Chapter 16 - Belief
Jin stood in his office, leaning against his desk as he watched blurry black and white footage of a familiar face shout to him, "See this, Jin Kazama!" He referred to a small group of rebels he led to destroy one of the Mishima Zaibatsu's properties. "I hope I have your attention. There's more where this came from. You and I still have a score to settle. I know what you are, and I'll be waiting…for the real you. And even if you keep ignoring me, I'll be at your tournament. I'll be ready this time."
Upon the last sentence, Jin's body shook with a suppressed, amused laugh. The young CEO drank some cold ice water and wiped his mouth. Devil manifested as an apparition in the office and stared at the screen, reaching out as if he could touch it even though he couldn't. "He means me, I expect. What a nice invitation…" The evil creature spoke with longing in his voice and looked back to his host.
Jin nodded in agreement. He walked over to his seat and sat down, staring at the ice. "G Corporation is supplying his little group. I already announced the tournament, but it seems that guy can't wait. It's all a ploy by them both just to get my attention."
"Will you oblige?" Devil asked as he walked over to the side of Jin's seat. "I can kill him for you this time. He's disrupting your prized human power after all."
The young CEO leaned back lazily in his seat, speaking with mild disinterest. "He and many others. That's not a good enough reason. What makes him so special?"
The winged demon guided Jin's seat to face him directly as he grabbed the arm rests and leaned inward. "Because I want to finish what I started and because he invited me. He said it himself. He knows what I am."
Jin reflected on Devil's request, appraising the value of the Korean's life, trying to determine if it fit anywhere in his overall scheme. His eyes darted up, scanning the ceiling during his contemplation before he looked back again at his evil counterpart. "I'd rather you not kill him," he remarked lazily. It was a minor preference. "Besides, it's a trap."
"Like a trap could stop us," the demon gloated. Jin smiled wryly at that. "So I don't kill him," Devil conceded, his own scheme at work. "You at least want to play with him, don't you?"
The young CEO's index finger stroked his chin. "Not on the scale you are thinking, but if a plan fits well enough…"
"I'll leave you to it then. Travel has been quite fruitful as of late after all," a familiar, satisfied sneer said as it faded.
Jin materialized in front of a dojo where Baek and Hwoarang had set up their temporary home in Japan since long before the tournament's announcement. He suspected it to more likely act as a base of operations for their rebel group though the rest of them were busy elsewhere.
He knocked on the door, and a man with long gray hair in a ponytail answered.
"Is Hwoarang here?" Jin asked.
"You!" Baek clenched his fist at his side, seething. Before he knew it, the punch was on its way, but Jin caught it and nearly crushed his hand.
"He asked for my attention, and now he has it," draw, careful, firm words told him. "Is he here?" The young man let go with a force that shoved Baek back a few feet and continued standing with a look of condescension on his face.
Hwoarang had incidentally chosen this time to enter the room as he was curious who the visitor could be, and it was the last person he expected despite his invitation. "You! Hey, what are you doing to my master?"
Jin looked at the scene and smirked. He had only defended himself, but their anger and contempt was far too delicious.
"No, Hwoarang, it's just….he's here to see you. I lost myself in the moment."
"Me? Finally get through to you, did I Kazama?"
The young CEO's smile faded as he replied, "I assume you have a place where you and I can…continue this meeting alone."
"Right this way, Your Arrogance," Hwoarang mocked as he gestured a polite movement of his arms where Jin should go.
"What a nice title, very fitting," Jin remarked as he followed.
"Oh looks like you got a sense of humor since last time. That thing…uh…" Hwoarang checked to see if they were out of earshot. They weren't, so he missed the chance as they kept walking. They found a room where they could spar or talk as desired. Jin removed his coat.
"I already know I can beat you," Hwoarang said, taunting Jin with his index finger. "You know what I'm after."
"Then you'll have no problem doing it again," Jin said as he rolled up his sleeves.
Hwoarang snickered, having a hard time to keep a front of just how excited and downright happy he was to see this rival that hosted a monster underneath. They began to spar. "You took that loss pretty hard," he taunted as he threw some kicks Jin blocked.
"I had a lot on my mind," Jin replied with a smile as he stepped to the side and uppercut the Korean, followed by a few blows of his own.
Hwoarang stood up immediately. They were still just playing at this point. "And now you don't, what ‘cause ruling the world is a cake walk compared to me?" More kicks and more evasion.
"Sadly, you don't know how true those words are. Then again, you are a giant pain."
Hwoarang snickered. The moment had come, and they both knew it. The blows became faster and stronger as the fight intensified to the next level. It was not long before Hwoarang was clearly defeated. Out of breath, he said, "So, are you still that thing just disguised as him now? I mean, what's with this war Kazama? Is this the world you really want?" He remained sitting on the floor, and Jin joined him, handing him a bottle of water.
The Japanese rival looked thoughtful. "If I told you a war was needed for saving the world, would you believe me?"
"Not after seeing you become a devil, hell no," a firm response followed.
"Indeed. What you say makes perfect sense," Jin admitted. "I'm still ‘that thing' as you liked to call it. Bet he likes that."
"He? Is he controlling you or something? You speak like you and him are different, knowing exactly what he is, yet the way you act…what you do…"
"You have already drawn your own conclusion. I am an evil devil, I'm thoroughly enjoying myself, and I just kicked your ass a second time. I took some of Jin Kazama's characteristics, so that's why I look human, copy his behavior, use his name to my benefit, and am letting you live. Again."
"Alright, alright, I'll humor you for this little game. That's what I believe. What do you believe? You can't possibly think destroying the world is what will save it."
Jin snickered. "Such words speak as if I invented war, as if humanity had no contribution to the ills in their lives without me. As if it starts and ends with me." As if they didn't ask for it with their incessant noise. "It's amusing to be called the Destroyer of Worlds as a result."
"Only because it fits. Maybe we had problems before but…not like this… Kazama, you are destroying a lot of places," the Korean spoke in a serious voice to draw his concern in a way that Jin could understand.
The attempt backfired as the young CEO couldn't help himself and smiled proudly, gazing upward, half-closing his eyes. "Yes…"
Hwoarang gulped nervously. Was that…was that the devil?
The human form sitting next to the orange-haired Korean slowly turned his head upon sensing the slight uptick of fear in his rival. It tasted like a dying fire, clawing at the air. Jin looked Hwoarang straight in the eyes as his own flashed to Devil's piercing gold, leaning in close to the other young man's face. The evil creature smiled wickedly, enough to reveal his fangs. "The boy hopes to be rid of me."
"You! You're-" Hwoarang started to back away.
Devil released a low, pleased hiss at the dying fire's heightened desperation. The flash faded and Jin drank some water, satisfied. They both got what they came for, and he need not intrude on this acquaintance of his past life any longer. "I don't expect you to understand or believe me. It doesn't matter in the end." He stood, grabbed his coat, and started to put it on. "The whole world, especially Kazuya Mishima, is out for my head. Are you going to tell him about this visit?"
"What-what are you talking about?"
Jin released a short, amused laugh. "Play ignorant then. In any case, I am too busy with my hostile take-over to stay." He tossed his empty water bottle to Hwoarang. "See you later loser. Try not to get yourself killed by that waste of space who gave me this curse."
Before Hwoarang knew it, the dark clad Jin Kazama had practically disappeared with the wind. His heart sank, and he felt empty. For just a few minutes, he and Jin spoke with each other, almost as friends. No, he couldn't be friends with a self-admitted monster like that, even if that thing did have a sense of humor, unlike the ever and always serious Jin Kazama. His reach could only extend enough for this meeting but not enough to bring the Japanese youth back from the clutches of the devil using his body. Only a shadow of the rival Hwoarang once knew remained inside.