Chasing The Winter Moon ♥
Pairing: Moon Jae Shin / Goo Yong Ha (GeolRim 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.
Lesson One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight
Dae Min reeled, tumbling on his back when Yoon Hee’s fist connected with his face. He tasted blood and the bitter taint filled his throat, eviscerating Jae Shin’s delicate lemon taste he’s savoured for so long. Slamming into the wall, his weight shattered the frame around the mattress pad, fragments of rice paper and thin wood exploding into the air. She stood over him, shaking her hand out before clenching it again. With her knuckles scraped from hitting Dae Min’s mouth and her stolen wig perched precariously on her head, Yoon Hee reared back her fist, prepared to hit if the man attacked.
“Who … I don’t know you,” Dae Min was up on his feet before Yoon Hee could strike again, peering at her face . He dabbed at the line of blood forming at the corner of his mouth. “But when I find out who owns your contract, you little boy-bitch…”
Sun Joon would have smiled at the sight of Dae Min’s face turning white when he realized who was standing behind Yoon Hee but the coldness of his temper rose at the abuse the young scholar flung at his Yoon Hee. Calm and determined, he stepped forward, intent on ripping Dae Min’s head from his neck when Yoon Hee placed a hand on his chest.
“Grab Jae Shin.” She cast a withering glance at Dae Min. “He doesn’t look like he can walk. Who knows what this one did to him.”
Hooking Jae Shin’s arm over his shoulders, Sun Joon hoisted the half naked man up, his nostrils flaring at the sour smell on the man’s clothes. “He smells…drunk.”
“He was that way when I found him,” Dae Min grabbed one of the cloths from the tray to stave off his bleeding. “I brought him here to sober up.”
“Hyung,” Sun Joon jostled the older man, hoping to get Jae Shin to open his eyes. Speaking louder, he frowned when he got a murmuring, broken response. “Yoon Hee, we need to get him back to the school. There is something wrong with Jae Shin.”
“He is safe here.” Dae Min barreled past Yoon Hee, grabbing Jae Shin’s arm. “You’ll be risking his health if you take him out into the cold.”
“His health I’m willing to risk,” Sun Joon growled, backing the other scholar off with a show of his teeth. “His heart… that is another matter. Let go of him, hyung. Or you will not like what happens to you next.”
“He is suffering from alcohol poisoning,” Jung said, wiping at the bitter-smelling sweat on Jae Shin’s forehead. “The distillation was…bad, possibly contaminated. He’ll need to be given juices to keep him hydrated and someone should sponge him off to help with his fever. I don’t think he drank enough of it to die but it’s best if someone watches him.”
“I’ll watch him,” Three voices rose in unison and the friends looked at one another with varying degrees of emotion.
“We will take turns,” Sun Joon offered. “Someone will rest while the other cares for Jae Shin. No one will exhaust themselves that way.”
“Call me if his fever gets worse but for now, just let him sleep. He will sweat it out eventually but if he starts to get sick and empties his stomach, make sure he is turned downwards so he won’t choke. With this kind of thing, that is the greatest risk as the body tries to get rid of the poison in its system.” Jung packed up the items he brought with him and nodded towards Yoon Hee. “I would tell you that it is improper for you, a female, to be doing this but considering you spent most of the year sleeping next to him and are too stubborn to listen to reason, I will not bother.”
“For someone who didn’t bother,” Yong Ha muttered into Yoon Hee’s ear. “He sure bothered.”
“Thank you, Doctor Jung,” Sun Joon accompanied stood to accompany Jung to the door, bowing in respect before sliding the door panel closed. His fatigue set in, a bone-weary tiredness draining him dry. Removing his gat, Sun Joon set it down and looked down at the man lying unconscious in the middle of the room.
Following Yoon Hee’s being exposed as a woman, the three roommates were relocated to different quarters; Yoon Hee and Sun Joon housed in smaller single rooms with Jae Shin occupying a larger senior room between them, an unlikely chaperon set between the two more stalwart and traditional scholars. Left once again to his own devices, the rebel scholar took little care with his bedding, often shoving it aside and out of the way rather than using it to sleep on. As a result, maneuvering the mattress pad and bedding took more time than getting Jae Shin under the linens and Sun Joon’s now ached from the chore of Jae Shin situated and ready for Jung’s examination.
Hunkering down next to Jae Shin’s shoulder, he looked at the others sitting on opposite corners of the mattress pad.
Yoon Hee’s colour was up; her cheeks still pink from the cold and blood lust. Despite the difficulties in getting Jae Shin out of the tea house and back to the university, she’d soldiered on, once again amazing Sun Joon with her resilience. Yong Ha, however, was another matter.
They’d had to send word to the riverside tea house, asking Yong Ha to please return to the college. Sun Joon purposely wrote out a careful note, not wanting to alarm the older scholar but at the same time, expressing an urgency for his presence. He’d arrived after Jung did, his fox-like face curled into a false smile as he entered Jae Shin’s room.
A smile that melted into vapours when he saw the too-still form of his friend on the floor.
His questions had to wait and Sun Joon saw the difficulty Yong Ha was having with his patience. When Jung lowered the blankets to listen to Jae Shin’s chest, he saw Yong Ha recoil at the sight of the savage bite mark purpling the crook of Jae Shin’s neck. For a moment, the scholar believed Yong Ha was disgusted by the obvious sight of his friend’s sexual needs but something in the man’s expression said pain and hurt more than judgment and recrimination. Now with Jung gone, the time for Yong Ha’s questions had arrived.
“How did he get like this?” For a first question, it was a good one. An even-toned query Yong Ha almost prided himself on but the quiver in his voice gave away the depth of his emotions.
“Daemul,” Sun Joon ignored the puffing of Yoon Hee’s chest at the use of her nickname. Her ego had grown large enough over the night’s adventures. “She went looking for Jae Shin after…” He was loathe to lay blame on Yong Ha, especially when the man’s complexion was ice white with fear.
“After we fought,” Yong Ha finished. “You can say it. He and I fought.”
“You did not bring him to this,” Yoon Hee defended. “You could not have known Dae Min was lurking about.”
“Of course I should have known. He’s been lurking about for weeks now,” The older man said, his eyes flat and dull. “That doesn’t explain how he — my… our Jae Shin — ended up here. Like this.”
“Yoon Hee,” Sun Joon prompted. “Please, tell him.”
“When I went looking for Geol Oh…Dae Min got to him before me.” She wrung her hands into the folds of her robe. Guilt pressed in, a hot tight knife to her guts. “I should have… been quicker. I should have found him sooner. This is on me.”
“I should never have left him. This is on me.” Yong Ha cut her off and the room grew silent and heavy. After taking a few breaths, he motioned for Yoon Hee to continue.
“I found out where Jae Shin had gone but Dae Min had already taken him from there. It took me a while to find someone who saw which direction they went — too long, hyung — but I finally caught up with them.” The man in question moaned and Yoon Hee reached for one of the damp cloths Jung left behind and wiped the sweat from Jae Shin’s face. “I should have been faster.”
“He never should have gone there at all,” Sun Joon’s condemnation was light but the censure was enough to make Yong Ha’s back prickle with resentment. “He shouldn’t have, hyung. He should have come to one of us if he needed to speak his mind out about something. We have always been here for him. When is Moon Jae Shin going to trust us?”
You mean when is he going to trust again? Yong Ha thought bitterly. He trusted more before this… before I let him down.
“When I got to the tea house, I…” Yoon Hee shot Sun Joon a hard look. “I had to sneak in. I didn’t think they would just let me walk in but apparently they do.”
Sun Joon shrugged. “If one knows the tea house is there, then it stands to reason that one knows what its clientele…”
“One is not familiar with tea houses but one would like to know how you are,” Yoon Hee sniffed. “That is not the point. I should have tried it. At least asked.” She rinsed the cloth out, wringing it before wiping at Jae Shin’s throat. Yong Hee was tentative around the mottling, unsure if she should touch the area if it would cause Jae Shin pain. “It made for a delay. I could have helped before…”
“No one is blaming you for this, Yoon Hee.” Sun Joon touched her shoulder lightly. “No one is really to blame for this…except for the persons who made the alcohol that poisoned Jae Shin.”
“For all we know, it was something Dae Min gave him,” She responded, her voice rising. “Look at his throat! How did that happen? We don’t know what Dae Min did and when hyung wakes up, do you think he will tell us?”
“Where is Kim Dae Min now?” Yong Ha asked. His demeanor was quiet, nearly subdued compared to the forceful expressions he was known for. It was as if having Jae Shin lying nearly dead-still on the mattress sucked the life from him as well.
“I don’t know,” Yoon Hee replied. Holding up her fist for the man to see, she brandished the damage to her knuckles. “But I got a good punch in. Made him bleed.”
“Yes, she was quite fierce,” Sun Joon winced when his belly rumbled. Ducking his head in embarrassment, he pressed his stomach in. “My apologies, I didn’t eat before I followed Yoon Hee.”
“If hadn’t been there, Daemul, who would have carried Jae Shin? With two of you there, Dae Min was less likely to cause trouble.” Yong Ha staved off Yoon Hee’s adamant protests of not needing the man’s help. “The both of you should eat. I’ll stay here with Geol Oh. One of you can come by later if you’d like but for now, I think I need to… sit here with him.”
They left with a minimum of complaint, mostly Yoon Hee insisting on arranging items around Yong Ha so he would have everything within his reach. Promising to call for them if he needed someone, he sat quietly as they bickered their way out of the room, shutting the warmth in behind them.
The wind battered the building, tearing at the landscape around them. Despite its howling, the room was too silent for Yong Ha’s liking.
Jae Shin was too silent for Yong Ha’s liking.
He leaned over Jae Shin, turning his head so the man’s breath ghosted over his cheek. The soft shushing exhale warmed the cold chunk of ice encasing Yong Ha’s heart… the frosted over hardness that formed when he opened the door to Jae Shin’s room ready to fling hot, angry words in his friend’s face.
Yong Ha’s heart stopped beating in that horrifying moment and he wasn’t certain it had started up again. Or if it would once Jae Shin opened up his eyes and saw him there.
“What have I done to you, my Geol Oh?” He ran his fingers through Jae Shin’s hair, loosening the topknot at the back of his head. The silken black-brown mane fell, covering the man’s cheeks and softening his features. “You could have died tonight. That…alcohol you drank tonight could have killed you and it is my fault. I drove you to it. I drove you away as if I’d beaten you with a stick.”
The mottling on the man’s neck terrified him nearly as much as the unconscious state he’d found Jae Shin in. Yong Ha had left little bites on others, tiny scallops of tingling pleasure meant to excite even after a lover has parted but the mauling of Jae Shin’s neck made him sick down to his soul.
And the tiny teeth marks near Jae Shin’s belly broke his heart.
Shedding his head covering and outer jacket, Yong Ha stretched out besides Jae Shin, wrapping an arm around the man’s torso. He caught his breath every time he heard the man’s heart skip and his tears fell to be absorbed into the bedding tucked around his friend’s body. Tentatively, he undid the pin and hook holding his hair up and tucked himself closer, needing to feel the warmth of Jae Shin on him.
“Did you do anything with him?” Yong Ha pressed his eyes shut, unwilling to take the pain lashing out from his thoughts. “If Yoon Hee hadn’t stopped him, would you have given yourself to him? Have I been wanting you all of this time only to find out now — that you prefer men — but still you do not want me?”
With his soul scraped raw and bare, Yong Ha buried his face into Jae Shin’s chest, letting go the anguish he felt inside of him. Guttural sobs rocked his body and he gasped for air, wishing he could somehow absorb the damage done to Jae Shin. Every fibre of his being ached to hear the man laugh; even if it was at him. Anything would be preferable to the nothingness that lay beneath him.
“I’d even take you shoving me away, Geol Oh,” Yong Ha whispered. “I did this to you. I should have stayed and made you listen to me. I should have told you to stay away from Dae Min… no, I should have made you stay away from him. Because look what he has done to you, my Geol Oh. Look how much you are lost inside of yourself because I did not hold you tight against me.”
A cry he couldn’t catch escaped, the heartfelt whimpering pain oozing from his throat and Yong Ha bit down on his lip, wishing for the first time in his life to have the control he mocked Sun Joon for having. Letting his eyes overflow, he lay against the man he loved more than his own life.
“I am sorry, Geol Oh,” He whispered. “I am sorry for not…loving you like you needed me to. I shouldn’t have assumed you would always be there, waiting for me as if no one else would want you. Who could not want you? Who could look at you and not want to have you be there with them? I know better now. I’ll do better now.”
“You’re leaking on me, Yeon Kkoc.”
It was a hateful nickname, one Yong Ha wished he could bury beneath miles of dirt and rock. Growing up with it made him choke down every bit of lotus root he found in his meals; a long standing vengeance exacted through meticulous consumption. He’d cast it off when he’d entered school, swearing the one person who knew of its existence to a secrecy never to be violated for any reason, yet hearing it in Jae Shin’s rough, scraped-up voice was one of the most beautiful things he’d ever experienced.
As was the man’s hand lifting up to caress his hair.
“Don’t cry, Yong Ha,” Jae Shin slurred, barely conscious but awake enough to try to comfort the broken man laying against him. Born of habit and bred from true affection, he cuddled Yong Ha close, rocking the man gently even in his sickened state. “Sleep now and don’t worry. Whatever it is, I’ll take care of you. I will always take care of you. I am your Geol Oh. Yes?”
Relieved, Yong Ha patted Jae Shin’s chest, closing his eyes as the man’s heart beat lulled him to sleep. “Yes, you are — my Geol Oh.”
The flames could be seen from several streets away, a pillar of fire reaching up into the winter sky. After dodging several merchants scrambling to get their stalls packed up and out of the way in case it spread, Sun Joon finally came upon the immense pyre burning bright despite the wintery sleet falling over the city. Several city men stood nearby, water buckets readied for action but they held back, their nervous eyes flitting from the fire then back to the impassive face of the brilliantly clothed man standing in front of his handiwork.
“This is the bar, I take it?” Sun Joon asked, clasping his hands behind his back. Something popped inside of the falling structure, followed closely by a small boom as a jug of alcohol surrendered to the flames. The fireball it created rolled up into the smoky canopy, crackling like a demon from a fairy tale as it rose to the sky.
“Yep.” Yong Ha fanned himself, wafting away the ash specks clotting the air.
“It makes a nice fire.” He looked around, noting the number of men ready to battle the blaze. “Does the owner know you are burning his place down?”
“I am the owner,” Yong Ha said smoothly. “I was the first one I told. The new owner is very considerate in that way. Yong Ha, I said to myself, I am going to be burning down that wretched bar that sold the poisonous swill that almost took Geol Oh from you… me… whichever me that was. I was quite reasonable about it, accepting the demise of my newly purchased business with a fatalism that would have made my long-dead and gisaeng harassed grandfather proud.”
“Is the tea house next?” By Sun Joon’s reckoning, it was a valid question, especially considering the maniacal gleam in his friend’s eye.
“No, that is a business intent on pleasure,” He corrected. “It does not make its living selling toxins to my… my friends. I have no intention of razing it. It will, however, cull its membership rolls. They have a few undesirable clients — one in particular comes to mind. That will be seen too as well.”
“Ah.” He didn’t know what else to say except to stand next to Yong Ha and watch the flames. After a moment, he cocked his head and turned towards the other man. “Does Dae Min know you’ve declared war on him? And does Geol Oh know he is the prize?”
“If he — Dae Min — doesn’t know this by now, then he is stupider than I’ve thought and I’m ashamed that I even considered him even the slightest bit of competition,” Yong Ha replied, chasing away a particular large ember swirling too close to his robes for comfort. “And as for Geol Oh being the prize, he isn’t. What he is — is someone whose heart I have to win.”
“Is destroying Dae Min that necessary to you,” Sun Joon glanced up at the inferno threatening to overtake the square. The city men dashed water around the perimeter, trying to keep the flames contained. “Are you doing this for yourself? Or for Jae Shin.”
“Destroying Dae Min is something I am doing for pleasure, Garang,” He said, clasping Sun Joon on the shoulder. “Winning Geol Oh’s heart is so I can live as I’ve found that I am dead without him. And Death, my beloved Sun Joon, is the ultimate boredom. I can think of much better things to do with my time… and my newly-won Geol Oh… than be bored.”