In 2001, a group of residents from Morioh-cho had a going-away party for one of their own. Higashikata Josuke was slapped on the shoulder and back, wished good luck, and told (by Rohan, who paid for his comments) to get a better haircut before he went off to school. His mother kissed him goodbye; Jotaro, staying in Morioh-cho for some work, helped him with his suitcase, and then there were just Koichi and Okuyasu to bid him a tearful farewell.
“Josuke! Don’t you dare forget about us!” Okuyasu cried, scrubbing his eyes furiously with the back of his hand.
“I won’t,” Josuke promised, and they threw their arms around each other in a hug. “I’ll be back for break before you even notice I’m gone.”
Koichi gave him a firm, adult handshake, and then Josuke grabbed him in a hug as well. “I’ll miss you, Koichi!”
“You too! Make sure to call lots. Okuyasu will cry if you don’t.”
“We’re really going to miss you,” Koichi said when Josuke released him. “Summer really can’t come soon enough.”
Josuke turned to go, grabbing his bags, and started for the entrance to the train station. “Don’t worry. I’ll be back before you know it.”
It was a very long spring.
But it did pass. The cool, damp air began to dry up as summer loomed around the corner. Time passed for everyone. Kishibe Rohan, finishing up a new manuscript, saw that summer had come when he suddenly had to turn the AC on one day. Koichi noticed it coming home sweaty from a walk with Chief, who was getting too old to go out walking anymore anyways. Okuyasu realized it when he crossed off the last day between here and there, here being the long, cold spring, there being that day, the day that Josuke was slated to come home for summer break.
He sat back on his bed, legs folded, and scratched his stomach through his tank top. He had woken up early with the express intent of going straight to Ms. Higashikata’s house to help with the welcome back party setup, but he’d woken up a little too early. The sun was barely coming up.
He’d taken the day off from work to dedicate it to Josuke, but he suddenly wished he had taken a shift first thing in the morning, just to help him pass the time. Okuyasu sighed, rolling off his bed to land on his feet, and headed for the shower.
He was just finishing up in the bath when he heard the doorbell ring. Koichi had said he’d come over that morning so that they could show up to the Higashikata’s house together, but he was a little early still. “Yeah, coming,” he yawned, wrapping a towel around his waist and heading down the stairs to the front door.
He had his eyes trained down for Koichi’s height, so imagine his surprise at opening the door to find himself staring down at a pair of nicely-defined pecs. No way. He lifted his head, slowly, for it was too good to be true, and found Josuke grinning back at him.
“Josuke!” Okuyasu threw his arms around him, dropping his towel. “Oh, shit, I didn’t know you’d be back so early! I’m--I’m tearing up, man!”
“Whoa,” Josuke laughed, “it’s okay! Don’t cry over me.”
“I got all my crying out when you left, dummy! Shit, I’m naked. Come in! How’s school?”
Josuke stepped inside after him, as Okuyasu retied his towel around his waist. “School’s good.”
“Is it fun?”
A laugh. “No, it’s a lot of work. But I feel like I should stick it out, until I know what I wanna do, at least.”
Okuyasu just kept grinning at him. “What about you? Are you--?”
“Working,” Okuyasu said. “I got hired at a garage.”
“Awesome! Is that bike outside yours, then?”
“Well, it’s… it technically belongs to my boss, but I needed a ride, so…” Okuyasu rubbed the back of his head sheepishly.
“That’s awesome. Really awesome.” Josuke grinned back at him. He was wearing a tight-fitting t-shirt from his school, and flattering jeans that hugged his figure. Okuyasu glanced down at himself in comparison. Still naked.
“Get dressed man, let’s go do something,” Josuke said, and Okuyasu leapt into action, thundering up the stairs to put some clothes on.
It was a lot like being back in high school. They walked over to Josuke’s house together, laughing and making a ruckus, waking up the neighborhood. Tomoko must have heard them coming, because she came running outside to hug her son, scolding him all the while.
“You still doin’ your hair every morning?” Okuyasu asked as they sat at the breakfast table, enjoying the smells coming from the kitchen.
“Yeah. I was a little nervous someone would say something at first, but no one cares. College is different.”
“I bet,” Okuyasu said.
“You still wanna go, when you get a chance?”
Okuyasu noded, thoughtful. “I guess. I mean, I’ve got a good job, but I think I should get more educated too. It’s what bro woulda wanted for me, probably.”
“So you wanna go?”
“I guess so, yeah.”
“You should aim for my school.”
“Hell no, man, I’m not gonna be your kouhai.”
Josuke laughed. They finished breakfast, and were shooed out of the house by Tomoko so that she could cook without distractions or “help.”
“What do you wanna do, man?” Okuyasu asked as they headed into town. Just like old times, the same old friends, their same old sauntering walks, same hairdos. It was kinda like no time had passed since high school, never mind how long it had felt.
“Anything’s good,” Josuke said.
“I’m actually pretty broke, so…”
“My treat,” Okuyasu said, puffing out his chest.
They drank coffee at the cafe, bitter, but perfect for Josuke’s refined palette once he’d added a bunch of sugar and cream. Koichi found them there and joined them easily. They chatted and laughed and poked fun at one another just like they had back in high school. Nothing had really changed.
After prowling the town a while, they headed back to Josuke’s house for the party. It was a family and friends affair, and yet somehow, Rohan managed to make the guest list. Whatever. Josuke had resolved to be nicer to him since punching his face in at the last party.
Jotaro was still in town, still on business, and came over for some cake and drinks. He clapped Josuke on the shoulder.
“Do well in school.”
“I’m trying, Jotaro-san.”
“Stay out of trouble.”
“Shouldn’t you have told me this stuff before I started?”
“Don’t fall for college women. If you marry someone from high school or college, you’re screwed,” Jotaro finished, and took a long drink to avoid talking anymore.
Josuke laughed, finding himself staring around at his guests. Don’t fall for someone from your school years, huh? Well, he was probably already screwed on that one.
“Josuke!” Okuyasu hollered, throwing an arm around his shoulders.
“Whoa, watch the hair.”
“C’mon, we’re gonna get pictures!”
Josuke let himself be dragged away to where the rest of the gang was squabbling over how to pose for photos. Jotaro joined them shortly. Tomoko stood behind the tripod, muddling through setting the timer on the camera.
“Okay, I think I got it!” she called, tapping a button and running over to wrap an arm around her son. “Say cheese!”
A moment passed, and then the flash burst, blinding them all momentarily. “We got it!” Tomoko cheered happily, running back over to the camera. “One more, don’t move a muscle!”
They took a total of five more photos, and then dispersed to enjoy the food and drinks and company. Mikitaka amused the boys with his absolute lack of prowess at video games. Tomoko twisted Jotaro’s arm until he showed her photos of his daughter, Jolyne. Rohan made a nuisance of himself as usual.
“I’m stuffed,” Okuyasu complained, lying half-dead on the living room floor.
“You ate too much cake,” Koichi laughed.
Josuke was silent. Okuyasu tilted his head to look up at him.
“Whatcha thinkin?” he asked, tapping Josuke’s thigh with the back of his hand.
“Just that you looked like a pig, eating all that cake.”
“H-hey! It was good, okay?”
The three of them laughed. “Well, I’ve gotta get home,” Koichi said. “Three hours pass, four hours fail, or whatever.” He’d taken a year off from school to study for entrance exams in a year.
“Have fun,” Josuke called after him. He closed his eyes, warm and content. His head sagged.
“Hey.” Okuyasu smacked at his leg again.
“You happy to be home?”
Josuke fought the urge to glance down at him. “Yeah. It’s kinda weird. Everything’s the same, but I guess it’s also changed. Just a bit.”
“We really miss you around here,” Okuyasu said. He finally sat up, then pushed himself to his feet and stretched. “Well, I gotta get dad home and stuff.”
“We should hang out tomorrow too.”
“I gotta work in the afternoon, but if you can get your butt out of bed tomorrow morning, sure.”
“Deal,” Josuke said. He stood then, following Okuyasu out to the hallway to see him off.
“Tomorrow morning,” Josuke reminded him.
“Yeah, see you then.”
The door shut, and then it was just Josuke. And Tomoko, somewhere cleaning up the mess from the party.
Josuke headed upstairs, scratching his stomach through his shirt. It had been a good day. Right? A real fun day. He’d gotten to see all his buddies again. So why did he feel so melancholy? Had something happened while he’d been away, other than Okuyasu getting a job and Koichi taking a gap year?
“Just feels weird,” he muttered, stopping to admire himself in the mirror. Hair: perfect. Complexion: Great. He looked like he always had, right?
He shut his bedroom door and dropped down onto the bed. Things were changing, all around him. It was like leaving for college had been the catalyst for everyone else to grow up, and it kinda sucked. He’d hoped to have Okuyasu and Koichi all to himself all summer long, but it sounded like they might be busy more often than not. Growing up was such bullshit.
And besides all of that, besides the sad, nostalgia-fed lost feeling in his stomach, there was something in his heart, too. He’d always had just a little crush on Okuyasu. Just a dude crush! They were best friends, it was normal for his heart to flutter a little around the other guy. But absence makes the heart grow all the fonder. Before he’d come home, he’d been having dreams about Okuyasu, seeing him again, hanging out again. Those were normal, totally fine. But the dreams about the two of them, as a couple…
It was kinda hard to look Okuyasu in the eyes without thinking about it.
“This suuuuucks,” Josuke deadpanned in the silence of his room. Something stirred in the back of his consciousness, and Crazy Diamond appeared beside him, gazing down at his face in confusion. “It’s nothing,” Josuke sighed. He was going nuts, talking to himself. “Just--this is stupid. He’s my best friend. I shouldn’t be scared to look at him.”
Crazy Diamond nodded silently.
“He’s so pretty though,” Josuke sighed. “Hey, do you like The Hand?”
Crazy Diamond gave him two thumbs up and a tiny smile.
“Maaaan!” Josuke grabbed his pillow and covered his face, then launched it across the room at the wall. The pillow made a dull sound and dropped to the floor.
Josuke rolled over, looking over his bedroom. So many childhood mementos, so many old things he hadn’t touched in years. His eyes fell on his desk, clear of dust thanks to Tomoko. The computer monitor she’d dragged home from work years ago when the company had thrown it out sat atop a cream colored tower, lying on its side. The keyboard was covered in papers, stuff from his last year of school he’d never thrown out. More electronics popped up here or there on the desk; the remote to an RC car (who knew where the car was now) a telephone, cord curling like a snake ready to strike on the edge of the desk, two cameras (different models, a Polaroid and a more “serious” camera the old man had sent him as a birthday gift,) and a video recorder, lying on its side. He looked past the video camera, disinterested, then his eyes shot back to it. Jotaro had sent it to him as a gift a couple years ago, (sure was nice to have rich relatives, huh?) when he’d expressed some juvenile interest in movie-making. After fiddling with the recorder for a couple hours with the guys, he’d lost interest in making films, and the video camera had become just another toy to decorate his room and gather dust.
But looking at it now gave him an idea. A dirty idea. An idea not meant to be followed, but…
He wasn’t a kid anymore. That much had become clear when he’d come back for break. He couldn’t get kicked out of high school or grounded anymore. (Or at least, he hoped not. It would suck if Tomoko banished him to his room for all of summer break.) As long as he didn’t break the law, he could do whatever, right? And as far as he knew, there wasn’t a law against what he was thinking about.
But it was a dumb idea! A joke he’d thought about just a little too much. A fantasy, thought up in the moment, spurred by his weird dreams of late.
Josuke rolled out of bed and grabbed the camera off his desk, peering through the viewfinder at his bedroom. It would be fun to take some videos of the gang while he was here, he reasoned. Just to have something to look at when he was at school, when he was feeling lonely and couldn’t call long-distance. He didn’t have a roommate, and he had a small TV and VCR in his dorm room, so if he just bought some blank tapes and batteries for the recorder....
It was coming together in his mind easily, and he was using the innocent idea to rationalize something else, something that made him feel guilty to think about. Taking some videos of his buddies goofing off would be one thing, but if he brought to life that fantasy, if he made Okuyasu hate him for it…
Nah, he decided, setting the video camera back down. Better not.
Josuke was up at the crack of dawn, ignoring the promise of extra sleep that his warm bed offered. He dressed, put his hair up into its usual pompadour, and struck a pose in the mirror. Yup, looking good.
He jogged down the street, shivering in the early morning chill. It was supposed to be a hot one that day, but he had dolled himself up as much as any other day. Josuke fully expected to find Okuyasu twisted up in his bedsheets, snoring the morning away, but when he let himself into the Nijimura house, he found Oku in the kitchen instead. He was showered, shaved, dressed, and brewing coffee while his father ate a bowl of sliced bananas.
“Hey,” Josuke called, and Okuyasu turned to grin at him. He paused a moment, then laughed softly. “What?” Josuke asked, looking down at himself. He didn’t see anything out of place.
“You look just like you did in high school.”
“Uh, yeah? Am I supposed to dress like a retiree now or something?” Josuke crossed his arms. It wasn’t like he was wearing his snazzy and still very cool uniform…
Okuyasu, wearing a t-shirt from the garage he worked at--with the sleeves torn off--and a pair of jeans, turned back to the coffee maker. He poured himself a mug of the strong smelling stuff and took a sip, pulling a face when his tongue got burnt.
“You drink it black?” Josuke asked, amazed.
“Well, sometimes it’s fun to have something sweet, but it’s better for you black, so… You want a cup?”
“Sure,” Josuke said, eager to try it since Oku had talked it up. Okuyasu passed him a mug full of piping hot, dark dark black liquid. Josuke sniffed at it, and elected to let it cool just a little first.
They sat at the table on opposite sides, Okuyasu’s dad between them. “So, I thought you me and Koichi could go to Trussardi’s,” Josuke started.
“Can’t, it’s closed.”
“Tonio’s outta town for this whole week. Said he had some kinda family thing to do.”
“Aw, man… Well, we could still go to St. Gentleman’s and get lunch--”
“Koichi’s going on a family trip starting today,” Okuyasu informed him.
“What?! Why does nobody tell me anything?” Josuke grumbled, glaring at his coffee.
“I guess we just… kind of thought you knew this stuff already. I mean, we used to be together all the time, so with you gone, I guess we forgot that you weren’t around for everything. Sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Josuke said, feeling guilty for playing up the pout. He took a sip of his black coffee and grimaced. “Dude, this sucks. Did you make it wrong?”
“That’s just how it tastes.”
“You don’t drink coffee at university?”
“I... drink coffee, but not like this.”
Okuyasu grinned at him. “Betcha can’t drink the whole pot.”
“Dude, I don’t want to.”
“I’ll buy you lunch.”
Josuke, who was still incredibly broke, straightened up. “St. Gentleman’s?”
“Yeah, sure. If we can get there early enough.”
Josuke picked up his mug, unclenched his jaw, and drank it down.
“Your stomach still hurts?” Okuyasu asked, mouth full of sandwich. Josuke had barely touched his lunch.
“Dude, I feel like shit.”
“Shouldn’ta drank all that.”
“You probably can’t die from drinking coffee, though,” Okuyasu said. “My boss drinks about six cups a day, and she’s fine.”
“You got a lady boss?”
“It’s the 2000’s man, of course I do.”
Josuke laid back in the shade, resting his eyes. His stomach really hurt. And his neck felt sweaty. And his pulse was too quick, stuttering in his chest.
“You should go home and rest,” Okuyasu said.
“I don’t wanna waste a day.”
“Go home,” Okuyasu said again, kicking his leg.
Josuke grumbled. “Don’t get my pants dirty.”
“My shoes aren’t dirty!”
They sat there for a while longer. “I gotta get ready for work soon,” Okuyasu said.
Josuke opened his eyes and tilted his head back to look at him. “I kinda miss being in high school and just skipping class.”
“Yeah, well, if I do that, I’ll get fired.”
“Yeah,” Josuke sighed. “It’s just weird, how everything changed.”
“Well, we’re adults now,” Okuyasu said. “That’s normal, right?”
“Somehow, you got kinda smart too.”
“Shut up!” Okuyasu laughed, kicking at him again, and stood up. “If you wanna hang out again tonight, come over around eight. I don’t work tomorrow, so we can stay up late.”
“Sounds great,” Josuke said, sitting up slowly and dragging himself to his feet. “Well, have a good day at work, dear.”
“Dude, shut it.”
That night at eight, Josuke walked back over to Okuyasu’s house. The motorcycle was parked in the yard, weedy and dry as it had ever been. He let himself in again, sitting on the edge of the entrance to take off his shoes, and then padded through the house, looking for his best friend.
“Hey,” Okuyasu called from the stairs as Josuke passed by. “There’s beer in the fridge. You want one?”
Josuke raised an eyebrow. “You buy beer now too?”
“Boss buys it for me sometimes, as a reward…”
Josuke laughed and headed into the kitchen. He heard Okuyasu jump down to the floor behind him and follow.
“So is your boss your girlfriend or something?” Josuke asked, as Okuyasu cracked open two beers for them.
“What?! No way. Why would you think that?”
“I mean, you’ve brought her up like three times today.”
“Yeah, but… I guess I looked up to her a little, when I first started there. But she’s not my type.”
“Oh?” Josuke took his beer, taking a sip. Disgusting. This was the flavor of adulthood. “What’s your type then?”
“I don’t have a--mind your business, Josuke!”
“You just said you have a type,” Josuke teased. “So what is it? Girls with long hair? Or are you into biker chicks?”
“No,” Okuyasu mumbled, looking down at the mouth of his beer bottle. “I don’t wanna talk about it, okay?”
“Okay, okay.” Josuke patted him on the shoulder, walking past him to the window. The light of day was just beginning to slip away. He sipped at his beer again, slowly adjusting to the horrible flavor, and leaned his back against the windowsill.
“What about you?” Okuyasu asked, leaning on the counter. “You got a girl?”
“I barely have time to sleep, let alone meet people. No way.”
Okuyasu grinned. “We all thought you were gonna cut your hair when you got out there.”
“What? Why?! Who thought that?”
“Don’t get mad, just… everyone thought you’d find a nice girlfriend, settle down… get a haircut.”
“ Everyone thought that?”
“I mean, I was relieved when I saw you still had your pompadour. It’s so you.”
“But you still thought I might cut it, huh?” Josuke stalked forward, face dark. Okuyasu gulped, staring up at him.
“Idiot,” Josuke scolded him, flicking him on the forehead.
“Ow! Don’t do that without warning me!”
“Like I’d ever stop wearing my hair like this! Dummy.”
“Josukeeeeee,” Okuyasu whined, as Josuke flicked him again. They both laughed, little giggles that shook their broad frames, and grinned at each other.
“So, you don’t work tomorrow?” Josuke double checked.
“Nope. If you wanna stay over, I’ve still got that game system…”
“Sure. I think I brought some games anyway.”
They headed upstairs with their beers, Okuyasu leading the way. The house had cleaned up mostly pretty well, no longer a mess of peeling paint, cracked wood, and dusty cobwebs. It seemed like Okuyasu was taking good care of it. Josuke ran his hand over a spot on the wall that had been riddled with bullet holes from Bad Company. Totally patched up.
Oku’s room was messy, but livable. His windows were open and a fan was running, blowing tepid air at them as they sat down on Okuyasu’s mattress. Nothing had really changed in there, though the spot where he’d previously hung his modified school uniform now featured his clean coveralls for work.
“You like your job?” Josuke asked, as Okuyasu dug into the bag he’d brought to see what games Josuke had picked out.
“Yeah, it’s cool. I work with some weird people, but it’s fine.”
“Anyone you like?”
“Not at work.” Okuyasu said it casually, but Josuke shot up from the bed.
“Not at work, huh? But you like someone?”
“W-well, I didn’t say that--”
“Who’s the lucky girl?”
“I’m not telling you.” Okuyasu turned Josuke’s bag upside-down to dump out all the stuff he’d packed. Some snacks, a fair handful of video game cartridges, stuff for his hair and skin, a clean pair of boxers. The video camera.
“What’s this for?” Okuyasu asked, picking up the recorder. Josuke stared at it. He thought he had left it at home, but here it was. He must have grabbed it instead of his hairbrush.
“Uh, it’s a video recorder.”
“You makin movies now or somethin?” Okuyasu held the camera up to look through the viewfinder, and pointed it at Josuke.
“Thought about it,” Josuke said. “I mean, it would be neat to get some video of the gang this summer, you know?”
“Yeah,” Okuyasu said as he lowered the camera.
“Anyway, wanna play Donkey Kong?” Josuke asked, changing the topic as smoothly as he could.
They stayed up late, drinking and yelling at the TV as they got worse and worse at video games. Eventually, Josuke felt his eyelids drooping, and his head sagged, landing on Okuyasu’s shoulder. Okuyasu jolted awake.
“‘M gonna go brush my teeth,” Okuyasu announced, and headed for the door. Josuke flopped over onto his side, drunk and sleepy.
“C’mon!” Okuyasu yelled from the sink, and Josuke groaned, dragging himself upright to go join him.
Teeth clean, hair messy, t-shirts and boxers on, the two of them crowded into Okuyasu’s full-size bed, elbows and shoulders and knees getting in the way and making it hard to fall asleep. The beer helped, though, and Josuke felt himself drifting off when Okuyasu’s hand landed on his left shoulder.
He cracked his eyes open, looking over at his best friend. Okuyasu was fast asleep, breathing evenly, brow just slightly furrowed. He squeezed Josuke’s shoulder gently.
Josuke sighed, rolled towards Okuyasu, and rested his head on his shoulder.
They awoke sweaty, hungover, and grouchy. Okuyasu headed straight to the kitchen to brew coffee, while Josuke hugged the toilet bowl, wishing he could just puke up whatever was making him feel so horrible now. Probably the combination of too much coffee and too much beer.
“I made enough coffee for both of us,” Okuyasu let him know as he made his way downstairs, squinting hard in the morning light.
“No thanks. I just want water.”
They sat in silence, nursing their hangovers. Josuke was just starting to relax and feel better when the shrill ring of a telephone sounded off in the noiseless kitchen, jolting him back to alertness.
“Who’s calling this early,” Josuke groaned. Okuyasu stood and grabbed the phone off the hook, tugging at the curly cord.
“Hello? Oh, hey boss. Huh? ...Today? Really… I mean, uh, I guess, but… Well, my best friend is in town, so I was… tomorrow? Uh...” He glanced back at Josuke, mouthing something.
“What?” Josuke asked, cupping his hands around his eyes like binoculars.
“Can we hang out tomorrow,” Okuyasu whispered.
“Yeah, but I’m not drinking with you again.”
“Boss? Yeah, I can come in. Yeah. Sure. See you in an hour.” He placed the phone carefully back in the cradle on the wall, and turned to Josuke. “I gotta go in today, but she’s letting me take tomorrow off, so…”
“Works for me,” Josuke grumbled, covering his eyes.
“You gonna go home and sleep?”
“Screw that, like I’m gonna go outside in that sunlight. How come you’re not all tired and sore?”
“Guess I’m more used to it,” Okuyasu said with a shrug. “If you want, you can sleep in my room. And help yourself to anything in the fridge, except the Jell-o cups. Dad’ll have a fit.”
Okuyasu got ready for work as Josuke dragged himself back to bed. He collapsed into his friend’s mattress, too soft and too springy for him, but comforting somehow. It smelled like him.
“I’ll be back around six,” Okuyasu said, poking his head into the room. “Dad’s up, and he’ll pretty much take care of himself.”
“Okay,” Josuke called, arm slung over his eyes to block out the light.
“Hey, maybe we can hang again tonight.”
“Don’t bring beer.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Okuyasu could be heard hurrying down the stairs, and then opening and shutting the front door. Outside, his motorcycle came to life with a roar, and then he was gone.
Josuke slept past noon. He dragged himself to the bath, shedding his sweaty t-shirt and boxers to wash himself up. He had just sunk into the bathtub to soak a while when the door slid slowly open. A squat, green, lumpy creature peered in at him, making a worried sound.
“Uh… Hey, Mr. Nijimura. You remember me? Josuke?”
Mr. Nijimura shut the door, and scampered off down the hall on all fours.
Josuke sank into the water, starting to relax again, when the door opened a second time. Mr. Nijimura was back, producing an anxious whine from his beaklike mouth.
“You worried cause Oku’s gone?”
Mr. Nijimura made a “nngaaaah” noise and ran off again. Josuke sighed, climbing out of the tub, and threw a towel around his waist to investigate.
Mr. Nijimura stopped at the top of the stairs, then navigated his way down to the first floor. Josuke followed him into the kitchen, curious. Mr. Nijimura opened the fridge, pulled out a Jell-o cup, and held it out insistently to Josuke, miming something with his hands.
“...You want it open?” Josuke asked.
Mr. Nijimura made a happy sound. Josuke peeled back the lid and handed it over, at which point Mr. Nijimura stuck his beak into the Jell-o and slurped it up.
“Is that it?” Josuke asked, as the green beast that had once been Okuyasu’s dad ran off down the hall. He shrugged, shutting the fridge door, and headed back upstairs to get dressed.
He found himself back in Okuyasu’s bedroom with nothing to do. He should probably head home and spend some time with Jotaro and Tomoko… He swung his feet back and forth off the edge of the mattress, eyes on the ceiling, riddled with patched-up holes. He was feeling idly along the bottom edge of the mattress when something brushed against his hand. The corner of a book or something. He paused, then grinned to himself. Okuyasu was hiding magazines under his bed, huh? Being a guy himself, he knew exactly what to expect when he lifted up the mattress, and yet was oddly excited for it. He could finally find out what kind of girls Okuyasu liked and tease him about it.
Josuke lifted the mattress with one hand, grabbing the magazines with his other, and gave a soft “yoink!” He grinned, looking over the selection, and his face slowly fell. Uh. Hm. Well, that was.
Unexpected was the word.
“Nngah!” Mr. Nijimura called from the doorway, and Josuke whipped around, hiding the magazines behind his back. Okuyasu’s dad held up another Jell-o cup. “How many of these do you eat in a day?” Josuke laughed nervously, opening it for him. Mr. Nijimura wandered off again, sucking on the plastic.
He turned back to the small stack of magazines, tapping his chin. What to do about those? He could easily pretend not to have seen them, stuff them back under the mattress and feign ignorance.
But he didn’t want to. He wanted to know what Okuyasu liked, what got him off. His subconscious had been trying desperately to fill in the blanks in his dreams, like a bad game of Mad Libs written about your best friend’s boner. Okuyasu gets hard for [blank.]
He looked down at the topmost magazine, the front covered with a picture of a young, lithe man. His pelvis was thrust forward, every sharp edge jutting against his skin, and his head tipped back in ecstasy. The second cover was similar, but different: a strong, muscular dude, holding his lightly clothed dick in his hand, beckoning at the viewer. The rest of the collection was like that too. All guys.
That was not at all a bad thing.
So was Okuyasu gay? Josuke tried to think of any time Okuyasu had shown interest in anyone. He’d gotten jealous about Koichi and Yukako plenty of times, but that was more likely because he liked to be involved in things. He hated being left out. But had he ever expressed an interest in a girl? Or, with this new discovery: a guy?
They’d checked out body improvement mags at the convenience store together as high schoolers, oohing and aahing at the sweaty, well-oiled musculature of adult men who could work out nonstop all day. They’d worked out together, too, and complemented each other’s progress, but it had never been like that. It hadn’t. Josuke would have noticed if it had been.
After all, he was in love with his best friend.
“Hey, you still here?” Okuyasu called into the quiet house. His father came scampering down the stairs, clawing at his jeans and pointing excitedly at the kitchen. “Yeah, let’s get some dinner, pops. Josuke, you here?”
“Yep,” Josuke said, starting down the stairs.
“Did you sleep all day?”
“Nah,” Josuke drawled. He had gone home mid-afternoon to grab some notebooks and do a little studying so that he wouldn’t fall behind at university, played some video games, and flipped through Okuyasu’s stash of magazines. A busy, productive day.
“I don’t feel like cooking,’ Okuyasu whined, heading into the kitchen anyway. His father held onto his pant leg, making various sounds and pointing towards the fridge. Okuyasu glanced at the trash can: full of Jell-o cups.
“Josuke! What the hell, man, how many did you give him?”
“Uh… he just kept bringing them to me, so…”
“Dad! You ate them all!” Okuyasu cried, putting his head in his hands. Mr. Nijimura made a sad sound and tried to climb onto the shelf in the fridge.
Josuke helped with dinner, because he felt bad, and the three of them ate together at the table. Josuke was just burning with questions for Okuyasu, but he would keep them to himself for now. At least until they were alone.
“Hey, you goin home tonight?” Okuyasu asked, stuffing his mouth with rice.
“Dunno. I’m feeling a lot better, so… I dunno.”
“You should stay,” Okuyasu said, eyes on his food. “If you wanna.”
“Nnnnaaaah,” Mr. Nijimura said, resting his cheek on the table and putting food into his beak with his claws.
“Dad, you’re making a mess,” Okuyasu sighed.
They went for a walk after dinner, Mr. Nijimura scampering ahead and pointing at where he wanted to go. Okuyasu talked about work, and about some problems he’d had with a car he was working on, but Josuke’s thoughts were elsewhere. He nodded along, occasionally tossing out a “oh, really?” and a “huh…” at his friend’s story.
They made it back to their neighborhood as the sun was setting. Tomoko waved them over as they passed the Higashikata house. She planted a kiss on Josuke’s cheek.
“You know, I really hope you’re keeping up on your studies.”
“I am,” Josuke groaned.
“And don’t overstay your welcome. Okuyasu, send him home when he starts bugging you.”
“Yes ma’am!” Okuyasu said with a grin. “Josuke, you’re bugging me.”
“Make sure you come home tomorrow!” Tomoko called after them. “We’re having lunch with Jotaro-san!!” Josuke waved over his shoulder as they continued to the Nijimura house.
Late that night, they prepared for bed again, getting ready to settle into Okuyasu’s mattress for the night. Josuke hadn’t brought up the magazines, and he hadn’t brought up his fantasies, but he was dying to say something.
“Dad’s all wired up,” Okuyasu groaned, scratching under his t-shirt as he came back to the bedroom. “You know how much Jell-o he ate? He’s probably gonna have like, crazy diarrhea.”
Josuke pulled a face. “Dude.”
“I’m just saying.” Okuyasu climbed over him to the side of the bed nearest the wall, settling in. He pushed his knee against Josuke’s lower back, nudging him. Josuke jolted from the touch. “You wanna hit the lights?”
“I gotta pee first,” Josuke lied, hopping to his feet. He padded off down the hall to the bathroom, where he leaned on the edge of the sink and held his head in his hands. When had things changed? He’d managed, the day before, to convince himself that everything was as it had been, despite appearances. But the feelings inside him were so different. He wanted Okuyasu. His firm, hot touch, his solid body, every part of him. Even that; especially that! At any given moment, his urges threatened to break loose, and he might say something too playful, or let a touch linger too long, and it would all be over. Regardless of whether or not Okuyasu was gay… Hearing your best bud tell you that he was head over heels for you would put anyone off. He was sure of it.
And then there was that voice inside him, that desperate, pleading voice begging him to consider: What if Okuyasu likes you too?
What a stupid question. He’d gone through all the magazines under his best friend’s mattress, and compared the wear and tear on every page. He’d successfully deduced Okuyasu’s type from that reading session, and he wasn’t it.
Josuke splashed some water on his face, staring blankly at his drooping hairdo. Tomorrow. Tomorrow they could hang out all day, and then… Maybe they could talk, if he didn’t chicken out.
“Behold… Okuyasu, in his natural habitat.” The camera panned across the bedroom, over dirty laundry and various junk to the bed, crammed into the corner. Okuyasu lay sprawled over the rumpled sheets, one hand resting against his chest, the other scratching idly in his boxers. He grunted when Josuke settled onto the bed next to him, turning his head and cracking open his eyes.
“Oi, Josuke… What’s with the camera?”
“The Okuyasus Somnambulus--”
“What the hell did you just call me?”
“Spends his days slumbering and--dude, hey!”
Okuyasu sat up, nearly knocking Josuke off the bed, and grabbed for the camera. “My hair’s a mess, Josuke!” he cried. “How would you feel, huh?”
“Relax, you look fine.”
“Don’t show anybody!”
“I won’t, really. It’s not even turned on.”
“You’d better not!” Okuyasu huffed and laid back down, rubbing his forehead. “What a way to wake a guy up… What time is it, anyway?”
“About nine,” Josuke said, gazing through the viewfinder at the open window.
“You got that thing with Jotaro-san today, right?”
“Later, yeah. You could probably come with.”
“Maybe,” Okuyasu yawned.
They were seated on the floor together in front of Okuyasu’s television, the one he’d lugged up the stairs into his bedroom at the first opportunity to claim it. Both boys hammered on the buttons on their game controllers, beating the living hell out of each other’s avatars on the tv screen. But inside, Josuke was punching himself. He’d kind of vaguely promised himself that he would try talking to Okuyasu about his feelings, and instead, he was wasting his time with his best friend playing games. If he could only think of something to say, some way to open up the conversation and break the ice...
“You ever look at porn?” Josuke asked casually, trying to do an impossible combo move. Oh my god! What the hell kind of question was that, dumbass? You tryin’ to get rejected just like that?!
Okuyasu shouldered him. “What?” More furious mashing of buttons. “Uh, I guess. Sometimes.”
“Like, what kind?” Stop stop stop please stop.
“Dude,” Josuke snorted, “what the hell is normal porn?”
“Just, you know, stuff for guys--You’re making fun of me!” Okuyasu pounded his thumb against the attack button so hard it stuck. “Shit, dammit, don’t attack.” Josuke knocked out his character while he was trying to fix his controller. “Josuke! I told you not to!” He turned, tackling his friend.
“Hey, watch the hair,” Josuke said coolly, turning his flushed face away.
“Don’t see why it matters,” Okuyasu grumbled, sitting back up. “What kinda porn I look at. It’s just pictures.”
“Yeah, I think so too.” Crisis averted.
A moment passed before either of them spoke again. “What kind do you look at?” Okuyasu looked at him, curiosity piqued. Josuke looked over at the tv screen, where the fighting game characters were hopping in place, waiting for someone to press start.
“Uh. I guess I used to look at magazines, but lately I just use my imagination…”
“What do you think about, then?” He sounded so genuinely curious.
Josuke tapped the start button. “FIGHT!” the announcer yelled, and Okuyasu began smashing his thumb against the buttons again until he had knocked Josuke’s character out.
“So, what do you think about?” Okuyasu pressed, setting his controller down.
“Dude, you’re still on that?” Josuke laughed, nervous. He’d opened this pandora’s box himself, but that didn’t mean he had been ready to deal with what was inside of it.
“You brought it up,” Okuyasu said, unplugging Josuke’s controller to keep him from starting another round.
“You really wanna know that bad? What I fantasize about?” Hypocritical of him to get defensive, but he had his pride on the line! Not to mention his relationship with his friend.
“Yeah,” Okuyasu said, eyes serious.
“I, uh… I guess just. Lately I think about doing stuff on camera--dude, don’t look at me.”
“Oh,” Okuyasu said, tilting his head. “That why you brought that camera?”
“No! I told you, I wanna get video of everyone.”
Okuyasu was silent, picking at a hangnail. “I mean, I kinda want to,” Josuke admitted, scratching the back of his head.
“Make a video. A porno.”
“Yeah. I’m pretty strapped for cash, and I wanna get this new coat… I figure, I could sell some tapes and make a little money.” That wasn’t a lie. He’d considered it for a split second, making some cheap tapes for money. But that wasn’t what he wanted, really. He wanted the footage for himself, to watch on his VCR back at the dorm.
“Wait, you can just sell your own porn?” Okuyasu’s eyes lit up. “Seriously? So, if we made a porno, we could just rake in the cash?”
A nervous laugh. “I dunno about that, but we might make a little profit.”
“Does your camera work?”
“Dude, you’re getting pretty excited over nothing.”
“Yeah, but…” Okuyasu trailed off, looking away. “I really want to join you at school as soon as possible, so…”
God, he was so cute!
“I guess we’re both pretty desperate for money, if we’d even consider it, right?” Josuke laughed, eyes closed to avoid looking at him. “Anyway, it was just kind of a funny fantasy I had, so… don’t think too hard about it.”
“If you wanna do it, I wouldn’t say no,” Okuyasu said softly. Josuke froze. He’d brought the topic up, he was the one who’d been fantasizing about Oku and all this stuff, he was the one who’d brought the camera, and now that Okuyasu wanted to try, he was scared.
“Nevermind,” Okuyasu stood, kicking at the floor. “I said something weird.”
“Okuyasu,” Josuke called out to him, as he headed for the hallway. “I wanna do it too, just… I don’t want to pressure you into anything.”
“I said I’d do it, right? So let’s do it.”
Seriously? Was it that easy?
Josuke nodded, and got his camera. He set it on Okuyasu’s dresser, pointed at the bed, and shucked his shirt off. Okuyasu mirrored him, tossing his t-shirt on the floor and hesitantly unbuttoning his jeans.
“You sure?” Josuke asked, and Okuyasu yanked his pants down.
They both sat on the bed, knees not quite touching, and waited for the other to make a move. Nothing happened. Josuke’s stomach was in knots. This was what he’d wanted all along, but...
“...I feel like we’re not doing this right,” he sighed, putting his face in his hands.
“What are we supposed to do?” Okuyasu asked.
“Uh, I guess, when you watch adult videos, there’s usually some kind of plot or gimmick, right? Like, um… They’re in a bathhouse, or there’s a delivery, but someone’s naked…” Josuke sighed. “I don’t know. But I think I know someone who does.”
“What? How they make what?!” Koichi yelled into the receiver, then covered his mouth. His family was nearby, and they had turned to look at his outburst.
“How do they make porn?” Okuyasu repeated loudly into the phone. “Like, is it all ad libbed?”
“There’s a script, right?” Josuke asked. He held the phone up between his and Okuyasu’s ears, listening to Koichi’s exasperated groan.
“Guys, really, I’m on vacation with my family…”
“Just tell us how porn gets made!”
“Why would I know that?” Koichi hissed. “I don’t even watch porn!”
“Oh, look at Koichi, lying to his best friends.”
“I’m not lying--I don’t like it! If you wanna know how it’s made, ask… ask someone else! Just not me!” Koichi slammed the phone down on the receiver, and a loud ding rang in the other two boys’ ears.
“Man, he’s in no mood,” Josuke sighed, hanging up the phone. It was morning. They had decided to ask Koichi for some advice, but he was proving useless.
“We could ask Rohan-sensei,” Okuyasu said. “He knows lots of stuff.”
“He’s not gonna help us,” Josuke sighed.
“This is Kishibe. What? ...Who is this? ...Listen, you insolent little snot-nosed brat, if I find out who you are--”
“Okuyasu, you’re pissing him off.”
“ Josuke. Why are you calling me asking about that? ”
“Research paper,” Okuyasu lied effortlessly. “He’s writing about it.”
“I’m not going to explain adult films to you two. Why don’t you idiots try using the internet for once in your lives?”
“What the hell is he talking about?” Okuyasu asked, once Rohan had slammed the phone down on them as well.
“I mean, I have a computer at home, but I don’t know if we have internet,” Josuke said.
“Would the library?”
“Maybe… We should probably try my place first. I don’t really want to look up this kind of stuff in public.”
The two of them headed over to Josuke’s house. “I’m home!” Josuke called as he removed his shoes. “Mom, we got internet?”
“What do you need the internet for?” Jotaro asked, as the boys passed by the living room doorway. Josuke nearly jumped out of his skin.
“Uh, research paper,” came the lie from Okuyasu once more.
“Whales.” He’d literally picked the worst possible answer.
Jotaro straightened up. “Ask me anything.”
“...Not that kind of whale,” Josuke said, watching as his nephew immediately lost all interest.
“I’m not going to pay for a service we don’t use,” Tomoko called from the living room. “Doesn’t Koichi-kun’s family have dial-up?”
“They’re out of town,” Josuke sighed.
“Well, then go to the library,” Tomoko said, looking over the back of the couch at them. “Or read a book. I’m sure there are plenty of books about whales there.”
“You’re sure it’s not that kind of whale,” Jotaro said, eyeing them strangely.
“...It’s not,” Josuke said, elbowing Okuyasu in the ribs.
He sighed. “I suppose you could use my computer to look it up.”
“Really?!” Okuyasu cheered.
“Just don’t go looking up anything weird,” Jotaro warned, as Tomoko stepped out to herd them into the living room for tea.
Later, the three of them crowded around Jotaro’s laptop computer while he booted it up. He clicked on the Internet Explorer icon, bringing up Yahoo.co.jp for them.
“Well, go ahead,” he said, standing and letting Josuke take his place in front of the computer.
“Thanks,” Josuke said, waiting for his nephew to leave the room and let him get to searching. But Jotaro just stood there, watching the screen.
“Hey, Jotaro-san! I saw a dolphin down at the beach the other day!” Okuyasu said, trying earnestly to distract him.
“Uh-huh,” Jotaro said, still watching the search bar.
“So I was like, “hey dolphin, water you doing here?”” A long silence followed. Jotaro sighed.
“Josuke, are you going to type anything?”
“I’m thinking about it,” Josuke said.
“S-so this hermit crab walked into a bar… A sandbar!” Okuyasu beamed at him.
“Stop that.” Jotaro looked at the search bar again and sighed. “Josuke, if you don’t know how to type--”
“I know, I know,” Josuke said with a scowl, wiggling his fingertips over the keyboard. He just couldn’t search that sort of thing in front of Jotaro-san! “Maybe we should just go to the library,” he murmured.
“Yeah,” Okuyasu sighed.
“What’s the problem?” Jotaro asked, leaning over him to type into the search bar. “There. Whales.”
“Ah, right, whales…” Josuke sighed, scrolling through the results. There were so many research papers. “Right, this is all I need, so…” He moved to stand, but Jotaro pushed him back into the seat.
“You can write your paper on my laptop. I don’t mind.”
“Ahaha… Thanks so much…”
Two hours and one shoddily written research paper later, Okuyasu and Josuke returned to the Nijimura house in utter defeat. Josuke tossed his paper on the floor (Jotaro had graded several drafts for him before declaring it worthy of a C-) and all but collapsed on Okuyasu’s bed.
“Oi, Josuke! I feel like I learned a lot today,” Okuyasu said, sitting down beside him.
“Is that so.” Josuke glanced back at him. “We didn’t learn anything of value, though.”
“No, but we got to hang out, so that’s good.”
“Yeah, but…” But they hadn’t figured anything out. They were back at square one. He sighed. “You gotta work tomorrow?”
“Yeah, first thing in the morning.”
“I’ll go home tonight, then.”
“Aww, but…” Okuyasu pouted. “I don’t wanna miss out on spending time with you.”
“J-jeez, Okuyasu, you say stuff like that and…” Josuke trailed off, scratching his cheek.
And I’m gonna fall for you even more.
“Nothing,” Josuke sighed. “You wanna play a game?”
“We should do something else.” Okuyasu stood, pacing across the room to the window.
“Wanna go bother Rohan?”
“No…” Okuyasu glanced at the dresser, where the camera still sat. Josuke followed his gaze. The room was silent, other than the sound of the rattling fan blowing air at them.
“So, do you want to…”
“We could try,” Okuyasu said quickly. “I mean, I told you, I feel like I learned a lot today, so…”
Josuke stood, staring him down. Neither of them moved forward.
“I want to do it too,” Josuke said, mouth dry. Okuyasu swallowed, summoning The Hand and swiping at the distance between them.
They grabbed at each other, hands tangling in clothes and swiping over skin. Their lips came together hard, their teeth clacked awkwardly at first contact, and then their tongues were touching, sliding over each other, sweet like the treats they’d had at Josuke’s house. Josuke grabbed onto Okuyasu’s shirt, dragging him away from the window and towards the bed, pulling him down on top of him.
Okuyasu broke the kiss, breathing hard. His face was flushed, hair in disarray. “Josuke, I gotta admit… I don’t know how to do this kind of thing.”
“You don’t gotta know anything,” Josuke breathed, pulling him down to kiss his face some more. “Just follow my lead.”
Okuyasu nodded, and Crazy Diamond appeared behind him, grabbing him under his armpits to toss him down on the mattress. Josuke climbed atop him, tossing off his tank top and straddling his best friend’s hips, pressing down against him. Okuyasu stared up at him, nervous but excited.
There was no turning back from this, Josuke knew. He slipped his hand into Okuyasu’s pants, taking his friend’s half-hard prick into his fist and pumping evenly.
“Josuke…” Okuyasu reached for him, grabbing his shoulders to pull him into another kiss. Josuke popped the buttons on both of their jeans, bringing out both their cocks in turn and rubbing them together as gently as a kiss.
“Oh, fuck,” Okuyasu whispered, breaking the kiss to look down between them. Josuke captured his lips again, pressing kisses to his mouth and then nibbling at his bottom lip.
He rubbed their dicks together until his hand was wet with precum, and then sat up, breaking contact. “Josuke?” Okuyasu asked, sitting up in confusion.
“I’ve always wanted to try this,” Josuke admitted, crouching in front of Okuyasu. He licked up the underside of his erection, parting his lips as he reached the tip to take it into his mouth.
“Oh, Josuke, f-fuck.” Okuyasu groaned, falling back against his bed. He thrust his hips as Josuke licked and sucked his way back down, keening into his hand clamped over his mouth.
Josuke licked over the tip again, tonguing at the hole from which precum leaked freely. His friend gasped and panted, clutching at the sheets beneath him, and Josuke finally took a good look at him. Okuyasu was sweaty and red, hair hanging in his face. His chest rose and fell shakily, shirt pushed up past his abs, twitching and jumping even without any touch. Josuke kissed the head of his cock, savoring the salty taste of his precum, and then took him back into his mouth, bobbing his head. His hand snuck down to his own neglected erection, dripping on his pants and Okuyasu’s sheets, pumping hard.
Okuyasu moaned loudly, reaching for Josuke and pushing a hand into his hair. Watch it, Josuke thought, but he was too hot to stop or say anything. If his hair was collateral damage for getting to suck Okuyasu off, then so be it.
“J, nn… Josuke!” Okuyasu cried, tangling his fingers in Josuke’s ruined pompadour. His back arched off the bed as he came, filling Josuke’s mouth with his cum. He laid back, breathing hard, as Josuke wiped his mouth and pumped himself to completion. For a few minutes afterwards, they lay on Okuyasu’s bed, catching their breath and processing what they’d done.
“Bro, I’m sorry about--oh fuck, your hair! Josuke!”
“It’s fine,” Josuke said, sitting up.
“Did you swallow that?” Okuyasu wrinkled his nose. “Doesn’t it taste bad?”
Not if it’s you.
“It’s fine,” Josuke said. “I guess if you’re picky, you wouldn’t like it.”
“Hey, I’m not picky. And… I would try it. Sometime. Yours, I mean, not mine.”
Josuke’s heart soared. “Oh, I mean, if you wanted to…”
“Yeah! Let’s do it!” Okuyasu lunged for him, but Josuke held him off.
“Maybe another time. I’m kind of spent.”
“Did we get that on tape?” Okuyasu asked, eyes following Josuke as he stood and crossed the room. Josuke stopped by the dresser and looked the video camera over.
“It wasn’t on.”
“What? Oh man, seriously?! How are we gonna sell porn if we forget to turn the camera on!”
Josuke smiled, shaking his head. “Guess we just gotta remember next time.” Truth be told, he hadn’t wanted the camera on for that. That first contact was just for him.
“Yeah, I guess…” Okuyasu pouted, crossing his arms. “Hey, you gonna stay over tonight?”
“I think I gotta go home, or the old bag’s gonna kill me.”
“Be nice to your mom,” Okuyasu said seriously.
“You sound like the old man.” Josuke sighed. He needed time to process things.
“Can you come back over tomorrow?” Okuyasu watched him gather his things, stuffing his clothes back into his bag. “I get off at five, so…”
“Sure. I can probably make it.”
“Oi, Josuke… You’re okay, right?”
“Dude, of course I’m okay. I’m fine. I’m just tired.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow after five, alright?”
“Okay.” Okuyasu grinned at him. “Next time, let’s turn the camera on. We gotta get that money somehow.”
He saw Josuke to the door, and waved him off. As Josuke sauntered off down the street towards home, Okuyasu swung the door closed and sank against it, heart pounding.
Somehow, he got the feeling that he’d done something wrong.
“Gnnaaaah,” his father called from down the hall, peeking around the corner. Okuyas stood, running a shaky hand through his ruined hairdo, and headed for the kitchen to cook dinner.
“C’mon, dad. I’ll make us something tasty.”
Truth be told, he had really liked Josuke, ever since they’d met. He’d never considered saying anything--after all, Josuke was a popular guy. Who knew what he’d say to another guy confessing his feelings to him--but now that they had done that he wasn’t sure that keeping it to himself was an option.
Josuke had seemed so cold afterwards, though… Had he regretted doing it with someone like Okuyasu? Come to think of it, Josuke had been hesitant to even tell him about his fantasy. Was it because he was a guy? Or because he wasn’t handsome, or good enough? Did he like someone else? But who?
“Gaaah,” his dad called, tugging on his jeans. Okuyasu wiped his eyes and shook his head.
“Yeah, gimme a minute. You want katsu?”
“Okay. I’ll make katsu.”