Genre: romance, drama, smut, catboy!au, bookshop!au
Length: Chapter 2: Craving, ~3.8k words
Summary: Bookstore owner Junmyeon hires catboy!Jongin as a live-in shop assistant. Junmyeon's wary of intimacy but Jongin is determined to get past his defenses.
There was only one bathroom separating his room and Junmyeon's. Physically, it was only 12 feet of distance but at the moment it just felt like a yawning chasm of impossible distance to Jongin. His ears pricked up and he could just make out the soothing cadence of Junmyeon's breathing. He wasn't sleeping either, Jongin noted and wondered what he was doing alone in his room. Was he lying in bed? Reading a book? Browsing on his laptop? Was he having trouble sleeping?
Jongin tried to concentrate on the book he was reading with the soundtrack of Junmyeon's breathing in the background. He'd bought the battered, dog eared paperback copy of Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex at a flea market in some nameless small town, and had been reading it off and on for about a week now. But when he'd reread the line: Can you see me? All of me? Probably not. No one ever really has for the fifth time, he knew it was time to give up on trying to read. He was far too distracted by the human male he was now sharing living space with.
Switching off the bedside lamp, Jongin linked his hands beneath his head and stared up at the ceiling. The branches of the oak tree outside had painted delicate, onyx colored shadows on the white surface of the ceiling. Jongin liked to look out at the moon as he was drifting off to sleep--a habit he'd had since childhood. His mom used to read him Margaret Wise Brown's Goodnight Moon all the time and they used to recite the lines of the story together--that was how well they knew it. And he would say goodnight to all the things in his room one by one as his mom stroked his hair, and finally he would wish the moon. Then, his mom would kiss him goodnight and turn out the lights before leaving the room. Lying alone in bed in a room illuminated by silvery moonlight, little Jongin would watch the glittering night sky till his eyelids grew heavy.
Now he lay on a strange bed in a room he'd never slept in, and the part of Jongin that was cat was always unsettled by new places. But the moonlight was the same as it had always been, and he was oddly comforted by the gentle sounds of Junmyeon's inhale-exhale-inhale. At some point, Junmyeon's breathing patterns settled into a distinct rhythm as he fell asleep. Jongin found himself smiling as he heard the first few snores; Junmyeon made the most delightful sleeping noises. Grinning, Jongin made a vow to listen to that snore up close one day, instead of through a shield of walls. Closing his eyes, Jongin immersed himself in a vivid image of Junmyeon's face for a few moments--recalling his heart shaped face, his painfully guarded eyes, his delectable pink mouth and his straight, jet black hair. Then he sighed contentedly and let himself be lulled to sleep by the muffled notes of Junmyeon's snoring.
It was a muggy Wednesday morning and Junmyeon had opened the windows and doors to chase all the stale air out of the place. It was something he did every morning so that the store got a daily infusion of fresh air before the air conditioning came on. As far as Junmyeon was concerned, there were fewer things worse than being in a musty bookstore.
It had been fourteen days since the cat had moved into his home and into his life, but Junmyeon felt like a lot more time had passed than two weeks. Jongin had somehow insinuated himself into every crack and corner of his existence--just by being there. He wasn't nosey or loud or obnoxious and yet his presence seemed to be everywhere and Junmyeon was aware of him all the time.
This had never happened to Junmyeon before. Even when he'd shared a studio apartment in downtown Bakersville with his ex, he'd been able to withdraw into his books and just do his own thing without thinking of the other person. But Jongin...There was just something about Jongin. No matter how subtle and quiet he was, Jongin had wedged himself under his skin in a way Junmyeon couldn't ignore no matter how hard he tried. And like him, Jongin loved to read. He loved books in the same way Junmyeon loved books. Unreservedly.
They often talked about books and authors they liked aside from the usual topics one discussed over dinner--current affairs, eccentric or nasty customers, TV shows and movies. But they especially loved talking about books. With Minseok and Yixing, Junmyeon tended to take a conversational backseat and let his naturally garrulous roommates commandeer the conversation. But with Jongin there was a constant push and pull. He asked Junmyeon for his opinions on things--made him participate. And he made Junmyeon laugh too with his stories about the different places he'd stayed and the different jobs he'd worked. Sometimes Jongin's anecdotes made Junmyeon sad or angry or both--usually when Jongin talked about being treated differently by people because he wasn't human. Junmyeon wanted to offer words of comfort but he swallowed them down because he'd told himself a long time ago that he wouldn't get involved in other people's affairs because getting involved would only get you hurt.
But Jongin isn't "people". Jongin is a cat.
The words kept whispering to Junmyeon but he kept burying them in the recesses of his mind where his heart couldn't find them. Sometimes, Junmyeon couldn't remember what his life had been like before Jongin. Minseok and Yixing had offered companionship that was easy and impersonal and fun, but Jongin offered all those things and so much more. He couldn't begin to explain the difference and it was making his head hurt to even try. He needed to stop.
Somewhere in the store, a loud whining noise rudely shattered the quiet. It was Jongin, Junmyeon groaned. Jongin vacuuming the store every morning was Junmyeon's personal hell. The noise got louder and louder until it was just a few feet away, and Junmyeon tried not to turn and look but he failed, just as he failed every morning. He pretended not to notice the sweet curve of Jongin's backside as he bent over to move things around. He pretended not to notice the flexing of the muscles on his calves and the backs of his thighs as he walked through the area. And he tried not to be mesmerized by the way Jongin's tail swished lazily from side to side. Just as he absolutely did not notice the way the dark brown leather bracelets on Jongin's wrists brought attention to his slim, tanned arms. Summer couldn't end soon enough, Junmyeon thought. The sooner Jongin's honey hued skin was hidden away behind jeans and sweaters, the better. Kim Jongin dressed in a raglan tee and khaki cargo shorts was just too hazardous to his health. Yes, the sooner autumn came, the more restful things would be for him.
As Jongin unplugged the vacuum, he gave the tiniest of smirks. He had heard Junmyeon's heart rate pick up a little when he was vacuuming nearby. It was the ninth consecutive day Junmyeon had done that and Jongin knew human beings usually only had that kind of reaction when they were scared, excited or deeply attracted to another person. He knew which explanation appealed to him most. Jongin knew Junmyeon shied away from --intimacy--the reasons why were still a mystery but he reckoned he'd find out in time. For the meantime though, he felt he'd given Junmyeon more than enough space; he'd given him two long weeks to get used to having him around. But it was time now for Jongin to push past the barriers Junmyeon had erected around himself. And he knew just how to do it, he smiled as he thought of the perfect book.
They were doing the dishes as they always did after every meal. Both males pretended they weren't affected when they brushed arms and elbows and thankfully, Jongin hadn't had any more slip ups with his tail after that first night. But it was hard work feigning indifference--especially for Jongin as cats were very physical creatures who craved touch. He'd managed just fine with minimal contact for the past seven years, but then no one in the past had ever tempted him anywhere near as much. Sure, there'd been a few hook ups that hadn't lasted but nothing that went skin and bone deep like this thing he had for Junmyeon.
"Have you ever read Laura Esquivel's Like Water for Chocolate?" Jongin leaned against the sink countertop so that he faced Junmyeon. His platinum hair had grown in the last two weeks--his fringe almost covering his dark eyebrows now. The long fringe and slightly sleepy eyes made Jongin look rakish and utterly devastating and Junmyeon had to look away.
"Ahhh, that's on my list of books-I-want-to-read-but-haven't-got-rou
"Well, it's been on my list for a while now but I managed to actually buy a used copy a few weeks ago and I was thinking...maybe we could read it together?"
"Read it together? How? Do you mean share the book and flip the pages together?" Junmyeon chuckled, his eyes shining with mirth as he forgot to keep a distance. He sometimes let his guard down and when he did, his smile reached his eyes and created a warm, heavy ache somewhere deep in the recesses of Jongin's chest cavity. He wanted to see Junmyeon smile that open smile all the time.
"Of course not! I meant we could take turns to read aloud. I was flipping through the first few pages and I thought it would sound good read out loud. So maybe we could try reading it out loud together? I think it would make the story come alive so much more." Jongin watched Junmyeon carefully and when he didn't say anything in response, Jongin said awkwardly, "Or we could just forget I ever said anything about it."
"No, no, let's do it. I've never read anything with anyone else and well, it will be something new."
"I'll go get the book then," Jongin grinned, barely able to contain his excitement. But with all his elation, he could still pick up on Junmyeon's quickened heartbeat and the light dusting of pink on his cheeks. He wasn't the only one who was flustered.
Only when Jongin had left the kitchen did Junmyeon sink back against the countertop. Why had he agreed to it? He wanted to touch Jongin constantly--even when they had the length of an entire bookstore between them. He dreaded to think what would happen when they had to read a book together in the confined space of his tiny living room. His head told him to put a stop to it--to tell Jongin he'd changed his mind, that he was tired, that he wanted to go to bed after all. But Junmyeon's heart was like a parched wasteland which had just received its first drops of rain after years of drought, and it would not be denied. So instead of calling it off, Junmyeon made two glasses of iced tea and brought them outside.
"... The way Nacha tells it, Tita was literally washed into the world on a great tide of tears that spilled over the edge of the table and flooded across the kitchen floor." Junmyeon's voice, as he formed the syllables, was soothing and masculine and textured and invaded Jongin's senses entirely. It was a good thing cats could modulate their hearing or else he would have been completely undone by just his voice alone--especially when they sat so close to each other on the sofa. The older man had been startled when Jongin had materialized beside him. Perhaps he'd expected Jongin to sit in one of the arm chairs? But Jongin was determined to push his buttons tonight and had stayed right where he was.
"...Despite the time that had passed since that evening, Tita remembered it perfectly: the sounds, the smells, the way her new dress had grazed the freshly waxed floor, the look Pedro gave her...That look!" Junmyeon was five pages into the first chapter when he felt something heavy settle on his lap. Jongin had laid his head on his lap as if it was the most natural thing in the world to do. "Jongin, what..?"
"Shhh...the story sounds better when you listen to it lying down. Will you carry on reading?"
Aside from the obvious inappropriateness of Jongin even lying on his lap, there was the other thing. Junmyeon had Googled a cat's core body temperature on day 4 of Jongin moving in because he'd been frankly freaked out by how much it felt like fever--despite Jongin's protestations that it was normal. And that's when he'd found out that cats were only slightly warmer than humans and if they felt feverish to touch, that meant sexual attraction was present. So he wasn't the only one who was unsettled by his roommate. Anxiously, he'd waited for something else to happen, for Jongin's tail to wrap around him again. According to the same Internet article, when a cat touched you with his tail, it was a gesture of trust: I like you and trust you. But it was also a gesture of intimacy, which rattled Junmyeon far more.
He'd braced himself for Jongin to make a move of some kind but Jongin had been the perfect, platonic roommate...aside from their accidental brushes of skin and doing chores and working in the store together and talking together over dinner. Neither of the things they did together ever really felt quite platonic. There was always an undercurrent of suppressed desire and it kept Junmyeon on tenterhooks all the time. On the one hand, he wanted to kiss and touch Jongin and explore the planes of his tall, lean body, but on the other, Junmyeon feared putting his heart on the line. And he couldn't do one without the other--he'd never been able to and that had always been his problem. And so he continued to behave as if he wasn't attracted to Jongin and that he didn't know Jongin was similarly attracted to him.
"Junmyeon, will you read?" Jongin's husky timbre interrupted his thoughts. Jongin looked up at him, his eyes intense pools of whiskey brown and his sensual lips held slightly apart, and Junmyeon didn't know how to say no so in the end all he did was nod quietly and begin reading again.
"...when she first felt his hot gaze burning her skin. She turned her head, and her eyes met Pedro's. It was then she understood how dough feels when it is plunged into boiling oil. The heat that invaded her body was so real she was afraid she would start to bubble--her face, her stomach, her heart, her breasts..."
It should have been awkward reading out the description of intense physical attraction between Tita and Pedro, but instead of stopping, Junmyeon carried on reading. Then, for reasons unknown to himself, Junmyeon's fingers began stroking Jongin's hair a little bit and gently, very gently grazed the tips of his ears with tentative fingertips. The pale fur felt like triangles of soft silk and Junmyeon traced the outline of his right ear and scratched at the fur behind it. And very softly, he heard a low rumbling in Jongin's throat which sounded a lot like purring. Encouraged by the contented sound, Junmyeon scratched the fur behind the other ear, and stroked the velvety skin on the inside. Jongin moaned slightly and wrapped his fingers around Junmyeon's urgently while his tail curled around his knee. The fur tickled a little against his bare knee and Junmyeon didn't mind the way it felt at all.
"My ears are very sensitive, if you want to carry on touching them I may not be able to hold back."
"I'll want to touch you back,"
"Oh." Junmyeon withdrew his hand slowly and then before he knew what was happening, Jongin's strong, flexible muscles were lifting his body up in one smooth, flowing movement and his lips were moulding themselves over Junmyeon's in a kiss that scorched him to the core. Jongin's arms reached around Junmyeon's shoulders and pulled him closer as his tongue burned a trail inside his mouth.
Junmyeon suddenly thought of Tita and how she'd felt when Pedro had gazed at her that first time. Like Tita, he too felt like he was being scalded too by Jongin's hot, hot arms and hot, hot mouth; and he could feel his cock harden in response as Jongin nibbled his earlobe and pulled Junmyeon on top of him. Dizzy from the warm sensations rushing through his gut and his groin, Junmyeon leaned in and licked and nipped at the smooth golden brown skin of Jongin's neck before finding his mouth again. Their tongues danced passionately with each other and Junmyeon tried to steel his heart against Jongin's sensual assault even though he was half out of his mind with pleasure.
Jongin had no such reservations and was surrendering to his senses and instincts completely. He'd struggled so hard to keep his feelings hidden the past two weeks, so to finally have Junmyeon in his arms and kissing him was just...His mind couldn't quite process it all but his heart and body were reveling in Junmyeon's attentions--his skin was on fire and the tightness in his groin was reaching unbearable levels. Jongin gave a lazy smile just before he reached up to capture the mouth hovering above his, one hand groping Junmyeon's butt. After a few minutes of frenzied kissing, their hips began pressing more desperately against each other. Soon they were moaning loudly at the delicious friction as their clothed erections came into contact. Jongin silenced Junmyeon's moan with an intense kiss while his tail wrapped around the back of the older man's waist. The gesture seemed to whisper:
I like and trust you. I want you.
It awakened a small primal part of himself that wanted to possess Jongin and make him his. But when Jongin's hot palm caressed the skin of Junmyeon's bare back, he was seized by a sudden moment of lucidity and his head demanded that he stop this madness. Tearing his mouth away from the all consuming kiss, Junmyeon said in hushed tones, "I'm sorry, Jongin, I'm sorry...I can't do this. We can't--" Junmyeon dragged his hand frustratedly through his jet black hair, still panting slightly from their shared passion just moments ago. Expecting Jongin to be upset, Junmyeon climbed off him quickly and sat down heavily on one of the armchairs, "I'm so sorry, Jongin. I just can't,"
"Okay," Jongin said quietly. He was groaning with frustration inside and he had the worst case of blue balls in history but he knew he couldn't rush Junmyeon. He was so skittish; someone must have hurt him really badly. He lay back down on the couch and sighed.
“Ok? That's all you're going to say?" Junmyeon looked surprised. He'd expected Jongin to at least try and persuade him, talk him into picking up where they'd left of.
"You're not ready. I get that and I can wait till you're ready." Jongin had always been patient. He was the most patient of cats and he knew he would wait as long as he had to for Junmyeon.
"I should never have let it go as far as I did."
"But I'm grateful you did - that you let me in just a little."
"But that's the whole point; I don't need any complications in my life right now. I shouldn't have touched you at all."
"We're both adults. We knew what we were doing and I can wait till you're ready to let me get up close again."
"I'm not sure I'll ever be ready, Jongin. I should go. Goodnight." Junmyeon said solemnly just before he headed for his room - shutting his bedroom door with a finality he didn't feel. His heart and body really hated his head right now. They had wanted so much for Junmyeon to let Jongin into his room so he could relieve this physical and emotional ache he felt inside of himself--This void.
Now that he was alone in the room, he was reminded of how turned on he had been by Jongin's kisses and his clever hands and lush tongue. And just thinking of Jongin intensified the heat in his groin and he hesitated for all of four seconds before he went to lie down on cool, ice-blue sheets, shedding his shorts along the way. His whole consciousness was flooded with images of Jongin kissing him, biting and stroking him and it didn't take long for him to fall apart, and he had to smother his mouth with his pillow so he wouldn't call out Jongin's name aloud as he came. But he called out his name anyway.
The physical ache was gone now, Junmyeon thought, but the emptiness gnawing at Junmyeon's chest was another thing altogether. That would take a lot longer to recede.
Jongin's hand was gripping his cock when he heard Junmyeon's first moan, and the soft sound of pleasure made the pain of being denied seem even more exquisite. As Junmyeon took care of himself, his stifled moans filled Jongin's senses and he jerked himself off to the rhythm the older man set. When the pressure had built to breaking point, Jongin dived off the edge of desire with the muffled sound of his own name echoing in his ears while his own lips formed Junmyeon's name.
After Jongin had cleaned himself up, he lay down, staring at the night sky through the open window. He needed to make Junmyeon trust him somehow. He had decided that he wanted to have Junmyeon in his life indefinitely and he would do anything he had to to make the older man let him in. One of the first things he'd have to do was to work on reducing the 12 feet of physical space between them into a kissing distance of just a few inches. He could do this. He was a patient cat.