Chapter 8

By The Lizard

The warehouse was no vast improvement to the conditions they'd faced outside. Gusts of chilly air slipped in through panels of broken glass, rain drizzled in through holes in the roof, and the floor was scattered with odd bits of debris, litter and brittle autumn leaves, an old mattress dumped against one wall, springs poking through the fabric. It was here that Jin carried the unconscious Hwoarang, setting him down on one end of it, and settling himself on the other. He couldn't help but notice how exhausted the redhead looked, dark circles beneath his eyes, the bruises he'd had at the hospital still present, though fading. He wasn't sure, but he thought he'd lost weight too, or maybe his clothes were just clingy because of the water.

Before long, Jin felt himself starting to doze off too, and he awoke some hours later to find that it was well after dark, the rain having slowed to a fine drizzle. Stiff from lying on the lumpy mattress, he sat up, stretching out the kinks in the muscles of his back, and rubbing the sleep from his eyes with his knuckles. Turning his head slowly, so as not to aggravate the ache in his neck, he glanced at Hwoarang. He hadn't moved an inch from when he'd carried him in, lying in exactly the same position, head on one side, face half hidden by damp hair. Jin frowned slightly. The Korean looked pale, sickly even, and his breathing shallow.

Crawling across the small space between them, Jin took hold of Hwoarang's bare shoulders, shaking him roughly. His flesh was cold to the touch, and when the Korean gave no response to the shaking, Jin started to worry.

"Hwoarang, wake up!" His voice echoed off the bare walls, and this time, he succeeded in rousing his companion, who sluggishly brushed his hands away, frowning and giving a muted groan. Hwoarang did not feel well. He had the mother of all headaches and was quite sure he'd never been colder in his life. In addition he hadn't a clue where he was. Jin breathed a sigh of relief, watching as he curled up on his side, facing away from him. "Hwoarang, don't go back to sleep."

"Leave me alone." Came the miserable response, emphasised by the chatter of teeth.

Jin ignored him, and rolled him back over to face him, one hand on his shoulder. Hwoarang's sharp eyes snapped open, lips parted and ready to let loose with a verbal assault. When he saw that it was Jin pestering him however, he calmed abruptly. He couldn't quite remember how he'd got here, or why Jin was with him, but he wasn't about to complain.

"We need to get out of here and head somewhere warm. You'll get pneumonia at this rate." Jin muttered, getting to his feet awkwardly. Hwoarang made an attempt to do likewise, but he was aching all over, and moving too much seemed to provoke a sharp pain in his abdomen, not to mention the dizziness. He felt like he was still drunk, but with a hangover on top of it.

"Jin I can't ride." He groaned, slumping against the wall, wincing as one of the protruding springs in the mattress scratched at his wrist. The Japanese youth gave an exasperated sigh, leaning over stiffly and grabbing his forearms, trying to haul him upright. He soon gave up on that idea when Hwoarang began to protest rather vociferously. "I'm telling you, unless you feel like going on another suicide run, you won't force me on that bike!"

Jin reluctantly agreed that the Korean was probably right, and slumped back down on the mattress, bouncing the dizzy redhead slightly, but it was still enough to make him growl in protest. Muttering an apology, Jin sighed, running his fingers through tousled hair. He'd be in so much trouble when he returned home that he was almost glad to put off their return till a little later. It actually surprised him that his bodyguards hadn't located him yet.

"Jin?" Hwoarang was peering at him from beneath thin strands of red hair.

"What is it?"

"I'm sorry I dragged you out here, I wasn't thinking straight." Jin was almost surprised to hear such words from Hwoarang. For him to admit that he'd been wrong about something was startling indeed.

"Oh I know what was going through your mind." Jin muttered, folding his arms across his chest, and refusing to look at him. "You just wanted another victory, no doubt you were hoping you'd scare me and then be able to mock me later."

Hwoarang of course, was far from happy at this statement, partly because there had been some truth in it, though scaring Jin hadn't been his main intention.

"Shut up Kazama, I don't need you lecturing me right now." In most situations he would have said worse, but he was feeling too feeble to argue properly right now.

"What in the hell were you thinking anyway, huh? Riding when you've drunk yourself almost senseless. And why were you outside the school?" Jin didn't seem to care that Hwoarang was in no mood to argue for once. He was too angry, and not just at the Korean, but at himself. Why had he cared enough to get on the bike with him?

"Will you just drop it please? It doesn't matter." Hwoarang rolled onto his side again, sounding so miserable that Jin regretted having spoken so harshly. What was he supposed to tell him? That he'd been waiting there because he wanted to watch him? That he couldn't stop thinking about him? It sounded ridiculous when he said such things in his head; there wasn't a chance he'd say them out loud.

For some time they both lay there in silence, the constant dripping of water from the roof and the howl of the wind outside only adding to their depression. Jin glanced at Hwoarang again, who was shivering rather violently and making a valiant attempt to stop his teeth from chattering noisily. Jin even surprised himself when he rolled over to lie next to him, moulding his body around the back of the slightly slimmer Korean, and snaking his arms around his chest.

Hwoarang stiffened a little at first, not out of distaste, but out of sheer surprise. It didn't take him long to relax however, a small smile creeping across his lips as he pressed back against his supposed enemy, immediately feeling the benefits of their mingled body heat.

"Hey, Jin? Why did you get on the bike with me?" Hwoarang murmured, eyes closed, his shivering having eased into faint trembles which shook them both every now and again. Jin propped himself up on one elbow so that he could peer down at the redhead.

"Well, you ran off quickly when we were talking last time, I didn't really have time to explain myself, so I thought I might as well if I had the opportunity." He rested his chin on the heel of his palm. Hwoarang frowned a little, but said nothing. "And." There was the brush of lips against the lobe of his ear. "I wanted you to know that I didn't mean it."

Hwoarang twisted around a little, trying to move so that he could see Jin's face. That warm breath against his neck was making his flesh prickle in anticipation. The Japanese youth was feeling uncommonly confident for a change. Perhaps it was seeing Hwoarang look so vulnerable that had sparked it off. Last time the roles had been very much reversed, Jin flat on his back and unwell, but recovering at a rate the doctors simply couldn't explain. Now Hwoarang was the invalid. Feeling somewhat daring, not really knowing what to expect in response, he fastened his lips on the Korean's neck, teeth grazing the skin in a gentle nip.

Hwoarang couldn't suppress his gasp of surprise. Who'd have thought, after all that sulking he'd done, thinking Jin wasn't interested, that this would happen.

"Didn't mean what?" His voice emerged as little more than a croak, his throat seizing up painfully.

"I didn't mean it when I told Lei it was "nothing". I don't know why I said that." Jin's voice had dropped to a low whisper, one of his hands roaming from Hwoarang's chest to his lower abdomen, provoking another small sound of surprise. His hand was dangerously close to a rather delicate area. Hwoarang was beginning to wish his jeans and chaps weren't so figure hugging. He made another attempt to turn around, but found himself held firmly in place. "You're too ill. Stay still and rest a while."

"Sure, you expect me to lie still while you're teasing me like that? Hwoarang grumbled, succeeding in twisting onto his back before he felt Jin pressing his shoulders against the floor firmly. Even that small movement had made him dizzy again and he groaned, eyes closed tightly as the room span. When he looked up again, Jin was peering down at him, concerned.

"Hwoarang, I think you should stay here while I go find a phone. I'll have someone come and pick us up."

"Forget that, you're not going anywhere." The Korean muttered, grabbing the collar of Jin's shirt and jerking him downward roughly. The Japanese's half- hearted protest was lost as their lips met abruptly, and both sank into a deep, ardent kiss that was long overdue.

Hwoarang was by far the most experienced of the two, but he found an equally willing partner in Jin, who was considerately keeping the majority of his weight off the bruised Korean, even as the redhead attempted to pull him down on top of him. Tongues met, writhing against each other, flickering over heated lips as hands wandered, hesitantly at first, but later resulting in muted groans, the stiffness that had plagued them earlier forgotten in the press of tangled limbs.

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