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Otani Week Collection

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Chapter Text

A couple’s vacation was meant to be enjoyed either at the beach or on a futon. There was nothing better than sweaty summer sex and the ocean breeze cooling your skin in the afterglow.

Ogata Hyakunosuke planned the perfect getaway. He took leave when his lover scheduled his off days; paid for a cottage with a private beach, and then stocked it with enough lube and sake to last the entire summer.

“It’s been four days, Genji,” the sand on his bare feet left prints on the bedroom floor. “Get out here and enjoy the sun,”

Tanigaki strolled in wearing a yukata and socks; his perfect fuzzy body covered in sores.

“Explain something to me,” his eyes narrowed. “How were you never vaccinated at school?”

This was his fault for sure, but apologizing wasn’t his business.

“I was home schooled for years, never had to worry about that stuff,” he said, as the Matagi folded his arms and went silent. “I didn’t even know I had it until the day before we left,”

“And you didn’t think to tell me?”

“I got a fever and little rash on my ass,”

“Do you have any idea how disgusting this is, ’Nosuke?”

He tried his best not to smirk, “Is it still between your toes?”

“It’s in my hair, all of my hairs, it’s everywhere!”

“If you got vaccinated,” he said. “How’d you catch it from me?”

“Vaccinated adults can get infected if they’re exposed to adults and children who’ve never been vaccinated,” the Matagi’s steely voice unnerved him. “When I was a kid, I got chickenpox, and like you, it was just a rash and a stuffy nose,”

“You still don’t want to swim?” he asked.

“Would you put saltwater on an open zit, ‘Nosuke,”

He curled his lip, “No, I wouldn’t, Genji,”

Silent as always, the Matagi stalked away.

“If you didn’t have it that bad as a kid,” he called out. “Does that mean if I catch it again, it’ll be nasty like you are right now?”

Genjirou paced back into the bedroom and stared at him with that look he gave those oversized cupcakes in the bakery window downtown. Without a word, he peeled the yukata from his muscular shoulders and let it fall to the floor.

“Tanigaki,” he raised a finger. “No!”

“That’s why you brought me here, isn’t it?” the Matagi was using that voice he always used when his clothes were off, and there was nothing to watch on Hulu. “Come on, ‘Nosuke, you can use a rubber if you want,”

“Don’t don’t this to me, Genji, don’t get on your knees,” he begged as his lover dropped before him and pulled at the hem of his bathing trunks. “You goddam Matagi, don’t you dare open your mouth-”

Chapter Text

A burly transfer from Kitaakita, muscular stock isn’t native to Ibaraki.

The name T A N I G A K I stretches across the back of those broad shoulders. There’s no extra letter before it because there’s no other Tanigaki on this team.

You’re a wall that nothing passes through. Your blades are carbon, not stainless. Your jockstrap is bigger and stronger because the only thing more important than protecting the goal is protecting the goaltender’s meat.

The whistle blows, and off comes the mask. Hair soaked to the scalp, your skin shines under the arena lights.

That’s right—I’m staring at you. I don’t sit my ass on these benches three days a week to watch my pampered brother slap a rubber puck around the ice. Lift the hem of that jersey and dab at those chocolate eyes. Let’s see that dense middle, corded with muscle and covered in hair.

So much hair.

Glide your way over here so I can smell you, Matagi.

“You’re staring at me again,” even your voice is thick.

That’s right—I’m not answering you. My shoes cost more than you make a month steaming noodles at that ramen cart on campus. You can make some real cash if you strip to your underwear and clean my high-rise every Saturday.

I’m your superior in every way, and that makes your mouth water.

“Want to see all of me?”

That’s right—toss that stick aside and pull off that shirt. You’re a hairy monster, even your underarms are loaded. My dick is out when you mount that rail and tip your upper body over it.

Open that mouth, show me that tongue—

“—brother?”

Hyakunosuke slowly turned, “What is it, Yuusaku?”

“Practice is over,” he said, stick in hand.

“You’re standing right next to me in public,”

“Sorry, brother,” he sank onto the bench beside him. “I forgot,”

“How would you like it if I forgot to bring you?”

“I appreciate you bringing me, brother,” he laughed, mouth-guard around his neck like a charm. “If father found out I still played after he forbid it-”

“—He’s unreasonable, and you’re a grown man,”

“That’s what I told my mom,” he said.

“Your mother knows I bring you here?”

“I’m not allowed to talk to you,” he blurted.

“Hanazawa!” the sexy Matagi approached.

“Hey, Tanigaki!” the lumbering fool forgot the golden rule and stood.

“Yuusaku-”

“—Sorry brother,” he quickly sat back down.

It’s not easy being hairy in Japan.

All the hawks love smooth sparse bodies. They window shop like high-school girls, never buying, touching, or tasting.

“I’m glad you waited for me,” blood red briefs stretch tight over that chunky ass.

Damn that bulge is begging for my hand.

That’s right—spread those hairy thighs and straddle my lap.

“Am I too heavy?” –who cares I love it. “I want to suck you until you co-”

“—come, brother?”

Hyakunosuke slowly turned, “What, Yuusaku?”

“Can Genji come with us?” he said. “He lives along the way, we could drop him off,”

“I don’t have a back seat, Yuusaku,”

“Wait,” Tanigaki grasped the railing, “Is that your Porsche in the parking lot?”

“He just got it,” Yuusaku bragged. “It’s so fast!”

“Go shower up,” Hyakunosuke stood. “I’ll drop Yuusaku off and come back for you,”

Brown eyes softened, “I don’t want to put you out, Sir,”

“Don’t call me, Sir,” he said politely. “I’m only a few years older than you,”

“I forgot,” the bear cast a boyish grin and rubbed at his ear, playfully. “But I don’t want to put you out,”

“I wouldn’t offer if I were put out,” he slipped on his sunglasses. “Just be ready when I get back, maybe I’ll let you drive it,”

Tanigaki’s handsome face came alive, “No shit!”

“Hey,” his brother pouted. “You never let me drive it,”

“You don’t have a license, Yuusaku,”

“Neither does Genji,” he countered.

“I got a permit,” said the Matagi. “It’s for riding quads in the mountains, but it makes me more road-ready than you,”

“That’s not fair, brother,” he tried to stand, but a firm hand on his shoulder kept him seated. “I want to drive, too,”

“I’ll think about it, Yuusaku,”

He watched Tanigaki coast back across the ice as they walked up the bleachers.

“Saturday night, right?” came a throaty holler.

Hyakunosuke turned, “Sure-”

“—Shit!” Yuusaku cried. “I asked, and my father said no sleep-overs,”

“Blood Hockey 3,” annoyed never looked so good. “New levels, ‘Yoos!”

“I couldn’t get a copy,” his brother scowled. “My father thinks any form of hockey is-”

“—I bought it, Yuusaku,”

The younger man clamored down and got too close as always. “For the PlayStation, brother?”

“You can come over this weekend,” Hyakunosuke stepped around him and ventured toward the exit. “Play all night if you want,”

“My brother lives downtown,” he bragged.

“No shit,” damn that voice was deep. “In one of those high-scrapers?”

“I got an extra futon and a big screen tv,” Hyakunosuke shouted. “We’ll have some beers and game for the night,”

Yuusaku stared up at him like an expectant puppy, “Are you sure, big brother?”

“Move it before I change my mind, Yuusaku,” he pitched the car keys at him and then steered clear as his spindly legs darted past.

“I’ll be out front, Mister Ogata,” that voice made him hard.

“Genji?” he yelled back. “Just be ready in ten,”

Tanigaki’s gaze lingered, “I’m driving, right?”

“If you don’t have to be home,” he said. “We can take turns,”

**

Chapter Text

The front door opened and closed in the hall.

“Ogata?” that voice called.

“In the kitchen, Tanigaki,” he quickly set the cooked rotisserie inside the pan before shoving it in the hot oven.

“Did you order delivery?” he appeared with his shoes off.

“No,” Hyakunosuke met him in the archway. “I cooked tonight,”

Dark eyes regarded him with suspicion, “You used the range for something other than lighting your cigarette?”

“I’m not helpless, Tanigaki,” he spat, arms folded over his chest. “I was your superior officer for two years, and during that time, I handled rations once or twice,”

Laughter accompanied a handsome smile, “You threw bricks of reconstituted food at us and said, Boner Petite,”

“That was years ago,” he returned to the range and shimmied the pan of all-ready seared green beans. “We’re different men now,”

“Are we?” Tanigaki poked a finger into the pot of mashed potatoes and collecting a bit, tasted it. “We still use each other’s last names,”

“Can you wait until I plate the food?”

“Plate the food?” Tanigaki laughed. “Who are you, Chen Kenichi?”

“Set the table please,”

“I don’t know how you did it, Chef Ogata,” Tanigaki teased, place mats and silverware in hand. “But those potatoes taste just like the stuff from the grocery store take-out buffet. I hope you kept the containers because I reuse them,”

That goddamn clever Matagi.

“Please tell me you got Saps,” Tanigaki opened the fridge and snatched up a silver can. “I love roast chicken and beer,”

“Don’t drink out of the can, Tanigaki,” he frowned. “You don’t know who handled it before I did,”

“Is that why you always use a straw when we’re out,”

“I’m not putting my lips on a can from a street vendor,”

“You’ve put your lips on worse things, Ogata,”

“That reminds me, go wash up before we eat,”

“I can take a bath after,”

“Chicken’s not done, Tanigaki,” he took the unopened beer from him. “Please, just go bathe, it’ll be ready when you are,”

“You didn’t cook any of this, Ogata,”

“I bust my ass to feed you tonight and what do I get?” he spread his fingers over his chest. “Derision and distrust. That remark just now really hurt,”

Tanigaki shook his head before disappearing into the washroom.

Alone in the kitchen, Hyakunosuke pulled the vial from his pocket and read the back label.

Bear Baiter Lust Juice: The Secret to Awakening the Mountain Goddess within every Matagi Girl.

The old woman at the chestnut stand on their way to Ani last month assured him this Lust Juice knew no gender.

He tipped a few drops into the gravy and then considered Tanigaki’s height and weight. Bigger than a Matagi girl; this dose wasn’t enough. He poured all of it in, whisking the yellow sauce about until satisfied that it was fully diluted.

They sat across from one another at their small kitchen table, Tanigaki freshly clean.

“Good, you bought the right gravy this time,” he laid the stuff on thick over the poultry and potatoes. “I know western food isn’t your thing, but brown gravy never goes on chicken,”

“Anything for you, Tanigaki,” he smirked.

“Does this taste weird to you?” he asked between bites.

Hyakunosuke sipped his beer, “All western food is weird to me,”

He continued to shovel more into his mouth, “It’s familiar, right?”

“I taste chicken” said Hyakunosuke.

“It’s hot in here,” he stood and pulled his t-shirt off over his head. “Are you hot?”

Hyakunosuke unbuttoned his shirt, took it off, and then tossed it to the floor.

“Those A-shirts look good on you,” Tanigaki said, returning to his seat.

“You’re wearing sweats, that’s why you’re overheated,”

He pressed the beer can against his cheek, “I’m hot inside, too,”

“Windows are open,” Hyakunosuke dropped his fork when Tanigaki stood and began untying his jogging pants. “What are you doing?”

“I need to be naked,” he panted. “My clothes feel, too heavy,”

“Should I take off my pants, too?”

“Yeah, I want you naked, Ogata,” he swung his powerful arm, sending their full plates and beer to the floor.

On all fours, he climbed onto the table and crawled to him. He hooked his hand around Hyakunosuke’s neck and pulled him in for a kiss.

Tanigaki’s lips tasted of cold beer and chicken.

Without warning, he slid off the table and mounted Hyakunosuke’s lap. He was warm skin skin, firm lips, and wanton hands. The hairs on his chest smelled of soap and his ass wouldn’t stop gyrating under Hyakunosuke’s grip.

He fell back onto the table with his legs parted, touching himself as Hyakunosuke struggled with his own zipper.

“I need you, Ogata,” he begged. “I need you in me,”

Hyakunosuke’s fingers pressed between his lover’s buttocks and found the flesh within slick and pliable.

“I’m so wet for you,

“Tell me what you want, Tanigaki,”

“Put it in me, please,”

“Beg me, Tanigaki,”

“Please, Ogata, jerk me off and put it in me, please,”

There wasn’t time for his logical mind to process the biological impossibility of Tanigaki’s physical response. Cloying tightness came after slipping into him. It was so easy and felt so good, just like that thick hard-on in his hand.

Each shove brought a pleasured cry from Tanigaki who grasped the sides of the table for support until his knuckles went white.

Leg upon his shoulder, Hyakunosuke hugged that hairy thigh tight while speedily working the man’s sex and pounding into him.

Tanigaki inhaled sharply, bit his bottom lip and tensed as if struck by lightning. His completion came in fits and starts, sending a line across his stomach and filling his navel. Flesh tightened around Hyakunosuke’s manhood, milking it dry until there was no energy left for him to stand.

Finished, he peeled himself off and fell winded into his chair.

Tanigaki sat up and looked down on him, a smug look on his face.

“Those lube suppositories that you said wouldn’t work,” he licked his lips and through half-lidded eyes, smiled. “Now we know they work,”

“What are you talking about, Tanigaki?”

“There’s no such thing as Lust Juice,” he fixed a gentle foot to Hyakunosuke’s chest. “Old Matagi women sell it to horny tourists, it’s just tap water with some lemon,”

“You’re a terrible liar, Tanigaki,”

“Maybe,” he kissed him on the forehead before drifting to the washroom. “Let’s wash up and you can try and prove me wrong,”

The goddamn clever Matagi.

 

***

Chapter Text

Water flooded his sinuses and invaded his lungs. Head above the flow, there was no time to inhale. His body collided with a rock, his back first, and then his hip.

Something caught his arm, a painful tug awarded him freedom.

“…all right?” a deep voice demanded.

Water escaped his insides for what seemed a lifetime and his stomach cramped with each jump of his diaphragm.

“Don’t lay on your back,” through the haze came a face.

Strong arms kept him above the dirt until his vision cleared. A torrent of fast-moving water raged beside him and sloshing about in its brown clutches was the hood of his imported Mini-Cooper.

“Look at me,” dark brown eyes and a stern brow appeared. “What do you remember?”

“Up here, taking pictures of abandoned towns, around Oguni,” he choked out the words through chattering teeth. “Rained all day, the road, the bridge, got flooded,”

“Steady now,” a coarse sarrow fur blanketed his shoulders, and a gentle hand lifted his chin. “Is that all you remember?”

The man possessed a rugged attractive face, with trim hair along his jawline and emotive eyes that were capped by unruly brows.

“Tried to drive through the rushing water,” he said, trembling.

“Can you stand?” his savior asked.

The larger man got under his arm and lifted him to his feet. Unable to traverse the steep bank, the man hoisted him over his shoulder and carried him into a thicket of trees.

A small fire burned within a circle of rocks.

“Look at me,” he knelt before him. “What do you remember?”

“My boss sent me here to shoot some abandoned towns,” Hyakunosuke frowned. “I know my name, and how I got here, I’m not concussed,”

Sadness masked the man’s face.

“I’m sorry,” said Hyakunosuke, hands thrust close to the flames. “I appreciate what you’re trying to ask, I’m fine, I’m not brain-damaged or anything,”

“Drink this,” the chipped bowl seemed small in his large hand.

“My head is pounding,” he said through his teeth.

“Hot water with some rice vinegar,” the steaming bowl touched his lips. “It’ll lessen the pain,”

The pungent solution worked quickly and the ache in his head cleared.

“Thank you, uh,”

“Tanigaki,” he said, kicking dirt onto the fire. “Genjiro,”

“Second son, huh?”

The man hesitated before asking, “What’s your name?”

“Ogata Hyakunosuke,” he replied.

“Are you a samurai’s son?”

“No,” he said. “It’s an old family name,”

“Genjiro was my grandfather’s name,”

“Thank you, Genjiro,” he said. “For saving me,”

“What recourse did I have, you’re mine after all,”

“Excuse me?” he pulled the cloak tight around him as the man pulled a large carry bag onto his back.

“We’ll reach the nearest house by nightfall,” said Tanigaki.

“There’s a town just across the river,” he argued, thumb aimed back.

“The bridge washed away,” Tanigaki faced him. “Taking you with it,”

“Shit,” he rolled his eyes, “You’re right, I’m sorry,”

They walked for some time, emerging from the narrow trees and to a wall of bedrock. Tanigaki led him along its path and into another stretch of trees. Here the forest bed wasn’t flat; it rose on an angle as they progressed.

“Do you live up here?” asked Hyakunosuke.

“I belong to this mountain,” the bulky bearskin jumped with each step he took. “Lived here all my life,”

“There were no Matagi left in the town I visited,” a chill came over Hyakunosuke as they ascended, and his teeth began to chatter. “Are you a Matagi, mister Tanigaki?”

The man turned and aimed a sullen expression at him.

“The nearest town is over this peak,” Tanigaki said. “The higher we go, the colder it gets. I’ll start a fire, and we’ll get your clothes dry,”

“How long will that take?”

“We overnight here,” said Tanigaki. “Or you freeze by morning,”

Silenced by the reality of his situation, Hyakunosuke stood aside as the Matagi set a circle of stones upon the ground. Uncomfortable with being helpless, he gathered sticks and leaves for kindling and before long, the Matagi’s fire blazed warm enough that removing his clothes wasn’t an insane hardship.

“You can wear this,” Tanigaki set something white and furry on the log beside him.

“A rabbit skin yukata?” he asked, unfolding it. “Where’d you get this?”

“I made it,” said Tanigaki.

“It fits me,” he grinned up at him. “I take you made it for a friend,”

Tanigaki lowered his gaze and gathering a smaller bag out of the bearskin sack, he left the warmth of the fire.

“Where are you going?” Hyakunosuke called.

“See that torii on the ridge?” Tanigaki pointed to the wooden shrine gate on the overlook. “I cannot pass through it until I bathe,”

“In that waterfall with the ice on it?”

“It’s required if I wish to pass onto the mountain,”

“Required by whom?”

“This mountain belongs to the Goddess,”

“Goddess my ass,” Hyakunosuke caught up to him. “I’m not sitting here by myself,”

“No wildlife will touch you,” the Matagi said over his shoulder.

“You don’t know that for sure,” he argued.

Ice caked the water’s edge.

A sizable hole formed near the bedrock, made by a thin vein of water that fell from somewhere above. Crouched on the pebbles where the hollow ice lay white, Hyakunosuke noticed his breath was too cold to make a cloud.

Tanigaki the Matagi, unfazed by the chill, sat upon the ground and pulled off his boots.

Hyakunosuke leaned close and whispered in the man’s ear.

“This water is freezing,”

“I’ll be fine,” Tanigaki grinned.

“How long have you lived in these mountains?”

“I was sired here,” he kicked off his pants. “You’ll see the house where my mother bore me tomorrow—what’s so funny?”

“My history teacher at university always employed antiquated terms into his everyday conversation,” his eyes roamed every sculpted inch of the Matagi’s chiseled physique.

“Antiquated,” Tanigaki pulled off his shirt. “That means old-fashioned,”

“I don’t think you’re backward,” he said, eyes set on the vintage white fundoshi. “I was shocked the motel offered WiFi. I just assumed I wouldn’t get a signal in these mountains.”

“WiFi?” Tanigaki untied the hip rigs of his fundoshi, freeing his manhood.

“The signal was strong, too,” Hyakunosuke looked away, envious that shrinkage in the cold affected only some men. “All the fiber must be underground. I didn’t see any cell towers on the drive up,”

Tanigaki shook his head in confusion, “Your world is strange,"”

“I’m going back to the fire,” Hyakunosuke hid his growing erection.

“Turn your clothes around on the sticks,” cake of soap and a rag in his hand, he crunched over the brittle ice toward the falling water.

The fire blazed higher than any he’d seen before. His pullover and pants had dried one side, yet his coat, socks, and shoes remained soaked through. He huddled close to the flames with the yukata pulled tight around him; its soft fur felt good against his skin.

Tanigaki returned fully clothed and oddly silent.

“This robe is nice,” he said, but the Matagi kept quiet. “Are you all right?”

“No,” said Tanigaki, avoiding the fire.

“If I insulted you-”

“—You didn’t bring insult,” he pulled four thick ropes from his bag.

“What are you doing, Genjiro?”

“We can’t sleep on the ground,” he looped a rope high around the thickest tree and secured it with a bowline knot. “It’s saturated, and it’s going to rain again,”

Hyakunosuke jumped up, “I can help,”

“There’s a rawhide boro in there,” he fixed another rope around the opposite tree.

Stuffed tight into the Matagi’s bag was a rolled-up rug that smelled faintly of vinegar. It was a patchwork of expertly tanned goatskins with all four of its rope-tassel corners stressed bare.

“You think we’ll need a blanket?” asked Hyakunosuke. “I can feel that fire over here,”

“That rawhide isn’t for covering up,” he laughed. “It’s my bed,”

“You’re stretching it out to be a hammock,”

“My grandmother made it for my parents,” he nodded, braiding one of its corner tufts to the rope around the tree. “My father was still building their house when she got caught with my brother,”

“Caught?”

“Pregnant,” he looked up from securing another corner. “Women still get pregnant, don’t they?”

“I’ve heard knocked-up, a belly-full, and in trouble,” said Hyakunosuke. “But never the word, caught,”

“It’s a different world on the mountain,” the Matagi didn’t bare his teeth when he smiled; his lips stayed set, and mirth shone in his eyes. “You have to force the rawhide to make it reach the ropes on your side,”

“Are you sure,” he pulled at it hard but couldn’t reach the tree.

“Here, I’ll stretch, you tie,”

“Do you have children?”

“Pull at those ropes and make sure they’re secured,”

“I don’t mean to pry,”

“You’re not prying,” he tested Hyakunosuke’s knots with a yank. “My life belongs to the Goddess of the Mountain, and she has enough children,”

“That’s some poetic shit, Matagi,”

He slapped the tensed hide, “Climb on and test it,”

“I’d rather not,” Hyakunosuke said. “You test it,”

Tanigaki shrugged before pulling his shirt from his shoulders and again stripping off his clothes.

Hyakunosuke quickly turned his attention to the fire.

“At first, I didn’t understand why you always look away,” his voice indicated his climb onto the hammock. “I know your mind, now, you don’t have to look away,”

“You know my mind?” Hyakunosuke turned to find the Matagi laying naked on his stomach, a thoughtful look upon his face and his upturned feet swaying like an amused dog’s tail.

“You’re a handsome man, you think I am too,”

Hyakunosuke cursed his situation; the sexiest thing he ever met comes on to him after he’s been battered and bruised from a near-death experience.

“I reek of creek water, Genjiro, and my mouth tastes like shit,”

“We don’t have to kiss,” he rolled over, exposing his hairy torso and so much more.

Seized by a strong and sudden longing, Hyakunosuke peeled off the yukata and climbed onto the hammock. It wasn’t déjà vu—nothing conversant rang true in these woods—but this muscular flesh trapped beneath him brought a warm familiarly.

The bristles on the Matagi’s chin smelled of spring water, and his silky foreskin tasted of soap. Every labored breath and whimper was a song he sang to.

Rain tapped the leafy trees above, dousing the exposed fire and ushering in the night.

Unable to see in the dark, his body remembered. The sweet noise of the Matagi’s climax brought about his own. Buried deep within his lover, Hyakunosuke’s spent erection went soft as sleep set upon him.

He woke in the morning to find the Matagi dressed.

“Do you remember?”

“Last night, yes,” Hyakunosuke pulled on his dry clothes. “I told you, my head is fine,”

Tanigaki gave a short nod and began walking back the way they came.

“Hey,” he hollered after him. “You said we needed to go over the mountain,”

“It didn’t rain much last night,” said Tanigaki. “The river should be low enough to cross,”

“It’ll take hours to get back there,” he ran into the trees after him.

“No, it won’t,” Tanigaki stopped. “We walked only an hour yesterday,”

“We walked all day,” he argued, moving ahead of him.

“Why can’t you remember?” Tanigaki growled.

Hyakunosuke turned to confront him and found him gone.

“Genjiro!”

He returned to where they’d camped but found nothing to indicate they’d been there.

“Tanigaki!” that bastard Matagi had abandoned him—after having sex with him. “You self-hating son of a bitch!”

Hyakunosuke walked hours down the slope, clearing the trees he finally found rocks that reminded him of the day before. The sound of rushing water brought hope. He raced through the forest unwilling to suspect that maybe that goddam Matagi was a fugitive unwilling to risk detection.

Out of the trees he discovered a calm river with an iron bridge stretched over a sluice. On the far shore were two lovely houses with cars parked upon stone driveways.

He sprinted toward the bridge but when he stepped upon the paved road, he couldn’t bring himself to cross it. Behind him the tarmac extended into the trees with a ‘No Outlet’ sign in the grass. A thousand feet past it sat two enormous stone bulkheads.

Beyond the bulkheads lay the remnants of the original bridge. This fork raged between the remnants of capstones reclaimed by nature. Across the violent chop lay the Matagi’s woods, and in the rocks along the bank was the rusted remains of a water-decayed vehicle.

Inside its wreckage was a cracked rib cage jostled by the current; the shirt he now wore in tatters around the bones.

Hyakunosuke stepped off the capstone and fell into the rapids, feet first. Water flooded his sinuses and invaded his lungs. Head above above the flow, there was no time to inhale. His body collided with a rock, his back first, and then his hip.

Something caught his arm, a painful tug awarded him freedom.

“…all right?” a deep voice demanded.

Water escaped his insides for what seemed a lifetime and his stomach cramped with each jump of his diaphragm. Strong arms kept him above the dirt until his vision cleared.

“Look at me,” dark brown eyes and a stern brow appeared. “What do you remember?”

“Taking pictures of abandoned towns around Oguni,” his teeth chattered. “Rained all day, the road on the bridge was flooded,”

“Steady now,” a sarrow fur blanket covered his shoulders, and a gentle hand lifted his chin. “Is that all you remember?”

“Tried to drive through the puddle in the road,”

“Can you stand?” the man didn’t wait for an answer, he picked Hyakunosuke up and carried him into a thicket of trees where a small fire burned within a circle of rocks.

“Look at me,” the man knelt beside him. “What do you remember?”

“My boss sent me here to shoot some abandoned towns,” he frowned. “I drove through a low water crossing. I’m not concussed I can think clearly!”

Sadness masked the man’s face and suddenly everything became clear as the man walked away from him.

“Don’t you leave me here again, you goddam Matagi!”

The man froze.

“I remember,” he stilled his chattering teeth. “Tell me what’s happening, Genjiro!”

“Tell me what you remember-”

“No!” he growled. “You tell me what’s happening!”

Tanigaki stood several moments with his back to Hyakunosuke.

“I was a young man when my sister got smallpox, days before her wedding. I came to the mountain and begged the Goddess to heal her. I offered my life for hers. My sister recovered, but when I came to hunt that first winter afterward, I couldn’t leave the mountain,”

Tanigaki faced him with tears in his eyes.

“She’s dying now, the Goddess of the Mountain. She didn’t want me to be alone. I saw you in the house where I was born. You walked through all the houses where my village was taking your strange pictures. You were so handsome, and I didn’t want to be alone anymore. I tried to follow you out, follow you anywhere, but-”

“Even a dying Goddess gets jealous,” said Hyakunosuke.

“No matter how many times,” Tanigaki closed his eyes and sobbed. “No matter how many times I pull you from her waters, you never remember me!”

“How long have I been dead, Genjiro?”

“It’s been five rainy seasons,” he replied, wiping his nose. “I’m so sorry,”

“Five years is nothing compared to how long you’ve been here,” he walked to Tanigaki and touched his cold brow. “You’re carrying me up that mountain, Matagi,”

Tanigaki’s eyes widened.

“I’m dead and I got nowhere else to go,” Hyakunosuke forced him to turn around and took the carry sack off his back and put it on his own. “There better a cabin up there with a real bed and running water,”

“I don’t have a cabin,” Tanigaki said, carrying him on his back.

“There’s plenty of new houses going in around here,” Hyakunosuke held on tight. “We’ll haunt a good one when I figure out how to cross that river,”

****

Chapter Text

“What happened?” Tanigaki groused in the pantry closet. “There was a case of ramen here yesterday, next to a grand-size box of oyster crackers,”

“Shiraishi, Ariko, and Supervisor Sugimoto took lunch at the same time,” Mishima stood in the doorway. “I just took two full bags of the aftermath to the incinerator, so the poor cleaning man didn’t have to deal with it,”

“There were fifty cups of ramen in that pack,” Tanigaki said.

“No one wanted the oyster crackers because they were unsalted, so Usami took them,” Mishima joined him in the cramped space. “He goes to the roof to relieve stress with that nut-cracker hammer of his. He gives all the crumbs to the pigeons,”

“I need a transfer,” Tanigaki mumbled.

“Kirawus just got back from his honeymoon,” up on his toes, Mishima reached for top shelf. “He brought back some hotel snacks,”

A foot taller, Tanigaki ran his hands over the same rack and smiling, brought down a jumbo-sized foamed polystyrene cup. Thankfully, the white foil label remained glued to the top.

“I better get moving,” he checked the time on his wristwatch. “Supervisor Ogata has a meeting in one minute,”

“That’s not until noon,” Tanigaki followed him out.

“It’s one minute to noon,” said Mishima, watching as Tanigaki scrambled to the hot water dispenser. “You can’t take food to a meeting,”

“I’ve not eaten all day,” Tanigaki said. “My presentation’s still on my desk,”

“Get your presentation paperwork,” Mishima grabbed the ramen cup. “I’ll get this steeping and bring it in after you sit down,”

“Won’t that be a problem?” Tanigaki asked.

“Ogata hasn’t had his lunch yet either,” said Mishima. “It’s a cup for two, so it makes sense if I show up with two bowls and extra sticks,”

“That’s smart,” Tanigaki nodded on his way out. “Thanks, Mishima!”

It took several moments for the boiling water light to blink. He peeled back a portion of the foil lid and held it under the nozzle before flipping down the red paddle handle.

Once filled to the line suggested, he pressed the lid back down and caught a whiff of the broth; otter nabe smelled strangely musky.

Tray in hand, Mishima stepped past his deck and tapped a foot on the supervisor’s door.

“Come in, please,” Ogata said.

He used the underside of the tray to push down on the latch handle before stepping into the posh corner office. Ogata sat at the conference table near his desk, with Tanigaki opposite him.

“What’s all this, Mister Mishima?” Ogata asked.

“I don’t think either of you took lunch today,” he said. “I brought some tea and ramen,”

“Thank you,” Tanigaki feigned surprise.

“Set it on the table, please,” Ogata shifted his attention to Tanigaki. “Depopulation is a problem throughout the nation, what makes Akita Prefecture’s program so unique?”

“Akita’s a priority because of its aging citizens. They’ve got more people over 70 than any other area in Tōhoku. Being on the brink of ultra-underpopulation has led to food service and retail pulling out of the area,”

“Wasn’t the government proposing moving many of these elderly property owners to areas closer to these services?” Ogata asked, as Mishima set two empty bowls beside the chopsticks and retrieved two bottles of water from the room refrigerator.

“Only in under-populated areas around large cities,” said Tanigaki, sticks in hand.

Ogata filled his bowl with noodles, “Where the young tax base can subsidize residence construction and medical centers.”

“Exactly,” Tanigaki handed Ogata a folder while slurping his noodles. “What Akita Land Management proposes relies heavily on Japan’s relaxation of immigration policies,”

“Make their area attractive to young working-class immigrants,” Ogata sniffed his broth, made a face, but then dipped it.

“Build what westerners call, bedroom communities,” Tanigaki added.

“I’ll make sure there’s no further interruption,” said Mishima, closing the door.

The odor of that ramen had made him hungry.

“Hey Mishima,” Noma whisked by smelling of cologne and copier ink.

Of all the men working at Tsurumi Development Solutions, logistics engineer Noma always wore the tightest pants. Nothing made an ass come alive more than a freshly pressed pair of khakis.

“What do you need?” Noma asked.

Mishima now stood among the cubicles, “I followed you,”

“Yes, you did,” Noma sat down. “Did you need something?”

“No,” Mishima smiled. “I zoned out I guess,”

“Hey,” Kirawus popped his head above the partition and beamed a rolled-up wad of paper at the back of Ariko’s head. “Did you guys eat that ramen I hid in the break room?”

“That shit from the Love Hotel?” Ariko smirked. “No way,”

“We were going to,” Shiraishi hung his arms over the cubicles partition. “But Ariko warned us,”

“What’s wrong with it?” Mishima demanded.

“Nothing,” Ariko shrugged. “Unless you’re looking for some action,”

“How does ramen lead to sex?” Noma grinned.

“I went to this brothel once,” Shiraishi said.

Kirawus rolled his eyes, “Here comes a Shiraishi story,”

“I got to hear it,” Supervisor Sugimoto appeared, a bottle of cola in his hand. “Shiraishi’s like that girl in those movies who always tells a band camp story,”

“What’s wrong with the ramen, Kirawus?” Mishima asked again.

“It’s otter nabe flavored,” Kirawus replied.

Noma frowned, “That sounds nasty,”

“The scent of Otter Nabe gets your dick hard and opens your holes,” Ariko said with a smile. “It’s like sniffing poppers,”

“Are you serious?” Sugimoto laughed. “It’s a good thing we didn’t eat it,”

Mishima slowly backed away and when clear of them, jogged back to his desk and glanced through the two windows behind it.

Ogata was over the couch, his tie undone, his shirt unbuttoned, and his hair disheveled. On his shoulder was Tanigaki's hairy leg, his foot covered in a white sock.

He pushed through the door and pressed the hem of his jacket to his nose.

“Mishima,” Tanigaki grunted as he lay shirtless, his pants bunched up around the foot he kept on the floor. “Come over here,”

“Get in here, Mishima,” Ogata panted, pushing into him. “Tanigaki needs something to suck on,”

Tanigaki opened his mouth and reached for him.

He quickly closed the blinds on the inner office windows before rushing to the windows behind Ogata’s desk to open them.

“Mishima?” Tanigaki laughed.

“Going to take this back to the break room,” he said, holding his breath.

He disposed of the remains of the otter nabe and outside the break room took a few deep breaths. He jogged back to his desk and found he’d left the door to the office open!

Secretaries and clerks wandered past, lured by the sound of Tanigaki and Ogata’s tryst; he pulled the door shut, glaring at the nosy office workers.

“Mister Mishima,” chimed a familiar voice.

“Vice President Hanazawa,” he found the young man smiling down at him. “Mister Ogata’s not in his office right now,”

“Big brother’s always here this time of day,” said Hanazawa, eying the blinds.

“He’s up on the roof,” Mishima put himself in front of the door. “It’s a coaching situation, Mister Usami again,”

“Not again,” Hanazawa said, concerned. “Did he bite someone else?”

Tanigaki’s pleasured cries and Ogata’s groans couldn’t be unheard.

“Ventilation,” Mishima pointed at the grate over their heads. “Goes right to the roof,”

“It sounds like Mister Usami and my brother are fighting,” Hanazawa rushed to the stairwell door. “I’ll get up there and handle this, no need to call President Tsurumi,”

Mishima nodded before sinking into his desk chair.

“You just trashed my ramen bowl,” Kirawus approached, pointing his finger as Ariko, Noma, and Shiraishi crowded his desk.

“Girls in accounting says there’s some sexing going on around here,”said Shiraishi.

“Mister Ogata isn’t seeing anyone right now,” Mishima jumped up and blocked the door. “You need to get back to your stations,”

Sugimoto stepped up, “Move aside, pretty boy, we need to document this sexing thing,”

“No!” Mishima didn’t budge until Ariko whisked him off his feet and carried him toward the elevators. “Mister Ogata!”

Sugimoto brought up his phone. “Everyone got their cams ready?”

“Let’s see how hairy that Matagi really is,” Noma said, phone in hand.

“I bet I’m bigger than Ogata,” Shiraishi added.

Kirawus teased, “I’m not taking that bet,”

“On three,” said Sugimoto. “One, two…”

 

****