|A Girl Worth Fighting For
Author: Silver Storm Dragon PM
A little insight into Shang's mind from "A Girl Worth Fighting For" onwards. Starts off light-hearted...but that doesn't last. Obviously SMRated: Fiction K+ - English - Drama/Romance - Words: 3,025 - Reviews: 37 - Favs: 58 - Follows: 9 - Published: 05-13-05 - id: 2392271
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Something was wrong with Li Shang. Very wrong.
Captains in the army did not fall in love with soldiers. And any that did were soon removed from their posts. Because it was very, very important to have a girl worth fighting for.
Not a BOY worth fighting for.
But something was wrong.
Because Li Shang was feeling things. Horribly strong, important, striking, screaming things. Things that made him want to hurt things. Lots of things. So many things.
Li Shang was falling for his best soldier, Fa Ping.
Ping. It was a stupid name to begin with. And that damn soldier had been so inept-if it wasn't for his determination and intelligence and lithe body-
Oh, something was so very, very wrong.
But if he hadn't had-those things-then he wouldn't be here. He would've gone home. And Shang wouldn't have this damn problem. Because it was a problem.
It wasn't even just am idle fascination and vague attraction. Oh no. It was worse than that.
Because he got a horrible, chilling, exciting, thrilling, but o so wrong feeling that Ping felt the same. That Ping was going through this...this TORTURE.
He'd tested it. He had. He'd casually practised with his shirt off, and seen the way Ping followed his every move. Admittedly, so were the others, because he was demonstrating, but there had been something different in Ping's look. There was the look of obediance, but also a look of longing...oh, the longing.
Notably, Ping never, ever, ever practiced with his shirt off. Ever. It surprised him. Most of the others did. Admittedly, sometimes Ping wore only his tunic, but never simply without shirt. Maybe he was just shy, but Shang was suspsicious. He also kinda wanted to see Ping shirtless.
So very, very wrong...
He felt a terrible need to go over and speak to Ping, but there was no way. Even if by some twist of fate Ping was a woman whom he'd be able to shyly woo (how it was a man could be fierce in battle but brought to his knees by a pretty face he'd never know, although he feared he was learning.), he was a captain, and there was no way that he'd be able to talk to this...person. Rank got in the way. He couldn't even have a casual conversation with the boy!
The men were discussing (actually, they were singing, but considering that bursting into song had been one of his first actions he was in no position to criticise them) the girls they had back home. Or rather girls they wanted to have back home. Shang rubbed his eyes a little as he lead them forward.
"How bout a girl who's got a brain? Who always speaks her mind...?"
For a moment there, it had seemed that Ping's voice was feminine. Very odd. Very odd indeed. Although it was highly likely this was just wishful thinking. He sighed regretably. He also had to admit he actually took some small joy in the fact that Ping had seemed so uncomfortable talking about the kind of girl he liked-much as Shang was sure he himself would, at least right now.
Although he had to admit, it was an odd thought. A woman with a brain, who had an opinion, who was independant. Shang was intrigued. He'd always assumed he'd marry whoever the Matchmaker lined him up with, but thinking about it, it could be interesting to find someone for himself...It wouldn't be hard, he wasn't that bad looking...But what kind of girl? (Provided, of course, that he didn't stay hung up on this Ping character. Of course, if he was, then he may have to find a wife anyway, for appearences if nothing else)
What kind of girl...
She'd have to be a bit like him. Courageous. His father had always told him there were different types of courage. Thinking about it, it could be nice to have a girl he could have a real conversation with (the girls back home had usually giggled shyly and hidden behind their fans when he's spoke to them), who had her own opinions, who he'd be able to trust and confide in. More best friend than wife.
But what would she look like?
He looked back, and caught Ping's eye. Ping blushed a little and looked away, at least he seemed to. Although at this point, Shang could've been seeing anything.
It wasn't hard to imagine a female version of Ping. Ping was very much a pretty boy...no, not pretty, beautiful. It hadn't been until he'd seen Ping that he'd realised why people spoke about pretty boys. Admittedly, he was often called a pretty boy, but if that meant he had the same effect on people Ping had on him, that struck him as a good thing-it would be nice to be a sensual torturer.
He raised his eyes, and the snowy scene met his eyes. But it wasn't the snow that stood out, it was the red. It was almost like someone had seen a perfectly white sheet and decided to ruin it by throwing red paint over it. But it wasn't paint. He knew it wasn't.
The sky was blood red. There was fire. A villiage, charred, burnt. The Huns had been here.
All of the frivalous thoughts before lost all meaning, and an all-encompassing guilt filled him. He had been back there, worrying about the pettiness of this stupid crush, and here were his father's troops-
His father was here.
Time stopped having any kind of meaning, nor distance. He gave his order mechanichally-"Search for survivors." He couldn't search. He wouldn't be able to. The villiage fell apart as he rode through it. Uncounsciously he searched desperately.
There was Ping. He held a doll. "I don't understand. My father should've been here."
Ping looked as if he was about to speak, give a word of reassurance, comfort maybe, but there was a summons.
Blood. Fallen men. Much worse than in the villiage.
Chien Po was coming over...carrying a helmet...no...no...not the helmet...please...no...
It was his father's. Silently he took it. His eyes closed. He walked away. The men would not see him like this. They would not see his emotion. It was not proper. He was their leader. He had to be strong.
He looked over the hills. His sword plunged into the snow, and he tentatively placed the helmet upon it. It was not a grave. It was a monument. He tried to look on it positively-here was another ancestor to watch over them, to care for them. But he still felt the ache of loss, nothing would make this right, nothing could make this right. For the first time in a long time, he felt painfully and bitterly alone.
He looked to face him. Ping. He wasn't alone. Not completely. Briefly he touched the younger man's shoulder, able to ignore the electricity that laced the touch. There were bigger things to worry about. They had to go on to war. He sat upon his horse, told them how they had to go on to war and fight. How they were the last chance. He didn't let his grief get in their way.
But he did feel something strong. He felt trust, respect, compassion. All through this touch. Ping cared, and that meant more than anything else. This was a good person.
He looked back as they rode on, saw Ping place that small doll at his father's monument. Truly this man was special. Different. He was a man worth fighting for, and worth fighting with.
Life passed as a blur. Everything seemed to have paled in importance now, now he was left without his father. Perhaps not without, perhaps he was still being cared for. All he knew was physical contact with his father was lost, and that ached. It was difficult to look at the bigger picture. The war began, Shang was angry. Ping had given away their position, he was struck by an arrow, but he felt a strong sense of vengence. He would be able to avenge his father. He would beat them. All of them. It was with a twisted feeling that he lead the attack-not pleasure, not even justice, just a numb sense of payment. But there were so many, it was hard to see a way out, not that he would give up.
"If we die, we die with honour."
Swords were raised, the cannon was aimed-
"Ping! Come back!"
He was insane. Not just insane. Ignorant. What was he doing! This boy was crazy. This boy...why? What had he done to get this loose cannon, this insane individual in his army? Why? Shang ran after him. What else could he do? He had to stop this.
But...He was saving them. Shang watched the avalanche tumble over the soldiers.
He felt Ping's tug on his arm as he was dragged to run. But this was all too hard, he was being pulled under. Ping was trying to help him, trying to bring him back up again. But part of him couldn't struggle. He would be with his father. But people were fighting for him-Ping was fighting for him. He heard him cry his name-he was delusional, it sounded so feminine-but he kept feeling that it was too late. At least he would die with honour. He had done what he could, fought for his country, his father.
He was awake. He was breathing. He was lying in the snow, but but he was alive.
"Ping, you are the craziest man I've ever met. And for that, I owe you my life. From now on, you have my trust." He touched his arm. And suddenly all the feelings of before, the petty crush paled in comparison to the look in Ping's eyes. He, Li Shang, had put that look there. He felt strength rage in him. He trusted his man. But more than anything, he loved this man. Of course he did. He knew that now. It didn't matter, did it? In the scheme of things, the fact that he'd fallen in love with a man didn't mean a thing. He promised silently that whatever it took, he'd protect Ping.
The others were cheering, not that it mattered. He pulled Ping to his feet-a strange connection was there now, a strange respect that only evolved from the saving of a life. A bond was there that was unbreakable. Trust. Need.
But suddenly a pain ripped through him as he saw the suffering etched onto Ping's face. Ping stumbled to his knees. Shang realised that he would do anything, anything at all to remove this pain. He wanted to save him, just as he had been saved. The moment he saw the blood on those hands, his heart beat raced faster than it ever had before. Ping was falling. His eyes were closing. Shang caught him.
It was all he could do to carry him as the others set up camp. He sat on the ground with Ping's head on his lap, supported by his arms. What could he do? He felt powerless. One of the men had gone to fetch a doctor, one who would be able to help. Soon there was a tent.
He carried Ping through, as if he was his bride being carried over the threshold. He laid Ping down-who twitched a little at the change. That had to be a good sign. It had to be. He tenderly kissed Ping's forehead, not realising what he'd done until it was over. He felt a sense of shock rush over him. What on earth was he doing! Protocal! Duty! Honour! He couldn't do this. Not at all. It was monumentally futile. He was just giving himself unfounded hopes. There was a difference between knowing what you felt and acting on it.
Ping was smiling a little.
Shang sighed darkly. Could anyone blame him? With a smile like that-
He left the tent. The medic had arrived.
He paced. To and fro. Fro and to. To and fro. Fro and to.
"Is he alright!"
"Yes...but there is something you should know, Li Shang. The one in there-it is not a man."
"What? No...Let me see."
"It is true."
He opened the tent-there was no way, of course Ping was a man, how could they be so blind?
How could he be so blind? She sat up. She smiled. Of course. Ping was a woman. Of course. His heart thumped in his chest as some kind of relief flooded him, but at the same time a feeling of betrayal and pain. Ping-whoever she was-had lied to him. Deceived him.
"I can explain-" That voice. Of course. Feminine. Of course Ping had sounded so sweet. Of course Ping was compassionate.
There was a world of things he wanted to say, but nothing could get past his lips.
"So it's true!" Chi Fu. Of course. Yes. It was true. How had he missed this? It was so obvious. Painfully obvious.
He turned around, left. "Shang..."
The words that he could never say... He walked onwards. He couldn't look at her. He was vaguely aware that Ping was being shown as a woman to the troops-it was easy to see with her figure. Of course she's never trained withou her shirt on. All was falling into place now. He wondered, briefly, how she had kept it secret. It must've been so difficult... But then, he already knew how intelligent she was. Perhaps this had all been a game. Perhaps it had been something to tax her mind beyond married life-she must've been, what, 17? 3 years younger than himself. Perhaps this young woman, this little girl, was impudent enough to just want to escape.
His father had always taught him to respect women. Whilst men and women were different, they both had their contribution to make. He knew that well. His mother had been educated, his father had enjoyed intellectual conversation. Now that he thought about it, most of the women he'd known had been bright. He had always been told by other men that women, although valuable to society, were below men. In some ways, it was through realising she was a woman that he knew how wrong that assumption was.
She was thrown to the floor. "My name is Mulan." She remained defiant, even now. "I did what I did to save my father."
He looked at her. She was begging for his mercy. His understanding.
"I didn't mean for it to go this far."
"It was the only way! Please, believe me."
He felt confusion rage within him. Of course he understood. Of course he believed her. Why else? He knew her... He respected her. But that didn't change the law-it hit, then, the full impact. The penalty. Death. Delivered by him.
Every part of him screamed that he couldn't do it. He wouldn't do it. But what reason? He couldn't tell them that he couldn't kill her because he loved her...of course he couldn't. He pulled her sword, raised it in front of her.
She closed her eyes. She was ready. But did she really think he would kill her? That he could? That hurt more almost more than the betrayal.
He threw the sword in front of her. She looked at it, then him, in disbelief.
"A life for a life. My debt is repaid." Even though in some ways he felt comforted by this knowledge of who she really was, she had still lied to him. Betrayed him. Deceived him. Confused him. He was torn.
And he left.
For a moment he considered returning. He looked back at her. She met his eyes, and he kept looking until she was beyond his sight. He ripped his eyes away, even though he knew it wouldn't make it better.
But at least now he knew: Fa Mulan really was a girl worth fighting for. And he would. No matter what it took, he'd fight for her. He'd try to defend her. Even though he was angry now, he couldn't stay that way. Not now. Not now he knew how he felt.
/Hope that was enjoyable! Mainly inspired by listening to "I'll Make A Man Out Of You" and "A Girl Worth Fighting For" on repeat. Oh, and seeing Mulan 2. And listening to "Lesson Number One." I love that song. Been singing it a lot. Much to the irritation of my friends. Great fun. Oh, and waiting for my DVD of Mulan to arrive (It did, which is why this has accurate quotes in it XD)
I've always been intrigued by how Shang would feel, falling for this person, the emotional turmoil, before suddenly realising and knowing that it's OK for him to feel that way, but at the same time the betrayal...I hope that comes across here. Oh, and this is just a one-shot. Obviously y'all know what happens, lol. However, I am thinking of doing something about the ending-from round about "I..You fight good." Which is one of my favourite Shang lines. Ever. (Apart from one of the deleted scenes where they're meant to be betrothed at the beginning, and he sees her and says "Wow! You're worth 5 pigs! And a cow)
Don't own, Don't sue.