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prince's diaries

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   “Tell me a secret,” Ren says suddenly.

   Goro stirs, his absent gaze lifting from their joined hands and refocusing on Ren’s face where it’s smushed into his shoulder. His hair is flattened funny on the side, and Goro’s sure there’s a print on his own cheek from where it’s been pressed into Ren’s head.

   The movie’s still playing across the living room, the second in their mini-marathon, but he’s been half asleep for at least the past twenty minutes. Hopefully Ren doesn’t mind – but he looks a little bored now, blinking owlishly at Goro from behind those ridiculous glasses like a cat deciding on a new toy.

   Goro, it seems, is the toy tonight. “A secret,” he repeats.

   Ren nods. “Or anything,” he says in his soft voice. “Just something little.”

   “Will you tell me one too?”

   Ren nods again. “We should know each other better.”

   Goro laughs. “You don’t think we’re close?” he asks, and gestures at their hands. “Are you forgetting something?”

   “Something,” Ren deadpans.

   “The… nature of our relationship.”

   “I’ll die before I forget you’re my boyfriend,” Ren mumbles, eyes light and crinkly at the corners, and he squishes his face a little harder into Goro’s shoulder. “I mean because you’re my boyfriend.”

   “You think we don’t know each other well enough?”

   Ren shrugs. “Don’t know about enough,” he muses. “Pretty well. I could never know enough about you, though.”

   “Mm. That’s disgustingly cheesy,” Goro says, smiling sweetly down at him, and Ren laughs in some small delight. “All right. What would you like to know?”

   Ren hums.

   “Whatever you like,” he decides.

   “Cop-out,” Goro chides. “Well, have it your way. Does it have to be a big secret?”

   Ren shakes his head. “Just something I don’t know yet.”

   “Okay,” says Goro. He lifts their hands to tap a finger against his chin. Ren pokes him in the cheek and Goro nudges him aside with his shoulder until Ren falls back with a small laugh. “Menace.”

   “Hurry up.”

   “I’m thinking.” Goro presses a kiss to the side of Ren’s head, and the familiar scent gives him an idea. “You smell like coffee,” he announces.

   Ren shoots him an unimpressed look. “That’s not a secret.”

   “The secret,” says Goro, “is that I actually always preferred tea.”

   He revels in Ren’s offended gasp, laughs when Ren presses a hand to his heart in distress. “Did you.”

   “Mm-hmm.” Goro smirks at him. “I only developed a taste for coffee after I met you.”

   Ren beams at him. “Sappy,” he decides, and Goro laughs. “I don’t have a driver’s license.”

   Goro snorts. “I’ve seen your driving. I’m not surprised. I can’t cook.”

   “Really? Anything?”

   “Not well.” Goro rubs the back of his head, a little embarrassed. “I can poach eggs.”


   “And instant ramen. I can follow a recipe if I absolutely have to.”

   “That counts as cooking.”

   “Mm. I’m sure I could learn if I were so inclined, but I never get around to it. I’m quite well known in local takeout spots, but they think it’s simply because I enjoy the culture.”

   Ren nods, thoughtful. “You’re trying to get yourself invited to dinner, huh,” he says.

   “Never,” Goro smiles. “Am I invited?”

   “Always. I did gymnastics as a kid,” says Ren. “Specialised in rhythmic.”

   “That explains your flair for the dramatic, at least,” Goro says, and Ren snickers. “Can you sing?”

   “Everyone can sing,” says Ren. “Can I sing well?”

   “Can you?”

   “I can’t be my own judge,” says Ren.

   “Hmm,” says Goro. “If you want to go out for karaoke, you’ll have to ask me properly.”

   “Fine. Can we –”

   “Maybe. I’m running out of facts.”

   “Secrets,” Ren corrects. “Okay. Let’s play twenty questions.”

   Goro snorts. “Are we teenagers?”

   “We’re emotionally repressed enough to be.” Ren shoots him a flirty look. “So, beautiful. You single?”

   Goro shoots him a tired look. Ren’s shit-eating grin does not slide off. “Soon to be,” Goro says primly, and Ren cracks up. “That’s one. My turn?”

   “Go ahead.”

   “Do you play any instruments?” Goro asks.

   “That’s all you want to know?”

   Goro sniffs. “You don’t know how to play this game,” he says. “You have to build up to it, you know. My next question is whether you’re a virgin,” and allows himself a satisfied smile as Ren tips back and howls with laughter. “Answer the question.”

   “All right,” Ren wheezes, steadying himself on the couch cushion so he won’t slide onto the floor. He manages to arrange his face into a ridiculously exaggerated seductive expression and croons, “I’m pretty good at the clarinet.”

   “Oh, come on,” Goro sighs, and Ren snickers. “Really?”

   “Nah. Piano, violin, the classics. Trombone,” Ren adds, “one hit wonder.”

   “How do you -?”

   “School jazz band was short a man for a performance,” Ren laughs. “Didn’t care I couldn’t play.”

   “What did you do?” asks Goro, alarmed.

   Ren shrugged. “Picked it up and blew,” he says. Goro rolls his eyes. “I think I sounded good.”

   “I have doubts,” Goro says, and Ren gives him a hurt look. “Fine, I’m sure you were beautiful.”

   “Always,” Ren purrs. “What about you?”

   “Is that your second question?” Ren nods. “Mm. Piano, briefly. I sang in high school.”

   “You sang?” asks Ren, delighted.

   “Still want to go to karaoke?” Goro asks, snickering.

   “Even more now. Is that all?”

   Goro hesitates.

   “In the interests of honesty, remember,” Ren reminds him.

   Goro sighs. “Fine,” he says. “The singing was for a music class, so I also…”

   “Music?” Ren looks surprised. “What, like classical?”

   Goro hesitates some more.


   “Contemporary,” Goro says reluctantly. He winces when Ren lets out a loud “HA”, and shoves him into the arm of the couch. “Be quiet. It was fun.”

   “So,” Ren manages, “so, what? Electric?”

   Goro shakes his head.

   “Bass? Keytar?

   “No,” Goro snaps. “…Percussion.”

   Ren gapes at him, and he looks away, reddening. “You’re a drummer?”

   “I’d hardly call –”

   “You played drums in a rock band? Could you do tricks? Did you headbang? Did you have long hair –”

   “All right, that’s enough,” Goro says, but Ren’s having the time of his life.

   “I’m dating a drummer,” he crows. “That’s hot. Can I make a joke about banging, or –”

   “No,” Goro hisses, mortified. “No. I’m not a drummer. All I did was keep time –”

   “You can keep my time any… uh, time.”

   “That doesn’t make any –”

   “It’s your turn to ask a question,” Ren interjects, and Goro rolls his eyes.

   “How many are we on now?” he asks. “You just wasted about ten asking me if I played the keytar.”

   “Hey, that doesn’t count,” Ren protests. “If that counts, then you asking how many we’re on counts too.”

   “You didn’t even answer it.”

   Ren remains silent.

   “You don’t know,” Goro says.

   “Seventeen,” Ren suggests.

   “Okay, it’s definitely not sevent-”

   “My turn. What’s your biggest fear?”

   “That’s a step up.” Goro laughs again, this time taking on a slightly wary tone. “Why don’t you guess?”

   “Failure,” Ren suggests. “Obscurity.”

   “Jellyfish,” says Goro.

   Ren frowns, taken aback for all of half a second. “No.”

   “No,” agrees Goro. “What’s yours?”


   “Cicadas,” says Goro.

   Ren wrinkles his nose. “Don’t like them. But no.”

   “You don’t like cicadas? I was joking.”

   “They’re gross. With their weird shells –” Ren stops and shudders. “Next, please.”

   “Being ordinary,” Goro suggests. “Being forgotten?”

   “Indifference,” Ren corrects. “Complacency. Maybe. And cicadas. After this conversation.”

   “Ha! I knew it!”

   “You were joking! It doesn’t count.” Ren whacks him with a cushion. “Are you scared of spiders?”

   “Of course not,” Goro scoffs. “I’m not four years old.”

   “Okay. There’s been a big one in the corner of the kitchen for two days. Can you take it out for me?”

   Goro’s eyelid twitches. “Are you scared of it?”

   Ren considers.

   “Let’s say yes,” he says, grinning. “A good boyfriend would help.”

   “He probably would,” Goro mutters. He gets up. “Fine.”

   “If you admit you’re scared I won’t make you do it.”

   “I’m not scared.” Goro goes downstairs.

   Twenty minutes later, he returns. “It’s gone,” he says loftily. “You no longer have anything to fear from that particular spider.”

   “My hero,” Ren smiles, reaching for him. “The paper bags are in the bottom drawer, by the way, if you want to hyperventilate without delay next time.”

   Goro’s mouth forms a very thin line, and he doesn’t reply. “I think we’ve exhausted our questions,” he says stiffly. “Let’s move on.”

   Ren laughs out loud. “Okay,” he says, nudging Goro’s cheek with the top of his head like a cat. “Truth or dare.”

   Goro sighs theatrically. “How much longer will you insist on playing at being schoolboys?”

   “Until I get you into a uniform. Ow –” Ren dives out of the way of Goro’s swipe and slips off the sofa onto the floor. “Ow.”

   “Are you alright?” Goro peers down at him. Ren takes the opportunity to collapse backwards, limbs splayed out starfish style.

   “I’m dead,” he announces. “You got me.”

   Goro considers him. “Okay,” he says nonchalantly, and stands up. “I suppose I’ll go home.”

   “You’re not even going to try and cover up the murder?”

   Goro leans down and gently places a cushion over his face.

   “I’ll be taking your leftovers,” he says brightly, and starts back down the stairs.

   “No, come back. Goro –” Ren scrambles up to his knees. “Come back. Play truth or dare with me.”

   “An offer I can’t refuse,” Goro drawls, still standing at the top of the stairs. “If you want me to stay, you’ll have to convince me with a good question. Truth.”

   Ren sits back on his haunches, a Cheshire grin plastered over his face. “Do you think I’m pretty?”

   Goro glares at him, thoroughly unimpressed.

   “You have to tell the tr–”

   “I know.” Goro thinks. “Yes.”

   “Oh!” Ren looks delighted. “I was expecting you to find a loophole –”

   “Pretty annoying.”

   “Oh.” Ren scowls. “That’s so cliché.”

   “So is asking if I think you’re pretty,” Goro counters.

   “That wasn’t a real answer. I get a do-over.”

   “Fine,” says Goro, coming back to sit on the sofa again. “Dare this time, then.”

   Ren offers him a lazy grin. “Dare you to kiss me,” he coos.

   “Oh, come on.”

   Ren scooches forward, leaning his arms on Goro’s knees and making kissy noises.

   Goro rolls his eyes. “You’re not good at this game,” he declares, and leans down to give his boyfriend a kiss. “You’re supposed to make me do things I wouldn’t agree to do otherwise.”

   “Well. In that case

   “No. My turn.”

   “Aw. Dare.”

   Goro yawns and flops back against the back of the seat. “I dare you,” he says, “to go out and buy dinner.”

   Ren sits up, affronted. “Hey,” he says, “you’re cheating.”

   “How? The rules are such that if you choose dare, you have to do whatever I say.” Goro looks smug. “And, unlike you, I know how to use the game to my benefit. So, off you go.” He stretches. “Handmade noodles would be lovely, if you can get some.”

   Ren pouts at him for a few seconds. “Fine,” he says. “I’ll go get dinner. Because I’m a good boyfriend.”

   “Because the rules say so,” Goro corrects. Ren slumps against him again, quietly petulant, and Goro laughs and runs his hand through Ren’s hair. “Come back quickly so we can finish the movie.”

   “Should restart the movie,” Ren says, glancing at the screen. They’ve missed about half of it by now. “I’ll be back soon.”

   “See you later.”

   Ren nods, then brightens. “Wait, one more round.”

   “That’s not how this works. You haven’t finished your dare yet.” Goro shakes his head. “I’m never going to get my noodles.”

   “One more,” Ren insists.

   “Fine,” Goro sighs. “Dare.”

   Ren gazes at him, poker-faced but for his eyes, which are alight with challenge. “Tell me you love me?”

   Goro purses his lips. “You still don’t understand this game.”

   “Oh, I understand perfectly.” Ren crosses his legs. “Something you wouldn’t want to do otherwise? Talking about your feelings is up there.”

   “You know it doesn’t count if it’s under duress,” Goro counters.

   Ren tilts his head, an innocent smile on his face. “Maybe. But it’s still fun to hear you say it.”

   “You act like I’ve never said it,” Goro mutters. “I’ve done so before.”

   “Ahuh. You mumble it. It’s cute.” Ren lays his head down on Goro’s lap, looking expectant. “C’mon.”

   Goro frowns. “Well,” he says in a low voice. “I.”

   Ren softens, chuckling, and reaches up to tug on Goro’s hair. “Don’t worry, I’m only teasing,” he says, getting to his feet. “You don’t have to say it. I already know –”

   “I still think you don’t understand the game,” Goro sniffs. “You’re supposed to get me to do something I don’t want to do.”


   “I love you,” Goro says. “Please go get my noodles now.”

   Ren blinks. “Oh,” he says. “You didn’t mumble.”

   “I never mumble.”

   “I love you too,” says Ren, glowing.

   Goro ducks his head to hide his fond expression. “I didn’t dare you to say it back.”

   “True. Guess you owe me one now.”

   “That’s not how this works,” Goro begins, and then sighs. “Fine, I’ll come with you to get drinks. How’s that?”

   “Let’s just eat out, then,” Ren suggests.

   “What about the movie?”

   “Forget the movie. I was just going to keep talking over it, anyway.”

   “You have no sense of etiquette,” Goro mutters, getting to his feet and tugging Ren’s arm toward the stairs.

   “It’s not my fault. My attentions are – elsewhere.”

   Goro’s eyes glint playfully as they fall into step. “How so?” he murmurs, teasing.

   The smile they share when Ren turns to him is full of some impossible warmth. “Why would I want to watch some movie,” he says. “when I could be talking to you?”