AN: Alright, it's Saturday that means … it's time to write. This time it will be LingFan because this pairing is great. I love it. They are very, very cute.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Title: Moving on
Timeline: post-canon but before they are back in Xing
Pairing: LingFan, mentions of other pairings
The sun was gone since hours and the desert became cold and colder. Lan Fan didn't care about it. She sat on a rock and stared at the full moon. She hadn't eaten since her short check-up in the hospital, but she wasn't hungry at all. She felt nothing and she was fine with it. She preferred numbness over pain. She sat in silence and breathed slowly. She knew that she had to be more alert but she couldn't bring herself to fight for more interest in the scene. She had checked the whole area twice and she hadn't felt any life within a radius of many miles. She couldn't even feel an animal or something like that.
In these calm hours she felt more alone than ever before. She felt like she was the last human being in the world … and she hated it. She hated to feel lonely. During their first journey across the desert her grandfather had been still alive and he had kept her company during the night while the prince had been sleeping. Now she was truly alone. Her grandfather, her last remaining relative was gone … Gone like her parents … gone like her cousins, aunts and uncles … and – most importantly – he wasn't gone the way her sister was gone. He was gone forever; she had left in order to find her own happiness. Lan Fan doubted that the elder had found it by now.
Lan Fan closed her eyes and checked the area again but still no one was there. She would like to fight a little bit. She needed to feel something again … something besides emptiness.
"Lan Fan," Ling sat up and looked in her direction but he avoided her eyes like he did ever since Fu's death. "Try to sleep. Mei's crazy panda can watch over us."
"Young master…" Lan Fan gulped. "As soon as we are back in Xing I would like to retire. I can't be your guard if you don't trust me anymore."
"You mean that you can't be my guard anymore because your grandfather got killed when he was under my orders," Ling said. "I have been expecting something like that ever since our departure and I can understand it. You should leave as long as you have still a life. I see … so … everything is over now, isn't it?"
"Young Lord, you let it sound like my departure is a … shame," Lan Fan said.
"It is a shame," he replied, "but I can understand your decision."
"Soon enough you will have a guardian with much more skill than I could ever have," she said calmly. "It will be someone you can trust without a doubt."
"I trusted you without any doubts, Lan Fan," Ling murmured, "and I will honour everything you and your grandfather did for me … along with the things both of you sacrificed along the years. You gave your arm and he gave his life … I see … yes, I really see why you are moving away from me. It was a great time but now you can't stay any longer … you have to think of your family…"
"Young Lord, my main concern is that you need a better guard than me," she said. "I would love to serve you longer but I know that it's time for me to make my place vacant because you need to get a better bodyguard, Young Master. You don't need a girl who lost her arm and had to leave your side when the situation became dangerous. You need someone stronger than me … someone with hope … not someone who doubts herself and feels empty…"
Ling stood up and sat down behind her. "That's your problem?" he asked. "You think that you failed me, Lan Fan? That you weren't strong enough to protect me? Don't be ridiculous. You are a great fighter … and I never doubted you. You shouldn't doubt yourself either. You were strong enough to cut off your own arm. I know no other bodyguard with such devotion, Lan Fan. If you want to leave, I will make sure that you will have a comfortable life and good doctors for your arm afterwards, but if you want to stay, we can continue our way towards the throne. Fu was my best man along so many years … so I feel responsible for you, Lan Fan, and since his death was basically my fault…"
"He would never blame you, Young Master," Lan Fan whispered. "He was always proud to serve the next emperor of Xing."
"It's still my fault that your grandmother is a widow now," Ling said. "I don't know her well but she will most likely hate me. I would hate me too if I got the one I loved killed…"
"Grandmother would never blame you, Young Master," she replied. "She will hate me and tell me to leave in order to get my honour back. But it doesn't matter anymore."
He was silent for a little while. "How's your arm?" he asked quietly. "Does it hurt?"
She shook her head. "No," she said. "I have trouble with feeling anything right now. I don't feel anything … just loneliness."
"But I am right here," he pouted. "It's not nice for a pretty girl to tell a handsome guy that he is so boring that she feels lonely while he is right beside her, Lan Fan. Sometimes you should think about your attitude towards men. You are breaking hearts every day."
"I didn't know…" she muttered. "And I also don't think that I am that bad, Young Master."
"In Xing they say that you are nearly as bad as my half-sister Meimei…" he sighed. "Hmh … you should marry someone … when they wouldn't ask you out that often…"
She raised her automail-arm. "With this arm I will hardly find a decent husband," she said and shrugged. "Men don't like women with limbs made of metal, Young Master. So marriage is out of question right now. I thought about training the younger members of our clan one day…"
"I know at least one man who is maybe a little bit attracted to limbs made of metal," Ling said.
"Master Garfiel is gay, Young Master," Lan Fan sighed, "and he's much too old for my liking."
"I wasn't talking about Master Garfiel," he grinned and gently touched her automail. "I like it."
"You shouldn't make jokes about my constitution, Young Lord," she said and blushed faintly.
"Why are you always assuming that I am joking, Lan Fan?" he asked while he lay his chin on her shoulder and tilted his head until he looked at her face. "I really like your automail. It looks great. I will admit that I hated it first because it shows me everyday that I failed you, but it's a part of you and I could never hate anything what happens to be a part of you."
"You don't need to feel guilty about it," she said darkly. "I was the one who underestimated Bradley and thought that everything would be easy. My arm was the price I had to pay for my lack of common sense. If I hadn't thought that such an old man wouldn't be a risk for me, I had still my arm and your mission wouldn't have failed this way."
"A good leader never enters a battle without knowing the enemy," Ling quoted his old teacher who died three years ago. "The Bradley-incident wasn't your fault, Lan Fan. I should have warned you." His fingers danced across the shiny metal. "And I learnt to move on even after it. When Dr. Know was treating you, I felt like dying. You know that I don't believe in a god … but I came close to praying. And I accepted Greed in my body because … if I hadn't do it, everything would have been in vain … and I couldn't let that happen."
"I made the decision to cut off my arm because he was destroyed beyond repair," she said. "I have to be sorry, Young Master, sorry for worrying you."
"You know, Lan Fan, I guess I can't let you leave," he said and hugged her. "I will need you. In my new position I will have more enemies than ever before. You will be at my side nonstop."
"I could imagine that your wives will have a problem with that," she said and looked away.
"Well … I will have to change the law," he sighed. "I can't bear to lose you … hmh … what could I do keep you close even after my coronation?"
Mei who wasn't asleep anymore raised her head and glared at him. "Marry her, you idiot!" she hissed before she turned around once more and fell asleep again.
"She may be dumb … but this idea of hers is great," Ling grinned. "Marry me, Lan Fan. I can't live without you at my side … and you have no other place to go."
"I would love to," Lan Fan whispered, "but I can't move on. It's still darkness in my soul because it's night."
In the East, the sun rose and Ling smiled at Lan Fan. "No night is dark enough," he said. "Sooner or later the sun … or I … always come back and a new day begins. And a new day is a new chance to make a fresh start."
She nodded. "Let's move on."