Chapter 1: Meet the Demons
Taiga could have tried to run the moment they took him away from his family, but where was he supposed to go? He had been just 12 years old at that time and no one would have bothered with him or given him shelter. Years he had been forced to do the lowest work for different people. He had been reached around like a slave and now that he was slowly turning into an adult he hoped to be able to find his own way, but he was still too naive for that. One time he had asked to be allowed to leave and find a job and live a normal life, when that had been denied he ran away, but got caught and punished. After his punishment there was again someone new picking him up to bring him to a new place, but when Taiga realized where they were going he tried to get away. In the end he got punished again and each time the scars on his back got more. But this time it wouldn’t just be scars. This place was a final destination and there was just life or death.
He was standing in front of one of the red houses in the Yoshiwara district, two people holding on to him so that he couldn't run away.
Women and men were passing them, all of them laughing, being drunk and shamelessly touching on the street. Taiga closed his eyes with a shiver. This was definitely the worst place he had been brought to so far.
It was evening already and while he could see women sitting behind the red bars of all the other houses, their make-up seeming like the one of a demon with the red lights surrounding them, their house was different. It were boys sitting in the space in the window and in front of them women as well as men looked at them in fascination, all their dirty thoughts visible in those lustful and greedy eyes.
“Oh, a newbie?”
Taiga looked back to the entrance where a man had appeared. He was wearing a light grey kimono which wasn't properly closed and revealed his chest and partly his shoulder. He held a small black fan in his hand and approached Taiga with slow steps. His look was almost burning him down and he would have loved to make a step back, but he wasn't allowed to. He flinched when the other one put the fan under his chin to lift up his head. Taiga moved his head with a warning growl on which the other one lifted an eyebrow before he formed a lopsided smile.
“Interesting, I like you already. Bring him inside, I'll call the owner.”
Some boys crossed their way while they brought Taiga inside and they all seemed to want to know who the newbie was. Some seemed just interested in finding out more about him, others seemed to have other intentions.
“Thank you for bringing him in, you can leave him to us now,” a boy said as they pushed Taiga in a room with nothing more but a table in the middle and an extremely expensive looking floor chair behind it with a red silk cover. The men left Taiga with the boy alone and closed the door.
“You can sit down,” the boy said with a movement towards the pillow which was placed in front of the table. The boy sat down on the tatami ground next to the table and looked at Taiga with scanning eyes. The kimono he was wearing was colorful with a few small pink and violet lines on it, but still not too bright to be annoying to the eye and he had it closed up to his neck completely, looking more like a person from a tea house than a bordel.
“First time for you in Yoshiwara?”
Taiga just nodded nervously on which the boy let out a chuckle and moved a bit closer on which Taiga tensed.
“Okay for starters, just because this is a Yoshiwara, you don't have to fear that everyone here just thinks about sex, not all of the time at least.”
That didn't help Taiga to calm down, because he had seen the boys’ looks and they weren't even customers.
“You don't really want to be here, do you?”
Taiga didn't even dare to shake his head, afraid of receiving a punishment for it.
“By the way my name is Kentaro, would you mind telling me yours?”
His shy tone made the other one chuckle, but Taiga didn't feel annoyed by it. Actually since he'd arrived, Kentaro was the only person he didn't feel like some kind of prey to while getting looked at. “Nice to meet you, Taiga.”
Again just a nod, but Kentaro didn't seem to mind.
“The one you met at the entrance is Taisuke. He is one of the senpais of our house. I know he can look really scary and to be honest you should make sure not to end up alone in a room with him for now.”
That wasn't how Taiga had thought the second half of the sentence would end and he looked at Kentaro with wide eyes.
“I know you thought I'd tell you he is nicer than he looks, right? Let's say he can be nice as well, but never without a purpose.”
Before Taiga could think about it too much the door opened again. It took Taiga some time to realize that he kept staring at the person the whole way until he sat down on the chair behind the table, crossing his legs. His kimono had several layers and the upper one was red with a golden phoenix on it. The way he moved through the room had almost hypnotized Taiga without him noticing. The man in front of him had the same long hair as Taiga, while Kentaro and most other boys had it a bit shorter and there was a golden pin holding up the hair in the back of his neck. He was playing with a black cigarette holder in his right hand and just when he suddenly blew some steam into his face Taiga finally snapped out of it and lowered his head with a small cough on which Kentaro escaped a small chuckle.
“Thank you Kentaro,” was all the other person said before the boy turned towards him and bowed before he got up and left the room. Taiga stared almost panicked after him, but then the other one tapped the cigarette holder on the table on which he turned back.
“Don't worry I won't eat you.”
There was not the slightest hint of a smile on the other one's face while saying that and he kept scanning Taiga on which the boy lowered his eyes on the table, feeling extremely uncomfortable out of a sudden.
“Do you know who I am?”
“The owner of this place?” Taiga whispered and then he gasped when luckily the end without the cigarette landed under his chin and forced him to look up.
“If you know that show me some respect. Look at me when I speak and answer clearly when I ask you something.”
Taiga wanted to nod, but when the other ones look darkened he straightened his back a bit.
“In here it's not sir. You can call me by my name, Kamenashi. But you've to make sure to learn all our rules if you don't want to end up in trouble right from the beginning. Kentaro will help you remembering them later, but for now let me tell you the most important one.” Kamenashi leaned back on the chair and rested his chin on one palm while he faced Taiga with an intense stare and this time Taiga didn't dare to look away.
“If you run away you are dead!”
It wasn’t actually a rule that scared Taiga, because he knew that the rules in Yoshiwara were strict. Not everyone was forced to be here of course, but if looked close enough a lot of them had their own cruel story which made them end up in this kind of environment.
“No punishment, no warning, no second chance. Did I make that clear?”
“Yes,” Taiga replied in a neutral voice while facing the owner. It seemed like Kamenashi was surprised by his calm reply and suddenly his look changed to a more excited one.
“Good, then I guess the other rules can be explained by Kentaro later. For now let me see what kind of material they brought me this time.”
When Kamenashi stood up and walked around the table Taiga looked up at him kind of lost until Kamenashi waved his hands upwards.
Taiga did as he was told and stood in front of the owner who examined him carefully with his eyes. He had put the cigarette on the table and stretched out both hands to touch Taiga’s face and the boy stood still even though he couldn’t deny that he felt a bit uncomfortable.
“Such a soft and pale skin, the customers will like that.”
A compliment which actually made Taiga feel even more uneasy. Just thinking about all the people which were looking at the boys from the street earlier made him shiver. They didn’t even care how obvious their dirty and not always harmless intentions were and unfortunately the business itself also didn’t always care about the boys’ safety.
“Let me see the rest of your body.”
It happened automatically that Taiga stepped back when Kamenashi’s hands traveled to the opening of his jinbei*₁. His clothes were the usual work clothes with loose pants down to the knees and the shirt which got closed without any obi*₂. Never in his life had he even been close to expensive clothes like the kimonos they were wearing here.
“There is no reason for you to get scared,” Kamenashi said calmly. “You won’t have to start working right away and I am not a customer, but as much as you are workers you are also goods, material which we have to keep as beautiful as possible to please the eye of the customer.”
As much as Taiga was actually disgusted by that type of thinking he couldn’t actually make a ruckus on his first day. Kamenashi had made it clear he couldn’t leave or he would die. They would definitely always watch him and if he kept refusing even easy tasks like this he would definitely get punished soon.
Instead of stepping forward again Taiga removed his shirt on his own and took a deep breath before he removed the rest of his clothes as well. This time he couldn’t look up at Kamenashi as the latter started circling around him with a scanning look and when the latter’s hands landed on his back he flinched.
“Seems like you are the disobedient type,” Kamenashi said as he traced the scars with a gentle touch which made Taiga arch his back.
It got more unpleasant for him when Kamenashi moved his hands lower until they touched his hips. With a hum he moved to the front again, tracing the boy’s skin until he reached his belly.
“The scars are actually not as bad for the business as you might think. A lot of the boys have similar scars from punishments or also from customers.”
Again something Taiga didn’t want to hear, but what else did he expect?
“So tell me, are you still a virgin?”
The reason why Taiga hesitated with the answer was because he knew what his answer would mean and it made him feel nauseous out of a sudden. He had heard rumors about how boys were treated when they were still untouched. They were looked at as something sacred, getting displayed to the public like an animal in a cage for the spectators to form all their dirty thoughts about them before they’d get sold. Sold to someone who was the first and only person who could own them for one night. No rules, no boundaries. It was the scariest part of being at Yoshiwara and it made him unable to voice out an answer for several minutes until Kamenashi put his pointer finger under his chin to make him look up.
“I warn you, don’t even try to lie to me. I’ll hand you to Taisuke immediately if I’ve the feeling you lie and trust me he will find out the truth in barely minutes and it won’t be pleasant.”
Silence followed on that statement again and finally Taiga dared to take another deep breath before he looked directly back at the owner.
One single word and it brought a wide smile on Kamenashi’s face before he removed his hand and stepped back.
“Great, then get dressed again. Kentaro will be in charge of you from now on. He is your senpai so treat him with respect and the same applies for the other senpais and boys.” Kamenashi opened the door as Taiga was dressed again and told a boy on the corridor which seemed to have been sitting out there the whole time waiting for instructions, to get Kentaro. The boy was about the same age as Taiga, but he wore a jinbei in dark grey so maybe he was in charge of giving information around the building and guiding customers in and out.
“But that doesn’t mean that you have no right to defend yourself if something happens,” Kamenashi added before he stepped out to the hallways, obviously about to leave. Taiga understood what that meant, after all Kentaro had told him before already to not stay alone with Taisuke and he was sure he wasn’t the only one he had to be careful of. “Better make sure to stay with Kentaro for the first days or find a few friends among the boys which you can trust. They are no monsters you know? Allow yourself to find a new place to live here instead of seeing yourself as a prisoner.”
That wasn't actually easy for someone who had been treated like one for half his life, but Kamenashi seemed to know that. He still gave the boy an encouraging look before he left.
So for Taiga a new battle had begun and he couldn't deny that he didn't feel ready at all, but even though he went through so much hardship already he was still far away from the point which would make him give up. For now he could do nothing else, but somehow get used to his new environment and hopefully find some company which would help him if he actually ended up in some mess, which he eventually would, judging by his bad luck.
“I will give you a headache if I explain all rules today, so let's just stuck to the important ones,” Kentaro started as they walked down a corridor towards the back of the house. The part Taiga had seen so far seemed for the customers, with rooms on both floors in which they would spend their time with the boys. But after Kentaro had led him through a door in the back the environment changed and the luxurious red colored wood of the doors and windows got replaced by the usual brown one.
“This is the private part of the house, no customers are allowed here. The rooms for the boys are upstairs, but before I show you your room you'll have to take a bath.”
The next door Kentaro opened showed a bath which could already be called a private onsen*₃. It had several wash places and a spacious bath which was surrounded by a natural stone wall.
“Nice, isn't it?” Kentaro asked as he let Taiga enter first and the boy could just nod. At least their private quarters didn't seem bad at all, at least if their rooms were the same as the bath.
“When you've work you have to be in the front of the house, but on your days off you can be either here or also walk around town.”
It surprised Taiga to hear that he was allowed to go outside, but Kentaro already gave him a knowing look.
“I'm sure Kamenashi warned you about what will happen if you run and trust me those who tried while they were in town never got away.”
It gave Taiga and unpleasant shiver, because even if it was a lie to scare others to not run, it actually made him refrain from trying.
“So I guess even if I leave you alone for a few minutes I can be sure to find you in here when I come back, right?”
Did the boy trust him that much already or was it a test? Whichever it was Taiga nodded and Kentaro excused himself for a while, telling Taiga to take his time and that he would come to pick him up later.
Taiga couldn't deny that he was grateful for the opportunity to get clean again, after all the people he was with before didn't even give him a proper place to sleep or enough food. Taking his time he washed the dirt of his skin, trying to be careful with the fresh scars on his back, but when he got into the bath the hot water was like the best medicine he could get for his back.
With a sigh he let his head drop on the stones behind him and he closed his eyes for a moment. He couldn't deny that he was afraid of what was awaiting him, but meeting Kentaro he had the feeling he could maybe somehow get through this. After all the boy seemed totally okay with being a part of Yoshiwara, not that he could tell what kind of life he had before and what brought him here.
Not wanting to freak himself out with the thoughts about how his life would change from now on he took a deep breath and vanished under water for a moment. When he came back to the surface he flinched when the door to the bath got opened at the exact same moment, revealing two boys which were chatting and hadn't noticed him at first.
“To be honest I'd like those kinds of customers to be handled by Taisuke instead,” one of them let out while he started undressing. He was quite tall with short hair and his kimono was blue with a few white lines, making it look like water was flowing on it.
“Or give him to Hokuto, I know he wouldn't mind,” the other one added as he turned to the shelf and opened his half red half blue kimono with a dark blue obi. “And also- oh, we got company.”
The boy had spotted Taiga the moment he turned around again and let the kimono slide from his shoulders. Taiga looked away immediately, but didn't dare to get out the bath, after all he had been told to wait.
‘A newbie,” the taller one let out in pure excitement before he tossed his clothes in the shelf and almost skipped over to the bath.
“Reo I warn you, don't you dare enter that bath without washing yourself. You just told me what that customer did with you and I don't want you in that water like that and the newbie doesn't want that either, right?”
When Taiga realized that the boy had asked him directly he just nodded.
“Look! So wash yourself!”
“Yes mum,” Reo pouted on which the other boy also went over to the wash place.
“You know that the only mum here is Kentaro. Oh by the way newbie what's your name?”
“Taiga,” he replied in a neutral voice, still a bit confused about the two boys showing up.
“I like that name, it sounds cute,” Reo replied teasingly on which the other boy threw a washing towel at him.
“You will scare him if you keep talking like that,” he scolded Reo before facing Taiga who hadn't moved from the spot at all and kept looking at the two boys while trying to find out if he was in trouble or not.
“Don't mind him, Reo can get easily excited, but he is a good guy, even though he might start touching you at night and pretend later that he was sleepwalking.”
“You're still complaining about the one time that happened?”
“Anyways,” the other one continued as he got up and entered the bath on which Taiga eyed him carefully, especially as the boy moved over to him right away and came a bit too close for Taiga’s liking, but he didn't seem of the dangerous type, even though Taiga wasn't sure how easily he could actually tell who was and who wasn't dangerous.
“So Taiga, welcome to Yoshiwara. I'm Juri.”
“And as much as I got scolded before, you know my name already,” Reo added as he also entered the bath and moved on Taiga's other side so that he felt kind of trapped between them.
It was when Juri wanted to lift one hand to his face that Taiga slightly flinched, but he was still calm enough to not push both away and dash out the bath.
“Mh, the shy type I see,” was all Juri said before he sat back a bit on which Taiga relaxed.
“Don't worry we won't bite. Did you meet anyone else already?” Reo asked almost soothing.
“The owner,” Taiga started in a low voice. “Kentaro and Taisuke.”
“Uh, you met the worst company right from the start. Stay away from Taisuke!”
Juri’s words were more direct than Kentaro’s were and it made clear that Taiga should definitely remember their advice.
“Taisuke can be nice as well and extremely convincing, but-”
“Never without a purpose,” Taiga ended Reo’s sentence and the boy formed a lopsided smile.
“A quick learner. That will help you a lot. I can always give you some advice if you are troubled though,” Reo let out while he sneaked a bit closer again.
“If you touch him Kamenashi will cut your hands off immediately,” Kentaro was suddenly heard when he entered the bath, carrying a towel and a white yukata.
“Oh an untouched one,” Reo let out in fascination, but backed off on Kentaro’s warning.
“Taiga, come here. You'll have enough time to get to know those idiots better. They are your new roommates.
“ Wuhu~ we get the newbie,” Reo let out enthusiastic before he exchanged a high five with Juri.
Taiga carefully got away between them and got out of the bath. When Kentaro handed him the towel the two boys started struggling in the bath and Reo pushed Juri’s head underwater before the latter pulled his leg away so that he also landed with his head underwater. Taiga looked at them for a brief moment before a chuckle made him turn around again.
Kentaro gave him a bright smile in reply on which Taiga’s look turned to confused. “Did I see a brief smile on your face just now?”
On Kentaro’s teasing Taiga looked away and hurried to get dry. Kentaro kept his teasing look, but handed him the white yukata without another word and made him follow him through the house towards a different room.
The room had a tatami floor and a few shelves with kimonos inside. The only other item in the room was a wooden box on the floor.
“Get out of the Yukata,” Kentaro ordered out of a sudden after he had closed the door, but somehow with Kentaro he didn’t mind. After all they all had seen his body and also his scars in the bath before and none of them had made a comment about it.
Taiga did how he was told and watched Kentaro how he opened the box, revealing an extremely expensive looking kimono. It was mostly white, but there was a golden embroidery on it. The pattern looked a bit like the golden parts were flames trying to burn the white Kimono.
“This kimono is exclusive for the untouched boys. It will make everyone look at you, but it will also protect you.”
Kentaro lifted it up and held it out to Taiga who turned around and let Kentaro help him get dressed.
“Usually you’ll get work Kimonos and Yukatas for your free time, but until your ceremony you’ll have to wear this one no matter if you are inside the house or outside.”
“Ceremony,” Taiga repeated in a low voice and when Kentaro stepped in front of him to close the Kimono with the white obi, he looked up at him with a kind of apologizing look.
“I guess you heard the rumors?”
Taiga nodded while Kentaro pulled the Kimono straight. “I’d love to tell you that you don’t have to worry, but I don’t like lying and you should be prepared for what awaits you.”
In silence Kentaro checked everything once more before he stepped back, now with a darker look on his face.
“You experienced it as well,” Taiga concluded on the boy’s behavior and to his surprise Kentaro’s look brightened up a bit again when he looked up at him.
“Yes I did. Years have passed since then, but trust me it’s an experience which will haunt you forever if you are not prepared for it.”
From the first moment he had met Kentaro he had seen a strong young boy and here he already saw a vulnerable part behind that strong front, but it wasn’t something bad. It actually made it easier for Taiga to get closer to him, because a lot of them had their haunting stories which brought them here in the first place.
“Ok come on, let me show you your room. The serious talks can still happen over the next days.”
It didn’t seem to Taiga as if he was running away from this topic, but he was right, Taiga also preferred to not get all the negative things thrown at him at the first day.
They went upstairs and Taiga realized soon that most of the rooms were no private ones.
“As long as you are a newbie you will share your room with other younger boys. Normally just the senpais have private quarters. Taisuke and the other older ones have their rooms at the other side of the corridor. My room is at the end of this one on the left.”
Knowing which parts of the upper floor were safe and which weren’t was helpful information to Taiga and he followed Kentaro to a room towards the end of the corridor where he slid one of the doors open.
“You will share your room with three other boys, you met Juri and Reo already and-”
Taiga tilted his head when Kentaro stopped speaking the moment he entered the room and when he dared to look inside the room he found another boy in it. He was sitting on the windowsill with a book on his lap, but he seemed to have fallen asleep while reading. A round pair of glasses was dangerously low on his nose, definitely about to fall if he moved now.
Kentaro walked inside the room and took the glasses carefully off on which he gained a groan, but the latter didn’t wake up. The windowsill was wide enough to not easily fall off and there were even pillows on it so it seemed quite comfortable, not to forget that they had a nice view towards the garden behind the house. The boy was wearing a dark violet yukata instead of a fancy kimono, which showered that he had definitely a day off.
Kentaro put the glasses on a table at the other side of the room before he waved at Taiga to get to the front of the room to not disturb the other one. They sat down on the tatami floor before Kentaro pointed at the other one.
“So this is your third roommate, his name is Hokuto.”
Taiga took another look over to the latter, but he was still peacefully sleeping and seeing him in one of the normal yukatas he didn’t even seem like a person which would belong to such a place.
“Don’t get fooled by his first impression!” Kentaro warned him in a low voice. “He is not dangerous don’t worry, but he has a quite cold attitude, not just towards newbies, but you’ll get used to that.”
When Kentaro stood up Taiga wanted to follow him, but the latter waved his hand. “For today you should rest. I’ll come tomorrow to pick you up and show you the front of the house and explain a few more rules.”
The other one walked over to the door, but seemed to realize Taiga’s troubled expression which made him turn to him with a brief smile.
“Relax, okay? The more you show everyone how uncomfortable you feel the more they’ll try to approach you. They know they are not allowed to make a move on you, but they like games. Don’t let them play.”
With that he left and Taiga felt completely lost for several minutes in which he didn’t move from the spot. He scanned the room carefully, but there was not much in it. The futons were stored in the cupboard at daytime and the only other furniture was a table at the end of the room. There was a mirror placed on the ground next to it. It was quite tall and slowly Taiga got up and walked with careful steps through the room to not wake the other one up. When he stood in front of the mirror he felt like he wasn’t looking at a reflection, but at a whole different person. His pale skin was almost as white as the kimono itself and he couldn’t deny that the golden pattern made the kimono look extremely special. But that would also make everyone look at him as Kentaro had explained, after all the boys as well as the customers knew the meaning of this kimono.
When Taiga looked to the ground he spotted a few books next to the table and he sat down to take one in his hand. They seemed to have quite difficult topics even though Taiga couldn’t understand them, after all no one had ever taught him how to read.
The second book he took in his hands had a few drawings in it as well and Taiga kept flipping through the pages absentminded until he thought he had felt something moving against his hair. He wanted to look over to the window, maybe a breeze was coming in from there, but when he turned his head he came eye to eye with Hokuto. The latter was sitting right behind him, his face barely centimeters away from his and Taiga squealed and leant backwards so far that he was about to end up flat on the floor, but Hokuto grabbed him by the waist and pulled him up again.
Taiga froze when the other one kept holding on to him and burned him with an intense stare. It seemed as if it took minutes until the other one moved again and he took the book out of Taiga’s hand, which he hadn’t dropped to his own surprise.
“Don’t touch my stuff, newbie.”
With that warning Hokuto finally released him and stood up, putting the book back in place before he walked over to the windowsill again as if nothing had happened. Taiga kept looking at him in pure confusion. But before he could even make sense out of what had just happened he heard loud voices in the corridor and soon Juri and Reo entered the room.
“Oh my god you got your kimono already, let me see,” Reo yelled as he dashed towards Taiga and made him stand up. “It fits you so well. Everyone will just have eyes for you tomorrow.”
“Which is not necessarily a good thing Reo, you know that,” Juri was heard as he took the futons out of the cupboard and it surprised Taiga that Hokuto got up and helped him. The other two boys didn’t seem bothered by Hokuto’s cold attitude and maybe Taiga would get used to it as well, but he would have enough time to talk more to all of the boys after all.
“Ehm, can I ask something?” Taiga let out in a low voice on which Reo smiled at him and nodded. “Kentaro said I’ve to wear this the whole time, even in private, but I hope I am allowed to get out of it at night?”
The question made Juri laugh and after he put down the last futon he walked up to him.
“After you just put it on it’s a shame to actually take it off, but yes you are allowed to take it off at night.”
“Here, this is yours,” Reo said as he threw a light yukata for the night at Taiga.
Hokuto had obviously already been in his night yukata as he walked up to the futon close to the door which made Taiga look at the remaining futons.
“You want to choose who you want to sleep next to?” Juri asked while both boys stood next to the futons. They had changed into their yukatas right after the bath already and waited patiently for Taiga to give them an answer.
Taiga needed some more time to realize that they were actually serious about letting him decide and to his own surprise it wasn’t hard for him to choose at all and he stretched out his hand, pointing at Juri.
While Juri just smiled, Reo let out a disappointed sigh and pouted before he dropped on the futon next to Hokuto.
“I told you, you’d scare him,” Juri scolded him as he sat down next to him and hit him with his pillow.
Taiga slowly moved over to the futon next to Juri and sat down, still observing the others. Hokuto had already turned away from them, while Reo and Juri were struggling over the pillow until Juri pulled too hard and when it slipped out of Reo’s hand Juri threw it to the back through the lost force on one side and it landed on Taiga’s face.
“Whups,” Juri let out while trying hard to keep from laughing, while Reo burst out laughing right away, but when the pillow landed on his face this time his expression turned to completely confused making Juri laugh as well.
Taiga had to smile himself after he had successfully aimed for the other one’s face, but his smile faded slowly and got replaced by an embarrassed expression when Juri turned to him with a bright smile.
“I already like you! You fit quite well in this room,” he said while clapping Taiga on the shoulder before he went back to scolding Reo and stopped him from actually throwing the pillow back at Taiga.
While watching them Taiga felt how he finally calmed down a bit more and he couldn’t deny that he was happy to have some boys around him which seemed good company, weird indeed, but definitely not dangerous and that was what mattered to him for now.
*₁ jinbei: traditional Japanese clothing with short pants and short-sleeved top
*₂ obi: traditional Japanese belt to close yukatas, kimonos, etc
*₃ onsen: Japanese bath with water from a natural spring
The next morning Taiga woke up in a quite uncomfortable position and when he tried to turn around he found out why. Juri’s leg was stretched out against his back and had pushed him half off the futon. Carefully he moved away from the latter and sat up, realizing that Hokuto’s futon was already in the cupboard while Reo and Juri were still sleeping.
Before Taiga could decide if he wanted to go back to sleep or not the door got carefully slid open and Kentaro came inside.
This time he was wearing a different kimono and Taiga couldn’t from thinking how good it looked on him even though the pattern showed pink flowers which was clearly unusual even for such an environment.
“I see you tried to go with the safe choice for the night and ended up being kicked out of bed, am I right?” Kentaro asked with a chuckle.
“Is he usually doing that?” Taiga asked in a low voice to not wake the others up.
“Sometimes he kicks, but you could also wake up as his personal teddy bear, don’t worry he is really doing those things without any intention.”
Juri was clearly the one Taiga worried about the least at the moment anyway.
“Those two have off today, so come on let me help you dress and then we go to the front of the house.”
“Does Hokuto have work today?” Taiga asked on which Kentaro nodded before he helped Taiga in his Kimono. It wasn’t like he couldn’t close it himself, but somehow it felt nice to have someone around who guided him for the first days.
“I bet you think we just have work in the evening, but actually our business starts early in the morning and all houses close at nine in the evening. The police control the area quite strictly.”
It made perfect sense now that Kentaro explained it, but as so many others, Taiga had thought they were an exclusive night business.
“Okay, let’s go.”
Taiga followed him back to the front of the house and to his surprise it was already loud inside, a few customers already leaving again. It didn’t take them more than a few steps along the corridor for people to turn to them and when Taiga realized that they were all staring at him he felt more and more uncomfortable.
“Don’t let them scare you. They know that Kimono and that makes you so interesting. Even if they talk to you or stop you in the corridor just be friendly, okay? They know that they are not allowed to touch you, but there are potential people for the ceremony here as well, so better make a good first impression then you might get a good buyer.”
“A buyer,” Taiga repeated in a low voice, his own words giving him shivers. He was used to getting treated like a slave, but getting looked at as some kind of price, an object, barely more than something they want to possess for a night was something completely different.
They wanted to pass around another corner when there was suddenly shouting heard behind them. When Taiga looked back he saw the boy from yesterday. He was at the entrance and the customers which had just entered were obviously causing uproar and while he kept bowing to them and apologized they just pushed him around the whole time, which actually made Taiga extremely angry, but before he could make s step forward Kentaro had passed him.
“Wait here, I’ll be back in a moment.”
Taiga kept looking at them while Kentaro stepped in front of the other boy and spoke with the customers and out of a sudden Taiga felt like there was a complete different person standing over there. His calm and friendly attitude had changed into something wilder, even a small movement of his arm as he touched one of the customers’ shoulders seemed way too voluptuous to be even allowed outside a private room. There was so much confidence in his look that Taiga felt impressed how easily he calmed the situation down. While he kept talking to the customers he pushed the other boy slightly behind him, making sure that he wouldn’t become their target again. When he waved his hand and obviously wanted to guide them into the house, Taiga’s look darkened on the men’s attitude, because not just the looks they gave Kentaro were already more than disrespectful, but also the way one of them had walked up to him and suddenly started touching him while they walked down the corridor.
“As soon as people walk in here they forget all their manners, after all they think we are not more than an object they can use and throw away after that.”
Taiga turned towards the stairs next to the corner they wanted to pass and spotted Taisuke. The man’s kimono looked as if it didn’t get treated carefully, because even though Taisuke had closed it completely this time the material was slightly ripped at some parts which showed that his last customer was definitely not of the careful type, not that Taisuke seemed to mind.
When Taisuke reached the last step of the stairs Taiga wanted to make way, but suddenly Taisuke stepped in his way and trapped him in the corner.
“So you were an untouched one, what a surprise. With your attitude I thought someone would have already gotten the chance to do you.”
While Taiga was normally the restrained type and got silent and shy when people came too close it was different with Taisuke and he gave the older one a judging look.
“What? Shall I apologize that I see a really good slut in you?”
“Maybe you should just stay away from me in the first place?” Taiga shot back on which the latter put his arm to the wall right next to the other one’s head and leant closer.
“You know this kimono might make you feel invincible for now, but remember that there will be the time when you are becoming fair game to all of us.”
That actually made Taiga gulp nervously, but even knowing that, he wouldn’t just let his senpai treat him this low, after all he was just longer in this business nothing more, it didn’t give him the right to treat the younger boys the way the customers were treating them all.
It obviously took Taisuke by surprise when Taiga also leant forward and put one hand on his chest while tilting his head.
“But that time still hasn’t come, so I fear you’ve to step out of my way now, senpai.”
Taiga pronounced the end of the sentence extra mockingly on which Taisuke’s look darkened to a dangerous degree, especially when Taiga dared to push him back and wanted to move away from him.
For a brief moment Taiga felt kind of proud that he hadn’t let himself get cornered, but that feeling lasted just for a second, because he hadn’t thought of the possibility that Taisuke could easily snap. With the next move Taisuke swirled around and grabbed Taiga by the arm, pulling him back. When Taiga turned around with wide eyes the latter had already raised his arm, ready to slap him. Taiga closed his eyes, but when the impact wasn’t coming he dared to open them again.
Hokuto had appeared around the corner and was holding on to Taisuke’s wrist.
“Hands off,” Taisuke growled at him, but Hokuto didn’t seem the slightest scared.
“That’s my line. You touch him and I’ll make sure Kamenashi will cut your hands off.”
A clear warning and it was obvious that Taisuke wasn’t the slightest amused by the fact that one of the younger boys was actually giving him orders. Luckily Taisuke let go of Taiga the next moment on which Hokuto also released Taisuke’s arm.
Taiga was sure that Taisuke would at least threaten Hokuto, because he had dared to talk impolitely to him, but all that happened was a death glare exchange between them before Taisuke vanished around the next corner.
“If you feel like testing your luck and challenge senpais then you’ve to be strong enough to do so until the end. Now he knows that he can scare you after all, so be careful.”
Taiga could just nod while he automatically scanned Hokuto’s clothes. He looked completely different from the evening before. His kimono was black with some white lines which almost looked like lightning, closed by a silver obi.
“Hey, what’s going on,” Kentaro interrupted them as he walked up to them, followed by the boy from before.
“Our untouched one tries already to test his limits,” Hokuto replied before he walked up the stairs without another explanation.
“What does that mean?” Kentaro asked with a raised eyebrow on which Taiga gave him a kind of guilty look.
“Guys, I am sorry to interrupt, but you are kind of in the way,” the boy was heard behind them when other customers were entering and obviously moving towards their direction.
“Right, sorry. By the way Taiga, this is Yugo he is in charge of this house.”
“Not the best way to say it. I am not like the owner, I am more like someone who keeps an eye on everyone and everything, so if anything is up don’t hesitate to ask me,” Yugo said while facing Taiga with a bright smile on which he bowed lightly towards him with a thankful expression.
“Ok, so you can talk later, let’s not get in Yugo’s way for now, because trust me he can get seriously scary.”
Something Taiga couldn’t really imagine, especially because the boy pouted on that before he moved back to the entrance to welcome the next customers.
Kentaro guided Taiga into one of the free rooms and told him to sit down next to the door while Kentaro stopped in the middle of the room.
“So let’s start with the easy stuff. I know you won’t need all those information until your ceremony is over, but let’s say maybe a few of the routine rules might even be helpful to you before you will get your normal customers.”
It always had to end at that topic, but what else was there to talk about anyway? If it was about work in this place it was either about his ceremony or the customers he will have after that. “Hey, don’t space out.”
When Taiga looked up at Kentaro again he blinked a few times in confusion, because somehow the boy had suddenly switched into the same attitude he was showing at the entrance with the customers before.
“All the rooms are the same as this one. Even if the customers pay more the room won’t change, what will change is the service.” Taiga’s eyes were glued on Kentaro while he kept explaining and moved back to the door, stopping next to Taiga. “When you guide a customer to a room make sure that you let him inside first if you are not inside already. In that case Yugo will let him in. After he entered you sit down next to the door and close it.”
Kentaro opened the door for a brief moment just to show Taiga how to close the door and Taiga couldn’t even explain how a normal movement like that made him feel way too warm out of a sudden.
“Depending on the customer you have to make the first move or maybe he will also order you around. You will learn about the customers liking the more you work, but to be honest you should try to please them so they will come back, after all this is how the business here works and with the same customers you won’t get so many new ones and you never know when you’ll get one which might be hard to handle.”
When Kentaro stood up and stretched his arm out, Taiga took it right away and let himself get dragged up. With a graceful movement Kentaro made him turn in front of him so that he was facing the futon on the ground with his back.
“Always observe your customer. Why did he choose you and not another boy?”
Kentaro moved one hand towards Taiga’s chest and the boy followed the movement with his eyes until Kentaro’s hand moved up to his chin and made him look up. “Don’t look away when you’ve the feeling he likes keeping eye contact. Or she, because we get customers of both genders and you've to learn how to please both.”
Taiga wanted to nod, but before he could do so Kentaro had suddenly pushed him backwards and he stumbled, landing on the futon.
“If it seems like he wants you to take the lead, do it. He likes it rough? You’ve to be able to switch between gentle and rough in seconds.”
“Something you seem to have mastered already,” Taiga replied as Kentaro suddenly sat down on top of him with a teasing look before he moved one hand carefully over Taiga’s cheek on which the boy closed his eyes. When he realized that Kentaro had leant down even more and was now with his face right in front of his he got way more excited than he wanted to admit.
“Normally explaining the rules doesn’t take much time, but let’s say with newbies like you, which have no experience it’s always easier to show some things.”
The way Taiga felt the boy’s breathe on his face with every word he flung his eyes open again, as if he would miss something if he didn’t look. But then Kentaro’s finger landed on his mouth with a kind of warning look, even though it still had something playful.
“Don’t get too excited. I am in no position to take care of you. Don’t make me break the rules, because it would be the first and last time I do.”
Clearly Taiga didn’t want to bring Kentaro into trouble, but the boy was at fault as well, after all he had decided himself to show some things instead of just explaining them.
When the boy got off Taiga again it seemed like Kentaro tried to switch back into his usual self. It wasn’t like Taiga knew much about him, but something told him that he had actually just lost control over his own actions. Maybe teaching Taiga the rules was more fun for him than he would actually admit and as much as Taiga was still not ready for any customers he suddenly felt like he wanted to find out more about Kentaro’s behavior change as soon as his ceremony was over.
“Don’t worry it’s normal that you will think about it a lot until the ceremony is over,” Kentaro let out, which made Taiga realize that he had obviously spaced out for a moment, his look darkening as he had thought about the ceremony again.
Taiga was about to ask something when there was a knock on the door and he bit his lip. It wasn’t actually the best moment to ask Kentaro about his experiences with the ceremony and it was also a quite impolite thing to ask, so for now he tried to pretend as if it wouldn’t freak him out with every passing hour. After all no one had even told him when it would be.
“What is it?” Kentaro asked and walked over to the door, sliding it open. Yugo was standing in the hallway with a kind of apologizing look.
“Sorry, I know you’re busy today, but one of your regular customers asked me to at least call you even if you don’t have time for him today.”
That actually brought a weird smile on Kentaro’s face and he looked at Taiga in excitement which gave Taiga a shiver.
“You know what, bring him here,” Kentaro said on which Yugo slightly bowed and left again. Kentaro left the door open and walked up to Taiga who was still sitting on the futon with a confused expression.
“Explaining things is complicated with people like you and because I also can’t show you the way I’d like to, let’s try another way.”
Before Taiga could make sense out of what he said Kochi was back and let someone enter the room before he closed the door.
“Oh we got company today? And an untouched one? You are always full of surprises and here I thought I would have to leave today,” the person let out while Kentaro turned towards him and approached him, moving one arm directly around the other one’s hips as he reached him.
“You had a really good timing today, I actually need your help.”
The other one seemed quite excited about hearing that and he moved one hand up to Kentaro’s face, suddenly pulling him into a greedy kiss on which Taiga looked to the ground right away, feeling more than uncomfortable out of a sudden.
“So what do you have in mind?” The customer asked while he gave Kentaro a bit space again.
“Taiga ,come here,” Kentaro let out on which Taiga almost flinched and he slowly stood up and walked up to them with slow steps, his look still directed to the ground. When he stood next to Kentaro he suddenly received a hit on the back of the head on which he let out a hiss and looked up at the other one with wide eyes.
“What did I tell you about the customers? How dare you not look up at him and greet him?”
It was actually the customer who started laughing on that and Taiga finally dared to look at him directly and he seemed around the same age as him. His clothes were also quite casual, a usual grey yukata and he couldn’t deny that his smile calmed him down a bit.
Taiga hurried to bow towards him before Kentaro could scold him again. On that move he got an approving hum from the customer who looked towards Kentaro next.
“We should make sure that he joins us from time to time when his ceremony is over. I like him.”
“Oh, do I hear any intention there of buying him?”
“Sorry, but the only one I would have ever spent that money on is you and unfortunately I didn’t know you at that time.”
Taiga wasn’t sure if he started relaxing because the attention wasn’t on him or because the situation suddenly got quite cheesy.
Kentaro gave the latter a teasing smile on that before he put his hand on his shoulder and turned back to Taiga.
“So, this is Fuma. He is one of my regular customers,” Kentaro introduced the other one who flashed another brief smile at Taiga. “He will help me explaining some things from now on.”
“Oh, I do?” Fuma asked teasingly on which Kentaro rolled his eyes, before he pushed him more into the room and told Taiga to sit next to the door.
“As I know you, you will totally enjoy this,” Kentaro whispered as he stepped so close to the other one that their lips almost touched again.
“I already do,” Fuma let out before he moved his hands to Kentaro’s hips and made him move closer so that he could put one leg against his crotch on which Kentaro gave him a challenging smile.
Kentaro was about to say something to Taiga when Fuma interrupted him and pushed him down on the futon. Kentaro didn’t actually seem to mind, but he still stopped Fuma when the boy was about to open Kentaro’s kimono.
“Give me a second, okay?” Kentaro asked of the other one and even though Fuma let out a kind of annoyed growl on that he let Kentaro sit up, which didn’t actually stop him from slowly undressing himself and landing his hands soon on Kentaro’s obi.
“Taiga, don’t look away!”
The scolding reached the boy exactly at the moment he wanted to look to the ground and he forced himself to look at Kentaro.
“There will be plenty of times where you won’t be alone with a customer. You might have two customers at once or take care of one customer with another boy, so take this as you first lesson even though for now I can’t allow you to do anything else but watch.”
“Then let him watch, while we do the work,” Fuma interrupted impatiently and turned to look at Taiga while he let his kimono slide from his shoulders. “I bet he will like what we are about to show him.”
“Oh, guess I got you on a really good day. But don’t scare him, okay?” Kentaro warned the other one on which Fuma turned his attention back to him and moved his hands to the opening of his kimono after he had gotten rid of the obi.
“Then let me make him desperate just by watching,” he let out challenging before he slowly opened Kentaro’s kimono and pushed him down on the futon. He let his tongue travel down to the boy’s belly while he revealed more and more skin. His hands kept traveling lower to his thigh as he pushed the fabric completely out of his way and Kentaro hurried to get his arms out of the sleeves to be able to move better.
Even if Kentaro hadn’t warned him that he shouldn’t look away he felt like he wouldn’t even be able to. It was like a weird kind of shock he was in, after all the last thing he had thought could happen was Kentaro coming up with the idea of making him watch while he had sex with a customer.
But as weird as it seemed to him he couldn’t deny that he got way too aroused by the way those two seemed to melt under each other’s touch and out of a sudden his view of the customers changed. He knew that not all customers were the same and there were definitely a lot which would bring him unpleasant experiences, but as Kentaro had said before with the right regular customers he could keep new, potential dangerous customers away from him.
A low moan distracted him from his thoughts and even though he hadn’t looked away he felt like he had missed a lot, because Fuma had already turned Kentaro into a moaning mess after barely minutes and was now pushing in on which Kentaro arched his back so much that Taiga wondered how flexible the boy actually was.
What actually surprised Taiga was when Kentaro suddenly slapped Fuma without any kind of warning. It was just a careful slap, but it still made Taiga look at Fuma in slight worry, but the latter just let out a chuckle on that.
“When I said not to scare him I didn’t mean you are allowed to tease me the whole time you know?” Kentaro scolded the other one on which he suddenly received a way too lustful kiss which made Taiga feel like he was blushing.
“Sorry?” Fuma let out as he backed off.
As a reply Kentaro closed his legs around Fuma’s back and rocked his hips up on which the other one gave him a lopsided smile. “Don’t tell me, show me.”
“So greedy today, aren’t you?” Fuma teased him again before he made him bend one knee towards the side to get a better angle. “Watch him closely boy, trust me you don’t want to miss his sweet moans.”
Taiga just kept staring on that, because talking was something he wasn’t capable of for minutes already and Fuma hadn’t promised too much. The moment he thrusted in deeper and closed his hand around the boy’s erection, Kentaro’s moans got more desperate and he didn’t even try to hold them back, which was obviously because Fuma enjoyed hearing them and pleasing the customer was what they were here for after all.
Suddenly Taiga felt how his own body was reacting way too much to what he was watching and he tried desperately to calm down, but even shifting positions wouldn’t help him anymore as he tried to somehow hide his hardening member.
A few moments later Kentaro came with a deep moan on which Fuma leant more to the front and started sucking on the boy’s neck while Kentaro flung his arms around him, allowing him to thrust in a bit rougher and soon Fuma reached his climax as well, while he tried to hide his moan against the boy’s soft skin.
“You know I feel like we just lied to the boy,” Fuma let out as he sat up.
“Why? Because we are not always that harmless? It was to show him a regular customer, not your weird fantasies, you know?”
“I’d say he has his own phantasies at the moment.”
Fuma’s reply actually made Taiga finally spend attention again, once more he had spaced out without noticing, until both were suddenly looking at him with a teasing smile on which Taiga leant more to the front and put his arms down on his knees to cover the part they were looking at.
“No worries boy, this is the last place you have to feel embarrassed about getting excited,” Fuma said soothing as he got back into his kimono and Kentaro was up to help him right away, even though he still hadn’t put his own clothes back on.
“I make sure you’ll have the chance to take care of him when he is allowed to have regular customers.” Kentaro promised as he pushed Fuma gentle towards the door.
“You want to get rid of me?” Fuma teased him on which Kentaro sneaked closer to him and placed a short kiss on the other one’s lips.
“Not in this life. You would need to mess up pretty much to make me not want to have you back the next time you visit.”
“Good to hear that,” Fuma replied before he looked at Taiga once more, but the boy was kind of stressed out of a sudden, after all he was still a bit over challenged with everything what had just happened.
“I bring you outside, wait,” Kentaro said as he opened the door for Fuma, but hurried back to get his kimono. He stopped next to Taiga for a brief moment and leant down to him so that he could whisper into his ear.
“Just because we are not allowed to touch you doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to do so yourself.”
With that he vanished outside the room together with Fuma and closed the door. Taiga let out a long breath after he allowed his body to relax again. And as much as he felt embarrassed, there was no way he could stop his own body from moving as his hands automatically started pulling the lower part of his kimono away until he could finally touch himself.
He closed his eyes, the pictures and sounds of what he had just witnessed showing up in his mind and making him speed up the already desperate movements of his hand. It should actually make him feel even more embarrassed how fast he was able to jerk off, but at this point he didn’t even care anymore and the fact that Kentaro had done him the favor of leaving him alone for a while was also taking the shame away. And as Fuma had said, shame or embarrassment weren’t actually suitable for this place, which didn’t mean that Taiga could easily get rid of them.
“In three days?” Juri repeated after Taiga who was sitting on his futon like a statue for minutes already.
The rest of the last day had been quite calm, Kentaro explaining some general rules about when he was allowed to go out, how is days off were decided and so on. But in the evening Kamenashi had suddenly called him and announced that his ceremony would be held in three days.
“Guess that hit him quite hard,” Reo said as he waved his hand in front of Taiga’s face, but got shoved away from Juri the next moment.
“It’s not the time to tease him.”
Juri sat down next to Taiga and hit him lightly against the shoulder to get his attention, while Reo sat down next to them.
“Don’t freak out, okay? I know we can’t really help you with anything as we haven’t experienced it ourselves, but we are here for you, okay?”
“How was your first time?”
The direct question made both boys look at Taiga, but his look hadn’t changed at all. He seemed even paler than usual, the shock about having his ceremony so soon still too much to take.
“Ehm, you sure you want to hear about that? Not that I mind telling, but I am not sure if it’s the right topic?” Reo let out worried, but Taiga just looked up at him and waited for him to reply. He knew that it wouldn’t calm him down and that wasn’t what he was aiming for. He just wanted to know what could await him and not just the boys who had a ceremony could actually tell him about their first time.
“Fine,” Reo said as he realized that Taiga wouldn’t easily get distracted from the topic. “My first time didn’t happen willingly. When I was still a kid I lost my mum and I didn’t know my dad at all. I ended up as an orphan on the streets and well bad things happen out there you know.”
Reo kept telling his story as if it wasn’t haunting him at all and when Taiga looked at him with wide eyes the boy even cracked a small smile.
“I told you this might not be what you want to hear now,” Reo scolded him. “So anyway, when they were done they left some money and even though they did it to mock me it made me realize that if people actually paid for getting my body I could sell it officially. That thought made me end up here and spared me a death on the street.”
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to make you speak about such a painful memory.”
“It’s alright. I wouldn’t have told you if I didn’t want to,” Reo replied with a smile. “It’s a story of the past and I can’t deny that I’ve got used to this job.”
“Gotten used to it?” Juri asked with a raised eyebrow. “That’s the understatement of the year. You love this job.”
“Maybe?” Reo said innocently while he shifted from a sitting position on his stomach and rested his chin on his palm. “Anyway, Juri your turn.”
“Eh, what? Just because you told yours I don’t have to do it.”
“Shall I tell it instead, if you’ve forgotten I know,” Reo teased him on which Juri pouted.
“If you don’t want to tell, it is fine,” Taiga was heard on which Reo gave him a scolding look. “Hey, so I had to tell, but Juri doesn’t? You already picked favorites or what?”
It wasn’t actually intentionally, but somehow Reo was right. While Taiga couldn’t deny that he felt safe with Kentaro and found him interesting at the same time, Juri was different. It was like being with an old friend and that already on the second day and somehow he didn’t want to make him feel uncomfortable.
“By the way it’s a kind of fun story, so I’d say he should tell!”
“It’s not funny!” Juri complained, but Reo’s smile just grew wider and Juri grabbed his pillow, but Reo rolled away hiding behind Taiga before he could throw it.
“Coward, come here,” Juri shouted and tried to get a grip on Reo who used Taiga as a shield. End of the story was that Juri stumbled to the front and landed on top of Taiga. The boy complained right away, but the reason for that was Reo’s knee under his back which made everything quite uncomfortable.
“If you want to have a threesome wait until he is fair game and please take one of the rooms in the front of the house,” Hokuto said as he entered the room. There was no hint of a smile on his face and he moved directly to his futon. His workday had been long and his hair was still wet from taking a bath.
The other three exchanged a brief look before they somehow managed to untangle and they moved to their own futons to make sure that Hokuto would get his deserved sleep.
“You’ve work tomorrow?” Taiga whispered and Reo nodded while Juri shook his head.
“You get two days off in a row?” Taiga asked on which Juri formed a weird smile which made Taiga tilt his head.
“Normally no, but let’s say I’ve a special task tomorrow.”
Reo’s giggle was heard on that before he hid under his blanket to not get hit by Juri, but the boy was still looking at Taiga.
“You should sleep. You have to get up early tomorrow as well.”
“I do?” Taiga asked in confusion, but the boy didn’t give him any more explanations and urgent him once more to sleep.
“Wait, what do you mean with we are going out?” Taiga asked almost panicked the next morning when Juri told him to get ready.
Hokuto had already left the room before them and Reo was also getting ready for work, his kimono a light blue one with a yellow bird pattern, which looked almost childish, but it somehow fit Reo. Taiga actually wondered if they chose their kimonos depending on the customers, but even if they knew that some regular customers may come they couldn’t know about others, so maybe it was really just a question of their daily mood, which would mean that Hokuto was better not getting any customers which pissed him off, because his kimono was completely black, just a small silver pattern on the lower part, seeming like fluid metal dripping from the sky.
“Sorry, but this is nothing you can decide.” Juri explained while he got in a normal yukata. It was light green and looked way too casual next to Taiga’s white and gold kimono. “Kentaro has work today and Kamenashi told me to take care of your ceremony preparations.”
“What preparations? Can’t we do them inside here? I seriously don’t want to go on the street with this kimono.”
“Dude, you will have the attention of everyone in the area, enjoy it,” Reo said before he winked at him and left for the front of the house.
“Told you he likes his job,” Juri let out with a chuckle before he pushed Taiga to the door.
“I’d like to tell you to ignore those who stare at you, but his kimono is made for that purpose! One of the reasons we go out is to make people see you. We will have other announcements as well and through the customers who saw you yesterday already, the word must have spread a bit as well. But just try to act natural outside, okay? Don’t freak when they come too close or want to talk to you, it might happen.”
“As long as they don’t touch me,” Taiga growled while he finally walked down the corridor on his own so that Juri could stop pushing him.
“No, trust me, they won’t do that. They like keeping their hands,” Juri said teasingly, but this time it couldn’t bring a smile on Taiga’s face. He was more than nervous about going outside like this and especially at daytime.
“Hey, calm down,” Juri let out soothing and suddenly reached out for the boy’s hand on which Taiga slightly flinched, but didn’t pull away. He hadn’t even realized that his hands were shaking now that they were about to exit the house, but Juri had obviously noticed. Taiga looked up at him and the boy gave him an encouraging look. “Just look at me instead of spending your surroundings too much attention.”
Taiga actually forgot completely about his surroundings for the first steps, because he kept staring at Juri’s hand which was still holding on to his and dragged him along the road. Just when he heard the first whispers he looked around and as he had expected there were already a lot of people in their district and he found people pointing at him, scanning and also dangerous looks surrounding him from all directions. He lowered his eyes on their hands again and sped up a bit, so that he was walking next to Juri instead. Juri seemed to have noticed his discomfort and squeezed his hand on which Taiga walked even closer to him.
“Get used to their looks. They will be even closer to you at the ceremony.”
“What exactly do I have to do at the ceremony?”
“It’s not that complicated, but the first thing you have to master is to calm down. If you show them that you are scared you’ll attract even worse buyers.”
That was what Taiga had already thought, but what else was he supposed to do? He couldn’t change his whole attitude in just three days.
“So, they will all take a look at me and then what?”
When Juri suddenly chuckled next to him Taiga looked at him in confusion, but Juri just formed a faint smile and kept walking.
“Okay, maybe I should explain it a bit more in detail. Even if I said it’s not that complicated it’s not that easy either. They’ll come to our house to take a look at you, yes, but you will be the one showing yourself to them and that in the best way possible, because you want a good buyer after all.”
“So what, I’ve to walk up and down in front of them?”
“More or less. We are not like Geishas*₄ and also different from the female Oirans*₅, we don’t sell any skills so the only thing you’ve to show them is how attractive you are.”
“Right, because I have such an awesome charisma as Kentaro,” Taiga let out mockingly.
“You don’t have to copy someone, but you shouldn’t walk up to them with the attitude you have at the moment, because even though one of them will possess you for one night that person doesn’t necessarily want a scared little boy, but someone who can entertain him.”
“What if no one wants to buy me?”
Taiga could feel how some weird hope was rising inside of him, but it died away when Juri shook his head.
“Trust me there will never be no buyers, but just right and wrong ones.”
“And I am on the best way to be a possessing of exactly the wrong type,” Taiga let out in a low voice on which Juri squeezed his hand again.
“Don’t worry, we still have three more days to prepare you. So for the theory part, you just have to move alongside the inner part of the windowsill of our house. They will be outside, so even though you will feel like an animal in a cage, you should think about it the other way around. They can’t harm you! Show them what they want to see, if you dare you can get closer to the bars, let your hand slip through them. They won’t bite it off you know? They are still not allowed to touch you at that time, but you can touch them.”
The way Juri explained things it suddenly didn’t feel that scary to Taiga anymore. At least not until the main part. He had the control over the ceremony so he could play with them first before he would have to be the one to play by someone else’s rules.
“How far am I allowed to go?”
Taiga’s sudden question made Juri stop and turn to the other one with a confused look which soon changed into a knowing smile before he kept walking.
“There are no actual rules. It’s something intuitively. You can move and bend your body? Use it. You can arouse people with just one look, even better. Make them fall for you one by one. The more they like you, the more they’ll pay.”
“Will I have to do the ceremony in this kimono?”
Instead of an answer Juri just gave him a lopsided smile and started walking faster out of a sudden, before he stopped abruptly and turned Taiga around to a shop in front of them.
“No, you won’t. And that is why we are here today. Our first stop!”
“A kimono shop?”
“Exactly. This place is where we get all our kimonos from and you will need a special one.”
“Oh, so there is an even more special one than this one?”
“Actually, you are allowed to choose it yourself, but it’s a special type you’ve to wear. Let the shop owner explain more, come on,” Juri guided Taiga inside and the building looked even bigger from the inside than from the outside. There were no separated rooms. The whole building was like a huge storage full of kimonos. A few were on shelves, other spread on a wooden holder to show the beautiful pattern. Never had Taiga thought he could walk inside a shop like this without getting kicked out right away, because people thought he might steal something.
“Tegoshi, are you there?” Juri shouted inside the building and at first nothing was heard until Taiga heard someone coming down the stairs from the second floor. The person coming into his sight though made him stare in disbelieve. He couldn’t even describe how confused he was about the other one’s appearance. All his features showed that he was Japanese indeed, but his hair was almost white and that definitely not because of his age, after all he seemed not older than around thirty. His clothes were also something he had never seen before. The material was definitely from a kimono or more like from several ones, but instead of the normal layer it was made of a pair of tight pants which ended in black boots. The top was closed by an obi as usual, but both sides had several colors, like Tegoshi had randomly cut apart kimonos and sewed them new together. When he came closer he could also see that the man had blue eyes which was fascinating and yet scary.
“I heard you’d bring me an untouched boy today, but I didn’t expect someone that delicate,” Tegoshi let out as he walked more into the room and Taiga held his breath as the older one stopped briefly next to Juri and moved his fingers playfully through the latter’s hair before he pulled back and kept moving. Juri didn’t seem to mind, maybe it was something like his usual greeting, but when Tegoshi turned towards him, Taiga felt like he had turned to stone. The older one’s eyes were scanning him so intensely that he would normally look away, but he couldn’t. Tegoshi was indeed weird, but also fascinating and it seemed like the other one could read Taiga’s thoughts, because he stopped in front of him and moved one hand to his cheek, brushing his thumb carefully under his eye.
“You like what you see?”
The question made Taiga hawk and look to the ground in embarrassment on which he earned a quiet chuckle.
“Don’t worry, I also like what I see.”
Taiga couldn’t even explain why he was suddenly looking back up at the other one even though he came even closer, letting both hands explore the features of Taiga’s face.
“Tegoshi,” Juri let out kind of warningly on which the latter cracked a smile and backed off.
“My apologies,” Tegoshi let out playfully before he turned around and waved his hand at both of them. “Follow me boys.”
Juri snapped his fingers in front of Taiga’s face when he kept looking after Tegoshi instead of following him.
“I’d scold you for getting distracted so easily, but to be honest even though Tegoshi is known for being touchy with everyone he seems to be extremely interested in you, so maybe you should just keep getting distracted by him or more like let him get distracted by you and enjoy it, maybe he wants more through that.”
At first Taiga didn’t understand what Juri meant until he looked up at Tegoshi again and the latter was already on the stairs, but his look was on Taiga once more. Such a scanning and interested look that Taiga finally understood. If Juri wanted him to draw Tegoshi’s attention then he was definitely not a bad guy and obviously a potential buyer.
When they reached the second floor Taiga's look fell on the kimonos in the middle of the room. There were just a few, but they were all carefully unfolded on a holder.
“Aren't these women kimonos?” Taiga asked in confusion when he realized that they were so long that they would actually get dragged over the floor in the back while wearing them.
“It's the same type yes, but the cut is made for boys,” Tegoshi explained and waved his hand, allowing Taiga to take a closer look at them. “You can choose between all of them. I'll correct the size, so don't worry if it doesn’t seem to fit for now.”
When Juri had said a special kind of kimono he hadn't exaggerated. The material looked extremely expensive, but to his surprise each kimono had just one layer. Which was actually understandable after thinking about it, after all they wanted to see a lot of him and that meant the more skin the better and undressing him would be easier as well. A shiver ran through Taiga's body as his thoughts drifted off again.
“How about this one?” Juri asked and Taiga walked up to him, his eyes scanning the white/pink kimono with a white obi in front of him.
“You think pink would fit me?”
Tegoshi seemed to approve as well and he took the kimono and guided Taiga to the back of the room on a tatami floor behind a small wooden wall. Juri joined them and leant next to the big mirror while Taiga got out of his white kimono and he could see Tegoshi’s scanning look through the mirror.
The man didn't feel caught at all when he stared back at Taiga through the mirror and unfolded the kimono for him.
“Is this support to sit this way?” Taiga asked when Tegoshi stepped back with an approving look and Juri let out a whistle.
“Yes it does and trust me you look gorgeous in it! Pink seems to be not just Kentaro’s color.”
Different to Tegoshi, Juri looked away quite embarrassed on his own words when Taiga gave him a scolding look.
The neck part of the kimono was wide open and showed his skin up to his shoulders, while the lower part under the obi was also weirdly open and Taiga knew of course why it was cut like this, but it made him automatically try to close it more.
“Don't, it fits perfectly,” Tegoshi said as he stepped closer and took Taiga's hand away from the kimono. Taiga gave Juri a worried look, but the boy gave him a lopsided smile and pointed towards Tegoshi.
Taiga got the message, but that didn't mean he could easily get past his nervousness. But he succeeded in tightening his own grip on Tegoshi’s hand without his hands shaking too much.
“So you like pink as well? Or do you just like it on me?”
There was a quiet laughter from Juri heard on that, but Tegoshi's eyes were fixed on Taiga.
“I like pink, but I've the feeling I'd like every color on you.”
“Then maybe I should try some others as well?” Suddenly Taiga felt how he was enjoying making Tegoshi look at him this intensely. It was like a game and the one who lost control first would lose.
“Then I'd say you've to move,” Juri interrupted them as both remained quiet for a while.
“Are other customers coming up to this floor?” Taiga asked on which Tegoshi shook his head.
“Perfect, then we can speed this up a bit,” Taiga let out playfully before he let the kimono drop right in front of Tegoshi and went completely naked back into the room. He didn't even need to turn around to know that Tegoshi and definitely also Juri were staring after him in disbelieve.
After looking at a few less colorful kimonos Taiga stopped abruptly in front of one which was spread on a holder on a small platform at the back of the room.
It was almost completely black, but it wasn't the usual color as Hokuto was wearing it, the material was shining and it made Taiga move closer to touch it.
“It's made out of silk,” Tegoshi said as he slowly walked up to Taiga, obviously trying hard to look at the kimono and not Taiga. Juri followed him in silence, but he was unable to keep a poker face and a teasing, almost proud smile spread over his face.
“It looks extremely expensive.”
“It is,” Tegoshi confirmed as he moved on the platform and took it of the holder. “It's actually the most expensive kimono I ever made.”
“So, am I worth trying it on?”
Taiga’s question was answered right away when Tegoshi walked up to him and threw the fabric over his shoulders.
Taiga shivered on the cold touch of the silk, but he couldn't deny that he liked it.
“The most important part is the golden pattern,” Tegoshi said as he kneeled in front of Taiga and traced the golden lines which moved from the lowest part of the kimono up to where the slit closed right under the obi.
“It actually looks like hands,” Taiga said as he tilted his head and took a closer look.
“A good observer,” Tegoshi said with a smile while one hand traced the pattern even more to the top of the slit. “It's like a guideline, you know? Showing them the way to what they desire the most.”
When Tegoshi dared to move his fingers over the fabric towards Taiga's crotch the boy slightly tensed, but a warning hawk from Juri made Tegoshi back off.
“But as expected every color suits you,” Tegoshi said as if nothing had happened.
“So which one do you like more?” Taiga asked as he was the one moving closer to Tegoshi this time. The fabric of them kimono getting dragged over the floor through his slow steps and Tegoshi made a step back when Taiga came so close that he could feel his breath on his face.
“It's about which one you like,” Tegoshi replied, this time a bit more in control of his own actions as he moved back even more and put his hands on his back. “Please feel free to choose whichever you seem the most fitting for your ceremony. It depends on what you've planned. What side you want to show the buyers.”
“Juri, isn't this one too expensive?” Taiga addressed the boy, but he shook his head. “For the ceremony no kimono is too expensive. You are free to choose whichever you like. “
Taiga kept thinking for a while longer. The question was if he could actually pull something similar off at the ceremony as he just did with Tegoshi. There would be a lot people he didn't know and he could already tell that some would actually feel almost provoked, if he played with them. On the other hand he felt like this was the only chance for him to not look like a scared boy to them and he had already pulled off the same attitude with Taisuke.
Thinking of it as a challenge he finally faced Tegoshi again, a confident smile on his lips.
“Then it will be this one, but I'd like you to make me an accessory for it.”
That request brought an excited look on the older one's face and he bowed slightly towards Taiga.
“It will be my pleasure to dress you for the ceremony!”
*₄ geisha: performer of traditional Japanese arts, dance and singing (usually women, but the first geisha were men)
*₅ oiran: Japanese prostitutes and entertainers