Ogata Hyakunosuke wasn’t sure how he ended up naked and on his knees in a stranger’s shower.
That wasn’t entirely true; it all began on Monday when the universities extra-curricular advisory board informed him that his rifle club faced ineligibility.
Japan’s gun laws had changed; all private and academic clubs centered around firearms were required to have a minimum of five members licensed to handle a weapon between prefectures.
A multi-prefectural license was difficult to obtain; it took him three years to acquire one.
After a week of no replies to his campus-wide ad seeking a proper licensee, his silent frustration went unnoticed by everyone, except his father’s wife.
Two months after Hyakuno’s birth, the old man fell in love with his secretary. A cultured pearl, she was far older than his mother, and like his father, she came from a family whose money was made by ancestors skilled in exporting.
Before the ink was dry on his parents’ divorce, father had remarried and seemingly disappeared. Mother treated her depression with alcohol, and grandpa was always coughing.
Mother died before his fifth birthday, and if it weren’t for his grandma, Hyakuno would’ve lost his young mind. Her embraces often came unsolicited, and in many cases, unwarranted.
There were times when he didn’t want to be touched, but his grandma wasn’t the sort to care about such things.
Not long after his mother’s passing, grandpa had become sick and passed away, yet their deaths were inconsequential compared to losing grandma. His entire world was ended by a swerving car that struck her as she bicycled home from the market.
Social services petitioned Hanazawa Kojirou to take custody of twelve-year-old Hyakunosuke; a man of means, he dispatched lawyers to avoid any welfare hearings.
When word got back to his prized wife, she was mortified.
Lady Hanazawa personally collected him from the Home for Boys in Mito. Strapped into the back seat of her fancy car was a young boy with a stupid smile on his face; that smile now belonged to a young man much taller than Hyakuno.
“Brother?” Yuusaku stood at the entry to his room. “May I come in?”
“It’s your house, that’s why there’s no door,”
Yuusaku ducked to avoid the frame and plopped down upon the floor to pet the cat. The feline preferred his room to the rest of the house; they were compatriots as the old man never wanted her either.
“I can’t say anything in front of father,” he whispered. “We got this goalie, a transfer from Ani, he’s the best,”
Hyakuno turned from his computer and raised his voice.
“You were supposed to quit the hockey team,”
“Quiet,” his brother shushed.
“Yuusaku!” the old man’s voice boomed. “Let’s eat!”
“Come on, boys,” Lady Hanazawa passed by his door, stopping Yuusaku with a raised finger. “Change your shirt before you sit down, you’re covered in cat hair,”
“Yes, mother,” he said, kissing the forehead.
“I set a place for you,” she added softly. “If you want to eat in here, that’s fine too,”
She asked little of him, the least he could do was sit through another dinner in silence.
“Thank you, Ma’am,”
At the table, she and Yuusaku talked freely about their day while the old man smiled and nodded. Hyakuno learned early that saying anything invited insult.
“I heard about the Rifle Club situation,” she refilled his glass with tea while handing Yuusaku another bowl of rice. “Have you found anyone yet?”
“Why the hell is there a gun club at a university?” the old man groused.
“It’s a sport, Koji,” she said. “My father founded his collegiate Rifle Club,”
“Some members have gone to the Olympics,” Yuusaku added. “Right, brother?”
The word brother made the old man’s lower jaw tense.
“Father,” Yuusaku sighed, dropping his sticks for affect. “Please reconsider-”
“—You’re not playing hockey anymore,” the old man spat. “I tolerated it with high school, but it’s time to concentrate on learning life skills,”
Yuusaku fell silent, it was his only defense.
“The team’s goalie, Tanigaki,” she said. “He’s a big man, very hairy,”
Yuusaku laughed, “Yeah, we call him Kumagaki,”
“He’s certainly that,” she laughed with him.
The old man winked at Yuusaku, “Was she checking out the college boys?”
“Yuusaku’s last day on the ice,” she explained, eyes wide. “That Kumagaki politely carried your son’s gear out to the car for me,”
“Where was your son?” the old man asked.
“I was saying goodbye to my friends,” Yuusaku pouted.
She cleared her throat, “Didn’t he say he hunted over summer break?”
“Yep,” Yuusaku spoke often with his mouth full. “Deer hunting, he said,”
Her eyes shifted to Hyakuno, “Did he go back to Akita?”
“Nope,” Yusaku replied.
“He hunted locally?” asked Hyakuno.
“Are you finished eating?” the old man snapped.
“Kojirou, enough!” she snapped back.
“He’s been studying teeth at that damn school for four years,” the old man griped. “He should be living on your own by now,”
He might’ve been finished with his degree if he’d attended Tokyo Dental, but the old man refused to foot the bill for room and board; the Ibaraki Prefectural University of Health Sciences work-study program meant serving a mandatory two extra years.
“Thank you for dinner, ma’am,”
“Hyakuno,” she said as he stood. “The registrar retains a list of all transfers. As president of an official club, you should have access to them,”
“Thank you, Ma’am,”
After serving his clinical duties that Friday, he trekked to the administration office to review the student transfer files.
The man affectionately dubbed kuma came from Akita University and was enrolled on a full scholarship. Ibaraki Daigaku must have Olympic aspirations for the hockey team—why else bring in a ringer?
His eyes roamed the screen until they found what was needed; he was licensed to carry and operate a firearm in eight prefectures!
Phone in hand, he snapped a photo of the front page of Tanigaki Genjirou’s record, and then ventured across campus to the sports center.
Voices echoed in the expanse above the ice-rink and his dental scrubs were a poor shield against the chilly air.
Hyakuno waited by the bleachers until a whistle ended practice. Five men skated off the ice that Friday morning and only one lived up to the name Kumagaki.
A foot taller than the others even without his skates, he lumbered behind his teammates as they walked toward the showers. Suddenly, he broke formation, saying his goodbyes before heading toward the exits.
He turned at the sound of his name, complexion ruddy from exertion. Sweat coated his skin and dampened his hair, even the trim whiskers along his chin curtain gleamed under the stadium light.
“What do you need?” his winded timber smelled of cinnamon.
“Is there a place where we can speak privately?”
“What about?” he lifted the hem of his jersey and used it to wipe his brow.
“It’s about the University Rifle Clu-”
“—No,” he stepped around him.
“Excuse me,” Hyakuno moved fast and put himself in front of the door. “I’d appreciate if you’d at least hear me out,”
“I don’t think firearms are a sport,” he said.
“Hunting’s a sport,”
“I grew up eating what we hunted,” he said. “Not shooting at trees for points,”
“How very Matagi of you,”
“Am I catching attitude?” he knitted his bushy brows. “You asked to be heard and what I hear is you talking down to me,”
“Will you relax, I’m just kidding,”
The corners of Tanigaki’s mouth turned upward when his eyes lowered. Hyakuno glanced down to find his hardened nipples visible beneath his scrubs.
“You’ll only be needed for the qualifier tomorrow,” he added, arms folded across his chest.
“My course load is heavy this semester,” Tanigaki spat the wad of gum into the garbage can. “Even if I were inclined to join, I wouldn’t have the time,”
“Legally I can’t compensate you with money,” he said. “But I can help you with school,”
“Help me?” a sleeved arm wiped his lips.
“I can provide homework assistance,”
“You’re offering to do my work for me?” he blurted.
“I know GPA’s matter little for sports transfers,”
“Sports transfer,” he rubbed his neck and smiled.
“One qualifier on Sunday, and you’re done, Tanigaki,”
Steely eyes met his, “Okay, sounds like a deal,”
“You’ll join the Rifle Club?”
“I’ll join,” he said with a nod. “Cross the street with me,”
Outside on the busy pedestrian mall, everyone knew Kumagaki, eagerly greeting him by name as they passed. The university clearly protected their sports investment, putting him up in one of the most elite dorms on central campus.
Inside, Tanigaki ignored the elevator.
“Let’s go, tutor-san,” he said, bounding up the stairs.
Two residences shared the top floor, and his was at the end of the hall. He dropped his gear at the front door and led a sock footed Hyakuno into a narrow LDK, made bright by the large window.
The plank wood flooring was a pale grain that made the slender space seem long. A dark brown couch filled one side of the room and anchored high on the opposite wall was a large flat-screen television.
Large potted bamboo palms occupied every corner, their fat green leaves shivering from the wall docked AC near the ceiling.
Framed paintings that depicted scenes from the Russo-Japanese war surrounded the television, and situated proportionally over the couch were a collection of photos; snow-capped mountains, sandy beaches, and choppy seas.
A clear view of the bedroom revealed a three-tatami size space and curtaining its sliding door were built-in shelves packed with books.
“There’s water in the fridge,” he said, pulling his jersey off and untying his sweatpants.
The kitchen was tiny, with a couple of open shelves that held some white and red bowls and a collection of glass drinkware. A small bar with two wood stools beneath it, divided the kitchen from the living room; it also housed his washer/dryer unit.
His tight red undershorts inched up when he bent over to shove his clothes into it, revealing the shapely underside of his buttocks.
“Whose place is this?”
“It’s mine,” he replied. “Cost me enough, but it’s a great location,”
“You paid for this place?”
“Got it cheap,” he bragged.
Fiction and manga dominated one side of his bookshelf, a mix of historical and Josei with a few classic Seinen titles everyone their age revered.
The other side contained countless textbooks, two still wrapped in plastic.
“You keep all your schoolbooks?”
“Just the ones I like,” he said, bottle of water in hand.
Varied subjects were pressed tight against one another, geography and map-making the most worn. Further down, however, were books on genetics, modified organisms, climate dynamics, marine biology, and environmental sciences.
Hyakuno pulled his phone from his pocket and glanced at his photo of Tanigaki’s student file; top-percentile at Akita prefecture, third-highest GPA at Ibaraki, ranked in the top-fifth in all of Japan.
“You lied to me,”
“No,” he finished his water and then crushed the plastic bottle into a packed disk. “You assumed I was some dumb jock willing to have you do my schoolwork for me,”
“Who are you, Tanigaki?”
“Who are you, Hanazawa?”
Hyakuno huffed and said, “I’m not a Hanazawa,”
“You’re not Yuusaku’s brother?”
“My last name is Ogata,” he frowned. “Why am I here?”
“You came here, you tell me,”
“I need you to join the Rifle Club,” he said. “If you don’t, the school will disband the club,”
Tanigaki pushed air out his nose and nodded.
“What’s your major, Ogata?”
“I’m a year shy of being a dentist,”
“Why aren’t you at Tokyo Dental?”
“Because my last name isn’t Hanazawa,”
After a beat, Tanigaki uncrossed his arms.
“I don’t need a tutor,” he said. “But I’ll join your club,”
“I promise, you won’t be inconvenienced in any way,” relief washed over Hyakuno. “We have a qualification trial tomorrow, you just show up for that, and then you can leave the minute you’re counted,”
“You don’t know what I want in return,”
“I can’t pay you,” he said. “That’s against coll-”
“—I don’t need your money, Ogata, I got my own,”
“What do you need, Tanigaki?” he asked.
“I get super stressed before every test,” he explained, gazing at the floor. “Back in Ani, I always found some ass to mellow me out, but here, it’s not so easy,”
Hyakuno cursed himself for even considering it, “Where do you get off even suggesting something like that to me, Tanigaki?”
“You’ve been staring at my jock since you got here,” he laughed.
Hyakuno did an about-face and headed for the door.
“Go to hell, Tanigaki,”
“Give me a heads up on the auction,” he called.
Hyakuno turned with shoes in hand.
“What are you talking about?”
“When the university shuts down your club,” he stepped to him. “Let me know when they’ll be selling your guns. I like adding to my collection when the pieces are dirt cheap,”
Hyakuno dropped his shoes.
“What do I have to do?”
“Today, I need a scrub down,” he grinned, walking to the bedroom. “After that, we can discuss future terms,”
“I’m not a water trade whore!”
“It’s the least you could do,” his voice found him. “To make up for thinking of me as a moron here on a sports ride,”
Against his better sense, Hyakuno stripped down and entered the bathroom to find no tub or hand shower. There was a lone vanity sink with a glass-enclosed stall that contained a built-in bench covered with stone tiles.
“It’s western,” said Tanigaki, turning on the water.
Hyakuno caught a glimpse of the Matagi’s cock; even flaccid, it was thick and so long that the foreskin didn’t extend past the head.
“Western, like your jock?”
He grinned, “I’m pure Japanese,”
“I doubt it, Matagi,”
He shrugged, “There might be some continental blood in my family tree,”
“How do you live without a tub?”
“I soak at the school gym across the street,” he disappeared into the steam.
Inside the tiny glass room, Hyakuno kept his back against the cold tile, and stood in the dry spot under the showerhead.
Tanigaki sat on the stone bench, his eyes level with Hyakuno’s chest. He pressed a bottle of shampoo into Hyakuno’s hand.
“Wash my hair,”
Hyakuno squeezed a glob into his palm and with determined hands scrubbed at the Matagi’s head, his mind recalling that sweaty scalp.
Tanigaki raised his handsome face and with his eyes shut, emitted a satisfied growl as fingernails gently scratched into his short tresses.
“Can I touch you?” he asked.
“No, you can’t,”
An eye popped open, “Why not?”
“You wanted a wash, that’s all your getting,”
“Make sure you repeat after the rinse,” he added.
“I can follow directions, Tanigaki,” he said, the absurdity of his situation brought a smile to his face.
Bucket in hand, he rinsed the Matagi’s head clean. Brown eyes appeared as Tanigaki stood, and without touching him, exchanged places.
He took the metal container of soap shoved at him.
“This feels stupid,”
“It feels that way because you’re not washing me,” Tanigaki tilted his head back into spray, allowing water to sluice over his chiseled chest. “Start with my feet and work your way up,”
On his knees and still unsure of how he got here, Hyakuno began working the scented bath foam onto the Matagi’s hairy legs.
“Clean my jock,” he dropped a wet rag onto his shoulder. “Make sure you get under the skin, I got a date later,”
Hyakuno steeled his jaw and glared up to find Tanigaki smiling down at him. Suddenly, he tilted his head to the side, allowing jetted water to pelt Hyakuno in the eye.
On his feet, Hyakuno angrily pushed out the glass door.
“Fuck you, Tanigaki,” he growled, grabbing his clothes from the floor.
“Come back,” the Matagi laughed. “I’m sorry, Ogata!”
Genji had come too close to violating the gay man’s Bro Code; no matter how hot a friend’s brother is—never go there.
There weren’t many gay men at Ibaraki Daigaku, so the friends he made were paramount, but damn if Hanazawa’s older brother didn’t pluck his strings.
The guy wasn’t even that attractive.
One thing his buddy Noma got right was that Hanazawa’s brother had a personality that made you want to punch him in the face.
Eye-rollers often put him off, but when Hanazawa’s older brother rolled his eyes, Genji’s jock noticed.
Rifle bag slung over his shoulder, he entered the firing range and spotted Okada waving his arm.
“I knew you’d make it!” said Mishima, smiling.
“You asked me, and I said yes,” he avoided Ogata’s stare.
“Told you not to worry, ’Noske,” Noma added.
“It’s nice to meet you, Tanigaki,” said Ogata, deadpan.
Genji ignored him, “I’ll take the first string,”
“All we need is your presence today,” said Ogata.
“Tanigaki can shoot,” Mishima said.
“For most Matagi,” Ogata quipped. “It isn’t sporting to shoot targets for points,”
“Lucky for too,” Genji said, goggles on and headphones in place. “I’m not most Matagi,”
“Good luck, Genji,” said Okada.
The first trial was standing prone and firing at a target 300 yards down. He stayed two large paces back from his unloaded rifle, maintaining the cold range while the safety officer assembled his weapon and loaded it.
He came forward when the stout man waved him over, and after giving the license he carried in his belt tag the once over, the soft-spoken judge commanded him to proceed.
His last bullet fired, he returned to the cold range line and could hear Okada expressing concern that he hit the target only once; Noma kindly pointed out that Genji hit the target with every shot, each successive bullet striking that first center hole.
The judge informed him that one of his shots was a quarter inch from the center; he hadn’t broken the prefecture record; this fact became self-evident when Ogata Hyakunosuke stepped up to shoot.
Prone with elbows on the counter, Ogata struck with a sniper’s precision. It was impossible to imagine the bastard being any sexier, but with a gun in his hand, he was downright fuck-able.
“I need to run,” said Genji, bidding them farewell.
“Good luck tomorrow,” Mishima called out.
“Tanigaki got a game in the morning?” he heard Ogata ask.
Mishima replied, “Nope, we’ve got a physics test at ten,”
No matter how hot a friend’s brother is—never go there.
Genji must’ve said this a hundred times since answering the knock on his apartment door.
“What are you doing here?”
Ogata pushed his way in, “You’ve got a test in two hours, right?”
“Listen, about Friday-”
“Brush your teeth, Tanigaki,” Ogata began stripping on his way to the bathroom. “I’ll wash you before we relieve your stress,”
…no matter how hot a friend’s brother is…
He locked his front door; bro code wasn’t broken if a bro didn’t know about it.
After brushing his teeth he joined Ogata in the shower and though tired from a late night of studying, those soapy hands brought him to life.
One last rinse and he was finally given permission to touch; the shorter man felt good in his arms, and his wet neck tasted of hard water.
“I’m not breakfast, Tanigaki,”
Genji couldn’t help how vocal he was as he dined on Ogata’s throat, “I’ve wanted to eat you alive since the first time I saw you,”
“When was that?”
“Two months ago,” Genji turned off the shower. “You drove Yuusaku to practice,”
“I don’t remember that,”
Genji pulled him in close, “You came and went,”
“I must’ve left an impression,”
“Something like that,” he embraced Ogata’s thighs and hoisted him over his shoulder.
“What are you doing, Matagi!”
Genji charged across the tiles and tossed him onto the futon in the bedroom.
“Stop!” Ogata raised a finger. “There’s something I need to do first, and when it’s done, you can do whatever you want,”
Genji savored that fingertip on the head of his dick, “If you want me to piss on you, we got to go back to the bathroom,”
Ogata flat-lined, “Don’t ever say those words to me again,”
Genji fell onto him, devouring what he could until he allowed the smaller man to roll him over and put him on his back.
“Tell me what you need to do first,” he asked, hands full of Ogata’s ass.
“I need you to lay here,” said Ogata between kisses. “Be perfectly still,”
Genji brought his wrists together and fixed them above his head as Ogata gracefully rose to his feet and squatted with his back straight. When that hole kissed the tip of Genji’s cock, instinct drove him to lift his hips.
“Don’t move, Tanigaki,” he scolded, tilting back he grasped the bones beneath Genji’s knees.
Tight flesh grabbed his weeping dick as Ogata crouched low.
“That’s right, don’t move, Tanigaki,” he whispered, eyes closed and chin lifted.
Ogata’s cock was hard enough now that it reached up to cover his navel. Genji tried to touch it, but his hand was batted away, leaving him to groan softly as each constricting inch conquered his shaft.
Though Ogata hardly moved, his body was covered in sweat, and when Genji reached up and pinched a nipple, the man jerked away from his touch as if burned.
“Don’t, it’s too much,” he shook his head. “Just stay still, please, Tanigaki,”
Genji put his hands behind his head and watched Ogata’s gleaming body carefully work its way down. No man had ever taken all of him before, not even his high school lover of three years.
Buried to the hilt, Ogata’s body began to tremble.
He whined out, his insides clamping tight around Genji’s cock. His moans stuttered as his knees shivered and that gorgeous dick twitched before erupting onto his chest.
Open eyes wet with desire gazed down at Genji before a smile spread across his face.
Genji pushed him over and withdrew, “You’re lucky that the was the hottest thing I ever saw,” he masturbated fiercely over Ogata’s turned face, “Or I’d be pissed that you busted your nut before I did,”
A flash of heat kicked in his groin as his cock sent a line of spunk across Ogata’s scarred cheek. Waves of comfort set in as his spurting cockhead bounced against Ogata’s ear.
Genji howled out and slapped Ogata’s ass before kissing it.
“Did you have to come in my ear,” he heard Ogata complain. “Grab me a swab,”
“Come get one,” Genji yelled, turning on the shower. “I got to be at the testing room by nine-thirty,”
Through the steam and glass he saw Ogata’s blurry form.
“You want to come in,” he asked.
“I need to soak, Tanigaki,” said Ogata, padding out of the bathroom.
Genji toweled off before pulling on some sweatpants and a comfortable shirt, then knocked on the door to the toilet.
“I’m taking off,” he said. “My door key is on the bar, just lock up,”
“I’ll bring it by to you later,”
“You don’t have to go make a special trip,” he said.
“I have a clinic this afternoon, I’ll leave it with your coach,”
“It’s fine,” he said. “Just keep it,”
The door opened to Ogata wrapped in a towel.
“If you wait, we can leave together,”
“Why don’t you just take my key?” he asked.
Ogata stared at him, “You don’t know me,”
“I know you’ll need to be back,” he smiled. “If you want me to stay in your club,”
“Fine,” said Ogata, shutting the door.
Genji headed out, “Pick up food!”
“What?” Ogata shouted back. “This isn’t a relationship-”
—Genji slammed the front door behind him, but his smile faded upon finding Yuusaku Hanazawa on the stairs.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m ready,” Yuusaku declared.
“Ready for what?”
His face became ashen, “You know, the date,”
“Yes!” Genji relaxed instantly. “It’s about time,”
Hyakuno waited patiently, his mind a charnel pit. He’d heard every word in the stairwell.
“Should we meet somewhere else for our date?”
“Akam Ramen is perfect, Y’saku, I’ll be starving by then,”
“Bring that legendary appetite of yours because I want the night to last,”
Their voices had faded with the closing of the door.
“Can I come in, brother,” said Yuusaku.
“I’m not really up for talking,”
“I have to tell you something,” he took his usual spot on the tatami, reminding Hyakuno that this was never his home. “It’s important,”
“I’m sure it is, Yuusaku,”
“I finally did it,” he whispered.
“You finally came out?”
“Quiet!” he shushed. “Not to mother and father,”
“What did you finally do, then?”
“I wanted to tell you,” he inched closer. “I worked up the courage to ask out this guy from the team,”
“He was eager to accept, I bet, you’re cute for a Hanazawa,”
He blushed, “I didn’t ask him, personally,”
“You had someone else ask him out?”
“Tanigaki,” he nodded. “He’s the one that talked me into it,”
“I’m confused,” Hyakuno slipped the Matagi’s key back into his pocket. “Who exactly have you worked up the courage to meet for a date?”
“His name is Abe Honma,” said Yuusaku. “He’s not my crush, but I thought I should start small and work my way up?”
“Up to what?”
“Someone like,” he shrugged. “Like you, brother,”
“I like smart guys with scars,” he mumbled. “I’m not the smartest guy at the party so I thought I’d start with Honma, for the physical experience,”
“Kumagaki told you that getting good at sex would make it easier to please intellectual guys with scars?”
“Tanigaki says you have to have a game plan,”
“He’s quite the sage, isn’t he?”
“His game is amazing,”
“I thought being handsome and hairy was his game,”
“He likes smart guys too, but most of them think he’s a stupid jock,” he then spoke with admiration. “Tanigaki plays that angle before he takes them to his apartment where they can see all his books and stuff,”
“Aren’t the books his?”
“No,” he shook his head, laughing. “They belong to his brother, he’s in South Africa finishing his doctorate,”
“So, he is a sports transfer?”
“No, he’s an academic transfer,” he said. “His family has a lot of money, so he’s got a prime GPA, but he’s playing hockey and building up his undergrad credits until he figures out what he wants to pursue,”
“He’s living your dream, isn’t Yuusaku?”
“He’s the luckiest man on the planet,”
Hyakuno sighed, “Yuusaku, he’s gaming you,”
“Genji?” he gasped. “No, I’m not even his type,”
“Does he want you to text him before you show up?”
He nodded, “I came in here to ask you for a ride to Ak-”
“–Akam Ramen, I know the place,”
“How did you know-”
“—Listen, the minute you text he’s going to reply with some bullshit story about how this Honma guy didn’t show,” Hyakuno took him by the arm and walked him toward the front door. “Then he’ll tell you he’s got someone else lined up,”
“I don’t think Genji would do that,” said Yuusaku.
“Whose idea was all of this?” Hyakuno asked.
On the drive across town, Yuusaku remained silent before texting his impending arrival to Tanigaki.
“He hasn’t responded yet, brother,”
“Probably waiting until you get there,” said Hyakuno. “He’ll come running outside to tell you it’s just the two of you,”
“You don’t know Tanigaki,,”
“Oh, you have no idea,” he parked the car and turned to find an anxious Yuusaku refreshing his phone.
“Come in with me?”
“Yuusaku,” he turned to him. “I wouldn’t leave you right now for the world,”
“Thank you, big brother,”
Across the parking lot, they spotted Tanigaki, whose smile faded upon seeing Hyakuno.
“Genji,” Yuusaku forced a smile. “This is my brother, Hyanuko,”
“We know each other, from the rifle club,” Tanigaki said.
“You joined the gun club, too?” Yuusaku asked.
Tanigaki mumbled, “I thought you were coming alone,”
“He brought me along since Honma didn’t show,” said Hyakuno.
“No, he didn’t show,” after a beat Tanigaki turned to Yuusaku. “I never called him,”
Yuusaku swallowed, “What’s going on?”
“I brought Ariko,” said Tanigaki.
“You brought him here!” Yuusaku cried.
“Brought who here?” asked Hyakuno.
“His name is Ariko Rikimatsu,” Yuusaku swooned. “He’s got dark skin, and a scar,”
“Dark skin?” Hyakuno scowled. “Like that Satsuma douche bag, Koito, you used to jerk off in gym class?”
“Nothing like him, this one’s actually a nice person,” Yuusaku then turned to Tanigaki. “How could you do this to me?”
“Keep it together, Y’saku,” Tanigaki wrapped a protective arm around Yuusaku’s shoulders and turned to Hyakuno and said, “Excuse us,” before walking him away.
“Genji, how could you do this?”
“How many weeks have talked my ear off about Ariko?” Tanigaki remained calm. “He’s the one you want, don’t waste your time with anyone else,”
Heaviness grew in the pit of Hyakuno’s stomach; he was wrong about Tanigaki. Still, he had been played, and that continued to rub him raw.
“I’m not ready for this,”
“You’re ready, and I’m not going to let you fuck up,” Tanigaki took hold of his shoulders. “You’re my bro, even if you’re not on the team anymore, okay,”
Hyakuno heard those words and laughed.
“What is it, brother?” Yuusaku asked.
“Tanigaki’s right,” he said. “Just be yourself and talk to this Ariko guy,”
Yuusaku mumbled, “What if I say the wrong things?”
“I joined that stupid-” Tanigaki eyed Hyakuno before turning and lowering his voice. “I joined that cooking club to talk you up to him. I put in the work, the least you can do, Y’saku, is get in there and try,”
“You’re right,” Yuusaku nodded. “I said my first words to Ariko, telling him you could cook when he needed a new club member,”
“That’s right,” Tanigaki nodded with him. “I made this date, for you,”
His brother smiled, “He’s in there waiting for me?”
“I told him you were on your way,” Tanigaki patted him on the back.
“Wait, you’re not coming in with me?” Yuusaku cried.
Tanigaki sighed, “I’ll be the third wheel,”
“Then I’ll be the fourth wheel,” Hyakuno added.
Yuusaku brought his hands together.
“I owe you both so much!”
Hyakuno grinned at the nervous Matagi.
“That’s what bros are for, right Tanigaki?”
Inside the four shared a booth.
Ariko was a big man with a scar down his face from a motorcycle accident in his youth. He was also an ethnic Ainu, and the thought of his racist old man’s head exploding put him in a good mood.
Ariko and Yuusaku did most of the talking as their chemistry was instantaneous, while he and Tanigaki exchanged glances that ranged from obstinate to obscene.
When the pair left them alone to watch the ramen chefs work, he decided to make his move.
“It was good what you did for him,”
Tanigaki emptied his beer mug, “He was my first friend here,”
“Maybe he’ll start coming to competitions,”
“I won’t be there,” he said, then belched.
“Think again, Tanigaki,”
“You needed me for the qualifier, and now I’m done,”
“I don’t think you’re done, Tanigaki,”
“I won’t be inconvenienced, your words, not mine,”
“That was before you played me,”
“What are you talking about?” Tanigaki wasn’t asking. “You came back willingly,”
“Here’s the thing,” Hyakuno put his hands on the table. “I’ve been queer at this campus for years, and I know all about the Bro Code,”
Tanigaki’s nostrils flared and his eyes hardened.
“You and your big Matagi cock,” he added with a smile. “Violated the bro code in a massive way,”
“What do you want, Ogata?”
“You’re going shoot at every competition,” he said.
“I got no problem shooting for you,”
“You’re also going to get your shit together and choose a graduate major,” he raised a finger. “You’re going to move out of your brother’s posh LDK, and make daddy get you a two-bedroom dorm near the Health Studies Building,”
Tanigaki’s silence was telling.
“I knew you wouldn’t derail your life for my brother,”
“No,” Tanigaki looked into his eyes. “But I’d derail my life for you,”
Ogata Hyakunosuke wasn’t sure how he ended up with a Matagi lover, but that wasn’t entirely true...