Crying without a sound came as naturally as breathing did to Kuro. In the seclusion of a supply closet, he was free to let the tears fall as fiercely as they wished. His right hand held his left arm, while his left hand pressed against his lips. The left arm was in pain from the shove Silas had given him moments ago. After he’d hit the wall hard, Silas and Bryson continued along their way, laughing at him as they always did.
He leaned against the shelving, his hand moving carefully over his nose. The gauze was gone and the swelling was down significantly. Yet, the memory lingered. The tears were getting harder to stop. Knowing there wasn’t much time before class made it somehow harder. A sob escaped his tight throat.
Light flooded the room! Wide, fear-filled eyes turned to find the one person he couldn’t face. Dasai’s angry glare held a note of surprise to come across him. Crying. Alone in a supply closet.
Kuro grabbed the nearest object, “someone made a mess. I just came to…”
“The only mess is you,” the door shut behind Dasai. He took the mop handle out of Kuro’s hand and tossed it away. Roughly, he grabbed a hold of Kuro and pulled him close. One arm held his back, while the other held the back of his head.
It was only a moment before Kuro felt himself caving. Slowly, his hands moved to grip Dasai’s jacket at his back. He pressed his face into Dasai’s chest as he felt the tears continue. He closed his eyes to them and felt something he couldn’t ever recall feeling. In response, his heartrate began to slow.
“I told you not to lie to me,” Dasai reminded him. “What happened?”
Eyes half open, he stared at the shirt his face was pressed against. “Silas shoved me into a wall.”
Nothing changed physically in the moment. Dasai simply continued to hold him. Because he felt safe, Kuro didn’t ever want to let go.
“I don’t want to sink to his level,” Dasai sounded irritated. “But it’s a stupid name. It just really pisses me off.”
A chuckle escaped on Kuro’s breath. It was such an inconsequential thing to be hung up on. But it made him happy to hear Dasai say that. Reluctantly, he moved when Dasai’s arms let him go. Using the cuff of his shirt, Dasai wiped away the remaining tears from Kuro’s eyes.
“How bad is it?” he gestured with his head towards Kuro’s arm.
“Just a bruise,” he shook his head. “It just scared me.”
A thought emerged, “is that how you hit your nose?”
Eyes falling, he nodded. “I tripped and hit the lockers when Silas pushed me. So, I really did trip…”
His voice trailed off because Dasai’s silent opposition stood before him.
“Sorry,” he spoke softly.
“You fucking better be,” Dasai moved away. A flick of the wrists straightened out his shirt as he turned away.
As Kuro’s fingers gripped the back of his jacket, Dasai turned his head.
Worry kept those watery eyes from lifting to meet Dasai’s gaze, “if we leave at the same time people might get the wrong idea about you. You know, closet and all.”
Amused was the laugh that came out of Dasai, “you saying I’m in the closet?”
Confused, he glanced upwards in question. “No, th-that’s not what I meant! I-I only meant that teenagers make out in closets at school.”
“What school do you go to?” he was amused.
“Uhm, people might think you and I…”
Dasai’s grin was strangely reassuring, “I don’t care. Besides, we’ve already slept together, remember?”
Kuro instantly went bright red, “b-b-but…”
“Idiot,” Dasai gripped his shirt to pull him close. Their lips met; soft, warm, intense! Kuro’s eyes were wide. His hands were tense at his sides. But his lips moved instinctually with Dasai’s. That movement drew out the kiss longer than intended.
When it did end, Dasai held a self-assured grin, “there, now it’s not the wrong idea.”
Dasai opened the door. His grip on Kuro’s shoulder ensured that he was following. Still wide-eyed in a daze, he needed that hand upon his shoulder as people around them cast questioning glances.
“Keep that blush up and people are going to think more than kissing happened,” Dasai told him.
It made the blush worse! A glance at Dasai stopped the apology that wanted to surface. “You’re enjoying this!”
“Course I am,” he chuckled. “Almost as much as I enjoyed that kiss. Not at all bad for your first one.”
His hands hovered over his mouth and nose as embarrassment washed over him. How did Dasai know that?
“Just one sec,” Dasai’s light touch upon his back encouraged him to stand motionless.
He watched Dasai move across the hall. Slowly, his hands fell from his face to his side. Fear washed the color from his face.
“Silas,” Dasai called the name coldly.
Silas turned around. Solid was the punch that Dasai landed to Silas’ nose. It sent him crashing to the floor. Blood poured from his nose. Everyone around them stopped what they were doing. Space was immediately given. The efforts were too little as Bryson looked to back away. Dasai had a hold of his shoulder. The way he was slammed into the lockers ensured that his arm would take the brunt of the hit.
Lightly, Kuro held his left arm. Dasai walked back over to him. And with his arm around Kuro’s shoulders, he led the way down the hall. Everyone made room. And no one helped the two on the floor.
“Dasai,” his mother’s voice was strained.
Kuro dared a glance. Dasai barely spared a withering glare.
“I don’t understand the meaning behind this note,” she was desperate for a reasonable explanation.
“What do you think it means?” annoyed and bored, he turned to walk away. “I punched someone. Apparently, that’s an issue.”
“Since when do you fight?”
“Tch,” the noise emerged over his shoulder as he walked away. “It wasn’t a fight.”
Kuro stepped forward, “it’s my fault!”
“What?” she asked softly.
“What?” he demanded with anger. He came back in the living room.
Kuro stared at the ground at his feet, “I caused the fight. Dasai was just stepping in to help. He shouldn’t have been blamed.”
“Dasai?” hope was hers once again.
“I’m,” he quickly stepped in, “so sorry. I’ll set everything right tomorrow with the principal.”
“Oh, thank goodness,” the sigh of relief feathered past her lips. “I know that you didn’t mean too sweetie. So, just be careful going forward. Okay?”
“Yes ma’am,” he nodded.
With that, she left the room. Which left him alone with Dasai. And that was suddenly a very dangerous situation. Nervously, he swallowed. There was no escape as Dasai closed the distance between them. Still, he looked for one until Dasai had him forcibly pinned against the wall.
“She didn’t need that, and neither did I.”
The words hit him in the heart, “but she…”
“Look at me,” the command was harsh.
The order took more than Kuro had to give. Though he tried, the best he could do was stare at Dasai’s neck.
Dasai sank until their eyes met. He leaned so close that his body heat could be felt. “Why did you lie?”
Desperately his fingers searched for a void behind him that didn’t exist. “It doesn’t matter if she thinks it’s my fault. She wants to know her son is…”
“A lie,” Dasai argued coldly.
Kuro held his breath, “but, you were helping me. It’s my fault.”
Dasai cut him off angrily, “because I don’t have a will of my own?”
Kuro shook his head. If he could, he’d have shrunk further into the wall.
“You don’t pose a threat to anyone. They had the choice to walk away. How the hell is it your fault that they didn’t?”
“But you’re her son. I’m not anything,” his voice was so small. With each word his gaze fell.
Taking a hold of his chin, Dasai kissed him. Kuro was motionless with eyes wide.
“Felt to me like I kissed something,” he released Kuro. “Don’t ever lie for me again.”
Dasai’s mom came back in, her cell was pressed between her shoulder and her ear. She was talking on the phone, but interrupted herself to speak to them, “there’s an issue at work. I have to go back in. You boys have all the supper. I’ll grab something to eat on my way to work.”
Dasai was looking over his shoulder. He still had Kuro pinned to the wall. He called out, “we’re eating in the living room.”
His mom left with only a wave over her shoulder to acknowledge the warning. Kuro’s eyes pled for help.
Kuro set his empty plate on the placemat. He was sitting on the couch; a big step up for him. But Dasai wasn’t hearing a single word about him sitting on the floor.
There was something bothering Kuro. It was becoming obvious that his nervous habit of playing with his fingers was an anxious habit because something was on Kuro’s mind that he was scared to share. Dasai sat back watching the television with only half his attention.
Kuro wasn’t the only one distracted. They’d taken a big step forward in their relationship today which was weird because Dasai hadn’t been aware that they even had a relationship before this. The question on his mind was what to do next.
Kuro’d finally worked up enough courage. His fingers were tight fists in his lap, “am I…a bad…kisser?”
The surprise had Dasai giving Kuro his full attention! Gruff was his tone of voice, “figured you’d be hung up about me being pissed about the lie.”
Kuro had his gaze locked on his hands. He started thinking out loud, “you figured out that I hadn’t…that it was my first kiss. So, I might have been bad. But then before again…so now I don’t…”
He glared at the television, “do you expect other people to be great at something they do for the first time? Especially when they’re caught off guard.”
This surprised Kuro, “I guess I don’t think so.”
“Then why the hell do you expect to be a professional?”
Kuro stared slack jawed as though this thought hadn’t occurred to him. His shoulders fell as muscles relaxed.
Dasai pointed out, “besides, I said it was a good first kiss. So, stop overthinking it.”
The look on Kuro’s face said that he was already overthinking.
With a sigh, Dasai sat up, “since when have I given lip service?”
Kuro’s shy grin held meaning that had Dasai laughing.
“Not that kind of lip service.” He folded one leg so that he was sitting sideways on the couch. “You want a proper chance?”
Amused by the reaction, Dasai leaned in, “you want to get better. Practice is the only way.”
“Are you scared?” it wasn’t a challenge or a taunt. He really wanted to know. To understand.
“I just don’t want to disappoint you anymore,” the defeat in Kuro’s tone tugged at his emotions.
“Stop,” he ordered lightly. “Close your eyes.”
Kuro lifted his gaze in question.
It got a smirk out of him, “just do it.”
Kuro followed the order.
“Now think about a memory that makes you happy.”
Kuro searched his mind and found the moment. He nodded to confirm that he had it.
“Now really think about it. Think about what happened. What makes it a good memory. How the air smelled. What sounds were about. Who was there. Remember what you loved about that moment.”
Embarrassed by the smile the memory brought up, a light blush touched Kuro’s cheeks. Dasai didn’t point this out. He let Kuro recall the memory until his shoulders began to relax once more. The fists he’d been making in his lap unfurled.
“Hold onto that moment,” his hand touched Kuro’s cheek. As his eyes began to open, Dasai told him, “keep your eyes closed. Don’t lose that moment.”
It was a show of trust that Kuro followed the direction. With effort, Kuro kept his hands from forming back into fists.
“What’s your memory?”
On a shallow breath, Kuro revealed to him, “it’s the wildlife centre on that trip we took as kids.”
“What do you see?” he moved closer.
Kuro smiled softly, “the owls.”
With Kuro’s lips moving, Dasai kissed him. It was a light touch. Subtle and soft. Kuro’s lips followed his movements, trying to learn by feel alone. He watched Kuro; taking in the way his soft hair brushed the tops of his eyes. The kiss ended when Kuro’s eyes began to pinch revealing that he was overthinking things.
He gave Kuro a moment to catch a breath, “what else is in your memory?”
Kuro’s breath was shaky, “you are. You held my hand as we snuck under the gate to touch the baby deer.”
It wasn’t just Kuro feeling like a breath was hard to catch. Dasai kissed him again, bringing a furrow to Kuro’s brow as he struggled to maintain the memory. His soft lips moved with a hint more assurance, and so Dasai deepened the kiss. He felt Kuro relax his lips so that he wasn’t pursed. It coaxed Dasai into playing with those lips. Tugging lightly at them, and urging them to hold his. There was a response to every touch. Kuro’s hair ran through Dasai’s searching fingertips.
He caught himself being pulled in, and so he pulled away. Stopping before things went much further, his hand fell off Kuro’s cheek. Kuro waited with closed eyes. A sullen melancholy invaded Dasai. As he reclaimed his position on the couch, he let that attitude assault the television. He crossed his arms to hide the fact that his hands trembled.
Slowly Kuro’s eyes opened. He watched Dasai for a moment before he had the guts to ask, “thinking about the memory was so that I wouldn’t overthink the kiss, right?”
“You’re a genius,” he glared sightlessly at the television.
“Was I bad?” he was back to toying with his fingers.
“You’re a natural talent,” grudging was the admission.
“Could we…practice more?”
Though he was excited that Kuro had the courage to ask, Dasai still found himself glancing that direction with a questioning look, “you want to?”
Kuro blushed, “I can only get better with practice.”
“True,” he considered much while his eyes held Kuro.
“I doubt anyone would want to kiss me,” Kuro was fumbling with worried thoughts.
Dasai’s eyes narrowed dangerously!
“But if I can get good now…”
He had Kuro’s collar in his hand. Using his strength was simple for Kuro didn’t fight back as he was pushed into the back of the couch. Dasai’s body pressed in with his lips claiming Kuro’s. The kiss they shared this time wasn’t the sweet, tentative ones he was allowing Kuro until now. This one was filled with passion. It was open mouthed, it was possessive. It stole the breath from the both of them!
“I’m no one’s test dummy,” he made that clear when he allowed them to come up for air.
Kuro nodded his understanding, even if he didn’t.
“Good,” he sat back, pulling Kuro against his side. “No more practice right now. You’re not ready for what would happen next.”
Kuro blushed, his hands gripping his pant legs at the knees. The reaction was enjoyable. Dasai smiled.
Furtively, Kuro’s gaze cast up and down the hallways. Everyone was on their way to class. It was probably going to be his only chance. Though, lingering out of class was almost an invitation for something bad to happen.
Slowly, he walked backwards. The stairwell was behind him now, and that was the danger zone. But, walking backwards wasn’t too smart either. So, he began to turn around.
Until his back bumped lightly into someone. Hands clenched, Kuro looked up and back. Dasai stared down at him. The unamused, silent question hit him. He grinned sheepishly. His arm in Dasai’s hand spun him about, placing his back into the wall.
“Class is the other way,” Dasai pointed out. His arm kept Kuro pinned to the wall.
“Well uhm,” he fumbled for a good answer.
Dasai leaned in closer.
It took away the power Kuro had to come up with a lie. Glancing to the side in defeat, he tried to implore, “you shouldn’t be in trouble because of me.”
Understanding made Dasai smile, “what a waste of guilt.”
“Huh?” the question came out inarticulately.
“You want to make things up to me, let’s ditch the rest of the day.”
“It’s the whole day,” he pointed out, failing to completely hide a grin.
“You want to be off the hook, let’s get going,” Dasai was amused.
There was an urge to reach out and touch Dasai. It took effort to hold back. He pointed out, “thought it was your choice to hit Silas. So, I wasn’t on the hook.”
Enjoying the playful banter, Dasai returned the volley, “but you’re on it for trying to make things your version of right.”
Personifying the action was the best way to get Kuro to falter. Doing the right thing was easy. But when it was his version, there was a chance that he was wrong. And if it was wrong, he was actually causing more damage. His lips pressed into a pout, “that’s not fair.”
“Come on,” Dasai took his hand.
He was pulled down the hall.
“Shouldn’t we get to class?” Kuro kept pace.
A derisive laugh was the noise which provided the answer.
They exited the school with only Kuro’s guilty gaze lingering.
“You ever skip school?” Dasai turned his head to look at him.
Kuro shook his head, “never.”
“Course not,” he seemed amused. “What do you want to do today?”
That stumped and shocked him. “Why?”
Annoyance lit Dasai’s eyes, “your scores are top in our class, I don’t need to dumb that down.”
“What do you do when you skip class?” small was his voice that came behind Dasai as they walked.
There was a snicker, “we haven’t been in the same classroom for years. Why you so sure I’m ditching without permission?”
From the tops of his eyes, Kuro gave a pointed look, “do I need to dumb that down?”
“Sassy little shit, aren’t you?”
“I’m sorry,” he jumped!
Dasai continued to walk, “didn’t say that was a bad thing.”
Kuro followed behind, his eyes asking the questions that he didn’t have the courage to.
Sensing the silent stare, Dasai turned his head, “would you walk next to me! What are we, back in the nineteen hundreds?”
“We’d probably be wearing different clothing then,” he gently teased. “Depending on the era.”
“Move your smart ass. I want breakfast before it’s noon.”
Kuro hurried up.
“The beach is quiet,” Kuro noted as he walked backwards, looking about in wonder.
Though there were people about, there weren’t a lot.
Dasai’s bare feet left impressions in the upset sand. He shrugged, “it’s why I like coming here. Better than school.”
“I like it better too,” Kuro admitted softly.
The look of mild surprise from Dasai brought out a blush in Kuro.
“What the hell for?” Dasai laughed. “It’s healthy to hate school. Even healthier to skip it.”
Doubts lingered within Kuro, but he didn’t want to start a fight. The water’s edge was at their feet. Dasai was walking along it, letting the coolness wash over his toes. Enchanted by the ocean, Kuro knelt next to it. Tentative was his touch as his hand reached out. The scent of the ocean washed over him just as the waves washed over his hand. This moment needed to be remembered.
Feeling as though he were being watched, a blush crept up his neck. Slowly, he turned to look to find Dasai standing with arms crossed. Soft was the expression.
“You fucking apologize and I’m shoving you in the ocean,” Dasai warned.
It shut Kuro’s mouth quickly.
Grinning, Dasai turned away, “haven’t you been to the ocean before?”
Kuro got up to follow. He held his hand that had been in the water, “no.”
That had Dasai looking at him, “it’s the weakest excuse for a field trip that our school does twice a year. How have you not been?”
Kuro only shrugged. Because he was looking down, he missed the look Dasai held.
“We’re hitting the piers,” Dasai told him sounding upset.
“What are they like?”
His head nodded forward, “get over here and find out.”
Kuro ran to catch up, “Dasai?”
“Hm?” he glanced down.
“I think I have a new favorite memory,” he blushed.
Dasai placed his arm over Kuro’s shoulders, “pace yourself. You’re in for a long day.”
The sand flew up as Dasai leapt into the air gaining incredible height. More height than he should have been able to achieve jumping in sand. Honed muscles bunched as he brought his arm back to slam the volleyball back to the opponent’s side. Though they tried valiantly to stop the ball from landing, they were just shy. A young man, older than both of them, had dove to catch the ball. He came up now sputtering sand, a smile lit his handsome face.
“Man, how do you manage to beat us with a rookie on your doubles team?” he was laughing.
“You must suck, Danny,” Dasai was grinning.
Kuro took in the moment as Danny and Erica walked beneath the net to their side. They were both adults in their mid twenties. It wasn’t yet clear how they knew Dasai, but it was plain they all got along very well. Dasai looked carefree, happy, and somehow younger than he was. It was the first time Kuro had ever seen him look this way.
Danny was looking at him, “Kuro, for a rookie who’s never played before, you did not too bad at all!”
“Really?” he blushed shyly.
“Really,” Erica encouraged. “You don’t hesitate to dive, which is what gets every rookie. They’re afraid of the pain.”
“It’s not so bad,” he shrugged the compliment away. “Though, I can’t figure out how to serve.”
“That just takes time and practice,” Danny told him. “Which you can do with us anytime you want. Erica here’s a professional instructor. If you bring her vanilla bean ice cream, she’ll probably give you free lessons.”
“Don’t give away my secrets,” she slapped Danny on the shoulder. The hit looked painful, yet he only laughed.
“That’s no secret. The entire beach knows your weakness,” Dasai chuckled. He placed an arm around Kuro’s shoulders with his hand landing on his chest.
“Well, speaking of my job, I gotta get going,” she waved just before departing. “But the offer does stand Kuro; you want lessons just come see us anytime. You’ll find us here most days. Any friend of Dasai’s gets special rates.”
“Thank you,” he whispered with eyes upon the ground, but a smile lit his face.
“I’m gonna head out too. I wanna catch some z’s before my next client. As always, it was a blast Dasai. Kuro, keep coming by, okay?”
“Uhm, okay,” still he couldn’t look up.
The pair left holding hands and looking comfortable with each other.
Kuro asked, “are they who you see when you skip school?”
“Some days, yah,” Dasai dropped the hold on Kuro. He called over his shoulder to him, “come on. Let’s grab something to eat. And I need a water bad.”
Puffs of sand flew out behind his feet as he ran to catch up, “they’re very nice.”
“They think the same about you,” Dasai looked pleased.
“They said that?” he couldn’t think of when they would have.
“They didn’t need to.” At Kuro’s questioning look, the answer was given with a laugh, “they wouldn’t have offered lessons to you if they didn’t. Erica’s expensive.”
“She seemed really good,” Kuro’s gaze fell over to the ocean.
“But,” Kuro hesitated, his gaze moving back to Dasai, “you beat them both.”
With a grin, Dasai had his arm once again around Kuro, “we beat them. You had some good moves.”
Dasai’s hand brushed the sand off Kuro’s stomach. Kuro blushed.
“You got the marks to prove it,” seemed it was a compliment. “Did you have fun?”
“I…I did. Thank you, Dasai,” the words were soft. “And I’m only feeling guilty about school a little bit.”
Dasai laughed without remorse. Up at the beach’s edge there was a vending cart. Several carts, but Dasai led them to the nearest. There he purchased two large bottles of water and a snack for them to share.
“Where are we going now?” Kuro held the bottles of water so that Dasai could break off a piece of the hotdog. This piece he fed to Kuro. They were walking down the street away from the beach. With a glance back, Kuro was silently admitting that he was sad to leave.
Dasai pulled him forward when he started to fall behind, “I’m taking you someplace sketchy and dirty.”
Kuro looked at him without fear.
Dasai took a bite of the dog. Amused, he revealed, “I’ve got work to do.”
“You work?” Kuro was surprised!
“You think I’m lazy and entitled?” Dasai fed him another bite.
“I just didn’t know,” he explained around the mouthful.
“Yah well, it’s about time we started to know things,” was the cryptic reply.
“Where do you work?” he dared to ask.
“It’s a shithole,” Dasai laughed. “So, I fit right in.”
The last two bites were shared allowing Dasai to throw the paper dish into the trash. He used the napkin to wipe Kuro’s face.
He turned them down an alley. It was a place Kuro wouldn’t have had the courage to go alone into. But, with Dasai leading the way, it was okay. Still, he clung heavily to the bottles he carried.
Through an unmarked backdoor, Dasai ushered Kuro inside. Darkness met them. Fears welled up inside causing Kuro to stand motionless, clutching the bottles. As the door banged shut behind them, he felt Dasai’s hand on his lower back. He looked up, trying not to look scared. But, feelings weren’t easy to mask if he couldn’t bring up a smile.
Dasai seemed to understand. He spoke softly, “it’s me.”
‘Right,’ he pulled up a grin and made an effort to lower his tense shoulders.
Dasai smiled. Keeping his hand on Kuro’s back, he directed them further inside. When they turned a corner, Kuro was left speechless! A large open warehouse housed large ovens with adjacent workbenches, barrels and vats, and torture-like looking devices.
It took a moment, but he caught on, “you’re a glassblower? Is that the right word?”
“Didn’t picture me for an artist?” Dasai questioned with a pleased grin.
All of Kuro’s fears vanished in favor of wonder! Dasai always watched every show about this that he could. Kuro had no idea that it was because he was active in it.
“This is a sort of school. Try not to let that taint your opinion of it,” Dasai grinned. “The rest of the time I’m skipping classes, is for this class.”
“How did you find this? Do you know how to work with all these tools? Have you made things?” he was a kid in a candy store!
“Come on,” Dasai led the way to an empty workbench. “You’re my assistant today.”
Dasai was asleep on the couch. Out cold after a long day of being in the sun and in the workshop. Happily, Kuro sat next to him. Today had been special! He could still smell the scent of the workshop on his clothing. Finally, he had a reference for Dasai’s scent. He would always remember today. Lightly, he took the remote from Dasai’s hand. The excitement of the day hadn’t yet worn off. He was happy to be resting quietly at home, but it was still too early for bed. He turned the television station.
And sat up a little straighter with the excitement coursing through him at only a fraction of a second of what came on! He knew he’d missed this race today. It was a little disappointing, but tonight he could catch the highlights. He’d been very careful not to accidentally overhear anything. In moments he spotted his top competitors. Their sport bikes and outfits were hard to mistake. Kuro leaned forward, feeling the sensation he’d only ever imagined.
“Someday,” he whispered breathlessly, his gaze riveted to the screen.
From behind, Dasai watched him. A pleased grin was taking shape.