Disclaimer: Kung Fu Panda and all related characters are property of DreamWorks productions. Some characters were created by Rudyard Kipling, and some are owned by Walt Disney Productions…see if you can pick them out…
The Berserker Saga reading order:
Daddy-Daughter Issues – One-Shot – Shifu and Tigress have a discussion on the events of KFP2… (Completed)
A Completed Collection – One-Shot – Tigress notices something missing from Po's action figure collection… (Completed)
Father's Day – Two-Parter – Mr. Ping helps teach Shifu to be a better adopted father for Tigress while Tigress goes to Po for help with a gift for Shifu… (completed)
Confidence and Courage – multi-chapter – A horrible "accident" shakes Po's confidence in himself and his Kung Fu… (Complete)
Today is a Gift – multi-chapter – An ancient artifact sends Tigress on an amazing yet horrifying adventure… (Complete)
Mist of Pandaria - multi-chapter - The Heroes of the Jade Palace receive a call for help that will lead to Po learning far more of his history than he ever thought possible… (In Production)
The Claws of the Berserker – multi-chapter – The Dragon Warrior and the Furious Five face their greatest enemy yet, a monster, a Berserker that does not want power, wealth, or rule, but to watch all of China burn… and why is Master Shifu determined to keep Tigress out of the fight? (Coming soon!)
After the Storm – multi-chapter – the Masters of the Jade Palace and the Valley of Peace try to heal the physical and emotional wounds left by the Berserker… (Coming soon!)
The Mist of Pandaria
Chapter 4: Why Do You Fight?
There's a calm surrender
To the rush of day
When the heat of a rushing wind
Can't be turned away
An enchanted moment
And it sees me through
It's enough for this restless warrior
Just to be with you…
Can you feel the love tonight?
It is where we are
It's enough for this wide eyed wonderer
That we got this far
And can you feel the love tonight?
How it's laid to rest
It's enough to make Kings and Vagabonds
Believe the very best…
The main courtyard of the Jade Palace was filled with people from all over China in beyond to witness this occasion. Before Grandmaster Shifu, in his finest robes and wearing his proudest smile, Po and Tigress stood holding each other's paws.
"Marriage is a covenant that is a serious matter, a commitment until death separates you," Shifu explained loudly before turning to his adopted daughter and the Dragon Warrior. "Do you, Po Ping Dragon Warrior take my daughter Mei Ren Shifu to be your wife, to comfort, to cherish, to honor and protect from this day forth?"
"I do," Po smiled brightly at the tiger before him.
"Skadoosh," Tigress mouthed to her love.
"And you, my daughter, Mei Ren Shifu Master of the Tiger Style, take Po Ping, Son of Ping to be your husband, to comfort, to cherish, to honor, and defend from this day forth?"
"I do," Tigress accepted.
"Oy…" Shifu's eye twitched a moment, "If there is anyone here who has any reason this marriage may not be sealed, speak now or forever hold your peace..."
"Oh, I think I have a reason," Shen appeared before them, "But this can give the reasons better than I," He jumped on a crate just before Po, which opened to reveal a cannon.
"NO!" Tigress screamed as the blast hit him point blank.
Tigress sat up in her bed gasping for breath, clutching her chest.
She laid back in the bed, and she noticed how much it dwarfed her. It was so much bigger than the beds at the Jade Palace. Of course, the people here were much bigger in size than those who populate the valley. Her mind went to the panda across the hall and how he could finally sleep with all his limbs in the bed. In fact, the beds were big enough for both of them for that matter. She curled up a little tighter and tried to force those stray thoughts away. Her ears perked when she heard movement in the hallway near Po's door.
Her eyes snapped open and she was fully to awareness as she silently exited the bed and prowled toward the door, ready to defend her friend. She carefully opened the door and was about to pounce when Master Ip-Pan turned toward her. Both tiger and panda stared in surprise.
"Master Tigress, my apologies if I woke you," the Grandmaster stated with a short bow.
"It's ok, Grandmaster, I just…" Tigress drifted off unsure how to explain her actions.
"You wished to protect my son, I respect that," the panda smiled and motioned for the Kung Fu Master to follow him as he walked toward the exit.
"It's a nice night, isn't it, Master Tigress?" Ip-Pan asked the younger tiger as she stood beside him, looking up at the starlit night from a balcony.
"It is…" Tigress replied, gazing at the stars.
"So… how long have you been in a relationship with my son?" Ip-Pan asked evenly.
Tigress eyes widened as she blanched, and turned suddenly to the elder panda. "Grandmaster…"
"You proudly proclaimed his victories earlier, then stood sentry over his rest, and while my eyes aren't what they once were…" the panda smiled kindly, "I saw the looks you were sending him when you suspected no one was looking. I've seen similar looks toward me from my late wife."
"Po and I… we're not… I mean…" Tigress glanced away, "It's complicated."
"Relationships can be, but they don't have to be," Ip-Pan replied, "They're only as complicated as you allow them to be."
"We're… friends…" Tigress began to open up slightly; perhaps it was the same green eyes of Po's that made her feel she could let her shields down a little. "The other masters of the Furious Five… they're more allies to me… Po's the first person since… he's my friend." She nodded.
"I see…" Ip-Pan nodded.
"It bothers me with how humble he is sometimes," Tigress looked down massaging one of her fists. "Our enemies, bandits, even some people we save insult him often, calling him big and fat… and so many question him becoming the Dragon Warrior. But they don't know him. They don't know how very strong he really is, how big his heart is. He'd risk his life to save someone trying to kill him. No training… no dedication can make someone that … good…"
"I see…" the Grandmaster nodded again.
"And… he makes me feel better for it too," Tigress let a small smile form on her face, "I spent most of my life training myself not to feel… he devastated all of that in less than two years…" she shook her head and looked back to the stars, "I always thought caring only opened up weaknesses…"
"Why do we fight?" Ip-Pan asked, glancing toward the Kung Fu warrior.
Tigress looked at him questioningly. The older panda smiled as he continued. "To ask 'why do we fight' is to ask 'why do the leaves fall'. It is in their nature. Perhaps… there is a better question…"
Ip-Pan looked out to show the few pandas leaving out before light to begin laboring the field. "Why do we fight, Master Tigress? To protect home and family," the grandmaster explained, "to preserve balance and bring harmony. For my kind… for Po's kind… the question is… What is worth fighting for?"
"Perhaps Po has discovered what is seldom revealed to great Kung Fu Masters," Ip-Pan continued as she took a thoughtful look. "You are greatly skilled; I can tell by the way you move. How long have you fought to defend the faceless villagers of your home?"
"Great masters will risk their life for the faceless populace, Master Tigress," the grandmaster turned and started back in, "but the greatest masters have more singular focus. They have specific ones they long to defend even to the death."
The panda turned back and gave a smile so like Po. "Perhaps… a more singular focus was what led my son to become the Dragon Warrior… food for thought…"
Tigress blinked and turned to lean on the railing, watching the pandas beginning their day. Shops were opening, lights were coming on, and on the horizon the sun was rising. "Morning," Po yawned walking out behind the tiger.
"Wow, up before the gong," Tigress smiled over her shoulder at her friend. "I am impressed, Dragon Warrior."
"Lot on my mind, I guess," Po said as he stood beside her, leaning on the railing. "I still can't believe it… just a few days ago I thought I was the last Panda… and now… this… it's mind-blowingly awesome… but…" he turned and looked at Tigress sympathetically, "I hope… I mean, I guess I was just a little worried…"
"About what?" Tigress asked, watching the movement below.
"About you…" Po said, earning her full attention. "I mean… I just… I know you're all Hardcore and all… but I know I've not seen any other tigers 'round the Valley… and… um…"
"I only have memory of one other Tiger," Tigress said, looking up toward the fading stars. "My mother… I don't remember much… I remember she had white fur… I guess I took my fur color from my father… but… I remember her… warmth. But I'm ok. I know I'm not alone." She said, turning to give Po a meaningful look.
"Right, right, you've got Master Shifu, Viper, Mantis, Crane, and Monkey," Po gave her an awkward smile, "and um… of course… err…" he awkwardly placed his paw on hers on the stone railing, "of course you've got me too…"
Both turned their eyes to their joined paws and an awkward silence fell on them.
"Po…" Tigress started, but whatever she was going to tell him was cut short as an explosion was heard near the fields.
"The life of a Kung Fu Master…" Po sighed, shaking his head.
"You wouldn't trade it for anything," Tigress smiled at him before running toward the stairs. "Let's go, I told them you were the Dragon Warrior, Po, now you show them."
"Right… if I don't face-fall…" Po shook his head, "Mantis, Monkey, Viper, Crane! It's Thunder Time!" he called toward the dorms before following the feline.
Tigers roared as they ran and pounced at the running, horrified pandas. "Kill them all!" Lord Shen called from where he and a dark armored wild cat stood on the front of seven wagon-mounted canons. "This brings back fond memories! Male Pandas running, Female Pandas screaming, Baby Pandas crying… all of them DYING!"
One tiger warrior saw a female panda cowering and leapt to pounce on her, but his face was met with a massive battle hammer. "PANDAS! FIGHT WITH HONOR!" Ip-Pan yelled, spinning his battle hammer around him.
Tai Lung and Dao Ming ran onto the field toward the tigers, the female panda brandished her hook blades as she glanced to her husband. "I hope you got some rest last night," She smirked as he locked in his hand and wrist brace.
"No thanks to you," Tai Lung gave a mock growl as he leapt toward two tigers and slammed them into the ground.
"Ha!" Ming laughed then gasped when she realized what they were up against. "There's so many…"
"Do what we can, Daughter," Ip-Pan growled, swinging his hammer at a tiger. "Defend till the innocent are clear. If we fall it will be an honorable death."
"None of our people die today, Grand Master," Tai Lung stated, smashing a tiger in the face with his braced fist. "We have something they can't stop." He said grabbing a tiger soldier by the armored chest plate.
"And what might that be?" the tiger growled spitting at the leopard. "You?"
"Nah, the Big Guy," Tai Lung smirked, tossing the Tiger through the air, only to bounced again by a firm but fluffy belly. "Skadoosh!"
"Sir, something is happening on the battlefield," a tiger stated grabbing Lord Shen and the wild cat's attention.
"What?" Shen growled, his eyes narrowed when he recognized five animals and a distinctive panda joining the mix. "Panda… FOCUS ON THE DRAGON WARRIOR AND THE FURIOUS FIVE! KILL THEM! I WANT THEIR HEADS! BRING ME THEIR HEADS!"
"We have a plan, Dragon Warrior?" Tigress asked as she fought back and back with Po.
"Plan? Why do you keep asking me for plans?" Po asked, giving a hard kick to a soldier. "You do better with the plans!"
Tigress smirked as she caught a punch and tossed the attacker toward Monkey and Mantis who effortlessly dealt with the trooper. "I just think since you're the Dragon Warrior, and these are your people, it might look nice for you to take the lead this time. Just an idea..."
"Ok, ok, got ya, all good…" Po ducked a swipe from a soldier's spear. "We keep their attention on us, and then once my… the Grandmaster and Ming get all the people out of the way we take down the head honchos. That works?"
"That works," Tigress nodded with a smirk.
"Then let's get this done!" Mantis flipped through the air and hit a tiger between the eyes with all his feet.
Ming and Ip Pan quickly began moving the people to safety while the Kung Fu Masters fought the soldiers back the soldiers.
"This game has gone on long enough, send in the Elites," the dark armored wild cat growled from Shen's side.
"You do NOT tell me what to do, you are my lieutenant, I am not yours!" Shen snapped at the wild cat, "ELITES, MOVE IN AND ATTACK THE DRAGON WARRIOR AND HIS ALLIES!" and on his order seven heavier armored tigers began marching onto the field.
"Hey, Spots," Mantis said as he and Tai Lung noticed the new comers. "New boys wanna play," the insect smirked, "I call all seven of these guys…"
The insect flipped then shot toward the group of elite tigers. Only the sound of his body cutting through wind could indicate his presence running around them. Then suddenly one moved, grabbing the insect then slamming him hard into the ground with a hard thud. "That… was a crack…" Mantis squeaked from between the tigers claws. "I think I cracked… ouch…" His head lolled back into unconsciousness.
"Mantis?" Viper blinked as she and the others glanced up to see their calm attackers.
"That was so not cool, dude," Po shook his head as the heroes turned their focus on the elites.
"Po, be careful," Tigress warned, studying the newcomers. "They're good… very good. There's not a single wasted movement here."
"There's just seven of them, we've taken out bigger and better groups, Tigress," Po said, "Tai Lung, you and me the old flank and slam!"
Tai Lung growled and the two masters shot toward the attackers. Five of the tigers went to one knee while the other two stood stock still awaiting the Dragon Warrior and former traitor's first move.
With shouts the two masters made their attack, and at the very last moment, the tigers grabbed Tai Lung and Po. With a fluid move they rolled and sent their attack on each other, slamming into each other. The five between the two tigers instantly rose hitting the two with simultaneous upper cuts sending them tumbling back toward the Furious Five.
"Oh… that didn't work out like it did in my head…" Po groaned as Tigress helped him up.
"They work as one, very impressive," Tai Lung shook off the cobwebs. "Perhaps you should be taking notes." The leopard said toward the Five.
"If they work as one…" Po said, as he stood up on his own.
"… we have to break them up." Tigress finished for him, "Furious Five, Divide and Conquer!"
Viper Monkey and Crane quickly swooped in behind Tigress as she and Po charged the group. The seven elites waited patiently but showed a hint of surprise when they split up at the last second, leaving only Po headed straight toward them.
"LET'S DO THIS!" Po bellowed, "VIPER!" He called and Viper shot up his back, and on along his arm mixing their momentum to slam into one tiger in the head. "MONKEY!" the simian shot beside Po, who caught him by the tail, spinning him over his head like a while before sending him soaring toward an unsuspecting tiger. "CRANE!" Po jumped as high into the air as he could, being caught by the flyer then dive-bombed onto the remaining five elites.
The heroes regrouped, and Po smiled when he saw the seven on the ground. "See, Tigress? No sweat!" He said, pointing to the group of tigers.
Tigress growled lowly, and Po looked questioningly. He then turned and his eyes widened when they all jumped back to their feet. "Oh second wind… here we go…"
"Po, you know that style we've been working on the last few months," Tigress said, her crimson eyes on their powerful enemies.
"The one that you said would never leave the training hall?" Po asked, and Tigress nodded, "The one you said was not ready that we'd probably just be getting ourselves killed?"
"Yeah," Tigress pulled a long chain with two cuffs on each end. "Who wants to live forever, right?" She said, tossing one end toward Po.
"Alright!" Po said as he caught the chain and snapped the cuff around his wrist. "PANDA TIGER LIVING NUNCHUCK STYLE!" Po yelled as he and Tigress began hurling each other at the seven tigers. This was a type of attack that the tigers had never even thought of facing, and it quickly cut through their defenses. They managed to knock out two of the tigers, when they finally figured the weak link in the chain, literally. While four of the tigers distracted Tigress and Po another dove for the chain, slicing it with his claw.
Without the support of the chain, Po and Tigress stumbled to the side. "PO! Look out!" Tigress called as a tiger went to pounce on Po. Tigress quickly tossed herself in the path, and was hit hard in the stomach.
"TIGRESS!" Po caught the tumbling Tigress, and rolled her over his arms. "Mei Ren?" Po asked, his green eyes focused on his friend's face and they widened when a small line of blood ran from her mouth.
His now blue eyes lifted and focused on the remaining five elite tigers. "You shouldn't have done that…" The tigers came up short seeing the instant change in eye color of the panda.
Po laid Tigress on the ground behind him then rose, fluidly moving in the technique Master Shifu had taught him. One he had finished his movements he made a motion to come on to the group.
The first tiger growled and rushed the Panda, but the Dragon Warrior effortlessly caught his claw by the wrist and flipped him through the air.
The others quickly rushed but it was like fighting water. Po easily dodging and deflecting every attack, and getting several good shots in to weak spots some of the greater masters wouldn't have been able to spot.
"So this is the Inner Peace Style our Lord warned us of…" the wild cat frowned, "Cover the elites retreat with your cannons. They have failed."
The sound of cannon fire filled the air grabbing everyone's attention.
Tai Lung quickly moved in to swoop in to grab Tigress. "Get back, I'll try to keep the cannon balls from hitting the buildings!" Po called to the others.
Po jumped in the path of the first cannon ball and caught it in both hands, letting its momentum roll it along his arm before sending it sailing back toward the line of cannons on the mountain side at the edge of the fields. He continued to do catch and return, only a few making it past his defense of the city.
"Those tigers are getting away!" Viper called, pointing her tail toward the elites who were making their way back the way they came.
"No they're not…" Crane called, taking flight in pursuit.
Crane carefully trailed the tigers while dodging cannon fire going in both directions thanks to Po's redirection. "Way to go, Po," Crane smiled as he saw a cannon ball ripped a cannon in half. "Target in sight…" He said to himself as he tightened his wings and swooped down toward the retreating elites.
"WINGS OF JUSTICE!" Crane called as he flapped his wings, sending a wave of chi toward the tigers. The chi exploded in the ground sending one tumbling backwards but the others kept running with little concern for their comrade.
"Where you think you're going, buddy?" Crane asked swooping down. "We have some questions for you…"
The tiger growled as he pulled a large dagger from his belt, but to Crane's shock and horror the warrior turned it on himself.
Before the Master of Crane Style could do anything the dark armored wildcat berserker in two swift movements kicked the blade from his hand and followed with a hard kick to the face sending him spiraling to the ground.
"Fool!" the wildcat hissed, "Your life belongs to Lord Shere Khan, it is no one else's to take, even yourself!" She growled.
"Look, lady, I don't know who you are or what you want with the Pandas…" Crane started as he approached the berserker.
"Hello, Que Xin," the berserker said.
"And I don't know how you know my name…" Crane said slowly.
"You've forgotten me already…" the berserker reached up and first unsnapped the mask then removed the helmet-like headdress and let them drop at her feet. She slowly turned to face the master.
"It… it can't be… Mei Ling?" Crane's eyes widened as he stared at the wild cat. "What are you doing?"
"The question is what are you doing, Que Xin?" Mei Ling asked crossing her arms. "I'm trying to save China."
"How are you saving China? How are the Pandas a threat to China? And working with Lord Shen? Attacking innocent people? Mei Ling, are you even paying attention to what you're doing?" Crane asked, approaching his old friend.
"For the first time in my life I'm seeing everything very clear," Mei Ling said, placing her paws on Crane's shoulders, "Shere Khan has opened my eyes to the truth. China has gone away from the old way of things… We have to save China from herself."
"From herself?" Crane took a step back away from her.
"We've become complacent, Que Xin, the strong defending the weak? It should be the strong OVERCOMING the weak, making the next generation stronger and stronger," Mei Ling said as an angered look crossed her features, "Instead China grows weaker and weaker, with fewer and fewer true Kung Fu Masters… We're in a day when a panda becomes the Dragon Warrior… the strongest of us? What does that say of the People of China?"
"And a day when a skinny janitor, stands among animals, defending the Valley of Peace?" Crane frowned, "Mei, are you listening to yourself?"
"I don't want to fight you, Que…" Mei Ling said sadly as she stepped away, "I hope that eventually you will come to see the light as I have… if not… we have no options but to be enemies."
"That's a choice YOU have to make, Mei…" Crane said sadly, removing her scarf and holding it out to her.
She stared at it a moment before she turned her back. "That represents a weaker me that no longer exists… Do with it as you wish, Master Crane… Goodbye…"
Crane watched her go before wrapping the scarf back around his neck, taking flight back toward Pandaria with a sad determination in his eyes.
Po's fur felt heavy with sweat as he tossed hot cannon ball after cannon ball back toward his attacker. Shen had already escaped, but he couldn't let his people's home be destroyed even by lackeys. He took a sigh of relief when he saw that was but one cannon left. "Let's get this done so I can get breakfast…" Po said, preparing himself.
His eyes focused on the cannon ball that approached, but his eyes widened in fear when he saw it explode into a wave of tiny pellets.
Tigress' face filled the panda's mind eyes and he could feel her arms wrap around him as they had in the dungeon all those months ago. His eyes snapped opened wide as blue energy engulfed him and he pushed both hands toward the oncoming barrage. "SKADOOSH!" He yelled as his chi forced the pellets around him as if they were water flowing around a rock.
He hissed loudly as he gripped his arm and saw where a single pellet made it through his technique and clipped his arm, leaving blood to run freely down, soaking his fur.
He glanced up and saw that the soldiers manning the few remaining canons saw that he stopped their best attack, and quickly retreated in fear, leaving the Pandas and their heroes to cheer the Dragon Warrior's latest victory.
"Po! I can't believe you actually…" Tigress came quickly toward him, favoring her stomach.
"Are you ok?" Po asked in concern.
"I've taken worse hits from the training hall… Po! You're bleeding!" Tigress's eyes fell on his arm.
"Ah, but a flesh wound…" He said, but she wasn't listening, she quickly removed a portion of her ankle wrapping, and worked at making a makeshift bandage. "My Inner Peace Mode still has some work to do."
"Po…" Tigress gave him a hard glare as the others quickly approached. "We are not going to fire a canon at you for practice…"
"Awe, Mei, it could be fun…" He smiled before the others quickly surrounded them, patting his back.
"While I had very little doubt that you were as your friends have said, but now it is beyond reproach… you ARE the Dragon Warrior!" his birth father exclaimed.
As Ip-Pan gushed and exclaimed over his son, Dao Ming came on the other side of Tigress, also examining Po's arm. "Looks like just a deep scratch, should heal on its own with some ointment. This is a very good bandage, Master Tigress."
"I… thank you," Tigress was taken back at the shift in Ming's behavior toward her.
Catching on to the tiger's confusion the female panda nodded, "you helped protect my people and you saved my brother's life. Maybe you're not AS bad as I thought you were…"
Tigress gave a small smirk before turning her attention back to Po. "This is call for celebration!" Ip-Pan declared, "Tonight we dine and dance!" Po smiled excitedly while Tigress gulped.
The group moved toward back toward the city, Master Crane pausing to glance back before taking flight.
That night, everyone gathered in the central part of the city where music and dance was everywhere. Musicians and singers sang from a small stage while pandas danced throughout the square.
Among them Viper drew a crowd of on-lookers as she danced with a long streaming ribbon without missing a single beat of the music.
A small bar was set up serving various drinks in celebration. Mantis and Monkey stood by Tai Lung as they watched the festivities.
"So you and Po's sister…" Mantis broached the subject.
"I did NOT know she was the Panda's sister till recently," Tai Lung growled at the pair of Masters. "But if you must know the story…" He slouched slightly, "After the Dragon Warrior attempted the Wushi Finger Hold; I was sent flying through the air for who knows how many miles. Between the intensity of the released chi from us both plus the impact of a very unforgiving ground, I was helpless. She found me…"
A fond smile graced Tai Lung's features. "I was still angry and violent, but with my body nearly broken I was helpless, especially to a master such as Ip-Pan."
"He not only helped me build upon my already vast knowledge of Kung Fu, but also helped me to not only control but to harness my anger, to use it instead of it using me. All the while, Dao Ming was nursing me back to health… we became close… and I felt she was… suitable for a wife." Tai Lung smirked in the direction of his wife.
"Don't let Spots fool you guys," Ming walked up, and leaned against her husband, "I was the one who found him suitable for a husband. Father was worried I'd end up an old maid because either I would reject every perspective husband or they'd reject me. In a moment of weakness, I took advantage of this hardheaded Kung Fu warrior and trapped him in a marriage."
"There are many things I regret in my life," Tai Lung said putting an arm around the panda, "but being 'trapped' by you is not one of them…"
"Oh, just eat his head and be done with it…" Mantis gagged, "Please…"
"Does your sister always look so unhappy?" Dao Ming asked, motioning to a corner where Tigress sat, glaring into the crowd.
"Oh, that is her happy face," Mantis quipped.
"I don't know," Monkey said, studying their fellow master. "There's definitely a spark in her eyes unlike her usual scowl… oh I see…" Monkey said pointing in to the crowd, and understanding appeared on all their faces when they spotted Po dancing with a group of female pandas.
Tigress sat a light growl escaping her throat as she tried to force herself to look away from Po having such a good time with those… girls. Why shouldn't he be happy and enjoy their… company? They were the same species. While he's never said it, she knows he's always wanted to find others of his own kind. Now there they are in all their flowery, fluffy, pretty glory. She glanced away as the song came to an end and Po and the others clapped.
Her ears twitched slightly as the next song started with a fast, energetic beat.
"C'mon Tigress, Let's cut a rug!" Her eyes widened as she heard Po's voice directly beside her.
Gimme one reason why you look so sad
A heart like yours wasn't made for that
She glanced over to see Po standing with his hand held out to her. "Po, respectfully you know me and dancing tend to be like… well… remember your first day at the Palace?"
"Please… you were put on the spot and had a lot on the line, this is different," Po's smile was infectious and she struggled to keep her natural expression. "This is all for fun, and I'll take the lead. C'mon, Mei Ren, let's show them how it's done … Valley of Peace Style!"
She hesitated only a moment before she took his hand.
Gimme your hand, I'll pull you through
Gimme some time and I swear to you
Po led her out onto the floor among the others dancing to the beat of the music.
They began to dance, but Tigress remained stiff and awkward, stiffly letting Po lead her movements. He leaned in and a shiver ran up her spine as he whispered. "Don't worry about any of the others here. They're not even here, Mai…" He breathed, "Just you and me."
I'll be so close
"Just you and me?" Tigress repeated.
"Don't think of it as dancing," Po said letting go and taking two steps away from her. "Think of it as… sparing…"
Tigress blinked a moment before a smile graced her lips. "Then try to keep up, Panda…"
Hey don't you know?
They rushed each other, and their movements became fluid, movements and steps in time with the beat of the song as they gracefully moved around each other. Of all the heroes of the Jade Palace they knew each other better than anyone. They didn't have to think, they only had to feel and move with each other; perfectly in sync, fluid like water circling around each other like the Yin and the Yang.
You and me
Were made to be in love
Don't let them tear us apart
Tigress jumped toward Po and he effortlessly caught her and lifted her into the air. She curled forward rolling down his back, glancing back as her feet touched the ground and she pressed her shoulders to his. They were in a world where only they existed, and had no idea that most of the others had stopped to watch them and clap in time with the beat.
You and me
You're all I ever need
Tigress spun on one foot as Po circled around to her, catching her by her arms and lowering her down in a dip. Po wasn't sure if he was imagining it or not, but he could swear a purr was coming from his dance partner.
"C'mon, Po!" Tigress exclaimed, grabbing his arm, spinning him around in time with the music, both brushing arms and bodies together as they dance around each other, their eyes never leaving one another's.
Look in my eyes can't you see?
You and me were made for love
Viper was beaming, waving her flag excitedly as she watched the couple move to the music. Meanwhile at the bar, Mantis chuckled and shook his head. "Master Shifu would crap a brick if he saw this…"
"I wouldn't be so sure…" Monkey smirked.
You can lock your door
You can live alone
You can dim your lights
disconnect from all…
Po took her hands and she slid between his legs letting go to flip over his shoulders, twisting gracefully as he moved beneath her. With amazing timing and grace he caught her in a cradle.
You can run
But you will be living a lie
They paused only a moment to gaze in each other's eyes.
You and me…
We're made to be in love
As the music faded, thunderous applause from their witnesses caused heat to rush to the Panda and Tiger's cheeks. "That was awesome…" Po beamed at Tigress.
"Indeed it was, Po…" Tigress nodded, glancing over to see Viper giving her a hard look and nod.
Lay your claim now, Sister! She could almost hear the snake pressing through her stare.
Tigress took a hard swallow and stood tall. "Po… can we talk… privately?"
Po seemed taken back, but nodded without hesitation. "Sure, you don't even have to ask. Lead the way!"
Tigress nodded, taking his hand and they walked away from the crowd.
Tigress led him to a small bridge and stopped to lean on the railing.
"What's wrong, Mei?" Po asked worriedly.
"Nothing's wrong," She breathed, "not really…"
"C'mon, you know you can talk to me," Po said, standing beside her.
"Why do you fight?" She finally asked softly.
"Why do I fight?" Po asked, blinking for a moment before puffing out his chest. "Well, Evil isn't going to stop itself!"
"Po Ping, I'm serious!" Tigress growled, giving him a hard glare. "I … What drives you? What made you become the Dragon Warrior? What helped you achieve Inner Peace to a level only Oogway has ever reached… What do you have that no one else has? I honestly want to know…"
Po was visibly still and silent for several moments before he released a heavy sigh and glanced down at the river that flowed beneath the bridge, at the reflection of the two masters staring downward. "You."
"Me?" Tigress asked barely above a breath.
"I've always looked up to you, Mei…" Po said, a smile graced his lips as he went back with his mind. "You saved me when I was a kid. I always wanted to be like you… like the legendary Master Tigress! When Oogway announced that the time had come for the Dragon Warrior to be chosen… I knew. I knew it was you. There was no one greater."
Tigress listened intensely as Po took a breath, his voice growing more serious than she recalled ever hearing. "Then he chose… me. I knew it was a mistake, I knew it was supposed to go to you… but a part of me knew that Master Shifu would be able to make me into something… worth having around. Not just a fat noodle chef… I know," He held up a hand, "I'm better than that and was better than that to begin with. But that's how I felt… and another part of me… was so excited to train and live… with you. To be close to my hero, maybe even to be trained by you and learn of you so I could finally, finally be like you."
He glanced away, not wanting to see the rejection when he said the next part. "Then my dreams began to change over the last couple years while I was living and fighting with you guys…" He gulped loudly, "I didn't want to be like you anymore… I wanted… to be with you."
"Look, I know, you probably don't feel the same way, and I treasure the friendship we've built, but I just want you to know how much you really…" He was cut off when she spun him toward her, wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her lips to his.
"I care for you, too, my Dragon Warrior…" Tigress whispered as she broke the kiss. "Po?"
"Oooo…" He cooed as he fell to the ground at her feet.
Tigress blinked in surprised, before planting her hands on her hips. "Really, Po?" She asked, but not able to hold back her smile. Then to his surprised she stretched out beside him on the bridge. They couple lay silently beside each other, peaceful smiles upon their faces.
Can you feel the love tonight?
You needn't look too far…
Steeling through the night's uncertainties
Love is where they are…
To Be Continued…
BIG Apologies for the long wait on this. I did a lot of tweeking and editing on this to try to make this the very best I could. I hope it was worth the wait, and coming next, Shen makes one last attack on the Pandas leading to the final confrontation between the Dragon Warrior and the peacock who took him away from his family, as well as Po making the hardest decision he's ever had to make… stay tuned!
MUSICAL CREDITS: "You and Me" by Tiffany and "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" by Elton John