Very gently, [Shifu] reached out and laid his tiny hand against the snow leopard's furry cheek. "Don't blame yourself, Tai Lung. It is my fault too. I'm the one who spoiled you, after all. And sent you very mixed signals, about our relationship as well as the scroll.
"But it's all right. You don't have to hate yourself anymore. Because you can still be a hero, and a great warrior, all while still loving me. Don't think about what you've lost, but what you've gained. You may not have a pure enough heart to be the Dragon Warrior, but I don't care about that. All I care about is that it was pure enough to still love an old fool like me."
Something seemed to seize up inside him—he realized it was his heart pressing against his chest—and then the feline lurched forward, giving in to instinct and impulse...his brawny arms encircling the aged panda with deceptive gentleness, even as he pressed him tightly to his chest, hugging him as close as he dared. As he did so, he could feel the sobs beginning, the tears welling up...and for the first time in his life, he didn't try to stop them, to sustain his masculine image.
He had a flash of himself as a cub in the training hall, the first time he had punched one of the Wooden Crocodiles too hard and at the wrong angle—breaking all of his knuckles and spraining his wrist in the bargain. He'd sat on the floor of the kwoon, nursing his injuries and on the verge of tears, when Shifu had appeared to reprimand him. It had not been harsh, but it had been firm as he told his son two fateful words: "Don't cry." Because men, especially those training to be kung fu fighters and Dragon Warriors, did not cry.
He had taken that imposition to heart—as he had told Po and Mantis during the acupuncture session, never once showing his emotions no matter how much pain and abuse he heaped upon himself during training.
But this time, just this once, he thought: To hell with what he taught me.
"I know," the panda whispered back, leaning against his heaving chest. "I know you are. That's why I forgive you, son."
The two of them didn't end that embrace, or move apart, for a very long time.
Tigress’s doll, damaged in the earthquakes that left her an orphan and taken to be repaired by Tai Lung.
The doll was now repaired, in perfect and almost pristine condition. The wood was so smooth and polished it almost glowed in the fading sunlight, and every joint and limb was properly pegged and screwed in place. A faint flocking of dark gold velvet alternating with black, meant to stand in for a tiger's pelt, now covered the figure in a soft fuzz. Bright, gaily shining paint had been applied to make the doll's eyes and lips look almost startlingly real. And as for the dress...it now blazed as white as the full moon, silver and gold thread woven in its fabric like meandering streams, looking as misty and gleaming as moonlight transformed into gossamer. It was truly a work of art.
"Oh...sweet Kwan Yin, how did you...?"
He said not a word as he handed the doll carefully over, lightly pressed her fingers around the restored relic of her cubhood, and gazed at her meaningfully. He could have explained how he'd taken the toy to Zhuang and asked him, as a humble favor, to repair the wooden figure and carve out new wood where it was needed, that he'd spent hours at fabric stores searching for just the right material to approximate the color and feel of Tigress's own fur.
He could have told her that Xiulan had turned out to be employed as one of the best seamstresses in the Valley, and that by using Zhuang as an intermediary—never revealing who the client was—he'd been able to have the cow woman procure the expensive new silk and stitch it herself. He could have mentioned that the whole thing had cost him an entire month's allowance, pressed on the bull despite his constant protestations that for a friend he would do all the work for free.
But he didn't say any of this. He didn't have to. What mattered was, as she took the doll and clutched it close to her chest, and he gazed up into eyes that were a mystery, he could see something he'd never expected to see there—tears of gratitude and joy, welling up and then trickling through her cheek fur. She couldn't even find the words to thank him, or to apologize for suspecting him of some sort of crude vandalism—but he merely patted her paw reassuringly, then quietly slipped out of the room, leaving her standing by the dresser, stunned and speechless...
Tai Lung speaking with Zhuang’s ghost.
Jia reconciling with Xu Mei.
For a few moments, there was silence save for the rising breeze and the sounds of chattering voices and rattling coins from the marketplace. Then Xu Mei looked up with paws clasped before her to gaze into her stepdaughter's face...her expression inscrutable, searching but otherwise seemingly emotionless.
"Wh-what are you doing here?" the snow leopardess got out at last.
"I came to see one daughter," Xu Mei said slowly. "...only to find two."
Slowly at first, then with more rushing intensity, the mountain cat's face crumpled, tears brimming over in her luminous eyes as sorrow, disbelief, and yes, love appeared in them. "I am...so sorry, Jia. I was…wrong about you. Mei Ling told me everything...I should never have doubted you, child, I should have trusted you. Please..." She swallowed hard. "If you can find it in your heart to forgive me, please come home..."
Without warning, Jia lunged forward and caught the old woman in a hug, squeezing her gently as she began to sob into the mountain cat's shoulder. But Po could still hear her choked-out words. "I am home."
Tai Lung meeting his biological family.
Bracing himself, he lifted both paws in one motion and doffed his hood, unveiling his face to the room.
Somehow, the farmhouse became even more deathly quiet. He didn't dare look at his brothers to see their reaction at seeing a man who so closely resembled them. He only had eyes for his mother. The snow leopardess was staring at him in disbelief, both paws clapped over her mouth to restrain any sound while her bulging eyes took in his every feature. He couldn't help but notice that while she clearly recognized his face, her gaze mostly fixed on his eyes—eyes which had always been distinctive, which she couldn't help but remember even from his infant face.
He took a step toward her around the table, extending both paws. "I—"
"Qiao Gang?" The words came out in a hoarse croak, as much a whispered prayer as an identification. "Is...is that you?"
So that was his name. So much better than one which had always haunted and tormented him with the dream around which his entire life had revolved, the destiny which had forever seemed beyond his reach and which, in the end, had never been his to begin with.
Closing his eyes briefly, he nodded and then opened them again to peer at her beseechingly. "Yes...Mother. I...I've come home."
For one moment more, the tableau remained frozen. Then, with a wordless cry, Jian came rushing toward him, arms spread, and caught him up in an embrace that was surprisingly fierce and crushing for her size and age. Instinctively, he held her close against his chest...and at the same time she began to weep soft tears of joy, so did he.
Bao and Li-Na’s letter to Po.
I'm so proud of you. Hero of the Valley of Peace, twice over? You're a better man than I ever was, or will ever be. Keep up the good work, son...and don't stop dreaming. Bao. There'd also been a postscript: And if you do ever come to visit, you absolutely must bring some of that Secret Ingredient Soup we hear tell about! Always knew you'd be like your Mama. Li-Na.
Tai Lung and Monkey making their peace.
The entire progress of Tai Lung’s romance of Tigress, particularly Chapter 25 where he nursed her back to health—with the payoff being their conversation on the ledge in Chorh-Gom, and their talk on the path below the Jade Palace.