Warnings: boyxboy, no historical/geographic setting, AU, adult themes.
Summary: It's Spring time in the capital and everybody rejoices when the Red Caravan and its performers arrive, signaling the start of festival season, however, Prince Yunho is also in town, returning after three years battling in the Holy Land. What happens when the Red Caravan's most famous peformer, Kim Jaejoong, and Prince Yunho meet?
A/N: tThird part, like I promised. I'm not completely happy with this, but oh well.
The prince was sword fighting with a group of children, using thin tree branches as swords. One of the children thrust his sword towards Yunho’s chest and the prince caught it between his torso and his arm, groaning in mock-pain and making a show of falling to the ground.
“You killed me, I’m dead,” he exclaimed theatrically in his best dying-man’s voice, before closing his eyes and sticking out his tongue.
The children giggled and poked him with their swords. Suddenly, Yunho incorporated, screaming like a madman, scaring all the children and making them scamper away shrieking about a ghost. He laughed at the running children and went to Jaejoong who had been calling for him.
“What is it?” he asked.
Jaejoong was standing on the steps leading to the kitchen, dumping a bucketful of dirty water they had used to clean the dishes with into the ground outside. Jaejoong set the bucket down and went to stand next to Yunho; both men leaning against the stone wall of the house to watch the children play. Jaejoong intertwined damp fingers with the prince’s slender ones, their hands squished between their bodies in a discreet gesture of affection.
“Let’s go inside,” Jaejoong said suddenly, fingers wrapping tighter around Yunho’s hand.
The kitchen was empty now but the blonde led Yunho around the long table and through the door leading to the rest of the house.
“Where’s Eomma?” He asked.
“Napping,” Jaejoong replied shortly, while tugging Yunho to the top of the stairs. “Come on, I want to show you the room I slept in for eight years.”
They walked through the foyer and up the wooden stairs Eomma had come down from. The steps creaked under their weight and the dark atmosphere of the house gave Yunho goosebumps. Looking up he thought the second floor looked kind of eerie. He wondered if the children there often had nightmares.
Eventually Jaejoong came to a stop in front of a wooden door. The varnish was peeling from it and the metal of the knob was dull with lack of maintenance. Jaejoong opened the door and stood aside for Yunho to step inside first, closing the door and locking it as soon as he was through the door as well.
Inside Yunho was astonished to see the room was filled with beds and hay mattresses. There were windows that went from the ceiling to the floor and the moth-eaten curtains were pulled apart, letting the sunlight stream inside. The room was much smaller than his and it smelled just as bad if not worse than the rest of the house. He had seen his share of poverty when he was sent to fight for the Holy Land, but having to picture Jaejoong living in those conditions caused an iron bar to twist in his gut and he held Jaejoong’s hand tighter while the blonde remained unbothered.
“This was my bed,” Jaejoong said, standing in front of the one farthest from the door. His eyes quickly shifted to look at one of the hay mattresses on the floor. “There weren’t so many children when I was here though.”
“Looks cramped,” Yunho agreed with a grimace, trying to imagine a younger version of Jaejoong living in that house, sleeping in that small bed in that dark room.
Jaejoong let go of Yunho’s hand and went to stand in front of the window. Outside the children had come back and had resumed their sword game while the girls took turns jumping a rope that Nana and Jooyeon flipped over the jumping girls.
Jaejoong’s blond strands of hair shone golden with the sunlight streaming in long rays through the glass on the window and Yunho felt his breath escape him at the sight. The blonde noticed the stare and tucked a lock behind his ear, smiling shyly.
“Beautiful,” Yunho muttered under his breath.
He approached the other man from behind and wrapped his arms around Jaejoong, trapping his upper arms against his body, his nose trailing over Jaejoong’s neck, collecting the fresh scent there. Jaejoong placed his hands on top of Yunho’s locked ones and sighed contently as he leaned back into the prince’s strong chest.
They watched the children play outside the window, the warm midday sun bathing them in light and warmth. During that moment both men forgot about the state of the room, the smell, the lack of room to move, and focused on the feel of each other. Yunho seemed content with their positions, happy to hold Jaejoong against his chest, close enough to inhale the blonde’s intoxicating scent while at the same time feeling his body against his, but Jaejoong’s face took a pensive expression that, being turned away as he was, became invisible to Yunho.
“We need to talk,” Jaejoong suddenly dead-panned, but it had no effect on Yunho who started rocking their bodies side to side softly.
“What about?” Yunho mumbled against Jaejoong’s neck, placing a butterfly kiss on the pale skin.
“This. Us,” Jaejoong said, fingers tightening over Yunho’s own before pulling away from the prince’s embrace. “We haven’t done anything.”
Yunho chuckled. “What do you mean we haven’t done anything, we have done a lot of—Oh.”
Jaejoong’s fingers were suddenly tangled in the lacing going down the front of his pants creating delicious pressure on the prince’s crotch.
“Now you understand what I’m talking about?” Jaejoong asked, fingertips softly kneading the growing flesh under the fabric.
“I-I can wait,” Yunho said in a shaky breath, his half-hard member jumping as if horrified at his words. Jaejoong noticed and smiled coyly, fingers tightening between the strings.
Yunho cleared his throat trying to look past the haze created by Jaejoong’s touch on his most private parts, placing a hand on top of Jaejoong’s to halt his motions. “What I mean is that, not here. Let’s not do it here. It smells like urine and sweat and the only options are small, squeaky beds, or hay bundles on the floor.”
The blonde looked down with a sigh, taking his hand away from Yunho’s crotch. With his touch gone Yunho’s thoughts cleared and he pushed down the lust that clouded his mind, calming his breath and his racing heart.
“The caravan is set to leave in three days,” mumbled Jaejoong without meeting Yunho gaze.
The prince’s eyes went impossibly wide with surprise, his mouth hanging open at the revelation. “Three days?! That’s…. no wonder the square looked so empty today….”
“The first to arrive and the last to leave,” Jaejoong said in a sing-song voice that sounded like a mockery of cheerfulness.
“Can’t you stay longer?” Yunho started to say but the blonde was already shaking his head.
“We have a schedule to keep, places to perform at. That’s how we earn our keep,” Jaejoong said. His eyes took a mischievous glint and he ran his fingers down Yunho’s sides, causing shudders to run down the taller man’s spine. “Do you want me to stay?”
Yunho scoffed. “Of course I want you to stay.”
Jaejoong self-satisfied hum was accompanied with a smile.
The silence between them was suffocating and in a moment of despair Yunho wrapped his arms around Jaejoong’s shoulders, bringing the shorter man into a tight embrace. Jaejoong wrapped his arms around Yunho’s middle, his ear pressed against the taller man’s chest to listen to the other’s heartbeat. He wondered if they would have another opportunity to stand so close together, if they would ever gain more intimacy.
“This is comfortable,” the blonde commented against Yunho’s breastbone while Yunho hummed in agreement.
Yunho watched out of the window silently while his body tried to map itself against every pane of Jaejoong’s body while at the same time trying not to shake with desperation at their predicament.
Outside the children were still playing, the boys were back to fighting with their swords while the girls pretended to attend an aristocratic gathering, curtsying to any of the other girls that approached them, and pretending to drink tea and setting cakes of mud in a long wooden bench they used as table.
He watched the girls play, those small children pretending to be more educated and of higher status than they were and would ever be, and his mind suddenly cleared, an idea forming within.
“Come to court,” Yunho said, suddenly breaking the silence that seemed to cling heavily around the room.
“What?” Jaejoong asked, confused. He lifted his head from Yunho’s chest, searching in the prince’s eyes for the meaning of his words.
“Come to court, bring the caravan and the rest with you and perform there,” Yunho said smiling, clearly proud about his idea. “You’ll have my patronage so you don’t need to worry about money. We’ll be living together and we’ll have time to do whatever we want to!”
“I’ll have to ask the rest,” Jaejoong said doubtful, but allowed himself a smile.
The moth-eaten curtains billowed in the wind as Yunho grabbed Jaejoong’s face and kissed him deeply, the blonde’s hands holding Yunho’s hips tightly while their tongues wrestled inside each other’s mouths.
Both men tried to deepen the kiss and in their haste to explore each other’s caverns they tripped and fell on top of one of the beds, the weak structure creaking under their weight. The thin mattress did nothing to cushion their fall and they groaned in pain looking at each other through scrunched up eyes before Jaejoong laughed, Yunho joining the melodic sound seconds later with his own booming laugh.
Everything was going to be alright.
Changmin had not even let Yunho finish talking before answering. He already knew that the prince wanted to explain, but he was so against the idea there was no use for further negotiation.
Yunho and Jaejoong had returned to the capital before the sun set. They left the orphanage a couple hours after their visit to Jaejoong’s old room, promising to go back soon bringing some food with them for the children. Eomma tried to hit Jaejoong again when he got cheeky but when Jaejoong hugged goodbye her eyes filled up with tears.
“Don’t you dare to hurt my Jaejoong, Yunho,” Eomma had told him sternly.
“I won’t. I promise,” Yunho had replied, but somehow he thought the old woman did not believe his words.
Either way, facing Jaejoong’s scary adoptive mother was not as nerve-wracking as getting through Changmin. The man had shot down his idea as soon as he presented it. Jaejoong squeezed his hand but it did nothing to comfort him.
“Please understand, Changmin. The money should not be a problem-“ Yunho started but was cut off by Changmin’s annoyed voice.
“It’s not the money, it’s our reputation. We cannot just ditch people like that,” Changmin said, his tone clearly showing he thought he was talking to a child.
Yunho reeled back his anger, knowing no good would come out of punching the sorcerer. He breathed in deeply then exhaled slowly. Diplomacy, he thought.
“Junsu, help us out?” Jaejoong pleaded with his friend but Junsu shot him an apologetic look.
“Sorry Jae, but I’m with Changmin. We cannot stay,” he said.
Jaejoong looked at Yoochun in desperation, feeling his only chance slip through his fingers.
Yoochun merely shrugged, “You know I don’t care either way.”
In the end no amount of negotiating, pleading, begging and groveling changed the others’ minds. Yunho exited the caravan in a couple hasty steps; Jaejoong following dejectedly behind him. Yunho stopped in his steps to calm himself down, his hand going to pinch the bridge of his nose in search for another solution.
Jaejoong stood some couple meters away drawing circles on the dirt with his boot-clad foot.
“I guess this is it then,” Jaejoong said, fighting hard to keep the bitter tone out of his voice.
In the back of his mind he had known during all this time that the thing he had with Yunho was temporary but that did not made the situation any easier to bear. And he could not deny the truth in Changmin’s words either. He was a performer, a traveler of the world, and he liked his life that way. The Red Caravan’s fame was a product of hard work and he could not just throw that away for a fling, as painful as it was to call it that.
Upon hearing Jaejoong’s words, Yunho walked the short distance that separated them and grabbed the blonde’s chin, forcing the other man to look at him in the eye.
“Don’t say that, Love. I still have a card up my sleeve, just wait a little.”
Jaejoong wanted to tell the prince there was no time for waiting anymore but he thought against it, deciding to step forward and plant a soft kiss on the prince’s lips.
“I hope, for our sake, that it works.”
Morning greeted the troupe with the sound of trumpets. The canvas walls of the caravan provided little resistance against the loud tune and without fail all four men inside were instantly woken up.
“Mother of God, shut those things up,” Yoochun wailed, hiding blood-shot eyes behind a pillow as he tried to bury his head between the many cushions they owned.
Jaejoong tried to pry his sleep-ridden eyes open while Junsu was holding a hand to his racing heart, the sound having startled him awake.
“Bloody hell,” muttered Changmin, grabbing his sorcerer’s cloak and putting it over his naked shoulders.
Intend on cursing the person that dared to wake them up with a thousand life-cycles of bad luck he crawled towards the closed entrance of the caravan, pulling the flaps rather harshly apart and stepping outside.
Curious, Jaejoong and Junsu followed, leaving Yoochun’s cranky form behind.
Outside a group of trumpeters stood flanking a messenger and a couple of guards. The men were holding brass trumpets and their uniforms had the royal crest embroidered on their chests. The elegantly-dressed messenger bowed courteously at Changmin, who could only watch and wonder what was going on, before he started reading in a booming voice.
“His Majesty the King hereby extends a formal invitation for the members of the performing group known as The Red Caravan to join him in court. Said members are expected to arrive in two days time, given the nature of their stay in the capital and the artistic obligations they uphold until the termination of the festival. The royal family would be immensely pleased to enjoy the performances as well as the company of such well respected artists and expect an answer as soon as possible.”
The messenger then proceeded to roll the scroll back up, handing it to Changmin with a reverence and stepped back as if waiting.
Changmin unrolled the scroll again, reading through it quickly, his frown deepening with every second that passed. Junsu looked from Changmin to Jaejoong, but the latter only shrugged.
Jaejoong’s attention was on Changmin who finished reading and clutched the scroll tightly in his hand, wrinkling the parchment. The muscles in Changmin’s face were tense, but his shoulders were slumped over as if resigned.
The king’s seal was evident from where he and Junsu stood and the blonde allowed himself a small bubble of hope.
“Damn that prince,” the sorcerer cursed under his breath. “He knows a royal invitation cannot be denied.”
He turned to look behind him, spotting Junsu and Jaejoong by the entrance, both men looking expectantly at him. Then he turned to the messenger.
“Tell His Majesty we’ll be there in two days.”
Just before the group of trumpeters and the messenger left, Yoochun managed to crawl his way to where Jaejoong and Junsu were sitting, and took a peek outside.
Changmin was just standing there, clutching the scroll loosely on one hand, holding it up as if studying it. He would curse the existence of a certain prince after every couple of breaths he took, threatening to curse him for what he did.
“What’s going on?” Yoochun asked, rubbing his tired eyes and trying to chase away sleep from his mind.
“It seems Prince Yunho got his way,” grumbled Junsu before crawling back towards the back of the caravan, no doubt wanting to catch some shut eye before they really had to get up.
When he looked at Jaejoong he noticed the beautiful man could not stop his lips from curving upward in happiness. Jaejoong looked back at him and Yoochun offered a knowing smile of his own.
“Well,” said Yoochun while he stretched, “things just got interesting.”
More A/N: I haaaate, HATE this part! It didn't come out as I wanted it at all, everything was modified and nothing fit! That's why I took so long to update (that and University obligations). I swear I wrote it three times and I still dislike it so much!! I have something to confess: there was smut in this chapter, and eventually, three drafts later, it became this kitty-like, sexless chapter. Don't kill me, I tried my best. I promise smut soon, I swear!