Author's Note: Yes, another chapter up. Sorry it took me so long to put it up but I was a bit lazy. If it ever takes me a long time to put a chapter up, it is mainly because of that fact. Only rarely do I have an actual excuse. Hehe, well, thanks for the people who reviewed and letís get on with the story!

DISCLAIMER: Me donít own Tekken, k?


Art of Fighting

Chapter 3 - The Game Of Life

By Prosopopeia


I wonder to myself as we walked on. Xiaoyu and Julia were talking with Steve and loudly, too.

"So then I tell my mum, what do you mean?? I haven't a cat!!"

I smiled slightly at Steve's story. He really was quite the talker, thank goodness. Talking to other people nicely was definitely not my specialty. Bless him for being so patient, too. If he wasn't, we probably wouldn't be as close as we are today.

"Did you eventually get a cat??"

I glanced in Kazama's direction. Ah, yes, my so-called rival. Now I'm not so sure. Last time I saw him, I was surprised when I was struck by that vengeance I usually got whenever I saw him. Instead, I saw a miserable and depressed fighter. And even I wouldn't pick on someone when they weren't at their best. It was very cowardly.

"No, mum to this day makes sure I don't. She's frightfully allergic to them."

I almost laugh at the bitterness in Steve's voice. Till this day his mother remains ever watchful over him. I do envy him, though. At least he had someone who cared over him. I don't even know my own parents or if they're even alive. And Baek Do San...he was the only real father I ever had and now he was gone, too. It's enough to make me bitter throughout my entire life.

But then Steve came to me like wind to the sea. With him came jokes, laughs, and hope for the future. I'll admit if Steve never came along, I probably wouldn't have even talked to Xiaoyu and most likely wouldn't be here right now. I frown slightly to myself. I probably wouldn't have gotten so soft either.

Sometimes I wonder if I am the same Hwoarang from two years ago: vengeful, hot-tempered, and arrogant. Oh, I know I still have those qualities but I've learned patience, understanding, and modesty since then. So they balance each other out. But I'll never be as nice as Steve is, though. That I know for a fact.

"Where are we heading??"

I had to ask. Ten minutes of walking and not a single mention of where we were going did bother me slightly. I was used to knowing where I was walking.

Xiaoyu glanced at me and waved her finger mockingly at me.

"Ah, ah, ah, you'll find out soon enough!" she teased, winking at me. I rolled my eyes, but the exasperation I showed was nothing but a fake and she knew it. She was always the sweetheart in the group. I had never met a girl so sweet and innocent as she who could fight so viciously at the same time. Life was full of surprises I suppose.

I felt someone staring at me and turn my head slightly to the left. I see Kazama looking at me strangely. I smile to myself and turn to look at him fully. He jumps slightly and I arched an eyebrow.

"Anything worth watching, Jinny??" I mock, indenting my voice to sound sweet.

He grunted and quickly looked away. I almost laugh. Luckily the others were ahead of us so they didn't hear a single word. I knew Steve would start interrogating me. He was too curious for his own good sometimes...err...more like every time.

I glanced over at him again and this time his hands are pushed down into his pockets and he wore a grim expression as he stared emptily down the street. I frowned to myself. So I was curious, too, but why was he so down?? I would ask, but then the possibilities of him answering me would be one out of a million. Perhaps Xiaoyu could ask for me. But then she doesn't seem to notice his behavior and I don't want to worry her.

Ah, Jinny-boy, what am I going to do with you??


Hwoarang's question really shouldn't have surprised me like it had. I was used to his remarks by now, but there was something about the way he said it and looked when he said it that made me almost laugh. I had to look the other way quickly in order to hide my smile. That Korean kid was catching onto me too quickly. Strange how he of all people could see the change in me when Xiaoyu, my closest friend, didn't.

I sighed and tried to clear my head rid of the thoughts on Hwoarang. He was just weird in that way.

"Hey, Jin! Why so quiet??"

I glanced up and saw Julia stopping to meet with my pace. I sighed.

"No good reason," I replied. She continued walking by my side, a small frown on her lips. I immediately began to cover up my mistake. "I mean, I'm just wondering where Xiaoyu's leading us. I'm not sure if I can trust her," I said, adding the last sentence to lighten the mood.

She bought it and grinned.

"She didn't tell you, huh?? Well, it's more of a surprise to Hwoarang and Steve, so I guess I can tell you," she wonder aloud, leaning in closer to my ear. I lowered my head.

"We're going to the beach," she whispered.

I almost froze in my steps before looking at her strangely.

"But it's like...freezing cold now..." I stuttered. She giggled and nodded. "That's the whole point. Xiaoyu knows Hwoarang and Steve love going to the beach so that's where we're going. Since it's so cold, nobody will be there! It's perfect!" she exclaimed excitedly.

I stared at her in mild surprise. The beach...of course...now I remember this path. Xiaoyu took us their once before during the summertime when everything was hot and sizzling. Now everything was covered in a thin layer of snow and the air was brittle.

I watched as Julia bounded towards Xiaoyu to whisper something in her ear. The two burst into laughter a second later with a confused Steve staring at them. Hwoarang still walked behind me. I couldn't feel his gaze on me, but I was so sure he was watching me. He unnerved me sometimes. Yet I don't understand why I let it bother me now.

"Kazama...about my question the other day, did you ever get any help?? It certainly doesn't seem like it."

His voice pierces my ears. It's sharp and holds no mocking, but seriousness surprisingly. I turn around and see him looking at me stoically. I am almost speechless.

"Why do you care so much?"

Amazingly enough I managed to get that question out into the open. But then he'll probably answer with that "you're a shame to all fighters" shit again like last time.

"Why don't you care?"

I am truly struck speechless by his response this time. Struggling with words, I repeated his words in my head. Why didn't I care?? Of course I cared... Or was I kidding myself??

"So the revelation begins," I hear Hwoarang remark so quietly that I almost didn't catch it.

I registered his words and glared at him angrily.

"How would you know what I'm going through?? You don't even know me!" I snapped, trying to keep my voice down. I didn't want Xiaoyu or the others to catch on. His gaze on me hardens.

"Just because Xiaoyu and Julia are oblivious to your slump, doesn't mean I am. And I don't have to know shit about you to see that you're miserable. It's written plainly and openly in your eyes and even by the way you walk," he replied. His voice was so toneless that I wasn't even sure if he was angry or not.

But the fiery look I got in his eyes answered my question.

"I don't want your sympathy, Hwoarang," I mumbled back. I heard him grunt before he grabbed my arm, forcing me to look into his eyes. I was rewarded with a hot glare.

"Listen, I was never giving you my sympathy, Kazama. Don't ever think that. I don't give it out very openly like Xiaoyu or Julia. You're really pathetic to look at you know. What ever happened to your honor? No, I'm just warning you, if you won't change your attitude soon, I'm going to have to force you to," he hissed. "And trust me, you don't want me to do that," he added, releasing his grip.

I winced slightly at my sore arm and rubbed it while looking into Hwoarang's eyes.

"No, I guess not," I replied coldly.

He gave me one last cold look before walking up to Steve. I watched as the two immediately detached from Xiaoyu and Julia to engage on their own conversation. I let out the air I was holding in to calm myself. What was Hwoarang thinking?? Was he trying to be some kind of guru or something?? And he didn't have to hold my arm so tightly...

"Jin!!! Don't walk by yourself! Come over here!!" shouted Xiaoyu. I saw Hwoarang glance at me in the corner of my eye before I gathered up my nerves and walked over to the two chatting girls. Xiaoyu grabbed my arm and held onto it as she listened to the story Julia was telling.

I half listened and half tried to listen in on Hwoarang and Steve's conversation.

But that proved useless.


"Aye, I can see it in his eyes, too."

I glanced at Steve and smiled slightly. I could always rely on him for support. It was plainly obvious that Kazama was depressed. Although I have to wonder why I was worrying about it so much. I mean he is my rival isn't he?? Well, I suppose that was quite a while ago, but let's face it. He and I never did get along straight from the beginning. He is onion and I am the mouth. The two do not go together.

I frowned slightly. Not exactly the best example...but it is sort of the same.

"I think he's tryin' to listen in on us," I heard him mutter in my ear. I glanced at Kazama from my left and smirked slightly. So he was trying to eavesdrop on us, eh?? Guess he was curious after all.

I leaned in closer to Steve.

"He'll probably walk away after a few more minutes. I know him," I replied, snickering.

And I was correct. I could hear Steve chuckle when he did so. Made me wonder...

"He's a little snoop ain't he?? I wonder why he was so interested," he murmured. I shrugged. "The guy's a bit mentally unstable right now. Who knows what he's thinking?" I remarked bitterly.

I didn't even have to look at Steve to know that he was giving me that humorless stare. So I was a little hard on the guy, who cares? He has to start getting his act together as much as it pains me to admit so. He's a good fighter and I don't want my only rival to die out like this.

"If I didn't know any better, I'd say you'd be fond find of him."

I fixed Steve with my own glare.

"Luckily you do know better," I mutter back. He loved saying things like that didn't he?? It never fails. I say I'm going to meet up Xiaoyu for a jog, he says, "Hope that's the only thing you guys will do." I ask Julia to help me find a birthday gift for him and he, though much more appreciative, still says, "Ah, yes, you needed that woman's touch, eh??"

And he's much more perverted than most people would think him to be.

"Um, exactly when are we getting to the place we're going???" I asked, the question lingering on my mind ever since we got out of the house. Xiaoyu turned and frowned at me.

"It's a surprise!"

I rolled my eyes and push my hands even further into my pockets. It's fucking cold and I don't understand how she and Julia could still be smiling.

"It's your birthday, aren't we supposed to be treating you???" I replied, frowning slightly. Yes, as much as I loved winter, walking for almost an hour in it does drive one's mind a little off the edge.

And she's still giving me that little glint in her eyes...as if she knows something I don't. Maybe she does...

"We're almost there, Hwoarang. Cool your horses," she said, eyeing me down. I glared at her and could feel Steve's gaze on me, too. "My horses are cool," I remarked. "In fact they're frozen!" I exclaimed after her. Sh just rolled her eyes and turned to face Julia again.

I rolled my eyes, too.

Girls...

"You ought to calm down, mate. I'm sure she wouldn't be leading us to anywhere we wouldn't like!"

And there goes Steve's voice of reasoning. I guess he's right. Xiaoyu wouldn't do something like that...hopefully. No, that lingered more to my side. I was more of the practical joker than she was. But fuck, why did she have to pick the coldest day of the year???

"I wonder what's in their bags."

I glanced at Steve and noticed his attention was drawn to the bright green bag Julia and Xiaoyu were holding. The fact that they were exactly the same couldn't be a mere coincidence.

Hm...that doesn't make me feel any better either.


The beach...God, I could laugh.

It was Xiaoyu's birthday and here she was treating Steve and me. I felt guilty now. As soon as we got there, I could hear the waves crashing against the shoreline and I immediately knew where she brought us. It was...quite the surprise. I felt like I could kiss Xiaoyu, but I didn't.

"So?? You two were always talking about the beaches being too crowded during summer so here we are! Not a single soul in sight!" she exclaimed, waving her arms.

Steve chuckled.

"Well, I must admit, it is a big surprise. But I'm not complaining!" he exclaimed, glancing around the bare sands. There wasn't a single footprint or tire mark, only ripples made by the wind. It was covered in a thin layer of snow, too.

Suddenly he burst into a run towards the water and I blanched. He wasn't going to... Nah, it's too cold...

"C'mon, Hwoarang! The water's freezing!"

My eyes widened at his comment.

"Yeah, isn't that why we won't go into the water???" I replied, staring at Steve's form closely. He was lingering at the edge of the shoreline and when the tide broke in, I saw him jump back slightly, laughing.

"It's quite the refresher, though!" he exclaimed, running back to me, wiping his hands on his coat. I watched as he hastily buried them into his pockets again and smirked. "Yeah, as long as you don't get frostbite, which I'm sure you will after only three minutes," I remarked, arching an eyebrow.

Steve was weird sometimes.

"Hwoarang, Steve, up for a game??"

Both of us looked behind us to see Xiaoyu holding up a Frisbee. I glanced at Steve and he was grinning at me. I nodded and then we turned back to Xiaoyu, accepting the challenge.

"Fine with us."


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