A/N: Sorry for the delay. I lost inspiration to write anything at all for a while there. This has been sitting on the hard drive waiting on some refining. I appreciate all the reviews. I can't say when the next update will be, I need to get around to updating a few of my other fics before I come back to this. I also have to ask if anyone wants smut? If so with who, because I'm debating that myself.
Test of Time
"Uh…thanks?" Mulan rubbed her eyes as Zhao Yun blushed and darted back to camp. He was shy, but it made him seem that much more adorable. Ma Chao was instantly teasing him and the difference between the two was so painfully apparent. Ma Chao was so confident, despite being younger than his fellow officer. Zhao Yun had yet to marry, but Ma Chao had already been married twice. One man was dedicated to serve his lord, forever content to remain a servant. The other was a lord himself, and carried the burden all too well.
"Aren't you hungry?" Ma Chao waved playfully. "Zilong's practicing the art of serving tea now…getting in touch with his feminine side."
Mulan smiled and walked over to the two men and took the teapot from Zhao Yun's hands. It was her job, certainly not his. "Settle down boys."
"He started it." Ma Chao muttered.
"Behave or I'll send you back home and let your momma spank some sense into you." Zhao Yun smirked.
"Ha! I'll only bring back my sister and have my revenge." Ma Chao stuck out his tongue.
"You have a sister?" Mulan asked. She thought his whole family had been killed.
"Yes and she loves Zilong. His biggest fangirl." Chao watched his friend shudder. His baby sister was a bit aggressive when it came to her crush. "She'll spank him and I bet he'll like it."
"What do you want for breakfast?" Zhao Yun asked, avoiding the topic but still turning a light shade of maroon.
Shang dodged the scimitar and barely avoided having his torso separated from his lower body. For having only one eye, Xiahou Dun was incredibly dangerous. "How far are we from the Shu army?"
"A day, maybe two." Dun backed up and smirked. "Anxious to see your fiancé?"
He inwardly groaned. Now it was time for the mind games and they knew so much about him! It was like dealing with Chi Fu. "Anxious for something other than your nephew bragging about his wife?"
"Takes after his stupid father." Dun admitted as he looked over at Cao Pi who was forcing some random villager to tell him how beautiful Zhen Ji was. "Afraid he's going to try something with your girl?"
Shang finally attacked and was quickly repelled. In a few moments he was face first in the grass.
"If it comes down to dueling Zhao Yun to get her back, you'll have to do better than that." Zhang Liao interjected. He wasn't one to use cheap mind games to distract an opponent, Lu Bu had pounded him into the ground for trying that. "What happened? Why did she leave?"
Shang was startled by the change in Zhang Liao. He looked at the man and the brown eyes that had been so vicious now were soft and understanding. He knew what it was like to lose someone. "She was with her family and disappeared. I….I should have known she'd join the army."
"Liao, this is not about Diao Chan. Don't get involved." Dun grumbled and sheathed his weapon.
"She's over there too…with Guan Yu. She may not have gone of her own will initially…but after so many attempts to run away she obviously wants to be there. A woman will not stay where she doesn't want to be. Not women of this caliber, not warriors."
Xiahou Dun cursed the name of Guan Yu then stomped off. He wasn't about to get involved in this conversation again.
Zhang Liao shook his head. "He has a loving wife and family. He doesn't remember what it's like to be alone."
Shang was surprised a fierce warrior would talk about such things. Things were different here, much more open. "I think she's just scared. We're so different."
"Diao Chan had watercolor paintings of Zhao Yun naked." Liao chuckled. "They all do. I'm surprised that man can walk with all the women he must have."
Shang felt a little better. At least it was normal for girls to obsess with the great Zhao Yun.
"I think Zhen Ji has some too, but Zhang He stole them."
Shang frowned. That was a touch on the disturbing side.
"Stop moving." Mulan chided as she tugged on Zhao Yun's hair. Breakfast had quickly turned into a food fight, thanks to the ever so playful chef Ma Chao. Quail eggs, over easy, were now dotted throughout Zhao Yun's hair. Mulan realized it was a lost cause, but it seemed like the most fitting punishment for Ma Chao.
"Just let him dunk his head in the river, it's never coming out that way." Ma Chao grumbled and glared at Zhao Yun. He didn't know what was bothering him more, the jealousy or the desire to smack that euphoric grin off his friends face.
"It won't come out with water either." Mulan replied and flicked a chunk of egg yolk at the pouting cavalryman.
"You should think twice before throwing eggs in someone's hair, Mengqi." Zhao Yun added and wondered, for a brief moment, how ugly this really was going to get. Ma Chao was dangerously competitive and he himself despised losing. All the women in China and they had to fall for the same one.
"Hey Zilong!" Chao eyes twinkled with mischief. "Have you told Mulan about Shing yet?"
Zhao Yun felt his heartbeat stop. How in the world did Chao know?!? "Who?"
"Oh." Chao smiled. "You know, Shing….isn't that what you named your nipple? You're always talking to it about personal matters. I could understand weather and that, but you were talking about knitting too. Maybe you want to ask before piercing it?"
"My nipple?" Zhao Yun asked and suddenly turned red.
Mulan began to laugh. She never realized how ridiculous it really looked to be talking to a guardian who was hiding in your armor. The look on Zhao Yun's face made her laugh more. How could a man be so embarrassed by words! Ma Chao began to reenact a conversation he had overheard and Mulan fell over backwards, laugh so hard that she began to cry.
"Are you talking to your nipple?"
Shang scrambled to throw his cloak over Mushu and turned to see his new lord looking at him quizzically. "Uh…no..sir. I mean..Lord Cao Cao!"
Mushu grumbled. "Get your rape whistle ready…he's already got nipples on his mind. Poor pretty boy."
Cao Cao looked around. "Did you say something?"
"No?" Shang replied. "Sir!"
"My ex….stalker has apparently stumbled upon your fiancé. It appears that Ma Chao and Zhao Yun are about ready to tear each other's throats out over her. I know you're anxious to get her back, but this is an opportunity like we've never had before. I need your help to drive them to kill each other."
"Yes." Cao Cao smiled. "Within days we will meet Shu in battle. I will ensure that you have a chance to see your precious fiancé and hopefully you will know just what to say to drive her into the arms of Zhao Yun."
"You see, Ma Chao is a very hot-headed idiot. The simplest things will set him off and jealousy is perfect. After they eliminate each other I assure you we will deliver her into your arms. Your competition will be eliminated and you'll have your girlfriend back. Shu will crumble; they are nothing without their officers."
"Say YES!" Mushu whispered. "He'll kill you if you don't and making him happy buys us time!"
"Can you upset her enough to send her running to him?" Cao Cao queried.
"Hell yeah!" Mushu exclaimed.
"I mean, " Shang coughed politely, "That is something I can definitely accomplish."
"Excellent." Cao Cao was no longer that surprised that this General was without a command when they found him.