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Winter Doll

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Not for the first time, Isshi wondered if this hadn't been a mistake. The way Kuina was practically vibrating with excitement was hardly reassuring, especially considering what mischief the younger man liked to make whenever the opportunity arose.

“Kuina....”

“You promised!” the young guitarist scolded, waggling a scolding finger at him. Isshi sighed; he had indeed promised to make an honest effort at this ... this dating thing. Which didn't change the slightly doomed feeling he was having. Kuina was a good kid, but trusting him as a matchmaker ... just what had he gotten himself into anyway?

But a promise was a promise, which was why he had let Kuina have unrestricted access to the whole rest of the house while he had stayed in his office working. He had heard someone arrive some time ago, presumably whomever it was Kuina had decided to try setting him up with, but he had repressed his usual host manners and kept writing. Murmuring voices, indistinct with distance, had reached his ears a couple of times, but he hadn't been able to make out what they had been saying. Hadn't tried very hard, either, despite nagging curiosity.

“All right, Tousan, I'm leaving now. Don't forget to have fun~” Kuina trilled, leaning in to brush a quick kiss to his cheek. Isshi huffed in feigned annoyance, pretending to be engrossed in his work as he listened to his adopted son leaving the house. He wasn't entirely sure what he should do next, though. Did he stay in his office or go searching for some clue to Kuina's grand (or not so grand) scheme?

“Please excuse the interruption, sir,” a soft voice murmured into the stillness. He looked up, surprised to find a young man kneeling demurely in front of his desk, the tea service on a tray on the floor next to him since there was no room for it on the desk itself at the moment. Strikingly beautiful, with skin like fresh cream and vibrant blue hair that was echoed in the silk furisode he wore. The kimono wasn't being worn entirely properly, though he was quite certain the way it was exposing so much shoulder had been intentional on Kuina's part. Just like the obi tied simply at the front and the leather collar around the young man's throat with its solitary D-ring. The tea was an excuse, the young man's body was the actual offering.

Getting up from the desk, he walked around it to stand over the youth, one finger tracing the line of his jaw. He had to admit, Kuina had flawless taste. But was it what he wanted?

“What is your name, lovely?'

“San, sir.”

“And what did Kuina-kun tell you to entice you here, hmm?” he murmured, brushing his thumb over lips that obediently parted for him. Dark eyes rose to his face even as those lips closed around his thumb. Only a moment, but it was enough to get the point across.

“That he thought our interests might be compatible,” San replied, those dark eyes still not leaving his face. “That he thought you spent too much time alone. And ... other things.” Only then did his eyes drop back down to the hands folded properly in his lap. Isshi wondered what those other things were but decided it didn't really matter. He trailed fingers down his throat, along the line of exposed shoulder, before making up his mind.

“I'll take my tea in the next room,” he said abruptly, turning to step out onto the rear veranda. It was too cold, too far into winter for him to be standing outside in just his shirt sleeves for very long, but he had need of the moment of cold to force some clarity into his head. He heard the soft swish of silk as San moved, but the blue-haired youth didn't follow him outside. Isshi allowed himself a quick half cigarette before opening the shouji and stepping up into the somewhat bare room next to his office. Kuina had been right about one thing - he was alone in this house entirely too much since kicking Reno out of his life. Most of the rooms in the house had taken to looking like this one - formal in their sparse traditional furnishings, with personal items and electronics stored out of sight. Settling at the low table, he watched as San poured tea for him. And wondered what San was expecting to get from this. Sipping the tea, he tried to read something more from his silent companion, but he gave nearly nothing away. Well trained indeed. He set down his cup, not even half finished.

“Come here.”

Silent, San rose to his feet, walking the short distance with mincing steps before kneeling in front of him once more with head bowed. The picture of proper submission, and Isshi couldn't deny that it appealed to him even while it poked at an old wound on his heart that still hadn't healed right. It would be so easy for this to be nothing more than another rebound, another disaster just waiting to happen. He couldn't burden yet another person with his brokenness, he couldn't put that pain on someone else again. Reaching out, he unbuckled the collar, dropping it onto the table next to his cup.

“Kuina didn't have the right to put that on you,” he murmured in explanation. “Not when he didn't intend to tell me any more than what he did.”

Dark eyes skittered sideways to the discarded length of leather, fingers twisting together in San's lap as the younger man bit his bottom lip. Well, at least he could take some sense of pride in having caught him off guard? Or something....

“I ... senpai ...,” San started, quickly trailing into an uneasy silence. As if, without the set role the collar had given him, he wasn't sure how to proceed. Another soft sigh; so it was to be on him to move things forward.

“Tell me what sorts of expectations you had for this ... encounter and we can move onwards from there perhaps?”

But instead of answering, San merely shook his head, not even looking up at him. That would never do and Isshi breached the slight space between them to tilt up the younger man's chin.

“I am hardly some beast to be feared, San-kun, regardless of what rumors you may have heard,” he said quietly, brushing his thumb along San's cheek. A bright blush stained paled cheeks and San averted his gaze once more.

“It's not that, senpai,” he said with a slight shake of his head, though curiously enough he was careful to keep it from being enough to free himself from Isshi's grasp. “Kuina-kun worries you spend too much time alone. He ... if you aren't ... I've been trained in more than ... than just that. I ... I know he expected my service to you to include sex, but if you aren't ... it ... it doesn't have to....”

“Kuipuppy means well,” Isshi said, letting his hand fall away from those pink cheeks. And Kuina was probably right to be concerned for him. “And I would have to be blind not to be interested,” he added, fingers brushing along one pale shoulder again. The blush in San's cheeks deepened and he had to smile at that. But when the young man's hand went to his obi, Isshi caught his wrist, stopping him from continuing.

“You should know that I ... am not someone who indulges in casual sex so easily, San-kun. Too easy for someone to be hurt that way.”

“I don't expect anything more than tonight,” San replied with another slight shake of his head, the words barely audible. “To make Isshi-senpai comfortable in any way he desires.”

“Then sit with me, have tea with me, talk with me.”

A moment and then San was nodding his acceptance of his terms. Isshi let him go, half tempted to tell him to fix his kimono while he was up when the other mentioned fetching a cup for himself. But to be honest, he was enjoying the view and since it seemed San didn't mind putting himself on display in such a fashion, well, why not take advantage of that?

They filled the afternoon with tea and quiet conversation, though at times Isshi had to prod a bit to get the blue-haired young man to actually answer his questions. It was too natural to invite San to stay for dinner, though he had to frown quite a lot to get past San's attempt to insist on making the meal entirely himself. He enjoyed cooking and San proved to be an ideal kitchen assistant.

Isshi had intended to send San home after dinner, but then there had been dishes to wash and then somehow San had talked him into letting him draw him a bath. Which had lead to San washing his back ... and then to San washing his hair while the rest of him soaked in the master bath's tub. Those hands in his hair were even more relaxing than the warm water of the bath, which was, Isshi told himself, the only reason why he had agreed to a massage. Long fingers expertly poked and prodded at his back, finding all too many knots of tension.

And then San found one that was more than just tension. By the time Isshi realized what San had found, it was too late to warn him off. The pain exploded through him as the emotions, the raw hurt that had been bound into those knotted muscles, was unleashed. Biting his lip, he pressed his face into his pillow and prayed that San wouldn't notice. As if the gods would be that kind to him now.

“Isshi-senpai?” San asked softly, fingers brushing along his spine. But there was no way he could speak, not with that pain fresh in his mind. Too bad his shivering meant there was no way he could just pretend to have been lulled to sleep by the massage. Still, his lack of response didn't seem to discourage or even overly worry San, those fingers still skimming over bared skin.

“It's all right, Isshi-senpai,” the blue-haired guitarist murmured, brushing lips against the back of his neck. It wasn't, not at all, but he couldn't say the words. And for all that he was trying to hide his tears, a part of him was still grateful when San stayed, long form stretching out alongside his own and offering the silent comfort of his nonjudgmental presence. Selfish as it was, it felt good to have another in his bed again.