Author's Note: Wow! ^___^ I've gotten so many nice replies about this story... and I'm so new to this stuff too! I'm so happy/excited/grateful! ^_____^ You guys are so cool! *Is happy* Thanks so much for reading~! ^_^ ^_^ ^_^ v I was in a playful mood because of all the reviews. ^_^ I'm sorry if this chapter's a little ^_^ It's also 3:43 in the morning so I'm in Zombie mode. I'll probably have to delete it tomorrow after I realize it's all crap from a rambling insomniac.

Well, ain't that quaint

Chapter 3 - Namida shini Omae ni kaerou

By Crimson Assassin

The Hotel's cheap, last vacant room was as small as the unlikely duo had guessed. There was nothing more than a tiny bed, and a night stand with a lamp and army green phone next to a purple jar full of scented leaves on it. There was a paned window on the far wall that gave way to a beautiful, brick wall view. Mocha colored paint chipped and curled in strips in all corners of the plain, thin, drywall establishment. Alcohol and cigarette stench sank into everything, not hidden under the heady, lavender potpourri. Hwoarang frowned.

"Dude... What the... ?"

Jin, who had taken the lead, dropped his worn duffel bag to the stained, brown carpet with a 'pack', cover of the concrete flooring beneath the thin, mahogany matting disguise revealed. Hwoarang frowned deeper and closed his eyes.

"It's gonna be SO cold in here tonight-"
"God, you complain a lot!"

With a cheerful grin, Jin turned and plopped down into the simple, single white sheet covered mattress. The overused springs angrily hissed in protest as they lamely took the fighter's weight. He crossed his arms behind his head as he closed his eyes contentedly.

"What are YOU so happy about!?"

Hwoarang, arms crossed over his chest, leaned against the doorway, military issued satchel still tight in his frustrated, white-knuckled grip as he glared,

"You'd figure a rich pretty-boy like you could do better than THIS!", he grunted to emphasize his point. His reply was a light chuckle.

In reluctant defeat, the Korean lowered his guard. Throwing his 'luggage' on the floor next to Jin's, he took a cautious seat at the very foot of the bed. Jin cracked open an eye, still grinning to himself. Hwoarang refused to make eye contact.

"Does it really make you that uncomfortable? I never figured you, of all people, to be the shy type."

"Lay off it, jerk. This is all your fault."

"What is?"

"... "

There was a long pause. Amber eyes lowered even further,

"This... this whole thing. I'm so... well, honestly, confused. Something about this is... cool and all... but... I mean... I'm sitting here trying to hold a civilized conversation with... Jin Kazama."

Jin was seriously taken aback. Was it true that Hwoarang, that hot-headed, trouble making, no-good street punk...(Hwoarang sneezed)...could he really have put so much thought into this? Did he genuinely care about where this newfound friendship took them? Would they be able to remain friends, even after the tournament? Did the Blood Talon really want that?

Jin sat up, crossing his legs Indian style and resting his forearms on his tight, blue jean clad thighs. The red head stared a hole into the cheap, moldy floor, loosing himself in thought and self-pity.

"Hwoarang. You'd make conversing a lot easier if you'd look up every once and a while so I'd know if you're still conscious or not."

Hwoarang looked up briefly, catching Jin's chocolate gaze for the briefest of seconds before tearing them back down to his hands in his lap.

"There." He mumbled pathetically. It was Jin's turn to frown.

"Well, I'll start off by saying 'I know what you mean'," Jin scratched the back of his neck, a little nervous now for the oddest reason, "I never expected to be in a situation quite like this with... you. I've always wanted to get... to get to know you better but... "

"-But I was jackass and told you off whenever we were in the same room together."

"Uh...yeah, kinda."

Hwoarang raked a pale, slender hand through his soft, orange mop, biting his lower lip, pink gently staining his cheeks.

"Yeah...well...uh," he coughed, "Sorry about that and stuff...I guess."

Jin laughed, if for nothing else but to ease the tension,

"Hey, it wasn't entirely your fault. I didn't help by shooting back."

Hwoarang smiled, looking down, now, at his powder blue sneakers. (Which TOTALLY didn't match his outfit. Lol)

"Damn, you made some pretty stupid comebacks then."

Jin grinned, "Hey, shut up."

Hwoarang glanced up slyly and cocked an eyebrow, "Was that an example?"

Jin shook his head, then jumped and grabbed him in a headlock, tension miraculously broken for the moment as they rough-housed on the squeaky bed over who's insults were the nastiest.

"How's that for your comebacks? Huh? Huh?" Jin forced between noogies as Hwoarang tried desperately to free himself, "Think you're clever now, little Korean boy?"

They were both laughing, laughing and playing like two old buddies who had spent their childhood together. Hwoarang finally escaped and jumped back, gasping for breath between fits of laughter as the force of his disentanglement managed to knock Jin backwards over the side of the bed into the nook between the mattress and the wall. He came around to find the raven haired youth sprawled on his back, legs still partly hanging from the bed, cursing through a vengeful, but playful grin.

"I'd ask if you were okay...but that'd be too pansy-ass,"  Hwoarang smirked, extending a hand to help him up. Jin allowed Hwoarang to heave them both back onto the bed. They sat smiling innocently at each other for a few moments before they both pounced again.

After a good 15 minutes of tickle attacks, something Jin found to his advantage, and ear flicking, which Hwoarang found amusing, the boys collapsed into the springs next to each other. At least it wasn't as cold anymore, right?

They laid content with the silence for the first time, the only sound being their heavy breathing and synchronized thudding of their rapidly beating hearts in their heaving chests. When they at last calmed, a good few minutes later, Hwoarang smiled.

"I think...I like being your friend, Jin."

To be continued

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