The Quality of the Sword (is Determined by the Wielder of the Flame)

Chapter Six - Molding Molten Metal

By M. Mishima

Jin rested on his side, one leg thrown over to a nearly fetal position to alleviate the pressure to his backside. His breath was slow to return to normal. The agony had subsided but the sudden emptiness he felt with Hwoarang no longer united to him was itself, an agony. Never had he felt such intense sensations, never did he believe they could exist.

The Blood Talon sat upright, deadly legs dripping over the bed, running his fingers through his sweat dampened coppery tendrils. He flicked the ashes of his cigarette into his palm. Jin had not objected to his need for a cigarette to consummate the end of an incredible evening. The weight of it all was washing over Hwoarang, breaking like waves on a receding wall. Jin was his. In this moment, Kazama Jin belonged to the Blood Talon.

Hwoarang settled the ashes and the burnt out end of his cigarette in the candle, burning beside the bed. Turning to face Jin, the Blood Talon smiled with charismatic perfection. "How are you feeling, Jin-kun?" He meant to ask about the black tattoo on Jins upper arm. It hadn’t been there before, not that the Blood Talon noticed,. Gramps wouldn’t go for that tattoo either, wonder what its all about.

Jin purred, obsidian tendrils slipping against his flushed cheek as he braced the pillow against his neck. "I I could fly." The smile across his lips was almost intoxicated and tempered with equal exhaustion. "How do you feel?"

"Like I have been waiting a lifetime for this, baby." Hwoarang purred, his hand sliding down Jins exposed back to the firm, still twitching muscles of his posterior. "God damn, I never thought you could feel this good."

Jin flushed with a soft moan. The twitch of his backside intensified where Hwoarang touched him, sore in a way he had never felt before. The Blood Talon knew the feeling, though for himself it had been a long time since it was on his end. Rather, he had worked many lovers through the ache, but never with this much care. "You will feel better in a day or so. You have been using a part of your body in a way..your not used to. It wont hurt as much the next time though. I think you might have liked that pain just a little too much." He chided with a dark, sensual smile.

Jin blushed, his eyes closing at the intense scrutiny of the Blood Talons amber gaze. He liked the idea that there would be a next time. "Yeah..I did."

Hwoarang let his fingers drip down Jins aching cleft, feeling his lover tense heatedly. "Don’t worry baby, the more you need the more I can give you. Everything you need, I will give to you."

Jin moaned, licking his dry lips. Hwoarang rose from the bed, his body stained in glistening, dried essence. With grace, he gathered his long forgotten clothing, sliding tight fitting jeans over his long legs till they rested over his hips. He slid his shirt on, brushing fingertips through his wild coppery tendrils. "I should get outta here before Gramps comes home." He said with a smile, rising to button his jeans, pocketing the cigarette butt, not wanting to leave evidence behind, more than just his lovers broken virginity.

Jin leaned up with a wince of pain. "I don’t want you to leave, Hwoa-kun…"

Hwoarang smiled, kneeling on the bed to claim Jins heated mouth. He could have ravaged his beauty all night long, but he knew Jin could not continue even if he wanted to, he needed time to adjust, to rest and regain strength and ease his newly enlivened core.

Jin moaned as he felt Hwoarangs mouth withdraw slowly. He didn’t like this. He wanted his lover to stay the night with him, if only to remind him the night had happened, his innocence had been so willingly, perfectly surrendered. That he was Hwoarangs as much as the Blood Talon was his.

Hwoarang licked his lips, enjoying Jins taste. "Listen, I set up a place on the East Shinjuku district, not far from the Maru-ichi. If things get too busted here, come and find me."

Jin nodded softly, his cheek resting against his upper arm. He did not want the Blood Talon to leave his side. "Tomorrow…Oujisan is letting me go to the Library…the one across from Mishima Tech. I have to get some material together if I want to get next semester secured at that College…"

"Don’t you already have an easy in, yanno, as a Mishima?" Hwoarang laughed, sliding his spurred boots on.

"I am not a Mishima. Even if it is half of my blood." Jin said with a start, wincing slightly as he forced his body to relax. "I am going to be there tomorrow, most of the afternoon."

"I will see what I can do to sneak in there." Hwoarang smile, folding his jeans down over the leather of his boots. "Get some rest, Jin-kun…"

The Blood Talon went to the balcony, killing the lights with a flick of the switch. He opened the double doors and paused, taking a last look back at his lover, sprawled across the bed, naked except for the moon glow on his skin. And with that, the Blood Talon leapt over the balcony railing and out onto the Mishima Estate, aimed for his bike, some distance away.

Hwoarang returned to his squatters paradise, his body eager for rest. With his bike secured firmly in the entranceway, the Blood Talon back kicked the door closed, hearing the familiar click of the lock before securing a bolt to the worn down wood. From the innards of the decrepit building, he could hear Saatchi and Han, carrying on, the sound of female voices as an underscore of accompaniment. Hwoarang shook his head and slowly walked toward the place the three had decided would be the "main room".

Han was the first to look up from his distractions. "Hwoarang…" he smiled, pleased to see his friend some hours later than previous expected. But he knew better than to question the Blood Talon. He was sure there was money..or personal business that Hwoarang had seen fit to attend to. "…bout time your back. Hope you don’t mind the company. You want her?" Han smiled thickly, his mouth leaving the chest of the Japanese female he had pinned beneath him, offering to share the treasure with the street captain.

Saatchi looked up, panting softly as the female above him kept him otherwise, occupied. "Welcome home…" The Blood Talon looked to be in a significantly better mood than before.

Hwoarang laughed, shaking his head. He moved deeper into the room, retrieving a plastic cup, tapping the keg with precision. "Not interested in tagging up tonight. You boys have fun." He said in his native language, taking a quick pull of the foaming libation, wiping his mouth clean. "I need a shower, Han, flip the breaker downstairs so I have some hot water. It will kick off by the time I am done." Hot water was a luxury and it lasted as long as the breaker would hold before giving out again.

Han nodded and rose from his prey with a smile. Since when did Hwoarang turn down a good screw?

The Blood Talon turned without another word and climbed the barely structurally sound stairs to the floor he had claimed as his own.

Hwoarang set his drink down, disrobing for his shower, the scent of Jin still lingering over his body. He wanted desperately to cling to that scent as he tossed his clothing to the floor beside his new bed. Flicking on the hot water with a quick motion, the Blood Talon could not keep from smiling, now that he was in solitude, waiting for the water to warm and steam through his chambers. This place must have served as more than just a storehouse. Perhaps the building owner had taken up residence here as well?

Placing a few side feint kicks against the suspended sand bag, the Blood Talon moaned softly, once more drinking in the musk Jin had left behind on his most private flesh. He would do what he could to catch up with Jin tomorrow..or rather, later today, at the library. Tournament would be starting up again, soon, it was going to get harder and harder to find a way to see each other.

With a soft sigh, the Blood Talon dropped his deadly kicks and slid toward the steaming shower, the hot water nearly scalding as it rushed down his spine and through his previously sweat soaked mane. He wanted Jin to be here with him, to enjoy this simple pleasure. But now was not the time for such delusions of grandeur.

Jin awoke to the sound of knocking at his bedroom door. Half slit eyes, still clouded with sleep, the Japanese youth ran his fingers through his hair. "I am not yet done sleeping." He growled, groggily, his body aching and no longer sore, thanks to the careful positioning he had set himself in through the night. The reminder of that ache sent a smile across his lips, even as Jin laid his head down on the cradled pillow once more.

"Jin." Heihachis voice barked through the wood. "Open this door. I will have no locks between my grandson and I."

Jin shuddered hearing his grandfathers voice. There was no pleasant tenor in it any longer, no praise or mindful words. Shaking off the sleep, Jin rose from the bed, kicking over the shed clothing from last night and retrieving his black silk robe from the edge of the four post bed. He waddled toward the door, opening it with a yawn.

He was met with a sweeping kick that dropped him directly on his backside. Heihachi stood over the boy, hands on his hips. For an older gentleman, his abilities had not diminished. The Elder Mishima was still as dangerous now as he must have been 40 years ago.

Jin groaned in pain, pressing his back against the wall. His eyes were alert now, his mind preparing a defensive plan to counterstrike if necessary. Jin did not want to have to do that, it would only cause more trouble than it would solve. "Oujisan!"

"You missed your training this morning. You are not to miss your training at any point. There is no excuse for it!" The Elder Mishima hissed. He sniffed the air and looked to Jin, still on the ground with an angry glare. "Have you been smoking in here, Jin?"

Jins eyes went wide. "No, no grandfather. I had candles lit last evening during my meditation. Some are new, scented. I would not poison my body with such horrid chemicals!"

Heihachi crossed both hands over his still massive chest. Jin had never been so absent of mind before, nor given his grandfather reason to doubt his word. But that was all before his disappearance. Before Hwoarang had joined forces with his grandson. The self named Blood Talon would have his coming too him, in none to short of a time. "Get yourself up and dressed. Your acceptance paper for Mishima Polytech needs work done on it today. You will not disgrace that as you have your training. This evening, when I return home, you will meet me in the dojo and be prepared for an intensive reeducation. Is this understood, Jin?"

Jin nodded, using the wall to brace himself upward to a stand. Thankful for the cool support to his body, after his evening with Hwoarang. Something that seemed would become few and far between now that the tournament was once more preparing to recommence.

Heihachi turned, walking away, closing the door behind him. He would have the locks to Jins rooms removed this afternoon. This disgrace would not happen again.

Jin stretched his body slowly, walking toward the closed balcony doors, pressing the heavy velvet drapery back to reveal the brilliant sunlight of a new day. He had been too exhausted the night before to open the curtains to taste the mornings first light and his body, normally trained on rising early was in heavy protest of such after the evening he had spent. Jin realized, with silent awe as he looked out along the Estate, this was the first time in several days he had not had nightmares…this was the first time in several days he had slept soundly, awoken with an inner smile…filled to the brim as he was with his Korean beauty.

Did the sun truly shine brighter now that his body had received the lustful attention of his fiery lover? Was this the sensation that ran beneath the skin, stirred the very heat of his body…to have given his virginal stature and set it out to pasture? Was this what it was to be embraced by the sins of the flesh? To whatever end those questions could have taken, Jin felt like a new man. He felt worldly, awake…eager to find Hwoarang and taste the heat and beauty of his lovers skin. The moon had been all the brighter the moment it silhouetted his Korean beauty..and now the sun was even more brilliant than Jin could remember, now that he had been made…Hwoarangs. The trepidation was nearly gone for Jin. The fears that made him nearly reconsider seeing the Blood Talon again had almost dissipated. If this was his path, to find attraction and pleasure in the arms of another male, then he would not fight it…but would not, exactly, scream this new found intoxication from the rooftops of Tokyo either. He could not afford that chance to his reputation or the Blood Talons. Their secret would be forced to remain…just that.

Hwoarang awoke with the filtered ribbons of sunlight streaming through the plastic covered, cracked windows from the sidewall of the room. The air was staunch with the build up of heat from the orbs rays and it released a plume of dust and spores from the old, decrepit building.

Running his fingers through his wild coppery mane, the Blood Talon rose with a stiff yawn and slow stretch of his body before falling resoundingly back against the bed. It was clear after 10am, he could feel it in his bones. This was the earliest Hwoarang ever rose on a day he was not scheduled to train or fight. But Jin was heavy in his thoughts and the Blood Talon smiled when he realized by this time, the Japanese beauty would already be at the library, studying like the diligent student he knew Jin had to be.

The Blood Talon had never completed school. He ducked out in the tenth grade to devote his time to making money, to hustling and training under Baek DoSans tutelage. When his former Master had learned of this, Baek had begun schooling the boy in impromptu lesson plans, hell bent that someday Hwoarang would manage to complete High School, go to college on a scholarship using Martial Arts as his qualification for it…and perhaps learn there were other ways to make money than to sell blood and bruise the body in the streets. Hwoarang wanted to live up to that but DoSans plans were too high for him to reach in a place like Korea.

With the prize money he would win from the Tournament, he could get that diploma, maybe pursue his degree in something, maybe Business…maybe open his own Dojang and teach Tae Kwon Do to the traditional Japanese. He would be near Jin that way. He wouldn’t have to live in a rat hole. He could put his street soldiers to work, real honest money, maybe even start something for the kids back in Korea, some kind of program to get them turned around before they were too old to realize they couldn’t do any better than hustling, selling drugs or prostitution. He could do a good deal with that kind of money. The Blood Talon could make a home for himself with nice things..a place Jin would want to be and maybe not want to leave.

The Korean youth rubbed his eyes, forcing himself to sit up again, long lithe legs dripping over the bed which was positioned on the floor, no frame. He was daydreaming but he liked the way this one worked out. He liked the way it felt to think of Jin staying around in his life.

Hwoarang grasped his guitar from the side of the bed, knocking over a shitload of magazines and some clippings he had taken, now yellowed and frayed. Some of those saved newsprints were of Baek Do San and his local competitions, some of the Blood Talon from his younger days with his martial art that had made news. Do San and Korea expected things out of him. Do San and his homeland said he had potential. What his homeland did not give him was security and the promise of a better life. And Do San was rumored dead. That was more than likely. The Blood Talon wanted to live out these pipe dreams, do something real good for his community. Catch was, he had to take the tournament first.

But before all of that, he had to see Jin.

Hwoarang strummed the hard strings, leaving the guitar unplugged as he stared blankly at the way the magazines had fallen over, the clippings taking on a brilliant life beneath rays of filthy sunlight. Someday, he would have real windows, floor to ceiling windows that brought in true light…not just the reflected rays through worn down plastic covering broken and cracked panes.

Jin Kazama set down his jacket, letting the black long coat slide over the arm of the library chair. He opened his notebook, drawing the pencil up to rest behind his ear. Rolling up his sleeves, the Japanese youth prepared himself to look for the books he would need to resource for his thesis paper on "Pollution: Animal Endangerment and the risk to Society at Large." He picked this topic based on the teachings of his mother and the love instilled in him of all things that breath and grow. Nature was where he felt most comfortable, wilderness was where he felt free and alive. His intentions to study environmental conservation through science and technology would not be wasted. He would make Kazama Jun proud.

Jin once more rolled up the sleeves of his sweater, a heavy Irish cable knit that already felt too warm in the days growing light. He did not realize how mild it would be once the earth heated to perfection. But he would be forced to make due, for the time being.

The Japanese youth worked his way across the various shelves, grasping books by the spine and reverently flipping to the index to see if it was what he needed. Before long, he had a stack in his arms and returned to the table where he could begin outlining and rewriting tidbits with full footnotes and connotations in his notebook. Two hours flew by like a whirlwind as Jin returned the books he had noted from and sought a few more. A side stack were ready to be checked out, ones he found the most useful information contained within.

Jin returned to the table, three heavy tomes held against his hip…and he smiled instantly.

Hwoarang was seated at his table, spurred boots crossed at the ankles atop the wood, denim jacket thrown over haphazardly. The Blood Talon looked simply perfect in his form fitting jeans and deep green chaps, a flattering tight leather vest of black and orange clinging to his lithe chest. Jin could read the depth of every muscle in the Blood Talons arms and drank in the vision down to Hwoarangs fingerless gloves. He was a sculpture of perfection and complete intoxication.

"Well, well, Kazama. Hitting the books hard, eh?" Hwoarang smiled, chewing errantly on the wooden pick held firmly against his back teeth. "Figured you’d be pretty spent after last night." The dripping innuendo in his voice making Jin shiver subtly beneath his cream colored sweater.

Jin licked his lips softly, averting his eyes as his cheeks flushed. "I’m getting a late start but making some progress."

Hwoarang leaned forward, picking up a heavy tome to inspect the binding. "’Environmental Conservation through Technological Advances.’ With a title like that, I’m feeling pretty pumped." he smiled, flipping open the book to scan the index. The Blood Talon did not give away his difficulty with the English language these books were written in. He could make due with what Do San taught him but he preferred to glance at his native language rather than crude and confusing English texts. "So, is this what your planning to do after college?"

Jin laughed softly, drawing himself to a seat. He opened the first of the three books he carried, but his eyes were on Hwoarang. "I would like to, yes. There are a lot of things I want to do. Its in my power to try to make the world a better place, help it live in harmony with its own past and in balance with all the other life on this planet."

Hwoarang smiled, despite himself. Goody-Goody shit. How did I know Kazama would be a tree hugger? The quip was on the tip of his tongue. It was old habit, custom to banter down Jins ideals. His lover was a contradiction sometimes. A pacifist who fights. Didn’t Gandhi just starve or something, when he wanted his way? "Well, when you got some of gramps money behind you, why not do something good with it?"

Jin shook his head. "I don’t want Zaibatsu grant money for this. I have a little money tied up in stocks and bonds. My mother had told me that before my father died, he had secured some things for us both. I want to do this on my own, away from Oujisan. My mother, I believe, would have wanted me to stand on my own two feet."

Hwoarang tossed the book down and leaned back in the chair, a half smile draped over his lips. "Mommas boy." He purred. Somehow, the statement was less effective when he purred.

Jin smiled more brilliantly, watching the Blood Talon through the raven strands of hair that fell before his eyes. Hwoarangs voice was too warm to take the quip the way Jin was sure it was intended. "I am almost done here, do you want to grab some lunch or something?"

The Blood Talon gave a side smile, lowering his voice to the soothing soft tone Jin had come to find was a fast growing addiction. "Yeah, but only if you let me buy. You got your bike with you?"

Jin flipped open to the page his finger had been keeping in the spine. "No, I was dropped off. I am free and clear till 6p, then, I have to train."

"Good, you get to ride my bitch seat." Hwoarang licked his lips softly. He was, of course, referring to his bike, and the room left on the back of his old Harley for another passenger. It was referred to as the ‘bitch seat’ since men often bought the cycles and their chicks often rode behind them.

Jin tapped his pencil against his notebook, a shiver flushing through his skin. He didn’t have to say anything, did not have to speak aloud the memories from last night. Hwoarang could read it in his eyes and the subtle quiver beneath his clothing. Jin knew that, without hesitation.

Jin checked out his books as Hwoarang tied the denim jacket to his hips. The Blood Talon tried to look nonchalant, cool as he could in a public library. Jin walked beside him to where he parked his bike, the meter nearly ticked out. They caught it just in time.

Hwoarang secured the books, bound together in a leather strap, to the back of his bike as Jin slid on his long, heavy black jacket. The Blood Talon straddled his bike, the chrome gleaming in the sharp sunlight. Jin was not far behind, though he tried to keep his identity more secretive, afraid the Library might be watched by Heihachis men…his own personal babysitters. Kazamas hands held loosely to the Blood Talons hips, his cheeks flushing with heat of contact, even if clothing had been a barrier in that moment.

"Where are we going?" Jin asked, leaning his chest against Hwoarangs supple spine, feverish and desperate for the contact.

The Blood Talon looked over his shoulder, meeting his lovers eyes, their lips so close. Hwoarang was aching to suckle the juice from Jins ripe mouth. "I have the perfect place, baby." He smiled, his voice low to prevent anyone but his former rival from hearing it.

Jin shivered as the Blood Talon leapt upward suddenly, kick starting the engine with a loud bang, feeling the thrum between his thighs as the machine roared to life. "Hold on."

Instinctively, Jin tightened hold on the Korean beautys’ hips. It was a good thing, Hwoarang weaved in and out of traffic at a heart wrenching pace, making sure they couldn’t be followed..they couldn’t be identified in a whirl of speed and chrome. No one was going to take Jin away from him, this afternoon.

Hwoarang looked over at Jin as he tried desperately to read the Korean menu. Although Jin had learned the basics of the language, he could not read the Hangul lettering, so much more blocky than the Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana or romanji. His eyes squinted as he tried to make sense of what was before him, but Jin was filing miserably.

"Let me do the honors." Hwoarang smiled, his menu already settled. He had chosen this small, authentic Korean eatery, not too far from the East Shinjuku district he now called home. The Blood Talon wanted to give his lover a taste of his culture, having learned so much of the Japanese during his stay here. Hwoarang was a fast learner.

Jin closed the menu with a smile. The atmosphere was not lost on Jin, nor the reason Hwoarang had chosen this place. He was sharing just a piece of his enigmatic self with his lover and despite the fears Jin felt clenching his gut on some of the horrors of Korean cuisine, he would gladly partake of it if it taught him something about the Blood Talon. "Just remember…"

"Yeah, I know. You don’t eat meat." The Blood Talon smiled, raising his hand and tapping his fingers inward in a ‘come hither’ way to let the server know they were ready to order.

Jin smiled and let his Korean beauty do the ordering, sipping thoughtfully on his water, listening to every inflection of the Blood Talons native dialect. It did not take long and the server left them, alone at last.

"Did you get a tattoo or something?" Hwoarang asked as Jin chewed errantly on the ice cube in his mouth. "You have this weird mark on your arm, don’t remember that from our matches."

Jin paled ever so slightly and sat in silence for several moments. He was not sure he was ready to explain something he, himself did not understand. How do you tell someone the voices in your head warned you of the coming mark? How do you tell someone you hear voices to begin with? "It’s a long story…but you could say that it is a tattoo…its recent, a few days old."

The Japanese was holding back something. Keeping it locked away beneath Hwoarangs amber gaze. Hwoarang was not sure why Jin would need to keep this secretive but it must have been significant. The silence bothered Hwoarang. Silence always bothered him. He was too fiery, too active to remain quiet for long.

"So, where in Korea are you from? Seoul?" Jin asked with a flustered smile, changing the subject. The Blood Talon let it fly for now, he would get back to this line of questioning later. He didn’t want Jin uncomfortable, not when their time was so short.

"The Cholla region of Korea, a northern province of Ch'ungch'ong, some distance from Seoul." Hwoarang said, taking up his glass of water as well. It was known for being an underdeveloped, rural community, its mainstay being agricultural and kept with the low reputation for its hothead, aggressive people. Why wouldn’t his fellow kin be aggressive? They had to fight like dogs for every scrap of food, every shred of dignity. But Hwoarang didn’t stay around there too long. Not much money to be made in a small village like that, not much farming to be done in Pusan either, unless you were knee deep in rice paddies. The money was made in the more northern territories where Koreans thought they were something special, something elite.

Jin tried to recall the map of Korea, tried to recall the history of its people. He wanted to know, needed to know where the Blood Talon called home. "I am not familiar with it, I am sorry."

"Even people who are will not admit they know about us. Its not the best place to call home. But its home, anyways." Hwoarang said with a prideful, arrogant smile. "We aren’t all born with a Japanese silver chopstick between the lips."

Jin flinched slightly, distracting himself with his half empty glass of water. "Do you miss home?"

"I am calling Japanese soil home, these days. I intend to stick around, even after I win this tournament." Hwoarang said in normal, brazen fashion. Not just because I want a better life..but because of you, Jin-kun.

Jin smiled softly. "I like that idea…" The Japanese youth cleared his throat, his words and thoughts interrupted as the server returned, quite quickly with plates of food.

Kazama settled his napkin against his leg, showing proper elitist mannerisms that were foreign to the Blood Talon. He waited until the server left as the scent of the plates before him overcame him to ask the burning questions. "What is this?"

The Blood Talon smiled, lifting up the chopsticks as he gazed hungrily to his own plate. "Let me see if I can try and explain this. Alright, what you have in front of you is Jjol-myeon…the thick noodles are mixed with a hot pepper paste and the fresh carrots and bean sprouts. Now, the one to the right, that is Baechu Kimchi, a classic dish. Its spoiled cabbage, soaked in Brine, red pepper, garlic and sponge seaweed. You can get by on Kimchi for a year and never grow tired of it." Hwoarang sounded quite prideful as he explained the contents of the two dishes before Jin.

"Spoiled cabbage?" Jin asked, poking the split soup style side dish with a wary eye.

"I shouldn’t have told you till you were done. Trust me, its good stuff." Hwoarang smiled. He had ordered the same style Kimchi as Jin, giving the Japanese beauty some connection. "They are both pretty spicy, sure that mouth of yours can handle it?"

Jin shuddered at the thought of spoiled cabbage, still. "Well, my palate will sure try." He smiled. This was not about him, it was about getting in touch with his Korean lovers culture. "What do you have? That’s the Kimchi, right?"

Hwoarang speared a piece of fish. "Nakji Bokkeum. Stir fried octopus with red and black peppers. Damn can this stuff clean you out, don’t think the fires of hell can even compare." He smiled, popping a piece into his mouth, savoring the taste. A little slice of home.

Jin tried to swallow his taste buds, not sure what in the hell he was going to do, if this taste did not sit well with him. As if answering a dare from Hwoarangs eyes, Jin lifted a taste of the Jjol-myeon, chewing with extreme caution. To his surprise, it was good. Spicy. But that was never something that averted Jin. He had a love of feisty foods. And feisty Koreans.

Pleased with the first endeavor, Jin took a slow sip of water to clear his mouth of the burning taste of the noodles. Settling down his chopsticks on a piece of the cabbage, the Japanese youth tentatively brought the interesting food to his lips and slowly, carefully chewed. The flavor was heady, thick and overcoming all other tastes. Jin had expected it to be worse than it was, had expected it to taste of spoil and horror…but he was also pleasantly surprised to find it was rich with spice. He had to admit he liked it at the first taste.

"Well?" Hwoarang asked, awaiting Jin to pass verdict as he paused in his own meal. "It cant be that bad, I mean I didn’t order you dog soup."

Jin smiled. "They don’t really make soup out of dogs in Korea, do they?"

Hwoarang shook his head. "Aren’t you supposed to know this stuff, pretty cultured rich boy and all?" How many slights could he fit in one sentence?

Kazama shook his head. "Hwoa-kun…its delicious, thank you."

The Blood Talon could have melted into his meal at the soft, almost loving look in Jins eyes. He felt a flush come to his features, this was new to him. Sharing his life, his culture…his meal with a former rival turned lover…turned boyfriend? "Yeah, there is still dog soup in Korea, mostly for the older folks and stuff. When you have nothing to eat, Lassie starts looking pretty good."

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