Summary: Jun's cry for help brought them together, and now that the danger has past, there is nothing that could keep them apart. They have a whole lifetime ahead of them and actions speak louder than words.
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: The last chapter (with the exception of the Epilogue, which will flesh out a few things after this.) If I hadn't mentioned it already, I have an aversion to the words "I love you". I don't like saying them irl, and it bothers me to see characters say them. I read a few books on writing that outlines the art of show don't tell. I decided to have Hwo and Jin show that they love each other. (Let me know what you think, if you have a mind to.)
Remember, the Epilogue follows, so this is *technically* not finished.
"Angel/Devil's words inside Hwoarang/Jin's head"
Please see the Index for more details, chapter links and fanart.
The landscape was empty and nondescript. His mind was white. White and blank, and while Jun didn’t mind the peaceful surroundings, she did find it a bit disconcerting when she considered it was Hwoarang’s mind she was in. She looked down to the man curled up beside her, his head resting comfortably in her lap as he remained in an unconscious stupor. She absently brushed her fingers through his red hair, mulling over the events that had happened up to that point. She really did owe him more than she could ever give. She had never expected him to go so far for her son, to put himself in such danger to defeat Jinpachi.
“I kinda don’t wanna leave…”
The statement drew Jun’s attention away from her charge. Her gaze darted over the stark, empty landscape to the angel draped over the unidentifiable ground. Her usually pristine wings had greyed somewhat and she could barely lift her head to address Jun properly. Her chest heaved deeply; catching every breath, she could to continue speaking.
“Don’t tell him, but I think he’s earned something from us, Jun… and I hate seeing his mind so empty, compared to before…”
“How are you doing?” Jun asked when it seemed the angel had trailed off. Between Angel and Hwoarang, Jun had been more concerned for her guardian spirit. Jinpachi had been vicious in his attacks that had ripped off Hwoarang’s wing. The shock had torn through Angel’s being, slamming her and Jun off to the side and effectively taking them out of the game. The elder Mishima knew exactly what he had been doing, trying to remove any help that might give Hwoarang a chance to win. She had to admit she was not surprised when Hwoarang managed to win on his own, regardless of the staggering odds.
“I’ll live,” Angel sighed, resting her arm across her forehead. “I… really need a break, though. I’ve been stuck in this kid’s head for too long…” she reached up to the sky, seeming to watch her hand against the white background. “I’ve used everything I have left to heal him and he’s still like this, it pisses me off!”
“It’s fine,” Jun said, stroking Hwoarang’s red mane again. “They’ll be fine.” She was glad she chose him, and even happier that Jin chose him as well. Her son had grown up and was making his own decisions. She was glad Hwoarang would stick with him now that he had leveled the playing field between Jin and Devil. She did not doubt that the dark force within her son would try to gain control again. She counted on it, but at least it would be an even match; no external forces or influences egging Devil on and beating Jin down.
She could not hold back a smile. Hwoarang wouldn’t take shit from anybody trying to manipulate Jin and use him for their own purpose.
She loved her son dearly, but knew he was too trusting. Despite how often he had been deceived in the past, he was still given to trusting the wrong person and being betrayed all over again. Hwoarang was a great compliment to him, and Jin seemed to bring out something good in the Korean as well. She could not put her finger on it, but he seemed… different. Changed from the man she had first laid eyes on in the Korean military base.
“I know you like to just think they’ll be fine, but he’s been like this for the past three days, and I can’t do anything else for him. Hell, I haven’t even looked in on Jin to see how he’s doing. He was pretty banged up last I saw… not as bad as what that old bastard did to ‘Rang, though.” Angel sighed heavily, moaning as she tried to roll over. Her wings shuddered, a few silvery feathers falling to the ground. “I don’t wanna leave just yet…”
Jun nodded and thoughtfully brushed her fingers along Hwoarang’s cheek. The landscape held nothing of note, and yet it felt like it was shifting. There were glimmers of colour that teased on the horizon, threatening to put some attitude and upheaval into that void in the Blood Talon’s head. Things were healing slower than she would have liked, but after the injuries he had sustained, it was a miracle they had been able to save him at all.
Jin stepped gingerly along the trail through the forest. He was always careful not to tread outside the worn path from his cabin along the way to the waterfall he used for meditation. The leaves seemed green, more vibrant than they should have been and he vaguely thought of how colours always looked stronger in his dreams.
He stepped carefully, feeling his back tighten at the crunching noises that followed. He did not turn back; it was pointless. He could not see the person who followed, not clearly, but it was the knowledge that mattered. Knowing they were there for him, even if he could not see. The presence followed him, widening the path to his waterfall, making it big enough for two.
Everything was very misty and dreamy. He thought he heard the sound of a monkey cackling overhead and he was sure the presence bristled at the sound. The spray of the water hung in the air, shimmering with the colours of a rainbow in the morning sunlight; this place always made him feel at ease.
That person was red, passionate, and strong. They were not supporting him, but he drew comfort in their presence, though they did not follow when he dove into the water. That was fine. His clothes weighed down by the liquid and he dove deep, leaving the surface world behind.
He pushed himself deeper into the pond that seemed to go on forever. The water changed, leaving the light, airy blues behind him as he ventured deeper to some glimmer that beckoned him. A purple light tinged the indigo water with an electric hue, emanating from a place deeper still and Jin kicked his legs. His goal was down there, he had to visit something and it was not until he landed on the bottom of the pond that he came face to face with his darker half.
The creature’s lip curled up in disgust, but this time it had nothing to say as it stared out from its cage.
Jin said nothing either, watching Devil through the golden bars of the prison, buried so deep beneath the calm water of his mind.
After their fight against Hwoarang, the inner battle had started between Devil and Jin. The black beast had fought with venomous drive, his strength tripled as the external influence still throbbed in the outside world, giving him power.
Jin had risen to match him blow for blow, and when his strength would have given out, he still found the will to continue fighting. He felt that presence, still waiting for him at the waterfall, and he knew he was not alone. Even if Hwoarang was not physically there for him, he still drew strength from the Blood Talon and everything he felt for him.
Devil’s surprise had been gratifying as the first pillars of the cage had appeared. Jin could not explain the feeling that washed over him when he thought of Hwoarang. It was as if his chest hurt, but it was such a comforting and delicious hurt it made his face crack into a smile. It was like a fountain of energy that welled within him and he slammed the cage around his black beast with immeasurable satisfaction.
He now regarded Devil. The creature that wore his face, twisted and feared, was as a caged beast lost beneath a mountain. He might escape, as he had before, but Jin knew without a doubt that he would be ready for him.
He eyed the cage, the gold glinting in the murky depths. The vibrant purple energy followed Devil in a hazy aura as he paced within his cell, bracing against the bars and shrieking as the gold burned him.
Jin watched his doppelganger with reserved elation; things would probably never be over between them. However, at that moment he felt more hopeful about the future, more than he ever had ever before.
He said no word as he turned to swim back to the surface, eager to meditate beneath his waterfall and focus on healing his physical body. For the first time in his life his future revolved around something other than Devil or his cursed bloodline. It was only about him, and his worth as a man. Hwoarang’s presence reminded Jin that he did matter and there was the possibility of a normal life for the both of them.
The only things standing before them were time and fate.
“I’m tellin’ ya, man. He’s gonna wake up tonight.” Doyon’s voice.
“You said that last night and the night before.” Moon sounded irritated and tired.
“He’s in a coma.” That was definitely Baek. “I hope he recovers, but the doctors say he won’t come around for a few more weeks. I don’t see the point in sitting around…” Damnit, he had never heard Baek’s voice waver like that. Hwoarang felt a part of himself swell with importance.
“Trust me.” Yon sounded close. “I want to be here when he wakes up.”
Hwoarang listened to her move around his bed, feeling a bit too comfortable to let them know he was semi-awake.
“What’s the matter?” Yon asked again. “This is just like the last time he was in a coma after that incident with Chin, only we don’t know what did this to him.”
“I’m worried,” Baek’s voice was low, deep in thought. “I keep remembering something. They didn’t find the body of Hwoarang’s final opponent, what if it was the monster that attacked me a few years back, that ‘God of Fighting’?”
“The fact that the man’s alive should tell ya that whatever it was, it lost!” It sounded as if Doyon had leapt to his feet, or was trying to use volume to convince everyone. “Hwoarang probably kicked its ass so bad it exploded into dust. Whatever, man. He won the damn tournament so let’s be happy we’re friends with a multi-millionaire, now, eh?”
Hwoarang lied there in a daze, his body still sleeping and resistant to moving. His mind felt fuzzy, but the news sobered him a little. He had… won? He felt his ego swell at that knowledge. He wanted to run to find Jin and tell him the news, and then he felt his stomach twist into knots. Where was Jin?
“Would you shut the fuck up?” Moon hissed. “I know you’re all happy and shit, but goddamnit, it’s one o’clock in the morning and Sun’s sleeping right here. Let’s just sit and wait for Hwoarang to wake up like last night and the night before, okay?” Her voice dripped sarcasm that could have melted like acid.
The room went quiet for a bit after that and Hwoarang listened to the rhythmic beeping of some heart monitor machine, raising his eyebrows to feel the bandages over his head. His body felt so warm and fuzzy, but he was still able to crack an eye open to look at the people gathered by the side of his bed.
The room was larger than the one he had stayed in, with couches and a big screen TV that hung on the wall in front of him. He looked down at his bed, noticing that it was practically a queen-sized mattress. He felt the bandages crinkle as he flexed his face muscles. The bandage over his nose was hard and obscured his view of his friends. Without thinking, he lifted a hand to remove the irritating cast.
That little action seemed to snap the silence in the room. Before his fingers could close around the hardened plaster, all the people in the room seemed to leap from their seats and making loud noises of surprise. Someone grabbed his hand, keeping it away from his nose and pulled his attention to her. He noticed many things about her that he would not normally see or care about; like how she’d cut her hair in a new style, or how she was wearing casual clothes – a nice green shirt that made him feel calm for reasons he could not remember – and jeans. Her eyes seemed tired and the way that Baek came up behind her, resting a hand on her shoulder was unmistakable. All these little details seemed to stand out to the Blood Talon in that split second; even the fact that she seemed the least surprised out of everyone there.
“It’s about time you woke up,” Yon said, giving his hand a squeeze before stepping back to let everyone else crowd around the bed.
Evidence of Baek’s fight with Kazuya was still evident in the bandage that covered his one arm and in the way he moved to Hwoarang’s side. The Blood Talon looked up at his teacher, suddenly thinking this was his chance to set things straight with the whole military fuck-up. Whatever they had told him, any lies that said Hwoarang was a murderer or traitor or whatever could be cleared up… and yet, Baek’s smile seemed to erase any fears Hwoarang had. It was as if he already knew, or was sorry himself.
Hwoarang could not remember the last time he had seen the older man smile and that little act cleared any doubts that Baek thought any less of him. He felt the bandages tightening around his head as he smiled and then shifted his gaze away to Doyon.
His happy feelings from Baek shifted to ones of being overwhelmed as the blonde’s bright yellow shirt nearly blinded him. It was even brighter than his hair (if that was possible) and his flip-flops made sound as he moved across the floor to get into Hwoarang’s face. “Holy shit, you’re awake!”
Hwoarang rolled his eyes a bit at the volume. “Yeah… damnit, stop yelling. My hearing is fine.” He grunted as Doyon reached out to shove him a bit.
“My man! Nothing can keep you down! I should have placed bets or something!”
“I’m still injured…” Hwoarang rolled his eyes, trying to be convincing.
“Not much,” Doyon said, reaching out to touch the redhead. He squeezed Hwoarang’s shoulder reassuringly before shifting over to his back, searching for the elusive wings, his expression dropping a fraction when he realized they had gone.
“So, where’s Jin?” Hwoarang looked away, pressing his palms into the mattress, trying to sit up. He felt hands on him, pushing him down and he looked at Yon. “The hell?”
“I know you’re probably fine,” she started, but her voice was firm and unmoving. “But you’ve been in a coma twice, and I don’t care what abilities you have to heal yourself. You’re going to stay put until we can examine you again. Properly.”
“But what about Jin?” Hwoarang could not keep the spark of anxiousness from his question. He looked to Baek who seemed to agree.
Doyon shrugged. “I figured the bad shit that was happening to you was happening to him too. We got him a room across the hall to keep him close… but he hasn’t woken up since his fight with you.” He shrugged, then flinched as Moon smacked him.
She glared at the blonde before smiling back at Hwoarang. “Don’t go visiting him until you’re better,” she picked Sun up and braced him against her shoulder. “It’s nice to know you’re better, ‘Rang. I’m tired and going to sleep. Now. See you later.” She turned to leave, pausing only to look over her shoulder and Doyon seemed to follow like a scared puppy.
“Right,” he turned his head, not daring to stop walking as his flip-flops sounded. “Hurry up and get better so we can start spending some of your mon~ey. I’ll help, I’ve got some idea- OW!” he exclaimed as Moon did something just outside the room.
Yon and Baek stood to leave as well; the doctor leading the way for the older fighter who moved stiffly to the foot of the bed. Baek seemed to hesitate, his face unreadable, his fist tightening by his side as he gave a half-smile and nodded. Hwoarang never looked away as his mentor left the room, feeling as if things were right in his life once more. Now that Baek was alive and away from the military all was right.
Well… that wasn’t true. The real reason his life was turned on its ear for the better was lying in the room across the hall. Hwoarang shuddered as he pressed himself against the mattress, waiting for the footsteps to fade down the hallway and the quiet of the hospital to take over. He had played this game before, listening for potential interruptions before doing what he wanted. Baek and Yon’s voices faced away, interrupted by the far-off bell of the elevator arriving and leaving, signalling to the Blood Talon knew he was truly alone.
He lied there for a moment longer, watching the moonlight shining into the room, falling across his bed. His feet created mountains under the white hospital blankets and he decided he had seen too many hospitals in too short a time. He hated them before, but that feeling was starting to deepen. He wriggled his toes, watching the mountains move in the moonlight and he waited for Angel’s tone, telling him to do something. He was actually surprised that she had not commented on the outcome of the tournament at all. He closed his eyes, trying to remember the dream that he had experienced while asleep. It had been very important, and he knew that Jun had paid him a visit, but the more he tried to remember, the more it unravelled. He remembered her white dress, and silvery-white feathers, but when he tried to chase the feathers, the words muted and her mouth shifted silently.
He frowned; his mind felt empty.
He frowned further, no, not empty, but rather it was all his again.
He rolled his eyes when the vague impression of loneliness flitted across his emotions. “Good,” he sighed, looking at the flowers and cards propped up along the windowsill. “Thanks, though… for everything.”
He thought he could feel her grumble in response, saying he owed her next time, but he chalked it up to brain damage and chuckled as he flung the blankets aside, ready to get the hell out of there.
His muscles resisted when he swung his legs over the edge of the mattress and immediately regretted moving so soon. He hopped onto the cool floor and his head began pounding with the change in position, his legs wobbling beneath him as he fought to remain standing. The bed was, blessedly, stable and he flailed backwards, clinging to the metal railings for dear life as he tried to come to grips with the surging vertigo.
“Ungh,” he muttered, bowing his head and pressing a hand to his temple. It took a moment before he could feel the pressure abating from his temples, flowing back into the rest of his body to fuel everything else that hurt. Why was he so sore? Last time Angel had healed him completely. He chastised himself for the question as soon as it formed. “Heh, whatever, I don’t need your help,” he said to no one in particular. “I’ll fucking heal, my way.”
The Blood Talon straightened his back, feeling several joints popping at the movement and he hobbled forward. He padded across the floor, detaching himself from the intravenous and any other devices the physicians had seen fit to hook up to him. He tightened the drawstring on the baggy, hospital pants, keeping them from hanging too low on his hips as he approached the door and pressed his back to the wall to peek out. It was habit, instinct, but he did not want to walk into any guards that might be outside – the hospital was still under the control of the Zaibatsu. Which he owned.
That thought kept churning in the back of his mind as he pushed the door open to step across the dimly-lit hallway. The door opposite his room was closed, though not locked. He wrapped his fingers around the handle, opening it as quietly as possible and shutting it behind him with equal care as the rhythmic beeping of a heart monitor broke the still night.
The room was a mirror image of his, equally as big with a large-screen television, furniture and an extra-large bed. The Blood Talon moved through the room, noticing the windowsill teeming with flowers and cards. Well, neither of them seemed to be wanting for fans, at least. He glanced at Jin, sideways at first, but that first little glance pulled him in and he turned fully to see the other fighter and the extent of his condition.
It was… worse than he thought it would be.
“Oh, Jin…” he quickly moved to the bedside, taking in the damage he had caused. Jin wore bandages around his head, his arm was in a cast and Hwoarang’s hand shook as he reached out to trace over Jin’s body. He had done this. The beeping machines and the utter stillness in the room churned in Hwoarang’s mind. The fact that Jin had asked him to render his body to this point seemed like a weak reason that had made sense at the time, but fell short of making him feel any better.
All he could see were the angry and ugly bruises around Jin’s face and feeling the spring of anger welling up inside of himself. He wanted to explode and just… do something!
Instead, he found himself pulling a chair close to the bed and biting his lip as he reached out to take Jin’s hand. “You’ll be fine now,” he whispered, feeling his throat tighten and he clenched his jaw tightly.
Jin’s face remained serene, oblivious. Patches of dark hair poked through the bandages around his head. Hwoarang held Jin’s hand, worming his fingers into his closed palm and surprised when he felt something soft clutched inside. Prying those fingers apart revealed a single, white feather. The Blood Talon pinched it between his thumb and forefinger, inspecting it like it would burst into flames if he looked away. He looked down at Jin, realizing the other man had probably grabbed it in their fight and not let it go since then. He spun it around, seeing the way the feather shone in the darkness, though, its edges were tinged with sweat from being trapped in Jin’s hand and… it seemed as if it were red in parts; the colour seeping along the edges and travelling inwards. “Damnit,” he looked back to Jin and thought of Angel’s power. He had used that power to heal Hitch, and now he was shit-outta-luck when he really needed her. He clenched the feather in his palm.
Jin felt warm, much more comfortable than Hwoarang’s suddenly chilly extremities. The Blood Talon winced as he leaned over the other man. His heart was swelling, beating fast, and too fast as he leaned closer, cupping Jin’s face with his hand. He could feel the steady, low breathing of the other man against his lip. He breathed heavily through his nose, knowing it was all he could do. All he wanted to do as he lowered his mouth to rest against Jin’s in a one-sided kiss.
He pulled away after a moment, gasping for breath as he felt Jin’s aura buzzing with energy. His heart skipped a beat at that feeling, “C’mon, Kazama. Wake up already.” Hwoarang closed his eyes and spread his fingers along Jin’s jaw, pushing them out along his neck. He knew Jin was hurt, but he just had this feeling… a feeling that he wanted Jin with him right then. He was desperate for it as his own blood rushed through his veins, numbing him to everything else except Jin.
Moments passed with his breathing loud in his ears, blank emptiness staring back at him from his closed eyelids. His heart beat at a steady, fast rhythm, jumping into his throat when hands snapped up to take his jaw in a steely grip.
“H-hey, that was quick,” the redhead breathed a sigh of relief, his eyes snapping open.
Jin’s onyx eyes were hazy as they searched the redhead’s face for something familiar. Hwoarang met his look, tightening his grip, digging his fingers into the bandages to tangle in his lover’s black mane.
Jin’s waking state passed quickly and those hazy, dark eyes snapped to immediate recognition before he smiled.
“Kazama?” Hwoarang asked. “Are you alright? You don’t have amnesia or anything, do you?”
Jin’s brow quirked up in a questioning look before he snapped forward and engaged Hwoarang’s mouth in a kiss that left reality to fall behind. Their lips seemed to recall everything, embracing and caressing each other as their tongues pressed forward to renew old acquaintances. It was magnetic and powerful and neither man moved to break the connection.
“I… take that… as a ‘no’?” Hwoarang asked between kisses, his cheeks burning wet.
Finally, Jin pulled back, his dark eyes dancing. “No, that’s not a problem,” he sighed, reaching up to touch the bandages around his head. “I remember everything.” He smiled again before tilting his head. “So, what did you think you were doing… there?” He indicated a few moments ago.
“Uh, trying to wake sleeping beauty with a kiss?” Hwoarang ventured, giving him a lopsided grin.
“I guess you think you’re a prince or something, then?”
“Yeah, Kazama, I’m your knight in shining white armour. I’m gonna save you from the black knight and take you away to my castle.”
“White really isn’t your style, though,” Jin sighed, his eyes flicking up for a moment.
“Yeah, that’s why it was me that beat Jinpachi.” Hwoarang puffed out his chest before wincing a bit. “Angel helped, but I beat that fossil on my own.”
“What?” Jin’s smile dropped and he looked genuinely confused. “Who won the tournament?”
“Me! I just said I beat the last opponent!”
Jin was incredulous, “Well… I guess you won, then. Congratulations.”
“Of course,” Hwoarang continued, choosing to ignore Jin’s bait. “I own the Zaibatsu now. But I don’t give a shit about that crap, so I’ll probably sell it off and keep the money…”
Jin smiled, “I thought you might. I couldn’t picture you in a business suit, anyways.”
“What, you saying I can’t handle it?” Hwoarang could not hold back his grin as he felt someone doubting his abilities.
“Oh, God, Hwoarang. That wasn’t a challenge,” Jin groaned, rolling his eyes. “You won the tournament. I guess that means our rivalry is decided, eh?” He looked hopeful. “I guess you’re better than-”
“Fuck that!” Hwoarang burst out. “That was hardly a real fight. There was fucked up shit going on and you know it. We both had help and hindrances, so it doesn’t count. The rivalry still stands!” He tried pulling back to prove his irritation.
Jin did not let go of Hwoarang and pulled him closer.
“Besides,” the redhead purred, leaning in closer. “Maybe I feel like trying to run the Zaibatsu… I could call tournaments whenever I wanted and fight you all the time.”
“I don’t want to fight you all the time,” Jin frowned. “There are other things to life than fighting.”
Hwoarang felt his smile dropping at the words. “I know,” he said, feeling his emotions trailing up his throat as he said the two words. He pressed his lips to Jin’s. Silencing any more words that followed and wordlessly telling the other man the three words that had taken root within him and burned between them.
Those three words ached inside his chest. He couldn’t look Jin in the eye when they parted; it was too much for him to take.
The silence burned between them, neither man wanted to release their hold on the other. After a long moment, Jin tugged Hwoarang’s shirt, indicating he could climb onto the bed.
“There’s plenty of room,” he said softly.
“You’re…” Hwoarang breathed, his mind racing for something to say. “You’re, not going to make me sleep on the floor like in the cabin?” he quirked a grin and looked back to Jin.
The dark-haired man rolled his eyes. “You sure know how to hold a grudge,” he shifted to the side to give the redhead enough room.
The mattress shifted beneath Hwoarang’s weight as he lied on his side, facing Jin who remained on his back. He could feel the heat radiating out from him. It had been so long since he’d been with Jin and not had Angel somewhere in his mind, or been thinking about the shit that Devil was saying.
It was just the two of them; they were completely and utterly alone.
The time felt right to say something meaningful.
Something from the heart.
Something to make Jin happy and make his own heart flutter a bit.
But all Hwoarang could do was lie there, watching Jin’s dark eyes glistening in the blackness as the shadows of the room swallowed their forms as they fell asleep.
~End Unlikely Angel~
| Index | Epilogue |