The Best Laid...
8: Virtu
by Sameshima Shuzumi
1549 wc ~ R ~
Sap, angst, and shades of Shakespeare. My thanks to Madame Blue, who beta'd the last few chapters, and to Wiggle, who nudged some passages into improving.

The "u" in "Virtu" should have a long mark over it; it's the Latin word which measured the worth of the man (= "vir" in Latin.)

At last the end... I hope you enjoyed the ride. The boys sure did! ^_^

Seiji stood out in the hallway for a moment, his skin faintly glittering with cooling sweat. He hoped Touma and Shin would find the washbasin next to the bed; otherwise cleaning would be difficult in the morning.

That was fun.

By all rights he shouldn’t be standing after all that. Seiji couldn’t stop thinking of the feel of Shin’s mouth. Or the image of Touma arching beneath him, his hands clenched in the velvet cuffs. He thought wistfully of Shin’s sleek form, unfolding like a flower, and of Touma’s captivating grin as he tugged him to the dance floor. They had both surprised him, as much as they’d surprised each other. Either one would have been more than a match for him. Well, when they got around to thanking him, there’d be little room for regrets.

It was some other thought which anchored him to the spot, winding its way around his mind. He didn’t know how long he stood there, stark naked in the cool hallway, abnormally tired from the exertions.

You’re not... afraid, are you? He didn’t have an answer to that question. Steeling his resolve, Seiji made his way to the room next door.

Carefully Shin withdrew and flopped forward onto Touma’s chest. He sighed contentedly as a warm hand meandered through his sweat drenched hair. After a long while, he managed to raise his head--and was met with a sparkling grin in the dark.

His heart fluttered. "Are you all right, Touma-chan?"

The blue eyes blinked, adorably surprised by the endearment. "Nev’ better," he slurred. The hand traced his delicate cheekbones. As though willing them to be real. Someone to come home to, at last...

Leaning into his touch, Shin slid up close to Touma’s face, discovering along the way just how slippery their exertions had left them. Touma winced when Shin accidentally brushed up against the bruise where he'd punched him.

"I’m sorry I hit you," Shin said.

A smirk. "I’m not sorry I tackled you."

"Well, fine then, I’m not sorry I kissed Seiji before you did."

"I’ll make you sorry, you little shark." Touma pulled him closer.

They tasted each other for long minutes. Shin’s mind sang with the sting of pleasure that was Touma’s kiss, like dribbling sugar on a dry tongue. Soft noises escaped from Touma, moaning for more of Shin’s crisp tang, fresh as an ocean breeze. Finally they had to pause for breath.

Two sets of admiring eyes looked on each other. Sea green and midnight blue staring in wonder, as though seeing for the first time.

Touma broke the moment with an obnoxious giggle. Despite himself Shin began to laugh as well, moving back and burying his face in the archer’s shaking chest. It felt so right to be cradled in his whipcord arms, laughing like a little kid. Why hadn’t he seen this before? Possibly because they’d both been gone on Seiji.

"We should thank Seiji, I guess," Shin said.

Touma grinned. "Oh, I know how to thank him. Seiji! Oh, Seeiiiji!"

"Seiji?" Shin turned his head, Touma hissing as his soft hair brushed his nipple. "He must have left afterwards. Where’s he going to sleep, I wonder."

"I know where he’s gone," Touma murmured, already half-aroused and moving under Shin.

Shin heard the note of concern. /Do you still want him?/ His mental voice was gentle and persistent as lapping sea foam.

Touma couldn’t lie. /Yes. He’s my best friend. I... cherish him, inside and out. But... I... want to, to, um... /

Shin raised his eyebrows. Touma, at a loss for words? He looked up at the thoughtful blue eyes.

/I want to be with you./

/Oh. Touma./ Shin leaned over, pushed the forelock away, and kissed his forehead. The resulting trails of deep blue light mingled with his own muted blue glow.

/Touma./ Shin repeated. /For that you’re getting breakfast in bed./

Touma grinned insufferably. /See what I mean? To think I almost lost you to Seiji./

Shin felt himself blush. He settled next to him, his lover, lulled by the gentle fingers in his hair. The archer pulled closer for a kiss. Shin responded by rubbing noses. Touma laughed.

I want to make him laugh again--’ Still snickering, Touma shifted his hips against Shin, watching his face as he hardened again. Shin licked his lips. ‘But first--’

"You promise we’ll make it up to him sometime?" Touma asked as an afterthought. The suddenly dangerous glint in those languid green eyes had set his heart beating faster. Like the promise of storm.

"Of course," Shin growled, nudging Touma’s knees apart, "but tonight you’re all MINE!"

Seiji stumbled into Ryo's room. A dull heat seemed to emanate from the bed: Rekka was awake. The draft from the open window hardly cooled the room. He met the glittering blue eyes, like embers in the dark. Not embarrassed anymore at the sight of his bare body--Seiji had seen to that--but distressingly focused on his face and nothing else. Exhausted, Seiji collapsed onto the covers.

Ryo did not stir. He smelled of tiger and sweat. Seiji moderated his rapid breathing, wondering if Ryo had heard it all and been aroused.

"So... did your plan work?" Ryo's voice was careful, yet genuinely curious.

"Depends on which one you mean."

The wind gusted, bringing with it faint moans and sighs. Seiji shivered, though not from any cold. The blue eyes blinked. The covers lifted, and Seiji was greeted by a burst of heat. It was like entering a furnace. Seiji fought the desperate need to come closer to the fire. Scare tactics wouldn’t work on Ryo.

Ryo spread the covers over Seiji's naked body, bare arm brushing his side. With a flick of his wrist, Seiji caught him before he could retreat. He moved Ryo’s arm to the crook of his neck, where it stayed. Seiji held his breath. Maybe his other plan would work after all... Ryo was stroking the wetness on his nape, tangling his fingers in the honey-blond hair.

Then the blue eyes were close to his face, wide and glowing in the dark. Seiji, sighing, read his answer there.

"I'm sorry, Seiji," Ryo said, rather unnecessarily. He felt Seiji tense under his hand. "I can't."

/You won't./

Ryo flinched. "You're my friend, Seiji. I don't lie to my friends. Well, maybe when Touma's spiked Shuu's orange juice again, but that's different."

Seiji twitched, barely smiling at the joke. Ryo stroked his soft hair as though calming a wild animal. His voice was soft, soothing. "But I am here if you need me, okay?"

To Seiji's surprise, Ryo eased him forward so that their stomachs touched, golden and dark bangs rustling against each other. Seiji swallowed a gasp, engulfed by Ryo's heat coming through the cotton t-shirt and boxers. For a moment a wave of desire swept through him -- and was gone when he realized Ryo was warm all over, giving off the same radiant heat from his fingers and neck as from his relaxed hips and thighs.

‘He tried to tell you, didn’t he? No amount of planning will make him ache for you. It can get you in his bed, but it won’t make him feel...’ Anger surged through him. He clenched his hands, shifted his legs for leverage. Ryo read it immediately; there was the barest whisper of the sheets as he pulled back and braced for attack. They lay there, staring at each other in the darkness. Seiji’s heart thumped painfully against his ribcage. Though tensed, Ryo was still completely prone. Seiji could be on top of him in a second and Ryo would offer no resistance. Seiji could beat him senseless, hell, fuck him senseless, and Ryo wouldn’t move.

Blue eyes watched him, waiting. So close... and yet it would be the same outcome if he kissed him. No resistance. No reaction. Seiji wanted to howl. Those wide blue eyes, registering neither fear nor judgment, not even rage, except--- "I don’t need your pity!" Seiji bit out.

Again the hurt look in his eyes. Ryo couldn’t lie, could he. /Not pity. Love./

Seiji shut his eyes tight. Gods, this was too hard. This was torture. He was so tired of scheming. The energy drained out of him... so tired... He buried his face against Ryo’s shoulder, breathing in his sharp, spicy smell, hardly noticing the protective arm flung across his back. It was like curling up to a bonfire - a bonfire meant for everyone, giving unselfishly to all and expecting nothing in return.



/You are very beautiful./

Seiji nodded, unable to speak. Something caught in his throat, but Ryo gently hushed him and pulled him closer, running fingers through his hair until he relaxed into the embrace, naked and, for once, helpless. After a while, Ryo's breathing evened. Asleep.

I could lie like this forever... but only for tonight. As his eyelids drooped, Seiji grew aware of a soft reddish light filling the room.


Great Heart.

The green glow of his own kanji flared in answer. Seiji touched his lips to Ryo's skin, feeling the slow hot rhythm of his blood. The emptiness in his heart remained; for tonight at least, it would be eased in the arms of a friend.


Author's endnote:
Jin means Harmony or Benevolence, not Great Heart. But Ryo is known for both.

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