A Little Bird Told Me

I'm jumping into it. I can't be bothered with the niceties, I'm sorry.

Chapter II

Po was sat beneath the Sacred Peach Tree, his head in his paw, a peach in his other paw, and a stomach too filled with worry and mind too confused to contemplate eating. Somehow, Crane had managed to escape a night of questions without producing any actual answers, and his behaviour was starting to frighten the Panda.

It had been that morning when Po had gone against the word of Master Shifu and finally asked the bird directly, "What happened with Tai Lung?" One moment he was on his feet gazing hopefully at the unreadable expression on Crane's face, the next his head was by his ankles and his back met the floor a good twenty feet from where he had been standing. He was still trying to figure out what had just happened when the horrified Crane took off, and he hadn't come back all day.

After lunch, Po had silently watched the other's half hearted training session for a short while, then, with even Kung Fu unable to lift his spirits, he had relocated to the Peach tree, hoping silent contemplation would help clear his mind. In truth, all he had managed to procure by sundown was around two dozen horrific scenarios of the encounter with Tai Lung that Crane might be unwilling to share, including one where the five had been brutally slaughtered.

This was one he had to quickly shake away; he had seen them not a few hours ago, after all.

He recalled one of the first times he had truly believed in himself, that another had shown faith in him. He could remember Master Oogway's words, "Yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery. But today is a gift." If there were some way he could make Crane see this, maybe he would stop thinking so much on things that couldn't be changed.

"I-I wanted to apologise... for earlier."

"That's exactly what I mean!" Po said in exasperation, gesturing wildly as he turned to face a very flummoxed Crane.

"I- Po? You lost me."

"Oh, right. Just, I was just thinking of something, that you shouldn't take it so hard about what happened because it wasn't your fault."

"I think you'll find it was, Po. I lost control, I'm truly sorry."

"No, no. You can't think like that. Anyone could have lost control. But you did your best, and you saved the others. You have to put it all behind you."

"I'm sorry?" Crane shook his head, utterly perplexed. "I'm lost again. I was apologising for attacking you."

Po blinked. "Oh. That was a little... unprovoked... but you don't need to apologise." Crane was already turning away from him. "Please tell me... what happened?" He braced himself, locking an arm around the tree just in case, but all Crane did was sigh heavily.

"Please," Po repeated in his most sincere tone.

After a moment of silence, he sighed again before speaking barely above a whisper.

"He- he wanted something, Po. In exchange for our lives, he... wanted something." Crane closed his eyes tight, and Po suspected he was remembering the events once again. "I didn't want to tell him, but in the end, what choice did I have? He made me!" His voice was rising in distress, but he fell suddenly silent, a tremor passing through him.

Po nodded encouragingly before realising the avian couldn't see him, and enquired softly, "What did he want?"

Crane raised sad eyes to the panda. "Something that wasn't mine to give."

Keikka Bel was a small, riverside village, bordered by a forest and, due to its seclusion, was a relatively quiet, homely place. However, it wasn't completely out of the ordinary for travellers to pass through, so a knock at the door was welcomed, and once it was opened to reveal a stranger, there was no reason for panic. Until his claws scratched her neck as his paw pressed against her throat.

"You are Saisu?" His menacing voice alone had her trembling as she shook her head desperately.

"No, no! I am not her! Please leave me be!"

"Then where can I find her?"

"You can't!"

"Meaning?"

"She's has passed beyond this land."

"She's dead?"

"Yes, sir. So please..."

Perhaps this was not the best answer, as his anger at his apparent misfortune caused him to tighten his grip on her windpipe.

"PLEASE?" she gasped out.

"Who are you, then? You knew Saisu?" He loosened his grip a little, and she thankfully drew in more air.

"I did, she was my Grandmother. I am Yulia."

He studied her for a moment, his cruel, yellow eyes seeming to emanate a hatred that terrified her, and she closed her own eyes, wishing this evil thing away. Without warning, he drew back, and she fell to her knees with a cry of surprise.

"Well then Yulia, you may be useful to me. You see, your Grandmother was in possession of something that..." He paused as she failed to contain a wail of despair, finding it rather amusing, and at the same time frustrating. "I haven't told you what it was yet."

"She didn't leave me anything, and I already know I don't know where this thing will be!"

"That is unfortunate... for you."

"No, no," she gasped, as he raised his paw to strike. "No, I will help. I have a way... to find lost things. I can help you find whatever it is."

He let his lips twist into a smile, baring his fangs as a triumphant laugh burst from him. "Why didn't you say so before? Let's get to it!"

"What is it you are looking for?"

The sun had long since set by the time Po had coaxed most of the story from Crane. There was now a silence between the two, Crane's expression one of defeat and betrayal, whilst Po's switched between worried and perplexed.

"Erm, that's it? It may just be me, but that doesn't sound very scary."

Crane stared at him in surprise. "I'm no fool, Po!"

"Whoa," Po threw up his hands defensively. "And I'm not saying you are! Just... seriously? I would have thought something of world-endy evilness would be a bit more... ominous."

Crane laughed bitterly. "I've ruined everything."

"No!" Po stood suddenly, reaching forward before thinking 'shaking a master of kung fu, not a smart move'. "Tai Lung was defeated, Crane. I defeated him. There wouldn't have been time for him to go anywhere else, right? Now he's gone, and there's no new evil about to arise and kill us all. Not because of you. This nothing that's about to happen; not your fault. You haven't betrayed anyone, you protected your friends." He smiled ridiculously at the forlorn Kung Fu master, but all Crane did was sigh despondently.

"I wish you could understand how terrible a thing I've done," he said, turning away and spreading his wings.

Po shook his head as he watched Crane fly towards the barracks. He felt, if possible, more confused than when he didn't know what was going through Crane's mind. Without thinking he reached up and was biting a large chunk out a peach before followed at a much slower pace. "Gees, how bad can it be? It's just a puzzle box."