I Do Desire We May Be Better Strangers

Disclaimer: I do not own Disney'sMulanor any of its characters.

AN: Right, onto chapter two. Now, yes, the start of this chapter is fairly slow but I promise it gets better. Remember that big surprise? Just bear in mind, that even if I think it's big, you may not. So no disappointed faces please, and no rude reviews, becuase that isn't nice. I'd like to thank everyone who did review, it was exceedingly kind and I value every single last one of them. Enjoy the chapter and Please find time to review ^-^

Sasha XxX

Chapter 2

Two weeks after her returning home, Mulan was still finding it hard to adapt to her old way of life. Fa-Zhou worried extensively. Mulan woke before dawn, had a simple breakfast and was then outside doing all her chores in a mere few hours.

What she did for the rest of the day was only a suspicion, Mulan was careful to never be seen. She knew that her mother would sooner marry her to an ignoramus than have her publicly displaying her martial arts.

That was another thing that had become strained after Mulan had returned. Her relationship with her mother; Fa Li expected Mulan to give up her warrior status and habits now that she had saved her father from harm and brought honour back to the family and was, essentially, back home.

But Fa-Zhou knew that that would never be the case, his daughter could not, and would not simply, let go of all she had learnt, and grown attached too while she had trained in the army. Heavens knows he found it cripplingly hard and Mulan had found her calling, something she excelled at...and she wasn't about to let it go. Nor would he let her, as her father, he had obligations.

Fa Li had taken an extremely reluctant Mulan to countless dress makers and talented women upon her return from the army to try and make Mulan look more feminine...

That had not gone down to well; one example would be when Mulan had absently been looking through material, not interested at all. Then she had found a bamboo shaft, a stick they used in transportation to keep all the rolls of material in line and in the cart.

Mulan had been practicing her shapes and formations, going through sword and martial art shapes, using the stick in place of a sword or a full length bamboo pole. Fa Li had angrily told her she would never marry if she kept hitting things with everyday objects, and that as a woman, she should be fixing things, not destroying them.

A crowd of village girls had crowded round the doorway of the shop simply just to see Mulan get a tongue lashing from her mother. Giggling at her humiliation.

As the days past, Grandma Fa could clearly see Mulan deflate into herself. She did not agree with Li's attempts to smother Mulan into a more feminine life that, clearly, she was not destined to be in. Countless time has she herself told Mulan to go with her sword to the field, and that she would keep her mother distracted.

Her reply was so uniform and without emotion it had honestly scared her to her old, used bones. Her only reply was, "I would not want to disappoint Mama" Mulan's eyes had been glazed, lifeless.

Then Fa-Zhou had stepped in, he could not see his daughter like this anymore. The day he decided to intervene was the night that he and his wife had had the largest argument of their whole marriage.

Fa Li had stated quite loudly that Mulan would never be married or find happiness if them, as parents, didn't force her into a relationship, and that Mulan wasn't capable of finding a suitor on her own.

Mulan had heard and ran out, but this time, Grandma Fa had stayed in Mulan's company, to make sure she did not run off once again and find an army in aid of a hero.

Fa-Zhou had calmly stated that; with or without their guidance, if Mulan was to be married then the opportunity would arise in time and without aid. If they had to intervene then, surely, it was not fate. And Mulan would not be happy.

The couple had still not come to an agreement, but merely decided not to do anything until one of them decided that the other was right.

Which wouldn't happen.

Mulan had been brushing Khan when he had neighed noisily towards the front gates,

"Do we have a visitor Khan?" Mulan laughed lightly as her beloved horse nuzzled her hand. She went over to the gate and hauled it opened without much trouble.

A white imperial stallion had slowly cantered to a stop in front of her,

"Hello Mulan" Shang had smiled down at her happily, but you could see the anxiety in his eyes.

"And to what do I owe the honour General?"

As the day and weeks slowly rolled over, Shang had visited Mulan regularly to keep her informed of what was going on in the country. He also reminded her to be ready for, at any moment she could be called in, back to the army. Back to where she felt safe.

It was odd, the one place she was most at risk only weeks ago was now a place she longed to go, as it gave her security to be who she wanted. Even if there were objections, Mulan could excel freely and when she pleased. So long as there was time to do so in between the planned training to do her own personal training, focussing on the areas that she needed to gain skill in.

Mulan had not been training as much as she should have, or what she endured whilst preparing for the Hun attack. Yet, she had a blossoming friendship with Shang, true comrades, now they could confide quite easily in each other.

Shang had not pondered too much on her deception, he more often that not decided to tease her about it…not that Mulan minded, she also teased Shang for not noticing she was a woman.

"In my defence, I didn't expect to have a woman in my camp!" He would say,

"Ah, but aren't you meant to expect the unexpected, general?" Shang would flush and fumble over an explanation. But her dressing up as a man had taught the whole imperial army something…that they were not open minded enough to think outside the box, and prepare for an unexpected attack.

Mulan stood next to Shang, uncertain of why she was here. They both stood in the throne room at the imperial palace. The emperor had requested them both specifically and so, they had come. Not explanation for what the meeting was about had been offered to them, but either way, Mulan's mother was not happy about it…not one little bit.

Mulan herself was wondering intensely as to why she was needed. As General, Shang could lead the army to the western front, she need not be there, she hadn't trained as much as she used to and even if she had what use would she be? Other than another recruit…but, surely, they could just send her in with the other new soldiers, there was no need for her to be here with Shang for a personal audience with the Emperor.

"We have reason to believe the Turks will negotiate with us" The Emperor announced, Shang looked puzzled,
"We do sir?" the emperor nodded, he had apparently kept this to himself. His majesty looked at a servant to his right and nodded him towards the door. The young boy ran off and Mulan followed him out of the room with her eyes. Making sure she didn't have her back to the emperor; that way, she merely looked nosey, not rude.

"It came to me one night as I stood on the steps leading up to the palace, do you know what night it was?" Mulan looked at Shang who had apparently been hoping she knew, as she met his gaze at the same time she turned,
"I'm sorry, but no we don't your highness" Shang answered, the Emperor grinned,
"It was the night you saved my life, Fa Mulan" Mulan herself blushed,
"It wasn't just me, I merely did what any of the people of china would do to protect and defend their Emperor"
"I would hope so, but only you did. Despite the way you had been treated as a result of mylaw" the emperor smile warmly at Mulan, to appease her obviously nervous mind. Shang had ducked his head, but the Emperor had seen the deep sorrow and regret that had shadowed over his young features.

"The idea just...cried out to me" his highness chuckled to himself, like he had his own privet joke; this made Mulan and Shang uneasy.
"Ah!" the emperor said as his servant came back,
"There you are, I was beginning to think you had become lost!" the servant bowed carefully and uncomfortably as the bundle balanced precariously in his arms seemed heavy and difficult to hold,
"N-no your majesty, S-sorry I took too long your majesty, I-it won't happen again your majesty" the young man said hastily.

"Fa Mulan, I believe our general has something to give you" the emperor said, Mulan became suspicious.
"Should I start running? While I still can?" Mulan said before clamping her hands over her mouth as she remembered where she was, and in whosepresence. Though Mulan and Shang were used to such jesting, the Emperor was not, but he merely chuckled and beckoned Shang to step closer to Mulan.

"Mulan, I may have not fought alongside you for very long-" Mulan raised one delicate eyebrow, what is he playing at? She thought, he better not be messing with me...

Shang seemed to take great amusement in her expression, and continued,
"But I know potential when I see it-" he better not be about to objectify me, she thought again, this internal commentary was getting on her nerves, and making then worse,
"-and it is great honour that-" he bent down on one knee, Mulan's face turned horrified, but Shang's head was bowed, so he was spared seeing it, he wouldn't...
"I present you with this armour, so that, provided you accept, you will serve alongside me as my second in command...and as a captain in the imperial army" Mulan let out a sigh of relief and gratitude as Shang lifted his head and gave her a pile of folded armour, much like Shang's had been before he had become general. Shang smiled proudly at her as she took the parcel, atop the pile of armour was an imperial sword and helmet, all kept in place with a tied piece of twine,
"You would have been given a horse, but we all know how much you value Khan..." Mulan smiled,
"I accept" she whispered,
"Do I have permission to show my gratitude?" Mulan asked politely to the Emperor,
"Seeing as you and General Li are good comrades I will allow it" Mulan nodded while still appropriately reserved, and lay her package on the small table to her right.
"What are you-" Shang was about to ask confused, but he was cut off by a high pitch squeal and was attacked by his new second in command. Mulan had thrown her arms around his neck, knowing he would have never been promoted if Shang hadn't said anything.
"Thank you" she breathed, her hold tightening.

Shang was shocked; Mulan had never shown him this amount of gratitude, ever, to anyone. Yet, he still encased her in a hug, her small form feeling fragile to his large and stronger form, even though he knew she was anything but, and not at all weak in any sense of the word. As they were both in the army, and everyone knew of their sturdy friendship, it was not odd for the two of them to embrace each other in a friendly manner. They were seen as two best friends, both in the army; notman and woman. So, usual social customs were discarded, as they were a unique case.

The Emperor cleared his throat and Mulan instantly bowed to him,
"Thank you greatly, your majesty" the emperor looked amused, not irritated with the exchange between the two, even a little intrigued. He was quite the matchmaker himself, and knew where he could help kindle some love. Whether it be through friendship, or romantic and happy life together as a couple.

"That's quite alright my dear, and as your first duty as a captain, you must help General Li to find a way of managing our most precious pawn in the game we are playing with the Turks, a game of strategy, war. Now it is a big responsibility, so you must both find the best way of approaching this...together" the emperor smiled and took the bundle from the servant, beckoning Mulan forward with a jerk of his neck.

Mulan began to bow to receive this said 'pawn' but the emperor stopped her,
"You must stand to receive this" Mulan nodded and took the bundle from the emperor.

She audible gasped, rearranging her hold of the bundle as she realised what it was, so that she could better protect it and have a more secure hold.
"Mulan?" Shang said concerned.

"Whaa! Awah!" Mulan shushed the bundle, rocking it back and forth in her arms, she began to pace in odd circuits; completely forgetting she had an audience and that it was rude to wander around the room when she meant to be attentively listening to anything that the Emperor should say.

Shang himself was shell shocked; yes he was surprised it was a baby amongst the blanket, but the way Mulan instantly took on the very feminine role of a mother, as if it were natural to her.

Obviously, Shang realised it was natural for her; she was a woman after all, he felt like slapping himself. Shang had just got used to seeing her in dresses, seeing her cradling a baby was notsomething that he took lightly, nor was he prepared for.

"The little one is the heir to the Turks throne, provided should they fall. She is the bastard child to the daughter of the Turks king. In other words, the Turks king has many, many children. All have died from illness, or disowned the family completely...all but one. His daughter. She is the rebellious type and so, has not married" Mulan gulped, how many times had she been described as rebellious? And if a princess cannot marry...
"She came to doors of my palace cloaked in black and brown, handing me her bundled child, begging me to keep her safe, so that, if they fall, she is not killed or harmed" the emperor took a breath,
"I know that I should have turned her away or kept the child as a bribe for peace, but I cannot now go back on my word, that child can come to no harm, but I suppose negotiation can take place because of her"

"You'll need to decide what to do with this little one, and who you may need to accompany you on your travels if you need someone else to look after the young one" the emperor said, as he directly addressed the general and captain, he had emphasised the word 'else' (plus a pointed look) to make it obvious to Shang that he expected himself and his new captain to figure out something within the camp that contained their new troops. Mulan, however, was being extremely oblivious as she finally shushed the baby back to sleep. Sighing as it finally worked.

So how was it? Let me know, drop a review ^-^ it's going to be very chaotic for the two now isn't it? With training and whatnot, hehe, evil writer XD