The Boy Bride - Chapter Ten - This is Love - R (sex/violence)
When I woke up, Takeo was still firmly nestled against me, his arms flung out at all angles and I rolled over to regard him sleepily. His dark hair was more tousled than usual and I ran a finger down the tuft of hair sticking out in front of his ear, over his sideburns.
He showed no sign of waking, and so I leaned a bit closer and planted a kiss at the corner of one of his tightly-shut eyes. Still no response. Encouraged that he wasn't on the verge of waking, I pressed my lips to his softly, watching carefully for a flicker that would signal that my lover was waking, but he was still as a stone… His breath was a warm stirring against my cheek.
He was still only half dressed, wearing only skin from shoulder to waist, and his hakama, kimono pants, were on the verge of slipping off his hips, showing a fair bit more skin that was proper. With a chuckle, I reached to his waistband and gave a small tug to pull them up… then changed my mind and slipped my hand inside.
Takeo murmured something I couldn't understand, but he still seemed fast asleep. Smirking to myself I let my fingers trail down the joint between leg and torso, scratching gently with my fingernails.
The result was instant and immediate. Takeo's eyes shot open and he gasped.
"Oi oi…" He struggled to sit up but flopped back down again almost immediately, either disoriented from waking so fast, or because all the blood was draining out of his other extremities, I couldn't tell.
"Good morning sweetheart." I grinned, twirling my fingers in a circle.
"Nnnnn-" Takeo made a whimpering sound and tried again to sit up, propping himself up on his arms and breathing erratically. He looked so sexy, with his hair all messed up and a sleepily-dazed expression on his face.
"How do you say 'good morning' in Japanese?" I laughed, watching his eyes flicker about without focusing on anything.
"What is it?" I cupped my free hand to my ear as though I had misheard him.
"O-ohayou-" But the end of the word came out more as a squeak than anything else. I smiled. Touché… It was my turn to be the seductor now. Teasing, I fluttered my fingers against his skin until he squirmed uncomfortably at the lack of real contact.
Relenting, I allowed my hand to grasp him firmly. One long stroke and he let out a happier sigh. I nuzzled the side of his face, feeling the beginning traces of stubble grind against my skin.
"Hon- hontou - ii-" he groaned, holding still for a bit… then eventually he tentatively reached out his hand and grabbed my own. I froze, thinking he was cutting my fun short, but he soon resumed movement, his fingers guiding my hand's speed and pressure. His breathing came faster and I watched his eyebrows crease together tightly. He looked so beautiful, I loved seeing him like this, vulnerable and needing. It was nice to know that he enjoyed what I was doing to him. Maybe a bit selfish to me, but I wanted to know that I was wanted and needed… It made me feel a bit better about being here, so very on-my-own.
"Nnn… kimochi ii…" Takeo sighed, placing one hand behind my neck and pulling me closer for a kiss. This time his lips were demanding and he kissed me greedily, even as our fingers continued to stroke a fast pace between us. I laughed into his mouth, "What does that mean?"
"Good…. Feeling…" Takeo gasped, his accent stronger now than before, with less of his brain working to minimize his Japanese pronunciation. It sounded more like "Goo-do fee-ring-oo" But maybe that was just because I had my tongue in his mouth? Hmm…
Takeo rested his head on my shoulder, eyes closed and his lips moving unintelligibly against my bare shoulder as his hips made half hearted attempts to fight gravity. I nuzzled my nose into the soft skin of his neck and planted a kiss there.
"Nnnnn…ikimasu" Takeo groaned and I was about to ask him what that meant also, but I figured it out pretty quickly as something hot and sticky squirted over our hands. If there was anything A.P. English taught me, it was how to use context clues…
Takeo's hand slowed and he slumped against me, breathing heavily, his right hand tangled in my hair and his hakama twisted around his thighs. His eyes were still tightly closed and his face buried in my neck. He didn't move for a while, save for the occasional tremor that shook his body, and I nuzzled at his ear with my nose.
"Mm." He turned his head, but his eyes were still closed. Then he kissed me, soft and sweet. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the kiss, feeling as though this was a special moment. Somehow the playing field had been leveled, and I felt like more of a partner in this relationship, rather than just a mail-order bride. The look Takeo gave me when he opened his eyes was no longer the emotionless gaze I had seen him wear in the main house earlier, but very much human and open. It was as though I had only been able to see reflections before, while he was able to look into my very soul. But now…. Now was different…
We lay still for a few more minutes before footsteps on the stairs outside shook us both suddenly into action.
"Takeo-kun!" Came the sound of Shiya's voice from outside the door and I barely had time to remove my hands before the door swung open with a bang. Shiya spun into the room with the ferocity of a Texan tornado - then froze as he realized what he had interrupted. Takeo had pulled his hakama over himself a split second before the unpleasant intrusion but the look on his face, the thin sheen of sweat on his skin, the mess on my hands...
"Kusogaki!" Takeo hissed and Shiya blanched at the expletive.
"Gomen ne, Takeo-kun." His cousin spluttered an apology as I tried not to look him in the face.
"Rian-sama mo!" Takeo snapped, indicating with a jabbing finger that Shiya was to apologize to me as well.
"Gomen nasai Rian-sama." Shiya bowed hastily.
"Ittekure!" Takeo pointed at the door and Shiya jumped back out of the room, slamming the door shut after him. The whole exchange lasted less than 10 seconds and I stared at the closed door unbelieving. Takeo slumped against my shoulder again and I looked down at his shaking shoulders with concern. Was he ok? I hoped he wasn't too angry.
"Aahahaha." Takeo's voice surprised me. He was… laughing?
"Takeo…?" I placed one hand on his shoulder and he lifted his face to look at me. He was grinning from ear to ear and his eyes were starting to tear up he was laughing so hard.
"I- I'm… so-so-sorry Rian." he managed to choke out in response to my look of disbelief. "Shi-Shiya never apologizes to me" Takeo laughed. "I think I scared him." He fell backwards laughing, holding his stomach. After a little bit, I started to laugh as well. It had been kinda funny. Pretty soon, I was laughing as hard as he was.
"Ehehehehe…. Ahahaha…" We lay on our backs until our laughing fit faded into spats of giggles. Eventually Takeo rolled over to catch my eye.
"Ahhh… it hurts…." He indicated his stomach, sore from laughing so hard. "Itai… itai…" I nodded agreement.
We lay there a bit more, then I crawled over and rested my head on Takeo's stomach. He didn't move and I wrapped my arms around his waist. After a bit, I felt his hand on my hair, stroking the soft strands. Looking up at him, I saw his eyes were closed, motionless save for that one hand moving through my hair. It felt good being petted like this and I too closed my eyes briefly. It would be nice to stay like this all day I thought.
"What are we doing today, Takeo?" I asked.
"Staying here forever." Takeo's arms clutched me possessively. It was cute and a childish thing to say and I laughed.
"Tuesday, kayoubi. On Tuesdays I tour the main estate, and you will come with me." Takeo finally said after a bit of silence.
"But first we need to get dressed."
Reluctantly we parted and I made my way to my chambers. Someone had dusted recently and there was a warm meal cooling on the table. I munched on it greedily and eyed the simple outfit laid out on the bed. I hoped I could figure out how to put it on properly, since Shiya didn't seem to be making an appearance any time soon. I imagined him off in some corner, sulking, and laughed.
I managed a fair estimation of dignified dress, after retying the hakama's knotted belt unsuccessfully half a dozen times. Eventually I was satisfied that my pants were going to stay on (as long as Takeo didn't interfere) and I marched for the door.
The hallways were quiet and it seemed that most of the household was out and about. I shuffled down the tatami mats and peered from room to room. Occasionally an open doorway lead onto small porches overlooking tranquil gardens and I paused in each to admire the classical beauty of this sophisticated house.
I had wandered for some time when a subdued chuckle from a nearby doorway caught my attention and I turned to see Takeo eying me amusedly from outside. He held the reins of two horses and indicated that I was to mount the bay mare.
"You can ride?"
"Sure can!" I said with a grin, growing up on a farm in the U.S. Midwest had given me a hick's knowledge of all sorts of animals, and I was about as comfortable on a horse as I was on my own two feet.
"Great!" Takeo flashed me a grin before he clicked to his mount and we cantered off down a shady lane away from the house.
We came across a sunny meadow after about 15 minutes of riding. The treeline fell away on either side as the forest thinned into waist-high grass and across the green space a low stone cottage sprawled with smoke rising lazily from multiple chimneys. As we approached and slowed to a trot I could see that there were a number of large in-ground stone vats around the front and back of the cottage. A number of men and boys were working around these vats and around the long lines upon which yards of dyed silk and cotton waved softly in the gentle breeze. They looked up as we approached and some nodded recognition at Takeo as we dismounted and entered the low door into the building.
It was darker inside the cottage, and it took a while for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. After a few moments, I made out a large frame in the center of the room, over which was stretched a silk kimono with intricate designs painted on the shimmering fabric. A plainly-dressed man was seated in front of the frame, adding the last skillful brush strokes to a spray of flowers that streamed from the top of the kimono to the bottom hem. He turned around at our entrance and swiftly rose to bow formally to both Takeo and I. I bowed back in my unpracticed fashion.
"Takahashi-sama, is this your new spouse I've heard so much about?" The man asked in a rich voice and with a friendly nod toward me. I wondered what exactly he had heard.
"Yes, Rian-kun, this is Hobashira Takahashi." Takeo introduced us.
"Douzo yoroshiku, Takahashi Rian-sama. It is very nice to meet you." Hobashira said, giving another bow. I bowed back
"Douzo." I said, hoping that I had picked up the Japanese greeting correctly. Takeo shot me an appreciative glance, so I assumed I had done something right.
"Rian-kun, I have some business to attend to here, if you will excuse me a moment." Takeo said softly, disappearing toward the back of the cottage.
Hobashira indicated that I was to make myself comfortable and I leaned against the wall while he bustled about.
"I have known Takeo-sama my entire life." Hobashira said quietly after a few minutes, glancing at me out of the corner of his eye. "He was always a rambunctious child, often getting into things he shouldn't have." he paused for a minute. He seemed to be remembering lost memories and when he continued, he had a far-away look in his eye.
"Takeo often spent his time here with me as he learned the different duties of our clan. We didn't know he would become the head of our clan at that time though. Takeo's father died unexpectedly some time ago, you know." I didn't, but I didn't say so. "He is a good man." Hobashira said finally. "Whatever else you may hear or see, Takeo is a good man." He seemed to want me very much to understand that part, so I nodded.
"Here. This is for you." Hobashira said, rising to pull a flat paper package off of a nearby shelf. He paused in pressing it into my hands "I want you to know that I believe you will be good for Takeo-sama. There are many here who are not so happy with your relationship."
I didn't know what to say to that awkward statement, so I thanked him and tucked the package into the front of my kimono.
"If you ever need to get away, please feel free to come here." Hobashira said and I wondered why he had such faith in me to be showing me such kindness. But I was happy for the openness of his speech and I nodded and smiled.
At that moment, Takeo returned with a sheaf of papers in his hand and bowed to Hobashira.
"I believe that will be all. Thank you Hobashira-san." he said with a bow before nodding towards me and heading towards the door. Hobashira waved us farewell from the door and I slipped the package into my saddlebags and remounted my horse as Takeo continued down the trail past the cottage.
We rode in companionable silence for a while before I decided to ask some basic questions.
"Takeo, what is it that Hobashira does?"
"He is a kimono maker." Takeo said, "He makes all the kimono for our family and some to sell outside."
"Oh. What other places are we going to go today?" I asked curiously.
"There are many business located on the Takahashi grounds." Takeo said "Most I stop by every couple of weeks. But today we may only go to a few, I'd rather spend the day with you." he shot me a look and I smiled. It was a sweet thing to say.
We did end up stopping at several other small cottage-industries over the course of the morning. Some owners were friendly, though none as friendly as Hobashira had been, and all were polite in Takeo's presence. Several also gave me gifts, a small sword set from the blacksmith, Atara, was the most impressive. The lacquered katana sheath and matching sword and dagger were now tied to the back of my horse and Takeo had offered to begin teaching me how to use them.
Once again the path that we had been following since the beginning curved around into the forest and Takeo paused at a fork in the road. To the left the road began to rise steeply up a hillside and the path became a foot trail marked with rope and what looked like zig-zagged paper streamers.
"There's something here I want to show you." Takeo said with a mysterious glint in his eye. We dismounted and tethered the horses in a small clearing nearby.
"I used to come here as a kid." Takeo reminisced as we climbed up the stony pathway. "It's usually deserted and the adults didn't like to climb up here if they didn't have to." I could see why. The climb wasn't difficult, but it was arduous and I was glad that Takeo stopped every so often so we could catch our breath. Finally we emerged from the woods at the top of the hill into an open plateau overlooking the surrounding landscape. To my right a broad vista stretched over rolling forests until it disappeared into the grey haze of autumn.
"That way is the sea." Takeo said, catching my hand and leading me forward. I caught my breath as I focused in on the sight in front of me. A red archway led into a tunnel through a broad stone wall. We stepped through it and Takeo led me down the cool, echoing corridor until we emerged in the bright sunshine on the other side. A tranquil, though slightly overgrown rock garden greeted us pleasantly and a babbling spring trickled into a pool at our feet. There were a number of wooden ladles on a shelf near the pool and Takeo picked one up.
"This pool is for the purification of your hands and mouth. It signifies purifying yourself before entering the shrine." Takeo explained.
"This is a shrine then?" I asked, picking up one of the ladles. That would explain the ornate structure I saw some distance in front of me.
"Yes." Takeo said simply, pouring some water over his hands onto the ground. Then he poured some water in his hand, rinsed his mouth, and spit that water on the dirt as well. I imitated his actions.
Stepping around the pool and down the path a-ways, Takeo pulled a bundle of sticks from inside his kimono.
"Incense." He explained, handing half to me. He then pulled out a small matchbook and lit a torch sitting under the roof of the well-shaped structure in front of us. He held his bundle of incense in the flame until it caught fire and I did the same. We watched them burn for a few seconds before Takeo fanned it with his hand until the fire was extinguished. I imitated as he placed his incense in a holder underneath the roof of the tiny shed and fanned the sweet-smelling smoke towards himself.
"It is believed to heal you." he said. "If you have an infirmity, you would wave the smoke towards that part."
We continued towards the simple building in front of us and up the stone-cut steps. Takeo pressed a coin into my hand at the top of the steps and showed me the box to put it into.
"For the upkeep of the shrine and to thank the kami for hearing our prayers." he said with a smile.
Inside of the main hall of the building, a huge tree stretched through the ceiling and out of sight. I gaped at its size for it must have been 30 feet around and I could not see the top of it's branches through the open roof. Takeo picked up a small mallet resting on a table in the entryway and tapped a gong also resting on the table. The resonant tones pealed through the shrine as he paused in front of this impressive tree and bowed twice. Then he clapped twice, bowed again and lowered his head for a few moments before turning to me.
"We ring the gong to capture the kami's attention. You bow twice, clap twice, bow again, and then offer a prayer to the deity. Most Japanese believe that spirits live and manifest themselves in many ways through nature. This tree is hundreds of years old and my ancestors have prayed here as long as anyone can remember." Takeo said.
"Would the kami listen to my prayers?" I wondered. Takeo smiled.
"I think the kami may listen to whomever comes to pay it respect."
I nodded and rang the gong.
Afterward, we wandered through the small buildings of the shrine complex. It was not very big, as it was only a family shrine, but it was well maintained and very beautiful. We sat in a small tatami room overlooking the drop-off of the plateau towards the sea and listened to the rustling of the trees and the sweet calls of birds. My head rested on Takeo's shoulder and I felt content. For his part, Takeo nuzzled my ear and taught me small Japanese phrases that were commonly used. The afternoon sunlight glinted through the clouds and dappled the landscape in gold and green.
In time, I became even more aware of Takeo's silent presence beside me, his arm tucked around my hips and the musky scent of incense on his clothes. A strange urgency was gathering in my body - I wanted him.
"Mu husband." I said fondly, trying out the strange words on my lips.
"What did you say?" Takeo asked slowly, his eyes meeting mine unblinkingly.
"You are my husband." I said simply, leaning forward to slide my cheek along his, kissing his neck gently. His hands clasped me to him and I found myself pushed to the floor with an inarticulate eager noise.
Silk slid to the floor to make colorful piles around our naked bodies. Takeo pinned me to the floor with hips and longing kisses. I purred into his mouth and drew him down closer. I wanted all of him, skin to skin, moving with me in noisy passion. His strong back and shoulders covered me and I wrapped my legs around his waist. Did I not know him more intimately now than I had ever known any other? I wanted to be made his, to give myself to him. My wonderful, beautiful husband.
Takeo's gasps of pleasure and the sound of our bodies sliding slickly together filled the small room and I gasped with him as we explored each other. The cooling air on our skin did nothing to cool the flame in our touches. He was a part of me and I of him. I clutched Takeo's back above me, feeling the play of muscles as he slid against me, within me. I stared into his dark eyes, watching the play of emotions as his eyes widened with pleasure and wonderment. I mewled against his mouth, begging for more. His hands caressed my skin, setting me aflame and we cried out together in one transcendental moment when earth bled into sky and our heartbeats synchronized and stopped along with time and space.
We floated back to Earth in an hour and a day and a year. Blinking sweat from our eyes and surveying the damage of lips bit in ecstasy and the long scratches of passion. I was his in a way I had never belonged to any other and he was mine.
Our whisperings and laughter as we lay there, oh-so-intimately, filled the humid afternoon air and looking back on it now, I am still not sure it wasn't all a dream.
We dressed slowly, pausing to touch and kiss and become distracted all over again.
Climbing down the mountain path took twice as long as climbing up it. Not only were we tired and exhilarated, but the light was beginning to dim in the sky and the red of the setting sun made it difficult to make one's way along the uneven footing. The road at the bottom seemed hazy and the slanting rays of sunset through the foliage made everything golden to our eyes.
We walked hand and hand towards where we had left the horses, happy to be with each other, and to have wasted an afternoon in each other's arms.
"Kisama." a voice hissed in my ear and I was thrown violently to one side. A blur of silver and black swept between Takeo and I, throwing him against a tree and pinning him there with one hand.
Takeo coughed a hacking cough as the man squeezed his neck with one hand. I screamed and threw myself at the attacker only to be kicked back, gasping for air, with a swift kick to the ribs. Takeo was twisting, trying to free himself, but the other man had the advantage, both in the surprise of his attack and his heavier build. He was taller than both Takeo and I and his shoulders were well muscled.
With a desperate kick outward, Takeo broke free and slammed his opponent onto the dry leaves on the ground. They rolled several times before Takeo slammed his elbow into the other's face and the man collapsed in pain. His dyed silver hair covered his face but didn't hide the stream of blood from his broken nose.
"Ueshiro." Takeo hacked, still trying to get enough air into his lungs to breathe properly. The man spat at him, swearing in Japanese.
"I wondered when you would hear." Takeo said, leaning exhausted against a tree, pulling me to his side and his eyes falcon-sharp as he focused on his attacker.
"I just found out." Ueshiro spat, stumbling to his feet, still clutching his ruined nose. "You won't save your family this way either, Takahashi."
"Maybe not." Takeo shook his head. "But I kept them away from you."
Ueshiro swore something incomprehensible to me in Japanese and took a staggering step towards me. For the first time, those cold eyes met mine and I stared into a face that was broadly handsome, but ruined by rage and Takeo's elbow.
"He's pretty enough even for me, Takeo." The man said with a slow quirk of his mouth. "But I bet he doesn't fuck as good as I do. Ne, Takeo-kun." he reached out one hand towards me and Takeo chopped it down with the side of his fist.
"Leave, Ueshiro. There is nothing here for you anymore." he said coldly.
Ueshiro laughed but he dropped his hand and stepped back. "It's not over, Takahashi. You may have evaded one sticky situation, but you can't outsmart them all. You've grown feeble in your pacifism and your comfort." He met my eyes again.
"Yes, you are pretty enough for me. I may have you yet... both of you."
With a bark of contemptuous laughter, the silver-haired man turned and disappeared into the trees. Takeo watched him go and then slumped against me.
"My god, are you alright?" I gasped, supporting his sudden dead weight.
"I'll be fine." Takeo nodded and clung to the tree with one hand. "I just need to catch my breath."
"Who the fuck was that?!" I shook with adrenaline and from the harsh kick to my ribs that was already purpling beneath my robes.
"Ueshiro Shimada. Head of the Shimada Clan and a true evil in this world." Takeo sighed, rubbing his throat gingerly. "He would have killed us if he'd had a chance."
A chill went up my spine and a cold knot sank into my belly. "He bloody well almost did!" I heard a hysterical note in my voice. "But why?"
Takeo waved one hand weakly. "I'll explain. But we need to get back now."
I nodded and we limped to the horses and began the ride home with much groaning and cursing. Fortunately, the track we had followed around the Takahashi estate ran in a circle, with the shrine at one end of the loop close to the main house. It wasn't very long before Takeo and I were being examined by the Takahashi family doctor in the relative safety of the compound's protecting walls. Still, it would be a long time before I got any sleep that night...
End Chapter Ten