The coral across his ankle had started small. It had been a tiny thing, at first. A single bloom of careful skeleton coral, beginning near the base of his heel like it grew bone roots into the ground with every step.
Thomas had thought it looked weak, at first. He’d barely recognized it as a mark, barely managed to find it in the stretch of a growing body.
But it was his, and he protected what was his, regardless of how weak. There was someone on the other end of that mark that belonged to him, and Thomas protected his property with the care of a dragon.
It was small, but he would care for it.
It was still small when he awoke as a hunter, barely bigger than his thumb. It grew as he did, but slow and quiet. Thomas looked at it and thought that it had the will to live, even if it didn’t have the strength. That was okay— he had the strength for both of them, woven into every piece of his body and bones. He would haul them both to the top, no matter how weak the coral was.
Thomas was the strongest for a reason, and he’d use that for his match too.
The coral was small, until it wasn’t. Years into the long days of hunting, it began too grow up his body, unstoppable and furious. The pale red of the old mark swirled into black and an electric blue, blooming up his leg to consume all the other tattoos he’d inked into his body.
Then it grew strong, and Thomas’s interest grew with it.
Then Jinwoo came, with two sharks swimming across strong arms that Thomas knew were his. Then Thomas lost in a fight for the first time in his life, knocked to the ground and forced to admit defeat.
He’d never wanted to touch someone more.
But Jinwoo wasn’t property, because Jinwoo could destroy him. Maybe he was Jinwoo’s instead, Thomas thought, and knew the coral that grew across his body every day whispered that to be truth.
Maybe Jinwoo was still his too, because the man was here and Thomas could feel a quiet happiness in every panting breath.
Jinwoo’s mark had been a tiny thing, just as the man had been. He still was in some ways, for all the power that lingered in his shadow. The man was half Thomas’s width, and barely came up to his collarbones. There was incredible strength lurking in the lines of Jinwoo’s body, but those thighs had to stretch wide to straddle his hips.
For all his strength, here, with him, Jinwoo was small.
Thomas ran gentle hands up Jinwoo’s legs to linger below his hips, a slow and easy smile spreading across his face. He felt hungry, and too hot, and like the luckiest man in the world. Jinwoo was smirking back at him, bright eyes sharp as daggers. They seemed to glow in the half-light of the hotel room, shimmering and electric.
They were beautiful.
He pressed his fingers down harder, just on the edge of bruising. The smirk grew wider, as if daring Thomas to mark Jinwoo if he could.
Thomas laughed, smile wide and unstoppable. The man was small, but Thomas couldn’t break him, not even like this. He wouldn’t want to, not when shadowy marks spread across his chest and bloomed electric.
A hand reached out, and with a flick of Jinwoo’s wrist Thomas’s glasses pulled from his face and shattered across the room. The light was brighter, without his glasses as shield and curtain.
If that had been anyone else, Thomas would have broken an arm for that move. If it had been anyone else, they wouldn’t have gotten close enough to his face to try.
For Jinwoo, for the coral that had grown up his back, for the hips that could fit in a single one of Thomas’s hands, he didn’t move.
Anything that made his heart beat faster was beautiful, but Jinwoo—
Jinwoo was lovely. Jinwoo was deadly, in a way that no one else in the world could manage. Thomas had fought dragons and beasts, ripped the fangs from monsters and the arms from men. He had reigned supreme for so long, but nothing ever compared to Jinwoo.
His arm throbbed, the tiniest ache a reminder of the only blow Jinwoo hadn’t held back on. It had healed, but for all that Thomas would never forget its strength. He rubbed his fingers in the dip of Jinwoo’s hips, fingers moving under the edge of the man’s pants to feel warm skin.
That blow had almost killed him. There was nothing that made his heart race faster.
Well, he thought, grin growing wider. Almost nothing. Jinwoo straddling his lap like he belonged there made his blood boil through his veins. The smirk lingering on Jinwoo’s face made his heart beat faster still.
It looked pleased, and teasing. It looked like the friendship they’d built between battles and admiration.
“We are wasting time,” the man said, hands reaching forward to grip Thomas’s shoulders. It wasn’t for stability, not when Jinwoo was powerful as a storm and twice as deadly. Nothing Thomas did could shake the man, not really. Thomas could destroy the entire city and not move Jinwoo an inch.
He laughed in response, quiet and genial. It rumbled out of his chest, like the surf on a fine ocean. He could almost feel the coral move with every breath, marking his ribs and the side of his body dark and stormy.
It marked him as Jinwoo’s too, and that was even better.
“It’s funny to worry about time, when we have all the time we want. What can disturb us?”
And it was true. They were the strongest fighters in the world, and nothing could touch them here. The man was being impatient.
Long fingers ran down his chest, deadly smooth and quietly warm. They danced across his skin, painfully light until they hit the coral growing up his ribs. Then they pressed down, and Thomas’s breath vanished with his thoughts.
He couldn’t have contained the groan if he wanted to.
It felt like Jinwoo had gripped his heart in lethal fingers, and squeezed to make it beat faster. It felt like a shot of pleasure straight into his veins, like the high won in the best fights and the shaking aftermath of a hard dungeon.
It felt good, and Thomas’s cock twitched for that touch.
After a long moment of careful exploration, Jinwoo pressed back, enough for fabric to rub across him and the length of his cock to twitch against the man’s ass.
It wasn’t enough, not with clothing between them. Thomas groaned with every piece of Jinwoo he touched, with every inch of him those hands ran over. He pressed his fingers down too, felt the lean muscle of a slender waist fit into his hands.
Jinwoo, for all his overwhelming strength, was so much smaller.
If Thomas thought anything could hurt Jinwoo, he would wonder if he could even fuck the man. Would he fit, when Jinwoo’s body was half his width? With anyone else, he’d let concern grow up his skin like coral building fresh cities over his ribs. With anyone else, Thomas would fuck their thighs instead.
With Jinwoo, he didn’t worry. The man had pressed him down, fingers a command and eyes sharp and glinting. He had demanded to see the mark, with the strength of a king and the stare that Thomas trusted in.
His clothes hadn’t lasted long after that, not when Jinwoo’s hands had roamed down the length of the coral blooming over his hips and leg. Fabric ripped easily under an S-ranked hunter’s fingers, and easier still under Jinwoo’s. Thomas felt a possessive thrill in his blood as the hands that had broken his skin lingered gentle and careful on his ribs.
He wasn’t used to waiting for the things he wanted. For as long as he’d lived, Thomas had always been able to take them. That was the strength of the best hunter in the world, the strength of a god among men.
But for Jinwoo, he’d wait. For Jinwoo, he stayed still under quiet exploration. He wasn’t unmoving either, not when he could run big hands across the body in front of him.
Jinwoo’s clothes ripped just as easily now, the sound loud in the silence. Thomas moved them away with strong fingers, relishings the press of skin on hot skin, of the warmth of Jinwoo’s thighs around his hips as the man shifted.
He relished the amused smirk he got more, and smiled wider in response.
Strong fingers pressed down again, this time over the stretch of his ribs. Thomas let out a long breath as they rubbed over his mark, shifted to pull Jinwoo closer. The man let him, strong body moving under the request of his fingers.
Thomas wanted, so very dearly.
“I want to hunt with you,” Thomas said, the words coming up from his throat in what would be a command for anyone else.
For Jinwoo, it was a request.
“I don’t need you to fight monsters,” the man said, rolling his hips in a slow motion designed to tease. Bare skin pressed against his cock, the last shreds of Jinwoo’s pants falling away with the motion.
The man’s hips were so small.
“I know. I just want to see you in action. I want to be there.” Thomas laughed, thick with hunger. He shifted to hold Jinwoo’s waist with a single hand, fingers stretching out to cradle the supple curve of a strong hip. With the other, he reached up to rub his fingers across the sharks swimming on Jinwoo’s skin.
The feel of danger swirled deadly as shadows.
Jinwoo’s eyes went dark as storm clouds in a single heartbeat, the hands on his skin pressing down hard enough to bruise for a heartbeat. Thomas didn’t flinch, even when the blood in his skin caught fire and death straddled his lap like it was comfortable.
For a single moment, it looked like Jinwoo might lose control.
“Enough,” the man said, pressing harder into Thomas’s skin. The coral seemed to bloom after the bruises, shadows swirling to follow Jinwoo’s marks. Jinwoo was the only one to mark him in so long that Thomas could only feel a thrill.
“I’m going to ride you,” came the next order, Jinwoo’s eyes cutting into Thomas’s skin and staring him down. It looked like the man could see through him, lightning catching across the space between them and burning fresh bruises into his ribs.
Thomas only grinned wider.
“I’m not going to stop you, beautiful.”
The man paused half way to kneeling up, fingers just touching the edge of Thomas’s cock. He groaned, felt them curl slick and deadly around him. He didn’t know where Jinwoo had gotten lube, but he wasn’t surprised the man had done it without him noticing.
Nothing was past Jinwoo’s skill.
“Well, yeah. You make my heart race. Really, damn beautiful.”
There was a heartbeat of absolute silence, as Jinwoo stared down at him. Thomas waited, as he always would for this man, rubbing strong fingers across the mark on Jinwoo’s arm.
He let his thoughts linger on how Jinwoo’s hand couldn’t fit all the way around his cock, or how wide the man’s knees were spread around him. Long lines of unmarked skin stretched out in the light, but for all his hunger Thomas couldn’t take his hands off Jinwoo’s skin long enough to pinch at the man’s nipples.
The mans eyes burned, but Thomas had never been afraid of fire.
“Americans,” Jinwoo said, guiding the tip of Thomas’s cock to his hole. He began sinking down, slow as a knife sinking between ribs.
Thomas felt like his heart was going to burst out of his chest. His fingers twitched across the hips before him, and he stayed steady and still with the force of will he’d earned in battle. Jinwoo’s fingernails were scraping his mark, and with each sting of sensation his cock throbbed.
It was so much.
“Beautiful,” he said again, over the pain on his ribs. Beautiful, he said, as the man sank down to the hilt. Jinwoo was panting, a light sheen glinting across the man’s deadly body. Even a hunter like him wasn’t unaffected by the stretch. Thomas wasn’t unaffected either, not when he could see how big his cock was, and how small Jinwoo looked in comparison.
He rubbed across the sharks and felt their teeth prickle at his fingers. He felt Jinwoo clench down around him too, take a dangerous breath. Each tiny motion lit Thomas’s skin on fire, burning him with pleasure and the heat of Jinwoo’s body. Every twitch of strong fingers across the coral made him shift too, twitching and pleasurably damned. Jinwoo’s eyes looked dark and deadly, and the hints of powerful shadows stained the bed beneath them in a threat.
Truly, the most beautiful thing Thomas had ever seen.
“If making your heart race is what it takes to be beautiful,” Jinwoo said, voice heavy with threat. It was breathless enough to almost be moaning. “Then I can make that happen more.”
Thomas laughed and groaned, as the man lifted up. His cock looked so big, sinking into Jinwoo’s tight body. It felt big too, as big as Thomas felt compared to the lean muscle of Sung Jinwoo.
Jinwoo could throw him across a city, but Thomas’s hands were so much bigger. He couldn’t stop smiling at the sight, a possessive happiness bubbling across his throat. The man looked so beautiful, panting around his cock.
“You already are,” he said, and the fingers on his ribs pressed harder.
The coral across his ankle had started small, but it had grown as Jinwoo did— fierce and unstoppable.
Thomas thought it was beautiful.