Summary: Hwoarang has set his resolve to not get close to Jin, though try telling the other man that. Somehow it was just meant to be.
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: Ah, another short chapter (well, short for me, anyways XD) I don't really have much to say about this, other than things are moving along nicely and they seem to be accepting and moving forward with their feelings for one another.
"Angel/Devil's words inside Hwoarang/Jin's head"
Please see the Index for more details, chapter links and fanart.
Jin opened his eyes, the remnants of a waking dream flitting from his consciousness and he rolled over to spread out under the blankets. The spot beside him was nearly cold and his eyes popped open as he looked around for his friend. He seemed to remember Hwoarang getting up sometime earlier, although he’d fallen back into unconsciousness and had failed to notice when the other man didn’t return. He stretched out, puffing out a breath and staring up at the ceiling. “Hwoarang,” he whispered, the name decidedly comfortable on his tongue. He’d never had many friends; given his circumstances, he was grateful for the few that he’d had, though none of them really compared to the abrasive Korean. He’d always regarded Hwoarang apart from anybody else he’d ever met, because he really was that different. It was part of why Jin liked him so much. He’d wanted to keep his situation with Devil a secret, although Hwoarang had known of that evil ever since Jun had chosen him to wield her power. He supposed that was another point for the Blood Talon; that he’d found out about Devil and hadn’t left him right then.
Jin screwed his eyes shut to try and imagine the type of conversation that his mother would have had with him. He was still having trouble accepting the fact that Jun had chosen Hwoarang of all people, but his heart seemed to feel it made the most sense. It just felt right to have the Korean there… despite the initial embarrassment and fight, things seemed to be going well for them. He couldn’t even put into words how much it had meant to him when Hwoarang had promised to let him handle Devil on his own. It was the greatest sign of respect that he could ever ask for, and his heart swelled when he thought of what it meant; Hwoarang didn’t think he was weak. He knew how much that one factor meant to the other man and it meant just as much to him. Strength… it was the one thing that meant survival and they both had it in equal measures.
He sighed when he thought of Jun; even she would have held his hand in his fight – her motherly instincts taking over – but Hwoarang understood him and what he needed. There was a reason they’d met… someone from such a harsh background would understand the merit of doing this on his own. Hwoarang wouldn’t fight his battles for him, but he wouldn’t leave him alone to fight them either. Hwoarang’s presence would be enough to help him through. Devil had been fighting to get Jin alone. He’d wanted to isolate him and make him feel abandoned, as if he had nobody left to turn to, but since the other man had shown up, Jin knew he could never feel that way; Hwoarang would be there for him. As if on cue the sound of a door opening alerted Jin to Hwoarang’s return and he smiled warmly at the Korean.
Hwoarang had his arms crossed across his chest and he had that old sneer he wore that left him closed off and unreadable. Jin’s smile faltered for a moment at the sight and Hwoarang quickly dropped his arms, though his frown stayed put. “We should get going.”
Jin hummed and stretched as he kicked the blankets away and climbed to his feet. “What’s for breakfast?” he asked, walking up to their clothes to see if they’d dried. He noticed that Hwoarang had pulled his pants on, despite the fact that they were still wet. His own pants were nearly dry and he stepped into them, leaving his shirt to hang a bit longer since the sun had begun to filter through the window.
“Oh, uh,” Hwoarang scratched his bare belly and went to his pack to check their rations. “I hadn’t thought of that. Well, we’ve got some bread left… and whatever you bought.” He dug around and withdrew the mini-stove to brew some tea.
Jin rushed over to his pack to find what was left from their trip to the store. The rations weren’t as tasty as the breakfast that Hwoarang had cooked for them that first day back in the cabin. Somehow, dried meat and bread didn’t compare to freshly-caught fish that was then fried with a few spices to flavour. He broke the silence by commenting on how he wanted to make breakfast for Hwoarang once they got back to the cabin. He watched carefully as his offer seemed to tug at the sides of Hwoarang’s mouth and force him to smile. “You’re not the only one who can cook, you know,” Jin sipped at his tea, the liquid warming his insides.
“Ha,” the redhead laughed. “Yeah, but I’m the only one who can cook well.”
“You always say stuff like that. Is there something you can’t do better than everyone else?” Jin rolled his eyes, deciding to challenge the other’s claims.
“No,” Hwoarang said flatly, stuffing the crust of his bread into his mouth and standing. “We should get going.”
Jin smiled, packing their supplies away. “You’re terrible at changing the subject,” he muttered under his breath before stepping out the door and away from any rebuttal that Hwoarang may have had.
“You’re also terrible at keeping your mouth shut,” Jin added a couple hours later after listening to Hwoarang complain about the increasingly difficult trail.
“Shut up, Kazama,” Hwoarang cursed, nearly tripping over a sharp boulder. “You’re having trouble too…”
Jin stayed quiet for a few minutes before turning back with a grin. “Want to rest?”
“Naw, I’m… fine Kaza.. ma…” he started, huffing as he tried to catch up before cursing. Jin began to laugh and he snapped, “Shut up!”
“No really, we can rest,” Jin offered, not slowing his lead as Hwoarang pushed on behind him. He heard the tell-tale sounds of the other man’s feet catching on a tree root and spun around to catch him as he fell. “I’m feeling kinda tired, anyways,” he said as he lifted the redhead up. “Let’s stop for a while.”
“It’s okay, I wanted to stop and catch my breath anyways. I’m really tired.”
“Fuck you…” Hwoarang puffed half-heartedly before sitting heavily on a stump. “Are we still lost?”
Jin dropped his bag to the ground and found a seat beside his friend before pulling the map out to take a quick peek. “No, ah, we’ll get back out to the trail… soon…”
“I don’t think the deal was to survive this forest with you leading me in random directions,” Hwoarang puffed, taking a long drink of water.
Jin folded the map back up and stretched his legs out. It was more difficult to travel with the rain making their way slick. Even though it was showing signs of lightening, it had still taken a good chunk out of their progress. He’d hoped to have gotten further, but it seemed that the weather was against them. He hummed sadly, feeling a shadow shifting in the back of his mind; Devil was trying to wake up. It wouldn’t be too long until that beast barged in on his time alone with Hwoarang. He wondered if Angel was stirring within the other man. Were the two forces awakening at the same time, or would one move faster? “Hey, Hwoarang,” he asked, hoping to pull the redhead out of the strange quiet he’d fallen into. “What was my mother like when she asked you to help me?”
The question seemed to throw Hwoarang off, because his head snapped around to stare open-mouthed for a second before snapping shut and his quick-temper caught up. “Where did that come from, Kazama? Didn’t we already talk about this?”
“Yeah, I know,” Jin said, tapping his feet on the ground. “I just like hearing about her. I mean, I haven’t seen her in so long…” He would have felt so silly asking anybody else to tell him a story about his mother, but asking Hwoarang while they were out in the middle of nowhere was somehow outside of reality and exempt from silly feelings of embarrassment. He waited patiently until the Korean heaved a sigh and turned and began telling him again about the dream. He listened intently to the story, visualizing the image in his mind of a figure in pure white. He had strong memories of what Jun looked like and picturing that combined with the angelic features that Hwoarang had adopted warmed his heart. She was still around, maybe even alive; she just couldn’t reach him directly anymore because of Devil. He’d relied on her for so much and he was still relying on her for help – he thought he’d be more independent by now.
“Well, isn’t that what parents are for, Jin?” Hwoarang asked him. “It’s their job to help us out of the shit we get into.”
He said it in a very flat way that piqued Jin’s curiosity before he remembered Hwoarang had mentioned something about Baek before. “You’re worried about Baek, aren’t you?” he asked as softly as he could.
“Ah, yeah,” Hwoarang rubbed the back of his head, his voice breaking off. “Well, I know he can take care of himself… but I still feel bad leaving him there… those bastards are manipulative little fuckers that used him to make me do their damn dirty work…”
Jin said nothing in the silence after Hwoarang trailed off. Baek may not have been dead, but he was beyond their reach and might as well have been hovering in the spirit realm with Jun. “He’ll get out of there,” Jin finally said, reaching out to put a hand on his friend’s shoulder. “And if he can’t get out on his own, then we’ll break him out.”
Hwoarang’s expression was pure shock which was a nice change, Jin decided and he smiled widely, his eyes dancing.
“You’d do that?” Hwoarang finally asked. “I mean, you’d help me break into the military compound to get him out of there? That’s…”
“Tit for tat,” Jin tightened his grip on Hwoarang’s shoulder. “You’re helping my mom so I’ll help your dad. We’re even, then.” He could see the Korean’s expression waver before tightening into a cocky grin. The expression was nothing but a weak mask to hide the river of emotions that Jin felt welling under the surface. He didn’t say anything about it, though, and nodded strongly. “You’d said that you weren’t my mother’s first choice for this, but you’re my first choice, Hwoarang.”
That statement was the utterance that seemed to seal some sort of deal between the two men. Something just clicked between them and no more words were necessary. Their wounds – physical and emotional – were healing and the rift between them was quickly growing smaller. As if it somehow knew, the rain began to slow its barrage as the two fighters gathered their things to continue their trek down the mountain.
~End Chapter Twenty-Six~
| Index | Chapter Twenty-Seven |