A/N: Takes place during Chapters 26-27 of From A Woman's Point of View. Don't worry, even if you haven't read that one, you'd still understand this one. Hehe. XD
She stepped into the Edenian Forest. It was nighttime, and the place was dark and eerie. Then again, it was like that no matter what time of the day. She heard some leaves rustle behind her and she quickened her pace.
"Jade! Jade!" she heard her name being called. Still, she kept walking. She didn't want to face him. No, she couldn't. Not now…She didn't want him to see her like this. He heard the person behind her break into a run, and she hastily did the same. She was drained of all her energy as she reached the clearing. She stopped running and felt the tears fall from her face.
No! I can't cry…I can't, she thought as she wiped her tears angrily. They started to fall yet again, and she took a deep breath. She was concentrating on not letting her tears fall. When a warm hand reached out to her and touched her shoulder, her concentration broke, and her tears rolled down her face. She wiped them away.
"Jade…what's the matter with you?" he asked her softly. Jade cringed from his touch. She couldn't possibly tell him.
"Nothing." She lied. She didn't sound convincing, even to herself.
He didn't answer.
Jade didn't have to turn around to see that her words had worried him.
"I'm sorry for making you worry." She said. She started to walk again, but Kung Lao grasped her arm.
"Jade…" his voice was gentle, yet there was a commanding edge to it. He wanted her to tell him. She could feel it.
"I said, 'It's nothing.'" She replied fiercely. Again, there was no need for her to look at him to see that she had hurt him. Her sudden vehemence had taken him aback. A few moments of silence passed before he spoke again.
"Jade…" this time, his voice was pleading. It hurt her to see him like that. But her pride wouldn't let her tell him. It never was easy for her to talk about her feelings…not even to Kitana. Kitana was her best friend, but it was always she, who talked about her problems and never Jade.
Jade turned to face Kung Lao. It would not be pleasant, but she had no other choice. At least, that's what she believed.
"I said it's nothing Kung Lao…" She said firmly. She wanted to tell him. But, she couldn't. It was bad enough that he found out that something was wrong.
"I don't understand what the hell your problem is!" Kung Lao shouted at her. Shock crossed Jade's face. Kung Lao had always been the patient one, the kind one, the understanding one. She did not expect him to shout at her.
Kung Lao was breathing heavily.
"Well? Do I have to repeat the god damned question? What the hell is your problem?" He was angry. Jade gulped but remained composed. She merely stared back at him. Apparently, silence wasn't the answer Kung Lao wanted. He sighed and looked down on the ground. "I can't keep on doing this forever, Jade." He said solemnly.
His words sent a strong blow to her heart. It hurt. He couldn't stay with her. He got tired of her. She noticed the shocked look in Kung Lao's face and only then did she realize that her tears were falling from her face. She forced a smile.
"I-I understand." Then, as quick as she possibly could, she sprinted away, leaving a hurt, and very shocked Kung Lao.
Jade returned to the camp. People looked up as she passed, but none of them asked her what happened. It was either they didn't care, or they believed she needed time to herself. She thought it was the latter.
She entered the tent which she had set up for herself. Somebody was sitting on the chair and examining a map of Edenia. It was Kitana.
"Jade." She nodded towards her, before turning her attention back to the map.
"Kitana…What're you doing here? Inside my tent?" Jade crossed her arms.
Kitana blinked at her words. She looked confused.
"Your tent?" Kitana asked her.
"Yes, my tent." She forced herself to stay calm. How presumptuous Kitana was.
"You got it wrong, Jade. This is my tent." Kitana raised her eyebrow.
"Ugh. Even if I am your bodyguard, you don't have any right to claim my stuff as yours." She said scathingly.
Kitana looked shocked. She was silent a few moments before she spoke.
"Is that what you think, you are to me? A bodyguard? Jade, you're more than that." Kitana said quietly. Still she made no attempt to leave the tent.
Jade shook her head.
"Why are you claiming my tent as yours, then?"
"This is my tent. Your tent is next door." She pointed out. Jade raised her eyebrow, and took a peek outside. Indeed, her tent was adjacent to Kitana's. Jade felt like an idiot.
"Well?" Kitana asked her.
Jade swallowed and looked at Kitana and at the chair she was sitting on. Only then did she remember that she didn't have a chair in her tent.
"Sorry for assuming things." She smacked her forehead lightly. "I'm not feeling myself today."
Kitana looked at her understandingly. She stood up from her seat and sat down on the ground. She patted the ground beside her and Jade sat down.
"Sorry...Really, I am." Jade said guiltily. Kitana looked at her friend and patted her in the back.
The two sat in silence.
"So," Kitana said, breaking the silence. "what happened to you?"
"What do you mean?" Jade asked her. She tried to sound confused, but obviously, Kitana knew better. She merely crossed her arms and looked at her friend expectantly.
"Come on, out with it."
"I really don't know what you mean." Jade said quietly.
"We can do this all day, if you want."
Jade sighed. The Edenian Princess was so...persistent.
"It-it's just..." Jade stared at the floor.
"Don't you trust me? Jade...I know you never open up to anyone. Well that's partially my fault." Kitana took her veil off.
"I always tell you all of my problems. I always cry on your shoulder...and I never bother to ask what your problems are. And don't tell me you have none." Kitana added as Jade opened her mouth to say that she had none. She closed her mouth again.
Kitana smiled at her sadly.
"I've been so...selfish. Don't bottle everything up. Tell me..." Kitana encouraged her. "Indulge me, my friend."
"I fought with Kung Lao..." Jade blurted out. Tears sprang to her eyes.
"Why? What happened?" It was apparent to Jade that Kitana was shocked, even thought the Edenian didn't show it. She and Kung Lao had seldom fought. It was because Kung Lao was always understanding, and
"It was my fault...I...it's just this war. I-I'm so afraid." Jade took her mask off and set on the ground beside her. She hugged her knees to her chest.
"Afraid of dying?" Kitana asked.
"No," Jade shook her head. "I'm not afraid of dying…I'm afraid for everybody else here…especially Kung Lao." She said softly. She glanced at the entrance of the tent, afraid that somebody might have heard her little confession.
" Jade." The said person turned to meet Kitana's sad smile.
"I'm so afraid, Kitana. The anxiety is practically killing me." Jade's eyes were shining. "And…and he shouted at me."
The surprise was evident in her friend's face. Apparently, Jade wasn't the only one who noticed that it wasn't Kung Lao's normal behavior.
"He told me that…" she shook her head, not wanting to continue.
"If you can't tell me now, it's all right." Kitana said understandingly.
"No!" Jade exclaimed and grabbed Kitana by her shoulders. "I…I have to tell you. I need to get this out of my system." She was facing Kitana but her eyes were focused on the necklace Kitana was wearing. "He…told me that…he…couldn't do this forever…" she said softly.
"Oh, Jade." Kitana hugged her friend and patted Jade's back sympathetically. "I'm sure he meant that in a different way."
Jade pulled back from the hug. " What else could it mean? It just means that…he doesn't love me anymore." Jade rubbed her eyes and pulled her knees to her chest. She felt so pathetic. She was supposed to be strong. She always had been strong.
"Maybe you should ask him instead of me." Kitana smiled at her friend. "It'll all work out in the end…I swear."
Jade's smile came out as a grimace. "If you say so…" She stood up. "Kitana."
"Thanks." She said.
Her friend smiled at her. "Any time, Jade."
As she stepped out of Kitana's tent, she caught sight of Kenshi and Sub-zero near the campfire. She made her way towards them.
"Hey Kensh-," she started to say.
"Shhh." Kenshi shushed her. "Asleep." He whispered to her as he pointed to Sub-zero.
Jade nodded at him and sat beside him.
"What's up?" he asked her.
"…Nothing." Jade stared at the crackling flames.
"Nothing?" Kenshi glanced towards her direction.
Even though she was sure that he could not see anything, it seemed as if he was looking into her very core. Jade gave him a small smile. Though he couldn't see it, he probably could sense it.
Neither of them spoke for a while and Jade returned her attention to the fire.
"We don't talk often, Jade." Kenshi suddenly said, breaking the silence. "I think this is just one of the few times I get the chance to do so."
"I know…I just, well, don't feel like talking at the moment." She admitted.
"I understand." He smiled at her. "Even though we never get to speak to each other most of the time, you do know you can talk to me about anything, right? I have a vow of secrecy." He said it so solemnly, as if he were a priest, that Jade laughed quietly.
"I do now." She grinned at him. "Thanks for trying to cheer me up, swordsman."
"Trying? Did I not succeed, warrior?" Kenshi quipped.
"I guess you kind of did…I feel better, at least." She said.
Kenshi grinned at her. "Then my job here is done."
Yet again, this made Jade laugh. "Is that your sole purpose in life?"
"Not really my sole purpose." Kenshi stood up and pulled the still sleeping Sub-zero up. "It's one of my purposes, perhaps." He threw one of Sub-zero's arms over his shoulder and half-carried the cryomancer to the tent.
"What do you think yours is?" Kenshi asked after returning from the tent.
Jade glanced at him. His sudden appearance had taken her aback. "What?"
"What do you think your purpose is?" He asked cryptically.
Great. I'll be up all night pondering on this question. She thought as she sighed.
"…I have no idea." She said honestly. "Perhaps…I don't have any purpose in this world…" she looked up at the sky.
"When I was younger, I always loved looking at the sky…of course when I wasn't blind yet." He added with a soft chuckle. "It seemed like a vast, endless space…no matter how long I looked at it. I would never grow tired."
Jade cocked her head to the side, wondering what brought about his cryptic stories.
"Up there, one would be able to see billions of stars spread out across the sky. Like...a black canopy, with numerous holes punched in it." He ran a hand through his hair. He looked at her. "No two stars are the same. Each has its own distinctive quality about it and each has its own purpose for being there."
"Why are you telling me this?" she asked him.
Kenshi merely shrugged. "I just felt like doing so." He smiled at her. "Think of it this way Jade, even the tiniest, most annoying creature was created by the Elder Gods for a reason."
"Really? I thought cockroaches were created just to annoy the hell out of people." She wrinkled her nose in disgust. Ew.
Kenshi shook his head. "They would serve as means of completing the food chain. Taking them out of the equation would forever disrupt the balance of nature."
"Good point." She nodded.
"Talk to him." He suddenly said, as if reading her thoughts. "This might be your last chance to do so." He smiled again as he placed his hand on her shoulder in a comforting gesture. She opened her mouth to reply when a second voice interrupted.
Both swordsman and bojutsu wielder turned towards the source of the voice.
"Li Mei?" Kenshi asked her.
"…Am I interrupting anything?" she asked hesitantly. She was running her hand up and down her arm, a clear sign that she was nervous.
Maybe she's going to confess her love to him. Better give them some privacy.
"Not really." Jade spoke up. "I was about to go to sleep anyway. Good night, Li Mei, night Kenshi." She walked towards her tent.
"Night." They chorused.
Jade entered her tent, making sure it was hers this time. She plopped herself on her mat and rolled to her side, trying to get some sleep.
About half an hour later, Jade was still wide awake. She stared at the ceiling of her tent.
Try as she might, she couldn't seem to get Kung Lao out of her head. Every time she closed her eyes, his face would pop out of nowhere. It wasn't his usual benevolent smile that she would see, it was his angry, helpless face.
She wished she could have been more appreciative. She remembered all the times where she had taken his kindness for granted. He would always think of her before thinking of himself. He was so selfless.
Then it hit her.
She did not deserve him. He was understanding, kind, strong, handsome, loving…the list went on. Sure Kung Lao was not perfect, even the Elder Gods weren't. He was the best man a woman could ever wish for.
She rolled to her left side this time and closed her eyes, hoping to have a moment to escape from her despair. The Elder Gods seemed to have granted her wish, for after a few minutes, she fell asleep.
It was midday.
How she knew it escaped her. Maybe it was the way the light penetrated the thin canopy of her tent. Perhaps it was the heat radiating inside of it. She simply lay on her back as she let the events of yesterday, flood back into her mind.
She sat up and stretched.
Well, today's the day. She shivered at the thought. The supposedly "final battle" or what Johnny loved to call the "Armageddon" made her uneasy. The thought that Kitana, her best friend, and Kung Lao, the love of her life, were also going to fight made her more than a little edgy. Jade stood up and stepped outside the confines of her tent.
Will I ever live to see Kung Lao smile again? Will I ever get to hear Kitana's stories and Kenshi's proverbs? She smiled sadly at Kitana as the princess exited her tent.
"Jade." She greeted.
"Milady." She said formally.
Kitana rolled her eyes. "Drop the formalities, Jade. We're best friends."
"Sorry." She grinned sheepishly.
"Are you feeling any better?"
"I guess. A little." Jade undid the buns on her head and let her hair flow freely. She ran her hand through it.
"Do you hear that?" Kitana asked suddenly as she turned her head to the left. Jade did the same thing and found the source of the shouting.
Scorpion and Sub-zero's new student were having a row. The Lin Kuei grandmaster was trying to break it up, adding his voice to the already loud…conversation.
Kitana shook her head. "What in the Netherrealm are they thinking, fighting at a time like this?" she asked no one in particular.
"Nothing." Jade shook her head as well. "They aren't thinking."
"Indeed." Kitana must have seen something past Jade's shoulder for she hastily made up an excuse and ran off towards Kenshi and Li Mei.
Jade cocked her head to the side in confusion. She turned around, intending to walk back into her tent. Instead she bumped into someone.
"Oh, I'm sor-Kung Lao." Her apology was forgotten.
"Jade." He was looking at her, almost coolly. It unnerved her. He opened his mouth to say something, but apparently thought better of it. He turned around and started to walk off in the opposite direction.
Talk to him. This may be your last chance to do so. Kenshi's words reverberated inside her head. Without thinking she ran up to Kung Lao and hugged him from behind.
Saying Kung Lao was stunned was an understatement. He craned his neck to look at Jade, whose face was buried in his back. Her grip tightened around him.
"I'm sorry…" she mumbled.
Kung Lao freed himself from her hug and shook her hands off him.
Jade stared at the floor. Rejection hit her squarely on the face. Tears sprang to her eyes and they rolled down her cheeks, not bothering to wipe them away. He had turned her apology down. He did not want her anymore. She brought her hands up to her face.
It hurt her more than she thought it would. She had always assumed that Kung Lao would always be patient, always be loving…
Her tears kept coming. She had no idea what to do.
Suddenly, strong, muscular arms pulled her into an embrace. Shock was Jade's first reaction. What…?
"Jade." She heard Kung Lao's voice amidst her sobbing.
Her second reaction was elation. She hugged him tighter, not wanting to let him go. More tears followed and she buried her head deeper into his chest. After a few moments she finally pulled back.
"Why?" Jade asked him.
"Why what?" Kung Lao gave her a confused look.
"Why did you hug me?"
"I thought it was fairly obvious." Kung Lao smiled at her serenely. "I accept your apology."
"…Yesterday, you told me that you couldn't-,"
"Take it anymore?" Kung Lao finished for her. "Jade, I never meant that I didn't love you anymore. What I meant was I couldn't stand the way we were fighting."
"Does that mean that, that-,"
"I still love you?" Kung Lao smiled at her, a smile she longed to see. "Of course I do. He wiped some of her tears away. "How about you? Do you love me?"
"I…I don't…" she trailed off.
"You-you don't love me?" Kung Lao's face was the image of despair. His expression was that of a man being burned at the stake.
"Of course I do!" she shouted, and Kung Lao looked relieved. "I meant that I…I don't deserve you." She ran her hand up and down her arm, much like Li Mei. "You can do so much better than me. You should find someone better than me. Someone who'd show you as much affection as you do. Someone who knows how to express her feelings. Someone who doesn't have half the pride I have. Someone who's willing to apologize for her mistakes. Someone who-," Her rant was cut off as Kung Lao's lips were pressed to hers.
"What you are telling me is impossible." He said after he pulled back. "I can't love anybody apart from you." He cupped her face. "Believe it or not, you are the best thing that has ever happened to me."
"B-but, I've been nothing but a burden to you…I-I don't deserve you." She looked away from him.
"If I believed that, I would have left you years ago. But I'm right here, aren't I? And I'll never leave you. Jade, I don't think wild snow beasts could keep me from loving you. Our relationship isn't all fairytale-ish like Kitana and Liu's was, but I wouldn't trade this for anything, would you?"
Unable to speak because of the lump in her throat, Jade merely shook her head.
"I love you, Jade. I always will. No matter how corny and cheesy my speech was, it's all true."
Jade was pulled back into his arms and she sighed contentedly.
"I-I want to explain why I've been cold and distant and annoying lately."
Kung Lao did not respond but merely gestured for her to continue.
"I'm scared." She hugged him tighter. "No, not of dying." She answered an unspoken question. "I'm afraid that…that you might not make it out alive." She looked up at him. "I'm so afraid." She sounded embarrassed at having to say her weakness in front of him, but she knew that he needed to know.
"I'll live." He said. "Knowing that this beautiful Edenian warrior might someday be my wife, I'll keep on fighting." He smiled at her. "I know that you will fight on as well. You've never been one to give up."
"Knowing that this dashing young man will be my husband someday, I'll fight on." She smiled at him.
Kung Lao leaned forward and captured her lips in another kiss.
In the arms of her beloved man, Jade felt like she could take on the whole world.
A/N: Ohhhh My Goodness. This took me such a long time to complete. Good Lord. Yeah. This one's for ViciousViper15. Sorry it took so long!
If there are grammatical errors, please notify me. :D