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Love is Courageous

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"Just because my friends know," Masahiro said, avoiding Kousuke-san's hand, "and because Shige eventually came around, doesn't mean it's a good idea, Kousuke-san." He sighed and sat down on their bed. "My mom is a drunk. I don't know how she'd react, and I don't want to tell her."

"We should still tell them. My mom isn't going to judge us," Kousuke-san replied, scrubbing his hand over his face, then scraping his hair back off his forehead. "She didn't get upset over Kensuke and Hasekura, you know that."

"First of all, that's your mom, and secondly, she might feel differently about her adult son sleeping with a teenager, even if she could get over both of her sons being gay." Masahiro twisted the ring on his chain around and around, contemplating it and what it meant. Kousuke-san had given it to him, and he'd punched his mother once to get it back, but even though Kousuke-san had told him other things were more important, Masahiro couldn't help being attached to it.

And now that they were unofficially engaged—though they hadn't even told Masahiro's friends yet—it was even more special. If only it fit. He was envious of the way Kousuke-san's ring sparkled on his finger. He was jealous, too, of the way the girls at school—from the students, to Kaide-san—looked at Kousuke-san, even after they'd seen the ring. He wanted to shout from the rooftop that Kousuke-san belonged to him, that Kousuke had chosen him, but he didn't have the courage. He didn't know if he'd ever be able to just… casually tell people.

"I'm not gay," Kousuke-san said mildly, leaning back on his elbows on the bed. "I like girls fine."

"Oh, sure," Masahiro said, even as he began to question every interaction he'd seen between Kousuke-san and girls over the past week. "You promised me boobs held no appeal, you know."

"I'm not sure that's exactly what I said, but for the sake of argument, now that I have you, I'm not looking for anything else. And no, Masahiro—I can see what you're fretting about now, and I love you just the way you are."

"If you're not gay," Masahiro said, indeed fretting, "how come the fact that I have a dick doesn't bother you?"

"You really can come up with anything to worry about," Kousuke-san said fondly. "To answer your question, Masahiro, once I fell for you, the packaging wasn't important. And besides, there is such a thing as being bisexual."

Masahiro knew he was blushing—he could feel the heat scalding his cheeks—but that always happened whenever Kousuke-san got romantic. In fact, the romance was often so embarrassing, Masahiro felt the need to hide. And even though he knew he shouldn't, he would question everything… no matter what it was. The fact that Kousuke-san had the propensity to say the most outrageous things, and with naught more than a twinkle in his eye and a half-smile, killed Masahiro. Kousuke-san would blurt those things out—like asking Masahiro to marry him—and then he'd laugh whenever Masahiro freaked out.

"Admit it," Masahiro said, throwing his arm over his eyes, "you're laughing at me right now."

"Of course not!" Kousuke-san exclaimed, but there was a suspicious noise. "Well, only a little. The teensiest bit."

"Anyway, this doesn't change anything. I can't tell my mom, Kousuke-san. I just… I can't."

"Masa, come here," Kousuke-san said, and now he sounded completely serious. He gently tugged Masahiro's arm away from his face, then rolled over and settled over Masahiro on his hands and knees, caging Masahiro's face with his palms. He lowered his head and kissed Masahiro, tongue begging entrance, and for long moments, Masahiro's mind was an empty white space as they kissed.

Even the usual freak-out explosions that went on his brain went silent when Kousuke-san kissed him, when their lips met and everything just… went away. Unfortunately, it could never last; it wasn't like they could make out forever.

Kousuke-san slowly lifted his head, and their lips parted reluctantly, then Kousuke began to stroke Masahiro's brow.

"Masa, I want to tell everyone. You're the man I love. Of course I want people to know."

"I'm seventeen," Masahiro reminded him. "It's still illegal for us to be together, especially since you're my teacher. I can't really stop you from telling your own mother, but mine… I don't know what she'd do, Kousuke-san."

"I know she tries hard, Masahiro, but your mother doesn't know how to take care of a child. She's neglected you and abused your trust, all for her own purposes. You had no real home to speak of when we met. Remember that? How you begged to be my underling, and how you clung to Ken? And—"

"I get it!" Masahiro said, trying to avert his face, but Kousuke-san tugged his chin back. "Please, Kousuke-san."

"The point is, and I guess I did get a bit sidetracked, is that your mother can't do anything worse to you than she's already done, Masa. We live together now. People don't know that it's because we're lovers, but if you told your mom, Masahiro, it's not like she can throw you out of the house."

"But she could throw me out of her life," Masahiro said miserably. Kousuke-san made a lot of good points, and his mother wasn't the sort of woman to be sentimental and Masahiro wasn't the kind of son to expect it, but it would still hurt if she abandoned him. Hadn't his father already done that?

No. Masahiro's mother was all he had left of family. He couldn't lose her, no matter how much she sucked as a mom.

"She's my family," he mumbled, eyes lowered so he didn't have to see Kousuke-san's face. "I'd feel guilty if I broke her heart."

"Always assuming it did break her heart," Kousuke-san said. "Don't sell her short, especially if you're not even willing to give her the chance. Also, I'm pretty sure we're your family now, even Hasekura. Though I doubt he'd admit it."

Masahiro blushed harder; Kousuke-san said the sweetest things. Things that made Masahiro want to jump in an ocean again.

"Kousuke-san," Masahiro said, trying to wriggle out from underneath him, "It's starting to feel like you're forcing me to make the decisions you want me to make."

"You're right. I'm sorry. I should remember my place, eh? As your teacher, I could hardly expect to tell you what to do. Though, again, as my student, it's my job to give you guidance… what to do…"

"Shut up, Kousuke-san," Masahiro said, feeling a smile trying to peek out. That always happened whenever Kousuke went into teacher mode, because they both knew that he was only putting on a front. Well, Masahiro thought that Kousuke-san knew it too, though he wasn't entirely certain he realized he was even doing it sometimes.

"Hey," Kousuke-san said, leaning down and breathing against his ear. "Wanna mess around before we have to go to work and school?"

"W-we don't really have time for that, Kousuke-san!" Masahiro cried, but in the end, it was a token protest, as Kousuke-san began to unzip and open his pants. "Try not to get them dirty—" he said weakly, because his uniform was already on.

"I won't," Kousuke-san murmured, and then Masahiro's mind went back to that great, empty white plain.

++

"I can't believe I'm doing this," Masahiro muttered, as he straightened his shirt for the third—or maybe fourth—time. "That I let you talk me into this, Kousuke-san."

Kousuke-san shrugged an arm around his shoulders. "You were the one who came home last night and said, 'let's do it,' and then had to explain—with flowcharts—why you didn't mean fucking, but telling your mom."

"I only decided to because you suggested it! Oh, God, maybe this is really a bad idea. Yeah, this is a terrible idea. Let's go, Kousuke-san. It's not too late. She might not even be home!" He made a valiant effort to escape Kousuke-san's grip, but he was too strong.

"Be brave, Masahiro. You can do this."

The funny thing was, as soon as Kousuke-san said those words, Masahiro felt the impact of them shore up his courage. He knew he was too cautious—that he worried incessantly about things he couldn't control, and that he could be such a coward about his feelings—but Kousuke-san had taught him that love could be beautiful. That it could be rejuvenating. That it could be a strength when everything else felt like a weakness.

And that was why, even though his knees were knocking together and he wanted to run away, he had decided to do this. To come out to his mom.

To introduce her to the man he loved. He raised his fist to knock on the door, then remembered he still had a key. He was such a doofus.

He slid the key into the lock and turned it. He opened the door. And when he found Megumi in the kitchen, half-drunk and disheveled, he knew that no matter what she said, it would be okay, because Kousuke-san was with him—he had his back, always. His support meant more to Masahiro than anything his mother had ever done.

And once he understood that, it was a lot easier to say,

"Hi, Mom. This is my teacher, Ohshiba-san. He's also my boyfriend. Well, technically I guess he's my fiancé now. I uh, I just wanted to say that. Uh, I'll be going now—" he turned to dash back out the door, but Kousuke-san grabbed him by his collar and yanked him up short.

"Now, now, Masahiro. Let her at least respond to you."

"No, I don't think so. Let's go, Kousuke-san."

"You be good to him," Megumi said, waving the neck of the liquor bottle she held at them. "He needs a firm hand."

"As if she'd know," muttered Masahiro under his breath. He sighed. "Besides—"

"Oh, I give him plenty of spankings," Kousuke-san said with that manic grin he sometimes got. Masahiro made a strangled sound—the only noise willing to leave his suddenly constricted throat—and grabbed Kousuke-san, hauling him backwards.

"We'll be going now, bye, Mom!" he said, slamming the door shut behind them. "Are you nuts?" he hissed at Kousuke-san.

"Think we should invite her to the wedding?"

"I don't know if she'd come, after you said that!" Masahiro said, as they went down the steps.

"I knew you had it in you," Kousuke-san said, pausing at the base of the stairs and pulling him into an embrace. "I'm proud of you."

"I'm not proud of you," Masahiro said, but some of the terrible anxiety around his gut was loosening, flowing away. "But I-I love you anyway."

"I love you too, Masa. From the bottom of my heart. To the moon and back. As high as the sky. And—"

"I get it, I get it!" Masahiro said, burying his face into Kousuke-san's jacket.

"Ah, there's the coward I know and love," Kousuke-san said. "You were so brave a few minutes ago I thought maybe I had the wrong fiancé. C'mon. Let's go home—and then let's do it, like you said last night."

He tugged Masahiro along, whistling a jaunty tune.

And Masahiro couldn't help thinking that being brave had definite benefits.

Like pleasing his fiancé in other ways besides in bed.

END