“Welcome back.” Mochizuki Shiraha looked up from the pot of chicken stir fry on the stove as he called out a greeting to his eldest brother, Keishi. He heard his older brother Natsuo echo the greeting from the recesses of his room. Turning the fire off, Shiraha carefully transferred the food to a wide bowl and carried it into the low table in the common room that was already set for dinner. As he walked through the swinging half-doors that separated the kitchen from the common room, Shiraha was surprised to see a strange man standing next to his two brothers. The three men were chatting amicably and Shiraha guessed that the man was a friend of both his brothers.
The stranger was as tall as Keishi, though his brother had always been abnormally tall for a Japanese man. The other man wore a business suit similar to his brother’s but he was slightly more muscular with broader shoulders and brown hair trimmed so that it fell around his ears. Natsuo and Keishi both had black hair of similar length. Natsuo was a few inches shorter than the other two men, and he was wearing a baggy t-shirt and jeans in the style of the Americans on TV.
He’s cute. Shiraha was a little surprised at his observation of the strange man. It had been a while since he’d been attracted to another man, though even then nothing had come of it. Shiraha smiled politely in greeting as the three men noticed his entrance. His tone light, Shiraha mock-scolded his brother. “Keishi, why didn’t you tell me you were bringing a guest home? I would have made something more elaborate than stir-fry.”
Shiraha was busy placing the bowl gently on the table as Keishi replied. “Don’t worry about it, Shira. Hunter-kun won’t mind, will you?”
“Of course I don’t mind. It’s an honor to be invited into your home.” Shiraha blinked at the foreign name and then took a second look at the man standing next to his brother. The man spoke Japanese flawlessly without an accent, but his face was that of a foreigner. His eyes were rounded, not the almond eyes of Shiraha and his brothers. Despite appearances, it was entirely possible that the other man was Japanese. Shiraha himself was a perfect example of how the son of two Japanese parents could look like a foreigner.
Hunter took a few steps onto the carpet to cover the distance between them. Shiraha absently noticed that Hunter had already removed his shoes. He had to tilt his head up to meet the other man’s gaze as Hunter stuck his hand out towards Shiraha. “I’m Kobayashi Hunter. It’s nice to meet you.” Hunter’s tone was full of warmth and welcome. Shiraha had to remind himself to breathe as the handsome older man stood close to him, within touching distance, and smiled directly at him. Blue-green eyes watched him intently, a spark of interest seeming to catch in their depths.
“Mochizuki Shiraha. The pleasure is mine.” Shiraha politely took the hand proffered by other man, bowing slightly as he did so. A quick grip and shake of their hands and contact was over, but the firmness of the other man’s grip lingered on Shiraha’s flesh even after they’d parted.
Leaning conspiratorially towards Hunter, Shiraha sent a look of mock-reproval at his eldest brother. “Keishi never gives me a chance to show off my cooking. He’s such a mean brother.” His tone was light and jovial, clearly conveying that he held no grudge against his brother. The other men chuckled lightly and Shiraha settled into the role of a proper host with fervor. The familiar rules of polite manners was a comfort to him. It reminded him of the days when his parents had hosted lavish dinner parties at their home, and Shiraha’s mother had taught him all there was to know about serving a meal to guests. Stepping away slightly and lowering his eyes, Shiraha broke the gaze his eyes had locked on Hunter. “If you’ll pardon me, I should get out an extra place setting.” Turning, he walked out of the room quietly.
Shiraha’s could feel his face start to burn as soon as he turned around. The sensation of Hunter’s eyes following him as he moved did not help matters. Instead, it only reminded him of his growing interest in the other man. He was starting to like the other man more than he should. If Shiraha was reading the other man’s gazes correctly, then the other man had a marked interest in him as well. Pushing through the doors to the kitchen, Shiraha silently cursed his pale skin that clearly showed even the slightest hint of embarrassment. He untied his apron and tossed it onto a nearby hook. Unconsciously, he tucked a few loose strands of blonde hair behind his ear in a nervous gesture and paced slightly. Shiraha tried to think of how to carry everything into the other room in one trip as he waited for his skin to return to a normal shade. Quickly he stacked four bowls, a pair of chopsticks, and a teacup on top of a plate. Checking his reflection in the one of the silver pots on the stove, Shiraha deemed himself presentable to the other men. Cradling a bowl of white rice in the crook of one arm, he held the tower of dishes in both hands and returned to the common room.
Keishi and Hunter were just sitting down around the table as he walked in. A fourth cushion had been added on the empty side of the table to accommodate their guest. The table was set between the TV and the couch, with enough space between the two pieces of furniture to give whoever sat at the table plenty of room. Shelves filled with books and ornaments collected over several years were scattered sparsely along the room’s walls. The entranceway on the opposite side of the room was aligned with the back of the couch, with the right wall extending from the entranceway to a single hallway. Down the hallway were three bedrooms, the bathroom, and a moderately sized linen closet. The kitchen behind Shiraha was the only other room in the brothers’ shared apartment. Natsuo came to take the rice and bowls from Shiraha as they overheard a comment Hunter directed to Keishi.
“Keishi-kun, why didn’t you tell me your sister was so pretty?”
Shiraha was glad for Natsuo’s presence that kept him from nearly dropping everything as he froze in place, stricken. He thought I was a girl. He likes me because he thinks I’m a girl… Shiraha flushed a deep crimson and looked down as both Keishi and Natsuo started laughing, though Keishi saved him from having to respond.
“Shiraha’s my younger brother, Hunter-kun.”
Hunter’s expression turned to one of horror as he realized his mistake. “Mochizuki-kun, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize…”
Shiraha rapidly forced his mind to work through the deadness that filled him, trying to maintain the appearance of normal behavior. He chuckled lightly to relieve the other man’s worries and waved Hunter into silence with a forced smile on his face. “Don’t worry about it, Kobayashi-san. It’s actually a fairly common mistake.” Shiraha had always been short and thin. When combined with his pale skin and light blonde hair worn in a long ponytail, it was easy to understand why he was often mistaken for a young girl. The clothing he wore didn’t help his appearance either. It was made in a casual-elegant style that could be worn by either gender. He hadn’t considered it a bad thing until now. But then he never thought a guy he liked would think he was the wrong gender.
Leaning over Hunter’s shoulder, he placed a plate and chopsticks in front of the other man. His mind was all too aware of his close proximity to the attractive older man, and Shiraha mentally told it in no uncertain terms to be quiet. Hunter probably wasn’t interested in other guys. Shiraha didn’t have a chance. “Are chopsticks fine or would you prefer silverware?” He kept his tone light and free of the bitterness that was filling him, most of it directed at himself for thinking he had a chance with the older man.
“I’m fine with chopsticks. I may look foreign but I grew up in Japan.” Hunter smiled up at him from where he sat. “And I’d prefer if you called me ‘Hunter’.”
Shiraha was a bit taken aback by the warmth in the other man’s voice. It was at the same level as earlier if not slightly increased in friendliness. While he was distracted, Natsuo sat in Shiraha’s normal seat at the table. Shiraha sent a confused glance at his brother but didn’t comment as he took the remaining seat across from Hunter. Hunter’s eyes still followed him as he sat down, their intensity undimmed. Shiraha smiled timidly back at Hunter, unsure of whether this was a sign of Hunter’s continued interest or just mere friendliness. Regardless, he responded with a friendly tone. “In that case, please call me ‘Shiraha’. Calling someone ‘Mochizuki’ can become quite confusing in this household.”
Natsuo finished passing out bowls of rice at the same time as Shiraha finished dishing out plates of stir-fry, and they started eating. Hunter was quick to compliment Shiraha on his cooking, causing Shiraha to blush once more at the other man’s praise.
“If it’s not going to be too much trouble for you, I invited Hunter-kun to eat dinner with us from now on.” Keishi watched Shiraha as he spoke, his eyes were serious though they held a strange spark that Shiraha couldn’t identify.
Shiraha smiled and shook his head. “It won’t be any trouble. I always make too much food anyways.” He definitely wouldn’t mind spending more time with the handsome older man, even if it was as just friends. Something about the other man drew Shiraha to him. Whether it was the friendly personality or his intense gaze, Shiraha wasn’t sure. Maybe there could be something more between them, but at the moment Shiraha didn’t wish to speculate. Natsuo seemed to have picked up on Shiraha’s thoughts because he smiled widely and winked at Shiraha while Hunter wasn’t looking. Shiraha sipped at his tea to hide his blush.
Natsuo was probably just teasing him. His brothers did that mercilessly. Whether it was his age or his effeminate nature, they always found something to make him embarrassed about. They joked about his inability to find someone he wanted to date for the last two years, and about how he would make the perfect housewife for some lucky man. Shiraha was just glad his brothers accepted his sexuality openly with good cheer, as did his parents. And Shiraha gave back as good as he got, teasing his brothers as much as they teased him.
They ate in silence for several moments before Shiraha voiced a question that had been on his mind since he’d met Hunter. “Have you and Natsuo known Hunter-san for a long time, Keishi?”
Keishi nodded as he spoke. “He was in the same class as me through the entirety of high school and at Tokyo University. He was studying abroad last year, otherwise you would have seen him around campus.”
Hunter picked up where Keishi left off. “I ran into Keishi-kun by chance at work and then we discovered that we both live in the same apartment complex on the walk home.”
“Hunter-kun told me that he was living alone so I invited him to eat with us.” Keishi and Natsuo were now giving Shiraha the same look and Shiraha could tell they both had mischief on their minds. “Of course, when I told Hunter-kun how delicious your cooking was, he couldn’t wait to join us.”
Shiraha was all too aware of Hunter’s gaze on him as he blushed. What was it about the other man’s presence that made him so easily flustered? If it had been any other man he would have laughed the comment off. But even though he knew his brother was lying and that Hunter probably wasn’t interested, he still felt warmed by the idea.
Sticking his tongue out at Keishi, Shiraha tried to act casually. “You over-exaggerate, I think.”
“I’m afraid your brother didn’t mention how well you cook when he invited me over, Shiraha-kun, though now that I’ve tasted your wonderful cooking I look forward to being invited back again.” Hunter smiled at him as he spoke and Shiraha felt his heart flutter slightly. He’s hitting on me. He’s most certainly hitting on me. Shiraha looked at Hunter in surprise, his eyes widening slightly as he realized the other man’s gaze had barely left him all night. He wasn’t sure how to respond to the compliment so he shut his mouth as soon as he realized it was hanging open and turned away to pick at his rice, blushing a deep red as he did so. Natsuo and Keishi were laughing at him lightly but Shiraha ignored them and concentrated on his food. Natsuo thankfully took the attention off of him by directing a question at Hunter.
“Did your parents return with you from America, Hunter-kun?”
Hunter shook his head in response. “No, they stayed in the States when I moved back.” Though his eyes focused mainly on Natsuo as he spoke, Shiraha could feel their gaze pass over him every couple seconds. “Are yours in the area?”
“No, they’re in Britain right now.” Hunter seemed quite familiar with their home situation and Shiraha guessed Keishi had told him about it sometime during their acquaintance. Shiraha’s parents were the owners of a large chain of global businesses, and they spent a lot of their time out of the country meeting with executives from the various branches. Shiraha and his brothers had grown up by themselves most of the time, so they’d learned from an early age to take care of themselves. Their parents had bought them the apartment they currently lived in after Natsuo had graduated from high school since it was closer to Tokyo University than their home in Yokohama. Keishi and Hunter both worked for a local branch of their family’s business.
“Are you still pursuing a degree in law, Natsuo-kun?” Hunter asked.
Natsuo nodded as he chewed on a bite of food and Hunter turned his full attention on Shiraha. “Are you attending Tokyo University as well?”
Shiraha quickly swallowed his food and nodded. “Yes. I’m majoring in literature.”
They finished the meal amidst light conversation, and Shiraha took away the dishes to return with cake and another pot of tea. Shiraha found his eyes drifting to where Hunter was sitting multiple times during the night. He was sure that he felt Hunter’s gaze on him for most of the night as well. Sometimes he would look over to find Hunter’s gaze already on him, causing Shiraha to blush and look away quickly. Shiraha’s relative quiet seemingly went unnoticed by his brothers, though they smiled at him constantly. When it was time for Hunter to leave, Shiraha followed his brothers to the door and bowed politely as he wished the other man a good night. Once more Hunter’s eyes found his, and then the closing door broke the contact as quickly as it was made.
Shiraha busied himself clearing away the dishes and started to fill the sink with warm water so he could wash the dishes. Rolling up his sleeves, he started to wash the dishes left over from dinner. Natsuo came in to help him, picking up the dishrag and drying the dishes after Shiraha had washed them. He could sense Keishi leaning against the doorframe behind him, and he wondered what his two brothers were planning.
Natsuo was the first to broach the subject. “You like Hunter-kun.”
Shiraha lost his grip on the bowl he was cleaning and it sunk back into the water so that he had to fish around for it. The words had been stated as a fact, and Shiraha knew his brothers wouldn’t believe any excuses he made.
Blushing beneath the blonde bangs that fell across his face, he answered. “Am I that obvious?”
“Maybe not to Hunter-kun, but definitely to us.” Keishi answered as he moved to help Natsuo put away the dry dishes.
“What are you going to do about it?” Natsuo asked.
“What can I do? I don’t even know if he’s…”
“Gay?” Keishi interrupted him. “He is. Interested? He seemed like he was and I know that he’s single right now. Why do you think I asked him to join us for dinner?”
Shiraha looked up at his brother in shock. “I thought it was just because you were friends.”
Keishi nodded. “And because you two would make a great couple.”
Shiraha felt his face flush as he got a little bit angry at his brother. “You set me up.”
Natsuo calmed him with a pat on the back. “Because you seemed like you were lonely.”
Shiraha turned to face Natsuo accusingly. “You were in on this too?”
“I called him at lunch and asked what he thought,” Keishi commented.
“And I told him I thought you and Hunter-kun would be cute together.” Natsuo put an arm around his shoulders in a partial hug. “But ignoring our opinion, what do you want? Do you want to date Hunter-kun?”
Shiraha couldn’t help the small grin that spread across his face as he thought about the idea. He would love to date Hunter. The other man had seemed very nice from the conversation that evening, and Hunter already met the approval of Shiraha’s brothers. It was obvious that Shiraha was attracted to the other man, just from the way his eyes never strayed far from Hunter or by the way Hunter filled his thoughts.
His response was soft but confident. “Yes.”
“Then I’m glad for you.” Keishi’s tone conveyed how entirely pleased he was with Shiraha’s answer.
“Have any plans for him yet?” Natsuo winked at Shiraha as he nudged him in the side.
Shiraha didn’t think his face could get any redder than what it was now. He couldn’t quite believe he was having this conversation with his brothers. “You know I’m not good with this sort of thing…” Shiraha had always been shy and hesitant when it came to approaching men he liked.
“I could always ask him for you,” Keishi offered teasingly. Both of Shiraha’s older brothers had huge smiles on their faces.
Shiraha’s eyes widened in shock and embarrassment. “You don’t need to do that.”
Natsuo chuckled at the expression on his face and ruffled Shiraha’s hair, earning him a mock-glare and a pout.
A week passed with Hunter joining them every night for dinner. Shiraha had gotten used the Hunter’s presence in their apartment, and the other man often stopped in during the days he wasn’t working to say ‘hi’ to Shiraha and his brothers. Shiraha had yet to confess his feelings to Hunter, though he assured his brothers almost daily that he would do so soon. Regardless, the two men were swiftly growing to be good friends.
Shiraha was lost in thought as he stretched on the top step of a small step ladder to place a book on the top shelf. The store had been relatively quiet all day, so Shiraha had started restocking the shelves with a new shipment they’d gotten in last night. He managed to squeeze the book onto the shelf just before he overbalanced and fell sideways off the ladder with a shout. He closed his eyes as he braced himself for impact with the floor only to find his fall halted midway by a pair of strong arms. Blinking his eyes open, Shiraha stared up at Hunter’s startled face.
“Are you okay?” Hunter asked him, concern filling his voice.
Shiraha nodded. He couldn’t seem to get his voice to work as he stared up at Hunter from where he was held in the other man’s arms. His heart beat loudly inside his chest and his body felt warm, nearly burning at every point where Hunter’s body was in contact with Shiraha’s own. They remained silent for a few moments before Hunter seemed to realized the position they were in and gently lowered Shiraha to his feet. Shiraha stared at the floor awkwardly, his mind taking a few minutes to refocus.
Shiraha looked up at the comments and smiled, his face flushing pink as he did so. Nodding, he bent to pick up the last of the books he had to shelve from the floor. “That’s where my name comes from. I was born underweight and pale so my parents named me ‘white feather’. Then I developed blonde hair like my grandmother, so it became an even more apt name. Keishi was their firstborn son, meant to inherit the family business, so he was named ‘heir’. Natsuo was born in the summer, so they just called him ‘summer’.” Shiraha chuckled ruefully. “My parents weren’t very creative.”
Hunter laughed in response from where he stood, his eyes following Shiraha as he climbed the ladder once more before moving to hold the ladder in place for Shiraha. “I like the name ‘Shiraha’. It fits you. Do you want some help with that?”
Shiraha shook his head. “I’ll be fine.” Pausing, he considered the other man’s fortuitous entrance into the bookstore where Shiraha worked part-time, which was located on the first floor of their apartment building.
“How’d you know I’d be here?”
“Keishi told me that you might be working down here. He asked me to stay with you until Natsuo comes home, assuming you don’t mind my company.”
Shiraha sighed. He had no doubt what Keishi’s intentions were in asking Hunter to stay with him when both he and Natsuo would be gone for the evening, Keishi on a business trip and Natsuo to a concert. “I wish those two would stop treating me like a child. I can take care of myself.”
“I think they were more concerned that you’d be lonely. If you don’t want me to stay, I can leave you alone for the evening.”
Shiraha looked down at Hunter in surprise. Smiling, he quickly finished putting away the books. “No, I’d be happy if you’d keep me company for the evening.” Hunter offered his hand to aid Shiraha as he descended from the ladder. Shiraha gladly accepted the help as he stepped down. He was smiling widely as he closed the shop and lead Hunter up to the apartment for dinner, their hands once more finding each other by the time they reached the door to Shiraha’s apartment.
“I’m going out for groceries,” Shiraha called as he pulled his shoes on.
Hunter looked up from a magazine he was reading from the couch and deposited it quickly on a side table as he stood. “Wait a moment and I’ll go with you.”
Shiraha held the door open as he waited for Hunter to put on his shoes. Natsuo gave him a meaningful look while Hunter’s back was turned. Shiraha chose to ignore his brother as Hunter followed him out the door. They walked in companionable silence as they left the building. Shiraha thought it might be his imagination, but it seemed as if Hunter had been touching him more than usual since the incident in the bookstore. They were innocent touches really, a brush of the hand as Shiraha passed Hunter an item of food at the dinner table, their legs pressing together when they sat next to each other on the couch to watch TV. Even now as they walked in the late evening twilight, Hunter’s arm brushed against his every few steps. The narrow street was deserted, with the low visibility between the scattered streetlamps giving Shiraha and Hunter a bit of privacy from the rest of the world despite the fact that they walked down public streets.
A red square illuminated by one of the streetlamps ahead of them caught his attention and Shiraha’s eyes lit up as he saw that the flyer was advertising a local temple festival. Hunter watched him curiously as Shiraha stopped to read the poster.
“Do you like festivals?”
Shiraha smiled widely up at Hunter as he nodded. “I love them. Mom and Dad used to take me to them all the time when I was a kid.”
“Keishi doesn’t like them, does he? I remember he never wanted to go to one with our group of friends when we were in school.”
Shiraha nodded in agreement. “Natsuo doesn’t like them either, so I never have anyone to go with.”
“I’ll go with you.”
Shiraha blinked at Hunter’s words and looked at the ground as he blushed slightly. “You don’t have to if you don’t want to. I know you must be busy with…”
A finger over his lips stalled his words and Shiraha looked up at Hunter with a questioning glance.
“I want to go with you to the festival. Consider it a date.”
Shiraha’s breath caught in his throat and his eyes widened as he took in Hunter’s words. The taller man’s hand moved from Shiraha’s mouth to his chin and tilted it upward as Hunter leaned down towards him. Shiraha was frozen in place, barely breathing as his thoughts scattered in every direction. “I’ve been in love with you for a while, Shiraha-kun,” he murmured lowly. Shiraha didn’t have a chance to respond as Hunter’s mouth closed over Shiraha’s own.
Shiraha melted into the touch, his hands reaching up to hold tightly to the front of Hunter’s shirt. The other man’s hand moved to brush over Shiraha’s hair and down his ponytail. Light shivers ran up Shiraha’s spine at the contact and he parted his lips with a gasp in an effort to deepen the contact. His body burned as Hunter’s tongue caressed the roof of his mouth. Shiraha was shaking, his mind overloading on his current emotional high. They broke away shortly, both men gasping for air. Their eyes searched one another’s faces for a moment before Shiraha laid his head against Hunter’s broad chest, his fists still bunched in the fabric of Hunter’s shirt as strong arms encircled him.
“I’ve been in love with you for a long time too, Hunter-san.” Shiraha looked up to see Hunter smiling down at him, and he was filled with happiness from the love in the other man’s gaze.
“You sound happy.”
Shiraha looked up from the pot of oatmeal he was stirring as his brother Natsuo entered the kitchen wearing just a pair of pajama pants. “Oh?”
“You were humming.”
Shiraha blushed and turned back to the oatmeal. “I didn’t notice. Sorry.”
“I don’t mind, it sounded nice.” Natsuo grinned at him as he leaned on the counter next to Shiraha. “Something good happen between you and Hunter-kun?”
Shiraha blushed further as he considered how to answer. Natsuo took the choice from him as he pulled Shiraha into a headlock from behind. Shiraha struggled to escape, accidentally blurting out what had happened the previous night in an effort to get Natsuo to let him go. “Hunter-san asked me to go on a date with him.”
Natsuo released him and Shiraha rubbed his neck as he shot his brother a dirty look.
“About time.” Keishi commented as he walked into the kitchen to pour himself a cup of coffee.
Shiraha squawked in protest as Natsuo echoed the sentiment.
“When and where?” Keishi asked matter-of-factly.
“He’s taking me to the Sanja festival tomorrow night.”
“Bring me back some takoyaki.” Natsuo chirped.
Shiraha sighed as his brothers continued to pester him for details about what had happened between him and Hunter.
Shiraha bounded to the door as soon as he heard the knock, pointedly ignoring his brothers chuckling from the couch. He opened the door to find Hunter standing there holding a wrapped package. Shiraha smiled widely at the other man, quickly taking in how handsome the other man looked in the dark blue kimono he wore. “You look nice.”
“Thanks.” Hunter smiled back at him before holding out the package he carried. “This is for you.”
Shiraha took the package with a questioning look.
“It’s a kimono for you. Keishi told me you didn’t have any. He also told me what size to get so it should fit you well enough, I hope.”
Shiraha’s eyes widened at the gift. “You shouldn’t have!”
Hunter stopped him before he could protest further, a gentle smile on his face as he spoke. “I wanted to. Why don’t you go change so we can see how it looks?”
Shiraha nodded and walked back to his room, leaving Hunter to converse with Keishi and Natsuo. He unwrapped the package to reveal a creamy blue kimono, with white flowers embroidered into the silk cloth. Changing into the kimono, he tied the accompanying sash around his waist. Making sure the kimono hung properly in the full-length mirror on his wall, Shiraha released his hair from its ponytail to let it fall around his shoulders. He ran his comb through it once before returning to the common room.
Shiraha blushed at the looks he was given as he entered, and he nervously tucked a strand of hair behind his ear. “Do I look okay?”
“Beautiful.” Hunter said the word reverently, causing Shiraha’s blush to deepen. Shiraha could see why Hunter had chosen the light blue kimono, it complemented Hunter’s own perfectly.
“You’ll make all the women jealous.” Natsuo commented with a wink.
Hunter offered his hand to Shiraha before he could reply to his brother’s comment. “Shall we?”
“Have fun, kiddies.” Keishi called as they stepped into the hallways.
“We won’t wait up.” Natsuo added as Shiraha shut the door behind him.
Hunter locked his arm with Shiraha’s as they walked to the festival together.
Shiraha’s eyes widened to the size of saucers as they walked up to the Asakusa Shrine. Vendors lined the stone pathways up to the shrine selling brightly colored masked, candied apples and strawberries, takoyaki, grilled chicken, grilled corn, grilled cuttlefish, and a wide variety of other items that caught Shiraha’s eye. He felt like his eyes were going to pop out of his socket as he tried to take in all the sights at once.
Hunter chuckled at him and placed his hand in Shiraha’s so they wouldn’t get separated in the crowd. “It’s alright to go slowly. You don’t have to try and take in everything all at once.”
Shiraha blushed at the gentle chastisement and calmed himself somewhat. It just seemed like there were so many things that begged for his attention. He remembered the festivals in Yokohama being even more busy to his young mind. He hadn’t been to a festival since New Year’s Eve, when his parents had been home, and even then the family had gone to one of the smaller shrines since Natsuo and Keishi didn’t like crowds. Here, life seemed to buzz about them and magic filled the air.
Hunter pointed at a game booth ahead of them. “Do you want me to win you a goldfish? I used to be pretty good at that.”
Shiraha laughed gaily, attaching himself to Hunter’s arm with a giddy smile. “No, I don’t need one.” He was glad just to be walking along the aisles with Hunter next to him, the sights and sounds of the festival almost as enthralling as the other man’s company. “Besides, all the ones my parents won for me when I was a kid died in under a week.”
“How about one of the yo-yos over there?”
Shiraha blushed lightly as he was pulled over to the stall at Hunter’s insistence. Shiraha had never had the skill necessary to win any of the festival games. Instead he watched, enthralled, as Hunter took the paper string handed to him and carefully hooked the ring of a blue and silver yo-yo floating in the pool of water. He pulled the plastic ball of water and air out of the pool easily and handed it to Shiraha, who took the ring impishly and stuck it on his finger. He felt like a child again as he bounced the ball from the string on his finger. The shopkeepers smiled at him and winked at Hunter.
“You have a nice evening with your girlfriend, young man.”
Shiraha blushed at the comment but didn’t say anything as he lead Hunter away with a smile.
“You didn’t correct him.” Hunter remarked softly.
Shiraha smiled up at him with a reassuring look in his eyes. “Because he called us a couple.” He held onto Shiraha’s arm and laid his head lightly against Hunter’s shoulder. “I don’t mind people thinking I’m a girl as long as they know that you’re mine.”
Hunter looked down at him in surprise for a moment before his gaze softened and he smiled dazzlingly at Shiraha. “I don’t care if they know you’re a man, I’ll still gladly proclaim to the world that you’re mine. I love you.”
Shiraha felt warmth fill him at Hunter’s words. “And I love you.”
“Do you not like people knowing that you’re dating a guy?”
Shiraha blinked up at the question and shook his head. “It doesn’t bother me. I just like to let things go sometimes. I don’t care what gender people think I am, though I do correct the people I have frequent dealings with if they say something. But the people you see once or twice in your lifetime, that doesn’t matter to me.”
Hunter nodded and remained silent.
“Do you mind, Hunter-san?”
Hunter chuckled lightly. “You don’t have to call me ‘-san’ if we’re dating. And no, I don’t mind. I’ve always been open with my orientation and I’ve suffered no ill effect from it beyond the normal ignorant comments by a few individuals. The people who mattered have always accepted me.”
Shiraha smiled and laughed lightly as he recalled telling his parents about his sexual orientation. “When I came out to my family they all just kind of turned to me and told me they already knew. Here I thought that it was this big secret separating me from my family, and it turns out that they knew before I did. And all the time we’d had a running joke that I would make the perfect housewife. I never expected that I wasn’t the only one who filled in that I’d be the perfect housewife for another man.”
Hunter chuckled with Shiraha, his eyes sparkling. “My family wasn’t that good with it. They were shocked at first but after a while they got used to the idea and opened up to it. I had a rough time when I brought my first couple boyfriends home to meet them because things were always so awkward between them, but I think they’ve gotten used to it by now. They loved me, so they just sort of accepted this new facet of me and tried to adjust as best they could.”
Shiraha hugged Hunter’s arm in reassurance. They walked through the temple streets like that, arm in arm as the picture of the perfect couple.
“Thank you for taking me to the festival, I had a wonderful time.” Shiraha stretched up on his tiptoes to kiss Hunter on the cheek as they stood in front of the door to Shiraha’s apartment, a package of takoyaki held in one of his hands along with the yo-yo. Hunter turned to capture Shiraha’s lips in a deep kiss, his tongue roving hungrily through the crevices of Shiraha’s mouth. Hunter’s arms held him tightly as Shiraha settled back on his heals. The older man’s lips moved to suck gently on Shiraha’s exposed neck. Shiraha bit his lip to stifle a moan as Hunter gently bit below his ear. He gently pushed the other man away to look into his eyes, despite his every instinct telling him to press closer to the taller man’s body.
“We shouldn’t be doing this here,” Shiraha’s voice escaped breathily. Hunter seemed to reluctantly agree and was about to turn to go when Shiraha grabbed his hand. His eyes sparkling mischievously, he forced himself to speak through the embarrassment the words caused him. “Your apartment would be a much better place to continue such things.”
Hunter’s smile broadened noticeably as he lead Shiraha up two flights of stairs to his fourth floor apartment. Shiraha set the takoyaki and the yo-yo on a table as Hunter locked the door behind them. Less than a second had passed before Hunter came up behind him to wrap his arms around Shiraha, his lips lightly caressing the rim of Shiraha’s ear as he whispered into his ear. “Where would you like to go?”
Turning in Hunter’s grasp, Shiraha entwined his arms around Hunter’s neck as he lightly kissed the older man on the lips. “Your bed.”
If Hunter was surprised by the request, he didn’t show it. Shiraha was lifted off his feet and carried to the bedroom. Shiraha pulled Hunter down on top of him as he was gently laid on the bed. Hands moved between them tentatively, as Hunter plundered Shiraha’s mouth in a deep kiss. Shiraha felt his sash being undone, the fabric falling away as one of Hunter’s hands found its way into Shiraha’s kimono to caress his chest. He gasped, back arching into the touch as the rest of the fabric fell away from his skin, leaving him clad only in boxers beneath the larger man. Hunter helped him disrobe completely, lifting his back and hips to slide the fabric of the kimono down his body, pulling off his boxers last.
Shiraha lay flushed and trembling beneath Hunter as he distractedly tried to pull the kimono off Hunter’s shoulders. Hunter was already kissing a line down Shiraha’s chest, the hands roving across the sides of his body making his skin burn. His legs parted for Hunter’s hands, and they trembled slightly as Hunter caressed Shiraha’s inner thigh. Slowly, Hunter’s mouth worked its way down to Shiraha’s erection. Shiraha watched the progression of the other man’s lips through half-lidded eyes, his breath expelled in shaky bursts from kiss-swollen lips. Hunter’s tongue flicked over the tip once before swallowing Shiraha whole. The blonde cried out as he was engulfed. Hunter’s hands moved to hold down Shiraha’s bucking hips as he tried to strain further into the glorious wetness that surrounded him.
Shiraha’s breath alternated between heavy moans and harsh pants as Hunter’s mouth moved up and down his cock, tongue swirling every time it reached the head before plunging down once more. Shiraha’s hands buried themselves in brown hair as he shook, his head thrown back into the pillows and rolling from side to side frantically. It ended quickly as Hunter’s mouth rapidly worked him into orgasm and Shiraha came shouting Hunter’s name, his seed filling his lover’s mouth to be greedily swallowed.
Hunter moved up to kiss Shiraha’s forehead, silently holding Shiraha until the boy stopped shaking. Looking up at the other man, Shiraha smiled lovingly before twining his hands behind Hunter’s head and pulling the other man down into a kiss. He tasted himself on Hunter’s lips, slightly bitter though not entirely unpleasant. His hands moved down Hunter’s back before slipping around to finish untying the sash on Hunter’s kimono and fully removing the garment. Hunter’s underwear followed shortly, leaving the two men naked on the bed with Hunter’s continued arousal evident between them.
Shiraha pushed Hunter away slightly to roll over onto his stomach beneath the other man. “It’s done like this, isn’t it?” Shiraha couldn’t help the blush that spread across his face as he spoke, and he hoped Hunter understood what he was implying.
Shiraha blinked in confusion as he was rolled onto his back one more, feeling slightly rejected as Hunter did so. He looked up at Hunter questioningly and was answered with a gentle smile as the other man brushed a few strands of blonde hair out of Shiraha’s face. “I prefer to do it like this.” Hunter paused for a moment as he looked down at Shiraha, his blue-green eyes searching his face intently. “We don’t have to do this if you don’t want to. I’ll be fine without…”
It was Shiraha’s turn to cut Hunter off, stopping the other man’s words with a light kiss. “Please. I want you to. I want to feel it…” Shiraha blushed a deep crimson that he knew extended down his neck. “…inside.”
Hunter kissed him tenderly before reaching into a drawer next to his bed to pull out a tube of lubricant. “This might hurt you a little.”
“I’ll be fine.” Shiraha smiled up at Hunter, his eyes full of love and trust.
Hunter nodded once before coating his fingers with a generous amount of gel. Shiraha gasped as a wet finger poked against his entrance before slowly pushing inside. He felt himself tense involuntarily at the contact and Hunter was instantly beside him, whispering words of comfort into his ear as his free hand rubbed gentle circles over his stomach. “Relax. It’ll get better. I promise, love.” Hunter’s finger pulled out slightly as his mouth moved to nibble his right earlobe.
Shiraha complied with his lover’s light command, gasping again as Hunter’s hand moved from his stomach to pinch one of his nipples. Hunter pushed his finger in further, moving in as far as it could go before pulling out almost completely and pushing back in again with firm force. Shiraha’s breath escaped as a harsh burst as he forced himself to relax into the burning inside of him where Hunter stretched him. Hunter’s mouth kept him distracted and Shiraha soon found himself thrusting his hips into Hunter’s touch in an effort to get the other man to go deeper.
A second finger soon joined its mate and Shiraha clutched at Hunter with a muffled scream as they started to scissor inside him, his eyes opened wide. Hunter froze instantly, staring down at Shiraha for any sign of pain. “Are you okay?”
Shiraha licked his lips once before responding, his eyes slightly unfocused as he spoke breathlessly. “I’m okay.” He took a gasp of breath. “It just feels… strange.”
Hunter kissed the bridge of his nose before moving his fingers again. “It’ll get better.”
A third finger was added as soon as Shiraha got accustomed to the previous two. They pushed inside of him, insistently widening his entrance while Hunter whispered words of comfort into his ear. Hunter’s middle finger pressed against a spot inside of him and Shiraha bucked into the touch with a shout, fireworks blossoming before his eyes in pleasure from the contact. He could feel himself beginning to harden again at the pleasure of Hunter’s touch. Hunter made certain to stroke the same spot every time his fingers moved into Shiraha, seemingly trying to memorize its exact location through repetition.
The fingers were removed as Hunter quickly coated himself with lubricant before tossing the tube aside. Hunter’s hands guided Shiraha’s hips to the right spot before he slowly pressed forward. Hunter’s breath escaped in one long gasp as he pushed in, the final burst of air released once he was fully seated inside the younger man. Shiraha lifted his legs to wrap around Hunter’s waist as the older man pulled out completely and readjusted his angle before thrusting back inside in one swift stroke.
A cry broke from Shiraha’s lips as Hunter hit his prostrate, his arms tightening around Hunter’s neck until their chests rubbed together with Hunter’s every move. Quickly their bodies built up a pounding rhythm with Shiraha’s hips bucking up to meet each of Hunter’s thrusts, Shiraha’s member caught between the friction of the two moving bodies. Shiraha gasped incoherently, his body trembling wildly beneath the caresses of Hunter’s wandering hands. One of his hands buried itself in Hunter’s hair, both men equally as breathless. Their eyes locked as Hunter stared down at him, their gaze holding even as one of Hunter’s hands grabbed Shiraha’s building erection, a move which sent Shiraha over the edge a second time. They came together, Hunter’s juice filling Shiraha as his body clenched around the other man and he came into Hunter’s hand.
Absent kisses rained down on Shiraha’s face and neck as they both struggled to catch their breath.
“I love you, Shiraha.” The words were murmured into the skin of Shiraha’s neck but he still heard them clearly. One of Hunter’s hands found Shiraha’s own and entwined their fingers.
“I love you too, Hunter.” Shiraha smiled up at Hunter, his eyes beginning to grow heavy with the need for sleep.
Hunter kissed Shiraha’s eyelids as he pulled out of his lover’s body. Rolling onto his back he pulled Shiraha to rest against his chest. “How long do you think it’ll take your brothers to find out that we slept together?” Hunter asked lazily.
Shiraha yawned as he answered, snuggling into the warmth of Hunter’s body as he entwined their legs together. “They probably already know.” He muttered into Hunter’s skin, the words earning him a low chuckle from his lover. With another yawn he let sleep take him, safe and comforted in the arms of his beloved.