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DISCLAIMER: All featured Tekken characters are the property of Namco and not the authors.
Notes: Here starts the sequel to "In the Skin of a Lion". Constructive criticism is welcomed!
Warnings: Eventual lemon parts, language & violence.
Chapter One - Botanicals
By Aaronica and Orfik
Close to the city, fighting to stave off its suffocating cosmopolitan fumes, there was a botanical garden whose staff all knew Jin by name, even the newest employees. In the evenings it was populated enough to be not dull but still private and comfortable, enough so for Jin not to have to debate too long about occasionally squeezing Hwoarang's hand or, if no one was nearby, sneaking a kiss. Squinting thoughtfully, Jin pondered over the question that Hwoarang had just asked him.
"She's very friendly to me, but Ling's like that to everyone. I don't /think/ she likes me..." But the Korean's allegation had him wondering now. Jin hadn't thought greatly of it before.
Ling's just cute. Ling's just sweet. Ling's just a kid. Hwoarang heard the same hook before, but since Blood Talon was having a hard time weathering these public displays of affection as it was, he didn't object much to changing the subject -- it was something he could bring up later, when she happened to enter into their conversation again.
Not that Hwoarang was worried about Xiaoyu (hell, she was just a kid) or that, with each squeeze of Jin's hand or brief kiss on his lips, he wasn't on the verge of shoving the Japanese against a glass-walled corner and ravishing him on the spot But, well, Jin was so innocent. He couldn't tell those were Betty Davis eyes looking at him from the face of little sister-like Xiaoyu Ling .. ? Or that Hwoarang was having a hard time defining himself as that roughhewn, smack-talking street hustler being cuddled at every corner?
Hwoarang swallowed at the latest squeeze and cast a self-conscious glance over his shoulder.
"Maybe not. She's just a kid, anyway. Heey, that suit over there look familiar?" It looked like one of Jin's babysitters.
Jin thought that Ling looked twelve and it was frightening. Hwoarang truly had nothing to wor--. His thoughts were cut off by two realizations which occurred one after the other, and Jin had to decide which was more important. It wasn't as hard as he'd expected. Stopping, the Japanese turned towards Hwoarang, his face open and curious.
"Does it bother you if I'm, you know.. close to you, out here?" If it was a guard, he would still be there when this matter was done with.
Hwoarang started to gush, boyish lips parted, then paused on a mute word. He shifted his weight to a heel, looked from the suit to the flowers and the old people and smiled a little. It wasn't like he was in danger of running in to Taisho in a greenhouse, eh? Hwoa-kun, being so silly! Making Jin feel unwanted. He shrugged shoulders holding up a thin leather jacket and reached for his lover's hand, aligning the knuckles with his parted lips for a brief kiss, and then letting it go to murmur.
" .. No, it's cool." He'd forgotten about the suit, because Jin's oceanic set of eyes monopolized his attention.
Sometimes this was as awkward for Jin as it was for Hwoarang; whenever he attempted to apply logic to romance. When Jin smiled the corners of his eyes softened the way they did only for the Korean.
"Alright. I just wanted to be sure." That look faded, though, as he looked over his shoulder, rubbed his forehead and sighed softly. "...I wish Hayase-san's men weren't so good at their jobs."
Hwoarang's gaze pooled on the voyeur, his unhindered right hand curling in compact fist; he missed the significant forehead rubbing, but he wouldn't be able to do that again until his left hand healed completely. He'd gained the man's attention, as evidenced by a sharpening of the man's brow, and Hwoarang gave Jin's guard a wink. His intentions molded his mouth into a hostile smirk.
"Let's say hi."
"No d--" Jin began, but it was too late and Jin cast a chagrined smile over at the guard and waved two fingers feebly. That man -- Jin could never remember his name -- returned a rather dark expression and drifted out of sight. Jin would be getting Hayase's 'The Mishima Protection Forces aren't a joke' sermon tonight for sure, but he'd live.
"Maybe we should start selling tickets."
"Bock bock!" Hwoarang yelled. He had to lean forward to get the most distance out of the sound intended to reach the yellow-spying-bastard and echo in his ears for the rest of the night. Naturally, his insult drew the attention of an aged couple viewing a collection of irises and baby's breath, who stared at the obvious criminal with mild trepidation before hobbling away. Of course they thought they were running. But they were old.
"Ah, Joon--..." Jin rubbed the back of his head.
"Hmn .. ? He ran." Hwoarang gave Jin an innocent look.
Jin couldn't be embarrassed by a face like that. His mouth relaxed into a smile and he said with subtle mirth, "That did the trick better than I figured. Maybe I'll start carrying a bullhorn." Jin moved to fill the paces that separated them.
"Then what would be the point of having me 'round to protect you .. ?" From shining innocence to mischievous grins -- Hwoarang was good at manipulating human expressions. Only problem he had was containing them -- he sucked at Poker.
They certainly would have had that in common if Jin had ever played Poker because he could neither manipulate his own expressions nor contain them. Jin was the worst liar in the world.
"You know, you're exactly right. Forget that idea," he said. Approaching Hwoarang from behind, Jin slung his arms about the man's neck, coming forward as he pulled him back into a hug and grinned against his cheek. It was a brief and simple gesture but a powerfully intimate one. "You're probably bored stiff here. Trees and flowers. Wow."
As Hwoarang's gaze settled on an artificial bower of sakura trees he thought that hiding there would make things more exciting. Such was the rhythm of Hwoarang's thoughts when Jin touched him; kissed him; pressed him. He turned perpendicular in the embrace, binding Jin against him with an arm around his solid waist, and lifted his face to whisper at an earlobe.
"Not exactly BORED stiff." Hwoarang hooked the fleshy earlobe on the tip of his tongue, behaving like a rascal.
"What d--" Jin's face burned and he laughed even as his fingers spread out from his hands like little branches eager for the sunlight of Hwoarang's body. "Now we'll make them stare all over again," he said, a little softer and half-kiddingly. Jin's touch lessened only a little as his body drifted away again.
"I want you." A suck, a nibble, and a hot slurp -- and then Hwoarang was meeting Jin's eyes, tightening his hold. "Can I have you .. ?"
The Korean wasn't just trying to get out of looking at more midget trees or old people and Jin looking at midget trees; he loved listening to the Japanese's carefree voice as he explained the types, or the critical lines between his brow when he discussed the care taken. It was just a little hard to keep platonic when the wonderment was at a reach. It was like getting a Harley and not riding it.
Well, kinda like that. Jin was better than a Harley. Waaay better. Jin was a lot more flexible than a motorcycle too -- Hands down better between the legs. Hwoarang thought his seat was a lot more cushy, too.
Jin flushed, meeting those eyes intensely because there was no choice when it came to Hwoarang's. They were the nicest shade of brown he'd ever known and they had that faint little ring of a more reddish hue around the outer edges that Jin would be happy to stare at for hours.
"You do have me," Jin murmured, "every little piece. ... Maybe we should head out?"
"Yeah," Hwoarang seconded, reluctant to let go. The obstinance of intimacy drove him to hold Jin's hand tightly once he did untie himself, his slender fingers stitching themselves into the others. He pulled a few yards ahead and then slowed once they'd exited under the greenhouse's glass marquee, cutting Jin a glance. " .. my place?"
Jin always felt a funny sort of chill run down his back whenever he thought about Hwoarang's warehouse of a home, almost always simply because of the sound that the lights made when flipped alive. But it wasn't like he could casually duck outside and tell Hwoarang to let him know they were on. Maybe he could say he was scared of the dark?
"Sounds great," he smiled. Mostly.
Someone tapped Hwoarang's outer shoulder, and he figured it was an old lady needing directions. He would tell her to see the visitor desk first desk on her right because maybe she was blind or deaf or something. Hwoarang looked.
It was only a shove away but it might has well have been a portable wall that knocked Hwoarang roughly forward and out of the way, very effectively severing all his faggy-ass ties with the Kazama. Then Fury was free to snare Jin by the shoulder as the boy was opening his dumbass mouth and jerk the teenager in his own direction. The punch seemed to echo off of plants and walls alike and the Japanese went careening away into foliage with a splash of blood, too out of it even to utter a sound.
It was almost like they crawled out of the woodwork; afterwards Fury wouldn't be able to recall seeing where a single one of them at come from. He only knew now that they were on six sides of him, different bodies but each of them with the same uniform and the same expressionless face and the same gun pointed at his head.
The American made no hurry whatsoever to spit his toothpick on the ground and then he very, very slowly lifted his gloved hands.
"I was just saying hello," he muttered casually in wolfish Japanese.
Someone screamed; that chased away all the little chickens dancing circles around Hwoarang's head. The instant wall had thrown him to a crumble in the doorway, and the slam of both hands against the concrete set the healing process back about three weeks. That sharp, searing pain was probably what brought the chickens on, not the bruise along his spine. He took a couple of seconds to focus on his assailant -- noting with a panicked frown the absence of Jin -- and then sprung to his feet, yelling without thinking.
"BASTARD .. !" Hwoarang wasn't the kind of fighter to hit a man from the back, even if Bryan Fury was, so he drew his attention before he charged forward, intending to gore the man's abdomen with a shoulder. He hadn't noticed the suits, or where Jin had fallen. He only knew letting Fury stand wouldn't do much good.
For the goddamn record let it be remembered that Fury had turned Kazama before cleaning his fucking clock. And the ex-cop was also feeling pretty regretful right now. Why'd he spit out his toothpick? It'd been a great toothpick. He missed it. The girly one was throwing a hissy and Fury turned his head in her direction.
As did the three closest Mishima guardsmen, along with their handguns. They didn't have much interest in physically stopping Hwoarang, so if he wasn't in the mood to cause even more trouble for them and get a couple bullets to the head, well, he'd need to stop himself pretty darn quickly.
There was a man crouched by Jin, shouting into a walkie-talkie, but Jin could not make out what he said, nor any of the identities of the people and plants that surrounded him. All were dreamy, tranquil blotches of color, he discovered as he sat jerkily up, covering his crushed nose as it soaked his hand with blood; like clouds in the sky tinged by rain only on their distant borders. He thought he heard someone ask him something, but he wasn't sure. Jin stared mindlessly at the ground in front of him.
Fury snorted to himself. "One damn punch and he's broken," he mumbled. "Jesus Christ."
As Hwoarang slammed into the white haired monster he seemed to remember that he practiced taekwondo, and that Fury's first blow must have put it in his mind that sumo wrestling was an option. How did the lamppost get in the way? Targeted and shot for Fury, yet he still collided with a lamppost?
But it was Bryan Fury, and he was a pillar that repelled Hwoarang like a richochet'd bullet. The Korean retained enough momentum to keep his footing. Hwoarang finally discovered the poised guns of the guardsmen with confusion, and was even more confused to discover their direction indicated Fury. He searched past them for Jin, not sure whether to throw his hands up or run forward.
For the first and probably only time in his life, Hwoarang would prove useful to Fury. Talk about a great distraction. Bryan couldn'tve planned it better himself. The American first took out the three guards facing him with a single kick that sent them sprawling like armed and uniformed dolls, and by the time the others turned back it was too late. Almost.
Two of them were able to fire, one in the side of Fury's neck and the other in his shoulder. Unfortunately, that of course meant nothing except perhaps more anger for Fury and that was not what they needed. There was a fountain in the center of the circular path not too far inside the garden and when Fury grabbed those shitters by the neck and threw them he aimed for it. It was like a dart board, kind of, except he'd score more points if they hit the stone edge and not the water center. It didn't matter, though, and he'd already turned away by the time they landed. The sixth man fell cleanly, clutching what had previously been an arm, and Fury admired the gun now in his hands momentarily before aiming it at Hwoarang. He shut an eye as he grinned, tilting his head a little to the side as he jerked the gun at Kazama.
"Go on, girlie. M'leaving unless you'd like me to snap you in half a few times first."
Bryan paid no attention to the swarm of men who were rushing into the garden now. Uniformed but not as guardsmen, they descended on the baffled Jin, shouting all sorts of things, telling him to do this and not to this and move like this. He was unable to make any of it out but somehow found himself on a stretcher.
"I see. Little girls use guns, and they talk too much." Finding Jin cleared Hwoarang's head of all its distracting concerns, and an urge to protect accompanied with his economy size set of cajones compelled him to bait. The bullet hit the ground close enough to spray dirt on Hwoarang's foot.
"Go to your girlfriend, faggot."
Anyone would have jumped a little -- but it wasn't like he hadn't been shot at before. Hwoarang flexed into his offensive stance, glaring at Fury with flesh-eating hatred.
"Play time's over so soon, huh?"
Bryan squinted blankly. Here he was trying to let the little Korean whatever get off easy, and the baby was trying to assert his lack-of-a-manhood. Bryan contemplated his options, then. He could off the fucker right here or, when Kazama was done with, he could make a game of it.
Hey. Bryan liked that idea. "He'd probably cry, you know." His ashen, scarred face twisting into a pleased grin, Bryan tucked the gun into his belt.
"Pussy." Hwoarang's eyes never left his face.
A heel reached for Fury's chin at the speed of lightning ripping open an indigo sky, aimed to knock the grin past it. Hwoarang stretched his body like a cello string to achieve the disarming speed, and while his face was creased with hatred, it harbored the clarity of intense concentration.
It hit, too, just as Hwoarang wanted. This would have been where the lightning of agony raced through Fury, paralyzing him and weakening him if those nerves weren't long, long dead. The end result was a pop of bone, probably a vertebra or something, Fury wasn't sure, and enough force to knock the ex-cop away. Hey, even he had to respect that.
"Meow." It looked as though Fury was all set to lunge forward and crumble Hwoarang's torso, even right up to the point that a gloved hand snared the cast on his arm and Hwoarang discovered that, y'know, they really didn't make those things like they used to. Bryan squeezed until he got the sound that satisfied him.
Hwoarang yelled in a throaty, hoarse pain and slapped his fingers around the iron glove that crushed his injury, as if this were a cold day in Hell and he could dislodge it. The grasp had the same effect of a lunge; Hwoarang staggered to his knees, involuntarily genuflecting before the platinum-haired demon.
"Maybe they'll put you in the same room," Fury offered helpfully as he tossed away the limb. He didn't want the Korean's fag germs. Bryan turned and slid his hands into his back pockets. Amidst the chaos of shouting voices and rushing and dead bodies, he blithely ambled off into the garden as he whistled some tune he'd heard on the radio, a week or year or decade ago.
There came out of the din of voices around the Japanese, the one he owned himself. It said "Joon," smally and still baffledly and it was a wonder that it could be heard at all. It came a second time, and once Jin realized that he was saying it he swallowed to clear the blood from his throat and made it into a mantra. They were pulling the stretcher onto its wheels.
As they rolled it over the rubble of plantlife, everyone was telling Jin to stop sitting up and to keep his hands on the gurney, because it seemed like all he cared about was the Korean. They put on an oxygen mask, they gave him a saline IV, they did myriad other excess, frantic things. Someone in uniform -- luckily that of a medic, came to Hwoarang and she asked him if he could walk, urging him to stand as she saw the injury.
Hwoarang could stand. He could talk, too. He spoke one word, "Jin .. " Nearly pulling the woman down as he used her arm to raise himself, he spoke that word again, trembling in a delirium of pain. That left arm would never be the same.
No other medics had come to help Hayase's men, because there was no use. Those bodies would be taken away later not by the hospital, but the morgue.
"Jin .. " Hwoarang persisted, through a haze of agony -- the effort to stave off fainting showed on his tensed face.
"He'll be all right; he's going to be alright," she assured him with utter patience and kindness, and then she hollered over her shoulder for aid. A second person came, and he said nothing but worked along with the woman to help Hwoarang move out of the garden and to the ambulance.
"They said he says he wants you with him," the second medic spoke. Outside were flashing lights and sirens and crowds of people, some medics and some police and lots of them curious onlookers.
"Yes .. " he agreed, lying back against a cushion of darkness. He would apologize for failing when he woke up -- hopefully, next to Jin.
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