"Yo, I'm more rugged than slave man boots,
New recruits, I'm fuckin' up MC troops
I break loose, and trample shit, while I stomp
A mudhole in that ass, 'cause I'm straight out the swamp."
- Wu-Tang Clan, "Bring Da Ruckus"
Sean jogged through the streets of São Paulo, taking care to not bump into the various party goers that littered the streets. Even for a Friday night, the streets were surprisingly crowded. Sean noticed that many people were wearing Brazil's national football jersey. He remembered that the FIFA World Cup had just officially started a day or two ago, so he assumed most were going to bars to watch the games. He wasn't a big fan of football, but he liked to support the national team nonetheless. If he wasn't trying to be incognito, he would've even considered watching the games at one of the bars.
Sean continued to weave around the crowded streets, trying to clear out the negative thoughts plaguing his mind. He wasn't afraid to admit he was more than jaded about his relationship with Ken, but he would've preferred being straight up denied, instead of getting tricked into a beatdown just for Ken to get him off his back. Then there was the fact that on the rare occasion Ken did visit Sean, he spent most of his time sparring or hanging out with Laura, instead of teaching his "pupil". Sean honestly thought if Ken wasn't so devoted to his family, he'd have tried to make a pass at his sister.
Sean couldn't help but laugh at that particular thought. Laura may have been seen as "loose" by the men of São Paulo, because of her free-wheeling nature, but she had pretty high standards for a boyfriend, and no time for cheaters. Sean remembered the one and only time a married man once tried to get with her, she ended up giving him such a beating, he ran all the way over to São Bernardo do Campo just to get away from her.
Rounding a corner, Sean found himself in the city square. The game was on every big screen in the area, and a large crowd was standing around, watching the game. Sean ducked into a corner store, silently praying a riot wouldn't break out if Brazil lost. Inside, Sean spotted his cousin, Enzo Da Silva, working the cash. He looked a bit grumpy, as to be expected when you're working backshift, but perked up when he saw Sean walking towards him. Enzo leaped over the counter, and ran up to hug his cousin.
"Yo, Sean! Thank God you came through just now," Enzo said as he embraced Sean, nearly crushing him. "I thought I was gonna go stir crazy up in here!"
Sean laughed, and returned the bone-crushing hug with one of his own. Although they were cousins, Sean grew up with Enzo and his family, and treated him like he was a brother. Although he often got himself into trouble with his pranks, Enzo was someone Sean knew he could count on when the going got tough, even moreso than his own sister.
After a few moments, they both let go, and stretched their muscles. "Stuck working backshift again?" Sean asked as he stretched his arms.
"Beyond backshift," Enzo said with a grunt. "I've been working since early this morning by myself with almost no downtime. And that's mostly thanks to Mom and Dad givng Manuela the day off to spend with her boyfriend, cause they were planning a World Cup party or something. Top that off with me barely having any customers tonight, I've been slowly going insane." He ran his hands through his loc-hawk, eyeing Sean curiously. "Though if I'm being honest, you're the last family member I'd have expected to come through. I rarely see you anymore these days."
Swan sighed. He should've seen this coming. "I know, man. I'm sorry."
It wasn't like Sean had intentionally cut himself off from his extended family, but the loss in America, and the constant jeering from townsfolk took a toll on his confidence and mental health, and he slowly began shutting himself off from everyone to the point where he only showed up at family gatherings because it was expected of him; and even then, it took a lot of literal arm twisting from Laura.
Enzo put a hand on Sean's shoulder. "I don't hate you for not keeping contact with us," he said, as if he was reading Sean's mind. "But that tournament is in the past, yo. And you've bounced back from bigger losses, so why you letting that one hang over your head so much?"
"It's not the loss that bothers me," Sean retorted, brushing his cousin's hand off. "It's everything that came after it. The mockery from everyone, especially here in Brazil, the whiteballing from the fighting community, my Sensei treating me like charity case more than an actual student..."
Sean covered his face, groaning in frustration. "I would've been able to live with the loss, or even the insults; but everyone writes me off as a lost cause because of that one time. And now, most tournament organizers won't let me compete anymore. Even Ken doesn't want to deal with me any more. Last time I saw him, he spent all day sparring with Laura instead of training me like he promised!" He threw his hands up in the air to emphasize his point
At he mention of Ken, Enzo's temper began to flare, but he quickly tried to check himself. "Forget about that deadbeat, yo," Enzo said, trying to hide the rage in his voice. "Let's change the subject. You been ballin' lately?"
"Tch. I try to, but I still get shit on for even showing my face at the court," Sean said, rolling his eyes. "Even our old teammates don't wanna play with me no more cause of it."
"For real?!" Enzo was stunned. He and Sean had played on the same basketball team for years, and their whole team was like a second family to them, to the point where they were among the few who stood by Sean after the U.S. tournament. "They just dissed you like that after all this time?!"
"Pretty much, Cuz." Sean walked over to the counter and leaned on it, weariness spread across his face. "Apparently, a lot of them started getting hell from random people for hanging with me, so they decided they didn't want to be collateral damage." He let out a frustrated sigh. "I thought my own kinfolk shading me was the worst of my worries."
Enzo, though he didn't show it outwardly, looked at his cousin with concern. He knew Fabio and Laura, while they loved Sean, often ripped on their little brother's poor Shotokan and Jujitsu skills. And great-uncle Kinjiro was less than happy to find out about his switch to Shotokan, at one point calling it "A child's martial art." While Enzo's family weren't delusional about Sean's Shotokan skills, they at least tried to give him moral support.
"Forget them, Sean," Enzo replied. "They ain't shit to us if they just gonna toss you to the side like that!"
Sean just continued to mope, staring a hole into the far wall of the store. "Easy for you to say. You don't deal with the same level of abuse I do everyday, online, and in person."
Enzo shook his head, and got in front of Sean, forcing his cousin to look at him. "Who gives a fuck about what people say or think, man? You're a Da Silva, we're one of the baddest families in Brazil! Most of those clowns shittin' on you can't hold a candle to us!"
"Correction; you're a Da Silva," Sean countered. "I'm a Matsuda, one who's not only perpetually stuck in the shadow of his more talented relatives and constantly compared unfavorably to Dan Hibiki, but isn't talented in either Shotokan, jujitsu, or capoeira whatsoever."
"But you are talented at Shotokan, Sean," Enzo pointed out. "You may not be on the level of Ryu or Ken yet, but you're more than capable of holding your own. What about that Chinese asshole you beat who tried to downplay your skills? Or that crazy wrestler who went nuts after Zangief tossed him out the ring a few years back?"
Sean, despite himself, smiled at the memory. Back when he was actively trying to get Ken to train him, the karate master had taken him to a wrestling show in Oakland, where the main event was Zangief going up against Pulk Hogen in a cross-promotional match. That night, Zangief had not only punked out Hogen so bad in the ring, he physically threw him out into the crowd. Hogen got so angry, he started attacking any audience members within his reach. Sean, a few seats away from the carnage, quickly got involved, and KO'd the wrestler with a Tatsumaki before he could do any serious damage.
"Pulk Hogen was a nut," Sean replied with a laugh, before sighing again. "But what does it matter? Yang's a master of kung-fu, and has probably continued to perfect his craft, and has a master who's helped him along the way. Ken only comes around if it means he can pal around with Laura. How am I supposed to improve if nobody will help me advance? And don't say Ryu, because he's always on a journey of 'self improvement,' or so he claims, anyway."
Enzo held his hands up in surrender. "Okay, you got me there," he admitted. "But let's drop it for now. You'll find a way to get over the hump, Ken or no Ken."
Sean nodded, but still didn't feel very confident in his cousin's optimistic view. "What've you been up to these days anyway?" Sean asked. "Still trying to be a big time Soundcloud rapper?"
Enzo laughed, knowing Sean's remark was in jest. "Laugh all you want, but I've been getting crazy buzz off my new sounds on there. Speaking of which, hold on a second." Enzo quickly ducked back behind the counter, and began digging for something, leaving Sean mildly confused. Soon, he came back up with a laptop and a pair of Bluetooth speakers.
"I got a dope beat I need to show you," he said excitedly. "It's on that old school jazzy NYC tip I know you you love, cuz. I know you'll have some bars for this."
Sean shook his head, and threw his hands up defiantly. "No way! You know I don't rap like you do, man!"
"Psssh, quit downing yourself, Sean." Enzo began to play the track. "I know better than anyone that you could kill this beat without trying. Just listen."
A smooth, yet gritty beat began to flow out of the speakers, and into Sean's ears. The martial artist quickly found himself involuntarily nodding his head to the rhythm, and began to smile. "Ooooh, this is smooth!" Sean said, moving his shoulders from side to side. Soon, he began to pop lock to Enzo's beat, gliding across the store floor.
Enzo watched Sean dance with a shit eating grin as he bobbed along to his own beat. "See, I told you you was gonna dig it! All we need now is the rhymes to go with it!"
"I told you I can't rap, man!" Sean insisted, not missing a beat while dancing.
"Come on, Sean," Enzo walked back over to his cousin. "I know you've got rhymes in your notepad you've been sitting on, stop trying to hold out on me."
Sean rolled his eyes in annoyance, but stopped dancing nonetheless. "Alright, but you're only getting one verse out of me."
Enzo grinned victoriously. "That's all I need to hear."
Sean just rolled his eyes again, and nodded along to Enzo's beat as it played through the speakers. Soon, the martial artist got into the groove, and began rapping to it:
"My rhymes be mystical, far from the typical
So many lyrical miracles, you'd think my shit was biblical
Flow so divine, sweeter than the Lord's wine
Can't be confined, chalk lines await those who wanna battle
Wack emcees get butchered like beef cattle
So don't approach the king if you're easily rattled
Test the rhyme, and I'll leave your face full of stitches
Persist, and I'll knock your hairline back a few inches
I'm divine shine, fuck what you heard through the grapevine
I'm the best, pound for pound, rhyme for rhyme
I ain't Dan Hibiki, I ain't no joke
I'm legit, I leave mics split when they go up in smoke
No, I ain't Ken Masters, but I still kick flames
It's MC Matsuda, puttin' wack emcees to shame
Bringin' the pain."
Enzo, who was grooving during Sean's verse, began jumping up and down as soon as he finished. "Yes, yes!" he shouted. "That's what the hell I'm talkin' about! That's the Sean I know, killing it on the microphone!"
Sean just laughed. "Don't get too used to it. I'm a fighter, not a rapper."
Enzo waved a hand dismissively. "Please, you some of the best bars in Brazil, and I'm not saying that because we're family," he responded "It's good you wanna keep up with martial arts, cuz it runs in the family; but you're really fucking good at rapping too, man. All I'm saying is you should do it as a side hustle. Nothing wrong with having some extra revenue streams in your pocket that aren't tournaments."
"Easy for someone with a day job to say," Sean remarked, leaning against a stand of potato chips. "Besides, you know there ain't nobody trying to hear me, with my reputation."
"It's worth a try at least," Enzo said. "Ya never know how it could play out."
Sean just shrugged. "I'll think about it. I won't lie though, I'm feeling a bit better after that."
Enzo looked hopeful. "Does that mean you're up to spit another verse?"
Sean stared blankly for a second, before a knowing smirk formed on his face. "Nah," he replied. "I got something better in mind." He then proceeded to approach Enzo's laptop. Sean noticed the worried look his cousin was giving him, and added, "Don't worry, I'm not gonna mess with your socials or music files."
"Then what're you doing?" Enzo asked warily, looking over Sean's shoulder.
"Getting the party started," Was the shotokan fighter's reply as he scrolled through Enzo's music library. As soon as he hit play, "Straight to My Feet" by MC Hammer began to blare out the speakers. Sean began gliding around the floor once again, while Enzo just shook his head.
"Come on, son," Enzo groaned.
"Relax, and dance, man!" Sean said. "You're a capoeira master, the rhythm should come natural to you, anyway!"
"I ain't doing that corny ass dance my parents made up," Enzo said, folding his arms defiantly. "That shit died out with Hammer and his big-ass pants."
Enzo was referring to the "Da Silva Shuffle," a dance routine based off the running man his parents made up in the 90s. It remained popular around São Paulo, but he would never openly admit to enjoying it, not even on his deathbed.
"Come on, it's a fun dance, cuz," Sean insisted. "Besides, you poked and prodded me to rap; the very least you can do is humour me for four minutes."
Enzo rolled his eyes, but relented. "Alright, but I'm only dancing to this one song."
Sean nodded and stepped aside to let Enzo join in. The two quickly got into the rhythm of the beat, and began doing the dance. Sean, for the first time in what was probably ages, felt genuinely happy, instead of having to put up a front. Sean let the rhythm take control, putting his negative thoughts to the side as he grooved around the store.
"Try and keep up!" Sean playfully taunted Enzo.
"Only in your dreams can you out-dance me!" was Enzo's reply.
The duo continued the routine as the song played, eventually culminating into the "Charleston" part of the dance. Enzo and Sean faced each other as they did the running man, and they kicked up their right legs, tapping each other's foot in the process. They repeated the sequence with their left foot, before turning around, and repeating it, this time with their backs to each other.
The cousins were so lost to the rhythm, neither of them heard the bell ringing, signifying someone had walked into the store, nor did they notice the quartet of women watching them, until one of them spoke up.
"What the heck are you two plebeians doing?"
Almost instantaneously, the cousins lost their footing, and stumbled, barely avoiding knocking over some of the food stands in the process. Their misfortune elicited a round of loud laughter from the women watching. Sean soon managed to regain his balance, and grumbled curses under his breath as he turned around to glare at the women. His expression instantly changed from anger to surprise when he instantly recognized one of the women in the store.
"Karin Kanzuki?" Sean said, perplexed. "I didn't think you were one to go anywhere near commoners, unless it made you look good."
Karin huffed, and flipped her curly blonde hair arrogantly. While Sean had never met Karin in person, Laura, who briefly worked for her, had described her as "a good person, if she ever chose to let some of their arrogance go." Indeed, Sean could feel the arrogance exuding off her just by looking at her. She and her friends were dressed to the nines, with Karin in particular wearing a red dress that Sean could easily tell was not only custom, but probably cost twenty times more than any good suit he could afford.
"I and my friends are free to explore São Paulo as we please," Karin countered haughtily. "Just as you're free to keep getting stomped out in the qualifiers of every tournament you enter." She smirked smugly at Sean, who felt his temper flare up at Karin's comment. Sean opened his mouth to say something, but Enzo quickly got in Karin's face before he could utter a word.
"Yo, back off my cousin!" Enzo said to Karin. "He gets enough crap as it is, and I ain't taking anyone disrespecting my family in our store! So unless you're planning on buying something, you and little clique can go right back outside."
"Hey, take a pill, will ya?" One of Karin's friends spoke up. Sean instantly recognized her as Ibuki, a shinobi he fought in the World Warrior semi-finals. "We just came here to get a quick snack before going to a party, that's all. You can't get mad at us for walking in on your little 'dance recital.'" Ibuki's last remark got another laugh out of Karin. Sean glared at them, but Enzo held him back.
"Give him a break, guys," another woman with long, brown hair that Sean didn't quite recognize, spoke up. "Sean gets enough crap as it is from everyone else. Let's just find what we want, then head to the party."
Karin rolled her eyes, but nodded nonetheless. "Alright, if only because don't feel like getting this monkey's blood on my dress."
Sean growled, but Enzo started pushing him back towards the counter. "Don't," Enzo hissed. "I'm just as pissed as you are, but we can't touch her; she's too influential. Let's just stay behind the counter, and play it cool."
Sean grumbled, but heeded his cousin, and followed him around the counter. One of these days, I'm gonna get mine, and put all these naysayers to shame, Sean thought to himself. The young Shotokan fighter immediately slouched himself over the counter as soon as he was in the back. "Now I'm starting to regret leaving the house..." he muttered.
Enzo patted Sean's shoulder reassuringly. "Don't even trip, they'll be outta here soon enough," he said. Enzo turned his attention back to the store, jumping slightly when he saw one of Karin's friends standing in front of the counter.
"Damn, I didn't even see you walk up!" Enzo remarked as he caught himself. "How can we help you?"
"Actually, I wanted to apologize for Karin's remark," the woman said, looking down sadly. "I've known Karin for years, and never heard her say anything racist like that to anyone."
Enzo and Sean looked at each other in surprise before looking back at the woman. "We appreciate it, but you shouldn't be the one apologizing to us," Enzo said.
"Yeah, I didn't exactly make a good first impression to you four," Sean added. "I shouldn't have been so rude."
The woman sighed. "I know, but but even then, that doesn't give her the right to be racist." She looked back at Karin, who was currently being chewed out by the lone black member of their group. "At least Elena isn't letting that remark slide."
Something clicked in Sean's head, and took a closer look at Elena. "That's Elena?" he said, recognition blossoming on his face. "I thought she looked familiar. She's gotten taller from when I last saw her."
"You know her?" Enzo asked.
"Yeah, she's a capoeira fighter from Kenya," Sean replied. "We sparred a few times during the World Warrior tourney a few years ago, but never actually fought. She was a solid six feet flat then, but she's about 6'4" or 6'5" now."
"She any good?"
"I think she could honestly give Uncle Fabio a run for his money."
"Damn." Enzo looked at Elena with a determined glint in his eyes. "I'd like to see how her capoeira holds up against the family's."
The woman looked at Enzo with a confused expression. "I thought the Matsuda family style was Jujitsu?"
"It is," Sean answered, pushing himself upright. "But the Da Silva side of the family are capoeira masters."
"Then why do you use Ansatsuken instead of your family's styles?" asked the woman.
Sean gave her an odd look. "I fight with Shotokan," he said. "I don't use assassination arts."
The woman shook her head. "What you know as 'Shotokan' is the western term for Ansatsuken," she replied. "But in reality, Shotokan is its own distinct fighting style, and has nothing to with the style we use."
Sean and Enzo exchanged another look. "'We?'" Sean repeated. "You practice Shot- I mean, Ansatsuken, too? Who taught you?"
"Myself," the woman stated simply, stretching her arms. "I self taught myself by watching Ryu fight, kinda like how you mimic Ken by studying fights and his online courses."
Sean backed away from the woman in shock. Only Laura and Ken himself knew he took the online classes. "How the hell did you know that?"
"Ken told me" the woman said, smiling. "In fact, he's told me a lot about you, including your fights with Ryu."
The two cousins just stare at her bug-eyed, wondering who this woman was. The woman just giggled at their expressions.
"Of course, where's my manners? I should've introduced myself," The woman extended out a hand to the cousins. "I'm Sakura Kasugano. Pleased to officially meet you, Sean."
"What?!" Enzo exclaimed. "You're Sakura Kasugano? No way, you look way different from what I've seen!"
Sean looked Sakura up and down, and silently conceded that Enzo had a point. Once a somewhat skinny fighter, Sakura had become noticeably muscular and curvier, and had at least a good inch on Sean, though he chalked that up to the heels she was probably wearing. On top of that, her chestnut hair had considerably grown out from it's tomboyish short length to past her shoulders, and she wore a sparkly navy blue dress that was a far cry from her typically tomboyish look.
Sakura just shrugged nonchalantly. "It's been about a year or so since I've actively fought in tournaments, so I understand why most people get surprised when they see me," she replied.
Sean raised an eyebrow. "You're retired?"
"Not in the least," Sakura said, shaking her head. "I've just been too busy. Between college, and work, I've just had no time at all to do anything but train." Sakura sighed. "I'm starting to worry that I'm getting rusty."
Suddenly, Ibuki popped up seemingly out of nowhere right next to Sakura with an armful of snacks, startling everyone at the counter. "I wouldn't even sweat it, Sakura," the ninja said confidently. "Even on your worst day, you could still run circles around Dan Hibiki Jr."
Ibuki chortled at her wisecrack, ignoring the ice-cold glare Sean was giving her. Despite his growing desire to slug her in the jaw, he kept his composure, and folded his arms instead. "That's funny," he responded. "Because Dan Hibiki Jr. left you in a crumpled heap in the World Warrior semifinals."
Ibuki's laughter continued. "Please, you got lucky in that match," she countered. "A fluke victory doesn't give you much to gloat about."
Sean snorted at the ninja's bold-faced lie. "A fluke? That's funny, because I remember that I not only scored not one, but two perfect rounds off you, and I have it on good authority that you spent the rest of the tournament crying that you couldn't flirt with the men because I broke your nose, and left you a bloody mess."
Ibuki's face immediately switched from haughtiness to embarrassment in a split second from Sean's statement, her face turning tomato red in the process. Enzo and Sakura just laughed at her.
"Y'know, I'm not surprised at that reaction," Sakura said, giggling. "She had a rep for trying to cozy up to any cute guy she saw during the S.I.N. tournament."
"Sakura!" Ibuki shouted indignantly.
"Can't say I'm surprised," Sean laughed. "I saw her trying to flirt with just about every guy that wasn't twice her age."
Ibuki growled at Sean, getting mad. "You have some nerve talking shit, when your sister Laura is known as the tournament bicycle!"
At that crude remark, both Sean and Enzo leaned over the counter, and got in Ibuki's face.
"Say that again, I dare you!" Enzo yelled.
"Keep my sister's name out your mouth, you dusty bitch!" Sean hissed.
"Guys, please-" Sakura tried to pull Ibuki away, but the ninja shoved her off. By now, Elena and Karin had came over to see what the commotion was about.
"Don't get mad at me; it's not exactly a secret in the fighter circuit," Ibuki said. "Everyone's had a piece of her between fights. Hell, I even heard Dan of all people got a chance to-"
Ibuki never got to finish her sentence, because she suddenly felt a sharp stinging sensation in her skull, all of her snacks flew out of her arms, and she felt herself falling back, only to be caught by someone. When she regained her bearings, she could feel her ears ringing.
"Ibuki, are you okay?!" Elena asked worriedly. To Ibuki, she sounded like she was shouting from the other end of a long tunnel.
"Ngh," Ibuki grunted, and forced herself upright. "That bastard sucker punched me right in the face." She patted her nose lightly, and silently thanked the heavens that it wasn't broken. Karin, furious, stomped towards the counter, and grabbed Sean by his hoodie.
"How dare you hit one of my friends!" Karin screamed in Sean's face. "And a woman at that! And you want to be respected as a fighter, as absolutely disrespectful as you are, you goddamn monkey?!"
Sean shoved Karin off him. "Screw you, Kanzuki! I didn't come in here casually throwing racist slurs at you, or repeatedly insulting you and your family, so save me the holier-than-thou bullshit!"
"You insulted me first!" Karin countered.
"Let's just go, Karin," Sakura insisted, trying to keep what little peace was left. "It's not worth it."
"No!" Karin declared angrily. "I'm not going anywhere until these stupid monkeys give all of us an apology!"
"Get real, Freiza!" Enzo said. "The only thing you're gonna get from us is this!" He promptly flipped Karin off with both fingers. Karin grew angrier, and attempted to hit Enzo, but the capoeira fighter dodged it, and threw a quick punch of his own that caused Karin to stumble back. The cousins promptly leapt over the counter, but before they could fight, smoke suddenly filled the store, blinding everyone.
"What in hell?!" Enzo exclaimed. "A smoke bomb?"
"It's Ibuki!" Sean warned. "Watch your back!"
No sooner than the words had left his lips, Sean felt something sharp stab him in the side. Before he could react, a foot hit him in the jaw, knocking him down. Thinking fast, he used the momentum of his fall to roll himself back on his feet. The smoke began to dissipate, revealing Ibuki in her standard ninja gear, ready to fight.
How does she do that so fast? Sean wondered to himself. He tried to make a move, but he nearly doubled over, feeling sharp pain in his right abdomen. Looking at his side, he saw a kunai embedded about a inch into his ribs. Bracing himself, Sean grabbed hold of it, and pulled it out, causing more pain than it did before.
"Ugh, damn it!" he groaned.
"Stings, doesn't it?" Ibuki taunted.
"A bit," Sean admitted, holding his now-bleeding side. "But that's the only hit you're gonna get on me, tonight!"
"We'll see about that!"
Immediately, the store descended into chaos. Sean and Enzo took on Ibuki and Karin, while Elena and Sakura futilely tried to be the peacemakers. Enzo managed to hold his own against Karin's Kanzuki Style, forcing her to fight to a rhythm she wasn't used to. Karin managed to keep up by countering some of his attacks, but often found herself outpaced by the younger Da Silva.
Meanwhile, Sean dominated Ibuki, having memorized all of her old tricks from before. He took care to dodge all of the kunai's thrown his way, and focused on counter attacks, stopping her from using her smoke bombs and other items that would give her and edge. A mistimed kunai toss allowed Sean to slide in, and hit her with his signature two handed shoryuken, sending her into the air, and ricocheting off the ceiling, and back onto the floor. Throughout the fight, Sean felt something he couldn't describe inside of him fueling his rage. He wasn't quite sure what it was, but if it meant beating two of his naysayers tonight, he'd take advantage of it.
Sean then walked over to the dizzy Ibuki, and grabbed her by the hair, and dragged her back to her feet. Just as he reared back his hand to punch her, Ibuki, out of instinct, quickly placed a hand on Sean's chest. Immediately, her hand began to glow blue. Before Sean could register what was happening, he was sent flying into the produce stand with a ninjitsu blast.
"Sean, no!" Sakura screamed.
Lines of smoke could be seen coming off Sean's now exposed chest, his hoodie having been destroyed by Ibuki's attack. Groaning, Sean slowly started pulling himself up from the stand, but soon got stabbed by more kunai thrown into his arms and chest, causing him to fall to the floor in pain. Ibuki staggered over to him, carrying one of her kunai.
"Hah..." Ibuki panted. "So much for only getting one hit in, eh, Dan?" She looked down and smiled cockily at the novice fighter, who glared back.
"Don't call me Dan," Sean growled.
"Or what, Dan?" Ibuki questioned mockingly.
"Knock it off," Sean warned. The odd feeling inside of him was growing by the second the more Ibuki made him angry.
"You're not in a position to be making demands, Dan," Ibuki continued. "Face it, you're never going to be good enough to be a local level fighter, let alone World Warrior calibre. Even your own sister mocks your skills behind your back!"
Sean glared at Ibuki, his temper now white-hot. In that moment, the strange feeling that had been gnawing at him took over completely. With adrenaline pumping through his veins, he quickly leg-swept Ibuki to the floor, and rolled back onto his feet. He began pulling the kunais out of his arms and chest, but this time he felt no pain. In fact, unbeknownst to him, his injuries were beginning to heal, his eyes turned red, and his hands were glowing with a purple aura. Glancing up, he saw Ibuki coming at him, and side-stepped out of the way just in time to avoid another ninjitsu attack.
Ibuki continued to swing at him, but Sean managed to parry or dodge every attack effortlessly, as if it was by instinct. Growing desperate, she started swinging wildly at Sean, but ended up leaving herself open, allowing Sean to dodge her attacks, and hit her with a quick elbow to her stomach.
Quickly, Sean followed up with a powerful shoryuken to Ibuki's jaw, sending them both into the air.
The power of the shoryuken sent Ibuki flying through the wall of the store, and to the outside, startling several passerby and people who had stopped to watch the chaos through the glass doors. The loudness of it was enough to get Karin and Enzo to stop fighting and look over at Sean, who returned to normal as soon as he landed back on the floor. Sakura and Elena immediately ran outside to check on their fallen friend, while Enzo abandoned his fight, and ran over to his cousin.
"What the hell happened, Sean?!" Enzo exclaimed, looking at the Ibuki-sized hole in the store's wall.
Sean, breathing heavily, looked at the hole in the wall, his senses slowly coming back to him. Slowly, he surveyed the damage done to the store from their brawl, before looking at his cousin.
"I don't know, but my mom and your parents are going to kill us for all this mess."
No sooner than those words left his lips, the telltale sound of police sirens blared in the distance.
"...If the cops don't kill us, first."
Sean sighed as he leaned his head despondently against the bars of the cell that held him and his cousin. It had been just shy of an hour since the São Paulo police came to investigate the brawl at the store. Karin, being the wealthy owner of the Kanzuki Zaibatsu, was able to keep her and her friends from being arrested, leaving the cousins to take the fall for all the damage, plus potential assault charges. Both cousins were reluctant to contact their family, but Sean relented and did so, not wanting to spend the night in jail. Laura answered, and said she'd be right over, but Sean knew she was probably taking her time blabbering to the entire family.
Enzo fared little better, lying down on the cell bench. He was full of bruises from the fight against Karin, and was dreading the inevitable punishment his parents were going to give both of them. While he didn't regret the fight, he regretted not taking it outside, at least.
"I'm never gonna earn another cent working at the shop for the rest of my life," Enzo groaned.
"And I'm probably gonna end up joining you to pay off those damages," Sean said. "I'm sorry, man. I should've taken it outside instead of busting up the store,"
Enzo waved a hand lazily. "Don't sweat it," he said. "I'm just as guilty, plus they had it coming. You know I don't stand for any bullshit when it comes to the family, especially you. You get it bad enough."
"Yeah, but it doesn't justify us wrecking the store," Sean sighed. "Keeping it real, I'm more worried about the ass-whupping that awaits us when everyone bails us out, than whatever charges get laid on us."
"You ain't lying."
Several more minutes of silence passed between them, when they heard the telltale sound of shoes and heels clacking on the concrete floor down the hall.
"Here they come," Sean sighed, straightening himself up, waiting for the inevitable chewing out from his parents. But to his absolute shock, when his parents came into view, not only were there cops with them, but Karin as well.
"What the hell...?" Sean was perplexed. "What's Kanzuki doing here with our family?"
"Huh?" Enzo got up from the bench. "What're you talkin' about?"
"Karin Kanzuki is with our family!" Sean repeated, pointing to the blonde heiress walking next to Laura.
"You're kidding me..." Enzo muttered. "She must want something."
The cops opened up the cell, and both the Matsudas and Da Silvas rushed in, surrounding the two fighters, bombarding them with questions.
"What the hell happened?!"
"What were you two thinking?!"
"Do you know how much it's going to cost to repair that hole?!"
"Did you use Matsuda Jujitsu to beat her?"
"Everyone, please!" Enzo waved his arms. "Chill for a second, chill! We know you're far from happy with us about the fight, but we can't answer any questions until you calm down!"
"Calm down!? You two caused a fight in the store, put a giant hole in my store wall, and wrecked all of my fruit!" Pedro, Enzo's father exclaimed. "And you want me to calm down?!"
"'Caused'?" Sean responded, pointing at Karin. "We didn't cause anything! Kanzuki and her friends were the one who provoked us with racial slurs and other insults! And that's not even mentioning the fact that one of them calling Laura a whore!"
"Oh?" A visibly ticked Laura looked down at the shorter girl next to her, though her voice remained eerily calm. "Racism and calling me a whore, huh? I don't recall you or Ibuki mentioning that little detail earlier."
"He's exaggerating," Karin said smoothly, her haughty confidence unwavering. "We did insult him, but we didn't say anything that crude, I assure you."
"That's funny, because I distinctly remember that Ibuki girl calling Laura, and I quote, 'the tournament bicycle,' and even said everyone on the World Warrior circuit had a piece of her." Enzo folded his arms and looked at Sean. "Am I lying, bro?"
"Nah, that's exactly what she said," Sean confirmed. "In fact, that's what caused me to crack her in the first place."
Both families gave Karin such a cold glare, that the heiress was forced to back away in shame and mild fear.
"What's Kanzuki even doing here, anyway?" Enzo asked. "She walked off scott-free when we got arrested!"
"She paid your bail for us," Brenda, Sean's mother spoke. "She called Laura not long after Sean did, and told us her side of things, and offered to pay your bail as a olive branch. Of course, that was before we knew about the racism..."
"And I'm guessing there were strings attached to this sudden gesture of kindness?" Sean said half-sarcastically.
Brenda sighed tiredly. "Sean, please. It's been a long night-"
"No, I'm with Sean on this," Enzo said. "After tonight, there's no way she's paying our bail out of charity. We want to know what the catch is."
"Boys-" Brenda started, but Karin interrupted her.
"It's quite alright, Mrs. Matsuda," she said, walking towards the boys. "It's true, I do want something in return, but it's nothing severe, I assure you."
"Yeah, right," Enzo said. "You might have Laura on your payroll, but we're not gonna be your underpaid slaves just so you can get payback."
"Not in the least," Karin said. "I pay her and everyone else under my employ generously. Very generously, in fact. Not to mention that I would never make anyone under the Kanzuki Zaibatsu payroll do anything demeaning."
"Cut the crap, Kanzuki," Sean said. "We shouldn't even be entertaining you at this point. Speak your speech, or get out our faces."
A look of irritation flashed across Karin's face, but she quickly composed herself, and said, "In exchange for the Kanzuki Zaibatsu paying for your bail and damages, as well as myself and Ibuki personally dropping the assault charges, I personally extend the offer of being my personal assistants for the next few months to pay back the debts you both incurred."
The cousins stared at Karin like she was crazy. "You really think we're going to be your ass-kissers for the summer!?" Enzo exclaimed indignantly. "Especially after what you said to us?! Hell no! I'd rather serve time!"
"Okay, let's not talk crazy, bruh," Sean said to Enzo. Looking back at Karin, he continued, "While I don't fully agree with Enzo's sentiment, he's right. We're not going to be on your payroll just so you can get revenge on us. Besides, we got training to do for upcoming tournaments, and we're not gonna waste that time picking up after you."
Karin smirked. "Is that a fact? Then what if I offered to bring in Ken Masters to train you during your off time?"
"That won't be necessary," Laura spoke. "I was talking to Ken right before everything went down, and he already agreed to train Sean for the summer."
Karin gawked at Laura momentarily, before turning back to the Matsuda cousins, who had smug grins on their faces. Karin cursed herself for forgetting she was the reason Laura even had that connection with Ken Masters. Collecting herself, she decided to move on to her 'Plan B'.
"Alright, suit yourselves," Karin said, holding her arms behind her. "I won't force you to work, nor will I rescind my promise to pay for your store's repairs or drop the charges. However, you will come to regret taking the offer sooner than later."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Pedro asked warily.
"Nothing that concerns your dojos or businesses," Karin replied, making her way out of the jail. "Or your health, for that matter. Though, if I was Sean, I'd stay off the internet for about a month." And with that, she continued walk out of the jail. Sean glowered at her retreating form, but decided to let it go. Whatever she had planned, he figured couldn't be as bad as everything else he's gone through.
"Well, I guess we can finally call it a night," Enzo said, stretching his arms. "I can't wait to go home and-"
"Not so fast, Enzo," his mother, Luzia, interrupted. "The two of you are still on the hook for those damages you caused."
"What!" Enzo exclaimed. "But we didn't instigate the fight!"
"Doesn't matter," Pedro said. "While your anger was righteous, you still could've easily settled it outside, rather than tearing the store up the way you two did. So not only are you grounded for three months, I'm docking your pay at the store for the next month."
"But nothing!" Luzia interjected. "Consider yourself lucky that Kanzuki decided to uphold her promise, or every single one of your checks would've gone to repairs!"
Enzo sighed in defeat, and began rubbing his temples with his palms.
"As for you, Sean," Brenda said. "We're extremely disappointed in you. I understand you've had it hard in the fighting community the last couple years, but you didn't need to lash out like that!"
"What do you want me to do, sit there and be called a monkey, and let them insult my sister?" Sean retorted. "All I've been doing is being the bigger man, and I'm getting sick of it!"
"We understand, bro," spoke his older brother Fabio. "But this was a battle that didn't need violence. Karin's extremely influential, and she could completely ruin your fighting career over this."
"What's there to ruin?!" Sean snapped. "I get no respect from anyone aside from you guys, and even then, you always give me shit for being so bad! What the hell can she do?"
"Blacklist you from tournaments entirely, for starters," Laura said.
"So what? I'm already unofficially whiteballed from the big ones, anyway," Sean pointed out. "I don't give a damn what she tries to do at this point."
"I would, if I was you," Brenda said. "Regardless of whatever she does, you're grounded as well. And while you'll be permitted to train with Mr. Masters, you can't leave São Paulo, and you'll also have to do extra jujitsu training with your siblings and grandfather."
"What?! But that's not fair" Sean exclaimed. "I'll be too exhausted from training back to back like that!"
"I have to side with him there, Ma," Laura said. "Overworking him like that isn't a fair or just punishment."
Brenda sighed again. "Fine," she relented. "Maybe not that, but we'll talk about your punishment in the morning. Right now, it's too late, and I've spent more time in here than I've needed to."
"Agreed," Pedro said. "Let's go home."
The Matsuda and Da Silva families all exited the cell, and began making their way out of the jail. Sean silently regretted letting his frustrations get the best of him, and getting himself and Enzo arrested; though he had some small consolation in that his grandfather would likely be proud of him for standing up for the family name, and winning the fight.
If only he could remember what happened during the last half of it...
Wow, two whole years... I fucking suck at updating stories. In any case, with the 'rona destroying most of my music goals for this year, I have free time to revisit my stories and work on them, especially this one, since Sean gets shafted to high hell all the time, both in-universe, and in the SF fandom. I'm hoping I can keep this on the rails, and execute my ideas properly. Also, let me know if most of the other established characters are acting too out-of-character. I'm trying to keep it true to the games, but I made some tweaks for the sake of the story's plot.
Also, if you're curious about Sean's family outside of Laura, they're official secondary SF characters that haven't appeared in the games, but have profiles on Capcom's website, so all of the characters I'm using are canon compliant (so far).
And last but not least: Yes, Sean's freestyle was written by me. Not often I mix my hip hop stuff with fanfics, but it was fun.
Until next time, this is Afro Thunder, and peace to all of you in these crazy times. Leave a review if you liked/disliked this chapter.