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.
The amount of people travelling in the caravan that made up the Emperor’s entourage astounded Kyuhyun. Hundreds of servants and soldiers, officials and helpers, riders and drivers were involved. Since all the princes were travelling as well, each brought their own entourage. The tents were large; beds, chests of drawers, desks, chairs, tables, all the wares that you would use in a house were brought along. It was as if they were moving the whole palace, except Kyuhyun knew that this was only a fraction of the opulence that the palace had. The servants had to move ahead each day and set up before the group arrived, and others kept travelling to arrive at the main camp site before the Emperor. The sheer effort to move everything and everyone, to have all the supplies and the horses, it amazed Kyuhyun.
Kyuhyun travelled in a carriage along with Ryeowook and Jinki, but he watched as others rode along in freedom beside the caravan. Though it was padded, all the holes and bumps were felt throughout the vehicle. Kyuhyun felt bruised and tense, yet when they stopped and he looked out over the area he felt free, well freer than he had felt in the last 2 years since he arrived in this time. He thought back over the struggles to adapt to the palace over the past 18 months. He didn’t know how he would’ve survived if not for Changmin’s visits, Ryeowook’s cheerful and helpful self, and Jinki’s cute and funny clumsiness. Leeteuk and Shindong with their advice and generosity also made him feel settled and he was glad he had created a small group of people that he could rely on. He supposed he was still odd to most people, his beliefs in relationships between people and his liberal views. He remembered the shocked face when one of the maids saw him glare at Changmin, he wasn’t even being rude, yet the girl seemed to expect Changmin to order him beaten. The Emperor also treated him well, allowing him freedoms and trusting him. He was rewarded by being given a higher wage. He thought of Kangin as a kind man, who had broad shoulders that carried the burdens of the nation. He was always lenient with others and was not conceited or big headed considering he became Emperor at such a young age, but then Kyuhyun considered he had problems with a regent who tried, and managed to for several years, to wrest control from the Imperial Family. He imagined that having to fight for your throne from someone that power hungry when Kangin himself was only a young teenager must have matured him and humbled him. It was no wonder the Emperor put such a high value on family unity and had a hatred of clique forming.
Kyuhyun sat at the edge of the campsite, looking out at the plains and smiling at the greenness and the stillness out there compared to the busyness behind him. He wished he could ride out there and explore it properly. He cursed and wished he had forced Eunhyuk to teach him when he had the chance on Eighth’s estate.
“Was that a curse I just heard from the lips of a senior servant, not mentioning that they are also one of the Emperor’s personal servants?”
He turned to see a grinning Changmin, who had in his hand a flask. He suspected that it contained wine, especially since the Thirteenth Prince always had some handy. Reaching out his hand, Kyuhyun pulled the bottle from Changmin’s hand while patting the ground beside him. “Sit.”
“What are you thinking about that you were cursing where innocent ears could hear?” Changmin asked with wide innocent eyes.
“Are your ears innocent?” Kyuhyun raised his eyebrows as if challenging Changmin to push any further. Changmin rolled his eyes and tactfully changed the subject.
“What were you thinking about then?”
“How beautiful this is and how I wish I could see it further.”
Changmin looked quizzically at his friend, “Are you sane? The view is nothing special. You will see greater ones.”
“If I told you that in the future this would all be desert what would you say?”
“Why would it become a desert? It looks fertile and lush.” Changmin tilted his head as he viewed the person beside him in bewilderment.
“The greed and stupidity of man,” Kyuhyun sighed, knowing that one day the Gobi would claim all of this area as its own.
“I don’t understand.”
“How far are we from the meeting point?” Kyuhyun asked suddenly as his legs started to ache, reminding him of the horrendous travelling conditions. He hardly had the comfiest of carriages; he was still only a servant, even if he was a more senior one.
“Not long, a couple more days. You always change the subject.”
“When we get there, teach me how to ride.” He once again remembered his previous thoughts before the interruption. Changmin sighed at the demand, he was never asked anything by the younger, he was always being told what to do and Kyuhyun never explained what he was talking about most of the time.
“Why? Aren’t you tired from all our travelling?” Changmin groaned at the idea of having to patiently teach the other how to ride. He was not the most patient person and he imagined he’d be an awful teacher.
“I want to feel the freedom and joy that comes from riding across the plains.” Kyuhyun tried to convince the slightly older man. “Plus Tenth Prince still teases me about not being able to ride!”
“Unfortunately, you are Imperial Father’s favourite. He values you above many others. If you were to fall and hurt yourself, I wouldn’t be able to face Imperial Father and his wrath.” Changmin smiled smugly at wiggling out of Kyuhyun’s grasp.
“Don’t use that tactic.”
“I don’t know what you mean.” Changmin continued smiling as he took the bottle back and walked away leaving Kyuhyun behind.
“I’ll take that as a promise to teach me!” Kyuhyun yelled at the others back as Changmin pretended not to hear as he walked away.
Changmin rode, feeling the freedom and lightness he craved, but was denied so often because of his status. He wished he could give up being a prince and having duties and fulfilling demands. He contemplated retiring to the country and not getting involved in politics like his Fifth Brother, but he realised that he would be bored within less than a day and he could never willingly leave his Fourth Brother alone with the rest of the court. No one else seemed to understand his favourite brother and the motives that drove him, but Changmin knew. He had grown up side by side with the elder and he would always stay and support him in anything he decided to do. He would not allow his selfish dreams to cause suffering to anyone he loved.
But that didn’t stop him dreaming of a better world, a world where he could be free. He felt most alive when here on the plains, riding on his own.
He was riding along a stone path when he heard cheering around the edge of a cliff face, driving his horse towards the noise, he saw a circle of Mongolian gers. A group of people were cheering on some games that a group of men were playing just beyond the tents. They seemed to be competing with their archery while on horseback as well as demonstrating their riding skills. Others were playing buzkashi, a game where the riders try to gain possession of a bundle of furs and place it in the basket at one end of the field. The ability to avoid the other riders, who there were often many of, and the speed and dexterity of yourself and your horse all contributed to the fun of the game. From where Changmin was situated, on a hill just above the camp, able to see the games progression, it seemed that one man was dominating. His skill was superior and he seemed to be one with his horse and always knew what was going on around him. His laughter and that of his companions filtered up to the prince, the man’s clearer and more enchanting than the others. Changmin felt compelled to discover more about that person, though he didn’t understand why.
He suddenly rode down and joined the game, catching the fur from one of the riders who had tried to escape the others by riding to the edge of the field but then realising he couldn’t get anywhere near the basket. Changmin rushed in and took over, much to the shock of the few nearer riders, but that didn’t stop them from chasing after him. Changmin found it trickier than he’d thought to avoid the Mongolian riders who laughed as they let him join it their game. He hoped that he hadn’t embarrassed himself at first but found that the others were quick to welcome him and let him join in their fun. It was rare for Changmin to be able to play with others like this, few would dare join him, knowing he was a prince and fearing him rather than accepting him.
He finally stopped and rode to the side when he had scored several points, even overtaking the rider that first captivated him from the distance. Stopping his horse on the edge of the field, opposite the crowd that seemed was constantly chanting and adding cheers and heckles to various riders in good nature. The man that he was thinking of suddenly stopped by his side, looking at his gown and his horse, “Tired?”
“Only a little; I was riding for a while before I arrived upon this camp.” Changmin spoke. His eyes examining the man by his side, who had an air of authority even though he was wearing the same typical clothes most Mongols wear.
“You’re a Qing official?” It seemed more of a statement than a question. There was no denying that Changmin was, after all he was grabbed as a Qing.
“You’re a Mongol?” Changmin decided to push back. He got a sweet laugh in return. It sounded like music to his ears.
“You played well.” The unknown man said. His smile taking up his whole face and giving him a look of innocence that Changmin wanted to find out was real or not. “You are the first from the central plains to defeat me.”
“Maybe I’m just lucky,” Changmin flattered.
“Winning is winning. Losing is losing. Luck had nothing to do with it. We will have to play again.” The man spoke firmly, nodding along while he spoke. His simplicity in the decision struck a chord with Changmin who was so used to the deference of others, except with Kyuhyun.
“I would be happy to play again some time.”
“Good! My name is…” The man looked younger as he bit his lip. “My name is Su.”
Changmin thought for half a second before deciding, “My name is Min.”
“I’m glad for a new friend,” Su raised himself, and half bowed from his perch on the horse.
“It’s my pleasure also, Su.” Changmin smiled, genuinely happy. The other, who he thought was younger, had an infectious smile and happiness that he couldn’t imagine anyone getting mad at. “I should go, I have business.” He said more reluctantly. He guessed that it was late in the afternoon, the Emperor and his entourage would have arrived at the main campsite by now and be set up. He had probably been missed and he would have to apologise for his absence to his father.
“Goodbye, new friend Min.”
Changmin nodded and rode away as Su laughed happily as he rode back in to the field, heading straight for the one who had the bundle of fur.
Changmin bowed and apologised that he lost track of time when he was riding on the plains when he hurried into the tent where his father and the rest of the princes that had accompanied them were situated. Kangin seemed pleased rather than annoyed at his Thirteenth son. “We are a horseback tribe. Our ancestors’ blood flows in your veins. Of course you would feel compelled to ride on the plains. It is natural and there is nothing to forgive.”
Yoochun chuckled along with his father and said, “Earlier Imperial Father said that Thirteenth Prince was the most similar to a wild horse, unable to be tamed.”
“You shouldn’t tease me so, Imperial Father,” Changmin gave his brightest smile at the good mood of his father.
As he moved to seat himself behind his table, Kyuhyun came in followed by Ryeowook and Jinki, all carrying trays; Kyuhyun with only the Emperor’s cup, the other two carrying the princes, it was improper for the Emperor to share anything with anyone, even the space on the tray of his personal tea server. Kangin looked up in pleasure at seeing the boy, “What do you have for me today? It looks like something new.”
“I thought your Majesty would like a cold beverage, so I prepared some chilled juice. I hope you will enjoy this.” Kyuhyun presented the cup to Leeteuk who checked it before passing it to the seated Emperor.
“If it’s pleasing I will reward you, so if it’s unpleasant I will punish you,” Kangin was in a teasing mood it seemed as he gentled poked fun at his servant. Everyone knew that the Emperor valued the boy and wouldn’t get angry over something this trivial.
“It is up to you my Lord,” Kyuhyun laughed lightly at Kangin’s wagging finger. Maybe he should be less relaxed in the presence of one who easily had power over so many, but Kangin had been nothing but kind to him and had allowed him to do so much. Many others were jealous of him, his connections to the princes, him being one of the Emperor’s favourites but Kyuhyun never understood those feelings, and he ignored the glares. He was happy with his good fortune and was thankful for it every day. He hoped that Kangin would like the refreshing fruit juice he had prepared. He doubted anyone else would have given this to him; this was his own recipe, thought up when thinking about the tasty drinks he missed drinking on those long summer afternoons when it was just too hot. He had combined it with his new knowledge about ancient tea arts, the combination had led to several improvements in recipes and he felt less homesick when he made them. He tried not to think so much of the future, or his past, it hurt too much at times. Other times he deliberately sought that pain as a reminder of where he was from, to keep him focussed, he felt like he was losing himself and had to remind himself that this wasn’t his world.
He took the next cup from the tray to pass to the Crown Prince, who gave him a suggestive smile. Kyuhyun inwardly grimaced, while Yoochun was certainly handsome, he had a bad reputation and also Kyuhyun knew that it was nearing the first time he would be stripped of his titles. Besides, the looks the Crown Prince gave him made him feel like a piece of meat. He made no interest in someone who flirted around as much Yoochun did. The next cup he placed in front of the Fourth Prince. Siwon looked in contemplation at the cup, which was designed as a magnolia, knowing in his eyes as he looked back at Kyuhyun. Kyuhyun quickly averted his gaze to Changmin who nodded his approval at the cup which had been presented to him by Ryeowook.
“This is pleasing.” Kangin continued, “But I have never seen these cups before.” He stood suddenly up, causing all of his seated children to rise with him. He went over to his eldest son and examined it, “Where did they come from?”
Leeteuk bowed and answered, “Your Majesty, Kyuhyun showed me some drawings and I had some eunuchs sent away to have them made.”
“How many designs?”
“36 in total, though we only brought a few on the tour,” Kyuhyun answered this time.
“I would like to have a look at them all more carefully sometime, they are beautiful.” Kangin gazed at the boy, “What would you like in reward?”
“I wouldn’t dare take all the credit, my Lord. I only drew some pictures, I didn’t make or plan to have them made.” Kyuhyun smiled and bowed his head. It was true. He had been bored and made some random drawings, finding that there was practically nothing else he could do apart from read and practice writing. Leeteuk had visited him and seen them laid out on the side and asked to see more. Hence they had then planned this little surprise for the Emperor. Shindong was the one to hunt down the artisans and Ryeowook had helped with the designing. Jinki had been banned from the work table after he spilt tea over some drawings, but he had helped advise and supervise the people who had made the cups, especially since Kyuhyun and Ryeowook were often attending the Emperor. Kyuhyun never thought that those graphic design classes which he had randomly chosen to take when at university would come in useful ever, but here it seemed any practical skill he had possessed gave him credit.
“Fine, everyone can be rewarded.” All the servants present fell to their knees and chanted their thanks. “Now is there anything you particularly want? I can see a gleam in your eye.” Kangin pestered the one who he gotten to know so well.
“Well, I have seen how good of a rider your Majesty is and while I will never be a hundredth of a rider that you are, I do wish I could ride.” Kyuhyun heard a muffled snort from behind him that sounded like Changmin.
“So much flattery, you soothe a vain man. You can learn how to ride. I will have someone assigned to you.” Kangin laughed as he walked back to the raised throne. It wasn’t at ornate chair like the throne back in the capital, but it was still quilted and backed by a beautiful screen.
“Thank you, your Majesty.” He backed out of the room with his assistants, but not before sending Changmin a smug smirk.
Siwon watched him go before turning his gaze back to the white water magnolia designed tea cup. He had discovered that it was filled with a tasty grape juice, not overly sweet. He wondered what exactly Kyuhyun was thinking by pouring so much attention into his needs.
Kyuhyun wasn’t thinking about Siwon as he left, he was thinking about how he had managed to prove Changmin wrong and he would enjoy finally getting his wish. He hoped whoever taught him was nice.
Ryeowook and Jinki were chattering behind him. “We got so much silver!” Jinki gushed, excitedly.
“It’s not the silver that’s important, it’s our reputation. The Emperor himself personally rewarded us!” Ryeowook told the other.
Jinki bounded along so he kept pace with the elder, “Gege, how can we thank you, if not for you we wouldn’t have gotten anything.”
Ryeowook came up on his other side and smiled his sweet smile, “Thank you Gege.”
“You two don’t have to thank me so much. You both work hard and helped me.”
“But we know how well you treat us Gege,” Ryeowook told the eldest.
“We will try and work even harder from now on!” Jinki continued.
“Kyuhyun-ah!” Shindong rushed up behind them as they approached their tent.
“What reward made you so happy?” Kyuhyun poked the other servant.
“I wouldn’t dare be so happy just for that in from of you,” Shindong said. “But thank you for your help.” His eyes practically disappeared with his wide smile. “I came to tell you that the Mongolian King gifted the Emperor with two prize horses, the Emperor was so pleased he ordered a feast.”
“That sounds fun!” Kyuhyun suddenly smiled widely. “I’m sure there will be plenty of singing and dancing.” He thought of the traditional Mongolian dancing and singing he had seen in the modern age and was suddenly full of curiosity to find out more.