Tanjoubi Omedetto

By

Chibijem


Disclaimer: I do not own the characters herein and am making no financial gain from this work of fiction.


Fujiwara no Takamichi smiled to himself when he heard his companion sigh in contentment. "Feel good?" He asked, drizzling cool water from the sponge he held over the broad chest of the General of the Left Imperial Guard, Tachibana no Tomomasa.

"Hai," was the drawn out, happy reply. The Byakko Hachiyo were currently soaking in one of Tomomasa's birthday presents given to him by Takamichi. It had taken careful planning along with some help from the other Hachiyo to keep the court official away from his estate during the day so it could be installed in his private gardens just off his private rooms. The Vice Minister drew the saturated sponge across the firm muscles; Tomomasa was resting against him, back to chest, with his long arms draped over Takamichi's up drawn knees as he sat between the vice minister's legs. "This is a wonderful present, Takamichi," he said resting his head against the younger man's shoulder.

"I am so happy you like it. I thought it appropriate: the heat has set in early this year and I know how much you dislike it."

"Mmmmm," the contented purr rumbled from the eldest Hachiyo. He shivered when he felt his partner's lips brush against his extremely sensitive neck. "I am beginning to think your other gift was given with a purpose." He smirked, turning his head to pin Takamichi with his teal eyes.

The golden eyes smiled in mischief, "Perhaps." Was all he admitted to as he fingered the elaborate clasp holding Tomomasa's thick, wavy hair up.

"Ever since you discovered the back of my neck was one of those spots, you have targeted it quite frequently." Tomomasa turned his sharp eyes back to his blooming gardens.

"You know most of mine, why should I not know at least one of yours?" The young court official took his lovers face in one gentle hand and turned the general's head so he could press a feather kiss to Tomomasa's soft lips. "Besides the hair clip will keep your beautiful hair off your neck, keeping you cooler." He reasoned.

"Uh huh. Most of your spots, huh?" He asked with a leer as he tilted his teal haired head to one side. "At least this birthday is much better than the first one I spent with you...."

Tomomasa looked across the room and gave a weak smile to his fairly new but close acquaintance, one Fujiwara no Takamichi, the new Vice Minister of Civil Affairs. He had befriended the young man several months back and had taken the court official under his wing. They were now currently at a celebration given by the Mikado for the general's birthday;

"Ne, Tachibana no Tomomasa Shoushou-sama?" One of the emperors advisors began. "Would you gift us with your playing?" He indicated a biwa against the far wall.

"Of course, Ishida-sama," Tomomasa turned his gaze onto his friend, the Mikado. "If Okami would allow it."

"Hai, dozo," Tomomasa smiled and held back his laugh when he saw the young ruler mouth his apology along with a roll of his eyes.

Tomomasa cringed as he bent to pick up the instrument; the giggles from the court ladies made his nerves grate. He then looked over to where Takamichi was sitting. He could feel the warm golden gaze following his every movement. While he made sure the biwa was in tune, he thought over his young friend's recent behavior. For several weeks, the young official had been studying him when he thought the general wasnt watching. It didnt make him nervous, just a little curious as to what the vice minister was thinking.

The army officer, turned to the gathering and began to strum the biwa, soon adding his smooth voice in a song. He moved about the room and smiled at each of the ladies who flirted with him. As he continued his performance he could feel the change in Takamichi, could feel the annoyance coming off the vice minister in waves. By the time he was finished, his jaw ached from forcing smiles to all the females in the room and he was glad to return to his seat next to his young companion. He noticed the way Takamichi shied away from him and actually moved a bit away. "Have I done something to upset you, Takamichi?" He asked, sipping at some sake. Before the golden eyed youth could answer, the emperor called out to Tomomasa.

"You have not lost your touch, Tomomasa-dono. You can still make the ladies hearts go all aflutter with your music."

"Domo arigato, Okami." Tomomasa bowed his head in thanks. He then turned his attention back to Takamichi. "Ne?"

"You are very talented, Tomomasa-san." Was the softly spoken, noncommittal reply.

"Tell me what is troubling you."

"This is neither the time nor the place."

"Takamichi." He was interrupted by one of the court ladies coming to wish him a happy birthday. He spoke with the woman for a few minutes, focusing his attention on her. When she finally bid him a good night, he found the cushion next to him vacant. His eyes scanned the room and when he found no indication of the Vice Minister's presence, he stood and made his way to the Mikado. "Sumimasen, Okami. With your permission, I think I will excuse myself for the evening."

"Of course, this is your birthday celebration after all. I am sure you have other plans as well."

"Domo arigato for your understanding and for the gathering." He made his way through the rest of those gathered and finally made it to the exit. He looked about for Takamichi and when he did not see the young man, he strode from the palace grounds. He turned in the direction of the Fujiwara estate and finally managed to catch up to its master on the bridge before the main gate. "Takamichi, matte!" He hurried to his young friends side and frowned when golden eyes would not meet his. "Tell me what is wrong, onegaishimasu. I cannot remedy anything if I dont know what is troubling you."

"You really are brainless at times," Takamichi said so softly the general almost did not hear the insult.

"Nani?!" Tomomasas normally suave voice took on a hint of anger. He would take almost anything Takamichi said or thought but he drew the line at being insulted. "What are you speaking of?"

"You!" Takamichi quickly turned so he faced his mentor and friend. "Tonight....the way you played with the affections of the women there." He trailed off, closing his eyes against the remembered images.

Tomomasa just stared at the green haired man and then suddenly began laughing. "You're jealous." He finally managed to say.

"And if I am? You have never noticed...." He stopped and clamped his lips together tightly.

"Noticed?"

"I...I have...I have feelings for you... I'm not sure..." The bespectacled teen began but stopped when he glanced to his older companion. "Do not take me lightly, Tomomasa-san. I mean every word I say and I do not take what I am feeling lightly so I wish you would not."

"You are young yet, just beginning to explore your feelings...."

"I said not to take me lightly." Takamichi said angrily.

I would rather be elsewhere, Tomomasa thought sourly, studying the increasingly drunken courtiers.

"Believe me, I am not," Tomomasa held up his hands in supplication. "You have taken me by surprise." Tomomasa began to pace. "You should not shackle yourself to someone like me. As I said: you are still young...too immature to know what you...." Tomomasa did not finish as Takamichi's fist connected with his strong jaw. The punch forced him back but he caught himself before he could fall. Surprised teal eyes met infuriated and shocked gold ones.

"Did you mean like that?! You are the one who taught me to defend myself from whatever may attack." He then saw the small trail of blood coming from the army officers mouth and realizing what he had done and how he was raised, tried an apology. "Tomomasa-san....I...." Takamichi took a step forward and stopped when the elder man held up a hand. "Honto ni gom...."

"I shall take my leave of you then." Was all Tomomasa said as he turned and strode away in the direction of his own estate, leaving the young minister standing alone in the moonlight, one hand held out.

It was several days later and the two men were avoiding each other. It was making the entire Imperial Court uneasy, so much so the emperor summoned his Vice Minister for an audience. "Please sit, Takamichi-dono."

"Uh, hai, arigatou." He was very nervous as it was a crime to assault a member of the court.

"You know why I have asked you to come today?"

"Tomomasa-dono." Was the only reply Takamichi offered.

"Hai. It seems he is out of sorts since his birthday and has been injured though he refuses to speak of how he came to have such injuries. Do you have any information concerning this matter?"

"Okami....I.... am the one who caused Tomomasa-dono's injury."

"I know."

"Then why....?"

"I wanted to hear your admission." He smiled gently. "You are not in any trouble, Takamichi. It has been a very long time since I have seen Tomomasa so lively, the last few days notwithstanding. I believe you are the reason."

"He has always been lively as you say."

"You speak of his way with the court ladies? You must know it is all an act, a very good act, but an act nonetheless."

"I am not sure what you mean."

"Tomomasa and I have been friends for longer than either of us can remember or will admit to. He was raised with court life in mind, to take over the Tachibana family traditions. He was a very good son, never arguing with his otousan. At least in front of the man himself and not where others could hear him. He struggled with himself and I imagine still does to some extent."

"Okami, I am not sure this is pertinent to what has happened." Gold eyes studied the young ruler.

"You need to know him, Takamichi. The real Tomomasa." The emperor stood and moved to the open shoji. "Before you came to Kyou, there was a person he had feelings for, very strong feelings. His family was against their relationship and he almost broke with them. One night, the one he was involved with was severely beaten; Tomomasa was not told for some days of the incident and when he found out he immediately went to see for himself what had been done. This person turned him away. This is all I know. Afterwards, he closed himself off emotionally. Oh, he would show a happy face to all, but inside, he was dying. Every smile was like a sword going through him."

"How do you know this?"

"One night, we drank a little too much and I think he needed someone to really listen to him." The emperor looked at the young man seated before him. "Then you came along and I could see the light he used to have returning day by day, little by little." He knelt before the green haired Takamichi. "You see, its his way of protecting those whom he cares deeply for. To dampen his feelings or act as though he has just his way."

"He would not even hear my apology." Takamichi said sadly.

"I imagine he would not. You see, he still blames himself. He would never lay blame on those he cares about." He laid a comforting hand on the young court official's shoulder. "He is protecting you in his own way; he probably doesnt even know he is doing it."

"I said something I think troubled him...."

"I thought as much," the Mikado agreed. When Takamichi looked at him with questioning eyes, he went on. "I spoke with him and he said he was mulling over something that was said to him. Only you could make him be so introspective. Give him some time to think things through."

"Ano....."

"He does think, you know," the emperor laughed. "Tomomasa puts on many acts very well. His carefree manner is one of them. He can actually be very serious." Seeing Takamichi's uncertain look, he took both of the vice ministers shoulders and gave them a gentle squeeze. "Try not to worry; you will learn this all in time. He will open up to you as he does to all those he trusts."

As Takamichi was leaving the audience chamber, he turned back to the emperor, "Was the person Tomomasa was in love with harmed by his family?"

The Mikado turned solemn eyes to his vice minister, "There was talk but no proof."

The following day, Takamichi was again in the Imperial Palace, having come to assist the Minister during a meeting with the Mikado. Also in attendance was Tomomasa. Tentative golden eyes studied the general and noticed the healing bruise and somewhat swollen jaw on the handsome, teal haired man. He truly regretted his action but when his friend had brought up his youth and inexperience, he had snapped. He hoped Tomomasa would feel his stare and meet his eyes but that did not happen. When the meeting concluded, he excused himself and followed Tomomasa when he left the room. He called out the military officers name, hoping Tomomasa would at least stop. "May I have a moment?" He finally asked when Tomomasa halted.

"As you said earlier: this is neither the time nor the place." Tomomasa replied and continued on his way.

Late in the afternoon, the setting sun cast shadows through the gates of the palace grounds, Takamichi rested against one wall, waiting for Tomomasa to appear. He was rewarded when a tall figure approached. "You wanted a moment, did you not?" He came to stand before the vice minister. He sighed when sun kissed eyes only stared up at him. "Come on then, I suppose we should have this out." He made sure his young friend was following as they made their way to the Tachibana estate.

The two men were silent as they walked. It wasnt until both men were ensconced in Tomomasas sitting room that Takamichi, sitting, bowed deeply in apology, "Honto ni gomen nasai."

"For?" Tomomasa asked nonchantantly as he took a sip of sake.

"I hit you! Ive never lost control like that. What I did deeply troubles me." The normally soft voice of the vice minister was distraught.

"You're human like the rest of us," Tomomasa smiled as he reached up to lift Takamichi's face to his warm gaze. "Just don't do it again....hit me, I mean." At the withering look from golden eyes, he chuckled lightly. "You have a very powerful fist, my friend."

At the general's words, Takamichi sat up. "Are we still friends?"

"Why wouldnt we be?" Tomomasa asked setting a cup of tea in front of his guest. At the blank look, he sighed. "Takamichi, all friends have disagreements and even fights. That does not mean the end of the world."

Takamichi sipped his tea and gave some quick thought to his companions words. "I truly am sorry I hit you. I have been told I have a terrible temper given enough provocation."

"And I did just that. I know your character, Takamichi and I used that knowledge against you. For that, I am sorry. I am certain you struggle against your youth everyday while at court. You should not have to struggle with it when we are together."

They sat together, watching the waning sunlight cover Tomomasa's gardens. "I had an audience with Okami yesterday....." Takamichi began. "He wanted to know if I knew anything about what had happened to you."

"I am not surprised. He has always been very intuitive where his courtiers are concerned."

"You are more than a courtier to him, you know that." At Tomomasa's nod, Takamichi went on. "He told me things about a person you were involved with."

"Hai...."

"There is no need to protect me."

"I will protect you."

"Your life has changed, you are the head of the Tachibana family now...."

"Everyone needs protecting, Takamichi. I am in a better position to do so...."

"It was not your fault."

"I am not so sure of that. If I had not become involved with Yuki, maybe...." he trailed off.

Takamichi quickly set his cup down and moved to Tomomasa's side. He took the strong jaw carefully in his hands, minding the healing bruise. "Iie! You could not have predicted what happened."

"But I knew the possibilities. There was talk amongst the elders in my family, I heard them." Tomomasa all but shouted. "I heard them talking but in my youth, in my blind trust of my own blood, I thought them incapable of such a deed. I was wrong and it cost me dearly," he shook his head, his teal hair brushing Takamichi's hands, anguish in his words.

"So you let no one near you; when things get too serious you back away. Your carefree manner?"

"Hai, to protect those who get close to me. It was the only way I have...had." Teal eyes clenched tightly shut.

"And to protect yourself." He wrapped Tomomasa in his arms and breathed in the lightly scented teal hair.

"It hurt too much. I could not live through it if it happened again," Tomomasa's voice was hoarse with long pent up emotion.

"Do you trust me, Tomomasa-san?" He felt the nod in affirmation, "I will never allow you to be hurt through me. I will never intentionally hurt you, you have my solemn word." He finished by pressing a kiss to the top of Tomomasa's head.

"Only when you lose your temper with me," came the humor filled retort.

"I am being serious, Tomomasa!"

"Hai, hai. I think I may have taught you too well about self defense." He said rubbing his still sore jaw, eyes twinkling.

"Daijoubu desu ka?" Concerned golden eyes met teal ones.

"In time I will be." Tomomasa looked intently at his young companion. What you said the other night....do you still?" He asked after several long seconds.

"Hai, I do. If anything, I think my feelings for you are stronger now than they were a few days ago."

Takamichi turned earnest eyes to meet teal ones. "Have you given any thought to your own?"

Tomomasa returned his study to the flowers swaying in the gentle evening breeze, their fragrance wafting through the room. "You certainly surprised me and gave me a lot to think about," he said. "I have feelings for you, that much I know. What kind they are, I am still unsure of." He looked at the young man next to him. "I do know, I have not had feelings in a long time."

"With Yuki?"

"Mmmmm," Tomomasa replied sipping sake. "Similar. More powerful, intense....I cannot really explain it, them...Ugh....I am usually so good with words." He let his head fall into his hands.

Green hair mixed with teal, as Takamichi leaned over to lay his head on Tomomasa's broad shoulder. "With the ladies?" He asked and smiled as he felt and heard the tiny chuckle. He became serious, "You do not have to put up a pretense with me. I want the real Tachibana no Tomomasa, not some act, ne?"

Tomomasa let out a long sigh, "You want me to break a lifetime of habit?"

"Just with me....for me?"

"I will try." Tomomasa looked at the slim hand resting on the low table next to his larger one. He took it in his and turning his so their palms rested together, entwined their fingers. "This is very potent, what is between us, what is happening...."

"It is. I think we will both be better people, better men for it." Takamichi smiled.

"What we are feeling....it must be intense. You lost your temper and my protective instincts rose to the fore." Tomomasa mused.

"You were right, you know. I know I am a better man because of you." Tomomasa told Takamichi, taking the vice minister's hand in his and pressing a kiss to the pulse in the slim wrist. "What we have is strong and true."

"It is," soft lips returned the kiss but to the general's temple. "We have traveled a long path to be here. You were right too: our relationship has been very potent."

"I hope to continue on this path with you," Tomomasa began to hum a tune. "Remember it?" He asked, a gleam in his expressive eyes.

Takamichi laughed softly and gently punched his life mate in the arm. "It is the song you sang that night."

"If not for that one tune, we would not be here." Tomomasa reminded him.

"Sa," Takamichi then pushed Tomomasa forward and then climbed to his feet.

"Where are you going?"

"I thought we could continue your birthday celebration elsewhere."

"Demo," Tomomasa reverted to being a five year old with the whine in his voice, shoulders slumped and hands swishing the water. "This feels too good to leave."

"I can promise you will feel good again," Takamichi's voice held a promise as he leaned over the edge of the bath. At the lifted eyebrow of his companion, he explained. "I was thinking I would treat you to a massage."

"Massage?" The one word sounded slightly disappointed, but Tomomasa rose, rivulets of water following down the length of his trim body, back into the tub.

"I did not say what I would be massaging." Was the suggestive response as Takamichi leaned over and pressed a swift kiss to Tomomasa's surprised mouth.

The words and kiss made Tomomasa freeze, one leg lifted and one hand braced on the side of the tub. His smile made the younger man blush as they both headed inside to continue the celebration.


FIN