The Lotus and His Daoist
Summary: It started as a simple night stroll, but Dong Fang Yue Chu did not expect his quiet evening to be interrupted by the arrival of a new fairy spirit.
This is a JunZhe verse crossover story between Dong Fang Yue Chu (Gong Jun) and Qing Lian (Zhang Zhehan). Everything is pretty much a figment of my imagination as I know nothing about each individual character or their original story canons. Don’t take anything seriously. 😅
“Such a beautiful, peaceful night.”
A slow, wistful smile crossed Dong Fang Yue Chu’s handsome face as he slowly strolled through the summer night. It was quiet all around, only the sound of cicada song and the occasional rustle of a night creature could be heard. The Daoist had only encountered one other soul on the road, a farmer carrying the first of his modest harvest home, pausing only long enough to give Yue Chu a deep, respectful bow before silently continuing on his way.
Yue Chu had arrived at the bustling town earlier that evening, travel weary and in need of rest. But as night approached, he had found himself unable to sleep and had instead gone for a night stroll in search of the lake the local townspeople had spoken of so highly earlier that day. The night was pitch dark but the full moon shone brightly in a sky studded with stars. Having left most of his belongings back at the inn, Yue Chu wore only simple robes of white and jade green against the summer heat. As he walked, long, dark wisps of hair stirred about his face with every flick of his wrist and wave of the white fan he held. The road he walked was simple and narrow but well worn by countless feet. He seemed in no hurry, his steps slow and steady.
The wistful smile on his face slowly faded as Yue Chu made his way around a bend and began to approach the often spoken of lake just as thick clouds dimmed the moonlight and deepened the darkness. His footsteps faltered as he clicked his tongue in disappointment, the white fan in his hand stilling.
“Well, it is certainly as vast as they claim,” Yue Chu remarked quietly. “But perhaps a bit underwhelming.”
It was indeed a vast lake, the opposite shoreline too far for even Yue Chu’s keen eyes to see. The dark, clear waters glimmered in the night, reflecting the bright full moon and glittering stars in its mirror-like stillness. But it was, in all other respects, unremarkable, a simple but large body of water surrounded by the dark silhouette of rolling hills.
Not one to be easily deterred, the Daoist decided to make the most of his little night jaunt. The shore was muddy but level, the ground giving way slightly beneath his feet as Yue Chu strolled along the perimeter. A warm breeze wafted, carrying the scents both familiar and foreign as fireflies blinked in the darkness.
A break in the clouds allowed the moonlight to stream through once again. His boots made a suddenly scuffing sound as Yue Chu stopped abruptly, eyes widening at the sight that appeared before him.
“I must take back my earlier assessment,” Yue Chu murmured, a note of wonder in his hushed voice. “This is certainly a sight to behold.”
What Yue Chu had mistaken for small rock formations in the lake was revealed by the moonlight to be hundreds of lotus blooms covering the surface of the lake and stretching as far as he could see were. The flowers ranged in size and color, from a bud of the brightest pink that could sit in the whole of Yue Chu’s palm to one of a pale blush smaller than his littlest finger. Many of the blooms had closed for the night, some receding into the lake waters for their rest. Those that remained above the water line glimmered in the silvery moonlight, undulating gently in the breeze.
Yue Chu walked slowly along the shore, admiring the sight before him. Every now and then, he would stop and lean in closer to inspect a lotus bloom. His eyes followed every detail of the flower as he became mesmerized by the delicate details from the veins in the petals to the deep green colors of the sepals and leaves.
Once again, the Daoist’s footsteps faltered as he caught sight of something quite unusual.
“Oh…aren’t you a beauty. Quite different, aren’t you?”
His robes rustled as Yue Chu knelt down until he was eye level with the pure white lotus bud. The white petals seemed to glow in the darkness; Yue Chu even fancied he could detect a faint humming coming from the flower. Amongst a sea of pink, it stood out sharply atop a vibrant green stalk. It’s color wasn’t the only think unusual about the bloom. Yue Chu could feel a strong sense of power coming from that little white bud; it was sure to be something special one day.
As if in a trance, the Daoist stretched out a hand, long slim fingers reaching for the lotus. It seemed to be calling to him, inviting him. Just when Yue Chu’s fingertip was about to brush a petal, the flower bud quivered. He quickly withdrew his hand, scrambling to his feet as the flower’s glow began to intensify, pulsing gently from within the lotus.
One-by-one, the petals began to unfurl. Yue Chu watched transfixed as the lotus bloomed while being bathed in moonlight. When the petals had fully opened, where a yellow carpal should have been glimmered what looked to be an iridescent pearl. Yue Chu felt a sense of protectiveness overcome him as he gazed upon that pearl. He resisted the urge to reach forward and pluck the peearl from where it was cradled within the lotus petals. He wanted to hold it in his palm, protect it from the world and hide it from sight. Before Yue Chu had a change to act, that pearl pulsed once, twice, and began to rise into the air.
The very stars seemed to dim as the light of the pearl became blinding. The humming from earlier grew louder, vibrating in Yue Che’s ears. As he shielded his eyes against the glare, he thought he caught a glimpse of a human form within the light.
A tiny ‘pop’ was heard, and then the light exploded, casting back the shadows.
When his vision finally cleared, Yue Chu’s breath caught at the sight before him.
White lotus petals danced in the air, twisting and twirling around a newborn fairy spirit. He was tall and lean, a gracefulness evident in even the slightest movement of his limbs. Dark hair cascaded down his back, a stark contrast to the green and white garments he wore. His face was smooth and slightly pale, with full lips and arched cheekbones. Dark lashes fluttered as he opened his eyes, the large, dark orbs containing small flecks of green in their depths.
The fairy blinked curiously as he gazed about. His eyes eventually settled upon Yue Chu, a look of awe on the Daoist’s face as he stood transfixed on the shoreline. A moment of stillness passed between them, the fairy and the Daoist gazed deep into the other’s eyes.
Slowly, a smile curled Yue Chu’s lips.
“This is becoming quite the auspicious night,” Yue Chu half said to himself. Slowly, he raised his hand, stretching it out towards the still floating fairy. “My name is Dong Fang Yue Chu.” It was dangerous giving his name away so freely, especially to a spirit so new to the world and unaccustomed to even their own power. One miscalculation and he might have just condemned himself to eternal hell. But Yue Chu had little fear; his intuition told him this fairy spirit would not harm him.
The lotus fairy gazed at him, head tilted ever so slightly in consideration.
“Daozhang?” he asked, his voice soft and pleasant to hear.
“If you like,” Yue Chu replied. “Do you have a name?”
The fairy turned his head up towards the moon, his expression becoming intent as if he were listening carefully to something only he could hear.
“Qing Lian,” he said after a moment.
Yue Chu felt something stir in his chest at the name, at the voice, at the eyes that continued to stare so deeply into his. His smile widened as he stretched out his arm further, palm open and inviting.
“A-Lian, would you like to come with me?”
“Anywhere. Everywhere. There is so much to see. Would you like to come and see it - with me?”
He remained still, waiting on that shoreline, a smile upon his face and hand stretched out invitingly towards the fairy. Yue Chu waited and weathered the fairy’s gaze and silence.
Qing Lian’s fingers were cool as he curled his hand around Yue Chu’s. A soft smile formed on his face as he floated down and stood before the Daoist; from this vantage point, he had to raise his chin just the slightest bit to maintain eye contact with Yue Chu. A moment of silence passed between them, a feeling of completeness forming in Yue Chu’s very soul as he stood there with the newborn fairy before him.
“Yes,” was all Qing Lian said as a breeze blew, carrying the scent of lotuses in the night air.
Inspired by this fic by GraySkiesGayEyes, specifically the bit where Garak pronounces Bashir’s name as “Chulian.” I did end up changing it a bit based on how Garak and Dukat pronounce “Bajor.”
“Why do you never call me by my first name?”
Garak sat back with his cup of redleaf tea. “I believe it is a well-documented fact that I rarely call anyone by their given name.”
“Yes, but we’re dating,” Julian said. “It’s a bit different when two people are dating.”
“And yet you call me ‘Gah-rack,’” Garak said, purposefully mispronouncing his name like Julian did.
“I thought you didn’t want anyone to know your first name,” Julian said, the teasing lost on him.
“Well, there’s that mystery solved then,” Julian said as he speared a bit of asparagus with his fork.
Julian made a face and popped the bit of vegetable into his mouth.
“Does it really mean that much to you, my dear?” Garak asked as Julian stared off into the middle distance.
“Just seems a bit awkward,” Julian said. “Do you even know my first name?”
“Of course I do, doctor,” Garak said, insulted by the implication that he wouldn’t know something so blatantly obvious.
“Say it then.”
“I’d prefer not to in such a public place,” Garak said, gesturing to the other tables packed with lunchtime diners. “After all, what would the station think if I began calling the chief medical officer by his given name in the middle of the replimat?”
“That we’re dating?” Julian said. He popped a bit more asparagus in his mouth. “Or that you’ve known me for five years. Both of which are true.”
“Nevertheless, I wouldn’t dream of demeaning you in public with such a blatant use of an intimate name,” Garak lied.
“Is that really what it’s like on Cardassia?” Julian asked with a skeptical look.
“More or less,” Garak said. Service class citizens, like Garak, rarely followed that rule of polite society, but that wasn’t something the dear doctor needed to know right now.
Julian narrowed his eyes at Garak. “You’re hiding something,” he said.
“My dear doctor,” Garak said with a smirk, “I’m always hiding something.”
Garak gripped the sides of the sink until his knuckles turned grey. He could do this. He was a former member of the Obsidian Order. He spoke Klingon. He looked into the mirror in his refresher, calling to mind Dr. Bashir’s face. “Chulian.”
It still wasn’t right. He knew that the “j” sound was hard for Cardassians to pronounce. There was no “j” sound in their culture. Sometimes Garak wondered if a “j” sound were even possible with Cardassian anatomy.
Yet, he would try anything for his dear doctor.
“Zulian,” he said into the mirror. He frowned and played the audio file he’d surreptitiously recorded of the doctor saying his name.
“-- that I’m Julian Ba--,” the doctor’s voice said before he cut the audio.
“Thulian,” Garak said, trying to work out that “j” sound. Somehow, he’d made it worse, despite that being roughly the correct tongue placement from what he’d noted when Julian had said his name. “Dulian. Zhulian.” That was almost it. “Zhulian,” he said again, this time trying to infuse it with a bit more confidence. It still didn’t sound quite right, but it was very close. “My dear Zhulian,” he said, wishing his partner had an easier name to pronounce. He played the audio clip again, cutting it down so it was just one word.
“Julian,” the recording said.
“Zhulian,” Garak repeated.
Garak arranged a dinner date in his quarters as the time to show off his mastery of Julian’s name. He was fairly sure he had gotten it down at this point. He’d certainly practiced enough.
“Is it alright if I call you ‘Elim’ in here,” Julian grouched the moment he entered Garak’s quarters.
“Of course, Zhulian,” Garak said from where he was setting the table.
“What?” Julian asked.
“I said ‘of course,’” Garak said, wondering just how badly he’d butchered the name.
“No, the other bit,” Julian said, a smile creeping over his lips.
“Other bit?” Garak echoed as he set down a fork.
Julian gave Garak a frustrated look. “The part that’s my name.”
“Zhulian?” Garak asked.
Julian’s eyes lit up and he pressed his lips together in an attempt not to laugh.
Garak glared at him. “My dear doctor, you can hardly blame me for--”
“Wait, is that why you never call me by my first name?” Julian interrupted, somehow looking even more excited. “Because you can’t pronounce it?”
Garak raised his chin, fixing the doctor with an imperious look. “I can pronounce it perfectly well, thank you.”
“C’mon then,” Julian said. “Say it.” He threw his arms wide in response to Garak’s glare. “It’s only fair after you roasted me for not being able to pronounce ‘La-kah-ree-ahn’ correctly.”
“I don’t recall holding you over a fire,” Garak said, despite knowing exactly what the idiom meant. He turned and walked towards the replicator. “Speaking of fires, I was thinking some grilled--”
“No, no, no, no. You’re not getting out of this that easily,” Julian said, walking over to stand by Garak. “Say ‘Julian.’”
“I believe I just did,” Garak said as he typed in the code for some grilled salmon with yamok sauce.
“No, you said ‘Zhulian,’” Julian said. “Like... Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever heard that sound at the front of a word before. Usually it’s in the middle like ‘abrasion,’ ‘incision,’ ‘intrusion...’”
“Yes, that last one seems most apt. If you wouldn’t mind moving, my dear,” Garak said as he took the plates of steaming salmon from the replicator.
Julian ignored the jab. “Just one more time,” he said, walking backwards so Garak could put their plates down. He held up one finger. “Say it one more time and then you can call me ‘doctor’ forever.”
“Are you willing to commit to that arrangement?” Garak asked as he sat down.
“Well, no,” Julian admitted as he sat down across from him. “But I do want to hear you say my name again.”
“And why should I when my saying it produces such ridicule?” Garak asked as he picked up his knife and fork. He speared a bit of his fish with his fork and began cutting it with deadly precision. “Had I known this is what I was getting myself into I never would have bothered to practice.”
Julian’s eyes widened. “You practiced saying my name?” he asked.
Garak rolled his eyes. “The ‘j’ sound is not naturally found in Kardasi,” he began. “So I required some--”
“You practiced saying my name,” Julian repeated, his tone soft and slightly disbelieving. “Just because I wanted you to say it?”
Garak raised an eyebrow ridge at him. “Is it not standard Federation practice to do things for one’s partner?” he said before putting a bite of fish into his mouth.
“Well, I mean... Yes, but...” Julian reached across the table to take Garak’s left hand in his, maneuvering around the knife to do so. “I didn’t know saying it was hard for you,” he explained. “I just thought you...” He looked down at his plate. “I thought you hadn’t bothered,” he said. He squeezed Garak’s hand. “That’s how it generally goes with ‘Bashir.’ People just pronounce it however they like and don’t really try to get it correct. ‘Subatoi’ is the only part of my name people get right, and most people don’t even know that part.”
“I see,” Garak said. He set down his knife and rotated his hand so that he was grasping Julian’s. “And that’s why you wanted me to call you by your given name?”
“Well, no. It just seemed off that you only call me ‘doctor,’” Julian admitted. “But now that I know why--”
“Doctor, please,” Garak said, removing himself from Julian’s grip. He pointed at his plate with his fork. “If we could drop the subject long enough to have dinner, I’d much appreciate it.”
“Right. Of course.”
“But...” Julian said just as Garak was about to take another mouthful of fish. “I could also teach you how to say my name. Probably. I can try at least. And in return, you can teach me how to say something important to you.”
“Garak,” Garak said without missing a beat.
“My name. You pronounce it ‘Gah-rack,’” he said. “That’s not how it’s pronounced on Cardassia. Or this station. Or really anywhere in the Alpha Quadrant that I’m aware of.”
Julian flushed crimson. “Right. How long were you going to keep me in the dark about that?”
“I believe I have pronounced my name several times in front of you,” Garak said as he delicately cut his fish. “It’s hardly my fault if you chose not to pay attention.”
Julian rolled his eyes and cut himself a bit of salmon. “Fine. We’ll practice each other’s names after dinner,” he said. “Happy?”
“Perfectly,” Garak said, “my dear Zhulian.”