“One kilometer until your destination.” a GPS voice sounded out, causing Mika to flinch a little. He clutched the cushion of his seat in anticipation for what was to come, watching scenery go by at a quick pace as he sat in the back of a taxi cab.
The taxi driver and Mika only exchanged a few words, and Mika’s parents paid the driver in advance, so Mika wasn’t worried about money for this one instance. However, the more he looked out of the car window and watched high end houses pass him by, the more he started to feel uneasy and a little out of his element.
“You have arrived at your destination.” the GPS spoke again, but the taxi driver remained silent, opening his own door to walk around the taxi and take out Mika’s bags from the back of the car to set them on the pavement.
Mika scurried out of the taxi, now standing beside his bags of luggage. He didn’t even notice the taxi driving away, as he was too suddenly drawn in by the size of Shu’s house. Mika’s mismatched eyes widened in awe as he looked up to a tall wrought iron fence, and he couldn’t help but reach out and touch it, the cold sensation sending a small chill through him.
When Mika heard the door of Shu’s house open up, a smile instantly spread across his face.
“Oshi-sannn!” Mika waved. “Yer house is so pretty, why didn’tcha tell me that?”
“Quiet down, Kagehira,” Shu turned the lock to his wrought iron fence, releasing Mika into his yard like an excited puppy. “I’ll go get my sister to help with your bags, try not to fuss around too much.”
“M’kay!” Mika hurried back out to the street again to pick up one of his bags. He knew that Shu was smart in getting his sister to help, because between Shu and Mika’s somewhat fragile bodies, they definitely wouldn’t be able to handle his third bag of luggage in one trip.
Shu’s house door opened again, and Mika’s eyes widened even more than before. Shu walked out first, then his sister followed behind him, and Mika suddenly felt his heartbeat quicken.
“Oh, Shu, why didn’t you tell me your friend was this cute!” Shu’s sister said with a smile, clasping her hands together as she stood eye to eye with Mika.
Mika didn’t respond, as he was too charmed by how soft pink curls in Shu’s sister’s hair bounced when she turned from facing her brother, and how exquisitely designed her clothes seemed to be. Shu’s sister’s eyes were slit and lavender just like her brother’s, and they held the same quiet intensity within them.
“Don’t look too much into his eyes, Chou, he doesn’t take a liking to that.” Shu commented, moving up the handle of Mika’s rolling luggage and starting to walk back inside.
“Ah, alright,” Chou straightened up. “Let me get that bag for you… Hm, Kagehira, was it?”
“Y-Yes ma’am!” Mika stammered, taken aback by how delicate Shu’s older sister looked, compared to how effortlessly she held Mika’s luggage. Usually Mika was more at ease around women than men, but something about Chou slightly intimidated him.
“No need to be formal with me~” Chou giggled. “Call me nee-san, or Itsuki nee-san even!”
Mika nodded, now showing a more relaxed expression. As the trio headed inside Shu’s house and toward the upper floor, Mika wordlessly assisted Shu in lifting his rolling bag and carrying it up the stairs.
“Your room is over here,” Shu led Mika’s rolling luggage behind him again as he walked down the hall of his house’s upstairs. “It was our old storeroom, so it’s a bit shabby, but nothing unfit for my Kagehira.”
“Mhm, and I did my best with your Oshi-san to fix up the room!” Chou turned to Mika again, showing him another smile.
“Ya both ‘re too kind…” Mika stared at the floor’s carpeting, lightly blushing.
“Non,” Shu replied. “Just please refrain from breaking anything, if you can help yourself.”
“I won’t, I promise ya!” Mika set down his bag next to where Shu and Chou had placed his other luggage.
“I’ll be in my room, Shu,” Chou headed toward the door. “See you both at dinner, I’m excited~”
“Mm.” Shu nodded. “Now Kagehira, listen properly to me as I’m about to show you around.”
“This is my parent’s room, do not go in here,” Shu walked down the upstairs hall with Mika following close behind him. “This is Chou’s room, and this is my older brother’s old room, do not go into either… However, in the instance that Chou invites you into her room, your entry would then be permissible. And across the hall is my grandfather’s room, do not go in there.”
Mika nodded enthusiastically, taking in everything about Shu’s upstairs.
“Next to my grandfather’s room is a bathroom that you can use, but I repeat, do not get the door confused with my grandfather’s room and go in there by accident.”
“I’ll show you the downstairs as well.” Shu took Mika by his shoulder to bring him closer, feeling that he needed to reel him in a bit from his excited fidgeting. Shu’s arm staying around Mika, the pair headed down the narrow staircase that they came up on, Shu turning at the foot of the stairs to bring Mika into a room that appeared to be a study.
“Ah, Shu,” a gravelly voice sounded out. “Is this your friend?”
“Yes, Jii-chan, this is Kagehira.”
Mika’s eyes met with squinted magenta eyes of an older man sitting behind a desk, and he bowed deeply right after making the connection that the man must be Shu’s grandfather. Mika thought he heard Shu’s grandfather murmur something in French, but he wasn’t entirely sure.
“Raise your head, boy,” Shu’s grandfather spoke up. “And make yourself at home.”
“T-Thank ya, sir…!” Mika stood up from bowing as he was asked to, but his eyes remained fixed on the floor, even though he was awfully curious to look around Shu’s study.
“Shu, have you seen this new computer? Your mother ordered it.”
“Ah, yes, I have seen it, but not yet had the chance to use it.”
“I’ve been using it… This new age of technology is troublesome for me, but I’d say it’s an overall useful contraption... I just hope it doesn’t break, though.” Shu’s grandfather sighed. “Anyway, tell your mother I’ll be in the kitchen soon.”
”I will.” Shu motioned for Kagehira to follow him through the door they came in from, and upon arriving at Shu’s kitchen, Mika spotted a woman standing behind the kitchen counter.
“Jii-chan told me to tell you he’ll be in the kitchen soon.”
“Ah, thank you Shu, and,” Shu’s mother turned around from the counter, now facing Shu and Mika. “This is the boy who’s staying with us, isn’t it...!”
Mika instantly felt more at ease by just looking at the woman in front of him. Her long, dark pink hair rested on her shoulder in a messy braid, and she had the same magenta eyes as Shu’s grandfather, but much rounder and more welcoming.
”Yes, mother, this is Kagehira.”
”He certainly is adorable…” Shu’s mother smiled gently, dusting her hands off on her apron. “And from what Shu’s told me about you, I’m sure you’re just as sweet as you look!”
Mika looked back up at Shu, now not being able to help but wonder how Shu spoke of him in his absence. He pretended not to notice how Shu looked disconcerted at his mother’s words, and instead looked behind Shu’s mom in an attempt to catch a glimpse of what she was making that smelled so appetizing.
”Anyway, dinner will be ready in about an hour, I’ll call you.”
”Okay.” Shu replied, walking out of the kitchen with Mika following behind him again.
“Oshi-san, yer family’s all such neat people, y’know?”
“Well, you haven’t met my father and brother yet, they’re still at work,” Shu looked toward his house’s front door. “They won’t be here until dinner, but at any rate… You heard my mother, is there anything in particular that you’d like to do in the next hour or so?”
”Hm, maybe just take a lil nap’…” Mika yawned. “If ya don’t mind, Oshi-san.”
”That’s fine, can you manage finding your room again?”
”Mm, I got it!” Mika grinned. “It’s the door beside Itsuki nee-san~”
“Good... I’ll see you soon, then.” Shu turned around to walk back into his house’s study.
A sleepy smile on his face, Mika nodded and made his way up the stairs, holding on to his long shirt sleeves as he headed up the narrow staircase. Mika yawned again upon reaching the top of the stairs, and seconds after he opened the door to his new room, he flopped onto his bed.
“What’s this…” Mika shifted around, feeling that his arm brushed against a hard object when he lied down. “Itsa… stuffed animal?”
Mika wondered if it was Shu or Chou that placed the stuffed bear on his bed, but then he shook his head, deciding he wasn’t interested in who’s gesture of kindness he was on the receiving end of, only in the happiness welling up inside him as he looked around more at his new room. Mika hugged his new stuffed companion as he lied on his back, thinking more about Shu and his family and what dinner might be like, before falling into a blissful nap.
Mika woke up to the feeling of a hand nudging his shoulder, and as he slowly came to, he noticed that Shu sat at the edge of his bed.
”Kagehira, collect yourself, it’s time for dinner.”
”Nnah…” Mika said in a groggy voice, rubbing his eyes. “M’kay, Oshi-san...”
Shu promptly stood up from Mika’s bed, and Mika rolled out of the bed shortly after, then the two of them made their way down to the lower floor of the house.
“We’ll be in the dining room, I didn’t show you that before,” Shu stated. “Your seat is the yellow chair nearest to the kitchen door.”
Mika nodded, keeping Shu’s words in mind as he entered the dining room and quickly found his proper seat. He fiddled with his sleeves under the table in nervousness as Shu found his seat beside him, but then Mika felt himself slightly relax as he saw Chou enter the room.
“Hello again, Kagehira,” Chou chimed. “Is there anything in particular you’d like to drink?”
“Oh, water’s fine, thank ya kindly!”
“Okay~” Chou grabbed a water pitcher from the corner of the dining room and carefully filled each of the seven glasses at the table.
“Chou, isn’t grandfather having something different to drink?”
“Ah, you’re right…” Chou paused at Shu’s words. “But, everyone needs to stay hydrated, even in winter, and you should drink more water too, Shu!”
Before Shu could respond, Shu’s mom entered the room, catching Shu, Mika, and Chou’s attention with the aroma of the basket she held in her hands.
“You made my favorite bread, I’m so happy~” Chou sang.
“Well, I still can’t make it without your grandfather’s help, but I hope it’s good.” Shu’s mom replied. “Help me carry in the other food.”
“Okay!” Chou ran off into the kitchen with her mother, leaving Shu and Mika alone again for a brief moment, until Shu’s grandfather came into the room.
“Hello, you two.”
“Hello, grandfather.” Shu responded, knowing that Mika was probably still too intimidated by his grandfather to make much conversation. “Did Nobu or father speak with you?”
“Yes, they should be here any minute now.”
Mika listened to Shu and his grandfather make small talk, and he quickly made the assumption that Nobu must be Shu’s older brother’s name. Mika then listened to what faint conversation he could hear coming from the kitchen, until he heard the dining room door open again.
“Am I late?” a deep voice asked.
“No, you’re on time.” Shu answered.
Mika was stunned, watching as the man behind the rich voice casually sat directly across from himself at the table. Mika knew that the man who sat in front of him must be Shu’s older brother, but even so, he couldn’t stop his hands from trembling under the table. If Chou or Shu’s grandfather intimidated him before, then Shu’s older brother scared him now. The man kept his long blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail, with some fringe and strands coming loose, and his eyes were the same magenta shade as Shu’s mother and grandfather. His gaze appeared surprisingly gentle to Mika, but the man’s powerful presence seemed to contrast with whatever softness he expressed in his eyes and elsewhere.
“Hello, Nobu,” Shu’s grandfather spoke up. “Did your father come back with you?”
“He told me he’d leave right after I did,” Nobu looked at his watch. “So hopefully he’ll be here soon… We’ve been having to work longer hours because of one of our new customers.”
Mika’s eyes stayed wide as he listened to Nobu talk with his grandfather, then Mika held in a yelp when Nobu turned to look at him.
“This boy must be your friend, Shu?”
“Yes, Nobu, this is Kagehira.”
“Kagehira…” Nobu rested his elbows on the table. “That’s an interesting name, it’s nice to meet you.”
“N-nice to meet ya too,” Mika cursed himself for stuttering. “I-Itsuki-san…?”
“Nii-san should be fine.” Nobu laughed, tucking some hair behind his ear. “Itsuki-san would be confusing, since there’s six people in this house who could be called that as well.”
Mika meekly smiled in response to Nobu, then looked back down to his hands below the table. As he continued restlessly playing with his shirtsleeves, Mika’s mind wandered, thinking more about what would be served for dinner, until he heard the dining room door open again.
Just when Mika thought he couldn’t feel more anxious, the entrance of Shu’s father into the dining room proved him wrong. Without a word, Shu’s father found his seat across from Mika and next to Nobu. His presence was much more commanding than Shu’s older brother’s, and his sharp purple eyes reminded Mika of Shu’s, but they seemed to hold none of the same mildness that Mika found in his mentor’s.
”Hello, Dad!” Chou called out, coming in from the kitchen carrying a long serving pan.
“Hello, sweetie,” Shu’s father replied. “What’s that you’re holding?”
“Mom and Jii-chan made gratin together, I’m excited since I haven’t had it in a while~”
“Mm.” Shu’s father looked up from the table where Chou set down the pan, and he was startled to meet Mika’s eyes.
“Father, this is the Kagehira who will be staying with us,” Shu spoke up before his father or Mika could. “Mother has probably informed you already, though?”
“Yes, although I must admit it slipped my mind, with how busy it was at work today…” Shu’s father ran a hand through his silvery blonde hair. “Kagehira, huh?”
Under the intent gaze of Shu’s father, all Mika found himself able to do was nod.
“Well, it’s nice to meet you, make yourself at home.”
“...Thank ya.” Mika said in a soft voice, surprised at himself for not stuttering this time.
“He’s met everyone in my family now, but he’s still wound up with nervous energy…” Shu thought to himself after glancing over at Mika. “I suppose I’ll worry about maintenance later, though… I should focus on what’s happening now.”
“Now that everyone’s here, feel free to start eating.” Shu’s mother addressed everyone in the dining room as she came from the kitchen. After setting down two more plates of food, Shu’s mother found her own seat, then started passing around the dishes that were on the table.
“Kagehira, roll up your sleeves,” Shu grabbed Mika’s hand under the table. “They’ll get in your food otherwise.”
“Ah, my bad Oshi-san.” Mika waited until Shu finished rolling up his sleeve, then quickly rolled up his other sleeve himself.
“Non, just be careful, the food is hot, and…” Shu looked down to adjust his own shirtsleeves. “Please try to eat slowly, so that you can properly enjoy it.”
“Mm, yep~” Mika looked back up and saw Shu’s family all serving themselves, and so he did the same. Mika wasn’t at all used to having a wholesome meal in front of him, so he hesitated to start eating, but as soon as he did, Mika couldn’t help but squint his eyes in delight.
“Oshi-san, this soup’s so good!” Mika hummed. “Don’tcha think so?”
“Yes,” Shu agreed. “Although I’m not the one who made it, so your words of praise should go to my grandfather.”
“I heard the boy,” Shu’s grandfather replied. “I’m glad you enjoy it, Kagehira-kun.”
Shu noticed that Mika’s earlier nerves appeared to be diminishing the more he continued eating, and he let out a sigh of relief, serving himself a little more food to prevent Chou from scolding him for “always eating so little”. He was the last one at the table to start eating, but as soon as he did, Shu found his own lips curving upward. His smile was understated, compared to Mika’s eager grin, but it showed the same warmth and gratitude for the delicious meal.
Dinner lasted an hour or so, and by the time everyone had finished eating, the winter sun had set. Everyone in Shu’s family had now returned to their own rooms for the night, with the exception of Shu, who was in Mika’s room and helping Mika unpack his belongings.
“Thanks for givin’ me a hand, Oshi-san~”
“It’s no trouble,” Shu replied. “You weren’t about to put off unpacking your things until tomorrow though, were you...?”
“Eheh,” Mika sighed. “I guess I was thinkin’ about it, since I’m kinda tired today.”
“Hmph... that’s understandable, I suppose.”
Shu folded shirts and pants from Mika’s suitcase, while Mika took out hygiene supplies, shoes, and other items from his two duffel bags. The two of them continued to unpack in silence, until Mika spoke up.
“Oshi-san, I finished unpackin’ my two bags!”
“That’s good, now wait for me until I finish folding.”
“Mhm, I’m gonna go get ready for bed while you’re doin’ that~” Mika grabbed his pajamas from the bed where Shu had folded them, then headed out of the room toward the bathroom across the hall.
“Oshi-san’s family must be real well-off, huh…” Mika thought to himself upon walking into Shu’s bathroom. “Everything looks so fancy, nothin’ like my bathroom… nah, nothin’ like any room back at my place...”
Mika started brushing his teeth, observing himself in the mirror, as well as looking more around Shu’s bathroom. He thought about how Shu’s bathroom might even be a bigger size than his own bedroom back at home, before finishing with brushing his teeth. Mika threw on his pajamas, then hastily left the bathroom, wanting to return quickly to Shu and to his bed.
As he came back into his room, Mika saw that Shu sat at the edge of his bed, so he scurried over to sit beside him.
“Oshi-san, yer wearin’ pajamas too!”
“Yes, it is nighttime after all.” Shu replied, his voice quieter than usual.
“Hm, the pajamas material looks real nice...” Mika touched Shu’s shoulder to feel his shirt.
“Ah, they’re made of silk,” Shu jumped a bit, taken off his guard by Mika’s sudden presence inside his personal bubble. “One of the most high quality fabrics, and also one of my favorites to work with.”
“Mm, and it’s so soft too!” Mika ran his hand down Shu’s arm, excitedly feeling the material, until he reached the end of the sleeve and unintentionally stroked Shu’s hand.
“Kagehira!” Shu pulled his hand away. “Please refrain from commenting about the feeling of my skin…”
“Well, I was talkin’ about the fabric, but now that ya mention it, Oshi-san’s hand felt soft too~”
Shu, quickly realizing his wrong conclusion, abruptly stood up from Mika’s bed and started walking toward the door.
“I’ll be returning to my own room now... goodnight Kagehira.”
“Wait up, Oshi-san,” Mika got up to stand next to Shu. “I got one question for ya.”
Shu hesitated before opening the door to leave, waiting for Mika to continue.
“Did ya put this stuffed animal on my bed, or was it Itsuki nee-san... Or someone else?”
“Why does it matter?”
“Because I thought it was real nice, and I wanted to thank whoever did.”
“Hmph… you’re welcome.” Shu muttered, turning away from Mika’s now beaming face. “I knew you’d be nervous today, and I had already won that toy in the crane game at the arcade, when I went to the arcade with my class… so.”
“I really appreciate it, he’s a nice lil’ bear~”
“I’m glad you find the toy appealing.” Shu cleared his throat. “Anyway, you don’t seem to need maintenance after all, so I’ll see you in the morning, Kagehira.”
“What makes ya say that, Oshi-san?” Mika’s smile disappeared. “I might not be shakin’ like before, but I… I still got some nerves!”
“You’re hopeless…” Shu frowned, pausing for a moment, before deciding that he didn’t want to see Mika’s disheartened face any longer. “If you promise to sit still on the bed... I’ll fix your hair.”
“I’ll do whatever ya say, Oshi-san~” Mika nodded and followed Shu’s words, now sitting cross-legged on his new bed.
“When is the last time you got a haircut?” Shu sighed, moving to sit across from Mika. “Seriously, your hair is a rat’s nest…”
“Mm, I can’t remember, now that ya mention it...” Mika closed his eyes as Shu ran his hands through his hair. Mika had a peaceful and happy expression, even as Shu began yanking through his tangles; Mika wasn’t sure why, but he never felt much in terms of physical pain.
As Shu continued brushing Mika’s hair, Mika did his best to sit still as Shu asked him to. However, when Mika opened his eyes and saw that Shu’s shirtsleeves were close to his face, he couldn’t help himself from reaching out to touch them, unconsciously submitting to his own nervous tick.
“Oi, Kagehira,” Shu put down his comb. “Stop that, or I won’t be able to finish what I’m doing.”
“Ah, but it feels nice…” Mika continued feeling Shu’s sleeves, disregarding his request.
“Kagehira.” Shu grabbed Mika’s hands and brought them together, holding them still. “What happened to doing as I say?”
“Nnah… I’m sorry for bein’ fidgety, Oshi-san.”
Shu paused for a moment, thinking of how to respond to Mika as he continued to hold his hands together. His vocabulary seemed to fail him as he searched for words to define his current feeling, so in lieu of a response, Shu bent down to kiss Mika’s hands.
“Don’t apologize, just sit still for a while longer and I’ll be done.” Shu let go of Mika’s hands and picked up his comb again, trying to ignore the heat rising in his cheeks.
“Oshi-san...” Mika smiled bashfully. “Yer the best at maintenance, ya know… I’ll never leave Oshi-san’s side, mhm~”
“Whatever you want to do, I suppose.” Shu replied nonchalantly, silently enjoying the current warm atmosphere between himself and Mika. He resumed combing through Mika’s hair, and after he sufficiently got through all of Mika’s tangles, Shu lied on his back on the bed, his hands behind his head.
“Your hair is much too long, it needs a trim.”
“Yeah, yer probably right,” Mika sighed. “I always got it cut by the same person back in my neighborhood, but it’s been a real long time since they did.”
“Is that so...” Shu muttered, adjusting himself slightly when Mika moved to lie down beside him on the bed.
“Anyway, Oshi-san,” Mika looked up at the ceiling. “Whaddya wanna do tomorrow, since it’s winter break n’ all?”
“Well, I could trim your hair tomorrow.”
“For real?” Mika turned on his side to face Shu. “I didn’t know that ya could cut hair, Oshi-san.”
“I cut my own hair, so I’ll just do mine tomorrow along with yours.”
“Mm, sounds good to me~” Mika replied, now holding on to Shu’s arm. Shu stiffened at first from Mika’s touch, but when Mika held his arm tighter, Shu exhaled and reached his other arm around Mika to bring him closer.
“Also, if you had been more observant when we were in the kitchen earlier, you would’ve seen the new croissant oven I bought.” Shu said with a proud smile.
“Wah, you got an oven just for bakin’ croissants?”
“We could make some tomorrow, after I deal with your hair.”
“Yeah, let’s do it~” Mika hummed, moving slightly so he could rest his head on Shu’s shoulder.
As Shu lazily ran his fingers through Mika’s now combed hair, his eyelids started to feel heavy. He had forgotten about his earlier plans to return to his room while he was brushing Mika’s hair, but now that he lied in such a comfortable position with Mika, he disregarded his previous wishes. Shu lied more on his side so that he could give Mika a kiss on his forehead, then he closed his eyes to fall asleep.
Mika found himself starting to feel sleepy as well, so he shut his eyes, but he wasn’t sure if he really wanted to fall asleep or not; everything that had happened in the day somehow seemed better than what he could dream. The rise and fall of Shu’s chest started to get slower, and once he suspected that Shu was asleep, Mika opened his eyes, wanting to do one more thing before he fell asleep himself.
“Goodnight, Oshi-san…” Mika blushed as he returned a chaste kiss to Shu’s cheek. “...I love ya.”