Per Diem

Chapter 14

Naru ran about the house, her feet making small thuds with every step. She didn't really have anywhere to go, she just ran from room to room while Hina followed her.

"How long are you going to run around like that!?" Handa slammed his hands on the table as he felt a dull pain starting to throb in his head.

"'Til I get warm!" Naru replied as she ran circles around Handa.

"If you want to be warm then wear warmer clothes! You're still wearing the things you wore during summer," Handa grumbled at her usual attire of denim shorts and a t-shirt.

"But this's my favorite shirt!" Naru replied and tumbled across the floor, Hina trying to follow but not doing it as flawlessly.

Handa sighed.

"Jus' think, Sensei, with her runnin' around n' all she'll tire out faster," Miwa replied. She was laying off a bit away reading a magazine.

"I guess that's true," Handa said softly under his breath as Naru encouraged Hina to keep up with her. "Tama hasn't been by the past couple days. Is she... alright?" He tried asking nonchalantly.

"Oh, I dunno, when I ask her if she's comin' over she says she's too busy. Can't tell you what tha's all 'bout," Miwa shrugged, flipping a page in her magazine.

Handa had a feeling he knew what it was. Tama had walked in on him and Hiroshi in a more than compromising position. Just thinking about it made him want to curl up into a ball in the corner and shrivel up.

"Yo," the side door slid open and an all too familiar face invited himself in.

"Hey, Hiro-nii," Miwa greeted without looking up from her magazine.

"Hiro," Handa smiled slightly, looking up in his direction.

"I got some snacks from granny's shop on the way over. Figured you kids'd want some," Hiroshi held up a bag in his hand.

"Hiro-nii is the best!" Naru ran up to him in a flash.

Hina looked up at him, saying nothing, but had a look of awe in her eyes.

"Oooh, whatcha get me?" Miwa crawled over on her knees.

"I said 'the kids'. Unless you sayin' you're still a kid?" Hiroshi said.

"I'm young at heart," Miwa said proudly.

"Fine," Hiroshi reached into the bag and threw a bag of chips at her. He knew they were Miwa's favorite.

"Woohoo!" She returned to her magazine reading spot, spoils in hand.

Hiroshi squatted down to Naru's eye level, "Now you promise me you gonna share this with Kenta n' the others?" He asked in a serious voice.

"Cross m'heart!" Naru nodded eagerly.

"Alrigh' I'll trust ya," Hiroshi handed the bag over to Naru.

"Woohoo! Snacks! Candy!" She held the bag up victoriously and rushed out of the house, Hina following behind."

"Ohh, good job, Hiro-nii, was that your plan t'get 'em t'leave?" Miwa said slyly as the house became much more quieter.

"No, I jus' figured I'd do somethin' nice," he replied.

"Mhm," Miwa turned a page whilst grabbing a chip from the bag.

Handa also had a feeling that Hiroshi's kindness definitely had ulterior motives.

"Well its gonna take more'n a bag o' chips t'get me t'leave," Miwa commented.

"I-I wasn't trying to get you to leave," Hiroshi stuttered a bit but kept a straight face as he sat across from Handa.

"You don't have to leave," Handa spoke up a little timidly. He glanced over at Hiroshi.

"Hmm, I might get goin' anyway," Miwa closed her magazine and sat up.

"Oh, alright," Handa said.

"If you guys tell me why you two are meetin' in private all the time," Miwa stood up with her hands on her hips.

"Eh? Whaddya mean?" Hiroshi asked, keeping his composure.

"I dunno what it is, but Tama keeps gettin' me t'leave you two alone. An' now these past couple'a days she ain' even comin' over," Miwa crossed her arms. "What're you two up to?"

"Nothing!" Handa said, slightly flustered.

"I'm jus' gettin' Sensei t'help me with graduation. Since its close an' I'm not sure what t'do. I'm thinkin' about going to college in Tokyo," Hiroshi said without hesitation.

Handa looked over at him in surprise.

"Aw, tha's all it is?" Miwa seemed disappointed. "But I can't b'lieve you wanna go t' Tokyo, Hiro-nii."

"Well, its jus' a possibility," Hiroshi smiled meekly.

With the well recited story being believable enough, Miwa gathered her things and left the house.

"H-How did you come up with something like that..." Handa sighed.

"Trus' me. Even b'fore Tama saw us the other day I've been thinkin' about cover stories," Hiroshi also let out a sigh and leaned on the table.

Handa was silent for a moment, "... Are you... really thinking about going to college in Tokyo?"

Hiroshi shrugged, "At first I thought that might be my only option if I wanted t'go t'school, but I dunno. 'M not sure if I could handle it or not."

"Oh," Handa paused, picking at the edge of the table, "Then we might not get to see each other much if I stay here."

Hiroshi's gaze softened as he looked over at Handa, "You already thinkin' that far in the future about us?"

"That's not it... I was just... saying," Handa grumbled, but Hiroshi saw the slight pink dusting his chinks.

Hiroshi smirked as he got up and sat next to Handa. "You'd still come visit, right? I need someone t'help me with survivin' there after all."

"Well... I was pretty sheltered when I was a kid. But I guess I did fine in college, so maybe I could help you out with a thing or two," Handa felt a little happy about being the one depended on this time.

Hiroshi chuckled a bit, "Thanks."

Sitting close to Handa, Hiroshi slowly grasped Handa's hand that was resting on his knee. Handa easily allowed their fingers to intertwine. It was just holding hands, but Hiroshi could feel his ears heat up from the simple action.

"Your hands are kinda cold, Sensei," Hiroshi commented.

"Sorry... my hands get cold easy."

"Well, I guess the weather is startin' to get colder," Hiroshi leaned slightly against Handa's shoulder. "Maybe we'll make nabe..."

"That sounds good," Handa's smile was audible in his voice.

It was the weekend and Hiroshi finally had a couple days without homework. Things had been getting hectic at school, but luckily he had been pretty diligent with getting his work done.

When he woke up that Saturday morning, he lay in his bed for a while without getting up, enjoying the fact that he could be as lazy as he wanted to at that moment.

And of course, his mind wandered to Handa. It was still so surreal that the two were dating, and even though things were a bit rocky, Hiroshi was in utter bliss. Hiroshi thought he would spend years in pain of unrequited love, but Handa actually reciprocated his feelings.

Hiroshi couldn't help but think of how cute some of the actions Handa did were. The previous day when Hiroshi was leaving his house, Handa called out his name and gave him a quick kiss as he turned around. It was almost like their first kiss - very quick and almost like a sneak attack. Handa had tried to play it off cool by simply saying 'good night' afterward, but Hiroshi could tell he was burning with embarrassment inside.

Hiroshi brought his hands up to cover his face. "Hah... Sensei... Why're you so cute..." His voice muffled.

When the young man finally decided to get out of bed, he did his normal morning routine of cleaning himself up and getting dressed for the day.

"I'm headin' out," Hiroshi announced as he slipped his shoes on in the entryway of the house.

"Oh, Hiro, are you goin' over t'Sensei's place?" His mother asked.

"Prob'ly gonna stop by I guess," Hiroshi said casually, even though he knew he'd definitely be going.

"'M so glad you two are gettin' along well," his mother smiled. "Reminds me o' when your dad n' his dad were young."

Again, Hiroshi assumed their father's relationship wasn't quiet like the ones their sons were having. But their dad's did seem to be pretty good friends when they were younger.

"Hah, yeah..." Hiroshi replied, standing up.

"It's nice t'see ya havin' such a good friend. I hope Sensei is teachin' you a lot," his mother continued.

"Guess so," Hiroshi said, trying not to think about the fact that the only thing he's been learning lately is how much Handa has been affecting his mind... and his body.

Hiroshi headed out, not sure where he was going, but he really only had Handa on his mind. So naturally, Handa's house is where he ended up.

Hiroshi unlocked and slid open the door as usual, and even more usual was seeing Handa concentrating and working on his calligraphy.

The sound of the door caused the calligrapher to look up, and if Hiroshi wasn't crazy, he could sense a bit of happiness on the man's face.

"Hey, Sensei. Workin' on somethin' new?" Hiroshi asked as he kicked off his shoes and sat beside Handa.

"Not really, just getting some practice in. Kawafuji hasn't given me any new assignments the past couple days because he wants me to practice for an upcoming competition." Handa set his brush down.

"So you ain't got much t'do t'day either," Hiroshi said with a slight smile. "'M surprised the girls ain't here."

"Yeah, me too. But trust me, I'm grateful for it. It's rare that I actually get some good alone time just to work on things," Handa sighed.

"Oh, am I bein' a bother?" Hiroshi asked, actually wondering if it would've been better to let Handa have this rare, quiet day. But he seemed to have put his desire to see Handa first.

"No, of course not..." Handa mumbled, his gaze focused on the sheet of paper in front of him.

Hiroshi was relieved to hear that Handa might actually be feeling glad that Hiroshi was there. "Wanna go somewhere?"

"Like where?" Handa asked.

Hiroshi shrugged, "Dunno, we could jus' walk."

Handa paused in thought for a moment, "Alright."

Hiroshi thought Handa might suggest to stay indoors, but Handa and him were out the door in no time. The weather was pleasant, anyway. Nights were cold, but during the day when the sun was out and the clouds were sparse, it created a brisk, fall day.

They ran into a few of the other villagers on their walk, saying simple hello's and other such greetings. The two eventually went a bit off trail, ending up near the clearing where they had a picnic with Naru a while ago.

"Wanna rest?" Hiroshi suggested, nodding towards the open field.

"Ah, sure," Handa took no time to find a nice patch of grass and lay out on it. He gave a relaxed sigh and closed his eyes.

Hiroshi followed suit and lie next to Handa in the soft grass. There was a slight, chilly breeze, but the sun was enough to keep them warm.

"Not as nice as my secret place as a kid, but this place is still pretty good," Hiroshi commented.

"Hmm, I like this place better. Less walking, less feeling like I'm going to get lost in the woods," Handa replied.

Hiroshi chuckled a bit, "Well, I guess I can't say that ain't like you, Sensei."

"So what..." Handa grumbled. "I like things to be simple when possible."

"Ain't nothin' bad with that," Hiroshi looked over at the man next to him. "But I can't say bein' with me is somethin' simple."

Handa glanced over at Hiroshi, then looked back up at the sky, "That's okay with me."

Hiroshi couldn't help but smile. He guessed he was sort of the same way too. He got through life being mediocre at everything, usually taking the easy path. There was never anything in his life that was so grand like it was now being with Handa.

Handa had been the one that inspired him to try and be more than just 'okay' at something. And he hoped he could be that for Handa.

Hiroshi turned onto his side and faced Handa.

The other man looked over at him, "What is it?"

"I really like you, Sensei..." Hiroshi said that despite feeling slightly embarrassed. Even though Handa already knew his feelings, it was still strange to say them out loud to him.

Handa looked away for a moment before turning to face Hiroshi as well. "I know... I do too..." He said a little gruffly, but that didn't hide the slight blush on his cheeks.

Hiroshi smiled softly, reaching out to put his arm around Handa's waist, pulling himself closer to the other man.

Neither said a word, but each of them brought their faces closer.

They felt each other's breath against their skin until their lips met. Soft, gentle kisses turned more passionate little by little. Hiroshi raised himself, barely tearing his lips away from Handa as he managed to position himself above the other man.

Hiroshi grabbed one of Handa's hands, their fingers lacing together. His other hand gently cupping the side of Handa's face and neck.

Handa sighed, opening his mouth slightly, Hiroshi easily taking the opportunity to slide his tongue into the other man's mouth.

Handa grabbed at Hiroshi's side with his free hand, gripping slightly at his shirt.

Hiroshi felt like his mind was in a haze as Handa's tongue rubbed against his in his mouth. He could feel his breath getting shallower as they slipped deeper into their desires.

"Sensei..." Hiroshi said in a breathy voice, moving his mouth away from Handa's lips, down his jaw and to the crook of his neck.

"H-Hiro," Handa responded in a similar voice, which may have even had a slight whine to it.

Hiroshi really didn't know what he was doing, it wasn't like he ever got intimate with someone before. He'd never even had a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend, for that matter.

He'd only seen this kind of stuff in steamy romance movies or manga. He kissed and sucked at the skin on Handa's sensitive neck. Would this really leave a mark?

"Hiro...! You'll leave a mark..." Handa protested a bit.

Oh, maybe it would work?

Hiroshi looked up, thinking maybe he should stop if Handa wasn't enjoying it.

Though it might've been a bad thing to look directly at Handa. The other man's face was flustered, and Hiroshi was sure his probably looked much the same. But he was entranced by the lust in Handa's eyes, how they watered slightly. And how Handa's chest heaved up and down.

And how much Hiroshi realized he was aroused.

"Sh-Should we stop?" Hiroshi's didn't really want to, but...

"Maybe... We're... outside..." Handa said softly. "Um, we can just head back to my place."

Hiroshi nearly jumped at the idea. Maybe they could actually...?

"Y-Yeah, we should probably head back," Hiroshi slowly got off of Handa, taking a few deep breaths to calm his beating heart.

Hiroshi helped Handa up and wiped off any grass that was on his shirt. The atmosphere was a little strange, but not in a bad way. The two were a bit awkward, but smiled slightly, making sure the other didn't look like what they were doing moments ago was obvious, and walked close together on the way back to Handa's house.

As they approached the calligrapher's house, Hiroshi's heart started to pick up the pace again. He wondered if they would continue where they left off? How far would they go? He really was new to all of this, and he knew Handa was too, but there were still a lot of things they could do...

He wondered if they would still have the privacy from earlier. Even though Hiroshi benefited from Miwa making extra copies of Handa's house keys, at that moment he was regretting she did.

When they arrived, Handa reached for the door as if it was a decisive moment, but it was halted almost immediately.

"Did I... lock the door when we went out?" Handa asked.

"Um, I thought you did?" Hiroshi looked over at him.

Handa took a huge sigh and slid the door open without having to unlock it.

"Oh, welcome back. An' Hiro-nii too?" Miwa was sitting on the floor with a different magazine from the other day in hand. Tama was there as well with a manga.

"Why are you two here even when I'm not!" Handa scolded a little more harshly than usual as he stormed into the house. Hiroshi followed behind halfheartedly.

"Jeeze, nice greetin'," Miwa stuck her tongue out at him.

Handa stomped into the kitchen and Hiroshi sat a bit soulless down at the table.

"Eh, what's got you two in such bad moods?" Miwa asked.

"Nothin'..." Hiroshi sighed. Of course this happened... He was a culprit too, but there was never much privacy at Handa's house.

"Hmm..." Miwa eyed him a little before going back to her magazine.

"Um... should we go?" Tama spoke up finally. Hiroshi was a little surprised to see her there.

"No, no, its fine..." Hiroshi replied again. "Also, sorry for the other day, Tama. I was helpin' Sensei move some things 'round an' he tripped n' fell on me right b'fore y'walked in."

Tama squeaked and her face turned red, "I-I-I-I wasn' thinkin' it was anythin' bad!" She stuttered and covered her face with her book.

Miwa looked from Tama to Hiroshi and shrugged.

Handa came back out from the kitchen with a large bowl and sat across from Hiroshi.

"Um, is that konomon?" Hiroshi asked.

"Yes," Handa said briefly before he began to snack away.

'Sensei seems t'snack when he's in a bad mood. Noted,' Hiroshi said to himself.

"Sensei..." Tama spoke up again, her face still red. "What happened t'your neck?"

Hiroshi's eyes settled on the part of his neck he knew Tama was referring to.

'It did leave a mark...!' Hiroshi felt a bit proud of himself.

Handa quickly slapped a hand over the mark to cover it and his face flushed. "Um, nothing! Its just a bug bite!"

Tama looked as if she was going to cry and Handa looked incredibly embarrassed.

As if more couldn't happen, the door was heard opening again and Naru came rushing in.

"LOOOOOK WHAT I CAUGHT, SENSEI!" She yelled as she jumped right on Handa's lap.

She held up a cage with a huge beetle inside, right in front of Handa's face.

"Get it away!" Handa shouted as he instinctively smacked the cage away from him.

"Nooo!" Naru screamed as the cage hit the floor, the top of the cage popping off.

The beetle seemed to sense freedom as it took no time for it to crawl out and start flying around the house.

"Look watcha done!" Naru said in horror as she began to chase the beetle.

Tama screamed and Handa jumped up with his konomon, begging for Naru to catch the vile thing, all the while Miwa was yucking it up.

Hiroshi just watched the mayhem unfurl in front of him, the beetle nearly landing on Handa, the fear in his face, Tama taking cover, and Naru swatting at everything with her net.

It would probably take a lot of work to find some solitude in this town. Maybe this was the stuff that strengthened relationships? Hiroshi could only hope.

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