Disclaimer: Tekken and Tekken characters are the property of Namco Limited. This is nonprofit fan fiction.

Warnings: Angst, UST, M-rated, themed around Tekken 6. This features m/m slash and yaoi, which means that two men are portrayed in a romantic, physical relationship. If any of these bother you, skip this story and read something you are comfortable with. This is a sequel to Intimate Rivals. Reading that fic is not necessary to understand this one.

Pairings: Hwoarang/Jin

Intimate Rivals started two years ago to date. The sequel is very different in tone, however. In Intimate Rivals, it was clear that the characters were striving for a common goal and wanted to be together, despite the struggles. This is no longer the case. The sex will be held back even longer and be featured less. I understand if this is not what you are looking for. If you get into reading this story at any point, your reviews would be much appreciated.

This story is also posted on AdultFanFiction (AFF). The segment that gets made into an explicit version will clearly say so.

Estranged Equals

by Salysha

Chapter 1: Torn Apart

It wasn't meant to be.

Nothing else came to mind as Hwoarang looked at the personal invitation to the King of Iron Fist Tournament 6, hosted by the Mishima Zaibatsu and the current company head, Jin Kazama. There was nothing more heroic or meaningful for him to think, but the pain was back. Hwoarang dropped the burlap bag aside and took the letter in both hands.

His chest burned still, and he had stopped wishing for the ache's end: it did not make sense to wish for the impossible. In his case, the impossible meant oblivion and forgetting about Jin.

He and Jin had started a thing together. He had abandoned everything in Korea and crossed the sea without a word to anyone. There had been nothing to hold him back, in the aftermath of the tournament. He had gone to make something of a feeling that had felt so right.

It had been okay at first; he had had time to recover, and he had explored the city on his own. But, as the time passed, he found himself in a country that did not want him and did not need him. He saw it in the looks and felt it on the streets.

Jin's obligations to the Mishima Zaibatsu kept him away long hours, which was a given. The remaining time, they had spent getting to know each other and doing that one thing. They had ventured into the bedroom and learned about it. Thinking about them, together, still filled Hwoarang with so many complex emotions, he wasn't sure where to even begin untangling the knots. He knew for sure that being on his own had not cleared anything.

In retrospect, they had jumped headfirst into making something out of something that was new to them both. They should have learned how to live alone first before trying to make it together. They had never been friends, where they should have been friends first. Hwoarang's breath caught so badly that the pressure clogged his ears, but he made himself follow the thought that still haunted his every step. After all was said and done, everything boiled down to the same conclusion: they had never been equal.

Jin didn't talk. Jin not making a fuss had been one of the traits Hwoarang had been attracted to from the start, but he couldn't deal with habitual silence. He didn't need Jin's exact schedule, but Jin didn't include him in anything. He went his own way.

There were other things. Jin was a moody bastard. Not a bastard, Hwoarang corrected himself angrily. Jin was moody: he went from one extreme to the other in a way that Hwoarang didn't quite grasp. He got that the new position had pressure, and Jin had hit the ground running with his sudden rise in the ranks, but he couldn't deal with being the least of Jin's priorities. It was painful to the tenth degree to admit that he had been so into Jin, and Jin had barely cared for him. Jin liked him well enough and liked having him around, but it wasn't enough.

Jin had still wanted him, but Jin hadn't needed him, and so he had left. On the final day, he had told Jin that unless Jin said something to stop him, he would be gone by the evening. Jin had stopped at the door, reflected on something, and left for work. Hwoarang, in turn, had gathered his things and left the country.

Jin had called after him only once. He hadn't been able to pick up, and Jin hadn't called again. He had gone and found Baek Doo San, who had accepted him back without a word, and he had set out to make a life for himself. He hadn't ignored the news that got more worrisome by the day; he'd heard it, but he hadn't cared about it. As the world swore vengeance on Jin Kazama, he took himself and his grief to a neutral territory and tried to find a way to cope. Yet, despite taking a physical job and training like a fiend with Baek and minding a place on his own, he was still not exhausted enough. He still found ways to dwell on Jin.

It was so easy to belittle the time they had been together and dismiss it as nothing, as though a long-term thing was a merit on its own, but no outsider could ever understand it. No outsider could ever understand how it had been, and no one knew of them. No one would know of them. No one even knew that he had been in Japan.

At 21, Hwoarang considered his sex life effectively over. There was nothing more to look forward to. He had gone to a bar to do it like everyone else. He had ignored the glances from men and picked out a pretty girl, all curves in the right places, eyes cat-like and seductive, and she would have come home with him, too. The thought had made him sick. None of them were like Jin; none of them even began to compare.

But... this invitation. He wondered if it was hand-written. He considered pouring water on it and seeing if the ink would spread, but it would not have been of any use. The note wasn't hand-written, and there was no reason for it to be; the signature was a mere formality. Jin wouldn't be writing to him personally.

"Park! Get back to work." The duty manager had come around.

Hwoarang pushed the letter back into the confines of his vest and assumed a contemptuous smirk. "Sir, yes, sir!" he said a hauled a bag over his shoulder. He didn't miss the look of fury he was given, nor did he care too much about it.

This tournament, though... He was participating, for one final time.

To Be Continued...

Hearty thanks to Gypsie (Gypsie Rose) for the proofreading!

Published December 18, 2010.