Summary: Hwoarang begins to understand how to use his powers, and realizes that it's time to leave his friends to pay a visit to Jin.
Feedback: Comments are welcome; constructive or positive. Flames are nice too because they make for something to laugh at and keep my feet toasty.
Special Thanks: To my beta Kat for betaing everything I send her, and listening to me talk her ear off about this thing.
Disclaimer: The characters found here *do not* belong to me. The story itself *does* belong to me. I am making no profit from this endeavour.
Notes: Moon's semi-feelings for Hwoarang may seem like they come out of left field, but I had it in mind that she really just wants someone who is BETTER than Rora. Since Hitch likes him, even better. She hasn't necessarily thought that they share enough common interests to start a proper relationship, but rather that he'd be great to keep around for Sun. Well, that and he's hot so it's just worth a shot to invite him to bed too ^_^.
"Angel/Devil's words inside Hwoarang/Jin's head"
Please see the Index for more details and chapter links.
Hwoarang did his best to break the news to Moon gently, but she’d known something was wrong the moment she opened the door and she’d flown off the handle from there. At first she attacked Hwoarang, lunging at him before he caught her fists and pushed her back so he could enter her apartment. He closed the door behind him so that nobody could hear what was going on… clearly.
She seemed to change her mind about attacking him when the door shut and instead began yelling about how her brother wasn’t one to lecture her for her choices in life. The Blood Talon was sure she would have gone on about more descriptive things, but quickly stopped when she saw Sun’s head peeking out from his room. The boy was rubbing the sleep from his eyes, but obviously disturbed by the noise. She seemed to forget her anger and knelt down with her arms outstretched, beckoning him to hug her. “We’re going to see him,” she said, picking Sun up and turning to Hwoarang.
“You can’t right now,” he said, putting his arms up to diffuse any more insults. “We can go in the morning. Visiting starts at eight, so let’s go there for seven, alright?” He hoped his suggestion would appease her and she’d calm down. He could see the tears forming at the edges of her eyes and she frowned, rubbing her temple while cradling Sun against her.
“Y-yeah,” she sighed once she’d had a moment to think. “We can go see that idiot in the morning.”
“Mom, what’s wrong?” Sun finally asked once his mother had calmed down.
She turned to him and smiled. “Ah, Chu had to go to the hospital, but we’re gonna see him in the morning, alright?” The boy nodded, still sleepy but happy. Moon put him down and together they walked to his room where she tucked him in. Hwoarang followed to watch, a pang going through his heart although he couldn’t put his finger on why. He said his goodnights to Sun before they closed the door and Moon turned towards him. “Do you really think he’ll be alright?” she asked rubbing her eyes in frustration.
“Yeah,” he said. “Last I heard, he’ll be up and outta there in no time. It wasn’t anything serious, so don’t worry,” he lied. She narrowed her eyes a fraction before relaxing them and turning away.
“Hwoarang?” she asked, keeping her back turned. “Would you… mind staying with us until the morning? I just… I can’t handle being alone here right now, y’know?”
“S-sure…” his voice caught in his throat as his heart threatened to stop. Past conversations he’d had with her began to replay in his mind on fast-forward and he tried to figure out if her request meant anything more than what she said it was. He knew that she still had a connection with Rora, but it seemed that she kept in contact with him for Sun's benefit. The slimy deadbeat may have still wanted to pursue a relationship with her - even just a physical one - but she had no such thoughts for him. Hwoarang thought about it for a minute before finally giving up and taking it at face-value. He followed her out to the balcony, pulling a pack of cigarettes from under his sleeve and withdrawing two of the slender sticks from the package, placing one between his lips and offering the other to Moon.
She eyed the smoke for a moment before taking it, holding it between her fingers for a moment before the flame of Hwoarang’s lighter prompted her to light it properly. “Thanks,” she mumbled around the cigarette. “I fucking hate these things, but that’s life, right?” she inhaled a lungful of smoke without as much as a cough.
Hwoarang sat heavily in one of the chairs, looking out over the city. Moon said very little to him, and Hwoarang didn’t mind. He was just starting to come out of shock and was grateful for the quiet moment where he could collect his thoughts. He’d failed to help Hitch. He might have stopped the bleeding, but in the end he’d failed. He needed to get stronger!
He stared off into the sky for a long while, letting his cigarette burn to ash and fall from his fingers to the cement balcony. His thoughts were disturbed by Moon’s voice as she rose from her seat. “You coming to bed?” she asked, as casually as a lover would.
“Uhhh,” Hwoarang mumbled before reaching for his smokes. “One more, then I’m in. Is the… couch…?”
The look in her eyes betrayed her nonchalant shrug and she turned and left the redhead alone. He breathed a sigh of relief when she didn’t pursue the conversation. There were so many reasons why he wouldn’t take her up on her offer; the primary one being that he wanted to see Jin, he’d promised Jun that he would and he always kept his promises. He liked Moon well enough, but the notion of a tryst with her set his stomach on edge; it just wouldn’t be done.
He checked his watch and frowned at the time before snubbing his smoke out. He didn’t know if he could actually get to sleep, but his body was so weary it was worth a shot. He pushed himself to stand and walked into the apartment. He let himself fall onto the couch and covered himself in blankets while burying his face in the pillows. It was only a minute or two before even that succumbed to exhaustion as well.
He’d only started the vague outline of a dream. He didn’t know what it was about, but it was immediately overshadowed by a presence that was all too familiar to him; it was difficult to lose yourself in your dreams when Jun Kazama was breathing down your neck. She didn’t look too happy and Hwoarang knew he was in for a beating. Even though it was his dream he didn’t have a chance to block her attack as she descended from high above him. He managed to get in a few hits of his own, but in the end she knocked him over and he lay prostrate on the ground while she hovered over him, fists clenched.
“I thought I asked you to save Jin, and you’re hanging out with your friends instead? Let me tell you something; Devil keeps getting stronger and pretty soon there won’t be a Jin left to save!”
“Hey, hey,” Hwoarang tried to calm her down, slowly climbing to his feet when he saw she wouldn’t attack again. “When I broke outta the army base they wouldn’t just forget I was there. I had to find a place to hide out for a while so they couldn’t find me.”
The fire in Jun’s eyes seemed to flicker and she turned from him, putting her hand to her heart. “The longer you wait… you’re a very frustrating man, Hwoarang. It takes a lot of energy to contact you like this. I have to rest for so long afterwards, and when I wake up I find that you’re still in Korea!”
“This is a lot to absorb. You can’t expect me to just snap my fingers and have Angel come out at my whim, can you?”
“Well… yes, I did! But... I guess you can’t use everything just yet,” she sighed. “The army won’t find you if you go to Yakushima. There is a log cabin in the South where Jin is staying right now. It is hidden so that not even the Mishima Zaibatsu can find it.”
“How’d you know what?”
“It’s where I went to raise Jin once his father had been consumed by the evil inside of him. Believe me, you’ll be safe there. If you want I can keep an eye on your commander back in the army, or just watch to see if they’re sending anybody out to get you, although it’s hard to do when I don’t speak Korean. Maybe I could let you know if anybody is sent to Japan. That way you won’t be distracted, right?” Her eyes narrowed and Hwoarang automatically nodded. Her usual calm demeanour seemed to take a drastic turn in the other direction when she grew anxious about her son.
“Alright… Jun. I have to tie up a few things and then I’ll leave.”
He shrugged, “Why not? My friend just got shot, so it’s a good time, right?”
She turned from him and vanished into his dream world. “The longer you wait, the harder Devil will be to defeat,” her voice echoed in his head.
“I’m the one that’s gonna defeat Kazama,” he vowed. “It doesn’t matter how strong Devil gets, because Kazama is mine!” He opened his eyes, waking himself from the dream he’d barely had the chance to start, but already found that he was drenched in sweat. He threw the blankets off his body and checked his watch again. Barely two hours had gone by and he kicked his legs over the edge of the couch and ran a hand through his hair. He needed some air…
The door to the rooftop slammed shut behind him and the Blood Talon hurried to the edge, eager for the gust of wind to rise up from below and hit him in the face. The wind was strong and he closed his eyes, leaning into its caress. He reached for his pack of cigarettes but realized that he’d left them on Moon’s balcony. “Fucking Kazama…” he cursed under his breath. “How the hell am I supposed to do to help him if I can’t even help Hitch?” He balled his fists, flexing his muscles until they started to hurt.
He felt so weak.
The thought of someone else taking over Jin’s body filled him with more anger than he knew he had. That thing was inside him, weakening him. Just like Angel helped Hwoarang to grow, the Devil was tearing Jin down, piece by piece until the man Hwoarang was looking forward to seeing again would be gone and a monster would be left in his place.
The quiet person whom he’d met during his days hustling street-fights in Korea… the one who proved that he wasn’t as tough as he thought… the one who renewed his resolve to train harder and somehow become a better person would be killed by some… some fucking parasite? A genetic defect from his dad?! It wasn’t even a worthy opponent to lose to! His fists shook as his blood began to churn inside him. The more Hwoarang thought about it, the angrier he became. No, it wasn’t anger; it was rage. Wrath. Blind fury that beat from his heart and through his veins as he clearly saw in his mind’s eye what Jin would become if he kept fucking around in Korea.
“F-f-f-FUCK THAT!” he yelled at the top of his lungs to the night sky in answer to the vision. He hopped up onto the ledge of the roof and began pacing along the parameter of the rooftop. It was dangerous, but he needed Angel’s attention. “Listen up, bitch! I need some fucking help to get real strong real fast! I’m done fucking around!” The moment the words were out of his mouth his vision faltered and she was standing beside him. Well, hovering on the wrong side of the ledge.
“I’m so happy to hear that,” she said with an acrid tone. “Follow me,” and she rose into the sky.
Hwoarang watched her, quickly focusing his energies, feeling the light encompass his body and he leapt into the air to follow Angel, his own white wings carrying him to the heavens.
Sunrise was still a few hours away, but the light pollution from the city lit up his way well enough and he met Angel as she hovered just below the cloud-line. She wordlessly motioned for him to follow and she flew back towards the city at an incredible speed – faster than Hwoarang had been able to fly on his own. She led him between the buildings, as if she were testing his skill with his wings. She led him along the mid-sections of the buildings before quickly veering to one side and then bolting up the side of a building. Hwoarang followed, just trying to keep up before he passed her as she stopped just below the roofline of one building. He soared past her and then angled around to meet her again.
Her eyes were dancing with mirth even though the rest of her expression remained impassive. “Did you want to save Hitch?” she asked without preamble, indicating towards the building. “You could have healed him fully. He wouldn’t be at the hospital right now, but your selfish preoccupation with yourself is what keeps you from being able to help.”
Hwoarang’s eyes followed where she was pointing and was shocked to see that Hitch was on the other side, lying in a hospital bed. He looked at the building and realized that she’d led him to the very hospital that the older man had been taken to. He pressed his hands against the window, peering inside at his friend who was hooked up to several machines and blessedly unconscious. “The hell? I wanted to help him!” he finally exclaimed, turning back to Angel.
“You’ve got to let go,” she said. “You follow Jin because your ego was bruised, and all you can think about is proving to yourself that you’re better than him, even though it doesn’t matter. It’s been like that your whole life. Everything is about you. You have to yell so that everyone knows you’re alive. You want Jin to know you exist, so you keep following him and being a distraction when he needs to focus on Devil!”
Hwoarang didn’t say anything. He was so angry he couldn’t even make a sound. He wasn’t simply a distraction from Devil! He wasn’t! He was more than that!
“If you lower your defenses to someone, you might find that not everyone is out to hurt you. If you let them in, you could heal them in ways that angrily yelling could never do.” Angel lowered her head. “I should trust Jun’s judgment in choosing you… but we’re running out of time. You’re supposed to be helping Jin, but how can you do that when you could barely help your friend?”
Hwoarang shook his head irritably. “Lady, laying the guilt trip on me isn’t the way to do it. I’m gonna help Kazama, so just give me the short version of how to do it and I’ll fucking do it. So what if I’m not like Jun, or whoever else would be better for this. I never said I was, and I didn’t exactly ASK for your fucking powers. But since I’ve got them, I’m gonna use them. I want to help Kazama, damnit. I’ll do it my own way, so just get off my fucking back, alright?”
Angel frowned before smiling mischievously. “Very well, Hwoarang. Although I doubt you’d want me to get off your back at this exact moment.” Hwoarang blinked and she was gone, although he was still high in the air beside Hitch’s window. He looked down to the buildings below him and laughed nervously, remembering her way of forcing his trust.
“Alright, you got my attention. What about telling me some secrets of these powers?” he asked while he flew closer to the window, but she was gone again. “Aw, what the…? Fine, be that way.” He grumbled, playing with the window so he could get through. It had been left open so there were no locks barring his path and within moments he was standing at the foot of Hitch’s bed.
The man was hooked in to a heart monitor that gave a rhythmic, reassuring beep every few seconds and Hitch himself didn’t look too bad, except for the bandages across his chest and around his face. Hwoarang got a feeling that the other man was just barely holding on, although he didn’t know how he knew that. It was just a feeling he had. “Hitch? You awake?” he walked along side his friend and leaned over him, not expecting an answer.
The older man said nothing, only giving a faint snore that made Hwoarang grin. He pushed the blankets down his friend’s torso, revealing the padding that was starting to show red, indicating it was due for a change. The nurse would be by soon and Hwoarang quickly removed the bandages so he could get a look at Hitch’s wounds.
Apart from the fresh stitches, his chest was riddled with scar tissue; some small round marks where he’d been shot before, and one particularly long one running from his right side across his belly and up to his left armpit. Hwoarang absently ran a finger along the scar, stopping just short of touching the fresh stitches that still bled around the edges. “Just missed your heart there, huh?” he said to himself. He’d seen many friends die out in the streets, but Hitch was different. He was a hardened thug, someone who’d gone through the same shit that Hwoarang had, if not more. He wasn’t an innocent kid; not like the kind of friends that Hwoarang had lost in his youth. It would just be a matter of time for Hitch before the bullet didn’t miss. It was depressing to think about, and Hwoarang felt very grateful that he’d met Baek when he had. He realized that it could have been him lying there if things had been different. He quickly pushed such thoughts from his mind and focused on the task at hand.
He lightly rested his finger on the first bullet wound. “Alright, I’m gonna heal you, so you’d better appreciate it,” he whispered, poking the wounds more and trying to focus his energy like he used to form his wings, but nothing happened. “Heh, looks like I gotta try harder,” Hwoarang mumbled under his breath and closed his eyes. He stilled his breathing, thinking about the end result he wanted to accomplish. He wasn’t doing it for himself, and it sure as hell wouldn’t help fluff his ego, but he wouldn’t leave without knowing that Hitch would survive. His heart hurt at the thought of Moon being left on her own with Sun and no brother. That thought left a burning sensation in his chest and he focused on it. It was like fire; an angry out-of-control fire that was burning up his grief at the situation. It was overwhelming and he released a shaky breath as he relaxed and it spread throughout his body; arching down to his belly and even further to the base of his spine before firing down his arm towards his fingertips. He cracked an eye open and was shocked to see that his body was burning with a white fire, glassy and beautiful. It was coloured with a clear red that arched along the flame tips and pooled at his hand where he willed the energy to gather. “Freaky…” Hwoarang mumbled as he instinctively opened his hand and pressed the palm full against Hitch’s chest. A smile played across his mouth and he could feel Angel’s powers coursing through him; separate and yet a part of him. He didn’t have to try to heal Hitch; it was second nature. He just did it. He could feel the deep, penetrating wounds close up, the torn edges of flesh knitting together at the surface and then deeper beneath the surface so that when Hwoarang finally let the energy inside him recede, the other man’s wounds had completely mended.
“Woah…” As he drew away from the bed, Hwoarang could swear that he heard a laugh ringing out inside his head… or perhaps it was his heart; it felt weird, and yet confirming. “Heh, I told you I’d do it my way. Have a little faith in me, eh?” He looked back to Hitch who was still sleeping, although he seemed to be more at peace. He could sense it.
Hwoarang scratched out a note for his friend on a napkin on the nightstand. He didn’t have time to wait for the hospital to open up the next day, and he didn’t want any teary goodbyes from the big guy either. He knew he’d get enough from Moon as it was, if not from Doyon. It was a shitty time to leave, but Kazama… he withdrew from Hitch’s bedside and returned to the window. Hitch would live, and though his thoughts were tinged with guilt, his rival remained more important to him than hurt feelings. He knew that Doyon would understand. Eventually.
~End Chapter Fifteen~
| Index | Chapter Sixteen |
Sorry I'm late with the update. RL has been acting up. Thanks for reading and leaving such wonderful and welcome comments. I'm always so warmed to read everyone's thoughts on the updates, and even the positive comments about Hitch, Moon and them *bows deeply*