Author's Notes: Takes place after Hwoarang arrived in Toyko Airport. Hwoarang was 10 when the flashback occured.

The Chronicles of Obsession: Innocence

Chapter 3 - Forgotten Memories

By Jiji Kero

The red spirited fighter stepped into the worn cab, tossing his ragged army bag to the other end of the seat. The cab driver watched the Korean settle in from his rear mirror, waiting for his chance to ask him his destinations. Hwoarang easily situated himself, these seats were a hell of a lot better than plane’s. He rested his head on the back of the seat and took a deep breath, relaxing his aching body.

“Sakura sutoriito onegaishimasu.” (Sakura Street, please)Hwoarang politely requested.

“Dochira?” the drive asked. (Which one?)The Korean thought quietly to himself, striving to remember the Japanese language and the location of the tournament as well.

“Ano sutoriito wa… higashita?” (The street that's... North-East?)He said, hoping that was the word for north-east.

“Yokai.” (Gotcha.)The man replied obediently. Hwoarang sighed with relief and sunk into his comfortable seat. The army run-away looked out onto the dimly lit streets of Tokyo, wondering if he would recognize anyone that would come across his path. He doubted it, unless they would happen to pass by his old neighborhood. It had been 5 years since he his last set foot on that place. He first moved to the neighborhood when he was around 10 years old, it was shortly after his mother place him in the care of Baek Doo San. Living with Doo San wasn’t too bad, he did grow a little lonely since Baek spent mostof his time teaching at the dojo. This was when Hwoarang had no interested at all in Tae Kwon Do, he was merely a boy who kept to himself. A slight frown came across his face, which ceased any further memories to protrude. He sighed once more as he nuzzled into an easeful position and began to drift away.

A little crimson haired boy sat on the concrete steps of the towering apartment building. He lost himself in trance, staring at cement sidewalk that was at his feet. His hands softly draped around legs, pulling his thighs to his chest. His white shirt and blue jeans protected his skin from the burning sun that raged in the sun. However, he gave little notice to the ultraviolet rays and to the world that surrounded him.

“Waiting for your father?” A voice asked, standing behind the child. The boy snapped back into reality quietly and turned gently to face the voice. The voice belonged to tall, dark man who was dressed in a smooth, black jacket and dress pants with a sleek, white button-up shirt. He had soft raven colored hair that hung in his deep, brown eyes. The boy glanced away thinking of how to respond.

“He’s not my father, but… he does take care of me,” the youth replied softly. The tall gentleman placed his hand into his pocket as he sat himself down, next to the kid.

“I see,” he said, softly laying his eyes on the young boy, “I always see you here, waiting for him… Don’t you have any friends you can play with?” The silent child sunk his head his sadness, closing his eyes away from the world.

“No… Not one,” he muttered with a hint of a sorrow. The mysterious man faced his head forward as his shut his eyes.

“That’s a shame. It must be lonely playing Nintendo alone,” he said under a sigh. The youth’s spirit fell even closer to the ground when the man spoke those words.

“I don’t have one of those either.” The gentlemen stared at the kid in disbelief.

“Not even a Nintendo?” The little boy remained motionless, keeping the look of distress on his face. The stranger nudged a little closer to the child as he leaned in closer to speak to him.

“Would you like to play one?” he asked with a touch of tender in his voice. The young one looked up at the mysterious man with a sense of confusion.

“Really? You would let me play your Nintendo?” The elder man nodded in response and smiled as he placed his hand on the boy’s small shoulder.

“It’s brand new too. I haven’t even set up yet,” he laughed slightly as he continued, “To tell you the truth, I don’t know how to put it together. If you can help me figure it out, you can come over and play it all you want.” A sparkle began to grow in the boy’s eyes as he turned his body a little more to face this kind gentleman.

“Really? That would be great!” the child stopped in his tracks before he got anymore excited when he remembered his caretaker, “ But Doo San doesn’t like video games, I don’t think he would be happy with me if I was playing it.” The grown man’s hand slipped over from the boy’s shoulder to his back, pulling the child closer to him as he whispered back a reply.

“What Doo San doesn’t know won’t hurt him,” the man smiled as he nudged the boy, “Right?” The kid tilted his head a little as he gave it some though.

“I guess so.” The gentleman chuckled at the child’s response and slightly tasseled the kid’s rich, ruby hair.

“What’s your name, kid?” he asked looking into the youth’s eyes through the dark strands of his hair. The kid returned the glance, thinking nothing of it.

“Hwoarang. And you are-” the gentleman stood up before the boy finish his question and held out his tender hand.

“Ikari. Rie Ikari.” Hwoarang took his hand, pulling himself up off the dirt-covered concrete and proceeded to follow Ikari into the apartment complex. It would be a decent building on the outside, if the owners hadn’t slapped some corny logo on it that made it look so trashy. On the inside though, it had soft colored carpets that stretched through the hallways. The walls were decorated with delicate, fancy wallpaper that was lit by draping chandeliers of some sort. They walked up several flights of stairs that carried them higher and higher into the sky. When they came across the 7th floor, Ikari lead the boy to the door in the farthest corner of the hallway. He casually pulled out his eyes, fumbling for the right key. When he found the correct one, he turned the doorknob with the key and held the door open for Hwoarang.

The young Korean stepped inside, examining the tidy living room. There wasn’t much in the place, just mostly furniture and it seemed as if the place was hardly used. He saw the dark, soft leather couch on his right with a fragile glass table in front of it. In the upper right corner was an ebony shelf that held small, delicate icicle like sculptures and directly in front of him was the TV with the Nintendo next to it, still in its box like he said. The little crimson haired boy gasped at the sight of the Nintendo and darted towards it. Ikari laughed at the child’s eagerness and stepped in to close the door behind him.

“Is it all right if I open it?” Hwoarang asked anxiously staring at the box as if it was made of gold. The gentleman chuckled softly and knelt beside him, briefly brushing his legs against the crimson hair child.

“Go ahead,” he whispered, breathing his breath through the scarlet strands of Hwoarang’s hair. In a flash, the joy-filled youth had the pieces falling out of box along with the system. The little boy picked up a cord that looked similar to the antenna he had at Doo San’s home. He turned his head, facing Ikari with a full-hearted smile and his eyes closed.

“I think I know how to put this together!” he said rushing off to the back of the TV. The gentleman watched as the boy continued on his adventure and sat down as he waited for the youth to finish his work.

“Ikari-san?” Hwoarang asked, still hidden from behind the huge TV. Ikarai faced where the voice came from.

“Hmm?” he replied with his head tilted slightly. The boy’s fingers fiddled with the wires as he continued to talk.

“Are you my friend?” he inquired with a bit of nervousness in his tone. A big grin swept across Ikari’s face as he closed his eyes, letting strands of hair fall into his face.

“Only if you want me to be.” He replied charmingly. Hwoarang jumped up from behind TV and leaned his body over the top of it with his hands lightly dangling in the air.

“That’s great! Doo San will be happy that I have a friend, he’s always worrying about me. Now, he can meet you-” Ikarai cut off Hwoarang sentence with a serious tone in his voice.

“It’s best that Doo San doesn’t know about me.” A hurt look came upon Hwoarang’s face, his eyebrows arched upward giving Ikari a better view of Hwoarang’s eyes.

“Why?” Ikari lied back a little, shifting his weight to his left arm that held him up. His body faced Hwoarang as his eyes looked into his gentle eyes.

“People like Doo San are strict with their children’s friends. It’s the parents, the caretakers who choose the kid’s companions. They chose them based on age, rage, background and I’m afraid if you told Doo San about me, he wouldn’t accept it.” Hwoarang stepped hestitately from behind the television and lightly stepped over to the grown man.

“But why?” he questioned as he sat down carefully, facing the couch, next to Ikari. Ikari stretched out his right hand, gently stroking Hwoarang soft cheek.

“For one, I’m Japanese,” Ikari paused trying to figure out a way to lie through this one, “I’ve noticed Doo San only affiliates himself with Koreans. Another problem is that I’m much older than you. Doo San thinks the only friends a person can have is one that is in the same range. He doesn’t understand that all ages can befriended each other. So, don’t tell him about me, all right?” The Korean sat there, a little confused by all the new vocabulary that Ikari used. All Hwoarang knew was that he didn’t want to lose his newly found friend and nodded as his response. A crooked smile grew across Ikari’s dark colored face.

“Good. Very good.” He whispered as his thumb rubbed against Hwoarang’s silky lips. The child didn’t know how to react to this man’s touch, but it felt familiar. It reminded the Korean of his mother’s touch, one of the few memories he had of her. Without any thought, Hwoarang unconsciously reached for the hand that was caressing his lips and laid his warm, tiny palm on Ikari’s hand. Ikari didn’t expect the boy would touch him back and didn’t know quite what to make of it. Ikari’s heart began to pound lightly against his chest and he felt a heat racing through his body. Hwoarang closed his eyes calmly, holding the Ikari’s enormous hand against his cheek. Ikari couldn’t handle it any longer and slowly pulled himself up. He faced Hwoarang, keeping his hand to the young boy’s cheek and leaned over. He slightly opened his mouth, ready to kiss this young, handsome Korean. Hwoarang opened his eyes and saw the room before him then noticed a sculpture on the jet-black shelf. He released Ikari’s hand and rose up just as Ikari was leaning in on him. The little boy rushed over and gasped over the piece of artwork, he didn’t even notice Ikari was trying to kiss him.

“Akuma!”(Wild Horse) he exclaimed clutching the figure in his hands. Ikari laughed a little at his missed opportunity and looked over at Hwoarang.

“You like horses?” Hwoarang nodded as he clasped the sculpture to his chest. Ikari rose to his feet and casually walked over to Hwoarang.

“Have you ever seen one?” he asked, hoping for a negative response as he thought out another plan. Hwoarang looked over the figure, running his graceful fingers over the shapes and contours of the horse.

“My mother and I use to have one... but I had to give him away when I came here with Doo San. I wish I could ride one again.” The tall man placed his hands gently over Hwoarang’s shoulders as he leaned over the red haired child.

“You’re in luck. I have a friend who owns several of them. I’m sure he would let you ride one.” Hwoarang looked at Ikari with another full-hearted smile.

“Really?” he said with joy. Ikari nodded his head in reply. He knelt down to Hwoarang’s once again and looked at him straight in the eyes.

“All we have to do is figure out a way pass Doo San and then... we can spend some time alone… Just you and me... and the horses.”

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