After every participants' first three rounds, the contestants of The King of Iron Fist Tournament 5 called it quits. It was night time. After all, everyone needed to rest. But instead of resting, the resident self-proclaimed owner of the Mishima Zaibatsu held a little get-together for all the participants. Honestly, the old man just wanted to have fun.
"And let us enjoy this night!" he blared in the microphone, euphoria obvious in his voice. There was just a small string of claps more or less, and right after the old man let go of the microphone, the easily recognizable party music began playing, clamoring and resonating inside the venue.
For others, it was a long-awaited chance to be relieved of all the stress they've been feeling ever since the very starting point of the tournament. Although in contrast, for some, it was a chance to burn and release all the excess energy they still have stored inside them.
And finally, a chance to meet and greet their friends and enemies. After all, they have to keep their allies close, and their foes even nearer.
And for a certain blond-haired princess, it was a chance to think. To clear some thoughts in her head...
It was merely a little affair held in a small cottage located in the sandy white dunes of Japan. A small beach party. A luau, but no bikinis and no colorful leis around their necks.
Inside the cottage, everyone was having fun, taking advantage of the sweet and free time granted to them unexpectedly.
Lili stepped out of the cottage and looked at the pretty night sky outside. The navy blanket suspended in the air was sprinkled with white sugar. She stayed at the porch, directly under the white thread canopy. She leaned forward at the wooden railing. It's been quite a while since she's been alone again. Ever since she arrived in Japan, she made a handful of friends. She missed her father a lot. Just when she was immersing herself into her thoughts, someone came and interrupted her.
The so-called princess turned around and saw the familiar Korean guy she fought a few days earlier. His hair reminded her of orange poppies, a whole meadow of it. Poppies colored the same tint as the sun, with a tinge of scarlet hue mixed evenly.
"You..." she began, her lips twitching. "You're that Taekwondo jerk."
"And you're that arrogant little girl," he replied with even severity. He caught her off-guard, and she realized that she was impolite.
"I'm sorry... You are..."
"I'm NOT a Taekwondo jerk, Princess. I have a name," he asserted again before she could react. Her sudden outburst caught him off-guard this time.
"That's why I'm asking you!"
"It's Hwoarang," he stated his name proudly. "Remember that."
Pausing, she looked at him quizzically, not comprehending what he just said. "Hwoa... What?"
"Hwoarang," the Korean repeated, grinning at the girl in white. "Nice to meet you."
"Hwoarang..." she said his name softly and correctly. She gave him a tiny smile. "It's nice to meet you too."
"And your name is?" Hwoarang asked her, not a moment's pause. She replied quickly, her lips curling up again. "Lili."
He paused as well, not understanding. "Lili? Like the flower?"
"No," she laughed lightly, her eyes twinkling. "It's Lili. My nickname. Short for Emily."
Lili leaned forward and rested her arms on the wooden railing again. Hwoarang stood right beside her, imitating her action. He began to initiate small talk again. "So, anyway... Why're you out here? There's a party inside."
She looked somber. The words came out of her mouth automatically. "I just... want to be alone for a while."
He sheepishly scratched the back of his head, mentally slapping himself for interrupting her. "Did I disturb you or anything?"
"No... not really..." she said simply. "Why are you out here?"
"No reason," he said, lightly scratching his cheek. "Just came to see what's wrong with the cute princess I fought earlier."
"...Why do you call me that?" she asked him again. Her eyes searched for an answer in his own, and he could only reply with, "Why? Aren't you a princess?"
"Well... I wouldn't refer to myself as one."
Hwoarang smiled a bit. She was simply adorable. And her hair... he was reminded of a whole field of white lilies and nothing else but white lilies.
"Why don't we go back inside? Everyone's having a blast! Christie's having a showdown with Steve! Oh, and Marshall and Paul are arm wrestling! And you should see the drinking competition! And I think Lei's forcing Dragunov to sing Karaoke. Jin, as well. AND you should see my master break dance! And old man Mishima's dancing his heart out!" He blurted out spontaneously, not even thinking of what he was actually gonna say.
Lili giggled, her smile unsuppressed. Hwoarang froze.
"Wh-What's so funny?" he asked her. Their whole conversation seemed to be so full of questions.
She covered her mouth and tried to stop, but the delight in her eyes gave her away. "Nothing, really! Well, you were like a little boy in a carnival jumping up and down so happy and hyper just a moment ago."
"Is... that all?" he asked again. She was a never-ending puzzle.
She smiled. Her smile was as radiant as the stars carefully hung above them. "Yes... And you're very cute, Hwoarang."
He stood still for a moment, looking at Lili in shock, disbelief, and a bit of childish happiness.
"What's that look for?" it was her turn to ask him. He chuckled at her puzzlement, then replying smoothly, "You must be lying about that cute part."
"No, I'm not!" she affirmed solidly, not expecting his response to be more of an order rather than a request.
"Then if it's true, you'll come back inside with me."
Lili sighed in defeat. She raised her hand. "Fine then. I'll go back."
He smiled even more. "That's great!"
Hwoarang then offered Lili a hand. "Princess, may I have the honor of being your escort?"
Again, she giggled. Not long, she smiled at him, "Yes, of course."
She gave him her hand, and Hwoarang led his Princess back to where she could just forget about everything she's been thinking about.