Ailurophile

Author note: Hello, everyone! As usual it's been a while. It's too bad, because there not a lot I can do about it. I don't want to get gloomy on you all, but I'm feeling slightly guilty about it. I realise that I'm probably (ABSOLUTELY) - ridiculously slow with my updates, and a lot reviews resort to almost begging. It's my fault obviously. I'm just bad at managing my affairs. I will try harder, but what can you do ?

One other thing, when one of you brilliant people decides this story is worth a review, I'm never really sure about how to respond besides thanking you? I think to myself, should I message back..? What would I say...? You know, because I'm awkward like that. Yes. Even on the internet... It's not obvious because I've never literally spoke to any of you. If any of you want me to reply then you'll have to say so in the review, or you just PM me. Either of those will definitely get my attention. I realise a couple of you might have a question. If so, then don't be shy to ask! I probably have enough of that for the both of us.

Thank you for your reviews: ciana tl, MercenaryCrime, Tigerlover, IntolerableAssumptions, awesome visitor, Kid Darkness, Babycakes22, embodimentxofxbadxluck, Kristjan Philip, Randomness, Proud2beMexican, Y, jennygirl1996, kadienewberg, shade7caos, Guest, Baby doll, Sek, Arashi Kazakama, pureblood123, Shadestream40, wolves, kuroneko.


Advent

Flashback - Over 1 year ago

It was so cold. The weather didn't get much more Siberian than this.

It was one of many reasons he wasn't sleeping. In this forsaken place the Gods would know that the knackered, fatigued Snow Leopardso well concealed from the world― was unable to find rest. It was even more maddening because his depleted state was only manifest from the huge Turtle Shell device that he was forced to wear on his back. Without it, all his problems would go away... That very thought reminded him that his premier... living conditions would never change because the Shell of his back would never go away.

He was trapped in. Tai Lung was the only one who would ever know of his suffering. He didn't know whether falling asleep or staying awake was worse. If he stayed awake, he would only see this place, black and algid... and be forced to take everything else the lived here without any way of escape. If he closed his eyes, he only saw their faces, their empty gazes watching him... with accusation.

Today was a different day. He somehow knew that the presence of his cage had changed.

His suspicions were soon confirmed.

Regardless of the sheer size of his cage, he could still hear the Warden's roaring echo from up high, and because of the ambient stillness, he even just about managed to make out a few of the Warden's words; at least he thought he had. Though he was not able to express it, he was somewhat baffled with what he was hearing. 'Double the guard? Inadequate security? 'What...' Tai Lung might have scoffed, if he could. Why on earth was such an act be necessary? Then he began to wonder... Did... did something... happen? He had no idea what was going on... But he damn well wished he did. New Gossip, it was gift... This place was usually as quiet as death, well most days at least.

'Escape from Chor-Gom Prison- Is Impossible!'

Whichever way he... approached the situation... Tai Lung was going nowhere, and he'd likely find out what the commotion was at some point... Perhaps when his torment recommenced. Vachir would probably taunt him during session. While doing so, maybe give him an idea of what provoked such a response from the Rhino. Vachir did like to talk.

He distinctly heard the Rhino's throaty laughter... He had come further down. This made it much easier for him to listen. 'One Thousand Guards, and One Prisoner!' A weaker voice replied. He mentioned his name on a whimper. A new scent reached him.

He heard the Lift platform's chain, and again Vachir's laughter.

With a little more focus he thought he heard distressed whining. Because of the sharp Chain ringing slowly getting loudly, it became immediately clear.

He was coming down...

Normally Tai Lung would have... dreaded this. He let out a breath. There was only one reason why the Warden ever came to see him, and it wasn't to keep him company. But this time Tai Lung was not so uneased. Although the feeling was certainly there, he was more curious because Vachir was with someone, and Tai Lung genuinely wished to know who had come to his home. Any new distraction was a good thing. He took a small breath. After twenty years in this place, he tried make good of any kind of situation... He knew the result of too many trepid thoughts. He would not fall into that trap again. Never. It was no option.

He heard the Cogs creak and turn, and felt the Drawbridge as it finally touched down on his level. He felt eyes on him.

"Behold, Tai Lung."

There was pause, then a shaky voice spoke. "I'll, umm- I'm just gonna wait right here."

Vachir chuckled. "There's nothing to worry about. It's perfectly safe," he placated mockingly, and then he smacked the fellow forward.

They proceeded towards him. "CROSSBOWS, AT THE READY!" Vachir yelled.

"Crossbows?" The small voice said apprehensively. He must have been the new scent Tai Lung had picked up. Now that the Vachir and... whomever this person was were right in front of him, his perception of them was now at its strongest.

Vachir strode towards him without fear. "Hey, tough-guy! Did you hear? Oogway's finally gonna give someone the Dragon Scroll, and it's NOT gonna be you."

"What are you doing? Don't get him mad!" the goose practically squealed.

"What's he gonna do about it? I've got him completely immobilised," he drawled. Suddenly, Tai Lung felt his instincts prickle. They told him to react, they begged him to move, but he do could nothing. Vachir lifted his foot- and hammered it down. The goose whimpered, and Vachir barked in laughter.

"..."

All three of them knew that it would be painful, no matter who you were, yet he did not so much as flinch. Vachir wasn't bothered- right now- at all by the lack of response; the Rhino had become use to it. He moved his head right next to Tai Lung's. "Oh, did I step the widdle kitty's tail? Aw..." Only Vachir and Tai Lung were aware that crushing his tail was the least he could do... And Tai Lung could sense the silent message Vachir sent him. The Warden would come to see him later... The Snow leopard seethed inwardly. This was what he had been reduced to... nothing! He had it made profusely clear to him that he was worthless, and was left alive only... for this.

The goose broke, and laughed tensely. "I'M GOOD! I've seen enough! Am gonna tell Shifu he's got nothing to worry about." The goose turned, and quickly set off.

"No, he doesn't." Vachir affirmed.

"Ok, I'll tell him that..." Vachir snorted. "Can we please go now?"

How he wished tear the Warden apart. So much... That bastard, whose cruelty perhaps exceeded any pain Tai lung had subjected to a single person. He felt his rage build up... It was irrepressible... All control slipped. 'I'LL KILL HIM! ONE DAY-'

-It had been small, virtually undetectable. Yet Tai Lung had felt it.

Wrathful eyes opened... and looked down.


He mumbled unintelligible words to himself and brought his paws to his face to rub away the lassitude, at least as much as he was able to. Tai Lung blinked rapidly. His sleep had not been reinvigorating. He was probably worse off than he was before he closed his eyes. The cycle continues, he hardly gets a few hours in, and ends ups waking up feeling like crushed stones. It had been odd, to dream of his last day in prison. He usually experienced the earlier years of his incarceration.

He opened his eyes fully, and remained idle on the bed for the moment... 'NO! I've made the mistake... of ever letting you touch me!' Tai Lung frowned; he felt his chest rumble, and the inevitable growl that escaped his throat. He leaned up quickly, all his fatigue vanished. His eyes darted around the room in search of her, but she was elsewhere... He had almost expected her to next himalmost. Where she had gone? He glanced at the window, it was morning. He didn't want to admit it, but perhaps her words had affected him.

Their head-to-head was still raw on him.

He wanted to find her. Even having no idea what to say, he felt that he needed to somehow clear things up.

He got off his bed and started for the door 'You're a monster.' He stopped.

The snow Leopard felt oddly... disheartened. The next time she spoke to him, would she say something like that again? He could hear her repeat the tirade in his head. The sound of it left him feeling ill, he did not like it. She wanted nothing to do with him. So what was he supposed to do? Not so many hours ago he actually played with the idea of releasing her, then he let the thought sink in, and found himself stunned by hesitance. He... wasn't going to let her leave.

This only brought him back to square one with her. She knew what he wanted, he'd certainly made it clear, but he knew she wanted it too... and yet she would still loath him no matter what

After yesterday, he knew she would resist if her attempted to persuade her.

He frowned. He wasn't sure what to do. On one hand he had never felt so weak, yet on the other he truly wished she would throw down her reservations... Because she was driving him mad. He couldn't think straight with this woman.

Tai Lung refocused, and continued on. For now he would take each situation as it comes, and try not to get to drawn into thoughts of Tigress... It would only vex him further. There was no other way of going about it.

He pushed through the paired doors of his cabin, not passing a single glance around to outer room, and went straight on deck. He opened the door to be greeted by a momentary wave of sunlight. His eyes adjusted, and he saw most of the crew working mindedly.

Hong came to his side the moment he saw him. Tai Lung looked at him in acknowledgement, but said nothing. For most of his life Hong had always spent more time watching than talking, and he would not be boasting to say he had gained good observational skills. He doubted that it down to such skills that he noticed how deep Tai Lung was snared in his brooding thoughts. As rare as it was, it was Hong who decide to break their mutual silence. "You're feeling well?" Hong asked somewhat prudently.

"Never better," Tai Lung replied darkly.

Hong knew that tone. Tai Lung had used it enough times for it to be noticed, and recognised it as the 'calm before the storm.' The crew were soon likely to suffer in some shape or form. He'd have to make sure that the ship physician was prepared.

"What is our estimated time of arrival?"

Hong scratched his knuckles. "We should see port in less an hour, I think."

Tai Lung grumbled. "You think."

The Snow Leopard shifted on his paws, and spoke quietly, maybe even a little wearily. But there was a certain pressure behind his words. "Tell me, Hong. Be honest. Do you think I made the right choice?"

Hong could only guess on what the Kung Fu Master was referring to, and he honestly didn't know where to start. "What... do you mean?"

Tai Lung didn't move, or reply right away. Hong considered giving an answer of some kind, but Tai Lung saved him by finally opening his mouth. "I could have beaten them all... you know that. It was within my power. If the Dragon Warrior and his comrades were so easily defeated, then don't you think that we should have finished the job?"

Hong felt that his next words would somehow have an effect on future, but he was unsure of where this going. He decided to try and gauge Tai Lung and not give much of reaction. "Perhaps," Hong said nonchalantly.

Tai Lung turned to face Hong with a sunken disappointment, yet somehow intense. "Yes, perhaps. Really, Hong? You have nothing you want to say to me? Did I not monumentally fail to deliver as the others believed?"

Hong finally began to understand where this was going. He did have an opinion. Although he wondered how Tai Lung would take it. He didn't enjoy talking about his drunken decent in to despair, but... " Would you believe me if I said I really didn't care? Before I was privy to any plans of revenge or invasion, I was wasting my life, and it was you who came to me and gave me a something to focus on. I am grateful for this. I do not like Shifu, but it wasn't why I originally joined you." The words were not well practiced, but Hong watched as Tai Lung gave away a flicker of admiration, whether he wanted Hong to see it or not. This showed him that perhaps Tai Lung appreciated the earnestness of what he said.

Tai Lung shook his head. "You forget that I only sought you out as means to taking over the Valley."

Hong Shrugged. "It never made a difference to me."

A small flicker of satisfaction appeared on Tai Lung's face, but it quickly fell away. "I see."

Hong shook himself back to his usually demeanour, and repeat his first words. "You are sure you're feeling well?"

Tai Lung nodded then walked off, leaving Hong watching his back warily.


Tigress sat crossed-legged beside her newest friend. Before the night had ended, Tigress had reluctantly asked if she would be able to stay with her for the night. Reluctantly, because she knew deep down she was acting from a place of weakness in making the request. Whether Nisa had noticed the hidden strain behind her asking she doubted, but was grateful that Nisa happily agreed without any questions. It was obvious she wanted to probe her... She didn't blame her; in fact she was surprised Nisa had managed to keep her mouth shut. She knew it wouldn't stay bottled forever. When the morning had arrived, in the wake of rather unrestful sleep, she stared at Nisa as she seemed to fidget on the spot and look around unsubtly. Then finally...

"Ssooo..." Nisa said awkwardly.

Tigress felt the ends of lips quirk, as she couldn't help but see a resemblance between her and father, especially as she drew out a word.

"Go ahead then, you've been itching to since yesterday," Tigress groaned.

Nisa flushed. "Sorry, but you've been really edgy up till now. You seem better... so I thought it might be okay to ask why you've really been avoiding Tai Lung."

Tigress had expected a response like this and couldn't help rolling her eyes. "You are aware that I'm still a prisoner on this ship. He abducted me, It's not as though we're on good terms," she scolded.

"Yeah, but you also said he hasn't done anything wrong to you. So even though that's the case how come you decided to stay below deck with me instead of in his felicitous cabin with him?" Nisa retorted.

Tigress adopted a careless expression. "I just needed to get away from him for a little bit. Surely you understand that, what with you living under similar circumstances."

She didn't seem totally convinced. Nisa only to stared at her. Then suddenly, Nisa frowned, and for a moment Tigress thought she might have said something wrong. "Okay." Nisa's tone seemed to hint that she didn't appreciate the comment, but at least she didn't look as eager to question her. Tigress sighed at her impending guilt. Perhaps she could have worded it more considerately. As it was... she had almost no one to consider friendly company on this ship, and it probably didn't help for her to push away what possible allies she had by offending them...

"Sorry, I shouldn't have said that," she said sincerely.

Nisa's stare lingered slightly, but soften at that. "It's okay."

Tigress smiled. "I think I'm hungry now, how about you?"

"Yeah, alright," Nisa agreed joyfully. And it was forgotten.

Tigress pushed herself off the bed and led Nisa to the galley. She sighed in relief in knowing that Nisa couldn't see her face. She was glad that she'd managed to clear that up so easily, but perhaps not everyone was as nice as Nisa was. Maybe she needed to work on her social skills...

She walked through the wide foyer leading up to the main deck. Ignoring all the surrounding hammocks bearing... loudly sleeping crewmen, she proceeded up the lambent stairs. She heard Nisa giggle but didn't bother to ask what she found funny. If Nisa wanted to tell her then she would. "You'd think that men lead by Tai Lung would be a little more fearsome," Nisa said humorously. Tigress smiled in agreement. Oddly, there weren't nearly as many intimidating men as she initially thought had been when she first arrived. In fact a lot the types she were most wary of were nowhere to be seen, almost like they were gone?

The galley was the cabin directly across from Tai Lung's. When Tigress emerged she kept her eyes down for a short moment then snapped her head around giving the deck a quick scan. She felt elated when she didn't see him anywhere.

"Who are you looking for?"

Tigress turned to Nisa. "No one," she said shaking her head.

Like before Nisa didn't really look convinced. Tigress frowned but she didn't push it.

Instead she ignored her, and led on.

She knew the chance of an unwanted encounter was high. His cabin was attached to the galley so it was probably―and unfortunately―unavoidable. She'd almost reached the door when she noticed Hong standing right by it. She eyed him as she walked, and after moment's hesitation she gave him a nod. She couldn't tell whether he was surprised or offended by the gesture, but to clarify acknowledgement, in return he offered the slightest dip of his head.

That was surprising.

The cabin door flew open making her jump. But it was only members the crew acting raucous. They were laughing with each other, completely ignoring her. She suddenly felt irritated, and made a promise that she wouldn't let herself be influenced by her grievance with Tai Lung―at least when she wasn't around him. She flicked her eyes once more to Hong, he seemed to regard her curiously, but she pretended not to notice and walked through.

With Nisa behind her she walked to where she knew the dishes would be. She took a big one, and opted to fill it with whatever she could find while Nisa took a seat near to her.

"Good morning my star," she heard Raja say pleasantly from behind her.

"Good morning, Father," Nisa answered nonchalantly.

Tigress smirked as she could practically feel Raja sink. "So, Tigress, how has your stay with Tai Lung been so far?" Raja questioned after noticing her.

Tigress snorted in distaste. "I'm sure you and Tai Lung have already had a chummy discussion of just how much he's seen to my enjoying this vacation," she said sarcastically.

She heard him let out an awkward chuckle. She assumed he was thrown off by her comment. "Yes, a little. But Tai Lung rarely speaks to me of anything he would deem unrelated to business."

She'd bet that was a lie... "I've never been to anywhere beyond China in my life till recently. I suppose that one merit is that I can finally say that I've been able do so."

Raja nodded in agreement. "Certainly, it's an admirable feat in these times. I myself have been to many parts of Asia, but I did spend great deal of my life in China."

Tigress' eyes went wide. She might have known he'd been to China, but what Raja implied was that he'd lived there at a time. "You lived in China?" She failed to keep the shock from her voice. Before he could answer her she added to the question. "Which province?" She turned to look at him.

"Hubei," he answered.

She processed this for a moment. Now, a whole range of possibilities were running through her mind. She wanted to ask questions. One of the first being just how long had Raja and Tai Lung actually known each other, and just how deeply were affiliated when he'd lived there... If he'd known Tai Lung so long ago then why hadn't she heard of him? She knew practically all the stories ever made about Tai Lung.

Raja grinned widely. "Curiouser and curiouser, is it not?"

"I'm sorry father, but what's curiouser," Nisa asked, dryly interrupting.

Raja turned to her warily. "Oh, nothing darling. I was just trying to be cryptic―"

"Whatever," she muttered.

Raja cleared his throat nervously. Now it was Tigress' turn to grin. It seemed that Nisa was staying true to her statement on not letting off her father easily. She guiltily took pleasure in witnessing his discomfort. It was about time someone else suffered. She found herself snickering. Ha, it felt good to be the audience for once.

"Is something amusing?" Raja asked tonelessly, but she could see his smile.

She shrugged. "Just a thought."

"Hn, do share?"

She was grateful that her nerves had settled, because if they hadn't she knew wouldn't have been able to stop herself from shivering. She turned to him. This was it. She had to prove to herself that she could face him without faltering. So, pushing hard, she answered him. "Tai Lung," she greeted, and she even managed a small nod. 'That was awful'... She would have slapped herself for such pitiful reaction―if it had been anyone else, but not him. Especially when he gave her that odd look. In fact she felt an ounce of triumphant seeing the subtle change on his face.

Tai Lung raised a brow, perplexed. He didn't expect a greeting. Actually he was prepared for hostility, so this courtesy had confused him... It didn't take genius to know it was forced. She even nodded. What was her game...

Then she did something that should have been completely harmless, but he wasn't fooled. She turned away and continued to load food for herself, as if she were totally unconcerned with his presence. If she was putting it up then it was very good acting. He found this highly amusing, and suddenly desired to see just how long she'd keep it up.

"Did you sleep well last night?" He asked, humouring this strange behaviour for the moment.

She hesitated to answer, but acted as though she wasn't paying attention. "...Yes, actually it was the most rest I've gotten in days," she answered... normally.

"I hope so. Rest is what you need for your injury efficiently heal," he informed her seriously.

Tigress kept her head down. "Then it's all the better. I'm always able to sleep well, alone."

He smiled at her, but she didn't feel it. "I'm glad to know you are restored."

She didn't know if he meant that... but it sounded like he did.

Tai Lung turned his attention to Raja. "We need to discuss what you owe me," he told the snake.

Raja raised himself and turned to Nisa. "We should be home very shortly. I will see you soon, daughter." He smiled at Tigress. "I thank you for keeping an eye of her, master Tigress," he bowed.

Tai Lung watched her return Raja's bow sincerely and move closer to Nisa, the two began to converse amongst themselves. She didn't even spare him a glance... not that it annoyed him or anything. He allowed Raja to lead him outside where they could discuss things privately.

"What was that all about? And when were you injured?" Tigress took the vacated seat beside Nisa and placed the plate between them. She began to eat. She could feel eyes on her. She glanced up. Nisa loomed at her. She couldn't be bothered with this. Clearly not a word was missed, and she wanted an explanation.

Tigress huffed.


It had been midday when they arrived. Tai Lung's ship had been docked for few hours, and most of the crew had been at work loading up the newly acquired stock. Besides any crewmen working for Tai Lung, there were a few others around going about their own business. One particularly small individual had decided it would be a good idea to go out for a stroll, to pass the time. With half eaten Apple clutched in his paw, Xiaodan walked along the docks after running out of ways to entertain himself aboard the ship. He had fun sitting crates whilst they were being carried, but all the big ones had been brought up so he thought since the Captain was going to be here for here a while he would have to find something to do.

He couldn't think of anything... so he just ended up walking.

He was suddenly walking through a big crowd of people, and then he knew what he could do! He smirked as he made a new game of running and ducking under the legs of anyone he could fit under.

He liked to imagine he was the Captain when he would beat someone up in his awesome, cool way. Xiaodan smiled broadly and began to picture the battle in his head. He got caught up in his imagination as zipped by all the people, he hopped and ducked mirthfully. Maybe one day he would be like Tai Lung and fight dumb people, maybe he would be like Tigress because she fought dumb people too.

He slowed down, ending his make-believe battle.

He turned around and noticed far away he'd gotten from the ship. He knew that the Captain wouldn't like him wandering far- but he didn't know so it would be okay. Xiaodan started to walk back. He took bite from his apple, and as he did so he didn't noticed the imminent collision, then it hit him.

The sudden impact was hard and made him grunt. He was sent sprawling backwards. "Watch it, runt." Xiaodan groaned in pain.

He looked up at the one who bashed him. A Rhino had hit him, and Xiaodan knew he obviously didn't care because he was already walking away, not caring at all! Xiaodan frowned; he wasn't a runt, and the Rhino very ugly... He got up slowly, but realised that something was different, but what... He gasped. His hat was gone! He looked around wildly and saw it had been sent into the water. It was floating away... He quickly crouched over edge of the drop off, but he couldn't reach it. This was the worst thing ever! He didn't know how to swim.

He watched helplessly as his most valued possession move further and further from his reach.

What could he do? He felt his lip quiver.

He clenched his eyes shut until his dejection gave way to anger, then he turned back to the Rhino who had gotten quite far away now. Xiaodan growled at the ugly man... He looked in hand. He looked back at the Rhino. Just thinking about it made him feel better... His mind was made up. He brought his arm back, aimed, and with all his might he threw his apple.

It met its target- and splattered. The back of the Ugly's head was now dripping. Xiaodan grinned while a few on-lookers laughed at the Rhino.

The Ugly turned, angry, and Xiaodan's grin vanished. He looked mad. "Uh oh...!"

The large man stalked toward Xiaodan. He forced people aside as he drew closer. Xiaodan weighed his options and looked around, but everywhere was crowded. He looked back at him and saw an opportunity. Xiaodan ran towards the Rhino with a scowl as though he wished to meet him with his aggressive intentions. As he got closer he felt a wave fear, he could see the man's face better now. It wasn't nice to look at... The Rhino leaned down to grab him, but Xiaodan ducked fast and managed to evade him between the legs.

Xiaodan thought he succeeded in his escape, but a gust of air blasted him and he felt a grip around his shirt. Suddenly he was lifted off his feet and brought face to face with a very scary looking Rhino.

The Rhino sneered, and huff foul air made Xiaodan nose wrinkle as the Rhino opened his mouth. "... I bet you thought that was clever, runt. Sadly for you, you picked the wrong guy to play games with." Xiaodan went still. "But seein' as I'm a generous guy I'll educate you on a little common sense... so that you know not do something as stupid as this ever again. Does sound reasonable...?" He began to tremble. The Rhino was waiting for him to say something, but he forgot how to talk...

The Rhino shook his head patronisingly. "What the matter...? Cat got your tongue? Aw..." The man began to chuckle at his own joke.

"HEY!"

The Rhino snapped his head towards the voice. He growled, and carelessly dropped the Lion cub. "What do you want, Panda?"

"I saw what you were doing, Vachir! Pickin' on a kid! That's pretty low," he said shaking his head. "We might be on the same team, but that doesn't mean we're gonna let you and your goons do what you want!" The Panda crossed his arms. "I gonna keep my eyes on you guys from here on in, so you you'd better stay out of trouble-"

The Rhino called Vachir started muttering to himself. "I don't need this..." With that he walked away completely ignoring the Panda.

"-you got that? ...HEY! Where you going?"

Po frowned at the Rhino's back. "He's got some serious issues," he said incredulously. He turned his eyes back to the Lion cub sat frozen on the ground. It ticked him off that no-one had courage to interfere. But looking at the shady crowd near this harbour he wasn't really surprised that they didn't care. He crouched in front of him. "Hey, little guy, you okay?" The cub didn't answer, he kept his eyes on where Vachir had headed. "Don't worry, that jerk is gone, and even if he was still here I wouldn't let him hurt you." The cub looked at him finally. Po smiled, and offered him a hand.

Xiaodan's wide eyes scanned the Panda distrustfully. He looked familiar somehow... but his heart was moving too fast for him to think. He looked at the Panda's paw, he did just make that... man go away. Hesitantly, he went to take the Panda's hand.

Po lifted the cub to his feet. "There ya go! See, no danger." He looked around. "Say... I don't wanna pry, but what's a little kid like you doing in a place like this?" For a second he didn't think the cub would respond. Until he saw the little lion's ears flatten, and fear be taken over by wouldn't anger. Po wouldn't forget what happened next any time soon...

"No..." Xiaodan growled. He shook his head, "I'm not a little kid. YOUR JUST...!?" Po stared at the Lion cub as he seemed to search for the right word. The lion cub brightened. "FAT!" Po blinked, was it something he said? The cub trembled. His voice cracked. "FAT! FAT! FAT!" And with that the little cub ran away.

Po gawked. "What?" The Dragon Warrior processed what just happened. The kid was probably going home now, so... He sighed, and trudged back the way he came. He walked to the edge of the harbour and looked at his reflection in the water. He wasn't any bigger than the last time he'd looked, if anything he was wasn't as big... Po frowned, eying something tall floating in water. Was that a hat?


He sighed appreciatively, this was what he needed. The warmth and spice of tea invaded his senses as he sipped. It was welcoming. He was both soothed and sobered. He leaned back in his seat, and peered at Raja. Though it was obvious that Raja wasn't enjoying the tea at the same level as he, one could tell that the Snake relished in it too.

"I'm pleased," Raja said mildly. "Despite the losses, I feel that things have turned out well for us. Wouldn't you agree?" He asked.

Tai Lung smirked "For you, certainly. For me, well, I will only say that I've at least got what I came for. So I won't be leaving unsatisfied."

Raja gave a look concern. "You intend to leave soon." It was not in question.

The snow Leopard put down his cup and placed his hands on the Chair's rests. He wasn't sure if it was the tea, but he didn't feel wary of the subject he was about to share with his friend. "I do, and to be honest, I don't think I'll ever return... I will not just leave here, but China as well. It's why I came here, Raja. This visit is merely the pit-stop for my next destination... It is time for me to abandon past, and that includes leaving behind everywhere it has taken place."

Raja stared in awe, not fully comprehending this yet. "This... is why your here?"

Tai Lung shrugged. "Yes."

Raja seemed to sink in his seat "And I thought you only cared about was your revenge. So then... why the change of heart?"

Tai Lung chuckled. "Don't get the wrong idea; I am still the same selfish bastard I've always been. But some things have changed. I was ready, and eager to return and take what I always thought was mine, yet one day I opened my eyes, and saw myself. You know what I saw? I saw someone who had thrown away, wasted the Lion's share of his life... " Tai Lung seemed to struggle with himself briefly "-and all of it by choice. I must leave, while I still can." He stared intently at Raja, he hasn't spoken of this to anyone. "Do you see? I need to leave. I need to find some... peace. Even if I know I don't deserve it."

If Raja looked astonished before, then his expression now was one of total disbelief. "Where would you go?"

Tai Lung looked thoughtful. "First I will go west, to India, then further."

The Snow leopard had done a lot of profound thinking, that was obvious... and THIS had been the conclusion? Tai Lung may have said he was the still the same man, but the Tai Lung that had been set on taking the Dragon Scroll would never have given up on revenge. Clearly something had changed. He didn't know what to say, the man on front of him had never really opened up to this extent. He was a little worried to ask, but he asked anyway. "This doesn't have anything to do with you making off with Master Tigress... Does it?"

Tai Lung narrowed his eyes. "No, this was before her."

Raja shook himself, and took a long sip of his tea. "Finding peace for one's self is a worthy goal," he muttered. "Well, all I will say to you then... is that I can respect your reasons, and hope you find what you truly seek."

Tai Lung smiled.


Tigress watched the port from where she sat, hazardously, on the ship's rail. She looked at all those ignorant people; not a single one knew who she was, what she'd done in service to her people, or her predicament.

She contemplated jumping down and just getting lost in the city. No doubt Tai Lung would find her and bring her straight back here. Yes, she didn't want to think about how his reaction. She had seen his anger before, even had directed at her, but what made it worse was his fixation on her. The combination of those two things would most certainly be a lethal force. This was why, until she knew without a single doubt that she could escape, she would stay put.

Her conversation with Nisa had been... unusual. When she'd told the story, Nisa had... expressed her sadness. Not only through a somewhat awkward embrace, but she had been apologetic. At first she had no idea why, then Nisa explained that she was the one to blame since it was all her that the foreigners had come for. Which, of course, Tigress had told her was ridiculous. They may have come because of her, but it was not Nisa's fault. Besides, the only one to blame for her wounds was her. She simply hadn't paid attention.

She looked up at the sun, and sighed. She wondered if the Five―and even Po were having a rough time without her... She really hoped that Master Shifu hadn't burnt them to badly when they had returned to the valley. She was probably going to have to get things back in order when she returned. Her stomach dropped, when would she see them again? Escape. It may be some time before her chance came, perhaps years...

During her downhearted thoughts she almost missed the tapping of little paws move over the gangplank, and right by her. She spared a glance over her shoulder. She frowned. Without hesitation, she twisted round and jumped off the rail.

She didn't know what had happened, but she followed Xiaodan to where he looked to seclude himself. "Xiaodan?"

The cub in question stiffened, but didn't turn to look at her. "What?" He asked quietly.

Tigress tried to peer over and see Xiaodan's face. "Are you alright?"

He hunched his shoulders. "Mmhm." He replied even more quietly.

She put her hands on her knees, and knelt down slightly. "Xiaodan," She said softly.

Something... warm about the way she'd said his name made Xiaodan turn. He faced her.


I love suspense. I love making the moments. Review, and tell me what you think.