I don't own these lovely boys, I'm just playing with them for a little while.
The Wonder of Love
based on The Guide of Love by Yamane Ayano
Pairing: Hirotaka x Akira
Rating: R for romance, humor, sap
and a touch of lime.
Notes: Unlike in the west, (or at least the US) where people often joke that one can tell a man's intimate ... proportions ... from the size of his hands, in Japan, it is commonly thought that the larger a man's nose, the more well endowed he is.
 Pocari Sweat is an electrolyte drink
rather like Gatorade and is reputed to be excellent for hangovers.
"You see," the young man wailed as he wrung a sopping handkerchief, "the problem is my nose. I know it. One look at this elephant's trunk and women immediately quail." He paused to blow the offending organ. "It's such an indelicate feature for a businessman to have. It's as bad as announcing one's net worth down to the very cent at the first handshake. My friends say they envy me, but it does me no good, I tell you, no good." When his handkerchief could no longer service him, the young man fished about his pockets for something to wipe his nose with. Akira hurried over with a box of tissues.
"Please, Mr. Hanaoto, don't give up. We'll find the right lady for you, no matter what!"
Akira's brows lowered and determinedly, he hit his palm with his fist. "You are the best perfumer in Tokyo, your knowledge of flowers is encyclopedic and you can distinguish any scent at a single sniff. Any woman would be delighted to have a man like you for a husband. Think of how special she would feel knowing the fragrance she wears has been uniquely crafted for her. No sir." Akira shook his head. "You must think positively if we must succeed. It's all about attitude. Women are drawn to confidence. If you don't believe in yourself, how can she? From now on, I want you to think of your nose not as a liability but as what it truly is--a connoisseur's instrument." Akira grinned. "If you start believing in yourself I am sure things will turn around."
Hanaoto raised hopeful eyes. "You think so?"
"I know so." Akira bowed. "So please cheer up and let us do our best." He put an arm around Mr. Hanaoto's shoulders as he led him to the door. "Shall we meet again next Wednesay? I have a list of promising new candidates I'd like you to look at."
Hanaoto agreed and Akira continued to reassure the young man as they stopped at the receptionist's desk to finalize the appointment. When Mr. Hanaoto walked out, Akira saw that his client's shoulders had straightened, and he thought he noticed a new sprightliness to his step.
He returned to his office and put Mr. Hanaoto's file away with a sigh. Dealing with this case was always a bit difficult and Akira inevitably felt responsible when his clients were disappointed. Still, he brightened. No one ever said cupid's work was easy!
"Hey, Yoshizawa," a fellow agent called as she walked past his office, "new client in room two."
"Ah!" Grabbing the registrant's file, Akira bounced up from his seat. "Thanks, Yukiko, that must be my eleven o' clock. I'll be there in a minute."
All the interview rooms were decorated in soft pastel hues intended to create according to management, an ambience conducive to inspiring and cultivating love. Akira, who had witnessed as many failures as successes in these rooms was not so sure about that, but the bright colors always made him cheerful and at the very least helped his clients feel more comfortable than a cramped, darkened space might. Akira peered at his file.
"Ms. Morishita Kyoko?"
"Yes, that's me." A slender woman with reddish-brown hair rose to shake Akira's hand. Adjusting her glasses, she looked around disinterestedly. "You will be my agent?"
Akira nodded. "Yes, Ma'am. Won't you have a seat? First, let us get to know each other by reviewing your file." He flipped the folder open to the first page of the application to which Ms. Morishita's photograph was pasted. She was full-breasted and well proportioned, and though not a classic beauty, her brown eyes were expressive. Even with only a cursory glance at her credentials, Akira thought her prospects were good.
"All right ... let's see ... speaks English fluently ... handsome salary ... wow." Akira looked up, beginning to develop a sense of deja-vu. His thoughts immediately went to Hirotaka, whom he had left poring over tabulations in the laboratory. Akira knew he'd been getting underfoot, but his lover had been as gentle with him as always, leaving his work to greet him with a kiss. He was so lucky to have Hirotaka, and considering the way this day was progressing, Akira couldn't wait to go home to him. He smiled at the young woman seated across from him.
"It says here that you're an animal behaviorist at the Homura Institute. They're the premier research facility in Japan! We should have no problem finding a match for an intelligent sophisticated lady such as yourself."
Ms. Morishita met his enthusiasm with a blank look and Akira bit his lip. This one was a tough cookie! He would have to try harder.
"Why don't we begin by looking at some candidates? We have both videos and printed profiles with photographs. Won't you have a look? I'm sure that you will find a number of them quite interesting." Akira went to the nearby cabinet and returned with an armful of videos and a catalogue of profilees. Ms. Morishita barely stirred.
Together they went through the videos and when none caught Ms. Morishita's interest, Akira waited as she rifled through the profiles. It seemed they would have no luck when having studied the candidates arranged by surname from A through S, the scientist remained unmoved and unimpressed. Akira's spirits fell.
"Forgive me, Ms. Morishita," he said, bowing deeply. "If you'll spare me a moment, I will find you a better selection right away. We have--"
"Oh." Akira squinted at the characters printed on the file tab and a lump of ice settled in the pit of his stomach. "That's ... that's ... that is Mr. Takaoka Hirotaka," he croaked, clutching the edge of the paper. "A very popular candidate."
"He's a client of yours?"
"Ah." Akira swallowed. What was he worried about? It did not matter if Ms. Morishita or a hundred other women scientists were interested in the professor. Hirotaka loved him, Akira reminded himself. Hadn't he told Akira so just this morning?
Still, Akira's conscience plagued him. This was why the agent's handbook strictly forbade relationships of this sort. Wasn't he honor bound to find his clients loving, healthy relationships (his dear Hirotaka included)? Ms. Morishita and Hirotaka obviously had much in common. Akira's fists clenched. Why must everything be so difficult? He only wanted to do the right thing.
Ms. Morishita's demeanor had undergone a noticeable change. She straightened in her chair and pierced Akira with a look. "It says here that he has been a member for six months. I find it hard to believe he hasn't found someone yet."
Akira smiled weakly. "Like most scholars, Professor Takaoka is somewhat introverted. In addition, his research keeps him working long hours. Also..." How could he say that much of the professor's failure was due to the fact that he had stopped looking? Akira shifted from foot to foot. "Though it has been a challenge, I am confident..."
Ms. Morishita smiled. "I'd like to meet him."
"O...of course." Akira turned.
As he moved to gather up the files, he tried to prevent his face from crumpling.
"Akira, are you home?"
Akira peeked beyond the kitchen and saw Hirotaka taking off his shoes in the entryway. The professor's tie was loose and his hair mussed as he stepped onto the tatami. With his lab coat discarded, Hirotaka looked tired, serious--and incredibly attractive in his shirt-sleeves. Akira's heart beat faster and he ducked away before Hirotaka could see him. He scooped some rice from the cooker, tapping the spatula until the steamy mound plopped into one of the bowls he had set aside. He wanted to transfer the meal to a tray, but his hands were trembling so badly the miso soup sloshed over his fingers. This was how it always was. A single look at Hirotaka--that was all it took to set his blood racing. Akira had expected the impossibility of it--the sheer wonder of being on the receiving end of Hirotaka's love--to fade with time. Instead, only his ability to resist it diminished.
"Ah, there you are, my Akira."
Hirotaka was leaning against the door-frame, eying him with that mixture of pleasure, amusement and a kind of fierceness that always seemed to warm over the older man's expression whenever he encountered Akira. It was recognition, affection and something else that left Akira's stomach bottomless. Hirotaka never seemed to just look at him; he lingered, taking in all of Akira in a way that made him feel at once exposed and cherished. Akira shifted, his collar prickling with heat.
"Welcome home!" He smiled. "Dinner will be ready in a few minutes."
"Ah." Hirotaka pushed his glasses up his nose bridge. He did not budge but continued to watch Akira. "I was hoping to make love to you before dinner."
Quiet and uttered as calmly as if he were discussing the weather. Maybe it was the scientist in Hirotaka which always allowed him to view things with such equanimity, but Akira was not so fortunate. The dishes rattled loudly in his hands.
Hirotaka's response was soft, mellifluous laughter. "Silly boy, does that still shock you?"
Akira bit his lip. His ears were so hot he was sure they were glowing. "Th...that's..."
Hirotaka pried the tray from Akira's fingers and tucked it into the oven. Akira stumbled after him, trying to regain control of his senses. It was difficult with the blood roaring in his ears and his heart racing a mile a minute. Their eyes met and familiar heat settled beneath Akira's belt. Hirotaka studied him, his lips twitching.
"You're quite adorable in that apron." He plucked the ruffled bodice. "Shall we take it with us?
"But..." Akira floundered--gurgled. It was his mother's apron. For them to ... in her...! He couldn't.
Hirotaka blinked back at him, unperturbed and with a great deal of expectation. "Shall we?"
Did he mention how powerless he was to resist Hirotaka? Not calculation or seduction, not even persuasion, just the very gentleness of Hirotaka's voice and the warmth of his arm as it curled about Akira's waist was enough to have him trailing the older man to the bedroom. Such was the wonder of love ... and how he found himself pressed into the mattress with his socked feet bobbing over Hirotaka's shoulders. The apron was hiked about his hips, its frill of candy-pink lace crushed between their bodies. Akira squeezed his eyes shut as his breath hitched from another of Hirotaka's sinuous movements. It was too embarrassing. What a picture he must make and the crowning ignominy was the perfect little bow knotted at the base of his neck. "Precious," Hirotaka had called it. Akira's face flamed. He preferred not to describe it at all!
"Whatever is going on in that head of yours?" Hirotaka paused to consider him.
Akira would have liked to answer, except with Hirotaka nudging his prostate, he could only moan and protest the older man's immobile weight above him, keeping him from release.
Hirotaka, who never sought to deny Akira anything, obliged him. Lacing Akira's fingers with his, his thrusting assumed a more urgent pace. He kissed Akira's face and throat, never faltering in that sensuous rhythm, and Akira clutched at him, savoring the play of muscle beneath Hirotaka's skin. It ended in short order, with Hirotaka securing both their releases in a rush of warmth. He withdrew and rolled off Akira. Lifting the sheets, Hirotaka drew them both beneath the covers before taking Akira into his arms again. Akira sighed, even as he snuggled closer against Hirotaka's chest. The apron was in complete disarray about him and there were two large wet spots below its heart-shaped buttons--mute evidence of Hirotaka's earlier attentions.
Hirotaka ruffled his hair. Following Akira's gaze, he reached over and idly fingered the tiny points of Akira's nipples peeking beyond the edges of the scrunched bodice. Akira made a shivery sound as Hirotaka continued to pluck at him.
"Are you pleased, Akira-chan?"
Akira made a noncommittal sound. He was thinking. "Takaoka-sensei--"
"Takaoka-sensei?" Hirotaka repeated, his fingers stilling. "How long has it been since we discarded that formailty?" He pressed his lips to Akira's forehead. "You're nervous again, my love. Won't you tell me what has you so preoccupied?"
"Nothing." Akira squirmed. He fiddled with the sheet. "Well ... nothing too important."
"Important enough to worry you," Hirotaka countered.
"I met a new client today."
"Yes and--" Akira's face crumpled.
"Akira!" Hirotaka sat up and pulled him onto his lap, rubbing his back in soothing circles. "What is it?"
"She's a scientist," he hiccuped, "speaks three different languages ... and really ... you know ... she's pretty ... and..."
Hirotaka sighed. "Is this about a client who picked me for a date? Akira, it doesn't matter if ten women pick me." He kissed Akira on the nose. "I only want to be with you."
"But you don't understand, she asked specifically for you." Akira wrung the sheet between his fingers, twisting it into a tiny column. When he released it, a spray of wrinkles radiated across the cotton.
Hirotaka made it seem so simple but he could not help being scared. Could he ever offer Hirotaka the stability found in a hetrosexual relationship? True, Hirotaka kept irregular hours and spent most of his time in the lab, but what if one day the work was not enough? Wouldn't he want children, a family to come home to every night? No matter how much Akira loved him, these were things he could never provide. Akira sniffled.
"Plus, as a certified agent, it is my duty to make sure that the customer is completely satisfied," he said. "What she wants, I must provide. Even if..." Akira lowered his head, "even if what she wants is you."
"Then I'll just go out with her."
"I'll go out with her," Hirotaka repeated. "You know how I am with women. It will only take one date before she loses her fascination for me. Besides, this is not necessarily a bad thing for us. Mother has really been pressuring me lately to bring someone home. Inviting this woman to dinner should throw her off the scent for a while." He stroked Akira's hair. "See? Nothing to worry about."
He had not thought of it that way, and though Akira had his misgivings, he had to admit, it did make things much easier for them. He released a shuddering breath. "Well, okay...."
"Hmm mm." Hirotaka's face was buried in the crook of Akira's neck. "One more round before dinner?"
Akira wound his arms around Hirotaka. Smiling, he surrendered.
Akira straightened Hirotaka's tie. "There she is, over there. Now, don't forget what we practiced. She's a very intelligent woman and I think the two of you will get along marvelously. Do you have your keys? Your cellphone? Yes? And the--"
Akira raised a hand behind his head in a sheepish gesture. He flushed. "Sorry, you're right." It wasn't his fault he was a little nervous.
Smiling, Hirotaka leaned close and discreetly, his fingers brushed Akira's cheek in a fleeting caress. "I'll see you tonight, then?" It was not a question, but a promise. Akira nodded, his heart thudding in his chest.
"Have a good evening," he waved, watching as Hirotaka strode over to Ms. Morishita and took her arm. Tonight, her hair was coiled upward and she was wearing a smartly tailored suit that showed off her long legs. Contrasting her pastel prettiness, Hirotaka was masculine grace in the charcoal suit Akira had chosen for him. The depth and breadth of his shoulders was impressive under the dark material and when he tilted his head to answer some question Kyoko had murmured, the light caught his glasses and the sensuous curve of his profile. They made a handsome couple, and a number of people stopped to admire them as they moved across the lobby.
Akira's hand flopped to his side. He put on his best smile as he hurried to put away his files and shut down his computer. He was alone in the halls. It was Friday night and well past eight o' clock so few agents were still in the office. Save for the distant whir of a printer and the jubilant calls of the last team members heading out for the evening, nothing stirred. Akira shuffled about his desk, gathering up the last applications and the discarded coffee cups that were littered about the table. He dusted his hands off with a sigh. Everything would work out just fine. He had absolutely nothing to worry about. He turned off the lights and grabbed his coat.
But first, he was going to get thoroughly drunk--just to make sure.
Akira awoke to an unremitting throbbing in his head. Hirotaka leaned over him, pressing a wet compress to his temples and Akira gingerly eased himself up against the pillows as he was handed a bottle of Pocari Sweat.
"You overdid it, didn't you?"
Akira winced as a shaft of light pierced through his pupils. "A little," he admitted groggily.
Hirotaka sighed as he watched Akira down the electrolyte drink but refrained from saying anything. It was unnecessary in any case, for Akira was pretty sure he knew what Hirotaka's thoughts were. There was no logical reason for him to have been so panicked, but it was the sight of Kyoko slipping her arm in Hirotaka's that had suddenly sent Akira tumbling into despair. How could he explain the yearning it inspired in him? Of course Hirotaka could not understand it when he was the one slipping through Akira's fingers.
As was his response in any difficulty, Akira faced Hirotaka with a smile. He asked him about the date, the scent Kyoko had been wearing, the food they had consumed at a restaurant Akira, as their matchmaker, could never afford. And all throughout, he listened carefully, concealing the pangs in his heart. Hirotaka's weight sunk onto the bed, but this time Akira did not allow himself to become lost in the embrace. His nails dug deep into Hirotaka's shoulders and he bit down at the junction of his lover's neck with a passion that was almost savage.
Ne pleurez pas, ma chere, an athletic Frenchman was crooning to his lover on the television. They had satellite TV, and in the week since Hirotaka had begun dating Kyoko, Akira had become quite familiar with the cheesy international soap operas that played on evenings between seven o' clock and ten. Akira curled on the couch and glumly brought a spoon of caramel-fudge ice-cream to his mouth. Condensation dripped from the tub onto his shorts and slid into the crease of one leg. The Frenchman's lover clung to him, her hair falling in a rippling cascade down her back. She was insisting on something quite urgently but he did not have a clue what they were saying. Akira sighed. Kyoko probably understood French.
The soap operas came and went. Akira flipped through the channels numbly, knowing he should go to bed. Still, he watched and worried and waited. Hirotaka would return soon and Akira knew instinctively that this night, in one way or another would end everything. Yet, the body could only take so much upheaval. Akira had been in a state of agitation since he arranged the first meeting between Hirotaka and Kyoko, and he was tired, stressed and distraught from his own fearful musings. He needed rest--physical, mental, emotional... Akira's eyes drooped. He was already half asleep when the telephone rang.
"Akira? It's me. I'm here with Kyoko. We're coming over. I have some important news I want to share with you."
"Akira?" Hirotaka's voice was loud in his ear, but Akira could not answer, could barely breathe against the icy hand that had dipped into him and squeezed the heart out of his chest. Of course it was coming. Wasn't he expecting it? Yes, of course--but knowing was one thing, being faced with rejection was something else entirely.
Hirotaka's voice, tiny and frantic bubbled from the receiver as Akira returned it to the cradle. He switched off the television and returned the ice-cream to the freezer. What now? Akira turned about the room. Shower. He would shower. The least he could do was not make a fool of himself by appearing in his ratty t-shirt and boxers when the dismissal came.
Akira bathed, carefully brushed his hair and returned to the couch. The minutes ticked by with such agonizing slowness that it was almost with relief he heard the key turn in the lock.
"Akira?" Hirotaka's voice and a woman's softer tones filtered from the entryway, followed by a third voice even more muted, though definitely masculine in timbre. Perhaps Hirotaka was so determined to evict him he had already contacted the landlord to officially make sure that not a trace of Akira was left.
"Ah, you're here." Hirotaka appeared in the doorway. "Why didn't you answer when I called?"
Akira jerked to his feet; tears were already smarting behind his eyelids. He had been wrong. He could not do this. It hurt too much--too much for him to pretend to be calm when inside he was in agony.
"If you're going to leave me, just say it now! I ... I love you but I can't take anymore of this horrible suspense. Just tell me to leave and I'll do it, but don't ... don't leave me hanging like this." Akira covered his face with his hands.
Hirotaka hurried to his side. "Akira, you're wrong! This is not--"
"Hirotaka-kun, Is everything all right?" Kyoko wandered into the room. Over her shoulder, a tall dark-haired Westerner was smiling, his arm locked tenderly about her waist.
Akira's legs wobbled. "I ... I think I need to sit down."
"Yes, do. Mark, please get him some water." Kyoko waited as Hirotaka, who would not leave Akira's side, directed the American to the kitchen. He returned shortly and handed the drink to Akira before taking his place once more next to Kyoko. He had a kindly face and his hazel eyes were warm behind his glasses. At the moment, however, his features were sharpened with concern.
"All right, where to begin." Kyoko sighed, lacing her fingers through Mark's. "It's really quite simple. Hirotaka and I were in the same situation and I took advantage of him. I could tell from the first day you were lovers by your reaction, Yoshizawa-kun and that made Hirotaka even more the perfect candidate for what I had in mind." Kyoko raised her hands as Akira's eyes widened. "I swear I never meant to cause any trouble between the two of you. I just wanted to borrow Hirotaka for a little while to appease my parents until Mark came."
"I don't understand," Akira said, blowing his nose quietly into a tissue.
"Oh," Kyoko bit her lip as she watched him. "Oh, I'm so sorry to have caused you all this suffering! From day one, Hirotaka told me he was not interested, but I begged him to continue until the end of the week, though I did not tell him why. I knew Mark was coming and my parents were threatening to arrange another o-miai and well--" Kyoko showed Akira the ring glittering on her finger. "You can see why that just would not do. Like Hirotaka's mother, my parents have been trying for years to match me up with someone but last year at the Behaviorists Convention in New York, I met Mark and we've been secretly carrying on our relationship ever since. I come from a very traditional family and I just did not know how to tell them I'd fallen in love with an American. Mark and I discussed it, and we agreed to break the news to them together, but then my father was threatening another o-miai and he already had the son of a business associate lined up. That's when things became more urgent. The marriage would be instrumental for both families and I knew if I ever met this guy, there would be no refusing without causing grave loss of face to either side. I needed someone who wasn't looking for love and who would be willing to go out on a few dates. Even without your involvement, Yoshizawa-kun, everything in Hirotaka's file said he fit the bill. He was smart, wealthy, handsome--and completely uninterested in me. I was hoping to distract my parents with him long enough for Mark to arrive."
Akira stirred, his voice hopeful. "So..."
Hirotaka's arms tightened about Akira. "And that's when Mother complicated things."
It was Hirotaka's turn to sigh. "You know how Mother is. She had been calling the agency to check up on me and when she found out I had been seeing Kyoko for a week--longer than anyone before--she didn't waste any time. She demanded to meet her. I'm afraid I followed the same line of logic as Kyoko. I thought how tiresome it was to keep hiding our relationship from her and if Kyoko could throw her off the scent, well ... all the better."
Hirotaka had told Akira just these words this morning, but everything was so much clearer now that he had the full context. Akira was so convinced Hirotaka was about to leave him that he had been unable to see beyond his own fear.
"Hirotaka was always polite," said Kyoko, "and you were right about one thing. We do have a lot in common, at least professionally. It was the only reason he kept going out with me. We spent all of our dates discussing research. When he explained the situation with his mother, though, I knew this could not go on any longer, especially since Mark had finally arrived. Hirotaka had helped me so much already without him knowing it, that now that he was in a bind I could not refuse him. After meeting his mother though, I confessed everything to him. I told him about Mark and that I knew about his and your relationship and that I would never judge him for it. It was then Hirotaka-kun admitted how worried you had been these past few days and I just had to come up here and apologize to you in person." Kyoko's eyes were pleading. "Will you forgive me, Yoshizawa-kun?"
By the time Kyoko had finished her explanation, Akira was too dazed from relief to answer anything but yes. They spent a long time afterward laughing at their own folly and talking about Mark's work and how he and Kyoko met. It turned out he was a scientist as well, working for one of the top universities in the States. The American was well-traveled and his Japanese was excellent. For a good portion of the evening, he, Kyoko and Hirotaka debated the finer points of animal behavior in a jargon that went completely over Akira's head. Akira didn't mind in the least, however, too drunk on Hirotaka's arm around him, so warm and sure--and the surprising, wonderful turn the evening had taken. He was exhausted from the rollercoaster of euphoric highs and soul-wrenching lows the day had propelled him through, and the chattering voices around him had a soporific effect on his senses. Akira dozed a little, his head resting on Hirotaka's shoulder.
When he awoke, it was dark and he was lying in their bed. At some point Hirotaka had undressed him and Akira was curled into the other man's arms. Kyoko and Mark had left.
Hirotaka kissed him softly and with great tenderness. "Better now?"
Akira nodded, suddenly embarrassed by his earlier desperation. He always made the same mistake when all he needed to do was trust in Hirotaka's love. How many times did Hirotaka have to convince him? Here he had been so preoccupied with his own insecurities that he'd never given a moment's thought to how he might have hurt Hirotaka with his doubts. Yet, not once had Hirotaka reproached him. It was more than he deserved. Akira closed his eyes.
"I'm sorry, Hirotaka. You told me. I overreacted. I ... I was just so scared."
"I'm sorry, my love." Hirotaka pulled him closer. Beneath the covers he found Akira's soft penis and stroked it to hardness. "I knew you were worried, but I would never have gone out with Kyoko if I had known you were this upset."
"Sorry ... sorry, I just--" Akira moaned as Hirotaka slid down his body. He spread Akira's legs and began to suckle him. It felt so good, so good, and not just the pleasure of it, but the warmth of Hirotaka's body against Akira's--the wonder of it. His love for Akira palpable in every caress. How had Akira ever come to doubt it? He was a fool and he told Hirotaka so with every cry that burst from his lips.
"Shh, shh, no more recriminations." Hirotaka moved up to embrace him. Rolling them over so that Akira was above him, Hirotaka caressed Akira's hips. He made a questioning sound deep in his throat as Akira leaned over him.
"What is it?"
Hirotaka frowned. "I've been thinking."
"Hmm?" Akira shivered as Hirotaka pressed into him.
"It's about time you met my mother."