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In the Skin of a Lion

Chapter Twelve

By Aaronica and Orfik

Outside the air was cold and motionless and the sky barren of both clouds and stars, holding only one creamy spotlight that winked into the warehouse through every glassy entrance it could find. Jin awoke with a start but did so quietly, as he had come to do over time. Sitting up he felt his face; dewy and warm. After assuring himself that the massive complex was still except for one machinery-covering drape that shivered weakly under some apparent vent or draft, Jin's hands settled in his lap and he peered at his sleeping Joon with an expression that was difficult to translate under the icy light.

The drafts were chilling on their damp skin as Jin's movement peeled flesh from flesh, and Hwoarang's limb, rapidly goose-pimpling, came to a rest also along Jin's lap. It was only because the redhead was lying on stomach, his face turned away from the Japanese, that the adjustment kept him from waking. The Korean's consistently heavy breathing and occasional, harmonious snores contended with the subtle purr of an old -- obviously ineffective -- furnace in the complex. The nature of his hand cast's rough surface was an unfeeling barrier between their fingers' contact, resisting the spark that might have pulled Hwoarang to consciousness. His body was stretched across the lowset bed, heaving in gentle, untroubled sleep.

Tumbling groggily through Jin's mind was an -- aroma. An odor, rather; a dry, foul smell that skirted his consciousness and could have been dreamt as easily as truly smelled. Licking his lips, Jin carefully detached himself from the sheets and Hwoarang's barriered arm and had to fight the urge to kiss the latter in consolation. He guided himself meticulously through the treacherous waters of the bed, keeping them as friendly as possible in order to reach the bedside.

Wiggling naked toes against the unforgivingly chilly floor the Mishima scion rose from the bed; a pillar of smooth, naked flesh upon which the moon enjoyed doting as it drifted towards its protection. Jin pulled on only his boxers and stopped before the elevator... That was definitely not an option. Turning back he merely lowered to the floor in one of those squarish patches of light, propping his weight on his hands behind him and staring at the moon through the high window. When Jin meditated he preferred to see the moon directly but that, like most things in the world, was inconsequential.

Being that nearly all the Korean's habits, both benign and malignant, rested on a practical logic, the reason he was sleeping on his stomach could be deduced. The physical comfort of his position became apparent once he -- after exploring the voided dunes of sheet under his arm -- rolled onto his back. Hwoarang immediately winced awake, his dry lips grimacing the stab of pain into perspective, and then he curved his body upward in a subtle curve -- a stretch that dulled the ache just a bit. And then he sat up, wiping the lack of dream from his downcast eyes. It was the first night in three months that he hadn't dreamed.

"Jin .. ?"

As a child Jin remembered his mother telling him that the moon was the eye of the departed, hovering in the sky to protect all who fell under its sight. Looking back on all of his childhood memories, Jin could only surmise distantly how long his mother had known what was to come. Or if she had perhaps not known at all, and -- Jin pulled his eyes from the window, blinked them once, and then turned his face towards the bed to replace them there.

"I didn't mean to wake you," he said.

"Nah .. " Hwoarang denied, croaking his voice box to clarity. He'd merely said the name on a whim, before he was fully in control of visual capacities. "I thought you'd left."

Shoveling a handful of saffron from his dark brow, Hwoarang now peered down the length of the mattress to the floor where Jin perched, voicing the confusion on his face.

"What are you doing .. ?" Hwoarang threw the collection of creased linen from his legs, using an arm to rise to his feet and seeming to immediately stumble over an invisible barrier, yelping out in pain as he crashed nude -- blades of flames and long limbs flailing vainly for balance -- into a collection of boxes. His rejoinder came after a quiet, few seconds.

"I'm all right."

Those few seconds served a second purpose: to transport Jin to the scene of the ... crime? Warm arms now delved through all of the boxes and chill and chaos to gather up the spilled Korean and remove him from those unworthy surroundings. Jin was smiling softly, a warm expression melting through some previous one which refused to die, clutching the corners of his eyes and refusing to let go; it hampered the mirthful look in its stubbornness.

"You're still graceful." Jin sat on the edge of the bed, bundle-of- Hwoarang cradled in his lap. It was cold after all and he didn't want his lover to shiver. "I love you."

Hwoarang put up a small, evidently amusing fuss with additional assertions that he was FINE and could walk and GOD he's not a cripple Jin -- ignoring the hand and the poor state of his rear -- but after a preliminary wobble he conceded sullenly to being transported. The orphan wasn't used to being put in compromising situations, and the vulnerability of his health no doubt augmented the grumpy reception Jin's samaritan efforts reaped.

His boiling indignancy calmed once he was tucked in Jin's lap, listening to that affirmation which flooded his unnurtured spirit with richness and trust.

"I love you more." A grin skated over his lips as he playfully ran an index over one of the Japanese's distinct, thick brows, smoothing it back -- a grin which tightened into slight concern given the clearer view of Jin's eyes.

" .. what's wrong .. ?" The hustler didn't even began to suspect the congealed scent of sweat and sex as a factor in the aspect hiding behind Jin's gaze; he was used to these proletariat aromas.

"Nothing anymore," Jin reported genuinely, resting his forehead against Hwoarang's. Darkly-lashed lids sank over his eyes because there was no way to avoid it.

"I've never been this happy, Joon ..." he hummed contentedly. There came a short but heavy pause, then, after which Jin tentatively voiced the real crux of his circumstance. "I guess I'm just worried something will happen."

"Sou ka," Hwoarang realized, anchoring a netting of fingers on Jin's nape. Setting the uncallused tips to a reassuring, circular rhthym against the soft down there, Hwoarang pecked the Japanese's nose with his lips in loving reprimand. Smiling again as he shakily took his feet, he stood in front of Jin shivering in the mezzanine cold he was used to.

"You think too much. I won't let anything happen, Jin-kun." And he hobbled somewhat bowlegged away to a corner that might have been a bathroom before all the structure was stripped away. Grabbing a towel from a cabinet rack to toss over his shoulder, Hwoarang leaned over a large sink and turned the faucets on -- there were two, one hot, one cold, and he had to mix them manually -- splashing the stream of water into his face.

"Joon, why--"

Oh. ... Ohhhhh. Jin swallowed, lacking any gestures that fit his epiphany any better, and backtracked onto the bed. He went only far enough that he could still watch Hwoarang, for the joy that he derived from doing so.

"I'll take care of you, too," he vowed. "So now we're both safe." The fingers of Jin's left hand tangled themselves troubledly into the sheets.

After brushing his teeth, gargling and spitting, the Korean patted his face dry with the towel and discarded it, using another to wrap around his waist with propriety. Walking back carefully -- that was the key, Hwoarang'd discovered: cautious steps that minimized the soreness -- he spoke down to Jin from the foot of the pad.

"You can go first if you want." He quickly clarified, " .. there's only about three minutes of hot water, then it's ice cold. But I'm used to it."

Jin could go first because Hwoarang loved him, but also because the Korean would rather lounge around a few moments more in that mixture of sweat and saliva coating his flesh. They were pheromones that charged the study he was giving Jin.

While Hwoarang had been brushing his teeth, Jin stole hastily to the boxes left in disarray after the Blood Talon's stumble into them. He had them stacked neatly once more by the time Hwoarang was returning, and turned his face to the man.

"Are you sure you don't want the hot water?" While it was an instinctual reaction, Jin also felt guilty for Hwoarang's post-coital discomfort. And yet, at the same time, strangely proud.

"Uh-huh, I'm sure. Take all the time you want," the vanquished offered cheerfully, taking his time crossing the large storage room to a corner that housed an ancient refrigerator.

"I'll make breakfast." A casual look to the clock above the freezer alerted him to tardiness. On Jin's part. It was a weekday. The clock spelled out just after ten, and Hwoarang scratched his temple a little anxiously, his towel slumping around his waist with only one hand to secure it.

"Does your school get real anal about missed days?"

Jin made a funny, startled squeak of a sound at the sudden inquiry. But then, all smiles, he laughed-- a touch anxiously, granted, but it was necessary to soothe him. Jin had had perfect attendance through all of his years at Mishima Polytech, but being there, and looking at Hwoarang-who-was-even-going-to-make-breakfast-because-he-was-the- greatest-in-the-world, and loving him, made this day suddenly feel much more important than some bland, lifeless academic record.

"It's okay," he said, moving barefoot towards Hwoarang to put his arms around his trim waist. "Your cooking will be a lot more special than a school day." Smooch.

"Uhm .. " Hwoarang uttered, whatever he might have said to that truncated by the sight the open refrigerator door yielded. A gust of cold air escaped from rails holding a box of pocky, three jerky-like slices of pizza, and a container of baking soda. One bottle of ketchup and one bottle of water were tucked away in the side shelves. The Korean swiftly closed the door, suggesting with a weak smile.

"I could order out."

Jin stared quietly into the refrigerator while the view was available, scratching the bridge of his nose. He asked gently, "...Baking soda?"

"Freshness .. !" Hwoarang explained, following this answer with a matter-of-fact pat to the Japanese's rear. Doo San Baek taught him all about that sort of stuff, if not proper nutrition. Pillowy lips pressed against Jin's neck, a mild tease in Hwoarang's wake. His present path was aligned with the phone near a couple of crates transformed into a shabby bureau.

" .. but I guess you've never had to worry about that kind of stuff. You pay people to do that for you, huh?" Hwoarang picked up the phone and punched a few numbers, and watched Jin after placing it at his ear.

The question felt like an accusation, even though he knew such a tone wasn't intended. "I-- Other people take care of that; yeah. Do you know if there are any fruit trees nearby?"

"Yeah, can you hold on?" Hwoarang was talking to the person who answered the phone; he would never put Jin on hold. "I don't think so, this area's pretty screwed environmentally. You could probably find some decent hubcaps though. Yeah, can I get the special?" he started again into the phone, as he rolled the hand-held knot of the towel to tighten it at his waist. Once he gave the address the phone was replaced on the receiver, and the Korean gave Jin a little juvenile grin.

" .. fish is always good, though. She gave us an hour to an hour and a half." Hwoarang's bright gaze was nuanced with a strange sort of hunger.

Jin distantly scratched the back of his morning-cowlicked head as Hwoarang spoke on the phone, looking from him to the phone itself to the view outside the window and back again.

"Aa; I guess they're busy..?" He had already been offered a shower, but nevertheless found himself stalling.

"I guess," he repeated in a metallic, provocative voice. The hand that held the towel didn't seem quite so resolved anymore, and the material slackened a bit, revealing the muscle-lined bone of his Hwoarang's hip when he leaned against a crate. He watched Jin in the same way, the curve on his flushed lips a bit too suggestive to pass as a smile.

The curve of Hwoarang's hip was always a horrible temptation. And it wasn't that Jin didn't have an iron will, but occasionally it was all right if that resolve... ... slipped down... er uh --

"You know --. That three minutes isn't really much time." He was gravitating towards Hwoarang. With a soft smile, his eyes lowered to the redhead's collarbone. "Maybe we could share it."

"Hmm .. " The Korean was musing, pretending that his thoughts were ruled by logic as much as Jin's were. "Might keep it hot a little longer." Already Hwoarang was forgetting the ache, a warmth growing there beneath the towel that seared the feeling away with something else, something delicious. He controlled himself enough to move from the crates without touching the Japanese, striding more sturdily to the old-fashioned stall. Reaching through the screen covered with faded bonsai trees and pretty aristocratic geishas, he pulled a chain and water began to fall, and he let go of his towel and that fell too, and Hwoarang stepped into the shower.

The way Jin shed his boxers, one would think they were on fire. Creeping gingerly in pursuit, he slid into the stall behind Hwoarang and pulled the curtain closed. He closed his eyes, tipping his face in the direction of the stream and wiping his hair from his forehead as the water matted it there.

But that only took one hand. The other was free to hold Hwoarang's shoulder.

The stream of water from the metal spout above was scalding, yet the temperature of Hwoarang's mouth on Jin's skin neutralized the effect. He'd turned to the larger body, wrapping his arms tightly around torso and clutching powerful back muscles in his hand, and began sucking at the Japanese's collar, neck and shoulder. The water slickening their bodies only made his feast louder.

Jin's breezy noise was lost to the soft hiss of the shower. The burning water was tinging them both pink even faster than their own pulses, he noticed absently, as both strong hands glided up the sides of Hwoarang's erotic form.

"Where's the soap," he whispered in Hwoarang's ear.

Now that it was mentioned, Hwoarang found himself grateful the rage for shower gels had passed him by. His mouth slipped from Jin's skin so he could reach for a bar of white, and he stood back slightly, rivulets pouring around his jaw, neck and chest, and pressed it into Jin's hand.

"You're going to have to scrub hard." Setting a kiss to Jin's lips, he half whispered half moaned, " .. I'm filthy."

Those three words didn't provoke a mere spark in Jin's body; it was more of an ignition. Turning the soap in his hands until both were satisfactorily overflowing with creamy lather, he returned it to the ledge and began a fresh exploration of the Korean's body. Each time it felt wholly new. He started on either side of his chest, his hands pressing flat to wipe a trail of white up his chest ... about the back of his neck ... down his breastbone ... back over his sides.... To reach Hwoarang's back decently, he had to pull the man onto himself. But he didn't think that Hwoarang would mind.

The Korean was a salient hardness against Jin's tendoned thigh, and in conjunction with the pampering large hands stroking Hwoarang's wet flesh it made keeping control of his libido difficult. Heavy breath against Jin's neck, punctuated by grinding teeth and a greedy tongue, was as hot as the steam.

On one hand, Jin wanted to repay Hwoarang for the discomfort he had caused. On the other, he hoped they might finish up before the searing water turned frigid. Suffocating in the glorious heat, it was the first intention that took power over Jin. Jin sank to a knee, wiping his mouth down one side of Hwoarang's chest as though it were a sealer for the freshly cleansed skin. He looked up unto the Korean's face as he kissed his navel, his hands wiping the remaining traces of soap about the stalks of the other's outer thighs. He was asking permission.

While soapy rivers were pouring from Hwoarang's body in great falls it had done nothing to cleanse or cool that internal heat, and Jin's genuflection planted more fires within him. His permission was given over with a moan, swallowed up by the orchestra of water showering on them, but made tangible by the burying of his fingers in slick, black hair. At that moment it seemed all of his being had become that throbbing, turgid organ.

Moments after some of Jin's fingers discovered the base of that eager trigger and curled about it, Jin's soft mouth came gradually upon the opposite end. He drew his lips as tightly as he could think to do, and as his face sank lower, he drew Hwoarang into himself. He wanted to memorize the texture of the flesh with his tongue, and learn the shape of the organ with his wet lips, so that he could be as good for Hwoarang as he Jin thought the other was for him. Withdrawing for air, he tipped his head, his lips parting from the burning column but his tongue remaining to draw across it.

Hwoarang cried out, the loudest sound for a moment, and his knees threatened to give under the magma enveloping him. It wasn't the feeling -- although that was impossible to describe, that feeling of tongue on sensitive flesh -- as much as the imagined sight of Jin's mouth on him that accounted for his winded reaction. He palmed the head in his hand all the more tenderly, bracing his shoulderblades against the only wall of the stall and lifting a foot to the tub's ledge, his thighs parted wider. Ecstasy, being legion, commanded those first slow rocks of the Korean's hips.

Regathering his forces, Jin seized the dewy pinnacle with renewed fervor, applying thick, steady pressure. He rode through Hwoarang's pushes and found a own swift, urgent speed of his own with the surging and ebbing of his ministrations. He wanted to bring Hwoarang to his knees. He wanted to hear him holler again.

There wasn't enough air in Hwoarang's lungs for all the breaths and moans and whimpers he was making; not enough oxygen to power the building explosion inside his slender body. When the first shudder ran through him his hips bucked without a rhythm, jarring them both. His trembling hands held on to Jin for dear life, despite it being emptied out of him in droves.

" .. god .. Jin .. " he groaned, swallowing drops of lukewarm water.

Jin pulled back to the head but held fast to it, letting the bubbling drink peak against the roof of his mouth and drip onto his tongue, gathering there. It was, however, still a flavor he didn't enjoy. Once Hwoarang was sliding from the peak he pared his mouth slowly but completely, and let the mouthful drop onto the tub floor. Jin was drunk with Hwoarang and heady with lust. He rose from his knees and pressed himself against the prostrated Korean, his eyes staring half- lidded and deep and boiling.

"Jin," he whispered again, the name its own form of moan, and reached down between their hard abdomens to hold the Japanese in his palm. After a tough squeeze Hwoarang pulled once, the water having slickened his hand, and he leaned in to push his tongue through Jin's mouth. Each stabbing motion mimicked the pumped he fashioned of his fingers, and when he tapped the head with his digit's tip his tongue thrashed across teeth and lips.

Jin jerked fiercely in that grip, expelling a loud, shivering breath before his seedy mouth was so wonderfully smothered. Each desperate iron throb was agonizing, and each pass of that fist heavenly. Like a ball of ice falling down the hill his lust grew stronger, faster and heavier, until it stole his breath and snapped him like a twig, his bones, muscles and blood obliterating into one hot, sticky mess in Hwoarang's grip.

Hwoarang, reluctant to relinquish the worked and ravished sex so soon, stroked the limpness with less ferocity than before, sliding his thumb in loving, circular gyrations over the tip. Even though his mouth watered for it, he would take his time instigating another conflagration in the Japanese.

"Baby .. " he whispered comfortingly in Jin's ear, reaching to pull the string on the cold water. " .. my baby .. "

Jin was too sapped of strength to wince at the continued attention on the sensitive flesh, and swallowed twice to push his heart down from his throat. Just like that it as all gone, and this was the doting, clinging Jin; the one who put his forehead on Hwoarang's shoulder and gathered him in a hug and murmured a quiet but adoring "I love you, Joon."

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