An Imperfect Circle
Jin didn't know if his memories of his first ventures with Hwoarang had truly been as mysterious and exciting as he remembered them, of if time was simply buffering the memories with the shine of importance and respect, turning them into embellished trophies. Regardless, he was eager to capture the spirit again, only in part to make up for lost time. Jin was a free man now; a kite with no strings-- simply a plain, hooded coat. He and Stacy were staying in a cramped but warm apartment and had no transportation, but Jin was glad for the excuse to be met by Hwoarang on his bike. Now that they were driving through the night in the thriving city, he tightened his grip on Hwoarang's waist from behind, smiling even through the chill in the air, exacerbated by speed.
The ecstasy speed was a return to something: that trust in a power between Hwoarang's legs. His shining, classic Harley girl had offered him the ecstatic highs of adrenaline when their love was fresh, and in some way the Korean came to associate the quality of that high with that given by Kazama Jin; but two years ago loss and desolation vitiated the experience to such a degree that a number of auctions threatened the motorcycle's home. Earlier even, when Hwoarang had put his hands to the handlebars, he strained to feel their purity again. There was still too much to say, there were still impurities to be dissolved. Returning to the old Yurei District, that hollowed out, former business hub of Tokyo that had given the gang holding turf there a name in the past, was a conscious choice Hwoarang made. Truncating their ride at the cement park banded in metal, a place that held its familiarity in the dark, stained gravel rain wouldn't cleanse, he let the bike purr as he spoke.
"Remember this place?"
"It's almost exactly how it was before." Jin detached himself from both Korean and Harley, and he rediscovered that part of himself that had always liked to return to a grounded standstill after such journeys. For a short time after trips on the bike it still felt like the earth was rushing disoriented beneath him. Now, though, having endured so much of Stacy's hellish driving, he regained his bearings quickly. Turning away, he gazed about the district and continued, "But I guess I wouldn't really know. You wanna grab a drink..?" He realigned himself to face Hwoarang again, a natural habit.
A horror incapable of being defined by either the being harboring it or the agent of it remained a horror nonetheless, and the Korean's face was fixed with it. When he found that he was staring at an innocent recollection of one of the most terrifying events in his life, Hwoarang ran his fingers through the reddish needles of his hair as a reassurance for them both: a semblance of normalcy. And his eyes returned to the stain of the deceased, potent enough to force another separation. Because Hwoarang loved too much, he remained silent. He didn't speak up for Kim, or for Hachi, because love rarely espoused morality when it came under duress. "Yeah. My .. my mouth's dry." Kicking down the bike's stand, he eased off the seat, eased his unsteady hands in his pockets. The frailty of them angered him.
The funny thing about being on top of the world was that, it was difficult to keep perspective. So high up, everyone looked like a little swarming ant; which was perhaps a proper, even an admirable way to think. Except it proved too easy to forget that even the smallest ant had pinchers. Mishima Kazuya had vowed never to make that mistake again. Now, the perspective from the top of a building was much more manageable. He felt the contracting, popping of bones rubbing against each other, the pain-in-reverse of flesh sewing itself shut, and he paced to the end of the abandoned rooftop to look over the meadow of concrete with eyes which had lost all semblance of humanity; hellfire rimmed, fueled by hateful dedication. That gaze never wavered. My flesh ... his thoughts hissed and steamed, trying to grasp at them was like grasping at hot mist. My blood... Kazuya's mouth twisted up in a semblance of a grin, mirthless and libertine. My chance to be on top again.
Black trenchcoat billowed like a flapping of dark wings as Kazuya turned, another dark shadow in the multitude which gathered under the brooding gaze of the Mishima Financial Headquarters. He spared half a glance for the building, still feeling his heart lurch inside him, his stomach drop. Kazuya had known horror too - but his horror could be defined, it had a source, and he could fantasize that he saw, in the distance, a spiked head framed by the light of infamy, of treachery...the silhouette nonetheless making a perfect target. One scarred hand gripped the edge of the rooftop and trenchcoat swirled again, startling a roosting pigeon as Kazuya vaulted, and dropped, soundlessly into a dingy alley. Who the hell was that Korean...? He looked disposable, without question. Jin would need to be instructed on appropriate companions...before he was drawn and quartered.
Jin's concern was mute but thorough and noble, and he moved to Hwoarang in order to hold his shoulder and rub it with strong, coarse fingers. He offered a smile that would, if nothing else, remind the redhead of a certain and limitless love.
"Let's go wherever you want." Recently Jin was suspicious that he was growing too reliant on his hooded jackets and sweatshirts; they had started as a means of laying low in Alice Springs, and before he realized it he was donning them without thought. Someone had once told him that jackets raise the body's normal temperature so that without them, it begins to feel cold. At the moment he wasn't sure if that was happening, or if the weak breeze now threading between buildings and over pavement had truly developing a subtle but noticeable bite. He shrugged his shoulders, adjusting the garment's hang on them.
Having his own reflexive concern, Hwoarang claimed a hold on Jin's wrist before he removed his comforting hand and tangled their fingers with a possessive tenacity: possession that would amplify the atoms of irrationality in the Korean's being if challenged. He drew Jin against his body and tacked a hot, speaking kiss to the corner of his compliant mouth.
"I'm afraid for you in places. I'm suddenly not thinkin' .. " Postering Jin's hip with one of his hands, Hwoarang sought out his eyes. " .. going out somewhere is a good idea. Anyone might see you."
Kazuya's eyes burned with the vision before him. His figure paused at the lip of the buildings, watching that unexpected, unwarranted kiss play itself out. He supposed that perhaps this was a result of the boy being raised solely by his mother...the traitorous bitch. Jin had too much of his mother in him. But still..."I believe you have something of mine." The voice was harsh, grating...it sounded as though it too was coming from a great depth, darker even than the alley at Kazuya's back, studded and wracked with long-felt anguish. The demonic figure stepped toward his unknown child slowly.
There was something disturbing in the new readiness with which the warmth melted from Jin's face, turning it calm but closed and hard. Of course it was not directed to Hwoarang, but to that voice, its hostility blatant enough. Jin moved back from Hwoarang and even slightly between him and their visitor, who he now patiently faced. And then the unforgiving, artificial light had caught Kazuya's face and Jin's inner composure was gone. No one had ever described Kazuya to Jin, and yet Jin knew in an instant, without a doubt, that it was the second Mishima approaching. His staring eyes were veiled by the shadow of his hood, which he did not remove. As Jin remembered, one by one, the atrocities done by Kazuya and his bloodline, the shattered pieces of his confidence were reassembled in an entirely different and new way.
"You don't have anything," he said.
What the -- "You'd better just fuck off, buddy -- " Hwoarang started up with a vociferous note in his voice, obviating the fact that his reaction was instinctive, formed in split-second periods, and that he probably didn't hear one word Jin said. Hwoarang knew what it looked like, and he didn't let Jin's hand go, even when Jin moved to the fore and stood between him and -- "We're not sellin' shit to perverted fucks." -- the man whose mouth and nose and brow and hair bore a striking resemblance to things Hwoarang had ran his tongue over that morning. Exploding from his mouth, the words froze in icy wonderment amidst them all, and the slim Korean looked from the interloper's red-eyes to Jin's hardened ones, eyes that were just that red at this exact place, in the sockets of a beast that killed two people and jetted through the sky clutching Hwoarang by his ankle. He questioned Jin with a tightened grip, and tasted a sourness not unlike bile at the back of his mouth.
"But you do." Kazuya drew himself up, the streetlight forming a synthetic halo of electric, manufactured glory. It was the only semblance of goodness the second Mishima could ever hope to acquire. "Mishima Jin...am I correct?" Red eyes gazed down an imperious nose, shooting a glance aimed to cut through Jin's flesh and between those interlocked fingers. Arms folded over a scarred chest covered with shirt and coat but still aching, burning, and feeling hideously revealed, here in the presence of one over whom he had suffered so much...in an abstract sense. "You know who I am? You. Who are you?" Red glare caught and stabbed through Hwoarang then, taking in the spiked hair, the sleek build and militant garb, and the troubling proximity to Kazuya's offspring. It was not at all a protective or even a concerned vibe which made him advance upon the...couple. It was an impulse born of necessity, for no one would stand between himself and his son's body, especially a scrawny, filthy Korean. He stopped several feet away to re-assess the situation.
Jin rubbed the flesh of Hwoarang's hand with his thumb, torn between the two men; for very different reasons he felt it unsafe to let either go ignored. But he took comfort in the fact that he himself was here between the pair, for that meant that nothing would befall Hwoarang. It was that simple. Before Hwoarang could reply Jin did so for him, with his own question.
"How are you here."
That question called up more bitter bile in Hwoarang's mouth, that acknowledgment of association. The dark was a place where Hwoarang felt compelled to lash out, to defend himself from probabilities before they became assailing certainties. An unconscious faith kept him from releasing Jin's hand; inversely, his grip was beginning to impede circulation. But metallic memory grinded in his eyes, producing sparks of a virulent hatred that leapt from Jin to this pure Mishima man who had to be Jin's father, and the man who headed the Zaibatsu when it rampaged Pusan, raped his mother, made him a fact and reality standing there presently, capable of some vengeance. Hence his hard silence was a surprise.
"How am I here." Kazuya rumbled deep in his thick chest, repeating the question. "You are not going to ask me why I am here?" Kazuya halted in his advance inches from his son's chest. Of comparable height, he could stare directly into Jin's eyes, tracing the similarities of spirit he found there. "A better question even would be why is he here, with you. Has the Mishima bloodline thinned so far?" Kazuya hated his father, just as he could see that his own son feared and distrusted him. But the lineage...the lineage was the key to everything, and must be maintained at whatever cost. Red-rimmed orbs flicked down to Hwoarang's white-knuckled grasp of the younger Mishima's (or Kazama's) hand.
Jin himself was the cause of the smile that dawned on his face, a faint and lightless thing. Growing up he had dreamt about and pondered over this meeting, The Moment That Could Never happen; he had not let the reality of the absence of his father stop him from wondering what would be said and what they would feel. Those dreams had been dead for years but now they rose against to the surface of Jin's mind, and it was awful to compare them to the present truth. There was no love nor forgiveness to summon or seek. There was merely the empty, unattached hatred of a stranger who came now to heighten his duties -- to raise his Mishima body count from one to two.
"Your bloodline is dead," Jin answered, wary but unafraid. That very grip upon which Kazuya would look with derision was where Jin knew he would find the strength to succeed.
Pluralistic hatreds colored Hwoarang's appraisal of the man. Mishima Kazuya had never been asked after like Kazama Jun, and never known as dead by the Korean who had little respect for the Ironfist Tournament's posterity. His disposition lacked wonderment, losing much of its confusion in the first minute of confrontation, clearing his angular countenance for the sheen of vindictiveness he brought with him to Japan over four years ago. Jin's words only served to distill it with more resolve; the verbal disavowal embossed murder on the Korean's face, because the rapacious politics of this man was to blame for every desolate tier in Hwoarang's young life. Each sienna iris held up a voracity in clear view, blatantly biding their time.
Kazuya let a smile play across his thin lips which was more terrifying even than the hatred-marked visage he customarily wore.
"You are still alive, Mishima Jin...and as long as blood still flows through this broken body" - here he pressed his palm against his own heart, through the untucked white shirt he wore in sham of former finery - "we can regain what we have lost." Yes, he was playing on the boy's sympathies, expecting that they, like everything else about this unknown child, would have been exacerbated by the Nature Woman's influence. Did he feel anything for the boy? Not really. They had sliced his body to do their genome research and had eviscerated his emotions while they were at it. He didn't know if he was capable of any feeling now for anyone, much less one who shared his own tainted genes.
"Before my name was Miyama Kunzo, it was Kazama Jin--" his emphasis on the last name was calm but distinct-- "...and you don't have any idea of all the things I've lost. I know why you're here," he realized, and met the Mishima's stare grimly. "You're here for the same reason I am. That means we're opponents."
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