"Damn! I hate to admit it, but Ukyo was good! He cut me like raw meat, and knocked the crud outta me! I still ache from that! I don't know how I'll be able to fight in round 2, let alone win! I think this idea REALLY SUCKS! I mean come on! All of them use weapons, and almost all of them are blades of some kind! Hardly any of us have weapons. Billy fights with a stick. Ryuji only has a small dagger, and whatever it is he uses in that 'snake-attack' of his (I still can't figure out what that is!). It's a cool idea, but I think whoever organized this did a crappy job, or just doesn't have a clue, period! Where's that ice pack? There! Now, for a towel."
After taking some time to do his best to patch up his wounds, Joe decided to take a walk, mostly to just clear his head, especially after what had happened to his opponent, Ukyo.
He couldn't believe what that madman, Ryuji did. In a Blood Riot, he murdered Ukyo, Bob, Cheng, and Caffeine. It was totally cold-blooded, and it pissed Joe off. He had actually respected Ukyo, as Ukyo respected him. They were each honored by the challenge of the other. They had each survived the devastation of the others finishing move. Joe had just enough, however, to execute his super finisher, allowing him to squeak a victory from Ukyo. Now, he was dead. He hoped that what Mary had said was right.
Slowly, the ending moments of KOF'97 come to mind. It was down to his team, Mexico's, and Japan's. Iori was still lurking, but no one knew where. Andy was worried about Mai, who had taken a pounding from Shermie, who had awakened. Mary also was hit hard from Leona. Then, those two went at it, and both fell. Joe, and most of the other teammates had taken their all, and had no more left. Then, Chris seemed to explode, and in his place was Orochi!
He leveled nearly everyone before him, including Joe. That hurt Joe, although his feeling of being invincible was hurt more. The only one who seemed left was Kyo. While he was doing ok, Orochi was clearly gaining ground. Then, from outa nowhere, Orochi was rocketed into the sky by Terry's Power Geyser, followed by two more. As Orochi turned and began to lift his hands to crush Terry, he was knocked to his face by Ryo's Haoh Sho Kho Ken.
It was a most impressive sight, seeing the three heroes united. They were able to hold their own, but Ryo and Terry were weakening; they lacked the power from one of the bloodlines, and there was only so long that they could hold. Soon, they were unable to continue as well. Kyo arose, suffering the least, but obviously having trouble standing.
From behind them, there was a blood-curling yell of Iori. To everyone's surprise, he leapt over Kyo, and entered a power struggle with Orochi. For a few moments, Kyo seemed entranced. Kagura spoke, and he rushed in, delivering the blow to seal Orochi. Iori disappeared, probably to recover from the ordeal. Kagura had been rumored to stop by. It was confirmed when he overheard King and Mai talk about Jan.
"Man, that's a real mess! Jan, that poor little guy. He's too young to understand the nightmare his sister must be going through. I wonder how often she wonders about returning to work for Big. Yeah, he's the wrong guy to work for, and his work's dirty, but the pay's good. And King would be willing to do that, to help take care of her kid bro. I think she'd sell her body and soul to the Devil himself to help him. He's her world. I know she went to talk with Ryo, and he does have connections. I think I have better ones. Plus, I'm an international champ and star. When we get back, I'm gonna kick ass! Then, I'll donate some cash to them."
"I knew you had a heart in you, somewhere, Joe."
"Who the he...oh, hi ya, Ling. Um, thanks, I think."
"I didn't think you were always such a loud-mouth jerk! Your ego had to have some limits. It just can take some time to show. Still, I think you are a good fighter. You're not too bad yourself," she finished with a laugh similar to Mai's.
"Hey, there you are! I've been looking for you. We need to talk! Alone!"
"There's nothing more, Rick! I told you, it's over! We may have had something, but we just don't have the time to be with each other. Our schedules and lives are too different."
"Come on, just give it some time. You know I's on a roll before this crazy tournament. When we get back, I'll be able to win the title, and then we can go from there."
"It's a dream, Rick. I'm sorry, but no!"
"You're not being fair. We've been through a lot. We've been together so long, and you just want to end it..."
"Hey, man, BUTT OUT! The gal and I were talking! She doesn't want to talk, so just leave!"
"You leave, Joe. This is between us, and we'll handle it. Go back to your showman ways, and leave real fighters alone."
"Oh, so you are a `real fighter,' eh? Some real fighter. We all know who the real one is, even the lady. That's why she's with me. She doesn't want to be with a looser!"
"I didn't loose my fight...it was a draw."
"So what! I won. Now beat it!"
Instead, Rick went into his battle stance, ready to take Joe out. Joe got into his stance, ready to meet his powerful foe. From what he had heard, Rick was a powerhouse. Not only that, but he had brains to go with it. In a blink, it began. Each made a strike, blocked, countered, and took and gave hits. Joe was faster, but Rick had a stronger build, enabling him to take more punishment. Neither had time to set up for any specials, for they were too close, and the time it would take would lead to a beating from his opponent. Rick rolled back, and made a dash punch at Joe. Joe slid under it, staggering Rick. Joe flipped Rick over, yet Rick shot up faster than Joe. Then, to Joe's pain, Rick hit him with a head butt (now, as to how a head butt doesn't seem to hurt the other guy, I don't know!). Joe met Rick with his TNT punch, and caught Rick in a series of fists.
"What's going on here! Joe! You womanizer! Why don't you leave these two alone!"
"Excuse you Mai; get you ass outa here!" and as Joe turned, he was knocked flat by Rick.
"No, it's not what you think, Mai. Joe and I were taking. Rick's an ex-boyfriend. Ain't this cool, two guys fighting over me!?"
Mai didn't say nothing, for everywhere she went, scores of guys fought for even a chance to talk with her. Yet through it all, the only one she wanted was Andy. What could she say, she's devoted. She liked that one guy who fought with Andy in the Dead Sea, but she was glad when Andy finally won.
"Now, it's over, Joe. You've lost!"
"Two words: SCREW YOU!" yelled Joe as he leveled Rick with his Screw Upper, sending Rick flat on his face.
"Sorry about the broken nose. I can recommend a good doctor!"
"Well done, Joe. Let's go somewhere so we can talk without any others being nosy! And don't you even think about it!"
"Huh? Who, me? I don't know what you mean!"
"Good! Keep it that way. I'm not the love that you can rent!" and they walked off, although she told Joe that if he tried to hold her hand, she'd break it. Man, what a babe, Joe thought. Not bad.
"Wow! What happened here, Mai!"
"Oh, Rimururu. Nothing much, just Joe and Rick fighting over Ling."
"Huh? Why'd they want to go and do that? What's the purpose in that?"
Mai couldn't help but laugh. Yes, Rimururu was still young, but it was still funny. Mai only said that she'd understand in time. She then asked how Hisame was doing.
"...Oh, he's doing ok. He's not hurt too bad, after his fight with Krauser. After such a fight, I'm glad he can walk. I was afraid that that man may have killed him. Look at how big he is! It's scary!"
Mai agreed, as the memories of the chaos he left in his wake sprung into her mind. He had severely injured Joe, nearly killing him. Terry had just barley made it through the rematch.
"We also had breakfast together. He's a real nice boy. He just doesn't seem to be very lucky. He has a powerful demon within, waiting to be unleashed. Genjuro throws him into a tree. Krauser almost hands him his head. I don't know how I feel about all this. It's so...new!"
"It's simple, Rimururu. You like him. You should let him know how you feel. Go all out, and don't hold back. That's how to get what you want! He needs some one to be there, and you can be that someone."
"What about Haohmaru and Charlotte? They are there for him. Charolette even bandaged him up."
"That's different. He needs someone closer to his own age, namely you!"
"Hey, what are you two talking about?"
"Hello, Hisame. Rimmy and I were talking about you! You know, the two of you should take some time together. It'd be a good chance for the two of you to get to know each other."
As if on cue, Rimururu took his hands, and they gazed into each others eyes, and souls. It was a strange and unsettling experience for both of them, as neither had recalled feeling anything like it before. What it was, they were uncertain. For a reason beyond their understanding, they didn't really care. Something was happening, and they seemed to like it. For a moment, they both turned away, with traces of red on their faces. They then turned back as one. It seemed as if their souls were merging.
"A wonderful show, lad! However, it will not come to be! Your destiny will not allow it!"
The three turned, and saw Zankuro standing and looking at the kids with a vile smile, whose intentions were no better.
"Listen, you butt! Whatever you have will wait! These kids deserve some time together, so back out!"
"Or what, you'll beat me up! Please, little woman. You are nothing compared to my power. Neither you, your boyfriend, or any other can stand up to me! However, I'm not here to fight, only for a message for the boy. For years, you've wondered why I didn't kill you. Your parents were dead, yet you still lived, though only an infant. There, I realized that there was no point in fighting those who could not fight back. There was no challenge in it, so I seek only strong warriors to kill. As my gift to you, I empowered you with darkness. You felt it a while back, when you were briefly visited by Haohmaru and Nakoruru. This is your true calling. Deny it if you dare, but it is truth. Now, good-bye!"
Hisame was shocked at what Zankuro told him. Mai told him that he couldn't believe what that monster told him, but he knew it was all true, for it rang from his very soul. His world seemed about ready to crash before him, and he was without any idea of what to do.
"It's ok, Hisame. I'm here. Whatever it is, I'm going to stay with you and face whatever it is with you. You won't need to be alone. When Charlotte or Haohmaru can't be there for you, I will. I promise you this."
"Rimururu? No! You don't know what you're saying!"
"Yes, I do! I like you, a lot! Maybe the way Charlotte likes Haohmaru. I'm doing it because I want to!"
"...Thank you. I really do mean it. It's so hard, though."
"I know, but I promise to help you, however I can."
At Mai's suggestion, they went to the lake to do some swimming.
"So, how'd I do, Andy?"
"You knew I was...never mind. Yes, I'd say you did very good."
"I'm good with kids. Keep that in mind when you get ready to propose!"
Andy nearly choked, and Mai giggled in her usual girlish way. She then told him to meet her at the lake, for their own date. This would be how he'd redeem himself. Andy mumbled, and they got set to go.
So, after a long time, Joe finally "gets the girl," as well as some bruises, a bloody nose, and a need for ice. Joe happens to be one of my favorites for KOF and FF, FYI. I also add my own ideas as to what happened at the end of KOF'97, and what may be expected for '98 (Well, it's kinda late, but I do have other things besides this).
I also give my reason for why I think Zankuro didn't kill Hisame. Keep in mind, they are still young kids, so nothing as much as Joe and Ling can happen, not here, anyway! Now, Hisame has somebody for him, so he won't be a "burden" for Charlotte and Haohmaru, his adopted family. Maybe Rimmy will be a part of his family! Time will tell (or some other fic, depending on which happens first! The idea for Hisame and Rimmy's my own idea, so if anyone else builds from it, feel free to do so. You don't have to credit me, unless you want to. I would like to know, though ^_^).