wendyjoly: (sakumiya)
[personal profile] wendyjoly
Title: “The kettle pot and the cat”…and advices of all sorts
Authors: [livejournal.com profile] wendyjoly
Genre: Romance
Type: Multichapter
Rating: PG-13 – NC-17
Fandoms: Arashi (main), mentioned also members of V6, Kanjani8, News, Mao Inoue, Ikuta Toma, Kubota Masataka, Ayano Go, Takei Emi, Ueno Juri, Aragaki Yui
Pairing: Sakumiya
Summary: Sho Sakurai is a brilliant attorney but his love life is a total failure. After an umpteenth break up he accepts to take an appointment with a love coach.
Beta : [livejournal.com profile] jtaytt
Notes : Written for my Dear half-brain [livejournal.com profile] skyfish_7 for the JE united exchange

Not a night passed without Sho waking with an aching hard-on, his brain full of dangerously sexy images of Nino. Nino on his lap, Nino on his knees, Nino at his knees…but each morning brought its share of disappointment.
Nino refused to answer his calls and Sho couldn’t possibly show himself at the bookstore. He had to respect Nino’s wish as painful as it seemed. He couldn’t force him and embarrass himself by being publicly rejected. Well embarrassing himself wasn’t really a problem, his curiosity was far more embarrassing than his pride.
Sho admitted gladly than the kiss he shared with Nino has been a revelation. They were in public, in a nightclub and he was angry with this Toma guy, they talked about cucumber and bananas and sex and, it felt amazing. Then Nino was gone and God knows what they did all night long together. Well Sho could totally picture what the hell they did, probably what he had wished to do with Nino if he hadn’t run away so fast.

“Ken? Ken?” Sho pushed the button on his phone to call his secretary who finally answered after several fruitless tries.
“Excuse me I was with Mister Nagase, he needed me…” The messy hair and the wrinkled suit betrayed the cute secretary. This man was a precious secretary, attentive and cheerful but he was fanciful too. Sho was perfectly aware about the relationship he had with their boss, Nagase Tomoya. It was an open secret that everybody in the office shared.

“Could you please call Mister Ninomiya?”
“Again?!” Ken rolled his eyes and Sho knitted his eyebrows with reprobation.
“Yes again.” He simply stated, going back to his file. A few minutes later, when Ken came back he had the I-have-some-bad-news-for-you face. Sho sighed out of desperation, he didn’t even want to hear it again. He doesn’t want to talk to you. Sho couldn’t understand why was that kiss so wonderful if they didn’t share the same feelings?

“…By the way, I have what you asked for Mister Sakurai, Mister Nagase found what you wanted.”
“You have the number?”
“And the address.” Ken said enthusiastically, visibly happy to cheer up his moody boss. He stepped forward and handed Sho a note with a phone number and an address.
“Tell Nagase I’ll be back in two hours.” Sho rushed out under the dumbfounded gaze of his secretary. Ken didn’t recognize him and to be totally honest, Sho didn’t recognize himself either.
When he came back to the office much later, two men were waiting for him.

“Mister Sakurai, we already met.” The taller said, reaching out to shake his hand. “We’re Aiba Masaki and Matsumoto Jun, Nino’s friends.”
“I know who you are. Come into my office please.” Sho stepped aside to make room for his guests, wondering why the two men took the pain to come all the way to his office.

Ken brought them a tray with a tea set and as soon as the door closed Jun opened the fire.

“Nino asked us to take care of you from now. He doesn’t want to coach you anymore.”
Ouch. Sho felt his heart clenching painfully. “I see.” Sho would lie if he asserted that he didn’t see it coming but it hurt nonetheless.
“Let me be blunt with you.” Jun kept on. “We don’t want to coach you. Nino pushes you away because he thinks you’re not interested in a relationship with a man. With him to be precise. Yet we’re thinking he’s wrong, are we?”

Sho chuckled, embarrassed by Matsumoto’s forthrightness. Were they all that honest in this bookstore?! Yet he couldn’t deny the flash of hope suddenly bursting, comforting him in his feelings.

“To be totally honest, I never thought I could have something with a man and I don’t know what I feel for Nino. But there is something, you’re right. Not seeing him is…damn painful.”
“It’s a good start.” Masaki smiled, patting his lover’s thigh.
“And if it’s only lust?” Sho spoke his concerns. He always chose girls according his plan of life but being with Nino was so far from it.
“What’s wrong with lust?” Masaki pouted adorably.
“Do you plan to lay him and let him down?” Jun asked, taking a sip of tea.
“Of course not!”
“So it’s not only lust. You can be good to each other. I don’t know if you’ll spend your life together, no one knows, but who cares? Each journey begins with a single step…and lust is a good beginning.”
“He refuses to see me.”
“And you’re an attorney, convince him.”

Sho smiled sincerely. He could do that. Definitely.

He wasn’t a stalker. That’s what Sho repeated to himself again and again while pacing on the sidewalk facing Nino’s bookstore. The place was packed tonight, people were coming and going, each time exiting the shop with a smile from ear to ear.
This man was a magician, he could enlighten the day of each and every person he met. Sho observed him for a long time fascinated by all those so endearing details he discovered as he watched him from afar. He always knew Nino was cute but seeing him interacting with his clients, Sho found him beautiful. The main question –and the reason why he couldn’t open the door of the shop and talk to Nino- was if he could have a relationship with a man? Answering Nino’s kiss was a thing, asking for more was totally different. Living the life of a gay man was definitely different.
Yet during those moments he spent all alone, freezing in the brisk wind of October he ended up thinking that he never wanted to be with someone like he wished to be with Nino. He wasn’t a daring man, except in Court but for once he wanted to fight for a relationship.
So it was settled right?
He waited the last client’s departure, without moving and it’s only when Nino spotted him that he crossed the street, the note he wanted to give him firmly folded into his hand.
Nino seemed to be surprised but somewhat...glad…or anxious…he didn’t really know. “Why the Kettle pot and the cat?” Brilliant Mister smart ass!
“I guess my aunt had a wild imagination…or not at all. This antique red kettle pot had always been here and there are always some cats in the bookstore. Why are you here Mister Sakurai?” Crap. From Sho to Mister Sakurai it wasn’t a good sign, right?
“I figured out I didn’t know the name of the cat.”
“Don’t know either. He never told me.” Sho couldn’t help but laugh and Nino’s luminous smile killed him. Oh God yes he cared for him, he wanted him more than he never wanted anyone. Sho’s gaze fell on Nino’s mouth, the sexy mole on his chin, aching to lick it.
“Did…did you meet Jun tonight?” Nino’s voice pulled him from his haze. True, he had to meet Matsumoto this evening but for an obvious reason he didn’t.
“I didn’t go, I spent my evening watching you from the other side of the street.” Nino laughed softly, clearly uneasy and Sho realized what it looked like. “Nothing creepy, don’t worry!”
“You spent the evening watching me but it’s not creepy?”

It sounded creepy and crazy true but Sho could explain to him, to convey his feelings as strange as it seemed. He had to be daring for his own sake.

“I had to take a decision.” Go on coward! Sho moved forward, boldly touching Nino’s face.
“What decision?”
He had so many things to tell him but he had to be prudent in order not to fright Nino. “Don’t give up on me yet, Nino.”
“I…” Nino tried to say something but Sho won’t let him, his best argument was what they felt when they kissed, when they touched. He wanted to be subtle, he wanted it to be a soft kiss, a peck but Nino grabbed his neck and he forgot everything. Who parted his lips first, Sho ignored, perhaps they opened their mouths at the same time? Sho couldn’t trifle with Nino, he desired him and the way they kissed reflected their attraction. He gripped Nino’s hips, almost painfully and pinned him to the wall, licking, tasting, exploring Nino’s mouth in the most decadent kiss Sho ever exchanged.
Suddenly he remembered why he came.

“I didn’t…I came to give you something. Here.” Sho took Nino’s hand, giving him the phone number, the address and the date of the appointment he settled with Ohno Satoshi. “That’s all for tonight…I guess.”
“I guess.” Nino murmured and Sho took off.

No need to say Sho didn’t sleep that night. Nino was probably confused but he resisted, he didn’t call him or texted him. He had to leave him alone for a while.
He took the decision to try his luck with Nino, it didn’t mean that Nino was in the same state of mind. He was embarrassed too. He came to give him the date of the appointment he organized for him with Ohno Satoshi –his boss, Nagase had contacts everywhere- and not for stealing another kiss. At least that was the plan before his hormones began to lead the boat.
Sho went at work very early he couldn’t rest anyway so better to use his time on something useful.
He met clients all morning long, nothing really exciting, nothing capable of distracting his attention from what happened last night and when the lunch break came he didn’t feel like eating outside. He called Ken to order a meal…Ken who wasn’t answering like always.
Sho strode to the door, decided to look for his fickle secretary. He just didn’t expect to find him at his desk with Nino.

“Oh sorry boss, I was about to answer but Mister Ninomiya was here and he brought you a lunchbox.” Ken said with a witty smile.
Nino rose the yellow package in his hand before Sho’s face. “I thought we could have lunch together.”

Sho bit his lower lip to repress an idiotic smile –the very one he was getting to know since he met Nino- and stepped aside to let Nino in. He snorted at Ken’s wink and closed the door.

“I hope you don’t mind if I talked to Ken.” Nino began, smiling awkwardly.
“I don’t mind at all. Why should I?”

Nino was walking around, eyeing at the books on the shelves. Sho sat behind his desk.

“Nothing too exciting, only books linked to law.”
Nino turned around and beamed at Sho. “I can see.” He walked to him and Sho reached out without thinking twice.
“I’m glad you came.” He said as Nino leaned towards him to peck his lips as if it was the most natural thing on earth.
“You ran away so fast yesterday.” It wasn’t a reproach only a statement. “I didn’t even have time to tell you I want to resign. I honestly can’t keep on coaching you.”
“And to be honest I’m really nervous. I have a very important date this afternoon I thought you could help me to relax.”
Nino straddled Sho’s lap and snaked his arms around Sho’s neck. Okay, there they were, thought Sho as a pleasant warmth settled in his lower belly. It wasn’t time to overthink, Sho just wanted to enjoy this unexpected but so awaited moment.
He took a look at his watch then linked his fingers behind Nino’s back. “You have two hours.”
“It’s a lot of time.” Nino grinned, leaning on Sho to take his lips, resuming their kiss to the exact moment they stopped the previous night. It was a hot, sensual, sexy kiss all tongues and lips struggling and melting. Soon Nino was grinding his stiffening cock against Sho’s stomach, groaning shamelessly while he began to devour the tender skin of his neck sending a flash of hotness directly to Sho’s crotch. They didn’t talk about sex, rather they talked a lot about sex, but not about their sex life. Thinking, dreaming, fantasizing didn’t mean Sho was ready to have sex with a man, right?
Then he felt Nino’s complete hard-on and forgot his apprehensions. Nino was right, feeling his partner’s desire fuelled his own desire, he began to move along with him naturally, to rub his sex against Nino’s. It was just…indescribable, beyond any sexual experience he ever experienced.
“Talk to me Sho. Words matter in sex.” Nino whispered in Sho’s ear.
“I’m not skilled in talking.” Nino chuckled “Not in a bedroom I mean. Well technically, we’re not in a bedroom but~”
“Hush…” Nino shifted to look at Sho, keeping on moving his hips slowly. “Relax, I’m not speaking about dirty talk. Tenders words are the most pleasurable, don’t you think?”
Sho squeezed Nino tighter, sliding his fingers under the hem of his shirt to stroke the small of his back and the waistband of his brief audaciously. “I thought about you a lot lately…I dreamed about you a lot lately. Your face, your hands, your smile, your kisses, your lessons, especially the lesson you gave to the lit club.”
Nino flushed and muttered a “You’re way too good with your mouth” while unbuckling Sho’s belt hastily.
“Wow…Ken is…”
“He’s keeping the door, don’t worry, I brought him a lunch and flowers in exchange.”
“You devil.” Sho giggled but helped Nino to unzip his fly. Nino slipped his hand into Sho’s warm brief and gasped, freezing for a second.
“Gosh you’re definitely a~”
Nino chuckled amused by Sho’s reference. “You’re definitely a cucumber, thank God. Did you…Did you read the book?!”
“I did and it was very interesting, I definitely want to meet Ohno too.”
“Should I ask you where you buy the book?”
“Mister Aiba bought it for me at your bookstore.” Sho answered between two kisses. “Wha…what are you doing?” Sho murmured while Nino trickled his fingers around his shaft making him tremble beneath his touch.
“I won’t force you if you aren’t ready.” Nino paused, his hand close enough to make Sho feel the heat radiating from his palm without a real skin-to-skin contact. It wasn’t time for chickening so Sho pressed Nino’s fingers around his own erection, clumsily moving up and down and he shuddered at the delicious friction. “I guess you’re ready.” Nino whispered, his voice husky with desire.
Sho released Nino’s hand and when the latter gasped Sho took advantage of his parted lips to slide his hot tongue in his mouth again. Meanwhile he unzipped Nino’s fly, milking his gasps and soon Nino’s free hand joined his to undo his own briefs. Sho finally got what Nino said earlier about being selfish in sex matter. He loved Nino’s administrations, he wasn’t afraid to ask him for more and Nino’s arousing was an utter powerful aphrodisiac. Nino’s shaft was big, bigger than his slim body suggested, yet Sho firmly gripped it, was startled to be so excited. Precum was already dripping all along Nino’s length easing Sho’s movements. It wasn’t awkward to masturbate another man –to masturbate Nino at least- it was only strange to hold the sex of a man which wasn’t his but Sho admitted willingly that it was exhilarating. Perhaps too much. He won’t last long under Nino’s skillful fingers. Nino was thumbing the sensitive mushroom head of Sho’s cock to wet his fingers before putting back down to the soft black bush at the base of his length.
Without even noticing, Sho matched Nino’s movements, Nino’s pace, he dared to take a look at their two fists moving accordingly, finding this hella exciting and somehow beautiful. He slid his free hand to Nino’s butt, yanking him to close the small gap between their two bodies and smothered his cry of pleasure against Nino’s neck while he shook violently with his orgasm. Nino followed soon, spurring his semen all over their shirts, which were already soiled by Sho’s warm sperm.
They recovered slowly, unmoving, only exchanging some sloppy kisses and idiotic sated chuckles.

“I loved it.” Sho said all against Nino’s lips.
“Midday sex is so indecent and satisfying.” Nino whispered, his breath shallow. Jealousy stung Sho’s pride but he scolded himself, he couldn’t ask to Nino to be virgin. He wasn’t virgin even if Nino was his first man. “Sorry I shouldn’t have say that.” Nino apologized immediately figuring out his clumsiness.
“No problem.” Sho pecked at his lover and moved back.
“Sorry, it’s gross.” Nino gazed at the sperm cooling off on their clothes as if he was the one to blame for their state. Sho’s heart melted, he cupped Nino’s face lovingly.
“It isn’t gross, Kazu.” Sho cooed, taking off Nino’s shirt before kissing his shoulder. “I have clean shirts here, I’ll give you one.”
“Thanks.” Nino put his chucks on the floor, he staggered a bit and gripped Sho’s forearm to right himself. “Sorry I feel dizzy.”
“Sit down in the couch, we’ll eat right now.” Nino obeyed and after taking a grab of the first onigiri he seemed to recover a bit. Sho fetched two new shirts and without asking dressed Nino, buttoning it for him.
“I think I’ve got to go now.” Nino muttered after eating another mouthful.
“You okay?”
“Sure, I just don’t wanna be late. This is an important appointment for the shop.”
“I know, sure, go.”

Sho called a taxi for him and showed him the way out, not totally sure about what happened. He was dying to kiss his lover on the sidewalk but of course it was impossible. Anyway, Nino almost ran to the car, waving at him once inside. When he went back to his office Ken was waiting for him with a mug of coffee. He beamed at Sho.

“Mister Sakurai, I think I’m in love with your boyfriend.” The young man said with a smile, handing him the coffee.
“My boyfriend? No, he’s not, I mean we didn’t talk about something so…it’s not that settled.” Sho frowned as the realization hit him. All in all, Nino never said a word about being his boyfriend or about an official relationship. And what if he was only looking for another friend with benefits?


Things were getting more and more complicated before they seemed to be finally clear.
Nino found a clever, charming, careful, sexy as hell man, a kind of magician since he found for him a phone number he was seeking for months. Sho even refused to be coached by Jun…he was damn romantic and persistent, a perfect dreamy man. The only small little detail was that he was het.
They exchanges two –hot- kisses and he cooked a lunch to thank him for the appointment with Ohno. Because he was dying to meet him again too. What he didn’t plan was Sho’s enthusiasm and the way he totally lost control. Dry humping Sho was a bad idea. It wasn’t an idea at all, only a sudden inspiration, an incontrollable desire. Several times he thought that Sho would stop him, several times he prayed he won’t, totally subjugated by the sensuality of his partner. Truth was that Sho didn’t freak out at all, like Nino expected him to, on contrary he took the initiative and enjoyed every minutes of their sex session. What did that mean?
It meant that Sho was probably looking for an easy lay, an easy experience and not a serious relationship. If he was guided by a romantic feeling, he would freak out, right? A witty het couldn’t enjoy the gay revelation so serenely, right? After a devastating orgasm Nino had a revelation too. He loved Sho. He fell in love with him so hard that he could barely kept the L word for himself and it terrified him. He wasn’t ready to live another love disappointment and the odds of things working out between them were dangerously bordering the absolute zero. Sho was an elite, a famous attorney, rich, het, why would he be interest by a small bookstore owner, occasional love coach? Having an affair with him was more than tantalizing but living in a closet was against all the rules he established for himself since he had been outed in high school.
Yet giving up to Sho was beyond his strength. What could he do?
For the moment, he has to honor his so awaited appointment with Ohno, it couldn’t let his private life interfere with the bookstore.

Surprisingly Ohno didn’t live far from the shop, his house was set in the next shopping district. He could almost think it was fate, amused to imagine they probably come across each other. For the umpteenth time, in the cab, he wondered who this woman could be. Was she an old grumpy lady, the mother of a bunch of kids, or a party girl? She never communicated about her work or her life so every suppositions were allowed. He felt a wave of excitement with the idea of finally solving the mystery as the taxi left him on the sidewalk.
The house were very plain, nothing indicated that a star of literature was living there, even the name sign on the post box was blank. The street was totally empty except two old grandmas chatting quietly on the sidewalk. Nino knocked and the door opened almost immediately, surprising him.
A man was on the threshold as if he was waiting for the first knock to open the door. Weird. Not taller than Nino, he was wearing one of those old brown knit vest, round glasses and had the cutest round face adorned with a natural pout. He remained silent.
Nino reached out to shake the man's hand. “Hi, I'm Ninomiya Kazunari, I have an appointment with Miss Ohno.”

The man didn't answer simply turning around and bending forward to fetch a pair of slippers for the newcomer.

“Is she here? Miss Ohno?” This man was too strange, who didn't greet a guest?! “Are you her secretary?” He didn't seem to be the agent who was a jumpy, peppy man. No answer. The man climbed quietly the stairs and Nino had no choice but following.
The room upstairs fit the image Nino had of the mangaka's studio in the 50's perfectly. Vintage, messy, cold with a huge blue kotatsu as main furniture. In a corner of the place was a small kitchen barely equipped, the man probably eat nothing else but instant noodles...No one else lived here, it was crystal clear. The question remained.

“Excuse me Sir? Are you by chance Mister Ohno?”

The man nodded, sat, hiding his legs under the huge comforter and gestured towards Nino to invite him to sit too. The bookstore owner complied, he was freezing.

“Sorry I always thought you were a woman.” Nino chuckled to smooth the atmosphere but Ohno's expression didn't change a bit.
“I'm a man.” He simply stated.
“I can see that. People tend to think there is a woman behind your books. You don't write like a man.”
“Thanks. I think.” Nino flushed and smirked awkwardly. Okay, the man was a cutie, just too shy to interact with people and somehow Nino could understand that. He couldn't tell if it was good news, making him accept a signing session would be damn difficult.
“I'm so glad to finally meet you, Mister Ohno, I'm harassing your agent for months to meet you.”
Ohno nodded once again, his lips forming a thin line, enhancing his likeness with a hamster.
“First of all, I love your books and my clients too, it's a brilliant and touching series. To be totally honest my goal today is to ask you if you'd accept a signing session, your fans are eager to meet you.” Better go straight to the point, thought Nino, this man was not the kind who appreciate or understand roundabouts. Ohno was playing nervously with the comforter.
“I'm not...I don't really go out, you know. I don't get along with people.” Ohno avoided Nino's gaze, lost in the contemplation of the floor.
“I know what you mean but a lot of authors are reticent to meet their readers, writing is a lonely work after all, but they are really happy to have an exchange with their fans at the end. It's an interesting experience and we could prepare it together according your preferences. It's a small bookstore you know, we'd be honored to be your hosts.”
“I think I can't.” Was all the man said. When he rose to show his guest the way out, Nino refused to move. After all he was finally facing the author he couldn’t give up so easily.
“Mister Ohno may I ask you for an advice?” He asked a bit too loudly but Ohno sat back, to be polite or because he was interested, Nino couldn’t tell.
“I'm not very good at giving advice.”
“I'm pretty sure you can help me, your books helped me a lot already.”

Ohno blushed a bit more and Nino kept on, gripping the small odd chance he had to convince the man at all cost.

“A man broke my heart two years ago and since I didn't meet anyone who makes me feel like falling in love again. I had some one night stands of course but nothing serious, I felt like this man shattered my heart in so many pieces that it couldn't be fixed anymore.”

Ohno frowned and crossed his arms before his chest, sliding his thin legs under the kotatsu surreptitiously. Nino pushed his luck.

“But a few weeks ago I met this man. Well my two friends and I are leading some groups to help people to live a fulfilled sex life and this guy needed to be coached. The thing is, that he’s everything I love about men, he’s gentle, clever, strong and God, so gorgeous, the only problem is that he’s straight. You know what I mean?”
To Nino's dismay Ohno remained answerless. He sighed and snaked his arms around his folded legs.

“Let's say I overstepped my role as coach, I kissed him several times and he answered, I'm pretty sure he enjoyed our kisses so why do I feel like I took advantage of him? I feel bad, guilty and especially because I fell in love with him.” Nino explained, a slight sad smirk on his lips.
“What makes you think I can help you with that?” Ohno finally answered after a silent pause.
“You wrote them so well, those bittersweet feelings, you probably have an opinion on my story.”
“He's het you said?”

Nino nodded in agreement.

“But you kissed and he liked that. Did you do something else...something more sexual?”

Another nod.

“Would you say he likes you?”
“He asked me to not give up on him yet when I tried to space myself.” Nino smiled for himself, remembering the night Sho went to him to plead his case. “He came to the bookstore, he froze while waiting on the sidewalk for hours to talk to me...” Nino felt idiotic, idiotically sappy when it was about Sho. In a blink of an eye, his sweet perfume overwhelmed his nostrils, this mix of peppermint, musk and a touch of coffee.
“And what if he isn't straight? You said he needed a sex coach perhaps he is gay from the start?” Ohno cooed gently almost apologetically. “Perhaps you feel it?”
“Are you telling me I won't have fall for him if he hadn't been gay? It is a pretty convenient thought.” Nino chuckled happily.
Ohno shrugged and offered another pout to his guest. “Somehow it is the more logical option. No need to look for complication when there are none.”

That's exactly why Nino loved Ohno's books so much. If feelings were deep, touching, he had a unique and very straightforward point of view, simple but not simplistic, very realistic. Not everybody was meant to be a drama queen, not everybody was meant to refuse their feelings when they were sincere, truthful. That's exactly why Nino loved Ohno's characters, they were the men next to door, and they were like dear friends.

He smiled, relieved. “I guess you're right. Thanks Mister Ohno.”
“I did nothing special.” Ohno mumbled, embarrassed.
“You have to come to the bookstore Mister Ohno.” Nino asserted, staring at Ohno with determination. “You have to see for yourself the shop, the people there, please.”
“I'm not~”
“Not as Ohno Satoshi, anyway everybody thinks you're a woman, but as client, no one will pay attention to you and you can always wear a mask and a cap! Look, I will leave you a flyer, we're organizing a writing contest next week. Just come to take a look.”
Nino knew he won't agree anytime soon but one week was a good span of time to think about it. Not too long but not too short either.

He went back to the bookstore, feeling lighter than he felt since ages ago.
“Nino?” He whirled around to find a friend sitting at a table in a small corner of the shop.
“Mao! How are you Sweetie?” He sat across from her, after a quick hug. “It's been a while!”
“Between the consulting room, the children, and the house I can't find time for my friends, I'm so sorry.”
“Don't be, I totally understand.” Did she know, Nino freaked out. Mao asked him to take care of her brother, she didn't ask him to take care of her brother. She hadn't anything against gay of course, but Nino knew better. A family could be far less open-minded when it was about a family member.

Well she couldn't know, right? He didn't say anything. But what if Sho did? Did he talk about Nino's unorthodox methods? Gosh...his heart was hammering in his chest. He didn't feel guilty but he didn't want to tell her the truth about their relationship, it was the siblings’ business. Or was he simply chickening out? Probably. Mao was a strong woman, she used to be blur and there was no doubt that she won't spare him. He wasn't afraid for himself, he just didn't want to tell a secret he shared with Sho.
After all, they never really talk about the nature of their relationship. Nino reassured him, somehow, but he didn't settle things with Sho. It was his intention when he brought him a lunch but...well he had something else in mind at that time.

“How things are going with Sho?” Right on the bat as expected. Nino chuckled out of uneasiness.
“Did you hear about him lately?” Nino said cautiously, pouring another cup of tea from the kettle pot.
“Not really, he doesn't answer any of my calls. I know he's busy but I was wondering if he played the game with you. Does he come to the appointments?” She was sincerely worried about her brother. Truth to be told, Mao talked a lot about Sho, her brilliant brother. That's why Nino accepted to coach him at first, he was curious to meet the man.
“He came don't worry.” No gross pun intended, nonetheless Nino flushed lightly. What could he say without openly lying to his dear friend? “I like him, Mao. A lot.” Okay perhaps it was too much, too early?
“Oh...” Mao leaned back on her armchair, bit her lip like she used to do when she was reflecting. “I see.” She told after a second.
“I didn't plan it Mao, I swear. I know he's straight, I know he wants to get married, I won't do anything to jeopardize his future.” Nino couldn't talk on Sho's behalf but at least he could open his heart to Mao. Seemed it was a day propitious to confession of all sorts. Mao patted his hands, smiling knowingly.
“I knew you would like each other.” She simply murmured.
Nino scowled not sure to fully grasp the innuendo. “What do you mean?”

Mao sighed deeply while Nino was swallowing the lump in his throat. It couldn’t have been a set-up, right? Mao had the face of the cat who just ate the mouse.

“I can’t assure you that I knew my brother was gay but I had this hunch ages ago. He just needed to meet the perfect man and don’t protest” She said as Nino was opening his mouth to argue. “I didn’t force your hand, I didn’t even give you my thoughts about his sexuality.”

Nino tsked but he had to admit she was right.

“Sho is a wonderful man he just doesn’t know it, perhaps you can help him to figure it out?” Mao added gently.
“Who said he was interested?” Nino snapped skeptically.
“Come on Nino…who wouldn’t be?! My brother is thick but he isn’t blind! I knew he would like you, did he?”
“Don’t be so enthusiastic Mao!” Nino’s heart fluttered but he didn’t want to speak for Sho. “We didn’t talk about anything like that. Yes, we get along but don’t throw confetti already! For the moment there is nothing to tell.”
Mao knitted her eyebrows with reprobation. “So you won’t tell me?”
“Speak to your brother.”
“But he won’t tell me either!”
Nino burst out laugh, she reminded him so much of Sho at this very moment. He tossed her hair playfully “You’re too curious Nee-chan. We’ll let you know as soon as there is something to say.”
“We?” Mao cooed with a cunning grin.
“I met Ohno today.” Nino declared surreptitiously changing the topic unsubtly but he knew he would make Mao’s day, she was Ohno’s fan number 1.
“No way!! How did you do?!” Okay it was a clumsy way to change the subject.
“A friend helped me.”
“Which friend?”
“Too curious again. I don’t divulge my sources.” Nino rose and went to the counter, Mao on his heel.
“How is she?”
“Okay.” He turned around, grabbing her elbow “Can you keep a secret?” Giving her this would spare him to say that.
“I am a shrink, Nino, secret is my middle name.”
“The she is a he.” Nino whispered before walking away to take two muffins behind the window, leaving his friend behind in a very dramatic effect. He took a grab of the muffin, then tearing it off, slid a piece in Mao’s opened mouth. She mushed the delicious cake like an automat, Nino could almost see the wheels of her brain turning.
“I want to meet him.” She simply said when she fell back on Earth.
“The only thing we can do is crossing our fingers, he’s a very shy man.”
“Now I’m damn interested! Oh fuck, I’m late.” She ran back to the table to fetch her coat and her bag, kissed Nino’s cheek and once at the door whirled around “By the way, nice shirt. Don’t you dare think I’m done with you and Sho!”
“Bye Mao!” Nino smiled ironically. After she disappeared he took his cell phone from the back of his slack.

To Sakurai S.
“Your sister loves your shirt.”

He didn’t have time to put it back, the familiar ringtone rang immediately.

From Sakurai S.
“Did she grill you? Sorry. I’ll call her.”

Nino sighed happily before going back to his shelves of books. He didn’t enjoy his loneliness for a long time because Jun and Masaki barged into his field of vision soon after.

“How things went with Sho?” Masaki began without a hello or a hi. “How things went with Miss Ohno?”
“Hello guys.” Nino kept on working but Jun began to shake the ladder cruelly. “Hey!! What are you doing?!”
“And you, what are you doing? Do tell us!” Masaki helped him to climb down.
“To be honest, I don’t know. I met both today and…I don’t know.” But Nino’s smile was full of hope and the happy couple exchanged a meaningful look.


“Mao? Did you go to the bookstore to interrogate Nino?” Sho snapped, pacing through his living room. He didn’t dream the way Nino almost ran away after their special lunch, the last thing he needed was for his nosy sister to put her nose into their business and make Nino freak out.
“Good evening, brother how are you? How was your day?” Mao answered teasingly.
“Mao…” Sho growled seriously.
“Okay, okay, I had tea and read a book in my favorite bookstore and coincidentally met my dear friend Nino. If he called you, I guess it means you have something to tell me, right?”

How did she manage to turn the table to her advantage each and every time?

“You should have been an attorney, not a shrink.”

He heard Mao talking to her husband and he could totally picture what came next. She was pushing open the panoramic window that faced the garden, fetching her package of cigarette hidden behind a stone to light a cigarette.

“You shouldn’t smoke.”
“You should have been a detective, not an attorney.” She mimicked Sho’s tone and he heard her puffing a smoke. “Do tell me. You like him?”
“I do.” Sho simply murmured, slopping into his couch. “I try not to overthink you know, I’ve never been into men before but he’s special. I don’t know why but he knows how to push the right buttons. I’ve never felt anything like this.”
“Are you that serious?!”

Sho didn’t fear Mao’s judgment, she was his best friend, he knew exactly what would be her reaction if he had to confess a homosexuality. Nothing special. Mao basically hated every girlfriend he ever had, if she could appreciate his boyfriend, it would be a first.

“That’s the problem. We met through very special circumstances, I don’t know if it would lead us anywhere.” Sho rubbed his face, resting his neck against the edge of the couch.
“And what if it leads you nowhere? What’s wrong with that? For once, do what you want to do without plans or big philosophical thoughts.”
“And what if he rejects me, what if I’m the only one to have feelings?”
“I guess…that’s life Sho, you have to take risks sometimes. The only question is do you want to stop seeing him?”
“Of course not!”
“Then you have your answer.” Mao concluded wisely.
Sho didn’t feel lighter but at least he had an answer, yes, he couldn’t do it differently so he had to try his luck and God knows what would happen. “Ok. Thanks sister. Your advices are always precious.”
Mao chuckled. “So I’ve been told.”
“Oh by the way, Nino told me he likes you. A lot. That’s not the kind of thing you say for an easy lay, right? Good night brother.”
She hung up suddenly. “Mao?! Mao!!” Sho giggled irrepressibly. Now he felt lighter, he thanked his sister mentally although she kept the most important information till the end, to torture him.
He grabbed his cell phone again.

To Nino:
“She will leave you alone from now. As much as possible.”

Sho wondered what Nino was doing, it was 10 pm already, was he still at the bookstore? The other night he closed it very late, in spite of what the sign on the door said. Where did he live? Nino never told him either. They didn’t really know each other and that thought darkened Sho’s sky a bit. But it would be thrilling to get to know him too, he wanted to know everything about Nino because Sho was sure he’d like everything about him. God he was already so biased.

From Nino:
“Would you be my date for a party?”

Be my date? It was pretty official, right? Sho rapidly texted him back, he didn’t want that Nino could imagine he hesitated.

To Nino:
“Sure. When?”

From Nino:
“Next Saturday. 9 pm.”

To Nino:
“I’ll pick you up at the bookstore.”

After a second thought Sho sent him another mail.

To Nino:
“For the record, I love my shirt on you too.”

He smiled goofily when he received Nino’s emoticon, a small guy blushing cutely.

Sho worked at the office that Saturday. Usually he brought his files back to his house to work quietly but today he didn’t want to be alone. The biggest part of the offices were empty but the quiet atmosphere was exactly what Sho needed. He exchanged a lot of mails with Nino since the last time they talked yet Nino didn’t give him any more details about the party. He only knew that it was nothing official just the birthday party of one of Nino’s closest friends.
The previous day he stopped by the wine cellar shop to buy an expensive bottle of red wine. By the end of the afternoon he made a detour to his condo to shower and change his clothes before driving to Nino’s bookstore.
The slim silhouette was waiting for him on the sidewalk, his hands hidden in his sleeves and a knitted hat on the head. The night was still young but it was already cold. Sho got out of the car to open the door to Nino, taking advantage of their proximity to caress his cheek. “Hi.” He whispered.
Nino got into the car and buckled his seatbelt.

“Where are we going?” Sho asked after sitting behind the steering wheel.
“May I?” Nino pointed the GPS of the black SUV and Sho nodded, definitely amused. Nino was like no one else. He gave their destination to the device which announced a 45 minutes long ride.
“Let’s go.” Sho started the engine and they drove through the night until the outskirt of the town. They talked a lot during the ride about Nino’s visit at Ohno’s place, about the hope Nino had to make him come to the shop, about Sho’s job and his previous –failed- relationships. He was now very lucid about his own mistakes, his lack of sentimental involvement. Care about someone didn’t mean paying her bills and planning for dates months in advance, he got it now. Thanks to how Nino made him feel. Sho didn’t voice the words he was dying to say, keeping his questions about Nino’s intentions to himself, he refused to fright him with his seriousness. He learned his lesson well…

“Who is Kato?” Sho asked, not really sure that he would like the answer.
“He’s a university friend, he works for a big publishing house. We don’t meet as often as I’d like but that’s life. You’ll like him, he’s nice.”
“If he’s like you, I’m pretty sure I will.” Was it too flirty?
“Shige…he offered me to spend the night there. Since it’s far from Tokyo we could sleep at his place, there are so many rooms it looks like a castle. I mean, if you want~”

Sho swallowed the lump in his throat hiding his gasp behind an inelegant cough. He couldn’t say he didn’t want to spend the night with Nino but spending the night with him was another thing.

“Don’t freak out, Jun and Masaki are already there and they will stay for the night, I simply thought we could come back all together tomorrow morning.” Nino chuckled, gently mocking Sho’s reaction. “Hm…okay…” Sho answered with a tensed smile.
“Don’t worry, I won’t rape you, unless you ask me to.” Nino scooted aside, approaching Sho.
“Stop teasing me or I’ll stop the car and I’ll hold you to your word.” Nino’s silent was eloquent enough to please Sho, he was glad to have the last word for once.
“I guess it serves me right.”
“Yep.” Sho couldn’t figure the reason why but he never felt so comfortable with anyone before. Even being silent was comfortable with him.

The house was lost in the woods and like Nino said it was more a mansion than a mere house. A lot of cars were already parked under the big warehouse that was used as garage.

“How many guests does he have?” Sho felt less confident suddenly, he disliked nightclub and big parties for the very same reasons. Too many people, too many drunkards, not enough privacy. Nino grabbed his sleeve as they were about to leave the garage. He then cupped Sho’s face to peck him tenderly.
“Everything will be fine, I won’t leave you behind.” Nino ran toward the house and Sho smiled for himself “Brat.” Sho murmured.

He followed him inside. Nino was very familiar with the place and the people here, the too many people here. The bookstore’s owner was in his element and Sho had no choice but to greet the guests on their way to the master of the house. He didn’t understand most of the names or the jobs they were doing it was clearly impossible since they flew from groups to groups. “Sakurai Sho, my friend.” If he wondered how Nino would introduce him, it was not any clearer. My friend, what did it mean anyway? Thought Sho out of frustration. He was indeed his friend but he wanted to be so much more.

“Here is Shige!” Nino dragged Sho to the man behind a table full of wrapped gifts. According Nino they were classmates and Sho found him beautiful and elegant. This man was clearly part of the elite too if this castle wasn’t a blatant proof by itself. Sho didn’t miss the ring at his finger either. At least he didn’t have to question the kind of relationship he had with Nino when they hugged with enthusiasm.

“Kato, this is Sho Sakurai my~”
“Friend.” Sho cut, reaching out to shake the man’s hand “I’m a friend of Nino.”

Sho didn’t want to be disagreeable but an awkward silence fell between the three men. He began to regret his presence here, he felt out of place among Nino’s friends. He reached out once again, handing the wrapped bottle to the birthday man and Nino offered him the little square gift he was holding in his hand.

“It’s the usual.” Nino added with a grin.
Kato smiled, looking at the package as if he could see through the decorated paper. “So how things are going with Ohno sensei?”
“Ahh…nowhere for the moment, but I haven’t given up yet.” Nino’s gaze was on Kato but Sho was sure that the words for him, it couldn’t be a mere coincidence.
“My offer is still valid, you know about Go. Last week again he told me he was looking for a more intimate place for his next signing session. I know!” Kato rose the hand to stop Nino’s protest “You don’t want this kind of ads but it’s a win-win situation. Don’t be too picky, Nino, I don’t want to see you closing The Kettle’s door.”
Nino stood akimbo and sighed, biting his lip. He took a glance at Sho then nodded briefly.

“I’ll call him Monday then.” Kato said tapping Nino’s upper arm. “And now no more business talking or Aoi will kill me, she made me promise that I won’t.”
“Yui was our classmate.” Nino explained to Sho “And those two got married before graduation, surprising everybody~”
“Someone is talking about me? Hi, I’m Yui.”

The three men whirled around to face Kato’s sweet half who passed them to put her arm around her husband’s waist. Sho shook her hand while Nino was tenderly kissing her cheek.

“I thought you were talking business, but since I forbid to my husband to, so I probably misheard…” She frowned her pretty face and Nino began to laugh. Sho felt a big wave of sympathy for the happy couple, those two loved each other deeply and it was crystal clear.

Sho stared at his crush and a thought hit him. Nino was surrounded by happy couples. How many happy couples had he ever met? Sure Mao and Ryo were really in love but Mao was an exception in the Sakurai family. Nino probably waited this kind of relationship in spite of what he pretended the other night at the club. Could he offer him this kind of stability, this cheerful feelings? Nino interrupted his train of thoughts by pulling his hand gently.

“A drink?”

Sho waved at the couple and they walked to the bar where professional waiters and barmen were working zealously.

“What did you offer to him?” Sho asked without preamble. He had to apologize for his behavior with Kato but Nino would have to allow him a sweet transition. “You said the usual.”
Nino smirked and clinged their two glasses of champagne. “Do you ever heard about the fore-edge painting books?”
Sho frowned, sending an interrogative gaze above the edge of the glass
“What's that?”
“Fore-edge painting is a technique of painting on the edge of the pages of the book. You can only see it when the pages are fanned. When the book is closed, you don't see the image because it's hidden by the old leaf applied on the edges of the page. It can be linked to the subject of the book itself, like a whale in the ocean for Moby Dick, but sometimes it's trickier like a couple making love on a religious book. Shige inherited a collection from his grandfather and he perpetuates the tradition.” Sho smiled, surprised once again by Nino's knowledge. They really lived in two different worlds.
“Sorry for earlier, I've been very rude.” Sho confessed sheepishly. “I don't know what happened, it's not who I am usually. I fear I made a very poor first impression on your friend.”
“Don't worry about Kato, he's not a man to look askance at this kind of detail. Especially tonight. There are so many guests...” Nino looked around, brushing the room with a quick gaze. A part of the conversation popped in Sho's mind, he didn't dare interrupting them earlier but now they were alone...
“What was he talking about? Mister Go...is he the man I'm thinking of?” Everybody across the country heard about the famous Ayano Go, he was a very famous writer essentially known for his life of debauché. His name appeared more often in the gutter press than in the literary review.
“He is. Mister Go wants to buy himself a brand new virginity, seems he wants to be considered as a person who can appreciate for his author's skills now.”
“And he thinks the Kettle pot can help him? Like those rock stars playing unplugged concert in small concert halls?”
“Exactly. Shige offered me a signing session before but I don't know, it doesn't sound right for the bookstore, as insane as it seems. Sorry to bother you with my qualms, you should find me ridiculous, who would refuse such an opportunity?”

Sho felt a big wave of tenderness overwhelming him. Genuine was a new adjective he had to add to the long list of Nino's qualities. Without thinking further, he reached out and caressed Nino's hand with his folded knuckles.

“I know what you mean. You'd feel like deceiving your clients.” Sho said softly. Nino raised a startled look on the attorney, offering Sho a new expression that he didn't see until now. “You seem to be surprised.” He whispered, taking a sip of champagne.
“No, I…I just didn’t think you would see through me that much.” Nino said embarrassed. “Sorry, it’s idiotic, I feel so childish for refusing a solution to save the shop, it’s just…I have to accept.”
Sho moved forward, erasing the gap between the two of them, invading Nino’s personal space. He caressed Nino’s jaw with his knuckles, bending a bit more against his face.
“You don’t have if you don’t want, we’ll find another solution.”
Nino swallowed hard. “We?”
“You’re not alone in this. I’m~”
“Nino?” A voice interrupted them when Sho was about to finally give up resisting. They moved back, Nino stifling suddenly, his arm still on Sho’s arm.
“Masataka?” Nino suddenly appalled, breaking the contact with Sho without noticing.
Sho’s gaze went from one to the other, trying to understand who the guy was, but there was no room for doubt.
“It’s been too long since the last time we met. You didn’t reply to my mails…” The man said with a too sweet voice. Sho had to admit that he was seductive, not his kind of man, far from it, but he was stylish and confident with a pretty face. Very author-like.
“I had nothing to say to you. It’s not precisely like you were alone anyway.”

Sho didn’t miss the bitter tone of Nino, just like the way he was clenching his fists and his jaws. Nino didn’t share his previous relationships with him but this man probably meant a lot to him, perhaps he was even the reason why he was still single, flying from one easy-laid to another.

“If you could give me a chance, I could~”
“Good evening.” Sho reached out, barging impolitely between the two men. “I’m Sakurai Sho.”
“Kubota Masataka, nice to meet you.” Masataka frowned yet shook Sho’s hand under Nino’s dumbfounded look. “And you are?”
“Kazunari’s boyfriend. Are you one of his friends, I’ve never heard about you before. Baby?”
Nino finally smiled, brushing his forehead as if forgetting something. “Yeah, Kubota is an old friend, I guess we never had the chance to talk about him…”
“Sorry but we were about to look around, it’s irrespirable here.” Sho smiled at his rival and offered his hand to Nino who grabbed it with strength. They walked away slowly, Sho feeling Nino’s unsteadiness, gripping firmly his upper arm to lead him upstairs. Without really knowing where the humongous stairs were leading Sho climbed it up, pushing his way through the crowd, dragging Nino along. He was angry. Angry with the guy who shared Nino’s life probably, angry with himself for having been so rude with the only two people he talked to tonight. Nino’s friends. Damn, Sho felt so bad suddenly. Being emotional was tiring, excruciating and the worse was that he was still totally unsure about Nino’s feelings. The sudden pull on his sleeve made him stop short.

“I think we’re far enough from him.”

Sho whirled around and faced Nino, surprised to be in an empty corridor. How many stairs did they climb? He didn’t protest when Nino pulled him to a couch hidden under an arch. The music was barely audible, just like the noises of the party. They sat in silence and Sho cupped his head, stroking his hair nervously.

“I’m sorry Nino. I went too far, twice.” He said embarrassedly.
But Nino chuckled and Sho frowned as if he just lost his mind. “To be honest, it was pretty funny. He was so astonished…I loved it.”
“Who was that guy?”
“My ex. We were together for one year, after the university and you know, I thought it was meant to last. But…we didn’t share the same opinion about faithfulness and such. He hurt me badly…till today it’s still hard for me to trust a man.” Nino was implicitly opening his heart to Sho for the first time, raising the veil on his previous love story.
Sho slid his hands under his thighs hardly repressing a smile. “He’s a dick.”
“He definitely is.” Nino answered seriously then he smiled and Sho sighed with relief. He didn’t even notice he was holding his breath since the little scene downstairs.
“Sorry for calling you my boyfriend earlier, I’ve been childish and I must confess I’m dead jealous. That’s what I was about to say when he interrupted us.”
“You want to be my boyfriend?” Nino answered skeptically.
“I think I do.”
“But you’re het!”
Sho laughed genuinely. “Says the man I masturbated with in my office!”
“I plead guilty.” Nino blushed nicely, caressing Sho’s knee gently. Sho put his hand on Nino’s and entwined their fingers.
“Nino, I’m not talented for charades and love games. Let’s be honest because I can’t stand it anymore. Tell me, do I stand a chance with you? I know you told me not to put pressure on my partner’s shoulders but I’m serious about you. Yet…” Sho took a deep breath and gazed at Nino straightforwardly. “I’ll take whatever you’re ready to give me. If it’s only as sex friend, I’m willing to accept because I don’t want to lose you.”
“So you’re only interested in a fuck?” Nino murmured darkly.
“No!! No, of course not! I can’t say I don’t want to have sex with you but~” Nino laughed out loud, cutting Sho off. He cupped Sho’s face and kissed him thoroughly, molding their lips together so perfectly, conveying his feelings more than any words could do.
“I’m joking Sho, it’s only a bad joke. Of course I want to be your boyfriend if you’re ready to endure my bad temper and my insecurities.”

Sho wrapped one arm around Nino’s waist and pulled him onto his lap, securing him against his torso as he reclaimed his lips as his own. They kissed leisurely, enjoying this new level of intimacy. When they parted away Sho smiled idiotically, reveling in Nino’s compliance, snuggling all against him. Sho moved back, putting his hands in a caress on Nino’s face.

“I meant it earlier, about the shop. If you don’t want to host this author, you don’t have to, I’ll help you to find a way.”
Nino pecked Sho’s lips amorously. “No, it’s time for me to grow up. We’ll do this signing session and the shop will be saved for now. We’ll wait patiently for Ohno…”
“Do you want to stay a bit or…”
“I want to go back home with you. I’ll leave a message to Jun.”

They drove back to town after an apologize to Kato for their brief appearance, a comfortable silence floating in the car, only cut by the pleasant noise of the light kisses exchanged and the material wrinkled under their impatient caresses. Sho didn’t feel like talking and it seemed that Nino either, they simply enjoyed the quietness of the moment.
Sho went back to the bookstore without asking Nino’s instruction about their destination. Without another word, Sho followed him inside and somehow now things made sense, Nino lived in the condo above it. The place looked like the bookstore, cozy, messy, adorable, very Nino-like. This place had a soul.

“It was my aunt’s house.” Nino said as if reading Sho’s mind. “I didn’t change anything.”
“She was important to you.”
“My parents disappeared when I was young and she took care of me. So to say, I spent my entire life here.”
“I see.” Sho took off his coat, putting it on a chair while Nino was going to the island kitchen.
“Tea?” Nino asked, fetching two mugs hanged on a rail above his head. Sho sat on the ottoman covered by a patchwork comforter and rolled his sleeves to be at ease.
“Please.” Sho took a better look around at this universe that was so different from his. His own flat was modern and handy with black and beige colors, metal and plastic made. Here, nothing seemed to have been thought to be handy or spare space. Yet it was a place to feel good, to feel safe and relaxing. Sho could picture the kid Nino who was once living here, on the shelves were still some wooden games he probably used.
Nino sat cross-legged by Sho’s side, his knee touching casually the other’s thigh. He didn’t even pretend drinking his tea, immediately leaning against Sho’s chest who put his arm on the backrest to make a room for him.
“Say it again.” Nino whispered against Sho’s neck.
He didn’t have to think twice before acceding to Nino’s request. “Will you be my boyfriend?”

Nino nodded, shifting his weight against Sho’s body for good. Sho heard him sighing happily, creating a soft pit in Sho’s stomach that immediately washed away any doubts about the rightness of their commitment.

Go to chapter 1
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