EDTIOR'S NOTE: This takes place after the fic Eien Ni. Again, it is advised you read Eien Ni first! Thank you! - Taiki Matsuki

Otoko No Chigiri
Pledge VIII: Eternity (Kitagawa Kenta)

We've been together for a year now...It's Christmas Eve and I'm spending it with Hirokazu. We're on a real date, it's sort of his Christmas present to me...No hiding, no acting like just friends. We're a couple at Christmas...

...He even proved it by kissing me as soon as we sat down. The waiter was a little shocked, just the look on his face was hysterical... ...I almost think Hirokazu enjoyed his reaction.

Since he officially came out to everyone, Hirokazu has been getting more and more open about "us." It's not a taboo subject with the others and they're all happy for us. It still took a while for him to want to do more than hold hands in public but...Trust me, it's progress.

I admit, I felt like I was forcing him to "come out" before he was ready...Especially when we told the others that we were together. They...all knew, it wasn't a surprise. They knew pretty much since they found out about me, they played dumb for Hirokazu. In fact, when I spoke to Ruki, Ryou and Takato, all three asked something along the lines of "this is actually just an excuse to meet and let Hirokazu 'come out,' right?" I told them the truth...Hirokazu doesn't know that, though.

...Hirokazu was worried he was "obvious," I told him it was me, not him. I-I mean, if one of us is obviously gay, it's me. And...he just got declared "gay by association." It did make him feel better when Ruki admitted she didn't really think we were gay when she joked around all those times, she just liked pissing off Hirokazu. It wasn't until I came out that she realized there was a chance her jokes were...Prophetic, let's say. She hasn't stopped her jokes or taken any of it back, though, she is Ruki...And she was right, after all.

It's been almost a year since we told the others and...Well, things are like always. It was news of the day for a couple weeks but now...Nothing's really changed, except no more "ambiguously gay tamers" jokes, since...Well, there's no question now!

Ruki joked about wanting to hold a funeral for her favorite "ambiguously gay tamers" jokes, she was going to miss them so much. Hirokazu actually seconded the idea: He wanted us to dance on the joke's grave. There were no more ambiguously gay Tamers!

...Well...That's not true...

In the summer we...got a surprise... A huge surprise...

...Takato came out.

He came out to all of us while we were at the park. He's bi, too. We all supported him, of course but.. ...It was a shock to everyone...except Ruki, "Akiyama owes me five thousand yen."

...Ryou paid up and apologized profusely for betting on Takato's sexuality...Thankfully, Takato thought it was funny and he "expected nothing less" from Ruki Makino.

Still, it was...a shock. We never really suspected him, but...Well, it does explain the Gaydar. We did wonder why he...waited so long to tell us since Hirokazu and I were out for months before...

Well, actually...I can see why he waited to tell us. Takato...He's not ashamed of his orientation or embarrassed he's just...Takato. He's shy as hell, even after the Digital World and all that...He doesn't really talk about things that personal with us, and if he does. He's always bright red, quiet and stammering incoherently.

In fact the day he threw out his theory on me was, actually, his attempt to gauge Hirokazu and Jen's "views" on the subject. He really did suspect I was gay, but...I was an ice-breaker for him, kinda. He told me he felt really bad doing it, but he was getting tired of being afraid. He even planned to come out if Jen and Hirokazu were really okay with it, but lost his nerve right after he uttered the word "gay."

I keep telling him I really had no problem with his theory being brought up...Because it sort of prepared Hiro-chan for when he actually did find out. I thanked Takato for that!

And, looking back, it shouldn't have been as surprising when Takato came out... Takato was the most supportive of our friends when we were "official." He even went "awww" when Hirokazu held my hand after he came out for real. I know Hirokazu heard it, too, he agreed it was...a little surprising. When Takato did it, I glanced over to him at the time, his face practically screamed "Oh, shit! Did I really just do that in front of everyone?" And because of it, I think, he looked nervous the entire time we all had dinner together after that. No-one else seemed to notice what he did, though...Ruki definitely would have said something.

...Takato also confided in me that he liked Jen. "More than a lot." And he wanted to tell him. I was with Takato for support when he told Jen how he felt, it was after he came out to the others. But...I left when Jen asked if he could talk to Takato alone about it. I-I was...really nervous for Takato because Jen had...gone so quiet. I was afraid he was pissed or something.

...In the end...

"...Everyone, um, I know we did this a a couple months ago when Takato came out, but...I want to tell you all that I'm with him." Jen explained how it happened and everything. He...actually said it all really confidently, he wasn't afraid of any of it. He was...Jen, you know? Calm and collected the whole time. "Takato told me how he felt a few weeks ago...I was really surprised. I had no problem that he was bi, but I had no idea he liked me. Kenta was there but I had to talk to Takato about this alone. We talked about our friendship and all we'd been through..."

Jen and Takato...Gods, Takato was sort of the third part of our group when we were kids, we met him when we first started school. We were close friends, not as close as Hirokazu and I were, but we were best friends. ...Then Jen came along and Takato...He didn't "replace us" or anything, he's not like that but...He and Jen became sort of like Hirokazu and I, almost immediately. Takato and Jen were the best of friends instantly.

No-one ever thought there was "something there," like with Hirokazu and I. No, we were the "ambiguously gay" ones. Jen and Takato were just...best friends 'til the end of time.

"...I told Takato...I would actually give it a chance. I'd try to be with him. Because he's Takato, my best friend ever and...I know how much I care about him, how important he is to me. And, even though he told me he wasn't expecting me to like him back and he just wanted me to know how he felt, I didn't want to hurt him by just saying that I wasn't interested. I care too much about Takato do that to him. I wouldn't have felt right just saying 'no' to him."

Jen...We know he likes girls. He, Ryou and Hirokazu used to check out girls together a lot... ...If I ever joined in, I sort of humored them. Jen told me about his "made up girl" after I came out... ...I was a little embarrassed by that, Jen thought it was funny.

But...He decided, kind of like Hirokazu, that Takato...Was different. Takato was special to him. Jen still likes girls (he doesn't remind us like Hirokazu does), but he loves Takato...They really are close as a couple now...Jen started things sort of "experimenting," I guess, and realized he felt the same. He really loves Takato...

...And I have never seen Takato so happy.

"...I don't know if I'm gay or straight or bi or anything...I just...really care about Takato. Being with him makes me happy."

...And, of course, Ruki had to chime in...

"Jen, don't worry about that. Takato's girly enough to where you're still straight." ...We LOVE you, too, Ruki! But, crap, she was right about Jen..."Gay for goggles." Ha ha ha! ...Ruki, you may be a little bitchy and love to put us down all the time...But we freaking love you for it. Somehow.

Of course, with Jen and Takato together, she also had to say, "Bets are on, everyone! When will Akiyama come out of the closet? He's the only one left! Come on people! Place your bets! Or will he just admit it now...?".

...And that was the moment Hirokazu finally got his revenge:

"Ruki, you're wrong. There's no other guy here for Ryou...That just leaves YOU and Juri! I think it'd be hot! Confess your love to her already, Ruki! Let's see some girl on girl action!" ...Yes, he really said that to Ruki's face. There was a long silence, one of those 'Holy shit, he really said that' silences...

...And then...

...We all laughed our asses off! Even JURI thought it was hysterical!

Ruki. Was. PISSED! ...And actually sort of proud of Hiro-chan for...giving her a taste of her own medicine. She let him live with just this warning "I'm going to make you pay for that" smirk after things calmed down but...It was the first and probably only time I've ever seen Ruki Makino blush. Especially like that!

She let him live, but...I know she's plotting some sort of verbal revenge on Hirokazu. Hiro-chan, you are officially the bravest person I have ever met...I love you for it.

Though, with Jen and Takato...It did take a long time before their first kiss. Jen had to "prepare" for that step. It happened about a month after they told us they were together...Jen said that after it happened, he knew he was with who he wanted. We sort of joke that Jen is Takatosexual because no-one saw this coming, especially him. In reality, we think he's bi with a strong preference for girls...And Takato.

And Hiro-chan really is getting better at "being bi." Remember, he is not gay - that is to be made clear! Hirokazu Shiota is not gay! He's bisexual...Anyone who asks, "You're gay?" Is enlightened to Hirokazu's love of women... ...And the fact that I am, apprently, better than women...I definitely take that as a compliment!

He's happy to be my "date." That's what I am, too, Hirokazu's "date." He still doesn't like saying "boyfriend" for either of us. ...Hiro-chan, I-I love how...you are so in love with me and yet...So deep in the closet that no-one but the one with gaydar (Takato) suspected you without Ruki's help! And Ruki actually thought you were straight, she just liked how it drove you insane to joke that you liked guys!

...Actually, there was...once a hint that Hirokazu had a thing for me, before last Christmas Eve's confession... At school a few times, Hirokazu would turn down girls he didn't like by telling them he was seeing someone else. I found out who that someone else was one day at lunch when he turned down a girl while we were eating together...

Hirokazu was dating my "sister," Keiko. I-I nearly choked on my food when I heard that! Keiko is what my parents would have named me if I was a girl (they waited until I was born to find out if they were having a son or daughter).

When Hirokazu realized I was there to hear about who he was "dating," his face turned bright red after the girl left. That told me he was using "Keiko" on purpose, not just picking a random name and it just happened to be what my name could have been. ...I-I...found it hysterical and he said he "couldn't think of a name to use, it was just this one time!" I found out from some other girls that time was more like the fifteenth time. How? Because a few other girls later asked me if my sister went to our school. They wanted to meet her. I told them she went to Ruki's school, I didn't want Hirokazu to get in trouble with the girls for making up a fake girlfriend...Even if it was "me."

And it's nice to know, with Hiro-chan being bi, he could have been with "Keiko" if she were born instead...But I was the lucky one. Sorry, Keiko, if we somehow have a daughter we'll let you be her... ...Keiko Shiota-Kitagawa. ...I think that would be nice.

...And believe it or not, Hiro-chan and I have talked about marriage. Mostly the fact Hirokazu was afraid one of us had to wear a dress. No, really... ...I-I... I had to...e-explain...Ha ha ha...!

...Hirokazu, I love you but...Y-You really thought one of us had to...wear a wedding dress...? ...Then again, y-you didn't...realize bisexuality was an option for so long, the idea you thought a gay wedding included one person in drag... ...shouldn't surprise me.

...I should have told him it was decided by a coin toss and made sure to borrow Jen's trick coin so we could "decide in advance." ...Gods, that...would have been hysterical to see Hirokazu react to being "doomed to be the bride" at our wedding...Ha ha ha! I...wonder if I can still somehow do that...

...Nah, I don't...want to drive Hirokazu insane like Ruki. I'm...so happy with him. Takato and Jen told me they're really happy together but, according to Jen, "There aren't many couples like you two." ...Thank you, Jen. That means so much to me to hear that. Especially because I thought it would never happen...I-I'd spend my whole life just wishing, looking back at an accidental kiss as...the closest I would ever be to being with Hirokazu...

...I'd probably never be with anyone else. I'd just be that "really gay guy" who hangs out with Hirokazu...He might humor me now and then with a joke or a hug or something, but...I wouldn't have him, as much as I'd want him...

...I'd feel so sorry for that Kenta.

"I love you, Kenta-chan." H-Huh?

"...I-I love you, too, Hiro-chan," I reply, looking to Hirokazu. He has his menu down, smiling at me. "That was...a little out of nowhere, though..." I trail off. He...doesn't say 'I love you' too often, especially not in public. Then again, my gift is not playing "just friends" here.

We're at my favorite ramen place. Ramen sounded really good, since it's so cold out. It's where we went after Hiro-chan came out officially, too.

"I've...just been thinking," Hirokazu says, still smiling. "Remember...what happened after our first kiss? The...first-first kiss?" ...Digital World...Wow, even...Even after we became official, Hirokazu still doesn't like talking about that...

"Yeah, we...talked about, um, if it counted and...the 'guidelines' for a first kiss, right?" I ask. "We both...said it was gross, too. ...I guess we both like being grossed out." I chuckle, so does Hirokazu.

"..When I started to realize how much I liked you after that, I kinda blamed the kiss at first. I thought it was what somehow started this. I blamed Ruki, too, especially for all of her jokes... ...But...No matter what, I never blamed you," Hirokazu says. "I was afraid to say I was 'falling in love' with you but I could never say I blamed you or hated you for what was going on...And, believe me, Kenta-chan, it...It scared the hell out of me."

I nod. It...really did freak him out at first. I...was a little upset when I first realized how much I liked my best friend, that it was so much more than I was "supposed to." But, I knew...it wouldn't change...I didn't accept it at first as much as admitted defeat, but that "defeat" felt less and less like a defeat and more and more...Me. It...didn't take long for me to just live with it.

Spending so long thinking Hirokazu was straight, however... That's another story.

"...So, lately, I've...just been thinking about how...we're us. We were friends before birth, right?" Hirokazu asks. I nod, I always liked to tell people that when they asked why Hirokazu was my best friend...We're both pretty much opposites and I don't like that 'opposites attract' response. "With that in mind, we also kissed before we were a couple...Even if it was an accident. And, even before that, I'd have...done anything for my best friend and he'd have done anything for me...I just... ...I think, looking back on everything...I think I've always...loved you, Kenta-chan. Even before the Digital World, we were...Us. There aren't too many days I remember from when I was a kid that I didn't see you, and we were always happy. It just...took me forever to not only realize it...but to admit to it. ...So, I want to make up for that... I love you, Kenta-chan."

I can't stop the smile on my face. "...I love you, Hiro-chan. Thank you... ...And...you don't have to make up for 'lost time' or anything. All of this is more than...I ever thought we'd be."

"Otoko Shibuki, Kenta...It's my duty to make up for it. It's what a real man would do."

"You're definitely a real man, Hiro-chan...And I'd kick the ass of anyone who says otherwise."

"...You'd kick the ass?" Hiro-chan says with a laugh.

"...In the sense I'd point them out to you," I reply, laughing.

"That makes sense, now," Hiro-chan laughs.

...This...isn't going to end. Hiro-chan and I were born as friends and...We can only get closer. We've been getting closer and closer even after we became a couple...Our families already expect us to be together forever. Even my parents said that the idea of me being with Hirokazu was "not a surprise," when I told them last Christmas Eve. Hirokazu's family...suspected us as a couple before it was official...

...And as we get closer and closer, we can only get happier and happier.

Thank you, Hiro-chan...I love you, too.



Ori's Notes:
Unlike Kako Mo Yadda Yadda Yadda, I didn't want this one to be "through the years," more...I dunno how to describe what I was thinking with the whole "pledge" thing. Each pledge is...somehow...linked to the chapter's events but I dunno how well. I'm not a writer.

I did throw out a mini-reference to it in this chapter with Kenta's "other Kenta" scenario. ...Crap, he's becoming aware of our Ficverse Matrix (or as I call it: The Gaytrix).

As usual, hope you enjoyed. I just felt like giving Hirokazu and Kenta some attention, as much as I like this pairing I think I've been putting it aside a little too much.

Oh, and the Leekato thing: I wanted to hint at Takato being gay\bi throughout the fic after Eien Ni also hinted at it. Originally it was going to end just with that (Actually, I tried a more detailed Leekato sideplot at first, but I just wasn't feeling it)...But I wanted to make Taiki happy and make it official. I hope I made it work. I know it did help in one aspect: Hirokazu's revenge on Ruki...

...I loved writing that line.

I might do a fic about Jen deciding to "give it a chance," but I make no promises!

...Why is it at least one Christmas fic turns into something like this? First Christmas Dinner got two sequels and...That GIANT THING with the long title! ...Now this! What's the deal, Christmas? ...Seriously, I have no idea why Christmas fics do this.

Also, I want to add: The Limping Osamu Project is going well: I restarted it after doing the first drafts. The first drafts were five chapters (nowhere near complete if I just kept going with them), the new version is at eight chapters (not sure how many there will be total) and going...fairly well...But I'm...still worried. Not just the content but it's also my first "action" fic and first attempt at an AU fic, since I'm pretty much rewriting the Kaiser Arc...And I do something with Osamu that I'm not all that sure is a good idea. I won't spoil it here, but there's a picture on my DeviantArt page that hints at what it is.

Anyway, just wanted to give an update on that. Plot details are available on the profile and feedback (good or bad) is very helpful since... ...It's just really different from my usual stuff.

Taiki's Notes:

Thank you, Ori, for the Hirokenta fic! I agree, the couple has been a little bit neglected by you so it was good to see you focus on them for once. I was glad to see Kenta so happy at the end!

And since he mentioned the Limping Osamu Project: I am mostly in the dark over what's going to happen but I have seen the first three draft chapters and one other that's supposed to take place much later in the fic. The three drafts were quite nice but I simply could not get enough of the "later chapter." I do know that Ori is having a ton of fun with Ken and Osamu's characters and the implications that Osamu's survival would have had on both the Ken and the Kaiser. But I can also see why he is worried about a few aspects. Still, Ori, I believe in you!

We hope you enjoyed this fic, keep an eye out for Ori's other projects!

-Taiki Matsuki