It was once again the beginning of the hanami season and many familiar faces had gathered at Maruyama National Park to watch Ryu and Chun Li marry, and when the couple finally exchanged vows and kissed, the guests erupted into cheers.
At the reception, Honda was attempting to devour as much sushi as possible since Ken had generously offered to pay for oh-toro. Guile, his hair now grown back to its former glory, looked quite sharp in his crisp white tuxedo jacket. A very interested Cammy was attempting to flirt with him, squeezing her breasts together in her low cut bridesmaids' dress as she conversed. Sakura sat glumly on a chair, her chin in her hand, mournfully watching Ryu and Chun Li.
Many of the guests who had been invited had known either Chun Li or Ryu through their mutual interest in fighting, and this was the first time so many had gathered in one place for a reason other than a tournament, but the jovial competitive spirit was plain to see. On the dance floor, Yun and Kiyosuke were battling to see who was the better break dancer as a circle of women clapped enthusiastically. Off to the side, Dan and Joe Higashi arm-wrestled as the other guests egged them on. Knocking Dan's hand onto the table, Joe raised his arms in victory and shouted, "Osha!" With a huge grin, he pulled down the back of his pants and gleefully mooned the red-faced Dan before sitting back down. Behind him, Terry was collecting the winnings of his bet.
"Hey, you cheated!" Dan complained indignantly.
His smile disappeared and Joe sat up instantly, knocking his chair backwards with a loud crash. "Say that again to my face," he growled menacingly, clenching his fists. Dan grinned nervously and scratching the back of his head, he mumbled something about needing to use the restroom and scurried away.
A Japanese man with extremely long jet-black hair wearing traditional Japanese robes greeted the bride and groom with a deep bow. "Omedeto, Gozaimas." His voice was rich and very deep.
"Arigato, Haohmaru-sama," Ryu said, bowing in return. "Chun Li, this is my old friend, Haohmaru. Haohmaru, may I present my wife, Chun Li."
"Yorushku negai shimase. I am very pleased to make your acquaintance," he said formally, bowing again. His English was heavily accented, but his diction and grammar were perfect. She could see why the two men were friends. He had the same anachronistic demeanor as Ryu, except that while Ryu did wear western clothing from time to time, Haomaru never wore modern dress.
"Haohmaru had the great misfortune of being born four hundred years too late - the last true ronin remaining in all of Japan," Ryu had explained to her. Apparently the man was descended from an illustrious line of samurai that traced their lineage all the way back to Musashi Miyamoto, the legendary Japanese swordsman famed for never having lost a fight. Haomaru took his name from a distant relative who had lived in the late 18th century that apparently had a reputation for being somewhat rough around the edges, which was probably why he got his name. Ryu described him as a being very much like Toshiro Mifune in Kurosawa films.
Chun Li bowed and replied, "The honor is all mine. Ryu has told me so many amazing things about you."
He bowed again and said affably, "I am certain than Ryu-sama has been overly generous with his praise."
"How are you enjoying the reception?" Ryu asked.
He gave Ryu a large grin and adjusted the two katana tucked in his obi. "The sake is not too bad," he said diplomatically. Ryu knew that was one of the few things that he was extremely particular about. Had he not held him in such high regard, Haohmaru probably would have brought his own. Usually his sake bottle hung conspicuously from his belt or his sword. "Eh?" He looked over to his side to find an enraptured Sakura staring at him, her hands clasped together in wonder. "Doshta? Is something the matter?" he asked quizzically.
"Tsugoi-yo!" she whispered, drinking in the magnificent sight of him. "Ryu, won't you introduce me to your fabulous friend?"
Ryu blinked. Kso, he thought to himself. "Oh, ano, Haohmaru-sama, this is Kasugano Sakura." He mentally apologized to his friend for what he knew would inevitably follow.
"Very pleased to meet you," she squealed, barely able to contain her enthusiasm. "I didn't know that samurai still existed!"
Haohmaru appeared confused by her sudden, rapt attention and looked at her from under raised eyebrows. "Ryu-sama," he said uneasily, "I believe I will pay my regards to Honda-sama. If you will excuse me," he apologized, bowing. His geta clacked smartly on the ground as he strode over to the sumo wrestler. Without taking her eyes off him, she trailed dreamily in his wake, a lovesick expression on her face. Glancing over his shoulder and seeing that she was still following him, Haohmaru noticeably quickened his pace.
Sliding her arm through Ryu's, Chun Li said with a laugh, "Well, if she has her way, his bloodline will definitely continue, at least for another generation, anyway. Haohmaru is in a lot of trouble."
"Indeed," Ryu said, as he watched the burly samurai attempt to escape the tiny Sakura's attentions.
Ken strolled up to his friends, leading a very pregnant Eliza. "Is that H-Bomb?" he said pointing at Haohmaru. Ken only called him that because he knew it annoyed him to no end, which basically meant that he used it every chance he got. Looking closer he added, "And is that Sakura chasing him around?" He hooted and slapped his hand to his forehead. "Man, it's a good thing you're off the market, Ryu. I don't know who to feel sorrier for."
"Eliza-chan, how are you feeling?" Ryu asked.
She patted her tummy and smiled. "It's been a rough third trimester," she laughed. "I think he takes after his dad. He's been kicking nonstop for the last few months."
Ryu's best man grinned. "Gonna be a chip of the old block. Tatsmatsu sempukyaku!" he called into her belly.
"Have you settled on a name?"
Grinning at Eliza, Ken replied, "Yeah. Shogyoku Ryu Ken Masters."
Ryu blinked at the length of the name. "What made you pick that name?"
"Cause then my kid is going to be ShoRyuKen Masters."
When he got the joke, Ryu actually laughed out loud. "What about Guile? You promised him to name your first child after him."
Ken waved his arm nonchalantly. "Guile's cool with it. He thought it was funny too." Remembering why he came by in the first place, he added, "Hey, man, you gotta throw the garter belt. All the guys are waiting."
"Gah-tuh bel-toh?" Ryu looked confused. "Why?"
"It's an American thing," he explained. "Whoever catches it is the next one to get married."
"Oh," he said finally understanding. "So that was why you threw it at your wedding."
"Yup, although I don't think it worked all that well for Honda," he laughed, watching him annihilate the buffet table. After being told what it was for, the large man had been so pleased when it fell into his fat fingers, he had chased half the female guests at Ken's wedding, not realizing that the effects were not necessarily immediate. Fortunately, they were all able to outrun him without much difficulty.
Taking Chun Li by the hand, Ryu led her to the pavilion that had been set up for the wedding party. As the crowded catcalled and chanted, Chun Li obligingly lifted the hem of her wedding dress and allowed Ryu to slide the garter off her thigh. He winked at her before standing and facing the hopeful bachelors behind him.
"It's all me, baby!" Dan called out. "Come to Papa!"
"Over my dead body!" swore another guest.
"Chunbi?" Ryu twirled the garter on his finger.
"Oh throw it already!" another impatient bystander shouted.
Pulling the garter back like a rubber band, Ryu shot it into the crowd. Being full two heads taller than everyone else present, Guile effortlessly plucked it out of the air.
"Hey! No fair, man!" Dan objected.
"Shut up, shrimp," Guile said, stuffing the garter into the lapel pocket of his tuxedo jacket.
"My turn!" Chun Li shouted. A group of women were already pushing against each other before the men had even evacuated the spot. Turning her back to the crowd she launched her bouquet into the air. Chaos ensued as a sea of women surged forward to grab the flowers, but it was a very attractive blonde who claimed the prize.
"Julia!" Eliza shouted with glee. Her sister beamed and waved the bouquet aloft. A shadow suddenly loomed over her. Turning around, Eliza was surprised to see Guile standing there.
"Hey, Eliza, I was wondering, uh, that is, if you might, you know, if it's not too much trouble-" he was mumbling indistinctly.
"Guile, spit it out already!" she laughed.
Letting out a big sigh, he said very quickly, "I-was-wondering-if-you'd-introduce-me-to-your-sister." Cringing, he looked at her with one eye screwed shut.
She smiled remembering her own wedding and how Guile was absolutely taken by her sister, but had never said a single word to her. "Why didn't you just say so?" Eliza giggled and waved her sister over. "Guile, I'd like you to meet my sister Julia. Julia, this is our very good friend Major Guile, formerly of the United States Air Force."
"The gallant Major Guile who saved your life?" Julia flashed him a dazzling smile. "I just adore men in uniform!" she cooed. "Pleased to meet you."
Guile turned a violent shade of fire engine red that contrasted sharply with his blonde hair. "Uh, yeah, you too," he muttered.
Seeing Chun Li's garter protruding from his pocket, she nodded towards it and said, "I guess we're next, eh, Major?" Guile just stood there with his mouth hanging open. "Well, no time like the present," she said gaily. Grabbing his arm, she chirped, "Come on, soldier, let's dance." As she pulled him along, Guile looked over his shoulder at Eliza, a dazed grin on his face.
Chun Li laughed as she watched the two of them on the dance floor, his hulking frame towering over her. "I think Guile's met his match," she joked.
"I forgot to warn him that she's the headstrong one in the family," Eliza said with a chuckle.
Putting his arms around Eliza, Ken predicted, "I see a lot of very large blonde babies in their future." That caused everyone to burst out laughing.
"Poor Julia! Think of the labor pains!" Chun Li said with amused horror.
"Then he would be your brother in law," Ryu added observantly.
"Oh crap, you're right!" They laughed even harder.
They stifled their amusement as Julia sauntered back to the group, Guile in tow. "Hey, sis, I found him, can I keep him?" That did it. Everyone howled at her joke.
"I don't know, can you?" Eliza asked, giggling.
"And how!" Hooking her slender arm through his ginormous one, she said, "Come on, Flyboy. I think I need a drink." As they left, Guile mouthed a silent "thank you" to Eliza, which nearly made everyone collapse.
"I can't breathe!" Ken huffed, gasping for air between laughs.
The sound of shouts and boisterous cheers drew their attention and they looked in the direction of the commotion to see Honda and Haohmaru engaged in a friendly drinking match. The only thing friendly about it, however, was the spirit in which it had been started. Sake cups littered the ground around them, a testament to their tolerance. With his stomach padded with so much oh-toro, Honda had assumed that he was a shoo-in to win, not to mention that he was easily more than twice Haohmaru's size. Taking the tiny porcelain bottle in his meaty hand, he poured yet another round and pushed the cup towards Haohmaru.
"Three to one, my money's on the samurai!" Kiyosuke called.
"I'll take that bet!" Terry shot back.
"Against a sumo wrestler? Put me in, too!" Yang shouted.
Raising their cups, they bowed to each other, tilted their heads back and draining the sake in one shot, they chucked their respective cups casually over their shoulders and grinned across the table at each other. Haohmaru sat with his back completely straight and seemed relatively unaffected by the copious amounts of liquor he had ingested. Honda on the other hand began to teeter, his face turning so red that it became difficult to distinguish where the kabuki paint ended and his skin began. Smiling inanely, he managed to hiccup "Yosh!" before falling face down on the table. The crowd behind them went insane.
Standing up, Haohmaru bowed to the inebriated sumo wrestler and poured himself a refill. Raising the cup in Honda's unconscious direction, he said, "Kampai!" and drank to his honor as the onlookers applauded vigorously. Sakura looked as if she would faint any minute after watching the remarkable display, but scowled when a skimpily clad Shiranui Mai, in her usual mammiferous glory, sashayed over to his side and sat next to him. She did note that on the bright side, he paid absolutely no attention to her whatsoever. Nonplussed, Mai moved on to Fei Long, who had come dressed in traditional Kung Fu clothing, apparently completely aware of how fabulous he looked.
"Pay up, losers!" Kiyosuke shouted triumphantly to an annoyed Terry, holding out his hand. Terry angrily slapped a few hyaku-man yen into his palm. Yang reluctantly followed suit, glaring disgustedly at the snoring Honda. "Pleasure doing business with you, gentlemen," he simpered with a smug smile as he pocketed the money. "Thanks a lot man," he said, patting Haohmaru on the back as he walked by.
Haohmaru looked up from his sake. "Nani?"
Ken punched the air with his fist. "Alright, it's party TIME! Come on, Babe, let's cut a rug!" He led Eliza back to the party
Chun Li laughed and kissed her husband. ""This is going to be one very long night."
oh-toro: fatty tuna
omedeto gozaimas: congratulations (very formal)
yorushku negai shimase: pleased to make your acquaintance (very formal)
doshta: is something the matter
geta: traditional Japanese sandals made of wood