up on melancholy hill

06 May 2021

At any other time, Nie Mingjue would have teased his brother relentlessly and given Jiang Wanyin the worst terrifying talking-to of his life. But they’re in hiding and on the run, being hunted by both their own people and the rest of the world – and this is such a painfully normal teenage thing to experience in the midst of all the bullshit they’re dealing with.

Nie Mingjue figures that he can let his brother have this much, at least.

(Snapshots of some quiet moments during a war)

Chapters: 10
Words: 21,652

up on melancholy hill

Chapter 7


Jin Zixuan got kidnapped (or did he?)

Chapter Notes:

(give zixuan friends 2k21)



“So apparently, Jin Zixuan got kidnapped.”

Several heads look up from the beat-up Monopoly board on the table and turn towards Nie Mingjue standing by the doorway.

Nie Huaisang tilts his head at his brother, very confused. “Kidnapped?”

“As in… Jin Zixuan?” Jiang Cheng follows.

Nie Mingjue nods. “Yep. Jin Zixuan.”

Wei Wuxian blinks up at him. “Like, the peacock?”

“The peacock.” he clarifies.

“Excuse me,” Jin Zixuan interjects from the counter, where he’s busy fussing over some plants. “I’m right here.”

“Unfortunately.” Wei Wuxian mumbles, earning an elbow from Wen Qing.

Nie Mingjue sighs as he steps forward, lays his tablet on the table and taps on the screen to play a video clip of what looks like a news report. There is a photo of Jin Zixuan beside one of Nie Mingjue.

“-confirmed statement by his father and leader of the Jin Faction, Jin Guangshan. The Jin family has been reportedly cooperating with Wen Ruohan of the Wen Faction to subdue powered people who have been attacking innocent civilians-”

“Only when those ‘innocent civilians’ attack first…” Wei Wuxian grumbles, but he’s shushed by the others.

“-main safehouse in Qinghe was found empty, but both Wen Ruohan and the national police force are working to track down other possible bases of this terrorist group reportedly led by Nie Faction leader Nie Mingjue, specially now that they have been confirmed to also be holding kidnapped hostages-”

“Oh wow, so we’re the terrorists now.” Nie Huaisang says, leaning back on his chair, laughing lightly, bitterly.

“And kidnappers.” Nie Mingjue adds.

“Aw, no, that’s just you, da-ge. It’s just your picture on the news- Ow!” he whines, holding his pinched pink cheek.

The brothers are about to start squabbling and the others were grumbling among themselves when the display changes to show an old footage of Wen Ruohan in one of his old public interviews. Everyone goes quiet again.

“-has still not given a statement about what he is planning to do when he has successfully gathered and subdued these powered people, but the National Defense Spokesperson has stated that these terrorists will be held accountable, and that measures will be taken to ensure the safety of our people once again.”

Then, the coverage ends and the news anchor smoothly shifts the topic towards sports.

Wen Qing is the first to recover. “What.”

“That makes no sense.” Jin Zixuan says, finally. “I wasn’t kidnapped. Why would I get kidnapped?”

“Exactly.” Wei Wuxian says, earning him a scowl from the other.

“It’s publicity, of course.” Nie Huaisang says with a shrug. “It makes us look more like the bad guys. Well, the worse guys, I guess. Gives the Wens and the Jins a more legitimate motive to track us down. The government will let them deal with us, do their job for them. Then when it’s done, they’ll come after the Wens and Jins. They probably think they can win, but… well, we know Wen Ruohan’s just playing them, he knows he can deal with them later.”

He stops when he realizes all eyes on the room are on him.


Jin Zixuan blinks at him. “That’s really… smart, coming from you.”

“Hey!” Huaisang pouts. “What do you think I do around here? Sit around and look pretty?”

Jiang Cheng snorts. “That is kinda what you do all day.”

Huaisang turns to him, eyes lighting up. “You think I look pretty?”

“Yes, and also easily-distracted.” Jiang Cheng says, making Nie Huaisang pout at him too, and Wei Wuxian laugh from across the table.

Wen Qing sighs. “He’s right, though. Wen Ruohan doesn’t even see the government as a threat. He can torch them before they can do so much as try to use their so-called “cure” on any of his people. His plan is basically to collect all the shiny useful powers he can get, make sure he’s uncontested, and then take over. Turn the tables.”

“He really thinks we’re superior, huh.” Nie Mingjue rolls his eyes as he picks up his tablet. “Like he’s the sun come down to earth.”

“I hate that people could believe that enough to rally behind it.” Jin Zixuan says with a frown. “His cause, I mean. We’ve been fighting to be seen as equal to the rest of them for so long, and now that things have gotten worse than ever, our own people might just consider his option.”

“No shit, just look at your parents.” Wei Wuxian huffs.

Jin Zixuan opens his mouth to argue, but Nie Huaisang speaks up again.

“No, actually, we should be very worried about that.” he says, looking towards his brother. “Da-ge?”

Nie Mingjue only nods, then looks at Jin Zixuan. “Your parents were only going along with Wen Ruohan because he threatened your safety, right? Now you got out, but he probably made your folks think we took you. They were standing back before, just trying not to be in the way. But what now that it’s personal?”

Zixuan looks down, biting his lip, guilty. “I’m sorry-”

“Hey, no.” Nie Mingjue says. “I’m just saying, you should be prepared to really go against your parents this time, because it looks like they’re getting more involved.”

The younger nods, and Mingjue pats his shoulder before he regards the others in the table, who had all gone quiet. Wei Wuxian looks repentant, at least, for being too harsh on Jin Zixuan about something he had no control over. Lan Wangji rests a hand on his back. Nie Huaisang is poking at the edge of the forgotten Monopoly board, while beside him, Jiang Cheng has leaned back on his chair, arms crossed, scowling at nothing in particular. Wen Qing is fussing over her brother’s hair, smiling at him comfortingly, but her eyes catch Mingjue’s in a short glance and he could see the apprehension there.

Nie Mingjue sighs. They knew the reprieve couldn’t last, but he’s still so… so tired. All of them are.

He clears his throat, and nods at them. “That’s it. We still don’t have enough information to make a move yet, but just stay alert for now.”

The others nod back, some thanking him for the information.

“Huaisang, with me.” he calls, and his brother gets up from his seat to come to his side, latching on to his arm as he turns and heads for the door.

The others watch them leave. After a few moments, Wen Qing gets up as well, following them.

Jin Zixuan goes back to the counter, to fussing over the plants he’d been growing. That’s been his only reprieve since arriving in the Nie safehouse. He had no close friends here – the others were passing acquaintances at best, and some held too much resentment for the Jins and their inaction against Wen Ruohan that he couldn’t blame them for distancing themselves from him too. So instead he found a way to contribute, quietly, out of anyone’s way.

Nevermind that he’d never tried gardening before. He just found some supplies in the safehouse bunker while he was wandering around, then he looked up instructions and followed them by the book. He found out that he actually could make it work. It does work. They have crops. Real food, not just rations and smuggled canned goods.

He’d never been good at something that wasn’t his gift before.

Jin Zixuan is very good with his gift.

He knew, had he stayed with his family any longer, Wen Ruohan would have eventually found a way to pry him from his parents’ protection and use his gift to go after the others, the people he’s now fighting (hiding) with.

After all, what commander wouldn’t want to have a sharpshooter who never misses?

He’s very lucky to get out of there just in time, really. Although now he’s with people who hate him – at least they wouldn’t make him kill .

This is better, he thinks. He is thankful for his gift, but he thinks he finds more purpose in nurturing life, rather than taking it.


When he looks up, there’s Wei Wuxian standing in front of him, poking at one of the pots in the counter, pretending to brush off some stray leaves off of it.

“Yes?” Zixuan says, keeping his attention on his work.

“Uh. About earlier, I-… I didn’t mean to-”

“Yes, you did.” he says, cutting the other off.

That makes Wei Wuxian stop, but only for a second. He’s always been so quick with a comeback. “Fine, yeah, I did.” he says, stubborn, only with a hint of regret.  “And that was really shitty of me.”

“It’s fine. I’ve been here for a while.” he replies, still not looking up at the other teen. “I’m used to it.”

Wei Wuxian doesn’t say anything at that. Jin Zixuan glances up, and he catches how the other turns towards the table – specifically at Jiang Wanyin, who shrugs, mouths something and does some elaborate gesture Jin Zixuan doesn’t bother to decipher. Is that what’s happening? Is Jiang Wanyin making his brother… what, apologize for being – in his own words – shitty?

Zixuan has spent more time with Jiang Wanyin than with Wei Wuxian, and he wouldn’t say they’re friends , but… they’re civil. At least.

Wei Wiuxian rolls his eyes and turns back to Jin Zixuan. “Well… uh. I heard, um- I heard you were the one who tipped us off about the guys who were tailing jiejie and the others to Meishan.”

Jin Zixuan raises an eyebrow. “That was months ago.”

He nearly died for that tip. He risked his position getting the information out to the Nies, and it worked but it also exposed him.

Wen Ruohan had sent him out into the line of fire to get rid of him. And even if that wasn’t the reason, even if the man had just been counting on Jin Zixuan to fight on his side, Zixuan had basically said goodbye to any hope of continuing to fool him and returning to his good graces the moment he decided to turn his gun at the Wen soldier who was about to kill Nie Mingjue and his men that day.

“Yeah, I know.” Wei Wuxian takes a deep breath, still looking hesitant. “Just… I never got to say thanks… for that? Jiejie and the others made it safely ‘cause of that tip. So… thanks, I guess.”

Jin Zixuan simply nods. “Don’t mention it. I just did the right thing.”

He means it, too. He never did that to be thanked. At the time, he didn’t even know Jiang Yanli had been among those people heading to Meishan, he didn’t know who was going to be there at all. All he knew was that there were people – his people – who were in danger and he had to do something .

But… it’s nice, knowing that the gesture was appreciated.

Wei Wuxian looks at him for a second before nodding. “Okay. Well… yeah. Okay. I’m just… gonna go. Before this gets weird.”

It’s already weird for Jin Zixuan, but he’s too tired to argue at this point so he just lets that pass, watching as Wei Wuxian turns and heads back to the table where the others were pointedly trying to appear like they weren’t listening in.

“Hey.” he calls back, and Wei Wuxian turns to look, almost too quickly. “You know, I don’t really want you to, like, be my friend, or to be nice to me.” He sees the beginnings of a frown on the other teen’s lips, so he pushes on, not giving him time to retort – “I just think that maybe, just among us, we can at least try to be civil. We do enough fighting outside already.”

“Oh.” Wei Wuxian blinks, then slowly, he nods again, this time looking almost surprised. “Uh… Sure. Yeah, we can… try that.”

Jin Zixuan doesn’t say anything, and only goes back to his task. Wei Wuxian has probably returned to the table, to their little game of Monopoly, as he hears shuffling and people asking whose turn it is next, and who can pick up for the ones who had left with Nie Mingjue.

They’re familiar sounds to him by now: Wei Wuxian and Jiang Wanyin bickering, Lan Wangji’s one-word answers, Wen Ning’s meek, well-intentioned additions. Until-

“Hey, Jin Zixuan!”

He looks up, and this time, it’s Jiang Wanyin waving a bundle of fake paper money at him. “Huaisang’s probably not gonna be back anytime soon. You wanna play for him?”


That’s new.

He blinks, then looks down at his plants…


They’d grow without him.

“Sure. Give me a minute.” he answers. He washes his hands and pats down his clothes, then joins them at the table, taking the empty seat and accepting the fake money from Jiang Wanyin.

He looks down at whatever properties Nie Huaisang had left behind, and then at the board, and then at his money. “Wow. He’s… not good… at this game.”

That gets a laugh from Wei Wuxian, who is counting his own money. “He’s so bad ! Like, not even unlucky, he’s just terrible.”

“He just got out of jail.” Wen Ning provides kindly.

“Jiang Cheng’s been losing on purpose.” Wei Wuxian adds.

“Shut up.” Jiang Wanyin scowls, then when he sees Jin Zixuan squinting at his money and properties, he huffs and looks away. “Don’t tell him.”

“He probably knows.” Lan Wangji says.

“You shut up too.”

Wei Wuxian frowns. “Jiang Cheng, don’t talk to Lan Zhan like that…”

Then the bickering starts back again, and Jin Zixuan just sighs. Wen Ning hands the dice to him, and he accepts with an awkward smile.

Jin Zixuan is very good with his gift. He can aim at anything and never miss.

He is very good with his plants. It’s a new skill, but one that he has been able to nurture given dedication and time.

He is also very good at Monopoly, but the others at the table don’t need to know that. Even now, looking at the shambles of Nie Huaisang’s horrible playing, he is starting to formulate a plan on how to recover.


Time to win for once.




Chapter Notes:

after that lil scene in the series where my boy was trying to plant lotuses i’m like… just let him have a garden… he will get along with all those plants…. let jin zixuan grow plants!!!

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