Author's note: After a very long break, I present to you Chapter 17 of the Struggle of Yin and Yang. I really don't want to bore you with my excuses here and delay your reading any further. But if you do want to know what made me take so long I am determined to publish it on my Deviant Art journal. Scroll down for the personalized thank you notes. ;)
To all my readers and reviewers you have no idea how grateful I am for your support. I can't thank you enough. Getting more than twenty reviews leaves me no other choice but to continue writing and update. Let's hope this year leaves me enough time for it.
Li Shang opened his eyes as his body reminded him it was time for his morning routine of martial arts. He had barely gotten a couple of hours of sleep the previous night and the night before that was not any different
Just then, he became aware of the small head resting on his chest, the straight raven locks half-concealing her features, and her small toned leg curled around his as if preventing him from leaving the bed. He smile widened his lips at the thought. For all he cared, he could be her captive.
But she was still deep asleep, looking ever so peaceful as her breath rose and fell. He removed the locks of hair covering her face and he could have sworn her lips were slightly arched into a smile.
He remained there motionless, his eyes fascinated at the sight of his new sleeping bride, admiring her beauty and being grateful she was finally his own, his wife. The heavens seemed to have rewarded him, after all the struggle in his life. He slid his fingers gently down the arm she had resting across his chest. He knew he was loved; needless to say, he had grown to adore her.
A gentle wind blew into the room making Mulan shiver in her sleep. Seeing this, Shang pulled the blanket ensuring her back was well covered. She looked so beautiful, so delicate…
The arm resting on his chest was withdrawn with a caress. She opened one eye very slowly and then the other one. She surveyed her surroundings, speechless at first, and then she turned to him and whispered his name.
He simply smiled and stared intently into her dark brown almond shaped eyes. She smiled back at him and idly placed her arm on his side, below his ribs, silently requesting him to approach her.
"Are you cold?" he asked showing true concern.
The young general wanted to provide his new bride with all the comfort possible.
"Not much," she answered, "just the morning chill."
He ran his hands up and down her back to give her warmth. Her eyelids fell shut in relaxation.
"Did you sleep well?"
She hummed in agreement.
"Are you sure?"
It had been the first time they were engaged in the physical act of love, and he feared he may have hurt her. Although he had been tenderly careful he was not able to prevent the inevitable.
"Yes, Shang," she assured placing a finger between his narrowed eyebrows.
He turned to the window and then back to her.
"It's still pretty early," he pointed out, "go back to sleep." His last statement sounded commanding but he immediately made it seem less imperative when he leaned towards her and kissed her forehead.
He was about to lay on his back again, but she prevented him when she stroked his cheek and lead his lips to her own. He granted her silent request by kissing her thoroughly, enjoying every instant of it because he was allowed to. After the night's events they seemed less awkward with each others' presence. Both of them had been nervous due to inexperience and yet longing to be with one another. He was tender and reassuring. She was equally passionate and sweet. He knew then and there he would not trade her for the glory he had sought in the battlefield. Thus, once again, they were caught in the thrill of the infatuation for one another.
It seemed like decades had gone by. Shang was brought to the present at the sound of a cheerful chuckle.
"An amateur could have seen that coming, Li Shang. Come on I'm getting bored of beating you so easily. Give me a challenge!"
General Wan Gan had been close to the Li family every since Shang could remember. He fought alongside his late father and at some point the possibility of uniting their families through marriage had been discussed. But General Li passed away before arrangements could be settled and Li Shang had fallen for his female trainee.
General Wan and his wife had bred seven daughters and not one single son. Thus, he had developed certain fatherly kinship with his late friend's eldest son, which Shang had accepted in his own reserved way.
Shang made another carelessly miscalculated move on the xiang-qi board giving Wan Gan an effortless victory.
"Either you're too troubled to focus, or you let me win out of pity."
The elder man called out his wife, Chun Hua, and asked her to bring them some rice wine.
"I shouldn't" was Shang's immediate response
"Nonsense, you're out of duty," declared Wan Gan.
"No, it's just …I haven't eaten today."
"Why didn't you say so?"
"No, it's fine. The last thing I want is to make you…"
"Wifey didn't want to cook for you today huh?"
"No, it's just that she's at her parents' home."
"What did you two love birds squabble about?"
Shang wished his father's friend would not stalk him with so many questions at once. It was so difficult to conceal things from a man who was proficient at reading people, but he was determined not to discuss his marital problems. He did not confirm or deny the elder man's statement spared from speaking when Chun Hua came back carrying a tray. She placed the bottle of rice wine and two cups before each man, then graciously poured the liquor into them. She bowed and turned to leave.
"Chun Hua, darling, please bring something for the boy to eat."
She nodded and excited the room again.
"So what did you do?"
Shang shook his head and reached for the cup. He sipped as much of the liquid as he could.
The elder man placed a hand on his arm. "Easy, you should put something in your stomach first. Your little wifey will not be too happy if you go home smelling like wine."
Shang nodded and placed the cup back on the table.
"You know I can't help you if you don't talk."
Shang sighed helplessly. The man was right. He needed advice. He had no idea how to deal with the current events at home. In spite of the fact he was still disappointed with Mulan keeping things from him, he was no longer angry at her.
"I was a real idiot to her when she needed me to be more understanding. I put my own feelings before considering how hard it must have been to her, and I blamed her for things she had no fault for."
"Is this about what happened on your last mission?"
Shang felt ashamed of himself. True he was innocent, but was aware of the rumors spread and the effect they had on his reputation, even the emperor, who trusted him blindly, seemed to be doubtful about the events of that night. The last thing he needed was his father's old friend to misjudge him.
"No, we discussed that already, and she knows the truth. I wouldn't be unfaithful to her."
"Then, was she?"
"No, I know she wouldn't. She is the most loyal person I know." His last statement said without hesitation.
"Then what can be so terrible you two can't sit down and talk it through?
"Well, she has been different around me, easily irritated, oversensitive…."
"She lost it," Shang shut his eyes painfully, "before she knew she was, apparently."
"I am so sorry." By now the elder man had placed a hand on Shang's back and patted him lightly in a fatherly fashion.
"When she finally told me, all I did was yell at her and blame her for hiding the truth from me."
"She must have had her motives."
"It hurt me she didn't tell me and I ran to get away from her. I couldn't be with her I felt so betrayed, just like the time I discovered she was a woman, only this time, the aggravation felt more personal. Why would she keep something so important from me? I am her husband."
"It must have been very difficult for her. I understand your position, but you should know she needs you now. She needs your understanding, even forgiveness. You need to be strong for her. You cannot compare the grief she must be feeling with the hurt you feel for her keeping that information secret."
"I know," he went on, "I just wish she wouldn't have to go through this. She doesn't deserve it. She has put up with Chan Yuan's incessant nagging. She gave up her place on the army to marry me. She is the one person who has been there for me unconditionally. If there was something I could have done to prevent this, I would have gladly done it…"
"There isn't, Li Shang. You just have to learn to live with it, the same way you have lived with your parents' deaths. As painful as it is, it has molded your character. The ordeals we receive from the heavens are not necessarily punishments for our mistakes," the elder man spoke knowingly. " we are not assigned challenges we cannot overcome. You are a warrior and so is she . This tragedy will make you both grow stronger. If you support her, she will heal. She needs your strength and not your weaknesses. It is time you repay all that she has done for you. She needs her husband, and most importantly she needs you to help her get rid of the guilt.
Shang nodded having no arguments against his confidant's last words.
"So go now. Don't waste your time with this old man and mend things with your wife."
So how did you like it? Please let me know.
I apologize if there are any typos here. If you do notice some mistake and tell me, I will gladly correct it.
I do reply private messages in you're interested.
I've been considering of thanking people through private messages whenever they log in to review. I will do it on the next chapter.
I have been working on improvements for this story and Yin Yang Out of Balance.
Although my passive role on proves otherwise, I have been working on several one-shots and possible plots.
On 2013 we celebrate the 15th Anniversary of Mulan's release on theaters and the Mulan blu-ray is coming soon.
Personalized THANK YOU NOTES :
PriTuesday: My most recent review. Reading it really made me get my hands to type faster. The reasons why I didn't update any sooner were basically work and the uncertainty regarding to where the story was going. Good news is the story found its way again. In spite of the years it's taken me to complete this, I promise I will not quit. ;)
Ifassmann: Thank you for the three reviews. I cannot deny it's been a bit difficult for me to write this situation, especially since I was uncertain about the readers' reactions. Time and my schedule are always against me, but I'm working on it. So, you're a fellow teacher? You know how it is
I-love-Mulan13: Thank you for your kind words. I will try not to disappoint you.
Guest and Cryptic Moon Fang: I will.
MyahLyah: Thank you for reading and leaving your thoughts on several chapters. I really appreciate my readers' insights. Indeed, it was very difficult on Shang. He has had a very difficult and lonely life. Mulan has been his light, seeing her broken shatters everything within Shang. I did not exactly intend to make him seem like a jerk. However, I did want him to react to her news in a way it reflected the mixture of emotions he felt at once: anguish, guilt, betrayal, regret, sadness, deception. In other words, it was too much for him to handle, and he wanted to set himself apart from Mulan with the intention of processing his own feelings, like when he discovered Ping was a woman. He certainly does not mean harm, but ends up wounding Mulan with his actions, mostly because he lacks the emotional wisdom. (Not that he's a fool, but most of us agree that his father was not exactly the most affectionate parent, and with all the military training, he was likely to be taught to control and contain his emotions rather than show them. So I figure that's why he prefers to be alone when he finds out.
Livingintheshire: I apologize. He is a very complex human being. He is a good man though.
patty: Thank you for your kind words, they are very motivating for me.
Fatcake: :') Thank you for your kind words.
Monique221:Thank you. Glad you do.
Vgfujdfhhjnb: Sorry about the delay. Thank you.
Diany: Thank you for liking my story. I really hope you will get to read this update.
Sangofan89: I won't give up. Thanks for the good vibes and motivation.
Queenofwaves: I encourage you to write and publish. I'm glad you enjoy reading my story as I enjoy writing it. Thank you for your kind words.
Canadarulz: Can't really argue with that. Lol. However, we both know he's not really that big. Lol.
Starzinmieyez: Yay! Welcome. I love how deep Mulan and Shang can get, that's why I love to write about them.
Alice Prince: Once again thank you for your insight, it really encourages me to go on with the story.
GothicGoddess29: Thank you so much for the kind words.
bairin breac: Thank you very much.
feli3: Stay tuned for future chapters. Mulan and Shang still have a long way of things to learn.
Phantasmic Dragon: Yay! You noticed what I intended to do. Thank you so much for your insight.
MeaXD: Thank you.
Mulan and Shang Forever: Thank you for the insight. I am working on the story.
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