Per Diem

Chapter 13

The sun seemed to be shining brighter. The air tasted cleaner. There even seemed to be a lightness in Hiroshi's step as he walked back from school, which also didn't seem as bad, especially considering exams were drawing closer.

Hiroshi didn't want to sound like he was coming straight out of some sort of cheesy romance movie, but everything just seemed... better. Better because Handa returned his feelings.

Well... Maybe he did? You just don't kiss someone out of the blue you don't have feelings for, right? No, there was definitely something that night when Handa himself initiated that kiss.

Hiroshi couldn't help but wear a goofy smile thinking about it as he reached his house. He was a little nervous, but he couldn't wait to see Handa again.

"Hey, Sensei, I brought champon," Hiroshi said a little cheerily as he invited himself into the calligrapher's house.

"H-Hiro..." Sensei seemed caught off-guard - strange since he seemed to have been getting used to all the sudden guests.

Well, he was looking a little nervous too, he even had a slight blush on his cheeks and made little eye contact. That was still cute, Hiroshi thought.

Hiroshi set the champon down in the kitchen and walked back out, taking his usual seat across from Handa at the table.

"Workin' on somethin', Sensei?" Hiroshi asked casually.

"Yeah..." Handa kept his head down, rubbing his neck.

"Hey, you don' gotta be nervous," Hiroshi said in a lighthearted voice.

"I'm not nervous..." Handa grumbled.

"I was pretty surprised when y'went an' kissed me so suddenly the other day," Hiroshi said slyly.

"!" Handa's face immediately reddened as he looked up at Hiroshi, "Th-That... I wasn't sure why I did that..."

"You aren't sure?" Hiroshi inched a little closer to Handa.

"Well, I wasn't going to let you do it first..." Handa mumbled.

"Huh? Whaddya mean?" Hiroshi cocked his head to the side.

"A-As a man I wanted to take charge!" Handa said quickly, the blush on his face remained.

Hiroshi stifled his laugh, "You still on 'bout that? Sensei, it ain't that I don' see you as a man."

Handa glanced at Hiroshi briefly without saying a thing.

"It don' really matter t'me, you bein' a guy," Hiroshi said in a more softer voice. He scooted a little closer. "Hey, Sensei..." Handa looked up. "Can I kiss you?"

"D-Don't ask me something like that..." Handa turned his head away.

"Should I've jus' done it like you did?" Hiroshi chuckled.

Handa side-eyed him, a stubborn look on his face.

Even that face was cute to Hiroshi. He wanted to see even more of Handa's faces; he was pretty expressive, after all.

Hiroshi leaned in closer. Handa didn't make any signs of resistance or moving away, so Hiroshi continued. His face was so close to Handa's, it was different from last time. This time he knew it was coming - he knew that in only a short moment his lip's and Handa's would meet. Hiroshi's heart was beating so fast he hoped Handa didn't hear it.

Hiroshi closed his eyes and he felt the warm sensation of another person's lips. Handa's lips. The kiss wasn't quick and fast like the last one, it was slow and gentle. Hiroshi felt like he could just melt into it, melt together with Handa. Like he could just press their bodies together and they'd meld together. It was indescribable.

He wanted to feel like this forever...

"SENSEI!" A loud bang, a shrill voice, the force of a thousand elephants pushing against his chest, and suddenly the sight of Handa's ceiling. All of this occurred in a split second and Hiroshi didn't know just what the hell happened. Weren't they just kissing? Now he was in pain and he heard the patter of small footsteps.

"How many times do I have to tell you to use the front door!" He heard Handa yelling.

Hiroshi slowly sat up and saw Naru and Hina running around, Handa's face as red as he'd ever seen it.

"Sensei, why's your face so red? Didya become a demon?" Naru took a defensive stance and Hina looked like she was about to lose it as she hid behind Naru.

"I'm not a demon!" Handa was very visibly annoyed.

Hiroshi wondered if he'd have a bruise on his chest later. Handa was stronger than he looked...

Ever since their rude interruption, Hiroshi noticed that there was very little opportunity for him and Handa to be alone. It seemed like every time he went over, someone else was at Handa's place before he'd arrive. And they often stayed around until Hiroshi left too. Hiroshi didn't want to make it obvious and ask if they could leave, but... He had a feeling this wasn't a coincidence.

Handa would act very nervous and finicky around him - it was almost like they took a huge step back. Handa would make as little conversation as possible and would barely make eye contact.

At the beginning of the week, Hiroshi felt like he was walking on air. And now, he felt like he was dragging his feet through the mud.

"Hey, Tama," Hiroshi had caught Tama while walking to his house one day after school. Miwa didn't seem to be anywhere. Maybe she was already at Handa's house.

"Oh, Hiro-nii," she stopped and waited for Hiroshi to run up.

"Err, can I ask you somethin'?" Hiroshi asked as the two started walking together.

"Sure," Tama nodded.

"I know you n' Miwa go t'Sensei's place all the time, but y'seem to be goin' there more often lately..." Hiroshi rubbed his neck, looking straight ahead. "Jus' wonderin' why that is..."

"Oh, Sensei said we could," Tama said simply.

Hiroshi turned to look at her, "R-Really?"

"Yeah, he said we could use his place as a base again. 'S long as we didn' make too much noise," Tama continued.

"Oh..." Hiroshi glanced away for a moment before looking back at Tama.

She always seemed to easily go with his requests as of late, Hiroshi thought. So maybe it was a good thing Tama was the one he caught up with.

"D'ya think you guys could maybe... go somewhere else t'day?" Hiroshi tried to say as casually as he could.

"Huh?" Tama tilted her head a bit.

"I, uh..." Hiroshi looked away, "Kinda jus' wanna talk with Sensei alone."

"Okay!" Tama said immediately, surprising Hiroshi with how enthusiastic she sounded.

"Thanks, Tama," Hiroshi looked over to see her face slightly flushed with pink.

"Of course! You a-and Sensei should be alone! Yes!" Tama nodded furiously.

"Err... Okay," Hiroshi never really understood Tama, and he supposed he never would. At least she was more than eager to cooperate.

Somehow Tama managed to easily convince Miwa and Naru to leave Handa's place early. And it seemed like Handa, for the first time, was trying to get them to stay.

"You guys didn't want to stick around today?" Handa said as Miwa gathered her things.

"Nah, we got some stuff to work on for school," Hiroshi wondered if that was the truth or what Tama told Miwa to say.

"Naru?" Handa looked at the youngest girl.

"I'm gonna help!" She replied.

"Oh..." Handa looked a little defeated. Did he not want to be left alone with Hiroshi that badly?

"So, see ya, Sensei!" Tama said happily, herding Miwa and Naru out of the house.

Once the door shut behind them, it suddenly became a lot more quiet.

"Um, I'm gonna run to the store, I need more ink..." Handa made to get up before Hiroshi grabbed him by the wrist.

"Sensei, why're you avoidin' me?" Hiroshi got straight to the point, his grip firm on Handa's wrist.

"I-I'm not..." Handa tried to pull away.

"You are! All week you've been gettin' the girls to stay over so we won' be alone!" Hiroshi saw Handa tense a bit at that. "If you don' like me jus' say so! I jus' thought you were startin' t'feel somethin' so I kissed you. If you didn' like it-"

"Its not that..." Handa said quietly.

Hiroshi let go of his grasp. "Then what is it?"

"Its complicated!" Handa grumbled. "I'm nervous to be alone around you. Because when we kissed I..." he paused, "I liked it." His voice was barely audible, but Hiroshi heard it all.

"Eh? You did?" Hiroshi was more happy to hear that than anything at the moment.

"Yeah, but Naru and Hina barged in and at that moment all I could think about was not getting caught," Handa continued. "I couldn't think about anything but someone seeing us. About what if someone saw us together... I kept thinking about it the rest of the day. And then it made me wonder about my feelings..."

Hiroshi sighed, his shoulders relaxing a bit. So Handa wasn't just being cold to him. He was just a worry wart as usual.

"Sensei, I understand. I mean, we're both guys n' things get spread real fast 'round here. It makes me a bit nervous too. Hell, I don' even know what I'd do if my folks found out," Hiroshi gave another sigh. "But I knew about all that when I started t'fall for you. I knew some folk wouldn' approve or understand, but I didn' care... Cuz I really like you Sensei."

Hiroshi gently grabbed Handa's hand and held it in his.

Handa grumbled, still looking a little displeased, but lightly grasped Hiroshi's hand in his.

"What'sa matter?" Hiroshi asked.

"Mnng..." Handa grumbled again, "Why do you always have to say all the cool, manly stuff..."

Hiroshi chuckled. He guessed there was no helping Handa wanting to keep his pride as a man. "I think you're pretty manly, Sensei." Handa glanced over at him. "When y'kissed me the other day - I thought you were right cool. Sure surprised me."

"... Really?"

"Mhm," Hiroshi nodded. "Sensei, you could totally do somethin' real manly right now too."

"Huh, like what?" Handa seemed to be intrigued.

"Err, you know, you said you wanted t'take control, yeah? You could do somethin' that makes you feel that way..." Hiroshi could feel his ears heat up at his own words. He would totally love to be the dominant half, but he'd be lying if he said he wouldn't like it if Handa took control sometimes.

Handa thought for a moment, saying nothing. Then, he looked Hiroshi sharply in the eyes, raising both his hands, and pushed Hiroshi onto the floor.

Hiroshi made a slight 'oomph' as he felt has back hit the floor. He stared up to see Handa looming over him, his hands grabbing Hiroshi's wrists.

"Is this good?" Handa asked.

Hiroshi had to try and not laugh at him again. "Yeah, but what are you gonna do now?"

"Uh, I didn't think that far ahead..." Handa looked a little confused, not sure what to do now.

"... We could try kissin' again," Hiroshi said quietly.

Handa looked a little panicked at that.

"You can't push me down an' not do nothin'," Hiroshi pestered a bit.

Hiroshi could see Handa's face work hard into resolve. Slowly, his expression now filled with determination, Handa lowered his face closer to Hiroshi's. Hiroshi could feel his heart start to pound. Yeah, he could probably get into Handa taking initiative like this, he thought. This Handa wasn't bad at all.

Hiroshi could feel his eyelids closing, getting ready for the sensation of Handa's lips. This time there would be no interruptions. What if they kissed and it continued on from there? What if it just snowballed into something even more... intense? Hiroshi could feel his breathing getting shallow just at the thought of it. If only he could just touch Handa's body...

"'M so sorry! I forgot my-"

Handa jerked up, whipping his head around while Hiroshi lie motionless on the floor.

"Uh...!" He heard Handa manage to eek out of his mouth.

The next sound was the door slamming shut and the screams of Tama slowly fading away.

Handa's head slowly turned back around, a horrified expression on his face.

"Er, Sensei, we can just make up a story," Hiroshi tried to reassure him.

"What if she tells everyone!" Handa blurted out.

"She won't!" Hiroshi was still lying on the floor, Handa straddling his lap. If there wasn't a least ideal moment for this position...

And just when Hiroshi had managed to subside his fears about getting caught too...

Amongst Handa in the process of having a near mental breakdown, Hiroshi sat up as best as he could and gave him a quick peck on the cheek.

Handa stopped what he was doing and looked over at Hiroshi.

"It'll be fine," Hiroshi reassured again, smiling a little.

Handa closed his eyes and slumped forward, resting his head on Hiroshi's shoulder.

"This is hard..." Handa mumbled.

Hiroshi wrapped his arms around Handa's back, "I know. 'S hard for me too."

Well, they'd get it right eventually.

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