Of Fireworks and Mooncakes
AN: This is the first time I'm writing Kilik x Xianghua so pardon me for any shortcomings! Here you go, enjoy but please review:)
It was the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, a very special day for most plebeians of China – mid-autumn festival. One need not be a native to feel the exuberance and the ceaseless buzz that could only be rivaled by the only other significant occasion – Lunar New Year. On this particular mid-autumn however, the excitement was considerably more acute than in previous years, if that was even possible at all.
"There're going to be fireworks tonight, mother! The first time in five years!" an excited child tugged at his mother's hand, the other hand waving a bright orange paper lantern. "We have to hurry to the city central to get the best view!"
Xianghua grinned at the scene from her position on the rooftop, while the clueless villagers milled around on the narrow streets of the city, occasionally stopping by street-side stalls, admiring some clay figurines or purchasing some of the heavenly candied plums. Brightly colored lanterns dotted the streets in every direction. In her opinion, this was as good as it gets; there would be neither obstructive heads nor loud roars that usually came along with street crowds. Besides, this was the best excuse to spend some quality time with Kilik.
She blushed slightly, for Kilik wasn't anybody to her, in terms of status at least. She chided herself for even thinking of him as anyone special. They had always been best of friends, the three of them – including Maxi of course. On this very night however, Maxi had decided last minute that he had really wanted to join the crowd in the city for the celebrations. He was never really a discreet person, and would prefer to be in the midst of action rather than to sit it out on the sidelines.
Perhaps it was the fault of the festivities – recently she seemed to notice more loving couples walking hand in hand around town, preparing for the mid-autumn festival – that made her feel lonely. Yes, she thought, festivities were times to be spent with the one you love… in the comforts of home, no less.
"I'm back!" Kilik landed effortlessly on the roof beside Xianghua, a result of rigorous training from before he set off on a journey to seek the Soul Calibur. "And I bought you some goodies too!" He set a heavy paper bag in between them and Xianghua could smell the unmistakable fragrance of –
"Mooncakes!" Xianghua squealed like a child presented with a bag full of candies. "And you bought wine too!"
Kilik laughed merrily. "But you're not allowed to drink tonight; you get drunk too easily. Those are mine." He gently pried the flask from her fingers and took a moment to sniff the wine, his eyes half closed in indulgence. "This is good stuff. Set me back by a few silver coins. Luckily the shop owner liked me and gave me a discount."
"But today's such a joyous occasion… you can't stop me from drinking!" she bent over to grab the flask from Kilik, but her exclamation turned from playful to one of horror when she almost tipped over the roof.
"Careful there," Kilik whispered, managing a strong hold on Xianghua's waist. Xianghua was acutely aware that she was teetering precariously over the roof, plus the fact that she lay halfway draped across his lap. Some part of her screamed to get a grip on herself and pull back! Yet another part wanted this to last forever. Before she could decide on what to do however, Kilik had carefully replaced Xianghua back to her original position, the grin not leaving his face. "Can't imagine what'll happen when you're drunk." He shook his head in mock despair.
Xianghua crossed her arms and stuck out her tongue. She was not about to quarrel with Kilik over a flask of wine she wasn't that interested in drinking anyway. In actual fact she was thankful that he could not see her face – as red as beetroot. It wasn't so much the embarrassment: she had her fair share of embarrassing moments in front of Kilik that it was impossible not to feel immune to it by now. It was… the touch. Xianghua couldn't remember Kilik ever doing that before, though she was aware that the whole incident had purely been an accident. Xianghua cast a sideward glance at Kilik, who was looking in the distant sky as though it had never mattered much to him. But she can't stop herself from thinking about it.
"Wonder when the fireworks are starting," Kilik looked around impatiently at the village below him, taking a small sip out of the wine flask.
Xianghua plucked a small piece of mooncake and began nibbling on it. "Don't be impatient. We've got the best view in town!" Sure enough, from their position, the city centre was clearly visible, its position further highlighted by the sea of lanterns the villagers carried.
"Look at the moon… They say it's the brightest and roundest tonight in the whole year." Kilik swung his head casually to face the bright, pale yellow orb hanging so low above their heads. "Heard of the legend of the women who went up to the moon?"
Xianghua smiled and continued nibbling at the sweet mooncake. When Kilik started talking, there was no stopping him. Besides, she enjoyed listening to him chatter about these unimportant things. It made her feel, even if it was only for a brief moment, that he had put his past behind him. Although he had never admitted to them, Xianghua observed that Kilik's mood often lapsed into highs and lows. She could never fathom what he was thinking during his lows, but she imagined it had something to do with the killings at the Ling-Sheng Su Temple several years ago, of which he claimed he was guilty of. It was the periods of highs – like now – that reassured her that Kilik had not lost himself. That he had managed to cope with his overbearing guilt and had moved on.
She turned to face him, contented with just… watching, and of course, hearing his soothingly deep voice, though she wasn't particularly listening to his story.
Why is it so wrong to like you, Kilik?
"Hmm, Xianghua did you just say something?" he glanced at her, a curious look on his face.
She hadn't realized that she had said his name out loud. With a slight shake of her head and a small smile, she brushed the incident aside.
She could see the light before the sound reached them – the fireworks display had started! Bright red sparks shot up straight into the sky first, like magical sparkles. Xianghua got to her feet immediately, balancing a little unsteadily on the narrow beam of the roof. "Who knows when there would be another round of fireworks?" Xianghua shouted over the noise, when Kilik asked her to come down. "I just want to get as close to this as possible."
There was yet another wave of excited buzz as the second burst of yellow sparkles burst into a flower-shaped formation. Xianghua couldn't resist letting out a shrill shriek as well. Again and again, the fireworks executed one after another almost tirelessly, before finally dimming down about half an hour later.
"Come on Kilik – you've got to stand up too! I can see at least a mile into the city from here!" she extended a hand to the young man sitting down.
"Oh no… I don't think I can," Kilik mumbled. And Xianghua soon knew why. Upon careful examination, the wine bottle had been completely drained in the duration it took for the fireworks display to end – possibly even less. She kneeled closer to him, stifling the odor of alcohol and plucking the fragile glass bottle out of his hands, carefully placing it in the paper bag. It would certainly be disastrous if it had slipped and landed on somebody's head.
With a soft thud she sat down right next to Kilik, closer than she had ever been before. The sleeves of her top brushed lightly with his bare arms. She had intended to sit beside him for as long as it took for him to become sober again, and therefore she jumped slightly when she turned and found Kilik's now bleary eyes on her.
"You know Xianghua, your lips… I wonder how they…" At that instant, he dipped forward, face-first. Either he had tried to kiss her but missed completely, or he had lost consciousness. In either case, she found him in a peculiar position – draped over her as she had done so just an hour before. The silly expression he had worn on his face just a few minutes ago was replaced by one of total unconsciousness.
Xianghua was shocked, to say the least. Finally, she let out a stifled giggle. She was lucky that none of the villagers who had passed them had seen them. At least, those who had turned their heads upward had only glanced at the moon which was in the far eastern side, opposite from them. She would have a sorry time explaining the scene to anyone, she presumed, if anyone had seen them together like that…
"This is what happens when you take all the good stuff for yourself," Xianghua chided him jokingly. The side of Kilik's face was turned up slightly and she could see his faint pink cheeks and mouth drooped slightly open. She playfully pushed the bottom of his jaw so that his mouth would close, but the moment she let go, it fell right into its ajar state again. Xianghua tried very hard to stifle a giggle, just as Kilik stirred in his slumber. She had really just wanted to make sure Kilik was fast asleep.
"Did you want to know what my lips tasted like, Kilik?" Xianghua wondered out loud after some time. Although he hadn't said the word "taste" at all, she assumed that was what he would have said. She would have given up anything to do what she was about to do – and she did it right then.
She brushed her lips just slightly with his.
"Tell me… if it tastes more than just mooncakes."