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Welcome to the end.
Last Night on Earth
"Jin...," Hwoarang moaned and arched against the wall.
The man turned.
"Hwarang?" The man was desperate to believe that Hwoarang had spoken to him. "Hwoarang?" he tried. One more time, he knelt in front of the man who had been his best and brightest student. "It is I, Baek Doo San. Sa bum nim."
A lifetime of training didn't stop the tightness that rose in Baek's throat, as Hwoarang kept looking somewhere past him. Even when the distressed stare landed on him, no recognition dawned and no acknowledgement of another person passed. It was like there was nothing there.
Baek forced himself back in control. "I will be back to see you, Hwarang," he said and touched Hwoarang's knee lightly. It had no effect, but Baek hoped it registered somewhere.
A knock on the door alerted a staff member, who unlocked the door and allowed Baek to leave the blanched cell. His heart was heavy, and, at first, he didn't notice the dark figure who had observed them through the one-sided mirror.
The figure shifted then. Nonplused, Baek recognized the profile of Jin Kazama. As Jin tore his eyes off the view and faced him fully, Baek controlled his visage with difficulty at seeing the brutal gashes that tarnished one side of the youthful face. He couldn't tell if his shock had registered with Jin; he saw only his own reflection dance on the lenses of the mirror shades.
"Baek Doo San," Jin greeted in a raspy voice and bowed.
"Jin Kazama." Baek couldn't fathom what business the heir to the Mishima fortunes had here, but before he could say more, a nurse barged in with a file in her hands and spoke machinegun-speed Japanese, which Baek couldn't follow.
The nurse jumped from the harsh tone and eyed Baek uncertainly for support, but Jin's commanding presence took its toll, and she switched languages a little awkwardly. The test results had come in, after a month—she rushed on at seeing Jin's frown—and she sought to explain them as best as she could.
The words flowed in and out, until something caught Jin's attention. "Excuse me? Repeat."
"It seems that the explosion released toxic-induced chemicals, which mixed with the unidentified substance in his system. Together, they caused the current condition."
Baek interrupted, "'Unidentified substance?' I do not understand."
The nurse sucked at her lips nervously and looked at Jin, but Jin wasn't looking at her. "It seems that the patient was taking substances. Narcotics or drugs," she said in a small voice.
"That is impossible!"
Jin said nothing, but his mind echoed Baek's rage. Then, in a flash, the pieces connected. It wasn't possible... After a heavy silence, he said, "You cannot identify this substance?"
"No. It's been too long."
"If this is a...," Jin sought the words, "chemical imbalance, why do you not use something to counteract it?"
The nurse looked even more woeful and eyed Baek frightfully. She now deemed him the bigger threat out of two equally intimidating choices and took her chances with the younger menace. "It's not possible. His brain chemistry is so out of balance, we can't use any medication. There is nothing to try..." As the words sank in, she continued, "We haven't had a patient in a padded cell for years. Medication helps almost everyone these days. At least he's comfortable..." Her voice faded.
Finally, Jin took the file from her and spoke, "Leave." He flipped through the files and landed on the toxicology report, which confirmed the nurse's words. Unidentified substance. Illicit drug, narcotic, or sedative. He hadn't heard that before. He hadn't known that a substance in his circulation had caused the final breakdown. Jin swallowed.
It didn't matter.
Jin flipped another page.
It wouldn't matter.
"I don't understand what he was doing there." The pain seeped through Baek's voice and distracted Jin momentarily. "I don't understand why he went there."
Jin knew why: Hwoarang had come after him at the critical moment. He couldn't tell that to Baek Doo San; he couldn't cast the burden on him, and so he remained quiet.
It shouldn't have mattered. He cast the file from his hands and turned to look through the other room. Unsurprisingly, Hwoarang still sat on the floor, occasionally mumbling something and moving restlessly. Luckily, the mirror shades masked any emotions in Jin's eyes.
A burly, older guard joined them. Chosen for his position at the institution for his physical prowess rather than social skills or philanthropy, he paid his respects to Jin Kazama lavishly and showed equally low courtesy to Baek Doo San, whom he eyed with as much hostility as his upbringing would allow.
"Typical. I always get these," the guard sneered. "Foreign trash."
The mirror shades flicked in the man's direction sharply, but Jin remained in place. Baek Doo San's eyes narrowed, but he sought to calm his breathing. The man's qualm was not with him or with Hwoarang, but with history. He had seen it before many a time. To the victor, the spoils and the guilt for generations to come.
"That one." The man pointed a finger at Hwoarang. "He keeps saying 'gin,' whatever that means. Probably some Korean filth..."
Baek Doo San flinched, but he controlled his temper. He was only visiting here; Hwoarang would have to stay for the unforeseeable future. He was so intent on controlling himself, he didn't realize how Jin had moved like a flash and was holding the guard up in the air by the front of his jacket with one hand.
"One more insult out of you," Jin hissed, "and you will pay."
The man was paralyzed. He was barely able to comprehend that he was being held up in the air by a man who, by any rights, couldn't have been that strong.
Jin's back was turned to Baek as he reached for his glasses and lowered them. "Do you understand?" Jin said softly.
The tone made shivers run through Baek, who watched the display in shocked awe, and through the guard, who tried to recoil helplessly. Though Jin held him by his jacket front, the guard's breath hitched in his throat. He made a choking sound, and tears rose in his eyes. His fervent attempts to nod turned to whimpering. Jin laughed.
Baek found his voice. "Onegai shimasu, Kazama Jin!"
Jin's eyes swept over to the cell in a moment of hesitation that did not escape Baek. He loosened his grip and the man dropped, landing hard and taking damage on the knees, which weren't prepared for the impact. Jin readjusted the glasses before facing Baek.
Baek wanted to pose questions, but he couldn't see Jin's eyes. It wasn't possible to converse with a man in whose soul one couldn't see into, and so he remained silent. Something remained unsaid, but before either could act on it, a new, deep voice sounded.
"Make haste, son."
The arrival acknowledged Baek with a dismayed nod before ignoring him completely. Baek found himself staring at the very alive Kazuya Mishima, who sported a long, flapping coat and a pair of sunglasses. Not only did his attire strangely mimic Jin's, but similar scarring graced the skin exposed to view, making the harsh-looking Kazuya an even more frightening sight than before.
"Father expects us."
The words were courteous and correct, but the tone oozed venom. The Mishima family had developed veiled insults to an art form.
"Good day, Master Baek." Jin left with a bow.
Baek watched father and son leave and decided to follow them; he had little left to do here. He trailed them through the hallways and into the entrance hall. There, he saw a third figure join them, limping noticeably despite his proud and tall posture. Neither moved to his support.
Side by side, the three generations left the building. Just as they exited the institution, Jin turned back and looked straight at Baek, who couldn't fathom how Jin could have known he was there. The Mishimas didn't slow down, and after a long, veiled gaze, the significance of which Baek couldn't understand despite realizing it was significant somehow, Jin left.
Jin was now the only one who knew the truth. Yet, as he turned to follow in Kazuya and Heihachi's footsteps, no one could've told he was any different to them.
The Devil had kept Jin alive, but nothing had saved him from dying.
Onegai shimasu means please (Japanese, formal).
The spelling Hwarang emulates the native Korean pronunciation, while sa bum nim means master or instructor.
Hearty thanks to Gypsie for the proofreading! Thanks go out to TeaC0sy, Razer Athane, and BloodTalonbafoon for their help as well.
Published November 24, 2008.
Chapter Two was make-believe.
Heartfelt thanks to Gypsie (Gypsie Rose) for proofreading the entire story!
My sincere thanks to all reviewers—Amarant Rose Coral, JunKing, Razer Athane, TeaC0sy, MeiShan, Insomnia Zombie, HOIME G, and BloodTalonbafoon—for your thoughtful comments and for taking the time to write them.
The "unidentified substance" was the drug Jin slipped in Hwoarang's drink at the end of the first chapter.
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