Author's Notes: This story takes place after chapter 13 of "Impending Fury". I tweaked some details of Jin's pre-TK4 story when necessary. While this fic contains a few allusions to yaoi, it is a Jin fic, not a yaoi fic, and hopefully will be suitable for all tastes.


Chapter 1

By Aaronica

"Kazama-sama, you're awake?"


A chaos of voices and a swarm of bodies. Jin couldn't think.

"Kazama-sama, please stop struggling. Lay still."


"Don't pull at it, it's an oxygen tube. There; just breathe. Can you remember what happened?"

"Where is he!"

"Who, Kazama-sama?"

"Joon! Where--" Jin growled in frustration when the massive hand of his head bodyguard splayed on his chest and prevented him from sitting up again. The floor was painfully hard behind his head. Past Takeda's face and those of the medics hovering about him, feeling him for wounds and checking his vital signs and giving him IVs, the wooden dojo ceiling swam hynotically.

"Lay still," Takeda again requested calmly. "You were shot with a capsule bullet, they're finding out what chemicals it held."

"Bryan Fury," Jin breathed desperately. "He surprised us-- he knocked Joon out and shot me before I..."

"Kazama-sama, please stay calm. Fury attacked you?"

"Where is Joon? Is he hurt? Please!"

Takeda met Jin's frantic stare with a careful gaze, his mouth hesitantly pursed. But before he could speak, he already saw the fear twisting Jin's features melt into the empty shock of realization. "We didn't find him when we arrived, Kazama-sama, but--"

The dancing colors of the ceiling grew more vibrant, teeming with a heat that poured into Jin's eyes. He ground his teeth and thrashed viciously against the hands that held him. Takeda shouted something, but the words were watery and indistinct. Those colors were growing violent-- flooding into Jin's mind, scalding it with white-hot rage. Jin heard himself scream. Takeda was gone, and the medics and the dojo were gone, crude images consumed and charred to ash by the same furious, burning flames that Jin felt swallowing himself. He screamed again, but now it was a different voice that echoed in his ears.


He felt nothing but steady, agonizing heat; two arid blankets of it that pounded mercilessly his back and pressed searingly against his chest and face. He heard a dry, weak groan, and realized it was his own.

So hot.

Shivering hands sank into the burning earth next to his shoulders, only to feel it crumble away. Jin forced open his eyes, seeing little but undulating patches of brown and blue whose brightness forced him to keep his vision narrowed. His limbs felt leaden, but it hurt to lay still only little less than it did to move. With a hissing breath he pushed his chest from the earth-- cracked, baked clay. The effort made his head swim. He sank shakily down again with a quiet, wounded sound, his torso and face scorched anew, a fresh layer of pain heaped upon the many.

Almost mockingly the sun filled Jin's vision with a painful and constant glare. Defeated, he closed his eyes and waited to die.

"You phone the plumber yet?" Candice asked doubtfully.

"It's a leaky faucet, I can fix it in half a minute."

"Half a minute, mm."

"That's what I said. I'll have it done before din--"

The Jeep lurched to a halt, skidding on the dusty road, and Candice sat back, glaring baffledly at her husband. "What's that about?"

"You see that?" Bill pointed a hairy digit through the dirty windshield and Candice turned her head to follow it. She squinted and leant forward slightly, but by then Bill was already pushing open his door and jumping down from the truck, trotting across the desolate plains. "Christ!" she heard him shout.

Candice opened her door, standing on the ledge by the seat and propping an elbow over the top of the door. "Is he dead?" she hollared back. Bill, staring dumbly, made no reply. She hopped down and followed him towards the body lying motionless and face-down on the sand. From the distance she could see it was a young man, clothed only in tattered white pants.

But once at Bill's side, struggling for air, she murmured something to herself and clutched her chest.

Together they traced with their eyes the pair of wounds on his sun-scorched back; open, swollen, angry crevices in the flesh along either shoulderblade. Trails of dried blood marked his sides and ended in murky, clotted earth.

Candice gripped Bill's arm and whispered, "No flies. Not even any flies on him!"

"That doesn't mean anything," Bill said solemnly. Ignoring her protests he lowered by the man's side, and reached gingerly to feel the back of his neck.

Jin's face twitched and he made a soft sound of pain. Behind him, Bill heard Candice gasp. "Hey..." He squeezed gently, and after a moment felt the muscle tense weakly under his fingers. "Hey, you with us?"

Against Jin's burned skin the hand felt akin to a branding iron. His lips were cracked and dry, and each syllable stung. "Please... Hurts."

"What's he saying?" Candice whispered.

"Dunno, can't make it out." Bill removed his hand, propping his elbow over his knee. "Can you hear me?"

"Can't understand," Jin croaked feebly.

"It's not English," Bill relayed to Candice. Peering back at the man he paused, and then he sighed decisively through his nose. "All right. Just hang on, kid. Candy, drive the Jeep over and--"

"Those wounds on his back!"

"Candy, look at him. He's a jump away from death." He turned and looked at her, her eyes fearful but wavering. "You really thinking we should drive away and leave a kid out here to die?"

For a long moment Candice stared hollowly at Jin. Finally she resigned, and turning without another word she ran back to the truck.

Muddled, foreign, urgent voices. Running footsteps. "Please. Let me die," Jin breathed. Consciousness was already slipping from his hold again, as his mind pulled away from the cries of his body which blended into a deafening roar. "Leave me."

"Shhh, it's okay. We're gonna help you, kid, don't worry. Just sleep, all right? Just sleep."

Jin heard the vague, growing hum of an engine before everything quietly slipped away.

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