The River Flows
yunho
xanster
The sand in the hourglass flows;
like water through a stream.
Throw a rock,
it would just go around.

---

"Go on, ask him!"
Why should it be me?
"Because he'll let you!"
But I don't want to?
"WE want to, and he won't let us for sure!"
..
"Just do it, you're the maknae!"
..

Hey hyung?
'Hm, Changminnie?'
Do you think.. uh.. we can end practice a little earlier this Friday?
'What? Why? Are you feeling alright?'
Oh yeah, yeah. I'm fine. I would really just like to.. uh.. I have to do some family stuff.
'Oh. Yeah, I'll speak to the managers tomorrow then. You sure you're alright?

Changmin looks down at the arm holding his wrist.

Yeah, I'm fine. Thanks hyung.

Friday evening
"See you back at home later. Thanks Minnie!"

Changmin sighs at the sight of the other hyungs running off to the arcade. Then he grabs his backpack and heads to a cafe just off of where SM is so he can get some work done and then go home appropriately late enough not to rouse Yunho's suspicions. He looks back at the building facade on the other side of the road and wonders what the leader is doing. They had bundled him out, pretending they were all leaving together. Yunho had just watched them leave, and then he had turned around and sat down on the floor of the studio. He would probably be practising, Changmin thinks feeling a bit guilty, and wishing he could go back inside and join him. But the other hyungs would kill him, probably make him do stupid shit again.

Changmin sighs again and takes out his textbook.

---

Changmin grits his teeth and clenches his fists, trying hard not to punch someone, or something. Because his idiotic hyung was the closest person to him, and he knew better than to punch him. Yunho is sitting sullenly next to him on the couch, hands in his arms. He is mumbling to himself, smelling yet again of alcohol and sorrow.

He feels something inside him thud.. and then throb.. and then stop.

Hyung, he beseeches.
'Won't you leave?'
Why would I?
'Because they all did!'
I'm not them!
'I wouldn't know!

Fuck you, he cries out and jumps onto Yunho, straddling the man.

Yunho leans his head back against the couch, eyes unseeing and smudged with tears.
His shirt is unbuttoned and his throat glistens with cold sweat.
Changmin pants, holding onto him as he rests himself gingerly on Yunho's lap.

Fuck you, he whispers, feeling himself start to break.
I'm not them, hyung.
'I made a promise a long time ago, and I won't break it', Yunho's voice is soft, a note of resignation in it.
I know, answers Changmin. Neither will I ever ask you to.

Yunho lifts his head to look at Changmin for the first time, as he tries to focus.
'Changminnie?'
I'm with you, all the way, states Changmin. He eyes Yunho deeply, watching. Yunho stares back, dizzy. And then something falls into place.

'I see', there is something different in Yunho's voice now.
Changmin finally allows himself to exhale. And then he leans in to close the distance between their lips.

---

'Be good'.
Changmin rolls his eyes even as he clutches his phone to his ear.
'My Changminnie, becoming a man now.' Yunho chuckles, his voice a welcome melody to Changmin's ears.
Uh, I always was, hyung.
'I know. You have always been a real man. My man.'
Changmin is glad Yunho can't see that his ears are now a tomato red.

---

Hi hyung. Happy birthday.
'Hey Changdola. Thanks. I should wish you happy birthday too since I'll be in camp when you come out for yours.'
Mm, thanks.
..
'So, about 6 more months huh?'
Yeah, and you're coming out soon. Time flies.
'.. No regrets, right?'

Changmin thinks. Of the many rocks that had been thrown in their stream of life. But somehow, they - he and Yunho - they kept flowing. Kept going on.

Never had any, hyung, he answers. You?
Yunho's tone softens.
'Nope. As long as you were there, I knew I was gonna be okay.'

Changmin holds his phone tight, wishing he could transmit all the love he had for the older man, down the wire. He feels something catch in his throat and blinks rapidly.

'Changdola? I have to go.'
Oh, okay hyung.
'But before I go, Shim Changmin? Are you listening?
Yeah?
'I love you. Happy birthday.'

---

When I hear the thunder, I run to the rain
yunho
xanster
Muse, mused.
He wrote and then in anger, grabbed the paper and tore it off.
Scrunched it up and balled it up.

Just like my heart.

A cigarette lay burning itself out, lit but unsmoked.
Whisky on the rocks,
Downed and then the empty bottle held over the glass.
Thrown away with a shatter somewhere in a corner of the studio.

Blocked, block.
Memories, all of them painful.
Too many.

The sky echoes deep with a rumble.
And a bright white light sears across the sky.
Zig-zag.

Rain comes soon.
Drops heavy like bombs.
Hammering at the window pane, wanting a way in.

Just like you tried.

He stares at the easel.
The forlorn brush with the pony tail hairs from Japan.
The watercolours, stale with disuse.

The sky lights up again and a grumble sounds.
The storm thickens.

Then he hears it.

A row of knocks, that sound different from the pattering of the rain.
His doorbell had been pounded out of existence before.

Something tells him to go.

He stirs himself and walks to the door.

Someone is there, banging on it.

He wonders if it's him again.

Tired, shattered.
Exhausted.
He opens the door, unwilling to fight anymore.

The other, drenched in the downpour.
White shirt clinging to his torso.
Like a prince off his horse.
Dark hair plastered to his face, but oh so beautiful.

I'm sorry.
Goes unsaid.
Instead,

I love you.

Heard loud and clear as his almond eyes burn the words into the other's.

And the storm passes.

---
a/n: happy valentine's day in spite of all storms and downpours.

Tense (16) Epilogue
yunho
xanster
- continues from Tense (15): Showdown -



Were you scared?
..
Yes.

Of losing you.

---

Mr Jung, this is for you. We need to discuss this before the meeting tomorrow.

His secretary runs out of his office, a bright bronze plaque behind her at the entrance announcing "JUNGNAM INCORPORATED" in bold, handing over a folder just before Yunho walks into the elevator with two of his men.

He rifles through the papers, acknowledging the forecasted figures put together for the huge announcement tomorrow and then the press conference that would follow.

He quirks a questioning eyebrow at his waiting secretary. She rolls her eyes and shoots her boss a half smile before answering:

Yes, everything is ready.

---

Heechul smirks as the man before him screams.

His legs are up on the desk in front of him and he is busy checking his newly-trimmed nails. He flicks a hand lazily and another burly man wielding a pair of pliers in front of him moves in to the figure strapped to the chair.

Another scream.

Heechul winces. He couldn't be bothered to do the coaxing himself.

So, you ready to join us? He asks, in Japanese.

The Japanese Kenta-gun soon-to-be double-agent for Jumon Syndicate nods frantically.

Yes.

---

The long, lithe man at the window stands, watching the sun set over the horizon where he guesses Mt Fuji would be. His freshly-brewed coffee sits, steaming beside him on the window sill. The room is painted with a soft pinkish glow, a quietness before the advent of night.

It has been a couple of months since he came home. To Japan.

There's movement behind him, a muttered Korean swearword and then someone steps up just behind him.

Shall we?

Changmin turns and lets his gaze sweep across the empty shell of his apartment near the Meguro River. His life in Japan had been packed up in the months he had been here, recovering and sent across the sea. His contract had been abruptly cancelled and he was free. Free. The word tasted different on his tongue. He could do anything he wanted and go anywhere he wanted. Free. From contract conditions, from debts, from the sordid world of yakuzas and clients and patrons. He was free. And there was only one more thing left to do.

He turns to Hojun, the only man Yunho would trust to be with Changmin if he could not be there personally himself. But Yunho had proper business matters to settle, Jungnam Inc. matters, and he had insisted Yunho stay behind in Seoul rather than invite unwanted speculation over his prolonged absence from the office.

Yes.

---

Siwon was on his knees in front of his parents and another distinguished-looking elder man, head bowed. He was topless with his hands braced on the floor, ready and awaiting.

You have embarrassed us, and dragged the name of Haeyun Consortium in the mud.

Siwon feels like he is about to throw up in frustration but he keeps his mouth shut.

You have consorted with the yakuza and not only do we have to resolve things with the Kenta-gun, one of the most established triads in Japan, you got in trouble with Yanghyun hyung-nim's son.

Siwon seethes silently at the reference to Yunho. As punishment for disgracing the family, he should have been killed. But his mother had pleaded for mercy and instead, he gets this. A public whipping. In front of his parents, his gang and Jung Yanghyun, Yunho's father and the head of Jumon Syndicate. It was a humiliation that would stick with him for life, not so much the physical pain. That would be easier to bear, he thinks bitterly.

We have had to conduct some extra negotiations in order to appease the Kenta-gun and then compensate them monetarily with Kei-san behind bars. The Jungs are our rivals in life and in work but we have a code, and I did not bring you up to forget that code, Siwon. For a fucking show performer, you have thrown away our dignity.

Siwon grimaces as his father rants.

=
Jung Yanghyun sits stoically beside him, his own men fanned around the room. In a show of peace, he had come unarmed. The old guard was the old guard after all, unlike the younger generation. He, too, had been appalled by the events and by the discovery of Yunho's willingness to risk it all, even his own life for Changmin. But above all, he trusted his son's judgement. On knees in front of their ancestors, Yunho had explained and then prostrated himself, begging for forgiveness. Changmin had knelt beside him, hand held tightly in Yunho's, head bowed.

You angered the Kenta-gun and I don't know how Choi Kiho will react to us having disgraced his son in this way. But you have Changmin with you and that means you've won. Won against the yakuza, and against Haeyun.


Yes.

There better not be a next time.

Yes, father.

=

Siwon grits his teeth and looks up at his father.

Let's get it over and done with.

Yes.

---

A half-drunk cup of coffee sits on the bar when Changmin walks in, Hojun following behind. He rolls his eyes, muttering about triad bosses who could strike fear in the scariest of men with just their presence but was unable to do simple things like wash up after himself. Two other men drop his luggage by the door and he thanks them with a smile. They go off into the kitchen.

He hears voices coming from the study in Yunho's penthouse apartment and heads in that direction. Heechul is just inside, apparently finishing up with giving Yunho a report of what had just taken place a few hours before in a warehouse near Noryangjin.

So our Japanese contacts are in place and we will be ready to pre-empt any possible plan of revenge by the Kenta-gun. But Yori-kun assures us that word spread rapidly and the Japanese triads are unlikely to want to seek trouble now with the Jumon Syndicate. So tomorrow, Jungman Inc will be announcing an unprecedented planned investment in Tokyo...

Yunho nods, playing with a Rubik cube listlessly. He knows Heechul would never fail him. Meanwhile he is waiting for ...

Heechul scowls at the lack of attention being given.

He turns and sees the newcomers and sighs. No wonder. Patting Changmin on the shoulder, he walks out, ushering a flustered Hojun out with him.

=

Hey.

Yunho comes around his desk, beaming. He opens his arms and Changmin walks gratefully into them, glad of a warm embrace after the flight and nearly a month without Yunho. Yunho presses a kiss to his forehead, and then his nose and then, presses his chin down to seek out his lips.

They kiss, soft and sweet. Lips meshing against each other, tongues licking lightly. Changmin raises his hands to cup Yunho's head and Yunho's own reach down his waist to press Changmin closer to him.

Hey.

I missed you, whispers Yunho.

Changmin reaches in for another kiss in answer.

Imagine my surprise when I saw how much stuff you had, laughs Yunho, alluding to the boxes and boxes of items that had come shipped from Japan from Changmin's apartment. He thinks it was fortunate that he lives in a penthouse as there was no way an ordinary Seoul apartment could fit all of that.

Changmin grins, his eyes becoming mismatched. He lays another kiss on Yunho's cheek and turns around to walk towards to the ceiling-to-floor windows that overlook the Hangang. The sun is setting here, and the same pink glow that had farewelled him in Tokyo, welcomes him here in Seoul.

Except now, he has a warm and loving presence behind him that circles his arms around his waist and holds him close, face tucked into the crook of his neck, nibbling gently at his collarbone.

Welcome back to Seoul, baby, says Yunho. Are you ready to start this chapter with me?

Changmin pauses, letting his mind go back through his years in Japan, his history with his patrons, the events of the past few months and then some. He remembers the scars and the pain and the experiences and the glamour. And then he looks ahead to the dance studio that awaits him, the choreography and stage production residency at SM Entertainment, one of South Korea's biggest entertainment companies, that was offered to him on recommendation from Super Junior's Lee Donghae (he smiles at the memory of Yunho's best friend silently listening to Yunho explain what had happened after he had come back from a world tour, face twisting first in panic, then concern and then acceptance. He remembers thanking Donghae quietly when Yunho had left to go to the bathroom, for acting on his hunch and alerting Yunho to his plight, eventually saving him. Donghae had shaken his head and then looked Changmin in the eye. No, he said, it's you. You saved Yunho from the ghost of a man he was. As his bro, I thank you. And they had hugged, to Yunho's surprised amusement.)

He turns around and looks Yunho in the eye, before leaning in again to kiss him.

Yes.

---

a/n: i'm done. this fic took me almost 3 years to write.
P.S: and that first piece of dialogue at the top, takes place in the car as they leave the hotel. Changmin was asking Yunho if he was scared.
to the one and only star in the sky, Jung Yunho: happy birthday.
to the one and only sky that can hold that star, Shim Changmin: happy birthday.

For without the star to shine, the sky would be dark and unseen; for without the sky, the star would be lost, unable to live.

Tense (15) Showdown
yunho
xanster
- continued from Tense (14) Backfire -

15th floor

Changmin let the hot water drip down.
Around his neck,
across his shoulders,
down his back.
And then the pain as it went over his ass.

He stared.
The water ran a rusty-red.
And then it was clear.

His thighs ached.
But he had not much time left.

He took a deep breath and turned off the tap, stepping out of the shower.

---
20th floor.

Kei-san popped the safety off, sneering.
Then,

"KEI-SAN!!! THE POLICE ARE HERE!"

12 pairs of eyes turned to the panicked yakuza at the hotel door, and then back to where their guns were still pointed at one another.

"Did you tip them off?!" snarled Kei-san.

"Fuck, no!" snapped Siwon.

"Kei-san, we need to get out of here! Let's go!" the man yelled in Japanese.

Kei-san cursed and turned, making for the door.

Then he stopped and in a cold voice, he spat out "This is not the end, Choi."

---

15th floor

Yunho went to him the moment he stepped out of the bathroom. He cupped Changmin's face in both his hands and tilted his face gently for a gentle kiss.

"Alright, baby?" he whispered softly.
Changmin nodded, eyes closed. He leaned into Yunho's caress, drawing strength from the other's presence.
"Do you remember what you said to me when we first met? That night?"
Images of that night, furious and wild fucking, plenty of cursing and oh, so much fucking, flooded through Changmin's head.
"When all you cared about was getting in my pants?"
"Well, that. But what you said." Yunho chuckled as he leaned forward again for another kiss.
"That I would win whatever game you were trying to play at?"
A slight smile appeared at the corner of Yunho's smile.
"I need that Changmin back tonight."

---

18th floor

Gunshots rung out.

A man crumbled against the hotel corridor as frightened hotel customers trembled in the corners of their rooms, afraid of the ruckus that was taking place outside.

Kei-san and his men bundled into an elevator, jabbing at the button to quickly shut the doors. As the doors slid together, Siwon came running into view.

"FUCK!!!!"
He turned to one of his men.
"Where's the police?"
"5 minutes away, sir."
"My car?"
"Basement."

---

Yunho pressed another soft kiss against Changmin's temple and Changmin exhaled, feeling a bit lighter. He looked around and noticed Hojun and Heechul were missing.

"Where are the rest?"
"Hojun's outside the room, waiting for us."

A frantic row of knocks sounded as soon as Yunho finished speaking.
"I guess it's showtime." He reached out a hand.

Changmin looked into Yunho's eyes, his sparkling determined eyes, the eyes he could get lost in. And he took the hand.

---

Basement

Heechul snuck up behind the nearest suit-clad man standing just inside of the emergency escape and slammed his head hard against the wall. With a sickening crack, the man collapsed. Heechul dragged the body into the stairwell and closed it behind him. He could see a few other men scattered around the entrance to the carpark but one just beside Siwon's Rolls Royce, waiting. They seemed tense. Time was running out.

He crouched down and ran along the side of the carpark until he reached the other end. The carpark was pretty full so thank goodness for that. He reached down to pull out his pocket dagger. He was quite fond of the knife, having gotten it on a side trip to Taiwan on assignment but ah well, he would make Yunho get him another.

He could see Siwon's guard look up towards the entrance, waiting for the cue to pick up his boss. Heechul checked his surroundings one last time - clear. Then he aimed and threw his dagger.

---

Lobby

DING!

The elevator reached the lobby and opened.

There was a murmur near the hotel entrance as police cars pulled up. Some of the police officers went off to question a group of men surrounding an Audi R8 at the side and the rest were inside, spread out. The police captain was talking to a harassed-looking hotel manager and his assistant.

Kei-san cursed and motioned for his men to walk as unobtrusively as possible to the nearest door. The police captain looked up as they walked past and then hesitated before raising his hand and calling out, "Excuse me!"

Kei-san took one look at his men and then turned around, bowing low and smiling through his teeth.
"Yes?"

Behind him, another elevator dinged and Yunho and Changmin, followed by Hojun and three other men came out. Yunho's arm was draped around Changmin's waist and Changmin had his hand on Yunho's shoulder, whispering into his ear. Both were smiling and had eyes only for each other. Then Changmin leaned over and laid a kiss on Yunho's cheek.

Yunho spotted Kei-san and his expression seemed to flicker a bit before it returned to the look of a surprised man bumping into an acquaintance.

"Why, Officer Shin. What a surprise to see you at my hotel. How may I help you?" His hold on Changmin tightened as they neared the group and Changmin was relieved to see Hojun press nearer to him on his other side.

Kei-san couldn't help a sneer and it did not go unnoticed by Officer Shin.

"We received news of gang activity taking place here, President Jung." replied Officer Shin.
"Gang activity? Oh dear. Manager Yoo, do you know anything about this?"
"Well... apart from what happened a few hours ago.."
"What happened a few hours ago?" asked Officer Shin.
"Chairman Choi Siwon and quite a number of Japanese men were here.."
"Japanese men? Like this man over here?" Officer Shin gestured to Kei-san who was looking increasingly uncomfortable.
"Officer Shin, as you are aware. This is my hotel and I abhor gang activity taking place in what I believe should be a safe and comfortable environment for my customers and staff..."
"THAT MAN..." interrupted Kei-san in Korean, "HAPPENS TO BE IN A GANG. He is MARKED." He pointed angrily to Changmin.

All eyes swivelled over to Changmin and as Officer Shin opened his mouth to address him, Yunho cut in.
"Officer Shin, and you, sir," - tilting his head towards Kei-san - "would be interested to know, this happens to be a very special friend of mine." He clutched Changmin tighter to himself in a public show of possession and let his hand slip lower on Changmin's hip. "I would be very careful with your words."

Yunho turned his head towards Changmin and turned his face towards him, sliding his mouth over the other man's. Changmin closed his eyes and parted his lips, allowing Yunho to slip his tongue in and thoroughly kiss him. Then Changmin bared his neck and Yunho bent down, kissing down his throat and biting softly. With that show done, Changmin turned into Yunho in a half-embrace with one hand on Yunho's chest and the other around his neck. Then with Yunho's hand firmly on his ass, he turned around and looked towards the rest of the group, the rest of their public display over.


Officer Shin gulped, getting the message. He cleared his throat loudly and turned towards Kei-san.
"Please show your identification."

A hotel bellboy ran over and whispered something in Manager Yoo's ear.
"What is it, Manager Yoo?" asked Yunho.
"Our security says some men are in the basement and there's a dead body."
"What men?"
"Chairman Choi Siwon's men, sir."

Yunho turned to Hojun.
"Stay here with Manager Yoo and assist the police. I will take Changmin home and come back."
Hojun nodded.

"Officer Shin, I trust your questions have been answered."
Officer Shin nodded, signalling to some officers and gesturing for them to head down to the basement with the hotel security.

"Make sure these Japanese men here get escorted to the station. I want Choi Siwon and him interrogated!"

It was only until Yunho got into the backseat of his Audi R8 with Changmin pulled tightly against him that he let out a sigh of relief and felt he could breathe again.

---
- continues to Tense (16): Epilogue -

Hollowed Be Thy Words
yunho
xanster
Run, little one.

The woods won't fare you well.




He panted as he tried to catch his breath, spiny thorns catching at his clothing. He stumbled over a root and fell.



Come and catch me, little one.

Catch me if you dare.




The crunch of the dead leaves beneath his feet and the dry hooting of the owls were the only sounds, besides his ragged breathing.

The moon hung low in the sky, its paleness a deathly white against the deep black of nothingness.



Then he heard it.

A whirl of wind; the flap of wings.



I smell you, the blood within your veins.

The life beating.




Adrenaline pumping, he looked up just as a huge shadow and the outline of a big.. bird-like creature swooped overhead.



Yunho!



He scrambled to his feet and started running again.



Don't follow me, I beg of you.

Please.

Don't.

Promise me, Changmin. Promise me, you won't follow.




He stumbled out into a clearing.

A pool of crisp, silent water.

And on the other side, it stood. No, he stood.



Yunho!

He fell to his knees, tears brimming over, arms outstretched.



The creature stood with its back towards him.

A dark figure, its wings enclasped over its body.

Perhaps it was once human. Regardless. It didn't matter anymore.



The water tingled.

He tasted the saltiness on his cheeks.



Yunho...

Don't leave me.




In our next life, I promise I will never let you go.

But now, be strong and live, live for me.




As though in a dream, the creature turned and for a moment, time stopped.

Their eyes met.



Its face was still his.

Though now marked with slashes that crisscrossed over his features.

But instead of disfiguring, it merely deepened his beauty.

What remained of him.



The mark of death and foreboding draped in black.

The creature had its claws in fists, as though it was fighting something deep inside.

Intricate scars intertwined themselves all over its bare skin.



Testament to its formation out of the human it had been before.

Chains locked themselves on its ankles and loosely around its wrists.



Pain and regret.

It emitted nothing but the air around it was thick with overwhelming grief.



Take me, and not him.

I'll give you everything in exchange.




Yunho!

Wounded and dying. Choking on his own blood.

He had shaken his head feebly, objecting.

Then the horror and the whirlwind that happened.

The slash of the dagger plunged deep in self-sacrifice.



I love you so much, Changmin.

Breathe, baby.




A kiss, the tenderness amongst the haze of pain, pressed softly onto his cold lips.



A soul for a soul.

An exchange in love for love.



He ached, the heart he carried with him, throbbing for the reunion.



I lied. The Arauco can never own all of me.



And he had woken up, bloodied but healed.

Healed but alone.

On the battlefield.

Alive but dead.



Yunho!

He cried, tears falling without cessation.



The creature cocked its head as the moment passed and the wind blew again.

One could have sworn a flicker of dark brown had passed its dark eyes.



And then it was gone.





Every year, on the 8th Moon of the 2nd Crescent of the Lunar Orbit,

On Samhain, he would go.

To the deep forest where ne'er a being should ever.



A constant nightmare re-lived, but worth it,

for when amidst the darkness of the black, when dark brown eyes met his hazel own,



For in that flicker of humanity, it was Yunho looking back at him.


image credit: http://amaraofsilverlight.deviantart.com/art/Fallen-Angel-Yunho-253155186
---
a/n: Arauco - Elvish for the Devil.
Samhain - the ancient predecessor to Halloween, a Druidic fire festival celebrated by the Celts.

Lost & Found
yunho
xanster
Bars are where the lost go to be found.
Where liquid courage and chemical love bind them up in webs of comfort; most of the time spun into threads of temporary lies and happiness before breaking into pieces of ache and regret the morning after.

Yunho supplies those bits of release; sipped in glasses tall and short; sometimes lined with sugar, sometimes with salt. He comes in night after night, nimble fingers plying his craft like a pianist at his keys. Mixing and stirring and shaking and pouring. And in return, he gets stories and broken dreams and wads of cash that he halves in two. One for the common tip pool and one for him.

Changmin comes in every Friday and Saturday. A routine like clockwork, at about ten. He orders a glass of house pour red, a Santa Lucia 2009 or maybe a 6 if they had run out. Then he sits by himself at the corner of the bar, nursing his glass and swirling his wine. Acidity, dryness and twinge of notes. The sun on the vine and the slight twinge of crisp.

At about 11, his glass is refilled along with his plate of nuts and diced fruit. Sometimes other customers spy the extra and wonder why their own plates of nuts don't have the red of cherries or bits of apple. But Yunho merely smiles and winks and 9/10 times, the customer forgets to ask again. 1 out of 10 though, the customer gets the hint and most of the time, with a disappointed glance or the frown of disgust, back away and leave the dashing bartender and his brooding customer alone.

Nary a word is said but Yunho relishes the company all the same. His fingers always linger and brush against Changmin's when he exchanges the wine glasses or passes along a plate. The other's silence is still but the flush of pink along his cheeks and up to his ears belie his reciprocrity.

A year ago, Changmin had come. A young and fresh graduate out of business school. Hopes and dreams and shining, he had come to the bar to celebrate the start of his first job. He had bought a vodka orange and then a lemon drop, followed by bright, spritzy drinks that made his head spin and his words stutter. Yunho had been mesmerised. Like a puppet master in a theatre, he played Changmin's story out of him~ the whisky helped Yunho know that Changmin wanted to start his own business; the tequila shot revealed he was not interested in women; and the long island tea disclosed he lived alone and would very much want to shag Yunho. Yunho had broken a rule that night, lust and something deeper twirling in his gut, the start of a connection arisen from mismatched eyes and a toothy smile.

Long legs that looked beautiful wrapped around his waist, a muscular back up against a wall. Lips of sin and tongue of fire. It was a certainly a night to remember, and many weekends since.

But time was a hard master. Changmin's idealism got tampered by failure; Yunho prepared gin which comforted his pain; medicated him with smoked whiskies that licked up his wounds. His glowing aura became a faintly-shining one and Changmin became quieter. His hand held on to Yunho's tighter; his head tucked itself in the crook of Yunho's neck deeper; his sighs got drowned out in kisses that became softer. Time was tough but it also changed the course of their journey together.

At 2am, the bar closes. Yunho cleans his area and goes around to pick up his favourite customer. Changmin is dozing lightly against the wall. Long lashes fluttering against his eyes, breaths even and quiet. Yunho feels his heart skip a beat again; even after all of this time. He bends over and drops a kiss against Changmin's forehead; his nose and then his cheek. He gathers him close and whispers his first words to Changmin that night:

Let's go home, baby.

Changmin stirs, half-ruffled with sleep. He stretches and leans his forehead against the other's. Yunho reaches in and captures Changmin's lips in a well-practised move, hands up to hold his face as close as he can. Changmin moans and parts his mouth, tasting and sucking. He feels complete; maybe tired out by life but he's fine. He will be fine.

Yunho knows this; he's everything Changmin needs.

Tense (14) Backfire
yunho
xanster


-continues from Tense (13) Showtime -

Heechul cursed silently under his breath as he crouched down low against the wall. He never did like getting his hands dirty; yes, he could point a gun and shoot just as well as any of them but it didn't mean he liked it. He found that most of the strongest-looking of people flailed when a gun's mouth was pointed at their most important areas after all.

He peeked around the side of the wall, where the hotel's entrance was. If Yunho was smart, they would escape through the front - risky but less likelihood of fire. Choi might be an idiot but he was not one to start a gang war in public. He flicked the safety off and waited.

Fuck you, Hojun. 5 minutes and I'm going in.

---

"All clear." muttered Hojun as he looked over the railing, glancing quickly downwards and then above. Yunho was behind him, still carrying a dazed Changmin. He groaned.

"Yunho..? Are you alright?" whispered Changmin as he looked worriedly at the older man. Yunho coughed again and then answered, "I guess I'm still a bit winded. The bullet didn't hit me but it was too close a distance."

"Let me down, I'll run." Changmin said, moving to get off.
"No, you're in pain." objected Yunho, tightening his grasp.
"It's nothing I can't handle. I'll worry about it when we get out of here." Changmin hopped off gingerly and leaned against the wall, feeling the ache severely in between his legs. He thought briefly of having to undress and then.. face the extent of the damage of whatever was there. That amount of pain. He could feel himself quaver.

Strong arms enveloped him again.
"Hey, I've got you."

Changmin looked back into Yunho's warm eyes, eyes that were alit with fight.
He came back for me.
He attempted a smile and answered, "Let's go."

---

"Fuck these Korean bastards. No sense of principles at all!" cursed Kei-san as he rubbed the back of his head.
"Kei-san we have to tread carefully. This isn't Japa.."
"Yes, I know that, Ryu-san." spat out Kei-san as he kicked the nearest chair into a corner of the room. "First that two-faced Choi dared to mark my Changmin, and now my Changmin's gone off with Jung fucking Yunho of all people. How the fuck did he get involved with the two biggest mafia heads in Korea?!"
"And one more thing..."
"What?!"
"There's another problem with Choi."

---

Siwon closed his eyes and counted to 3 slowly. His regular masseuse had told him he needed to learn how to relax even in emergency situations. Well, she had mentioned something like that - he could not really remember, after all she had mentioned it when he was busy fucking her during one of their sessions. But her words had stuck.

"Where the hell is Shim and Jung now?" he asked, voice shaking with the effort of keeping it even.
"We're not sure, Mr Choi. Our men were led to another location so it was just the couple of us here and no one keeping track of the surroundings. We only realised the trap when we got there."
"1...2..." counted Siwon again.
He growled and jabbed the mouth of his revolver into the temple of the squeaking man that was on his knees in front of him.
"Mr Choi?" came another voice from behind him.
"Kei-san is looking for you."

---
39th floor
"Take the stairs!"
"Down! They are there"

25th floor
"Goddamnit! They are here!"
Pressed against the wall, the three held their breaths as gunfire sounded from above their heads, the sound echoing off the stairwell's walls.
"Hojun, stat rep now."
"Heechul's outside waiting for us."
"Our men?"
"Surrounding the building. We're holding off on any confrontation until you're out."
"Let's try to avoid that. There are members of public here, and I don't plan on Jungnam Inc. getting implicated."
"What do we do now?"
"Get out of here before the police comes."

Changmin was staring wide-eyed at Yunho and Hojun as they spoke but at Yunho's final word, they both turned to him and in unison,
"Police?!!"
Yunho looked at the both of them and winked.
"You didn't think I came here without a plan of my own, did you?"
He leaned in and tugged Changmin's chin up towards him,
"We'll talk about this mark of yours later."

Changmin exhaled.
Fuck.

---

"Yunho's got the coppers coming." muttered Hojun into the receiver.
"What the hell? Is he crazy?" Heechul burst out before he remembered where he was and clamped a hand over his mouth.
"He says he has a plan."
"Fuck. And our men have to be out of here before they arrive, how. the. fuck. will. we. do. that?"

In the distance, police sirens sounded.

"Just get the fuck out of there now, Son. All of you!"

---

15th floor.
"Here."
The sound of gunfire from the floors above had stopped but they were not about to question why.
"Yunho, I don't know if you have noticed but we're still not at ground level yet." said Hojun.
"Just follow me."

They slid the door open after Yunho made sure the coast was clear and sneaked out. He led them down the carpeted corridor. This floor was the hotel's club floor; Changmin could hear the sound of television from an occupied room as they hurried down the hallway. He hoped this would end well and quickly.

1522.
Yunho took out a card and let them in.
"Baby, you need to go and shower and dress up."
"What?"
"Trust me. As of now, we're a couple now, and we've just checked in."
"What's going on?" asked Hojun.

Yunho sighed and turned to his right-hand man.
"When I found out that Kei-san was in Seoul, I had my contacts do some research. He was staying at the Peninsula, which is where -" Yunho paused to indicate Changmin with a flick of his head "-Changmin has a room. But he would definitely not seek him out there so the second most obvious location would be this hotel. It's part-owned by a Kenta-gun affiliate," Yunho finally let himself smirk "and part-owned by Jungnam Inc. I found this out by chance when a source informed me that some Japanese yakuza had checked in here."

"As expected, the penthouse was booked by a Ryuka Tamoroshi. Japanese connection. I got a booking here on the club floor and set about preparing the next part of my plan. I was going to try and keep Jumon Syndicate and Jungnam Inc. out of this as much as possible. I'm not interested in a cross-country turf war. So I called in a favour. As you know, we have operated quite peacefully all these years despite the nature of our activities. This did not come cheap but it's paid off. We have some men in the police force and I hinted that gang activities were taking place here."

"Heechul had a plan too. He slipped Choi's men information about a different location and they went there instead. We were supposed to come here, get Shim and leave. We didn't know about any police!"

"Calm down, it's not a crime to be at a place. This is within Jumon Syndicate's turf. The police is aware of that unofficially. Plus I'm here with my lover, fucking. Naturally, my men will be outside."

Changmin was speechless as he listened to Yunho. It was a risky plan but was brilliant. Yunho's alibi for being here was iron-clad. Jungnam Inc. owned half the hotel, and he was here with Yunho. Even if the police suspected anything, their hands were clean.

Yunho got up and went over to Changmin, holding him in a loose embrace.

"I know you're hurting, my love. But I'm going to have to ask you to be strong for me, and just do your best one more time. Then after this, we'll take care of you and we can talk about what happened."

"Yunho.. I'm sorry." Changmin's eyes welled up again, misery on his face as he recalled the hurt on Yunho's face when Choi's gang mark was revealed.
"I had no choice, I didn't know if Heechul would come in time, I didn't know if you would come. I knew if Kei-san saw this, there was a chance he would turn on Siwon and that would buy me more time."

Yunho chuckled, then he leaned over to press kisses along the side of Changmin's face.
"You did well, my love. Nothing enrages an old gang boss more than seeing a young pipsqueak mark his women.. or in this case, his man."

"Now, I need you to shower so we can look like a couple who are going for a date before coming back to fuck."

---

20th floor.

The door flew open and the men rushed in, having come down from the upper floor when they realised it was empty.
"Kei-san is coming!" reported one of them.

Siwon turned around and faced the door. His men gathered behind him, guns pointed, ready for a fight.

The man appeared soon after, flanked by his own guards.

He took one look at the manpower in the room and shook his head. "Siwon-san. I'm surprised you still dare to act like you did nothing wrong."
"I don't know what you mean."
"All that gun display. When I should be the one pointing this at you!" Kei-san scowled, lifting up a gun of his own and pointing at Siwon.

Immediately, six men on each side lifted their own weapons, all aimed at the other side.
The tension grew.

"I don't know what the fuck you're talking about." repeated Siwon.
"Fucking Changmin, I can live with. It's what men like us do. Fine. I hope you fucked him well and good. But to mark him, when he is still mine. It is technically theft and you owe me both an apology and compensation."
"What the.. I didn't mark him!"
Kei-san chortled, the sound of his laughter ringing around the room.

"I saw it with my own eyes, Siwon-san And it is enough to tell me that as of now, clearly rules are meant to be broken."
---

-continues to Tense (15) Showdown -

Afterwards
yunho
xanster
standing at the edge and looking down into eternity.

their fingers interlaced and tight.



if you jump, i'll jump.

an eye-roll; a bit of humour in an almost unfathomable situation.

she let him drown, you know?

did you ever stop to think that maybe, it was him that made the decision for her?


a tear falls.

i don't feel like living.



it's only for awhile more.

it's been too long.



it shouldn't end this way.


then let me come to you.



i can't.


i miss you too much.



please stay.


i did.



he looks up into the sky, mountain mist hanging thick.



please let me decide.



okay.



the presence beside him disappears and reappears before him, standing on a cloud of nothingness.

his hand is outstretched.

below, the mountain sweeps down into a valley of darkness and never-ending shadows.



i've got you.

he takes the hand and steps off the edge.

You Are My Life
yunho
xanster
the nurse pulled on the gloves for him hurriedly as he finished scrubbing in.

tick tock.

the flurry in the operating theatre grew as one group of nurses checked the vitals of the patient lying prone.

the 24 years of his life summed up in the faint green blips on the monitor next to him.

beep. beep.

"Doc, he's under. 12 hours starts now."

he nodded as stood by waiting, reviewing the stats one more time.

then the doors crashed open and another group of nurses came rushing in, pulling another trolley behind them.

tick tock.

he looked down at his new patient, distinct handsome features which was half concealed by the oxygen mask that covered half of his face.

there's no turning back, he had said.

i don't want to, the other had replied.


he patted the shoulder of the man as he checked the drip that would pull him into a deep sleep.

"All ready, Yunho?" his voice was soft, comforting.

"Yes."

"I just want you to know.. it's a very brave thing you're doing."

The man nodded, attempting a small smile.

"Okay, count backwards from 10 to 1."

---

10.

Big doe eyes.

9.

Favourite bookshop.

8.

Too many unneeded books bought.

7.

Dates.

6.

Love.

5.

Sickness.

4.

Failing organ.

3.

Too far down on the transplant list.

2.

98% match.

1.

---

Changmin wakes up, eyes bleary.

Beep. Beep.

He's in hospital, a slight ache in his side.

His mother notices and rushes over, clutching his hand, tears of joy falling.

"Oh, you're awake! Thank goodness, oh. Changmin. It was a success."

A success?

---

He pulls on his drip stand as he wheels himself gingerly to the window of the recovery room.

A mask on his face, for his immunity is still low, body adapting to the new organ in him.

He can't enter the room either.

His eyes well up at the sight of the sedated figure on the bed in front of him.

"You silly, silly man. Such an idiot."

---

Yunho groans as he is socked in the side in a playful tussle for the last cookie.

"Baby!" he whines, falling to the ground in mock agony. "It hurts!"

Changmin stares for a second and then rushes to Yunho's side.

"Shit, I'm sorry, are you ok.."

He's pulled into a kiss, rest of his words muffled against soft lips.

"Yunho! You fucking scared me..I thought I hurt you, the side where... " growls Changmin, pushing the older man away half in relief and half in anger.

"I'm okay, baby," soothes Yunho, as he grabs his boyfriend in a tight hug.

"I thought I hurt you.." repeats Changmin, eyes downcast.

"You didn't, I'm sorry. It was a stupid joke." apologises Yunho, kissing below Changmin's ear.

---

"I'll never forgive you for doing that, you know? You could have died." whispers Changmin against the window, tears falling as the memory of his mother telling him what Yunho had decided to do the morning of the day before, when doctors had given Changmin a 20-hour window to get a transplant -or die-.

---

"I'll never forgive myself if I could save Changmin and I didn't." whispers Yunho, his voice loud in the silent doctor's office.

---

"I owe you for life." promises Changmin as he holds onto Yunho, overcome with emotion at finally being able to touch the other as he sat up in his hospital bed.

"Like you literally owe me for your life." jokes Yunho in return.

They stare at each other for seconds, words unspoken, tension in the air.

"I love you." they both say, at the same time.

--

No regrets, even if I die, thinks Yunho as he succumbs to sleep, eyes closing against the glare of the operating theatre's lamps, a mismatched pair of eyes and a bright smile accompanying his dreams.

You are my pain and my pleasure
yunho
xanster


Warnings: graphic descriptions of Bondage, Discipline, Sadism & Masochism play.

the scars on his back are still visible although time has faded them, blurring the edges just as time has healed the pain of those memories.

he is breathing quietly, naked and on his knees in the middle of the room, their 'den' they call it, hidden behind an ordinary-looking wooden door in the penthouse apartment. By day, it is locked. Just a door in the study. But when the mood arises, the door stands open. An invitation into a deeply private and safe space.

Implements of all sizes and shapes line the dark-leathered walls. Whips and riding crops; metal chains; knives. The lone ebony bedside table is a treasure chest of sex toys. Dildos. Butt plugs. Vibrators. Mouth gags. Wet wipes and lubrication accompany them.

The ceiling is high, higher than the rest of the apartment. The room had been specially-built to meet exact requirements. There is no window; temperature is centrally-controlled. The floor is wooden. In the middle is a king-sized bed covered in dark red sheets as befitting the purpose of the room. Along the sides are props; some affixed to the wall; some standalone. A sex swing; a set of beams to tie a person to. To the inexperienced eye, it would be a torture chamber, equally at home with the kind used to get spies to breathe out their secrets. But to the naked man with the sheen of sweat and the increasing heart-beat, on his knees in the middle of the chamber, it is something he is very used to.

His arms are tied together with a silk sash. His wavy bangs fall into his eyes and he shakes them out, waiting. His breath hitches as he feels the presence of another enter. It's him. He is standing behind him now. The one he is subservient to; his master. A mixture of adrenaline and uncertainty interlace and shoot through his veins.

he is hard and getting harder. even if he fought it with all his might, this is something his body has become attuned to. desire and annoyance at his body's betrayal just at the simple feel of the other person fight with the deeper feelings that unfurl from within. because of him.

"you are so quiet, so good." the other speaks, approvingly. a voice behind him, that promises hell and heaven both at the same time.

he is quiet, he cannot speak unless allowed; he had tried before and had been punished promptly. something he did not care to repeat.

then the other, his Master, kneels behind him and kisses the back of his neck, then the top of his shoulder and then the biggest scar that remains, lashed across his shoulders and down in a diagonal line.

the deep feelings inside, increase even more in a whirlwind. he feels emotion threaten to bubble out from his dark-lidded eyes that stare obstinately at the floor in front of him. he always does this before any of their sessions, intentionally and insistently breaking form as expected of a dom. he feels both comforted and weakened by the intimate gesture and then anger spikes through, as it always does. he bristles, the tensing of his posture, a signal to the other that he must do his part; play his role.

the other smirks and then he feels the leather fray of a riding crop caress his back.

"Count."
The crop leaves and then
"One" he gasps out as the initial strike surprises him as it always does. The sting setting his skin on fire.
"Two."
He feels his skin burn.
"Three."
It continues until they reach 10.

The voice is near his right ear again, praising him as he pants.
"So good, baby. So obedient."
There is a pause as the other checks his reddened back to make sure no skin was broken. And then another kiss on his nape, signalling the end of the lashing. He inhales again, fighting the whirl of emotions that erupt everytime the other touches him like that even during play. There is a time and place for everything.

"Get on the bed and lie down, baby."
He gets up gingerly, legs slightly asleep. His cock is still as hard as ever, red and pulsating. He turns around and lies down, studiously trying to avoid looking at his Master and staring up at the ceiling.

something round is slipped on his cock; a cock-ring. then his legs are spread and bent at the knee so they are wide open in an obscene W.

"So gorgeous."
He then feels the press of a lubricated vibrator against his entrance and he tries to stifle a moan. No sound is allowed yet. His Master is on between his legs, one hand pushing in the vibrator and another, brushing fingers gently up and down the soft triangle of skin behind his balls. He feels like he could cry from the exquiste torture he was being put through. And then his Master puts his mouth on him and sucks down his length and in spite of the cock ring, he feels like he could burst and come.

He moans again, hands pulling at the silk bind. The rush of sensations drowning him from inside. His Master bites the inside of his thigh as a warning and he quietens, tears welling up in his eyes.

Then the vibrator leaves and in its place is something harder and rougher, his Master's full and heavy cock. He pushes in and waits and then he thrusts in. Slamming himself against the prone man, using his body for his pleasure. His neglected cock weeps pre-cum, begging for release.

Then his Master lets go and a warmth fills him up from inside. Still joined, he feels the cock ring being pulled off, and the thrusting continues. He squirms and arches his back, his nipples hard and dusky. His Master grabs one in his mouth and pinches the other, and he almost howls there and then.

"Free". The codeword, the permission for him to scream and come, do whatever he wanted. He screams and screams and comes so hard, his body jerks and he momentarily blacks out. His cum squirts out long and far. He almost can't breathe amidst the tears that fall from his delayed orgasm.

When he comes to, he finds himself cleaned up and tucked beneath the sheets, cradled against the warm chest of his Master.

He turns around, hands free from their bind and pecks him on the lips.
"That was amazing, Yunho." He whispers.

His Master is watching him fondly but with a tinge of something sad behind his gaze. He recognises it immediately and puts his arms around the other's neck, pulling him into a tight embrace.

"No, stop it Yun-ah. I'm okay, I'm not hurt. I loved it." He reassures, peppering the older man's face with small kisses.

They have had this conversation a few times when they first started. Yunho who was forever afraid that he would unintentionally hurt him. But it wasn't Yunho that did, it was someone else. A long time ago.

"Loved it or.." The other man's voice is quiet, unsure. He sighs, knowing that he is to blame for Yunho's insecurity. A fear that he had become so conditioned to being hurt during sex that he could only fuck that way; that he could only love someone who hurt him.

"You. I loved it because it was you." He promises, sincerely. He would repeat this everyday if he had to. It was Yunho that healed him, that took a chance on the battered and broken person that he was and loved him despite it all. He had regained his confidence because of Yunho; until the point he was confident enough to try BDSM again.

When they had met, it was at the rich men's sex club that he and his ex had frequented. The man who had introduced him to BDSM; the man who had awakened in him the appeal of pain and pleasure and then, cruelly used it to satisfy just his own selfish needs, eventually hurting him physically and emotionally. The scars on his back were a reminder of that dark period. But there had been a man, a handsome man with kind eyes and an aura that drew him in. That man had watched him when they first met; had noticed when his eyes became sad and jaded; had seen the bruises and then, had made the first confrontation and then thrown the first punch at his ex.

Abuse wasn't tolerated at the club and his ex was disgraced and banned. That man too, was powerful enough to ensure that you didn't mess with him or anything that belonged to him. And now that included, him. That man was his new lover, new Master and yet, in all his entirety, that man was always his Yunho.

"Anytime I don't want to, I can stop you. You know that. I love you, Yunho. I trust you with every bit of my being."

Yunho just holds him tighter, smiling for the first time. He enjoys their sessions but he will always be worried of hurting his younger lover, especially after everything they had gone through.

"And you're still such a sap," the younger laughs, eyes twinkling. "Kissing my scars during play isn't how a dom should behave."

"That's because I'm not just any dom. I'm your dom. And I love you very much, Changmin." Yunho replies, leaning in for a kiss.

Changmin closes his eyes, smiling against Yunho's lips before parting his own and leaning up to deepen the kiss.

"I know", he breathes out, feeling the safest and the most loved he has ever felt.

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