If it is in normal style, then it is speech.
If it is in italics, then it is thought.
If it is in bold, then it is the individual's natural tongue.
If it is underlined, then it is Devil.
Disclaimer: Don't own any characters except Razer, the gang (excluding Hwoarang) and any other non-Tekken characters that appear throughout the duration of this story. All other characters belong to Namco. No further disclaimers will be entered, as they ruin the pace of the story.
Author's Note: This chapter has been edited (24/03/09).
Chapter One: The Fight
It was just another day for Hwoarang. Another fixed fight in the Korean streets he now called home. Just killing time, and making money to survive. It was the easiest way to do so. Fuck school. Where was mathematics going to get him to now? Science? Tch! This… This was the only thing he excelled in and loved at the same time. Nothing could compare to the adrenalin rush that coursed through one's body in defending one's self.
But the routines sometimes got boring. The day stretched on, seemingly for what could be forever. A day where you are in no pain, a day where nothing really exciting happens, a day where you are just lying around wishing for something insane to happen, or wishing for a rival gang to rear their ugly heads and challenge them. They just turn into days that you gotta do. One after the other, no ifs or buts about it. And today was just another day down.
"Place your bets, right here!" one of his gang members remarked, tearing money from crowd members. His voice rang clear in the area, in English for all to understand, despite the fact that it was choppy. He was shaky at the language, and had difficulty learning it in the first place.
The Blood Talon smirked, knowing that these poor bastards would most likely select his opponent. Why? Because the opponent is a big fat guy, rippling with mass. By the logic of the crowd, he didn't stand a chance. He, a skinny, but lean fighter, against someone who was two, three possibly even fourtimes his size. If he got grounded, then the opponent could easily just sit on him and crush him, thus declaring him the winner. But then again… this is a fixed fight, and it is in his favour. It was always in Hwoarang's favour.
The redheaded youth looked over his shoulder to see three of his gang members, readily supporting him. The fourth was collecting the bets. The other five were probably out stirring trouble somewhere else, earning more money. The gang was his family. They were all orphans, or runaways, and they had all united, and took care of each other… like families should. Like the families that they had lost, that never existed, or that they had left behind.
All of them were Korean, just like him. That is, except for one. How a Greek woman found her way to South Korea at such a young age, and managed to survive before Hwoarang found her by accident, was beyond him. She kept it a secret, kept it closely guarded in her heart, even though they were best friends. To be honest, she kept a fair bit secret. Sometimes he got a glimpse of who she really was, but then it would be covered up immediately, and hidden once again. Even though they had known each other for six years, and had been trained under Baek Doo San together, she still protected herself and kept him at a distance, much to his displeasure. Yet, compared to the rest of the gang, he was the closest to her and knew the most.
But did he really know? Or was it a guise?
Through green eyes, which were shielded by the hood of her jacket, Razer Athane watcher her best friend watch her. The blank look on his face morphed into a slight smirk, to which she returned briefly, despite the fact that he probably couldn't see. Her hands were folded across her stomach, waiting for the fight to begin. The sooner she was out of here, the happier she would be. She would rather be back at the hideout with the boys, or alone. Her legs still ached from her own fixed fights. They cried for rest.
"No more bets!" Seong-Hada chimed, shoving the cash in a small pocket in his jeans. He turned and went to the other members, standing on Razer's right, one hand stretching across his body. He cleared his throat, and spoke once more, "Keep it clean, okay? I don't want to see any dirty tricks on either of your parts. Ready… set… go!"
The hefty Japanese opponent growled in anger, channelling his power, and charged directly at Hwoarang, an enclosed hand flying towards his face. The teen easily dodged it, and countered with three quick kicks, followed by a powerful one that sent his opponent airborne. In his times with Baek, this move was called Machine Gun Kicks. He smirked, watching him hunch over and whine in pain, clutching his large belly. Another four kicks came, only from the opposite foot, sending the man right into the concrete ground.
It took a while for the opponent to get on his feet. All the while, the 19-year-old tapped his foot in quick succession, impatiently. He spoke and took up his left stance once more, clearly disappointed with his foe, "Man, you suck bad. I was seriously expecting a whole lot more from a big, fat tub of lard like you."
"Why you…" the man charged again, only to have his punches and few kicks successfully blocked. He growled in aggravation and attempted to punch his opponent in the stomach, only to have it blocked once more. The Korean began attacking again, however this time, his flurry of fancy kicks were parried and blocked. But regardless, the man began to think, Why can I not lay a hit on him? I should easily be able to defeat him… Fixed or not.
His thoughts were interrupted by a fierce punch to the face, and a kick to the side of the head. He lay on the floor, writhing in pain, and after a few moments, he finally spoke, unhappy with his decision. Better to surrender now than to be in hospital tomorrow. Besides, he had things to do, and a certain nature-loving American woman to try and please, "…I… I give up."
About time. There's just no point in wasting my energy on him, Hwoarang grinned and offered the man his hand, however unhappily, so he could get up and off of his feet. When he didn't take it, he shrugged and folded his arms again. Tapping the guy with the tip of his boot, he spoke, "Hey, you gonna get up any time today, or do we have to push you along the road all the way back home?"
"Like you are going to push me to Japan…" the man snorted, eventually standing, albeit shakily. He cleared his throat, brushing the dirt from his vast stomach, "Now where is my money? I will need it to travel to America and find one called Michelle Chang… I believe my dearest lives in Arizona…" How her face made his heart flutter…
God, I don't wanna know your life story… "Seong-Hada," he called, hearing his friend's footsteps approach, "Money."
Seong-Hada awkwardly fumbled through his pocket, grabbing a fist full, before counting how much they 'owed' for the fight. He scratched his black hair, which had dark blue tips (damn, he really needed to dye his hair again soon), whilst counting, turning his back to the crowd to do so, making sure no one would see. Once a round sum had been accumulated, he walked all the way over to his leader and placed it in his hand, thereafter scooting back to the others.
Hwoarang handed it to his opponent, a lazy, sly smirk on his face, "There you are, Ganryu."
Ganryu stared at the cash in his hand for a moment before walking away in frustration, shaking his head. He was promised more… Much, much more. This flimsy, small amount in his hand was barely enough to be able to afford rent for an apartment, let alone a plane ticket over to America! He clenched his fists and continued walking away, fuming verbally in Japanese, "Cheap bastards! Why I oughta…"
When the man was finally out of sight, and the crowd began to disperse, he turned away from the scene and returned to his friends, still smirking. He stretched one arm over the back of his head, and pushed down on his elbow with his free hand, speaking in his own language with a lazy temperament, "That was too easy."
"You kicked his ass quite thoroughly, man," a second male stated a tad tiredly. Han-Geong patted his friend's shoulder whilst rubbing his itchy eye, "He had noooooooo chance."
His ego further inflated, the smirk quickly morphed into a cocky grin. In a sly, sneaky movement, he leant on Razer's shoulder. Noticing that she was quiet and had been staring off into the crowd, obviously in deep thought, he cleared his throat in the hopes of getting her attention. When that failed, he poked her cheek with his index finger, "What're you thinking about, Raze?"
"Someone… in that crowd. They knew that the fight was fixed."
"Bah, what's he gonna do about it?" he chuckled slightly before walking off, "I'll be back later."
Seong-Hada called out, his curious and childish nature being conveyed clearly in his voice, "Where are you going?"
"I need to fucking piss! Do you mind!" he left it at that and stalked off into another alleyway.
The remaining three men simply shrugged. He was a man, and as a man, the world was his toilet. In a line, they began to leave the area and head towards their beloved hideout. Han-Geong spoke, "Come on Roh-Hwang, Seong-Hada, Razer. There's nothing left for us here. Time for a good night's sleep, we all did well."
"Amen!" Roh-Hwang remarked, closely following Han-Geong.
Seong-Hada chuckled at their enthusiasm and shook his head, still smiling. He and the others were a few metres away from the original spot when he realised that his close friend wasn't behind them. Stopping and looking over his shoulder, he indeed saw her rooted to the spot, most probably scanning amongst what was left of the crowd. He spoke, shivering a little due to the cold, "Razer, are you coming?"
"I will later," she remarked quietly.
"Are you sure? What for?"
She huffed, trying to maintain her anger, using sarcasm to do so, "In case the ground splits open. Leave me be!"
He nodded slightly and ran to catch up to Han-Geong and Roh-Hwang, still carrying the precious cash.
"Silly idiot…" she whispered to herself in Greek.
Five slow minutes passed. The crowd had completely vanished now, sparing a tall male and a short female. The boy was clearly a fighter, if the muscle definition on his body was anything to go by. He sported black hair, in an unusual style, and brown eyes. His clothing, though, was unusual. A white shirt, with the sleeves rolled up, a blue jumper, red gloves, brown shoes, and stripy pants. Pieced together, it vaguely reminded her of a school uniform. The girl had the female-version of his clothing, aside from the gloves, and had her black hair parted in pigtails.
Razer's eyes widened slightly. The girl was speaking, and she could hear her, despite the distance between the three of them. Her voice was hushed, though she was still unintentionally being loud, "Then go up to her and say something! Maybe you can get the people their money back!"
So these were the two who knew.
The male looked to his friend for a moment, before his eyes flickered over towards the other person, then back again.
Athane cleared her throat, "Is there a problem here?"
Both people jumped and looked to the hooded girl, noticing that she was staring them down. Whilst her posture and aura was menacing and intimidating to the little girl, it was in no means the same for the boy. He straightened up slightly, whilst the girl moved back a step. His firm voice sounded after a long, uneasy pause, "We know that the fight was fixed."
"And what are you going to do about it?" she taunted, blowing light brown hair away from her nose.
The girl furrowed her thin eyebrows together, rocking back and forth on her heels, "Give the people their money back!"
"Come and make me, you whining bitch. Besides, the money is out of here anyway. I do not have it."
The girl took on a battle stance, "What did you just call me? I am not a bitch!"
"Xiaoyu…" the boy remarked cautiously, glaring at her peacefully in an attempt to silence her. She looked back up at him, dropping the pose, and returned to her normal position with her hands firmly planted on her hips. For the moments that their gazes had been locked, she was briefly reminded of how she treated Hwoarang, and how Hwoarang treated her – sibling-like affection.
Her reminiscing had been disturbed when the boy spoke again, "Then where is it?"
"Why should I tell you, boy? What does it matter?" Razer remarked, tilting her head back, still trying the intimidation pathway. She did not fancy another battle, especially not with a male who was clearly stronger than her. The fact that he had fighting company did not exactly please her either, "This is business here on the streets. It may not be pretty, but it is the best that we can do to survive. Not everyone can fucking afford leisure, like you. Most have us have to work for it. Now get lost and do not bother us again, you snobby rich kid. If you lost your money, then bad luck."
Staring down for a few moments longer, she felt the corner of her mouth twitch into a smirk. Feeling that her point was satisfied, she turned her back to them both, making her way back to the hideout. Perhaps the others had already gotten there. Hopefully, the crummy couch they had found one day was vacant to lie down on for a while.
"Hey…" the boy sounded in a foreign language.
She turned around, and came face to face with his fist. It collided with her cheek, the force of the impact grazing her cheek. She growled angrily and returned the hit, only in his back. Her punch was followed by a few kicks to his legs, until she eventually tripped him over. She growled angrily, "What the fuck? You asshole!"
Xiaoyu came at her too, with a flurry of unique kicks and palm strikes. She blocked and parried as many as she could, and even managed to hit the youth back a couple of times. The obnoxious girl was faster than she was, but she was stronger. One of her parries had sent her attacker into a little tail spin, due to the force of the push.
The man stood back on his feet and also came at her. Razer couldn't block all of them. Eventually, one of the boy's punches hit the wrong place in her left shoulder. She cried out in agony and shrunk back, cradling her arm in pain. It was blinding, though she had suffered worse before. The very force had her hood awkwardly fly back as well. Trying to maintain even breathing, she stared both of them down. She was not afraid. No, she was not afraid.
"Huh? Raze, What're you still doing here?" the familiar voice of the Blood Talon sounded, running to her side.
"Hwoarang…" she looked up to him, still nursing the injury, "I-it hurts…"
He narrowed his eyes, glaring at the two opponents, wondering who it was who landed the painful blow. In a rush, he concluded that the man did it. There was no way that scrawny thing beside him could've done it. He put one arm around his Greek counterpart and hissed venomously, "What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you fucked up in the head or something? Do you like picking on random people?"
Xiaoyu pointed at him, "You stole the people's money! Your fight was fixed!"
"Yeah, well… Big fucking whoop."
The boy stared at the Korean youth, trying to antagonise him. He didn't want to admit it but, he did love a good fight. Perhaps this person could provide him with some type of entertainment, "You can't fight properly, can you? You just 'chicken fight', so to say. A huge show of punches and kicks, which are poorly executed and timed, by the way; take a hit or two yourself, and then just trip the opponent over and you 'win'. You are a coward."
Hwoarang clenched his fist and chuckled, albeit angrily, "No one… calls me a fucking coward."
"He just did, didn't he?" Xiaoyu huffed, sneering.
"Xiao, enough," the boy remarked firmly.
Hwoarang turned to Razer and quickly ruffled her hair, thereafter kissing her forehead comfortingly, "Go back to the hideout and get one of the guys to fix it up. I'm gonna kick this guy's fucking ass…" he ushered her away, and then turned to the two intruders, hearing her receding footsteps, feeling slightly more at ease by it, "And what right do you have to call me a coward?"
Both opposite to him remained silent. She remained motionless, though he didn't. With pure strength and precision, the boy dashed forward swiftly and smashed his tightly clenched fist into the Korean's unknowing stomach. It collided with force, making him buckle over, a hand to the wounded area. He had been caught off guard. How… unnatural. Shown up on his home ground, and so quickly and effortlessly.
These were his streets. He would not be defeated in them. Not now, not ever.
He countered with a show of kicks, each carefully placed. Maintaining the anger flaring within him, he channelled it in attacking and defending. He blocked oncoming punches and kicks, unaware that the fury flaring between them would make the battle rage on for at least another thirty agonising and torturous minutes.
They took as many hits as they were delivering. Locked in what seemingly was an eternal struggle, both men wore each other down. They were both in pain. Their muscles ached, and their hearts pumped at many beats per minute. But neither would back down. It just wasn't in their nature to, and also, showing surrender in the face of the enemy did not appease them. The opponent spoke, "I take back what I said. You certainly know your stuff."
"You're not so bad yourself," Hwoarang huffed, cracking his knuckles, "…But you're not good enough to beat me!"
He jumped up and kicked him to the side, sending him into the ground, just as he did with Ganryu earlier. He heard him mutter a foreign word, and immediately identified it as Japanese. The only difference was that this person would not surrender. His fighting spirit burned strongly, like a shining star in an otherwise black sky. The leader of a unit, the main actor of a play. For a moment, his mind wandered even further, and he likened both he and his opponent to two alpha wolves, snapping at each other for the territory below their paws.
As the Japanese boy stood, he wiped blood from his mouth and looked up at the redhead in more anger. No one, no one, had so far in his fighting career, ever, anywhere; had managed to keep him going for this long… And he was sure that it was the same for him. It was like a dead lock. With every pull, there was a push. With every strike, there was a counter. With every throw, there was a fall. True balance. But regardless, he was determined to win, just like his adversary. He refused to lose.
Some distance behind his opponent was the girl, still, whose name he couldn't currently remember. She stood against the wall, obviously still in pain, but monitoring the battle closely. He was wondering if the man standing opposite him, or even Xiaoyu, noticed her presence. She was completely silent and unmoving, like a statue. Still, she was there, edging her friend on, her determination seemingly being shot towards the Korean through her forest green eyes alone.
But he noticed something on the girl that was far more interesting.
During their brief bout, there was a blue cloth, seemingly like a bandana or a scarf, tightly wrapped around her waist. Currently, it was acting as a sling for her arm. That cloth had been in place for a reason, covering up a familiar marking that was branded upon her left hip. It stared at him, taunting him from its place upon the tanned skin. He just couldn't believe it. The new information was so, so difficult to swallow. That little black mark…
The Devil Gene.
Just like me… he thought quietly.
His distraction got the best of him, though. It was the distraction that Hwoarang needed to send another heavy load of kicks and punches at him. He growled in pain, unable to stand until he stopped. But considering how heavy the flow of attacks was, when would he cease his fire? It might not come, and then he would quite possibly be a dead man. The thought did not please him, and he quickly decided to do something about it.
The boy caught the other fighter's leg, and pulled it far to the side. He growled, and landed face first on the ground, moaning in pain. He heard Ling Xiaoyu cheer happily behind him, throwing her slender arms into the waiting air. The encouragement was nice and affirming, as he slid back into his stance, facing off against his match.
But soon enough, all four of them suddenly heard noises. Growling voices and singing sirens flowed into the area.
"Hwoarang!" Razer yelled, "The police are coming! Let's bail!"
"You're still here, Razer?" he hissed, "Go home! I'm going to finish this, now!"
Xiaoyu had already begun to dart away from the scene. She called her friend's name, hoping that he was following her. However, when she looked back, she stopped, noticing that he and his opponent were still engaged in battle. She would go over there herself and pull the bulls apart from the horns, but she did not have the strength to. Plus, she was panicking about possibly getting into trouble, "Jin! Jiiiiiiin Kazama, let's go already! Forget this stupid fight, its pointless! Just call it a draw and let's get out of here!"
"No!" Jin replied in anger, blocking more attacks. He caught a fist and threw it away, going to punch Hwoarang himself.
As the voices and sirens grew closer and closer though, the boys had no choice but to agree to a silent, and very unhappy draw, and then hurriedly part ways. The Blood Talon took off with his counterpart (or rather, was dragged away very unhappily), and Jin left with his best friend. He didn't remember why the hell he and Xiao had to come to this stupid country anyway. He supposed the attacks were making him a bit dizzy –
Oh wait. That's right, his Grandfather's precious tournament. Advertising for the King Of Iron Fist Tournament 3…
But that didn't matter to him at the moment. What in the world was that Razer girl doing with the Devil Gene? That was something he had to look further into. He had to know. She was just like him. Whether or not this… 'devil' harassed her as much as his own pestered him, he didn't know, but the fact of the matter was that there is someone out there who understood his pain and torment, and he felt so… He didn't know what to call it, really.
Through his rough times in life, he had this monster dwelling deep within him. From losing his Mother to a beast, to the ways of Heihachi Mishima, he indeed had it difficult. And worst of all, he had to carry the dark secret in silence. He could not voice his torment to anyone. Not to Xiaoyu, nor his other friend Miharu. Not to his Mother, not to his Grandfather… no one. Perhaps she had to go through that as well. Maybe he wasn't as alone as he originally thought. He honestly believed that nobody understood the pain that he was hurled through with that horror…
That is… until now.