The Sky Between Us, and The World Ahead [Chapter 4B/?]
Authors: dreaminginside and seeeno
Rating: NC-17 overall
Genre: Adventure, Romance, Drama
Characters: Henry, Ryeowook, Sungmin, Yesung
Summary: Home is behind, the world ahead, there are many paths to tread, through shadow to the edge of night, 'till the stars are all alight.
Glossary | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4A | Chapter 4B | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6A | Chapter 6B | Chapter 7A | Chapter 7B | Interlude | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9A | Chapter 9B | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13 | Chapter 14 | Chapter 15 | Chapter 16 | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Epilogue
Jongwoon shifts nervously on his feet as they hurry their way to the gate into town, eyeing the barricade with slight anxiety and pondering all the ways that this plan of Sungmin’s could go wrong. He tightens his arm warningly around Ryeowook’s waist when he hears low grumbles about masculinity, and hushes him right before they reach the guards, putting on an expression of worry and concern, matching that of Sungmin and Henry’s.
“Halt!” The first guard booms, coming up to them and looking suspiciously, perusing over each of their faces and pausing on Ryeowook’s, shrouded by his hood. “What is your business here?”
Henry looks frantic, and widens his eyes with worry and anxiety as he speaks to the guard, a tone of urgency entering his voice.
“Please let us go in, Sir,” He pleads, gesturing to Ryeowook and making himself look as pathetic as possible, rain already done half the battle, hair plastered to his face and clothes soaked to the bone. “My sister, Ryeona, has fallen ill in the rain, you must let us through so that we may seek shelter!”
The guard looks skeptical as Henry speaks with him, lowering his head to peek under Ryeowook’s hooded face, seeing only the tendrils of his red hair curling behind his ears. He has to repress a snarl at ‘Ryeona’ but figures it could be worse and simply stands looking frail, leaning into Jongwoon’s side pitifully. The guard looks about ready to demand for more when Ryeowook sags into Jongwoon’s arms, giving a dainty sigh of faked pain.
Jongwoon gathers him into his arms and puts on the best face of worried anger he can manage, almost a little worried at how light Ryeowook is in his arms in the first place, and hoping that they will be able to get away with this much.
“Sir, you need to let us in,” He says harshly, but with enough desperation that it doesn’t sound like he’s really ordering the guard to do anything, cradling Ryeowook further against his chest to hide his face. “My wife’s condition only worsens the longer we stand here, I fear her fever may be getting higher even now.”
He leans down on the guise of testing the temperature of Ryeowook’s forehead, brushing his lips over it gently before looking back up to the guard, ignoring the strange feeling it ignites in his chest, seeing the man nod for them to be given entrance, and directions to the town pharmacist, even though Jongwoon really has no idea what that means.
Ryeowook shivers when Jongwoon’s lips touch his skin, gentle and warm and contrasting to the cool that had settled there from the rain, and he tell’s himself that it’s merely the contrasting temperatures, but something inside him warms as Jongwoon barely kisses his forehead, and he simply lets his head lull into the other man’s chest, perhaps a bit more than he should, blush fierce across his cheeks. That wasn’t exactly part of the plan.
The guard doesn't need telling twice, buying their story, hook line and sinker. Jongwoon slips an arm beneath Ryeowook's knees, the younger man letting himself go limp as Jongwoon scoops him off his feet. His head rolls inward toward Jongwoon's chest, shielding his face from the view of the guard as they hurry past him, Henry and Sungmin not letting down their worried facades until the guard is far behind him.
As soon as they're well out of sight, Ryeowook all but squirms out of Jongwoon's arms, flushing furiously and muttering about how he's a man, damn it... being carried like a bride on her wedding day... Jongwoon is oddly quiet, even ignoring Sungmin, who is waggling his eyebrows suggestively at him.
"Don't look so glum, Wook!" Henry pipes cheerfully. "Sungmin's plan worked! We got you in safely and you make a very beautiful woman. It's a win-win situation!"
Ryeowook splutters and huffs. "Shut it, you. Let's just get out of this rain. If I remember correctly, the house we're looking for is right on the water's edge..." He pulls out the compass, gives it a quick tap, and then beckons them to follow. "Come on."
Henry pokes and teases Ryeowook as they go along, ducking through alleyways and generally staying off of the main roads. Sungmin teases Jongwoon, as well, but he can't seem to get the usual rise out of the older man, and he pouts childishly. But he figures Jongwoon must still be really embarrassed about having to play the role of the concerned husband and lets the matter drop.
Jongwoon stays stoic as they make their way through the damp and dreary alleys, eyes avoiding Ryeowook at all costs and ignoring Sungmin’s usual ribbing when something like this happens, trying not to focus on Ryeowook, small in his arms, or Ryeowook, forehead chilled under his lips, Ryeowook in general.
He’s on the verge of a small mental meltdown until he nearly runs into Henry’s back, group having stopped dead in front of him, and a small cottage sitting to their left. It’s then that he hears Sungmin’s gasp, eyes finally sliding from the ground to look ahead of him, breath catching in his throat and eyes going wide.
The ocean lies not one hundred feet from them, waters lapping roughly at the shore and the fishing boats visible far on the horizon, even in the pouring rain. Sungmin gazes in wonder at the white crested waves, jaw nearly hitting the floor and unbothered by the continuing torrent descending upon his head as he looks, never having seen so much water in one place his entire life.
“It’s beautiful,” He whispers, admiring the dark waters, even seeing Ryeowook gaze at them appreciatively before trying to herd them into the nearby cottage, away from the rain. He smiles at Sungmin and Jongwoon’s almost childlike amazement though, flush finally fading from his cheeks as he pushes his mind to other matters. “Imagine all the fish in such a great gathering of water, it’s amazing!”
It's breathtaking and awe-inspiring and terrifying all at the same time, Jongwoon thinks. Maybe this ocean is a deity in and of itself -- graceful, yet demanding respect or else you'll be swallowed whole. He finally tears his gaze away from the sea as he nearly runs into a doorpost, Ryeowook gripping him firmly by the wrist and dragging him inside.
"Well, you certainly know how to make a spectacular entrance," an amused voice laughs from in the room, and Jongwoon and Sungmin realize they aren't alone. There's a man sitting on the sofa, oil lamp burning on the side table the only light in the room. He's tan and muscular and his hair is the shade of sand and he looks about Sungmin's age.
"Oh, hush, Donghae," Ryeowook mutters, pushing his sopping hair out of his face as he sheds his outer cloak.
"How polite of you, I welcome you to my home and you bark orders at me and bring uninvited guests. Not that you aren't welcome," this Donghae adds, nodding with a kind smile and sparkling eyes at Sungmin, then Jongwoon, "but a little bit of warning would have been nice."
"Things happened," Henry shrugs, shaking his head like a wet dog. Sungmin and Jongwoon keep their mouths shut, unsure of how they're going to be introduced or how they're to tell their story. "It's a long story."
"I've got time. It's been a while since this house was this full of company," Donghae laughs, standing from the sofa in search of extra chairs. "There's some ale in the cellar if you're up for it, but you'll have to brave the storm to get to it."
"As if we aren't already completely soaked. We'll need the warmth of it if we don't want to die of a cold," Ryeowook deadpans with a playful roll of his eyes, making for the door. "Oh, by the way, this is Sungmin and Jongwoon. Guys, this is Lee Donghae, a very close friend and one of the very few people I trust."
Donghae looks ready to respond when Jongwoon interrupts him, Ryeowook’s comment having struck something inside of him.
“Unlike us?” Jongwoon lets slip before he can stop it, and listens to the awkward silence that follows, biting his lip and cursing his inability to keep his mouth shut sometimes, blaming his still fogged mind. “Sorry, continue.”
Donghae simply waves Jongwoon off though, laughing and sending a sparkling grin in their direction, ignoring the frown on Ryeowook’s face in favor of addressing them, watching Henry scamper off to get the ale, dragging a protesting Sungmin along with him.
“You’re a fiery one, aren’t you?” Donghae questions in Jongwoon’s direction, setting up the wicker chairs as he finds them and eyeing Ryeowook closely before turning back, looking at Jongwoon with a slightly serious gaze. Jongwoon finds himself slightly wary of this man, emotions changing so quickly. “You might be good for him.”
Jongwoon looks ready to question the vague comment when Henry and Sungmin return, barrels of ale in hand as Ryeowook shakes his head and enters the kitchen for mugs, shivering as the wet clothes weigh down heavy on him, eager for something to warm all of their spirits.
“So,” Sungmin says slowly when they settle in around the lamp, jumping as a strange sound booms outside the cottage, hoping that it’s a natural phenomenon that he’s yet to be taught about and not the end of the world. “Are you letting us stay here then, Donghae?”
"Actually, it's really not up to me anymore. It's Ryeowook's place now," Donghae replies, face completely serious. Henry chokes on his ale in mid-swig, and not surprisingly, Sungmin and Jongwoon exchange confused glances, completely lost.
"Ehh?" Henry stammers, wiping his dripping chin with the back of his sleeve. "Didn't you just say it was yours...?"
Donghae lightens up, laughing heartily and Sungmin wonders why he keeps jumping back and forth. Such a strange fellow. "I was only joking before. In all honesty, though, I'm giving this house to Ryeowook."
"Selling it to me," Ryeowook corrects, not even looking up from his pint, taking a long swig. For such a small man, he can hold an amazing amount of liquor, Jongwoon realizes, as he's already going for a refill. Donghae frowns.
"I told you, I'm not taking your money, Wook," he insists. "This place belonged to my father and if I let you pay me for it he would be rolling over in his grave. He absolutely loved you to pieces."
"Yes, well, I also made a promise to the man to take care of you," Ryeowook counters. "Younger or not." Donghae scowls and makes to argue, but Ryeowook cuts him off. "I've already arranged for you to get the gold when you make it back to the Capitol, no point in trying to argue with me, Donghae. You know you won't win."
Donghae sulks for a moment, looking ready to protest again before he sighs, taking a long swig of ale and shrugging his shoulders, looking at Ryeowook with a pout on his face.
“There’s really no deterring you, is there, Wook?” He says amusedly, turning sparkling eyes on Ryeowook as Henry sulks, feeling out of the loop on this plan and taking it out on his mug, swirling the liquid around in it as opposed to actually drinking it. “Even when we were kids, once you set your mind to something, it happened. I remember the days when-”
“Okay old timer, no one wants to hear your reminiscing,” Ryeowook cuts in, glad to at least see that Donghae still has the sparkle in his eye, shoulder sagging in relief that he doesn’t have to push the issue too much. He really wouldn’t have been able to accept this cottage for free and sent Donghae on his way, no matter what his old friend said. “Why don’t you just show us where we can hang our clothes to dry and our sleeping arrangements?”
Donghae huffs and Sungmin smiles a little, having been mostly silent since entering, still thinking of the storm raging and this so called ocean, chill beginning to set into his bones and he hopes there will be some available blankets, shivering lightly under the wet material. He takes another large swig of ale and feels the warmth pool back in his stomach, thanking whatever forces may remain that they at least have a warm roof over their heads tonight.
“Are you calling me a bad host, Wook?” Donghae pouts, sulking when the silence speaks volumes, and sighing before continuing. “Well I’ll be gone as soon as the storm clears enough for traveling anyway, so you won’t have to worry about me much longer. And there are two bedrooms, spilt them up how you’d like and I’ll take the chair for tonight.”
"By the way..." he continues, tilting his head thoughfully. "I was being serious when I said I wished you'd told me ahead of time to expect more people. There's only two beds between you all so you're either going to have to have one person sleep on the floor or share until you can get out to get more." Now it was everyone's turn to choke on their ale, not just Henry. Donghae simply raises his eyebrow in an amused manner. "Well, what'd you expect? I'm not a magician you know."
The four of them exchange brief looks , slowly setting down their ale before all dashing for the bedrooms, each seeking to lay claim to the two beds. Donghae chortles under his breath, stretching out and kicking his feet up on the low table and shaking his head. "And Hyukjae calls me childish."
"I can't believe I got stuck sleeping with you," Ryeowook mutters, his back turned to Jongwoon as he's sandwiched between the wall and the other man.
"It's not my fault that Sungmin already knew I sleeptalk!" Jongwoon exclaims, his back also to Ryeowook, trying not to fall off the edge of the tiny bed. "Jongjin used to tease me about it all the time. Sungmin never let me live it down."
Ryeowook just shrugs nonchalantly. "Great, so now I'm going to lose sleep. Remind me to beat up Sungmin tomorrow and reclaim Henry as my human teddy bear." He makes to pull the blanket up higher over his shoulder, yanking most of it away from Jongwoon.
"Will you cut it out? You keep stealing my blankets," Jongwoon complains, trying to yank them back from Ryeowook's unyielding fingers.
"Then quit squashing me against the wall," Ryeowook retorts, wiggling himself some more room on the bed. Jongwoon feels their backsides brush each other and it startles him how violently he shivers, hoping that Ryeowook didn't notice. When the younger man finally stops moving, he gives the blanket another tug and this time it comes clean off Jongwoon. He forces a frustrated sigh and rolls over, ending up hovering over Ryeowook because of their proximity.
"What is your problem?" he snarls, meeting Ryeowook's defiant gaze. "You've been either avoiding me or snapping at me since we got here and I'd like to know what I've done wrong?"
"Hmm, I don't know, maybe the fact that I keep getting ragged on constantly," Ryeowook bites out. "I don't appreciate being called a woman, let alone treated like one. And then you had to go and kiss me, was that really necessary?"
"So that's what's bothering you, the fact that I acted out my part of the plan in order to keep you from getting caught for a reason you find inconvenient to tell me?" Jongwoon retorts. He's angry and hurt, though why he can't really fathom. And then he says something that surprises himself just as much as it does Ryeowook. "And no, I didn't kiss you, I checked your temperature. If I had kissed you, believe me, you would have known." And he swoops down and captures Ryeowook's lips with his own for a fierce but brief kiss. Ryeowook doesn't have time to do anything but stare before Jongwoon is pulling back, eyes and cheeks alight with color. "There, now you have the right to complain about me kissing you."
Ryeowook is still for a very long time, eyes wide with shock, and it's long enough for Jongwoon to realize what he's done. Oh, heavens, what have I done, this is so wrong oh no oh no oh no and he makes to scurry from the bed, muttering something about sleeping on the floor in the sitting room, when Ryeowook catches his wrist.
"Stay," the younger man murmurs. Jongwoon freezes, now his turn to stare like a wounded deer, and Ryeowook lowers his eyes, pretty blush painting his cheeks. "I... I'm sorry. Maybe I didn't mind you kissing me as much as I thought."
Jongwoon's breath hitches in his throat as Ryeowook pulls him back down on top of him, hands straying up his bicep to come to rest around his neck. Ryeowook smiles tentatively before leaning his head up to kiss him awkwardly, their noses bumping and clearly neither are very experienced at this. Jongwoon doesn't know what to do with his hands, so he settles for tracing down the younger man's torso and resting on his hips. His thumb accidentally brushes dangerously low on Ryeowook's hip and the young man squeaks, giving Jongwoon the opportunity to push his tongue in, tracing the outside of his lips before slipping in past his teeth. A moan escapes one of them, maybe both, Jongwoon isn't sure, but what he is sure is that he loves the way his name falls from Ryeowook's pretty lips, especially as his hand strays further south and--
Jongwoon sits up with a snap, feeling awfully hot and clammy, and Sungmin is propped up next to him, his face a mask of concern for his friend. He pants to catch his breath, Sungmin's call for him scaring the life from him.
"Jongwoon, are you all right? You were panting and moaning in your sleep," Sungmin whispers worriedly. Jongwoon turns a bright shade of red and he's glad he isn't facing his friend because he's certain that it would be visible even in the dark and he doesn't feel like explaining anything to Sungmin. He doesn't even know what he would say, what could he say to explain such an unholy dream? Surely even Sungmin would be disgusted with him.
"I-I'm fine," Jongwoon grits out. Sungmin doesn't buy it for a second.
"It wasn't a nightmare, was it? Do you want to talk about it?" he pushes. Jongwoon has to resist the urge to choke on air and forces his suddenly paper-dry mouth to work.
"Ye-yeah, it was a nightmare, that's all. No big deal, just go back to sleep, Min." He throws back the covers and swings his legs over the side of the bed, reaching to pull his finally-dry shirt on over his head.
"Where are you going?" Sungmin questions with a frown.
"Just for some fresh air. Really, I'm fine," Jongwoon insists. "Just drop it okay?"
Sungmin doesn't look ready to drop it but Jongwoon doesn't stick around long enough to hear anything else. Quietly, he tiptoes past Donghae, who is asleep on the sofa, and slips out the front door. The rain has finally stopped and the sea is calm, even more breathtaking under the starlight. Jongwoon makes his way over and plops down in the sand, staring up at the sky. His little 'problem' is still there, however, and how he managed to get out without Sungmin noticing is beyond him. He sighs.
"I really am going to hell," he sighs.
The waves lap calmly onto the shore, and Jongwoon frowns pitifully, wondering why him. He tries to remember his teachings, anything to take his mind away from his 'nightmare', aptly named as far as he's concerned, but all that comes to mind is the fresh memory of the Ryeowook in his dream, mouth pliant under his own and body so so warm against his. He swears and picks up a stone in the sand, tossing it with all his might, and sulking.
All this unholiness must be rubbing off on me, he thinks with some amusement, sinking another rock. He desperately hopes this is a one time occurrence, pent up hormones simply unleashing themselves on the nearest object of possible affection.
He buries his head on his knees, face on fire as the images still remain fresh in his mind. Somehow, he thinks going to hell is a bit more likely at this point.
Sungmin simply blinks as Jongwoon all but flees from the room, stuttering and mumbling to himself. He hopes his friend is okay, but something tells him that he shouldn't go after him. Instead, he settles for wandering out to see if anyone else has woken, eager to see if he would be able to fish on one of those large crafts he saw floating on the ocean the previous night, wanting to be of use. He figures that if he will be using Ryeowook's surely hard earned money to stay here, then he should at least be able to help out with what he can, even if it's only simple fishing.
He makes it out to the sitting room, wondering why on earth no one else has woken yet because the stars are already so bright out, surely it must be time to wake up, even without the chime of the water clock he is so accustomed to. As he looks for a kitchen he can use to start preparing a decent meal for everyone, he stumbles over one of the wicker chairs, waking Donghae with a start.
"What on Earth are you doing awake at this hour?" Donghae grumbles, voice husky from sleep and running a hand through his already mussed up hair.
"Um, isn't it time to get up?" Sungmin offers, righting the sideways chair. Donghae gives him a very are you actually being serious look.
"God, no, it must be two or three in the morning, the sun doesn't rise for another four hours yet," Donghae blanches, regarding Sungmin with a look that tells him he certainly believes he's being sarcastic. "And I would like to be asleep for the remainder of those four hours."
Ahhh, the sun, Sungmin remembers, a bit belatedly and he grins sheepishly. "Right. Um, I'll just go back to sleep then. Sorry for disturbing you." He high-tails it back to the bedroom he was sharing with Jongwoon, shutting the door with a soft click. Donghae stares incredulously at the door, before shaking his head and letting it fall back onto the arm of the sofa.
"What a strange man," he mutters, willing himself back to sleep.
Chapter 5 Preview
"I don't want to forget."
"Shh, Min, you won't forget, you'll never forget,"
OST'S: Chapter 4B
Ryeona’s Theme/Tricking the Guard- The Desolte Smell of Earth- Star Ocean III
The Ocean- Around the World- TOV
Donghae’s Cabin- Theor Forest- Tales of the Abyss
Dreaming- Some-Body-Funk- Air Gear
Yewook’s Theme-A Dream That Will End Sometime- Final Fantasy X
Ps- if it sounds like an OST title means something, then it probably does ;) But listen closely to the songs themselves as well!
Tricking the Guard (Ryeona's Theme): Little Rascal - Final Fantasy XII
The Ocean: Finding Water - Dinosaur
Donghae's Cabin: Forest Theme - .hack//INFECTION
Dreaming: Don't Be Afraid - Metal Gear Solid 3
YeWook's Theme: The Best is Yet to Come - Metal Gear Solid
Thank you for reading, we hope you enjoyed~! Surprise early update ;) Chapter 5, the real one, will be up on Sunday!