Summary: The tournament is drawing to a close, meaning that the weaker fighers have been eliminated and only the strong remain. Jin's strength is put to the test; has he finally overcome Devil? Has Hwoarang fulfilled his promise?
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: Sorry for the summary, I'm not feeling very summary-y at the moment. So... it's starting to wrap up a bit. Several chapters of pure fighting, which I'm enjoying writing. It is a bit involved (kinda like smut) and takes some thought to make it interesting to read. I hope this is enjoyable and easy to understand. I didn't know how the hell the tournament could have all these messed up stages where the crowds could actually see what was going on in all the different areas (arctic and space station?!), so I decided on holographic generators and props to explain it here. (That way has probably been done before, but I haven't been reading much lately, so this might not be new to anyone reading.)
Also, please check out my poll for this project regarding a possible doujinshi collab.
"Angel/Devil's words inside Hwoarang/Jin's head"
Please see the Index for more details, chapter links and fanart.
Hwoarang rocked back on his seat, kicking his boot up on the chair in front of him and watched the monitors with rapt attention as Xiaoyu faced off against Asuka. He had some time to kill while he waited for Jin’s next match to start and the monitors were convenient and distracting from his churning thoughts.
It was interesting to watch a match on the big viewing screen; complete with the commentator’s observations, the scorings and the fancy animations that were inserted in real time to make the entire experience more exciting. The screen zoomed up on Xiaoyu as she kicked the other girl high into the air and then sent her flying halfway across the ring. He was sure the crashing sounds were dubbed in, though he had to admit that the fights looked more dazzling on television. Xiaoyu waited patiently for Asuka to climb to her feet and then she waved in a taunting fashion that seemed to enrage the other girl. Asuka scowled and said something that wasn’t picked up by the microphones before she rushed forward, only to be kicked into the air again.
Hwoarang laughed at the jokes the commentators were making just as he felt Angel shift in his consciousness and grab his attention. She was buzzing with energy – had been since he’d woken that morning to feel her pacing inside his mind. “Mind settling down?” he muttered to her, looking around to see if anybody else had heard him. “You’re making me a little edgy, ya know?”
“I’m sorry…” she said, which made Hwoarang frown. She never apologized so quickly.
‘What the hell is going on?’ Hwoarang thought in the loudest voice he could manage. ‘You’ve been tossing and turning all morning and Jin is fighting in a couple hours. Just… cut that shit out because you’re really pissing me off.’
He waited for her to respond, but she’d shut up again. He frowned just as a hand on his shoulder made him jump. He looked over at Jin who’d looked like he’d been sitting beside him for a while. He ignored Angel – who seemed to breathe a sigh of relief – and tilted his head towards the other fighter. “Who’re you up against next?”
“I don’t know,” Jin shrugged. “There’s a match happening in a few minutes in the next building; my opponent will be whoever wins that match, but…” he shifted uncomfortably and folded his arms over his chest. “I want to see that match for myself.” He looked serious, his eyes shifting to the exit. “I have a strange… feeling.”
Hwoarang nodded before looking up at the monitor and noting that Xiaoyu had mopped the floor with that Asuka girl, completely owning her in two rounds. “Then let’s see who that unlucky bastard is gonna be, Kazama. I’ve only been paying attention who my opponents are. I don’t even know who’s still in the game, so let’s check it out. This chair is uncomfortable, anyway.” He rocked back and forth a few times to add visual evidence to the statement before he followed Jin out the door.
Jin felt his heart speed up as they stepped into the largest arena that the Zaibatsu owned. The steps down to the ringside seats felt too long and narrow, the roar of the crowd was deafening, and the surging fans that engulfed them definitely made him feel a bit claustrophobic.
The match had just started and the mass of spectators were already worked into a frenzy. All attention focused to the centre of the arena where the holographic generators and construction had created a fantastic representation of Hon-Maru temple. On fire. The dark lighting and bright red glow, combined with the presence of the crowd made Jin’s stomach tighten up and he wished he’d eaten something more substantial that morning.
Without thinking, he grabbed Hwoarang’s hand, only wanting the stability that the other man offered. He sighed when he felt the Korean squeeze in response and they worked their way closer to the temple. Jin steadied his breathing as a headache started at the back of his head. “Crap…” he muttered, shaking his head just as the redhead tightened his grip to crushing force.
“Shit, that’s Baek!” Hwoarang shouted suddenly, pulling Jin close and pointing at the two fighters who were about to start off the second round amid the roaring flames. “Let’s go!” He pulled Jin’s arm, and the dark-haired fighter could only follow.
They maneuvered their way around the groups of people, past a security checkpoint and down to the ringside seats reserved for other fighters, their friends and anybody else who could bribe their way in.
It was set up like the stage of a play; with the fiery courtyard as the main stage, the set was mostly real materials, with several walls and faux buildings to solidify the illusion. Hwoarang pulled Jin to the edge of the ring, eager to get as close to his mentor as possible.
All the detail and realism was lost on Jin as he approached the set. His feet became heavy, feeling like lead and he sank to his knees, his eyes never leaving the fight happening before him. He was gripped with a pang of terror that coursed through him like electricity as he looked up into the cold, hard eyes of his father.
Kazuya saw him. Their eyes locked for a brief moment before the older man turned to deal another devastating blow to his opponent inside the ring. But that brief second was enough to leave Jin feeling like he’d been slapped in the face.
“There he is…” Devil whispered, “this should be fun…” Jin could feel the golden pillars that made the Devil’s cage, their strength weakening and crumbling in the presence of his father. The part of devil within the older man was adding strength to the beast inside his own soul. It was sudden and jarring and overwhelming. Jin sat on his haunches and watched as his father casually grabbed his opponent’s foot mid-air and threw him to the ground, breaking the floor in the process.
“D-damnit…” Jin shuddered, feeling the alien force churning within him. The pillars shuddered and rattled and somehow he looked to Hwoarang. The other man still had a firm grip on his hand and Jin drew strength from that. If Hwoarang would be there, he knew he could weather what was to come. He’d suspected that Kazuya would be there, and he just knew that his father would be his opponent in a short time. That feeling hadn’t prepared him for actually seeing the older man there – nor the surge within Devil – but the surprise was past and he would be ready. He had to be.
Jin nodded to Hwoarang and released his hand before moving to a seat and closing his eyes to centre himself. He let the sounds meld into one; the indistinct roar of the crowd swallowed up even the Devil’s growls and he breathed in the sweat and blood of the match before him. Then he transformed the scene into something else. The roaring crowd became the roaring fall of Yakushima’s Toroki falls as they crashed into the ocean. The smell of sweat became saltwater and the blood became sweet, floral, and something other than pain. He breathed out the negativity within him and inhaled light and purity. Whatever the outcome of his match, he would be strong enough to retain his own sanity.
Hwoarang bit his lip when he saw Jin start his meditation, hoping his lover was alright before looking back to the ring where Kazuya was regarding him. The older man looked between him and Jin, barely concealing the look of disgust. He sneered and turned his back just as the bell sounded to begin the third round. He clenched his fist and watched as Jin’s father faced off against Baek, the man who, essentially, had been his own father and master. Baek appeared focused, unaware of anything beyond the ring and his opponent, reacting in perfect form when Kazuya made the first move towards him. He blocked, gritting his teeth and twisted his hip, kicking out in retaliation. The match progressed; explosive and violent as the temple burned around them.
Hwoarang watched as his master moved with precision. It had been so long since he’d seen the older man fight, but it all came back to him as he moved into the Flamingo stance and prepared to dish out some hurt. Hwoarang paced back and forth, looking around the ruins of the temple and waiting for the match to end; he needed to talk to Baek about what had happened with the military. He didn’t want Baek to think he was a murderer, or that he’d abandoned him or… whatever those bastards had said about him. Yeah, he’d left Baek behind, but he didn’t have a choice. He knew that Baek could handle himself, but that didn’t stop him from feeling guilty. He muttered some choice words in Korean as he paced, feeling his own body tense as the older man was thrown across the ring, catching himself at the last minute to avoid falling on his head.
“Baek!” he called out, balling his fist when he realized he couldn’t interfere in the match. There was something wrong with his opponent. Kazuya’s eye was glowing oddly and, with a sinking feeling, Hwoarang realized what the hell was going on.
“Fuck, is he the one messing with Jin lately?” he said aloud, not caring to keep his discussion with Angel internal.
“Yes and no.”
“Start making some goddamn sense,” he said through clenched teeth as Baek Doo San successfully connected with Kazuya in a series of switch-kicks.
“Well, you’re not asking very clear questions,” Angel grated out. “But, if you want me to read your mind, then yes, you have been sensing Kazuya and his Devil affecting… oh, hell…”
She trailed off and Hwoarang felt his heart jump up into his throat. The roar of the crowd slowed and he became hyper-aware of things around them, like the South Korean flags waving about the cheering fans and the subtle movements of the fighters in the burning temple. He recognized the stance Baek had taken, performing a low-sweeping Dark Halberd which was powerful and would most likely win the round if it connected. Hwoarang watched as his master stepped low and swept his leg out; the driving limb moved through the air, missing its mark as his opponent blocked it.
Hwoarang and Angel watched as the older Korean was left open and vulnerable. The crowd’s volume seemed to escalate as Kazuya wrenched him upwards and pummeled him with a few light attacks before hunching over slightly and forcing a frightening amount of energy into his fist. The move smacked of a simple uppercut, though Hwoarang’s voice caught in his throat as Angel whispered something about an Electric Wind Godfist. Hwoarang watched as time seemed to resume and Kazuya’s fist connected. Baek’s body flew through the air, crashing down onto the ground and remained still.
The bell rang, signaling the end of the match and Hwoarang was seeing red as he rushed forward, stopped only by the barrier that surrounded the ring. He felt a burning need to exact a fighter’s revenge from Kazuya. He looked at the scarred man who was calmly observing him, a sneer of disgust written on his features as he looked between Hwoarang and Jin again, seeming to put two and two together.
Hwoarang narrowed his eyes at him as if to challenge the burning look they were receiving. They hadn’t been subtle about their relationship – not with Jin holding his hand on the way to the match – and if Kazuya had a problem with it, then fuck him. Jin didn’t need his permission, and Hwoarang sure as hell didn’t. He looked back to his lover, seeing the other man standing and ready to take on his father right then and there. He had confidence that he’d win the next match, but his thoughts were drawn back to the medics that carried his master to the side of the ring. They set Baek’s limp frame on the ground and a few Zaibatsu staff rushed around him, carrying med-kits, but he didn’t trust them for a second. He looked back to Jin who was preparing to enter the ring against his father. He tightened his jaw and nodded to him before turning and running to the side where Baek was; he needed to see to his own father.
He rushed up on them, pushing one Zaibatsu medic out of the way and grabbing another by the shoulder. He’d draw on all of Angel’s powers to heal Baek’s wounds if he had to, but with all these people getting in the way, he’d have to break some heads first. He grabbed the woman in the doctor’s coat and growled in his native tongue for her to move.
She spun around, smacked his hand free and got right in his face, chewing him out in the sweetest-sounding Korean he’d heard in a while. “Back the fuck off, asshole! I’m his personal physician,” she made ready to shove him backwards when her words died on her lips and her eyes grew big, matching Hwoarang’s expression. Her mouth tightened into a thin line that tilted up at the edges and she tightly wrapped her arms around his neck.
It took Hwoarang a moment to process what was happening, but he found his sense to return the embrace before pulling away to look at her again. “Yon, oh God, it’s really you!” he finally said, feeling the waves of relief washing over him. It felt like an eternity since he’d seen her last, and it had always been at the back of his mind that she’d be caught and punished for helping him escape from the military hospital. To see her there – with Baek – lifted a weight that had been resting on his mind. “What… how the hell did you-?”
“I’ll tell you all about it,” she cut him off, “but right now, I have to make sure he’s okay…” she returned to Baek, kneeling beside him and barking some orders to the Zaibatsu nurse that was trying to muscle her out of the way. Hwoarang was quick to take his place at his master’s side opposite the doctor and lean in, trying to get the older man’s attention.
“Baek, c’mon,” he said as he watched Yon doing her thing. “Baek? Baek? …Baek?”
“Hwoarang…” Yon warned, but the redhead couldn’t stop himself.
“I didn’t want to leave you, but those assholes were just fucking with us!” He clenched his fist in the older man’s dobuk but stopped when he realized Baek had cracked his eyes open and gave him a sideways look. “You… you’re awake!” he nearly laughed and got in closer to the man he considered his father. He never could keep his defenses up around the older man and he felt all his fears rushing out to meet him; did Baek think he was a murderer? Did he believe the lies that Major Kang would have fed him about being a traitor or whatever-the-fuck-else he’d come up with. He wanted to set the record straight right then and tell him what really happened. He had a myriad of things to say that would let the other man know, but as Baek looked at him, beaten but still strong with all of the stern, fatherly presence he’d always had and Hwoarang’s words left him and he bowed his head. “I-I’m sorry…”
“Don’t be,” Baek tried to lay a hand on his student’s head, though Yon pulled his arm back to finish bandaging his broken fingers. “It’s not like you, anyways. Yon told me all about it, so don’t worry-!” he winced in pain and looked over to the match that was taking place behind them.
Hwoarang turned in time to see Jin and Kazuya having their own father-son moment. He shifted back to his master while bowing. “I have to go… please excuse me.”
The older man smiled as he nodded, gesturing for the redhead to go see his friend while he went to the medical office. He sat up, grimacing as he pushed himself to stand. Yon argued with him, trying to push him back down, insisting he’d be carried. He tried to insist he was capable of walking, but she wouldn’t listen. Hwoarang turned away from them, half-listening to their friendly dispute while looking to the fight that was already underway.
Kazuya drove a fist through the ground of Hon-Maru temple, sending broken pieces of rock flying everywhere, narrowly missing Jin as he rolled out of the way. The two men fought with venom, like two serpents ready to fight to the death with all their poison at the ready. Jin still seemed himself, though Hwoarang noticed that he wasn’t holding anything back. If Kazuya didn’t block or dodge in time, if only one of Jin’s attacks connected, the older man would be in trouble.
“Shit, this is intense…”
“Aren’t you going to cheer him on?” Angel asked, half-joking.
“He’ll be… fine…”
“You really don’t know what’s going on, do you? Or maybe you have more faith in Jin than I do… but I doubt it.”
Hwoarang sneered at the comment, mentally recoiling from her.
“Kazuya is… the originator of the devil gene. When he supposedly died, it moved into Jin, making him its host. So, when Kazuya came back… it’s like Devil was torn in two, and with the two of them so close, those halves are calling to each other.”
“Yeah, but Jin is strong enough to handle that shit,” Hwoarang growled with a ferocity that nearly convinced himself.
“…I thought Kazuya was strong enough to handle it, especially with me helping him…” she seemed to fade away before shaking her head and focusing back on Hwoarang. “Jin’s Devil has probably been difficult lately. Ever since you two got together.”
“Being difficult? For being with me?”
“Only because you make him stronger,” Angel hummed. “Oh, and Devil doesn’t want Jin to be happy either… I don’t think Devil likes you in general, so, there’s a lot standing against you…”
Kazuya knocked Jin backwards, his fist exploding with raw energy. The younger man managed to block, but faltered and he seemed to shake his head to clear it. The brief distraction left him open as his father leapt into the air and kicked him in the face. The attack triggered an explosive bolt of blue electricity that shot from the older man and threw Jin across the room.
“Shit! Jin!” Hwoarang called as the other man crashed through some timber and stone, sending burning embers flying. He rushed to the side of the ring where Jin had landed, feeling a jolt of excitement as he saw his lover climbing from the sooty ruins. Jin wiped a splash of blood from his mouth, turning to look right at Kazuya with deadly intent before charging back to unleash a few brutal attacks of his own.
He pulled back, drawing up some strength before driving his fist into his father’s ribs with a killer Corpse Thrust. The momentum sent the older man stumbling backwards and Jin followed, never letting him fall to the ground. He kicked his father into the air, catching him with an uppercut as he fell and then slammed him through a wall. It was relentless and precise and completely foreign to Jin’s style.
“Jin!” Hwoarang called out, watching with horror as his lover moved in for the kill. “What the hell are you doing?!”
The man with the flash of blue in his raven tresses stopped dead in his tracks, his fist hovering in the air as Kazuya collapsed to the ground, unconscious. He seemed to waver, watching the older man for a long moment before lowering his head and turning away. The announcer declared him the winner and the roar of the crowd permeated the air, though he didn’t seem to notice any of it. He left the older man on the ground as he turned back to Hwoarang. His eyes were clear and wide, as if he were in shock.
The lights went down and the holographic generators faded away, leaving only a smouldering pile of rubble and timber and a full view of the mass of spectators. This sudden change seemed to trigger the crowd into a murmur of excitement as the announcer began a speech that hyped up the story behind the tournament.
Jin walked with determination towards the edge of the ring where Hwoarang was waiting. The lights were low, too dark for anyone in the stadium to see the way Hwoarang grabbed the fighter and pulled him into a crushing hug.
Jin breathed heavily against his shoulder, “Devil wanted me to kill Kazuya… and I wanted to do it too, but I couldn’t...” he pushed against Hwoarang’s chest, looking into his amber eyes. “When you called out to me… it was just like at the end of the last tournament when my mother stopped me.”
“Well, don’t get me wrong, Kazama,” he looked back to Kazuya. “I’m not sorry you mopped the floor with him – he did fuck up Baek’s shit – I just didn’t want you to give in to Devil to do it.”
“But… I think I finally did it,” Jin’s eyes were wide with excitement and he beamed with an ecstatic grin. “After you called out, I couldn’t hear Devil anymore. He’s getting weak. I think I can finish this tournament on my own…”
“Are you sure?” Hwoarang narrowed his eyes, something felt off. Devil wouldn’t just back away all of the sudden, not unless he was planning something.
“Yeah, I think so,” Jin almost laughed. “I feel really good, like I could take on the world… or even you...”
Hwoarang shifted uncomfortably, Jin seemed fine, but something was off and he couldn’t decide what. “Heh, now I know something’s wrong, if you think you can beat me, Kazama.”
He wanted to say something else, but his concerns remained unasked as several heavily armed tournament staff approached them, each packing shiny new high-tech armour and sub-machine guns. “Stop hugging; you two are scheduled to fight next,” what looked like the commander barked at them.
Another man grabbed Jin by the arm and wordlessly tried – and failed – to yank him away. Hwoarang glared at the soldiers before smirking, “What’s to stop us from kicking your asses? You saw how Kazama fought out there, imagine what I can do!”
The man closest to him sneered with cocky delight as he fired a blast from his gun into the air to show it was loaded. The cheering crowd drowned out the sound of the explosion and he aimed the gun at Hwoarang’s head. Other guards set their aim at Jin and the two fighters looked at each other. “Our boss wants to make sure you two find your way to the cathedral without any trouble.”
“That’s fine,” Jin said, winking at Hwoarang and walking towards the exit. “We’ve been waiting for our rematch for ages, right Hwoarang? We have a big rivalry, after all.”
“Yeah, that’s what they say…” He swallowed thickly and followed Jin through the exit towards the next stage.
They left the arena just as the announcer wrapped up his spiel, whipping the crowd into a near-mass hysteria for the upcoming match. “So, with his father defeated, Jin Kazama will proceed to the Cathedral where he will face off against his hated rival, Hwoarang!!”
~End Chapter Forty-Two~
| Index | Chapter Forty-Three |