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
Lesson One, Two, Three
Summary: Following an epic scandal at their university, two master scholars search for their own meaning of love.
“Hyung?” Dae Min scratched lightly at the scholar’s panel, listening for movement inside. “Are you awake?”
Sliding the door enough to look into the room, he sighed when he spotted Jae Shin lying on his back in the middle of the floor. Still dressed in his winter damp clothes, the scholar visibly shivered when the night wind swept through the open door but his eyes remained shut.
Even by a lowly scholar’s standards, the Geol Oh’s room was barren of most comforts. With the help of the silvery moonlight fighting through the winter storm outside, Dae Min could make out an assortment of weapons hanging from hooks set into the overhead beams and a few spare clothes creating shadow puppets against the wall. Unruly stacks of books took up most of the surface of a low table, the piles precariously leaning against one another for support. Unable to make out much more, Dae Min stepped in and looked over the man he’d come to pursue.
With his robe slightly open to expose a wide swath of tanned chest and stomach and the slightly unkempt tousle of his hair, Jae Shin could have almost passed for a laborer, muscles honed tight from work and dusted gold from the sun. His long legs were slightly akimbo, seemingly inviting a lover to kneel between them and roam lips and hands over his body and the strong, slender fingers that Dae Min watched play with calligraphy brushes were stained with ink speckled and callused from Jae Shin’s love of archery.
His handsome face and graceful, long hands saved him from appearing brutish but a feral tang lurked just beneath the surface. Dae Min dreamed of tasting Jae Shin’s lips, sucking on the lower one until it plumped up against his teeth so he could bite into it. The man’s thick lashes begged to be kissed and Dae Min wanted to feel them flutter open against his skin as he explored the other man’s exquisite body.
Taking it all in, Dae Min’s mouth watered at the sight of the other man stretched out in front of him.
“Get out,” Jae Shin grumbled, not bothering to open his eyes.
His manners, however, remained guarded and sullen, Dae Min noted.
Crossing into the room, Dae Min’s soft footsteps on the polished wood alerted Jae Shin to his presence and the man opened his eyes to peer up into the darkness to see who violated his privacy. They stared at one another for a moment, bereft of the moonlight’s assistance and for a fleeting second, Dae Min wondered if Jae Shin would be inclined to spring up and stab him dead, thinking the scholar was an intruder intent on harm.
“Who are you?” Jae Shin sat up, resting his weight on his elbow and scowled. “Never mind. I don’t care who you are. Just leave.”
Smiling broadly, Dae Min offered up the munbaeju he brought with him, leaving the bottle on the floor by Jae Shin’s legs as he hunted for something to bring light to the room. Discovering a battered brazier against the wall, he quickly located a starter and ignited kindling for the coal. Turning back around, the young man yelped in surprise to find Jae Shin standing right behind him, staring him down.
He’d never been as close to Jae Shin as he was now and despite the intense longing he’d developed for the other man, Dae Min was struck mute by the intensity of the man’s dark eyes and the beauty of his face.
Rumours of Sungkyunkwan’s rebellious scholar reached even the relative quiet of Suwon and Dae Min had been intrigued by the stories of the forceful young man. Contradictory tales were told and he’d longed to dig into the mystery of the school’s lone wolf, only to discover the man’s incredible magnetism drew him in nearly as deeply as the whispers of his wildness.
Dae Min swallowed, twice, when he realized how close his lips were to the other man’s delectable mouth.
“Hyung!” He forced himself not to step back. “You’ll catch your death from the winter if you’re not careful. I brought some munbaeju to help.”
Giving way to Jae Shin would be a sign of weakness, something he learned while handling his father’s birds of prey but it was a hard-won battle with instinct. Backing down from a wild animal was as good as showing it his throat and Dae Min’s plans for seducing the other man would go nowhere if he didn’t prove himself to be Jae Shin’s equal.
At least equal, Dae Min corrected himself. Showing him that I’m his better will make it easier to have him on his stomach at the end of this little game.
“Why are you here?” Jae Shin stepped closer, his mouth partially open as if ready to take a bit of Dae Min’s face. Canting his head to the side, he studied the other man in the sparse light, taking measure of Dae Min’s demeanor. “And why are you remaining here?”
“I’ve told you, I’m here to offer you something to warm up.” Dae Min chanced taking a step into the man, slightly brushing his chest against the other scholar. “You passed me outside and looked upset…and cold. I thought perhaps I could offer at least something to help keep your belly warm.”
The grunt from Jae Shin’s pretty mouth was low and dismissive. “Why? I don’t know you.”
“We have classes together,” Dae Min replied, sliding the packet of dried apricots from his sleeve. “Philosophy of Law for one. I am the one sitting in front of you, blocking the teacher’s view as you nap.”
“Hah, you’re the one with the red stitching on his shoes.” Jae Shin didn’t move as the man pushed past him but didn’t bother to keep Dae Min pressed against the cabinet. “They look silly.”
“My mother gave them to me,” He said with a shrug, mentally noting never to wear those shoes again. “Red is one of her favourite colours.”
“It’s a good colour.” He grunted again as he pulled the bottle’s stopper. Sniffing at the alcohol, Jae Shin wrinkled his nose and coughed. “What is this? It smells as if you’ve boiled the dead in it.”
“I admit, the fragrance leads a bit to be desired.” Dae Min tried not to smile at the man’s appraisal of his father’s brewer. “But it’s very good once you get past the initial taste.”
“I like apricots,” Jae Shin plucked the packet out of Dae Min’s fingers, inhaling the dried fruit’s sweet scent.
I know, Dae Min thought. I’ve watched you suck on the damned things until they’re moist from your mouth and then nibble on the flesh. You could teach a gisaeng how to give a man pleasure with that mouth of yours, Geol Oh.
He dug through Jae Shin’s linen cupboard and pulled out the rolled up bedding haphazardly shoved onto a shelf. Unfurling the mattress pad, he arranged the linens with a crisp snap of his wrists, billowing out the blankets to settle on the bed.
“I… do you listen to anything anyone says?” Jae Shin shoved Dae Min’s shoulder, nearly knocking the man over. “What are… why are you doing this? I didn’t tell you…”
“I think too many people listen to what you say…” Dae Min straightened his clothes, smoothing out the wrinkles across his chest. “And not enough people see what you need.”
“What does that mean?” If it were possible, Jae Shin’s suspicious glare intensified and Dae Min deflected the man with a casual shrug of his shoulders.
“It means that I saw you and thought, there is a man who needs a friend,” He said, taking the bottle from Jae Shin. “And one that is willing to merely sit and drink with you if that’s what you want.”
“I don’t.” Jae Shin scowl. “I don’t want.”
“Then if you don’t mind, I will sit down, drink a bit to get warm before I head back outside.” Dae Min settled onto the floor, resting his behind on the mattress pad. “You can keep the apricots although I wouldn’t say no to one if you wanted to share.”
The heat from the brazier had yet to reach the floor and despite the thick foot coverings he wore, Dae Min could feel the chill creep up into his toes. He heard Jae Shin shuffle behind him then a burst of heat as the other man poked at the coals to bring them fully to life. Emboldened by Jae Shin’s seeming disinterest, Dae Min took a tentative taste of the munbaeju, forcing the potent mouthful down his throat. It burned but he swallowed a second sip, coughing slightly as he held it out for Jae Shin.
“Really, try it,” He covered his mouth with his sleeve. “It’s better than soju.”
“Nothing is better than soju,” Jae Shin murmured but he took the bottle from Dae Min and filled his cheeks with the fiery liquid.
Dae Min felt a small tinge of pride when Jae Shin slowly swallowed the drink without coughing it back up. It had taken him years to master drinking the brew without losing face and to have the other man savour the potent liquor with ease showed promise.
If he can easily take that burn, Dae Min thought. He’ll be able to take other… irritations in his throat as well.
“Here,” Jae shin shoved the bottle back at Dae Min.
“It’s good, then?”
“Yeah,” He mumbled, sitting down on the bed pad, almost out of reach of Dae Min’s touch. “It’s good enough.”
“It’s from my family’s brewery,” Dae Min said, surreptitiously moving the bottle around until he saw the damp mark left by Jae Shin’s lips. While the other man picked at the apricot package’s tie, he placed his mouth on the spot and had his first taste of Sungkyunkwan’s wild horse.
Then died a little inside when Heaven filled him for a fleeting moment before dissipating on his tongue.
He’d tasted others and had found most unremarkable with a few that lingered in his memory until someone more intriguing came along. In that single touch of Jae Shin’s mouth against his, however removed, Dae Min knew he’d found the man he wanted to keep. Slightly sweet and subtly layered with a sensual hint of masculinity, the taste of Jae Shin on his tongue, in the back of his throat and through Dae Min’s sense were headier than the alcohol brewed strong enough to blind.
“So you are just going to sit here and drink?” Jae Shin asked, not looking up from the apricots. A final skillful twist of his fingers and the packet opened, revealing the delicacy inside of the thin cotton pouch. He took one then after a second, held the packet out for Dae Min, taking it back after the other man selected one.
Jae Shin did not disappoint him. After an initial nibble on the fruit’s red tipped edge, he sucked on it, dangling the round between his teeth and down his lip while holding it between his fingers. The wrinkled blush-golden fruit curled around the man’s tongue as he toyed with it, looking so much like the helm of another’s glans that Dae Min forced himself to look away before he pushed Jae Shin down on the bed pad and took the apricot’s place.
“Just long enough to get warm.” Dae Min made not to let the glee he felt show as he listened to the wind howl outside. In the short amount of time since he’d sat down, the storm kicked up and swallowed the moonlight whole, tossing the room into a darkness only warded off by the small brazier’s fire. "Although it sounds like I’d be taking my own life if I go outside right now. Is Hanseong always like this in the winter?”
“You’re not from here?” Jae Shin looked up at the man through his hair. “You look like you’re one of the spoiled brats from the hills.”
“No,” Dae Min laughed. “I’m from Suwon. Far enough away to be considered provincial by some of the others around here.”
“Others?” His scowl told Dae Min how little Jae Shin thought of others’ opinions.
“Yes,” He said, innocently nodding as he sipped the brew before handing the bottle back over. “Sunbae — Goo Yong Ha — I think he feels I’m some poor country rat who was caught on a ship heading up the river only to jump off at the docks instead of waiting to go back home.
A fiery gleam in Jae Shin’s eye warmed Dae Min’s heart. The ember burst into a tiny flame when the man said, “Goo Yong Ha spends too much of his time minding other people’s business and too little on his own.”
“Ah, but he…” Dae Min cast his eyes down, prolonging the stretch of time between his words. “He is well liked … and he has you, a good friend. I came here with my cousin, Bon Hwa… who is nice enough but ah, I worry that he’ll barely pass the courses much less excel at any testing.”
“Is he stupid? How did he get in then?” His cheeks flushed pink from the munbaeju, Jae Shin braced himself with a palm down on the mat. “They were supposed to stop the cheating.”
Leaning towards the other man, he let his fingers linger on Jae Shin’s as he took the bottle back, stroking at the man’s hand before drawing away. He barely brought the bottle up to his mouth, closing his lips tightly as he had the other three times he’d taken the munbaeju back and mimed a deep gulp, pulling the bottle away and shivering as if he were working to get the brew down.
“He is smart enough,” Dae Min said softly. “Just…not wise enough. I’ve noticed, hyung, that so many students are quick to memorize what they need to know but can do so little to apply it. Bon Hwa is one of these. I… miss some of my fellow students in Suwon. We could sit for hours and debate the simplest of things. Here, I find I’m… lonely for that kind of company.”
Jae Shin’s grunt was a soft assent of agreement that spurred Dae Min on.
“To tell the truth,” He whispered, low enough to make Jae Shin lean in to hear him. Shifting over until his knee touched Jae Shin’s thigh, he kept his face down, a shy seductive purr to his voice. “I came here to… hope perhaps that you’d...”
Dae Min trailed off, picking up again only when he saw the curious purse of Jae Shin’s mouth. “I’ve been through the library and I’ve noticed… that you’ve read so many of the texts there. So in turn, truthfully, that I’d be able to… find that kind of friendship here at Sungkyunkwan…with you.”
The storm tore at the school for three days, keeping many of the scholars locked up tight in their own rooms. During that time, Yong Ha briefly ventured out of his door, stopped short by the frozen white landscape stretching out to cover most of the buildings. A thin stretch of the walkway had been cleared that morning by one of the pages, the swept area on wooden planks barely wide enough for a man to walk. On the third day of his confinement, Yong Ha felt he was about to go out of his skin and vowed to venture outside no matter how dreary the weather. Bundled up against the cold with his thickest jacket, Yong Ha debated sprinting across the now covered lawn to see what Jae Shin was doing when he spotted Kim Dae Min coming out of his friend’s room.
Jae Shin emerged the room as well, standing in the threshold with an uncharacteristic look of contentment on his face. The men appeared to exchange a few words, an obviously friendly banter evident even from across the yard. Nodding at Dae Min, Jae Shin turned as if sensing Yong Ha’s eyes on him. The man’s gaze met the other’s and lingered for a brief moment then he returned to his room and shut the door behind him. Dae Min glanced in Yong Ha’s direction and offered the older student the briefest of nods before continuing down the walk towards his own room.
“What the…?” Yong Ha growled and took a step off of the walkway to demand an explanation from either Dae Min or Jae Shin.
And immediately went feet first down into a snow drift that nearly buried him up to his chest.
“Yong Ha!” He heard someone shout and then the world tilted back and grew solid again as he was tugged on from above.
Warm hands reached under his armpits, yanking him free of his frozen prison. Blinking, Yong Ha tried to focus on the face of the man carrying him into his room but only got a brief glimpse of a scholar’s robes and gat before he was thrust inside the dim quarters. Strong hands stripped him of his outer jackets and pushed him down into the relatively comfortable warmth of the bedding he’d left on the floor. Shivering, he wrapped his arms around himself and curled up, heartily wishing the cold out of his bones.
Bringing the blankets off of his face, Yong Ha swallowed his disappointment on seeing Lee Sun Joon holding a cup of steaming soju a few inches from his face.
“Sit up, hyung. If we can get some of this in you, you’ll feel better.”
The honorific seemed out of place considering the young scholar had just saved him from a certain chilly death but Yong Ha nodded willingly as Sun Joon helped him raise his head to take a sip. The first taste burned more than it should have and Yong Ha felt his tongue go numb from the scald. Not about to refuse another sip, he drank again, deeper this time to get the warmth further into his body. Satisfied, Sun Joon lay him back into the bedding and crouched down next to him.
“If you crawl in here with me,” Yong Ha chattered. “I wouldn’t toss you out. Your girlfriend might have something nasty to say to me but she’d hardly be one to talk about sleeping with strange men.”
“I am going to pretend that you did not say that so I don’t have to repeat it to Yoon Hee.” The scholar’s serious face held a hint of mischief, making Yong Ha smile. “I would have hated to save you only to have her kill you. It would be a waste of my efforts.”
“Your efforts are never a waste, Garang.” Yong Ha felt at his face, making sure his lips were still attached to his face. He sheepishly met the other man’s thoughtful gaze and asked, “Did Geol Oh see me fall?”
“Perhaps,” Sun Joon cocked his head, thinking back on his memory of the scene. “No, I don’t think so. I don’t think anyone but myself was around.”
“Thank Chungryong for its small gifts.” Yong Ha laid back, relieved at the thought. “And for you as well. I would have frozen to death otherwise.”
“The snow wasn’t that deep, hyung,” Sun Joon remonstrated. “You could have pulled yourself out.”
“No, no.” Yong Ha waved off the objections. “Frozen solid. I was too shocked with the winter trying to consume me alive to fight back. You are definitely my saviour. A much better friend in time of need than a certain horse we both know.”
“Ah, that is why I am here actually.” Sun Joon sat down, crossing his legs.
“What?” Yong Ha sat up, keeping the blankets close to his body to keep the warmth in. “What about Geol Oh?”
“I came to ask you…” Sun Joon glanced at the door as if suspecting someone lurking nearby. “How well do you know this Kim Dae Min that hyung is spending so much time with? And is it true that you are avoiding Moon Jae Shin because you think he is… a deviant?”