Jin Kazama did not wake in his room. Rather than the opulence he had become accustomed to over the past few years, he opened his eyes to a damp brick wall, a collection of litter having gathered alongside it, and his own arm as a pillow. Blinking a few times, just to be sure he was seeing correctly, he sat up. And automatically wished he hadn't. The stinging in his head was tremendous, and a patch of sticky blood in his hair, already dried and flaking, covered a large cut. Had he fallen from somewhere? Squinting his eyes against the bright, early morning sun, he peered around him.
It was too quiet to be the middle of the city, but far too scruffy to be anywhere near Heihachi's home. What was even more disturbing, was that he hadn't a clue how he had come to be here. Getting unsteadily to his feet, he winced as something sharp jabbed him in the toe. Broken glass. He was bare foot? This was getting more ridiculous all the time. He didn't fail to notice that he was also missing a shirt. Self-conscious, he crossed his arms over his chest, rubbing at his arms and headed in the direction he could hear traffic, hoping that once he was out of the alley, he would recognise something to help him gain his bearings.
As fate would have it, there was nothing even vaguely familiar. This was a place he would have avoided at all costs, shop windows broken, neon signs missing letters, and some of the shadiest characters he had ever seen lurking in nearby doorways. He ignored the challenging looks he was receiving, suspicion and curiosity evident on every face he passed. He just needed to reach a phone booth. If he could just get call his Minder, they'd come and pick him up wherever he was. With a sigh of relief, he spotted one ahead, and quickened his pace, slipping inside and automatically lifting the receiver to his ear.
A grim smile curled at his lips, but there was no real amusement behind it. The line was dead. Just his luck. He was tempted to batter the already wrecked booth with his bare fists, so great was his annoyance, but his self- control would not permit it, and silently he turned to leave. A figure stood outside, waiting to get in. He wondered if they'd be as pissed as he was.
"It's not work." He trailed off as he peered down at a familiar face. One he had not expected to see again until the tournament.
"Seems you're not having the best of luck, boy." Wulong said, a smirk contorting his features. "What bush did you crawl out of?"
"What're you doing here?" Jin asked glumly, giving a sigh of disgust. He was in no mood for Lei's wit.
"Trying to get home actually. I've had quite a busy night." The Policeman looked almost sheepish as he peered at Jin from beneath his tangled hair. For the first time, the Japanese youth realised the cop looked in as bad shape as he did. "From the look of you, I'd say you have too."
Jin couldn't help but smirk. Lei never looked neat at the best of times, but today, calling him a mess would have been an understatement. His nose was bloody, one eye black, and he had the loveliest collection of bruises visible beneath his torn shirt.
"Don't you have a radio?" Jin asked, ignoring Lei's statement. In response, he pulled out its semi-crushed remains.
"They don't design them to take the kind of battering this one got."
"And here I was beginning to think you cops might be some use afterall." Jin couldn't help but grin as Lei's expression dropped sharply to one of annoyance.
"I should've taken you in yesterday boy. If it weren't for your Grandfather you'd be sitting in a cell with that Korean smartass right now."
"I know, I know." Jin rolled his eyes, but the mention of Hwoarang made him suddenly feel rather strange. He frowned, wondering what was wrong with him, and shook his head a little. "I need to get home." Was all he murmured.
"I'm inclined to agree with you, boy. You don't look too good." Was that a frown of concern he saw on Lei's face? It disappeared too quickly for Jin to tell. "Come on, there's got to be a working phone around here somewhere. Stay with me for the moment, I'll get you home."
Jin followed without speaking a word, letting the Chinese cop wander for blocks until they came across a booth that hadn't been vandalised. Even then, it was difficult for him to persuade a taxi to venture into the neighbourhood they were in. Paying a triple fare was the only way one would agree to meet them. Sat in the back, Jin soon felt himself drifting off to sleep again, and knowing that he was in Lei's presence didn't make him any less inclined to do as he felt. Within moments, he was breathing softly, quite still, curled on his side of the seat.
Lei glanced sideways at him, rolled his eyes, and directed the driver towards the hotel he was residing in during his stay. It was nothing fancy. Lei didn't like to be too high profile, it didn't suit him, and with a quiet chuckle he imagined Jin's disgust when he woke up to find himself in such a place. As the taxi came to a stop, he reached over, nudging him gently to wake him. Jin grunted softly in his sleep, but was so deeply exhausted that even Lei's annoyed bark in his ear did nothing to wake him. Scowling, the cop paid the driver, and climbed out, dragging an unconscious Jin along with him. He cold only imagine the sight they must have made as he staggered along the hotel corridors with the boy slung over his shoulder. Thank God he was only on the first floor.
Struggling the last few feet towards his door, he finally dumped Jin unceremoniously on the floor, leaning against the wall. Surely, he thought, there must be something wrong with him for him to sleep through all this. Getting impatient with his key as it stubbornly refused to turn in the lock, he finally gave it a hard shove with his shoulder, watching it swing inwards and bang into the wall behind it. Rather pleased with himself, he reached down to grab Jin by the wrist, and drag him inside. Not for the first time, he wished he weren't so damn heavy. He was taller than Lei by several inches, and far more bulky. It took some time to haul him onto the bed, and the cop was more than once tempted to kick him until he woke up and got up himself, but he knew Heihachi would be less than pleased.
With the boy finally settled, Lei staggered towards the couch, slumping down with a yawn, arms crossed behind his head, and fell fast asleep, all thoughts of Bryan Fury and the previous nights events forgotten. For the moment at least.
It was several hours later that Jin woke for the second time that day, feeling far more rested, but no less disorientated. For a moment he felt the same panic he had experienced waking up in the alleyway, but it was not long before he remembered Lei tugging him into a taxi. Speaking of whom. Where was Lei?
Jin sat up stiffly, one hand trailing through a disorganised mass of ebon strands, distaste curling his lip at one corner. He needed a shower. Swinging his legs over the side of the bed, he glanced around, looking for his host, but it was the sound of soft snoring that led him to the lounge where the cop was sprawled upon the couch. The room was a mess, empty cans littering the floor, dirty laundry thrown wherever their owner had lazily flung them. Wulong might win awards for bravery and the fight against crime, but his housekeeping should be made an offence.
His steps light, Jin crept past him, and began to gather the litter as quietly as he could. Lei had helped him out, the least he could do was tidy a little for him. Though truthfully, he just couldn't stand to see anywhere as messy as this.
"You'll make a lovely housewife some day." A voice still slurred with sleep croaked from behind him.
Jin rolled his eyes, ignoring the cop's sarcasm.
"If you want to call someone to pick you up, the phone's over there." Lei continued, jerking his thumb behind him and smothering a yawn with his palm. He seemed to consider getting up for a moment, but the thought of shifting from the comfort of his couch was obviously too daunting a task, and he sank back down again with a grunt. Jin couldn't help but smirk. The cop may have been ready to arrest him only yesterday, but he was certainly amusing, and he couldn't help but feel comfortable around him. His laid- back attitude was infectious, and the Japanese boy found himself abandoning the tidying to slump in one of the arm-chairs.
Lei opened one eye, peering at him curiously.
"Not keen to leave? I wouldn't have thought this type of place was up to your standards."
Jin was getting used to his comments, and took them lightly, rather than assuming he was actually attempting to offend him.
"Not really. I'm still tired. Sore. I don't doubt that there'll be a lecture on my return either." He added this latter part with a soft sigh. The lecture would not come from Heihachi himself. The old man was too busy for such things, and left matters concerning Jin to his head of staff.
Lei shifted a little, piling cushions behind his head so that he could watch his guest without having to strain his neck every few seconds. He had been expecting the boy to be arrogant, spoilt, but so far, all his assumptions had been proven incorrect.
"What were you doing last night, if you don't mind me asking." Lei murmured, his voice noticeably more relaxed. Jin could have sworn he heard a note of respect there too. In answer to the question, he shrugged his broad shoulders, feeling a dull ache spread across his back as he did so. "Does that mean you can't remember because you were too stoned, or you don't want to talk about it?"
"I don't remember. But I wasn't stoned, or drunk for that matter." Jin's brow furrowed with deep lines as he strained to remember the events of the previous night, but save for wandering in the garden's of Heihachi's home after their evening meal, he couldn't recall anything. Lei noted his look of consternation, surprised to find he was slightly concerned.
Jin sank further into the lumpy chair, avoiding Lei's gaze, resting his angular jaw in the palm of one hand, elbow propped on his knee. He remembered how odd he had felt at the mention of Hwoarang's name earlier that day, the unexplainable feeling that his excursion had somehow involved the Korean. But surely it was ridiculous to assume he had been with him last night? He hadn't a clue where he lived, and neither of them would have gone in search of the other. His confusion deepened, and he rubbed his brow, trying to ease away the headache which was beginning to impose itself over the pain of the bloody cut on his scalp. How had he ended up with that anyway?
For a moment, he thought he saw Hwoarang, face twisted with anger, looming above him, foot rising to strike. The vision ended as abruptly as it had begun, but it had left him shaken nonetheless. Was this something that had actually happened, or just some image created by his confusion?
"You OK, kid?" Lei's voice was still groggy with sleep, but the concern was genuine. "Maybe we should get you to a doctor. That cut looks nasty."
"No, it's nothing serious. There's a doctor at home, I'll get it checked when I go back." To Lei, he sounded distant, certainly disturbed. He was about to insist he call home, when he heard a faint sound outside the door. Shrewd eyes locked on the handle, and raising one finger to his lips, he warned Jin to be silent. It wasn't long before he too, heard the stealthy movements. Trouble already? Lei didn't mind some excitement, just as long as it didn't encroach on his napping time.
Lei got up quietly, waving at Jin for him to hide, but Jin shook his head resolutely, flattening himself against the wall beside the door. The cop scowled. If Jin were to get himself killed playing the tough guy, Lei would be in serious trouble with his superiors, not to mention Heihachi.
Gun pointed at the doorway from behind the cover of the couch, Lei narrowed one eye, waiting for the intruders to enter, but the first came in from behind him, straight through the window. It seemed the sound of shattering glass was the signal for those lurking behind the door to take action too, for the next moment half a dozen armed men swarmed into the room. Lei, not for the first time was silently grateful for his quick reflexes, and had turned, gun pointed at the invader before he had even landed. The man froze, unsure, as his comrades locked their aims on Lei. The situation was starting to look rather hopeless.
"STOP!" Jin's yell was unexpected, so much so that one of the invaders span to face him, squeezing off a shot that hit his shoulder, sending him spinning to the floor. It was only at this point that Lei realised whom they were facing. It was Heihachi's Special Forces, no doubt having been sent to retrieve the boy after he went missing. He couldn't help but feel sorry for the fool that had panicked and fired at the boy.
Tugging out his badge from beneath his crumpled shirt, attached to a thick cord around his neck, Lei yelled for attention.
"I am Detective Lei Wulong, here on behalf of your boss, Heihachi Mishima, and if I were you I would back the hell off!"
There was a moment of silence, abruptly broken by a grunt of pain from Jin, who was attempting to sit up, clutching at his shoulder. Lei pushed past the soldiers and knelt down beside him, helping him lean against the wall for support, and stripping off his own shirt to wrap around the wound as a makeshift bandage.
One of the soldiers was already using his radio to call for assistance, but from the garbled bits and pieces Lei managed to catch, it didn't sound like an ambulance. Lei glanced down at the boy, bravely holding back his response to the pain. Lei had taken enough bullets in his time to know what it was no easy job.
"Jin, stay still, they're getting help." The cop had been in this situation often enough to know all he could really do was try and keep Jin focused, stop him from slipping into shock. He had already gone sickeningly pale from blood loss. The sudden firm grip of gloved hands on his arms, hauling him away, came as a surprise, and he shook them away angrily. "Get off me you bastards, I'm trying to help him." He growled, dark eyes flashing.
Several of the soldiers were trying to haul Jin to his feet with little success. He wasn't making the job easy for them, brushing them off roughly, and voicing his annoyance loudly. Lei found it somewhat relieving. If he could still yell and fight them off like that, he'd probably be fine.
"Leave him alone, you pulling him about is only going to tear the wound further." Lei snapped at them, and immediately found himself being pulled further away, hands vicelike on his arms. The other soldiers seemed to be resorting to greater force, trying to lift Jin bodily from the floor, but his struggles only increased. It seemed he was determined to stay put. Lei arched a brow, confused. He could understand Jin's dislike of being hauled around, but didn't he want to have a doctor see to the injury?
He was soon answered as one by one, each of the men grappling with him was flung across the room roughly, and Jin was left standing where they had cornered him. Only it was not quite Jin. Lei felt his jaw go slack as he noticed the feral gleam in his eyes, a distinctly orange glow to them, and the bold tattoos which now lined his brow. The first thought that sprang to his mind was simply. "Kazuya."
Jin's father, had been some kind of demon, had he not? He found himself unable to think clearly, trying to remember what had happened at the end of the second Iron Fist tournament so long ago. But Jin was coming towards him now, the blood soaked shirt unwinding from around his shoulder, falling forgotten to the floor. The remaining soldiers who still held Lei released him abruptly, backing off as if to put Lei between them as a shield, but Jin's intentions soon became obvious as he lunged for first one, then the other, tossing them through the shattered window to the street below. Only Lei remained standing, backing slowly, fists raised.
Jin leapt towards him.
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