Zen’s admission of Haruto into the vege garden hadn’t lasted long – Haruto had stepped on one (one!) potato plant and immediately been banished to the lawn, where he was instructed to study a gardening guide Zen had found for him. The guide was more interested in the difference between annuals and perennials than things like the ability of potato plants to survive being stood on, and it was all irrelevant if Zen wasn’t going to let him back in the garden anyway.
So maybe Haruto wasn’t as attentive to the book as Zen had intended. He only had to lift his eyes, after all, and he could watch Zen instead: watch the muscles in Zen’s arms as he dug; see how his top rode up in the back when he crouched down. It was very very easy to fixate on the details of Zen’s body, and forget you were meant to be reading about when to transplant seedlings.
In the end, Haruto gave up on even pretending – that was the sort of lackadaisical attitude their new life had granted him.
Zen noticed, of course, looking over at him quizzically. Haruto couldn’t be bothered pretending he was doing anything other than what he was. Which was thinking about what Zen would look like if he took his top off to work. Maybe it was the sun going to Haruto’s head; he should have worn a hat, like Zen. But whatever – it wasn’t like he was going to die of skin cancer.
Zen walked over, and Haruto watched him. Zen stopped in front of him and there he pulled his gloves off, very slowly. Haruto’s eyes fixed on the white of his wrists, as Zen lifted his hand; then Zen slapped Haruto lightly across the face with the gloves. Haruto didn’t try to avoid it. Zen’s gardening gloves smelt like the earth.
‘Stop leering,’ Zen said.
‘I wasn’t leering.’
Zen pushed Haruto’s chin up, the fabric of the gloves rough on Haruto’s skin. ‘No? Do you have another word for it?’
Haruto swallowed. ‘Anticipation?’
Zen let the gloves drop unceremoniously. ‘Anticipation? That’s what they’re calling it these days?’
Haruto didn’t look Zen in the eye, then; he rested his eyes on his exposed collarbone, and thought about tasting the salt there.
‘Oi. Earth to Haruto.’ Zen lifted Haruto’s chin again, with his bare hand.
‘I was paying attention,’ Haruto protested.
‘To what?’ Zen asked. He put his hand between Haruto’s legs, cupping his cock through the fabric of his trousers. He squeezed. ‘To this?’
Haruto bit his lip. Then, with Zen leaning over him, he nodded.
‘You really are something,’ Zen muttered. He kept his hand over Haruto’s cock, although Haruto noticed he looked around furtively, as if he were worried they’d be caught like this.
As if anyone would care. That was more evidence of how this life had changed them.
Zen looked back at Haruto.
‘It’s getting too hot out here anyway,’ he said. It sounded like a promise.
They left the gardening book, the gloves, all those things where they were. There were more important things than tidying up.