The sound of a motorcycle engine from his pocket alerted him that he’d received a text message.
Emmett glanced Kuro’s direction, “you changed your ringtone!”
The smile that came out was warm, “Dasai changed his.”
“So that you know to answer him right away?” hands in his pockets, Jack leaned forward to look across Emmett. They created a line as they moved down the sidewalk.
Kuro shrugged. Neither the tone nor the words bothered him so much. He brought out his phone.
“Cute,” Emmett grabbed his phone with excitement!
Emmett was enchanted by the bauble dangling from Kuro’s phone. It was a teardrop made in green and blue glass.
Proud of the jewel, Kuro told them, “it’s a drop of the ocean! It’s Dasai’s first attempt working the glass with metal fittings.”
Stunned silence brought him worry. Slowly, he turned to look at Emmett and Jack.
A grimace skewed his features, “you didn’t know he’s a glassblower!”
“Dish out the gossip, sweetie!”
“I can’t do that,” he hid his mouth behind his hands!
“Oh,” Emmett scoffed a chuckle, “you’re going to, otherwise I’m telling Dasai.”
“That’s blackmail!” Kuro scolded, but he was also having a hard time hiding his grin.
“Dish,” Emmett was remorseless.
“So, what did you tell them?” Dasai ran a damp towel over his arms to clear them of sweat. He’d been hard at work at the studio when Kuro had come to pick him up.
“I didn’t,” Kuro looked up with a grin. “I called their bluff.”
There was a sparkle in Dasai’s eyes as he leaned closer to kiss Kuro. “We meeting them at the beach?”
“Come have a shower with me. I stink.”
“I like the way you smell,” he closed the small distance between them giving Dasai another kiss. “And the only showers are public ones at the beach.”
“Danny’s got one at the office,” he whispered this.
Kuro’s eyes went blank. His fingers dug lightly into Dasai’s shirt as he gave this possibility serious consideration. “Yes, please!”
The door was locked with a sign that said Danny would be back after an extended lunch. Disappointing turn of events. Not that Danny was likely to let them do this in his office shower. He was a liberal-minded guy, but there had to be limits. Especially after the last time when they’d stepped over the boundaries apparently. Or so the lecture had gone.
No sense in pining over what wasn’t. He turned. And then promptly froze. Murder was written upon Kuro’s face! If looks alone were enough, the door would have melted under that ferocity. The sentiment was shared, but it was impossible not to laugh. Though wisely he did attempt to hide it behind his hand.
Slowly, Kuro’s gaze moved to him. Dasai pulled him closer.
“Don’t,” Kuro snapped.
“Yes?” he could not resist. Kuro felt so good in his arms!
“Don’t you start something you can’t finish.”
The warning wasn’t heeded.
His fingers touched Kuro’s spot, pulling out a shiver. Clinging to Dasai, Kuro tried to admonish, “Dasai, I’m trying to block certain responses right now!”
Lips upon Kuro’s ear, “I promise I’ll find us a way.”
The blanket made a soft landing on the sand between Kuro and Santanah as they worked together. Darcy set down one of the coolers while Dasai set down the other. Jack held their shared bag. Emmett dropped his bag and pulled off his shirt. From the bag he pulled out suntan lotion. Immediately, he was on everyone’s case about using it.
“Even in this season, sun is not a boy’s best friend. Not a girl’s either,” he looked at the girls.
“Santanah doesn’t burn even if she doesn’t use lotion,” envy was heavy in Jack’s voice.
“Like you do either,” Santanah blushed.
Dasai pulled off his shirt and then accepted the offer of the lotion. Four of the five sets of eyes watched with appreciation. It gave Kuro a need to stifle a giggle, ‘poor Dasai would be embarrassed if he knew we’re all staring.’
The others quickly reverted to what they were doing before Dasai could notice. Kuro wanted to play volleyball, and he wondered if Erica and Danny might be around since Danny hadn’t been at the office. He didn’t see them as he scanned the beach. But it was still early in the afternoon. They may turn up yet. Turning back around revealed that the others were already making themselves comfortable on the blanket. Quickly, he pulled off his hoodie and t-shirt so that he could join them. He moved to take the offer of suntan lotion.
“Kuro,” Darcy’s voice carried concern.
“Sweetie,” Emmett breathed in shock.
Santanah held her hands before her lips. Both she and her brother looked a little paler than they had a moment ago.
He paused uncertainly. All eyes were suddenly upon him, and he wondered briefly if this wasn’t some form of retribution from the universe. But then, understanding brought up his uncomfortable grin. His body carried the scars of bullying and a wound from helping out at the studio that had all but completely disappeared. It wasn’t that he’d forgotten about these, he just didn’t give them as much thought anymore.
A blush touched his cheeks, “oh it’s nothing! My…boyfriend is just very passionate about a lot of things.”
Shock rocked the group!
“Oh, you little shit!” Dasai recovered the quickest.
Expecting such a response, Kuro was ready to bolt. FAST! He took off as though ejected from a seat. Laughter trailed behind him with Dasai close on his heels.
“Ignore those idiots,” Darcy looked pained as she brushed the sand away that Kuro had kicked up.
Emmett was chuckling, “did not expect that outta Kuro. Good for him!”
In the distance, Dasai had a hold of Kuro. They held each other, with Kuro laughing while Dasai dragged him to the water.
Emmett was giving the other two the insider scoop, “Kuro’s always been super quiet. To the point where even teachers don’t know his name. Until this year, I’d never even heard him speak.”
“So, it’s a surprise to hear him joking like that,” Jack understood.
The two were waist deep in the ocean. Laughing had turned into kissing.
“They seem close,” Santanah watched with a gaze full of longing.
“I don’t think it’s all that serious,” Darcy dismissed, turning her attention to the drinks.
Emmett and Jack were rolling their eyes.
Emmett changed their topic, “Santanah, how’s class now that Kuro’s talked to your teacher?”
She nodded, “it’s much better! He’s been using my pronouns, and he doesn’t let the others say mean things. Even some of the students have started calling me Santanah!”
“That’s great,” Darcy approved! “It was Kuro’s idea to go around to the different classrooms to introduce our group. It’s a great idea, I just didn’t think he’d be the one to talk.”
“This is something that’s really important to him,” Santanah offered her opinion.
They all watched as Kuro and Dasai left the ocean. It must be freezing, yet neither looked it. Emmett shook off Kuro’s clothing. A largely muscled man approached the two of them. They were too far out for those on the blanket to hear. But Dasai keeping himself between the man and Kuro said a lot.
“He keeps getting all the attention,” a wistful sigh left Emmett’s lips.
“Tell me,” Darcy muttered.
They ignored. Jack questioned Emmett, “your type?”
“I do love ‘em big,” he grinned, knowingly making the innuendo.
“I hear the bigger the muscles, the smaller the package,” Jack played along. His fingernail lightly scratched an itch on his chin.
“Wives tale,” he waved the comment off. “Unless they’re into ‘roids. Then I hear it’s true.”
“That guy is definitely on them,” Jack told him. “Look at him. He’s got small package written all over him.”
“Can we stop discussing some stranger’s…package,” Darcy snapped.
“I would prefer to talk about girls, but something tells me I’m outnumbered here,” Jack turned back to them.
“Oo, Darcy has a cousin; just the cutest thing!” Emmett was always willing to play matchmaker.
“Cute or hot?” Santanah weighed in, “he likes high-maintenance type girls. And he also likes slender girls he can put his arms around.”
“You’re asking a gay guy to weigh in on a girl,” Emmett laughed.
“Stop trying to setup my cousin,” Darcy had her arms crossed.
“Well you’re not doing it, so here I am. She’ll thank me later.” Emmett played vicious, “unless you think Jack isn’t good enough for your cousin.”
“My brother isn’t good enough?” Santanah played along, receiving a high-five from Emmett.
“You two are ridiculous,” she shook her head.
Kuro and Dasai walked up with their arms still around each other. Dasai sat down, he moved to pull Kuro onto his lap.
Santanah was looking into the cooler, “is there any water?”
“Just pop, why?” Emmett asked.
She looked sheepish. Knowing his sister, Jack offered up the details, “fizzy drinks hurt her stomach.”
“It’s okay, I don’t need anything,” she was so quick to waive any offer down.
Kuro responded, “I’ll go grab you something. Is there anything else you can’t have?”
She shook her head. Again, Jack responded, “she’s fine with anything that isn’t fizzy or caffeinated. Avoid heavy acids too.”
“I’ll be back soon,” Kuro reached to grab his wallet from the bag.
Dasai reached over, “I’ll come with.”
“I don’t need your help,” Kuro looked down at the hand which held his wrist. “It’s just drinks. Stay and visit.”
“I’m coming with,” Dasai moved to stand.
The glare he tried to sport came across more like a pout, “I don’t need you.”
Dasai challenged with a raised brow. Eyes widening fractionally, Kuro slipped out of the hold. He was rushing away before he could retract his statement. Dasai grinned.
“You’re going after him, aren’t you?” Emmett correctly guessed.
“Well,” his grin turned towards Emmett, “there’s a certain thrill in chasing your prey down.”
“There’s also a certain thrill in being chased,” Emmett sported a look similar to Kuro’s when he was trying to entice Dasai.
“I think he’s capable…” but Darcy trailed off because she realized that she was being ignored.
“I really, really wouldn’t,” Kuro’s voice shook as he backed away.
“I can tell you’re the submissive type who likes to be told what to do,” the random beach guy touched a meaty finger to Kuro’s chin to lift his gaze.
This was the guy that had approached them by the water. Dasai had told him to back off, in not so polite of terms. Kuro had thought that was the end of their interaction until he’d been cornered just outside the kayak rental hut.
“I’ll give you every order,” the guy leaned in, trapping Kuro within his arms.
“That’s okay,” he nervously tried to dodge under an arm. “I don’t want you to.”
The guy had a rough hold of Kuro’s face, “open your mouth.”
Kuro kept his teeth locked, “let me go.”
“Learn to be the dominant one if you don’t like it.”
He was being laughed at. It would have hurt but there was a truth that he knew he could hold to.
So, Kuro pushed the guy’s hand away, “he likes me the way I am.”
This stumped the guy.
Kuro took advantage, “Dasai, he’s touching me.”
“What the fu…”
The guy’s feet were swept out beneath him sending him crashing into the sand. At his back, his arm was twisted about painfully ensuring that the fall was a hard one.
The calm command came at his back, “now eat it.”
“Pwhhat,” the guy spit up the sand his face was pressed into.
“Eat the sand, you little bitch,” Dasai said it slowly.
It was hard to tell if the guy was following the order or trying to speak. Dasai had the guy’s head pressed pretty hard into the ground.
Dasai got up. A powerful kick sent the guy rolling away through the sand. A familiar look was turned upon Kuro when Dasai turned his head towards him. He struggled to find the right words but was at a loss. His open hands found Dasai’s bare chest as he was pulled in.
A soft and resigned sigh preceded, “I needed you.”
Dasai grinned arrogantly. A chuckle emerged.
He glared upwards, “you don’t need to have a swelled head about it.”
The grin turned salacious, “multiple body parts are swelling right now.”
“DA-SAI!” he blanched, hiding his laugh in Dasai’s chest.
The chuckle that emerged had no remorse.
“Go in the water and cool off,” he pushed Dasai towards the water.
Behind Dasai, the guy was picking himself up out of the sand. There was a disgusted look on his face as he dusted himself off just before walking away.
“Are you giving me orders?” Dasai questioned him.
Trying to temper a smirk was all he could do while he shook his head.
“Then get your cute ass into a cabana and take care of what you caused.”
The order was clear. Kuro’s head turned down attempted to hide the enticed smile.
“I caused this,” he sounded proud and shy, amusing Dasai even further. Taking Dasai’s hand, he led the way to the nearest empty cabana.
“You’re very sweet Kuro,” Santanah took the ice cream and water with a pleased grin.
“It took you a while to come back with these,” Darcy pointed out with displeasure, sounding like a mother scolding her kids.
Dasai’s satisfied grin and Kuro’s coy blush told the story.
“Nice,” Emmett chuckled. He captured his melting ice cream on his tongue.
“You forced Kuro to,” Darcy’s voice dropped to a whisper, “do stuff here on the beach?”
Santanah looked concerned. Jack and Emmett sat back to observe. Kuro blushed deeper. He was hiding his lips behind a loose fist.
“Who forced?” Dasai’s snarl didn’t really help his position.
“Your personality is a force,” she accused with a hand upon her hip. “Kuro’s too weak to stand up to you. So, someone needs to say it.”
“Stay out of relationships that aren’t yours. Kuro is fine.”
“Like he would ever,” again her volume almost vanished, “make out somewhere public.”
“The cabana was private enough,” but then Dasai stopped arguing.
Kuro was turned away from the two of them. His shoulders were shaking and he was closed in on himself. Dark fury washed over Dasai, having him grab Kuro by the shoulder to forcefully turn him around. Doing so pulled Kuro’s arm away from his face revealing that he was laughing! Tears caused by that laughter rested at the corners of his eyes.
“I’m gonna fucking kill you,” Dasai was trying not to grin.
Kuro turned wide, innocent eyes up to him on command. The tears made him look all the more vulnerable, “I just want you to be happy.”
“Making you hurt is gonna make me happy right now,” the threat was received with Kuro’s teeth chewing his bottom lip. Dasai knew Kuro’s signs by now. He was not disappointed in this one, “you insatiable little shit.”
“Insati…” it was now Darcy’s turn to blush. “It may be in poor taste, but Kuro was just joking, Dasai.”
“Oh sweetie,” Emmett laughed.
Jack put a hand on her shoulder, “let it go Momma Bear. Your protection isn’t needed.”
“But,” Darcy was lost.
“Just let it go,” Jack repeated with a grin.
Dasai and Kuro claimed seats on the blanket.
“Let’s all cool off, okay? Why don’t we take some time to learn something about each other?” this suggestion came from Emmett. He was leaning back on one arm, taking in as much sun and ice cream as he could, while holding an evil glint within his gaze that was directed towards Kuro. “I’m sure there’s all sorts of things we’re keeping from each other. Like, how Dasai is a glassblower as well as a Kuro-bl…”
“Don’t you dare finish that,” Darcy snarled. Then surprise lit her expression, “glassblower?”
“Check out Kuro’s phone,” he was grinning. “It’s the cutest thing!”
“I’m sure the story is good too, but someone bailed without telling us,” Jack joined in.
Kuro proudly brought out his phone to show off Dasai’s handiwork. The girls snatched it out of his hands much like Emmett had. There were noises of appreciation.
“You made this?” Darcy was enchanted.
“Not the first thing I’ve made,” he shrugged without a care.
“What else have you made?” she turned the phone over to Santanah.
Leaning his back into Dasai’s chest, Kuro told them, “he let me help him make a vase for a piece his instructor is working on. And the motorcycle he made me!”
“You get to help?” Emmett sat up.
Kuro nodded, but then a pout came about, “he’s working on a project right now though that he won’t tell me about. So, I don’t get to help out as much.”
“Enough about me,” Dasai remarked coolly. He ran his fingers down Kuro’s arm, “who’s your next victim, Emmett?”
“Jack’s new,” his eyes glittered that direction. “Tell us something good that we don’t know about you. Good enough that even your sister doesn’t know!”
Jack didn’t look too concerned as he gave it some thought, “last summer I pretended to be my best friend’s boyfriend to get a girl to back off him.”
“For Charley?” Santanah was lit with interest.
“What did you have to do to convince her?” Emmett was fully sitting up.
Jack shrugged, “just walked up, put my arms around him and gave him a kiss. Pretended I had no idea she was asking him out for the third time.”
There was laughter and kudos granted.
“Your turn Emmett,” Jack turned the tables.
“I’m an open book, but…” He tapped a finger to his lips, “I’ve written a book.”
“What?” Darcy was the voice for their collective excitement and surprise!
“Are you going to publish it?” Santanah asked.
He shrugged, “I’ve no idea. I haven’t let anyone read it, so I’m not sure if it’s any good.”
“What kind of book?” Darcy leaned back.
“Smutty romance novel, what else?” he laughed. “But that’s all you’re getting right now. I’m not ready to share yet. So, then Darcy’s next.”
She shook her head, “I don’t have anything.”
“Everyone has secrets, so spill,” he pushed with a laugh.
“Um…I’ve already been accepted to university and I’m starting classes next fall,” she revealed.
“Granted we didn’t know you’d been accepted, but we all knew you’d apply to university the first moment you could. We want something juicy,” Emmett challenged.
“That’s the juiciest that I’ve got,” her hands were raised in defeat. “Santanah, you’re next!”
A blush was already emerging just to have attention upon her. A confession slipped out, “there’s a girl in my class who says she likes me.”
“What?” Jack didn’t sound happy.
Darcy and Emmett were, “do you like her back?”
“I dunno,” she blushed fiercely! “Maybe.”
“Who is it?” Jack demanded.
“Don’t let your brother interfere,” Emmett dodged a piece of fruit that Jack tossed at him. “Relax, we’ll vet this chick out and make sure she’s good enough for our little Santanah.”
Jack seemed somewhat appeased by that.
“So, what about you, Kuro?” Santanah had noticed that he was the only one that hadn’t offered something up.
There was a subtle shift about the group as they each looked at him. There was a lot of expectation that he would hide from the inquiry. Admittedly, it wasn’t easy to have the focus upon him, but he had an answer.
Lifting his gaze to hers, Kuro let her know, “recently I’ve been very into Turkish Oil Wrestling.”
Dasai spit up his drink. Kuro lightly tapped his back, concern was the only emotion he showed. The others were baffled by the response.
“What is that?” Darcy was looking around the group, but they didn’t know.
The only two that seemed to know were Kuro and Dasai.
“You lose every time,” Dasai pointed out.
“But isn’t it really a sport where everyone wins?” Kuro’s grin said a lot, just not much sense to anyone other than Dasai. Fingers ran idly over Kuro’s bare stomach.
“Since none of us know what that is, you have to go again,” Darcy challenged.
“Oh, that answer definitely earned Kuro a point,” Dasai challenged back.
“Point?” Jack questioned.
The only answer he received was Kuro’s blank grin.
Emmett pressed on, “if that wasn’t enough for Darcy, why don’t you tell us all what you like the most about Dasai.”
“What is your obsession?” Dasai growled.
“I’d like to know more about these points,” Jack questioned, getting a nod out of his sister.
“I like his bike,” Kuro grinned at Dasai.
“You’d better like me more,” there was a gleam as he played along.
“Meh,” the tease slipped out. Then belated realization widened his eyes, “I didn’t mean it!”
“Too late,” an evil grin emerged. “Point withdrawn.”
“Dammit,” he sighed. But the glimmer in Dasai’s eyes was also in Kuro’s.
“Do you see what I’ve been telling you?” Emmett asked this of Jack. “Entertaining, right?”
“It’s like their own version of sickeningly adorable,” his laughter was an agreement.
“There is one thing I’d like to know,” Santanah bravely spoke up. They were packing up after their Saturday on the beach.
Dasai and Kuro were folding the blanket, while the others packed up the coolers. They all paused to give Santanah their attention.
Worried about the question, there was hesitation as she gathered courage. “Well, it’s nothing big, I’m just sorta wondering why you call Kuro trash sometimes.”
The question had all eyes turned towards Dasai.
Santanah quietly continued, “just seems a little mean, maybe.”
Dasai’s strong shoulders were emphasized in the muscle shirt he had put back on. Those muscles moved into a shrug. Casually, he explained, “yah well, one person’s trash is another’s treasure.”
Hopeful understanding lit Kuro’s eyes. He rushed forward, dropping the blanket back to the sand. His hands were on Dasai’s neck, pulling them together, “fine, you get the winning point.”
Dasai’s look was smug.
With a chuckle, Emmett shook his head, “only Kuro would hear something so positive in that.”
“Dysfunctional,” Jack shrugged them off.
Arms holding Kuro close shifted so that Dasai could give them all the middle finger. His attention didn’t waiver off the warm lips pressed against his.