by Eric Shun (エリック旬)
illustrated by pearljamz
Samurai weren’t allowed to attend kabuki performances for a reason.
Officially the shogunate declared that samurai, being elite warriors as they were, should not mingle with the common folk and take on their affairs. Kabuki, of course, was considered as “one of those affairs”.
But the real reason was to prevent something like this from happening.
Takumi dodged Tomo’s sword, rolling into the lantern and in the process catching his kimono on fire. He stamped on growing flame with his foot only to curse violently as the flames licked his skin. Trying to extinguish a burning fire on your kimono? Not a good idea.
Flopping onto his belly like a fish, Takumi rolled along the tatami mats (and in the process, those caught on fire) and he would have kept rolling had he not bumped into something…
A dead corpse that had been hacked to pieces by Tomo’s flying sword.
Not only was it a dead corpse that had been hacked to pieces by Tomo’s flying sword, but the corpse had belonged to a wealthy fisherman, Takumi’s patron for the night. When Tomo saw the fisherman thrust in and out of Takumi’s body, coming all over his thighs and touching Takumi’s skin with his fishy smelling fingers, Tomo sort of lost it.
Thus the real reason why samurai weren’t allowed to attend Kabuki performances: many (if not all) samurai possessed something called a “short temper”.
There was no difference between a kabuki actor and a prostitute. By day Takumi would perform on a stage, the sound of the shamisen accompanying his exaggerated dancing, and despite having mounds of make-up painted onto his face, Takumi could make anyone a little hard, men and women alike. At night particularly wealthy members of the audience would bid to spend a night with him for a different type of performance, usually at a tea serving brothel and that was how Takumi would make his living. He’d spread his legs, no questions asked as long as the gold was paid before the end of the night.
“Takumi, this bastard forced himself onto you, didn’t he?” Tomo shouted at the top of his lungs.
The room grew hotter as the flames spread, the smell of charred wood grew stronger. Tomo continued with his tirade.
“I can’t believe that bastard touched you! You’re mine, you hear? You are mine!”
Now it was Takumi’s turn to snap. He may be a shameless onnagata, a fifteen year old boy who played the role of women during Kabuki performances, but Takumi did not belong to anyone.
No, he was his own person. Not even the kabuki troupe owned him.
“For the last time, Tomo,” Takumi gritted his teeth, not bothering to address the samurai with any honorifics, “I am not yours!”
Taking the wealthy fisherman’s severed hand (he was too angry to be repulsed), Takumi threw it with all his might, smiling with satisfaction when it hit Tomo square across the jaw.
And that would have been the end.
Only, Tomo did not back down. Instead, the samurai, now angrier than he had ever been, charged toward the boy, his bloody sword aiming for Takumi’s heart.
“If you’re not mine, then no one can have you!” Tomo shouted.
Like someone had given him cue to run for his life, without a moment’s hesitation Takumi ran out of the brothel, as fast as his legs could carry him, blindly dashing into the dark forest.
What began as a quick escape from a homicidal samurai ended in disaster. Within half an hour Takumi managed to not only bloody his feet running through the forest barefoot, but the blood also attracted some unwanted guests.
Hidden behind the shadows, six pairs of yellow glowing eyes stared at him, the sound of threatening laughter broke the eerie silence of the forest.
“Oh shoot!” Takumi cursed as shapes began to form from the forest floor. Tiny creatures the size of his arm crawled toward him, hunger swelling in their eyes.
So there had been a reason why warning signs were posted miles before he ran into the forest. This was the rumored home of a tribe of gaki, restless souls of humans so greedy and corrupt that instead of crossing to the other side their souls mutated into deformed beasts with mouths bigger than their heads and bulging stomachs constantly thirsting for blood.
He backed away until he could no longer move any further, a giant tree standing in his way. The pace of his heart quickened as the monsters panted, watching him with their luminous eyes before they pounced on him all at once, their fangs sinking into his legs, chewing through his tattered kimono.
“Get off of me!” He shouted as he thrashed about, kicking and slamming his body into the trees. Just as he was about to ram his back into another tree trunk in an attempt to smash the brains out of the pesky gaki biting onto his shoulder, an arm caught a hold of him and knotted fingers groped him from behind. He turned onto to have a long pointed nose full of warts poke him in the cheek.
‘Oh great,’ he thought, ‘first the blood thirsty gaki and now a lecherous tengu!’
“What is a pretty little girl like you doing in a dark scary forest so late at night?” the goblin-like creature whispered into his ear. Takumi could smell the stench of rotting flesh in the creature’s breath, the smell burned his nose.
“Trying to run away from creepy guys like you. Apparently it’s not working.” With force, Takumi peeled a gaki sucking on his elbow, threw it onto the ground, and without mercy he squished it with his foot. Its loud wailing pierced his ears.
“Why don’t you come with me?” The tengu offered in an insincerely soothing voice, “I’ll save you from these little leeches.”
“No thanks.” Takumi took a broken branch and hit it against his legs, knocking out two pairs of gaki chewing on his legs.
“Why not?” The tengu, obviously not taking no for an answer, slid his face in front of Takumi’s until they were touching nose to (a very long and ugly) nose. “I’ll treat you right, they call me Mr. Smooth-Tongue.” His long black tongue rolled from his lips followed by a low purr.
Desperate to change the subject (and away from the tengu’s foul breath), Takumi diverged the conversation elsewhere. “Say, aren’t you related to the tengu that helped out Minamoto no Yoshitsune?”
The tengu grew silent.
“Man, that tengu was awesome teaching Yoshitsune to fight like that. It takes a great tengu to train a great general—”
“Everyone keeps talking about Soujoubou!” The tengu shouted, his eyes growing bloodshot. “Always comparing me to my brother, I hate it!” He threw a punch and Takumi reeled back, his jaw stinging.
In this situation it would have been absolutely wise to say nothing at all. Takumi, however, did not keep his tongue in place. He decided to provoke the tengu.
“Your brother is so much better than you are.”
The tengu began huffing.
“And you? You’re just a no-name tengu living in the forest.”
The tengu began puffing.
“I bet you don’t even get any so you have to kidnap girls—”
He couldn’t finish his insulting sentence for the tengu grabbed him by the neck, squeezing his vocal chords until he could do nothing but wheeze.
“I’m going to kill you and then I’m going to fuck—”
Out of nowhere a wooden staff hit the tengu on the head, knocking him unconscious. Takumi took the opportunity to free himself.
“Thanks for saving me.” He smiled and expected his savior to say something, anything, but there was only silence.
The shadowy figure in front of him hardly said anything. Picking up the staff that fell after striking the tengu, the shadowy figure briskly ran deeper into the forest, with the sole intention of leaving Takumi.
“Hey, wait!” Takumi ran after him, ignoring his stinging feet and aching limbs. He could feel puncture wounds on his arms and legs pulsating, the pain made his stomach churn but he couldn’t stop or else he’ll lose sight of whoever saved him.
Making one giant leap of faith, Takumi lunged toward the running figure, grabbing onto the coarse fabric of the robe and the two of them fell onto the ground full of mildew and fallen leaves. The person who saved him was trying to run away and Takumi was trying to pin the person down for a proper thank you.
The moonlight shone and Takumi could see the robes he held on to were that of a monk. Struggling on the forest floor, Takumi grabbed the hat that obscured the mysterious person’s face and tossed it aside.
It was a monk, this person who saved him. A very, very, very handsome monk. Takumi’s face grew warm just by looking at him, his heart fluttering wildly.
A very, very, very handsome monk indeed!
“I just wanted to thank you.” Takumi said. He found the words hard to say. Knots formed in his throat and he was so enticed by the monk’s striking facial features that he found it hard to think. Those almond eyes reflected moonlight looked like diamonds, those lips so smooth and kissable, and that strong nose!
He felt so attracted to this monk, he didn’t know what to do with himself. When was the last time Takumi felt this way? Was this how his clients felt when they saw him walk across the hanamichi stage during those kabuki performances? Takumi was overcome with a strong desire to touch the monk’s face, to feel the skin underneath that robe. His hands clenched tighter against the coarse fabric, pulling the monk closer so he could examine those fine features in detail. Underneath the tattered rags of his kimono he had a boner the size of the moon.
The monk struggled to break away.
“I don’t have anywhere to stay.”
The monk said nothing.
“And it’s scary for a fifteen year old to spend the night in a forest by himself.”
The monk remained silent.
There was something quite peculiar about this monk. Despite the excitement of fighting off the blood thirsty gaki and fending from the lecherous desires of a cranky old tengu, Takumi couldn’t recall hearing the monk ever saying a single word. And even now he stayed silent, staring at Takumi with cowering eyes.
Was this honestly the same guy who saved him moments before?
“What’s wrong? Can’t you speak?”
Of course he didn’t get a reply.
“Or maybe you just refuse to talk. At least tell me your name?”
Nothing. Despite being mute, Takumi still found the monk to be very attractive. The way his eyes looked at Takumi with uncertainty filled the boy with desire to tackle the monk on to the floor, explore the body hidden underneath the baggy robes.
“You won’t even tell me your name?”
Nope, no name either.
“Well then, I’ll just call you Otonashi since you hardly make a sound anyway.”
Otonashi stared at him, as though contemplating whether he should run away and never turn back. In the end, though, he didn’t. He even took Takumi back with him to the abandoned temple, where he lived. Maybe he did it out of pity, maybe out of charity, who knows.
But Takumi, still feeling love struck, was more than happy to tag along.
Otonashi took Takumi to a ruined temple which must have been glorious during its heyday. But the elements of nature and years of neglect left the temple with vines and trees growing underneath its roof and nests of birds perched along its beams.
The first thing Takumi did when they arrived was take off his kimono, which was now so dirty and torn that it was worthless. No matter how many times he’d stitch the tears and wash the silk, it would never regain its gleam. Otonashi watched with averted eyes. He tore away his gaze every time Takumi turned to look at him, focusing on a stray branch that had made its way into the temple or picking at the hem of his robe.
Takumi ran outside to roll around in the open pasture of the forest like a child, the tall grass tickling against his bare skin. Looking up he could see stars scattered all around the night sky. The constellations of the archer, of the water carrier, of the bear twinkling down at him. Never before had he felt so free! Before he thought of the city as being the only life he had, with the elaborate kabuki performances and the luxurious food, but the forest with all of its mysteries proved to be so alluring!
Taking a quick glance toward the temple to make sure he could find his way back, Takumi became aware of Otonashi watching him with curious eyes from behind the trees. Otonashi noticed Takumi and quickly dodged back behind the tree, disappearing momentarily into the shadows.
The boy smiled. There was a handsome monk who couldn’t take his eyes off of him hiding behind the tree. Quietly he tip-toed to the tree and grabbed Otonashi by the hand, pulling him into the wide-open space.
“I saw you looking at me from over there. Can’t keep your eyes away from me, can you?”
Takumi could see Otonashi blush through the moonlight. The redness of the monk’s cheeks only encouraged Takumi to be a little more promiscuous.
“But why look when you can also touch?” He took Otonashi’s fingers and let it slide over his chest.
“And why touch when you can also taste?” Pulling the monk closer to his face, Takumi engaged in a long kiss, his tongue gently prying into Otonashi’s mouth, licking his bottom lips. The monk did not react, but instead grew stiffer, his body rigid at ice.
Takumi pulled away. “Hmm, this makes me wonder if you’ve ever had a woman before, much less a boy. Have you?” Otonashi said nothing, which was expected, but Takumi noticed the way the monk’s eyes widened as his boyish hands delved inside the robe, feeling the firm muscles of his body.
He let out a laugh. Taking Otonashi’s hand, he led it to his sex where he guided it into a stroking lesson. Awkwardly Otonashi’s fingers pulled and touched, his fingers trembled as though he had never done such a thing before.
“No, like this!” Takumi fumbled around Otonashi’s robes until he tugged it free and the robes came down to expose Otonashi’s lithe body. His hands wrapped around Otonashi and stroked until the penis became erect, wavering in his hands. Otonashi mimicked until Takumi grew aroused.
His natural instincts seemed to have taken over as Otonashi led Takumi into the grass. He pressed his tip into Takumi’s body, pausing a bit, unsure of whether he should continue.
“Keep going,” Takumi urged, pushing his body into Otonashi’s erection, until the entire arousal disappeared into his body. The monk rocked gently in and out in deep strides, his lips fell against the boy’s body, sucking gently along his still underdeveloped Adam’s apple, his hands braced against his hips.
He let out a low sigh, savoring the feel of Otonashi’s teeth scratching gently against his skin.
Within moments Takumi could feel Otonashi’s thrusts going faster, pushing even deeper into his body. Takumi closed his eyes, his hands clenched into the grass as the monk released into his body, a hot explosion that filled him. Otonashi fell on top his body, too exhausted to move or even pull out of Takumi properly. On the grass the two of them stayed, breathing deeply, their fingers intertwined as they kissed themselves into a deep slumber.
That morning when Takumi woke with the sun burning in his face, Otonashi was nowhere to be found. Next to his body was the robe discarded, but Otonashi’s body was nowhere in sight.
Takumi sat up, his body aching all over. His hips were sore and his legs and arms were covered in red bite marks that had swollen into large bumps.
he decided it was best for him to leave without saying goodbye. It was, after all, a one-night stand. The monk probably ran off, never wanting to see him again, Takumi thought sadly as he took Otonashi’s robes and wrapped it around his body. Not only did he not speak, but he also seemed like the fuck and go type. Fixing his hair and making himself relatively presentable to find his way back to the city, Takumi tread through the forest, well on his way back to his normal life on the hanamichi.
Just as he reached the outskirts of town, the farms scattered outside the city coming into view, Takumi heard a heavy set of footprints running after him. He turned to see Otonashi running towards him, his naked body looking even more tantalizing in the sunlight. His hair was wet, water dripping off of his body like he had just came out from washing in the brook.
Takumi pointed to the robe he was wearing. It hadn’t occurred to him that Otonashi probably only owned one article of clothing. “You probably want this back, don’t you?”
“My kimono is completely torn after those gaki attacked me yesterday and I can’t go back into the city naked, so I borrowed your robe. I’ll bring it back once I’m properly dressed.” Giving Otonashi a meek wave, Takumi turned to head toward town when Otonashi pulled him back, clenching tightly onto his arm.
“Ouch!” He yelped, “You’re pressing on those bite marks! Look, I told you I’ll give you back the robe—”
“Don’t go.” Otonashi croaked.
Takumi was stunned. “Wh-what did you just say?”
“I said ‘don’t go’. Please?” Otonashi looked at him with pleading eyes.
He spoke, he actually spoke! Takumi looked at him, disbelief flashed in his eyes. “You don’t want me to go?”
“But I don’t belong in the forest with you,” Takumi stammered, “I’d probably disrupt you while you’re meditating or something—”
Takumi smiled. Here standing before him was a man who was in love with him. And it was unraveling so quickly before his very eyes, just like a very cheesy kabuki performance! Otonashi looked like a young child, his eyes wide as he begged for Takumi to come back with him into the forest. He wrapped his pinky onto Otonashi’s pinky, signaling a promise.
“I’ll come back, but only if you promise to wait for me right here. You know, in case any gaki come out to eat me.”
Otonashi smiled. “I will.”