A/N- this was a major plot bunny interfering with my other fic, "Red Valleys". I will be writing them both at the same time (oh the horror!). Hope you like the beginning.
[I think that there are many 1\2 prince fics that look only at the young-rich-beautiful-misunderstood teenagers that find comfort in second life, and although some of them are really good, there are some that are really pointless, so I wanted to bring my own spin to the many different uses of second life]
A warm summer breeze blew softly into the small store as the door opened with a welcoming jingle. The books arranged neatly on the clean shelves, the small sofas that were scattered in the far left corner of the shop all radiated a welcoming vibe.
The lean shop clerk lifted her head from a book that was currently laying comfortably in her lap, and smiled softly at the new arrivals.
"good morning" she greeted the three teenagers that entered her small shop, "do you need any help?" she asked politely.
"no thanks" one of them waved her dismissively as they looked at the newly published books that were organized on a table in the center of the shop.
Jia Li smiled polity and dived back into her book. Customers usually had the tendency to come in the best parts of the plot. She peeked at the girls who now gathered near the fantasy sector, looking at the new-and-very-popular vampire trilogy that was on display.
The scents of their flowery sweet perfumes filled the small shop, making the characters that were having a fierce fight against the great forces of evil in Jia Li's book make a funny turn into those three girls. Only with great big swords.
Her imagination was frustrating some times.
"Jia Li! Good bye, see you next time" greeted an old man as he left the shop, a magazine folded under his arm .
"Good bye mr. Shui! have a nice day!" she greeted in return. The old man came every week at the same day at the same time, to sit in her little shop and read the new "Literature weekly" magazine he'd buy from her. He was very nice, although he looked a bit lost most of the times. He was one of her first customers and a regular one. He was once a well known professor for literature at XXX university.
He was the one who suggested that her book shop could be a small library too, and to her great surprise it turned out to be quite a hit at T city, making her small book shop popular with most of the students who studied at the university nearby, and a couple of the literature teachers too.
It was a slow day, with a few customers passing by from time to time, greeting her warmly and checking out the second hand book racks she put out side her shop earlier that day.
She looked at the wrapped book that waited under her desk. It was a rare edition, and in excellent shape too. The pages were slightly yellow around the corners, but she knew he'd like it. He loved the smell that those old pages emitted.
Her train of thoughts was suddenly disrupted when she heard a familiar name whispered among the three teenagers, that were trying to look at her without her noticing.
"…..they really look alike...look at her...and his eyes...isn't she Kuan Yin's mom?..she looks really young..." she heard them whispering among themselves.
They did look her son's age..no more than 15 years old, already walking with such short skirts, she eyed them critically.
But then again, who was she to judge them for wearing those, when she wanted to wear these kind of cute-frilly clothes herself..
"excuse me, miss? do you know Lang Kuan-Yin ?" one of them asked her.
"yes, I am his mother" she stated matter-of-factly, when the small group burst into small giggles.
"tell him Xiu-Mi says hi" one of them blurted in between giggles.
"Jian!" yelled of them clearly Xiu-Mi by her deep blush ,pushing the other girl playfully.
"Oh lighten up!" snorted Jian as she and the other girl walked toward the door.
"sorry for the intrusion" they bowed toward her and left the shop.
And as they left entered a tall lean man, smiling brightly. His short black hair a bit messy, eyes shining, he looked very handsome.
"Gui Wen!" greeted Jia-Li happily.
"do you really have the book?" he inquired excitedly. She huffed in fake annoyance"and here I thought you came to see me, you ungrateful man".
"im sorry Jia..i was so excited when you called me I rushed here as fast as I could.." he rubbed his head.
Jia Li took the wrapped book from her table and handed it to him, "you owe me big time" she added, when he snatched the book from her hands, carefully peeling the blue wrap, revealing a golden cover with big curly letters.
They both sat at a nearby coffee shop, hidden behind blooming bushes.
"I still cannot believe you managed to put your hands on this copy..and in such great shape" said Gui, "how come you did not take this copy for yourself?"
Jia Li's smile dimmed a bit, becoming pained "i still have the copy Yul-Jun bought me before he left..".
"im sorry..i didn't mean to intrude like that" said Gui, looking guilty for bringing up the subject.
"it's no intrusion, you were his friend too,and it has been 8 years since the war" she smiled weakly, and then punched his shoulder lightly and smiled.
"I am a big girl already! Bigger then you! So stop treating me like that, or ill tell your parents, you little brat!" she laughed as he pretended to be mortified.
"you big old telltale! its only a seven years gap! And if I am a little brat you are an old hag!" he stated haughty, taking a sip from his tea, as if proving a point.
"so.."she started again "how are the new students? I was really happy to hear you came to XXX university. It is an odd choice though..".
He hummed in agreement and said, "it was a rather random choice, really".
"what do you mean by rather random...?"
"I took all the job offers, and threw them in the air, the one I caught was chosen, and here I am!".
He laughed at her bewildered expression.
"you came here by accident you big jerk! And I thought you actually missed Kuan-Yin and myself!" she huffed at him as they payed the bill and walked toward the small book shop.
He looked very amused "you are the one who never has time to see anyone, always busy with your shop" he poked her cheek.
"humf!" was her only replay as they entered her shop, re-opening it after her short break.
They settled behind the counter, each of them opening their books, reading for a short while.
"….hey Jia, are you still into video games?" inquired Gui, "there is a new game coming out in a week..um..what was it called..?"
"you mean 'second life'?" stated Jia with a smile.
"yea that one, it made a load of commotion lately, and I think ill buy myself one."and after a moment of pause he added "Buy one too! You can revive 'Jia-the-magnificent'!" he laughed.
"don't bring her up..it was a complete embarrassment, and I only called her that because Yul-Jun liked it" she smiled "although I do miss that game...when I finally managed to climb up to lvl 100 every one moved on to a different game" she pouted.
"they say 'second life' will be 99.9% realistic, and you only play it at night when you sleep, so it wont interfere with the shop, you workaholic" Gui added.
It really was tempting..she thought about buying it for Kuan-Yin for his birthday next week. And she did deserve a treat once in a while.
"I think I will" she finally said.
"thats great! I can introduce you to Lee Tian Lang! He said he will buy the game too." said Gui with a smile. He lifted his head from his book and looked at the clock.
"Oh for the love of- I am gonna miss the bus!" he said hurriedly, slinging his bag onto his shoulder.
"Bye Jia! see ya'!" he shouted after himself as he ran toward the bus station at the far end of the street.
It was mid afternoon when she decided to close the shop for the day. A weak breeze played with the hem of her long black skirt and with the long strands of her brown hair. She tucked her hair behind her ear and climbed the stairwell that hid behind her shop, leading to her apartment on the second floor.
Kuan-Yin went to a friend's house to do his homework, and she had the apartment all for herself for a couple of hours.
Not that she had anything special to do while he was gone, she thought.
She really did needed a hobby, and the new game Gui suggested sounded rather nice.
She took off her shoes and entered the kitchen. The white counter was sparingly clean and the pans and the pots were arranged neatly on the shelves.
An elegant blue vase with small pink flowers stood on the small table next to a small wooden frame with a picture of a young smiling man that couldn't have been any older then 25.
"im home honey" she greeted the man in the picture and smiled softly.
She loved that picture of Yul-Jun, she had taken it before the war, in the park they used to take Kuan-Yin when he was little. He looked so happy at that moment, they were both so clueless and unaware that a couple of months after that picture was taken Yul-Jin's squad would be attacked in an abandoned house.
She didn't know what took over Yul-Jin to make him jump on the grenade and save the rest of his squad.
What made him leave her all alone with a six years old son.
She felt a tear rolling down her cheek. Yul-Jin was brave. The bravest man she had ever known, and the stupidest one.
She pulled out a frying pan and started cutting some vegetables for a stir-fry. It had been eight years since his teammates and their commander knocked on her door . She was still wearing black. She still shied away from other man, and felt guilty when she thought about anyone other then him. Gui Wen told her she was punishing herself, and that Yul-Jin wouldn't want her to lock herself in the little bookstore they had opened together when Kuan Yin was just a small baby.
She smelled something burn and cursed out loud. The vegetables were burnt completely. She looked at her attempt at dinner, and suddenly anger welled within her. She grabbed the pan and threw it with everything she had at the small table, sending the frying pan, the vegetables, the small blue vase she bought last summer and the framed picture to scatter and break on the floor.
She was openly crying now, there was no one to see her cry. She was mad. Mad about the stupid vegetables for burning, mad that her vase broke, mad at Gui for not thinking of her for the last couple of months,mad at Yul-Jin for leaving her so hurriedly, and mad at herself, for being so stupid, for locking herself up in between the pages of her beloved books, for growing her hair long for so many years, just the way he used to like it.
She was so mad she felt so lonely.
And she felt stupid.
For lying down on the kitchen's floor crying her heart out because her dinner burned.
And she stayed there a couple of minutes, breathing shakily, wiping her eyes with a napkin. She started picking up the shreds of glass and porcelain, the pictures frame was lying upside down. The wood was broken, the glass too was shattered.
She started crying again.
mattering comforting things to herself she fumbled around to find another frame, extracting Yul-Jin's picture carefully from the ruined frame.
She felt a sharp pain in the palm of her hand. A long lean cut stretched across her palm, ebbing with fresh blood, staining the ruined frame and the picture.
Her first aid kit was lying downstairs in the shop.
The sky started turning red as the sun set beyond the skyscrapers of T city.
Jia-li wrapped her hands with white comforting bandages, and she was now sitting in front of her computer, buying to sets of game-helmets, and pre-ordering 'second life'.
Kuan Yin will be so happy.
A/N- please comment\ review me!
The button is right there!
You know you want to!
By the way Jia-Li is 32 years old, and Gui is 25 years old, while Kuan Yin is 15..? and Yul-Jin was 25-26 when he died.
Just to clear the confusion- Gui is not a love interest for Jia, because I simply love how he pines for Prince. poor Gui, unfortunately for him I love wicked too.