Author's Notes: Er . . . first in a series of short vignettes I've been writing. Blame it on my newfound obsession with overanalyzing characters, and massive amounts of Tori's latest album, /Scarlet's Walk/. Maybe I'll be burned at stake for my interpretations, but maybe someone will like 'em. Who knows.

DISCLAIMER: Standard disclaimers apply; I don't own shit, I don't know shit, and I certainly don't want to eat it. Same goes for warnings;Jin's POV, there's some pretty transparent shounen-ai overtones, and that's what I'm about. ^_^ Figure all this literary spew is set a little bit before the fourth tournament, and we can call it good. =^_^=

(This is my cue to shut the hell up.)


Chapter 1 - Quicksand

By miriya valentine

And you said you would find me
Even in death.


Maybe it was raining in Japan.

Not gentle showers, but the insane monsoon outbursts that tore through the great green forests -- the ones that could obliviate summer fields in passing. Here, he noticed, it was always sunny, a bright and rather inappropriate atmosphere for his own morbid depression. He preferred to be gloomy in bad weather, and this was most definitely not the place.

It hadn't rained in months.

He missed Japan, though he'd never admit it; there was something in the sculpted tranquility of his family's gardens (his kaasan's family, that was -- his father had no eye for beauty unless it involved destruction, though he too could understand beauty of that kind) that could never be expressed or duplicated in a place as wild . . . as desolate, as this.

Hokkaido was beautiful this time of year: the orchids and tree azaleas and rhododendrons spoke of stately, ancient beauty that he longed to see again.

He sighed and rolled into his last kata: the kicks and punches came easily to his body despite the turmoil in his mind. The dojo was empty, free for him to bear down with the full force of his strength and frustration.

Turning from the last move, he fell into a flurry of violent blows that proved too much for the ancient, defenseless punching bag that was his victim. In a muffled explosion of padding and duct tape, the bag burst open and rained bits of fluff over the expanse of the floor.

He stood in the middle of it, wild eyed and silent but for the harsh cadence of his breath. The ceiling fan whined above, and he smiled, lips tight against the perfect bone-white of his teeth.

Maybe it was raining in Pusan. Maybe he was there, fighting in battles of his own.

Maybe he was winning.

(Who else flew so well without wings of their own?)

The smile faded as he stalked from the dojo. Someone else would clean up the mess.

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