Summary: Jin and Hwoarang are preparing to leave Yakushima, with only a few things left to prepare. Devil always has something to say, and Jin finally puts his foot down.
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: This one is a bit short, though I did have fun reading up on Shōchū. I don’t know why I had to get all detailed and weird, but yeah. There is a special version of Shōchū in Yakushima called Mitake (25% and 32% Yumm!).
I’m planning on updating this project weekly. Yes, every week. It’s now at the top of my priorities and will be the only writing I work on until I’m finished (maybe April? Yeah, that soon!) I have all the notes written out for it, I managed to get a large chunk written up that just needs to be edited a lot and I want to really finish it and show you guys how it turns out. Hell, *I* want to see how it turns out! (I feel so bad for the mini-hiatus over the New Year.)
"Angel/Devil's words inside Hwoarang/Jin's head"
Please see the Index for more details, chapter links and fanart.
The next day Jin woke to the delicious smells of breakfast cooking on the stove and Devil’s gruff commentary rattling in his head. Hwoarang was singing something in his native tongue and seemed oblivious to everything around him. Jin grunted in annoyance as he feigned sleep and dealt with that dark presence that seemed to have escaped its cage… again.
“That boy will be singing a different tune when I get my claws into him again,” Devil cackled in his higher-pitched tone. “I can’t believe how weak he is... and he’s infecting you with it! You’re getting soft, my precious host.”
Jin shut his eyes and focused on shutting him out. Devil was pushing images into his mind’s eye, distracting images of Hwoarang’s body torn apart, his wide, accusing eyes staring up at Jin from a sputtering pool of blood.
‘You can’t distract me,’ he thought, trying to ignore the images. ‘You’ll never use my body for that evil…’ he created a light inside his mind, shining bright with an impossibly gold aura.
Devil seemed to growl at its creation and dug his claws into Jin’s mind, changing the focus of the threatening visions. This time the scene was different; Hwoarang was alive, with a look of hurt betrayal on his face as he struggled against Jin’s clawed hands. Jin shuddered upon seeing how brutally Devil intended to rape Hwoarang. His concentration faltered and the golden cage seemed to crack. The visions of blood filled his mind’s eye, streaming from the gashes across Hwoarang’s face and the impossible violence that Devil would use lower on his body. It was vivid and terrifying. 'Y-you won't do it. I'll kill myself before you can, you bastard,' he shuddered and Devil's high-pitched cackle rang through his head.
"Oh, Jinny, you can be so melodramatic. Suicide isn't always the answer; sometimes it's more fun to just give in…"
Jin screwed his eyes shut and calmed his racing heart. Devil wanted him to get upset. It was just an illusion and he took a deep breath, calming his emotions as he grasped at the pure light that always burned within him. He searched through his soul until he found it, bravely shining at the heart of Devil's nightmares. He seized that feeling, completely immersing himself in its benevolence. The darkness receded, sucked back like smoke and revealing the evil creature who hovered close. Devil Jin loomed a few feet away from him, his face was a mirror image of Jin’s visage, only twisted with anger and bloodlust. Two awful horns sat heavily upon his head, curling up and out like a bull. His torso was bare, showing tribal markings along his heaving chest as his black wings spread out behind him; challenging. His presence would have been threatening and terrifying, had it been real.
But it wasn’t. It was nothing but an illusion.
For all Devil’s posturing and threats, Jin was still in control of his mind and he used that control to knock the demon back. He focused on a point of light that was burning brightly in the heavens. He could feel its weight and power, sparking even brighter as he pulled against it, hauling it down to earth. It screamed through the air like a bolt of lightning until the solid form buried itself in the rock by Devil’s feet. The creature reached out the smash the beam, but reeled back as the pillar burned his fist. Jin looked back to the heavens, willing more points of light to appear in the dark sky. They sparkled as they fell, the barrage of pillars quickly coming into focus, landing like machinegun fire around Devil. Each beam fell in alignment with one another, creating a perfect circle around the beast.
With each pillar of light that fell, Jin could feel the darkness lessening. Devil was cursing at the top of his lungs, thrashing about in a bid to escape the cell before Jin finished. The dark creature lunged towards the raven-haired man, but Jin kicked out and sent his evil doppelganger slamming back into the cage as the final section fell into place.
Jin turned from the golden prison, smiling as he listened to Devil pound on the walls, the faint noise barely audible. This cage felt stronger, it would surely take Devil a while to claw his way free. The creature was nothing but a dull thunder in the background of his consciousness and Jin turned from the muted screams, happy to open his eyes once more and face the day and Hwoarang.
Jin opened his eyes to find that the Korean was still singing under his breath as he clattered around in the kitchen. The Japanese man pretended to wake up, noting how Hwoarang’s light-tone immediately vanished and his grittily-accented Japanese shot over to him.
“It’s about time you woke up, Kazama. It’s no fun watching someone else sleep.”
“Well, you could have stayed asleep too… what time did you get up?” Jin rubbed his eyes, noticing that the sun had barely started shining through the window. It was still early.
“Didn’t sleep,” Hwoarang said, setting the table. He’d obviously had plenty of time to make breakfast as the scent of freshly-caught fish reached Jin’s nose and he was reminded of the first day that Hwoarang had cooked breakfast for him.
“What do you mean you didn’t sleep?” Jin asked, rubbing the sleep from his eyes and climbing to his feet to sit at the table.
“I mean I couldn’t sleep. Fucking insomnia or something,” he muttered, lifting a cup to his lips and drinking the steaming contents. “I figured there was no point in waking you with my tossing and turning, so… I caught breakfast again.”
“Ah,” Jin said, leaning over to look and see what was on the cooker. He’d wanted to make breakfast sometime, but it seemed that Hwoarang was always up before him. He’d have to plan to beat him to the punch one morning. He filled his cup with tea and brought the hot liquid to his lips before looking sharply at Hwoarang’s cup. “Wait, are you drinking my tea?”
“Yeah, I figured I deserved some of the good stuff since I’m always making your meals for you.” He smacked his lips and looked down at the cup, “It’s so weird; I feel so… ready to fight, but I’m relaxed too.”
Jin nodded and smiled, knowing full-well how the tea made him feel. He sighed; they had a lot to accomplish if they wanted to get to the tournament. They’d probably have to leave in a couple of days, and he wanted to fully strengthen himself against Devil before that happened. He had a sneaky feeling that his father would be there and when he met the older man, he knew that Devil would become stronger.
“I’d like some time to myself today,” Jin said once he’d finished eating.
“That’s fine, I was going to find out about the ferry service outta here, maybe rent a bike to take us up to the point, since I know that Onoaida doesn’t have one…” Hwoarang sniffed, giving Jin the impression that he wasn’t saying everything he intended to do. “Can I have some money? I’ll need it to rent the bike and get the tickets and… stuff.” He looked across at Jin with amber eyes that screamed he was definitely up to no good.
Jin’s lip quirked upwards and he nodded. He didn’t know what the Blood Talon had planned, but he trusted him and didn’t care as long as it wasn’t… well, he trusted Hwoarang anyways.
Jin really should have found out where in town Hwoarang wanted to meet him. He’d enjoyed a pleasant bath in one of the small waterfalls close to his house, and managed to strengthen the walls on Devil’s cage that he’d built that morning. He was feeling confident in himself and was eager to find Hwoarang. That led him to where he was at that moment; wandering down the main street of Onoaida, wishing he had some sort of tracking device that would lead him to the other man. Would Hwoarang come looking for him if he just went home to wait? It was his biggest problem at that moment, and the smallest one when he thought of what was waiting for them at the tournament.
“Damnit, Hwoarang. Why’d you have to take off before we figured out the plan?” he muttered to himself, entertaining stopping by Nana’s café to ask if his friend had been to visit her, but thought better of it. She’d probably pull him in to try a new dish. Hwoarang wouldn’t go there if Jin wasn’t with him. He had a feeling that Nana was too much for even Hwoarang’s energy level. He neared the edge of town, firmly deciding to turn around and walk home once he’d reached the last building. He watched the houses and shops as he passed, noticing that the spaces between each were growing larger the further he walked – probably because expansion into the rainforest was restricted. A few bikes lined up outside a building caught his eye as he passed, but it took his mind a few moments process that fact.
He stopped short and backed up to look at the bikes. It couldn’t be…
The building was dark and dingy and smelled like a bar.
Jin rolled his eyes and walked over, pulling the door open and marched inside, knowing without a doubt that Hwoarang was there.
It took Jin one second to spot Hwoarang’s bright, orange head of hair sitting at the bar. The rest of the patrons seemed dark and dingy by comparison and Jin beelined towards him, perching himself on a bar stool beside the Korean. He opened his mouth to ask what the hell happened to his hair, but Hwoarang cut him off and called the bartender over to order two drinks. The man returned with a dark, brown bottle and two glasses, eyeing the two of them before setting them down on the worn bartop and leaving.
Jin didn’t drink often. It didn’t feel like it was his style, though it did seem like Hwoarang’s…
He raised the glass to his lips.
“Bottoms up!” the Blood Talon said, and Jin hit it back. The last thought that crossed his mind was that it was definitely not sake, and then that biting liquid washed down the back of his throat and it felt like he was breathing fire.
He sputtered, coughed and did fairly well in hiding his shock, though his face burned brightly and it felt as if everyone in that little watering hole was watching him. The only reason he was there at all was sitting right beside him, smirking fiercely.
“You alright there, Kazama?” he asked, clapping Jin on the shoulder as he casually reached back to tilt the dark, brown bottle of shōchū over their glasses again.
“I’m fine,” Jin licked his lips and repressed the urge to cough as he eyed his refilled glass that was waiting for him. “You re-dyed your hair.” No harm in delaying the next taste of that burning liquid, though he felt like the sudden change in topic was too blunt to fool the other man.
Hwoarang seemed to brighten at the comment and he brushed his fingers through the now-short mane of red. “Yeah, I can’t go to the tournament without looking pretty.”
Jin schooled his face into a deadly serious expression and pressed his hand to his chest in mock surprise. “I just realized how vain you are, ‘Rang.” The newly awakened need to banter and flirt was bubbling beneath him and he was in the mood to tussle with words. A little harmless flirting between men… in a bar.
“Shut up, Kazama,” Hwoarang’s defenses sprang to life and he frowned. “I promised Momo that I’d take you to the salon too.”
Jin felt his stomach sink at that. A promise to that woman couldn’t be taken back, and he’d never been brave enough to visit her daughter’s salon. Mystery food was one thing, but he was fastidious about his hair. “I don’t need to go to the salon.”
Hwoarang gave him a look that did little to whittle down his resolve. “Jin…”
“It’s fine, I’ll just do something when we get to the tournament, or maybe I’ll just tie it back… or buy some scissors…” he was grasping at straws, clawing for an excuse to avoid going. He was feeling anxious at the thought of going, and then that cracked the moment Hwoarang reached out to touch him. The rough and brash redhead brushed his fingers through Jin’s hair, raking his nails against his scalp and spreading out to press his palm into the dark locks. Jin leaned into the touch, feeling his anxiety seem to melt away and if he hadn’t been perched on a barstool, he might have tried to get comfortable.
“Don’t get me wrong, Kazama,” Hwoarang’s fingers suddenly curled into a fist in the soft mane, pulling Jin close until he could feel the Korean’s hot breath on his cheeks. “You look hot like this… really fucking hot, but if you don’t get a trim, I might grab you at the tournament. Just. Like. This…” He accentuated every word with a gentle tug, the usual competitive venom was missing from his threat, and it was replaced with a husky desire that made Jin swallow thickly. Maybe a haircut wouldn’t be so bad…
The Blood Talon released his grip on Jin’s hair and turned back to the shōchū, indicating they should drink up before leaving. Jin lifted the glass to his lips and looked around at the people gathered in that dark, seedy hole. It was definitely off the beaten path, not a place for tourists or people with gentle dispositions. The place felt like rough dirt and filth and he really felt out of place there. He could feel a few people watching them, but for the most part, people kept to themselves; either too intoxicated to see them flirting, or too disinterested to care.
He watched as the Blood Talon poured another drink, observing the casual way in which he moved; admiring his relaxed posture and the way that he seemed to meld into his environment. There might as well have been a spotlight on Jin for how stiff he felt right then.
“I’m surprised that your little island has a place like this in it…” Hwoarang piped up, seeming to voice Jin’s thoughts. He fingered the glass as he set it back on the bar and sighed. “But I guess everything has it’s dark and shitty side, right? I mean, you’ve gotta be the most clean-cut guy I know, but you’ve got something dark in ya. And I don’t mean him,” he quickly added. “Y’know, there’s just something about the way you look at me sometimes that gets me all hot… and you’re starting to swear too. You’ll be hustling marks with me by the time I’m done with ya.”
“I doubt it,” Jin drank the last of his glass, resigning himself to go to the salon. “If Angel stays with you much longer, you might be paying your taxes and teaching Tae Kwon Do to orphans.”
Hwoarang stood to leave, dropping some crumpled bills on the bar before withdrawing a cigarette from his pack. The long, white cylinder hung from his lips and he sparked it to life, the flame dancing on the end before he inhaled deeply. “Don’t be ridiculous, Kazama. Paying taxes isn’t my style.”
~End Chapter Thirty-Three~
| Index | Chapter Thirty-Four |