This story is told from Bai Qian's point of view.
/.../ internal point of view
:: At Kunlunxe ::
The newly revived Mo Yuan and Bai Qian were once again together at the terrace of Kunlunxe. He was playing the zither, and she watching the stars as they always did in the past.
"Master," I began. "There is something I want to ask you for along time."
/ But you were away before. /
Master lips curved into small smile.
"Since when you don't speak out your mind, Seventeen."
"I am a respectable elder now, Master." I pouted. "I do think carefully before I speak, you know."
"Anyway Zhe Yan and Fourth brother both said you knew even back then that I was a girl. Is that true, Master? If so, why did you accepted me as your disciple then?" I wondered. This very question had been bugging me.
/ I always think you didn't know better. Am I wrong? Did You know the whole time that I am a girl. Is that why you always dote on me, Master? /
"What do you think of it?" The familiar sweet song continued to fill the night, as if it was just yesterday we sat here together and talked of anything and everything.
"I think that you don't want to upset my Mom and Dad. Am I right? And also to save Zhe Yan's face since he lied through his teeth in front of others for me," I concluded.
/ Well, I was nine out of ten confident that were the very reasons. /
Now that Master made such a sound. I did not know if it was a confirmation or denial. So I kept searching his face for clues.
"Little Seventeen," he prompted me out of my stupor. "This past 70,000 years, every day I work so hard to put my scattered spirit back together. Did you know why?"
/ I just asked him a question. He didn't even answered it properly. Now he turned it against me? /
"Because you told us to wait for you. And knowing you, you wouldn't have us all worried for long," I said knowingly.
"That is partly true," he conceded.
"There are other reasons?" I was now very intrigued.
I always pride myself on how well I know my Master's mind. Well, at least, among Kunlunxe disciples anyway. I dare not say I understand Master better than Zhe Yan who grew up with him.
/ And yet ... Is there something I didn't know? /
The song slowed down then halted. Master now shifted his focus onto me.
"Zhe Yan said you use your heart blood to keep my body pristine this past 70,000 years," he said thoughtfully then added. "And almost died in the process."
I lowered my head, to keep my redden face hidden from Master.
/ This is so awkward. /
"Zhe Yan is sure love to gossip," I mumbled.
Gently Master lifted my chin up. I can't help but to look straight into his eyes.
/ When did he moved? /
"Why did you take such extreme measure, little Seventeen, do tell?"
"It was not ...," I began but was promptly cut off.
"There are other options to consider, you know?" he said.
"I know that. At first, I went to Li Jing to ask for the Soul Jade," I squirmed a little before turning away from him.
/ Goodness. His staring was a bit too intense. /
"I was too innocent back then. I thought he would, for the sake of old times, gave it to me. But he was being a hypocrite. He lied outright that he lost it when he actually gave it to that traitorous Xuan Nu," I continued.
"At that time, I lost all hope and see no other way. I was already injured. I truly do not know how many days I could last, if I am to keep feeding you with my heart blood. So I drugged seniors and stole your body away that night. Then brought you back to Qing Qiu."
"Master, I beg for your forgiveness for such impudence," I bowed before him. "But I can't let go of you. I just can't. I refuse to let you taken away."
Few drops of tear escaped my lashes. Just thinking about losing him all over again, brought back the aged old heartache and the feeling of helplessness. I cannot help but sobbed a little.
"Little Seventeen, Master is not angry with you," he sat down and shifted me into his arms. "Zhe Yan and I had a long talk last night. He told me a lot of things."
I caught a slight tremor in his voice. Many thoughts seemed to flash across his mind. After a long silence, he continued. "And I would rather stay with you," he said softly. Too soft I almost did not hear him. Yet it had me trembled with emotions.
I knew back then by taking his body with me, I had broken lots of rules and offended great many people. It was his rights to be honored and forever worshiped by other deities and immortals. Blessed be the Nine Heaven Emperor did not send armies after me. Lord Siming let it slipped once it was Lord Dong Hua who suggested to let things settled down quietly.
/ I have to thank him profusely some day. Things would be a lot tougher back then, if I had to evade the Nine Heaven armies too. /
"You asked just now why did I accepted you into Kunlunxe back then if I knew the truth. Though your father and I were friends. That was not the reason. It was actually because of the Jade Purity Fan of Kunlun. It chose you as its master. I cannot allowed it to fall into outsider hands. So you became my disciple that day." he recounted the past, "Later, I learned it was fate that brought you to me."
I laid silently against Master, waiting for him to continue.
"You were so willful back then, you know?" he chuckled a little. "Always questions everything I said."
I tried to protest but he gave me a gentle pat on the head. I was able to calm down a little.
"But you also have a good heart and an honest person. You did everything with such a passion. Even if it brought you misery," he commented. "You always stay true to your heart."
/ He was right. Being who I am, I brought much misery on my own. To these days, I stilled cursed the day I met Li Jing. Had I not met him, things would not have turned out so badly. /
"I do not know ... when ... differently. Truth is I should not let it festered," he sighed.
Thoughts of the past had kept me fuming inside and missed a word or two Master said.
/ What did he said just now? / I raised up a little to chance a look at him.
His eyes were much darker than usual. They were filled with something. / But what? /
"When I looked upon you one last time before sacrificing my spirit to appease the Bell of East Emperor, I had a moment of weakness," he whispered. "Back then I asked you, little Seventeen, to wait for me. I was being selfish and unfair to you."
/ Did he just? Did he just said...? / I gasped inside. / Surely Master said that for all of us? Not me? /
"Every day, these past 70,000 years, I keep patching my spirit without rest. Normally I wouldn't even consider using Die Yong to anchor my spirit, but I have no choice. I can not bare to see you so down anymore. Do you understand what I am saying?" Master looked deeply into me. As if he want to see through my thoughts.
For once in my long life, I, Bai Qian, High Goddess and Queen of Qing Qiu, was truly speechless. I kept staring at Master's face. My mind already went blank. Well, not exactly blank.
/ He cannot possibly mean that... That! Really? /
An elation swept through me unbidden.
To say that I had never ever fancy Master as a woman would a determined, comely man would be like saying I am not a nine-tailed white fox. But he is indeed my Master. I dare not to further that thought. It would not lead to anything anyway. Or that was what I always thought.
But today for Master to voice his thought like this had me thinking. We have been parted for 70,000 years. A half of my lifetime. A lot of things have changed in these past 70,000 years. I am not that mischievous little fox anymore. Time had toned down my temperament. I had became more placate and thoughtful now. Yet one thing that was constant and true on my mind was waiting for his return.
/ Could we ...? /
/ But what if I misinterpreted his meaning? He always tried to cheer me up whenever I was feeling down. If I were wrong, then won't I truly embarrassed myself? Second Brother always scolded little Feng Jiu for that. This won't do at all. /
"Seventeen," he touched my face as if to rouse me. "You have been silent for a long time."
I am still a little apprehended with where that thought had led me. "Aren't you afraid I won't stop crying and yelling at you when you are awake?" I let my eyes roaming his face, trying to catch his eyes once again. "For keep me waiting for such a long time?"
He smiled a little then said, "I am more afraid if it takes another thousand years, you would be lost to me by then."
/ Master, don't you know. The only place I want to be is by your side. /
"I am not a thing to be misplaced. Nor a child. How can I possibly become lost," I sounded petulant even to my own ears.
"My little Seventeen has become so beautiful. Sooner or later someone will win you over. And you would not have time for your Master anymore," he said.
Those words made my heartbeat skipped a little more erratic.
"As if I would let them," I said in disdain. Truly across four seas and eight realms, I have yet to see someone worthy enough to gain my attention. Well, aside from the man who is holding me even now. But who else can compete against him?
/ Bai Qian, you truly handicapped yourself. /
"Oh? That must be grievous indeed. To stay single at you age," he said amused.
"Are you saying I am old woman now? Master, it is you who is ancient," I retorted hotly.
"I think not. You are 70,000 years older and I am still the same," for once he smiled rakishly.
I looked at him with wonder. Master was acting much joyous than ever. I hardly saw him this carefree. He even teased me. He must been in great mood since coming back to life.
"If you are picking on me, then I will leave." I tried to get up. "You must be tired anyway, it has been a long day."
"Stay with me a little longer, Seventeen. Master still wish to enjoy the night air," he sat unmoved.
/ You held me captive like this how can I move? /
Grudgingly, I sat back against him. It was not as if I have a choice, right? Secretly, I too want to cherish this moment. To be able to stay close to him once again, I, Bai Qian, has finally fulfilled my longest and deepest wish for all 70,000 years.
I do not know how long we stayed like that. Soon the breeze, his warmth and steady heartbeat lured me to sleep. I did not even stirred when Master brought me back to my bed that night. And I had yet to figure out if Master actually meant what I thought. It was both exhilarating and terrifying. I don't know where this new beginning will lead us on. But that was all right. We had the whole future to ourselves. All is good now.
:: End ::