A/N: My deep deep thanks go to Piru for helping me out and doing an amazing last minute beta job. She beat this grammatically incorrect and full of spelling fails ficlet in to a coherent readable piece it definitely wouldn't be otherwise. Any of the remaining mistakes are my own. Again thank you Piru for the awesome beta work! *hugs*
The Growing Up Of Ono
Today is not a good day for Ono. For today is the day of doom, a harsh reminder, the one day a year where he takes one significant step closer to being middle-aged and another step further from being a youthful twink of a boy who can wrap men around his pinky finger to do his bidding. It's his birthday, and as of today, Ono is going to be 35 years old. A few more years and he will be nearing forty; he will become an old queen, a has-been who reminisces about the past and remembers his glory days.
Any day now, this could happen to Ono; a gorgeous young man might tell him to get lost, and his infamous demonic charm will stop working on all the delicious fresh meat that arrives on the scene because he will be too old for them. And the parade of beautiful men in his life will stop.
Or worse, the young men he hooks up with might see him as their patron and expect him to pay their way. Damn it, if Ono is going to buy Gucci, Prada and Armani, it is going to be for himself and not some leech of a twink! Ono is so not the sugar daddy material! Guys buy beautiful things for him in hopes of winning his affections, and not the reverse.
To be honest, Ono is not sure which scenario he is more afraid of: the powers of his demonic charm ceasing to work on young men, or becoming the age where he might be seen as a potential sugar daddy and not the one who pulls the sugar daddies in. And one day soon, either one or both of these scenarios will happen. Ono is not sure what he is going to do on that day.
While lady luck has been very kind to Ono in his life and has given him the gift of demonic charm that can turn even straight men gay for him, there has never been a lack of willing partners in his life. On the other hand, lady love has ignored his heart all along, and besides shallow infatuations that pass sooner rather than later, he has never actually fallen in love with anyone besides Tachibana. And that had happened over a decade and half ago. After bedding countless men, for the first time, he keenly feels the lack of any real love in his life. Ono feels lonely.
In the end, time and age is not kind to anyone, and there is no escape from it. Soon, there will be wrinkles, grey hair and, if Ono is not careful, a flabby belly in his future. Should he start considering botox? Plastic surgery?
So when in the cold early morning, Ono steps into "Antique", pocketing his gloves and keys and preparing to start his upcoming workday, he is not in the best of moods. To his great surprise, Ono can hear someone in the shop—in his kitchen, of all places!—for he could see some light shine through from underneath the door. He knows it can't be Kanda, as his apprentice still has half a year of training left in France with Jean-Baptiste before he returns to Japan and continues to work at "Antique". He also doubts it's Chikage or Tachibana, as Tachibana hates getting up early and both of the garcons workday usually starts a couple of hours later than Ono's since they don't have to bake the goods for the day and only have to show up a little bit before the opening time.
Is someone robbing the bakery? After all, there are some very rare and pricey antique crockery and tableware in the shop. Or could it be a rival company trying to steal his secret pastry recipes? Is he going to be raped and killed? For some reason, Ono finds himself oddly calm about the potentially deadly situation; the thought of leaving a beautiful corpse behind and leaving the world as a gay legend is weirdly appealing to him in his present morbid mood. So, with a brave heart, Ono opens the kitchen door to meet with his fate and steps into the room.
Before he could get his bearings, there's a loud yell of "Master!" and Ono finds himself being hugged to within an inch of his life by none other than his apprentice, who is supposed to be in Paris.
"Kanda! What are you doing here?" are the flummoxed words that Ono utters.
"Surprise!" answers the grinning ex-boxer, leaning back so he can watch Ono's face. He continues, "Master, I would never ever miss your birthday! So I took the week off to come here and celebrate it with you guys. I have been baking all night as a surprise gift for you so that you wouldn't have so much work to do today on your birthday. Happy birthday, Master Ono!"
At the dreaded reminder about his age, Ono's face crumples, and the smile that had sprung on his face when he had realized that the mysterious person in his kitchen was Kanda, his adored apprentice, is lost. He is old now! Soon, there will be no more pretty young men jumping him to give him hugs and more.
"Master, what's wrong?" Kanda asks when he sees Ono's smile suddenly disappear.
Shivering with fear and gloom over the future life waiting to entrap him, Ono pulls the surprised Kanda back into a strong and desperate hug.
This could be the last time a beautiful, virile young man hugs him.
"Not that I mind the hug… Who has upset you?"
This could be the last time he feels strong, muscular arms surrounding him, so he clings even harder to Kanda in his embrace.
"Give me a name and I'll show them a world of pain!"
This could be the last time he smells the musky scent of a young man in his arms. He burrows even deeper in to the hug. This could be the last time he feels appreciated by someone beautiful.
"Ono, what's wrong?" is the enquiry.
He feels Kanda's arms surround him protectively, hugging him back like he is the most precious treasure in the world, and the serious question forces an answer out of his unwilling throat. He whispers his feelings in to his apprentice's neck:
"Kanda, I am old! Soon, I will be a lonely old queen whom no one wants nor finds attractive. I am going to get flabby and wrinkled, and men will pass me over for yo—"
Before Ono can continue unloading his woes, he feels Kanda cup his face and kiss him passionately. It's a nice kiss. It's a nice, vigorous kiss. It's a nice, vigorous, thorough kiss. It's a nice, vigorous, thorough, long kiss that makes Ono's toes curl and his head light and dizzy. Who would have thought that Kanda has it in him?
Suddenly, the door to the kitchen swings open and Tachibana walks in, mumbling, "Kanda, have you seen my…"—only to stop suddenly because of the tableau before him. "Never mind, I can find it myself…" mutters Tachibana, turning around and leaving the kitchen in hurried steps.
After Tachibana's abrupt arrival, Ono and Kanda had stopped their kissing, only to look at each other's faces for half a minute as if to ask "What happened just now?" and burst out laughing.
"What was that for?" asks Ono once he collects himself.
"Master, it looked like you needed one. And it isn't like kissing you was a hardship. You are, after all, a gay with demonic charm," says Kanda.
"Oh god, you are not finally succumbing to that, are you?" worried Ono.
"Nah, I am still decidedly straight, but Ono, I just wanted to let you know that you will always be my idol, and while our relationship might stay platonic, you will still always be my beloved and respected master whom I will worship till my dying breath. Don't worry about being lonely and unloved," says the former boxer.
"Kanda, thanks. I needed this." Ono is really moved.
"But did you see the geezer's face?" And both of them crack up again. Everything seems brighter in the world.
So far, the rest of the day is already looking up for Ono. With Kanda, the preparations for all the needed goods have flown by fast. It has been invigorating and fun to work side-by-side with his eager apprentice again and to see what new things the younger man has learned in his time away in France. Ono knows that the rest of the week will pass by fast, and he will miss Kanda for the six months the former boxer still has to study in Paris, but the results of that experience will be worth it since Ono can already see how much further Kanda's skills have developed abroad.
The whole day, Tachibana has been giving Kanda and Ono curious and cautious odd looks, but so far he hasn't said anything. That has caused both of the pastry chefs to crack up every time they catch another one.
Unsurprisingly, Chikage has been oblivious to the hilarity around him since he arrived and hasn't noticed any of the odd behavior between his three co-workers. It doesn't stop the clumsy yet big-hearted man from giving Ono another pleasant surprise.
During a more quiet moment after their usual regular lunch rush, Chikage, clutching a badly-wrapped yellow package, walks into the kitchen and presents Ono with said package, a proud look on his face.
"Happy birthday, Ono!"
Before he can react, Ono finds himself being bear-hugged for the second time today. Chikage smells nice, and to Ono's disappointment, the hug ends far too soon for his liking.
"Open it! Open it!" chants Chikage.
The yellow package contains a big fluffy purple-and-yellow scarf and a pair of matching mittens. Both are clearly handmade and look very warm.
"Deko made them for you herself. She learned to knit this year. I hope you like them," is Chikage's proud explanation of the gift.
While the scarf and mittens are not at all Ono's usual designer label style, he still finds them to be his favorite birthday gift he's ever received. For some reason, his heart feels warm, and he can't stop smiling at the thought of Chikage's little princess sitting at home knitting like mad to finish Ono's birthday present on time.
"I love them. Thank you and thank little Dei-Dei for me too," says Ono. He continues, "Also, seeing the purple in the mittens reminded me of something. Chikage, would you mind tasting a new strawberry-blueberry tart that Kanda has thought of in France, and tell me your opinion?"
After asking the question, Ono takes one of the small tarts from the tray that Kanda had prepared and raises it to Chikage's mouth. By some odd twist of fate, alongside the pastry treat, one of Ono's fingers finds itself into Chikage's mouth.
Ono can feel Chikage's tongue moving around his index finger. Ono's finger is inside the older man's mouth, and he can feel the other sucking on his finger! He's a gay man, damn it, and it is only natural to react to this kind of stimulus; it makes him wonder what else Chikage could suck instead of his finger. Those gorgeous sinful lips wrapped around his…
Suddenly, the door to the kitchen swings open and Tachibana walks in. "Ono, do we have more Rhubarbe Fraise…"—only to stop suddenly because of the tableau before him. "Chikage you too? Never mind I don't want to know…" mutters Tachibana, turning around and leaving the kitchen in hurried steps.
Ono can't help himself and whimpers at the loss of that warm, wet, sinful mouth when Chikage releases his captive finger. For a moment, Ono detests the sunglasses the other man always wears because he can't see Chikage's eyes to understand what he's thinking.
"Hmmmm, delicious," are Chikage's husky words, and then the older man turns and walks out of the kitchen.
Ono is at loss and, instead, turns to look to the other side of the room where his apprentice is trying to keep his snickering quiet.
"What just happened?" is all Ono can say.
The former boxer just shrugs, but after a moment, he says, "More importantly, did you see Tachibana's face?"
After that comment, both of them burst out laughing and can't stop for a long time. It is not Ono's fault if this is a bit hysterical.
The third surprise of the day comes two hours after the finger incident had taken place.
Tachibana marches into the kitchen, hissing, "Ono, I don't know what kind of sexual favors Chikage and Kanda have decided to gift you just because you have a birthday today. Your demonic charm crap does not work on me. I am straight, damn it, so don't get any ideas into your head, but considering the fact that it is your birthday and I know you have been dreaming of this since we graduated high school, I have decided I can take one for the team and grant your wish of a lifetime."
That mini-rant said, Tachibana lunges, grabs Ono's head and kisses him. The kiss is explosive, and it far exceeds the kisses Ono had dreamt of having with Tachibana during their high school years. Ono can feel his knees weakening, and into this one kiss he puts years' worth of all the pent-up feelings and frustrations he has felt for the other man. For this is the kiss of a lifetime, and if this is his only kiss he will ever get from his first love, then he is going to take this chance and make it a worthwhile memory.
When the kiss ends, Tachibana looks into Ono's eyes and says, "We are never going to mention this incident again. No crazy ideas because of this! Happy birthday! Here, this is your bonus!"
Before Ono can say anything, Tachibana marches out of the room. Ono touches his lips with one hand, the other clutching the envelope Tachibana had given him.
Ono smiles. This had also been a kiss of farewell to his first love, and now he can finally bury this old fantasy and dream he has secretly carried for years where it belongs: in the past.
During the busy day, Kanda had somehow even managed to bake a surprise birthday cake for Ono without the genius pastry chef noticing it despite the two of them sharing the kitchen. The final surprise of the day arrives after the closing time of "Antique". The four of them are finishing their small celebration of his birthday, though Tachibana's sudden blushes and Kanda's constant snickering are a cause for amusement throughout the celebration.
When Ono is about to leave "Antique" for the day, contemplating whether he wants to continue the evening in his favorite bar in an attempt to find himself a diversion for the night, he hears Chikage cough to get his attention.
The older man looks nervous but determined and finally blurts out, "Ono, I have here these tickets for the ballet rendition of Peter Pan with an all-male cast. Would you like to come with me to watch it?"
Yusuke Ono suspects that this is Chikage's clumsy, unrefined yet still oddly sweet way of trying to seduce him. And damn it if he, the gay of the demonic charm, has been too stupid to notice the older man's attempts all along.
What surprises Ono is the fact that he feels oddly pleased by the thought of actually being asked out on a date by Chikage. The thought of a real, traditional date is refreshing, and he is curious to see where things will lead.
"Sure, Chi. It's a date."
And with that, Ono steps into his future.