This chapter written specially for my dear waifu, weirdgrammar's belated birthday. And of course, for the readers as well.
Summer was its peak, and dear Kami-sama, Kagami felt an overwhelming desire to peel the layers of thick bright red kimono off he swathed himself for the sake of an old customer he'd just entertained. Even though the old man had a very weird quirk, Kagami was grateful for him as the old man had wished nothing but a companion to talk with. The old man had told him he once had a daughter, whom had had a similar crimson hair like Kagami's.
The old man had told Kagami his crimson hair was reminiscence of his daughter. And Kagami had never felt so appreciated for so long, thus he'd tried his best to be the old man's best companion.
He shuffled back along the corridor to his own room, the thick kimono rustling noisily, limiting his movement. Few fine geisha walked past him with heads lowered down and light steps towards the pleasure rooms, so he did the same thing, keeping head down, inside fully aware of what waiting them ahead. Oh, how much he despised himself for not able to help them break free from this fifthly world despite the muscular built he possessed.
If only there was a person out there, a sane person, who was kind enough to open his eyes and peer into this world, watching what the fuck was actually going on here; slavery, human trafficking, rapes, abuses, things Kagami couldn't bring himself to list up as he himself felt so painful to even think about it, the world would have known they were actually victims here.
But, Kagami had to embrace the grim truth. The world was so fucked up, and people cared not about everything but themselves. The fact that even some of his regular customers were actually from those of higher-ups had proved it. Some of them were sons of samurais, well, sometimes, the samurais themselves even. Corrupted samurais.
His mind went back to a certain person, whom he'd learned a samurai as well and had filled his mind recently, but that person carried a different aura about him. Despite the smug look he'd worn and the arrogant tone he'd expressed, Kagami could feel tingling warmness whirling about the samurai, capturing him. The warmness somewhat had drawn him closer and closer to the samurai.
His heart accelerated at the memories. His skin felt burn as the details of their first meeting resurfaced in his mind. Pleasure spiked through him. Kagami was desperate to picture them again in his mind; the tanned hand roaming around his body, sinfully sweet minty scent blanketed them, the smirk, the—
Kagami almost headbutted the paper-screened door in front of him. He whirled to the soft voice so quickly it almost gave him whiplash. He brought his gaze down irritably to the light blue haired male clad in a fine white vanilla colored kimono.
"Kuroko..." he seethed under his breath at his okiya.
His okiya held up his hands in defense, the loose sleeves slipping down his pale arms. Kuroko looked up at him with a soft gaze. No matter how many times Kagami had reminded himself, Kuroko's almost effeminate look always fooled him. "I've almost lost you there. I just wanted to bring you back to the real world before you crash into the door."
That struck Kagami with embarrassment. His okiya had just caught him daydreaming. He hoped Kuroko couldn't read his mind too. It would be very embarrassing if his okiya caught him thinking of someone. A samurai, too.
Kagami cleared his throat in an attempt to mask up his faint blush. He slid the door open, entering the small room with a measured step. His okiya tailed behind him graciously and slid the door close, so they could have some privacy.
The ear-splitting buzz of cicadas droned through the sweltering heat of the evening. Mosquitoes buzzed around his face. Kagami hated summer. The small tatami room that supposed to give a solace and comfort from the dirty world he currently lived in, now had turned into a scorching prison, suffocating him. He quickly peeled his clothes off, and he was more than willing to receive his okiya's help.
Kuroko took a simple blue and white cotton hakama from the wooden closet. A smile flickered across Kagami's face at Kuroko's choice. Kuroko sure knew which color to pick to tone down the heat, and hopefully his temper as well. Kagami slipped into the hakama, Kuroko helped him smoothen the creases from behind, and he patted Kagami's shoulders, indicating he was done.
"Thank you, Kuroko," he glanced over his shoulder at his okiya. Then, he was turned over, facing the soothing pools of blue eyes.
Kuroko pulled a tiny, knowing smile. "Wouldn't want to have you look terrible in front of the navy haired samurai, would we?"
Kagami's cheeks pinked. Kuroko must have heard snatches of their conversation that evening. "...you..."
"A moment," Kuroko placed his index finger on Kagami's lips, effectively hushing him. Then, he stood on his tiptoes to muss up Kagami's unruly crimson hair and gave a gentle push on his cheek. Kuroko smiled again. "There you go. You look far better. Now you're ready for Tanabata festival. And make sure you ask for his name this time," he gave Kagami a firm look.
Kagami rubbed his nose in both embarrassment and amusement, a smile pulling up his cheeks. His okiya always knew how to lighten his mood. To return his favor, Kagami reached out to the shorter male to play with his powder blue hair, ruffling it messily. Despite the protest Kuroko was putting up, slender hands trying to swat Kagami's muscular arm away, laughter occasionally escaped his mouth, and they both laughed together merrily, as if they were free from this dark world.
The heat of the day began to die down by the time they'd reached the street. Both Kagami and Kuroko were hurrying off down the lane, pattering loudly with their thonged wooden-soled geta clogs between the high walls that lined the route, excited at the unaccustomed sense of freedom. Once in awhile, they'd demurely bring their gaze down to the earthy ground when samurai strutted past them, as it had etched to their bodies.
As darkness fell, they rounded the corner off of the main gate of the temple, avoiding the crowds, to a hidden route Kagami and Kuroko often used whenever they wanted to attend the festival. Even so, Kagami still could smell sweet scent of grilled octopus and squid from the main gathering spot of Tanabata festival wafting through the night air. Kuroko swatted away the bushes in their way, took the shortcut to the back of the temple to find the priest guarding the place.
Upon arriving at the closest quaters of the temple, they greeted the priest and took out the piece of white paper they were carrying in their sleeves. Kuroko borrowed a brush and a black ink from the priest. Kagami watched as his okiya went sitting down on the wooden floor, gently dipped the brush in the ink, wiped it off on the edge of floor, then his hand danced on the white paper so smoothly to form beautiful strokes Kagami couldn't help but gape. Knowing it was rude to read his okiya's personal wish, Kagami shifted his gaze to the forest of bamboo in the distance ahead him.
"Come, Kagami-kun. You should make a wish too," said Kuroko as he laid the brush down on a rest.
Kagami picked up the brush, humming thoughtfully. Every year he often wished to get out from the geisha world, yet here he was, still serving those bastards. The gods never answered his prayers no matter how long he'd invested his personal time, days and nights to do trade-offs with them; 'I'll be a good person if You help me', 'I'll become a priest if You let me out of this world', too many trade-offs Kagami no longer remembered them anymore. Gradually, his hopes to walk out from Hanamiya's shackles was fading away.
However, this time it was different. There was a voice in the back of his mind whispering, telling him to write down his wish, although Kagami had no idea what the hell was his wish really was. In the end, Kagami let his instinct to take over his hand, and miraculously, strokes by strokes formed on the paper as his hand was moving of their own accord, and a simple kanji was written down.
Kagami rose a high questioning brow to the paper in his hand. The hell that was supposed to mean? He brought the paper skywards and peered closer at it, trying to decipher the meaning behind the word (although it was him who wrote it). Kagami hummed, thinking.
"Ah, the samurai has completely taken an utter control on your mind that you wrote him as your wish?" Kuroko's soft voice from his left side nudged Kagami out of his daze.
Kagami sighed exasperatedly, bringing the paper close to his heart. "For Kami-sama's sake, please do grow some presence!"
"It is not my fault if Kagami-kun was so deep in thoughts of the samurai Kagami-kun failed to notice me," Kagami smiled knowingly.
"No, I'm not thinking of him! What makes you think—"
"You wrote 'navy'. So, it is him, am I correct?"
Taken aback by his okiya's casual answer, Kagami reflexively read his wish on the paper again. 'Crap!' He turned to another brighter shade of red. Kagami turned to his okiya, frown line marring his forehead. "No...it's just...my hand moved by itself and I—"
Kuroko smiled wider. "It's so amusing to see you stutter over the samurai," then, he made his way past the quaters building and through the venerable graveyard surrounded by towering cryptomeria trees to the bamboo grove, tucked in the distant, dark corner. Kagami knew his okiya deliberately chose this route, even though there was a better and brighter place to tie their wish, as not to bump into any people.
Kagami obediently shadowed his okiya's step.
The bamboo boughs were heavy with chains, colored strips of paper, paper dolls, and purses. Kagami pulled down empty two branches; one for him, one for his okiya, murmuring a prayer as he tied his wish on to it. It sprang back up when he released it, colored paper flapping madly and chains clanking with each other noisily.
In the distance, Kagami heard people sing Tanabata song, followed by bangs of gongs and merry laughter. His mind pictured a group of children in colorful yukata running past the adults, not caring about the world, and laughing gaily. A surge of envy shot through him at the imagination he'd come up himself. Sounded so silly, yet it was happening to him; envy. Kagami wondered how it felt to run around without having to worry anything about this fucked up world.
"Come, Kagami-kun," a small pat on his back snapped him back to the present. "We have to go back to the house or Hanamiya-sama will get angry."
Kagami harrumphed at the name. He hated that name, hated it so much he'd never forgive that man. But, he knew he'd never able to defy that sickening man either. Gods know what that sly man would do to him if he defied his words and rules. Once a geisha had tried to run away from him, and she had been found after the sun had risen, frail body littered with bruises. Kagami was aware if he went against Hanamiya, it wouldn't be him to have to pay the price, it'd be his okiya, Kuroko as Kuroko was responsible for his doing. So, he reluctantly acquiesced. "Yeah, you're right."
His steps were heavy as they pattered back, not wanting to get back to the house. Kagami knew what was waiting for him there; another customer. Dread slid through his body as he tried to picture them, their disgusting eyes lusting over his body. Kagami also noticed Kuroko was slowing down his pace, as if trying to buy him more time to relish the freedom they'd never have the chance to touch it again.
Once they were out of the lone route at the wider, brighter lane, salty scent of sea grazed his nose, Kagami and Kuroko were surprised by the loud gruffy voices. Kagami's heart arrested. Panic surged through him. He recognized that gruffy voice. Kagami shot out his hand and caught Kuroko by his wrist, trying to drag him away from the place as far as possible.
But, it was too late. There he was, the owner of the gruffy voice standing before his own eyes, fat face in the shadow, streams of sweat traveling down his sides to his black hakama. It was the perverted pig he'd served the other day.
In the same time, at least four people circled them, shooting them disgusting looks and smirks. His okiya looked around, alarmed. Kagami pulled his okiya closer to his body protectively.
"Ah, how coincidence. When I was boasting about you, my little kitten, here you are, bumping into me," his crooked teeth were showing as he spoke. "Missed me?"
Kagami backed away. "Fuck off!" he hissed. The pig's smirk made him sick. It brought back those disgusting memories flooding him. Anger flared up inside him.
"Ouch," though the pig still had his smirk plastered on his fatty face. He stomped closer to Kagami, looming over him with his round body. "Say, little kitten, entertain us tonight? My friends are really looking forward to playing with you," then that pig stole a glance at his okiya behind him, ugly laughter from his companions filling the air. "And your friend over there as well," he let out breathy chuckles, sending reeks of alcohol punching Kagami in the face.
"Just fuck off!"
"No," the pig suddenly grabbed him by his front hakama, yanking Kagami forward close to his fat face. His okiya reached to him but the pig was stronger. "I won't let you—"
The pig stopped talking.
No, he couldn't talk as a sharp sword was pressed up against his double chin. A deafening silence hang in the air. Kagami watched the sword glimmer against his crimson eyes. Clacks of the clogs broke the sullen silence, followed closely by a raspy voice. The voice that had been ringing in his ears for past few days.
Weak light of half-moon curve bathed the navy hair lighter shade. The midnight hakama was whipped up elegantly in the cold sea breeze. Tanned hand clutched the sword tightly, kept it in the place on the fat chin. And dear Kami-sama, his heart skipped a few beats when those menacing navy eyes pierced into his crimson.
A raspy snicker was heard. "My apologies, but it seems you've touched what's supposed to belong to me."