Tigress was humming softly the melody to herself for a while because she didn't know what else to do. A night and half a day were gone and Po was still crying. She tried to get him out of there but he told her to stay put and wait – and she obeyed again even though every inch of her body and mind screamed against it. At least it wasn't blood anymore, he was crying normal tears now, but it was still a horrific sight – the panda in all fours weeping, moaning and occasionally screaming, tears flowing without any sign of stopping. She tried to remember the words in the song so she could sing it to Po, to soothe him.
"In my heart, in my heart
There lives a light
That helps me walk
The path through life
By shining bright
Inside my heart"
It was the only song she could sing; it was the only song she remembered. Master Oogway would sing it some times, beneath the peach tree, while meditating. She was certain that there were more words, but she couldn't bring them to her mind. Holding back her own tears thinking that at least one of them should keep a straight head, she hummed again hoping that Po was listening and that it would help him somehow. But he couldn't hear Tigress. He was listening to something else.
Was it his voice? He thought so. Yes, he was sure it was. He could still feel the pain and the question hang in front of him.
Why? Why so much pain? Why so many wrong things?
Wasn't it childish? To presume he could have the answer to these questions? But he didn't know where he was, and that was all he could think about, because the pain was all he could feel.
Open your eyes, young Dragon Warrior.
That wasn't him. Po opened his eyes to see Master Oogway standing right in front of him. They were in some kind of garden – a place Po never saw before, yet felt familiar at the same time. The sun was shining and a cool breeze brought to Po's face the smell of all flowers in the world.
"What's upsetting you this time, Master Dragon Warrior?" Oogway asked, using that soft, gentle tone Po knew so much.
"It's… it's everything, Master! Lately I've been having this dreams, terrible dreams. I see all my friends dead because of themselves! I see the bad things inside them rot them and kill them or they kill each other. I sense the pain of everybody! I see agony everywhere!" Po wept, hands trembling before his face.
"I understand. Are you in the world to right all the wrongs, Master Dragon Warrior? Because if that's the case, you will need a bigger scroll," joked the old master, trademark smile never so much as faltering.
"I just… I just wanna know why! Why all this? Why do bad things happen?" Po nearly screamed, the frustration, fear, pain, and hatred of all those he had seen pouted out into those small words.
"Why do good things happen?" Asked Oogway, chuckling.
"That's no answer, Master, I want to know…" Po trailed off as Oogway laughed slightly harder, a soft, warming sound that resonated within his core, showing the light in the darkest cave of fear, the sound of the butterfly's wings beating within those chiming notes.
"That's precisely the answer," replied Oogway and reached with his paws to caress the panda's chest and belly with his long nails.
"Master, what are you…" Po's inquiry was cut off by Master Oogway's voice.
"Showing you the answer my boy. It was with you all the time; look. Black and white. Darkness and light. One cannot exist without the other. One gives meaning to the other. One shows the direction to the other. Both of them serve as teachers," Oogway removed his claws and Po touched his own body, beholding his own fur. Then it occurred to him and he faced Oogway.
"I knew about the butterfly!" He exclaimed.
"Yes. A sign of change. It was one of the very first things I saw before weeping where the Sacred Pool now stands. See, I saw the strings that connect everything, and I cried for the beauty of it. Those who see the strings connecting only the good things cry of joy but are trapped in illusions that soon shatter. And those who see only the bad things – like you're doing right now – cry of pain and most end their lives out of desperation." he explained with a sage-like expression.
"Master, why was I… what is… why is this happening to me?" Po asked, wishing to go back to how things were, even if it meant being a simple noodle salesman.
"Because one way or another only the Dragon Warrior can weep a new Pool. I'm sorry Po, if you chose to be this way," Oogway sighed softly.
"I didn't…" Po began, but was cut off again.
"Yes you did. As you said, you see agony everywhere, but is agony all there is? Then you're choosing what to see. Darkness and light; a Warrior must know and find the balance between these two, not pay attention to only one of them. You risk loosing your soul. And that would be a terrible loss to the world," Oogway smiled, his old features wrinkling even more and Po joined him. A natural smile, a real one.
"That's very good" Oogway assured him
"Thank you, Master. For everything. Now can you tell me how to get back…"
The vision vanished. Po saw nothing but darkness and felt pain again, but only the pain of his own body complaining of hunger. Judging by the sting in his stomach and his breath, he had vomited. He realized he was laid down and moved his arms before opening his eyes. He tried to get up, but a pair of soft paws held him. It was Tigress.
"You're not going anywhere, Po. Not now. The sun is almost up, we'll get you something to eat, you'll rest a bit more and then we'll take the shorter way back. Slowly," she emphasized the last word with as much emotion as she would permit herself to show.
"The sun is… was I out the whole night?" Po asked, still dazzled.
"No. A day and a half," answered Tigress.
"What?" hissed Po, astonished at how short of a time it had felt like. He'd be damned if he ever became used to spirit time.
"You cried another Pool," she explained.
Po rolled to his side. He was near the edge of the Pool of Sacred Tears, now filled.
"It began with blood," Tigress whispered hollowly, like the very mention of it brought her to some horrid place she dare not set foot in, while Po gazed at the scene before him. "You started to cry blood and I didn't know what to do because I thought you were injured, but you told me to stay. That I had nothing to worry about. And then the blood stopped and you started crying normal tears and filled the Pool with them. You also vomited a bit. And screamed. A lot." She tried to sound like she was telling him something as trivial as how the weather was, trying not to show in her voice what she was feeling while Po was crying, and how worried she was still. She thought that was not necessary, at least not at that moment.
Po laid his body on the floor and relaxed, feeling good for the first time, since he couldn't remember when, murmuring, "Thank you, Tigress. Thank you for trusting me. Thank you for coming when I needed you. And I'm sorry I made you worry about me so much."
"Are you all right, Po?" Tigress questioned, concern glimmering in her proud eyes.
"Yes… Yes, I mean, I came and I did what I had to do. Learned my lesson. Time to go back home, as you said," Po replied, his tone drained but joyous. This is Po. Thought Tigress happily as she allowed herself a small smile.
"Good. Because once we get there you're resting for a little while more. And after that you'll have to compensate for almost scaring me to death during training sessions," Tigress tried her best serious tone of voice, but the shadow of a smile on her lips betrayed her happiness and relief that Po was fine.
"Does this mean I have a fan club?" Po asked, chuckling, a true smile shining through his face. He expected a smart retort, but Tigress bent down and hugged him instead. He was appalled to say the least, but hugged her back.
"It's all right, Tigress. I'm here." He assured, holding her close. Somehow he knew she always wanted to show him how much she cared, but she could only do it like this when they were away from others. And he wasn't feeling any pain. In fact, he was feeling the complete opposite of it.
"Never scare me like that again," she sobbed, allowing herself freedom for the first time in too long. While Po noticed it, he said nothing, glad she felt comfortable enough around him to let him see her tears.
"I'll do my best. Now… what about that food before getting back you were talking about…?" He smirked.
"Of course, Po" She let go of the embrace and stared at him, intensely in the eyes.
"Huh… is anything wrong, Tigress?" Asked Po, finding it hard to maintain eye contact.
"No Po. Nothing's wrong now, I guess" She said, getting up and walking to where the ashes of the fire she previously built were.
Sacred! She thought as she tossed together a meal, grinning like a Cheshire cat the entire time. Nothing less than sacred.
Author's Note: Another fic of mine that ends with a hug-touchy scene. Maybe Po is just good at making friends, maybe I just love this kind of thing… oh, well…it's over, anyway.
Special thanks, now and forever, to PointyEdgesofaSign, my beta and friend, who not only improved the story a gazllion times ,she also gave me a bonus feature; a soundtrack for this story, each song matching a particular scene! It was such a surprise and a beautiful gesture and I loved it so much I have to share it with you, dear reader:
1) Knights of Cydonia by Muse – When Po and Tigress get to the Sacred Pool of Tears and Po struggles to reach it
2) Right in Front of You by Celine Dion – When Po wakes up and goes back to being the loveable dork Tigress had gotten so used to
3) Because of You by Kelly Clarkson – In the beginning when Tigress is hearing screams and is afraid she is going insane
4) A La Nanita by The Cheetah Girls – When Tigress is singing to Po
5) Viva la Vida (When I Ruled the World) by Coldplay – When Po was overtaken by the voices at the Sacred Pool of Tears
6) Hello by Evanescence – When Po is considering what he has become as he and Tigress continue their journey
7) Starry Eyed Surprise by Paul Oakenfield – When Po meets Oogway
8) Angels by Within Temptation – Po's problem
What can I say besides 'she's the awesomest!'? I like everything but my personal favorite is her fifth choice. Love you to the bones, PointyEdgesofaSign!
To FalconMage: you also helped me a lot in writing this story. You told me about things I needed to know in order to put it all together. Thank you very much and I hope you enjoyed it.
Thanks all reviewers and thank you for reading it. Peace!