KFP: Tales of a ticklish tiger

BY : StareIntoTheAbyss
Category: +G through L > Kung Fu Panda
Dragon prints: 730
Disclaimer: Disclaimer: As the author of this work, I'd like to make clear I don't own the cartoon(s) that this fanfiction is based on, nor any of the characters from it. I don't own The Kung Fu Panda Fandom or make any money from writing this story.

KFP: Tales of a ticklish tiger

Prologue

 

Ugh, man, you really blew it this time! Seriously! Nice going, panda, how do you plan to miraculously fix this mess, huh?!—

 

Let it be clear: if someone were to walk in on the present scene...they'd probably not be entirely surprised or concerned; it wasn't the first time to be seen and more likely than not it wouldn't be the last. In fact, to some degree, it was a common occurrence for most of the animals who had lived long enough around the place and the author of the frustrated thoughts that were previously shown.

 

After all, for all his growth and awesomeness...Po Ping, the Dragon warrior, made mistakes quite often; and like any good male, knew to take responsibility for them (or, you know, at least the important ones). Problem was, deep thought and planning were NOT his thing; never had been and never would be. He excelled in thinking on the fly and his crafty, unorthodox solutions yielded acceptable results whilst in the heat of battle more often than not. But when it came to designing schemes that required care to ensure a high probability of success...it was almost a fact he'd end up stuck and wishing to rip his fur out of stress. Like right now.

 

But, hey! At least no one could say he didn't try!

 

—It's going to be two weeks already! Who knows how much longer she, and less importantly I, can stand it?!— He thought anxiously as he rubbed his face in frustration and his feet kept him moving around in an endless loop that threatened to carve a trench through the Hall of heroes' pristine floor.

 

By now, all of you must be wondering just what the hell happened this time in the ever eventful life of China's most powerful warrior. In simple terms? Relationship issues; although, perhaps a tad predictively, not of the standard variety whatsoever. You see, after the traumatic events of Gongmen city, a certain tiger master and himself began to grow closer to one another; going from good friends to best friends and then, as of almost a year ago, romantic partners. The transition had been a little bit bumpy at times, but their desire for the wholeness and complementarity they provided and received from their better half always pushed them to persevere and improve in their new relationship.

 

Everything had been going smoothly...until twelve days prior when he opened his big, fat mouth.

 

He remembered it so clearly (which WAS saying something, considering how slippery his mind could be at times). Tigress and he had been sent to a nearby village to pick up some special herbs Master Shifu had requested for some private, Grandmaster, kungfuey thing that he probably wouldn't understand even if the red panda had taken the time to explain it. The trek had started just fine, with both of them walking at a steady pace that would have them make a good time to their destination while not being too taxing (for him); alternating between lapses of random chatter and comfortable silences the whole time.

 

It was during one of the latter that he'd had the brilliant idea of trying to grab his girlfriend's paw. Why the sarcastic stress on the word 'brilliant' you ask? Well, first of all, because he'd known beforehand that back when Tigress had agreed to enter a relationship with him she'd established with absolute finality there couldn't be any PDA during a mission "No matter how small"; he'd just assumed that since they were going through the freakin bamboo forest by themselves, it would've been ok. And second, because he also knew for a fact his beloved feline wasn't very knowledgable when it came to physical displays of affection and, thus, any new experiences had to be started by her or done AFTER she'd been put under notice and she'd given undeniable consent. For this point, he supposed he'd gotten so used to their courting advancing well, he simply had...overlooked the fact they hadn't held paws before. EVER.

 

She took the action in stride at first, shifting her paw away from his so smoothly it almost seemed on reflex; in fact the only reason he'd known she was actively rejecting his approach was because it'd taken him several attempts to so much as come close to grazing her paw. Still, he was known to be quite a stubborn fella, so he kept at it 'til he finally achieved his objective...for about half a second before she wrenched her paw away.

 

From then on things went downhill...er, well, sorta. Sure, she blew up a little while asking him what the hell he thought he was doing and the abrasive-ish attitude he took to answer her certainly didn't help matters, but they fortunately reached their destination before the argument could escalate to overly hazardous proportions; regardless of the size though, the damage had been done and they spent the following hours of the mission not speaking to one another beyond what was absolutely necessary.

 

Later on, at night after they'd set up camp on their way back to the Palace, both of them were extremely more calm and he tentatively approached her in order to patch things up; he apologized for what he did, sincerely 'cause by then he already had reached the aforementioned conclusions on what his faults were, and she responded in kind for her volatile reaction. Having taken the first step, once she gave her permission, they proceeded to cuddle for a while to make up for the distant manner in which they'd acted for most of the day.

 

It was there, surrounded by that comfortable atmosphere of love and intimacy, that events unfolded to create the awkward situation they currently found themselves at. In short, he decided to take a risk and asked her why she had freaked out over something so basic as paw-holding; even with her emotional quirks and inhibitions, he'd found it odd.

 

To say she'd been reluctant to share would be a huge understatement, but he persisted until he coaxed a response out of his feline, although this time being extra careful to not prompt a new outburst on her part. Voice tinged with embarrassment and cheeks slightly flushed, the mighty Master Tigress confessed that she didn't want to hold paws because she actually feared hurting him if she ever were to have a slip up with her enormous strength; considering she'd all but destroyed the nerve endings in her paws, it was a very real possibility to her. Besides, the fact she couldn't enjoy such a simple show of affection, was unable to feel the warmth of their connection, kinda bummed her out and made the action feel pointless.

 

Touched by her sincerity, as well as partly amused at such a silly insecurity coming from her of all people, he tried to soothe away her worry; telling her she had his complete trust and that they could practice at her own pace until her uneasiness went away. Too bad the tiger master was adamant on not even risking the chance of bringing him senseless harm and refused to budge so much as an inch. He insisted, with caution, a bit more but she still became irritated and ended up snapping at him; asking why it was so DAMN important that they held hands.

 

Now it was his turn to feel shy as he, after a little hesitation, decided to be honest as well and told her about the fact he'd always been intrigued by the action. He hadn't had many (or any) friends while growing up, much less a girlfriend, 'cause the other younglings of the village were either intimidated by his size or disgusted by his body shape, so he'd always wondered what it would be like; to have someone care enough about him that they wanted others to constantly acknowledge the fact by using such a subtle but meaningful gesture.

 

By the time he finished explaining, his mood had gone kind of down over the depressing memories and he suddenly felt the weariness of the day's events hit him full on. So, sending his wide-eyed girlfriend a wistful smile and apologizing for trying to push her again, he quickly nuzzled her cheek and promptly went to sleep. The next day, the topic wasn't brought up again by either of them on the way back home, although he noted Tigress seemed to be quite contemplative the whole time, nor during the rest of the day once they were back in the Palace.

 

It was the NEXT morning when the strangeness fully began. He woke up at the sound of the gong as usual and greeted Master Shifu along with the others, then they all went to have breakfast before it was time to go train. Tigress positioned herself beside him all the way to the kitchen, constantly making their shoulders and arms brush against one another much to his surprise and full on rubbed against him with an audible chuff as they went through the door. As if that wasn't astonishing enough, she did so without caring the rest of the Furious Five could see her; although she obviously felt uncomfortable when they all froze to gawk at her.

 

Of course she'd caught him off guard, but he recovered quick and saved her from further embarrassment by clearing his throat to snap the rest out of it so they could get a move on. His feline sent him a grateful smile and he returned it along with a single nod of the head, even if what he really wanted to do was look at her questioningly. Her affectionate attitude continued throughout the day, all the way to nighttime when she sent him to bed with a slightly heated goodnight kiss.

 

Now, he'd be lying if he ever said he didn't enjoy her shows of affection...but even he felt a little put off when the next day came around and the tiger master's displays kept going. Still, being the laid-back guy Po was, he shrugged it off as best he could once more.

 

Said resilience lasted a total of five days before he honestly started to feel freaked out and his over-active imagination started coming up with conspiracy theories and evil plots that could've caused his awesomely stoic girlfriend's change in behavior. Thus he dedicated himself to observe her, more carefully than he'd done for most things in life, until he could pin down what the issue was.

 

Surprisingly, it didn't take him that long to do so; he might be absent minded pretty much always, but this was the woman he loved, she was worth the effort. So, two days later, he noted just how awkward Tigress looked every time she pulled one of her "stunts" and how much she seemed to force their little moments to occur. It was more than obvious she wasn't enjoying it and, as far as he knew, THE Master Tigress would never do anything she felt uncomfortable doing.

 

Now the question was...why was she doing it? What motive did she have?

 

Again, the answer was easy to find (damn, he was on a roll!): she did those things for him because of the little sob-story he told her back on the mission. Or, at least, that was his theory; her trying to "make up" for denying him his teenage yearning by showering him with affection without actually pushing past her own insecurity sounded like something Tigress would do. And if he were indeed correct, he'd have to say it was a sweet gesture...but it just HAD to stop! When he entered this relationship he knew shows of affection from his partner would be rare, so her forced attitude was only making things stupidly weird. Not to mention no one could predict what sort of catastrophe would come out of it once the emotionally inexperienced woman got fed up with her own charade.

 

So now here he was, beating himself up after more than a whole freakin week of trying to find a solution without any results.

 

I bet anyone else would tell me I'm being stupid; to just go up to her and talk it out— The panda thought, grimacing as the last part's sarcastic tinge resounded inside his head —But they don't know Tigress like I do; the point to which she hates being told one of her decisions is wrong, especially when there's no risk of anyone dying or something serious like that because of them, can be seriously ridiculous. Besides, she'd probably end up assuming I'm trying to coddle her 'cause of her inexperience handling emotions, which would only piss her off more. Not to mention the high probability of me putting my foot in my mouth half-way through the discussion once her anger reaches a certain point...—

 

The variables just kept coming and coming for what felt like the millionth time since he first tried to figure out a solution for his little situation; accumulating inside his brain until it felt about ready to burst. Seriously! Why couldn't there be an easy fix for this! Or at the very least a surefire method to make his awesome but scarily and dangerously stubborn feline listen and ultimately convince her to desist her current M.O. before things could get out of hand?

 

—And to think when it comes down to it, all this happened because of her freakin hardcore paws! Man and to think I thought they were cool!— Po grumbled to himself.

 

Without any warning whatsoever, that's when inspiration struck him! An idea that, while so risky it would take a madman to employ it, kinda met all requirements and, with some good ol' Dragon warrior luck, just might be the sort of decisive action that turns things around in his favor. Besides, after spending so much time going in circles around the problem, he certainly was willing to make a wild gamble. After all it was something much more up his alley.

 

Now all he needed was to find a way to go about it...

 

 

XXX A week later XXX

 

 

Tigress hated to admit it, but she was starting to get a bit worried about her boyfriend. The goofy panda had been visibly tense for a while now and no matter what she tried it seemed to be impossible for her to figure out what the issue was. Now, as of the past couple of days, he seemed to have started to actually avoid her.

 

—Could it be I'M the problem, then?— She thought in trepidation as she entered the student barracks after a cathartic training session. The notion didn't manage to stick around for long, though, since she was quick to vanish it from her thoughts —That can't be it, I've been nothing but nice to him for the better part of a month. Heck! For all intents and purposes, I've been going well beyond the line of duty for a girlfriend the whole while! That panda should be kissing my feet for all the grief I've put myself through for his sake!— An irritated grimace came to her beautiful face as remembrance of all the constant affection she'd been giving her male up until recently flooded her mind. One would think after three weeks of acting in such a manner she'd have grown used to it, but nope! It still felt weird, unnatural, and annoying —And if me getting the cold shoulder is the thanks I get, I oughta just cut the moron off! Let's see how he likes that!—

 

Thoughts of such nature, although not quite as vindictive, had come to her psyche from the very first week she had started to make herself act disgustingly mushy with the black and white bear who had captured her heart...and yet, she knew very well she couldn't bring herself to stop. Not after finding out he was getting the short end of the stick in their relationship because of her stupid insecurities.

 

Let it be said the master of tiger style kung fu had no delusions about herself; she was perfectly aware she was NOT an easy woman to handle in a good day and she was lucky to have been given a male who could not only stand her fairly well, but actually enjoy her presence and make herculean efforts to genuinely accept and understand her peculiar personality. Being completely honest, ever since they started courting one another, Po had been the one to make the most concessions; sure his general way of thinking required he stays true to himself and not change just because someone else wants to, but that tended to be overwritten by his desire to make others happy (not the same thing…somehow). And her being his girlfriend had pretty much placed her at the very on top of that line of thought.

 

Sigh I definitely can't just cut him off— Tigress thought wistfully as her temper deflated while her steps took her down the hall towards the bedrooms —Oh well, it's not like the situation is totally bad. Po IS very cuddly, so that's a plus for continuous physical contact and besides, it wouldn't be the first time I...wait, what is that?— The striped feline's musings came to a halt when a delicious aroma entered her nostrils and her feet made a detour towards the kitchen almost subconsciously. Once she got to the door, her amber eyes caught sight of a lonely cup of gently steaming tea waiting on the table...with a folded piece of paper lying next to it —What in the world?—

 

Taking measured steps in its direction, she eyed the beverage a bit suspiciously until she reached the furniture and promptly grabbed the writing material to examine it. It didn't come as much of a surprise when she discovered it to be note after unfolding it; what DID catch her attention was the fact the messy symbols inside were easily recognized as belonging to the ursine she'd been thinking about previously, as well as the short message it gave:

 

"Tigress, I think it's about time we talked"

 

Those words quickly made the feline's surprise turn to a mild case of dread. She might have zero experience in romantic partnerships, but even the slowest person in the world knew that phrase could never mean something good. Still, surely it couldn't mean something disastrous, right? They'd been going superbly well before the past few weeks and Po wasn't one to just throw the towel out of the blue. It couldn't be all that bad, right? RIGHT?!

 

—OOOkay, Tigress, just calm the hell down. You're already half-panicking and you DO NOT panic— She muttered to herself, taking a deep breath as she lowered the note and took a seat at the table while she steadied her inner self. It took her a couple of minutes to bring herself back under control, having convinced her mind and soul nothing was really wrong, and her paw subconsciously went to grab the cup of tea in search of its warm comfort —That's better. No need to freak out before anything even happens; that's how things actually go bad— She thought firmly and soon took the container to her lips to take a sip.

 

Somewhere in her mind, she took note the liquid tasted a little off, but the smell and temperature were doing too good a job easing her thoughts even more for her to care. In only a couple of minutes the cup was emptied and lowered back to the wooden surface; at the same time, the tiger who consumed it felt serene and centered once again.

 

—Alright, now let's go see that panda and find out what this is about. The tea was perfectly warm still, so he is probably in his...his...wha..—

 

Much to the female's confusion her thoughts started getting foggy, as was her sight, and they were doing so fast. Hastily, her regularly agile mind tried to analyze the situation, reach a conclusion as to what was happening in order to think up a solution; but before she could, her body slumped against the table and her world went black.

 

 

XXX A little while later XXX

 

 

—UUgghhh, wha…what happened?— The master of tiger style's enchanting amber orbs opened blearily as her sluggish brain did its best to reboot her thought process; said efforts seemed to be for naught, though, since the task was proving to be mighty difficult. She shook her head a little to try and be of assistance, but all it managed to do was cause a horrible wave of dizziness to barrel into her; the haziness of her vision did NOT help matters. In response to that, she ordered her right arm to rise so she could hold her noggin...only to discover her arm wouldn't...or more like couldn't...follow through it!

 

On the plus side, finding it to be so served quite well as fuel for her mind's kickstart. A few moments later, her reality became clear once more...and boy was it a shocking revelation.

 

—WHAT THE HELL?!— Tigress barely managed to keep her startled shout from escaping the confines of her own psyche as she quickly took stock of her situation. Her surroundings had changed from the wood & paper interior of the student barracks to the half-decently illuminated stone walls of one of The Palace's underground cells; she was currently sitting on a sturdy, wooden chair with her powerful arms bound back by thick rope around her biceps and elbows, as well as a set of iron cuffs locked around her wrists that were, at the same time, pinned to the ground by a shortish, thick-link chain that was bolted down. Lastly, her legs had been neutralized by more ropes binding them together at the thighs, knees, and ankles; this last coil being special because it employed a much longer cord so it did not only restrain her limbs to each other, but raised them in front of her by being secured to a metal loop on the ceiling.

 

Oh and if the slight breeze she could feel grazing her soles meant anything, it seemed her sandals had been removed too; leaving her bare feet-paws in an almost proud display given her lower body's particular state of bondage, for whatever reason. But it wasn't like that detail was anywhere near high on the priority list.

 

—Captured?! While inside the palace walls?! How?!— The feline questioned herself whilst she shifted a little in her bonds to see if they'd give at least a bit. Sadly, they were pretty well made, though she did discover whoever put her down here had wrapped some cloth beneath the coils and cuffs of her arms; probably to keep the rough ropes from chaffing her skin under the fur. She found it strange, but at least it should mean they were trying to keep her unharmed. Giving up on the struggle for the moment, she sighed exasperatedly and allowed herself to relax as much as she could in her current circumstances while continuing to comb through her thoughts —Alright, I guess the 'how' is quite straight forward: the tea. Now that could either mean the note was fake or...—

 

Before she could even finish the thought, the tiger master's ears perked up and twitched when she caught the sound of footsteps coming towards her cell. Ire and outrage swelled within her being at the thought of facing whoever had managed to get the drop on her, although she kept it well hidden under a cool mask of calculative indifference as she fixed her gaze on the door. Said emotion was quick to be replaced by befuddlement, though, when the animal that came into the room turned out to be none other than her boyfriend!

 

—PO?!—



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