How Could I Keep Such a Secret?
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters portrayed in this work of fiction. It's just a story for entertainment, no money is being made from the publication of this work online.
Loosely based on the video games, not to do with the actual history. It's actually mostly fantastical. Sun Ce is conducting a love affair with someone that must remain a secret...so what is he to do with Da? Primarily SC/"surprise" character pairing and SC/DQ. Warning: Suspense! Love! Romance! Death! And the finest sin of all, sex!
Notes: I originally started this story about six years ago and had a strict outline to continue it, however, I had computer issues shortly after I began posting and lost the outline between two computer swaps, and lost interest in writing this story. I found the first version of the outline in a file cabinet a few years ago, and even though I was interested in finishing it then, I put it aside because my real life didn't allow for much free time, what with dropping out of college at the time. Now I have time again and will again to perhaps repolish and finish a few of my older fics. I sincerely apologize for being that person who abandons unfinished stories.
"Da! Da! Lord Sun Ce has returned!" Xiao Qiao called eagerly. She burst into her sister's room and threw open the heavy curtains. "He will arrive here soon, after he rides through the city!"
"Oh Xiao!" Da Qiao let out happily. "It's been so long! I missed him so! Now we can marry, I hope, and things will be wonderful, Xiao! You and I shall have such beautiful lives here at Jian Ye!"
"It will be perfect!" they squealed together.
"My ladies, permit me to interrupt."
They jumped, surprised, and turned to the doorway. Mi Tei, Sun Shang Xiang's former officer, stood holding her helmet under her arm. Her armor was dented, the whole of her attire showing the wear of the battlefield, but she had, hastily, by the look of it, cleaned up a bit. The Qiao sisters were familiar with her, for Sun Ce had trusted her to guard his beloved younger sister before Sun Shang Xiang was married into Shu. Mi Tei had remained with Wu, out of place.
"Emperor Sun Ce wishes you to be escorted to the castle gates," Mi Tei told them with a bow. "So he bid me ride ahead of the procession."
"Oh Mi Tei! We are so glad you have faired well in such a difficult battle!" Xiao Qiao said with a smile that looked as if it would split her face in two.
"I thank you, my lady," the officer said politely. Both sisters gathered themselves up, primping before the great mirror on the wall before deeming each other ready. They rushed down the empty hallways with Mi Tei respectfully taking the position of a bodyguard; behind them and to the side. They only slowed to a more dignified pace when the courtiers and diplomats came into view. The sisters instinctively liked arms and the sea of Sun Ce's court parted to allow them to the front.
Sun Quan was guarded carefully at the gate entrance by Zhou Tai and a Gan Ning who looked as battle worn as Mi Tei. The Two Qiaos joined him, waiting for Sun Ce's return with less patience than Sun Quan had mustered. The younger Sun had desperately wished to accompany Sun Ce, but had stayed to govern while the emperor carried out his campaign. Mi Tei immediately bowed to him and he nodded at her in return.
"It is good to see you have also come through this so well," Quan said to her. There was a longing in his voice. It wasn't right to keep a warrior from the battle.
"It is, my Lord Sun Quan."
"I hope that my brother is in much the same shape," he continued.
"He is, Sun Quan," Gan Ning answered to reassure him. They fell silent for a moment. Da Qiao and Xiao Qiao chattered until they saw the banner over the rise.
"The crowd of onlookers began to cheer loudly, welcoming their emperor back properly. They caught sight of Sun Ce himself immediately, heading the procession and grinning like the cat who caught the bird. In a metaphorical sense, he had caught the illusive feathered flyer. He had a right to be a smug cat if he wanted to be. He reined in his horse at the gate. Zhou Tai, Gan Ning, and Mi Tei sank down on one knee while the royals elected shorter bows. Sun Ce shook his head.
"Brother, Da, Xiao," Sun Ce said with a happiness to his tone. "Do not incline your heads to me!" He slid from the saddle and Zhou Tai instantly stepped up to take hold of the horse. Sun Ce embraced his younger brother heartily.
"Lord Sun Ce, we welcome you home!" Da Qiao said brightly.
"It's good to be home, Lady Qiao," Sun Ce replied. He offered her his arm for her to link her smaller elbow with it. "Shall we? Gan Ning, Mi Tei, I thank you both for your service. Please, I insist that you find some peace now that we are home. The journey has been long."
"Yes, my Lord," Mi Tei said. She and Gan Ning both bowed to the emperor and waited for the royals to turn for the castle before relaxing.
"A celebration is in order!" they heard, exchanging a look.
"I'm going to find Lu Xun," Gan Ning muttered. He sighed as Mi Tei nodded. If only the people knew the truth about their emperor's doings...
"You appear angry," Sun Quan stated quietly to his elder brother. Sun Ce snorted.
"I have no idea what you are talking about," Sun Ce snapped. He looked up as the door to his antechamber opened and four of his officers stepped inside, each bowing slightly to him. He acknowledged them with a nod.
"Everything is in order," Zhou Yu said. "Life has returned to its regular patterns." He did not give any indication of noticing Sun Ce's foul mood.
"There is another pressing matter for you, Sun Ce, one which many of your stately advisors will be quick to disturb you with," Lu Xun began. "Now that you have returned, there is nothing to postpone your wedding to Lady Da Qiao--"
Sun Ce's fist connected with the table, startling everyone. "What business is it of theirs? I will marry when I choose to! The old fools!"
"Sun Ce! What has come over you?" Zhou Yu demanded. No one else dared to speak so rashly to Sun Ce now that he was the emperor. They were all glad that Zhou Yu was there to do so. "Is there some reason to postpone the wedding to the girl?"
"No," Sun Ce said darkly. Sun Quan locked eyes Zhou Yu. Sun Ce was lying. That was all there was to it. They both knew it and Sun Ce knew it, but they dropped the gaze and did not challenge him. "Leave me."
"Yes, my lord," came three murmurs. The other two merely nodded. Sun Quan and Zhou Yu were the first to exit the room. Sun Ce knew they were going to have words about him, but didn't worry about it in the least. He looked down at the hardwood tabletop, his hands coming up to rub his temples. He did not want to marry Da Qiao anymore.
"You must be more careful."
Sun Ce's head snapped up. When he had heard the door close, he had assumed the group had all left. No one would dare to linger after such an order--unless that person knew they could push their luck with him. Mi Tei had not followed the rest, she had stayed, standing in front of the door rigidly. The emperor buried his hands in his hair again and stood slowly, closing the distance between them until he towered over her, too close for comfort...glaring with annoyance.
"They know you're hiding something from them, my Lord," Mi Tei said quietly, backing into the door. He stepped forward. "And if they didn't before, they do now. You were so in love with Da Qiao when we departed...Now you are so in love with--"
"Someone else," Sun Ce finished for her. He pressed one hand against the door, right beside her head, leaning in. She squeezed her eyes shut as his breath hit her face. "Don't give away our secret, Mi Tei, or I will have you executed."
"You would like to think so, but you would never be able to do it," she snapped. "Besides, from what I witnessed today, you are perfectly capable of giving away our secret without my help...my Lord."
Sun Ce growled low in his throat and spun away from her to pace the length of the room. He was too angry to even allow himself to look at her. Sun Ce did not want to loose his temper so completely. He needed a clear head to think about what he had done. The emperor could still feel every rapturous moment he spent with her. He was tormented by the smell of flowers and blood, by the taste of sweet, salty sweat...Damn the world for handing him Da Qiao on a silver platter and not the true love of his life! Damn her! Damn Da Qiao! Damn it all to the deepest depths of hell!
He was an emperor!
"I take my leave, my Lord Sun Ce," Mi Tei whispered. Her fingers tightened around the door handle, but Sun Ce stopped her, holding the oak portal closed with his hand back in place beside her head.
"I wish to send my mistress a message," he said lowly. Mi Tei swallowed nervously. Sun Ce could not leave his affair on the battlefield. "I need to see her again. In private. The Empress's Gardens. Tomorrow night. I will wait for her."
"Yes, my Lord," Mi Tei managed. She sighing relief as he let her leave without further adieu and hurried away as if the hounds of hell were on her heels...
...chasing her to the Empress's Gardens...
"Your brother conducted a love affair while he was away," Zhou Yu finally confessed to Sun Quan. He had been nervous about onlookers and eavesdroppers. "I never found out who he coveted, though I had my suspicions."
"And he does not want to wed Da Qiao because of this affair?" Sun Quan asked, shocked. Perhaps though, the thought took root, he should not have been. Sun Ce's impulsiveness governed his life. It had not abated at all though the rest of him aged and changed.
"It appears so, after his outburst today," Zhou Yu replied. "Mayhap he will come to his senses easily. We must hope for that."
"Zhou Yu, is he still seeing the woman?" Sun Quan asked. Zhou Yu sighed, not knowing for certain.
"I would hope not, but I also have the suspicion that he did not leave the romance to die with the slain slain soldiers of the battlefield," Zhou Yu confessed reluctantly. What a mess Sun Ce had made!
"Who do you believe he is seeing?" Sun Quan pressed in a low tone. Zhou Yu hesitated to give an answer. What if he had come to the wrong conclusion? But something had to be done, and Sun Quan would help him do it.
"I observed and exchange with Mi Tei which sounded like a lover's quarrel."
"Mi Tei? She would never! Sun Ce would not...not with Mi Tei!" Quan sputtered, flabbergasted. He had always respected her as a warrior, always trusted her for her service to Wu. "She is an officer, you cannot truly believe it was Mi Tei?"
"You may yet be correct, Sum Quan," Zhou Yu replied, trying to quiet him. "But...it makes me wonder is this has not been going on longer than this. Why did Mi Tei not leave with Sun Shang Xiang as all expected her to?"
Xiao Qiao could not believe what she had just overheard. How could Lord Sun Ce do such a thing to her sister? And Mi Tei! The nerve to still call herself a lady and a friend of the Qiaos! Xiao Qiao slipped back down the hall instead of continuing on her way and interrupting Zhou Yu. She forgot all about looking for her love. She had to tell her sister!
But it would break Da's heart!
Xiao wished she had not decided to search for Zhou Yu. She did not want the burden of such knowledge! Knowing how her sister would react, Xiao could not tell Da about any of Sun Ce's unfaithfulness. He was the emperor. Xiao Qiao could hardly present herself before him and demand he give up Mi Tei--But Mi Tei!
She could force Mi Tei to give up Sun Ce!
The officer probably would once confronted! She was no beauty and had no stature save what she had worked to achieve. Xiao could picture it! Mi Tei would be so embarrassed, she would apologize to Xiao and go directly to Sun Ce to break it off! Well, perhaps Xiao was fantasizing that victory-to-come would be too splendid; she didn't care. She just knew she had to do it, for he sister's sake. Xiao Qiao squared her shoulders and committed herself to her goal. She would wedge apart Mi Tei and the emperor and save her sister's heart.