Demons of the Past
Chapter VI - A price to pay
At the last call the red hared lad halted and returned an annoyed face that held the teenage girl running behind him at a distance.
Ling Xiaoyu approached him hesitantly. When she was at a step's distance, he started walking again and she followed him, but his bowing enraged face didn't even notice her concerned stare.
"Why did you~" she started but he turned ahead, without waiting for her to complete her sentence.
"If you are to lecture me, then be on your way!" he crudely said.
Xiaoyu swallowed once, her lips met together.
Hwoarang walked on in his fast pace and she almost had to run to be in step with him.
"I understand why you were angry... I agree with you... It's just... that maybe..."
An angry exhale was forced through his lips.
"Just leave me alone, ok?" he cut her short and shooting a vexed eye at her, kept on walking.
He didn't see her eyes nearly dropping.
"Hwoarang... I'm on your side!" she said in a last act of despair.
"Who cares!" he said, possibly despite himself, without really thinking of it.
But Xiaoyu heard it clearly enough and just as him, she didn't reason much either. She only halted, too much frustrated, too angry to reason or forgive.
"Then blast off!" she screamed, squeezing her eyes doing so.
Hwoarang looked back at her and even as she knew he saw her weeping eyes and her barren vexation, she was beyond caring either. Tear droplets splashed through her eyes.
"If you don't care, you deserve to be alone! You selfish swine, you worthless idiot! It's not them denouncing you, it's yourself! It's because you only think about yourself and no one else! So Stick to your lousy self! Nobody needs you!" she screamed in a last act of despair and, having humiliated herself far beyond what she could take, she spun about and run as fast as her feet could go.
She didn't care where she was going, she didn't see which road she was taking, only followed the wrath in her soul and the relief of having spat it all out... revenge was so dear sometimes...
Yet, through her confusion, she made out the sounds of running footsteps behind her and it was more her sense telling her it was Hwoarang, coming after her. He was getting closer, she heard his voice calling at her name, pleading for her to stop, but she wouldn't, she would never cease running. She didn't want to talk to him ever again.
But she was tiring, fatigued from weeping and the intense training of the past week took the best from her. Hwoarang caught up with her and his arm pulled her and halted her.
She was beat, but she wouldn't stop. So, instead of continuing the running, she kept on walking fast, not for once turning back.
"Xiaoyu, please!" his puerile voice requested.
"Leave me alone!" she said sharply, not letting her weeping show.
Hwoarang kept up with her, closely behind her.
The uncertainty of his voice hadn't touched her. She was only startled as with a leap he came before her.
"I just want to say I'm sorry!..." he said, his hand extended before her, baring her way and although she didn't raise her eyes, she stopped.
Her eyes remained cast down as Hwoarang uneasily flipped about, trying to find the right things to say.
"Miss Xiaoyu... I've acted like a jerk..." he finally said.
Xiaoyu still didn't look up.
"You sure have..." she said resentfully. But at the same time, she had forgiven him.
Hwoarang looked at her face and shrugged his shoulders a trifle. He always acted in excessive nervousness when he was repentant.
"Please... walk with me..." he uttered.
Xiaoyu lifted her doubtful face, hoping her tears had indeed dried up enough. Hwoarang's face appeared entreating at first, but then his eyes were falsely looking at her own, they were rather fixed around her eyes, unable to confront them.
"Besides it's not safe for you to walk alone..." he made up and looked again at her the same way.
Xiaoyu looked down as she shrugged.
"With the rate you get into troubles, you are in greater need of protection." she said.
"Yeah, well..." he said, nervously rubbing his neck. "Well, come with me and keep me on the safe track... If you feel up to." he said, an apparently indifferent face was registered upon him.
Xiaoyu looked at it and understood his discontentment when it came to ask for forgiveness and she knew she felt compassion. In his place, she acted just the same...
"I guess someone has to take the task..." she said.
Hwoarang said nothing more but as she began walking at a slow pace, took his place by her side.
The woman didn't seem to take heed of the punk's call.
"Hey, you, bitch!"
Neither this time did she turn.
The punk flicked a knife from his pocket and walked fast towards her.
She didn't turn around.
Fast he grabbed her from the hair and forced the knife by her throat.
"I'm talking to you, bit~"
Before he knew, Nina had grabbed the knifed wrist and turned it, snapping the tendons at doing so. The knife slipped easily and clicked as it fell on the ground. It was no effort at all for her to go away from his weakened hold.
She turned around. The punk's face had mixed anger and fear.
"Pick it up..." she said in a deep voice, her frigid eyes just as commanding.
As he kneeled, his right arm trembling, the other reaching for the knife, swiftly she stabbed her stiletto heel on his palm. The punk yelped once again as the heel went through his hand.
Nina twisted her foot once and pulled it out to walk away. Her path was marked by dots of blood.
It was seldom that Forest Law walked so scrupulously, without really taking heed of the road he followed. Once he stepped off the bus, he mechanically took the road his memory dictated to be that to his hotel, without looking around him more than what was necessary to avoid clashing with others sharing the street. He reached the hotel without having noticed it and headlong he almost plunged into the elevator.
Nervously he slightly rocked on his heels, glimpsing at himself in the rear mirror. It had been indeed a very long evening, during which he heard of things that frightened him. Ling Xiaoyu was there as well and he didn't even look at her. Besides, after the hot incident, she left, following Hwoarang...
He forced his mind into the horrific new things he came to learn. Those of a malevolent spirit absorbing the souls of fighters... why? What if he was one of its next targets? Would he be ready to face such a big challenge?
In his memory came his father's stories of the Immortal Twelve and how they stood against the Power that was out to annihilate the world... Names legendary, such as Liu Kang, Kung Lao and Rayden came to his mind... His spirit bloated at the thought of him having to face an equally challenging test but... would he be ready?
Could he be when Nina had so easily defeated him?
Why was he so scared of her?
Paul didn't join him, he said he didn't want to lay a foot inside the Mishima house. He remembered with what despise he addressed the elder Mishima only days before, as he remembered those other talks he and his father had every now and then about an old score with one baring the same name, only dead, that one whom Jin had so hot-heartedly defended and at that moment, he thought the youth was surely insane.
One more puzzle was Jin, that strange youth who had a serene face most of the times but when he was frenzied for that time, he looked as if he were some demon. Law didn't know anything beyond that, as neither did he understand a delusion Nina mentioned about having to kill him. Maybe if Paul was with him, he could provide some answers... but that was as good as a dead wish, for Paul never gave explanations and besides, he was almost certain he would too attack on Jin, like Hwoarang had. But he wished Paul had come. At least, he wouldn't have to be alone now. But Paul was most certainly snoring at the moment and the elevator reached his floor. He got out.
The corridors were lit by that servile light of most hotels and his footsteps chuffed on the carpet along the way. And then, he heard it.
He only noticed of it, as, after his steps took him closer to his room, the sound of another being present ceased. He heard them before, even with his instinctual senses, breathing, moving, existing nearby. Now that thing was diminished. It had sensed him and knew he was coming.
He advanced precariously, making his steps as silent as he could. His room was just around the corner, and so was 'it'. He halted by the corner and, not knowing why, he chose to bend. It seemed as a good choice for he saw the frame of the person by the wall, prepared to chop his throat as he would appear.
In a spurt he darted past the wall, below a knife backhand and away from the dark frame that chased him with high, impressively fast roundhouse kicks. The heels almost maimed his face. As she was closer, he only guessed in that inadequate light where to parry the very fast slaps directed upon him.
Always retreating, as he banged upon the wall, he was just on time to turn and using his back, break through her captivity. A knee aiming for his groin stroke on the wall and he heard her maddened hoot.
"Nina!..." he said in a gasp, as the blue eyes turned towards his way.
"Out of my way," she steamed, preparing her attack and her deep pungent voice held him back more effectively than a gun or a pointed knife might have had.
"Did Paul see you coming?" he asked, trying to sound controlled.
Nina didn't reply, yet neither did she move further. Her eyes kindled and they looked ghostly even in the dark, so strangely translucent and baring thoughts aberrant, of those adverse ones that turn humans into monsters. Forest never understood why Paul insisted overlooking her so obviously strange behaviour.
"Nina, why are you doing this?" he asked in a pleading voice.
"Mind your own business!" the astringent voice hit back, nearly raving from anger. One more thing he couldn't conceive, her repelling of any act of amiability.
His lips trembling, he managed to articulate.
"Nina..." he started cautiously, stammering all the same. "We are your friends!"
Nina remained immobile.
Much like a panther, lurking in the dark, totally motionless as it speculated its prey.
Forest sensed the cold current of fear down on him.
He wasn't swift enough to evade her spinning kick as she rushed towards him and leaped in the air, knocking her heel on his face.
He banged with his forehead on the wall. Even as for that moment he could see dizzying sparks before him and his hearing was buzzing, he heard the loud knock of his skull against the wall. One more kick nearly shattered his spine. As Nina twisted his elbow, he gasped and shut his eyes. He couldn't move and his hand was at the merge of snapping.
"What do you gain from this?" he whined, the pain crawling up to his shoulder and stiffening his elbow. His hair were twisted as she grabbed them.
"YOU are getting in my way..." she hissed close to his ear. "I don't like people getting in my way!..."
The pain in his arm was more severe and his head was left loose.
In one moment, he sensed her palm on his shoulder, at the exact point that would enable her to break it.
In that other moment, he felt the freedom of the rest of his body.
Before she could impel the crucial strike, in all his effort, he twisted and raising his knee only enough, he targeted with all the strength he had a stomp right onto her knee.
Nina hollered once and in the time he bought, he pushed one more kick to her stomach, releasing his aching hand. Nina was pushed back, meeting the rear wall.
"How dare you!..." she steamed, her eyes menacing upon him.
As he trembled, she attacked him again. This time her kick was directed to his ribs.
He blocked it.
He didn't know where this awareness came from but he was prepared for her every hit. Wherever she aimed, he was prepared to deflect and he kept her at a safe distance. Yet, unlike her, he didn't wish to prolong the fight. He had no reason to but it so seemed she had taken it personally.
However, the rest of the inhabitants didn't seem to respect that as soon noise indicated how they had pulled others out of her sleep.
Law looked nervously around. At any moment, he knew someone was bound to come out.
"Nina please! Let us help you!" he said reassuringly.
"Go to hell!" she answered. And a knifed hand aimed right for the side of his jaw.
Turning faster than she moved, he blocked the attack and as he spun, he forced her to follow and flip over his shoulder and down on the floor. Her back hit hard on it and she remained sat down breathless for a moment.
Forest brought up his fists, his lips quivering, wondering if she would leap on him. Then, the door behind him opened and he felt the massive movement as Paul came out in his boxers and shoved him aside as he passed by him to kneel beside Nina..
Forest stepped further back, avoiding to look directly. Paul tried to pull her into an embrace and she pushed away. He stopped trying, yet his arms were close to her.
"Nina..." he called at her in a tender chiding, his voice still not having come around from the abrupt waking up and her face only dropped with her lashes falling before her eyes without seeing his hopeful, even if just awakened, face.
"Why don't you just let go of me?" her scoured voice articulated.
"Because I love you, dammit!" he heard Paul's quiet reply. His eyes jumped once and intensely looked down at them.
Nina shook her head a couple of times, nearly sniffing.
"Just... let me go..." she said conclusively and shook free from his hold, getting up. But her voice was crushed under some strange sadness and so it seemed to Forest that the tense grimace in her face was in fact a stage before crying but he couldn't get a better look, as she was far from him and he only took a glimpse of her face as she was turning to go.
He stood there watching Nina swaying fast away, her hand at her forehead and Paul, immobile in his boxers in the empty corridor, gazing towards her direction. When she was gone away from view, he still hadn't moved.
"I'll be with you in a second, buddy..." he said reassuringly... and it was the first time Forest Law heard that grating echo in his voice.
He was crying.
One more day was gone by.
Lei Wulong tried not to think of his broken ribs. Indeed, each time he competed into the Iron Fist, he had suffered a severe injury. Only the last time he fared a lot better; he had reached to the finals, one step before deciding whether he was fit to challenge the King of the Iron Fist. This time, he was cut before the preliminaries were even declared. Yet his opponent, the nineteen year old intemperate Korean by the name Hwoarang was more of a match for him.
He always used to think Kung Fu to be the allergist of fighting arts and he, being the tricky person he was, thought there would be no one to defeat him... It wasn't that he had aged. But sometimes all the skill cannot oppose to fresh power and speed.
He had a long enduring match against the fiery tempered youth but the destructive kicks of his opponent kept him in a distance far beyond the one he could act. Besides, the youth was literally dancing, on the ground but on the air too. At once he had him before him and then, his capable legs shot him right on him and with a leap he was behind him, kicking him flat on the ground. Indeed the Korean's skill was beyond wonderment.
He flinched in pain as he breathed and decided not to tell Hsien-Fei of his injury or his defeat either, not that he was ashamed to admit it, but if she knew he had lost, she would insist he would come back at once. And he had so much more to investigate yet.
His sources had contacted him. Things were getting too complicated. If he started thinking it over again, he would burst. Reports talked of something foul in the backstage of the Mishima Financial Empire and Lei was almost eager to bet it had to do with the organising of this tournament... yet he didn't know as to how. How was he to know anyway?
Somewhere behind he heard excited shouts as Hwoarang passed by with the indifference of the victor in his lofty walking, his face dripping with sweat and a towel hung on his shoulder. Lei smirked benevolently. Why not... He had his share of glory... besides the youth hadn't won by mistake...
With the tournament gone, he had so much free time. He wasn't exactly glad he was disqualified but at least, he had the time to meddle with investigation and wouldn't have to lie to Hsien-Fei, each time she called and he was training, or couldn't get back to her because he had a fight.
The next fight was being announced and deciding, for the sake of the old times to sit and watch, he noticed King, or at least the man masked as him, because he recalled the skin of the man to be darker. The King was standing nearby. He still had his mask on, even though he wasn't fighting. Maybe it worked as a gimmick and Lei, recalling how this wrestler fought to gain money to support an orphanage, more than approved of it.
He hadn't realised that once again he was looking intrusively, until King returned his stare. He faced the false eyes but he knew there was a real stare behind them. Then he almost smiled and took the decision to walk to him.
King looked ahead as he came and stood by his side, close enough so he wouldn't have to talk aloud and regarded the wide mouthed feline face.
"So you aren't the real King?" he asked.
The masked head fixed two turquoise eyes in his own.
"Will it make you happier if I told you I'm not?"
Lei shrugged. Even if that was the voice, he didn't remember it to tell.
"No... but it will let me know..." he said.
The King turned back ahead.
"I am not..." he concluded.
Lei looked upon him a little more.
"...and yet... I am..." he finished.
Lei smiled in content and turned ahead. The fighters for the next match had been called.
Jin walked into the fighting ground. His opponent, a man in his middle ages but with the strength and dexterity of a youth, dressed in a full leather outfit was fixing his extraordinary hair, cut in such a way they formed a tube up on his head. Copious beard and moustache hid a good portion of his face, yet this man had probably been handsome in his youth. The man was shoving his hind hair upwards until he noticed him approaching, at which stage he stopped and his hands lowered loose. As Jin faced his glassy light blue eyes, the regard he read was both supercilious and at the same time, self satisfied. He had no idea as to why, but his stare narrowed as he walked to face him.
*Jin Kazama faces Paul Phoenix! Paul Phoenix faces Jin Kazama!*
Tossing his chin up, Jin regarded the eyes of his opponent. It wasn't that he looked at him so intensely, but his look carried a load of meanings that, if anything was discomforting. It seemed as though his opponent could look at him and see something he couldn't. It wasn't until Paul Phoenix talked that a little light was shed into his mind.
"I have an old score with your father, kid..." he said and such was the loathe in his words, he snarled beneath his moustache as he spoke.
His words acted worse than a bucket of icy cold water would have been on the middle of a peaceful midday doze. Startled he looked upon the face of Paul Phoenix, facing him with contempt and seeing the effect of his words in his widened eyes, the Judo fighter's eyes sparkled.
*Fighters, take your positions!*
Jin dropped to his fighting stance, a step behind with his fists raised before his chest, looking at his opponent with questioning expectancy. Alike Paul dropped back, his own fists rounded to powerful missiles, ready to be launched.
"I didn't particularly like your mother, either..." he went on.
At which point, Jin felt that sickly emotion in his chest, something like a violent spasm in that tiny spot within him and sensed his eyes boiling. He sensed what seemed to be a discharge at his temples and from the slight crack he heard, he realised it was happening again. It was those peculiar sparks again.
Sparks flied from his eyes and alike menacing was his stare. Paul Phoenix seemed amazed at seeing it and yet, he looked satisfied at the same time.
The fight started at once as both charged each another with a battling cry. Jin's punch aiming for the head was blocked at distance and Paul spun around himself and before he had time to even anticipate, a fist hard as a cannonball was forced into his stomach and he could but obey the command and be forced four steps away, doubling over. Just as he was about to look up, Paul swung his leg in a low sweep, knocking him off his feet. As he fell on his back, a punch was dunked into his stomach and he almost puked.
He used all of his strength to roll away and leap on his feet. Paul was constantly pursuing him, this time with two kicks that were flicked right into his face and while he managed to retreat and block them, they had hit hard enough in his chest, stopping his breath for a moment.
The crowd was rapt and in that moment he saw Paul's face. It read of dismay. He almost heard him grunting 'pathetic!' behind his moustache and again he rushed him. He avoided a tackle in the last moment and at that point, he spun to a turning crushing hammer kick. It hit Paul Phoenix on the back as he was passing below. He gnarled aloud and when he attempted to hook him, he grabbed the hand and flipped him over his shoulder, further hauling him from the hand he still held to a punch for his face.
With his opponent on the ground, Jin took a safe distance to prepare his attack. He didn't know where to accost for all this menace which went beyond that of the limits of the battle.
Paul Phoenix jumped on his feet and a derisive glare was sent from his eyes. He didn't take long before attacking again with a mighty roar.
It was a battle of will. Both were matching in strength and powerful attacks. While Paul seemed to have an easy advantage in the beginning, it was soon that Jin surpassed his abstraction and retaliated his attacks. Seen as a spectacle, the fight was splendid, where both of them executed their moves with fluidity and after the first moments, when Jin begun showing what he was really made of, Paul too seemed more content.
"That's it!" he muttered in a smile that Jin returned with anger. And the battle continued.
Whatever Paul Phoenix had in mind, Jin knew he was trying to irritate him but even worse, he knew he had succeeded. The blood was boiling in his veins and he fought dangerously aggressive. He was faster and stronger, but he lost to his agility and many times his opponent punched him in the air or threw him to the ground. Seldom had Jin met anyone who was as determined as he was to win.
Paul Phoenix didn't hesitate much before attacking. He was confident in his skills and he had learned his art well enough to be naturally fluent in it. Along with his strength, he had a deadly combination. So did Jin, even though he was more hesitant. Paul's words at the start of the fight had caused such perplexity as to hinder his fighting. And Paul knew it. His smile showed it. What 'old scores' did he mean? And his mother... how could there be anyone to hold bad feelings for her?
In a yell, Paul lunged a snapping hard punch at his face and he only closed his eyes as the next two were shot. As he took a step away, pivoting to a high spinning kick, Paul slipped low and gathered his strength to a smooth motion that ended as a fierce punch in his gut. He leaped of his feet and couldn't help spitting out.
"You sure you're your daddy's son?" the sarcastic voice said right as he was once again on his feet and that was about all that Jin could take.
He stabilised his weight on both feet and right as Paul advanced with his next attack ready, he caught him while in the middle of his move. His hand was shot striking him upon the sternum, and grabbed his collar at impact. Face to face, he looked with wrath into his eyes with sparkling anger. Paul couldn't move but his stare was just as menacing.
"This is from my father!" he steamed in his face and before Paul had the time to free himself, all the gathered rage was controlled into his fist. The lightning currents coiled around his arm, cracking like melody into his ears. Collecting his body, he projected all of it behind his clenched fist and his arm knocked Paul up in the air with a fierce uppercut.
Paul succeeded with not even a yell, only the air was forced violently off his lounges as he went in the air and as Jin landed on his feet, he banged the ground and jerked at the impact. When Jin looked at him with eyes glowing fiercely, he no longer moved.
The crowd jumped up in astonished uproar and Heihachi skipped in his seat. Even though it all happened so fast he didn't discern, even though the crowd went out of their mind with applauding screams, in a reprise of visions of the past, he heard the loudspeakers announcing the words: *KO!*
Jin was the only one left standing as Paul Phoenix was again stirring and only as he tried to resume onto his elbows did the assistance arrive. He tried with weakened resistance to avoid them but they got him up and took him out of the ring. Jin watched them walk away and he retreated under the cheers of the crowd but Heihachi could not take his eyes off him. Damned if he didn't see those lightning sparks once again...
Eddy's spirit was dancing among imaginary flames. He was a flame himself, one powerful dancing flare that wouldn't cease until it had burned it all. In the fighting ground he flipped with amazing dexterity in such a display of power that the crowd replied in awe. He performed his fluid dancing almost with ease, as he waited for his opponent to be announced.
Forest Law stepped in the court and regarded the dark skinned man performing astoundingly spectacular moves and he dreaded the prospect of fighting him. His art of Capoeira, an art taught secretly between slaves for the mere act of self defence, encrypted in the form of dance, was therefore unrelenting. The fight it would be used might be the very last so it was an art of fighting for life or death. The result was certain but it wasn't until the end it would be known...
Once he was in his fighting area, the other man stopped dancing and stood up. He was a lot taller than himself and abundantly bigger in construction than himself. His face dripped with sweat and his eyes were not sparkling but a colourless layer covered them, one that permitted no courtesy.
Forest didn't hope for courtesy.
He kept his own stare firm at his opponent. He had come to fight just as hard as him. He was fighting for a mission, he fought for himself. To prove himself.
The other man was rumoured to be an ex-convict but even if he was one who knew of no mercy and no restrictions in his violent fighting, Forest was ready to face it. Neither was he going to play gently. He was a capable fighter and he knew it. He knew how he wanted to prove his worth to everybody. This would be yet one more test.
And such was the decisiveness in Law's bold eyes that Eddy Gordo didn't poise in haughtiness, as he usually did, instead before their fight started, he acted in the best way he thought fit. He bowed in the Capoeira way.
Forest was surprised but so did he bow before him in respect, his hands attached face to face before him. The fight started and it was an one on one showdown, once again.
It was a battle between two flames. The explosiveness of Capoeira versus the rage of the Flaming Dragon. It was a battle where amazing acrobatics and impossible to conceive moves were executed and perhaps no other fight was enjoyed as much as this one, where it went beyond skill. It was a show of perfection. But in the end, it was Eddy the one to stand victorious.
Forest Law couldn't cope against his long range attacks and couldn't shake him off his hard to grasp and still very firm balance that kept shifting, like he was. When the fight ended with him being fiercely kicked outside the ring's limits, when he was helped up, Eddy was already celebrating his victory with a carnival dance and Law, for that moment couldn't but admit to his indomitable spirit, one that had defeated civilisation and hardships, remaining pure and genuine, like the heart directs.
And yet Eddy Gordo had too learned a lesson.
The lesson of respect.
Forest Law couldn't know that. As he couldn't know the dance Eddy had performed was to his honouring alike. It was the dance of the warrior, who revelled on his victory over a hard and worthy opponent who, with his fighting had further augmented the victory gained.
It's never easy for the loser.
Forest knew it, as he sat on his bed in the hotel room, ignoring the pain of his pounded body, knowing it was only signals of the damages he had suffered. He was treated immediately as he left the fighting ground and he knew he would be fully recovered in one week at the most. Corporally.
He sighed once more. His defeat was beyond that fight. He had never thought he would meet someone as strong and powerful. Eddy Gordo had danced his way through him and indeed a dance it was. A dance deadly and efficient. Never before did he suspect there could be someone with skill so much greater than his...
Had he overestimated himself so badly?
When the door of the room opened carefully and Paul appeared, he didn't bother to as much as turn to him.
Law half-willingly looked up from the corners of his eyes and again his head dropped.
"There's someone here to see you," Paul said and retreated one step.
Forest tiredly took a glimpse at the door but that was all he needed to recognise the man who stepped into the room. He leaped in a startle.
"Father!" he uttered in disbelief.
Marshall Law, with his otherwise firm expression below his streaming moustache looked upon him and his eyes shone with pride...
"Heh... I'll leave you..." Paul said and turned away.
The door was closed and again Forest bent his head as his father came to sit next to him. He knew he was looking at him but he couldn't return the stare.
"How has it been?" his soft voice addressed him.
"Haven't you heard?"
"I was there, Forest..." his father admitted. "I saw."
Forest fleetingly lifted his head. He was doubtful on whether his father was contented, telling by the looks, but somehow he knew he wasn't displeased.
"Maybe you were right, father... maybe I'm not ready yet..." he muttered.
"There is some truth in it... and there is exaggeration too..." Marshall Law's words resounded and Forest questioningly looked at him. His father replied to his eyes solemnly.
"There is always room for perfection. I hope you will always keep that in mind and keep developing... But as for the goals you have set... you are more than ready."
"Even though I lost?" Forest tried.
His father didn't nod.
"Victory is not just in the outcome of a tournament. Correct skill, unconditional dedication and perseverance matter just as much and in truth, perhaps more... Besides, your fights had been splendid... in everything."
Forest bent his head over his hands resting upon his knees and his father patted his shoulder.
"Do not count as your victories only the ones others bestow you... Victory is when you surpass your weakness and go through a difficult situation with the least of harm and fit to go on and that you can only know. No referee, no rule can define your personal victory. Even if that victory doesn't yield a golden medal, you will know it to be true, because a true victory doesn't need to be acknowledged by anyone... The true victory is the one that you take with your worth and that no one can take away from you..."
Forest was listening to his father and his words acted like balm in his heart, but he was obviously not consoled. Marshall Law understood that and a slim grin came to his tight lips.
"Besides, a fighter you lost to once, you might defeat at another time. Like Nina."
Forest's eyes leaped in the wildest surprise. Marshall Law smiled once more.
"I've heard how she had challenged and defeated you in her game with her rules... You were scared and that memory probably would hinder you if you faced her in the fighting ground... But you defeated her in real life, where it really matters..."
As Forest still gaped vacantly at him, his father smiled again, faintly as always.
"Paul told me."
Then Forest rubbed his nape and passed his hand through his rich hair and looked up at his father's consoling face.
"I wish I could tell you what you have done wrong and you didn't win... but both your fighting spirit and skills have reached beyond my knowledge..." he said. And to that Forest looked up to find an assured face.
"I had been against the tournament idea because I don't believe that seeking for fights proves your worth..." Marshall Law said. "But seeing your determination to state your independence and your attitude within the fighting grounds, I am now confident in you... Although you are now at a stage where my opinion doesn't matter... You are a better judge of yourself."
Forest Law looked up at his father and he nodded in cognition.
"It's time you find your own path of life now..." he said. "I'm not letting you on your own... You have gone beyond and earned your independence... I bow and retreat..."
In silence, father and son looked at each other. Forest tried hard to repress that smile flickering in his heart. It was the same smile his father too was futilely trying to hide.
A few more fights... and it would be over. Then what?
Having succeeded in his fight against Nina Williams, the man by the name Bryan Fury for once stopped to think... and he begun realising that something was out of place.
Yoshimitzu... Doctor Abel... The Iron Fist... Lei Wulong...
What did this all mean?
Were they supposed to mean anything at all?
The Mishima residence was again quiet, just like Heihachi wanted it to be. Staring outside the window at the afternoon revealing, he sulked over the latest developments... and that not with gladness either.
The Iron Fist had been profitable once again. It had paid twice its expenses and furthermore, it was the happening of the last weeks. But it was soon coming to a close. The next hours would bring the four last remaining fighters in the preliminary bouts to decide the finalists. Jin had found himself among them... and Heihachi didn't know whether to be pleased or sorry, whether he should have expected it and if he ought to... fear...
He now knew that Jin was possessing the Fatal Lightning... the gift of the demons. The curse of his family...
The temptation of that talent was such as had the power to bring down the greatest of men. For the powers it could unleash were immeasurable...
Once again he cursed himself for having demanded that his father would teach him, when as a teenager he had seen him practising this deadly skill... He still recalled that image of his father, of a tall, robust man full of power with mighty cerulean streams of lightning encircling his body as he rehearsed his karate... and he wanted to learn that too.
His father had warned him of the dangers of the Fatal Lighting very clearly. It could bring life from nothingness but it could bring death too... and he had seen it both. He had seen doom coming upon him and stopped exercising that skill... but it was too late. One more thing he learned for the Fatal Lighting, only too late. For it to be taught, it had to be inherited and only then could it be brought forth... He had inherited the gift from his father and so had his son taken it from him...
He never taught Kazuya how to use his powers. One more mistake he had done. For the Fatal Lightning is a demon's gift and as such, it fuels upon strong emotions. It consumes strong passions and desires, until nothing is left. Its existence is its own enemy for it brings the yearn for more, that which is within the beholder...
Kazuya brewed anger and wrath inside of him so strong his skills had come naturally, without having to endeavour over them too long. He soon mastered it as far as using it for destruction... but he never learned how to control it. He never learned when he had given it enough, exactly the opposite of him. And now, the same dangerous signs appeared in Jin...
Unlike all his ancestors, Jin had never been confronted with his gift before... it came to him all of a sudden. But Heihachi knew it had been dwelling in him since the beginning, only looking for a chance to erupt... now that it did, there could be no stopping.
He had seen that once before... he couldn't bare to see it twice. Could Jin become a master of his skill or would he succumb to it?
It couldn't be... with the presence of the War God and such strong desire as he had to vindicate, he almost predicted his imminent downfall...
The voice of Sato Nakaraki brought him out of his musing.
"The car is waiting," the man said respectfully. And Heihachi nodded as he headed for the exit. He had one meeting to attend to.
During the afternoon hours, the stadium was packed more than otherwise, as the preliminary rounds were going on. Eddy Gordo, the capoerista who had been so spectacular in the morning rounds lost to the mysterious and even appalling Bryan Fury, the kickboxer with the scar throughout his torso. The second deciding battle was closing up as Jin Kazama, in all effort evaded Hwoarang's hammer kick and lunged his fist into his opponent's ribs, turning the balance in the last moment to his advantage. That battle, which had been one swift and impressive ended in the last moment at his favour and only when the referees announced his victory, did he stop his second backfist.
Hwoarang stabilised himself, still energetic. He had been leaping off the ground all along, his capable legs had threatened his opponent too often but his swift and long range kicks were not enough to grand him victory. The referees announced Jin Kazama to be the winner... and to that moment Hwoarang lost it.
He was still standing... he was still fit to fight. He couldn't lose to technicalities. Not in the Iron Fist. Not in a matter of honour...
"NO!" he yelled. The referees backed off and even Jin Kazama showed surprised worry.
"I won't lose to you to a draw AGAIN!" he shouted and he was out of his mind to leap in the air and pluck a kick into his opponent. Jin nearly stumbled to the ground and avoided a stomping sidekick by very little.
"Hwoarang, stop!" he whispered tenaciously but the youth ignored it. Instead, he flipped a high roundhouse to his head and hit his hand that went up to protect him. Such was his force that he bowed, even as he stood firmly. Writhing in pain he understood to have injured his muscle. Very soon Hwoarang pushed his heel into his chest and made him stagger further behind.
He knew he had to stop this, only he knew of no way. The crowd was sounding anxious as Jin looked up and Hwoarang flicked one more kick to his face... but he avoided it. But by that time, he had come too close.
Gritting his teeth, he shot a punch at his face~
~but his hand was blocked and in the clutch it was twisted. Jin looked regretfully in his eyes as he was holding him from the wrist.
"I'm sorry..." he said. Then, forgetting what he had once promised himself, stabilising his weight aided by his hold on him, he slapped his foot across Hwoarang's face, right upon the fatal point on the jaw and while the youth's head still turned at the blow, he reversed the heel back to one more crushing blast on his bent face. Released from his grip, Hwoarang collapsed on the hard floor and whilst the spectators cheered violently at the knockout, he just stood there.
This wasn't supposed to have happened.
Hwoarang's breath was puffed out in whizzes as his jaw was too numb to even move. Anxiously he knelt over him, the referees coming along.
"Hwoarang... please talk to me..." he whispered, tears swelling in his eyes. Damn, he had vowed never again to use that move... Why did he? What would have been wrong to let Hwoarang beat him, even if unconscious? The fight had been called to his name, what more did he want to prove?
One doctor shoved him aside and took Hwoarang's pulse. The cheering had ceased by now and medical assistance came to Hwoarang's aid. A palm laid upon Jin's shoulder. It was Nori, one of the M.F.E. corps, and fellow of his. He gestured him to follow but he didn't.
His hand brushed Hwoarang's tousled hair from his gradually swelling face. The lips and cheeks were scarred all around from reddening scratches and the eyes burned red. Whiffs of air came out of the unable to properly open lips, but what passed as an attempt to breathe, Jin heard clearly.
"Go to hell where you belong..." it said.
Tears poured down his face and he didn't bother to sweep them as they rolled on his cheeks. He was lying on his bed, as he always did when he found a dead end situation. He resigned and sobbed once again.
Was it worth it? When he demanded the Iron Fist to be held, pestering like an impatient child, as Heihachi correctly had said, he had never expected to have come to this. He knew the fights would be vicious but nowhere as much as what he came...
He had gone beyond himself. He would have never fought with intention to harm anybody and yet, he had harmed plenty during this tournament... The initial belief that he was doing the right thing was abating and he witnessed himself losing touch with his mother's precepts, forming into a cruel, heartless person...
He didn't deny he appreciated power... He had learned that people respect those who can defeat them... but why should he have to go through that process?
If only there was a way he would shun the tournament and merely have one fight against Toshin... if only he could forgo...
The door was rapped and he snapped his head to it. It was strange that he should think of Takashi at such a moment... but if there was someone he wished to see right now... that was surely him... His compassionate attentiveness when listening to his quandaries and how he dealt with them were, so almost...
...so much like what he had missed next to his mother.
But Takashi was dead and he swept his face dry before getting to the door. He clenched his heart once again. He had become very good at it.
When he opened, he found himself before the chief of the guards. The man who had prohibited entrance to King when he came to see him, like he had done to him, four years before...
He was among the very few he hadn't managed to grow liking. Each time he dealt with him, he remembered his entrance to the Mishima house and so did the other man show to recall.
Remaining firm, he looked at him so as he would talk. With no hesitation, so he did.
"There is a man by the name Eddy Gordo who wants to see you," he said. "You have given directions to allow visitors, therefore, following your orders, I come to ask you whether you are ready to see him..."
Jin forced himself to overlook his intended rudeness, however good it was concealed.
"You've done right," he stressed as he walked through the door, past him.
Eddy, wearing the neatest clothes he had with him, hissed out once again, dazed at the richness of the mansion. Although its exterior was strict even, when inside it earned its esteem as the house of the richest family in Japan and possibly the world. Pacing around in his leisure, he studied the things his last visit didn't provide time for.
He wasn't unfamiliar with wealth but his own home, once upon could never compare to this one...
...until he would vindicate... then... then perhaps he would replace the furniture with slightly more modern and create a bar over there... but not until...
Sound of steps coming down the staircase interrupted his daydream. The youth by the name Jin Kazama was coming down and Eddy pondered how life had been unjust towards him... when in this boy's age he had to face jail...
The youth proceeded in greeting him but Eddy noticed not too wholeheartedly either, a sign that didn't seem very favourable.
"You have asked to see me..." Jin Kazama said.
Eddy didn't speak directly.
"I'm not one to get around things... so I'll ask you straight." he said. "I want my last fight to be cancelled."
Just as he expected, the youth's eyes became questioning.
"Unless you have verifications of violation of codes, I don't see why~"
"Exactly that!" Eddy almost angrily interrupted. "My opponent, that freak anyway was by no means a human. We cannot possibly compete in equal terms and have the same chances."
Jin Kazama bowed his head once.
"Although you have a point, I'm afraid that so long as an entry is approved to be a contestant, such allegations cannot be stated..."
Eddy shook his head whizzing in ire.
"Man, you don't know what you're talking about..." he uttered and Jin only looked at him firmly. There was no softness upon his features any longer.
Eddy returned the stare.
"Even if he wins, supposing. What will he understand of it? What will he gain?" he said.
"That is for himself to find out, I guess." Jin said rather abruptly.
"And if you too lose to him? Doesn't this matter to you?" Eddy questioned insightfully. Jin shook his head once to a denial.
"I see..." Eddy said, smiling. "It's not about the title... it's this War God thing, eh?"
Jin's eyes lowered in agreement. And Eddy prepared for his strongest arguments.
"I've seen more trouble that you've ever known, kid... You think you've seen it all with Toshin?"
Jin prepared to say something, but Eddy spoke before his perhaps hostile reply.
"Well have you been to the big house?"
Jin looked wide eyed at the tall Brazilian and Eddy shook his head, knowing he had aimed correctly.
"It was a horrible time... every single day a torment worse than the one before... and every single day I slept and woke with one wish... revenge... you know the feeling, don't you?"
Jin took a swallow in effort.
"I'm sure it was tough but I haven't spent my time any better, so don't tell me."
Eddy's face didn't change a bit from his tranquil expression.
"But you had a home... and comforts at your hand... You never had to fear for little things like going for water or bodily needs... You couldn't know how it was to tremble for every step you take... you never had to beg for help... and be grateful it was given..."
"Don't be so sure about this..." Jin cut coldly and Eddy looked up. He believed the youth to have nerve within him. A smile came to his face. It looked kind but it was only a feint, meaningless smile.
"You would never have made it in the big house..." he said. "You look like a fine boy... Any idea what they do to boys like you in the big house?" he questioned and his cold, roundly fingers smoothly run on Jin's face.
With eyes bewildered Jin knocked the palm away. Eddy moved no further, looking at the frightened eyes opposite of him.
"Aye... you'd have a helluva time in the big house..." he concluded.
"Supposing you got what you ask for, what would change?" Jin asked firmly but his eyes looked away and his voice was scaling. Eddy knew he was almost there.
"I've been a convict for a crime I've never done... They blamed me for killing my father... You know as much as I do what it is to see your parents die..."
"Yes." Jin said in a rush and looked away. In silence he walked past him and with his back facing him, he tied his hands behind his back.
"The tournament is of no importance... I will ask if there is a possibility that I may give my place to you." he said shortly.
Eddy turned around in a startle.
He had come hoping for a rematch. He knew the kickboxer was of his hand but in no cost did he intend to ask for so much. For a second he didn't know if he ought to accept.
"Look kid..." he said hesitantly.
"Really... it's of no importance..." Jin Kazama said. "You care about the prize, the first place... I don't care about this at all. It's enough to get Toshin. I will attend to your request."
"Thank you..." Eddy humbly said and yet, Jin Kazama didn't look at him immediately. When he did, his face was sorrowful and compassionate. Eddy considered leaving, until he realised words trying to come out. Ultimately, they did.
"Mr Gordo... It's uh..."
Eddy looked eagerly at the bowing head and returned the stare of the glittering eyes when he looked up.
"I admire you." Jin finally said and Eddy snared one eye looking at him.
"What for, kid?" he asked.
Jin seemed hesitant and, like whenever he was uncomfortable, he stammered.
"I... I would never have dared do what you did... You have thrown yourself into such hardships and sacrificed a great deal of yourself..."
There he slightly lifted his shoulders. And Eddy, looking back at him, knew he wasn't a part of those he wanted to avenge. Somehow, he differed. Only he couldn't tell as to how. Yet he squirmed his full lips.
"You don't know it kid... but you've done quite as bad... I hope you realise before you get contaminated..." he deeply said and turned to walk away.
"Mr Gordo..." Jin's eager voice stopped him and he turned back to face his questioning eyes.
"Does it have to do with my father?" he asked.
Eddy lowered his head to the side.
"It's not my business telling about the dead..."
"But... does it?" the youth insisted.
To that Eddy lifted his head and his eyes were resolute at looking at him.
"He... I don't know the man so I can't tell..." he stated. "But whoever he was, he was your father, you know... You have a bit of him, whatever that is... So you'd better learn to live withit... you know what I'm saying?"
Jin nodded faintly.
"I think you can call me Eddy now on," the charming Brazilian said and smiled before leaving.
Jin was left to muse on the Brazilian's words. Not that much on offering his place, that truly didn't matter much... Indeed he too wanted to try his strength and make it to the final, it wasn't his desire to give up right as he had successfully passed through the preliminaries... but not that way. Not having to bring unnecessary harm to others. What mattered was Toshin... if he would come anyway, regardless of the winner and he would get his chances with him, it was of no importance to him who the King of the Iron Fist would be... perhaps Eddy had greater need of the money... he could have it. He would speak with his grandfather and ask if a change should be possible... but...
He drew his breath, only to reject it again and lifted his eyes to the sky...
'a part of him... should learn to live withit...'
and he didn't even know which part of him that was...
Really... which part of him could he identify to be... what?
He had known his mother all his life... the frankness between them had helped him know her well enough to know which of her precepts he had inherited... but then... should everything everyone said be true, why didn't he reject the other half of him, one that only now he begun noticing too? It could be anything but a cruel, heartless side... yet... how could this be if he really was... the son of... someone so...
His mother's kindness was in his mind... her endless capacity of forgiveness, her ability to find love in everything, see the good into all... That mother could have found a reason to love someone even if he was... or was she so innocent she didn't see who he really was? Could it be that what lead her to him was but a desperate frivolity of a young girl to believe in something? His thoughts either sickened him or plainly drowned him in despair...
I don't blame you, mother...'
'...learn to live withit... live withit...'
Oh, the endless innuendoes behind these words... Why would he have to bare the badge of crookedness for the actions of someone he had never met, even if this someone was his father... and could he but respect the man to whom he owed his life, even if there were times of frustration when he blamed the day of his birth? So was he too a crime? Did he inherit an evil character, lurking for the opportunity to erupt? Had he never been good and all this time he lived in an illusion? Was he too... a criminal? or was he... the... the De~
Even to think of the word killed him.
'My father was a criminal...'
and he left it to that. He left it to the least painful condition, unsettled to whether he should be glad or not, some questions could never be answered...
You loved him...
Why did you love him?
You had your reasons, I'm sure, it's only that...
Do these people love back?
Did he care about you? Did he?
For me, no, I don't care about me... Besides... he couldn't know...
...and... even... if he... did...
Anyone else would have skipped in panic at the resonant bellow, for nobody had the courage to face the unpredictable wrath of Heihachi Mishima. The guards standing in the corners of the hall surely did and in their commanded silence they could only contemplate at the inanity of the youngster, for the resoluteness on his otherwise soft face was steadfast and the only reason his eyes didn't meet the astringent, below the bushy eyebrows, stare of the despotic elder, was respect and innate remorse.
Alike was Heihachi striving to swallow down all the oaths he wished to shoot at his face and that urge that like a volcano burst into him, spurring him to seize with both hands the youngster by the throat and enjoy the sound of the crashing of his backbone as he would brandish him to his slow, painful death.
"What are these words you're telling me, Jin san?" he said and his words were fuming. He couldn't get Jin to look at him and he wished so much to crush his fist upon his tranquil face.
"I don't wish to fight anymore. I employ myself with unnecessary cruelty... Those fighters have never been my target. I want to reserve my fight just for Toshin..."
Heihachi glared upon him for a while, not knowing what to think of. Where was so much indolence coming from? It must have been his mother's influence, for no Mishima abandoned the path of battle... And yet, it wasn't a resignation out of sudden outbreak of morality, he was certain of that, but what was it that all of a sudden brought such a change to Jin's character? Only days before he avowed ready to kill Toshin and previous to that, he was craving for that tournament...
He knew he should have never complied... He knew it damn well. That ignorant youth had no idea of how fierce indeed the Iron Fist was meant to be. Although he had proclaimed complete readiness, he surely had not fastened yet that he would be indeed fighting for his life... and in such a fight, there hardly ever is a pleasant outcome. Even to the winner.
"Leave us!" his voice boomed in the hall and the guards executed the order immediately. After that, Heihachi turned all of his attention on Jin.
"Did that match against the young Korean bother you?"
"That is one thing too."
"You'd better give explanations, Jin-san."
Jin didn't hesitate a moment but courageously returned Heihachi's enraged stare.
"What is the objective of this tournament? Is it the price that goes to the winner they fight for? Is it the need to put oneself to the ultimate fighting test? Is it glory? Is it fame? What is there really behind all these?"
"Jin-san, these are no questions you should be posing to me and the time is really inappropriate."
The youth only bent his head and Heihachi respired angrily.
"When I was telling you that you were not prepared for the Iron fist, this is exactly what I had in mind. I had foreseen your conflict, Jin-san. I knew you didn't know where you were getting yourself into. Yes, since you ask. This is the Iron Fist. A parlour where you put yourself to the test. A place where you see if you have what it takes, if you are prepared to reach out and touch at whatever dream you have laid aside on the top of the climax..."
"I only wanted a chance to meet with Toshin... and avenge my mother's death... I never wanted to bring more disaster than what I already have..."
"I'm asking you again, Jin-san. Is it because of the young Korean?"
Jin nearly succeeded to his pain and Heihachi snared his eyes but the youth never saw it.
"I should have let him win..." he stammered.
"Jin-san, whatever way is this to regard a fight!" Heihachi said angrily and Jin looked up at him. His eyes glistered and he knew that... should he slap him across the face...
Knowing better, he chose to talk.
"Mr Gordo had every fair possibility to win the match and he lost due to his opponent's superiority. To that the rules are plain. Winner moves on, the loser gets out of the order. So was it with your match against Hwoarang. This is the Iron Fist, Jin-san. It's not a charity event, otherwise, the money would be donned freely. I will not take your request."
Jin nodded once but Heihachi knew he wasn't entirely convinced... Damn that steadfastness of that boy... Once his mind was caught in one direction, he wouldn't change it for the world. He too nodding in return.
"Make Toshin be your own private goal and storm your way through your battles of the Iron Fist. Toshin is but one opponent. The real battle against him has long begun. You have started it by coming to me once upon and you have almost reached there. You can't afford to quit now..."
And Jin closed his eyes complying.
"Besides, Jin-san... It's a matter of responsibility. You have started this... Be a man of your word and pull it through." he said bitterly.
Jin's eyes squinted a little... had he heard the sarcasm in his words?
One more day... Just one more day, he thought.
He had waited this far... he could take one more day...
How long could a day possibly be?
Was it the anxiety of his oncoming fight or the fact that he had to face Eddy Gordo and tell him that he couldn't see to his request?
He jumped as he didn't expect the phone to ring. In the first tones, he was just staring at it, until he decided to pick it up and was at best surprised when he was answered by a crude voice, almost too hurried.
"Yes, that's me..."
The voice on the phone coughed.
"Look here kid... I know a few things you want to know..."
"Really?" he inquired incredulously.
"No, I'm just wasting my time on the phone. Yes, really!"
"And what might that be?"
"Listen to you... Talking like a high classer..."
Jin exhaled in annoyance.
"Look, I'm sure what you have to say must be very interesting, but..."
"236 [That street]. Be there at seven. It's about Toshin." the voice cut.
And the line went down.
It was one poorly region. The house was no worse than any other shack in that filthy street. Flies swarmed about and tried to settle on his carefully polished hair. With a gesture of bothered annoyance he shook them off and cautiously walked to the half open, half hanging door.
When he stepped into the unlit, damp room, the smell was even more intolerable and he couldn't help a grimace of displeasure. Immediately his eyes picked out Lei Wulong and he knew he had come to the right place. Next to him was the dweller of this damp, in shape not better than his house was.
Leaning on a nearly rusty walking stick, unwashed for probably weeks, with his long unkempt silver white hair, disorderly tied behind his head with strands hanging out of place and nearly hiding a good portion of his weary unshaved face, he stood next to the detective and a cigarette smoked in his ochre fingers. Jin took a look upon him and met two small, black circled eyes, lost behind hair and heavy lids. The cripple wasn't more than fifty but he sure looked a lot more and he regarded him in return. He never expected him to start chortling.
"Damn, you didn't have to tell me who he is!" he said, his words directed to the detective but his eyes on him and while Lei only looked at him with reminders of sadness on his face, he chose to look at the weird man.
"You wanted to tell me something, mr Wulong..." he interposed a question, always eyeing the pauper and new laughs were coughed through his lips, eventually ending to violently hacking years of chain smoking.
"Hee, he even sounds the same!" he said, striking the back of his fist upon Lei's arm and Jin was still at a loss. Detective Lei Wulong only inclined his eyes to a sombre expression and only after the man with the silver white unkempt thatch had exhausted his lounges, did his eyes meet his and the smirk in his lips was almost tragic.
"Well, well, well..." he grumbled. "Kazuya's son has honoured my humble abode..." he declared and if he was in a hassle before, he was utterly struck now.
He looked deeply into the eyes of that man but he didn't have any idea as to how he knew about him... It wasn't just the astonishment that a stranger knew, but moreover... Nobody other than his mother had ever called him the son of... that man...
"How do you know?" he said after hesitation.
The cripple chuckled, a reminiscence of a smirk emerged on his impaired lips.
"How do I know he asks... I just have to look at you! It screams all over your damn face, your eyes, everything!" he almost shouted but Jin was no less bewildered.
"Come in, Jin," Lei suggested, without leaving the side of the other man.
Jin moved to the moment the suggestion was given, his eyes looking around. On one of the walls hung a huge poster of a man but sun and dampness had spent its vivid colours. The man himself had faint yellow, wax-like skin and his once upon mighty bearing and appeal of his strength had gone, as much from his picture as of the living representation. Only then Jin seemed to recall him. He was among those dead people of the forbidden room.
"That's you," he said, not taking his eyes from the picture.
"How did you tell, does it have my name on it?" the cripple returned sharply but Jin didn't look at him as he studied the poster. Lee Chaolan it read and the silver hared devil posed with his fists clenched in leather gloves, one proposed at his chest, dressed in a tight dark violet shirt and leather striped pants while his silver rich silky hair reached teasingly for his apple cheeks. Deep contempt and derision were read in his glare, befitting anyone with his strength, skills and lively charms.
Ultimately Jin turned back to the two other men. Lee Chaolan was frantically searching his pockets for cigarettes and hastily stuck one between his lips. The lighter wasn't functioning and it wasn't until he growled a couple of times that it yielded to a flame. Soon a cloud of smoke dissolved before his face and the heavy smell of tobacco pierced his nostrils.
"Sorry I don't offer you kid, I don't have plenty..." he apologised.
"That's ok, I don't smoke anyway..." Jin confessed and got an eyebrow raised in question. He shook off the impression and turned to Lei, wanting to hasten things.
"There was something you wanted to talk to me about." he said.
Jin remained expectantly. He was more comfortable facing him, especially after the last time they had talked. Lei seemed to understand Jin's confidence and that, although it gratified him, alike hindered him from talking.
"I have good reasons to believe you are in a great danger," Lei started. "I have good reasons to believe the War God is deliberately leaded to you."
Jin took a breath as he interrupted the detective.
"Mr Wulong," he said talking slowly, "I know he is coming for me... I knew it all the way, that's why I'm here..."
Only then, seeing Lei's disagreeing face did the realisation strike him. He involuntarily inclined his head and a look of suspicion twisted his brows. The other man, Lee Chaolan suck at his cigarette, watching interested and his eyes sealed each time he took another inhale.
"...Lead?" he uttered and Lei nodded affirmatively.
"Your grandfather is trying to lure the War God, not to destroy him but I'm afraid... to become one with him..."
Jin gaped in surprise.
"What are you talking about?" he said and Lee Chaolan shook his head, coughing in a voiceless laughing.
"Ever since the day that spirit broke to the face of earth, mysterious disappearances took place," Lei went on. "The world was ignorant but the secrecy even of the happenings restrained the attention, even though the victims were martial artists, supposedly fit to defend themselves and thus the simple people were more scared... Only lesser priests of small cults clamoured about it, but no one took heed of them... No one but your grandfather, Jin..."
Jin closed his eyes for a moment.
"Mr Wulong... what you are saying..." he started.
"I don't expect you to believe me, son... but I'm afraid he has used you as a decoy... preparing you all this time to trade you..."
His head was turning madly and he couldn't even swallow. He brought up his hand defensively.
"I... I can't grasp this, it's irrational, I..."
"I know it's too much to take Jin but~"
"Mr Wulong..." Jin stopped him. "To say such a thing about my grandfather..."
"Jin, I know what it sounds like. But I'm ready to explain myself if you will~"
It was Lee Chaolan this time, putting his hand before Lei, as if to catch his words before they reached Jin.
"Wo, wo, wo, hold it, Lei. Let me do that part." he said roughly and Lei silenced.
Jin turned his eyes upon him... He was a weary man but his eyes still spoke of steadfastness and pride of himself as he looked upon him, contemptuously even.
"Why you think the old man is taking care of you? Out of love?" he straightway asked and Jin only looked with eyes widened. At seeing his stupefaction, Lee laughed and sighed in nostalgia even.
"There was a time when he gave me the same shit... Clothes, money to by all the menthols and powder in the world, fancy cars, damn chicks..." he mused.
Jin shook his head looking at him, his lips unable to form the words he couldn't find. And then, Lee's face melted to one of pain as he wrathfully looked up at him.
"He used me! He had some need of me and so he kept me, like he's keeping you!" he broke out and yet Jin's eyes grew more intense, irked at looking at him.
"He is NOT keeping me! We work together to capture Toshin!" he said angrily and to that, Lee only angered even more.
"You silly ass! You really think the old gooseberry wants Toshin dead? Hey, now that there's a good one!" he gibed, even though Jin wasn't ready to take a joke, even if Lei looked anxious. He laughed his patented smile, this nasty one that used to be his charm once upon but now was only cruel as it was turned upon Jin with bitter knowledge.
"He only longs for power, son! More and more power and all he wants Toshin is to capture and drain him and you, my little one, are his agent to get Toshin! Or you think it's your cute face that works the miracles?"
Jin clasped his head, his face melted to sorrow. He was ever doubtful but how could he simply ignore what he was being told?
"Why... why would he..." he stammered to get a blunt reply.
"Because he hates you, damn it."
He shut his eyes.
"... why?" he faintly whispered. And still he wasn't able to take what came.
"Because you are the son of your father." Lee's words came.
"Please, this is no time to dissociate~"
"Damn, don't you know anything?" Lee interrupted his stammering. When Jin looked in anguish at him, he had an insistent face.
"I'm not telling you lies, kid! The old man killed your father. Next he's gonna kill you! Or are you too blind to see?"
"That's not true. My father died in an accident." Jin said weakly and in distress he saw Lei trying to say something, only Lee was faster than him as he almost laughed.
"Yeah," he said. "Someone 'accidentally' broke his neck!"
Jin looked at Lei.
"Mr Wulong..." he uttered, almost pleading, but the detective only returned a solemn stare.
"He's telling you the truth, Jin..." he said.
As his eyes declined, Lei took the lead.
"When your father was the King of the Iron Fist, your grandfather challenged him in combat... In that fight he lost his life..."
"That doesn't mean anything..." Jin said, despite Lee shook his head in adherent denial.
"Perhaps he killed him by accident and now blames himself for it!" he added. "I don't think any father would kill his own son, especially Heihachi..."
"So you think!" Lee said harshly and Jin couldn't but meet his angered eyes.
"I can't believe he would deliberately kill h~"
"He would kill him right as he got as much as one chance which is exactly what he did!" Lee shouted. "He hated him I'm telling you and don't tell me how I know! I was there and saw it with my own eyes..."
Jin rubbed his cheeks with one hand.
"Then I assume they are right and he is really very cruel..." he said, his voice grated from tears he wouldn't permit.
However, Lee's face softened to even grievous.
"Your father wasn't cruel kid..." he said and Jin turned his head up to respire the damp air.
"I do not know him really... He's just the man... who lured my mother to bed... that's who he is..." he uttered and the shame of his words flushed clearly upon his cheeks.
"Maybe it's about time you learned the whole thing, kid... you are a grown up man now. It's high time for some truth..." Lee said steadfastly.
Only Jin nodded in disagreement.
"From what I've heard, I doubt I want to learn more..."
"You don't believe a thing, do you!" Lee asked and an ironic smile was on his lips.
Jin shook his head in fright even, as he saw his world piece by piece being ripped down, once again.
"You keep libelling my grandfather when he was the one to help me when nobody else did and~"
"You call me a liar?" Lee said, almost simpering from anger.
"I haven't accused you," Jin tried hurriedly to say "but dare you expect me to believe that my grandfather would~"
"Goddamnit kid!" Lee burst and Jin almost stepped back, such was the rage in his voice. He looked upon Lee's face as it relented to tears that streamed on the wrinkles of his face and, such was his heart that he too felt like weeping. But Lee shook his head, his mouth gaping at him.
"I was there! I was there every day, every moment and I've seen it all! I've seen the real face of the old man, I've seen him torturing your father, I've seen what he'd put him through and he was not to blame for a thing! Not a fucking thing!"
Jin was gaping, trembling undecided on whether to give way to frustration and cry or just run out of this house.
"I loved your father, kid! I loved him as a brother, dammit! And it was the day before he died that I had promised I would save him!..."
Lee dissolved into streams of tears. Jin couldn't even think as he looked at him simpering.
Lei padded on Lee's shoulder and he sniffed tiredly.
"It never happened..." he sobbed, as he brushed his reddened cheeks. "...so I owe him one..."
Jin closed his eyes and watched as Lee took his steps by the wall, in the only dry place of his house and with difficulty, eased down on the floor, his head resting on his hand, leaning on his bent knee.
"Come on," he said, looking over at Jin. Sit and I'll tell you..."
Complying, Jin came closer to Lee. Lei approached too and nodded positively. From the looks they exchanged, he realised that what Lee was about to say would be new for either of them. So he lowered on the floor next to Lee and listened.
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