A/N: My first try on Xiaolin Showdown fandom. Hope I do this right :D
I would always remember the first time you laid your hand on meit was in a form of a really hard punch that nearly reversed my biceps and triceps. In your snappy primadonna voice, you ordered me to 'lay off the monk'. If looks were as lethal as cliches make it so, then I could have torn you into thousand pieces of wasted flesh right there and then. Did you know that you were the first girl to boss me around in a manner only nagging wives do? Did you know that I have marked your name on my 'to-cream-with-much-evil-glee' list for being so?
And I had to live with that attitude of yours for God knows how long. After all, you were the Dragon of the Fire, with an equally fiery temper to match. No matter what, I should learn to get along with you because you ARE my teammate. The temple could not remain standing if deprived of one pillarone dragon. And for our quest to find all the Shen-Gong-Wu to succeed, we needed each other.
So along with learning to adjust to Clay's western accent and fondess for anything ropes and loops, as well as Omi's strange speech and way of living that seemed to have been forever frozen in ancient period of the East, I had to accept the fact that I would be working with a) a girl; b) who is coincidentally a snotty rich daughter brat that couldn't live without high-tech gadgets; c) and could deliver a real jab on the shoulder.
Yeah, life's just peachy.
And just when I thought things couldn't get much harder than that, life decided to play an annoying joke at me.
As time passed and I began to get to know you better, I started...well, I started wondering. And I started asking stupid questions.
How could you look so...er...good...uh, cute even when you're mad as hell with me? You had a way of making your cheeks flare and your upturned nose crinkle when you agonize over becoming the target of my humor. Probably because of the natural laws concerning wind's natural attraction to fan the flames, or maybe because I just like getting your attention. Either way, the constant teasing and bantering we do unconventionally linked me to you.
How exactly would be beyond my comprehension.
I also couldn't understand why your treatment of me differs from Omi or Clay, or even Dojo for that matter. You don't roll your eyes at the cowboy when he and Omi laugh at some stale joke that was more ancient than the Xiaolin temple itself. Yet your sighs of exasperation immediately follow whenever I poke innocent fun at the naive monk or the dragon. In such simple ways, you could make my IQ feel light years lower from them. A mere raise of those brows or a few curt words could do it with such ease.
And for the life of me, why could you seem so different when it concerns that bald dwarf. Whenever we get trapped in our enemy's lair, which name would you call out first? Of course, him. Whenever we are about to leave one place, which name do you always ask for? Of course, Omi.
Where is Omi? We can't leave without Omi. Let's look for Omi. I hope that Omi's alright.
How could someone as unaffected as him elicit that kind of protective and caring emotion from you so easily? What's in him that could make those almond eyes soften easily while gazing at the unwitting him?
And more importantly, why does it feel that the answers to those would matter very much to me?
It had been two years since I first asked myself that question. Until know, I couldn't come up with anything solely coherent. Maybe there were things that were better left unexplained, best left alone. And maybe I could only suceed in answering that puzzle when I had acknowledged that I too, inspite of my proud self-sufficiency, had needs I alone could not provide. It just happened to be that one of these was something...someone unreachable: a bratty insensitive amateur boxer who releases her pent-up artistic inclinations by dyeing her hair regularly.
I exhaled deeply. "Yes?"
Kimiko raised an eyebrow at me. "Well, I'm pleased to see you too."
"Sorry. You did interrupt me while I am amidst meditation," I replied, still refusing to budge from my seat on the cherry blossom tree branch.
She laughed. "Oh. Is that a new dictionary term for video game sessions?"
"The game's with Omi, if you're looking for it," I said, shrugging.
"Actually, I was looking for you." She leaned on the bark of the tree, turning her head up at me. "I'm thinking that maybe you can help me."
"I'm NOT painting your nails."
"Never said anything about that. But now that you have mentioned it..."
I groaned, making her laugh some more.
"So if it's not having your nails done, then what is it?" I asked, glancing down at her.
I was surprised when her playful smile vanished. She let out a distressed blow of breath and then crossed her arms in front of her chest. She meant business.
"I told Omi something," she began. "And I think he didn't understand me."
I felt something form in my throat. "Y-You did, huh?"
"Hair-growing formula or growth vitamins?"
"What?" For a minute her face twisted in confusion. When realization dawned, her hands landed on her hips. "Rai, what does this look like, a comedy club?"
"No. More like a romantic date under the moonlight." I gave her one of my trademark smirks.
She sighed. "You, mister, are a worthless listener." Straightening up, she tossed me a penny. "Buy yourself a person to teach you how to stay put and listen, then call me when you already graduated on that course."
"You told him you care for him."
This made her freeze.
I looked up at the night skies. "You did, right?"
"Yeah," came her soft, almost inaudible reply. After a moment, she spoke again. "I told him to take care of himself because I don't want to see him hurt. He told me not to worry too much. And then...and then I told him that how can I not worry? I care about what will happen to him..."
"Idiot," I said quietly. "You know better than to say those things to him."
"I-I know, I know," she agreed. I could almost imagine the rueful smile that could have crossed her delicate face. "It...it just came out."
"What did he say?" I wanted to know.
"He told me that friends must trust each other. And as the Dragon of Water, he knows his strength." She paused, and then looked back at me. "You think he got what I am telling him?"
"Do you want me to affirm what's on your mind?" I asked back.
"So that's...a 'no'." Her head hung. "Y-You think I should try and tell him again?"
That was one of the most difficult questions someone had posed to me.
I looked down at my shoes. "Why not? Something should penetrate that thick, dense skull of his somehow as time passes by." I forced a laugh. "Maybe constantly reminding him that would make him contemplate."
"I-Is it not begging for affection too much on my part?" she asked.
"Brat." I laid my head on my elbows. "Are you expecting everything to be served to you on a gold platter? There are things in life you must work for. Just because you have lived all your life receiving and not having to ask for it doesn't mean it would be like that all your life." I closed my eyes. "Asking a little is not begging. It just means you want it enough to forget silly little things like pride just to have it."
"I like...I like Omi...a lot," she confessed.
Why didn't she knock me unconscious instead?
"So what are you still doing here?" I asked, faking a yawn. "Your wasting both my time and yours. Go get the monk."
"You rock, Raimundo!"
"Like I didn't know that, brat."
Some minutes had passed before I allowed myself to get up, thinking it was safe.
I was wrong.
Kimiko's eyes were trained on me, as if in deep thought.
"Hey, Kimiko?" I hesitated whether looking her way would give away the very last thing I want her to know. Deciding that I should risk it, I made eye contact to read what she was feeling.
Wasted effort. She had already turned her back on me, her pigtailed tresses dancing with the cool, nocturnal breeze.
"When will you stop seeing me as a brat, Raimundo?" she asked evenly.
I laughed uncomfortably. "W-What made you ask that?"
She paused hesitantly, and then shrugged nonchalantly. "Nothing much. It's just that...you were the very first guy I liked."
I fell speechless.
"And..." She faced me, smiling now. "...I know that I am risking major ego inflation with what I said. But I just felt like you should know that, being a cool person you are." This was one of the rare times she spoke without her usual sarcasm.
I swallowed with much difficulty. "So what made you change your mind?"
A touch of sadness crossed her eyes. "You're too much of your own person...to need someone like me. I need to be needed, and Omi needs me."