This takes place during Red Phoenix – just after Emma gave Michael permission to go with Na Zha to Beverly Hills (the one in Hong Kong… NOT the one in LA)
Michael landed gently on his feet. He looked up and saw the cloud that Na Zha had summoned for him. It was gently dissipating until it was nearly invisible when Na Zha, riding his fire wheels, burst through it spectacularly. He was heading for the ground at a phenomenal speed. Ten metres in the air, he dismissed his fire wheels and fell toward the ground. He landed next to Michael. Hard, but gracefully, ground shaking under him. Right leg bent, left leg straight out to the side, right arm straight out to the side, left arm straight down and hand on the ground. A classic ninja pose.
“Show off.” Michael said.
“You wish you were half as cool as me.” Na Zha retorted as he rose and dusted the dirt from his hands. They’d landed on a footpath just off the famous Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California.
“You’re sure Emma’s gonna be able to call my mobile while I’m here?” asked Michael.
“Never heard of international roaming have you?” Na Zha laughed. “Quit worryin‘, bro. I told you. If there’s an emergency, I can carry you back. She’ll never know we were here.”
They rounded the corner into the middle of North Rodeo Drive. Palm trees lined either side of the road, as well as along the median strip. Luxury cars were parked in front of high-end boutique shops. Impossibly beautiful people in ridiculously expensive clothes meandered along. Michael had seen this scene before in many American movies, but actually being here seemed surreal. Like he was in television land. He suddenly felt underdressed.
A tourist bus drove slowly past. The driver looking bored as he spoke into his headset microphone, describing the sights for undoubtedly the zillionth time. Michael watched as the people inside looked slack-jawed at the surroundings, some taking photos. He realised with shock that his face mirrored that of the tourists. He closed his mouth and forced himself to act ‘un-tourist-like’ because he remembered the disdain he felt for tourists back in Hong Kong.
They walked along the sidewalk for a while. Na Zha nodded toward one of the boutiques. “Can’t shop there unless you’ve got an appointment.” He nodded toward another store. “That’s where Winona Ryder got busted for shoplifting.” He pointed at the hotel at the end of the street. “Pretty Woman. Julia Roberts. That’s the hotel.”
“What are you my tour guide or something?” Michael laughed. “Let’s go see this friggin’ game already.” He would’ve loved to stay and listen to Na Zha describe all the sights for him. This was his first visit to Beverly Hills - not counting the one in the New Territories of Hong Kong, but he was worried about Emma finding out.
As they walked out of the store, they were discussing what they thought of the new game.
“Crap.” Na Zha said.
“Yep.” said Michael. “But you know you’re still gonna get it. Everyone’s gonna buy it for all those new multiplayer maps and I’m looking forward to kicking some noob ass all over again. ‘specially yours.”
“Up yours.” Na Zha scoffed. “You’ll be in there for like two seconds before I frag your sorry ass. All you’re gonna hear is me saying, ‘BOOM! HEADSHOT!’ into your ear all day and night!”
They both laughed.
They grabbed some burgers at the food court. There was no problem finding an empty table due to the time difference between LA and Hong Kong. Michael felt like it was lunchtime, but it was already past dinnertime in LA.
They ate in silence for a few minutes.
Michael spoke in between gulps of his soft drink. “Can you imagine what this game would be like if they reached part 12 or 13 like Final Fantasy? When would that be, you think? Like, 10, 15 years? I reckon I’d still be kicking your sorry ass.”
Na Zha didn’t say anything. Michael noticed a faraway look in his eyes, like he was deep in thought. His eyes glazed over, teary, and he quickly looked down and took another bite of his burger.
“What’s wrong, man?” Michael asked, concerned.
“Nuthin’” Na Zha murmured.
“Don’t bullshit me, bro. I know you.”
A flash of anger lit Na Zha’s eyes. “You don’t know shit, ‘bro’.” The anger was suddenly replaced by sadness. “In ten, fifteen years’ time, you’re not gonna wanna know me.”
“What?!” Michael almost choked on his burger. “That’s complete bullshit, man and you know it. You’re my best friend and you’re gonna be until the world ends.”
Na Zha actually laughed.
“Do you remember how old I am?” Na Zha finally said.
“Over a thousand years old.” Michael answered. “I’ve heard the stories.”
“Yeah, but I am the essence of youth. No matter how old I get, I’ll always be sixteen years old in body and mind.”
“So you’re a Chinese Peter Pan.” Michael laughed. “So what?”
“So I’ll always be sixteen years old. – You won’t.” Na Zha’s eyes glassed over again. “You are gonna grow up, get a job, get married, have kids, grow old… all that shit.”
“But I won’t die, dude. I’m half shen.”
“No, you won’t die… But you, the teenage you, my best friend. He will die.” Na Zha said solemnly.
Michael didn’t believe it. “No, man. You’re my best friend for life.”
“You have no idea how many times I’ve heard that.” Na Zha said into his chest. “Wanna know how many times it’s been true?” He held his hand up, thumb and forefinger forming an ‘o’. “ Zero.”
Michael opened his mouth to say something, but Na Zha cut him off. “You don’t get it, bro. None of you ever do.”
“Well explain it to me then.” Michael said.
Na Zha seemed to think about it for a moment. Then he shrugged. “It’s not really your fault if you think about it. I’m the one who changes. We’re friends because we like the same things. Same music, same clothes, same activities. The thing is, we both like these things because they are what’s cool. You with me so far?”
“Yep.” Said Michael.
Na Zha went on, “The thing is, cool things change, but your idea of what’s cool won’t.”
Michael looked a little confused.
Na Zha changed tack, “What did your mother say the first time she heard you play rap music?”
“That’s not real music!” Michael couldn’t help smiling as he remembered.
“Right!” said Na Zha. “Your mum thinks music from the sixties and seventies is cool.”
“Yeah, but she’s not cool.” Michael laughed.
“She was.” Na Zha said. “Then what was cool changed. Her idea of cool didn’t. She didn’t change, cool did. Right now, you’re in sync with what’s cool – that’s why you’re in sync with me. That’s why we’re friends.”
Na Zha took a breath. Then continued, “One day, there’s gonna be a new type of music that’s gonna be incredibly cool. And do you know what you’re gonna say when you hear it? You’re gonna say ‘that’s not real music’.”
“There’s gonna be a new hairstyle all the kids will be wearing and you’re gonna say ‘that looks stupid’.”
“There’s gonna be a new way of wearing things like rolling up just one leg of your jeans or pulling your boxers up higher than your jeans and you’re gonna say ‘that looks funny’. “
“To you, it’s gonna be something small like that, but to me, it’s gonna be significant. It’s gonna mean the beginning of the end of our friendship. Like a crack in the concrete that’s only gonna get bigger.”
Slowly, it dawned on Michael.
Na Zha, even though Michael couldn’t help but think of him as a sixteen year-old, was over one thousand years old. In all that time, how many friends has he lost due to the passage of time? How many ‘best friends’ has he had that have outgrown him?
Michael had always envied Na Zha for never being able to grow old. But what was there to be envious of when Na Zha didn’t have a single person in the world to share his eternal youth? Every friend he made, he lost to antiquity. Every person he grew close to left him behind as they matured and grew into adulthood.
He suddenly felt very sorry for Na Zha.
“Dude,” Michael started. Though he knew there was nothing he could say that Na Zha probably hadn’t heard before. “I didn’t realise. I’m so sorry. It must be so hard for you…”
In a blink of an eye, Na Zha’s sad face flicked back to his usual, cocky grin. “Don’t start gettin’ soppy on me, gaytard. Maybe the next guy will be a half decent gamer and actually give me a bit of a challenge. I’m sick of fragging your sorry noob ass on every game in existence.”
They both laughed. Na Zha punched Michael hard in the arm.
They reached the deserted footpath off Rodeo Drive where they landed earlier. Na Zha summoned a cloud for Michael and then summoned his own fire wheels.
“C’mon, dude.” Na Zha said as he stepped in between the burning wheels. “Emma’s been trying to call you for the last hour.”
“Oh crap!” Michael swore as he fumbled for his phone. He checked the screen. There were no missed calls.
“Sucker!” Na Zha laughed as he spun his wheels and shot into the air.
Michael chuckled, then stepped onto the cloud and willed it to go as fast as it could in an attempt to catch up to his best friend.
I like that, it's deep. Another very good Fan fic Futureboy! Welcome back, I missed reading these :lol:
FutureBoy - you rock. Great story lines and they can be read alongside Kylie's work - no trouble. It's great reading your stuff while waiting for Kylie's latest.
I think that what u write is almost like the books kylie writes but not focoused on emma as much and more on the sub charters