Author's Notes: Now I've started this chapter a few million times (slight exaggeration) only to delete the whole thing and keep on starting over again, so if you're reading this, I assume I have finally stuck with something. Hmmm… I wonder if the star of my tale has?
**Disclaimer**: Tekken is owned by Namco and not me. I just manipulate the characters for entertainment purposes.
Chapter 15 - Moral Standing
Four in the morning. Four-thirty seven to be exact. The sky was practically darker than it had been at midnight. A storm was on its way, and it was going to be a bad one. It wasn't foggy, yet the usual florescent glare from the street was barely visible, and failed to make even the slightest dent in the dark bedroom. A slight figure on the bed appeared to be sleeping while another sat on the edge, holding his head in his hands.
Hwoarang stood up for only a moment before turning to lie back down. Storms had a tendency to make him unusually restless among other things. He slid his hand over the bare waist beside him, blindly mapping the soft curves with his fingers. "Did I wake you?"
Julia smiled at him through the darkness, "What makes you think I'm awake."
"Your breathing changed," He replied; his map continuing down to the woman's legs. "We're getting a storm soon. I'm going to go to the dojo down the street. I'll be back in a few hours with a semi-accurate forecast."
"Honey," Julia touched her boyfriend gently on the arm. "You wouldn't let Dev- Zekkai hurt me, would you? He says he wants me dead because of how he thinks I treat you, but that I could handle. When he accuses me of it, it's like he's using those words as substitutes for something else. His voice is full of jealous rage. I think he hates me because we're still together, and the anger of a jealous demon scares me a little more than that of a protective demon."
Hwoarang quirked a brow as he slipped on his jeans. "I'm not so sure Zekkai is the jealous type. If he was, I think it would be a bit more obvious, you know, him being a supposed devil and all."
Julia frowned and sat up, "Ask Kazuya. Zekkai is far too intelligent to show you how jealous he is of the others in your life. As long as he successfully hides it from you, the easier it will be for him to take care of the obstacles he sees. I'm sure Kazuya or even Jin will agree with me. I can't be the only one in his sights."
"OK. I'll talk to him about it. Now I'm going to beat up some random inanimate object. I'll see you in a few hours."
"You can tell me if you're going to see one of them. I want to know."
The Korean laughed and shook his head, "Yes. We conjured a storm to produce a field of static that would cause me to want to get some of the excess energy out by training at 4:30 in the morning. Really, Julia. If I ever do actually plan a secret get-together, I'd like to think I'd come up with a more reasonable time. Now do you mind?"
She sighed and nodded. "I'm sorry."
"So am I."
Hwoarang jumped at the extra voice in the room and turned to see a silhouette of a man perched in the window. At first, the eyes couldn't be seen, leading the couple to believe it was Kazuya, but as the eyes opened they learned they were wrong. The demon stepped off the sill and stood in the centre of the room, watching as the annoyed redhead turned on the lamp beside the bed.
The two men looked at each other, both angry, only one slightly better at concealing it. The woman in the bed held the blanket up to her chin as she glanced around for a piece of clothing within reaching distance. A little help from her boyfriend would have been nice but he was off in his own world full of pride and anger. An oversized robe would have to do. She was sure she saw one under the bed somewhere.
"This is going too far, man," Hwoarang said, "It seems like everywhere I turn, you pop up out of nowhere. It's like your stalking me! The only time I can trust that I'll have some privacy is if I leave Lee and Kazuya alone together. I think maybe you need a life beyond me and Kazuya. Get the fuck out of my home, and don't you go taking this shit out on Jin. This is between you and me. Do you understand?"
Zekkai smiled. "I fear you are growing far too comfortable around me. You're acting as though your words have some power over my actions. By now you should have realized that not only do you like it when I hurt you, but you like rescuing your friends from my grasp. It turns you on every time you watch an evil deed being committed. You're asking me to leave, but I know that inside you're praying that I react angrily."
Silence fell over the room while Hwoarang struggled to come up with something to say. He heard the door slam behind him as Julia took off angrily. It wasn't surprising that she took his lack of response as confirmation of the demon's words. He didn't bother looking back to the door to see if she was really gone. Julia didn't fool around when it came to punishing others with her passive-aggressive means. Instead, he watched the demon, considering chasing after his girlfriend, and eventually deciding it wouldn't be safe to turn his back to Zekkai.
"Your wounds are healing nicely, my beautiful human."
"Quit calling me that," Hwoarang growled, "I'm not yours and I sure as hell hope I'm not beautiful. And no duh my wounds are healing. It's been a fucking week. I may not heal as fast as you, but they can't stay raw forever. Don't you ever again assume that I want you to be angry. It's Kazuya and Julia and Jin that I enjoy setting off. I haven't forgotten what happened last time I made you angry, and I seriously do not want to relive that moment, so get the fuck out or do I have to call out to that Mishima spy patrolling the neighbourhood? I ain't afraid to be a rat when my ass is on the line."
Zekkai furrowed its brow thoughtfully as it stepped closer to the young Korean and ran its hand down the bare chest before it. A smirk crossed its face when Hwoarang winced. "If I cannot call you my beautiful human, what shall I call you? You have yet to tell me your name, and I do not much care for that assumed name of yours."
"Are you jealous?"
"… Perhaps I am. Would you be so surprised that I would be troubled by your many affairs? As if your being with her was not bad enough, but she is starting to succeed at convincing you that your life of masochism and men is disgusting. I haven't seen you in Four days and five nights. I fear I have lost you, and for that I blame her."
"It's not so much the men as it is the Masochism and Demons. It's not normal…" Hwoarang paused and lowered his head. "I like that its disgusting. I was raised with dirt and filth. It's not that my behaviour bothers me. Now I'm going to be real with you for a second, so keep your mouth shut." He looked up at Zekkai with a helpless frown. "There's a reason I'm letting her change a few of my habits, and it's not what you think. After all the things I've done to her, all the lies I told, she still purposely got caught by Heihachi so she could talk to me. I figured that deserved a little more of my time. It was the things that she witnessed in that prison. Even after bearing witness to… that… she's still loyal to me. I have nothing else to give her but obedience in a couple areas."
The demon's face lost all expression and it turned to go. "I see. Goodbye, human."
Hwoarang rolled his eyes and grabbed the demon's arm, "Where do you think your going, prick? I told you to keep your mouth shut, and I'm not finished. You see, this is why I rarely get real with people. They always get upset about something before I can make myself clear. Now, as I was saying, I'm letting her change a couple things about me that aren't all that important. You are not one of those things. The reason I haven't seen you in so long is because I've been working on building up her trust so she'll think I've given up my current lifestyle for her. I would have told you sooner, but I couldn't get away from her. It was easier when my two worlds were separate, and she was a lot easier to deal with. Now as for that whole Masochism shit, I've still gotta make money, so I'll have to settle for the pit fights. Those wounds are easier to explain."
"Why must you act like you are in debt to her? She risked her life because she's in love with the man she still believes you could be. You're walking on eggshells for a woman you don't even love, just because she flattered you by not giving up on making you a man you're not."
"You don't know what she saw."
Zekkai shook his head. "No, I don't know what she saw, but I know what I see. Before me are the ruins of a man that I once thought of as perfection in its purest form. A pathetic wreck of self-pity, desperation, and denial. A fool who was so flattered by a woman's determination that he would ignore everything that he is in order to make her happy." It glared at the door, as if visualizing Julia. "She made her own decision to go in after you. Whether it was you she wanted to leave that place with, or a man that she wishes you were, is her decision and she does not need you to throw her a biscuit."
After a moment of frustrated consideration, Hwoarang sighed and turned away. No angry retorts came to mind. So instead of pressing the issue with empty threats, he sat back down on the edge of the bed and touched the large scab on his chest. It would surely scar, but not nearly as badly as the original inspiration.
"You may not be an ideal candidate to meet a Chang's expectations," The demon continued, with a slightly calmer tone, "but I assure you, Hwoarang, you have excelled at mine. Though I stated earlier that you have become far too comfortable around me, I did not mean it the way I made it sound. I tend to fall in love with you a little more every time you lip off."
"Shut the fuck up," The Korean said, "I never know what to think about you. You always do this! Insult me with some freaky academic shit, and top it off with some even freakier compliment. There's that one little element in all this that has bothered me from the very start. I don't give a flying rat's ass about normality and morals and shit. Fuck, man, my moral standing is lying down! But… I've never believed in immortality. I don't believe in angels or fairies or leprechauns, and here I am, having an affair with a demon. It's unreal. That's what bothers me. How can I be comfortable with something that I can't even bring my self to accept? Hell, this is the equivalent of fucking the boogie man!"
Zekkai smiled a little as it sat down next to the redhead. It also was having a problem believing that it would be won over by a simple mortal. That it would allow this mortal to interfere with most of its plans. How could anything be so complicated and so simple at the same time? But that was exactly what the boy was. There were so many things that could ultimately lead to their downfall if the relationship failed to cease.
The demon remained silent, aware that the young man next to it was not yet finished talking.
Hwoarang hesitated, looking down at his hands. "I just… I need to know more about you. More things that are believable. Like, where did you come from? Were you actually produced by a demon couple that were married or dating, or having a one-night-stand or whatever demons do? Did you have a little devil sister, or an older devil brother? Or… Did some white dude with a long beard snap his fingers and then you just were?"
"I wish I could answer those questions, but I do not know. Perhaps I was born like a mortal would be. It's possible that I once had parents. I fear who ever did bring me into being had left me to fend for myself before I can even remember. It may be merely a side affect to residing in this human body, but judging by my mortal-like thought patterns, and my tend to fail at controlling some of my more intense emotions… I do believe I may have been human once upon a time."
The confession did prove to be a comfort to Hwoarang, yet not quite enough to ease his thoughts. He was satisfied enough to push the matter aside for the time being and concentrate on more important topics.
"So were you really only just angry because you hadn't seen me in four days?"
"Yes." A smirk tainted the creature's lips as it gently rubbed the Korean's back and shoulders. "Now, allow me to express my anger. Lay down, and give me those jeans. They are unnecessary for the time being."
Hwoarang began to retort, "But I was going to go to the…" he trailed off as Zekkai walked across the room to lock the bedroom door. The statement that was nearly completed had to be reconsidered, and rephrased. Thinking about words was slightly unreasonable, therefore it took some time before the Korean had his newly revised sentence. "I guess it couldn't hurt to start my warm up here."
The demon crossed its arms, faking impatience. Finally the jeans were removed, and tossed to the floor. Zekkai grabbed them and took a lighter off the bedside table. It smirked as it lit the pants on fire, and watched the Korean eyes go from what looked like a playful crimson in the dim light to an amazed dark roan red. He coughed in disbelief as his jeans began crumbling to the floor in a pile of ashes, and crispy strands.
"I told you I wanted to burn your clothes," The demon explained slyly.
Hwoarang slipped on his boxers and shook his head. "In that case, these things ain't going anywhere near you." He smiled and obeyed the first command by lying back, spreading himself across the whole bed. "Unless, of course, you come and get them yourself, my beautiful devil."
"I get the feeling you are mocking me."
"It's possible," Hwoarang replied with a shrug, "but there are too many business items on the agenda to be bothered thinking about what the hell I'm doing. I'm a little more interested in what you're doing, if you know what I mean."
Answering the young Korean was done easily as the demon pulled a small knife out of its pocket. It climbed on the bed, straddling the leaner man, eyeing the field of bare flesh with a predator's leer. The blade looked fairly knew, or polished recently.
/You stupid fiend. He is not immortal. These constant injuries could weigh heavily on his life. He could get diseases and infections that could kill him in a matter of weeks, or even days! Put the knife down.
Zekkai rolled its eyes and took its lover's hand in its own. The tip of the blade was gingerly pressed into the Korean's finger, and the blood was sucked away. The knife couldn't possibly be cleaner, so it didn't believe there was anything to worry about. Strangely, the taste of the boy's blood wasn't nearly as sweet as usual. The thick salty taste was contaminated by Kazuya's words, and Zekkai's growing worry. It wasn't often that a mortal problem would successfully get to the demon.
Eventually the worry was caught on to. Hwoarang took his hand away, his brow furrowed with concern. "What's going on, Zekkai? Is Kazuya shooting off his mouth, or whatever he does in that head? What's he saying?" He paused, and when the demon didn't respond, he sat up. "Zekkai. What is it?"
"This is unhealthy," The demon stated, absently, "I'm hurting you."
"What are you talking about? I like being hurt, remember?"
/You foolish devil. Your infatuation has blinded you. Since when has a mortal's well-being been any of your concern? Step aside and allow me to handle this. Before you refuse, let me remind you that unlike you, I am human and have the ability to understand him.
The red eyes faded slowly and hesitantly. In no time at all, Kazuya was in the demon's place, still straddling the young man. The aged Japanese eyes detected anger in the Korean features, but was not bothered by it. So much could be expected for having chased an important figure away into the depths of his subconscious. For the first time, he was able to coax the demon away from the boy and for that he was proud. Though, that angry, cheated look he received was almost enough for him to lose the pride.
Hwoarang shoved Kazuya off of him, and got to his feet. "What the fuck was the big idea, smart ass? There was an actual point to this wasn't there?" He demanded, "If there wasn't I'm going to be royally pissed."
"He's a demon, Hwoa-kun. He is not of flesh and blood. You're going to have to realize that you cannot be with something that isn't human."
"In that case, I can't be with you either, seeing as how he's a part of you. That makes you part demon, or devil or whatever the fuck he is." Hwoarang snapped, growing angrier by the second. "Who the fuck do you think you are to tell me what I can and can't be with? Why does everybody think they're the boss of me? Let me clear something up, Mishima: I answer to no one. Do you understand me?"
Kazuya got up, meeting the boy's glare with an authoritative, unimpressed gaze. "I still am human, despite my devil half."
The Korean managed to avoid faltering. It was hard to handle a Mishima trying to stare him down, but he was able to stand his ground. Logic was running circles in his mind as he tried to sort it out. "So if being possessed by a devil makes you part devil, then wouldn't that mean that Zekkai's possessing you would make him part human?"
"It doesn't work that way," Kazuya sighed, annoyed. "You occupy an apartment, but that doesn't make you part building, does it?"
"No, but it doesn't make the apartment part person, either," Hwoarang responded, stubbornly. "You and Zekkai both are living creatures. If you exist, and have a mind of your own, that means you are living, despite what you think of him. He is part of you, and you are part of him whether you like it or not, so if you refuse me half of you, then you are refusing me altogether. So if that's what you want, you know where the door is."
As if on cue, the bedroom door swung open and Lee Chaolan walked in, donning a dismayed frown. He looked straight at Hwoarang as he said in a quiet, barely audible voice. "Eryx Danas is dead."
"He doesn't love me!"
Jin flicked his friend a sideways glance, causing him to nearly stumble over a crack in the sidewalk. Although he was well aware of the truth in that statement, having heard it straight from Hwoarang's mouth not long ago, he felt complied to ask, "What on earth makes you think that?"
"After that devil showed up, I left the room, hoping they'd resolve whatever the problem was better if I was not present. So I waited in the next room where I could hear what was going on. I wanted to be able to jump in if things got too dangerous, you know? And then Zekkai said that Hwoarang was walking on eggshells for a girl he doesn't even love. What got to me was that Hwoarang didn't deny it, he only tried to defend it. He came up with an excuse. He's only still with me because I know what Heihachi did to him!" She covered her face with her hands as she began to sob. "What am I going to do?"
It was an awkward situation. Despite the knowledge that he possessed, he couldn't help feeling sorry for the girl. Naturally, this kind of thing would hurt. Knowing the feeling of being betrayed as well as he did, it was a moral, and instinctive obligation to be there for her. Jin obeyed his own thoughts by leading Julia to a nearby park bench, and sitting her down.
They had run into each other on the bus at around 5:30 am. Jin was on his way to work while Julia was just trying to get as far from her boyfriend as possible, subconsciously going toward the part of town that she suspected Jin's hotel was in. Luckily, he had many sick days saved up, so his boss wouldn't be too upset. Upon seeing the expression on the woman's face, there wasn't much of a choice.
"You can't let him keep doing this to you," Jin said quietly, "You're a strong, talented, beautiful woman, and he's a very angry, and confused man, even if he doesn't always show it." He paused as Julia glanced at him. "It is not your fault that he feels this way. You didn't do anything wrong. You're very special to him, and he cares deeply about you, it's just that… He's not right for you, and I think you know that. Honestly, Julia, you really need to stop focusing on what he needs. It's hard for anyone to tell what he needs right now, and I'm completely confident that he is more than capable of taking care of himself. It's time you concentrate on what it is that you need."
Julia smiled weakly and nodded, "You're right. Thank you… I guess I should put more of myself into my cause and goals, but I need more than that. I feel like the forest is who I am, and I need to revive it. It's just not enough. I can't do this alone." She lowered her eyes. "Accomplishments just aren't as rewarding when you don't have anyone close to share them with… Hwoarang was never interested in what was important to me."
The clouds rolling overhead began to rumble quietly. A storm was coming, but it was still quite far away yet. It would take about an hour before it came close enough to affect them. The rain was not a problem, for it was only just sprinkling and they were shielded by an old large tree. The setting was almost the complete opposite, but it reminded the American of the scene she had mused over in Nebraska. An adorable couple sat on a bench, gazing out over a frozen river.
"Jin," Julia inquired, "Are you gay?"
Gentle Japanese eyes studied her face as his head tilted slightly in thought. His response was wordless, yet obvious and somewhat powerful. He touched the woman's face and kissed her lightly and slowly.
A/N: MWAHAHAHA! How's that for a twist? Well, I guess you could have seen that coming but let me have my glory!
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