Today, I've decided to carve out another piece of my story to put it in here. The second protagonist can be considered the 'jock' stereotype of western culture, except with much different traits, and of course, genre-defying background:
"“It’s a constant torture that’s been driving me mad through my desire for knowledge,” Xavier reflected as he watched raindrops from the sky streaking past the beam of his flashlight, reminding him of his ocean. They had reached the foot of the knoll they had conquered and left in the dust. A small stream had followed them, stopped at the base just like them. It was another reminder to Xavier of his intellectual stagnation.
“But it’s not just that, isn’t it?” Ziv said. Xavier nodded and concurred with his assessment. It was the beginning of true understanding where previously they had to be content knowing but the surface of each other.
“I understand, I mean, we all have what we want, right?” Ziv continued, “I just happened to be at the right place.”
“But let me tell you, at least you get to do everything you want, no pressure,” the more buff of the two went on. “I may be where I want, but they’re always a message or phonecall away. Or a room away when I’m at home. They want me to rise through the ranks, become a general or admiral or the commissioner of police one day. I’m happy anywhere, really, and happier still if I get to do things with the men. I’d be very happy even if the highest rung of the ladder I ever get to touch is the Colonel seat.”
“Who are ‘they’, anyway?” Xavier asked, his curiosity aroused. They may not be diving in an ocean, but the straits would do just fine.
They were on the half-way mark of their patrol route. Ziv did not answer immediately, but tried to radio in their progress despite the radio’s non-functionality, hoping that Xavier was right about the speaker.
“Not just my parents. The entire clan. That’s how it is when you’re part of a rich Peranakan family,” Ziv finally fed Xavier a morsel to satisfy his info-hunger. The latter security trooper could feel that there was more from where it came from. Ziv wasn’t answering merely for his sake, but his own. “My ambition isn’t my own, and neither is my love. Have you ever fallen in love with a girl, Xav?”
Something clenched inside Xavier’s guts, between stomach and intestines or gullet and stomach. He couldn’t tell, and uncertainty unsettled him. What he knew was that he hated talking about love.
“Y–yes. I guess. Yeah,” Xavier blurted out. He had wanted to lie about it, but knew in the end that it was truth that will set one free.
“Is that right?” Ziv questioned not just the person, but also his reply, incredulous. The thought of Xavier with a girl, if nothing else, had put a smile on his face. He was always used to the idea of Xavier the Hermit, the scientist who was madly in love with his books and test tubes and projects. Not that he thought there was anything wrong with that, of course. “How was it like?”
“Well, I urm, it was, urm,” Xavier tried to start, his mind tunnelling back into the past, but he had regressed to bashfulness as a side effect. “There was this girl, Nina, in secondary school. I kinda liked her. Told her as much on Valentine’s Day in secondary four. I think I was a little too honest and open about it. It didn’t work out.”
“Did you see her again after secondary school?” Ziv interjected, impatience seeping in. Ziv thought the cold and wet environment was getting to him, if the monster of earlier didn’t.
“Yes. Yes, I did. I saw her again in class reunion a year ago. We were at the chalet, and we went outside to sit. And talk. And look at the night sky.”
“Romantic,” Ziv commented in between Xavier’s words.
“No, not at all. For all my knowledge of the sciences and the universe, I was still stupid with my mouth. I couldn’t shut up about the age of the universe and the stars and the probability of earth-like planets, and I’m not even an astronomer,” Xavier lamented with clenched teeth. Ziv thought that, at the very least, the conversation was distracting them from the grip of shadows and fear. “She gave me a peck on the cheek and told me that I’m the kind of guy girls are looking for. Then she got up and left. That was it.”
“Lucky you,” Ziv said. Xavier turned abruptly at him.
“How is that lucky?” Xavier said with disbelief riddled in his eyes and voice.
“Like I said, my love isn’t my own. There were girls I love, not just one, but out of all of them, there was only one I thought I could live with forever, have kids with, that kind of stuff. She’s not the one my family wants me to marry,” Ziv explained, his eyes turned down in reflection as he did, even as they were walking over rough terrain. His auto-piloting instincts were doing a fair job as his mind was burdened with an old chain. “Too poor, too independent. That was just before NS, too.”
“Arranged marriage?” Xavier ventured to guess. Ziv nodded gingerly.
“Yeah, impossible to believe, right? Right here in the twenty-first century,” Ziv spat, anger creeping into his voice, though it wasn’t quite his own. He had been angry for a long time, and he was done being angry about it a few months ago. Now, it was just sadness and grim acceptance, or at least that was what he was supposed to feel. Something was making him mad again.
“I suppose it’s been done for a long time, so there’s bound to be some of it still left in the twenty-first century,” Xavier theorised, though he couldn’t say he knew about human culture confidently. “There’s still such a thing in China, right? And amongst the Malay?”"
Okay, it shows a little more about Xavier as well, and not enough on Ziv. Other parts of the story is supposed to shed light on Ziv's background. You get bits and pieces along the way... But long story short, Ziv is supposed to be a rich dude who's athletic and wants to do something that's military or police-related. A jock, but he's not going to be brainless and all muscles. In terms of intellectual pursuits, he's good when it comes to language. Furthermore, he's not a womaniser, but someone who's forced to give up true love for a girl his family chose. Yep, he's an Asian spin on the jock who's mired in family politics. He's a Peranakan high-born.