Volume 12, Interlude D: Kuan’s Other Interests

“Oh, weird to see you two together,” I remarked, seeing Zhuyu and Kuan spar with each other.

I just returned from a quick training excursion Tess assigned me. Both men moved at a slow pace, practicing moves. Kuan raised his right hand and the zero vector user paused. Zhuyu watched his friend demonstrate a kick and then mimicked it. Kuan shook his head, performing the same motion once more. The math major nodded to himself, trying again.

“What are you guys doing?” I entered the training area.

“Teaching Long how to be badass,” Kuan replied.

“Sounds like something Kisai would say,” I pointed out.

“Huh, it does actually. That’s not good. Long wanted to practice his kicks and Tess has a mandatory weekly practice quota imposed for me. So, here I am,” Kuan revealed.

“Still weird that you guys are here practicing. I expected Zhuyu to pick Kyoi for something like this,” I commented.

“What are you talking about, Tomo? Long and I are great buddies!” Kuan responded.

“Right. I’ll sit back and observe. See if I can learn anything,” I said, picking a nearby bench.

“Probably not a lot. I’m pretty bad,” Zhuyu said.

Kuan wielded his knife, closing the distance between himself and Zhuyu. He thrust his blade forward multiple times, aiming for Zhuyu’s stomach and chest. Zhuyu avoided all of them, but stumbled on his last dodge attempt. The tip of Kuan’s blade hovered centimeters away from the man’s chest.

“Watch your footwork. Darryl messes up on that too,” Kuan advised.

They went through the same routine again and Zhuyu maintained his balance this time. Kuan then handed Zhuyu his knife before glancing over at me.

“Wanna learn how to disarm someone with a knife?” Kuan pointed at his friend.

“Yeah, would be useful,” I replied.

“There are a bunch of different ways but I’ll show you two. Darryl knows how to do the first one,” Kuan said.

Zhuyu brandished the weapon, closing the distance between himself and Kuan. Kuan grabbed his opponent’s arm immediately, striking him in the elbow, causing the blade to fly out of his grasp. He then kicked Zhuyu’s calf, forcing him to the floor. Kuan maintained his hold on Zhuyu’s arm with his right hand and then pulled out another knife with his left. He stabbed downward, not making contact, at his friend before releasing him.

“That was way too fast,” I observed.

“Just showing you what it looks like for now. You can get more details from Darryl and Shigetzu at the training camp. Here’s the next one,” Kuan said.

Zhuyu retrieved the knife, thrusting it at Kuan again. Once the hero pulled back from his first stab, Kuan kicked him in the stomach. He then knocked the knife out of his friend’s hand with a swift strike.

“Zhuyu, you good?” I checked in on the man.

“Of course. This is nothing compared to the other s*** I’ve been through. Come on, let’s finish up for the day,” Zhuyu replied, giving me a confident nod.

Half an hour later, the two men concluded their training for the day. They mostly practiced kicks, exchanging blows with each other. Kuan unstrapped his knee pads, tossing them to the ground before lying on the ground in exhaustion.

“I’m gonna f****** die,” the man lamented.

“You’re fine, Kuan. It’s not like this is your first time or anything,” Zhuyu dismissed his friend’s concern.

“F*** you, Long. I’m dying, help me!” Kuan shouted out in mock pain.

Zhuyu offered his hand, hauling the man upward. Kuan leaned on Zhuyu’s shoulder, his breathing still heavy. The zero vector user assisted Kuan over to a bench, dropping him onto it.

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“You know, this is the first time I’ve actually seen both of you go for this long,” I realized.

“There’s a reason why I don’t,” Kuan remarked, drinking a bottle of water.

“I’m barely any better. I’ve just managed to get my cardio back up to the point where I don’t get destroyed by Feng’s training,” Zhuyu said, checking something on his phone.

“How did you guys meet?” I thought of a good question to ask while both were present.

“Online dating,” Kuan responded right away.

“You wish. Freshman year of high school, had the same class together. Started talking, found out we had the same interests and here we are now,” Zhuyu revealed.

That wasn’t too surprising. Kuan was a weirdo, sort of like Ko. Actually, all the heroes exhibited certain quirks. It was off-putting at first but I was used to it by now. After meeting everyone from Lilith’s side, it was nice that everyone had their character traits that made them stand out.

“Oh, they actually won today,” Zhuyu said, showing Kuan his phone.

“Yeah, but they had a thirteen game losing streak before that. Started out so well too,” Kuan said.

“It’s what happens when the entire team is rookies and bad free agent signings,” Zhuyu said.

“What are you talking about?” I was confused by their conversation.

“Baseball,” Zhuyu answered.

“This is… both of you?” I stared at them.

“Yeah, baseball’s cool. Teams sucks but the game is fun,” Kuan replied, finally sitting up.

“Never expected sports to be a topic that you two would talk about,” I said.

  “Tomo, we aren’t just dirty weebs,” Kuan responded.

What do you expect of me if all I hear you talk about is anime or visual novels? I should have known that there was more to Kuan than just that. My first meeting him didn’t help sway my preconceived notions. Still, Kuan was one of the more resourceful members of the team. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that his range of knowledge was so vast, especially when it came to combat.

“When did you start getting into it?” I asked.

“Kuan’s been a fan longer than I have. I went to a couple of baseball games when I was younger, but didn’t really understand how it all worked. I really started to watch starting sophomore year of high school,” Zhuyu replied.

“Middle school for me. Used to play soccer before my knee got messed up. Got into it when we played it for gym class,” Kuan disclosed.

“Wait, your knee got messed up?” I stared at him in surprise.

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It was hard to imagine that the person sitting in front of me was a former athlete, even if it was at the middle school level. Just didn’t match up at all with what I knew about him, despite learning more about the man over these past few months.

“Injured it during a playoff game during my last year of middle school. It’s fine now but can’t do anything too crazy,” Kuan explained.

“Seems like you’re fine now though. Is it really that much of an issue?” I recalled seeing Kuan perform a myriad of kicks and different motions that involved stress on his legs.

“That’s why you don’t see me do crazy flips like Lionel does. Standard kicks are fine,” Kuan pointed out.

“Interesting. Zhuyu, how did you even get into sports? You don’t seem like the type at all,” I questioned.

“Video games. Learned the basic rules from playing MVP, great game, too bad they don’t make it anymore. Stuck with trash on PC. The Show is the only one that’s kept on going,” Zhuyu answered.

“Sucks it’s only on consoles too. Would be great if they could make something like that for the computer,” Kuan commented.

Baseball did involve numbers so it made sense for Zhuyu to delve into it. Kuan’s like of it was more of the outlier. The heroes kept on surprising me with their hobbies and interests. At this point, it really shouldn’t faze me anymore. I chatted with the two men before heading to the locker room. After a quick shower, I grabbed my bag and headed back out into the main training facility area. The two men were still there, playing a game on their portable gaming systems.

“Monster Slayer?” I peeked at the contents of their dual screens, noticing armored individuals sprinting away from a large beast.

“Oh, you know about it, Tomo,” Kuan said.

“Yeah, I’ve heard about it from Shan and Zhuyu. I’ll see you guys later,” I said, heading toward the exit.

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