited, avoiding the debris of the teacups lying near the door.