“That did not go quite how we planned it,” Isogai said.
“Us either,” Reiko told him, laughing.
“Doesn't matter. They seem to have worked it out,” Takamura sighed. “So young!”
“You stop that!” Natsuo scolded him.
“Whatever you say, lover.”
“You stop that, too. Since when do you admit we're lovers? You've been so stubborn about it.”
“Uh, since you climbed on-mph!” Natsuo's kiss was a brief one, then he whispered something in Takamura's ear. “Urk!”
Natsuo loved that noise. He wanted to hear it in bed again. “Let's go.” They went.
Shima hugged Reiko from behind. “I like you in jeans. I liked the Brazilian but I was kind of looking forward to... I'd like you no matter what, so you don't have to go to a salon unless you want to. It was a woman who did the waxing, right? And no more getting up early to fix your face or whatever.”
“Oh god, you knew about that, too? How embarrassing!” ::But I don't mind, really. Because it's you. I've trusted you with my real self from the beginning and you've never let me down.::
I'll try not to, but I know I'm too quiet, so poke me if I need it. This method of communication does make it easier to be honest with you though. And Izuna will always catch me out, so it would be silly of me to try and hide things from you.
::It's okay to be silly. I really want to see you being silly.::
I'm terrible at being silly, but I'll try it for you.
::Try it in bed? Now?::
You sound like Izuna. Most excellent scary, Reiko-sama! Practice baby-making!
“Eek!” She ran off and Shima chased her.
“We've done all the arguing necessary, right? Neither one of us is shy about speaking our mind.” Ugetsu asked Aki, arm around his waist. “I don't have to confess I hate your aftershave or anything?”
“I haven't seen you in what you call a funk, but I don't think I need to. As long as you know I will be there if you need me. And I'm the type to shove all my faults in your face, expecting you to run away. Since you haven't, I guess I'm stuck with you for at least another week.”
“Kai, I don't think I'll be having as many funks, now that we're together.”
“Because I make you indescribably happy and giddy and full of joy?”
“No. Because you taught me how to play that game where I shoot people a lot.” Ugetsu kissed him, then whispered, “And yes. All those things and more.”
“Can we go upstairs?”
“Anything you want is fine with me,” Ugetsu fluttered his eyelashes.
“Good! I'm greedy!” Away they went.
The threesome looked at each other. They looked at the mess everyone had made around the outdoor eating area.
“They left the mess for us to clean up,” Isogai said.
“You just sit down and relax. You had a big night last night. Or is it more comfortable to stand? Don't try and bend over if your back still hurts,” Hiroto had been overly considerate all day, teasing Isogai nonstop.
“I promised to kill you later. Is it later yet?” Isogai didn't really mind and he was feeling fine, but he allowed Hiroto to have his fun.
They collected empty cans, gathered up glasses and dishes, tossed the scraps of food into a garbage bag. Just as they were finishing, Aoki and Seiko appeared.
“Oh, damn. You shouldn't be doing that on your last night here! I didn't think the festivities would be over so soon. Um...How did it go?”
“However you would have liked it to go, dear. They were so cute!” Isogai mimicked the worst sort of “sweet” shoujo anime girl.
Aoki snickered. “She did well, then. But you got him drunk? I overheard some rambling.”
“I didn't expect being drunk would make him babble out confession after confession. Todo wants to be called cute and be bossed around but also to be a scary cop tough guy. Ha! It was too adorable. Kanako thought so too. And they inspired everyone else. There will be a lot of pink candles tonight, I think. Maybe even fireworks.”
“Then why are you three still out here? Do you realize the family went home this morning? No need for discretion out in your onsen.”
“Aoki!” Ichimaru gaped at her. “You're terrible! I love it!”
“We have been together for a while. We have worked out many problems between us - three is very complicated,” Hiroto told her, sounding totally pompous. “We – well, Isogai and I – are not silly kids anymore. We-ooof!”
Isogai had tossed him over one shoulder. “Me caveman! Me steal stupid lover! Ooga booga!” And he took off running, with Hiroto howling and Ichimaru chasing after, demanding Isogai return his bride at once.
Aoki and Seiko laughed so hard they cried. Then they finished the cleanup, linked arms in perfect accord, and strolled off to their private cottage behind the ryokan.
Refreshing! The Refreshing Crowd! That's what she would call them.
The next morning, everyone was late for breakfast, including Aoki and Seiko. Kanako was back in her usual jeans and sparkling and bossy and Todo hadn't shaved. She waved around a huge rhinoceros beetle that had been left in her make-up bag then set it free. She wasn't wearing any make-up.
Reiko wore black slacks (she hadn't brought any jeans of her own) but she proudly wore a gaudy and tacky t-shirt with “Karuizawa!” scrawled across the front. Shima's khaki cargo pants had – gasp! - wrinkles.
Takamura openly held Natsuo's hand. Ugetsu stole food off Aki's plate then waved a piece of pickled daikon (a type of radish). “Say, 'Ahh!'”
“Put it in your mouth and feed me that way,” Aki asked. Ugetsu promptly did so, making everyone giggle. Aki nibbled his way up to Ugetsu's lips.
It was Hiroto's turn to sit gingerly and a lot of the green had washed out of his hair. Isogai refrained from teasing him. Ichimaru never teased but did suggest Hiroto lay in the back of the car on the drive home, which made everyone bite their lips and pretend they had no idea what he was talking about.
Hugs and kisses and small gifts were exchanged. Cars were loaded with bags. Rooms were double-checked to make sure they weren't leaving anything behind. A frog was returned to its outdoor life. And Izuna disappeared.
“Why would she run off right now? Izuna!” Reiko yelled. Then she yelled the other way. ::Izuna! Come back here! We're leaving!::
::You wait! I also say goodbye!::
“Oh. Her local hook-up and babies-daddy?” Isogai said.
“That's so sweet!” Kanako cooed.
“That she hooked up or got knocked up?”
“That she's saying goodbye, jerkface!”
“I don't have a jerkface! I have resting asshole face. You have a babyface. And Todo has an I just got la-Ow!”
Izuna scampered out of the treeline, bushy black tail waving its white tip. Then they saw him, reddish-brown with black mask and paws, slightly larger than Izuna. He was handsome for a kudagitsune, they supposed. After all, Izuna wouldn't settle for less than most excellently handsome.
As she climbed up Reiko's leg and back onto her shoulder, the male made up his mind. He approached them carefully, not accustomed to humans but made bold by Izuna's example. They all froze and watched him circle the group. Once, twice, three times.
A tickle in each person's head let them know they were being examined in more than just outward appearances. They all looked at Shima. He was the obvious choice if the fox was making a choice.
::Not Shima-sama! He is mine!:: Izuna declared. ::You pick now or go away.::
::Don't rush me. Slow and careful. Long-term planning is important. No haste!:: he answered. His “voice” was quite low and mellow.
::Pfft! Should use instinct. Think too long and you will lose your chance.::
::Hush! Three have creatures already – I can smell. And I smell dog on your Shima-sama and his brother and the cousin. Faded on the brother though. The doctor thinks of going where I can't follow. This one.::
The red kudagitsune climbed up Ugetsu just as Izuna did to Reiko. ::I like you. You are near with Reiko-sama but not too near. Can see my babies for visits. The music magic in arms and shoulders tingles well. You are pretty. You are not excitable, do not rush. Is good.::
“Uh...help?” Ugetsu was in shock. He'd never had a pet, or been around animals much at all. Ren's dog Tanuki barely counted, as he mostly just sat around being fat and Ugetsu had only been to the house once.
::Not a pet. Companion. I am Bassui, Ugetsu-sama. I eat anything but like mushrooms most of all. I won't get fat or leave you alone and I can call at a great distance to Kai-sama if he's needed. I liked your music the other night.::
“I...are you sure? I travel a lot. Well, I did in the past and I will again someday. Can I take you through customs? What am I even thinking? I can't.”
::You are thinking you aren't a good match for me but it will be very fine. I am calm and quiet and so are you. Travel is good! See the world. I can confuse - they will not notice me if I don't wish to be seen.::
::Fine! Is done! We go! Thanks much, Aoki-sama and Seiko-sama. Ryokan most excellent! Zashiki-Warashi are happy. More guests will come.::
“Thank you, Izuna. It was a pleasure having you all visit.”
“Good-bye! We'll be back! Thank you!”
Aoki leaned against her husband and they waved as the cars drove away.
“Do you remember our first night together?” she asked him.
“Of course. We'd been dating two months and you had no excuses to stay overnight anywhere. Then your parents went out of town for the weekend. I was so nervous I thought I was going to die. It was terrible, right? I couldn't believe you didn't dump me after that.”
She smiled. “How would I have known you were bad at it? I thought it made you mine forever and that's all I cared about. Like some kind of 'you break it, you bought it.'”
He laughed out loud at that one. “Crazy girl. I was already yours. I was so mad when you snuck out of bed the next morning to brush your teeth. That wasn't fair - I couldn't kiss you all grungy and you looked so sweet. By the time I got up and brushed my teeth, everything was all awkward again. I knew you loved me the morning you didn't sneak off.”
“Oh? And when was that?” she teased him, not expecting an answer.
“Six glorious stolen nights later. Meaning about six months later, since your parents watched you like hawks. The day I asked you to marry me. Twenty-three years ago today you made me the happiest man alive by saying yes.” He held out a little gold box with a sparkly ribbon. “Pocky game?”
So perfectly him.
Aww. I got all mushy with this one. Relationships need work, even in the Tokyo Yaoiverse, but it's always worth it. Be honest! And sexy! See you soon!