The Red Thread of Fate — Turning Red fanfiction

Between Ming Lee and Mei Lee as parent-child.

Chapter One: The Call

The sun filtered through the blinds of Mei's dorm room, casting stripes of light across her face. She groaned, pulling a pillow over her head, trying to ignore the insistent buzzing of her phone. It was Saturday — her one day to sleep in — but as usual, her mother had other plans.

"Mei-Mei, you awake?" Ming's voice chirped through the speaker, as bright and clear as if she were right there in the room. "You remember we have temple visit today, yes? And we must talk about the menu for your cousin's wedding. Oh! And I found that red sweater you've been looking for; it was in the—"

"Mom, it's early," Mei mumbled into the phone, still half in her dreams. But her mother's words were piercing the veil, reminding her that despite the physical distance, Ming Lee's presence was never anything but full-on.

The conversation took a swift turn when Ming's tone softened, asking about her grandmother's health, which had been wavering lately. Though the details were scarce, Mei could hear something unsaid in her mother's hesitation.

Resigned to wakefulness and intrigued by the concern in her mother's voice, Mei sat up. "Wait, what's wrong with Nai Nai?"

"Hmm? Oh, nothing, nothing. She's just... tired. You know how it is. Anyway, we talk later, yes? Love you!" And with that, the call ended, leaving Mei with a prickling sense of unease.

Throughout her lectures that day, Mei's thoughts kept drifting to her grandmother. Memories flooded her; the smell of incense and the warm, comforting folds of Nai Nai's hugs. However, it wasn't until she reached the temple, with its familiar red lanterns swaying in the breeze, that the severity of the situation struck her.

Ming was waiting by the entrance, her smile as broad as ever, but her eyes didn't carry their usual spark. It took just one look for Mei to know that whatever "tired" meant, it was more than just a lack of sleep.

Before Mei could even broach the topic, though, Ming swept her up in a flurry of activity, discussing relatives and recipes as if nothing were amiss. But the tightness of Ming's hand clasped around hers told a fuller story, one that would unfold with the day's fading light and the opening of family secrets long kept in the shadows.

As they performed the rituals and gave their offerings, an unspoken tension grew between them, a tangible thing like the charged air before a storm. Today, Mei sensed, would be the day she learned what it truly meant to be part of the Lee family, what it meant to inherit a legacy that was more than human.

The twilight of the temple's courtyard settled around mother and daughter as they finally sat on an ornate bench, carved with dragons and phoenixes. Ming turned to Mei, her face serious in a way that Mei had seen only a handful of times in her life.

"Mei-Mei," she began, and Mei felt the weight of what was coming. "There are things about our family... about Nai Nai, about us, you need to know."

Mei looked into her mother's eyes, the red thread of destiny — a thread she had once thought only metaphorical — pulsing with a palpable heat in her veins. The red panda within her stirred, and she braced herself for revelations that would change everything.

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