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there is thunder ( in our hearts baby )

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It had been a blessing — or perhaps a curse — that had you arrive at Jiyulheon, what was lauded as the residency of the great Physician Lee Seung-hui. Your uncle had fallen ill, collapsed suddenly at your side in your travels to Hangyang, skin hot and forehead beaded with sweat. Through his delirious murmurs and your broken Korean, the man guiding your carriage understood enough to bring you both to the hospital.

It had been smaller than you expected, though still filled with the sick and elderly, some cases benign and others so severe you had averted your eyes while following the doctors that carried your uncle deeper inside. The first two nights you had stayed with him as he tossed and turned, the effects of the herbal medicines leaving him more delirious than any fever could make him. But he was alive. That’s all that mattered to you.

It was there you met a man named Yeong-sin. You had been shocked to find a Korean speaking Latin — a rarity even in the coastal cities where there were so many foreigners — but you were grateful to have the company of someone else. He was crass and more than a little rude at times, but even with problems of his own he was never far from you, translating for the doctors’ when they explained to you how your uncle was steadily progressing and making conversation to pass the time. When you felt your uncle’s grip tighten around your hand for the first time in a week, he smiled and was happy for you.

But the happiness would not last. Though you hadn’t personally seen Yeong-sin cut and cook Dani’s body to feed the starving patients, your distaste for meat had you declining when he held out a bowl for you. Your loss, he’d teased playfully and passed the bowl onto your uncle who was finally feeling well enough to sit up and eat solid food. He had praised Yeong-sin in his fluent Korean, and it was the first time you had seen the young man slightly flustered. It had made you wonder how little praise he had heard in his life.

It was almost dusk when you watched one of the nurses — a woman named Seo-bi — angrily grab and pull Yeong-sin into one of the storage rooms, and though you had no way of understanding what had transpired, your loyalty to his kindness for you had you storming right behind them. Seo-bi did not halt in her what-appeared-to-be reprimands of the man, but you inserted yourself between them anyway, glaring at the woman in his defense. You had no idea what to expect, but his gentle hands steering you away still surprised you, and when you had given him a questioning look, he suddenly could not look you in the eyes. The meat I fed the patients. It was human. Surely you had heard him wrong, but when you looked back at Seo-bi and saw the anger and disbelief and, most of all, disgust on her face, you knew it to be true.

That was when the screaming had started and Yeong-sin had protectively stood between you and the door, and then the blood began to pool outside, and Physician Lee himself had barged in covered in bites and began to shift and shudder under some indescribable pain, and then there were monsters, so many monsters, and you had cried out for your uncle only to see him as a monster, too, and if it hadn’t been for Yeong-sin barricading the door you would have died.

That morning all grew quiet and still, and the next few mornings you helped Yeong-sin fortify the hospital from the inside in hopes of keeping the afflicted from escaping and killing more while Seo-bi went to search for what was the root of this evil. Yeong-sin translated for you that, if she found this resurrection plant, she hoped to construct a cure for the infection that turned innocent people to monsters. As Yeong-sin left to cut more guadua to sharpen into spikes, you mourned for your uncle. If you lied on your belly, you could just make out his face beneath the floorboards. Despite the blood and dirt caked around his mouth, his shut eyes could almost trick you into thinking he was sleeping.

You had been focused so intently on your loss that it was only when someone grabbed you and pushed you into the dirt, a sword at your throat, that you realized too late that you were not alone. You had screamed, more at the sight of the now-open gate than at the threat of the weapon tickling your collarbone, and you saw the man holding the sword look back at someone else. You were screaming one of the few words you knew in Korean — Ani! Ani! — when the other man approached.

He carried himself with regality and dignity, and you weren’t as surprised as you should have been when it was revealed later that he was the crowned prince. Soon after, he had turned to you and said something, and Yeong-sin once more translated for you: You knew he was a prince? You shrugged, not once removing your eyes from the man hailing from royalty. Was it meant to be a secret?  Yeong-sin grinned, as if proud of you, but the prince only looked at you with something akin to suspicion.

You were there when the corpses were being transported out of Jiyulheon, but other than saying no and pointing frantically at the still bodies, there was not much more you could do with your feeble attempts at communication. You cried tears when they had pulled your uncle out from the darkness, missing him but more feeling the loss of him and the sensation of being utterly alone now that Yeong-sin was not by your side. Soon, you were pulled to your feet and escorted to the magistrate. You didn’t need to understand to know you were a suspect in the patients’ “deaths”.

Then night fell and tragedy struck at Dongnae. The bodies Yeong-sin had tried so desperately to burn had risen and chaos and death ensnared all who were in their midst. You and Yeong-sin were ironically safe, having been left in the fortified jail cells, Seo-bi alone in her own. But soon after the monsters began attacking, Yeong-sin threw himself against the door and escaped. When he turned back and waited for you at the door, you were quick to follow him, sparing a final glance at Seo-bi who looked at you with worry. The three of you had grown close in your shared trauma, but there was no time to run back and free her, too. You reasoned she’d be safer in the cell, but you weren’t sure if that was more for her comfort or for your own.

You had joined Yeong-sin in the elevated catwalk above, but screamed for him when he ran off. When he came back not a minute later, carrying two small children under his arms, you were quick to throw the wooden hatch open for him. In rapid Latin so fast it visibly took him a few seconds to process, you had pleaded to help him herd the rest of the people. He had looked at you, as if seeing you for the first time, before nodding and giving you a small knife. You’d had some close calls that night, and the mother that had been torn from your and Yeong-sin’s grasp still haunted you, but you never regretted risking your life for a moment. All through the night, and through the snarls and screams, you thought of Seo-bi, trapped in that cell. And that poised man you met in Jiyulheon. You prayed they had made it through the night.

When the carnage at last ended with the first rays of the sun, you ran ahead of Yeong-sin to the jail cells, crying out with relief when you saw Seo-bi safe in her cell with another man: the magistrate that hadn’t believed you, now cowering behind the doctor that had saved his life. When the cell door was opened, you’d enveloped her in a hug she’d tensed at but slowly reciprocated. There’d been a wet spot on your shoulder when you broke apart, one that matched on her own shoulder. The two men of Jiyulheon had also returned, revealing themselves as Prince Lee Chang and his personal guard Moo-young. When you, Seo-bi, and Yeong-sin exited the jail with the magistrate, the prince looked at you with curiosity then familiarity, clearly remembering you as the foreigner from the hospital. You hadn’t noticed when you first met him how handsome he was, but now with the adrenaline slowly dissipating from your body, you were able to appreciate his fine features: the slope of his nose, the length of his eyelashes, the curve of his jaw. When he next turned to you, feeling your gaze on him, you quickly looked away but were certain he saw the heat on your cheeks.

You were unable to follow all that transpired between the nobles and the newly-revealed prince, but Yeong-sin summarized and told you in a low voice that plans were being made to take the surviving villagers by boat to safety and to have signal fires lit to call for aid to quarantine Dongnae while the remaining soldiers searched and burned the dead bodies.

But despite the earlier warnings you had given to the magistrate and the people, you and your two companions were still seen as criminals, and you and Yeong-sin were once again locked up while Seo-bi was called to the magistrate’s office. There you heard shouts that Yeong-sin translated that the boat was leaving, and the two of you shared a confused glance. A guard had thrown Yeong-sin the keys to the cell, and once you were free you had ran to the dock, gasping at the sight of the villagers with now no place to go as the lone boat sailed in the distance, the magistrate and nobles visible from shore. Cowards! You had screamed as others near you cried, just in time for the prince and Seo-bi to return on horseback. Murderers! The prince, who’d had eyes only for the fleeing nobles, turned his gaze to you, not knowing what you were saying but seeing the anger on your face making it something he was appreciative of.

Soon it was decided that the villagers would head to the well-fortified Jiyulheon. But it was near dusk and the way was soon noted to be filled with the sleeping creatures. You’d walked side by side with Yeong-sin and Seo-bi, only to be separated when night fell once more and the dead began to crawl out from hiding. He’d screamed at you to run ahead, and you were at the door with Seo-bi waiting for him and the prince to arrive with their carts.

With all the villagers accounted for, and with Yeong-sin’s and Moo-young’s help, the three of you slammed the doors shut and quickly began to barricade them with wood and carts when you felt the first thuds of the infected hitting the gates. Unknowingly, you had backed away and reached out and grasped at the arm of the person beside you, believing it to be Seo-bi. But the arm beside you had been thick, and when you looked up it was into the eyes of the prince, and you let go as if burned. He’d stared at your hand long after it had left his bicep and then stared at you, brows furrowed into a curious gesture, but said nothing of it and walked off.

That night was filled with anxiety as everyone with a weapon stood ready to fight in case the barricade was broken. The prince and Moo-young had drawn their swords, Yeong-sin favored a rifle he had gotten from somewhere, and even you had armed yourself with a shovel you’d found in the shed. Prince Chang stared at you with part shock, part astonishment, but at the next few thuds his attention went back to the doors. Through the night, you’d caught him staring at you a handful of times.

Come morning, villagers had begun to complain of hunger, and you watched as the prince took out his own strips of dried meat to distribute among them. You’d stared at him, touched at the kindness few nobles from your home would display, and when he turned to you beneath the feel of your gaze, it was he who looked away first. There was sunburn on his face and neck from the sun that afternoon.

You’d noticed Moo-young glancing suspiciously at Yeong-sin, though you didn’t know why, but the cynical looks only made you protective of the man and made you move closer to him. Then Moo-young leaned over and whispered something in the prince’s ear, and the prince turned his face to stare at the two of you. One pair of eyes dubious, the other questioning. Later when you were helping Seo-bi tend to the wounded, you spied out of the corner of your eye Prince Chang conversing with Yeong-sin. Yeong-sin quickly became flustered and began fiddling with the rifle he had grown accustomed to, sought you out in the crowd, and shook his head at the prince. The prince nodded and soon walked off, as dignified as always. The next time you found yourself beside Yeong-sin, his face had reddened and he subtly moved away. You looked up to find Prince Chang watching you.

When you saw Yeong-sin step forward to address the prince, you stepped forward right beside him, bowing your head as he did. After conversing with the prince and his guard, Yeong-sin told you of their plan to head to Sangju with him acting as their guide. I guess this is goodbye , he’d said, but you shook your head adamantly. Where you go, I go, you’d replied. He’d smiled at you, but beneath the gaze of the prince his smile faded and once more he stepped away from you. Words were then spoken between Moo-young and Yeong-sin, the air between them tense, but they were interrupted by a banging on the barricaded doors. A voice called out, and after a stunned silence Yeong-sin spoke to you of the prince’s crimes, apparently a traitor to the crown and a murderer. You’d looked back to him, stunned, and when he felt your gaze on him he turned his face away. You thought you could see shame on his face.

Then arrows began firing, some aflame and others striking and cutting down the few survivors that were left. You had screamed along with the rest, grabbing a child and hurrying to find shelter. All around you, people were shot, and you looked to the prince for guidance. He appeared to be stunned, however, feeling remorse for unintentionally being at fault for their deaths. Yeong-sin shouted something at him, though, that seemed to rile the prince, and he quickly began to bark orders.

Before the battle began, the prince had passed you a sword to fight with, with Korean words washing over you in his deep voice. When he looked expectantly at Yeong-sin to translate, your friend averted his eyes from you. He says to hide, but use it if you need to. Protect yourself first. At last he turned eyes back to you, and nodded at a section behind a wall. You will be with me. You all readied yourselves with your weapons, you with your new sword, and waited as the doors were bashed open.

It had been a bloodbath. Yeong-sin striking perfectly with his aim and rifle, and the rest of you using the cover of the creeping fog to dispel the remaining guards in melee combat. With Prince Cheng’s plan and the use of guerilla warfare, you had all managed to survive. With the threat dispelled, the plan for the villagers to head to Yangsan while the rest of you headed to Sangjun was set in place. You, Seo-bi, Yeong-sin, and Prince Chang waited with the horses as Moo-young tricked the guards to be led astray. From there, your group took off for Sangjun to meet with this Lord Ahn Hyeon.

That first night you made camp, Yeong-sin told you he was going off to nearby villages to see if there were any dead. You’d offered to go with him but he’d insisted on you remaining by the fire. So you’d sat across from the prince, the foreign clothes fine but still uncomfortable against your skin. You missed your home and your uncle, and you missed Yeong-sin. You saw the prince and Moo-young glancing at you every so often, and you’d tried smiling at them but they’d only stared blankly back at you, though you swore you saw a hint of a smile on Prince Chang’s lips. The light from the fire complimented him greatly.

During their conversation, you caught the name “Yeong-sin” and “Chakho,” but all you knew was they were talking about your friend. You’d reminded yourself to tell him of it once he came back, and you almost had, had it not been for Seo-bi’s screams to pierce through the air. You’d all run to the edge of the forest where the nurse came tumbling out, screaming, and you were certain she was chased by one of the monsters. You unsheathed the sword the prince had gifted you as Seo-bi ran for cover against your back, Yeong-sin ready to fire the first bullet until a man ran out, speaking. The dead could growl and scream, but not speak, but still none of you lowered your weapons. Not until it was the face of the magistrate beneath all the blood that was recognized.

You! You’d instantly screamed, sheathing your sword and running to reach him first. You’d struck at his chest with your fists, shouting at him all the while. Foul — loathsome — evil man! He’d shouted something at you and made to strike you back when Prince Chang halted him with words and Yeong-sin laughed. You looked to him for confirmation and he smirked. He’s given you permission to beat his ass. When you turned back to the magistrate with fire in your eyes, he’d recoiled only for the prince to round on him next, kicking him to the ground and setting his boot on his face. Much was said over the course of the prince backing off and sudden departure of your group during nightfall, but when Yeong-sin told you of the infected boat heading for Sangjun, you knew the situation was dire.

With no more room on either of the other two horses now that the magistrate had decided to join you, you were left to ride with the prince. He’d mounted the stallion and helped you up onto the animal’s back, and you were ready to travel the way with your hands to yourself until the prince looked at you over his shoulder. He said something, but with Yeong-sin preoccupied with helping Seo-bi onto his own horse, there was no way for you to understand. So casually he reach behind him to grab one of your hands and gently steer it to rest on his abdomen. Now understanding, you reached over with your other hand and tightened your grip on him. Through his many robes, you could feel the muscles of his stomach clench at your touch, tightening even more when he set his horse at a gallop. There was no disguising the blush on your cheeks, and you were lucky the prince could not see your face, but you caught the look Yeong-sin sent your way before looking forward with a sense of finality.

Finally, you came across the boat the nobles from Dongnae had escaped on, stranded, no sign of life but plenty of blood found within. Already you could imagine what had happened: a single infected body hidden beneath the hull, waking during nightfall and infecting all the rest only for them to escape and run off when they hit land. You shed no tears for the lives lost, heartless people who had chosen to save themselves over the people from the village, you were worried for the people they would come to infect. It was while you were ruminating and looking down that you found a trail, pointing it out to Yeong-sin who then showed the rest. It lead you to a village hidden in a forest, and the smell of cooking meat permeated the air. I thought you said meat was a rarity in these parts? You’d asked Yeong-sin. His face had hardened. It is.

It ended up being that some of the villagers had found the boat and emptied it, stealing the food and cloth from the cargo. What about the bodies? You’d whispered in Yeong-sin’s ear, who then asked the people. More words were shared between the prince and the villagers, and soon you were being lead into a field of wheat. But you saw the men, how they’d all carried tools which could double as weapons, and your stomach flipped at the tension in the air. Wait! You’d said, but your warning came too late as the men turned with dark intent in their eyes. You didn’t understand their words, but their tone and body language was clear: you were to be slaughtered. You had stood between Prince Chang and Yeong-sin, and they both reached out as one to push you behind them before the armed villagers could charge.

But then came the night, and with it a scratching sound from beneath the earth. Your blood ran cold. They buried the bodies while they were sleeping, they must have; and now it was nighttime and they were awake, clawing their way to the surface, desperate and hungry. As one, your group raised your weapons as the first wave of the dead came charging. The villagers were sadly no match, unaware of the dead’s weaknesses and frozen in shock at their resilience, but your group persevered, perfectly in sync after so many battles together. But still, there were too many, the first wave dispatched but then came the second wave with even more of them. At one point it seemed all hope was lost, the prince was on the ground on his back, Yeong-sin was out of bullets, you were surrounded.

And then a miracle occurred. A swarm of soldiers, familiar with the infected if the way they efficiently and without hesitation cut off their heads indicated, came to your rescues and made quick work of the rest of the dead. Once you were safe, you’d ran to the prince’s side, helping him up and having him lean on you in shock. It appeared he and the leader of the group knew each other, and it was only when Yeong-sin told you that this was Ahn Hyeon that you realized this was the lord of Sangju that kept being brought up. You bowed along with Seo-bi, and soon you were all escorted to the gates of Lord Ahn’s palace.

It’s nighttime now, but you’re led to believe that you’re safe in Sangju. The prince has been speaking with Lord Ahn Hyeon for a while now, and you can tell both Moo-young and Yeong-sin are getting restless. One plays with the hilt of his sword, the other the straps on his rifle. You and Seo-bi are the only ones to sit on the steps, giving each other tentative smiles when nerves are too great. You both know Cho Hak-ju is still after Prince Chang. It’s only a matter of time before a confrontation comes to a head.

The door to Lord Ahn’s room slides open, and all four of you stand at attention like soldiers, waiting for answers or instructions. You may have dealt with the dead from the ship, but there are still plenty more out there, and with how fast the infection spreads, more are only growing each night.

The lord says something, and you look to Yeong-sin for clarification. You briefly see the Lord Ahn Hyeon tilt his head at you, as if surprised you do not understand, before giving your full attention to your friend.

“He’s giving us rooms to sleep in,” he says, and not for the first time you are astounded that he speaks with almost no accent. Then he nods his head to another section of the palace for you to follow him. You cast a glance at the prince, as if to ask permission, but see he is deep in conversation with Moo-young.

But before you can even enter your room, you spot the prince dismissing his guard and heading to his own private room. And that’s when you see the prince look at you over his shoulder, nod to his room, and step inside. Your heart skips a beat. You turn back to Yeong-sin, who has waited for you while everyone else has gone inside, but he grimaces when he sees you hesitate. He shakes his head, almost disappointed, and turns his back on you to enter the shared room. He closes the door behind him. You are left alone.

But not for long.

Feeling the eyes of the guards on you, you duck your head, a shameful flush rising to your cheeks. There are only two things the prince could possibly want, and with your language barrier making it impossible for conversation, there is only one possibility left.

Without announcing yourself, you gently move the screen door aside, taking a deep breath to calm your nerves before entering the prince’s room. The lantern is lit, but the glow it casts is just barely enough to see. But you can make out the prince, lounging on the bed in his dirty robes. He is covered in blood and scuffs of dirt, but still his shoulders are back and his head is held high, aware that he needs no fine clothes to be handsome. His good looks lie in his skin and bones, not in his opulence.

But it is also in his heart. In the way he did not chastise the children for hitting him with their ball, in the way he gave his own food to the hungry, in the way he pardoned the village for stealing from the ship. The royalty you had known back home, and even the nobles you had come across in this country, they would never act so selflessly. You would be lying if you said the prince’s altruism wasn’t just as attractive as his high cheekbones or sharp eyes.

He motions wordlessly to the space before him, and you kneel, aware your eyes are lidded and that your breathing is heavy. He stares at you for a long moment, but his eyes don’t stay in one single place. They roam over you: your hands, your face, your thighs, your chest. He devours all of you and you can’t suppress the shiver down your back.

The prince leans forward, enough that there is but a hair’s breadth between you, and your eyes immediately dart to his full lips.

Undress me,” he says, but you do not understand, so he grabs your hands and gently pulls them to his collar, tugging down to expose his collarbone to show you what he means.

You gulp, wet your lips — you do not miss his gaze darting to the pink of your tongue when you do so — and hesitate only briefly. You have never done this with a man, with anyone, but you want to do this with him, with Chang. With one more deep breath, your hands delve in, tugging at his collar more and then you’re leaning in and pressing your lips to the prominent bone and you hear his intake of breath, and, god, do you want to hear more of those sounds.

Hands slowly make their way to his belt, slowly but not nervously, taking their time rather than hesitating. Savoring. As more and more of his body is exposed to you, you feel the heat within you grow, a pressure between your legs you desperately want to relieve. But you wait, knowing almost instinctively that half the pleasure is in the waiting. Your lips follow the path of your hands, kissing his chest, his sternum, his stomach. He tenses, then, and you feel a warm hand come up to cup your cheek. You remain where you are, crouched over him, but look up and find his heated gaze on yours. Immediately, you know what he wants. Inexperienced though you may be, you are neither stupid nor naive, and there is no lack of erotica in your country.

His legs spread at the look of finality on your face, no words spoken but your bodies communicating enough for the two of you. Your mouth presses first against the firmness through his pants, then lips part and you are mouthing at the hardness. You hear a sigh above you, and his hand is moving through your hair, fingers carding through your locks. Hands tug insistently at his pants and he lifts his hips enough for you to pull the remaining clothes off him. Your eyes dart only briefly to his cock, not having anyone to compare him to but not needing to to see that he is large, and then your eyes are taking the full sight of him in. With his entire body bare before you, with nothing but his robes hanging off his shoulders, staring at you with want in his eyes, he looks the picture of seduction. Your hands reach up before you can stop yourself and for the first time you hesitate, only briefly, before you are unfastening the clasp from his hair and letting the dark strands fall to his shoulders. Now he looks like a god your country used to worship.

You take him in, his face, his body, his hardness, and then you are crouching between his legs once more and kissing at his cock. Crude art has prepared you for what you see, but it is still different. More detailed. It is one thing seeing it in drawings and statues, it is another thing altogether having it pulse before you. There are veins and intricacies even the greater artists could never encompass, and you are amazed at how something can be so soft and so hard at the same time. His skin is like satin covered in steel beneath your lips, every once in a while your tongue darting out to deliver little kitten licks to him. You see his thighs tense briefly, the muscle rippling, and hear him groan, and you quite like that reaction so you part your lips and take the tip of him into your mouth. At first you let him rest there, feeling the weight of it on your tongue, and then you are undulating the muscle around him, letting the tip drag along his head and poke at his slit. There is a wetness dripping out of him and he tastes only slightly bitter, like tea missing its sugar, but you find you don’t mind the taste. Slowly, you being to take him in further, stretching your jaw wide so as to not scratch him with your teeth, and your eyes flick up to gauge his reaction.

His chest is heaving, and he is looking down at you, hair in his face darkening his gaze all the more, and you moan at the pleasure you see on his face and that in turn makes him tilt his head back and let out a drawn out moan. You see his Adam’s apple bob as he swallows, and your eyes devour the curve of it. He is so beautiful it almost pains you. And, at least for this night, he is yours.

You begin to move your head, pushing and pulling so at first he is in the warmth of your mouth, then out. Your hand wraps around the parts of him that you cannot fit and you squeeze ever so gently. His hand moves the back of your head, gently urging you to take more of him and, my god, for him you’d do anything, so you relax your throat, fighting against the urge to expel him. His cock hits the back of your throat and he groans again, and you can hear him panting, every breath deep and his stomach tenses and he says something, hurriedly, but you are too far gone to hear him, too far into his pleasure to hear anything but the pounding of your heart in your ears, and then his cock expands, pulses, and you feel something spurt against the back of your throat. You swallow by instinct, not wishing to choke, and you taste little of his ejaculate, but the little that makes it on your tongue as he begins to pull out, you decide, is not so bad.

He softens as he leaves you, and you press small kisses along his still-warm flesh, and then the hand that is still on the back of your head guides you up, up until you are kissing the prince on the lips. And somehow, despite having had his cock in your mouth, despite swallowing his come without any hesitation, this, kissing him, feels so much more intimate. At first your mouths are simply pressed against each other, then his lips part and he is teasing your bottom lip with his tongue, drawing it across the fullness so delicately you can hardly believe it is there. Your lips part for him, and then his tongue is in your mouth, licking at the insides of your cheeks, behind your teeth, and then you move your own tongue and it’s like a dance between your muscles. Briefly you wonder if he can taste the traces of himself on your tongue.

When he pulls back from you, you start to chase after him and a chuckle rises in his chest. The sound is beautiful and a smile rises to your lips before you can stop it. He bumps his forehead lightly against your own, a sign of casual intimacy, and then you’re world becomes a blur as he turns you onto your back and you are staring up at the ceiling. He hovers over you, hair like the night sky cascading over his shoulder and once more you’re in awe of him. It appears to be your turn to undress as soon his hands are slowly gliding the material down your shoulders, the local robes your uncle had gifted you upon your arrival to Korea leaving you. He is just as slow in your undressing as you were in his, and his hands caress every new part of you that is revealed to him: your chest, your waist, your legs. Soon you are bare before him, exposed and vulnerable in a way you have never been, but you feel no need to hide yourself from him. You would trust the prince with your life. You have trusted the prince with your life, over all the incursions you have faced together. You feel no shame with him.

Beautiful,” he says after a while, and you don’t know what he’s saying but somehow you know what he’s saying without understanding him at all.

His lips dedicate themselves to you, brushing over your neck and the swell of your breasts, down your own sternum and the expanse of your soft belly. When he reaches your pelvis, he lies on his stomach before you and hoists your thighs over his shoulders. You are exposed before him and your legs tense only in anticipation before his mouth descends on you. Just his breath alone has you trembling, the heat against the wetness of you creating a beautiful juxtaposition, and you swallow just as he did when his tongue traces your outermost lips. His tongue trails all over you, licking you slowly, teasingly, dragging along the bundle of nerves before heading further down to dip into your core. And there he remains. Chang laps at you, collecting your lubricant before drawing it back into his mouth and he moans at your taste, and if his tongue had you moaning before, you are panting now, spreading your legs further for him while simultaneously closing around his head. He lets go of one of your thighs, pulls his head back to dip his thumb into you, and then he’s drawing circles around your clit with his wet finger as he goes back to feasting on you. You gasp, head feeling light with the pleasure of it all, and his enthusiasm alone is enough to have you scale the mountain of pleasure. It’s with a few more swipes and presses of his finger that you crest, and a shuddering gasp if pulled from you before you are slumping back against the mat, thighs quivering around his head, and he only pulls back when you lightly tug at his hair, oversensitive from all the attention.

When he moves up your body, chest dragging against your breasts, newly-filled cock resting against your belly, and kisses you, you do not hesitate in plundering his mouth with your tongue. You find the taste of you odd, harder to pinpoint than his own, but coming from Chang’s mouth you do not mind it at all. His hands cup your face, guiding your mouth to move perfectly in sync with his, and once again you feel your heart leap. He is wonderful and beautiful and yours, and it is still hard to believe it, even with him hovering over you.

You kiss for a long time, parting only to breath in air, and you once more begin to feel the stirrings of arousal. As if reading your mind, his hips begin to rock against yours, slowly, and you feel his leaking cock dripping along your hip. With one last kiss, you reach down to grab him and guide him to your cunt, feeling the pressure of his tip against your opening. He looks at you with questioning eyes, and you wrap your arms around his shoulders and pull him closer and say the only other word you know in Korean — ne. Yes .

With this, he gently eases himself into you, your wetness easing the way, but it is still a tight fit and you wince. Not painful, but uncomfortable. A pressure you are unfamiliar with. But he stills when his hips meet yours and then he is back to kissing you, pressing his tongue into you with a familiarity that should not be after only two sessions but it is there all the same. You reciprocate in kind, hands roving over his back, his shoulder blades, the stiff muscles there. And then the uncomfortable pressure turns into something else, something foreign but good, and you’re whining into the kiss and mewling and panting and Chang smiles against your lips and presses one final kiss to the corner of your mouth before he’s moving his hips. Slowly, slowly, always slowly. Relishing the feel of you, and of you and him, and of you and him together. Relishing this moment of peace and joy, and perhaps even love if you were more of a romantic, in the middle of this storm.

You don’t expect it when he begins to pick up speed, his cock thrusting in and out of you faster and faster until you are panting and breathing heavily into his ear. You moan and he groans and he buries his face into the crook of your neck, and though it’s cold you both are hot and he’s licking the sweat from your skin. Your legs lift of their own accord and wrap around his hips, pulling him deeper into you and then he’s twisting his hips and hitting a spot that makes you see a burst of light over and over and over again. He moves even faster, the tip of his cock not even leaving you anymore, and you’re about to scream when he covers your mouth with his own, breathing hard through his nose. His hands guide your hips, marks on them inevitable, and he’s pulling back to look you in your eyes and he’s saying your name as if it were the most sacred of words.

“Chang,” you chant, and it gets caught in your throat until it’s all you can say. “Chang, Chang, Chang—”

He says something, urgent again, and you can already guess what it is but you don’t care, and your legs tighten around his hips even more, consequences be damned because you want this, feeling this carnal closeness, closer than anyone has ever been before, and if you can’t say that about Chang, you don’t want to say it about anyone else—

And then he’s coming inside you. You feel him throb within you and he’s pressing into you even deeper, the deepest he’s ever been, and he stills, not moving an inch, making you take every drop of him. Through it all, he moans, different words, many words, but your name interspersed with every one of them in a voice that is nothing short of holy. He arches back until there is space between you and then he’s rubbing idly at your lower belly, as if feeling the seed he has just planted within you. Then, when he has no more to give, his hand trails lower until it is once again rubbing at your clit, and with his slowly softening cock he begins to rock into you, short movements that only barely count as thrusts but enough to give you stimulation, until you are quivering around his cock and throwing your head back and coming with his name on your lips. It lasts a while, a good minute, and he’s softened by then but somehow has remained within you.

When he sees the clarity return to your eyes, he begins to pull out and you whine at the loss of him, the loss of his warmth and his width, and he laughs softly at you. He lays down on his back beside you with a content sigh, wrapping an arm around you and pulling you into the comfort of his side. Neither of you are worried about cleaning yourselves, basking instead in the lingering feelings of each other, and he pulls the blanket over the both of you. The night air is chilly, but beside Chang you are warm. With a soft whisper, he blows out the lantern and you are cast into the darkness illuminated only by the subtle light of the moon. You wrap an arm around his abdomen and drape a leg over his hip, and you see the outline of a fond smile bloom on his face before he kisses the top of your head.

It is clear this isn’t over, neither the physical dangers you face nor the political dangers threatening Chang’s position or life. But here, in the small bubble of peace you have made for yourselves, you can pretend it’s over. You can pretend it has all passed and there are no threats or worries either of you must face, sooner rather than later. Here, it is only you and Chang, no titles to separate the two of you, just two people who find themselves in the midst of tragedy and comforted each other in the middle of the storm. And though it’s not exactly a happy ending, you wouldn’t have it any other way.