Author's Note: I'm probably the only person in the world who thinks that this pairing is kind of cute. Haha. Happy reading!
Fire was a funny thing; at least to the princess of Wu it was. A roaring fire always put her in a nostalgic mood and it would cause her to slip into her memories. Sun Shang Xiang was easily hypnotized by the campfire, especially after a physically exhausting, psychologically straining battle. The princess had done something that she had never thought that she would do: she sided with her brother against their other brother. Of course she never thought that a serpent demon would descend from the sky, and warp time and space to combine China and the Japanese lands into one; so considering the circumstances, her dilemma wasn't the worst thing that could have happened; her brother and father could be subjected to unspeakable tortures at the hands of Orochi and his minions, but to her, the worst thing was that her attention was split. Sun Shang Xiang prided herself on her family bonds because she knew that her father and brothers would be there for her no matter what, just like she would be there for them. But now, it was different. She was worried about her family, but there was something else tickling the back of her brain. That something happened to be sitting a few meters away from her, sharpening his weapon.
He was an odd man, well, to her he was. She was taken aback when he suddenly arrived, among his heavily armored comrades, confused and disoriented. He stood out though, with his cold eyes, light armor and mask. The princess found it odd how he spoke in metaphors, mentioning shadows during battles but was awed at his speed and relentless attacks. He cut down hundreds of soldiers, killing each one before the last one fell. Ina spoke highly of him; calling him a "ninja," a skilled assassin who lurked in the shadows with an enormous amount of loyalty to his lord, Tokugawa Ieyasu. The Japanese princess recounted the ninja's biography, mentioning that his first battle was when he was sixteen and gave an outstanding performance even at such a young age. He even earned the title of "Oni," or demon, because of his ferocity in battle, something Sun Shang Xiang did not find surprising after witnessing him fight. Needless to say, the Wu princess found him to be very interesting, this Hattori Hanzo.
The fire flickered, embers sparkling out of the flames and her cheeks warmed. Her hand reached up to brush against her smooth skin, remembering when Hanzo made her cheeks burn earlier that day. Sun Ce had decided that since Sun Shang Xiang was on his side, it was time for them to rescue their father and brother. Ieyasu, already familiar with Hanzo's skills, offered his ninja's services to break into the Orochi camp and set the Sun relatives free. Because the Wu princess had spent the most time within Orochi's ranks, she would have to impart her knowledge of the camp to the shadow warrior in order for him to succeed. When she heard of Ieyasu and Sun Ce's plan, Sun Shang Xiang nonchalantly volunteered to find Hattori Hanzo and clue him in on the mission before his final briefing with the two lords.
His tent was like him; it stood out amongst its peers. It happened to be the only one without guards posted at its entrance like the other generals. But the princess knew that Hanzo didn't consider himself a general, just merely a servant of his lord. Her nervousness began to rise, which sent her senses into overdrive; the dirt crunching beneath her shoes were deafening and the gentle breeze bit at her skin harshly. She let her hand hover over the fabric of the ninja's tent and frowned disapprovingly. She had no reason to feel this way at all, especially when she was just going to see a man; a man she hardly knew, nonetheless. The Wu princess pushed her way through the tent's entrance and immediately felt her face flame. She stared unabashedly at Hanzo's shirtless form, admiring his hard pecs and the many crevices that were etched onto his tanned torso, as he turned to reach for the top of his ninja garb. Hanzo's head tilted to the side, just enough for his eyes to connect with hers, and grunted gently.
"Is there something you needed, princess?" His deep, even voice caught her attention.
"Uh… Lord Tokugawa and my brother have sent me to get you…" Sun Shang Xiang shifted uncomfortably. "…to take you to them." She finished a bit stupidly.
"I see." He responded, adjusting his armor and picking up his weapon.
Hanzo strode pass the princess, but paused at the entrance of his tent. "Will you be accompanying me, Lady Sun?"
Her eyes brightened suddenly. "Oh! O-of course."
Sun Shang Xiang's fists clenched as she walked, side-by-side, with the ninja. She didn't understand why she felt like this; the Wu princess has always thought of herself as being a strong, confident young woman who didn't need a man, which was most likely attributed to the fact that she was raised by men as a marital artist. She had never been shy or timid around any man, not even Liu Bei.
'Liu Bei…' Sun Shang Xiang fidgeted with the gold bracelet around her wrist; a gift from the lord of Shu when their engagement was announced.
She had only met him a few times, talked for an hour at most and the princess knew the reason for the marriage was for diplomatic reasons; Sun Quan had only proposed the idea for a possibly alliance with Shu against Wei. Sun Shang Xiang didn't love him, but she still felt guilty; as if she were betraying a trust by having just the smallest inkling of feelings for this ninja she had barely known when she hadn't felt the same way for Liu Bei after meeting him.
'Feelings?' She frowned. 'Do they mean anything?'
After a few moments of thinking, she concluded that Hattori Hanzo was actually an amalgam of men she has already met. The ninja seemed to possess all of the qualities she had found attractive among the men of Wu; he had Zhou Yu's cold, calculating eyes, Zhou Tai's detached demeanor, Huang Gai's undying loyalty and Gan Ning's finely sculpted body, although, she smiled internally, Hanzo's body did seem much more appealing to her.
"These are dangerous times, Lady Sun." The ninja interrupted her thoughts. "It would be wise for you to carry your weapons, even within the camp."
'That's easy for you to say.' Sun Shang Xiang eyed his weapon skeptically.
It was actually a beautifully crafted weapon. Her first thought was that it was a sickle; like the peasants used to harvest rice. However, she then noted that it had a longer blade, more intricate design and was attached to a long chain; Ina had called it a "kusari-gama." She frowned to herself when she tried repeating the word; it felt awkward in her mouth. It was much like trying to hold a live fish; she could hold on to it, but it was difficult to handle. Hanzo had called it the "Chained Dragon," it was much like most of the other warriors there; they liked to name their weapons.
"Do you find my weapon interesting, princess?" Hanzo noted her stare.
"Uh…no." Sun Shang Xiang flushed slightly. "It's, umm, bigger than I thought it would be."
The ninja grunted his understanding; the double entendre going over his head.
The Wu princess cleared her throat. "My bother and Lord Tokugawa have created a plan to rescue my father and brother. I don't know the details yet, but your lord said that we would both be needed."
Hanzo responded with a short nod.
"You're not much of a talker are you?"
The pair entered the tent and listened intently to their lords' plan. The concept was simple enough; Sun Shang Xiang was to describe the Orochi camp in as much detail as possible to Hanzo, who would sneak into the holding cells and free the prisoners. It would have to be done as soon as possible, while the Orochi army was still in disarray from their last defeat, so Sun Ce and Tokugawa Ieyasu decided that Hanzo should leave at midnight. Sun Shang Xiang voiced her concern and suggested, in case anything went wrong, that they should gather their forces should there be the off-chance that Hanzo was caught. The aforementioned ninja shot her a disapproving look but supported her idea and Sun Ce agreed that their forces would be assembled and ready to go before dawn. The sun had just begun to set and time was of the essence, so Sun Shang Xiang and Hattori Hanzo returned to the ninja's tent to formulate their plan. Hanzo sat stoically as he watched the Chinese princess draw a map of the Orochi camp from memory.
"The holding cells should be near the center of the camp." She jabbed at her map. "But there are several watch towers around the camp; so you'll have to take care of the guards there first."
The ninja silently absorbed the information as he watched her point out the various watch towers.
"The guards around the holding cells rotate about every half hour; so if you can get rid of the guards in the towers, it'll be easier for you to get into the prison without being spotted."
Hanzo mentally formed a plan as Sun Shang Xiang finished explaining the security measures around the camp.
"Thank you, princess." He said in his gruff voice. "I believe that is all I need."
She nodded and hesitated for a moment. "I need a favor." The princess said seriously.
The shadow warrior raised an eyebrow.
"I want to go with you when you go to rescue my father and brother."
"My lord has given me instructions to go alone."
"I know!" She tried to restrain herself. "I know… but I have to go too."
"You do not trust that I can do it?"
"I do, but I can't just sit her and do nothing while my father and brother are in danger…"
The ninja stared at her intently, sensing that she still wished to justify her decision.
"I know that it was the right choice to join against Orochi, but when I did that, it was like I chose one of my brothers over my father and my other brother. I have to save them; I have to make sure my family is safe. Please, let me go with you."
Hanzo felt a tug on his heart and his cold gaze softened slightly. He understood how consuming the feeling of wanting to protect someone was; after all, he had been raised to be a ninja and he had dedicated his life to protecting his lord. Would it be so cold of him to refuse her request? Did it matter to him if she thought so? This was a strange situation for him.
He turned to leave his tent, but paused at the entrance and tilted his head to the side. "I must continue my training." Hanzo sighed. "I will come collect you at your tent when the moon is at its highest in the night sky; be ready."
So now she was waiting. Her eyes tore away from the campfire and were now locked onto her wind and fire wheels, in a vain attempt to stop herself from stealing glances at the ninja. The princess' gaze eventually went skyward and she took notice of the moon's position; it was almost time. She gathered her weapons and headed to her tent. The armored handmaidens posted outside her tent bowed and made way for her as she approached. Sun Shang Xiang slowly slid into a soft cushion and felt her Sun-Moon and Heaven-Earth Rings slide off of the holsters on each side of her hips. The princess let out a sight and caught sight of something in the corner of her eye; it was an ornate long bow that she has been training in during Orochi's occupation of the land. She had built up a considerable amount of marksmanship ability due to her friendship with Ina. The Chinese princess smiled nostalgically; it was very lucky of her to have met such an amazing friend, and she was a princess from the Land of the Rising Sun no less. Sun Shang Xiang's head turned to the entrance of her tent when she heard a familiar voice.
Hanzo's cold eyes bore furiously into the handmaidens' as they barred his entrance to the princess' tent.
"Lady Sun is resting." They said in unison with their swords crossed over the entrance to the tent.
"I have an appointment with my lady; let me through." The ninja half growled.
Before the handmaidens could counter, Sun Shang Xiang pulled open the drapes of her tent.
"Jiaxuan, Fuzhen, its okay; I have to talk to him."
Their eyes went from their mistress to the tall, muscular ninja; they nodded and allowed him to enter the princess' tent.
"A bit much don't you think?" Hanzo commented on her wind and fire wheels hanging from her waist and the long bow strapped to her back.
The princess smiled in amusement. "I'll be fine."
She then moved to the back of her tent and used one of her weapons to carefully slice an opening into the fabric and carefully slipped through. Hanzo followed silently and eyed her suspiciously.
"You're not going to explain this to your guards?"
"No; as protective as they are of me, they are ultimately loyal to my brother and would notify him of this whole situation."
"You would rather have them think that you are spending an indeterminable amount of hours with a man, alone, in the middle of the night?"
"As long as he's a handsome man." She let out a short laugh.
The ninja allowed the smallest twitch to appear on his lips, beneath his mask, at her compliment and followed her to the eastern wall of the stronghold. Hanzo approached the wall casually, crouched slightly and flipped effortlessly over the high barricade. Sun Shang Xiang rolled her eyes and prepared her wind and fire wheels. She sharply threw the bladed rings into the wall and jumped up to grab them. Her legs were dangling above the ground and she pulled herself up enough to use her weapons as a step. The princess kicked on of the rings up into her hand and punched it into the wall above her. She hung from that ring and kicked the other one into her hand and punched it into the wall beside its twin. Sun Shang Xiang kicked off the wall, forcing her body to flip up and land on top of the battlement. Her body was hanging upside down as she gripped her weapons and pulled them out of the wall, swinging the upper half of her body forward. The unexpected force caused her to lose her balance and she restrained a gasp as she fell off the camp's fortification. She expected to feel the hard, dirty ground against her backside, but instead she landed in a pair of warm, muscular arms; her face immediately flushed.
"If this is how stealthy you are, then perhaps I should leave you behind." Hanzo's gruff voice filled her ears.
"That… th-that was just an accident." She squirmed out of his arms.
"Accidents can be fatal." He said while lowering her to the ground.
"I know that!" The princess replied hotly. "That was just…!"
"A temper is a hindrance on the battlefield." Hanzo interrupted monotonously and walked past her.
Sun Shang Xiang's fists clenched and she glared at his retreating back. The walk toward the Orochi camp was quiet and a little unnerving, at least for the Wu princess. Her traveling companion was like a walking statue; sturdy and silent. He took casual glances at the moon at certain intervals while taking note of various landmarks along the way. When the moon was almost midway down the western sky, they had already made it within a few kilometers of Orochi's camp.
"Run." Hanzo grunted suddenly.
"What?" Sun Shang Xiang stared at him.
"Run." He repeated and sprinted ahead of her.
"Hey!" She called after him. "Wait!"
Her breath caught in her throat and her sides began to ache as she struggled to keep up with the agile ninja. The princess had always been a speedy runner, especially compared to most of the other Wu generals, but Hanzo was in a whole other league. The shadow warrior showed no sign of fatigue during the five kilometer run and the princess was amazed at his unwavering endurance. It annoyed her a bit to know that he was better than her at something she was known for. When she finally caught up to him, he was standing in the shadow a poplar tree eyeing the fortifications and watch towers before him, analyzing the area while Sun Shang Xiang caught her breath.
"How well can you use that bow?" The ninja's eyes narrowed in the direction on watch tower.
"Ina's been teaching me; I'm not as good as her but—"
"I trust Ina-hime's knowledge." He interrupted her. "I need you to strike down that guard up there."
"There are two of them; if I hit one, the other will be alerted."
"I'll take care of it. When I give you a signal, fire; understand?"
Sun Shang Xiang nodded and prepared her bow. She pulled her arrow back on the bowstring and took aim while watching Hanzo scale the watchtower out of the corner of her eye. He reached the support just below the apex of the tower and motioned with his fingers and she released her arrow. The ninja waited for the whistle of a speeding arrow and a death cry before leaping high into the air and slitting the other guard's throat. He crouched low amongst the bodies, peering over the guardrails to the next tower. Hanzo signaled the princess and they repeated their strategy until the ninja was clear to open the gate for Sun Shang Xiang without being spotted. The pair lurked in the shadows until they viewed the entrance to the holding cells.
"We have to hurry." Sun Shang Xiang hissed.
"We must wait." Hanzo grunted.
"What?" She muttered, shocked. "Why? You can take out those guards with no problem!"
The ninja held his arm out to bar her passage and it was then that she understood his plan.
'If we wait until they changed shifts, then it will give us more time to free brother and father…' The princess shook her head in frustration. 'I can't believe I didn't think of that!'
They both stayed low until they spotted a new pair of guards relieve their predecessors of their duty. When the previous guards were out of earshot, Hanzo dashed forward and Sun Shang Xiang heard the slick slice of steel against flesh and the guards collapsed onto themselves. The ninja motioned her to approach to the cells and she sprinted forward to assist Hanzo open the door to the prison. He raised his kusari-gama but was halted by the princess' firm grip on his wrist, and his eyes narrowed in annoyance.
"There is a better way to do that." Sun Shang Xiang crouched over a guard's body to retrieve the keys to the jail.
She pulled open the door and immediately found her family in the drafty stone prison.
"Brother! Father!" The princess cried out joyfully.
"Sister?" Sun Quan's eyes brightened in surprise.
"What are you doing here?" Sun Jian embraced his daughter.
"There's no time to explain; we have to get out of here!" The princess said quickly.
"My lords, my lady…" Hanzo interrupted from the doorway. "We have an opening."
The quartet moved swiftly from shadow to shadow until they reached the outer wall of the Orochi camp. Hanzo swung his chained weapon high into the air and embedded the sickle into the ledge of the battlement. He offered the chain to the princess, who climbed to the top, followed by her father then her brother. Sun Shang Xiang's eyes widened when she noticed a guard returning from his patrol. She reflexively readied her bow and released an arrow. A death cry echoed throughout the camp and the princess winced at her impetuousness. When Hanzo reached the top of the wall, he gave her a nod of appreciation but his eyes shifted back to the body when a panicked voice called out.
"The prisoners have escaped!" An alarmed voice cried out. "Alert Lady Da Ji!"
The escapees jumped down to the other side of the fortress walls.
"We have to split up." Sun Quan whispered fiercely. "It'll split their forces."
"There is a smaller fortress to the southwest; we will gather our forces and meet you there." Hanzo informed him.
Sun Jian nodded in confirmation and his daughter embraced him and his son again.
"Be careful." The princess said almost tearfully.
"You too, sister." Sun Quan smiled affectionately.
"Princess…" Hanzo urged monotonously.
Sun Shang Xiang released her father and brother, and took one last look before following the shadow warrior around the corner to the stables in time to see him mounting a horse.
"Breaking and entering, murder, orchestrating the escape of prisoners…" The princess crossed her arms and frowned. "…and now we're stealing? I should be against this."
"Perhaps you would like to talk after we've finished?" Hanzo offered his hand to her.
She smiled wryly and was pulled up onto the horse in front of the ninja. He squeezed his heels into the side of the horse and it pulled back onto its hind legs and let out a whinny before going into a full gallop. The princess felt her heart racing; it was the first time since the warping of time that she felt excited to go into battle. She knew that there were likely to be hundreds of men chasing them down, but feeling Hanzo's arms on both sides of her and his armored chest against her back was comforting; it made her feel a kind of security she hadn't felt since her family was together and she liked it; she didn't want it to go away.
It wasn't until she felt the ninja nudge her back that she realized that they had returned to the Wu camp. An embarrassed blush crept up one her face; Sun Shang Xiang felt a little foolish for having her head in the clouds at such a dire time.
"Both father and son have escaped the gallows." Hanzo stated as he entered Sun Ce's tent.
"Excellent work you two! This is the best news I've heard in a long time!" Sun Ce smiled proudly.
"I never thought it would pay off to have experience working for Orochi, but I was able to describe to Hanzo where father was being held, and he set him free! Oh, thank you so much!" Sun Shang Xiang said joyfully, bursting into the tent.
"Mission complete…" The ninja murmured triumphantly.
"All that's left if to reunite with my father, and then our family will be back together at last!" The young prince said determinedly.
Hanzo entered his tent immediately after the conclusion of the battle; he was never one to participate in unruly celebration no matter how joyous the occasion. He placed his kusari-gama in its case and began to remove his armor. The ninja removed his shirt, rotated his shoulders and cracked his neck as he approached his sleeping mat.
"Hanzo?" Sun Shang Xiang peeked into his tent.
"Did you need something princess?" He turned to face her.
She paused for a moment at the sight of his muscular torso. "Why aren't you with everybody else?"
"I don't enjoy crowds." He shifted. "Why aren't you?"
"I thought I would keep you company, unless you're going to bed?"
The ninja stayed silent; his cold eyes boring into her.
"I just…" Sun Shang Xiang took a step toward Hanzo. "I didn't really thank you properly before… for saving my father and brother…"
Hanzo stayed silent again.
"Okay…" The Chinese princess turned away. "I'll just go…"
Hanzo gently gripped her shoulder.
"I'm not good at this." He said a bit darkly.
Sun Shang Xiang turned to him. "What are you talking about?"
"I have…" The ninja paused. "… difficulties displaying affection."
"Excuse me?!" The princess was almost horrified.
"I have become very fond of you, and I have noticed that you have become fond of me as well." He kept slight spaces in between his words as he spoke.
The Wu princess had never been more mortified in her life. Had she really been that transparent? Her eyes were stuck on her shoes and her cheeks reddened considerably. She suddenly felt Hanzo's large hand cup her chin and tilt her face upwards until their eyes met. That's when she saw it, a sign that signaled a change in her life; his eyes had finally softened. Hanzo lowered his lips to meet hers. Sun Shang Xiang felt her eyes closed slowly and the next thing she knew the ninja was laying her down on his sleeping mat. The ninja pulled his lips away from hers with a heavy sigh; his eyes begging her for permission. She suddenly noticed that her hands were pressed firmly against his hard chest. Sun Shang Xiang smiled shyly and sat up to kiss him, wrapping her arms around his neck and pulling him down with her.
This is what love was supposed to be like. It wasn't supposed to be awkward, it wasn't supposed to be unattached and it wasn't supposed to be arranged. It was supposed to be just like this. It was supposed to be passionate and endearing. It was supposed to be hot and consuming. It was supposed to be like fire.
End of Story.
Author's Note: I hope you liked it!