The young blond boy observed his surroundings. It
was beautiful, and peaceful. The cherry blossoms were softly falling to
the ground. This was going to be his home now. His life, for him has already
been set out. He will continue his martial arts training. He will become
one of the best, and he will avenge his father's death. At that memory,
his hand gripped his suitcase tightly, his mind refusing to see a replay
of that tragic day. He didn't notice anyone walking up behind him until
he was addressed.
He turned around and saw a bald man wearing a ninja outfit, without the mask. He nodded, and gave a bow. "Now, now, there's no need for that formality. I am Hanzo Shiranui. Master Tung has said a lot about you..."
"Thank you for agreeing to help me Master Hanzo" Andy said as he looked at his new master.
Hanzo nodded and smiled grimly. "Master Tung told me of what happened to your father. I am deeply sorry" he said. He saw the young boy nod mutely, but did not fail to notice the deep anger in his eyes. "My own grandson... died just a few days ago..." Andy looked up to him, with sorrowful eyes. "So you see young one, I too know the pain of loosing someone. I know your desire for revenge, and I can not blame you. But, you can not let it rule your life, or anything that you will learn, will count as nothing."
"I..." Master Hanzo cut him off.
"That would be enough for tonight... come with me. I'll show you to your room. This is your home now" he said to him kindly as he helped Andy with his belongings.
It didn't take long for Andy to settle in. He was
quickly called for dinner. Master Hanzo, and his wife were already seated,
waiting for him. He quickly noticed that there was an empty space besides
him. Himiko, Hanzo's wife followed his gaze. He turned to one of the servants
and whispered something in her ear. The servant nodded, and left the room.
Himiko turned her gaze to Andy.
"Welcome to our home Andrew. I hope you enjoy your stay here," she said, smiling warmly. Andy nodded gratefully.
"Thank you Shiranui-sama."
Himiko smiled. "Please, if you must address me with an honorific, call me as Himiko-san. Shiranui-sama is too formal."
Andy nodded. "Uh... I guess you can all me Andy."
Himiko looked at Andy. "Of course Andy."
The servant appeared again, looking distressed. She whispered something in Hanzo's ear who frowned a bit. Himiko saw this and sighed. "I'll go get her," Himiko said.
As she stood up, Hanzo gave a sad smile and saw his wife walk out. He turned to Andy. "My granddaughter Mai, should be joining us shortly."
"Is she sick?" he asked, noticing the concern in the old man's voice. He shook his head.
"She has a hard time accepting her brother's death. She hasn't eaten much ever since she heard the news.." Andy bowed his head, remembering the early conversation he had with Master Hanzo. Himiko came down, she sat beside Hanzo and gaze into his eyes.
"She said she wasn't hungry"
"What are we going to do with that girl?"
Andy looked at both of them and remembered how he and Terry reacted. Neither one of them wanted to speak with the authorities. They refused to be separated from each other. If they were going to part, they would part by their free will, not by some adults who knew nothing about them. They wouldn't eat unless.... He cleared his throat. Both adults looked at him, he suddenly turned red from embarrassment. "Uhh, when, when our father died, my... my brother and I also didn't want to eat... even when we were hungry... because... we... knew the police would talk to us... and we didn't want that," he said, his head still bowed down. "We only ate if they left the food... and we were alone." He coughed and cleared his throat. "So... maybe... she'll eat if you just leave the food without talking to her... I mean... the people back there said talking would help... but...." He didn't finish his sentence as he tried to stop the tears.
Himiko walked up to him and gave him a hug. "It's okay Andy. Everything would be okay." As she continued to comfort the young boy, Hanzo decided to take Andy's advice and ordered for food to be left in Mai's room. He was delighted, to say so the least when he heard the food was eaten. While the girl still refused to go out of the room, at least she started eating.
The different setting bothered Andy for a bit, until
he realized where he was. He rubbed his eyes and slowly out of the bed.
He looked out of his window and admired the calm and peaceful surroundings
below. He quickly changed to his gi and decided to do a kata Master Tung
has thought him before for peace of mind. He quietly made his way to the
garden behind the temple and stopped dead in his tracks. It seemed that
someone had the same idea. There was a young girl, with fans on both her
hands gracefully moving about. She looked as if she was dancing while doing
the kata. Her movements were flawless, but there was an air of sadness
in her movement. She suddenly stopped when she sensed somebody was watching
her and turned towards her audience. Andy panicked for a while as the girl
walked towards him.
"You're Andy, right?" she asked softly. Andy nodded his head. He suddenly remembered Master Hanzo's granddaughter.
"You must be Mai..." she nodded in response. "That was a beautiful kata you were doing.."
"My brother taught me that. He made it just for me" she answered sadly. "How do you like it here so far?" she asked, changing the subject.
"It's peaceful..." he noticed that Mai was biting her bottom lip, and looked as if she was about to cry. "It's all right to cry.."
Mai suddenly burst into tears. "I miss him...."
Andy was at lost to what to do. He reluctantly closed the distance between him and the young girl, and hugged her. Surprisingly she hugged him back. Andy hugged the little girl back gently as she continued to cry. From a distance, Master Hanzo watched this, and sighed almost sadly, yet with a smile.