Actions

Work Header

Fic: Contemplation in White

Work Text:

From his perch inside the Jade Palace, Shifu chose to look at the unmarred white snow blanketing the hills and trees instead of the children playing in the courtyard. He closed his ears to the sounds of laughing. He set his jaw and sat absolutely still.

Oogway caught the glance of a mischievously looking Tigress aiming a snowball at Shifu. He gave a tiny shake of his head and a serene smile. The girl pouted but turned away to run after the bunny who dared hit her with a snowball.

Shifu heard Oogway coming. His ears flicked. Other than that, he didn’t move.

Oogway laughed quietly and came to stand by Shifu’s side. “You will never find peace with your body as tight as a bow string, my friend,” he pointed out calmly.

Shifu jerked but didn’t turn to face Oogway. He determinedly watched the snow. He concentrated on the dazzling white. “I’m aware of that,” he ground out. “But every time I look at those children, I see his face.”

Oogway sighed. “It is natural to mourn for the innocent child that you loved. However, you must let go of this anger or it will make you bitter.”

“I don’t know how,” Shifu whispered raggedly.

“Yes, you do,” Oogway said placidly.

Shifu hugged his arms across his chest. “I know Tai Lung had to be stopped. I know he had to go to prison for his crimes. I know all of this but why does the thought of him there make something squeeze inside my chest so painfully?”

“Because you loved him,” Oogway answered compassionately. “And that is not weakness.”

Shifu’s lip curled into a sneer. “My love blinded me. I could not see the darkness in him. I wouldn’t listen to you. I wouldn’t listen to--” he stopped and abruptly shut his mouth.

“Tai Lung made his own choices and for that you are not responsible. You must let it go,” Oogway repeated.

Shifu jumped to his feet and turned his back to walk away. “You speak like it’s easy.”

Oogway put a hand on Shifu’s shoulder. “I never said that. Perhaps, it is time for you to take a trip, to help clear your mind.”

“Where?”

“Gongmen City. Is that not where your friend Rhino resides?”

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Thundering Rhino stood in the courtyard of the great palace. He took no notice of the snow falling upon him. He stared at the snow covered roofs of the city and the great harbor without really seeing.

“You are distracted today,” a voice said in amusement.

Rhino blinked to discover Lord Peacock standing beside him. He noticed the other leaning heavily upon his cane. “You should not be out in this weather, my Lord.”

Lord Peacock wore a royal blue robe with white designs of peacock eyes. He wore a hood over his head. He bristled and stood straight. “This robe is quite warm, thank you Master Thundering Rhino.” He lightly tapped Rhino with his cane. “I could say the same of you.”

“I do not feel the cold.” Rhino paused for a moment. He continued dryly, “I have a very heavy hide.”

Lord Peacock chuckled. “And some would say a very thick skull.”

Rhino’s mouth twitched. “Perhaps that is true as well.”

Lord Peacock stared up at Rhino for a long moment. “What thoughts have driven you from the warmth of my hall?” he asked solemnly.

Rhino stopped meeting Lord Peacock’s gaze. He returned to his study of the white city. “It is not my place to burden you.”

Lord Peacock tapped Rhino again with his cane. “This is your old friend asking. You have never given me cause to hesitate in relying on you. I would have you do the same.”

Rhino took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Shifu.”

Lord Peacock frowned. “And Tai Lung.”

“I saw the darkness in that boy,” Rhino said grimly. “When I tried to tell Shifu, we had angry words.”

“It’s hard when one discovers a beloved child has the seeds of darkness in his heart.” Lord Peacock shut his eyes and swallowed the lump in his throat. He opened his eyes again. “But the truth cannot be buried indefinitely.”

Rhino shivered. “I feel echoes of his pain and that sense of loss.”

Lord Peacock touched Rhino’s arm. “Your friend needs you.”

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The snow was light and steady, covering Shifu’s tracks almost as soon as he made them, yet he made good time. His traveling robes were warm yet light. He wore a hood over his head and he carried the simplest supplies.

He knew Rhino was nearby when he set foot in one of the small villages about half way between the Valley of Peace and Gongmen City. His feet seemed to have a mind of their own and took him to the local shrine. He hesitated when he saw Rhino meditating there.

Rhino felt the prickling sensation on the back of his neck. He raised his head. “Come out of the snow and join me, Friend.”

Shifu stepped under the pagoda. He pushed his hood off and shook the stray snow flakes from his fur. He smiled awkwardly. “It’s good to see you.”

Rhino inclined his head towards the shrine and got off the cold floor. He turned to face Shifu. His smile matched Shifu’s. “And you as well.”

Shifu gestured to the lone bench. “Shall we sit?”

Rhino nodded. He almost took up the entire bench but Shifu was small enough to fit comfortably against his side. “I’ve been on my way to see you.”

Shifu arched an eyebrow in surprise. “And I to see you.”

Rhino sighed in relief. “I am pleased to hear it. I was not sure if you would welcome the sight of me.”

Despite himself, Shifu relaxed against Rhino’s warmth. “I should not have reacted with anger.”

The tension drained from Rhino’s shoulders. “And I should not have let your temper spark mine.”

“I’m sorry.”

Rhino nodded. “Me too.”

Shifu sighed heavily. “Is it wrong that I mourn for Tai Lung and what he could have been?”

Rhino curled his massive arm around Shifu’s body and cradled Shifu against his side. “No,” he answered softly. “But you can’t let thoughts of what might have been blind you to the present or hope for the future.”

Shifu shut his eyes. He let himself enjoy the warmth and Rhino’s familiar touch and scent. “I do not know how to let go,” he confessed wearily.

“You’ll know when the time comes and you’re ready,” Rhino answered softly, but firmly.

Shifu’s chuckle was short lived but real. “When you say it, somehow I believe it.”

Rhino smiled warmly. “My cousin owns a house here. He has invited me to be his guest for a few days. Would you care to join me and hopefully we can start your healing?”

“That would be most welcome.”