ChunLi's penthouse apartment in Osaka
It was barely seven in the morning when ChunLi was packing her bags. The morning sun had brightened up the light green walls of her apartment. The wind chimes tinkling as the breeze blew in. But there was no cheer in her eyes as she packed her bags.
She couldn't help but feel that a delightful, almost carefree part of her life is coming to an end. Because of late, she kept seeing people whom she termed as the Messengers appearing as a silent reminder that the time that was allocated to her to attend to a 'personal matter' was coming to an end and that it was time for her to go back home.
ChunLi sighed, the last two days these Messengers had left her alone to sort out her feelings and thoughts. She looked around her flat.
nothing of sentimental values….except…except > she thought the herself
as she left it hanging.
She knew she could have asked for more time to be given to her, but what would that accomplished except to drag things on.
< If it was meant to be, then it was meant to be. > she sighed once more.
It's easy for her
to let go of what she built here for she didn't bring that much material
things with her. But the only thing that she couldn't let go was him. For
she had met him and lost him twice. Once in childhood and the second in
She had only found him the third time about two years ago in a tournament and seriously got in touch with him barely a year ago. And that had sort put their relationship in limbo. They are sort of friends but something else is hidden beneath as well. So much so that they weren't sure whether to move forward or backwards.
But ever since she let gave him the keys to her apartments in Hong Kong and Osaka telling him that he could have a roof over his head if he should ever be in town. What she was doing held two meanings.
The one that she
was willing to explain to him was that what she was doing was similar to
Ken or Guile letting Ryu stayed over while he was in their part of the
neighborhood. This little act had sort of made him open up a little. And
within the year he had dropped a few times while she was 'home'.
She looked at the clock again, knowing that she had finish packing. Although her flight is still a few hours away her heart sank not knowing if by chance he would come by. For it was almost impossible to contact him while he was on the road.
< If it
was meant to be. Then it was meant to be. > She thought as she took
down the wind
And maybe. Just maybe
there could be some sort of excuse that lets her stay on.
Downstairs Ryu stood outside the staircase leaning against the wall. He was wearing a white sleeveless T-shirt under a black jacket and a pair of blue jeans. His fighting attire was in his duffel bag. His right hand in his pocket holding onto something while he was deep in thought.
He couldn't help
but feel that he had put off something for too long and the second time
was a chance to allow him to get use to the idea of things. Although he
thought he was young the second time around and didn't get the idea into
his head. But at the third time he thought he could get used to idea but
it didn't seem to work out.
He tried walking away from the third time on but he kept returning, he tried staying with Ken or Guile instead but seeing their families, he sort of return again. And it had always seems to him that when he did return she was always there.
< Why was
I training so hard for? So what if I can control my dark side. What am
I doing anyway? What am I looking for? What do I see beyond my fists? >
Questions he had a lot but answers he had none.
But then he wondered again. Could he pay the price? Is he even ready? He had always thought that he had learnt to be detached from emotions. Yet there was a fact that had hit him in the face and let him see what it was that was hanging by a thin silken spider thread. Seemingly fragile yet strong.
It had become an
anchor that made he seek another way of understanding his dark side instead
of using the answers the demon had found. But is he willing to risk exposing
her to the dangers of his dark side again? Is he willing to let her lead
the kind of life he has? All he knew that he would rather harm himself
than let her come to harm.
But one thing he knew. That she was on his mind when he left that day. It could be destiny or fate or whatever, but it would take a strong, strong man to ever let her go and he does not have that kind of strength. But the demon would say that he is useless let himself be weaken by such a transient emotion. And that was what makes him seek his own answers.
To him the one undeniable
truth was that she had become a part of his life ever since they first
laid eyes on each other, even though it wasn't obvious in the first place
since everything has its own place and time. And now not only was he unable
to get her out of his thoughts, he wants her to remain in his life till
the end of days.
< Nothing of sentimental values…. > ChunLi thought looking her apartment once more. She sighed as she took out a dog eared photograph that she always carried with her. It was taken a few months ago.
She thought she had
taken him completely by surprise by suddenly hugging him at the last minute.
Although by now she was aware that he was not really surprise at all. For
the embrace that he returned was strong and real. The camera had picked
that up along with the smile in his eyes but miss the smile that had appeared
on his face moments later. She knew they were going somewhere then but
it seems to just stop there now.
ChunLi sighed and
wrote a note.
Somehow she felt
rather bad about making he leave the keys. She had wanted to give him the
idea that his friends will always welcome him to stay over when he drops
by and that he will always be welcome to call on her. But then even the
best laid plans of mice and men don't always go as plan. But still she
looked for any excuse at all to stay. But apparently he's not helping much
by not coming.
Ryu took the keys to ChunLi's apartment out of his pocket. Home now that's a funny notion considering for him home had always being a cave, an oil drum, the occasional big hole in a tree and a large cardboard box on some occasions. Home was hardly ever a place where someone was waiting for him.
He had stayed with
friends whenever he traveled yet there was something missing for deep down
the only sense of home he ever had was here.
Opening the door,
Ryu's heart soared as he came face to face with her. There and then he
decided not to let the feeling go. In some strange sense of the word he
couldn't help but feel that he was coming back to her.
Seeing him, ChunLi
dropped her bags as mixed emotions and thoughts flooded her. Leaving a
note was easy for her but it seemed unfair to him. In a strange sense of
the word she couldn't help but feel that she was waiting for him to return
home. Funny how her ‘home’ was miles away in another country.
"We need to talk."
They said at the same time.
"No. You go first. Assignment?" Ryu asked pointing at the bags as he entered and shut the door behind him. He felt that something was missing from the house. Little things like the knick-knacks she had around the house. It was like her presence around the house was missing. And he didn't like that feeling. It felt wrong somehow.
ChunLi sat down choosing
not hurry. Maybe just maybe there would be a good excuse somewhere that
could make her stay.
"I have to return
home. Family business demands my full attention." A lie. A well-rehearsed
lie she thought.
"I'm not. I'm returning
this house too. Sorry about that though, I would like to have the keys
To Ryu what had went on was like saying that ChunLi would not be reached easily. But he had always managed to find her and he wants to keep it that way. He wants to know where exactly he can reached her. All he wanted was to be able reach her as and when possible. For it seems that she was the only one who could give him of ease in times of the turmoils in his head.
Ryu… Think….. Well its now or never..... > he thought to himself. For if
its meant to be. Then its meant to be.
"Li. Can I call you
"For the past few
years that I had spent wandering. I had questions that I had no answers
for. Why was I training so hard for? So what if I can control my dark side.
What am I doing anyway? What am I looking for? What do I see beyond my
fists? And Why was I using Gouki's answers instead of finding my own?"
He stopped for a while allowing her to digest what he had said. And this
may be the first and the last time he ever said so much.
"I know I may not be able to offer you a comfortable life like some others intend to. I cannot promise you that the possibility of dying by the hands of some stronger opponent is remote. And I cannot promise you that my dark side won't return. But sometimes if its meant to be. Then its meant to be."
Ryu placed two fingers
on her lips to signal he was not finish yet. It seems to him that she had
caught on in terms of what he wish to say. But he wants to let her hear
all he has to say first.
"Li…. I don't want
to expose you to my darkness. I don't want to hurt you physically or with
empty promises. I know I was selfish not to return you the proper affections
for I was unsure of where I was heading. And it would break my heart to
hurt you unknowingly." He drew up the hair by the side of her face and
pinned it behind her left ear.
"I cannot promise
you a good life and that's the truth. But I can work hard for you. I am
willing to do anything for you. You give me a reason to achieve. But all
I can say that some days you are the answers to all those questions. All
I can offer you are these two fists, my heart, my soul and my life. My
life will not be the same without you." He took a deep breath before continuing.
This is going to be the longest hour of his life. For the outcome would
affect his life.
"All I wish for is
spend the rest of my life with you. To spar and train with you. To watch
the rising and setting sun with you. To have you as the first person I
greet when I wake and to hold you in my arms till sleep overtakes us at
night. Li…. Will you allow me the honor to be your husband. Li…. Will you
marry me?" he took out a ring from the little velvet box in his pocket.
Both had tears welling in their eyes.
There was an uncomfortable
silence in the air as ChunLi took the time to think of a proper way to
answer him. The excuse she seeks had been found. But there was something
bothering her as well. Something she had kept for so long that it endangers
those who knew her secret. Yet the secret would empower those who knew
of it. Would Ryu be able to accept the answer? She don't know but if it
was meant to be then it was meant to be.
As for Ryu every
second of silence that pass was a long and tedious eternity. Any negativity
in her answer would break his heart and soul. And the silence was what
drove him almost crazy.
"…Ryu." She gently
touched his cheek.
Ryu nearly choked
when ChunLi mentioned the word 'but', for it was like his worst fears were
confirmed. But another touch of her hand on his cheek drew his attention
back to her.
"It's not you, its me. Had circumstances being different. I would gladly accept the honor of becoming your wife. But there is something you have to know. I don't want you to ask what it is now but come with me first before you judge. Are you willing to take a trip with me?" she asked.
"Yes. Where to."
Ryu followed her.
He couldn't care about the 'Why' part because all he knows is that whatever
the challenge is he'll face it.
They took a train out of Osaka towards the outskirts of the city. ChunLi treasured the moments she spent with Ryu at the same time she was preparing for the worst case scenarios. For the stark reality could rip him away from her. In every sense of the word this was what she wanted but is she ready to pay the price?
As for Ryu, he was
determined that whatever it is he won't give up his ChunLi. Too much had
gone on and there is no going back. Whatever it is he will not lose this
precious gem of a woman.
Around late afternoon
By now they are now at grassy plain that was far from questioning eyes. The VTOL parked on the field looked familiar. Especially the winged skull crest. There was a tent in the shade nearby that was heavily guarded by soldiers.
Ryu finally understand
what ChunLi wanted him to do. To prove his love for her it seems that he
must bring her the head of her enemy.
"Come. You will know why now." She said walking towards the tent. On seeing her, the soldiers saluted her. One of them headed into the tent.
< A spy? > Ryu thought. his emotion remained masked.
They were then ushered
into the tent where the dreadful man in red sat by a small fire with a
kettle of water boiling upon it.
"You have arrive. I did not expect you to follow though." He said without looking up. All he did was took the kettle of boiling water and pour it in to the earthenware teapot with tealeaves of Tie Kwan Yim within.
"Sit." He said.
Pouring the tea into little cups then emptying the tea from the cups in to an earthenware container where a few more earthenware cups are. He then refreshed the teapot with warm water and let it simmer for a while before pouring it out to the cups in a circular clockwise motion. He then offered the cups tea to Ryu and ChunLi.
"Thank you father." ChunLi replied softly as she accepts the tea.
Ryu's eyebrows were
raised, he looked towards ChunLi who looked away from him. She didn't want
to cloud his judgement. Now he understood her what she meant earlier by
saying that it was okay for him to be angry with her. She had feared the
worst. She had expected him to be in an outrage by now.
"Father!!? You're her father?!" Ryu finnally found his voice. Moments ago he thought his woman wanted to him to kill the man that sat before him. And then he thought she was one of the spies working for him. Now she addresses him as 'Father'?
"Yes Dragon. She is my flesh and blood daughter."
"But the man who
died those years ago?"
"Then the time you
took me prisoner and had ChunLi freed me?!"
"You realize that you know a secret that could endanger her life. You have various paths to choose, but know that my heir is giving up an empire because of you. A word from you and she might inherit her empire again. Know that she hid almost nothing from you."
< Now. Let us see what kind of a man you are. > Vega smirked, he would have given an arm and a leg to see the look on Ryu's face. To know that the woman he loves is the daughter of his enemy. He has plans for the lad, should he choose the wrong path.
"What do you want
"You and I may have our differences but I will not let that get in the way of my relationship with Li." Ryu drank from his cup.
will you face the challenge?" A cold smile on his face.
"You took a big risk
letting him know the truth."
“The thought cross
my mind father. But where can we hide? Your spies are many and those Shadow
Warriors are relentless.”
"I see you have considered
the different paths that are available. Were you willing to retake the
empire if he refuse to accept you?"
"Know that unofficially
I give you my blessings. Officially you know the rules."
"Spend some time in Hong Kong with the lad. Then head down to Singapore in mid December. You will find her waiting for both of you. She is likely to give you a week before she fights him. And after that bring her back to Shadowlaw. Its time to run a few test on her again." he rest a hand on his daughter's shoulder. It was no surprise to that she was the Gem of Shadowlaw.
"Fight her? But….It
seem so unevenly matched."
Going back to tent
she sat quietly away from Ryu. But he sat down beside her.