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For Keeps

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Before Mayumi opened his eyes, he could tell that Taiga was watching him.

He shivered as he remembered the night before. It all felt like a dream, the sort of impossible fantasy that couldn't possibly happen for real outside the dozens of times he had rehearsed it in his own head, but the way his body ached proved otherwise. They'd had actual, for-real sex, right here on this futon; Taiga had taken his virginity, and he'd been just as kind about it as Mayumi had always imagined.

Now, breathless, he waited for Taiga to do something -- kiss him, or even just touch him. But for a long stretch of seconds, Taiga didn't do anything.

Then Mayumi remembered he was naked, and facing the wall, which meant that right now Taiga had a clear view of his back. Oh great.

He rolled over so that the physical manifestation of his brother's greatest failure as a guardian wasn't staring him straight in the face. When he opened his eyes, the look on Taiga's face confirmed all his worst suspicions.

"Mayumi," Taiga said, and Mayumi could tell already that he couldn't let him finish that sentence. It was going to end somewhere awful, like 'I need to take you to see a child psychologist.'

So Mayumi leaned in to kiss him before he could speak another word.

"Good morning," he said.

After a beat, Taiga smiled ruefully. "Is it really?"

"It's an amazing morning."

There was another long, ominous pause, before Taiga asked, "I didn't -- hurt you?"

"Nothing hurts," Mayumi promised. It actually did kind of hurt, but not so badly he couldn't hide it. It probably always did, your first time, no matter how gentle the other person tried to be. Besides, he wasn't even sure gentle was what he wanted. He could be into rough stuff, like those leather guys you see on TV. He'd just do without the leather part.

He wriggled in closer to Taiga's side, and -- okay, that stung, and not in a good way; maybe he didn't want it rough after all. On second thought, Taiga-nii got kind of scary when he was angry. No, yeah, Mayumi didn't want that at all.

"I love you," he murmured, because Taiga was looking broody again. He meant it to cheer him up, but now Taiga just looked like he wanted to cry.

"I love you too," Taiga said. Then he took a shaky breath. "But we need to talk about this."

"No we don't. It was good. I liked it. There, we've talked."

"I'm serious." Taiga swallowed. "Mayumi ... I know you think you want this, and I promise I don't judge you, or, or think that you're wrong for thinking that's what you want, but -- just because it happened once, doesn't mean it has to happen again. I'm going to be here for you no matter what, as your brother. You shouldn't feel like you have to -- give me anything more than that -- just for us to have a relationship."

"I didn't ask you to fuck me because I thought I had to," Mayumi said. If Taiga wasn't going to say the words, he would. He wasn't ashamed. If anything, it was a little thrilling to finally be able to utter them out loud. "I wanted it. I thought it was hot. When I said 'don't stop, Taiga-nii, it feels so good,' that was because it actually felt good."

He'd kind of hoped Taiga would be shocked into silence, but he just stared fixedly at the wall behind Mayumi's head and said, "You may think so now. But I'm just saying, you've hardly lived your life. When I was in high school, I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with ... well, this person I knew, back then. It felt right, and I thought it was everything I wanted, but it ended up being a disaster."

Mayumi lifted his head off the pillow. "Wait, you dated in high school? Who?" Taiga had never mentioned any high school sweethearts before. He certainly hadn't brought anyone over to the house that Mayumi could remember.

"It doesn't matter. The point is, you're not even in university yet, and you shouldn't shut yourself off from other opportunities before you've even had the chance to try them out yet."

"Try what? Other opportunities? I've had lots of opportunities." Half the guys in Mayumi's class had come on to him over the past few years. Some of them were assholes, but he'd tried to give the nice ones a shot. If he'd had the capacity to fall in love with people who weren't Taiga, he could have just said yes when Tatsuya confessed to him with chocolate and everything last year, and things would be way less awkward between them now.

Taiga still didn't look convinced, though. Mayumi bent forward to lay his lips on his neck, and murmured: "I don't want anyone but you. I never have."

Taiga was silent. A cold spot bloomed in Mayumi's chest.

"Do you ... not want me?"

But then Taiga's arms came up to encircle him.

"No," he said, voice rough. "No, of course -- you never have to worry about that."

The cold spot immediately transformed into a warm glow. For several seconds, Mayumi just laid there pressed up against Taiga's side, soaking in the heat of his arms and the rhythm of his breathing.

Eventually, in hardly more than a whisper, Taiga admitted. "I wanted to die, when you told me. I felt so guilty. I thought that you could tell just by looking what kind of thoughts I'd been having about you."

What kind of thoughts were those, Taiga-nii? Mayumi badly wanted to ask. But he knew what Taiga needed right now was to be reassured that he hadn't irreparably corrupted his baby brother into becoming a shameless pervert, so he didn't. Still, the idea filled him with a shivery warmth. Taiga had thought about him. Taiga had wanted him, too. For how long? How much sooner could they have done this? But Mayumi was selfishly glad that they hadn't before, that he didn't have to relinquish the happiness that filled his chest right now to some past version of himself. For once, at last, it was all his own to keep. His most important person. His Taiga-nii.

"I never thought anything like that," he said, reaching around to rub Taiga's back. "You don't have to worry. You did everything right. I fell in love with you all on my own."

He felt as Taiga stiffened against him. So maybe it was a mistake, saying that so soon. But it didn't feel like a mistake. It was true: he was in love, and probably always had been, ever since he was little. Taiga was just going to have to deal with it.

"I kind of wish I had known, honestly," he admitted into Taiga’s chest. "I thought you’d hate me when you found out."

"I'd never hate you," Taiga said, squeezing him.

Mayumi felt warm all over. He wondered if Taiga would be up to go again this morning. Maybe not all the way again, just yet. But he could be up for going part of the way. Maybe he could try giving Taiga a blowjob this time.

Or maybe they could just snuggle like this for a while. It was like he'd found a way to go back in time to when he was in kindergarten and had spent every night curled up in Taiga's bed. Taiga's presence had felt so huge to him, back then. Mayumi had never felt so safe as he had in his arms.

"Hey," he said, nuzzling against Taiga's neck. It was already kind of stubbly, which was kind of gross, but also, he decided, a little hot, even if he hoped it wasn’t his own destiny to inherit it someday. "You don't have to work today, do you?"

"Mm. Asuou finally sent in his manuscript. I should look it over."

"Is it another depressing sci-fi story where everything is terrible?" Mayumi had tried reading one of those manuscripts once. It had been awful. He guessed some people must think differently or it wouldn't be winning all those awards, but it was all stuff like 'What if the people you loved turned out to actually be robots?' and 'What if you thought you were in heaven but it's just a dream and then you wake up to find you're alone in a box?'

"Well, I do work for a science fiction magazine."

"Okay, but that doesn't mean it has to be depressing. It's science fiction, not science fact! You should tell him to write his next book about a planet where everyone gets a puppy. And the puppy's life force is linked to theirs, so they live just as long. And they have a telepathic bond."

"Sounds like you should write a novel of your own," Taiga said, sounding entirely serious.

Mayumi wrinkled his nose.

"Don't read it today, okay?" he said. "You can read it tomorrow. Just not today.”

Taiga chuckled. "You're not really jealous of a manuscript, are you? A depressing manuscript?"

"I just want today to be our day." He pouted in the way he knew he was getting too old to get away with; Taiga was the only person it still worked on, nowadays. Well, and Tatsuya. Tatsuya really needed to hurry up and find a girlfriend.

Taiga's expression went soft. "Okay," he said. It was a good thing he was with Mayumi, and not someone who would actually take advantage of his susceptibility to emotional manipulation. Mayumi only took advantage in little ways, sometimes. Harmless ones.

They lay there a while longer, Taiga's palm idly stroking his back, before Taiga said, "We'll have to get out of bed sometime, though. Jou will be back for lunch."

Just like that, the lightness in Mayumi's chest shriveled up. That was right -- Jou was coming back today. Akinobu, too. He was going to have to eat dinner with everyone tonight, his body still sore, and he and Taiga would be the only ones who could ever know why.

It just wasn't fair. Why did Taiga have to be his brother? Why did that even matter, so long as they were both happy?

"I don't want to get up yet," he decided, muffling his face in Taiga's regrettably hairy chest. He smelled warm and wonderfully familiar. Even if he didn't let Mayumi sleep in his bed again tonight, maybe Mayumi could coax him into lending him one of his old t-shirts, and he could sleep with that instead. Or maybe he could wear the t-shirt, and Taiga would think it was hot, and he'd let him sleep in his bed again anyway. He'd figure it all out later; he'd make it all work somehow. Right now, though, he just wanted to stay here, warm and loved in Taiga's arms, and not think about anything at all.