Chapter 1: In which Kouha wants attention.
Kouha flopped down in the bean bag with an overly dramatic gesture and sigh. His brother grunted as the thirteen year old boy disrupted his work with his exccessive acting. Koumei, at sixteen, didn't want to be disturbed when he was focusing on his homework. His sort-of sister tried to pretend not to look over his shoulder to copy him, but he caught Razol when she refilled her water glass with nothing but air for the third time. "I was drinking from that," he huffed, moving his textbooks so she couldn't see them. He was not pleased with seeing the entire decanter being emptied much faster than he had calculated. Razol grinned. "I didn't steal your cookies." she said, diverting his attention. "I didn't have any--" cookies... He did have sandwiches, though. All of which had disappeared. With the plate that they had been placed on being gone too, even. Koumei looked around the room and soon spotted a shuffling braid of black hair sticking out from under the table. He bent down on his side of the table. "Judal!" he accused, and the nimble boy rolled away and out from under the table. Only the plate was left, licked clean from crumbs, on the carpet. Judal gave him his most innocent look. "It wasn't me, it was Kougyoku." His accusations wouldn't have worked better even if his face hadn't been covered in evidence. "Don't lie," Koumei said, and only passed a glance over to Kouha, who was still gesturing dramatically, obviously wanting someone's attention. No one gave it to him, however. Instead, they were focused on hunting each other about the room (Koumei vs. Judal) or copying each other's homework (Razol vs. Koumei's handwriting) and it frustrated the barely-teen to no end.
With a disgruntled huff of utter displeasure, which went completely ignored, he climbed out of the bean bag in search of someone more worthy of his attention. Because that was obviously what was the problem here.
The first one he found was Muron. And Rohroh, because they were almost always together. They were almost always fighting, too, which they currently were busy doing. Obviously, they were not worth the bother. He didn't care about what it was they were fighting about, either. He didn't stop to listen in, not at all. He just heard, completely by accident and randomly, that it had something to do with her being smart and him being dumb and him losing all her library books when he went to return them in a most kind act of affection. Kouha also didn't listen to hear her accusing Rohroh of having lost the books on purpose. Which really wasn't Kouha's problem.
So he went on, heading up the stairs to see if En-nii had come home yet. If he had, he should be getting changed out of his suit, and then he was all open for wild attacks from sneaky little brother's. But he wasn't at home, and Mu-nii wasn't at home either. How annoying.
He decided not to bother with Kougyoku, not yet. He'd let her wake up on her own because the girl was just a child and wouldn't understand at all.
Yaqut wasn't at home, nor was Morgiana. Yaqut was always out running with some girl, Kouha had noticed from spying at the tall sixteen year old's emails. He was so different from Mei-nii, and they were supposed to be close in age. Morgiana was probably off playing with Alibaba and Aladdin. So Childish. And it wasn't like he wanted to play too, because he wasn't a child or anything.
He finally managed to find someone who seemed up to listen to him. But then those two seemed interested in listening to anything anyone ever said.
At least they were a grateful audience that payed attention to a certain degree. You can't expect too much of a three-year-old toddler and a tiger.
"You know what!" Kouha sat down beside the little girl, and picked up a squishy crocodile toy. "No one appreciates me!" He made another of his dramatic gestures, and the child seemed utterly delighted by it, her braids bouncing as she watched excitedly. "Why do I have to be vice president in any committe? I should be the top. En-nii was top, Mei-nii is top. It's unfair." He pouts. "I mean, even Gyoku is top." And then a thoughtful silence. "He's gotta have it in for her," he told her in a whisper. "That teacher. It's creepy, should I punch him? If I put a lizard in his coffee, would he learn to stay away from my sister?" The real problem here was that he didn't like the attention one of Kougyoku's teachers were giving her. It was not something he should do, not towards his sister. She was only ten after all. "I'll scare him off." He nodded, pleased with his decision. "And if he doesn't back off, he'll suffer the consequences of my wrath." For a thirteen-year-old, he was an excellent prankster. He was good, and if he singled someone out as a target, they would have to get many extra eyes or they'd never see him coming.
He nodded again. "Yup." He gave the girl her toy, wriggling it in his hands as if it were alive, for a few moments, then he patted her on the head. "Good talking to you, kid, very helpful."
Chapter 2: In which Yaqut's secret stash is unearthed.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Yaqut was in a pinch. Definitely, without question.
He hadn't realized it at first, but that usually was the case when you were utterly doomed to fail miserably.
When he came home, cheerful and ready for whatever challenges an afternoon with his siblings and adoptive siblings tended to entail, he had not expected a group of children huddled together on the living-room floor.
Least of all with a whole stack of books that had been cleverly hidden under his bed.
"Qu-nii," Kouha eyed him from the floor, where he sat cross-legged with their small black-haired devil in his lap. "Who's the lady?" He showed him a double-spread of one very beautiful lady that Yaqut very intimately (in his dreams) knew as Ai-chan. "Uh, a lady." he said, completely dumbfounded. How had they found those books? That was his collection, hidden carefully from prying eyes of younger siblings.
"Because I don't have eyes to see with," the thirteen-year-old little demon said, voice dripping of sarcasm.
"No, you don't, so give me that and stop oogling."
"Moogle?" the toddler in her corner of toys asked, looking away from the tv, and Yaqut nodded. He was pretty sure that the little girl had not seen any of the images. She was way too easily influenced. "Yeah, let's just play moogle instead. That's fun, right?"
"No." came Kouha's and Judal's and Razol's chorusing voices. The girl was obviously enjoying this way too much, knowing exactly what they were all looking at. Really, they were all so uncute.
Kouha flipped another few pages, and paused on a very revealing image of Yoshiki-san.
"Qu-chan, why is the lady naked?" Kougyoku had turned her big eyes at him, and he didn't know what he should say to save the girl's innocence. She really shouldn't be looking. It might be too late for Judal on the innocence part, but it wasn't for Kougyoku, or for Morgiana. They should stay in the field of innocence for many years onward.
He sent a look toward Koumei, who was sitting with his own book (not gravure, but some boring novel of some kind) and looked at him with pleading eyes. Koumei's eyebrows rose, as if he really couldn't undestand what Yaqut so desperately wanted help with.
"Mei, what did I ever do to you!" Yaqut shouted, and Koumei turned his eyes back to his book. "Besides dragging me to adult movies?" he asked, and Yaqut made a face. "They're good, you enjoyed them." he countered. Koumei looked back up. "I didn't dislike them. It's not really the same."
"It's totally the same," Razol remarked, finally being helpful. Yaqut nodded firmly. "Yeah, don't act like you don't like something you obviously like." he said. "Speaking of, we're going to a viewing tomorrow night, it's---" he cut himself off, ignoring the intrigued sounds from Razol and the disgruntled ones from Koumei.
Kouen had appeared in the doorway, gaze wandering between the children in the room, and the books on the floor. "I will assume that I don't want to know what is going on," he stated, and left as if he had not even looked into the room in the first place.
Yaqut groaned. He was sure that En-san would distract Mu-nii from coming to his rescue. Why did he have to deal with this?
This afternoon really wasn't his day.
Things I didn't think I'd research for a fic: gravure models. Ai-chan is Shinozaki Ai. Yoshiki-san is Yoshiki Risa.
Chapter 3: In which Koumei wishes gym class was banned.
Girls and boys were supposed to have gym seperately. None the less, some girls tended to get involved in the boys hard-ball sports, because playing sports with soft-balls 'was for wussies,' according to some of the girls. Koumei wouldn't have minded using soft-balls instead, but he knew that his sister enjoyed the hard-ball sports immensely.
Koumei knew this because they were in the same class, and he often watched her score on even the toughest and most athletic guys, while he in turn sat out because of some made-up excuse or other. He didn't enjoy ball sports. Or sports in general, really. It just wasn't his thing.
Today was the same, with Razol making most of the scores. Curse athletes.
In his corner of the hall, Koumei sat with a notebook in his lap and a pen in hand. He was working on an essay that he wanted to get done today, and this class would give him just enough time for rewriting it after making the first draft. About half the lesson passed without any bigger event, and it wasn't until just before half-time was called in whatever games that were going on, that it happened for the first time.
He was so startled that he slipped down from the bench he was sitting on. A ball hit the wall right beside him, hard. He could swear that there was an indent from the force behind the blow. He looked toward the court and saw Razol sheepishly make apologetic hand gestures in his direction. He just sent her a glare, and turned back to his notes once he had pulled himself back up on the bench.
The second time he was almost hit it wasn't by his sister, nor was the third, but the fourth time, it was. After each time, he moved a bit further away from the boy's court, but they still managed to get close hits.
The fifth time the ball came his way, however, it hit its target (because he could swear they were all secretly aiming for him) and he clutched his face and made noises of pain even as he tried not to. It felt as if his nose had broken.
Since he wasn't really focused on anything but the blinding pain, he didn't really know who hit him, but it didn't take long until someone carried him off to the nurses office.
As he was getting looked over by the nurse - who insisted that his nose was not broken, despite his conviction - he noticed that his sister was there, with an ice pack pressed over an eye. When he asked her about it, she said she was hit by a ball, but he knew that couldn't be true. She was too good for that to happen.
Instead, he later found out she had jumped the guy who had hit him, and someone had landed an accidental punch on her (or maybe she punched herself) while they were pulling her off of the guy.
All in all, Koumei decided for not the first time that he absolutely loathed gym class, and that it shouldn't exist, period. No one should be allowed to play such dangerous games.
Chapter 4: Bath time is, simply put, horrible
Things are not going well for Kouen. He would rather not admit to having trouble with anything, ever, but right now, he finds himself in a great struggle for his life, in a battle that he is fairly - almost entirely - certain that he cannot win.
The bathroom is a war zone. He is soaked to the bone and no towels are left dry. Every item in the room is over-turned and just about every inch are covered in soap suds. Kouen is particularly covered in the gently perfumed thing. Or perhaps that's just the way he sees it in his irritation.
Water splashes everywhere and Kouen sputters after another Great Big Wave hits him square in the face.
He sneezes as he gets soap in his nose and he slips and falls flat on his face, nose suddenly smarting painfully, when he tries to catch the little girl that snakes out of his grip, out of the tub, and away to the over-turned laundry basket. The way everything is going, he wouldn't be surprised if his nose had been broken by the floor tiles, even if he isn't sure if it's blood or water wetting his face even more.
Completely dishevelled with hair on end and shirt almost falling off because of several buttons having been torn off, he gets back to his feet, almost slipping on the wet tiles again but he somehow manages to regain his balance, and he follows the child, who has planted her bare ass in the middle of the dirty laundry. When she sees him coming, she crawls into the laundry basket, and he tips it back up on the right end. She squeals in delight. As if it were some new kind of game - and Kouen curses, ignoring the fact that his husband would be upset to hear such language around such a small child. But if she really gets it into her three-year-old little head that this really is a new, exciting game, they are sure to suffer the consequences of laundry everywhere and baskets on the run.
The basket is lifted off the ground and placed on the washing machine, so he can fish the laughing girl out of the basket. She, in amusement, tugs at his goatee, and he scowls at her. "That is not a toy, young lady," he scolds. He says it over the sound of the bathroom door opening, and he continues to tell the child about proper manners. Proper manners which does not include pulling your brother-in-law's facial hair or bangs or biting his fingers or ruining his clothes. Then he stops, mid-rant, as he hears the soft sound of a chuckle. Now, normally, he likes the sound of that gentle laugh, but now he rounds in his husband, and abruptly walks over to him, while the child puts his wet hair in her mouth and sucks on it.
"And you." He shoves a finger into Mu's chest; the man looks startled, and even takes a step back as he sees the dark look on Kouen's face. "You were the one who made me do this."
"I didn't really make you do it, I just asked if you---" Mu falls silent when Kouen sends him an even darker glare.
Kouen untangles his hair from the small mouth and pushes the toddler into Mu's arms, and stomps past him. "You will clean up this mess and her bath. If it is not clean when I come home, I swear to god that I will force you to sleep on the balcony for the rest of the week."
Mu doesn't protest, or even point out that he must mean the whole next week? as it is Sunday. "Where are you going?" he asks instead, a hint of confusion in his voice.
"To buy cigarettes so I can calm my nerves," Kouen says through gritted teeth, and he hears a disgruntled, concerned sound from Mu. But the man doesn't get the chance to protest against the habit, as the girl he's holding does something - perhaps she tugs at his impossibly long hair - because the only thing Kouen can hear as he heads for the door is "ow ow ow" and then he's out the door in wet clothes and he knows its dumb but he grabbed a coat and he'll go to the public bath house to wash all of the baby-perfumed soap out of his hair, and buy one of the yukata that they have there. They have an open bath where he can smoke, anyway, and he can buy his cigarettes on the way.
Chapter 5: Why must some alone-time have to be so hard to get?
This chapter is half a lemon? I guess?
It's very hard to get some private time in in the Ren-Alexius household. It's very easy to notice that when you're trying really hard to get some time alone, and the two spouses can testify to that.
Now, Mu loves his siblings, he really does, he loves them very very much - so much that he took them all in to care for, after their parents died in an accident a few years back. But sometimes, he would like a break from them. Just a little one, for perhaps a few hours. And not a break that he's given by hours at the station, no. He wants them while he's off duty, while his husband has time off from his work, so he can enveope him in an embrace of tangled limbs and sweat and gasps and intimate, sweet pleasure.
But that is hard, when you share house with eleven children and an animal, and it proves harder and harder the older the children becomes, the more they understand and the more mobility they get. For each and every one that learns to open a closed door, they have one more to avoid even harder. It often doesn't even help to lock the door, because more than one child has the strength to rip it right out of the frame, even if it's locked.
But finally, after all are abed and, hopefully, sleeping, there can sometimes be room for a few moments of passion.
Kouen's head is tipped back, hair loose and splaying over the pillow, his teeth digging into his lower lip and his hands are fisted in pristine sheets. Mu is pressing a trail of kisses along his exposed throat, and the younger man is trying his hardest not to make any sounds. They don't want to wake the children. Mu knows that. But still, he wants to hear him make sounds of pleasure. He wants to hear gasps and groans and moans pass those beautiful red, kiss-swollen lips, and he wants to kiss his lips even more and swallow his sounds and he wants to claim him every way possible, again and again and again.
Kouen's shirt is already on the floor, and one of Mu's hands are at the waist-band of his pants, bunching them up a little and pulling lightly to reveal more skin. He bites lightly, just between the juncture between Kouen's neck and shoulder, and then he moves to kiss and bite a little lower, just shy of a collar-bone. He feels the ghosting touch of Kouen's smooth chest and stomach against his own as he arches upward. This is one of his more sensitive spots, the first spot that Mu had found when they started dating, back when Kouen was barely of age and Mu was still new to his job at the police station. Even back then, many years ago, he had loved the taste of Kouen's skin; clean, pale, smooth and just a little bit salty. The then teenage man had, the first time Mu tasted his neck, suddenly pressed flush against him, the most delicious sound escaping him. He had had much less self control back then, and not all that much experience. He didn't lack it, but he had been unfamiliar to the touch of another man. He had gone to the gay bar where they first met out of curiosity, he would later tell Mu. He would also, even later, admit that he had been hooked on Mu's touches in an instant. They were so different from a woman's, he had told him; bigger and rougher and still, much more gentle and caring.
Mu can still make Kouen climax with only kisses, and he is proud of it. He isn't quite there yet however, but he will be, soon. He rubs a thumb against one of Kouen's hip-bones, and catches his lips again, pushing his tongue inside his warm mouth.
Kouen's arms wraps about his shoulders, fingers curling into his hair, pulling him closer.
Then there is a sharp knock on the door, and a loud voice declaring "I'm hungry!" and Mu can feel Kouen mouth words against his lips. If we pretend to be asleep, he might leave.
'Might' is a too uncertain word, however. Most of all when it comes to this particular child. He might leave, but Judal might also stay outside their room for hours, asking for one thing or the other, or he might go wake one of his siblings and in the end, the entire house might be awake in the middle of the night and they would be exhausted in school and at work because once they were awake, it took ages for them to go back to sleep.
Mu sighs, and shakes his head. "Better not," he murmurs, giving his precious husband a quick kiss, and Kouen understands his train of thoughts very well. A look of indifference slips onto his face as Mu rolls out of bed, pulling a random pair of underwear on. From the bed, Kouen notes that they are his, and not Mu's. They fit too tightly for that particular model, but it gives him a nice view of his ass and he decides to stop that particular thought until Mu comes back to bed, after Judal is asleep again. Otherwise, he just might have to take matters in his own hands, and he would much rather Mu handle that.
Chapter 6: In sickness and in health
This is a sequel to chapter 4.
It wasn't like he hadn't known how stupid it was when he did it. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he had probably, even through his irritation, known how stupid he was being. One always ought to expect consequences when going outdoors in wet clothes. Perhaps catching a cold serves him right or something, but at least he should be grateful that he didn't get pneumonia. From what he has been told (since he has never personally had pneumonia) it was not a pleasant experience.
Not that it was a pleasant experience to have a bad cold, either, because he couldn't stop shivering.
When he was awoken by his alarm, his body had been heavy and there had been a fog clouding his mind. He was barely able to gather the strength to turn off the painfully loud clock. Feeling way too cold for comfort, he slowly rolled over to the other side of the bed and joined Mu under his bedsheets, to steal some of his body heat. He could feel back musces shift as Mu looked over his shoulder in surprise, then turned around to have a good look at him. Apparently, he looked pale or something of the sorts, since Mu looked concerned.
"Damn," Mu murmured as he put a pleasantly warm hand on Kouen's forehead. "You're burning up."
Kouen disagreed. "I'm freezing,"
"Yes, it would feel that way to you," Mu said, reaching toward his bedside table for the phone. "I'm going to call you in sick, okay." Kouen felt like he ought to protest, for example, he had an important meeting later in the day, but he didn't have the energy to do anything. Instead, he half dozed off with one of Mu's arms wrapped around him, only catching bits and pieces of Mu's conversation with his secretary. Did Seishuu have to be so loud? Why was he even shouting, he was giving him a headache. "Shut up," he muttered into Mu's shoulder, and it seemed as if Seishuu heard the hoarse rasp and finally relented; for some reason he always thought Mu was 'up to something' or 'trying to steal' Kouen and Kouen didn't really get it, but it was annoying.
After Mu hung up, he extracted himself from Kouen and the bed, and Kouen was disturbed by it. He tried to get grip of something to keep him in bed, but there was just skin and more skin. "En, I'm going to get you medicine, okay?" he explained as he tucked Kouen in. "Then you ought to get some sleep, and I'll take the kids to school." He left the room, and when he came back, there was the sound of other footsteps following him. He heard Mu say something to the children, and the extra sets of feet disappeared. Most likely he had asked them to go eat their breakfast and get ready for school, because En-nii should get some peace and quiet since he felt and looked pathetic. Though Mu wouldn't call him pathetic, he was too nice and well-mannered for that.
Then he got help into sitting position, and he leaned against Mu for support. The man kept a firm hand on his waist, and helped him take the medicine. When Kouen cringed at the disgusting taste of the thing, he rubbed a thumb against his waist and murmured something Kouen couldn't quite hear into his ear, but it was soothing, none the less.
Kouen didn't notice when he dozed off, but when he blinked awake, the sunlight was sticking sharply into his eyes, and he felt something cold and wet on his face. He squeezed his eyes shut as he got something in them. "What?" he croaked out. It seemed the sleep had made his voice even hoarser. He heard a squeak, and a small sob, and he raised a hand to feel a sopping wet piece of cloth on his forehead. He brushed water out of his eyes, and when he turned his head toward the sound, the towel fell down onto his pillow.
His little sister Kougyoku was standing beside the bed, a very concerned and worried expression on her ten-year-old face. Her hands were wet, and so were her sleeves, all the way up to her elbows. He sighed. "What are you doing?" he asked slowly, and she jumped, a guilty look making it's way onto her face. He could figure out what she was doing, however, even through the fog covering his mind. "You're supposed to use a damp towel, not a wet one." he explained to her.
Kougyoku's lower lip quivered, but before the little girl could start crying, Mu was back in the room and crouched beside her, gently patting her on the head. "It's alright, honey, don't worry. En-nii isn't mad, he knows you only meant to help." He said something more, and it appeared to calm Kougyoku down. When he asked if she could go get dry sheets, she nodded with vigour, and hurried out of the room to do as asked.
"You've slept all day," Mu informed him calmly. "How are you feeling?" he then asked, as he wiped Kouen's forehead and neck dry with a piece of a pillow case. Kouen made a noncommittal sound, and then a less pleased one as Mu picked him up in his arms. He was coccooned in blankets and had great difficulties moving. "This was a one-time deal when we married," Kouen grumbled. He wasn't too keen on the so-called bridal-style carrying. Mu only grinned, moving him over into the big, woven straw chair they had in the bedroom. "Now, I've restrained myself ever since our wedding night, you know," he said, and brushed Kouen's wet bangs out of his face. They both knew that Mu was the type of person who loved physical contact, and they could both remember that when they first had this discussion, Mu had asked if Kouen wanted to carry him instead then? even though they were both aware of the fact that something like that was impossible, since Mu was a lot heavier than Kouen, as well as much stronger. Kouen huffed, and buried his nose in the blankets. "This reeks of sweat and musk," he muttered, and Mu chuckled. Since they were Mu's bedsheets, they smelled of him, and Kouen sometimes pointed out that Mu should change his sheets more often, or shower more often, since everything he wore or wrapped up in had a tendency to smell heavily of him. Not that he was only complaining, because he didn't hate how his stupid husband smelled.
His gaze wandered over to Kougyoku, who tottered back into the room more or less drowning in mismatched bedsheets. She looked like she had had some mishaps and dropped them a few times on the way, as they had been unrolled, unfolded, and were crumpled into unruly bundles. Still, Mu gave her an approving look and praised her on a job well done.
Kouen watched as the two remade the bed, Kougyoku sometimes rolling or tripping in her attempts to be useful, and she wasn't very good at it, but she seemed happy to help and happy over all the encouragement she recieved from Mu. It was a bit odd, how well the man got along with Kouen's siblings, since they had all been upset when they found out about their involvement with each other. Jealousy, Kin Gaku had said that it was. The kids had been jealous and worried about this huge man with a thick mane of red hair coming to rob them of their beloved older brother. They had calmed down though, and in the end, they had ended up living with them, since their mother had died and their father was too busy to keep an eye on them, and it hadn't felt entirely safe to leave them all in the big house alone with just the servants. And now they had no servants, and instead they had a bunch of kids helping each other out and taking care of each other. It was a lot different from when Kouen was a kid, to say the least. Warmer, in a way. A lot warmer.
He realized he had become lost in his thoughts when he was suddenly untangled from the warm blankets and helped to his feet. He held back any protests, and went back to his side of the bed, which was now made with clean, dry sheets -- one Star Wars pillowcase, one with Pokémon and one duvet cover with some magical girl anime pattern - he'd think about the combination later -- and after he was offered water to drink, he laid back down. Kougyoku, still concerned and a bit worried that she had offended him, nervously stood watching while Mu tucked him back in. Kouen shifted to allow her some space under his blankets, and she was soon cuddled up against his chest. A few moments later, Mu was wrapped around him from behind, and smiled down at him and the girl, who had instantly gone to sleep. "Such a kind big brother," he said, pressing his lips to one of Kouen's temples. Kouen said nothing, too tired to come up with an answer, and only entwined his fingers with Mu's. "Shut up and let me sleep," he finally muttered, and a few minutes later, he was sleeping even more soundly than his little sister.
Chapter 7: Fairy Tale Hour
Now with more Fanalis names in the list in the first chapter, and a proper read-through to fix spelling and errors, in the earlier chapters.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Mu cracks an eye open and watches the child watching them. He tilts his head to the side with an inquiring look on his face as he softly combes his fingers through Kouen's hair, to keep the man asleep against his chest.
"Morgiana?" he asks silently, so as to not wake his husband. "What's wrong?"
Morgiana shuffles closer, a stoic expression on her face. She looks between the two men on the couch, and then picks up a book from the floor, where it had fallen after it had slipped out of Kouen's grip. She carefully places the book on the table, and then looks toward the bookshelf standing behind Mu's head. He tips his head back to see what she is looking for, and sees her eyes locked on an old collection of Grimm fairytales. He smile. "You want to read it?" he ask, and she nods.
The problem is, it is just out of her reach, which is why she has such a thoughtful look on her face when she looks between the book and the sleeping redhead. She is clearly trying to figure out how to get the book down from the shelf without waking up her brother-in-law, and the chairs and arm-chairs are too heavy for her to move without making too much noise.
Mu waves her closer, and she gasp when he hoist her upward. It is just a little boost, because he can't get a perfect grip on her while still in the couch, not without moving too much, but she manages to reach it, and when he drops her back on the floor, she clutches the thick old book to her chest. She bites her lip, and with whispers, Mu asks if she wants him to read. "If we're quiet about it, we might not wake Sleeping Beauty," he says, and she hushes him, a finger pressed to his lips, and one pressed to her own. Then she nods, climbs onto the arm of the couch, and worms her way up beside her brother. While he keeps an arm securely around her, she opens the book, and he reads to her in a hushed voice.
During the tale, Mu feels Kouen stirr against him, and knows the man is listening as well, eyes still closed. After the story ends, Morgiana closes the book, and gets out of the couch. Kouen's voice come in a low murmur, after Morgiana has slipped away. "The Girl With Silver Hands?" he asks, "Really? To a child?"
Mu chuckles, thinking that Kouen really shouldn't talk about children reading gruesome stories. "It's your book, En. And from what I have understood, you read it at a far younger age." Kouen merely shakes his head, and shifts into a more comfortable position, now that he's awake.
"If I am Briar Rose to you," Kouen says as he watches Morgiana flip through the book to look at the pictures and show them to her younger sister, "does that make you the prince? Or can I call you Rapunzel?" Mu chuckles, and wraps his arms closer around him, fondly watching his sisters with the book. "I'll be whatever you want, love." he says, and Kouen hums. Mu presses a kiss against the top of his head, and smiles as Morgiana returns, little Narda sliding over the floor as she holds onto the older girls dress, like she is a tail. "En-san," she says evenly, "will you read to us?"
Kouen raises an eyebrow. "Very well," he says, and takes the book. When all four have made themselves comfortable, he starts to read to the girls, and Mu has to stop himself from snorting, because how is Cinderella better, when both stories involves mutilation? He doesn't say anything, however, and listens to the girls gasp in horror at the bloody tale. For some reason, they love these dark stories, and there is some moral to at least most of the Grimm's stories.
He props his chin against Kouen's head when the girls ask to hear another one, and this time Mu reads, while Kouen turns the pages. They choose a happier, less morbid one, to outbalance the two morbid tales from before, and when the children goes to bed that evening, Morgiana asks him how tall animals standing on each others backs would really be, and it becomes a little discussion, before the girl peacefully goes to sleep.
I think some of the stories I read was censored, while others were not. I didn't even know there were versions where Cinderellas sisters didn't cut off part of their feet, for example. Morbid stories are good, though, and I enjoy endings like that of the Little Mermaid, with the version where she turns into sea foam and dies.
Chapter 8: Bunny Trap
Early on a Saturday morning, Kouen is woken up from his very nice sleep. With a grumble, he pulls a pillow over his head and hopes the noise will stop. What the hell are the kids up to and why isn't Mu telling them to be quiet? A gigantic crash makes him emerge, and when he notices he's in Mu's end of the bed and sees that it's 05:56, he remembers that Mu is out working late. He must not be home yet.
He sighs, and rolls out of bed. He pulls on pajama pants and shirt, then hurries downstairs.
The sound comes from the living room, so he heads there. The moment he steps into the room, he finds himself hoisted up to the cieling. "What!?" What just happened? Why is he stuck in a net dangling from the cieling. He looks down when he hears an "oops?" from down below. "Kouha, Judal, Razol! What are you doing?" He glares down at the three trouble makers--wait, no, four--"Judal, don't carry your sister like that. She's not a bag of rice." Judal lets go of the grip under Narda's armpits, and Kouen groans. "Don't just drop her like that." Thankfully, the girl landed on her padded behind, and she wasn't soon to cry, but that could have gone badly.
"What are you guys up to--don't you dare run away! Kids!" Of course they disappeared out of the room. Kouen drops his head back against the net, and his shoulders sags. He definitely heard Kouha says "We're supposed to be in bed!" when they fled and left Kouen dangling in their trap. Narda makes a cooing sound where she toddles around on the floor. "Good morning, little one," Kouen grumbles to the girl. "I don't suppose you know how to let me down?" Apparently not, since she crawls under the TV - despite Kouen telling her not to - and falls asleep. Kouen decides to follow her example because he can't do anything else right now.
He glances down, and sees that Mu is finally home. "Nothing, just chilling," he mutters.
Mu tips his head to the side, "Want to come down?"
Kouen rolls his eyes and looks back up at the cieling. "Oh no, I'm comfortable up here." He groans when he sees Mu turn on his heel, and then the man looks up at him. "Okay, then I'll just go get coffee--"
"Mu!" He snaps at his husband, and Mu turns back with a grin. Kouen glares at him. "Let me down, alright?" Mu continues to smile, and runs a finger down Kouen's spine. "What'll you give me if I do?" he asks, and Kouen glares even more. "Getting to keep your ass in one piece?"
"I think both my ass and your ass are in two parts, though." With a laugh, Mu runs his finger down his spine again, and Kouen leans into the touch as much as he can. "Stop that and just--" He shudders. "--just let me down!"
With a twist, Mu pulls a rope and catches Kouen before he hits the floor. "How about a kiss for your knight?"
Kouen snorts, "next time you're in a shining armor. Now put me down and lets find those prankster kids."
After Mu finally lets him down, after several loving kisses, he fishes out Narda from under the television, picks her up and pulls Mu along out of the livingroom. Where were the kids?
They find them huddled up under a blanket in Razol's and Muron's room, and Mu pulls the blanket off of them as Narda pulls at Kouen's hair. "What were you kids up to?" he asks, and glances over to Kouen. "Big brother Kouen was stuck for two hours in your trap."
All three gave them their most innocent looks, and Judal explains. "Catching the Easter Bunny?"
"The Easter Bunny?" Kouen asks, eyebrows raised. "What Easter--" Mu covers his mouth with a hand, and whispers into his ear. "Play along with them, En." Then he turns to the kids, hand dropping from Kouen's mouth to his shoulder, where he soothingly rubs a thumb against a tense muscle. "I understand, the Easter Bunny is tricky to catch. Now, Razol, why're you helping them?"
The girl grins wide, mischeviously. "Bunny steak," she says. "Bunny!" the toddler protests loudly. "Indeed," Kouen agrees, bouncing the upset little girl up and down to appease her. "No eating the bunny." He leans back against Mu. "So how about we try not to catch the bunny?" He does not want to get stuck in another net. Narda gives him as big of a disappointed look as a three year old girl can give a twenty-seven year old man. "Bunny!" she protests, and Kouen sighs. Apparently she had a new favorite word.
"How about," Mu says, ruffling the girls hair. "we get a bunny you can keep? The Easter Bunny has to work, you know."
Kouen gives him an irritated look. All children gasp, and cries out in delight. "Bunny!!"
Family trips can be pretty exhausting, but thankfully, they at least have a big enough car to fit them all. Or rather, a mini bus, instead of a car. Narda is buckled up in her chair behind Mu's seat, while Kouen is behind the wheel. It's a bit of a bother though, because right behind him is Rohroh, and right behind him is Muron. And of course, the two children are bickering, despite Kougyoku, sitting beside Muron, trying to mediate. She is very flustered though, and Morgiana in the seat on her other side is trying to calm down the girl who is on the brink of tears. Asha, sitting between Rohroh and an asleep Narda, is completely ignoring the fight, and is doing her make-up. Taraneh is bouncing up and down in the far back - not that Kouen can see the tiger from where he sits - and in front of her is Razol, Kouha and Judal, plotting some mischief that Koumei is trying to get them to stop, and Yaqut cheers both sides on. Mostly to rile up Koumei more.
The voices gets louder and louder, and it gets harder and harder to have a decent conversation with his husband. Despite knowing they're close to the mall, Kouen drives in to the side of the road, and stops the car. He turns around, and glares at the squabbling children. "Rohroh, Razol, switch places."
"What!?" The two children protests, and are joined by Kouha and Judal. Of course they would, Razol likes to prank people just as much as they do. Mu shushes the protests, and offers up an argument. "You don't want En-nii to run us off the road because of a misplaced shove," he gives Rohroh and Muron a pointed look. Then he looks toward the far back of the minibus. "And you three, I don't want to be called to the station because you've been arrested. Or have to arrest you."
Won over with threats of crashes and jailtime, the fifteen year old girl and thirteen year old boy switches places. Kouha scoots to the side into Judal, and Razol leans into the bus door after it's closed, because Asha thinks that she needs to get some shadow on her eyelids, while Razol is not a fan of make-up.
The rest of the trip is more peaceful, and when they reach their destination, the children tumbles out of the bus in a hurry. Razol runs off to the bathroom to wash off the make-up. "I'll meet you at the store!" she shouts at them, but they all know that they'll lose her to the sports shop.
Mu unbuckles Narda and picks her up. She fondly plays with his hair and puts it in her mouth. Kouen looks over at them, and prods Mu in the ribs with a finger. "Don't let her do that," he says, and disentangles the girl from Mu's hair before she starts seriously chewing on it. Then he takes hold of his hand in one of his, and Kougyoku's in the other. "Koumei, don't let Judal or Kouha out of your sight," he says to his brother, then adds, to Yaqut; "Help him out, will you? Kougyoku," he looks down at the ten year old. "will you keep an eye on Morgiana for me?" Kougyoku nods eagerly, and offers her free hand to the younger girl. As this happens, Mu breaks up another fight between Rohroh and Muron, and Asha says she's off to Kicks, because she's out of nailpolish.
In a partly organized troop, they find their way to the pet store, where it gets much less organized. Only the three youngest girls stays with the married couple, even Koumei disappearing when he is dragged off by two younger brothers and one older.
The five of them goes off to the rabbits, where Mu has to crouch down to the floor so Narda can say hello and pet them. A girl from the counter comes over to assisst them, letting Kougyoku hold one of the little animals. One incredibly fluffy furball. As she does she flutters her eyelashes at Mu, and it makes Kouen annoyed. He gets even more annoyed when another woman comes over to pretend to talk to him about animals while actually flirting with him. "Miss, I'm not interested," he glares from one woman to the other. "And you, if you dare to put those hands on my husband, you will be out of a job within the minute." The words must work wonders - actually, it's the look on his face - because the women squeaks and runs off back to the counter. Mu looks up, apparently oblivious to the shop assisstants advances, and Kouen crouches down beside him. He pets the bunny in Kougyoku's arms and watches hers and Morgiana's faces of delight. "Notice, will you?"
Mu gives him a clueless look, then seems to figure out what all the woman's implications meant. "Oh, but I have you, love." He leans over and gives him a quick kiss on the cheek. Kouen huffs, and turns his head to pull him in for a proper kiss. "Oooh, cute and fluffy."
They look up, only to find a familiar face. "Sinbad," Mu grumbles, just as pleased to see the nouveau riche man as Kouen is. "How nice to see you," Kouen adds, "now that you've said hello, you can leave. Goodbye."
Sinbad laughs, and bends down to pet Kougyoku's rabbit. The girl looks up at him, eyes sparkling. She practically has hearts in her eyes, and it is not making Kouen happy. "Girls, choose what rabbit you want so we can get the stuff we need and check out and leave this annoying moron." Again, Sinbad laughs. "So harsh, Kouen. It's like you don't like me."
Kouen gives him a deadpan look. "That's because I don't. So beat it."
Sinbad scowls, confusion on his face. "Is this because I didn't inherit my money like you did?"
That is not the issue, his husband was adopted into his family and came from poverty before that. "No, it's because you're you and I hate your personality." Sinbad gives him a winning look. "Your boyfriend is a lot like me." Kouen thinks that Sinbad already knows that he's talking trash and that he's not going to convince anyone.
Kouen is just about to mention that, but is interrupted. "If I may?" Mu pipes up from where he's still sitting crouched down with Narda in his lap. "but I am not at all like you. Besides, I'm not his boyfriend, I'm his husband."
"Exactly," Kouen agrees. "Mu is not at all as manipulative as you are."
Sinbad winces. "Ouch." Then he startles, when a hand clamps down on his shoulder. He looks up, and lets out an oh. "Hi Masrur," he glances down, "hi Ja'far."
One tall, redhaired twentytwo year old man looks blankly at Sinbad, while a short, freckled elevenyear old boy gives him a look of disappointment. "Sinbad," the boy says, and tugs on Sinbad's pants. "We're done here, and you're coming now. We're going home."
Sinbad laughs. This time nervously. "Oh but Ja'far, I was just---" He's interrupted when a distressed Koumei finds them. "Brother, Judal is trying to eat the fish."
Kouen gets up and gives Sinbad another look full of dislike. Then he follows Koumei to the aquariums, to pull Judal out of them. With an armful of sopping wet, flailing nine year old, he finds a man who works in the store and asks him for help to gather everything they need for a rabbit. He has to put down Judal to fix it, and the boy stays with him for a while, but he joins Mu with the rabbits. When he returns to them, most of the kids are deciding which rabbit to buy. Except Judal, who is trying to fight with Ja'far, while Mu and Masrur are holding them back. Koumei seems to have given up, and is, as far as Kouen can tell, sleeping. While standing up. Kouen whacks him in the head, and the boy startles awake. "We're leaving."
"Bunny!" Narda says, trying to crawl into the rabbit cage. Kouen bends down to pick her up, and asks the girl, "Which one do you like the most, Narda?" The girl points at the rabbit that Kougyoku still is cuddling, while Morgiana pets Kougyoku to help her to keep her from going from the verge of tears to actual tears. "That one?" Then she points at the cage. "...all of them? Honey, we said one." She snivels, and tears well up in her eyes.
"Don't cry, pretty young lady." Kouen snaps his head toward Sinbad, and glares. "Don't flirt with my family," he snaps, and Sinbad pulls back. "Easy there, Kouen. You look like you're about to bite my head off." Kouen's eyes narrows. "Maybe I should." Sinbad backs away even further. "Ooohkay, you two, we're leaving now..." He grabs the backs of Ja'far's and Masrur's shirts, and backs away even more. "Let's go let's go."
Mu grins at Kouen when finally Sinbad leaves, all the while holding back a hissing, still wet Judal. "So, rabbits."
Kouen sighs. "She wants all of them." Mu turns to the little girl. "How about just two, sweetie?" She pouts, but he manages to convince her. While the children picks out another rabbit besides the one Kougyoku had, Mu has to convince Kouen of the change of plans. "Rabbits can die if they get lonely." he says. Kouen gives him a thoughtful look. "Like you, then?" Mu sticks out his tongue at him, then grins. When he kisses him, he is convinced. "I suppose a couple isn't that bad."
Bunnies: http://i.imgur.com/7qOPWds.jpg & http://i.imgur.com/m4Nnzay.gif
Chapter 10: Little sister moves in
The doorbell chimes at seven in the evening a normal Friday. Kouen sighs and puts down his book, pulling himself out of Mu's lap and depositing Morgiana there instead. When he comes to the door and opens it, he's surprised at who he finds. "Kourei?"
His younger sister stands with a hand on a hip and a determined look on her face. "Brother, I am devastated!" She sounds dramatic, but she doesn't look it. Kouen gives her a look full of doubt. "Oh yes, clearly."
She purses her lips, and raises an eyebrow at his doubt. "Kouen-nii-sama, my boyfriend dumped me, can I stay with you?" He sighs, knowing that it wasn't a question; it was a demand. "...in your old room." Kourei was clearly not pleased with this. "With Asha?"
Kouen nods. "And Narda." This made Kourei even more displeased. "But she's a baby."
"That's a baby."
"No," Kouen says, "That's a toddler. You know where the room is, I'll get you a mattress." He was given a look full of disbelief. "No bed?" Kourei pulls in her bags as Kouen turns to head up the stairs. "Judal uses that bed." A gasp. "Why?"
"You moved out of here and in with your boyfriend." Kouen wondered why younger siblings could be such a hassle, when Kourei mopes. "Not any more." Kouen opens the linen closet and piles sheets in his arms. "And it's not your bed any more." He knocks on Asha's door, preparing for loud protests. Asha has gotten used to living with the little girl, she would not like sharing with Kourei again.
He was right. Asha was hard to convince, but Kourei assured them all that she was going to move out as soon as she could. Which would mean "as soon as she got a boyfriend with a place of his own" because she was unlikely to move in with someone living with their parents.
Koumei scoots over in the couch when she motions for him to make room, and Koumei ends up uncomfortably squished against Rohroh. Kourei ruffles her little brother's hair, and he gives her a disgruntled look. "Going good in school, sis?" Koumei gives her another disgruntled look. "I'm a boy," he says, and pulls away when Kourei loops an arm around his shoulders. "Of course, bro, love you."
Mu watches from the living room door, and pulls Kouen close so they can talk in silence while watching how Asha bristle, Koumei fidgets uncomfortably, and Rohroh mutters curses. "She's forgotten which of your siblings are which, right?"
Kouen glances up at him, and shrugs. "I forget my sisters names, too." Mu leaned his cheek against Kouen's hair. "That's because you're an airhead." Kouen elbows Mu in the stomach. Or tries to, but Mu catches it. "Wow, thanks, that's helping."
"It's true." This time, Kouen's elbow hits. "En, dear, how long is she planning to stay? She's riling everyone up."
"Until she gets a boyfriend who can pay for her, or until she turns twenty. So eleven months tops." Mu gives him a concerned look.
"Honey, that's almost a year. Koumei will not last." He sends a pointed look toward the couch, where Koumei is climbing across Rohroh's lap as he tries to get away from Kourei, who had procured a dress for her younger brother to try on. Rohroh was not pleased, and shoved them both to the floor. It did not end well.
After Asha covered up Koumei's black eye the next morning - because poor Koumei had the rotten kind of luck where he got hit in the face way too easily - the kitchen is full of grumpy people. Kourei had been on the phone all night, so both Asha and Narda had to sleep in other bedrooms. Asha in Morgiana's room, and Narda between Mu and Kouen. When Asha went back in the room to get her make-up to prepare for school, she found Kourei in her bed, and was not pleased at the other teenager having soaked her sheets in perfume. Which ended up in a whole lot of them being exhausted.
Most of them don't even bother looking up when they hear her squeak, but Kouen does, and Koumei presses closer to the wall and tries to make himself look small. Not the hardest task when sitting beside Yaqut, since the boy is much taller than him. "What's wrong?" He spots her in the doorway, and sees the very furry of their two bunnies jump up to her. She stares at the little fur ball. "What is that!" She points.
"Fluffy," Kouen says, and she looks at him with raised eyebrows. "I can see that." Kouen looks back at her, a perfect imitation of her expression on his face. "Fluffy is its name." He sees the brown, less fluffy one bounce up to join them. "And that's Cinnamon."
"Kouen-nii-sama, get them away," she says, fleeing into the kitchen. The rabbits bounce after her in curiosity. She pulls up a chair and squints down at the rabbits. "I don't want fur on my boots."
"Well," Mu mumbles into his coffee so low that only Kouen can hear, "this will be fun."
Chapter 11: cleaning problems
Kouen was in the middle of vacuuming the floor in his and Mu's bedroom when suddenly, there was a pair of arms wrapping around his shoulders, and a face planting itself in his hair. The taller man's chest pressed against his back, and his weight almost made him double over, because he seemed to be dead weight. "I'm hooome..." Mu yawned into his hair, and Kouen tried to straighten up, to no avail. "I can tell," he remarked, not even able to turn off the vacuum cleaner. Mu had been pulling an all-nighter at the station and now that he was coming home, it was well past into the late afternoon. Kouen swatted at him with the hand he could free, trying to get his husband to let go. "Just go to bed, moron," he ordered, pushing at Mu's head when the man only buried his face further into his hair, so Kouen couldn't hear his mumbling.
"I said go to bed, you big baby!" Kouen scoffed, trying to elbow Mu in the stomach but not getting any power into the blow. He let out an undignified squeak in surprise when he was suddenly falling. Thankfully, they landed on the bed - newly made with fresh sheets chosen by siblings who had been giggling over patterns of purple unicorns and anime idols - and his fall was extra cushioned by the firm chest behind (beneath) him, but it didn't stop the air from escaping him, and it took a few moments for him to regain it.
While he did, Mu rolled over so they were laying side by side, and he pulled the shorter man up against his body, Kouen's back once more tightly pressed against his chest, and Kouen flailed feebly for a few seconds. "I said that you should go to bed, not that we both should do it," he grumbled, and Mu chuckled softly into his hair. "Just give me a few with you like this, my precious," he murmured tiredly. Kouen heard him take deep breaths into his hair, and he shifted his arm so it was laying more comfortably. "You're not bothered by the noise?" he asked, meaning the still running vacuum cleaner. Mu shook his head once, just barely. "Too tired to," he replied. "Then let go and just go to bed properly," Kouen said. Mu completely ignored his words, continuing to hold him close and sleepily mumbling more words. "I just want my beautiful sunshine with me for a while, you know..." Fondly, Kouen sighed, and put a hand on one of Mu's. "You're the one who's the sunshine, stupid snuggle-bear."
He heard a sudden muffled snort of a laugh from the doorway, and looked up to see Asha covering her mouth with both hands. Apparently, that entirely private nickname that he only used rarely and thought up when he was still pretty much a kid, was very amusing. He scowled at her, noticing that Mu wasn't paying attention, which meant that the man had fallen asleep which meant that Kouen was going to be stuck like this for a while. "Not a word, young lady," he commented, and he would deny any comment on how warm his cheeks were then. Asha just nodded, laughter glowing in her eyes. So Kouen nodded towards the vacuum cleaner. "If you could turn that off," he said. and she shrugged and did as asked. When she finally dropped her hand from her mouth, it was clear that she was still amused. "You owe me one, bro," she said, and he was sure she more meant he owed her for keeping the nickname secret, more than she meant turning off the machine.
He sighed deeply, dropping his head onto the crisp bed sheets. Great... Well, he could deal with Asha later. It wasn't like he could do it right now, anyway, since he was stuck. He had no choice but to settle back against his husband and hope that he would be able to fall asleep, since he couldn't even turn around and watch the man's sleeping face.
Though he guessed, there were worse things he could do during an evening.
Chapter 12: food for thought
Kouen stopped by the couch so he could nudge Mu's legs apart with a foot, so he would get some space to sit down between them and lean against his chest. He heard Mu draw a deep breath of the kind when someone just wakes up, and he dropped his head against Mu's shoulder. "Morning," he said, opening his book and leaning it against his lap as Mu buried his nose in his hair. "Morning, beautiful," Mu murmured, and Kouen heard a smile in his voice. He wrapped his arms around his waist and pressed his lips to his neck. Kouen glanced from the letters to the hand grasping his, and turned his hand around so they could weave their fingers together, and tipped his head a little to the side when Mu brushed his hair from his neck to kiss him further. "Mu, will you be nibbling at my neck for a long time?" Mu nodded, and Kouen turned his attention back to his book with a sigh. "Fine, whatever." He decided to simply let him be, since the attention was sort of nice.
"What are you reading?" The question was muffled against his skin, and Kouen huffed. "Nothing you'd be interested in," he replied, and he could instantly feel the pout on Mu's lips. "Why do you say that?" Kouen sighed. "Because you'd get bored and fall aslee-ow." Kouen turned his head to glare at Mu, and raised a hand to rub at his neck. "Why did you bite me?"
Mu puffed up his cheeks and pressed his lips against the bite mark, then blew out the air against the forming bruise. "Because you taste good," he explained. Kouen sighed, and spared him a glance. "Fine, just don't leave any marks that my collar can't cover up." Mu smiled, and nodded. "As you wish, honey." He continued to nibble, sometimes bite, sometimes suck on Kouen's throat. Kouen found his ear lean close and closer to his shoulder, and sucks in sharp breaths when teeth pierce skin.
Then suddenly, there was the sound of a palm against jeans. Both men looked down, and were surprised to find Narda standing beside the couch. "Narda dear, what's wrong?" Mu asked. "Don't eat En-nii!" The child slapped Mu on the leg again. "Bad!" she said. Kouen rolled his eyes and Mu chuckled nervously. Kouen handed Mu his book, and then picked up the girl. "Don't worry, En-nii isn't going to be eaten," he assured her. She gave him a look full of doubt. He patted her on the head. "I promise, Narda." She still scowled, but after further assurances from her big brothers, she seemed to accept that Mu wasn't going to eat Kouen, and she slipped down from the couch.
With another stern look directed at Mu, she hobbled away and left the two men alone. With a sigh, Mu dropped his head against Mu's shoulder. "Seriously..." Kouen patted him on the gead much like he had the little girl. "Not going to continue?" Mu snorted, amused yet not at the same time. "In a bit. I have a feeling we might be watched."
Kouen looked over toward the door, and as Mu had guessed, the little girl was still staring at them. "Narda, go play with your other siblings," Kouen told her. After a few more moments, she left, and after hearing her tackle Judal a couple rooms over, Mu bared his teeth in a grin. "Continue, you said?"
Chapter 13: just you and me
For once, the house was peaceful. It was the middle of the night and Kouen was sitting in the kitchen reading the latest news on his laptop as he waited for his husband to come home after a long day at the station. It had been a hectic day for Kouen well, with Mu getting called in to help with a case early in the morning, their younger siblings causing a chaos that was even harder to manage than usual thanks to the absence of one adult, a whole group of meetings all day with little time for lunch, and then handling the kids after that and up until bedtime... It took ages ensuring all of them got into bed properly and even longer before they were all asleep.
It was almost midnight when he heard the lock on the front door turn, and he looked up from the screen. "Welcome home," he called, meeting Mu's surprised gaze. He got a beaming smile directed at him, despite how Mu seemed tired. "I'm home." When Mu entered the kitchen, Kouen pointed at the microwave. "There's food in there for you." It had been there a while, but that way, no one would hear clattering of plates and pots going in and out of the fridge. It would be annoying if they all showed up for a midnight snack, and Mu's siblings in particular had remarkably good ears. And an overly healthy appetite. "Oh, that's great," he turned on the microwave's timer, then took the few steps to Kouen and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you, darling." Kouen rose a hand and tiredly loosened Mu's tie. "No problem. But you'll have to get your own water." Mu chuckled. "I can at least do that much," he assured Kouen, who smirked as he dropped his hand back to the table, and he pushed the laptop a bit to the side. "Are you sure about that?"
Mu stifled a laughter and turned off the tap, walking back to the table with a filled decanter. "Oh no, I've been busted." He faked a dramatic tone, even while he kept his voice low. "You're right, I can't do anything without you." Then he smiled softly. "But really." He leaned over the table and gave him a kiss on the forehead. "I'm glad to have you by my side, Kouen."
Kouen smiled slightly. "Just eat your food, fool," he murmured, and leaned back against the couch's wooden backrest. Mu snorted, covering another laugh with a hand. "Yes sir," Kouen smirked. "Do that again when you're in uniform," he remarked. Mu blushed as he sat down and put his plate of warm food down. "We have a pervert in the room," he commented, and Kouen smirked. "There is one right in front of me." Mu's blush only intensified. He stuck out his tongue at Kouen, then focused on the food.
Kouen watched him in silence for several moments. "Mu..." he said silently. Mu looked up from his plate. "Yes?" He still had his fork in his mouth. Kouen scowled at the computer screen, rather then keeping his eyes on Mu. "Next friday... is your day off, right?"
Mu blinked, and slowly pulled his fork out of his mouth. "Yes, it is. Why?" Kouen idly tapped the mouse pad on the laptop a few times, then he turned to the bigger redhead. "I want to go to an onsen."
Mu scowled in thought and concern. "Everyone has school---"
Kouen cut him off before he could continue. "Honey, I love you, but sometimes you just ought to shut your mouth, keep quiet, and just listen, okay?" Kouen eyed Mu sharply, and the man obediently shut his mouth and looked at his husband, allowing Kouen to continue uninterrupted. "Not everyone. Just you and me. I want to go on a stay-over date." He stood up, walked around the table. " Just you and me, for a holiday weekend, and when we do, I want to really get to know you again," he ran his fingers along Mu's neck, "very intimately. Do you understand?" Mu nodded, putting his hands on Kouen's hips and pulling him into his lap. He gave him a firm kiss tasting of curry, and smiled up at him. "Yeah, I do, and I love you, so I'll do anything you want."
Kouen patted him on a shoulder. He gave him another kiss. "I love you too." Then he untangled himself from Mu's grip, and headed for the door and the stairs. "If you're finished, I'd like to do some scouting before we go to sleep, so get a move on."
"Scouting...?" After he realized what Kouen meant a few moments later, Mu hurried to his feet. He made sure that he washed off the tablewear he used, but then he silently hurried after Kouen to the bedroom.
Chapter 14: cake to bake
Upon entering the kitchen one Saturday morning, Kouen finds two girls at the counter.
"What are you doing, Kougyoku, Muron?" he asks them, and Kougyoku beams up at him and climbs down from the stool she was standing on for the sake of better reach. The hug she gives Kouen causes flour to stain his jeans, but she doesn't notice, her eyes turned up towards his face. "Cookies!" she exclaims, and Kouen reaches down to pick her up in his arms. She's getting big, he notes. He doesn't lift her every day and when you spend time with someone on a daily basis it's easy to miss such things initially, he supposes. But she does reach a bit further up when she hugs him, now. "Cookies?" he repeats, and Kougyoku nods, so eagerly that her braid bobs like a happy dog's tail.
Kouen puts Kougyoku back down on the stool and picks up one of the cookie cutters that the girls are using. It's not exactly a conventional form, a far cry from the stars, hearts and circles which were normally used to give the cookies shape.
An arm wraps around Kouen's waist and he feels his husband's chest press against his back, and his head leans against his shoulder. "Isn't that Totoro?" he says as he grasps Kouen's wrist and pulls it closer so he can look at the cookie cutter. He looks over at the other cookie cutters. "They're really cute."
"I found them in a shop," Muron says, with a pleased look on her face and a nod that rustles her ponytail. "Not all of them are sweet by the way," she adds, directed at both men. "Kougyoku wanted to be sure that you can eat them too." After all, both Mu and Kouen were not too fond of sweets.
There's a smile in Mu's voice and from the corner of his eye Kouen can see his cheerful expression. "That's very thoughtful of you, honey," he says and pets Kougyoku on the head. Kouen notices that the look on Muron's face seems to express her desire to get a pat on the head too, and Mu seems to notice it too, because he gives her a fond headpat as well. Both girls looks happy, cheeks turning red and eyes shining bright.
"I'm sure they'll taste great," Kouen says, as he leans into his husband's embrace when both his arms settles around his waist. Kougyoku nods again, even more fervently than before. "Brother gets the first!" she says, and beams up at him. He returns her smile with on of his own. Not as beaming as he doesn't smile that way, but it is enough of a smile to make the little girl beam even brighter at him.
Look at all these cute Totoro cookie cutters, they were inspiring and I want some.
If it's of any interest to anyone, I sometimes post magi art (mainly MuEn) on my twitter and art tumblr, they're both DazedBird. My recent Mu portrait is my favorite among the things I've recently drawn.
But I also want to write or draw something with the new power trio, that has to happen. I wonder how I can fit in Yamato in this world, what he might be.
Kindergarten teacher? Could be fun.
Chapter 15: detention, suspension
Several siblings are in trouble.
This chapter makes up the 100th post on my fanfic dreamwidth. =)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
A knock on the door interrupted Kouen in the middle of a sentence, and he turned his attention to the door with a cold gaze as Seishuu opened the door. "I'm very sorry to disturb," he said, much more polite than he tended to be, and Kouen knew that it was because of the guests sitting opposite of Kouen at the conference table. "but the school called and said it was an emergency..."
"My apologies, it seems I must take this," he apologized to the two darkskinned men. The closer of the two shook his head briefly. "Of course," he said, and Kouen supposed that he must remember what it was like to have to be available when your siblings caused trouble. Armakan Amun-Ra had a younger brother of his own after all, and one quite rowdy, as far as Kouen was aware. The two had discussed their troubling siblings before. With a nod, Kouen left the room to take the call in his near-lying office.
It turned out to be a call from the principal at the junior high school that Kouha, Koumei, Rohroh and Razol attended. "I tried to reach Alexius-san earlier since I know that you are very busy," the principal said, and Kouen rolled his eyes as he leaned against the table. Of course he was busy, but so was Mu, and Kouen really was more easily accessible, as Mu often didn't have the opportunity to take any calls or messages, unlike Kouen - or Seishuu, rather. But the principal was scared of him, while he thought that Mu was the opposite of scary. Which only meant that he had never seen Mu angry, although that was, of course, a rarity. "Yes," he cut the man off before he could continue. "What is it?"
"Ah, err, yes, it's your younger brother, I mean, that is.." How scared could a person get? This was pathetic. Was he this scared of the students, too? "What about him?" And which one? Kouha, most likely, as many people didn't consider Mu's siblings to be Kouen's siblings, even though they were in-laws. Not legally in Japan, perhaps, but married was married. The principal stuttered. "R-right, he, um, well, actually, all four of your siblings are sitting outside my office... It would be good if either of you can came to talk..." The man didn't need to say that he preferred if Mu were to be the one to come. But it was a surprise that Koumei was in trouble too. He didn't tend to cause trouble. It honestly made him curious. "I understand, I will come as soon as I can." He ended the call while the principal squeaked out polite parting phrases.
"Seishuu, I need to go see the principal," he informed his secretary and friend, as he passed him on his way back to the conference room. Once he opened the door he noticed that Armakan was on the phone. "I see," he said, and he rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I will be there." After saying his goodbyes to the person on the phone, he turned to Kouen. "I apologize, but it seems I have to cut this meeting short, Kouen-san," he said. "My brother has caused trouble again." Kouen nodded in understanding. In that case, the principal must have called him first, before calling Armakan. Young Sharrkan attended the same school as the four latest troublemakers in Kouen's family, and Kouen knew that the principal was scared of Armakan as well. Just not as scared of him as he was of Kouen. "Mine as well, so I also need to leave. Perhaps our secretaries can schedule a new meeting?"
As that seemed a good idea for both parties, Kouen followed Armakan and his secretary Narmes Titi to Seishuu's table, and as Narmes and Seishuu conferred over the new date, Kouen fetched his coat.
While they took the same elevator, the visitors stepped out at ground floor, while Kouen continued to the car park further below, where his car was parked in its usual spot. He arrived at the school only a short while after Armakan and Narmes, and Narmes held up the door for him while Armakan waited inside and out of the heavy rainfall.
Outside the principal's office, a whole group of kids sat waiting. Some parents were already there. Only Kouen and Armakan were the guardians that were siblings instead of parents. The vice-principal was also there, trying to keep the kids and parents from arguing. She would have done well, if the parents had not been causing more trouble by continuing their arguments. The students respected her way more than they respected the principal. Silence fell when people noticed that Kouen and Armakan was there. Clearly, the principal was not the only one that feared them. Pathetic. Armakan's brother Sharrkan was standing against a wall, his fingers against its surface and he rolled from heel to toe impatiently. When he noticed his older brother there, a "shit" escaped him.
Kouen turned his gaze toward his siblings. Rohroh stood with an angry glare on his face, glaring at anyone that looked at him, Razol was restlessly stretching, Kouha was sleeping against Koumei's shoulder, and Koumei was reading, apparently completely uninterested in what was going on around him. Rohroh was the first to notice Kouen's presence, and he tsked in annoyance.
The vice-principal cleared her throat. "Ren-san, since all of these cases concerns your family, if you would please step into the principal's office?" she said, and she opened the door. "Principal, Ren-san is here," she said, and Kouen heard a shuffling sound that sounded a lot like someone dropping papers to the floor. Mentally, he rolled his eyes again. "Thank you, Abraham-san," the principal said, and Kouen stepped past her into the office. She called in a couple of parents, their children, and a newly-woken Kouha. So the incident which involved the most people was Kouha's, then. He only briefly knew the other parents, and they had not had enough impact on him to make him memorize their names. He did remember one mother's face, however; he was fairly certain that her other son had gotten into a fight with Razol a couple weeks back. She had beaten him pretty badly, over some dispute or other. So the younger brother was in one of Kouha's classes then.
The principal looked over at the vice principal, Sheba Abraham, and she sighed deeply before stepping to the front of the room to address the distressed parents, sulking (or sleepy) children and the calm older brother. "During last period's English class, a fight broke out between these five boys," she said.
"He started it!" one of the boys, a bony, pale one, pointed at Kouha. Kouha was suddenly fully alert. "It was your own fault!" he said, glaring at the boy. "No it wasn't!" another boy shot back. His face was covered in freckles. His brother was the one who lost badly to Razol. That kid had stated that she had fought dirty, although Kouen doubted that she had needed to fight dirty. All their siblings were trained in martial arts by Mu, for the sake of self-defense, and some of them took it very seriously.
"A-according to the teacher," the principal piped up, suddenly finding courage form somewhere. "the one that threw the first punch was indeed Kouha-kun."
"I don't believe that he would do so without a reason," Kouen calmly stated. "A reason?" A father snapped. "You must be joking. There are no reasons that justifies violence." Kouen, who had had his violent moments during his time in school as well and was younger than the gathered parents, and thus clearly remembered better what it was like to be a teenager, raised an eyebrow. "I doubt that you actually believe that," he said. The man's face turned purple with anger, but before he could retort, Sheba cut in. "Why don't we let Kouha-kun tell us why, then? What happened?"
Kouha glared. "They deserved it, that's all I'll say," he said. He crossed his arms, and the expression that made its way onto his face spoke clearly of how he had no intention to speak any further. Kouen knew that it was useless to try to get him to talk at the moment, unfortunately. He didn't doubt that his brother had a reason for getting into a fight, though. "If you're intent on not speaking, then," he said, and turned away from Kouha, back toward the two members of the school faculty. "I assume that you intend to suspend him," he said, matter-of-factly. The principal nodded, unnerved by Kouen's cool attitude. "Yes, that's right," Sheba said. She turned toward the parents. "All of these boys will be for the rest of the week, and Kouha-kun for two weeks." The expression on her face told them all that she would not tolerate any protests.
Of course, there were still protests, both from students and parents, but the decision was final unless they got to know the reason behind the fight. Kouen hoped he could find someone to keep an eye on Kouha though, leaving him alone at home was not a good idea, because he would get up to a whole lot of mischief. Kouha was told to wait in the corridor while he handled the rest of the meetings, and next, Razol and Koumei were brought in, along with a stout woman, and she was pressing an ice pack against her right eye. Apparently she was a teacher, and Razol had punched her in the face, while Koumei had been reading a book during a movie in history class. "Although Koumei-kun's transgression isn't as bad as Razol-kun's, we thought you should inform you none the less." Sheba said. She looked to the teacher. "If you could tell us what happened, Akimiya-sensei."
"I was showing a movie about the Second World War, and I noticed that Koumei-kun was reading and Razol-kun was sleeping." she said, ready to explain all too eagerly. All too angrily. "When I told them that they had to pay attention to the material, I was told that they didn't care about it, and she," she nodded towards Razol, "punched me."
"As I said," Kouen said calmly, "I don't think that any of my siblings would fight without a reason." Even if some of the reasons could be very petty.
"Sensei is omitting parts," Koumei said, and Razol nodded. "Yeah, when sensei said Mei can't read he said that the material in the movie is bullshit nationalistic crap--" "I didn't phrase it that way," "---and then sensei said that no it's not, that it's super accurate, and then when Mei started talking about the stuff we've learned when we've learned about it from En-nii, sensei said that that's just bullshit and that the movie is the only accurate thing and that anything that says anything else is bull crap liars, and when Mei told her that that's just so fucking narrow-minded, sensei was definitely going to punch him so I punched her first."
"Razol's poor choices of words aside," Koumei said, shrugging. "that is accurate."
"Then Akimiya-sensei was in the wrong," Kouen said. History was a passion for him, and he could not accept such narrow-minded thinking as this teachers. If she only cared about one side of the story, she was not a good teacher. Even more so if she hit students if they brought up totally valid points. He should look into that, he couldn't allow a teacher like that to teach his siblings.
"No matter the reason," Sheba sighed, as the principal cowered. Seriously, how had that man managed to become principal? "she still punched a teacher. Koumei-kun will be sent to detention, but Razol-kun will be suspended for a month." Wonderful. Just wonderful.
"You realize, Kouen-san, that if she does this one more time, it won't end up in something as lenient as a suspension." Sheba told him as Razol, Koumei, and the teacher were ushered out of the classroom. "I understand," he said. She had ended up causing a lot of problems this year. Perhaps it wasn't a good idea to have her in the same class as Koumei? "I will talk to her." Sheba nodded. "Good. Now, please, Amun-Ra-san, please."
Armakan and Sharrkan, and Rohroh, entered the room. Rohroh glared defiantly at the principal, who only shrank back further. He really wasn't suited for this job. Sharrkan sat awkwardly beside his brother, and Rohroh sat beside Kouen. It was an odd combination, Kouen wondered what exactly they had done to warrant being brought to the principal's office together. It did not take long for him to find out.
"So you're saying that you're suspending them for the duration of the week because they made out?" He was almost unable to suppress the disbelief. "I saw three couples making out in the corridors on the way through the building, and no teacher seemed to have a problem with that."
Sheba made a face where she stood just out of sight of the principal as the principal spoke. Apparently, she did not agree with him in this case. "That was different," he said, "they were not boys kissing boys."
"Ridiculous," Armakan said, and Sharrkan startled, looking up at his brother in what was clearly surprise. Had he not expected him to be supportive of his choice of kissing-opponent? Perhaps not, Armakan could come off as terribly old-fashioned. But so could Kouen. "You can't expect that to be acceptable," Armakan continued. "There is no way Sharrkan will be suspended for such a ridiculous reason."
"I agree," Kouen said. The principal only managed a pitiful "but..." before he continued. "You realize that it's the 21st century? If you do not forbid boys and girls from making out with each other you can't ban boys and boys or girls and girls from making out with each other." He proceeded a long argument, and Armakan added several points as well, which made the principal look more and more cowed. "But it's not natural---" he piped in, and Kouen asked him if he was seriously saying that to someone in a same-sex marriage. The principal was completely quiet at that, unable to get out even a single word. Armakan looked over at Sheba. "The suspension will be considered to be withdrawn. Sharrkan will go to school as normal. Rohroh-kun as well."
Sheba nodded. "Very well," she said, not the slightest reluctant to have the decision overturned. She also didn't seem to mind that Kouen and Armakan had threatened to sue if it happened again.
Once they left the office, Rohroh stopped in the doorway and grabbed Sharrkan by the wrist, pulling him close. He gave him a firm and deep kiss, right where he knew that the principal would see it. Then the licked his lips as he pulled away, and grinned deviously at the principal. The man looked as if he was about to pass out. He really should just quit, Kouen thought. He should let Abraham-san have the position instead, she would be far more suitable.
One hand around Rohroh's wrist, Sharrkan hesitantly looked up at his brother. "Brother, I..." Armakan cut him off. "Return to your class, Sharrkan," he said, and Sharrkan nodded. Still holding on to Rohroh, he hurried off down the corridor. Armakan motioned toward Narmes that they were leaving, then he looked over at Kouen. "That was certainly a surprise, but it seems we might see more of each other in the future, if it lasts," he said, then nodded in goodbye.
Once the two people from the Heliohapt Concern were gone, Kouen turned to Kouha and Razol. Koumei had apparently left, as had the worthless teacher. "I will drive you halfway home," he said, "I expect you to explain yourselves better tonight when we talk to Mu about this."
"How did I explain myself badly?" Razol asked as they started to follow him toward the parking lot. "Cut down on the swear words, for example." Kouen stated calmly. "Kouha, you will explain yourself as well." Kouha nodded. "Yeah, right, sure," he muttered.
More characters and another ship. The principal is just some random person, the vice principal is not. Sharrkan is 13 years old and in the first year, Rohroh is also 13 but in the second year. Because besides the Fanalis/Kou dynamics, I like the Fanalis/Heliohapt dynamics as well, I ended up going with Rohroh/Sharrkan.
Chapter 16: why're you with him?
I caught up with both mangas today and had to write something where someone insulted Sinbad, because fucking damn it Sinbad, you can't do things like that.
And in the midst of the mess that is the current timeline, Judal and Ja'far's interactions in AoS gives me life. So, these two interacting in this story happened.
Sometimes, some very rare times, they can get along well enough.
Which they overheard some of the teachers talk about, and Judal snorted because that's stupid and Ja'far muttered "not likely," and they hurried to hide, because the teachers had heard Judal laugh.
"Hey Freckles," the nine year old boy intertwined his fingers behind his head as they walked down the hall toward the shoe cubbies. "Why do you live with Sinbad?"
Ja'far looked at Judal with a surprised scowl. "Why're you asking that, suddenly?"
"Well I was thinking, the main part why we don't get along - besides the fact that you're annoying as hell and stuff - is because of Sinbad. There's not really anything wrong with Masrur so it's gotta be that fishy old man."
"Sinbad is not fishy," Ja'far commented, voice rising a little, which caused some of the students still in school that they passed to look at them weirdly. "Yes he is," Judal insisted. "He's super fishy and if you weren't so much in love with him or something, you'd totally see that."
"I'm not in lo--" Ja'far was cut off by Judal, before he could fly into a real rage. "So why do you live with him?"
Ja'far fell silent, focusing his gaze on the shoes he pulled out of his cubby, and the shoes he were to put into it. Judal scowled at his silence, then hurriedly changed shoes as Ja'far left the building, bag slung over a shoulder. "Ja'far?" he leaned forward a bit once he caught up, hands stuffed in his pockets and his bag dangling from his wrist. "Ja'faaar?"
"Because," Ja'far finally said, his tone cutting short any further repetitions of his name passing Judal's lips, as they turned right at the school gate. "To not have to live on the street," he spoke slowly, which at first made Judal thing that he was being treated like a child, but then he figured that it must be because he was deliberating what words to use. "I joined a group of organized crime, and Sinbad helped me get out of it despite the fact that I tried to kill him."
"You were yakuza?" Judal said, leaning further forward as if it would help him figure out why a fishy man like Sinbad would help a criminal. The guy was a philanthropist or whatever, apparently, but that didn't really mean anything in Judal's book. "That's what you take out of that?" Ja'far asked him, scowl deepening. "No, not really, I wasn't."
"I also got caught on the part where you didn't manage to kill him, actually." Judal said with a shrug, then he pulled out his wallet from a pocket and dug out a few coins. "I was." The look he was given by Ja'far was one of confusion. "You were what?"
Judal stopped at a vending machine, and as he pressed a button he said, "Yakuza."
"You used to be part of the yakuza?" Ja'far looked at him with a dubious expression. Judal nodded and picked up the soda can from the slot. "Yeah, I was. But Kouen and Mu helped me to go straight." He popped open the can. "I was pretty big in the gang, you know. But I like it better-" he fell silent. "Your fishy love is over there," he said and pointed.
Sinbad was indeed over there, leaning against a car talking on his phone with someone. Once he spotted the two boys, he waved cheerfully. Ja'far hurried over, hissing at Judal as he went, while Judal took a bit longer. So Sinbad had done for Ja'far what his older brothers - or dads or whatever they might be called or legally signed as - had done for him. That was a revelation. How long had Ja'far been with Sinbad? Judal had been readily adopted into the Alexius-Ren family when he was 7, and he had met Ja'far around that time, too.
"Judal-kun, would you like a ride?" Sinbad asked once Judal reached them. The boy looked between Sinbad and Ja'far, still processing the new information, and wondering about the new questions. "No," he said. He caught sight of something red moving towards them through the corner of his eye. "I can walk home by myself just fine, unlike you who apparently need both Masrur and Freckles to babysit you." he said, as Masrur entered his vision. "I'm nine, not ninety like you." Judal said.
Sinbad's face went red and pale at the same time, and Judal could imagine Sinbad cursing why this little---!! and he grinned sweetly as Sinbad sputtered. "I'm not ninety! I'm 28! I'm still young!"
"You're super old." Older than Kouen but younger than Mu. And to someone Judal's age, 28 was totally old. Super old because it upset Sinbad so much, and upsetting him was fun.
"Masrur! I don't look ninety, right!?" Masrur shook his head, putting a comforting hand on Sinbad's shoulder. Ja'far looked displeased with the situation, both because of Judal's words, and Sinbad's reaction to them. "Cut it out!" he snapped, kicking Sinbad in the shin and glaring at Judal. Judal just widened his smile, which dripped of false innocence. "Obviously a crooked phoney bogus booger like you is gonna age a ton faster than other people, or you wouldn't look eons older than Mu."
Ja'far growled, and Sinbad seemingly shrank and mumbled to himself, while Masrur only silently supported him, so he didn't topple over from the insult to his appearance. "And to top it off," Judal continued, "you act super old too. But isn't that great, Sinbad?" His voice dripped with the same fake innocence as his smile. "Your mental age match your apparent age!" Which was actually something he had heard some of his adoptive siblings say, but that didn't matter. He learned a lot from listening to their bickering anyway. "So be happy, Sinbad! You'll die of old age soon!"
That was when Ja'far pounced on him.
But those times doesn't tend to last very long, despite what anyone else might wish.
Chapter 17: Watch out for annoying cousins
Or the one where Hakuryuu is not as happy to see Judal as Judal is to see Hakuryuu.
When something hits the back of his head, the force - and the ice patch hidden under the snow that he stepped on - made him fall face first into snow. At least he didn’t land on the shoveled stone path, but the snow was still hard. He hated sudden snowstorms that left ice and snow in its wake. He pushed himself up on his arms and shot a glare in the direction the projectile had come from, and he has to look past his sister. He got another snowball directly in his already snow-wet face. “Judal!” Hakuryuu shouted, and he slipped as he rushed after his cousin. The boy was laughing as he ran through the snow, entertained by his cousin’s anger. Running through snow was not ideal, it was deep and not easy to get through, but Judal was smaller and it should have been harder for him to move around. Somehow it wasn’t, though, and the boy kept throwing snowballs at Hakuryuu even as he ran.
As he ran through the garden, Hakuryuu stepped on something that was definitely not snow, and suddenly the world was moving, and his feet in the air. “Hey!” he shouted, and looked up. He stared up in disbelief as the snow rolled off of Razol, and she grinned at him cheerfully. “Heiya, Hakuryuu!” She shook her head to get snow out of it. “You’re not gonna catch him you know~ He’s been practicing his running, maybe he’ll join the track team!” Hakuryuu made a face. “Judal, in the track team?” he asked. Razol lifted him into the air, and put him on her shoulders. He grabbed hold of her hair just in case she let go in her excitement, since he had experienced that in the past. “Yeah, because he needs the skill to run from people he prank. See, he can run from you, right?” She points at Judal, who’s looking up from behind a snow bank of shoveled snow, that’s been turned into some kind of fart. “He’s just being mean,” Hakuryuu huffed. He scowled when the girl laughed. “He’s not, he wants to play but doesn’t think about asking first is all. You can have your revenge later. Judal!” She shouted at her brother, letting go of Hakuryuu’s leg with one hand to wave at the black-haired boy. “Let’s go in, Hakuryuu will play once he’s unpacked his stuff” Hakuryuu clutched tighter to her hair. “What?!” he shouts at her. She laughs, and from the corner of his eye, he could see Judal pummel through the snow toward them, just as fast as when he ran away. The other nine-year-old attached himself to the girl, looking up at Hakuryuu with big eyes. “Really!?” He sounded way too happy at the prospect of playing with him. “That’s right,” Razol said, hoisting Judal up in her arms. A girl of 15 should not be able to carry two boys of nine but the Alexius siblings had some weird strength, the whole bunch. It brought Judal way too close to Hakuryuu, and Judal grabbed Hakuryuu’s pants. “When En-nii and Mu-nii have left, let’s have a snowball fight!” he declared. Razol agreed readily, while Hakuryuu felt less inclined to do so.
It was nice and warm inside, though Hakuryuu got a face full of wet winter jacket when Judal throw his clothes everywhere the instant he was put down on the ground. “Hakuei!” Hakuryuu heard him shout, while he pulled Judal’s jacket from his head and removed his own jacket with more care and put them both up on hooks. When he entered the kitchen a couple moments later, and after having lined up his shoes in a corner, he found Judal attached to Kouen, while the older man was talking to a very cheerful-looking Hakuei. Hakuryuu narrowed his eyes and walked over, standing between him and his sister. Kouen might be married but you could never be suspicious enough of him. Kouen looked down at him with an amused expression on his face. To Hakuryuu it looked as if he was making fun of him, though. “Aneue,” Hakuryuu took his sister’s hand. “Let’s go.” He tugged at her hand, not seeing the amused glances his sister and his cousin exchanged over his head as he led her from the kitchen. “Why’s he so angry?” Judal asked Kouen, and Kouen shook his head. “Seems he doesn’t like me for some reason.”
Hakuryuu grabbed his bag, brought inside by his sister’s boyfriend after he had dropped it when Judal threw that snowball at his head, and led his sister up the stairs. “Hakuryuu, you don’t need to worry about Kouen,” she said. Hakuryuu looked over his shoulder at her. “I don’t worry about him,” he protested. He was suspicious of him, that was completely different. “Alright then,” Hakuei said softly. “You don’t mind sharing a room with Koumei and Yaqut?” she asked. “Mu-san has made up a mattress for you in there but it’s easy to move if you’d rather sleep in Judal’s room.
Hakuryuu shook his head. “With Koumei is good,” he said. If he shared room with Judal he would have to share room with Kouha and Rohroh too, while Koumei and Yaqut were not as rowdy, even if Yaqut still could be rowdy just like all the other Alexius siblings. “But I’d rather share with Aneue.” He didn’t really trust her boyfriend either, so why couldn’t he share room with Koumei and Yaqut instead of Hakuryuu. Hakuei ruffled his hair fondly. “You’ve met them several times before, it will be fine.” Hakuryuu pouted. That wasn’t the problem.
“Hakuryuu is jea~lous~”
Hakuryuu spun around, dropping his bag again and letting go of his sister’s hand. “Nanaumi! I’m not!” He protested. “You don’t know what you’re talking about!”
Nanaumi grinned. “You think?” the six-year old girl said. “What d’you think Mor-chan?” Morgiana shook her head. “I don’t know,” she said. “Hakuryuu?”
Hakuryuu blushed when he realized that his cute step-cousin was by Nanaumi’s side, holding the family pet tiger in her arms. “Ah, yeah, no, Nanaumi is just saying weird things.”
“Am not,” Nanaumi said. She leaned close to Hakuryuu and whispered in his ear so Morgiana and Hakuei couldn’t hear her. “I’m sharing room with Mor-chan, I can tell her lots of things.” Then she pulled back as Hakuryuu blushed an even darker shade of red.
“Nana,” A big hand dropped down on Hakuryuu’s head and Hakuryuu jumped, startled. “don’t pick on people too much!” Takeruhiko laughed. “We’ll stay a few days so get along.” He removed his hand, and Hakuryuu patted his hair back in place best he could. Hakuei could ruffle his hair, that was alright, but her boyfriend doing it was just weird. “Mu and Kouen are about to leave.”
“Oh, they are in a hurry,” Hakuei chuckled. “I’d be too,” Takeruhiko said with a grin, and he gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. Hakuryuu fumed, glaring at him. But he turned away from him when Morgiana tugged at his sleeve. “Are you saying bye too?” she asked him. He nodded. “Yes, I am.” He followed her back down the stairs. He didn’t really care about saying bye to Kouen, but Mu was alright so he could say hello and bye to him at least. Going on vacation when there was so much snow outside… At least make it somewhere without snow and don’t just go to an onsen further north. They weren’t very smart.
“Why can’t we come too?” Kouha asked, arms stuck around Kouen’s neck and legs wrapped around his waist. “I wanna go to the onsen too.” Kouen tried to free himself from his younger brother. Narda was standing beneath them, looking between Kouen and Mu and holding on to their pants. Mu picked Kouen’s coat off the coat hanger, and put it over his shoulders since he couldn’t put it on properly. But he would only wear it while going out to the car so it was alright. Asha picked up her little sister to get her out of the way, but hold her up to Mu. The little girl gave him a messy kiss on the cheek, then she reached for Kouen and Asha handed the girl over to him. A little awkwardly, he took her and she kissed him on the cheek as well. Then she attached herself to the back of Kouha’s clothes. “Wonderful…” Kouen muttered, and crouched down. It took several minutes for him to pry them off, and many more after most of the other siblings piled themselves on top of him as well, leaving Mu to lift them off. Takeruhiko ended up laughing (way too much, in Hakuryuu’s opinion) and Nanaumi too. Like father like daughter, seriously, even when they were only adopted family.
“Thank you for taking care of them for us, Hakuei,-san, Takeruhiko,” Mu said, hands occupied with their bags and Kouen standing just outside with a hand on the doorhandle. “Of course, we’re happy to help. And it’s always nice to spend some time together. I hope you enjoy it.”
“In various ways,” Takeruhiko said, wiggling his eyebrows. It made Mu’s face grow red, and Kouen scowl. “Don’t make yourself ridiculous, Takeruhiko-san,” he said to Takeruhiko. “Mu, come on, let’s go already.” Takeruhiko giggled, and Hakuei shook her head at him as she watched the door close.
Takeruhiko leaned against Hakuei. “Hakuei, wanna see if their bed’s any comfy?” Hakuryuu barrelled right into his back. Judal seemed to think that was a fun idea (or maybe he just wanted to get in Hakuryuu’s way, that was another possibility) so he jumped the man as well. The result was Takeruhiko overbalancing. As he fell he tried to grab onto something to stop the fall, and he ended up pulling Hakuei down as well. Hakuryuu did not understand why his sister and the stupid daycare teacher had to laugh as if they were enjoying themselves so much, even after falling to the ground.
Chapter 18: feelings are the stupidest thing ever invented
Updates a story after about six months.
This chapter takes place a couple of years after the previous chapters.
Judal considered the other children and teenagers in the house as his siblings, but as a matter of fact he was more like everyone’s nephew though he was the same age as some of the siblings. Because when he was young - and he would sigh deeply when he said that, as if he was much older than his fifteen years - he was adopted by Kouen and Mu. They were both his legal guardians, and these days, his parents.
He had been living with them for eight years, and a lot of the siblings had moved out over the last couple years. Two years ago he even finally got his own room. Granted, it was right next to Rohroh’s room, and that guy could be really, really loud.
Back when he was in the yakuza, which had not been all that easy, things had been easier. Just hear me out, he would have said if he were to explain that to someone. Seriously though, it was easier because feelings were not required. And over the last couple years he’s had a whole lot of feelings that he could deal without.
Ja’far kicked him on the leg when he slumped against the table with a groan. He glared up at him from the table surface. “What? You can’t seriously think this is fun, Freckles?” He hated math, and English, and biology, and pretty much every school subject ever. But that wasn’t the feelings he wanted to be able to turn off. “It doesn’t have to be, you need to do it either way. Just try and if you don’t get something, just ask. It’s why I’m here, anyway” Judal sighed. Just hear me out. he thought, continuing his previous train of thought, an explanation to himself, sort of. Or to whoever would be bored enough to peek inside his mind and read his thoughts. The reason why it was easier was because if I still was in the yakuza, I wouldn’t have a dumb crush on my dumb childhood frenemy because that’s just so damn stupid, I don’t even like him on a good day, so why do I have to find him attractive and stuff, right? “Judal.”
Glancing up once again, he finally straightened up, only to let himself slide right off of the desk chair and onto the floor. “Judal!”
“Oh come on, I’m gonna be a hard rock star slash peach mogul anyway, why do I gotta do all this dumb stuff?” He tipped his head up, so he could see the other teenager through his bangs. “You can’t even recruit members to your band yet--and the ones who want to join, you reject, while the ones that don’t get rejected quit because you’re such a menace. And if you’re going to be a peach mogul you need math and to get into a good business school. Or agriculture, those are not exactly schools you can get into on failing grades.”
Judal groaned even louder and rolled over onto his back. “I’m not letting Aladdin join the Peach Crushers. And I hate maaath.” He let out a whine, directing a pleading look at Ja’far. Who shoved his foot in his hair. “That’s so exaggerated that not even Sharrkan would fall for it. And Peach Crushers is the lamest band name ever.”
Judal’s cheeks burned, and he sat up abruptly. “No it’s not! Shut up!”
“It’s lame. Who’ll even listen to a hard rock band with peach in the name?”
Judal kicked the other boy, hard. Ja’far was the type who had grown up intending to become a mature and less hot-headed person. But Judal seemed to be able to rile him just as easily as Ja’far could rile Judal up. Which meant that the kicks quickly escalated into a physical fight.
It was fun to rile Ja’far up, in Judal’s opinion, but he hated when he was the one getting riled up.
I! Seriously just! Don’t! Want to have! A! Stupid! Fucking! Crush! on THIS guy! For five! damn! years!
Chapter 19: privacy is an illusion
There was always an issue with privacy in this house, considering so many people lived in it. It was what made Kouen and Mu check in at hotels once in a while, or go on vacations together, without the kids if possible, when they both had a rare day off at the same time. Because there was always someone around who might (and probably would) hear them.
Kouen leaned his back into the embrace he suddenly found himself in while he was in the middle of washing the pots and plates he couldn’t run in the dishwasher. He didn’t pull his hands free, only clutched the plate and the dish-brush a little tighter at the surface of the warm water.
“Hey beautiful,” Mu murmured into his neck, light kisses pressing against it. “What’s your address?” Kouen raised an eyebrow at his husband’s question, and the tone of his voice likely revealed the expression on his face. “What’s yours?”
Kouen could feel Mu smile against his skin, his breath hot and sending small shivers of electricity down his spin, and then a hand pressed against his chest. His index finger tapped lightly against the apron, enough for Kouen to feel it. “Your heart,” he murmured softly. Kouen lifted his head from his work to look at the mop of red hair and the patches of visible skin. “Cheesy,” he finally commented. he turned back to the sink and chuckled when Mu remarked with a slight pout against his skin, “Actually, I’d like if you called it romantic.”
Kouen shook his head. “I’m not going to do that. And stop that, I’m trying to do the dishes.” Mu had continued trailing kisses along his neck, and Kouen had a sensitive spot right below his ear. If Mu kept going he wouldn’t be able to focus.
Mu stopped, but not because Kouen told him to. Instead he turned his head toward the door, because there came a gagging sound from around the doorway, and then, the sound of rushing feet. Mu shook his head and sighed. “Children,” he said. Kouen hummed in agreement, then bit back a groan when Mu pressed a kiss right at the edge of that sensitive spot. “Mu!” He let go of the brush, and shoved a wet hand in Mu’s face. It resulted in a very undignified squeak and sputter from Mu. At least it pleased Kouen, even though it only kept Mu from kissing him a short while. At least the next one was less teasing, when he caught his jaw with a big, gentle hand and pressed their lips together.
This time the both of them ignored the sounds whichever child had seen them made.
Chapter 20: "i'm on to you"
Ren Hakuryuu, fourth year student at Narumi Keisetsu Gakuen, was naturally suspicious about the men in his sister’s life. He thought that his suspicion was perfectly justified, as he had seen many men flirt with her over the years.
Nobody was as bad as her current boyfriend though. Certain people would argue that any of her current boyfriends were the worst in his eyes, but that wasn’t true, at least not in his opinion. No, Yamato Takeruhiko was definitely the worst.
Hakuei had met him when she went on a business trip and found her roommate had used her allotted towels as well as her own, and when she went to the front desk they had informed her that they didn’t have any fresh towels available at the moment. Takeruhiko, who apparently had heard her, had offered her the ones he had found in his room, because he always brought his own from home because his daughter had a tendency to tear holes in them. When they had gone to his room, while he was carrying his daughter, they had ended up deciding to go for drinks later, which led to dinner and, in Hakuryuu’s mind, dating way too quickly.
It was fishy. Who even brought their own towels to a hotel? And who just offered towels to a stranger? And on top of it, what was he even doing at that hotel? Hakuryuu was convinced that it had been because Takeruhiko wanted to hit on his sister. Daycare teachers didn’t have teacher’s conferences, everybody knew that!
He had questioned the man on several occasions the last couple years, ever since he first met the man. But things were getting weird. He was acting way more fishy than normal.
So he had to corner him and find out the truth before something happened to his sister.
“What are your intentions towards my sister?” the nine-year-old boy asked with as much authority as he could muster. (And it was a lot, because he had been around a lot of authoritative people, his sister included.)
Takeruhiko, who refused to look cornered where he sat in his livingroom with a magazine in his lap, raised his eyebrows with a way too amused look on his face. “ To be fair I have a lot of intentions, but for the main part, if she’ll have me I’d like to marry her.”
Hakuryuu sputtered loudly. “What?!” He flinched at his own loud voice, glancing toward Takeruhiko and Nanaumi’s room where Hakuei was together with Nanaumi and Takeruhiko’s mother. It seemed as if they were not coming to look what he was shouting for yet, at least. “What?” he repeated. This time the words were hissed out through gritted teeth.
“Like I said, I intend to ask her to marry me. If you were wondering, the reason why I have been looking through her jewelry box is because I wanted to find out her ring size.”
Hakuryuu’s hissing intensified. Granted, she seemed happy with him, but. “I won’t allow it.” Nobody was worthy of his sister, and no matter what, Takeruhiko was still so fishy.
Takeruhiko cocked his head to the side, and the amused look on his face only increased. “Technically, I don’t need your blessing. I’m not marrying you. But it’d be nice if you could accept it, considering I love her and, as far as I’m aware at least, she loves me. I know it would make her happy if you would give us that blessing, at least.”
“I’m not giving it!” Hakuryuu shouted.
Takeruhiko shrugged. “I’ll give you some time to think about it, get back to me on it later.”
Hakuryuu sputtered again. Then he hurried toward the bigger bedroom, to inform his sister that he was going to go see Alibaba, and that he might stay over there. He didn’t want to see that man’s face right now! (At the same time he didn’t want to leave him with Hakuei, but he didn’t want to deal with him at all!)
Chapter 21: hot hotel
Going on trip to a heatway instead of from it is just stupid.
Another piece set in the future.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Once the car finally slows to a stop and the music pouring from the radio falls silent, Mu rubs at his stiff neck and looks up at the sky. The sun is high, the car is very hot despite the air-conditioning having been on full blast for over an hour. Just as he is about to turn to Kouen to let him know they are there - he fell asleep about twenty minutes ago - he hears the door to the passenger seat open and sees Kouen get out of the car. “Summer was a bad idea,” he hears him mutter.
Mu gets out of the car, and sees Kouen lean against the car. He looks like he is about to melt. And pretty irritated, too. He is much less fond of heat than Mu is.
“They should have a shower in the room,” he says. He closes his door, wanders around to the back of the car and pops the trunk open to get out their bags. He shuts it again, and continues his path around the car to Kouen’s side. He presses a kiss to Kouen’s sweaty forehead and Kouen wrinkles his nose, the most he can do to show his displeasure in the heat that makes him tired. He isn’t the fondest of sweat either, and doesn’t really like displays of affection when he is covered in it. Mu puts a hand on Kouen’s back and shifts him from the car door so he can close it and lock the car. “Come on, let’s go check in, honey.”
Kouen follows him into the lobby, and it’s blessedly cooler inside the hotel. At least that’s what Kouen seems to think, because he wanders off to one of the couches and sits down in it. From the look of it, he instantly falls asleep, or at least dozes. Mu watches him, fond amusement warming his heart and making him care even less about the high temperature. Then he heads for the concierge desk, pulling his wallet from a pocket and his ID from his wallet.
It doesn’t take long before he realizes that apparently, the Kou Corporation owns the hotel, because the woman behind the marble desk seems to recognize Kouen, and seems even more eager to please than she had been just a few seconds again.
Kouen tends to forget to mention those sort of things. Sometimes he even forgets that his family owns a specific place or or building, though with the amount Mu has realized that they own, he can understand how one might forget about some of them.
“We can upgrade your room, sir, the royal suite is currently unoccupied.” The offer is surely not meant to fluster him, but it does so either way. “Ah, it’s fine, you don’t have to.” He must have sounded uncertain in some way, because she doesn’t seem entirely convinced, and proceeds to suggest other upgrades, as well as the same.
“He said it’s fine,” says a dark voice behind him, and Mu half-turns to find Kouen standing by his shoulder. Kouen seems to have regained some of his strength after that short rest out of the heat, but he is glowering with suppressed irritation. It must be that shower he was promised. “Just give us our room.” He has no patience for these things, particularly when he already is not feeling on top of things.
The woman is the one to fluster this time, seemingly frightened by the look on Kouen’s face, and she hurriedly does as told. Kouen takes the card keys, and heads for the elevator with a sharp turn. Mu, despite the disagreement between him and the concierge, thanks her for her help and hurries after him with their bags. “En,” he peers down at him when they stop in front of the furthest elevator. Kouen presses the call button, and glances up to meet his gaze. “It would have been fine.” Kouen turns his gaze back to the elevator door. “Yes, but it was taking a long time.” Mu hums, honestly not surprised that Kouen think so. The elevator dings to alert its presence, and they steps inside. Kouen presses the floor button, Mu puts down the bags in his hands. The door closes, Kouen leans against Mu, and he stares at the panel above the door, probably counting down the numbers until they will reach their floor.
“I hate when people try to suck up,” Kouen mutters. Mu moves a hand to his waist, and presses a kiss to his hair. “I know.” Kouen huffs. His gaze doesn’t move from the rising numbers. They stay in silence as the numbers climb toward their floor, until it finally stops nearly on the top floor and Kouen peels himself from Mu’s side. “By the way,” Mu carries their bags out into the empty corridor and trails after Kouen, who seems to know where they are going. “you didn’t mention that this was one of your hotels.”
“I forgot to mention it,” Kouen replies. Mu nods, even though Kouen can’t see it. “I did think there was a possibility of that. Isn’t it rare for any of your suites to not be rented out?” Kouen turns a corner. “Father had booked it, but he became unable to come,” he explains.
“Oh…” He knows that Kouen’s father was supposed to go to the meetings Kouen suddenly ended up becoming in charge of, when he originally had been supposed to only attend. But he had not known that he was supposed to stay at the same hotel as them. Maybe that was part of why Kouen had convinced him to come with him. “I’m not sad that your father couldn’t make it.”
Kouen stops, and for a moment Mu almost thinks he was going to turn to him and give him one of his Looks, even though he knows that Kouen won’t blame him for that opinion. But he just sticks the card key in a lock, and pulls open the door. “So am I. He would just spoil Vegas.” He steps aside, holding the door open to let Mu in before he follows him and closes the door. He double-checks to make sure that it is locked, before putting one of the keys in his wallet and taking Mu’s wallet to put the other card key in there. He hands it back to him once he is done. “I’m taking a shower.”
“Would you like me to join you?” Mu asks, and Kouen shakes his head. He pulls his bag up on the foot of the bed, opens it, and picks out a short-sleeved shirt and a pair of shorts and underwear from it. “No,” he heads for the door that has to lead to the bathroom. “not now. But definitely later tonight.” Mu smiles brightly at his back. “That sounds promising,” he says, and Kouen simply grunts and waves his free hand at him half-dismissively.
While Kouen showers, Mu unpacks their bags, and looks around the room. He finds a big balcony outside the windows. It’s nice and clean, and though it’s an expensive room, it’s not gaudy like some hotels he’s stayed at since his marriage to Kouen. The carpet in the bedroom area is dark blue and white, and the back wall at the bed’s headboard and decorative pillows matches it.
He makes his way out onto the balcony, which overlooks the impressive fountain in front of the hotel. He can see Las Vegas stretch out below, and he leans against the rail. He has not been to this town since he and Kouen got married. He looks at the ring on his finger, rests his elbow against the rail and presses his lips to the gold band that he hates taking off and loves looking at when he can’t look at Kouen.
“Don’t tell me you’re thinking ‘ah, it’s already been seventeen years~’ like a romantic sap.”
Looking over his shoulder, Mu grins and he turns, back toward the view. “I am a romantic sap, so of course I am.” He moves over to sit on a sun chair, able to ignore the heat of its fabric. Kouen pads after him on bare feet, hands on the towel he’s using to dry his hair. Mu reaches out and pulls Kouen into his lap, and he presses a kiss to his cheek. “Are you feeling better, En?”
Kouen sighs, and he nods. “I am. Do this for me.” Mu hums happily, and this time he kisses Kouen on the mouth. “Will do.” He frees Kouen from the task of drying his hair, which reaches halfway down his back these days. “I heard that the Bellagio’s gardens are supposed to be gorgeous. Would you like to have a look once it cools down?”
“I have been before.” Kouen turns around, so he can look at Mu without having to look over his shoulder, and he settles comfortably in Mu’s lap. “But,” Kouen closes his eyes, and he leans into the touch of towel and hands. “I’m sure it would be worth going again if I can see it with you.”
Mu lets the towel slip down against the back of Kouen’s neck, and pulls him in for another kiss. “Anything is a dozen times more worth doing when I do it with you.” Kouen says nothing, only buries a hand in Mu’s unruly hair, and returns the kiss. Once he pulls away, he turns in Mu’s lap, and leans against his chest. “I’m taking a nap, don’t wake me up if you move me, unless it’s cool enough to actually do things.” Mu chuckles, and murmurs an acknowledgment. He will carry him indoors soon, but first he wants to enjoy this position for just a little while.
Their hotel room is inspired by this one from Bellagio.
Chapter 22: Work Relationships
Busy work sucks, especially when you have to sit next to the most annoying person in the world every day of the week.
This chapter contains actual sex. And the word “fuck” is abused. It also takes place, what, 20+ years in the future.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The sounds of papers being shuffled against each other, the tapping of keyboards, the noises of TVs, and the sound of people rushing about, filled the room with a cacophony of noises. Judal narrowly avoided being run into by a coworker who was carrying a large stack of binders. Judal barely had the time to notice her, busy reading through the text on the clipboard, but noticing at the last second was better than not noticing at all. He kicked out his desk chair and sat down, and pulled open a drawer, eyes still peeled at the text. He searched the drawer without looking, until he found his tape recorder. He put down the clipboard on half a dozen notepads, and some went skittering across the crowded space and slammed into his computer screen. One was caught by the cables behind it, and one flew to the next desk over and onto the floor. The desk was empty after a loser he had worked with for some years had been fired, otherwise the small notepad would have been caught by the garbage that had cluttered that desk for years. He didn’t look as he popped an old tape out of the recorder, and put it in a case. He found a new tape, tore his eyes from the information on the clipboard only long enough to make sure it was an unused one, and then returned to reading the printout while his hands worked on placing the clean tape in the recorder.
“Here,” a voice said, and he grunted a thanks as he accepted the momentarily lost notebook. Hands caught the mess of his hair that ran halfway down his back and twisted it into an unruly bun. He could feel ends of it poke at his neck. “You suck at that, ugly” he pointed out, and the other man huffed at him in annoyance, and kicked at his chair. “Then remember to fix it on your own, asshole,” Ja’far said, before moving over to his own desk. “The fire at Sixth?” he asked, and Judal nodded. “Gonna go see if I can get any statements from the fuzz later,” Again, “but I bet it’ll just be ‘no comment, no comment’ like the fucking parrots they are.” He sighed, finally taking his gaze from the text. He tipped his head back and looked up at the dingy white ceiling. “Fuuck theem,” he muttered, and he closed his eyes. Gods, he was tired. But fuck every single one of them. Even dad Mu was tight lipped when he came looking for info. Ja’far snorted, and Judal opened one eye and turned his head partly toward his desk neighbour. Ja’far shook his head. “Let’s go get brunch at the place down the street, and a nap,” he said, and Judal huffed. “You, suggesting rest? Is the world ending on Friday or something?”
“Today is Friday,” Ja’far remarked drily, and Judal blinked at him, then up at the ceiling. “Wasn’t it just Monday?” he asked, though it wasn’t like he didn’t believe Ja’far. He felt like he had only just started digging in this stupid serial arson story, because he had been running on no sleep and an uncountable number of cups of coffee since the story surfaced. “Sometimes, catching some sleep will give you a new perspective on things.”
“Fuck you too, Jasmine,” Judal grumbled. “Why’d you always gotta be so fucking sensible and shit.”
“Because you are not,” Ja’far retorted, and he reached out to push at Judal’s chair with a foot. “Let’s go, Judal, or I will Disney Princess your ass home.” Judal huffed, and let himself tip forward. He caught himself against his desk, and pushed himself up. He shoved some stuff into his bag, the items a messy jumble. He heard Ja’far sigh and probably shake his head. As if it was so fun to neatly line everything up in your bag every time when you felt like dropping dead for two weeks or something. “Fuck you,” Judal muttered again, and he heard Ja’far say “Later,” and that just made him say “Oh Fuck. You.” with that much more emphasis, even as he felt his cheeks heat up. “Where the hell’s my damn fucking camera?” He had barely finished the sentence before Ja’far reached past him and found his camera in the mess on his table. Just because, Judal told him “fuck you” once again. “You sure do like that sentence,” Ja’far remarked, and that didn’t get Judal to change his vocabulary, only repeat it a dozen or so times at his face and back, and he chucked a handful of pens at him. “Oh, you’re giving these to me? Thank you, I was in dire need of a couple more,” Ja’far said. Infuriating! He was keeping his cool on purpose! Ignoring the pens on the floor, Judal grabbed Ja’far by his shirt and dragged him out of the editorial office. He didn’t even grab his coat, or let Ja’far grab his, only dragged him along to the bathrooms. He shoved him up against the door once they were locked in a stall. “When I say ‘fuck you’, you’re supposed to get pissed and say ‘fuck you too’ or something too, not say ‘later’ like it’s the most natural thing in the world.”
Ja’far hummed, and shouldered his bag to free his hand from the burden. He wrapped slender fingers around the pendant hanging from the silver chain around Judal’s neck. A golden music note, that could be perfectly slotted into the circle pendant around Ja’far’s neck. “I could turn ‘later’ into ‘now’ but I can’t imagine that it would be comfortable to do it in here,” he said. The tone in his voice betrayed that he hadn’t actually gotten rid of his temper, but that he only knew how to control it, these days. “If you keep at it I’ll fuck you so hard that you can’t walk, or sit by your desk, and you still have work to do….right?” Judal shivered at the words, and at the way they rolled off his tongue. “Stuff it, Princess, I’ll say whatever the fuck I want.” Much more than needing sleep, he needed to get fucked right then and there, because Ja’far’s words were lighting a fire inside him, making him so horny his cock hurt against the strain of his jeans. He groaned when Ja’far grasped him through his pants, and he dropped down on the toilet seat. He tugged at Ja’far, pulled him in closer, and unzipped his pants. “Fuck me then,” he said. Ja’far traced a finger through Judal’s bangs and ran it down to his lips. “One of these days I need to wash this filthy mouth of yours,” he said, and Judal grinned viciously. He watched Ja’far free his cock with hunger in his eyes. “As if yours isn’t filthier,” he said. Ja’far returned his grin with a wicked smile.
They were both people who had lived in the darkness from before they could remember. They had both been saved, and had found families to belong to, and they lived in the light now. But that didn’t mean everything was rainbows and sunshines.
Ja’far’s fingers were knotted hard around Judal’s hair, and he thrust slowly into his mouth, repeatedly causing Judal, who was focused on lips and tongue and teeth placing with the cock, to let out small noises of mixed annoyance and amusement. Judal grabbed hold of Ja’far’s pants when Ja’far pressed as deep as he could, and he held him in place for a few moments. Felt his throat flex and the press of his tongue. When he pulled him back and off of his cock, Judal gasped and coughed a little, then he laughed.
They were dark creatures, and they were drawn to each other. They were both each other’s flame that the moth they were couldn’t help but fly closer to.
Ja’far was strong, despite how scrawny he was. Then again, Judal was even scrawnier and very light, so you didn’t have to be as strong as Ja’far to be able to pick him up. He lifted him off the ground, and Judal was pressed between the cold wall and Ja’far’s warm body. Judal wrapped his arms around Ja’far’s neck, caught his lips in a demanding kiss, and he whimpered when Ja’far pressed inside him. Besides Ja’far, only gravity and the wall behind his back controlled how deep Ja’far’s cock went in his ass, and he could go deep. Ja’far always prepared him well, when they did have sex, but he always left a little room for some much-desired pain. If Judal wanted something gentle he would say so, but he preferred it rough, it increased the passion and pleasure, made it all so much better.
“Fuck,” Judal said. He said it over and over, until Ja’far hushed him, and he buried his teeth in Ja’far’s shirt. He heard the door to the toilet slam, and footsteps passing across the floor. Ja’far was quiet, but he didn’t stop moving, shallow pushes into Judal. Judal stifled a giggle against Ja’far’s throat. Whoever had entered the toilet went into the stall next to theirs, sat down behind Judal’s back, and Judal grimaced. Ja’far pushed in deeper, and Judal groaned. The person in the next stall startled, and was suddenly very silent. Judal licked his lips, and then his back slammed against the wall with a deep thrust inside him. He moaned, unable to stop himself. He searched for and found Ja’far’s lips, and he grasped at his hair with a hand stained in ink and come. Ja’far let out a pleased groan. Judal snorted and laughed into the deep kisses when he heard noises from the other stall. The guy was masturbating to them, fuck that! He laughed, and he kicked the stall’s wall hard. The guy in there let out a startled cry, and then there was a string of curses. “Fuck you!” Judal shouted after him, when he rushed out of the stall and out of the toilet. He roared with laughter, until Ja’far squeezed his balls hard. “Your manners are terrible,” he said, and Judal grinned. “So’s his!” he declared. He gasped when Ja’far thrust deeply inside of him again. “Fuck!”
“Your vocabulary is so limited,” Ja’far commented, and he pounded hard into Judal, who was reduced into pleasure and curses. “If somebody comes to see what the noise is about, it’s your fault.” Judal managed a snort, despite how he thought that he wouldn’t. “As if half the management doesn’t jerk off to the hallway security tapes,” he said. His breath hitched in his throat. “Let go of my balls and let me cum already.” Ja’far didn’t do as told instantly, but then when did he ever do that. But after a while he did let go, and after a few more thrusts, Judal climaxed. His head hit the wall, and he grasped Ja’far tighter. Ja’far shifted his grip so he could change the angle of his thrusts, and he had to have continued for at least another five minutes. He cummed inside of Ja’far, and after that he slowed down, and eventually stopped. He leaned forward, pressing his forehead to the cool wall right beside Judal’s head. “Fuck, I’m hard again,” Judal said, and Ja’far chuckled. “You always get hard if I keep fucking you after you’re done,” he remarked, and Judal hummed. “Yeah, I guess. Don’t leave me dry, keep going.”
“If I do that, we’ll actually get in trouble for fooling around at work,” Ja’far said. But it was just an excuse to leave Judal frustrated and wanting more. “Fuck you,” Judal spat with a sleepy tone in his voice. He steadied himself against the wall when Ja’far put him down. His legs were weak. “You’re buying me that fucking brunch, ugly,” he said. “And get me some damn paper, I need to clean up and this stall’s out.”
Ja’far watched as Judal was about to open up the toilet lid, but he stopped him, and spun him around so he sat on it, he pulled him forward and lifted up his legs. “Hey!” Judal protested, but he fell silent with a strangled noise at the back of his throat when he felt Ja’far’s tongue at his ass. “You wanted to get cleaned up,” Ja’far said, simply, and Judal huffed, and moaned, when Ja’far’s tongue delved inside of him. “Yeah but, you almost, hnn, never do this.” Ja’far hummed, and pulled Judal a little bit closer. He continued until he heard the telltale noises of Judal being close to cumming, and then he stopped. “There,” he said, and pulled an unsteady Judal to his feet. “You’re an asshole,” Judal grumbled. He pulled his pants back on, and zipped them up. “And you need to eat a dictionary,” Ja’far retorted. He stretched, looking much similar to a satisfied cat. “Let’s go get that brunch then, Judal.” He looked over his shoulder as he unlocked the stall door. “And if you say ‘fuck you’ one more time today, I’m putting lemon syrup on your pancakes.” Judal made an obscene gesture at him, but didn’t repeat the curse.
The mentioned pendants looks something like this.
Chapter 23: pardon me, officer
"Officer, I'd like to file a complaint."
Kouen leaned against the door frame, a casual, cool air around him. The hand that had knocked on it was still raised, but it dropped to his side when he saw Mu look up. Mu smiled at him, first instinct as always causing him to feel joy at seeing him. Then he frowned, but it quickly dissipated into a professional smile when he took in Kouen’s attitude. "Yes? What troubles you, sir?" he asked, and Kouen’s smirk widened a fraction. He crossed the distance between the door and the table, and placed a bundle in front of Mu.
“Somehow, it seems as if the person who makes our lunch boxes at home every day forgets to bring his own with him. Do you have any suggestions as to what I should do to change that?”
Mu snorted, but cut it off by biting his lip. “Well,” he said thoughtfully. “I suppose there are some ways that it could be solved, but have you questioned the culprit before seeking my advice?”
“As a matter of fact,” Kouen said, drawing out the words, “no, but he seems so airheaded sometimes, I worry that it wouldn’t help to simply ask him to stop forgetting.”
“That is troubling,” Mu said, and he laced his fingers together, resting his hands on the table surface, just near the bundled lunch box in front of him. “I may have a theory though, if you are willing to listen, sir.”
Kouen refrained from raising an eyebrow, and instead adopted an attentive expression. “Yes?”
“Please do your roleplaying somewhere else,” said a voice from the doorway, and Mu and Kouen looked over toward it.
“Ah, Sergeant Karimi, hello.” Mu smiled at the other man. “What can I help you with?” Masrur looked between him and Kouen, and then walked over to hand Mu a file. “My report,” he said, and Mu nodded. “Alright, thank you, Masrur.” Masrur nodded, lingered a moment to give them another look, and then he turned to leave.
Mu cleared his throat, and looked back at Kouen. “My apologies,” he said. “Would you still be interested in hearing my theory, sir?” Kouen nodded. “Well then. Perhaps it is simply that your husband wishes to see you more often, even if it’s only for a few minutes?”
Kouen made a thoughtful sound. “Perhaps you’re right. But officer, I never mentioned that the person in question was my husband.”
“Truth be told,” Mu covered Kouen’s hand with one of his own. “I must confess. I have seen you before, and have been unable to tear my eyes from you. I am terribly jealous of your husband, to have been so lucky as to marry a person like you.”
Kouen had just been ready to act scandalous - as scandalous as he could manage to pretend - when another voice interrupted them.
“Seriously? Come on, at least close the fucking door.”
Mu let out a groan and entirely abandoned the act of a cop flirting with a married man. He ran a hand over his face, then smiled up at his subordinate. “Yes, Doron?”
Doron bared his teeth at them, and despite his eyes not being visible, it was all too easy to tell his expression. “If you need to get laid, go get laid, just don’t make us watch your damn spectacle, it’s creeping me out.” He dumped a pile of documents on Mu’s desk. “The files on the jewel case that you wanted.” He turned, and when he left the office he slammed the door shut behind him. Kouen looked at the door for a few moments of silence.
“That one does have a mouth on him,” Kouen stated matter-of-factly. “The mood is ruined,” he continued. He pressed a kiss to Mu’s cheek. “If you’re forgetting your lunch boxes on purpose, I will pull all the laces from your shoes and feed them to Taraneh.”
“Ouch, that bad? How petty.”
“You knew I was petty when you married me. And it’s not like I mind, but it would be a hassle if you forgot it when I didn’t have time to deliver it. You know I’m busy.”
Mu shook his head. He put a hand to Kouen’s cheek and pressed a kiss to his lips. “Yeah, I’ll do my best to remember. At least when you’re too busy to pamper my like this.” There was a gagging sound from the outside the door, and Mu spoke to Doron on the other side. “You’re acting like my nine year old son, detective. If you don’t want to hear then don’t stand around out there.” He heard Doron mutter curses, and he shook his head. “You seem amused,” Kouen said. “Well, he’s young,” he said as an explanation. “He’s a good guy, and an excellent detective. Do you need to go back yet?”
Kouen nodded. “I’ll spare you a couple more minutes. But then I need to get ready for a conference call.” He pulled himself up on a free spot on the table, leaned on his arm with his palm on the table, and curled his other hand around the back of Mu’s head. “So? What are you waiting for?”
“My restraint,” Mu replied. Kouen blinked, arching an eyebrow. Mu cleared his throat. “So I don’t just jump you right here.” Kouen let out an amused breath of air. “Don’t keep me waiting too long though. I’d rather have a few invigorating kisses before I go.” Mu smiles up at him, and put his hands behind his ears, cupping his head in his palms. He brushed his lips against Kouen’s. “Hmm, I better do my best, then.”
Chapter 24: high fashion
“I told you that you shouldn’t wear two ties at the same time.”
Solomon winced at the tone in his wife’s voice. “It seemed like a good idea at the time,” he said. Sheba did not look convinced. “How?” she asked, confirming Solomon’s suspicion. “Well, it seemed fun and, you know,” he made wide hand gestures, as he searched for a way to explain himself. It simply fizzled out into another “fun.”
“Your logic is incomprehensible,” Sheba sighed. “Don’t you think so, Aladdin?”
“I like it,” Aladdin said, and Solomon’s expression turned triumphant. “See! I’m not the only one!”
“He’s eight,” she said. “And thinks that hand prints on a person’s stomach is first class art.”
“It’s totally first class art,” Solomon said, and he nodded sagely. “Aladdin is very wise.”
“Thank you daddy!” Aladdin beamed. He didn’t really understand the difference between first class art and other art, but praise was praise and if daddy liked his art then that was good. And he knew that it was good to be wise. He should make him another stomach painting. Solomon beamed back at him, and lifted him up in the air. He spun around and then held him to his chest. He nuzzled his cheek against his hair. “You’re such a good boy, Aladdin,” Solomon said. He opened his eyes and looked back at Sheba when she said his name to get his attention. “Yes, honey?”
“I just want to make sure,” Sheba said as she stepped in close. Aladdin looked at her with wide eyes, and Solomon smiled at her. “that you take your fashion advice from me, from now on. At least until the advice this little rascal gives” she puts a hand on their son’s head, “doesn’t include whiskers painted on your cheeks.”
Aladdin puffed up his cheeks. He could fit a lot of air in them. “But it’s cute, mommy,” he said. She ran a hand over his head. “I know it is, but it’s not the kind of makeup a person wears to a serious meeting, honey.” Solomon looked her with eyes filled of innocence. “Not even the faintest whiskers?” he asked. She glared at him. “Not even that.” Solomon puffed up his cheeks, his expression identical to Aladdin’s. “I’m a gardener, so why can’t I look a little eccentric?”
“It’s not professional. And if you want to design more gardens, you need to at least pretend that you actually have some sense. Nobody will hire you if they think you’re too strange.”
Solomon sighed and shook his head. “That’s their loss then--” He cut himself off when Sheba glared at him. “Mommy is so scary today,” he said. “Come, Aladdin, let’s run away!” Aladdin cheered, and Sheba shouted after Solomon as he pretended to escape her, out into their sparkling, colorful garden.
Chapter 25: pinecones can also hurt
Takes place about 10 years before the normal timeline, a little after It's nice to meet you (too).
“Ma’am, if you would please-ow-please stop that--if you would only come down from there so we can talk--please stop throwing pinecones at me ma’am.”
If he had not known better, Kouen would have thought that he was drunk. But no, he was definitely not drunk, because he did not drink when he had school the next day, and it was definitely still only Tuesday.
But the scene he was witnessing was just so absurd.
There was a woman on top of a big, upside-down boat. He knew that the boat had fallen off its transportation truck a few hours earlier because he had passed the site not shortly after it had happened, on his way to a friend’s house after school, but the woman had not been on top of it, howling the strangest pop song about fake eyelashes at the top of her lungs, and she was hurling pinecones at the poor police officer who was trying to help her down.
Said police officer was, surprisingly, one Mu Alexius.
He didn’t think that the next time he saw him, it would be like this. Instead, he had intended to go to his house, one of these days after the midterms were over and he wasn’t occupied with cramming with friends or taking tests.
It was in silence that he watched the police officer that he had met only a month ago. Mu was still trying to talk to the woman, who was most definitely drunk, and he was unsuccessful. Kouen decided to never drink so much that he got that drunk. He didn’t want to make a fool out of himself. Or throw anything at cops, for that matter.
He let out a startled noise when he was suddenly hit by a pinecone, right on his nose. He pressed a hand to it, because the throw had been shockingly hard, and his nose hurt like hell.
Mu spun around to see what had happened, and his eyes widened. “Kouen-kun--ow!” He had been hit by another pinecone at the back of his head. “Give me a couple moments,” he said to Kouen, and he turned back to the woman. Kouen saw the eye he could see as he turned away widen, and Kouen looked up. Mu caught the woman as she tumbled down from the boat, and let out a sigh of relief. He rubbed his face with a hand. “She clocked out,” he muttered, and Kouen noticed that the woman was asleep. He picked her up, and made a motion with his head toward the next street over, where a koban was located. “I need to bring her over to sleep the fuddle out of her. Do you mind coming accompanying me?”
“So you could tell I wanted to talk to you,” Kouen said, falling into step with the other man. It wasn’t far to the koban. “I had a feeling,” Mu said with a smile. “But did you want to talk about anything specific, or just overall?” Kouen shrugged. “Just overall. But since you’re available, would you mind if I stayed at your place tonight? I don’t get a moment’s peace at home right now, I’m constantly being hammered about tests and cramming.”
Mu raised an eyebrow in his direction, and huffed. The huff sounded like of of long suffering, but there was a slight smile playing on his lips. “You’re not going to take no for an answer anyway, right? Fine, but I still have some hours left of work so you’ll have to either wait or go on ahead.”
Kouen nodded, and debated his options. He didn’t know Mu’s family very well, but at the same time, he still didn’t know Mu very well. They had only met a couple times since that time at the bar. “Is this the sort of work you do then?” Mu made a confused noise. “What?”
“You stop drunks from being a menace and you stop minors from going home with strange people who’re just looking for sex.” Mu made a grimace and Kouen watched him, gaze unwavering. “Well, it’s part of it,” Mu said after a while. “I’m still a rookie anyway, so I get to do a lot of this.” He shook his head. “I don’t really mind, honestly, it keeps my busy. When nothing happens it gets really dull, being a cop.”
“Then why are you one?”
“Why?” Mu smiled at him. “Because I want to help. And I saw my parents do it and thought, oh, this is what I want to do, too.” He shouldered open the door to the koban. “Well, mom is in traffic and dad is in another of these boxes since forever, but they still get a chance to help a lot of people, like that.” He put down the woman, and went to fill out some papers regarding her, though from his mumbling Kouen could guess that not all information was possible to fill in right away.
Kouen lingered in the doorway, then jumped a little when somebody appeared behind him, and he stepped aside to let another police officer inside. “Good afternoon,” he greeted. The older man nodded and returned his greeting. He listened as Mu and the other man exchanged words, and then he was gently steered away from the koban by Mu. “What will you do?” he asked, and Kouen searched the area. He nodded toward a small coffee shop a few buildings down. “I’ll go read, you pick me up there once you’re done for the day?”
“Alright,” Mu said in agreement, and as if he could read Kouen’s thoughts he put his hands on his shoulders to stop him from rising up on his toes. “I’ve told you no,” he said, and Kouen took half a step back, shrugging casually. “I’m still definitely going to ask you out again once I’m older,” he said.
Mu shook his head and sighed. “You’ve already asked me out four times. Just take it easy and wait and see if you feel the same once you’re actually there.” Kouen sighed too but agreed, and he gave Mu his parting greetings. He watched him go for a few moments. No, he was sure he would want to ask him again, even a couple years down the road. Even a lot of years down the road. Kouen turned around and headed for the coffee shop. And maybe one day, Mu would even say yes.
Chapter 26: in the jungle
Hello, how do you do, it's been a while....a really long while. I apologize, I've ......been procrastinating a lot.....really a lot.
I've decided to end this particular collection with 30 drabbles, with the hopes of wrapping it up before the year is over. Not that that means that I have entirely abandoned this AU. I still have a few ideas that I would like to write at some point. But they'll be posted separately in the Modern Magi series that this belongs to. If I can figure out the kinks of it, there might even be a proper chapter fic in this universe. I can't guarantee anything, but I've had the base idea in my head for several years at this point so, well, it's something I'd like to try to do at some time in the future.
But for now, this is one of the last few chapters. I'll be working on bringing it to completion properly, without any more delays this huge.
A loud crash resonated through the house, sending the rabbits scuttling in under the livingroom couch. The sound of alarmed voices followed upstairs, and aggravated stomping cound be head from under the couch.
Mu groaned, buried his face into the chest he was using as a pillow. He had been working many hours overtime for over two weeks and didn’t get much time at home, not to mention he didn’t get a lot of time over to spend with Kouen. Did they have to get up to mischief when he finally found some time for that?
The spine-end of the book that had rested against his shoulder pressed into it further, similar to the sharp nudge of an elbow. “‘S fine,” Mu protested, and the embrace he had wrapped around Kouen tightened a little. “Go see what they ruined, you loaf.”
Mu chuckled. The sound was muffled by Kouen’s sweater. “This loaf of bread ‘sn’t done rising.” Kouen jabbed him with the spine of the book again. “If you rise any more I’m not letting you sleep on me any more, you’re already big as it is.” He jabbed him with the book again.
“It’s fine! Nothing happened! We’re all good!”
The shout came from Kouha, and Mu tilted his head up, chin resting against Kouen’s chest. “See? They won’t die or nothing, let ‘em sort out their own mess.” Kouen’s eyes narrowed. “It’s the furniture that I’m concerned about.” If anybody was actually hurt, then they would have been hearing different noises and Kouha wouldn’t have been shouting lies at them.
Mu shrugged. He clearly wasn’t as worried about the furniture as Kouen was. It wasn’t like they were unable to replace it if or repair it if it really was broken. “They’re playing old-time opera or something.” Kouen shook his head and let out a sigh. It wasn’t deep enough to show that he was really annoyed. He was only mildly annoyed, which made it less important for the both of them to actually check. “You know nothing about opera so don’t make irresponsible comments like that.”
Mu smiled, and he pressed his lips into the clothes disabling him from pressing them to Kouen’s skin. “Darling, I’m never irresponsible.”
Kouen let out a huff, and rolled his eyes. He both sounded and looked wholly unimpressed with Mu’s statement. “Judal saw you try to chew my neck off just yesterday.” A color close to Mu’s hair made way up Mu’s cheeks and he nibbled at his lip. “I wasn’t- That was lovebites.” Another huff escaped Kouen. “You’re a veritable shark.” He prodded Mu with the book again. “Now get up. You’ve immobilized my legs so take responsibility.” Mu blinked up at him, with an innocent expression on his face. “They’re asleep?” he asked and, although Kouen started telling him “Don’t—” Mu nudged him in a leg with one of his own. Kouen let out a hiss. “You, are a menace,” he groaned. He slapped the book-cover against Mu’s arm. “Go already, let me wither in peace.”
The huff that Mu let out was one of amusement, and the corners of his lips tugged far upward. “And I’m supposed to be the dramatic one.” He pushed himself up, untangling his arms from around Kouen, then moving away his legs. Kouen hissed again, when his sleeping legs were jostled with Mu’s movements. He pressed a quick kiss to Kouen’s forehead. “I’ll be off then, muffin.”
“You’re the—” Kouen cut his protest short, and he dropped back onto the couch as Mu left the room.
Once he reached the top of the stairs Mu saw a mess of fabric on the floor. The linen closet had been breached. It was supposed to be way too heavy to topple just like that.
Around and beyond the toppled closet was several young ones, in deep conversation.
“You know, instead of arguing about a story, wouldn’t it be better to try to cover up the crime first?”
They had not noticed him until the moment that they spoke, despite Narda having started to wobble her way over to him across the mess. He picked the child up, and she instantly and without hesitation started to rub her hands against the two-day stubble on his cheeks with the full size of her small hands.
“It was Ja’far’s fault!” Judal instantly sold his sort-of friend out, jabbing a finger his way. “Wha- It was your fault!” the boy protested.
“It was both of your fault,” Kouha interjected- which only resulted in the two boys ganging up on him. “No, actually, it was your fault!” one voice said, only for the other to add, “Yes, it was your idea.”
“It was Rohroh’s idea first!”
“Don’t fucking lie, asswipe-”
“Children.” Mu sighed, shook his head, and looked between the mess on the floor and the kids gathered on the other side of it. “None of you are hurt?”
“No we’re fine, nothing broken.” Apparently, they had assessed the state of their potential injuries after the incident.
“Okay so, what did you do to make this thing topple over?”
Guilty looks were exchanged, and silence reigned. Mu remained unmoving, watching the kids. Eventually, a response, quietly, came; “...Playing Tarzan....”
“How did you... Never mind. Clean up after yourselves, alright? Don’t touch the shelf, I’ll put it back up later, but sort and fold all the linen properly. Got it?”
The guilty expressions remained, but the kids nodded, with various levels of intensity. “Good. You guys,” he glanced at the kids he was responsible for full-time,” we’ll be talking again later. “Ja’far,” he turned his gaze over to their guest, “I’ll be mentioning this to Masrur once he comes to pick you up.” That he didn’t say that he was calling him before he came was proof that he wasn’t particularly mad, he was most of all relieved, in the end, that nobody was badly hurt, even though he had not been all that worried before checking up on the situation. Still, it wasn’t like he was entirely removed from upset with them, so he added; “And none of you are getting any of that ice cream this week.”
That was a hard blow, apparently. Some of them just loved eating in general, but ice cream was a favorite and it was their saturday treat. There was a lot of groans coming from the kids.
But well. You reap what you sow.
Chapter 27: Gnome
There is a sound of something shattering; porcelain, plaster, something around there, his ears are not as sharp as his boyfriends. Then the sound of crying, soon after. That he can detect and identify so long as he can hear it.
Kouen sighs, turns the mouse to his computer off (he’s learned the hard way not to leave it turned on in a house full of sticky-fingered kids and the habit remains even when he’s not at the come computer) and leaves his office.
He seeks the source of the sound and in an office finds Seishuu frantically trying to calm down the bawling little girl. He can’t really tell what was supposed to lay at her feet, it’s something broken into colorful shards. “Kougyoku,” he calls, and his little sister pounces, wraps chubby little child arms around his neck and presses a face stained with tears and snot into his shoulder and neck. (He’ll have to get changed as a result but he doesn’t mention it- Kougyoku is a sensitive little girl, fully capable of blowing anything out of proportion.)
While he rocks the girl in his arms he turns an arched eyebrow toward his friend/secretary. Seishuu awkwardly looks between Kouen, Kougyoku, and the pieces on the floor. “Uh... She wanted to show me, dropped it and, uh, well.... It broke, and.... I’ll... I’ll get a broom....” Nervously, Seishuu slipped away, and Kouen wondered if he was omitting something or if he just was worried Kouen would get angry for making Kougyoku cry, no matter reason. Kouen loves his siblings dearly, no matter what people might think.
“What happened, Kougyoku?” he asks once he’s finished inwardly rolling his eyes at Seishuu (who should know by now that if it really wasn’t anything but an accident, he wouldn’t be mad at him), and Kougyokus sobs have started to quiet down. “Bro- brothers present bro-ooke,” she whimpers. Unprompted, after some more crying, and Seishuu reappearing and disappearing again, leaving behind a broom and scoop, she nods, and she sniffles. “B’cus, it, brothers birsday,” she explains.
“Ah.” It is indeed Koumeis birthday tomorrow.
Kouen goes to fetch the broom, he crouches down, shifting to support her with one arm and setting her on his leg. He picks up one of the bigger shards. It is indeed made of plaster. A figurine, of some sort, with clumsy child-painting in all kinds of colors on the outside surface. “Is this a bear? Did you make it?” Kougyoku nods. She wipes her face with her fists and se sniffle. As she looks at the colorful bear, her eyes tear up again. “Te-echer help- help me, an’ I p-paint.” Kouen, since nobody is there besides them (and she is unlikely to actually remember, since she still is so small), nuzzle his nose into her hair. He hears her sniffles turn hesitant. “Do you want to fix it together?” he asks her. She draws in one long, soggy sob, and then she nods.
He collects the shards onto the scoop, and brushes up the small shards with the broom. Then he brings her into his office, and notes that there is already a bottle of glue and some brushes in a bag- he rolls his eyes properly, and makes a mental note to say thanks to Seishuu later. He finishes off some paper-work that can’t be delayed while Kougyoku starts drawing little pictures on the pages of newspaper also left in the bag. Then he clears the desk as much as he can, spreads the newspaper pages on the surface. She sits in his lap as they repair the bear, a sleepy-looking creature with red fur and a purple-and-pink based changshan and dots that represent freckles. Once the sculpture is dry, he wraps it in many layers of the newspaper pages, and pack it up in a box.
Happily, Kougyoku clutches the box to her chest even after they get home, and the next day she is stubbornly and proudly the first one to present their brother her gift.
Chapter 28: Sunny
The unintelligible French - unintelligible because Mu, unlike Kouen, didn’t speak or understand French - was a soothing sound to wake up to. Mu had absolutely no idea what Kouen was talking about, or to who, but it was a melodic language spoken by the person that he loved the most, so it was still one of the most beautiful things that he had ever heard. He sounded calm and relaxed, though, so it must be someone he knew and trusted. Absently, as he listened to the flowing words in the deep voice, Mu ran his lips along the hipbone he could feel underneath the skin where his face was buried; Kouen was sitting up in bed, and with Mus arms flung around his waist his pajama trousers had slipped to give Mu perfect access to press kisses to warm skin.
He felt a hand in his hair, threading through it, tangling in it, grasping and gently tugging. Mu drew in a breath, pulled Kouens scent deep into his lungs.
“À plus,” is one of the few phrases that he knows, most of all because even Kouen sometimes uses net-speech in his texts, and @+ is one of them, when he says bye for now. And judging by the sounds - and the lack thereof, in terms of speech - he hands up, finished with his current conversation. There is the sound of the phone being put back down, and then there is the rustle of fabric and slide of skin. Kouen slips back down under the sheets, lies so he faces Mu, and when he presses a slow kiss to Mus lips his beard tickles Mus skin. Though he hears and feels the rasping of beard of stubble when he slides cheek against cheek to give him a nip on the ear. “I need to get going soon,” Kouen says, but doesn’t seem to be in any hurry, when his hand slides along Mus bicep. “This got something to do with the sudden language switch?” Mu asks, imitating Kouens unrushed pace in the slide of hands along Kouens back. Kouen hums in acknowledgement against Mus neck. “Some business in Nice, with Hakuei.”
“She’s stealing you from me again?” Mu pouts, but laughs. Kouen huffs, catches Mus face between his hands, rubs his stubble with the pads of his thumbs, and dips in to kiss him. “You know she always returns me. Enough of that now.” Mu nibbles at Kouens lip. “Mmmm, I guess I’ll have to savour you in the meantime, hmmm?”
“I guess you’ll have to.” Kouen huffs again, at the sweet, beastly grin on Mus face. “I’ll just gobble you up whole,” the large man says, voice filled with mischief. Kouen shakes his head, releases Mus face in favour of burying his fingers in his hair, and Mu enjoys the kiss that seeps the warmth of a sunny day into his still half-awake body, slow and steady, to the beat of the heart in his chest and that underneath his palm.