In the wake of battle, Izo Hidehisa found himself injured, confused, and in the care of a Buddhist monk called Harou. After time in the monk's care Izo could no longer deny his feelings for Harou, but guilt over Shigemi, the lover he left behind, weighed him down.
Izo soon overcame his guilt and settled in with Harou, knowing that a life with Shigemi could never be. However, he hid a secret from his new lover. A secret that could threaten everything he held dear... again. And when Harou learned of Izo's secret, the monk was enraged, forcing Izo out.
Shigemi appeared then, looking for Izo, only to find Harou. Izo was forced to watch from a distance as the two men he loved most in the world found happiness without him...
Washi slapped Izo over the back, jarring his aching body. “What a fine victory!” His excitement was almost contagious. “The only thing that would make this night even better would be your marriage.”
Another body-racking slap struck a cord in Izo’s pain as did Washi’s words. His muscles clenched, not from the slap but by his own reaction. “You think of nothing else, Father.”
“Can’t a man want for grandchildren?”
Washi’s smile ate at Izo’s heart. This man was a good man and had been nothing but fair to Izo despite him not being Washi’s natural son. Washi took him in almost seven years past when Izo rescued Sora, Washi’s only daughter and child, from a pack of demons. Washi’s wife travelled to the afterlife during childbirth, leaving only Sora for Washi to raise alone. Washi never remarried but had always longed for a son, and Izo was perfect to carry the Hidehisa name. Washi wanted Izo to marry Sora, but Izo didn’t love her. At least, not in the marrying sense.
“Besides,” Washi continued as he settled down and patted the empty spot next to himself, “it is your duty to carry on the family name, my Son.”
Izo sat with a grimace that had everything to do with the topic of conversation. He nodded and took another swallow of his saké, nearly finishing it off. He would marry Sora out of duty and honor to his clan and his daimyo, his father. But his decision could wait until tomorrow, when he propositioned Washi for Sora’s hand.
He couldn’t handle anymore more merriment this night.
Takeo nudged Izo’s side and motioned with his head before downing his saké. Izo followed Takeo’s nod and found the geisha from earlier heading his way. She batted her big eyes but kept her alluring, frail demeanor.
“A word, my Lord?”
Both Shiro and Takeo grinned. Washi clapped him again, much to Izo’s annoyance.
“I’m too tired for you, woman. Be gone.” He waved her off and her face fell.
“My Lord, have I offended you?” She backed up a step, her fan waving frantically, mimicking the pace of her racing heart. Izo heard the fear in her voice. Her breathing increased and tiny fidgets told of her unease.
Izo knew it was he who had created this fear in her. The undertone of his denial said she had, in fact, offended him in some way. When that obviously wasn’t the case. “The battle has fatigued me. Any word exchanged would be a disservice to us both.”
The geisha relaxed, and her desperate fanning eased back into the flirtatious nature of her vocation. She said nothing but bowed to show her respect to each man.
Takeo whispered something in Izo’s ear that he didn’t catch. His friend struggled to his feet. The effects of the saké turned the task into a much harder affair than it should’ve been. Takeo swung his arm over the geisha’s shoulder and guided her away.
“I’m proud,” was all Washi said before he, too, walked off to congratulate the rest of his men and boost morale.
Izo sighed in relief. He put aside his cup and excused himself, leaving Shiro alone. Several of his men expressed their appreciation of him. Izo ignored it all in favor of concentrating on the path to his room.
The walk reflected Izo’s inner feelings. Alone. His inner need to tell someone his secrets plagued him. The gnawing, inner need to be whole was suffocating. He couldn’t keep this secret for much longer, but voicing his inner need would ensure his death. And by staying and marrying Sora, Izo sealed his silent fate. The birth of a child would out Izo’s secret, and both he and his child would be put to death. Izo wouldn’t let that happen. He would protect his child with ferocity and kill if need be.
Izo paused outside of his quarters. Was he really worrying over a child who did not exist? He was because his fate was sealed. One day Izo would out himself, and the clan would shun him at best and kill him at worst. But for now, Izo could bask in the comfort of his lie for a little longer.
A passing servant bowed low, proclaiming his status as samurai. The action jostled Izo into movement, and he retreated into his quarters.
He removed his katana and short-sword with less reverence than they deserved. For him, a sword was nothing more than a sword, not the livelihood of his honor and esteem. He hung them from the belt and disrobed, leaving them where they fell.
Izo slid into bed. The cool emptiness of the sheets solidified the empty feeling within. He wanted someone to accept all of him. Not just a portion.
His resting place was larger than most but only because of his status. It was an actual mattress instead of a thin layer of blankets and a block of wood for a pillow. He was grateful for this if only as a small comfort of his human need.
Sleep eluded Izo. He tossed this way and that, but something was afoot. How he knew, Izo didn’t know.
“You are a predictable creature.”
Izo’s inner need as a man perked at the voice of his Shigemi Hisoko, his luxurious, beautiful secret. It was the name Izo had given him years ago.
Shigemi rounded the corner wearing nothing but an unsecured robe. His black, shoulder-length hair looked as if it had been combed by hand. Shigemi wasn’t a warrior. He was soft and untried in battle, a diplomat of decoration more than a man of physical action.
Despite his soft appearance, Shigemi was a passionate lover.
Izo’s gaze swept over the exposed portion of Shigemi, the part the open robe granted him. What kept his attention was Shigemi’s erect cock. They had started sleeping together around six years ago. Stolen moments and loaded glances filled their years together.
They didn’t love each other and only sought the comfort of another man. A more accurate depiction was that Izo wouldn’t allow himself to fall in love. He knew they could never be, and it crushed his soul.
“Only for you am I such a predictable fool.”
Shigemi smiled. His hair fell forward with a slight bow. “For this I am appreciative.”
The vision that was Shigemi moved toward him. His robe floated away, giving Izo fervent glances within. His passion rose with every step Shigemi took. He wanted this man more than his next breath. Shigemi crawled over his form, enticing small sparks of pleasure from Izo.
“As am I.” Izo ran his fingers through Shigmi’s hair. How Shigemi kept his hair so soft and supple was a mystery to him.
Shigemi looked him in the eye, and Izo saw what he had denied for so long. Shigemi loved him and he loved Shigemi, but they could never be. Tomorrow he would proposition Washi for Sora’s hand and marry. But tonight, tonight he belonged to Shigemi.
Their mouths met and despite being on top, Shigemi yielded to Izo. The kiss grew with passion, their lust for one another having not been sated for over two weeks. How would he survive marriage to Sora? Perhaps his future wife would understand? No, no such woman existed.
“Shigemi...” Tingles ran across his nerves to settle in his balls. Shigemi straddled Izo, humping, dragging a moan free.
They entangled with one another, seeking what they had been denied for far too long. A ringing chorus interfered with Izo’s pleasure. Shigemi didn’t seem to notice the annoying, toxic ring.
Izo blinked several times. All sensation left him, leaving him numb. No matter Shigemi’s attentions, Izo felt nothing. The room blackened out ever so slowly, leaving Izo in a pit of confusion and despair. He didn’t want to leave Shigemi behind. He wanted this moment to last forever, to never leave Shigemi’s side again.
Fate pulled a strange and unsettling trick on Izo. One moment he was with Shigemi, about to commit the ultimate act of love, and the next he felt radiating pain and loneliness.