Title: Bu Bu Jing Xin (Startling By Each Step)
Pairings: Kyuhyun centric, there will be various pairing/friendships, main wonkyu though hankyu, kyuhyuk, kyumin, changkyu also present. Also Hanchul, Eunhae, Minsu, and so many others I can't actually remember them all
Genre: Historical, humour, angst, romance
Warnings: There will be character death (near the end though), plus some characters will have really sad endings (for spoilers watch the drama!) and also will probably add smut sometime.
Summary: Kyuhyun gets hit by a car and wakes up not in the the body of a 25 year old computer analyst like he expected but in the body of a 16 year old noble boy in the Qing dynasty. Confused and annoyed he then ends up entangled in the lives of the Princes he had learnt about in history class, as well as one of the messiest battles for the throne in China's history.
A/N: This is a SuJu version of the drama Bu Bu Jing Xin. I don't know whether anyone has written one before, if they have let me know, I'd love to read it! I will be sticking to the plot quite closely, I am in no way amazing enough to think up all this, I will change some stuff and add side stories of some characters that I love to bits and wanted developing more. I have no idea why I decided to post this. I think my love for this drama and Kyuhyun one day decided to drive me crazy. Also this is betaed by my wonderful friend Miki.
Prologue / 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5
Kyuhyun had a lot to think about, he had a lot to be upset about, he had reasons for being depressed. He was stuck 300 years in the past, under the rule of a dictator who controlled could change someone’s life with one sentence. He wanted to be back in the modern day where he could do whatever he wished. He could control his own destiny, his own life. Here he was a puppet, a marionette for the amusement of the Emperor. They all were.
He stayed in bed, staring at the ceiling, willing the world to return to how it should be. He would wake up and be in the 21st century, all this would have been a bad dream. Maybe not completely bad: he remembered playing with Eunhyuk and Sungmin, spending time with ZhouMi. But if this was a dream, would he remember it, and if he did, would it drive him crazy, having been lost in a dream? He blinked and let the tears fall down his face as the feeling of being lost consumed him. He felt like a small child who had no clue what to do when he got separated from his mother; what was he supposed to do? He didn’t notice anybody entering the room until he felt hands softly tugging his hair as they brushed through it and the bed dipped as they sat next to him. “Did you like the Tenth Prince that much?”
“I did like him, but not the way you are thinking gege.” Kyuhyun continued to silently weep as Mi stroked his head. “I loved him as a friend. Why was he ordered to marry just like that? He doesn’t even like Donghae.”
“I know Kyu, I know.” Mimi soothed, “Like or dislike, it does not matter to the Emperor.”
“It was so sudden though,” Kyuhyun buried his head in Mimi’s lap as the other leant against the headboard, letting them both get into a more comfortable position.
“The Emperor never makes rash decisions; he had already planned to marry the two of them. He had the Ladies Yoona and Yuri aid him to make it seem like an impulse. It was to stop anyone from finding out and protesting before he made it an Imperial decree.”
“But why?” Kyuhyun asked stubbornly, like a child that didn’t want to admit defeat.
ZhouMi continued to run his fingers through his brother’s hair as he spoke, his voice laced with a sense of hopelessness and sorrow, “Everybody and everything is centred about the Emperor. He determines everybody’s position and station. You can’t fight against him, there is even less hope if you fight against him. You can only be at peace, unharmed, if you follow the rules that society and the Emperor lay for us.”
“It’s so unfair,” Kyuhyun wrapped his arms around Mimi’s waist, seeking comfort.
“I know Kyunnie, life’s unfair.” ZhouMi held the younger just as tightly as he was being held, silently crying along with him.
A few days later, when Kyuhyun had stopped crying his bitter tears, Sungmin approached him as he lay in the garden, looking up at the sky.
“Do you ever wish you could fly?” Kyuhyun started.
“No, flying is impossible. It is a waste to wish for impossible things,” Sungmin sat down next to his friend. He had come for a purpose.
“If I told you it was possible, if one day people could fly, would you believe me?” Kyuhyun looked at Sungmin curiously.
“You ask such strange questions,” Sungmin answered, not distracted from his task. “Will you visit Tenth brother?”
“Why? What’s wrong?” Kyuhyun sat up, facing his friend who looked anxious.
“He’s not been going to court. He sends word that he is unwell, but he is just drowning his poor luck. If is absent any longer Father will send the Imperial Physician and then he will get into trouble. Please go and see him,” he asked desperately. “He won’t listen to me, but he would listen to you. Everybody listens to you, he wouldn’t dare disobey,” a twisted smile adorned his face.
“That bad, huh?” Kyuhyun nibbled his lower lip and nodded his agreement.
Kyuhyun was escorted by Sungmin up to the door of Eunhyuk’s chambers, being directed inside after Kyuhyun waved Sungmin away, saying he would talk to Eunhyuk by himself. Walking in he was hit by the smell of alcohol and body odour, the prince hunched over a table with a selection of bottles before him.
“Tsk. If this is how you behave when you get engaged what will you be like when you are married?” Kyuhyun plopped down next to Eunhyuk causing him to sit up in shock, nearly falling backwards off his seat. He stared hard at Kyuhyun, sat against his side, close enough to touch, as if he was imagining him. “If cameras were invented I’d say to take a picture but unfortunately they’re not,” Kyuhyun grinned, trying to brighten up the sad room.
“I only ever understand half of what you say,” Eunhyuk mumbled, smiling weakly at Kyuhyun’s attempt at humour.
“I think you’re overestimating yourself again,” Kyuhyun teased, wishing that the smile would’ve grown instead of disappearing as quickly as it appeared. Eunhyuk avoided the younger’s worried eyes by looking straight forward.
“Why are you here?”
“Because someone has been avoiding their duties,” Kyuhyun spoke softly; Eunhyuk’s normally sunny expression being depressed had finally torn through his forced smile. When he got to reply he continued, “Does acting like this help? Making your brothers worry? Does it make anything better? Does it change anything?”
“No! But what do you know? Do you know what I’m thinking, I’m feeling?” Eunhyuk anger rose within him, lashing out at Kyuhyun.
“I know that you don’t like Kim Donghae, yet you will be marrying him in two months. I know that you like me, yet you cannot have me.” Kyuhyun whispered grasping onto the older’s hand as the man looked at him with tears in his eyes. Kyuhyun raised his free hand and brushed the tears that started to fall from the princes eyes, his situation couldn’t be changed, no matter how much he wished it to.
“Will you marry me anyway?” Eunhyuk had a desperate look in his eye, whispering, scared of the answer he knew he would receive, “If I asked you to be my Ce’fujin, would you say yes?”
“No,” Kyuhyun continued to hold his friends gaze, “You knew I would say no.”
“I know, but even if I had the tiniest chance, I had to ask.” Eunhyuk broke first, looking down at the clasped hands. “I knew you would’ve rejected being my Di’fujin as well.”
“I don’t think you would be happy in any form if you had both myself and Donghae as your wives,” Kyuhyun tried to joke, his eyes never leaving the elder’s face.
He looked up, returning the gaze once again, with a strange look that Kyuhyun couldn’t identify in his eyes, “I have always been the fool. I take longer to understand and I never remember like my brothers. Where they only have to read something once, I need to read it thrice and yet still do not understand nor remember. I don’t understand anything my father says, to me he speaks in riddles, while the others are all able to easily understand his mind. Only Eighth brother looks after me, he advises me, guides me. Everyone else laughs.” He continued to look straight into Kyuhyun’s eyes, trying to discern the others true feelings, “Do you think I am foolish?”
“Yes, you are,” causing Eunhyuk to look broken. “But it is because of you are foolish that I really like you. I like to play with you and tease you. You act happy when you are happy. If you like something, you like it. The same if you don’t. You are yourself, you don’t wear a mask and hide what you think, like everybody else. You don’t beat around the bush and disguise your feelings. The others have poison in their hearts with smiles on their faces. When I am with you, I can be myself. I don’t lie. If I am happy I laugh, I throw tantrums and I get angry. When I’m with you, I’m free. When I’m with you I’m happy.” Eunhyuk eyes darting around Kyuhyun’s face memorising it. He wouldn’t be allowed to immaturely play with the other after the wedding.
“I was happy as well.” Eunhyuk whispered.
Both had twisted smiles on their faces, looking at each other in despair. Kyuhyun leant forward and brushed his lips gently over the prince’s lips, feeling him sigh deeply as he moved back. The touch was innocent, barely there, a glimmer of what could have been if things had been so different, closure to all the ideas and dreams of the foolish prince.
Kyuhyun may dislike this world and the lack of choice, but if he had to marry another, out of all those he knew, he would have chosen this man. Eunhyuk was kind and considerate. Kyuhyun would’ve had an easy life, a safe life. Many would say that marrying a kind man that you are friends with was a blessing, especially with so many being married to people they had never met before. If Kyuhyun wanted an easy life he would’ve chosen this man, but Kyuhyun never wanted an easy life, he wanted to love, to be free. He wanted choice, he might not be able to have complete freedom but with the little he had he would act as he wanted to. He didn’t want to marry, he would avoid it anyway he could.
He stood and made his way over to the door, looking back to the prince whose face had a look of acceptance. He bowed formally, a goodbye to their childish friendship which bordered on something more. “Kyuhyun takes his leave.”
Autumn turned to winter and snow blanketed the city. The wedding was now only a week away, Kyuhyun had agreed to go, trying to break the rumours that he was in mourning over losing the Tenth Prince to Donghae. ZhouMi had made him promise once again not to cause trouble. Neither of them had particularly wanted to go but Sunny had been firm, giving a solid argument that the non-attendance of both of them would be noted and that if Heechul was going, ZhouMi had to as well.
Walking in the gardens, kicking the snow and considering the best location for a snowman, Kyuhyun came across the Eighth Prince sitting in the pavilion looking out over the large pond. “Greetings my Lord,” Kyuhyun bowed, drawing attention to himself, the other completely lost in thought.
“Will you sit with me?” Hangeng asked, surprising Kyuhyun who had not had much interaction with this prince.
“Of course, my lord,” Kyuhyun settled on the bench next to the other and joined him in looking out into the distance. He contemplated the snow, it wiped away all the imperfections of the world, making everything look new, even if it was only for a moment. You could forget when you watched the snow, it easily hid all indications that this was early 18th century, he could pretend that everything was at it used to be, even if it was a second, even if he knew he was deluding himself. He thought back to his depression about being stuck in this era. He was just a pawn for an Emperor, he could make no decisions without Kangin’s permission. He hated this, he hated the whole system.
He glanced at the prince who still had a distant look upon his face, deep in thought. He could feel the warmth the other was emitting and he couldn’t stop himself from smiling as he examined the side profile of the older man, calming and letting go of the anger that had risen up in him. The prince was so gentle and considerate, yet at the same time firm and unyielding. He easily drew every eye when he entered a room, with a soft smile permanently on his face. He didn’t know how long he had been watching the older when suddenly he was gazing into deep brown eyes. He felt himself redden at being caught gawking at the other, he didn’t really understand why he had been in the first place.
“It’s cold, you should go back.” Hangeng broke the silence that had cloaked them and making Kyuhyun aware of how cold it was. He didn’t know how long they had been out here.
“We should both go back,” Kyuhyun whispered.
“Yes,” Hangeng spoke softly, before rising. This was the first time that Kyuhyun had been alone with the Eighth prince for longer than a few moments and he wasn’t sure how to act around the other. He felt a strange mix of apprehension and tension. He let the prince assist him to his feet, not saying anything, just watching the other watch him right back. They walked side by side down the pathway back towards the house. Kyuhyun was confused by this feeling; he didn’t welcome it nor did he want to name it. Kyuhyun decided to break the quiet first as he saw the place where they would part near, “Why must one’s destiny be decided by someone else? Why can’t we decide on our own destiny?”
Hangeng looked pained and shocked by the question, quickly grasping Kyuhyun’s arm, “Kyuhyun you must promise never to say these thoughts aloud. Everyone answers to the Emperor.”
Kyuhyun whimpered at the olders harsh tone and hard grip, as the others eyes bore into his, “You’re hurting me.”
“You have to promise me,” Hangeng sounded increasingly desperate, “Never say this to anyone.”
At seeing the normal composed prince with a frantic look, Kyuhyun gulped, “I promise.”
Hangeng instantly relaxed, patting Kyuhyun’s arm, apologetic, “It’s for your own good.” He walked towards his section, leaving the younger at the junction to make his own way back.
Eunhyuk was refusing to leave his room. He had just moved in to his new estate, it was larger with more space for his family to expand. He would be expected to take more wives and have many children. He shuddered as he heard the celebrating outside, they were toasting to his and his new wife’s happiness. He should be out there with his guests celebrating but he couldn’t bring himself to leave this room. Donghae would be preparing somewhere for their wedding night. The idea of sleeping with Donghae made him nearly gag with nerves and fear. He didn’t know how to act around the other, Donghae had made clear his intense dislike for him. He had no idea how they could live together, especially as the younger would be his primary spouse. The Di’fujin was supposed to give support, comfort, love, they were the primary family. He didn’t think he would be able to cope with Donghae as his main supporter.
Hangeng and Sungmin walked into their brother’s chamber and looked upon the crumpled man. “You should be out there,” Hangeng admonished.
“Why? I have nothing to celebrate.”
“You have to go out. If you do not the Emperor will hear of it,” Sungmin pleaded, worried about his older brother.
“I don’t love him! I don’t even like him!”
“Donghae is a good match! He is from one of the best families. You shouldn’t complain,” responded Sungmin. “If you say things like that, Father will hear and you will be in trouble.”
When Eunhyuk stayed silent and continued to look at the floor, curled up on a chair, Hangeng spoke, “You say you don’t love him. Does that matter? Love is a dream that doesn’t exist in our lives. Love lasts a moment, it is fleeting. Princes marry someone who will help and aid them through their lives. Donghae’s family will support you from now on.”
Eunhyuk had looked up at his trusted brother and asked weakly, “Don’t you love Heechul?”
Hangeng paused, and sighed deeply before answering, “I was lucky to have been given Heechul as my consort. That the Emperor let me marry the most sought after hand; it was an honour. He is the favourite child of his father, the pride of the Kim family.”
“So love doesn’t matter?”
“A Prince has all the riches of the world at his fingertips, he has more power than any other, answering only to the Emperor. But for all that a sacrifice must be made.” He reached forward, pulling Eunhyuk up, patting his arm in comfort. “We are princes, this is the sacrifice.” Eunhyuk’s face had saddened but he was now ready to face the party and the real world.
Sungmin followed his brothers as they exited the room, understanding and sympathy etched on his features. This was the life they all led. This is how they were expected to act. And how they would continue to act because there was no escape from their lives, no escape at all.
Kyuhyun was one of the people outside on the new estate, in the midst of the celebrations. He couldn’t say he was enjoying himself, not even slightly, even though the wine was delicious. People kept looking at him, as if expecting him to suddenly burst into tears or do something equally outrageous. The amount of sympathetic or curious or cold stares he had got was annoying. Everybody seemed to think he was deeply in love with Eunhyuk and that he was the slighted lover. Some people seemed to think him being present was in bad taste but if he hadn’t attended he would just be adding fuel to the flames, no doubt others would have cast his absence as him being too heartbroken. Grabbing a glass of wine, he decided to escape to the outdoors until ZhouMi and Hangeng decided to leave, in which case they would send someone to find him. Stepping out on the veranda, he bumped in the Fourth Prince. “Why is it always you?” he muttered as he fell to the floor.
“What was that?” The prince asked as he offered his hand and pulled the younger up.
“I was just apologising your highness,” Kyuhyun plastered a smile and bowed. “My apologies.”
Looking at the smaller in disbelief, the Fourth didn’t depart, like Kyuhyun had hoped he would, but started to talk, “I heard you were upset and gone crazy with despair over Tenth brother getting married.” Kyuhyun narrowed his eyes dangerously. “I didn’t believe it. I believe you wouldn’t allow yourself to act that way over anyone.”
“What do you know about me?” Kyuhyun scowled, alcohol making him braver.
“Not much. However with you looking so forlorn and sneaking off with alcohol in the middle of the wedding celebrations, maybe I was incorrect.” Siwon asked seemingly uncaring, his face a constant mask of ice. “I didn’t think you would fall for my simple-minded brother.”
“The Tenth Prince may have seemed simple-minded to you and others, but I felt his sincerity and warmth in everything he did. He was different to the hard faces and the masks that everyone else in the court and the city wears.” Kyuhyun had flared up at hearing the insult towards the person he considered his closest friend.
Siwon’s face become surprised and contemplative, “Did you really like Tenth then?”
Kyuhyun rolled his eyes and walked off, not even giving the customary goodbye. He had slighted the future Emperor and right now he didn’t care. Rounding the corner he discovered the Thirteenth sat with a bottle of wine. As the prince looked up Kyuhyun downed his glass and held it out, “You had the better idea. I’ll have to bring a bottle next time.” Changmin poured some out without being verbally asked, guessing that the glass thrust in his face was question enough.
“Heard a rumour that you are mourning the loss of Tenth brother,” Changmin supplied, watching Kyuhyun drink quickly, seemingly determined to get drunk.
“Do people have nothing better to talk about?”
“Nothing,” Changmin flashed a grin as he finished off his bottle. Waving the bottle in Kyuhyun face, much like Kyuhyun had waved the glass, he asked, “You going to go get some more or do I?” After getting a heavy look and no answer, “I guess neither of us fancy going back in there. How about we go somewhere else?” Changmin’s eyes had lit up as the idea took hold.
“Somewhere else?”Kyuhyun smiled in his approval, keen to escape the confines of this party. “I wouldn’t want to refuse a prince’s invitation.”
“Of course you shouldn’t. It’s rude to refuse. You had no other option,” Changmin continued.
Kyuhyun followed the other, he felt instantly at ease in the others presence which was something he hadn’t encountered often before, one of the few exceptions being Mimi. They approached a horse, and Changmin told him, “It’s not my estate and I assume you came by carriage so it looks like we will both be riding Mei.”
Kyuhyun allowed Changmin to pull him in front of him on the horse, “Don’t get any strange ideas.”
“That would be incestuous, my little twin,” Changmin teased as he twitched the reins and the horse started to trot down the street. Neither of the men talked as they rode through the city, Kyuhyun letting the prince take him anywhere. They stopped after a while, before a building that had laughter and music pouring out of the windows, a couple of drunks falling out of the door as a servant ran up to take the reins.
Kyuhyun followed Changmin as he was guided not through the main entrance but to a quieter side door, being personally greeted by an older woman. “Your Highness, we were not expecting you today. Qian is already entertaining another.”
“I am just here for a drink with a friend.” Changmin smiled at Kyuhyun as they were led further into the house, passing private rooms already occupied with groups drinking as their entertainers sung, danced or made conversation. When they were sat at a table they were informed that drinks would be brought to them immediately and left on their own.
“Do you come here regularly then?” Kyuhyun enquired as he smirked knowingly.
“I get bored easily. I thought you would understand.”
“I understand perfectly. I like this place already.”
The door slide open and a beautifully dressed, made up boy entered. He looked delicate yet had a sly look in his eye as he surveyed the two seated, bowing, “I am Taemin, I will be your entertainer this night.”
“Taemin, you’ve been promoted! Entertaining me on my own,” Changmin congratulated the younger.
“Yes, I hope you don’t object, we weren’t expecting you with guests,” Taemin spoke, eying Kyuhyun as he set up the drinks and poured for both of his customers.
“We don’t mind, I didn’t know myself that I would be visiting less than an hour ago.”
“You know all the entertainers? How often do you come here?” Kyuhyun teased, loving the look of annoyance that Changmin flashed.
“Maybe you are too much like me. I should get rid of you while I still can.”
“So we can’t be twins anymore. You want to break my already devastated heart even more.”
“You aren’t heartbroken!” Changmin threw the words at the other, before noticing the young boy serving them. “You should sit. Have a drink.” He pulled the youngest down and gave him his own cup, pouring him some wine. “I don’t often see you. You’re a dancer, are you not?”
“Yes your highness, I also sing quite well.” Taemin answered, feeling slightly more at ease. He had been sent because the tavern had been extraordinarily busy that evening, all the other more experienced entertainers were already engaged. It was bad business to pull them out of rooms, even when more important guests arrived. So he had been sent to wait on one of their most important clients, probably their most important if you took into account how often he visited. He hoped he would be adequate for the prince and his guest.
“Oh, I forgot to introduce you, Taemin, this is Kyuhyun, a friend of mine. He is nicknamed ‘death-seeking Thirteenth’s twin’ but I don’t think he can match me.”
“Is that a challenge?” Kyuhyun raised his eyebrows.
“Is that what is sounded like?”
“Taemin, I think you should go and get more alcohol.”
Kyuhyun was glad to have bumped into Changmin. He could easily spar with the other, finding him easy to talk to and easy to understand. They could easily guess what the other meant and Kyuhyun liked that Changmin treated Taemin as an equal, he included him in the conversation, asked his interests and his opinions. Many others would have ignored their server, especially when the person was as high ranking as a prince.
“You should dance Taemin,” Changmin slurred out. “I’ve heard you are one of the best dancers in the capital.”
“I thought you were here often. How come you haven’t seen him dance before?” Kyuhyun asked.
“His highness is normally entertained by Qian Jiejie.” Taemin answered for the drinking prince, smirking at Kyuhyun.
“Qian? Is she pretty?” Kyuhyun examined Changmin, who was suddenly fascinated by his cup.
“She is one of the most beautiful and talented courtesans in Beijing,” Changmin finally spoke, cutting off Taemin and smiling wryly at Kyuhyun. “I am lucky enough to call her my friend.”
“She’s pretty then.” Kyuhyun laughed. “Let’s watch this performance!”