Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. (Though it might be nice to have the rights to Li Shang).
Warning: I do not write Mulan fic generally speaking and wrote this story as both a favor and dare to a friend. If you have a problem with sexy fic, don't read it, and get some psychiatric help.
At first glance, one would not believe that they were looking at the same thing. Maybe they weren't the same. There were stories…childish tales, superstitions, that spirits wandered the earth at night, and that some of these spirits, malicious or just mischievous, would alter the appearance of a thing to confuse those who should have known enough to be in bed by midnight. Looking at the stream now was enough to make Mulan wonder and shiver in remembered childhood fear.
In the light and heat of day, the
stream that ran along the army encampment was a sluggish, fat snake that had
gorged itself and could not move. But at night, when the cool breezes whispered
along its surface and the high midnight moon turned it to quickened, molten
silver, it was easy to believe that a powerful magician had transformed the
stream into his private paradise, and that there would be consequences to her
Mulan shivered again at the thought before glancing cautiously into the willow trees for watching eyes. Any danger was much more likely to come from the curious eyes of her fellow soldiers if they should catch her bathing here and discover her secret. They would probably run to Captain Li with the news and he would undoubtedly delight in carrying out the will of the Emperor.
No, that was wrong of her. She shook her head and her loose hair fell in front of her eyes. She'd seen how fair Captain Li actually was with his troops, well, with everyone but her. With her, well, with Ping, he was stone-faced and usually angry. But she could hardly blame him for that. Until just recently she had proven so useless that she'd probably made his work a thousand times harder for him. But she'd worked hard to prove to him, and to herself, that she could do it. And the surprised warmth in his eyes at her improvement had made it all seem worth it.
Unfortunately, that was also why she needed to sneak away most nights to bathe. The cool stream washed away the dirt and soothed her aches until she felt ready to face another day.
Mulan peeked around to make sure that Mushu was keeping an eye out, but not in her direction, and then undid the belt of her robe and let it fall. She stood shivering in the moonlight for a moment before diving smoothly under the water's surface. She came up for air a few seconds later, some distance downstream, too far away to hear her dragon's whining. Mulan smiled. Good. Now it was just her and the moon. The silent moon.
She floated on her back for a moment before flipping over with a sigh and swimming to the large rock situated in the center of the little stream. It wasn't tall, but it would have been long enough for all of Captain Li Shang to stretch out on the top—if he'd been the type to lay out in the sun to rest—but it had steep, almost flat sides that would have made climbing to the top almost impossible. She could just see sacrifices to a river deity laid out on top, or perhaps a pair of lovers stretched out there instead. Mulan gasped at the thought, so unlike her, and shook her head.
She held onto a small crevice in the rock with one hand and let herself float, idly kicking her legs every few seconds. The water seemed very chilled suddenly, or maybe she was too heated. She felt the hot blush that was a result of her wayward thoughts and briefly ducked her head in the water, as if that would wipe away the image as well as her reaction to it.
But the vision would not leave her, and she knew why. She had only moments before imagined Li Shang lying on that rock. It had not taken much for her to imagine herself there with him, both naked as if ready for bathing, his arms pulling her to him…
Mulan stopped herself with a shocked breath. Where had these thoughts come from? Even the worst of the other soldiers' bragging had not painted so nearly a vivid a picture in her mind, or created so strong a reaction in her body. She felt heavy suddenly, weighted down, even in the water, as heated and sluggish as this stream at noon. Her mother had not mentioned this heat in her talks about what would happen between a man and a woman. A husband and a wife.
It must be this place. Mulan shook her wet hair from her face and scowled. It was her imagination and that was all. Something Mushu would laugh about if she ever told him. Not that she would. She did not want to share the sensations of her pounding heart and flushed skin with her little guardian—even if he could explain them.
Thinking of Mushu's concern for her, Mulan decided it was best to return now. She raised herself up to dive under the surface again and stopped at the long, tired sigh that came from the shadows of the riverbank. She ducked down immediately until only her face was visible and pressed her back against the rock, hoping the shadow created by the crescent moon above would conceal her. Then she waited tensely to see who also liked to roam with the night spirits.
Her breath caught as Captain Li emerged from the willows, as if conjured by that playful sorcerer she had envisioned earlier. Li Shang wore only a loose coat and pants; his chest bare as it had been at training that morning. A towel dangled from one large hand; he was obviously here with the intention to bathe.
Even as she realized this and wondered how best to disappear without attracting his attention, he stopped short at the bank and sat down. Then he sighed again and rested his head in his hands. A moment later his shoulders sagged. Li Shang looked tired in body and soul, the thought popped into Mulan's mind and refused to leave. She had never seen him this way before.
She could still hear his many arguments with Chi Fu ringing in her ears, and could still see the determination in his eyes to turn all of his men, including her, into the best troops in the Imperial Army, even when she had repeatedly failed at her tasks. Yet he continued to rise before any of them, ready to patiently begin another day of training.
He should be in bed, her
mind scolded, yet here he was, past midnight and awake. So are you,
and you are just as tired, that same voice now scolded her.
Mulan ignored the voice and allowed her eyes to travel from his shoulders to his expansive chest as he inhaled deeply. The vision of the together on the rock came to her mind again, and this time she let it linger momentarily, imagining the Li Shang as he was now as the lover on the rock. She knew such thoughts were supposed to be forbidden to an unmarried girl, especially one in her situation, but that did not stop her from dwelling on his form.
Shang's hands slowly reached up to
loosen his hair from its leather binding. As she watched, the heavy strands
swung freely around the angles of his face as he stripped off his coat and
threw it casually to the ground. The muscles of his chest and arms were
outlined by the moonlight as they had never been by the sun, creating shadows
and secret places that she felt suddenly compelled to explore. Mulan had only a
moment to imagine touching him there before Shang reached down to remove his
Her breath left her completely as she studied him. There was only a brief second before he plunged into the water, but it was more than enough time for her to see every last inch of him. That strange heat poured over her skin again and she pressed a hand to her chest, feeling how the pounding of her heart echoed by the throbbing of her breasts.
Ancestors, she prayed for guidance silently as Li Shang came up for air. He must have been able to touch the floor of the stream, for most of him above the waist was visible, to her delight and embarrassment. Drops of silver were dripping from every curve of muscle and she wondered if his skin would be as heated as hers was if he saw her now; if the cool waters would not help sooth his fever either. The idea of his eyes on her, seeing her as she'd seen him sent a shiver down her spine and she sighed.
Shang turned sharply toward the direction of the rock at the sound and Mulan struggled not to breathe and give herself away than she already had.
"Who's there?" he demanded in his usual hard voice. His posture said that he wished he had a sword. Other than that he didn't seem at all upset at being unarmed and naked. Mulan waited, hoping he would dismiss the sound but he moved a step forward warily.
"Please, don't come nearer!" she called out in a panicked voice. She didn't realize until after she'd said it that she hadn't deepened her voice like Ping's.
Shang went very still. She saw the quick look of disbelief come and go on his face before he hid it.
"There are no women around here for many li," he announced loudly. "Who are you?" He did not relax his tense posture. Mulan pressed herself back into the rock until she could feel it marking her skin.
"I'm no one important…" she started to say, wondering if he would chase her if she tried to swim away. Shang only raised one eyebrow at her words; it was clearly visible despite the shadows.
"A woman around a hundred soldiers is in danger," he insisted, somewhat pompously.
"I'm not in danger from them right now," she muttered irritably, but the whispers carried across the water to Shang.
"You are in no danger from me, lady."
Mulan snorted and clapped a hand over her nose in embarrassment. Then she tried to compose herself. She could feel him waiting for her to reply.
"I am not a lady." The words should have been firm, but her voice was oddly soft.
"Then maybe you are a spirit or a witch come to trap me."
Watching him carefully, Mulan saw how his mouth relaxed into a smile at the words. Her mouth fell partially open in shock at the almost flirtatious tone in his voice.
"This stream is enchanted, you know," she heard herself answer and shook her head in amazement. She wondered if she really was under a spell to act this way. She should be swimming away.
"Is it?" Shang tilted his head to one side. "Are you going to kidnap me and keep me from my responsibilities?" His question was quiet and wistful. Mulan felt an ache in her chest.
"Do you want me to?" It was the sort of question that should have been asked from behind the folds of a fan. Shang made a sound that was both a sigh and a laugh.
"If you are as beautiful as your voice, I might be tempted." The low-voiced comment brought her a few feet from the rock.
"You think my voice is beautiful?" Mulan relaxed a bit without truly being aware of the change in her, and closed her eyes, thinking of it. Shang did not answer. After a few moments, when he still had not said anything, she frowned delicately, hoping he hadn't gone and the magic was over. She sighed.
"What thought makes you frown, Sister Goddess?" Shang spoke again; his voice closer than it should have been. Mulan opened her eyes and gasped to see Li Shang standing only a foot or so away, staring down at her. It was too dark for her to read his eyes, but she could feel the heat of his body though only her head and neck were above water.
She stared up into his face for a long, still moment before making a move to dash under the water and swim away. He reached out just as fast and grabbed her arm gently. His touch on her shoulder stopped her, half-turned away from him. His skin was hot. As warm as she was, it shouldn't have been, but she could feel the heat in his fingertips.
"Stay, spirit, goddess, whatever you are." His words were commanding, but his tone was close to pleading and his voice was rough. It brought the ache back to her chest.
Slowly, she turned back around, keeping her head down so her chin was nearly in the water. Shang lowered his hand as she did. It brushed against the tip of her breast and something sharp and sweet shot from there to between her legs. She froze at the sudden pounding there.
"Forgive me." Shang seemed unsteady. "But I can't say I'm sorry for that, though I hadn't meant to touch you anywhere other than your shoulder."
Mulan barely heard him, though she
knew that it had been an accident, a result of their movements. She struggled
to remember her mother's teachings about chastity. About how this was only a
thing between a wedded couple. About how the fruit of temptation was sweet, but
should not be eaten.
"You must not," she managed to say. Her voice failed her on the rest. It's forbidden; the thought made her tingle as much as their previous contact.
"I did not mean to offend," Shang offered. He seemed sincere, but his voice was rough when he spoke again. "If you wish, you may do the same to me." His eyebrows rose as if he was as surprised at the words as she was. Perhaps he was being transformed by the same spell.
Mulan looked up sharply into his dark eyes. His face was impassive now, without even a hint of a smile. Tentatively, wondering at herself, she stretched out her arm and placed one hand flatly against his chest. His nipple pressed against the palm and moved her hand against it, enjoying the unfamiliar sensation. Shang drew in a breath and she snatched her hand away. But he reached out and grabbed her wrist. Then he returned her hand to where it had been and smiled. Mulan floated closer to him until her legs just brushed his under the water.
"That is more than I did to you," he said seriously and some part of her made her head nod in agreement.
"It definitely is," she answered with a tiny smile of her own, and watched as one of his hands disappeared under the water's surface. A moment later she jumped as it skimmed lightly over the skin underneath her breasts. She stretched in the next second, wanting more than just that teasing touch, and raised herself out of the water a little desperately. She barely noticed his surprise and sudden attention to the sight of her naked breasts.
"Goddess, you can't be real," Shang whispered with a harsh shudder. Mulan wondered vaguely if it was a cry for help, but forgot all about it when he pulled her up against him. She nearly screamed in surprise, but her scream turned into something else at the feel of him crushed against her. It felt so good and so painful at the same time that she whimpered in confusion. But when Shang tried to pull away she dug her short nails into his shoulders to keep him near her. That she should have allowed this to end was the last thing on her mind.
Shang took a deep breath. It made his chest rub against hers. Another bolt of something sharp streaked through her and Mulan deliberately repeated the motion.
"I don't know what's happening to me," he ground out before bending his head to kiss her neck. One kiss quickly became two and then three until his mouth found its way from under her ear to her collarbone. He sucked the skin there gently.
"Neither do I," Mulan confessed breathlessly, not as concerned with the thought as he apparently was. She pressed her mouth to his collarbone. His skin tasted of salt, and sweat, and the sweet water of the stream. She wanted more and when he groaned his approval, pressed hundreds of open-mouthed kisses to his chest and arms until her mouth found one of his nipples. Curious, she flicked it with her tongue.
Shang froze, the arms wrapped around her vibrating with tension. Had she done something wrong? Mulan wondered and started to pull away.
"Again," Shang ordered in a whisper. Mulan shook her head in a brief moment of temper. He had no right to order her around here. She looked up into his eyes and lowered her hands instead to lightly touch his arms, and then his chest, before skipping curiously down to the area below his waist.
Shang muttered something harsh into ear that she would never had thought to hear him say and moved suddenly, faster than he would have even in a sparring match. The action startled her enough that she had cling to his shoulders with both hands until he stopped and pressed her back against the rock. Then he took both of her hands firmly that in one of his and held them back, over her head. The stream water lapped around her hips.
"What?" Mulan gasped in surprise and annoyance and how he'd limited her ability to touch him, but he cut her off with a kiss. After everything else, it was the first time he had kissed her. His lips were both soft and demanding and despite what she'd thought earlier, she opened her mouth for him easily, enjoying the soft nibbles he took from her lower lip and how his tongue teased her.
"You are so beautiful," Shang breathed when he finally pulled away, "if stubborn." Mulan just stared at him as she tried to catch her breath. The hand that wasn't holding her wrists stroked her cheek gently for a moment, and his dark eyes stared into hers for a while before drifting slowly lower. He took his time staring at her and she wondered if it was the moon that brought that sudden, almost wicked light to his eyes. She had never seen it there before.
Seeing it made her suddenly aware that with her hands so high above her head, her back was arched and breasts were out of the water and clearly visible in the silver moonlight. She should have felt cold and exposed. Instead she stretched her body out into the dark air as far as it would go, enjoying Shang's quick, panting breaths at the sight of her. Then she narrowed her eyes and smiled like a pleased cat.
Shang's eyebrows rose at that look, before he smiled to himself so widely that Mulan felt a little quiver of nervousness.
"If it pleases you, Goddess," he whispered playfully before lowering his head slowly and covering her nipple with his mouth. For a moment, he drew on it demandingly in much the same way as he had kissed her, but then he began to caress it teasingly with his tongue. His mouth was hot in the cool night air.
Mulan tried to arch closer to him and moaned softly. Part of her wondered if he could taste that same sweet water on her that she had so enjoyed tasting on him. His teeth scraped the sensitive skin around her nipple and she bit her lip to keep from screaming. From somewhere came the awareness that a scream would send Mushu running to find her. But she forgot all about her guardian when Shang chuckled to himself, and with his mouth still on her breast, lowered his free hand into the water. His hand covered her intimately a moment later.
Mulan gasped again at the heavy wetness she felt under his fingers and tried to turn her head to side to hide her embarrassment at her body's reaction. But Shang raised his head to smile down at her.
"Goddess?" he asked, his breath warm on her face, his hand hovering hotly above her, waiting for her permission. His face was flushed and his eyes were the most intense she had even seen them. What would it cost him if she said no? What would it cost her? The ache in between her legs just at the thought of his touch was nearly enough to make her cry. "Please allow me…" He didn't finished, but she didn't, couldn't, answer. Not out loud. But when his fingers slid slowly into her she opened her legs and moaned again.
"Please." This time she pleaded, though she didn't even know exactly what she was pleading for. Shang seemed to know; she saw him nod just before his fingers began stroking her. The movements were slow and gentle at first, but he began to increase the pressure with each rhythmic thrust of his fingers until the muscles in her legs began to shake and she had to fight the urge to yell for more. "Please," she panted again, annoyed with his dominance somewhere deep down but unwilling to stop what he was doing.
Shang just bent down and began to suck gently on her other breast. He continued to stroke her as he did, until the painful throbbing between her legs was almost too much. "Please…" she barely got the word out this time, but the whisper was enough for him to move his hands suddenly move both his hands to her waist and to raise his head. He pressed her back into the rock. The cold stone scraped her skin roughly but she hardly noticed when Shang used his body to open her legs wider until they nearly surrounded him. The contact of his skin against the skin of her inner thighs made her close her eyes, though it did not ease the ache in her. Then the awareness of that sensation faded away as a hard, pulsing length pressed against her.
Mulan wrapped her legs even tighter around Shang's hips and pulled him closer, making him squeeze his eyes shut and groan, but he still seemed hesitant. Since he seemed frozen, she moved her hips in the water to rub herself against that wonderful hardness again.
"Goddess," Shang swore again as she dug her nails into his shoulders when he tried to move away. He shifted and she felt that hardness move against her flesh. It seemed to beat in time with the throbbing within her and she gasped in sudden understanding.
"Now," she ordered and spread her legs until she was as close to that hard warmth as she could get, but it still wasn't enough. "Now!" she commanded again and bit her teeth sharply into Shang's shoulder to back up her words, enjoying that salty, sweet taste as she did. She lowered her hands to explore him again and Shang moved quickly to prevent her.
He cursed roughly again and entered her in one quick thrust. Mulan felt something give, no pain as her mother had warned her, but stilled anyway at the unfamiliar sensation of a man inside of her. Her eyes widened as Shang slid in the rest of the way, and she shuddered, forgetting all about her mother's words. Instead, Mulan threw her head back to look into his face as he moved in her and opened her mouth in an invitation for a kiss. He bent his head to accept as he thrust into her again and Mulan felt her body begin to move with his, bringing him closer, faster.
She moaned as he pressed her fiercely into the rock and scraped his back viciously her nails for making her suffer like this. At the same time, she tightened her hold on him with her legs, feeling the tension in his back when he groaned again. The ache between her legs kept building each time he slowly pushed into her and she moved her hips again, silently ordering him to go faster. The pounding rush of blood between her legs was killing her.
Then his pace quickened abruptly and Mulan nearly forgot how to breathe as she felt that heat travel up from her legs to the rest of her and another brilliant bolt of lightening ripped through her body. This time she did scream as her body spasmed against his and hundreds of firecrackers exploded under her skin and behind her eyes.
She was distantly aware when his body suddenly clenched tightly and stilled against hers, just as she heard him cry out "Goddess" one last time before he sighed into her arms. She loosened her grip on his shoulders then, though she wrapped them around his neck to keep him from leaving. Not that he was making the slightest move to do so.
Shang breathed heavily into her neck for a moment before finally raising his head to stare at her. His hand stroked her cheek again, this touch only increasing the humming under her flesh.
"Beautiful goddess," he said softly, his eyes shadowed. "Who are you?"
Mulan opened her mouth to tell him. Whether it would have been the truth or a lie she didn't know and probably never would. She heard the yell of her guardian probably at the same time Shang did.
"Hey!" Mushu sounded worried. "You ok out there?"
"What…?" Shang started to ask, pulling away from her, his tense, alert posture returning. Seeing it, and remembering exactly what their different positions in the world were, Mulan felt that ache in her chest again.
"I must go." Mulan shook her head as she said that, as if that would change the truth. Now that her head had cleared, she realized exactly what she'd done, and what the consequences could be if she lingered. The ache in her chest was only slightly eased by the way Shang frowned and reached for her again. "Please. Let me go for now." She stared up into his fierce expression and placed one hand against his chest, over his heart. It was pounding furiously and she fought the urge to press a kiss there and taste him again.
"Will I see you again?" He placed his hand over hers. Unable to answer, Mulan shrugged and looked down to the water. Underneath the surface, their legs were still entwined.
"Not like this," she managed to say at last and pulled away. She heard him call out for her one last time but wouldn't let herself turn around.
She came up several yards from where she'd left Mushu to see if Shang had followed her. But the water behind her was still, and she couldn't help one moment of regret that there was no sign of him, or of her, by that rock now. With a sad sigh, Mulan swam to shore.
She climbed out and turned back to look out over the stream. Its silvery surface was undisturbed. It looked as untouched and chaste as it had before. But it wasn't the same stream at all. The spirits had had their way again and had played a trick on those not wise enough to seek their beds.
Mulan sighed and reached for her towel, blushing at the signs of what she had been doing visible on her skin. She would do her best to push this from her mind and forget that it had ever happened. To be as chaste and pure as this stream looked now. Any worries about the state of her chastity would have to wait until after the war, if she made it until then. In the meantime, she blushed hotly but smiled, she had her memories. Her sweet memories.
Mulan turned to head towards her animal friends, but paused and turned back for one last look at the stream. It was not the same at all.