TL: sync
PR: Emy

A woman with a paper umbrella hid underneath the school gate from the gentle rain of the rainy season that continued to fall. Judging from not just her kimono’s color and design, but also the way in which she wore her kimono, she was not a mere commoner.

“Wow, she’s beautiful.”

“Her neck’s long and her eyes are so intense… She’s really hot.”

Even though all the students had crowded round the window to look down at her, the woman didn’t seem the least bit bothered. Rather, she simply smiled sweetly up at them with her red lips, and inclined her umbrella a touch as she looked up at them.

“I wonder if she’s here to collect payment from someone?”

“Like from Mori-sensei in Classic Lit?”

“I’ve heard that Kubo-san in third year frequently visits brothels, too.”

One of the staff ran out to ask what she had come for.

As the woman was led elsewhere, she appeared below the students again. Beside her was a Riotsu second year, Kobori Fumiya.

Side-by-side, their similarities were clear as day.

“Is that Kobori’s big sister?”

“They look so alike.”

Peering over the heads of his classmates, Souichirou looked down once again on the beautiful pair.

He said that he was adopted, didn’t he?

The two looked far too similar to not be related by blood. If that was the case, was that his real sister, then? Or maybe his mother?

The joy at having a family member come visit was nowhere on Fumiya’s face.

If he doesn’t want to go, surely he doesn’t have to…?

Without noticing Souichirou’s gaze, Fumiya left the gate as if chasing after the woman, and disappeared into the haze of rain.

Wishing to see Fumiya once more, Souichirou stood there for a while, opening and squinting his eyes, glaring at the direction of the entrance.

That very same day, Souichirou was again called out by his father.

There, at the ryokan written in the message left at the school’s office and inside the tatami room his earl father was in, he found a geisha and Fumiya were sitting there also.

What’s this all about?

Souichirou was surprised, but, keeping his initial reaction hidden, turned to face his father.

“It’s been a while, Father.”

“Oh, Ernst. You’re here.”

The only one who called Souichirou “Ernst” in Japan was his father.

It had been about half a year since they’d last seen each other. The white hairs on the man’s head had increased over the years, but the nonchalant way in which he carried himself seemed as young as always. No sign of deterioration was visible on his body, large for a Japanese man, and he had dressed up smartly in his business suit.

“Where have you been recently? My brother and sister have been telling me in their letters that you haven’t been back for a while…”

“You haven’t been to see them for a while either, right?”

“Well, that’s true.”

“I was in Hokkaido. I bought a coal mine, so I had to think about what to do with it… I’ve had to draw up a plan for a railroad, too. The quality of the coal isn’t bad, but the ten shaku of snow is making it difficult.”

Shaku – an old unit of measurement in Japan that is equivalent to 30.3cm / 11.9 inches.

“I see. That is troublesome, indeed.”

“Ernst, this is Kotone from Yanagibashi.”

The woman flashed a dazzling smile as she bowed.

“Pleased to make your acquaintance, young master.”

“And over here is her son, Fumiya-kun. …Though, from what I’ve heard, you two are already acquainted?”

“Yes. We’ve been sharing a room since spring.”

Souichirou looked at Fumiya.

“I thought you were just skipping class, but you were actually here, Kobori.”

“Y-Yes.”

Fumiya ducked his head, clearly not wishing to be there.

“Ernst, don’t glare at him like that. Fumiya-kun is a very quiet boy – you should be acting more like his senior.”

“Kobori is too quiet.”

Without missing a beat, the woman began to laugh – it rang clear like a bell – before she shuffled over to Souichirou’s side.

“Please don’t be too hard on him, young master.”

Holding back her sleeve, the woman extended a pale arm and began to pour out some sake.

“When this child was born, I had only just turned fourteen. Of course, it would be difficult for me to raise him at that age, so I allowed the Kobori family to adopt him. They are a rather dull family, and before I realized it, this is what he had become.”

“They are a family of doctors, correct?”

“The husband is an arrogant doctor and the wife a pompous woman. Wanting my child to continue their line of doctors, they forced him to study extremely hard. Even though he was trying his hardest and staying so focused that his words wouldn’t come out right. They were so focused on trying to find a prospective husband for their daughter that they essentially discarded this child—“

“M-Mother,” Fumiya interrupted.

“Oh, are you angry? I’m only telling the truth. Weren’t you the one who said that you didn’t need to succeed their family?”

“…”

“Perhaps giving you to that family was a big mistake. Although they act all high and mighty, they fail to pay attention to the most important things. That insane lodger even managed to target you while you were still only in middle scho—“

“Mother!”

The severity of her son’s tone silenced her.

I wonder what Fumiya was so afraid for us to hear?

Not even giving Souichirou the chance to think of what it could be, Fumiya spoke to his mother as if trying to make something clear to her.

“T-The Kobori family were kind enough to r-raise me, and even now, they’re paying for my education, so I’m incredibly grate…ful to them. Please be g-grateful to them, too, Mother. If you aren’t, you’ll be p-punished.”

“It is as Fumiya-kun says. You should be grateful, Kotone.”

At the earl’s rebuke, the geisha shrugged her shoulders. After giving a short bow to Souichirou, Kotone moved towards the earl, and gracefully poured the sake.

“Well… there are plenty of other ways to get money for your school fees, of course… If I wished for it, would you pay for Fumiya’s education?”

“If you are the one asking, then… I may do,” the earl replied, smiling, not at Fumiya’s mother, but at Fumiya himself. Souichirou noticed Fumiya automatically attempting to return the smile.

…It’s probably because I look a bit like my father.

However, Fumiya’s smile soon vanished without it spreading any wider, and instead, his youthful mother’s elegant smile was the one that bloomed.

“Although, even if I didn’t wish it, Earl, you would have to pay for Fumiya’s fees anyway. After all, there is a chance he is your son.”

Souichirou instinctively looked at Fumiya, who was violently shaking his head.

“M-Mother, please d-don’t… say such rude things…“

As expected though, Souichirou’s father didn’t even lift an eyebrow at Kotone’s implication.

“Was that ever a possibility?”

“Of course. Think back carefully.”

As asked, the earl spent a moment thinking, and then nodded.

“True, Fumiya-kun could be my child.”

“Right? Now that I mention it, Fumiya looks more like you than your son does, doesn’t he? His hair is black, and his eyes aren’t blue.”

“You’re right, he does look a bit like me. However, this child is almost the spitting image of you. I wonder if you somehow conceived him without even a partner?”

“If that is the case, I’m just like the Virgin Mary from the West, aren’t I?”

“Did you give birth in a stable?”

“The midwife did have a long face like a horse.”

“In that case, you were probably in a stable.”

Souichirou’s father laughed together with Fumiya’s mother.

Souichirou shook his head in exasperation as he poured Fumiya some sake. It must be painful sitting there without even having something to drink.

However, Souichirou’s father hadn’t forgotten the children were there.

“A loving father doesn’t pass up the chance for more children. Right, Ernst?”

“Exactly how many siblings are you expecting me to have?”

“If you think about it, everyone in the world is your sibling. Although, that isn’t what you were asking, is it?”

Sake and food were brought out one after the other, until a group of geisha appeared. After the geisha gave their performance, Fumiya’s mother brought out a beautiful shamisen.

“…Mother is called K-Kotone, but her s-specialty, is the… shamisen.”*

*A koto (Kotone) is a Japanese stringed instrument, but Kotone plays the shamisen, not the koto.

“Is it the same shamisen as the one in our room?”

“Yes.”

The food and performances had warmed up the banquet sufficiently.

Eventually, Souichirou’s playful father led Souichirou into the ring of dancing and playing.

But what is Fumiya doing? Is he slowly drinking his sake? Is he playing his shamisen? Is he talking with his mother?

Souichirou had a dream. It might have been what people call a wet dream. After all, he was watching his father and Fumiya’s mother, Kotone, having sex from above.

Was the reason Souichirou was watching someone other than his mother being his father’s partner in bed with such interest because he had reached p***rty? Or was it just because he knew it was a dream?

Kotone noticed Souichirou watching them, and gave a smile across his father’s shoulder. Her red lips looked as if they were inviting him to join them.

Paired up with the slight touch of pink on her cheeks, Souichirou found himself getting aroused.

However, Kotone was Fumiya’s mother.

The minute he remembered that, his sexual desire was gone in a flash.

They look so similar… In fact, they look identical.

As they were mother and son, it was natural they would look similar, but there was no part of Fumiya that would make one ponder if he’d inherited it from his father. With only age and sex being the difference, their two faces looked exactly the same.

And yet, how could the air around them be so different? Was it because of how Fumiya was raised? Was it just his natural personality?

The seductiveness and pomposity present in Kotone was nowhere in Fumiya. To others who saw him, Fumiya was not a significant person in their mind: he simply existed, though in all his beautiful elegance.

Surely the only people who were sexually attracted to him by his appearance alone were ones that held sadistic tendencies? Ones who were cruel to beautiful things just to see how they would fall.

Now that I think about it, Fumiya doesn’t laugh much.

Souichirou was sure he’d seen Fumiya laugh more than once, but if he was asked when that was, he wouldn’t be able to say without thinking first. He didn’t even know what Fumiya found funny, or what sort of jokes he would react to.

To his mother, a geisha, a smile was one of her weapons – by wrapping them round her finger with a mysterious smile, she could manipulate the men drooling at her as she wished.

Souichirou knew his father was no exception, but there was no doubt that in the case of the refined earl, he was happy to be controlled.

As he was thinking about that, the expression on Kotone’s face disappeared—no, this wasn’t Kotone. Those eyes filled with sorrow could only be Fumiya’s.

As Fumiya looked over his father’s strong shoulder at him, the impression Souichirou received compared to when it had been Kotone there was completely different.

In contrast to the greed and pleasure that had dwelled in Kotone’s eyes, Fumiya’s were searching for help under the man holding him down.

Before he knew it, the man who Souichirou thought was his father changed into the captain of the judo team, a third year in Rikou*. He was an important part of the stalwarts, who had been the ones telling everyone to leave the quiet Fumiya alone, and who held great authority, yet he seemed to be the one most attracted to Fumiya.

*kou (甲) = English elective.

Souichirou had never particularly disliked the judo captain – he had self-control and exhibited good leadership. …However, this was different.

Even if he said that he would protect Fumiya, in his dreams and delusions, the captain would most likely continue to pin down Fumiya, and there was no doubt that he would time and again thrust into him, fulfilling his long-cherished desire.

What is this warmth I’m feeling in my chest? Before he could arrive at an answer, he was seeing red.

Stop being so stupid. This is a dream… right? he tried to tell himself, but the heat of his rage refused to leave him.

“A… Akamatsu-senpai… h-help…”

The moment he heard that voice, he realized he couldn’t just stand by and watch. Whether it was a dream or not, if Fumiya needed help, he couldn’t just leave him.

Souichirou grabbed the sweat-covered figure and tore him off.

“Fumiya!”

However, it wasn’t Fumiya that was lying there.

Kotone, breasts that seemed far too large for her thin body drooping to the side, spoke to him with a lazy look in her eyes.

“How about you join me, young master?”

“N… No, it’s fine.”

Shaking his head, Souichirou stepped away.

“Is Fumiya more your type?”

“No, he isn’t. That’s not what I…”

Although he denied it, the body lying spread out on the floor changed into that of a slender boy. On the delicately white skin, the only bright red was the nipples protruding from his chest.

When he noticed the lust emanating from Souichirou’s gaze, Fumiya hugged his arms around his chest.

“D-Don’t… touch me…!”

At that moment, Souichirou could feel himself wanting to tug Fumiya’s arms open.

He wanted to yank them open, and then lay those nipples bare once more. If he placed the boy’s nipples in his mouth, would they taste sweet? Would they feel like a woman’s? If he bit them, what would Fumiya do? Cry, perhaps?

As if hearing Souichirou’s dirty thoughts, Fumiya’s face screwed up, and suddenly, those black eyes were filled with tears.

Instead of feeling pity, his urges only increased in intensity, which caused Souichirou to come to his senses.

What is with me?

He clenched his sweaty hands into tight fists.

His eyes burst open.

It seemed he had fallen asleep sitting at the small dining table. Beside the zabuton, a sake cup had rolled over. A bit of sake had spilled and soaked into the tatami.

The banquet had already finished, and his father and Fumiya’s mother were no longer there.

Fumiya was lying down in the corner of the room. He seemed to have drunk himself to sleep, using a zabuton folded in half as a cushion. In place of a cover, his mother’s haori was draped over him.

Souichirou slowly opened his fists. He wiped his sweaty palms on his legs, the moisture sucked up by his hakama.

Letting out a deep sigh, he stood and headed towards the window.

He opened the shoji.

“…It’s already dawn.”

On the other side of the window pane, the sky was beginning to turn white.

He opened everything that had glass fitted into it, and let his body bathe in the cold air after the rain. A refreshing breeze enveloped his body, all flushed from the drinks.

Souichirou had thought the wind blowing in would have woken Fumiya up, but when he turned around, the boy’s eyes were still tightly shut. He showed no signs of opening them.

As usual, his blazer’s buttoned up all the way to his neck… Is it not painful sleeping like that? he wondered in amusement, but made no movement to loosen his collar.

Souichirou sat where he was by the window, and tried to think of the meaning of his dream. Was it just his mind’s way of telling him that he could love those of his own gender?

Within that school uniform, pale skin was hiding. Vividly red nipples were on that chest. The minute he witnessed that, just what had he been feeling?

It suddenly occurred to him.

Could Kobori… No, could Fumiya have been raped by a man before…?

There was that incident where Fumiya had run all the way from town after meeting Yamaki, his maths teacher. Although he had insisted it was nothing, there had been tears in his eyes – Fumiya had been so scared he was about to cry.

That very idea made Souichirou’s skin crawl, but there was almost no doubt in his mind that Fumiya must have at least had something close to rape done to him before.

Now that he thought about it, Fumiya always tried his hardest to show no skin, always kept his beautiful face bowed low; he was always jumpy and afraid. He would walk quickly without looking anyone in the eye, leaving no time for anyone to call out to him. Every day, he lived in constant vigilance.

To him, being in a state of defenselessness as he slept only gave him more reason to keep his collar tight. That school uniform might have been the only armor Fumiya had to protect his delicate body.


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