Warnings: Yaoi, 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 Elton John song “Birds” off of his album “Songs from the West Coast”.
Tattered Wings - Part 9
“There's some things I don't have now
Some things I don't talk about
These things are between myself and I
In my thick skull the joker hides”
Act III: Scene I
Hwoarang, don’t you have anything better do but sit here and sulk?
My head was facing down, looking at the cold stone of the dojo floor. I could hear the thunder rumbling above my head, and was very aware of the cold rain drops lancing to the ground and soaking through my gi. I raised my eyes slightly to see boot-clad feet only a few feet away, and smiled wryly to myself. I glanced up and was met with my master’s eyes, peering back at me. “Master, it isn’t like I chose for this to happen. I should be allowed to sulk. I did just lose the second person I’ve ever loved, you know.”
“Well, you didn’t have to go and try to die for him,” Baek pointed out to me, sounding almost pouty. He held out a hand to me, and pulled me to my feet. I dusted myself off, glad to stand after what must have been a long lecture, knowing my master. “Hwoarang, you know, you might have put him in a world of pain with that little stunt of yours. I will watch over him for you, but even I couldn’t get rid of the pain in his heart. He really loves you back.”
“That’s right! I’m dead.... so, why are you here? Am I in heaven?” I looked expectantly at Baek, feeling a bit silly for saying the words that were dropping from my mouth. Something about death was so permanent that calling yourself “dead” was like calling yourself “married”. It felt like a trap you would never escape—and it was.
Baek laughed lightly, the sound caressing my ears. I hadn’t heard that laugh in too long. “Hwoarang, you aren’t dead,” Baek informed me, his laughter increasing as my jaw dropped. “No, you’re on a hospital bed in Japan, recovering. In fact, I think that Lee wishes to speak to you. He’s been at your bedside for nearly two days now. You should wake up and reassure him, like a good host.”
I stuttered something incoherent before my eyebrows knit. “I... how long have I been out?”
“About a week. Everyone will be very happy to see you.” Baek gave me a shooing motion with one hand. “Now go, Hwoarang, I don’t want to see you again until it is your time.” I nodded, still confused, but very touched that my master had said those words.
“I may just be dreaming, Master, but I want you to know that I love you and miss you every day of my life.” With that, I turned away from him. As soon as I did, my world was engulfed in darkness. I was very aware that everywhere but my right pinkie toe ached, and that my mind was very fogged from some sort of drug. I could hear a light beeping from somewhere near me, as well as even breathing from directly in front of my face.
I slowly opened my eyes, shutting them tight again against the brilliant light of the lazy mid-day sun. When I had the courage to open them again, I was met with husky eyes.
“Mornin’, handsome.” Lee joked. “Is the light too bright?” I nodded slightly, and Lee was gone from my field of vision, so I closed my eyes again. Behind the lids, I could see the light fading as he turned off the light switch. With the sound of the heavy curtains closing, I opened my eyes again to blissful darkness.
“I must say, though, Hwoarang, you look like shit.” Lee smiled at me as he came back around to where I could see him. Though it was an insult, the comment made me smile, and I realized just how chapped my lips were. I also noticed that I was on my side, and that I had no intention of moving. My muscles were too tight from prolonged rest in that position.
“...J—Jin....” I muttered, trying to make the statement a question, and rather failing. I found that my throat simply refused to work properly, as it was far too dry.
Lee smiled at me. “Jin is fine. He heals fast because of the demon, remember?” Lee put a hand to my cheek, and I felt the sensation of the gauze pressing between our skin. “He hasn’t been released from the hospital yet, but they are letting him walk around as of today.” Lee looked sad for a moment. “He came today and knocked on the door. When I invited him in here, he refused. He said he didn’t want to see you like this because he is so used to you being strong. I think he just doesn’t want to face his own doing....”
My brain hurt too much to think about the predicament with Jin. “Kazuya...? Did you... save...?” I couldn’t force much else out of my straining vocal chords, but that was all it took. Lee blushed, turning slightly from me, and rubbed his temple with the hand that had been on my face.
“Yes, I was able to find my brother. In fact, he has been staying here with me while I was waiting for you to awaken. I think he and Jin have a lot of things to talk about....” Lee looked back at me, smiling like I would expect of him. “He’s back to normal, though—well, I mean normal for Kazuya; less devil, more stoic, sneaker-collecting, coffee addict businessman.” The fondness in Lee’s voice could not be missed. He glanced at the door, as if waiting for someone to come through. “He and I visited Jun’s grave together the day before yesterday, and I saw him smile for her like I haven’t seen in what feels like ages.”
I began attempting my first big movement, picking up my arm to place a hand over Lee’s and instantly regretted it. Pain shot through me, but I bit back a cry as I was able to actually take his hand in mine. He looked back at me curiously, and I smiled to him. “I’m.... happy for...you.” I meant every troubled word of that, too. Lee loved Kazuya, in his own way, and he had risked quite a bit to give Kazuya peace. Even when he was plotting to kill him, it was to destroy the devil that plagued him.
Lee blushed again. “Yeah, well...” Lee shook his head a little, his voice becoming serious. “Anyway, Hwoarang, I’ll do my best to fend off the police, but they have about a billion questions for you. The wounds on your body were so bizarre... and they found every single blood type on you somewhere. You’re lucky that Lei Wulong talked the local cops into letting him do the questioning. He’ll cover for you, but even he is going to pry a little.” Lee clasped my hand in both of his, looking sincerely into my eyes. “Thank you for saving my nephew.”
“N—No problem.” I cracked a smile, feeling a tug at my cheek where the gauze was. I might even have had stitches there, though I didn’t even want to consider that possibility. I was already too tired to try to imagine how many stitches were in my back, sides, and shoulder. Nausea washed over me as I remembered the taste of my own blood on my mouth from Jin’s lips. All the humor I’d had before washed away.
“Now, there are lots of people who will want to check on you, but first I should call the doctor.” Lee gave my hand a light squeeze. He looked almost sad as he caught my gaze again. “I’m so glad you’re thick headed, Hwoarang.” With that, Lee left me alone in the room, presumably to get a doctor.
With him gone, my eyes wandered, though I didn’t dare anything else. I saw on my bedside table an arrangement of different blue and violet flowers that was wonderfully accented by the relative darkness. I took a deep breath and held it as I reached for the card, trying not to make some pathetic noise in pain. When I got the card, I brought it back to my face and opened it.
“Get well soon, Hwoarang,” was all that was written inside, with a ton of signatures. After a moment, I turned the card over and smiled. It was from that florist I had gone to almost a month before. I glanced back at the table again, and saw another card. This one was addressed to the hospital, and had been mailed internationally. I blinked in surprise. After a moment, I slowly reached up again and grabbed the card. It was mailed from Korea. But who...?
I opened the card and quickly read the unimportant punch line before looking at the signatures. Tears came to my eyes. It was from my gang. I hadn’t seen them in nearly two years since I had joined the army. My eyes passed over a few signatures in particular, laughing and crying at the same time. “You’re such an idiot!” one said. “What’s this all about, Boss? When did you start putting your life on the line for some guy?” another read. Finally, and most importantly, my once girlfriend wrote, “You big dumb fuck! Get your ass back to Korea so I can kick it all over again!”
I had to reach up and wipe tears out of my eyes as a grinned at the card. I really missed those guys. Before Jin was kidnapped, I had considered going back to Korea, and I found myself feeling that way all over again. I missed my old friends, and I missed the dojo. Some of the other students had worked hard to rebuild it, but it was a dojo without a master. Maybe if I returned....
“Good morning, Hwoarang-san,” a pleasant female voice greeted, drawing my attention to the door which I could barely see if I craned my neck. A short, cute girl walked in wearing a lab coat. “I’m Dr. Cho. I was the head surgeon for most of the work that was done on you.” He shook her head. “I must say, though, at first I wasn’t willing to believe you are Korean like me. Red hair is so rare, after all.” Dr. Cho walked around the bed to the side I was facing and began checking the machines monitoring my recovery. “You heal very quickly, Hwoarang-san.”
I nodded, swallowing hard to try to get more moisture in my throat. “So... I’ve been.... told,” I replied as wryly as I could manage. That won me a small smile from the good doctor. She was busy writing notes on her clipboard, examining me as she did so. She had me roll on my stomach, though that caused some discomfort, and checked on my ribs.
“All things considered, Hwoarang-san, I’d say you’re as healthy as a horse. You’ll need to rest here for a few more days, but as long as your recovery continues at this pace, we can get you home within the week.” Dr. Cho tapped her lips with her pencil. “Well, then, I’ll go inform your friends that you are awake. And, undoubtedly you are hungry, so I’ll get you some lunch, as well.” The doctor offered me a bow before leaving the room.
My friends? Didn’t she mean Jin’s friends? If anyone came to see me, it was for Jin’s sake.
There was a light knock at the door, and I glanced up just in time to see the goofball brigade parade into my room. Leading the procession was Xiaoyu with her friend Miharu walking right beside her. Christie was walking next to Steve, helping him carry what was hopefully my lunch. Julia was the last to enter the room, though she only got in far enough to hold the door open, while staring out into the hallway.
Right... “my” friends.
When Xiaoyu spotted me, she darted over to me and crouched at my side. “Hwoarang... I’m so glad to see you awake.”
Steve laughed, and I didn’t bother to change my focus to look at him. “We were all so surprised when we heard you, of all people, had jumped off a cliff.” Steve came around to the side where I could see him and showed me what he’d brought. “You’re probably starved, huh?” I nodded, a little pissed that I had to get any help from Steve Fox, as he would put it, “of all people”. Steve smiled at me, placing the food on the table, and sat on the edge of the bed. “Let me help you sit up. We don’t want any pressure on those stitches, yet.” Steve sat me up, holding me so that I didn’t have to rest anything against my back. I felt a small blush finding my face.
“Let’s get you something to drink too, then.” Christie took the food tray, put it on my lap, and handed me some warm green tea. I just looked at her in somewhat of confusion. I hardly knew her, so I couldn’t really understand why she had come along. All the same, I couldn’t deny that the tea would help my throat, so I quickly drank, feeling the muscles already soothing under the heat.
I glanced over at Julia Chang, and saw she was looking out into the hallway. Her hands were on her hips, and she was frowning. “Where is he, anyway?” She turned to me and smiled apologetically. “Jin really is an idiot. Lee told him you were awake, but he didn’t come down here with the rest of us.”
Miharu frowned. “That isn’t like Jin, ne, Xiao-chan?” The redhead looked to Xiaoyu who was looking a little worried.
“I honestly don’t understand you two,” was all she replied, though it was directed to me. She sighed, a smile finding her lips. “You must be bored, stuck here in bed; we should get you a tv, or something.”
I laughed for the first time in too long. It hurt, but felt wonderful at the same time. “I just woke up, Xiaoyu,” I reminded, pleased with the way my voice was improving. I sounded a little hoarse still, but it didn’t hurt to speak. I met the eyes of everyone in the room, stopping on Xiaoyu. “Thanks, guys.” I got a thumbs up from the girl I was looking to, and some supportive, but idle, chatter from the rest of the group.
I quietly ate my meal, listening to the stories the others were telling with one ear, while the rest of me was lost to the world.
Jin, why didn’t you come? What Lee said made sense... but you should have come. I’ve missed you.
Before I realized I had done it, I had eaten all my lunch, which was apparently the cue for my visitors to leave. Each offered some well wishes before going, but one remained. Steve Fox was still left, holding me in his arms to keep me from being in more pain than I already was. I wasn’t surprised that he had stayed; after all, we had a lot to discuss. What did surprise me was the gentle hug he drew me into as soon as we were alone.
“I’m so sorry, Hwoarang,” Steve whispered, the words barely making it to my ears. I could hardly believe what I heard, anyway. If anyone should have been apologizing to anyone, it was me to him. He had actually been quite the class act before I left to rescue Jin, even before the clone had died. Steve was being a friend, and I was being a bitch. There were no two ways about it.
Jin was right. Jin had been right about Steve... and about me.
“Steve, you don’t have to....” I trailed off as I got a good look at baby blue eyes. The sincerity there was enough to make me want to divert my gaze.
“I was wrong about you, Hwoarang. I know it took me far to long to recognize this, but you really do love him, and I’m starting to think you two were meant to be.” Steve helped me back to the position I’d been lying in earlier, helping me find a comfortable position. He then took my hand as he stood. “No hard feelings?”
“I can’t promise anything,” I told him truthfully. I was known for my grudges. “But... if not for any other reason, for Jin’s sake...” my comment was cut short as my throat was too dry again. I swallowed deliberately before I dared to continue. “I’ll try to forget about the whole thing.” I gave him my best wry smile. “This doesn’t mean I don’t still think you are an arrogant, senseless, dirty preener.”
Steve nodded at me, smiling. “Don’t think I don’t know that.” On that note, Steve stood, walking out the door without another word. I smiled into my pillow, where no one would see me do it.
Steve really was a great guy.
“We missed you down there today.”
The gentle voice drifted in through the heavy veil of concentration I had constructed, intrusive and unwanted. Eventually, I managed to pull myself out of the deep meditative state, and was more aware of my surroundings. I sat atop my bed in the hospital, legs crossed, wrists fallen loosely over my knees. I was too aware of the long fringe tickling the edge of my jaw, I felt it brush my eyelashes as I opened my eyes just barely; it was useless. There was still nothing but darkness and the doctor’s weren’t sure what to make of it. I was blind, that much they knew for sure. They didn’t have to tell me, I didn’t even feel the need to explain the cause, for I’d become accustomed to the loss of sight for quite a while.
For longer than I cared to remember. I still wasn’t sure how much time had passed while I was in Heihachi’s facility. There was still so much that I didn’t know… but Hwoarang was alive. For now, that was enough.
The person in the doorway shifted, the soft rustle of denim rudely pulling me from my reverie of mulling and I was forced to acknowledge them if I ever wanted any peace. I lifted my head the barest inch, not really sure where to look or direct my face… after all, it wasn’t as though I could really look at them, was it?
It was some time before Julia spoke again. “You should have been there, Jin. I won’t pretend to understand even half of what’s going on… but you should have been there when he woke up.”
It wasn’t that I didn’t want to see Hwoarang. I did, and so badly. But I couldn’t face him when he was in this state; that would just hurt too much. And everything already hurt too much. “I don’t agree,” I said finally.
There were soft footsteps and then a weight settled at the foot of the bed, the springs creaking slightly at their new load. I could sense her before me, imagined what she looked like and even the expression she wore. I was only able surmise so much, really only having her voice to follow.
“Jin,” she began in a soft voice, “not that long ago, you were dead. We didn’t understand what had happened to you, but you were our friend and for a while there, we lost you.” Her voice fell half a notch, sounding almost cautious in its tone. “I’ve never seen Hwoarang so sad; but I guess people surprise you, huh?”
There was some wry humour to be found here, but I didn’t have it in me to smile. I knew that she was waiting for a response, but I really had nothing to say; to her, anyway. Instead, I hummed softly at the back of my throat, letting her know that I was still listening, but wasn’t about to give her any more than that. It seemed enough for the moment, for she spoke again after a brief pause.
“The first time you were in hospital, he very nearly killed Steve. But something’s different between them now; I don’t know what changed, but anyone can see that it’s for the better,” her voice lifted a bit during the last few words, though it sounded more hopeful than anything. As if she was waiting for my confirmation or approval.
Perhaps I would humour her in the meanwhile. “I’m glad to hear it.” And really, I was. I had borne witness to too many of their pointless arguments too many times to count, even if it was discrete; I always felt it better to stay apart from them. I had wanted them to get along, two of my closest friends, who so suitably hated each other. I think that they saw a little or more in each other, of themselves. Funny, it all felt like a lifetime ago. Maybe it was.
A gentle hand on my own brought me back to the present, and I roughly jerked away from the touch on pure instinct. My next worry that I might have startled her was quickly dismissed when she only spoke again, this time there was a good degree of weariness in her voice.
“Jin, this is all so bizarre. I don’t know what to think anymore; what’s going on? Why are you two drawn to hospitals like magnets and how… how did you come back?”
Frankly, I was rather taken by surprise at her questions. Maybe it was selfish of me, but I hadn’t really thought of the effect this could have been having on my friends. I was too late to hide my initial reaction and she continued before I could give an excuse.
“I know we don’t know each other very well, but I consider you a good friend. Anyone would…”
Did they? I wonder, would they, if they knew how I treated those closest to me? If they knew that each time I was alone, the screams would echo in the silence and how I could still taste his blood on my tongue…?
What a friend.
“Is there anything else?” I interjected, not meaning to sound so cold.
“… I’m leaving on a plane back to Arizona in a few hours; these plans for the restoration of my home can’t wait any longer. I came to say goodbye and to wish you good luck.” That tone again; why was it so hopeful when she gave me no question to answer? Or maybe she wanted me to explain what I could not – or at least was not ready to repeat.
There was the shift of weight again and then the soft pressure of lips against my forehead, pressing against the hair that fell over my eyes; I was too surprised to move away. “Look after each other, Jin,” she whispered to me. “Stay safe.”
“You too.” It was perhaps the most civil thing I had said to her throughout this entire conversation; realizing that, I felt suddenly guilty. I didn’t have any reason to treat her the way I had, when she had only come to say goodbye for what could possibly be the last time. In this game, we never knew when we would see each other again. That was the danger of our lifestyles and too many of the people who entered this tournament were not ready to face that price. People like Julia and Xiaoyu; I almost envied the way they took most things for granted. Envied how easily they could make things out to be.
I caught her wrist before she moved away, almost letting go at the startling contact of warm skin, but quickly quashed the instinct. I was not sure what to say, knowing only that I had to say something. “Good luck, Julia.” It wasn’t much, but at least I meant each word.
“Thank you, Jin,” she murmured warmly, and I was almost led to believe that those three small words had lifted her spirits. “I’ll see you again some day.” Her free hand squeezed mine gently, and then the warmth was gone with the gentle click of boots on tile. The only sound was the mechanical buzz of the air-conditioner over head, I could hear the shuffle of people outside, and it was so clear that I realized that Julia must have left the door open. The general murmur of conversation met my ears; in it I heard relief, sorrow, and the anxiety of those who were yet to learn the fate of their loved ones.
How I hated hospitals. The sterile scent reminded me of darker places that held a strange moist quality in the air. The clinical tones of doctors sounded so much more familiar to me now, I’d paid little heed to those who attempted for a warmer approach. There was nothing about this place that I liked.
I felt a familiar chill ascend my spine as the shuddering tinkle of metal wheels echoed through the long corridor. My hands clenched instinctively at the familiar sounds of a steel cart wheeling close, the chattering clang as it ran over a series of bumps and my mind was instantly filled with the image of syringes; of blinding light that would only yield to abysmal darkness. For a moment I was back on the table and I could feel the bruising grip of restraints as the spike of metal sunk beneath my skin…
The door slammed shut and I leaned heavily against it, only happy that it was directly before my bed and I could still find it without sight. My hands clutched at the hem of my sweater that I wore over the hospital gown, and I realized that I was shaking. Curiously, my hand had closed over a distinctly-shaped object in my pocket. Pulling it out, I opened my hand, feeling the warm golden disc of Hwoarang’s locket in my palm. I stared at it with blind eyes, painting its image from memory; my thumb grazed the edge, finding the nub that triggered the face to fall open. Now with it bared in my palm, I almost regretted not having done so earlier – when I could have seen what laid aside.
A gentle knock at the door made me startle, I scrambled to my feet and backed away and into the bed, just as it opened. The sound level rose for a brief moment before the door was shut with a soft click and I was left in hesitation. I really loathed this aspect of being blind; never knowing when I was alone. I might have known with the heightened senses that the demon provided, but I had been doing everything in my power to suppress that side of me. As soon as I was able, I had begun meditating as my mother taught me so long ago… I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it sooner, before all of this happened. Maybe then I would have had more of a handle on it when Hwoarang came for me; maybe I could have stopped it….
Oh, it was only Lee. I gripped the foot rail to find my way back onto the bed, reassuming the lotus position once I was atop the sheets again. “ … “
“Did they bring you anything to eat?” he asked gently, and I motioned with a hand to the untouched tray by the bedside. I wasn’t hungry. He sighed, and I knew I was in for a lecture; the perks of relatives. “Why haven’t you touched your meal, Jin? Are you feeling sick?” A hand came up to my forehead without warning and I jerked away the instant of contact. The reflexive growl elicited a quick apology from my uncle; he brushed some of my hair when pulling his hand away.
“How are you feeling?”
I closed my eyes against the incessant question, concentrating to the best of my ability to simply ignore him. Lee, unfortunately, wasn’t one easily deterred.
“Have you managed to catch any sleep?”
I froze at that, feeling myself tense under his intense gaze that wouldn’t look away. I looked to Lee there, not really at him, but in his general direction, and he knew that he had my attention.
“You don’t rest nearly as much as you should, Jin. You need your rest more than anything since you’re in recovery, especially considering what you’ve been through.”
My hands clenched into fists where they splayed over my knees. “You’ve come to tell me everything those doctors already have? Don’t waste the oxygen, Chaolan.” Despite the fact that Lee was my uncle, I still didn’t know him. There was a lot of tension between us, and I didn’t understand myself why I was going out of my way to relieve it. He was certainly trying for the calm waters, but had stepped into something far more unsettling.
Lee didn’t need to know, but he was right. I didn’t sleep as much as I needed, or wanted to, for that matter. My mind was always too occupied and when if I ever managed to fall asleep the memories were always waiting for me. There are only so many times that one will bear recurring nightmares until you conclude that simply staying awake would solve a lot of your problems.
“Fine. You look like shit.”
That was more like it. “Thank you.” I turned my attention forward and tried to regain that sense of peace in meditation; as long as I had company, I didn’t see that happening.
“You need to put on more weight,” he added, sounding more matter-of-fact than I cared for. Did I ask for his opinion or company?
“Do you want something, Lee?” I asked, struggling to keep the annoyance from my voice.
“Actually, yeah. I want you to go see him.”
A pause. I opened my eyes, staring through into nothing. “ … “
Lee continued, sounding far too caring than I wanted to acknowledge. Who were all these strangers thinking that they knew what I should do? “You made it as far as the door last time, now I just want you to step through it. Talk to him.”
“… And what would you have me say? Sorry for nearly killing you, but I was hoping that we could just forgive and forget?” The words were surprisingly hard to say, my throat constricted and I didn’t like the way my voice shook. It was supposed to be sarcastic – apparently something I had to practice.
“I know you can do better than that, but, yeah, that’s the gist of it.”
I glared at him then, satisfied with the long silence that followed.
“He asked for you when he woke up,” Lee said, after a long time. Already, I knew where this was headed, and I didn’t need to hear it. Stumbling off the bed, I cursed under my breath when my knees didn’t quite hold. I clutched the bed with my hands behind me until I was able to regain a center of balance, and then it was… off to pace.
It would have helped if I could see where I was going.
Lee’s hands were on my back as I staggered away from the jutting side of a corner wall or closet, grasping my jarred shoulder and hissing in pain. He made some comment about finding me some means by which I could find my way around, or I could walk right out the window. I was in too much pain to be amused and shook him off; it was irritating, the way he chuckled and assured me that he was joking.
“I’m not in the mood, Chaolan,” I snapped, slumping onto the bed’s edge. At least he was having more fun than I was. “Get to the point and then get out, or just… leave.”
“Please, call me Lee,” he insisted and I could still hear the smile in his voice. “Jin, I’m so glad to see you’re safe, even if not-so-well. Don’t you at least owe your saviour some thanks? He’s in a worse state than you…”
“I know,” I replied quickly. “You do realize what put him in that state?” I muttered through grit teeth, fighting to ignore the gust of pain in my chest.
“Even more reason to talk to him, I understand that-“
“You don’t understand any of it,” I snarled, finally letting some of that bitterness leak. It was so tiring keeping it all in.
“… Give me your hand.”
I frowned suspiciously. “Why?”
“Give me your hand, Jin. It’s alright,” he said, sounding far gentler than he did on the second attempt. I may not have known him very well, but I trusted him enough to not sever the proffered limb; he cradled my hand in his own, pulling it forward until it met skin. I blinked in surprise, wondering just what he was doing as my hand was led down the unmistakable muscle of chest, and then paused.
I nearly tore my hand back. “What are you doing?”
“Do you feel that?” he asked me.
“Feel what?” I snapped indignantly; if this was his disgusting attempt to-
“The scar, Jin,” he explained, stopping my train of thought. He shifted my hand again and once I calmed myself enough to pay attention, I could make the difference between skin and too-smooth skin. I managed to establish that it seemed to streak down his chest, before I finally took my hand back, closing it over Hwoarang’s locket in my sweater.
“I understand more than you realize,” he said softly, and it was all he had to. I believed him. “Please, go see him. You two need to speak and sort things out, regardless of the outcome. You don’t want to leave things the way they are now, do you?”
I shook my head miserably. Of course I didn’t, but…
“Here, I’ll take you to him.”
The good doctor had returned not long after Steve left to check on all my vitals on the machines I was hooked up to, and had given me some sort of pill for my pain. It was some industrial strength pill, though, because my back didn’t hurt at all. Oddly, though, the soreness of my muscles that had been cramped from prolonged sleep in a certain position did still vaguely ache. When the doctor left, I was alone again in what must have been the plainest room in the entire building.
I was sooooooo bored.
I suddenly found myself wishing I had not turned down the offer for a television so quickly. I was less and less sore by the minute, and I was on some pretty heavy-duty drugs, so my mind needed serious distraction. Left to my own devices, I had started trying to recall the lyrics to some of my favorite songs. It wasn’t until about half way through “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” that I realized I was not singing my favorite songs, but rather children’s songs.
Didn’t I like rock?
I flopped on my stomach, being twisted in a knot as I did so by the numerous wires and the IV attached to me. This also put my face in the pillow and my back at a strange tilt due to the raised portion of the adjustable bed. I blinked, knowing somewhere in my mind that my nose was squished and I must have looked like a pig. An honest-to-god giggle escaped my lips, and I tried to roll again to my left side, but was stopped by the things attached to me. I rolled the other way back on my back in defeat.
The ceiling sure was pretty.
My mind was trying desperately to focus on something logical as I looked at the ceiling. There were slight, barely noticeable lines that oddly took all of my attention, though I was sure somewhere in my drug-fogged mind that I was supposed to be thinking about something much more dire. Something that could affect my life as I knew it... Something....
I really had to piss.
I tried to stand from the bed, irritated that I was still attached to so many machines. I removed all but the IV and made my way to the bathroom, toting the IV behind me. Or at least, that was the plan. I stiffly stumbled across the room, finding it a lot harder to remember how to walk than I expected, only to collide with the wall alongside the bathroom door on the other end of the room. I backed up a pace and tried again, this time making it into the room.
No sooner had I finished my business than I heard an explosion of commotion in my room.
I stumbled out into the room, dragging my IV with me, and nearly dragging the damn thing over. When I emerged from the bathroom, I was met with six pairs of relieved eyes. One was the doctor, and the other five were nurses. I couldn’t figure out for the life of me what was wrong. Then, I glanced back to the bed, and it hit me. If one were to disconnect the machine that monitors his heart beat, it would appear to the rest of the world monitoring him that he was flatlining.
Once I was back in my bed, decidedly not hooked up to the machines again, and finally free of the IV, the doctor and nurses left the room again. I watched them go, feeling reality come back to me as the effect of the drugs on my brain began to thin down. With this new found ability to think more clearly, I focused on my body, trying to find everything in me that was in pain—other than my nose that had been slammed into a wall, that is.
Jin did this, but I forgive him.
I smiled to myself, my thoughts finally betraying me. I mean, anyone who was around us enough could tell that I loved him, but it was the first time that I actually took a moment and thought about how much he meant to me in a reflective way instead of thinking about it as I was in the process of trying to rescue him. After all, my thoughts had been consumed with nothing but the hopes of saving him from his demon for nearly a month. It wasn’t until I got extreme enough to risk my very existence on Earth that I felt that I had displayed just how much I wanted to help him.
And I would jump a million times over again to bring him back.
Suddenly sobered by my thoughts, I sat up in my bed, resting my elbows on my knees, and my forehead in my upturned palms. I really missed him. My heart hurt at the thought that Jin was unwilling to see me, even if with good reason. The first thing I’d wanted was to see him, though admittedly, at first it was almost good enough to know he was safe. Not to mention, at the time I had been rather confused that I was alive.
Fact of the matter was, just knowing he was doing better wasn’t enough.
There was a light knock at the door, and I didn’t have the time to respond before Lee walked in. I smiled to him, feeling my spirits lift instantly. “Lee,” I said with good humor, “back so soon?” Lee said nothing, just giving me a pointed look. I blinked at him, confused.
“There’s someone here to see you,” Lee informed me bluntly.
I looked at him with the confusion building in me. Sure, Lee was cryptic with most people, but he was disturbingly blunt with me—only because he knew that was how I wanted him to be. In any event, Lee moved out of the way, slipping out the door and I could hear him ushering someone through.
He didn’t even tell me I was looking better.
A different man walked through the door, and suddenly I couldn’t breathe. His form was painfully familiar, even when clad in the slightly bizarre combination of a hospital gown and a sweater. His bangs were longer than before, gracing his chin that was set in determination. He wasn’t looking at me, but rather in my general direction as he had done in the Mishima complex. My eyes were watering before I could do anything to try to stop myself.
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