Author's Note: The story will rotate POV between Hwoarang and Jin. It will always be fairly simple to tell which is which, so you shouldn't get lost. Koorime wrote all of Jin's POV, actions, and dialogue, while Link621 wrote Hwoarang's actions, POV, and dialogue. Else than that, please enjoy.
Warnings: Yaoi, lemon, strong language, and that's about it. There is some character bashing, but it does not necessarily reflect our opinions of the characters. Any derogatory remarks containing something about being British are plainly out of anger for Steve Fox, and are in no way intended as discrimination.
DISCLAIMER: The Tekken Tournament/ King of Iron Fist and it's competitors are not ours, they are property of NAMCO. Lyrics quoted in the beginning are from the Wallflower's "Baby Bird" off of their album "Breach".
Tattered Wings - Part 4
Come back home
You were never really on your own ~
Act I: Scene IV
I did not want to hear this.
"I'm going home, Steve, and that's final," I stated slowly, leaving no room for confusion or discussion. Just where were my shoes? When I arrived at the hospital, my clothes were in tatters; thankfully, Xiaoyu had brought me several spares when she went back to our - no, wait - my apartment and also dropped Hwoarang off with Lee's aid. I couldn't call him my uncle; not yet. It felt far too strange after having no family for two years. Then, I hadn't known my father was still alive and my grandfather didn't count; he was dead to me.
Anyhow, that wasn't the point. I had been stuck in this hospital for nearly a week, endured infinite hours of interrogation once Lee's excuses depleted and I was exhausted. I just wanted to go home.
Initially, Lee and my friends had intended to sneak me out, but that plan went out the window when the police turned up outside my door a little earlier than anticipated.
Xiaoyu later told me that Hwoarang had returned to see me but he was banned from the grounds after someone filed a complaint. I sighed. Was it too much to ask him to stay out of trouble? Knowing the stubborn redhead, I had almost expected him to return, despite the restriction. I waited in that damned bed for days on end, putting up with the nagging investigators only because I expected Hwoarang to waltz through the door at any moment and tell them to get the hell out.
In his words, that is. Hwoarang won't take orders from anybody. Needless to say that I was confused when the week reached its end and I had received no word from him, nor had anyone else. It was sometime after midnight this morning when I accepted that I was still worried about him, despite his apparent death wish for me. I was already dressed to go look for him when Steve came to visit me before breakfast this morning. I knew that he wasn't going to be happy if I told him where I was going, so I lied. But the kick-boxer persisted.
I ground my jaw, throwing my friend a look for silence beneath my drawn hood. It must have worked because his mouth clamped shut, though he clearly wasn't happy. Well neither was I, so perhaps we were even. In fact, he looked rather annoyed.
"I'm going home."
I hadn't paid the rent for the last month and now it was a week overdue; I wondered if the managers back at the complex had evicted me yet. These high-class types were incredibly strict when it came to regulation, or more precisely; money. In all truth, I only took up residence there because from my apartment, I had a good vantage-point over the rest of the city. My apartment wasn't nearly as high as I would have preferred, but I think that in the end it was better; Hwoarang had quite the phobia of heights. I learned this the night of his first cooking attempt in our apartment. I'd made some joke when he nearly set the stove and himself on fire; I think he had taken me seriously. He had stormed out onto the balcony, but when I followed, I found that he hadn't proceeded a step past the open doors.
"Why not?" I had asked, curious.
He shrugged flippantly, gluing his back to the wall. "What would I want to see down there?"
But there was an apprehension in his eyes as he looked at the stone rail, clearly distrusting. Slowly, I had drawn him to me, amazed once more at the electrifying heat when our skin touched. Holding his rigid frame, I had stepped up to the railing, my suspicions confirmed when he let out a panicked yelp and tried to scramble back. I don't remember what I whispered as I held him strong; leaning gently against the stone, his eyes clenched shut, refusing to look down. I'm not sure why… but that was when I kissed him. And the rest is history.
Clearly, I'd become lost in my own mind and Steve looked as though he was battling to keep his temper under control. "Jin, I understand that you want to get out of this hospital, but do you really think that you should be going back… " He motioned at the door as if my apartment lay on the other side. "… There?"
"Yes." It was where all of my belongings are, and I didn't have so much time to catch up on all the training that I've missed. The Fourth Iron Fist Tournament was a little under a fortnight away and I was sure my wrist guards feeling sorely neglected. I had a lot to do.
I needed to find Hwoarang.
Finally finding my other sneaker shoved at the very bottom of the side-closet, I was doing up the laces when Steve huffed, standing with his arms crossed in front of me.
"Jin, what if… he's there?"
I almost stopped what I was doing, but managed to keep the sharp pinch in my heart from showing on my face. If Hwoarang was home… I was thankful that my hood fell so low over my eyes but I bent my head anyway and breathed slowly.
"It doesn't make a difference," I told him simply.
"Doesn't make a difference?" Steve echoed, voice rising. "Jin, you should have seen him around here last week, he was berserk! "
Ah, what the fuck do I care? I hope he dies.
I stood and came eye-to-eye with the boxer, raising a finger for silence. "I don't want to hear it," I ground out, my voice dropping half a notch. Zipping up the front of my jacket, I quietly despaired over the ruin of my former favorite. It hadn't survived my father's talons; I shuddered, trying not to remember the pure agony of claws tearing through the flesh of my back.
Steve took my arm as I tried to move past him. "No, Jin, you have to hear it. You keep saying that you know it all, but that's bullshit! You know what he is-"
"And what am I?" I snapped, jerking out of his grasp. "I think that you're looking the wrong way, Steve Fox! If anyone, you should be worried for his welfare. After all, he's the one that's been sleeping with a demon." My voice hitched slightly and I could feel my throat constricting. I almost cursed under my breath as I felt the barest sting at the back of my eyes, but this was irrational.
There's no reason for me to cry again. In fact, I felt too angry to…
Steve's voice reached me as I threw open the door, a small duffel bag slung over my shoulder. I stalked down the corridor, trying to hasten my pace as I heard the heavy footsteps following. Of all the times to pursue me…
"Jin, that's not my point." An exasperated sigh and then a strong hand clamped down on my shoulder, turning me around even as I tried to pull away. I shouldn't have been surprised by the strength in his grip, but even for a champion fighter, his normal grip was exceptional. Steve looked at me in deep concern, but the harsh resilience was still there. I glared back, determined to keep my face set in a blank mask.
"He's no good, Jin! Look what he's doing to you, this isn't healthy-!"
"Again, you're missing the point, Steve. If anyone is at risk, it's Hwoarang." Not that it matters now, I mused. I could still see Xiaoyu's panicked expression plainly clear as I had the other day when she rushed into my ward, telling me that Hwoarang had disappeared. She and Julia had dropped by my apartment that same day after receiving no response to their phone calls three days hence. Using my key card, they got into the apartment and searched high and low. Apparently, all of his possessions were gone, not a trace of him remained; not even a note to let me know…
I laughed bitterly in my mind. They said that they had found a few bills on the kitchen table; my stomach had twisted at the thought of Hwoarang out on the streets alone during winter. I doubt that he'd been abducted; no kidnappers would have gone through the effort of removing his possessions. They held no material value, only sentiment.
Very slowly, I found my voice. "Besides… You have nothing more to worry about. You know that Hwoarang's gone."
"Exactly! But you're still pining for him!" the kick-boxer snapped, lifting my chin to meet his eye. I instantly knocked his hand away, wishing I could do the same for the raw pain in my chest.
"I do not," I lied through clenched teeth.
"Jin, I've been telling you from the start that this would happen, and you've been turning a deaf ear to everything! He's the sort of roughneck that only likes a person for what they can give him, and once that person's outlived their usefulness, it's time to move on. He left without so much as a word and anyone else would be angry! He's not even worth arguing about," the blond insisted. Each of his words pummelled deeper into my chest and I looked down at myself, almost expecting to see life's blood. Strangely, the invisible wound drew more of my attention than the slowly returning heat on my arm. I actually was quite angry; I never believed that Hwoarang would just up and go as he had.
What I didn't understand is why…
I was very relieved that my voice didn't tremble when I spoke. "How would you know if I'm not angry?"
He saw right through me. Damn him.
"For god's sake, Jin, wake up! He's not coming back!" Steve's voice has risen to a shout, but it's the words more than the volume that knocked me back. I turned away again, knowing that the heavy weight in my chest would soon reach my throat; I don't want to hear this. I raised my hand as though it could act as a barrier between us, but his strong fingers caught my wrist, holding me still.
Steve didn't shrink back when I turned my darkest look on him, but I knew it was betrayed by the gathering tears. "I hate to admit it, Jin, but he did us a favor in leaving. Now do yourself the same and just forget about him." His voice softened as I fixed my gaze on the waiting elevator. I could sense his presence as he leaned in, other hand coming up to my shoulder. "He's not worth it."
I don't want to hear this.
"… Release me." It was a warning, but I don't think that I could bring myself to strike him if he didn't.
Steve was… just looking out for me. It's what friends do.
Thankfully, his hands fell from mine and I wasted no time in entering the waiting lift, my tension was escalating rapidly. The moment the doors closed behind me, I felt most of my strength deflate; my anger manifesting in hard gasps as a few tears trickle hot from my eye. I was shaking as the duffel bag dropped to the floor and my fists clench spasmodically.
Hwoarang… Why did you… ?
The image of the lost Korean rose before me in mercurial opacity; my fist lashed out, and then there was distinct crunch of wood breaking. I pulled my fist back from the damaged wall, the tears streamed faster and nothing I do would stop them.
Damn you, Hwoarang, for doing this to me.
I sneered staring up at the building. So, we were all supposed to stay here for the tournament. Whatever. It beat the hell out of the past few weeks of my life.
No, this is not about Jin. Fuck Jin. He's a fuckface too, if he listened to everything Steve Fox said and thinks I want to kick his ass. I mean, I do want to kick his ass now, for not trying to find me... well, I guess I was deliberately hiding from him. And, I really did go out of my way to just "vanish" without a trace. I even left his money I'd been given for groceries on the kitchen table with the dead flowers. Ah, what the fuck is wrong with me?
Makin' me so confused on it's own is reason enough to kick his ass. Damn Kazama. Damn him and his stupid "feelings". God damnit!
Which brings me back to why I came back at all. I touched my hand to my now professionally treated ribs that were wrapped under several layers of a gauze-like athletic tape. That bastard Steve Fox... I was determined to beat him in a fair fight. No way in hell was I going to have my pride stolen by some British loser who forced Jin and me apart.
It wasn't about Jin, really. It was about Steve Fox.
I'll admit it, I'd always had a complex where I had to be the best. It is just how I am. Steve Fox, though, he is just like me in that regard. He is the best at his little martial art, if you can call it that, and I am the best at mine. The thing I needed to prove was, I was better than him. (So there-ha!) Plus, I certainly had to repay that bastard for what he did to me. Making money fighting on the streets of Tokyo wasn't exactly a walk in the park with a broken rib. Luckily for me, Xiaoyu finally persuaded me to go (dragged me to) the doctor and paid for my bill.
I hate free loading, but I've never had a choice. Such is the life of the penniless orphan brat, I guess.
I turned to the aforementioned Chinese girl and we met with a bright smile. She was glad to be here. Xiaoyu, unlike me, was going to be thrilled to see Jin because she didn't feel they'd spent enough time together. I wasn't excited to be on Mishima land again. There were just too many fighters with too many ulterior motives for me to really handle. I mean, I am very confident in my skills, but it is just too hard to sleep at night knowing some of the characters you are rooming with.
"Hwoarang, what's wrong?" Xiaoyu inquired. She must have been referring to the twisted half-grimace that was forming on my face. "Do your ribs hurt?" She took a step toward me, as if to do something helpful by being a step closer. She reached out a hand for me, but I made myself smile, and tried to look genuine about it.
"I'm not hurt, Xiaoyu, just worried." I sighed, hearing my voice shake. It was not a shake of tears, or fear, or any of that other girly shit. It was my anger slowly bubbling to the surface again. Steve fucking Fox was going to go down if it was that last thing I did. Then, I was going to get my rematch with Jin and kick his ass, too. Fucking rich prick thought he can toy with my head... well, he had another thing comin', that's for damn sure!
"Let's go check in," Xiaoyu suggested, wrapping her arms around one of mine. She was dragging me to the doors before I could really stop her. Everything was passing in a blur, though. I'm sure she got me to the front desk, got me checked in, and even to my room, which had been thankfully placed on the second floor. The second floor I could handle. It wasn't until she gave me a reassuring hug in parting in the entryway of my room that I realized time had been passing. My thoughts had been too focused on Jin.
I couldn't hate him, no matter how hard I tried.
"I'll be back in the morning, Hwoarang. You should sleep." Xiaoyu surprised me by going on tip-toe to lightly place a kiss on my cheek. I looked at her in my surprise, knowing my amber eyes must have been the size of dinner plates. She just giggled. "I'm going to go look for Jin. He might not be here yet, though... I mean, his apartment is so close, he might just stay there. Just... don't get in any fights while I'm gone, okay?" Xiaoyu blew me a kiss as she scampered off to the elevators to do what she'd promised.
I looked down to my hand and saw there was a key card pressed into my right fist. Oh yeah, my room. I turned, swiping the card, and went into the room, fairly impressed by the facilities. It was far ritzier than Jin's apartment and even included a small training area. Mishima Heihachi had really outdone himself this time. I threw my bag on the bed that was far too large for just one person, and stepped out onto the verandah. I smiled, proud that the view wasn't going to bother me because it was the second level. Looking over the edge, I was proved horribly wrong. We were seaside and the sheer drop of a cliff lay right beneath my balcony. I scampered back into the room, closed the sliding glass, and drew the curtains, breathing rapidly.
So much for a nice view.
Jin would like it, I mused. I really needed to clear my head. I made my way to the bathroom in the now much darker room and started running hot water while I went back to grab my shampoo. Stripping quickly, I stepped into the water and almost recoiled from the heat before settling in, enjoying the rose color my skin turned under the spray of water.
I opened the shampoo bottle, pouring some into one hand, and smiled slightly. My shampoo smelled like strawberries, sweet yet tart, unlike the minty cold smell of Jin's shampoo. I ran my fingers through my hair, getting the shampoo to lather in my hair and hummed to myself as I rinsed it back out. The water met my face and over-sensitive neck and I smiled more into the flow of water. Nothing like a hot shower to make me feel better. Of course, it would always bring back memories.
It was the first night I was staying with him, before we were sleeping together. "Hwoarang, have you seen my razor? I can't seem to find it, and I've looked everywhere." Jin turned to me, blushing terribly as he realized what he'd just walked in on. I was in the process of wrapping a towel around my still dripping body, looking at Jin curiously as I pulled it that little bit tighter to make sure it would stay secure.
"No, I haven't," I replied, turning to face the mirror and running my hands through my hair to lightly spike it again with the water so I didn't look like a wet dog. "You can use mine, if you need to... Kazama?" I blinked a couple times, surprised to see that Jin had completely vanished, leaving the bathroom door open. I slipped into one of his over-sized robes and found him huddled on the couch in the living room. "You okay?"
"I'm sorry I intruded, Hwoarang." He was blushing from head to toe, if that is possible.
I just looked at him. What did it even matter? We were both guys, it's not like it was something he hadn't seen before. Then I thought about it, looking at the blushing figure holding his knees to his chest on the couch. It was something he hadn't seen before, and maybe it was something that also caught his eye. I logged the thought away for future reference and shrugged. "Whatever, I don't care. Did you find your razor?" Jin nodded stiffly. "Oh, okay then." I went back to get dressed, thinking I would just have to omit the pajama top that night and see if Jin reacted differently.
I was toweling off and finishing with my hair when a sad smile hit my face. Jin was so childish when he was embarrassed, it was almost hard to not find it endearing. No matter how hard I tried, I had to admit, he was going to be hard to get over. I got dressed, ignoring the thoughts that betrayed me. It wasn't until I met my eyes in the mirror again that it hit me.
"I never noticed before... but from this close, I can tell your right eye actually has more brown in it than the left one," Jin commented, as he drew away from kissing me on the balcony.
I shook my head violently, clearing that thought, and went back to my duffel bag on the bed to unpack. I hung my clothes in the closet, which didn't take long, and put my shoes at the bottom of the closet. I then started pulling out the little things that I had around for comfort, really. Most of it was stuff I'd had while growing up in Korea. There were some pictures, my dog tags, basically everything I could really call mine except one thing was missing. Fuck.
I tore through my pockets, my clothes, the duffel, and the entire room that I had inhabited for all of ten minutes and still could not find the item I sought. A sinking feeling in my stomach told me that there was only one possibility left. I almost felt like I would vomit considering it.
Baek's locket, my most prized and incriminating possession was missing, and there was only one place it could possibly be. I flopped helplessly back on the bed. I had to get that locket back, and there was only one way to do it. Face Jin and win, or lose and admit to my defeat.
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