The King of Street Fighters

A KoF/SF Fanfiction

Written by Zero-Sennin

Chapter 20: Lonely Man, Flaming Moon, and Reclamation—Stormy Jam

Nagato knew that he was fighting a harder battle than usual from the moment he rushed to meet Terry's opening dash. First and foremost, he now had longer reach and more battle experience to contend with. Besides all that, Terry's motivation to win was as high as it could possibly get—his apprentice had lost very, very badly, and if he went too, the Wolf and Cub Team's dreams of tournament dominance would founder.

In other words, Nagato had to come out swinging or he'd taste hard canvas, repeatedly, until Terry had completely knocked him out.

Those facts clearly acknowledged in his mind, the younger man met Terry's shoulder charge with one of his own, colliding heavily and stopping the blonde in his tracks. They broke apart quickly, but soon enough, they were in the fray again, exchanging hard blows to the face, the head, and the stomach--really, anywhere he could reach.

Unfortunately for Nagato, Rock's blows were gradually taking their toll; his head was still a bit fuzzy—he could feel his concentration fluctuating as he strove to break through Terry's attacks with a solid connection—and his shoulder was aching from his last-minute contact with Terry's Power Charge. Eventually, he misjudged a punch and extended his arm for a fraction of a second too long; Terry immediately brushed the weak attack aside and nailed Nagato with a hook and a straight, followed by another Power Charge to finish the combo.

The move was undoubtedly strong, but through sheer force of will, Nagato managed to stay standing, and even countered with a stronger punch than his last, hitting Terry straight in the face. The force of the blow knocked Terry's hat off, and he staggered back, clutching his rapidly blackening eye; free from the pressure, Nagato took a moment to gather himself, steeling his nerves for what he was about to do next, and then leapt back and up into the air.

"Whoa, he's got hops," Ken remarked in surprise. "What's he planning?"

"I think…I remember this one," Ryu murmured, half-responding to Ken. "When I fought Makoto, she did the same thing, but…she missed—landed just short of hitting me with a nasty dive-kick. Terry's stunned, though. Unless he moves fast, he won't make it."

Roaring loudly, Nagato did exactly as Ryu predicted, rocketing down with his foot outstretched. However, Terry was shaken out of his brief bout of confusion thanks to the noise, and he managed to pull a glowing fist back as Nagato descended.

"Here we go!" the blonde American cried. "POWAAAAAAH…GEYSAAAAAH!"

And he slammed his hand to the ground, spawning a huge wave of energy that engulfed Nagato, who was just about to land. Immediately, the Rindoukan fighter was blown back and away; though he didn't hit the padding outside of the arena too hard, the shock from the blow was just too much for him, and he didn't get up.

Makoto, who had been sitting and watching the entire fight with absolute calm, stood quietly as soon as Nagato's arm flopped weakly onto the mat beneath him. Before the medics reached him, she was there, lifting him up gently, almost cradling him, with a look of inscrutability on her face. Once the stretcher came for him, she placed him upon it almost casually, and then stepped into the ring while Terry was picking up his hat and settling it back on his blonde locks.

"…I am impressed," she said to him once he looked up at her. "You let your emotions fuel your spirit, but did not let them overtake you."

She lifted her hands to shoulder level, showing her palms freely, and then thrust them down, pointing the fingertips towards each other stiffly. The fighting ring shook briefly, causing Terry to stagger a bit, as she slid into her stance; her scarf began to flutter behind her of its own volition.

"Come anytime!" she barked, her voice loud and fiery as it normally was. "Rindoukan's fist won't fall to you again!"

Terry responded by straightening his cap and taking a deep breath, mostly to calm the nerves in his body that were quivering either from anticipation or outright fear.

That…thing just now…was all fighting spirit. This is going to be rough.

He settled his shoulders, put up his hands, and clenched them into fists, grinning.

"Let's rock and roll!"

"Yeah, let's!" Vice agreed with a truly manic smile. "Get to it anytime, Terry, Makoto!"

Knowing that hesitation would be fatal, Terry moved in, leaping forward fist-first with a Burning Knuckle. Makoto, in contrast, advanced slowly, dodging the attack with a slight lean to the side and hitting Terry with a counter-punch. Tirelessly, she followed with a sharp elbow to the face, another to the chest—driving him to the floor—and snapped out a sharp kick to the sternum as a finisher.

Carried by the force of the kick, Terry flipped over, head and heels, and landed on his back, shaking the ring quite forcefully. For a while, it looked like the American was down and out; Makoto subsequently decided to confirm it by walking over to him to deliver a coup de grace…and received a nasty surprise, as Terry quickly launched into a foot-first upwards spin, twisting his heel on Makoto's chin multiple times as they flew up into the air.

"Rising Tackle!"

"Damn," Ryo hissed. "That was a strong one! She's done for."

Yuri shook her head, whipping her braid around. "I don't think so, nii-chan. That Makoto lady doesn't fool around. She'll get right up and put Terry out like a light."

The blonde snorted, arms crossed. "Well, we'll see about that."

Of course, they did see very quickly, as Makoto managed a back-flip recovery and kicked out at a still-vulnerable Terry, pushing them both back. Terry landed roughly on the floor, grunting; on the other hand, while Makoto stuck her landing, it was chancy enough to put a quiver into her ankle, as well as a short, lancing pain. Inadvertently, she drew a breath raggedly enough to aggravate her injured jaw, which caused a few tears of pain to drop from her eyes.

"…OK, so maybe, just MAYBE…she could put him down," Ryo acceded grudgingly. "Still, the match ain't over yet, is it?"

Oh, how wrong he was on that second part.

Makoto's momentary distraction enabled Terry to get back onto his own feet fairly quickly and get just a little closer to her. Rather than attack, though, he watched carefully, his eyes thoughtful as he came up with an off-the-cuff plan to make sure that Makoto would get set up for full defeat.

First, he punched the ground, as if he was summoning another Power Geyser, but instead of the huge wave, a smaller one rushed along the ground, aimed directly at Makoto. The Rindoukan fighter managed to take a short dash out of the way despite her impeded movement; unfortunately, the maneuver left her open long enough for Terry to leap at her, using a forward somersault to drop his outstretched leg and ankle on her head.

"Crack Shoot!"

Stunned by the blow, Makoto yelped and fell to a knee, practically putting her hand through the floor with the way she slammed her palm down to keep herself upright. Terry wasn't stopping his attack just for that, though—he used an uppercut to catch her on the jaw and pull her to standing level (of a sort), then used another Power Charge to knock her down.

When she finally struggled to her feet again, Terry's fist was cocked back, glowing with energy, and she recognized what he was going to do immediately, having seen the move in the preliminaries just like everyone else.

"…Buster…Wolf", he called it, she thought. It's a lot like the Hayate in theory…so maybe the Hayate can match it….

She looked over to the medical tent where Nagato was still being checked, and closed her eyes for a moment, gathering her thoughts.

Here's hoping that we really did learn from each other, Nagato-kun.

With a single, sharp movement, she entered the stance for her Hayate—one hand out, the back of her other fist turned towards her face—and inhaled sharply, such that the ring shook and that her scarf's tails fluttered as if they'd been caught in a storm.

What the hell is she doing? Terry wondered, briefly bewildered by the ground's movement under him. The answer became all too clear when he felt a raw pulse of energy surge up and through her, even from his position clear on the other side of the ring. It wasn't refined enough for a blast, or anything like that, but it was damn well enough to pump up her physical ability.

Terry had a distinct feeling that if he met her attack with Buster Wolf, he would damn well lose the fist he used on her, or at the very least put it into an absolutely FUBAR state. If he let her attack connect with him, though, he'd be spinning like a top…and into the ground. He could tell that much.

Lettin' her come at me will just get me killed. Guess I gotta buck up and go for it.

Without warning, he shot forward, yelling out, "THIS IS IT! Are you OK?!"

Makoto tensed up and furrowed her brows as the glowing fist came closer and closer to her. Here it comes! Go all out, Makoto!


In an instant, Makoto unleashed her power and slid forward as Terry bore down on her, and screamed:

"Banfuu Toppa!"

Without fanfare, their fists met head on, and the force of the collision shook the ring below them. From the ringside, Mature and Vice grinned and looked at each other, feeling the power feed into their bodies in a thick, constant stream.

"This should be more than enough," the blonde purred. "Oh, yes, more than enough…."

"I still say we should keep this running," Vice countered. "These people are expecting the show to go on. Let's give them that, at least."

"Why, of course."

Of course, Terry and Makoto weren't concerned with that—only with outlasting the other long enough to claim victory. Granted, their opposing directions had caused the force of their attacks to magnify and ripple up their punching arms, bringing astounding pain up with them, but that wasn't their concern either…at least, that wasn't their concern yet.

"Hey, hey, you're still OK?" Terry asked over the howl of wind swirling around them. "You really are somethin', you know that?"

"As are you," Makoto replied; though her voice was loud, she wasn't screaming so much as projecting it. "But…I am not going to stand here and let this spring breeze ruffle me forever."

With a mighty grunt, she began to step forward, allowing her colliding hand to be pushed backwards by Terry. Of course he could see and understand what she was doing, and so he let her come closer, knowing that he would have to measure his counter-attack or risk being pushed off balance.

Then, at the absolutely final moment, he moved forward as well, swinging with his free hand.

This time, there was no collision of fists…only a cross-counter.

Her fist buried halfway into his face, his fist buried halfway into her face.

The wind from before died down, and their clashing hands became free from one another, falling and dangling limply. They stood, frozen, at the ring's center, for what seemed like an eternity, as the crowd went dead silent and watched them eagerly, fearfully, curiously.

"…Crap," mumbled Terry at last, managing to speak around Makoto's hand. "What the hell are you made of, girl?"

"Hard work, dedication, and passion," she replied slowly. "No more and no less than what you are made of."

He grinned shakily. "Heh… No joke…."

Slowly, he fell to a knee, and then splayed out onto his back, closing his eyes; his cap fell from his head and rolled along the arena floor, stopping face-up. After a moment, Makoto finally straightened up, squaring her shoulders, and bowed shortly to Terry's prone form before striding boldly from the arena…directly towards the medical tent, limping a bit and holding her trembling right hand by the wrist.

"…That was quite possibly the most ludicrous thing I've ever seen in my entire life," Ken finally managed to say. "If we draw her team, I refuse to fight, period. Between that Nagato kid and her, one of them would get me to explode, or something, I dunno."

"Never knew you were such a coward, Ken," Iori replied. "Gonna go home now?"


"You're makin' a scene, you idiots!" Cammy hollered at them. "Stuff it!"

"YOU FIRST, 'WANKER'," Ken shouted back.

Before the scene could escalate any further, Ryu knocked firmly on Ken's forehead and gave Cammy a sharp look, shutting them both up.

"Quiet down, children," he deadpanned. "We don't want to embarrass ourselves in public, now do we? At least not any more so than you just did."

Both parties gave Ryu an angry stare, but to their credit neither said a word, and chose to focus on the matchup board instead, right as it finished its display show.

Team Ansatsuken vs. Ash Crimson

Instantly, Ryu, Ken, Kyo, and Iori locked eyes with each other, and then glared as one at Ash Crimson, who was standing with the most devil-may-care, innocent smile on his face. Wordlessly, Iori went to the ring while the rest of the team moved up to a closer bench.

"Good luck, Iori," Shingo yelled. "Kick some tail!"

"Show him your moves!" Sean added, ignoring the subsequent hit from Sakura's bokuto that crashed into the back of his head.

Iori snorted, and waved a hand dismissively, but didn't actually say anything to dismiss the encouragement. Meanwhile, Crimson was basking in the adoration of his fans cheering and yelling for him, stepping daintily and twirling around.

"Ladies, ladies, please, please, do not fawn so sweetly," he said, smiling widely. "It is, ah, rather embarrassingly flattering."

"Hey, pretty-boy!" Iori snapped, making his voice irate and loud enough to match the cheering fangirls. "You going to primp and pose or are you gonna fight?"

Ash rounded on Iori with a sneer; green flames sprung to life along his long red sleeves, centered in the palms of his thin hands.

"I wanted to give you a moment to make peace with whomever or whatever you believe to be God. But…obviously you don't need it."

The flames turned somewhat purplish, and the redhead's face twisted into a very ugly frown as he clenched a fist.

"This is NOT going to be quick and painless for you, asshole," he growled. "Let's go!"

"Ash Crimson, Iori Yagami," Mature said, smiling darkly. "Begin whenever you wish."

Ash leapt into the air, hands drawn back as his flames roared, and Iori, unafraid, ran at him and jumped up to meet him. Since Ash was already thrusting his hands forward, Iori had to thrust his arms forward to catch the Frenchman's opening attack with his own hands.

Unfortunately, gravity gave Ash the edge, and so Iori was pushed to the ground, landing on his back with a grunt. Luckily, he still had strength and sense enough to kick Ash in the stomach, pushing the blonde away from him, and rolled forward to his feet, recovering nicely.

However, Ash was no slacker, and he landed fairly well himself, using his hands to steady his slide back. When Iori rushed him, he didn't hesitate to flare up his fire again, and swept his hand upwards, shooting a ball of green flames directly at Iori. The redhead kicked his foot down at an angle, dashing off to the side with ease to dodge, but couldn't repeat the feat when Ash shot another fireball that hit Iori dead in the face.

For all intents and purposes, though, it was as if the attack never hit. Roaring, Iori punched Crimson straight in the face, then the stomach, and tackled him to the ground, attacking him ferociously. The blows only stopped when Ash flared up a particularly nasty bubble of fire as a shield, which blew Iori away as a leaf in a storm. Before the redhead could so much as catch a breath, Ash bore down on him again, kicking and punching, green flames swirling, roaring, and screaming their curses into his ears.

Iori took a breath, a deep one, between the winces and the hits, and punched Ash in the stomach to push him away. He could feel his muscles burning and chest aching as he rolled to his feet and chased the blonde boy down, but his injuries didn't matter in the slightest at this juncture—all that was important was beating Ash into paste before his body ripped itself apart.

In the space of a few moments, Iori's hand flew forward, pinned Ash to the ground, and allowed the redhead to drop a hard elbow onto Ash's stomach, followed by several punches to the face.

Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to slow Ash down; the thin French boy replied with a two-fisted blow, summoning a blast of fire that sent Iori rocketing upwards, body swathed in green.

The crowd howled as Ash pointed his palms downwards and let off a huge burst of fire that shot him upwards, flying directly at Iori. When he found himself above the redhead, he used another burst of fire to rocket downwards, and struck Iori in the stomach with another flaming fist, forcing Iori back into the ground like a meteor.

"This battle is over," Ash proclaimed as he descended, literally positioned above Iori. "And you…have…lost."

With a final smile, he landed feet-first on Iori's chest, audibly breaking and cracking the Yagami scion's ribcage with little effort. To add insult to injury, he twisted his foot one last time before stepping off of his impromptu landing pad and walked away, not even bothering to look back.

He regretted that when Iori bull-rushed him, screaming hoarsely, "Playtime's over, you fruity scum," and by the time he turned, the redhead had elbowed him in the stomach and started slashing and cutting at his body like a wild animal.

"CRY! SCREAM! A-And…!"

Iori's hands trembled as he went in for the grab and final blow, but he refused to let himself stop, and lifted Ash up wide, ready to rip a nice "X" into the Frenchman's clothes…

But…somehow, he just couldn't do it.

He wanted to, no doubt, but…he just couldn't find the strength to manage.

"What's wrong?" Ash asked with a mocking sneer, ignoring the new wounds ripped into his chest and the like by Iori's clawing. "You should finish what you start, you know…."

"You…can go to hell," panted Iori in response, tensing his hands again. "And make sure you say hi to your mother while you're there."

With all the strength he had left, he drew his hands down and away, completing the tear and sending several streaks of blood straight into the air.


Another hush fell over the crowd as Ash flew backwards and landed on the ground, seemingly insensate from the final blow; Iori's wheezing grew heavier but he didn't falter. Instead, he stared hatefully at Ash's body, assured that he'd delivered the true deathblow….

Mature looked on warily, wondering if Ash would get up or not—she could clearly see the rise and fall of his chest, but his chest was bleeding like a pump. Even if he hadn't just been murdered, he would need quite a bit of medical care to pull through what Iori had just done to him.

The debate ceased when after a moment of theatrical groans and moans, Ash got up again, swaying a bit but otherwise very assured in stance and manner.

"Ooh, that tingled," he said airily. "Actually, it still does! Who thought that your flameless power would be so…adequate?"

Iori didn't even have the energy to growl as he finally fell to a knee, and Ash's smile only grew more and more sinister.

"Looks like that was your last bit of it, though. That being the case…I think you should make your exit now."

He spread his arms wide, cloaked them in green flames, and swept them forward, fusing the individual fires into a giant, howling inferno. Iori didn't even have time to curse before it hit him dead-on and flushed him out of the ring, scorching his jacket, most of his shirt, and the lower cuff of his pants clean off.

Cammy's eyes widened as he hit the padding and continued to smolder listlessly in the green fire; murmurs of concern and fear raced through the audience as the medical team sprayed Iori down with fire extinguishers, carting him away once the embers had died down. Unhesitating, she ran after them, ignoring Chun-Li's cry of surprise as she nearly knocked over the bench in her haste.

"And the winner, is Ash Crimson…by near-immolation," Vice announced, privately hiding a smile.

Suck on that, you murderous red-haired bastard, she crowed in her mind. Burned alive, just as you deserve—and when I get my hands on you, there'll be so much more I'll do to you for what you did to me!

As her joy increased, a rumbling voice passed by her ears.

"Quit slacking off, lady. I'm here. Let's start the match."

Vice's eyes darted to her side, and to her surprise, Ken was standing there, stock still and staring at Ash with a hateful glare that could rival Ryu's most stoic glance.

"Sure, fine, whatever…," she snorted, hiding her surprise at his quick movement and poorly suppressed rage. "Get to your side, and I'll start it."

Ken did so without further comment, and when he settled into his stance, Ash finally deigned to return the hostile stare.

"Mr. Masters, is it? It'll be a pleasure."

"Yeah," the American concurred, sounding oddly conversational considering his expression and body language. "It'll be the best fight I've had in a while, especially when my fist is breaking your goddamn jaw into half a dozen pieces."

Ash blinked at the sudden shift in tone; Vice snapped her fingers and put up her right hand; and Ken, with a shout, was spin-kicking his way towards Ash.


Iori had just been placed onto a bed by the medics when Cammy nearly bowled them all over in her haste to see him; she was restrained in the nick of time by a larger man, about the size and build of Zangief and dressed in the white clothes of the medical staff.

"Hey, look, I can understand your concern, but he's not doing so well right now, you understand?" he grunted. "We've gotta stabilize him first."

"Fine, whatever," she snapped back, "but I'm not leaving. Try to force me and I'll bury you so deep that your bones will turn to diamonds."

The medic shrugged, then groaned as a loud THWAK-THWAK-THWAK-ing sound came from the ring; Cammy turned around to see Ken's feet connect in rapid succession with Ash's face, stunning the French lad quite handily.

"Probably dislocated that," the man continued. "We'll have to fix that later—get the cold compresses ready, boys," he added over his shoulder.

"Boss, this kid's still smoking, for God's sake. Think you could give us a little time to settle him?"

"Did I say 'Now"? I just said get 'em ready."

He turned back to the ring and set his teeth into a grimace.

"This one's gonna be REAL ugly."

From the moment Ken landed from his Senpuu Kyaku, he was pummeling Ash with hard jabs to the upper body and aiming at any part he could reach.

"It's bad enough—*grunt*—that you're a massive blonde prick of a Frenchman," he yelled out, putting an extra bit of oomph into a punch to the face. "But you burned the living sh_t out of my teammate and looked like you were—HYAH—getting off on it!"

The second punch, an uppercut, caught Crimson's already swelling jaw and stunned him again, leaving Ken some leeway to take a breath and sink into the familiar bounce of the Ansatsuken's primary stance.

"I know that crazies just love to enter these tournaments, but I draw the line when they use my friends as punching bags and toys!"

He took three firm steps forward and cocked his fist back, veins bulging in his arm; it seemed that Ash would take the hit full on, and was likely to pass out from the force of it.

Of course, that would have been too convenient and would have squashed his nose halfway into his face, and so the effeminate Frenchman pulled himself together in short order and grabbed the punch as it came in, countering with a blow of his own from his free hand.

"Sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss, and sometimes you just aren't good enough," he said to Ken with a smile. "C'est la vie, monsieur."

Before Ken recovered from the surprise attack, Crimson grabbed the American by the back of the head, and pulled him forward with a violent jerk; to add insult to injury, Crimson then extended his arm, clothes-lining Ken at the crook.

After a choked cry, Ken stumbled forward as Ash stepped aside; the Ansatsuken fighter did manage to land kneeling, but now Ash was already preparing another deathblow, and that was NOT good.

Without really thinking, Ken swiveled around, ignoring the sharp stab of pain that brought onto his head, and his right fist swirled with reddish-orange flames as he pumped ki into his legs for the next move he was intending to make.


Ash's eyes widened, but he could do nothing as his fist was pushed away by Ken's rising uppercut. Shortly afterwards, his body was wracked with agony as Ken's flaming right hand smashed into his chin, not just once, but twice, in addition to carving into his chest and stomach—two flaming Shoryukens, end to end.

Then, the third Shoryuken—no, the Shinryuken—came…and pulled them both into the sky, in a swirling maelstrom of red flame. The only things Ash could feel aside from the spinning fist in his stomach was the PAIN and the BURNING that rushed over and around and through him like a battering ram—

And then, it ended.

Lazily, his body flipped over, and he finally saw where he was as the fire swirl faded away.

Ken's attack had put them both into the sky, but Ash was way, WAY higher up than Ken. The red-clad man's fist was still extended upwards, even though he was no longer in contact with Ash, and the flames that had surrounded him during the Shinryuken were still around him, but fading fast.

"Suck on that, ass-face," Ken growled upwards at him. "And if you screw with us again, I'll put a fist in your face so damn fast that you'll be dead before your nose breaks from the pressure."

When the Ansatsuken fighter landed, he didn't even wait for Ash's body to touch down before walking off and leaving the Frenchman to land on the ring's floor, outright unconscious. Ryu and Kyo met him as soon as he stepped down from it, and together, in wordless silence, they went to the medical tent.

Iori's condition, unexpectedly, had improved quickly in the short span of time he'd been left on the medical beds. Cammy, joined by Chun-Li and Mary, were sitting beside the bed, quietly watching him; Cammy's face was really and truly stony, almost hatefully irritated.

"…If that fruity wanker isn't coming in here with three broken arms, I'll break YOU into atoms of dust," she said lowly, her hands clenched.

"No, I've taken care of him. Not as messily as you would have liked, I'm sorry to say, but he won't be walking out of here easily tonight."

Cammy's gaze tightened, but she only nodded in acceptance of the news. In short order, the object of her hatred was dumped unceremoniously onto the spare bed, and the medics set themselves upon him frantically, bandaging and patching him up wherever they could.

Iori groaned suddenly, drawing the attention of the others, and struggled to look at Ash. Wordlessly, he took the man's beaten face and body into account, and then slowly raised a quaking hand.

"Who…kicked his ass?"

Ken extended his palm, answering the question without words, and Iori grabbed it tightly for a brief moment, then let go and gave a thumbs-up.

"You're…pretty good for a rich…fop."

"Hey, I worked hard, man. My master Gouken used to run me and Ryu into the ground…hell, he still does."

Cammy looked over to the head medic, her eyes still sharp and cool. "Will these two be leaving here tonight or are they being moved to a hospital?"

"Well, they're recovering pretty fast, all told. Maybe because they weren't slinging around real flames out there, I'd say, but they should at least functional. You all can stay while we finish up and take 'em home."

"Iori is the only one with us," Ryu corrected politely. "We can't be responsible for…Mr. Crimson."

"I see. In that case, HE'S going to a hospital. 'Scuse us while we make some arrangements."

The staff bandaging Crimson perked up at that, and followed the head medic out of the tent. As soon as they were gone, Iori lurched upwards, pushed Cammy and the others that were standing between him and Ash out of the way, and lumbered over to his opponent, holding his right hand up.

"I'm taking my Magatama back," he rasped.

Cammy stepped forward, eyes flaring with rage-fueled Psycho Power. "Iori, what are you—"

Without a word, Iori slammed his hand down on Crimson's chest, quickly leaning in to cover the French lad's mouth with his free one. Ash jerked up but made no sound, and a purple-orange light began to seep from his chest and into Iori's arm.

The redhead visibly relaxed as the glow intensified, and then gradually died out; his shoulders straightened, his breathing eased, and his eyes cleared up, gaining a piercing light in the reddish-brown of his irises. In time, he withdrew from Ash, and snapped his hand out palm-up, fingers curled; a ball of purple-orange fire lit up an inch above the palm, and he smiled.

Not a smirk, mind you. A smile. A real smile, as if he'd just found a suitcase full of money. Or just gotten married.

"It's back," he said. "And I am not letting him take it from me again."

He raised the fireball, and for a moment, everyone got ready to spring on him if necessary …but, surprisingly, he didn't do what they expected; instead, he extinguished the flame, and left.

"One of you call Chizuru and tell her that Crimson's going to the hospital," he said. "I need to take a leak."

In continued silence, the group looked at Ash, then back up at the entrance of the tent, and then back down at Ash.

"He was smiling," Chun-Li murmured in shock. "And he didn't kill Crimson. What the hell is going on here?"

"His flame was turning orange," Kyo said to himself, visibly intrigued. "I guess he meant what he said after all."

"What he said about what?" Cammy asked sharply, turning Kyo to face her.

The brunet grinned, and shook off Cammy's grip with a playful and loose shrug.

"About changing. And before you even ask me why, I've got to say this—it's not my business to tell you. It's his."

Author's Notes

Hey, guys. This one took a while to get right, so that's why it took so long. Writer's block is a right b*tch, I can tell you that much to be sure.

Plus, I got Pokemon SoulSilver recently, and...yeah.

I put more effort into this than I did the gaiden; it may not be out for a while at this rate but I'm still working on it.

Most importantly, holy crap I made it to 20 chapters! To those that have continued to show up and review, I thank you so, so much. You guys rock!

Next time:

Another day greets the teams, and the rivalry between Thailand's tiger and Japan's dragon is given its chance to reach resolution. Will Team Ansatsuken come out on top, or will Muay Thai take its day in the sunlight?

Find out in The King of Street Fighters, Chapter 21: "Thunder and Genocide".

Till next time!