Fandom: Shanghai Noon, Chon Wang/Roy O'Bannon
Summary: A missing scene from the movie. What happened after Roy rescued Chon from the railroad camp?
Disclaimer: All things Shanghai Noon belong to Spyglass Entertainment and Touchstone Pictures. This is for entertainment purposes only and no infringement is intended.
A/N – Yes, I live! It's funny to revisit this, I wrote it so many years ago (in the midst of my Owen Wilson love) in a fandom that nobody really cares about. I've edited this a little and am going to re-post it, as there are several sequels I wrote to it all those years ago that will now finally see the light of day. In retrospect I think this works better as a standalone, but the sequels are out there so I may as well post them.
"Reach for the sky, baldy!"
The words echoed through the night sky, causing both men to turn in the direction of the shadowy figure on horseback.
Roy? Chon blinked furiously, half in disbelief, half in an attempt to clear the remaining dirt and sand from his eyes. His vision swam into focus--it was Roy, his gun trained on Lo Fong, his other hand tipping his hat sardonically.
"That's right, it's Roy. Am I interrupting?"
Lo Fong glowered and raised his hands, including the sword he'd been brandishing at Chon. Chon's gaze met and held Roy's, and he felt suddenly breathless.
"I followed you, so what?" Roy said, in response to Chon's silent query. The underlying urgency in his voice belied his attempt at nonchalance. "What did you expect me to do, let you wander off? You're a greenhorn. You'll get killed out here."
Sudden, fierce joy swept through Chon. Roy had followed him, despite Chon's bitter words to him that afternoon. Dressed in black, tall in the saddle, his wheat blond hair gleaming in the torchlight, Roy cut a dashing figure, looking every inch the outlaw he aspired to be. The sight of him made Chon's blood sing through his veins and his heart beat wildly. Roy had followed him, and Chon couldn't help the foolish grin he felt stealing over his face. For that brief second in time, the world seemed to narrow to encompass only the two of them, their eyes locked in silent communion.
The sounds of gunfire and Fong's approaching henchmen broke the spell. "Come on partner, we've gotta adios outta here," Roy called to him. Chon felt the weariness and soreness melt from his limbs. He half ran, half flew across the distance to nimbly vault onto the horse behind Roy. His hands clutched Roy's sides, and he leaned into him.
"You've got to stick with me," Roy said, kicking his horse into motion.
"I will, Roy. I will." Chon's words were lost in the thunder of hooves as they galloped away. As they reached the outskirts of the railroad camp, Chon turned his head at the sound of pursuit, ready to call a warning to Roy. However when he looked back, he realized it was only his own horse, Fido, following them into the night. Chon smiled again, and tightened his grip on Roy's waist.
"Where are we going?" he called to Roy, but there was no reply. In truth, Chon didn't care. He was with Roy, and that was all that mattered for now. This man, this moment, the night sky surrounding them and the steady rhythm of the horse beneath them were enough. He would have followed Roy anywhere, without question, and that knowledge was a heady sensation that both alarmed him and quickened his blood. His future, which only minutes ago had seemed colorless and bleak, was now brilliantly alive with possibilities.
Eventually, they slowed and then came to a halt in a small clearing. "Here we are," Roy said, and moved to dismount, but Chon didn't loosen his grip on Roy. He found he couldn't let go of him. Instead, he slid his arms to fully circle Roy's waist, and leaned in to rest his forehead against the back of Roy's neck. Chon could feel Roy's back stiffen for one terrifying moment, then he relaxed against Chon. It felt like the most natural thing for Chon to then turn his head to rest his cheek against Roy's shoulder.
What am I doing? a distant part of him wondered, but for once in his life, Chon refused to think past the moment. He breathed in Roy's scent, reveling in the nearness of this man that he'd thought never to see again. Then, wondrously, Roy turned his head, so that the bristle of his cheek rasped gently against Chon's face.
"Chon?" Roy questioned softly, his voice infused with wonder.
"You followed me," Chon said simply.
Through the stillness of the night came Roy's reply. "I followed you."
Why? The word danced on the edge of Chon's mind, but he was too afraid of the answer to ask. All that mattered for now was that he was embracing Roy, and Roy was . . . letting him. The moment was so tenuous and so extraordinary, Chon wondered if it was really happening. Maybe it was a dream, or maybe he had perished at the hands of Lo Fong and had been reborn into heaven. Feeling Roy's body next to his certainly fit his description of paradise.
Chon leaned fully against Roy's back, feeling solid warmth of him . Roy felt like home, like journey's end to Chon, as if somehow everything in his life had only been a prelude to this. His lips were inches from Roy's cheek. Then, Chon felt one of Roy's hands move to tentatively cover his own. Chon's heart tightened painfully in his chest; he was afraid to move or to speak, unwilling to shatter the fragile purity of the moment.
"I followed you," Roy said again.
Fido, Chon's horse, trotted up beside them, causing Roy's horse to move restlessly beneath them. Roy straightened, and Chon let him slip from his grasp. The moment was lost as reality returned in a rush. Chon knew that their relationship had changed, but exactly what that meant for them remained to be seen.
"Come on, let's get inside, partner," Roy said, and Chon could read nothing in his voice. Roy gestured to a small shelter hidden in the trees that Chon had overlooked.
They both slid off the horse, Chon feeling suddenly unwilling to meet Roy's eyes. Chon knew that surely, Roy must also feel the new awareness between them. Fido came up behind him and nudged him gently with his head. Chon turned to tend to him, welcoming the distraction.
"Where are we?" Chon asked in the same neutral tone Roy had used.
"An old hideout that my gang and I used to use," Roy said. "We're not far from the mission where the princess will be tomorrow."
The princess. For one moment, Chon had actually allowed his feelings for Roy to overshadow his duty to the emperor. The princess must come first, before any other considerations. But she did not wish to return to China, and his duty was now unclear. Chon knew that nothing would ever be as simple for him as following orders again.
"There's a place in the back for the horses," Roy said, and Chon followed him, leading Fido. The night air was cool on his face, the forest was quiet, and the sky was clear and filled with stars. In silent companionship they unsaddled their horses, but inside, Chon's thoughts were a maelstrom of conflicting desires, between his ingrained duty and what he now knew in his heart to be right. Lo Fong had called him a slave, a man who could not think for himself but only do as he was told. The scornful words had stung, but for the first time Chon allowed himself to see the truth they revealed.
His life in service to the emperor had brought him little happiness, but that had never concerned him until now, when he had a glimpse of what happiness could be. He had always been an outsider, never good enough, never conforming to the standards set by his peers. He had always been alone, but had not recognized his own loneliness. Here, in this new country, he had met Roy, a man completely unfettered by convention, who had challenged everything he had believed about himself and the world. Chon had also realized that Roy's bravado could mask an emptiness that mirrored his own. Despite coming from two different worlds, Chon knew that they were intended to find each other. They were the two halves of the same soul, even if Roy had yet to realize it fully. In falling in love with Roy, Chon had found his true self as well. The princess's thoughts and wishes did matter, and so did his own. Nothing in his life would ever be the same again. He could not go back, and he would not.
Chon glanced over at Roy and again felt the utter rightness, the intense pleasure of being with this man. He wished he could see what was in Roy's heart. After last night at Goldie's he had tried to make himself believe the worst about Roy, that he was only partnering with him for the gold that was Princess Pei Pei's ransom money, but even then he could not fully convince himself that Roy was motivated by avarice alone. Roy had risked his life to ride alone into Fong's camp to rescue him. Chon believed in Roy's feelings for him, but he needed so much more than friendship from him, and wasn't sure that Roy was ready for that.
As if he knew he was the subject of Chon's thoughts, Roy looked up and met his gaze over the back of his horse.
"I'm sorry, Chon."
"Sorry for what?"
"For what I said. For what you heard. At Goldie's. I didn't mean it." The words came slowly, haltingly, unlike Roy's usual easy manner.
"It's OK, Roy," Chon said, although the hurt from that night still lingered.
"No, it's not OK," Roy replied. "Thinking about what I said--it was awful, and I didn't mean it, but at the time, I just--" Roy stopped, exasperated. He walked around the horses to stand in front of Chon.
"Too much was happening in too short a time. Everything was too new, too fast, and it was just too easy for me to try and deny it. I don't know if I'm ready for this. I'm not making much sense, am I?" Roy paused. "I just don't want you to think that I'm the kind of man who betrays a friend, Chon," Roy said, looking intently into Chon's eyes.
Chon smiled at him to ease his distress and briefly squeezed his arm. "Please stop apologizing so we can go inside now." Roy smiled back, relief in his eyes as he lifted his saddlebags onto his shoulder. "OK, partner."
Chon grabbed his packs and followed Roy to the front of the small structure, which was scarcely large enough to be called a cabin. "You don't think Lo Fong will come after us, do you?" Roy asked as he pushed aside the worn leather flap that covered the doorway.
"No," Chon replied. "He thinks he has won. He has the princess. Tomorrow he will have the gold. We are no threat to him."
Roy dropped the saddlebags inside the doorway and fumbled in the darkness, then Chon heard the strike of a match as a small oil lamp was illuminated. Roy turned to face Chon, his blue eyes shining in the lamplight. "Well, then, old baldy has just made a major miscalculation, wouldn't you say?" He winked, and Chon smiled back helplessly at the beautiful, exasperating, charming mix of contradictions that was Roy O'Bannon.
Roy set the lamp back on a small table near the door. Chon surveyed the cramped dwelling. Barely large enough for two men to turn around in, one wall was taken up by a bare wood frame cot. There were no windows or fireplace, and no covering on the dirt floor. A backless chair was the only other piece of furniture in the room.
"Your whole gang hid out here?" Chon asked teasingly.
"Well, maybe I was between gangs at the time," Roy admitted dryly.
Roy removed his hat and coat, hanging them on a hook on the wall. Chon eased himself down onto the bed, still sore from being on horseback and his recent fight with Lo Fong. His aching muscles reminded him that he was no longer young. If he were to change his life, to begin anew, tonight was time to make the first step. Chon had faced many perilous situations before, but none so daunting as the prospect of laying his heart bare to the man he loved.
Roy sat on the chair, tipping it back to lean against the wall and watched Chon began to remove his boots.
"What happens tomorrow, Roy?" Chon asked.
"You know what happens, Chon," Roy replied with an uncharacteristic edge to his voice. "We go to the mission, rescue the princess, get the bad guy, and then you all go back to China. End of story."
"Is that what you want?" Chon asked, hoping to draw Roy out.
"What kind of question is that? What does it matter what I want?"
"To me, it matters. You should know that."
"You know it's not what I want, but your duty is to rescue the princess and take her back to China. It's not like you haven't told me this about a hundred times by now."
"No," Chon said deliberately, setting his boots by the foot of the bed.
"No? What do you mean, 'no'?" Roy demanded, incredulous, pushing away from the wall so the front legs of the chair hit the floor with a thump.
"I am not going back, Roy."
"I cannot go back to my old life as Imperial Guard."
"Wait. Stop, stop. Why can't you go back? Is it because of you hair?"
"No." He paused. "Yes, but that is not the reason. It is because of me. I have changed. I have been in the West, and now I cannot go back to the East."
"Chon, you're not making sense. What about your loyalty to the emperor, what about the princess?"
"Pei Pei also does not wish to return."
"I think your three Imperial Guard friends might have a thing or two to say about that."
"I do not care." Chon took a breath, searching for the words in English to convey the profound changes in his life. "Roy, listen to me. At Goldie's, you said you were lost. You told me you were a terrible outlaw. What you said, is also true about me. Your words made me see it. In China, I was lost. I was a terrible Imperial Guard. I didn't belong. Here, I do belong." With you, his heart added silently. "It is not enough for me any more to just follow orders. I must do what is right, for Pei Pei and for me."
"That's not going to be easy, going against everything you've known your whole life."
"I know. But I must do it."
Roy leaned back against the wall again and looked up at the ceiling, exhaling softly. He shook his head slightly. Then, lowering his eyes to meet Chon's, he said "All right, partner, what's your plan?"
"Roy, I cannot ask you to help me. It is too dangerous."
"You didn't ask, I offered. We're partners, right?" Roy asked.
Despite himself, Chon could not help himself from voicing his darkest fear. "I cannot let you have the gold." As soon as the words were out, he wished them back.
"Damn it!" Roy swore, leaping from his chair quickly enough that it toppled over onto the dirt floor with a thud. He advanced on Chon, who stood to meet him. Inches apart, Roy glared at him furiously. "I can't believe you! After everything we've been through, after I risked my neck to come back for you, you still think all I care about is the gold."
Chon stood his ground. "Can you deny that the gold is why you wanted to help me?"
Roy started to speak, then ran a hand through his hair and turned abruptly to pace towards the door. He turned back to face Chon, started to speak again and then stopped himself. Like quicksilver, Chon could see Roy's anger had left, and now in its place was a mixture of guilt and weary acceptance. "OK, I admit it. Maybe that's how it started." He walked towards Chon, stopping in front of him again, close enough that Chon could feel the heat from his body. Chon suppressed a shiver as once again his passion for Roy sparked through him, both sweet and painful. "But that's not the way it is now." He lowered his voice. "It hasn't been about the gold for a long time now, and I think you and I both know that." His blue eyes pierced through Chon and he felt sure that Roy could read all his secrets.
"Roy," Chon began, wanting to reveal his heart to him. He put his hand on Roy's arm, but Roy shrugged it off and turned away again, to set the chair back upright. He positioned it by the doorway and sat down, his back to Chon.
"You'd better get some sleep, we'll leave at first light. I'll take the first watch," Roy said flatly.
"Roy," Chon said, exasperated. "Listen to me. Nobody is coming. Sleep. I am sorry, I do believe in you." He came up and stood behind Roy, who was staring blindly at the doorway. "Come on. Don't be so stubborn."
"I just thought we were past all that, Chon. You say you've changed, then why can't you believe the same about me?" Chon could read the hurt and defensiveness in his tone. Things were not going at all as he'd hoped, and Chon suppressed his irritation at his own clumsiness in these matters.
"It was wrong of me to say."
"Yeah, yeah." Roy sighed. "I suppose I deserved that." He rubbed a hand across his eyes tiredly. "So what's your plan for tomorrow?" Roy asked again.
Chon smiled ruefully. "I thought we would just--"
"Wing it," Roy finished for him, angling his head back to look up at Chon, the mischievous gleam Chon loved so well back in his eyes. The tightness in Chon's chest eased.
"Yes," Chon agreed, resisting the urge to smooth Roy's bright blond hair off his forehead. "We will wing it."
"All right then. Let's get some sleep. You take the bed. After all, you're the one that just got beat up by Fong." Roy pulled off his boots and set them beside the chair. Rising, he took the lamp off the table and walked towards the cot. Bemused, Chon followed him. Roy set the lamp down on the floor, and tossed Chon his bedroll. Chon spread the blankets on top of the straw mattress of the cot, which was proving to be as uncomfortable as it looked. He sat on the edge of the bed and watched as Roy unbuckled his gun belt and set it close by. "Damn, I miss my guns," Roy muttered, as he began to unroll his bedding on the floor.
Chon watched him pensively. "You should not sleep on the floor. We can share. I'll make room."
Roy made no reply. "Roy," he urged. "You need sleep." What are you afraid of? he wanted to ask, but Chon already knew the answer. He could recognize Roy's fear in himself, the result of too many years alone.
Roy stood silently, motionless, before seeming to come to a decision. "All right, move over," he grumbled. "You'd better not snore." Chon, suppressing a smile, lay back and slid as far over as he could, until his shoulder pressed against the wall. Roy stretched out on his side with his back to Chon, leaning down to blow out the lamp. Inky darkness enveloped them.
Despite the total absence of light, or perhaps because of it, Chon was vibrantly aware of Roy lying next to him. Although their bodies were not touching, Roy's heat seemed to burn through him. Before he could think of what to do next, Roy spoke.
"Are you sure about this, Chon? About staying?"
"Yes. Here is where I belong."
"You'd better think about what you are saying, Chon, because it changes everything."
"I know." The words seem to hang suspended in the darkness, as both men weighed their meaning. "I am tired Roy, too much talking," Chon said softly.
"You forget, talking is the only thing I am good at."
"I don't think so." His heart pounding, Chon put his hand on Roy's arm. The contact was electric, and his every nerve seemed to catch fire.
"Chon. Take your hand off me," Roy whispered, but unlike the previous times he'd said those words, there was a catch to his voice.
"No," Chon replied. He shifted onto his side, moving his hand slowly up Roy's arm, feeling the younger man shiver under his touch. His hand reached Roy's shoulder and moved under the collar of Roy's shirt to caress his neck, Chon's thumb gently tracing Roy's throat. Touching Roy evoked a sweet, wild longing Chon had never experienced before. The warm, silken glide of Roy's skin under his fingertips was doing terrible and wonderful things to him.
"Chon . . . " Roy breathed. "What are you--?" His voice broke off in a half gasp, as Chon moved closer and pressed his lips to Roy's ear. "Oh, God."
The feel of Roy's skin beneath his lips was even more intoxicating, and Chon moved closer to press up behind him. His arm encircled Roy, his lips exploring the back of his neck. He couldn't get close enough to him, he wanted to devour him, to crawl inside his skin. He hungered for Roy's taste, his touch, as he had never hungered before.
"Stop, stop," Roy protested breathlessly. At the sound of his voice, Chon drew back reluctantly. He burned for this man, he ached for him with every fiber of his being--he didn't think he would be able to bear it if Roy truly wished him to go no further.
"Roy. Do you really wish me to stop?"
There was a brief moment of silence, during which Chon felt he surely ceased to breathe and his universe seemed to hang suspended in the balance. Then, Roy shifted, turning in Chon's arms to face him. Roy's hand came up to touch the side of Chon's face, and Chon longed to be able to see his expression.
"No." The word was breathed onto his lips just before Roy met him in a kiss. Their mouths came together and Chon realized that he had been wrong earlier to think that merely holding Roy had been paradise. This was heaven, the taste of him, the silk of his hair, the warmth of his breath. Roy's lips parted and their tongues met in deep, slow exploration. They kissed endlessly, the raw, physical pleasure making Chon dizzy. Then Roy's hands were on him, reaching for the buttons of Chon's shirt, his passion matching Chon's own. As the last button slipped from it's mooring, Roy's hands smoothed over Chon's chest, and he groaned against Roy's lips.
The realization that Roy wanted him spread liquid fire through Chon's body. Roy broke the kiss, his mouth blazing a fiery trail down Chon's neck. As Roy's lips grazed his collarbone, Chon spoke. "It is because of you, Roy. I cannot leave, because I love you." He had not intended to speak the words aloud, but they pressed forth of their own accord.
Roy suddenly stilled his movements, and Chon wanted to cry out at the loss of him. "Stop," Roy said, his voice ragged and broken. "Don't say that, I can't do this if you say things like that. You don't know what will happen tomorrow. Just -- don't talk."
Chon smiled sadly in the darkness, understanding everything that Roy was trying to tell him. "No more talking, then." He pulled Roy back to him, and his kiss this time tasted of bittersweet longing. He could be a patient man, and Roy was worth an eternity of waiting if necessary. And, if tonight was to be all the heaven that he was allowed on earth during this lifetime, then Chon would make sure that it was enough.
After all, it was already so much more than he'd ever dreamed.