Souji’s eyes were fixed on his opponent. His movements swift and graceful yet with an undercurrent that carried the strength of a wild beast. The wooden swords connected, once, twice, three times - stop.
They separated and bowed before settling down into comfortable kneeling positions. Souji tossed his sparring partner a towel.
“Thank you, Souji-dono. Your skills keep improving steadily. You truly have the blood of the old warriors in you.” Utsusemimaru smiled at the teen. “And I have noticed that you have started to honor more of the warrior traditions. Your father can be very proud of you indeed.” He nodded.
“What do you mean? I’m not doing anything in particular.” Souji blinked and wiped his sweat off with his green towel.
Utsusemimaru smiled and moved closer to the other. “There’s no need to be so secretive about it, Souji-dono. I can tell.”
“You can tell what?” Souji looked confused. “I’m really not doing anything special, Ucchi. I think you’re dehydrating.” He took a swig from his own water bottle.
“You have been thinking about taking Ian-dono to bed, haven’t you?”
Souji choked on his water.
“Ah, what is wrong, Souji-dono? Are you alright?” Utsusemimaru worriedly patted the back of the other’s back. “Was something wrong with the water? The Deboss haven’t put anything into it, have they?” He grabbed the bottle to inspect it.
“Ucchi, you’re-” Souji was interrupted by a cough. “How did you-”
Utsusemimaru, once he had assured himself that Souji was fine, smiled. “Oh, I know the looks people give each other in such an event. Don’t worry, Souji-dono. I think this is a well made choice! I’m sure your honorable father would agree.” His smile turned even brighter. “And just think about what this means! Ian-dono is acknowledging your prowess. A proud warrior does not simply take anyone to his bed as a mate after all.”
Looking more than alarmed, Souji stared at Utsusemimaru. “Don’t tell him. If you tell him, you’re dead. And then I’ll be dead, too. And Ian and who knows who else.”
“Why would something so terrible happen, Souji-dono?” The samurai was confused.
“Just don’t tell him. And don’t tell Ian. You absolutely cannot tell Ian.” Souji grabbed Utsusemimaru’s collar. “Promise me you won’t. By your honour as a swordsman.”
A little later at the Spirit Base, Souji’s foul mood and Utsusemimaru’s obvious confusion didn’t go by unnoticed. The youngest member of their team practically had ‘uuuuurrgh’ written all over his face. Amy and Ian took their friend aside and crouched down with him not too far away from the table where Souji was sitting and nursing his cream soda.
“Ucchi, did something happen this morning? You guys were training, right?” Ian asked.
Utsusemimaru sighed. “I don’t understand Souji-dono. He is doing nothing wrong and yet he seems to be very upset about it.”
“Oh my, what’s our dear boy up to now?” Ian crossed his arms. “Anything we can help with?” He shared a look with Amy and the two of them nodded.
“Ah, but I promised him I wouldn’t say anything.” Utsusemimaru looked down. Then he looked up at Ian. “Maybe you should talk to him, Ian-dono. I think you would be able to make a difference.”
Ian blinked. “Me? How?”
“I have done some more thinking and I think I finally understand you, Ian-dono. In these modern times, things have become more liberal. I see that you are interpreting the old values in your own way by choosing to have one male by your side as your betrothed while keeping several female concubines instead of sharing your bed with fellow warriors whom you have acknowledged on more levels than one.” He smiled at his fellow Kyoryuger. “So I will give you my blessing, Ian-dono. You may go ahead and claim what is yours. I will proudly support you, my friend!”
Ian’s empty coffee cup fell from his grip and hit the floor of the Spirit Base with a soft clunk.
Amy didn’t know how to react. On the one hand she wanted to complement Utsusemimaru for stunning Ian into absolutely dumbfounded silence and on the other hand she wanted to bury her face in her hands at what the samurai had just said. In the end she settled for, “Wow, I think you’ve gotten a few wrong ideas about our modern times, Ucchi.”
Then she blinked and gasped loudly. “Wait, Ian you’re interested in a guy?”
The sound of glass shattering made all of them look up. Souji looked at the broken cream soda glass on the floor, along with its spilled contents.
“Ah, sorry. I’ll clean this up.” He scrambled up to get a mop.
Nobuharu was faster. “Don’t worry about it, Souji, I’ll do it.”
Ian had straightened up into a proper standing position again and was looking at Utsusemimaru and Amy. “You two!!”
“Do what you must do, Ian-dono. It is your honorable right and duty!” Utsusemimaru gave the other a shove, which was stronger than he had intended it to be and almost had Ian falling flat on his face. If it wasn’t for Souji blocking his way. And well, the wall.
Ian tried to regain his balance but ended up having to slam both of his hands against the wall on each side of Souji’s head to keep himself from falling over and taking the teen with him in the process.
Souji’s breath hitched. Ian was suddenly very, very close to him.
Amy squealed and clapped her hands together in delight. “Wow! It’s a kabe-don!”
Daigo chose that moment to enter the Spirit Base. The leader of the Kyoryugers grinned widely when he saw the scene in front of them. “Ooh, seems like I came just in time for something really brave to happen!”
Souji looked up at Ian and swallowed. “Uhm, Ian-”
Chuckling softly, Ian moved his hands from the wall to the younger male’s shoulders. “Well, you heard him. Can’t oppose the King’s orders. Time to be brave, Boy.” He didn’t wait for an answer and leaned in to capture Souji’s lips with his own. He ignored the cheering and catcalls from their team-mates.
Crossing his arms, Daigo smiled proudly. “Ah, finally! They’ve both been pining for each other since who knows how long.”
Cleaning up the mess on the floor, Nobuharu gave them a thumbs up. “If at first you don’t succeed, throw away your suck-seeds and start sowing anew!”
Amy sighed. “Nossan…”
Even Utsusemimaru winced. “That was really terrible, Nossan-dono.”
Nobuharu made a, “Sorry, sorry!” gesture and ducked out to get rid of the shards and mop.
Daigo grinned widely and then put his arms around Ian’s and Souji’s shoulders. “Well done my friends! You can come for me for advice any time.”
“Advice on what?” Ian asked.
The grin grew wider if possible and he wiggled his eyebrows when he addressed the male dressed in black directly. “Well, for when you decide to /brave in/ of course, Ian.”
Souji looked like he wanted to die. Ian looked torn between wanting to punch their leader and wanting to drown himself in their little fountain.
Utsusemimaru suddenly tackled them and attempted to wrap all of them in a big hug. “This calls for a celebration, my most honorable friends!” He smiled. “I shall personally teach you the old rituals, which were observed before warriors took another step towards their full maturity and joined their bodies to move as one not just on the battlefield but also on the-”
Ian and Souji pulled away with a simultaneous, “No thank you!” while Daigo turned his attention to their samurai friend.
“Old rituals that celebrated a warriors maturity? Sounds pretty brave to me. Tell me more!”
“Oh my,” Ian pinched the bridge of his nose.