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The following is a work of fiction. Any statements regarding any person, place, or other entity (real or imaginary) is the sole responibility of the author of this work of fiction. Fan Works Inc. takes no responsibility for the content of user submitted stories. All stories based on real people are works of fiction and do not necessarily reflect on the nature of the individuals featured. All stories based on other copyrighted works are written with authors knowing that these works violate copyright laws.

Please see the Terms of Service for more information.

 

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Awake
By Ina

 

Ma Chao came to stand in the doorway. Posess the doorway, more like. It seemed he was filling a void in the room. The figure laying on the bed seized up a bit.


"Zilong?" he questioned. He had thought the man who lay in front of him was asleep. Not so.


Ma Chao was about to open his mouth again but something about the figure made him stop. He smiled and stepped forward slightly, leaning against the wall nonchalantly. Zilong wasn't asleep at all.


Ma Chao's eyes continued to rove over Zilong's sprawled figure in a way he never would allow himself to do in public. He drank in the sight of such a brave, powerful, respected warrior in such a vulnerable position. A wry smile crept upon Chao's face ass his mischievous inner child kicked in. Let him squirm a little longer, he thought to himself.


On the bed, Zhao Yun lay, pretending to sleep, his eyes closed and trying to control his breathing. He could sense Ma Chao's piercing stare roving over him. Zhao Yun squeezed his eyelids shut and involuntary his breathing quickened. Please leave, he silently willed. I really don't feel up to this. Right now Ma Chao was the last person Zhao Yun wanted to see.


+++


Three days it had been since they last talked, and it had been a day Zhao Yun would rather forget. It had been weeks beforehand that Zhao Yun had been contemplating that day. It was going to be the day he would finally open his heart and tell Ma Chao the Splendid that he was in love with him.


It hadn't gone as he expected. Actually, he wasn't entirely sure what he'd been expecting. Certainly not on the spot declarations of ever-lasting love and vows taken never to be apart again. But a reaction at the least…something that he could gauge from. Inwardly Zhao Yun groaned, reliving one of the most painful experiences of his short life.


"…the real reason I dragged you up here, well, it's nothing to do with the horses...ah, yeah. I just wanted to say I-we missed you while you were away. And, well-" here Zilong's voice began to quaver, and Mengqi's expression changed from that of slight bemusement to concern.


"- well, that I - I love you, Mengqi. I really…love you." Zhao Yun stopped rambling. He'd done it. Surrendered to the thought that had overtaken his entire being for the last three months. His inward battle was over. So why was he feeling so empty all of a sudden?


One brief look into his would-be lover's eyes gave up the answer. Nothing. Nothing was the answer. Ma Chao was now expressionless. There were no tells, no signs that what Zilong had just confessed so emotionally had made a connection at all. No sense that this feeling was reciprocated or not. Zhao Yun though he felt his heart actually sink as he tore his eyes away from that gaze that did not say anything. It didn't have to say anything. Zhao Yun felt he'd gotten his answer. He knew for sure now. Mengqi did not love him back. He'd been a fool to even expect it. Before Zhao Yun even realised it, he'd left the scene of his unspeakable crime and taken to some different part of Cheng Du castle, where he wept alone for a love that never actually existed. How could Ma Chao the Splendid fall for a fool like me?


It had been a hellish three days for Zilong; a very lonely three days at the very least as he deliberately exiled himself from associating with anyone, in the fear that they'd ask him or talk to him about Ma Chao and his most recent splendid exploits in battle. Everyone knew they were best friends. Zilong had been able to get closer to Mengqi than anyone else in Shu. But mostly, he avoided people out of fear that he'd once again run into Mengqi himself.


+++


In the end, Zhao Yun didn't have to run. It was Ma Chao who had found him - cornered him, even - in his own room. Thought Zilong was normally rather defensive when it came to matters of personal space, he knew much better than to tell Ma Chao to leave. Besides the fact that Mengqi was too stubborn a bastard to take orders from anyone, he had every right to be there, what, after completely humiliating both himself and Mengqi and putting him in the most awkward of positions. No, Ma Chao had every right to barge in there and set Zilong straight once and for all.


Except Zilong didn't think he could cope with the truth. He knew that Mengqi didn't love him back, but he did not want to hear it, to face up to it. As long as there was silence, Zilong could remain the slightest bit hopeful, even if he did know it was never going to happen. But if Mengqi said it, he meant it. He was, if nothing else, honest. And he never broke his word. Never.


Zhao Yun could exist with this silence; he could lay there forever as far as he was concerned - as long as he never heard the truth escape Ma Chao's lips. To be told that he didn't love him.


Zilong flinched at the thought. Immediately he felt like flinching again as he realised what he'd just done…he'd given his game away. Now he'd get it for sure…


Ma Chao had been enjoying a silent daydream. However, his reverie was broken as Zhao Yun suddenly jumped. The smile left Ma Chao's face. Clearly, he had to tell him now, before poor Zilong died of a panic attack. He shut the door quietly behind him and approached him.


"Zilong, give it up already. I know you're awake."


The figure on the bed did not react, as if he was unwilling to relinquish his charade.


Ma Chao stepped forward again. "Zilong…I've been thinking about what happened the other day."


He wasn't the only one, though Zhao Yun. Instinctively he moved to wrap his arms himself, as if giving himself a bear hug to brace himself for what he was about to say.


"Mengqi, please stop. I know what you're about to say." His voice was loud but wavered.


"Zilong, I'm so sorry about-"


"No! Please. Be gone already."


"For goodness sake, Zilong, if you'd just let me finish,' Ma Chao hissed. "What sort of idea did you get in your pretty little head anyway, thinking you could run away just like that?" Ma Chao's voice was forceful, for sure, but not harsh. Zhao Yun gulped. He wasn't even sure if he was breathing properly anymore. Suddenly he felt the bed underneath him creak under extra weigh. Mengqi was beside him no. Zhao Yun's heart began to beat faster.


"You know, I really wish you'd look at me," Mengqi sighed, clasping his hands together while looking at his feet. It was his turn for confession. "You took off so quickly after you told me, that I didn't get a chance to collect my thoughts enough to tell you…" He paused, and his voiced lowered slightly. "To tell you that's all I ever wanted to hear you say."


Zhao Yun's eyes flipped open. He stared in shock at the wall before him.


Mengqi spoke quieter now, still not quite whispering. "I love you too, Zilong. I have for quite a while now. I just never imagined that…well, I refused to let myself believe that you would feel the same way."


Zhao Yun blinked. That had been much the same thought on his own mind. Suddenly he realised the stupidity of it all. Of course, they were both much too stubborn to admit their feelings up front. It was never going to be an easy thing and Zhao Yun felt foolish for thinking so.


Ma Chao kept talking. "So I guess we're even now, huh?" He was staring at his hands not looking up.


Zhao Yun suddenly rolled over, which jolted Ma Chao's gaze from the floor to the other man's face. For a second he looked slightly worried, unsure of his next move.


Then Zhao Yun smiled. It had been a while.


Ma Chao looked away again, but this time in shyness, not insecurity; he was smiling too. "I'm sorry if I caused you any anguish, Zilong. You know now that was never my intention. I need to make this up to you, somehow..." As if he was searching for the truth, he grasped at Zhao Yun's palm. He was surprised at its warmth.


"I should know better now that to have behaved the way I did. How juvenile of me!" Zhao Yun sighed, then squeezed his new lover's hand slightly. "Forgive me for acting like the fool I am?" It was a question that seeked an answer. He found his reply when he once again met Ma Chao's gaze; those deep brown eyes that were so often shrouded in past tragedy's sorrows and anger could only express happiness now.


Ma Chao chuckled slightly. "We should probably talk more often," he said, and would have gone on, had not Zhao Yun's free hand drifted across this face, tracing a delicate path along his cheekbone. Gently, he pulled Ma Chao towards him. Their lips met, and on finding a surprising softness, their eyes closed. Their first kiss may have only lasted a few seconds, but for each man, it lasted for eternity in their minds, in their hearts.


"Mengqi," Zhao Yun said, with a hint of irony pervading his voice, "we'll have to talk later." Then they kissed again.

xxx

 

The preceeding was a work of fiction. Any statements regarding any person, place, or other entity (real or imaginary) is the sole responibility of the author of this work of fiction. Fan Works Inc. takes no responsibility for the content of user submitted stories. All stories based on real people are works of fiction and do not necessarily reflect on the nature of the individuals featured. All stories based on other copyrighted works are written with authors knowing that these works violate copyright laws.

Please see the Terms of Service for more information.

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