Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day 2017!!!

Happy Valentine's Day 2017 Sakura and Syaoran by wishluv on DeviantArt

Happy Valentine's Day 2017! I drew this sketch last year, and wasn't going to color it but ended up doing so anyway. 

Music Spotlight: Ayaka Hirahara's "Not a Love Song"

I've raved about Ayaka Hirahara a lot on this blog. This song in particular has been on my playlist frequently over the past several months. Befitting for Valentine's Day, no? 

Highlight for spoilers from Chapter 73:

It had been her mother who first broke the news to her. Her father was dead. Li Ryuuren, the Chosen of the Li Clan, had died during a mission. He had just been 30 years old. Her father who wielded the jian better than anyone she knew, who had promised to teach her how to summon a dragon some day, her father who was rarely home but always brought home a little trinket for her from his travels. Her father who played the violin for her and her cousins in the parlor.

Her father would never come pat her on her head and smile down, with his brilliant blue eyes, the shade of the Hong Kong oceans on a sunny day. They said she had her father’s eyes, but hers were not as deep a blue as his were. He was never coming back anymore.

Fuutie learned the news of his death before her four younger siblings, because she was the eldest. Syaoran was only three, so he didn’t really understand what was going on. It was the first and last time she had seen her mother shed tears. Her younger sisters clung to her skirt, crying, asking where their father was. But she was the oldest. Even though she was only 10. Even though she was just a child herself. She had to be strong for their sake. She couldn’t show weakness. And she didn’t.

If only they didn’t hold the funeral, she could have pretended he was gone on another long mission, that he will come back home someday. But they held a wake and a long, grand funeral procession, befitting for the Chosen One of the Li Clan, and they buried an empty casket in the soil. She knew it was empty because Cousin Dairen said so—he had heard directly from his father, Elder Daifu. Where had he gone to, and why hadn’t he come back? How did he die? Nobody had any answers to these questions.

Fuutie did not go to school that day. She did not want to face the politely sympathetic teachers and classmates and try to pretend everything was okay. Instead, she took out a wad of cash she had saved up, packed extra food into her backpack, and ran away from home for the first time in her life. She took the subway on her own for the first time. And she went to the seaside. Her father sometimes wanted to get away from the chaos of the Li Clan, and he liked to come to this beach. Sometimes, he brought her along. Because she was special. She was his firstborn. But she would never have a getaway with him anymore. She kicked off her shoes and peeled off her knee socks so that she could feel the sand between her toes. She walked closer to the water, till she could feel the waves splatter against her toes. She walked deeper into the water, till it reached her calves, then her thighs, the waist. The water was icy cold, but she didn’t care. They sky was overcast and the water was a murky gray-blue.

“Father!” she cried out. “Father! Where are you?” Her voice echoed out across the vast ocean but there was no answer. “Don’t leave me! Daddy!” She didn’t realize how deep she had walked into the ocean, and the water reached nearly to her chin. The wave was coarser, and she nearly lost footing. Her school uniform was completely drenched. But she did not care—it was a relief to be out here, alone, away from her sobbing sisters, from her mother who had a permanent line down the center of her forehead, from Uncle Wutai who was smirking throughout the funeral, from Leiyun who looked as if the world had shattered, when it wasn’t even his father who had died. 

And she did not see him at first. A boy in a high school uniform had waded up into the ocean. All she knew was that a strong pair of arms grabbed her from behind her. And she struggled out of basic instinct. “Let me go!” she shrieked. “Let go of me.” She tried to kick him. But he wouldn’t let her go.

He shouted at her, gripping her tighter, “You can’t die! You stupid girl. You’re so young, and trying to do something this foolish. Do you know how precious life is? Treasure it more!”

She stopped struggling against his hold, and cranked her head to catch a glimpse of the idiot who thought she was trying to kill herself. He was tall, with shortly cropped wheat-colored hair, and an intimidating visage. She might have mistaken him for one of the local hooligans, but she recognized his uniform as that of a high school that some of her older cousins went to. And his eyes, under slanted brown browns, were a clear barley color, full of concern despite his course language. She was about to retort that she was not in the midst of attempting suicide, but the next wave was high, and would have engulfed her if she wasn’t lifted up over his shoulder, easily, with one arm, and dragged out of the ocean.

“What are you doing, you hooligan?” she demanded, pounding her fists into his back, her legs kicking out wildly.

He dumped her on the sand unceremoniously and said, “Good. Seeing from the power behind your punches, it seems you have plenty of fire left in you yet. That should be enough to keep you wanting to live on.”

With a scowl, Fuutie tried to strain the water from her pleated skirt and straightened her blouse. “I wasn’t trying to kill myself!”

“Then what were you doing in the middle of the ocean, with the water to you chin, with a storm brewing out there?” demanded the high school boy. He too was drenched from head to toe, and had not even bothered to take his shoes off.

“I was just trying to mourn in peace!” retorted Fuutie, glaring up at him.

“For whom, may I ask?” he asked, in a softer tone.

“My father,” said Fuutie.

“I see. Couldn’t you mourn on land?” His eyes were sympathetic—but not condescendingly so— and she found she didn’t mind sympathy from this person.

“I can’t cry in front of my younger siblings—I have to be strong. I promised Father I would take care of the family. Because I’m the oldest,” said Fuutie, her throat closing up. She was shivering now from the cold. “But the ocean doesn’t care if I cry. The ocean will not judge me. The waves cover up the sound.”

The older boy knelt down in front of her and wiped the tear streaming down her eyes with his bare hand. “I would lend you a handkerchief, but a hooligan like me doesn’t carry around handkerchiefs. And even if I did, it would be wet.”

“I’m not crying,” said Fuutie, sniffling, wishing the high schooler would just leave her alone.

He blinked those pale brown eyes and asked her solemnly. “So, what is saltier? The ocean or your tears?”

The ridiculousness of the question nearly made her laugh out loud. And the feisty young Fuutie replied, arms crossed, “Since we established I’m not going to kill myself, and never intended to in the first place, you can go along your way now.”

“I’ll take you back home.”

“No!” she exclaimed. “I’m not going back home.”

He heaved a long sigh. “Running away from home is not going to change anything. You said you have younger siblings, right?”

“Four of them—three sisters and a baby brother,” said Fuutie glumly.

“Wow, that’s a lot of them. I only have a younger sister and brother, and they’re a handful as is,” he said with a gentle smile. “Think how distraught your sisters and brother would be without you by their side.”

“I’m not going home today,” she repeated.

With a shrug, he said, “Well, I guess I’ll have to stay with you until you decide to go home then.”

“You don’t have to do that!” said Fuutie with a scowl. “I know how to take care of myself.”

“I don’t doubt that, if you’re the oldest of five,” he said. “But a storm’s coming, and the tide’s rising, and I can’t leave a kid out here alone. It’d be on my conscious.”

Fuutie glared up at the young man, who she figured was five or six years older than her at most. But he felt like an adult, more mature than her annoying cousin Dairen. He had broad shoulders and was extremely strong—she knew because he had flung her over his shoulder like she was a sack of potatoes. He was built like a fighter, just like her father. But he was also kind-hearted, for he could not leave a girl out in the storm alone. “Fine, I’ll go back home.”

“Where do you live?” he asked.

“Victoria’s Peak.”

“I thought you were a young miss,” he said with chuckle. “You’ve never run away from home before, have you?”

“Have you?” she asked curiously.

“Numerous times,” he replied. “Told you I’m a hooligan.”

“But you always returned home?”

“Of course.”


“Because I always remembered the crying faces of my baby brother and sister,” he said with a nostalgic smile. “And when I came back home, they would rush up to me with their small arms and hug me tightly with the brightest smiles. Eventually, I didn’t have the heart to runaway and make them sad anymore.”

“You don’t seem much like a hooligan,” she remarked.

He chuckled. “Well, kiddo, not all hooligans go around with the word hooligan written on their faces. That should be a lesson to learn early on.”

“I’m not a kid,” said Fuutie with a scowl.

“Then tell me your name,” he said.

“It’s Fuutie. Li Fuutie,” she replied.

“Not of the Li Clan up on Victoria’s Peak?” he asked slowly.

She nodded.

“Then the funeral of your father—your father was Li Ryuuren?”

“Yes,” she replied—it was a grand funeral procession, so it didn’t really surprise her that people knew about it.

“I see,” he said softly. “You went through a lot, kid.”

“Fuutie,” she repeated. “My name is Fuutie. What’s yours?”

He stared down at her and finally replied, “Zino.”

Zino took her to the foot of Victoria’s Peak, so that she could get on the tram up the hill but did not join her up. Fuutie was sure that nobody had even missed her yet, with the chaos of the funeral. But she was glad she did not have to disappoint her mother and siblings. True, she was sopping wet still, but she could blame it on the storm—for it had begun to rain, just as Zino had predicted. “Thank you, Zino,” she called out from the window of the tram, and he smiled and waved at her. His eyes were a pale yellow-brown, just like tiger’s eyes glowing in the dark.

She would always remember the day she bid her final farewell to her father at that ocean. That was the start of her first love.