Fanfiction: The Moon Mirror (Pojing & Bai Qian Alternative Ending) - Chapter 13 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)


Chapter 13

written by LalaLoop
edited by Kakashi
consulting by Bunny



It was still dark when Bai Qian opened her eyes, so dark she had no idea about the time. But several hours had passed, she was sure of that. Perhaps the entire night had passed. She sat curled up underneath her thick cloak, resting against something soft and curiously warm. She blinked to clear her vision; and in the dark, her eyes made out something -- rosettes.

Bai Qian’s heart skipped a beat when it dawned on her that what felt like a luxurious fur pillow she’d been sleeping against was the side of a leopard. Heat crept up her neck and flared underneath her cheeks instantly.

He must have transformed some time during the night, she didn’t remember being in this position at all when she’d first fallen asleep. Bai Qian scooted a little to the front -- half mortified, half giddy -- digging herself closer to him so that there was no gap between them for the cold air to slip in, and reached up, the length of her arm barely covering the curve of his neck. His foreleg moved in response and he growled, head turning sideways in her direction.

“Nothing,” she said, her breaths forming puffs of steam in the air. “It’s just -- really cold.”

He shifted and turned a bit more until their eyes met. There was an agonized yearning etched on his face, along the scars that spoke more of the past battle than any report ever could. He brushed his head up against her face once. Bai Qian smiled, shivering as the ice crystals on his forehead tingled her skin.

He went back to gazing at the cave’s entrance that had been magically sealed and she to resting beside him.

The storm a few hours ago had been detrimental. They had attempted to get back to Xunzhua’s palace, but a few hundred miles away from the safehouse the earthshaking thunders and the unyielding winds had been spreading and made it impossible to cloud-jump without being struck down or swayed off course. So they had decided to wait for a while inside this shallow cave.

Bai Qian sat still, listening to the leopard’s curiously fast pulse that completely contradicted the calmness he wore.

There was something about the presence of his true form that made her feel both safe and nervous, a power driven by a kind of intelligence she could not understand. But being this close to him, without their status and positions to keep in mind, there was one thing she understood very well: the splendour of Xunzhua, the throne room and weapons and powerful shields were not quite his world. This was -- the untamable storms, these bare rock shelters, the path on the snow marked only by his paw prints.

“Does this usually happen to you?” she asked. “Getting stuck in a storm while trying to get back from your research hideout?”

He transformed, quick and sudden; and Bai Qian shortly found herself holding onto him around his midriff, her cloak sliding off her shoulders.

“Sometimes,” he said. “Though never with a pampered fox falling asleep on my back.”

Not so pensive anymore, is he, Bai Qian rolled her eyes. “Give me a warning the next time you switch form, will you.”

When she let go, he got on one knee, picked up the thick cloak and wrapped it back around her.

“Slept well?”

“Erm…”

She had slept well, even if it had only been for a few hours. A part of her wanted to go back to sleep so badly, to stay here with him and away from everything else for a while longer. Although, when Bai Qian looked up, she saw an irritating old smirk on Pojing’s face that made her want to shove him out in the snow.

“There’s no need to look so smug, you know,” she shot up, fixing the cloak while fuming down at him. “I’m quite sure you’re as confused about all of this as I am.”

“No,” he chuckled, rising from the ground. “You might be confused, I am not.”

When Bai Qian didn’t respond, he peered into her and gently gripped her chin. “It seems that the more time you spend thinking, the more puzzled you become. Just what are you still confused about?”

“Not about last night.”

“I should hope not,” his shoulders shook with laughter that burned her face.

“Oh, shush -- what is there to laugh about?”

“Tell me, what is it then?”

Bai Qian sighed, her brows pulled together tight. “It’s just… A few days ago I was at Qingqiu, planning out what I would say and do if I had to see you again, and now I’m here.”

“Ahh. It’s the pace at which things are moving that troubles you.”

“I tend to question myself whenever I come to a decision too quickly.”

“I beg your pardon, I’m not accustomed to Qingqiu’s way. If there’s a specific number of millennia I should wait before expecting an answer from you regarding my offer, do let me know.”

Bai Qian scowled, “Thank you for reminding me that the obnoxious prick I met in the Nine Heavens is still there whenever you need to call upon him. Things were beginning to be so pleasant with you that it scared me.”

“You know you have no basis for calling me obnoxious except for the fact that I'm not as easily bullied as your past suitors."

How great it would feel if she could shout at him that she had never bullied anyone in her life, but Bai Qian had to admit he was not entirely wrong there.

“They aren’t easily bullied,” she mumbled. “They just know that courteousness is not a bad thing.”

His laughter once again echoed across the cave. Bai Qian averted her eyes, not wanting to let him know how safe and strong the sound of that carefree laughter made her feel, even if it was also making her blood rise.

But just when she was about to walk away, firm arms were around her and she found herself gathered tightly against him. The last trace of the earlier swagger disappeared from his face, his eyes searching hers intensely.

“Putting all that aside,” he whispered. “Are you sure?”

Bai Qian hesitated to respond, not because she was unsure -- gods, how could she be? -- but because it suddenly struck her now what she had become to Pojing and what he, in turn, meant to her. She was never more sure.

“Yes,” Bai Qian said. “Quite.”

His embrace was an unyielding wave that engulfed her completely. Bai Qian took a deep breath and buried her face deeper into his chest, letting herself be swept up in this irresistible feeling brought about by his presence, this icy cold weather and the fact that they were both hundreds of miles away from their responsibilities.

The next minute, she drew herself straight and looked towards the flickering shield at the entrance. It was still pitch black outside and the winds were still hurling their damaging forces in all directions. Although it did look a lot better than when they’d first left the safehouse.

“Do you think it’s safe to leave yet?”

“I believe so,” Pojing said, slowly letting go of her and striding over to inspect the situation outside the shield.

Bai Qian walked to his side, noticing a foreboding expression that cast a shadow over his eyes.

“I have to see this through,” she said quietly. “I need to know… that the magic Lord Donghua spoke of can be done, I need to see for myself that Shifu is well.”

“What if he can’t be brought back?” Pojing spoke out loud what she had been so afraid of. “This miracle magic you and the Heavenly Emperor are counting on -- it isn’t a certainty.”

Bai Qian looked back into the dark outside. “I know failure is a possibility, but I can’t think about it now.”

“Just promise you won’t try to kill yourself for him again. For my peace of mind, if nothing else.”

Bai Qian faltered. She couldn’t imagine herself not doing everything in her power for Moyuan’s safety and well-being, she had been doing so for so long it was almost impossible to separate her own identity from it. But things were no longer the same, and with that notion came new understandings, new boundaries she must keep in mind.

Furthermore, what kind of a queen would she be to her own people, what kind of Kunlun student would she be if she insisted on placing one man above all things, no matter the cost, and insisted on being the same Siyin she’d been 70,000 years ago?

Looking into the King of Xunzhua’s eyes, Bai Qian said assuringly, “I won’t do anything of the sort.”

His hand enclosed hers in a tight grip.

“Come then, I will take you back.”