Nadeshiko: Term used to praise someone’s unadorned beauty
They shyly avoided each other’s eyes on the way back to the hut. Although they’d been lovers for some time, they both knew it would be different now. The yōkai had left, taking the kitsunebi lights with them and giving the newlyweds space and solitude.
They walked unhurriedly up the snowy path, the waning moon guiding them through the darkness. The crystals on their combs shimmered in the moonlight. When they reached their home, Hiro opened the door but then held out his hand to stop Ryū from entering.
“What is it?” Ryū asked.
Ryū took Hiro’s hand and pulled him inside. He reached up and locked his fingers behind his new husband’s neck, and then he kissed him slowly and gently. “Don’t be. I’m not.”
The hut was warm and pleasant, fire blazing in the irori. Hiro picked up Ryū and carried him to their bed of straw and kudzu vine blankets. His hands wandered down the seam of Ryū’s outer robe, toward the silver sash wrapped around his torso.
“May I?” he asked, his fingers trembling around the cord.
Ryū looked up at him, his breathing shallow. “Yes, yes. A thousand times yes.”
Underneath, there was another soft robe, and Hiro opened that too. He held both ends of the tie in his hands and gazed at Ryū’s flushed cheeks and lowered eyelids.
“You’re as beautiful as the nadeshiko flower.” Hiro lowered himself and placed an arm under Ryū’s lower back, raising his body above the mat to free his hands from the sleeves. “Undress me,” he whispered into Ryū’s ear.
Ryū slid Hiro’s layers off of his shoulders. He pulled them away, but the wedding outfits were too beautiful to let them pool on the dirt floor. He folded both of their garments and took them across the room to the bamboo shelf.
“Do we still have the sandalwood oil?” Hiro asked.
Ryū nodded and collected one of the bronze bottles from the shelf, the same bottles that had been with Hiro since the summer he’d learned how to make love to a man. In theory.
Ryū handed it to Hiro and waited for him to make the next move, unconsciously rubbing his hands.
“Sit down with me,” Hiro said, and he obeyed.
Hiro gently pressed Ryū’s shoulders back so that he was lying on the mat. He looked at Ryū splayed naked beneath him, his hair adorned with combs of crystal flowers and kudzu vines. His pale cheeks were flushed red, and a sheen of perspiration covered his neck and chest. Hiro leaned down and licked away a bit of the moisture, causing a small whimper to escape Ryū’s lips.
He knelt between Ryū’s legs, spreading him. His fingers skimmed Ryū’s manhood, making him gasp and cover his mouth. Hiro leaned over him, letting their lengths brush together, and he pushed Ryū’s hand away and ran his tongue over his lower lip.
“Don’t conceal your sounds from me. Don’t hide your face. I want to hear and see everything.”
Hiro licked his way down past Ryū’s neck, stopping on a light brown nipple to graze it with his teeth. Ryū arched his back, urging him on without words. Their eyes met as Hiro softly bit the other nub. Their hips pressed against each other and their breathing started to quicken.
Hiro sat back on his heels and uncorked the bronze bottle. He poured oil on Ryū’s chest, trailing a line to his belly and then groin.
“Relax,” he murmured, his hands kneading the oil into Ryū’s body. Once upon a time, somebody had told him what to do, and he was determined not to make any mistakes tonight. He massaged over Ryū’s nipples. Ryū inhaled sharply and reached out to run his fingers over his lover’s hair.
“I need you, Hiro. I want to feel you everywhere.”
Hiro’s hands progressed downward, impossibly, excruciatingly slow. He brushed Ryū’s balls, then the length of his hilt, then moved upward to the tip and applied pressure until Ryū was moaning in earnest.
“How do you feel?” Hiro teased, pouring more oil into his hand.
Ryū squirmed on the mat and nodded impatiently. “Please, Hiro.”
Hiro touched two oiled fingers to his entrance but did not push in. He rubbed in circles, first one way and then the other, until Ryū raised his pelvis off the mat and demanded more.
“You’re ready to let me in?” Hiro asked, his index finger pushing through the tight ring. Ryū clenched around him and turned his face away. “Look at me, Ryū. I want to see your eyes.”
Ryū’s eyes were dark when he turned back to him. “Keep going.”
Hiro’s finger continued its entry, enveloped by Ryū’s heat. When it was fully immersed, he pulled it out, drizzled on more oil, and slowly pushed it in again.
“More, please,” Ryū pleaded.
A second oiled finger went in. This one was longer and nudged a place within Ryū which made him spasm and cry out.
Hiro could never have dreamed how much he would love this, preparing Ryū to take him, watching him contract and yield under Hiro’s touch. He eventually pulled away his fingers, oiled his cock, and positioned himself at Ryū’s opening. Then he paused, trembling with tension.
“Don’t be afraid,” Ryū said. “You can’t hurt me. I’m completely yours.”
Hiro pushed through with his eyes closed, feeling only Ryū’s tight squeeze around him. He had to still for a moment in order not to peak immediately.
“Deeper,” Ryū panted, wrapping his legs around Hiro. “I want to feel you deeper.”
Hiro was the sword who had found the perfect sheath. He dropped to his elbows and buried himself in Ryū, reaching the purest place he could call home.
“I love you so much,” Ryū said.
Something broke free inside Hiro, and he let go of his inhibition. He began to move vigorously, the oil making him slick, Ryū’s hole adjusting to him. Ryū grabbed his own legs and opened himself more, helping Hiro to hit that perfect angle.
Their moans were loud as flesh rubbed flesh. Soul connected to soul.
Ryū was blossoming. His beauty was on full display—full lips parted, head thrashing, eyes tightened as he tensed in pleasure. His nails scratched the skin on Hiro’s back.
They were both close. Hiro captured Ryū’s cock in his hand. “Oh gods,” Ryū cried as he arched off the mat.
Hiro increased the speed of his thrusts and tunneled deep. With a shout, Ryū released himself in Hiro’s hand, and that was the signal that Hiro had awaited. His balls tightened and thighs trembled as he filled Ryū from within, gasping his name like a prayer before collapsing on him, depleted.
“I love you, my nadeshiko.”
When they finally fell asleep, I passed through the veil and stepped onto the dirt floor of their poor palace. They slept in each other’s arms, naked under the cover of their winter robes. I saw Kusanagi still wrapped in silk, untouched among baskets of dried fish and bags of rice. I had gifted him the real thing at birth, yet he had been chasing the replica in the Imperial Regalia. It had once been his only wish to hold this sword or even a mere reproduction of it. Now, he didn’t even care to look at it. The irony.
I took Kusanagi back to Yomi. I had been waiting a long time for him to get back his memories of me, but this was no longer the right time. Now it would crush him, and the joyful reunion I’d wished for would become a disaster.
I would give it back to him afterwards. When it would no longer matter.
Somewhere in Takamagahara, my father was laughing at me, basking in my misery.