Anna finished packing her bags for the two weeks of camping and water fun. She was so excited to go water skiing again. Her aunt and uncle had no kids so as soon as she was old enough to take care of herself they would bring her along on the trips. Her mom would laugh at her because she would come home tan, bruised, and smiling.
"So where's the exchange student from this time?" Anna asked her mom.
"Japan, but apparently your Aunt Karen says he talks with a British accent. How odd is that? She says he is really quiet though and seems kind of sad," mom replied, "She should be here to get you soon."
"I know, I'm done," Anna replied throwing in her toiletries and brushing a loose strand of hair behind her ear. A car honked outside and Anna hugged her mom before taking off with her bags.
"Hi, Auntie Karen, how was work?" Anna said wrapping her arms around her Aunt who was dressed in a nice suit. She had just gotten off work and swung by the house to pick up Anna. They would leave early in the morning so Anna stayed the night at their big house.
"Oh, I'm so thankful for vacation!" Aunt Karen said smiling and waving to Anna's mom before taking off. Anna smiled at her and the sat back watching the houses go by.
"So, Shin is a really good cook. He speaks English really well. I thought he would speak Japanese and I would be clueless. I tell them that I need the students to speak English, but the last one barely spoke any as you remember," Aunt Karen said.
"Raul mostly spoke Spanish, yes I remember," Anna replied.
"He's quiet, but he's your age. You might like him," Aunt Karen said as she pulled onto the road that went into the hills towards her house.
"Yeah? Do you think he likes water?" Anna asked.
"I hope so. I'm not sure he knows what water skiing is though," Aunt Karen said with a shrug, "He seems kind of out of it. They told me his father died about a year ago, so maybe that's why he's so sad."
"Really? Wow, that would be pretty sad. Is he tall?" Anna asked, "I know it probably sounds racist but a lot of the Asians I know are shorter than me."
"Well he's not six feet but he's taller than you," Aunt Karen said with a shrug. We pulled up to the house and Aunt Karen parked in the garage. They got out and walked inside where Uncle Don had been fixing the down stairs sink in the bathroom.
"Hi, Uncle Don, how's it going?" Anna asked leaning down to see him.
"Good, hand me that wrench there," Uncle Don asked. Anna smiled and put the wrench in his palm before taking her bags up stairs to her usual room. She patted a cat on the head as she passed. She made her way to the kitchen where a guy wore Aunt Karen's frilly pink apron. Anna couldn't help but let out a laugh.
"Oh, hullo," the guy said looking at her curiously.
"Hi, I'm Anna," she said holding her hand out to him. He smiled shyly and took her hand. He looked into her brown eyes and kissed the back of her hand. Anna smiled. She was surprised that he didn't look Japanese. He had short reddish brown hair and blue-green eyes.
"What are you doing here, Anna?" Shin asked.
"I'm Karen and Don's niece," Anna replied, "I'm going water skiing with you."
"Oh, I didn't realize it was a family trip," Shin said turning back to his cooking.
"No, it's just us for the full two weeks. Anyone else comes and goes. I just love to water ski so I go the full time," Anna said smiling.
"So, you've done that before. Is it like surfing? I'm a bit confused," Shin asked.
"No, you ski behind a boat. It's really fun. If you like to surf you'll probably like to ski," Anna replied, "You do like to surf, right?"
"Oh, yes. I do enjoy a good day at the beach," Shin said dishing up the dinner he made.
"Oh, it's not quite a beach. It's the delta so it's like alleys of water. Perfect for smooth water if no one else is out," Anna said sitting at the table.
"You want the water smooth?" Shin asked.
"Oh yeah, you get up on the ski's and the water is smooth like glass. It's nice to glide across the water when it isn't choppy," Anna replied, "If you don't like the ski's we could always ride on the tubes. It's more fun when there are two people and we could try to knock each other off. That's better when the water's choppy."
Shin laughed, "I don't know. That sounds a bit rough."
"It's fun though. Don't knock it till you try it," Anna said laughing. She just met Shin and she liked him already. It seemed like he could be fun and not as stuffy as some of the other exchange students had been. They sat down to eat dinner and Anna was surprised that Shin was really a good cook. They talked about their different cultures and what the teenagers liked to do in Japan. Anna enjoyed talking to him but could still see sadness in his eyes as he talked about his home.
The week passed quickly with Shin learning to water ski and having a good time with Anna. The more she got to know Shin the more she liked him. They had a blast knocking each other off the tubes. Anna was amazed at his physique. Who has a body like that at fifteen? He must do a lot of work at his home in Japan. She almost wondered if he made up the whole friend thing. He said he had four best friends, but how can he when he is so busy working at the pottery place of his moms. The pots must be heavy and that's how he has such a great physique. He did mention a lake by his house, maybe he swam in his spare time.
After a long day of being on the water Anna had been sitting on a chair reading a good story, while Shin sat close by just looking at the breeze blowing the branches of the trees. This was a usual for them in the afternoons. Sometimes they played board games or card games, but Anna loved to read and Shin didn't mind the peace and quiet. Anna put the book down and stood up. Shin turned to look at her. She walked past him and told her Aunt she was going for a walk. She made her way over to the docks. Walking along the water she watched the sun drop low and squinted as the water sparkled from it. She stopped but still heard footsteps. Anna jumped and turned to find Shin with his hands in his pockets right behind her. He was so quiet she hadn't even noticed that he chose to join her. He looked up at her and froze.
"Hey," Anna said smiling. He nodded and looked back out to the water with his sad eyes. Anna sighed and watched him a moment. She knew there was something bothering him, but he didn't seem to want to share the burden. Anna smiled and took his face in her hands. She leaned up and kissed him. It was her first kiss, and so very sweet. She felt her whole body come alive with the brief contact.
"What was that about?" Shin asked blinking at her. Anna shrugged and turned away.
"Wait, Anna. What was that for?" Shin asked, "You shouldn't fall for me. I'm the worst possible guy for anyone to fall for. You could seriously get physically hurt with me."
Anna laughed, "I don't believe it. You'd never hurt a girl."
"No, I won't but… but I have a special armor that well, people are after, bad people. They don't care who they use to hurt us," Shin replied looking down.
"It was just a kiss, Shin. You act like the world is going to end any minute now, so I thought that you should make the most of today if you don't feel like there is a tomorrow. Enjoy what you have while you have it," Anna said, "So, who's us?"
"My-my best friends and I, we all have armor, please don't tell anyone," Shin said running a hand through his wild hair and sitting down on the dock.
"I won't say anything. Don't worry," Anna said wrapping her arms around him. Shin put his hand on her arm and told her his whole life story, about how he found the orb, how his father died, and his recent fight against the Dynasty. They sat like that for hours, just looking over the water.
"So, that's why I'm sad. I don't want to fight, but I don't want to force it on anyone else," Shin said leaning into her.
"That's why you should be happy, because you're not fighting right now. Yes, you may have to fight again, but worrying about whether it will or will not happen isn't going to make it any easier. Live for today, Shin. Live for the moments like these where you can relax and be yourself. Fight for your friends and family, the ones you love. You need to let it go, and enjoy when you don't have to fight, but never stop fighting," Anna said kissing his shoulder, "If you stop there will be no end to the torture your friends and family will go through."
Shin nodded and Anna held him close, breathing in the smell of his soap.
Anna woke to the sun streaming through her blinds. She hadn't dreamt about Shin in a long time. Why did she start now? Was her mind trying to remind her of something? Was he in trouble? When did she last write him? It was years ago that she gave up sending him letters. He must need me, she thought. Anna got up and blew the dust off a box that was on her shelf. She opened the box and shifted through the letters. She found a picture of her and Shin and smiled. Running a finger along him in the photo she pulled out some paper and started writing to him.