Storm's Comfort

by Nix
(crimsonquills AT gmail DOT com)


"Cut!"

Johnny sighed and rolled his eyes.

"Johnny Cage, what the fuck do you think you're doing?" the director hollered, stalking up to the star of his movie.

"Acting," Johnny said shortly.

"You call that acting?" the little man roared incredulously. "That performance was flatter than piss on a plate! You may have the moves, Cage, but it takes a little more than flash and dazzle to satisfy me!"

The troll that called himself a director continued to rant along the same lines. Johnny tuned him out as he had been doing for more than a week now. He knew his acting lately had been pretty bad. It was probably the exhaustion, catching up to him at last.

Ever since Mortal Kombat, Johnny had thrown himself into his work with an eagerness that startled most people. He made movie after movie, often not going home for even a day between one set and the next. Five months, five movies. It had to be a record.

By now he was teetering on the edge of a case of burn out. He couldn't sleep even when he wanted to, had no appetite and no enthusiasm for his work. So why did he keep going as he was?

#Because nothing else works,# he said to himself, as the director's stream of abuse petered out. #Something's been missing ever since I returned from Mortal Kombat. When I work, I don't have to be myself...I can be someone else, feel something else. Now if only I could dig up the energy to keep going like this.#

He was brought abruptly out of his reverie when a fat raindrop landed squarely in the corner of his eye. Raising his eyes to the sky, Johnny saw that the rain clouds that had been threatening all day had finally opened up. The director's rant had been turned from him onto the traitorous clouds. Roadies scrambled around the set, covering cameras, lights and other gear of the movie making business.

The director had already retreated, muttering, to his trailer. The rain was coming faster now, threatening to soak Johnny to the skin. He turned and began walking to his own trailer. By the time he reached the door he was more than damp. His shirt was just beginning to stick to him, trickles of water traced their way along the part in his hair, and his jeans were getting uncomfortably heavy. A thunderclap startled him and he couldn't help but glance up at the sky.

"Holy shit," he muttered.

He hadn't thought a storm could brew so quickly. That morning the skies had been clear, the sun bright. Now black clouds roiled above them. The air fairly crackled with electricity, and a second clap of thunder sent a sympathetic shiver through Johnny.

He had opened the door and half stepped into the shelter of his home on wheels when he realized something. The tension headache that had been lurking for weeks was gone. The water that slithered along his skin was warm, not cold. Hesitating, he stepped back out into the rain.

It was coming down in sheets now. He was soaked to the skin in moments, his hair plastered to his skull, streams of water running off his chin, fingers and shoes.

It was wonderful.

It was like waking up after a long night's sleep. It was a long massage. It was a hot bath. It was the feeling at the instant when you fall asleep in your lover's arms after a long night together.

Johnny turned his face towards the sky and opened his mouth to drink the rain. It didn't taste like water. It tasted better than that. He realized, at some point, that he was laughing. He raised his hands and slicked his hair back from his face, grinning and closing his eyes, savoring the warmth that caressed his skin. The crew peered through rain smeared windows with amazement as, with a tired but relieved sigh, Johnny lay down, on the set, in the middle of a thunderstorm...and fell asleep.

When he finally woke, Johnny found himself looking up at the director and three of his co-stars. They were looking down at him like he'd finally cracked. "What the hell was that?" the director asked, apparently perpetually irritated. "Do you think I want the star of my movie catching pneumonia?"

"Relax!" Johnny said with a grin, standing and shaking the water out of his hair. "I've never felt better. Shall we get started?" The four of them just looked at him. He glanced down at himself. "Oh. I guess I'd better get dry." He turned, whistling, and ignored their stares as he went to get changed.

***

Johnny was waiting for it to rain again. It had been just over a week since he'd fallen asleep in the downpour. He kept glancing hopefully at the sky. He knew the rest of the cast and crew were watching him, but he couldn't help it. The rain had been almost familiar. He wanted to feel it again, wanted to feel it melting the tension from his muscles, without falling asleep in the middle of it.

"Good news, Cage," someone called, their tone of voice just a little taunting, "weather report says it's gonna rain tomorrow."

Johnny just grinned. "Good to know," he yelled back, "wouldn't want to be caught inside!"

Sure enough, the next day the sky darkened and the thunder rolled. Johnny stood at his trailer door, ready to step inside. But when the first drop struck him, he knew it was going to be the same as before. The same warm, soothing rain. He stepped away from shelter and went to sit in the director's chair, leaning back to enjoy the storm.

There was something familiar about the rain, Johnny realized after a while. It reminded him of something. Someone. As if to prod his memory, a thunderclap sounded. Johnny laughed. "Of course! Rayden, God of thunder and lightning!" he called out. A single bolt of lightning flashed in the heavens, as if to acknowledge his cry. "Well why don't you just come down here, you damned fool?" he asked the storm. In answer, a single pellet of hail struck him in the head. Johnny just grinned and accepted the rebuke.

As he sat and enjoyed the play of water over his skin, he suddenly had the urge to strip off all his clothing and bathe in the rain. "Now wouldn't that surprise that sourpuss of a director," he muttered to himself, and chuckled.

Johnny leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes, smiling. He could feel eyes on him and knew that the cast and crew were watching him from their trailers. Part of him wondered what they thought of him, sitting out in the middle of a raging storm and talking to the rain. The larger part of him didn't really care. For the first time in five months he felt like he could relax.

None of those involved in Mortal Kombat had been able to return to their former lives, Johnny knew. Liu Kang had discovered his destiny and made peace with his brother's spirit. He couldn't deny his heritage anymore, and had returned to the monastery where he'd been born to explore it. Sonya seemed to burn up from the inside out. She had defeated Kano, but that victory did nothing to quell her need for vengeance. Perhaps it was because Shang Tsung had sanctioned the fight. In any case, she had returned to her old job with a passion. Unfortunately, she didn't seem to have passion left for anything else. Her relationship with Johnny didn't even last until the end of the boat ride back from the mystical island.

In all fairness, Johnny knew their relationship wouldn't have survived anyway. He felt that, despite the relatively small part he had played in the tournament, he had understood something about it that the others had not.

"I missed you, Rayden," he murmured into the sheets of rain. The downpour lightened, just a little, as though it was listening. "The others...they can't understand why Mortal Kombat had such an impact on me. But they never made a choice to participate. They just kept fighting, confronting the challenges as they came. Was I the only one who accepted the tournament and chose to fight?"

The rain grew a little warmer, as if seeking to comfort him. Johnny smiled, knowing Rayden was listening. "I felt like I'd found my place, you know? Like I finally belonged somewhere. I didn't even know it until I came home and discovered how...pointless everything seemed. I mean, I still enjoy making movies, but it's not something I'd want to do for the rest of my life."

There was a long roll of thunder. Johnny couldn't help laughing. "Yeah, I know. Bet you never thought you'd hear me say that!" He fell silent for a long moment. "Promise me something, Ray?" The air went unnaturally still. "Don't leave me alone again, okay?" For a moment, Johnny swore he could feel the gentle touch of a hand on his cheek.

Eventually, the storm had to let up. Johnny watched the clouds disperse with regret, ignoring the strange looks he was getting as the cast and crew of the film emerged from their trailers. Standing, he wrung the water out of his hair and jogged over to his trailer to change. He had a movie to make, after all.

Incredibly, Johnny made it through the rest of the day without incurring the wrath of the director. He knew his performance had improved, and the director appeared to be willing to not look a gift horse in the mouth. Even if said gift horse came with a lot of rain.

Johnny dreamed of Rayden that night. He had dreamed of the god before, usually as he subconsciously relived bits and pieces of Mortal Kombat. Once or twice he'd dreamed that Rayden was speaking to him, but he could never hear what was being said.

Tonight, it was different...

***

Johnny looked around. He stood in the center of a small clearing in the woods. The grass under his bare feet was soft and lush and vibrantly green. The trees around him were dense and dark, but, far from being forbidding, they seemed protective. It was raining lightly, and Johnny couldn't help but smile at the welcome site of dark clouds overhead.

Lowering his eyes from the heavens, he was unsurprised to see Rayden standing before him.

"Hello, Johnny," the god greeted him, the suggestion of a smile on his lips.

"Hey, Rayden," Johnny replied, smiling openly. "Is this real?"

"Depends on how you define real, doesn't it?" Rayden's tone of voice was just a little teasing. Johnny just rolled his eyes and sat down on the thick carpet of grass. After a moment, Rayden sat too. "I've been trying to get in touch with you."

"Really?" Johnny asked, unable to stop smiling a little wider. "Why didn't you just make an appearance?"

"There has been some fighting among the gods," Rayden frowned thoughtfully. "I survived, even increased in status, but I'm still recovering my full strength."

Johnny found he had to concentrate in order to listen to what Rayden was saying, instead of just letting the husky tones of the god's voice wash over him. Realizing after a moment of silence that he probably ought to say something, he kicked his mouth into gear again. "So, what made it possible for you to open the lines of communication, so to speak?"

Rayden smiled, an odd look in his eyes. "You drank the rain. I think that, by taking something of me into yourself, you created a bond. If I choose, I can come to you now. In your dreams."

Rayden's phrasing struck a spark in Johnny. The words kept running through his head...'taking something of me into yourself'... He found himself looking at the god with new eyes. The rain, rather than dulling the sheer force of personality he exuded, enhanced it. The drops sliding down the length of Rayden's pure white hair glittered, making it look almost silver. His eyes flashed with the lighting, and the thunder echoed his heartbeat. Johnny almost lost himself in the surreal moment.

Then Rayden smirked, probably noticing Johnny's stare, and the young man couldn't help but grin. Rayden might be a god, he mused, but he certainly didn't stand high and mighty over the mortals. He liked to play. ###

Johnny woke and sat up in bed, blinking the sleep from his eyes. There was no question in his mind that the dream had been more than a dream. He and Rayden had actually spoken. Spoken for what seemed like hours, though Johnny had slept no longer than usual. He found himself wondering if, now that Rayden could visit his dreams, the storms would still come.

There was hardly a cloud in the sky on set that day, and though the director was infinitely pleased, Johnny couldn't help but be disappointed. He was in the middle of a particularly dramatic scene - over dramatic, if you asked Johnny - when Rayden apparently decided to exercise his sense of humor.

Out of a perfectly cloudless sky, a single column of rain fell, managing to completely envelop Johnny...and only Johnny. The director yelled cut irritably, at which time the rain shut off entirely. After a short break during which Johnny changed, they began again. And so did the rain. Johnny stepped out of the column, which then swerved to drench him again. The director yelled cut. The rain stopped. The director yelled action. The rain started. Everyone stared as Johnny walked in a circle and the rain followed him.

Finally, the actor had had enough. Johnny glared up at the sky and yelled, "I'm trying to get some work done! Cut it out!" To everyone's surprise, including Johnny's, the rain left.

By the end of the day, he was beginning to regret his demand. The director had returned to his usual irritable self, the cast and crew were staring openly, everyone was whispering behind his back and his fighting partners were terrible at pulling their punches. He was ready to stop pulling his.

When the set finally shut down for the day it was early afternoon. Johnny changed in his trailer, wincing at the sight of the occasional bruise. He'd be stiff in the morning. Sighing deeply, he slid into the driver's seat of his car and pulled away from the set, looking forward to a hot bath in his hotel room.

On the way, something prompted him to turn off the main road. Johnny hesitated for a moment, visions of steaming water beckoning, but ended up taking the turn. He passed a sign informing him he was entering a park and quickly came to a small parking lot. He pulled into a spot and left the car. Picking a trail at random, Johnny started hiking.

When he reached the end of the path, he understood the urge that had driven him here. He stood in a clearing almost identical to the one in his dream. It was only slightly less vibrant and idyllic. He almost expected Rayden to appear. He got the next best thing. It started raining.

Johnny grinned and tilted his face up into the warm rain, opening his mouth to let the liquid slide down his throat as well. After a long moment, he glanced around and, seeing that he was alone, quickly unbuttoned his shirt and tossed it aside. Streams of rain slithered across his bruise-mottled skin, guided by the curves of his pecs and the lines of muscle carved into his abdomen.

The touch of the drops was like a caress. The thought entered Johnny's mind that the rain was as much Rayden as his human form had been. Rayden was easing the ache from his body. Rayden's touch was sliding from shoulders to chest, chest to abdomen... Johnny's eyes closed and he saw Rayden as he had appeared the night before, in his dream.

The patter of raindrops against his face became a rain of kisses. Johnny's groin tightened, arousal creeping through him. The light shower wasn't enough. It was teasing, just teasing. Moments later a wave of more forceful drops touched him, lightening again after only a few seconds. A slight moan fell from Johnny's lips, surprising him.

Almost imperceptibly, the air grew heavier. Johnny swore he could feel the change against his skin. He reached up and pushed his hair out of his face. His jeans had grown uncomfortably heavy...and tight. The wet material chafed against Johnny's erection. Glancing around a little self-consciously - he was in a public park - Johnny shed the offending pants, shucking his underwear along with them.

The rain seemed to celebrate his nakedness, flowing across every plane of his body, channeling itself into every crease. Johnny gasped as warm drops struck the length of his cock, the touch just hard enough to send shivers of pleasure through his body, yet light enough to make him ache for a firmer caress.

His knees gave out. Johnny fell to his hands and knees. Water pooled in the small of his back and spilled down his sides, tickling his ribcage. Pushing himself back to sit on his heels, Johnny gave himself up to the rain...to Rayden.

The air crackled with energy, as though building to a lightning bolt. Instead, it crackled over Johnny's skin. It was like nothing he'd ever felt before. The electricity seemed to reach inside him, drawing forth a rush of pleasure so intense it left Johnny gasping. The rain eased the sensation. It surrounded him, it embraced him.

"Rayden..." Johnny moaned. Eyes shut, he leaned into empty air, seeking the touch of hands and finding only the press of water against his skin. The rain began to fall harder. It's caresses became firmer, seeking. Johnny raised one hand from where it lay on his thigh and wrapped it about his cock. He stroked himself in time with the pulses of rain, seeing Rayden behind his closed eyes.

When he at last came, screaming the god's name, a flash of lightning lit the clouds overhead. Johnny allowed his eyes to drift open. He was alone in the clearing. He sat, trembling, as the rain washed him clean.

Eventually, the shower stopped and the sun returned. It's rays had almost dried him by the time Johnny remembered he was sitting stark naked in the middle of a public park. Standing, he quickly pulled on his damp clothing and returned to his car. He hardly remembered the drive back to his hotel. Reaching his hotel room, Johnny shed his clothes, quickly toweled himself dry and climbed into bed to sleep. His exhaustion had returned full force, but he had just enough time before slumber claimed him to wonder if he would dream of Rayden again.

Long after the sound of slow, even breathing filled the Room, fingers of energy crackled down the walls and coalesced in a point next to the bed. The glow slowly lost it's brilliance, resolving itself into a human form. Rayden smiled down at Johnny. The actor lay sprawled on his stomach and the blankets had slid down from his shoulders to his waist.

Reaching out, Rayden lightly touched the smooth skin of his lover's back with a single finger. Where his touch passed, color bloomed. Green and gold, silver and blue...when Rayden finally withdrew his touch a beautifully drawn dragon graced the mortal's right shoulder blade. Smiling, the god vanished.

Johnny arrived on the set the next day in a decidedly black mood. Somehow he just knew it was going to be a terrible day. Not only had he not dreamed of Rayden, when he woke up he was stiff and still sporting bruises. To top it all off he had a scene with the same guys who'd marked him up the day before, and he knew the director would taking a strip off of him for the stiffness he'd be showing.

He was right. Johnny had barely arrived on the set before he felt the force of the director's glare. Sighing, he took refuge in his trailer and drew out changing for as long as possible. Never mind that, since he'd be doing a fight scene today, the only thing he had to change into was a pair of sparring pants.

Johnny ran through a quick warm up routine, managing to work most of the soreness out of his muscles, and stepped onto that mat that would serve as the set today. Turning his back on the director, he took his starting position and waited for the word.

"What the hell is that?" the director practically screamed.

Not the words Johnny was looking for. He straightened up and turned to face the director, who then promptly circled around Johnny again. "What?" the actor demanded, struggling to keep the irritation out of his own voice.

A short, blunt finger prodded him in the back. "That! That's a tattoo!"

Johnny's brow wrinkled. "Tattoo? I don't have a tattoo."

"You didn't yesterday," the director fumed, circling to face the star of his movie. "But you sure as hell do today!"

Johnny seized a mirror from a nearby make up artist and craned his head to catch the reflection of the shoulder blade where he'd been poked. Sure enough, a brilliant green dragon stared back at him. "What the hell?" he murmured, studying it closely.

"I don't know what you did last night," the director ranted, shuffling to stand nose to nose with Johnny, "but I have had enough of you fucking with my film!"

Before Johnny could even open his mouth to reply a bolt of lightning flashed out of the perfectly clear sky and struck the director right on the top of the head. He stood, eyes wide with shock, clothes and hair singed but otherwise unharmed.

When the irritating little man regained his voice he sounded incensed, not cowed. "I don't know what's wrong with you, Cage," he hissed, "but by the time I'm done, you won't have a career to speak of." Johnny looked around for support, but found none in the faces of cast and crew.

"You know," Johnny said conversationally, looking at the director but not speaking to him. "I could use a little back up here."

The moment he finished speaking a lightning bolt struck the ground next to him. Johnny didn't even flinch. When the after image of the abrupt flash cleared from the eyes of cast and crew they saw a man with pure white hair dressed in strange robes standing next to the star of their movie.

"You really love those dramatic entrances, don't you," Johnny asked Rayden, unable to suppress a grin despite the mess the god had gotten him into.

"We all have our small pleasures," Rayden replied, smirking. Then he turned to the director who was staring at him in irritation and disbelief. The god's whole posture changed. Instead of projecting a sense of calm, his presence became darkly threatening. Johnny stepped out of his way, allowing Rayden to step threateningly close to the director.

To do him credit, the director actually managed to meet Rayden's infuriated gaze before wilting visibly. "It is not," Rayden said quietly, though his voice carried, "a good idea to piss off a god." Johnny found himself unable to take his eyes off of Rayden. He'd never seen the god truly angry, never seen him looking quite so dangerous. It was sexy as hell. While the rest of the cast trembled in fear, Johnny had to fight down the urge to jump Rayden right in the middle of the set.

"I don't believe in gods," the director choked out.

"You," Rayden said, smiling darkly, "are a very foolish man." With that, he pointed at the camera that was currently trained on him. The camera operator jumped back as a line of blue energy shot from Rayden's finger and reduced the machine to a smoking wreck.

While everyone stared, the god turned his gaze on Johnny, obviously dismissing the rest of those present from his mind. "I think it's about time we were going."

"I'd agree with that," the mortal said, snatching up a shirt. Before he could slip the shirt on, Rayden reached out and touched the dragon tattoo, his expression undeniably pleased. "So that's your work," Johnny said, his tone dry and unsurprised.

"Yes," Rayden confirmed, unrepentant, but allowed Johnny to don the shirt. The cast watched, fascinated and forgotten. "I like to claim what's mine."

Johnny had no more warning than that before he was pulled into a passionate kiss. He responded without thought, leaning into Rayden's embrace and warm sweetness of the other man's mouth. The kiss was deep and hungry. Their lips were sealed together, hiding the play of tongues within. When Johnny drew away to breathe Rayden briefly held his lower lip captive, sliding his tongue along it one last time before releasing Johnny.

The cast and crew were still staring. Staring more, in fact.

Johnny blinked a couple of times, ran his tongue over his lips, paused, and nodded towards his car. "Come on," he said to Rayden, smiling a little, "let's go." The two men climbed into the car and departed the set, leaving a rather stunned cast and crew behind them.

After a long moment of silence, the director, a little blackened around the edges, rounded on the camera crew. "What the fuck is that?" he yelled, pointing at the damaged camera. The crew just rolled their eyes at him.

The drive back to Johnny's hotel was filled with tension. For the first few blocks, there was definitely a sexual note to it. But as their destination grew closer, Johnny became nervous and just a little bit irritated that Rayden had taken the liberty of marking him. Rather permanently, at that.

By the time he parked the car, Johnny was angry enough that he found himself stalking to his hotel room, leaving the god to follow. He admitted, privately, that more than a little of his anger was compensating for his nervousness. But he gave no sign of this to Rayden.

Johnny threw the door to his room open and stepped inside, rounding on Rayden the moment the god shut the door behind himself. "What the fuck is this?" he yelled, pointing to the shoulder where the tattoo lay beneath his shirt.

Rayden seemed unsurprised by his anger. "It's a tattoo, Johnny."

"I know it's a god damned tattoo!" the movie star said, not lowering his voice. "What gave you the right to put it there?! You've gotten me into a horrible mess with this, you know. Word gets around in this industry, and everyone on that set is going to be spreading a hundred reasons not to hire me!"

"You didn't seem to care at the time," Rayden pointed out, beginning to sound irritated himself.

"You obviously don't! This is my life, Rayden!"

"And this was my last chance to be a part of it!" Rayden interjected, frustrated. Johnny's jaw dropped. The god pushed on, his voice low and intense. "As protector of the realm of Earth I was free to visit this world any time I chose. Having risen in the ranks, my powers are both greater and more limited. I'm now allowed one warrior from this domain. One warrior with whom I am allowed contact. One warrior who can come with me to my world. One." Rayden paused to take a breath. "I chose you."

Johnny had no idea what to say. After a moment, he gave up on speaking. Instead, he seized Rayden by the front of his robes and pulled him into a deep, passionate kiss. Rayden gave himself up to the mortal's passion. It had been so very long since anyone had wanted him so badly. Since a man's hands had touched him, rather than a supplicant's.

The touches Johnny could feel through the thin layer of his shirt and pants were an almost unbearable tease. Dancing over his concealed skin, they brought to mind flashes of warm rain. As it had then, a wave of intense frustration passed through him. He needed to touch, to feel skin beneath his hands, to give pleasure even as he took it.

He didn't realize what he'd done until it was finished. Rayden stood, clad only in a pair of loose pants, the amusement clear on his face as he regarded the torn robes Johnny held. The movie star shrugged sheepishly, tossed the robes aside and reached for the other man.

Rayden gasped as greedy hands explored his back and chest. His grip tightened on Johnny's shoulders and he found himself almost leaning on the mortal as talented fingers drove all thought from his head. He was operating more on instinct than intent when he pulled off Johnny's shirt. He hooked his fingers into the waistband of Johnny's pants, but was distracted by another kiss.

Johnny leaned into Rayden, bringing bare skin together as he deepened the hungry kiss. The god's fingers gripped his hips tightly. Johnny grinned into the kiss, then broke it so he could taste the skin of his lover's neck...shoulder...chest...

"Johnny!" Rayden cried out, unable to resist jerking toward the wet warmth that engulfed one of his nipples. The only response to his cry was to feel Johnny's teeth tug on the sensitive bit of flesh. Rayden's knees went weak. He gathered enough control to pull Johnny over to the bed before he collapsed.

There, they let go of each other just long enough to shuck the rest of their clothing. Johnny, grinning and flushed, scooted backwards on the bed, bent knees open in invitation. Rayden wasted no time in accepting. He knelt between Johnny's thighs and bent forward to kiss the younger man, and lost himself for a moment in the feel of the longed-for body beneath his.

"Finally," he murmured, running one hand down Johnny's body, allowing it to come to rest on his knee. Johnny grinned, and opened his mouth as if to speak, but all that emerged was a moan. Rayden grinned in return and began to rain kisses down on his lover's chest, his cock grinding against Johnny's. The mortal gasped for breath under his caresses, but Rayden soon felt hands pushing him upright, away from the feast of skin.

Johnny shook sweat damped hair from his eyes and gasped out, "Been there. Done that. I want to feel you," he lifted his hips a little, "here."

Rayden couldn't deny the raw, aching need in Johnny's voice. "I need -"

"Bathroom," Johnny answered the unasked question. "Hurry?"

The god found a tiny bottle of complimentary hand lotion in the hotel bathroom. It would have to be enough. Rejoining Johnny on the bed, he claimed a savage kiss before spreading the lotion over his fingers and touching the tight ring of muscle.

Johnny's eyes closed involuntarily, then he forced them open again. He wanted to see Rayden to know he was there. A single finger pressed within, and he pushed impatiently against it. "More?" He could hear the whimper in his voice but didn't care.

Rayden's answer was to tease another finger into the opening. He was throbbing with need, but he refused to hurt Johnny. Johnny, who was moaning and panting wildly. Rayden had hardly moved the pair of fingers inside his lover when Johnny gasped out. "Enough! I need you. Now. Please?"

"Yes," the god moaned in return, and smeared the last of the lotion over his cock. He entered Johnny in one long, slow thrust. At the end of it, he lay trembling against the other man's chest, struggling for control of himself, almost undone by the heat that gripped him.

After a moment Johnny whimpered again and tilted his hips, demanding motion. Rayden braced himself and withdrew from the incredible embrace of his lover's body, gasping with the effort. He plunged back within, groaning in relief, paused, and repeated the motion.

Their rhythm built slowly to a pounding tempo that had the cheap hotel bed creaking in protest. Johnny gripped the headboard for leverage and thrust his hips forward to meet each of Rayden's strokes.

Finally his control gave out and he came hard, his back arching off the bed, the headboard flexing dangerously in his grip. Rayden was pulled over the edge with him as his muscles clamped down. They lay, panting, sticky with sweat and semen, and tried to gain something resembling coherent thought.

"You don't mind about the tattoo, then?" Rayden finally managed.

"Wha...?" was Johnny's only response. The God smirked and allowed himself to relax into the sleep that had already claimed his lover.

Epilogue...

The sound of laughing drew Rayden into Johnny's living room. The movie star, his bag over one shoulder, had paused to catch the news. At Rayden's inquiring glance he merely pointed at the commentator on the TV.

"Paramount has at last been forced to shut down production of their latest martial arts picture, 'New Blood'. Originally saddled with a director deemed harsh by some and impossible to work with by others, the film struggled to the shooting stage. At that point, everything from freak weather and equipment failure to the abrupt desertion of the star finally forced the studio to give up..."

--End--