When Lightning Strikes Twice
Mother of the Guiltrip
"Last time I ever fly Third Class!" Akira fumed, despite it being the first time she had ever been in any class. It was not the flying fancy free feeling she had anticipated it to be. Children screamed and ran down the aisles, parents yelled after them and the food! Yuk! And she didn't care that she was flying first class, free alcohol was her god given right! Jin said it tainted the soul but a drop or two never hurt anyone. She had needed something to numb her frazzled nerves but the attendant had smiled snidely at her and said, "I'll see what I can do."
Akira was insulted! No-oh, she wasn't asking a favour! She could understand the woman saying that if she had asked, "Could you try making your makeup look a little bit more realistic?"
So here she sat on the plastic seats of some anonymous Tokyo airport. It wasn't too busy but enough to make her feel nervous. She felt like a little girl playing dressups, tugging down a new blouse she had bought that kept inching upwards. She cursed today's fashion and their lack of modesty.
"Tah!" she sniffed haughtily, watching an old gentleman napping opposite her behind a magazine. "What am I doing here?"
The plane to Japan had been delayed by almost an hour. Jin, the poor bugger, chose Ansett with the flight that was supposed o leave that morning. It had been cancelled indefinitely and by those bizarre coincidences that could only be called a twist of fate, the two had ended up on the same flight.
Akira sighed, she had to be on a small runway early tomorrow, so she guessed she should find a place near by. She didn't need anything plush but in the end made the same mistake by choosing a seedy hotel. It was cramped, its single mattress was harder than the floorboards and the bathroom seemed non existent.
"Fool me once," Akira sighed with melancholy as she shut the door behind her, sweeping her gaze across the tiny room in less than a second.
Showering had been another test of willpower. She was first pelted with freezing droplets before the hot water eventually kicked in with a grizzily moan from the pipes. It was scalding and she tangled herself in the shower curtains as she had leapt to escape it. The water then evened out and she soaped herself up, only to have the water shut off completely.
Hissing angrily, she stepped out, carefully avoiding the drain and reluctantly wiping herself down a yellowy towel. The bathmat was a healthhazard waiting to happen. It made a very organic fwap sound when she kicked it out of the way.
Finally she sat down on the bed with her good clothes folded neatly behind her. Comfortable back in her old, crumpled T-shirt and shorts, she lifted out Jin's package.
She hadn't touched it since stuffing it in the overnight bag and so she prayed it wasn't fragile. Sitting it on her lap she neatly slitted each piece of stickytape from the brown butchers paper and twine. Jin could be nostalgically old fashioned, just like his prissy speaking with perfectly round vowels, but it was like having a piece of him there with her. Slowly a piece of clothe was visible, and when she pulled back the last fold, she gasped.
Standing up she held the gi to her chest. She had never had one. Sure, she had a nifty little Muay Thai boxing shorts and shirt, but it was hardly professional. It looked like something you used to patronise children. This, this was beautiful.
It was Japanese influenced, white with sky blue trim with a large blue bow secured to the waist band at the back. The waist band really was a waist band, propping up her breasts and covering her stomach. Once the gi crossed itself it reached her knees. It was light and would allow the full stretch she was accustomed too. There was also a ribbon that would secure her hair, shinwarmers, sandals and a pair of gloves with a long ribbon stitched to each knuckle. Pulling one on, she weaved her hand back and forth watching them ripple and trail in the dull light of the room's bulb after it with delight. The perfect distraction!
"Jin you lil' legend!' she whooped, but muttered inwardly, I'm still going to turn you into a bloody smear.
She marvel at it, folding it reverently away and digging around for her English to Japanese dictionary she brought to brush up as well as a box of muesli bars she had stored. The second bag was crammed with every morsal in the pantry she could fit.
Heck, it would only go mouldy in there anyway, she reasoned, though she knew very well it was pure gluttony.
Lucky for her, all she needed was a bit of revision and she remembered enough to suffice at least until she found Jin.
If your find the bugger, she corrected herself, before settling down to sleep on her rock hard bed.
An icy wind whipped around Akira and she drew her jacket closer, cursing under her breath for not remembering that it was winter in the northern hemisphere. She also suspected it was the Australian climate in her bones, used to the soaring temperatures Queensland was famed for.
She grumbled in the shadows of a bleak grey dawn and took a vicious bite of the last muesli bar. Her nocturnal instincts hadn't been dulled by jetlag and had woke at her usual time. She had paced the room, recited Japanese and ate her food stores. Finally nearing dawn she pushed the room key through the door slot and stole silently into the private runway, easily eluding the guards that patrolled the parameter. They moved at a lazy walk, and their chattering covered any noises she happened to make.
They had opened the gates fifteen minutes ago and found the young girl inside fourteen minutes ago. Satisfied that she was in the right place, she scaled a large, heavily snowed under tree and sat in for a long wait for the other competitors in the tournament. Being high made her feel safe, and she knew that even when they were searching people rarely looked above their own height.
Akira looked at the last bite remorsefully before popping it in and chewed thoughtfully, watching the shadows lengthening across the asphalt.
Then out of the corner of her eye, she saw a shadow pass between two hangers at one end of the runway. The fact that it intended to be so stealthy was the reason it caught her eye. Akira recognised the figure immediately.
Jin! her heart sang with a tinge of smugness.
If Akira had missed the first figure, there was no way to avoid the second. A slim female in a hot pink party dress took Jin's hand and passed through the light into a tiny courtyard between the hangers. Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. With a sharp curse word, she shimmied artfully down the trunk and moved down the fence line so not to draw attention. The agonisingly slow process chaffed her but she could see more people arriving.
She clenched her teeth tightly to stop herself from jumping into clear view and scream at him. Instead, she drew a stiff breath and ducked behind a dumpster. She glimpsing them between the crack of it and the wall. Both spoke quickly in low voices that Akira couldn't make out. She strained her ears and only caught a snatch here and there. Time passed and it seemed nothing more then the meeting of old friends. She played with her fingers and recited the alphabet, peering through the crack impatiently.
Suppressing a loud sigh, she got up and was ready to slip away silently when actions spoke louder then words. Jin placed both hands on her waist, stepping in closer and leaning over the Asian girl preparing to sweep his hood back.
Akira stared, shocked. Slowly She felt white-hot fury swell inside her, and in a graceful catlike leap, she landed on the dumpster with a ringing clang. She didn't care if she was heard, she wanted to be heard!
Jin reacted like lightning, only seeing a figure swathed in shadow and drew into a fighting stance, his friend doing likewise. Akira grinned mentally, they should be afraid!
"Bring it on Jin, cos I'm ready to beat you into a bloody smear!" she snarled, letting the rage flow into her voice. She felt a fierce satisfaction as his expression melted into one of utter bewilderment. "What's wrong Jinnyboy? Didn't expect to see me? Didn't want me to find your little girlfriend?" Akira leapt off the dumpster and advanced towards her. She could see the girl clearly now, Chinese, a little older then herself maybe, but no lines of worry etched across her face.
"Akira, you have the wrong idea," Jin tried to sooth, but she rushed on.
"Now, I don't care that you left me to see an old mate, fine, but the fact that you left not telling me. What were those words? Pain, horror, and betrayal? You had me thing… arg! I don't know what! So what the heck do I do? I packed up, left a nice, well ordered life, thinking you were in a situation of life and death. When I do bloody well find you, you're not in any danger, you're here touching little Miss Life-of-the-Party!"
Akira had spoke in a low venomous, each word short and sharp. It had affected Jin as she had hoped. He looked as if the words had been a physical blow, as if she had stabbed him.
She flicked a poisonous glare in the girl's direction. Brat probably doesn't understand English, she thought contemptuously.
Jin gently took her shoulder and guided her to the side, shooting a pleading look at… Shou-Yu was it? She had been entered in the Iron Fist III. The girl now carried a wounded air as Jin leaned into her ear. Akira simpered at her.
"Akira," Jin chided and then said with difficulty, "Akira, I'm sorry if back in Australia you got the idea that I- That we- that…."
Akira froze. Hadn't she? Hadn't she hoped? Hadn't she played out scenarios in her head? Hadn't she pretended she had walled that off in some part of her subconscious as a girlish crush when she wanted to keep on fantasising?
Akira went on pretending. She pretended the hurt was actually shock and disgust.
"Gah!" Akira squawked, stumbling backwards. "Wha? Gawd no! I was just….. stressed. You left me with a freak'n letter, Jin!" Now she could play the guilt card and let sadness flow into her voice. "Wasn't I worth a goodbye?"
"Akira, I'm sorry," he said quietly. Guilt didn't begin to describe it! She was masterful! She began smoothing out her clothes and taming her wild hair back into its customary ponytail with her head down, like she was trying to hide tears. She was even convincing herself. "I was just afraid this would happen, you would follow me. This isn't a place for children."
"I'm the same age as you were when you entered the tournament," she shot back and Jin's eyes widened.
"You know who I am?"
Akira nodded solemnly. "No worries, Jin," she sighed heavily with a thin smile. When Jin finally swept back his hood it was his turn to laugh. Her eyes became saucers and her jaw sagged. Her hand reached out and let it hang in the air, her fingers opening and closing.
Standing opposite her was the elder brother she never had. She just couldn't understand how the refined young Japanese man had turned into a scruffy Thai teenager. His spiky black hair that always managed to sweep up and back was now had dark brown highlights and smoothed around his ears, even the rebellious strands that resisted his every attempt had been curled into place with a generous amount of gel.
His eyes were different too, contact lenses had been used to match her own muddy brown.
The thing that made her smile most was that living in one of the sunniest places on earth he had an amazingly even tan, bronzed to perfection from the training sessions running up and down the beach in the exhausting sand. It had happened so gradually she hadn't noticed. The only thing different was their bone structure, but that could be easily played off.
"You. You're me!" she said with a laugh of delight. She circled him looking up and down and giving him a playful shove from behind.
"What better disguise?" he smiled mischievously. "I couldn't very well depend on my hoods, could I?"
Akira laughed giddily and threw her arms around Jin's neck, squeezing tightly. Shou-Yu watched sullenly while Akira smiled smugly. If she wanted Jin, she would have to deal with her too.
"Well are you going to introduce us?" Akira unfurled herself from around Jin and slunk back as the Chinese girl's glower became perky.
"Of course," Jin presented, oblivious to the girl's competitive exchange. "Xiaoyu this is Akira, she helped me when I went into hiding. Akira this is Xiaoyu. She and I went to school together. We were very close." Akira forced her smile not to falter. Xiaoyu bowed low and Akira tried to mimic, with little grace.
"We better nick off, this is starting to look suss," Akira said boredly with her hands on her hips, her eyes still glittering.
"Suss?" Xaioyu asked to Akira's astonishment. Of course! The two went to the same school, and Jin's education had been exquisite. Akira grumbled to herself but it was a minor problem.
"Yeah suss, as in two young, sweet and innocent girls, one in a very loud party dress, in a sleazy little hanger with some man in a hood. Suss."
"Oh," she piped in that same ingratingly cute tone.
"Now I'm gonna jump the fence and leave you two to finish what you were talking about. When you're done, look like you've been doing something, no one will ask questions then. "
Akira offered a sly grin, watching them both blush before climbing silently back onto the dumpster and using the guttering to haul herself onto the roof of the shed. Of course she didn't have to do what she had in mind, but a little showing off couldn't hurt. "Oh, and Jinnyboy, your sitting next to me on the plane and your going to explain everything," she added with a your-not-getting-out-if-it-even-if-you-had-a-heart-attack tone she used all too often.
She studied the barbing at the top of the fence. They had built it taller on this side, so she couldn't just climb over it. She pondered her predicament as the sun inched further over the horizon. Finally, the tree on the other side suggested escape. She motioned to the other two to stepped back and moved to the end of the roof furthers from the fence.
Akira swallowed hard; hoping the peak of the roof would hide most of her from the competitors waiting also for the plane and judged how high she would have to go. There were any number of ways this could screw up and she had no wish to think about them.
Still, all was fair in love and war, and she was already behind.
Again taking a deep breath, she hyped herself up, and launched forward. She dashed headlong, her sandshoes striving to grip the corrugated iron and trying to pick up every bit of speed she could. The drop off loomed before her. She forced herself to keep going. She stretched her stride using used the edge and pushed off into the air with all her strength!
Tucking up her legs, hoping against hope she'd clear the barbed wire.
Momentum fell away!
She cursed as she saw there was no chance, unless...
In a desperate attempt to save herself, she flung out a leg.
It landed and balanced on the taunt wire, a long sickle piercing her shoe and stabbing into her foot. Akira whimpered but she thrust herself towards the tree. She uttered a strangled howl as she felt the steel slide through her tissue and come loose, tears stinging her eyes. She reached out one of her spindly arms for a lone snow laden branch.
You can do it, she chanted. You have to do it!
The branch was within her grasp; she was going to make it!
In a cruel twist of fate, an icy gust of wind cut through Akira's body like a knife, and carried the branch with it.
Noooooooo! She mouthed, clawing the air helplessly, and plummeted into the snowy ground.
A plume of ice crystal erupted, and all was still.
(Chuckles) I'll level with you guys. I'd given this story up for the ghost, but have decided to at least post everything I've already written. I fully accept Ki's Suish nature, which was why I decided that it would be my own little indulgence. However a lovely email convinced me to continue posting online. Thanks for coming back if you do, even if T5DR is already on the way! Yay!
Nekomaru: (laughs) Hardly, while I'm not an fanatic shipper of Jin and Xiaoyu, I think they make the most sense as will you have seen in this chapter and once that will follow. I'm glad you liked it so much to fav it, and to come back and read it again. Thankyou very much, it gave me a glow all over!
AngelKougaeri: Thankyou for your encouragement and compliments.
IcePhoenix: The one and only (grins). That little project I told you has been put on hiatus, but you're still my favourite reviewer. You rock, mate! Every review is full and uplifting. You actually give reasons for why you liked it which means a lot!
Element6: Thankyou, although I didn't fulfil your second wish. Still, I'm back
TheNextSentinel: Aww, another little warm bubble to swell my head. Thankyou. If you were anxious for that chapter, I grin deviously to see what you think of this one!
On yis all! You mean a lot to a self indulgent author.