Disclaimer - All characters belong to Disney except those that did not appear in the movies.
Author's note: In my timeline I have Shang arriving a few days after Mulan comes home, during which time Mulan has had some conversations with her parents etc. the substance of which will be revealed later. Also, I know nothing (or very little) about Chinese history and traditions so please excuse any inaccuracies in this area. I wrote this story purely as an outpouring of my imagination so I have not done much research for it.
"Dinner would be great."
"Well it's settled then", said Fa Zhou. "Captain, if you stay for dinner, you don't have time to ride back tonight so you might as well stay the night. Mulan, why don't you show the Captain to our guest quarters?"
Shang bowed his assent and followed Mulan to the west wing. He felt extremely awkward. He found himself unsure of how to relate to Mulan now that he knew she was a woman. He was so used to treating her like one of the men. And he knew that she could fight and think like a man too. He certainly couldn't treat her like those silly painted-dolls who giggled behind their fans at him. She was too…
"Here we are", Mulan's soft tones pierced his thoughts like an arrow.
She slid open the doors revealing a comfortably sized room adorned with simple, practical furniture. In the centre was a large bed. A small table and stool were neatly placed in the far corner, while a wardrobe with ornately carved doors leaned against the far wall.
"Make yourself comfortable while I get you some bed linen", Mulan said with a smile. She seemed quite at ease.
"Thanks", mumbled Shang as he entered the room. He placed his helmet on the table and sat down. Should he remove his armour? After all, they were just having a small meal. I was probably silly to wear the armour anyway, he thought to himself. Who was I trying to impress? "Mulan" came the faint answer from a faraway corner of his mind. He began to remove the pieces of his armour and hang them in the closet.
Rap. Rap. Rap.
"Eerrr… just a minute!" Shang called out. It would be quite awkward for someone to walk on him halfway through removing his armour, even though he wasn't completely undressed. He quickly whipped the rest of it off, throwing them on the bed and checked that he was neat. "Eerrrr… you can come in now".
The door opened revealing Mulan with bed linen in her arms.
"Um, can you move your armour so I can make the bed?" asked Mulan with a cheeky smile.
"Oh! Sorry…" Shang flushed. Snatching up the offending pieces of armour he stuffed them quickly into the wardrobe, but when he tried to close the doors, the pieces kept spilling out. He fumbled with them a few times, grabbing them again and again and throwing them in but still something would bounce out before he could close the door. The captain of China's finest troops had suddenly become very clumsy.
"Here let me help you." And Mulan was there, hanging the armour neatly on the hangers before closing the doors. She smiled at him with a gleam in her eye. He smiled awkwardly at her and looked away. His heart had begun to beat uncomfortably fast when she looked at him.
"What's wrong, Shang?" inquired Mulan, half-teasing. "Are you afraid of me now?"
"Eerrr… I guess… umm… I'm just not sure… how I should treat you. As a man or as a women…" Shang trailed off, searching for words.
Mulan laughed and began to make the bed. "Just treat me the same as you did before. I'm the same person that you knew. Ping was just Mulan in a man's dress."
"So… you won't be offended if I don't treat you the way men are supposed to treat girls?" Shang asked tentatively.
"Well, I'm not really like other girls…" sighed Mulan, remembering her test at the matchmakers.
Shang smiled, "That's true", he said. She was certainly like no other girl he had ever met. Although, it did not make her any less feminine. As they talked she deftly shook out the clean sheets and blankets, tucking everything neatly around the mattress and arranging the pillows. Shang noticed a number of mannerisms that he had noticed with Ping. They really are the same person, he thought to himself.
"Dinner is at 6," she informed him when she had finished. "Don't be late!" this with a grin.
Shang watched her walk away. She had a very feminine walk. How had he not noticed that with Ping? And her facial features were far from masculine… Truly it will be very hard to treat her the same as he did Ping. He could not ignore the fact that she was a woman. And for some reason, her presence alone was enough to make it difficult for him to breathe. What is wrong with me? I didn't even feel this nervous when we faced the entire Hun army!
He was still deep in thought when the dinner gong rang. Mulan was waiting for him outside his door to show him the way. Dinner was another awkward affair. Fa Zhou asked a number of questions about the war, which Shang did his best to answer. But no matter how he tried to focus on his host, his eyes kept wandering to Mulan. Watching her eat. Watching her pour the tea. She had an unusual flush on her cheeks, probably from having the hot teapot so close to her. He could not believe that for so long he had thought this person was a man! Of course, she wasn't exactly as neat as most women were either. Fa Li and Grandma Fa were able to eat neatly without losing a single grain of rice from their bowls. Mulan, on the other hand, often had sauce on her face and rice dropping from her bowl to the table. He smiled inwardly. It was really quite endearing.
Mulan, however, was furious with herself. She had managed to act calm and normal around Shang earlier, even though her stomach was filled with butterflies and she could barely breathe. Now however, feeling his gaze on her she couldn't stop making a mess! She knew she was red and the more she thought about it the more red she became. She kept her eyes downcast for she knew that if her eyes met his she would blush even more.