"Hiro-san, you have too many books," Nowaki said as he maneuvered yet another box into their new flat.
"Shut up! I'm an Assistant Professor of literature. Of course I have a lot of books, you idiot!"
Nowaki surveyed the room and shook his head, grinning widely; there was no sign of Hiro-san, and boxes of books were piled nearly ceiling high in the large living area. There was barely room enough to walk, much less stand. He smiled. They'd sort it out. Even Hiro-san's foul mood couldn't spoil the happiness he felt at this moment.
They were moving into a new flat, one he had made all the arrangements and payments for. He might not be able to catch up to Hiro-san—the four year age gap was substantial—but that didn't matter to him right now. Hiro-san had put aside just enough of his pride to allow Nowaki to do this for him—for them—and his heart was so full of love that he felt it might burst.
"Excuse me, sir. Where would you like the bed?"
Nowaki turned, still smiling. "The second room down the hall," he said, pointing. This flat had two bedrooms. "Thank you." He followed the movers hauling the queen sized mattress down the hallway and into the smaller bedroom. "You can just lean it against that wall for now," he added.
As the movers left to bring more of their furniture upstairs, he stepped into the second bedroom. This would be an office and library for Hiro-san. There were two dozen boxes of books in here as well, and he moved a few over so they weren't blocking the door. Hiro-san had ordered more bookshelves, now that they had enough space for them. That though made him smile still wider.
"Hiro-san," he called. "Hiro-san?"
"What?! I'm busy, here!" Hiroki poked his head in the doorway, a deep frown on his flushed face. "Quit lazing about and start unpacking!" Nowaki grabbed his arm and pulled him into the room and into an embrace, his chest against Hiroki's back.
"Nowaki, you idiot!" Hiroki yelled, squirming, but Nowaki just held on more tightly. "The movers!"
"They're downstairs, bringing up more furniture. We'll hear them coming," he said, and leant his cheek against the top of Hiro-san's head. Hiro-san was still grumbling, but he was no longer struggling.
"We can put your desk in that corner by the sliding doors. There's an outlet there for your lamp and computer, too." Nowaki sighed happily. "Are your new bookshelves arriving today?"
"The store said between noon and two," Hiroki said, and sighed. "It's a nice flat."
Nowaki pressed himself against Hiro-san and felt the stirrings of arousal. Hiro-san stiffened slightly and made a mewling sound deep in his throat. He knew that if he saw Hiro-san's face right now, it would be flushed an even bright red, and he was tempted to tease him, but that could come later. The movers would be back any minute, and he was more than content just holding Hiro-san in his arms for as long as he could.
He rubbed his cheek against the cotton cloth wrapped around Hiro-san's head, closed his eyes, and sighed happily. "I love you, Hiro-san."
Hiro-san grunted with what would sound like indifference to a stranger, but Nowaki knew better. When he felt Hiro-san squeeze his arm a moment later and cover his large hand with his own, he felt his heartbeat quicken, and wished they could stay like this forever.
Kamijo Hiroki loved books. He'd read voraciously as a child, teen, and now as an adult. In fact he'd rarely met a book he didn't like. The library at school was a treasure trove to him, but there was something even more special when a book belonged to him personally. Every week he'd saved his allowance, and while other children his age would buy sweets and other snacks, he'd stride past them all at the corner store, a rather haughty expression on his face as he walked the mile and a half further down the street to the bookstore. His parents encouraged his love of reading, and bought him plenty of books, but the books he treasured most were the ones he bought for himself.
He loved the smell of books, loved the ruffling sound the pages made when you turned them, the feel of the paper or a luxurious leather bound tome against his fingertips, or the way an ancient scroll crackled as he unrolled it. Even more, he loved the stories they contained; millions of words strung together just so. All of space and time, anything he could imagine, right at his fingers. With only one exception, they were his favorite things in the world.
"ARGH! I fucking hate books!"
He kicked at the opened box of books at his feet. "Ouch!" he cried, and hopped up and down, grabbing his foot. He staggered backwards and his eyes went wide as his back collided with several stacks of books. "Damn it!" He covered his head with his arms and ducked as dozens of books fell on top of him with a loud crashing sound.
"Hiro-san!" Nowaki was by his side in an instant, his large hands moving swiftly over Hiroki's body. "Are you hurt?"
"Stop groping me, you moron!" Hiroki yelled and stamped his foot, pushing Nowaki's hands away in a huff. "I'm fine!"
"I could help you shelve these," Nowaki said, taking a step back and surveying the mess. "Those shelves are high and you shouldn't be climbing on chairs. You could get hurt."
"Don't call me short! You're the one who should stop growing! It's unnatural to be so tall!"
"Hiro-san, why won't you let me help you with these?" Nowaki bent down and began stacking the fallen books into piles again.
"I have a system. You'd only screw it up."
"You could tell me where to put them," Nowaki said, straightening up. "What's this box here? It's marked 'home' and 'March'. Hiro-san, is your system organized by month?" Nowaki asked, scratching his head in puzzlement. He reached out to drag the box closer, but Hiroki grabbed his hand and pulled him away from it.
"Not that one!" he said, and hoped his voice didn't tremble. It wasn't that he was hiding anything from Nowaki, except that he totally was. 'March' didn't refer to the month at all. It was one of Akihiko's pen names, the name he wrote his famous Boys Love novels under. (1) He knew how Nowaki felt about Akihiko, but it was more than just the stirrings of jealousy it brought out in him. If Nowaki ever saw Akihiko's early BL novels….
Six years earlier:
"This is perfect timing. I was actually hoping you could look at something for me," Akihiko said, handing over a clipped sheaf of papers.
"This your new work?" Hiroki asked.
"Yes, I thought you could look at it before my editor does. I know your eyes won't miss a thing."
Hiroki rolled his eyes and glanced toward the front of the coffee shop. It would be bad if Nowaki caught him with Akihiko. He didn't have romantic feelings for Akihiko any longer, and he was happy that Akihiko still relied on him, but….
"Flattery won't get you anywhere," he said, and snatched the manuscript from the table. He leant back on the couch and started reading.
"Usami-Sensei, you know I'm always glad to read your books, but…this one is…. May I ask why there's a character that looks exactly like me?! And if I had to summarize the content in colors…it'd be hot, passionate, flaming pink!"
"I only recently discovered this genre. I thought I'd gather my interests, experiences and fantasies and try to write something, and as I started to create the story and characters, I wanted to add one that resembled you. So I need your permission."
"What?!" Hiroki yelled, his eyes wide, mouth gaping open in shock and horror.
Akihiko plucked the manuscript from Hiroki's hands, his eyebrows raised in an expression of indifference. "So can I? 'Yes, you may.' Why thank you. You've always been such a good friend. See you!" he added, standing up and gathering his things.
"Y-YOU'RE NOT LEAVING YET! IS THIS SOME KIND OF SICK JOKE?!"
"If this book ends up selling well, I'll send you a signed copy, or whatever you want."
"I don't want one!"
"Don't feel bashful now."
"HAVEN'T YOU EVER HEARD OF 'SLANDER'?!" (2)
Just thinking about that day was giving Hiroki a headache, and his eye was twitching. Not only had the book sold, but Akihiko had gone on to write three more books featuring the 'Hiroshi' character, firmly establishing "Akikawa Yayoi" as a big name in the BL genre.
Even worse, the artist had managed to draw a striking likeness to him for the front covers, along with other illustrations inside the books. The books had sold like a house on fire, and true to his word, Akihiko had sent autographed copies, inscribed with a personalized message of thanks.
He knew he should have burned them, or at least thrown them out long ago, but regardless of the content, they were still books, and throwing out a perfectly good book was sacrilege. The fact that he now owned every BL novel 'Akikawa Yayoi' had published over the last six years—a considerable number he realized, noticing the size and weight of the box as he lifted it and placed it behind him and well out of Nowaki's reach…
His eye was twitching even more rapidly now, and he turned away from Nowaki and grabbed the first book within reach, frowning and feigning contemplation of where to shelve it. He hadn't even bothered to look at the title, and it was all he could do to keep his hand from shaking.
"Heh. Really, I'm fine, Nowaki. My books, my responsibility. Thank you for your concern, but—"
"Hiro-san." Nowaki said, and grabbed his arm, tugging him close. He pressed a cool hand to Hiroki's forehead. "You feel warm. Are you sure you're not coming down with something? You've been working very hard, and all of this heavy lifting certainly isn't good for you. You should rest for a while. You're shaking and your eye is twitching. Do you have a headache?"
"I'm fine" he said, struggling to throw off Nowaki's grip and ignoring the wave of dizzy, light-headedness that swept over him. He glanced out the window and realized it was nearly dark outside. When had he eaten last? Lunch must have been hours and hours ago. It didn't matter. He had to get rid of Nowaki and hide those damn books!
"Er, why don't you go down to that restaurant on the corner and bring home something for dinner?" he said, and took a step towards the nearest empty bookshelf. His knees buckled and…
"Hiro-san, can you hear me?"
"Urgh," he mumbled and opened his eyes to find a wide-eyed Nowaki hovering inches above his face, his head in Nowaki's lap, and his feet propped on a pile of books. He blinked and tried to move, but Nowaki's hands held him firmly by the shoulders.
"Hiro-san, thank goodness. You scared me! You're going to lie down in bed, and I'm going to make you some soup. You've done enough work for today."
"Have to finish," he muttered, flailing his legs.
"No, Hiro-san. You're going to bed. Doctor's orders."
"You're not a doctor yet."
"I'm an intern," Nowaki said absently, lifting Hiroki's head from his lap and scrambling into his knees. He slid one arm around Hiroki's back and the other beneath his knees.
"Your patients are children! Do I look like a child?"
Nowaki smiled at him with a look of such tenderness, he felt his heart skip a beat. "You're so adorable, Hiro-san," he said, and kissed him on the forehead.
He felt his cheeks flush, and he swallowed around the lump in his throat. That man, he thought. Even when he's being a complete idiot, I can't help loving him. It makes me so happy.
"Come on, Hiro-san, put your arms around my neck."
"I'm not one of your patients! I can walk!"
"I'm sure you can, Hiro-san, but I want to carry you so I can hold you in my arms that much longer."
"Nowaki…" he said, and closed his eyes. I really do love him.
"Besides," Nowaki added as he carried Hiroki from the library-office into the bedroom, "I didn't get to carry you across the threshold of our new home earlier—"
"NOWAKI! I'M NOT YOUR GODDAMN BRIDE, YOU MORON!"
Nowaki felt Hiro-san's grip on his hand go slack, and gently disengaged his hand from Hiro-san's grasp. He reached out to smooth the hair away from Hiro-san's forehead and kissed him lightly. Always so stubborn, he thought, and smiled. Hiro-san looked so adorable when he slept; his face calm and serene—a look it rarely bore when he was awake.
He stretched and got to his feet, pausing to glance once more at Hiro-san's sleeping face, and tiptoed from the room, closing the door gently behind him.
He should eat something, he knew, but as he passed by the library-office, he paused in the doorway and looked inside. Two large floor-to-ceiling bookshelves were nearly full, and another was half full. There were still dozens of boxes left to unpack, and dozens more in the living room. At this rate, Hiro-san wouldn't finish for weeks if he kept insisting on doing it all himself.
So stubborn, but Nowaki wouldn't have him any other way. He lived for those moments when Hiro-san let down his guard and swallowed his pride, let Nowaki even more deeply into his heart. He never wanted Hiro-san to lose his pride—it was one of the things he most admired about him—but for every tiny concession Hiro-san made, Nowaki felt it brought them that much closer to being equals.
I can do some of these, he thought, and stepped into the room. I remember how he had most of his books arranged in the old flat. There was a nearly empty box, labeled 'Medieval 14th C' beside the shelf Hiro-san had been working on. He looked at the shelf and saw the books arranged alphabetically by author. He took the remaining books carefully from the box and placed them on the shelf, smiling to himself. Silly, Hiro-san, you packed them alphabetically anyway.
The box labeled 'Medieval 15th C' was underneath. He spied the box-cutter on top of another one of the unopened boxes, and sliced through the packing tape, shelving the books neatly. Hiro-san probably keeps stopping to browse through them. No wonder it's taking him so long, he thought.
He finished the 'Medieval' boxes and was about to move on to 'Early-Modern 17th C' when he caught site of the box from earlier. The one labeled 'March'. He frowned, shook his head, and sliced open the tape on the 'Early-Modern 17th C' box. He lifted out a stack, carefully checking the names, and placed them on the shelf below 'Medieval 17th C', but his eyes kept drifting back to the 'March' box.
Why would he label it that way, without a year? Did he buy these last March? It was January now, and while Hiro-san frequently purchased books, Nowaki couldn't recall any particular influx of new books a year ago. Certainly not enough to fill up a large box like that one.
Nowaki narrowed his eyes. Hiro-san was acting pretty strange, now that I think about it. Granted he was completely dehydrated and exhausted, and hadn't eaten in more than eight hours, but…
Was Hiro-san keeping secrets from him? There was that time last year with the photograph of Hiro-san and Usami-san from when they were ten years old. Initially, he'd been overcome with acute jealousy, but then he'd seen how utterly adorable his Hiro-san had looked as a child, and his heart had melted. He'd had a copy made of that photo, unbeknownst to Hiro-san of course, and had cut Usami-san from it. He kept it pinned up in his locker at work, and every day it made him smile. Even after a long and exhausting shift, just seeing Hiro-san's adorable face lightened his burdens.
He was still jealous of Usami-san, envious that they had spent all that time together, that Usami-san knew things about Hiro-san that he would never know, and mostly that Hiro-san had loved Usami-san first. But every time he felt that hateful stab of jealousy, he thought back to the first day he met Hiro-san, when he was sitting on that bench, crying, and how he'd fallen in love with Hiro-san at first sight. He might be jealous of Usami-san, but he was also grateful. If Usami-san had loved Hiro-san back, then he wouldn't have Hiro-san for himself. Perhaps that was selfish, but when it came to Hiro-san, he would always be selfish, and happily so.
His curiosity was piqued now, and he bent over the 'Yayoi' box, slicing through the thick layers of packing tape. Hiro-san might get angry when he saw the box was opened, but he always forgave Nowaki in the end. Besides, what could possibly be so bad that Hiro-san felt he had to hide it from him?
"Akikawa Yayoi, Junai Romantica?" He frowned at the cover which pictured an older man with a younger, high school or college aged boy. "Is this…" He flipped through the pages, eyes wide and mouth gaping in surprise, and paused when he came to an illustration depicting the couple from the cover naked and in a very compromising—and very arousing—position.
"H-Hiro-san! I can't believe you read these kinds of books!" Nowaki grinned in delight and sat on the floor, back propped against the bookshelf, and began to read.
Akihiko pressed Misaki's legs back and tongued his tight, pink hole.
"Akihiko-san!" Misaki panted. "What are you doing? You mustn't! You shouldn't!" His free hand crept down between his legs but Akihiko pushed it away.
"Let me taste you, Misaki," Akihiko said, the vibrations from his voice setting off waves of desire in Misaki's belly.
"No...wait! Stop! I— Ah!" Misaki gasped as the hot spear of Akihiko's tongue pierced his most private place. "No! You— Ohhhh!"
Nowaki felt his cock stirring, and reached down to touch himself through his track pants. "Hmmm." He glanced inside the box. There had to be at least twenty more of these inside. "Perhaps I should start at the beginning."
"NOWAKI, YOU ASSHOLE!! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING?!"
Nowaki sat up and blinked. Sunlight was streaming in through the open curtains of the sliding glass doors to the terrace. Where—? Oh, right, he thought as he took in the wall-to-wall bookshelves and got his bearings.
"Ah, H-Hiro-san! Good morning," he said, sitting up and rubbing his eyes. Uh-oh. Hiro-san's face was bright red, and when Nowaki squinted, he was sure he could see smoke coming out of his ears. "I guess I must have fallen asleep in here. Did you sleep well? Are you feeling better? Would you like me to make you some breakfast?" he asked, slowly getting to his feet.
"DON'T CHANGE THE SUBJECT! I TOLD YOU NOT TO TOUCH MY BOOKS!"
Nowaki glanced at the floor around him; it was littered with Akikawa Yayoi's Boys Love novels. Akikawa Yayoi my left foot, Nowaki thought. He knew who'd written these novels. He looked up at Hiro-san and grinned.
"You don't have to be embarrassed, Hiro-san. I'd never imagined you'd read something like these. Is that why you got so flustered yesterday?"
"I was NOT flustered!"
Nowaki walked over and kissed Hiro-san on the forehead. Hiro-san's eyes were nearly bulging out of their sockets and his jaw was clenched so tight it looked painful. He stood stiff as a board, fists balled at his sides.
"You're so adorable, Hiro-san. I had no idea Usami-san wrote these kinds of stories. One of his characters looks exactly like you, too."
Nowaki didn't think it possible, but Hiro-san's eyes widened even more. "Hiro-san, please don't be angry. I admit I was a bit taken aback when I saw the Hiroshi character at first, but then I started imagining myself as Akira—he even has dark hair and blue eyes, and he's taller, just like me—and well, if you hadn't been so ill last night…"
"Don't read that garbage!"
"Well, it's certainly not classic literature, I'll admit, but they were very entertaining. Besides, Hiro-san, they're your books. You've obviously read them yourself."
"I—I—" Hiroki smacked Nowaki in the head. "THAT'S NOT THE POINT, YOU STUPID JERK!"
Nowaki rubbed his head. He loved Hiro-san more than life itself, but if there was one thing he wished, it was that Hiro-san was a little less violent. "Hiro-san, that hurt."
"You deserved it, going through my things like that. If you're going to read something, read your damn medical books!"
"Don't get me wrong, Hiro-san, I love studying medicine, but none of my course books are anywhere near as…stimulating. There was this one blow job scene in particular, and honestly, Hiro-san, it was one of the most arousing things I've ever read. "
Hiroki curled his lips. "Nowaki…"
Nowaki tilted his head slightly, and gently reached out to caress Hiro-san's cheek. "Hiro-san, I'm sorry I read your books without your permission. I was curious, I admit it, and I knew you were hiding something from me. You're really cute when you're embarrassed, but I don't want there to be any secrets between us. And you really scared me when you fainted last night. I was so worried about you."
Hiroki looked down at his feet. "I'm fine. I just pushed myself too hard, is all. You don't have to worry about me so much."
"I always worry about you, Hiro-san, but I'm glad you're better." Nowaki took a deep breath. "Hiro-san, I want to do some of those things from the books with you," he said, his voice soft.
"See? I KNEW it! You and your stupid perverted mind! Bathing together, goodbye kisses, welcome home kisses, fireworks kisses! It was the Ferris wheel scene, wasn't it? I know you!"
He'll never stop surprising me. "Yes. It was so descriptive and erotic, and well, okay, we don't have to do it in a Ferris wheel," Nowaki amended, seeing the look on Hiro-san's face, "although the fact that you remember it, too—"
"But, Hiro-san, when I read those books, all I could think of was how much I wanted to make love to you. Even now…" He took Hiro-san's hand and pressed it against his erection.
"H-Haven't I told you to quit it with the stupid fantasies?"
"Hiro-san, you do like when we take a bath together. You even said you had fun."
"I was just being considerate and selfless!"
Nowaki smiled. "You really are adorable, Hiro-san. Um, we both took the whole weekend off, and I know it was because of moving, and we still have so much work to do, but it's so rare that we have time alone together like this." He let go of Hiro-san's hand and reached between Hiro-san's legs, cupping his balls through his pyjamas, while he ran his thumb along the length of Hiro-san's cock.
"I want you, Hiro-san. I want to touch you, taste you, lick every inch of your body, Hiro-san. Please."
"And it's not only because of the books. Honestly. Although I really like the cover of the 'Sweet Seduction' one. Maybe we could frame it for our bedroom."
Hiro-san's cheeks were flushed a bright pink, and his eyes were wide and dark. Nowaki smiled and kissed Hiro-san's cheek, gently ruffling his already-mussed hair. He really didn't think it was possible to love him any more than he did right now.
"I love you, Hiro-san. Come back to bed with me. After all, I really should apologize to you properly," Nowaki said, and led a grumbling yet grudgingly compliant Hiroki into the bedroom of their new home.
(1) "March" in Japanese is Yayoi, and Usami-san writes his BL novels under the penname Akikawa Yayoi.
(2) This entire "Six Years Earlier" section is quoted verbatim (with a slight bit of added narrative from me) without permission from Junjo Romantica, Volume One, Junjo Egoist – Act 2, by Shungiku Nakamura, published by BLU, © 2006.