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“If I were a man,” she says, low and dangerous, in his ear, “I could do this.” She presses her fingers into him, slick with oil, and he whimpers into the pillow but does not protest. “If I were a man,” she continues, “Fa Ping with his father’s sword, I could have come in to your tent in the darkness.” She twists her fingers as she speaks, and Shang spreads his legs wider and closes his eyes to better imagine it: the darkness and quiet of the camp, and the tent flap lifting, and Fa Ping sliding into his bedroll with swift, sure movements.

Mulan laughs, low and throaty, as her husband lies pliant beneath her, and pulls her fingers from him. The obscene thing strapped about her hips is beautiful in the dim light, ivory glowing slightly where the candle falls upon it, and she slicks it with oil and kneels between her husband’s legs, leaning down to whisper in his ear as she guides the toy to his entrance. “If I were a man,” she says again, “I could do this,” and thrusts.

Shang does not cry out, but the sound he makes into his pillow is raw and pained, and if this was the first time they had done this, Mulan would pull away, would be horrified at hurting her beloved. But this is not the first time, and now she knows enough to pay attention to more than the sounds: to the shoulders relaxing beneath her hands, to the legs still spread and willing. Now she knows enough to wait, just a moment, until Shang is limp again beneath her, and thrust again, harder than before, and cherish his muffled wails.

“If I were a man,” she says again, bending down to murmur in his ear, “you’d have to fight me, wouldn’t you? Big strong army captains can’t bend over for their men, no indeed.” Shang pushes against the pillows, trying to get leverage, and she pins his wrists and laughs in his ear. “Oh no,” she says, low and sweet, “no getting away that easily. If I were a man, I wouldn’t let so sweet an ass as yours get away.” She twists her hips a little, and Shang’s whimpers gain a desperate note.

“If I were a man,” she says, “I’d do this every night; I’d bend you over desks and saddles and sword-racks; I’d fuck you raw and make you bite your fist bloody to keep quiet. Would you like that, husband mine?” – and Shang shivers under her and whispers, “Yes,” and comes.