Pairing: Jongin/Junmyeon (with side Xiuhan and Chanbaek)
Genre: mild angst, romance, drama, smut, catboy!au, bookshop!au
Length: Chapter 5: Stories, ~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.
Warnings: tattoos and substandard smut
Have you ever watched a leaf leave a tree? It falls upward first, and then it drifts toward the ground, just as I find myself drifting towards you.”
— Beth Kephart, Undercover
Junmyeon didn't want to open his eyes. If he didn't open them he could keep reality at bay and stay cocooned in the security of Jongin's arms for a while longer. He knew his room would be cloaked in tawny sunlight by now and he knew he should make some kind of move to get up ... to detach himself from the strong limbs that enfolded him, but he didn't want to break the spell. So he kept his eyes defiantly shut and his body carefully static, and just let Jongin's delicious warmth seep into his skin and into his bones. Sometime during the night, Junmyeon's t-shirt had ridden up and exposed his midriff, so Jongin's palm and fingers were spread possessively across the flatness of his bare belly. He smiled at Jongin's gentle snores and tried his very best not to think about how their bodies fit together so perfectly; and how it had been years since he'd felt the comfort of another body pressed so closely against his.
The more he tried not to think about Jongin's nearness, the more his touch deprived body responded to it. His cock was already semi erect when he felt soft fur brushing against his uncovered skin. Leisurely, sensually, Jongin's tail wrapped its length around his waist and Junmyeon felt like he should have been a little freaked out since he had never been with a cat but instead it just felt comforting and ... erotic. Fascinated, Junmyeon's fingers hovered over the silvery fur and after a moment's pause, he trailed his fingers over it in a series of rhythmic, featherlike caresses. But his fingers abruptly stopped moving when he felt a subtle pressure against the base of his spine. Too late, he realized that Jongin's snores had ceased.
"'Morning," Jongin's lazy, sleep-infused voice sounded even huskier than usual and Junmyeon felt the heat pool in his groin as Jongin rubbed his stubbled jaw against his nape. The tantalizing friction ignited flares of sensation across his neck. . .shoulders. . .and collarbones and Junmyeon wanted to die of shame as the sensations became too much for him and a moan escaped his lips.
"Did you sleep okay?" Jongin asked quietly, deliberately acting as if Junmyeon hadn't just moaned. His arms remained as they were, but he loosened his hold slightly so Junmyeon wouldn't feel like he was trapped.
"I ... Yeah, I did. Thanks for staying, Jongin." Junmyeon answered awkwardly.
"Don't thank me. I would've come back anyway, to check on you. I never wanted to leave in the first place," Jongin dropped a kiss on the back of Junmyeon's shoulder before turning him onto his side so they faced each other. The stark blackness of Junmyeon's hair was softened by the muted golden glow of the sunlight pouring in the windows and he looked vulnerable--beautiful and vulnerable. The light gray t-shirt he wore was at least two sizes too big for and the collar was so wide and so loose that Jongin could glimpse the delicate edges of something black just beneath his right collarbone.
"You have a tattoo?" Jongin's hand reached out and stroked the pale skin stretched taut across Junmyeon's collarbone.
"I have two." Junmyeon answered simply and waited for Jongin to tease him and say he would never have expected someone as quiet and boring as Junmyeon to have one tattoo let alone two. But there was no look of judgement on Jongin's face. His silver hair looked almost ethereal in the gentle light of morning, and his bronzed skin radiated health and energy and Junmyeon couldn't help staring. His fingers itched to stroke the dove gray fur of Jongin's kitten ears but after what he'd read about only mates being allowed, Junmyeon didn't dare. Not until he'd asked Jongin about it. If he even asked.
"May I see this one?" His fingers caressed the fine lines that were visible above the thin fabric of his collar and Junmyeon nodded slowly. Jongin could hear his quickened heartbeat and sighed inwardly at how wary Junmyeon was of being touched--and yet Junmyeon had made the unexpected move of touching his tail earlier. When Junmyeon had begun stroking his tail, Jongin had been still half drunk on sleep, but the pleasure had coiled low down beneath his belly and his cock had begun to stiffen almost instantly. Carefully, he pulled the collar diagonally to expose a word etched into Junmyeon's ivory pale skin in plain, cursive script: Somniatis. Jongin wasn't familiar with the Latin word but it sounded hauntingly beautiful in his head.
"What does somniatis mean?" The word felt alien on his tongue, almost lyrical.
"It's Latin. It means 'to dream'." Junmyeon's eyelids closed shakily as Jongin's fingers traced the outline of each letter.
"It's beautiful, Junmyeon. May I. . .May I see your other tattoo?" Jongin's fingers brushed Junmyeon's sleep-tousled fringe away from from his forehead before letting the springy straight strands fall back down again.
"I. . .it's on my hip." Junmyeon's face went a little red with what Jongin guessed must have been self-consciousness.
"I'd like to see it if you'll let me." Jongin caught Junmyeon's much smaller hand in his, watching his face carefully. He could sense Junmyeon's hesitation but in the end the older man hooked his thumb into the waistband of his navy blue cotton boxer shorts and pulled it down gingerly to reveal a three inch long feather quill which flowed in delicate lines along the bony contours of his hipbone. A single bead of ink hung from the quill tip, poised to drop. Reverently, his dusky fingertips moved over the smooth, snowy pale skin of Junmyeon's hip, gliding along the gentle curves and straight lines permanently inked into Junmyeon's skin. It was an exquisite tattoo and the association of the quill with words and with writing--this made it somehow the perfect tattoo for someone like Junmyeon.
Jongin's textured fingertips slid over the fine-grained surface of Junmyeon's hip in a subtly sensual manner as he stroked first the inked feathers and then the black teardrop. It took Junmyeon everything he had to bite back the gasps of rapture as his body hungrily drank in Jongin's touch. The bulge in his boxers was unmistakable by now and Jongin couldn't have missed seeing it--but he said nothing. Instead, he took Junmyeon's hand in his and held it tightly. It was as if he knew Junmyeon was embarrassed and was giving him breathing room.
"Will you tell me the story of this quill? And why you chose somniatis? Every tattoo has a story, hasn't it? Will you tell me your stories, Junmyeon?" Jongin's eyes were filled with restrained curiosity--a need to know, Junmyeon supposed, and he found he couldn't leave that need unsated.
"This will probably sound kind of stupid but there's this tradition that's been in my family for three generations, where all the males have to get tattoos at age 21 and then at age 25. My grandparents moved to the States about 60 years ago, but my grandfather wanted to keep the tradition alive so he made my dad and his brothers do it and they made their sons do it."
"I thought tattoos weren't an accepted thing in Korea--especially in the past."
"It's not, for the most part. But my great grandfather was a fisherman and back then, they believed that tattoos gave you protection against evil spirits that might attack you out at sea. I don't know about the evil spirit part of things, but my great grandfather almost drowned out at sea when he was 21 and once more when he was 25. He had a tattoo inked for each time he escaped death. And when he had children, he decided that his sons would each get a tattoo at 21 and 25 to protect them against accidents at sea. And his sons did the same thing with their sons and their sons did it with their sons. But it was just a kinda token family tradition by then because none of us were even fishermen who went out to sea. You. . .probably didn't want to hear all that." Junmyeon added awkwardly.
"If I hadn't wanted to know I would have distracted you with some other topic. Haven't you realized by now that I always want to hear everything you have to say?" Jongin's knuckles brushed Junmyeon's cheek affectionately and the older man's eyes closed--too overcome by the sensation of Jongin's skin touching his when he hadn't allowed anyone to come near him in almost three years.
I always want to hear everything you have to say.
The words sank into his skin and his soul like pebbles slipping into water.
"So why did you choose those two designs?" Jongin's deep, chocolatey voice interrupted Junmyeon's thoughts. Junmyeon thought about giving him the short version but in the end a big part of him wanted Jongin to have snapshots of what he was really like. Maybe Xiumin was right, he had been alone for too long and it was time to let someone in. But who was he trying to fool? This wasn't about letting someone in, it was all about letting Jongin and only Jongin in.
"My brother has always been earthbound--his feet are planted firmly in the now. He's an engineer and he does what needs to be done. He doesn't have much time for pointless dreams and for the future. There's no space in his life for the past either. But I've never been like him. I've always thought too much. Felt too much. . .” Joonmyun smiled almost apologetically. Then, unplanned, he found himself asking, “What kind of person are you Jongin?"
"I'm somewhere in between you and your brother, I guess. I do what needs to be done as well but I've always moved around since high school. Dreams. . .I haven't really had time to think much about dreams. I move but I don't drift--do you know what I mean? Cats move around until we find the right home." Jongin's palm made lazy, soothing circles on Junmyeon's back as he tried to get the other man more used to his touch.
"What's the right home?"
"The right person. For cats the right home is the right person, Junmyeon." Jongin said quietly. And they were silent for a while--Jongin not wanting to rush Junmyeon, and Junmyeon trying to make a leap of faith his body and heart were ready for but his head wasn't.
"So. . .why somniatis?"
"I guess I was a real idealist when I was 21? I'd just graduated from college and my head was still full of what ifs and dreams of writing The Great American Novel. And so I chose that Latin phrase because it meant 'to dream'. My hyung wasn't too impressed that I'd chosen a word--and a literary one at that, rather than at least something more masculine like 'strength' or 'power' or 'endurance'. He's more about numbers and logic, and he has a lot of physicality about him. He can't understand my fascination with books. But I wonder now if I shouldn't have chosen something like 'strength' or 'endurance' because that might have been more useful to carry around on one's skin than something as hopelessly naive as somniatis." Junmyeon looked so sad as he said this and Jongin knew it wasn't the right time to make him talk about it.
"Can I see the quill again?" He asked tentatively as Junmyeon had covered it up a minute after he'd shown it to Jongin that first time. Slowly, Junmyeon unveiled the curving, artistic lines of the inked drawing. "Why the quill?"
"You know how the feather symbolizes freedom and truth and the ability to take emotional and creative flight? Well, the quill represents the notion of expressing all that freedom and creative and spiritual notions through writing. I got this when I was 25. . .after I'd been in the publishing business for four years. After seeing countless writers have their dreams crushed. After spending years editing other people's writing instead of doing my own. Maybe I got this writer's tattoo to try and awaken something? I. . .I don't really know why I got it. It's been two years and I haven't written anything." There was that sad smile again and Jongin's heart ached for this broken man. Because Junmyeon seemed very much like a broken man to him.
In the two weeks since Jongin had moved in, he'd been the one to shoulder most of the weight in their conversations. And Junmyeon had always carefully avoided revealing anything much about himself. So tonight was a revelation as he shared long held in pieces of himself and showed Jongin long hidden slivers of his soul. And Jongin had let him talk because catharsis was good and because he just wanted to know Junmyeon better. But mostly Jongin loved the way his voice sounded as he told the stories. He loved the way his brow furrowed and the way his smiles all looked so serious and accidental. And because Jongin didn't believe in lying to himself, he admitted that he just loved listening to Junmyeon talk because he just loved Junmyeon. He could listen to him talk for a lifetime, but perhaps they'd talked enough for one morning. . .
"There's plenty of time still, Junmyeon, to start writing. Meanwhile, it makes a really sexy tattoo," Jongin reached in and kissed him on the mouth--gently at first as his tongue played with the corners of his mouth and his teeth tugged on Junmyeon's lower lip. Then his tongue swept in more forcefully and their mouths and bodies came alight with carnal awareness. The pent up frustration of the past two weeks dissolved in the wake of slow burning passion as they learnt the topography of each other's bodies. Jongin's tongue licked a burning trail up Junmyeon's collarbones, mapping his tattoo and kissing his way up his neck and right to his ear. By the time he took Junmyeon's earlobe into his mouth and bit down on it, the other man was weak with desire.
"Jongin, I. . ."
"Do you want me to stop? I don't want to but if you want me to, I will."
"I want to touch your ears, Jongin, but I read somewhere that only mates are allowed to. . ." Junmyeon's words were abruptly cut off as Jongin placed his index finger on his mouth to silence him.
"I've only ever let one person touch my ears. Only one. Do you understand what I'm saying?" Eyes intense with passion, Jongin pulled Junmyeon into a tight embrace and kissed him hard on the mouth before whispering hoarsely, "Touch them." And Junmyeon did. They felt velvety soft between his fingertips and it gave him a thrill to hear Jongin moan in response to his shy caresses as the cat lay beneath him, so masculine and attractive against snowy white sheets. Junmyeon wanted to die from the ecstasy of feeling their hipbones clash and erections press erotically against one another. They could feel each other hard and hot, the thin barrier of clothing being not much of a barrier at all.
Junmyeon’s breathy gasps filled the air as Jongin's hand reached beneath elastic and cupped the length of Junmyeon's cock and squeezed gently. The skin of his hands felt only slightly hotter than Junmyeon's own but knowing it was Jongin, and seeing his handsome face as he wrapped his fingers around his cock and tugged it in firm, hurried strokes--the pleasure was overwhelming for Junmyeon. Cast adrift by desire, Junmyeon was reaching for Jongin's erection when he felt zephyr cool air sweep across his skin. Jongin had removed his boxers and before Junmyeon could say anything, his cock was engulfed in moist heat. Hands gripping Jongin’s shoulders as the cat’s lips and tongue pleasured him, Junmyeon shut his eyes and drowned in the sensations. Later, after he’d come and cleaned himself off, Junmyeon made Jongin lie back and for the first time in almost three years, he took someone in his mouth and the fact that it was Jongin just made it that much sweeter…
It was a Saturday so there was no store to open or to run, no shop floor to vacuum. It was a perfect day for lazy kisses and easy hugs, and lying in bed naked…just talking.
"What are you doing?" Junmyeon asked as Jongin’s tongue moved over his collarbone tattoo.
"Trying to taste the letters." Jongin said softly as he licked the sensitive skin alongside his clavicle again.
"How do they taste? The letters, I mean. How do they taste?" Junmyeon managed to ask as he enjoyed the subtle sensations Jongin's tongue ignited beneath his skin.
"Salty. Your skin is salty. Delicious." Jongin's mouth leisurely dropped kisses on his collarbone, and all the way to his neck. Junmyeon took a sharp intake of breath, the pleasure shooting right to his cock as Jongin sucked the sensitive skin at the base of his neck. Jongin moved away to examine the small purple marks--love marks he’d made that now stained skin which had been pale unbroken ivory before.
“When cats mark another’s skin in this way, it’s a way of claiming the person. Like a mark of possession,” Jongin said as he stroked Junmyeon’s cheek.
“Does that mean I belong to you?” Junmyeon asked jokingly.
“Yes it does. But you have to accept ownership. I’d never force you to,”
“I … I need to think about it, Jongin. It’s been so long since I’ve been in a relationship. I don’t want to rush into anything. I don’t want to risk getting messed up again. Is that ok?”
Jongin nodded and just held him close, his lips touching Junmyeon’s hair as he inhaled his scent. For weeks, Junmyeon had smelled of sadness and caution but now Jongin could make out strands of hope and healing. He wanted so much for Junmyeon to heal and to hope, he thought as he lost himself to dreams and the weight of Junmyeon's head on his chest. . .
In the dregs of afternoon, Junmyeon woke up from his nap and carefully extricated himself from Jongin’s arms. He needed to use the toilet and he grabbed the first shirt he could find and slipped it over his head. It was only when he was splashing water onto his face and looking in the mirror that he saw the white fabric draped loosely over his shoulders--the hem ending just above mid-thigh. Jongin's white cotton t-shirt. Jongin's smell. It was the next closest thing to being hugged by Jongin. He shut his eyes and recalled what they'd been doing all day in the privacy of his bedroom and his cheeks began to feel uncomfortably hot. It wasn't that Junmyeon was a prude, it was just that sex with Jongin had been nothing like sex with his two exes. It had felt like they'd been tied together with invisible threads and as their bodies had ground against each other and reached a mutual climax, their souls and their hearts had somehow been stitched together.
Emotion had infused every touch and every movement and Junmyeon knew he’d never felt that that much for anyone in his past. But it was too soon to think about such heavy things, Junmyeon sighed as he carded a jerky hand through his black, sleep-ravaged hair. Then he felt a pair of strong arms tighten around his waist, and shivers of pleasure traveled across his skin as Jongin nuzzled deep into Junmyeon's neck and kissed that spot where his neck met his right shoulder. Junmyeon shuddered as Jongin nibbled on first his right earlobe, then his left.
"That tickles." Junmyeon chuckled as Jongin deliberately dragged his rough jaw over the smooth skin of Junmyeon's neck. He could feel his nipples and cock hardening in response to Jongin's insistent touch.
"Come back to bed." Jongin's voice was sleep-husky and his hair tousled in a way that made Junmyeon want to run his fingers through it. He let himself be led back to bed and they made love again in the dying orange purple embers of sundown.
They’d had a simple dinner of chicken and mushroom omelette they’d cooked together and after washing the dishes and showering (separately because Junmyeon had convinced himself he wasn’t ready for that kind of intimacy yet), they found themselves back in bed. Junmyeon’s cheek rested on Jongin’s chest as they talked sporadically about their lives.
“I’ve lived here for two weeks, Junmyeon, and I’ve only ever seen you stay at home and read books and watch TV. What do you usually do for fun when you go out? Watch movies? Play some kind of sport? Go clubbing?” Jongin asked teasingly and Junmyeon laughed in response, but it was a laugh tinged with bitterness.
"I'm not a fun person, I don’t know how to have fun. That's what Baekhyun said. I was too quiet. Too wrapped up in my books. Too self-sufficient. He needed someone full of life and outgoing. Someone who needed him in a way I didn't seem to need him." Junmyeon said quietly. "The ironic thing was that I did. Need him, I mean. I just didn't know how to show him I guess. So he moved on."
"What do you mean, Jongin? I don't understand."
"I won't move on."
"I. . .I wish I could believe that." Junmyeon smiled wistfully as he thought of Jongin's resume and his history of changing postal codes each time he changed jobs. And then Jongin was taking Junmyeon's hands and holding them securely in his.
"Do you remember the first meal we ate together? I told you that when I found the right place and the right job, I would stay?"
"Yes," Junmyeon's heart was beating erratically and he felt as breathless as an inexperienced teenager. He was 27 years old, why wasn’t he calm?
"I'd like this to be the right place and the right job. And I'd like to stay, Junmyeon, if you’ll let me. And I won't move on. If you get tired of me, and you've had enough, then I'll leave but I won't ever leave on my own."
"I don't understand, I. . ."
"Cats spend their lives searching for their mate--the one they'll be with for the rest of their lives. It's why we're always moving--because we're searching. And when we find the right person, we stop and we settle. . .for always."
"Always," Jongin said just before he wrapped his arms around Junmyeon's much smaller frame, kissing him hungrily, “always, Junmyeon.”
It was only much later, as Junmyeon was drifting in and out of sleep, that he realized he hadn't thought about the supermarket encounter with Baekhyun at all. He was usually melancholy for days after catching glimpses of Baekhyun in town. Seeing Baekhyun from afar usually unsettled him for up to a week, and this time Baekhyun and him had actually come face to face and spoken and it should have left him an emotional wreck. But today, Junmyeon’s heart had been so full of Jongin that there just hadn't been any chance to dwell on anyone or anything else. As he burrowed closer to Jongin and inhaled his soapy male scent, Junmyeon was glad Jongin was here. He was so glad.