Happy Valentine's Day from Xiaoyu and Hwoarang. :)


Bad Habit: Part Two


Xiaoyu gazed in the mirror. Someone else's reflection stared back at her.

The powder on her cheeks made her skin flush bronze. Her eyelashes seemed thinner and longer, accentuated by mascara. Charcoal shadow was smeared over her eyelids, cherry gloss across her lips.

"I look at least five years older!" she squealed in delight.

She glimpsed Panda in the corner of the mirror. "Oh, don't be that way. Christie wears this stuff all the time, and guys drool over her."

"You aren't Christie."

"I also don't have a boyfriend," she replied, "Not yet, anyway."

She peered at herself for a few minutes, then sighed deeply. "Who am I trying to kid? I look like a drag queen."

"Good news!" Miharu announced, barging into the hotel room without knocking as per usual.

She hesitated. "What happened to your face?"

"That's it," cried Xiaoyu, grabbing a tissue, "I'm taking it off!"

Miharu sat down on the edge of the bed, watching as her best friend rubbed furiously at her cheeks. "Who is he?"

"Why does there have to be a boy involved?"

"Because you made yourself look like a circus clown," came the redhead's quick answer.

Wiping away the last of the make-up, Xiaoyu turned from the mirror. "You promise not to laugh at me?"

"Promise."

"Hwoarang."

Miharu's eyes widened. "Really?"

"Yeah," responded Xiaoyu almost defensively, "Why?"

"Well, I passed him in the hall on the way over here," Miharu explained with a mischievous grin, "He was talking about how he thinks you're totally hot and wants you to bear his children."

She giggled as a tube of lipstick sailed over her shoulder and landed on the bed.

Xiaoyu frowned. "You promised you wouldn't make fun of me."

"Correction," said Miharu, "I promised I wouldn't laugh at you."

The raven-haired girl groaned in frustration.

"And anyway, I thought you had a thing for Jin."

"Jin and I are friends," Xiaoyu remarked, "I just want to find out what's going on with him."

"Could've fooled me," Miharu murmured.

Another object, eyeliner this time, slashed through the air and missed its target.

"It's a wonder you've made it this far in the tournament, the way you aim," teased Miharu.

"I look like a six-year-old, Mi," Xiaoyu declared, glancing back at her reflection, "How do I get him to like me when this is all I have to work with?"

"I think you're missing the point here," her best friend told her, "He should want to be with you for who you really are, not who you're trying to be. And I'm sure he already does, so don't worry about it."

The gears in Xiaoyu's head started to spin. "What did you say?"

"Don't worry about it?'" Miharu repeated, puzzled.

"You're telling me to be myself, right?" Xiaoyu went on, ignoring her.

"Yeah?"

"And I think cigarettes are gross!"

"I'm—not sure I follow."

Xiaoyu leapt up and abruptly raced into the hallway, shouting gratitude over her shoulder to a very perplexed redhead. Possibilities of things to say were already congealing in her brain as she took to the set of stairs she knew would lead her to the roof.

Shoving the heavy door ajar, she snuck a peek outside to confirm his location. A wave of déjà vu crashed over her. He was standing exactly where he'd been during their encounter the day before, his body slouched into the same nonchalant position.

Xiaoyu braced herself and strode over to him, stifling a sigh of relief when she didn't fall a second time.

As expected, he showed no reaction to her presence.

She stopped in front of him, mentally convincing herself to keep a straight face. The gentle rumble of distant traffic seemed to melt into nothingness in comparison to the pulse beating in her eardrums. For a moment she was concerned he could hear it too, but only for a moment. After that, everything became adrenaline and warmth.

Meeting his gaze with a fierceness of her own, she stole the unlit cigarette dangling from his lips. He didn't move, but curiosity claimed his visage.

"These things aren't good for you," she said, careful not to sound patronizing.

He smirked, piercing eyes evaluating her. "You're not scared of me."

It was a statement, not a question. It occurred to her that she may be the only person besides his master to have approached him since the beginning of the tournament. He certainly hadn't been giving off a social butterfly vibe.

She replied by tilting her hand, allowing the cigarette to roll precariously close to her fingertips. She lifted her foot to demonstrate what would happen once it hit the ground.

His expression hardened abruptly. "What the hell are you doing?"

"I told you," Xiaoyu answered, "It's a bad habit."

"I don't care. I need my fix."

Though it was apparent she'd managed to strike a chord with him, he didn't reach out to try to reclaim his possession. Instead, he remained still, as if waiting to see what she would do next.

When she spoke again, her voice was painfully quiet. "Addiction is a funny thing."

She wrapped her hand around the cigarette and placed the other on the wall beside him.

"It can make your heart race."

Slowly, she traced the curves of his bare arm with her fingernails.

"Your mouth dry, your palms sweaty."

Her tone was innocent enough, but the look in his eyes betrayed him. She inched forward.

"Before you know it, it's all you think about."

She moved her hand across his wrist to his torso, gentle caress pausing at the hem of his shirt. His mouth fell open slightly, though no sound escaped. Careful not to lean too far, she rose up on her toes to bring her face nearer to his. A single finger breached the boundary between cloth and heated skin.

"It's enough to drive you crazy," she whispered.

He closed his eyes.

Seizing the opportunity, she slid the cigarette between his parted lips and backed away. She didn't look back to witness the result of her actions as she left, but she had a feeling it would've been priceless.

She re-entered the empty stairwell with a giddy smile. "I'm so smooth!"