Title: Bu Bu Jing Xin (Startling By Each Step)
Pairings: Kyuhyun centric, there will be various pairing/friendships, main wonkyu though hankyu, eunkyu, 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.
Kyuhyun was telling Ryeowook and Jinki about which teas to give each of the princes and the Emperor. The two slightly younger boys followed Kyuhyun around as he showed them where all the different tea leaves were located as well as the already mixed blends. The large cabinet full of little drawers didn’t have any labels or indicators as to what was in each of them so the tea maids had to differentiate through smell and sight. Kyuhyun had had to learn quickly when he was placed in the position that both these boys were put in, he had done well enough that he was promoted as soon as the previous senior tea maid was married off only a few months after he joined the palace. He hadn’t expected it but he was glad of the trust Leeteuk showed in him. “Fourth Prince drinks Taiping Houkai,” As he rattled off the list he mentally thanked Changmin for being a good friend, “Eighth Prince drinks Rizhu Xueya, Ninth Prince prefers Yuqian Longjing, Tenth and Thirteenth Prince will drink any-”
Before he could get any further Shindong ran into the room panting, “Kyuhyun-ah, Kyuhyun-ah.”
Rushing over to the man Kyuhyun asked, “What is it? What happened?”
“The Emperor has left court,” Shindong wheezed.
“He does that every day,” Kyuhyun was unimpressed and impatient. Why was Shindong in front of him telling him something he already knew would happen?
“My master sent me to tell you that someone said something about the Crown Prince and he is now in a foul mood,” Shindong finally got to the main point and looked on as Kyuhyun winced.
Kyuhyun pulled a pained face as he turned to the nervous looking Ryeowook and Jinki. “This means we have to be extra careful. The Emperor’s mood will be fragile and you don’t want to earn his wrath when he is like this.”
Kyuhyun cursed the Crown Prince in his head, though he knew that this was only the start. The Crown Prince will have more and more complaints lodged against him in the coming years, so he foresaw many more days where the Emperor was in a foul state of mind. He turned again to Shindong who had now returned to a normal state, and who quickly told him which princes had followed the Emperor back to his inner palace. “Give your master my thanks, hurry now; you don’t want to get into trouble for taking too long.” He waved Shindong off, the eunuch breaking back into a run to get back to his master before the Emperor came back to the inner palace.
Kyuhyun hurried to prepare the teas perfectly for all the different princes that he would be serving. He thought to himself that no wonder the Emperor is hurt and upset; his favourite son has turned out to be his worst. The son he personally raised is the one who may well bring the Imperial family into disgrace.
Siwon, Hangeng, Yesung, Eunhyuk, Changmin and Sungmin were all seated on chairs facing each other, while angling their bodies slightly so as to be able to view their father, who sat at the head of the rows of seats at his desk. His face was stormy as he looked at the sons who participated the most in the matters of the court. Among these men were those who Kangin knew supported the Crown Prince and those that had made subtle complaints about him. He knew that his sons disagreed about what to do with the future Emperor as much as the officials and the officers of the court did. But he knew that none of them would openly disagree with him or oppose the Crown Prince, after all their father put great faith in the power of brotherly bonds.
Kyuhyun slowly walked in followed by Ryeowook and Jinki who each held a tray as Kangin asked in his deep rumble, “What did you think about the complaint in court today?”
Kyuhyun bowed as he placed the Emperors cup on the desk, Kangin automatically picking it up and taking a small sip of the scalding liquid. All the princes paused as they had no answer to give. They could not criticise the Crown Prince, yet they could not lie to their father, the Emperor, and say that the complaint had no founding.
Siwon decided to start the conversation, “The Crown Prince has always treated his servants generously and many would seek to use him as a scapegoat for their own or others follies.” Changmin watched as his elder brother diplomatically answered the question, pandering to the Emperor’s belief in the brotherly bond and his upset that someone had criticised his chosen heir. Kyuhyun listened carefully as he walked around the room, gently starting to place a tea cup next to each prince. When he finished placing the cups from Jinki’s tray he waved for the boy to leave the room as Ryeowook continued along behind with the rest of the cups.
Eunhyuk snorted, and spoke what many of the others were thinking, “Even the most brave and foolhardy servant wouldn’t take from the Emperor unless someone has got his back. Also who would dare make a false complaint against one so favoured. Fourth Brother what you have said is very strange.” All the faces were impassive as no one gave away what they were really thinking.
Kyuhyun, who at this point had reached Eunhyuk and was about to place the cup next to him, scolded his friend in his mind. “Are you an idiot? You are a fool to go against the future Emperor. You’re just fighting for your own death if you criticise him.” Kyuhyun listened as Eunhyuk continued talking about the Fourth Prince.
“But then, Fourth Brother and the Crown Prince have always been close- aish!”
Kyuhyun, instead of placing the tea cup gently, spilt the tea down his friends arm, stopping whatever the older was going to say about his brother as he howled and jumped from his seat. No one else in the room may know that Siwon was the next Emperor, but Kyuhyun did, what with him knowing the future, and he wasn’t going to let one of his closest friends be idiotic enough to get on Siwon’s bad side. He didn’t want Eunhyuk to be punished later for the bad mouthing he did now, especially if he got the elder in trouble.
“YOU-!” Eunhyuk stopped what he was about to say when Kyuhyun and Ryeowook dropped to their knees before him. “Your servant deserves to die.” Kyuhyun looked at the floor with a submissive pose, he could be seriously punished for harming a prince, and servants have been killed for less. Shindong rushed to see that the prince was alright as Leeteuk rushed to tell the tea maids off.
“Are you alright, your Highness?” Shindong started to examine the arm, scared at how the prince would react.
Eunhyuk froze and replied quickly, “I’m fine, no harm done.”
“What are you doing? Leave now!” Leeteuk hissed lowly at the two kneeling and hurried them out of the room. Hangeng and Siwon both eyed the boy curiously as he deferentially left the room with his head still bowed.
Kyuhyun rushed back to the tea maid quarters at the back of the Emperor’s inner palace. This was a quiet area, away from the hustle of the court at the front of the inner palace and also far from all the other smaller palaces which the Emperor’s wives occupied as well as the laundries, the artisans, the barracks, the servants quarters. This was a small patch of quiet in the whole Forbidden City, connected to the Emperor’s private gardens and the extensive gardens that continued beyond that. From here it was easy for the tea maids to pick the petals and leaves that were used to flavour the different teas and also within easy distance for the delivery of hot tea rather than cooled tea if it was brought from further afield.
He sat in contemplation of what could happen to him considering the Emperor was in an unforgiving mood. Ryeowook and Jinki cautiously approached him with tea, Jinki pouring for the three of them as Ryeowook spoke, “Gege, what’s wrong with you today?”
Kyuhyun gulped and spoke aloud his thoughts, “The Emperor is a wise and kind ruler and is usually merciful to his servants. I may have to endure a beating… but I think it will be worth it.” He took a sip of the tea and smiled at the improving tea skills of the youngest.
All rose hastily as Leeteuk entered the room, bowing their heads and chanting, “Eunuch Leeteuk.”
“Ryeowook, Jinki, leave the room.”
Leeteuk’s face was hard as he viewed the boy in front of him. His voice was full of accusation and disappointment as he lowered his voice to tell Kyuhyun off, “You are always so careful, how could you be so careless today?”
“Please punish me Eunuch Leeteuk,” Kyuhyun kept his eyes low and asked for the punishment he knew he deserved. Making a case for yourself made things worse in this society. Admitting your wrong, even if you felt you weren’t in the wrong, meant the forgiver would be more merciful. However in this case Kyuhyun knew he had committed a huge error.
“You will be docked next month’s pay,” Leeteuk had been kind and given an even lighter punishment than Kyuhyun was expecting.
“Thank you Eunuch Leeteuk.” Kyuhyun kept his eyes to the floor as his voice was respectful.
Leeteuk’s voice turned softer as he continued, “The palace cannot house kind-hearted people. Next time you interfere you could lose your head.” Leeteuk eyes held a friendly caution as he turned and left before Kyuhyun could say anymore.
Eunhyuk, upon being dismissed along with his brothers, left the inner palace to see Kyuhyun standing looking out over the courtyard in front of the main audience hall. He hurried over, eager to talk to his friend. They hadn’t had much chance to talk given that they were both busy so often and Kyuhyun lived within the inner palace walls. Kyuhyun looked sad even when Eunhyuk greeted the other happily. “Why are you looking so sad?” Eunhyuk frowned in response to Kyuhyun’s pout. “I didn’t even tell you off for scalding me!”
“I lost a month’s salary!” Kyuhyun returned, his pout deepened as he looked at the other.
Eunhyuk paused with speechlessness before he started to laugh at the younger. “Is that all? I thought you had a serious punishment for a moment.”
“I worked for that salary!” Kyuhyun grumbled, happy that Eunhyuk wasn’t angry at him for burning him earlier. He hadn’t wanted to upset his friend and cause a misunderstanding. “Now I have been punished for the first time. I am a senior now, how will people view me and respect me?”
The Tenth Prince laughed at Kyuhyun’s complaints. No other person would complain like this about their punishment to the person they wronged. “I will bring you a gift to make up for your loss. It is only a month’s salary. Don’t be so sad.”
Kyuhyun brightened significantly at the royal’s offer, “Fine, I would be angry anymore.”
While the two of them were chatting, the other princes congregated around the entrance to the hall, Eighth naturally flanked by Ninth and Fourteenth while Thirteenth followed Fourth. Hangeng called out to his elder brother as he passed by, “Fourth Brother, it was lucky that Kyuhyun spilt the tea when he did. Tenth Brother brought it on himself by having a careless tongue. His carelessness nearly brought both of you into danger.”
Siwon smiled at the younger, “We are all brothers, we should naturally watch out for each other, especially the Crown Prince.”
Yesung’s face twisted as he controlled what he wanted to say about the Crown Prince and his behaviour. Hangeng smiled genteelly in return, “The Crown Prince is lucky to have Fourth Brother to look out for him.”
“Let’s not forget how fortunate it is that Kyuhyun was there,” Yesung added snidely, his annoyance at the banality of the talk showing. He called out to the next youngest in his annoyance, “Let’s go!”
Eunhyuk interrupted from replying to Kyuhyun instead said, “Goodbye.” He rushed after Yesung who was trailed by Hangeng. Changmin and Siwon exchanged glances as they both continued on their way; they had to go and see the Crown Prince and try to control his people, who seemed to think being a Crown Prince’s man meant they could do whatever they wanted without consequences. It was close today and if any other prince had had a complaint lodged against them of the kind the Crown Prince had, the Emperor would have had the matter investigated thoroughly.
Sungmin watched his brothers go before marching up to Kyuhyun, demanding, “What exactly are your intentions? I just saw you purposely pour tea on Tenth. Why are you helping Fourth Brother? What about Eighth?”
Kyuhyun was dumbfounded at the anger Sungmin was showing to him. His brusque attitude was enough to cause a rise in Kyuhyun’s temper, “It’s not what you think!”
“You know how Eighth Brother feels. If you feel anything in return, you won’t disappoint him!” Sungmin spoke swiftly, wanting to get his point across without getting into an argument. He turned and left the other as abruptly as he came, not giving the other a chance to reply. Kyuhyun bit his tongue to prevent himself from calling out after his friend. “I was trying to help Tenth. Will the others misunderstand me as well? Will he misunderstand me?” He chewed on his lower lip as he thought of Hangeng misunderstanding that he was helping Siwon and was somehow betraying him. He then told himself that he was only thinking that way because he knows that Hangeng cares for him and he is trying to protect him, so he should be loyal to the other in return, especially since he comes from the estate of the Eighth Prince. It had nothing to do with any feelings that were between them. At least that is what he told himself as he walked back to his quarters.
Heechul waited in the cold outside of the Eighth’s main building. He knew that Hangeng would walk along this pathway when he came back from court and he was desperate to see his husband. The other man was avoiding him and Heechul felt his heart fracture more every day that his husband refused to see him. Heechul may not care for much, but what he cared for the most was Hangeng and he would gladly lay down the pride he held so dear to beg the other man to acknowledge him. He saw Hangeng walking towards him and he smiled weakly, desperately trying to prevent himself from crying. Hangeng grimaced when he saw the feminine man standing before him but he could hardly directly avoid him. The prince was normally too polite to directly ignore someone to their face, he would rather avoid confrontation at all costs, but he moved to stride past the other man. He glared in frustration at the beautiful man who had grasped hold of his arm and asked, “Why are you refusing to see me?”
Hangeng sighed as the other continued in desperation, “If it’s because of what happened with Kyuhyun, its true, I did talk with Consort Yoona. But I did it to prevent Kyuhyun being chosen. I did it for his happiness.”
Hangeng threw off the grip of his wife and turned to face him, “No! You asked for help because if Kyuhyun got chosen as a concubine, ZhouMi’s status would rise and your position as Di’fujin would be threatened. If not for your selfishness, Kyuhyun could be out of the palace by now and not directly serving the Emperor!” He couldn’t look at his wife’s face so turned his face but down the path, “I don’t want to quarrel. Don’t try and see me again until I can forgive you.”
He continued his path back to his residence as Heechul eyes watered and he struggled to breath at the rejection. He shook with the effort of preventing himself from breaking down. He would never allow anyone to say that the wife of the Eighth Prince was weak. To breakdown here would attract the attention of the household staff and that could not happen. Everything he did reflected on his husband and he would never allow himself or anyone else to dishonour Hangeng and cause the prince to lose face, even of the one who he did everything for did not acknowledge his efforts.
Kyuhyun was relaxing the gardens near the tea quarters. This garden was cultivated to provide all the ingredients for the tea; it had the camellia plants needed for the tea base and the flowers and grasses used for different flavourings, such as jasmine and chrysanthemums. Still certain tea leaves needed to be sent from other parts of the country, such as Longjing tea needed to be sent from Hangzhou and Taiping Houkai needed to be sent from Huangshan.
He was picking some jasmine when he heard footsteps approaching him from behind, knowing that he wouldn’t be able to ignore them, especially if they were senior to him and he had to greet them, he turned and spotted the Fourth Prince heading towards him. “The Ice Prince himself.” Kyuhyun slowly walked to greet him, knowing that for certain that the other was seeking him out, though he wasn’t sure why. Kyuhyun lowered his eyes demurely, showing respect. He did not expect what followed and he gasped as his eyes met the prince’s.
“Taiping Houkai. Yukou pastry. The sky after rain. White china with flowers and butterflies. I like dogs, hate cats. Hate overly spicy food and dislike wine. I figured that Thirteenth has already told you all of this already. In the future if you have any questions just come and ask me directly. Ask me now.” Siwon’s eyes were dark and captivating, his face curious and perplexed; he didn’t know why the boy in front of him had spent so much effort sending Changmin to find information about him. He didn’t understand what motivated this boy and that confused him since he could normally tell exactly what people were thinking, feeling, and what they planned. He had never struggled to analyse and take apart people, but he was limited in what he could do to prevent them from doing what they shouldn’t.
Kyuhyun gasped as he saw and heard that his secret digging wasn’t so secret. He cursed Changmin’s lack of tact and his lack of sneakiness around his older brother. Why was Changmin so stupid? That’s not true, he knew Changmin was incredibly smart, but why did he let Kyuhyun get revealed? He shook his head to calm himself and reasoned that if the prince in front of him told him to ask, he might as well take advantage of that. “What colour do you hate the most?”
“What incense do you hate the most?”
“What’s your favourite flower?”
“Grapes.” Kyuhyun smirked as he looked at the gown Siwon was wearing. It was deep purple, the colour of grapes and Siwon coughed awkwardly.
“Weather that you like the most?”
“Weather that you hate the most?”
“Scorching hot days.”
“Ice Prince.” “Favourite book?”
“Jingang Jin teachings.”
“What are you most afraid of?”
“People crying.” Kyuhyun expected an answer like that. He couldn’t imagine this ice prince comforting anyone. He was firing every question he had ever asked himself about the prince, he wanted to know as much as possible to avoid ever incurring the man’s wrath.
“What do you like the most?”
“What do you play?”
“I don’t play.”
“Of course you don’t!” Kyuhyun mentally told the other man that he was a stick in the mud who didn’t know how to have fun. “Poems you like?”
“Wang Wei’s poems.”
“Type of song you like?”
“Pass!” Siwon raised his eyebrows at the younger and tutted. Kyuhyun blinked in shock as the elder continue to speak. “You are so curious.”
Kyuhyun smiled warily and decided to run before the person in front of him started to question his motives, he didn’t want any more misunderstands to occur and float around. “Excuse me your Highness. I have to go and prepare the Emperor’s afternoon tea.” He quickly walked away praying silently that the prince wouldn’t try and talk to him, as soon as he neared his quarters he sighed in relief.
Siwon watched the younger walk away as fast as he could and decided against calling out. He didn’t understand the boy at all and it was really starting to intrigue him.
Changmin walked into the courtyard which was surrounded by the quarters of the tea maids and the buildings where the tea was prepared. He sat at the small stone table situated just to the side and waited for Kyuhyun to return from serving the Emperor. He was on the morning duty that day and Changmin knew that Ryeowook was taking over for him to allow his master to come back here and rest before going back to serve the Emperor in the evening and through the night. He knew his father only slept a few hours each night. Kangin took running the country very seriously and had expanded and built a stable Empire from the ruins of the previous one. No one could say that Kangin was an idle ruler, he was up before dawn each day and most nights did not go to bed until after midnight. Changmin shuddered at the idea of anyone willingly becoming Emperor. Admittedly, you were the most powerful man in this part of the world with millions under your command, but those millions were also your responsibility. You had to make sure people had food and homes and water. Lack of faith in the ability of the Emperor led to revolts and rioting; it led to distrust and discord in the court and within the Imperial family. Being the Emperor was a difficult job and Changmin thanked his lucky stars that he hadn’t been born with the ambition that seemed to burn through so many of his brothers.
He was roused from his musing by a hard slap to the arm, “Ouch!”
Kyuhyun sat down beside his friend and glared at him with enough venom that Changmin inwardly grimaced while painting a confused and upset expression on his face. “What was that for? I have told you that I could have you arrested for hurting me.” At no response he continued. “When you hurt Tenth Brother you said, ‘Your servant deserves to die,’ but to me you just slap me for no reason!”
“I have a reason,” Kyuhyun growled, leading Changmin to roll his eyes, having given up faking his upset.
“What’s the reason?”
“Fourth Prince knows that I was asking about him! How obvious was your questioning?!” Kyuhyun accused the other, scorn lacing his words.
“Do you know how hard it was to ask him those questions? He is impossible to get information out of! I can’t help being obvious if I was asked such ludicrous questions of him. Favourite view? Favourite china? Whether he likes dogs or cats? What sort of questions are those?” Changmin’s voice was just as scornful as he defended himself to the other.
“Okay, okay!” Kyuhyun muttered, not able to properly scold the other like he wanted because the other had a good point. The Fourth Prince rarely revealed information about himself, that he was so obliging to Kyuhyun was shocking.
“What is… okay? What does that mean?” Changmin tilted his head as he observed the other sitting next to him.
“Okay? That isn’t a word yet?” Kyuhyun groaned as he let his head fall to the table. Changmin observed Kyuhyun’s groaning form for a minute before slipping his hand underneath the forehead and raising the other’s head back up so that the prince could see the maid’s face.
“Are you going to tell me?”
“Why do I have to watch what I say all the time? Not only for the delicateness of the situation but also for random words that haven’t been introduced to the Chinese language yet.” Kyuhyun grumbled, knowing that his words made no sense to anyone.
“You make no sense. But I knew that already.” Changmin poked the others cheek until Kyuhyun turned to face him. “Now explain please.”
“O.K. It means alright. Everything’s fine, good.” Kyuhyun spoke hesitantly, never having had to describe what ‘okay’ meant before and finding it harder than it seemed. He might as well explain properly, so he smiled widely as he made a decision. “There is a sign that you make when you say it. It means the same thing.” Kyuhyun held out his hand and joined his thumb and index finger together to form a circle, letting the other fingers stand up straight. “This is the okay sign. It means everything is fine.”
Changmin copied the move with a dubious face. “Did you make this up?”
Kyuhyun pulled a face as he answered, “Well no one else has ever seen it before so I suppose so.” The prince smiled and held out his right hand set into an okay sign. “This might be useful I suppose,” Kyuhyun mused.
“There is no knowledge that is useless. Everything is useful as some point.” Changmin spoke, smiling slightly at his friend. He knew that Kyuhyun was finding the palace wearisome at points, but also that the other had only spent a little while here and had many more years to go before he would be free.
A/N: ZhouMi's side story: here Please go and have a look ^^