Per Diem

Chapter 12

The week went went by pretty normally. Go to school, go home, deliver Handa's dinner, stay to do some homework, return home, sleep. Hiroshi didn't bring up anything about the conversation he and Handa had when the calligrapher returned home. He figured he could give Handa some space. Hiroshi had already been waiting for a response from Handa, a little more waiting shouldn't hurt. Especially when his prospects of Handa reciprocating those feelings were looking to be on the optimistic side.

Handa seemed a lot more at ease around Hiroshi lately too. It was nice to see Handa smile and even get grumpy whenever Miwa, Tama, or Naru were teasing him. Things felt like normal... except the moments when Handa would catch Hiroshi smiling at him, Handa typically looking away in a slight fluster. Or when one of them would accidentally brush against each other's arms or hands and Handa would seem hyper aware and recoil a bit.

Hiroshi didn't want to rush anything... But he wasn't going to simply sit around and wait.

"Sensei, let's do somethin' on Saturday," Hiroshi commented as he was getting ready to head home for the day.

"Like what?" Handa asked, sifting through a few papers.

Hiroshi shrugged, "I dunno, I can make some food n' we can go out somewhere, like when we went out on the picnic."

Handa stayed silent for a moment, seemingly in thought. Hiroshi was unsure if he should've asked something so boldly out of the blue.

"... Can you make more konomon?" Handa asked.

"Pfft," Hiroshi chuckled. "Sensei, you're gonna turn into a daikon!"

"As if people can turn into food," Handa huffed.

"Well I'll make ya some. So how 'bout it?" Hiroshi asked again.

"... Alright," Handa replied quietly.

Hiroshi knew it wasn't necessarily a 'date', but he sure felt like it was as he nervously walked up to Handa's house on Saturday evening. Handa had some things to take care of that morning so they decided to have dinner out. Hiroshi had spotted Tama on his way back from Handa's house the day he asked about the picnic and asked her if she could try and make Miwa and Naru sparse during that evening. Again, she seemed more than happy to oblige. He guessed she was a little more considerate than he previously thought.

"Sensei?" Hiroshi welcomed himself in.

"Ah, Hiro, sorry, I just got out of the bath..." Hiroshi could hear Handa's voice from the other room. "And I was in such a hurry I forgot my clothes, so... do you think you could grab them for me? I have them laid out in my room."

"Sure," Hiroshi replied, setting the food down on the table and going to retrieve Handa's clothes.

So... he had an outfit picked out for today? So he wasn't the only one, Hiroshi thought. That made him a little happy.

He grabbed the pile of clothes and headed back to Handa.

"Thanks..." Handa was peaking out of the bathroom as Hiroshi handed his clothes to him. "I lost track of time so I had to rush to get cleaned up," he chuckled slightly.

Hiroshi tried seeing if he could get a little peek of Handa's body through the crack of the bathroom door. It seemed a little shameless, but the opportunity was in front of him, so he wasn't going to pass it up. Unfortunately, Handa had wrapped a towel around his waist, but he still got a good look of Handa's torso.

This wouldn't be the first time Hiroshi saw Handa without a shirt, but it was the first time since he realized how serious his feelings for the man were. He wondered how Handa stayed in such shape, his body wasn't super muscular, but he was lean and healthy looking. Probably all thanks to the fact Hiroshi practically feeds him.

And Hiroshi would've never thought he'd get a bit excited from looking at a man's body fresh from the bath. Drops of water slowly trickled down the dips and curves of his body. Handa's nipples were even a bit erect...

"Um... thanks... I'm gonna change now," Handa's voice snapped Hiroshi out of his daze and he realized he was still gripping onto the clothes.

"Oh! yeah, I'll wait for you to finish," Hiroshi let go of his grip and walked away as quickly as possible.

That was close. Hiroshi wondered if Handa caught him staring. Well, he probably wasn't staring too long, right?

As Hiroshi was trying to get devious images out of his mind, Handa walked out of the bathroom fully dressed.

"Sorry for the wait, I'm all ready to go now."

Hiroshi saw the clothes when he picked them up, but Handa was wearing a simple t-shirt and a pair of jeans. The jeans fit pretty well on him too. Maybe Hiroshi could find some reason to have Handa walk in front of him for a while...

No, no, no, only pure thoughts for today. Hiroshi had to scold himself yet again.

"Le's go," Hiroshi smiled, hoping that what was floating around in his mind didn't show on his face.

"Mm," Handa nodded, grinning a bit himself.

"I hope y'don' mind if we go somewhere a bit private. Ah, it's jus' somewhere I like t' go when I wanna be alone," Hiroshi explained, not trying sound like he was taking Handa into the deep woods where no one can hear him scream.

"It's fine. Even Hiroshi has a place like that, huh?" Handa didn't seem to think the idea was weird, thankfully.

"Yeah - it's a spot I've been goin' ta since I was a kid. Jus' wanted a place t'relax by m'self. You'll see when we get there."

It was a bit off the beaten path, but that's how Hiroshi managed to keep this place a secret all these years. Handa nearly tripped a few times over some branches and Hiroshi laughed when Handa grumbled about why he had to pick such an out-of-they-way place as his childhood hideout.

"Almos' there," Hiroshi announced as he saw the clearing coming up.

"Thank god..." Handa grumbled, brushing a leaf out of his hair.

Hiroshi took in a deep breath when he finally reached the clearing, taking in the scenery. He hadn't been up here since the day he realized he might've had feelings for Handa. It was his number one spot to think, but since it wasn't the easiest place to get to, he didn't come as often as he used to. Only for special occasions.

"W-Wow..." Handa looked on in awe.

The trek up wasn't very steep, but now they were standing on top of a rolling hill, looking out over the rest of the forest, its edge lead to out the ocean. It was quite the sight, this island was filled with beautiful scenery, but Handa hadn't quite seen something like this before.

"Go ahead n' sit," Hiroshi patted the spot next to him on the blanket he spread out.

"Yeah..." Handa followed Hiroshi's instructions and kept staring out at the view.

"Pretty nice, huh? This place really helps me relax..." Hiroshi said, getting out the food and tableware.

"It's amazing! To think there's a spot like this on the island that those kids haven't found yet."

Hiroshi huffed a little, "I"m sure someone had'ta have found this place besides me at one point."

"I don't know. That walk up was a little grueling," Handa mumbled.

Hiroshi chuckled, "And y'hafta make it back down too."

"Don't remind me," Handa sighed, leaning back on his hands.

"Here," Hiroshi had already made a plate for Handa and handed it to him.

"Oh, thanks!" Handa's mind quickly left the idea of walking back home once the food was placed in front of him.

He immediately began to dig in, Hiroshi starting his meal as well.

"And the konomon y'wanted is in the basket. I'll jus' give it t'you t'take home," Hiroshi added.

"Thanks! Haa, I'm lucky to be spoiled by Hiro."

Hiroshi looked over and Handa seemed to be a little embarrassed by what he said, it was clear when he tried avoiding eye contact and the fact his ears were a bit red.

"I like spoilin' you," Hiroshi commented.

Handa grumbled, "I didn't mean it like that..."

Hiroshi chuckled a bit, "Sure, sure."

Signs of the evening ending appeared in the now orange sky when they finished their food. Handa looked content with his full stomach and the light breeze blowing across his face.

"Thanks for comin' today," Hiroshi said.

"I should be thanking you. You're the one that invited me and took me to this nice place and made all this great food. So thanks, Hiro," Handa turned his head to Hiroshi and smiled kindly.

Hiroshi returned the smile, because Handa's smile made him happy.

"I've never taken anyone else up here b'fore," Hiroshi added.

"... Really?" Handa angled his body towards him.

"Yep," Hiroshi nodded, looking out at the bright, sinking sun. "This was always my place t'be alone. I didn' want anyone else up here. This was my private place." He looked over at Handa. "But I wanted t'share it with you."

Handa's eyes fell to the side when Hiroshi looked at him. He seemed a little timid at that moment. Or maybe just unsure.

"Also, y'get a real good view of the sunset," Hiroshi faced forward again.

Handa looked up and saw the sun sinking into the ocean. Another beautiful sight that reminded him of when he first arrived on the island. But this time he was sharing it with Hiroshi who had allowed him to be a part of something important to him.

It was quiet as they watched the sky get darker. The only sounds were the bugs and the breeze blowing through the leaves. Hiroshi looked over at Handa. His profile was so handsome in the light of the setting sun. It made him just want to lean over and kiss his slightly parted lips... But he decided that might not be a good idea. He still wasn't sure how Handa felt about him.

Once it had gotten dark, Hiroshi suggested they get ready to go and they packed up.

"How are we going to find our way back now..." Handa said, realizing that maybe its a little too dark in the woods at night. It was a little more than just creepy...

"Don' worry. I've gone back from here in the dark plenty times," Hiroshi reassured, "And I got this," Hiroshi pulled a flashlight out of his pocket and clicked it on.

"I guess there's no other choice," Handa sighed.

They began their walk and Handa seemed to be struggling to keep up with Hiroshi. He kept telling him to wait in an almost trembling voice. Maybe he wasn't good with the dark?

"... How 'bout you hold my hand?"

"Huh?" Hiroshi could hear Handa stop moving.

He turned around. "Well, you're havin' a hard time keepin' up n' you were trippin' on stuff earlier an' you might hurt yourself, so..."

Hiroshi heard Handa exhale a breath in thought before answering, "Alright."

Hiroshi turned the light towards Handa and stretched out his hand. Handa reached out slowly to grab it, but held on firmly.

"Le's go," Hiroshi said before continuing their walk.

They didn't say much as they walked through the woods, and honestly, it was hard for Hiroshi to concentrate on where he was going when he was holding Handa's hand.

He and Handa were holding hands. For the first time. It might not be very romantic, but Hiroshi's heart hadn't stopped pounding since they started. Sure Handa's hand might be a little clammy, but his probably was too! Honestly, it didn't matter - they were holding hands.

Hiroshi was almost a little sad when they found their way out of the woods. He knew that there would be no need to hold hands anymore... But maybe if he didn't let go, they could hold hands all the way to Handa's house?

Yeah, that might work. So Hiroshi didn't let up his grip once they got to the main road. They walked down a few steps and...

Handa wasn't letting go either. He wasn't trying to shake Hiroshi off, and he didn't say anything. Maybe they really could hold hands the whole way.

Hiroshi glanced out the corner of his eye at Handa. He seemed a little uncomfortable... Was that the expression he was wearing? Maybe it was embarrassment?

Hiroshi wondered if this was a bad idea after all, but if Handa wanted to stop holding hands he'd probably make it obvious, and Hiroshi would oblige.

But they continued to walk down the dimly lit street towards Handa's place, still holding hands. Hiroshi slowly moved his hand to intertwine his fingers with Handa's. He felt the other man twitch a bit, but again, no protest.

He looked over a little more obviously at Handa this time, who was now a little pink in the cheeks.

"Wh-What?" Handa glanced at him with a furrowed brow.

"Nothin'..." Hiroshi replied, trying to hide how giddy he was feeling. He actually felt like he could skip the rest of the way to Handa's place, but ultimately decided that might not be a good idea.

They were close to reaching Handa's house when Hiroshi felt Handa quickly tug his hand away. He was shocked out of his bliss by the sudden interruption, and noticed one of the older ladies that lived in the neighborhood walking the opposite direction of them.

"Good evening," she said with a small wave of her hand.

The two greeted her back, but didn't go back to holding hands.

When they got to Handa's front door, maybe it was a little awkward... maybe not... It was hard to read the situation.

"I had fun," Handa said quietly but in a steady voice.

"M-Me too. We should do it again?" Hiroshi felt relieved to see that Handa didn't seem too shaken about them almost getting spotted holding hands.

"Yeah..." Handa even smiled slightly.

'Isn't this the part where we kiss?' Hiroshi thought. But no, this wasn't a date. At least not to Handa. Even if Hiroshi wanted nothing more than to kiss Handa on his front porch like a cheesy romance movie, it might shock Handa, and not in a good way. And he probably lost count of how many times he just wanted to plant a kiss somewhere on Handa that night.

"Well, I guess I'll get goin'," Hiroshi scratched at his neck, feeling a little downtrodden. He had a fun time and so did Handa, but still... "Ah, here, the konomon," Hiroshi handed the bag from the basket to Handa.

"Thanks," Handa said kindly.

Hiroshi smiled, and with that, he turned his back and began walking.

"Hiro..." Hiroshi heard his name called out and turned back around.

Handa caught up to him, konomon in hand. He looked nervous. Really nervous. But he was also furrowing his brow - was he mad? Hiroshi still couldn't quite understand Handa sometimes.

But Handa quickly grabbed Hiroshi's shoulder with his free hand, pulling him forward and planting a quick kiss on his lips.

"Good night..." his incredibly red face didn't match his grumpy tone at all as he quickly turned around and walked back into his house.

All of that spanned only a few seconds and Hiroshi was left standing in Handa's walkway with a stunned expression.

Did they just... kiss? Wait, that was a really fast kiss wasn't it? And didn't Handa seem a little too grumpy about it?

It wasn't the dreamy first kiss Hiroshi had imagined but... not only did he and Handa kiss, but Handa was the one that had kissed him.

And then Hiroshi realized how much he was smiling as he slowly started his walk again. It wasn't the most romantic kiss... but it was a kiss... with Handa...

He chuckled a bit to himself. Handa was always a bit weird with how he did things, but that was one of the many things he liked about him. He wondered if he and Handa would share a kiss again. Maybe he wouldn't be so reluctant to give him one next time.

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