DISCLAIMER: Me don’t own Tekken, k?
Art of Fighting
Chapter 9 - Wistful Thinking
“Ah, yes, does it feel good to be the birthday boy or what?” I remarked as I leaned back in my seat lazily. Steve snickered beside me and jabbed me in the ribs with his finger. I glared at him. “Well, excuse you! No one asked you to be such a party pooper!”
Steve rolled his eyes at my comment and even I couldn’t help but laugh. Party pooper…now where in the world did I get that from? God, I’ve been listening to Xiaoyu and Julia too much. I’m even beginning to sound like a girl. Lord have mercy…
Suddenly the feeling of punches being thrown at both my arms alarms me and I look around to see both Xiaoyu and Julia hitting each of my arms and counting ceremoniously.
“…Three-four-five-six…” Julia said while Xiaoyu muttered the numbers, “One-two-three-four…” I was more than a little annoyed.
“Oh come on! It’s my fucking birthday and you’re abusing me!!”
Xiaoyu and Julia merely wink at me and continue their ruthless attack. “It’s your birthday punches, Hwoarang!!” they both exclaim in what I suppose would be innocent tones but right now it was just damn annoying.
In reality, I didn’t really care. It wasn’t as if they were hitting really hard. But I knew Steve would probably be the next one and one thing was for sure: he did not punch lightly. The guy was a lightweight boxer for crying out loud. He didn’t know the meaning of light punches just as I didn’t know the meaning of light kicks.
“Twenty-two!” Julia finished just a second before Xiaoyu and then both of them gathered their strength and hit each of my arms at the same time yelling, “And one for good luck!”
Those last two punches did hurt a little, but I barely let it show as I glared at them. “Damn you. I didn’t hit you guys when it was your birthday,” I accused. The two of them just laughed.
“Well, you could have but now it’s too late!” they both yelled.
Christ, I wondered if these two really weren’t twins separated at birth…
“Hey, it’s my turn now!”
Automatically I stand up from my seat and stare Steve down. “Oh hell no, I’m not letting you anywhere near me!” I exclaimed. With that comment everyone else at the table laughed and I sat down once I realized that the waiters along with everyone else in the restaurant were staring at me. I hated public places. Once we all settled down, I glanced over at Jin. He was just eating his food quietly and listening to Xiaoyu and Julia’s conversation. I noted with some satisfaction, that he didn’t look uninterested like he usually would despite the fact he wasn’t talking. Well, that’s good I suppose—better than nothing. But I got to wonder what his present is…
“Oh, he’s a jolly good fellow, oh he’s a jolly good fellow!”
Okay, so it wasn’t the best thing to say, but that was exactly how I felt like when a huge white cake was placed right before my eyes. A whole crowd of waiters and waitresses were around me and all of them were singing that ridiculous song.
“Oh, he’s a jolly good fellow! That nobody can deny!”
With a loud cheer everyone clapped and I saw a flash before me. Turning my head slightly, I saw Steve holding my camera with a wide grin. I stared at him for a while, trying to recover from my shock before pointing my finger at him. “How dare ye use thy camera against thee?” I said, surprising myself with the words I used. Since when did I switch over to Old English??
“Thee dares,” Steve replied, laughing heartily as he closed the camera and placed it back in its case. Xiaoyu and Julia were clapping and cheering for me and a quick glance at Jin told me he was also smiling. That, for some odd reason, made me smile.
“You guys are really making Shakespeare turn and toss in his grave,” Jin remarked quietly, with a small smile on his lips. The table was silent for a moment until we all started laughing at the same time. I didn’t know what it was but I felt like I was high or something. But this was better than that. I didn’t know what it was, but I was just feeling really happy for some reason. And I don’t ever get this happy—not usually, anyway.
But I wasn’t complaining. Birthdays come only once a year.
Suddenly I was sick of the restaurant. Standing up, I slammed my fist against the table, making everything shake. Looking for the nearest waiter I called him over. “Check, please!” I ordered. The waiter nodded and immediately came over and placed it on the table. Before I could even look at it, Julia snatched it away.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa. What’s the rush?”
I shrugged and began putting on my jacket. “I have a short attention span, you know that. Consider it a miracle that I even stayed here for an hour and a half!” I replied while wrapping my scarf around my neck. “So you gonna pay the bill or what?” I remarked, arching an eyebrow.
Julia snorted as she handed the bill to the rest of the group. “Don’t worry, your majesty. We got it,” she replied indignantly, though I knew she was just faking it. I couldn’t help but feel a little guilty, though.
“Sure you don’t need any—?”
Steve glared me down. “We got it, mate. It’s your birthday after all. We couldn’t let you pay!” he cut in before slamming a few bills and change on the table along with everyone else’s. They then collected some change from each other and then handed the bill to the waiter who thanked them generously. I grinned to myself. Knowing them, they probably left him a big tip in compensation for my behavior during the evening. Heh…my friends were too good.
“So where to now, birthday boy?” Jin surprisingly asked. I looked at him for a second before slowly grinning. A plan was beginning to develop in my head. But first, I needed to get out of this overstuffed restaurant. Grabbing his arm, I hightailed it straight out the door with everyone else yelling in protest.
As soon as my face hit the crisp, winter air I turned around to look at Jin, who was trying to regain some of his composure as he looked at me strangely. I grinned. Man it was always fun to catch Jin off guard. “So let’s go to the park,” I remarked. Jin stared at me for a long moment as everyone else finally came through the door, all complaining about the cold weather. I grinned at his puzzled expression.
“Does the park hold some special meaning with you or something?”
I blinked slowly. “Hm?”
Jin looked at me curiously. “Well, you asked me once why the snow was special to me…so why is the park special to you?” he inquired, his tone a little more resolute than usual. I stared at him for a second while contemplating his question. Son of a gun. He used my own words against me. That made me a little angry, too. Don’t know why, but I suddenly didn’t feel like looking at him so I shrugged nonchalantly and walked over to Xiaoyu and Julia, placing my arms around them.
“So how about a nice, luxurious stroll in the park, ladies?” I suggested in the most polished tone I could manage. Both of them giggled and just nodded as we began walking. I could feel Jin’s gaze behind me, but I ignored it. Somehow his question had struck a nerve in me. Not only was it personal, but to use my own words—okay, yeah I said that already, but still! And that oddly enough made me want to just forget about him for the rest of the night.
And the park did have a special place in my heart, much like snow did in Jin’s. But unlike him, I wasn’t all that prepared to share that information with him. It was just too…personal. I stared at my shoes for a bit as we continued walking and sighed softly. I was being a baby, I realized. I didn’t used to get half as sensitive like the way I was now. What I really wouldn’t mind, though, was a good street fight to make me forget everything. That would be a godsend.
But like everything else, God wasn’t going to grant my wish.
“Hwoarang…it’s cold,” complained Xiaoyu as she attempted to zip up her coat even more tightly than it already was.
I sighed and glanced at my hands. They were completely white from the lack of blood flow. “How long have we been out?” I inquired. Beside me, Steve glanced at his watch.
“Almost two hours, mate. We’re going to catch pneumonia if we stay out any longer,” he commented, his voice slightly strained. I had almost forgotten he had just gotten over a pretty severe fever about a week ago.
Sighing, I shrugged. “You guys can go home if you want. I really don’t mind,” I said, knowing all to well what the response would be.
“You’re staying??” cried out Xiaoyu and Julia.
Even Steve shot me a strange look. I didn’t even bother to see how Jin reacted. He, out of them all, was the one I did not want to speak to at the moment. Pushing my hands into my pockets, I nodded and just stared at everyone defiantly. They all glanced at each other, knowing now there was no way to convince me to do otherwise. I smiled inwardly. There was a definite advantage to everyone knowing how steadfast I could become. Xiaoyu walked over to me and gave me a hug, startling me slightly.
“Take care, okay? And don’t stay out too long,” she warned me.
I arched an eyebrow at her. “What are you, my mother?” I queried. She glared at me and slugged my shoulder. I feigned hurt.
“Smart mouth,” she rebuked playfully.
I grinned at her while she and Julia began to head off. Then it was just Steve, Jin, and I. After a few minutes I began to notice Steve shifting in his place uncontrollably. I turned and glowered at him. “Just go home if you’re so cold!” I scolded.
He just stared at me for a few seconds before giving me a salute. “Aye, aye, captain! Will do!” he exclaimed before giving me a real wave and running off.
Shaking my head, I couldn’t help but feel a bit more light-hearted after Steve’s antics. He was the craziest Englishman I had ever met…but then again he was the only Englishman I knew. I just hoped not every guy in England was like him.
“You’re not going?” I asked quietly.
Jin had remained all but obsolete during the others’ departure. I glanced to my side and saw him leaning on the lamppost with his arms crossed and eyes closed as if in meditation.
“Not yet,” was his quiet reply.
Of course, I wasn’t surprised. Jin was most definitely runner-up in the most stubborn person category right behind me. I took in a deep breath and began to walk through the park. It was completely empty now and I could see traces of our footsteps from where we were before. Without even having to look back, I knew Jin was following me. To be honest, I didn’t know why he stayed. Perhaps he was still awaiting my answer to his earlier question or maybe he was lamenting to that same question.
I had been angry when he first posed that question but now I was more than cooled off. I highly doubt Jin meant to offend me in any way with his words. The poor guy was just starting to open up some more and then I ignore him for it. He was probably never going to ask me another question again. I really did need to learn how to control my emotions better. How the hell did Steve do it? I know I made that guy angry more than a few occasions but he never rebuked me or shunned me out. Sometimes that was the very thing that annoyed me the most about him, yet it elicited great respect from me as well.
“So what did you think of this great turnout?”
Sarcasm. It practically dripped out of my mouth when I asked the question. I heard the very slight gasp of surprise from Jin and smiled to myself.
“It was…good,” he replied calmly.
Damn Kazama. He also had an incredible knack for hiding his feelings. I turned around and looked at him. His head was bowed low and he had his hands in his pocket. His back was hunched slightly and just by analyzing his body language, I could tell he was extremely tense.
“Yeah…Another year older. Don’t know why you would celebrate that really,” I commented. This drew out a small smile from him and his shoulders slackened a little much to my relief. I really did not want to have a conversation with a nervous Jin. It was not a good thing.
Stretching my neck, I gazed upwards at the sky. “Look up,” I ordered quietly.
Jin followed my gaze and together, we saw the starlit sky. That was not normally so but on special nights and during special weather, the sky in the city was just as vivid as the one in the countryside. And I had learned, from much wanderings and studies, that this park was the only one in the entire city that received this great privilege.
“I never realized how bright the sky was tonight,” Jin commented wonderingly.
I smiled and turned to him seriously. “There’s my answer,” I replied.
He looked at me with some surprise before giving me a strange look. “Why did ignore me after that?” he inquired slowly, as if testing to see if my patience would run out.
This time, though, I was more than willing to explain myself. “It was always one of those things that I kept to myself,” I began as I started walking again. “I discovered this park quite a few years ago…after Baek died in fact. I wasn’t all that familiar with Japan yet and I had stumbled into this park during the wintertime,” I paused before laughing lightly. “It was actually in December, too. I remembered feeling lost and alone and suddenly when I looked at the sky, I saw the stars. They were the same ones that I used to look upon back home in South Korea. Suddenly I didn’t feel so alone anymore now that I had found something familiar to me.”
Turning around again, I faced Jin, who stared back at me. “From then on I came to this park whenever I felt the slightest bit homesick or nostalgic. During the other seasons, you can’t see the stars all too well but in the winter, they stand out like diamonds. That’s why I came here so much during this month,” I concluded, smiling slightly when I remembered the first time I had brought Jin here and the pictures I had taken.
There was a long silence as we both just stood still in our places.
I closed my eyes for a moment and thought to myself. This was the first time I ever shared something this personal with anyone. Even Steve didn’t the full story behind the park’s significance to me. I opened my eyes and smiled amusedly. Just as Steve and Jin were good at hiding their feelings, I was good at shielding my past and things that I held dear to my heart. And yet again, Steve and Jin both were completely fine with revealing their pasts and loves while I displayed my emotions like a raging fire. How ironic.
“That’s good you have a place to remind you of home,” Jin suddenly remarked.
Smirking slightly, I turned to him. “I’m so sorry, Jin! I hope I didn’t make you think of your home,” I exclaimed, shooting him a sweet look.
Jin blinked at me and for a second I spotted a flash of anger before it was quickly erased. I frowned inwardly. Not this again… I walked up to him and placed my hands on his shoulders, shaking him. “Hey, no more hiding! Remember when you’re with me you can’t do that,” I reprimanded.
He stared at me for a moment before shrugging off my grip. “I know. I was just…” he murmured before drifting off.
Okay, now I was getting a little ticked off again. “Kazama,” I warned. He looked at me suddenly and shook his head, walking off speedily.
“It’s nothing, all right? Can’t we just drop this for once?”
I watched his back in shock. Part of me wanted to contemplate on this sudden mood swing but then another, stronger part of me wanted to chase after him and not let it drop. So naturally I followed the latter. “Jin!” I exclaimed in the most authoritative tone I could gather. It worked. He stopped in his tracks and remained still.
I walked over to him and remind closely behind him. “Do you miss your home?” I asked, reverting to our old topic before he had run off.
“Yes,” came the barely audible reply.
Pondering this new aspect, I considered my world carefully. “You used to live up in the mountains, no?”
This time he just nodded and I tilted my head to the side. “So coming here to Tokyo must have been scary for you as well,” I deduced quietly. I would never be this patient normally. But for some odd reason I felt like I had to when I was with Jin. It was as if I was afraid that if I acted like my rash and demanding self, I would scare him off and that was not what I wanted.
“It was like you. I came here very soon after my mother died but I still feel like an alien in this city to this day,” Jin stated remorsefully. He turned to me. “My mother isn’t really buried here. What’s in that grave is just a casket full of pictures and some of her old belongings. It was the only thing I could look back on. I haven’t visited her real grave in years.”
I arched an eyebrow at him. “Why not?”
He looked at me sadly, eyes glistening in the soft light emitted by the lampposts. “I didn’t want to be reminded,” he answered.
I narrowed my eyes. “No wonder you’re always so uptight,” I commented, placing one hand on Jin’s shoulder. “I believe you should go back at visit that grave. I think that is keeping you from moving on. All these painful memories and experiences came from your home. You need to go back and face those fears. Only then can you let go of everything,” I added, looking solemnly in his eyes.
Jin just looked back at me and shut his eyes tightly. “I’ve tried, Hwoarang. I’m not that strong. I can’t do it,” he muttered.
The despair was evident in his voice. I could see how deeply this affected him. The sight of him in so much pain was more than I could bear. I just wanted him to feel that I was there and that he was not alone. So, yeah, I kissed him. Maybe that was a little too much on my behalf, but I honestly felt it was the only way to get my feelings across to him and give him some kind of…hope.
It was sweet and short and when I pulled back, I could see the surprise in Jin’s eyes. I only smiled at him.
“What do you think I’m here for then?”
Gah, I’m so sorry for the delay. I had to take a break from this story for awhile. Mind you, with all the schoolwork that my teachers dumped on me, I really haven’t had much time to write. I hope this somewhat long chapter makes up for it. I hope you all forgive me! ^.^ And don’t be expecting an update for a while…I got some State tests coming up real soon and…oooh…I don’t even want to talk about it! I promise I’ll put up the next chapter as soon as I write it up and…uh…please be patient? ^^;;
Hoped you liked the kiss—I figured it was time for Hwoarang to turn things up a notch! ^.~ Apologies for the Jin angst as well—it just sort of placed itself in there, you know? ^^
Happy New Year to everyone! Hope you guys have safe and fun time! ^__^
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