Demons of the Past

Chapter V - Contradictions unsettled [Part 2]

By Sapfarah

Did you know our mothers come from Heaven?
Did you know our fathers come from Hell?
(TFF, Rault and the kings of Spain)

Heihachi lighted one of his slim cigars as the limousine went out of its way to one of the roads he enjoyed. Those late afternoon long drives were his hikes for some time now. Ever since he regained control over his conglomerate, he didn't stop for a moment to rest back. He had learned the bad effects of complacence the hard way and he had vowed never to permit himself going through the same again. He was a very busy man, hardly having time to devote to himself, the time he spent on his daily karate training didn't count. Yet, even as his schedule was overloaded, particularly those days, due to the Iron Fist, he wouldn't omit those divergences.

The scenery was plain and completely contrasted to the bustling Tokyo, a sight so relieving to his eyes. His mansion being located on a hill overlooking the metropolis had this advantage too, being surrounded with reminders of plantation, that being all the nature he could get.

Resting back, he enjoyed the peacefulness and understood better why Jin was so fond of nature... Sometimes he even caught himself wishing he could take his grandson and together seek out those marvels...

A cloud of smoke escaped his half open, emaciated lips.

That boy had indeed taken a great part in his life...

From the day he had come, when he looked upon him with despise even as nothing more than Kazuya's waif at best, he had completely altered his view. Having watched over his improvement, step after step until he had reached a skill admirable even to himself perhaps, so had his emotions differed. He had begun liking the youth.

It had taken less than a glance to extract his utter devotion. It took much too long a time to receive his friendly smile...

Maybe he had been too strict and Jin, living each day under the recognition that he was only a liability in the dwelling, had been additionally reluctant to admit into friendship.

How greatly Heihachi regretted it now!

Now, there wasn't any more time left to enjoy their conversations any longer. They would never explore the nature together. The time they spent together in karate training would be over and they wouldn't anymore have that man to man chat in the showers afterwards... They even shared that passion for bathing, only, whereas he wanted a hot steaming bath where he might sit and relax, Jin insisted in his cold showers... He said it reminded him of the swimming he did in lakes, when he lived with his mother. He would smile as he would tell him and he would discern the sentimentality in his voice, however well he hid it by now, as he would wish and even promise that they would go together for forest bathing, once this would be over...

...when this would be over...

The cigar was almost done and he puffed out tiredly.

Jin had informed him of his intentions to gather every fighter he could contact and talk to them... What on earth did he have in mind?

He had said he wanted to tell them about Toshin, so that they would be informed...

Shaking the dust into the ashtray he puffed out angrily.

What was Jin going to tell them and how would this affect him?

Yet, what disturbed him the most was that he only informed him after he had given the invitation...

Should Jin keep acting the way he did, he saw his plan greatly hindered.

He knew he was on the right track... Toshin had contacted him many times... It was a matter of time before he could proceed to a contract that would enable him to get a hold of this power...

He had come too far to stop. Just a little more and he would get what he was looking for...

He took one more inhale. After all these years, he finally understood why Lee Chaolan had been smoking so much.

But then, he couldn't convince himself that by approaching his aim, he would ultimately reach the supreme happiness...

There was still something out of place.

It was extremely rare for the Mishima mansion to have so many people wandering in its halls. It didn't happen often that a gathering occurred and therefore, as if the house had spirit of its own, it suppressed the small group of people walking as one.

Jin went ahead of them and knowing where he headed, he stopped before the double wooden door with rectangular patterns upon both flaps and his uncertain hands were steady as he lowered both handles and pushed each flap away.

For once more the room was open to accept visitors. The bright light spread as a carpet before their feet and dust swirled in a butterfly-like welcoming.

Jin walked in and after the first few steps that should initiate the rest, he halted. The memories, ones he had experienced and others that had been with him all the while, without him even knowing it, burdened upon him only too heavily. He dared not raise his eyes, for he knew exactly where they would fall.

Slowly, one after the other, the rest stepped inside and scattered, as each met the object of their search.

"Oh look! Julia! That's my great grandfather, Jinrey! Come look!" Xiaoyu's overwhelmed voice echoed in the room.

Jin walked around opening the windows, showering with light at the screened pictures that reflected back that shine, as if in blinking, unaccustomed to bright daylight.

Hwoarang walked around until he found the one he was looking for. One of a man in his prime, a TaeKwonDo elite, a tall lean man with the resolve of a hawk in his eyes, posing in pride, a lofty radiation was upon his smooth face. Baek Doo San, the indisputable TaeKwonDo champion of his time, just like he seemed to recall him, as the youth who wanted to prove how TaeKwonDo was the allergist of fighting, the man who's path of life he wished he could succeed in taking one day...

"That's him?"

Julia's voice reached him but he didn't turn.

"He was a great man..."

The young girl didn't look at the picture for too long. Walking on she found her own personal pursuit.

Half navajo, half chinese, only the average eye couldn't tell either of her nationalities apart, so beautiful was the blend in her beaming charming face, a face of a determined woman, walking on the path of bravery and justice. She has been her elder sister, more than a mother and the one to guide her steps in life, when the world had abandoned her.

Tears gathered in her eyelids and she let one drop trickle down her cheek.


"Hey, Julia, check this one out, he's so cute!" Xiaoyu tried to attract her attention to the picture of young man nearby, a silver hared charming guy, despite a touch of malevolence on his face, yet it was easy to understand it was but a feint to protect him...

Julia didn't turn and Xiaoyu only guessed the tear. She silenced as she only looked at her friend, undecided on what to do.

Eddy Gordo just walked around. He had no one particular to remember. A smile appeared in his lips at seeing young Forest regarding a picture of his father, posing with his fists before his chest in a show-off manner and he could imagine him wondering if he were able to stand up to the standard. His steps took him before a picture of Heihachi Mishima of years back, in his black karate gi, when grey appeared only in slight streams on his raven strands and his face was rigid both in expression and condition. Whiffing a laughter, he shook his sunglassed head.

"Brother, you make Rodmann look from this planet!..." he lowly voiced, laughing to himself.

Heihachi had just given his coat to the valet and was about to go to his private room, when a novelty in his house startled him as he walked.

The room... That room was open...

The doors were wide open and what more strange, light came from it. Even stranger, he heard voices from inside, footsteps... What on Earth?

Doubtfully he walked on. He paused at the centre of the wide opened door, looking inside and he wasn't sure he was contented to find out it wasn't ghosts making the noises.

There were people in the room. There was light in the room. People looked at the pictures hanging on the walls...

He slowly walked in himself, looking ahead. He knew where he was heading... Right there... right to this picture... right to this man...

How was he to refuse an annoying skip of his person at looking upon his picture, even after all these years, even after he knew he was... dead?

But wait... That... he hadn't done that...

Next to his picture he surely didn't put that other one... That of a young woman in white clothes, still not as bright as the glow of her own person, even in just a picture... She posed in a fighting stance, yet she was a vision of purity, so bold every evil would be crushed at her kindness... But he hadn't placed her next to...

His fists clenched. He should have known better than having kept them here, it was but a matter of time before those doors wouldn't hold them away from his eyes... If not for all the rest, that one, his one, he should have ripped it off, burned it along with everything else that was his and that woman as well, that disgusting frail little thing, he should have hurled them together, both down that bloody volcano...

Slowly he walked on towards them, his eyes focused on the one on the left, that one who wasn't facing him but his insolent fist, ever challenged him. His fingers trembled and he was about to execute his intent...

"I hope you don't mind..."

The voice that reached him was a deep, gentle one and soothed him out of his thoughts. He turned to see his grandson Jin, having his eyes looking towards those two pictures, perhaps not really seeing them and he understood the misplacement to be his deed.

There was calmness in the face of the young man along with a drift-away stare that either scared him or annoyed him, he couldn't tell. It certainly compelled his anger.

"I have prohibited entrance to this room..." he told him.

"These people only wanted to see their dead beloved ones... I couldn't deny them the favour..."

Heihachi looked at him but Jin never turned his brown crystalline eyes on him.

"And your reasons?" he interposed.

Only then did Jin's eyes look at him. There was a wet film over them.

"I've missed my mother's face... I don't even have a picture of her left..."

Heihachi found himself breathing out heavily. He dismissed his intentions to admonish him.

Hurrying, Lei muttered to himself, arguing on his own. He was convinced time had something against him, or possibly the other way round. The conclusion simply was that he was late and he had to endure the heavy stillness of the mansion, interrupted only by his footsteps. It definitely wasn't a pleasant sensation.

The house hadn't changed much, if not at all in that space of time. In its empty halls, Lei heard nothing but his echoing repeated steps as the heels of his plain shoes tapped the polished marble floor. He walked cautiously in the spacious rooms that were lit only by the reminiscences of the daylight, memories of the same intensity glowed momentarily in his quite as dark mind, as he walked. It was memories of the last time he had come in this very place, only then uninvited, again to meet the house's lord...

Many things had changed since that time. Yet somehow, everything was the same... The lord of the house was dead but the house was just as he had left it. A Vast, unlit, cold grave. A grave of life and merriment. The frailest sun ray would be mismatching in such a place...

Everything was still the same, as if somehow his spirit was still left behind. He even expected to see him any moment now presenting before him and greet him, even though he knew he was dead. Still he was even shocked when, while walking through a familiar corridor, from a door he stepped forward and all he could see was his ample frame, as the light behind him blurred the rest of him.

Just as he remembered him, tall, robust and imposing, with a spiky peak on his head... even though he recalled that particular point a little more projecting.

"Come this way, mr Wu-Long," addressed him a youthful voice of premature sobriety and one baptised in sorrow, but certainly softer than the brassy one he had expected and came to his mind. Naturally, what did he expect? Yet the anxiety he felt lessened only by a little.

Lei followed where the young man entered and found himself in a modest auxiliary hall, where all of the fighters who had responded to the call had already come.

It was the son of Marshal Law, so much alike to his father and despite his temples were prematurely greying as well as his features hardening, they were strangely blended with childish freshness, as his race very commonly presents. He had come unescorted by his stubborn friend, Paul Phoenix and sat next to Xiaoyu, the youngest ever contestant in the Iron Fist tournament. Beside her was Julia, the blooming young lady. She had none of her mother's native characteristics, this tantalising mixture of the two so distant and yet so close genres in her pretty Caucasian face but, if not only in the manners, Michelle's strong influence was apparent, as was the gleam in her big peanut brown eyes when looking at Jin.

"I don't think we will be expecting anybody else," Jin said and sat at the edge of a big wooden desk, facing the rest.

Lei leaned against the wall and as his eyes drifted on him, being the host of the gathering, for once he let himself wonder... How much he represented the man he used to know, only how such... innocence... such kindness of soul fit upon such evil features? Behind his charming bangs, the bright brown eyes had the clear stare of a psyche unsullied, ignorantly drifting in search of the unknown, yet why did he tremble at the innuendo of evil potential within them? He looked at him, expecting him to smirk evilly any time now. Yet his head was lowered and he begun talking.

"I'm sorry not everyone is here... Well, please let them too know, what I have to say is important for them as well..."

"Most of you will probably not know the reason the Tournament is being held..." Jin said after hesitation. "I haven't been particularly good at words, so forgive me if I bring this coarsely..."

Hwoarang, whom Lei reasoned, the girls had forced to come, twisted uncomfortably in his chair. King, or in any case, the man who was masked like him, for Lei recalled him darker but alike enormous, stood totally unmoving with his muscular arms tied before his rippling naked chest. There was no telling as to what his feelings were. Eddy, the charming Brazilian capoerista briefly met his stare and apparently annoyed from that unintended meeting, turned back to their host.

"You have probably heard of the actions of a strange supernatural force that has been associated with the disappearances of many worthy people..." Jin said calmly. "Many of you, as I'm aware of, have experienced the loss of a close person to the greed of this force..."

His eyes wandered in the room, briefly resting upon each face. Lei did just as he did and read upon many of them different in expression, still the same in essence, the understanding and even grief. Only Hwoarang didn't give into sorrow as it looked but his clouded eyes firmly glared at Jin.

"I have asked you to gather," Jin went on "so that I will inform you as best as I can about what we are really facing. This force, whatever it is, is after souls of fighters, such as ourselves, supposing there is something good in us..."

Anxious voices were raised from some and Lei once more untied his hands and back again, waiting.

"What do you know of this force?" Hwoarang interrupted, questioning. The look in his eyes though read of something bigger than plain curiosity. Lei turned his attention at him.

Jin took some time before answering.

"Not much actually... If I told you what it looked like, would it help? If I told you what it does, would you be contented?"

Hwoarang eyed him some more. He nodded a few times.

"Just speak." he coldly marked.

It was obvious that Jin was annoyed.

"This spirit, referred to as the War God, tracks down fighters and personalities of greatly disciplined character and takes their souls. It seems that by doing so it gets the strength it needs to increase its powers."

"Exactly how does he do that?" Hwoarang interjected once more. This time, all heads turned at him and Jin took a breath to maintain his control.

"I don't know that." he said.

At Hwoarang's stare, he took a second try.

"It seems like he can see the soul and rip it off the body. Don't ask me how this happens. I have done research upon that thing and there have been soul stealers throughout time, Shang Tsung, one of the Immortal Twelve has written a whole tome on that subject, but it doesn't help us much. What I have learned is that the soul is an entity that can be removed and this force, whatever it is, has the potential to do it and it will. But, this is not our present issue..."

It looked as though he would continue, yet Hwoarang's stare somehow held his words.

"It looks like you know a lot about... evil forces, don't you."

Jin appeared as if the jutted words struck him like a thunderbolt. Lei inspected the young Korean's inquisitive eyes and then Jin... His strong fists clenched by his hips and as his stare was somewhere imprecise and anger struggled to break upon his face, he knew he had seen that reaction before...

"I don't know what you mean," he undertoned. His voice sounded deep, aloof and foreboding. Lei was on the top of his alertness. He could see what was coming.

"You are not all that unfamiliar with hell... are you." Hwoarang went on.

Nobody could grasp the hinted accusation, no one but him in fact... yet the tension building up was clearly understood.

"Where are you getting to?" Jin tried to end the conversation.

Hwoarang didn't hurry. Instead, he slowly surmised him.

"Master Baek was killed by a supernatural force..." he said.

"Yes I assume." Jin hastily agreed.

"Such as the Devil."

For a tiny moment, Jin was aghast and Lei was considering whether it was the right time to come between them for although he knew Hwoarang had something troubling him severely, maybe as a form of presentiment, he didn't want to witness the impact of his words upon Jin...

"I don't follow." Jin's words came after hesitation.

"You must have pretty good reasons..."

Everyone else in the room was silent. Jin's eyes widened almost frighteningly. They fell with indignation upon the young Korean's cruel stare.

"Master Baek died shortly after you appeared... I don't think it is a coincidence."

The steadiness in Hwoarang's voice was not at all soothing. Lei could only watch as Jin's eyes almost sparked.

"What do you mean?" he uttered.

"Shortly after you have come, master Baek died. They said his death was such as though a malevolent demon was involved..."

Jin didn't answer. His jaw was trembling at hearing, but however eager he was to learn more, alike hesitant he seemed, as though he knew what he was about to hear and didn't wish to.

"I'm aware that the Mishimas happen to have old stories with the Devil... don't they?" Hwoarang's words came shortly afterwards.

"What are you suggesting?" Jin asked, his weak voice quavered.

"Master Baek dying of a supernatural force... the rumors about a Mishima Devil..."

"I don't know what you are~"

"...who happens to be your father... or you don't know that either?"

"Stop it, Hwoarang!" Lei finally shouted, deciding it was time to take situation at hand. Yet the lad was only more infuriated.

"I won't flaming stop it! My master was killed and if I find out HE has something to do withit~"

"Hold it right there!" Lei directed once again. Hwoarang had been speaking to him but his eyes stabbed at whom his finger pointed.

Everyone else seemed worried. King's head moved anxiously and even Eddy was engrossed.

"If we are really here to avenge the 'Evil Force' that killed our beloved ones, there is no room for politeness!" Hwoarang's high voice demanded.

Lei looked at him in desperate frustration.

"I didn't kill your master..."

The voice speaking was a weakly one and passed almost unnoticed. Yet Lei heard it. As he heard the rage fighting to be compelled behind its sorrow.

" is stated that the Mishimas have always been lead by their greed of power, calling upon evil powers and I know what his father did!..." Hwoarang's voice echoed above the mixture of the others, trying to stop him. Yet Lei kept his attention on Jin who, turning his back, seemed to have been evicted from the rest... and in horror he noticed how his formerly lowered eyes widened and almost sparked as his fists were clenched. His entire body was trembling and his lips begun snarling to oaths unspoken for his mind knew not of but his heart conceived very well...

"That's enough, Hwoarang, he couldn't have known..." Law attempted to pacify the raving youth. Julia was telling him something in a threatening tone, yet he was beyond stopping.

"You are all idiots! Don't you see who he is? He is the son of the devil, he has brought that curse over us!

He might have gone on raving, but then miraculously he stopped. Where all vociferation failed, the gaze of two eyes, sparkling with dangerous outrage succeeded.

Jin had turned around and the glare in his eyes was one almost demonic, even when his face was one so gentle as with lips gnarling he addressed the young Korean.

"Don't speak ill of him!" the lips formed each word slowly, clearly, in a tone unchanging, each burning with violent rage.

If only for just right then, it seemed the shade of panic was diluted within Hwoarang's stare. The scorching eyes pierced upon him for some more and then diverged from the sockets and briefly the venomous stare was registered upon Forest Law.

"I couldn't know..." he said and Lei saw what he knew he would have seen. A tragic smirk twisted his face with pure maliciousness and however gentle his eyes were, that face was horrific to regard. Uneven breath to the track of a laughter escaped his nose, like hellish steam and as Law attempted to explain himself, Jin's eyes were removed.

"Is that what you think? That I don't know? Is that what you think?"

There was affliction in his voice as his eyes wandered above them.

"Is this what you want to see in me? God, you are right! I had no choice... I couldn't know! But you are right! This is me, cruel, evil, hell impersonated! Look at me! I'm the devil!"

Silence received his outbreak as he opened his arms, placing himself at their open view, as though he was some weird spectacle. Then his hands fell heavily and in his exhausted narrowed eyes danced the flicker of anger.

"I couldn't know..." he lowly stated. And then, his face compacted.

"Blackmailing, torturing, cold blood murdering, beating to death, yes, I know it all! All the details, anything you need to know, try me I know! But my mother loved him. So there must have been something good in him!"

His face fell heavily upon Hwoarang. The look in his eyes was one that took no objections.

"And anyway, he was my father. So DON'T speak ill of him!..." he concluded. "Not in my presence."

Nobody did as much as breathe. Lei too, for reasons he couldn't explain, found himself confining his moves to nothingness, only looking at Jin, his breath coming out fast, vehemently and his face wasn't the mild face he and everyone else knew. That face was dark, almost disastrous with the eyes wide open in restrained but tremendous anger. His eyes seemed darker than ever as though igniting straight into... hell...

In terror Lei understood that he recognised that thing and he knew what was to follow. A great catastrophe would come upon one of them, but like before, he didn't know where it would go...

It so happened that of all, Hwoarang alone preserved his angered stare below his knitted brows. He confronted Jin's direct eyeing with the same anger as before. And yet, after a short conflict, he got on his feet, his head facing down in furor and decisively walked ahead to the exit. As he walked past Jin, his shoulder stroke offensively upon him and Jin, similarly avoiding to return the stare, had obviously retaliated in the same act.

With Hwoarang gone, for some time silence preserved. Lei looked at Jin and knew what he felt inside, having kept that eruption to himself. The intensity abated his eyes but his fists remained clung. A tiny movement drew some attention as Ling Xiaoyu stood up and anxiously looking around hastened to the door.

Again, Jin stood facing them, his calmness regained. Yet everything about him told of the suffering he went through, a suffering Lei knew he had witnessed once before...

"What I wanted to tell you is that the reason you are all here is to lure the War God. Maybe... Maybe I am to blame for it, but I don't want you to think that I have deceived you to get to my vengeance. You have to see this as a battle against a greater disaster that affects us all...

As only the best of you have remained, the chances that he will strike are higher. So please, for the sake of us all. If you feel anything weird, anything at all, like being illogically cold, if you experience breathing problems, anything that is unusual... please inform me immediately. Don't stay alone. Contact someone immediately. Tell someone, just don't shake it off. You won't believe it to be strange when it happens but it could be it. So if anything strange happens, anything at all... contact me immediately..."

The stillness was still registered upon each of them and Jin sat upon the rim of the desk.

"That will be all..." he said, his eyes tiredly downcast.

One by one then, each stood up. Eddy took his leave puffing out as he did so. However few sense everything made to him, he still was bemused. As King passed before him, his hefty palm lay comfortingly upon his shoulders and Jin lifted his head and returned the gesture, nodding understandingly, even with gratitude. Forest Law too stopped, a little behind King, looking at him regretfully even, yet Jin gave him a similar stare of understanding.

Julia stood up and walked towards Jin, her arms tenderly resting on his shoulders as with deep concern she whispered something soothing at him. Lei turned around too.

"Mr Wu-Long... Please stay back..."

At the nearly pleading call of the voice he halted and looking back, he saw how Jin had slightly moved towards him.

He stopped as he returned the stare and waited. Julia drew near Jin again and, perhaps due to his presence, he held her in his arms only carefully.

"If anything goes wrong... call me," she said. "You promise? Whatever the time. OK?" he heard her murmur stressing the reassurance in her voice and then Jin whispered a pledge. He saw her unsettled face looking at him and then slowly she slid away. Her eyes never left him, neither did his, following her to the door. And there she hesitated.

"Call me," she insisted. "Just call. Even if everything is ok. Whatever the hour, three, four, I don't care. Just call..." she tiredly repeated. On a final act, she waved and left them alone.

Lei turned back to Jin. The young man briefly returned the look in a still sorrowful stare, before he went back to his spot at the desk and sank on it almost fatigued. Lei could understand that as he paced towards him. He erected his height and looked at him.

"I have asked you to stay.... because you were there..." Jin started.

"Where?" Lei asked absent minded, looking at the young man's face, avoiding to meet his eyes, hindered from shame he was unjustly burdened with.

"At the last tournament... Before this one..." he almost muttered.

Lei realised.

"You want me to tell you about him... Is that so?"

Jin seemed hesitant.

"I'm not sure... but yes... I think I do..."

Lei exhaled, not without tiredness. His job had sadly often required him to comfort a devastated soul... only what words could he employ for the boy's case? In his memory, the man he was asked to recall at his demand, was a cruel, heartless criminal but, as the boy had said, he still was his father... What could he possibly say to him, when all he could remember was a large record of various violations of laws of those on the top of the list and actions of inhuman immorality and if not all these alone...

But hold it right there. This same gesture, this lowered face with the eyes painfully shut, drawn at his own cell of turmoil, he could swear it was the very one he had seen, or at least somehow recalled having seen... once...

He recalled deeper at that man, on the sole occasion he came in actual contact with him, that one time he had come to this house again... He recalled a fight between them, one where he thought he had come to face death and the most nauseating of all was the rapidity with which he shifted from those two states of being... but wasn't there one more face he had seen that day, after the fight? Didn't he see a face that wasn't as cruel but even pure and proud, a virtuous face, much like... that one bowing before his eyes? Or hadn't he been there once before? Wasn't he once again reasoning for him to a person of such great immensity of kindness in the heart, as it refused to hate him?

Jin opened his eyes and looked at him. There was a mature gentleness in his chestnut eyes. And looking upon him, apart from being glad he would be more dealing with an adult, he knew it was Jun's kindness he was looking at.

"Mr Wu-Long... I just don't know where to stand... I... I know you probably despise me and my family but..."

He halted and Lei nodded contradictory.

"I hold no bad feelings against you, kid... I understand you are going through tough times..."

Jin puffed to his bangs and smiled. A strange spark flickered in his eyes.

"They blame me for being his son... and I don't even know why..."

When he looked at him again, the smile on his lips was nearly begging to be consoled...

"Was he so cruel?" he said, his voice soft and almost woeful.

Lei held the need to shake his head, not wishing to transfer more sorrow to the juvenile. He took a breath before addressing him once more.

"Look kid... I know it hurts... especially as you don't get the chance to prove yourself... Perhaps~"

"What should I think, mr Wu-Long?" an eager Jin cut him. "How should I feel towards him? Should I be righteous and discard him as a crooked vile lord, disrespect the sacred bond that joins us? Or should I oversee his evil and... find it in my heart to love him... like every son should love his father?"

Lei watched in silence the young man's rupture as it slowly reduced to self closure again when his eyes once again retracted low before him and his fervent voice died to a self concerned mutter.

"I don't feel the rightful hate towards him, mr Wu-Long... Perhaps you would be right to reason I'm as bad as he is but... all that I want, I feel no hatred for him..."

Jin finished and his lips hardly moved as he spoke.

Lei was speechless, fighting his own contradictions. Yet he knew, however much he cared, he could do nothing to mend things. He was a cop and one to suppress his emotions too. Had he not been able to, his already complicated job might have long ago driven him insane. He was compassionate for the young man but he couldn't get in his place, even if he wanted.

"Son..." he said comfortingly. "You have spoken righteously about him in your frenzy... You don't need to know anything more."

Jin turned a little to him with sad questioning eyes.

"You are in a position too hazardous for anybody to take... and you are coping very well..."

The young man lifted his head lightly with natural majesty and Lei considered for a moment how hard it is to avoid the path of heritage... especially when the legacy could be so hefty... Even he, who thought he had successfully escaped from the stream of his ancestry, it was later in his life he realised he had actually been subjected to them all the way... them forcing him as a reaction to become to the exact opposite of what he should be...

"You have a strong soul and a good heart... Listen to them and do not fear..." he concluded.

Jin nodded once, looking into his eyes. Lei responded.

When he stood up, his face had a solemn look.

"Thank you, mr Wu-Long... Allow me to wish you the best for the tournament..."

Lei smiled.

"Same to you kid... Good night and good luck."

Jin's face was completely calm and Lei regarded the unmarred pride that glowed on him. The young man was proud in spirit and good at heart. Upon his face, he recognised this extremely rare virtue that cannot be found unless inherited and at the same time he was glad it wouldn't be wasted. Waving two fingers on his temple, he turned around and left.

He was the last of the group to leave. The house was empty as before and the question on how anyone could bare living here and not grow insane, crossed his mind. But then... didn't most all of his owners strife? He knew for sure that he would... The kid was at that merge of insanity as he could see and he didn't blame him. He himself who was considered a hard-core police officer, wouldn't make it in this house for more than... a day? Maybe two? Or perhaps~

The hell was that?

He sure as hell knew it was a move he had perceived. His agile reflexes honed by his special training had detected the fast move. Someone had just hid around a door.

Perhaps it wasn't his business but in his job, in some way he was a hunting dog. The habit of chase had turned to an instinct. He run after where he saw the motion.

He found himself in a large hall, perhaps one for feasts. If anyone had walked in, then... but he saw no one...

"Behind you, mr Wu-Long..."

At the echo of that voice... he halted and along his hearing was as if stupefied and he could almost believe he saw the frame behind him with the corner of his eye... The only shade other than the shady blue hue of the room, the one that was in much of the rest of the house, only that one as well was sprinkled in a similar gloom and paleness... as would be any miserable soul to endure the life in that mansion for only too long.

He was aghast. He knew it couldn't be... and he was not the one to believe in ghosts... Yet how was he to answer to the indisputable evidence behind his back?

"Don't turn around... It's not wise to meet the eyes of a Nosferatu..." the voice got ahead of him.

Lei gulped with effort down his throat, overcoming the numbness from the cold sensation that had surrounded him. He opened his mouth, half decided.

"Your son is a splendid boy... Did you know that?"

The answer didn't come back immediately, but he heard the cutting, cold voice.

"...I thank you for what you have told him... He is in great need of support..."

Lei had regained his breath. He was in a position where he could control his fear decently.

"You know, maybe it is you who should be doing this instead..." he uttered.

The voice didn't reply at once.

"I wish there was a way I could..." he finally heard but he couldn't note any emotional colour in the words...

Scoffing nervously he shook his head but even so, he couldn't get a more precise picture other than a pale frame, yet one where the human characteristics still appeared.

"What do you mean? You can appear to me but you cannot appear to your son?" he said.

"I cannot subject him into that danger." the voice said steadfastly and at that Lei was seized with frustration.

"What flaming danger?"

"I bare Hell within me! I don't want him to go through the same hell I have!" came the answer, this time immediately as he finished.

He could hear the fierce anger in his voice... he could even understand it was projected with deep concern... only he didn't share it. He was one to believe that those who care should stick together, especially at times of need.

"Haven't you always been avoiding those who need you?" he caustically went on. "You have always been on the run, avoiding responsibility when all they needed you was just to be there!"

"You don't have to shout. Apart from you, no one can hear me, but as for you, the same rules don't apply."

Lei realised the situation... Of course, he was talking to a ghost... Hopefully, nobody had heard.

"You should have listened how he has spoken of you... He thinks of you only in pride... He admires you, flame it, he thinks of you as a great man..."

"I don't deserve his respect... I am pleased to see him evolve to the man I have so much longed to be... and know he will become better..."

"It's him you should be telling to instead of me! He needs to hear you saying so! He wants to know you approve of him and that you are proud of him! Why don't you flaming tell him? How long do you plan to be running away fro~"

Outrageous, he defied the warning and turned around, but where he expected to see the clear picture of the vision he had conceived, he only saw the wall. He was alone in the room.

"Either I need to get more sleep, or, hell..." he grumbled, as he exited the room.

The last one he saw before leaving the mansion was the rightful owner, Heihachi Mishima himself. He met him at the corridor, just outside the hall where whatever was that which he had seen appeared. His eyes jumped as he saw him and immediately met his, which, he understood were looking for his own...

"Mr Wu-Long... They are still talking?" he said, his voice kept lower than otherwise.

Lei took a while looking at him... had he heard anything? Was he aware of what might have happened?

"No, I was the last to leave..." he finally decided to say.

"Have you been talking to anyone?" Heihachi asked again, his voice stressing his question and as Lei looked up at his face, he found himself speechless for a moment.

"...N-no... No, positively not... Why?"

"I thought... I heard voices..."

When again all alone, he threw his head back and closed his eyes respiring. There was nothing else he could do...

He let himself submerge into his trail of thoughts and none of them involved the tournament, nor the War God for that matter.

A different issue had surfaced, one that, when he came to think about it, had been in his mind since very early in his age, but only now did he understand there was so much more behind his heritage... So much more he thought he knew and yet, the full extend of it he wasn't sure if he dared to explore...

It was pointless... he could never learn... but his mother had loved him...

Shutting his eyes, he forced his mind to concentrate on the tournament. He was so close... So very close to mend the injustice... He couldn't afford to fail... Not again.

He only hoped the War God wouldn't attack as before, but at least, now that he had notified the rest of the signals, then perhaps, he could get some space of time to prevent a similar death, he would be there before it would happen and then...

But would they tell him? Did they trust him enough to tell him? Or was he in their minds too cruel to be trusted?

Of course they would tell him, he tried to reassure himself, they would, they were afraid... They ought to. The War God had to send him a signal. He knew that an undeclared battle between them was raging ever since the day of his mother's death. Someone would receive a warning... But would they recognise the emotions? Would they? Or would it be too late, like when... when all so many had...

Why was it so cold?

Suddenly he wasn't even able to continue thinking. He wouldn't move either, he had given up his will to a freezing hold encompassing all of himself...

He couldn't breathe... his breath choked him like a mouthful of bitter snow and his hands shook... He didn't have the strength to tighten his hands... why was it so cold?

He was frantic. He took all effort to clasp at his neck, he felt his eyes rolling within his sockets and his ears stuffed by a bulging cloud, solidifying him from the rest of the world...

As Heihachi walked into the room he found it wasn't empty. Jin was there. His hand was wrapped around his throat, in an attempt to slide below the choking that had a hold of him and give an end to the anguishing torment he was going through. His eyes glistered as if he was ill, blurring with sickly tears, sweat was pouring on his face. Heihachi's heart was tightened as if from the same clutch at his sight and wished he still had the time to close him into a protective embrace and compel the trembles that slowly consumed him, allowing breath back to his lounges.

"Jin-san?" he uttered, struggling to sound plainly worried but he knew Jin saw the fear flickering in his stare, when his glowing wide eyes fell upon his own.

"Are you okay, Jin-san?" he said, his face hoping it didn't flush with guilt.

He could almost hear the manic beating of Jin's heart as he looked at him with the fear of the hunted animal before the predator. Supporting himself with his hand on the desk, he resumed to his straight stance... but Heihachi wasn't relieved. He had only pushed the inevitable a step away. Not very far. Enough to give Jin one more breathing time, long enough to engrave the memory and the prospect it promised into his mind.

"Y-yes... I'm all right... I just... for a minute it was so cold..."

From his words Heihachi couldn't understand whether he was aware of his actions or how far he had recognised what had come over him, that which he himself knew only too well...

"I think I'll turn in..." Jin said, his eyes looking at him in worry... Not even a rational thought could form into his mind...

"Good night Jin-san..." he muttered as the juvenile left the room and when he was safely gone, he seized his forehead.

"What have I done..."

The last time the War God contacted him, he had granted him his complete assistance... but for that he required a greater sacrifice... one by far supreme to the others... one that offering, he knew would hurt him alike... all in the name of utter power...

Grasping his head among both fists, he reared his closed eyes to the invisible sky.

"Revoke your plan's War God!" he silently begged among clenched teeth.

He wasn't even answered by a sardonic laughter.

The choice was done. His gift was granted. The inevitable was nigh... Within his soul burned hot flames straight from hell. They found fuelling and fed upon it.

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