-insert disclaimer here-
A little gift for my readers and friends before I go on hiatus... Enjoy!
She ran off, dashing and darting away from the clouds that cracked open and poured out a torrid downpour. What luck she had. Just great luck. Maybe she was lucky she brought a sweater. Most probably, yes, but in the midst of the rain, where she was running and evading, she'd be drenched to the bone.
She missed good 'ol Monaco. She missed Europe. She missed the fervent sunlight and crimson sunsets. Unlike where she was right now, where all she could see and feel were icy shades of blue and white. This was Japan.
No doubt from the very start of this "Matchmaking", it was trouble. Trouble, trouble, trouble. It had the word printed and painted all over it and she still took the bait. Typical for her Brazilian friend to set her up with another guy. In the end, another broken heart. Another match, another date, more trouble. She just wanted to go home.
Finding an awning over a closed candy shop she drew near to, she didn't hesitate to take cover and shield herself from the damp, musty rain. Lucky? Probably.
The voice made her spin, whirling to face who called her divine name. She saw drenched red hair, parted, swept back and messy. The stare she received had scrutiny, but the Korean's eyes weren't keen enough.
The rise of her voice made him grin. "You're Snow Bell?"
Giggling at the alias Christie made up for her, she nodded. "Yes. And you're Paralytic Beetle?"
The Korean scratched the back of his head, muttering something in his native tongue. "Uh, yeah. Steve really has a wide-ranged brain."
They had a moment of laughter, all before it died out. Pitter, patter. Rain drops splatter. Neither of them could blame themselves for the rain. Their friends chose a bad day to set up a date, which, of course, neither of them knew about.
"You okay? You charged into the rain wearing that thing?" He asked her, referring to the flimsy sweater she was wearing.
"Well, yeah. It was so sunny when I went outside to see you, but the sky acted up."
Right, right. The girl was early. Hwoarang left the boys' crib a just a few minutes prior to their impromptu date, care of Steve and Christie. It was already pouring at that time, so he got himself a jacket. Smart thinking.
He unzipped his jacket and placed it around her shoulders.
"Uh, it's a bit damp, but it'll keep the wind off you," he said, a finger scratching his cheek. She looked up at him. "But what about you?"
"That's just rain. Drizzles. Just might strengthen my immune system," he grinned. "There's always a cure for the common cold, after all."
Hwoarang was lounging around the place he and the boys shared. In his hands was a mug of hot coffee, perfect for a chilly, rainy afternoon. Steve popped in the crib and sat down beside his best buddy. The Korean raised an eyebrow at his British friend. The look on his face says he wants something.
"What you need, my friend, is not a great fight, but a great lady!" Steve had this euphoric and menacing grin plastered on his face.
We all know what happened after that. Hwoarang was holding a mug of hot coffee, wasn't he?
"Yeah. Two cups of coffee. You sure you don't want anything, Lili?" Hwoarang handed the menu back to the waitress, who was too bewitched by him. Typical.
"No, thank you. Coffee's fine," she said, smiling at his fine attempt to be a gentleman for her. She knew that he wasn't good at being that kind of guy, but he's doing quite well. The waitress scurried off with their order, with a promise to be back in five minutes.
Basic dating. In the crevices of his head, he had that book saved. Slowly and consciously, he flipped it open again.
"So... What's up?" A feeble attempt to strike up a conversation, but all systems were working to perfection.
"Nothing much, " she said, pulling up his over-sized jacket that was falling off her svelte frame. "How did your last date go?"
Counting with his fingers, he began. "I had three set-up dates, all prepared by your good friend, Chris, and Stevie boy."
"Really? I'd like to hear what you did while you were with my friends," Lili said, a genuine interest washing over her.
"First was with the Egyptian-Arabian girl or something. She was really pretty when she showed up, but there was no... what's the word?"
He snapped. "Exactly. My second date was with your German friend, which... ended up quite badly."
"Oh? Why is that?"
"I wore a T-shirt with a Swastika printed on it. I totally forgot what that meant."
"The Swastika and German..."
"Uh-huh. She slapped my head upright and left, cussing in German if I heard right. She called me a dummkopf."
Lili laughed a bit, a subtle laugh she never let other people hear. "And the third one?"
"Was with the lovely nature-lover. I gotta hand it to her. She had the whole date planned out. A picnic, a stroll in the park, museum visits. She's a nature keeper. Really sweet and nice girl."
She sighed. "At least you enjoyed your dates."
This time, the genuine interest washed all over Hwoarang. "Why? You had dates as well?"
"Three as well. The first one was with Miguel, then with Bob, then with the matchmaker himself."
"Do tell what happened."
"The first two were kind of... weird. Like you, I enjoyed the third."
The waitress came back with their orders. Two cups of coffee, along with a flirtatious wink especially for the Korean...
...And was retaliated by a piercing glare that came from the Monegasque. "Vos puta pendeja."
Intimidated, the waitress hurried back to the kitchen again, tripping over a customer in the process.
"Miguel likes brawls. Fighting has a proper time, not on a date. I take that he wanted to protect me from some Japanese thugs. He taught me what I just said a while ago. As for Bob, he took me to a nice eat-all-you can buffet. He was so nice to me, I couldn't refuse... but he ate like he pwned every table in the restaurant."
Hwoarang nodded. He made a mental post-it note in his head to ask how much guts his friends had during their dates. "What about Steve?"
"We ate ice cream near a creek. Walked barefoot in one of the Japanese shorelines. He took me to an old cinema that has old movies for show. I had a nice time."
She stirred her coffee with the pink stirrer. "They were all really nice, but they all had different girls on their minds. I couldn't blame them. After all, Chris and Steve do it for fun and for our circle of friends to get closer."
"Let her know that it's working," Hwoarang said. He smiled as he drank his coffee, which burnt his tongue. "Ow..."
Lili laughed again. The sound of her laughter rang in his ears. It was soothing. Blushing, he looked away from her. From that moment on, Hwoarang hated coffee.
But he loved her laughter. Her smile. Her.
"Here we are. You're okay here?" He asked her. He was positive that the girls were lodging here.
"Yes. I had a nice talk with you. Thanks," she responded, beaming at him like a gentle sunset. The heavy rain they charged into was turning into mere drizzles.
He enjoyed it, too. "Maybe... we can talk again sometime?"
Her smile didn't wear off. "Of course."
Bringing his hand to his head again, he began ruffling his own hair. "I mean... Steve and Chris did plan it all, but the dates I had before you were kinda... You're more..."
Lili silenced him when she placed a soft kiss on the corner of his mouth. Even when she kissed him, her smile was still there.
"I liked this date, too. Very much."
Regaining his composure, Hwoarang held her face with both hands, sweeping away some strands of her hair. He leaned down and kissed her forehead. She felt her insides knot end in end, her eyes shut as his lips brushed her forehead.
He felt struck by velvet lightning. The warmth they shared was far too comfortable, neither of them wanted to break free.
The voice was familiar, as well as the stance and the devilish grin on her face. It was Christie, all right. Quickly, the two distanced themselves from one another, which made the Brazilian laugh.
"Relax, you two. You look like you've seen a ghost or something!" she giggled. "Sorry to interrupt such a tender moment. I didn't mean to."
Lili sighed. Hwoarang rubbed his temples. Christie giggled at the two of them again.
"I'm glad that the two of you got along. It's a match! Looks like I did something right. For once," Christie closed her eyes in relief. For a moment, a serene smile was painted on her face. She began to walk. "So if you'll excuse me, I have to meet up with Steve. Another round of matchmaking."
"Hey, Chris," Hwoarang called her. She paused from her walking.
"You and Stevie boy are a good match. Ever realize it?"
Christie looked over her shoulder. "We'll figure it out sooner or later."
As soon as the Capoeira master's silhouette vanished, Hwoarang decided to make his ingress as well.
"I'll be taking my leave as well, Lili. Steve might think of ill thoughts again when I get home."
He turned back to leave. "Your jacket..." she held him back, tugging at his sleeve. He raised his hand and ruffled her hair.
"Keep it. As an assurance that we'll meet again."
"Okay," she managed to say it calmly, despite the quaver in her voice.
"I'll see you around," he told her before he finally left. It was only then that Lili realized the crimp in the sky. It revealed the crimson sunset she longed to see from the start.
Vos puta pendeja- Spanish (I think...), which means "You stupid b*"
Dummkopf- German, which means "Idiot".
I'll see you around, guys. Merry Christmas to all!