I know I just updated this story, but this "chapter" has been in the works and ideas kept getting added to it. So I did a quick update this time around! I hope everyone enjoys!

"You're jealous?" The words came out in disbelief from Shang's mouth. The idea to her was pretty crazy. She would never had expected this from Xun.

"I'm not jealous." He denied even as the emotion simmered underneath. He knew he was acting foolish and she would probably think differently of him now. But the rumour he had heard...and she was doing and saying nothing to deny it.

"Psh...as if I believe that one. You've been storming around the manor, acting like an animal who's territory has been invaded." She leaned against the wall, arms crossed, daring him to deny it.

*ouch* He winced at that one. She would be in full lecture mode now he was positive. Ready to unleash some sort of independant wrath. But instead she simply laughed. He looked at her puzzled.

"Of course you would have heard the rumour! How am I even to be surprised?" The servants and guards of the manor loved rumours and if they found out even one small tidbit it was shared. If it involved the crazy Sun princess it was even better to them. "So go ahead. Ask what you want."

She was cocky and overly sure of herself. Typical. She was also unafraid of her answers obviously. Unafraid and unabashed. He took the bait, hard as he tried not to. "Is it true?"

She moved closer to him, close enough so when she spoke he was able to hear her whisper, but the words wouldn't carry any where else. "Are you trying to say I have been the only one to warm your bed?" He stared at her, not willing to give the answer she wanted. If he did then it would make his jealousy look even worse. He knew it, she knew it. And yet...She laughed again. "Then there is your answer!"

"You're not denying it." It was a statement.

"Xun. What good would it do if I did? I would be lying to you and I would never do that. I care for you too much to do that to you. You were gone for so long what was I to do? Pine away waiting? Save myself for your heroic return?" She shrugged. "He's fun, a little wild, but he's not you. I wasn't looking for a replacement."

"What were you looking for then?"

She gave a snort. "I'm not going to answer that either. You can figure that out I'm sure great Wu strategist!" She watched a soft blush creep upon his features and her crooked grin spread wider on her face. She rested her hands on his shoulder so she could lean even closer. She was a bit surprised when he boldly took her lips with his. They were out in the open where anyone could come across them. Before they were always so careful. What had caused this? "He's definitely not you..." She whispered as the kiss ended.

"That I am grateful for." He lightly kissed her once more.

"So what is she like?" They were outside, in a meadow lighted softly by the fading afternoon sun. Long ago he had invited her on a picnic to escape the pressing walls of the manor and it was almost now a custom for the two of them to find a quiet time so they could enjoy the private picnic.

"Who?" Xun blinked. She had a habit of starting conversations out of thin air. The food had long ago been eaten and now they just enjoyed the weather and the company. They were laying in the grass together, her head upon his chest like a pillow. He had her hand in his, twisting and entwining their fingers in complicated patterns.

"You know...her. The one when I'm not around." Shang didn't want to look at him when she asked this question. Almost worried at the answer. She kept her eyes focused on their clasped hands.

"You're jealous?" He almost wanted to laugh, not quite expecting this kind of question.

"What? Me? No way!" She instantly jumped at the question. What a thought! "I think it's only fair because you know him that I should know a little about her."

"I don't know him." He returned.

"Yes, you do. The rumours don't leave much to the imagination. But I don't even know one thing about her."

"You are jealous!"

She sat up suddenly, turning her back to him. Was she jealous? What was she worried about? It wasn't exactly as if they had a relationship that might be even close to normal. And if she made up excuses for herself why wouldn't he have any? But she didn't expect to feel like this. A touch possessive and perhaps even a bit rejected.

She felt his arms go around her and his chin rest on her shoulder before his quiet voice reached her ears. "Are you?"

"Maybe...a little." She frowned. "But only a little!"

"Of course." Even as his arms grew tighter around her they held her tenderly and she felt his lips brush the side of her neck. "She isn't you." His words brought a soft smile to her face.

He was watching them. Watched their movements as they went through the routine of the simple practices. He couldn't help but notice how comfortable they were with each other. The movements almost turning into a dance as they went about the field. He suddenly realized he was grinding his teeth and his grip on the scrolls he was carrying was turning his knuckles white. He took a deep breath, steadying himself.

Was he jealous she had asked. And he could not place another word to what he was feeling. The sight of her with another bothered him to the point he had no words. And, yet, he knew he could not stop her from finding someone else. If she was happy...he almost wished she could be happy with this other man. Almost. Because he knew they were playing a dangerous game. For two who should not be together to go against fate as they were. But why did it feel as if it should be? That to find another just like that would be almost impossible? He didn't have answers to that either.

He heard her laugh and he realized he had been daydreaming, not seeing what was in front of him. On the field she had the man with little option but to admit defeat. There seemed no way to pass her guard. But he was larger than she was, stronger, and with quick reflexes he was able to grab her and wrestle her to the ground.

At first she appeared startled and struggled against him, but as he leaned down towards her her fighting subdued and she gave in as he kissed her. A kiss that was hard, passionate, and left little options.

Xun felt his blood boil and gripping the scrolls tighter he turned away in disgust. Jealous...

Shang had caught Xun alone, cornering him as she narrowed her eyes. "What is your problem?" She demanded, angry he wouldn't meet her gaze.

"What do you mean? I have not done anything." Which was technically true even though his mind had come up with all sorts of plans and plots against the man he had seen on the field with her. He made sure he did not put them into action thinking better of them.

"And that's exactly why I'm asking." She placed both of her hands on the wall on either side of him. Her intent to block him from moving. "You won't even look at me!"

"I've been very busy, Xiang. I..."

"Stop that right now! I don't want to hear your stupid excuses!" She pushed herself away from the wall in disgust. Even as she walked away a few paces he did not move. She glanced over her shoulder. "What have I done, Xun? What is it that makes you turn away from me?"

"It's...it's not what you have done. It's what I'm feeling." Xun managed to be able to say aloud. He didn't want to admit it. Not to her. But how could he not answer?

"More excuses?" She sighed. "I expected better of you."

"I tell the truth when I say you have done nothing. I would never lie to you about that. What would make you think I would blame you?"

She noticed as she turned her head to glance at him that he had yet to move away from the wall. She sighed again. "You saw him, didn't you? And not just him. But...us...together. Am I right?"

"I will not lie. Never to you." He stepped closer to her, but was surprised when she backed away.

"You're doing that casual, unphased thing again!" She pointed a finger at him. "It's like...I don't know. You don't care? It doesn't bother you?"

He laughed. Not one of pure amusement. One that might almost be a joke to himself. "I will not claim that at all." ...jealousy... The word almost hissed in the nearly empty hall.

"I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. I...it's almost as if I have to make a decision now and I...don't know if I can." She lowered her gaze. "And that is not fair to you."

"Perhaps it is time to place a pause within our story." He didn't want that. He could say that to himself, think it. But he didn't know where to go at this point. For a decision to torment her so? He would not let it happen if his making it for them eased any pain.

"No." She stared at him, her gaze hard. "We do that and I lose you."

She let him approach her this time. Let him softly brush her cheek, his fingers going into her hair. "You will always have me. No matter what happens. Can you believe me?"

"Can we wait for the ending to our story?"

"If that is what you want, I will wait..."

The first thing she heard was the laughter. It was delicate, sweet, almost musical. Then as she turned the corner she saw the flowing garb of court wear, the swing of long carefully taken care of hair. The laughter came from this mild looking girl. Shang wasn't sure what had caused the laughter, whether it was a story or a joke, but who it was that the beautiful sound was focused on was very apparent. Xun had his back to Shang as he talked to the enchanted occupant.

Shang stepped farther back into the shadows, not sure she was ready to face this couple. And couple they obviously were. She now had a face to the mysterious girl Xun would not speak of. She was beautiful, no doubt in that. Any man would be attracted. She must have some intelligence or else she couldn't imagine Xun spending any length of time with her. Their voices seemed almost hushed as they spoke and no matter how much she strained to hear them Shang could not make out the words.

She felt a tightness grip her chest and a few tears burned her eyes. Jealousy... She knew what she was feeling, regretted the emotion that was burning inside of her and the frustration that caused the tears. She couldn't make excuses for herself and not expect him to be restricted by harsher rules. Her hands tightened into fists and she backed herself farther into the shadows as the girl went to turn away, but paused at a word from Xun. A shy smile crossed her features and a blush crept through her face as he took her hand, lightly kissing it. Slipping her hand from his she said her farewell and with soft steps left the room.

Shang shut her eyes tightly, resting her head back against the cool wall, wishing to fold into the shadows.

"How long are we going to make excuses for one another?" Shang couldn't hold back any more. Couldn't let this horrible burning emotion consume her as it had been for days now. She had searched him out. Found him as she normally did. Going over papers in his room.

"What excuses are you speaking of?" Xun was not surprised by her sudden appearance, but her question puzzled and bothered him at the same time.

"I...I saw her, Xun. I..." She tilted her head back to look at the ceiling, not wanting to say the words she knew would have to be next. She heard the sound of his chair against the floor. When she lowered her gaze he was standing. "I wasn't spying. I wasn't even intentionally looking for her. I was just passing through at one point and..."

"It's alright, Xiang. You don't have to apologize."

"I DO. Because of what I've been feeling. I'm not going to blame you for being the petty creature I am." She held up a hand, stopping him from interrupting. "Let me finish or else I'll never be able to." She took a deep breath. "It was one thing to laugh about it when I didn't have a face, didn't know she actually existed. But seeing the two of you together...even as innocent as it was...I couldn't stop what I was feeling."

"Jealousy." He spoke the words before she could. And he wasn't just finishing her sentence. He was finally putting the word to how he felt when he had seen her with the other man. Was finally admitting the feeling within himself that wouldn't go away.

"I hate it." She admitted.

"It is one of the worst evils. But you are not alone."

"What are we to do, Xun? When did this enter our story? Interrupt our hidden happiness?"

"Fate is a many angled creature." He had come to stand in front of her, their closeness still comfortable, still the way it had always been. "Perhaps this is the horrible fateful ending you have always talked about."

"I won't accept that!" She didn't know why she was angry like this. Wasn't it in one way making the decision easier for them? Telling them that if they felt this way it was supposed to be no matter what? That they should fight for this? That...She felt the tears burning her eyes again and bit her lip trying to stop them from falling.

"Xiang..." He softly spoke her name, causing her tears to fall.

"What am I to tell him? There is another? Not that it isn't the truth, but...if I do...people will find out. And then it will be over. You KNOW my brother will take care of that. And I can't...I won't let him. If this ends WE decide."

He leaned closer, lightly brushing his lips against hers. "We decide." He whispered before taking her into his arms.

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