She walked into the vast chapel room and shivered as a draft followed her in. Shadows enveloped the most of the area, kept weakly at bay by candles clinging to the stone walls. Julia's eyes struggled to adjust when she thought she saw movement. When she identified the curled up figure quietly sitting on the bottom steps as Xiaoyu, both fear and curiosity washed through her. She tried to say the Chinese girl's name, but perhaps the pressing silence discouraged her. So quickly she rushed over, her boots scuffling and resounding sharply in her ears.
Once reaching Xiaoyu, she knelt down by her and tried to look into the girl's face as it was lowered, further thickening the shadows across her young features.
"Xiaoyu?" Julia managed to whisper, and rested a gloved hand on Xiaoyu's shoulder to gently shake her.
Xiaoyu hardly reacted. Worry wracked Julia as minutes dragged by without a single bubbly yip or comical gasp to lighten this bleak mood saturating the air. The Native American began to wonder if the other girl was even conscious. Though, sure enough, upon a little closer examination she saw the languid flap of open eyes. Julia said the girl's name again, and flinched when two filmy brown eyes raised up to look her straight in the eye. Dried trails of tears marked Xiaoyu's pallid skin, but what Julia noticed most was the blazing mark ripped through Xiaoyu's pink blouse on her shoulder.
"Oh my... What happened? Who did this to you?" Julia asked urgently. Then her heart stopped. This mark... It couldn't have been from...?
"I did some things... Julia. I tried... I tried to..." Xiaoyu's words broke in a sob. She pressed curled hands to her eyes, trembling furiously. "And now he's so... so angry. But... I never meant to hurt... I just wanted..."
The air got colder, sharper. Julia swiveled her head in every direction, searching for the threat she knew was near. Her hands fisted as she jumped to her feet, readying to protect Xiaoyu, who cried uncontrollably. Julia's eyes darted this way and that.
"Come on," she muttered. The longer she waited, the more unnerved she became. "Come out, coward!" she finally shouted.
"Do not deign to protect that pathetic creature," a deep, masculine voice said.
Julia knew that voice. That voice... It was...
"Jin?" she said breathlessly. The second she did, there he was. Suddenly standing before her, tall, imposing with his powerful build. His face was only shrouded by the room's shadows, not a hood. Julia forgot everything for a moment as she timidly moved toward him a step, hoping to see into his eyes. Hoping they were that kind, warm brown she'd once known.
She carefully reached out a hand, inching closer. Within a few inches, her sight was blurred, and a gasp rushed from her throat as she was whirled around most abruptly. She half-expected to be thrown across the room. But she wasn't.
Instead she was now behind Jin, his firm hand holding her wrist. What was he doing? She wasn't the one needing protecting!
"Never turn your back on something like this. Beneath that innocent mask, she's a wretch who'd stab you the moment you turned around."
Wha? He couldn't be talking about Xiaoyu! "Jin! You're not making sense. Don't you know who she is?" Julia huffed out, trying to peer around his broad shoulders, but he kept her blocked from Xiaoyu's surely petrified self.
Jin's grip tightened just a little, relaying a startling degree of anger. What could have incited him to such a state?
"Ling Xiaoyu. She was obsessed. Unknowingly spiraling into a realm of jealousy and loathing."
Julia narrowed her eyes, finding it difficult to understand. "No. No, you're mistaken, Jin. She's lost so much. Family, friends, dreams. All to that bastard, Heihachi! But she cares about you. She cares about you deeply... She wouldn't—"
"Obsession," he stated in a low, chilling tone.
"I said I was sorry!" Xiaoyu cried out.
Julia paled. This was serious. Jin actually sounded like he would hurt Xiaoyu, and Xiaoyu's voice wavered painfully with such sorrow. Reaching her limits, Julia jerked free and leapt back from him. She had to get Xiaoyu away from Jin. Which probably meant some fighting. Maybe if she...
"What?" she worded but wasn't sure it came out. Something... Something stood behind Jin, something wraithlike; transparent, a shudder of dulled prismatic colors taking form of a monster. "Jin..."
"You won't interfere with my life anymore. Nor will you hurt the one's I love," Jin declared deafeningly.
Julia realized he was still set on Xiaoyu, and hurried to get around him. She tried to get near Xiaoyu. All she needed was to get a hold of the girl's arm and drag her out. But Jin effectively warded Julia off every single time she made an attempt. She hardly saw him move, even though in the blink of an eye she'd find herself skidding on her back or knocked to her rump.
"Stay back, Chang," was all Jin said before blowing her back.
Then he said to Xiaoyu, "Pay for your mistake."
"NO!" Julia cried. She threw her arms up to shield her eyes when a blinding light pulsated through the room. A few seconds passed before she could lower them and rush toward the commotion.
Jin was standing over a lump on the ground. Xiaoyu. Julia slid to her knees by the Chinese girl and lifted the girl's head onto her lap, checking her wrist for a pulse at the same time. She then pressed her first two fingers to Xiaoyu's neck and... There was a steady beat. That didn't relieve Julia though. She looked up at Jin accusingly.
"What did you do?"
For the first time, Jin's gaze met her own. The eyes were brown and mellow. But Julia couldn't allow herself to be placated.
"Let her go. She's to bear responsibility for her actions alone."
"She plotted against you," he said over her. Julia's brow pinched in confusion. "She indulged herself in twisted fantasies, playing the martyr in each so that her actions in real life would seem just. We spent only few hours together, Chang, but perhaps due to the timing -- when she'd lost most everything -- she snapped. I was distancing myself... from everyone and it ate away at her that I seemed to make one exception. You."
Julia almost wanted to laugh. But she didn't feel mirthful in the least. Not even amused. True, she spent approximately three hours total with Jin Kazama. As far as she'd known, those hours were strictly on a business level. She needed funding to continue her reforesting project. It was bizarre and crazy, but she somehow got in touch with the CEO of the Mishima Zaibatsu, now Jin, and... they had a discussion. That was it. Or... was it?
"Xiaoyu lost herself when she lost so much of her soul at once," Jin said, turning away from her and crossing his arms. "She followed me around, sometimes against my wishes. When she saw us together, she apparently got the idea that I... 'looked at you different'."
Julia looked away abashedly. Silence ensued for the longest moment yet, until she plucked up the courage to ask him to continue.
Jin sighed roughly before he did so. "She took that idea to precarious heights. On the outside, she was the quiet and melancholic Xiaoyu I'd gotten used to seeing around the office, but inside... I don't think she knew it, but as I said, she was spiraling. I noticed longer periods of time when she'd disappear, in between visits where I'd witness her gradually returning to her old self. Then the Zaibatsu was accused for the murder of an American, the mother of one of our clients."
Julia's eyes widened. That cold dug deeper and deeper.
"Xiaoyu didn't kill Michelle Chang. But she had a hand in it, ignorant to the meaning in her actions. Only a few days later, there were reports of theft within our company. These funds were headed toward your little research institute. A month after that, your roommate almost died of a gun wound, from a bullet that was undoubtedly meant for you. Xiaoyu even forged letters in your name. She did so many things... just to erase you from my mind. So you see." He paused, turning again to face her. Julia barely remembered falling to her knees on the floor, where she'd indeed ended up. She didn't want to believe any of it, but she looked at him and awaited the end. "You can't even place trust in virgin eyes."
Every breath felt like daggers down her throat. Jin's footsteps were fading. Her mind told her to leave things be, but her body pulled her up and rushed her after the man she'd secretly dreamed about ever since they'd first met eyes. Part of her wished he'd already gone. There was so much standing in their way, so many conflicts that had no resolution... She couldn't just...
Suddenly she didn't care. Her thoughts dissipated the moment she'd flown out the doors and landed into his arms. Jin held her steady for a moment, and then moved his arms around her back, holding her close.
Julia quivered. "Will you leave forever?"
"Is that a request?"
"No!" she blurted. And then blushed when his lips quirked up ever so slightly. She summoned up as much courage she had left and then said, "I mean... I... I don't want you to leave... forever. But if you're going to..."
His eyes became sad, and Julia felt a stab in her chest. She resisted crying. "You... are going to. Then... Then I can't... No! Don't—"
It was too late. His lips were over hers, so warm and tender. A tear rolled down her cheek, and his thumb softly brushed it away. She gave herself to him in that kiss. She gave up all to him, and knew she wouldn't have it back.
When he pulled away he stayed close, his forehead pressed to hers. Julia pulled a water smile and whispered, "Did you trust my virgin eyes?"
"From the moment I saw them."
"You know you have all of me?"
He kissed her forehead. "I wish I could return that sentiment..."
She buried her face in his chest, tears beginning to spill from her eyes ceaselessly. All she wanted was right there, embracing her. All she wanted... and yet the one thing she couldn't have.
"Damn you for kissing me, Kazama," she uttered quietly as another man rolled off her to his side of the bed.
The redhead was already asleep, visage like an angel's against the creamy sheets. Even graced with such a heartwarming sight, Julia's thoughts strayed.
She thought of Xiaoyu. Her obsession. Her desperation. Her pain. Her fall from grace. Regardless of Jin's wishes, Julia occasionally visited the Chinese girl. Blind, Xiaoyu was suddenly renewed as a person. She strived to return to status as a known fighter, a fine representation of her country. While they never spoke of anything revealed in that gloomy chapel, they were good company for each other.
She thought of that entity lurking in Jin's shadow. The demon with glowing red eyes. Its power. Its ugliness. She saw it on occasion, wandering through her darker dreams, going where it pleased, whispering words unintelligible. Often... she'd see Jin smiling... and then that beast would draw near him, and he'd look so... hurt.
She thought of Jin. She thought of him every waking moment. She'd watch the sunrise and the sunset and think about him doing the same. She'd daydream about him when she stood by the fire, because the town of Shimamoto had some chilly nights. Sometimes… she wondered… where was the line of obsession drawn?
She closed her eyes, and said the one name that kept her alive,
(AN: Yes, gaps, unexplained happenings, long-windedness, and... whatnot. I meant to make a one-shot. Maybe I need to flesh this out just a little and… whatnot. Ah well, I'm just trying to work past writer's block. Constructive criticism much appreciated.)