It was New Year's Eve, laughter flooded the streets of China. Everyone was in some sort of costume or traditional clothing.
Kimonos fluttered as dragons roamed the streets, music drowning out conversations anyone tried to make near the one of many parades.
Confetti rained down upon any surface it could find, colorful lanterns and stalls lit up the area giving off positive moods.
Children ran around wearing animal masks chasing each other playing games. Yes, all of China was alive tonight.
"Charlie! Hurry up you'll miss the dragon!"
"Yeah, I heard that if you miss seeing the parade dragon on New Year's Eve you'll get a year of bad luck! Don't want that do you?" yelled Nikki. His twin sister nodding in agreement.
The twins didn't waste any time waiting for Charlie, each taking a hand they dragged her to the front of the crowd. Just in time to see a dragon pass.
Gold were his scales, fierce eyes flicked around, neck swayed back and forth marching proudly down the road with a band and dancers close behind.
Smoke puffed out of his nostrils as he blinked a few times before letting out an earth shaking roar.
''Damn! They even got the roaring to sound real!" Nikki shouted over the band that was passing along joined by the cheers of onlookers.
Charlie looked at the nineteen-year-old twins as they stared at the parade in front of them in awe. Naturally since they were twins both had the same auburn hair and dark hazel eyes.
Nikki was six foot three, while Lucy was only five foot five. They had similar facial structure, high cheekbones, slightly prominent jawline, and a pretty normal nose.
Tan, sun kissed skin made everyone around them question where they were from, they didn't seem bothered by it when asked of their heritage.
''CANDY!'' Nikki took off to the candy stall he noticed nearby. Charlie shook her head as Lucy chased after him yelling at him to come back.
She soon made it to the duo after much toe stepping, cursing, and apologizing.
"How many times have I told you not to bolt off the split second you see candy! At least give us a heads up before you leave!" scolded Lucy while Nikki gave Charlie a pleading look.
An amusing sight since Lucy had to crane her head back in order make eye contact with him. Finally, Charlie cut off Lucy’s rant by placing her hand on her shoulder.
"Lucy, its Chinese candy...
it's magical and if we don't buy it we shall never be able to get into relationships along with that we will be cursed by hideous goblins constantly trying to court us for all eternity.
We must buy it." Nikki gave her a thumbs up nodding his head in agreement. Lucy sighed in defeat. Wordlessly she gave Nikki some money before letting him pick some candy.
Charlie picked at the sleeve of her cherry blossom patterned shirt, hanging back as the twins moved on to another stall.
She didn't really feel going from one stall to another and was content with staying where she was till Nikki and Lucy came back.
''It seems that your friends have left you. Hurry, follow them before you lose them entirely.'' A soft, light voice reached Charlie’s ears.
Turning around she saw that the candy stall vendor stared at her with light brown eyes saying they knew something that she did not.
Shrugging, Charlie turned her attention back to the stall's inventory knowing that her friends won't go far without her.
"Ah, so you wish to stay? Then may I recommend some good luck candy?" Wrinkled hands gestured to a small box filled with lined, white clay jars.
Charlie picked one up out of curiosity examining the label. A hand painted crane was surrounded by cherry blossoms, tree branches, and bamboo leaves.
Around the neck of the bottle was a thread of red and white twisted around giving a candy cane pattern was tied around it with a charm of the Japanese kanji symbol for friendship engraved into
a small, flat pebble.
"That shall give you good luck for the crane is painted on it. Cranes are the symbols of happiness, love, peace, and longevity. The symbol on the pebble charm means friendship.
But it seems you have yet to meet this friend.
" Charlie gave the elderly man a puzzled look before re-examining the jar she found that neatly painted in black paint on the bottom of the jar was more Japanese writing.
"Excuse me sir, but what does this mean?Also, why are you selling Japanese products in China?" She showed the vendor the word. When he saw it he smiled.
"It means "new". By the looks of what's on the jar you shall meet a new friend soon giving you happiness, love, peace, and longevity.
When you do meet them looks will deceive you but in the end the bond you form will live for entirety." He handed the jar back to Charlie saying "This is quite the find. Take it with no charge."
"You didn't answer my Japan question" Charlie pulled put her wallet, attempting to buy the jar anyway. A wrinkled hand paused her actions. Smiling warmly, he shook his head.
He bowed to her and she bowed in return. As she did her elbow accidentally hit a small glass container knocking it over. The light crash caught both of their attention.
Noticing the glass fragments Charlie gasped while the stall vendor chuckled. "Sadly I am going to charge you for that. ‘You break it, you buy it.' as the saying goes."
A male voice reached Charlie before she could even pull out the money. "There's no need for that. I'll pay for it."
The mystery man handed a handful of money to the old man.
"Thank you Stian, kind as always." Accepting the change the vendor disappeared behind a curtain no doubt putting the money in a safe. Blue eyes shifted to Charlie.
"May I ask where you are from?" Asked the young man? It was hard to tell if he was a young man or teenager. His icy blue eyes were hidden underneath light, blond lashes.
His hair was the same color. Cut short but was long enough to let your fingers run through it. Spiked up at every angle possible, having a messy unkempt look. It somehow suited him.
His pale skin made him almost look ghostly.
"I'm from originally from Norway but moved to America five years ago. My two friends are from America. I'm currently staying with them for the year." Charlie answered with a forced smile.
She didn't really feel like talking to anyone at the moment.
"From Norway you say? I happen to come from Germany. My name is Stian." He offered his hand. Charlie shook it forcing out her name as politely as possible.
"So what are you doing here?"
"My friends have relatives here and decided to visit for the New Year.
Um, why are you wearing armor?
" Charlie noticed that Stian's simple navy blue robe was open showing underneath that he adorned a light armor chest plate stained black over a long sleeved black shirt with equally black pants.
His shoes were leather and looked more like socks. Brass knuckles, and tiger claws decorated his hands. Clearly he was dressed and armed as a ninja.
"Oh, I was performing a ninja part for some play me and my friends did for the kids. It was fun.'' He smiled, eyes lighting up.
Then shaking his head he glanced at Charlie, something gleaming in his eyes.
"See you later Charlie!" Stian suddenly called over his shoulder as he took off into the crowd.
"Uh…bye?" Charlie watched as Stian go. Once again, she was alone. Having no idea where her friends were or if she should even look for them.
She stood next to the stall awkwardly, until a pair of arms coiled around her waist, lifting her up, and spinning around until she screamed for mercy.
"Nikki! Stop!'' She gasped out in between laughs. Her shoulders shook violently as she tried to calm herself.
Nikki casually asked, "So...Who was that boy you were talking to? He looked good."
"Hey Nikki, before you go flirting with random guys please take note that he may not be gay." Lucy came up.
"I know that!" Nikki huffed crossing his arms pouting like a child.
"I don't know who he was Nikki. He said his name was Stian."
Lucy adjusted her purse on her shoulder. "That's very informative."
"He did also say he's from Germany but that's it. A name and a place."
"That actually sounds creepy but we're not here for creepy. We're here for fun! To the docks everyone!" With Nikki leading the way, the trio took off running till they reached the docks.
Breathes were held as the countdown began. The closer the clock ticked to zero the more tense everyone became. Charlie, Nikki, and Lucy managed to push their way to the front.
Ensuring that they got the best view of the night.
"Hey, is my camera working?
“I don’t know! Just use your phone!”
“Will you two just shut u-.”
"HAPPY NEW YEAR!" Echoed throughout China, fireworks lit up the sky, fire crackers whistled as they sent sparks in the air.
Hugs were passed, kisses shared, and everyone cheered for a good year. To wrapped up in the fireworks show, it took Charlie a minute to notice that her arm was being shaken violently.
"Charlie! Charlie! It's him! It's him!'' Nikki chanted excitedly.
"The boy you were talking to earlier! See!" Pointing enthusiastically to a familiar ninja, Charlie saw sure enough, Stian was standing nearby talking to a male.
Charlie tilted her head to the side in curiosity.
Why did she get the nagging feeling that they will see each other again? Glancing down at the clay jar in her hands, Charlie recalled the old man’s words.
“By the looks of what's on the jar you shall meet a new friend soon giving you happiness, love, peace, and longevity.” Charlie furrowed her brows.
“I’ll never see him again.” Nodding her head in attempt to confirm her thoughts, Charlie tucked the jar into her string bag.
Returning attention back to Lucy and Nikki battling over who will win the prize at some game stand, she smiled.
“Yeah, never see him again.”