Fanfiction: The Moon Mirror (Pojing & Bai Qian Alternative Ending) - Chapter 1 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)


Chapter 1 

written by LalaLoop
edited by Kakashi   
consulting by Bunny


* This chapter takes place after the chess game at Shaowan’s mortal cottage at the end of chapter 10 part 5 of Moyuan and Bai Qian, following Bai Qian’s escape from the Arctic Prison.

When Bai Qian woke from her uncomfortable rest, her neck slightly hurt. She had dozed off at the table in the front yard, right on the wooden chessboard, Moyuan’s heavy coat spread over her.

It was still dark, but by the chirping sounds around, Bai Qian knew it wouldn’t be long until the sun rose. She sat up, massaged her neck and glanced around.

Maybe Moyuan had gone for a walk like he always did?

The cottage’s front door creaked open and Pojing quietly stepped out. Bai Qian let out a long sigh and removed the coat. It was time to leave.

“Where is the God of War?” Pojing asked as he walked over to her.

“I don’t know,” she cast another look around. Was he not even going to say goodbye?

“We’ll leave when you’re ready.”

Bai Qian nodded. “I won’t be long.”

She strode inside the cottage and as silently as she could, acquired some tea leaves from the cupboard. Then she lit the stove to boil some water.

Whatever happens in the mortal realm stays in the mortal realm, Bai Qian recited in her head as she watched smoke rising from the pot. In the mortal realm, a mortal woman had helped them and given them shelter, the least she could do was thank her.

Bai Qian poured the hot water over the leaves, washed them once then let them steep in the small teapot. It would be a while before the Demon Queen woke up, and the tea would have gone cold by then, but she would know.

A series of familiar chirps sounded at the gate. Bai Qian peered out the window – Moyuan had just come back and the little sprite was hovering nearby. She saw Pojing walk over to him and, to her surprise, begin saying something.

Neither man looked pleased about the other’s presence, but they seemed to contain it well.

Bai Qian moved on to put the tea tray squarely on the wooden stand in front of the bedroom, pulled out the map the woman had given her the other day from her sleeve pocket and slipped it under the pot.

Where’s my coat? She looked around the cottage but didn’t see it. Quietly, Bai Qian stepped out, closed the door behind her, dreading the prospect of leaving this peace she’d submerged in for the last few days behind, but at the same time dying to know whether Yehua and A-li were safe.

She strode over to the two men at the same time they seemed to be done talking, catching sight of her coat in Moyuan’s hand. Pojing walked past the gate and disappeared into the morning mist. The tip of the sun was illuminating a small corner of the sky.

“What did Pojing say?” she asked Moyuan.

“He thanked me.”

Bai Qian imagined it hadn’t been a pleasant conversation, especially when the last time they’d met, they and Yehua had nearly knocked the life out of one another.

“Seventeenth,” said Moyuan, his expression hardened. “What I told you yesterday is all I can afford to reveal at this time.”

Bai Qian nodded. That didn’t mean she had to be satisfied with it and wait around for more. As if reading her mind, he continued.

“Please don’t put yourself in danger, whatever you do.”

Says the man who courts danger for a living, she wanted to say. But again she only nodded.

He came closer and placed the coat around her, tying the knot at her collar.

“Is there anything you wish to tell me?”

She wanted to go wherever he went, to get to the bottom of this, to say that she was only trying her best to hurt him at Kunlun and that she hadn’t really meant those things. But Bai Qian didn’t believe now was the time for any of that, they would need more than a few rushed minutes if they were to address what had happened at Kunlun.

She glanced over at the wooden chessboard with black and white pieces all over the place. “I don’t want you to die.”

He smiled. “It is too soon into this battle to die.”

It could have been a joke, Bai Qian couldn’t tell. All she knew was that he was about to be out of her reach again for gods know how long. And it killed her to leave with still so many unanswered questions.

“Anything else?” he asked.

She knew what he was asking. But there was no answer she could give. Things were a blurry jumble in her head.

“No, Shifu.”

She felt his fingers constrict on her shoulders. There was a slight pull of his hand. But before Bai Qian could begin to wonder if that meant anything at all, he let go. “Be safe.”


***


The second Bai Qian arrived next to Pojing, he pointed to the vague outline of the landscape in the distance.

“We can walk to the hill over there and take turns to cloud-jump.”

They said nothing to each other on the way. Occasionally, she glanced over to make sure he was still able to keep up and that his arm was still properly bandaged; because Pojing seemed more concerned about getting as far away from the cottage as possible than his condition.

“It’s good here,” said Bai Qian when they arrived at the top of a green hill. There was no sign of mortals around.

Pojing took her hand and cloud-jumped in an instant.

He breathed in deeply when they landed, clearly still affected by his injuries. But the distance they had put between themselves and the mortal cottage seemed to please him.

“We can keep going,” he said.

They took turns to cover the next few thousand miles and in the end reached an area where night had fallen -- a small forest clearing with a thin river running across its centre and disappearing into the thick mass of trees on either side.

“Let’s take a break,” Bai Qian decided. They would have no trouble travelling at night but she didn’t want to test their strength before they had a proper rest.

Pojing let go of her hand. Only then did Bai Qian realize how tight his grip had been. She rubbed her numb fingers. The chill of the night descended upon them.

“I’ll gather some firewoods,” Pojing said.

“Your arm…”

“Needs some flexing.”

And he was off. Bai Qian sighed – as long as Pojing could move, one could not hope to make him stay in one place for long. She prayed he knew better than to undo all the work they had done to heal his horribly fractured bone.

Bai Qian found a large wood log nearby and settled down, casting some spells to detect dark magic in the area. Her power was not at its best, but the chance of being ambushed here was low. She doubted they would have to spend the night here, though the idea of a warm fire while resting was not so bad.

Pojing came back as quickly as he had gone.

With a glance at her, he sat down on a boulder opposite of her and made a fire from the twigs and logs he had gathered. The little sprite happily detached from Bai Qian’s hairpin and nudged at her for some of the food she had brought along. Then, realizing that there were no fruits in her sack, it flew away and started to examine the shrubs nearby.

When the little fire started to grow and the cracking sound became steady, Bai Qian thoughts zoomed back to that mortal cottage — this morning, the gentle touch on her shoulder, and what she had said to Moyuan.

She had been honest. She couldn’t answer the question he had asked her on their way to town the other day. And the more she thought about it, the more the answer that should have always been certain and ready slid away from her grasp. She couldn’t even settle her own turmoil.

She had told Yehua once that her life could not be separated from Moyuan, that no matter what trials life threw at her, she would always go back to him. Those were the words of a girl who would run to Zheyan to hide from the world’s troubles.

She had thought the Peach Blossom Forest was eternal, it was not. She’d believed Zheyan was untouchable by death, he was not. What else that she’d thought was permanent had left her?

“Tell me you are usually more vigilant when you travel alone,” Pojing said suddenly.

When Bai Qian looked up, he was walking over to her side.

“I was… just thinking,” she said, eyes following Pojing as he settled down right next to her on the old wood log.

“Of course, you always are. But we’re in the middle of nowhere, try to keep a sharp eye.”

Bai Qian pushed her thoughts away. He was right, spacing out while sitting in the middle of a forest wasn’t a good idea. She suddenly caught sight of his black belt and gestured at the place where she believed a large piece of white metal should have been, “wasn’t there something over the buckle?”

“I left it at the cottage,” Pojing said. “It’s solid silver, it should afford the mortal woman better food and warmer clothes this winter.”

“Oh.” She swallowed -- if Pojing ever found out who the woman really was...

“Did the God of War say anything about the hairpin?”

Bai Qian sighed. She’d known she couldn’t avoid this conversation. “No.”

“Hmm.” Pojing picked up a fallen branch and poked at the burning logs. “I assume he told you nothing concerning Luoji.”

“No, he didn’t say anything.” Technically. Bai Qian shifted uncomfortably in her seat. It ate at her conscience to hide something of this importance from him. But she needed to know more, to understand more before burdening her friends with the information.

“Why did he help us?” Pojing asked.

She thought for a second. “Because our existence doesn’t threaten him.”

“That hairpin is vital in bringing the love of his life back to the realms, and we took it away. Letting us go doesn’t seem like a good strategy at all for someone like him.”

Anger rang in Bai Qian’s ears to hear the Demon woman being called such, but she kept calm.

“Maybe because this is not a military mission,” she said slowly. “It’s a personal fight against the Sacred Laws. We broke into his home that day, he fought back, that was necessary. But the God of War would not resort to taking advantage of two weaker and undefended immortals to achieve his end.” She took a deep breath. “I believe that if he still wants that hairpin, he will try to take it from Xunzhua the way we took it from Kunlun – by employing his resources. And he will likely leave you a signed note for the record too.”

“So he is a criminal with a grand pride who knows the lines?”

Bai Qian shrugged. “You can say that.”

She felt Pojing’s eyes on her for another few seconds then he spoke. “Or maybe he has not utilized all of his resources because it’s you who stands against him.”

Bai Qian’s heart skipped a beat, her fingers curled on her lap as Pojing went on.

“I told you when we got back that night that I believed if the God of War had wanted to overpower me and his brother, he would have. I still think that’s true. Of course he stops short at harming his own brother and disciples, particularly the disciple he bestowed the Fan of Kunlun upon.”

She didn’t answer, unsure whether it was better to be honest or deny this statement.

“The mystery to me is why he let this opportunity pass so easily if the Demon Queen’s soul is so important to him,” Pojing eyes flashed. “There’s something we don’t know about that night the Phoenix High God was killed. And I suggest we get on with our investigation as soon as we’re back at Xunzhua.”

Bai Qian nodded, trying to keep a plain expression. There was such intensity in his voice that made her nervousness rise and she was only glad that they were on the same side.

“I want to know the whole truth as much as you do,” she said. “I can’t stop thinking about what we could have missed.”

“It’s a good thing, however, that you chose to put the item in our care, providing that the Ghost Princess has brought it into Xunzhua safely. No matter the circumstances, such a thing shouldn’t be in the hands of one individual alone. I will gladly take your advice and instruct Zhuowei to triple the security around her workplace when I get back. The God of War is not the only Celestial we need to protect it from. It would be a great embarrassment for us if it got stolen.”

“You know,” she observed. “The way you talk about weapons and these dangerous artefacts sometimes makes me think you want to rule the world.”

“Not rule the world, Queen of Qingqiu,” he smirked. “Just control a significant share of the world’s advanced weapons. And I’m not the only one in this race.”

Bai Qian concurred in silence. While she had been learning safely under her brother’s wing, others were claiming prizes on the world’s map. Was she ready to step out and join them?

“Did you like him?”

It was like someone had just clubbed her on the head, Bai Qian’s jaw fell and she turned to face Pojing, who was resting an elbow on his knee and peering at her.

“The God of War,” he clarified, as if it was necessary.

“Why…” she gaped, unable to convey her shock fast enough. “Why would you ask… Why?”

He shrugged, as if she was only confused about the instructions of a board game. “I might have heard a few things when we were at Kunlun that night.”

Bai Qian inhaled deeply in an attempt to calm herself. Sometimes she couldn’t deny the feeling of ease and security when Pojing was near, other times she wanted to choke him.

“Tell me if I’m wrong,” he continued casually. “But it looked as if your rage at him went deeper than a disciple’s disappointment in her master.”

Bai Qian felt as though she was being forced to sit on a bonfire – heat flared underneath her cheeks, her whole face felt like exploding. What a nosy, improper, shameless…

“You’re wrong,” she snapped.

“Oh,” he sat up straight, his irritating smile indicating little belief. But Bai Qian didn’t care, it was none of his business.

“Besides, it doesn’t matter,” she said. “I’m perfectly capable of making the right decisions regardless of my relationship with the God of War.”

“That I know. You’ve demonstrated it quite several times, and I respect you for it, truly.”

“If you respect me then here it is – I can live without your shameless interrogation.”

“Interrogation?” His brows raised. “I was only complimenting you. After all, I have put my life -- and with it, the future of my kingdom -- in your hands, Queen of Qingqiu. And you haven’t led us astray yet.”

“Thank you, but I don’t deserve that praise,” she rolled her eyes. “I’ve always had help, and I wish I didn’t have to be responsible for anyone at all, it feels like I’m trapped in endless trouble all the time.”

He threw a pebble into the fire. “Truthfully, I believe the real trouble so far lies in your choice of companion.”

“What?” Her forehead scrunched. “How?”

“So far you’ve had to cancel your engagement to a Celestial 70,000 years younger than you, another one who has lived through multiple reformations of the Nine Heavens is putting you through endless agony and confusion. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps associating with men your age would cause you less trouble?”

Bai Qian gasped, eyes widened. Was he calling her too young… and… and too old?

“You…” she bit down on her lip. “Sleep! Take the break you need so we can be on our way!”

“It’s all right, I don’t need to sleep –”

She shot up. “Do what you want, I don’t care!”

There was a ripping sound just when she took the first step away, Bai Qian whipped back to see the hem of her dress had been caught by the splintered end of the wood log and was now torn by several inches.

“Let me.” Pojing leaned over with an unsuppressed smirk on his face and attempted to reach the fabric with his unhurt arm, but she quickly stooped down to unhook it herself.

Shameless prick. The sooner we get back to Xunzhua, the better.

Bai Qian stormed away toward the river.

“Stay close,” his laughter chased after her. 

Chapter 2