Categories > Movies > Mulan > The Betrothed0 Reviews
[AU] Mulan returned home after the war, her secret undiscovered, now preparing to marry the man that she was betrothed to as a child, who turns out to be Shang. Things get complicated when they're ...
Mulan turned to the voices and grinned as she saw her three friends approaching. She had just finished pitching her tent.
"Hey yourselves!" she laughed.
Quick, lanky Ling reached her first, slapping her on the back and guffawing. "I think we found the latest incarnation of you, Ping," he laughed, gesturing with his thumb toward one of the new recruits, a short, skinny young man with a baby face and wide eyes.
"Watch out, Ling. Don't make fun of Ping. He's a lieutenant and could put you in the brig," Chung, one of their comrades from last time, joked.
"We're all lieutenants," Ling snorted. "Me, Ping, Yao and Chien-Po. Show some respect; we're your superiors now."
Chung rolled his eyes. "Who would have ever thought you four goofballs would become lieutenants?"
"Hey, who're you calling goofballs?" Yao demanded, gruffly. Mulan noted that he still had a black eye from his last fight.
Chien-Po, ever the peacemaker, stepped between them. "The captain just came out of his tent. We need to line up."
The troop fell into line before Captain Li, who moved swiftly down the line authoritatively, shiny black hair neatly tied back in his usual top-knot, his red cape swirling behind him, looking as handsome as ever to Mulan. They couldn't have picked out anyone better for her. He was the bravest, most gorgeous man she had ever known, and she already cared deeply for him. It was going to be difficult to contain herself, knowing that the strapping captain would be her husband eventually. She suppressed a smile and made herself focus on his speech to the troop.
Shang looked the regiment over, giving each of the men tasks to be done that evening and setting forth his expectations of the troop. They were then dismissed for dinner, and everyone filed into the mess tent.
Mulan got her food and took a seat beside her three friends. Yao was already arguing with one of the new guys and Chien-Po was trying to stop them from coming to blows. Ling ignored all of them and scooted over to sit next to Mulan.
"So, how have you been, Ping?"
"Okay. It was nice to be home, but too short. How about you?"
"Well, I was hoping to get myself hitched after the war was over, but I guess that has to wait now. What about you, Ping?" Ling elbowed her. "When are you getting married?"
"Hey, I know you!" came an astonished-sounding and very familiar voice.
Mulan turned to the man that it had come from with dread. Her childhood friend Jun-Li grinned at her.
"You remember me, don't you?" he teased. "I live in your village. You're..."
"Lieutenant Hua," she interjected quickly.
Yao was suddenly there, his attention drawn by Jun-Li. "This is Hua Ping. He's a lieutenant and your superior, as am I."
"Hua Ping?" Jun-Li repeated, cocking his eyebrow at Mulan.
"Yes, Hua Ping," she replied, looking at him pointedly.
The guy who was with Jun-Li began to laugh. "Your parents named you Hua Ping? That is the funniest thing I ever heard!"
"Shut up, punk," Yao retorted. "Don't you be making fun of Ping. He's one of your commanding officers."
"It's Rou-ping," she corrected the guy, fixing Jun-Li with a meaningful look indicating that he should keep his mouth shut. "Ping is just for short."
The guy snorted at Yao and pointed his thumb toward Mulan. "That skinny little soldier is my commanding officer?"
Mulan stood up and began to approach him menacingly, ready to fight him for insulting her.
Meanwhile, Ling dipped his chopsticks into his bowl, removing a blob of rice with them and flinging it at Jun-Li's friend.
It was hard to tell exactly what happened next. The closest Mulan could figure was that Ling missed Jun-Li's as-yet-unidentified friend when he ducked out of the way and the rice hit the guy sitting behind him. That guy must have turned around and flicked food back at Ling, and at the same time Jun-Li's pal attacked him for throwing food at him. Yao stepped forward to take him on, itching to pound the tar out of /someone/. The next thing she knew, Yao and the guy were beating each other up and there was food being flung toward her from every direction. She was about to duck, but got hit in the face with a large ball of rice. Perturbed, she promptly retaliated, dipping her chopsticks into her bowl, picking up a large chunk of food and flicking it back at the culprit.
It wasn't very long before food and bodies were flying without any control. Mulan found herself crawling on the ground, trying not to get kicked by the flailing legs and flying fists or trampled underneath the fifty some-odd bodies of cursing, brawling soldiers. At least this had caused enough of a distraction to stall Jun-Li before he said too much about her real identity. She would have to have a talk with him.
She felt something land on her back and rolled over with a start. The mess tent had collapsed on top of all of them. She raised one hand and pushed the tarp up away from her head so she could see where she was going and began to drag herself with her other hand toward what looked like an opening, hoping to escape from the commotion. She found herself at the feet of a very annoyed-looking Shang. He had snatched up one end of the canvas and was glaring down at the tangle of bodies scrambling over one another underneath it.
"Soldiers!" he shouted out.
The entire pile of men froze immediately as they realized that the tent had been lifted and their commanding officer was standing there. Mulan looked down and saw that she was covered in rice and the evening's entrÃ©e, as was the rest of the company.
"Alright, the party's over. Everyone out," Shang called out, sternly. "At attention!"
They all began to crawl out from under the tarp, standing and lining up at attention before their captain. The Emperor's scrawny, smarmy councilman Chi Fu stood back a few feet behind the captain, looking smug as usual.
"They started it," a bunch of the men grumbled, pointing at Mulan and her three friends.
"I don't care who started it! You were all involved!"
Shang stood before the line of men, leaning his weight on one foot, arms folded, his face stern. He ordered that they spend the night cleaning up every speck of food. Then he barked out to Mulan and the other three lieutenants.
The four of them stepped forward.
"When tonight's task is completed I want to see all four of you in my tent. After you clean yourselves up," he added, disdain lacing his voice.
"Yes, sir," the four of them answered.
"Now, all of you get to work. I want every single grain of rice picked up before morning. And get that tent pitched again."
He turned on his heel, leaving them all to their task.
"I don't need the four of you causing trouble in my camp again. You are lieutenants now!"
Shang had been reprimanding them in his tent for at least ten minutes.
"I expect each one of you to behave in a way that is fitting of an officer of the Imperial army. Is that understood?"
He finished dressing them down and took a seat behind his desk. "At ease."
The four of them took a relaxed stance.
"I will be relying on the four of you throughout this mission and you will be sharing the task of training the new recruits. I don't want another such incident in my camp. You must set a good example and behave like officers. I know that you are capable of that. You all proved yourselves above everyone else in our last campaign together."
They were dismissed with very little information about the mission ahead, other than they had only a few weeks to get the new recruits in shape for whatever that mission was.
"Lieutenant Hua," Shang addressed her as they were turning to leave. "Please remain."
Her three friends glanced back at her and gestured that they would see her later. She nodded, feeling apprehensive. Had big mouth Jun-Li somehow gotten to Shang already and spilled her secret? She took a deep breath and remained standing at ease before her commander, waiting to hear what he had to say, her stomach beginning to clench.
"Have a seat, Ping," he said, gesturing.
Mulan took her place across the desk from him.
"I want to make you my second in command for this mission. You have proved yourself to be an excellent warrior."
"Thank you, sir," Mulan answered, feeling her face flush with pride but forcing herself to keep as stoic an expression as she could muster.
"You are extremely shrewd and brave in battle, and your talents will be needed. I can't tell you all of the details, because I don't know everything yet, but this mission is of the highest importance. The Emperor's daughter is missing."
Mulan stared at him, shocked. "Missing? Does anyone know what may have happened to her?"
He shook his head. "We have suspicions about who might be involved, but we're still operating almost completely in the dark. We need to get the troops prepared as soon as possible. There are many in the Imperial City who are working to figure out what may have happened to her. Chi Fu is the liaison between the city and our camp. But you won't have to deal with him," he added, probably noting her expression of distaste. "I will be."
Shang was silent for a moment, suddenly fidgeting nervously.
"Sir? If you don't mind me asking, has there been a ransom demand?"
He shook his head, his eyes troubled, and sighed. "That would have at least given us something to go on."
She nodded, frowning with concern.
"Ping," he began again after a minute.
"Are you by any chance related to a Hua Mulan?"
Mulan was caught off-guard for a moment. She quickly regained her composure and did some fast thinking.
"Yes, sir. She's my twin sister."
She waited for him to continue, but he just stared down at his desk for a few moments, looking thoughtful.
"Was there anything else, sir?"
He looked up and shook his head. "No. You're dismissed, Ping."
Mulan practically jumped a mile in the air as she felt the hand on her shoulder. She whirled around to face Jun-Li.
"Don't call me that."
"The captain and the others have no idea, do they?"
She glanced around. They were several yards away from Shang's tent, fortunately, and they were somewhat hidden by several trees and bushes.
"No, and I'd like to keep it that way."
"Stop calling me that," she hissed. "I'm Rou-ping here, Ping for short."
"Rou-ping is only seven years old," he chuckled.
She glowered at him.
"Oh, come on, don't be such a hard head with me. We're old friends. I hear that you went to the matchmaker. Have you been betrothed to anyone yet?"
"Yes, and it isn't you."
He looked somewhat disappointed but he regained his composure. "No, I'm sure I'd know by now if it was."
"Listen, Jun-Li, you know what kind of condition my father is in and my brother is too young. I'm doing this for Father. As you said, you and me are old friends, we grew up together. Let this alone. It's my business, anyway."
He looked her up and down but said nothing.
Mulan folded her arms. "Well? What do you say?"
Now Jun-Li folded his arms,with a sly smirk. "And what's in it for me if I keep my mouth shut?"
She fixed him with a steely gaze.
"Well, I need some incentive."
"Well, it's not going to be /that/, Jun-Li."
"Hey, I take that as an insult! You have a dirty mind, Mulan! I mean, /Ping/," he corrected himself, catching her angry glare.
Her foot began tapping, impatiently. He scratched his chin, pondering, then grinned at her mischievously.
"Let's go to your tent and talk about it."
"Ha, ha, very funny."
"No, I'm serious. How about just a kiss?"
"I'm not in a joking mood, Jun-Li."
He moved forward to kiss her and she socked him in the jaw. He crashed to the ground on his back and she took a defensive stance, ready to fight him when he got up. Only he didn't move.
"A glass jaw. That figures," she scoffed.
She placed her foot on his shoulder and shook him. He stirred after a minute, opening his eyes with a groan, and his hand went up to rub his jaw.
"Get up, you disgusting pig."
"Mulan..." he began, not moving.
She kicked him.
"Stop calling me that."
"Does your father know?"
"Of course he knows, you idiot."
"He let you do this? For real?"
"Yes, for real."
Jun-Li made a sudden movement to grab her leg and he pulled her down on top of him. They wrestled, rolling over and over. Mulan was a better fighter than him and she gained the advantage quickly, managing to get on top. She pressed her knee into his chest and pinned him so he couldn't move. He tried to use his superior strength to throw her off, but she knew how to use her body weight to incapacitate him and his attempts were in vain.
"If you say anything about me, I will deny it up and down. And these are my friends here. I'll tell them that you're lying about me to cover up the fact that you're a /boy/-lover."
"Do we have an agreement or not?"
"Man, you are mean since you've been in the army."
"Do we have an agreement or not?" she repeated, still straddling him, hoisting him up by the shirt collar the way she'd seen Shang do to many people, including her when she first came into his camp.
"What is going on?" came the commanding voice of Shang.
Mulan released her opponent's shirt and he dropped back onto the ground. She scrambled off of him and stood up, snapping to attention before her captain. Jun-Li stood up slowly, dusting himself off.
"You, report back to your tent," Shang ordered Jun-Li. "I will deal with you in the morning."
He saluted awkwardly and disappeared, glancing back quickly at Mulan.
Shang turned to her, arms folded, his dark eyes practically burning a hole into her face. "Lieutenant Hua, what is this? What was I just saying to you not fifteen minutes ago?"
She remained silent.
"Why were you brawling with that recruit? Didn't you have enough earlier?"
"It won't happen again, sir."
He gazed at her steadily. "It shouldn't have happened this time, Lieutenant."
She kept her eyes straight ahead, feeling her face become hot with anger and humiliation.
"Ping, you had earned my utmost trust and respect. Don't make me regret that I gave that to you."
She felt her throat begin to constrict at that.
"We will be starting early tomorrow morning. You should be getting back to your tent so you can get some sleep."
She saluted him and hurried off.