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 12
“These independent moves I make
This confidence I try to fake
You can hear the beating of my heart
But not a feather falling in the dark
“And everything I hear never makes any sense
Another old prophet perched on the fence
A cupful of pencils and a self help guru
Don't answer the question of what I am to you”
Act III: Scene IV
He was going to hate me for this.
Then again, he had hated me to begin with. I was just asking him to remember. It wasn’t asking that much, was it? I cradled the prone hand between my two, fingers tracing lazy patterns over the back of Hwoarang’s hand as he lay sleeping. His steady breaths gave me peace as I sat beside him, painting the picture of him in my mind. I missed him, missed the lazy smile or mischievous quirk of his lips. However strange it might sound, I really missed his hair. It was such a unique color, I missed running my hands through it and watching the compliments of gold on copper. He didn’t mind when someone played with his hair, but one could tell that he wasn’t too fond of it either. I usually got away with it when he was still sleeping, at the break of dawn when I would wake every day without fail.
Now he was sleeping again, the day’s events on his healing body taking their toll. Once the limo had come to a stop and Hwoarang had led me into a building, and we didn’t stop until he collapsed onto a bed with a heavy sigh, not stopping for anyone. Xiaoyu had followed us in and I was more than relieved to find her safe, several voices from the hallway let me know that Steve and our other friends were also here. Lee had kept his word and given them sanctuary.
I only wondered where we were.
Hwoarang had fallen asleep soon after finding a bed, not sparing many words for Xiaoyu, but I could understand that he was simply too tired and wasn’t actually being rude. She seemed to gauge this when one of her questions did not elicit a response from the Korean, who had dozed off. His hand relaxed in mine, and I only realized then how tightly I had been clutching it. Maybe I was that desperate.
Xiaoyu cooed for a short while, fluttering all about the room for reasons I couldn’t see or understand. She left with a fond farewell to the sleeping redhead and a kiss to my cheek. Xiaoyu really was sweet, as energetic as she could be; her presence was oddly calming. Friends like her were invaluable.
I had no way of tracking the time, but I guessed that a few hours had passed. Still, Hwoarang’s hand remained in mine and I didn’t have any immediate intention of letting go. I don’t remember the last time I had slept, but it must have been days ago. My body was beyond exhausted; there was no way I could sleep like this. I leaned down, touching my forehead to our joined hands and closed my eyes. I hoped Lee was all right; I wasn’t entirely sure what his situation was and felt guilty for not going to check. But I didn’t want to leave Hwoarang’s side-- not yet.
A twinge of tension returned as I heard the door creak open gently and the soft murmur of voices wafted in. I remained still, too tired and not caring enough to move as the door was closed. In the bed, Hwoarang turned on his side, mumbling softly in sleep and I was forced to release his hand as he turned away from me. Straightening, I leaned back in my chair and waited for the newcomer to speak.
The soft click of shoes before the person stopped on the other side of the bed, across from me. Still silent, I sighed inwardly and took this as my cue.
“How is Lee?” I asked simply.
“Lee will be fine,” my father replied without hesitation. “Heihachi’s men issued much with those weapons, but I think it was more of a shock to the system with the electricity. He has some minor burns, but is else fine. He’s resting in the meanwhile.” There was a pause and his voice lowered to a soft murmur. “It has been a long day for all of us.”
I couldn’t express my relief at the news of Lee; at least we were able to treat his wounds away from a hospital. My teeth gnawed gently at the inside of my cheek and I crossed my arms over my chest. It was a crude blessing to be blind to the friends falling around me, those who tried to save me and ended up doing more harm than good. What was it worth, in the end?
“What are you thinking?”
My lids lowered slightly under the lulling veil of sleep but I forced them open again. “Many things.” I really didn’t understand what he was doing here, my father who cared for seldom apart from his own agenda. I had accepted that I was not what he wanted, to the point of wishing death on me. I would, however, accept him as a person and my kin, whether I liked it or not. Provided he stayed away and did not involve others in his exploits. He didn’t care for me, nor I for him.
That was fine. I could live with that.
“I know what you’re thinking, Jin, because once, I had the same thoughts.”
I repressed the reflex to roll my eyes or scoff; I was too tired for this. “Tell me what I’m thinking.”
“I see her in you, I see your desire to do good. Or at least, what you believe is right.” I raised my head at that, wondering what look he wore. This tone he used was not one I would ever associate with the man who threw me from a cliff. “She raised you well; perhaps a little too well.”
“She did what she could, and I took none of it for granted,” I snapped, only catching myself on the last word when my voice rose. I stopped, fearful that I had woken Hwoarang but the only response was Kazuya’s grunt. Thank you, really.
“I doubt only your own mind. You’re blind in more than sight, Jin. I understand your guilt and all else that drives you… but it should not be left to rule your life. You do so, and the demon wins. I know you, and that is not what you want.”
He was right, more than I would care to admit, but his words still angered me. “What would you presume to know of me?”
“I knew and loved your mother, despite what you may think,” he said gently, the tone making me uncomfortable. One so vile was capable of caring…? My head fell to the bed with a low groan, not at his words but my own realization. Things were starting to fall into place. One thing was clear: I certainly did not know the man who was my father. All the things that mother told me, all the good that Heihachi omitted in his recall… maybe they were true. “Even you, my son.”
My blood ran cold and it took several attempts before moisture returned to my throat and I managed voice. “You have a peculiar way of showing it.” I might have accepted what he had done, but in doing so, I promised myself that I didn’t care for the reasons. Such actions didn’t hold reason.
“In your fight against the demon, you had irrevocably weakened yourself. You can’t win against it, Jin. Not if it was born unto you,” he explained, and I just felt my temper simmer.
“I have you to thank for that, don’t I?”
“… Jin, why did you return to Japan?”
That was an easy one. “To destroy our bloodline, bar none.”
“Heihachi betrayed us both; you know what he is capable of. I couldn’t let that continue, and if I were given a chance to reconsider my decision in taking the devil, I would change nothing. He should be stopped, we both believe that.” I moved to reply, but he continued before I got a word in. “I’m only sorry that you’ve had to suffer for it. Both of you.”
I blinked. “… ‘Sorry’?” That word was in his vocabulary? It’s true that much of this may have been avoided had I not been born with the devil, but that was not even worth contemplating. This was reality, this was the world we lived in and this was the truth.
“Don’t waste your life, Jin. Your mother would not be pleased.”
That’s right. He once stood exactly where I am now, if I trusted him enough, I would have asked him for advice. Oh well, what did I have to lose? “How… how did you do it?”
“I’ve done many things, Jin. Be specific,” he retorted curtly. It brunted my confidence only slightly, and I scowled.
“How do you face yourself… knowing what you’ve done?” I asked quietly, playing with the blankets between my fingers. There was much different between my father and I, but the problem was the same. At least Kazuya managed to stop himself before killing mother, whereas I literally drove Hwoarang off the cliff. I forced myself past the demon, managing only when he had taken that lethal step.
Kazuya sighed, a sound I was surprised to hear from him. “It’s one day at a time, Jin. Your mother seemed to forget what I had done the moment I released her, she was concerned with ‘more important things’ as she put it.” A chuckle and I wondered if my ears were betraying me. “She was resilient… and I have no doubt that she loved you. Just as I do not doubt that Hwoarang loves you; love is foolish, but immeasurably powerful. To the degree of reigning over the devil.”
I looked up as Hwoarang murmured something into the pillow; the bed shifted under my hand and then a sharp knee butted me in the chest. Ow. In spite of the small jolt, a small smile pulled at the corner of my lips and I reached for the hand that draped over the bedside. It responded gently, our fingers entwining and I brought his hand to my cheek, reassured by the familiar warmth. “It should have been enough.”
“It will be,” Kazuya assured with no waver of confidence. Closing my eyes, Hwoarang’s hand against my skin, there was a strange peace that I had not known for a long time. Since mother was with me, now returned that I was united with my father. I believed him. “You love him, yes?”
I nodded silently, not at all disturbed to discuss this with him. I didn’t understand this either, but it was comforting. It was calm. Kazuya sounded most smug, but more satisfied than anything when he spoke next.
“Well, then.” It wasn’t a question, but a challenge. Even if I had wanted to leave Hwoarang to keep him safe… I had sense enough to realize that I didn’t know how to. I wasn’t strong enough to do that, but that was one weakness I was willing to accept. I hummed softly in the back of my throat, extending a hand to caress Hwoarang’s hair. He didn’t respond, but I was pleased nonetheless.
Kazuya cleared his throat when I didn’t reply and I pulled my hand back, a bit disappointed. “Have you eaten?”
“I’m not hungry.” My stomach growled in response, making my cheeks burn slightly. “Much.”
He made a sound of affirmation, steady footsteps approaching the door. “Lee would never forgive me if I let you starve, I’ll have them bring you something.”
Yes, there was obviously much I didn’t know about this man. Much that I found myself intrigued to learn. “… Thank you.” My lips curved into a genuine smile when he grunted in reply, the door closing gently behind him. I was left alone again with Hwoarang, notified for the first time of the cramps in my back. I hadn’t moved in hours. I stood to stretch and was just about to pull my hand away when the man in the bed stirred with renewed grumbles, loud enough to let me know that he was now awake. I froze in wait when the hold on my hand was tightened.
“Jin…?” came the sleepy voice. “Where you goin’?” A yawn followed and I tilted my head to the side, settling down on the bed this time.
“Nowhere,” I assured him, kissing the back of his hand. Here would be just fine.
I felt no pain.
I couldn’t even remember what pain was. But, all I felt was warm and safe as I lay in the darkness; yes, the complete darkness. The only light I could see was reflected off of black feathery wings. Wings?
I was pressed into a cool body, as soon as the thought hit me. The black wings surrounded me, cradling me gently in their contrasting warmth. I felt safe... I felt needed... I felt loved. “You’re mine now,” a deep voice whispered in my ear, and I felt my eyes open slowly, trying to seek out the owner of that voice. Lips brushed over my chin and I naturally leaned my head back a little. “Mishima will never interfere again,” the voice promised, the lips moving to my neck, caressing sensitive skin there.
“Let me see you,” I insisted, my voice a little breathy. Strong arms tightened a bit around me in response, but were quick to relax.
“I’m ugly,” the voice replied.
“I’m sure you aren’t,” I insisted in return, surprised when lips crushed my own, stealing my breath. I could feel the press of fangs against my skin and I knew. It had to be the demon. But, how?
The demon reached out and gently touched my hair, recoiling as if it had been burned. Then, it reached out again, gently stroking back a longer lock of hair that I could no longer spike. No matter, I wished to grow my hair back out, anyway. “You’re so foolish,” the demon muttered. “I could kill you.”
“I know,” I replied simply, as my voice hit an almost conversational tone. I let my head droop forward, finding the demon’s shoulder. “I wouldn’t mind,” I added quietly.
“She wouldn’t have given her life away like this,” the demon commented. I really hated how cryptic everyone was being around me. “She never would have jumped from that cliff.” The demon suddenly seemed remorseful. “Jin blames himself.”
“I know. I don’t blame him... or you, for that matter. I did that on my own accord. I would jump a million times more, too, given the same situation.” I took a step back, being gently released from the demon’s tight grasp. No sooner had I done it than there was a twitch at my back that I recognized. I’d felt it before, just not as the person with the strange muscles in my back.
With a sound that resembled tearing silk, but no pain, white wings burst out of my back that added a very slight glow to the area surrounding me. I could now see the demon clear as day, and had to resist the urge to smile. He wasn’t ugly at all. He was Jin... with a few extra markings. The new limbs were so foreign to me that I could do nothing with them but let them sit at my back, half folded.
“I am being forced out,” the demon said in a very tired voice. He sounded almost like Jin, actually. “Don’t forget, Hwoarang, you are mine.” The demon then took off with an explosion a black down feathers as he sped straight up.
I watched a single white flight feather descend amongst the black down and smiled. I was no longer in darkness, though. It was now painfully red as my eyelids were being assaulted with bright light. I groaned in protest. Which is when I noticed I had something in my hand, and it was slipping away. I clutched it tighter as my tired brain tried to discover its identity. A hand....
I opened one eye, just a little, and followed the length of the arm up to a peaceful, smiling face. “Jin...?” He wasn’t leaving, was he? That wasn’t allowed! I wouldn’t let him go! Well, maybe it was just a bathroom break. Wait—how long had he been with me? How long had I been out? “Where are you goin’?” My head hurt.
I yawned; nearly ending in a laugh as Jin cocked his head to the side a little. It reminded me of a curious dog, or a bird. Then, Jin settled beside me, instantly sobering me. I was prepared for him to just lean in and tell me he was leaving and then leave me high and dry on the damn bed in a room I’d just come to know in a place I certainly did not yet understand.
My fears were squashed when Jin replied, “Nowhere.” He raised my hand to his lips and kissed the back, before just continuing to clutch it in his tight grasp. He was staying. So, I didn’t have to worry as much about talking him out of it.
Now, the only problem was going to be speaking at all. There were a million things I could say to him... millions of sounds my mouth refused to produce.
I need you.
I missed you
Don’t leave me alone again.
I love you.
Instead, stupefied, I sat up slightly, instantly regretting it as my back screamed in pain, answered only by the dull insistent aching in my ribs. Jin didn’t seem to notice. His hand was still in mine, cool against overheated skin, and he was smiling. It was a smile I hardly remembered. Hadn’t he been too afraid to even touch me? After all that had happened....
I really needed to say something to him.
“Hi,” I mumbled ungracefully through sleep-weary lips.
“Hey,” he replied, chuckling softly. Was this even the same man who I’d grown to love? He had the same deep voice, the same gentle manner, and the same sightless coffee eyes that didn’t quite focus on me, but he seemed at peace.
There was a long pause, and I realized he was waiting on me. After all, I would not be surprised if he were to happily sit there forever to respectfully await my words. “Jin, I...” I began, not really having a direction. So, my mouth closed again. He knew I loved him, I think I’d made it very clear. Not to mention, I obviously forgave him.
What was there to say?
“It’s been a long time,” my lips said, though I didn’t know what was meant to come next. “For a month or more, now, you haven’t been there. I mean, right when we can finally tell eachother we’re in love, you got taken and then the clone died, and then you tried to kill me, and then Heihachi... well, anyway, I’ve been celibate for over a month now, because we stopped a good two or three weeks before everything went to hell, and I haven’t even been able to really kiss you since....” I was cut off as his lips fell on mine for a brief, chaste kiss.
When he drew back, he sounded serious. “So, I am just sex to you.” It took me a moment to process his words because I was too busy being impressed that he had been able to find my lips, though he was blind. Then, the meaning of his accusations dawned on me.
“That’s not true, Jin!” I reached out so I could clasp his hand in both of mine. “Just sex isn’t worth nearly dying as many times as I have in the past few weeks.” There was a desperate edge in my voice that I didn’t like.
Not to mention that little voice in my head told me that my words would sound comical out of context and nearly prompted me to laugh. Jin did laugh. Which made me realize he had just been testing me. Frowning, I grumbled, “Damn you.” I then muttered, “Well, fine, now what?”
Jin’s free hand closed over mine and he clasped it on the bed, once again tilting his head to the side, only slightly. I didn’t really like his moment of hesitation, but then he gave a small shrug and shook his head. “It’s up to you.”
I chuckled, giving him a teasing look, though he would never know. “Who are you and what did you do with my....” My voice caught, hitching for no apparent reason and instantly transforming my voice from teasing to something much more brooding. “...With the man I love?” Why had that been so damn hard to say? Now I just felt plain stupid.
Jin’s response wasn’t too comforting either. Sort of. Not really. His blind gaze fell back to the sheets, his chest rose with a heavy exhale as he rubbed the back of my hand before going still completely. Finally, his lips curved into an ironic smile. “You would have killed me had I suggested to you two years ago, what we have now.” The smile faded a bit and he brought one of my hands to his lips, gently kissing the knuckles. “Hwoarang… are you sure?”
I smiled back at him, feeling a little better. I wasn’t the only one who was scared.
Whoa, wait a second, I didn’t just think what I thought I thought, did I?
“Yeah, I’m sure,” I replied quietly, inspiration unfortunately striking after I’d spoken. So, I didn’t give him a chance to reply before speaking again. “What if I had suggested the idea to you?” I asked, hopefully shifting the focus. Or, if for no other reason, adding to my constant routine torture.
My smile broadened into a full-blown grin when Jin smiled and shook his head. A faint blush had risen in his cheeks, and he shifted a bit uncomfortably on the bed. Haha, score.
“You’re teasing me.”
“It’s the simple pleasures, Jin,” I replied, unable to wash away my grin. Jin was scared to take this any further... scared that stepping forward meant forever. He didn’t want to be left alone again. He feared rejection. But, I think I had made my point. Even if we were to split ways, it would be a crying shame. He would have worked so hard to get this far after wanting this for so long just to give it up.
Did Jin even trust happiness?
There was long pause during which the smile on Jin’s face remained. Personally, I was getting a little wary of these interludes of silence, more so when a frown replaced Jin’s smile and he blinked as though suddenly remembering something. “Wait… did you say clone? What clone?”
As an instant reaction, I pulled my hand away gently so I could clasp my biceps with my hands. I still felt cold thinking about it. His body, normally cool, but ever animated lay still, lifeless, and waxen on the hospital bed. So many times I had worried that something like that might have happened eventually, but I wasn’t prepared for him to die yet. Not when he didn’t know I loved him... didn’t even know he loved me. Or, if he did... he was just too scared to react to my advances. Then, when I finally told him, he could die with peace. And thus, he passed.
“I feel so stupid for not figuring it out sooner,” I began, realizing it was not the right place to start almost instantly. “When you were kidnapped, Heihachi’s men put in a replacement, hoping no one would notice soon enough to act on it. Fortunately for them, they were right. Thinking that the clone was you, I tried to treat him as I would have treated you, but he had the mentality you did back in the third tournament. I basically had a snowball’s chance in hell at getting much of a civil response.
“Anyway, he was an imperfect clone. Without the devil gene in him, he could not sustain life. After the terrible fight with Bryan Fury, he was rushed to the hospital and the doctors diagnosed him with a highly degenerative condition, telling me that he’d been dying for a while. I sat by his bedside for... I don’t even know how long. Damnit, I was so stupid, too. Kazuya warned me that the clone wasn’t really you, but I took it the wrong way and got pissed. Then... well....” I paused, my hands moving to cradle my face.
“Then, he died in my arms. He... thanked me for loving him before....” I clenched my teeth. I was going to have to skip ahead to avoid tears and general embarrassment in front of Jin. “That was when I decided I couldn’t live without you. Lei informed me that you were alive, and of your location. Originally, I was planning on going in there alone. Lei insisted on going, and I didn’t plan for Lee and Combot....” I fiddled with my hair, desperately trying to avoid looking at Jin.
“So.... just don’t ever think I don’t know what you’re going through.” My voice became unexpectedly harsh as I finally looked right at him. “I had to hold the body of who I thought to be the most important person in my life as he passed into death! And you know what? I couldn’t do jack fucking shit. It was the same way with Baek. So, I don’t want any more of your fucking angst stories about me, and how you’ll hurt me.” My anger calmed, and I realized I’d been shouting. Immediately, I looked away from Jin. I could be such an ass hole.
I wasn’t surprised when a long silence ensued. So he was speechless. Good, it was about fucking time he realized he wasn’t the only one going through some tough shit. Maybe we were both being a little selfish, but I really wouldn’t be able to stand another one of Jin’s tirades. The time seemed to drag on long enough to make everything just a little uncomfortable and I was really starting to wish he would say something. Anything. Neither of us had moved, and I still refused to look at him for the moment.
The bed creaked and I looked back just as a pair of strong arms closed around me. Jin buried his face in my hair as he held me gingerly, it was firm but he was careful not to disturb my wounds too much, for which I was grateful.
God only knows how I’d missed him.
I reached up, taking some of his shirt in one fist. I felt like he should be apologizing now, and I should be forgiving him. Or was that the other way around? I couldn’t remember, really. I let my eyes drift close, finally finding peace, resting against him. I just wanted this all to be over. “Jin... I shouldn’t have snapped at you. I apologize.” It felt almost formal to say something in the otherwise silent room, but I couldn’t just let the subject drop without setting things straight.
“I understand now,” he whispered into my hair. He drew back a little, my fist still in his shirt.. “I’m glad you told me, it puts some things in perspective,” Jin murmured, his hand gently closing over my wrist. I hope he realized I didn’t have any intention of letting go anytime soon.
I swallowed hard, leaning forward a little with my head titled down so I was looking at his abdomen. Was this the right time to tell him about the demon? The claim? Maybe he already knew... I honestly didn’t know where to go from there. I liked being there with him, being in his arms, and that was enough for me, but I knew we had to get our possible future decided. At least for now, Jin was in favor of it.... I think. Maybe I should let him talk about what was bothering him? About the Mishimas... about his father?
Finally, I settled for the dumbest, most simplistic and self-degenerative comment I could think of off the top of my head. “What do you mean, Jin? Now you understand why I was being such an idiot?”
“Among other things,” he chuckled, seizing my wrists before I could hit him. Jin settled back on his heels before me, smiling while I scowled. It was a nice change, though. Maybe not for me, but… yeah. Whatever. He released one of my wrists, his hand traveling up my arm, but never touching. I couldn’t help but stare; how did he know where I was if he was blind? His hand hovered a bare inch above my skin, coming to a stop at my cheek and his head cocked to the side again. “I just remembered why I love you so much.”
Was it the heat?
Jin knew exactly where I was while his hand traveled above my skin. But, was that a reason to love someone? Just because they are a walking furnace?
“Why’s that, Jin?” I asked quietly, trying to make sure I betrayed none of my confusion in my voice.
“Why do I love you, or why do I remember?” he asked, the corner of his mouth curving upwards. Cryptic bastard.
“Fuckin’ A, Jin. Just answer the fuckin’ question however the hell you want. I’d even accept ‘42’.” I sighed. It was times like these when I had trouble remembering why I loved Jin. I was tired, confused, and beaten, and he was trying to play words games with me?
The hand at my cheek finally fell to my shoulder, gently sliding across to cradle my neck. Jin’s fingers lightly played with the hairs at the base of my neck and it was then that I noticed the distance between us was growing scarce. “That’s one, you never hesitate to speak your mind,” he murmured, before his lips closed over mine. After a few seconds he drew away again. “The rest is for me to know… though it’s essentially everything. I love everything about you and as long as you stay with me, I’ll always be reminded.” The last was muffled slightly as his voice lowered, but primarily by the fact that he was now speaking against the skin of my neck.
I was trying to process what I’d just heard while dealing with the fact that Jin was suddenly showing far more affection than he had in a long time, not to mention the dull ache in my chest, or the sting of pillows against my back. I slowly raised and arm to loop it over his back, leaning my head forward to nuzzle his neck where it met the shoulder. “Thanks. I feel the same way too.” I pushed him away slightly, looking into sightless eyes for a moment before leaning forward to kiss him.
I still don’t know how I missed the sound of the door opening. “Finally,” a tired-sounding voice commented, and Jin and I drew apart. Lee was walking in with one crutch and a huge smile on his face. Behind him, I could see Xiaoyu and Steve, both eager to find out what was going on inside. No sign of Kazuya, but that wasn’t really a problem. Something told me he and Jin had made peace. And he and Lee, well....
“We brought you some lunch,” Lee offered, as Xiaoyu bounded in carrying one tray and Steve walked in far more precisely with the other. I had no idea who had cooked it, but it looked about a billion times better than hospital food. I was also glad to see Xiaoyu and Lee were both okay. I still hadn’t bothered to acknowledge Steve.
Jin shifted off the bed with a stifled sigh which quickly became a groan when Xiaoyu leaped into his lap. They stumbled back into the bed, Xiaoyu laughing with glee as Jin looped an arm around her waist to keep her from falling. He didn’t look very thrilled, but he wasn’t about to drop her.
“We didn’t know what you ate so we made some okonomiyaki and other stuff,” she piped, beaming at us. One of her slim arms slung over Jin’s shoulder as she smiled at me, missing Jin’s frown when those huge green things round her wrists jabbed his shoulder. “You will eat it yes?” Jin sighed, acceding and settling back on the bed next to me with Xiaoyu still attached.
“I’m starved,” I replied, biting back a jealous reply. It was Xiaoyu flopped on Jin’s lap, not serious competition. And it didn’t bother me, really. Still, it took some effort to remind myself of that. Jin was mine, and I wasn’t about to lose him now after all I’d been through just to hold on to him. I was over-reacting, nonetheless.
“You look better,” Steve commented as he came through the door. I didn’t look at him, assuming he was speaking to Jin and not me. But, when I did look up, he was smiling at me in the most bizarre way. It wasn’t until then that I realized Xiaoyu had passed her food to him. It was like they were conspiring against Jin.
Wait—I got it! Xiaoyu wants Jin, so she hired Steve to try to seduce me away from him! ...I sure hope not. And where the hell did that come from anyway? Ugh.
Xiaoyu looked between us wearing an assumedly pensive expression. “Well, a little pale, but that’s normal, ne?” With a wide grin, she finally hopped off Jin’s lap and took back her tray from Steve, setting it on the bedside table. I glanced at Jin who was breathing a small sigh of relief and discretely shuffling further back on the bed.
I barely resisted the urge to hug Jin protectively, deciding instead to just find his hand with my own, clasping it carefully. “How are you feeling, Lee? You look like hell.” He really did. The dye in his hair was begging to fade, giving him the graying appearance, and he was barely mobile even with the crutch. He looked like he’d just woken up, too.
“I feel like hell, Hwoarang,” he replied with a quiet chuckle. “I feel much better after some rest, though. I’m sure I’ll be fine in a few days.” Lee then looked to Jin. “You weren’t hurt by father, were you?” I was a little surprised that Lee still referred to Heihachi as “father”, but I chose not to comment.
Jin’s free hand rose, before stilling just as quickly. He seemed to consider something, but then his hand dropped to the bed and he just shook his head. His head turned back to my direction for a second and I thought he was about to say something. Eventually, he just turned his attention back to his lap, his hand tightening in mine slightly.
Steve’s attention had diverted to Jin and was regarding him with a concerned frown. It was then that Xiaoyu’s voice rang out again and she moved past us to the windows.
“You’re all so gloomy, we have to brighten up the place!” The heavy drapes were thrown open and blinding white sunlight poured in, putting the modest lanterns to shame. Jin groaned and turned away quickly, Xiaoyu hadn’t noticed as she held out a set of chopsticks for us both.
“Eat! Before your food gets cold.” She poked Jin in the shoulder with the plastic implements when he didn’t take them.
“J—Jin?” My voice faltered, and I scrambled tossing the chopsticks I’d just been given, and drawing myself against Jin, using the hand I still clasped, just as the plastic utensils hit the floor. My eyes were still hurting from the blinding sunlight, but it wasn’t what was really keeping me from focusing on his face properly. “Did you just grunt in annoyance because of the light?” I gripped his hand desperately in both of mine. “Tell me I didn’t imagine it.”
Jin blinked in surprise, but frowned a little as I turned him to face me. The window was almost directly behind us. “You saw it too?”
“What the hell do you mean, I ‘saw it too’? It’s like a fucking star is burning right outside the fucking window. Did you see it? Can you see it?” I tried to contain my excitement. I think I was probably asking too much, and Jin was going to tell me it was nothing and that he really didn’t see anything. Not to mention, the rest of the room was probably giving me the weirdest damn looks for my sudden outburst.
“Oh, so that’s what it was.” Jin’s gaze was still downcast, but the way he kept turning his head made it look as though he was looking about the floor. “I… I see light. It’s fuzzy, but… “ He hummed in surprise, straightening. “I thought it was only in my head. I see flashes of light from time to time, since the hospital."
I really don’t know what came over me a moment later. I grabbed Jin’s face in my hands, leaning forward to kiss him as if he was my long lost lover. There was a muffled sound of surprise from Jin against my lips, but this went ignored. As did the insane little giggle from Xiaoyu, the groan from Steve, and the cat-call from Lee.
Yeah, well, I was happy, okay?
I drew away, grinning as Jin was still in a state of mild shock. What if he was getting his sight back? I really hoped so. I hated looking into his eyes, knowing he couldn’t judge my expressions. I just wanted everything back to normal again. “Sorry,” I murmured sheepishly. “I was just excited.”
“No kidding,” Steve muttered, folding his arms over his chest. As far as I could tell, the other two were planning on being silent and supportive. I was starting to think Jin was going to be silent too, if he didn’t get over the shock soon.
A chuckle from Lee, as relieved smile gracing his lips. “I think I’m going to call the doctor.”
“Wait, what doctor?” Jin asked suddenly, head turning to Lee’s general direction.
“Don’t worry,” Lee assured. “There are people around here who have earned my trust.”
“Oh, I’ll do it!” Xiaoyu offered, bounding up to Lee and simultaneously blocking his way to the exit. “You old guys should sit down and take it easy.”
Lee’s expression contorted into one of disdain and offence, he sputtered on his reply, nearly slipping with his crutch as Steve stifled a laugh under the mask of a cough. “I’m not that old,” Lee finally managed, looking extremely put out. “Anyhow, you don’t know these people, Xiaoyu, best to let me do it.”
“… Okay, if you really insist. I have to get Hwoarang some new chopsticks anyway.” She winked back at me before brushing past Steve. The door closed with a soft click behind her and that was when I caught the small smile on Jin’s lips. His hand came up to take mine and he kissed the inside of my wrist before clutching it gently, and letting our joined hands rest on the bed.
Lee cleared his throat. “I’ll be back soon, don’t forget to eat.”
I met his eyes before he left the room. Soft brown, again, as if they had shifted with his mood. I nodded to him slightly with a smile, and he let himself out the door without another word. I couldn’t think of the proper way to say it, but Lee and I had some sort of bond, that much could not be denied. We understood eachother. Why? Anyone’s guess was as good as mine.
“Well, I had better eat,” I commented quietly. “I’m developing a boney ass, I think.” I grinned mischievously at Jin, and I could see that his smile was not fading. “You need to eat too, Jin-kun. You’ve lost weight.” I poked Jin lightly in the side letting my head fall to his shoulder. Obviously, I was blatantly ignoring Steve by doing all this, but I don’t think Jin and Steve caught on to the fact.
“I’m glad you have the appetite. Xiaoyu was very excited she could cook for you,” Steve commented, sounding warmer than he had before. Something told me it was all about Jin. Though, he did say he liked me better now, and was okay with my relationship with Jin. Maybe he was being serious?
“It smells wonderful, but… “ The corner of Jin’s lips hitched in a nervous smile. “Do you think it’s safe?”
Steve laughed lightly, it was heartfelt and genuine and brought Jin’s small smile into full bloom. “I was there the whole time, it looked good to me. She looks pretty cute in an apron too… “ He trailed off, nodding to himself.
I really wished I could exchange a glance with Jin. Was there a possibility behind that remark...? I wanted to alert Jin to what I was thinking without letting Steve know, but I couldn’t think of how. “Yeah, Xiaoyu’s pretty cute. She’ll make a good girlfriend, someday. And now that Jin’s taken, she’s entirely available....” Man, I hoped Jin caught my drift. Steve only seemed to take in the information as just that—information with little meaning behind the words.
“So you guys are a real thing now?” Steve glanced between us, as if he was looking for something. Jin’s expression softened into a content smile, and he nodded.
“Yes.” Jin looked back my way and clutched my hand just a bit tighter. “As long as Hwoarang can put up with me, that is,” he chuckled, though it sounded just a bit weak, only slightly strained.
To reassure Jin, I lifted out hands and lightly grazed his knuckles with my lips. I decided now was a good time to be blunt and finally put the whole issue with Steve on the table while all three of us were here to deal with it. “Is that okay with you, Steve?” I think I surprised Jin, and Steve just smiled at me a little cruelly. I think it would always be like that between us.
“As long as you guys are serious about this. “ The Brit snickered and unfolded his arms, moving for the door. “My offer still stands. You hurt him and I’ll kill you.”
Jin sighed. “Steve… “
“But you guys are going well for the meanwhile, so I guess I’ll let you live, Hwoarang,” Steve grinned playfully at me. “Anyway, think I’ll give you guys some space now.” He reached for the door, but paused before turning it. “Oh yeah, and if some cop with a ponytail asks for me, you don’t know where I am.” He was out the door before we could reply, Jin blinking at the door in confusion.
“That Lei guy really gets around,” I joked, my humor lost on the confused Jin. I wrapped my arms around Jin from behind. “I think everything’s gonna be fine now, Jin.” I frowned. “Well, except... what are we gonna do when we leave here? I assume that you got rid of the old apartment in Tokyo?”
Jin nodded, his hands covering mine as he leaned back into me. “I handed the keys over when the tournament began and moved into one of the hostels they were providing for the fighters.” Jin leaned his head back against my shoulder, fingers moving in idle patterns over the back of my hand. “I wasn’t too fond of the apartment towards the end.”
“Hm? Why’s that, Jin? Monsters under the bed?” My voice was light and teasing, but I really paid no mind to what I was saying to him. I would much rather focus on the way he smelled, which was a little off from his recent stay in the hospital. Or, how about the way his bangs were hanging longer than ever, gracing his chin. I pressed my cheek against his, grinning uncontrollably.
“It’s boring by myself,” he murmured simply, turning his face into my neck.
“So, where’re we gonna live, then?” I wondered aloud. “We should probably stay here in Japan. That way we can stay close to your family.” I sighed, closing my eyes. “I veto any high rise buildings. I may have finally faced my fear of heights, but I think I only made it worse. Plummeting to your supposed death is unnerving, to say the least.” I chuckled to myself, reflecting on my bad luck with living arrangements since I’d come to Japan.
Jin stilled, his grasp on my wrists tightening a bit. Maybe it was just my imagination but the room temperature seemed to take a small dip and when Jin finally spoke, he didn’t sound too impressed. “We can live wherever you wish, it makes little difference to me. But I do wish you would stop talking like that.”
“Hm? Like what?” I tried to keep my voice light and generally unconcerned, but I think he may have heard my doubt. It worried me. I hadn’t said anything wrong, had I? There was another pause before Jin replied, so I nervously filled the space. “Was it something I said?”
Jin gave a little sigh and pulled out of my arms. Turning round, he found one of my hands and squeezed it lightly. “You say you don’t care for what I’ve done, but then you continue to bring it up. I don’t expect you to forget, but the way you talk about it is like a joke! Even if you are just trying to lighten the mood…” He shook his head and released my hand. “It’s not funny, Hwoarang.”
I paused, frowning. “You confuse me, Jin. Do you want me to forgive and forget, or not?” From the look on his face, the message had not been transmitted to him properly. “Jin... I didn’t mean it as a joke; I was being serious. I honestly think that I have only worsened my fear of heights. I did—as in: you are not to blame. I only laughed because it is ironic how many places I’ve been forced to deal with heights while I have been in Japan.” I took his hand gently. “I’m sorry if that offended you. I really didn’t mean to.”
“… It’s alright.” Jin brought my hand up and pressed it to his cheek, leaning his head to one side. His eyes slipped closed for a moment, opening again to half-lidded. “I just missed you.” His other hand ran the length of my forearm, up and down again in a comforting gesture. “Very much. Maybe I’m overreacting.”
“You do excel at that,” I commented wryly, feeling oddly warmer from Jin’s simple motion. Unintentionally, my tone grew serious, though remaining soft. “But, like I said before, I think everything will be okay, now. I think the worst is behind us.” My fond smile only grew, seeing the pleased expression on Jin’s face. “I am certainly ready to move on with the rest of my life.” Then, I paused. Had I just declared Jin to be the rest of my life? I hadn’t meant to... it just sorta come out....
Jin’s expression looked equally sober, his hand stilled on my arm and he took a moment of pause before replying. “Hwoarang, would-“ He stopped as the door burst open and a familiar petite martial artist bounded up to us. Xiaoyu stopped before me and proudly displayed the chopsticks she’s retrieved, right in my face.
“Ne, you haven’t touched your food!” She pouted, placing hands on hips.
Trying to appear cool, though feeling a bit foolish, a waved a finger at her. “How am I supposed to eat without chopsticks?” She gave me a sheepish look, but then raised her eyebrows at Jin. “Oh, and you know Jin. He’s so well mannered that he couldn’t eat without me.”
Xiaoyu looked at me triumphantly. “So, you guys were just making out the whole time, then?” She challenged, giving me an evil glare. I heard Jin make a choked noise and resisted the urge to laugh.
I plucked the chopsticks from her fingers, my grin growing. “Yes, actually,” I replied, not failing to notice the blush spreading on Jin’s face. Xiaoyu, miffed, looked at me as though she hadn’t meant to be correct in her accusations. And she wasn’t, but, you know, screwing with young girls’ head never fails to amuse. I tossed the chopsticks on the floor, smiling sweetly. “Now, be a doll and get some more chopsticks so we can go back to what we were doing.”
Xiaoyu pouted. “You’re so mean,” she grumbled. Looking to Jin, her lips pursed. “Lee said to tell you that the doctor will be here soon, he wants to check your eyes.”
Jin nodded numbly, murmuring a soft ‘thank you’. Xiaoyu fixed me with a narrowed glare.
“You can get your own chopsticks this time!” And with that she stalked out, closing the door gently behind her. Most of the blush had faded from Jin’s cheeks, they were tinted with a vague pink as the door shut behind him. A hand raised to brush along his hairline before dropping to his knee.
“Hwoarang, that was uncalled for,” Jin frowned.
“I know,” I said simply, which seemed to agitate him more. “I wanted to get rid of her, and it worked. I’m not actually hungry anyway.” I sighed, not sure what to do with the expression Jin had on his face. So, I decided to change the subject. “I hope the doctor come bearing good news. I can’t even imagine what it is like to lose your sight. And... I haven’t exactly been sensitive to the fact that you are living with that....” I sighed heavily, realizing my tangent was getting me nowhere.
“Things could be worse,” Jin put in, and I could still hear the frown in his voice, but it was softer than before. “Though, it is frustrating. Not being able to see where you’re going, always needing someone to lead you around… I’ll be needing something to rectify that.” Jin raised the hand from his knee and brought it forward to hover over mine. “You are different. I don’t need to see you, because… “ He pulled his hand back quickly. “Well, I would love it if I could see you, but that’s not what I mean. Of course, I miss you hair, your eyes, and all of… “ He shook his head as if trying to clear his thoughts, and I could see the blush returning. “Anyhow, that’s not what I meant. I can sense you. There.”
It was moments like these, I would kill to have a video camera.
I was caught between confusion and amusement, but chose to try to be supportive, and hope he couldn’t hear the wolfish grin I wore through my voice. “What does that mean?” I wanted to retract my question instantly, and exchange it for a slightly more educated sounding inquiry. “Or is this something that is completely over my head and I just shouldn’t ask?” I added, feeling a little better for sounding dumb by claiming my stupidity. Or... something like that.
Jin was already shaking his head, waving a hand in dismissal. “Yes, you don’t want to know. It’s… “ Jin rose from the bed and took special care to find his footing on the ground, one hand keeping steady on the bed. “Not important. I simply can, since you’re a special case.”
“Should I feel honored?” I asked in jest, raising an eyebrow at him. Then, curiosity filling me, I leaned forward a little like a child would. “So, has this ever happened before? I mean, that you can just ‘sense’ someone? Like, with Xiaoyu or your mother?”
Jin looked down at me, expression calm. “Xiaoyu is one I could tell is present because the shift of wind in the room, sounds and movement I hear. Mother was the same. But I know where to reach you,” He demonstrated this by placing a hand at the back of my head and stroking the hair. “I know exactly where you are because your blood is now in my system.” He leaned down and pressed a kiss to my forehead. “At least, that is what I think. Anyway, that’s a simple explanation.”
“I guess that makes sense,” I said, blinking. “So, tell me, Dracula, did that have any other weird effects on you? Because I keep hearing this voice....” Oh yeah, that sounds sane. “I mean, I think it might be the demon. I can hear it when you can, I think. Or maybe, he’s just speaking specifically to me. I had a dream about him....” I was babbling incoherently, I realized, so I quieted, looking away sheepishly.
Jin’s hand disappeared from where it had come to rest at my neck and that deep frown returned to his expression. “… Are you sure? What do you hear?” He sat back on the bed next to me, head tilted down in my direction. “What have you seen?”
“Nothing interesting. The demon... he seemed lonely, if nothing else. He was very possessive of me, be he was acting just like a scared little boy. He threatened me, but when I didn’t entertain his threats, he never mentioned it again. It was sorta weird. Oh, and he had a white feather. Mixed in with all the black from his wings....” I tilted my head to the side, trying to recall the images I’d seen. “This is going to sound strange, but I don’t think that whatever is inside you is as evil as the devil inside Kazuya. I think your mother must have some influence on the ‘personality’ of the demon.” I looked back to Jin who looked pensive and serious still. “But, as I said before, he really said or did nothing of importance.”
Jin was still frowning deeply, like he didn’t believe me. “Are you sure?” he pressed.
“Look, I know what I saw Jin. But you know what, who the hell cares? I was pretty battered when I heard the voice the first time, and I was probably just randomly dreaming just now, it’s nothing.” My voice was thick with sarcasm, even though I really did just want to move on. “Frankly, I don’t give a flying fuck in hell if the demon could randomly talk to me or not. All that matters is that we’ve made it this far. I mean, it says something that I can sit here with you arguing about this when only a few months ago, we were just starting to really get to know eachother.”
I smiled, memories flooding my mind. “Like... I still remember the first time you saw me naked. When I got out of the shower that one day. I didn’t know humans could turn the color your face was for the following hour or so.” I poked him a little, grinning like an idiot.
Jin groaned, flushing a deep shade once more as he fended off my hands. “You are impossible, Hwoarang.” A smile graced his lips as he shook his head and stared down into his lap, brushing back the hair that once again fell in his eyes. “Impossible and shameless.”
“And you are generally shy and uptight, but that’s part of why I love you,” I all but cooed, reaching a hand up to push Jin’s bangs out of his face entirely. He looked older like that, but I rather like the offending hair that always seemed to get in the way. I kissed him briefly, letting my hand move away so his bangs could fall back into place. “I can’t thank you enough for tying with me two years ago. In retrospective, it’s the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.”
Jin scoffed, sounding both amused and triumphant at the same time. “Ah, you say that now. But then it was ‘Die, Kazama!’ and all the usual rants. Since then you’ve become far more original.” He smiled and held out an arm that curled carefully around my ribs. Shifting closer, he kissed my temple, where he murmured, “I never really asked what made you change your mind, and if I had the patience to, I would.” Instead, he pulled back a little, free hand taking mine. “I want to leave this city.”
“That’s fine, and I agree. Let’s get the hell out of here. We’re due for a very extended vacation, I think.” I looked Jin in the eye and suggested, “Let’s wait for the doctor to get here, and then let’s go. I’m fuckin’ sick of this room, this city, hospitals that seem to only bring more pain to me, and Tekken. Fuck all that shit, let’s just go.” Great speech, Hwoarang, really. I frowned briefly.
Jin’s hand rubbed in gentle circles over my back and he frowned lightly. “I was thinking of staying until you were fit to travel properly, but… if you’re insistent on leaving that soon… “
“Patience in not one of my virtues right now, Jin,” I commented with dry humor. “And anyway, I’m fit to travel! I’m as healthy as a horse.” Jin gave me a skeptical look. “A horse that’s been to the glue factory, maybe, but the point is, I’ll be fine so long as I have my motorcycle and you.” Of course, I had to admit to myself, if not to Jin, that it was going to kinda suck if I had to ride on my bike with the ribs. Maybe I would just find some industrial strength painkiller somewhere....
“Don’t be ridiculous, we’ll fly.” An unsure pause followed and Jin added as an afterthought, “by plane, of course. If not that, there is always the train. But you are not riding that bike in your condition, the last thing we need is another accident.”
“Yes, mother,” I joked, sticking my tongue out at him. I was quick to realize that wasn’t effective. “Jin, I’m sticking my tongue out at you, since you can’t see it,” I told him, sticking my tongue out again. His face held mirth, but he just shook his head. “And honestly, Jin, the way you’re talking, you’d think I was the most accident prone person in the world.”
“I don’t.” He turned his face forward and seemed to talk more to himself, even though I still heard his words. “Though perhaps I should hire a cook so you don’t burn anything while I’m away.” His head tilted back in my direction. “No offense,” he quickly added, smiling sheepishly as the arm around me clutched a little tighter.
“Right,” I muttered, rolling my eyes. I leaned against Jin, the lack of rest finally catching up with me. I snuggled against him. “You make the plane reservations, I’ll sleep. I don’t really care where we go.” I tried to find the perfect niche to rest my head, but I was too tired to even manage that. Absently, I toyed with his shirt, watching my own fingers with half-lidded eyes.
“Tired again?” He asked gently, cheek pressing to my hair. A hand braced under my chin, nudging as if debating whether to lift, but then it trailed back over my jaw instead. “Why don’t you go back to sleep?”
“Only if you promise to be here when I wake up,” I grumbled, realizing I wasn’t going to want to move off of Jin so I could go back to sleep and it was just too damn bad for him, as far as I was concerned.
I didn’t have to wait long for my reply, as the hand on my jaw slid forward and tilted my head up. Jin’s lips came down on mine and moved gently before pulling away all too soon. Another brushing kiss and he leaned his forehead against mine, smiling.
“I can’t go anywhere without you, you know.”
A thin smile met my lips, as I sat silently running the words through my mind, as if tasting them like a fine wine. It was reassuring, knowing that Jin felt that way. I had been so worried that everything was going to go all to hell when we were talking in the hospital. I had been so certain that we were going to have to go separate ways because Jin couldn’t live with what happened on the cliff that night.
Good lord, that was an eternity ago.... Or, it felt like it.
Jin and I were all wrong for eachother. Everything that annoys me in people seems to somehow manifest itself in him, and I know for a fact that I am nothing short of obnoxious. I can’t be neat, while he is more organized than most governments. I can’t cook, while he is practically a gourmet chef. I swear like a sailor, and he speaks like an angel. I’m loud; he’s quiet. I love being spontaneous, while he always has a set game plan. I have no manners; he is like a prince. He gets up at the crack of dawn, it’s lucky if I’m up by noon. And if that isn’t enough, I really suck at holding anything back, and he is too reserved to get anything out of him.
But, for some odd reason or another, it worked. We could coexist without being at each other’s throats, and that ability had somehow led to love. He loved me, despite all the things I did that must have hurt him, pissed him off, and generally made me a bad boyfriend. He still loved me.
And that was good enough for me.
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