Yokozawa tossed his bag beside the bed, heading straight for the window which led onto the veranda and throwing it open to allow a strong breeze to spill into the room.
“Man, how many years has it been since I came to the beach?”
From the veranda he stood on atop this seaside resort hotel, he could glimpse the far horizon, and the sun shone down brilliantly from the utterly cloudless sky. Lowering his gaze, he caught the coastline in his field of vision, dotted with what looked to be hundreds of beachgoers.
Who’d have thought that he’d be able to enjoy such a picturesque summer vacation as this at the age of 28? Since joining the workforce, all of his ‘summer vacations’ had amounted to little more than the hour-or-so train ride each way between his apartment and his parents’ place.
But the entire reason he was where he was right now…was because he’d come along with Kirishima and Hiyori on their family vacation.
While this ‘summer vacation’ had been causing him so much angst of late, he’d eventually been able to rather easily secure three straight days off. Just as Kirishima had assured him, after consulting with his boss and coworkers, the others’ cooperation had allowed him to easily take time off.
They’d been extremely lucky to find two rooms in as nice a hotel as this during such a busy season—all thanks to managing to snap up spaces that had been canceled at the last minute. They’d reserved two rooms with twin beds—try as Kirishima might to persuade him that Hiyori wouldn’t mind at all, Yokozawa couldn’t bring himself to room with a prepubescent girl.
Sorata was staying with Takano, his former owner. Given what had happened between the two of them, the atmosphere between Yokozawa and Takano had been rather stilted and awkward for a period, but with time, feelings had gradually settled down. At this rate, things were bound to eventually go back to the friendship they’d shared when they’d first met.
And Yokozawa was convinced that the reason he was able to see things in such a positive light now…was all thanks to Kirishima. He’d initially felt nothing but irritation when Kirishima had forcibly dragged him out of his dreary days spent wallowing in self-pity, but now he was well and truly grateful.
Granted, it wasn’t like there were no painful feelings left within himself, and the wounds would likely never fully heal. But—that was all in the past as far as Yokozawa was concerned now.
Had he been an uninvolved third party, Yokozawa might have been shocked to learn how his feelings had changed in not even six short months—and truthfully, he was more than a little surprised himself. He couldn’t count the number of times he’d thought, “No way…”, but this did nothing to change the fact that his feelings for Kirishima were growing day by day.
“…And I still haven’t gotten to ask him yet…”
While he ought to have have had a good dozen chances to address it, he’d yet to bring up the issue of Kirishima’s ‘marriage interview’.
“So have you seriously been approached about a marriage interview?”
All he had to do was say something like that, casually and simply, but every time he tried to, his voice caught in his throat. He didn’t have much confidence that he’d be able to keep a straight face if Kirishima admitted that it was true—nor could he imagine how he would react should Kirishima attempt to give another vague response.
If someone had come to him with a problem like this, Yokozawa would’ve undoubtedly advised them to, “Man up and face them properly,” but he remained unable to broach the subject, frustration with his hesitation growing. That contradiction gave birth to stress, which in turn dragged him into a loop of ever deepening despair.
However, Kirishima’s attitude these days also played a large role in Yokozawa’s inability to broach the subject. Lately he’d worn a strange, conflicted expression whenever he checked numbers for incoming calls to his cell phone, and Yokozawa had noticed the guy even purposefully hiding his mail.
Kirishima maintained that nothing was wrong, but if that were truly the case, he wouldn’t be behaving like this. He had to have something he didn’t want Yokozawa to see.
He’d tried checking with Hiyori and even casually consulting Katou, but it seemed that Yokozawa was the only one who had noticed anything strange with Kirishima’s behavior of late. And while he didn’t trust himself, he didn’t suspect the guy was cheating on him. Kirishima wasn’t so low as that, and if he’d truly found someone else he had feelings for…Yokozawa was certain he would tell him, upfront.
But he wanted to be there for him, somehow, if the guy was in trouble—but the fact that Kirishima was acting as if absolutely nothing was wrong…meant he’d judged Yokozawa unreliable in this instance.
The more thought he put into the matter, the more depressed he became, and in contrast to the vast blue sky spreading out before him, Yokozawa’s heart grew steadily darker.
“…Guess I should get changed.”
He shook off the dark turn his thoughts were taking and forced himself to shift his attention elsewhere. He didn’t have time to just space out like this—they were supposed to head straight down to the beach now.
He unzipped his suitcase and pulled out a towel and swim trunks. It’d been too much trouble to worry about digging around in his old closet back at his parents’ place, so he’d gone out and bought a new pair of trunks and beach sandals. Try as he might to play it cool, he’d been a bit embarrassed by how much he seemed to be looking forward to it, but it mattered little so long as Kirishima didn’t find out.
Just as he was loading everything he needed into a plastic bag, the chime to his room sounded. “You ready yet, Oniichan??”
“I’ll be right there—wait just a second,” he responded with a bitter smile at Hiyori, who sounded like she couldn’t wait to get out. He slipped on a beach coat and grabbed the bag which held his lounge seat, exiting the room—where he found Hiyori wearing the adorable bathing suit she’d had her grandmother buy her before summer break and holding a beach ball.
“Sorry for the wait. Have you made sure you haven’t forgotten anything?”
“Yup, everything’s ready! Father helped me check!”
“And what’s that father of yours up to now?”
“He said he’d be right behind me, but…” Just as they turned their gazes to the room next to his, the door opened, and Kirishima stepped out clad in swim trunks, a Hawaiian shirt, and a pair of sunglasses—an outfit that wasn’t normal by any stretch of the imagination. Granted, the inner tube hanging off his shoulder lent him some air of domesticity, but it couldn’t dispel the overall sense of unease that hung about him.
“Sorry to keep you waiting. Took a little time to blow up the swim ring.”
“Sure you aren’t forgetting anything, Father? I’m gonna run on ahead and push the button for the elevator!”
“Be careful not to trip!” Yokozawa called out worriedly as Hiyori dashed off for the elevator, obviously eager to get into the water. It was easy to catch one’s sandal and trip on the rug carpeting the hallway.
As he watched her retreat with worry in his voice, Kirishima raked him up and down with a rude glance, disapproval thick in his voice. “You sure you look lame enough, there?”
“You sure you look gaudy enough, there?”
“Huh? You think? This is the outfit people usually wear at resorts, isn’t it? What—you want me to lend you some of my clothes? I’ve got another Hawaiian shirt in a different color.”
“I’m afraid I’ll have to graciously decline. Why the hell would I want to wear your clothes…?” Yokozawa seldom gave two shits about what other people thought of his clothes, but a chill rippled through him at the mere thought of what they’d look like wearing matching outfits. More so, if he showed up wearing a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses to the beach…he was sure to be thought a mobster.
“You don’t think we should make it clear we’re a lovey-dovey couple head over heels for each other? We’re heading out to the beach in the middle of summer, you know. You might just find yourself getting hit on.”
“Yeah right. And just who are you saying we should make that clear to?” He knew quite well that getting riled up would only serve to amuse Kirishima even further, so the trick was to come off as dispassionate as possible in any response he gave.
“Why, everyone on earth, of course.” He shot a cold glare at the ostensibly serious Kirishima and started forward. “What, you don’t believe me? You should know fully well I’m dead serious here.”
“Yes yes, of course. I get it.” He let Kirishima’s teasing wash over him as he casually sauntered forward, catching Hiyori calling them from up ahead.
“Father, Oniichan! The elevator’s here now!”
“All right, all right! We’re coming, hold your horses!” At her urging, they picked up the pace. Perhaps more than being excited to go to the beach, she was simply thrilled they’d all managed to make it here together as a trio. The whole ride there, she’d gone on and on about how, “It would’ve been even more fun if Sora-chan could’ve come too!”
“Oniichan, have you put on sunscreen yet? Want to use mine?” She held out her tube of lotion to Yokozawa as they boarded the elevator.
“I haven’t put any one, but I’m not all that worried about getting burned.” He was already quite dark from all his time spent out and about on rounds, after all, and couldn’t imagine it would do any good to apply sunscreen now. The bits of himself hidden under his shirt were still fairly pale, but so long as he kept his clothes on, there shouldn’t be any problem.
“You oughta put some on. Want me to do your back?”
“I’m fine.” If he asked Kirishima for such a thing, there was no telling how many miles he’d take from that inch given.
“I wouldn’t underestimate the beach sun, if I were you. What’re you gonna do if you’re bawling later about how much your sunburn hurts?”
“Who the hell’s gonna be bawling? I’ll be fine so long as I keep my shirt on. What, are you telling me you actually put some on?”
“Sure did. I’m the type to burn to a crisp when I’m out in the sun, I hate it. Plus it’d be crazy awkwared to saunter in to meet authors who’ve been holed up in their rooms while clearly looking like I just had a ton of fun on vacation.”
“You editors sure do have it rough—but I don’t have to worry about that kind of thing, and I tan perfectly well.” After all, it could prove an effective conversation starter, and many of his coworkers were already dark from days spent out golfing. There was no reason for him to feel that put out.
“…Have it your way, but don’t come crying to me later.”
“Mind your own business; Hiyo! Let’s make sure to grab a spot on the beach first. Is there anything in particular you want to do?”
“Hmm—I wanna ride a banana boat! And then…”
He let Kirishima’s warning flow in one ear and out the other, turning his focus instead to hashing out the day’s plan with Hiyori.
“All right, thank you for waiting! We have one mixed berry, one ujikintoki, and one pineapple mango for you. Be careful not to drop them, now!”
The young man working at the seaside shop passed over their cups of shaved ice, and Hiyori merrily took them in both hands. They’d finally managed to purchase all three that they’d waited so long in line for.
“Hiyo—think you can manage to hold on to two of them at once?”
“Yup, I’ll be fine! Thank goodness it wasn’t sold out!”
Hiyori had been the one to choose all three flavors. When Yokozawa had reminded her that anything was fine with him, so long as it was cool, she’d chosen for him. Given that the treats were flavored with not just syrup but fruit topping as well, one false step that caused a loss of balance and the whole thing would come tumbling down. It seemed that the syrups for the seasonal flavors were sold out, but as the mixed berry flavor that Hiyori had been wanting to try was still available, all ended well.
“If we don’t hurry, they look like they’ll melt.”
“Ooh, we’d better get going then! Papa might just fall asleep waiting for us!” Hiyori had, of late, started to call Kirishima, “Father,” but she still occasionally let her guard down around Yokozawa and slipped back into calling him, “Papa.” She likely still wasn’t quite used to the new name yet. Considering how it was actually quite adorable, this habit of hers, his mind drifted to Kirishima who’d been sleeping beneath the parasol they’d rented.
“He’s been sleeping since we arrived, hasn’t he?”
Kirishima had been placed in charge of watching over their things, opting for a nap over much swimming in the ocean. Yokozawa had been admittedly amazed he was able to fall asleep in such a hot location, but perhaps that just went to show how exhausted the guy had been.
“Well, Father seems like he was pretty busy this week…”
“You’ve got a point. He took time off for Obon, after all, so he was probably pushing himself.” Before they’d set out on this vacation, Kirishima had been working at full-throttle. He’d even asked his parents to look after Hiyori for days in a row, stating that he wouldn’t be home until late.
And of course, Yokozawa had been busy visiting his parents on the weekends and hurrying to finish up the work he needed to turn in after their vacation ended, so this was actually the first time the three of them had had a chance to relax and spend some time together since they’d visited that theme park before.
“I wonder…if it’s my fault? Since I was the one who said I really wanted to go on a trip together…”
“Well—he wasn’t working hard just for you, you know. It was because he wanted to go on a vacation himself—with you. It was the same for me, too. The whole reason I was able to work as hard as a I did to make this happen was because I wanted to come here with you.”
“Yup. I mean, look at how much he’s sleeping—he ought to be back to full strength soon, don’t you think? Let’s hurry up and get this shaved ice to him.”
“Right! Let’s go, Oniichan!”
“Watch out—hurrying’s fine and all, but don’t let your feet slip in the sand and trip you up.” But Hiyori only ran on, the shaved ice held firmly in both hands.
Because they’d arrived at the beach relatively late into the day, most of the really good locations had already been taken. As such, they’d had to settle down pretty far away from the beachfront shop they’d just visited, and ignoring Kirishima—who’d decided to take an afternoon nap—Yokozawa had set off to play together with Hiyori. They’d been completely mistaken for father and daughter, but that was a hell of a lot better than being mistaken for some creepy pedophile chasing after little girls, and he and Hiyori had exchanged glances every time she’d called him “Father” before collapsing into giggles.
They were planning on having a barbecue the next day, having realized that they could make reservations in advance and have all of the utensils and ingredients prepared for them ahead of time—quite convenient.
“Umm…excuse me, but…are you here alone?” Yokozawa found himself called out to as he stood there fondly watching Hiyori scamper off. As he turned to glance over his shoulder, he found a pair of brunettes, both with dark tans, standing near him. Their eyes were weighed down with dark eyeliner and false lashes, and they stared up as they batted their heavy lids at him.
“Oh—no, I’m not.”
“Then—are you here with some friends or…?”
“Ah, something…like that…”
They weren’t exactly his friends, but he didn’t feel the need to go out of his way to correct the misconception. Convinced the girls were simply trying to hawk some wares or something, he tried to shake them off, but he froze at the words that followed next: “Well, we’re here alone, actually, so…would you like to come grab a beer with us? We kinda brought too much with us~”
At the invitation, he finally twigged to the fact that they were hitting on him. Mentally shaking his head in disbelief, he politely declined the offer. “I’m sorry but—I’ve actually got a child with me, so I’ll have to be on my way.”
“Huh? A child? You’ve got a kid?!”
Hiyori was hardly his own child, but it wasn’t lying to say he was here with her. He gave a small nod before turning his gaze back to Hiyori who’d run ahead of him. She’d gained quite a lead on him while he’d been stuck here talking to these girls, and now there was a fair stretch between the two of them.
“Dammit…” He managed to spot her in the crowd and hustled to catch up with her—but just as he was about to call out to her to wait where she was for him, a group of people walking in the opposite direction bumped into Hiyori.
“Hiyo?!” At Hiyori’s scream and recoil, all of the blood in Yokozawa’s body rushed to his head. He shoved the shaved ice he held into the nearest trashcan he could find and rushed to her side. “Are you all right?!”
“O—Oniichan…” The gaze she turned upon him was steeped in worry, and he forced her up in an effort to calm her fears, checking her over for bumps and bruises.
“Are you hurt anywhere?”
“No, I’m fine—but the shaved ice…”
Yokozawa cast his gaze about them, only to find that the shaved ice had been completely spilled when she’d used both hands to keep herself from falling forward. While most of it had been spilled onto Hiyori herself, a bit of syrup had splashed onto one of the group’s t-shirt.
“Hey, old man—’s this your kid? What’re you intending on doing about this? She got it all over me!”
“Ah, but I…”
“You trying to make excuses, brat?!”
Yokozawa hid Hiyori behind himself, where she stood cowering. The group standing before them were young men who still had some youth from their childhood left in their faces—but while they may have looked like children for the most part, they were obviously behaving like little punks. Just a bunch of spoiled local middle- or high-school brats.
Their haphazardly bleached hair was clearly damaged, and their ears were full of several piercings each. It was sheer luck that Hiyori hadn’t been caught by one of the cheap-looking accessories gaudily decorating their wrists.
“And who the hell are you?”
“This kid bumped into us and spilled shit all over my shirt! You’re gonna take responsibility for it, right?”
“Huh? You‘re the ones who bumped into her. You’re supposed to do the apologizing here,” Yokozawa returned, attempting to intimidate the snotty brats trying to pick a fight, and while they did quell a bit, they continued to cling to their claim.
“That’s some nerve you’ve got when you didn’t even see what happened, old man!”
“I’m speaking up here precisely because I saw what happened. And anyway, you should be ashamed of yourselves, threatening a little girl like this.”
“Shut the fuck up! Stop making excuses and just fork over the dry cleaning fee!”
“Oh, so now we’re resorting to extortion are we?” He released a beleaguered sigh, realizing he’d stumbled into quite an annoying situation now, and reminded himself that this never would’ve happened if he hadn’t let himself get separated from Hiyori.
“You’ve been looking down on us since the moment you showed up—you wanna get your ass kicked that badly, huh?” The kid who seemed to be the group’s leader was clearly trying to cut him a harsh glare, but the more-than-ten centimeters of height separating the two of them left Yokozawa feeling more like a little puppy was yipping at him.
“You do realize that’s what they call blackmail, right?” He didn’t want to get too menacing in front of Hiyori, but neither did he want her to have to fear them any more than she already did. Had there been any lifeguards or police around, he would’ve left this to them to deal with, but unfortunately, there was no one around who looked even remotely helpful.
Then—just as he was wracking his mind how best to deal with this situation, Kirishima appeared at his side. “What’s going on, Yokozawa? Something up?”
With his Hawaiian shirt and brand-name sunglasses, Kirishima looked like far from your average beachgoer, and Hiyori threw herself at him, clinging to him tightly.
“What the hell—didn’t you two just buy these?” The upturned shaved ice had already melted, turning the sand below brilliant colors.
“I dropped it…”
“No, she didn’t drop it—these kids made her drop it.”
“And who the hell are they?”
“Damned if I know. They bumped into her on purpose then blamed her for it. Sounds like they were trying to bleed some money out of her.”
“The fuck—she’s the one who bumped into us! What proof do you have otherwise?!”
“I’m a witness.”
“Someone who knows her can’t be a witness! Whatever, just man up and take responsibility!”
“That’ll come off with a quick dip in the ocean, for one, and you’re the ones who ought to be manning up in the first place, for another. Plus you owe us for three portions of shaved ice.”
“Like hell we’re paying for that!”
“Ah, I see—so you don’t have enough, is it? What’re your names? Where do you go to school, and what year are you? Can you give us your parents’ contact information, then?”
“Huh?! What the hell does our school have to do with anything?!”
“Well, you’re all underage. We’ll simply have to discuss the subject of your taking responsibility for your actions with your teachers and parents.”
“They don’t have anything to do with this…! Wait—hey, what the fuck are you taking our pictures for?!”
“Well, we’re filing a report with the police, so it’s best to make sure they can easily identify who we’re complaining about, right? This is just in case you decide to make a break for it, that’s all.” A moment later, the sound of three buttons being pressed on a cell phone came up, and the boys seemed to have finally realized just who Kirishima was calling.
“Th—that’s not fair! Just because you’re adults, you—!”
“Don’t you think it’s less fair for you to be acting like innocent children now? You bump into an elementary school kid and then threaten her for payment—and you still call yourself men?”
“…Asshole, spitting out a bunch of high-handed bullshit and looking down on us…!” One of the group snapped and rushed forward, fist raised to deliver a punch.
“Oops—but you’re never gonna land a punch swinging your fist around like that.”
“Dammit, stand still!”
“Owowowoww!! Le—lemme go! That hurts, dammit!” Kirishima grabbed the arm of one of the boys and twisted it up behind his back, and in that moment, Yokozawa flashed back to the time he’d found himself on the receiving end of such a move as well. It’d hurt like hell.
The remaining few followers of the group gave them a wide berth, clearly not wanting to be involved in the affair. “We’ll overlook this for now, so get the hell out of here. And you’d better not try stupid shit like this again.”
“We’re the ones who’re letting you off easy! You’d better be prepared next time we see you!” Obviously deeming themselves outmatched by two rather large adults, the punk kids spit out their parting words and then made off. Yokozawa watched them nearly trip over one another as they dashed off, and then let out a sigh.
“God, what a bunch of stupid brats. I’d love to see the parents responsible for that.”
“They probably don’t give a shit. You okay, Hiyo? You must’ve been scared.” Kirishima squatted before Hiyori and peered into her face, her expression showing she was on the verge of tears. As he caressed her head, her stiff features eased slightly.
“Only…only a little bit. But—Oniichan came right away, so I was all right. But…now we can’t eat the shaved ice because of me…” She picked up the empty cups, her shoulders slumped in disappointment. All that remained on the sand now was color left behind by the syrup and the fruit topping.
“Don’t sweat it; it wasn’t your fault. I’ll clean up here and head back to get some more shaved ice. You had some kind of berry milk something, right?”
“But—you’ll have to stand in that long line again, won’t you?” She directed her gaze beyond them to the snaking line at the stand.
“I’m sure it’ll be my turn in no time. It went by in a flash earlier, right? Now—you don’t want your bathing suit to stain, so run and take a shower with your Papa.”
“All right then… Mind if I leave it to you?”
“I’ll take care of it. Forget those stupid brats. None of this was your fault in the least.”
“‘Kay.” But her smile was still strained; in all likelihood she was still blaming herself deep down.
Hoping to help distract her, even just a little bit, Yokozawa opened his mouth. “Oh right, Hiyo—I forgot to mention something.”
“What is it?”
“You know you said ‘Papa’ before, right?”
“Ah…!” Her sullen features instantly flared bright red—she definitely had done it unconsciously, then. He’d only pointed it out in an effort to get her to forget how scared she’d just been, and catching on to Yokozawa’s intention, Kirishima confronted Hiyori himself.
“I have to admit, being called ‘Papa’ does have an adorable ring to it…”
“Th—that was just on accident, that’s all!”
“And having Hiyo cling to me like that for the first time in what felt like forever…I’m just all choked up now! I thought she’d grown up on me, but she’s still Daddy’s Little Girl, I see.”
“I told you I was just flustered before, really! Now—let’s go rinse off, Father!” Perhaps because she didn’t want anyone to see how red her face was, she puffed out her cheeks and whirled around to place her back to the two of them.
As Yokozawa bent down to pick up the cups, though, Kirishima spoke to him in a soft register, “…Thanks for looking after her.”
“Only did the obvious—now get going,” he bit back curtly, in an effort to hide his own flush, but Kirishima must have seen right through him, for his shoulders shook in laughter.
“Shit…this is pretty bad…” he sighed, casting a glance over his shoulder to take in his back in the bathroom mirror—when the chime announcing someone at his door sounded. Hurrying to throw a shirt on, he checked the peephole and found Kirishima on the other side.
“Here I am~!”
“…Would you mind leaving, then?” He half-considered shutting the door again at the knowing way Kirishima announced himself, but understanding that Kirishima would make a scene if he did so, he eventually invited the guy inside with only mild disbelief.
“C’mon, I just wanted to try introducing myself like that once in my life. But now that I’m here—let’s have a drink.” Clad in one of the yukata provided by the hotel, Kirishima lifted his hand to show the bottle of shochuu he held. The plastic bag he held in his other hand seemed to be full of mineral water for prepping mizuwari.
“And what the hell is that?”
“Bought it from the shop downstairs earlier. Apparently it’s a local specialty.”
“You sure came prepared.” He’d known Kirishima had been poking around the shop, but he hadn’t imagined the guy would actually go and buy booze. He’d probably checked out while Yokozawa had been busy helping Hiyori pick out souvenirs.
“I brought some ice, too. And I took the liberty of borrowing some of Hiyori’s snacks as well.”
“Just make sure you buy her more later. Is she already asleep?” he questioned as he took out two glasses.
“Yup; her battery was shot the moment she got out of the bath. Anyone would be exhausted after playing that much. From the looks of things, she won’t wake ’til morning.” Indeed, she’d been wobbling like a ship about to sink all during dinner at the hotel’s restaurant earlier.
“She seemed like she was pretty tired even at dinner. And you too—you’ve gotta be exhausted from work. There’s still tomorrow; why not turn in early?”
“Well thanks to a certain someone, I had a nice nap earlier this afternoon and am feeling pretty recharged. In fact—I might’ve overdone it a bit; I’m not tired at all now.”
“You idiot—you’re not a kid anymore.” It seemed that while Yokozawa and Hiyori had been off playing, Kirishima had actually fallen asleep.
“Nah, it’s fine. But c’mon—hang out with me for a bit here. That’s an order from your superior.”
“You’re not my direct superior, you know.” Sure, given their roles within the company, Kirishima was above him, but they were in completely different departments, and the guy was therefore in no position to be giving him orders.
“Then would you comply with an earnest request from your lover?”
“God you’re annoying; if I didn’t want you here, I wouldn’t have let you inside in the first place.”
“Ooh, what’s this? I do believe you’re keeping the tsun factor low this evening.”
To tell the truth, Yokozawa hadn’t been able to sleep either. With the passing hours, his sunburned skin had started to sting, and even the slightest touch sent a shudder of pain through him by now. While his face and arms, which had already been tanned, weren’t all that bad off, his back—exposed to the sun for the first time this summer—was sensitive from stem to stern. He didn’t expect he’d be able to sleep properly tonight at all.
“So hey—why aren’t you wearing a yukata? I was looking forward to it…”
“It was too small—not like I could help it. Is that something you’d typically ‘look forward to’? And—why the hell is yours so huge?” He’d hardly ever found a yukata provided by a hotel or inn that fit him, so he typically always brought his own roomwear. But taking Kirishima in once more now, the hem reached down to his ankles, and the sleeves weren’t a strange length.
“The one in our room was too small, so I had it exchanged for a new one. Good thing, since I didn’t bring along any pajamas. Want me to ask for one for you too while we’re at it?”
“There’s no point in going through the effort. It’d probably just annoy them if we asked for it at this time of ni—oww!” He’d tried to settle down onto the sofa, letting out a yelp of pain. He’d completely forgotten about his sunburn standing here talking with Kirishima.
“See, I told you to put on sunscreen!” Kirishima laughed as he downed his mizuwari, glancing over at Yokozawa’s pained expression from out of the corner of his eye.
“I thought I’d be fine so long as I kept my shirt on…”
“Sure—but you stripped it off almost immediately complaining that you were hot. The back of your neck is beet red, too. But then—I figured this would happen, and I come bearing gifts.” He waved around a bottle of what turned out to be cooling gel for treating sunburn. “I brought some children’s stuff just in case, but Hiyo didn’t seem to need any. Want me to rub it onto your back for you?”
“It’s fine—I’ll do it myself.” He snatched the bottle from Kirishima’s hands—if he were to ask the guy to do that, there was no telling what liberties he’d take.
The sunburn was due to burning from UV rays, so the only way to achieve any measure of relief was to just cool himself off. Pushing up his shirt, he began to apply the chilly gel to his skin. Given that it was meant for use in children, it lacked the menthol element, but it was still cool enough to feel good. However, he had to strain to reach the portions of his back most severely burned.
“I told you I’d do it for you—come on, give it here.”
“And I said it’s fine!”
“God you’re so damn shy.”
“I’m not shy, I keep telling you!” He tugged his shirt back down and twisted to hide his back. It was ridiculous—he’d been frolicking around all afternoon in nothing more than a thin pair of swim trunks, and now he felt awkward? In an effort to hide his embarrassment, he changed the subject of his own accord. “Still, we really should’ve settled things with those punks earlier. Hell, I was gonna grab ‘em and hand them off to the cops.”
“Not like we could help it. I had no idea they were wanted for other crimes, after all.” They’d contacted the authorities about the brats, which was when they’d been notified of other unfortunate incidents involving the kids. It seemed they’d been targeting children of families visiting the beach and extorting money from them. The reason they hadn’t been caught as of yet had likely been because all of their victims had been tourists, hoping to avoid any inconveniences by not submitting a police report.
Hiyori had been spooked, to be sure, but given that she hadn’t been harmed and hadn’t actually been robbed, it had apparently been difficult for the police to get involved. In an effort to do as much as they could to help, though, they’d taken the picture Kirishima had snapped of the kids.
“Hope they manage to catch them soon, if nothing else…”
“Given how they acted, I’m sure they’ll come out of hiding again shortly. They said they’d up the number of patrol officers, after all, so I doubt they’ll remain free for long.”
“…So did Hiyo mention still being spooked any since then?” That had been the only thing he’d truly been concerned about. Even if she hadn’t suffered any physical harm, she might’ve earned emotional scars. Fearing that making a big deal out of it would only weigh on Hiyori, Yokozawa had avoided touching on the discussion any.
“You showed up quickly, so I doubt she’s suffered any trauma or anything. Quite the contrary, she kept going on and on about how awesome her Oniichan had been. I’ve gotta admit, I actually felt a little jealous, to be honest.”
“Excuse me? What the hell is the point of being jealous of your own daughter?” he gaped in shock at Kirishima’s confession. While he initially considered that it had merely been a bad joke, it seemed that he’d actually been a little irritated. Honestly, there were limits to behaving like a child.
“Can you blame me? I wanted to see you acting all badass, too.”
“‘Badass‘…? I didn’t do much of anything, you know. In fact, if I hadn’t taken my eyes off of her…” If he hadn’t let himself get separated from Hiyori, she wouldn’t have had to go through such a harrowing experience, he reminded himself dejectedly. Having her experience something so horrible on the trip she’d been so looking forward to had been the last thing he’d wanted.
“Maybe, but you saved her, so everything worked out in the end, right? Besides—I’m her parent, I should’ve been watching her myself. When you get down to it, I’m the one at fault here.”
“Thats—” He tried to refute the point, before realizing that this was just a circular argument. As he swallowed his words, Kirishima ended the conversation on his own.
“Let’s just—stop arguing about who’s at fault. You’ll probably wind up kicking your own ass even if I don’t say anything, after all. Besides—the real ones at fault are those punk kids.”
“…You’ve got a point.” Kirishima obviously saw right through Yokozawa, reading him like a book, and he always wound up getting the jump on Yokozawa.
“And really, I think Hiyo was more concerned with how she accidentally called me ‘Papa’. Think I teased her too much?”
“If you don’t rein it in, she’s gonna grow to hate you, you know.”
While Yokozawa had only brought up the quirk in an effort to distract her from her worries, he might have actually hurt her feelings, he was realizing.
“I’m sure it’s fine. Though give it another few years and she’ll probably not want to hold hands with me anymore… Ugh, I guess this means we’ll have to get these family trips over with during elementary school, huh…”
Yokozawa felt his heart seize at Kirishima’s obvious dejection. It seemed he was still worrying over what Yokozawa had said before—thinking that perhaps he’d gone too far, he tried to encourage him.
“…Come on, I’m sure Hiyo’ll be fine.”
“She’s crazy about you, after all—she’ll never call you ’gross’ or anything. Not with the way she brags about you behind you back.”
“…Are you trying to cheer me up?”
“Got a problem with it?” He grew uncomfortable under the leer Kirishima was fixing upon him.
“Guess I’m really loved, huh?”
“Don’t get carried away.”
“C’mon, don’t get embarrassed~”
Kirishima slapped him on the back—”Oww—!!”—and he let out a yelp of pain. The skin stinging from his sunburn was overly sensitive to even the lightest of touches. He turned a reproachful glare on Kirishima, who immediately offered a wry smile of embarrassment.
“Ah—sorry, my bad. I forgot.”
“Give me a fucking break—if you did that on purpose I swear I’ll…!” Thanks to the gel, a great deal of the stinging burn had been relieved, but the bits of his back he hadn’t been able to reach still ached fiercely. At this point, it was best to just take another cool shower.
“…I’m gonna take another shower. I can’t sleep like this.” Granted, all of the gel he’d rubbed on would be washed away under the spray, but he hoped to use this opportunity to cool down both his body and mind.
He entered the shower room, stripping off his clothes and tossing them to the side, then doused himself with cool water from his head down. As his flushed body cooled under the spray, the pain began to lessen. Now that the pain was less intense than before, he could probably get to sleep so long as he stayed lying face-down.
He stood there letting the spray pelt him, like a monk-in-training, when he became aware of the glass door sliding open. Turning around in concern, he found Kirishima standing right behind him.
“Wha—what the hell are you doing?!”
“I’m getting in, too—scoot over.” He’d already stripped off his yukata and underwear, pushing his way into the shower booth completely nude, and while it was hardly the first time Yokozawa had seen him in such a state, he unconsciously averted his gaze.
“If you want to shower, use your own tub!” The stall was far too cramped to comfortably accommodate two men over 180 cm in height. Standing blocking the door as Kirishima was prevented anyone else from entering or leaving.
“…You’ve got to know that I didn’t come here for a shower, right?”
“Th—then at least wait for me outside!”
Kirishima’s arms snaked around his sides to settle at his hips, tugging him close to whisper into his ear, “I can’t wait anymore.”
“………?!” Yokozawa’s breath caught at the confession.
“You remember I told you…you’d better prepared, right? How’d that fantasizing go?”
“Who the hell would—”
“You would; at least, that’s what your expression suggests.”
“I didn’t—” And he hadn’t really indulged in any clear fantasies. Indeed—he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He didn’t have enough experience to even try to imagine. Even if he had the basic knowledge of what might happen, it was difficult to place himself in such a situation.
“So…what’d you imagine?”
“I told you, I didn’t…!” He ducked his head, desperate to keep Kirishima from seeing his face—and in retaliation, Kirishima pressed a soft kiss to his nape. The skin, already flushed from the sunburn, ran even hotter now.
“I imagined all sorts of things myself. About what I’d do to you…”
“But first—I’m gonna wash your body.”
“Thanks, but no thanks—I’m not a child.”
“Don’t worry; I’ll be sure to do things to you I’d never do with a child as well.”
“That’s not what I mean—” But his protests seemed to fall on deaf ears, and taking the amenity body soap in hand, Kirishima worked up a lather and slowly began rubbing it into his back. The palms brushed gently over him so as not to aggravate his sensitive skin, giving rise to brand new sensations. He struggled to bite back the sighs threatening to spill from his lips, but Kirishima’s hands continued their lewd assault.
“Geez, you’re really scorched… You’ve even got tan lines from your trunks, now.”
“Don’t—touch them!” He swatted at the fingers that had begun to trace along the lines around his hips but failed to deter Kirishima entirely—he ought to have grabbed him by the wrists to stop him from moving altogether. “Hey—wait—” Despite knowing full well it was pretty much useless to order him to stop, he couldn’t just stand here and take this. But as expected, Kirishima continued to press on, heedless of Yokozawa’s desires.
His fingers wriggled against him like living things, working Yokozawa to new heights, and the sensation of that combined with the smooth glide of the body soap very nearly drew Yokozawa to cry out. “Ha…ng…!”
“You know…you can be as loud as you want in here. No one outside’ll hear you. You don’t have to hold back like usual.”
“!!” Regardless of the fact that no one else would be able to hear him, he could hardly stand to let himself cry out in some humiliating tone. After all, the person he’d want least to hear him in such a state was standing right here.
“And what good would that do either of us? What, you gonna let me watch you jerk off?”
“Who the hell would let you…”
“I suppose you’ve got a point. I’m better at it, after all.”
“That’s not what I—” But Kirishima brushed his fingers over the tip, and Yokozawa’s spine melted. Gritting his teeth, he bit back the moan that threatened to spill from his lips—and Kirishima’s hands explored further.
If he just let all thought and logic float away, he might be able to get through this without feeling so ashamed all the time—but for some reason he was always so overly aware of Kirishima’s actions. Hell, high-school kids these days were probably more sophisticated than Yokozawa at this point.
Maybe if they hadn’t been so far apart in age, he wouldn’t be so aware—the way Kirishima impressed upon him the difference in their levels of experience just aggravated this complex within him.
“Well that was fast.”
“Shut…the fuck up…” His breath was coming in pants, but he at least had the strength left to spit out a curse or three.
His body he’d just cooled down under the shower spray was steadily heating up once more, and by this point, he was fit to burst with the heat welling up within him. Desperate for an end, he found himself unable to hold back anymore—and when Kirishima gripped him tightly, the space before his eyes went white. “Ha—ah…ngh!”
He met his climax eagerly, shuddering as milky white streams spurted forth. At length, his trembling eased, and he released a sigh in the wake of his climax, letting the sensations of release and languidness filter through him.
Just as he’d finally managed to get his breathing back to normal, though, Kirishima favored him with words of praise. “There’s a good boy~”
“Stifle.” The compliment that seemed more fitting for a child who’d just managed a handstand grated, and he sluggishly extended a hand to turn off the shower’s faucet. The milky strands of Yokozawa’s ejaculate mixed with the bubbles dripping down his body and swirled together into the drain, and as he stood under the chilled spray, so too did his mind start to cool down.
After several long minutes when he’d finally calmed down, he jerked his glance to the side and jolted. “…So what’re you gonna do about that?” Kirishima’s cock, just in his field of vision, jutted up almost comically hard and wanting, and his brazen, open stance left Yokozawa feeling strangely embarrassed, unable to fix his gaze directly despite the fact that they were both men.
“You’re gonna take care of it, of course. Now let’s see…seeing as it’s a special occasion, maybe I’ll have you suck me off?” He reached out a hand and cupped Yokozawa’s chin—and the suggestive glint in his eye and the way he traced a finger along his bottom lip sent a shudder of anticipation down his spine. “…Buuuut I’m pretty sure that’d be too tall an order. I doubt you’ve ever done that, after all.”
“I—can manage that, at least,” he protested reflexively. Maybe it’d been Kirishima’s intention all along to challenge him into agreeing, but Yokozawa at least understood well enough that it was mostly desperation on his part. Regret immediately welled up within him, but he had no intention of taking back what he’d just vowed. “But I don’t wanna hear any complaints if I’m shit at it.”
He knelt in place and stretch a hand out to grip Kirishima’s cock—when Kirishima, uncharacteristically flustered, responded with, “Are—are you serious?”
“You really think I’d joke about something like this?”
“You don’t have to push yourself, seriously.” The hesitant tone in his voice suggested that his earlier challenge had been little more than a teasing joke. Maybe he assumed that Yokozawa was simply tipsy right now—but he’d hardly ingested enough alcohol this evening to impair his judgment. If anything, he was probably drunk on this trip itself.
“Pipe down if you don’t wanna get bitten,” he reminded sharply, then turned his face away and clamped down on the part of him that wanted to flinch before opening his mouth widely. He laved his tongue along the underside of Kirishima’s cock, licking a long stripe up the shaft to the tip.
“You’re seriously…?!” Kirishima’s murmurs of disbelief filtered down into Yokozawa’s ears, and truthfully, Yokozawa himself was having a hard time believing how rashly he was behaving tonight.
This was the first time he’d ever attempted fellatio with anyone—while he’d never been particularly disgusted by the thought of doing it, any time he’d imagined himself in this situation, he’d grown faint with the sense of being overwhelmed.
“If—if it’s too much for you, you can stop whenever you want, got it?”
“I told you to pipe down.”
He’d never had feelings for all that many people before, so while he couldn’t be entirely sure of what he was, he was quite certain that he wasn’t gay. He’d never been aroused by the body of just any random other man, after all, and he’d had a girlfriend or two as well over the years. Hell, he never would’ve imagined before today that he’d ever have reason to shove another man’s cock into his mouth.
He’d never even had it done to himself all that often, either, and as he recalled how Kirishima could count himself as one of those lucky few partners, he swatted away the feelings of shame that threatened to rise up and continued to insistently move his tongue around.
He glanced up through lidded eyes to find Kirishima’s brows knit almost painfully, his breath short and stilted—crappy as Yokozawa’s technique may have been, Kirishima was obviously turned on by it, which relieved Yokozawa to no end.
Having come this far, he vowed to make the guy climax even by sheer force of will, and as he suckled eagerly on the tip, Kirishima’s cock swelled within his mouth. The slide of skin against skin, the heat, the pulsing he could feel through their contact sent the blood rushing to his head.
“Nn…hngh…!” The fingers Kirishima had threaded through his hair groped around to the back of his head, and Yokozawa shrugged at the lightly tickling sensation before batting away Kirishima’s fingers when the attentions caused him to lose focus.
Determined now, he worked his tongue even more fiercely, desperately forcing Kirishima further and further along. But while he was quite comfortable with starting this whole process, he wasn’t entirely clear on how to end it. He tried remembering the times he’d had it done to himself, but he’d always been utterly overwhelmed and couldn’t recall any details.
Plus he could hardly ask the guy right now, and he never would’ve imagined he’d be struggling more with confusion than shame at this point.
After some internal debate, he decided to end it by bringing Kirishima off with his hand like usual, and gauging his timing carefully, he moved to pull his mouth away—when he found his head gripped tightly and held in place.
Kirishima had been standing nice and quietly this whole time, but now he began to thrust down Yokozawa’s throat, and just as the sensation of Kirishima’s cock scraping along the roof of his mouth became nigh unbearable, his mouth was filled with spurts of a warm liquid.
“?!” He jerkily swallowed what he could, and at length, Kirishima’s grip on him weakened. Yokozawa snapped his gaze up and released a hacking cough, wiping his lips with the back of his hand. “The fuck were you…?!”
“Sorry—I couldn’t help it…”
“The hell you ‘couldn’t help it’—you did that on purpose!” Try as he might to deny it, Yokozawa felt definite willful intent in Kirishima’s grip on him. His throat still felt as if something were scraping against it, and while swallowing hadn’t been entirely distasteful to him, the gall the guy had to try and pull one over on him grated more than anything.
He glared up at Kirishima, who returned an utterly unapologetic apology, “I told you, it was my fault—here, want me to do you too to make up for it?”
“Th—thanks, but no thanks!” He attempted to ease out of the booth, but his foot immediately bumped against the glass door—he knew there was nowhere to run.
“Now now, don’t be shy. We’ve got all night.”
His breath caught in his throat, and Kirishima took his chin in one hand, urging him forward. Yokozawa couldn’t tear himself away from that scorching gaze Kirishima fixed upon him.