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02 August 2011 @ 11:59 pm
This can only end in tears  

It's been a while since I wrote a fic that isn't MGS-related, eh? (Let's ignore the fact that this is exactly how I started myself on BB and Zero last year, and I still haven't written everything I want about them, so doing the same bloody thing in another fandom is probably not advisable. Well, here I am, doing it anyway!)

Trying my hand at Xiahou Dun and Cao Cao for the first time; you be the judge of how well that's worked out or not. This is primarily based on the games, namely Dynasty Warriors 7, for two reasons: 1) I safely know the whole thing by now so I can write about it, and 2) these two have more screentime in the game series than in novel-canon anyway, so like hell I'm going to pass up on that. For some context, DW7 is the game that tries to keep closer to the history in principle, though its really big divergence is that it makes everyone die so young. (And good-looking.) Anyway, I've watched through all the cutscenes and couldn't resist framing some of them in a story. The Wei storyline is half what's made explicit on-screen and half everything that they're explicitly not saying.

The fic is split into three sections, the first and last of which are based directly on two cutscenes from the latter part of the game (here from 16:15 and 18:58; contains spoilers) because I'm that much of a canon-referencing junkie. The direct speech in those two scenes is quoted verbatim.

I've used a different (more pretentious less subdued) writing style for this than I mostly do, given every adaptation of this history seems to be almost over-the-top dramatic, so I'd love to hear whether that works at all. And that's pretty much it.

Title: Lives beyond Words
Pairing: Cao Cao/Xiahou Dun
Rating: PG-13 (Or a very tame R; I'm hesitant to use it since the sex isn't that explicit.) Slightly NSFW
Word Count: ~940
Summary: Intimate knowledge comes at the highest price.
Warning(s): Canon character death, unfortunately.
Notes: Style names are awesome.
Disclaimer: The Dynasty Warriors series belongs to Koei. I make no profit and intend no copyright infringement.

Lives beyond Words

“Before you die, I will at least show you a glimpse of your dream.”

His voice is even at the words; a hollow determination, which Xiahou Dun can only hope translates into certainty. There is nothing for it. His knowledge, while enabling him to show that he understands the gravity of the situation, is at once a token of closeness and a death warrant for the one person he cares about most. Guan Yu need not try to claim his lord's head, after all—not that he shall be permitted to. In the rain, Xiahou Dun spurs his horse on past the gate, his purpose clear. Single-minded to a fault, as ever.

He makes a point of not looking back.



That is what there once was between them, but now, nights like this one are extravagant. The reason has nothing to do with their surroundings, lavish as they may be; neither of them even registers the embroidered curtains or the gilded walls. What truly shines is familiarity, still intact despite everything. That is why Xiahou Dun can act on intuition, bypassing the need for anything more accurate to be stated out loud.

He only just remembers to take the golden headpiece off his lord's head—allowed to do it still, though not without a glare in response—before they fall into bed, their whole presence little more than a knot of fabric and flesh and desperation. Neither is keen on admitting that, though, so they more move than talk as the clothes come off, or mostly do, and it has indeed been too long. There is no word for what they are doing except writhing; they hold and fight each other all at once.

Then Cao Cao is finally trapped beneath him, the press and slide of skin on skin enough to drive them both to distraction. Xiahou Dun tries his best to concentrate, bracing his elbows on either side of the other's head—they sink into the bedding like stones thrown into water. Stroking his thumbs over Cao Cao's temples, he's exceedingly, inhumanly gentle, watching those eyes fall shut followed by a sigh, deeper than any of the gasps that escaped before in the heat of passion. So Xiahou Dun keeps up, rubbing with the tips of his fingers, until he finds himself bold enough to loosen the band still holding the mass of dark hair in place. As soon as begins to unfasten it, Cao Cao's eyes are on him again, and there is no mistaking even in his current rumpled state that here is the man whose reputation has sent all the land trembling.

“My lord,” says Xiahou Dun as if it explained everything—and with the lilt in his voice, the longing in his body, perhaps it does.

“Go on,” comes his permission or command. They amount to the same when Cao Cao's hair tumbles free, which would have made a splendid sight had Xiahou Dun not chosen that moment to pull him into a kiss, unable, unwilling, to honour measure anymore. He tastes the lips, then skin as his attentions veer off course to map out the other's cheek and neck, arms welcoming, legs entangled, hips meeting all the while.

He loses restraint first but regains his composure quickly, not satisfied until he has rendered Cao Cao the same service using mouth and hands. They lie together afterwards, silent, for a long time.

Shifting onto his side for an unobstructed view with his good eye, he notices his lord's hand well within reach and takes it, only to be privately astonished by the answering grip like iron. This could be a concession, but Xiahou Dun knows better than to take such a gesture as anything beyond a tacit confirmation of reliance of the kind they so often share. He squeezes back, resting their joined hands on Cao Cao's chest, and he dreads to think of the day when that firm grasp and the heartbeat beneath it may have become sheer willpower.


“You need your rest. Just leave it be.”

At least no one can ever say that Cao Cao's ambition was without dedication. Scrolls and maps remain strewn around his bed and clutched in his hands, even as his speech grows irregular and his tone heavy, quiescent. Accomplishment cushions his resignation, but all Xiahou Dun can see is the dying sun, swathes of light shaped by the ornate window in perfect accord with the tired man's countenance. It is a sad display, yet one that fills him with a tenderness that alone might fuel years of unassuming duty.

As if he's ever minded keeping Mengde company. A reward for past struggles is more like it.

Marvelling at the prospect, he finds it easy to converse, to hover about the room, to turn around without worry as he carries some of the documents away. One trifling attempt to relieve his lord's burden, but he is ready for a thousand more.

“Xiahou Dun...”

He neglects to think that great changes, for better or for worse, seldom come with as great portents.

“I couldn't have done it without you. Thank you.”

Still he manages to joke, “What nonsense is this?”

He is content to listen after that, painful though the names of old comrades are when invoked without warning. It is the ensuing silence that makes him leap to his feet, the realization so sudden that its first form is plain disbelief. A scroll has fallen, rolling seamlessly towards him on the floor, while sitting motionless in his bed—

Xiahou Dun crosses the chamber, drops to his knees, and weeps.

Cherry: Xiahou Duncherrytruck on August 2nd, 2011 11:31 pm (UTC)
First off, let me congratulate you on your first Dynasty Warriors fic! ...I am still in disbelief that showing you a bunch of sort-of slashy pictures has gotten you so into the fandom, to the point of reading the RoTK novels and watching all the film and series adaptations, BUT I AM ALSO EXTREMELY GLAD. You have good taste my dear

And as for the actual fic, I love this SO MUCH. You kept the feel of the cutscenes (without resorting to cheesiness, so well Dun done on that xD) and your addition to these scenes flows very well with them.

Doesn't hurt to say it again - but you did a good choice not making it downright explicit porn this time round! The vagueness made the whole thing seem more peaceful and gentle, and I know you wanted to focus on the fact that it was their last moment they'd spend together, which you also did a good job at! It's a very sad but nice and lovely image, it's like that final moment together you wished lasted an eternity ;___; Also YESSS HAIR AND NECK FETISH <33 And the joining of their hands, that is such a sweet expression ;3;

Accomplishment cushions his resignation, but all Xiahou Dun can see is the dying sun, swathes of light shaped by the ornate window in perfect accord with the tired man's countenance. It is a sad display, yet one that fills him with a tenderness that alone might fuel years of unassuming duty.
So true! ;__;

And as if the actual cutscene wasn't enough to make me extremely sad, you nailed it with the ending and managed to completely break my heart. ;__; So little words and yet it's more than enough to describe how awfully heartbroken Dun must have felt then and there.

Thank you for writing this so nicely, and though I've already said it, I really love this AND YOU SHOULD WRITE MORE FOREVER. /CLAPS
See you later, instigator: Xiahou Dun - smackdownoudeteron on August 3rd, 2011 10:28 am (UTC)
Thank you! And you know me - show me a pic and I'll want to know the backstory, and when the backstory turns out to be this interesting...well. I AM GLAD THAT YOU'RE GLAD FOR THIS. XD I could say the same for you

I'm very happy you enjoyed this. <3 I tried to keep it close to what's actually in the game but it's tricky not to just end up with a scene transcript, so it's good to hear that wasn't the case here! (Ahaha, even knowing that's not how it's pronounced won't stop us from making these terrible puns. XD)

Yeah, I thought non-explicit suited it better for exactly that reason - it's the overall situation that matters here, and the fact that it's not going to last forever for them. ;__; KNEW YOU'D APPRECIATE THAT >B) Also I'm a sap and hand-holding = yay.

Glad you pointed out that line! I really feel like Dun was looking forward to a peaceful retirement there, but didn't get to enjoy much of it at all. ;_;

Aw, sorry for all the heartbreak but if it helps, I wrote this more or less to COPE WITH THAT FREAKING CUTSCENE. Ow, ow, ow. Poor Dun, seriously.

Thank you again and I SHALL TRY. /cut it out, you're making me blush ♥
kohl_eyed on August 3rd, 2011 01:02 am (UTC)

I love this—the way you've written it, it seems almost cinematic. And the ending—ouch. But so well done.

I'm really hoping that we'll get to see more fic for this fandom from you... :D;;

(Will you crosspost this to historicalslash?)
See you later, instigator: Zhuge Liang - gazeoudeteron on August 3rd, 2011 10:42 am (UTC)

Whoa, thank you! I couldn't tell how well this would work without being familiar with the game-verse, but that you enjoyed it regardless makes me very happy to know. Cinematic was exactly my intention so yay for that coming across, and I'm glad you found the ending handled well!

I certainly want to write more in this fandom...err, actually, I'm also in the process of crossing it over with MGS because I'm a terrible person and want some of its characters to "meet" Zhuge Liang and talk strategy with him. I...I don't even know, but I'll do my best to make that fic readable without having to know the minute details of both fandoms. XD And after that, some non-crossover idea had better present itself, or I'll just sit here until it does.

Ahh, I've been wondering where to crosspost but wanted to get some input first - if you think this qualifies for historical, I'll do that! Although, fff, I didn't know about this comm and I happen to mod historic_slash which is more active, so I think I'll go there. Anyway, thanks so much. :D
Cherry: Kaz Eyescherrytruck on August 3rd, 2011 10:58 am (UTC)
See you later, instigator: Kaz Miller - morale faceoudeteron on August 3rd, 2011 12:01 pm (UTC)
kohl_eyed on August 3rd, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
My favorite bit was the pause in movement before Cao Cao's hair comes loose. ...I could see it happening. And could also see the camera doing a 360-rotation around them, which probably goes to show my imagination is ridiculous, but...it was good.

Hey, crossovers are awesome! (Maybe this will be the fic that gets me into MGS fandom? haha.)

Aaah what the hell, [Bad username: historical_slash] is the comm I meant! but my comment preview informed me it didn't exist anymore! I'm so glad that's not the case... anyway, yes, I totally think it qualifies. I've seen some Gilgamesh/Enkidu there, and I think Three Kingdoms fic may fall under the same category. This fic must be shared with the world wide internets! :D;;
kohl_eyed on August 3rd, 2011 03:48 pm (UTC)
oh, fuck me. that's why the lj tag and urls weren't working...I was remembering the comm name incorrectly. Way to go, self!
See you later, instigator: The Motorcycle Diaries - Walkingoudeteron on August 4th, 2011 01:46 pm (UTC)
Oh, glad to hear that moment in particular stood out! And I wouldn't say the camera thing is weird at all since it gives me a similar impression - the "angle" of perspective isn't fixed in this scene, so it's like you're looking at everything at once/in quick succession. Anyway, thank you again.

I've never been massively into crossovers, but that seems to be rapidly changing. XD (OH HELL YES, you wouldn't regret it. MGS is an amazing fandom/canon.)

(Gilgamesh slash, I do want.) And all right, I'll finally get off my butt to post it there! I'm glad you think this is so shareable. <3
Melmo: cloak and tiemustntgetmy on August 4th, 2011 07:30 pm (UTC)
Tragically, I have no idea what fandom this is, but I just wanted to say that I'm very impressed by all the fanfic you've been posting lately. You're being very productive! I'm jealous.
See you later, instigator: Spaceoudeteron on August 4th, 2011 09:12 pm (UTC)
Aw, thank you! I'm trying to make the best of actually having the time to write what I want at the moment, so that's why. :D
bringing the party to youscintillulae on August 14th, 2011 04:53 am (UTC)
Oude, why you make me so sad. ;3; ♥
See you later, instigator: YTMT - kiss (by hyelle_narmo)oudeteron on August 15th, 2011 01:09 pm (UTC)
It's how I roll. <3