Zero
Chapter 18
Much time later, possibly late afternoon 
Chiang Mai Airport, Thailand  

The letter had fallen out of her carry-on bag when she removed it from the overhead compartment, she gasped seeing that it was addressed to her in her father's handwriting. Clutching Ryu's hand tightly for support as she watches Ryu retrieved it for her, she was fighting back her tears again.  

The whole flight through, people were starring at them wondering if he had done something wrong to her that made her so upset. The looks that some of the men and quite a number of women gave him bordered on plain murder. He had came up with an excuse of sorts about visiting a terminally ill sister, which he doubts anyone would believe. 

He held the letter in his hand, waiting for her to take it, she was afraid to even touch it. Looking at her tear filled eyes, Ryu was wondering if he had done the right thing in bringing her here. But it beats having her come here alone and getting into trouble by herself.  

He sighed, keeping the letter in his pocket. With his other hand he rubs her back to calm her down. Once again she broke down in front of him, pressing herself against him as her tears flow freely. His responsibility had grown heavier and he wondered if he could carry it at all. But most of all he dread that he might fail her.  

Gently he guided her towards the plane's exit to disembark, she was pretty much in a daze after they check out of immigration that he brought her to a quiet corner of the food court for a cup of warm tea hoping it would calm her. 

".. May I… have it back please?" she asked him in a small voice. Taking out the letter, he could see the pain in her eyes as she wills herself to be strong. She almost flinched as she took it from him. Her trembling hands tore open the envelope and unfold the letter. Sitting by her side he could make out some of the words, but for some reason she was reading it aloud for him. 
 

"My little princess." It had started. 
"If you are reading this, then I may have been killed or something similarly untoward has befallen me." ChunLi was biting her lower lip, one hand clutching onto Ryu's hand. She took a deep breath before she could continue. 

"Do not seek revenge if that was what happen. Never ever put yourself in danger to try and find me. The results may be more harmful for you than it was for me. My kwai loi (obedient daughter) do not be foolish for my sake. I am aware of the risk in this job when I took it."  
Her voice was trembling by now, for she had already broken her father's first wish by being here. 

"Instead, stay with Ryu for awhile, he is a responsible and good boy. I am sure he would do the right thing and take good care of you. Go back to his dojo in Japan. I had sent a package to Gouken and he would receive it in a two weeks time. My will is within and there are some things I wanted you to have as well. Go to Japan. Do not remain in Hong Kong for the while, I would not wish for them to come find you to threaten me if the second scenario had occur."  

ChunLi closed her eyes for a moment. She had dragged Ryu into this as well, knowing full well that he has his own issues to deal with. She was supposed to be helping him and yet she gave him more problems instead. She felt him rubbing her back to comfort her, there was no accusation in his eyes. He smiled at her hoping that it would provide a bit of comfort. 

"I… cannot do as Daddy wished….." she started on a whisper, clutching the unfinished letter close to her. 
"I have to find him. I am sorry for dragging you into this." She meant to give him the chance to leave this before he gets hurt. He has his own problems and she does not wish to add more to it. 

"I am with you." He said in that quiet assuring voice of his. 
"Thank you." she followed him as he got up. Heading out of the airport, the couple boarded a bus that would take them into town. 
 


Evening 

Somewhere over the skies en-route to Chiang Mai, Ken was enjoying the view of the clouds as he sipped coconut water from a coconut. Flying first class was the life. He could call for a private jet and intercept Ryu and ChunLi at the airport. But then nothing beats today's entertainment.   

"Sir! This cabin is for first class passengers only. You may not enter!" A steward warned someone only to be shoved aside. And someone stalked into the cabin right up to Ken. 
"Dammit Ken! Where did he take my si-mui?!!" Fei Long yelled at Ken 

"Sir please return to your seat. If you do not, we would proceed to restrain you. I'm sorry Mr Masters, we will handle this disturbance." 
"Its alright Steve. I know him. I'll handle it." Ken assures the air steward, who was still unsure of Fei Long. 

"Go back to your seat Fei Long. I'm not likely to go anywhere this high up." 
"Hmmph. What? So that you could run off the moment the plane lands? I think not." Fei Long plonks himself down on a seat opposite Ken. 

"I told you before. Chunny would be all right with Ryu. He won't take advantage of her." Ken pops another one of those canapés into his mouth. 
"He's leading her astray in her current state of mind! Where is he taking her?!" 

"So you're saying Chunny can't think for herself? Is that where you come in? You decide what she can or cannot do? Who she could befriend?" Ken asked in an offended tone. 

"I didn't say that! She just doesn't think about what he do to her!" 
"What and who are you to decide for her? Man! You way more possessive of her than Ryu is."  

"Dammit Ken. Quit playing games! You know Ryu's not right in his head!" Fei Long was on the verge of grabbing Ken by the neck when Ken stood up and grabbed him by the shirt front instead.  

"DO NOT insult my bro or Chunny. You hardly even know him. What he does with Chunny and what she lets him get away with is their business. She is not the property of any man so stop treating her as if she does not have a brain!" Ken glares at him and then shoves him away. 

"Sir please, go back to your seat, the other passengers are getting worried by the commotion you caused." The steward had returned. 

"Upgrade his ticket, Steve." Ken said as he say down. 
"I am not going to pay for a dammed ticket to first class!" Fei Long shouted but Ken ignored him and instructed the stewardess to bring him his dinner. 

"Who says you're paying. I got an extra ticket here." Ken smirked handing the ticket to the steward to check. 

"Wait?! You bought a ticket for me and yet you made me went through the hassle of finding where si-mui went and purchase my own ticket when you already have things at hand? Just what is wrong with you?!" Fei Long growled at him, Ken was playing him for a fool. 

"Quit acting the diva. I thought you wanted to do things your way?" Ken shrugged. Unable to find something to say, Fei Long rubbed his head in frustration.  

"You gotta buy your own return ticket though. Mine are for Ryu and Chunny." Ken commented, ignoring the following frustrated mutterings a few seats back as his meal has just arrive. Flying first class, nothing beats the entertainment.  


Some time later 
A budget hotel in town somewhere 
 

Warm air rises from the hot shower, water trickling down his tired back, releasing the tension he had felt the last few days, the tournament of which he had no memory of. 

The arrival of a girl whom he was rather fond of even though it would take a lot of guts for him to admit that he did like her. His strange illness which he suspected was the doing of his dark half and the following unfortunate events which brought them here.  

It feels all too unreal for Ryu. He had never expected to be back here so soon. He didn't want to be back here, at least not this soon. Most of all it was the girl outside his bathroom that he was most worried about. 

It had taken him a lot of effort to coax her into eating dinner and eventually take a shower. It frightens him that she was this way and that he didn't know what else he could or should do. Her moods kept swinging from anger to deep sadness that he was afraid that she might hurt herself. 

It seems they are sharing the same room again, there was a certain word he would use to describe this but the word escapes him. He wanted to make sure that she wouldn't do anything foolish like running off by herself to seek answers. But he didn't know how else to comfort her other than offering his shoulder and ear.  

Was it selfish of him for hoping that ChunLi would not find anything here and the go home empty handed? He had her safety in mind but then he had to let her come see for herself or she would never be at ease. He sighed not knowing what to think. Staring at his meaty fists he felt the sense of uselessness eating at him again. Water running by his bare feet and into the drain, so much like his life. Was he wrong? 

Closing his eyes as he stood under the shower letting the warm water beat down his face and hopefully clears his tired mind. Opening his eyes, shock overcame him to see nothing but darkness! 

"ChunLi!!" he yelled out, there was no answer! What happen? Was there a blackout? Or did he faint and fell? Where is she? What's going on? 

A metallic tinkle and a hint of blue came and went in a glimpse, it show an outline of a path and he followed it, feeling somewhat vulnerable.  He sneezed. The familiar smell struck him again. This is getting pretty much annoying. 

"I turn my back on you for one day and you take her to a hotel room?!" A sweet female voice sigh in annoyance. 
"Didn't I tell you to leave her and go back to your training. You'll only end up harming her by bringing her here. Send her back to Hong Kong! Now!" 

"Who are you?! And why should I listen?!" Ryu yelled, turning this way and that. There was a hissy laugh and someone else made an annoyed sound. 

"Kids!" The voice sighed, seemingly to shake her head. 
 

There was only silence, broken by a hissy little laugh, light slowly shines and he felt water on his skin again. He was back in his hotel room, turning off the tap he dries off and dressed in a sleeveless t-shirt and a pair of shorts. 

Stepping out of the bathroom, Ryu almost panicked when he can't find ChunLi in the room, he almost shouted her name but a little tug on his shorts drew his attention. She was sitting by the bathroom the whole time he was inside…..   

It breaks his heart to see her this way, long hair streaming down her tear stained face, dressed only in a tank top and shorts. Clutching the letter close to her, the way she looked at him it was like she pleading at him to stay.  

"You're the only one left…." She whispered to him. He remembered vaguely of something she had said almost a decade ago. That her mother had passed away before she could even remember when. Her father was all she had until she met him.  

Chances are that she believes that he was all she has left in this world now, someone who actually knows her. Sitting down beside her, she embraced him a little bit too tightly that he found it hard to breath. His hand unsure at first of what he should do, then he held her by the waist and his free hand stroke her head. Eventually it calms her enough to bring her some sleep. 

 
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