Yupyup, here I am again. I seem to have gotten past some of my writers block... Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Anyhow, here's the obligatory author's note. Everyone, just pretend I'm writing something meaningful and good up here. Got it? Ok, thanks. :)

Onward!

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"Mulan! Hey-ouch, you little.... Mulan, can I get some help here?!" Shang scowled at the little dog. Little Brother had, for the past ten minutes, been leading Shang through a merry chase in the gardens. Little Brother sat his rump on the ground and looked up at the man with a dumb doggy grin. In his mouth was Shang's left shoe, drenched in slobber. When Mulan approached from the stable, what she saw was a (fully clothed) ruffled-looking captain staring down the tiny dog as though it were a Hun at the palace. She stifled a smile and walked up to stand at Shang's shoulder.

"Having problems?"

Mulan sauntered over to Little Brother and held out her hand. The dog happily dropped the shoe into it, then took advantage of the moment and ran his tongue all the way from her chin to her temple. Then he ran off in the direction of the Fa temple, where Fa Zhou was beginning his morning prayers.

Wiping her face with a fist, Mulan yawned as she stood. Turning, she found herself face-to-face with Shang. Well, more like, nose-to-chest. She was about a half an inch away from the captain. Looking up, she saw him staring down at her, meeting her eyes. There was something unreadable there, something odd. She could smell his scent, a sort of manly sweat tinged with earth and even a slight touch of flowers. After what seemed like a thousand lifetimes, she blinked and shook her head, taking a step backwards and holding out the soggy shoe. "Here you are, Shang. I....have to go help Mama with... something." With that, she turned and left at a hurried walk.

As Mulan walked away, she shivered slightly. Those odd sensations whenever she was close to Shang HAD happened before, but she'd always dismissed it as a schoolgirl crush. To see such alien emotions echoed in his eyes was almost encourage... but.. ~No, you fool girl. He was probably just confused as to why you were staring at him like a mooncalf. Get a grip.~

Mulan continued on to the house.

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Shang watched Mulan go, almost chuckling at her hasty excuse. Her mother had gone to the market that day and was not expected back until around noontide. He shrugged to himself, trying to squelch the flutteryness in his stomach. Being that close to Mulan, gazing down into her eyes and she to his, was almost... almost... something. He couldnt put his finger on it. It made him feel giddy and serious all at once. All of these emotions, combined, grew into frustration.

And there was no better way to combat frustration than physical exertion.

Shang caught himself before he called after Mulan for a spar session. Instead, he meandered over to the stables to where Khan was stabled. Shang and Khan had cultivated a mutual rivalry, and they tolorated each other. Shang had grown tired of endless drills, and decided to go for a little riding. Saddling the stallion, Shang led him out into the open grazing field (In my little world, the Fa's have a little pasture) and set him at paces. Trotting for a while, then set at a canter, and eventually to an all out run. The greenery whipped past his vision and he let himself flow with the rhythm of Khan's hooves as they sturck the ground.

That is, until the grass snake popped out of no-where. The grass snake was not large, but it was sudden and dark against the green of the grass and it was sufficient to spook Khan. The black horse reared, sending an unsuspecting Shang flying out into a needle-bush, whereupon he fell unconscious as the horse ran back to the stables.

Hearing the commotion from across the yard, Fa Zhou limped hurriedly over to the pasture fence. "Mulan! Mulan!" He called, knowing he would need help to get the large man into the house. "Mulan, come quickly!"

Mulan came darting out of the house, frightened by the urgency of her father's voice. He rarely, if ever, spoke in such a fashion, and never sounded so concerned. She and Fa Zhou hurried to where Shang lay.

"Mrnnnngh...," Shang moaned as he was carted inside and laid upon a bed. A large bump began swelling on Shang's temple. Fa Zhou had seen such like this before.

"Mulan, try to wake him up. He needs to stay awake for at least a few hours. He has a head wound, and that can be fatal if he is allowed to sleep. I'm going to warm some water and find some cloth."

Mulan gently touched the swollen bump on his head. His eyes twitched. She started gently slapping his cheek on the uninjured side of his face. "Shang! Wake up! Come on Shang, wake up..."

His eyes twitched again, and then ponderously opened. All Shand saw was a hazy blob surrounded by blinding light. The haze eventually formed into twin images of Mulan. Shang's brow crinkled slightly and he squinted, until the twin images coalesced into one form. "What happened...?" His words were slurred as though he were drunk.

"You need to stay awake. The horse threw you. Hush now, but dont go to sleep. I'll be right back." She made as though to get up, but Shang's hand closed clumsily on her own.

"No." He had a look of intense concentration on his face, and his vision kept darkening at the edges. "Ple..please.. stay." His hand tightened as Mulan sat.

He smiled. Even through his befuddlement, he enjoyed the feel of her hand in his. He thought her an angel come from the heavens. These thoughts didnt even strike him as odd or silly, being in such a state. Mulan sat, not knowing really what to do, until Fa Zhou entered with his warm water and a cloth to soak in it. His eyes traveling to where Shang gripped his daughter's wrist, his mouth twitched impreceptibly. "I see you were able to keep him awake."

Mulan blushed and rose, letting Shang's hand fall back to his chest. "I'll go help Grandmother with the chores... is he going to be alright?"

"Yes, daughter, he only has his wits addled by the fall. He should be fine by evening. Well, fine enough to be able to talk coherently, at least. Go on and help Grandma."

Mulan left Shang to her fathers administrations.

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I'll write the other half of the day some other time. My muse ran out of joice. :(

Oh ya, I realize this was rough and rather unpolished, but I'll try to be better with descriptions next time. :)

As always, reviews are welcome and greatly gratifying!

-Copper