Description Jooyong is working his uncle’s demolition site when he encounters a man in need of protection, but it’s more complicated than your average plea for help. For one thing, the man who needs help is not an ordinary man. And the kind of help he needs is something Jooyong isn’t even a little prepared for.
|Updated||27 Jul 2019|
Jooyong hurried out of room 8 of the derelict Lariat Family Motel and pulled the door firmly closed behind him. The stink seemed to linger on him, and he waved a work-gloved hand in front of his face to try to make it move on. His other hand was stuck holding his phone to a sweaty ear as his mother prattled on. He barely registered most of what she was saying. He had twenty years’ practice filtering her endless gab, taking in only what was necessary to respond when prompted.
He stepped back from the scarred, ill-fitting, baby-blue door to room 8 until he was well into the asphalt parking space that faced the room. He stared at the door with disgusted awe. He didn’t know whether animals had gotten in there, or a pack of wild humans who figured that if a building was abandoned and the plumbing wasn’t working you might as well do your business all over everything, but he was sure of one thing: he had never experienced a piss-stench so powerful he wanted to rip his own nose off.
“Your uncle told me he took you to the site today,” his mother was saying, and Jooyong’s stomach sank. He had a feeling he knew what was coming next, and that he wasn’t going to like it. He’d already been on this call for ten minutes, listening resignedly to her endless stream of hints, digressions, and passive-aggressive commentary as he worked alone in the room, unscrewing paintings from the wall and hauling the tables and chairs out to the center of the parking lot so his parsimonious uncle could decide whether to re-sell them. It was all a waste of time, at least where this lot was concerned, because unless someone had scat-themed décor he didn’t think any of the stuff from room 8 would sell anytime soon.
He wondered if his mother thought about whether it was appropriate for him to be on the phone at work. It was easy for her: she could jabber nonstop while she painted, and usually did, often on speakerphone as she moved around her studio. She said talking to her family and friends as she worked gave the back of her brain freedom to paint the unexpected. Normally “the unexpected” involved squid for some reason, perambulating incongruously down Lautrec-esque moonlit urban landscapes. Unfortunately these Post-Squidpressionistic paintings sold well, which meant her tendency to indulge in long, daily bouts of telephonic verbosity got regular reinforcement.
“Yeah, Ma,” Jooyong said into the phone, still frowning at the oddly colored door, behind which hid so much horror. “I’m at the site now.” Now that he was outside he tried breathing deeply through his nose, hoping it would clear his smell receptors, but the dusty parking lot of a tumbledown, derelict one-story Texas motel was not the ideal place to cleanse your olfactory neurons.
“I thought you were only going to be doing website design and IT for him,” his mother responded. “That’s what you said you were going to be doing. He said he needed you for that. That was what you were supposed to do.”
“I know, Ma,” Jooyong said. His long hair felt plastered to the back of his neck, and he was brushing it away from his skin with his gloved hand when he saw one of the other guys on the team, Mel, coming out of one of the rooms on the separate, identical wing that stood perpendicular to the one he faced. Jooyong froze, his pulse quickening. Most of the guys who worked for his uncle were the human equivalent of pit bulls, his oversized, muscle-head cousins included. But there were three or four who looked like they belonged more on a Milan runway or a photoshoot for overpriced underwear than a demo site, and of those Mel was easily his favorite. He was the cream of them all, the image of relaxed, masculine allure from his shit-kicker boots all the way up to his tousled, dirty blond hair. Everything about him made Jooyong’s breath ragged and his dick want to swell up and point to his quarry like a divining rod.
Jooyong watched raptly as Mel pulled off his damp navy company tee-shirt and rubbed his chiseled, hairy torso with it. “Ma, I do that stuff too,” he told his mother distractedly. “I talked Uncle into letting me work the site part-time on top of that. It’s boring staring at a computer screen all day. I like doing things. You understand that. Being active. Working with my hands.” He was staring intently as Mel slung the tee over his nicely bulging and well-tanned shoulder and bent to retrieve a bottle of water from the cooler near his feet. Jooyong’s eyes followed every movement as Mel straightened up, uncapped the bottle, and took a long pull, draining the container of half its contents. His awareness seemed to zoom in on Mel’s hard, sweat-dappled form, his vision filling with Mel’s long, thick neck as his throat worked and his adam’s apple jogged up and down, then shifting to his balled biceps Mel he held the bottle up to his lips. Then the arm lowered and Jooyong let his gaze waft up to Mel’s handsome, dirty face—only to catch on a pair of bright blue eyes aimed directly at him.
Jooyong hastily looked away. He felt a powerful impulse to flee. He was no coward, not hardly, but he … he had stuff to do. There were fifteen more rooms to clear out on this wing, after all. Seven on the main level and eight more upstairs. Lots to do. He was supposed to have help, but god knew where his cousin Seung was—probably getting stoned somewhere. He forced himself into motion as if having to deliberately unroot his boots from the pavement, and, half-walking and half-trotting, he headed toward the next room on his list, room 7, unsure whether he was imagining Mel’s gaze boring into his back.
He realized as he approached the door to room 7 that he’d zoned on something his mother had said, and that she was waiting for him to respond. “Sorry, Ma, what?” he asked. “I missed that.”
“I didn’t say anything,” his mother said irritably. “I only said you that you’re too small for demolition. Your uncle always says that.”
Jooyong sighed as he tried the door. To his relief the knob turned easily. The rooms were all supposed to be unlocked, but that was one of the jobs they’d given his cousin Seung when the job started last week, so whether it had been done with any kind of thoroughness was as unpredictable as his sister’s hair color from one week to the next. “I’m five-eight, Ma,” he said, stepping into the dark and stuffy room. “And a hundred and forty pounds isn’t puny. I’m bigger than you are,” he added. He could have elaborated about the five pounds of muscle he’d packed on his lean, cut frame in the last couple of months, now that he’d started really applying himself at the gym, but he knew there was no point.
“I paint,” his mother returned, predictably. “I don’t need to be big.” He could have spoken her response along with her, word for word.
“Neither do I, Ma,” he said patiently as he looked around the dimly lit room, trying to assess what needed to be done. Two paintings had to be unscrewed from the wall, both hideous depictions of misshapen fruit in unsymmetrical bowls, garnished with waxy-looking oak leaves for reason that escaped him. Uncle was certain he could get a price for the art, and however deluded Jooyong thought his uncle was the paintings would have to come down, along with the mirror on the other wall. He made a quick inventory of the rest of the space. Three table lamps as ugly as the paintings, in glittery crimson with damaged blood-red lampshades. Two smallish red faux-leather chairs facing a rickety round table. A long, low bureau with dents showing where the TV had been. Two sets of heavy curtains. The queen-sized bed frame was a platform unit bolted to the floor and would have to stay, at least for now, but the mattress would have to be hauled out too.
Jooyong’s brows drew together as he looked around, trying to figure out what was bugging him about the space. There was something strange about the musty room, like a subtle weirdness that was just beyond what you could sense or understand, like it was tickling the edge of his stomach. He shook his head. The unit didn’t smell like a backed-up sewer—that was the main thing.
His mother was still talking. “You’re too small,” she insisted. “I don’t know why your uncle brought you to the site in the first place. Besides, you look better in a shirt and tie.” Amused, Jooyong looked down at his heavy, slightly sweat-stained dark blue company tee, clean dark jeans, tool belt, boots, and work gloves, and smiled. He thought he looked pretty manly, just like all his teenaged wet dreams about construction workers and other hard-working guys. Well, not just like. His mother was right about one thing—he was definitely smaller than most of the guys on the demo team. Especially one tall, hard-muscled, tousled-haired guy in particular. Back in high school he’d imagined himself sometimes in those hard-hat fantasy costumes, bein’ all butch, but these days when he thought back on the scenarios he’d imagined, the guys all tended to look like Mel. Taut muscles bunching as he worked, pounding in nails around fresh drywall. Hauling heavy loads of lumber while barely breaking a sweat. Grinning smugly and adjusting his hard hat as he loomed over his latest very willing conquest. Jooyong swallowed, thinking it was not a bad thing that certain guys were bigger than him.
“You should be in the office,” his mother was saying, and Jooyong had to force himself grudgingly back into the conversation. He needed to forget about the places his imagination took him, and with whom—at least, while he was on site. He firmly banished his erotic imaginings and focused on his mother’s remonstrations. “You need to be using your skills,” she went on. “Your cousins are good for tearing things down. You need to be impressing your uncle with things he doesn’t understand.”
That would be a long list, Jooyong thought sourly. He knew his mother would agree. His mother didn’t think much of her brother-in-law, and six months of working for him had not endeared him to Jooyong either. The man was coarse and bad at listening, and the swelling success of his business had only confirmed him in the worst of his social and business behaviors. Plus always he smelled like meat, for some reason. Meat that was about to go off, like a steak that had been left out on the counter for a day or two. “Tell you what, Ma,” he broke in. “You call Uncle and tell him he doesn’t know what he’s doing, okay? I think he’d take it better coming from you.”
“Oh, he doesn’t listen to me,” his mother tsked. “But—”
“Ma, I gotta go,” Jooyong said, suddenly tired of the back-and-forth. “I’ll call you when I’m getting off, okay? Of work, I mean,” he added guiltily, feeling his cheeks heat slightly. He hadn’t put away those pesky fantasies after all, apparently. Where the heck was his brain? Probably rubbing itself all over Mel’s strong, sweaty, striated chest, he thought uncomfortably. “I’ll talk to you later,” he said into the phone, and disconnected before she could object.
Shoving the phone away in a back pocket, Jooyong huffed at himself and how pathetic he was. A crush, at his age! Get a grip. He moved over to the nearest painting, noticing now that the frame was just as ugly as the picture: cheaply made and finished with gold spray paint. He snorted and got to work, checking the screwheads and retrieving the appropriate screwdriver from his tool belt. He managed to get the paintings and mirror out of the room, then the chairs and tables, before turning to the bed with a sigh. The pedestal had two built-in night stands on either side with cubby-holes in each rather than drawers. Unlike the previous room, though, this one had a wide drawer at the foot of the platform base, and he figured he should check it before he started dragging the mattress out. Hope it’s not full of shit, he thought grimly as he crouched down next to the platform base and considered how to open it. Definitely hope it’s not full of literal shit. After the last room, it was possible. There was no handle, but he could spot a recessed gap underneath. He reached under and pulled the drawer out about a foot and a half before he got a look at what was inside.
At first he thought the two-foot-long human figure lying inside the drawer amidst various scraps of fabric and other unidentifiable odds and ends was a large doll of some kind—an incredibly realistic, very well-muscled and very anatomically correct doll, with light brown skin and dark chestnut hair almost as long as Jooyong’s shaggy shoulder-length locks. Then the doll opened its uncanny red-gold eyes and glared hard at him, making Jooyong’s heart instantly seize up as if it had suddenly imploded in his chest.
“Who the fuck are you?!” the doll demanded furiously, sitting up on its elbows.
With a little shriek Jooyong slammed the drawer closed with a violent, instinctive shove. The doll-man, taken by surprise, didn’t quite move his head out of the way in time and got clipped by the edge of the drawer frame before the drawer was fully closed. “Owwww!!” came a muffled voice from within the pedestal. “Mother fucker!”
“Jooyong!” barked a voice from across the room. Already in a state of shock, Jooyong’s pulse leapt wildly out of control as his head snapped up to see his uncle glowering at him half-silhouetted in the open doorway, his permanent frown looking even more unpleasant than usual.
Jooyong clutched at his hammering chest, but the movement unbalanced his crouch and he fell onto his ass with an “eep”. He steading himself with one hand, the other still holding his chest as if his heart needed to be kept from slamming its way out of his body.
His uncle’s frown deepened, if that were possible. “What’s wrong with you?” he asked gruffly.
“Scared me,” Jooyong got out, barely able to keep himself from stammering.
His uncle grunted, unimpressed. “Loud noises in this business,” he warned. “You get scared when you hear an engine start up or explosives detonate, someone gets hurt.”
Jooyong just stared at him. His homily on safety delivered, his uncle glanced shrewdly around the room, assessing the progress he’d made. His eyes fell on the bed platform. “Anything in there?” he asked, pointing at the drawer.
Nothing on earth could make Jooyong tell his uncle that the drawer in question currently contained a living, foul-mouthed miniature man the size of a red panda. “Nope,” Jooyong said firmly. Nope nope nope.
His uncle squinted at him. “You checked?” he asked dubiously.
“Yup,” Jooyong said immediately.
His uncle grunted. “Your cousin Seung showed up,” he said, in a tone that said that this was an event that could not have been predicted either way. Evidently he was under no illusions about his son’s reliability. “Once I am done … speaking with him about his tardiness, I’ll send him over to you.” Looking his nephew over coldly he added, “Don’t move the mattress without his help.” Without waiting for Jooyong to respond, he turned and vanished into the brightness outside the motel room.
Jooyong stared after him in a daze. Slowly, he clambered to his feet and headed for the door. His feet slowed as he approached it. An impulse came over him to walk through it and keep walking, not stopping until he’d put all possible distance between himself and this place. Moscow maybe, or possibly to moon. Instead, he slowly closed the door, letting it latch gently, then turned the deadbolt, his heart stuttering slightly as he did so. Then he returned to the bed platform and sank to his knees directly in front of the drawer. A cold shiver ran down his spine as certain parts of his brain asked other parts what they heck they were doing.
With infinite trepidation, Jooyong reached under the drawer front and slowly slid the drawer all the way open.
The fuming doll-man was staring daggers at him, holding his head. With a glance at the drawer frame, he dropped his arm and raised himself up onto his elbows again. Jooyong sat back on his heels at gaped at him.
Nothing happened for a moment as they stared hard at each other. Jooyong’s pulse was racing, but his breathing was steady, and he was reasonably sure he wasn’t going to pass out, though he wouldn’t have put money on it. He swallowed. He admitted to himself that wanted to take a closer look at the very fine, very naked, and apparently very real body the small man was currently exhibiting to him from where he lay amid the colorful pieces of fabric in the drawer, but he was afraid to look away from the glittering red-gold eyes that were currently locked with his own.
“Who,” said the small man at last, “are you?”
Jooyong swallowed. He was so full of questions there was no room for anything else. “Why …why are you in the drawer?” he asked. It was the only thing he could get through his mind and out his lips.
The small man bared his teeth. “Who are you?” he demanded.
“Why are you in the drawer?” Jooyong repeated, just as stubbornly.
“Who are you?!” shouted the small man, eyes blazing.
“Why are you in the drawer??!” Jooyong shouted back. He slapped a hand over his mouth, then reacted in surprise at the rough fabric that hit his lips—he had forgotten he was wearing work gloves. He lowered his hand back to his lap and closed his eyes. Raised voices had to be de-escalated. That was almost a credo for Jooyong. It was the one thing he was proud of about himself. He was good at pouring oil on troubled waters. In his family, he had to be.
He opened his eyes and met the angry man’s gaze. It was a handsome face, at least, and fury seemed to make its beauty that much more forbidding. Jooyong wondered what it would be like to kiss those sweet lips, then flicked away the stray thought. His untamed libido crept up on him at the worst times. “My name as Jooyong Lee,” he said calmingly. “I’m here as part of a demolition team. We’re tearing down this motel.” The small man’s eyes widened, and in the same instant Jooyong realized he wasn’t just dealing with a terrifying and inexplicable discovery somehow left behind in one of the rooms. Somehow he’d come face to face with a resident who didn’t know his home was about to be destroyed. The world twisted slightly. This was a concept that meant something to him. He could connect with this… man on that level.
“I’m sorry,” he said sincerely, “but you won’t be able to live here anymore.”
The small man seemed to absorb this. He sat forward, bringing his knees up and leaning his forearms on them, and hung his head for a moment. It struck Jooyong randonly that he looked like he might be rather limber—but he squirreled that thought away. Still, as he waited Jooyong allowed himself to examine his unexpected resident’s naked body. He told himself that it was because he still didn’t believe that the man was real, but he knew that he’d already accepted this reality—the one with a two-foot man in the pedestal drawer—and at least a part of him, the more salacious part, had moved on to how hot he was.
Whereas Mel, his current obsession, was tall, lithe, and muscular in the way of one of those fitness models who post a lot of pictures to Instagram with descriptions involving repeated iterations of words like “aesthetic”, “sculpted”, and “form”, this guy was huge and swole, like a natural bodybuilder whose muscles had built up bigger than anyone had expected, and yet retained all the beauty in face and physique of the freshest and most untroubled youth you’d ever expect to see hurling hay bales from a loft. His hairlessness, apart from his long chestnut mane and a small thatch arounds his impressive genitals, conveyed an idea of youth and purity much as his features did, though Jooyong knew somehow that he was far from young. Bent forward, the small man exposed a back that flared wide as a house, his latte-brown skin warm and smooth in the dim light of the motel room. There was a large, intricately colored tattoo of a leaping tiger across the man’s left shoulder-blade.
“Do you know what happened to my Protector?” the small man asked at last, looking up at Jooyong. The anger seemed to have drained out of him, at least for now, or maybe it had been tucked away. Jooyong somehow sensed the capital-P in “Protector”, but that didn’t help him make sense of what the small man was asking. When he saw that Jooyong did not understand, he explained, “The man who took this room, Archibald Matthews. Arch. Do you …?” He didn’t seem able to finish the question, clearly suspecting he was about to hear bad news.
Jooyong bit his lip. “No one has been at this motel for a very long time,” he said quietly. “My uncle said there was a murder here, like, ten years ago, and the motel hasn’t—”
“Ten years!” the small man repeated in dismay. He leapt to his feet, causing his hefty, uncut cock to waggle back and forth distractingly once he was standing. “I’ve been asleep and un-Protected for ten years!” he said, though more to himself than to Jooyong. He started looking around his drawer, then stilled as his eyes fell on what appeared to be a metal cube with rounded corners and edges, much like a single throwing die and about the same size, but without the spots. The small man picked it up sadly in one hand. It looked like solid silver or something similar and something told Jooyong it was fairly heavy for its size, but the thickly muscled man hefted it easily.
Jooyong was about to ask him to explain what was going on, starting with why there was a sexy, living doll-man a third the size of a normal person sleeping under a bed in an abandoned shit-hole motel in Middle-of-Bumfuck, Texas, when suddenly their conversation was disrupted by the sound of the doorknob being jiggled roughly by someone outside. They both snapped their heads toward the door.
“Joo! You in there?” shouted a voice from outside. Jooyong knew it could only be his thick-necked stoner cousin, Seung. His mind careened in frantic circles as he tried to sort out how to handle the situation.
“H-hey, cousin!” he called back after a second from where he knelt. Unable to think of anything to say, he added, “How’s it going?”
“Terrific! Stupendous!” came the sarcastic response. “You want to open the door, Pipsqueak?”
Jooyong stole a glance at the small muscle-man. The man in question was currently staring up at him with wide eyes, and in that moment a powerful, mostly inexplicable desire to safeguard this strange little man welled up in Jooyong. He turned back toward the door and very nearly gave his response as “Not really,” which would at least have been more honest.
“The, um, lock’s stuck on this side!” he called out instead. “I guess you need to find the key!”
“Fuck,” Seung replied. “Are you shitting me?” Fortunately this was apparently a rhetorical question, because the next thing Jooyong heard was the sound of boot soles scraping on concrete at his cousin turned on his heels to go find one of the motel’s master keys. Jooyong had one in his pocket, but it wouldn’t take Seung long to find another.
As soon as Jooyong turned back toward the drawer, the little muscle-man said, “I need your help. Will you … Protect me? Only temporarily,” he added quickly with his hands up reassuringly, as if putting a time limit on it would balance out his asking what sounded like the kind of favor you normally shouldn’t ask of a complete stranger who just discovered you in a drawer ten minutes earlier. His proud red-gold eyes were pleading.
Jooyong had again heard the extra layers in that word “Protect”, though he didn’t know what the additional meanings entailed. He did want to help the little man, and not just because he was, as he realized at that moment, almost desperate to touch his incredible body. He also knew that they had very little time. But his brain was balking, telling him this was all too much, too fast. “I—I don’t know you,” he stammered. “And you don’t know me. You don’t know you can trust me.”
“No choice,” the man in the drawer said. The words might have seemed brutal, but Jooyong heard the urgent vulnerability in them. “I have to trust you, Jooyong.”
Jooyong chuffed out a breath, his heart fluttering at hearing his own name on those lips. “I don’t even know who you are,” he repeated, stalling.
“I’ll tell you everything later,” said the small man, glancing past Jooyong toward the door. He met Jooyong’s gaze and said, “My name is … Hard.”
Jooyong frowned at him, momentarily sidetracked. Okay, but how hard could it be? Maybe it was one of those Eastern European names with lots of pointy things and no vowels. He could empathize, as he knew from experience that plenty of people had trouble even with simple names. Like Jooyong, for example. He smiled at the small man standing before him in the scrap-strewn drawer. “If you say it slowly,” he said reassuringly, “I think I can give it a go.”
The little muscle-man squeezed eyes shut, pinching the bridge of his nose. “No, Jooyong,” he said, slowly and carefully. He sounded like he was struggling mightily not to rain curses down on his much larger interlocutor. “My name,” he continued, looking back up at him, “is Hard. H-A-R-D.” Jooyong blinked once at him. “Like your skull,” Hard gritted out.
Clarity dawned, and Jooyong grinned shamefacedly at him. “Oh, right,” he said, chagrinned. “Sorry.”
Hard was about to speak, but at that moment they heard Seung’s voice again suddenly from beyond the door. “Hey, Joo,” his cousin called out, “I can’t find the key, and this fucking eyesore’s coming down anyway. I’m busting the door down, okay? Stand back!”
Alarmed, Jooyong turned to Hard. “Take the cube,” Hard said quickly, holding the silver cube up to him. Automatically Jooyong started to take it, but Hard abruptly pulled it back. “Wait!” he said. “Your gloves!” Not understanding the problem, but knowing there was no time for questions, Jooyong ripped the glove off his right hand. Hard gestured he should put out his hand facing up. When he did so, Hard dropped the silver cube onto his palm. Jooyong had time to register that it was, as he’d suspected, quite heavy for something so small before Hard started pushing at the backs of Jooyong’s fingers, and Jooyong understood that he was to clasp his fist around the cube. He did so, and instantly he felt a thrill of wild energy flying through him like a thousand bolts of lightning.
In the same moment, a loud smashing sound came from the front of the room, the noise of the impact massive enough for Jooyong to almost believe it was a rhinoceros trying to bust into the room instead of just his rhino-sized cousin. Involuntarily Jooyong whipped his head around to stare at the door. The flimsy door frame around the lock was already splintering. Seung would be through the door in seconds.
“Jooyong!” Hard shouted frantically. Jooyong turned back to him, realizing as he did so that he was shivering with the towering quantities of energy feeding into him from the cube. He didn’t know what he was being prepared for, but he knew he was about to find out.
“You have to kiss me,” Hard told him, his red-gold eyes almost luminescent in the darkened room. “Right now.”
“Wh-what?” Jooyong said, floored. Did Hard know about that stray sexy idea he’d had before? Was he being called out? Millions of thoughts were spinning through his head, and the rush of energy from the cube only seemed to make them swirl faster.
“Hurry!” Hard was shouting. Jooyong’s consciousness seemed to tunnel, so that all he could see was Hard’s handsome face, contorted as it was in fear and exasperation. “Kiss me! Kiss me, now! Kiss me, you stupid, ridiculous fucker!”
Jooyong couldn’t think of a reason not to kiss this strong, powerful, beautiful man. He leaned his face down toward where Hard stood in his drawer, almost quivering with impatience. There was a loud smash behind them, but Jooyong didn’t turn to see. He pressed his mouth against Hard’s much smaller lips, and then space seemed to fold itself inside out, and Hard’s warm, sweet mouth was all there was, and there was no difference in size or dimension, just a single kiss that was more fulfilling, more satisfying, than any Jooyong had ever experienced or even imagined. The two men intersected with reality, not quite within it, and Jooyong felt Hard’s muscular body against his, and Hard’s strong arms, wrapping around his own smaller frame, as their kiss deepened and their adamantine cocks pushed irresistibly against each other.
And then, in a single still moment, Hard came inside Jooyong … in the most literal way possible.
When Jooyong’s eyes fluttered open, he saw two alarming things. The first was that there was no two-foot-tall, naked, latte-skinned muscle-man standing in the open bed-pedestal drawer shouting at him or cursing him for his idiocy. The drawer was still filled with those random scraps of thick fabric that Hard had been using for a bed during his long slumber, Jooyong guessed, but there was no sign at all that the little muscle-man himself had ever even existed, and Jooyong immediately stabbed himself with the horrifying thought that he might have completely imagined Hard and everything that had happened in the last few minutes. If that was the case, Jooyong thought with mounting panic, the only explanation for everything he’d just experienced was that his brain was as broken as the Titanic before it sank. He could still feel Hard’s warm, sweet kiss on his lips, and everything it had done to him.
The second was the tree-trunk legs and booted feet of his cousin almost directly in front of him. Clearly Seung had succeeded in breaking into the room, and was now standing before him, witnessing his descent into bananatown.
“Joo, you okay?” Seung’s knees seemed to ask. He could smell pot on his cousin, and wondered whether it was possible he could be getting a really, really intense contact high. But no, this all started way before Seung had literally bashed his way into this truly fucked-up situation.
Jooyong struggled to pull himself together. He needed to make sense of what he was feeling. Euphoria still coursed through him from the … whatever it had been that he and Hard had experienced together, in that single still moment that seemed to fall between the discreet ticks of normality. More than that, he could sense that whatever had begun in that moment was, somehow, still happening to him. Something was happening deep inside him, and his heart, though it was beating at a normal, steady pace, seemed still to be crashing through him, over and over again, each beat thundering incredibly in his ears. Or—no, it was … it was like it was … two beats. Two pulses.
Jooyong knew that was impossible, and maybe it wasn’t literal. But he was now strangely certain. There was only one way to account for Hard having been there and not being there now, and for the feeling of … bonding he’d experienced with Hard from the moment their lips touched, and for the strange sense of his heartbeat being doubled. He had two life-forces within him.
By accepting the role of Protector, however “temporarily,” Jooyong had agreed to take Hard’s life force—his essential being—inside himself.
“Joo—!” Seung’s voice said, more insistently this time.
Jooyong remembered the extra spike of energy instilled in him by the cube, which seemed more to have settled into him than to have dissipated, leaving his body stimulated and fresh and his mind slowly ramping up to match. The cube! He opened his ungloved hand, but where the cube had been there was now what looked like a silvered tattoo, as if someone had inked the palm of his hand with a simple, isometric wireframe of a six-sided die without the spots. And then, even as he watched, the silvery tattoo seemed to vanish into his skin as if sinking away into profound, invisible depths. Before he knew it the image had vanished, and he was staring at his unmarked palm.
“Joo, are you drunk or something?” Seung was now demanding, having shifted from concerned to testy. “Get the fuck up! Pop says we have to do this whole wing today.”
Jooyong looked up at his mountain of a cousin. He was, in fact, a very large man, and somehow his wearing the same uniform as Jooyong—dark blue company tee, jeans, boots, tool belt, and gloves—only with everything much larger (and also less generally clean and well-cared-for) managed to emphasize his cousin’s superior size (not to mention his habitual slovenliness). Jooyong liked guys who were big and powerful, and Seung was actually not bad-looking, especially if you liked thick eyebrows and didn’t mind the lingering reek of marijuana; but the bottom line was that Seung was built less like a fitness model and more like a fridge. He thought of Hard’s hugely muscled yet erotically perfect form, and imagined him the size of Seung, looming over him. Something quivered in Jooyong’s tight stomach at the idea.
When their eyes met, Seung drew his brows together. “You got red contacts?” he asked in surprise, then started shaking his head. “Your mom is not gonna like that,” he observed, with exactly the kind of grin you gave a family member who was soon going to get a verbal pasting from his famously strait-laced mom. He gestured with his chin toward the bed. “C’mon, let’s get the mattress, then we can do the bureau and take down the drapes.”
Still trying to orient himself, Jooyong got unsteadily to his feet. It wasn’t quite as easy at it should have been, just standing up. He’d done it literally countless times, but now it was almost… he didn’t know. It was almost as if his center of gravity had shifted, he decided. Jooyong’s head swam. Now standing, he looked up at Seung. His cousin was still, as always, much taller than him, but still… it didn’t seem like quite the angle he was used to, somehow.
Seung eyed him sidelong. “Dude, you been working out?” he asked dubiously, as if an affirmative answer wasn’t something that should have been within the realm of credibility, yet nonetheless seemed indicated by the evidence at hand. Jooyong had, in fact, been working out, getting ready for the physical work his uncle had finally agreed to let him do, so he just nodded mutely.
Brows still knitted, Seung seemed to be assessing him as if he were a puzzle. Then his gaze seemed to catch on something. His eyes widened, the thick brows flew up, and he actually took a couple steps back from Jooyong. For a moment Seung just stood there gaping at him open-mouthed, before managing a strangled “Dude, what the fuck?”
Jooyong stared back at him, stomach twisting. The comment about the red eyes had finally penetrated, lining up perfectly with the previous sensation of a new, second life-force inside him. There was only one explanation. And if his eyes had turned red, maybe that meant that there would soon be only one life-force inside him, and not the one he was used to.
He realized that Seung was still goggling incredulously at him. “Wh-what’s wrong?” he stammered.
“Dude, you’re hard!” Seung said, voice rising in pitch. “Why are you hard?”
Jooyong felt thunderstruck. His pulse raced. “I’m not! I’m not!” he protested frantically, several kinds of panic flooding back into him. “I’m still—”
“The fuck you’re not!” Seung shot back, pointing an accusing finger at Jooyong’s crotch. “Fuck, Joo, they could see that thing from space! What the fuck?”
Jooyong stared at Seung for another second before looking down at himself. First he registered what Seung had meant with his earlier comment about working out—even from this vantage he could tell that his pecs seemed to stand out a little more against his thick work tee shirt, and though he didn’t have time to examine his arms closely, if his forearms were any indication the slight upgrade to his physique was probably general. Even as the thought occurred to him, he became aware of the tightness of his jeans, which before had fit him well and now seemed snug around the thighs and across his ass—and also an inch or so two short.
But that wasn’t was Seung was making a fuss about now. Seung’s shaking finger was pointing at Jooyong’s hugely erect cock. Except it wasn’t quite Jooyong’s cock, not anymore. Maybe the shape was the same—he’d always loved the perfectly cylindrical, torpedo-like thickness of his previously respectable, but very average, tool. But the iron-hard, quivering erection thrusting up from his groin and radiating warmth back into his skin looked like it was trying to make its way toward becoming a real, actual, life-sized torpedo through simple proportional expansion. It was massive, easily big enough for three or four hands, and it was making itself extremely obvious as it shoved rudely up under his heavy tee until it topped out most of the way up what he suspected were his now insanely chiseled abs.
“Oh,” Jooyong said uneasily, completely at a loss. “Heh. Weird.”
“‘Weird’,” Seung parroted in a low, slow voice. He lowered his arm and otherwise remained very still.
Hard, Jooyong thought. It had to be Hard. Hard was doing things to him. Changing him. Changing him more and more. Hard was taking him over!
In that moment, Jooyong became aware of a new wave of incredible energy and power flooding through him, ten times as intense as what he’d felt when he’d first accepted the silver cube. His whole being seemed almost to shimmer. Before Jooyong could react, either in exuberance or panic, he distinctly heard a voice from somewhere deep inside his own mind.
Don’t think about me, Hard’s voice said. It was clearly a warning, and an urgent one.
The instruction seemed so ridiculous that Jooyong wanted to laugh out loud—and it would have been a crazy laugh, a laugh maniacal enough to send Seung pelting out of the motel room in search of the men with the white coats and butterfly nets. You can’t tell someone not to think about something! Jooyong thought wildly. That’s a guarantee that they’ll—
Stop, Hard’s voice cut in firmly. You have to stop. Focusing on me intensifies the changes to your physical form. We did this too quickly. You weren’t properly prepared. You must not think about me, not until you have mastered how to control your thoughts.
Are you nuts? Maybe … maybe I’m nuts, Jooyong thought, his stomach dropping like an elevator in freefall. Shit, shit, fucking shitty shit. He was still staring down at himself, every attribute and in every dimension juddering on the verge of something more, something else, and his intense awareness of how in flux his entire body was only made his sanity, his very existence, seem unbearably precarious. Please, please! he thought desperately. What am I supposed to do? What the fuck am I supposed to do?
Think about reality, Hard pressed him. Think about your job. Your family. You must control what happens to you now, in this moment. Think about this moment you are in, Jooyong. Think about how you are being counted on to Protect. How that means that you must be safe and normal.
Jooyong’s mind raced. He was right. Hard was right. He had to protect his new … friend, or passenger, or whatever, and that meant he had to protect himself. His charge. He’d agreed to be Hard’s Protector, and that was a promise, and a commitment, and a responsibility. A very pressing one, at the moment.
He had to steady this moment, and that meant being safe and normal.
Jooyong rethought about his situation. He was on the job site. Seung was standing over him, agog at his very inappropriate condition. Things could get much worse from here, he knew. It would not be a good thing for his career if word spread that he was a perv who was spending all of his time on the job sneaking into closed rooms and obsessively pleasuring his unnaturally huge dick. He looked up and met Seung’s gaze—and he could tell that Seung seemed to be thinking exactly that. Excuses. He needed a line of approach that both rationalized and reassured. He was good at this. Making calm out of agitation—that was his thing. He started with his so-far unexplained arousal.
Jooyong took a slow breath and aimed a crooked smile at his cousin. “I, uh, found a stash of old porn,” he explained lamely. “Got distracted.” He tried to chuckle like a guy who’d been caught leafing through an unexpected trove of dirty magazines. “Forgot I’d be getting… company soon.”
Seung immediately shifted gears, breaking into a licentious grin. “Oh yeah?”
“Oh,” Jooyong said, not expecting this reaction. “No, you wouldn’t be interested. It was all dudes, man, sorry.”
Jooyong felt himself slowly calming, and took another deep breath. His body already felt more stable, setting into the new form he’d discovered himself in on waking up after the bonding. Okay, so far so good, he thought. Just be me. Be me in Reality. There was no response in his head from Hard, which was probably a good thing. He determined to remain focused and see this moment through.
Seung grimaced at the idea of all-dude porn. “Fuck that shit,” he said. His words seemed to be belied, though, by the way his eyes seemed unable to keep from dropping to Jooyong’s new and incredibly obvious monster erection. After a minute Seung swallowed and said, “I, uh, had no idea you were that big.”
Jooyong had had a few compliments on his pleasantly girthy cock before, so it wasn’t completely beyond his experience to shrug and say, “I guess,” like someone who was totally used to straight guys lusting after his boner. Right now, there were a couple things he knew with some degree of confidence: whatever had happened to his body was because of Hard; and the bonding they’d undergone meant that Hard was inside him, his life-force alive and responsive within him, in some way intertwined with Jooyong’s. Knowing he would be able to have a nice long talk with his new body co-pilot later was helping him to relax in the now and go with the flow. A flow that seemed to involve a cock so big it instilled undue interest from his pussy-worshipping cousin, who, at the moment, couldn’t seem to keep his eyes off the thing.
Seung had been worrying his lower lip. “Can I, um, can I see it?” he asked finally.
Jooyong was surprised, but not displeased. Put things on an even keel and smoothing out confrontations meant looking for opportunities, and Seung’s curiosity afforded him an direction he could easily turn toward restabilizing things between himself and his extra-large cousin. He gave Seung an easy smile. “Suuure,” he drawled. “But, you know, aren’t you worried your dad will see you? Perving on my dick an’ all?” he teased.
This was a calculated move on Jooyong’s part. Seung might take offense, but he didn’t think he would. Jooyong knew from experience that a well-placed poke between friends or family members actually signaled awareness and protection of the other’s vulnerabilities. If it was done just right, in a positive way, it was taken as love, not scorn. Jooyong knew how to parlay family flaws into trust and appreciation. If he hadn’t known how to work his computer-suspicious uncle, after all, he’d never have even gotten a job with him, much less been here today to experience … whatever the fuck he had just experienced. The meeting with Hard. The bonding.
He was still not completely convinced he hadn’t made a horrible, horrible mistake accepting Hard’s plea, even if he couldn’t really see himself making any choice other than agreeing to help Hard when he’d asked for it. And the incredibly pleasurable energy and strength that seemed to be teeming all through his upgraded body told him not to discount the idea that his deal with Hard might, in the end, be a turn for the better.
Seung’s response to his jab, meanwhile, was to glance guiltily in the direction of the busted-down door. Then, moving closer, he grabbed Jooyong’s shoulders roughly in both of his meaty hands and turned Jooyong’s body slightly so that his back was fully to the door. “Okay,” he said, dropping his arms again, like he’d solved their only problem. His eyes flicked between Jooyong’s face and his dick, clearly waiting for the big reveal.
Jooyong grinned. If their positions were swapped and Seung were the younger, hotter cousin with the forearm-sized cock, Jooyong would be begging him for a look-see, too. He contemplated humming some stripper music, but elected, under the circumstances, for a simple, gradual lifting of his shirt. Seung watched, enraptured. When the monster was fully freed it sprang forward an inch, then remained rigidly vertical, the slit slightly damp from a smeared bead of precum. In fast succession Jooyong knew he wanted to taste that precum, and then became acutely aware that he almost certainly could, and with ridiculous ease.
“Wow,” Seung said, clearly in awe. He looked up to meet Jooyong’s gaze. “Can I touch it? Please?”
Jooyong hesitated. His body was still quivering with the euphoric aftermath of his epic communion with Hard. Instinctively he felt that even a simple caress just now might hurl his already overwhelmed senses way beyond what he could handle at the moment. At the same time, he felt a ridiculous urge to charge Seung for the privilege. He was pretty sure could pry a twenty out of Seung for it easy, maybe more. But he pushed the thought away brusquely. He quickly resolved to get the touching thing off the table while letting Seung down easy. “Um—” he started to say.
“Just real quick,” Seung said. Before Jooyong could say anything else, Seung quickly reached out and stroked the back of his crooked index finger all the way up the front of Jooyong’s wide, enormous shaft. Jooyong gasped, shuddering with the intense pleasure—fuu-uuck, his dick was so sensitive now! Christ, imagine if it were groped by someone he was actually into.
And then, unbidden, an image of Mel came into his head. Standing in front of Jooyong just as Seung was. Staring down at Jooyong’s big, beautiful cock… and licking his lips.
With that thought Jooyong was in imminent danger of succumbing to a massive release right there on the spot, all from a simple caress and a very hot image in his mind. Jooyong had to spend several seconds painfully fighting off the mind-blowing orgasm threatening to engulf him. Mastering himself with great difficulty, he quickly pulled his shirt back over his hard-on and took a step back from Seung for good measure, taking several rapid, deep breaths in succession.
“Sorry,” Seung said, clearly surprised by the extent of Jooyong’s reaction. “I guess that stash you found got you pretty riled up.” Assessing the obviousness of Jooyong’s not-at-all-hidden monster he added, “Maybe you should go in the bathroom and, you know, take care of that?”
Jooyong considered this, but he strongly suspected that this particular appendage did not yet know the meaning of the word “soft”, and that it would, in all likelihood, take a very long time to learn it. “Let’s just get to work,” he sighed, turning and moving around to the far side of the bed so they could get started on the mattress. “Five minutes in the toilet isn’t even going to make a dent in this thing.”
“I hear you,” Seung said, matching his position on the other side of the mattress, as if he knew all about stubborn monster hard-ons. “But if you, uh, need any help later, let me know.”
Jooyong shook his head and didn’t respond, though he kept a smile on his lips so Seung wouldn’t think he was too upset at the idea. He hefted the mattress, finding it easier than expected, though its size and mattressy flex still made it as willful and contrary as grumpy mule—or, he added wryly to himself, a foul-mouthed, thigh-high, supernatural muscle man with a knack for twisting up other people’s lives without telling them what they were in for. As he and Seung hauled the mattress awkwardly out to the parking lot, his rigid, heavy monster cock barely shifting against the inside of his shirt as they moved, Jooyong reflected that there was another giant dick making his life weird right now. And that one had a fuck-ton of explaining to do.
The rest of the afternoon was a torturous exercise in trying to clear out the remaining five rooms of their wing of the motel while desperately trying to ignore how uncannily turned on he was, how huge and impatient his thick, slavering, indefatigable dick was as it strained for attention under his shirt, and, perhaps most distractingly, just how much his giant, thick-necked, apparently bi-curious cousin and work partner for the day was as aware of those things than he was.
Worse, Jooyong was filled with strength and a vast, inchoate, storm-like energy that he was barely containing within himself. It felt almost like he was literally keeping it within his skin, and if he wasn’t adamantly in control of himself every moment it could rip free and… he couldn’t imagine what. It wasn’t Hard—he wasn’t the energy, Jooyong knew, without knowing how he knew. The energy was Hard and Jooyong. It was what happened when a something like Hard merged with something like Jooyong. Catalyst, and cataclysm.
He kept remembering and then shying away from that one unnerving moment—the one where Hard had spoken to him so urgently. Don’t think about me, Hard had said. You must not think about me, not until you have mastered how to control your thoughts.
Hard was within him. Though he was laying low and wasn’t speaking for the moment, Jooyong could feel Hard inside him, as if he had suddenly discovered that the human body had an exotic, hitherto unknown and unimagined extra dimension, another physical center that existed on some heroic plane that overlaps with our own in some twisted but utterly natural way—and now his second, overlapping center was occupied and filled for the first time. It was strange and unaccustomed but not unpleasant, and with the very real sense that the intruder belonged there in some primeval, intrinsic, and deeply soul-satisfying way.
Like a big cock up your ass for the first time, Jooyong thought wryly as he methodically worked to liberate a scratched-up, ten-year-old flatscreen from where it was mounted on the puke-green interior wall of room 2. His balls lurched at the thought, and his massive, heat-radiating boner flexed happily, sliding against hard abs made slippery under his shirt by sweat and occasional releases of thick, slippery precum. His tight company tee was probably plastered to it, he thought, which would be just fine as long as he could keep his back to everyone for the rest of his life.
He continued working at separating the TV from its mounts. He was becoming an old hand at uninstalling cheap, ancient flatscreens, seeing as all the rooms after room 7 had had them. He was beginning to appreciate the simplicity of Hard’s old lodgings, given that the TV there had been (a) a truly ancient console model and (b) missing. Appropriate for a guy who lived in a drawer, he guessed, but he very much wanted to know what had happened there, and how Hard had seemingly lost ten years of his life.
He wrenched one of the connectors loose and the flatscreen lurched abruptly free of its moorings. He easily took the weight thanks to his newfound strength, but let out a small “oof” of surprise anyway. Seung glanced over from where he was unbolting another of those hideous gold-framed mirror, twin to the ones in all the rooms they’s worked in. “Need a hand?” his cousin asked.
“I got it,” Jooyong said without looking over at him. He set the screen gently against the wall by his boots. A hand? People shouldn’t say stuff like that around him when he was this hung up on his cock and the way it was begging and pleading with him for friction and release. He was not the kind of guy who walked boned up and fucking thirsty all the time, and the experience of it was a bit overwhelming.
He had to stop thinking about sex. And he especially had to stop thinking about sex with Seung. At the moment he was finding this to be rather difficult, what with his cousin’s meaty, masculine frame and the waves of the interest coming off him and crashing over Jooyong like a psychic high tide. Seung wanted to “try” him—that much was obvious in everything from his burning gaze to the heavy, thicker-than-usual bulge in his cousin’s crotch. He was hot for Jooyong, and he wasn’t hiding it—he was a dog when it came to sex enough on the best of days, a real alpha dog but with the attitude that usually came with that replaced by extra libido. If his cousin were a pasta, he’d be testosteroni.
Jooyong straightened up, still not looking left. He pretended to be absorbed in analyzing the metal mounts for the TV bolted into the fugly-green wall in front of him, but he could feel Seung watching him. If he let Seung anywhere near him, Jooyong knew he would bust the restraints holding him back from… from… well, he didn’t know what, but he’d gotten a scary taste of that redlining, out-of-control possibility of transformation before, and it had felt like the start of him ripping free from himself in a way that might be like Billy Batson turning into Shazam—or it might be like a phone exploding in a microwave. Before he freaked out, in every possible sense, he needed to have a few quiet words with his body’s unexpected new co-pilot.
We will talk, Hard told him, speaking up for the first time since Seung had quite literally burst in on them. Jooyong thought he sounded reluctant, like Jooyong might not like all he had to tell him. No shit. He picked up a screwdriver from on top of the nearby bureau and started working on the flatscreen’s mounting frame. When you are done laboring and can be alone, Hard continued, his words seeming like sound without actually being sound in a way that was, in truth, slightly squirmy. Then we will talk. And eat.
Jooyong paused. You eat? he thought back at Hard, then immediately regretted it. Lord, is it possible to think-speak without actually thinking? He frowned, yanking out the heavy screw he’d been untwisting from the stud before it was quite ready and moving on to the next one with a frown.
Hard seemed amused. His emotions were there, meshing at the edges with Jooyong’s, but Hard was much more practiced at control than he was. He had an uncomfortable sense that his clawing back from almost losing it back in the other room was more down to Hard’s strong swill than his own. Oh, I eat, Hard told him. Though you might not like knowing what.
Ha ha, Jooyong thought back at him. He was 80 percent sure Hard was fucking with him.
I am a living being, Hard went on equably. I eat, I breathe, I poop…
Jooyong froze in the midst of reversing out the screw. What? he thought. Wait, are you pooping now? Again, he was immediately slapping his forehead mentally. From somewhere inside him he felt Hard laughing gently at him. Well, now I know what kind of creature he is, he thought glumly. Hard was definitely a grade-A, full-blooded, pure-bred-from-the-dawn-of-time troll.
Control. He needed to learn control. Actually, what he really needed was to learn how to fly this whole Protector thing. That had to be one of the things they talked about, along with all the general what-the-fuckness of Hard and what had happened before, during, and after room 7. They would definitely have to have a nice chat later, he thought. After you are done laboring. He smirked to himself, ripping out the second screw with ease and tossing it to the carpet. “Laboring” sounded like the word his mother would use. His mother—that was what he needed mixed up into all of this. “All of your education,” he could almost hear her rambling distractedly over the phone as she daubed inexplicable things on one of her canvases, “and you choose the spend the day laboring.”
He moved on to the third screw with a grim smile. “Yeah, Ma,” he imagined himself sardonically replying, “I like it so much I got a fat, leaky, roaring hard-on that’s tickling my left nipple as we speak.” Lord, what would she even think about—
Seung’s big hand was on his shoulder, warm and assertive. Jooyong stilled, everything in him reacting in spades to the simple touch, like all of his receptors had been turned up to ten, then past that to fifteen, or maybe fifty. His brain stalled like a time-traveling Delorean, and he could swear his blood heated by five degrees. His oversized wang shifted left under his shirt like it was trying to seek out the feel of that hand.
“What’s funny?” Seung asked softly. He was very close. Without looking Jooyong could tell he had that tentative smile on his face people got when they were asking about someone else’s amusement.
Jooyong’s heartbeat seemed to fill the grotty motel room. This near at hand Jooyong could smell his sweat: it was musky and thick without being acrid, underlaid with a hint of pot. He slowly turned to look at his cousin, and both their smiles faded. Their eyes met, and Jooyong could see his cousin’s gaze was positively blazing with what had to be the most intense bi-curiosity he’d ever seen.
Is this me? he thought dazedly, enchanted and alarmed all at once. He disliked not being in control of what was happening to him and to Seung, and yet… it felt so good to be exciting this kind of craving desire for hot, hard, pre-slippery cock in his snatch-loving cousin. It felt more than good. He tried to imagine what Seung was seeing, what he might be drawn to so irresistibly, and with a flutter in his stomach he unexpectedly remembered again Seung’s earlier remark about red contacts. Red eyes—he had red eyes now. Or were they red flecked with gold, like Hard’s? Did he have Hard’s eyes, or were they his own?
Is it me, turning him on this much? he asked inwardly, staring hard up at Seung. Or is it you? Us?
Hard’s response, however, was not in answer to this ultimately existential question. Instead he repeated what he’d said in the other room. Safe and normal, Protector, Hard reminded him, warningly.
Yes. Jooyong knew this. Safe and normal. Protector. His lizard brain wanted to rationalize messing around with Seung, though. He already knows about your monster permaboner, it told him. And he definitely won’t be talking about your new weirdnesses to anyone…
You are not prepared for this. You are not ready. We did this too fast. There was an edge to Hard’s mental voice. You must control what happens to you now, in this moment. He was dead serious.
Seung gulped, still not looking away from Jooyong. “I’ve… uh, never kissed a guy before,” he said with an adorable trace of chagrin. He said it like a man who knew he was about to no longer be able to say those words, and was pretty okay with that, because not taking this moment, this kiss, was rapidly becoming impossible for him. Jooyong was starting to feel that way, too.
Just a kiss, Jooyong thought, with the part of his that wasn’t being reduced to a hot mess murmuring horny… tall muscley guy wants to kiss… wants me… hand feels good… kiss feel good… need dick touch nooooow…
Seung’s stare was focused on his lips. His whole body was infinitesimally closer, a solid flesh monolith of heat and lust. How hard was Seung right now? What kind of cock did he even have? Did he want to make out? Mess around? Fuck? Did Seung know what he wanted? Long odds against that, but then Jooyong didn’t know what he wanted to lay beyond the kiss, either. He just knew that he wanted. He wanted the kiss, he wanted the touch Seung had already started giving him. The warm strength on his shoulder and the look in Seung’s eyes felt like a promise. He… wanted. Lord, did he want.
Seung started to dip his head, cautiously watching Jooyong’s reactions closely the whole time. Unconsciously Jooyong ran his tongue along the inside of his teeth as if limbering the talented muscle up for the game ahead. Jooyong… Hard growled from somewhere within him, but Jooyong barely heard him.
Something was building up in him. It was like a torrential river welling up against a vast but flimsy dam, ready to rip it savagely open and crash down with merciless force onto the hitherto tranquil valley below, leaving behind a rampaging path of violence and devastation. His flesh seemed to be filling with fire. But all Jooyong saw was Seung’s lust-dark eyes… his actually kind of handsome face, with a bit of sexy stubble along the jawline he hadn’t noticed before… his strong neck and round, unsculpted traps. All Jooyong smelled was Seung’s pot-tinged sweat and his cousin’s mounting arousal. All Jooyong could hear now in his throbbing head was horny… kiss… touch.
Seung’s mouth was descending in slow motion toward his own, Seung’s eyes now shut in preparation for the sensual experience of the kiss. Jooyong tilted his face slightly and let his eyes flutter closed.
Then the air changed around him. Warm wind seemed to lightly buffet him from all directions. He opened his eyes with a start to see that he was not safely tucked away in room 2 of the Lariat Family Motel, he was not standing in front of his beefy stoner cousin about to be kissed. In fact he was not indoors anywhere, and he was not standing at all but was suspended in mid-air a scant two or three feet over some kind of—lake? He had a chance to take in a long, curved expanse of blue water, some semiwooded surrounding flatlands, and a pair of startled-looking, semicute fishermen in a long white rowboat no more than a stone’s throw away before gravity—which apparently had been giving him a Wile-E.-Coyoteseque breather—lurchingly reasserted itself, and he fell, boots, jeans, work gloves, fat raging mind-of-its-own monster boner and all, into the cold, dark water.
Jooyong came up for air a moment later, sputtering and splashing. “Shit!” he shouted as soon as he could, flustered and enraged. “Shit, shit, fucking shitty shit!” He treaded water as best he could, not helped by the weight of his shit-kicker boots and sodden jeans. This was beyond ridiculous. “Motherfucker!” he shrieked, even as he became acutely aware he was the only thing making noise for miles around in any direction. He looked around at the distant shores, but recognized nothing apart from the generic sunbeaten scrub of the north Texas flats.
Fucking calm yourself, muttonhead, Hard barked at him. The mental voice seemed louder than before, and strident, as if Hard were just as irate as Jooyong. If I had known you were so incapable—
“I am calm!” Jooyong yelled aloud, thrashing about in the cool water. Jooyong had had no idea the lakes around here could retain their chill so late in the day. He felt cold and soaked through, all trace of the carnal fire that had been seeping through him snuffed out. He angrily used one sodden-gloved hand to shove wet hair out of his face. “I’m always calm—or I was before I met you!” he ranted. “And who are you calling muttonhead, you shit-eating cockblocker!” He let out an inarticulate scream of sheer, transcendent, and very wet annoyance.
“You okay there, buddy?” a voice said. Jooyong whipped around as best he could in the water and saw that the two fishermen he’d seen before had paddled closer and were now close by, eyeing him with wary concern. The one in front was a friendly looking and fairly nice-looking young Latino, wiry but defined, with decently broad, dark-skinned shoulders exposed by a cool blue tank-top. At the moment he was offering Jooyong a reassuring smile, unlike his companion, a pale-skinned and freckled red-head with a mop of corkscrew ginger hair, a matching short and well-trimmed beard, and an overall dour expression. He was wearing a long-sleeved white tee and a broad-brimmed straw hat against the brilliant sun, casting half his face into soft, latticed shadow.
“This ain’t a swimmin’ lake,” the redhead grumped. By this Jooyong, still treading water, knew that it was his Latino friend who had first addressed him. Now that he wasn’t shouting, Jooyong was starting to take in just how quiet and calm things were out here. The only sound seemed to be his own arms and legs threading through the still lake water, and the gentle sloshing this produced against the white paint of the long, wide fishing dory. Feeling like an intruder, Jooyong self-consciously tried to reduce his movements to lessen the noise he was making.
“Yeah, I—” Jooyong started to say, though he wasn’t sure what explanation might cover suddenly appearing three feet in the air over the surface of a random lake. It didn’t matter, though, as the redhead spoke over him anyway.
“This is a fishin’ lake,” he went on stolidly. “You swim here, you’re liable to get a hook in your back.”
“He’s already got a harpoon in his front!” laughed his friend, pointing at Jooyong’s unrelenting hard-on. Its outline against his wet shirt must have been visible even under water, along with his buffed-up muscles. Great.
The readhead stared at it mistrustfully. “Too thick to be a harpoon,” he muttered after a moment.
“True that,” his companion agreed, still chuckling. “Looks more like you’re smuggling a Pringles can under there. You must really love swimming, huh, buddy?” he added, laughing at his own joke.
No, I’m just happy to see you, Jooyong thought. He had no idea what these guys thought he was doing out here, and he certainly had no desire to explain apparently swimming a quarter mile into the middle of the local “fishin’ lake”, or leaping joyously out of the water like an orca, which was as close as he could figure out to covering his unheralded mid-air arrival in this place.
He couldn’t keep his thoughts on his present predicament, though. It was starting to become uncomfortably clear to Jooyong just how badly he’d fucked up back at the hotel with Seung, not that he hadn’t known that what he was doing was wrong and stupid at the time. He didn’t know what would have happened if all that potency had been unleashed, and in a way his ignorance and reckless disregard of same was exactly the point.
Jooyong was innately the kind of person to take take responsibility for the situations he found himself in. It was his job to fix things, and he had to fix things with Seung—he needed to, like an ache. Except, to be able to fix that situation, he had to first fix this one. Which was him being out here treading water in the middle of some lake, fully clothed and completely inexplicable to the astonished locals. Part of him wanted to blame Hard for this. But he knew in the pit of his stomach that this was the lake Hard had had to dunk him in as a last-ditch Hail Mary to prevent some kind of sex-transformation explosion that Jooyong had almost allowed to happen out of sheer lust—not to mention the almost certain reveal of a secret he’d agreed to keep safe and protected, even if he hadn’t known exactly what he was signing on for.
The two men were watching him. He remembered his famed conciliation skills, and now seemed like a good time to prove to his co-pilot he was capable of equanimity and the calm management of dicey situations. “I really do love swimming, you’re right about that,” he said calmly, deliberately projecting both a reassuring composure and a hint of sheepish awareness of transgression. He didn’t add that it was always in the Olympic pool at his local gym—to them he was a crazy, lake-swimming fiend. “I’m afraid I got too carried away playing around out here. I hope I didn’t startle you too much!”
“It’s not a ‘playin’ around’ lake,” the redhead countered gruffly, evidently stuck on this one aspect of their situation. Jooyong gave him a narrow look, trying to figure out if the man was obsessed with his fishing and annoyed by anything that interfered with it, or just really into demarcations.
He turned instead to the man’s Latino companion and offered him his winningest smile. “Sorry to have bothered you,” he said with sincerity. To Hard he added inwardly, How do we get back, by the way?
Shore’s that way, Hard replied grumpily. After that you can walk for all I care. Jooyong nodded, his heart sinking. “You made your bed,” he could hear his mother saying in her infuriating sing-song cliches-are-cliches-for-a-reason voice.
“You, ah, need a lift back to shore?” the Latino said. His eyes dropped down to the “harpoon” under his shirt, then back up to Jooyong. Lord, not this joker too, he thought. Am I going to turn every cute guy I lay eyes on into a horndog hungry for my cock?
The redhead looked at his friend for the first time. “Osito,” he hissed.
“What, it’s just giving the nice man a lift to shore,” the Latino said over his shoulder, before turning back to Jooyong with an unmistakeable expression on his face. “Just bein’ neighborly is all.”
Good grief, Jooyong thought. Though he normally went for bigger guys (like Seung) or tall, muscley pretty boys (like Mel), under other circumstances he might have given the lean little Latino a second look, and maybe a third after that. The redhead wasn’t badly put together either—in fact they were both a little better-looking than he’d thought they were. But it didn’t matter. Right now he was treading water with sodden boots, jeans, and gloves in a deep, cold lake, and for all his oversized boner hadn’t relented so much as an iota, sex was the last thing on his mind right now. Or, well, very nearly the last, anyway.
He gave the two men another bright smile. “It’s okay, I’ll make my own way,” he told them affably. He glanced over at the nearest shore, then back at the guys in the boat. “So, er, which direction is—?” He paused, considering whether to ask about the motel site or the little town he lived and worked in, but Hard broke in before he could decide.
For Pete’s sake, just dive, he said.
Jooyong blinked. “You know what, I’ll figure it out,” he said. “Have a great rest of your day!” Then he drew in a breath, closed his eyes, and dove down under the surface of the lake, making for the area under the boat where the men wouldn’t be able to see him. As soon as he’d swum down enough to be out of sight he felt the world change around him again, and he knew that Hard had taken him back to the motel.
Jooyong opened his eyes in the hot, still, and comparatively dim motel room to see Seung looming over him, his own eyes closed as he descended hopefully for his first dude-on-dude kiss. Jooyong’s heart sank. So much hand changed in that interstitial moment between now, before, and now, now. He was still incredibly turned on—his new heat-radiating superdick and equally revved up balls seemed like they might actually be literally indefatigable, if they were doing shit like passing through a cold water dunk only to come out as raring to go as ever—but Jooyong had taken a step back mentally, awake once more to an imperative: he had to hold back until he and Hard had… well, he guessed he needed training in being a… shit, he had no vocabulary for what was happening to him. A merged, transdimensional more-than-mundane? Or something.
Seung’s lips looked very kissable to him in that moment, now that he couldn’t have them. And how had he never noticed Seung’s eyelashes? His cousin was a lunkhead, a refrigerator who worked out to get strong and didn’t worry about getting cut or sculpted like a magazine pretty boy or a pro muscle-head, so did noticing his rare-steak-red kissy lips and stuff like that mean Jooyong was gone for him, or just aching for a fuck?
Jooyong bit gently at his lower lip. With considerable reluctance Jooyong reached up and pressed a soggy-work-gloved hand against Seung’s tee-shirted chest, stopping his descent only inches from Jooyong’s face. He frowned to himself—was Seung’s chest a bit firmer than before? Maybe a little thicker? He wanted to dismiss the idea, what with the fact that he was feeling Seung’s heavy pecs through thick, wet work gloves; but as he glanced down he noticed that Seung’s characteristically soft belly was now looking firm and flat.
He looked up at Seung in time to see him open his eyes, his confusion clear; but what Jooyong saw was that Seung was definitely just one notch better-looking than before. Something… something intangible had happened to his cousin’s face, and maybe no one would notice—but Jooyong could see see it as clearly as a lit screen in a dark room. Shit, he thought. I did something to him. I DID someting to him!
Seung saw Jooyong’s upset face and drew back a little, visibly hiding his own reactions behind a neutral expression. “I thought you wanted to,” Seung said quietly. The tone was half protest and half apology, like Jooyong’s rebuff had him questioning everything he’d been feeling only moments before.
Shit, he thought. Shit shitty shit. He had to fix this. And it wasn’t Seung’s face or his abs that mattered right now. He was on the razor’s edge of really being a colossal dick to his cousin.
He calmed himself as best he could. “That’s the trouble,” Jooyong said honestly, surprising himself a little. He gave Seung a crooked smile. “I really do. Want it, I mean. Can’t though, not like this.” He paused and shrugged innocently, even as he fumbled mentally for exactly the right out.
Seung’s brows contracted together, and he moved back from Jooyong’s face another inch or so. “What does that mean?” he asked cautiously. His eyes widened, and the mood shifted with a snap. “And—why the fuck are you wet, dude?”
Jooyong had just cobbled together how he wanted to word his evasion for not messing around with Seung, so he tried ignoring the second question while he got the first bit out. “See, I’m… I’m more of a ‘date me first’ kind of guy,” he explained hurriedly. “I’m so riled up I would be a real brute to you, and that’s not—”
But Seung was looking down at where Jooyong’s dripping work glove was soaking a big, cold wet patch into the middle of his tee where it stretched across his (subtly larger) chest. He was clearly completely tuning out Jooyong’s excuses, and when he looked back up at him it was with real consternation. “Joo. Dude. Why are you wet?” he asked again insistently.
Then something in Seung’s expression shifted slightly as he met Jooyong’s gaze, as if he were noticing again Jooyong’s sudden acquisition of gold-flecked, ruby-red irises and a subtly different angle between them—Jooyong kept forgetting he must have gotten a couple inches taller along with the muscle buff-up and the overkill upgrade to his junk and his sex drive.
Jooyong’s gut twisted, which automatically produced a wide, disarming smile as a self-trained defense mechanism. His overstressed but still nimble mind raced for a second like an engine in the wrong gear, until he noticed again that the whites of his cousin’s eyes were still tracked all round with thin, red telltale lines.
“What do you mean, why am I wet?” he laughed, like Seung had forgotten something they’d both recently experienced together. He widened his smile conspiratorially and added, “Dude, how much pot did you smoke this morning?” Then he shook his head, as if his cousin were being a big doofus for losing track of whatever had happened to them. An exploding sink, a sudden five-second downpour, a Gatorade-style dunk by the guys—it was usually best not to provide false details in a situation like this, not without a few genuinely true elements to anchor them with—and he was completely unable to think of any at the moment.
He didn’t like lying as a tool for smoothing out rough situations, especially not here and now where it meant fucking with Seung mere seconds after he’d backed out of giving the man his first ever dude kiss; but he knew, as much as he hated it, that lying was his only option here if he was to have any kind of chance of backing out of this without making things even worse. And what practice he’d had with lying so far in his life, on the occasions he’d had to resort to it, told him that creating a gray area to crawl through, hopefully with an added diversion to draw attention away from it, was his best means of escape.
Seung reared back some more, flummoxed by Jooyong’s insinuation. “That’s not—why are you—you weren’t wet before!” he sputtered, but there was just a hint of doubt in his voice. Seung undoubtedly had done a lot of weed that morning, and it couldn’t have all worn off yet. With any luck he’d be questioning what he’d seen that day, including Jooyong’s overall level-up and his fence-post of a cock. Jooyong could only hope. If Seung had been having unconscious fantasies about him before now, his cousin might just rationalize at least some of this as a high-induced expansion of the same long-building desires.
Jooyong patted his chest and smiled warmly up at him, distracting his lusty cousin. “Listen, I gotta go,” he said. He moved to slip around his larger cousin, then at the last moment remembered he’d be walking out into the demo site with a giant erection extremely visible where his sopping-wet shirt was hugging it like it was creating a mold for future mass reproduction. Casting about for a split second he spotted the flatscreen resting on the carpet against the wall and bent to pick it up, holding it directly in front of his raging, attention-loving monster wang.
He looked up again and gave Seung a soft, apologetic smile. “We’ll talk tomorrow, okay?” he said, making sure Seung knew he meant it. Impulsively, he lifted himself up on tiptoes and gave Seung a quick peck on the lips. He then quickly turned and left the motel room with the flatscreen brandished in front of him, trying not to hate himself for what he’d just done to Seung, and what he’d almost done to Hard before that. Quashing a sweet, budding bi-curiosity was one thing, even if only temporarily; but betraying someone you were supposed to protect was just low. He had to get better at all this, and fast.
It was bright and blazing hot outside, as always in this part of the world. He spotted his uncle over by his double cab King Contracting company pickup, talking to Mel—or, rather, his uncle was flipping sourly through the plans and inventory sheets on his clipboard while Mel talked volubly at him, a small half-empty water bottle from the big cooler seemingly forgotten in his hand. Uncle’s dog, a Bordeaux Mastiff named Dogue who acted as a company mascot, lay sprawled and relaxed-looking on the asphalt in the shade of the truck, ignored by all and ignoring reciprocally.
Jooyong paused, eyeing Mel with a grimace. He wasn’t up for dealing with his pretty-boy muscle crush right now, but he gritted his teeth and headed over toward them anyway.
When Uncle looked up he seemed startled to see him. At first Jooyong thought he might be picking up on Jooyong’s light bout of muscle swole until he spat out, “You’re wet.”
Coming from his uncle Jooyong knew this was a demand for an explanation. “Yeah,” he said with his best crooked smile. “You, uh, don’t want to know.” Hey, there’s that kernel of truth, he thought wryly. He definitely does not want to know about anything that’s happened to me today. Plus there was a more than good chance that if he left it open, his uncle, knowing who he’d been working with, would follow his natural tendencies and chalk whatever it was up to his underachieving, oversized son. Hurriedly Jooyong breezed on to what he really needed: extrication, immediate. “Hey, Uncle, I just got a notification on my phone,” he said. “There’s a problem with the website server and if I don’t go back and fix it now—”
“Yeah, yeah,” his uncle said. He had very little patience for technogibberish, fortunately. He eyed Jooyong’s burden narrowly. “What’s with the TV?”
“Oh. I thought I’d mount it in your office,” Jooyong said. “Is that okay? We could use it to monitor the security feeds on the active sites.” This was a viable possibility, as Jooyong had managed to convince his uncle to use a cheap cloud-based camera system on the properties they were responsible for during their demos; but there was also a TV already in his uncle’s office that he knew his uncle used for watching k-dramas after hours instead of going home right away, and that was a shitty black and white console he knew his uncle hated but was too cheap to upgrade.
His uncle considered this a moment, eyeing both Jooyong and the flatscreen with suspicion. “Is it wet?” he asked at last.
Thrown, Jooyong blinked at him. He glanced at the dog, who’d lifted his head and was following all this with a dispassionate expression, then looked back at his uncle. “No, of course not,” he said. He wanted to add “Just me,” but something told him if he didn’t bring up his own damp status again his uncle wouldn’t dig further just now.
“Hmmm,” his uncle said, still focused on the TV. “How are you mounting it? You don’t have brackets.”
“In the car already,” Jooyong said quickly, taking a step backward in the direction of his vehicle, away from Uncle and Mel. He needed to get out of here pronto. His dick had given a big sophomoric twitch behind the flatscreen at the word “mounting”, reminding him that his libido was ramping up again bigtime. Especially now he was in close proximity to Mel, whose ass, he couldn’t help but have noticed up close, just happened to look poured into those snug pants of his.
In fact the model-handsome blond with that body that begged to be described with words like “carved” and “aesthetic” was currently looking him over like a prized steer at an auction. “You been working out, Jooyong?” Mel said. He sounded impressed, like he hadn’t expected the extended-family nerd to also be so visibly interested in achieving full muscle pulchritude.
Jooyong finally looked at the other man and scoped him up and down as blatantly as possible. “Not as much as you, clearly!” he said, smiling brightly at him. He slipped a tinge of lascivious intent into the observation, and it had the intended effect.
“All right, all right,” Uncle said dismissively. He wasn’t actually homophobic, Jooyong knew, but he wasn’t happy about encountering random instances of gayness, especially at work. To Jooyong he said, “Here tomorrow?”
Jooyong nodded, glad his uncle was still willing to see out his interest in manual labor at least, even if it was only to get two employees for the price of one. “Bright and early,” he promised, mentally crossing his fingers that he’d have everything sorted by then. Or enough of it to pretend to me normal, he hoped.
“Good,” his uncle said, turning back to his clipboard. “Set an example for your cousin.” As he looked for the sheet he needed he added distractedly, “Take the dog. Too hot today.”
Jooyong hesitated, then called the dog, who clambered obediently to his feet and started padding his way. Jooyong backed away another couple of steps, then turned and made a beeline for his beat-up hatchback, which was parked on the other side of the motel lot. To his dismay he realized Mel was trotting along after him along with the dog. As he reached his car he shifted the TV to a one-handed grip, still careful to hide his shirt-stretching mini-phone pole cock, and went about pulling the glove off his other hand with his teeth so he could have a go at wrestling his keys out of his sodden jeans pocket. He made sure to keep his back to Mel as he did so. “You need a hand with that?” the hunk asked solicitously.
Jooyong grabbed the glove from between his teeth and set it on the roof of his car so he could respond. “Nope, I’m good,” he said, shifting to keep his back to Mel as the other man tried to move around to Jooyong’s side. He went back to digging for his keys, which were putting up a fight, wadded up as they were in the thick, wet cloth. Dogue sat back on his haunches and panted gently, waiting with stoic, big-doggie patience for the humans to finish their banter.
“I meant, back at the office,” Mel clarified.
“Nope, still good,” Jooyong said, not looking up. He almost had the keys out, but he realized he was stumped for what he’d do after that if Mel was still panting around him. As soon as he loaded up the TV into the car, he’d be exposed.
“See,” Mel went on, unfazed, “I’ve been noticing you looking at me and, well, I think you’re pretty hot too. Smoking hot, actually, and…”
Jooyong moaned inwardly. I swear you’re doing this deliberately, he groused at Hard, as Mel went on about how perfect it was for hot guys to date each other. I’m finally pulling guys left and right, and I have to bat them away like I’m an Amish promise-keeper or something. What’s next, Chris Hemsworth shows up and makes a pass at me, too?
I don’t know who that is, but don’t worry, Hard said. He was definitely amused, like he was hiding secrets Jooyong would totally wish he’d known from the outset. You’ll get your chance. In a way, that’s what this is all about. You’re just—
Not ready, I know. He felt ready, or at least his raging cock and churning balls and heated flesh all did. But I better be ready soon, because I’m doing something to these guys and it’s kind of—
Crazy scary amazing? Hard said. That’s what my old Protector called it, the first time.
Mel was still talking. Jooyong wasn’t paying attention, but—shit, was Mel’s voice a little deeper than before? Shit shitty shitterton. What was he doing to these guys? And why was it such an enormous turn-on for him that he wanted to drop the TV with a crash, bend Mel over the hood of his 2017 baby-blue Honda Civic hatchback, and ride him hard with the entire demo team watching and cheering him on?
He took a deep breath. Yeah, he said inwardly. That. Crazy scary amazing.
He looked up at Mel and was about to interrupt his (now slightly more baritone) gushing about how he’d been noticing the way ripped Korean guys were always getting massive likes on Instagram and Jooyong should really go for it and see what would happen, but at that moment Uncle called impatiently across the parking lot. “Melvin! Help with the sofa in 24!”
“On it!” Mel called back. He turned back to Jooyong with a rueful smile. “To be continued?” he asked hopefully.
“Sure,” Jooyong said, smiling back at him and hiding his impatience. If anyone had told me this morning I’d be trying to get free of a conversation with Mel about how he’s into Korean hotties… Or fending off kisses from Seung, of all people…
Mel hurried off, not neglecting a full, romcom-esque turnaround for a last backward, grinning look at him. Jooyong raised the hand with the keys in it and waved, noting with a shake of his head as the other man turned and jogged away that Mel’s long legs looked just perceptibly longer, and the perfect V of his back that was lightly stretching the upper reaches of his uniform tee likewise looked just a shade longer as well, and that much more completely perfect. It was tremendously subtle, and Jooyong was only seeing it because he knew now to look for it, but it all amounted to a Mel who was even more of a fantasy fuck than he’d been before now. He could almost feel his dick and balls practically commanding him to go and tap that, quick, before he got away.
Jooyong ignored his body’s rush of desire for the retreating hunk and instead quickly loaded the TV into the hatchback and the dog into the back seat before retrieving his glove off the roof, and diving into his car. He drove away slowly, pulling off the other glove as he did so. He thought he should feel relieved as he accelerated onto the state highway toward town, but he kept noticing how the seat belt shoulder strap chafed uncomfortably over his prodigious, steel-hard, and very frustrated wang, and the way his wet underwear had ridden up enough around his swollen balls that he now needed to get naked even sooner than his libido demanded. One thing he didn’t notice as he sped away was his cousin Seung, standing in the shadowed doorway of room 2 and watching him until he disappeared from view.
Jooyong slowed as he entered the low-slung, sprawling and reasonably prosperous farming town of Haddock, Texas (named for a man, not a fish), the buildings seeming to rise up around him as if emerging out of the green flats for a day of basking in the punishing sun. The light at Lincoln Avenue, one of three in town, flicked to red, and as Jooyong rolled to a stop he took the opportunity to consider his options.
Though he liked to pretend he lived independently, his comfy cozy garage-attic bachelor apartment was only a hundred feet or so from the house in which he’d grown up and which was still occupied by his mother. She’d be there now—she was there pretty much 24/7, either in the sunroom she’d claimed as a studio, or in her garden, or secreted away in the library she’d had chocked full of books on art, painting, and (what she thought of as her little self-indulgence) a broad array of romantic mysteries. Even at night she was as likely to be prowling the kitchen or in the darkened studio staring at her latest cephalopodic endeavor as in her own rooms.
The office was no good either. He could see it from where he waited at the light, occupying the upper story over Klutz Hardware (long story). It should be standing empty with everyone out at the site, but as it happened King Contracting had been doing well enough lately that they’d recently hired a receptionist; before, all the calls had routed to Uncle’s cellphone when they were on a site, which had tended to make him even crankier. Margie was Jooyong’s age, perky with spiky teal-dyed hair, and Jooyong was starting to think from the saucy looks she’d been giving him that she might have a crush on him. Not only did he definitely need to be alone right now, but testing out his uncanny sex-boosting effects on unsuspecting straight girls was definitely off the table.
The light turned, and he started moving slowly through town, trying to figure out a destination. He glanced up at the rearview mirror. “What do you think, Dogue? Where should we go?” Dogue had no suggestions, and Jooyong bit his lip as he continued driving, passing the hardware store and the office above it. He needed someplace no one was going to be. Someplace that wasn’t being used. Ironically the Lariat would have been perfect, if it weren’t being prepped for demo at that very moment. But thinking of the Lariat as a derelict property made him abruptly remember the abandoned Dairy Queen just north of town. He knew how to get in (another long story), and even he knew the water was still hooked up so he could give Dogue a bowl to lap at while he sorted things out with Hard in the stockroom, which was likely to be naturally cool even on a day like today.
Plan formulated, Jooyong made a sudden right, earning an annoyed honk from the farming truck behind him, and headed for the north end of town.
The first thing Jooyong did once he got to the abandoned DQ was make sure he was the only one there. No cars in the weed-parked lot—that was a good sign, and when he and Dogue slipped past the broken lock on the service door (after a quick pit stop for the mastiff by the side of the building) they made a quick canvass of the relatively cool interior and saw no signs of human visitation more recent than a few old crunched-up beer cans tossed in the under-counter cooler whence so much freezy goodness had once derived.
The water was still inexplicably connected, thank goodness. Jooyong had discovered this little unexpected boon back when he’d come out here a few times with high-school make-out buddies, and having fun with the sprayer that snaked out of the sink on a long hose had become one of the post-play highlights of the visits out here. He smiled as he found a large steel bowl in a cupboard in the prep area behind the counter, rinsed it out, and filled it with nice cool water for Dogue, who was watching his movements attentively and who started determinedly lapping up his refreshment before the bowl hit the floor. Watching Dogue made Jooyong realize he was thirsty, too, so he did the same with a smaller bowl and chugged it down himself. He topped off his bowl and used it to refill Dogue’s. He considered going after Dogue with the sprayer, just for old times’ sake, but decided the beast wasn’t likely to appreciate such jocularity at the moment.
“I’m going back to the storeroom, okay?” he told the dog cheerily. “You stay up here and keep a lookout, all right?” The dog spared him a look before returning to his work. Jooyong laughed and rubbed the dog’s head before slipping into the back room, making sure to close the slightly warped door, still marked “Employees Only”, as much as it would go before turning and inspecting the well-remembered space.
The room had been build to stay cool even in summer, with no windows and extra-thick walls, and was mostly empty, with a few long, white metal benches and some counters with empty cubbies under them set into the side wall. The comfortable air temperature and finally being alone made Jooyong feel safe for the first time in hours. It was something of a jolt to realize he hadn’t been feeling safe, and he drew in a long, deep breath. Without letting himself even think about what he was about to do he shucked off the still-damp tee shirt, exposing his indomitable, blood-hot and leaky tipped, almost-chest-high erection. Laying the shirt over the metal bench behind him, he took only a heartbeat to drink in his expanded, incredibly defined chest, arms, shoulders, and abs before sitting and gleefully ripping wet boots and sodden socks from his miserable feet.
I thought you wanted to talk, Hard said from inside him, bemused and grumpy.
Oh, I do, Jooyong replied. His mood was considerably lightened by the cool safe space, a bit of water, and the chance to finally get shed of his lake-dunked clothes. He tossed the last sock onto the boots with the other and stood to work on the rest of his kit. This, though… this is a necessity. He unbuttoned and unzipped, then shoved his thumbs under the waistband of his briefs and shucked it all down, jeans and underwear together. The heavy wet material pooled around his ankles and he kicked happily out of it, then dropped bare-assed back down on the shirt-covered bench. His legs were buffed up too, he noticed, not that he was surprised. He looked like a freaking peak tri-athlete now, like he could swim, bike, and run for days—though his still-hot blood and eager junk was telling him that other endurance sports might be even more fun.
“Okay, now I’m ready,” he said aloud. It felt good to speak to Hard, rather than just thinking at him (not to mention safer), so he added, “And I want to talk face to face.”
Hold out your hand, Hard said immediately, and imagine the cube. Jooyong did as directed, focusing on the palm of his hand. For a second or two nothing happened, but Jooyong knew this had to work. This was the main entry-exit mechanism, and so would be the most tested part of any system. He was pretty sure this wasn’t actually software, not really, but it was a set of processes and mechanisms of the sort that software often mimicked. This had to work smoothly and reliably, as long as he concentrated on it working. Sure enough, a moment later the heavy silver cube was weighing in his palm. Sure would bring new meaning to the phrase object-oriented programming, he thought drily.
He looked up, and a dark, naked, chestnut-haired, exquisitely handsome and supremely hung two-foot-tall muscle man was standing right there on the concrete floor in front of him, gazing up at him with fierce red-gold eyes.
Jooyong’s massive dick shuddered slightly, and his balls surged with deep appreciation. “Shiiiit,” Jooyong said, long and low. He closed his fist around the cube and rested his arms on his newly defined thighs. “You are—” he started to say. Then he realized something and looked down. “Hey, I didn’t change back,” he said. He rapidly checked himself over, then looked back up at Hard. “Why didn’t I change back?”
“Why would you?” Hard answered. He padded over to the bench beside Jooyong and hoisted himself up onto it with ease, like an Olympic gymnast who was just warming up and hadn’t even gotten to the good stuff yet. “You are my Protector and my Host,” Hard continued. “This is how you are now.” He folded his legs and sat opposite Jooyong a foot or so away, and after a moment’s hesitation Jooyong bought his leg over, careful not to kick the smaller man, and turned to face him on the bench, more self-conscious than ever of the gigantic erection standing shamelessly tall and ready between them, and the heavy, fat balls below begging for action.
“What, so now I’m like this, forever?” he half-sneered. “I get to go around poking people in the eye from now on?”
“The eye is not where I would recommend—”
“Dude, seriously,” he said. “This thing is huge.” His free hand twitched, wanting to touch it, or just poke it to demonstrate its adamantine hardness, but he kept his hands where they were. Then it suddenly occurred to him, at this very inopportune moment, that this monster tool was actually huge enough… maybe, if he bent over just a bit, and opened nice and wide…
Nope, nope. Nope, not the time. Of course the colossus in question wanted to hear more about this intriguing possibility, but Jooyong resolutely redirected his focus to Hard instead and asked, maybe a little plaintively, “Does it at least go down? Ever?”
“You might be able to control it,” Hard said, almost hiding his amusement. “Like all else with us, it will take practice.”
Jooyong nodded. This beating around the bush was not getting him very far. Time to cut to the chase. “Your Protector and your Host,” he repeated. “Perhaps we should talk about what I’m Protecting… and who it is I’m Hosting.” Once he’d said it the words seemed brusque and confrontational, but, well, that was the heart of the matter.
Unexpectedly, Hard looked chagrined. “I am sorry, Jooyong Lee,” he said, keeping steady eye contact as he spoke. “You should have been made aware—”
Jooyong leaned forward a little. “Hard, it’s okay,” he said, cutting him off. “I know that. But I trusted my instincts, and I don’t regret it.” He drew in a breath and shrugged his bare shoulders. “I am scared, though, a little. Maybe knowing the score will help with that.”
“Maybe,” Hard said judiciously.
Not reassuring, Jooyong thought. To lighten things he added, “I’m also horny as fuck. I mean, I was pretty randy before, to be honest, but… shit, Hard, I didn’t know you could be this horny!”
Hard smirked. “That will be easier to resolve, at least temporarily,” he said, and to his surprise he noticed Hard was casting an admiring glance along Jooyong’s fat, prodigious erection. Interesting… and kinda kinky, perving on your own Host like that, he thought. He ran the tip of his tongue unconsciously along the edge of his upper lip, drinking in his new friend’s inhuman beauty.
“Tell me,” he said, leaning forward again and trying to convey how much he really wanted to know. He paused then added, “I’ll tell you about me if you want, fair’s fair. Not that there’s anything to tell, not that could compare…” He clicked his tongue and tried again. “Tell me who you are, Hard. Tell me your story.”
Hard’s dark brows lifted. He smiled softly. “All right, then,” he said. “Close your eyes.”
Jooyong’s mind filled with a vision.
It was of a world, a reality, that Jooyong was not sure he could understand, because all of his normal frames of reference were missing—no, not just missing, unimaginable. There was a vast cobalt sky in which neither sun nor stars shone, only long scars of deeper indigo in patterns that seemed like they might have meaning to those who knew them. Gossamer-soft light seemed to come from nowhere, collecting in some places and dispersing from others in schools of barely discernable threads. The sounds and smells made no sense to him, and even the pull of gravity seemed distorted and unreal. There were people, thousands of them, seemingly made of rough stone and peculiar ores, and there seemed to be as many sizes and shapes and colors as there were individuals: lumbering giants of coral red looming over charcoal figures wandering among them a third their size—Jooyong was reminded of the dinosaurs and their huge diversity of expanse and kind, though there seemed always to be a paired balance of some kind between any two beings that interacted with each other, either large and small, round and narrow, dark and light. Their proportions were humanoid and heroic, yet they all seemed to be strangely blurred and indistinct like half-shaped clay, and hard to see even when the drifting light pooled around them. They were focused, Jooyong saw as he moved among them, not on their own world but on other worlds beyond them, and he somehow understood that these beings saw across the dimensions, and exerted power over what they found there.
Jooyong came upon a cluster of the beings, still of divergent size and hue, who seemed excited, as if they had discovered a novelty. As he moved closer he caught a taste of what it was that held their attention. It was a new world, a corner of a distant plane their kind had never accessed before, though like infinitely many of the extradimensional worlds it overlapped exactly with their own: there was a natural law, known to these beings, in which worlds were far more likely to align across dimensions than to be isolated and unaligned. What held the beings in rapt fascination about this world, however, was that it was actually inhabited—and by creatures who were clearly sentient and yet possessed no extradimensional abilities whatsoever. Drawing closer still Jooyong shared their sight, and saw with a shock that the world they’d discovered was his own. Pyramids and ziggurats, invasions and enslavements, millions eking a simple life from the grudging land. Earth, in more primitive times, four or five thousand years before Jooyong’s time.
The beings studied the newly encountered humans a while, and observed two overriding characteristics: the males were constantly at risk of hostility and violence with each other, endangering the tenuous societal structures for which they sacrificed much; while at the same time they cherished the bonds of intimate connection between males and females. Alarmed by the humans’ self-destructive tendencies, they instinctively sought to use their abilities to shape this new realm according to their own aesthetics. The problem was that whereas on other planes they would simply raise mountains or shift molecular characteristics to their own pleasure, a world of sentient creatures required a more subtle approach.
Jooyong watched in awed fascination as they came up with a remarkable solution. They created from miniatures of themselves from their own bodies and sent them across the vast dimensions to the lands of Earth, each with a gift for fostering all different kinds of profound and world-changing intimacy among men, spread like threads of light using the hosts they joined with through their innate capacity to shape and connect across dimensions. Some would have the power to foster camaraderie through shared identity, others to build empathy and compassion; others still, following the pattern humans had already established among men and women, had a potent gift for stoking strong emotional bonds of love between men, built and constantly reinforced through the intense physical attraction and intimacy between men that was already present in a significant proportion of humans but frequently socially suppressed. Through these catalytic figures, moving among men and stimulating their bonds and connections, the godlike beings hoped to fix what was wrong with this bizarre, alien world.
It did not take long (though centuries might have passed on Earth) before the beings judged their efforts a failure. Something about the place, or the people, or both seemed to be fundamentally incomprehensible to them in a way that that perversely turned all their work disastrously wrong. Though there were some pockets of success, for the most part humans used their carefully nurtured shared identity to fight with those they excluded from it; their empathy and compassion stopped at city walls or the boundaries of caste; the men even loved and fucked each other, and killed and conquered other groups of men doing the same. Then the humans turned on the interdimensional emissaries, calling them demons and devils, so that they were forced into hiding and survived only through the protection of men who kept their secret and helped them in their work.
Jooyong watched as the great stone-like beings, once so excited by their new, exotic find, became disillusioned with human potential and with their own capacity for social intervention. Their interest in Earth eroded, and the great cluster of beings drifted apart and sought other planes to explore and shape. The last few sent a final batch of messengers to find and eradicate the ones sent before, so that the beings’ regrettable and unrewarding intrusion into the strange and distressing Earthly realm could be closed off and ended for good. The emissaries that remained were left isolated and vulnerable, each pursuing alone a mission their progenitors had long disowned and forgotten.
“So let me get this straight,” Jooyong said when Hard was done. “You came all this way, with all these powers and abilities, and your ultimate purpose is… to get dudes to fuck.”
Hard favored him with an arched brow and a crooked smile. Jooyong smiled too. “You traveled across countless dimensions,” he persisted, his smile turning to a smirk, “through the interstitial void and all the way to Earth… just to get dudes to drill other dudes.”
“To get them to love, Jooyong Lee,” Hard corrected him. “The fucking is just to reinforce the love.”
“Uh huh,” Jooyong said, still smirking. He considered the smaller man seated placidly before him. There was a lot to think about in what he had just learned, and he hadn’t forgotten the bit he already knew—there had been a savage murder in room 7 roughly ten years before, and it seemed pretty likely that that had been Hard’s previous Protector.
But understanding his responsibilities strangely simplified things for Jooyong, and allowed him to push all of the heavier stuff aside. Instead he offered Hard a leer and pointed at his towering wang. “So tell me something else. If I get you to help me out with this, right now,” he said, “because I really need someone to help me out with it, and I’d really kind of like it to be you—would that count as loving… or fucking?”
Hard let his gaze fall once more to Jooyong’s mighty dong. Promising, Jooyong thought, very promising. “My job is to help human males fall in love,” Hard said judiciously. He then rose and stood before him on the bench, raising his eyes to Jooyong’s. “Do I look human to you, Jooyong?”
Jooyong greedily took in Hard’s muscular, lovingly proportioned form, his handsome face and longish dark hair, and his heavy, almost knee-length cock that seemed to be thickening as he watched. Everything about Hard, from the cut of his abs to the fire in his eyes, even the elaborate tiger tattoo on his back, seemed crafted to stoke fathomless need in Jooyong, and then uncannily enhanced to compound the effect even further. “Close enough,” he said, his voice sounding low and husky in his ears.
Hard took one step toward him. Jooyong’s blood felt like it was on fire, and his pulse was pounding hard and fast. “There’s just one problem, though,” Hard said coyly. He was starting to live up to his name not only in body but in cock, as the smaller man’s monstrous appendage, bigger proportionately even than Jooyong’s, rose steadily up to the horizontal, until it was thrusting straight out into space in front of him.
“Yeah? What’s that?” Jooyong said. Any moment now, he was going to reach out with his hand and grab the naked interdimensional godling, just wrap his hand tight around him. It was only a question of when.
“The problem,” Hard said, taking another step, “is that what you really like is guys who are bigger than you.”
Jooyong froze. He sought Hard’s red-gold eyes and, heart pounding loud and hard, asked, “Can you get big?”
“I can’t change my own form,” Hard said reluctantly. Then he added, “But I can change you.”
Jooyong drew in a long, shaky breath, then let it out fast. “Do it,” he commanded.
There was a glint in Hard’s eyes. “Aren’t you going to ask if I intend to change you back?” he asked.
Jooyong might have replied that Hard could change him however—up, down, it didn’t matter; but the truth was, he was done waiting. “Stop fucking around,” he growled, “and fucking fuck me.”
He stood swiftly, straddling the bench. No sooner had he done so than the world lurched sickeningly around him. He closed his eyes a moment in an instinctive response, and when he opened them he was standing on the white metal expanse, feet apart, naked and hugely aroused, directly in front of a living wet dream: Hard was huge, stiffly erect, and physically towering over him, a good head taller than Jooyong and every inch of him meant for deliriously hot man-sex.
Jooyong closed the space between them, forcing Hard’s literally arm-sized outthrust erection to shove wetly up Jooyong’s chiseled torso, and wrapped his long, strong arms tightly around Hard’s magnificent, perfectly proportioned body. Shuddering slightly at the hundreds of different kinds of pleasure and anticipation seeming soaring through him in that moment, he looked up into Hard’s eyes. “Kiss me,” he demanded.
That glint was still in Hard’s eyes. “I’m a little out of touch. Is this what they call a… ‘bossy bottom’? Are you going to be a ‘bossy bottom’ with me, Jooyong?”
Jooyong gave him a feral grin. “Fuck yeah,” he said.
Hard smiled. He bent and brushed warm, full lips against Jooyong’s. Then they were kissing, hard and deep. They held each other close as they stood there on the bench, their cocks thrusting between them, and then their tongues brushed together and the kiss somehow deepened further, and Jooyong didn’t even care that he was suddenly cumming violently, spewing his release so forcefully it was shooting up between them, because this… this was barely the beginning of the seed he was going to spend that day.
Seung watched in stunned disbelief through the almost-closed storeroom door. He couldn’t quite process what he’d been seeing. Joo had got all naked before Seung had even got here, and then that small man with the giant dick had just… appeared there, and then they’d both squeezed their eyes shut like they were mindfucking or something, both of them so boned it made Seung’s ass hurt just looking at the things. And then… and then! Then the little muscle guy had made Joo into a littler muscle guy, and now they were getting busy…! Fuck, looking at them kissing so recklessly like that was making Seung so hard he might cum in his jeans, for real, no joke. He squeezed his iron-hard tube hard through the fabric, but his powerful fist was barely making an impression.
Seung took a step back from the door, bumping into Dogue as he did so. The mastiff was happy to see him, of course, and was moving around him as if they might go play; but Seung was aware of nothing but how completely the sight of the two small, gorgeous, and insanely hung and hard men going at each other like starved coyotes had completely short-circuited everything he thought he knew about what turned him on. Not that he hadn’t been moving in this direction with Joo. The other little guy was hot, but Joo—fuck. His awareness of Joo had been growing for weeks without him even knowing what it meant at first, and he’d recently picked up with giddy excitement that Joo was into bigger guys than him. Today, though, he was so woken up to Joo—big or small, hard or soft, frowning or smiling, it didn’t matter. He was that far gone for him right now that his torpedo cock was so impossibly hard it actually seemed to have swollen bigger, like he’d never really been truly turned on until today, now, this moment.
He risked one more peek through the crack in the door—any more and he’d blow his load and reveal his stalker ass, then he turned and headed for his truck and drove away as silently as he could, gripping his dick in a vice grip the whole way. His mind was spinning, but he kept coming back to the same thought. He didn’t know how he could compete with a hot muscley super-hung dude who could literally make his cousin’s fantasy come true, but he was sure of one thing if nothing else.
He had to have Jooyong somehow… no matter what.