A / N: Alright! I was going to give you guys a cliffhanger but I realized that I haven't updated in about two weeks, so it was the least I could do. I was also going to make this chapter longer, but then I realized that you guys would be waiting another two weeks, and I didn't want to do that to you guys. I feel bad already, heh. Anyway! I'm feeling much better, so hopefully I can get back on top of things and update a tad bit faster, but per usual, no promises. Also, someone Icantrememberwhorightnow commented on the number under the chapter header and it is the word count. I found thought that it depends on what counter you use and yadda yadda blah dee blah, but for this one I actually typed it in the FF document editor and used that counter. For the others I used a random website. Sorry this beginning chunk is so long...it's 3:40am and I kinda got into it.
r: Any recognizable characters do not belong to me, nor does Kung Fu Panda, Kung Fu Panda 2 or any related works save for this fic of course. I'm just playin' with the characters and I'll put them back when I'm done :)
s: A n o n. . .A N O N! I can't reply to y ou y'know . And I gotta try to reply to everyone ;P
CauseIStoppedByAgain: Oh my goodness you made me laugh so hard with that! That's basically what he's thinking! If you're really agreeing with that then you should enjoy this chapter! Haha XD Ihopeyoudoanyway. Mmhm, yes, it's fun putting him out of his element and yeah, I don't think he ever really was on top of it. You did? :D I'm glad! I was having a hard time with that scene. It's a great idea! And I'm a sucker for cute! So like I said, it's gonna be happenin'! I actually set up for it in this chapter. Am I really getting better? I feel so lame sometimes, ha. And DUDE! Oogway and Shen would be-kjankjwfn! Someone has to write THAT! Oh damn...I feel like if I work it in notthewayIseeit it would come out all crappy. I'll do some hommage though because I love Oogway :]
Comrade: Why thank you. Haha, I'm only listing about a third of the reviewers because I can't PM a reply to your guys' comments, lol. BUT if you enjoy being listed here then huzzah! I enjoy writing this all up, haha. And to avoid dying, here is chapter VI!
Wolfbane Hemlock: I'm glad you think this fic here is 'cool', haha, and here's that update.
WiseScholar: No worries :] Things are getting a sort of adjusted balance. I'm glad you enjoyed the last chapter! And did it? Really? I hope that's a good thing. And you're kidding right? I was editing that second so much because I was so worried that Shifu sounded...wrong, BUT I'm glad you think I did a good job! I'm all accomplished right now, haha. You're right on the money man. That's pretty much it. Though personally I don't think love can develop that fast, not in this situation anyway, so maybe the early stages of that, yes. Oh damn. I love your theory! I really do. I love talking about things like this but in short, I fully agree, but I think Shen likes to force pain on others so they can feel an ounce of what he feels all the time, he wants them to suffer like he does. And I may be going out on a limb here but the way I see it, Shen does want to be close to someone and he wants his parents to love him but he's in a sort of...denial, like, he can't accept it, not now anyway, but somewhere in there he NEEDS to be loved, and not by fangirls, haha. (That was a long response, haha.) They haven't...and I wrote this chapter before re-reading your review, so enjoy! This is true, but Shen wasn't there ;) True, but that's where the fic writing comes in, plus, I love peaches, so yeah, heh. I couldn't resist.
Shadow of Darkness 22: Really? Aw, that makes me feel not so bad for having a crummy month and updating so slow. Ugh. I;m really glad you enjoyed though! Haha, no worries! We all have those moments! Oh don't worry! I've got it all planned out...like...I have the ending written up already, lol. But I look forward to writing the change and seeing how you guys will like it.
Winterwhip: Another new face? O_o WELCOME! I'll admit, sometimes people's honesty is discouraging. It's not really a crack pair is it? I mean...it's not cannon but it's not like I'm doing a miserable job either XD That said, I'm glad you're enjoying this despite your initial reaction. I've heard that one once before so I'm glad I can reach readers that aren't even fond of the pairing as well as improve on each chapter. Lastly, yes, I know, I'm not error-proof and a lot of mistakes can be EASILY fixed if I re-read the chapters, but alas, I am lazy and reading the same thing over and over and over andoverandoverandoverandover gets to me x_x So I'm still open for a beta, but I hope the story isn't majorly affected by my mistakes, heh.
Again, reviewing means a lot guys, so thanks agin to EVERYONE. You've all been a BIG help.. .. ..
A reviewer said I shouldn't worry about characterization because I've pretty much got them down pat, but I'm such a big fan of the franchise that I shall CONTINUE to be concerned about dialogue, thoughts and motions for the characters. I can't help it.
(Also, thank you everyone that is favoriting this story!)
Can I do an honorable mention thing right hur? I'm the author, so I can. I wanna thank Charlie B. Barkin for PMing me and encouraging/reminding me to update this fic. I have no idea where this story, you guys, or I would be without this guy. So thanks :]
This fic does contain some SPOILERS.
"It's settled. Crane will begin teaching you tomorrow."
Was there absolutely no way for tomorrow to come any slower? Well, unfortunately not, but there was a way for Shen to delay the day and that was simply to stay in his room. Lucky for him he did not see Crane anywhere when he awoke.
Now all he had to do was stay here for the remainder of the day. That shouldn't be too difficult.
The snow white bird scraped his talons along the floor mat before he walked across the room to look out the window. It was a cloudy day and Shen knew that the rains would be coming soon. At this, the young Lord's features fell into a slight frown. It wasn't that he disliked the rain, it was just...troublesome. His train would get dirtied by the mud, as a peachick it was something he enjoyed but now...there was no room for that. For a second, the bird thought back to his once beautiful train, but before he had the opportunity to dwell too much on it he blinked. His red eyes narrowed slightly as the wind blew, sending a slight breeze into the room then suddenly Shen jumped at a noise in the corner.
He whirrled around, fully expecting it to be the Dragon Warrior or even Viper, but neither were. What he saw was something...familiar. A small wooden box and a canvas. Now the particular items were not things he had seen before, but something like it...yes. His parent had given him these items when he was younger.
Shen blinked and cocked his head as his ruffled feathers set back against his body and he approached the items that were against the wall. The small box wasn't closed all the way and a brush had fallen out.
White feathers reached out for the box and he let it fall open in his grasp. It was a simple calligraphy set, six brushes and two bottles of ink. Ruby hues blinked and the bird picked up the brush from the floor and set it back in its place.
"There now," he muttered, feeling a sense of self approval. As if he accomplished something.
Setting the box aside, Shen reached for the canvas that was covered with slight curiosity. The tips of his feathers stroked the soft matrial and just as he was about to grab it for a closer look-
"Shen? Are yo-"
"H-how dare you? Can't you..." the peacock fumbled for his words as he stared widely at the crane before him, "knock?"
Crane made a face that made it clear that he was amused but trying to hide it. He didn't do a great job at it. Still, he brought his wing to his lowered beak in an attempt to stifle a laugh. Could he be helped? The image of Shen doubling back and nearly falling over was sort of funny.
"Actually, this is my room," he noted, as he had a few times before.
"That doesn't matter," Shen said. It was obvious he was lacking ground to stand on with his argument.
"..." Crane just looked at him before shifting his wings at his side and absent scratching his chest with his foot. "So," he started, his wings giving a slight flutter as he perked up, "you like calligraphy?"
Crane figured that this was a good addition to Shen's growth, not to mention that it was benificial for him to. Calligraphy was a bit of a hobby for him and he had attempted to share it with Po when he had first arrived. The session to say the least was...counterproductive. The panda had simply drawn the Five in battles and many of his own imaginary enemies.
He had to admit though, it was funny.
Any thought, though, that he had of sharing this hobby with Shen was smashed when the peacock answered with a curt, "no."
Crane had to take a moment to recover before he tilted his head, "oh...I thought maybe you were," he motioned his wing toward the set on the ground, "the way you were looking at them..." his voice trailed off in hopes that maybe Shen would jump in with something, but when he didn't, the crane continued, "dooo you wanna know what that one says?"
His tone was lite and hopeful. He knew Shen was curious, the other bird was reaching for his canvas, but he also knew that Shen was a stubborn one, that the other would not admit to his own curiosity.
"I don't care what it says," the peacock lied as he turned his head away.
The events of the night before were still in the forefront of his mind. The dinner they all had together, the annoying way the other bird smiled at him, and Shifu. The red panda had told him that he would find inner peace when he could move on. To not forget the past, but accept it, and that Crane would help him to do it. This must be what the bird was here for but Shen was not about to ask him outright.
"Well...when you do," Crane started, "you can go ahead," he gave his head a slight shake as he smiled, "I don't mind."
"Doubtful," Shen said flatly. His gaze, though, remained on the wall.
The silence stretched between them and it slowly became thicker to the point where Shen thought that maybe he had said something wrong. The idea was fleeting and breif. He didn't care what he said or how it affected the other. It was clear when Crane asked him if he was hungry that the warrior was not deterred by his less that cooperative nature.
Shen's beak parted to repeat himself with a 'no', but before he even got the chance to say anything his beak closed as a faint rumbling sounded from him. Crane gave him a smile and a knowing look as his wings shifted slightly. The white bird instantly glared down to his stomach before he looked back up to the other with a frown. It was true that he was hungry, but he was still reluctant to go along with the crane.
"Well, come on, we don't want you starving," he said as he gentured for Shen to follow him.
The peacock watched as Crane walked through the door until he disappeared. For a second he was going to simply stand there but another growl from his stomach finally got his feet moving after the other. It was relatively quite in the bunks where they were all staying and Shen wondered for a second where everyone had suddenly died. The thought, like so many others as of late, was short and just that, a second. The chances of the ones keeping him here dying were very slim and proved wrong even more when Master Shifu met Crane and him at the end of the hall.
"Lord Shen," he acknowledged with a small nod before he turned to the crane, "Crane, I will need you to go with the others and travel to the next village, there has been disturbances reported."
"What kind?" It was clear to Shen that Crane was concerned.
"Thefts, break-ins, missing people...I fear there is more to this than we know," Shifu said absently as he looked away, deep in thought.
"Master, what about-"
"Tigress will remain here," he said, cutting Crane off before he complete his sentance, "I have told the others already, you will go to the villiage and try to find out more and then return back to the palace."
Shen was beginning to get the feeling that Shifu knew more than he was letting on and he found his own curiosity begining to peak.
"Yes Master Shifu," Crane said as he brought his wings together and bowed.
Shifu gave a nod then spoke again, "If you are ready," he sarted as he walked to the courtyard, "the others are prepared to leave."
Crane looked back to Shen who was still standing in the hall before following the red panda outside, "I am."
Shifu stood on the stairs as Crane walked off before he looked back to the albino bird, "Lord Shen, I trust you remember how to get to the kitchen," he offered a smile, "You may eat," it was clear by his tone that he knew that the bird was hungry and that annoyed Shen almost as much as the Soothsayer did. Knowing and right .
The peacock came down the stairs and just as he was about to head toward the kitchen an annoying voice caused him to tense up. It was the Dragon Warrior shouting about something and Shen did not care to stop and figure out just what he was going on about. Instead, he proceeded into another building on the palace grounds and he sighed. Being around the Five, Shifu and the panda was wearing on him. Being in his current state as well as not being able to give commands and orders, being feared, had him out of his element. Suddenly he thought of his boss wolf. He had no idea what triggered the thought but he was quick to dismiss it. There was no room for recollecting insubordination. Not now.
White feathers pushed the sliding door aside and his scarlet eyes widened slightly, his feathers raised a bit as he spotted Tigress.
"Why aren't you with the others," he all but spat out. He couldn't help the tone he used, nor did he want to. He knew this feline was aggressive, not more so than himself, but she was not an opponent to take lightly.
"I don't have to answer to you," she said calmly in a matter of fact tone from her place at the table.
Shen's eyes narrowed into a glare as he looked from her to the plate across from her. Peaches.
"Crane cut them for you, Po would have eaten them," she said absently before she took a bote of the dumpling held between her chopsticks.
The bird continued to stare at the cut fruit before he approached the table and inspecting the plate. His head cocked to the side and he was sure that the dish was poisoned, but he took a seat anyway. Once he was seated comfortably he leaned in closer before he sat up and caught Tigress' stare.
"Do you mind?"
"It's not poisoned," she said flatly before taking a drink from her cup, "Crane wouldn't do that."
Shen got the feeling that there was more to that, that she held back 'but I would'. Perhaps not, but Shen knew, that given the chance, he would poison them all. It would be marvelous.
"You would," his tone was sure, with hidden curiosity. Would one of Shifu's precious warriors do something like that?
His eyes widened and his beak opened before closing, surprised at her audacity. Tigress' tone was more level then Shen was comfortable with and he couldn't help to ask, "did you?"
"How do I know you're not lying," he said as he tilted his head up and eyed her. It was decided, Shen did not like the feline.
"Well, you'll just have to trust me," she pointed out before she took her bowl and cup to the small wink and set them inside, "I'm going to train."
The peacock watched as she walked back to the table, pushed in her chair, gave a nod and then walked out of the room.
Trust her. He was supposed to trust her. Shen's gaze went from the doorway to the plate set before him and the eight pieces of sliced peaches that innocently rested on it. The peacock was not good with others, he had no need to be, but being here at the Jade Palace he found himself picking up on the other's characteristics and habits so to speak. He had an idea of each of them, some more than others and now he realized he knew nothing of the female and that annoyed him even further. As far as he knew, she would poison him the first chance she got, but from what he knew...the Dragon Warrior kept him alive this long. Had the panda not been able to keep Tigress at bay he'd likely be dead already. There was Po, and then Crane. Tigress said that the other bird had been the one to cut the fruit for him. Was that a lie too? This theory was written off when he thought back to when they were together earlier as Crane asked if he was hungry.
The peaches had not been out too long and he could only assume that Crane cut them and then went to his room the get Shen to eat. Now, though, he had a choice; trust that Tigress did not poison his food, trust that Po's intentions on salvaging him initially wasn't just do die, or trust that Crane would not let him be poisoned. He could always search for more peaches but he knew the walk would be long in his current condition. Shen was healing, there was no doubt about that, but he knew that it was best not to over exert himself. Still, putting his trust in his options did not sit well with him at all.
Pale feathers braced his frame against the table fore he got to his feet and walked out of the kitchen. There was no chance that he was going to begin trusting any of them.