Time & Again

Chapter 10 - Immoral Support


Jun-Han watched Jack sleep.

Unable to sleep, he’d lain unmoving in his bedroll for a few hours before he finally had enough and sat up; giving in to his brain’s need to keep thinking relentlessly.

He stared at the strange white youth who’d come so unexpectedly into his life. His eyes traced the smooth curvature of one soft cheek that glowed with a gentle pink color from the coals of the nearby banked camp fire. Thick black lashes lay like dark smudges against that utterly white skin. Behind the closed lids, Spicer’s red eyes were moving and Jun-Han wondered what the young man was dreaming.

He couldn’t stop thinking about what Spicer had said earlier – about youth, Guan, and what history would have to say about him. He knew that the only reason Spicer was even here was because a very distant Jun-Han ordered the youth to come back to him in this time. Despite the lure of fame and power, Jun-Han did not want to think himself susceptible to the forces of evil.

Deciding to meditate on the matter, he picked up his spear and headed off into the woods to be alone; remaining within hearing distance so he could help if his friends were attacked.

Settling down, he put his spear by his right hip and crossed his legs, tucking his feet up over his knees, and cupping his hands together in front of his lap – Instinct within Reason – he closed his eyes and began to slow his breathing.

“The young man struck a nerve, apparently.”

Jun-Han’s eyes flew open. Grabbing his spear, he smoothly uncrossed his legs and rolled up into a defensive position. He was completely still, his eyes focused straight ahead while he allowed his senses to open wide; scanning the area for an incoming threat.

“Nice form,” said the deep, drawling voice from above him. “But it isn’t necessary, boy.”

Jun-Han dived, tucked, rolled and came up onto his feet, glancing up at the tree branch that had been over his head, spear held out in front of him.

“Young’uns – they never listen,” said the voice.

A moment later, a tiny form landed on the back of the hand that held the spear.

Jun-Han blinked incredulously at the sight of a bean with eyes and a mouth and root-arms that was grinning at him.

“Who – and what – are you?” he growled.

“My name is Hannibal Roy Bean; that should make it doubly obvious what I am,” the legume replied with a smirk.

“I am not accustomed to beans with the ability to speak,” Jun-Han replied dryly, not relaxing in the slightest.

“There ain’t another bean like me in the world,” said Hannibal. “But that’s not important. What is important is you.”

Jun-Han raised an eyebrow.

“Yon strange white boy… he made a good point earlier tonight. And you know he did if it’s got you so stirred up you can’t sleep.”

Jun-Han shook his head and slowly straightened up. He brought up his other hand, palm up, for Hannibal to rest on. Once the bean had jumped into his palm, he allowed his spear hand to drop.

“Spicer was talking, yes, but I cannot allow myself to listen. To do so will lead to—“

“Greatness,” Hannibal interrupted, his tone nothing but wickedness. “You can’t mean to tell me you’re content with playing second fiddle to Master Monk Guan the rest of your life?”

Jun-Han blinked. “You talk as strangely as Spicer does. Are you from the future as well?”

Hannibal smirked. “No… and yes.”

“That is a nonsensical answer.”

“Magic doesn’t have to make sense.”

Jun-Han’s eyes widened. “You! You are the one Omi came back to warn me about.”

“Oh, really? Haven’t seen him interacting with you all that much. Mostly he’s been flitting about Guan. When has young Omi had time to warn you about anything, let alone li’l ol’ me?”

Jun-Han frowned. What Bean said was true; Omi had barely spent any time with him at all. He did not know what to make of it; perhaps, having decided not to tell Jun-Han of his future self, Omi did not know what to say to the older man. That shouldn’t have stopped him from interacting with Jun-Han at all, yet Omi spent more of his time with Guan than with Jun-Han.

“Perhaps it is merely because Spicer and I spend so much time talking,” Jun-Han suggested, quickly coming up with a theory.

“Mmm-hmm,” agreed Hannibal sardonically; his tone clearly indicating that despite his words, he didn’t actually believe that theory.

Jun-Han sighed and shook his head. “It is clear to me to that you are Evil. In my experience, Evil does not begin a conversation without an express purpose.”

Hannibal grinned, delighted. “You are a sharp one, Long; I’ll give you that. And you’d be right. I’m here to wake you up to the fact that you’re not going to fulfill your destiny by wasting time on the side of Good.”

Now it was Jun-Han’s turn to smirk. “I have a destiny?”

“Of course you do, boy! Right now, you have the potential to be the greatest warrior this world has ever known. But you ain’t going to see that potential realized if you’re always in Guan’s shadow.”

Jun-Han scowled. “I am not in his ‘shadow’. Guan and I are friends and excellent battle partners. I can trust him to guard my back, as I guard his.”

“You mean by leaving a runt of a monk and a white weirdo to keep him company while he sleeps?” Hannibal shot back.

Jun-Han’s scowl became a thunderous frown. “I do not know ‘weirdo’, but it is clearly a derogatory name. Do not say such about Spicer again.”

Hannibal’s eyes widened and then he grinned hugely. “Well, looky here – you’re sweet on the boy! Now isn’t that just darlin’.”

The evil bean then leaped to a nearby tree branch, feeling the tensing of Jun-Han’s muscles in the palm of his hand, and narrowly avoided being squished rather messily.

“You will leave Spicer alone,” Jun-Han growled, pointing his spear at Hannibal.

“Of course I will,” Hannibal said calmly. “Despite his greenness, young Spicer’s clearly on the side of Evil. I don’t have to do a damn thing to him. You, on the other hand, need my help.”

“I do not need your kind of help!” Jun-Han spat. “Begone!”

Hannibal sighed. “I just hate it when they go all noble on me. Fine, boy; fine. You win this round, but I’ll be back. Many of the truths you cling to depend greatly on your point of view – and points of view are always changing.”

With that, Bean vanished into nothingness.

Jun-Han stood looking up at the tree branch for a few seconds, and then he spun around at the sound of a sleepy voice asking, “Who were you talking to?”

He grinned at the sight of a sleep-tousled Jack Spicer, who stood only a few feet from him, rubbing sleep out of one eye; his red-orange hair sticking out in every direction. Jack had shed his long coat and stood in tight black trousers that hugged his skin closely, and a red shirt with a green face on the front of it and the sleeves missing.

Jack noticed that Jun-Han hadn’t replied; instead, the man stood there, grinning at him. Frowning, he dropped his hand and asked again, “Who were you talking to?”

Jun-Han sighed and said, “I believe it was the Moment you’ve been waiting for since you came to this time and place.”

Jack’s eyes snapped open wide and he glanced around fearfully, shivering as terror crept like ice down his spine.

“Hannibal Roy Bean was here?” he squeaked in a high-pitched voice.

Jun-Han frowned. “Then it was him you were waiting for me to meet.”

Jack looked sharply at the older man and asked, “What’s your name?”

“Long Jun-Han. I told you befo—“

You didn't take the offer?” Jack yelled, incredulous.

The older man frowned. “Of course not. And having seen your reaction to merely the mention of his name, I am doubly glad of it.”

“Of course I’m scared of Hannibal Roy Bean! Anyone with an ounce of common sense would be scared of him!” Jack shouted. “But that doesn’t mean you were supposed to brush him off!”

Jun-Han sighed and collapsed his spear, tucking it into his sash for safekeeping. He then walked over to Jack, saying, “Be quiet; you do not want to wake the others. There is no need to be frightened now; Bean is gone.”

Jack, seeing Jun-Han’s hands reaching out for his shoulders, gave them a nervous look and edged away.

Instantly, Jun-Han scowled. “I am not going to hurt you, Spicer!”

“No, I’m sure you won’t – it’s your future self I’m worried about!”

“You have no need to worry. I have refused Hannibal Bean’s offer. I will not become the terrible evil of the future.”

Jack groaned. “But you’re supposed to!”

“Not everything is written in stone.”

“Then why do I remember you so clearly as Chase Young?! That hasn’t changed!”

Jun-Han frowned. “Perhaps it is some residual magic from the Shen-Gong-Wu that brought you here?”

Jack hesitated. “Maybe. But that doesn’t—“

Jun-Han caught hold of Jack, pulled him close, and kissed him.

Jack struggled frantically, bringing up his hands to push against the older man’s chest armor. He writhed, trying to pull free, only to find himself turned and pressed up against a sturdy tree. His eyes went wide and he found himself staring into an intense gold gaze. When a hot, agile tongue deftly flicked over his lips, Jack gasped, and Jun-Han used the opportunity to delve into his mouth.

Startled, Jack squeaked and his hands scrabbled uselessly against the chest armor as he tensed. Abruptly, he realized the older man’s tongue was in his mouth – he was being kissed; real, actual, honest-to-hotness kissed, and he shivered as he let out a long, low moan.

Jun-Han pulled back, but kept his mouth very close to Jack’s. Smiling, he tenderly stroked one finger down one of Jack’s cheeks and murmured, “So beautiful. So very, very beautiful.”

Trembling, scarcely daring to breathe, Jack stared back at Jun-Han with very wide, startled eyes. In his gaze, Jun-Han could see that Jack did not believe him.

“I have wanted you from nearly the moment I saw you,” Jun-Han confessed. “I have never met anyone like you before.”

“Th-that’ll ch-change,” Jack stammered. “In the future—“

“The future is uncertain and it is not now,” Jun-Han countered, his voice a sexy growl that made Jack shudder with an unnamed longing and various parts of him go rigid. “Now is when I want you. May I have you, Jack Spicer?”

“I – I – I – I –“

Jun-Han smiled at the stuttering young man. Leaning in, he slid his lips across Jack’s cheek to his left ear. He nuzzled there for a moment and then began to nip and kiss his way very slowly down the strong white column of Jack’s neck.

“Please,” he said softly as he tasted Jack’s skin. “I will make it good for you, Jack. I want to give you so much pleasure….”

Jack groaned and shook against Jun-Han’s body, staring blindly up at the dark tree tops overhead. He so desperately wanted what the older man was offering, but the looming possible threat of retaliation from Chase Young once he returned to his time was still fixed firmly in his awareness.

Jun-Han knew Jack was still thinking of future trouble by the way the younger man remained tense against him, and so he redoubled his efforts. He covered every inch of Jack’s neck with kisses, nips, and tiny licks; enjoying the taste of the white skin. Slowly, he slid his hands behind Jack, his large hands splaying against the slender back to provide a sense of warmth and security.

Lulled by the slow, tender motions and the warmth at his back, Jack began to relax, melting gradually against Jun-Han, giving in to the bliss of being touched so gently, so warmly.

Pleased, Jun-Han trailed his lips up over Jack’s chin and back to the younger man’s mouth. To his utter delight, Jack welcomed him by kissing him back; angling his head to better fit his mouth to Jun-Han’s. Hesitantly, his tongue met and played with Jun-Han’s as his arms crept up to slide over Jun-Han’s shoulders, wrapping around the back of his neck as Jack buried his hands in the older man’s hair.

Jun-Han was beginning to lower them both slowly to the ground, Jack willingly going with him, when a throat was cleared rather loudly. Jack flinched and tore his mouth from Jun-Han’s, blushing hotly, and looked to his right to see Omi glaring at him.

“Release Jun-Han and step away from him now, Jack Spicer!” Omi snapped angrily.

Jack, shivering with frustrated arousal and a thread of fear as he realized he’d allowed himself to kiss Jun-Han, mindlessly tried to follow Omi’s orders.

Jun-Han held him tighter and glared back at Omi as he said, “Clearly, it has escaped your notice, little one, that I am holding Spicer against the tree – not the other way around.”

Omi scowled at the older man. “Then I insist that you stop it at once.”

Jun-Han laughed. “Why would I want to do that?”

“Because Jack Spicer is bad for you! He will lead you down the path of darkness—“

Jun-Han held up his hand and Omi stopped speaking. Then Jun-Han turned his head to look at Jack and was surprised to see the youth had his face averted; from what he could see of Jack’s blush, and the tension of the younger man’s body, he realized that Jack was feeling ashamed.

Sighing roughly, he lowered his head and pressed his lips to Jack’s ear, ignoring the startled flinch the youth gave, and whispered, “I am sorry, Spicer. I did not mean for you to feel shame – only pleasure. I am sorry if I have hurt you.”

“Didn’t,” came the muffled reply, but Jack still did not turn his head to look at him.

Sighing again, Jun-Han gently let go of the younger man and took a step back. “Go back to the camp,” he said quietly. “I need to have a talk with Omi.”

Jack nodded and quickly left the area; not looking at either Omi or Jun-Han as he hastened away.

Omi watched Jack go and frowned as he recognized the furtive movements of one who felt humiliated. When the other teenager was gone, Omi turned his head to look at Jun-Han, who was leaning back against the tree Jack had been pressed up against only moments ago.

“What did you do to Jack Spicer?” the little monk demanded, abruptly incensed over any perceived wrong done to the Evil Boy Genius. Despite their differences and adversarial state, Omi counted Jack Spicer as a friend. An annoying, often bothersome friend, but a friend nevertheless.

“I kissed him to let him know how much I appreciate and want him,” Jun-Han replied honestly. “He was unreceptive to it at first because he feared retribution from my future self, but he need not worry about it anymore.”

“And why is that?” asked Omi with one eyebrow raised.

“Because I have met my test and passed,” Jun-Han said with a smile. “An entity named Hannibal Roy Bean was here several minutes ago. He tried to tempt me to the side of Evil and I resisted.”

Omi’s jaw dropped and his eyes widened. “Hannibal Bean was here?!

The older man frowned. “Spicer had that very same reaction. Bean must be formidable indeed if he causes both Good and Evil to fear him.”

“If you had any sense of self-preservation, you would fear him, too,” Omi said, looking around nervously. “He is a devious trickster who causes destruction and mayhem with his scheming!”

“Hmm… the information is a little late, but better to have it at all than to bemoan its lack later.”

“Forewarned is half an octopus,” Omi agreed, nodding sagely.

Jun-Han stared blankly at the little monk, clearly confused.

“Uh… forearmed,” Omi corrected himself sheepishly. “Forewarned is forearmed.”

“What is an octopus and what has it to do with forewarning?”

“An octopus is a sea creature with eight arms, so half of eight is four,” Omi explained, then gave Jun-Han a confused look. “You have not seen one?”

Jun-Han shook his head. “I have not had occasion to go near the sea before. I have always wanted to,” he added wistfully.

“It is a wondrous place,” Omi said with a smile. “As are the many and diverse lands spread out upon this planet!”

“I wish to visit them all,” Jun-Han said softly.

“There is no reason to not do so.”

Jun-Han was silent as he thought about it.

“And you can get Master Monk Guan to go with you!” burbled Omi, smiling. “He will enjoy seeing the sights as well!”

For some reason, Omi mentioning Guan caused a skirl of irritation to rise up within Jun-Han.

Shaking his head, Jun-Han replied softly, “I will think on it. For now, we should return to camp and get some rest. And I believe you owe Spicer an apology.”

Omi bowed, acknowledging the older man’s words, and then began walking back to the camp.

Jun-Han sighed. Closing his eyes, he centered himself in calm and control, tamping down the arousal he’d generated with Spicer. Then he, too, went back to camp.


The morning found the four of them seated quietly around their campfire, eating a small breakfast of nuts and berries gathered from the forest, as well as small loaves of bread designed for travelers, made for them by Liu.

Omi glanced over at Jack, who was staring down at his own crossed legs as he ate silently. Last night, after arriving back in camp, he had snuggled up carefully against Jack’s back; even though the other teenager had tensed, he hadn’t shoved him away. So, Omi had whispered his apologies to Jack and then settled down so that they lay back to back – or, given Omi’s height, back to entire body. Still, he had shared his body warmth with Jack and had been grateful when the taller youth had not moved away from him.

Now, he wanted to cheer the morose teenager up and so he smiled and said, “Jack Spicer – I have learned a new joke. Allow me to share it with you!”

Jack’s head lifted and he frowned at Omi. “You? A joke? Oh, please – you can barely talk straight on a good day! This oughtta be fun.”

Omi stuck out his tongue cheerfully and replied, “I have learned it from Clay!”

Jack sighed and facepalmed. Then he lifted his head again and made a motion to continue.

Omi cleared his throat and, aware that Guan and Jun-Han were listening as well, recited, “A cowboy walked into a bar. He was wearing a paper hat, a paper bandana, a paper shirt, paper chaps, and paper pants. He was arrested...”

Jack winced, sure of the punch line.

“…For rustlin'!” Omi finished proudly.

Jack groaned. He had been right.

“I do not get it,” said Guan.

“Rustling, also known as thieving in the Western world,” Jack clarified. “Paper also makes a noise called rustling when it’s rubbed against itself.”

“Ah,” said the monk.

Then Jack gave Omi a smirk and said, “Try this one, Omi. Why can't the Buddha vacuum under his sofa?”

Omi blinked and shrugged.

“He has no attachments!” Jack finished.

Guan and Jun-Han exchanged confused glances and decided to let it go.

Omi puzzled the riddle over for a few moments. Then, recalling all the bits and parts that went with a vacuum-cleaner after having seen one, the meaning came to him and he began laughing uproariously.

Jack grinned, pleased with himself. For a moment or two, he’d thought it would’ve been a wasted effort, but no, the little round-headed dweeb had gotten it.

Omi finally calmed down and he pointed at Jack and said, “I have another one for you! What does a sacred chao say?”

Jack shrugged.

“Mu!” was the answer.

Jack did not get it, but both Guan and Jun-Han began laughing.

At Jack’s confused look, Omi chuckled and then folded his arms, slipping his hands into his sleeves to adopt a more authoritative pose. “The Sacred Chao is the key to illumination, Jack Spicer, as defined by Discordians. It was devised by the Apostle Hung Mung in ancient China, and later changed and made popular by the Taoists; they turned the idea of the Sacred Chao into what you know as the Yin-Yang. The real Sacred Chao is not the Yin-Yang of the Taoists. The Sacred Chao of the Discordians symbolizes absolutely everything anyone ever needs to know about absolutely anything! It also symbolizes everything not worth knowing!”

Jack thought about that, and then said, “But the symbol is pretty much the same?”

“Yes. For the Sacred Chao, one of the symbols is a Pentagon; the other is the Golden Apple of the Greek Legend.”

Jack blinked and then stared belligerently at Omi. “How do you know all this?”

Omi smirked. “Knowledge is not limited to an open-minded adventurer.”

“Very well said, young Omi,” said Guan with a smile, and Omi beamed a huge smile back.

“Yeah, but you still can’t learn to use slang properly?” Jack groused, and shook his head wearily. He glanced at Jun-Han, expecting to see him watching the other two, and was startled to find the older man looking at him with a warm gold gaze. Embarrassed, he flicked his gaze away and back to Omi.

“Okay, how about this?” he said. “What’s large, gray, and not to the point?”

Omi shook his head, confused.

“An irrelephant!”

At that, Jun-Han laughed. Everyone turned to look at him, startled.

“I get it,” he said with a smirk. “Instead of irrelevant, it is an irrelephant.”

Guan started laughing and Omi, not wanting to be left out, giggled too.

When they’d stopped laughing, Jun-Han stood up and stretched, then said, “I believe it is time we were moving on.”

“Agreed,” Guan said affably, and he rolled up onto his knees to begin scooping up dirt to put out the small fire with.

Jack got up onto his feet, moving a bit stiffly. He still wasn’t used to the nomadic lifestyle. “I’ve got to pee; back in a bit.”

Omi hopped up easily. “Very wise decision, Jack Spicer.”

“Just find your own tree, all right?” Jack groused, and walked away from the camp.

Omi hurried after him, but split off after a few feet to go find his own tree.

Sighing, Jack walked further into the forest until he was reasonably certain no one could hear or see him. Unzipping his trousers, he took aim at the base of a large tree and did what he had to do, sighing in relief. When he was done, he carefully shook it off and then tucked himself back in and zipped up again.

Giving his hands a gross look, he turned around, and froze where he stood with a muffled squeak and his eyes wide at the sight of Jun-Han standing only a few feet away; leaning back against a tree, his arms crossed over his chest, and smirking.

Gulping, Jack then demanded, “How long were you standing there?”

“I followed you the entire way. Worry not – I did not see anything you did not want me to see,” Jun-Han replied.

“But… why did you follow me?” Jack asked, incredulous.

“One reason is to give you this,” the older man replied, and unfolded his arms to hand over a few slender weed stalks. “Break them and smear the juices on your hands.”

Confused, Jack did so, and realized he’d been given Nature’s equivalent of anti-bacterial hand-sanitizer. “Hey, thanks. What else—“

The stalks fell from his hands as he was caught up against Jun-Han and kissed.

Startled, Jack yelped into Jun-Han’s mouth. When Jun-Han’s arms began to slide around him to hold him in place, Jack stiffened and pushed against the older man with all his might.

Jun-Han pulled his mouth from Jack’s and frowned as he looked down at the youth in his arms. “What is wrong?”

“This! You have got to stop kissing me like this!” Jack protested.

“Why? Do you not enjoy it? I do; and if it is the future you are wary of—“

“Yeah, yeah – that’s not an issue because you turned Hannibal Bean down.”

“Then there is nothing to fear and we can enjoy each other.”

“Except I’m not enjoying it!”

Jun-Han smirked. “That is not what you expressed last night.”

Jack flushed crimson and pushed out of the older man’s arms.

“Spicer, I know you like my kisses. Why not let me show you how much better it can be?”

Angry and annoyed, Jack snapped back, “Because you aren’t the one that I want!” With that, he sidestepped around Jun-Han and stormed back towards camp, grateful when the older man did not immediately follow.

He’d spoken truthfully; he did not want Jun-Han. He wanted Chase Young. True, this younger version looked like the man he knew, but this person was most definitely Long Jun-Han: Defender of Good. Perhaps it was selfish of him, but Jack wanted Chase Young: Prince of Darkness and Evil. All that power; all that passion… Despite the fact that he could lay on a kiss that damn near knocked Jack’s socks off, Jun-Han was rather bland in comparison with his future evil self.


Jun-Han watched Jack go; irritated and frustrated with his lack of success. He wanted Jack Spicer – wanted all of him. He longed to possess Spicer’s heart, mind, and body. He wanted to win Jack’s devotion; to occupy Jack’s thoughts; to caress and taste and make love to every inch of that smooth white body. He wanted those red eyes to be dazed with passion and gazing up at him in adoration as he coaxed cries of pleasure from that lush young mouth. He had never before hungered so intensely for another person as he did for Jack Spicer.

Sighing, Jun-Han began walking back towards the camp. Halfway there, Omi stepped in beside him and he looked down at the odd little monk, who was smiling up at him. Reflexively, he smiled back; Omi was an utterly charming youngster, and a part of him regretted that he would not be alive in Omi’s time to meet the boy again. A bigger regret was that he would never be with Jack Spicer. Still, he had made the correct decision and that would have to comfort him.

“Now that my mission is complete, I must return to my time,” Omi said quietly. “It has been nice getting to know you; I am grateful that I took this trip back.”

“I have enjoyed your company as well, little one – when you were not with Guan, that is,” Jun-Han replied, teasing gently.

Omi blushed and looked up at the older man sheepishly.

Jun-Han laughed and reached down to pat Omi on the head affectionately. “Do not worry, young one. Everything worked out for the best.”

“True. I am most sad to realize that I shall not have the pleasure of knowing you in the future – although my memories of you seem to still be intact,” Omi said, puzzled.

“Spicer said nearly the same thing. My supposition is that the magic of the Shen-Gong-Wu is enabling you to retain your memories of the future.”

“That is as good a theory as any,” Omi said with a grin. “Still, I must make certain. I will write out a message to leave in the Xiaolin Temple so that I may find it in the future.”

“Good id—“ Jun-Han started to say, but abruptly froze, staring straight ahead at the sight of Guan holding Jack Spicer close against him.


Jack made his way back to camp, thinking hard.

Mostly he thought about Chase Young and wondered why he could still remember the evil everlord so clearly. Shen-Gong-Wu magic could only account for so much. There had to be something more to it, and if there was, then that meant Jack was in for some vicious trouble when he got back to his own time.

He gave a brief thought for just taking the Sands of Time and high-tailing it out to another Era to live out his remaining years before Long Jun-Han was ever born, but he quickly let that thought go. He would never be able to survive without technology; he was a Master of Robotics, and that mastery was his pride and joy, for his knowledge of all things technological was his true talent.

Still, that meant he had to plan how to avoid Chase Young’s retribution for what he did with Jun-Han. Jack winced as he remembered the feel of being wrapped up in strong arms and kissed so… so… he really didn’t have a description for it, having never been kissed before. But Jun-Han had made him feel hot and shivery and achy all over in a really wicked way; he couldn’t help that he’d never felt anything like it and wanted to feel it again.

But not with Jun-Han.

Jack was thinking about this so hard that he didn’t notice he’d gone stomping into the camp until he walked smack into an obstacle. Blinking in startlement, he stumbled back, only to be caught by huge hands. Flinching, Jack looked up, and then up some more to see Guan giving him a concerned look.

“Are you well, Spicer?” Guan asked.

“I – I – let go of me,” Jack said shakily.

Guan frowned. “That is not quite the ‘yes’ I was hoping for. What happened?”

Jack shook his head and shrugged irritably, trying to loosen Guan’s grip. “Nothing, all right? Just leave me alone!”

The taller man shook his head slowly. “I think you have been left alone too often in your life, young Spicer.”

“What do you care?” Jack snarled. “I’m one of the Bad Guys and you’re a Good Guy.”

“This means I am compassionate enough to leave my mind – and ears – open to whoever needs them. What has injured you so?”

“I’m not injured,” Jack growled. “Just… worried.”

“Anything that I might be able to help you with?”

“Doubt it – unless you can figure out a way to keep someone I know from pounding me into the ground like a tent peg because of something I did with somebody else I know.”

Guan was silent for a moment as he puzzled out the cryptic sentence. Then he smiled and said, “Jun-Han is a passionate man, this is true. But he would never do anything to you that would hurt you – either now or then. He met his test and passed; I do not believe you have anything to fear. I trust Jun-Han with all my heart. It is my advice that you can do so as well.”

Jack grimaced. “Yeah, that’s swell – except that I’m not so sure he has. And what do you mean you advise that I can trust him, too?”

Guan grinned. “I have seen the way Jun-Han looks at you. While he has given a fine eye to several comely young people, I have never before seen him like this. If I had to guess, I would say he has fallen in love with you. And… I have seen the way you look at him when you think no one notices.”

“I’m only trying to imagine Jun-Han as Chase Young!” Jack defended.

“The protests of youth,” Guan said with a chuckle. “I realize you do not believe me, but Jun-Han is a good man – and as such, he will not do anything to shame or hurt you. Perhaps you should see not what you want to see, but what could be?”

Jack sighed and closed one eye, squinting up at Guan with the other as he asked, “Is it some law or something that if you’re on the Good Guys’ side, you have to speak in riddles?”

Guan laughed at that. “I like you, Jack Spicer. You are a fine person.”

“I’m Evil,” Jack grumbled.

“So you say,” Guan said, and then he startled Jack by pulling the youth against him for a tight hug.

Jack went rigid when he found himself pressed up against the hard wall of flesh that was Guan’s chest. Gradually, however, he realized he was being hugged – actually, really, truly hugged; a gesture of goodwill given to him without strings for no reason other than to comfort him. Some deeply buried part of Jack’s psyche reacted to this momentous occasion and he brought his arms up to hug Guan back, figuring he could give in just this once.

Only to be frightened out of his hug-induced tranquility by a very cold, very angry voice growling: “What are you doing?”


Chapter 9 ~~~~~~~~ Back to Xiaolin Showdown ~~~~~~~~ Chapter 11



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