Tales of Liutana II

At the Beginning...

'The heart knows when it's found its soul mate, son. The first time I saw your mother's face, my heart pounded inside my chest, and everything but her ceased to exist…'

Liu Kang gazed over to the woman walking beside him and wondered if he was experiencing that feeling his father used to always talk about when he was a boy.

He had only known her all of three weeks, yet already he felt a profound attraction to her; an attraction that he partially chastised himself for developing. He was only declared Earthrealm's Champion two months ago, a heavy responsibility that required all of his focus and absolutely no distractions. And here he was already falling for a woman, a woman that had only recently departed from the enemy's side no less! What in the Elder God's name was he thinking? But every time he looked at her, every time those somber, expressive blue eyes she had met his, he was intrigued, captivated.

He observed her surreptitiously as she gazed over the scenery around them. She was dressed differently now than when he first met her. She had shed the tight and rather revealing leotard of cobalt, as well as the matching gloves, boots, headband and mask. Liu was especially grateful of the omission of the latter, as he rather liked being able to see her lovely face uncovered. She now wore a long-sleeved tunic of deep navy trimmed with black, tied off with a black sash, with long pants of the same blue tucked into black boots. Her deep brunette hair, normally loose, was pulled back into a tight, slick plait that hung halfway down her back, a few stubborn strands hanging in attractive little wisps that framed her heart-shaped face. She looked more demure this way, more relaxed, yet still equally as stunning in his mind.

'Say something, you oaf,' Liu mentally grumbled.

For the past few minutes he had been silently struggling to start a casual conversation. When they had first met, during the Emperor's tournament, it was she who did most of the talking. She sought out his assistance in defeating her stepfather, told him of her family and realm's fate at his evil hand, and confided her worries about her treachery being discovered as well as fear of being unable to complete the daunting task she set out to accomplish. Liu mostly just listened, sympathetic to her cause and genuinely feeling compelled to help in any way he could. He encouraged her, tried to uplift her, and at times make her smile. Before they escaped, he did a pretty good job of it, but he was merely giving his feedback of the things she told him. Now the problem was solved, and they were safely in Earthrealm. It had been nine days since they arrived.

Now what?

Unbeknownst to him, she herself was having trouble approaching a subject for conversation. Liu had aroused feelings inside of her she had never felt before, not even once in her thousands of years. Something about how selfless he was, how he was willing to trust her, and seemed to genuinely care for her ignited some strange, fluttering sensation in the pit of her stomach. Whenever he flashed his bright smile or those warm eyes settled on her, the feeling would spread from her head to her feet, flushing her cheeks and making her heart beat just a little bit faster than normal. She was not sure what to make of the feeling, and initially she thought it ridiculous, but now she was growing to like it; wanted to see where it would go, how it could flourish and change.

"Earthrealm is beautiful." Kitana finally managed to say. "And the Wu Shi Academy seems to be a peaceful place."

Finally, there was something.

Liu shrugged. "Earth isn't as perfect as it appears, and sometimes it can be a little too peaceful around here." he said casually.

"Is that another reason why you left for… where is it, America?" Kitana inquired.

"That was definitely a factor." Liu confirmed. "I genuinely wanted to see more of the world. I still do, if I ever have the time again."

"Maybe you will someday… if things remain calm." Kitana mused in rare optimism.

Another gap of silence fell, but it was far more relaxed this time. They walked side by side along the fortified wall enclosing the academy grounds, surrounded by tall, thick stocks of green bamboo composing the forest. Eventually they came to a bridge where a tall, cascading waterfall emptied into a flowing river below them. Kitana, having never seen so much fresh water in one place, approached the stone barrier and leaned over against it. The waterfall was close enough for her to reach out and feel a few trickles of cold water against her fingertips, and she did just that.

"Beautiful…" she said with quiet awe.

Liu smiled at the sight of her this way, all starry-eyed and full of almost childlike fascination. Kitana was very guarded: Even in the moments she confided him, she carefully kept her mask, both physical and emotional, in place. Every once in a while she would smile and her eyes would gleam with subdued, but true joy when he tried to lift her spirits, but those moments were always fleeting. Now that they were away from Outworld, away from the risk of them being caught, she was slowly letting her true nature show. Feelings that she kept a tight lid on were beginning to reveal themselves, and Liu felt privileged to be the one she revealed them to. He went and leaned over beside her.

Kitana gazed at her rippling reflection in the clear stream below, her smile fading as her thoughts turned brooding. She gave a sigh.

"I wonder what I will do now." she murmured quietly. "For so long now, I've envisioned ending Kahn as my most important objective. But I've begun to realize that I still have so much more work to do if I am to liberate my homeland."

"You'll find a way…" Liu said. "I'm sure that there are others who share your visions, other Edenians who wish to see their home restored."

Kitana scoffed. "I doubt they will trust the Emperor's 'daughter,' even if she is their princess. And I do not blame them."

"If anyone has enough determination to win their trust… it's you." Liu said. Kitana gazed at him questioningly. "I hope I'm not sounding too presumptuous, but from what I've seen thus far… you are a very brave and determined woman. I told you before myself that I'm not sure if I could ever take the risks you are taking." A small smile curled at Kitana's rosy lips, and she shook her head incredulously.

"What is it about you?" she asked him. "What is it about you that makes me feel so… assured? I don't know why Liu, but, something in me is drawn to you." Her eyes widened briefly, shocking herself by her easy admission of her budding feelings, and she quickly averted her gaze when her cheeks grew warm.

Liu himself was surprised and flattered by Kitana's openness, a slight blush coming to his face as well. He too, turned his eyes back to the water, but not before inching a bit closer to her: So close, their shoulders were but a hair's breadth from touching.

"I ask myself the same question about you…" he muttered, keeping his gaze on his hands. Kitana said nothing, glancing over to him briefly with a nervous smile; which he missed for his own shyness.

He was surprised again when Kitana closed the space between their shoulders. Neither dared to look at each other, and neither said a word.

Two mornings later, Kitana decided she had hidden away long enough. It was time for her to return to Outworld and begin her arduous ordeal to revive Edenia. She awoke that morning and dressed back into her battle attire, draping a cloak over herself and tossing the small satchel she brought with her onto her shoulder. Liu met her again that day to escort her, inwardly a bit saddened to see her leave. But she had her own life, her own objectives, and he had his. Besides, he had an inkling that he would be seeing her again fairly soon.

They went into the mountains behind the temple, and Kitana opened a portal. Liu watched as the spark she shot from her outstretched palm opened into a spiraling, crackling wormhole; feeling its pull tugging at the loose ends of his clothes. Kitana turned to him then, pulling down her mask to reveal her solemn smile.

"I cannot thank you enough for everything you have done for me. No words can express my gratitude." she said. Liu gave her the customary bow.

"It was an honor to help you." he said. His gaze softened, and he said, more personally, "Be safe, and at peace Kitana. I wish you the best of luck.

Kitana's heart throbbed. "Thank you. You too."

The two locked gazes for a moment, both reluctant to turn about and go on their way. Eventually Kitana found the strength to take a small step towards the vortex, and Liu took his own back onto the path. Giving a final smile and small wave, he began to turn.

"Liu wait!" Kitana called. He stopped immediately and turned back, and she ran the few paces until she stood directly in front of him, gazing intently up into his eyes.

"C-Can I ask one more thing of you?" she tentatively asked.

Liu nodded. "If it's within my power, I'll see it done." Kitana took another step, putting them even closer together. Both of them blushed from it. They were close enough to kiss, if either had the bravado…

"Just… promise me one thing." Kitana began quietly. "Promise me, no matter what battles you may face… whatever pain you must endure in your coming battles, do not let your struggles stomp the goodness out of you. You… you are easily the most selfless, caring person I have met, in all of my life, and I believe you are too good for the grim responsibility you hold." She paused, pulling her lips inward somewhat nervously.

"If things ever go badly, and I hate to tell you that they likely will, please… do not let the weight of it all destroy that goodness in your heart."

Liu was truly touched. She really felt that he was the kindest person she'd ever met? Even with how long she has lived? And she cared about him enough to want him to hold onto his kindness. In that moment, Liu felt his feelings for her deepen so much further. He smiled, giving her a determined nod.

"I will. I promise you… I will not allow that part of myself to cease to exist." he said with surety. Kitana returned his smile.

Suddenly she leaned up on her toes and pressed a kiss to his cheek, and his heart skipped a beat.

Without another word, Kitana pulled her mask back up over her face and raised the hood of her cloak. She turned on a heel and headed through the portal she created, and it shrunk away immediately when she crossed through.

For a while Liu stood there frozen, his thoughts swirling in a heady and completely smitten haze. Eventually he slowly turned and made his way back down the pathway in a love-struck kind of stupor; a dopey, lopsided grin on his face. When eventually crossed through the Temple's outer gate, Kung Lao was waiting casually for him. Immediately upon seeing the peculiar look on his friend's face, the hat-wielder cocked an eyebrow.

"Did Kitana make it through safely?" he inquired as Liu nearly strolled right past him.

"Mmh? Oh, yes, yes…" the Champion replied distractedly before continuing on. Kung's eyebrows screwed together in confusion as he watched Liu head on his way, noticing the way he seemed to float as he walked. He rolled his eyes, shaking his head.

"I wonder how the Elders would react when they find Liu has a girlfriend?" he muttered to himself.

Folding his arms casually behind his back, Kung chuckled nefariously as he headed to his own destination, scheming to tease Liu relentlessly about it later…

Okay, so that wasn't the big raunchy lemon I said I'd post, but I had a change of heart and decided to post something sweeter. I found myself listening to this song randomly, and in a very fangirlish fashion, I sort of thought of these two and how I portray their story when i heard it. Few minutes later, this chapter was born. Hope you guys like it.

And that lemon hasn't been cast off into oblivion, you'll be seeing it as it's own oneshot (so calm down, fellow pervs ;P).

So, yeah... the end of Tales of Liutana II. Will there be a part III? Maybe, but not for a while. First priority now is Peace Millennium II, but I also will soon be posting a new, short story about the origin of Jade and Kitana's friendship. After that's all done, who knows!

Thank all of you who have been reading my work, even if you don't review or follow or whatever. I appreciate all of the feedback from all of those who do. Well, see ya round folks!