“Are you ready for madness to descend on us soon?” Kouta teased. Ryuu let out a long dramatic sigh and Kouta laughed softly.
Their family and friends would be in and out of their house for the next few days. Everyone was excited about the premiere. The night before the release of Ryuu’s most important project, there would be a celebration dinner at his restaurant.
“I hope this isn’t too much trouble for you,” Ryuu said.
“Of course not,” Kouta assured him. “It will be great to see everyone.”
“Even with my little sister around?” Ryuu joked, making Kouta chuckled.
Ayami had asked to stay at their house, instead of at a hotel with the rest of the family. She had enlisted Kouta to convince Ryuu that this was acceptable. During a phone call, a week before she’d flown from the U.S. to Japan, Ayami had pulled at Kouta’s heartstrings. She’d explained that she only saw Ryuu at the yearly reunions and she’d missed the closeness she usually had with her older brother. Though he’d known that she’d been appealing to his emotions, Kouta had still helped her. No match for his younger sister and his lover teaming up, Ryuu had eventually agreed to the request. The result was his current mild exasperation, as a taxi with Ayami pulled up at the gate. Kouta and Ryuu walked out to meet her.
“We would have picked you up, you know,” Ryuu told her, after he paid the taxi driver.
“I didn’t want to cause trouble for either of you,” she explained. “I know how many people show up when you guys are in public.”
“Why little sister, you almost sound considerate…” Ryuu playfully taunted her. She smacked him on his arm and then gave him a hug. He picked her up and spun her around, making her laugh loudly.
“How’s my second favorite person who lives in this house?” she asked Kouta, when Ryuu put her down. Kouta grinned and gave her a hug. Then he grabbed her luggage to take it into the house, as Ryuu and Ayami followed him.
A short while later, Ayami was settled in an armchair, as Nami and Aki studied her with curiosity.
“Kouta, thanks for letting me stay here,” she said. “I’ll spend the night of the premiere at the hotel; but for now, I just need a place to recharge. I’d be too much of a captive at the hotel. Mom and Dad have gone on another ‘what are you doing with your life’ round of lectures.”
“Parents do it out of love,” Kouta said, smiling at the memory of similar conversations with his parents. “And you’re welcomed here anytime.”
“Wait a minute,” Ryuu protested. “Don’t get roped into her emotions again.”
“He was kind for a good cause,” Ayami said, laughing.
“Well, I’ll allow you to use us as an escape but you have to follow one big rule,” Ryuu said to Ayami, as he reclined on the couch next to Kouta. “Kou has put up with me these past few months, even more than usual. So, I want to spend some quality time with him, before the premiere. When I tell you to disappear, you’ll listen.”
Kouta coughed, as he choked on his drink.
“You’re being so blatant,” he said to Ryuu, as he felt a flush creep up his face.
“That’s fine,” Ayami said, her eyes shining with mischief. “I plan on shopping for most of the next few days. Besides, the last thing I want to do is listen to you guys have sex.” Her role as pesky little sister fulfilled, she dodged a pillow that her brother hurled at her. Then, she scrambled off the couch.
“How dare you be so disrespectful?” Ryuu demanded, grabbing her. He put her in a headlock and she giggled, as she struggled to get away from her brother. When she wasn’t able to release his grip, she begged Kouta for help.
“He’s ticklish behind his knees,” Kouta offered, grinning widely.
“That’s right!” Ayami exclaimed. “I forgot.”
She proceeded to get revenge for the headlock. Ryuu finally gave in, letting her go, as his hold was broken by his amusement.
Two days before the premiere, Kouta awoke to find that Ryuu had already been up for quite some time. Ryuu was in his office, his head bent over his largest sketchbook, as he worked on a drawing. Aki and Nami were by his feet.
Knowing how deeply Ryuu concentrated when he was buried in his art, Kouta called to him softly, not wanting to startle him. When Ryuu didn’t look up, Kouta went over to gently touch his lover on his shoulder.
“Morning,” Kouta murmured. He noted that Ryuu quickly closed the sketchbook.
“Hey, love,” Ryuu responded, giving him his full attention. “Did you sleep well?”
“Yes.” Kouta sat in a nearby chair. “You were up pretty early.”
“There was this image in my head and I had to get it out,” Ryuu explained.
“Is that what you’re working on now?” Kouta nodded his head towards the drawing pad.
“Yes but it’s not quite finished. It will be by tomorrow though.”
“Are you going to make me wait to see it?”
“Can you please do that?” Ryuu asked.
Normally, he didn’t mind Kouta viewing his work, whether or not it was finished. However, this piece was particularly special.
“No problem,” Kouta answered. He stood to leave, with Aki and Nami circling his legs. “I can make breakfast, if you haven’t eaten yet.”
“I’m hungry,” Ryuu admitted. He grinned sheepishly, as his stomach rumbled. “I came right in here and started drawing…Where’s Ayami?”
“She’s still sleeping.”
“I’m going to flip her bed,” Ryuu said, grinning evilly.
While Kouta was taking out ingredients for breakfast, an indignant shout came from the guest bedroom. Kouta chuckled, as he had no doubt that Ryuu had given Ayami a rude awakening.
Ryuu was looking at Kouta with concern, as he continued to massage Kouta’s legs. After they’d returned from taking a walk around their neighborhood with Ayami, cramps had started to shoot through Kouta’s legs. Sensing that Ryuu wanted to be alone with Kouta, Ayami had left the house to enjoy some much-anticipated shopping.
“I’m okay,” Kouta tried to assure Ryuu. His legs had been unusually sore that morning.
“When’s your next appointment?” Ryuu asked.
“In about two weeks.”
“Let’s try for sooner,” Ryuu said. “And, if this premiere is causing you stress, you don’t have to—”
“Don’t you dare! I’m not changing my mind about going. I’ll be by your side.”
“I know you’re nervous about the premiere,” Ryuu said, as he sat next to Kouta. “We’re not sure what the reaction will be and this is a huge step for us.”
“Thank you; my legs feel much better,” Kouta told him. “And yes, the uncertainty is affecting me but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go through with our plans.”
“It’s not only about the premiere, Kou,” Ryuu reminded him. “You’re still getting used to Alexis, Greg and Natasha’s role in our life. Then you’re doing so much with your career…”
Kouta tucked his legs under him and faced Ryuu. He tugged at Ryuu, until his lover mirrored his position. Then he laced his hands with Ryuu’s and pulled him in for a kiss.
“I want you to stop worrying,” Kouta told him quietly.
“I can’t!” Ryuu exclaimed. “I just don’t like seeing you hurting.”
Kouta gave him another gentle kiss.
“You know sometimes my legs will bother me but I will be careful.”
“Your legs would never have been damaged, if I’d—”
“You promised we’d move past blaming each other for the accident,” Kouta cut him off. When he saw the consternation in Ryuu’s eyes, he tried to lighten the mood. His tone turned salacious. “Besides, the most important parts of me are still intact.” He took Ryuu’s hand and placed it against his crotch.
When Ryuu smiled, Kouta tenderly stroked his face and then playfully ruffled his hair.
“So, I’m curious…” Kouta said, now assured that he’d changed the drift of Ryuu’s mind.
“Will you show me the drawing?”
“The one we talked about yesterday? Yes, it’s ready.”
Ryuu grabbed Kouta’s hand and led him to the office. Ryuu had completed the drawing and proudly handed it to Kouta. Kouta studied the photorealistic version of an image of them that he’d seen on one of the entertainment shows. He recognized some elements but wasn’t sure why Ryuu had drawn this piece.
“I took a screen capture,” Ryuu said. “Then I drew this for us.”
Kouta smiled gently, as he read the words that Ryuu had neatly placed under the drawing.
Built to Last?
Rumor has it that Ryuu Kobayashi and Kouta Sasaki will soon appear together! Next week is the premiere of Kobayashi’s new animated film, The Sentinel. Based upon what we know, the two have been dating for several years. Is this couple built to last?
“What’s this?” Kouta asked.
“I call this piece ‘Yes’ because I’m answering the question from the show,” Ryuu responded quietly, giving Kouta a shy smile.
Kouta took in the details of Ryuu’s black tuxedo, appreciating how the material complemented his lover’s features. Ryuu’s coat was lined with a satin stand-up collar andfrontal piping. His matching pants, which were formal and pleated, didn’t hide the fact that he was trim and fit.
“That is…You look…Your suit is very…”
“Lost your adjectives?” Ryuu teased.
“I’ve seen you in a tux before,” Kouta said. “It’s just that knowing you’re going with me dressed like that makes me want to arrive ‘fashionably late’.”
“Do you want to test how well it’s all put together?” Ryuu asked, wiggling his eyebrows suggestively at Kouta.
“You can’t be late for your own premiere,” Kouta told him, laughing.
Ryuu walked around Kouta, looking at him appreciatively in his dark grey tuxedo.
“I’m going to have to fight someone tonight,” Ryuu said, as he adjusted Kouta’s necktie. “I’m not even letting anyone touch you.”
Kouta grinned, as he basked in Ryuu’s heated gaze. When Ryuu reached to pull him close for a kiss, Kouta gave in for a moment. Then, he put some distance between he and Ryuu. Ryuu let out a groan of frustration.
“Be careful,” Kouta said. “You know where that leads.”
“I can’t wait to strip you down later tonight.”
“Or early tomorrow morning. It depends on how long we party. I’m so looking forward to seeing your new movie.”
“You could have had a sneak peek you know.”
“Yeah but I want to see it with a crowd. I want to admire it and hear the reactions too. I know it will be great.”
The driver of Kouta and Ryuu’s car rolled the vehicle to a stop in front of the red carpet. “Are you ready?” Kouta asked his lover.
“I think so…” Ryuu told him quietly.
Kouta left the car first and then motioned to Ryuu. After taking a deep breath, Ryuu stepped out too. The already excited crowd became even louder. Kouta could feel Ryuu start to shrink away from the depth of the reaction. While Ryuu’s first movie had done well, its initial release hadn’t received the same attention. Ryuu looked at Kouta for support.
“Love, we’ll be fine,” Kouta said.
“How do you know?” Ryuu murmured, his nervousness growing.
“I’m your best friend in the whole world,” Kouta teased, echoing Ryuu’s words from months ago.
As Kouta walked with Ryuu down the red carpet, he let all of the sights and sounds around him fade. Despite the people clamoring around them and the flashes of numerous cameras, they were able to share a small private moment. When they paused for a series of photographs in the primary press area, Kouta rested a supportive hand against Ryuu’s back. He felt Ryuu relax, as confidence began to return to his lover’s body. Kouta thought of how far their relationship had come and how far it would go.