DISCLAIMER: Me don’t own Tekken, k?
Art of Fighting
Chapter 4 - Winter Blues
I don’t get them. They just go out there and start playing volleyball in the middle of winter on a beach as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Xiaoyu was weird sometimes…Julia was weird sometimes…hell, all of them are just weird! And Julia had tried to get me to play with them also. I said no because for one thing, it was cold and for the other…I sucked at volleyball. It always bounced off my arms in the wrong direction and I did not want to embarrass myself in front of Hwoarang and Steve. That redhead would probably never stop tormenting me about it.
So I just sat down on the sand a safe distance away from them and watched the game. God, I haven’t been out in a real group for months. The feeling was so…vague and so strange. I wasn’t sure whether I liked it or not. But I was sure I would have probably lost all sense of humanity if it hadn’t been for Xiaoyu’s invitation. And so far she hasn’t asked why I was so quiet. No, she doesn’t see it nor does Julia. Out of all of them Hwoarang sees it. And most likely Steve knows from Hwoarang. Those two seem like they share everything with each other. I envy them in way… They have that sort of friendship I wouldn’t mind having.
And why am I being such a pathetic prick??
I looked up and saw the ball flying at me. I caught it reflexively and tossed it back without saying a word. I realized that I must have looked like some kind of zombie, staring out at the sea, unmoving. I didn’t even look to see who hit it. I didn’t care. God, I feel so alone and seeing everyone together doesn’t help it. Why did I have to feel like this now?? I’ve been alone for most of my life and it never struck this hard before. I lowered my head and rested it on my hand. Was it really just loneliness I felt?? Then the solution should be simple, right? Talk to a friend. Yet I don’t have the nerves to admit that I’ve been feeling depressed.
I could just imagine how Xiaoyu would react. She’d probably make me hang out with her and Julia every day of the week and call me every night. In way that was good…but was that what I really needed?? I mean I was hanging out with them right now…heh, and Hwoarang and Steve, too. Did I feel any happier?? No, not really… What I needed was someone to talk to me personally and without any other interference. I needed one person…one person to fully grasp and understand what I was going through and help me.
But who would that be?
Xiaoyu wouldn’t be capable of doing that. She’s much closer to Julia and vice versa. And Steve?? Hell, I barely know the guy. Why would I want to confess my feelings to a stranger?? Then there’s Hwoarang. Ha, there’s a laugh. He strikes me as a guy incapable of sympathy and understanding. Maybe I’m being too hard on him but that was my true opinion of him. He’s already told me to get help, though. Maybe he’s not as thickheaded as he looked. But like Steve, he’s a complete stranger. He and I may go back a good four years, but those years were never ones in which we were friends. He hated my guts back then and now…I’m not so sure anymore. He seems to have changed, but who knows. He did pull that fast one on me back there.
I know I could try harder, too. Julia would probably be more willing to help me out than Xiaoyu, but there’s that scary word: approach. I couldn’t do that for a million dollars. That was just too hard and I…am being a coward. Maybe I’m just waiting for someone to notice my problem and go up to me to talk about it. But that happening is unlikely unless I pull some suicidal shit, which would make it really noticeable. Then again I wouldn’t be able to that either. There was a few times where I eyed the knives in my kitchen longingly before I realized what I was doing. I ruled out suicide from my list, though. No matter how depressed I got, I would never go that far to just end it all. If I did do that, I really would be putting my pride as a fighter to shame like Hwoarang said and I didn’t want to do that. So I’m alone I guess. Maybe I’ll figure something out later.
Till then I just continued watching the game from the sidelines like a shadow.
They were crazy.
Two hours at the game and still going. How could a game of volleyball be that interesting?? So far it was Hwoarang and Steve in the lead. I wasn’t sure by how much, but I know they were definitely ahead. Julia and Xiaoyu are beginning to look a bit sluggish, too. I shook my head and glanced at my watch. I should have never come. Why do I bother with these things anymore??
"Jin!!! Come and play!!!!"
I blinked. There go Xiaoyu’s pleas. I forgot how whiny she could sound when she put her mind up to it. She was waving her arms to get my attention like a maniac. Suddenly Julia accidentally threw the ball to her side and it hit Xiaoyu right in the stomach. She fell back a little and glared at Julia, who wore a guilty expression. I could see her mouth the words, "I thought you would get it!" I laughed.
It was a true laugh, too. One that I felt right in my stomach and my heart began lightening up. I don’t know why it was so funny to me…it just was. I began to calm down and wiped my eyes of the tears that began to form. I hadn’t laughed like that in ages. It made me feel so…whole. For that split second, I forgot all about my unhappiness and just let go of myself.
Then I found everyone else staring at me. Xiaoyu had the ball and she wore this distinct smile on her face.
"Hey Jin…I didn’t think it was that funny!" she exclaimed, putting a pout on her face. "It could have hit my face," she whimpered. Just then Julia smacked her arm. "Oh, that would be a real shame wouldn’t it??" she remarked sarcastically, arching an eyebrow.
Steve chuckled. But Hwoarang remained still, though he eyed them very strangely. I didn’t know what to think. Suddenly all of them bounded towards me. I stood up quickly and wiped off my pants of the damp sand. It began to snow just then and they all froze in their spots. I myself tilted my head upwards only to catch a large snowflake on my nose. I squinted slightly. Large and crystal flakes fell harder and I watched them in awe. The sky was grey and cloudy but the flakes…they didn’t portray that at all. They were light, white, and beautiful. I hadn’t seen this kind of snowfall since I was a child living with my mother. I closed my eyes for a second and tried to capture that memory again.
I had been at least seven when I first saw snow. I was training with my mother when a single flake fell in front of my eyes. Watching it in fascination, it disappeared into the soft ground, leaving a small damp spot…
I looked at my mother in awe. She wore a serious expression and I was confused.
"Mother? Where did it go?? What was it??" I asked in my childish curiosity. The snow made such an impression on me that I couldn’t go back to fighting…not until my question was answered. What was this mysterious white thing that fell from the sky??
Suddenly more and more began falling. I tilted my head upwards just in time to catch a flake on my lips. It melted almost immediately and I was left with its taste. I looked at my mother and saw that she was also looking at the wondrous sparkling dust. I went over to her and tugged on her sleeve and almost reluctantly she looked at me, her eyes misty.
"Mother?? What is this??"
Her face was still, almost in perfection with the swirling mass of flakes around us. For that brief moment I thought she was some kind of goddess and not my mother at all. Then she smiled at me…a sweet and loving smile that would forever be engraved in my memory. She knelt down in front of me and took my hands and turned me around to face the snow again.
"It is snow, a gift from the skies," she murmured softly into my ear. I remember being filled with a warmth that seemed to make me forget all of the long nights in cold I endured. A smile found its way to my lips and I jumped from my mother’s hold and started chasing the snowflakes…like any other ordinary child would do. I remembered hearing my mother laughing and then scolding me to come in before I got sick. But I couldn’t listen to her. This was snow! A gift from the skies couldn’t be taken lightly, not even in my childlike eyes.
Eventually my mother took me into her arms and carried me into the house despite my pleas. She just smiled at me and told me something that I would never forget.
"You can still see it, Jin…even on the inside."
My eyes snapped open at the sudden screaming I heard from Xiaoyu and Julia. I looked at them and found them running around with Hwoarang and Steve throwing snowballs. They gathered snow and rolled them into a ball faster than any snowplow I had ever seen. Xiaoyu and Julia were laughing and soon they began to try at the whole snowball throwing. I looked up at the sky again for a moment as a swirl of flakes filed down on me. A certain warmth filled me again…much like the one that filled me when I first saw snow.
Feeling strangely light-hearted I bent down and made a snowball and aimed it at Hwoarang. It hit him directly on the back of the head and he turned to me in slight surprise. I smirked and got another snowball in hand.
"That was for before," I called out before throwing another one at Xiaoyu. She screamed and suddenly everyone decided to turn me into their targets.
But I didn’t care as I started running away from them, still throwing snowballs.
"Jin, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you look so happy!"
I turned over to glance at Xiaoyu and smiled slightly. She was clinging on to Kazama like there was no tomorrow and he looked especially embarrassed. I grinned at the sight. At least we managed to get him to have fun, though he didn’t have to hit me in the back of the head. That was a bit uncalled for, but I’ll let it slide…for now.
"Is it just me or has it gotten a bit colder?" Steve wondered aloud, rubbing his arms to warm them up. I looked at him and noticed he did seem a bit paler than usual or maybe it was the lack of light. I didn’t know. He was albino enough already.
Julia turned around and nodded, shuddering at the same time. "Yeah! I say we head back to your house and warm up!" she exclaimed, staring at Xiaoyu. She just nodded and began leading the way. I stared at them in disbelief. And they called themselves fighters?? It was just a little arctic chill. I caught Kazama’s gaze and just shrugged before following. Then I realized what I did.
I actually gestured nicely to Kazama.
I may have not said anything but it was still a friendly gesture! What in the world is wrong with me?? Feeling rather stiff suddenly, I clenched my fists by my side and stalked on, regardless of the strange stares Steve’s threw at me. Kazama was my rival. He was my enemy. He was…human. Ah, and so was I. Fuck these freaking pitiful feelings I sympathized him with. When did I ever get so soft…?
I felt like hitting Steve at that moment.
"Hey, Hwoarang! Stop walking so quickly!!!"
That’s Xiaoyu’s wails. I merely smirked and turned around to see them all about a block behind me, and Kazama was even further. I stopped and completely turned around to fully face them, giving them cold stares. "Come on! You were the ones who said you wanted to go home! What the hell’s taking you so goddamn long?" I shouted. I saw Xiaoyu roll her eyes and Julia give a weary sigh and Steve…
Well, he knew me the best so he just remained still.
Shrugging, I began to run. It was actually a very good excuse. They would believe I was just teasing them, but in reality, I just wanted to escape these perilous thoughts of Kazama. I do not like him at all. He is weak and a dishonorable fighter. Then flashes of him laughing and smiling throwing snowballs keeps entering my mind. I told him I would never give him my sympathy. But I am…at least in my own mind I am. Hell knows I would never actually say it aloud to him, "I feel sorry for you, man." God, he’d probably think I was losing my mind. Hell, I would I think I was losing my mind!
I froze and I felt my shoulders slacken. Oh God, why did Xiaoyu have to be so loud? I turned around and saw them running towards me. Kazama was still all the way in the end… And why do I keep reverting back to him??? Frowning, I faced Xiaoyu as she ran up to me, trying to catch her breath. I arched an eyebrow thoughtfully.
"You haven’t been practicing much have you, Ling?" I asked bluntly. I was rewarded with a glare, but before it could get any worse, Julia and Steve arrived followed by a very sullen Kazama, quite the comparison to his nature before.
"Hwoarang…not nice," Steve muttered between chatters. I stared at him strangely. Steve usually never got this affected by the weather. He said so himself that in England it rained and snowed all the time. I would think he’d be used to it…unless he really is catching something. Julia suddenly patted by back and leaned in closer to my ear.
"I think Steve’s sick. I felt his forehead before and he’s really starting to burn up," she hissed in concern while I looked at Steve carefully. Was he actually sick?? Strange…I never imagined that sort of thing happening to him. I wonder why. He is human after all and we all get sick occasionally, but why does it surprise me so much?
He blinked wearily at me as he chaffed his hands desperately to keep them warm. That was probably why Julia and Xiaoyu agreed so quickly to leave. They must have noticed it before I did. Now I feel like the dumb one. They notice things about my best friend that I should and I notice things about Kazama that they don’t. It’s a whole guessing game.
Suddenly I felt a jab by my side and I glanced down at Julia, who was throwing me a dangerous glare. Suddenly I jumped and went over to Steve, placing an arm around his shoulders. "Come on, man! Suddenly I got a crave for hot chocolate and the sooner, the better!" I exclaimed, dragging him ahead quickly. It was more like the sooner we got him home, the better.
He remained still and silent in my grip and suddenly I was struck by an unfamiliar feeling: worry. It usually took a lot for Steve to stop talking, which meant he must have felt worse then he allowed it show. I think I’m beginning to rub off on him, too. Suddenly everyone is quiet as we walked. Not even Xiaoyu and Julia shared in their usual chattering. I suppose they’re worried about Steve and right at that moment, I didn’t want anything more but their chattering. I never realized what a good distracter it was.
Glancing at Kazama, I frowned. They notice Steve, but they don’t notice him. And I think Kazama’s doing much worse than Steve is. He’s just sick with a fever and cold. What that little prick over there has is depression and that won’t be able to cure quite as quickly or easily.
Maybe it was time to shed some light to the girls.
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