A Chance Encounter

                The bench was wet.  The wooden slats had grown a deep brown, as opposed to their normal lighter shade of grayish brown soon after the downpour began.  Ironically, the girl named Rain was without an umbrella, so she tried to use the hood of her spring jacket for protection against the elements, but it did little to keep her head dry and even less to keep her rump dry when she returned to her seat.

                "Find anything?" Her companion asked in a low voice.  It was an aside between conspirators and not for the ears of the would-be disapproving chaperons.

                "Not unless you count pocky," she answered.  With that Rain produced two long rectangular boxes covered with a mixture of Japanese and English writing.  "Chocolate or strawberry?"  she offered.  After a moments deliberation, the other reached out part way, letting his hand drift undecided between the two options.

                "You pick," he said finally.  The chocolate flavored wafers slapped into his palm.  He thought she'd choose strawberry, though to be honest it was the flavor he preferred as well.  Best be a gentleman, though, and let the lady choose.

                She tore open the strawberry treats with enthusiasm, perhaps the most she'd had the entire trip.  Coming to the Gundam Fight Finals in London, England on Earth had seemed like such a good idea when she discovered Fuhai Toho was fighting for Neo-Hong Kong.  As Rain crunched on the wafer, she thought back to the newspaper article she had shown Kyoji not too long ago.  He leapt at the chance to come face to face with the Kung Fu master, still adamant about retrieving his younger brother.

                In six years, Rain had accepted the absence of Domon Kasshu.  By the time she was in junior high school, she had successfully put the loss behind her and moved on.  She never gave a second thought to why that was, but then she always had heard that children were good at making adjustments.

                Kyoji, however, was unable to move on.  The parents of the two boys had seen it fit to keep the knowledge of why they let the old man take Domon from their elder son.  As such, he had nothing but resentment where the entire situation was concerned.  Even at twenty-four, he refused to consider the possibly that Domon was lost to the Kasshu family, if only for the time being.

                Kyoji decided at once that he would go to the finals and for some reason unknown to the sixteen year old girl, he had dragged her along for the ride.  The young man's thought process concluded that where ever Domon was, he must still consider Rain to be his best friend, even if it was a sentiment no longer shared by her.

                When he announced to his parents he intended to go to London, Kyoji didn't get any argument.  He was an adult and where he chose to go was his business.  When he made it clear he expected Rain to accompany him, the parents--that of Kyoji and Rain's own father--took it to mean that he wished the trip to London to be a family affair.  The Kasshus and the Mikamuras were close, always had been, and years back they used to take vacations together, though as the children grew older that had happened less and less. 

                So, Kyoji's ultimate goal had some unforeseen obstacles.  His parents and 'Uncle' Mikamura had always encouraged Domon's dabbling in the martial arts and scolded the elder brother when he tried to stand between  the King of Hearts and the child. 

                Neither Kyoji nor Rain expected to find Domon himself; their self-imposed mission was to find the man they knew would be at the finals--Fuhai Toho, otherwise known as Master Asia and find out where he had stashed his pupil.  After that, should a full scale 'rescue' be in order, Kyoji liked to think he was prepared.  As it stood, however, neither member of the recognizance team had the time or excuse to look.  They could only justify so many bathroom breaks or snack hunts without becoming suspicious.  Dr. Mikamura was already growing concerned over Rain's health.  Nervously, she did so hate lying to her father, but she figured she'd hate ratting out Kyoji even more, Rain made a few comments about English food not agreeing with her.

                Finding a vendor that sold pocky and riceballs and been a stroke of pure luck, but one they could have predicted.  The Neo-Japanese Fighter had gone undefeated thus far, which made audience members from the Land of the Rising Sun (Colony of the Rising Gundam, Rain had jokingly called her homeland when she heard how their Fighter had ascended the ranks) worth accommodating. 

                Kyoji polished off the box of chocolate pocky in record time.

                "Where did you find these?" he asked, seeing another chance to get away.

                "Come on," Rain said, jumping up.  In truth, she was more pleased to be rid of the wet, wooden bench than to continue the search.  "I'll show you."

                "I don't think we're going to find anything," Rain said when the two were sure their words would be drowned out by the crowd.

                "Don't be so pessimistic.  We know the old man is here, it's just a matter of finding him."

                "Yeah, but," Rain sighed, "I don't think we can find a master unless he wants us to.  Besides, don't they have special places for the Fighters to hang out?"

                Kyoji shrugged.  "To tell the truth, I always paid more attention to the mechas."

                "This was so stupid," Rain muttered.

                Kyoji didn't appear to be paying any attention.  "Another fight's about to start.  We should get back to our seats..it could be our guy."

                "How can you tell?" Rain asked.

                "The crowd's getting pushier," Kyoji said.  Almost as if to illustrate his point, Rain found herself being shoved in all different directions.

                "Excuse me," she repeated in both her native Japanese and heavily accented English as she tried to wade back to Kyoji.  "Pardon me, excuse me."  Fighting her way through the sea of bodies, Rain managed to get some personal space, but Kyoji was no where in sight. 

                "KYOJI!" She screamed, standing on the tips of her toes and cursing her height disadvantage.  She wove through the crowd once more.  Rain knew the way back to her seat and party, but knew neither she nor Kyoji could return without the other.  "Kyoji!" she shouted a few more times to no avail.

                A few more minutes of searching left Rain alone, wet, and leaning against the railing all the way at the front of the stands.

                "England has the worst weather ever," she muttered, ringing out her wavy, brown and most importantly, water logged hair.  She looked around, hoping against hope to see Kyoji, but the young man was no where in sight.  Feeling the need to get a bit more height, Rain stepped on the bottom rung of the railing.  The few inches, two, two and half if she was lucky, did little to help.  Against her better judgment she stepped up to the next one, which gave another foot.  Even with a better view, Rain couldn't see any familiar faces.

                Had she been paying attention to the fight, Rain would have seen why the crowd was getting restless.  Unfortunately, she was not prepared for the crowd to resume it's earlier actions.  She lost her balance as some inconsiderate person shoved past her and teetered between falling forwards--over the railing--and backward--into the crowd--for what seemed like eternity.  It was barely a handful of seconds after the collision that Rain lost her footing and plummeted forwards.

                Or rather she would have, had not a pair of arms secured themselves around her waist and steadied her.  A male voice said something Rain couldn't make out.  She recognized the language as Cantonese, but she couldn't speak or understand a word of it.

                "Thank you," she said in Japanese, staring slightly downward in embarrassment.  She couldn't see the face of her rescuer; her back was to him and until he let go of her, it seemed things would stay that way.

                "You speak Japanese?" he asked in disbelief, "Me, too!"  His arms unwound from her waist allowing Rain to finally step down from the railing and turn around.

                The boy appeared to be about her age, unmistakably Japanese with wild black hair that was neither long nor short but somewhere in between and slanted brown eyes.  He wore dark blue jeans and a green shirt covered by a tan jacket.  A red scarf was tied around his neck.  Through all that, the feature that stuck out the most was the x-shaped scar on his right cheek.

                Rain was unable to tear her gaze from the scar, wondering what sort of injury could have produced such a thing. 

                The boy was speaking rapidly in their shared language, unaware that his audience of one wasn't listening, but staring in grotesque fascination.  But it wasn't long before he lost her attention entirely.

                "Rain!"

                The teen-aged girl's head swung to the left.  Just a few meters away, Kyoji was waving his arms wildly.

                "Kyoji!" She shouted, delighted.  "Thanks again.  I gotta go!" she said to the boy as she dashed away, desperate to latch onto Kyoji before she lost him to herd again.

                "Kyoji," the boy repeated softly to himself.  His dark eyes widened with dawning realization.  "Rain!" he shouted, unable to believe that he had not recognized her.  "Kyoji!  Big brother!"  Ducking through the convergence of people, the boy tried to follow them, but was repeatedly pushed back and blocked.  "Kyoji!  Rain!  Rain, come back!"

                "Shut up, brat," a passer-by remarked in the English, "we know it's raining."

                The boy's sputtered Cantonese response sounded to the native like a slurring of N's and G's, but there was no misconstruing the high kick or the sound that made when foot connected to cheek.  Despite how much of a struggle it was for the boy to make his mouth produce the sort of words that had just been spoken to him, he could understand that he had been insulted.  His temper flared and so did his combat skill.

                "Any luck?" Kyoji Kasshu asked, draping his coat around Rain's shivering shoulders as they fought through the crowd.

                "None," Rain replied, her thoughts drifting to the scarred boy. 

                Elsewhere, Domon Kasshu muttered in his misery, alone and wet.  Locked away in a security cell awaiting bail for instaging a fight between pedestrians.  What would his Master say?

                "Rain..." 

Sore de wa...  Gundam Fight!  Ready?  Go!

Disclaimers: Mobile Fighter G Gundam is the brainchild of some genius working for Sunrise and/or Bandai.  I am merely a lowly fan.

Author Notes:  What DID Domon do while Master Asia was participating in the 12th Gundam Fight, anyway?