Chapter 17

By The Lizard

Jin woke abruptly, jerking to try and sit upright and finding himself unable to. Arms stretched above his head, he heard the clink of metal links, and twisted as best he could to see what was hindering his movements.

Handcuffs? And why was he on the floor?

For a moment he wondered if Hwoarang had done this as some tasteless joke, but there was something else very wrong. From somewhere within the hotel suite, he could hear raised voices, those of Hwoarang and Lei arguing heatedly, and again he tried to sit up. Impossible, the cuffs were looped through an elaborate, wrought iron framework around the fireplace. He was well and truly stuck there. Growling softly under his breath, he paused to listen in to the fight.

"Back-stabbing son of a bitch!" Hwoarang's voice, sharp with a decidedly disgusted tone. "I should have guessed from the start!"

"Keep your trap shut, kid. Any louder and security will be up here." Lei's voice was laced with equal amounts of revulsion, as if he'd been waiting to snap at his younger opponent for years rather than the few weeks they'd known each other.

"Well maybe that's not such a bad idea you-!"

Something smashed, and Jin heard the sound of feet stumbling, a dull thud as a body hit a wall. Heart pounding at seemingly ridiculous speeds, Jin began to struggle with the cuffs, straining sleek muscles to no avail. Why did he feel so sluggish and heavy? Had Lei betrayed them? Was that was Hwoarang was accusing him of? He cursed under his breath, unable to believe it. Lei was honest, he'd never turn them in, but one thing was for sure, there'd be a hell of a fight soon if he didn't free himself.

"You want them to come up here and take you to jail? Is that it? You're more stupid than you look, filthy Korean street-rat!" Lei spat the words out venomously, and Jin decided it was about time to interrupt.

"Hwoarang! Where the hell are you? Lei? What's happening?" His voice sounded weak and dull to his own ears. He could barely make it loud enough for them to hear.

Neither of them answered, it was as if he'd never called at all.

"I won't let you take him!" Hwoarang's voice was lower, dangerous even, and with an edge of pain. "Do you know what Heihachi will do to him if he finds out? He'll have him on an operating table before night falls!"

"He already knows you fool. He's known as long as I have. Why do you think I've bothered putting up with you brats for so long? It's his orders."

"Hwoarang!" Jin called again desperately, almost exhausted from his efforts to free himself, his head pounding. There had to be some mistake.

"I'll kill you before I let you hand him over." Hwoarang hissed, and Jin could imagine the expression on his face, that perfectly predatory glare.

"Just try." Came the answer, full of self-confidence and half-restrained malice. Lei had never sounded so sinister.

No sooner had he answered than the inevitable sounds of the fight began, the pound of fists against flesh, the slam of bodies against walls, and the grunts and growls that spoke of sheer effort on the part of both combatants. Jin was at a loss. He couldn't get free to aid his lover, he knew any calls would be blanked out. Feebly, he strained against the handcuffs again, the clang of them against the metal making a terrible din.

He was startled by the sudden arrival of a body sliding across the smooth marble floor next to him, sent flying by some dreadful blow, blood smeared across the floor where the body had slid. Hwoarang lay there, eyes closed, vitae smeared on his chin and cheek.

He was vaguely aware when the change began. He felt it strengthening his limbs, reinforcing the subdued muscles and clearing his head. Then there was nothing. Jin's mind went blank.

The devil tore himself free of the handcuffs.

"Hwoarang, now!" Lei shouted, and the Korean leapt from the floor to snare the demon's legs, toppling it to the floor. A moment later and the cop had joined him.

Together they struggled with flailing limbs, ignoring the growls and snarls that the creature gave, taking any blows it managed to land upon them with resolute scowls. They couldn't afford to fail. Finally, it weakened enough for them to pin the devil securely, arms stretched over its head, wings beating uselessly against the floor, tattooed forehead creased with deep frown lines.

"Jin!" Hwoarang spoke firmly, breathing heavy as he struggled to maintain his grip. "Jin, damn it, come back!"

Lei remained silent, leaving this part of the battle to his young accomplice. He knew it would not be his voice that called the Japanese youth back into control.

"Listen to me Jin! Come back to me! Now! I want Jin! Wake up!"

Fierce eyes locked upon the Korean, blazing their hatred with that signature, preternatural glow. There was nothing even vaguely resembling the warm, calm eyes of the body's true owner. Still, Hwoarang persisted, demanding that Jin come back, jerking roughly at the arm he held to emphasise his shouts. Nothing seemed to work, and Lei began to think their plan a failure, tugging a tranquilliser-filled syringe out of the pocket of his slacks.

"Lei, not yet! We have to keep trying!" Hwoarang snapped, eyes wide as the cop tugged the cap off the syringe with his teeth, spitting it aside a moment later. It seemed Lei either didn't hear him, or chose to ignore him, intent on administering the drug. Hwoarang panicked, and just as he had in the hospital when Jin had started screaming, he smothered the devil's snarling lips with his own.

Initially there was resistance, a deep growl in the broad, black-marked chest, but it was only for a few seconds, and then the devil seemed to still. Hesitantly, fearful to see the result of this reckless move, Hwoarang opened his eyes. Staring back at him were drowsy, but distinctly normal brown twins. Jin's eyes, free of that demonic glow.

The Korean sat up sharply, not releasing his grip on the powerful body, and vaguely noting Lei's hushed exclamation of surprise. There was no mistaking that it was Jin looking up at him, Jin, still covered in bold, black tattoos and lying upon his own enormous wings.

"Hwoarang." The exhausted Japanese youth strained to speak, trembling beneath the hands that pinned him.

"Jin, you've done it." Came the quiet response. Hwoarang could see that his lover was terrified, and dared to reach upon and press a warm palm to his cheek. "Lei, let go."

The cop paused before doing as Hwoarang asked. As much as he wanted to believe that it had worked, he couldn't help but be wary. Both men let go of Jin, shifting away to give him enough space to sit up, which he did, slowly, and groaning softly as pain lanced through his back. It was only then that he caught sight of the wings, his eyes growing wide in horror as he stretched one of the flight appendages out experimentally.

"I want them gone." He murmured softly, trembling increasing, the other wing spreading as if of its own accord to match the stretch of its twin.

"Just stay calm, kid." Lei placed a firm hand on his shoulder, which Jin barely seemed to notice. "You're in control now, let's keep it that way."

"Get them off me." Jin whispered, a little more frantic this time, twisting around to see them better. "Get them off!"

"Jin, listen to Lei, just try and be calm." Hwoarang knew how pointless his words were. How could he ask him to stay calm? He could feel his gut constricting as he began to panic, watching his lover slowly lose what little control he possessed.

All at once, Jin reached for the wing in his left shoulder, grabbing it as close to his skin as he could and trying desperately to tear it out. Hwoarang yelled for him to stop, but by then, Jin was past caring. Black feathers clouded the air as he tore at them in great handfuls, trying to grip at the flesh and bone beneath, raking at the skin with his nails. As one, Hwoarang and Lei grabbed him again, forcing him onto his back. Before Jin could even begin too protest, the needle had plunged into his wrist, its contents forced into his blood stream.

It wasn't long before he was out cold.

Several hours had passed, and still Jin had not woken. The wings had disappeared as they had before, the tattoos fading out of existence, not a trace of them on his skin. Hwoarang lay on his stomach next to the sleeping man, watching him like a hawk for even the slightest hint that he might be stirring. Lei smiled faintly at that, glancing up from his newspaper to watch the two, who were occupying his bed. The Korean's concern amused him, it seemed completely at odds with his fiery temperament, but the cop didn't bother to comment. He didn't want to start arguing now.

"Why isn't he awake yet?" Hwoarang murmured quietly, his eyes never once straying from the sprawling form beside him.

"It exhausts him apparently, the change I mean. It happened before, so with the added effect of the tranquilliser, it'll probably take even longer." Lei folded the paper up and tossed it aside, slumping back in the chair with a yawn. He wanted to go back to sleep, but he knew there would be plenty of questions when the kid woke up.

"Do you think he'll be angry?"

The cop shrugged. Jin was a smart boy, once he'd heard their explanations he'd understand it was for the best. He hoped.

Hwoarang had initially been set against the plan, determined that he wouldn't lie or trick Jin in anyway, but he'd been won over eventually. It seemed the only feasible plan afterall, how else would they have provoked Jin into turning? It had to be believable, and it had to be something that would stir his emotions. Hwoarang was the only person Lei had ever seen Jin truly care about. There had been no other choice.

"You know, you don't make much sense to me." The cop mused out loud, and was suddenly under scrutiny from a curious Hwoarang.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean just that. You're supposed to be some self-centred hustler, and you go and fall in love with him. Who'd have thought it, eh?"

Hwoarang snarled at him, only keeping his voice down because he didn't wish to disturb Jin.

"Who said I was in love with him?" He snapped, hissing through his teeth.

"You mean you're not?" Lei asked dubiously. It seemed like a blatant lie to him. Why else would the Korean have stuck around this long if he felt nothing?

"I-I don't know!" Hwoarang actually stammered, and buried his face in the quilt as he felt his cheeks turn red. "Mind your own business!" He added, voice so muffled that Lei just had to chuckle. With a sigh, the Korean sat up again, peering at Wulong over Jin's shoulder. "Sometimes I think I am, but then it seems stupid. I haven't even known him that long. Besides, it's too cliché, everyone says it and they don't mean it."

Lei shrugged again, still wearing that little smirk.

"Who says you have to have known him for years? What does it matter if it's cliché?" He stood up, wandering out of the door, his voice echoing slightly in the corridor beyond. "If you love him, you love him."

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