Disclaimer: All characters in this story are the rightful property of Disney, except for Luo Jin, Captain Hsiao Tso-liang and Captain Ma Yuan, who belong to icedragon6171 and Captain Wo Chen, Huo Feng, Hsien Loong and Tsai Lin who belong to me!:)
A/N: This is the prize for the 200th reviewer! Here is what the amazing TheFreelancerSeal gave me as a prompt for this one-shot! I hope you like it:
I wasn't sure what I'd pick as my prize or even if I'd pick at all. At first, I thought I'd want something with Mulan and Shang, but I wasn't sure what you planned on doing or where you plan on taking the story with them, so I wasn't sure if there would be some kind of conflict. But as I thought about it, I think I've decided what I'd like to see.
Since the last posted chapter picks up three weeks since Mulan's capture and reported death, I would like to see a one-shot that deals with the immediate aftermath. I figure that with how important and respected she was among the troops, they would have wanted some sort of memorial ceremony for her, and since Shang loves her, I figured he would want the same, even if they're out in the field and can't do anything proper. I don't want to dictate too much how you do it, but that's the basic idea: the aftermath of her death.
Towards the Setting Sun: Darkness
The man who entered was dirty and scruffy looking, and looked very tired. After he bowed he looked at the Generals with troubled eyes.
"I bring news." He said in a tired voice, nevertheless very loud and clear. "Both good and bad."
"Tell us the good first." General Su said before Shang could even open his mouth.
"We have gathered plenty of information which will become very useful to the war. Captain Fa said they might even determine its outcome." He approached the Generals and left a leather case on top of the table. It undoubtedly contained the reports.
"And the bad?" Now it was Shang who asked, his voice steadier now, however that could not be said for his state of mind.
"The bad news are..." The soldier hesitated, looking back and forth between the Generals. "The bad news are that Captain Fa is dead."
Dead? What did he mean, dead? Shang stared at the soldier as if he had grown a second head. He felt the colour drain from his face as he closed his hands into fists. He then closed his eyes, and when he opened them his face was an expressionless mask, giving none of his emotions away. The last thing he wanted now was Su berating him in front of a subordinate. He didn't want to give the other man anymore reasons to think even less of him, especially after their argument.
Despite all his efforts, something must have shone through his façade, since Gerenal Su gave him a dissapointed frown as he dismissed the soldier.
"If you'll excuse me, I'll go now." Shang said. He didn't say where or what he was going to do once he got there, and he couldn't have answered, had the older General asked. Apart from grief he felt nothing, and his mind was an empty void. Despite that, he managed to complete the sentence without allowing his voice to tremble in the slightest.
"Remember who you are, General Li. You know this could happen. We are at war." He said in a stern voice.
A thousand possible answers made themselves known at the forefront of Shang's mind, but he withheld them all, choosing instead to rise an eyebrow, as if challenging Su Dingfeng to say more. One perverse part of him wanted the other man to continue, in order to have a justified reason to vent his growing anger at him. How dare he presume to tell him what to do? They were both Generals! No one outranked the other! And Shang had proven many times that he was indeed worthy of his title, so how dare he!?
However, he kept his feelings to himself, and just exited the tent with a frown marring his features.
He walked towards the training field, where he saw that Captain Hsiao had already started the men's workout. When he approached, the Capitan, ever the professional, saluted. 'Mulan would have smiled and asked me how my morning was going,' Shang thought, 'she would have asked me to spar with her "To show them how it's done", she would have said.' In that moment Shang realised that she was the one in the whole camp he could call a friend. He got on well with everyone, more or less, but none were truly his friends, not like Mulan, a person with whom he could laugh and talk about almost everything. Be himself, despite their differences in rank.
"Captain, I'm afraid I won't take over the training today. I have several amounts of paperwork to complete." Shang said. "I trust you'll know what to do." He asked, although it was more a statement than a question.
"Yes sir." The Captain said, and saluted once more just before Shang turned and walked away.
'Mulan would have offered help. She would have asked what I was doing.'
Now that he had freed himself of his most immediate duties, his grief was starting to catch up with him. When he entered his tent, he went to his desk and swiped it with one hand, throwing all the papers, quills and ink to the floor. Unsatisfied, he stomped to the small table that sat beside his cot and repeated his actions, throwing the water-filled iron bowl that he used to clean himself in the mornings. It dropped to the floor with a loud clonk. Anyone outside near his tent would have heard the noise, but they wouldn't dare to come in.
His anger manifested itself again at the thought and he picked the ceramic jar that still remained on his bedside table, and threw it with all his strength to the floor. This time there was a satisfying noise as it broke, however it didn't help lessen his pain.
After that, he threw himself on the cot and cried. Cried for his lost friend, for losing forever the chance to know if they would ever be more than that, for all the things he hadn't said... He cried like he hadn't done for as long as he could remember.
When he woke, the sun outside his tent indicated he had missed lunch. No matter, he hadn't been very hungry anyway.
He looked around his tent and saw the mess he had made.
"This is so unlike you." Came Mulan's voice. He looked up and there she was, sitting on his chair, by his desk. Although she was wearing her training gear, she wore her hair down. It was incredibly long, almost reaching her waist. It was the shiniest and most beautiful black hair he had ever seen. "I remember when we were at the Tung Shao Pass," she continued, "I was so proud of you then, I admired your strength and your ability to do what was right despite the circumstances. Your father, the head of your family had just died, and you still did what you had to do. This is not different. It should be easier now."
"You are right." He said, still looking around the room. "But somehow it isn't." "Why is that?" She asked with a puzzled look. This time he rose his eyes to look into hers:
"My father was a proud man. He dreamed of glory and victory. He liked to prove he was better than others; hold it over their heads. Hubris clouded his mind, and in the end, it was what killed him. He overconfidently rode with his troops to the village in the Tung Shao Pass, never suspecting the Huns would outnumber them, or think of a successful strategy to defeat his army, but in the end they did, and my father led hundreds of men into their deaths, just because he was too damn proud!
"He named me Captain when we both knew I was too young for the job and there were many more experienced men fit for the position. He didn't choose me because he deemed me worthy, he chose me for himself. I was just another medal for him; he just wanted to add me to his 'impressive military lineage'*. I didn't see it at the time, because I idolised him, but the truth is crystal clear now.
"You, on the other hand, are all that's good and honourable. You took your father's place to save his life. There was nothing in it for you, except for death if you ever were discovered. I idolised my father, and respected him, but we never spent enough time with one another for that to develop into love. You, on the other hand... I love you Mulan, and I will never forgive myself for not telling you in time."
After hearing his words, she stood up from the chair and went to kneel beside him on the cot. She rose one hand to his face and, all the while looking into his eyes, she cupped his cheek, moving her thumb across it and feeling the stubble that was already forming there. She moved her face closer to his while he stood there immobile. He could feel her sweet breath against his lips. His eyes strayed from hers and landed on her mouth. As if in response, her tongue flicked out to wet her lower lip, and before he knew it, he had closed the gap.
He was kissing her. Her lips were soft and pliant against his own. "I love you too." She whispered against his mouth. ...
He woke with a start and looked at his surroundings. Everything was a mess and it was almost suppertime. The anger he had felt had faded, and had been replaced by a bottomless sadness. He had no doubt the anger would come back, but he would be ready. He'd save it for when it was more useful: battles and training sessions.
He got up and changed his rumpled clothes. He had to look presentable for the announcement he was going to make at dinner today.
Before he exited the tent, he rose a hand to touch his mouth, the memory of an almost forgotten dream on his lips.
He ate his meal in silence, talking to no one. When he saw the mess hall was more or less full, he stood up to make his announcement, ignoring General Su's questioning look.
"As most of you undoubtedly know, one of our own was taken from us during a scouting mission in enemy territory. It was none other than your Captain and my good friend Fa Mulan. She was a valuable asset to this army, and I'm sure her death will be deeply felt by all. She was a hero, therefore we shall give her a hero's farewell tonight at midnight." A true soldier's speech: short and to the point.
After his speech, he turned and left the mess hall without adding any more words, the sea of people parting before him.
Everyone reunited on the training fields at midnight. They were the largest open space in the camp and thus were able to accommodate more people.
No one was missing; even General Su was there, standing by Shang's side. They all wanted to pay their respects to the Heroine of China.
They were at war, therefore not prepared for ceremonies of any kind, however they managed to build a small altar out of wood on top of which they lied many of the possessions Mulan had left behind when she went on her mission. Many soldiers, especially the officers and those men who had been under her command added gifts to the pile "so that the journey to join her ancestors be more confortable", they said.
Shang pronounced a few words to honour the memory of a Captain respected and admired by all; a true hero.
After that they burnt the pyre, and as the fire began to die, people began to leave, until only Shang remained, standing in front of the makeshift memorial until the very last flame had gone out. By then, the sun had already begun rising in the east, announcing the beginning of a new day.
A/N: I hope you liked it! Especially the awesome TheFreelancerSeal!
*Sentence taken from the movie 'Mulan'
The part in italics, as I'm sure all of you have figured out, is a dream, that's why Mulan doesn't talk very much, something she would definitely do in a real situation. In TtSS there was a conversation similar to that one towards the end of the story, but had to be changed due to the appearance of this scene. Don't worry! You'll get to know what Mulan would have answered! (eventually). But remember! The conversation in TtSS doesn't necessarily have to be with Shang, it can be with a bunch of other characters, including some of the Turks... But I'm not revealing anything else! :)
Btw! If any of you likes to draw fanart, or knows someone who does, please draw me some! I'm trying to find covers for my stories, but since I cannot draw to save my life, someone else has to do it for me... ;) I'll post any fanart you send me on my profile and on my story as it advances!