Author's note: First of all, I don't own Kung Fu Panda, nor do I intend to make any money with this.

I would like to dedicate this humble piece of writing to my friends – they complete me, giving me reasons to live every day.

And I would like to thank the blessedness of the universe for having made a new friend because of this story: I can't thank Mrs. Mercury Megatron enough for being graceful to the point of accepting being my beta reader. As Po would say, she is awesome! She gave me tips, encouraged me and made the original text a thousand times better! If you like this story, thank her too.

Reviews and comments will be very much appreciated The story is already finished, I'll finished, I'll be posting the chapters after working on them a bit more. It was rated T for suicidal thoughts and violent images. And now, on with the story.

The Golden Mountain

Chapter I: After the Battle

Po looked down at Tai Lung, defeated, his body nearly completely immobilized
by the Wu Xi Finger Hold. Through the sound of the dust settling, Po could
hear the leopard's strained breathing. He was alive, harmless and alive. And
Po was the winner.

He let out a sight of relief as he retrieved the Dragon Scroll. He had
defeated Tai Lung and fulfilled his destiny as the Dragon Warrior. No need for secret ingredient indeed! I guess Oogway was not a crazy turtle after all. I did it. It was all he could think, beaming with joy, though his body ached.

Full of pride and a little dazzled by moment, he turned to leave when he
heard a low, raspy voice mutter "Kill me."

Po looked at the broken figure lying on the ground. Tai Lung's mouth was
moving, trying to draw more air to his body, and his eyes were wide open. He
searched with his gaze until he found Po's eyes. Gold met green and Po
didn't know what to do as he noted teardrops running across Tai Lung's

"Kill me," reiterated Tai Lung. "I cannot! I cannot live with this

Po approached Tai Lung cautiously. It couldn't have been a trap. He was
far too injured to pose any threat to the Dragon Warrior, no doubt about it.
And the tears! The tears were real, but what were they for? Were they tears
of shame? Sadness? Po couldn't tell.

"I'm not gonna kill you, Tai Lung," Po softly whispered. "I'm
gonna hand you over to Chor Ghom, again. It's over." Tai Lung eyes
gleamed, fresh tears cascading down his cheeks as he cried,

"Please, I beg you, I can't go back there or anywhere else… not like this" Po noticed him trying to move, maybe to stand up, but he couldn't. He fixed his gaze on Po's again.

"You," he breathed, panting as he spoke. "You are the true Dragon
Warrior. You are my enemy and I am yours. You can't dishonor me like
that," he growled, voice strained with effort.

"I told you, Tai Lung, it's over," replied Po sternly, confused and frightened by the snow leopard's plea for death.

"It's not! Finish it! Take my life as the prize you deserve, Dragon
Warrior, or I'll take it, myself, for it will have no value at all where you
would send me… or anywhere else" he ended in a tone barely above a whisper, averting his gaze in shame.

Now Po was really troubled. All his life, inside and outside the Jade Palace he had listened to stories about Tai Lung's life. He had thought he knew everything that could possibly happen. He thought he could handle whatever
the Kung Fu master could throw at him, but nothing had prepared him for this.
He considered his options and concluded that, while he could have killed Tai
Lung in other circumstances, having no other option, there was no way he could
kill him here. Not now, not like this, when he was a pathetic creature on the
ground, arms and legs motionless, with only those big pleading eyes staring
into his own. Those big, orange and yellow eyes that were so familiar, somehow, that
there was no way he could end their bearer.

And Po knew what he had to do. He remembered he was a young child,
the wisdom he learned with his father and why these eyes were triggering his
memories. A small smile crossed his face as something invisible moved all
around him. It made him aware on a level beyond the seen. He felt a flow of
energy surrounding and connecting every living thing. Closing his eyes, he
placed his paw over Tai Lung's chest, and felt his heart beating to an
eternal rhythm that everything shared. He could feel the rhythm of life. Like water, trickling from a tap, words fell from his mouth, but he felt somehow he was only the messenger, a conduit of a greater force.

"Tai Lung, as you have said, your life is forfeit to me, for I have defeated you in battle, and you ask for death to cleanse your soul of dishonor. But I have a proposition for you. I must go on a journey. It might be perilous beyond measure, but should you join me, your reward shall be fit the dangers you would face. I have a cure for your soul and your honor that is not death. Will you accompany me?" Po questioned, eyes soft and inviting.

Tai Lung was surprised to say the least. This was the last thing he had expected. He had thought the Dragon Warrior was destined to fight him to the death – now he was faced with an odd display of mercy, but Po, he had to admit, was an odd antagonist A few minutes prior he could not believe a panda could possible best him in a fight. Now he was hurting all over, not to mention how he had lost quite spectacularly.

"I accept your proposition, Dragon Warrior," Tai Lung agreed, not knowing what else to do.

"Do I have your word, Tai Lung?" Po said, pressing harder on the
leopard's chest.

"Yes," Tai Lung answered, without hesitation.

Po stood, the Universe continuing its warm embrace as whatever deity had control of him relinquished its power to Po.

"The villagers are coming back. I know where you can hide for now," Po
noted, spotting the herd of rabbits, geese, and swine approaching the town.