“So, where’s the cuter twin?”
Aki set the coffee pot down and leaned against the counter. Shima’s words came back to him from the few days before. They’re flirting with you. He decided to try to play along and pulled out his most charming grin. “I am the cuter twin,” he said, winking.
The customer—a young woman with deep brown eyes, light hair, and a pretty smile—giggled. “You are, are you?”
“No, he’s not,” Shima said as he passed.
She laughed again.
“Hey! I am too,” Aki said, chuckling. He shook his head as he watched Shima walk away, unable to keep his eyes off Shima’s very nice ass. Finally he was able to turn his attention back to the customer.
She was looking at him with an amused smile on her face. “So, it’s true then?”
Aki blinked. “Is what true?”
“That the Kaido brothers are all like that.”
Aki raised an eyebrow. “Like what?” He felt like he was about two steps behind in the conversation.
“In love, silly!” She giggled again.
There was no way for Aki to stop the blush, no matter how hard he tried. “Of course not,” he said, but his voice lacked any sort of conviction, despite his attempts to the contrary.
He did his best to recover and tried to grin again. “Now, why would I want any of my brothers if there are pretty girls like you?”
She shook her head, giggling again. “Uh huh. Nice try. You know, if you and your twin kissed as much as Ren and Haru did, you’d make a ton of tips.”
Aki didn’t quite know what to say to that. When Shima had mentioned the “twincest” thing the few days before, Aki hadn’t known how to take it. He was certainly not opposed to something like that, by any stretch of the imagination. But despite normally being able to read his brother, he hadn’t been able to figure out where Shima stood on that. And the lack of reaction had both hurt and irritated him. He was confused enough about his twin brother, so to not have an outright no in some way was frustrating. Of course, not having an outright yes had hurt. He pushed the thought off and managed to smile again. “I think you’ve been reading too many boy love novels,” he said, then winked again to show he was teasing.
Thankfully, she just smiled. “Uh huh.” She made a come here gesture and Aki leaned a little closer. “I’ve seen the way you look at him,” she whispered.
Aki raised his eyebrows. “Looked at him? Him who?”
She rolled her eyes. “Your twin brother.” She tilted her head in the direction Shima had gone. “Based on your reaction, though, I’m thinking he doesn’t know, am I right?”
“Uh…” Aki, at a loss, fumbled his reply horribly. “There’s nothing to know,” he said, chuckling and scratching the back of his head as he stood back up.
Her amused expression didn’t help Aki’s mood. “Of course not. Do you have a girlfriend?”
“No, in fact I am currently unattached,” Aki said, managing to put a pout to it. He leaned closer once again. “Would you like to go out with me?” He waggled his eyebrows.
“Aw, that’s not very nice to your brother!” She smiled again. “So, no girlfriend, right? Why not?”
Aki was trying very hard to not get irritated. It wasn’t like he could date his brother, even if Shima returned his feelings, which, of course, he didn’t. And the reason he didn’t have a new girlfriend was quite obvious in his head—no one measured up to Shima—and he couldn’t bring himself to fake it right now. He certainly couldn’t say any of that, though. Since he didn’t know exactly what to say, all that came out was, “I told you, it’s not like that,” much ruder than he meant for it to. He blushed. “Err, I’m sorry. But… it isn’t.”
“Right. Sure.” She giggled again as she pulled money out of her purse and laid it next to the check, then leaned in toward him once more. “Seriously. Tell him.” With a wave, she hopped off the stool and left.
Aki picked up the money and went to take care of the check. “Crazy women,” he muttered. But no matter what he did, he couldn’t get her words out of his head the rest of the day.
He was starting to get annoyed—irritated, frustrated, angry, he couldn’t come up with a sufficiently extreme descriptor. It all applied in more ways than one: at himself, the world, his life. It seemed to him that his feelings for Shima were getting more and more prominent in his head and heart lately. He used to be able to ignore it a lot better, put his emotions—at least as far as Shima was concerned—aside and worry about the other parts of life, like school, working, the rest of the family, for fuck’s sake.
But lately, just looking at Shima has made things more difficult for him. Like watching him walk around the cafe. Aki’s attention was constantly getting stuck on Shima’s ass or the smooth way he walked or the rare smiles he gave. All of which twisted Aki’s insides up. He’d spent most of his time lately either aroused, frustrated, or aching.
The most prominent was aching, though. It was getting harder and harder to keep from wanting more than he should with his twin. He made up excuses to touch—like the time he’d been laying on the couch and used Shima to prop his head up. His neck had hurt for a while, but he wasn’t going to turn down a chance to touch.
Aki sighed and tilted his face up to the water. He wished the hot water could wash the ache in his chest away, but it didn’t work that way, as much as he wanted it to. If he couldn’t deal with the ache, he could, at least, take care of something else.
He grabbed the conditioner bottle and poured some into his hand. Shifting so he wasn’t in the direct line of water, he coated two fingers, then wrapped his hand with the rest of the conditioner around his cock. He sucked in a breath because it felt way too good. It’d obviously been too long since he’d relieved his frustrations this way.
With the two coated fingers, he reached back to tease his ass. He pushed the first finger inside, moaning softly at the feel. With his other hand, he started stroking his cock, his eyes sliding closed with the pleasure. He thought about the train trip where he’d been stuck against Shima, his brother’s cock nestled between his ass cheeks. He imagined what it would be like if, instead of his fingers, he had Shima’s length filling him, sliding slowly into him.
He dropped his head forward, his hand moving a little faster as the fantasy took form. The image surfaced of Shima’s face filled with pleasure from being inside Aki’s body, and he focused his fantasy on it. He moved his fingers a little more, speeding up his hand as it moved over his length at the same time. The sounds came out even louder, moans of pleasure filling the shower.
Aki bit his lip to hold them in. He really did not want anyone walking in in that moment. The water would help mask some noise, but not all of it.
Focusing on the pleasure, he added sounds to his fantasy. He’d heard Shima masturbate a few times—there were advantages to having a room next to him—the last one fairly recently. He was so messed up over his brother, he’d even imagined Shima calling his name through orgasm. It helped him now, though, as he brought that to mind and he fucked himself with his fingers faster, his hand matching the pace he set with his fingers.
Pleasure spiked, making him grit his teeth to hold in his moans. The fantasy pulled him along, his orgasm screaming up on him fast. As much as he wanted to draw it out, he couldn’t stay in the shower too long, so he let himself go, chase the pleasure. In his mind’s eye, Shima threw his head back and groaned Aki’s name.
That was all it took. Imagined or not, the thought of doing that for Shima had his balls drawing up. A few strokes later, he went over the edge. The orgasm hit, the pleasure huge, stealing his sanity. He painted the tile in his cum, and a grunted “Fuck Shima” slipped out. He kept moving his hand to draw out his pleasure and make it last as long as he could.
Finally, he slumped forward. He panted hard, trying to remember how to breathe, but oxygen seemed rather elusive at that moment. He pulled his fingers out of his ass and turned to lean back against the shower tiles. Closing his eyes, he rested his head against the wall.
He swallowed hard as a lump formed in his throat. Struggling with his emotions, he swore he wasn’t going to give into them this time. He took harsh breaths, determined to fight it.
Was this all he’d ever have? If he couldn’t have his brother, would he ever be able to touch another person, instead? Hold them? Feel them? Fall in love? Make love?
But the thought of doing something with anyone other than Shima went beyond not sitting right. He was caught between being sick and wanting to punch something. He had exactly zero interest in another person, male or female. It was why he sucked so badly with women—he didn’t want them.
At the same time, how long could he go on imaging what Shima felt like, looked like in pleasure, sounded like while calling Aki’s name through orgasm? He’d never know any of those, never be able to feel and hear them for himself. How much could he live with just his imagination and his hand?
He banged his head back against the wall, though it didn’t do any good. Because he didn’t know how he’d ever be able to give any of this up, either. If this was all he’d ever have of Shima, he couldn’t see himself ever letting it go. He truly didn’t think he could force himself to be with someone else, just to forget Shima, especially because, as brothers, they’d be seeing each other for the rest of his life. How would he explain to Haru and Ren why he didn’t want to see their other brother? How would he explain to Shima? So that wasn’t an option, he’d always be seeing Shima. And every time he saw his twin brother, he’d feel how wrong it was being with someone else—both to the person he’d be with as well as Shima. Would he even be able to have sex without imagining his brother in their place?
Aki turned and adjusted the water temperature to make it a bit hotter. He swallowed again around the lump in his throat and lifted his face to let the shower water fall over it.
Because then he could tell himself the only water on his face was from the shower.
Aki slid onto the stool and slumped down at the bar. He sighed and rubbed his face hard. This wasn’t the best idea, but he needed to stop thinking for a while and it was all he could come up with. Nothing had worked recently, not his video games, not television, not reading, nothing.
“You look like you need this.”
Aki dropped his hands to see a shot glass with dark brown liquid in it in front of him. He lifted it and sniffed. The strong scent just about knocked him off the stool. “What is it?” He looked up at the bartender with raised eyebrows.
“Don’t give him that!” Kiyoka said, sliding onto the stool next to Aki.
“Why not?” Aki asked, glaring at her. “I’m of age.”
Kiyoka frowned. “Oh. Yeah. I forgot.” She waved. “Carry on.”
Aki shook his head and lifted the glass to his lips. He took one sip and started coughing. “Holy shit.” He coughed again, but then took a breath and downed the rest.
Kiyoka started laughing.
Aki glared at her, then looked up at the bartender. “Another, please.”
“You’ll regret that,” Kiyoka said, chuckling as the bartender picked up the bottle and poured a second.
With another breath, Aki downed the second shot. He coughed again, but not as badly that time. “Doubtful.”
“You’ll be lucky if you don’t pass out. You’re not used to drinking, are you?”
Aki shrugged a shoulder. “No. But passing out wouldn’t be a bad thing.”
Kiyoka raised a single delicate eyebrow. “And why would that be?”
“I might be able to stop thinking for a while,” he muttered. He looked up at the bartender, who shook his head, but poured another shot.
Aki didn’t drink right away, though. He frowned down into the liquid, realizing he was already feeling slightly fuzzy. Isn’t that good though? Don’t want to think… On the other hand, if he got drunk too quickly, he’d pass out too quickly and then wake back up too fast. He set the glass down and sighed.
“Why do you want to stop thinking?” Kiyoka asked.
Aki glanced up at the bartender, who seemed to realize Aki didn’t want to speak in front of him. When he stepped away, Aki sighed again. “I… There’s someone I like, but they don’t like me and I’m trying to figure out how to let them go.”
“Ah.” Kiyoka nodded. “That’s a dilemma. I’ve certainly been there. Want to tell me who?”
Aki puzzled over the “been there” part a moment, then remembered she’d once confessed to Haru. He shook his head. “Not a good idea.”
Kiyoka raised an eyebrow. “Why?”
“It’s…” Aki blew out a breath. Considering the way Kiyoka had reacted the first time she saw Haru and Ren, Aki had no doubt she’d freak out if he told her the guy he was in love with was Shima. “It’s a guy,” he settled on before drinking the shot.
Aki paused. He’d actually forgotten Kiyoka was really a guy under those clothes and moreover a guy who’d confessed to Haru once upon a time. Still… “So… he wouldn’t want me to tell him. First…” First, it’s my twin brother. “He’s only ever dated girls. I don’t think he, uh, goes that way.”
“You’ve only ever dated girls,” Kiyoka pointed out. “Maybe he thinks the same about you.”
“Doubtful.” Aki scowled. “And yeah, I’ve dated girls, but that was just—” Just because I didn’t want to think too hard about Shima.
“Don’t you think it’s possible he’s just never found a guy he’s interested in? That maybe he’s bi?”
“Not likely.” Aki shook his head and downed the third shot. “Doesn’t matter. That’s not the only problem between us.” He set the glass down. “That stuff is good. But I’m not nearly drunk enough.”
Kiyoka laughed. “Give it a bit.”
Aki didn’t say anything for a long moment. He focused his gaze on the counter below him, trying to think of something other than Shima, his feelings for his twin, or the pile of memories that kept prodding him.
Like the date they’d gone on. Neither of them would admit that’s what it’d been, but Aki would never, in his life, forget the feeling of Shima’s arm around him in the movie theater. Or the feel of those lips wrapped around his fingers on the bridge in the park. Or the look on Shima’s face at the end, when they’d talked about how good the night had been.
Then there was the dream Aki had had. It’d been so damned vivid, of Shima playing with his hair, kissing him, and saying “I love you.” It’d felt so fucking real and he’d been so disappointed when he woke up. Annoyed with himself, he looked for the bartender again and when he caught the guy’s attention, pointed at his glass again.
“You’ll be lucky to get back into the house at the rate you’re going.” Kiyoka’s amused voice did not help Aki’s mood.
“I can get to the couch,” he said, though he didn’t sound very convincing.
“Of course you can.”
Aki appreciated Kiyoka playing along, at least.
“So. Who is it?”
Aki ignored her for a moment while the bartender poured; then he downed the next shot of whiskey. It’d be a really bad idea to tell her. And he wasn’t nearly drunk enough to deal with her reaction. He shook his head again.
“I’ll bet I can guess.” Kiyoka tapped a manicured nail against her painted lips. “Does little Ren have more than one admirer?”
Aki scowled. “I’m not into kids.”
“He’s not a little kid anymore. Don’t you remind Haru of that?”
“I’m trying to get Haru to stop tormenting Ren,” Aki said, scowl deepening. “Seriously, not interested in him.”
“Hmmmm. Not Ren. Haru?”
Aki rolled his eyes. “Ugh. No. And why does everyone think we’re all in love with our brothers?” He shook his head again. His face was started to feel warm and the fuzziness was getting worse. He wondered how many more shots it would take to truly pass out. Maybe it’d be enough to knock him out for the night. He signaled the bartender again, who glanced at Kiyoka with a raised eyebrow. She nodded and he poured another. Aki wanted to be annoyed at him waiting for her permission, but couldn’t really summon the emotion to do so.
Kiyoka raised her eyebrows. “Someone else say this?”
“The customers have been making not-so-veiled comments.” Aki buried his face in his hands, trying not to tell Kiyoka to leave him alone. He’d come here to stop thinking, stop fantasizing about his brother, stop feeling for just a little while. He certainly didn’t want to talk more about it. His fuzziness was getting worse and he was hopeful the alcohol would take over completely soon. “Doesn’t matter. Even if he knows, it’s not like anything’ll happen. Can’t.” He downed the next shot and swayed a bit on the stool.
“Well, looks like the whiskey finally hit,” Kiyoka said, chuckling. “So, why can’t it?”
“Because we’re twins.” Aki scowled at the shot glass, trying to remember when he drank it. He didn’t remember taking that shot.
Aki winced at the shriek in his ear. “Ow. What was that for?” He looked up at Kiyoka but she seemed to have turned into two people. “Oh huh. Two of you?”
The twin Kiyokas tilted their heads. “Your twin brother?”
“What?” He tried to focus on her again, not sure how a second one appeared. “Do you have a twin too? I don’t remember hearing about that. Both of you cross dress? Wow, that’s—”
The Kiyokas started laughing.
Aki’s irritation took over. “Why are you two laughing?”
This only seemed to make the Kiyokas laugh harder. She bent over, holding her stomach. Aki tilted his head, but the world tilted at the same time. “Whoa.” He gripped the bar hard and looked up for the bartender. “C-c-can I h-have an-nother?”
This sent the Kiyokas into even more laughter. They waved at the bartender, who moved down the bar. Aki scowled after him, but when he tried to raise his hand to get the bartender’s attention, he got distracted by it. He glared at his hand for a moment. “Really tired of you being my lover,” he mumbled. “Wish I didn’t love my damned brother.” He dropped his forehead onto the bar.
One of the Kiyokas tsked. “I don’t get it, but I guess that’s just how it is. You can’t control you who love.” One of them poked him. “And Aki, darlin’, I think it’s time you go back.”
“Not drunk ‘nough.” He rolled his head to the side so he could look at them.
“Too drunk.” The Kiyokas snickered. “You are in for a world of hurt tomorrow.” They shook their heads, then patted him on the shoulder, which felt weird. Even though there were two of them, he only felt one hand. He tried to focus on them to figure out which one was patting him, but he couldn’t figure it out and gave up. He tried to sit up but the bar tilted on its axis, sending him off-balance. One of the Kiyokas steadied him and to save himself from falling off the world, he put his head back down. “Stay put.” One of the Kiyokas waved at the bartender again. When he came over, she leaned forward. Aki couldn’t hear what she said, and couldn’t summon the will to care.
He closed his eyes, but as soon as he did, the image of Shima’s face floated behind his eyelids. “Not s’possed to see you. S’why I got drunk,” he muttered.
“Who’s he not supposed to see?” Shima’s voice asked from somewhere behind him.
“Fuckin’ ‘lluci—hallu—dreamin’ again. Gotta stop doin’ that.”
“No idea,” Kiyoka’s voice answered. “Do you have Ringl, Eve, or Tylenol?”
“Yeah,” Shima’s voice answered.
“He needs some. And water. Or he’s going to be in serious pain tomorrow. He had way too much whiskey.”
“Thanks. I got him from here,” Shima said.
Aki looked up, trying to peer through the haze at the person wrapping an arm around him. It looked an awful lot like… “Shima? Nope. Can’t be. ‘Sokay. I got this,” Aki said, sliding off the stool.
However, if it wasn’t for the arm around him, he’d have ended up a pile on the floor. The man hoisted him a little higher and steadied him. “Wait. Gotta pay.” Aki shoved his hand in his pocket but couldn’t seem to pull the wad of yen out.
“Don’t worry about it. You can pay me back,” Kiyoka’s voice said.
“How’m I gonna pay back a voice?” Aki asked.
The Kiyoka voice laughed. The person holding Aki up chuckled and pulled on him. “Come on. I can’t carry you myself. You have to walk at least a little.”
Aki had no idea for sure how he made the trip. He didn’t remember a single step between the bar and his bed. He only realized where he was when he flopped onto the mattress.
“What the hell did he do?” That sounded like Haru’s voice, but when Aki peered up into the gloom, he couldn’t see anything.
“Apparently got drunk,” Shima’s voice said. “Kiyoka said it was whiskey.”
“Well. He didn’t go easy for his first time, did he?” Haru’s voice asked.
“Would you expect him to?”
“True, no. How many?” That was Haru’s voice again.
“I didn’t ask. Too many.” Shima’s voice tsked again. “He needs water. And the Tylenol,” Shima said and footsteps retreated. Then a pair of hands started pulling on Aki’s jeans. Aki swatted at them, but they didn’t stop. “You don’t need to sleep in them. Stop that.”
“Don’ wanna,” Aki grumbled. “Lemme ‘lone.”
Unfortunately, whoever was working on Aki’s jeans was steadier and stronger than he was. He wished he could stop hallucinating Shima’s voice, though. He was going to embarrass himself in front of the person helping him if he didn’t.
Luckily, they finished pulling off his jeans and T-shirt quickly before his body could react to the voice, then manhandled him under the blanket. A moment later, footsteps sounded again, then a hand held a glass of water in front of him. “Drink,” Shima’s voice said.
Aki couldn’t seem to muster the will to fight his hallucination. He took the glass, but splashed some onto himself.
“Geez. Wait, here, take these first.” The hand held out a couple of pills. Something told Aki he shouldn’t take pills from a hallucination, but he couldn’t hold onto that thought. He took them and put them in his mouth, then drank as the glass was held to his lips. He managed, this time, to not dribble it down his front. The annoying hallucination kept prodding him until he finished the whole glass, but finally he did it. A hand patted his shoulder, footsteps retreated and he thought he heard Haru’s and Shima’s voices again, but he couldn’t make it out because the alcohol finally got to him and he passed out.
Aki stepped off the train, breathing a sigh of relief. He was seriously tired of getting groped, especially by strange old men. If was going to be groped, he’d rather it was by someone who looked exactly like him. It’d annoyed him to no end that the extra work he’d had to do for his professor had meant he’d been stuck coming home during rush hour and, thus, being on the overcrowded train.
Shaking his head at himself, he focused on getting out of the station. He was distracted as he walked by the now-perpetual thoughts of Shima, only registering the clouds overhead when he stepped into the park. Looking up, he frowned at the sky, but figured he had enough time yet before he got home, so he left his umbrella in his bag.
It seemed like it took forever for him to get to the gate to their house. He paid no attention to the path to the front door, nor to the door itself. He just wanted to get his shoes off and flop onto the couch—hopefully next to Shima—and play his game a little before they had dinner and he had to do his homework.
He yawned as he closed the door behind him, then shook his head hard. It wasn’t until he looked down in the genkan and saw a pair of shoes he didn’t recognize that he actually paid attention to his surroundings. He puzzled over the shoes—they were women’s—before he looked up.
And stopped dead.
He couldn’t see all of the living room from the genkan, but he could see enough. He knew his brother, could pick Shima out of a crowd from fifty meters away. And he most certainly recognized the sock-covered feet on the floor in front of the couch.
What he didn’t recognize was the pair of sock-covered feet on either side of Shima’s legs. The smaller, very feminine sock-covered feet.
Aki’s heart stopped. He forgot how to breathe for a moment. His stomach twisted and his vision went fuzzy.
He barely registered the book bags on the floor next to the table or the books open and papers and spread across the surface. Tutoring session. Aki vaguely remembered Shima mentioning something about it.
But he couldn’t seem to wrap his head around that concept or make it stick. All he could seem to focus on was the very intimate position his brother was in with a woman. The brother he was in love with.
His bag fell from numbed fingers and without thinking about it, he turned on his heel and bolted from the house. He crashed through the front gate, then ran down the street without looking back. He couldn’t see Shima run out with the girl next to him. There was just no way he could look at the person his brother wanted.
Because it wasn’t him.
Aki only gathered his wits enough to make sure he didn’t get hit crossing the street. He dodged cars and bicycles, wove between people on the sidewalk, then darted into the park. He didn’t even think, wasn’t conscious of where he was going, exactly, just moved on autopilot.
Just as he slipped between two bushes in an out of the way corner of the park, the sky opened up. Aki ignored it, dropping to sit in the center of the tiny clearing he and Shima had discovered years ago when they needed to be alone together. The rain fell hard, soaking the grass around Aki, but he didn’t give even the tiniest damn that he was going to get soaked and possibly sick. He just couldn’t care.
He didn’t know why he reacted the way he did, why it’d hit him so hard. It was true, his feelings for Shima were so much closer to the surface recently, but it wasn’t like they hadn’t dated women on and off for years. Aki had had as many girlfriends as Shima had. He had no right to get upset over Shima having a girlfriend, or even being intimate with her.
There was no reason Shima couldn’t get a girlfriend. There was nothing holding his brother back from spending time with her—even in the living room—when they were together. Shima had every right to be with her.
He kept repeating that to himself. Shima has every right. I have no right to get upset…
But it hurt. He couldn’t breathe. His chest ached. He briefly wondered if a knife between the ribs would hurt less. He squeezed his eyes shut, grateful for the rain washing his face. Images of their date and of the memory of Shima’s arm around him, hit him hard.
Apparently, that had all been in his head. He’d been the only one who’d felt like that. He felt so stupid. He knew better, knew that someday Shima would find someone. Someday his brother would do things with her, be intimate with her.
Make love to her.
Aki dropped his forehead to his knees, resting his head on them. The rain soaked through his shirt and jeans, but Aki paid no mind to it. He welcomed it, letting it pour over him, hoping it would wash this hopeless love for his brother away.