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What Are Friends For

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            "Honghui? Chen Honghui? You there?" Yao asked as he waved his hand in front of Honghui's face.

            "Huh? Sorry, what is it?" asked Honghui as he snapped back to reality.

            Honghui, Chien Po, Yao, Ling and Cricket were having their day off, having lunch at a stall, where Honghui dazed off to the thoughts of a certain girl with windblown black hair in her red attire.

            "You dazed off again," said Po, who lifted his head from eating.

            "Yeah, Honghui, what is up with you? You had been dazing off like that quite often," Cricket spoke as he placed his bowl down on the table.

            "You're going to get yourself into trouble if you continue dazing off like that," Yao quipped.

            "Mulan," Ling suddenly realized.

            "What?" Yao asked, not understanding Ling.

            "We were talking about Hua Mulan," Ling tried to explain.

            "Yeah, we know. I just said that it was unbelievable that Mulan did what she did," Cricket answered, still not understanding Ling's point.

            "Honghui began dazing off when we talked about Mulan," Ling added, trying to explain his point to the group by dropping hints.

            "Yeah... so... wait..., he does daze off more often than usual these days," Yao realized.

            "Come on, boys. I just dazed off, that's all. There is nothing about it," Honghui blurted out.

            The others ignored Honghui and continued to think about what Ling had said.

            "Wait, Honghui, do you have feelings for the girl?" Po asked suddenly.

            "What are you guys blabbering? We're friends, that's all, nothing more," Honghui retaliated immediately.

            "Really?" Yao asked, not convinced by Honghui's answer.

            "I remember Honghui hurried off to catch up to Mulan to meet her, just before she left the Imperial City," Cricket recalled.

            "So, I just wanted to say goodbye to her," Honghui answered, getting uncomfortable with where the topic is going.

            "And the time he stood up for Mulan in front of Commander Tung," Po recalled.

            "He couldn't even take her eyes off after we defeated the Rourans," Ling said, adding fuel to the fire of the topic.

            "Guys, I don't see why we are talking about this," Honghui said, feeling a little embarrassed from the topic.

            "Well, I do not blame Honghui for doing that. She is a beauty, not my type but still a beautiful woman," Yao complimented, ignoring Honghui again.

            "That's natural beauty there," Po continued the topic as he munched on his lunch.

            Honghui felt the urge to yell at his friends to stop going down the topic but held himself back.

            "Honghui, are you all right? You look tense," Cricket asked as he noticed Honghui had not touched his food ever since they started talking about Mulan. Honghui looked at the table, his hand balled itself into a fist unknown to him.

            "Is talking about the girl making you uncomfortable?" asked Yao curiously.

            "No..." Honghui denied. Of course, he enjoyed talking about her but not this way.

            "Then, why are you so tense?" asked Ling, who was smirking.

            "I... I...," Honghui stammered.

            "You know you can tell us anything, right? We're your friends, Honghui," Cricket said.

            "He got feelings for her then," Yao chuckled as he patted Honghui on his back hard.

            "Come on, don't push him, guys. Let him say it if he wants to," Cricket said.

            "Well, I guess there is no point in hiding it anymore from you guys," Honghui admitted.

            "See, I told you guys," Ling said triumphantly.

            "Wait, so when you rushed off to meet her before she left, did you tell her?" asked Cricket curiously.

            "Of course not," Honghui answered as if the answer was obvious.

            "Then, what did you two lovebirds do?" Yao asked, chuckling.

            "We said goodbye and shook hands, that's all," Honghui revealed.

            "Why didn't you just tell her?" asked Po puzzledly.

            "How did you expect me to tell the girl, whom I thought was a guy, whom I spent months with treating her like a guy, that I have feelings for her?" Honghui asked. "Plus, I'm pretty sure she doesn't like me that way," Honghui revealed his greatest fear.

            "Why do you think so?" asked Ling, who leaned in along with the others. They were interested in what Honghui had to say.

            "Well, we got off on the wrong foot of each other when we first met," Honghui began to explain.

            "You mean when you two drew your swords at each other?" Yao remembered chuckling.

            "Yeah," Honghui answered. "And well, she always seems cold to me whenever I tried to talk to her during the first few weeks in the army," Honghui continued.

            "Wasn't she like that with all of us?" Cricket asked, confused.

            "No, I think she only warmed up to me much later," Honghui said.

            "Oh, Honghui," Ling said, interrupting Honghui. "You're so oblivious to these things, Honghui," Ling continued, prompting the others to look at him.

            "What are you trying to say?" asked Honghui.

            "I kept on seeing you and Mulan giving each other secret glances quite several times, and those definitely aren't friend glances," Ling said.

            "Wait, did they?" Yao tried to remember.

            "Well, Mulan did seem to gaze at you more than the rest of us, even as Hua Jun," Cricket added.

            "You guys see my point now?" asked Ling. "The looks she gives him are more than enough to know that she has some feelings for Honghui. The most obvious one was the night before our first battle against the Rourans.

            "I'm still not convinced," Honghui disagreed.

            "Wait..." Cricket interrupted.

            "What is it, lucky guy?" asked Yao.

            "You freed me from the wreckage during the avalanche, Honghui," Cricket remembered.

            "So?" Honghui asked.

            "I saw you being swept away by the avalanche, how were you able to come out alive?" Cricket asked.

            Cricket's question was a good one. Honghui was stunned. He never thought of how he did survive that avalanche. He remembers waking up on the ground not being buried underneath the snow.

            "Wait... he was swept away by the avalanche and came up by himself?" asked Yao, seeing the loophole in the story.

            "That is no way physically possible. Honghui would have been trapped underneath the snow and debris. Unless..." Ling said coming to a possible theory.

            "Unless what?" Honghui asked impatiently.

            "Can you recall what you remember from the avalanche?" asked Ling.

            "Well... I remember snow pouring down, sweeping me away. I was shouting more someone to help me," Honghui recalled.

            "Well, I think that is what we would recall with we were caught in an avalanche," Yao interrupted.

            "Then, I heard someone yelling my name," Honghui remembered as he told the group. "Then, I must have been knocked out. The next thing I remember was laying on the ground, waking up," Honghui remembered.

            "Who would have saved you?" Ling tried to figure out.

            "Unless it was a spirit that saved you, it couldn't have been any of us," Yao said. "We were all running away from the chaos."

            "We all were," Cricket added.

            "Unless..." Ling realized. "Mulan showed up after the avalanche with her horse," Ling recalled.

            "Are you trying to say..."

            "Mulan rescued you? I think that is highly possible," Ling concluded.

            "That girl really must like you, Honghui, to head into danger like that to save you," Yao chuckled.

            "That doesn't mean that she likes me romantically," Honghui said, still not believing that Mulan liking him could be a reality.

            "Well, if all those signs from her weren't because of her having feelings for you, Honghui. Then I don't know what other signs could show that," Ling said, shaking his head, chuckling at Honghui obliviousness.

            "I think she does have some feeling for you, Honghui," Chien Po said, who had been eating throughout the conversation.

            "As if the signs weren't already there," Ling scoffed.

            "You know what you should do, Honghui? You should visit her when you get the chance. Go, and visit Mulan and maybe tell her about your feelings for her," Cricket advised.

            "And why should I do that?" asked Honghui.

            "Well, if you want a perfect opportunity to tell her, it would be before we get rushed into another war," Cricket said.

            "I agree, you need to man up and tell the girl," Yao said, patting Honghui on the back hard again.

            "What if she doesn't reciprocate those feelings?" asked Honghui worried.

            "She will," Ling assured.

            "How do you know that?" asked Honghui, unconvinced.

            "Just a feeling," Ling said, smiling.

            "Well, I did tell her I would see her again," Honghui muttered.

            "You told her that?" Yao asked.

            "Well, right before she left," Honghui answered.

            "Out of all the things you could have said to your crush, you said that?" Yao began laughing, hitting Honghui's back with his hands.

            "I was nervous, all right?" Honghui asked sarcastically before joining in chuckling.

            "Well, I guess you will have something do to when you have your time off," Chien Po said.

            "Yeah, do any of you guys want to come with me," asked Honghui.

            "No, it's better for you to visit her alone," Cricket said.

            "Yeah, I agree with lucky charm here," Yao agreed. "Better you go alone, Honghui. Less interruption between you two."

            "All right then, I've made my choice. I'm going to visit Mulan," Honghui decided.

            "Well, you should write to her first to tell her that you are coming," Cricket said. "I can do that in my next letter to her."

            "Why don't you give the girl a nice surprise?" Ling suggested.

            "Wait... you write to Mulan?" Honghui asked surprised.

            "What's with the surprised look on your face Honghui? She's our friends too," Yao said.

            "Don't worry Honghui. Mulan is yours," Cricket promised, smiling. "And, I won't tell her about your... feelings for her."

            "Yeah, you better not take Mulan from Honghui. I'm pretty sure he would beat you up for that," Yao quipped. The group laughed at Yao's joke.

            Honghui smiled. As if a burden had been lifted from his heart. He had made his choice. Honghui is going to pay Hua Mulan a visit.