Mulan: Wo Ai Ni

*Disclaimer: * Mulan is © Disney Company. Li Shang, on the other hand, is a completely different matter.

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Mulan—Wo Ai Ni

Part II—Three Welcome Guests

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'I told you he'd be here!' a short, round man hissed to his tall, lanky friend. 'You owe me!'

'Fine, fine,' Ling muttered, drawing a bit of cash from his pocket and tossing it at Yao. 'You win the bet.'

'Now, now, let's be calm and rejoice in the finding of our comrades,' Chien-po said mildly, coming up from behind them.

'Right,' said Yao, jumping out from the bushes they were hiding in and running to the compound, where they had seen their former captain at work.

'Oh Piiiiing!' Ling sang out. 'We're heeeeere.'

'Save me,' Mulan said under her breath, albeit with a grin, to Shang as she ran to meet her friends. 'Oh good, you finally made it,' she said warmly, leading them inside the walls.

'Ma, Baba, let me introduce you to three of my war friends,' she said, as she saw her parents come to the door curiously. 'This is Yao, Ling, and Chien-po,' naming them as she pointed. Ma smiled warmly and invited them inside for tea.

'So where's Shang?' asked Ling, over tea. 'I could have sworn I saw him—hey Yao, I want my money back!'

'Shang's out in the fields,' answered Mulan, actually a bit embarrassed. She hadn't asked Shang to work for her family—for free, no less. He had simply…started. She would stop and observe him when she had a free moment, admiring the way his lean, strong muscles rippled under his slightly tanned skin, the way beads of sweat would drip from his face….

Not that she would have ever admitted it to anyone.

'He's actually working them, as a favour,' Mulan added.

'Oh really?' said Ling slyly. 'Makes me wonder what else he's been working…?'

While Yao burst into laughter, Mulan blushed the brightest crimson possible and Ma clapped her hands over her ears. Chien-po looked at Ling reproachfully.

'That is no way to talk when the ladies are present,' he said in a sort of mild reproof. 'In fact, that is no way to talk at any time, no matter who is present. Such hot thoughts interrupt our natural balances.'

Ma nodded in accordance with Chien-po. She couldn't be outright rude, however, so she settled for simply sipping her tea with dignity.

Mulan on the other hand was not so refined. She accidentally knocked into Ling's elbow, making him spill scalding tea all in his lap. 'Ai-yeee!' cried Ling, jumping up. Yao put down his tea first, then fell on the floor, laughing. Chien-po tried to help by blotting at the stain with a napkin, but it only made Ling feel worse. 'Aaaaaah! Get away from me!' He danced around, fanning at his tunic with a hand, resisting the urge to take off his clothes and splash cold water on himself.

'These are the men that helped saved China from the Huns?' asked Ma incredulously. Mulan giggled.

'They behave…sometimes,' she answered, even as she raised an eyebrow at the writhing blob on the floor that was Yao, Ling, and Chein-po. Now this was going too far; this was no way to behave at a host's house! Mulan stood up and placed her hands on her hips, about to whistle for attention when she heard a soft padding.

Shang came into the room, shirtless and sweaty, looking around with knit brows. 'I heard someone scream—' he broke off as he observed the three, who had stopped in the middle of their tussle to look up at their former commander. 'Why does this bring back memories?' Shang murmured to Mulan, thinking of the first day at Wu Zhong.

'Déja vu,' Mulan replied, as the three friends straightened themselves.

'I heard a scream…that must have been you, Ling,' Shang said, clapping the tall man on the back. 'It did sound rather girly.'

'Hey!' Mulan and Ling protested at the same time, both lightly punching Shang.

'There's our Cap'n, showing off as usual,' Yao muttered good-naturedly, grinning up at Shang.

'There's our Yao, idiotic as usual,' Shang replied, also clapping him on the back.

'Have you found your peace yet, Captain?' asked Chien-po.

'My peace? My piece of what?' replied the commander, purposefully dodging the question. Truthfully, the question made him uncomfortable. He didn't know if he'd found his peace yet. He was a celebrated hero of China…he lived in a comfortable village with comfortable people…but he knew he wasn't complete. He knew something was missing. Knew someone was missing.

Ling, however, could think of an answer to Shang's question. 'Your piece of—' Chein-po sensed what Ling was going to say before the man said it, and clapped a hand over his mouth.

'Yeah, Ling,' said Yao, 'if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all.' He stuck his tongue out at the taller man and Ling was about to start again before Mulan capably pushed them apart.

'Behave, children,' she warned them.

**

The eyes that sparkle brighter than the stars in the night,

The face that shines with a radiant light,

The scent of sandalwood clinging to the robes,

Emerald rings dripping from her earlobes….

Shang threw down his brush in exasperation, making interesting ink blots across the parchment he had been writing on. His poem was horrible. Even he knew that. He had wanted to surprise Mulan and write a love poem to her, but he couldn't. Whatever his skills were, one of them wasn't poetry.

Is there really only one way to tell her? Shang mused. Can I just go up to her and say I love you? That didn't seem sophisticated enough, special enough, for Mulan.

I've only known her for six months, but already I feel as if she's my best friend, Shang said to himself. He was confused; for all his military and tactical brilliance, he seemed to be more than just slightly lacking in the personal relationships department.

Then again, he really hadn't much time for personal relationships before.

Before he could think any more, Mulan herself joined him. He quickly stuffed the parchment with his half-written poem under his futon. He didn't even think of the inpropriety of Mulan joining him in his room.

'Thank you for your work in the fields,' she said, not looking at him. She coloured slightly as she remembered Ling's unwelcome remark.

Shang waved it aside. 'It's nice,' he admitted. 'I like having something to do.'

'We can go down to the village tomorrow,' Mulan suggested, still not looking at him. He was so good-looking…but more than that, Mulan had feelings toward the man. True they were nice feelings…warm, and comforting…but they also made her slightly uncomfortable around him. She knew that if she truly loved him, she couldn't be uncomfortable around him, else how would they spend any time together? Yet that's the way she felt…

Shang sensed that Mulan was spacing out completely and said, 'Oh yeah, I wanted to tell you: I'm really a deranged pyschopath and I put your pet Little Brother in a pot of boiling water to make stew.'

Shang's rouse worked. Mulan snapped out of her thoughts and whipped around to stare at him. 'You what?' she demanded, jumping up.

Shang got up leisurely. 'Relax,' he said, laughing a little. 'I noticed you were out of it, so I just said something I knew would get you awake.'

Mulan turned narrowed eyes at him. 'That wasn't funny,' she insisted, even as Shang chuckled to himself.

'Yes, it was,' Shang replied. Mulan was only more annoyed by the fact that she felt the corners of her own mouth start to twitch upwards.

'Fine,' she said, crossing her arms and turning away slightly. 'See if Little Brother is ever your friend again.' She was only teasing, playing along with Shang's little game. We're such good friends now, Mulan reflected, actually a bit surprised. We're playing together like old friends.

She wasn't complaining, not at all. Just so surprised. At Wu Zhong, Shang had remained on more or less friendly terms with everyone—it was an occupational hazard of being Captain—but Mulan hadn't seen him go with any one particularly.

'I don't want Little Brother to be my friend,' Shang retorted, amused at the sheer immaturity of it all. Ah well, he thought, we do need to relax sometimes. We just need to have fun.

Mulan spun around on her heels to stick her tongue out at him….

…She tripped on the hem of her robes…

…And she fell right into Shang…

…Knocking him over, so that Mulan lay on top.

Suddenly, the immaturity and relaxed air of the room went straight out the window. Instead, it was replaced by an all too adult situation. With all too adult feelings.

Shang thought wildly that he would have to make sure that next time, he was on top.

Mulan was frozen, locked into position.

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A/N: Thanks to all who reviewed! Nine reviews isn't terrible: I am for at least 10 per chapter—but thanks anyway. Sooo…what did you think of part two? Not nearly as long as Part I, but I had to end this on a slight cliffhanger. This is more of a sidestory, not really a mainstream project for me. This is only a (hopefully) amusing little story in which I try to experiment and generally improve.

Wired Akane: Oooh, sorry about the use of kimono and futon, although I thought kimono was used in both China and Japan. And I remember reading somewhere that bo was actually Chinese…although, of course, it is the bamboo stick they used for training. Thanks for the warnings though!