Rei felt his consciousness slowly return, as if rising back to the surface from deep beneath the water, and his eyes popped open as he woke. “………”
He experienced a sudden flash of awareness—but despite finally being wake, he continued to lay on his back, staring blankly ahead at the darkness before him with no thoughts clouding his mind.
He hadn’t the faintest clue where he was, save that it was dark all around, making it difficult to discern his surroundings. But his eyes slowly adjusted to the low light until he could faintly make out a ceiling—one, he realized, that was not quite the ceiling he was familiar with.
His body felt heavy—and strangely enough, a bit refreshed as well. ’What…happened to me?’ And where was he? But just as he was wondering these things—
“Moooorning~! You awake?”
“……?!” With the voice suddenly calling out to him, the lamp on the side table sparked to life, sending Rei whirling around in surprise to face the direction from which the voice had come.
There he saw someone with features remarkably similar to those of Sena Seiya, the man Rei cherished over all others—but a young man, the Sena family’s eldest son, Sena Shougo. Taking in the bright grin Shougo was favoring him with, everything came back to Rei all of a sudden.
The fact that he’d been masturbating on Seiya’s bed, how Shougo had caught him at it, and…how he’d wound up subsequently sleeping with Shougo.
All of the blood fled his face in an instant—what had he done?! Distraught as he might have been to be caught masturbating, he couldn’t imagine how he’d let himself get so carried away as to go all the way like that with Shougo.
He’d ruined everything now. It was over.
He’d dared to lay a hand on Seiya’s—on his employer’s own child. There was no way he would be able to stay in this house any more. Hell, he’d probably be fired for the impropriety as well.
’I won’t…be able to stay by Seiya’s side any more…’ This realization shook him so fiercely that he was less saddened by the news…and more in a state of blank shock.
Perhaps sensing Rei’s distress, Shougo peered down into his face, his own expression curious. “Hey…what’s wrong? You look sad…”
The thoughtless optimism in his voice snapped something inside of Rei. “…How can you ask that?!” He stood angrily from the bed, leveling a sharp glare at Shougo. “Just look at what I’ve done with Seiya-san’s own son… I can’t possibly stay on with SenaPro any longer!”
Shougo cocked his head to the side, clearly confused at Rei’s shout, tinged with what could only be described as sorrow.
“What you’ve done…wait, you mean the sex?”
“Of course!” At Shougo’s careless comment, Rei nodded with a bitter expression on his features.
“…But, why? Sex is just a casual form of communication, after all! Like—you know, just a way of greeting someone,” Shougo explained lightly as he dragged himself sleepily from the bed.
’…Just…a greeting…?’ Rei gaped blankly at the unexpected response. He could wrap his mind around the concept of sex as a form of communication—but while he could understand using a kiss as a greeting gesture—for someone to use use sex in that manner…? He wouldn’t say he’d never heard of anyone like that—but at the very least, they weren’t all that common.
“So—I don’t see what there is to worry about!”
“D—Don’t paint me as someone like yourself! Your morals are far too loose!” he snapped unthinkingly at the still-grinning Shougo. When he paused to think logically about the situation, he supposed he should be happy that Shougo wasn’t taking this matter seriously, and yet…
“Huh? But—it didn’t seem like I was the first guy you’d ever been with; you looked like you’d been around the block a few times yourself.”
“That’s…!” Rei’s words caught in his throat at the way Shougo seemed to be almost purposefully pouting here—for Shougo wasn’t incorrect in his assumptions. “Th—that’s merely a product of my misbegotten youth, so—” But he quickly recovered, realizing he was being drawn into following Shougo’s pace in conversation. “Anyway! That’s not who I am anymore! I’ve changed!”
It was true, there had been a time when he’d slept around, but he’d left that person behind long ago—ever since meeting Seiya, ever since coming here…
He wasn’t the same man he had been before. Or at least…he’d thought he wasn’t…
“Whaaaat? You’re just gonna let a sexy body like that go to waste? That’s the kind of thing that has you trying to jerk yourself off, because you’re all pent up! And on my dad’s bed of all places.”
Rei fell silent, struck dumb by my dad’s bed as all other words in Shougo’s comment faded away, and his shoulders slumped in defeat. After a few moments’ silence, he spoke again. “…You’re right. This is all my fault.” That’s how it was, when it all came down to it. He had no right to attack Shougo on this point; if he’d been more in control of himself, he could have avoided this whole mess. Besides, this was hardly the first time this had happened. “The fact that I harbor inappropriate feelings for Seiya-san…and that I laid a hand on a minor…is all my fault.” As he spoke, it sounded like he was reminding himself of this very fact.
“…Even though I’m the one who started it?”
Rei shook his head, brushing aside Shougo’s light excuse. “That doesn’t matter! It’s like the driver being at fault when he hits a pedestrian in a traffic accident—the elder partner is the one who deserves all the blame! And on top of that, I did it with another man! There’s no way this will be taken lightly!” His voice rose in tone to an impassioned shout, until the energy fled Rei and his shoulders slumped, his face tilted down.
What was he going to do now? He hadn’t even repaid Seiya a tenth of what he owed him as his savior… But with what had just transpired, he’d have to leave this home having caused the man nothing but trouble. It was beyond pathetic. Everything had been going so well, too…
“Oh, hey!” Rei cast a dangerous glare at Shougo, who’d interrupted his self-loathing with an irritating excited shout—but Shougo didn’t quail under his gaze, merely grinned broadly. “Then all we have to do is keep this a secret! Just between the two of us! Right?”
It was the last thing Rei had expected to hear. “…A secret?” He blinked several times in rapid succession at the words that amounted to no less than a ray of sunshine.
“Sure; a secret.”
“You’ll…keep quiet about this, then? And…about how I feel about Seiya-san…?”
“Yup! I promise!” Shougo responded, utterly open and honest and without a moment’s hesitation, and then thrust his pinky forward. “I’ll pinky swear, even!” The suggestion was so utterly childish that Rei couldn’t help but go along with it, and as he presented his own pinky, Shougo twined them together. “~Making a pinky promise, if you break it you have to drink a thousand needles~ There we go!” At the end of the childish nursery rhyme, Shougo broke the link, and Rei stared down at his finger, allowing a soft sigh of relief to escape.
It had been nothing more than a childish symbol of a promise made, and he had no way of knowing how serious or not Shougo had been in the gesture, but…it seemed he was genuine in his vow to keep quiet on the matter.
’…I get to stay at SenaPro…’ He could still stay with Seiya… The relief that accompanied this realization nearly brought tears to his eyes, until—
“So, let’s do it again!”
“…Huh?” The tears he’d felt rising were immediately banked at Shougo’s words. ‘Again’?
“We’ve done it once, so what’s two or three times matter? I could barely hold myself back seeing how amazing you looked asleep!”
Rei could practically hear the heart mark that ended Shougo’s declaration, and he gaped blankly. Given the context, there was only one thing Shougo could be suggesting they do.
’Why would we do that?!’ But before he could snap as such, he realized something—maybe…he had no right to refuse Shougo on this point. Shougo had been under no obligation to promise Rei he’d keep their secret, as he’d done just now. And from what he’d learned of Shougo so far, he didn’t seem the type who felt like he ought to keep any liaisons he had with men a secret from his parents.
Which meant this was less a secret kept for both their sakes…and more Shougo having the upper hand over Rei in this matter. As he glanced over at Shougo, he took in his expression which said he hadn’t a care in the world, simply smiling broadly at Rei.
“I figured you wouldn’t like it if I just jumped you while you were sleeping, so I held back~”
“………” Rei bit back the urge to snap As well you should!. ’…Guess I’ve got no choice…’
In order to ensure that Shougo kept his mouth shut…it looked like he was going to have to go along with his whims. He released a deep sigh in an attempt to calm himself. “…All right then. But not here.” Even though he knew they were all alone in the house, he couldn’t bear to stay in this married couple’s room any longer.
And that is how this pair began their rather strange relationship.
The next day
“…Ah, guess it’s about time, huh.” He silenced the alarm he’d set (just in case) on his cell phone and closed the textbook in his lap. Today was the day the rest of the Sena family would be returning from their vacation.
Seeing as it had only been the day before when he’d engaged in that sort of activity, he was still quite exhausted both mentally and physically, but more than this, he was worried he wouldn’t be able to entirely hide the fact that something had happened between himself and Shougo. That probably explained why he’d woken earlier than usual this morning as well.
On waking, he’d headed straight to Seiya and Nagisa’s room to change their sheets and then laid out the futons to air, lastly dragging out the vacuum cleaner and giving the whole house a good cleaning in an effort to hide any evidence of their activities. After that, hoping to calm his nerves, he’d settled in to give his undivided attention to his textbook.
Shougo, in contrast, had poked his head out once early in the afternoon, searching for something to eat, before retreating back to his room for a nap. Given that he’d jumped into bed with Rei so soon after such a long journey, without pausing to rest, he supposed the exhaustion was simply finally catching up. For his part, Rei was still feeling to awkward to be around Shougo, so he actually found Shougo sleeping the day away something to be thankful for.
After finishing preparations, he headed for the front entrance—before wondering if he ought to let Shougo know where he was going. In the end, though, he told himself it would be best to just let him rest, and he exited the house and piled into the car, headed for Haneda Airport to pick up the Sena family.
It would be his first time seeing them in a while—Seiya, Nagisa, and Izumi as well. When he stopped to consider the trio, he found strange feelings bubbling up. He naturally felt worried about what might happen if they found out about him and Shougo, and of course the ever-present weighty, painful feelings of his unrequited love for Seiya remained, but along with these emotions was a sense of relief at finally being reunited with them, his heart warming…
It was something completely different from what he’d felt even with his biological mother. Just as strongly as he longed to stay by Seiya’s side, he loved this family, reminding him of just how much he cherished this place he’d found with them.
’I don’t want to leave the Senas…’
And gripping the steering wheel tightly, he headed for the airport. On arriving, he consulted a building map—as he wasn’t quite familiar with the airport just yet—before heading to the arrivals lobby on the first floor. He still had a bit of time left before the family’s flight was set to arrive, so he bought a drink and settled down on a bench to kill some time. As the arrival time approached, he glanced up at the arrivals board before heading for the exit he thought the trio would use.
“Rei!!” At length, an endearing voice that could have belonged to a boy soprano piped up, calling his name. As Rei turned to face the voice, Izumi darted forward, heading his way. Well aware of how clumsy Izumi could be and fearing that he might trip and fall, Rei quickly made his way over of his own accord, scooping Izumi into his arms as the boy launched himself forward.
“Welcome back, Izumi-san.”
“I’m hoooooome~!” Rei smiled fondly at the brilliant grin Izumi flashed him. While the boy could be annoying with how clingy he was at times and drove Rei crazy with his spoiled tantrums, being bodily reminded of how thrilled Izumi was to see him after so long certainly wasn’t bad.
“Hi there, Rei-kun. Anything happen while we were gone?” The one Rei was most happy to see would always be Seiya, and he stood, shaking off the thrill that had run through him at hearing Seiya’s voice for the first time in a while.
“Ah—well, Shougo-san has returned home.”
“Oniichan’s back??” His voice seemed to dance, and as Rei glanced down, he found Izumi flushing happily.
“Indeed he is,” he affirmed with a nod, recalling now that Seiya had mentioned before that Izumi was terribly fond of his older brother.
“Yaaay yaaay!! Rei, let’s hurry home then!!” he urged. He must really have been looking forward to seeing Shougo, and Rei supposed that despite his happy-go-lucky personality, Shougo must be a good big brother to Izumi.
“…Shougo didn’t mention a word about coming home… Good grief, that boy’s as carefree as ever!” Nagisa remarked, throwing Izumi a sidelong glance. Rei supposed it only stood to reason, given that she was an actress, but despite spending her vacation in the southern isles of Japan, she still had pale skin that looked as if she’d never seen the sun.
“Well, Shougo’s a free-spirited boy,” Seiya soothed, reaching an arm around to pat Nagisa’s shoulder. It seemed neither of Shougo’s parents had expected his return either.
“Heeey, c’mon, Rei! Let’s gooo!”
Rei snapped back to his sense as Izumi tugged on his wrist. “Ah, yes of course.”
“Right—shall we head out?” Rei ducked a nod at Seiya’s suggestion, and with his hand still linked with Izumi’s, they made their way to the parking garage.
“When did Oniichan get back?”
“How did he seem?”
At Seiya’s question, Rei groped for a response “Oh, uh…” How had he seemed? How was he supposed to answer that? Discussing what had happened between them was out of the question—but just as taboo was mentioning that he ‘d seemed like a flighty, devil-may-care, cocky twit.
“Did he seem like he was doing well? Though knowing him, I’m sure he is.” Rei could only nod in affirmation, grateful for the lifesaver Nagisa had just unwittingly thrown him.
“Ah—yes, yes he seemed well. Though he was still asleep when I left the house earlier.”
“I see.” Nagisa nodded uncommittally, but her expression betrayed a bit of relief, and for a moment, she seemed less confident actress and more worried mother. She may have expected him to be just fine, as she’d claimed, but it was clear she’d still been at least a little concerned.
These thoughts drew Rei’s attention back to Shougo, and he swallowed a sigh. ’I wonder if he’s really intending on keeping our secret…’ And with the same unease festering in his chest as when he’d driven here, he climbed into the cab of the car.
The moment they pulled into the drive, Izumi began wiggling in his seat, and as soon as Rei opened his door, he shot from the car, headed straight for the living room.
At this cry, a sound of welcome akin to a screech sounded from within—it seemed Shougo was already in the living room. As Rei entered the living room behind Seiya and Nagisa, he found Izumi clutching Shougo in a tight hug.
“Izumi! How’ve you been?? Still as much a cutie-patootie as ever!” He returned Izumi’s hug tightly, sparing no expense in his fawning as he broke into a wide grin. Rei could do nothing more but stand there and gape in shock as the pair peppered each other’s cheeks with a hail of kisses and nuzzles.
’Wow…these two have CRAZY brother complexes…’
He’d heard that Izumi was fond of Shougo, and the display back at the airport had confirmed his suspicions, but he’d never expected this. Rei had no siblings of his own, but he was quite certain this was not typical fraternal behavior. And yet, Seiya and Nagisa seemed more than used to this sight.
“What brought you back home all of a sudden?” Nagisa prodded, seemingly unaffected by the display.
“Well, I’m on summer break right now, and a bunch of my friends went country-hopping, so I thought it was time I dropped by again!” Shougo replied with an easy smile, settling Izumi onto his lap.
Nagisa huffed a deep sigh at his cavalier response. “You really ought to let us know when you’re coming home!” She then leveled a glare at Shougo. “You never contact us anymore while you’re over there! At least call or drop a text message now and then!”
“C’mon, lack of any letters just means I’m doing great!” Shougo didn’t seem all that cowed by Nagisa’s anger; in fact, Izumi, still seated on his lap, seemed more on the verge of tears from the exchange.
“I’m sorry, Rei-kun.”
“Eh…?” Rei blinked several times at Seiya’s comment, having been distracted by the pair’s argument.
“Must have given you a start, having Shougo appear all of a sudden.”
“Oh—no, that’s…It’s quite all right.” His voice sounded shrill with nerves as his heart leaped in his chest. ’Noooo no no, this isn’t good. Shougo’s doing a great job with playing it cool, so what good will it do me to screw this up now?’ he reminded himself firmly, then forced his strained features into a smile.
“Thanks for watching the house. The rooms look spotless.” With that, he favored Rei with a pat on the head.
“Oh—it was nothing at all…” But his cheeks relaxed at this first brush of contact in so long. In truth, he’d mostly only cleaned the rooms in an effort to cover up any evidence of what he’d done and as an act of atonement, but it still felt wonderful being praised by Seiya like this, and before he realized it, he was no longer wearing the forced grin from before, but a true, full-faced smile.
He felt someone watching him, a gaze falling heavy over him—and turned to face the direction it was coming from. But all he saw was the living room, the same as it had ever been, with Nagisa still griping at Shougo, who was skillfully sidestepping her lectures, and Izumi—who’d been watching Nagisa with a tearful expression—still clinging tightly to Shougo with his back turned to everyone.
“…Just my imagination?”
“Oh—nothing, it’s nothing. Umm…shouldn’t we…stop them?” He jerked his head to indicate the mother-son pair.
“Ah, that’s just their way of communicating,” Seiya responded with a fond grin, and Rei nodded, still not entirely convinced but assuming this was just how things worked between them.
Nagisa’s lecturing continued on from there until Izumi finally broke into tears.
I wasn’t sure about how this would go at first, but…
Dinnertime this evening was fairly normal. The only major difference tonight was the fact that Izumi seemed to be in low spirits, his eyes puffy and red from crying—the reason for which was that he’d just learned that Shougo would be going back to school the next day.
It had been nearly a week since Shougo had come home, and while Rei had initially been on pins and needles, anxious that maybe tonight Shougo would come to him, intent on ‘collecting’, it seemed Shougo had plenty of friends around to keep himself occupied and would head out nearly every afternoon, hardly interacting with Rei at all.
Come evening, he could be found playing with Izumi and had even taken it upon himself to sleep with the boy, on top of it all. It almost seemed as if the whole affair would end without issue, and while he felt pity for Izumi, losing his brother again, he wouldn’t deny feeling relieved.
“So, have you decided what you want to do with your future yet, Shougo?” Seiya asked as the TV program he’d turned on (but not really bothered to watch) went to commercial.
Shougo paused with chopsticks in hand and cocked his head to the side in thought. “Mmm, not yet really. I’m at least gonna finish college over there, I think… I can probably skip a few grades and graduate early, that way.”
Rei hadn’t been paying much attention to the conversation—but his eyes flared wide with shock at the words skip a few grades. He wondered if he’d heard correctly, but it was hardly his place to butt into the conversation.
While he knew that some overseas institutions allowed such things as skipping grades, Rei was quite sure it was only allowed for students who’d demonstrated particular excellence…
Seiya sighed softly. “I see… So then I guess I’m right in assuming you still have no plans to enter the entertainment industry?”
“Nope; definitely not,” Shougo responded with a curt nod—an answer which came as quite a surprise to Rei. He didn’t want to offer the guy any undue praise, but anyone could see that Shougo’s outward appearance and voice were quite something. He had an aura about him that was even more ‘celebrity’ than some of the young entertainers gracing the television screen these days. There was no getting around admitting that this was what you could expect from the offspring of Seiya and Nagisa.
As such, Rei had been certain that, after graduation, Shougo would become an entertainer… But it seemed he was the only one shocked by this revelation, as Seiya donned a bitter smile and Nagisa huffed her displeasure next to him.
“I see…” His earlier words of I guess I’m right in assuming had been rather telling; they’d obviously had this conversation before. “Well, I certainly hope you find your dream soon.”
Rei found those words of Seiya’s quite impactful. For Rei, who’d wasted his youth with no hopes or dreams, only finding something worth living for after he met Seiya—to work for Seiya by his side—it felt…strange, learning that Seiya’s own son had no such dream of his own.
Then, after dinner, Nagisa headed for her bathroom to start her evening ablutions in preparation for the work she had the next day, and Shougo made an attempt to cheer up the still-sullen Izumi, leaving the living room with him and likely heading to Izumi’s bedroom to turn in.
Rei found himself enjoying a rare after-dinner cup of tea alone with Seiya—their first in a while—and his heart danced with both nerves and joy at the opportunity. But in contrast to Rei’s mood, Seiya seemed a bit down.
“Um, so…are you worried? About Shougo-san?” Shougo had a bad habit of forgetting to contact his family for long stretches at a time, so it stood to reason that Seiya might feel uneasy to see Shougo head back abroad for school.
“Hmm? Oh, well…” He allowed a wry smile. “He’s a capable young man.” Many might have taken the comment as nothing more than a father praising his son, but Rei didn’t miss the strangely troubled expression that passed over Seiya’s features. Unsure of how he ought to respond, Rei instead chose to remain silent, waiting for Seiya to continue. “Whether it’s in his studies or sports—he’s the type of boy who’s able to handle anything reasonably well with only the slightest bit of effort. But that in turn…makes it hard for him to find something worth really trying for, it seems.”
— I certainly hope you find your dream soon.
The words Seiya had spoken over dinner bubbled up again in the back of Rei’s mind.
“He’s a fantastic singer, too. I’d be thrilled if he wanted to go professional, but…it seems he doesn’t want to follow in his father’s footsteps.” Here, he smiled bitterly again, apparently having accepted that he had no choice in the matter. “Though I guess it’s all a matter of feelings; if there’s something else he truly wants to do other than music, then I wish him all the best of luck. I’m sure he’ll succeed in whatever he sets his mind to… I guess that makes me sound like a doting father, huh?”
“Oh—no, not at all…” Rei frantically shook his head.
“Thanks—well, I’m going to head on up to bed. And—would you mind taking Shougo back to Narita tomorrow?”
“Ah—yes, of course. …Good night.” He watched Seiya exit the leaving room before releasing a soft sigh to himself. “…So the guy’s a genius, huh…” If what Seiya had said was true…well, of course it had been true; this was Seiya, after all. Which meant Shougo hadn’t been joking in his suggestion of skipping grades. Rei hadn’t been expecting that at all, given how flighty Shougo had been in his manner of speaking.
What must it feel like…to be capable of everything—but to have no interest in anything? He couldn’t wrap his mind around it, given that he’d had nothing himself, unable to do anything.
Still, having enviable talent and living in the lap of luxury with no financial troubles whatsoever—with the only problem being a lack of choice? There were worse ways to live.
Rei woke with a start at the sound of his door opening in the middle of the night, and he groped along the sideboard to turn his lamp on.
“Since it’s my last night here…I decided to drop by!”
Rei could only sigh with defeat at Shougo’s proclamation, devoid of even a hint of remorse. He was hardly here to just ‘drop by’, and hearing such a turn of phrase delivered by not a cute girl but a beautiful man such as Shougo left Rei feeling rather unsettled.
“…Everyone’s here right now; we can’t.” There was no way he wouldn’t be able to tell what Shougo had come here for, and he leveled a harsh glare at Shougo to press home the point.
“Sure we can, so long as you don’t make any sound! Don’t worry—I made sure everyone else was asleep.”
“That’s not the issue!”
“But I’ve done a good job keeping our secret! C’mon~! Don’t I deserve at least a little reward?”
“……!” Rei bit back a response, unable to speak up in the face of the word secret. As Shougo professed, he had indeed played his part well over the past few days, until Rei could almost believe that nothing had happened between them. He’d been perfect, more than good enough to make a career as an actor.
But then, Shougo had never had anything to lose from making the promise in the first place. If Rei refused him now…
“And if you think you won’t be able to control your voice, then all we have to do is stop it this!” Lost in his thoughts, Rei now glanced at the towel Shougo held out for him, eyes goggling.
“You—wait, don’t tell me you plan to gag me?”
“Sure do! This way you won’t have to worry~” Seeing Shougo grinning merrily at the prospect made Rei feel all the more foolish for worrying so seriously over the matter.
’Just what kind of kinks does this guy have?!’ he wanted to snap, but refrained. His room was the only one on the third floor, at least; the only person who ever came up here was the housekeeper in the afternoons to air out his futon. So long as they didn’t make any loud noises, they were unlikely to be heard. Plus, if he could just get through this night, then Shougo would be off overseas again, and peace would return at last. “…All right. Knock yourself out,” he finally allowed with a sighing nod.
“Woohoo~!” And with an excited air that looked like he was this close to whistling happily, Shougo placed the towel over Rei’s mouth, tying it tightly around the back of his head. “Does it hurt?”
“………” Rei shook his head at the question.
“Oh good! Then let’s try this next…”
“Hnn??” Shougo next grabbed his arms, and Rei’s eyes went wide—but before he could react, Shougo had pressed his wrists together and bound them securely before him. “—?!” He couldn’t protest vocally, so he leveled a harsh glare at Shougo, his objections to the situation blatant in his gaze.
“Well just—I figured while I was at it, it might be fun to, y’know, enjoy a little bondage??” Despite the wording, though, Shougo’s expression remained one of innocent interest, like a schoolboy who’d just gotten a new video game.
“………” Baffled by his attitude, Rei just sighed long-sufferingly from beneath the gag, reminded once again that sex really was just a form of casual communication to Shougo.
“All righty then, here we go~” And with that, he pressed Rei down onto his back on the bed, and Rei cocked his head to the side to avoid the discomfort caused by the gag’s knot against his neck. Shougo took his bound wrists and pushed them up over his head. “Y’know…this way, it kinda feels like I’m doing something really evil…” He snickered as he said this, deftly undoing the buttons down the front of Rei’s pajama shirt. Rei wasn’t entirely thrilled with the idea of his hands being bound like this, but sensing that protesting further might actually make Shougo happy, he gave in and fell limp.
“You liked being touched here, didn’t you?” He suckled light and quick on a nipple here, and Rei’s shoulders jolted in response.
Shougo tongued the nipple sharply, and Rei felt the burn of heat slowly flow through his body—which had found no release since that first afternoon with Shougo. He took the now hardened nub in his mouth and rolled it around, lightly grazing his teeth over it as he tugged gently.
“Nn…mm…!!” Rei’s body twisted in response to the overwhelming stimulation.
“Did that hurt?” Rei responded wit a faint nod, little more than a hint of movement from his chin—but Shougo simply crinkled his eyes in mirth, gently laving his tongue over the reddened nipple. “But look how turned on you’re getting… See?” With the fingers of one hand, he teased the nipple—now slick with saliva—and then purposefully moved the knee he’d at one point slipped between Rei’s legs. “You’re already hard as a rock, after all…?”
Rei’s eyes grew wide in shock—but he could feel that his cock had indeed hardened, given how close their bodies were just now, and his cheeks flared with shame.
“Hey—it’s nothing to be embarrassed about? I mean, I’m really happy?”
“Mmf…” Now Shougo pressed a pecking kiss to the other nipple, finishing with a suckle. “Nngh…” In the same moment, he squeezed the first nipple with a tight pinch. “Nn—!” Rei’s body trembled with each wriggling movement of tongue and finger, his legs spasming and heels kicking the mattress as if trying to bodily escape the pleasure. “Nnph…!!”
Shougo favored the hardened nub he’d been pinching with a light swipe of his tongue, and Rei unconsciously brought his thighs up alongside Shougo’s body to pin him between Rei’s legs—sending Shougo glancing up from his chest.
“Y’know, I’ve been wondering…if maybe you can get off just from having your nipples teased…”
“……!” Rei shook his head sharply at Shougo’s curious pondering, as if to say Of course I can’t!
“Hmm, you sure about that? Cause I think maybe you could… Though I dunno that I’ve got the self-control to wait for that tonight—so maybe next time?” Releasing his grip on Rei’s wrists for restraint, he tugged down Rei’s pajama pants and underwear. “Huh? Wow, you’re leaking more than I expected…”
Rei bit down on his lip—just as Shougo had said, the tip of his now-exposed cock was indeed oozing.
“Want me to touch you?”
Rei very nearly shook his head in reflexive response—but on consideration, he gave a reluctant nod. He was in no mood to continue having his nipples teased mercilessly, and this was the best he could do to ensure that this whole mess ended as quickly as possible.
“Then allow me~” With this, he brushed his fingers just along the base.
“Nngh—!” His fingers quickly curled around the shaft in a firm grip, slowly sliding upward toward the tip, and after a few practiced strokes, Rei’s hips began thrusting in time.
“Does that feel good?”
“Mmf…ugh…” He just clenched his eyes shut without reply.
“Well, I guess I can figure that out for myself.”
“Mmm—ngh…!” Rei’s eyes popped open at the sudden, unexpected sensation of something wet on him, and he glanced down just in time to see Shougo take his hardened length into his mouth. With a slick sound, he suckled on the tip, using his lips to keep a tight seal as Rei’s hips trembled beneath him.
He’d never expected Shougo to do something like this—hadn’t he just said before that it was his first time having sex with another man? How could he do something like this without an ounce of hesitation?
“Mmf…hng…—!” Shougo slid his tongue along the tip, probing gently, and the stimulation was more than enough to send Rei, already close to climax, past the breaking point. As he collapsed back to the bed, breath coming out in ragged heaves, Shougo cleanly flipped him over onto his stomach and stuffed a pillow beneath him. He then proceeded to spread apart the cheeks of Rei’s ass as it sat there before him, raised in the air. “Hng—mmf…” While Rei was still struggling to catch his breath from just orgasming, Shougo slid a finger inside.
“Man, you sure are tight… Wait, have you not gotten yourself off since then?”
“Hmmf…ugh…” The fingers wiggled within him, probing deeper—but there was no pain. Far from it, shudders of pleasure shot up his spine with each pass the fingers made over his prostate, and he could feel himself spreading open further.
“Oh—right right, almost forgot…”
“…Nnn? Hn—mm?!” He felt something cool slip between his legs, eyes flaring wide.
“Lotion! I heard it feels better if you use this, so I made sure to get some.” As he scissored his fingers in and out now, a disgusting schlorping sound now joined the fray. With the aid of the lotion now, though, Shougo pressed in more fingers, and Rei’s thighs shuddered violently as he was worked feverishly from the inside.
“Hnnf…mngh—!” But just as he felt himself about to collapse, his thighs no longer able to offer adequate support, Shougo slipped an arm under his hips to keep him up. He felt his body dissolving away beneath the onslaught of pleasure into a mass of liquid, just like the lotion.
“Looks like you’re just about ready now…” he remarked, and he removed his fingers before instantly replacing them with the head of his cock.
Shougo slid in agonizingly slowly, and when he’d finally buried himself to the hilt, draped across Rei’s back, he began to jerk his hips with gentle, probing thrusts.
“Fmm—ungh…” The movements were languid and shallow, but the generous application of lotion produced a lurid cacophony, shameful in its sound.
“It really feels absolutely amazing inside you, Rei…” Rei mentally begged him not to say such things but remained silent, gritting his teeth. But then— “But I bet you’d really like me to hit that spot, huh?”
And with that, he snapped his hips forward sharply. “Hnngh—! Mmn—!!” If he hadn’t been gagged with the towel, Rei would have undoubtedly let loose a loud shout in that moment. Shougo’s thrusts had now shifted from the earlier deep but gentle rocking to long thrusts that pulled his cock nearly all the way out before charging back in, brushing mercilessly over Rei’s prostate. “Nngh—…!” It eventually became too much to bear, and without his cock being so much as poked, Rei found his release for a second time.
“Ssshhhit…your insides…are really moving…” Shougo sounded utterly aroused and astounded, but there was nothing Rei could do about it.
The overwhelming pleasure had deprived him of any control over his body, still on edge and sensitive from just climaxing, and he found himself forgetting that he was supposed to be trying to stay quiet. Granted, most of the sounds had been muffled by the towel, but he couldn’t fight back the moans and whining that had escaped through his nose.
At length, he felt the sensation of Shougo finding his own release within him, and his body shuddered violently in response. As Shougo slowly pulled out, Rei felt the last of his strength leave him, his knees finally giving out, and he fell onto the sheets in slumber…
The following day, as requested by Seiya, Rei drove Shougo to Narita Airport. Given that this was on the heels of their night together the previous evening, it was still rather awkward being around Shougo—but it was far better than being in such a position with Seiya. If Rei had had to be alone with Seiya just now…he probably wouldn’t have been able to event look him in the eye.
Knowing that he’d have a bit of time to himself once he dropped of Shougo, he decided to use that time to get his thoughts in order.
Which reminded him…
Rei glanced over at Shougo walking just diagonally ahead of him as they headed for the escalators that led up to the departure lounge. If he had to put his finger on it…the guy seemed a little off today somehow. He’d shed tears of his own in response to Izumi’s wailing that morning, so perhaps he was just feeling a bit on-edge at leaving Japan again?
“…Though he doesn’t really seem the type, I guess.”
“Hm? What’s that?”
Rei frantically shook his head as Shougo peeked over to look him in the eye. “N—nothing!” It seemed they’d arrived before the elevators without Rei noticing. Now he could finally be relieved of this burden, he remarked to himself mentally—but Shougo wasn’t facing the escalators, having drawn to a stop. “…What?”
Shougo was acting strangely, still peering into his face with no apparently intent to glance away, and Rei bunched his brows together. Shortly, Shougo spoke, “…Hey…smile like you do around my dad.”
“Huh?” Rei blinked several times at the unexpected request. He wanted Rei…to smile? “And why should I do that?” Admittedly, he would have been glad to send Shougo off with a blinding full-faced grin, so thrilled was he to finally be rid of him. But when Shougo asked like that, given everything that had passed between them, it only left Rei wondering Why should I do that for him?
Besides—smile like he did for Seiya? It didn’t make sense. Yes, he loved Seiya, so he probably spent more time smiling around Seiya than he did around anyone else, but he’d never really noticed it.
“You know…I think I still don’t really get what it means to be in love with someone…” Shougo sighed in response to Rei’s question, whose expression now was far from a smile—more of a frown, in fact—and Rei blinked in shock at the ridiculous comment. “I dunno, maybe it’s cause I always start off with the physical stuff? I’ve never felt like I want to have sex with someone or be around them because I love them. I’ve never gotten really serious or obsessive over any one special person, never felt like I’ve gotta have them.”
At Shougo’s confession, Rei couldn’t help recalling the conversation he’d had with Seiya the night before. About how Shougo could do anything—and how that conversely meant that he couldn’t find anything worth putting effort into. He hadn’t been talking just about Shougo’s dreams or goals—but about how he interacted with people, too.
Shougo had talent, money, and a life of luxury. But nothing that he really wanted to do. No one that he really wanted to be with.
…Why was that?
He and Shougo should have logically been in completely opposite positions—and yet he couldn’t help recalling here…how he’d felt when he’d met Seiya that Christmas Eve, how despite finally landing the windfall he’d always hoped to get, he still couldn’t think of anything he wanted.
He’d thought Shougo blessed the night before…but now he wasn’t so sure. All the money in the world didn’t mean a thing if you had nothing that you truly desired. If you didn’t have something you loved doing, or a person you loved being with—then money and good looks and smarts and social standing…lost all worth.
“I’m thinking that…being in love with someone—it’s probably different from how adorable I think Izumi is, huh?”
Maybe it was thoughts like this…that had him thinking that he kind of—just a tiny bit—felt sorry for Shougo.
“…Yeah, it’s different.”
Shougo allowed a bitter smile to cross his lips as Rei nodded, as if he’d expected this response. “You get this…really beautiful smile on your face when you’re around my dad. I guess that shows how much you love him, huh?”
“I’m…afraid I don’t really know, myself.”
“Aww c’mon, no need to be shy about it~” Rei truly hadn’t realized, so he hadn’t been lying or covering anything up, but Shougo hadn’t taken it that way, apparently, and flashed his usual goofy grin once again. “…I dunno, I just thought…it was kind of nice. Anyway, bye!”
“Eh—? Hey, wai—…“ Rei called him back reflexively in response to the unexpected comment, but Shougo had already turned on his heel and mounted the escalator stairs, giving no sign of turning back. “…What the heck was that?” He blinked in confusion for a few moments, standing where he stood. But the moment he could no longer see Shougo, a relieved sigh bubbled up. “Well, whatever!”
All that mattered now was that he would finally have some peace and quiet for a while. From what he’d heard, Shougo had been out of contact for close to a year before coming home out of the blue as he had just now. Which meant he’d have at least another year or so of peaceful days ahead of him. He’d finally be able to get a good night’s rest once more, and with such happy thoughts filling his head, Rei headed home.
However, as if laughing in the face of Rei’s suppositions, for some reason Shougo showed up once more at his parents’ home for the New Year’s holidays that year—and after spending a pleasant break with his parents and hitting up Rei for several rounds of sex, he left again. Granted, while only a few months had passed since his previous visit, it had been the end of the year, and so Rei had supposed that it was hardly unnatural for a son to visit around those holidays, passing Shougo’s homecoming off as nothing more than just that.
Except he came home again for Spring Break.
And again for Summer Break. And then again the following New Year’s.
“Shougo’s been coming home to visit every chance he gets lately, huh…”
“Yup, he even said he’s coming again on his next break!” Izumi pronounced cheerfully to Nagisa, who seemed relieved but still a bit confused by the situation herself. Izumi himself was over the moon with joy that his beloved big brother was coming home so often now. He was often left feeling rather down in the few days following Shougo’s eventual return to England, but it never lasted all that long, and as soon as Shougo showed his face again, he’d be off chattering about what all had happened in his absence.
And of course Nagisa as well as Seiya were thrilled that their son was visiting home so often. However…
Whereas the Sena family was in high spirits about the whole situation—Rei couldn’t seem to stay calm. How could he, after all? He still cared greatly for Seiya, but every time Shougo popped in, they’d slip off for a secret sexual rendezvous… Rei was only going along with everything to ensure that Shougo didn’t spill about their relationship to Seiya—but at the rate things were going, there was no way things weren’t going to come apart at the seams at the worst possible moment now.
While he knew he ought to be thinking of a way out of the situation, though, he reluctantly continued to allow the relationship to continue. Until—
Shougo came home during Spring Break once again. “Good grief—why must you come home every single chance you get? You were perfectly content only coming back once a year before.” He muttered these complaints while unthinkingly helping Shougo strip him.
He understood well enough that he, as a houseguest, had no place complaining while the family were all so happy with the situation—but the lapse in time between New Year’s and Spring Break had felt far too short, and the bitter complaint just leaked out.
“Mm, well—sex with you feels way better than with anyone else, so I just find myself dropping in whenever I find the time!”
Rei felt a wave of exhaustion wash over him at the cheerful proclamation, delivered with a smile. It was times like this that left Rei certain this man never thought anything through. Though, Rei had to admit, sex with Shougo was the best he’d ever had as well…
Not that he planned on ever letting Shougo know that himself.
“…Whatever, let’s just get this over with.”
“There you go again~” Shougo teased, letting a hand slide down to massage Rei’s shoulder as he slowly drew in close, and Rei’s eyes slipped shut as he accepted the kiss, responding to it.
“Mm…” Heat flared up slowly at the touch, and a moan slipped out as they kissed. His tongue entwined eagerly with Shougo’s own as it slid into his mouth. As they exchanged kisses, Shougo’s hand dropped down to further explore Rei’s body, drifting over his most erogenous points, then to the areas teasingly close—until falling further away…
He tweaked Rei’s nipple with one hand while stroking his side with another, sending a shudder of pleasure through Rei’s body. Shougo gently pressed him down onto his back on the bed, breaking the kiss only long enough to strip Rei’s shirt off over his head. As their bare chests brushed together, Shougo nipped lightly at Rei’s earlobe.
“Nngh…” The lips soon descended in a line down his throat, with his hand coming up to palm between Rei’s legs—and then it happened. “—w-wait…”
“Hey—what’s the big idea, all of a sudden…?”
“Just shut up—I heard something.” He thought he’d heard a sound—something not roused by their own actions, and he shoved Shougo up off of himself. He strained to hear over the sounds of his own heart thudding loudly in his chest, and then—
”…-chan…Oniichaaaan…where are you…”
There was no mistaking it—that was Izumi’s voice. Something must have woken him, and seeing that Shougo—who was supposed to be sleeping with him—was not by his side, he’d probably come looking for him. Thankfully, he didn’t hear any other sounds, but if they let him wander about crying as he was, it was only a matter of time before Seiya and Nagisa woke as well.
“Hurry and get dressed and go see to him!” Rei urged, tossing Shougo’s clothes at him. They hadn’t yet managed to divest themselves of anything below the waist, so it didn’t take too long. Shougo must have felt the same sense of urgency as Rei, for he quickly dressed without protest and slipped out of the room.
Rei strained to hear, not daring to move a muscle, until he caught the sounds of Shougo descending the stairs. His heart was thudding so loudly, he was sure that anyone wandering by might be able to hear it and clasped a hand to his chest.
”What’s wrong, Izumi?”
“Oniichaaan! Where’d you go??”
“Sorry! Was just getting some air out on the third-floor balcony!”
Their voices grew fainter and fainter, until at last Rei couldn’t hear them at all. They must have finally retired once again to Izumi’s room, and as a sense of relief dawned, Rei wiped away the sheen of cold sweat from his face, but his heart continued to pound.
The hand he’d clenched to his chest trembled nervously, and he was sure if he looked into a mirror just now, his face would be as pale as if he’d just seen a ghost. He dove under his futon and covered up to his head, curling in on himself into a tight ball.
And as he listened to the sounds of his own labored breathing, he finally made a firm decision.
The next day, he knocked on the door of Shougo’s room. Seiya and Nagisa were both out taking care of their respective work, and Izumi was at school. The housekeeper was gone as well, as after she’d prepared lunch for all but Shougo, she’d headed out to do some shopping for dinner—which meant she wouldn’t be back for another hour at least.
This was the only chance he had to really talk. He’d wanted to wait until the evening, but Shougo generally slept with Izumi, and he absolutely did not want a repeat of the previous night.
“Come in~” At the invitation from inside, Rei took a deep breath and opened the door. “…Huh? Wow, it’s rare for you to come visit me!” He likely had thought Rei the housekeeper, come to collect his laundry, and his eyes were wide with surprise as he sat up from where he lay lounging on his bed—not sleeping, but reading magazines apparently, based on the publications strewn about over his pillow.
Rei swallowed thickly. He knew he’d made his decision, but now that the moment had arrived to say it, he didn’t know how to broach the subject. Until—
“What’s wrong? Oh—you wanna continue what we started last night?” The moment Shougo opened his mouth and delivered the question, all casual and unruffled, Rei felt his will firm, and he stared straight at Shougo.
“…Please don’t make me do this anymore,” he voiced, facing Shougo. “I don’t want to risk what I have here—if anyone found out…my life would be over. Please understand. I’m sure you…have any number of other partners you could turn to, right?”
No…that wasn’t right, and he shook his head after allowing himself to speak too emotionally, lashing out at Shougo. This was his own fault as well. He’d told himself the reason he’d allowed this relationship to continue as long as it had was because he needed insurance to keep Shougo quiet; he was as much at fault for not nipping this in the bud to begin with.
Of course, it hadn’t been an excuse in the beginning—he truly had believed this to be the only way to ensure Shougo wouldn’t talk. But now, after spending as much time with Shougo as he had, he could tell—believed—that Shougo wasn’t the type of person who would callously reveal their relationship or Rei’s feelings for Seiya. Even if Rei hadn’t given in that first time, if he’d pushed Shougo away, he surely wouldn’t have retaliated.
The fact that he’d continued dragging out this relationship, giving in to Shougo’s desire despite understanding that he wouldn’t do anything if Rei refused…was, he supposed, simply because of Rei’s own innate weakness. Living his life clinging to these feelings for Seiya that would never, ever bear fruit had always been so frustrating, and sex with Shougo had truly felt amazing…so he supposed he’d just been putting off the inevitable.
He knew that he should have done something before things escalated to what had happened the night before. Seiya and SenaPro were the most important things in Rei’s life.
“I was wrong—I can’t lose my dream, my life…just for a few hours’ pleasure with you.”
And maybe Shougo understood now…how serious Rei was. “I see… Your dream, huh,” he allowed with a sigh, having kept silent through Rei’s speech, and then nodded shortly. “All right; guess there’s nothing we can really do about it. This only works if we both agree to it, after all.” He slipped off the bed here and strode forward to stand before Rei. “Guess that’s the end of our secret alliance.”
Rei glanced down at the hand Shougo held out for him—switching his glance back and forth between Shougo’s face and hand. Shougo reached forward and took Rei’s hand in his own, squeezing it tightly—and it was only here that Rei realized Shougo was shaking his hand. His palm felt warm, and Rei realized that his own fingers had been frozen with nerves.
Rei returned the firm grip, glancing up at Shougo—realizing for the first time that Shougo was taller than him now, had passed him in height without Rei even realizing it. Quite some time had passed now since they’d first met—and this difference pressed that point home.
“…A ‘secret alliance’? Are you an idiot?” He knew he really ought to be thanking Shougo for agreeing so easily to dissolve their relationship, but he couldn’t help the nasty quip, and Shougo released his grip with a goofy smile.
And so, their relationship ended just as secretly as it had begun, and without even waiting for his Spring Break to end this time, Shougo returned to England.
But ending his relationship with Shougo was not the only thing Rei had decided upon.
“You…want to leave? Are you serious?”
After Shougo had returned to England, Rei waited a bit for Izumi to recover his good spirits before informing Seiya of his intentions to leave the Sena family home and live on his own, announcing his plans after dinner, as the family sat around enjoying a cup of tea.
“Yes. I realize it’s quite rude a request, after I’ve spent all this time in your care, but…” Over the course of his relationship with Shougo, several years had now passed since he’d entered the employ of SenaPro. He’d put nearly his entire salary into savings, so he had quite a nest egg saved up, and it just wasn’t a good idea—for a number of reasons—to live under the same roof as someone he had untoward feelings for. That had been part of what had caused him to take up with Shougo in the first place, after all.
But the one who most objected to his decision turned out to be Izumi. “Rei…you’re gonna leave us?”
“Well, yes, that was my intent—” he began, but before he could finish, Izumi’s eyes welled up with tears, spilling their banks.
“I don’t want you to gooo!!”
“Y—you said y-you would stay here…forever…and ever! You promised…!”
Rei couldn’t help the upwelling of affection he felt at Izumi’s passionate wailing against his leaving.
“My my, Izumi certainly does seem to be fond of you, Rei-kun,” Seiya observed, soothing Izumi. He patted him gently on the head, and at length, Izumi’s crying began to lose power. However… “But I have to agree that I’m going to be sad to see you go as well… Though naturally, it’s hardly my place to keep you from doing so, and I have no intention of it either… But, do you have to leave?” Seiya tried, once more, to prompt Rei to change his mind.
But Rei was resolved to go through with this and gave a small but firm nod. “…I’m sorry.”
“Oh come now, there’s no need to apologize!” Nagisa reassured as Rei bowed his head. “You’re an adult now, so it’s only natural you’d want a bit of space to yourself. I’m sure I’ll be a bit put out not being able to see your face whenever I like, but it’s not as if you’re intending on quitting working with us, right?”
“Oh—no, of course not!” He couldn’t fathom the idea of separating himself from Seiya and SenaPro entirely. Far from it—this move would ensure that he could stay by Seiya’s side from now on. “Naturally, I would love to be able to continue with my work, as usual. That’s why I plan on finding someplace from which I can commute here by foot.”
“Is that so?”
“Yes!” At this response, Seiya nodded as if to say Well in that case…, giving his tacit agreement.
“Rei, you’re gonna come here every day still?”
“Indeed I shall.” And Izumi finally stopped his sniffling, apparently happy with this.
“Yes, I suppose since you’re of an age, it’s important that you have a place to call your own, huh.” And while it honestly hurt a little, having Seiya mistake his reason for putting space between the two of them like that, he had no reason to refute. If this reasoning satisfied Seiya, then so be it. “You said you wanted to be close enough to walk to work—have you already picked out a place?”
“Ah, yes. It’s not decided quite yet, but I’ve got my eye on a place…”
“Got any papers on it?”
“Yes, I’ll fetch them!” He slipped back to his room here, grabbing the info packet and paper showing the apartment’s layout, passing it to Seiya.
“Hmm…this won’t do…”
“Eh…?” Rei blinked widely at the unexpectedly serious comment. “It’s…no good?” It was a 6-mat single-room apartment without a bath, but it would only cost 40,000 yen a month—a steal. It had reminded him of the apartment he’d shared with his mother in the past, so he’d thought it was quite a reasonable place, but…
“All right, that settles it! I won’t stop you from living on your own, but seeing as you’re one of our employees, we’ll make whatever building you decide on into the SenaPro bachelor dorms!”
“E—eh?! B—but you can’t…!”
“If you can’t swallow that, then I’m not letting you leave.” And right after he’d just claimed he wouldn’t stand in Rei’s way… But Rei could hardly complain and was, in the end, forced to accept Seiya’s condition.
To top it all off, the building Seiya signed the contract on mere days later…was newly erected building, with each room fitted with separate baths/toilets, air-conditioning/heating units, and an auto lock system—only a five-minute walk from the Sena family home. With this, Rei was reminded once more that he couldn’t begin to thank Seiya enough.
It was about a week after Golden Week ended, a fine day in May, and Rei was heating water in the new apartment he’d finally started to settle into. He’d thought to take a break after work, and while he’d already had dinner, it was an unshakable habit of his since his life with the Senas to enjoy something warm to drink in the evening. Though lately, he’d been so busy with work, he hadn’t had the time to indulge.
Ever since starting to live on his own, Rei had begun to well and truly sink his teeth into things as the Manager for SenaPro, doing all he could to find Seiya jobs that would help him even just a little bit—jobs that would make SenaPro bigger and better than ever. With this goal in mind, Rei—and SenaPro as well—had begun to move forward bit by bit.
But he still harbored a few small worries—one of which was the fact that there were no clear successors to Seiya and Nagisa showing themselves. And given the pair’s innate talents and luck, Rei’s diligent efforts alone would likely not bear fruit in this respect. Though naturally, he was doing his very best, but still…
And the other worry…was that several benign polyps had been detected in Seiya’s throat recently, which meant his throat wasn’t doing too well. As the surgery to remove them would be performed on a rather delicate part of his body, Seiya himself was hesitating as to whether or not to go through with the surgery.
“Shougo…huh…” Rei murmured to himself with a sigh.
Sena Shougo. It was a name that came saddled with quite a lot of complicated feelings for Rei—and not exactly ones he really wanted to think about. But Seiya had thrown about the name rather often of late, waxing wistful with comments like Sure would be nice if Shougo would join SenaPro…
It probably had to do with the polyp diagnosis, as Seiya must surely have seen Shougo as the ideal candidate to succeed him in heading the company—and Rei couldn’t really blame him. Anyone could see that Shougo clearly had the means to make it in the entertainment industry, after all. Even Rei, who’d been keeping an eye out for any rising stars who might be able to succeed Seiya, could plainly see that the aura Shougo kept about himself far surpassed that of these amateurs.
“But be that as it may…” His relationship with Shougo had ended with him shoving Shougo away. They hadn’t even been in contact since then—there was no way he could ask Shougo to sign with SenaPro. Though if worse came to worse…he probably wouldn’t have the luxury of hesitating on this point.
He sighed again, at a loss as to what to do, and turned off the burner—when the intercom buzzed. Rei cocked his head in confusion; it was past 9 PM, and he certainly wasn’t expecting any visitors. As he approached the video phone, curious, he answered and got the shock of his life, as there reflected on the monitor was Shougo.
He wondered for a moment if he was seeing things—before realizing that no, there was no mistake. Golden Week had long since ended—so what was Shougo doing here? Oh, but—he supposed they didn’t have Golden Week in England in the first place, so that hardly mattered. Which still left the question of why was Shougo here?
“What’s the matter with you? What’re you doing in Japan?”
At his question, Shougo peered into the camera with a gaze that made one wonder if it really was impossible to see through the video screen. ”I had something I absolutely had to talk to you about, so I came back.”
“Talk to me about…?”
”Yeah—so, let me in? I swear I won’t do anything you don’t want me to.”
At this, Rei noted that his manner of speaking seemed much more serious than usual. “…All right.” And trusting that Shougo would keep his word not to do anything Rei didn’t approve, he pressed the button to buzz him inside. After only a moment, the doorbell rang, and Rei opened the door, inviting Shougo inside. “How did you know where I was?”
“You weren’t there when I went to my folks’ place, so I asked Izumi.” He then fell silent, making his usual carefree attitude seem like a dream.
Rei was lost as to how to respond and instead poured two cups of the tea he’d been preparing for himself, settling down before his low table. “Well, at least sit down for now.” Shougo nodded, taking a seat on the rug at length. “…So? What was it you wanted to speak to me about?”
“Right…” He seemed to fumble for words, very unlike the Shougo Rei knew, but he quickly firmed his will and raised his head, speaking at last. And the words that fell from his lips…were ones Rei had never expected to hear: “I tried sleeping with other people—but it just didn’t work. No matter who I was with, I always wound up thinking about you. My head is full of you, and I don’t know what to do!”
Rei felt his world tilt on its axis, completely thrown by the unexpected confession.
’…Oh shit. This is terrible.’
“I can’t have anyone else but you… Hey, Rei? Do you know what this is? Why can I only think about you?”
“Don’t ask me that…” Rei grumbled with a sigh—wishing desperately that Shougo hadn’t brought this up in the first place, but Shougo continued on.
“Is this…love? Am I in love with you?”
“Stop,” Rei snapped without answering the question, putting his foot down. It was the only thing he could do at this point. “You know I’m in love with Seiya-san! Not you! So even if you claim to be in love with me, I can’t return those feelings.” At Rei’s shut-out, Shougo drooped, falling silent again.
And then… “You know my dad loves my mom. So…still?”
“Yes. Despite that.”
“Even though you know he’ll never love you back?”
“Even then.” He hardly needed Shougo to tell him that, after all; he knew that better than anyone else. He was who he was today precisely because he understood this and still wanted to be by Seiya’s side forever. Though—it still pained him, and he felt a wave of irritation with Shougo for asking such questions in the first place rise up.
“You know…I’m the one who most resembles my dad…”
The comment pushed Rei into retorting with something he probably shouldn’t have: “No matter how alike you may look, you aren’t him.” Did Shougo still not get it? It mattered nothing how much they resembled one another; there was no point if he couldn’t have the person he wanted… “Plus—you’re only alike on the outside. You’re not as honest as he is, and you can’t sing the beautiful songs that he can!” That heart, that voice…that saved him that winter night. No one could replace that. But— “So, I cannot return your—” —feelings, he’d been about to repeat, when Shougo interrupted him.
“Then—what if I can surpass my father?”
“Huh…?” Rei blinked in confusion at the unexpected suggestion. Shougo…surpassing Seiya?
“If I come back here an even more amazing man than my father, will you think about me, and not him?”
Rei could only assume that Shougo still did not truly understand what it meant to love someone. It was the only reason he could possibly have for saying things like I can’t be without you and I hope you’ll think about me if I surpass him in the same breath.
But just as Rei was about to explain that it wasn’t an issue of surpassing anyone, he remembered something.
’Wait…Seiya wants Shougo to join the entertainment industry…’
His heart skipped a beat, pulsing stronger in his chest. This could be his chance a voice whispered deep inside his ear. “…When you say you’ll surpass Seiya-san…you mean you’ll sing?”
“Sure! I’ll do anything and everything!” he responded instantly with a nod, not seeming to notice the slight tremble in Rei’s voice.
And here, Rei made his decision. “…All right then. If you can manage it…then I’ll think it over.”
“Seriously?!” Shougo’s expression brightened.
He ignored the twinge of guilt blossoming in his chest at using Shougo’s feelings for him for the good of SenaPro and Seiya, nodding. “Sure.”
“All right—then it’s a promise! Pinky swear!” He snatched up Rei’s pinky in his own to seal the deal before darting out of the apartment in high spirits. “Just you watch, Rei! I’m gonna make it big!”
And with that, he left.
The next day, when Rei went to pick up Seiya as usual, he found the man in a rather good mood, smiling more broadly than usual. Nagisa and Izumi were already gone from the living room, as was Shougo, whom Rei had been harboring uncomfortable fears of running into. Relieved at the turn of events, he began to go over the day’s schedule with Seiya, as per usual—but Seiya’s smile didn’t leave his face.
“That reminds me—what’s going on with you this morning? Did something good happen?”
“Mm? Oh well you see…” At this, Seiya explained that Shougo had come to him the previous evening, vowing to set off on a journey of studies to become an even greater singer than his father.
“I…I see…” He hadn’t expected Shougo to go running off to make such an announcement to Seiya immediately after leaving Rei’s apartment, and while he worried that perhaps he’d let something suspicious slip in his excitement, Seiya’s expression reflected only joy. Which meant they were probably safe.
“Kept going on about having finally found his dream—that Shougo, who’s always seemed so bored with everything he did, was practically dazzling!”
“Is that so…?”
“He said he doesn’t plan on coming back home until he’s succeeded—even dropping out of school, which didn’t go over too well with Nagisa…but I must say I’m thrilled.”
And seeing how genuinely happy Seiya seemed with how things were going…made Rei happy as well. It was a bit worrisome that Shougo wouldn’t be coming home again until he’d succeeded, but just as Seiya believed: it was Shougo, so he’d be able to generate results.
“Well that’s wonderful.”
“Yup, wonderful indeed!” Seiya nodded with a broad grin. “Shougo will pull it off, no doubt. And I…I’ve decided to go through with the surgery for my polyps.”
“Ah—you have?” Now that was certainly something he hadn’t expected, given how worried Seiya had seemed over the matter… It seemed that having a successor now was helping things move in the right direction. After all, in one evening, he’d managed to resolve both of the worries that had been plaguing him lately. With this, SenaPro would likely grow larger and larger and move on to bigger and better projects.
“I’m sorry to have worried you, Rei-kun.”
“Oh—no, not at all. I’m…really glad.” He favored Seiya with a bright smile.
…It was three years after Shougo disappeared, then, that Rei began to hear rumors about a legendary indie band called the CRUSHERZ that had filled the Budoukan Hall to capacity.