The crowd stood silent, the cacophony of cheers and shouts having long ago been replaced by stunned awe. The two fighters who stood at the centre of the group, had been battling for well over an hour, and yet it seemed neither would give any ground, or permit the other to gain some advantage which might draw it to a close. The red head, a Korean youth, whose face tended to flaunt an arrogant smirk, no longer danced nimbly upon his toes. It was a waste of energy, and he needed what few reserves he had left to see him through this fight. His opponent was as silent and disturbingly calm as he had been since the start.
Jin was no natural competitor, and quite why he had accepted the challenge presented by the flame-haired thug before him, he couldn't remember. His skin was sticky, and in places he could feel a wetness that was too thick to be sweat. Blood then. Hwoarang was good, but both bore minor injuries that would need tending when this ordeal was finally over.
The Korean was circling slowly, lean body possessing the fluid motion of a stalking feline, sharp eyes focused and alert. He was the smaller of the two when it came to mass, but he possessed a distinct speed advantage, which had momentarily brought a flicker of admiration to his adversary's stoic visage. He approached warily, ready to shift in defence should Jin attempt any sudden offensive, but closing the distance between them nonetheless. His steps brought him within striking range, but still he made no move. Jin's lack of response riled him. He was too confident, self- assured, and it caused a momentary flare of temper in Hwoarang that Jin used to his advantage. The Korean lashed out with his foot, spur-clad heel aimed for Jin's throat, but the grandson of Heihachi Mishima was no longer in the same spot. Inclining his torso backwards slightly, evading the blow simply by putting more distance between them, he waited for Hwoarang's position to leave an opening, and sprang forward with surprising agility for someone of his size.
Jin was no lightweight. He had the kind of build that was impossible to hide, no matter how oversized his garb, and it was with raw power that he forced Hwoarang flat on his back, large hands wrenching his arm upwards into a position that threatened to snap the bone. The Korean snarled, winded from the impact, but no less determined. There were muted, anxious whispers from amongst his followers. He couldn't be defeated in front of them! It would be too humiliating. Summoning all of his strength, he twisted beneath the Japanese youth, dislodging him effectively enough to gain some leverage on his arm and force it back into a more comfortable position. Jin found himself unbalanced, and rather than risk a heavy blow, he released the forearm he clasped, rolling away smoothly to hop back to his bare feet. Soft sighs of relief brought a partial smile to Hwoarang's face. He was a natural showman, and it was with some difficulty that he had been restraining his usual sarcastic remarks to aid his concentration.
He began to circle again, this time however, every slight movement was accompanied by a dull ache around his ribs. He ignored it as best he could, thin strands of bright hair plastering themselves to his damp face.
The gunshot which shattered the silence a moment later caused a mass reaction. Jin and Hwoarang both froze, like rabbits caught in the glare of headlights, but the crowd of hustlers gathered around them backed off with startled exclamations, many of them reaching for concealed weapons. And then abruptly hesitating. Only one man stood before them, not impressively tall or imposing, but there was not one amongst them who had not heard of Lei Wulong, "Super Cop".
He seemed unperturbed by the menacing glances they shot him, and the hissing whispers, too quiet for him to sort into words. He flashed them all a cocky, lop-sided smile, obviously very pleased with himself, and lowered his firearm a little, appearing far too casual.
"I don't even have to search for you assholes anymore, there are so many gangs of idiot adolescents around I can stumble into one of your little shows without even having to search." A derisive snort was added, simply to exaggerate his scorn. It was not well received, but still the glares failed to phase him.
One of the crowd seemed about to snap at him, but instead, he paled, eyes darting from place to place as he realised they were effectively surrounded. Wulong was not alone. From behind the half-crumbled pillars of the building they had chosen to stage the fight, more cops were emerging, guns aimed at the group. They were significantly out-numbered.
Hwoarang murmured softly under his breath. "Shit."
He had not often been caught, but his record was far from being a clean slate, and this little fight might just be enough to put him behind bars. Jin however seemed unbothered, and after a tense moment, had relaxed significantly, powerful arms crossed over his well-developed chest. The Korean mistook it for arrogant confidence, when in fact it was merely boredom. Jin had not mentioned that he was part of the Mishima family. One word from his grandfather would be all that was required to nullify the problem, so great was their standing in this city, in the country, or more or less anywhere.
The police encircling the group moved in, Jin and Hwoarang split off from the rest of them. Lei approached them himself with a slight swagger, a few wayward strands of long black hair having worked their way loose from his ponytail to bother him. He swiped them away with an impatient hand.
"What's a Chinese cop doing on Japanese soil huh?" Hwoarang asked, with an arrogant jerk of his head. Lei arched a brow at the boy's confidence, but chose not to reprimand him for speaking out of turn.
"Well I came all the way out here to meet the famous Grandson of Heihachi Mishima, I'm a big fan you know." His response brought a slight groan from the Japanese boy, and Hwoarang gave him a scathing look.
"You're a Mishima? If I'd known I wouldn't have-!"
"That's enough out of you Hwoarang. Keep that smartass mouth closed for a while." Lei seemed most amused by his reaction, standing with a slight smirk curling the corners of his lips, his arms folded across his broad chest.
"How did you know my-!" Again, Hwoarang found himself interrupted abruptly. He didn't like this cop, he was too clued up for his own good.
"You're signed up for the Iron Fist tournament. With that hair you stand out." Lei glanced upwards at the vibrant, unevenly lengthed mass on the Korean's head. "But down to business." He flashed both boys a devilish grin.
"That won't be necessary." A smooth, carefully controlled voice soon wiped the smirk from Wulong's face. Approaching at a deceptively casual, but speedy march, were three "suits", black designer brand if the cop wasn't mistaken.
"Look's like the cavalry's arrived for you, boy." Lei glanced once more at the approaching men with a look of distaste. Heihachi's men could overrule him with little trouble, so he decided against making a scene. At least he still had the Korean boy to take in.
It was only now that Jin appeared to be uncomfortable. With his Uniform coated liberally in dust and his dark hair in disarray, he looked no different to the gang members the other Officer's were arresting. Now that his minder's had arrived however, his status was made blatantly obvious. Hwoarang mistook his expression to be one of fear. Spineless bastard was afraid he'd get a reprimanding from his Grandfather, but the cause of Jin's discomfort couldn't have been further from the truth. He hated the distinction, being part of the Mishima family. He was never allowed to do anything alone without their involvement. In this fight he had tried to, for once, get by without anyone learning his identity. Thanks to Lei and the men in black swiftly approaching, he was now acutely embarrassed.
"Come along Sir, the limo is waiting for you outside." One of the men said crisply, reaching for his arm. Jin jerked away, head bowed, a scowl contorting his features.
"That's right, run home to your Grandpa, he'll save your sorry ass!" Hwoarang was livid with anger.
"Shut your trap boy!" Lei turned on him angrily, reaching for his handcuffs. He wished for once that he could forget about procedure and simply plant a fist in his mouth.
Jin watched the muscular cop twist the Korean's hands behind his back with little difficulty, cuffing him a little too roughly.
"You can't change the fact that he broke the law." Lei snapped, glancing over his shoulder at the men who were unsuccessfully trying to herd Jin out of the building. "He's as much responsible as this one. I'll be having words with Heihachi at the tournament. I'm sure he didn't request I come to Japan to chase him around!"
"Grandfather invited you?" It was the first time Hwoarang had heard Jin speak since he accepted the challenge to fight. His voice was, as he had imagined it would be, soft, rather intense.
"Damn right he did, and I." Wulong trailed off as his radio crackled with static. Annoyed at the interruption, he snapped at the faceless voice on the other end. "What is it?" His expression changed so rapidly that those around him fell silent, Hwoarang pausing his struggles to listen, Jin standing with his head to one side to try and pick up what the distorted voice was saying. "You're sure it was Fury?" His voice dropped, dangerously quiet. Whatever this was, it was more important to him than hauling two boys to jail. Apparently the voice confirmed that it was indeed "Fury".
"Hwoarang will be coming with me."
Both the Korean and the Chinese cop stared at Jin in disbelief. Hwoarang didn't know whether to thank his lucky stars or turn down his enemy's offer of sanctuary merely to spite him. Lei was beginning to wonder whether the Mishima boy had taken one too many blows to the head. Even the Minders seemed utterly confused.
"I don't have time to argue." Lei growled softly, pinning one boy, then the other with a threatening glare, which promised that this episode was not finished by any means. "Take him. I've got bigger fish to fry." The cuffs were removed with the same unnecessary roughness with which they had been applied. The other Cops already disappearing from the building with their prisoners in tow. Lei sprinted off past them, astoundingly fast for a man of 45 years, Bryan Fury his priority now.
Hwoarang was left standing alone in front of Jin and the suits. He wondered, for a fleeting moment, whether his adversary was going to have them finish him off.
"You should probably come along, even if the cops have left. We can drop you off somewhere where you're not going to get caught again within a few minutes." Jin let his unsettling gaze rest upon the wary Korean. That he was tense, was obvious from every taut muscle in his slender frame.
Hwoarang didn't object, but then again he never thanked Jin either, simply following under the watchful gaze of the Minders. As promised, there was a sleek, black limousine waiting for them when they emerged from the derelict building. Jin climbed in without a word, Hwoarang settling uncomfortably next to him. He wasn't used to the opulent luxury of Jin's lifestyle. He felt claustrophobic, despite the spacious design of the car. Sitting next to a young man whom he had been intent of crushing but a few moments ago, didn't exactly help matters.
After some time of awkward silence, Hwoarang glanced sideways at Jin, who was making a futile attempt to straighten out his tattered, dusty clothes. It almost made him crack a smile, this rich boy covered in filth.
"Time to explain yourself Mishima boy." The Korean said, quietly enough so that their discourse would not be overheard by the suits in front of them.
"My name is Jin Kazama. Not Mishima." Jin's reply was typically soft, lacking the near aggression with which Hwoarang spoke. "And I helped you out because we're not finished."
"Eh?" Hwoarang was obviously confused, and shifted to sit more comfortably, one ankle crossed over the opposite knee.
"I heard Lei mention that you were signed up for the tournament. If you get put behind bars, we'll never finish our fight. The tournament seems like a decent place to continue it, don't you think?"
The Korean had to admit, it made sense, and he gave a grudging grunt of acknowledgement.
"Unless, you don't want to, that is." Jin left the statement hanging. He wasn't sure why he was goading the ill-tempered young man, but he certainly enjoyed his reactions.
"Don't be ridiculous. I won't let you off so easily next time either."
Jin only smirked at this, provoking a threatening glare from the redhead. Hwoarang, watchful as ever, didn't fail to notice, and lunged across the space between them to latch onto Jin's throat. It didn't have the desired effect though, Kazama only reaching delicately for the offending appendage, grasping it tightly enough to be more than uncomfortable.
"Not the wisest place to pick a fight." Jin managed to sound collected despite the hand at his throat, and Hwoarang permitted the Japanese youth to peel his fingers away, one by one. "Now if you'd like to pick somewhere to depart, we'll stop the car and let you out."
"Here will do fine." Hwoarang muttered. "But you'd better be ready next time we meet. I won't hold back just because you're a Mishima."
He turned to open the door as the car crept to a halt, engine purring softly. Before he even had one leg out of the door, he felt a hand clasp his shoulder roughly, jerking him backwards until he was sprawled flat on his back across the seat. Jin peered over him, face as serene as always. save for his eyes, flashing and dark, even in the gloomy interior of the limo.
"I told you, it's Jin Kazama, not Mishima. Don't make me remind you again."
Hwoarang sat up again as soon as the hand was removed, biting back a retort, and then kicking an empty can at the car as it sped away from him. Why did the name Kazama sound familiar? Hooking his thumbs in the waist of his tight fitting pants, he turned and headed for home, deep in thought.
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