Jin: Compassion

It's in the afternoon that the letter from the Gosho arrives. Jensen and Jared are in the dojo, practicing when Masi comes in with it.

Jared's been determined all day to be the perfect student. The biggest shift is in his language; Jensen has become accustomed to the rounded, sprawling English, but now it's all "konichiwa, sensei; kudasai sensei; arigato, sensei." Jensen proceeds as if nothing is wrong, because what can he really say? But he also notices that Jared's more likely to step into a punch now, trusting that Jensen will pull it in time. He's more sure of himself, and sure of his teacher.

They pull apart after a rough tussle, Jared's face flushed with exertion. Jensen can feel the roughness in a dozen places, parts to smooth out and refine. The teacher in him - he was surprised to find that there was a teacher there, already - notes where his elbow drops, where his knee locks, to remind him later. They bow and then relax, catching their breath, and that's when Jensen notices his silent servant waiting by the door. At just that moment, Masi knocks on the wood frame of the door.

"Ackles-sama," Masi smiles. "I did not wish to hurt your concentration."

Jensen nods, feeling the sweat cool on his cheeks. "Very good, Masi-san, please, come in." He waves his hand and Masi brings the letter over; it's familiar, stamped with the Gosho seal. "Orders," he says aloud for Jared's benefit, a little surprised. It's only been a few weeks since he got back, and Watanabe knows he has a student to train. He pulls the heavy paper open and reads the missive.

They are to go to Thailand, something to do with the competition in the fruit market. There are ample orchards in both North Columbia and California, it's one of their prime exports; still, this seems a little menial. It's something he'd do if he didn't have anything better to take care of, something diplomatic, ornamental. Strange.

As he sorts through the particulars, he finds a note attached over Watanabe's signature. It says, in typed print: "Jensen, thought this would be a good way to cut your student's teeth." Underneath is Watanabe's signature, but he never has notes typed out - his long, bold scrawl has decorated plenty of these orders to Jensen before, indicating specific instructions or warnings. Peculiar.

But it's all in order, and the note is quite correct - if Jared is going to try himself in the field, this is an excellent chance.

Jared's looking at the papers, not quite casually. He probably thinks he's being subtle. "We goin somewhere?"

"Yeah," Jensen says, heading for the towels. "Bangkok. Hope you like mango."

They clean up and then go over the particulars of the assignment in the study. Jensen makes a bit of a face when he learns they're to deal with the geisha exchange, and Jared asks him about it. Jensen explains in point form.

Around the beginning of the twentieth century, Japanese culture was heavily into sexual repression. Certain things were not discussed, certain things were to be hidden and mysterious. Thai culture, on the other hand, held that there were two sorts of girls - the kind you marry and the kind you rent. One was supposed to be chaste until marriage, the other was part of a longstanding tradition, the sort of girl who's around when a man could have fun and be himself.

This division would have been easily accepted, were it not for the geisha.

There was, it is told, a great and powerful meeting of the minds during this time: Tokyo's premiere geisha met the woman who was responsible for running a huge section of Bangkok bordellos. The story goes that the geisha was getting off her boat to meet with some high-ups in the Thai government, and the madam's carriage pulled up. The madam got out, surrounded by servants and covered in jewels, and the geisha's foot touched on the wharf at the same moment. Their eyes met, and the two women nodded respectfully, each recognizing the other's profession even though the two groups didn't get along - the Thai believed in open sale of sex for money, where the geisha were primarily focused on art and entertaining, and on sex only as a sideline, if the geisha herself were interested. Both believed their way was more respectful to the woman involved, and neither approved of the other view.

The madam said, "May I ask, where are you going?"

And the geisha replied with a bow, "To the palace, to see the nobles."

"Be careful of the fountains," said the madam. "The stones can be slippery this time of year."

The geisha bowed, and they parted ways.

Later at the palace - so the story goes - one of the nobles tried to invite the geisha out to view the fountains. She declined, remembering the madam's warning, and the next morning the geisha received word that one of the young girls who worked on the kitchen staff had been found dead.

She went to the madam's residence later that evening, and spent hours there. What they talked about, nobody can say, but when she returned to Japan she gathered up all the members of her house and spoke with them. She told them to look for women with promise. If a woman thinks she can do something, anything, if she has talent, bring her in.

That house became the first of several sorority-style finishing houses for ladies. They accepted women of all ranks, all economic background, and they developed whatever natural potential they could find, no matter what it was for. The power they achieved was not without challenges, but in the end, it was astronomical. Women were wives first - of politicians, judges, places of power. They used that power to help women became merchants, run businesses, inherit, vote, and finally run for public office. Of course Thailand had begun to do the same, and when the Tokyo samurai accepted their first four female members in 1967, it was the beginning of the end for gender inequality.

Now, Jensen explains, high ranking members of these houses seldom see clients at all. They are underground empresses, commanding tremendous power, and when the shogun wants to deal with one of them, he almost inevitably sends Jensen.

Jared asks why, and Jensen grudgingly tells him: "I believe the shogun thinks I have a... natural advantage. Kanrei Kikuchi is often sent to meetings with distinguished men for the same... reasons."

Jared sits back in his chair and steeples his fingers thoughtfully. "So... we're gettin sent to Thailand because you're pretty."

"I never said that."

"Oh, beg your pardon, sensei, but I think you did. It's nothing to be ashamed of."

"Jared."

"You're a handsome man."

"Jared."

"I'm sure you're an excellent negotiator, senseidono."

"Jared!"

They are on a plane that same evening.

Per usual, all the arrangements are already made. Jensen can't help but notice, as they go through the airport and customs and the whole rigmarole, how Jared seems looser, even more friendly. This morning's formality has faded into a sort of pronounced casualness. He is making too many presumptions, more than he did even before last night, and even though he's still respectful, there's a kind of familiarity there that Jensen didn't develop with his sensei until much later in their lives.

Still, he thinks, it's... pleasant. Jared's willingness to play along makes the hassles of travel easier; his sense of humor seems to speed up time so the flights are over long before they get boring. He's engaging and smart and funny, and Jensen supposes that the bond between them must extend to this. Besides, it's better that Jared be too relaxed than too freaked out, considering what happened between them. Jensen figures the see-saw will even out in time, and so he decides to allow Jared his casualness, and allow himself to be entertained by it.

He really is something, Jensen thinks, for the dozenth time. There was no choice but Jared.

When they arrive in Thailand, the governmental pagoda is full of some trade delegation, and so they get a suite in a hotel. The lady they are here to meet is named Mai Charoenpura, and she has sent a welcome basket full of Thai fruit: lychee, rambutan, mango, guava and dragonfruit. The irony is not lost on Jensen.

They spend some time going over particulars of Thai behavior, practice talking softly and not making eye contact. It's hard for Jared particularly - his manner is so open and forthright - but it's the culture, and they should be versed in it. The Thai people are deeply spiritual, and as Madam Charoenpura is an older woman, she is more respectful of the traditions than younger people tend to be.

They go to bed early. Jensen lays it out straight: space is limited so they will share a bed to sleep, and as both of them are tired, it is probably best to use the time for rest. Jared seems both disappointed and relieved, but Jensen really is tired and has no desire to sort out why. He strips down to nothing - freeing Jared, who is hesitating, to do the same - and crawls into bed.

When he wakes up the next morning, far too early, he is sweltering. Jared is wrapped around him and putting off heat like the belly of the sun, and Jensen extricates himself, taking care not to wake his student. He glances at the clock and groans, oh, far too early. Rubbing his palm over his face, he heads for the bathroom.

Their meeting takes little time. Jared makes the mistake of addressing the formidable madam as Mai-san, getting confused over the order of the names, but she inexplicably finds it charming. She talks with them for a while, mostly Jensen, and in short order they hammer out an arrangement that suits them both. Mai invites them to take in the gardens, and Jensen politely accepts.

The gardens, of course, are full of apprentices. Several of them flutter around Jensen - they remember him from previous visits - and he is kind to them all as always. Jensen is well aware of the necessity of being diplomatic. He has fielded not a few inquiries from fathers and brothers and guardians about his marital status, but as he knows perfectly well that he must marry a Japanese woman when the time is right, he politely begs duty and declines.

In one corner of the garden, Jared watches him flirt. Despite the sunny day, Jared's face is dark.

Jensen sends him a look, and when that fails to mollify him, Jensen extracts himself from the ladies and makes his way over. "What's wrong?"

"Nothing," Jared says shortly. "I guess I didn't know all this was part of the job."

Jensen shrugs. "It isn't, really, but that's why the shogun sends us. Any one of those women could be the next madam here. It's important to keep things open."

"I think I been plenty open for one day," Jared says, low and deep. He folds his arms across his chest and the sun seems to dim a little, with the force of his irritation. Jensen, with the wisdom of ages, decides it might be prudent to leave.

The car ride back to the hotel is interminable; Jared won't talk much beyond single syllables and hostile shifts. Jensen worries, but the second the elevator doors close, Jared leans back against the wall and sends a smoldering hot glance in his direction. "Did you like girls? I mean, before?"

"I still like girls," Jensen answers carefully, allowing Jared to eye him.

"Did you ever, y'know. Did you have a girlfriend?"

The bell dings, and Jensen steps out and calmly walks down the hall to their room. "I did, actually. A few of them. How about you, Jared, you have any girlfriends?"

The door opens under his hands, and Jared follows him in - too close. Jensen hears the door slam, and then there's a hand on his shoulder, pulling him around to face his student. "I don't wanna talk about that," Jared murmurs, coming up closer, close enough to kiss. He puts a hand high on Jensen's waist and steps right in, so close that Jensen can feel his heat coming through the clothes.

"Jeikun," he says, hesitating. "There are appropriate times and places for -"

Jared cuts him off. "Please, Daijen," he murmurs, his voice sweet like soy can be sweet, in all its darkness and earth. Jared looks like he could say more, but his eyes hold everything Jensen needs to see - unsure, angry, afraid.

And so Jensen sighs, slides his hand into his student's hair and pulls him down to kiss. It's warm, both of them heated with the Thai sun, and Jared is strong and firm against him, perfect. "Weapons first," Jensen murmurs against his lips, pulling away with regret. You don't neck with a loaded gun on you.

They unstrap, unbuckle and unholster their weapons, putting them in their respective containers, and when they meet again, it's on the bed. Jared pulls at their clothes, demanding and almost hostile, insisting in sibilant tones that Jensen touch him.

Jensen tries. He kisses his student lazily, thoroughly, wanting it to last.

But that's not Jared's agenda this time. The minute he has some bare skin, he dips his head down to taste it, his lips and tongue skating along Jensen's collarbone. Jensen returns the favor, and before too long they're falling to the bed, clothes in heaps on either side of the bed. Naked skin presses, rough hands grip and slide.

Jared turns onto his stomach, catches Jensen's wrist in his hand and pulls at him. "Come on," he rasps, dragging Jensen over his back. "Come on, Daijen, do it. I want you in me."

The words - English, scratched to shit and ringing with the thrum of America - they sink into Jensen's skin and his head and his spine, they drag him forward by the heart. "Shh, my Jeichan. Soon."

"Now," Jared insists, pushing back against Jensen's body. "Where's the stuff?"

Jensen didn't imagine this would happen. He thought they would return to Japan, that the second time would happen there, but this... he wasn't expecting this. "I didn't bring it," he admits. Jared starts to object, to get up, but Jensen presses him down. "Shh," he says again. "Don't worry. We'll be all right. It'll be all right."

Jared squirms under him and Jensen presses him to the mattress, rubs his hands over the muscled arms, enjoying the feel. "Don't freak out on me, now," Jensen smiles, as he kisses the back of Jared's neck - and then he slides down, lower. He trails his tongue down too, kissing lightly down Jared's spine, and he feels his student tense.

"What are you doing?" Jared asks, shivering a little in the chilly air conditioning.

Jensen keeps moving. "Making do," he says. "Trust me."

Of course, the moment his tongue gets to where it's going, Jared about leaps off the bed. "What the fuck -"

"Silence," Jensen orders, planting a hand in the middle of his back and shoving down. "You asked me for something, now you get it. Always prepare for the consequences of your actions."

"I didn't know it was gonna be this!" Jared says, still trying to squirm away.

But Jensen has one forearm firmly planted on the small of his back, shoving him down into the bed; he's going nowhere. With his free hand, he spreads his student apart, and over the pleading protests, Jensen lowers his head again.

Sure enough, he turns those protests into demands in the space of just a few minutes.

He's careful to slick Jared as thoroughly as possible, ignoring the pleas and threats and creaking wood sounds coming from above. His student is sweating now, pushing back against Jensen's tongue as much as he can and moaning harsh into the pillows - it's all perfect. Jared's perfect.

The process is painstaking; fingers and spit are not an adequate substitute for Mrs. Ono's concoction, and Jensen makes a mental note never to leave home without it ever again.

When they finally do come together, it's difficult and even a little painful. Jared is up on his knees, his face in the pillows, and the invectives that pour from him as Jensen pushes in are almost enough to make Jensen stop everything. But as important as proper respect is, Jensen can imagine doing the same thing if he were in Jared's position just sweat and spit and that's all. So he makes an exception.

It seems Jared's always the exception.

But with good reason, perhaps. The way he scratches and claws at the pillows, the way he shoves his hips back when it gets a little easier, the curses and the muttered "Jen-san if you don't fuck me now I swear I'll kill you with your own damn s-s-sword ah fuck... " Jensen gets swept away with the passion that rises in him, rising like a tide. It gets into him, into his belly and the back of his brain, shutting everything off but the need to take, to claim, to own and have. It's that passion that makes him curl his own fingers into Jared's hips and make light little bruises there, that makes him bite his lip and do it just like Jared wants it harder, faster, more.

When pleasure takes them, it takes them together. Later, as Jared sprawls possessively against his sensei, already asleep, Jensen decides that may be the lesson here for him. Whatever they do now, it seems they will do together.

Jensen notes that for later meditation, and then shifts himself under Jared's arm and falls asleep.

It's surprisingly easy.

~

The next morning, there is a message at the concierge from Abe, assigning them to a little town near Sacramento where the locals are reporting problems with giant rabbits or something. It's obviously kids or cranks or something, but apparently there's an elderly Japanese noblewoman of some station who lives in the city that's heard the rumors and she's nervous, so an official inquiry has been opened.

They spend a week there in a Holiday Inn, running down leads that all end nowhere. They submit their report and book a flight home, but while they're having enchiladas in a little Mexican restaurant, Jensen's cell phone rings - it's the shogun, and Jensen excuses himself.

Outside, he endures a short but pointed dressing-down. Evidently, the mission in Thailand went a little too well - Mai refuses to deal with any of the other samurai now. Watanabe is at least a little understanding, even if he is irate, and of course Jensen apologizes profusely. Then he calls the airport to change their flight, so they can head back to Thailand to close the deal.

Back at the table, Jared's flirting with the curvy little waitress, but when Jensen sits down with a cloud across his face, she takes off. Jared gives him a worried look. "Anything wrong?"

"Yeah," Jensen says, wincing. "We gotta go back to Thailand. We were a little too friendly."

"Yeah, I think I said something like that," Jared says, making a little face.

Jensen snorts. "Not me, oh enlightened one, you. Mai's the one who makes that call, and she practically handed you that treaty."

"...Oh." Jared winces a little himself, apology in his eyes. "Sorry?"

Jensen leans back in his chair, thoughtful. "No, don't be sorry. You did the right thing, you got the treaty signed. Frankly, I'm not really sure why Watanabe's so upset. The Thai are staying out of our hair, no muss, no fuss."

"Huh."

"Yeah, huh."

The two of them mull it over for a bit before giving up. What's done is done, and they're fixing what little difficulty they had. If Watanabe doesn't like it, he can ground them.

It's their second transpacific flight in a comparatively short time, and when they get into Suvarnabhumi airport, they tell their driver to head straight for the hotel so they can sleep until the time zones catch up with them. They do that, wrapped around each other, with the do-not-disturb sign on the door.

As they drive toward the madam's house with contracts in hand, it occurs to Jensen that they never even thought to check if the pagoda had rooms open. It wouldn't have cost anything to stay there, and they could have had their own rooms.

He chooses not to say anything. Sleeping with Jared is pleasant, and there will be time enough to go back to the usual way when they get back home.

The contracts are signed and sealed with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of flirt on Jared's part. Jensen looks on with amusement as Mai, in the kind of regal splendor reserved for queens and empresses, walks through the gardens with his student and giggles like a teenager.

Later, with copies in hand, they return to the hotel and find Masi waiting by the concierge. "Ackles-sama," he says, his facing lighting up as he executes a deep bow.

"Konichiwa, Masi-san," Jensen says, surprised. "What are you doing here?"

"Honored Tanimoto-san asked me to bring you this," Masi says, holding out a white envelope.

Jensen takes the envelope curiously. Why would Kumakichi send him a letter? He opens it and reads his friend's cramped, sharp scrawl.

Over his shoulder, Jared peers at the letter. "Do you know Kuma's father?"

"No," Jensen says, shaking his head. "Come on, I'll explain upstairs. Masi, can you book us a flight back to Japan, redeye?"

"Hai," Masi bows, and jogs over to the concierge as Jensen turns to head upstairs.

In the room, with no ears around to hear, Jensen explains that father is a code word cooked up by the major and colonel samurai to refer to the general in unofficial correspondence. It seems that, in their absence, Toshiro took it upon himself to send a pair of scouts up to Kasho Takai. Kuma didn't say why, but Jensen has suspected for some time that he is being watched fairly closely.

One of those guards was killed by a skilled ninja just last night. What the ninja might have been after or who he might have been working for, nobody knows, but it seems the second samurai that Toshiro sent was in a great deal of trouble when another ninja appeared. He grabbed the first one and the two fought for a moment, and then both disappeared into the forest. Masi heard the commotion and brought the wounded samurai down to the village, where he was able to give his report. He's recovering now, the letter says, but it was close.

Aloud, Jensen reads out the last line: "It seems your majordomo was injured by the ninja in an attempt to guard the house. He is also fine, though he loudly insists that he isn't. You should return as soon as your contract is signed to make an assessment and report."

He looks up at Jared, who is wide-eyed. "Who would go to that expense just to... what? Steal?"

Jensen shakes his head. "No. Likely they were looking for me. I've received a few threats, some in person. There are those among the nobility that... don't appreciate a white man achieving such stature. Sometimes they like to send messages. It's nothing."

Jared stares at him. "Uh, respectfully, senseidono, I beg to goddamn differ."

Jensen allows that to pass with only a stern, reproving glance, because Jared's worried. "I can take care of it, student, thank you for your concern."

Jared's mouth tightens, but he bows. They leave for the airport with Masi in tow only half an hour later, as much time as it takes to load up the bags. The Empire's ranking samurai, like Jensen, have the authority to make a plane wait. When they arrive, the murmurs buzz through the passengers - everyone knows about the Emperor's lightning hound, the white horse of Kyoto, the silver warrior, even if most of them wouldn't know his face if they tripped over him.

Usually Jensen's already seated when the coach passengers file on, so it's not an issue, but this time, as he and Jared buckle in, he can hear a little boy's voice floating up past the curtain.

"Mamisan, why do they call him a dog?"

"Not dog," his mother replies, hushed and reverent. "Hound. It's like bodyguard."

"Why?" The boy asks again, demanding. "What did he do?"

"Well, once, Nihonjiro saved Emperor Kurosawa's life. He was touring through Kyoto in his car with the shogun and other important people, and a terrible villain tried to hurt him. Many of his majesty's bodyguards died at his hands as he fought to get to the Emperor, with guns and sword drawn, it seemed all at once. Nihonjiro was with the shogun's car, of course, but Watanabe was well-covered by the general and several others, so Nihonjiro raced at the villain to try to disarm him."

"Really?" asks the little boy, obviously thrilled, and Jensen smiles.

"Really!" his mother says, a smile in her voice as well. "They say that Nihonjiro took three bullets to the chest and didn't even slow down. He attacked the terrible man and brought him low just as the villain's blade was about to chop the Emperor in two!" She claps her hands together, making a sharp smack in the air.

Jensen remembers only one bullet. He also remembers slamming into the guy's side just as he was about to reach the motorcade, but he was just in the right place at the right time. A hundred other guys were coming at the car, could have been any one of them, but Jensen got there first. Funny, he thinks. They never put that part in the story.

"He was given his name that very day by Emperor Kurosawa himself," the mother finishes. "Though he was born in Tokyo, so it's almost like he's Japanese already."

The boy makes several appropriately awed sounds and asks a dozen questions at once, and Jensen shakes his head and rings the buzzer for a pillow.

~

Back in Kyoto, there's not much to be done. The survivor has given his statement, which is that there's not much he remembers or saw. Despite Takashi's long and glorious recountings of the affair at the village tavern, he admits to Jensen in private that he can't really be sure of anything except that it was dark and that he fought valiantly. The girls at the bar don't seem to need much more than that anyway - well, that, and to see the bruises.

Jensen takes everybody home and strictly forbids Jared to even think about installing motion sensors or security. Jared recruits Kaori, and together the two of them browbeat Jensen into at least installing an emergency button under his office desk - that's where most intrusions have taken place.

Kaori looks small and old and afraid during this discussion, Jared wearing a terribly disapproving glare and folded arms just behind her. Jensen catches them later in the kitchen laughing over bowls of green tea ice cream, and carefully backs out of the kitchen so he can pretend he never saw.

~

They have some time at the kasho before they get another letter. They get comfortable between them, and Jared starts spending time in the library and the office, researching policy and current affairs. It's never concerned him before now, but with the kind of missions they've been getting, he thinks it will be good to know. He also learns to play Go (though he doesn't like it as much as Jensen does) and a few other games of luck and skill. He spends time in the fields, learning about Takai's growing season - dyes and medicines and spices that only grow in these conditions, humid and cool. In the end, he finds he likes to spend time amongst the fishermen, and even spends a little time with Takashi, learning how to make the perfect cucumber roll.

When the shogun sends for them, Jensen is saddened by the news, but still a little pleased. There is a dispute in the highlands, a feud between two buke houses. They fall into Watanabe jurisdiction, and apparently they do this every few decades or so, create themselves a quiet little war - arsons, duels, accidents. Watanabe's instructions are clear: deal with it. Do not kill any blue bloods, but feel free to remind them who samurai are, and why.

It will be an excellent test.

~

They take Jensen's Rover through the mountains to the disputed territory. There is more than one tense standoff. Jensen's Glocks and Jared's gleaming silver Colts see plenty of air, clearing their holsters time and again to cause some space where Jensen can shout out who they are.

At first, their challengers (local law enforcement) instantly back off, but it gets harder and harder to make a convincing argument the further into the territory they get. At one point, Jared's holding aim on five men while Jensen stalks up to the sixth and pulls his sword from its sheath, just to hold up the maker's mark in front of the son of a bitch's face.

They gain access to the house of one of the families just in time for a fight to break out - both families are present, people are screaming at each other and then the guns come out. Jensen crouches down by the door and puts four precision shots into a huge chandelier that comes screaming down from the ceiling, spraying shrapnel in the form of jade coins, torn rice paper and splintered bamboo in every direction, and scaring a dozen people into fleeing for the outskirts of the house.

Jared, meanwhile, wades in like he's invincible (which he is not, hours practicing the gun katas or no) and fires off two rounds straight into the chest of one of the lords without breaking stride. The aristocrat doubles over as Jared puts another one in a bodyguard's shoulder, sending him spinning to the floor. Another bodyguard, another.44 special slug, and Jared hasn't even slowed down - he's handling those revolvers like they're nothing, huge hands absorbing the kickback without a single shiver.

Jensen curses under his breath, "Specifically told no fatalities, god dammit." He fires five more shots into the fracas, deliberately hitting wood and stone, and people run screaming until all that's left is the three men that Jared's felled plus the remaining lord, firing blind at Jared and missing by a mile. Jared arrives at his side as if by magic, and Jensen sees the footwork that brought him there in retrospect, perfectly clear.

Against a samurai, no buke is a fair match. Jared disarms him instantly and stuns him with a fast blow to the head.

Across the room, the other lord is standing up again, very cautious and wincing. Jensen blinks - it shouldn't be possible. A man with a gut wound is out for the count. Then he looks a little more closely, just in time to see the heavy Kevlar vest that bulges under the man's shirt.

And so, with a shake of his head and a roll of his eyes to the roof, Jensen imitates his student's brazen cowboy stride into the room and aims both barrels at the lord's head. "I wouldn't do that, if I were you," he says, giving in to the theatrics of it, because people are often impressed by that kind of thing. "Goto-dono, I presume."

Buke are not often heroes, and Goto cautiously tosses his gun to the ground. "Samurai," he says, sounding pained. "Thank god."

Jared is kicking guns away from the two bodyguards, both of whom are rolling on the ground, groaning, like people with bullets in them ought to be. He relieves them of some knives as well, and one katana each. There are a hundred thousand men all over the world who claim to be trained as samurai. Most of them are lying.

Lord Goto starts in on how he and his family are so abused by the antics and shenanigans of the Nakatomi clan, whose snake of a daughter trapped their perfect pure son into marriage with her witchery. Jensen is absolutely sure that when Lord Nakatomi wakes up, said pure and virginal daughter will have been abducted and raped by the mad Goto boy-fiend. He sighs, and searches the house until he finds somebody to go and round up the rest of the household. This cannot be settled by discussion with the fathers, he knows that for fact.

He gets a spare moment with Jared while the bodyguards are carted away for their wounds to be dealt with. He is strict and harsh. "What were you thinking!" He demands, an uncomfortable heat in his stomach. "We were specifically told no fatalities."

"I knew he was wearing a vest," Jared explains hastily. "I could see it under his shirt, that's why I hit him."

Jensen makes an annoyed face. "So you shot him when you knew it couldn't hurt him and then turned your back on him? While he still had a weapon? "

Jared opens his mouth, and then closes it again.

Irritated, Jensen draws himself up straight and holsters his gun. "It's a childish mistake, Jeikun, I expected better of you."

Jared looks a little stunned, and then bows low over folded hands. "Moushiwake arimasen deshita, senseidono," he murmurs, his head still low. "I will do better."

Jensen waits for that formal apology to continue for a moment more before making the little sound that allows Jared to rise. "More practice," he prescribes, and Jared bows again, shorter this time. They return to the room together, Jared lingering behind appropriately.

When everyone's assembled and ready, Jensen clears his throat. "All right. What happened."

The assorted nobility begin bickering immediately, and Jensen raises a hand, as he'd known he would have to. "One at a time. Goto-dono, I've heard your side. Nakatomi-dono, what do you have to bring forward?"

True to form, the man tars and feathers the son of the opposing household, and Jensen suffers through as much of it as he can.

Jensen raises his hand again when he's heard enough. "All right, I think I get the point."

Nakatomi makes an irritable face, getting a little ruddy in the cheeks. "Do you, oh, great white hound? The despoiling of a noble's daughter is something I'm given to understand isn't regarded as seriously in the Americas." He says Americas like you'd say rancid rat meat.

Before Jensen has a chance to reply, Goto puffs up his chest. "I will thank you not to offer disrespect to the Emperor's silver warrior in my house!"

"You'd curry favor with a Korean if it got you closer to my land!" Nakatomi spits back.

Jensen is able to watch the hackles of the entire of the Goto family rise before he steps between them, unsheathes his sword and slices the edge of it through the floorboards. It sings in the air, a perfect note, and the room goes deathly still as Jensen sheathes it again in one fluid movement.

Underfoot, the boards crack and groan, and the families immediately shift to either side as Jensen stands, perfectly straight, over the newly created fault line. "One more outburst," he says, in a perfectly level tone, "and I will be forced to take steps."

Both lords immediately bow - not too low, but low enough - and apologize.

"Now," Jensen says softly. "Please, bring me the children involved."

Two young people step forward, pushed by older hands. The young woman's head is bowed and her hands are clasped in front of her. The boy looks similarly hangdog, but keeps his shoulders determinedly straight. Both bow deeply, and then stand.

Jensen faces them, barely moving. "Are you married?" He asks.

They nod.

"And do you wish to be married?"

Both heads shake, vehemently.

"Very well. In that case, I -" Jensen pauses. Behind the children, Jared is trying to get his attention. There is something to be said, apparently, and so Jensen bows a little and clears his throat. "I will think on this matter, and return to you in ten minutes."

Both families start talking at once, and Jensen brings his heel down sharply on the floorboard. Two slats of wood burst loose from the floor and rattle heavily onto the others, making everyone leap aside and free of danger, like startled geese. When they calm again and look for the samurai in their midst, they find two empty pieces of floor.

Out in the hallway, Jensen hears the bickering start up, but it settles at a dull roar. He pinches the bridge of his nose and sighs. "What is it, Jeikun?"

"What are you planning to do with 'em?" Jared asks, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest.

Jensen opens his eyes and allows them to slide over his student's body - a pleasant change from the power mongers in the next room. "I had planned to divide the dowry land between them," Jensen says. "That is what this fight is over."

Jared makes a thoughtful moue. "Huh. I thought you were gonna side with the not-racist guy."

Jensen laughs. "Oh, he's as racist as his friend. It was a way to curry favor with me, as it seemed to them that I would side with Goto-san."

"Huh," Jared says again. "Man, I'll tell you - back at the Gosho I had these two dogs, a couple of strays that'd come around the kitchen for scraps. I trained 'em to do all kinds of things, y'know, and if there's one thing I learned doin' that, it's that you never give the treat until they do what you want, no matter how much they bark or snap at you."

Jensen smiles a little, entertained by the image. "I don't see how that applies," he says.

Jared shrugs. "Just seems to me that if you want 'em to stop fightin, you can't give 'em their land just because they're fightin' some more. Take the dower land in the name of the shogunate and promise it to whoever ends the feud. Those two kids might even have some push to make their marriage work, if they'd get the land for their own."

Jensen stares at him. "Y'know," he says slowly, working through the permutations in his mind. "That might actually work?"

Jared stands away from the wall and bows, smiling a little in return. "One hopes only to serve, senseidono."

"Very good," Jensen nods, his mind thinking very quickly. He claps his student on the shoulder and maps out the paperwork in his mind. "Very good, Jeikun. I think that's going to work."

When they leave the lordly house, the lords in question are stern and cold, neither happy with the outcome.

But before the two samurai can leave the town, they are beset by family members, townspeople and local police. Even the young marrieds turn out, and the samurai are draped in flowers and gifts. Everyone is so pleased to have the fighting settled - and it is settled, it seems, as it now has incentive. The people bow low to the ground and give honorifics : Ackles-dono, Padalecki-san, you are most fortunate, most wise. We wish you wives and wealth and laurels, we wish you luck in battle and the Emperor's favor, o san, o dono, thank you.

They leave feeling they have done well by the town, and Jensen turns the rover toward the highway, and home.

Jared's cell phone rings only a half hour into the trip, and Abe's assistant directs the samurai to the Kyoto Gosho, to report directly to the shogun. It's worrying news, to say the least.

Kyoto is a six hour drive, and it is getting late. Jensen stretches his shoulders. "We'll get a room in the next town," he says. "I can't remember the last time I was this way; do you know any good places?"

Jared shifts in his seat, looking irritable. "No," he says, sighing. "Haven't been much outside the city."

Jensen nods.

The next town they pass doesn't actually have an inn. They get a passable supper, but when they ask where the next town is, they're told it's an hour down the road. Jensen sighs and thanks the woman, and trudges out to the car.

He's just opening the door when Jared brushes up beside him. "Hey."

Jensen lifts an eyebrow at him. "Yes, Jeikun?" He asks, skeptically.

Jared smiles, his teeth flashing mischievously in the reflected streetlights. "I got an idea. Why don't we park up on a ridge top or something and spend the night in the back of the Rover? "

Jensen looks at him. His student is obviously deranged.

"No, I'm serious," Jared says, pressing a little closer. "It's warm enough, the Rover's big enough, and we got enough pillows and hand-knitted blankets in the back to make anybody comfortable. We can put the seats down, it'll be just like a futon."

Jensen's skeptical, but the warmth of Jared's hip pressing against him is a compelling argument.

"It's a bed we don't have to check to see if it's clean or expensive," Jared adds. "And we don't gotta worry about proving anything, no money, no nothing. Easy as pie. We can use the Gosho's onsen when we get there."

Jensen considers it. He does make a compelling point, and it's been a long time since Jensen's done anything as spontaneous as impromptu camping. He smiles a little - Jared makes him feel young and stupid again, impetuous. It's not the kind of feeling that needs to be had all the time, but it's refreshing and pleasant.

"All right, Jeichan," he murmurs softly, using the secret name out here in the open sky. Jared blushes, and Jensen smiles. "You got a deal."

They find an off ramp about twenty minutes out, and Jensen takes it all the way up a winding road to a little spring nestled into the side of the mountain, a fair way up. There is a beautiful view, and a sign says there was a story about a giant falling here, and weeping into the crook of his elbow. Even when the giant turned to stone, it says, and the grass grew over him, his tears made this pool. There are several lookout points with parking, and Jensen pulls into one and cuts the engine.

They make their bed with ease, moving as a team, and when they crawl in and close the doors, it's even fairly comfortable. They stash their weapons and strip down to shirts and shorts, draw blankets over their legs and curl up to sleep, face to face.

Jensen feels the soft touch along his wrist, and doesn't even have to open his eyes to know. "Jeikun," he says gently. "There is a time and a place for such things. I have tried to teach you."

"I know, Daijen," Jared says, soft and low. "I wish to apologize for my mistake in the battle."

Jensen opens his eyes and sighs, reaching out to slide his hand over the warm curve of Jared's shoulder. "Shudo is not for apologies," he says, trying to be stern. The feel of the solid muscle under his hand is good, right.

"Then I wish to renew our bond," Jared whispers to him, shifting closer and sliding his had under the blanket to curve over Jensen's waist and rest there, heavy. "Please."

It's clear how this is supposed to go. Jensen should tell him no, should save this for home, where it belongs. He should not take his student in the back of a car because he has no self-control. It is clear.

He opens his mouth, and Jared leans in to softly kiss his bottom lip.

"Jeichan," Jensen whispers, licking the taste of it from his mouth. "You should not play such games."

"Unless I'm prepared to lose, right?" Jared grins and shifts his hips close, lets them bump up against Jensen's in the warmth under the blanket, and Jensen feels the thick length of him through soft fabric, pressing up close.

He sighs into it, allows Jared to shift and press them together, and then he feels bold, adventurous fingers sliding down into the waistband of his shorts. "Ah ah," he smiles, catching Jared by the wrist. "I don't think so, my student."

Jared blows out an exasperated breath. "Don't tease, senseidono."

"'M not teasing," Jensen returns, pushing forward until Jared rolls onto his back. Jensen pushes that wrist up and pins it to the pillows, settles between Jared's legs and leans down to kiss his neck. "Just reminding you how to show respect."

Jared groans underneath him, lifting his hips to rub against Jensen's, the heavy bump of his cock feeling thick and perfect through the soft cloth. "Mmm," he groans. "You kicked ass in there today."

"You were passable," Jensen allows, and grinds his hips down just to hear the thick, perfect sound his student makes, shivering against his lips. "Perhaps even better than," he whispers, and draws his tongue up the long, warm swath of skin under Jared's ear.

When he lifts his head, Jared's got his bottom lip clamped between his teeth. "Come on," he mutters, lifting his hips into Jensen's over and over. "God, let me."

"Soon," Jensen smiles, and draws his hips in a warm, slow circle. The bump and press of Jared's cock on his, he can't wait to be naked for it. But then he'll forget to have power over Jared, and this is a young man who very much needs to be shown that power.

Or so Jensen tells himself. It's easier, then, to forget that this should not technically be happening at all.

He shakes his head and leans up to bite softly at Jared's strong jaw. "Tell me," he says softly. "Is this what you'd thought it would be, when you first came to my bed?"

Jared shakes his head and uses his free hand to clutch at Jensen's shoulder. "No", he breathes. "I never. Never thought I'd. Want. Want it this much."

The words are like fire applied directly to Jensen's brain, and he shoves one hand up under Jared's t-shirt and finds a soft nipple. He coaxes it to stiffness, and kisses his student in the same moment his fingers close on the little peak, hard. Jared gasps into his mouth, and he presses his hips down, hard. The second gasp, higher and rasping, is ten times as satisfying.

"Daijen," Jared gasps, gripping his shoulder hard enough to bruise. "Please."

"Like this," Jensen breathes, reaching down to draw down his own shorts and then Jared's with a curved thumb. He settles their hips together again, hot skin, hollows of the hips slick with sweat, and drags them together, blunt and perfect. "Oh, just like this, Jeichan."

Jared makes the growling, desperate noises that have become necessary for Jensen to hear, so good, so right. He tries to get his other hand free, but Jensen slams it back to the pillows and grips his wrist harder, feeling the power of it course through him. Jared groans again, bucks his hips.

It's slippery slick, the soft skin of Jared's hip just right against the sensitive underside of his cock, and Jensen lays down little bite marks on to Jared's neck, his chest, pushing faster, grinding them together. "I want you to come for me," he grits out, making heavy circles with his hips, feeling the roll and thud of it, slick and dirty. The sudden English is like a curse, like a slap. "Give it, baby, let me see how you feel me, come on."

Jared instantly bucks hard against him, kicking hard against the glove box and spurting hot and wet against Jensen's belly. The low, rasping cry is enough, all by itself, and Jensen bites down hard on the curve of Jared's chest as he shoves against him once, twice, and lets it take him.

They sleep wrapped around each other, dead to the world.

In the morning, Jensen is filled with guilt. He has done a disservice to his student, treated him like a lover. This is not the way it should be. He makes some perfunctory ablutions in the spring they've slept by, not wanting to make a display of them waltzing into the shogun's onsen smelling like sex. Jared seems confused at first and then irritated, but Jensen ignores it. He must.

When they arrive at the Gosho they are all business, and they walk into the audience chamber like the dour, dangerous warriors they are supposed to be. They bow deeply to the throne, perform the most formal of greetings, and then fill the shogun in on the results of the mission.

"Ideally, the land will be profitable to us while we keep it," Jensen explains toward the end, standing at attention. Jared stands just behind his left shoulder, his frame tall and proud. The shogun looks at them both with assessing eyes. "Even if it is not, the section we've appropriated divides the warring families' lands from each other, so if you prohibit trespassing, it should keep them from one another's throats."

Watanabe strokes his beard. "I see," he murmurs. A moment passes, and then he nods. "Very clever, Ackles-san."

Jensen smiles and bows. "Arigato, Watanabe-san." Behind his back, he can sense Jared doing the same, and as he stands, he gestures behind him. "I allowed my student to choose it. He shows much wisdom."

Even as Jensen feels the warmth of Jared's pride at his back, the shogun's mouth curls a little. "Do not be so quick to judge," he says. "It is a boy's first instinct to take what he can - though it may be the right choice, it may not be for the right reasons. You would do well to watch your student closer, Ackles-san. Perhaps he takes too much liberty with you."

Jensen can't believe his ears. The politeness of Japanese society will only permit so much in the way of direct chastisement from two people who are supposed to be similar in stature, and the shogun has just skirted the very edge of it. In another country, he may as well have shouted.

He can feel Jared behind him, equally shamed and angry, and it infuriates him that the shogun has proven correct so quickly. He bows, deep. "O-hai, tonosama. I will take your words to heart."

"See that you do," the shogun says, his tone cold.

Jensen turns and walks out, and is furious to be so aware of the jingle of Jared's armor, following him out.

Jared catches up to him in seconds as they walk down the hall. "What the hell was that?" he asks, in rounded-out English. "You thought it and it was smart, I thought it and it was greedy?"

"I don't know," Jensen says shortly, walking faster. "But we have been instructed and we will follow those instructions. That is our privilege."

Jared falls behind. Jensen can feel his footsteps, the way they echo off the marble halls, and he just keeps walking. He knows his job, he knows his duty, and his face burns red. His hands clench tight.

When the tension breaks, Jared's feet come up fast and hard behind him. Jensen tenses, expecting the clap of Jared's hand on his shoulder. "Hey," Jared says angrily.

Before he can get another word out, Jensen twists, grabs and pulls, and Jared is in front of him with his arm bent up behind his back. Jensen slides up behind him, close, and whispers into his ear. "I will not fight in the hall with you like a child."

"Don't make me," Jared whispers, the threat hovering between them. Tension shivers across the breeze that floats past them.

Jensen lets go, and Jared pulls away, roughly. He turns, and Jensen meets his accusing eyes. "I will speak to you of this in our apartments," he says. "Not before." And with a firm set to his jaw, he walks on.

Jared doesn't follow.

Back in the rooms that have been assigned to him, Jensen carefully and methodically lights candles. Incense, next, and then a soft strike to the small gong on the table, to clear his mind. He sits on the tatami mat, assumes the lotus position and closes his eyes.

His thoughts take a long time to clear. He seeks silence in his soul, but there is such noise - Jared missing, the shogun's anger, the aristocrats' dispute. Could there have been a better way to settle it? He ponders it at length, coming at it from as many angles as he can. Jared's suggestion is the correct one, he thinks, but if not he must know.

After some time, the storm in his mind has settled somewhat. He cannot find silence, so he stands and practices his katas, looking for peace in the familiar pull and stretch.

Outside his window, the sun sinks down.

When the thinnest razor of light is left painting itself across Jensen's ceiling, that's when the door in the next room opens. It's a muffled sound, but Jensen is dismayed to find that his entire body feels attuned to it, like he's been waiting to hear it for days.

He feels the draw, of course. To go over there, to put his hands on his student and assure himself that what is between them is still strong, still necessary for them both.

It is exactly as the shogun warned.

He sets his mouth, grim and pained, pinches out his candles and then washes up with the cloth and basin before going into the bathing room that adjoins his quarters. He climbs into the tub, wanting to feel clean.

An hour slides by, the hot water lapping against his chest, and Jensen cannot relax.

When he climbs out, the weight of the water drags at him. He feels ready, purified, but for what? For nothing, it would seem.

He sighs as he runs the towel over his body, wishing for something he will not name, something that colors his cheeks and makes him linger his towel in places he should not. When he realizes what he's doing, he flicks the cloth away angrily, and stalks naked into the bedroom to crawl under the covers.

Sunlight is replaced by long furls of moonlight, and Jensen stares at the ceiling.

He can feel the seconds sliding away. He hears every creak of the bed in the next room, every shift of the mat. He hears the clink of the ewer, of Jared's ever-present glass of water. He feels the tension that drifts between them, just by being near each other. If he concentrates - which he is not doing - he can even catch the scent of his student's hair.

He flips over onto his belly, and then onto his back again. Every way he lies, something presses against his dick and he can't relax.

When the screen between them slides open, it makes not a whisper. But it doesn't matter - Jensen feels him, the weight of his gaze.

He lets his eyes slide over to the door to take in the beloved face there, shaped in relief by the pale light. Jared's eyes are sad, his shoulders tight. The wide, soft mouth is set in a difficult line. "He was right, wasn't he?" Jared asks, quiet and resigned.

Jensen nods, not looking away. "He was."

"I should go," Jared says, letting his gaze drop. "I should be stronger."

Jensen has to school his hands to stay down, his breath not to rush from him. "You should. And you should have an example to follow - someone to teach you," he adds bitterly.

Jared takes an involuntary step toward him, his body sliding through the light like a knife. The moon turns the reds and blues of his kimono into black slashes, and makes the white glow - his face holds nothing of the sun, and Jensen sits up to try to see him clearer. It's not right, that Jared should be so pale.

"I don't want to go," Jared says softly, reaching out with a big, heavy hand. His student's hand, scarred and rough with years of practice, to be shaped by his own hands, to be...

Jensen reaches out his own hand. "I will fail you," he sighs.

Jared's hand is warm in his own, and Jensen can almost taste the sunlight. "I know," murmurs his lover, and pulls the blankets away.

Jensen feels oddly shy. Jared has seen him naked a dozen times, but this time when he lies back against the pillows, he feels none of his usual confidence. Jared slides the kimono off his shoulders and tosses it across the foot of the bed; when he sits on the edge and runs a flat palm up Jensen's thigh and over his hip, Jensen shivers and turns on his side.

"Come here," he says, clear and serious.

Jared stretches out beside him and Jensen leans up to kiss him, warm and heavy. Jared's sadness and resignation are clear from the tilt of his lips, and from the way he moves so slow and quiet. Still, Jensen can feel the evidence of his desire pressed thick and heavy against his own hip, and he sighs into Jared's mouth and wraps his fingers in the long cherry-wood curls.

The soft touch of Jared's tongue against his own makes him groan, makes his cock thump against his stomach. "Jared," he sighs.

Jared's hand is heavy at his back, warming there. He can feel the heat pool in his spine, and lower down as Jared's hand slides down. He cups and presses the thick muscle, and Jensen pushes his mouth against Jared's harder.

"Do you want me, Jeichan?" he breathes, and tightens his fingers.

Jared hisses a desperate breath; his hand grips tight and his cock presses hard against Jensen's belly. "What do you mean, sensei?" he rasps, precise and proper Japanese, his voice strained tight.

Jensen feels his face heat; he kisses Jared hard, bites his lower lip hard enough to leave it red and throbbing. "Do you want me," he breathes, "the way I have had you?"

Jared stills a moment, his whole long, heavy body shedding motion and sound. "Do you mean this?" He asks, his arms pressing Jensen close.

"I do," Jensen admits, so soft, before closing his eyes and leaning in to press his mouth to Jared's again, feel the heat against his lips.

Jared is still for only a moment more, and then he is sighing against Jensen's kiss, "Oh, Daijen," and rolling him gently onto his back. He lies on top of Jensen and kisses him, deep and slow and drugging.

"I should not allow it," Jensen whispers, as Jared slides down his neck, down his chest. He leaves a trail of spit-slick kisses in his wake, burning into Jensen's skin. "I should not offer, but I."

He buries his hands in Jared's hair and presses up with his hips, just as Jared opens his mouth reverentially. Jensen's cock slides against his tongue, inside, so hot and close and good that he needs to bite his lip hard just to counter the pleasure. Jared groans around him, licking and sucking at him, and Jensen sighs and can't lay still.

When Jared's fingerprints have sunk into his hips and Jensen's cheeks are as red as his cock; when he can't keep his hips on the mattress and he's sweaty and close; when Jared's voice has gone harsh with the friction, that's when he pulls away.

"I need your oil," he mumbles, the English words almost unintelligible, soaked in sun and pressed against Jensen's hip.

Jensen rolls to the side and fishes the jar out of his nightstand. He shouldn't even have brought it, he reflects, but lets the thought float away like a flower in the river.

Instead, he presses the pot into Jared's palm, pulls his knees underneath him and stretches his arms above his head. "Go on," he breathes, and wonders if his blush will somehow melt red against the bright white pillows.

Jared's first touch is as slick as it can be, and so soft and reverent that Jensen is forced to press his hips back against the touch. "Do it," he instructs, his voice heavy.

One of Jared's fingers presses inside him and he groans hard. The stretch and the burn of it, he remembers. It's been a long time. "Slow," he grunts, not quite pained. "Go slow."

Soft, he feels Jared's mouth at the base of his spine - that clever, hot tongue sliding over the bumps and dips - and he arches and bears down on that single, thick finger as Jared presses it closer. "That is not slow," he growls.

"Shhhh," Jared soothes, kissing at soft skin as he presses inside.

Jensen hears himself making noises, terrible and shameful to be heard in the goddamn Kyoto Gosho, so he stuffs up his pillow and pushes his face into it, muffling his own voice. Jared's finger inside him is wide and terrible with power; Jensen forces himself to think of the first time he did this, remember the burn and pain of it, and the pleasure that came after.

But with his fingers tight in the silk and feathers, with the dark that closes around them, he can't bear to think of a man's hands that aren't rough and wide. He can't think of a mouth that isn't pink and smiling, of hair that doesn't curl and shine red in the sun, or a body that isn't lean and hard and perfect.

He can't think of anybody but Jared.

Those pointed teeth close on his skin, high on the curve of his ass, and he jumps. "What are you doing?"

"Had to," Jared whispers back. "Who knows when I'll get to again?"

Jensen hears the smile in his voice and scowls against the pillow. "I am not above hitting you, Jeikun."

"I know," Jared whispers, soothing.

Jensen wonders if he imagines the little hint of sadness in the soft kiss against his back, and then he wonders absolutely nothing at all when Jared pushes a second finger into him. He pushes his face into the pillow again and growls out his impatience, his pleasure, his discomfort, where none may hear.

A wide, warm palm coasts across his back. "Breathe, sensei," Jared soothes, in the softest voice.

It is on the tip of Jensen's tongue to snap at him - I know this better than you, I was a proven samurai when you were still a know-nothing kid in San Antone, don't tell me what to do - but the minute he thinks those things, he hears them for what they are. He feels the rage at himself buried in his chest like a tight knot, the lack of control, and he shoves at it.

"I'm sorry," he whispers, so soft. Jared fucks those heavy fingers in and out, slick and slipping, and Jensen feels the echoes in his belly, in his heart. His breath hitches.

"For what?" Jared asks, kissing him again. "Wait, don't answer. I don't want to know."

Jensen groans as the thick fingers brush him just right, and pushes back against Jared's hand. It's hard to think, hard to do anything. His cock is dripping clear onto the sheets, everyone will know, it's not right, but Jared pushes into him again and he can't think. "Jeichan," he whispers. "Now."

"Okay," husks Jared, soft and sprawling with far away fields and oceans. His fingers slide out and Jensen tenses just in time to feel the bed shift, and the stiff, wide press of Jared's cock against him.

"Ah, god," he whispers, gripping his pillow too tight. This is not right, he shouldn't be doing this, and yet something about it thumps inside him, dragging him toward this precipice.

He shifts back.

And as he feels the thick, heavy breach of his muscles, feels himself open up as he'd never thought to again, Jared's harsh groan rakes the air above him and all the strength leaves him in one sweeping rush. His student pushes into him further, more, and the ripple of Jared's skin is almost too much to bear. " Jei," he whispers, high in his throat, and then bites his lip so he can't make any more sounds like that.

"Jensen," comes the deep, scratching reply. "God, you feel so good."

It's Jared's roughened voice that makes Jensen relax enough, breathe. He pushes his hips just a little, forcing himself to take more punishment, just like when he was a boy, punching a wooden board over and over. And just like then, he is surprised when it doesn't hurt so much anymore.

The heat starts to tickle in his belly, sinking down from Jared's wide palm on his back. "More," Jensen whispers, and Jared gives it, pushing all the way inside until his hips meet Jensen's own. Soft skin slides, and Jensen feels another shiver make its way into his balls, another soft pulse sliding down his cock and slipping to the sheets. The heat starts to tickle in his belly, sinking down from Jared's wide palm on his back. "More," Jensen whispers, and Jared gives it, pushing all the way inside until his hips meet Jensen's own. Soft skin slides, and Jensen feels another shiver make its way into his balls, another soft pulse sliding down his cock and slipping to the sheets. "Jared, do it," he says, as quiet as he can.

Jared can't do anything but obey, pulling out just far enough to press back in, and again, and again. The soft sounds he makes are like cherry blossoms dropping from their trees, soft and inevitable.

They fuck softly, Jared leaning down to press his chest to Jensen's back as he thrusts his hips, slow and heavy. The warmth sinks through them both. Jensen braces his hand against the mattress and takes some of Jared's weight, grabs Jared's wrist and drags it down and underneath. When that broad, hot palm grips his cock, he can't keep a pained moan behind his teeth. He pushes back against Jared's hips, feeling the soft fuzz of Jared's belly brush his back, and it's impossible that they should be here, like this. It's impossible that he can't shove his hips against his lover, feel the hard, heavy burn the way he wants to. It's impossible that he has to be quiet and that he can't beg Jared to go faster. He bites his own arm to hold it back and tries to move his hips just right, just the perfect way to take Jared's cock deeper and to push into his fingers.

"Jensen," Jared whispers again, his hand tight and rough. "God, Jensen, do it. I want to feel you come with my dick inside you, so fuckin tight, god, please, come on and come for me..."

And of course, Jensen does just that.

It tears through him like a hurricane, ripping him to shreds and scattering him wide. His body pounds and shakes, he scratches against the sheets and feels a tear, but can't focus to see.

When he regains something of his senses, he is lying on his side. A ring of tooth prints burns on his shoulder, and the copper taste of Jared's palm is on his lips. Jared's pressed up against his back, warm and slick, his cock still buried inside.

Jensen closes his eyes, and immediately falls asleep.

Deep in his dream, he hears Jared laugh, so quiet. And then the darkness closes around him.

~

The next morning he is alone in his bed, and he can almost imagine that nothing untoward happened. He bathes, ignoring the hint of pink on the cloth, and the tight stiffness of certain muscle groups. He dresses in his formal uniform. He wants to get on the road, not linger here any longer than necessary, and that means taking formal leave of the shogun.

Things will be better at home, he reasons, tying the belt around his waist and hooking his rank insignia to the clip inside. He and Jared can talk freely there, not be so concerned with appearances.

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