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DISCLAIMER: All featured Tekken characters are the property of Namco and not the authors.
Notes: * ANGST ENDING * Be forewarned! Constructive criticism is welcomed!
Warnings: Eventual lemon parts, language & violence.
Chapter Fifteen - mice 2
By Aaronica and Orfik
There was no telling how much time had passed, or whether it was night or day. The ex-cop spent only about half the time there with Hwoarang, neither sleeping nor eating, as though they were trapped in one hideous eternal moment. Bryan, sitting at the table, pushed the toothpick to the either side of his mouth with his tongue. His gun was aimed at Hwoarang's head. Squinting down the barrel, his other eye closed, he was grinning to himself with dark enjoyment. "Bang..." he murmured. Slowly, the gun was reaimed at the Blood Talon's heart, and the process was repeated.
Hwoarang had long before learned how to block his captor's morbid litany out; he fixed his gaze on some aspect of the barren room when he couldn't sleep, studying it with the dejection of a prisoner in solitary confinement. Or he thought about Jin, or musical chords when fatigue drew the lashes down.
After a period, his listless stare concentrated on a speckling of dust and rodent dung in a dark corner of the room, and the music in his mind competed with the thud of hunger in his abdomen. It'd begun to hurt, but he stopped asking Bryan Fury for anything hours ago. Not even water, and he'd ceased licking his parched lips with a tongue that felt swollen beyond words.
Bryan suddenly broke the enduring silence which hadn't phased him to begin with. "You know, for all your girlfriend's money and babysitters she's sure looking like a dumb fuck with all the clues I've left out there." He was aiming the gun at Hwoarang's right eye now, and was quiet for several seconds as he savored the daydream of piercing it with a bullet.
"...You're probably starving now, aren't you." It was more of an indifferent realization than any sort of statement of pity. "Bang..."
Even if Hwoarang's lips were capable of speaking, whether he would have answered was doubtful. But both his mouth and his resolve had been rendered arrid over the indistinct period of time he'd spent bound; not to say his body no longer harbored rebellion. That, of course, was the Blood Talon's trademark. The digits of one raised hand uncurled despite the ache it caused in the over-extended muscles, forming one faint bird.
A bullet flashed into the wall an inch from that offered finger, chipping the cement there, and the gunshot echoed and echoed. "Why, yes, sir," he said loudly and flatly, "I am desperately hungry would be very grateful for something to eat." Your turn, Hwoarang.
" .. I think," Hwoarang rasped. Looked like he could still talk, although he took his time with each word, and the diction was rough and gravelly. He coughed, moistening his tongue a woeful amount, " .. you've gotten us confused. .. you're the desperate one." Earlier he might have said 'fuck.' But he really was hungry.
Thump thump; Bryan lowered his feet from the table, and set the gun on it next to the needle and plastic thread with which, a short while earlier, he had been using to repair several long scratches on his left forearm. They looked vaguely like those caused by fingernails, though he had not bothered to comment to Hwoarang about their origin. He spat the toothpick onto the table and clicked his tongue.
Hwoarang's fascination with dust and rodent dung ended at the overheard movement, and he raised his face with a languid effort to stare at Bryan. Each reddish brown iris roiled with hatred, but now a tremulous glimmer of fear seemed to nuance them. From what he observed of the from discrete glances, he had yet to add two and two together.
There was a plain brown bag on the other chair, and Bryan opened it. From it, he drew an apple, fresh and large and vividly green. He turned it slowly in his fingers as he came towards Hwoarang.
He couldn't poison a fruit, could he? Hwoarang wondered in that soup of a mind that fear, delerium and paranoia swam together in. Maybe it was some lethally bioengineered fruit Fury grew himself. Hwoarang was too hungry to care, because he tried to devour the jewel with his eyes alone.
Bryan came to the wall next to Hwoarang and crouched there. His eyes of flat, deadened frost were heavy-lidded and penetrating, focused on the youth's face as he held the apple near his mouth. Waiting.
The muscles of Hwoarang's smooth, hairless jaw twitched with indecision, defying the gaze that'd already torn the apple apart. His tongue came between his lips, irritating each chapped surface more than moistening them.
"Untie me. I can't .. I'd choke."
Bryan's other, palm-gloved hand curled slowly about Hwoarang's shoulder. Bryan touched his nose and lips to the side of the Korean's head, and thick, absent words dripped one at a time from his mouth: "You can eat a fucking apple."
The contact was dry ice against the Korean's skin, burning. He clamped his eyes such to wage a fight with nausea, but vomitting now would have only yielded a thin stream of sourness to soil his mouth. After a weighted silence, the hunger betrayed him, wedging his lips open and paying proper reverence to the caretaker with a sizable bite. The moist, crunching noises filled the chamber as Hwoarang chewed.
Bryan had the fruit clamped at either end with one finger. The other three fingers, like cool, dry leeches, trickled under Hwoarang's chin and about his jawline. He was silent, his eyes nearly closed as his other land gently lifted a handful of firey hair, bringing it to his closely-hovering nose. He inhaled it deeply.
Jesus -- what the fuck was he doing? Hwoarang wished he had something to pray to -- then at least he could trust some higher force had his back, would see him through all this. But he was an atheist [for good reason] and only groaned his discontent after he'd swallowed the first bite of fruit. And he jerked his face -- wincing as his neck ached terribly -- away from Bryan, his cheek touching the wall behind him. Only the boxer's light grasp on his hair kept it from shielding his profile.
Bryan uttered no epithets and did not even slam the Korean's head into the wall. He extended his arm so that the fruit was once more in front of Hwoarang's mouth, as he let the hair slip slowly out of his grasp. The zombie was still silent, but his eyes crept slowly and fiercely open. Of the many things he was feeling right now, patience was still not one of them.
So good. It'd felt so damned good, that first taste of sweetness and sustenance and wet that wasn't Hwoarang's own in his mouth. Once he caught scent of the apple again, he opened his eyes and took another bite, less tentative than the last. But this time he chewed slowly, savoring the juices, and his gaze rolled to Bryan.
Upon hearing the crunch of the apple he had severed his gaze again, closing his eyes in favor of memories that lay miles away and years past. She had had hair of the same color red, the same softness, and Bryan remembered this vividly. The expression on the captor's face was something new. Something subtle, and impossible to describe.
Hwoarang saw the serenity, as if the severe, hard features of Bryan's face remembered a less severe set themselves, Hwoarang thought as he watched the older man. Whatever the cause of it -- and he had many anxious suspicions -- Hwoarang didn't want it. Impetuously, he spit the wad of chewed, saliva-digested apple into Fury's face, the mouthful dripping off with the texture of apple sauce.
Whatever the expression it had been, it was gone, now, as Bryan wiped apple out of his eyes. They reopened, filled with seething rage and sure death. Finally, he uttered lowly, "That was stupid." His palm hit Hwoarang's face hard, clamping it as he began to press the back of the teenager's head into the wall with a hard pressure that slowly continued to grow.
Just when blackness threatened everything, a searing compression that multiplied in intensity kept what he could see beneath his eyelids red hot. Hwoarang gasped loudly, and then he sputtered out desperately, clenching his fists at hung above him, " .. pl .. please .. !" How had it come to the point of begging? Did he even realize he was doing it?
Bryan kept Hwoarang in a wolfish, unwavering stare. He wanted to keep pressing until he could feel the face shiver against his hand as the skull began to crack, and keep pushing until blood and brains and fragments of bone tore through the flesh, slathering his hand. For now he fixed the pressure where it was -- a searing agony as terrifying as he could produce without driving the redhead unconcious. Pressed into Hwoarang's face, Bryan's hand twitched violently as he fended off impulse.
"I was married, you know, back before I died," he began with icy calm tinged with distant rememberance. "One of the rookies on the force, back in '88. Named Iris. The guys gave me grief 'cause I was ten years older than her... said it was an early midlife crisis, you know... Prob'ly was, a little. I'd been in LA for six years by then; hadn't met anyone like her. Boom bang, two years later we were married. Got a house and a dog and everything. No time for kids. And then it's eight years later and I'm fucking happy 'cause my life is perfect, right, some problems along the way but we're still together and fucking crazy about each other and it's April 29, 1998, her birthday, and I got one mission to go before I'm taking her out to dinner, a shoot-out downtown between motherfucking teenage shits like you, nothing grand, and one of those pussies gets me in the left lung and I'm down, knowing this is it. But next thing I know I'm up again, 'cept I got metal bones, a microchip brain and I'm still dead. Think you can imagine what that's like?"
He paused here as though waiting for a reaction; and in his mind, he got one. Throughout the nostalgic diatribe Hwoarang's entire body shivered, and the lips glistening from apple juice trembled.
"You're right, you can't. And all I can think about is getting back to LA, getting back home 'cause I'm still me, I still got nothing in my head but her. And I get there, and I go home in the middle of the night and I ring the bell and I stand there waiting. And Iris throws open the door, she takes one look at me and fucking loses it. She's gone. No talking to her. 'Get out get out get out, he's dead, don't do this to me, get out get out.' And I get the door in my face. And that's it."
His voice was slowly growing in volume. "So here I am, got nothing, got no life, can't be dead, floating around and just sinking my fingers into your head wanting bad to tear you open." His cheek twitched. "...Teenage shit. Giving shit to everyone, fucking up your life like you know how bad it gets. Like you know fucking anything. You dumb fuck." He let go of Hwoarang's face.
The Korean slumped, breathing hard, his shoulders rising and falling with the heave of his chest. How much of that speech he could make sense of was questionable, although there was no doubt he heard every syllable. But curved like that, hanging like an abused Christ, he was tempted to throw the psychotic's words back in his face, because he'd heard the rumors when he scouted for the tournament, and the fuck if he was going to be castigated by some holier-than-thou bullshit. But his skull yelled in protest. It didn't want a fight.
Staring at Hwoarang, the balefulness and agression melted from his face. Suddenly Bryan looked tired and old. "Like it makes a difference," he muttered to himself. He rose from his place by the Korean, passing the dropped apple on his way back to the table.
" .. what the fuck I care -- " Hwoarang started, with the space between them as reassurance. " .. if you're feeling sorry for yourself? .. doesn't mean I have to, too .. !" His gaze was glassy but full of ire, piercing the orange veil of his hair. They were screwed up in the rage that twisted the rest of his face, but his eyes were ready to spill their recently acquired moisture already, whether from despair, pain or something else. "You don't know shit about me!"
Hwoarang found himself wishing Jin had come, now, and he cursed himself for it. It was good that Jin didn't. God -- he hoped Jin didn't.
Seated at the table, Bryan reached for his toothpick. "I don't have to know shit about you. You're all the same, getting off on acting up, doesn't matter what you break or who you fuck up."
"Better than fucking over junkies," he spat under his breath. Bryan's tactics had succeeded in a sense; whereas earlier Hwoarang would have said these words and stared unflinchingly to enjoy the effect, now he gave a preemptive flinch and stared at the dirty floor.
Bryan's smile twitched. He picked up the gun.
"He's not going to come." It was hollow, and final, leaving Hwoarang's beaten lips.
The tip of Bryan's tongue poked from his mouth as he aimed the fun at the center of Hwoarang's forehead, his finger on the trigger. "If you believed he loved you, you wouldn't be saying that."
"Shut up," he whispered. Those words were obscene from the zombie's dead lips, and caused Hwoarang to curl within himself. He let his eyes close, leaning back with his face angled upward as if he meant to sleep, or die.
"Don't wanna believe," he muttered, flicking off the safety with his thumb. "Just like somebody I used to know..."
Hwoarang didn't answer, like he hadn't answered for hours when Bryan cooed "Bang" or laughed every thirty seconds. He was concentrating blocking the ex-cop out; focusing on chords on a song he had been forcing himself to learn.
The sound of the safety being disengaged was repeated, but on another gun, Bryan felt the barrel press against the back of his head.
"That'll be enough," a woman's voice stated behind him. Unmoving, Bryan's eyes slithered to one side. He asked, flatly and unhurriedly, "...Or you'll shoot me?"
The Korean's eyes whipped open and he stared at the scene, his heart rising in his chest and filling his mouth so he couldn't even scream his agreement with the proposition.
The woman was clad in a borrowed Japanese police uniform, but spoke in unaccented English. "Drop it," she said. And Bryan continued smiling, ever a good sign. His arm didn't waver.
"Think there's something about me you skipped over in the briefing..." he said, his eyes still fixed to the side. But without turning his head, he was still unable to see the redheaded woman.
Hwoarang couldn't piece together the American words, but he could piece together the significance of the red-hair he saw framing the woman's face. Iris. This was going to be a lover's spat, and although he still hoped, it wasn't quite as absolute a feeling as it should have been. It actually saddened him.
"It's gonna take more than a bullet to the head, you know. Hope you brought backup."
"Try me." There was a long, tense pause, when everything about them-- the dingy lights, the rats, the piles of forgotten crates-- seemed motionless and trapped. And then reality and time were reunited in a blur of motion, as Bryan leapt up and around from his chair and fired a shot. It missed, and that was enough time to assure that he would not fire another shot. The zombie stared, thunderstruck, his gun arm sinking as if the weight of gravity was suddenly unbearable.
"Iris..." he breathed, the word sounding both amazed and limp. Iris was two paces away, her gun aimed at his face, and she said nothing. "Why did--"
Hwoarang rustled; his voice cut through the tension of their face off. "Call back up, Iris," he said in Japanese, hoping she'd understand. He could only imagine what they were talking about, but he knew Bryan Fury could take a bullet and then some and still smile about it.
Iris's green eyes flicked to the hostage to assure him that she had heard and understood, but her free hand made no move for her walkie-talkie.
"It's over, Bryan," she said, and her half-masked sadness seemed utterly impassive compared to the desperation written across Fury's pallid, scarred features. She hesistated, and then murmured, "...I'm sorry."
She shot him in the forehead as he began to speak, and he stumbled back a step. An unfinished "But I love you" lingered in the air, severed when the bullet lodged in his brain exploded.
Wide, quivering eyes watched the grueling scene unfold itself into flying grit and flesh, lips sealed on both word and whimper. Iris suddenly cut to his swollen heart, and if he weren't who he was it might have burst. The degree of sympathy he could experience in his own shock and trauma kept him silent, though.
Iris covered her eyes with her forearm until the debris, both human and machine, settled and the body heavily fell. She slowly holstered the gun, and after summoning the strength to take the first step towards Hwoarang, she was all right. After calling for back-up, she said in rusty Japanese, "Help is on the way. Are you hurt?"
"Gomen nasai .. " was all Hwoarang whispered to the American woman. He didn't look scathed aside from the nasty imprint of a palm glowing red at his forehead and fingerprints at his temples. And his parched lips, and his soiled skin. He looked relatively fine. "He didn't come .. " he whispered.
"You'll be all right," she assured him again, inspecting the shackles. Men were already pouring in from the entrance they had made, hollering directions between themselves as some fanned out to check the surroundings, some tended to Bryan's body and others joined Hwoarang and Iris, working to free the former from the wall and inspect his health thoroughly. Iris's mission was done, and after saying something on her walkie-talkie, she started to leave.
His legs, filled with gelatinous muscle it seemed, were wobbly under him but moment by moment Hwoarang recovered his bearings. He was slightly malnutritioned and weak, and most of the questions put to him received half-hearted grunts.
One of the medics glanced at Iris's retreating back as he, along with several other men, guided -- and if necessary, forced -- Hwoarang into a wheelchair. Not that Hwoarang would have resisted them, anyway. He'd realized that he would probably never see Jin again, and his movements were hollow.
"That's his old fling," he said near Hwoarang's ear, the juicy secret that it was. "When they heard what happened they called her in from New York; said she'd be the only person who could figure out where he was. She asked to go in with only one bullet in her gun," he marvelled. But then more people swarmed about the former hostage as they rushed him through the warehouse hurricane shelter and back to the world of the living, and the man said nothing more.
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