Getting a nice costume was the hardest part. Scaling the wall was easy, but getting something that looked rich on Kakyoin’s budget was hard as hell. The wall was much easier - 8 feet tall at its lowest point and vines covering the side, Kakyoin had a comparatively less stressful time getting over the wall then he did getting his suit. The vines were tight in his hands, sturdy from good watering and getting good sun, good air. The wall under his feet was sturdy, never having been broken down by constant abuse. The drop was easy too. Soft ground, constantly turned for a new rose bush maybe. That was Kakyoin’s target.
He heard the royal family was putting new roses in their garden, roses that were rare and from a far away land. Somewhere that the royal family or any of their associates stepping foot in would be called an act of war. Kakyoin knows the land because he knows the rose, beautiful blue with ugly thorns that are long and catch dew to look poisonous. They come from the north about 300 to 500 miles away, preferring to grow on steep mountains near, but not next to waterfalls. Kakyoin knows a lot about flowers but don’t care for the royal families who jealously hoard their beauty.
The people who own the land where the roses grow wildly had changed recently. Kakyoin doesn’t really care who owns, it because owning land is stupid. You can own a house and you can own where the house is but the earth belongs to the earth. The flowers belong to the earth and right now, clippings from these rumored blue roses belong to Kakyoin.
It’s honestly a win for the royal family. They claimed they got the roses from a refugee who fled with them to remember the beauty of their home. Kakyoin taking a clipping to grow his own is a good cover for them. Kakyoin is the best florist in the city outside of the castle gates, Kakyoin’s mentor works for the royal family to tend the gardens, and would know if anyone keeps the flowers. Kakyoin might not care for the current political affairs of royals, but he knows what’s happening on the streets of the country he loves.
Avoiding political disfavor keeps his country out of wars. That’s what Kakyoin tries to tell himself when he justifies stealing the flowers. The honest answer is he loves these blue roses and wants to grow them for himself. He doesn’t planning on selling them but would love to add them to his own garden. They are beautiful. It was worth the pain of getting the costume for the masquerade.
Weeks of trading flowers for the right silks, under the table deals for poisons and the likes for rich fabrics that only royalty can afford or is allowed to wear. Then a week of plucking wild flowers to line a tailor's pockets, giving him something to take home to show his wife he still cares.The tailor did his job too. Turned the stolen silk into something that fits Kakyoin charmingly. The suit is green and tight. The flair of the waist makes him looks slight, but the strong cut at the shoulders make him look powerful. The pants, black, make his ass look full and brings out the strength in his legs while making them look long.
Kakyoin was even gifted with a red mask by the tailor. A rejected design, Kakyoin was told. It doesn’t matter. The mask ties back beautifully with ribbon and makes Kakyoin’s lips pop. It’s the only identifiable part of Kakyoin. Even his long bangs are swept away and pinned back because of the fanning pattern of Kakyoin’s mask. The sides sweep out from the center like features. The slits for Kakyoin’s eyes are designed to look like natural parts in the feathers.
It’s a shame Kakyoin isn’t royalty. He looks damned hot.
The work that was put into Kakyoin’s masquerade costume was lengthy and by god Kakyoin is going to go to the ballroom and be ogled at by stuck up assholes. Not like Kakyoin gives a fuck. The wine is too good to care about the opinions of snotty rich people. It’s so warm and heartening. Kakyoin loves a good glass of wine but this is better than a good glass. This is amazing. Fucking rich people hogging all the good shit.
Kakyoin is going to sit here and get drunk on wine and eat these sweets. Because the wine, the tiny cakes and the cookies are better than any Kakyoin has ever had in his life.
“Enjoying yourself?” Calls a voice behind Kakyoin. He doesn’t even have to turn around to recognize the voice. It’s the crowned prince, Jotaro Kujo. Kakyoin’s own prince. This is his party, one of the many that Kakyoin’s master bitches about because Jotaro can’t find someone to share the throne with. He’s too picky and off putting, Kakyoin’s master says. Kakyoin doesn’t blame him. The worst thing for a garden is people and every princess here must dream of catching the eye of Jotaro bathed in moonlight a field of lilies. That’s why Kakyoin refused to follow his master when he took the position as gardener of the castle. Kakyoin decided to run his shop in the center of town, and continue his legacy that way. Partly out of respect but also because the Kujo family gets on Kakyoin’s fucking nerves.
“No.” Kakyoin turns to face Jotaro. He’s not even wearing a mask. What a douche bag. Can’t even play along with his own stupid party.
Jotaro looks surprised. “Oh?” Kakyoin probably given him the answer he did not expect. By how women are glaring at them, Jotaro was expecting Kakyoin to throw himself at his feet. Adored by all. How nasty. Jotaro probably doesn’t know the word no.
Which is why Kakyoin hates the Kujo family. They do not know what struggle is. They don’t know rejection or fear. The kingdom they rule is peaceful for now, but if something happens, they will be useless. Royals always think their people can starve for a month so their country can know peace. They think they can close their walls and survive a siege but people like Kakyoin who are outside the walls will be killed. But it doesn’t matter to royals because they get to keep their precious land. That’s why Kakyoin can’t stand to listen to what is happening politically anymore. Because expanding borders means dead people.
Dead people that people like Jotaro Kujo would never think about because everyone has thrown themselves at his feet since he was born. “You seems to be enjoying the wine. This is your second glass.”
“The wine doesn’t ask stupid questions.” Kakyoin downs his glass to prove a point. “The third one won’t bother me either.”
“Dance with me.” Jotaro doesn’t really ask it. He probably meant to, but his tone is so flat and forward it’s like a demand.
“Why would I ever do that?” Kakyoin brings a hand up to his mouth to laugh at Jotaro.
“Because if you get too drunk, you will have to leave. Dance with me to pace yourself.”
Everyone is looking at them. Everyone is watching the mysterious man having a conversation with the crowned prince. Everyone here wants to marry Jotaro and right now Kakyoin has his undivided attention. “You won’t leave me alone until I dance with you, will you?”
Kakyoin places his glass down on the table and offers his hand. “Not taking no for an answer is not a flattering quality in a future king.”
Jotaro takes the hand and lays a kiss on Kakyoin’s knuckles. It’s charming but Kakyoin still doesn’t like Jotaro. “My resolve got you to dance with me, didn’t it.” When they are in the center of the ball room, Jotaro leads Kakyoin around in a waltz. He leads, much to Kakyoin’s annoyance. Kakyoin prefers to lead because he prefers his men on their knees. Another thing Kakyoin dislikes about royalty, they expect submission. Oh well, Kakyoin is stealing from Jotaro.
“If you wanted someone to dance with, I’m sure anyone here would be good enough.”
“You’re very smart for someone asking for my hand.”
“Or your own ego. I’m sure they would be a good partner.” Their voices are lowered so only they can hear each other. The other men and women at the ball who dance or keep their backs to the walls are all watching them. Everyone is watching Kakyoin and it makes him want to crawl out of his skin. “I’m not here for you.”
Jotaro lets out another surprised oh.
“Your gardens are much more beautiful and captivating than you. The moonlight plays on the petals softly, the hedges with enough space between them to carry the scent of what you have planted. Everything is green and alive and the places to sit don’t interfere with the natural elegance of the space. It’s captivating and charming.”
“I’ll give your compliments to the gardener.”
“As you should.”
And Jotaro is quiet for a long time after. As they twirl around the ballroom he looks lost in thought. Kakyoin watches him silently. Occasionally Jotaro stares into Kakyoin’s purple eyes, the lack of filter over the eye holes makes them visible at this distance and the other times he watches Kakyoin’s body. One thing is for certain. Jotaro never takes his eyes of him. It makes Kakyoin feel weird. Being watched intently makes Kakyoin feel weird but this is a different weird. Not a good weird or a bad one. It’s just an intense feeling.
After they been dancing for a while, Jotaro been staring at what Kakyoin assumes is his lips, Kakyoin speaks. Jotaro’s eyes shoot up to Kakyoin’s own and stay there. “Why did you bother me in the first place?”
“I thought you looked like a frog.”
Kakyoin is a bit taken aback. Rude? “Thought you could kiss me and turn me into a prince?”
Jotaro’s eyes go back to Kakyoin’s lips. That feeling is back stronger than it has been before.
“I like frogs. When I was younger I use to chase them in the pond.”
“You like frogs?”
“Once cried because I wanted to be a frog instead of king. I was 4.”
Kakyoin removes his hand from Jotaro’s shoulder (which is wide and stiff under his hand. God, Kakyoin would love to have Jotaro on his knees, his face against Kakyoin’s thigh, begging for more) to cover his mouth so he can laugh. “That’s so cute, Jotaro. So you still want to be a frog?”
He opens his mouth to say something, closes it and replies with, “I would rather be a fish,” instead.
“Oh, so my lord is cold blooded.”
The music slows down and Jotaro brings Kakyoin in closer to himself and they slow to match the tempo. Kakyoin can almost rest his head on Jotaro’s shoulder. Kakyoin can feel the huff that reverberates in Jotaro’s chest at Kakyoin’s comment. “What's your name?”
Kakyoin thinks for a second. He isn’t of nobility and if that’s found out, he will be thrown into the dungeons. Kakyoin searches his brain for a name he can use. “Tenmei.” He settles on. It’s a name that his parents wanted for him but decided against. Noriaki fit the currently lifestyle of their new home here in the Kujo’s kingdom. But for this game he plays with Jotaro the name from his homeland will do.
Jotaro noticed the delay, the lack of last name, title of nobility and land Kakyoin hails from. It’s more than a little distinct. “That’s not your given name, is it?”
“It’s a name I’ll respond to.”
“Respond too?” Jotaro pieces together what other things a fake name can imply. “If I ask for Tenmei I don’t know if I’ll get you. How would I find you again?”
“Spend the night with me instead.” Honestly, Kakyoin doesn’t plan on being found after tonight. He is going to grab the flowers stashed in the gardens and leave. Fuck Jotaro. “That starts with letting me get another glass of wine.”
Jotaro looks disappointed but accepts. He stops dancing and leads Kakyoin to a table with wine. Kakyoin’s hand presented to all in the ballroom to see how Kakyoin belongs to him or something. Kakyoin never got this part. With his master and the other florists who were taught with Kakyoin, sometimes they would practice dancing. His master would always tell that a ball is to present. They aren’t for fun. They are an important political move. Kakyoin has always hated it. Political moves end with common people like Kakyoin being hurt, starved and murdered.
But Jotaro leading Kakyoin away from the center of the ballroom is nice. Kakyoin likes the attention the others are giving him. Young princesses, older dukes, Women with children they would like crowned heir and those who simply want the love of their beloved prince Jotaro Kujo. Bitches. Only Kakyoin has it and he works himself to the bone in soil all day, something they think below them.
Oh, Kakyoin knows he shouldn’t be petty but it just feels so good to be on top.
Only when they reach the table does Jotaro let go of his hand, letting Kakyoin pick up a wine glass so he can enjoy the joy of this drink again. Flowers might not be the only thing Kakyoin steals from Jotaro tonight.
“Jotaro, you should drink with me. The wine is so rich.” Kakyoin grabs a glass for Jotaro to enjoy too. He pushes it in Jotaro’s hand, not taking no for an answer. Jotaro accepts the wine and downs most of it in a single gulp. Honestly, what a brute. Not even going to savor such a delightful treat.
“Tenmei,” Jotaro tries again, “Your wig is beautiful. Is it silk?”
“No, my hair is just this shade of red.” Jotaro looks surprised. He looks like he’s been thinking about it for a long time, Kakyoin doesn’t blame him. Red hair this vivid isn’t common this far east. Refuges from Kakyoin’s home never made it this far west. Kakyoin’s parents didn’t stop travelling west from war when it ransacked their home. They kept west until Kakyoin’s mother became pregnant with him. The land ruled by the Kujos was as safe as they were going to be from war and holy purgings. That’s until the Kujos decide to do some stupid shit too. Then Kakyoin will just take all the money he has saved and move west. “Most of my country folk have the same hair color, from the rich to the poor.”
Jotaro also looks like he wants more then anything to touch Kakyoin’s hair.
“Where is that?”
“A very far ways east. I fear I will never be able to return to my homeland. It’s a shame. My mother always told me our hair matches the bloom of lunar flowers that can only grow there.”
“You love flowers,” Jotaro has tried and failed to get closer to Kakyoin without him noticing. Still, even knowing, Jotaro has crawled his way into his own personal space and Kakyoin let it happen. What is he going to do, shove Jotaro to the ground and pour wine on him? “What do you like about them?”
That isn’t a bad idea, honestly.
“They smell good.” Kakyoin answers honestly. “Why are you asking me so many questions? It’s not polite to be prying, Jotaro.”
“You call me Jotaro.”
“It’s your name, is it not? I don’t see a mask on you to make me think you are someone else.”
“I’m only ever addressed as Your Highness or My Lord. No one calls me by my name and never my first name.”
“Oh,” Kakyoin feigned being shocked and apologetic, “My lord, I apologize for my brutish nature! Let me suck your dick next time. I’ll make sure to choke on your cum while you choke on your ego.”
Jotaro chokes on his wine instead. It sputters out his mouth and onto his hand and wine glass. God, what a look! Everyone is looking at him, judging him for not being prim and proper and the middle of being an elite of society. He must be so embarrassed, and he’ll probably scream at Kakyoin for making him look like a fool in front of all the other social elites. It’s worth whatever backhand Jotaro will give him.
Jotaro wipes the wine off his chin with the back of his hand, put his wine glass on the table for droplets to ruin his table cloth, and shakes his hand free of all the excess wine he can. It’s crude and very unprincely and not really was Kakyoin expected. There is ignoring the teaching of the upper echelon because you think yourself better and then there is this. Just straight up not giving a shit. None of the other nobility seem to even pay Jotaro mind. How common is this? Obviously they wouldn’t speak ill of their future king but they seem use to this behaviour.
Jotaro clears his throat, making sure to get out all of the wine. “I just meant you are bold.”
“I’m very bold.”
“I can see that.” Across Jotaro’s ever stoic face is a blush betrays his thoughts. He is thinking about Kakyoin’s lips on him. How cute. “I was just going to ask if familiarity is common from where you are from.”
“No, I just don’t care about your opinion, Jotaro.” Kakyoin bites the name out too. He wants to see Jotaro snap like the disgusting elite he is. Down to their bone, all rich people like Jotaro are foul. Kakyoin knows it. They only live to protect themselves and their disgusting honor. People like Jotaro don’t care about people like Kakyoin.
“...and rudeness.” Jotaro, however, doesn’t look like he is going to hang Kakyoin for his actions. He looks starstruck if anything. That feeling is back. The one that was suffocating when they were dancing. It makes Kakyoin feel light headed. Makes Kakyoin’s stomach heavy and light at the same time. Makes Kakyoin heart pound and his breath come short.
“You can always lock me in the dungeons for this disgrace.” Is Kakyoin’s reply.
Jotaro is practically on top of Kakyoin. He has to think for a long while to come up with a retort. Kakyoin pretends it’s because he’s not good at them and not because Jotaro is distracted by the way the light plays with Kakyoin’s eyes. “I don’t know which family to send word too.”
Kakyoin has to turn away before he does something he regrets. Jotaro’s intense gaze is too much for Kakyoin. “Oh, and if you knew which family I hail from?” This feeling Jotaro gives him is eating him alive. Still, it’s a dangerous feeling. Jotaro is reacting to Kakyoin like he’s a noble. Who knows what Jotaro would do if he knew Kakyoin was a commoner.
Probably kill Kakyoin for his rudeness. (A small part of Kakyoin’s brain says Jotaro would kill him for playing with his heart.)
“I would ask for their son’s hand.”
“Ask me for another dance first.”
This is how they spend their night. Jotaro takes Kakyoin around the ballroom. Jotaro holds Kakyoin close and Kakyoin tries to keep his head above water. Jotaro is, despite being an uncaring aristocrat, charming. Kakyoin feels like he’s falling under a spell. It takes time but Kakyoin eventually figures out the feeling Jotaro give him. It’s love. Kakyoin can physically feel himself fall in love with Jotaro. He doesn’t mean to.
They talk too. Kakyoin has to admit Jotaro is one of the hottest piece of ass he has seen in a long while, but he had to admit he’s interesting too. As they dance, they confess small things about each other and eventually make it a game. Jotaro asks a question for Kakyoin. Kakyoin asks one for Jotaro.
“What’s your favorite color, Jojo?” Kakyoin asks in the middle of their game. Kakyoin has learned a lot of things about Jotaro like why his knuckles are bruised (during training, he fought with an unruly knight), that Jotaro has never actually been outside of his own castle’s gates, that Jotaro watches his people walk the streets past the castle walls in the city that envelops his castle. Jotaro, after getting too many dodged and weak answers to who Kakyoin is, asks other things. He learns Kakyoin loves cherries and other tart fruits, that Kakyoin thinks that dogs are simply the best, and that Kakyoin as a small child use to run into meadows and spend whole days there under the sun.
“Jotaro Kujo. Jojo. It’s a good name for you. Flows better than Your Royal Highness.”
Jotaro is still thinking about it when he mutters a reply. His face may be stoic but Kakyoin knows how to read people. “Anything transparent,” is his answer. Jesus christ, this boy is lucky he’s cute. “... Why the pet name?”
“Nickname. We aren’t dating, Jojo.” Kakyoin pulls the last word out. Teasing his crowned prince. “And I’m considering that your question. It’s because it matches you.”
“It just does.”
“You’re just Jojo.”
“Jojo,” Jotaro tried on his lips, “And you would be?”
“Christ, Jotaro, do you not know how nicknames work?”
Jotaro twirls Kakyoin but never answers. Christ, he doesn’t. Oh, Jotaro is very cute.
He is making Kakyoin’s heart melt. Kakyoin tries to convince himself because Jotaro falls into the lovable brute category but he's more then that. Jotaro is straightforward and charming in his own way. He’s honest and caring and never once does he not give Kakyoin the attention he wants. It’s breaking Kakyoin down. How perfect Jotaro is breaking down Kakyoin’s defenses. If he keeps this up he will ask for Kakyoin’s hand and Kakyoin is going to forget about his life he loves and his ideals he protects and say yes. Because lifestyles and ideologies aren’t warm under your fingertips and pull you closer while they are confused on what nicknames are.
Their next question is one Kakyoin gets to decide. Jotaro wasted his on Jojo. “I’m willing to bet you don’t like people treating you differently because you’re their prince.” Jotaro hums in hums in agreement after thinking about it for a second. Not the whole answer but close enough. “Then why don’t you wear a mask?”
“It’s not only being their prince. To half the people here they want me for my body. The other half only want to be annoying or something at me.” Kakyoin snickers. “I’m not hiding myself to find someone who loves me.”
“We think differently then.”
“That implies you love me back.”
“Oh,” Kakyoin feigns surprise. “You finally made a good retort.”
“Please, Tenmei, don’t dodge the question. Do you love me back? Is this real or am I imagining what’s between us?”
“I…” And what is Kakyoin to say? Of course he wants to say yes. Of course he wants to give Jotaro his heart and soul and his entire life. He wants to devote himself to Jotaro and live every day basking in all the love Jotaro would return. And as much as Kakyoin wants to take off his mask, to kiss Jotaro and take him to a bedroom to elope and claim the prince as his own, Kakyoin can’t. Jotaro, no matter how charming and lovely he may be, is an elite and doesn’t care for people like Kakyoin. He definitely cares for Kakyoin but not for those in Kakyoin’s position. Kakyoin can’t give up who is is and pretend to be an uncaring noble just for Jotaro.
And there is the chance Jotaro might not even want him if he knows Kakyoin isn’t a noble like him. He may kill Kakyoin for breaking his heart. He may force Kakyoin to stay locked in his chambers for pleasure after his kingly duties to his country and his wife are done. Jotaro is such an unpredictable element when it comes to Kakyoin’s true identity and as much as it hurts, Kakyoin simply can’t take his mask off.
Kakyoin tries again. “Take me to the gardens. I want to see it one last time.”
“You can see them as much as you like if you marry me.” But it’s too late. Kakyoin has already broken away from their dance and is making his way to the entrance to the gardens. Jotaro follows shortly behind. He makes his way into the bench, just around the corner where he left the clipping of the blue roses, and waits for Jotaro to join him.
It takes Jotaro maybe a minute to catch up. He was probably slowed down by attention of his adoring audience. “You said one last time. Are you not planning on returning?”
“Today was a special treat. I’m afraid I can’t afford to do it again.”
Jotaro can’t hide the heartbreak from his voice. From his face. Jotaro’s face, typically flat and expressionless, is morphed in pain. He looks like he’s been punched. “Please, Tenmei.”
“I had to go through great lengths to come tonight. I didn’t even plan to stay as long as I did. I’m afraid I have to leave you soon, Jojo.” It’s true. The time to take masks off is coming soon.The window of time for Kakyoin to escape the palace is coming soon. It’s hard to avoid nightly guard patrols and midnight is Kakyoin’s only chance. He has to leave. Kakyoin tells himself this over and over like it will be any easier.
“Then stay. Please.”
“I…” Oh, Kakyoin wants to. He feels his resolve slipping. “Jotaro, please, I don’t want to leave you but I have to.”
“Then let me look at your face.”
Kakyoin’s voice breaks while he speaks. “I’m sorry.” Because he means it. He has to leave Jotaro. He can’t have loose ends like Jotaro knowing who he is. Loose ends… Like the hole that is going to be left in their hearts isn’t a loose end.
As if on cue, the music stops. Distantly, a voice speaks for everyone to take their masks off. This is the time. Kakyoin’s window to leave has opened. If he is ever going to go back to his life, he has to leave now. Kakyoin gets up from the bench and makes his way to where the blue rose clippings are left. Silently, Kakyoin wishes he could wish for just getting the blue roses. He wishes he could regret meeting Jotaro and regret falling in love like this. It would make leaving and healing easier.
Jotaro follows. "So I'm never going to see you again, Tenmei. Am I?"
“Please, Jojo, please don’t make this harder.” Kakyoin begs. He’s not one to beg but Jotaro just brings out a whole new side of him, he guesses.
"Please, marry me."
"You don't know what I look like."
Jotaro takes the steps to place himself behind Kakyoin, wrapping his arms around him. "I don't care."
"I could be anyone."
"I don't care."
"I'm not even supposed to be here."
"I don't care."
"What did I say about not taking no for an answer? It’s not becoming of a future king, Jojo." Kakyoin feels like he's going to cry. Honestly, he would love to stay with Jotaro, but he can't. He's a commoner and taking the risk that Jotaro could still want him if he found out would cost Kakyoin his flowers. It's a big leap and right now, in the heat of things, Kakyoin can't make that decision. Kakyoin can’t leave everything behind, his life and his person, on the chance Jotaro would give it to him. Because that’s the difference between Jotaro and Kakyoin. Jotaro, worse case scenario, would lose nothing. Kakyoin, in almost every scenario except best case loses everything. Jotaro doesn’t even understand. He doesn’t understand what power he holds over Kakyoin even now.
"I don't care. I don’t want to be king unless you’re by my side. You've stolen my heart."
Kakyoin removes Jotaro’s arms from around him. It hurts because as little as Jotaro wants to, he lets it happen. Kakyoin doesn't want that right now. He wants Jotaro to force him inside so Kakyoin can't make the wrong choice. But again, there lies the problem of why Kakyoin could never be with someone like Jotaro. Force. "Then I'll keep it safe."
"I won't stop looking for you."
"You don't know my name." Kakyoin is trying to walk away. Removing Jotaro’s arms from around him is disappointingly more easy then Kakyoin expected. He needs to go and Jotaro is, despite his own pleas, letting it happen.
"I don't care."
"You don't know where I'm from."
"I don't care."
"You don't know what I look like."
"I don't care."
Fuck. Kakyoin can't do this. He turns and comes back into Jotaro’s arms, leans up and kisses him. It's awkward because of the mask, but Jotaro holds Kakyoin's face and kisses him with everything he's made of.
With everything he can love with and every plea he can muster to make Kakyoin stay.
When Kakyoin pulls away, he doesn't move far. He rests his head against Jotaro’s shoulders and whispers, "Promise you will find me."
His hands grip Jotaro’s jacket, wrinkling it. "Promise me you will find me Jotaro. Promise me you will find me and ask me to marry you again. I will say yes. Find me again and I'll never leave you."
And with that, Kakyoin pulls himself away and disappears through the garden, climbing over the wall again and leaving to go home. It’s hard navigating the streets of his city at night. The path of the streets will forever be in Kakyoin’s mind but this isn’t being lost. He feels weak. The light, giddy feeling he had earlier and now crushing and damning and it makes even standing hard.
Because Jotaro’s heart isn't the only one that was stolen.