A pleased moan sounded out, “mm, Kuro!”
There was Kuro’s signature embarrassed giggle as he downplayed his efforts. The world was colored in red as Dasai moved through the living room into the kitchen. In that room he found the truth. Emmett, Darcy, their newest friend Santanah and some guy Dasai didn’t know stood around Kuro. Everyone had food in their mouths, a look of bliss closing their eyes. The scent of seasoned stuffed mushrooms filled the room. Even with Kuro’s back turned to Dasai, it was clear that Kuro was blushing. The stranger’s hand touched Kuro’s arm as he swallowed. It was a friendly touch meant to convey a compliment.
Dasai walked in and those smiles vanished. Emmett placed a hand around Santanah as she moved to hide behind him.
“Nmm!” Darcy murmured the warning from a full mouth.
Dasai had a hold of the stranger’s arm. He enjoyed the feeling of forcing this random guy into the wall by twisting an arm behind his back. Dasai’s hand at the back of the neck kept the guy pinned. “Touch him again I’ll rip off your arm.”
Kuro stared blankly with wide eyes.
“Dude, seriously?” there was squirming to no avail.
The hint of a smile began to surface on Kuro’s blank expression.
Emmett looked at Darcy, “this is your fault.”
“My fault?” she demanded! “How?”
“Why didn’t you tell Jack that Kuro’s off limits for touching?” Emmett was amused. Lightly, he kept Santanah within his arm. “Dasai, that is Jack. Santanah’s older brother.”
Kuro’s touch upon his arm got his attention. There was a subtle pause between Kuro’s words, “I’m just making food for them.”
His gaze penetrated.
“Well h-he was touching me, but…”
“An arm for an arm,” Dasai’s eyes glittered as he twisted the arm up further.
Jack’s eyes went wide, “what the hell?”
Kuro continued with a delicate flush dusting his cheeks, “but not like you touch me.”
Dasai gave him consideration. Tension mounted until finally, “fine.”
He released the guy. Kuro moved closer negating the need for the rough fingers which claimed the damp hair at the back of Kuro’s neck. Kuro smiled, the nerves made his eyes dance.
Jack was rolling his shoulder in an attempt to get feeling back. The look cast Dasai’s way was accusatory. Guess this wasn’t the best introduction to the group. Not that Dasai cared.
His gaze bore into Kuro in silent question.
A question Kuro was trying to avoid, “you said you weren’t the cute kind of jealous.”
“I’m not,” his hand pulled Kuro closer. “And you’re on thin ice, trash.”
“What the hell did he do?” Jack dared to ask.
“Dasai, you’re acting unreasonably,” Darcy was acting more petulant than normal. “And you owe Jack an apology.”
“No need; Santanah, we’re leaving,” Jack cast a hard look her way.
“Two down,” Dasai spoke to Kuro. It seemed like a threat somehow.
Kuro’s hint of a grin, turned into half a smile.
Emmett intervened, “Darcy will have to take responsibility because she didn’t properly warn you before.”
“I’ll what?” she demanded!
“We’re strange, but good people. Even Dasai. And once you get used to them, it’s a lot of fun watching those two interact,” Emmett assured.
“I’d like to stay,” Santanah breathed the words.
“Fine,” Jack gave in to his sister.
During all this, Kuro and Dasai were sharing silent communication. Fingers ran over fingertips, but they were all Kuro, which was giving him away.
And was the reason behind Dasai telling the others, “get lost. Kuro and I have something to talk about.”
“These are the people making some anti-bullying group you want to join, Santanah?” Jack’s eye twitched.
“Nothing to do with me,” Dasai claimed, his voice bored and his eyes locked on Kuro.
“Is kinda your fault,” Kuro was holding that gaze.
He held Kuro’s hair in his hand to pull the head back further, “say that again, you little shit.”
Kuro smiled, “I wouldn’t have any self-worth without you.”
“Don’t rise above yourself,” his gaze glittered.
Emmett chuckled. He moved towards the island, “we’ll be in the living room. Come on guys, grab the food and drinks.”
“But,” Santanah was brave enough to question, her hand upon Emmett’s shirt.
Emmett only shook his head, “don’t worry about those two. Kuro’s got Dasai wrapped around those delicate little fingers. He’s not in any danger. And he doesn’t want a rescue.”
The others seemed less sure, but Emmett was always an underestimated force. He got the others moving.
Kuro stood where he was, nervously toying with his hands. Dasai stood with arms folded over his chest, “start talking.”
Kuro’s bottom lip was pulled in, giving him away before he’d said a word. Eyes dancing upwards to meet his gaze, Kuro confessed, “you’re really hot when you’re jealous.”
Allowing a smile to surface, Dasai pulled Kuro into his arms. His hands slid up under Kuro’s shirt, pulling out the shiver that he was after. Kuro’s arms were around his neck. The countertop at Dasai’s back became the seat he placed Kuro onto. A sigh came out as Dasai’s fingers moved further up. Tense shoulders relaxed, and eyes became soft.
And that’s when Dasai stopped, “what are you trying to hide?”
Kuro wanted to ask how Dasai could know. That question danced about silently, but asking would give him up.
So, Dasai granted him this much, “you have about a dozen tells that give you away. But most telling, you took the time for a shower instead of making a complicated meal for them. You put yourself first.”
Kuro flinched, knowing that he couldn’t explain that away.
Dasai had his chin, taunting Kuro with the promise of a kiss, “so what are you hiding?”
“Emmett and I went shopping?” Kuro tried to kiss him then, hoping the paltry information was enough to satisfy him. Dasai was a better competitor at this game. His fingers trailed down Kuro’s spine, getting another shiver. His cool gaze promised more only if Kuro complied.
“Later…” but Kuro quickly trailed off defeated as Dasai’s hand left his back. From his pocket Kuro pulled his cellphone. A text conversation came up at his touch. As he scrolled through, he softly made a plea, “don’t get mad, okay?”
Before he started reading, he kept to his end of the bargain. Kuro’s lips and body were once again his.
Emmett was explaining things to Jack, “Dasai’s always been the hit first kind of guy.”
“When was he gonna ask the questions?” sitting on the sectional, Jack looked sullen.
“Who said I was going to bother with that part?” Dasai wanted to know as he and Kuro walked into the room together. “Move.”
He’d addressed Jack who was in their spot. With a cross look, Jack got up and found a new place to sit. Dasai claimed the seat, pulling Kuro into him. Dasai’s arm across his chest felt good. Idle fingers moved slowly across and back.
“You’re not giving people a chance if that’s how you act,” Darcy made room for Jack.
Kuro offered a piece of advice, “you have to speak up for yourself if you want to be heard.”
A response that Dasai liked. Warm fingers slid beneath Kuro’s collar. It brought out a blissful smile.
“Kuro!” Darcy was appalled.
“Tell me he’s wrong about that?” Dasai challenged her. He was already lifting Kuro’s phone because he knew that Darcy couldn’t.
Kuro’s fingers began twisting together.
“We might as well eat,” Santanah pushed the conversation in a different direction.
Darcy sneered at the spread of food laid out.
Emmett held the shadow of a cruel smile, “what’s wrong? Not digging the nachos?”
“It’s fine,” she nearly growled.
Dasai glanced over at the coffee table. Teasing fingers ran through Kuro’s hair, “that’s a point in your favor.”
Kuro looked like a cat receiving a desired scratch behind the ears.
“Thank you for the food, Kuro,” Santanah took the plate her brother offered. “Your home is beautiful.”
“It’s Dasai’s and his mom’s,” Kuro’s shoulders gave a slight shrug, his chin dropping.
Dasai lifted that chin up. Without looking away from the phone, he pressured almost absently, “try that again, trash.”
Kuro had a hold of his hand, “it’s our home.”
“You live together?” Jack was reaching for some food.
“No one invited you,” Dasai pointed out. His hand was back to playing idly upon Kuro’s chest. Kuro’s hand slipped to holding his arm.
“I invited him,” Darcy pointed out firmly.
“Not your place to,” the text messages moved along the screen at the touch of Dasai’s thumb. Kuro tried not to read along. His grip tightened minutely upon Dasai’s muscles.
“Don’t worry about him,” Emmett sat back with a full plate in his lap and a drink in hand. “They’re not related but Kuro and Dasai have lived together since they were little kids. We don’t know why and don’t waste your time asking. You’ll just get snarled at.”
Kuro giggled, and Dasai grinned.
Emmett continued to explain, “at the beginning of grade nine there was an influx of transfers. Our class blew up and they had to split us up. Darcy and Dasai ended up in one classroom. Kuro and I in the other. With so many kids transferring and friendships being tested with the split, all newcomers sort of slid in under the radar that year.”
“None of us were friends in grade nine,” Darcy added on. “I got to work with Emmett in Home Ec. class later that year. That’s when we became friends.”
“I was already friends with Dasai at that time. Gay boys have a radar for each other. And there aren’t nearly as many in our school as there should be. So, I snagged this one up,” Emmett gloated. “The three of us just started hanging out after that.”
“But not you, Kuro?” Santanah leaned around her brother to look at them.
“Our class is back to one unit just this year,” Emmett was the one to answer. “Dasai literally pulled Kuro into our little group. And that was when we found out they lived together.”
“Why not before?” Jack challenged Dasai.
Cold was the look cast over as a strong arm protected Kuro, whose face was turned towards Dasai.
“I told you,” Emmett chuckled, “don’t ask them questions. Just accept that they are and enjoy the show.”
“Emmett needs to stop encouraging,” Darcy glared.
With a distracted tone and eyes on the phone, Dasai added, “I’d normally agree but not all meddling is bad.”
Kuro stared hard at his tightly folded hands.
“Since when?” Emmett laughed. Then the color washed away from his face as he blanched, “Kuro, you didn’t!”
The answer was a set of nervous fingers twisting into clothing.
“Dasai, I swear he blackmailed me,” Emmett was leaning forward in the chair, desperate to be heard.
“Another point then.” Dasai’s eyes glittered dangerously, “it’s quite the detailed list.”
Kuro’s phone went dark. Emmett looked pale. And Kuro was pleased yet nervous.
“What list?” Darcy asked for the three that weren’t in the loop.
Dasai’s mom entered the house. She was on her cell. Seeing a group of teens in her living room brought a smile to her face. “I have a gaggle of high schoolers in my house. My house, Lauren! It’s the most precious moment. My boys have friends.”
“Welcome home,” Kuro moved to stand up, prepared to offer food and a place to sit.
Dasai’s grip on his hoodie prevented him from moving.
From both Dasai and Emmett, a warning came, “you’re not off the hook!”
“If you guys aren’t going to fill the rest of us in, then you have to stop talking about it,” Darcy curtly informed them.
“Seems fair,” Kuro shrugged. He was helplessly caught up in Dasai’s embrace.
“Oh no,” Dasai grinned with cruel delight. His fingers ran over Kuro’s neck, “you’re not getting out of it that easily.”
“I could apologize?” he looked hopeful.
It made Dasai laugh, “nice try, but you haven’t earned the privilege of an apology.”
“I think I’m owed an apology,” Emmett curled his feet beneath him on the chair.
“I think I’d like to hear more about this shopping trip,” Dasai’s piercing gaze moved across the room to Emmett.
He paled and his hand slapped to his face, “dammit, Kuro!”
“I’m sorry,” he was wincing!
“You went shopping without me?” Darcy was offended.
“Trust me,” Emmett peeked an eye out, “not a girl’s shopping trip.”
“Why not?” Santanah questioned innocently.
Her brother stepped in, “because just like girls need girl time, sometimes boys need boy time to ask questions. Like how you wanted to ask Darcy how she does her eye makeup so perfectly.”
“Oh, that’s sweet,” Darcy touched her fingers to her lips. “I’d love to show you what I do!”
Dasai caught Jack’s gaze. He wasn’t going to thank the guy, which Jack wouldn’t have accepted anyhow. But there was a respect for what Jack had just accomplished. Jack nodded back subtly.
“But we’ll save that for a girl’s date.” Darcy set her drink down, “let’s talk about the club. I think it would be easy enough to get a room at the school to use. We would just need permission to set it up, so we need a written proposal which I can do. And we’d need a supervisor to be on board.”
“What teacher is going give up their free time for this?” Emmett was thinking it over.
“Mr. Landon,” Dasai pointed out.
“The Student Counsellor. Brilliant!” Darcy was nodding approval.
“And your contribution is done,” Kuro laughed, looking up and back again to make eye contact.
Dasai was grinning, “thought you were aiming to make an apology.”
Kuro sucked in his lips to indicate that he was done talking.
Ignoring the banter, Darcy asked, “Kuro, you mentioned having a diverse group. But what does that mean really?”
“Probably nothing,” was the immediate response out of him.
Emmett had payback at his fingertips, “so definitely something. Spit it out.”
“Uhm,” he stumbled, “sometimes being a bully comes from a place of being bullied.”
Dasai’s hand on his chin forced his head to the side so that they were making eye contact. The threat was clear to him.
Still, Kuro softly tried to argue, “confronting those two will give them a reason to come at me again, I know. And you can’t always be there. So, the way I see it, I should challenge them head on in a way that won’t make them angry. Maybe, if they’re a part of the club…”
Dasai held his face in his hand, pursing the lips to stop the words from coming out. “That’s exactly what I told you wasn’t going to happen.”
Confusion was around the room as the others tried to understand the conversation as it unfolded.
“I don’t have to manipulate your guilt.”
Kuro finished the statement from pursed lips, “you can just give me orders.”
“What the hell?” Jack dared to ask.
“That isn’t healthy,” Darcy shared his outrage.
Dasai released Kuro’s face, talking only to him, “I’m not arguing after everything they’ve done.”
“Ok. I won’t try,” Kuro gave his promise. “It would just be helpful to understand the perspective of a bully.”
“To understand them, or to understand why it happened to you?” Dasai challenged.
“Dasai!” this came from Emmett. But Kuro was already thinking it through.
“You want the perspective of a bully, why don’t you just ask him?” Jack remarked bitterly.
“Dasai’s not a bully,” Kuro was reactive to this statement, shocking the entire group! “It doesn’t matter if you don’t understand his approach. But you should understand that he’s nothing like them. A bully takes their pain and puts it on others. Dasai takes mine away. If he asked, I would try to keep it to myself. I do try to keep the pain to myself. I don’t want anyone to feel like I do. But I think he understands it anyway. Better than I do.”
“Kuro,” Darcy’s heart was breaking.
He pushed on, “what Bryson and Silas do, is for their entertainment alone. They enjoy it. And they find creative ways of doing bad things. The path they’re on, is only going to lead to someone dying. I don’t know how to stop that, or them. So at least if we’re all together, we’re not alone anymore. It’s when you’re alone that bad things happen. That’s why I gave Santanah my number. It’s why I want to make this club happen. …because I won’t always be here.”
“I didn’t know,” Jack was uncertain in his approach.
Kuro stood up to him, “Dasai is a hero! And he’s mine, so don’t say things like that.”
“Wow,” Emmett breathed in appreciation.
Dasai’s hand moved over Kuro’s rapidly heart. His thumb ran lightly along his collarbone, “you just earned the points to apologize.”
“An apology in front of others is just for show,” Kuro steadily held his gaze.
He nodded affirmation.
Dasai lifted both of them off the couch, “Kuro needs to go upstairs.”
“We have a project to work on,” Darcy sat forward, her gaze fierce.
Dasai challenged, “it took a lot for Kuro to say that. He could use a moment.”
They moved quickly up the stairs.
“Twenty bucks says they don’t come back down tonight,” Emmett nibbled on his food.
“I’m not taking that bet,” Jack laughed.
“It’s disgusting to make out while guests are in the house,” Darcy stood up. She was ready to leave!
“Oh, they just levelled up to sex, sweetie,” Emmett laughed. “Kuro is a fast study!”
“They’re practically like brothers,” she was in full denial.
“They’ve never looked at each other that way. And it’s time you got your jealousy under control,” Emmett decided to confront Darcy.
“Excuse me?” she denied having insight. Her gruff tone was meant to deter him.
Emmett challenged, “you know exactly what I’m talking about. Kuro and Dasai are finally getting to a place where they are comfortable and good with each other. You want that for yourself. I get that. We all get that because we all want that. But even if you break them up, Dasai isn’t turning to you.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” her attempt to deny fell flat. “I’m only worried about Kuro.”
“I’m not going to back that guy up,” Jack inserted his opinion. “But your friend is happy, do you really want to be the reason he loses that?”
The words cut Darcy, who wasn’t anywhere near a bad person. She was just a lonely one. And a bit of a selfish one in this moment.
Emmett put his arms around her to pull Darcy onto his lap, “I know you want what’s best for Kuro. Right now though, I do think that’s Dasai.”
“What about what’s best for Dasai?” she felt the need to question. “Kuro can’t temper his attitude. He lets Dasai get away with everything!”
“Who cares about that guy?” Jack shrugged with dismissive anger.
Emmett chuckled, his gaze casting sidelong while still holding to Darcy, “we all do. What Kuro said about him was true.”
“I don’t know either of them. So, was that all just an excuse so that they could get it on?” Jack was attempting to give Dasai a chance.
“No,” Emmett sat back. “Kuro meant every word. And it’s the first time he’s actually opened up about what Silas and Bryson have done to him. They’ve been his bullies for three years now. That kind of abuse takes a toll. If we don’t listen carefully, I think we’ll miss the warning signs.”
Santanah picked up her drink, “he just gave us two.”
All eyes were on her, which made her uncomfortable. But, if they wanted the perspective of a victim, she was someone that could give them that.
“Do you know what every school shooting and every school suicide have in common?”
The others glanced about in question.
Santanah enlightened them, “the one’s at the center were bullied badly and felt they didn’t have anyone who could hear them.”
“You don’t think Kuro…” but Darcy couldn’t bring the words out. She looked at Emmett to see if he thought their friend was in danger.
Santanah shrugged, “years of bullying don’t just go away because something nice happened.”
Uncomfortable silence descended upon them.
Remorse was on the heels of terror as both emotions ran through his body. Eyes closed, he employed Dasai’s trick used when they first began kissing. Instead of distracting his mind from the kiss, he focused in on every nuance of Dasai kissing him so that he could forget the confrontation that had left him feeling vulnerable. Warm breath on his cheek, the perfect pressure of Dasai’s lips, the heat radiating from strong hands on his skin. Dasai’s strength kept him from falling apart.
Dasai cupped Kuro’s cheek, his thumb brushing away the traces of tears, “it’s over now.”
Dasai felt Kuro’s terror, even though he hadn’t said a word. The fabric of Dasai’s shirt was smoothed out with the trembling hands that ran over it. He whispered into the chest he was holding, “I feel a compulsion to give an apology I don’t want to give.”
Dasai chuckled softly. He pulled Kuro towards the bed, “then we need to distract you. Show me what you bought today.”
Kuro pulled himself in closer to hide a blush. Shy words confessed, “I put it beside my bed.”
Dasai looked around him to the nondescript bag. There was a pause where Dasai’s warm hands simply held him.
“What if you’re disappointed?” Dasai held worry he was hiding behind a cool facade.
Kuro’s eyes danced. He shifted to put his arms around Dasai’s neck, “you said we’ll get better the more we’re in sync. So, if we start off amazing, we got nowhere else to go.”
Relief closed that hard gaze and had Dasai taking in a kiss. Kuro’s shirt came off by Dasai’s hands. Those same hands holding heat lifted him off the ground, and then tossed him onto the bed. The bag landed next to him.
Crawling over top, “did you do everything on Emmett’s list?”
Kuro ran nervous fingers through the hair by his ear, “not the last one.”
“Didn’t know what that was, did you?” hungry eyes devoured Kuro.
A blush was the only response he could give.
Dasai leaned in, “I’m already turned on, dumbass. You don’t need to blush.”
He reached over to the shopping bag. Kuro’s blush deepened.
“Too late to say no now,” he grinned down. “This is your shopping bag of goodies.”
He began rummaging through. Eyes grew wider with intrigue and interest.
Laughing, “you’re not even eighteen, how did you get in the store?”
Lying beneath Dasai, Kuro looked delicate. And in a rare moment, he took on the attitude of someone confident. Hands behind his head as a pillow, he shrugged, “I’m a very mature seventeen-year-old.”
He held Kuro’s neck with his left hand, in his right he pulled an item from the bag. Kuro placed his hands over his mouth at the sight, stifling a giggle and making it easy to call him on the claim, “very mature.”
Kuro relented with a chuckle, “Emmett knows the guy that works there. I showed him my ID and he said close enough.”
With a pleased grin, Dasai kept looking through the bag.
When he brought out a bottle, Kuro explained, “he says that’s one of his favorites. His girlfriend has a lot of allergies, but she doesn’t have any bad reactions to that. So, he said it would be a good one to start with.”
“You should see how red you are right now,” Dasai let the bottle drop. He leaned in to claim the sensitive spot where Kuro’s neck and shoulder met. Kuro clung to him. “What other instructions did Emmett give you?”
“Nothing,” he sounded vexed. “He said the rest I had to learn with you.”
“Guess I don’t need to kill him then,” he said between the teeth which held Kuro.
From the bag he retrieved a condom. Holding the wrapper in his teeth, he freed his hands to pull off his shirt. Kuro’s fingers were moving over the muscles of his stomach.
“You’re going to put this on,” he ripped into the wrapper.
“On me?” Kuro looked panicked!
“When did I ever give you the impression I’m a bottom?”
A grin emerged.
“You little shit,” Dasai took a hold of Kuro’s arms, pinning them next to him on the bed. His tongue ran over Kuro’s chest, taking in a nipple and playing with it. Kuro shuddered, a sigh escaping on a shaking breath. Grinning with confidence, “that’s why you’re my bottom.”