Chapter 1: It Starts with a Phone Call
It Starts with a Phone Call
Usagi was on the phone, and even from across the large living area Misaki could hear Aikawa yelling at him.
“Did you miss another deadline, Usagi?”
Usagi hung up before answering. “Of course not. She wants me to go into the office. They're going to do another movie or something. Nothing that really matters to me.” He sat down on the couch and picked up the newspaper.
“Hmm? Oh, The Case of Yamamoto Takafumi.”
Misaki stared. “Uh oh.” Now his phone was ringing. Aikawa of course. Usagi hid behind the morning paper.
“Misaki! You have to make him come in! The producer is insisting on meeting the author! DO SOMETHING! This is going to be huge! They are talking about the two sexiest actors in Japan playing the lead roles! I NEED this to happen! HELP ME MISAKI!!!!!”
"Whaa? You mean it's going to be live-action? A BL movie as a mainstream, full-length production?” Misaki couldn't believe it – an anime, maybe, but live-action? This would be a big deal, but...
“Wait. Isn't the producer expecting a woman? 'Akikawa Yayoi' doesn't exist, and this would reveal Usagi as the author of all those novels.” Which would, in turn, reveal all his associates being barely-disguised main characters...
“Oh no. The producer won't expose the truth – we made him sign all sorts of papers on that. But he still insists he needs to meet Usami-sensei just once. He will be at the office for a meeting this morning, so if Sensei could just pop in for a few minutes, it would be enough. Please, Misaki, I think it will be an important movie for the entire gay movement in Japan, not just Marukawa's profit or my entertainment.”
Misaki thought about it. That book had been fairly tame on the lewd stuff, a real love story. Yokozawa was going to lose his mind, though Kirishima would laugh and laugh. “Okay. What time?...10:00...Um, can you tell Kirishima that I won't be in until then? I'll drag him in with me.”
“Misaki! I love you!! I'll tell Zen – he'll understand. Thank you!” She hung up.
Misaki sighed and looked over at Usagi, who had been listening to Misaki's side of the conversation with amusement, newspaper forgotten.
“So. You're going to drag me in, are you? And just how are you going to manage that?” Usagi obviously had several thoughts about how Misaki could persuade him, especially now that they had a few hours of extra time.
Misaki studied his lover. The amethyst eyes held a challenge, those sensuous lips were curved into a knowing smile. He was dressed casually, just a navy cashmere sweater and faded jeans that showed off his broad shoulders and long legs. It had taken Misaki a long time to persuade him to stop wearing suits around the house - he'd only managed it by expressing how hot Usagi looked in casual clothes.
So now there he sat, sexy as hell, and waiting to see how Misaki was going to handle this. But he didn't know Misaki had been consulting the internet recently. He was ready to try a new approach.
Misaki slowly walked over to the couch, straddled Usagi's lap and wrapped his arms around his rabbit's* neck. This earned him a very shocked expression in those exotic eyes. This might work if I can manage it. Next step, a soft and sweet kiss. Usagi leaned into it, but Misaki kept control, pulling back after just a moment.
“I want you to come into the office with me and meet this guy. Not because I'm paying for it with sex. Only because I'm asking you. I think you should. I think your writing is important and you should appreciate the people who buy it and those who work hard to help you be successful. Please.” Misaki said it softly but firmly, careful not to whine or beg or demand.
Usagi said nothing. He did look somewhat ashamed, but also defiant.
Misaki rested his head on Usagi's shoulder and went on. “I know you hate it, meeting with strangers who treat you as special for shallow reasons. Being fawned over by people who don't understand you or know anything about the real you has to be frustrating. But the praise for your writing is real. You do good, you help people, you make them cry or laugh or get horny or forget how boring and awful their lives are. Don't dismiss that so quickly. Appreciate it, just a little.”
More silence. Then, “Don't ever leave me Misaki. I couldn't go on living without you.”
“I will never leave you. Even if you refuse this meeting.”
“I will go. And not just because you asked me.” Usagi held him tightly. Did he shed a tear or two? Only Misaki will ever know. “Will you kiss me? Only a kiss.”
“Take me upstairs, you dummy.”
Some love scenes should remain private I think. We won't intrude on this very tender one. Just wait for the last chapter, you perverts!
*Usagi means rabbit in Japanese – not really sure why Misaki's brother gave him the nickname though.
Chapter 2: Delicate Negotiations
Just before 10:00 am, a flashy red sports car pulled into the Marukawa parking garage and took whatever space happened to be closest. Usagi didn't really care if it was reserved for someone else. Misaki, not wanting to push his luck, said nothing. Together they headed into the publishing house office.
Misaki sent a text, asking what room the meeting was being held in, and Aikawa quickly directed him up to the 6th floor – executive level. Thank goodness he'd worn a nice suit, rather than his usual casual clothes. In the elevator, he sneaked a look over at Usagi and was relieved that the author appeared neither gloomy or angry, just...neutral.
As they reached the top floor, Usagi took Misaki's arm and said, “You will stay with me in there. Please. I want your opinion.”
There was no doubt Aikawa had already warned Kirishima that Misaki was going to be busy with this, so he agreed. “Okay, but I don't know anything about making a movie, you know.”
“But you're an average person, the kind of average person who would be watching this movie. So I'd like to make sure it appeals to all those average people out there.” Usagi gave him a look, with a twinkle. He wasn't nearly as meek and mild about this as Misaki had thought.
“Grr. Enough with the 'average' comments! How's my tie?”
“Straight, for a change. You are adorable.”
“Hmph. Okay, here we go.” And he opened the door.
This meeting room was nothing like the ones downstairs. Posh leather armchairs were set in a loose circle around a low table – almost a sculpture of its own. A well-stocked bar stood in one corner, a huge flat-screen TV, one entire wall filled with leather-bound books – this felt more like an exclusive men's club lounge.
Aikawa, Isaka, and a very suave older man with glasses all looked up as they entered. Asahina, Isaka's personal assistant, greeted them quietly and led them over to the group. Isaka stood up and made introductions, frowning a little at Misaki's presence, but – with a glance at Usagi – choosing to allow it.
Usagi sat down with ease, casually accepted a drink from Asahina, then waited. Misaki, not feeling comfortable about his presence in this room, chose to stand with Asahina against the wall and be as invisible as possible. He studied the man with the glasses. Usaka Kazuomi* was a powerful man in the entertainment industry, known for his insistence on excellence and not taking any risks whatsoever. But he was mostly known for television, so why was he suddenly taking on this movie?
Usaka studied Usagi for a long moment. Then, not bothering with small talk, he got right to the point. “I've purchased the rights for your story, signed all sorts of agreements, so I can do as I please with it. But what I want to know is...Will there be any big fuss if we make changes? From you, or your persona, or even your fans?”
“How can I say, without knowing what sort of changes you are talking about? I'm not too bothered by the idea myself, but the fans can be capricious. I honestly don't take my BL novels very seriously.”
The producer considered this. “I see. Well, you are an award-winning novelist of regular literature. But you come from a very powerful family. I don't want trouble.”
“I'm...not on close terms with my family. As long as you keep my real name out of it, they would not be bothered, no matter what you did with the story. Can you tell me some of the sort of changes you're talking about? I think I might prefer it if you made some major changes and only discreetly mentioned the author and title – 'inspired by...' There are certain people who would feel more comfortable.”
Usagi sighed. “I have a tendency to use acquaintances for inspiration, and they often don't appreciate being character-fodder. I do change their names and enough details to make it impossible to identify them - unless you already know them personally.”
“Ha!” muttered Misaki, then he blushed. Oops, he was supposed to blend into the background here. Everyone in the office shot him a look, mostly amused ones.
“Oi. I don't want trouble from private citizens either.” Now Usaka looked worried.
“Misaki,” Usagi called, “can you ask Kirishima to join us here?”
Misaki stared at him in horror. But then he caught both Aikawa and Isaka nodding permission. He sent a quick text and everyone settled back to wait. Luckily Kirishima was able to come right up. He looked around, clearly wondering why he'd been called in, but no one explained. Shrugging, he settled into a comfortable chair, patient as usual.
Asahina refreshed drinks and Aikawa decided this was her chance. “Can you tell us why you chose this book? And why a movie, rather than a drama or anime?”
“This stays in this room, yes?” Usaka met Isaka's eyes and received a nod of assurance. “Saijou Takato and Azumaya Junta, currently the top two sexiest men in the magazines, both winners of the Best Actor award...they are a real-life couple. And they want to act together. They chose this story as a way of testing the waters, or maybe 'laying the groundwork' is a better way to put it. They would like to reveal their relationship to the public, rather than have it become some scoop for a scandal magazine – which almost happened once already, about a year ago now.
"Saijou is someone I've watched over for many years and he's determined on this. I want it to go as smoothly as possible, and the only way to ensure that is to be in charge of it myself.”
Aikawa, to her immense credit, did not squeal or let on in any way that this news affected her. But her inner-fujoshi self was having a meltdown.
“I remember that,” said Isaka. “The magazine nearly had to close it's doors when it was discredited.”
“Ah yes. Azumaya is quite resourceful and clever. He spun a huge web to catch that fly. In fact, Azumaya has charmed much of the acting industry into keeping their relationship a secret. But still, it's taking its toll on them.”
“Well, we are none of us prejudiced and would be honored to help.” Isaka met each person's gaze and got only agreement.
“Embracing Love*. Winter Cicada,” Usagi said out of the blue.
“Oh my,” gushed Aikawa. “I haven't thought of those movies in a long time. Yes, this sounds similar.”
Isaka raised an eyebrow in question and Kirishima shook his head, not recognizing the titles.
Aikawa explained. “About 15 years ago, two up-and-coming actors starred in a gay drama called 'Embracing Love' and fell in love for real. Instead of being ostracized, the public went nuts over them – they were so sweet! - and they went on to star together in a film, Winter Cicada. That was a period film - again with a homosexual love story - and they both were nominated for Best Actor for it. I believe Iwaki won? They even got married in America.”
"Yes, this is exactly the sort of situation we are hoping to repeat with Saijou and Azumaya. Those two are still together, though Iwaki is now President of an agency and Katou semi-retired from acting, so they aren't much talked about anymore. Their story is very inspiring for those who remember it, though.” Usaka sighed. “The public is much more cynical now, so I don't know if this is going to work.”
“The Case of Yamamoto Takafumi would be a very good story for Saijou and Azumaya,” said Aikawa. “It's a strong love story, but also has realistic conflict with work and family issues. And it's not overly sentimental or tragic or angst-ridden.” She shot Kirishima a look that clearly asked, Well, Zen?
Kirishima took a moment to think. Usaka looked confused again, wondering who exactly this man was and why he mattered.
Misaki took the opportunity, “Ah...this is Kirishima Zen, Chief Editor of Japun magazine. In the book, he's called Konishi* Zen. Boss, they're planning to make even more changes. I don't think you'd be too recognizable.”
Kirishima smiled. “I'm not worried about myself. In fact, I'm kind of honored. But I do have a young daughter. And there is...ah, 'Yamamoto Takafumi' who might be affected. He will pitch a fit.” He turned to the producer. “It's a matter of how much you can change without losing the connection to the title that you paid for, yes? Akikawa Yayoi's fans will be expecting the movie to bring to life that story and those characters.”
“Usami-sensei already suggested changing the title and downplaying his (her?) name. Which is a relief, to be honest. BL doesn't have the best reputation, and we'd like this to be as prestigious a production as possible. We didn't buy the rights for the name or title, but for the story.”
“So, you'd change the names even more, maybe the business they work for?” Kirishima was getting enthusiastic now. “Those are the two main factors that lead people to our real identities. Yo- Uh, he couldn't object as long as you did that. Hiyori – you have to get an absolutely adorable girl to play my daughter. Who is going to play me?”
“Saijou is older, so he would probably play your character, even though I think Azumaya fits your personality – in the book anyway. They're arguing over it.” Usaka slumped back in his chair. “This is going much better than I could have hoped.” Everyone agreed, all tension drained out of them.
Leave it to Usagi to bring it back. “Is there a script yet? I've never written a screenplay. Misaki, what do you think? I could make the changes, and put my own name on it. My father will be outraged of course, but he won't be able to make a fuss because of public image.”
Everyone sat up in shock. “What? I'd be proud to be associated with this. Bring out that contract. Let's add to it.” Usagi's purple eyes were dancing.
Oh no! I've created a monster, thought Misaki.
*From Dakaretai Otoko Ichii Ni Odosarete Imasu – Usaka Kazuomi is a producer who watches over Saijou Takato, but also fired him from a job when a scandal erupted. And then he allowed Takato another chance once the scandal was “proved” false.
*Embracing Love (Haru wo Daiteita) – manga by Nitta Youka. Winter Cicada (Fuyu no Semi) is a story within that story. I highly recommend reading it, the OVAs couldn't capture the charm. The Winter Cicada OVAs are good. I actually considered using these guys as the two actors, but since they're already an established couple it wouldn't have worked.
*Konishi – I just chose this name at random from a list. Just like Usagi would do when writing his BL novels (I hope).
Chapter 3: Let's Do This
Let's Do This!
Collapsing onto his couch, Usaka pushed his glasses up and pinched the bridge of his nose. He'd spent hours in the Marukawa office, hashing out details with Usami-sensei and the others. What have I gotten myself into? This project is going to take over my life, it's going to cause a sensation, it's going to be nothing but stress for the next year at least. It might flop and ruin everyone's reputations, not to mention my finances.
But...He pictured Takato's face. If this works, it will mean something. Takato, Azumaya, Usami Akihiko (Never saw that coming!), and myself – this could be an enormous success. It's worth the risk, he decided.
Pulling out his phone, he sent a brief text. They are going to lose their minds. And I need to buy the most outrageous pair of shoes I can find*.
The next morning...
“Takato! Takato! Hurry up or we'll be late for the meeting!” Chunta* was bouncing on his feet, he was so excited. White feathers seemed to be floating all around him.
“Calm down, you crazy angel! We have plenty of time left. And I wouldn't have to rush now if you had any self-control!” He winced a little as he bent down to slide on his shoes. Insatiable incubus is more like it!
“But...it must be good news, right? About the movie?”
Takato looked up into that hopeful face and smiled. “I'm sure it is. Now, let's go.”
Both men fell silent as Chunta drove them to Usaka's office. This was a huge and scary step they were planning – it could make or break their careers as actors, as well as take others like Usaka down with them. When they had parked beneath the building, Chunta took Takato's hand. “Takato, thank you. This means so much to me, that you are willing to do this. I love you so much.”
“Fool,” Takato answered gruffly, not meeting his eyes. “This is for myself as much as for you. Though our private lives should be no one's business, we are actors and must deal with the publicity. At some point, we will be caught out and cause another scandal – I couldn't bear it. This way, we'll have some control over the news and the direction it takes. This will not be a license to molest me in public, you understand! No PDA, even once it all comes out!”
“Hai, hai! I know. Don't worry, Takato, haven't I been good this past year?”
“Hmph! Come on, or we really will be late.”
Up in Usaka's office, all three of them sat there stone-faced. Finally, Usaka broke the silence. “Are you absolutely sure about this? 100%?”
“Yes!” they said in chorus.
“Alright. We made some changes yesterday after I spoke to the author...”
“Ooh!” interrupted Chunta, “What's she like? No one's ever seen her that I could find.”
“Ha! You're in for a shock. Everything we talk about regarding this project is strictly confidential, understood? Some of what I'm going to tell you, you cannot share even with family or friends or your agents or anyone else. We can't have any leaks when it comes to this – not one. We'll use a fake title and I'm going to wrap everyone involved in non-disclosure agreements so tight that even their ancestors won't be able to gossip about it beyond the grave.”
They exchanged a shocked look. “Of course, Usaka,” Takato answered for both of them.
“Very well. First off, yes, I met Akikawa Yayoi, which happens to be the pen name of Usami Akihiko.” Now their mouths were hanging open. “Yes, that Usami Akihiko, best-selling, award-winning author of literature praised by critics everywhere. Filthy rich, from an extremely powerful family, handsome as sin, and – it turns out – gay. He writes the BL for fun on the side. And he's insisting on writing the screenplay – under his own name.”
“...!” Neither man could manage a word or even a coherent thought.
“I also met the man who was the inspiration for the 'Konishi Zen' character. Azumaya, you have to play him. He's enthusiastic about it, thank goodness, though we're going to obscure the names and their occupations even more than the book did. I also briefly met his partner – who we kept in the dark – and he will suit Takato just fine. Usami is going to adjust the roles to fit you two even better.”
He paused for a deep breath, then let it out slowly. “This is either going to be an utter disaster or win him another award. He's never written a screenplay or script of any kind before, but he's insanely gifted. And with his name on it...the buzz will be huge. He's also going to contribute to the financing.”
Takato was stunned. This was...more. More than he ever could have dreamed of. Usami Akihiko to write the script? What sort of karma had earned them this?
“Oh, and I hope you don't have plans for tonight. We're all invited to his home for dinner. Be there at 6 pm. I'll send you the directions. Now go away before Azumaya explodes.”
Somehow, they managed to get back to the car, and then back to their apartment. Both of them sat down on the couch and stared at each other.
“This...Not only are we going to make our relationship public, but we might also end up in an award-winning, hugely influential movie.” Chunta was high as a kite, feathers floating, all sparkles and shine. “Our rings? Let's wear them tonight, can we?” He got up to dash into the bedroom.
Takato watched him go with a smile of wonder. Crazy angel, you've turned my world upside down. He got up and chased after Chunta, crashing into him in the bedroom doorway and hugging him tightly. Chunta squeezed him back, then took his left hand and slid the ring onto his finger. “Mi tesoro*,” he whispered, kissing the ring, then Takato's lips.
“Chunta. Can we go tell my grandmother? There should be plenty of time to visit the cemetery before we are due for dinner.”
“But Takato. Usaka said to tell no one,” Chunta teased. “Why don't we just stay here...in the bedroom...OW!”
“Perverted angel! Sex fiend!” Takato punched him again for good measure. Chunta just laughed and dodged, heading for the kitchen to gather up some offerings for Suzuko's* grave.
*Chunta is Takato's nickname for Azumaya Junta, because he flubbed saying his name the first time, but wouldn't admit it. Since this section is from Takato's POV, I'm using it rather than “Azumaya.”
*Usaka is known for his ultra-stylish shoes. A new pair indicates a new project.
*Mi tesoro - “my treasure” in Spanish, the words Chunta engraved inside Takato's ring. Chunta is ¼ Spanish from his maternal grandfather.
*Saijou Suzuko was Takano's grandmother and role model and acting mentor. She died of cancer when he was 16.
Chapter 4: Dinner and a Movie
Dinner and a Movie
“Misaki,” said Aikawa, “go take a bath and change – you're a disaster. I'll keep an eye on the food.”
“Let me just...”
“No, no, no. I came early to help you, so let me help you. You don't want them to show up and see you looking like the victim of a refrigerator-bombing. Shoo!” She was already wrapping a spare apron over her blouse and jeans.
Misaki looked down at his own clothes. T-shirt and cargo shorts, both splattered and stained and crusty with all sorts of foods. Probably his face and hair also. Definitely not appropriate for a dinner party hosted by Usami Akihiko. Who was currently shut away in his office, reading over scripts and plays and teaching himself how to write a movie.
He hurried through a shower and into fresh clothes - lavender dress shirt, black jeans, smiley face socks. He set out a dark green sweater and tan slacks for Usagi - nothing too formal – then tapped on the office door before opening it. “Usagi?” The man was sound asleep on his office couch, limbs hanging over the arms and off the side since it was too short for him.
If I get too close, he'll grab me. Look at this mess. Papers were scattered all over the floor. Misaki could see they were examples of screenwriting. But the book on Usagi's chest was...The Case of Yamamoto Takafumi. Better hide that one.
“OI!” he shouted from the safety of the doorway. “Get up and clean up. Your guests – that you invited – will be here soon.”
Usagi cracked open one eye. “Don't wanna,” and he closed it again. But Misaki had come prepared.
"I'm going to use a coupon*,” he said, waving it. “For later tonight. If you behave.”
“You are getting tricky. I like it.” Usagi still didn't move.
“Idiot. Go take a shower. This room reeks of cigarettes and you're still in your pajamas.” Usagi was trying to quit smoking, and his office or out on the patio were the only places he was allowed to indulge. Misaki threw open the window.
Usagi grumbled a bit more, but eventually he stood up and stretched, giving Misaki a tantalizing glimpse of pale, taut stomach. Stomach he would later be...Urk! Don't think about it!
But Usagi could read Misaki's face. He chuckled wickedly as he headed for the bathroom, planting a kiss on Misaki's cheek as he passed. “Mmm, must be a good one.”
“Pervert,” Misaki muttered as he went back downstairs to make sure Aikawa and his cooking were still doing fine.
Kamijou and Nowaki were the first to arrive. Misaki was relieved because they had been over several times and he didn't have to worry about them. He was putting the last minute touches on the dinner table, so Aikawa took care of serving them drinks.
Usagi immediately began interrogating Kamijou on what plays he'd studied or enjoyed. Nowaki drifted over to Misaki. “The table looks gorgeous and the smells coming from the kitchen are making my mouth water. Can I help with anything? I always feel guilty when you cook for us, you do it so well.”
Misaki beamed up at him. “I like to cook, you know that. And thank you, but Aikawa already helped me and there's nothing really left to do. I'm just fussing. Did Usagi tell you guys who our other guests were?”
“No, just that he wanted a few more people around so they wouldn't feel so conspicuous. Whatever that means. I see place settings for 12 people.”
“Hmm. Well, one place is for Suzuki-san*, haha. It's going to be my boss, his boyfriend (but don't call him that), and my boss's daughter. Then there are the actors, Saijou Takato and Azumaya Junta. And the producer Usaka Kazuomi. I don't know which of them might feel conspicuous though – the actors or maybe Yokozawa the not-boyfriend.” Thank goodness Isaka couldn't make it - he's too outrageous, thought Misaki.
“Whoa! Saijou and Azumaya, really?” Nowaki's eyes grew round with excitement.
BZZZ! “Oh! That's the door.” Misaki rushed off and Nowaki went to join the others in the living room.
Kirishima, Yokozawa, and Hiyori came in. Hiyori looked a bit overwhelmed by so many men, but then she spotted Aikawa who was patting the couch beside her. Soon the two were talking girl-talk and giggling, ignoring everyone else. Introductions were made, Kirishima made himself at home, and Yokozawa sat awkwardly quiet.
Misaki, getting the newcomers drinks, was wracking his brain for a good way to make Yokozawa feel more at ease. It seemed clear that Kirishima had filled him in on the movie-situation and he was none too happy about it. Oh thank goodness, Nowaki's got him. Nowaki could talk to anyone about anything, Misaki knew.
A few minutes later and the door buzzed again and Misaki went to open it. The last three guests entered and everyone stood up to greet them. More introductions, more drinks. Aikawa, Hiyori, and Nowaki were almost speechless with delight at meeting the two actors. Misaki avoided staring like a fool by instead dashing around getting more drinks. Yokozawa was looking uncomfortable again until Kirishima whispered something in his ear that turned his cheeks red and his gray eyes stormy.
But before he could let loose with an epic rant, he recalled that they had an audience. And not just an audience, but two actors – one of whom would be playing him in a movie. And Usami-sensei, author of the book and now the screenplay, was studying him like a bug under a microscope. Misaki watched him struggling to get himself under control, knowing just how that felt.
“Um...Let's eat!” Misaki announced with false cheer. “Hiyori, maybe you could help me serve?” She agreed and followed him into the kitchen while everyone else moved over to the dining table.
Those who had never been to the house before looked askance at the giant teddy bear already seated at the foot of the table. But no one said anything and they quickly took their seats. Misaki had gone so far as to write little place-cards for everyone, arranging the seating as well as he could to keep everyone happy.
Usagi sat at the head of the table, of course. Down the right side was Usaka, Kirishima, Yokozawa, Hiyori, and Aikawa. On the left – Azumaya, Saijou, Nowaki, Kamijou, and Misaki. This careful planning cushioned Yokozawa between Kirishima and Hiyori, plus gave him Nowaki directly across. And the actors and producer were close to Usagi, but also near enough to their counterparts for subtle observation. Aikawa and Kamijou would be fine discussing literature at the other end.
First Hiyori brought out a fragrant green tea, gracefully pouring for everyone. All the men were charmed by her. She next placed several sake flasks along the length of the table. Finally, both she and Misaki came out, carrying two trays each, one for each guest. Each tray was filled with several smaller bowls and plates, charmingly mismatched and artfully arranged to display the variety of dishes. Starting at the head of the table, they made two more trips until everyone was served.
Waiting until they were seated, Usagi then placed his hands together and everyone followed suit. “Itadakimasu*,” they all chorused. Then they dug in.
At first, there was only silence and quiet eating noises. But soon Misaki's cooking was being praised, sake was poured, and conversations broke out all along the table. However, it was nothing like what Misaki expected. Usagi and Usaka were talking about shoes and tailors. Nowaki and Yokozawa were exchanging college-days stories.
Kirishima and Azumaya were discussing motorcycles, while Saijou kept protesting that they were too dangerous. Hiyori was peppering Kamijou with questions about kendo*. Apparently, she had just begun taking lessons and he was a long-time practitioner. Aikawa was just gazing starry-eyed around the table, a fujoshi in heaven, surrounded by so many gorgeous men.
All of this left Misaki quiet and content, able to relax and savor the meal. He watched Usagi talking animatedly, thinking that it was nice to see him enjoying himself with other people. Then Usagi caught his eyes and gave him a very wicked wink, laughing loudly when Misaki blushed bright pink and turned his head away.
Hiyori, seeing his flushed face, asked, “What's wrong, Misaki? Too much wasabi?”
“No, it's nothing. I'm fine.” He reached for his tea.
“Hmm. Was Usami-sensei flirting with you? Yokozawa-nii-chan* turns pink like that whenever Papa says something flirty.”
Unfortunately, Usagi's laugh had temporarily silenced the diners, so everyone heard Hiyori's comment loud and clear.
Misaki choked on his tea, Yokozawa was sputtering, and Kirishima joined Usagi in laughing some more. The other adults were staring at her, bemused. They had all been very careful around her, not knowing she was aware of her father's relationship or what it entailed.
“What?” She looked around the table. “Oh, you're surprised I know? P-Father explained everything to me a while ago. You guys are all gay, right?” At 12, she was clearly proud of her maturity compared to these silly adults.
Aikawa chimed in. “That's right, Hiyo. And they're all so handsome, who can blame them, really? Though of course, it means none of us ladies stand a chance.”
Misaki stood up. “I...I think we're all finished eating?” He started grabbing trays. Nowaki and Yokozawa stood up to help clear the table. Usagi, Usaka, and Kirishima wandered out onto the patio to have a smoke. Aikawa led Hiyori upstairs for a tour of the rooms – well, the marimo, eels, and teddy bears. Kamijou went to search the library room for books Usagi had borrowed and not returned.
Once everything was tidied up, Misaki brought out a large tray of desserts and offered more drinks, including fresh coffee. Usagi got Kirishima and Nowaki to rearrange the couches so they faced the enormous flat-screen TV on the far wall, and everyone got comfortable. “I thought, in honor of the occasion, we could all watch a movie together. Winter Cicada.”
Misaki dimmed the lights, then grabbed the remote and sat down on the floor, leaning back against Usagi's legs. Hiyori did the same with Yokozawa, and Aikawa sprawled across the floor on her stomach, propping up her head with cushions. All the other couples sat in pairs, with various amounts of space between them.
90 minutes later, as the screen faded to black and the credits rolled, there was a chorus of sniffles and several hands reached for napkins to blot away tears. Misaki, who had at some point been hauled up into Usagi's lap, waited a few minutes to give everyone time to compose themselves - they had all ended up at least holding hands by the end – before raising the lights again.
Aikawa rolled over onto her back and sighed. “Ahh! I forgot how tragic the ending was! Beautiful! And Iwaki and Katou were amazing – that's true love there.”
Hiyori jumped up and gave her father a tight hug. “You and Nii-chan would never do something so stupid, right? Why didn't they both leave the country? They could have been happy somewhere else, together forever!”
This sparked a discussion, with everyone taking sides – noble sacrifice leading to suicide or leaving behind their honor and country to be happy? No consensus was reached, but the conversation was lively and friendly. “It was very Japanese,” summed up Kamijou, and they could all agree on that.
“Usami-sensei,” spoke Takato, “our movie must be more modern. No tragedy, no overly sentimental stuff. We chose your book to leave audiences with a positive, hopeful view and because the characters are relatable. We want to show how normal a relationship between two men can be – that we have the same romance and life problems as straight couples.”
“I understand that, and I agree with your strategy. I will do my best – for all of us.” He took Misaki's hand and kissed it.
That seemed to be the signal. Farewells and thanks were exchanged, Misaki's dinner was praised again, and everyone slowly drifted out. Misaki sent Hiyori up to the bear room, telling her to choose one for herself as a gift. She came back with a dark, shaggy one, saying it reminded her of Yokozawa. He could only roll his eyes while Kirishima patted her head and said the resemblance was remarkable.
Finally, Usagi and Misaki were alone. Before Misaki could even think of retreating to the kitchen to spend the next hour cleaning, he was swept up into Usagi's arms, bridal-style.
“...! Put me down! Crazy pervert!”
“Hai, hai. But I have a coupon to redeem.”
Oh, gods. Save me from myself and this man. This infuriating, beautiful man.
*Usagi gave Misaki a handmade coupon book, each coupon detailing some act of sex or foreplay that he promised to fulfill whenever Misaki should request it. Needless to say, there were still a lot of coupons left for Misaki to choose from.
*Suzuki-san is Usagi's main teddy bear.
*Itadakimasu - “I humbly receive,” a casual thanks for the food, often translated as “let's eat.”
*Kendo is the Japanese martial art of sword-fighting, with bamboo swords.
*Nii-chan, is a title for an older male friend or relative, as well as a real older brother.
Chapter 5: The Coupon Redeemed
The Coupon Redeemed
Usagi gently laid Misaki down on their enormous bed.
“Now, what coupon did you choose?”
Misaki was horrified. Why, why, why did I pick this one? He had it in his pocket but really wanted to grab another, less awful one. He pulled a pillow over his head.
“Mi.sa.ki. Do I need to search your body for it?”
EEP! That would make it even worse. I have to stop being such a coward about these things. And it's not like I haven't done it before... Without uncovering his face, he pulled the rumpled coupon out of his pocket and felt Usagi take it.
“Ah. So you want to be in charge tonight? Why are you hiding your face? You know I enjoy it when you participate more.”
Misaki peeked out and gave him a look. Rarely was he given any choice when it came to their lovemaking. The author just took over, sweeping him away and controlling all their activities, driving him wild with his lust-husky voice and mortifying words.
“I know, I know. I get carried away. But I can control myself if you really want me to. I can do anything for you. In fact, Misaki...” his voice trailed off.
That was strange - Usagi's hesitating? Misaki sat up to face him. “What?”
Usagi sat down on the bed and took Misaki's hands, smiling gently. “Would you...consider being on top – all the way on top? Does that...would you want to? Maybe you've been wanting to? It doesn't have to be tonight, but I would like you to think about it if you haven't before.”
That was so unexpected, Misaki laid back down and hid beneath the pillow again. He couldn't deny that the thought had crossed his mind once or twice, but never as a serious possibility. “You want that?” came his muffled question.
“I would like it. I don't need it if that's what you mean. I want you to want to do it, not feel obligated to please me. It's been a very long time, but I do remember sometimes when I see you lost in pleasure, how it felt to be the one receiving. Before now, I didn't think you would even consider it, much less bring yourself to do it. No matter how I tease you, Misaki, and give you a hard time, you are my partner, my equal. You can take from me, you can be selfish.” He drew the pillow away from Misaki's face and kissed him very softly. “Just think about it, okay?”
Misaki took a deep breath and nodded. Then he kissed him back, a kiss full of desire and hunger. He let his hands roam, pushing the sweater up and off. Usagi unbuttoned Misaki's shirt and tossed it aside – he could let Misaki lead, but not be passive. He laid back and Misaki crawled on top.
He tentatively pressed some kisses on Usagi's throat, earning a soft sigh of pleasure. Encouraged, Misaki wandered lower, found a pert nipple and sucked on it hard. “Mmmm! I like that!”
“Quiet, you pervert!” he snapped, switching to the other side, tempted to bite.
Usagi only laughed softly and gently cupped his large cool hands around Misaki's head. Not guiding, just caressing, allowing the younger man to set the pace. After what felt like an eternity, Misaki slid a hand lower and let his fingers explore the contours of Usagi's erection. He fumbled with the button and the zipper, so Usagi helped by sliding his pants and boxers down, kicking them off the rest of the way.
Misaki resumed his tentative caresses. So silky, so hot, such a...handful. He touched, he slid his fingers all around, he gripped and stroked.
“Ahh. Please don't tease me too much, Misaki.” That was a reminder, that he'd better get on with it or Usagi would lose patience. He wanted to do this, Usagi's responsiveness was exciting in a whole different way. So, what are you stalling for? he scolded himself. Okay, here goes.
Repositioning himself, he eyed the appendage that so regularly stretched him, filled him, overwhelmed him. He licked once from balls to tip, caught a drop of wetness there. He ran his tongue around it, then took just an inch into his mouth, sucking on it. Usagi groaned and Misaki glanced up to see his face. It was beautiful – mouth open as he panted, eyes dark with hunger as he watched Misaki.
Misaki wanted more. More cock in his mouth, more groans from Usagi. Adding his hand, he moved his head steadily up and down. Overcome with the need to make Usagi completely come apart, he groped for the bottle of lube they kept near the bed, trying to get it without breaking his rhythm. Usagi put it in his hand, raised his knees and spread his legs.
Just a finger, Misaki thought to himself. I'll just try it. He slowed his head movement so he could open the bottle and dribble some lube onto his hand. It was already wet from spit and Usagi, but he wanted to be sure this caused no discomfort. Probing gently, he teased Usagi's tight opening.
“Yes, Misaki. Unh!” moaned Usagi, voice low and rough.
Misaki slid his finger inside. It was so tight! And hot, much hotter than he'd...well, he hadn't known what to expect really. The muscles relaxed just a bit and Misaki moved his finger in and out slowly, then searched for that spot. The spot that drove him crazy when Usagi found it.
“Oh Fuck! Misaki!” Ah, there is it. He focused on rubbing it again and again, added a second finger. He'd nearly forgotten about using his mouth, he was concentrating so hard. But Usagi bucked upward, reminding him. Splitting his attention was tricky, but Misaki was still trying to make up his mind. Take the final step, or not? Letting Usagi's cock slide from his mouth and withdrawing his fingers, he looked again into Usagi's eyes.
Just Usagi's gaze, hot and pleading, was enough to draw him onward. Lost in those eyes, he shucked off his pants and slicked himself with more lube. He had to take a deep breath and close his eyes for a moment - he was ready to come just from touching himself! Usagi shoved a couple of pillows beneath his hips, giving Misaki better access.
Slowly, slowly he pushed into Usagi. “Shit! Relax!” He wasn't sure if he was talking to himself or Usagi who had clenched on him involuntarily. Both men waited, gasping, until that grip lessened slightly.
“N-now. I'm good. Ah!” Misaki moved. He thrust a little awkwardly at first but soon found his pace. Usagi lifted one leg and draped it over Misaki's shoulder, changing the angle. “Yes! There! Don't stop, don't stop!” It also gave Misaki something to hold onto, and then he found himself licking it, sucking on it as he struggled to hold back his orgasm. “Touch me, Misaki!” Usagi reached up to grab his free hand and lead it to the neglected cock throbbing between their bellies.
Stroking and thrusting, Misaki couldn't think anymore. Usagi began to keen beneath him. “Co-coming! Misaki! So good! Unnnaahh!!”
Misaki shouted his own release, thrusting a few more times as he pulsed within Usagi. "Nngh, huh, huh. Holy shit!” he gasped and collapsed against Usagi's chest. He felt Usagi's cool hand stroke his hair as they both fought to regain their breath.
“Amazing. You are amazing Misaki. I love you so much. Thank you.” Usagi's voice was full of tired satisfaction, almost purring.
Misaki managed to raise his head enough to stare in wonder. “I...I...!”
“You.” Usagi chuckled and caressed his cheek. “Oh my. Why tears?” He wiped at them.
Misaki hid his face. “Too much. Love you too much!”
“Come here.” A tug on his shoulders. He had to slide out, earning a little grunt from Usagi. Then he was wrapped in a tight embrace, peppered with kisses all over his face.
“Are you okay? I did okay?”
“It was perfect. You are perfect. I haven't come that hard in a long time! You made me crazy!”
“Shut up, pervert!” Misaki was completely embarrassed now, but it was comfortable somehow, the world returning to normal. “Don't...don't expect that to happen again anytime soon.”
“Whenever you want, Misaki. However you want it. Whatever makes you happy.”
“You make me happy,” Misaki mumbled.
"What? What did you say?”
“I said I'm sticky. Let's clean up.”
“Misaki, you're a liar. Help me up – I haven't been in that position for so long, my back and hips are going to make me pay for it. But it was oh so worth it!”
As Usagi staggered off to start the shower, Misaki made a token effort at straightening up the room. He tossed the coverlet into the corner – he could do laundry tomorrow. Picking up stray articles of clothing, he found the crumpled coupon. Smoothing it between his fingers, he read the message, “Misaki takes the lead.” I guess I did. Huh. I think I'll keep this, as a reminder.
“Misaki! You marked my leg! Go get the camera!.”
“Oh My God! Are you insane?”
So there's a movie in the works. I think the movie will need a hit single, maybe by a J-pop band like Bad Luck? That won't be for a while though. Hmm, who will we visit next?