The Stone Lotus--Document ver. 2.0
~Disclaimer: Tekken is Namco's. Yessiree, it is.~
~Author's notes: Yep, I still hate Xiaoyu.~
The Stone Lotus
There wasn't a cloud in the sky that afternoon as they all stood together in the cemetery. Obnoxious sunlight that made the day worse than it already was bounced off of the brightly polished casket, and the still, dry air made it nearly unbearable to stand and breath outside. But they all waited for the sermon to end and for the wooden coffin to be placed in the ground.
Lei Wulong stood quietly near the back the large ensemble of people at the funeral, his hands shoved deep into the pockets of his trousers. He wore a pair of black Lennon sunglasses to keep the glare down from the fierce sun that day, and despite how warm it was, he still had his black blazer on. Occasionally, as he listened to the reverend, he wiped the sweat off his brow.
He felt out of place there, as he scanned the crowd of people. He recognized Heihachi Mishima, who stood rigidly and silently. The elderly man's face was stony, though Lei could tell that the old man was trying to keep from breaking down.
How ironic, the detective thought wearily to himself of Heihachi. There were others there that he had only made acquaintances with for a short while, such as the little half-Korean con artist that had insisted that Lei call him by only "Hwoarang", his usually long red-dyed hair was cut and trimmed neatly, and he was in military dress clothes. The boy had his hand on the shoulder of a teenaged girl about the same age as him, who stood in front, long brown hair pulled back out of her face with barrettes. She had come in a white tailored dress suit, unlike everyone else there clad in black. However, her rigid face showed that she was probably the only person that really belonged there, aside from Heihachi. Around her neck was a chain with a gold coin and a ring.
Lei recognized the ring as Jun Kazama's.
The monotonous voice of the reverend finally lifted and punctuated the sermon with an "Amen", which was echoed through mumbles from everyone there. Lei quietly murmured the same thing under his breath, troubled as he watched the grey gilded casket slowly lowered into the ground He had never been a believer in God, and he doubt he ever would be. Yet as he watched the elderly Mishima stiffen as the coffin descended into the ground, Lei couldn't help but wonder.
They were sitting in a small cafe that humid afternoon, still not quite to where they were going. She had a cup of coffee, and he a full meal of a sandwich, fries, and a soda. He ate quietly and quickly and said little aside from commenting about the unpleasantly warm and sticky weather that day, and she nodded whenever he spoke, though she wasn't listening. Hwoarang knew that, however, yet was still bothered by the girl's silence. Julia Chang had once been a rather cheerful person, outgoing and talkative. However, those days it was nearly impossible to tell. He really couldn't blame her, though. As she sat with her companion, she kept pushing up her tortes shell glasses.
"Can you believe," the young man finally began once more, changing the subject of the conversation he was having with himself, "that it's been a couple of years since either of us have been home?"
Julia took another sip of her coffee, "Hm?"
"Think about it," he sighed as he leaned back in his seat, his gaze still fixated at the young woman before him. "I've been away in the service, and you've been at school."
"I go home sometimes, though," she replied, shaking her head.
"What? For like a week at Christmas, or am I mistaken?"
"Do I need to remind you who's doing the driving, Robert?" Julia narrowed her eyes at her companion, and Hwoarang cracked a small grin at her, glad that she was finally talking back to him, even if it was out of irritation. The young man glanced over his shoulder at the exit when he heard the door open with a jingle; a man entered and trudged through the place looking for a booth to sit in as his two small children clung to him and whined. Hwoarang smiled to himself then turned back to Julia.
She frowned, "And what are you grinning about?"
"Just thinking about how'll nice it'll be to see everyone again. You know, Babydoll and Eddy and Forrest--"
"--Forrest is still in Brisbane," she said flatly. The young man sitting before her lifted a brow and sighed heavily.
"That's too bad... I was really looking forward to tormenting him for a month or two."
"I don't think he's ever coming back, Rang."
"Oh?" Hwoarang straightened back in his seat and frowned. "And why is that?"
Julia shrugged, "I guess he and his dad still aren't seeing eye to eye..."
"He hasn't told his dad yet, has he?"
Julia grinned weakly, "Yeah, then there's that."
Hwoarang shrugged, "I guess, there's no reason to talk about that anymore." He sighed heavily and leaned back. "So, what's left?"
"Nothing. We get our check and start driving back to Dreyfus."
"Man, you're more in a hurry than I am to get back."
Julia shook her head, "It's not that. I just want to get to town before it's dark." Hwoarang nodded in agreement and picked up his soda for one last drink. His face darkened over as he gazed intently at the woman in front of him.
Of course, there were other things he wanted desperately to discuss with Julia, mainly about where their relationship was going, if anywhere. Though, he decided then as he drank his the last of his soda that he was always going to be secondary to her. That was something that hadn't changed since the day he had met her, despite how close they had become over the past couple of years. However, ever since the funeral, the taboo that had always been between them had heightened, and Hwoarang again found himself wondering exactly how long he was going to have to still be in the shadow of Jin Kazama. That was a name that Hwoarang never mentioned anymore around her, out of both respect and jealousy.
He finished his drink then glanced over at the door again.
"Are you ready now?" Julia asked, pushing up her glasses.
"Yeah." She stood up and stretched, then pushed a lock of her dark hair out of the way of her specs. She then managed a small grin at the young man still sitting in front of her.
He looked different from he did back then, his light brown hair neatly trimmed in a crewcut and comparatively decent clothing, a white t-shirt and jeans instead of the bizarre leather and denim getups the young man paraded around in when he was younger. Hwoarang lifted a brow when he noticed the smile on Julia's face soften and warm. He smiled back.
"I don't have a prayer, do I?" he chuckled as he stood up and signaled for a waitress.
"You what?" Julia lifted a brow.
His grin grew, "Nothing."
The rest of the trip was silent aside from the whispers of the radio playing, barely audible over the engine of Julia's old Cadillac. Hwoarang kept his head turned to his window and watched the dull, flat scenery. Brown grass from the drought that summer was all that led the way to town, aside from the weathered road signs with the lettering flaking off. Hwoarang smiled to himself as he saw the city limits finally come into view, and he glanced over at Julia finally.
Her face was placid, yet there were tears rolling down her cheeks. She brought a hand up to hastily wipe them away, as she had been the entire time they had been in the car. Hwoarang shifted in his seat and faced her.
"You know," he started quietly as he reached over and turned off the radio, "we could always turn back. It wouldn't bother me at all. It's not like I have family or anything--"
"--I do, though." She sniffed once, keeping her gaze forward at the road. "I promised my mother I'd visit her. She's expecting both of us."
He shrugged, "Okay, I was just suggesting it." He looked forward as well and sighed heavily.
"Thank you for being concerned, Rang, but I'm fine." Hwoarang frowned at that response and slumped back in his seat and started watching the world speed by again. A green sign whizzed by, marking where the Dreyfus city limits began, and one bye one, buildings appeared. Julia's driving slowed. Old mom-and-pop shops and bars seemed to be all that were there, until finally they were immersed in with newer buildings and the shopping district. The only building that seemed out of place was the abandoned remains of the Louisville Bar, which had closed down before Julia and Hwoarang had even been born.
Hwoarang grinned when the old parking lot came into view; it was overgrown with dying, brown foliage. The building itself was boarded shut, with old planks of grey, rotting wood that had been there for two decades over the busted out windows. There was even still broken glass scattered around the abandon tavern. It gave the building the appearance of an abused woman. Hollow, sad, purposely forgotten.
"They need to pave that thing over or build something there," Julia mumbled under her breath as she sped past the lot. Hwoarang straightened up, chuckled a bit, and glanced over at his companion.
"Nawh, I have fond memories of that place," he mused, his grin growing.
"You're an asshole. You know that?"
He frowned and looked forward, "You can't tell me you didn't enjoy that night." There was no response from the girl at Hwoarang's rather calloused remark. His frown deepened at the silence. "Fine, sorry. I shouldn't have mentioned it."
"No, you shouldn't have."
"I said I was sorry."
Hwoarang opted to kept quiet until they reached their destination at that point, and soon they rode through a residential area. By then, the sun had started to set, casting a warm red glow over everything, and the sky had erupted into bright fiery hues. As they drove past the houses, the reflections of the sun danced and floated from window to window.
Julia turned a corner and headed down a cul-de-sac to the large grey house that crowned the little circle of homes. Hwoarang straightened up in his seat when he saw that they were finally at Julia's.
He noted that the windows of the home were darkened, unusual for the Chang household at this time of day, when the car pulled up into the driveway. The young man then sighed heavily as Julia turned off the car.
"Jules?" he began softly.
"I really am sorry. I had no right to say what I did."
She chuckled a bit and shook her head, yet gave no real response to Hwoarang. Instead, she opened her door and got out. Reluctantly, he did the same, and Hwoarang followed his companion up to the house and inside.
As expected, her mother wasn't home, and as Julia made her way through the dark house, she flipped on lights . Hwoarang followed quietly, his hands shoved in his pockets as he sulked along, much like a leashed dog. The last stop was Julia's bedroom, and the girl sighed heavily before turning on the lights.
It was like any typical teenaged girl's room, clean, overly effeminate with white and pastel pinks decorating everything in there. Julia made a face at her bed, which was covered in particularly frilly pink bedding, yet she flopped down on it. She sat up and gestured to Hwoarang to do the same. He obeyed quietly and sat cautiously next to the girl. He looked towards the white dresser.
The mirror was covered with photos, and he saw himself in a few of them, to which in every picture he was sneering and flipping off the camera. Most of the other pictures were of Julia with Jin. Hwoarang's frown deepened as he looked over the photos.
Julia looked over at the mirror as well, "I need to take down some of those."
"They're nice pictures." He laid back on the bed and stared up at the ceiling. "I like the one of shirtless Jin."
"Ha ha, Rang." Julia turned and stretched out beside the older boy.
He closed his eyes and murmured, "I wish you'd really laugh again."
"What is that supposed mean?" She nudged him.
He didn't reply.