It was peaceful Afternoon in the Valley of Peace, almost 3 months after the defeat of the terrible Lord Shen and the return of the saviors of china and protectors of this small valley to their peaceful home high atop the hill that overlooked the valley. all was calm as the residents went about their business as usual, some trading, some cooking, some weaving, and some simply talked with old friends about the days they had shared or sitting with loved ones, remembering the love they had shared. it was truly one of the most peaceful days this valley had experienced in a very long time. until a loud, ferocious roar seemed to split this peace in half like a fine blade, filling the citizens with dread, as looked up at the temple atop the hill, wondering what sort of evil creature had caused such a evil sound.
the Training halls were once again filled with the sounds of hard training and fierce grunts of pain as the young warriors trained, picking their own spots to enhance their skills. Mantis was at the Gauntlet working his speed, weaving in and out of the swinging obstacle, blocking whenever one came too close to him. Monkey was off to the side, spinning his staff high above his head before bringing it down in a powerful strike atop the head of an imaginary enemy. Viper was darting across the floor of the fire spewing tiles, as she quickly darted from one spot to another, missing each fire blast as it happened. Crane was once again resting on the jade tortoise, using his keen balance and agility to deflect the incoming projectiles with long elegant strokes of his powerful wings. but each, one by one, was soon taken away from their respected training spots, as the grunts and battle cries of the dragon warrior and master tigress, swayed them from their training. except something was different about this match between the two fighters.
it was no surprise that Po had once again challenged tigress to a sparring match, in fact he did it every day he could. every day he would ask tigress to spar with Him to see how he had improved and every day he did, it would always end with tigress standing over the beaten and bruised panda, a victorious smile drawing across her face. but today was different from the others, now as the other watched the two spar they noticed that instead of the usual five minute brawls that normally occurred, this time Po was actually holding his ground against the tiger's attacks. even going as far as to push her back as he countered. it was starting to look like Po might actually have a chance for once. The blows were flying back and forth between the two warriors as they punched, kicked, dodged, and weaved around each other, trying to find some weakness to exploit for the win, neither holding back in the slightest. yet none could be found as the two danced around each other, a flurry of movement and raw power.
"wow, Po is really doing good today. i think he has a chance to beat tigress for once." monkey said with an amazed look.
"oh come on! sure Po is doing good, but tigress will win again just like she always does." mantis said back to the other master
"i don't know mantis, i think Po might really have a shot today. i mean look tigress can't lay a paw on him and every time he counters, she keeps getting pushed back just a bit farther each time." viper retorted to the small insects remarks
"yeah but neither can he, and all it will take is one little slip up and BAM, Po is down for the count." mantis said
"oh really, well then how about we make this more interesting then. i will bet you 20 of my cookies that Po beats tigress today." monkey said looking at mantis with a smug look.
"oh you are so on! those cookies are going to taste so good when i win this bet." mantis cheered as he shook hands with monkey, sealing the deal between the two. after this no more talking was done as they watched with renewed vigor as Po and tigress continued their match, neither seeming to tire as they fought. it seemed like no one would ever win, until they witnessed a thing of pure awe. tigress had made a vital mistake as she went to block on of Po's fake kicks, leaving her entire midsection open to attack. Po picked this out immediately and quickly brought back his arm for the final blow.
tigress knew that she had made vital mistake in her form, causing the now almost slow motion pass of time as tigress looked Po in his eyes, taking in the beautiful jade that seemed to bring peace to her very soul whenever she gazed into their depths. and as Po stared back, he saw the recognition of defeat wash over her face, then just as suddenly, she was smiling at him, of all people tigress was smiling at him, as if they had just shared some silent joke. and as he stared into her eyes, the beautiful eyes that haunted his mind day and night, always seeming to distract him from his other duties, he made the fatal mistake of a lifetime. it had only taken a split second but as the panda gazed into the feline's eyes, all focus towards the match was gone, and with it his victory. she quickly retorted with a strong kick to the stomach, sending the panda flying the opposite direction slamming him into one of the many stone pillars that supported the training hall. although the panda's trip was not over there, during his short flight, he turned allowing his gut to bounce him back off the pillar. it was a small miracle for the panda, he had expected to slam into the pillar, breaking it and having an entire ceiling fall on top of him, but now he flew peacefully through the air, only to return to a brutal kick, placed with deadly precision into the underside of his gut,sending him high up into the sky, floating in the air for the briefest moment, only to come crashing down to the ground a moment later with a deep thud and a pained noise following from the now thick grater he had made.
"Ha! what did i tell you, tigress wins once again and i go home with twenty delicious cookies. now pay up sucker." mantis said, holding out his pinchers waiting for the cookies
"ok, ok you won, but you know as well as i do that Po had that match in the bag before he slipped up. I'll go get the c..., hey wait a minute, where's tigress." monkey said scanning the room. they looked all over but couldn't find her anywhere.
"i don't know, she was right there a second ago. could she have left already?" viper asked, scanning the room with her sharp eyes before landing on crane.
"no i don't think so, that's not really seem her style. she usually likes to revel in victory before leaving." crane said with a smirk. they continued their look for the missing tiger, until they once again heard the anguished moans of the defeated panda.
"well we can find tigress later, first i think Po might need a doctor after that beating he took." crane said to the others. they quickly hurried over to their fallen friend hoping that tigress had not accidently broken anything of importance in the poor panda's body. as they drew closer to their fallen friend they began to notice that the noises from Po sounded different from his usual ones. these sounded higher pitched and,for some strange reason, seemed to be yelling at whatever it was that bothering him.
"looks like Po is mad about losing again. what is this, the hundredth win for tigress and the hundredth loss for Po in a row." mantis said with a chuckle before being struck in his head by viper's long tail. she looked at the bug, wearing a venomous glare, telling him to be silent.
"shut up Mantis, you know as well as i do that you have never beaten or even come as close as Po did to beating tigress either. in fact, i recall that the last time you volunteered to spar with her, you lasted an entire three seconds before she had you on the ground begging for mercy." viper said laughing with the others as the memory of the swift and horrible defeat the insect had suffered at the hands of the tiger came to their minds.
As they continued towards Po's resting spot in the floor, they began to notice a slight jarring motion in his form, seeming as if he was actually trying to pull himself back up, yet failing miserably. The noises they had heard from him had also changed. no longer were they muffled and faint, they were now obviously shouts of anger and desperate calls for help from his friends, succeeding in confusing the others even further. sure they understood him asking for help to get back up, but why was Po angry about it? mantis had been right about all the lost sparring matches, but then again, Po was not the type of person to become angry about something as insignificant as a sparring fact Po had no right to be angry about losing seeing as how he was the one who asked her to spar with him yet again, knowing that he would most likely lose again. so why did he sound so furious?
"Hey Po, try not to move move around anymore ok? we are going to get you back to your room and fix you up, so just lie still and let us take care of it." crane said right next to his ear, making sure Po had heard him before trying to move the large panda.
"ok, everyone on the count of three lift. one... two... three!" monkey yelled as the four students began to lift the heavy panda from his crater in the floor. At first they seemed to make no progress as Po continued to lie in his ditch in the floor, but slowly they saw Po begin to lift out of the hole, looking as if he was trying yet again to push himself up, even against crane's instructions.
"Po, what did i tell you? you shouldn't try to move until we know how bad your injuries are. so just lie there and let us get you back to your room" crane told Po once again, hoping Po understood what he was telling him. it seemed he did as his figure stopped rising on it's own and was once again only supported by the four students' combined efforts.
"ok lets try this again. on three, one... two... thr..." monkey had nearly finished his chant to begin there lift once again, when suddenly, as if shot by another of Shen's cannon balls, Po shoot out of the crater high into the air, landing a good fifteen feet away from his last crater, making another sick thud as he landed back onto the hard unforgiving floor. By this point, the others had become baffled at the idea of the panda just defying gravity as he flew through the sky. they could only continue to stare at the new crater that Po had created in the training hall's floor, as they tried to solve the impossible equation of a full grown panda being launched into the air by seemingly nothing. They stood there for the longest time, unmoving, until crane noticed just at the edge of his vision, a dark figure begin to rise from the crater the panda had previously been lodged into. figure stood hunched as it began to unwind its shoulders and flex its claws, looking at Po as if it had just found its next meal and was getting ready for the kill.
ahh, uhhh, guu...guu, uhhh." crane could only manage incoherent blabber as he tried to accurately describe the pure terror at what he saw before him. there stood in an almost tangible show of fury, was a angry and slightly flatter tigress, glaring Po down, almost looking as if she was seeing if her new found anger could actually make him spontaneously combust. the others soon began to turn, seeing just what it was that had crane, the most calm and collected of the group, to mutter and gasp in such an indignant manner.
"crane what wrong with you? you look like you've just seen a ghost." viper said turning with the others, only to be stunned into the same state as he was as they too saw the sight in front of them. they could only watch as the female tiger stalked towards the downed panda, unsheathing her claws bit more the closer she got to him. Po was a dead man.
"Po, wake up!" tigress growled at the unconscious creature, quickly kicking in his side hoping to relieve some of the blind fury that she felt towards Po at the moment. it didn't work in even the slightest.
"huh, oh man what happened? All i remember is tigress kicking me, and suddenly i was flying in this really awesome dream. i felt like i was weightless for a second, before i landed on something really soft. it also had the sweetest smell i have ever smelt, lilies and peaches. but before i could figure out what it was i was suddenly flying again and then i wake up here. weird huh? oh hey tigress, what's going on?" Po asked her, unaware of the fact that his short life of kung fu as the dragon warrior was about to come to a gruesome and painful end before his very eyes.
"oh not much, i just wanted to check on you after that kick. and while were talking about smells, i thought i might ask what you though of my new perfume. i just got it yesterday and wanted to know what you thought of it. here take a deep smell, i think you may recognize it." tigress told Po, putting on the kindest face she could muster, scaring the other five more then her anger filled glare ever could.
"umm, sure tigress, if you really want me to." Po said blushing a deep red at the though of his favorite member of the five and his secret crush actually asking him to smell her without getting beaten to death. Po leaned in towards her neck, pulling himself as close as he could before taking a deep breath of her heavenly scent, trying to distinguish between the mixed scents of the perfume.
"so Po what do you think, it smells nice huh. i just wish i could remember what they said was in it. i just can't remember for the life of me. what do you think it is?" tigress asked once again, pulling back her mouth to show each of her sharp menacing fangs to him, silently daring at him to say it and to feel real "thunda" hit.
"well, it is a little hard to tell, there is some of you sweats smell in the way." Po started eyes shut as his sensitive nose began to distinguish between the scents, "But if i had to guess, i would say it was a mixture of fresh lilies and ripe pea..ches " he said suddenly jerking open his eyes to see the same toothy grin that she wore before. only this time he could tell that that look meant anything but happy.
"well that can't be right. you said you landed on something that smelled like that right? so that would mean that you would have had to land on me, but that's just crazy, RIGHT PO?" tigress said the last part through gritted teeth, finally showing the real anger that was bubbling inside of her.
"oh man, tigress i am so sorry, i had no idea that i landed on you. it was an accident ok. i couldn't control where i was landing, and it was a complete accident." Po tried reasoning with the feline, but all he got was an even angrier look in return.
"ok, ok, i get it, it was an accident after all. but Po, let me asked you this; do you know how much you weigh? now lets take whatever number that may be and add all the added pressure from you falling from that high up gut first and tell me how much pain you think i might be in right now. or how i fell stiffness and aches in every muscle that crushed, which was all of them!"
"i know, and i am really sorry, but..."
"no buts Po! i mean do you even think about what your doing sometimes. you could have easily one that match when you had the chance, but once again you hesitated and look what happened i swear, sometimes i just can't understand why master Oogway, or the universe for that matter, would picked such a fat, lazy, waste of space idiot like you to be the dragon warrior! i mean just look at you! you are just a joke to the very ideals that kung fu stands for, and our enemies can certainly see it. they mention it every time they see you for the first time. "but your just a fat panda." tigress said in a mocking voice. "and you know what? i can't blame them for thinking it, because every time you do something stupid or mess up a simple plan, i think the same exact thing!" tigress was in such a blind fury, that the words had flow out of her mouth before she could real them back in, standing out in the open like a blemish on the world. she then noticed out of the corner of her eye that the other masters were all staring at her in horror.
"what! what are you all staring at! you want to say something, then just say it!" tigress shouted at her fellow masters, seeing how they looked at her like she had just murdered the entire valley and then come back to eat monkeys cookies while she was at it.
"tigress... what is wrong with you? how could you say something so cruel?" viper asked looking towards her just like the others, like she was a monster
"what are you talking about, i didn't say anth..." tigress stopped as she turned to finally meet O'S' gaze once again. but as she started into his once bright, happy jade green eyes, she only saw darkness and sadness, like his very soul have been crushed then lit to burn to ash. "oh my god! what have i done? Po, i am so sorry, i didn't mean it i was just angry and..." tigress began but never finished as Po held his finger up, signaling for her to be silent as he stood up, head hung in defeat and sadness, as he tried to speak. yet he couldn't bring himself to find words to describe the pure grief and sadness that he felt at the moment, instead making small choked noises, sounding as if it was all he could do just to fight back the hot tears that threatened to burst like a dam. but none came, they just stood, facing each other, neither trying to speak, felling as if the world would begin to crumble around them if they tried to utter even a single word. then, Po turned as silent as the night and walked away from the training hall, leaving the others in shock.
"Po, wait!" tigress cried as she tried to chase after him, only to be stopped none too gently by viper's whip like tail in her stomach. viper was the last person she had expected to ever stare at her with such scorn and disdain, yet there it was as clear as day as she began to speak.
"no tigress, let him go." she said with a harsh hiss at the mention of her name. "i think he is going to need some time to think by himself after that little speech you just gave."
"But i have to talk to him. he needs to know that I'm sorry and that i didn't mean what i said. i can't have our friendship die this way, i just can't lose him. he is the only person i have left." tigress said to her friend, looking as if she too was on the verge of letting her own dam break and let the tears begin their decent down her face.
"I'm sorry tigress," once again making the hissing sound at her name," but i think you have said quite enough for one day." with that she turned her head from tigress and made for the door as fast as she could, never once looking back at her. the others quickly followed suite, only looking back to give her a distasteful look as they went, showing that it wasn't just Po's friendship that she had lost today. and as she heard the mighty doors of the training hall close, she realized once again that she was alone, but this time she had no one to blame but herself. she thought about getting up, about throwing open the doors and running to Po's room. hugging him and telling him that she was sorry and that she felt horrible about what she had done. but every time the thought came, it was quickly crushed by the memory of the dead look in Po's eyes as he returned he stare. she had broken his heart, and destroyed that precious smile of his that always seemed to calm her, even in her darkest moments. and now it was gone. she would never see that smile again, never feel the way she did when she was with him and he flashed that big silly grin of his, almost saying that everything will be ok as long as you are with me.
"dear god, what have i done?"
Po was devastated to put it in simple terms. he had had a crush on tigress ever since he had first seen her performing her kung fu skills to the other villagers all those years ago. he remembered that she had just been named a master of tiger style, the youngest to ever do so, and was performing for the villagers to show her skills. it was the greatest day of his life, the day that he had found his two greatest loves: kung fu, and the young girl performing it as graceful as a dancer, and as strong as a ox. And now, his heart was shattered, leaving an empty feeling as he recalled how she had said such cruel words, without so much as a pause for breath, letting the words flow from to the other. he knew it shouldn't have bothered him, after all she had said it countless times before, but this time was different from the others. this time, he was no longer some stranger who stole her lives work away from her, and only seemed to treat it as some kind of joke. No, this time they were close, this time they were friends, this time there was no misplaced fury in her words. he knew that right now she probably felt awful about what she had said, he was sure of it, but her apologizes couldn't do anything to mend his heart. he could feel it as it tried to heal by her apologizes, yet only made the hole bigger as a single thought always rushed in before his heart could completely heal,
"And that is how she really feels about me. That is how she will ever truly see me, not as the dragon warrior, not as the savior of china, not as a friend, let alone a lover, but only as the big, fat lazy panda that had taken her dreams right out from under her." he finished with a heavy sigh, both physically and emotionally drained after the physical and mental beatings he had taken today, leaning against the wall in his room for support, struggling to keep himself from just letting blissful sleep take him away to a better place. but he knew even there he would find no peace, for even on peaceful days his mind was still plagued by tigress, invading his thoughts and haunting his very dreams. so he just stood there, back to the wall, trying clear out his head of all the rampant emotions running amuck inside his brain. And he stood there, waiting, waiting for something to take his mind off this awful day, to give him a reason to smile again, but none came. everywhere he looked he was reminded of tigress: the door was where he saw her first thing the morning everyday, the floor where they had talked endlessly with each other; sharing their secrets and their hearts with each other, the dresser where he had kept his most prized possession, hoping to one day show it to her, that one day she would see it as he bent down on one knee, slowly opening the box as he asked question that would change both their lives, that would bind them together for all eternity. he quickly shook his head as he felt the hot tears begin their descent down his face once again, stopping himself from continuing his stupid fantasy any longer, after all, it only brought him more misery then joy at this point.
he knew what he had to do, where he had to go. he couldn't stay any longer, it was too painful, too many memories to remind him of what could have been with the only woman he had ever loved. he began the almost tortuous packing of his room, beginning with the few clothes he had at the temple. suddenly he noticed a forlorn pair of trousers buried deep down in his drawers, shot full of holes and scorch marks that snaked up and down the legs. Po was suddenly confused, he would never keep a pair of pants these bad if there wasn't some kind of reason. suddenly the memory hit him like a ton of bricks, these were the pants he had worn against Shen. these pants had seen him through the entire journey, from his fight at the musicians village, all the way to the final battle when Shen had finally been defeated by his own selfishness. the marks, he remembered had been made when he had taken the direct shot of Shen's cannon, nearly killing him if not for the shield he had picked up the second before. it had saved him from the brunt of the attack but the lower half was unprotected, leaving it to burn and rip as it was. it was the day that he had made his true mark upon the world of kung fu.
"it was the day that i fell in love with her all over again." Po said to no one in particular. and it was true, he had realized that day that the feelings he felt for tigress where not the result of a obsession with the five for years, but from the bottom of his heart, a reason to live another day, a true love that had nestled its way into his heart and had only grown from there, all starting with the two simple little hugs, sparking a fire in him that could never be extinguished, not even after... Once again his dreams were cut short as the tears of despair again fell from his eyes, waking himself from his deluded fantasies once again.
Po cursed under his breath, "Damn it, this has to stop. i can't leave if just the thought of her brings me running back here." and he was right. he had only thought of her twice now, and yet his once set goal know seemed like an impossible feat to accomplish. he felt the great urge to just unpack his bag, and mark off the entire idea as a moment of weakness on his part. but he knew there was no longer any turning back for him, his mind was set and his bag was ready to leave. that was when he noticed the single black box that had been the cause of his grief. the box held a single ring with a small gemstone made of sparkling diamond. he had found it in the small burnt village he had once been born in. the soothsayer had given it to him along with the small panda toy, telling him that it had been his mother's wedding ring, lost as she fled with him away from the murderous wolfs sent by lord Shen. it had fallen from her finger as she grabbed a young Po, fleeing her life and home.
And then he had gotten the stupid idea to give the thing to tigress of all people, asking her to marry him, and all it had done had gotten him a broken heart and left without a place to call a home anymore. that ring had seen so much trouble, and it only seemed to give more in return. he couldn't take it with him, it would only torment him with visions of maybes and what-ifs of the life he may of had. three quick notes were written: one for Shifu and the other; one for his father letting him know what had become of him; and finally one was left for tigress, placed upon the black box seeming to weigh thousands of pounds as it rested so delicately on the ring. and with that he shouldered his bag one final time, opening his door silently as the night that seemed to surround his broken heart, and with a final glance at her door, he ran from the life he had grown to love, from everything he had ever wanted.
Morning seemed to come too quickly as tigress groggily awoke from her slumber to a now black and storming sky that seemed to mimic her mood. Her body screaming to allowed just a few extra hours of sleep, just this once. and for a short while she though of granting this plea, to just lay in her room all day, moping in self pity at her own stupidness, hiding from the one person she did not want to see at the training hall any time soon. but just as quickly as the idea had sprouted, it was crushed with a shake of her head and a jump from underneath the covers of her bed mat. she quickly began her morning stretches, loosing all her muscles in preparation of the workout that would begin in a few moments at the sound of the gong.
" speak of the devil, thought tigress as she threw open her door and greeted her master with lightning fast reflexives, the result of years of training under master Shifu's infamous wake up calls along with the other master sharing the dorms with her. as she stared at the others, a deadly urge to look towards the panda's room, looking for maybe just a hint of forgiveness in his eyes, or at least a sign of recognition in those wonderful emerald eyes of his. yet as she finally worked up the nerve to glance towards his door, where the panda stood she found that there was actually no forgiveness in his eyes, not even a hint of recognition, in fact there was no Po to begin with. his door remained shut and the panda hidden from the others gaze.
"oh for goodness sake, WAKE UP PO!" Shifu screamed down the long hallway in hopes of waking the idiot from his sleep. still no sound was made from the closed doors of Po's room. finally with a heavy sigh, shifu walked towards the room, mumbling to himself about how he swore that one day Po was going to wake up with his foot shoved down his throat.
"GET UP NOW!" shifu screamed as he threw open the sliding door, hoping to have finally woken the panda from the apparently bottomless sleep that he managed to slip into whenever he slept. yet as the others stared into the now open door of Po's room, all they found was a made bedroll, a now empty cabinet where his clothes were supposed to be kept, and finally three slips of paper, each folded on a table that had been placed in each of the rooms. the others were confused, where was Po, and what were those notes for, it couldn't mean what they thought right? after all if there was one person they would never expect to quit, it was the fabled dragon warrior.
"what's going on master? has Po..." viper asked hesitantly poking her head around the corner to see what it was that had all the others so fascinated with Po's room.
"only one way to know." shifu carefully picked up the first note, scanning the cover, surprised that it was actually signed to him. this only worsened his now full blown feeling of dread that had closed over his old heart like a shroud. he scanned the note, forcing himself to read it twice to be sure that his mind was not simply going senile in his old age. and as the others saw there master face seem to age right before there very eyes as his eyes roamed back and forth across the paper, you might just have believed it.
viper was once again the first to speak as she questioned there master, asking what the others were wondering themselves."master, what does the note say?"
"it... it says Po has decided to leave the valley of peace, forever" shifu's word seemed to drop a bomb upon the five as they let the words rattle around in there heads, trying to make sense of the nearly foreign words that had passed there master's lip.
"what! you can't be serious, i mean Po would be the last person to ever quit kung fu. Really, how many times has he told us that it has been his biggest dream for his WHOLE life. heck, i bet those other two notes are telling us it was some stupid prank of his and he's waiting in the kitchen laughing his head off at our expense." mantis quickly replied to shifu, trying to explain the horrendous note, but the others knew it was only a desperate grab for sanity among all the chaos brewing among themselves.
"no I'm afraid the other notes won't be much better." Shifu quickly showed the next note towards the others, allowing the name of "Dad" to be shown, scribbled on the front. and that was it for them. and just like that, with a single word, there was no longer any question what the next note would say, and the next after it, whoever it was written towards. Po had left, no jokes, no pranks, just gone and with it a feeling of emptiness settled over the huddled group.
"he's really gone, isn't he master?" viper asked, tears starting to bloom at the edges of her eyes.
"yes viper, I'm afraid he has. I'm afraid he has."
"but what about the last note? i mean, he already sent one to us, one for his dad. who else would he write to?" monkey asked, looking towards the others as if they had any more answers then he did.
the others were silent, none wanting to venture any closer towards the cursed paper, as if it alone could destroy what ever kind of peace they had left in them. finally it was tigress of all people who spoke first "only one way to find out." she walked past the other five, taking slow deliberate steps, putting on the air of confidence and courage that she had perfected over years of hiding her emotions from other seeing them only as a weakness to overcome. yet with each step closer towards the small, delicate paper, all she felt at the moment was a rush of swirling emotions, all fighting to take control over her now fragile heart. fear, anger, sadness, regret, despair, curiosity, all trying to push past the brick wall around her heart, and one was very close to breaking through at the moment. it was a horrible feeling, twisting in the pits of her stomach, making her knees ready to buckle as her hand finally touched the smooth paper, feeling each crease and mark as if it were made of braille, and the bumps were giving her a loud message that seemed to ring into her very soul as she finally brought the paper up to her eyes, reading the carefully written script, her heart nearly stopping as the words tumbled around inside her head.
"What does it say tigress?" Shifu asked his adopted daughter, truly heart broken by the look of pure anguish that now shown through as clear as a beacon on her face. and with nearly mechanical movements, she looked towards her father, making a choked sound, as if the words were strangling her as they made there rise from her trembling lips. Till finally, in an almost inaudible whisper, she muttered out three simple words
"it's for me." it was the hardest thing she had ever said. the words seemed to burn as they left her mouth, lea=ving a burnt, metallic flavor on her tongue, nearly causing her to retch up what little she had left in her stomach from the previous day. she could only find one reason for Po to leave her a message in particular. he wrote it to shame her. she could almost feel the accusing words on the paper, mocking her, telling all of her flaws for the word to read at their leisure, calling her heartless, cruel... a monster, all of it leading up to a single sentence, seeming insignificant against the entire note, but wielding enough power that she knew it would end up killing her from despair. he would go on to say how she herself had driven him away.
she could perfectly see the others reactions as the words would escape her lips, making disgusted faces as they gazed upon their once thought friend. they would look at her as she really was and always had been, a monster. something that did not deserve something like happiness and love, destined to be shunned and alone. they would all just stare, mouths hanging open until one finally reacted, bringing the others into a frenzy, forcing her to flee from her home, adding another runaway warrior to the already growing list. and she found that this simple piece of paper had suddenly taken on the weight of the entire world as she held it with both paws, forcing herself to move her hands, to open the paper, to read with her own eyes his words of truth. but she couldn't, no matter how much she screamed or pleaded or cried to her muscles to move that few inches apart, they stayed perfectly still, refusing to listen to her fevered commands. why wouldn't her body listen, she wanted to read the letter, yet then why were her hands shaking, why did her blood run cold at the sight of the small paper. then it hit her, she was afraid. she was afraid of what the letter might really say, what the others would think of her because of it, and it stopped her dead in her tracks.
viper, being as perceptive as ever, quickly noticed her friends silent struggle and quickly intervened, noticing a small overlooked black box that had been placed underneath the letter.
"hey guys, what's that? that little black box over on the table, it was under tigress' note. do you think it could be for her." at that moment tigress didn't think she could ever love the snake any more then she did right then. while the others had become distracted by the small black box on the table, tigress quickly slipped the note into her breast pocket, hiding her shame and fear from the others for another time.
"well only one way to find out." mantis said repeating tigress' words, dashing towards the Pandora's box, only to be stopped by crane's strong wing and a look of disappointment.
"it was under tigress' letter. that means it is her right to open it, and only hers." crane said with an air of authority daring mantis to challenge him. but he stayed silent, only turning towards tigress waiting for her next move along with the others. but this time there was no fear as tigress grasped the small box, carefully wrapping one paw on bot the top and bottom, in fact she felt just as curious as the others were about the mystery inside the small box. she had never given him anything small like this, so it couldn't be something returned out of grief. it wasn't her birthday or any other celebration that would call for such gifts, so what was the cause of this gift. so with great anxiety, she gently worked her paws apart, allowing the metal hinges to rotate around each other, finally resting open with an audible snap, though at the moment tigress could have sworn it was her heart they had heard breaking.
"oh... oh my god!" tigress had no words to describe the way she felt at the moment. it was once again the whirls of emotion that seemed to be her new closet companion as the day progressed, tearing her heart asunder. once again she could feel the dominant feeling of despair breaking through the stone wall, she had painstakingly put years into building, as if were nothing more then tissue. but now there was an entirely new feeling tearing down her defenses, and for a reason she couldn't begin to understand, it felt good. her heart seemed to leap at the small ring, almost singing as it sent butterflies to flutter in her stomach. she was so confused at the moment she hadn't noticed that she had once again been frozen in place, scaring the others once again out of their minds.
"what is it?" monkey asked, trying to peer around her tall shoulders, almost begging for a chance to see what had set the legendary master tigress into yet another daze. yet he could find no way to peer around her, finding that he would find no help from mantis, who was currently being held down by the fierce gaze from crane. finally after being able to take no more suspense, viper quickly wrapped her self around tigress' leg, slowly working her way up and around to meet with tigress', finally being able to see just what was so shocking to the emotionally detached tigress of all people. yet when her eyes found the center of the box, she couldn't help a but her own little gasp escape as she finally understood how tigress must be feeling. out of all the things that Po could have left tigress in that little black box, he had left her a wedding ring.
it was nothing special just an average sized band, average sized stone, nothing about it that would turn any heads walking through town. yet as tigress gazed into the sparkling diamond, which seemed to catch every ray of light that illuminated the room turning, she knew that there wasn't a single thing in the world that she would trade it for, nothing that she wouldn't give to have it. and once again the swirl of emotions had come at her, this time seeming to actually chock the very air out of every inch of her body, paralyzing her where she stood.
why couldn't she move, it was a ring, a simple ring, she had faced ten foot tall adversaries, raging bulls, charging lions, villains with vast knowledge of kung fu without batting as much as an eyelash. and yet this one ring, this insignificant possession, seemed to shake her to her very core, abandoning all rational thoughts from her brain, only her swirling emotions left. but the most annoying part to her was the simple fact that it was that same feeling that seemed to be leading the charge against the wall around her heart, rallying the others behind it, and she had no idea what it was. she was a warrior, the thing she had prized herself on was always knowing her enemy before hand, knowing every weakness they had ever had, their entire life story already memorized down to the day they had lost their first tooth. yet as she stood there, struggling just to bring in her next raspy breath, for the first time in her life, she had absolutely no idea what it was that was assaulting her very being.
and this had all started with that idiot Po. what had he ever brought her but misery and anger. and just like that the feeling inside of began to dwindle, as if it had felt the insults against Po like physical blows. she had found its weakness. she quickly continued her barrage of insults towards the panda, thinking of everything that he had ever done to wrong her, every stupid joke, every idiotic mistake, every destroyed dream, and suddenly that force that had once been breaking her stone heart was now crumbling itself nearly at the point of breaking. she thought long and hard, looking for the final insult that would send it back into whatever pit it had crawled out of. but as she combed her memories to fuel her rant, she was surprised to find that none remained. she looked back as far as to the day she had met him, trying to find the incident that had started this whole mess enough to rekindle her passion, but there was no longer anything left to burn, her hate was all gone. instead she was brought to the immeasurable amount of moments that had brought her true happiness to her life.
the way that he always smiled that big goofy grin of his, acting as if nothing in the world could ruin his good mood, his cute way of finding someway to injure himself, even while doing the most simple of tasks. and finally those eyes of his, the big, deep, beautiful emerald eyes that always seemed to fill her soul with such joy that she had to forcibly stop herself from giggling like a school girl. and just like lightning, the feeling she had fought to break was once again rising inside her, renewing its assault on her hearts final defense. and then it happened, her great wall was broken, and with it came the flood of emotions that had succeeded in tearing it down. everything she had placed around it to keep it distant, all the pain and suffering from her life before and even during her time as a kung fu master, everything she had done to keep it from interfering in her training , from her goals, wasted. and among the drowned remains of her once proud indifferent demeanor, there stood the gleaming victor, taunting her with his victory, rubbing it in her face as he stood high an dry among her flooded inner world. finally she could take no more, she screamed at him, demanding to know just who the hell he thought he was that he could just destroy everything she had worked to build, everything she had done to become the perfect warrior.
he never answered her. instead he had only held up his palm towards her, filling her with his presence, smothering everything else, until it was only the feeling of pure bliss that filled her very being. thoughts of Po came rushing back to her, and with them the feeling only increased in strength, confusing her to no end. (A/N: if it is italic then it is a thought, just so everyone is clear. and if you were wondering why this is the first time i have said anything the entire story, and know from my other story that i love to make comments, it is simply because this is a very emotional story and i don't want to ruin the atmosphere by interrupting, this is probably going to be the only time that i do so) "what is this feeling? it feels like heaven wrapped in bliss, but i don't have a clue what it is. and why does the thought of Po only make it stronger. i mean i will admit those eyes of his always send my heart fluttering, but i mean that's natural right? it's not like i love him or anything." yet as she tried to mentally scoff at the very notion of an attraction to Po, the feeling suddenly flared to a whole new level, smothering her once again, almost as if it had grown a voice from no where and was no proceeding to insult her for her stupid remark. but why? why was this feeling so bent on Po, why did she feel like this.
then, like a lead weight dropped high above, it hit her. the ring, the new sensation she had at the mere thought of Po, the way it reacted when she had tried to deny what was right in front of her face the entire time, she finally understood just who this adversary of hers was. it was love, and it was screaming that she had fallen in love... with Po.
and just like that, the world around her seemed to suddenly matter down to the smallest detail. everywhere she looked, the world seemed brighter as her heart was set to flutter about, spinning with its savior. tigress felt something she had thought long dead, and for a moment she was truly happy. there was someone out there who loved her for who she was, for what she was, and she felt the same in return.
"hey tigress, what is that scribble on the inside of the band?" viper asked, body still wrapped around tigress', staring nearly as intently at the ring as tigress was. woken from her thoughts, tigress quickly flipped the ring, finding that what tigress had said was indeed true, for underneath the top of the band was a small inscription carved into the metal. it only took tigress a second to read the words, having the amazing eyes of a tiger. and for the fourth time in such a short period of time, she was stunned silent as the words jumbled around in her brain, all trying to find somewhere they could stick for good.
"Tigress,I love you With a passion that shall not die Till the sun above grows cold, and my heart stands still. Through good, bad and everything in between i will always love you, Forever Yours, Po." it was all too much to handle in one day. tigress, no matter how much she tried to resist, she could no longer hold back the river of tears that were now drenching her orange fur. she didn't want the others to see her this way, she was there leader, and the leader should always be the strong one, the one who others lean on not the other way around. but between the sudden rush of emotions, the ring, the self confession, it was all too much. why couldn't Po have just told her himself. then she wouldn't have to do this while worrying about where he was. it took only a moment to realize what she had just said
"I've got to find Po!" tigress suddenly screamed as leapt from her spot in the small room, shoving her way past the other confused masters. she made a mad dash towards the exit, taking no heed to the strange looks the others gave gave from her outburst, or the warnings they gave about the harsh storm outside. she had heard them, telling her about the dangers of the storm, and the slim chance that she would actually find him when she wouldn't be able to see 3 feet in front of her. but to her it didn't matter, because at the moment tigress would have walked through fire if it meant finding Po, telling him she was sorry, letting him know just how she truly felt about him. but the moment she opened the door leading to the outside temple, she wondered if the fire was an option right now. the wind was ferocious, wiping around the small buildings, throwing anything not nailed to the floor a good 30 yards away, only to crash down smashing into splinters and rubble. the rain, feeling nearly frozen itself, not to mention being the size of hail, suffice to say, hurt like hell. she very nearly turned back right then. after all, there was no one crazy enough to think they could actually go out into a storm like this, wearing the scarce amount of clothes tigress wore, without so much as a cloak to keep her dry. but as she stared into the howling winds and pouring rain, the only thing that she could thing of was Po, sitting out in some alley alone, freezing to death as he called her name hoarsely from his lips. that was all the motivation she needed. and without a second thought against it, she leapt out from the dormitories into the open air heading towards the stairs.
it was a slow process, even with her running on all fours, sprinting as hard as her body would allow, and then pushing even further. yet the heavens above seemed to fight against her at her struggles, sending the winds rushing towards her, slowing her any extra speed she could try to put behind her steps, and nearly blinding her as the frozen rain assaulted her eyes. yet even against all this she pressed forward, soon reaching the stairs. she quickly looked down the infinite steps, before leaping forward once more, taking 20 steps at a time. she knew it was a stupid thing to do in this kind of weather, the steps would be slick and with a single wrong move, she would most likely break her neck on the fall down, and with the rain as cold as it was, she knew that she wouldn't last the night out in the open. but as this ominous thought came, so did a happy memory that actually seemed to warm her as it replayed in her mind. it was almost like a montage of all the times Po had fallen down these steps, one after the other, yet always managing to find his way back up to the temple without so much as a scratch to show for it. in short it was a miracle he had lived as long as he had with his level of "grace". yet it was one of the things she loved about him. it was just something about him that seemed to say just the right thing, or do something so ridiculous that no matter how depressed the others were, they couldn't help but break into laughter once again, all troubles gone as Po would pick himself up, rubbing the back of his head laughing along with them at his own clumsiness. and as she continued down the steps, nearly at the bottom now, she couldn't help but chuckle at her own stupidity. ever since she had joined master shifu all those years ago, love had been the least of her worries as she trained for years to become the best there was. yet now here she was, an full grown adult, someone who had dedicated her entire self to her training and nothing else, running down stairs in freezing rain thinking about all the little things that Po did that seemed just so wonderful to her. maybe she had gone crazy.
her thoughts were brought back to the task at hand when she felt the texture of the ground reach her feet. she quickly set her sharp eyes scanning the town, checking every alley, lifting every possible shelter the panda might be under, yet after 20 minutes of searching she still found nothing of the panda. "PO! PO, WHERE ARE YOU! PO!" tigress was quickly becoming desperate as she screamed his name into the sky, only having the rain and wind respond, mocking her. she had searched the entire village, but the panda was no where to be found. she had checked every nook and cranny, overturned every stone, in one case she actually flipped a house upside down looking for him, but she just couldn't find him. this quickly lead to thoughts about the futility of this entire search. Po had probably left hours ago, long gone from this dreary place. but these thoughts didn't last long, they quickly turned sour as she thought of what could have happened to her lovable panda.
"what if he fell, he could be hurt somewhere. he could be lying in a gutter somewhere, too weak to call out for help. what if he fell down the stairs, broke his leg, crawled into a gutter, then slowly drowned as he heard me calling for him, to weak to call out to me." tigress in short wasn't helping herself any. by this point she was frantic in her movements, destroying anything that stood in her path as she triple checked the village for Po. it was know over an hour ago that tigress had begun her search, and yet no matter where she looked, no matter how loud she screamed, Po was no where to be found. he was gone, he was really gone.
and finally, after being pushed past its limits for hours on end with no rest, her body could take no more. with shaky knees, her legs buckled out from under her, bringer her down to wallow on the cold, drenched ground, screaming her woes to the heavens. "POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" she couldn't believe it. she had finally after years of being alone, she had learned to love, she had found someone to love. and now he was gone, forever out of her reach. and with her head bowed low to the ground, she cried. she no longer cared if other might have seen her. hell she wouldn't have cared if the whole village was there to watch her cry. she just didn't care anymore. she didn't want to be that cold emotionless person that cared for no one but herself, she wanted to be the person that Po had always seen was inside her. the one who did cry when she was sad, the person who laughed at his dumb jokes. the person he had fallen in love with.
she didn't know how long she had sat there, crying her silent tears that were masked by the rain. she had only sat there, thinking about the memories she had shared with Po, what she would have done differently if she had a second chance, what she would say to Po if she could find him now. she would tell him how much she loved him, how she couldn't live without him, how she would be honored to accept his ring, to be his wife. yet she knew there would be no second chance for her, no reunion for the lovers. yet suddenly she felt a weigh upon her and suddenly the rain had stopped its assault on her already drenched fur. she quickly grasped the fabric bringing it close to her, recognizing it as a cloak, although this one was several sizes too large for her, actually it looked like it might have been a size too large for Po. this seemed light something inside of her, there was only one person in the entire valley, hell most of china, that needed a cloak this big. she turned her head slowly, as if afraid of actually finding Po there, not ready to believe he could actually be there. it was dark and she couldn't yet make out the details of the kind person, but there was something wrong with the shape. then a hand reached towards her, pulling up the cloak around her head lovingly, and for just moment she thought it might really be Po, maybe her eyes were just playing tricks on her from the rain and tears. but she knew she was wrong when instead of black paws pulling back from the hood, she instead saw pure white feathers. this was not her Po, but the voice was something that was just as close to him.
"hello master tigress, it seems you forgot you cloak, no?" it was Mr. ping, the goose father of Po. most would have been glad, to be able to share the anguish she was feeling with someone who understood the kind of pain she felt, but all she felt was dread, he was the only person who understood what pain she was going through, but she was the one who had caused it. it was her who drove Po away, it was her who called him all those names, it was her who had made him leave. and yet here was the man's father, giving him apparently the only cloak he had brought with him, allowing himself to be drenched for her. she hugged him with all her might, crying into his shoulder, drenching it even further then it already was.
"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry! it's all my fault!" tigress cried into him, hoping that he would shove her away, hit her, do something that showed he was angry with her now that he knew she had caused this. but instead she found his arms slowly rest on her back pulling her in farther into the hug, causing her tears to flow faster.
"i know, i know. master shifu and the others brought me the letter Po wrote a half hour ago."
"tigress looked up in shock at the goose, he knew that she had caused his son to run away and yet here he was, smiling at her like nothing in the world could ever be wrong. it was just like Po's.
"then why are you being so kind, how can you not hate me? i made your son leave, I'm a monster who doesn't deserve any kindness, especially from you." tigress said burying her head back into his shoulder, hiding herself from the world once more.
"yes, i suppose i should be mad shouldn't i. yet for the strangest reason i just can't find myself angry at you. believe me when i first read the letter that was the first thing i expected to feel when he wrote that he was leaving because of what happened between you two, yet it never came. i just sat there feeling sorrow for Po, for myself, and for the craziest reason, for you. but i think that might have something to do with the ring on your finger now." Mr. ping said pointing towards the symbol of her anguish she had placed on her finger so long ago.
"you mean, you knew about that too." tigress asked, once again forcing herself out of the old goose's shoulder.
"oh yes! i knew about that ages before this happened. in fact, Po told me about his plans only about a week after you returned from that last mission you had. he said that he had found it near the ruins of his former home, and needed advice on something. at first i was confused about why he needed help with something like that, but when i learned it was you who he was after, i knew he may need more help then i could give. so i talked with him ab=out it for the entire afternoon, telling him everything he wanted to know. in fact i was even there when he had it engraved. now what did it say again?"
"Tigress,I love you With a passion that shall not die Till the sun above grows cold, And my heart stands still. through good, bad and everything in between i will always love you, Forever yours, Po" tigress said absent mindedly, repeating the line by heart. it was funny how after reading it only once she could repeat it without missing a beat, not a single word misplaced.
"ahhhhh, yes that was it. i can't remember the last time i heard such loving words. and i think that is why i can't be angry at you. i know it was your words that caused him to leave but as i look at you now, out in the cold, mourning over his departure, i know that you have already been punished. you have already scolded yourself, and nothing i could ever say or do could ever do any more damage then you have already done to yourself."
tigress was shocked to say the least, she had expected nothing like this. she had wanted him to yell, to say it was her fault, yet all he had done was tell her it was ok, that he wasn't angry. she felt like a small child, being reassured by her parents that they still loved her after she broke something valuable. and just like a child, she cried, she cried and cried into his shoulder, allowing him to comfort her the entire time. finally her cries turned to sniffles as she quickly regained composure, trying to bring herself back to a presentable state.
"well then, how about we head inside, you look absolutely miserable, standing out in the rain with nothing to protect you." Mr. ping said with a stern look, waving his finger like he might have been scolding his own child. tigress couldn't help laughing with as his stern look turned into a warm smile and then into a warm laugh between them both. they walked towards the lights of the noodle shop, huddled under the oversized cloak of the person who had brought so much joy to their life.
holy crap! that was the longest chapter i have ever written, ever! it is 11,000 words and this is just chapter one. anyway, hello everyone, i am back and will be starting this new story. and yes everyone this is not a one-shot, even though I'm sure many of you thought it might have been. honestly, if you are going to review just let me know, did you expect Po to be the one to walk behind tigress and they make up with a big happy ending. its ok if you did, after all that's how i originally plane this story. it was meant to be a song fic about the same problem but obviously with tigress finding Po and them making up. but i decided i didn't like that later on and went with this plan instead. and for all the readers of my story Inupower Love, i am not quitting on that story, i just need a break from it. it will be going again after awhile., but for now i will be doing this story, because for some reason i am obsessed over kung fu panda right now, especially tigress and Po stuff. so like with my other story, please no flames, and any suggestions or ideas are always accepted.