Author's Note: The story will rotate POV between Hwoarang and Jin. It will always be fairly simple to tell which is which, so you shouldn't get lost. Koorime wrote all of Jin's POV, actions, and dialogue, while Link621 wrote Hwoarang's actions, POV, and dialogue. Else than that, please enjoy.

Warnings: Yaoi, lemon, strong language, and that's about it. There is some character bashing, but it does not necessarily reflect our opinions of the characters. Any derogatory remarks containing something about being British are plainly out of anger for Steve Fox, and are in no way intended as discrimination.

DISCLAIMER: The Tekken Tournament/ King of Iron Fist and it’s competitors are not ours, they are property of NAMCO. Lyrics quoted in the beginning are from the Beatles song “Blackbird” (yes, I have an obsession with bird songs)

Tattered Wings - Part 8

By Koorime and Link621

"Blackbird fly Blackbird fly
Into the light of the dark black night.
Blackbird singing in the dead of night
Take these broken wings and learn to fly
All your life
You were only waiting for this moment to arise”


Act II: Scene III

Thank the powers that be for Lei Wulong.

“Hai... wakarimashita.” The guard lightly tapped the headset he’d been speaking into and turned to his partner. “Mishima-san has requested that we join the forces outside. Apparently, there is some sort of attack by the police on the front gates.”

“The police?” The other guard sounded surprised. “Well, okay. We’d better hurry.” The two raced off down the hall, leaving the adjacent hall they’d come from completely unguarded. I was slightly worried about the huge window of opportunity, but I wasn’t about to miss the chance... I ran as quietly as possible down the hall until I reached the elevator. I had come in the back of the building, so I was near some sort of utility elevator instead of the traditional kind.

“Hm, now all I need is to weigh two more tons to see if this can really hold all it claims,” I commented to myself wryly, pressing the button to take me down to the basement. I used the pause to pull out the blueprint again, glancing over it to determine where I was. Once I got to the bottom floor, I would have to use stairs to get down the remaining two floors, and to access those stairs, I needed a keycard and a code. I hadn’t honestly thought of how I would deal with that yet.

There would most likely be Mishima Special Forces to greet me as soon as I got off the elevator. I just had to hope that I was as ready to fight them as I thought I was. Sure, I was in top form as usual, and my Tae Kwon Do has improved greatly over the past few years, but all they had to do was be smart enough to be able to determine that I was fighting conservatively due to my ribs.

I was glad I didn’t have to fight Jin, that’s for damn sure. He’d be able to exploit all my weaknesses easily at this point in time. I think I’d finally get a loss to him on my record.

I heard the semi-pleasant ding of the elevator, and prepared myself to charge out as the floor settled beneath my feet. I concentrated on the door, willing it to open, and took stance the moment it began to, seeing the guards out in the hall. They turned at the sound of the elevator, looking at me curiously a moment before raising their rifles. But, neither of them ever got a shot off. One of them swept out of the way before I could figure out what happened. With a blue blur, the second was swept into the ground where his face was pounded into the ground.

His attacker was a robot. A very... blue robot.

“What... what the hell?” I tilted my head to the side slightly, studying the stance the robot was in. To my surprise, it took my stance, without the motion I normally had in my feet, and slightly cocked its head to the side, mirroring me perfectly. “Wait a second....” I held out a hand slightly, and watched as the robot moved almost in unison with me, carefully mirroring my moves.

“Isn’t Combot wonderful?” I heard a voice say from around the corner. A moment later, Lee, still disguised as Violet, stepped out from the shadows. He gave me a half smile. “You know, you shouldn’t be here, Hwoarang. They will kill you; especially on this level. There are some Kazuya loyalists down in these depths... they may welcome you, they may kill you before they ask questions. The point is; I know why you are here, and I don’t think it is worth the effort.”

Lee was going to stop me again?

“What do you have against our relationship, Lee? Do you have the world’s biggest chip, or something? Sure, this is dangerous, but it is worth it to me if I might be able to save Jin.” I stepped forward, finally actually completely off the elevator, and got in Lee’s face. “Is that really such a bad thing?”

“Isn’t it hypocritical to risk your life for someone like that if you can’t even save yourself?” I was taken aback by Lee’s words. “I wouldn’t worry for Jin, Hwoarang. If he is dead, that’s that. But, if he is alive... my father... no, Mishima Heihachi has tried to extract the devil gene from him. To trigger the gene in Jin, he must be at the absolute edge of death, or at the peak of agony, or maybe even the very peak of sorrow. This means, Heihachi will have tortured him, if he is alive. But, if he has been tortured, the wound of the demon inside him will be fresh, and even the slightest agitation will mean certain death for you.”

“Why are you here, Chaolan-san?” I asked, quickly changing the subject. I could see the remaining humor in Lee’s face evaporate as I spoke.

“Partly to help you,” he admitted, pushing up his sunglasses slightly. I noted that I would one day have to ask why he wore sunglasses even inside as Violet. “And... there is someone I want to help, too.” Lee looked sad for a moment before smiling at smug smile. “Plus, this’ll really piss Heihachi off.”

I decided not to question his motives, just nodding to him. “I can’t heed your warnings, Chaolan-san.”

“I know.”

“Thank you,” I said softly, bowing slightly as I turned left down the hall, headed for what should have been the room where Jin was. I could hear the sound of Combot and Lee headed in the other direction; possibly to cover me; or maybe just making a break for the entrance.

Lee was a good guy. Admittedly, I had to wonder if his motives were correct; but his heart, ultimately, was in the right place.

I had come to another fork in the road—or hallway as the case was, and I really had no idea which way to turn. I glanced at my watch, noting with a twinge of regret that I had spent far too much time talking with Lee, and that I really didn’t have the time to make the wrong choice then. I pulled a coin out of my pocket, turning it nervously in my fingers. “Heads I go left,” I told myself quietly just before flipping the coin. It landed heads up. I turned to the left and stopped myself.

Jin... where are you? I pleaded in my mind for him, hoping he had some sort of means of hearing my message. I never got his response, but I got a feeling in my gut I could not ignore. I had to go right, and I had to run—the guards outside his cage were leaving—though, I’m not sure how I knew. Trusting this, I turned around to face down the right branch of the hall. As soon as I did, I was trapped.

I flung myself against the invisible restraints, even though I knew struggling was useless. I was in pain from every imaginable point in my skin, but I also felt the blissful peace I had while I was alone in the room and on heavy drugs. The commotion gave me some hope. Something was about to happen, I just didn’t know what.

In a flash, I was back to reality, moving down the hallway at a full sprint. “What was that?” I muttered under my breath as I ran. It was another thing I would just have to store away in my memory to ask about later. For then, all I needed to do was focus on saving Jin, which was starting to seem too easy.

Maybe I was just that good; or they were just that bad. Now all I had to worry about were the highly trained ones that happened to be Kazuya followers. I slowed to a walk as I rounded a corner, cracking my knuckles as soon as I saw what was just around the bend in the stone wall. Six men were guarding the end of the hall where there was some sort of special chamber. None of them had firearms, but all took stance upon seeing me, which was a little disheartening.

“You want me?” I asked with a raised eyebrows. Then men all twitched slightly as if ready to attack on cue. I smiled, falling into stance and doing several motion switches before falling into my normal stance. “Come and get me!”

You always want what you cannot have.

I wanted warmth; I wanted to get away from the cold. But now my world was fire and I couldn't escape from it. It tells me that this is what I wanted, that only it can give it to me. And I know that it speaks the truth, the realization that I can only ever seek relief in this place… It's devastating - because I don't want this. Yet, I will always be cursed with it, I won't ever be free.

That much I know now for sure, at least.

Sometimes it shows me things that I will never remember when I wake up, but the feelings are still there; the sickening nausea, there was always fear, but the hate…. There was always so much hate, and that scared me even more. I hated them all, the demon, my grandfather and that damned doctor… In the end, I found that I hated myself more than anything. I feared the demon in me, feared what it would ultimately mean and what it would spell for others. I wondered how I could still think of them when my world was a sheet of red.

There were voices all around me, most were yelling and they sounded anxious. The loudest voice was inside my head and I didn't know if it was myself or the demon. Didn't know if there was any longer a distinction. There was the sound of metal screeching, straining and breaking. It sounded as though it had come from within me, but all I knew was that in the next second, I could move.

At first, I fell to the side, cold cement brushed my heated skin and I almost pressed down into it. After being denied movement for so long, my muscles were unwilling and taut; though my back felt suddenly free. Now on my knees, my head fell back as the familiar twitch at my shoulderblades gave rise to a whole new motion; the muscles in my back were drawing in one long pull. The contraction forced me to fall forward, my back arching as the skin tore with a sickening sound, but with it came a strange relief. There was a new weight on my back, but it was even and all-too familiar. Something light and soft brushed my cheek as I stretched the muscles in my back, still trying to regain the most basic of motor skills.

The voices were louder now and somewhere, there was a rhythmic siren that could have been an alarm. Or maybe it was just the pounding blood in my head. I couldn't make sense of much, though I sensed commotion and the presence of others as they inched near. Before I registered it, my hand had lashed out and connected with solid flesh. Everything was red.

“Take him down, take him down!”

“Sir, we have a situation!”

“I'm aware of that!” came the harsh reply.

The second voice spoke again. “No, sir, someone's infiltrated the third sector! Squadrons five and six are not responding!”

“Then get your ass down there, private!”

I realized detachedly, that I could finally see something. My world became more level as I stumbled to my feet, with much effort, and came face-to-face with a handful of men in dark attire, their weapons raised. This too, was familiar, but this time… This time things would end differently.

My world was a blank mask of red.

The primal rage tasted sweet on my tongue, and it wasn't until I tore my hand from the last man's chest, did I stop. I couldn't move, couldn't think, couldn't comprehend what I had just done. Looking down, my arms were tainted darker in comparison to the rest of me; despite the monochrome spectrum, I knew what was on my hands. I backed out of the dark liquid pooling at my feet, stumbling into the fallen table that had restrained me for so long. It seemed to shake beneath my hands, and the tremor somehow spread to my bones until my knees no longer held.

What had I done?

// You think now that you are so different from the rest of us? //

In my head, I could hear it laughing. I felt my forehead burn and subconsciously raised a hand to brush over the heated gem nestled there. I blinked in confusion as the laughter left my mind and echoed in the dank room; no, this was different. I knew that laugh.

I turned to face the man I no longer acknowledged as my grandfather and shrieked in surprise and outrage as something cold and hard latched onto my wrist. A similar cuff found my other wrist, coiling over my arms before yanking me back, hard. I slammed into something cold and solid; I had to assume that it was a pillar of sorts, for my arms were pulled back and against its smooth sides. Pain shot through my back as the unyielding stone collided with the new limbs protruding from beneath my shoulders. My body seemed to know itself better than I did; a moment later they were gone and I was pulled back completely as dark feathers fluttered down, brushing sharp pincers of heat where they met with my skin. I was shivering by the time the last feather touched the ground, and I somehow knew that the demon's retreat had something to do with the chains binding my wrists.

This time there would be no mother to whisper words of comfort in my ear.

My eyes remained closed in exhaustion from the spontaneous outburst; my body wasn't ready for this yet. That didn't mean I didn't try to lash out with everything I had when I felt that strong hand cup my jaw and lift it. When Heihachi spoke, his voice was gruff but contained a hint of pride. I couldn't imagine why, and didn't have the strength to care at the time.

“You've become strong, boy. You'll never know just how proud you've made me….”

A feral hiss fell from my lips, unable to find my voice. I wasn't given the time to expand on my reply when another man shouted something about police and gates. My mind was focusing to will the hand on my chin away, and finally it did. Only to be replaced by chilling metal on my chest.

“One day, Jin…. “ He assured me. A sharp pain followed as the knife ran its length diagonal down my chest; cold air kissed the fresh wound and his cruel laughter echoed long after he was gone.

The cold was closing in again, and for the umpteenth time, I was falling into unconsciousness. This was the most free I had been since I was brought here, but I couldn't ignore that dooming sensation in my stomach; the hot blood spilling down my front. I could only think of one thing before the darkness claimed me for what was probably the last time, and it was the one word that I managed to speak in days.

“Hwoarang…. “

I will miss you….

“Did you hear? It escaped!” One of the gossiping guards commented. I still had my back pressed tight against the wall, and I was trying to watch what was going on, but I was all but laughing at the two guards who were chattering excitedly when they were supposedly doing their rounds, looking for an intruder. This is why I loved the stupid flunkies so.

“I heard Mishima-san himself had to go down there to contain it. I wonder what happened...?” The first guard shrugged at the question his peer presented, and they moved off down the hall, out of my way. I waited to make sure they would not hear my quiet movements over their relative clatter before slipping around the corner. No sooner had I rounded the corner than I was facing down the barrel of what looked to be an uzi.

“Not your day,” the Mishima guard holding the gun muttered, pushing the gun forward a little into my collarbone. Using the end of the barrel, he gently lifted my dog tags. “A soldier, eh?” He smiled at me in a way that promised plenty of pain followed by immediate death. I didn’t have long to devise a way out of the situation.

Hold on a sec.... That barrel... a silencer?

“Hm. What’s it to you?” I asked snidely, tilting my head to the side with a cocky grin. The other man looked at me with contempt, and seemed to forget that he should radio for help. After all, he was about to kill me, right?

Yeah, me. The one who had taken down thirty some odd Mishima troops on my way to him.

With one kick, I swept his feet out from under him, toppling him backward while the gun began to fire. A bullet grazed my cheek, but missed by enough to leave nothing but a sharp cut that bled down pale skin. Ignoring this, I sent another kick to his hand as he fell, knocking the gun away to where it lay harmlessly against the wall. I switched to my left stance, facing the guard. He was fumbling for his radio, though he couldn’t seem to locate it.

“Goodnight,” I muttered before dropping a heel on the back of his head, knocking him out for the count. I then stood silent, listening for the signs of the other guards coming in pursuit. There was only silence, a rather good sign. That is, until the radio blared.

“All units, the intruder has been spotted on the second level basement. Proceed to the research lab immediately.” My heart raced. Had I been found out? I looked around for anything that might identify my exact location, and was quick to see the door that led into Dr. Abel’s lab directly to my right. So, I had made it all the way to Jin, but I had been found out? That was when more information was relayed over the small intercom-like device. “The intruder has been positively identified as one of the Tekken competitors. He has with him the prototype Combot model. He should be considered armed and dangerous.”

“Combot?” I wondered aloud, looking around. “What the...?” Then, it dawned on me. Violet was one of the Tekken competitors, so.... “Thank you, Chaolan-san,” I said with a heavy sigh as I gently put my hand to the door ahead of me. To my surprise, there was no lock. The door opened without complaint, practically spilling me on the ground inside.

When I stumbled, I was glad to have caught myself, else I would be swimming in the gore I was met with. Air escaped my lungs at the sight of the guards that had once resembled the people I’d been fighting, but were now nothing but horribly torn and mangled flesh. A hand went to my mouth on instinct. I could really only think of two things that would be in this lab for any reason that could do this.

One had killed my master and Kazama Jun, but paid the price. It was the other that worried me. Surely, Mishima Kazuya was not in this room as well. I forced my eyes to scan forward over the blood saturated lab floor to a metal pillar that was probably designed to help protect the structure in the case of an earthquake, or some other natural disaster, and my heart caught in my throat.

Crucified by chains on his arms, Jin was hanging limply against the pillar, unconscious, and obviously bleeding. His chest was riddled with black markings I’d never seen before, and was cut in to two sections by a long gash that mirrored the scar Kazuya bore. The cut looked to have stopped bleeding, but that worried me, seeing the blood that had pooled at Jin’s feet and the blood that soaked his pants beyond recognition. The stop of blood flow might just indicate that he was dead. I think I might have had tears in my eyes, but I wouldn’t have known if I did.

I had to get him down. That was all that mattered.

I found a handgun on one of the bodies, or what remained of the bodies, of the slaughtered guards. Taking the gun from him (or was that her?) had nearly been enough to make me vomit, as if the scene were not bad enough already. Carefully, I took Jin’s body in one arm, supporting the weight as best I could, and shot one of the chains. More of Jin’s weight fell on me as his arm flopped down. With only a moment before I collapsed under the sudden weight, I shot off the other chain. With that, we toppled to the ground.

Jin’s skin was cool and lifeless, but not quite the same as I’d felt in the hospital. He still had a trace of breath, and I could feel muscles tensing with pain. Carefully, I let my hand drift to his scar. I had to pull away from the touch, feeling my own skin burn. The scar was more alive than ever, and I knew the demon would heal Jin.

So why hadn’t it before?

I pushed Jin back, marveling at the way the skin on his chest had closed; though blood was still there as a reminder for the horrible wound he’d sustained. His breathing was coming deeper now, and I could feel his pulse under my hands. The strange markings remained, and when he opened his eyes there was a tint of red. “Jin?” I whispered, carefully keeping his eyes on me. “Jin, do you recognize me?”

Jin had one long, deliberate blink before looking at me again through a veil of exhaustion. His eyes were slightly downcast, and they glanced about the room, never seeming to settle on any one object. Though it took some effort, and his voice was distorted, Jin managed, “Hwoarang?”

“Yeah, Jin, it’s me. I’m gonna get you outta this place.” I lightly brushed bangs out of Jin’s eyes, trying not to show my surprise when the touch to his forehead made him all but recoil. I had to wonder what had happened to make him lose trust... even trust in me. “Where’s it hurt?” I joked; trying to keep him distracted as I scanned the room for a possible mode of escape other than the main door. I had to close my eyes against the harsh images that assaulted my eyes from that direction. I could only guess that Jin....

No, it was the demon. It must have finally fully taken control of Jin. Even if his influence over the demon in his brain was weak, Jin would never be capable of such a sick act.

I glanced back down at Jin. He hadn’t answered my question. Granted, I didn’t want an answer, but usually he would at least humor me with a response. Those dark eyes were still drifted away from me, frantically searching the room for something, though they never seemed to change focus. A more serious question came to my tongue.

“Jin, what is it? Is there someone here?”

Jin's eyes finally stopped on a spot somewhere on the floor between us. A hand rose, shaking slightly as it slowly mimicked my actions, numbly brushing back the hair from my eyes only to have it fall back. He shrank back onto his heels, dark eyes drifting back and forth but never lifting. His reply seemed so small in his rasping voice, mere wind brushing past his lips. It was weak and disbelieving, almost broken with hope. "... Hwoarang?"

“Yeah, that’s right.” I finally gave Jin my full attention. I knew I didn’t really have the time to sit there and chat about who’s who, but I needed to get Jin coherent enough to get him out the door—and fast. I leaned forward, taking Jin in a tight embrace momentarily. “It’s okay, Jin. All you gotta do is help me out a little. We need to get out of here fast. You’re in no condition to fight, and I’m pretty beat myself.” I pushed back, taking one of Jin’s hands, and brought it to my cheek.

I felt a sting as his hands passed over the shallow wound there. Jin’s eyes widened as if he hadn’t noticed the wound before. I felt my own eyes narrowing with suspicion. Something was wrong. "You're... you're hurt." It sounded like more of a question than anything, though his voice was still weak.

“Nearly got shot. Damn idiot almost got me caught, too. Oh well. He’s makin’ it up to me by kissing concrete floor while I escape.” I put my forehead to Jin’s, closing my eyes. “You’re one to talk about being injured, anyway.” I put my hand to the wound running across Jin’s chest. The skin was warm, but not overly so as his scar had always been. “...It’s amazing....” The skin was almost unmarred under my fingers. I let those fingers trail down his stomach, stopping myself at his navel. The last thing I needed to do was instigate something. “Does it still hurt?” My voice was breathy, and I couldn’t seem to tear my eyes from where they focused on my hand resting against Jin’s skin.

For once, Jin didn't pull away from the contact of skin, though the muscles on his abdomen contracted under the gentle hand. His head bowed in what may have been a nod. "Why is it so dark?" he asked, seeming to ignore the question asked of him.

“Dark?” I looked up at the light, being all but blinded by its unnatural and almost eerie glow. It really wasn’t that dark in the room. Unless... maybe there was some sort of side effect to whatever they had done to him in the terrible facility in the lowest layers of Mishima’s realm—not too far north of Hell. I leaned forward, taking my free hand off the ground. I cradled Jin’s face, bringing his eyes up to mine. He didn’t focus on me. Instead, his eyes flickered about rapidly. I didn’t want to think about it, but I might have to force myself to believe that.... “Jin... can you see me right now?”

There was a moment's pause and then Jin shook his head slowly. "I... I can feel you." He frowned, a hand coming up to the one on his face. "But I don't... " His voice failed, dark eyes falling to the ground again.

I opened my mouth to speak, but there was a voice outside preventing me from doing so. It took me a moment to realize it was the radio on the guard I’d dropped just outside the lab. When he wouldn’t answer, they would know something was up. “Shit,” I swore, pulling myself to my feet, and dragging Jin with me. He all but collapsed into me weakly. “Jin, can you walk? I don’t want to push you, but I don’t have much time if I’m going to get you out of here.”

He nodded mutely, clutching to the arms that supported him as he tried to straighten, his knees buckling promptly. "I'll be fine," he murmured.

“I wish I could believe that,” I muttered, clasping Jin against me again. “If I thought I could carry you all the way out, I would. But, I can’t, so why don’t you just put and arm around my shoulder and....” I trailed off as I helped him get into the position I was suggesting. I had been all business since I got there; I was being so cold. I quickly kissed his temple affectionately, afraid to say anything, afraid to lose the perfect memory of his confession. What if this Jin were like the clone Jin who would simply forget...?

"I trust you."

My heart skipped a beat, unprepared for what Jin said. I would have responded, but my throat was dry, and I couldn’t think of anything intelligent... not to mention in one coherent language to respond in. Jin was obviously in pain, and had obviously been abused. Still, he trusted me. So, I had no choice but to get him out of there.

I snaked an arm behind his back, supporting most of his weight. I wouldn’t be able to run, but I might coax him into a quick walk. Looking around the lab, though, is when I encountered my problem. The only exit was the entrance. I bit my lip, making my way around the carnage on the floor with Jin in tow. He stumbled the whole way, nearly dragging me to my knees twice, but I managed to get him out of the room more or less without problems. We passed the guard I’d fought with earlier, and moved quickly down the hall. I was heading after where I’d seen Lee disappear.

We almost made it there, too. We stepped into the fork in the road, faced with four of the Kazuya loyalists. At that point, Jin could stand on his own, but walking was very nearly out of the question. For this reason, I could feel Jin’s skin against my fingers still, feeling the skin under my hand going cold. Some bizarre muscle that didn’t exist in the average human flexed under the skin of his back. “Jin, you’ll have to let me take these guys. You’re in no condition to fight.”

Jin's head had raised half a notch in the direction of the armored men. His lower lip curled, a low rumble at the back of his throat escaping in what could only be described as a growl. There was nothing human about it. Suffice to say, he hadn't seemed to hear what I had said.

“... Jin?” I wondered aloud. A moment later, Jin sprung into motion, flying at the soldiers with speed I’d never seen out of him. He landed a punch on the first one, sending him flying into the second, and turned for a quick kick to immobilize the third. When the remaining guard raised his gun, I was ready to help, but Jin moved with inhuman speed to uppercut the man, possibly killing him.

“Let’s go,” Jin insisted, and I could do nothing but follow. I couldn’t imagine how Jin would ever have been able to pull off those attacks, much less run right after. I’d heard of an adrenaline rush, but this was insane.

“Jin, wait....” I began, just as we rounded a corner. I was cut off as gun fire rang out in the narrow corridor. Before I could do much else than duck for cover, Jin was moving forward again, this time violently tearing into the first man he encountered with one fist while choking another man with his other hand. He also violently ripped apart the next man like some sort of animal tearing into their prey, and all I could do was watch in horror.

What’s wrong with you, Jin...?

When the guards had been disposed of, Jin turned back to me with a crazed look in his garnet-hazed eyes. I stood, stupefied, and wasn’t even able to blurt out a word before Jin grabbed my wrist, his bloodied hand sliding against my skin, and I couldn’t think. I didn’t want to think about what must have been happening to Jin. What if...?

More and more men tried to stand in our way as we raced to get out of the building. Every single time, though, Jin just plowed through the masses. Sometimes, literally just bowling through them. But, if he had to stop, he would tear them apart like a lioness hunting antelope—the sickly old limping ones, none the less. It made me sick to my stomach. And the thought of it being Jin doing all this made me even more sick, but I was just along for the ride.

I could only numbly follow as we finally burst through the doors together. Jin was covered in blood, and still yet to show any signs of exhaustion. When I caught my breath, I put a hand on Jin’s shoulder and spun him to try to get his attention. “Jin, what the hell was....” My throat went dry before I could demand any explanation. Jin’s eyes were red—honest to god maraschino cherry red. “Fuckin’ shit,” I muttered. Red eyes were definitely not a good sign.

I felt air rush out of my lungs and I was on my back before I could process what had happened. I realized numbly that he had knocked me to the ground, and was pinning me there, holding my arms down with his knees as he raised a hand to punch. I realized, with a sick feeling in my stomach, that his fingers were tapering off into claws, and that he had grown what appeared to be fangs under much longer bangs. And, for the first time that night, he was looking right at me.

The first few punches were numbed by shock, but it didn’t take my brain too long to register that I was going to be beat to death if I didn’t do something, and pain began to shoot through me in waves, prompting me to save myself somehow. Well, there was basically jack shit I could do, sorry to say for my body.

Then, Jin faltered. He paused, letting out a hoarse breath. That’s when I heard it; sick sound like flesh ripping coming from behind him. As black feathers exploded out of him, I knew that my analysis was correct. I didn’t have the time to waste on thinking about that, though, I had to slip away while he was still howling in pain—or was that pleasure?—as the dark masses sprouted from his shoulder blades. “Fuck me,” I muttered in disdain as I came to a crouch, looking at my new opponent. I was fucked, that was for sure.

Jin looked at me again, his red eyes focusing on me like I was a target. The eyes pierced through me, like they could see right down to my soul, or maybe force my heart to stop beating. Or maybe he had x-ray vision and was checking me out. But, that didn’t make any sense, he’d seen me naked plenty of times. Granted, I looked different ‘cause I’d lost some weight, but if anything, I was less attractive.

I shook my head. I really needed to develop a way to keep my focus... especially in times like those.

I stood slowly, feeling lightheaded from pain and the multiple pounds to my head. I was pretty certain that I had some sort of compound concussion, if that was possible. I bit back the urge to mutter: “the colors....” Or maybe something like: “why are there two of you?” Then, I took stance to the best of my ability, though I was swaying like a drunkard. “You stupid rat shit,” I grumbled, “now how am I supposed to fight you?”

A deep laugh came from behind me as wind kissed my cheeks. Somehow, Jin had moved as fast as the gods themselves and was able to move around me before I could react. I felt sharp claws tear through the muscles in my back and cried out in pain, unable to do really much of anything else. I was very aware of the blood just starting to seep out of the wound that felt like it was on fire as it raced down the contours of my muscles, collecting in the cloth of my shirt. “J—Jin....” My attempt at words was cut short as an animal scream tore from my throat. It was the sound of pure agony as Jin sunk teeth into my shoulder, and simultaneously squeezed around my ribcage, putting pressure on the wounded ribs, and digging claws into the unprotected skin there.

Jin’s mouth pulled away from my shoulder, and one of his hands moved up to my face, having no mercy for the wound there. I practically whimpered at the sensation of having more blood pressed into the healing wound. Jin moved my head so he could lay his lips on mine, and I felt tears coming to my eyes as I tasted my own blood on his mouth. I didn’t want to be kissing Jin... not when he was like this. Not when I thought I was going to die, remembering that as our last kiss we would ever share.

When Jin pulled away, I was forced to meet those foreign eyes again, and felt a tear finally escape me. I would have given anything to take it back. “Why do you even bother?” A voice asked, coming from Jin’s mouth. The voice was alien, though, like nothing I’d ever heard from Jin. He wasn’t himself in the slightest. For the first time it really struck me. “If this boy lives, he will only seek to destroy all life. You should know by now, better than anyone, that my power cannot be stopped.”

“No.... You’re wrong...” I managed just before Jin dropped me. I fell like a rag doll at his feet, folding over myself painfully. “Jin... he’s not like that. The Jin I love... apologizes unwittingly to chairs when he runs into them....” My lips smiled, though I felt nothing but emptiness inside.

Was he really gone? Was my Jin really gone?

"This is not my son."

Thank you, Mishima Kazuya. Thank you for giving me someone to live for and to die for. To live to save them, only to have to die trying. Pathetic, but still better than going through life without a purpose and ending on a melancholy note. To die of boredom would be such sweet sorrow.

I staggered to my feet, not trusting myself. I backed away from Jin, growing oddly aware that the air was getting colder, and it smelled like sea-water. I chanced a glance behind me, and saw that I was nearing the edge of a cliff. Something in me snapped as I realized it was perfect.

I had one last fear to face before death, and one last person to rescue. I could do it all at once.

Realization dawned on the demon’s face and he advanced toward me, closing the space between us in only a few steps. “You fool; what do you really hope to accomplish? Do you really think you can save this boy from my powers?” The demon laughed, the throaty sound filling the night air. I felt my heart sink a little at the sound that held no part of what Jin should have been within it.

“No, I hope to save the man I love from himself.” With one last thunderous beat of my heart that let blood surge through my whole body and remind me of every aching ailment inside me, I stepped back that last little bit, feeling myself become weightless and begin to fall. I watched in surprise as a clawed hand reached out, snagging my locket off my neck.

But, my mind was no longer in the moment, for I was accepting my death.

Master, I’m sorry I could never pass on my art. I’m sorry that I let you down. But, I no longer fear falling, or heights. Please, watch over Jin for me. Where I’m going, I won’t get the chance.

I know my eyes closed, and I was certain I’d die before I ever hit the water.

=== End Act 2 ===

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