Summary: The tournament is progressing nicely, and while Hwoarang advances his standing in the rankings, Jin attempts to get to know his friends.
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 is the 2nd edit to this chapter. I had intended to carry it in a strange direction, and then, after much thought, decided to play it safe and stick with my original plan. I guess that writing is a learning experience, full of failed attempts to be cool, fleshing out ideas that seemed good at the time but ended up being incredibly cheesy.
"Angel/Devil's words inside Hwoarang/Jin's head"
Please see the Index for more details, chapter links and fanart.
He could feel the sweat sliding down his cheek and dripping off his nose. He watched his opponent from under his brows and sneered in irritation at the angelic purring in his ear. Urgent whispers as she tried to give him some advice.
“Would you fuck off?” Hwoarang muttered, dodging a powerful attack from the wrestler that stood opposite him. ‘I can fight on my own. I thought you were supposed to only worry about Devil?’
“Hey, I’m starting to like you. Can I help it if I want you to win?” she almost laughed as he sprang backwards, avoiding the luchador who dove at him. “Maybe you should try some of your fancy footwork. I like seeing you do that and I don’t think he could handle it.”
“…still don’t need your help.” Hwoarang mumbled while dancing lightly on the balls of his feet and switching his stances with his kicks, taking the large man off guard.
She seemed to shut up after that, but he could still feel the mirth that was emanating from her spirit that had meshed so deeply with his. He felt the lightness and power within him throbbing to break free and release the wings from within his back. He grit his teeth and dodged a powerful kick, trying to roll to the side, but somehow failing as he was picked up and thrown across the ring. He landed gracelessly, choking on dust as it clung to his sweat-soaked body. “Fuck…”
“What are you doing? Take him out!”
He sprang to his feet and lashed out with a kick that would knock the other fighter over, giving him a moment to catch his breath. He listened to the roar of the crowd around him and the bloodthirsty way they cheered. He couldn’t distinguish who was yelling for who to win. He took a deep breath, shaking his head once before opening his eyes and fixing his opponent with a hard glare. There was no way he’d allow himself to be cut down so early in the tournament. Not by anybody but Jin.
He tensed his body, his entire frame coiled up like a spring, muscles clenching tightly before he bolted towards the other fighter. His entire body spun, his leg kicking out at the precise moment and catching the luchador in the face. He landed gracefully, his opponent crashing to the ground seconds later and the ground shook. He could feel the energy rise in the crowd and looked out to the sea of faces. There were a few flags being waved, the red, white and green standing out from the crowd, though his eyes were drawn to the grouping of South Korean flags. The white background with red and blue yin-yang was a beacon, drawing his attention almost directly to his friends and his Japanese lover who stood with them, silently watching the fight.
“Hmm, that’s round one,” the redhead muttered, looking back to the other fighter in the ring. The other man was climbing to his feet, growling through the leopard mask as he did. Hwoarang flicked a trickle of blood from his nose and focused his attention back to the other man. Everything seemed to fade away; angel’s pestering, the cheering crowd, his own bruised body. He could only see his opponent before him, though, as he took his stance and the bell for the second round sounded, he swore he could feel Jin’s gaze on him.
“C’mon, ‘Rang! House-train that cat!!”
Jin stood to the side of the crowd that had all-but absorbed him into their group and marched him into the arena to watch Hwoarang fight. He thought everyone would have ignored him and gone to watch Hwoarang without him, but that man with the blonde hair had made a point of bringing him along. The only ones he knew in the group were Hwoarang’s friends and the men from the onsen in Yakushima. His head was still swimming with how he’d come to be there. He’d foolishly answered the door to his room without checking the peephole. Before he’d known what was happening, he’d been put in a headlock, pulled into the hallway and dragged off to the match amid a crowd of Hwoarang’s countrymen. His presence in the group had gained them access to decent seating, which he suspected was one of the reasons Doyon had brought him along, but he had to admit that once they got seated, he didn’t mind being invited along. They were overly enthusiastic in supporting the redhead, who represented them, and the blonde was at the centre of the cheering mass of people; the man Hwoarang claimed to be his childhood friend. Jin had never imagined the redheaded fighter having any good friends, let alone such old and close ones. Even considering the man’s history with Hwoarang, Jin still kept on the outskirts of any conversation that the bottle blonde tried to engage him in; his words were tinged with greed and Jin was left on edge whenever the topic of the Zaibatsu was brought up. There was also a pretty woman in the group who he’d briefly met in the hotel room, though was never properly introduced to. She reminded him a bit of his mother… though, he’d never really seen his mother yelling into a cell phone so eloquently as this woman.
She appeared to be fumbling over a few words, though Jin knew English well enough to see she could handle herself with it, even her firm tone bespoke of how she was commanding the situation. She was proper and businesslike on the phone, but that dropped the minute the phone snapped shut and Jin’s ears were burning with the string of cursing that shot past her lips. He was glad that his Korean was so rusty that he only caught a few words. She smiled sweetly enough at him when she was finished her rant with Doyon and even made polite chit-chat with him, though Jin was glad when the phone rang again and she had to excuse herself to deal with the caller in an area that wasn’t packed with roaring fans. She skillfully maneuvered her way to the stairs and out to the hallway, leaving behind the only other member of the group that Jin hadn’t properly met.
The dark-haired man turned to find the boy he’d only seen talking to Hwoarang but never had the chance to speak with – not that he was eager to interact with children. He always felt like he should be trying to smile more just to make them feel more at ease, but it was so tiring to keep up such an act, and then there was the fact that topics of conversation that would interest him and them were few and far between. He looked over at the boy who was bouncing on the balls of his feet, clinging to the railing for dear life and practically trying to climb down to the ground level. Jin looked over to the people they were with, and realized that he’d have to be the one to grab the kid before he fell.
“Don’t fall,” he said, walking down to where this boy was and then ineffectively standing there and hoping he listened. The boy reminded him of a little Hwoarang, although he didn’t know why.
“But, I wanna see… ohh! Did you see that, Jinny? That was Hwo’s Sky Rocket move! He told me about it once, but I can never get my leg moving fast enough…”
The boy stopped trying to climb over the railing long enough to witness Hwoarang repeat the move a second time. He kicked King high into the air before he rolled onto his feet and followed up with a flourish of kicks as the luchador fell to the ground. The execution was fluid and precise and Jin had to admire the way his lover moved when in the heat of battle – he’d never had the opportunity when he was fighting Hwoarang directly. Then his attention shot back to the kid. “How’d you know about his moves, uh…?” he trailed off, realizing that he’d never been properly introduced to the boy or the angry phone-woman.
“I’m Sun,” the child filled in the blank with a knowing wink. Damn, hadn’t Jin see Hwoarang do something similar? “Uncle Hwo was living at Doy’s place for a couple of weeks and he taught me how to fight a little bit.” He looked down to where Hwoarang was delivering the final blow to his opponent. “I want to be just like him… even though he’s so good, I hope I can be that great.”
Jin didn’t know what to say, he looked out at the ring as Hwoarang stood victorious, though his gaze was directed right at Jin. He could feel it. “Nothing worthwhile comes easily, Sun,” he found his mouth moving, though he didn’t know where the words were coming from. “If you want something, then you have to work for it,” his words rang true for training and fighting, though he couldn’t help think of it in a different light when he looked down to the redhead in the ring. “And if you don’t know you want it, you have to work twice as hard…” he breathed the last bit, though he was sure that Sun had heard him, even over the roar of the crowd as the Koreans around them leapt into the air as one solid mass of jabbing limbs and waving flags.
~End Chapter Thirty-Nine~
| Index | Chapter Forty |