The crowd was forming in the main hall. A main hall so similar to the previous one they had occupied. It was another castle. No, mansion. It was located in another town. A town far from the other one, the designs so different on the outside. The other difference was seeing the decreasing numbers of members greeting their leaders. All three were still present though there were some apparent signs of injuries on them. Some of the members were also injured. Everyone was taking care of their wounds at the moment while waiting for further instructions. The ones not present were the seven whom set out last–with the exception of Sharon who was actually by her father’s side at the moment. Some guards were stationed by the door to inform them of possible changes.
The first to arrive were Jiro and Cyndi.
“Cyndi!” Mr. Wang called out.
Cyndi rushed to him and they hugged happily, glad of the reunion. Mr. Wang inspected his daughter for possible signs of injury.
“I’m all right,” Cyndi informed her father.
It was then that Mr. Wang turned to Jiro. “Thank you, Jiro.”
“It’s my job, sir,” Jiro returned.
“You can go rest,” Mr. Hsiao said, stepping over to their group.
Jiro nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Cyndi watched Jiro’s back disappearing down the hall. Then she turned to her father. “Where are the others?”
“You two were the first to return,” Mr. Wang said. “Are you sure you’re all right?”
Cyndi nodded. “Jiro was so awesome! He didn’t even get injured.”
“He’s your uncle’s best man. Of course, he wouldn’t be beaten as easily.”
Cyndi turned to stare at the spot where Jiro had disappeared a minute ago. She wanted to say more about him, but it was impossible because she never had a chance to engage in a conversation with him properly.
Mr. Wang guided her to a room to the left. “You must be hungry, let’s get you some food.”
“I want to wait for the others.”
“No one knows what happened. You have to eat something first. Then we can all wait for them.”
Cyndi could see her father’s concerned look. She nodded, obeying his commands.
While Cyndi was eating her soup in the kitchen, she heard some commotion in the hallway. She looked past the door to see some rushing down the hall. She got up from her seat and ran toward the front door also.
“Hey, everyone,” Chun greeted them cheerfully. Too cheerful–even for Chun. “I made it.”
“It looks like you’re not that welcome,” Angela teased him. She was still gripping onto his arm.
“You’re the one not being welcomed,” He shot back. Then he spotted Mr. Hsiao. “Boss.”
“You all right?” Mr. Hsiao asked. He eyed Angela. “Who is this girl?”
It was then that Cyndi and Sharon joined them.
“While we were dodging bullets, you were out with some girl?” Sharon interrogated.
“I’m not some girl,” Angela snapped at her.
“Uh…that’s the boss’ daughter,” Chun whispered to her.
Chun turned to Mr. Hsiao. “Sorry, sir, but she saved me, so I had to take her along or the others would’ve…”
Mr. Hsiao put a hand up to stop him. “Say no more. We can take anyone who had saved one of us in.”
“That wasn’t hard,” Angela commented.
“You’re not scared of us?” Mr. Hsiao asked curiously.
Angela shrugged. “Unless you plan to save me for food supply.”
Mr. Hsiao let out a chuckle. “I like this girl.”
“Are you sure you guys are in a gang?”
“You don’t know half of it, Miss.”
“Just call me Angela.”
“All right, Angela.” He paused–as if needing to collect his thoughts. “I’ll have one of them prepare a room for you.”
Angela raised a hand up to stop him. “No need, I’ll stick with him.” She meant Chun.
“Not that way,” Angela clarified. “I just want to make sure he gets proper rest.”
“You just know him,” Sharon jumped in. “Why would you care so much?”
“Unless you’re his girlfriend, you shouldn’t care what we do.” Angela turned to Mr. Hsiao. “Sorry, but your daughter is sort of spoiled.”
“It’s a harmless question!” Sharon protested.
Angela rolled her eyes. “Sure.”
“Sharon,” Mr. Hsiao called out in a warning tone.
“She’s the rude one,” Sharon said, her tone reflecting apparent protest–still.
“She saved Chun.” He turned to Angela. “You two can go rest.”
Angela nodded and led Chun down the long hallway.
Sharon was still fuming after they were gone. “I can’t believe something like this happen.”
“Don’t look at me,” Mr. Hsiao said. “Your father can’t predict the future.”
He left the scene, claiming he had to tend to the other members.
Sharon turned to Cyndi at that time. Cyndi was about to answer her, but they were interrupted with another set of commotion. Cyndi and Sharon headed toward the door, knowing it was their own people coming again.
“Make way, please,” Joanne yelled out. “This is not some road show.”
Cyndi smiled at the familiarity of the situation. “Our host is back.”
Mr. Tseng zoomed past them at that time. “Qiao Qiao!”
“Ba!” Joanne called out happily. She had let go of Calvin’s arm and was hugging her father. But she soon pulled away. “I have to tend to his wound first.”
Mr. Tseng took it into his hands to call someone over.
“I can do it,” Joanne said, taking the first aid kit box from a guard. Then she remembered something. She scanned the crowd. “Ba, where’s Jacky ge?”
“He’s not back yet,” Mr. Tseng replied. “I thought he was supposed to be with you.”
Joanne shook her head. “We were separated.”
“He stayed behind,” Calvin spoke up.
“He could take care of himself,” Mr. Tseng said.
“We have to go look for him later then,” Joanne said, her voice indicating that it was final.
“No, we won’t. It’s his job to look after you. Not the other way around.”
“Ba! How could you say that? He’s like my brother. We can’t leave him behind like that.”
“He knows where we are.”
“What if he can’t make it for some reason?”
“Qiao Qiao,” Cyndi interfered. “Go take care of his wound first.”
“And you need to go back inside and eat, young lady,” Mr. Wang said behind them.
Cyndi turned to her father, saluting. “Yes, sir.”
Joanne knew Cyndi was right. She led Calvin to a corner of the living room and tended to his wound again. This time, properly.
“I’ll help you look for him later,” Calvin volunteered while Joanne was putting some ointment on his wound.
“What about following orders?”
“I’ll face the consequences later then.”
“Brave, aren’t we?”
Joanne knew she went overboard. It wasn’t right taking it out on Calvin. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay. I know you’re upset.”
They stayed quiet after that. Even after Joanne was done with her task and wrapped a clean cloth around his wound. He did not mind staying by her side, waiting.
“Someone’s coming!” Sharon yelled out from the main hall.
Joanne jumped up from her seat and advanced in that direction. Calvin followed closely–though it was unnecessary since they were more than safe at this moment.
“Jacky ge!” Joanne exclaimed, stepping forward to give him a hug.
Jacky smiled, hugging her back. His wound was hurting from the pressure she applied but he did not mind. He never minded. “I’m glad you’re safe too.”
Joanne finally let go. “You didn’t even get a scratch! You’re awesome!”
“Not quite.” Jacky knew he could not take credit for it.
“Who is this?” Joanne had noticed Sophia behind Jacky.
“She saved me.” He did not know any other way to put it.
Joanne smiled and hugged Sophia also.
“Nice to meet you too,” Sophia said, her excitement matching Joanne’s.
Joanne let go of Sophia and took a step back. “Thanks for helping him.”
“I didn’t mean to but I didn’t have a choice.”
“Close that door, will you?” Sharon scolded someone at the door. Her hostility apparent.
“Jacky,” Mr. Tseng called out. He had joined them again after having returned to the kitchen with Mr. Wang.
Mr. Tseng knew what Jacky meant, not letting him finish. “Of course.”
“Why do we have to let other people in?” Sharon protested.
Joanne turned to Sharon. “What other people?”
Sharon rolled her eyes.
“She meant Chun’s girlfriend,” Cyndi answered. She had slipped away from the kitchen again.
“Chun has a girlfriend?” Joanne asked, surprised. “He’s almost too serious, like Jiro! Not that it’s bad.”
“You should’ve seen his playful attitude earlier.”
“I want to see.”
“Let him rest,” Mr. Tseng chided Joanne, knowing his daughter too well.
“What’s there to see anyway?” Sharon asked, crossing her arms in front of her.
“I’m guessing you can’t stand his girlfriend?” Joanne poked. She turned to Jacky and Sophia at that time. “I’ll take you guys to your room.”
Joanne turned to Calvin. “Let’s go, Calvin.”
Calvin seemed surprised that she still paid attention to him. He followed her and the others silently down the hall. Cyndi and Sharon tagged along.
“You want your gun back?” Joanne asked when they were out of the others’ earshot.
“What gun?” Sharon jumped in–though the question was meant for Jacky.
“Jacky ge gave it to me for protection, just in case,” Joanne answered.
Calvin knew she wanted to conceal the secret from the others.
“Keep it with you,” Jacky replied.
Just then, Joanne turned around to tug on Cyndi’s arm. “So, did you have fun with Jiro?”
Cyndi wrinkled her face.
Joanne turned to Calvin again, sharing a secret smile.
“I thought someone could get Jiro out of his shell,” Calvin joked. He was surprised at his own ability to joke, especially when they were back at headquarter already.
“I’m just glad we made it back safe,” Cyndi said. She was lying. Sort of.
“Who are you kidding?” Joanne said. “We all know you only ramble on when you’re anxious.”
She stopped at that time. “Jacky ge, you want that room?”
Jacky looked to where Joanne was pointing. Joanne stepped forward to flick the light on. The curtains were pulled back so they did not have to worry about being spotted.
“Spacious,” Sharon commented.
“You get your own bathroom,” Joanne informed Jacky.
“I’ll take it,” Jacky said.
“There’s an adjoining room next door. So you can check on him from time to time.” That was meant for Sophia–of course.
“Thanks,” Sophia said.
They continued down the hall after saying goodbye.
“I should go to my own room,” Calvin announced, hinting his own departure.
“I thought your room’s next to mine,” Joanne said, puzzled.
“I have to go back to the kitchen,” Cyndi said suddenly.
“I have to go find Dad,” Sharon said reluctantly.
“See you guys tomorrow,” Joanne said.
Cyndi and Sharon made their way back down the hall–each girl lost in her own thoughts. As Cyndi passed by Jiro’s room, she couldn’t help but stare at the door. There was still light seething through, meaning he was still awake. She wondered what he was doing at that very moment.
© Monday, January 3rd, 2011
Posted: Sunday, January 30th, 2011