The Misadventures Of Lord Shen And Baby Po
Chapter 1 - Little Bao Yu
"My Prince, we have company." The soothsayer; she was at the door to the arena. Her lips were pursed, and her brow furrowed in growing annoyance at being ignored for so long. This had to be the third time at least that those same words had come from her mouth. And of course, the third time she was ignored by that impertinent little chick.
Little, not so. Although a substantially smaller size than the other peafowl, his quickly toning body was far from small and weak. Weak – a little perhaps: he did still have the relapses of colds and terrible bouts of fever and all that medical fun – but he was still far from 'little.' Something he could easily clarify to anyone by a few swift kicks, and perhaps a blade through the throat.
"My Prince," his nanny gritted out; she was quickly losing patience and preparing to grab and pluck a few of those albino feathers. "I said we have company."
"So let my parents take care of it!" Shen snapped rudely, still not even turning to the elderly goat. "Today, the blacksmith in the valley finally finishes my Dao- I want to be here to get it!"
"I assure you, this will not take that long," the soothsayer softly huffed.
The young lord scornfully wrinkled his beak and held his head higher. He had been waiting fervently for many days for the court's blacksmith to finally complete the making of his first sword. The rhino had warned him gently that the weapon wouldn't quite reach his expectations; he was not to get the sword of his dreams until his twentieth birthday – in less than a month. Still, to Shen, a sword was a sword. Surely whatever he'd get would be better than the worth of the nursery knives he'd been working with.
"Please, Shen," the old goat said quietly. Her tone was not that of politely requesting at all; it was reaching that angry 'nanny' pitch that suggested some sort of punishment could be in order.
"Can they not tend to their guests without me?" the bird griped, throwing various little knives like arrows towards the makeshift targets his master had set out for him.
"They insist you join them," she sighed. She didn't know why, hadn't seen the guests herself, but her Lord and Lady seemed in sheer excitement, so it had to be a big deal.
Shen did nothing but grunt, and he moved to throw another blade, but a quick gloved hoof stood in his way, blocking the throw and causing the knife to bounce off his impenetrable armor.
Thundering Rhino bent down and picked up the blade – well, actually he harshly tapped the handle to it and caused it to fly into his palm; that's a master for you: they preferred to put a dramatic little tidbit on anything – and he threw it back to the peacock, who caught it with lightning reflexes.
"My lord, you have done well," the rhino smiled, bowing. "Take a break, go for a walk."
Translation: listen to your Nana, chick.
Shen's feathers flattened as he got the message. He gave a curt bow and went to follow the old goat, but not before putting his own dramatic spin to casually replacing his blades – promptly throwing them into the fence walls, causing a few passing-by servants to shriek and hightail it out of there.
The soothsayer looked at her chick apathetically and rolled her eyes, leading him back into the palace.
The walk was tedious and seemingly endless, with Shen mixing between excitement of finally getting a sword, to his indignant rants of being pulled away from training for some stupid guests of his parents – probably some sort of merchant or the physician sporting good news of some new 'stronger' medicine he had for the young prince. (Stronger, horrible tasting, maybe.)
But what greeted the lord's eyes when he finally met up at the gates with his parents, he – well, he'd actually greatly prefer the physician.
"Aba-yiii," the butter ball babbled. No, he hadn't changed; of course it had only been a week, but still. He wasn't any less fat.
Aw, it's you! The soothsayer's stern glare was the only thing that kept Shen from stepping back in disgust or uttering that repulsed phrase out loud the moment he saw the cub. It seemed the baby didn't share his disgust, completely oblivious to it in fact, as he crawled up to the lord.
Biming laughed softly. She hadn't changed either: still wearing that stupid bun and that gross old robe. Again, it had only been a week, but Shen still hoped the family had grown just a little less peasant like and more bearable to look at with his royal eyes.
"It seems he still just loves you, my Lord."
"I'm eminently honored," Shen said with painfully obvious distaste, trying to ignore the fuzzy black and white ball that clung away to his legs.
The adults continued chatting, and Shen stood there in annoyance, wondering why on earth he was called away from his training for this – and trying to calmly tug his robe tassels from the cub's mouth, losing patience fast. He only caught the end of his father's sentence:
"-our son will be fine with him."
"I'll what," the lord said flatly. "I'll be fine with who?" The conversation went on as if he never spoke.
"-I wouldn't want to impose, my Lord. I'm not asking you-"
"-don't be ridiculous, we are offering; we owe you, you know: you have done a lot for our son, and we just love the little cub-"
Shen looked over at the infant with growing horror – the infant who was blissfully sticking flowers up his nose. Realization dawned on him, and his head snapped back to the older peafowl.
"-if you're really certain," Biming finished with a smile. "Thank you so much for this, my lord – I don't know how to repay you-"
Lord Jin smiled gently, motioning for the female panda to stand as she kowtowed.
"You have done enough for us, Lady Biming; without you our son may never have lived to see this day."
Live to see what day, the lord wondered. The day when he was involuntarily tied down to the ground by a babbling and drooling gross panda baby – he, Lord Shen! - Forced to submit to the cub and follow his own daily routine by the cub's regiments?
No way, not gonna happen.
"Father-!" Shen nearly wailed. His father silenced him with a stern glare, turning back to Biming and beaming once more. The female panda had pried her cub off Shen's foot and was now cuddling him with a 'good-bye, mommy loves you.'
"I never did get a chance to tell you his name," she said sheepishly. "Well- you ran out of the village too quickly-"
"Bandits," Jin explained, still annoyed by the spontaneous interruption by a servant elk that came to alert him of the city's disturbance. Of course if he wished to be so gaily, 'a king's gotta do what a king's gotta do.'
"The joys of being a king," Biming said wryly. Lord Jin nodded. "Well, my little angel here is named 'Bao Yu'."
'Precious Jade', Shen thought sourly as he looked into the infant cub's luminous green eyes with contempt. How apt.
Biming left, shooting sad hesitant glances back to her now crying cub as she went down the steps. The cub stopped crying briefly when his mother stopped several times to blow a few kisses, but was crying anew and harshly as her head and hair bun was soon out of sight. A passing servant sheep hurriedly scurried forward and scooped the cub, while Shen frantically followed his parents.
"Mother, father, are you MAD?" he shouted; they spun around and frowned at him. He bit down on his tongue and lowered his crown feathers. "..With all due respect."
Lady Ah-Lam's scowl fell and she came forward and smoothed her chick's feathers, which did nothing to calm his foul mood.
The young lord quickly ducked back from her motherly wings with a quiet glower.
"Mother, why must it fall to us to take care of the bra -ahhhh- delightful..cub? Doesn't that-" -he tried to find a word to describe her and not to spit it- "-nice woman have fat panda friends of her own to help?" he snapped. Okay, forget patience and politeness.
His father glared on his lapse of respect, and it took everything the younger peafowl had not to glare back.
"She has plenty of friends that could help, but we offered – BECAUSE," he continued in a louder tone when his son was about to speak. "We are in her debt: she has done a lot for us, and for you, especially."
"Where is she going, anyways," Shen grumbled. His tone really not indicating he remotely cared.
"To Ming Hoa for their annual festival; they gather flowers from all around the world and she goes once a year to gather some for medical use." He smiled. "I bet one of those flowers are what she used for some of your medicines when you were a chick."
Shen darkened once more.
"Now dear, relax," His mother smiled so calmly, as if having a baby panda cub dragging his tubby body around their kitchen was completely normal. "The servants are here to tend to little Bao Yu; I'll have someone with the child every hour of the clock. You won't really have to do anything."
The 'really' didn't seem good enough for Shen as his glare deepened, eyes trailing over the cub who was busy climbing into a bucket of creamed radishes. Thankfully, a servant grabbed him in time. This kid – no way. He was not spending even a moment with that child; those fifteen minutes in the brat's village was enough. He was never – he didn't even want to look at that cub, or anything with the color white in it for that matter!
He hated white, and everyone that knew him was aware. Nothing white was allowed in his presence; any gift he received with the color white was instantly cast aside, or thrown back to the giver. He owned no white clothes; no white bedding; no white walls – nothing. The only thing white that he was forced to look at every day and forced to be in his presence...was him.
He did like gray though; he glanced down at his gray robe. Despite its many traditional meanings, gray was gloomy to him. It suited him.
"I refuse to have anything to do with the cub," Shen said venomously. His eyes flashed, and the servants immediately either busied themselves and averted their eyes, or scurried off. Only his parents remained immune to the mutiny.
"Son," Lord Jin began, choosing his words carefully. "Lady Biming is an old family friend, and she has helped with your.." He really had to word this carefully. "..condition." Judging by the hateful flame in his son's eye, he didn't word it well enough.
"Some of her medicines may have saved your life – remember in those times when you were very sick?"
The hateful flame burned brighter. Why did his father have to remind him of that? Of course he didn't forget; he never forgot the moments he was sick in every waking minute of his life. The weakened lungs from the years of infections were a clear brutal reminder of it.
"I remember," he struggled not to spit out in rage. "What does that have to do with-"
"Don't you think you owe her a bit? I mean – we're not saying you have to spend all day with the child, or even an hour, but it'd be a fine way to repay your debt a bit. Besides, little Bao Yu seems to like you so much-"
Shen had enough. His eyes were full of poison; he didn't bother respectfully bowing or even saying a courteous good-bye to his parents as he whirled from the kitchen, nearly stumbling on the brat as he stormed down the halls.
The soothsayer caught up quickly. She was the only one that was well experienced with the lord's adult tantrums, and knew the precise moment when he'd get impatient; lose his patience; and finally crack and storm out of there. Oddly enough, his parents looked surprised by his random leaves every time it happened. One would think they'd start to expect this too.
"That went well," she tried softly, silenced by her chick's harsh glare. She sighed, trained her eyes on her cane and continued to walk with him; he was finally walking calmly, no longer storming. His fits often drained him quickly, only further heightening his Nana's worry for his health.
"'Went well'," Shen scoffed with a bitter sneer. "It went only as well as all recent conversations with my parents seem to go.."
"If you would just control your temper," she said carefully-
"-if they would just control their stupidity!" he shot back. "The honorable peafowl clan are not babysitters!" he hissed.
"Darling, you don't even have to worry about the child," his nanny smiled, trying to smooth his feathers. She was about the only one that he sometimes let get away with that.
"I have to worry about hearing the brat cry all night," Shen muttered, stepping up the age-worn porcalaine steps and into his and his Nana's quarters.
The soothsayer immediately went to prepare some of her chick's favorite tea. If anything could calm him, turn him into a state of bliss and make him more bearable to talk to, it was his sweet tea.
"Our chambers are far from where the baby will be residing," the old goat reassured, pouring various spoonfuls of saccharine into a boiling pot. "Besides," she decided to add with a smirk, "it's not like you were a peach when you were a baby, either." She punctuated her sentence with poking the lord in the belly.
"Oh, how dare you," Shen frowned, fluffing his wings in offence and straightening his robe where her hoof made a dent. "I'm sure I was perfectly well behaved as a child."
The soothsayer made no attempt to hold in her laughs, grabbing the table for leverage. Right when the fit seemed to have calmed down and Shen opened his beak once more to speak – the soothsayer loudly guffawed once more.
Shen felt his face grow hot with embarrassment, something he hated: with his albinoness, his blushes were deeper than any other peafowl or any other person in general. He hid his face, muttered a 'yeah, yeah – I get it', and dourly trudged from the room to see if the blacksmith had come by with his Dao yet.
He made it a point to ignore little Bao Yu as he strode dignified down the hall. From the corner of his eye, he saw the tiny cub look up at him and beam – and drool, and babble and wave to him. The peacock sneered and held his head higher, walking past the little butter ball, his tail feathers trailing behind.
"Bir'!" the cub exclaimed joyfully – to many it would sound like 'bird' – and he pounced on the feathers. The bird was halted immediately, not expecting this sudden move, he barely saw the ground rushing up to his face as he hit it. Dazed, he was afraid to look back.
Sweet little Bao Yu was gleefully perched on his back now, gnawing at the sash to his robe once more.
Shen just laid there, rolling his tongue inside his mouth in annoyance and closing his eyes as he felt the baby's saliva seep through his robe, chilling him.
It was not going to be a fun day.
(Little Bao Yu is obviously Po. The name means "precious jade", while Biming means "clarity of jade". You'd have to read my fic "Red and Green" to understand most of this.
It's really just a small side fic since "Redeeming Light" is sadly nearly done, and I wanted to do some more with younger Lord Shen and baby Po.
Bear in mind, this fic isn't all about cuteness.
(And I thought the fact that Shen hates the color white would seem in his character. )
Dao - a traditional Chinese sword; it looks like a butter knife (which may be a running joke in this little fic) Ming Hoa - 'shining, beautiful' (I think)
Ming Hoa - 'shining, beautiful' (I think)