Gi: Fairness

In the morning, they train. A simple breakfast - Jensen likes toast (which is expensive here) and eggs (which aren't), a leftover western habit - and then Jensen takes his student into the dojo, and they work up a sweat. Jared tries hard to impress him, and he does, a bit. He thinks he knows more than he does, of course, but he is a good warrior.

Jensen knows it from his own studies, that everybody who is going to learn must learn two things: first, how to be a student; and second, what it is that they came to study. Jared is a terrible learner in the beginning, reckless and obstinate, but that is to be expected. As they come to trust each other, Jensen knows, the real learning will begin. Training is one kind, where Jared will learn that Jensen has control enough to not hurt him, and trust him that way. The rest will come when they are first intimate with each other - when Jared learns that he is able to wield a certain control over the master, as well. That is the nature of shudo, why it is so effective a teaching method.

Of course, it would be easier if Jared were not nervous about it. Jensen can tell - he will touch for only so long as is required, and no longer. His heart beats too fast, his skin too pink.

Later, over lunch, Jared seems to relax. He laughs again, a more moderate one than before, but still good. Still warming.

Jensen asks him again about where he's from. How long was he there, how did he come to Japan.

Jared fills him in on the story. "We always lived in San Antone, Mama worked in the schoolhouse but sometimes she'd go up to the Japanese embassy, I didn't know why. When I was about sixteen, Mama come home cryin and said we was gonna pack up and move, I didn't know where till we were over the ocean. Never saw anything so blue in my life. I sure never expected to see Japan when we touched down, that's for damn sure. I thought maybe Thailand or Canton, y'know, someplace a little cheaper, a little less safe. We came into the Tokyo airport and. Well, Mama says now it's the longest she's ever heard me be quiet at one time."

Jensen thinks perhaps this explains why his young student is so skittish - Westerners can be a simplistic people, valuing only the material and practical. He is a Westerner himself, after all; it took him some time to accept the idea of shudo. Why it should be so emphasized that there be friendship, even love, that the bond between teacher and student be so strong.

Jensen's own shudo teacher, in days long gone now, was patient with his own flaws. He would ill-repay his master to fail Jared.

He takes Jared's hands in his own and holds them, palm up. "I know this is strange to you," he says. "If you told me why it makes you so uncomfortable, it could be easier for us."

Jared squeezes his hands and says he's not nervous, no sir. He meets Jensen's eyes straight on and leans in fast to kiss him - it's hopelessly awkward and Jensen suppresses the urge to laugh again. Jared is trying so hard, it's...

He kisses his student, of course, trying to make it a little better. Jared seems to take the hint after a second or two and pulls back, eyes downcast. "That sucked, I'm sorry."

"Don't be," Jensen says, trying to keep the smile out of his voice. "You don't trust me yet; why would you? Be patient, it'll come." He lets go of Jared's sweaty hands and Jared rubs them on his own thighs, and then over his face. "Give it time," Jensen tells him. "Come on, let's hit the books."

Jared sends him a grateful look and they get up and head for the library. On the way, Jensen replays the last words he said - he hasn't spoken that way in years.

In the library, Jared again impresses. He doesn't know many poets or artists or authors, but he is nevertheless intuitive and sharp. He understands how words fall together, he can deduce and distill meaning from even the most opaque verses, and he has a way of putting things that seems to Jensen both simple and profound.

Jensen thinks of Confucius, and smiles. He mentions it to Jared, this talent - perhaps Jared has heard of Confucius, he says, joking a little - and Jared laughs again, a little wider.

Jensen privately promises himself that he will break that stone open, and when he does, there will flow a river.

Jared grins and tells him, in English, "Confucius say baseball is wrong - man with four balls cannot walk."

Jensen laughs, he can't help it.

They study a while longer - Jared makes more jokes and Jensen tries to get him to focus, which he seems oddly comfortable with - and then go for a run. Jared chases ahead, yelling that Jensen should hurry up, old man, and Jensen jogs along sedately, not bothering to warn Jared that he's about to trip over a knot in the path until it's too late and he's sprawled on his back in the middle of the trail. Jensen runs right past his glower, barely even smiling.

They eat dinner again, and fight over politics. Jared insists that feudal shogunates are unfair, the land should be ruled by the people. Jensen thinks that's retarded - why allow people who have never studied politics, law, history or ethics to rule everybody? That would be rule by whim, the world would sink into sin. Jared retorts that the world is already sunk in sin, it's not like everyone is as honorable as the samurai, and Jensen says at least the ruling class is forced to abide by those dictates. Jared scoffs, they fight some more, but it's a completely enjoyable thing. They fight, and eat simple food, and enjoy one another's company.

Jensen is quietly proud - his choice was remarkable. This man has true potential, he is a good man and he has the will and the intelligence to be better.

After dinner, they bathe.

Bathing is one of Jensen's favorite times of day. His home is blessed with a large onsen, with two indoor baths as well as one rotenburo, lined with rocks and fed from a nearby hot spring.

He and Jared strip down in the wood antechamber and wash up, spraying off the grime of the trail and the soap from their hair. They shave - Jensen takes care not to look over; he'd like to preserve some mystery for the bedroom - and when they're clean-faced and clean-bodied, they wrap themselves in towels and head for the tubs.

There are three women, kitchen staff, talking quietly in one of the wide indoor tubs. That's fine, as Jensen has become accustomed to the other tub, the warmer of the two, tiled in a beautiful mosaic, with room for five or six. He leaves his towel on the bench and slides into the water, letting it close right over his shoulders and sink in, easing away the strain of the day. The water waves as Jared sinks down nearby, and they share a sigh.

They soak for a bit together, and eventually Jensen murmurs that Jared will have to try the rotenburo while it's still cool outside - but only if he can handle the hot spring.

Jared laughs, low and quiet, and Jensen imagines he can feel the vibration of it travel right through the water. "I can if you can," Jared smiles, and Jensen breathes deeply.

When they're ready, they stand and wrap themselves in the towels again.

"Brace yourselves, ladies," Jensen warns, and the girls duck down under the water as he rolls open the door, the cold night air rushing in past his feet.

There are some who would consider his mingling with his staff in the bathing area to be downright scandalous. Class to class, they would say haughtily, we shan't associate with the peasantry. Screw them, Jensen thinks. Here at High House, the staff is quite small - three kitchen staff, three house staff, one priest who also restores the artwork, two gardeners/farmers and the majordomo - and Jensen encourages them all to think of each other as family. He is the lord of the house, it's true, but pater familias, in a way. He would never fraternize with any of the women, it would be immoral. And so they all bathe together, it is custom. It's understood that Jensen gets his way in all things, because he's the one who brings home the bacon, but that's where the respect stems from. He works beside them sometimes to bring in the food they grow, and he accompanies them on the day's journey into town sometimes, talking to them like they're people. He knows their names and their lives, he's a good master.

He and Jared run out onto the snowy deck and climb quickly into the hot spring. It's like lava on Jensen's skin - perfect.

"Shit, shit," curses his student, and Jensen smiles to hear it. "How do you do this, senseidono? This isn't water, it's hell!"

Jensen figures he can blame the flush on the hot water, but really it's hearing Jared call him by the relationship instead of by his name. 'My lord and teacher,' this is different than 'honored mister Ackles.'

"You'll get used to it, Jeichan," Jensen says softly, and feels a certain primal satisfaction as he watches the blush climb Jared's cheeks, the intimate nickname declaring Jensen's purpose.

Jared all but tries to sink under the water. Of course, that's impossible, with the water as hot as it is, so he must settle for letting his shoulders slide in and pretending to be a turtle.

Jensen lies back against the rocks and watches the steam rise, past the tranquil garden and up to the roof. He can feel the pulse of blood through his body, the pleasurable pool of it in his hips. His cock rests half hard against his thigh and he breathes deeply, letting the currents and eddies of the spring move him as they will. He thickens and readies, but it's not an urgent need. He can wait for his young charge to be ready to come to him, he thinks, it's more pleasant to wait.

The water does its work, soothing the tension away, and soon enough Jared is letting his arms float on the water, letting it support his shoulders and head and almost sleeping.

"Bedtime," Jensen says, and he can almost feel the thickness of his tongue, the laziness of his lips as he drawls in the accents of the place he still thinks of as home.

Jared tenses, but Jensen's already rising, turned away so as not to intimidate. "I'll see you in the morning, all right?"

Jared mumbles something which Jensen takes to mean "yes," and that's good enough for now. He wraps the towel around his hips and tells Jared he can stay as long as he likes before heading back into the house.

~

Later in his bedroom, he can't sleep. His body refuses to rebalance itself; his muscles are relaxed and warm but his belly is tight. He thinks of Jared's broad, tall body, of the rounded curve of his hip and the sun-warmed color of his skin. He thinks of that first kiss, of the precise quality of awkward - is he simply nervous because Jensen is new to him, or has he never had a man in his bed?

These thoughts keep Jensen awake as much as he'd like to be sleeping, but a bond with one's shudo student is to be expected. It's right that he feels this way. So he slides his hand under the sheets and takes hold of the source of his discomfort, and with a few moments gentle treatment, he finds himself wanting, hard and ready.

It is frowned on, a little. Warriors often spend much of their time alone, so there is nothing shameful about doing for yourself when there is none other, but it is considered a waste of energy to succumb too often to such desires. In moderation, as in all things, sex is a beneficial and healthy activity, but one must be on guard against addiction, against distraction from one's true goals and against a lack of self-discipline.

Jensen does not often indulge in sex. Whether by himself or with someone else, he is often simply too busy - he has a house to run and his training to keep up, and he is called upon at times by the shogun to go into the field, to duel or champion or even lead raiding parties, at times. His duties leave little time for dalliance.

He could deny himself this comfort, he thinks, stroking gently. But part of his early training broke him of doing that to himself too often. He knows the right course, now, and it is to leave Jared to come to terms with things on his own. If that leaves Jensen feeling frustrated, he might become waspish with his student, and that would be a terrible offense - a crime against the trust he is trying to build.

So Jensen sets his jaw and determines that he will do this now, and in the morning he will come to Jared relaxed and prepared.

This isn't usual for him, to feel the hot, damp places pressed against his palm. He catches his lower lip between his teeth and flicks back the bedding, lets his legs fall open a little and squeezes, testing.

He's forced to take a few deep breaths, heavy and satisfying. It's a good weight in his hand, and for a second he imagines it's Jared that he's holding, Jared who's holding him. That long, tall body would block out the moonlight. Jensen promises himself there and then that when he gets Jared in this bed and they each hold the other just like this, that he will make Jared kiss him. He wants to feel the shivering breath against his mouth; he wants to put his arm around Jared's shoulders and hold him down as they push into each other's fingers.

Jensen makes his hand tight and round, running his fingers over the head of his cock and pressing the sheath of skin back and forth. It's good, so good, he forgot how it slid down his spine and tightened his body, like fighting. He wonders if Jared is whole here, or if he's been cut like Jensen's heard they do in the more barbarian parts of the west. If he is, Jensen promises himself that he won't shy from it - he'll put his mouth on the scar and show Jared that it doesn't matter.

In his mouth, either way, he thinks. He drags his fingers up his cock and over the head, pressing tight as his throat hitches and his back arches, pure instinct. He can almost feel the thick drag against his tongue, he wants it, wants to hear Jared's sounds as he does it. He wants to watch Jared offer it to him, see the knowledge in those deep eyes that Jensen will never hurt him, Jensen will keep him safe and teach him only, and there will be no need to be shy anymore.

It's good, it's very good - the heat, the tight need to push his hips and curl his toes, he'd forgotten. It builds slow, though, shivering through him and rising when he least expects it, until he's panting and his nipples are peaked in the cool air, and he can't remember how it got to be like this.

He wonders if Jared might be doing this now, in the bedroom Jensen gave him. If he might be that comfortable, to do that in his new home - if he wants Jensen like this, if he might have been looking in the bath the same as Jensen was.

Did he like the paleness, against the darkness of his own skin? Did he wonder what it would look like together, side-by-side?

Jensen has. Jensen is. And as he shoves up, pulling and pressing at just the right places and panting into the still night air, that's when he feels the throb along his skin - along every bruise and bump that raised fighting Jared in the dojo this morning. And it's like every one of those marks is Jared's hands, his mouth, like he's here in the bed with Jensen right this moment learning how to give and trust and come, and Jensen hears his own voice catch against the windows and walls as he jerks and throbs and comes into his fist.

~

Deep in the green of the mountain, Jensen unholsters one of his pistols. He flips the safety off and smiles at his student, then points to a far-off tree.

"Can you hit that?" He asks.

Jared laughs and pulls out his own gun, a veritable hand cannon with a thick, heavy barrel. He aims and fires, the sound explodes through the valley just as bark splinters from the tree. Jared returns his weapon to its sheath and raises an eyebrow.

Jensen keeps smiling. "Not that."

He lifts one of his own weapons, sights down the barrel and squeezes off a single round. It slams into the tree trunk as the report fires back through the air, and Jared spreads his hands. "What?"

"Shh," Jensen says, laying a finger to his lips. "Listen."

The tone is almost too soft to hear, but it is there - Jared narrows his eyes at the tree and, shocked, watches the coin spin around and around on its string, its center hollow widened by bullets, singing of the samurai on the mountain.

~

When Jared has been at the kasho for a full week, Jensen decides to celebrate. When they're done with the day's final sparring session, Jensen invites his student into the study. Jared flops down onto the big red armchair, tired, and Jensen goes to his smallish wet bar. When he comes back, he carries a silver tray with a bottle of sake and two cups.

"I thought we might indulge a little," he smiles.

Jared looks up at him with relief and smiles back. "Thank god, I hope you don't mind me sayin, but damn. I was sure it was gonna be, like, meditation time, or... beatin' me with sticks time, something." Jensen laughs as he sets the sake tray on the little end table. Carefully, he pours one of the little cups and hands it off - he watches, amused, as Jared raises it. "Kempei," he murmurs, puts back half of it in one go, and then holds out his hands for the tray.

Jensen nods, impressed and pleased, and gives it to him.

As Jared pours into Jensen's cup, he laughs a little. "More tests," he says wryly.

"It's an important thing to know," Jensen allows, sitting down. He takes the cup when it's offered and returns the toast. They settle back in their chairs, and Jared crosses his long legs. Jensen watches the shift under the thick, heavy cloth, and allows his mind to idly wander underneath, just for a second.

Jared clears his throat, and drinks some more. "Aah. That's good."

"We make it here," Jensen tells him, with not a little pride. "There's a modest brewery about a half hour's walk west."

"No kiddin," Jared says, but Jensen can see he's not really interested. Instead, he polishes off the rest of his drink and sets the little cup on the arm of the chair, tracing his finger thoughtfully around the rim. "Sensei," he says, hesitant. "Can I ask a question?"

"Of course," Jensen says.

Jared doesn't look at him, dark hair falling into his eyes and brows drawn together. When he turns to look over at Jensen, the spark that cuts through the air is almost tangible. "Why'd you pick me?" He asks. "Raidon Satoko would have made a much better -"

Jensen holds up his hand. "Stop."

Jared raises an eyebrow, but stops talking.

"Raidon Satoko," Jensen says carefully, "is an asshole."

There is a startled silence, and then Jared laughs - giggles, really. He beams that huge smile that Jensen's learning to really like, he slaps a hand over his belly with a warm thump, and he makes this tight, laughing face that Jensen's only see once or twice. His student loves to laugh; he can be as cautious as he likes, but Jensen can see it. "God," he gasps. "It's true, he's such a dick. I mean, beg your pardon, but I wasn't expecting you to. Y'know."

Jensen smiles, an amused little smirk. "There's no point in being coy about it. Truth is truth. But still," he adds, sighing a little. "I would have chosen him. There were a dozen very good reasons for me to choose him."

Jared's looking at him now, listening and ready.

And Jensen shrugs. "You're a better man. I could have chosen politically, I could have taught Raidon to think and grow and learn. I could have chosen him because of who his family was, or how much money they had. What they could do for me."

Jared's eyes narrow, shrewd. "No, you couldn't."

Jensen smiles into his sake cup. "When you're right..."

There is a pleasant silence that follows. Jared is quietly glowing with pride, and Jensen decides to allow that for the moment - plenty of time to beat him with sticks later. As it stretches, Jared leans forward to put his empty cup on the tray, and Jensen immediately leans forward to take the tokkuri and pour him some more. Their fingers brush, and Jared freezes before carefully drawing away.

Jensen pours, schooling his face so he shows no reaction. "Someday," he murmurs, "you will have to tell me why the idea bothers you so."

"It doesn't bother me," Jared says, immediate and defensive.

Jensen waits, raising an eyebrow at the sake cups.

There is a small, squirming silence, and then Jared sighs. "Maybe it bothers me a little."

Jensen leans back on the seat to wait some more, calm and patient.

"Say somethin, will ya?" Jared grouses, shoving a hand through his hair. It's all pushed back off his forehead for a minute, and Jensen sees for the first time that Jared has a perfect widow's peak.

For some reason, indefinable, he finds that ridiculously attractive. "Something like what?" he asks absently.

Those broad shoulders draw in a little as Jared sinks deeper into the chair. "I don't know. Something so I don't feel like. I don't know. You always know what to say, right? You're the teacher."

Jensen looks away when he smiles this time, so Jared won't be hit by it full blast, but he can't hold his tongue. "I will teach you many things, Jeichan."

"Dammit," Jared cusses, and he stands up and paces the floor, fast and irritable.

It's been forever since Jensen heard that word, and it makes his stomach clench. "What is it, Jeichan? Say what bothers you."

"You gotta call me that?" Jared demands, his English gravelly and rough amongst the silks and carpets. "I mean, I know you gotta. Y'know. But I don't know why we gotta be so."

Jensen's mind fills in the words that finish those sentences, and he folds his hands and waits. He's not about to make this easy for his student, that's not what learning is about.

But his patience is tested, just a little, when Jared stops facing the wall and puts his hands behind his neck, stretching out the frustration. The long lines of his body are perfect, his thighs curving just right under the rough sheath of his kimono, his arms bunching the fabric up into folds. Thick, dark curls curve across his hands.

"I admit," Jensen breathes. "You do tempt me."

Jared spins to face him, and Jensen sees the same pink coloring his cheeks that appears in the dojo. "I don't mean to," he says plaintively. "I'm not tryin to mess you up or anything."

"I know," Jensen says, and it is a real effort not to stand up.

"So why?" Jared demands, his hands open to the air, as though it will answer him. "Maybe it's just a dumb tradition. Maybe it's like when they forbid samurai to use guns cause it wasn't traditional, y'know? Maybe they oughta rethink the whole thing."

Jensen bows his head. "You do not wish to learn from me anymore, then." There is a silence in which Jensen tries to look contrite and sad, and not amused.

"What?" Jared says, sounding horrified. "No. No, I never said that. You're the best samurai in the whole damn world."

"But y-"

"Hey, I said I'd do it and I will. Let's go, baby, let's do it right now, I'm good. I'm great." Jared crosses the floor and kneels down, his jaw set at a determined angle, and Jensen has to actually bite the inside of his cheek so he won't laugh.

"Jeichan. " Jared's hands actually make it to the ties of his obi, tugging at it, before Jensen can catch his wrists to stop him, but by that time it's too late and he's laughing quietly. "Jeichan, stop."

Those dark brows knot for a moment, like Jared's trying to be mad, trying to work up a good pissed-off funk. But as Jensen just can't stop laughing, not even long enough to talk, his student's efforts crumble and he is forced to bow his head and chuckle a little at himself.

"Guess that wasn't exactly pushin your buttons, huh?"

Jensen can't help it, he laughs all over again, and it's not long before Jared's laughing with him properly. They wind up out of breath and smiling at each other, Jensen on the sofa and Jared on the floor, sprawled out and relaxed.

"It's a question of trust," Jensen explains kindly. "You have to trust that I'll teach you good stuff, trust me to give value to everything we do together, no matter how retarded it seems. No matter how afraid you are, you need to have faith in me. If you don't, you'll fuck up everything else I show you. That's why shudo is the way it is."

Jared leans back on his hands and thinks about that. "So it's just basically the scariest thing they could think of to foist off on a guy."

"Sort of," Jensen allows. "That's not all there is to it, but it sure is one way to weed out the cowards."

"I ain't no coward," Jared says firmly, leaning back with confidence.

"I know you aren't, believe me."

They lounge for a bit more, and then Jensen narrows his eyes. "So. Really, this time. What is it that gets under your skin about it?"

Jared stares off into the corners of the room, thoughtful. "It's just. I guess I always thought of it as. Okay. The right girl's supposed to be your whole life, y'know, there's something else to that. You're supposed to provide and be a man about it, if that makes sense. But if it was a guy?" He shakes his head.

Jensen carefully stays relaxed. "Yeah?" He prompts. "If it was a guy?"

Jared presses his mouth closed for a second, and his brows knit again. "I guess it seems like it's just. Too open, maybe. There's no reason to do it, nothing that'll stick. Why invite something in that'll just be a temporary thing? Seems like all there is for you to do is lose."

Jensen chews on the inside of his lip and thinks. "I'm not sure that makes sense... try it again?"

Rubbing a hand over his face, Jared sighs. "What I'm saying is. Why invite all that bullshit - people judging you and lookin at you like that, maybe get your heart broke - just to fuck? No, the normal way's safer, man, by a long, long shot. Something like this, it's like asking the world to kick you in the balls. There's scared, and then there's stupid."

Jensen thinks about that. No matter which way he turns it, it sounds like the same thing, and the more he thinks about it, the more pissed off he gets. "Hm."

There's a moment when it seems Jared might start talking again, but he must glance at Jensen's face or something, because there is only a tiny sound, and then nothing for a long moment. Finally, very quietly, he offers, "Not what you were lookin for, I guess."

"No," Jensen says. "It wasn't."

Still very quiet, Jared nods. "Sorry."

Jensen allows that, nodding just once and then thinking about it some more, phrasing his response in his head. It has to be just right. It has to make exactly the point he wants it to.

When he's ready, he sits up straight. "Jeikun," he says deliberately, and thumps the cushion beside him. "Come sit here. There is no need to sit at my feet, you are not a child."

Jared stands and comes over, sits down carefully. Jensen can see him try not to be too stiff or too relaxed, but he waits for instruction like a proper student. Jensen reaches over and takes his chin, moves so they face each other. "I want you to listen," he says, and settles back against the sofa. Obediently, Jared pays attention.

"When I was younger I had a shudo teacher. I know him now, I have tremendous respect for him. There is nothing that anybody could do to pull us apart; I would give my life for his in a heartbeat. If it was said he killed the Emperor himself, I would not believe it. I would listen to him first, I would give him every chance I could make for him." Jared's face is apologetic, eager to give in. He knows his duty, but Jensen wants him to understand. "Do you know who my sensei was?"

Jared puts up a hand between them, palm out. "Senseidono, please, I don't need to kn-"

"It was Toshiro-san," Jensen tells him, firm and serious, overriding him completely. "I have known the general in every way."

Jared winces, pulling his hand back, but Jensen is relentless.

"Do you think less of him? Or me? Do you think I am ashamed of him, of what he taught me?"

"No," Jared says immediately, not thinking. "Of course not."

And Jensen leans forward and slides his hand into the hair at the base of Jared's neck. He forces those surprised eyes to meet his, pushes his face right up close, leaning across the space between them so their faces are just inches apart, and he pins Jared to the seat with his gaze. "I learned more from Toshiro Mifune than I did from my own father. No gift I have been given has greater value to me than the time I spent with him, there is no friendship I prize more. It will last until stone crumbles. It is stronger than steel and more flexible than a willow branch. I can ask him for anything, and he may ask me, there is no comfort we have not offered each other. He has healed me more times than I can remember. And you would ask me not to share that with you because of the way men will look at you?"

Jared says nothing. His eyes are wide, his breath short, and he doesn't speak so much as one word.

Jensen releases his hair and leans forward, letting his eyes drift to half-closed. He feels Jared's breath on his lips, feels the way the body beneath him is relaxing, preparing. "You think on that," he whispers.

And then he leans back, and stands. "Enough for one night," he says, in formal Japanese. "I will see you in the morning, Jeichan. Good night."

And he turns on his heel, and he leaves.

The first thing he does when he gets into his bedroom is strip off his kimono and get his hand on his cock. He leaves the fabric where it falls and tumbles into bed, stripping himself fast and hard until he comes, shaking, with the image of his student shivering under him burning against the back of his eyes.

~

In the morning, Jared is late to breakfast. For a few minutes, Jensen thinks he isn't coming, but he rushes in about five minutes late, his hair unbrushed. When he first got here, he sat down at the end of the long table, but lately he has taken to sitting at Jensen's right hand so they can talk. Now, Jensen watches him hesitate at the foot of the table before resolutely turning his face and walking up to his usual spot. He gives a short little greeting bow and then sits down on his pillow, cross-legged.

Jensen watches him patiently, assessing. The tousled head is bowed, and when Jared looks up, he is unsure and hesitant. "Sensei. I want to apologize for last night."

There is a pause in which Jared looks hopeful, but Jensen only folds his hands in his lap and waits.

So Jared sighs. "I didn't. I didn't mean to challenge you."

"Yes, you did," Jensen corrects.

But Jared looks at him, imploring. "No, I'm dead serious. The practice is one thing, but if you say." He pauses, breathes in and out to calm himself. "If you say it is important, senseidono, then I trust you. You're gonna have to help me through the rough parts, I mean. I'm a little..." He trails off, and shrugs, his head bowed.

"Say it," Jensen softly commands.

Another deep breath, in and out, and Jared groans. "I'm a little scared. It freaks me out. But I trust you, so I'm gonna try."

Jensen nods once, and folds his hands. Now his student is ready. Now that he has given that trust and accepted that his fate lies with Jensen's, now he may truly learn. The silence is peaceful, serene, at one with the-

"This whole yoda thing you got goin on isn't exactly boostin up the old confidence, senseidono."

Jensen can't help it, he busts out laughing. The peace is shattered, and Jared gives him an annoyed glance, but he can't stop. "I might be older than you, student, but I'm not green."

Jared beams at him and then Masi comes in with breakfast, and they eat and talk about the day.

~

They are in the dojo one morning, the dew still on the leaves. As Jared attacks, trying time and again to get through Jensen's defense, he gets more and more frustrated. Block, parry, Jensen will never strike back except little jabs to humiliate and sting, and this has gone on for a week.

"When are you gonna start teaching me," he demands, angry.

"When will you start learning?" Jensen replies, with a lazy shrug.

Jared aims another flurry of blows at his head, strike, strike, block, punch. Jensen deftly slides his hands aside, barely even registering. Jared is flushed, sweating, and Jensen smiles just a little.

And then Jared's fingers curl in the collar of Jensen's shirt. The fists, heavy, they could rip the cotton and Jensen could be away in a blink, but perhaps that isn't what this is about. He allows Jared to drag him closer, and watches those wide, soft lips part.

"Am I learning?" He asks, heavy lashes fanned over his cheeks as he moves a hand down Jensen's side.

"Perhaps," Jensen says, and lets two fingertips drift down Jared's stomach. The shiver is gratifying, but Jensen stops at his waist, not wanting to push too far before it's time.

"Senseidono," Jared murmurs, so close that Jensen can almost feel the brush of lips against his own.

"Jeichan," he replies, barely a whisper. His hands rest on Jared's waist and he lowers his eyes in deference. "Have you chosen me now?"

Jared slides a hand up and around the back of his neck. "I don't know," he says, and Jensen can hear the truth in it. "I chose you to teach me the ways of the samurai back when I was just a kid. Ain't nobody in the whole damn Empire that can match up to you. But I never thought this was part of the package."

Jensen blinks at him, meeting his gaze. "When you were young," he says, piecing it together. "You wanted me then?"

"Not like that," Jared says, rolling his eyes. When he meets Jensen again, their gazes clashing in the stillness, there is no hint of a smile. "Not like I do now."

Jensen takes a deep breath to steady himself. "You can have me," he says. "As I will have you. It will make us brothers, and more than brothers."

"Believe me," Jared says, his voice like thorns in a deep well. "I know what it'll do." He lets go of Jensen's shirt and steps in closer, pressing his cheek to Jensen's head. He licks his lips, and his stubble catches Jensen's hair. "I. If I want it, then what? How do we."

"Are you innocent?" Jensen asks, only half-joking. "I would not have thought it."

Jared laughs a little. "Innocent, me? Nah, don't think so."

"Good," Jensen smiles, slipping his hands down to settle on Jared's waist. "It takes too much time, otherwise, and I am starting to think that if I don't get under your belt soon I might just up and die."

Jared groans and presses against him. "I like when you talk like that," he says.

"Your own fault," Jensen breathes back, pressing up tight. They stand on the dojo mats, right in the center of the wide room, and fit their bodies together for the first time, to see if they match.

They do.

Jensen takes his student to his rooms. When he arrived here, the master's bedroom had in it a real wooden bed, carved and beautiful. So extravagant, to have a space, a piece of furniture exclusively for sleeping, but Jensen can afford it. There is no shortage of space in the mountains. His futons are aired daily, of course, but they are stored on his bed, laid out flat and ready for him at any time.

It is here, into his white sheets, that he draws Jared down.

Jared takes off his own shirt and then reaches for Jensen's chest, but hesitates before he can touch. "Is this. I don't know what I'm supposed to do."

Jensen smiles and sits up, pulling his jacket away. "First," he says, "kissing. I will teach you how, if you have never been taught."

Jared makes a face. "I've kissed," he says, huffy.

"I'm sure you have," Jensen soothes. "But that doesn't mean you know how."

Jared's eyes fall closed, just a little, as he leans back against Jensen's white pillows. He reaches out and takes Jensen's hand, draws him in and down. "Well go on, then, senseidono," he murmurs. "Teach me how to kiss you."

Jensen shivers, and presses his mouth softly against Jared's. It's warm and almost sleepy, like summer dawning, full of promise. He slips his tongue against those lips, asking for entry, and Jared opens and accepts him. It's just how it should be, Jensen thinks, his palm skating down. He tastes sweetness on those lips, like ripe fruit, and he wants more.

Jared's hands are on him now, ruffling his feathers. They grip Jensen's shoulder, slide through his hair and press him closer - Jensen feels himself rousing to that touch, learning it.

"How do I touch you?" Jared rasps. "Tell me."

"My Jeichan," Jensen whispers against his mouth, working Jared's knotted belt apart. "When will you learn not to wait for everything to come to you?"

He slides his hand down, beneath the white fabric, and Jared gasps and stills. "Sensei, help me," he says, quiet and strained. "I want..."

"Don't deny it," Jensen whispers in his ear, kissing the strong jaw as he works his hand up and around, squeezing tight. "May as well say that it is night when the sun shines." Jared twists up, biting his lip and curling his hands into fists, and Jensen leans down to kiss his collarbone, and lower. "You know what you want," he says, letting his lips brush against the short, coarse hair that covers Jared's chest.

Jared growls, just a little, and brings his hands up to thread in Jensen's hair. He tries to pull, get Jensen where he wants him, but Jensen goes only grudgingly lower, only a little. Jared pants at him, irritable: "You said to take it."

"Ask me nice," Jensen smiles, opening his mouth so softly over of one of Jared's nipples.

Jared growls again, he doesn't understand, and as Jensen slides his mouth to the middle and feels the hair turn soft on his lips, he smiles. "Ask for it, and perhaps you will get it. If that fails, you must try something else."

"Please," Jared says, his chest rising and falling under Jensen's mouth. "I need you to touch me. I need to touch you."

"Yes," Jensen says, answer and agreement. Jared's belly is soft and almost as hot as the firm flesh in Jensen's hand - whole, he can feel. He licks his lips as he shifts down, gently pushing his fist down to expose what he wants. "Put your hands in my hair," he breathes, and Jared does that. "See. Ask for what I want, and it's mine."

He licks a wet strip along Jared's length and feels the air move aside when Jared cries out, making room for a sound so important, so meaningful.

Jensen feels Jared gather his hair and move it aside - so, then, he knows something of it. But when Jensen lays his cheek on Jared's hip and lets the rough drag over the soft skin, soothing the burn with his tongue, well. That, he's fairly sure Jared's never felt, and he smiles against his student and feels possessiveness curl warm in his belly.

Wasting no time, he pushes Jared's thighs apart and licks one finger before pressing it to the tender entrance. Jared stills utterly, and Jensen looks up at him. "Has anyone touched you here before?"

Jared shakes his head, leaf in the breeze. "No."

"You will learn," Jensen says firmly, and presses his finger slowly inside. The tightness, the way he clamps down hard, he wasn't lying. Jensen bends his head, presses his lips to the shaft and sucks hard.

He's been here before. Once, when he was much younger, and someone taught him to do this. Jensen listens to the caught breaths, feels the tension singing through his apprentice and remembers how confusing it was - the riot of sensation, the desire to please and the way remembering his determination got harder. He slides his tongue up, slick and hot, and takes Jared into his mouth. It will ease him, Jensen thinks - help him remember what's important.

The taste of him slips over Jensen's tongue and into his throat, and Jensen thinks perhaps it's strange to consider another human being delicious, but it's been a long time and gods, this boy, this man...

Jensen sucks on him greedily, presses his finger deeper, and listens to the sighs and gulps and moans fall on his ears like warm summer rain.

His own cock presses hard against the futon, he wants the same touch that Jared has, but in time. He schools himself, strict, falling back on his training - patience. Wait until the right moment.

When Jared is twisting in his arms, bucking his hips up against mouth and fingers, when he pulls on Jensen's hair and makes such noise that surely god has noticed, that is when Jensen strikes. He presses his fingers deep, searching, and when he finds that good spot and crooks against it just so, he opens his throat and pushes down hard.

Outside, a gentle rain begins to fall.

The rain chimes softly against the roof, the well, the iron trellis outside Jensen's window. The gray light filters in between the drops, and it's this that first touches Jared's eyes when they open again.

"Daijen."

Jensen smiles to hear the compliment, turning his face away for modesty. "I'm here."

"Come. Up."

Jensen slides up to lie beside him, smiling soft. He rests his hand on Jared's chest and feels the prickle against his palm; he presses a kiss to Jared's shoulder and tries not to pay attention to the tiger in his belly.

Jared grips him by the back of the neck and pulls him close, kissing whatever he can reach. Jensen angles up and they trade taste; in the moment, he can't stop himself from pressing his cock into the shallow of Jared's hip.

"Mmm," Jared smiles, tracing his fingers down Jensen's back. "Something for me."

Jensen doesn't mean to, but he blushes, and hides his face in Jared's neck, kissing there. "When you're ready," he murmurs, feeling Jared's two faint scars under his lips. "Whenever. I've been patient."

"Too patient," Jared grins, rolling to face him and press their bodies together.

Jensen grabs his waist for balance and smiles. "Wait for the right moment," he says softly. "In all things."

"O-hai, senseidono," Jared whispers into Jensen's ear, letting it tickle across his neck. He rolls his hips against Jensen's, making a soft press against Jensen's cock, enticing with his gentle writhe. "Tell me, Ackles-sama, what is the proper moment for you to push me down into your pillows and come inside me, hm?"

The words skip down his spine like rocks off a lake, rippling through his entire body and sinking deep in his belly. Jensen can almost feel the tug on his cock, the rough tightness of Jared's body, god, yes. He licks his lips and tightens his hand. "That moment comes soon," he murmurs. "Be careful."

"Fuck careful," Jared growls, and starts to pull at his belt.

Jensen puts a hand on his wrist. "Jeichan. Why now?"

"Good a time as any," Jared tells him, pulling at the fabric, the knot coming undone in his hands.

Jensen studies his face as he shoves at the jacket, brushes his hand up one arm gone tight with tension. "Stop," he says, with authority, and the big hands still, one palm warm on his hip. Jared's face is bowed, not looking, and Jensen touches his face. "Are you afraid?"

"No," Jared answers immediately.

Jensen waits a beat, and then gently pushes Jared's hair off his shoulder. "Are you afraid, Jeichan?"

Jared's hand tightens on his hip, almost bruising, and Jensen has to bite his lip not to ask for more. But his patience is rewarded when Jared answers in a low, quiet voice. "Maybe."

Jensen nods. "Fear wants you to run from me. Maybe fight me." He runs his hand along Jared's arm, taut and hard. "You see."

Slowly, Jared breathes and nods. His arm relaxes a little, the rest of him follows.

"Good," Jensen soothes. "If you breathe, and focus on your surroundings - like in training - I can make you feel better than you've ever felt with me before. I promise you that."

"Not possible," Jared smiles, but he is doing as asked - Jensen can feel him deliberately flexing muscle groups just to aid in letting them be loose when he's done.

"Trust me," Jensen breathes, skimming his fingers over Jared's belly. "It's possible."

Jared bites his lip, closes his eyes at Jensen's touch. "Are you gonna. You know."

With a smile, Jensen lays the flat of his palm against the warm skin. "Will I bring you again? Yes."

Jared shudders, eyes still closed, and Jensen watches the flush rise over his body as he talks. "All right then. Let's do it. I want to do it."

"I know you do," Jensen soothes. "Lie down, on your belly."

Jared does that, and crosses his arms over his head. He's perfect - golden skin, dark hair, the clean lines of his back. Jensen follows that line down with his mouth, and ignores the pictures in his head. His cock is trying to force this along, faster, faster, filling his mind with Jared's open mouth, the sounds of ecstasy, what the heat of his release will feel like slipping across Jensen's belly. It's almost time, he knows, and it's getting harder to keep a grip on his control.

The taste of his back is solid, earthy, and he knows if he likes he can taste more. He could spread his young charge open, more than he's ever been, and deal him pleasure as easily as a hand of poker. He decides to forbear - his need is pressing him, heavy and red - but he can't resist putting a few kisses, a few bites onto the high curves, and again at the top of his thighs. He licks once along one of his bite marks, just to put ideas in his student's head, and then kneels up.

There has been a little pot of oil balm beside his bed since he first got home after choosing a shudo student. Jensen picks it up now, gathers up some balm on his fingers, and rubs it between his hands. It's a special ointment made by old Mrs. Ono in town - as it heats, it becomes slipperier, more liquid. Jensen warms his fingers with it and then slides one inside, gentle and firm.

Jared groans, pressing his hips down into the futon.

"That's good," Jensen praises, stroking his back and thighs. "Push against it, it will help until you can push into my hand."

Jared groans again, stretching out so gracefully that Jensen is put in mind of swans, geisha, and the curve of a katana.

When he's opened enough, Jensen pulls his fingers away and grips his cock. Once it's slick too, hot and ready, he sits back on his heels. "I want you to turn over," he says. "It's not easier, but it's better."

Jared hesitates only a moment before turning onto his side and then switching his legs and settling back. He's halfway to hard, and he looks nervous. "You want me like this?"

Jensen lifts up and leans over him, bracing his hands so they can kiss. "I want you every way," he murmurs, dragging his lips against Jared's, feeling the pulse throbbing through his body, demanding release. Jared's dark hair drapes across his pillow, his mouth soft and giving, and if it weren't for the strong hands gripping his hips, Jensen might imagine them long-standing lovers, relaxed and confident in each other. It's a pleasant dream, and he sips at Jared's mouth just long enough to indulge it.

He bites Jared's bottom lip then, just a bit of play. He means to make Jared laugh, but instead he growls and tries to bite back, lifting up just enough to bare his teeth. Jensen smiles, baring his own. "Do I understand you want me to get on with it?"

"Now," Jared says, rasping and harsh. He glares at Jensen, eyes burning up at him, so warm. "Now would be great."

He's right. Jensen lines up his hips and puts the tip of his cock to Jared's entrance, feels Jared lift up his knees and grip with his thighs.

"Come on," Jared demands, lifting his hips to receive his master, and Jensen joins with him at core and at breath, thrusting inside and leaning down to kiss, all at once. Jared gasps into his mouth and scratches his back, red welts rising hot.

"Yes," breathes Jensen. "Like. Like that."

Jensen pushes with his hips, sliding closer. A breathless moment hangs between them, suspended; Jensen shifts just so, presses Jared's legs open just a little so he can be closer. He needs to be closer.

Jared lies beneath him, barely breathing. Those eyes are wide open, and sightless. His hands are slack on Jensen's ribs, his body at once tense and relaxed; he is in a kind of fugue, perhaps. Jensen kisses his cheeks, his mouth, and cants his hips just so, just enough to let him slide in a quarter inch more - just enough to put him deeper.

Were it possible to die from the sweet pressure of one's lover, Jensen knows he'd be pushin' up daisies come sundown, no doubt about it.

"Move," Jared demands, hot and desperate. "Now."

And so Jensen moves.

In short, halting stutters of his hips, right at the start, and then in longer movements, he drives his hips against Jared's and feels the deep pressure start to uncoil. He wants to tell Jared to put his knees up, to kiss him, to moan for him, but the pleasure's blinding its way through his body and he feels something shifting deep in his makeup. What was immutable is becoming liquid under the subtle force of Jared's soft groans, and Jensen watches his lover's face as it tenses, as it changes with him.

"Jared," he whispers, up against that wide, red mouth, and feels Jared's groan slide through his lips.

"Jensen. God, Jensen."

Jared's fingers cut into his back, thighs brush his waist and cock presses against his stomach. The sound of his name, unadorned, makes him shudder.

"Harder," Jared begs, sweat on his brow and teeth clenched like he's learning to break boards, breath as hard as carrying pails of water up a thousand steps. The basics, so simple, he clenches and twists and tries.

Jensen obliges, snaps his hips in a tight piston, and kisses Jared soft.

"Oh, oh, oh, fuck, fuck me, Jensen," cries his student, and if the feel of hot, wet spurts against his belly were not enough to drive Jensen over the edge, the dirty, guttural English rasping across his ear would be.

He presses his face against Jared's neck and buries himself deep, feeling the tense and clench of their bodies joining, merging.

To join the body, in pleasure or in combat, is to forge a bond that will not be easily broken. It is right. This is right.

Jensen keeps his cheek pressed to Jared's jaw for a long time. For reasons too complex to think on, he does not wish to move.

The stillness stays with him for long moments, but in the end he knows his duty. Carefully, he pulls back and away, feeling Jared wince at the motion. "Hush," he says, preemptive, leaning down to kiss Jared's neck. "You will stay for some small time, I hope, before going to bed?"

It was a small piece of advice given to Jensen by an old mentor upon learning he was to take a shudo student. Tell them this, he said, and they will know what is expected of them and feel cherished at the same time.

Jared looks at him sharply. "Go? To my room, you mean? I thought I was gonna stay here."

Jensen hesitates. "It is traditional for students and masters to sleep apart."

"Oh," Jared says, and his long, beautiful lashes lower to cover his eyes.

Jensen's heart stutters, but he ignores it. His duty is what's paramount. He strokes a gentle hand over Jared's hip, warm and comforting, and when Jared rolls toward him and drapes an arm over his side, that's good enough. They lie there together, soaking up the heat and the feel of soft skin.

Jared leaves for his room a while later, and Jensen cleans up with the ewer and basin before falling back into bed. Sleep comes with the scent of Jared's sweat curling against him, and Jensen sighs into his pillow as his eyes close.

next