by Chikamichi Tano (近路 楽)
Ranmaru noticed him for the first time during lunch break on Valentine’s Day. His homeroom, 2-B, consisted of students from both Meiken and Juuban junior highs, so when lunch was called roughly half the female population– mostly those from Meiken– crowded around Ranmaru to present him with a variety of chocolaty gifts. These he accepted somewhat graciously, with no intention of returning the gestures when White Day rolled around. Most of the gift givers knew this; there were a few who, not having attended junior high with him, would soon learn.
Across the room, another freshman was receiving similar attention. A group of girls comparable in size to Ranmaru’s own was convening around a boy, slightly shorter than him, with round glasses and windblown dark hair. To Ranmaru, he looked slightly geeky. The girls seemed to like him well enough, though, judging from the pile of chocolates collecting on his desk.
He must be from Juuban, Ranmaru decided, when he found he couldn’t recognize the other boy. A geek idol for a geek school.
He sat down with his usual careless attitude, suddenly bored with all the girls still crowding around his desk. By the time lunch break ended they had all taken the hint and drifted off in groups of two or three towards their own desks, leaving a sizable pile of sweets on his.
Ranmaru spent the rest of the day dozing. When the last bell sounded he swept the chocolates into a shopping bag he’d brought, just like every Valentine’s Day since the beginning of junior high, and left, with a gaggle of girls at his back and another pair of eyes following him out.
Goal, he thought, and grinned to himself.
He was a third of the way through the pile before someone sat down next to him, nearly giving him a heart attack. The glasses-boy from his homeroom regarded him with an open smile, then gestured to the remaining chocolates. “Something wrong with them?”
Ranmaru stared at him warily, brushed a long piece of bang out of his eyes, tucked it behind his ear. “No.” He said, then found himself continuing: “I’m allergic.”
The other hummed thoughtfully, picked up one of the boxes. This one was decorated with lace and glitter. “To sugar?” Thunk.
“Just chocolate.” Ranmaru found himself replying as he picked out a square box with a garish red ribbon. Thunk.
The two took turns making shots at the trash can. After a few moments, the glasses-boy stood up, adjusting the shoulder strap of his bag. “If you’re not going to eat them, mind if I have some?”
“Go ahead.” Ranmaru replied.
Glasses-boy flashed him a quick smile, gathered up an armful of the packages, and somehow managed to stuff them all into his bag, though it was already bulging with his own Valentine’s Day gifts. He turned, sketched a quick bow in Ranmaru’s direction. “Thank you.” Then, “See you tomorrow, Naramichi-kun.”
He shielded his eyes from the glare of the dying sun, a glare that reflected crimson and honey and marigold off his glasses, and made his way home, whistling softly. Ranmaru watched him go out of the corner of his eye
I don’t know his name, he thought.
He began watching Umake.
Glasses-boy was popular, Ranmaru soon noticed. He held conversations with just about anyone. He was approachable, open. Not the best at Maths, but above average in Science. He certainly put much more effort into his studies than Ranmaru did. In essence, a geek.
Glasses-boy noticed his attention after a few days. He caught Ranmaru staring at him during lunch, smiled and waved. The small group of people that normally gathered around him at lunch time turned and cast curious glances Ranmaru’s way, and he slouched lower into his seat, glancing out the window.
Idiot, he thought, flushing. He just knew the group was going to talk about him, now.
The next day Umake came and sat at the empty desk next to Ranmaru’s during lunch. Ranmaru ignored him the entire time, but the shorter boy didn’t seem to mind. Umake’s group didn’t come near them. From then on, that was how the two ate lunch.
Ranmaru didn’t have another conversation with Umake until nearly a month later, after school on White Day. It had been an exhausting day, when his new admirers had learned that Naramichi Ranmaru did not give out White Day gifts. He’d abandoned them to be consoled by the girls who had known, and escaped into the bathroom, where he stayed until the last bell rang.
It was as he was changing his shoes to head home that Umake found him. The slightly shorter boy had a grin on his face and his hands behind his back. “Close your eyes, Naramichi-kun.” He said.
Ranmaru stared at him a moment. “What?”
“Close your eyes.” Umake insisted.
“No.” Said Ranmaru, obstinately.
The smile faded into a pout. “Fine.” He reached out, grabbed Ranmaru’s wrist– his hand was really warm, Ranmaru thought– and brought it up to set a small box in the taller student’s hand.
“Pocky.” Ranmaru observed, confused.
Umake released his hand, and grinned at him. “Strawberry Pocky.” He emphasized, “my return gift from Valentine’s Day. I noticed you always have some with lunch.”
Ranmaru sputtered at that, flushing, and Umake laughed.
The next day, at lunch, they got into a discussion about what arcade was the best in the area. Umake thought the Crown had the widest selection, and Ranmaru thought the Kidou had the best games.
“Umake–” Ranmaru started, pissed, when the other student happened to insult his choice of arcades.
“Call me Kouichi.” Umake had said, interrupting him, and smiled. Ranmaru forgot what he had been about to say at that, but that afternoon Umake– Kouichi– dragged him to the Crown, and Ranmaru found he rather liked it.
“They’re sigils.” Kouichi explained when he asked. “They’re used to summon creatures or perform magic. I read about it in a book.”
Ranmaru thought that was odd, but everyone had hobbies.
In mid-June it rained nonstop. Kouichi lent his umbrella to a girl who had forgotten hers, probably one of his admirers. He was standing just inside the building, waiting for the rain to die down, when Ranmaru went to head home. He regarded Kouichi thoughtfully for a moment, then tapped the shorter boy on the shoulder. “C’mon.” He said. “Where do you live?”
“It wasn’t my fault.” Ranmaru insisted again. “It’s too damn windy out here.” He sneezed, and glanced balefully at his ruined, inside-out umbrella.
“Your umbrella sucks.”
“You sure were happy when I offered to walk you home, dumbass.”
“That was before I found out your umbrella sucks.”
“Maybe.” Kouichi grinned, teeth chattering as he turned the key in the lock. “Want to come in? I have some dry clothes that should fit you, while I dry yours. It’s the least I can do.”
“Sure.” He followed Kouichi in.
“Oniichan!! You‘re home!”
Ranmaru was suddenly faced with two girls, rushing towards him gleefully. “Holy crap. Those are some huge boobs.”
The two stopped short. “Thank you!” They beamed. Kouichi punched him in the arm, and Ranmaru nearly slipped on the water collecting on the slick tile under his feet.
“Don’t talk about my sisters that way.” Kouichi muttered.
“Right.” Said Ranmaru weakly, clinging to a small table against the wall and trying not to fall on his ass.
“Who’re you?” Asked one of the sisters, staring at him quizzically. “Are you spending the night?”
“Who’s this, oniichan?” Asked the other. “A new friend?”
“Um…” began Ranmaru. “‘Spending the night‘?”
“Eiko, Sanami, this is Ranmaru.” Kouichi introduced, and moved slowly backward.
“WHAT?” The two said in unison. “Ranmaru-kun?!” And they jumped him. “Thank you for the chocolate!”
Ranmaru fell on his ass. Kouichi laughed.
“I know.” Kouichi agreed, grinning. “But at least they got you to stay.”
“Whatever.” He grouched. “We’re studying, remember? I need help for the Geography test coming up.”
“Right.” Kouichi went over to his bookshelf and pulled out a thick volume, staring at the cover for a moment while Ranmaru continued to dry his hair. “Ranmaru?”
“Would you mind helping me with something?”
The taller boy ceased toweling his hair and glanced up, suspicious. “What is it?”
When Kouichi turned around and thrust the book in his face, the feeling of dread that was coiling in Ranmaru’s stomach grew tighter. Sigils and Runes said the title, A Practical Guide for the Beginning Occultist. He looked up at Kouichi.
“I want to summon something.” Said the shorter boy, grinning mischievously.
Kouichi’s tongue trailed a warm wet path down the column of Ranmaru’s throat, and the shorter boy paused to nip at his collar bone. Ranmaru panted and pushed harder, but Kouichi wouldn’t budge.
They’d performed the ritual, despite Ranmaru’s misgivings, and all had seemed to be going well. That is, until things had started not to go well. A strong wind had buffeted them both as they’d sat around the sigil Kouichi had drawn in chalk on his floor. Don’t worry, he’d said. It’s easy. I’ve read all about them, I’ve just never had anyone to help me.
Kouichi had been excited as the marking had started to glow, but when that wind had started up his grin had dropped. I forgot! He’d shouted over the noise. I forgot the binding part! He’d scrambled for the chalk, but by then it had been too late.
Ranmaru had felt a presence enter the room, had felt it push towards him like it was looking for something. He’s pushed it away, with willpower or something else, only Kouichi hadn’t even seemed to realize it was there, and before Ranmaru could even cry out he’d felt it envelope his friend. The wind had died down then, and Kouichi had been staring into the distance. For just one moment Ranmaru had thought him dead, and he’d reached for him, the suddenly found himself flat on his back underneath his (not dead) friend.
“Who have we here?” Kouichi had smirked lazily, regarding him with blood-red eyes. “Ranmaru-kun, hm?” He’d captured both of Ranmaru’s wrist above his head with a strength that Kouichi simply did not have. “Interesting.”
“What–” Ranmaru had started, but Kouichi had cut him off with a kiss, probing his tongue into Ranmaru‘s mouth. After an eternity of moments in which Ranmaru had found himself growing damningly aroused, Kouichi had pulled back just slightly and started licking down his throat.
Which left him here. Kouichi’s entire– lithe– body lay flat on top of him, pinning him down, and Ranmaru couldn’t push him off. He didn’t know if he wanted to, despite the fact that he knew this wasn’t really Kouichi.
“Ranmaru,” said not-Kouichi, pinching a nipple through his borrowed shirt. Ranmaru twisted, but only managed to grind his erection against Kouichi’s stomach. He moaned, and Kouichi, smirking, ground down on him.
“You want this, Ranmaru.” Not-Kouichi mused, staring at him through half-lidded eyes. “You’ve wanted this–” he ground his own arousal in little circles on Ranmaru’s thigh. Ranmaru thought he would die like that. “You’ve wanted him for over a month now. Haven‘t you?”
“No.” Ranmaru managed to choke out, but knew he was lying. Not-Kouichi didn’t immediately reply, but instead slid down his body and began to unbutton his pants.
“Mmm.” He murmured, “I think you have.” A flick of his fingers and Ranmaru’s fly snapped open. He wasn’t wearing underwear, as those had been soaked through as well and he certainly wouldn’t want to borrow a pair. Ranmaru couldn’t decide if that had been a good decision or a band one, but found he really didn’t care when Kouichi ran one finger down the length of him. He swallowed, met the blood-red eyes, found himself thrusting shallowly upward.
He closed his eyes and tried to keep from screaming when Kouichi wrapped a fist around him and started to stroke. “God.” He choked. “Kouichi–” He felt a finger slide over his tip, exerting a slight pressure as Kouichi’s other hand massaged his balls before scratching at the base of his arousal. Ranmaru nearly went over the edge when he felt Kouchi’s moist breath wash over him, but then the shorter boy pulled back.
Kouichi grinned as Ranmaru’s eyes snapped open and he bit back a whimper at the loss. “Please…”
“Almost there.” said Kouichi, sliding back up his body. The shorter boy deftly slipped out of his pants and boxers, then leaned in to kiss Ranmaru thoroughly. Ranmaru grabbed him, trying to touch, to feel, all at once, but Kouichi reached around and guided Ranmaru’s hands down lower. “There.” He said, breathless now, face flushed. “Touch me there, Ranmaru.”
Ranmaru did, trying to figure out what made his partner feel good. Everything he did brought out some new reaction in Kouichi that sparked a similar reaction in Ranmaru. He felt as if he would explode, and then Kouichi reached down and guided his hand under.
It didn’t take long for Ranmaru to prepare him. Somewhere Kouichi had found a bottle of lube, and then he was scooting upward, positioning himself. Ranmaru didn’t know where to put his hands, suddenly shy again, but when Kouichi starting lowering himself he reached for anything he could touch.
They moved in slow motion, it seemed to Ranmaru. Their gasps and moans were long, drawn out, and he watched a bead of sweat slide slowly down Kouichi’s surprising toned chest. And then suddenly it was over, he was finished, spilling himself into Kouichi, who was warm, always warm. Kouichi was slumping against him and he was reaching between their bodies, again guided by Kouichi’s hand, and he finished the shorter boy off with a few rough jerks. Ranmaru’s chest was splattered, he was sweaty, Kouichi was wrapped around him, and he didn’t care.
“You see?” Not-Kouichi murmured against his chest. “I told you.” He closed his eyes, which were fading back to black, and slept.
The book was turned to a page that displayed the sigil Kouichi had marked on the floor, with the simple title of Demons. There was a paragraph underneath it, in very small print, that Ranmaru doubted Kouichi had read.
Lust demons are the most prolific types of demons in and around large cities, most probably because of the varying and often sexual acts that humanity engages in. Those affected by lust demons often do not remember a thing they’ve said or done the morning after, because these demons are especially mischievous, and love causing problems by blocking selected memories.
Ranmaru glanced back at the title of the page. If he was looking for it, it was obvious that something, some word, had originally been in front of the word Demons. He could guess what that word was.
He closed the book with a snap, tucked it into his school bag, and lay down on the futon Kouichi had set out for him earlier that evening. Fuck, he thought, and fell asleep watching Kouichi’s peacefully sleeping face.
I think I love him.