She was eight and he was ten...
The little Chinese girl looked up, startled, blinking away tears as her blurry gaze fell on the child stood over her. "M-My knee," she sobbed, "I hurt it."
Directing his sienna gaze downward, the boy noticed that she was holding onto her leg. A small trickle of blood was oozing down the pale limb and it soaked into her brightly coloured sock. "How did you do that?" he asked, sitting next to her on the kerb, narrowing his eyes to take a closer look.
"W-Well," the girl sniffed, "I was playing outside my house and I saw a cute kitty. It looked lonely...s-so I ran after it, seeing if it wanted to play. But I fell over and it ran off." She smiled, temporarily forgetting about her knee. "My name is Xiaoyu, by the way."
The boy lifted his gaze to the youngster's leg and his eyebrows furrowed a little. "Hwoarang."
Xiaoyu giggled. "No, my name is Xiaoyu! Silly billy! What kind of name is Hwoarang?"
The auburn-haired child flared his nostrils slightly. "It's my name."
There was an awkward silence, and Xiaoyu pulled on one of her pig-tails. "Oh...I'm sorry."
Hwoarang sighed, calm again, finally doing something about the girl's knee. He pulled a plaster out of his school backpack. "No. It's okay. I don't blame you for laughing at it. Most of the other kids at school laugh at me, too."
Xiaoyu's gaze was forlorn, "Why?" she asked.
"Because I'm Korean."
"Wow, you're Korean?" Xiaoyu gasped, earning a nod from the red-head. She then noticed that Hwoarang's face was a lot more rounder and that his eyes were more almond shaped than any Japanese or Chinese people she knew. Xiao then noticed the Koreans vibrant hair. "Not being mean or anything, but I have never met an Asian person with red hair before." Xiaoyu muttered a quiet 'thank you' when Hwoarang stuck the plaster over her wound. She smiled and straightened out her legs.
"I know. People make fun of me for that, too. My nickname is Rusty in school."
"People are sometimes big meanies. Ignore them." Xiaoyu placed a finger on her lips. "I really like it. It's...different."
Hwoarang froze; then, a small smile broke over his lips. No one had ever complimented his hair - nor himself, in fact. The Korean never thought that it would feel that nice. His eyes sparkled as he spoke. "Thanks. That means a lot to me."
Xiaoyu giggled and tapped his hand. "No problem! Hey, would you like to be my friend?"
The red-head felt a warm feeling spread from his belly to his chest. Friend. A friend to talk to, a friend to be with in times of doubt. He had never felt what having a friend was like and maybe, just maybe, this girl was what Hwoarang needed to feel happy again. Friends were forever. "You want to be my friend?" Hwoarang asked quietly.
"Yeah! You're really friendly. You're funny and...I think you're...you know...cute!" Xiaoyu giggled.
Hwoarang smirked and stood up, offering a hand out to the Chinese girl. She took it and jumped up, her head only just reaching Hwoarang's chin. The red-head smiled. Before leaving, he gave Xiaoyu a quick peck on the cheek. "See you around...Xiao."
Xiaoyu blushed. The girl put a hand to her face, a smile playing on her lips as the Korean walked away, stuffing a hand in the pocket of his jeans as the other held onto the strap of his rucksack.
She was fifteen and he was seventeen...
"So, uh...what do you think?"
Xiaoyu flew back down to Earth from her daydream and turned her attentions to the Korean stood opposite her. "About what?"
"Do you wanna go? To the prom? With...me?"
That blew Xiaoyu off the rails. She knew that Hwoarang liked her but she didn't think that he would go so far as to actually make an advance, no matter how brazen he claimed to be. "But I didn't think that pupils from other schools were allowed to go."
Hwoarang was vehement as he answered. "As long as one of the kids are." He looked down at his shoes, occasionally looking up through copper tendrils to witness his best friend's reaction. "So, you wanna...go with me?"
Ling smiled and felt a warmth rise to her cheeks. That adorable look of apprehension and anticipation was on the red-head's face once more; this was the softer side of Hwoarang that he had ever been in Xiaoyu's presence, a moment when the veil of rogue visage seemed torn and a glimpse of the tenderness within Hwoarang was visible.
Xiaoyu nodded and hugged him. "I'd love to go with you."
Hwoarang smiled and pulled back from their embrace. "So, I'll...call you tonight with the times and all that stuff, yeah? My bus is here so I have to go now."
The Chinese girl nodded and bit her lip. "Sure, bye bye!"
"Yeah, see ya."
Xiaoyu waved and turned, making her way from the school gates and down the street; until she was out of sight.
Hwoarang fist pumped and grinned, stepping onto the school bus.
She was nineteen and he was twenty-one...
The sun was blazing in the blindingly blue sky, the sound and the smell of the ocean lapping at her feet was intoxicating to her senses as she stared outward onto the horizon...smiling when she felt arms encircle her form, resting their head in the crook of her neck.
"I told you I'd meet you here," the man whispered.
Xiaoyu sighed, contented, and tilted her head back onto the males own shoulder, her eyes meeting his. They shared a soft kiss. "I didn't doubt you for a second, Hwoa..." She took his hand in hers and they began to stroll along the sand, talking as they shared the occasional kiss; driven by Hwoarang, of course. "Hey?"
"Did you ever think we'd end up together when we first met?"
Hwoarang smirked. "Truth be told, yeah I did." He looked up at the sky briefly, then directed his gaze back to the woman next to him. "I know we were only kids at the time, but I really liked you."
Xiaoyu smiled. She stared down at her hand, seeing the glint of Pearl embedded into an expensive looking gold ring. "I was so shocked that you knew my birthstone, to be honest."
Hwoarang feigned hurt, winking at her. "It was hard to find an engagement ring with a pearl gem. I scoured every jewelry shop and ended up in Osaka looking for one. But you know what?"
Xiaoyu raised an eyebrow. "What?"
He kissed her lips. "You were totally worth it."
Ling cooed and squeezed her fiance's hand, stopping in her tracks to wrap her arms around Hwoarang's torso. "You will make a great husband."
"You'll make a great wife." Hwoarang kissed her forehead, rubbing a hand over Xiaoyu's stomach, smiling at the subtle bump that protruded from beneath her shirt.
"And we'll be a great family..."