Chasing The Winter Moon ♥
Pairing: Moon Jae Shin / Goo Yong Ha (GeolRim fic, SKK fic)
Post Sungkyunkwan Scandal
Overall Rating: Probably NC-17
Requested by: hoshiko_malfoy
Summary: Following an epic scandal at their university, two master scholars search for their own meaning of love.
A deep purple wash consumed most of the night sky. Dark clouds drenched the hillsides in an unrelenting pitch black with a promise of a cold rain lingering in the air. The young Sungkyunkwan pages scurried about the grounds, securing lanterns and tying up the long banners that flew from the school’s posts.
Jae Shin looked up into the coming storm, his mouth sullen and full with regrets. Nearly an hour wasted in sitting on the cold stone steps in front of his room and despite nearly draining the full bottle of rough milk-soju he’d purchased earlier, he was coldly sober. Another glance at the rice paper screens lining the dormitory’s outer walls does not settle his troubled mind. The one room his eyes kept returning to remained dark, despite the passing time and growing storm and Jae Shin found himself worrying more at the absence of its occupant than consuming the contents of his bottle.
“He is not back yet?” Professor Jung asked, approaching the younger scholar with a steady stride. “Why don’t you go inside and wait for him? It will be storming soon. You will freeze the rain to your face with such a cold look.”
The younger man glanced at his teacher before taking another sip of his drink. Swishing the soju through his teeth, he swallowed and said, “Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.”
“Impudent boy,” Jung tsked. His delicate fondness for the problematic scholar shone in his eyes despite the stern frown he affected. “Quoting Confucius at me to mask your stubbornness. I should deduct a point from you purely for abuse of your learning.”
“Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” Jae Shin returned, lifting his bottle in salute.
“More impudence.” Jung took the vessel from his student’s hand, wiping at the mouth before taking a sip and handing it back.
Jae Shun scowled at the gesture, sniffing impolitely. “I am not sick.”
“No but I do not want to swallow any of your stupidity,” The professor replied, making a face at the taste in his mouth. “Why not drink fire for all the good that bottle will do you?”
“Because I cannot get fire to pour into my mouth.” He shrugged, his attention helplessly drawn back to staring at the screens. “I am fine, sunbae. The storm will be nothing compared to the cold inside of me.”
“There are those of us who are worried for you, Moon Jae Shin. Despite your ignorant ways and rebellious attitude, you show great promise.” Jung followed Jae Shin’s gaze and his frown grew. “Of Goo Yong Ha, I cannot make that same claim.”
“There is nothing wrong with Goo Yong Ha!” Jae Shin slid from his seat, firming his stance to stand against his professor. “The Joseon should beggar themselves to bring him to their side.”
“While it is good to stand for friends, standing against a mentor who merely speaks his mind is not,” The professor said, clasping his hands behind his back to regard the young man in front of him.
“If you are asking for an apology, I will not give it,” The young man warned. “Not for speaking of my…friend.”
“Then I wish for less people to speak their minds of Goo Yong Ha in your presence, lest your life become a battlefield.” Professor Jung inclined his head, subtly offering an apology for offending the hot-tempered scholar. “Regardless of the fire that keeps you warm inside, stay out of the winter storm. I do not want the pages to spend the morning picking your lifeless body out of the ice.”
Jae Shin grumbled under his breath as the man walked away, drinking once more from the ceramic bottle. Despite his repeated urgings, there was no sign of Goo Yong Ha and from the hurried scrambling of the university staff, if the young scholar did not pass through the gates soon, he’d find himself as locked out of Sungkyunkwan as the storm.
“What is it, Yeorim?” Jae Shin murmured, reaching inside of his jacket to finger the length of beads he’d once taken from Yong Ha’s head cover. “Why do you stay away? What have I done to make you hate me?”
The string of amber were flecked with mahogany strands and despite his unwillingness to acknowledge his affection for the man, Jae Shin couldn’t help himself from cutting the bead strand off with discreet slices of his palm knife. A twist of his wrist and the beads were secured in his hand before Yong Ha knew they were missing. He’d cried out over their loss a few minutes later, scouring the dirt street where they’d come but eventually agreed with Jae Shin they were lost and irretrievable.
Much like Yong Ha appeared to be to Jae Shin’s heart.
The amber warmed under his touch, something that startled Jae Shin the first time he’d ran them through his hand but a few bits of research reassured him the stones’ response was normal. What wasn’t normal, the scholar surmised, was his response to them. When held up to the light, he found them to be the colour of Yong Ha’s eyes and when he daringly licked at one with the flat of his tongue, he imagined the sweetness of the man’s pale skin lingered in the taste of the bead.
He’d jerked the strand away from his mouth then, as if the bead had burned his tongue and refused to allow himself to repeat the action although a part of him longed to do so. Consigned to his pocket, the bead strand was one of his most treasured, and private, possessions.
If he could not have Yong Ha, he would at least carry a piece of the man with him to ward off the strange thoughts lingering in his mind.
“You drive me insane, Yeorim,” Jae Shin said to the lightless screen wall over his shoulder. “You make me think of things.. things that I want to do to you…with you and I am shamed for having those thoughts. I don’t even know what to do with them. It’s all so unfamiliar. It’s nothing I can shove aside or learn about because no one ― no one dares speak of such things out loud.”
“Do you not know what you do to me, Goo Yong Ha?” He sat down, turning his back to the man’s empty room. “Why is it my body aches for you? What is there that two men can do? How do these thoughts conspire to steal my sleep? And why aren’t you here where I can see you… so I know you are safe in this storm? I know how you hate to be cold. Why do you tempt my anger in staying out?”
“And why do you tear my heart by staying away?” Jae Shin hated to admit the truth spreading through his soul. He missed the man’s teasing touch and worse, need to feel Yeorim’s body pressing against his in a casual hug that lingered a moment too long for propriety.
The university grounds shimmered like dyed silk dipped into clear water and Jae Shin blinked away the hot tears threatening his vision. Banging his head against the column behind him, he tried to shake the loneliness growing in him, a desperate emptiness that seemed to swallow his senses, drowning him with the want of a man he couldn’t have.
“They… kill men who want… who are depraved enough to want another man’s touch,” Jae Shin reminded himself. “Do not forget Crown Prince Sado, Yeorim’s Geol Oh. Geum-dong-ji-sa be damned. It is one thing to die for one’s country but another to die merely for the loving of men? If a King would order his own son — his only prince — to death for that perversion, what chance do I have to survive this? They lie to us and tell us of a madness that never was and of murders with no victims when there remain whispers of his needs. Foul needs that led to … the only honour he had left to him.”
Taking a deep breath, Jae Shin let the cold winter air shock his lungs, hoping it would soothe the heat of his heart. His tears fell, running down his smooth cheeks and into the sleeve he’d tucked the beads into to keep them warm.
The moon slid from the clouds, determined to take back the night stolen from it but the storm fought back, swallowing the silver light. It argued still, a gloaming touching on the crystals hidden in the winter clouds until the sky above Sungkyunkwan shimmered with a liquid glow.
Allowing himself one final glance at Yong Ha’s rooms, Jae Shin drained the last of the soju and heaved the bottle at a nearby plaster wall, reveling in the crack of the stoneware as it shattered. Wiping at his face with his sleeve, he retrieved the beads from their hiding place and cast his arm back, willing himself to throw his forbidden treasure away.
His arm staggered back then forward twice, each time his hand refusing to release its grip on the long beaded string. The amber burned in his palm, nearly as much as the kiss Yong Ha once placed there when Jae Shin blistered his hand in archery.
Burying his knuckles into his mouth, Jae Shin choked by his cry and rocked in place, wishing for the storm to descend and take his breath from him, willing the winter to steal his life from him if only to stop the pain he felt. The cold descended and bit into his face, streaking it red where the wind cut close to his skin.
Swallowing his injured pride, Jae Shin climbed the steps, toeing off his shoes before opening the door to his own room. The beads cut into his skin but he refused to let them go, letting the pain remind him of his unwanted love.
“For you, Goo Yong Ha, I would climb into a thousand rice chests,” Jae Shin sobbed, cutting his voice down to a husky whisper. “Even knowing that you prefer women. Even knowing that you could not want someone as poor in spirit as me. Even knowing that I could never give you the satisfaction of a man’s pleasure. If that is what you would ask of me, I would do it. All you have to do is ask.”
“I can only live for the day when you ask me to die for you… for loving you,” He murmured as the sky opened up and the winter began its furious assault. “But I know… you ,never will.”
The sleet struck Yong Ha, severing the warmth from his skin as quickly and ruthlessly as a butcher cut a lamb’s throat. He’d remained at the yard’s entrance, affixed in place by the presence of Moon Jae Shin at his doorway.
He watched as the scholar finished off a bottle of soju then winced when Jae Shin violently threw the bottle at the wall. The shards flew wide and even from the great distance between the portal and the dormitory, Yong Ha could see one of the sharp pieces bounce back and slice at Jae Shin’s face. The splash of blood on the man’s tanned cheek startled Yong Ha and he stopped himself from crossing over the winter-dry grass to touch at the wound.
“He does not want you to touch him, Yeorim,” He scolded himself, wrapping his robes tight about his willowy body to fend of a chill that had nothing to do with the winter storm trying to devour him. “Remember that! Be firm in that!”
There was a beaten down quality in Jae Shin’s shoulders as he climbed the steps to his now private room. A quick shush of the door screens and Jae Shin was gone from his sight, hidden behind white thick paper and wooden frames. Yong Ha waited a moment, hoping the man would fire up a lantern to give himself light but the room remained dark and silent.
“If I know you,” Yong Ha muttered as he picked his way across the dying lawn now being buried by small slushes of frozen water. “You are lying on the cold wooden floor and not in the warmth of bedding. Why? Because you are stubborn and refuse to accept any of the comforts we — the civilized — have worked so hard to develop. Instead, you will root about on the floor as if you are a pig looking for a treat in the emptiness of your soul. Which you will not find! Because it is empty!”
He reached his room before another burst of cold could be released from the storm, barely getting his shoes off and out from the elements as the half-frozen rain began in earnest. Shivering, Yong Ha hurried into his space, his fingers trembling as he lit a small brazier for warmth. The kindling caught slowly and he blew on them, trying to ignite surrounding coals. When the edges of the packed logs turned red, he hunkered down and watched the fire long enough to reassure him that it was steady enough to be left before standing to disrobe.
Shedding the expensive silk he’d worn into the city, Yong Ha hung the discarded robes on a T-pole to shake out the wrinkles he’d gotten into the fabric. The silk smelled faintly of Mae-chung’s perfume and a smear of her pale face paint marred one shoulder. Quirking his mouth in regret, he made a mental note to have the robe cleaned, not wanting the stain to set into the fabric. Settling down the front of the robe, he pursed his mouth when a long twist of lemongrass fell from a sleeve pocket.
“Ah, from the tea house,” He chuckled, picking up the leaves. Setting it aside for the moment, he tugged down his bedding, spreading out the thick mattress and linens. Grabbing the grasses, he snuggled down into the blankets, pulling off his stockings with a deft twist of his long toes. Wriggling his feet, he pulled his arms out from under the coverlets and held the lemongrass up, staring at it thoughtfully.
“You look a little bit like my Geol Oh with that rough tuft at the top,” Yong Ha said to the bundle, turning it around in his hands. A quick rearrangement of the thin string holding the bundle together and Yong Ha smiled with his craftiness. “There, now you look like a little man. Much better.”
“Do you think he has enough sense to be under a blanket at least?” Yong Ha asked his simulacrum. “Or wash the blood from his face? Using soap so he will not get an infection? Do you think he will have enough sense for that?”
“What? No?” Yong Ha cocked his head as if to listen to the lemongrass man he’d made. Sighing, he patted the twist to his chest. “Sadly, I have to agree with you. It was all I could hope for that he got out of the storm. Sometimes, I wonder if I shouldn’t have named him Stupid Dog instead.”
The crackle of coals in the brazier startled Yong Ha and he fretted, worried now about Jae Shin and the coldness of his room floor. Nestled in a cocoon of warmth, he was reluctant to go back out but the line of blood on the man’s face reappeared in his mind when he closed his eyes as did the dejected curl of his spine before Jae Shin closed the doors behind him.
“He was probably like that because he still longs for Yoon Hee,” Yong Ha whispered, clenching the lemongrass golem in his hand. “Because he will always long for Yoon Hee even though Lee Sun Joon loves her.”
“But he breaks the rules! All the time!” He reminded himself, turning over onto his belly. “He mocks them!”
The movement pressed his sex into the blankets, trapping his desire against the warm soft fabrics. He moved slightly, imagining first his own hand on his arousal then with a delicious fleeting forbidden longing, replaced his hand with Jae Shin’s stronger one. The thought of the man’s tanned fingers on his pale skin nearly brought Yong Ha to completion and he cursed himself for being as quick to excite as a first year student.
Lemongrass perfume struck his nose and he smiled, opening his hand to stare down at the crushed twist in his palm. Kissing the battered doll, he inhaled deeply, holding the scent of his enticement to him.
“Ah, little man, if anyone would dare something like this — it would be my Geol Oh.” Yong Ha sighed, his longing making him weepy with desire. “If only he dared. If only he truly were my Geol Oh.”