Summary: Hwoarang is hanging at Doyon's place, but Angel doesn't like it much. She eventually convinces Hwoarang to take his mission more seirously.
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: Angel is just too fun to play with.
"Angel/Devil's words inside Hwoarang/Jin's head"
Please see the Index for more details and chapter links.
The sky was burning, just like before. He felt a familiarity with the scene that was both disturbing and comforting. The ground around him was still smouldering, the ashes of trees crumpling under his feet as he walked forward.
Someone was waiting for him…
Hwoarang let out a startled cry and sat upright on Moon’s couch. The room was dark and the television had been turned off. The redhead swung his legs over the edge so that his feet touched the floor and he put his head in his hands. The broken fragments of his nightmare were fleeting before his waking mind, but he could still grasp at a few pieces of it. He could almost feel a sense of déjà vu about it, but couldn’t link it back to anything he was aware of. It was as if he was floating on a sea with monsters beneath the surface but he couldn’t perceive them through the murky depths.
Shaking his head he stood, wondering where Hitch had gone. He pushed the dream from his mind and wandered out into the hallway, following the sound of Hitch and Moons voices that were conversing in far more relaxed tones than their previous encounter. He came to meet them, noticing how she was now clothed more modestly, although she hadn’t lost any of her attractiveness with the plain jeans and tank top. “Hey, time to go?” he asked, wiping the sleep from his eyes.
“Sure, you can go if you want,” Moon said. “Thanks for watching Sun, but my brother shouldn’t have dragged you along.” She emphasized this by lightly smacking the older man’s arm.
“H-hey! What’s with that? Hwoarang wanted to come along. Don’t look at me. Besides I was doing you a favour.”
“Yeah, thanks for the favour, brother,” she narrowed her eyes at him before a smile belied the negative emotion. She led them to the door and they said their goodbyes before she closed the door after them and they were left out in the cold hallway. Hwoarang and Hitch dragged themselves towards their apartments a floor or two down from Moon’s. They barely said anything to each other before parting ways and Hwoarang couldn’t remember anything after climbing into his own bed.
His dreams for the rest of the night were blessedly empty and forgotten by the time he opened his eyes the next day.
He lied in bed for a good half hour after opening his eyes, but didn’t know what time it was until he exited his bedroom and checked the clock in the kitchen. Two o’clock. He opened the fridge to find something worthy of a late lunch and an even later breakfast. Nothing. “I’ve really gotta go shopping,” he mumbled, scratching his head as he eyed the bottle of vodka that was propping up a take-out bag that he didn’t remember buying. He didn’t really think his stomach wanted vodka…
Just then there was a loud banging on his door that saved him from the wrong choice. “Hey, ‘Rang! Open up, let’s get some breakfast!” Hitch’s voice bellowed through the wood and Hwoarang slammed the fridge shut and went to let his friend in.
“Yeah, sounds good. Just let me get dressed.” Hitch waited patiently for Hwoarang to dig something out of his closet, which took no time at all considering that everything in the apartment was donated from Doyon. Nothing the drug lord had really fit Hwoarang well, so he was stuck with a white tank and black jeans. He felt more secure when he stuffed his feet into his steel-toed boots and laced them up. “Where’d you have in mind?”
“There’s this place that I go to with Moon and Sun sometimes. They have really good crepes.”
“Geez, Hit. I never thought I’d hear something like that come out of your mouth… the fuck are crepes, anyways?”
“Shut up and move your ass. I’m fucking hungry. You’ll see when we get there.” Hitch opened the door before stopping short and turning back. “Oh yeah, I almost forgot. One of the guys gave this to me. It seemed like something that’d be right up your alley, so… here!” He handed a flier to the redhead and Hwoarang’s eyes lit up.
The King of Iron Fist tournament had been announced to happen a little more than a month from then. He hadn’t expected it to be so soon, but he wasn’t complaining. He now had an idea of how much time he had left to visit Jin. He didn’t want to miss the tournament and the paper lit a fire under his ass to go to Japan as soon as the heat from the military had cooled down. He folded the paper up and tucked it into his back pocket before Hitch dragged him through the door. The older man was in a better mood than usual that morning which was probably a result of not having to roll thugs for money or think about Moon.
After meeting Moon and Sun, Hwoarang had a better idea of why Hitch was the way he was. The older man’s foul moods usually followed nights when Moon was working, or even the mention of Rora. The greasy man had shown up to play the tables a few times, and Hwoarang had always been in tow when Hitch had gone to muscle him out of there. It was strange, but he always seemed to go to visit Moon. Hwoarang always figured that Hitch just didn’t like the fact that his sister was a half-naked dealer, although the reality of the situation was becoming clear to him. It hit home when he paid a visit to her apartment and found Rora there. The man’s demeanour had been entirely too casual, and he’d been watching some show with Sun. Moon had quickly told Hwoarang that she was busy and to not tell Hitch what he’d seen there that day. He’d wisely kept his mouth shut, piecing together the truth of the matter from rumors he’d heard and figured that the greasy snitch was probably Sun’s father. It didn’t seem that Sun was aware of this, however, and Hwoarang didn’t dare to ask either Hitch or Moon any more on the matter. He hadn’t known either of them for that long and it wasn’t really his business anyways. Despite the fact that Hitch obviously hated Rora with a passion, he could see that Sun was spared of any ill-feelings and was shown the same kind of love that Moon did. Still, the whole situation that his sister was in was still something the older man was really pissed about.
Never having any siblings himself, Hwoarang couldn’t really relate. The closest sibling he’d had was Doyon, and THAT relationship didn’t even compare to Hitch and Moon.
Hwoarang made a point of ducking out of harm’s way whenever the two siblings started their screaming matches, usually taking Sun with him to his place to hang out. The boy was only about eight or nine years old, and though he was kept in the dark about what exactly his guardians did, Hwoarang learned very quickly that he wasn’t stupid either. Sun knew there was something going on, but for the sake of keeping his mother happy he didn’t ask many questions.
He was far too wise for his age. Hwoarang stayed up late some nights thinking about the boy, although he usually worried more than he thought. He could agree with Hitch that Moon should really leave and get a place on her own in a better neighbourhood, or at least stop putting herself in such a dangerous situation in Doyon’s casino. There were enough fights breaking out there on a nightly basis, some bigger than others, but there was always the element of danger that he could understand Hitch was worried about. However, he could also see things from Moon’s side. It was tough to get out of that type of situation once you were in. If you were in the dumps, the people above would do what they could to stomp on you to keep you there. There was nothing he could do for her anyways, so feeling sorry wouldn’t do anything, although he knew that he would feel guilty when it finally came time to leave.
So it came as a bit of a blessing when Sun found him on the rooftop one day and asked Hwoarang if he could show him a few moves. Sun needed to toughen up and Hwoarang figured that showing him a few basic moves wouldn’t hurt. He showed him how to throw a punch without breaking his hand and told him of the weaknesses that most street fighters had and how to take advantage of them. Baek’s tutelage had brought him out of the gutter and given him a goal to strive for when he was younger. It wasn’t until Jin Kazama came along that he’d realized that he wasn’t as strong as he first believed. He was the strongest fighter in his neighbourhood, but the arrival of the Japanese youth had opened his eyes to the fact that there was more. Hwoarang’s tie with Jin had hurt his ego, sure, but the seed that Baek had sewn in him desired something more from Jin. The Blood Talon didn’t realize it until he began teaching Sun the basics of Tae Kwon Do, but it wasn’t his ego that he was fighting for; maybe at first, but not any more. He’d focused on Jin for so long, almost obsessively, that he just wanted to meet the other man to better himself. Through fighting or perhaps a mutual understanding of what it took to become as strong as they had both become.
It came to be that a few days later, after Moon had come to gather Sun from his lesson, Hwoarang decided to stay out on the rooftop and just enjoy the scenery. He’d spent so much time down in the dirt of the streets that it was a rare opportunity that he got to stand above it all and look from high up. The sun was just beginning to sink into the horizon and the sky was bathed in an orange-red glow. It tinted the colour of the city that sprawled out before him and for an instant Hwoarang wished it would stay that colour forever; a warm, red sun. An impulse came over him and he decided to test out his new powers again. The previous time he’d transformed, he’d relied on the voice to trigger it. It had been difficult because of the anxiety he got from running from the dogs, but now that he was alone and everything just felt so right, he closed his eyes and drew out the energy that he’d felt simmering inside him since he’d woken from the coma.
It sizzled through him and he was acutely aware of it, could feel it and control it. It filled him up when he willed it to do so and exploded across his body, covering him in a flash of heat before retreating inside his core. He opened his brown eyes, seeing the same colours on the horizon only now they seemed sharper; it was easier to focus. He inhaled a breath of fresh city air as he felt a gust of wind catch in his wings and ruffle the feathers. He looked down to his hands and was started at the change he saw there.
White, leather gauntlets had appeared on his arms, tight but comfortable against his skin from his elbow to just over his knuckles with metal plates peeking through at points of contact during a fight. He stepped back to appraise his new all-white attire; from his leather steel-capped boots, to the white pants, to the white, sleeveless vest that clung to him like a second skin. “What the hell? White isn’t my colour!” He balled his fists, testing the comfort of the gauntlets and finding that it was almost as if they’d been fitted to him.
Grumbling he cleared his mind of the annoyance of his clothes. “Probably goes with the powers,” he told himself and looked back to the sky. The colours of the setting sun looked so inviting. Like he could soar through their warm, waning rays and absorb the colour they projected. He hadn’t flown since he’d escaped from the military base. Without the stress of escape marring his experience he decided to try and figure out how to use his powers properly. Hwoarang climbed to the ledge, crouching low as he felt a gust of wind rifle through his wings before he launched himself into the air. He spread his wings wide as he dove downward for a moment before flapping them in broad, powerful strokes and bearing himself aloft and upwards into the sky. Higher and higher he soared. The wind was cold on his face, although this time it didn’t seem to bother him. The clothing seemed to represent the added protection his powers afforded him, as sparse as they appeared.
He ascended towards the moon that was becoming clearer in the sky, rising high before maneuvering his wings so that he could turn around mid-air and let the updrafts hold his body aloft while he looked down upon the city. It was even smaller from that height. The streets were barely visible, save for their faint division of the buildings from one another. It was so far away. Hwoarang’s mouth tilted up in a wicked grin and he folded his wings up behind him, beginning his descent towards the city at incredible speeds. He angled his head so that he was falling head-first and he let out an exhilarated shout that was drowned out by the wind as it whipped about his face and the city began to grow in size as he plummeted towards it. He laughed, the sensation overtook his senses. Everything was getting larger, faster. Faster. Too fast. He waited and waited until quickly snapping his wings out again, the feathered arms sharply catching the wind and jolting him to a stop mid-air. Everything seemed to stand still as the part of him – the power that was not his own – held him suspended in the sky as his sanity tried to catch up. He hadn’t realized just how fun flying could be. The speed he could get to, the maneuverability and – once he’d gotten more practice – the power…
Hwoarang turned around and began flapping his wings again, this time resolving to climb even higher then before. The sun was practically gone and now the moon was full and fat in the sky, the perfect goal to aim for in the sea of stars. He felt the power surge through his back with each downward flap. Each wing beat carrying him higher and higher until the city was lost in the land surrounding it and the country itself was perceivable through the lights. That high up the stars seemed clearer, more detailed and reachable and the air was growing thinner. He projected himself skywards, only slowing as his vision faltered and it was suddenly hard to breathe. His eyes grew dim and the scenery around him changed until he was surrounded in darkness.
He was in a dark, black room. He was aware of a roaring sound coming from somewhere outside, but it felt so far away, almost as if it was in another dream. He wasn’t standing on solid ground, although he wasn’t flying either. It was almost as if his dream-body was in limbo; unable to move in any direction. Hwoarang flailed about foolishly, trying to find a foothold in the dark, but gave up when he started to flip upside down.
“Do you know how aggravating it is to only talk to you when you’re in weakened states, Hwoarang?” the voice said, only now the Blood Talon could see the body that it belonged to. A woman appeared out of the darkness, her hair shone like gold as it fell about her delicate face in a shower of ringlets. Her robes were flimsy at best, pale silk wrapped over her torso and falling about her legs and over her back in a train. Her white wings made her look like an angel and her beauty was only marred by the scowl that was on her face. A face that looked so familiar… almost.
“Huh?” he asked, struck by her appearance. “So you’re the one who’s been talking to me?” he recovered quickly.
“Yeah, that’d be me. You’ve barely learned the basics of my power, and you’re going to take on Devil like this? I can’t believe Jun transferred my powers to you.” She crossed her arms and shook her head, almost as if she was disappointed in a child.
Hwoarang scowled. “Well, how’d you expect me to learn anything when I’m on my own? This is the first time I’ve met you, lady!”
“I’ve been trying to get an audience with you. Believe me, I’ve tried, but you’re just so thick-headed… what was Jun thinking? You can’t even focus properly except to gain the physical traits…”
“Well, sorry to be a disappointment for you. I’m real torn up over it, too.” Hwoarang’s words seemed to fall on deaf ears as the woman complained to him about his inadequacies.
“I can’t even gain full control of your body when you DO invoke me! If I could do that, then at least Devil and I could go head to head. That demon is able to gain control of Jin’s body without a problem… this isn’t going to be easy.” She shook her head again and massaged her temple. “Well, at least I’ve been able to contact you now. I can help you, but you’ve got to trust me.”
“How the hell am I supposed to trust someone I just met, huh?” Hwoarang muttered indignantly. “Lady, I don’t know you.”
Her frown deepened. “You trust me enough to carry you to the moon and stop you from plummeting to your death, but when I ask you directly you tell me you can’t?” Hwoarang could see that she was angry, although she managed to repress her rage and she forced a smile to her face. “Very well, we will have to play one of the trust games, then.”
“W-wait-!” Hwoarang tried to stop her but she seemed intent on proving her point.
“You trust me to keep you alive, and I trust you to save Jin. Deal?” She waited for the redhead to nod his acceptance before clapping her hands together. “Alright, Hwoarang. I am Angel, and you can trust me. Let me show you…”
Her words trailed off, blotted out by the sound of wind rushing past his head and Hwoarang opened his eyes to find himself free-falling through the sky, plummeting to the ground at gut-wrenching speed with one disturbing difference from before; his wings were gone.
A string of profanities shot out of his mouth as he desperately tried to re-grow his wings, but there was a barrier blocking him. Angel was stopping him. Hwoarang was powerless to stop himself from plummeting towards Korea, the country quickly growing larger until distinct cities were visible and they began to grow larger the further he fell. He soon became tired of screaming and simply hyperventilated as everything flew up at him and he was convinced he was going to die.
“You don’t trust me?” Angel asked in his head. “If you think I’ll let you die, then maybe I should…”
“No! No! I trust you!” Hwoarang cried out, grateful that she was talking to him again. “Look! I’m trusting you with my life right now!”
Her snicker rang through his head, louder than the rushing air, and as the city came into view he felt Angel’s energy surround him and his wings had returned to him, slowing his descent. He cried out and spread the feathered appendages, catching himself mid-air and his body swung down with powerful momentum, his legs coming around and driving his steel-capped boots through the ledge of a building that he’d just barely hit. “Fucking too close, bitch,” Hwoarang cursed, his eyes wide with shock. His wings flapped to keep him level as he caught his breath. “Right, so I’m gonna have to try harder to figure you out, just don’t do that again!” He flapped his wings a few times to lift himself up and flew back to the Cage, promising himself a shower and maybe some sleep… if Mickey didn’t drag him off to the bar like usual.
He’d barely transformed back into his human-state and walked through his front door before there was a knock. Hwoarang’ answered the door and found Hitch standing there with a sour look on his face. Behind the large man was Mickey, the bodyguard with the incredibly long braid and a few of the other guys Hwoarang saw around Doyon’s place. Hwoarang tiredly looked around at the group before turning back to Mickey. “Pool?” the brunette asked.
Hitch grabbed Hwoarang without a word and dragged him outside. “If I have to, then so do you.”
“H-hey!” Mickey said, following the two down the hall. “I put down my videogame to go out, so the least you could do is be happy about it!”
The rest of the guys followed behind and the lot drove out to the Shark’s Cove on the other side of town. The place was a dive, but the beer was cheap and they knew the bartender there so they got a discount on the tables. Hwoarang repressed the disappointed feeling he got from Angel. He’d train later.
~End Chapter Thirteen~
| Index | Chapter Fourteen |