Everything is on fire . From the air that he breathes to the very skin on his body, Jae-Ha feels as if he’s submerged into a pool of lava. It comes on too quickly to be a fever and it’s not nearly as debilitating–there’s no other symptoms that would lead him to thinking that he’s sick–but he would be an utter fool to consider himself entirely healthy.
Even Yoon can’t seem to find an answer, only offering the dragon a cursory look-over and a constant pinch of his brows tight over his eyes. It’s not a look that the green dragon trusted. If the young genius of a boy couldn’t gather the faintest idea of what ailed him, then did he truly have any chance to figure it out on his own?
Suffice to say, there was little else that Jae-Ha had than simply treating the symptoms that he could and ignoring the rest–and that alone was hell.
Though he could treat the tension, the body aches and even the uncomfortable churning of his stomach, there was absolutely nothing to ease the heat burning him to the core. It clung to him like a heatwave–it felt worse than even the days he had spent out at sea with Gi-Gan and her crew, when the days were smoldering and sweat dripped down his skin. Even then he could seek comfort in the shade of the mast or even slip below deck if there was little to do.
Jae-Ha thinks that he’s dying. He might not actually be dying, but who is to argue semantics when it feels as though fire itself licks hungrily at his skin with every moment of existence? When hot blades of steel sink through his mind with every inhale of air?
So truly, he’s as close to death as can be without literally taking his final breath.
“I swear, Jae-Ha, I have no idea what’s causing this.”
Yoon sighs, rolling up the cloth mat of tools and herbs in a relinquishing of effort. He’s tried everything twice over in stubborn attempts to help bring the man any relief from his symptoms, but absolutely nothing seems to work. No tea, no supplement, no medicine of any type that does more than curtail what always comes back in a matter of hours.
“As far as I know you’re healthy, just…”
He trails off into silence. Jae-Ha sighs after a few moments and pinches his fingers over the bridge of his nose; at least he’s gotten better at hiding the little nuances of discomfort that plague his body. A few days ago had him seething at the end of his mental restraint, but now he’s able to take most waves of searing heat in stride even as it all but rolls through his body like scorching lava.
“Don’t worry about it then,” he says at last, moving to his feet so sharply that he doesn’t miss the way Yuun flinches back from him. “Better to let it run its course than to keep using up what few medicinal resources we have right now.”
“But aren’t you in pain?”
Jae-Ha considers himself for a moment. Each breath is even, as easy to take in as any other, but yet each inhale feels like he’s pulling smoke into his lungs, the scent branding his thoughts so deeply that he can’t think about anything other than the sensations that plague his body. But where is it coming from?
“No,” he finally lies, brushing off both concern and a lock of hair that had fallen over his eyes.
It takes every ounce of his willpower to push down the ache that wrenches deep in his stomach, but the dragon warrior manages to hold a steady gaze as he turns back to Yuun. He offers the young man a simple wave in greatful farewell mere moments before his legs send him up into the sky above.
By the time Yuun can think to say anything, Jae-Ha is already too high up to hear him.
When something starts to seem off about Jae-Ha, you feel it more than you see it. The green dragon warrior was normally so casual and freespoken, but over the last few days you notice more and more that he’s distanced himself considerably from not only his fellow warriors, but also from Hak, Yuun, and even yourself.
While the others didn’t seem to notice the subtle differences, you could feel it like a knife slicing across your consciousness. Something was different . Something was wrong . Instinct started as a little whisper in the back of your thoughts, but has grown into a dull roar, calling you to action to find out what was troubling your green dragon warrior so deeply. Could he be feeling burdened by joining you and the others, leaving behind all of those people in Awa that had been like family to him?
Could he...even be feeling….hateful towards you?
No. Absolutely not. You had given great care to give each and every one of the warriors a choice. While each of them were compelled to follow you as heir to the Kouka kingdom, you did not want that to usurp their freedom as individuals.
But perhaps Jae-Ha did not feel the same, and his continued distance only furthered the worry gnawing at your mind until you simply couldn’t take it anymore--you had to talk to him. If he was truly feeling homesick and under the duress of his dragon blood forcing him alongside you, then you would do anything in your power to alleviate his woes and allow him safe return to the Water Clan’s territory.
With a mind made up and too stubborn for second thoughts, you decide to talk to the green dragon warrior the next chance that you get.
The treeline seems to always be within reach for the green dragon warrior, an easy avenue of escape when things get to be too much for him to bear.
Too much noise. Too many smells. Too many people.
Though he likes a bit of solid ground beneath his feet in some form, Jae-Ha always seems to find a suitable tree branch to sit himself upon with ease, high enough that he can’t be noticed from the ground, and out of the leaves enough so that he can stare up into the starlit night sky.
The stars, they looked especially beautiful above him. He might even describe them as peaceful, in any other circumstance. A sea of glittering dots within a sea of ever-expansive darkness, not quite unlike the lanterns of ships bedding down for the night as the last echoes of sunlight fade away on the horizon.
With the young Yuun’s words still bouncing around inside of his skull, Jae-Ha reserved himself to the unfamiliar waves of fire ravaging his body and soul alike. He certainly didn’t feel healthy, despite the boy’s assurance of the contrary. He knew no poison, drug or food that could cause such symptoms--if nothing else, they reminded him greatly of what one Awa pirate had described Nadai withdrawal to feel like.
Jae-Ha’s entire body shivered at the thought of the word. It’s implications meant more than he wanted to think about. Wanted to admit, even if it was to himself. After all, there was perhaps one important change in his life that could be the cause for the burning in his veins.
A certain person whose presence he can’t seem to get out of his thoughts no matter how hard he tries. A person who, whether he realized it or not, he had been avoiding since the waves of hot agony began.
The person who had become his master, who had earned his trust and admiration, who had made his blood boil with the utmost sense of passion and loyalty and adoration-
And just like that, another wave overtakes the man without warning, always starting like a wildfire from the very center of his chest before wrapping itself around his limbs and mind. Hot. Smoldering. It’s every bit as agonizing as what he thinks withdrawal to be and every bit as yielding in how it can reach into the depth of his soul and rip out the most stupid things.
The way his heartbeat skips when he sees you smile. The way his lips tremble when he wonders what yours might feel like against his, pressing deep and passionate beneath the tender light of a full moon.
The fire continues to sink into Jae-Ha’s bones as he entertains the rampaging fantasy.
A night like this would really be a good one for that, wouldn’t it? A smile breaks across the man’s face as he, smothered in a cold sweat and his heart racing so fast that it hurts, stares up at the moon shining bright above his head. Mocking him? Enticing him? Jae-Ha can’t say for certain which, but there’s a certain masochism to the notion that every little perverse thought of you, that special person, seems only to kindle the fire ever hotter.
Would you want the green dragon to take you gently? Roughly? Would you tempt him openly with fluttering lashes and gentle words, or would you take your pleasure from him while he plays the ever-loyal servant? The thought of being made to serve anyone makes his stomach churn and his jaw clench, but you?
You’re the exception. To a lot of things.
Jae-Ha thinks about how he first met you in Awa. Though you were with so little experience outside of being the heir to the Kouka kingdom, you showcased an immeasurable amount of courage above and beyond what he would have ever expected to find in his would-be master. Years of tall tales and assumptions had built up a very distasteful and sturdy portrait for what the crimson dragon king would be like in his return--powerful and unyielding, forcing his will on the four dragon warriors without so much as a care for their use beyond tools for war and bloodshed.
And with one single glance of his eyes into yours, one touch of your gentle hand upon his fevered forehead after his dragon blood’s enticement, that very portrait shattered into a million imperceivable pieces.
He would follow no other person with as much loyalty as he would for you. He would fight for nobody else, protect nobody else, long for nobody else-
The breeze picks up, pulling Jae-Ha out of his thoughts and leading him to the sudden realization that he was...no longer in pain. While the heat still laced through every vein of his body, the warrior couldn't find anything more than a dull ache echoing from his chest and legs. It even seemed to grow smaller by the second, fading away until only the heat itself remained fervent, his blood still boiling with emotions that he only then became aware were buried by it the entire time--denied, rejected, ignored.
Lust swept over him, twisting around the fiery heat in a tightly-braided cord which bound his limbs frozen and kept him still where he sat, as if unable to even breathe for a few terrifying heartbeats. Before Jae-Ha could stop it, the duo of sensations welled within his belly, coming to blossom with one aching, terrifying gasp of air.
Realization was all too quick to follow, now that he could recognize the emotions swirling around his soul. This heat, this agonizing torture that filled his veins in a way he could scarcely describe--was it a yearning to be with the new crimson ruler?
And not just to be with you, but to have you in ways that only instincts could understand, buried somewhere deep in Jae-Ha’s mind. Instincts to protect, to mark, to breed .
Instincts of a dragon. Unmistakable.
And that is when Jae-Ha, in his moment of carnal paralysis, finally realized that he could hear your voice calling to him from far below the branches. Your sweet voice, soft and worried and edging on fearful, calling his name in such a beautiful, breathtaking way that could make the very moon above bristle with jealousy.
Calling for him.
Calling for the green dragon.
Jae-Ha, Jae-Ha, Jae-Ha.
It was an impossible cry for the man to ignore.