Disclaimer: the characters such as Jane, Long, etc. belong to Hudson Soft
Dedication: God, my parents, my 'brothers', Hudson for creating Bloody Roar I-IV and giving me a really good reason to write this story, and my readers, especially LazzyQ, Alica Tylon, Deoku, VGuyver, StarryPeach, AKA, Brad Crawford, Felicia, Victoria, Arashi, Flyby, and Niteflite.
Bloody Roar II: Shape Of My Heart
Paths crossed again by chance
Activities intertwined with the help
Of their young compatriots.
An unfortunate situation has
Conflict flickering in her mind.
Knowing what occupies her thoughts,
Will her partner be able,
To help resolve her problem
And forge an agreement to
Both of their conveniences?
The figure blinked irritably at the sudden burst of light that just flaunted before the set of cool blue eyes. Enthusiastic cheers and joyous clapping were heard throughout the area as an overlooked sigh drifted forlornly into the air. An impatient hand went to brush away the short strands of spiky blonde hair that bobbed before the smooth forehead. Even with the warm beams of sunrays from the calm autumn day that shone down, a weary look still went into the pupils as the person glanced down at what they thought was a ridiculous and pointless outfit.
So. They're married now. Bound together by law and by… their feelings, I presume.Facial features twisted into a half-scowl at the thought. Hrmp… What am I supposed to do now?
The flash of the lens went off again as the photographer took a second shot of the newly wedded couple, and the female grinned widely while her significant other slipped a muscular arm around her gaunt waist, his black tuxedo seeming to gleam in the sunlight. Both of them smiled pleasingly while the people around them all began to solace and applaud once more. Chirping breezed through the occupied surroundings, coming from small birds that sat on the perches of trees nearby. An almost herbal scent run by everyone, musky with the morning dew, as if in good omen for the event that had taken place that day.
The camerawoman waved her hands around, motioning the small group to gather for a group shot. The friends willing obliged, but getting a distinct feeling that someone was missing, the groom glanced around quickly. His eyes settled upon the young woman that was sitting solo at one of the tables, her gaze dull and idle, as she seemed to be deep in thought. Her expression was serene, yet preoccupation could be detected in her mood; a small frown etched into his brows at the sight.
She looked up at that moment, coincidentally catching his gaze, and even without verbal communication, she could tell the message that he was sending her. Swearing silently in her mind, the blonde female stood up from her seat, rising to her full five-foot eight-inch figure as she proceeded over to the individual who had summoned her. Arms dangling freely by her sides, she wasn't prepared to stumble over the thick black cord that connected to the tripod stand in which the camera sat upon.
Damn it!! She had time to think as she tripped and her balance wavered. This stupid lousy frilly dress!
Almost on cue, as last time, two hands caught a hold of her arms in a strong grip in support and carefully steadied her. Scowling quietly, she murmured a low, "Thank you," crisply before standing upright and dusting off the lacey dark red material of her dress that ended halfway between her knees and feet. The low-heeled matching shoes that served as her footwear were what had caused her to trip and she missed the familiar feel of sneakers. Her face twisted into a partial look of disgust at her attire but she plastered what she hoped was a convincing smile over her face.
"Father?" she spoke up.
"Aren't you going to join us all in the group picture, Jane?" He asked with a smile, yet there was a bit of concern in his eyes.
"…Yeah, of course." Jane Gado fought back the urge to grimace as a lock of her hair fell; the maroon barrette must have gotten lose and she adjusted it while continuing, "Wouldn't dream of missing it." This is your 'special day' after all, isn't it.
A small frown knitted his brows and he opened his mouth to speak again when his bride leaned over, murmuring into his ear, "She's alright, Alan. Don't worry about your daughter, she's very independent and is capable of taking care of herself."
"I think something's wrong though," Alan Gado replied to his partner in a hushed tone of voice. "Something seems to be bothering her."
Even as the couple was discussing it, a pair of dark brown eyes settled upon the leopard zoanthrope, only reverting to look foreword again when the photographer counted to three and snapped the final picture. Blinking rapidly to rid the spots that were flickering before his view, he shook his head quickly, letting out a sigh as he watched the Maid of Honor saunter off the moment everyone was dismissed from the picture platform. He watched as she disappeared around the corner of the beige building of the park square and went away from sight.
…Maybe I should go talk to her? The man wondered silently, starting to walk over to where she had disappeared off to albeit tentatively.
Glancing around and seeing that none of the others had really acknowledged her absent presence, he quickened his pace. The ponytail of raven-colored hair that hung down to his mid-waist level bounced against the back of his black suit as he paced along. The matching dress shoes he donned creaked and he winced at the pinched feeling, sighing softly as he dismissed the issue.
What kind of mess am I in this time? Jane wondered silently to herself as she took a seat on the snowy white bench nearby. Her eyes traveled to look at the forestry surroundings of the park as she thought, I'm independent; everyone says that, but then why am I pondering over this issue so much? Stupid, petty worries. What the hell am I, a child?
"…Are you alright?" A voice from her other side inquired gently.
This feels like déjà vu. "…?" She turned around and a small smile played about her lips. "…Oh, hello." What do you know, just like last time… hmm, coincidence…?
His smile back was a bit timid. "Good afternoon, Jane."
"Uh… hello, thanks for coming to the wedding." …What an idiotic thing to say! "And… yeah, I'm okay."
Frowning slightly, his dark eyes bore sympathetically into hers. "…Really."
She shrugged aimlessly. "Like the priest said, 'Speak now, or forever hold your peace'. I didn't speak up, so what can I do about it? And besides, I don't really give much of a repulsed thought to Jenny marrying my father. She makes him happy. End of story."
"Perhaps…" her companion remarked. "But there is usually an epilogue to every story, no?"
Scowling lowly, she mumbled, "Alright, there is still a problem… so what?" Not like he can help, I have to figure this out by myself.
He flinched, a bit taken back by the icy tone in her voice. "So… would you like to tell me what is bothering you? I'd like to help if I can."
"You can't, Long," the leopard zoanthrope answered. "All you can do is tell me how ridiculous I'm being worrying over this, or watch me live somewhere on the streets!"
…'Live somewhere on the streets'? Long Shin took a step toward her, and placed his hand on her arm. "…What did you mean by that?"
Her head snapped up to look at him. "You really think that I can continue living with Father now that he's wed to Jenny? Don't you think as a married couple, they'd want their privacy, and their own home to reside in without an annoying tomboy daughter running around their heels?"
"Jane, your father would not shun you out of your home-"
"How would you know??" she sounded albeit shrill and agitated. "You have your own place to live, don't you? I heard the others congratulating you on finding a two-bedroom house and purchasing it, the night of the runt's birthday party."
"…You are correct."
…If he weren't my friend, I'd call him a lucky bastard, she thought sourly.
"However…" the Kenpo master spoke up again, placing his hands on her shoulders, making the material of her dress cling to her skin. "Before that, I'd lived in a mountain cave for years. You have a room, and you live in a house with your family… I'm not able to share that luxury, for I have no family, with my… my mother and sister perished… and I cannot stand being confined in the same room with the man that calls himself my father for any longer than a few minutes." His tone grew a little hard. "Count your blessings, Jane. There are others out there less fortunate than you."
"Hmm, yeah, yeah…
Baby, please try to forgive me,"
Both of them were startled at the music that had started playing, drifting over to their area from where the wedding recital was being held a few yards away.
"…They're dancing now." Jane deadpanned. "The ceremony's almost over."
"Stay here don't put out the glow,
Hold me now don't bother,"
"…We should be going back then," her acquaintance commented, taking a hold of her hand and gently tugging her in the direction that led towards the music.
"If every minute it makes me weaker,
You can save me from the man that I've become, oh yeah,"
When the duo arrived at the ceremony's ground, they spied everyone paired off and dancing; in the center of everything was the esteemed bride of groom.
…Look at that, the blonde-haired woman mused, parting away from Long and glancing at her father and new stepmother. …Father seems happy. …Maybe marrying her isn't such a bad thing, if she brings him joy.
"Lookin' back on the things I've done,
I was tryin' to be someone,"
Just then, the lion zoanthrope gazed up, catching her eye, and he offered her a truce-ful smile; she nodded slightly, waving two fingers at him in understanding. A faint shriek made her head turn at the noise, and her eyes went to scour over to where two teenagers were nearby a tall tree. The female was climbing up a branch, paying no heed to the wrinkles that were being embroided into her bridesmaid dress. Her male accomplice had a small smirk on his face, and supported his smugness by front-flipping, ascending to her location with ease.
"I played my part,
And kept you in the dark,"
"Grrrr!" the brown-haired girl growled and made a fist at him. "Kenji, you cheated!!"
Laughing off her comment smoothly, Kenji Ohgami grabbed her arm with his hand before she could begin pummeling him. "Hey now, I never said you had to climb up, and couldn't use your other techniques, did I?"
She snapped her teeth at him, but couldn't help giggling. "You're such a rat!"
"Hm, I resent that," he said in a warning tone of voice, but smiled to show that he was teasing.
"Now let me show you the shape of my heart,
Sadness is beautiful,
Loneliness is tragical,"
"…Hey, Uriko!" Jane exclaimed at that moment, startling the young couple.
Blushing cutely as if she had been caught, Uriko Nonomura turned to look at the speaker. "Um, oh, hi Jane!" She waved, then remembered her position in the tree, and her cheeks grew redder.
"You might want to get down from there," the tomboy grinned. "Why don't you and Kenji go dance; everyone else is doing that."
"So help me I can't win this war, oh no,
Touch me now don't bother,
If every second it makes me weaker,"
"Um, okay, sure!"
The agile feline leapt down from the thick branch, followed by her boyfriend; the leopard zoanthrope smirked a little, but felt a slight forlorn sense of loneliness. Both flushing, the two of them ran over to where the others were gathered, but before they began dancing, Uriko approached her blonde-haired friend. "Hey, Jane?"
"…? Yeah, runt?"
"How come you're not dancing too?"
"…That's easy, because I don't have a little lover boy like you do," she smiled faintly.
"You can save me from the man I've become,
Lookin' back on the things I've done (back on the things...),
I was tryin' to be someone (tryin' to be...),"
"What about Master Long?" the teenager persisted, her face coloring from the "lover boy" remark.
"Uh, what about him?"
The Kenpo student pointed to the left; Jane sighed and followed the direction of her gesture, and felt a small pang of guilt when she saw the martial arts instructor sitting at a table alone. He was gazing out at the couples that filled the dance floor, a glint from the sunbeams reflecting off his glasses, hiding the look of detachment in his eyes. His long black braid swayed in the breeze, brushing the dark formal suit that he donned, bouncing against his back.
"I played my part,
And kept you in the dark (in the dark),
Now let me show you the shape of my heart,"
"…Maybe he doesn't like dancing," the older female murmured doubtfully.
"Well, you never know until you ask!" the fifteen-year-old piped, then gave her ally a perky, encouraging grin before bounding back to her boyfriend.
…I guess it doesn't hurt to try, she thought, proceeding over to the raven-haired man. Remaining immobile, he didn't take notice to her presence until she spoke up bluntly, breaking his chain of thought, "…Want to dance?"
"I'm here with my confession,
Got nothin' to hide no more,
I don't know where to start,"
"…Pardon?" he asked, shaking his head to make sure he heard her correctly.
"…You know, we both look absurd, sticking out like wallflowers, since we're the only two people not dancing like everyone else," she proclaimed, giving him a shaky wink. "…So… do you want to dance with me?" At his hesitation, her expression fell. Maybe he really doesn't like dancing… …damn it.
"…I should have been a true gentleman, and asked you first," he said finally, the corners of his lips curving up into an abashed smile. Taking her hand into his, he placed a kiss on the smooth surface of her skin and inquired, "May I have the pleasure of you accompanying me in a dance?"
"But to show you the shape of my heart,
I'm lookin' back on things I've done,
I never wanna play the same old part,"
She almost snorted, thinking, How formal! Then she answered nonchalantly, "Sure, why not."
Leading her into the large group of paired couples; he stopped when they were well buried into the midst of the crowd. Appearing very solemn and sincere, he gazed at her intensely, wordlessly placing his palm on her waist, and gently grasped her hand with his free one. Her wrist rested against his shoulder, and subconsciously, the duo's fingers intertwined to lock onto each other's hold.
"I'll keep you (keep you in the dark) in the dark,
Now let me show you the shape of my heart,"
"Lookin' back on the things I've done,
I was tryin' to be someone (tryin' to be someone),"
Th-this song…the male zoanthrope thought with a slight chill as the lyrics swept past his ears. It sounds as if the words are being spoken to Jane from… from me.
So what the hell am I going to do about this homing situation of mine…his companion mused to herself. Damn, I almost wish that I hadn't told Long about it; he just makes me feel guilty for being so naïve in thinking that I had problems while others out there have more issues to deal with… Have I really been that selfish all this time? Maybe I do deserve to be homeless; to make up for the people that never got to have the luxury that I blatantly took advantage of. She scowled, muttering under her breath, "I'm such an illiberal idiot."
"I played my part,
Kept you in the dark,
Now let me show (Now let me show you the true),"
"…?" Long glanced at her, puzzled. "Did you say something?"
"Nope, not a thing," she fibbed. "Maybe I was just speaking out loud by accident."
…You've led a hard life, dear Jane; a frown marred his brows. And here I am, lecturing on how careless and selfish you acted regarding your feelings on your father and his newly wed bride. "…I'm sorry," he apologized quietly.
"You the shape (shape of my heart) of my heart,
Lookin' back on the things I've done,
I was tryin' to be someone,"
"Eh?" the blonde-haired woman seemed bewildered. "About what?"
I now have a home to call mine, my own kitchen, facilities, living room, bedchambers, and one extra bedroom that can be used for storage- Suddenly, he thought of a solution to the problem that she was previously distraught over. "…Jane, I have a proposal concerning your residing situation."
"I played my part,
And kept you in the dark,
Now let me show you the shape of,"
"Mmm?" she questioned distractedly, glancing over at her parents recently joined in holy matrimony.
"You… you can…" Will she take this as an insult in anyway…? Perhaps presume that I am skeptical of her independence? "…You can live with me. In my house, that is; for there's an extra bedroom in it that I have no important use for."
His offer was met with silence.
"Show you the shape of my heart…"
The tranquility stretched out longer as the last melodious tunes whispered away with the leaving waves of the fading song. The other duos around the pair broke off and interrupted the serenity by clapping in their congratulations for the wedded couple while the ceremony drew to a close. People began drifting away after bidding their farewells, and the grounds were soon left with only a small group of the close zoanthrope allies.
"Oh, I'm so happy for the two of you!" a cyan-haired woman exclaimed gleefully, giving Jenny a timid hug.
"Yeah, congrats on tying the knot, old Gado," her boyfriend chimed in, shaking the lion zoanthrope's hand and grinning mischievously. "And giving up your bachelor-hood; what a hard step to take-ow! Hey, I'm just kidding, Alice!"
Shooting him a knowing look, Alice Nonomura tsk tsked, shaking her head as she wagged a finger at him in a scolding manner.
"Siiiiister!" her younger sibling piped up. "Sorry, but I have to be home in ten minutes; Mother has more training for me to do!"
"Oh!" The nurse gasped. "We should get going then! Again, congratulations Mr. …and Mrs. Gado! Bye!"
With the wolf zoanthrope and his brother in tow, the four dashed off. Feeling albeit like he was intruding on the family's privacy, Long cleared his throat sheepishly, and said, "I-I should be heading home as well. My best wishes for your marriage, and for the future that you two will share together," Clasping his hands together, he dipped his head in a traditional and formal Chinese bow representing respect. "Good night." He turned and began walking away, heading toward the sidewalk leading down the street.
Alan gave his wife a half-smirk. "Polite, isn't he?"
"No kidding," she agreed. "Needs someone hardheaded and just as stubborn as him to loosen him up, right Jane?" She winked at her new stepdaughter.
The twenty-year-old rolled her eyes. "Cut it out Jenny, please. He isn't interested in me."
"Ha!" Jenny scoffed. "That's what I said about Alan before one of his compatriots helped play 'matchmaker', and hinted to us about our feelings for each other. Don't sell yourself short, daughter dear."
…What the hell does she know, she scowled. …Still, I guess it was rather rude of me to not answer his question earlier…
Sighing in defeat, she ignored the knowing look that passed between the older couple, and ran after the Kenpo master. "Long!" She called to him. "Wait!"
"…?" Hearing her words, he slowed his pace down to a stop and faced her. "…Jane. Do you need something?"
She inhaled a deep breath, swallowing the pride that was bubbling up in her throat, and told him, "I appreciate your generosity in offering me to live in the spare room that's in your house…"
He quirked an eyebrow. "…But?"
"…No, there's no buts," she informed. "I… uh, would like to take you up on it, if that's okay with you."
"R-really?" he wasn't quite able to conceal the surprise in his tone.
"O-oh, 'tis nothing," Long replied hastily. "I-I'm glad that you decided you could trust devote enough trust in my person, even knowing what I have done before, to abide with me."
"Hey now," she frowned. "Quit bashing yourself, okay? I hate when you do it; your self-esteem really needs a boosting, you know that?"
"I'll try to restrain myself…" he murmured. "But, only because you requested it of me, and I don't like displeasing you. Besides…" his eyes twinkled. "I don't want to find out firsthand whether a tiger or a leopard would win in a one-on-one fight."
"Bah, that's an easy one," the blonde-haired woman exclaimed, grinning confidently. "You'd be down in minutes!"
"Oh?" he smiled a bit slyly. "So sure of yourself? Someday, I may just surprise you." Leaning over, he quickly brushed his lips against her cheek, and flushed after he pulled back, but felt relieved to spy blush creeping up into her face. "A-anyway, what day would you like to… move in?"
"Hmm, how about after I actually see the place first?" She chuckled. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves here, heh."
"Ah, right, of course," he agreed, feeling albeit foolish. "Then… when are you available for the 'inspection'?"
"…Hell, I have nothing planned right now," Jane realized. "Although, I do want to go home first and change out of this stupid, frilly, Barbie lookalike dress…"
Her companion laughed at her reference. "As you wish. …Hmm, how about I meet you back here in… thirty minutes. Is that enough time for you?"
"Make it twenty," she debated, smiling. "Well, I'll see you when I get back."
"Until then…" he murmured softly, her retreating form glimmering in his mahogany pupils. …Since I have time to spare, perhaps I should… Letting that thought gently fade away, he wordlessly allowed himself to proceed toward the place he had yet to visit that present week…
"…Did I act too impulsively?"
Clutching two stems of roses in his hands, Long bowed his head and stared at the gray stone granite that sat before his view. His eyes caught the dates that were engraved upon it, and frowned as he thought they were far too close together, cutting the long line of existence that had been stolen away in an agonizing period of time…
"Now that she'll be living in my house, I have this strong sense to protect her… but she doesn't want to be protected. She is a very strong-willed, independent fighter, and hardly ever shows her weaknesses… only in private, and even then, it is a very rare occurrence.
"…Can I really protect someone, the life of another person? I couldn't even protect you, or our beloved mother. I…I am a failure to my word of honor… I cannot ever make such a promise again, for I may be unable to be keep true to it… No more people should suffer on my behalf, suffer from deciding to trust me, then getting deceived when they find out that I cannot compensate.
"…Please watch over me, Ivy, and make sure that I do not hurt Jane the way I did to you, as well as I did to our mother… I care very much for Jane… but I also fear for her because I don't ever want to bring her agony, sorrow, grief, or anything of the sort. I believe that in time, my feelings for her will presumably grow into deeper ones… yet there is also the instinct in me that says I should shield her from me to prevent paining her.
"I love you, my elder sister, and hope that someday I will be able to redeem myself and achieve forgiveness for the way that I shunned you when you were ill. Wherever you are right now, I wish you peace…"
With that, the tiger zoanthrope set the roses down onto the dewy earth, watching as the stems embroided their imprints into the mud. Glancing at his watch, he thought, It's time to head back…
Smiling weakly at the headstone, he touched it briefly with his fingertips, then arose to his full height, and turned away, walking out of the cemetery, towards his future destiny.
There was something that seemed rather strange about a girl wearing a formal dress in the burial grounds, but Uriko didn't care. Kneeling down, she looked at the platter with shaky brown eyes that had an all-too-familiar name engraved on it… her father's…
"Daddy-Father," she quickly corrected herself. "You should've seen the wedding today… everything was so beautiful! And I was one of the bridesmaids… it was my first time being at and in a wedding, you know… I had a lot of fun too! I-I just wish you were here so that you could have come with Sister and I…"
Watching his girlfriend from a few inches away, still sporting the suit that he had worn from the wedding, Kenji gazed at the female sympathetically. But at the same time, he felt envious that she at least knew where her deceased loved ones were buried… at least she knew her true identity, whereas he didn't know his at all. His light brown eyes narrowed as anger clawed at him deep down inside, escaping in the form of a frustrated scowl that spilled from his lips. Unconsciously, his fist clenched when the feline zoanthrope kissed the tips of her fingers, then pressed them against the platter, whispering, "I miss you, Father…"
…That's it; I can't stand not knowing anything about my true heritage anymore, he thought to himself. When school lets out in a four weeks, I'm… I'm gonna go on a little trip… a trip to finally find myself.
He peered over at his significant other, who was still poised over the grave. Uriko… can you come with me…? …No, I can't let you get caught up in this mess. This might just make you feel sadder about your father, and I don't wanna make you go through something so painful like that…
"I'll be back sometime soon," she whispered, a tear slipping down the tender skin of her cheek. "I love you, Fath-…" she sneaked a peek at her boyfriend, and sighting the caring, un-judgmental look in his eyes, she changed her statement, "…I love you, Daddy. Bye…"
Standing up, she strolled over to the dark-haired ninja, offering him a wavering smile. "W-we can go now, sorry for making you wait… The last time Mother came with me was such a long time ago, and I know that it hurts her to see Father's grave - I had to sneak out of my room - but I hate coming here alone so-"
"Shhh…" he hushed her gently. "It's okay, Riko. I don't mind coming here with you. I just… I don't like… I don't want to see you sad."
She shook her head. "Nah, I'll be alright Kenji, thanks. I wish I remembered my dad better is all."
…At least you knew whom your parents were… he thought almost bitterly. "…I know what you mean," he replied quietly. Too well…
"…" She bit her lip. "I'm sorry, I seriously didn't mean to be so self-absorbed like that-"
He raised a finger and pressed it against her mouth. "…Whatever happens, Riko… remember that I love you, okay?" Even if I find out things about myself that I loathe, I'll still care about you…
The brown-haired student blushed and said after he took his finger off, "Th-thanks… I love you too…"
Taking a hold of her hand and grasping it tightly he smiled at her warmly. "Let's get back to your house before your mom finds out that you left without telling her… wouldn't want you to get grounded or anything. What would I do if I couldn't see you?"
"You'd… cheer?" she kidded. "Since you finally get a break from seeing my face so often?"
"Hm, more like my eyes would be devastated that they couldn't view your beautiful self…" he corrected with a grin.
"Aw, you and your words-!" Uriko slugged his arm playfully. "Where did ya learn to be so suave anyway…"
"It just comes naturally for me, I guess…" her boyfriend answered. "I don't read poetry books on it or anything like that…" Just another mystery about myself that I have yet to find out… damn…
"A charmer at heart…" she breathed, glancing at him with a loving, dreamy look in her eyes.
I'm overjoyed that such a caring person like you actually loves me… he mused inwardly as he leaned foreword and kissed her sensually. But what if in my past, I was a horrible person…? Would you still love me then if you knew…?
Cupping one of her cheeks with his quivering hand, he whispered her name, then held her tightly, fearing in the back of his mind, that he would someday lose the warmth and security of her embrace…
Author's Note:Wheee, finished another Jang fic! *celebrates* What did ya readers think? Like? Dislike? I know that I haven't been uploading many BR stories lately, so sorry about that!! *looks ashamed* But with work, friends, and school coming up next week, my life's been so damn busy these days that I have to sacrifice my sleeping hours to write… @_@ Ah well, hope you liked this fic; please leave a review! =)
With love for my fans,