Sunday, January 27, 2013

[Fanfic] Bu Bu Jing Xin II Chapter 3

                                                                                           poster credit to owner

Chapter 3: Buried Time
It had been three days now since I saw Fourth-no, Zhenqing. These three days past by quickly and peacefully and I took comfort in that. Though, if I was being completely honest, there was a part of me that was disappointed. Fortunately, my work had been increasingly busy, leaving me little time to think about anything else.
“I’m so glad it’s Friday,” Xiang Xiang, my colleague, exclaimed, “These past few days have been hell.”
“I know!” Tong Lei, another colleague, chimed in, “I hate tax season. People just come to us at the last minute, expecting us sort out the messes they’ve been accumulating all year. The last woman I met bought in three boxes of paperwork. I seriously wanted to throw them back at her.”
“Don’t let Manager Hu hear you,” I teased
Tong Lei made a face, “Of course not. Could you just hear him now?” she mimicked his voice, “The client is king, therefore we must treat them as such. Three boxes of paperwork mean three boxes of money. We should be grateful.
I couldn’t help but laughed along at her imitation. Our manager was a decent enough guy, but, in front of clients, he could be a bit of a brown noser.
“I say we need a drink,” Xiang Xiang declared, “How about going to happy hour tonight?”
Tong Lei immediately agreed whereas I shook my head regretfully.
“I can’t,” I said, “I hadn’t been able to go home for dinner for a while because of work. I promised my mom I’ll be there tonight.”
Xiang Xiang nodded in understanding before turning to our other colleague.
“Xiao Man, what about you?”
Xiao Man looked up, “I think I’m going to pass too. I don’t feel too well.”
“Are you alright?” I asked
She smiled, “Yes, I think it’s just a cold. Nothing a nice relaxing weekend can’t fix.”
Manager happened to walk out of his office at this time.
“I’m looking forward to the weekend too,” he said, “But be sure to finish all of your work first. Remember, the client is king. We shouldn’t keep them waiting.”
Somehow, we all managed to wait until he was out of sight before erupting into giggles.
“So I heard you went to the University a couple of days ago,” my dad said over dinner that night
I looked up, “Yes. Ge told me about their new exhibit and I went to take a look.”
“But you didn’t even drop in to say hi to your old dad,” he said calmly
I winced. So this was where this was going.
“I’m sorry,” I apologized, “It was late when I was done. I didn’t know if you were still there.”
 “You could have told me in advance,” my dad pointed out, “We could have gone to the exhibit together.”
The truth was I had planned to visit him, but seeing Kai Ming had thrown me off course. I couldn’t say that, of course. I shot my brother a look.
“Xiao Xiao probably didn’t want to interrupt your work, Dad” Ge’ge quickly said, taking my hint, “But don’t you have a special lecture on Monday? Xiao Xiao, why don’t you go? It’s been a while since you attended one of dad’s lectures. It’s at six, so that gives you plenty of time to get there from your workplace- Oww!”
I kicked him under the table. So much for helping me.
“I can’t,” I said, turning to my dad with the most pitiful look I have, “There’s a work conference that I have to attend that day, which doesn’t end until eight.”
My dad didn’t answer, only continued to eat his dinner silently. I glared at my brother, who just gave me a sort of helpless shrug.
“Well,” my mom said, “both of you should find some time to attend one of your dad’s lectures, or else, you wouldn’t have the chance to later.”
“What do you mean?” Ge’ge asked
My mom smiled triumphantly, “Your father is going to retire after this semester!” she announced
Ge’ge and I looked at each other in shock. My mom had been nagging for my dad to retire since forever, but he had always found some reason or another to delay it. It looked like he finally ran out of excuses.
“Really?”  I said, still surprised
“Yes,” my dad mumbled, “I turned in my resignation today.”
Ge’ge looked at me. At least we now knew why Dad was in such a bad mood tonight.
“So are you two finally going on that trip all around the world like you planned?” Ge’ge asked
“We’ll see when the time comes,” my mom answered simply, but I saw the furtive glance she and my dad gave me.
I sighed inwardly. They were still worried.
“You should,” I said, smiling brightly, “That way, when I have a break, I can go visit you wherever your latest exotic location is.”
My mom smiled back at me, seemingly more assured.
“That’s not fair!” Ge’ge declared, “How can the three of you vacation by yourself when I have to slave myself over here?”
I stuck out my tongue at him, “That’s your own fault. Who told you to be a doctor? Now you have to face the consequences of your actions.”
Ge’ge opened his mouth to reply but my mom cut him off,
“Now, now children. No fighting at the dinner table.”
Though her tone was chiding, I could hear the happiness in it, and saw the warm look she exchanged with my dad. Their daughter was finally coming back.
This was the first weekend since I woke up from my coma that I felt restless. Usually I could sit hours alone without doing anything. But now, I felt the urgent need to go out, to be with people.  Unfortunately, it was easier said than done. I didn’t keep in touch with any of my friends from before the accident and haven’t made any new ones since. Though my co-workers and I got along well, we still weren’t close enough that I could call them out of the blue. With my parents visiting their friends and my brother at work, I really had no one else. Though… I looked at my desk. There were two numbers I could call. I turned the thought over and over in my head, but in the end, I couldn’t do it. I should not bother them. They were happy, normal people. Having me in their lives would do no good. Perhaps by removing myself from the picture, I could stop the same tragedy from occurring. But, if the one I was fighting against was Heaven itself, could I possibly win?
It was Monday again and I was back at work. Having no places to go and no one to meet, I actually managed to finish the projects I had on hand. I was about to go into Manager Hu’s office to let him know when he walked out.
“Listen guys,” he said, clapping his hands, “I have some bad news. Xiao Man called in this morning. It turned out she has swine flu.”
We looked at each other in shock.
“Is she OK?” Tong Lei asked
Manager Hu nodded, “It looks like she’s going to be fine, but she is going to be out for at least two weeks.  I would recommend everyone here to get a check up just in case. It’s not very likely that you’re infected, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.”
He looked around, “Now, work-wise, we need to do some rearranging. Zhang Xiao, I know you have some background in management accounting, would you mind taking over the Tse Corps project?”
“No, it’s fine,” I said, “But I know that the cost analysis for that account is due by the end of the day today and I have to go to that conference with Xiang Xiang in a little bit.”
“I can go by myself,” Xiang Xiang offered, “It’s basically just the same thing every year anyway.”
 “That sounds good,” Manager Hu said; he turned back to me, “How far along are you on your other accounts, Zhang Xiao?”
“I’m actually finished with both of them.”
 “Really? That’s great.” He thought about it for a minute, “How about this then? Don’t accept any new clients for now. I want you to take over all of Xiao Man’s current projects. What do you think?”
I nodded, “I can do that.”
“Great!” Manager Hu said enthusiastically, “That all works out then. Let’s get back to work.”
With that, he turned and walked back in his office.
“Wow,” Tong Lei said to me, “How did you finished your accounts so fast? I’m envious.”
“It’s a side effect of having no life,” I replied, “Nothing to be envious about.”
Tong Lei smiled, “In that case, you have to come with us to happy hour next time.”
“That’s right,” Xiang Xiang piped up, “We’re going to have to stop you from being so efficient at work. It’s not healthy.”
I laughed, agreeing.
As I didn’t have to go to the conference, I was able to leave work with enough time to go to my dad’s lecture. Unfortunately, I didn’t factor in the traffic and only arrived after the lecture had already started. I snuck in the back and sat down. With the size of the room and the number of people, I doubt my dad could see me. This reminded me of when I was still a student, how, if I had time, I would also sneak in my dad’s class like this. Watching my dad stand in the middle of the huge lecture hall, speaking to hundreds of students, had always gave me a sense of pride. For the longest time, I thought I would become a Chinese Philosophy professor like him. However, I realized I didn’t have the patience to be a good teacher and my interest in the subject only extended so far. I was much better with numbers and found it less frustrating. I expected my dad was quite disappointed when I changed course, but, being the great dad he was, he never expressed it and supported me fully.
The philosopher my dad was talking about today was Ruan Ji, one of the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove. My thoughts naturally turned toward Thirteenth prince. That day, the second time we drank together, how fervently did he and I discussed the philosophy of Ji Kang, with Luwu laughing besides us. Which of us knew then that it would be the last time? Thirteenth prince. Out of all of us, he was the only one who knew how to love, and how to let go.  Where was he now? Was he happy? Was he still with his favorite brother? No, Zhenqing stated he was the only child, so that was impossible. But, the bond between them wasn’t something that could be so easily broken, either by Time or Fate.
Shattering applauses broke through my thoughts and I realized the lecture was over. I stayed in my seats and waited as people filed out. Walking down, I noticed some students coming up to my dad and smiled to myself. My dad might not be the most riveting professor here, but his passion for teaching made him a favorite among his students. He was talking with someone when he finally noticed me.
“Xiao Xiao?” he called, happily surprised
The person he was talking to also turned around and my smile froze upon seeing who it was. Kai Ming. He looked as shocked at seeing me as I was him. It wasn’t that I didn’t consider the possibility of running into him on campus, but I thought that since this lecture hall was far from the Literature wing, the likelihood of it wouldn’t be very high.
“What you doing here?” my dad asked, oblivious to the situation
I turned to him, “I…uh…I wanted to surprise you.”
He beamed, “Come, I want to introduce you to someone,” he gestured toward Kai Ming, “This is Kai Ming. He’s the one who’s going to take over my job next semester. Kai Ming, this is my daughter, Zhang Xiao.”
“We actually already met,” Kai Ming said, smiling
“Oh?” my dad asked, glancing between us
“It was last week when I came to see the exhibit here,” I explained
“You never gave me that call,” said Kai Ming teasingly
I flushed, “Sorry. I meant to but I was just so busy…”
Kai Ming shook his head, smiling, “It’s alright. I figured that was the case.”
“Call?” my dad repeated
“I wanted to ask Zhang Xiao some help on the Qing Dynasty,” Kai Ming explained, “given her special interest in that era.”
My dad glanced back and forth between us again, and I could practically saw the wheels turning in his head.
“You have time now,” he said, “Why don’t you help him, Xiao Xiao?”
“Well…I…I thought we would go home for dinner together.”
“Oh, you should’ve called,” he told me, “Your mom and I are going out tonight,” he looked at Kai Ming, “Though I’m sure Kai Ming won’t mind taking you to dinner and giving you a ride home.”
I groaned inwardly; he was being as subtle as a flashing neon sign. Kai Ming smiled but didn’t say anything, only looking at me for my answer.
“Go on, Xiao Xiao,” my dad urged, “It’s better than eating alone in your apartment.”
Since when did my dad turned into my mom?
“Alright,” I said, partially just to stop him from saying anything worse, “If Kai Ming doesn’t mind.”
“He doesn’t!” my dad declared, “This is good. Well, I’ll see you kids later then.”
With a quick wave, he left in a hurry.
I sighed, turning to Kai Ming apologetically, “I’m sorry. Look, you don’t have to-“
“It’s alright,” he interrupted, “I really should treat you to dinner, given that I’m the one asking for a favor.”
I shook my head, “My dad is-“
“Just being a caring dad,” Kai Ming finished
I smiled at him gratefully
“So where do you want to go eat?” he asked
“The campus cafeteria is pretty good,” I answered, “Why don’t we just go there?”
He nodded and gestured for me to lead the way.
Peking University wasn’t well known for nothing. Everything from its dormitory to cafeteria was top notch. No stale or frozen foods were found here. Everything was fresh and made to order. It was no different from an upscale restaurant. Due to the number of students having to stay up late, the cafeteria was opened until midnight, later if it was exam week.
After making our orders, Kai Ming found us a free table.
“I thought you were in Chinese Literature,” I said as we sat down, “Why are you suddenly interested Chinese Philosophy?”
“I was always more interested in philosophy,” he clarified, “I was actually your dad’s teacher assistant. But when the Chinese Literature professor got ill, he convinced the university to give me the job temporarily. I can’t believe he’s recommending me for his job though. Your dad is really a great man.”
I nodded. That he was.
Changing the subject, I asked, “So what book are you lecturing about?”
Inner Chambers by Zhu Xi,” he responded, “It refers a lot to the Qing Dynasty palace’s customs, some of which I do not get.”
“Not that I mind,” I said, “But why didn’t you ask the Chinese History professor here?”
“Because he’s 70 years old and tends to fall asleep in the middle of a conversation,” he answered
Despite myself, I laughed, “I see. Well, I promised I won’t do that. So, ask away.”
Kai Ming smiled and reached into his briefcase to pull out some notes.
“I understand the basic structures of the jobs within the palace,” he said, “But there seems to be many subcategories in each job, and the social hierarchies don’t exactly fall into place.”
I thought of when I was the head tea officer, then to when I was a lowly laundry maid, and began to talk.
Our conversation lasted through the entire dinner. From it, I could see what an intelligent man Kai Ming was. He didn’t merely ask questions, but offered his own points and clarifications to dive deeper within the context. Sometimes, he would ask me to for my opinions, then give his own, backing them up with views from ancient philosophers. I realized what he meant by saying that he was more interested in philosophy. He didn’t just want to know about the routine lives of palace maids, but also their beliefs and how it compared to what they have been taught. His thirst for knowledge could rival that of my dad’s.
“Thank you for helping me,” he said as we were walking out
I smiled, “Thank you for dinner.”
When we got outside, I turned to him, “I can take a taxi,” I said, “It’s late. You should get home.”
He shook his head, “I wouldn’t feel right letting a girl go home alone when it’s this dark.”
 “I went home alone when it’s later than this before,” I told him
“But never when you’re with me,” he replied, “C’mon. My car is parked this way.”
He started walking before I could respond. Shaking my head, I followed him. When we reached the car, he opened the door for me to get in. I smiled at his gentleman gesture.
“Where am I taking you?” he asked
I gave him my address. Even as he started driving, I couldn’t believe I was actually in the car with him. I stared out the window. Lights passed us by and I was reminded of the time we spent on the grasslands, riding so fast that the scenery blurred behind us and the whole world ceased to exist except for us two. As much as I loved Fourth prince, our days together were never that carefree. I took a quick glance at Kai Ming. It wasn’t just his looks; the calm aura about him also resembled Eight prince. Well, the Eight prince who I first met. The Eight prince who thought I was crying and wanted to dry my tears. The Eight prince I last saw was too weary with life, his calmness a resignation. That Eight prince had dried my tears, tears shed for his fate, and mine, and what became of us. Tears for our final farewell, tears for apologies that were too late, for a love that wasn’t enough. I glanced at Kai Ming again. You’re happy now, right? You have to be. I looked back out the window. Lights filled what was once full of darkness. There was no longer an Imperial throne to fight for, no more traps to lay or evade, no more burdens to carry; love and hatred were both forgotten. I closed my eyes. In the end, the only one who still remembered was me.
“Do you live with your parents?” Kai Ming asked, shaking me out of my reverie
I sat up, startled, “No,” I answered, “But my apartment is very near to their house.”
“That must be nice,” he stated, “Being so close to them.”
“It is,” I replied, then asked, “What about you? Do you live with your parents?”
He paused for a second before answering, “My parents both have passed away. I do live with my little sister though.”
I immediately felt bad for asking, and worse for feeling a bit relieved “I’m sorry.”
 “It’s not that bad. She’s a little messy but I can handle it.”
I stared at him for a second before laughing. He grinned at me.
“I heard you have an older brother,” he said
 “Yes,” I answered, “He’s a doctor in orthopedic surgery at Beijing Jishuitan Hospital.”
 “I know,” Kai Ming said, smiling, “Your dad brags a lot.”
“My brother does have many accomplishments,” I said
Kai Ming frowned, “It’s not just your brother,” he said, “He brags about you too.”
“Really?” I asked, a little surprised
He nodded, “Your dad told me about how hard you studied in school and how hard you work now. He talked about how intelligent you are, how independent, how kind,” he looked at me, “All of which I completely agree with.”
I blushed slightly, not knowing how to respond. Luckily, at that moment, we have arrived at my apartment.
“Thank you for the ride,” I said as the car slowed to a stop
“Wait. Zhang Xiao?”
I turned to him. He seemed to be debating something for a minute before asking,
“Do you think…Could I get your number?”
I stared at him.
“Just in case I have any more questions.” he added on quickly
Unable to say no, I nodded as I reached inside my purse to get a pen and paper to write my number down. He smiled so brightly as I handed it to him that I paused for a second. But it was too late to change my mind so I merely handed it over and said my goodbyes as I get out of the car. Walking to my apartment, I couldn’t help but wondered if I had just made a huge mistake.
We are not fated in this lifetime. Everything shall continue in the next.
A/N: I don’t know if anyone remembers, but the last sentence was said by Eight prince the last time he and Ruoxi saw each other. Fourth prince supporters, fear not, he will reappear very soon.


  1. Waiting for the 4th prince.....

  2. new chapter is here! Finally they met. I wonder when she will meet 14th prince. He is very charming though.

  3. I'm disappointed to see that this story will probably revolve mainly around 4th and 8th Princes' relationships with Ruo Xi..I adore 14th Prince more than those two. You write well.