Summary: Training in the morning is taken to a whole new level when Hwoarang is added to Jin's routine. The two enjoy their warmup and make plans for the day. However, the longer Jin delays in sending Hwoarang away, the more cross Devil becomes...
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: I had a good deal of fun with this fight. I'm very happy with how it turned out.
I have a terrible feeling I'm repeating myself and going over the same emotions over and over again. If you notice this, please let me know. I really hate beating a dead horse with the whole:
Jin: Hwoarang's here for ME!
Devil: No, he's here to fight me! He loves you not!
Jin: I angst now, nobody loves me.
Hwoarang: I do... will! Damnit, let's fight!
Jin: Yay, MY fight!
Devil: I threaten your happiness with my mere EXISTENCE!
Hwoarang: Damnit, I must save/help Jin!
"Angel/Devil's words inside Hwoarang/Jin's head"
Please see the Index for more details and chapter links.
Hwoarang woke with a start, his body jerking up as a fleeting nightmare yanked him to consciousness. "What the...?" he asked before his question turned to a moan of discomfort. His body was aching and he was so cold he couldn't feel his nose. The sound of rain hitting the roof created a static sound that faded into a calming background noise.
"Good morning!" a voice from within the room greeted. Hwoarang looked to see Jin sitting in front of a table with a bowl of rice. Something smelled good, and it wasn't rice.
"Hey, Kazama," Hwoarang said as he sprang to his feet and rushed to kneel at the table opposite his rival. “What smells so good?” he pulled the bowl away from the other man.
Jin’s eyebrow quirked down and he reached to pull the bowl back. “That would be breakfast; just some vegetables from Onoaida and some fish. I usually don’t eat much before training, so…”
“Kazama, are you crazy?” Hwoarang asked, pulling the bowl back to himself. “It’s raining outside! Storming! You can’t train in that!”
Jin’s eyebrow twitched and he pulled the bowl back more forcefully. “You don’t have to train with me, you know. You should go back to the village… and stop taking my rice, I’ve got some for you too.” He indicated to another bowl that was set aside on the table for the redhead.
Hwoarang pulled the bowl one more time before leaning across to grab his own breakfast. “I’m not going anywhere in this weather. I nearly broke my neck getting here. The trails didn’t look very stable either,” he tucked into his rice, eating as loud as he talked. “I think I’ll stay for a bit, Kazama. I’m not done with you yet. Wanna spar after this?”
Jin inhaled a calming breath before continuing to enjoy his meal. He didn’t reply to Hwoarang right away. The sound of rain filled the empty air between them and the two men ate their meals in silence.
Hwoarang, for once, didn’t feel the need to say anything more although he was still itching to settle the score between him and Jin. Ever since his tie with the other fighter he’d been thinking about it almost obsessively. He didn’t lose to anybody. However, since everything with Jun and Angel had happened, he didn’t feel the drive to fight as strongly. It wasn’t about him. Angel had said that to him and he had seen the truth in it. However, Angel wasn’t in his mind anymore, giving him hints of what to do next, and he was on his own and fighting to convince Jin to let him stay. He was falling back into his old habits of itching for a fight. ‘Fuck up Devil, then I get Jin. Yeah, just keep telling yourself that, ‘Rang. Damnit, I hate training in the rain…’ He looked away from the Japanese man and peered out the window. The sky was still pouring down, the sun barely breaking through the clouds that had formed overhead. It was as if the storm was trying to keep them inside with a crack of thunder following each bolt of lightning that flashed across the sky.
Jin broke the silence. “I really think it would be best if you left, Hwoarang.”
“Don’t worry, Kazama. I’ll leave… eventually,” he added the last bit under his breath before quickly changing the subject. “So do you have any more of this rice? This is good, but I’m a growing man. I need more!” He stood and began poking about in the kitchen area. He could hear Jin behind him let out a frustrated breath, although it was probably just his imagination when he thought he heard the usually stoic man curse. It was so strange to his ears he almost laughed but covered the noise with a cough. He wondered if Angel would care if he took his time with Jin, not that there was anything she could do to stop him now. “Damnit, where’s the food?”
“You can have some more after training,” Jin said, coming up close behind him. Hwoarang held his breath while Jin stood beside him and deposited the used dishes on the hutch before turning and looking expectantly at him.
“What?” Hwoarang asked, suddenly conscious of his thoughts and hoping that Devil couldn’t read his mind.
“You said you wanted to spar with me?” Jin raised his eyebrows, “Let’s go,” he turned to rifle through a chest of drawers and retrieved a couple pairs of training pants. He tossed the blue pair to Hwoarang and turned to pull his own red pair on.
Hwoarang watched as Jin began to change and he turned away to do the same. It sure was cramped in there, but it didn’t seem like Jin minded the close-quarters or even changing clothes in front of him. He himself had spent time in less-comfortable places so he didn’t mind, although he had a feeling that Jun hadn’t lived there while it was in such disrepair. Jin probably had other things on his mind, or… Devil. He immediately changed his train of thought, hoping that Jin or Devil couldn’t sense what he was thinking. He had to build up a bit more trust with his rival before he could even broach the subject.
He pulled the drawstring tight around his waist and lifted the sweatshirt up and over his head – no sense in getting it soaked – dropping it on his bed before turning to face Jin. The other man had already discarded his shirt as well and was walking towards the door, turning to look back at him before continuing through and into the spray of rain.
A devious smirk spread across Hwoarang’s features and he followed with a bounce in his step. Forgetting everything that had happened to him with Angel and Doyon and the damn military, fighting with Jin was something he’d been looking forward to. Obsessing over? Yes, but with good reason! He stepped out into the downpour. The rain felt warm despite the cool air and he felt his body reacting to the upcoming fight. His muscles were tensing up, like a coiled spring ready to go. His blood was rushing through his veins, past his ears and through his heart. He could feel the organ beating in his chest and he closed his eyes, concentrating on the sensation of his lifeblood being sent out through his body. Since he’d met Angel he’d become more aware of his surroundings, and the feel of his own body. He was aware, but wouldn’t use her powers against Jin… yet!
The rain was falling furiously as Jin stepped out of his home, his Korean rival following behind him. The stream that flowed past the corner of the clearing had swollen larger than it had been the day before. Too dangerous to get close to, but the clearing would do for what he had in mind for Hwoarang. “Are you ready?” he asked, feeling the thrill of the upcoming fight surge through him.
“Kazama, I was born ready,” Hwoarang said behind him. Jin turned to face him and their eyes locked. They were both soaked the moment they’d stepped from the cabin and the redhead looked chilled; his chest was taught and his entire body seemed to be tensed. There was something else about him, though. Jin had always seen him as a reckless aggressor in their fights, but at that moment he seemed more centred. He was less focused on rushing at him to begin the fight and more intent on feeling out the situation before taking action.
That was, at least, what Jin perceived.
The two men stood there in the rain, each thoroughly soaked and chilled, yet neither moved. They each focused their thoughts on the other, completely engaging them in their minds and filling their consciousness with each other’s aura. They weren’t sizing each other up; they were leveling out on the same mental field before making a move.
After a long moment Hwoarang was the first to spring forward, driving towards Jin with the force of a freight-train and Jin only managed to step to the side at the last minute before spinning around to throw out his own attack.
The rain fell into the clearing, running along the mossy ground and adding a brilliant backdrop to the two men who fought with everything they had. Lightning flashed and only heightened the appearance of their speed. Jin lashed out with a vicious axe-kick and Hwoarang blocked before matching the kick in height and force. Their bodies lashed out like striking cobras, aiming for the vital spots on the other’s body before their limbs were blocked or kicked out of the way.
There were no pulled punches or weak attacks. Nothing to suggest that either thought the other was weak or unable to properly block any attack that was sent out. It was more intense than any encounter they’d had before, and Jin’s heart twitched to realize that he’d been looking forward to it almost as much as Hwoarang probably had. It was his fight, and he didn’t care if Devil wanted Hwoarang gone. He was in charge of his body and at that moment he’d enjoy the other man.
The lightning flashed and he matched its attack, showing Hwoarang how he’d earned the title Fatal Lightning. His fist connected with the redhead’s chest and knocked him back. He followed through with a kick to his solar plexus, but Hwoarang punched his foot out of the way and came at him with his own stunning flurry of kicks. Jin was knocked back and only managed to catch himself before he fell to the ground, quickly moving out of the way of Hwoarang’s follow-up attack.
The two men paused, each breathing heavily, yet keeping their guards up as they regarded each other from a little more than a metre away. Jin could see Hwoarang’s eyes burning with determination, those glowing brown orbs that were so intent and focused on him that he felt weak in the knees. It was a look just for him.
The exhaustion he’d felt creeping up on him was replaced with a feeling of elation. Devil was wrong, Hwoarang was there for him.
“You gonna look at me all lovey-dovey all day, Kazama, or are we gonna finish this fight?”
“I thought we were sparring,” Jin said, being sure to keep his voice neutral like always.
“Sparring, fighting. Same thing, right? Let’s get going, I wanna finish kicking your ass so I can get out of this fucking rain!” He bounced on the balls of his feet and sunk into the mud a little.
Jin grinned and abandoned all happy thoughts of Hwoarang to focus on the fight. The pause between them was much shorter this time as Jin was the first to rush against his opponent, punching out towards Hwoarang’s face and managing to connect once before he changed his tactics and skipped around to his side and narrowly avoided one of the Korean’s powerful kicks. He lashed out with another attack and knocked Hwoarang’s foot out from under him, toppling the other man over into the mud. Jin leapt on top of him, bringing the redhead’s arm around for a submission move, but he was flipped off at the last moment and found that he was pinned beneath Hwoarang’s body instead.
“Almost had me there, Kazama,” he laughed and pressed his weight down onto Jin’s chest.
Jin didn’t recognize the position Hwoarang had taken and figured that he wasn’t trying for a submission from him and was just trying to hold him down. He twisted one way before managing to kick his leg out and twist his hips around, knocking Hwoarang off-balance and he tumbled off of Jin’s body.
Jin struggled to climb to his feet, but the mud was sucking at him as he tried to lift himself free of its wet embrace. He was so tired.
“Damnit, Kazama!” Hwoarang yelled, although he didn’t have any better luck in trying to climb out of the sucking mud. He coughed as he struggled against the muck that held him fast.
After a few minutes both men gave up and lay there, half-submerged in the ground.
“Is this another fucking draw?” Hwoarang asked after a long moment.
“I think so,” Jin said, happier than he should have been at the discovery.
“I’ll get you next time,” Hwoarang breathlessly promised before cursing the rain again. The storm was starting to lighten up and they lied there as the clouds drifted above and took the rain with them.
The sky was still grey and bleak when they’d recovered their strength and managed to pull themselves free of the mud and returned to the cabin to warm up. Jin lit the gas stove in the room and they huddled around it, close to one another without actually touching.
“I hope I don’t get sick, Kazama,” Hwoarang coughed to emphasize his point.
Jin lifted a kettle from the stove and poured two cups of tea. Hwoarang accepted the mug and drank it quickly, getting another cup for himself while Jin savored the taste of his first. He held it in muddy hands, letting the heat of the liquid warm his fingers before he raised the rim to his lips and swallowed a gulp of tea to warm his insides as well. He’d gotten a better workout that morning than he could have by training on his own. At some points in their fight he’d been afraid that Devil would emerge, but he was grateful that the beast had stayed in its place. He knew it was a tentative agreement with the evil inside him that he hadn’t exposed that part of himself to Hwoarang. As much as he was enjoying the company, he’d have to part ways with the redhead. Devil had been passive, with only a snide remark here or there. He probably wasn’t in the mood to try and take over Jin’s body so the brunette decided that it would be alright to drop his guard a fraction and interact with the man who’d tracked him down. He still felt that fluttering of happiness at the knowledge of that fact alone.
“So,” Jin started, feeling a bit anxious for no reason. “Are you feeling warmer?”
“Lame!” Devil commented.
“I always like to go to the hot spring after training, well… when I can. I was thinking if you’d like to… that is…” it was always so much easier to just blow Hwoarang off than start a conversation with him.
“What makes you think he’d want to spend time with you? He’s only here for his fight!” Jin’s smile faltered at Devil’s words. It was true. Hwoarang had only ever wanted his fight. Their match that day had been another draw, so the redhead wouldn’t leave right away, but why should he spend any other time with him.
He stuttered to retract the invitation. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t assume-”
“The fuck you apologizing for?” Hwoarang said, swallowing the last of his tea. “You don’t give a guy the chance to answer before you’re backing down. Yeah, that sounds good. I’d love to go. Let me get this shit off me and I’m there.” His voice was thick and gravelly like it usually was, and his accent lilted the word ‘love’ to sound strange. It snagged on Jin’s mind and he replayed it in his memory a few times. Had he ever heard Hwoarang use it? Maybe it was just Jin, but he’d never heard the word cross the other man’s lips. He felt his imagination beginning to spiral downwards as he over-thought the idea, wondering if Hwoarang really loved anything at all.
He loved his mother, Jun. Did Hwoarang have a mother? Did he have a family?
“Ohhh, Jin. Don’t tell me you want Hwoarang to tell you he loves you. I’ll break you both in half before that-”
‘Will you just shut up? I only wondered what his mom was like. Leave me alone and I’ll get rid of him soon.’
“Don’t get so greedy, boy. Just because he wants to fight you doesn’t mean he loves you. Ha! He’ll never even like you more than as an opponent. How could he? The moment it happens I’ll snap that pretty neck of his, or maybe I could even do something worse if it’s love on your mind…” A tinge of dread washed over Jin then and he stayed frozen in place in front of the stove, even as Hwoarang climbed to his feet, oblivious of the conversation taking place in Jin’s mind.
‘No, you wouldn’t...’ but even as Jin asked Devil to stop, he saw flashes of the creature’s imagination. Fantasies of what he would use Jin’s body to do to Hwoarang. The JACKs that had attacked him before would be nothing in comparison. ‘Stop, damnit!’ Jin bellowed inside his mind.
“You okay, Kazama?” Jin opened his eyes to see Hwoarang leaning down towards him.
“Y-yes, I’m fine. Let’s go!” he hoped that the conversation had been completely internal and that he hadn’t said anything aloud. Hwoarang was looking at him oddly, but that look only lasted a minute before they were ready for the hot spring and walking along the paths to the main trail. It would be so easy to tell him the truth. Just open up and let him know that Devil wanted him dead and that he needed to leave. Devil was churning within him and he felt himself losing grip on himself as he tried to control it. Hwoarang’s presence was very welcome, although at the same time it wasn’t. Still, Jin held his tongue. He couldn’t bear to lose the connection he felt with the other man. He was someone who was completely set apart from the Mishima family troubles and the genetic curse he’d inherited from his father. The simplistic acquaintance built on that stupid fight was something he hadn’t asked for, but found himself looking toward for strength during moments of weakness. The way that Hwoarang looked at him – with the simple regard for another human being – was just too important to him to ruin with things like the truth. He’d leave the other man in the dark and push him away before Devil got too impatient. The creature of darkness didn’t say anything else as they made their way down the trail, but his presence was felt in subtle ways; a flash of pain here, an image in his mind there. Jin was his usual, quiet self just trying to repress Devil while Hwoarang seemed to be enjoying the silence, blissfully unaware of anything that was going on.
He only hoped he could keep it that way.
~End Chapter Eighteen~
| Index | Chapter Nineteen |