Author's Notes: Well, I lied. I decided to condense the last two chapters together, so this is the last chapter! Yea! Erm... AngelWingStarX: you need to stop seeing through my ideas! *giggles* Actually, the hair thing is from Marmalade Boy. Ginta (my fav) shaves his hair to show that Miki broke his heart and that he is ashamed of the way he acted. It is really cute. I actually put it in to have Jin complain about Hwoarang cutting his hair because that is all I ever do when Iím talking about Tekken 4. Well, anyway, enjoy!


Epitaph

Chapter 6 - Epitaph

By Link621


"... And maybe sheís already dead and maybe sheís gone to Mars.
And maybe she will write her epitaph in the stars..."

- Marcy Playground "Vampires of New York"

 

I checked my gloves one last time, pushing my goggles back to hold back my hair. I felt most comfortable in this outfit, so I was glad to be wearing it when facing the Unknown... or the unknown, as the case may be. I loved how the jeans fit to my skin, and how the shirt might as well have been my skin. I loved the outfit for all it was, but I knew I would have to give it up when I moved on from Jin. I might want to get a new gi, too. After all, I was going to have to accept Baekís death eventually. "Letís do it," I said blandly, turning to Jin.

"Eh," he replied in simple Japanese. He rubbed his neck as if he were sore. "She should be here somewhere, in theory..." Jin looked around, troubled. "I feel my motherís spirit is strong here. I thought it might be Angel, but this is something different... and it didnít leave with Angel..." Jin rubbed his temples. "If I thought I could single-handedly beat the Unknown, I would say we should split up. In our current state, I vote we try and be as careful as is possible."

"Hm, I agree," I said wistfully. I did agree. "You know, Jin... when you were devil Jin... I wasnít afraid... because I knew you wouldnít hurt me, somehow. I think you have your motherís integrity... and I am sure even your father who is possessed by Devil still has some goodness in him..." I saw the look Jin was giving me, and resisted the urge to take my words back. "Donít look at me like that, I was just trying to tell you that I trust you." Jin continued to look at me weird. "Tough crowd," I muttered more or less to myself.

Then I heard it. An awful wail followed closely by the howl of some sort of wolf. Jin and I were both at attention. "The Unknown," he guessed. I wasnít about to argue with that. Then, we waited. We sat completely still, waiting for another noise, or some kind of sign that it was the Unknown. Our request was answered too fast when suddenly, she appeared. She was a woman who was clothed only by what appeared to be oil stains, and was walking with her eyes closed. There was a floating wolf-like creature behind her that apparently had control over her motions.

"This is bad," I commented. Jin gulped audibly. "You start the fight," I suggested. Jin shot me a glare before approaching the woman and taking stance. She took a stance that was ridiculously familiar. It looked almost like Jinís stance, only the hands...

"Mother..." Jin whispered in surprise. The Unknown spun, kicking Jin several times before punching him twice, sending him to the ground; he didnít so much as block the attacks. The Unknown raised a leg and brought it down, still spinning, to kick Jin twice more after he had fallen. Jin cried out in pain, and I didnít know what to do. Why wouldnít he get up? "Mother," he repeated, "Please... donít do this. There is so much evil in my blood, it is your purity alone I have to count on... please, donít..." Jin took another punch. The Unknown seemed to be unmoved by Jinís words.

"Damnit, Jin!" I yelled, feeling my blood boil. "Fight back! I wonít let any rival of mine take such a beating so easily! I donít care if she looks like Mother Teresa when she fights! Just take her out!" My voice was desperate, and I hated it. I wasnít angry with Jin, I was worried about him. Jinís eyes were fogged with some pain that I knew was his own, and that I might never understand. "Jin..." I whispered.

"Youíre... my mother, arenít you?" Jin asked. He got back handed right after. "Why, mother... why would you do this?" Jin wiped some blood from the corner of his mouth. I didnít know what to do. The woman obviously wasnít Jun Kazama. "No, you canít be my mother," Jin said. It was quite a relief to hear those words. "My mother was beautiful, pure, and good-of- heart. She was an angel of the earth. Next to her, you are all that is dark in the world. How dare you steal her fighting style and likeness?!" Jin then raced forward, attacking the Unknown. I, meanwhile, resisted the urge to laugh. The scene was not funny, granted, but something about it was just... well, goofy.

Jin beat the Unknown down for a good twenty seconds before she took a new stance. I instantly recognized my own stance. "Damnit," I muttered. "Here we go again..."


So, after Jinís lights were put out by a dynamite kick, I was left to fight the Unknown, who had dropped my stance, and taken one I would much rather never have to fight. The curve of the left leg forward, the way the arms rested, held akimbo, in a ready stance, all of it was second nature to me. It was Baekís stance. I didnít want to fight Baek. Not after spending so long trying to get over the loss of the guy. All the same, I took stance.

Mirroring each-otherís movements, we both went into right flamingo stance and held the position without attack. I knew the real Baek could stand like that all day without tiring, but I could tell the Unknown didnít have the right muscles to try to pull the same trick. I... well, I might be able to last a while, but I was still nothing compared to Baek. As soon as I thought that, guilt rushed through me in a powerful wave. I was immobilized by the thought that all my training with Baek had been in vain, and that I would never live up to him. I never had felt that way before... okay, maybe once. Still, this wasnít something I thought about all the time.

"Itís you, isnít it?" I looked at the wolf behind the young woman I was fighting. "Damnit! You are able to exploit peopleís emotions by reading their minds, or something, arenít you? Well, you know what? Fuck that shit! Iím gonna kill you!" I charged the Unknown, trying hard to only attack the wolf-thing with anything I could throw at it, carefully avoiding attacking the woman herself. This proved borderline futile, so I just gave up, and decided to attack the woman too. "You arenít Baek," I said. "But even if you were, I wouldnít hold back. After all, a student can only repay his master by surpassing him!" I attacked again, this time with the full strength of my anger behind me.

I still donít know how it happened, but I won. The Unknown did not fall, but she stood, breathing hard, looking at the ground with her eyes finally open. She had beautiful eyes that were pure gold. Oddly, she looked much younger with open eyes. She met my stare and appeared frightened. I wanted to help her, but I didnít know what to do. Suddenly, from behind her, the wolf tried to pounce on her. "Look out!" I yelped. She turned and punched into it. Both of our eyes went wide as her arm sunk into its flesh. It was only a moment later that the wolf used her energy to turn itself into a full creature once again. Out of ideas, I charged the creature, ready to fight, but I was easily batted away by the back of the right paw. I fell, practically on Jinís lap, on the other side of the room.

The wolfís stomach began to pulse, and I could see it was in pain. It suddenly exploded in a gush of green goo that went everywhere. When some splattered on my face, I half-expected it to be cold, but it was actually very warm and pliable. Grossed out, I wiped as much of it off my skin as I could. The young woman, still intact, lay face down in the puddle of green goo that had once been her other half. I watched as she slowly lifted herself up, smiling. She walked over to me, ruffling my hair with one slender hand, and her eyes told me she was thanking me. I nodded back.

"Kazama?! Damn, where is that son of mine? I refuse to believe he was beaten!" The voice was coming from across the chamber. I saw Kazuya Mishima making his way over toward us. As soon as the Unknown spotted him, she scampered off. Kazuya blinked a couple times then made his way over to where Jin and I were unceremoniously piled against a pillar. I, frankly, was preparing to be attacked. Instead, I was faced with the slight smile that met Kazuyaís lips as he squatted by us. "Hwoarang, was it? Youíre Baekís boy. Heh, no wonder. Only the finest of teachers could have made you capable of defeating my son."

"I never beat him. We tied. He was the closest to a loss Iíve ever gotten. I wouldnít say that I am the only one capable of beating him. I think, if Jinís heart is in it, he can really beat anyone..." I looked earnestly into Kazuyaís face as I spoke. He was looking at me, as if amused, and that was a very bad sign. "Why do I get the feeling we are having two completely different conversations at the same time?" That drew a boisterous laugh out of Kazuya. Yes, that was a very bad sign.

"Hm, maybe. You just... well, you remind me of Lee Choalan, my brother, I guess," Kazuya commented. He held out a hand to me, drawing me to my feet once he had my hand. "Lee was one of the two people able to open my eyes, in the end." Kazuya looked at his son with his head slightly titled to the side. "Too bad youíll have to back away," the older man added quietly. I turned to him, surprised by the comment. "Something tells me," Kazuya added, "You two are destined to live together or die together. Heh, maybe both." Kazuya went to his son, shaking his head as he looked at Jin from up close. "Only you, Jun..."

"Jun? As in Kazama Jun?" I asked. I got a curt nod from Kazuya. "I saw her," I mentioned almost as if in passing. "She was an angel on Earth," I added wistfully. Kazuya looked at me with a slight smile.

"In life and death both," he commented quietly. Then, his face went cold again. "Kid, thanks for watching after my idiot son. I was wrong to attack you. You have been key to the defeat of the Unknown. I will see to it that you and my son are airlifted back to base." Kazuya stood fully, and turned away from me, missing my amazement. "Oh, and your mutual girlfriend... she is fine. She has decided that you love her now, though, so Iíd watch out, Hwoarang. My son might actually be in the clear now, though."

I sighed. "What about Julia?"

"Sheís been muttering to herself a lot. I didnít get too close to her because Michelle Chang is out for my blood and she has a hatchet." I had to agree with Kazuya; that was a good reason to not want to see Michelle. "Anyway, Hwoarang, Iíll make sure the money is given to you back at the base, and I will go radio that helicopter right now," he added plainly.

"Thank you," I said, taking Jinís limp hand in mine. I let my eyes fall closed as I added, "Itís about damn time something good happened to us."


It was one day, two showers, and several stiff drinks later that I found myself standing on the balcony of my suite. Needless to say, I had never been so happy to be in a hotel in my whole life. I stood, wearing a heavy bathrobe over swimming trunks and flip-flops, with my arms resting against the railing. My hair was soaked, plastered against my skin, and it was only becoming more so with the lightly falling rain. I ran shaking fingers through my hair.

Jin...

Well, thereís a problem.

I sighed heavily, recounting all weíd been through the past few days and I wasnít sure whether to laugh or to cry. What a fool I was... Still, I couldnít regret falling for Jin. I think I know what Kazuya meant by beating Jin.... but that meant that I ultimately lost. By his definition, Jin beat me. I wasnít sure I would make it through good-bye.

Just as I was thinking that, there was a light rap on the sliding glass door. I looked back to see Jin was in my room and frowned. I gave him the key, and at about midnight, he couldnít hold out any longer so he made use of it. Now, he was back, and dressed like he was going to an important meeting. I just nodded to him. He slid the door open, stepping out into the rain without hesitation. "Hwoarang, youíre soaked. You should get inside," he said right off the bat.

"I donít care. I like the rain. No, thatís not right, I love the rain. The last lesson I ever had with my master was in the rain." I realized, my last moment with Jin might be in the rain too, and felt a lump form in my throat. "Why are you here, Jin?"

"My grandfather arranged for me to be taken home via private jet so I donít have to wait out the storm. Iím leaving as soon as the crew finishes fueling..." Jin trailed off, maybe because he could see how hard I was shaking at that point. I was cold, I was angry, and I was in pain, damn it! It always says in the books that the pain of a breaking heart is ALMOST physical. Fuck that! My whole body ached with pain. I couldnít think, I couldnít breath, I wanted to cry and scream and... I wanted Jin to stay, and I wanted to curl up in a fetal position and weep... But I also wanted to kick his fucking ass, or something! Instead, I stood there, drenched, baffled, and shaking, staring at him. "Hwoarang... I didnít know it would be this soon..."

"Fuck you, Kazama," I snapped, unable to think of anything else to do or say. I turned away. "Fuck off, Jin. I donít need this shit." My voice had dropped to a slightly lighter tone, as I was finding it difficult to get enough air to be nasty. I knew it would happen, but somehow, now that I was at that point, it was more real, and it hurt.

I probably set a record for high jumping when Jinís hand rested lightly on my shoulder. He gave the muscle there a slight squeeze, and said quietly, "I donít want to leave, Hwoarang. I sabotaged the plane. It only gives me another couple hours or so, but I wanted more time with you." My eyes widened in shock. Jin had the capacity to sabotage? I didnít know he had it in him!

"You... for me?" I turned, facing warm almond eyes.

Jin nodded briefly, taking my lips in a brief kiss. "Damn it, Hwoarang, how did you do it? Youíre turning me into a completely different person! How did you make me yours so fully?" Jin was shaking now too, but I donít think he was angry. "I hoped that this was just an attraction that would go away. Then, I fell in love. Now, I have to say good-bye just when I was starting to enjoy it." Jin gave me a look that I would never understand. "I should be the one damning you," Jin muttered.

I let my forehead fall to his gently, smiling sadly at him. "Sorry, Kazama, but this is a lose-lose situation where winner takes all." My own copper hair fell in between our eyes like a curtain. "Iíd like to know who the winner here is, though." Jinís lips curved up in the slightest of smiles to mirror my face. That was the breaking point. I would never be with Jin like this again. I would never hold him through the night. I would never taste his skin under my lips again. Damn it, we never even had sex. "Come," I said hoarsely, dragging Jin by the wrist back through the sliding glass door and into my suite. He seemed confused at first, until he saw my bed.

"Right," he replied coarsely. I didnít give him any time to say anything else before I smashed my lips against his in a quasi-violent kiss that was just emotion pouring out of me. I didnít care anymore if Iíd regret anything I did there. I didnít care because my body wanted Jin far more than my brain was demanding sanity. I pushed Jin down on the mattress ahead of me. He made sure I came right after by grabbing my wrists and pulling me down for a kiss. The second he let go, I took his wrists, holding them above his head, and took control of the situation best I could.

"Jin," I said quietly, "I canít say good-bye to you after this, you know. Youíll have to be satisfied with nothing." Jin nodded. "And... you canít tell me you love me after this, either. Understand?" Jin nodded again. I let out a shaky breath. This is what I wanted. This is what he wanted. This was my last chance. "I love you, Jin," I said, my voice betraying me.

"I love you too," Jin replied, looking at me with that same indescribable look. Perhaps out of lust, perhaps out of love, and maybe perhaps out of spite, I continued. I never lived to regret that day, either.


I still remember vividly the first day I walked into the army admission office. I threw the letter on the table, getting an annoyed look from the man behind the desk. "Drafted?" he asked like it was the upteenth time heíd asked that question that day.

"Yeah," I replied, combing back some of my now longer blood red hair. In a stint of insanity, Iíd died my hair black to try to look like everyone else. Missing the redness of my former hair, Iíd gone to an even stranger color of blood red. Iíd sorta lost in sometime in the previous couple of months.

"I need your name, occupation, height, weight, and so on here," the man informed me, handing me a clipboard. I took it, glad to fill it out, and began to fill in all the blanks. "You know, pretty boy, weíre going to have to chop off all that hair first day youíre here." There was teasing in the manís voice.

I looked at him with dead eyes. I developed those sometime after Jin left me asleep in the suite and before I found out that he had gone missing. "I need a haircut anyway," I muttered. For some reason, I found myself adding, "In Japan, there is an old myth that one who has had their heart broken must shave their head as a representation of their shame." After I realized I made the off-hand comment, I shook my head to clear those thoughts.

"Whatever kid, just turn that in with a signature when you are done."


It was nearly two years later that I returned for the fourth Tekken tournament. No, not to beat the shit out of Jin. I went because I wanted to know if he was still a missing person. If Jin would show up anywhere, it would be at that tournament. As it turned out, I never saw him the whole time I was fighting. The night after the tournament, tonight to be precise, I left my hotel room for one last time hoping to find a nice car in the parking lot I could jack and go for a late night drive. When I got down into the parking lot, I almost laughed looking at my choices. I could drive basically whatever I damn well pleased.

Well, then. I laughed quietly to myself, feeling the stretch of my new gi against my stomach. It was tighter than the old one, but somehow, it reminded me of my biking days when Baek was still alive, so I didnít mind wearing it. As I walked down the row of cars, I was surprised to see a hooded figure coming my way. He was a little shorter than me, and broadly built, and walked like he was shameful. I said nothing as I passed, until I noticed guards were following him. "Kazama," I breathed, memories clicking into place all at once.

"Hwoarang..." Jinís voice was like a faint sigh that slid through his lips and barely made it to my ears. Before I could take the time to think about that, we were being attacked by the guards; with guns, none the less. I was able to fend off two of them, but it left my back exposed. I felt emotion wash over me as Jin covered for me. Something that died with me back on the island reared itís ugly head again.

I was only vaguely aware of Jinís command to run as we were under fire by a machine gun. When Jin pulled me behind a blue mini-van, I found myself muttering, "this wasnít what I had in mind." I looked at Jin, who was breathing hard and looking very worried. He looked exactly the same, I realized now that I saw him without the hood. After staring at him for a while, he turned to me.

"Donít look at me like that," Jin hissed.

"Like what?"

"Like you still love me," Jin replied. His gaze softened after a moment, and he gently put a hand to my cheek. "Youíre so pale. I donít remember you being this pale... And youíre hair is shorter... Or, maybe thatís just my imagination. I know you dyed it." Jin ran his thumb gently over my lower lip. I resisted the urge to make a weak needy sound.

"I do still love you, Jin," I said almost silently. That wasnít at all what I was thinking. That wasnít me who said that. It was the little green goblin that lives in my head, I swear! Goblin or not, though, I knew it was true, so I continued, "I cut my hair when I joined the army. It only just recently got this long again. As for the hair..."

"I like the real you better, Hwoarang. How long have you been pretending?" Jinís voice wasnít harsh, as I expected it to be.

"How long have you been hiding?" I asked in response. He went silent. I let my hand clasp over his in my cheek and put our faces closer together. "I miss you, Jin. I want you back. I was wrong to think we could only ever be rivals. I want to live with you, Jin. I want you to be there every morning when I wake up. You quit this hiding shit, and Iíll stop trying to be something Iím not. Thatís all I want..." I was crying, and I could feel that he was quivering.

Jin closed the space further, pressing our lips together, as the machine gun fire rang out in the background. With a start, I realized some of the shots were hitting the engine, meaning it would most likely explode. Which brings me back to the present. The important part of my life flashed before my eyes, and now Iím sitting here, about to die, kissing him like it is our first, last, and only kiss. Something tells me, this isnít the end. It seems too easy, especially considering we are Jin Kazama and the great Hwoarang. The something in me that died with Jinís loss has reawakened. We are alive. We will be alive. And Mishima is gonna face the wrath of all hell for the shit he has put us through. As I am thinking this, the car explodes, leaving a shower of sparks and debris that falls to the ground like some unholy snow of used fireworks.


"The fear is gone, my job is done." - Kruzchovís epitaph

~~~~ The End ~~~~

Hwoarang: O_o Iím lost.

Link: *Clears throat* I donít know why I decided to incorporate Tekken 4 stuff in the end, but I think it got the point across.

Jin: I donít like this ending. Did we actually live?

Hwoarang: Yes, stupid.

Jin: How do you know?

Hwoarang: Would she really kill us? *Both look at Link* Er... maybe she would...

Link: Anyway, since the story is over, I can now shamelessly promote my next Tekken endeavor. It is a mini-series of unrelated sonfics (mostly shonen-ai) using lyrics from my favorite band: Greenday! Yea! So, Iíll start on that soon, but Iíll also take requests for songs in it. I DO already have a list of songs, but I am always willing to look at the lyrics of another song. In case youíre wondering, the first one is going to be "Worry Rock" for Jin and Hwoarang. In fact, that is what started the idea. (That, and "Basket Case" for Kazuya, "King for a Day" for Kitty Head, and "The Brat" for Jinóobviously, there are even more Iíve thought of since then) So, yeah, shameless promotion over. Thanks for reading.


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