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 ...
Shang leaned his elbow on his desk and rested his chin in one hand with a sigh. He had given up on trying to sleep hours ago, but was too distracted to do paperwork. He'd set it aside already and remained seated at the desk, pondering.
He was uneasy about the task that lay ahead. They had so little to go on, and it was an urgent and extremely sensitive mission. They had to succeed. It was the Emperor's daughter and if they blew it...
His stomach clenched into knots at the thought and he pushed it away for now.
He was worried about his men, too, and how they would fare in this. They hadn't even been at camp for a full day yet and the soldiers were already out of line. Today's brawl far surpassed the commotion and intensity of the fight that had occurred his first day of camp the last time he was here; caused it seemed, once again, by Ping and the three other original disasters that had turned themselves around to become his finest soldiers. He was going to be relying on those four; they were his officers and they deserved the rank they had earned by their valiant actions. But of course, they were still the same four goofballs unfortunately.
Then there was that fight he'd come upon between Ping and the other man, whose name he didn't know yet. He had no idea why his best lieutenant would already be fighting with a new recruit, and he had an uneasy feeling about that, too.
Ping was strange. There had always been something so elusive about him, and the small soldier had intrigued Shang from the moment he met him, if for no other reason than that on first impression he had thought the boy was a lunatic. Now he had the deepest respect for him, as a warrior and as a man. Ping had saved his life when they were in battle in the Tung Shao Pass, and it was due to the young soldier's brilliant, reckless strategies that they had managed to pull out of that hopeless situation and actually gain victory. Though Ping was his subordinate, Shang considered him a friend nonetheless.
'And now he's going to be my brother-in-law,' he thought with a chuckle.
He was somewhat relieved that his wedding would be postponed due to this new mission. Though he knew that marriage was something he had to go through, as did everyone, the idea of marrying a girl he didn't know made him uncomfortable. He didn't mind putting it off.
"Though everyone has to do it eventually," he muttered, sighing again.
The girl Mulan seemed pleasant enough. When their parents had met at the house and introduced them, he had wanted to ask her if she was related to Ping. 'Hua' wasn't a common surname like 'Li'. He never asked; he'd been too nervous and tongue-tied. She was beautiful, and there was such a coquettish expression in her eyes when she looked at him from behind that fan. His body seemed to freeze, he felt his face turn red and he forgot what he wanted to ask her; in fact, he seemed to forget how to even form a coherent sentence.
It bothered him somewhat that he could fight Huns but turned into such an inept fool around a little slip of a girl. He just hadn't been around girls much, at least not any his age. Many of the officers he knew went to brothels, but the idea of that had never appealed to him. And the way the girl had looked at him had just caught him off-guard. There was no shyness at all! She just looked coy. He wondered if maybe Ping had spoken to his sister before she met him and that was why she was so much more comfortable than he.
He hadn't brought up the betrothal to Ping. The boy probably knew already who his sister was marrying, and given their separate status in the army felt that it was not his place to talk about it with him. Shang supposed that without realizing it, he had refrained from mentioning it to Ping for the same reason. They were friends, but still commander and subordinate.
But knowing that Mulan was the sister of Ping at least put him somewhat more at ease. Maybe he didn't know her, but at least he knew and was friends with her brother, who was honorable, intelligent and a good man. If she was anything like him as a person, it wouldn't be so bad.
His eyes were beginning to droop eventually as he sat there thinking. He roused himself and stood up, extinguishing the flame in the lantern on the desk, then returned to his bed to finally sleep.
It was morning just before breakfast and Shang watched, eyes narrowed, as Ping and the new recruit Jun-Li stood at the edge of the forest alone and bickered again. He couldn't hear what they were saying, but he could see from their expressions that the discussion was heated.
He strode over to them the minute Ping began to shove Jun-Li. Jun-Li wasn't taking Ping's aggressiveness very seriously though; in fact, he was laughing.
"At attention, both of you," he commanded as he reached them.
They obeyed and Shang pointed to Jun-Li.
"You have mess duty for the next two weeks."
"What does that mean?"
"That means you have to get up two hours earlier than everyone else to help prepare breakfast, and then you have to help clean up, and quickly, so that you're not late for practice. You will learn to respect and obey your superior officers."
He pointed out Ping. "But what about...?"
"Lieutenant Hua is your superior officer," Shang interrupted, gazing at him pointedly. "Report to the cook so you can help serve. You start your mess duty now."
Jun-Li flashed a glare at Ping, then saluted and stalked off angrily.
Shang turned to his lieutenant and folded his arms, gazing intently at him. Ping looked quite upset.
"What is going on, Lieutenant Hua?"
"It's nothing, sir. I will endure any punishment you wish to bestow on me."
"I want to know what the story is between you and that recruit. He obviously antagonizes and provokes you. Why does he behave that way to you?"
"He's from my village, sir. We grew up together."
Shang raised an eyebrow.
"So he doesn't take you seriously as his commander because of that?"
"I guess," the boy answered, suddenly looking sullen.
He revealed nothing further and remained silent, standing at attention, his eyes meeting his commander's gaze firmly. Shang sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. He was beginning to get a slight headache after not sleeping very much the night before.
"Lieutenant Hua, I don't need to tell you how sensitive this mission is. You are my top officer, and I need you to be at your best."
"You'll have my best, sir."
"Alright, Lieutenant. You're free to go about your business until the troops are assembled for training."
"Thank you, sir."
"And, Lieutenant, for the next week, other than leaving for meals, for bathing and for training, you are confined to your tent."
Ping saluted him and hurried off into the forest.
Shang turned and went off to the mess tent. He wanted to observe Jun-Li more. The new recruit was a troublemaker and there was something very suspicious about him. Shang believed that he had become quite perceptive and skilled at reading people, and Jun-Li was definitely up to something.
He would have to keep a close eye on him.