August 1985- New York City

"It's on our lease- you're not supposed to smoke in here."

"Yeah… well, if we lose the security deposit, Heihachi can cover it," Lee replied with a shrug, taking another drag of his menthol cigarette.

"Aye- so that's how it's going to be? When things go wrong, your Dad can cover it?" Nina teased with a sardonic smile.

"Fuck you- he's not my Dad," Lee replied, snuffing out his half smoked cigarette in an ashtray he had stolen from a high-end Tokyo hotel.

"Sorry. I can't help but think of him as your Dad. I know you don't call him that, but I remember watching Disney movies at your home theater and your Da- Heihachi making us Jiffy Pop, so yeah, sorry."

Lee sighed as brushed his left hand through his silver hair. Lee had known Nina Williams since Heihachi had adopted him at the age of twelve. The Williams girls had only been seven and at the time hadn't been very interesting to Lee or Kazuya- on any level. However, Richard Williams had been one of Heihachi's business associates, so Lee and Kazuya had been instructed to play nice with the Williams girls. Initially, that had meant watching stupid movies and babysitting, but gradually it came to mean teaching the girls to play pool, midnight joy rides, and skinny dipping. More recently, it had translated into something of an on-again, off-again relationship between Kazuya and Anna and a close friendship between Lee and Nina. So when Lee decided he needed space- an ocean and continent's worth of space- he had asked Nina if she wanted to come to New York with him. Nina had agreed without a moment's hesitation. That made him a little nervous that she might be expecting their relationship to change. He was concerned that broaching the topic with her might make things more difficult, so he didn't say anything. He knew that eventually they'd have to talk about it, but he wasn't looking forward to the conversation.

"I was just teasing; I'm sorry- don't be mad, okay?" Nina asked, now giving Lee a genuine smile.

"I'm not mad. I just don't want to talk about him, okay?"

"That's fine," Nina replied, deciding not to point out that Lee had brought him up in the first place.

"So, cool. So, do you want some tea? What do you want to do tonight?" Lee asked.

"Tea would be great… uh, anything would be fine tonight- we can't be out too late, though. I have that hostess job interview tomorrow."

"That's right. Yeah. The thing that the agency found for me starts on Monday. I keep forgetting you have stuff before that," Lee replied moving towards the stove to start working on the tea.

"That's okay. It's barely worth remembering," Nina murmured, taking two mugs from the dish drainer.

"Don't get down on it. It's good. I'm proud of you."

Nina smiled.

"We don't have to go out tonight. We can stay in. I can cook something," Lee offered, tying the tea bags to the handles of the cups as he always did.

"Is that a threat, Chaolan?"

"Ah, fuck you. I make a lot of things well."

"Aye, but the last time you tried to feed me squid."

"It was good. You didn't even try it."

"Aye, and I won't be trying it when you cook up a nice batch of cat, either."

"Bitch, I'll make the best cat chow-mein you ever tasted!"

Nina made a gagging noise in response.

"Not really. I'll make my famous stir-fried choy sum."

"Whysit famous?"

"Because people liked it," Lee replied, pouring water from the kettle into the mugs.

Nina wanted to know which "people"; his family or any girls he may have dated, but she didn't dare ask.

"What type of meat is in it?"

"There isn't any. I suppose I could do some chicken or something if-"

"No, that's great. I'll take it the way it is. After all, you are famous for it."

"Cool. That's what we'll do then." Lee replied, smiling as he sat down on the loveseat in the living room with his tea.

"Cool," Nina agreed, opening the refrigerator for milk to put in her tea. Sure enough it was all very nice, but what did it all mean?