Summary: Jin and Hwoarang explore the festival happening in Onoaida, enjoying the little relaxing time they have left before the hassle and danger of the tournament threatens to separate them.
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: Wow, it's SO nice to be able to update this story again. I'd tried to keep my regular livejournal (nosferatu_blue) updated with the rl crap that kept hitting me around (*cough*school??*cough*). Anyways, I'm back and very sorry to have kept you waiting (if you had, in fact, been waiting for me.)
I'd been batting around the idea of making this chapter into a smutty one (and even debated the practicality of sand and sex with a poll) but decided that I like it the way it is. I hope that this was worth the wait, guys. Thanks for sticking with me for so long.
"Angel/Devil's words inside Hwoarang/Jin's head"
Please see the Index for more details, chapter links and fanart.
Onoaida seemed to be thrumming with new life as the two fighters stepped out of the café and into the streets. The excitement of the festival filled the air with a tangible thrum as the locals took to the streets to sell their wares to the scores of tourists that were packing the narrow rows. Nana had explained the details of the different booths and artists that were set up on the other side of town, and Hwoarang was more than happy to wander up and down the streets to see what was happening. He was hoping to find a bar while they were out, and if wandering around and looking at painted rocks made Jin happy, he’d be happy, so long as he found a place that served beer.
Jin led the way down a street and Hwoarang saw it as they sped past; there, shining like a beacon in the light of day, was what looked like a biker bar. His feet faltered as they walked by and he felt himself drawn to the dingy building. He needed a beer, though when he tried to get Jin’s attention, the other man was halfway down the street and he had to rush to catch up. He grumbled and committed the bar’s location to memory as he followed the dark-haired man who was practically pushing people out of the way. Hwoarang grinned and stepped around a few people, only then seeing the booth that Jin had been intent on getting to. He looked up at the homemade sign that declared that takoyaki was sold there.
Jin marched up to the stall and politely asked the elderly man behind the counter for two orders, without even asking Hwoarang what he wanted. The old man seemed to spring to life and he moved with a flourish as he set to prepare the order and Jin leaned in to watch him cook. Hwoarang stood back and inspected the sign above the stall; it reminded him of the flying fish restaurant, though this one had a giant octopus rising out of the ocean, its tentacles flailing as a smiling man in a boat hoisted a spear at the beast. He shook his head; it must have been some Yakushima thing to have such strange signs. There was the possibility that the two booths were somehow related; were there really that many quirky people on such a little island? His thoughts immediately flew back to the onsen where Momo and Inoue were probably laughing drunkenly and he shook his head as Jin turned to him.
“I hope you like fried octopus balls,” Jin lifted the two carry-away boxes to show how much he’d bought.
Hwoarang’s mouth opened and closed, though he couldn’t get over the one response that he wanted to fire back at him right then. Why, oh why did Jin have to ask him if he liked octopus balls? His perverted mind got to churning and he fought to stifle the laughter that was forcing its way out.
Jin’s expression faltered somewhat as Hwoarang’s internal battle raged and he lowered his outstretched hands that bore the takeout trays, then dropping them to his sides before he placed them firmly on his hips and gave the other man a look that told him not to even dare. “Ta-ko-ya-ki,” he clarified after a few minutes. “Don’t be a pervert,” he added.
Hwoarang’s mirth died down and his stomach spoke up, grumbling loudly. “Sure thing, Jin. I’m careful about whose, erm, I mean what balls I have in my mouth, but right now I’m so fucking hungry I’ll eat anything.” Before Jin could reply to the innuendo-laden comment, he reached out to snatch the containers from the blushing fighter and carried them away to find a place where they could eat.
The streets were more crowded than usual, though once they’d passed the main road that would lead down to the fireworks display; they sat on the curb and balanced their takeout boxes on their knees. The octopus balls were very tasty and Hwoarang inhaled all five takoyaki balls before turning to Jin and sneaking his chopsticks in to steal one of his.
“Hey, that’s mine!”
“You need to work on your defense,” Hwoarang laughed and made a show of eating his stolen food.
“If you keep that up, you’re not going to get your surprise.”
That statement shut the Korean up and he bowed his head, eyes dancing with excitement. “There’s a surprise?”
“Not any more…” Jin coyly looked back to his tray, seemingly intent on leaving that conversation hanging while he ate.
Hwoarang wasn’t the type to let things like that hang. “Does it have anything to do with earlier today?” he asked, snaking an arm around his lover and giving him a squeeze.
“What? N-no!” Jin almost jumped out of his skin. “There isn’t a surprise, so...” he trailed off as the hand on his side moved down to his hip and he shivered slightly.
“Ha, you’re a real tease, you know that, Kazama?” Hwoarang leaned in close while he reached in with his left hand and skillfully lifted another octopus ball with his chopsticks. “That’s going to cost you.”
“H-hey!” Jin exclaimed, reaching over with his own chopsticks to rescue his stolen meal. “Quit stealing my food, ‘Rang. I was nice enough to treat you and this is how you show your gratitude?”
“You get distracted too easy, Kazama. Your defense will be easy to break at the tournament if all I have to-- hey!” his taunt was cut short as Jin overpowered him and pushed him to the ground.
“Aw, forgive me,” Jin said, pressing his body against Hwoarang’s and snagging the takoyaki ball before pulling away.
Hwoarang sat up and brushed himself off. The few people on the street had stopped to watch their struggle. He shot a couple a dirty look before flipping them off. “Fucking tourists,” he muttered, earning him a punch in the arm. “What the hell was that for?”
“You’re a tourist,” Jin said, merrily chewing his food as loud as he could. There was one ball left in the tray and Hwoarang eyed it as Jin lifted it, dipping it into the sauce and raising it to his mouth. Jin paused to look at him before reaching up to offer for Hwoarang to take a bite.
The redhead moved closer, bracing a hand on the ground between them as he leaned in, keeping his eyes focused on Jin’s as he opened his mouth and wrapped his lips around the ball. He reached up with his free hand to hold Jin’s hand steady; his tongue snaked out to guide the meal into his mouth as he bit down, though he never looked away from those dark eyes that were locked with his. “Mmmm,” he mumbled around the bite as he pulled back. “Thank you, Kazama.”
“A-ah,” Jin said, hastily bringing the remainder of the ball to his mouth and popping it inside. He didn’t put on a show for his redheaded lover, though Hwoarang didn’t mind.
“So where to now?” the Korean changed the subject as they both climbed to their feet to dispose of the food containers. “I've never been to one of these things, but I’ll guess that they start the show when it's dark… so we're running out of time to get a good spot.”
“An hour at least,” Jin looked down the street towards some vendors that were arranged close to the beach. “Hey, I've got an idea,” he said, grabbing Hwoarang by the hand and pulling him towards the crowd of people that were gathering.
“H-hey, Kazama!” the redhead huffed as Jin pulled him around a large couple and towards a booth of sweets.
“Want a tasty treat?” he asked. “They only sell these things during the festival and I haven't had one in years!” He didn't even wait for a response and turned to a young girl sitting at her family's vendor booth, quickly ordering two.
“Jinny,” Hwoarang asked, coming up behind Jin and hanging over his shoulders. “What the hell are they?”
The Japanese man turned around, holding in each hand what looked like a flower created from a breaded cup and a scoop of something sticky sweet inside. “Tasty treats!” he smiled and pushed one towards the Korean. “It’s homemade ice cream with fruits from the fruit gardens. They’re only sold at the festivals.”
“Uh-huh,” Hwoarang arched an eyebrow as he inspected the sweet that Jin had pressed to his hand. He looked up again to the homemade sign that hung above their heads and then looked back at the treat again. “Riiiiight,” he mumbled before sighing and lifting the snack to his mouth to take a bite.
Jin looked up to where Hwoarang had been staring. The wooden sign for the stand was the same as it had been when he was a kid, though brighter thanks to a fresh coat of paint - he didn't remember the giant ice cream cup being that shade of pink - though it had always been the logo for the old Watanabe stand. The image had originally frightened him, but now the idea of a giant ice cream cup chasing down children with a speech bubble of 'Tasty Treats!' was too familiar to make him think twice.
Jin turned to his own cup, licking at the softening ice cream before taking a bite. The moment the fruity flavour met his pallet he was struck by a strong sense of nostalgia for his childhood. Devil's rustling about - which he'd been ignoring successfully - seemed to fade to silence and he was suddenly inspired to climb a tree... or swim in the ocean. “Let's go down to the beach.”
“Sounds good to me,” Hwoarang bit into his cup without noticing the juice that had dribbled down his chin.
Jin didn't say anything.
Hwoarang pushed his way past the crowds of people who were slowly moving towards the area set up to view the fireworks. It was a nice spot with benches and chairs arranged far enough away from the actual canons so nobody would get hurt. He looked at the crowd already seated and frowned; it was just too hokey for him. He turned back to Jin and gave him a wink as he reached back to take the other man's hand. He threaded their fingers, not wanting to lose him or have him pull away when he made his move. The crowd moved forward, pressing in all around them and Hwoarang skillfully moved through the group, pulling Jin behind him as he made for the fence set up along the side before he ripped a hole for them to sneak through.
Jin tried pulling back, of course, though Hwoarang couldn't hear his protests for the all chatter around them. Nobody had noticed them yet and with a final tug he pulled Jin through the barrier and onto the soft sand beyond.
They collapsed in a heap, hidden by the high fence that was set up to keep people from wandering towards the cannons. In an instant they went from being completely surrounded to being completely alone. Hwoarang quickly climbed off the other man and pulled him to his feet.
“What are you doing?” Jin asked as he allowed himself to be led further along the beach and away from the fence.
“I wasn't about to sit there all nice and wait for the show to start,” Hwoarang puffed when they'd passed the cannons and were truly alone further along the sandy beach. “We can watch it here, just like nature intended.”
Jin shot him a wary look and rolled his eyes. “If you're thinking what I think you're thinking...” Jin's cheeks flushed a soft pink and he twinged as if he'd been stuck with a pin. “Ah, I mean, I don't think having sex on the beach is such a good idea.”
“Hey, Jinny,” Hwoarang wrapped an arm around the other man. “I'd never dream of it... well, I mean, I've dreamt of it, but even I know that shit's uncomfortable. I'd be the one picking sand out of my ass for a week.” He tilted his head to look at the other man, despite his blush, he was looking rather pale and he wondered what Devil was saying.
“He should probably be resting at home instead of frolicking on the beach with you,” Angel cut in then and Hwoarang himself twinged at the sudden intrusion into his thoughts.
'Hey, don't do that. You nearly gave me a fucking heart attack,' Hwoarang thought back, trying to make it look like he was doing something else rather than having a conversation with the angel that lived in his head. He frowned, realizing what she'd said, 'We were not frolicking!'
“Don't get me wrong, I think it's cute. Really, disgustingly cute. I had a nice cup of tea with Jun while you were busy fucking around with her son, and got caught up on old times. It was fun, and now is when I get to come back and tell you that Devil is really pissed and Jin should really be at home, meditating to get stronger...”
“Jin?” Hwoarang asked, stepping back to put a hand on either of the other man's shoulders. “Are you alright? Maybe we should go back...”
The dark-haired man had his eyes shut tightly, though he shook his head at the suggestion. He raised a finger to ask for a minute and Hwoarang stepped back, keeping his mouth shut while Jin seemed to have some inner argument.
Angel was silent as well, as if she was holding her breath along with her host as they stared out at the other man.
Jin's breathing was controlled, rhythmic. It was painful to watch, but Hwoarang stayed back, knowing that Jin needed to do it on his own. He was strong - god, he knew that Jin was strong - and that he couldn't step in every time he saw that Devil was making a snide remark.
“Aren't you going to do anything?” Angel asked, and Hwoarang could imagine her folding her arms as she said it.
'No, Jin can handle this. I'm not the hand-holding type.'
She didn't mention how he'd been the one to grab Jin's hand while they were sneaking away from the crowd, instead she sighed and he could feel that she was letting him do this his way. He knew it was the right way to handle it. Still, he watched Jin's features with a pit of anxiety churning within him that he couldn't put down. Those beautiful features remained neutral, his brow twitching once or twice and Hwoarang felt his heart pounding loudly as the other man's lip curled up in a way that reminded him of Devil's sneer.
After what felt like forever, Hwoarang could feel the sudden change as Jin's aura lightened and he released the breath he'd been holding. Heh, he knew Jin could do it, but that knowledge didn't stop him from moving forward to clap him on the shoulder just for some physical contact.
Jin shook his head, his aura seeming to brighten at the action and he straightened up to look at Hwoarang with clear eyes. “He's really mad at you,” he said with a small half-smile.
“I-I think I'm getting the hang of it,” Jin sat down in the sand and flopped backwards. He spread his arms out and looked up at the redhead. “Sending him away, I mean. I can barely hear him right now.”
“That's good,” Hwoarang put his hands on his hips and stared down at the other man. He was genuinely pleased that Jin had done it on his own. It saved him from worrying, and hopefully, Angel wouldn't bug him every time Jin had a headache. “You know... Jin,” he said, his voice taking on a purring lilt. “I'll bet we wouldn't get sand stuck if we-”
“No.” Jin's eyes were warm but firm as he looked up at the redhead.
“Aw, you're no fun!” Hwoarang flopped out beside him, propping his head behind his hands and he frowned out at the darkening sky. He'd just been messing, though he couldn't deny that there was something completely disarming and alluring about Jin stretched out on a bed of sand like that.
They lay on the beach for a while, enjoying the complete privacy that the secluded section of beach offered. Hwoarang stared up at the sky, dimly aware of the quickly vanishing sun and colour as the heavens grew dark and dotted with flickering points of light. There was a perfect moment of silence that he was only aware of as it preceded a loud explosion and the fireworks competition began.
The first competitor started off with a series of loud bangs that rang across the beach and Hwoarang swore he could feel them in the pit of his stomach. He felt his adrenaline begin to rush through his veins as three loud pops started the pace of explosions that was quickly accelerating and thundering through the sky with a simple display of pale blue and white light. The beat was incredible, something machines could accomplish easily, but would take great skill to choreograph with gunpowder and timed explosions. It worked up into a musical display of power; it was fast-paced and rhythmic and beyond loud. Hwoarang could feel the power behind each blast and he whistled in appreciation, though it was swallowed up in the vibrating air. He could feel the shockwaves rippling across his skin.
Jin leaned over to speak into his ear, "Ueda Ayame. She likes power over flashy shows."
"Doesn't everybody?" Hwoarang asked, clearly enjoying the start of the show.
"She's not as popular as some of the other competitors. She's got a few loyal fans, but she's never won the big prize."
Hwoarang frowned; with artsy shows like this, the winner was always picked based off the judges’ feelings and biases. "Shit, probably some stuffy judges that don't know a good thing..." At least with the King of Iron Fist tournament it was a cut and dried affair; the person standing at the end was the winner and that was that.
The display quickly raced up to its pinnacle, the rising scale of machinegun explosions ringing in incredible succession before a powerful blast obliterated the cacophony of sound and silenced the sky.
There was the faint sound of applause drifting down the beach from where the spectators sat. It reminded Hwoarang of the crowd at the tournaments and he thought ahead to what was waiting for them at the tournament: Jin's family, and Baek.
The quiet lull between competitors ended abruptly and Hwoarang sprang forward and watched the first volley of light that sailed up and into the sky. There was an explosion of purple that seemed to dust the way for a series of red pops before a bright, blue explosion lit everything around them. Hwoarang had seen fireworks before, but there was something about this whole experience that was different and made it so much better.
“This is Itokawa Hiroshi,” Jin said. “He's actually from Yudomari, but Onoaida is a favourite place for the competitors, so we get a lot of great artists. Itokawa specializes in colours.”
“What's so great about colours?”
“It's all about using them to create an atmosphere. Nana explained it to me before, but... well, she didn't really make much sense. Something about blue being cool and calming while red is fierce and, uh, passionate.”
“That sounds pretty gay. Hey, let's get in touch with our feelings, Kaza- oof!”
Jin pulled back from smacking Hwoarang in the belly and pursed his lips in annoyance. “In case you didn't realize, you're kinda gay too.”
“Only for you, Jinny,” he waggled his eyebrows and leaned in to kiss the other man.
A bright flash of red broke out across the sky and illuminated the sand and sea around them. The shades intensified as the explosions continued, ranging from deep crimson to bright pink and every shade in between. It seemed that Itokawa's performance was reaching its pinnacle of explosions and Hwoarang was oblivious to it as he explored the depths of the other man's mouth.
He languidly rolled his tongue against Jin’s, pushing deeply to completely fill his mouth possessively before the act was returned in kind. It lacked the desperate need of their previous kiss, the act settling around them as a rather comfortable expression of what neither man seemed ready to voice. They continued even as the colours left the sky and they were again surrounded by that impeccable silence.
Hwoarang pulled back after a few moments of silence, hovering close to Jin’s face to look into those swirling dark eyes. They were clear and warm and lacked the uncertain fear that was always dancing in their depths. He wondered if that look was reflected in his own amber eyes; was he just as exposed at that moment?
He fought the urge to bow his head and break the connection. The urge was small, though outweighed by the need to stay close. He needed to remain close to him. If there was a chance they’d be parted by what ever happened after that, then he wanted to commit that one, perfect moment to memory.
He felt a strong, near-violent need to just touch Jin and feel him, and it wasn’t lust.
His heart was terrified to tell him what it was.
He felt a tremor run through his hand as he brought it up to press against Jin’s chest and he bit back the words that were fighting to tumble from his lips.
If he said them, then they would make it real.
More real than it already was.
That moment he was committing to memory would break into something else…
Jin’s mouth turned up into a sad smile. His eyes were warm with firm resolve and he snaked a strong arm around Hwoarang’s waist, ending that perfect moment ended in the only way that it possibly could. Hwoarang let out a shaky sigh and shook his head to regain his composure. He wrapped an arm around Jin’s shoulders and they turned their attention to the next competitor that had started their performance, the loud explosions only coming into focus now that Hwoarang wasn’t lost in that moment with his rival. No, they weren’t rivals anymore, were they? He hesitated to use the term ‘lovers’ though ‘friend’ was far too weak to adequately express how he felt. He was so overwhelmed, but the only place he could stay in that moment was Jin’s side.
It was beyond what he could understand. It was just where he wanted to be.
Where he was meant to be.
~End Chapter Thirty-Two~
| Index | Chapter Thirty-Three |