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Chapter 18

“Ariel!!” Kris called out from the street stop.

“hmm?” she called back, already fully across the street.

“Did you already forget?” Kris asked holding her hand out.

Ariel had missed the fact that Kris had to have her hand held every time she crossed the street. Wincing at her mistake, Ariel runs back and squats down to Kris’s height, apologizing for her mistake.

“Sorry little lady. Do you forgive me?” Ariel pouted.

“Yes,” Kris said maturely taking Ariel’s hand.

Even after crossing the street, Ariel felt obligated to hold Kris’s hand.

“Keep holding my hand Kris,” Ariel would say. “These streets aren’t safe so I’ll have to take care of you.
Going inside a convenient store Ariel lets Kris pick out the chicken broth and pay for it too, all the while watching this little 5 year old trot around like a rabbit on crack.

“Ok, Ariel we’re done,” she said after paying the cashier.

“Good girl, hold onto my hand now,” Ariel sweetly said.

“You know, mommy doesn’t even want to hold onto my hand this much. I like holding hands with you,” Kris said innocently enough.

Ariel smiled at that. Kris reminded Ariel of herself when she was a kid; naïve, lively and innocent and she wanted to keep it that way.

Just as they were crossing another street, a crowd unexpectedly rushed against Ariel and Kris causing Ariel to accidentally let go of Kris’ hand.

“Kris!” Ariel cried out in fear. “Oh, no…Kris, where are you!?”

No response.

“KRIS!!!” she yelled again in the middle of the street. Soon everybody had gotten out of the street, but still, no Kris.

Ariel scoured all over the buildings and streets looking frantically for Kris.

“Kris! Kris?! Please come out! Please!” Ariel yelled out in panic.

Suddenly, behind an alley, she hears a small girl crying; it was quite possibly the most heart-wrenching sound Ariel had ever heard.

“KRIS!!” she yelled at the little girl.

“Ariel!” Kris said crying her eyes out.

“Oh, I thought I lost you,” Ariel said with a lump in her throat.

Kris just continued to bawl her eyes out and rub them till they were red. Ariel knelt down to her level.

“Oh Kris don’t do that, your eyes will be red and puffy,” Ariel warned.

“You…you…let go…of me…”Kris said in between sniffles.

That broke Ariel’s heart. Never in her life did she ever want to hear Kris say that to her ever again.

“Kris…” Ariel said holding onto the little girl’s plump cheeks. “I will never let go of you ever again, you hear me? It was my mistake, please forgive me?”

Kris said nothing and continued to cry.

“Please don’t cry, I’ll tell you what. I’ll go get some ice cream and make every better, k?”

Kris responded by shaking her head back and forth.

“NO!” she screamed. Suddenly she wrapped her arms around Ariel’s neck.

“Kris…” Ariel said not knowing how to respond.

“Don’t let go of me!” Kris demanded as she continued to squeeze her arms around her tighter.

This alarmed Ariel. She never felt anyone hug her so vulnerably before. For the first time in her life, she wasn’t the one that need consoling.

“I will not let anything happen to you,” Ariel said rubbing Kris’ back as comfort. “But let’s keep this between us k? Don’t want me to get into trouble right?”

“Ariel?” Kris asked frankly. “Will you always be there for me?” she ended by taking Ariel’s hand.

“mm,” Ariel hummed. “Always!”

“Then I won’t tell,” she said smiling a little.

Just as they were about to walk out of the alley a strange man approached them.

“Well what do we have here?” he said smirking. “A couple of rats lingering in the wrong side of the city?”

Ariel recognized the man. It was the same guy whom she encountered her first night in Taipei; the man Joe hit a trashcan lid on the head to.

“You…” Ariel said shocked.

“So we meet again TWIN SWORD WARRIOR” he mocked. “How bout we settle a little score for old time sake?”

Ariel said nothing. She was worried about Kris and her safety; what was she suppose to do?

“Kris, stay back,” she warned.

“C’mon wench! Afraid of a rematch!” he said.

“KRIS, STAY BACK!” she warned again.

Kris followed directions and ran behind Ariel. However she tripped over some bottles and her jacket left her unable to get up.

“KRIS!” Ariel yelled back. But it was too late. The man had grabbed Ariel’s hair and twisted it around her neck in a choking position.

“How does it feel huh? Getting the life sucked outta ya?” he chuckled.

Ariel was slowly drowning in her own web of black locks and she began to drift faster and faster. The only thing she thought of was Kris. How she was alone, how she was unable to help her. Ariel let her go, even after her promise…

“LET HER GO YOU IDIOT!!!!” screamed a shrill voice.

The next thing Ariel knows, the man was on the floor unconscious. Trying desperately to catch her breathe, she looks over at Kris with the cutest looking angry face she has ever seen. Ariel also see’s the trashcan lid Kris was holding with her two small hands.

“What an moron!” Kris said throwing the lid onto the ground. “I told Joe that this jacket is useless!!”

“Kris!” Ariel said trying to stand. “Did you hit him on the head with that?”

“I couldn’t lift the trashcan,” Kris reasoned.

“Ugh, never ever scare me like that!” Ariel said breathing heavily. “You could have been killed!”

“Not by him,” she joked.

“How can you do that? You’re not afraid of a criminal but you cry when I let go of your hand.”

“I’m complex, so sue me,” Kris said.

“OK, forget it. Lets get outta here…”Ariel puffed.

Kris turned to the man on the floor and gave one more kick to his side.

“What an idiot!”

“C’mon Kris…” Ariel said. “I’ll carry you on my back from now on.”

“YAY!” Kris said back to her childish side.

“You keep amazing me every time I see ya, kid” Ariel said shaking her head.

“Yeah, I get that a lot,” Kris said proudly.

“Oh and this whole ‘scene’…lets keep between the two of us as well, please.”

“No problem my friend,” she winked.

“I think you attract trouble,” Ariel joked.

“I like you too,” Kris said giving Ariel a smack kiss on the cheek.

 

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