And Not just any salad, because I despise lettuce.
I replace those greens with fresh baby spinach leaves.
Then I toss in things like Trail mix (Sun flower seeds, raisins, cranberries, mixed nuts none of those strange candied crap mixes... healthy stuff, low salt.) Croutons (Lots of croutons, I'm a crouton WHORE), sometimes some of those small mandarin orange slices... No meat, no cheese... top with Ranch dressing....
put it all in a Ziploc bag, shake it up and serve with chopsticks (I never eat salad with a fork anymore, soooooo much easier with chopsticks.)
Next amaronith you mentioned a Crush on Keiji-kun.... I'm sure Yuki will be put out. ~_^
Why do I say this... my original fiction is taking shape, and I've got a bare bones layout so far... so if anyone is interest (I scrapped the last idea completely and started over)
Series Title: Greenlings
Book ONE: Ai no Hanashi (Story of Love)
Chapter Number: Prologue
Author: D. Sanders
The Lands of Ardfel were facing change. The King was growing old, and for too long let his council of lords rule their prefectures as they saw fit. So long as the tributes to the crown were paid, King Leuoe paid no heed. His son however watched and grew afraid. Times would change and not for the better if he did not stay vigilant and gather around him men and women he could trust. Every year the greenlings grew fewer and fewer, returning to their hidden cities in the far north and south, beyond greater Ardfel’s borders.
Inuoe knew the signs of danger were on the horizon if the fair folk were fleeing in droves, and no amount of persuasion could convince his father otherwise.
So Inuoe would wait, watch, learn and prepare.
Keiji sat listening to his foster mother’s labored breathing, worried that each breath would be her last. Every year it seemed to worsen, she was old, far older than anyone he knew or had known in his short fifteen years. Orphaned and left to die, she had found him and raised him, his heritage a mystery. His fiery red hair and strangely bright peacock blue eyes where also a mystery, no one in this little Greenling village ever had such coloring, no greenling did, only humans had such coloring, but only greenlings had the magic sense.
Keiji had both, very diluted but it was there. He had intuition and cunning, he knew when danger was near, he could be silent as the cat in the night, and he was far too quick witted and smart for his own good, curiosity tended to get him in severe trouble while growing up.
But for all his devilish pranks, he was well loved - it was impossible not to love the impish redhead, even if he drove you crazy with his ornery streaks.
“Now Keiji don’t look at me with the death fear in your eyes. What have I told you my little seedling? I am not so close yet. One more year in me lad.” She rasped taking his young hand in hers.
“I know, it’s just…”
“It’s just you don’t like letting go. You may act like a thistle amongst roses, but you are the orchid in bloom in your heart where it matters.” She smiled as she sat up to drink the tea Keiji had brewed for her and sat on her table nearby.
“Keiji, you have a grand future ahead of you, I have seen it, you will make me proud.”
“You keep saying that. Why won’t you tell me your visions?” Keiji asked hearing her say this day after day without so much as a hint of what she had seen was frustrating.
“Because it is a path you must walk on your own, without my direction. All I will tell you, and all that you need know is this… When you find the snow that is soft and warm to the touch, that makes your heart skip and yearn, hang onto it, that is yours and only yours.”
“Again with the snow? Mama, you can’t hold snow, nor is it soft and warm. You’re senile.”
The old woman laughed until she gasped for air slapping Keiji’s knee where she lay. “My dear, dear boy. You will see. You will see.”
A youth who looked far younger than his years due to malnutrition and years of abuse sat huddled in the corner of his chambers - an iron collar around his neck chained him to a central point on the floor. He was born of hate, a bastard son to a human lord, his mother a greenling taken captive on a whim. He was never meant to be; he was a lord’s lustful shame, and a woman’s worst nightmare. The only reason he still drew breath was his father’s twisted sense of guilt. He was barely alive, he ate what he could manage to wrestle away from the hunting dogs that belonged to his much older brothers, and being small and shackled he didn’t manage to win much food.
His Father’s death just made his situation worse; his brothers humiliated him, and beat him. He was a game to them, every evening he was brought into the main hall for the dinner hour, made to stand in a corner and watch all the court feast, then the dogs were brought in and the leftovers tossed out onto the floor where he’d have to fight for his days rations.
The iron heavy around his neck a constant reminder he was half greenling and they feared his sense. Only iron made it impossible for him to use whatever gifts he’d inherited from his mother.
He’d never known a day where the iron wasn’t there, but he knew, deep down he knew he was strong, why else did they keep him bound. His hair was the sign they feared. The telltale sign he was gifted. From his birth, he had hair of the most pure and pristine white. It never held color - the magic he had been born into constantly bleached his hair and allowed no pigment. He had no other body hair apart from his hair and eyebrows. Even after puberty came and went, he still remained as before, his human blood had lost the battle in his make up, he was more greenling in his creation, and that was what he thought caused his father and brother’s to fear most. He was an unknown variable, and they made sure they caged him so his full potential would never be realized.
All of these factors the youth could bear, even his name or lack thereof was a burden he had grown accustomed to. He had never been given a proper name, he was called what he was, a Bastard. It hurt but such torment wouldn’t kill him. The only suffering that caused him to wish he’d never been born was the suffering of others because of him.
If anyone showed him pity or worse kindness, Akui, the eldest brother brought a swift end to them. Often killing them in front of the poor boy to drive home the point he should always be alone, to make a friend would be to sign their death warrant.
To this end, the boy called Bastard, never uttered a word, never spoke, never showed emotion, just blindly followed orders, and existed and ceased to live. The rumors he killed those who showed him kindness circulated but were not believed. The people knew better, they knew the boy wouldn’t kill, but they knew death did come from another hand, so they avoided him.
They pitied in silence, and watched the youth turn ever more into a living statue. Cold, distant, and devoid of happiness, a creature of extreme sorrow and all those who bore witness to his torment, held their tongues out of fear, kept their distance to spare themselves as much as to spare the boy any more death on his conscience.
One more year to the day and she was gone. Keiji had tried to remain in that little house on his own, but her memory was everywhere. His once happy home had turned to sorrow, he lasted a year before he could bear it no longer and with a heavy hand he boarded up the windows, grabbed a sack full of rations, his bow, his dagger, his sword and left his small village in the high forested mountains and began his journey.
He had no direction, no purpose, but he was a strong lad of seventeen summers, tall, handsome, quick of foot and quicker of mind, he had no doubts he would be able to survive. His fellow villagers came out to wish him well, gifting him trinkets to protect him as he left their secluded sanctuary.
The world of men was vast and volatile. They tried to convince him to stay, but everyone knew Keiji’s path would lead away from them one day, that day had finally come.
“Kojiro Keiji, when you return, you must bring with you the snow. It is important that you do so.” The village mage, elder Ryuuen, spoke as he tied a smooth blue river stone, engraved with the symbol of protection, and attached to a leather lace around Keiji’s neck.
“Again with the snow? Don’t we get enough up here in winter without me bringing back more?”
“Cheeky boy. Kojiro Hana should have boxed your ears more for that tongue. You will know when you find it, and then bring it here. Hana told you this and I have seen it too. We cannot tell you more, and you know that too. Patience was never one of your virtues.”
Keiji just rolled his eyes.
“Nor when to be respectful of your elders. Be safe young one, the world needs you.”
“The world needs me like it needs another war. I’ll be fine.” Keiji waved over his head as he walked down the path.
“That is precisely why the world needs you both.” Ryuuen sighed and spoke to the wind as Keiji disappeared beyond the bend.
Keiji had been wandering most of the spring and summer and decided that since autumn and winter was on the horizon he’d find himself a job that would keep him indoors for the bitter seasons, he could always continue his travels in the good weather after all. So he pondered his options one night as he sat in a pub in a small village and listened to the patron’s conversations.
“I hear his Lordship Kanashimi is looking for a guard for the Bastard.”
“He’ll nary find one, it’s a death sentence.”
“The Bastard wouldn’t kill a fly. You don’t believe those rumors.”
“No, but every poor fool ever to work that position has either disappeared or turned up dead. No thank you. Pay or no pay it’s not worth it.”
Ever one for a challenge Keiji finished his extremely watered down stout, wiped the froth from his upper lip, grabbed his sack, and headed for the door. Tipping his head to the group of men he’d been eavesdropping on.
“Thank you for the job tip.” He winked as he spoke and gleefully watched the older men choke on their brews.
“Lad are you daft? It’s a death sentence!”
“It’s a challenge. I like a challenge.”
“It’s an adventure.”
“It be your tombstone laddy.”
And with that Keiji was on his way to Kanashimi Keep, ancestral home of the Kanashimi clan, the seat for the ruling lords of the Kana Prefecture, the last human domain in the north before the greenling lands and the vast forests and mountains began. He’d been wandering about the Kana prefecture for months doing odd jobs here and there, getting used to the human settlements and listening to the rumors milling about.
Always one to gather information for his own interests, Keiji thought this venture worth the danger to learn more about the interesting politics that clung to humans like a plague. Intrigue and plotting, for a mind like Keiji’s it was an irresistible puzzle waiting to be solved.
Being reckless by nature, Keiji wasted no time in pursuing this path laid before him. If worse came to worse he had no doubt he could easily escape and head for greener pastures.
How hard was it going to be to guard one person? From the sounds of things he was nothing to concern himself over, he’d just have to watch Lord Akui Kanashimi and when the winds of favor shifted Keiji would be long gone.
He may be reckless, but he was no one’s fool after all.
Or so he thought…
Series Title: Greenlings
Book ONE: Ai no Hanashi (Story of Love)
Chapter Number: One
Author: D. Sanders
Keiji reached Kanashimi Keep during the evening dinner hour and when he stated his business to the servant who greeted him at the gates he was certain the poor bastards eyes had fallen from their sockets.
“Please spare me the warnings, I’ve heard them. Will you take my request to his Lordship please?” Keiji stated leaning up against the doorframe and crossing his arms across his chest.
“It’s your funeral.” The old man said and disappeared leaving Keiji to wait at the door.
“Your lordship, begging your pardon. But a young mercenary be at the door, he’s heard you are looking for a keeper.” The old man bent half over in submissiveness as he told his master of the visitor.
Akui watching the dogs and his youngest half sibling fight over rations chuckled. “So bring him here. He can watch too.”
The servant bowed and went to retrieve the redheaded youth from the door.
Keiji carefully kept his reaction in check, as he was lead into the hall full of taunts and hollering. There on the floor a painfully thin boy was half being mauled by a rather large mastiff, over a mutton bone with hardly enough meat on it to sustain a child of four. The boy was filthy, his long hair a riot of snarls and tangles, his clothes made of discarded burlap tied together with rope to hide his nakedness. It was appalling. The greenling being abused was against all laws of Ardfel. The Greenlings or Fair Folk were protected from harm by law in an ancient treaty between Ardfel’s first king and the Greenling Elder’s council. Keiji bit his tongue and bowed to the handsome dark haired man in the Lord’s seat at the high table.
Keiji noticed the handsome face, and the trim physique, but he always did notice a man in good form, it was in his nature and Akui was a man in the prime of his life, thirty summers, fit, strong, handsome and infinitely cruel. Keiji could feel the perverse joy of watching the small white haired youth positively saturate him with negative energy. It made Keiji’s skin crawl, but he smiled, bowed and put on an indifferent air. Humans could be very easy to deceive, they gave out plenty of signals Keiji could read like a book and then act accordingly.
It was times like this Keiji was thankful his human heritage was what was dominant in his features and coloring. Unless they stripped him down to see he had no body hair, they’d never know he was half greenling. Greenlings only had hair in three shades, Green for those born with the healing arts, Blue for the common folk, with little to no sense beyond simple witchery or rune reading, or the rarest of them all Pure White, the mage class.
Humans achieved white hair only with age or a birth defect; a greenling with white hair was pure power, adepts of the highest order. Ryuuen was one such mage, and Keiji had always admired his village elder, and the restraint from temptation he used when applying his senses to the world around them.
Their eyes came in only four shades. The lightest of blues, violet, gold or green, or a mixture of said colors. The shades were also never darker than the Violet of Amethyst, or Peridot Green, blue topaz, or goldenrod.
Those with greenling blood in them were usually painfully obvious to recognize.
Except in Keiji’s case. Bright red hair like an over-ripe apple and eyes that mimicked a peacock feather’s iridescent-blue hue, much too dark for greenling stock, and an oddity for a human as well, but still closer to human coloring than a greenling. Save for his one concession to his greenling heritage with his total lack of body hair, you’d never be able to tell at all.
And even then all he had to do was claim lice infestation and he’d been forced to shave. A simple lie to prevent knowledge of his dual heritage he held the upper hand.
He was eternally grateful of this fact too seeing as Lord Kanashimi blatantly disregarded Ardfel law and was publicly torturing a greenling right in his very hall as dinner entertainment.
“I’ve been informed you’re here for the Keeper position.” Akui said eyeing Keiji over the rim of his goblet.
“I am my lord.”
“And why should I give this position to you?”
“Pardon my being bold my Lord, but the rumors I hear of it being dangerous have piqued my interest. I like a good challenge.”
Akui laughed and pointed toward the boy on the floor. “The Bastard is challenging. He’s killed all his previous Keepers have you heard that?”
“I have. It is why I am here.”
“You have balls lad. And seeing as I am in need urgently of a keeper, I’ll not bother with anything more formal. The rules are simple, Keep him locked and guarded in his room. Do not coddle him, do not trust him and do not show the creature kindness or pity. He’s a foul blight on this family and will be treated as such. I am away to court in the capital on the morrow, you have excellent timing lad. I will be gone until spring. Your duties will be simple. He feeds with the dogs once a day normally. But seeing as the dogs will be coming with me, feed him once a day from the kitchen scraps. No more. Keep him inside, he must never go outside, he remains within the keep at all times and in his chamber. Your chamber will be next to his, do not expect conversation, he’s a mute and a simpleton.” Akui said as the servants began to clear the table and the youth huddled near the hearth trying desperately to gnaw the marrow from a bone. It was all he managed to scrounge for himself this night. Keiji’s stomach lurched, the poor… Bastard.
“I understand. If he gets out of line do I have any limits to my method of punishment for disobedience?” Keiji asked and knew he hit the mark when Akui smirked.
“You think like a mercenary, I like that. Just do not kill him, if he needs to be brought back into line, you’ve no need to spare the rod.”
Keiji bowed and Akui smiled. “Remember, no kindness or pity, he’s a murdering Bastard. You start now. When he finishes eating, take him back to his chambers.” He began then turned to address the boy directly.
“BASTARD! This is your new Keeper, obey him while I am away!” Akui said and the youth’s eyes went wide with terror, and Keiji knew the look for what it was, not terror of him, but terror FOR him.
Keiji waited until Akui had left the room and the rest of the underling lords and ladies left before he cautiously moved within a whisper's earshot, his body language looked bored and his face could only be seen by the youth.
“Look, I know the rumors. I know what goes on, don’t be afraid of or for me kid. I can take care of myself. It’ll just be you and me for the fall and winter, so let’s start this off right. The name is Keiji and I may not look it, but I’ve a few tricks up my sleeve.” Keiji winked as his eyes met the boy’s.
Such sorrow was contained in pale lavender-blue eyes Keiji wanted to weep. They looked right into his soul and his heart lurched in empathy. They were not the eyes of a simpleton; there was much going on behind those beautiful eyes. All of it filled with despair.
“Leave.” Came the soft almost inaudible tenor. The voice sounded older than the youth appeared.
“I am not mute no. I choose not to speak. If you stay, you’ll die. Leave while you can… Please.” The voice was trembling with fear.
“No. And we’ll talk about this later. First let’s get you to your room and food. You look half starved.”
“They won’t give you food for me.”
“I have some in my bag, come on let’s move people are coming.”
“Yes they are... how did you know?”
“We’ll talk later Kid, let’s move.” Keiji said grabbing the chain with disgust, even through his glove the iron practically burned, the poor kid must be in agony.
He turned and gave a quick wink to the boy. “I SAID MOVE IT … NOW MOVE.” Keiji gave a tug to the chain but the way he held it protected the boy from the tug. It was all for sound and show. He was just pretending to be cruel for the benefit for anyone eavesdropping, the boy followed meekly, but curious. This stranger was hardly older than he was, and so far being smart about his actions.
Maybe he did have a few tricks, maybe this one would live – There was a glimmer of hope at last.
Maybe this handsome one would be able to stay -- the boy sincerely hoped so. Out of all his keepers, this one was by far and away the youngest and most appealing to the eye to look upon, and not to mention so far the smartest. The bastard held his breath as he directed Keiji to his chamber.
Once inside and behind a closed and bolted door Keiji turned and let the bravado drop. “Sit down.”
“Bolt me to the floor.”
“Not a hope in hell.” Keiji said as he gently took the shorter youth by the elbow and maneuvered him toward the bed. “Sit, let me see your neck.”
The youth obeyed and Keiji gently moved the mass of snarled hair to the side and inspected his neck it was rubbed raw from the iron, and painful blisters were evident. “Son of a whore. Hang on Kid. I may not be able to take that damned thing off… yet. But I can help a little until then.” Keiji said moving to his sack and pulling out a bottle with a sweet smelling oily substance in it. He liberally poured it over the youth’s neck and the audible sigh of relief was practically music to Keiji’s ears.
“Much. What is that?”
“Burn ointment. My Foster mother taught me how to make this when I was a kid.” Keiji smiled as he put the stopper back in the bottle and raided his sack further, tossing the boy a few strips of dried beef. “That’s not much, but more than you’ve had eat up, I’ve more for later, we don’t want to make you sick with too much too soon Kid.”
The youth didn’t need to be told twice and practically wolfed down the offerings. He finished quickly as Keiji discovered the door adjoining their rooms. “I take it this is my room Kid?”
“It is, and I’m not a kid.”
Keiji quirked an eyebrow and turned to look at the boy sitting on the bed, appraising thoroughly, “No? Just how old are you then?” Keiji asked expecting him to be no more than fourteen.
“I am sixteen, almost seventeen springs.” He was almost Keiji’s age, a little less than a year separated them.
“Okay, my apologies then. You don’t look it. But then it’s hard to tell anything in the state you are currently. I think a bath is in order, and then a comb.” Keiji said going into his room and calling a servant to bring him a tub and water. No one had to know it was for the boy and not for him.
“Akui will be furious. Don’t risk it.” The boy began to protest and Keiji held up a hand.
“Akui will have his arse on the road in the morning and will not return until spring. I think we can toss mud on you then, for now, you need this. And I need this, no offense, but you stink of dogs.”
“Don’t be, I hardly see this as your fault. It makes me positively ill to see this. I’m on your side here kid. Let me help.”
“I’m not a kid.”
“I know, I know. It’s better than what they call you, and I refuse to call you. So cope with it.”
The youth smiled at this and bowed his head. “You win. Call me whatever you wish.”
“Until I can think of something appropriate, kid will suffice.” Keiji said as the tub arrived.
Once the servants were gone and the tub filled Keiji bolted his door and then retrieved his charge through the connecting door way.
“Strip.” Keiji said as he rummaged for soap in his bag. He got an eyeful as he turned around.
He could see the poor lad’s ribs and hipbones he was so thin. However, there was truth to his words, he was no mere boy. Just small of stature for his age, stunted growth was common if he wasn’t fed properly, and that could be rectified if he gave the lad something to eat, everything else was just as it should be. Keiji swallowed hard and was grateful when the youth submerged himself in the water. Keiji tossed in the soap.
“You work on your bits kid. I’ll see what I can do about all this hair.” Keiji said dumping water over his head and setting to work with soaps and a sturdy comb.
It took a good two hours, and the water had grown murky and stone cold by the time they finished. Keiji’s mouth had gone dry and the youth stood before him wearing only one of Keiji’s shirts. His long hair was braided and hung over his shoulder as he stood looking in the mirror, Keiji behind him.
He was painfully beautiful to look at, even for the fairest of Greenling women; the lad would give her a run for her money. He was, in a word, exquisite.
“That cannot be me.”
“Amazing what dirt can hide. No?” Keiji asked coming up behind him to smile at him in the mirror over his shoulder. Then rubbing more ointment on his neck to replace what had been previously washed off. The damn collar was severely pissing Keiji off now. Such beauty should not be marred, and this was going to leave a scar unless a healer attended it. The boy almost purred as Keiji applied the salve.
“Feels good?” Keiji asked his breath fanning the bows ear causing him to shiver.
“Very. I will nary be able to thank you.”
“I’ll think of something eventually.” Keiji said moving the youth’s braid from one shoulder to the other so he could apply the ointment to the other side, and he stopped a moment to look at the fine strands.
Soft and warm, like small drifts of snow as they lay in his hand, like snow… like snow – Keiji’s breath hitched as he lifted his gaze to the mirror and Blue eyes met lavender and Keiji knew.
“Yuki, it means snow in the ancient language. I think that suits you.” Keiji smiled as he stepped closer and took a deep breath and tried to hide his now suddenly all too aware senses. Damn that old woman, she was right.
“Yuki. I like that.” The youth said oblivious to Keiji’s sudden awkwardness, as he turned to face him.
“Thank you Keiji. So very much.” Yuki said as he smiled a dazzlingly bright smile that sent Keiji to his spiritual knees. His heart skipped, his pulse raced, and in his hands he still held that glorious man of drifting snow.
“…That will be yours and yours alone.”
Keiji closed his eyes and his foster mother’s voice echoed in his head. He almost felt faint.
He snapped to his senses however when he felt Yuki lean against him, or rather sag. His heart raced for other reasons now. “Yuki? Are you all right?”
“I… so… tired.” Yuki began then literally fainted into Keiji’s arms.
“Shit, my fault. You’re still a long way away from good health, and here I have you in a cold bath. Damn it I know better.” Keiji said moving to put Yuki in bed, only to stop short, that bed was filthy. He wasn’t about to put Yuki in that thing until he had it deloused.
He put Yuki in his bed instead. “If Mama was right, you’re going to be here eventually anyway. I promise to be a good boy… for now. You are certainly not a kid, and are without a doubt the most beautiful man I’ve ever laid eyes on, so just so you know now, when you’re better, all promises are null and void.” Keiji said as he pulled the blanket up over him and gently and chastely kissed a sleeping brow.
“Goodnight, Yuki.” Keiji whispered as he blew out his candles and crawled in beside the youth who in one evening had changed his life forever.
Keiji awakened as was his wont to do just before dawn, old habits of doing chores at first light had made his inner alarm keen, and like clockwork, Keiji was awake as dawn promised to break the horizon.
During the night, Yuki’s braid had come unraveled from it’s knot and Keiji awoke to the soft strands, wave after wave from where it had dried in it’s plait, splayed across the pillow and his chest. He took a handful and gently inhaled the aroma of the soap that still lingered.
It was perhaps the softest, most fine hair he had ever touched, and if Yuki ever decided to cut it, he’d weep. Hair like his was never meant to see the business end of a pair of sheers.
As Keiji lay there in the predawn darkness, he listened to the sounds of activity, it appeared Akui and his small entourage had indeed already begun making ready to leave at first light, and in the hustle and bustle had totally forgotten about Yuki. As Keiji expected they would, which was all fine and dandy to him, since he had absolutely no intention of moving from this bed until Yuki awakened from his much needed rest.
Wild horses wouldn’t be able to budge him from this bed and he was relishing every moment spent in this young man’s close proximity.
It wasn’t every day your Koishii Koibito or as the humans called it, your Beloved Lover or Soul Mate was handed to you on a silver platter. Sometimes the old Greenling language just described things more appropriately.
Because had someone told Keiji twenty-four hours earlier that he’d be laying beside the one person he’d spend the rest of his days with by the dawn he’d have laughed and called you daft.
He’d always been a casual lover, whatever flight of fancy he followed until he grew bored or vice versa. He was no stranger to intimate liaisons, but nor was he extremely wanton either. He may have been casual about his relationships, but he had also been extremely picky about them too.
Now he was in a quandary, because now he had senses awakened within him that defied all explanation, he felt the presence of Yuki under his skin, literally. It was like his entire Greenling side came surging to the surface and refused to be ignored. Being a Koishii Koibito pair was extremely rare, even for Greenlings. Knowing about it and experiencing the sensations were two entirely different things, and Keiji had seen a Koibito couple, he was aware, and yet it still caught him off guard when he himself fell into one such pairing.
What was Yuki going to feel? He had been devoid of anything even remotely resembling affection. How was he going to react when he discovered their bond?
Keiji could only pray to the gods for guidance, he’d have to take this slowly and one step at a time. The last thing he wanted was for Yuki to be inundated with too much too fast and run scared.
Hell Keiji was considering running for the hills at this point in time as well to stave off his own fears of commitment. Yuki would be a rather large responsibility until he managed to spread his own wings and learn how to fly solo.
He was a man, but still a child in so very many ways.
So was Keiji for that matter, but at least he had some experience in life to draw from.
Yuki was like a newborn babe in that aspect. There was a whole world out there he’d never even heard of let alone seen.
Yuki’s education came first, then and only then could they move forward together as equal partners.
Keiji hoped his patience would last, Yuki was a rather large and beautiful temptation despite the fact Keiji could feel his Koibito’s very pulse.
It matched his own. Sometime during the night even their heartbeats has synchronized.
They were a bonded pair, whether they liked it or not.
Keiji was lost in thought, considering all the possibilities and trying to think what to do, when Yuki stirred. Only slightly, and only enough movement to make Keiji’s entire body feel like it had melted and become one with the mattress. Yuki had turned on his side, and his cheek came to rest against Keiji’s shoulder. He was positively radiant to look at as the first rays of dawn filtered into the room.
“I could really get used to being your pillow.” Keiji murmured with a smile evident even in his voice, as he brushed an errant lock of hair out of Yuki’s eyes. “I’ll certainly be the cock of the walk when you make your debut. You’re quite the looker if I do say so myself.” Keiji added chuckling to himself.
“Mmm-Keiji? Did you say something?” A sleep-laden voice asked without even opening his eyes.
“Just muttering to myself. Go back to sleep, it’s still early and you need your rest.” Keiji said moving his arm slightly so Yuki would be more comfortable against him.
What Keiji didn’t expect was for the slight form to mold against his side, and a delicate almost frail arm drape over him as Yuki burrowed closer against him half asleep.
“So warm.” Yuki spoke through a yawn, and almost immediately drifted back to sleep, totally unaware of his actions.
Keiji groaned. That temptation grew tenfold. Then ceased as Keiji inspected Yuki’s arm. He was going to have to do something about his diet and quickly. He was far too thin and sickly of form. At nearly seventeen summers, he was far too small, even taking into account his skeletal frame which was only slightly smaller than Keiji’s, he looked even smaller with the lack of anything resembling meat on his bones.
Keiji knew they’d have to be gone before Akui returned, and there was no way Yuki would survive the journey north to Keiji’s old village even in good weather.
Autumn was here which meant Keiji’s village was already well into snow season. That sort of weather would kill Yuki, he had no natural insulation and certainly not enough strength to possibly walk a mile let alone up a steep mountain trail, even a healthy man got good and winded attempting that climb.
So with Yuki’s health top priority, Keiji thought the best course of action would be to get some weight on Yuki as quickly as possible, and get him at least as strong as he could before they high tailed it out of here the first sign of good weather.
Good weather meant Akui would be making the journey back from the capital so they’d have about a week leeway to get as far away as possible. Akui has seen the last of Yuki for good if Keiji had a say in the matter, and he did now. His Koibito would never suffer under that man’s hand ever again.
Just the thought of it made Keiji’s blood boil in anger and if he needed any proof Yuki was feeling the bond they now shared, he got it when his anger woke Yuki up.
“What’s wrong?” Yuki asked in almost a panic sitting bolt upright and trying to regain his awareness from a dead sleep.
“Nothing. Nothing, don’t fret. I was just angry, and you picked up on my emotion. Everything is all right Yuki.” Keiji said reaching out to calm the flighty creature beside him.
It took a minute or two for Yuki to settle down and allow himself to be coaxed back against Keiji’s side.
“Keiji, thank you again.”
“Stop it. You’ve nothing to thank me for Yuki. Honestly. Just rest, you need it.”
“You sure I’m not in your way here… I can go back to my room.”
“Not on your life. I like you right where you are. Now shut up and sleep.”
“I like it here too.”
“I know. Now what part of the words shut and up do you not understand? Go back to sleep already.”
Yuki chuckled “I understand fine, but I’m not sleepy.”
“So I noticed. Humor me.”
“You don’t have hair on your chest.”
“Nope, and quit changing the subject.” Keiji scolded, but half-heartedly. He’d play along with Yuki for now.
“Nor any on your arms.”
“Right again, care to guess where else I’m smooth as a baby’s bottom?”
“KEIJI!” Yuki turned a bright red and Keiji practically choked with laughter.
“What? It’s true. What’s there to be embarrassed about, you don’t have any there either.” Keiji teased poking Yuki gently in the side.
“I know but… oh dear. Well I guess that answers my next question then. You’re part Greenling too?”
“I’d have never guessed.”
“I know. Mama said I’m the only half-breed she’s ever seen without any physical traits beyond the hair issue. That little secret comes in handy, so keep that to yourself Laddy.” Keiji said smiling at the still rosy-hued boy beside him.
“I’ve never talked to anyone before you. Your secret is safe with me.” Yuki sighed, the sadness threatening to creep up again. It would be a long time before his sorrow and fear was gone.
“Hey now snowdrop, none of that. Moping is not allowed in here. Some here let me fix your hair, you’ve gone all wild on me again in the night.” Keiji said moving behind Yuki on the bed and began combing his hair.
Yuki sighed in contentment and let Keiji tame his hair in a braid once again.
“Do me a favor? Remember when I said I’d think of something you could do in return for me?” Yuki nodded as Keiji tied the fastener on the end of his very long braid. “Never cut your hair. Please.” Yuki turned and smiled at Keiji.
“I promise.” The phrase was punctuated with a rumbling of a protesting stomach.
Keiji laughed as he stood up from the bed and stretched. “That’s my cue I think.” Keiji said as he tossed on a shirt over his breeches and grabbed his sack. “I’m off to raid the kitchen, think you can be good for a few minutes?”
Yuki smiled and pulled his knees up under his chin. “They won’t give you more than you need you know. I’ll be fine, don’t worry.”
“Like I’m not going to feed you? Right. So little faith you have in me.” Keiji sentence was cut off as the door closed behind him.
“I have total faith in you. I just know better.” Yuki said stretching out on Keiji’s bed to wait for his return.
He was asleep again within minutes. Dreaming of red hair and bright blue eyes.
That's all there is, it's slow going since I have hardly ANY TIME TO WORK ON THIS AT ALL.