Firefly Catching (蛍狩り)

by Natsumachi (馬遅夏海)
illustrated by coffee_flowers

illustrated by coffee_flowers


As a gimmick, many of the districts’ entertainment houses ordered large amounts of fireflies to release in their gardens and party rooms. But since everyone was doing it, it had lost its charm. Even the low folk making their homes in a riverbed could enjoy the view of fireflies released near the K River. At night, during the start of the festival season, all mingled. Groups of children, yelling and running along the riverside through willows and cherries, chanted the firefly-hunting songs, though there was no sweet water in the capital. Surely it was also tiresome for the prostitute boys dressed up in pale greens and yellows for the occasion. There were even rumours of gold dust glowing on buttocks in shows of excess among patrons.

Other houses took their inspiration in advertising from anything that might give them an advantage with the tourist crowds. Many a historical and mythical figure turned out. Yoshitsune and the master tengu descended from Mt. Kurama to entertain with a crowd-pleasingly unsophisticated repertoire, and were booked flat till the end of the month. The great M-district courtesan, Sasanami, became an older Takeru with his hair tied in buns, which caused quite a sensation among his fans.

“Can you believe that shit?”

Akiku sighed and stretched his legs further to the side of his spot by the window. His friends were gossiping with the serving maids; so he’d had best pick of the provided snacks, but now his favourite sweets were gone and his tea cup stood empty. To involve himself in boisterous conversation or interrupt it for the sake of his stomach wasn’t his style. When not distracted by the goings-on outside the second-storey window, he listened in on the conversation.

At the mention of his name, Akiku looked up, and blushed when one of the maids shuffled closer to point out his juvenile forelocks. She reassured him that an adult style would suit him just fine once he got used to it.

His cousin, Hakuryu, laughed and said, “It’s totally like he’s the little brother now, right?” He reached out and tugged at Akiku’s fringe while Akiku batted his arm like swatting at the small flies that lazed around the room. “See? Like a kitten. And when he’s drunk it’s even cuter, because he’s a snuggler. How about it, shall I make you my younger brother, dear boy?” Hakuryu asked, taking on a jocular stage-hero tone.

“You’re such a dumb-ass,” Akiku’s room-mate, Saruki, said, but she was smirking. “Watch it turn into a scene of big-bro-throwdown the minute he gets serious. See, this is why you should grow your fringe out already, Akiku.”

The trio from Third Higher had opted for their usual haunt at the exclusive teahouse in Y Street. They made an intimate group, knowing each other from sharing homework, beds, and sundry belongings in the East dorm. While they were waiting for their senior, Yurisu, who had been their invite to this teahouse in the first place, the serving attendants sat in the doorway trading hot topics instead of waiting in the foyer to greet other guests.

It was a fairly quiet area even during festival season, sitting outside the official entertainment districts, with M Park nearby. Though the teahouse building was small, it had a generous garden that stretched out behind until it met S Canal. No fireflies had been released there as of yet.

“Excuse me, are you picking on my cute junior already?” Yurisu asked, announcing her arrival and leaning into view at the open doorway.

Waiting for the sun to go down, they ordered in from a cheap and tasty snack bar down the street. Yurisu let them drink a little on the occasion, though she told them it was crass to get into the habit of lounging around and getting drunk before even graduating.

To go out among the crowds in and around the entertainment district, they decided to wear festival masks, partly for fun. A variety of cheap masks were being sold at a street market nearby, and they went with the theme of animal spirit masks. They were decorated in a simple combination of red and white patterns. Hakuryu’s one looked a bit foxy, and Akiku’s a bit beaky. Yurisu opted for one with a wide-roaring mouth so she could continue smoking her pipe. Saruki preemptively went for the monkey type before anyone could start pushing her to pick it to match her name.

Akiku lost sight of his companions for a while around C Temple, though Hakuryu found him again not long after. He’d bought grilled squid only for himself, knowing that Akiku would wrinkle his nose at it. For Akiku he held out a handful of lubricant packets. Akiku took a couple and added them to the ones he’d stashed in his sleeves before leaving home.

During the fireworks they stood close, Hakuryu’s hand at Akiku’s waist. It was an easy gesture, their closeness. As the throng loosened and began to stream in various directions, Akiku found himself drifting along while staring at a tengu mask. Underneath it moved an older man in inconspicuous dark clothing and an un-crested black overcoat.

They walked further up the avenue for the slackening crowds once they left the main market streets, and reached the cooler pond air in the H Shrine complex.

“What’s the matter with you?” Hakuryu said, slapping the side of Akiku’s hip where he’d been resting his hand.

“Nothing. Thinking.”

“You seeing something you like?” Hakuryu said close to his ear. They’d both pushed their masks up to perch on their heads to watch the fireworks display. Akiku reached to hold his a little lower over his eyes. “Maybe.”

“Big crow, little crow, sitting in a tree, getting a piece of that fit–”

“Hey, what about you and that flashy guy in the red coat?”

“Yeah? Oh, yeah. Should we smoothly part here for a while?”

“Smoothly,” Akiku said, fitting the mask back over his face.

Flickering lights and song spread out around him. In childhood memories they floated on fields of grain and woods looming towards the murky hills. But these things were not to be found in the capital when thousands milled through the streets, lighting everything bright to the mountain temples. In the press of bodies he longed for the coolness of grass and ground deep at night.

Pushed along, Akiku made it close to the tengu he’d seen earlier, without appearing to chase. Close up, the tengu’s mask was of a theatre style far more precious than a typical festival mask. Finely carved in dark crimson, the face with its protruding nose and toothy grimace lost all bawdiness, appearing awful and dignified. In lantern light its contours took on expressive shadows that excited his heart. Even among the stink of food and bodies, Tengu trailed the type of tobacco and liquor scent that gave Akiku a sense of longing and soothing–a bit bitter and cheap. Under the sleeves his skin was browned and hairy in the way of older men. Akiku drifted a little behind, but never lost sight.

A woman with her hair streaming wild pulled at Akiku’s sleeve; and as soon as that, seeing someone had approached him, a hunched man pushed forward and took his other sleeve. Akiku had left his long-sword at the teahouse. He spoke harshly to the one holding his wrist, demanding to know her business.

“Ain’t you cute.” Someone patted his mask. Drunk but not belligerent, the man asked for money and tobacco. Akiku pushed him away and tried to find the tengu again, but he’d slipped from sight.

A night and place like this seemed hopeless for anything more than daydreams. Akiku headed towards the edge of the broad avenue where the press thinned and he could sit to rest.

Kids crouched beside a stack of emergency water canisters, taking stock of their loot. “What’re you looking at, Mister?” one of them piped with a high voice. The others joined in the sudden confrontation, and that sent Akiku on his way again.

Reluctant to continue pressing through the crowded streets to search for his friends, Akiku decided to make his way back towards the teahouse via a quieter route. For the walk, he bought a paper lantern from the first hawker he saw. It was decorated with a simple firefly design that cast on surfaces around him.

He passed few people in the back streets, and the solitude perked up his awareness. Footsteps approached and his light caught on the smooth surface of a mask. It appeared to float in the air for a moment before the dark clothing underneath became visible; the man with the well-crafted tengu mask was approaching.

Akiku slowed and lifted the lantern in his left hand. Tengu stopped in the road, looking at him. Akiku drew his hand up. He almost went for the hilt of his sword in nervousness, but twitched his fingers further on, lifted them to the parting of his collar and brushed along the edge. The gap lay parted wider than usual, showing his chest almost to his abdomen. At reaching his sash, he let his hand drop to his side. Even the touch of his own fingertips had excited him.

Tengu stood at the edge of the light, the tilt of his head curious, and then walked towards Akiku. He kept his gait assured and almost swaggering. There was nothing furtive about him, standing at ease while resting his left hand hooked in his sash. After seeming to scrutinize Akiku’s face through their masks, he held out his hand for the lantern.

Since Akiku hadn’t given particular thought to where he should go, having not even a sedge-mat, he was relieved to be led. What could be seen of Tengu’s clothing looked well-off, but it seemed unlikely they would make it to an inn, let alone a private house. It suited Akiku, who preferred the summer night in open air to a stranger’s room. Considering the chances of being discovered increased the nervous pinch in his stomach. He followed close to Tengu, almost having their sleeves brush.

By the indistinct splashing sound filling the background, they were walking close to a stony stream, sheltered by bushes that grew untrimmed. The ground was uneven, and as Akiku walked he worried about where they would stop. When they did, Tengu set down the lantern, and this time held out his hand for Akiku. They stepped cautiously, descending a little into a dip where the grass grew long and lush. A tengu nest, Akiku thought, and almost giggled.

Crouched to one knee, Tengu pulled a long-sword from under his coat and laid it to the side. Akiku started, his skin prickling with a chill at the item he hadn’t noticed under the black coat. Tengu put his hand on Akiku’s chest, and with his other hand continued the gesture and removed his short-sword. He brushed against Akiku’s bare skin at the opening of his kimono, and Akiku shivered. Tengu didn’t move away while Akiku hovered at the point of decision. The crowds were a distant murmur, neighbourhood cats rumbled in their own rituals, and the rustle of a breeze rose in the gardens. Akiku lay down his sword.

Without hesitation, Tengu pulled him close and tugged at the knot of Akiku’s sash, his movements yet calm, putting Akiku at ease without saying a word. At the same time it excited Akiku to be handled like this when he’d soon be expected to conduct himself as a full adult–someone who would consider this sort of treatment below his pride. He held onto Tengu’s shoulders and made a meek noise when Tengu got his layered kimono open and reached in to grasp his bare hips. Tengu slid his hands around to make handfuls of Akiku’s ass, holding him while he wriggled in his hold impatient for Tengu to explore him. Nevertheless, he let Tengu continue at his own pace and direction.

Akiku looked at the lantern, its dazzling warmth seeming unreal in the deepening night as Tengu stroked over his thighs with warm palms. He heard no footsteps, but listened for them. The cats had dispersed, but the breeze still lifted strands of his hair.

Tengu groped and pulled at the flesh of Akiku’s ass, and as he curled his fingers in towards the cleft under the narrow strip of loincloth, his fingertips felt in towards Akiku’s pucker. He pulled apart the soft skin and Akiku twitched with the desire to be stretched open and filled. The beak of his mask pecked the protruding nose of Tengu’s; he’d been wanting to kiss, but how should this work?

The narrow under-robe sash Tengu had tugged from around Akiku’s waist lay at his knees. In a moment of inspiration, Akiku held up the sash to his eyes to show his meaning, and Tengu nodded before reaching to untie Akiku’s mask. He held it up with enough gap for Akiku to loop the sash in place over his eyes. It wasn’t the best blindfold, but Akiku had no intention of trying to peek out. Tengu tugged free the caught strands of Akiku’s fringe and smoothed them.

llustrated by coffee_flowers

Akiku couldn’t look to Tengu’s face, but felt forward carefully, and lifted off the mask. Under Akiku’s hands, Tengu turned slightly while he set his own mask aside, and then for the first time their faces closed in. Tengu held his chin and brushed their lips together. He tasted of bitter tobacco and alcohol that had been a hint in his scent. Akiku melted into the intimacy of kissing. Akiku was afraid to raise his hands to feel the details of Tengu’s face, but the light scrape of stubble and short beard along his neck made him clutch at Tengu’s clothing.

Pillowed by grass, Akiku lay passively and let Tengu paw and squeeze him where he liked. With an older man he wanted to be taken care of and explored. He wanted to know the desires that man had for him, what he would do if he could; to feel a man trembling on top of him while he slid his straining prick between his legs; to hear his name murmured; to be praised; to have his nipples kissed though it tickled when short beard hairs grazed his skin.

Akiku bit his lower lip.

Tengu drew back and Akiku heard him loosen his own clothes. From the gap under the blindfold he could vaguely see Tengu stroking his erection, and his pulse spiked. He didn’t look for more than a moment, or even try to touch, not wanting to find out the particularities. If he hadn’t been longing for touch all evening, he wouldn’t have minded just watching a man like this pleasure himself, consumed in the arousal and frustration of desiring and being desired.

In the haste of anticipation, Akiku dropped the packets of lubricant as he pulled them from his sleeves. He slipped into speaking with no formality, saying, “Um, if they’re not all spilled, you can use these.”

Tengu huffed through his nose in amusement rather than fully laughing. He gathered up the packets and patted Akiku’s knee. A moment later he grabbed Akiku’s ankles and spread his legs, bringing his ass up for inspection. Excited by the exposure and helpless angle, Akiku ran his fingers along his cleft, showing in embarrassed need where he wanted to be touched.

Keeping Akiku bent in half with his knees near his shoulders, Tengu pushed the main section of loincloth to the side and sucked at the flesh he groped. Soon he added his tongue, licking without hesitation. Akiku held onto his own legs, arching and straining. Tengu licked all around his hole, teasing more than anything. He only used his fingers to pull apart Akiku’s cheeks wider. When Tengu delved his tongue into his opening, Akiku whined and shook, finally given the feeling that he’d be fucked soon. The darting sensations stroked into him, running through him so that even his nipples tingled.

In the dark behind the blindfold, Akiku couldn’t even keep his shaky voice in control. Little shock waves ran through him each time Tengu flicked his tongue. His toes curled and twitched in the air. He was blushing and sweating, breath huffing out of him as he trembled all over.

It was enough, more than enough. Deep inside he tightened and ached to be taken and filled.

When Tengu pulled away, he trailed his tongue up Akiku’s thigh and bit him. The release from that pleasure was almost a relief; to notice again the night air and the cool breeze and feel a little of his desperation subside. But it was only a small space to breathe, because Tengu hauled him over onto his hands and knees. Stretched and softened, his pucker opened for Tengu to finger him further open. More slick was spread up inside him, Tengu pushing it into him with a rough finger.

Once it was done, he petted the small of Akiku’s back, and slowly pushed in his cock just enough to breach the opening. For a sharp instant Akiku tensed with pain, but he was used to this moment, and as usual it faded as his body relaxed. Despite Akiku’s nudging backwards to encourage Tengu to continue, the man remained still and crackled open another packet.

In such a position Akiku couldn’t resist reaching a hand up behind his balls, to spread his fingers wide just as he spread his thighs. His fingers slipped easily in the stickiness of his crease, with the hard pulse of Tengu’s cock between. He let his hand drop down, and briefly caressed his cock for a little taste of what he didn’t want to give himself tonight.

Tengu sank halfway in a few times, letting Akiku get a feel for it, before pushing in as far as he could and making Akiku lose all concentration or interest in anything else. Akiku whined and shuddered when the full thickness of Tengu’s cock stroked into him, reaching a rush of heady pleasure. As he trembled, he drifted in the bliss of feeling Tengu deep inside and pressing up against his body.

When Tengu started rocking into him with strong thrusts, Akiku’s knees skidded further apart as he tried to raise his ass into the perfect angle. Holding onto Akiku’s hips, Tengu barely pulled out before burying deep again. He took hold of the loincloth ties and pulled Akiku into his thrusts as though Akiku weren’t already trying to push back against him.

Above his head, Tengu’s breathing already sounded heavy and guttural with groans. Soon he slowed to a more leisurely pace, and shifted his thumbs to pull Akiku’s hole further open around his cock. Akiku cried out at the pressure on his already stretched opening, but at the same time he welcomed the demanding touches and the sense of being pushed to the limit. His body tried to squeeze around Tengu only tighter, and with a moan Tengu slammed back into him.

Akiku panted against his clenched fists, tasting sharp rawness of crushed grass. Pre-come dripped from his tip as he was hollowed out by Tengu’s thrusts. The sticky sounds and sliding of their skins became like the steady noise of night insects.

Tengu pushed him lower, and brought him to rest on the ground. He laid Akiku on his side, holding one of his legs lifted to fuck him.

In that position Tengu sucked at his lips, teased his tongue, panting and grunting with exertion. Akiku grew dazed, caught so close to climax but lacking the right touch, just that little more. He hung suspended in a haze of fierce pleasure while Tengu began pumping into him faster to reach his own climax.

Suddenly Tengu slowed, and pulled out. Akiku whined and groped out to hold onto him, but when Tengu shuffled beside him and took hold of his fringe, he understood.

While Akiku was trembling, open-mouthed, Tengu gripped his forelocks tighter and spilled over his face. A strand dripped into his mouth. Burning up with need, Akiku stretched his tongue out just to feel Tengu again, overriding his usual wish to spit. The sticky head nudged at his lips and pushed into his mouth. He stiffened, trying not to choke or gag until Tengu pulled away. Unable to see, Akiku lay tense, breathing shakily.

Tengu’s movements scuffed in the grass, and he stroked Akiku’s fringe from his face, wiped up trails of cum with his broad thumb and then sucked it away with a smack of his lips. Akiku waited, still aroused. Tengu kissed him, flicking in with his tongue, and the further the kiss went on the more Akiku’s limbs unfroze, and he hooked his fingers onto Tengu’s shoulders.

They were lying so close, and Akiku wanted to hold him only closer. He squirmed his hips underneath Tengu’s, wishing for a magic that would have Tengu fucking him right away until he was satisfied. When he reached under Tengu’s open robes, his fingers slipped in sweat and he dug in with his nails to feel like he had something to hold on to.

He shuddered in sudden elation at feeling Tengu’s half-hard cock slip into his cleft. He reached down, but Tengu knocked his hand away. Akiku moaned in frustration, and Tengu plugged him with two thick fingers with a sharp thrust that seemed to say, Here, you impatient brat, I’m not done with you. As long as Tengu didn’t leave him empty, Akiku didn’t care.

With Tengu’s fingers pressing at his sweet spot, the pleasure again sang up through his body. Moving eagerly, Akiku arched his hips while Tengu thrust his fingers in to their limit. Tengu fingered him steadily, sometimes aiming to coax his sweet spot, sometimes plunging in deep and fast, or twisting on the way in so that his senses flared up with heat.

Tengu lapped at one of his nipples, and then sucked, covering the sensitive skin around the nub with hot pressure. Akiku writhed under the extra attention, angling for his other nipple to receive the same teasing. Just running the tip of his tongue over the stiff nubs, Tengu made him quiver with heat curling down his spine. Akiku was flicking his hips into the press of Tengu’s fingers, fired by Tengu’s deep noises of satisfaction muffled at his neck. Frantic in his need, Akiku answered with incoherent whimpers.

He was strung so tight. The fingers plugging his ass were a constant keeping him tense and shaky on the edge, but it wasn’t enough.

When Tengu shifted lower from his chest, Akiku shuddered in anticipation. His sticky cock lay warm and heavy against his belly, practically forgotten until Tengu gathered it in his hand. He held Akiku’s cock at the base, making it stand exposed from his body and so easy for Tengu to lean in and mouth over the tip, to lick at the pre-come before backing off again just enough to let his breathing tingle over the dampened skin.

Fighting the urge to grab Tengu’s hair, Akiku twisted and writhed. At the press of four fingers, Akiku exhaled shakily, lifting his hips into the motion. So full, he could do nothing but pant on the point of climax.

The moment Tengu pursed his lips around the head of his cock, Akiku started to come, desperately bringing his hips down on Tengu’s fingers. Tengu pushed up hard inside him, and Akiku couldn’t help crying out as he pulsed over Tengu’s tongue.

Tengu urged every shudder out of him, and didn’t let him from the heat of his mouth until Akiku recovered from his daze and stilled his twitching hips. Tengu continued to suck him lightly while he let his fingers slip free. He licked over Akiku’s sweaty skin and left nipping kisses. As Akiku turned his head into the nuzzling, Tengu kissed his jaw at the left side, at the spot of his mole.

Blood still throbbed in Akiku’s ears. His limbs felt heavy and feverish, and the night remained warm enough that he drowsed and felt ready to sleep in the grass where he lay.

When Tengu pulled his blindfold away, Akiku buoyed with shock. Looming near was the tengu mask. He squirmed at being uncovered, at Tengu’s touching his face and turning it up to see better. Tengu remained gentle as he combed through the loose hair around Akiku’s face, and pulled up some of the rumpled kimono to cover Akiku’s naked body. Like being told to rest, Akiku accepted, and relaxed.

He watched Tengu return his swords to his sash, and step out of the nest. Already partly turned away, Tengu looked at him and inclined his head. He turned from the lantern light and walked away towards the road. His rustling steps reached through the undergrowth, but even those gradually disappeared.

Akiku’s hands were too shaky to properly tie his sash. Once he’d pulled his clothes together and found his balance, he picked up his short-sword and lantern. His mask was gone.

His body hummed, warm and light with residual excitement. Parts ached, but in a way he could be satisfied with. As he walked through narrow avenues and familiar junctions, he passed people still partying in drunken joy. His senses were intoxicated with the night. He smiled but was floating along in his own thoughts, and memories of Tengu that seemed already like from another year.

He found his home by instinct rather than by paying much attention. The scent of the shrubs and flowers and damp pine needles at the corner smelled reassuring, and he leaned against the boundary wall where purple flowers spilled over.

Jinsuke, the attendant who had walked him to the teahouse earlier in the day, sat at the gate with a lantern at his feet, talking to the gatekeeper. He jumped up when he saw Akiku. “Little master, you’re back. Thank goodness. The master has been waiting up.”

In the entrance, Jinsuke took Akiku’s short-sword, assuring him he’d safely carried the long-sword back from the teahouse. He fussed with Akiku’s clothing, straightening the front folds and quickly retying the sash at the back. The gatekeeper brought water and silently Akiku washed his face and hands. In his thirst, he gulped the remaining mouthfuls of cool water straight from the bucket.

Having noticed activity at the front of the house, Uncle Rennosuke strode out along the veranda. Akiku smiled at his uncle’s glaring face.

“I’m home. Sorry for the bother,” Akiku said, falling against Rennosuke and being caught. He hummed and squeezed his uncle tightly to feel all the soothing familiarity. He smelled of expensive tobacco and the light whiff of alcohol and sweat.

“You’re a mess,” Rennosuke said, but there was no harshness in his tone. He held Akiku out by the shoulders.

“I’m a mess,” Akiku said, blushing at his uncle’s scrutiny. He wriggled free and clung on again, nuzzling into the space at the collar.

“In future you’ll remember that your curfew is before the midnight bell.”

“Yes, yes,” Akiku said, nodding and rubbing his cheek against Rennosuke’s shoulder.

“And where’s that infernal cousin of yours?”

“Probably still having fun. Did you see the fireworks?”

“A little.” Rennosuke rubbed the small of Akiku’s back.

“I think they were even better this year.” Akiku was ready to fall asleep, hanging his weight on his uncle. Rennosuke swayed; they were almost equally tall this year.

Rennosuke sniffed at the side of Akiku’s neck, breathed in like checking the ripe scent of a fruit. It tickled, and blushing even brighter, Akiku shook him off saying he wanted to wash.

In the bath room, one of the maids was sleepily shuffling around and gestured to the shallow tub of steaming water set out for him. Akiku stripped hurriedly in the chilly air and washed as quickly as his tired limbs would move. Only with swirling his long hair in the tub did he take his time. He passed his fingers through the billowing black mass, combing it, in a daydream of remembered sensuality. His forelocks touched his eyelashes, and he licked tepid water from his lips.

The discomfort of the stone floor brought him back to his real needs. He dried off, not minding the lack of a proper soak when his soft bed was waiting. Wrapped up in fresh sleeping clothes, he trotted along on bare toes with unusual lightness and a childish sense of amusement in his chest.

In his room the bedding was set out, along with a small tray of tea and sweet dumplings. He stuffed his cheeks with them, eating without manners. The cold tea he gulped down so carelessly that drops spilled past the corners of his mouth and trailed down his throat. Akiku shivered and tried to clear his mind for sleeping as he settled under the cover.

But even with the light extinguished and shadows settling over, the room felt too large, and his bed too smooth and cold all around him.

Several doors down, at his uncle’s room, there was still the hint of light. He knocked, and Rennosuke grunted. His uncle lay propped up in bed, reading a slim paperback. Instead of smirking and making some teasing comment, Akiku shuffled in with a more endearing expression.

Rennosuke set down his book, frowning. “Your hair’s all wet. What are you doing? Go get a towel.”

With his head lowered, Akiku flitted in and headed for the closet that usually had some home-linen stores. He couldn’t help smiling while his back was turned, and he wrapped his hair up like a lady walking home from the bathhouse. His uncle made a noise of irritation, but lifted his bed cover.

Akiku snuggled in beside him.

“Ready to let this lot grow out yet?” Rennosuke said, tugging gently to extricate the fringe strands caught under the towel wrap.

“Nope,” Akiku said, eyes closed to avoid his uncle’s critical gaze.

“You know, it won’t really change things.”

Akiku sniffed and turned his face into the pillow. Rennosuke doused the light and lay down.

In the dark, Akiku felt his way up Rennosuke’s chest to his face. He plucked at his short beard hairs as he’d done since he was a child.

Akiku became absorbed in how their bodies aligned; how Rennosuke gathered him up though it was too warm. It was content heat, pleasurable. Breathing out all anxiety and thought, he felt he wouldn’t even have the energy any more to lift his head and kiss. There was no need to move.

Rennosuke sighed and held Akiku’s hand. He kissed the palm, and then laid it on his chest under his own hand.

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