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Greenlings Chapter 3

Series Title: Greenlings
Book ONE: Ai no Hanashi (Story of Love)
Chapter Number: Three
“Light in Shadow”
Author: D. Sanders

On the way to the dining hall, Keiji first lead a rather timid Yuki toward the Kitchen first. Upon entering the hustle and bustle of the dinner hour, preparations ground to an immediate halt, a platter clattered to the floor heard, but unseen, and a multitude of servants stood stock-still and stared.

Keiji felt Yuki’s inner terror begin to swell, and he could feel the urge to flee building. He held Yuki’s hand tighter and grinned. “Oi, Oi, Oi, you all look like you’ve seen a ghost. Ba-san! You’ve got a ghost loose in here?” Keiji hollered, making quite a show of looking around for said spirit.

Yuki’s free hand came up to hide the chuckle he couldn’t help let escape at Keiji’s rather comical antics. “BA-saaaaaaaaaan!” Keiji called again, lifting the corner of a table to peer underneath.

“What’s all the noise in here?” Sumire began stopping short seeing Yuki smiling as he watched Keiji make a fool of himself. “My heaven. You look just like her, I never would have guessed.” Sumire walked over, tears in her eyes as she lay gnarled old hands to either side of Yuki’s face.

Keiji stood beaming down at them both. “Quite handsome as a peacock isn’t he?”

“Beautiful, absolutely breath-taking. Too long have you been hidden little one. Shine like the gem you are at last.” Sumire began to laugh joyfully. The rest of the servants still stood around, jaws agape, knowing but disbelieving their own eyes. No one would have ever expected that the filthy bastard was indeed the pristine swan standing before them.

“Thank you.” Yuki said softly, his cheeks flushed with embarrassment under such scrutiny as he ducked his gaze away and down.

“I knew there be a voice under there somewhere. Don’t be shy pet, it’s long past time I do what I ought to have done years ago. It took your great lout here to wake up this old bag of bones. I’ll help you as I should have done long ago.” Sumire smiled affectionately, tucking Yuki’s stray wisps of hair behind his ears. “My, my, I think a hair cut is in order for you.”

“Not on your life Ba-san. Leave his hair just as it is.” Keiji cut in, eyes wide.

“He’s all wild.”

“I like it like that.”

“You would rowdy boy. At least let me trim it.”

“No, he looks divine shaggy, leave it.”

They continued to argue and only paused when Yuki’s sweet laughter took their breath away.

“I made a promise to him. I won’t cut it, but thank you.” Yuki smiled, his eyes bright with mirth.

“What does an old woman know? Fine, fine, you win. But I daresay the clothes on you boy are three sizes too large and then some. Tell me Keiji, in what mirror did you look to think those colors and those baggy garments looked good?”

“Hey! Don’t pick on me! It’s all I had Baba!!! The best I had at that!”

“Swine. Men never know how to dress themselves. Come with me. All you lazy lay-a-bouts, back to work, anyone say anything and you’re fired.” Sumire ordered and people scrambled back to work. Keiji grinned and followed behind, as Sumire latched onto Yuki’s hand and practically dragged him back into her private quarters off the kitchens.

Once behind closed doors, Sumire, still rather spry for her age, began rummaging though an old chest set at the foot of her bed. “You’d be surprised what the Lords and Ladies discard around here, perfectly good material, one little tear does not ruin make. Ffft, waste not, want not, I save it all. Made these for Tohru I did, but he’s yet to grow into ‘em. Fine material, ah here’s one yes, nice color. Blues or maybe purples, heck either will bring out your eyes.” Sumire began bringing out a soft sky blue poet shirt, with a dark royal blue satin long vest and laid them aside as she began looking for breeches to match. “These may be a little short, but that’s nothing a nice pair of boots won’t hide.” Sumire said picking up and holding the fabric next to Yuki’s face.

“See there, see how his eyes just pop out at you with these colors?” Keiji whistled through his teeth, he had to wholeheartedly agree with her. Much better than the cream and brown colors of his own garments hanging like bad laundry off his beloved in comparison.

“Wow.” Was Keiji’s only comment as Sumire excused herself and exited the room in order for Yuki to change with a little privacy.

Yuki was pensive and hesitant, holding the clothes without movement to change.

“What’s wrong snowdrop?”

“What’s happening here? The world is suddenly upside-down. It’s not that I’m not grateful, I am. I just… Keiji. Everyone looks at me like I’m some phantom about to steal their souls. I’m the Bastard to them, I…”

“You’re nervous, that’s fine Koi. Nervous is one thing scared is another. They look at you because for years, like Ba-san, they’ve wanted to help you, but they fear too. Now there is no reason for them to fear. Look at you, you’re beautiful, you’re kind, you’re strong. Stronger than Akui, stronger than Yogore, you give them hope. Yes, you will shock them, that’s a good thing.”

Keiji moved over and lifted Yuki’s shirt and pulled the one Sumire had given him over his head. “You’re radiant, shine love. Never hide yourself again. Stand proud, and I’ll be right beside you always. Gloating.”

“Gloating?” Yuki cocked his head to the side in query.

“You’re gorgeous, and all mine.” Keiji grinned evilly and Yuki just smiled and shook his head.

“You are certainly one of a kind Keiji. Thank you, but I might remind you, that you are not so bad on the eyes yourself.”

“Like what you see do you?” Keiji purred oozing over and wrapping his arms around Yuki from behind as he tried to fasten his breeches.

Yuki leaned back tilting his head to rest against Keiji’s shoulder as he looked up and smiled.

“I’d be lying if I said otherwise. You are quite the rouge, but certainly a handsome one.”

“And all yours snowdrop.” Keiji kissed Yuki’s brow with a saucy wink as he once more tucked Yuki’s arm into the crook of his own.

“It’s high time you ate a decent meal, at a proper table.”

“I’d rather eat alone. I don’t know how to, I mean, I never used those fork things everyone eats with.”

“Good, then when I teach you proper use of greenling sticks you won’t have to unlearn habits. Sticks are much more versatile, you can use any twig if the need arises, and does wonders for your dexterity too.” Yuki looked bewildered and Keiji smirked as they walked back into the kitchen and joined by Tohru and Sumire headed toward the Hall for Dinner.


The hall was full of the resident minor nobility, the remainder of Akui’s liege men’s families, the women and children and a few of the older couples who had remained behind rather than accompany their lord to the capital for the winter were all seated in their usual places at the long tables that formed a horseshoe like semicircle facing the main table where Akui and his most trusted men usually sat and dined. To the side, where the dogs were usually kept and where Yuki was chained every night was blissfully vacant and as Yuki entered the hall on the arm of Keiji, his eyes alighted anywhere and everywhere except that one area.

A hush fell over the room as the pair entered, and whispers were exchanged and eyes like saucers fell upon him as recognition of the stunning and strange beauty that has suddenly graced the room was recognized.

Keiji without missing a beat strode towards the main table, Yuki tried to fall back but Keiji’s grip was firm and sure. “There is no where else to sit love. Besides in the absence of the elder the brother, the younger holds rank here. Any law in the country, Bastard or not, will back me up there. They know that too.” Keiji said softly as they reached the table and he motioned for Yuki to be seated.

All eyes were still fixated on Yuki as he settled himself to the right of the head chair, where he should have been seated since birth had circumstances been otherwise. Yuki’s eyes were downcast as he looked at his folded hands in his lap as Keiji stood to his right, still not seated.

What was Keiji thinking? Yuki began to wonder when the ice was broken, as an old man, nearly seventy winters stood and then started to applaud.

Yuki’s head shot up, it was old Mamoru Kodai, the only remaining knight from Yuki’s Grandfather’s court. The man always left the hall when Akui tossed out the scraps. He was… smiling.

“Stand up you great cowardly women and fools! It’s about time you show his lordship some respect! I am Mamoru Kodai Master.” Kodai bowed, even as old as he was, he still retained the stature and pride of a man half his age. His lifestyle of his youth had served him well in his old age, and he still stood tall, and one would even say handsome still.

“Your grandfather weeps in his grave. First the son, then the grandson shame him, I carry that shame for him now. Allow me to say I am sorry.”

Yuki’s tongue was tied so, ever the observant Keiji, just laid a hand on Yuki’s shoulder and squeezed reassuringly. “YUKI…” Keiji emphasized the name and paused briefly, Kodai smiled. “… is a bit overwhelmed. It is good to see he has friends when he thought he had none.”

“TISH-TOSH DRAGON SPIT! If Akui didn’t beat, maim, and kill every poor idiot nice to that boy, he’d have realized it years ago that the only people here who want to see him hurt are Akui and Yogore. No one else here approves of that sort of thing. Am I right?” Kodai turned to eye the rest of those gathered in the hall.

“I said am I right?” Kodai said more firmly and a young woman only slightly older than Yuki stood, he recognized her as Mamoru Jujun, Kodai’s eldest granddaughter, her soft voice barely heard as if she was afraid to speak, but even more afraid to stay silent when given the chance.

“Aye. It’s horrible. It’s so nice to see you here like this Lord Yuki.” She had heard the name and was the first person to address him by it formally.

“He’s so pretty!! Ojii-san!” A little girl, no more than perhaps four tugged on Kodai’s shirt, her brown hair and large brown eyes alight with childhood innocence. This was obviously Jujun’s youngest sister as their resemblance to each other was remarkable.

“Aye Saya. Aye.” Kodai patted her head fondly as only a proud and extremely indulgent grandfather would.

Yuki blushed, suddenly his world seemed to open up around him and he could feel support around him he would have never dreamed he had filling the room to overflowing. He had feared taunting and hate, but he was received with respect and honor. His eye’s grew moist with tears as he turned his face up to look at those all around the room, he felt drunk, and tears of joy sprang from his eyes as a musical laugh bubbled up from his throat.

Keiji watched Kodai hand little Saya a clean napkin and urge her to take it to Yuki. She didn’t need much encouragement and she bounded over and held it out to Yuki all smiles. “Thank you Saya.” Yuki said softly and Saya squealed.

“Ojii-san! He talks pretty too! You we’re right!” Kodai just nodded, Yuki laughed again and reached out to hug the girl still giddily bouncing on the balls of her feet.

“Such a Joy.” Yuki whispered, rubbing his eyes with the napkin turned handkerchief while he hugged the little girl before him.

“See snowdrop. Trust my instincts. Those are my gifts.” Keiji winked and Yuki nodded as Saya skipped happily away chanting ‘pretty-yuki-yuki-white-snow’ in a sing song voice as she rejoined her grandfather and sister.

“I take it, come spring we will see the backside of you?” Kodai turned to address Keiji who nodded.

“Aye. Any help you can provide to keep him safe until he can travel I would appreciate Jii-san.”

Kodai chuckled. “Jii-san is it? I’ll show you these old bones can still muster up when needed count me in. Sumire will have my backside if I don’t lend a hand. Right woman?” He started turning to look at the woman as she entered with food.

“Tan it good you old bag of bones.” She confirmed going up to serve Yuki and Keiji first.

“My best stew, eat hearty little one. Ba-san knows what’s best for growing boys. Raised seven sons I did.” She smiled patting Yuki’s cheek then turning to pinch Keiji’s. “And I can handle the rowdy ones too. You sit and eat too and stop turning this place upside-down for ten minutes.”

Keiji laughed and grinned. “Aye Baba.”

“Good. Now the rest of you eat first, talk later.” She ordered as other servants filed in to serve the meal.

It was amazing how many people of noble blood obeyed the orders of one servant. Sumire definitely ran this roost when the upper echelon was away to court in the capital.

Keiji watched Jujun stealing furtive looks at him. Why did the good, shy girls always like the bad boys? Keiji mused whilst watching Yuki all through the meal, which despite his fears, was handling the spoon quite easily. He was however, too immersed in using it properly to eat the hearty lamb stew, that he never noticed his Koibito’s admirer.

Keiji would make sure she knew before the night was over he was off the market. No sense in letting her entertain false hopes after all and putting a stop to it while it was still a crush was the best way to handle this.

Yuki’s admirer was going to be more difficult -- four year olds had the tenacity of wild boars.

Although she was a cute little future pain in his ass, he gave Saya that much.

Soon his thoughts meandered back to his cooling dinner and shoving other worries aside Keiji focused on the best stew he had indeed ever eaten.


Yuki’s bowl was emptied as he sat back with a contented sigh. His pallid coloring from the day before virtually gone, and a golden hue began to darken his skin. Skin coloring wholly greenling Keiji noted. Nothing about Yuki spoke of human heritage, not his looks, his talents, or his physiology. The more Keiji looked the more he began to entertain notions of his beloved’s lineage. His health was returning rapidly, he was made of much sturdier stock than someone with human blood should have been. Especially after the years of torment he had endured, he was returning to health as quickly as his Hikari bloodline dictated, in fact, it was as if he was even more.

Even among the Hikari, there were those of even more remarkable powers, the Shinsei, the blessed ones, the Guardians of life and light. They were never on the council of elders; they were a council in and of themselves. Wise and just caretakers of the Greenling beliefs, advisors to the ruling council of tribes, warriors of the highest order, mages of a deeper magic, healers of souls and protectors of the ancient ways of peace.

“What are you staring at?” Yuki asked seeing that Keiji seemed lost in thought, fixated on his face.

“You beloved. You are a puzzle I will solve yet.” Keiji winked shoving the random thoughts away for the moment, he was grasping at straws, they’d have time later to delve into Yuki when they reached the mountains, and Ryuuen would know more about it than Keiji anyway.

All Keiji needed to concern himself with now was to keep on track, Yuki seemed healthy, and over the next few months would just need to gain his weight to make the journey north. An easy task if his beloved continued to show improvement as he had in just a short twenty-four hours.

“A puzzle am I to you?” Yuki’s tone seemed playful and teasing.

“Aye love. Quite an intriguing one at that.” Keiji smirked lifting Yuki’s hand to kiss the back of it affectionately.

A soft cough interrupted their moment and Keiji turned to see Jujun standing before them. “If you please, Ojii-san would like to know if the Master would enjoy some music. It has been far too long since these walls have heard the sound. I can play for you if you’d like.” She said softly, eyes shyly downcast.

“I think that is a wonderful idea. What do you say Love?” Keiji asked and Yuki smiled.

“I would also very much like to hear you play Lady Mamoru.” Yuki breathed and Jujun smiled sweetly and curtsied.

“It seems there should be cause for celebration this evening. Unless my eyes deceive me, you both have love in your eyes when you look upon the other.” Jujun added, the glimmer of a wry sense of humor in her eyes, beneath the demure exterior, a fire burned.

“Your eyes are keen my Lady. You are correct. We are bonded, Koishii Koibito.”

“Koibito? Truly?” She asked the delight of romance in her eyes.

Keiji and Yuki nodded as one.

“I have heard, but have never seen a Koibito bond. Greenlings do not come to this keep.”

“It is rare even among the Greenling. Perhaps one day you will see the world beyond this keep.” Keiji said as Jujun just backed away to find her harp and play. Being replaced by her grandfather he settled beside Keiji at the table.

“She will fester and die here.” Kodai spoke lighting his pipe, the smoke creating a halo around his head. His tobacco was far harsher smelling than Keiji’s sweet fragrant pipe, which also materialized from a pocket as Keiji lit his own bowl. He would have to ask Keiji later the difference. He suspected a greenling blend of sorts would be the cause of the difference in scent.

“You will all die here of soul rot. The only light in the shadows are the spirits of good men and women and they are few and far between when the shadow holds sway with fear.” Keiji said leaning back in his chair, puffing seriously on his pipe. His eyes narrowed as he looked around the room. Yuki watched intently, Keiji looked far older than his years in this light, he held a maturity of a man thrice his age it seemed as the fire danced in his eyes from his pipe. They looked almost reptilian, wise, ancient eyes. If the saying some people had old souls were true, than Keiji possessed an old one indeed.

“She will be eighteen winters come the solstice, born the same day as our young master here, save but a year his elder. She’ll be eligible for marriage, and I’ll not see her wed to this keep. When you leave I beg you, take her with you.” Kodai pleaded and Keiji nodded.

“I’ll take all who wish to come, including you old man. You move well, there is fight in you yet, and I could use the help of an experienced man if I am traveling with women and children. Even if it is spring here when we leave, we head north, Spring breaks late in my village, it will be a hard journey.” Keiji said as the soft melody of Jujun’s harp began to fill the room with its beauty.

A song as lovely as the young maiden who played her harp graced the room and conversation paused for a moment to allow the music to lift the shadow from the room.

“Besides old man, will you be safe here yourself for aiding us? Don’t give up your life without a fight. It goes against your nature.” Keiji added with a wink.

“You’re are an astute young man. Aye lad, I’ll come, and you can bet your boots Sumire and young Tohru will be joining you. That woman has latched onto you, and she’s as tenacious as a ferret.”

“You speak from experience?”

“Even Knights fear the power of her wrath.” Kodai chuckled, light filling his eyes.

“So how long has she been your companion?”

“Nothing as formal as that lad. But we do have a history, and share a son. Tohru is also my grandson.” Kodai smiled as the boy in question sat playing cat’s cradle with young Saya.

“I could see the resemblance.”

“You are quite perceptive lad. Just who are you?”

“A wanderer, that’s all. I have no parents, I have no past, I am as much a mystery to myself as to those who raised me. Even I have yet to discover who I am, and I am usually quite good at solving riddles. But one needs clues, and I have none.”

“Yet.” Yuki added joining the conversation and smiling up at his beloved. “But does it matter? You are you, and I certainly would not have you any other way.”

Keiji just leaned over and stole a soft lingering kiss. “Nay it does not matter. I am just curious by nature.”

“So you are.” Yuki smiled winsomely as Jujun’s song finished.

“I’d say you’d better take the young master here to his bed. The nights are growing colder, and he’s looking a right sight better, but still looking a bit delicate of weight to these eyes.” Kodai winked and Keiji grinned.

“Jii-san here is right. I think a good night’s rest is in order.” Keiji stood, taking Yuki’s hand with one hand and a flagon of wine with the other. “Good night good folk. Until the morrow.” Keiji bowed and led Yuki from the room with a purpose in his step.

Jujun walked over curious to her chuckling grandfather.

“It’s a night for lovers my dear. Ah, to be young again.”

“Ojii-san!” Jujun blushed but smiled.

Kodai just laughed even harder, choking himself with mirth until Sumire came to slap him on the back.

“When do we leave?” She asked as Kodai regained his composure.

“First thaw. The sooner we leave the better. And we have work to do this winter to make sure we make it to spring. I’ll take care of Yogore with Tohru. You ladies make sure Yuki gains weight, he’ll need it for this journey. That lad is painfully thin.”

“Aye, but his health is amazing in spite of it. He nary looks like he be the same boy. Keiji has brought us a light he has, and it has already chased the shadows away from the little one.” Sumire said fondly.

“Aye, we would be daft not to follow wherever Keiji leads. I do not think he is even aware of his own brilliance. But then at the moment, he has eyes but for one person here. He’s a tad preoccupied.”

“Kodai, don’t make me get my broom out to hit you, you dirty old man.”

“Spare me Sumire my joy. But tell me you did not see for yourself the affection there.”

“Aye I did, but you can just stay out of their business. Leave them be.”

“I think it’s romantic. Meeting by chance, finding your soul bound.” Jujun breathed dreamily.

“This is not a chance meeting. Their paths were meant to cross. Soul bound always find one another, it is destiny they follow. I just hope my old bones live to see the path’s end. I can smell change in the air.” Kodai said puffing his pipe.

“It’s still romantic Ojii-san.” Jujun said and Sumire smiled.

“Aye pet. It surely is, and the sooner we’re gone from here, the sooner it will happen for you too.”

“I hope so. But I will not hold my breath. Just leaving here is joy enough for me. I do not wish to marry anyone here, that is certain.”

“You always were a smart girl. You’ll find someone who’ll appreciate your mind as well as your pretty face pet. I’m certain of that.” Sumire said turning to clear the plates off the table.

“I think we should all get an early night tonight. Yogore will surely be here before nightfall on the morrow. We’ll need our wits about us.” Sumire added and Kodai nodded.

“Right as always woman. To bed with us all.”


It was like a dream walk back to their chambers. Neither of them spoke a word, as they slowly walked back hand in hand. When Yuki slipped under his arm about half way back, and laid his head against his shoulder as they walked, Keiji’s heart pounded wildly in his chest, he never wanted to wake from this moment, every fiber in his being was alive with wonderment and joy.

When they entered Keiji’s side of their joint chambers Yuki drifted toward the window as Keiji set the wine on the table and set about stoking a fire in the hearth.

Once the flame was burning merrily, Keiji poured two small cups of wine and joined Yuki where he had settled on the window seat. “I am so happy.” Yuki breathed, taking the cup from Keiji’s hand, his eyes showing signs of fresh tears.

“So am I.” Keiji answered, leaning over to kiss the trails still lingering on Yuki’s cheeks. His shiver was not from cold, but from joy and anticipation.

“Come move by the fire love, I want to check your bandage.” Keiji softly directed, setting aside his cup and taking Yuki’s hand to lead him over to the chair. He almost gleefully rejoiced when with the barest of gestures, he was able to give Yuki his cue, and arms gracefully raised to allow Keiji to lift sky blue silk free from a pliant and content youth.

“By the maker. How on earth?” Keiji muttered as he took a good look at Yuki’s bare torso. He was still thin, but the rack of ribs so painfully evident the day before were just slight ridges, it looked as if over night he had gained twenty pounds, and it just was not possible. And the wound, festering and angrily bleeding that morning was nothing but a white edged scar, that looked like frosted window pane crystals in a jagged ring around the base of his neck, a winter necklace to grace the wintry god who sat before him. Yuki was in all ways but for being just slightly underweight, totally healed.

“What?” Yuki asked and Keiji just gaped.

“You! It’s impossible, even for Shinsei! I’d bet my life that not a drop of human blood runs in your veins Yuki. You can’t possibly be anything else. It doesn’t make sense; you should not be this healthy in such a short span time. Not that I’m complaining about it, but damn it, it’s unheard of. No fucking wonder you’re still kicking. Delicate my ass! You’re perhaps the strongest man I have ever met, seen, or heard of in all my days and then some.” Keiji laughed, flopped back on the bed and just shook his head.

“I have no doubt you’ll be able to tackle the mountains even better than I come springtide. I have drastically underestimated you.” Keiji added, propping his chin on his hand as he rested an elbow on his knee. “Amazing.”

“I have always healed quickly, I’ve had to.” Yuki sighed and shrugged.

“Then you’ve a gift for healing that you have trained to use on an instinctual level if that is the case. Either way, you have a remarkable talent my love.” Keiji smiled reaching out to take Yuki’s hand.

Yuki allowed Keiji to pull him close, and settling across his knees, facing him, Yuki wrapped his arms around Keiji’s neck and initiated his first kiss. Keiji accepted the kiss and returned it greedily as he fell back onto the bed and rolling to his side to devour the kiss and take the lead.

They were breathless as their lips parted and a disheveled Yuki smiled up at his soon to be lover. “You like to lead don’t you?” Yuki asked knowing full well the answer.

“I’ll stop if you desire it.”

“Keiji, I am in jest with you. I care not to lead this dance. I am more than content to be here with you, just as we are. You’ve not lead me astray, nor do I trust you shall ever lead me places I do not already wish to go. I go willingly wherever you wish to lead us, Koishii. Now and always.”

It was Keiji’s turn to cry tears of joy. He crushed Yuki in his embrace and wept into his shoulder. Love so deep and overwhelming played havoc with emotions, but lent a freedom to the soul that neither of them had ever experienced, and would never lose until death claimed them.

Being Koishii Koibito was a blessing as much as it was a curse. They would love more deeply and feel more passionately, they would live tied to one another in a very literal sense of the word. They would live and love and die together. They would wither like cut flowers if parted, they had become a single whole, and to sever them would be to destroy them.

When one partner died, the other would follow. Koishii Koibito partner’s hearts beat as one, and when one faded, so did the other. They would never be parted in life, or in death. It was an eternal bond. One that both Keiji and Yuki felt becoming stronger with every moment they spent together.

Their hearts already beat to a tune of their own making, and they were forging the new bond they shared with lips and tears as they held one another tightly, too scared to let go, and to happy to care. Words of love were whispered between kisses and words of comfort cooed when the tears sprang free. Hands caressed, and lips gasped as in the light of the fire two new lovers began their first dance as true partners.

Clothes lay scattered, and bedclothes were tangled and confused with limbs as hands alternately grasped and petted, stroked and teased. Wine sat forgotten, and logs crackled in the hearth, casting illumination over the light sheen of perspiration glazing excited bodies as they moved like serpentine waves against one another. Flesh against flesh, mouth to mouth, heart to heart. A whimper of loss escaped Yuki’s throat as Keiji sat up from their endeavors and blindly searched for the discarded bottle of ointment he’d used on Yuki’s burns that morning.

Yuki was soon to discover it had more than one use, and a pleasant one indeed.

Keiji was gone for only a moment, and when he returned, bottle in hand, he quickly showed Yuki the more pleasant uses of the oily and sweet smelling ointment.

Sensations he never dreamed possible danced like lights behind closed eyes, as their bodies smoothly joined as one, there was no pain, no hate, no violence, nothing Yuki had ever known associated with this act. Nothing remained to taint this night of newly found emotions. It was love, it was music, it was spring in midwinter, it was the closest one could be to the one they loved, Yuki wept with joy and Keiji held him close as they moved as one, cries of passion swallowed in kisses of deepest desire. It lasted forever and yet was over far too soon. They crested the mountain their love had built together and then fell from the pinnacle calling each other’s names in unison.

Tired, filled to bursting with emotion, and panting from exertion they lay entwined. Hot, slick with the sweat of ecstasy, and in the heat of the fire, they laid there together. Utterly spent, and yet, blissfully content.

“That was… fucking amazing.”

Leave it to Keiji to destroy an otherwise surreal moment. Yuki tumbled into laughter and stretched out on his back beside his lover.

“What’s so funny?”

“You, you rouge. But you’re right, that was wonderful.”

“I’m thirsty as hell now, it’s hot in here.” Keiji groaned stumbling out of bed on weak knees to the wine on the table. Gulping down half the flagon in one draught. Handing the rest to Yuki to slack his own thirst.

“It is hot in here, and we certainly made this bed rather a mess.”

“Fact of life we’d better get used to, we’re going to be sharing a bed for a long time Koi.” Keiji said taking the almost empty flagon back from Yuki and draining the last of it before falling back into the bed.

“I think we’ll live, messy sheets won’t kill us. Come here snowdrop.” Keiji mumbled as he spooned up behind Yuki and burrowed them both into the rumpled bed. “Goodnight Love.” Keiji added placing a kiss at the base of Yuki’s neck.

Yuki sighed and melted into the arms that held him. “Sleep well my love.” Yuki replied asleep almost before he had finished speaking. It had been a long, glorious day and one he would never forget as long as he lived.

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