"I want you to take my virginity." He said it quickly, hoping to get an equally quick yes or no so he wouldn't have to further elaborate. Hopefully a no, because deep down he knew this was a selfish request. Please, Nuriko, I can't be with Miaka so will you be my second choice? Especially considering Nuriko was the closest friend he had among his fellow Celestial Warriors.
It had been five days since Miaka had let him down gently, and he was finally over it. He'd sent her into Tamahome's arms and promised to support her and her happiness no matter what. By now, he'd come to accept that he'd only been in love with the idea of the Priestess of Suzaku, not so much Miaka herself.
But he'd spent the past five years refusing to court and rejecting his concubines, determined to save himself for his fantasy. And after five years with only his hand to comfort him on lonely nights, Hotohori was, quite frankly, ready to explode.
"Your Highness," Nuriko said evenly, "you can't mean to tell me all of your concubines have refused you." Right, the concubines. Why hadn't he asked them? Last time Hotohori had checked, he wasn't even interested in men that way.
But Nuriko was different. Back when he'd been posing as a woman, Hotohori hadn't given him a second glance, but finding out "Kourin" was a man had...Done Things to his brain. Mainly, it was the idea that any man could be as beautiful as Hotohori himself. Oh, he'd gone through all of the usual stages, mostly denial, but facts were facts.
He'd loved the Priestess of Suzaku. He could still feel Miaka's kisses, warm and sweet. But Nuriko was beautiful, and maybe, just maybe, part of him desired Nuriko in general.
But that's still no excuse to take advantage of your friend, Hotohori. Just go to the harem, they'd be glad to relieve your tension.
"Well?" Nuriko's tone wasn't demanding, just curious, but it didn't quell Hotohori's shame in the slightest.
"I don't know," he sighed. "Forget I even asked. I'm sorry, Nuriko, I don't even know what I-"
And then Nuriko kissed him, nearly knocking him to the floor in the process. It was eager, a little clumsy, kind of forceful, and Hotohori felt his reservations fall by the wayside at least for the moment. He gripped the bedpost to keep from toppling over under the force of that kiss, not to mention Nuriko's considerable strength.
"Your Highness," Nuriko murmured as he broke apart from the kiss, "I would be honored to fulfill your request." The reservations and the guilt crept back, Hotohori trying not to look Nuriko directly in the eye.
"You don't have to. I was just being-"
"Hotohori," Nuriko said, "I once said I would do anything to ensure your happiness. Even if I was parading as Kourin at the time, I meant it from the bottom of both hers and my own heart." He smiled. "If this is what you truly desire, then I will fulfill it."
You're not interested in men like that. You'd be using your friend. One or both of you could come to regret it.
And of course, the elephant in the room.
He has real feelings for you. Are you willing to exploit those for just one night of meaningless pleasure? Even if you did like men that way, who's to say you'll ever return his love?
"I don't want to take advantage of you," he finally said.
"You wouldn't be." Nuriko gently pushed him onto the bed, squeezing his hand. "I'll ask one more time. Is this what you want?"
Hotohori swallowed. On some level, he desired Nuriko, regardless of where his heart lay at the moment. He trusted Nuriko. And if you really wish to respect his feelings, you'll understand that he'd never do this just to make someone else happy. Nuriko may be devoted, but he's not a pushover.
He pushed aside the reservations again, and nodded slowly.
"Then let me." Nuriko stroked his cheek with his free hand. "I promise, I'll make this the best night I can for you. On my honor as a Suzaku Celestial Warrior, and as your friend." This time when Nuriko kissed him, it was soft and quick, carrying the promise of better things to come.
Undressing was a slow and painstaking task for the fashion-conscious Nuriko, one that Hotohori quietly appreciated. Even an emperor's casual robes should be in pristine condition, after all. Piece by piece, everything folded neatly beside the bed, until they were completely bared to one another.
And for a moment all Hotohori could do was stare. Bathing with others, regardless of their gender, was Taboo among royalty, so he'd never gotten a good look at another nude man before. Nuriko had taken his hair down, letting it spill over his slender, well-toned shoulders; unbraided, it practically reached his hips. His slight figure belied his incredible strength, and the mark of the Willow complemented the slight tan of his skin.
"Hotohori...?" For a split second Hotohori was sure he saw Nuriko blush, despite the ever-confident look in his eyes.
"You're even more beautiful than me." Nuriko laughed softly.
"It must have taken great courage to be able to say such a thing, Your Highness."
"Hotohori." He brushed his fingertips against Nuriko's. "Please, as long as we're alone like this, call me Hotohori." Nuriko blushed again, but nodded firmly.
"As you wish." And with a simple nudge they were both on the bed again, Nuriko's fingertips against his chin. "Let me know if I'm going too fast, or if you're uncomfortable."
"Of course." This time, Hotohori initiated the kiss.
It was amazing, Hotohori thought, that hands capable of ripping through doors like they were paper could be so gentle. He could sense the restraint in every touch; fingertips stroking along his chest and teasing his nipples to hardness, tracing along his spine, wrapping around his manhood, stroking him nearly to completion...and then, Nuriko was pulling away.
"I don't suppose you have anything I can use for this next step," he said. "If I'd known we'd be doing this I'd have come prepared!" Hotohori couldn't help laughing a little.
"I have healing salve." He gestured to his dressing table. "It's said to keep the skin smooth and fresh, so I imagine it would work just as well for this." His advisors often voiced their concern at him taking such measures when his skin hadn't the slightest wrinkle or blemish, but Hotohori took no chances when it came to his complexion.
"This little red jar?" Nuriko held it up with a look of recognition. "I've used it myself." Of course, Hotohori thought. Only Nuriko would understand the importance of flawless skin as much as he did.
"How should we do this?" Hotohori asked as Nuriko returned to the bed, the jar uncorked.
"Lie on your stomach," Nuriko instructed. "It hurts more if you're on your back." That was another reason he'd asked this favor of Nuriko, he'd heard servants whisper of their encounters with "Kourin" and knew it would be best to ask someone with experience.
So he obediently turned over onto his stomach, felt his hair being brushed to the side. Nuriko's hand rested against his buttocks, followed by a slick finger pressing between them. He bit his lip, stifling a wince as the finger began to slide into him.
"Am I hurting you?"
"It feels strange," Hotohori admitted. "But don't stop."
"Try to relax, it'll be easier that way," Nuriko said, leaning closer to kiss the back of his neck. That definitely helped; Hotohori did his best not to tense as Nuriko's finger pressed deeper into him, carefully probing. "Think you can handle a second one?"
"I think so, yes." Hotohori could not deny that for all the unfamiliarity, this did feel uncommonly good. The second finger slid into him, Hotohori groaning as he felt himself being stretched by the thrusting and scissoring motions. His groans became muffled shouts as he felt the gentle press of teeth to his shoulder, Nuriko reaching under him with his free hand to toy with a nipple. Never again would he question the existence of male nipples.
All too soon, though, those fingers were slowly withdrawing, and Hotohori knew what would follow them. He heard the jar being set down on the dressing table, felt Nuriko's hands on his hips and a kiss to his neck.
"Are you ready?"
"Yes," Hotohori murmured, his heart racing with both anticipation and nerves. A penis was much larger than fingers, and while Nuriko was hardly gigantic he wasn't exactly lacking in that department. Relax, he reminded himself, breathing deeply, and soon he felt the tip of Nuriko's erection pressing against him.
"Let me know if it's painful or uncomfortable," Nuriko whispered. "I'll be careful, though, I promise."
It did hurt for about a split second, even though Nuriko entered him slowly. It wasn't the piercing, tearing sensation he'd anticipated, but he ended up biting his lip against the discomfort. Think of it as stinging salve on a wound, the sensation will pass. Still, he was relieved when Nuriko kept still for several moments once he was fully in.
"Are you..." Nuriko trailed off, reaching up to stroke his face. "I'm not hurting you, am I?" Hotohori nodded, feeling the discomfort begin to fade.
At first, it was almost scary just how incredible this felt. Nuriko's thrusts were slow and deliberate, his hands and lips caressing every inch of skin he could reach. Occasionally, Nuriko would whisper something sultry in his ear, ask him how it felt, and all Hotohori could do was plead for him not to let this stop.
"So eager," Nuriko purred, "so submissive. I rather like the sight of you this way, your highness."
"Harder," Hotohori managed to gasp, "faster. I won't break, I want to feel everything you can offer...!" His last word trailed off in a sharp shout as he was rewarded with a deeper thrust and Nuriko moving faster, fingers pressing firmly into his hips. I'm going to have bruises tomorrow, aren't I. For once, the thought of his flawless skin bearing such marks excited him. "N-Nuriko, Gods...!"
"Mm, you sound so good right now. You don't know how long I've wanted to hear my name on your lips like this!"
"Nuriko-!" Even in the throes of such pleasure, there was no missing the sincerity, the emotion in those words. "I'll say it as much as you want to hear it, Nuriko, Nuriko-!" The hands suddenly left his hips and he was embraced, one hand settling on his throbbing erection. And then, the next thrust brushed a spot that sent a jolt of electricity through his entire being.
"Hotohori," Nuriko whispered, "I want to hear you when you come...let me hear your pleasure!" Another thrust, striking that same spot.
"You will...!" It wouldn't be long now, and he could feel Nuriko's erection swelling inside him. He had to be close, too, if the scrolls he'd read in the past were anything to go by. "Nuriko-!" And suddenly everything was white, flames seemed to burst through every pore of him. This was far beyond the times he'd stroked himself to completion to his own fantasies, and it was only magnified by the hot, sticky feeling of Nuriko releasing into him moments later. His head spun with sensation, his heart raced, all he was aware of for some time was the warm body atop his, the brush of silky hair against his bare, sweaty skin.
It seemed like ages until he was fully aware once again. By now, Nuriko had withdrawn and Hotohori was aware of just how sore, sticky, and sweaty he was. His hair was also a tiny bit mussed, despite Nuriko's efforts to prevent that.
But none of that could compare to the lingering euphoria, the knowledge that he'd just lost his virginity. No, he thought, that was too glib a way to describe what had just happened. He'd never known it could be this passionate, this intense...and at the same time, so...loving.
"I enjoyed it, too," Nuriko said, draping an arm over his shoulders. Hotohori rolled onto his side and faced his smiling friend. Nuriko's own hair was in need of brushing, and he wondered if he would let Hotohori braid it.
"Thank you," he said. Nuriko beamed a little.
"It was my pleasure, Hotohori," he said. "Now, we should probably clean up so you can have a bath. You're going to be stiff for a while, so..."
"I assume it always still hurts a little afterwards the first time?" Hotohori said.
"Only a little. Thankfully, you didn't bleed." Nuriko's smile became pensive. "I'd never forgive myself if that happened." Before Hotohori could answer, Nuriko was standing up and putting his robe on, walking over to the wash stand.
"So if you don't mind my asking...how did you gain this experience while you were, ah..."
"Hiding my true self?" Nuriko quickly returned to the bed with a damp cloth, which he began to run up and down Hotohori's back. "Even a lady in the imperial harem can wish to remain a virgin until marriage. I just exploited certain loopholes, and a few of the servants were curious enough to indulge me." Hotohori couldn't help but chuckle a little.
"I know." Nuriko worked busily, doing his best to get every trace of sweat and seed possible. Hotohori watched as he began to clean himself off, then as he grabbed for a hairbrush. "Let me fix your hair. It wouldn't do for you to have tangles."
"I could say the same for you," Hotohori said as he carefully stood up and put his robe on. He carefully took the brush from Nuriko, gesturing to the nearby chair. "May I?"
"Ah..." Nuriko seemed surprised, but sat down and nodded. "Thank you, Hotohori."
Neither of them said anything for the next several moments, Hotohori braiding while Nuriko seemed to luxuriate in the attention.
"Um...Hotohori?" Nuriko murmured, suddenly seeming shy. "Listen, you don't...that is, what I yelled out in the heat of the moment, I was just overcome." Oh. Hotohori paused, suddenly remembering a faint I love you shouted from the distance at that moment. He hadn't been sure who'd said it, or even if he'd really heard it.
"It's not that I didn't mean it! It's just...well, just because I said it doesn't mean..." Nuriko sighed, and all the uncertainty and guilt from before came rushing back. Nuriko, who had just done him such an intimate favor, given him such pleasure, had real feelings for him. He did this to make me happy. He knows it's never going to happen again, but he still loves me.
"Don't feel obligated to me," Nuriko interrupted. "Please. I went in knowing this was my one and only chance." The mirror reflected a sad smile as Hotohori finished the braid and tied the ribbon. "I know that it could never work for us, not when the country needs you to marry and have an heir in the future."
"Well, yes..." Hotohori put a hand on Nuriko's shoulder. "That would make any lasting relationship between us...difficult."
"And I understand." Nuriko stood up, taking the brush and carefully smoothing Hotohori's hair into place. "The fact that you trusted me with something like this, and that we could have one night together...that's enough. That's more than I ever expected, and it's all I'll ever need."
But what if it's not enough for me? Hotohori found himself thinking, much to his shock.
"It's fine," Nuriko said, setting the brush down and pulling Hotohori into an embrace. "Really. I love you, Hotohori, and I'll probably always love you. But as a silly but wise girl once said, you can't force someone to love you back."
"Miaka," Hotohori murmured, returning the hug, resting his cheek against Nuriko's head. "She's right, of course."
"And it's not the end of the world if the person you love doesn't love you back." Nuriko sighed. "It hurts, yes, but...life goes on. And you and I will always be friends."
"Ah, Hotohori? You can let go now," Nuriko said after a moment. No, let me hold you for just a little longer, please, Hotohori wanted to say, but kept quiet and loosened his hold.
"Thank you, Nuriko. For tonight."
"It was my pleasure." Nuriko smiled, more brightly this time as he dressed. "Now, you should take that bath. It really will help with the soreness." Hotohori decided against asking Nuriko to join him.
"I'll see you tomorrow morning," he said. "Sleep well, Nuriko."
He watched his friend and one-time lover turn away and walk down the hall, his figure growing smaller and smaller until he disappeared into the distance. Hotohori sighed, glancing at the still-messy bed, the lingering musk of lovemaking still filling his senses.
Did he suddenly love Nuriko? Was he simply overcome by the intensity of what had happened tonight? Could feelings lay dormant for a time before suddenly being brought to the surface?
I'm overthinking this. I'm just emotional from earlier, a hot bath and a good night's sleep will ease my mind and tomorrow everything will be as it was. No strings, no obligations.
Just two good friends.
Hotohori sighed, gathered his nightclothes, and headed for the baths.