This suggests to me that both sides of his family, and in fact everyone else of his acquaintance, have deliberately kept him out of Serious Business concerns, and have probably done so from day one. It further suggests that, despite that, he’s gotten regular confirmation that he’s valued and loved. Watching the way he interacts with everyone except the Marquis, even while things are falling apart and blowing up, I think we can bet on this–there’s been a feedback loop there, his whole life, in which Jingrui is open hearted and is therefore cherished by his family, and therefore keeps being open hearted and trusting, and is therefore sheltered, and so on.
Which means that Jingrui probably also has a tendency to go with the flow and trust that everything will turn out, until or unless he’s whacked over the head with something that is clearly Wrong in some way. (Jingrui inspires me to use capitals, too.) So shifting his relationship with Yujin, especially if we assume Yujin has been taking some trouble to be a bit misdirecting thanks to his fear to screwing things up, is… going to take some work, let’s put it that way.
I do find it interesting that Jingrui apparently idolized Lin Shu (at least, Yujin says he was the one always running after Lin Shu, and dragging Yujin along), and keeps idolizing him, even in disguise. Jingrui might not /do/ the incisive insight thing, but he does seem to /respect/ it, very highly. (One possibility here: that he notices this characteristic as it comes out more strongly in Yujin.) I suspect part of Jingrui’s youthful cousin-crush was also that Lin Shu was already in the military. Jingrui gets the warrior thing from both sides of his family, both the in-system and out-system versions. I suspect the military is genuinely Jingrui’s career goal, insofar as he has one; the camaraderie of soldiers, as presented in the story, seems very like what Jingrui values in his relationships, and it’s what he’s been raised to. (Alternate possibility: Jingrui and Yujin’s squads can’t take the pining any longer and set them up.)
So, if Yujin is currently Prince Ji’s understudy, I kind of think Jingrui is Meng’s. The trick will be moving them both toward a little conjoint personal development when both characters have so much inertia built up in their current positions.
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The first thing that comes to mind is that Yujin is seriously Prince Ji’s understudy, which in turn suggests immediately that Yujin’s sunny smile is a bit of a front. This is not actually surprising, given that Yujin’s family life kind of shafted him. He’s the son of a woman his father didn’t love, and has been pretty roundly ignored by his father all his life. No matter how well-adjusted a kid is, that leaves a mark. I also note that Yujin is the one who says Lin Shu was impatient with the younger kids and not fun to be around, and that Jingrui was the one who dragged them both after Lin Shu all the time. Yujin preferred Prince Qi.
Now that’s interesting. Because Yujin is clearly reasonably smart, and very observant; he follows along with all the complicated plans easily. But he preferred the significantly older Prince Qi to the brilliant and older but still part of his own generation Lin Shu. So, yeah, I’m checking the box for “dad issues” here, and running on the supposition that Yujin has basically been hungry for any kind of father figure (which probably also ties into his friendship with Prince Ji).
And I have to wonder whether Yujin’s social-butterfly mode isn’t a way of reassuring himself that, whatever’s wrong with him (because of course he thinks there’s something wrong with him) it can’t be /too/ bad, right? You can see hints of this anxiety in what he says when he comes to thank MCS for fixing his family–thanking him for /allowing Yujin to be properly filial, which he’s been failing to do/. Of course Yujin frames this as all his fault, and I don’t think that’s purely down to cultural convention.
Yujin is a very accomplished fighter (in the top ten of the tournament, survives the attack on the spring hunt) and quite willing to follow Jingrui around the pugilist world, but he has no contacts of his own there. He also isn’t the understudy of any of the military types, so I’m guessing that the military was never an ambition of his. Instead, he’s following as closely as possible in his family’s diplomatic footsteps (put another check in “dad issues” I’m thinking) which may, therefore, be both his hope and his interest. He’s definitely the one who reads people best, identifying right away when someone is having a one on one and dragging Jingrui away, setting up Prince Ji to witness Wei’s escape, etc.
Interpersonally… well, here’s where he gets slippery. Because Yujin seems to have no personal friends or connections besides Jingrui. He’s cut off from his family, for most of the series, and his social activities center, not to put too fine a point on it, among paid companions. He’s socially adept, but I’m guessing that he’s going to have some problems with any kind of mid-range relationships (not father or Jingrui but not courtesans either). And if there’s the slightest hint that something he does might injure his relationship with his father or Jingrui, he’s almost certainly going to strike that off the menu of options rather than risk it.
…which suggests that it’s /Jingrui/ who’s going to have to make the first move, oh god. Because Yujin will /never risk it/. That’s it, right there. *headdesk* Oh, this’ll be such a pain. Okay, need to think about Jingrui next.
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Cross-post from my archive.
Fandom/Arc: Nirvana in Fire, In Every Time and Season
Characters/Pairings: Cai Quan, Eunuch Gao, Gong Yu, Jingyan/Shu, Li Len, Lin Shu | Mei Changsu, Liu An, Mu Nihuang, Nihuang/Shu, Shen Zhui, Xia Dong, Xiao Jingyan, Xiao Xuan, Zhao Wei
Summary: Lin Shu and Nihuang settle into life at court, in the field, and in Jingyan's home while Lin Manor is repaired. The rest of the court may need a few stiff drinks to recover from the process, especially once a complex political scandal breaks in the middle of it.
Meta: Drama with Politics and Porn, I-4
( Red Heart and White Sword )
Now Jingyan returned his gaze, steady and serious. "Even though you hoped to be done with being the strategist, after Prince Qi, my brother's, and Lin's and Chiyan's names were restored?"
For a long moment, he was silent, because that had been true. "I did finish with it, though," he said at last, slowly. "And I returned to my old self, my own world, long enough to die there. I thought that would be the end of it, and I still believe I was right about that. This," he swept a hand around, at the palace, at the ministers and officials and ladies moving through the halls and gardens, each intent on their own ends and ambitions, and the three of them in the middle of it all, "this is what comes after that end, another new life." He gave Jingyan a tiny smile. "Now, what I can do, all that I can do, is for you and with you, nothing held back. That's as it should be, and I have no wish to be done with it."
Is it too late to not use Taoist color symbolism for the titles in this arc? It is, isn’t it? *sighs*
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2tAh8iZ
*bangs head against the desk a few times*
And now I have to come up with names for all the builders/renovators! *goes to pull up Wiktionary again, and also the history of courtyard houses*
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2s8WVDq
Not that one can blame her, to be sure.
And all the while she cooed and snuggled at this fool, she held close in her heart the memory of Dong jie-jie’s teeth flashing as she bared them in a fierce grin the day Gong Yu had gotten past her guard during morning training, the hardness of her eyes when they’d finally pinned down when Qing Li’s south depot had started losing goods–just a year after the man beside her had gained his current office in the Ministry of Revenue. Even more than that, the sober confidence in her voice when she’d told Gong Yu to return to the capital without her and close this half of the net on her own. She made her smile bright with that memory and poured more wine.
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As far as I can tell, Xia Dong is totally blase about it all. Probably she’s used to baby agents having smashing crushes on her and barely notices any more.
Xia Dong gave her a wry grin, and Yu’s breath caught. “You’re part of the clan, now. No need to be so formal.”
Yu blushed deeper, cheeks hot, and clasped her hands tight, wetting her lips. “Xia Dong jie-jie,” she amended, obediently.
Xia Dong clapped her lightly on the shoulder. “Better. Come tell me about how the roads are; it looks like I’ll be headed a little south soon, myself.” She sank down cross-legged by a low table with a tea set sitting out, fluid and graceful, without a single second of wasted motion. Yu tried not to stare.
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2raSZzB
I think I need a drink.
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Actually, I take immense pleasure in imagining that the Minister of Rites walks in mortal terror that Marquis Yan will give him a stern look or something, because Yan stepping back into court affairs has got to have everyone in the older generation running around yelling “Fear! Fire! Flood! OMG, we’re all gonna die!” behind the scenes, plus now he’s spent years studying ritual.
I also like to think, though, that Yu’s wife’s brother is still in charge of the Review Court and is making life a petty, picayune /pain in the ass/ at every opportunity, and god but Cai wants to throw him off a tower, and Shen is rubbing his forehead and reminding everyone that they’re supposed to be /civilized beings/ here, and Jingyan is acting like he totally wasn’t about to hand Cai a sword, annoyances, for the stabbing of, no of course not.
Plus, of course, the Minister of War was a supporter of the old Crown Prince and is /sure/ to be on the take somehow. So many lovely possibilities for military affairs to be fucked up right when a) they really need to be solid and b) Jingyan can’t go kick things into shape in person any more. *sadistic happy sparkles*
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The someone is, of course, Nihuang. Because Jingyan is too self-sacrificing for his own damn good and Lin Shu may not have quite /processed/ all the back-to-life implications. If Nihuang were from the US south, she’d be saying things like “god love ‘em” and possibly even blessing their hearts. As it is, she’s smiling the “I know something you don’t know” smile and looking forward to maybe making Jingyan snarf his tea by mentioning her knowledge at a tactically decisive moment. Just possibly in terms of expanding Lin Shu’s harem, if the opportunity presents, because a fine tradition of teasing Jingyan within an inch of his life should not be let to die.
Have I mentioned that I like Nihuang quite a lot?
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2rdHZo5
Cross-post from my archive.
Fandom/Arc: Nirvana in Fire, Alternatives
Characters/Pairings: Eunuch Gao, Fei Liu, Gong Yu, Jingyan/Shu, Lady Jing, Lin Chen, Lin Shu | Mei Changsu, Liu An, Meng Zhi, Mu Nihuang, Mu Qing, Nihuang/Shu, Xiao Jingrui, Xiao Jingyan, Xiao Liyang, Xiao Xuan, Yan Yujin
Summary: Lin Shu survives, and, with a certain amount of salutary brow-beating, finds a purpose in doing so that moves him to enter the world again, seek out his loved ones, and start walking a meaningful path forward with them.
Meta: Drama with Adorable Romance, I-3
( Black Turns to Blue )
For a long time, or what might have been a long time, he was afraid he'd failed, each time he woke. He woke weak, groggy, never able to rouse to full awareness, and he knew that sensation from a decade worth of illness, fought stubbornly against it, as he always had, to push his thoughts past the fog to grip on the world again.
This time, though, he could never force himself past the cloudy uncertainness of almost-dreams. And what did that mean, if not failure, to fall ill again before his last task was done?
Today’s writing snippet:
“Don’t challenge envoys just because they’re annoying me.” Sometimes Nihuang wondered whether she should move her daily work into an office of her own, if only to keep her little brother’s nose a bit further out of her business. The rustle of paper from his table caught her ear and she added, absently, “Read the whole thing, Qing-er.”
He gave her a hang-dog look and pulled back the report of crop plans that he hadn’t spent nearly long enough on to be finished with. Nihuang smiled down at her own table, which had almost certainly been her brother’s goal. He’d gotten more subtle about teasing her, this past year. Perhaps she would move to her own office some year soon, but there were compensations for staying here, for now.
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2rwOfDo
Which is to say, Lady Liu is developing nicely, as Lady Jing’s understudy. Also, I couldn’t quite resist the running joke that she prefers weak teas and doesn’t know why this seems to amuse all Jingyan’s relations.
“There’s a certain amount of risk in it.” Lin Shu took a sip of his tea and, for some reason, gave her a look of deep amusement before turning back to the matter at hand. “He will understand quite well that I’m forcing his hand, and if I then stand openly in support of you, his fear may overcome his good sense. Again.”
Her husband’s face turned set and cold, at that. The reminder of Prince Qi’s fate made An think of something else, though. Of a certain memorial tablet, and what her mother-in-law had never quite admitted to doing, to secure it. “Perhaps,” she said, words falling softly into the quiet between the two men, “that need not be a great concern.” At Lin Shu’s raised brow, she lifted her chin, hands clasped tightly in her lap. “You should consult with Lady Jing, who often has such influence over him.”
She didn’t think her husband knew what she was saying, but Lin Shu went very still for a long moment before nodding slowly. “A wise suggestion, Lady Liu. My thanks.”
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2qte21F
Apropos of which, today’s writing snippet:
“Come here and let me see,” she ordered, as she had when he or Jingyan or Nihuang had managed to injure themselves training. He smiled for real at that, and came to hold out his wrist, obediently. She nearly held her own breath, setting her fingers over the pulse point, hope and fear of what she might feel tangling together, but long habit composed her to quiet attention.
And his pulse beat, sure and steady under her fingers, no hint of the stumble and catch that would tell of poison, of a body on the verge of collapse at any moment. It was weaker than it should be in a man only just past thirty, but it was steady. “It’s true,” she whispered, for the rest of them, for herself, for xiao-Shu, because she suspected he needed to hear it again, too. The laughing and shoulder-clapping among the men gave her a chance to re-gather herself, and she added, more calmly as she tugged his sleeve back down, “Perhaps I won’t do anything too very dreadful to your friend after all.”
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2ql0zt9
I can make a half-decent stab at good meaning balances, for names, and I can handwave birthdates wherever they need to be, and Wiktionary helpfully mentions the root radicals of enough names to take a swing, but it’s all very fuzzy and as for stroke number I am lost. *grumps* I don’t even know if that degree of refinement was common round 5th C.
So I’ll risk Liu An (Jingyan’s wife) and Chen Wenqian (his mother’s pre-Palace name), but I still feel antsy about it.
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2pJZxTj
Not least because, as a character, she’s nearly as demanding as Lin Shu. *she says, having gotten hauled through another 2K words while attempting to concentrate on learning a new LMS at work*
“Mei Changsu?” The Lady blinked at her, hand actually paused on her cup, seeming genuinely startled.
“I’m probably being foolish,” An murmured, looking down at the delicate, celadon pot as she set it down, carefully aligned in its corner of the tray. “You must surely have thought of all this already. I just… my lord…” Gentle fingers touched her cheek, and she looked up to find her mother-in-law smiling, affectionate and yet sad. So very sad, and An caught her breath on the realization of how deep that melancholy that often hung around Lady Jing like and old, faint scent must run. “Mother…?” she whispered.
“Be at ease, child,” Lady Jing said, softly. “There is nothing in that man that is capable of betraying Jingyan.”
An nodded slowly, still uncertain. She knew Lady Jing had greater understanding of the situation than she did, but this was so counter to everything she had ever heard of Mei Changsu. Her mother-in-law’s smile lightened a little with amusement, and she patted An’s hand. “Here.” She called one of her maids to bring her a stacked, lacquer box, and set it on the table before An. “Bring them some sweets, today, and watch a little. I think you will see.”
An straightened; this was a lesson, then. “Yes, Honored Mother-in-law,” she murmured, gathering her robes to take her leave, taking the box of sweets with her.
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2pHbBoJ
Lin Shu in relation to Prince Qi was a hawk; he would have been Qi’s hawk, would have flown for him, but (the critical point about hawks) would never have been actually tamed.
Lin Shu in relation to Jingyan is a cat; he’s fully domesticated, if also a total asshole at times, given to deliberately shoving things off tables, and as far as he’s concerned the proper order of the world is that Jingyan is His Person, forever amen, interlopers can expect to be casually clawed, and Jingyan can expect to be yowled at if he doesn’t pay attention promptly enough.
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2pt8YeX
As a kid/very young man, we know he was already brilliant. Favored pupil of the land’s greatest scholar, started taking command of military units at something obscene like 13, commands whole armies by 19–so, both militarily and intellectually, Lin Shu is used to being the smartest person in the room, where the room is “this country and probably all the surrounding ones also”. According to Yujin, Lin Shu ge-ge was also impatient with his younger cousins and didn’t take time to explain things, and probably made disparaging remarks (this in contrast to Prince Qi’s patience). We see Lin Shu freely ragging on his older cousin, Jingyan. So he was extremely bright, irreverent, and a little wild.
As an adult, having lost his physical strength, all his capability gets channeled into strategy, into words, into seeing the big picture and knowing what strings to pull to position him (and his people) to win. We see that he doesn’t willingly give anything away until he’s foreclosed his enemy’s ability to do anything with the information (hi, Marquise Xie!), but also that he’s more than willing to dance on the edge (strolling over to take a cup of poison), and is, let’s be honest here, made of Drama (hello, standing in a boat playing the goddamn flute to announce your presence, and that was just for starters). I think we can safely say that he’s /still/ wild, probably has zero actual reverence for anything but his dead, and is now kind of terrifyingly brilliant. Now, though, he’s willing to do anything to achieve his goals. I think that’s probably one of the things that changed most, though he may always have had a certain streak of ruthlessness, born of being smarter than everyone around him. In those circumstances, it’s easy to start seeing other people as tools or game pieces.
Thinking about Jingyan, in comparison, we have someone who has been headstrong, probably from the /cradle/, but is not wild at all. Rather, Jingyan is thorough and careful. He’s also got that absolute, unbending sense of rightness, which he will not sacrifice for /anything/. And I think that immovability is the key to why it’s Jingyan who was Lin Shu’s best friend, the one he chose to hang out with and fight beside and, yes, tease. Jingyan was probably one of the exceptionally few people Lin Shu could never move at his whim. And when the source and root of that immovability is a firm sense of ethics… well, there’s Lin Shu’s assurance that he’ll never go too far. Jingyan wouldn’t let him. I have a personal theory that the reason Jingyan calls his cousin by a diminutive when he’s only two years younger (and does it until they’re on either side of twenty, and /still/ does it when they’re over thirty for god’s sake) is that he sees that wild, careless-of-regular-people part of Lin Shu as his childish side. The fact that he expects and wants his cousin at his side, though, also suggests that Jingyan is drawn to Lin Shu’s brilliance and respects it.
And, even when he doesn’t recognize Lin Shu any more, Jingyan /still/ won’t let him go too far, will be the one who grounds him, who provides the stability that his cousin’s brilliance sometimes misses. I think the difference is that, as an adult, Lin Shu knows exactly what’s happening–and welcomes it with awareness this time.
So, on the shipping hand, I’m thinking that Lin Shu would give way to Jingyan’s stubbornness unless it’s tipped over into pig-headedness, and Jingyan would still consider him in every way an equal, as a matter of fact. Because of course he is, don’t be ridiculous xiao-Shu.
from Tumblr http://ift.tt/2qZ3qJ6
Which led me to playing with her POV, naming her An, and deciding she must be, essentially, Lady Jing’s understudy. Which leads to today’s writing snippet:
She had not expected to be particularly noticed, that day at the monastery; he’d been seeing to his men, speaking to the priests, had spared no more than a glance to be sure she was not injured. Everyone knew Prince Jing was a man of action, so she hadn’t been surprised. But even here, in the outer rooms of the Eastern Palace, somewhere that should be a place of repose and even triumph for him… he was so stern. His eyes saw her when he looked at her, yes, but he only looked for a moment before turning distant again–courteous, but so distant. Intimidated, she spoke only formal words of pleasure, and he spoke brief, formal words of welcome, and then he was gone, striding out the doors like someone shrugging off a cloak, and An bit her lip.
Lady Jing’s arm settled warm around her shoulders, and when An looked up, the Lady wore a small, rueful smile, so she dared to ask, “Mother-in-law, is my husband-to-be displeased?”
“Not displeased, child. Simply… distracted.”
Men of the military families were taught to track the movements of armies, but women who were meant for the court were taught to track other things: the flicker of an eye, the passing word, the shift of weight that could say where thoughts marched. Liu An had learned her lessons well; she heard the delicate emphasis Lady Jing placed on her words, and her heart sank. She looked down at her clasped hands and murmured, “Is there another?”
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