DISCLAIMER: Me don’t own Tekken, k?
Art of Fighting
Chapter 8 - Almost Time For A Party
I never really liked cemeteries. They always reminded me of, well, death. Of course that would be the most obvious thing, but they also brought a sense of dread and guilt over me. Whenever I saw a tombstone, I would stop and wonder—even if I didn’t know the person—what had happened to them and if they were loved or missed. Then my imagination would often get the best of me and I found myself depressed by my thoughts. I guess that was what kept me from visiting my mother’s grave all these long years. I was too afraid of the memories it would wash up—the pain and sadness I experienced. Sighing, I bowed my head low and let my fingers wander over the smooth stone. It was still hard for me to believe that my mother wasn’t alive. I looked at the name inscribed onto the cold stone and felt a pang in my heart. I was a horrible son.
“I’m sorry, mother. I wish I could have been stronger for you…I wish I could have saved you…” I found myself murmuring unconsciously. I shook my head and closed my eyes. God, how stupid I must have sounded. Cemeteries…also known as guilt trip extraordinaire. Outwardly, I laughed but inside, I was falling. I glanced at my mother’s grave once more. I should really leave. I didn’t belong in this place for the dead. I didn’t even know why the hell I bothered in following Hwoarang. I should have known it would be a doomed trip. Yet here I am, damned Jin, standing in the middle of a cemetery while cursing my head off.
Suddenly a loud snap jarred me out of my thoughts. “That’s disrespectful,” I automatically said as Hwoarang leaned against one of the graves. He blinked at me before standing upright, shrugging.
“Whatever,” he replied nonchalantly.
I sighed and ripped my gaze away from my mother’s grave and turned around to fully face him. “So…you’re done?” I inquired while walking up to him. Hwoarang stared at me curiously before nodding silently. He walked past me towards the gates and I followed him.
I guess you could say it was a quiet walk back home. Hwoarang and I walked side by side without saying a word and somehow I managed not to get nervous. If anything the walk was actually—pleasant. Of course I managed to scratch that thought out by the time we arrived back at my apartment. As I fumbled with my keys, I felt Hwoarang’s gaze on me from behind. I blinked and my keys slipped through my hand and fell with a loud clank onto the floor. I reached down to get them, but Hwoarang was faster and he handed them to me without a word. Barely even whispering thanks I unlocked the door and turned on the lights.
I didn’t know how the situation got so awkward, but as I turned to face him, that was exactly how I felt. “Where do you live?” I was amazed that my voice came out as steady as it did. Hwoarang looked at me silently.
“Around,” he replied. I found myself growing exasperated.
“And around is what exactly?” I retorted, trying not to sound too annoyed. But I think Hwoarang was finding amusement in all this as his face broke into a smirk. He didn’t answer me and I glared at him annoyingly. Finally he blinked and shifted over to his other foot.
“Nagano,” he answered simply. I arched an eyebrow.
“The very same one.”
Somehow I didn’t know why I was so surprised. He could get home easily by taking the train. At least now I didn’t have to feel guilty about him living far away and having a long trip back. I looked at him for a moment. He was just staring at me again. Sometimes I have to wonder what he’s thinking. Other times…I really didn’t want to know. “Well, have a safe trip home then,” I remarked as casually as I could muster. But there was just something in the way I spoke that sounded too…grandma-ish. God, I was a retard. I watched Hwoarang as he arched an eyebrow. Apparently, he must have thought I sounded like a grandma as well.
“Yeah…night, Jin,” he said with a quick wave before stepping back from my door and began heading down to the elevator. I sighed and was about to close the door when I just got the sudden urge to poke my head out. I didn’t know why, but I just did and when I looked at my door, I saw Hwoarang already about to enter the elevator.
“It was fun today. We should do it more often,” I called out. Lord, where did that come from? I think I was feeling the guilt from not saying anything during our walk. Our little escapade wasn’t really that bad after all… I learned a lot more about Hwoarang—and Steve—than I ever thought I could know.
But I think I caught Hwoarang off guard by that remark because he turned around rather abruptly with this look of surprise on his face. I began to scold myself.
“Really? Well, then don’t be surprised if we come over again later today,” he commented with a grin as he made his final leave into the elevator.
I heard the doors slide closed and leaned against my door in wonder. After a few seconds, I finally entered my empty apartment for a final night’s rest. I believe that was quite possibly the first time I ever saw Hwoarang smile at me. I mean he’s smiled at me before, but never that openly as he did at the elevator. It was actually kind of…nice. Shaking my head, I lied down on my sofa. Was I kidding myself? Did I actually think that?? Maybe I was beginning to go insane. But as long as Hwoarang’s by my side, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad going insane.
Another week passed and, well, there were a lot of visits from Hwoarang and Steve. I never knew how it felt like to be annoyed by someone always being there until now. I still didn’t know what their definition of “help” was but all they were giving me was a headache from the early wakeup calls and late night “adventures” as Steve called them. There was one positive thing about this, though. I got to know a lot more about Steve and Hwoarang and they, in turn, got to know more about me.
I found myself sharing some past experiences with them and the little pranks I pulled off in school when I younger—some rather embarrassing and I often regretted telling those to them when they burst into crazy fits of laughter. I suppose this cancelled all the negatives of the experience. I was actually getting to know them. I’ve known Xiaoyu and Julia for a while but I still didn’t know what their favorite food was or their favorite writer or singer. It kind of brought me to shock, actually, at how little I knew about them when they were supposed to be my closest friends.
It was still all a bit crazy, though. Sighing, I leaned back in my chair and stared up at my ceiling. My blank, white, dull, ceiling…maybe I should put something on it. I frowned slightly and asked myself: what could I decorate a ceiling with? Posters were a possibility but of what? My favorite movie?? Singer?? At the mention of music, I immediately thought of Hwoarang. How he got me into American rock music I will never know but he did and now I was hooked. Of course, half the artists I still can’t even say their names because Hwoarang said them too fast for me to learn. But the music was…relaxing in an ironic way considering it was loud and pretty heavy. I found I liked listening to the lyrics, though I couldn’t understand them. I could amuse myself by filling in my own lyrics and singing it along to the tune. Hwoarang actually memorized all those lyrics of practically every song he owned and I was amazed—especially since he didn’t even know how to speak English.
“Hey yo!! Jin, you in there??”
Ah, Steve. Blinking, I drew myself up from the chair and went straight to the door where I saw a smiling Steve waving at me with a bag by his side. I first smiled at him before glancing at the bag. “What is that?” I inquired curiously. Steve winked at me before rushing in. I shook my head and closed the door quietly. I was surprised. Usually Hwoarang accompanied Steve. They usually never came over without the other.
I entered my living room to see Steve relaxing on the couch with his legs laid out before him and one of my cans of soda in his hand. I smiled at the scene. One week and already they turned my apartment into a second home…
“Heh, that’s why I’m here.”
Arching my eyebrow, I sat down across from him and eyed him inquiringly. Steve merely downed the drink before sitting up, his legs landing hard on the floor with a thump as he stared at me seriously.
“It’s his birthday today.”
I was a bit surprised, yes. I never even thought Hwoarang would have such a late birthday. I blinked several times before looking at the bag beside Steve. “So is that for him?” I asked. Steve nodded before picking the bag up and pulling out a thin black box with a silver ribbon tied loosely around it. Steve untied the ribbon and pulled the lid off and showed me what was inside and I couldn’t help but laugh.
It was a picture frame with, not surprisingly, a picture of all three of us when we went out to Rainbow Bridge one late night. We had managed to find someone to take the picture and I was surprised at how nice it turned out. It was in black and white and all three of us were standing tall, Hwoarang in the middle with both his arms around Steve and I. We were wearing out coats and behind us was a spectacular view of the bridge and the city. My compliments to that stranger who took this…
“It’s nice,” I said simply as Steve looked at me hopefully. He grinned and put it back into the box and sighed.
“Yeah well, I had to steal Hwoarang’s film to get this little number and then I had to enlarge it. You know that film lady at the store tortured me? She was trying to get my number and all while I waited for the picture!! He had better appreciate it!” he exclaimed loudly, “But then again, I am a lady’s man after all.”
I snickered at Steve’s last comment, which goes to show how relaxed I’ve become around him. A month ago, I would have just nodded and managed a small smile. Now I was just doing all sorts of crazy things with him and Hwoarang. Next thing you knew, we would be skydiving. But as I looked at Steve’s gift, I got a thought. “I don’t have anything for Hwoarang,” I said aloud.
Steve looked at me in surprise before smiling slowly. “Don’t worry about it,” he said lightly, though his tone was a bit suspicious. I stared at him for a while before he started chuckling. “Sorry, it’s just that it’s cute to see you worried about not having anything for Hwoarang’s birthday when you just found out about it,” he remarked coolly, though his eyes were laughing. I frowned slightly but decided to ignore Steve’s comment.
“What does Hwoarang like?”
“Oh come on, man! Don’t you know by now??”
All right, I wasn’t thinking. Turning red slightly, I pondered the answers quietly. Hwoarang was a picture freak and he even went to those art conventions and such. Steve’s gift was most definitely a good one and I couldn’t help but wonder what I could give that could even match up to it.
“Hwoarang’s a real sentimental fool, just to let you know. He may not look like it because the old bloke’s too stubborn to show it,” Steve commented helpfully. I looked at him and smiled slightly.
A sentimental type?? No, Hwoarang definitely didn’t look like the type. But that did give me some ideas… “You think he would like a poem??” I suggested weakly. Steve stared at me for a moment.
“From you?? Definitely.”
That answer made me smile more openly and I began to think up of ideas for a poem. I didn’t write too often and my poems were often depressing but I think I would be able to manage a more light-hearted one for Hwoarang’s birthday. I looked at Steve again before hardening my gaze.
“So leave. I can’t think when you’re here. I need some alone time to be able to write.”
“Well, if that’s how it is!” Steve said in a huff as he stood up loudly and picked up his bag. He turned around quickly and walked to the door where he swung it open. I grinned at his actions.
“You don’t need to break the goddamn door you know.”
Steve turned around and wore what appeared to be a scowl until it melted away to a wide grin. With a cheery wave, he began his leave. “See you in a bit, mate! Come over to Hwoarang’s place at six, all right? We’re having dinner,” he called out as he closed the door lightly.
Smiling, I walked to my room where I sat down in front of my computer. I stared at it for a while before resting my hands at the keyboard. The white screen just stared at me and I found myself growing frustrated by its glare. With a sigh, I soon began typing in words.
Cool breeze and autumn leaves
Slow motion daylight
A lone pair of watchful eyes
Oversee the living
Feel the presence all around
A tortured soul
A wound unhealing
No regrets or promises
The past is gone
But you can still be free
If time will set you free
Time now to spread your wings
To take to flight
The life endeavor
Aim for the burning sun
You’re trapped inside
But you can still be free
If time will set you free
But it’s a long long way to go
Keep moving way up high
You see the light
It shines forever
Sail through the crimson skies
The purest light
The light that sets you free
If time will set you free
Sail through the wind and rain tonight
You’re free to fly tonight
And you can still be free
If time will set you free
And going higher than mountain tops
And go high the wind don’t stop
And go high
Free to fly tonight
Free to fly tonight
Staring at the screen, I debated my words. Originally I intended to write something a little more in the friendship lines but then once I began typing, a whole new topic was born. Reading the lines to myself, I smiled slightly. Hopefully Hwoarang wouldn’t think it was too cheesy or anything like that. It was more for inspiration purposes. And as Steve said, “He’d better appreciate it!” Smiling in satisfaction, I saved the document and resumed in printing it out. I briefly remembered Hwoarang telling me green was his favorite color so the poem was decked out in a rich emerald tone.
And once again I found myself staring up at the ceiling and thought to myself. Sorry, it’s just that it’s cute to see you worried about not having anything for Hwoarang’s birthday when you just found out about it. What had Steve meant by that?? There was definitely more meaning in that statement than he let on. But he was right in a way. As soon as I found it was Hwoarang’s birthday, I began worrying about what to get him. I’ve only gotten to know the guy really in the past few weeks!
But we’ve had a long, long, history together.
Worst rival turned good friend, how ironic is that? But my life was full of irony. I turned my gaze to the frame beside my bed and stared long at it. The picture was of mother and me. I was only about a year old in that picture and my mother was seen smiling and laughing. I think it was one of her old friends that took the picture. It was one of the few I had of her. Then, glancing around my desk, I spotted several small frames with pictures of Xiaoyu, Julia, and some newly acquired pictures of Hwoarang, Steve, and me. I noticed, with a grin, that those were the only ones in black and white. Hwoarang insisted on using that film despite their price, but the effects were nice. I looked through his portfolio once and was stunned by the scenery pictures he had and of the ones he took of strangers doing their own thing in the city. I was pretty much convinced Hwoarang could have been a photographer in another life. He laughed when I said that, though a thoughtful look was in his eyes.
Those two really are changing me.
And I thought I wasn’t getting any better? Strange how almost a day passed by and I didn’t think of any sad thoughts or feel any for that matter. Maybe the “dynamic duo” really do have a solution in their hands. But I still couldn’t ignore that feeling of wanting to curl into a corner and just want everyone to leave me alone. It’s a feeling of hiding from everyone that I’ve gotten so used to. It scares me to be this open to them yet it reassures me at the same time. My trust isn’t given out very freely. Part of me still feared they would use me in some way or another. But that’s just paranoia. I can’t imagine Steve or Hwoarang doing that—especially Hwoarang. I know he’s too proud of a fighter and a man to do that. But it’s always that question: what if? I smiled bitterly. Oh yeah, that question definitely haunted my mind.
Automatically I reach out my hand and pick up the phone by my desk and answer with, “Jin here.” I hear a chuckle on the other end and am surprised that it’s from a female. Wrestling with myself, I finally think of a name. “Julia?”
“Hey, Jin. Long time no talk,” I heard her say brightly. I could just imagine the smile on her face from wherever she was. I nodded absentmindedly as I leaned back in my chair again.
“Yeah…so how’s everything?” Small talk, small talk. I just can’t seem to loosen up around her the way I can around Steve and Hwoarang. Julia laughs again and I wonder loosely why she is.
“Jin, I think it’s good you’re hanging out with Steve and Hwoarang more.”
I was so surprised that my words came out flat. Another laugh is sounded.
“Yeah! You were always distant with Xiaoyu and me. I guess it’s a boy thing, huh? Or perhaps something more…?” Julia remarked, her voice in a drawl at the last question.
I was mortified.
“Something more??” I repeated faintly, “No, there’s nothing more, Julia. We’re just friends.” My voice was weak and I knew I didn’t sound very convincing and Julia’s comment only reinforced that thought.
“Right, yeah, uh huh.”
I smacked my head with my hand. “No, I’m serious!” I cried out. Now I really was beginning to sound pathetic. First Steve is hinting off something and now Julia! What is wrong with everyone today??
“I think you and Hwoarang would be wonderful together.”
At that comment I nearly fall out of my chair but manage to only grip onto the phone tightly. I am thinking that it will break soon because I am holding it so tightly. “Julia, it isn’t like that at all. I mean it,” I say steadily. Julia snorts and I groan quietly.
“Sure, Jin. So what did you get for Hwoarang’s birthday?”
“I wrote a poem,” I muttered, praying she wouldn’t start making assumptions of it being some sort of love poem.
“Excellent! That was thoughtful. I really didn’t know what to get him so I bought him a suit,” Julia commented, her tone light and wondering. I couldn’t resist my laughter as I repeated her answer.
“Well yeah! I’m guessing Hwoarang doesn’t have any so I got a nice black suit with a silver tie for him! It was really cheap considering I bought it at a thrift shop. You think he’ll like it??” Julia remarked.
I smiled slightly and nodded to myself. “Yeah. But I don’t know if he’ll ever wear it,” I answered and Julia began laughing immediately. I cocked my head to the side in surprise.
“Thanks Jin. You know, you sound better,” she said, “You’re not as serious and dead like you usually are. I think hanging out with those crazy nuts is beginning to cause a wear down on you.”
I blinked several times. “Oh?? Is that good?”
“Oh yes, of course!! I mean you were fine before but it’s nice to hear more of an input from you,” Julia said lightly, as if she were smiling. I stared at the phone for a bit. Was I really that quiet before?? Hmm…
“So you and Xiaoyu are going to the dinner?” I queried. To be quite frank, I had thought it would just be Steve, Hwoarang, and me. But if Xiaoyu and Julia came that would be good, too. Suddenly my longing to hide was fading away at that moment.
“Yup. So I have to get ready now. I’ll see you then, Jin!!”
Grinning, I nodded. “Sure, Julia. Bye,” I said before I placed the phone back in its cradle. Looking at the clock, I was stunned to see it was five o’ clock. Time did pass by quickly. Standing up, I stretched and took the poem from the printer and placed it in a folder and tied it with a blue string before heading to the closet to select my clothes. Knowing Julia and Xiaoyu, it would probably be a long night.
And for once, I didn’t mind.
Okay, so that was long and tedious…and a lot of input from Jin’s perspective! The next part is definitely going to be starring Hwoarang’s POV, after all, he is the birthday boy! Oh yeah, and I’m not exactly sure when Hwoarang’s birthday was so I just made it in December. Sorry! I guess this makes the story kind of AU-ish?? Ah wells…
But wasn’t it nice to see Jin so uncharacteristically cheerful??
And another note: (you’re probably annoyed with me now) many apologies for the long delay in getting this out. My computer had this weird sort of virus in it. Well, it wasn’t really a virus but every time I went online, it restarted after a few seconds so that kind of pissed me off. But luckily, it’s all right now. Damn Verizon! ßOops, ignore that… ^^;; Anyhow, next part will be up soon!! Kindly review?? You know I’m such a review hog. I love them. Seriously.
Third note: (gosh, I never had this many notes before!) the poem is a wonderful song called, “You Can Still Be Free” by Savage Garden. What a great group, honestly… Oh yeah, and did anyone else experience that oh-so dreadful blackout on Aug. 14?? Okay, now I’m just babbling but I was just curious. I live in New York and that blackout was really amazing. I might even include something like it in this story!! All right…enough. For those of you still reading this, damn, kudos to you!
Last note: Hi to you, too MissDbzMedabots! Yes, I got your email and thanks for reading! ^.~ Hoped you liked this chap as well!
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