In Love and On Fire chapter 7

Chapter 7

“Ha! Oh my god… You really have terrible luck,” Niimori said sitting on the sofa next to me in the lifeless waiting room. He put his hand up to his mouth, but kept right on laughing.

It was the first time I’d ever seen him laugh like that. After the ridiculously long journey I’d taken to get back to the hospital, though, I couldn’t be genuinely happy about it, even if he was finally smiling without any hatred.

“It’s nothing to laugh at.”

The cops had showed up fast enough, since there was a neighborhood box right in front of the station, but it had taken plenty of time to unravel the misunderstanding.

The older woman had reported it as an abduction, and I had picked the scrawny boy up so he wouldn’t get free and end up lost again, so it had probably all looked more than a little suspicious.

I’d explained to the police that I was an off-duty firefighter who was just keeping track of a lost child, but I heard people in the crowd whispering to each other – “Abducted by a firefighter?” “Woah, scary?” – and I started to feel like crying myself.

“This is the first time anybody’s tried to tell me they were keeping track of a lost child when they got reported.”

The cops were just being cops. If I’d said we were relatives, they’d have probably filed the whole thing under M for Misunderstanding and released me, but as it was, they didn’t believe a word I said, and so I ended up being taken back to the station, where I had to tell the whole story again from the beginning.

The boy, having been dragged around by some random guy, still without his mother, and now surrounded by a bunch of adults he didn’t know at a police station, panicked and wouldn’t answer any questions, even as to what his name was. He just cried the entire time.

After I said I was a firefighter, they asked around at the station and finally believed me, but I figured I’d better have some explanation for the station chief when I went into work the next day as to why the police were asking after me. I was afraid I’d just get laughed at.

One reason it’d taken so long was that I couldn’t reach Niimori or the pregnant lady, who would have been able to confirm for the police that I wasn’t trying to abduct anyone. Niimori apparently had his own problems – they’d had trouble finding a hospital that would agree to take the woman.

I was so deeply relieved when I finally did get a call through. I was even more relieved to see Niimori’s composed face than I was to get to the hospital with the kid and the cops in tow, more than I was to see that the pregnant lady was safe.

But when my heartless colleague saw the cops coming along next to me, he broke into an unrestrained smile.

“We should have traded jobs. If you’d have been there, that kid wouldn’t have cried a drop.”

“It’s because you look like such a bad guy.”

I knew that well enough kids only treated me like a hero when I was wearing my firefighting gear. The evacuation training at the nursery where they’d gone to have fun had turned dark that one day.

“Well, mom and son are both safe, so that’s good enough, huh.”

The dad, too, had come running a few minutes back, and had knelt down and put his head on the ground, thanking us for watching out for his lost child, and for calling an ambulance, and for coming all the way to the hospital with them. The kid stared out at me from his father’s shadow, his eyes full of distrust. “So you’re not a kidnapper,” he said, but didn’t seem convinced.

There was no point in our being at the hospital anymore, but I was utterly exhausted, so I’d just sunk onto the sofa.

“You must have been making good buddies with the paramedics, while I was being mobbed by cops and getting investigated.”

“It’s not like we had a lot of free time. Although I did have a nice chat with the nurse while I was waiting for you to get here.”

It was an unexpected answer to my half-joking complaint, and I instinctually turned to Niimori, sitting next to me.

“The nurse was a lady?”

“A guy,” Niimori answered precisely. I started to feel relieved, and then remembered that Niimori was gay.

I’d put myself on a pedestal and forgotten all about everything else. As far as I could tell from the pro-wrestler type, the hurdle to convincing Niimori to like someone was strangely low. And once he finished breaking up with someone, he found another partner pretty quickly.

And taking into account the fact that he’d attacked me even though we didn’t get along at all, his sexual appetite was apparently stronger than his rationality.

“What are you so irritated about?”

“Hm? Just making myself depressed. I didn’t have those kind of rights to you in the first place.”

“Today you do. We’re in the middle of a date, after all.”

Which one was the nurse? The guy who’d been standing next to the bed? As I fumbled through my memories with a grim expression, Niimori slowly stood up. We’d only be in the way if we stayed in the hospital much longer, anyway.

I lifted my heavy hips off the sofa, too. “You know how late the aquarium’s open?” Niimori asked.

I looked at my watch – they closed in an hour.

Factoring in travel time, we’d probably get there and be chased right out again. They had longer hours on weekends and holidays, I remembered bitterly – our duty schedules didn’t work very well with society’s calendar.

“Where were you thinking of for tonight?”

Since I had no idea how long I’d get to spend with Niimori, I hadn’t planned anything for dinner. I figured we’d stop in somewhere inside the aquarium, but it would have been chosen solely on the fact that it wasn’t far to travel, so I really didn’t care where it was – as long as we moved on from this place.

“You mind if I choose?”

I’d done nothing but mess things up, so I nodded, thinking it probably was best to leave it up to Niimori.

He hailed a taxi as we left the hospital.

We went through I don’t know how many lights, and I started to think we were going awfully far, as I stared out the window.

I wondered if we should have gone back for the car, if we were going to go this far, but we would have had to look for a parking spot again – that would have just been annoying.

I hardly ever came into Tokyo, normally. There was plenty available locally for my daily errands, and when I hung out with my guy friends, we usually went to the beach or the mountains, so I only went into the capital for personal stuff a few times a year. I realized again how many tall buildings there were here.

“Ladder’s not gonna reach, at that height,” I said.

“They’re fire proofed, even if one section goes up, the fire’s not going to spread.”

“Yeah, I know, but what if somebody gets left on one of those decks? If there’s fire in that room, you’ll have to drop a rope from the roof. And the winds must be strong at that height.”

We’d gone through different hypotheticals in training, so I’d gotten in the habit of imagining worst-case scenarios.

In the case of the tall buildings I was looking at, the worst case would be someone left out on one of those decks – each one of them separated from the others by design.

“That’s heavy rescue’s job.” Niimori turned his gaze from those tall buildings to look at me. “I heard you’re not applying for heavy rescue,” he said.

Having it pointed out made me feel kind of bitter.

I’d longed for that orange uniform. When I was a kid, I’d seen a squad of guys in orange jumpsuits descend on ropes from a helicopter at an exhibition event we’d gone to – they looked amazing! The other kids were transfixed by the firemen and the helicopter, but I was obsessed with the guys in the orange jumpsuits, and I had apparently hit them with such a barrage of questions that my parents had scolded me.

I didn’t remember that part too well, but the feeling stayed with me, and grew so large that I eventually chose to become a firefighter.

“Take it,” Niimori said. “It’s you, you’ll pass.”

“What about you?”

“I’m on command center duty.”

“You’re awful young to be in the command center. Did you really ask for that yourself, to be given that assignment?”

The scene of that accident I couldn’t forget flashed back up on my retinas. The decision to leave him there and escape had been the right one, hadn’t it, given the circumstances?

The other squad had come running, and they’d rescued him – he was sitting beside me right now. But that was all in hindsight. If the other squad had gotten there even a few minutes later, he might have been surrounded by those flames, he might have died.

Was it because he remembered being abandoned that Niimori was keeping himself off the line? That thought was constantly stuck in my chest. It wasn’t what I wanted to talk about on a date, but I didn’t get many opportunities to have a calm conversation with Niimori. If I didn’t ask now, who knew when I’d be able to ask again.

“Really, if I wasn’t there, you’d come back?” I asked, remembering what he’d said at the bar the other day.

“That was just… It was just a joke. Besides, you can’t leave anyway. There’s no reason for a guy who runs simulations even on his day off to quit just because of me,” Niimori said, suddenly smiling.

“You’re working on your day off, too, aren’t you,” I answered.

I didn’t want to be told off by a guy who was pulling crap like showing up at the scene of a fire looking for an arsonist.

In the end, I was just starting to ask him what his goal was with that arsonist, when the taxi stopped in front of a familiar-looking sign.

“Here?”

“You wanna complain?”

Niimori had taken me to a simple family restaurant. It was one of those nationwide chains with local branches, so why we’d taken a taxi specifically all the way out here I didn’t know, but Niimori was heading in without me.

I ordered a hamburger, feeling hollow, and wondering if he’d hated our lunchtime expensive, ladies-only outing this much.

It was true that we could get a meal here without any fuss, but it felt more like a meal with a colleague than anything you might call a date. That was probably Niimori’s intention to start with, but still.

The dinner hour was approaching, but the place was still conspicuously empty. After we finished eating, the only thing left was to go home.

Tsuno had warned me not to get greedy, so I hadn’t planned on anything after that.

I lapsed into silence and stared at him as the meal continued. The way he ate was as tidy and as elegant as anything else he’d ever done.

As I watched him, past events suddenly stole across my mind.

“Everything I do is pointless, but you never do anything unless it has a purpose.”

“What’re you talking about?”

“When you eat at work, you’re usually so tidy about it. I mean, there must have been times when you were starving, but. I’ve always wondered what was up with that, but I figured there must be a reason, so I never asked.”

Maybe Niimori had never noticed it himself, but his chopsticks froze and he seemed to want to hear more.

“And you used to be the first one in bed in the dorms, you barely even got in the bath. I always thought it was weird, but one night I figured it out. One time they called us up like ten times on campus. The squads that didn’t gather quickly enough had to do push-ups as a penalty. Then when we got back to the dorms and got to sleep, they’d call us up again, sometimes after like ten minutes, sometimes after a few hours.”

We’d been made to abuse our muscles right up to their limit that day, and then that night we kept getting called up like that.

I’d heard from some friends on the Self Defense Force that being woken up repeatedly during sleeping hours was apparently a torture technique. It certainly was harsh, both mentally and physically. By the time the last call was finished, the sun was already rising. Niimori had looked a little sleepy, but he’d been the only man who stayed alert to the end.

“You knew it, didn’t you, that there was going to be surprise call-up training that night?”

I had asked him the same thing back then, too, even if I hadn’t really recognized what was going on, but this time he answered frankly. “I heard some of the instructors knocking the idea around. But if I’d told you guys, you would have given the whole thing away. If they’d learned a trainee had gotten wind of it, they would’ve been forced to change their plans.”

“You hateful jerk.”

“If that’s what you think, what are you doing running around all day with me, eating meals with me?”

“Well that’s… I mean, just because you’re hateful… Doesn’t mean I can’t like you, does it?”

There hadn’t even been that much resistance to saying it. Strangely, I hadn’t felt any uneasiness or embarrassment. It was more like when a ball spins around the rim, falling faster and faster until finally it falls right through the net.

Niimori scowled. “That’s exactly why you–” he started, as if he was trying again to deny my feelings.

“I understand what you’re trying to say,” I stopped him. “Let’s just leave it for now. Why this restaurant?”

“Why?”

“There must have been a reason. Why else would we have specifically come all the way out here?”

Niimori gave a short, aggrieved sigh. “I used to come here a lot with my dad,” he said.

“Harikawa told me, that he died on the line.”

Niimori blinked in surprise. “He was trying to rescue a serial arsonist,” he muttered. “The guy knew he was a suspect, and his plan was to commit suicide by fire. He’d set a blaze in this one house and shut himself up in one of the rooms, but then he got scared and put in a call for help.”

Niimori spat out the words all in one stream. He tone was disinterested, but he wasn’t even trying to meet my eyes. His gaze was lowered, like he detested the idea that someone might find out what was going on in his heart.

“It was a wood-frame building, and he’d poured kerosene all over it. The guy was an arsonist, but he was a victim, too. So my father leapt into the flames to save him. He died three days later.”

I couldn’t hear any hatred in his tone, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t feeling anything.

“You’re not thinking this arsonist is the same one, right? I mean, you can’t be trying to mete out some kind of punishment,” I asked, with a terrible premonition.

“Indeed,” Niimori muttered, and went back to his meal. “I just don’t want to end up dead on the line like my father. And anyway, if I find anyone in need of rescue, I happen to know someone else who’ll rush in headlong, even if he is a bit of a cock-up.”

I met Niimori’s weighted gaze. “You’re the one who rushes into things,” I replied.

Niimori didn’t reply. Maybe he remembered that this very date was compensation for my tacit compliance in his rushing into something.

When we finished the meal, Niimori asked, “You want to have a drink before we head home?” He’d never invited me out for a drink before.

“I’d love to. Although, I drove, I shouldn’t have anything alcoholic.”

“You could spend the night,” Niimori said, like it was totally natural.

Was it– I mean, was it that kind of invitation? I stared at Niimori’s face.

He turned around and started walking towards the shopping district without a further word.

He’d said he used to go to that restaurant a lot when he was a kid, he probably knew the area.

I followed him as he pushed his way unerringly through the crowds – I nearly lost him.

If I was a woman, we probably would’ve held hands, but we were two guys, we had to leave it alone. I wouldn’t have minded, honestly, but Niimori probably would have. We’d finally managed to make some progress, I didn’t want to ruin the mood now.

“Adachi.” I’d taken a wrong turn, but he called to me.

When I caught up to where he’d stopped, we were in front of a midrise building in a back street.

The lower floors were offices for some company, but the top floor seemed to have been turned into a bar.

There weren’t that many people coming and going around this building. It didn’t look like much of a popular place, but I wasn’t hung up about stuff like that, so I quietly followed Niimori into the elevator.

The instant the doors opened, though, I got confused. There was something strange about the atmosphere in that dim interior.

For one thing, there was a reception desk right at the entrance.

Niimori took out the membership card I’d found in his room the other day, and paid for the both of us at the desk.

I’d thought it might be a ladies bar, but there were few women in the over-decorated interior.

It was gloomy and deserted, and there were roller blinds that dropped down from the ceiling like room dividers, so I couldn’t even see the entire place. There were candles set out around the room, and I was wondering if they might set the blinds on fire as Niimori was ordering a drink at the bar, one step ahead of me.

“You come to this place a lot?”

“Only on men’s night.”

A bar that offered a discount to men was weird. I guessed that the fact that we’d come here specifically probably meant that tonight was men’s night, watching the glass with a Melon Ball in it that Niimori accepted from the barman.

He’d said it was okay for me to stay over, but I wasn’t looking to get drunk again, so I selected something non-alcoholic from the menu. The barman poured oolong tea from a plastic bottle like you’d buy at the convenience store into a glass right in front of me.

As far as I could tell, there weren’t any employees except at the counter and at reception.

One of them went around to the tables to collect ashtrays and empty glasses, but no one took orders from the customers who were sitting on a sofa in the corner, and no one was even attempting to talk to us as we drank at the bar.

“Isn’t that a bit much?” I asked Niimori. Maybe he really was parched, but he was already finishing his third glass.

“I won’t trouble you like I did the other day,” he said, his ears turning a little red. He ordered his fourth drink.

He wasn’t terrible with alcohol but he wasn’t exactly great with it either. If he got drunk and fell asleep, and I had to carry him all the way back to the car, that would be a royal pain.

— Well, maybe a hotel would be better at that point.

My thoughts were just reaching those lines when I realized my own face was turning red. Just because you’d been invited to a hotel didn’t mean it was okay to lay your hands on a person. Even Tsuno had told me not to be greedy, so even if we did end up staying somewhere just for the night, maybe it was best to comport myself like a gentleman. But with Niimori in this mood, I had a hunch that if we did stay at a hotel and I didn’t lay my hands on him, I wouldn’t be invited again.

I’d only just graduated from virginity, so it was hard to judge these things. Calm observation was what was called for here.

It was a good thing I wasn’t having anything to drink after all, I thought, as Niimori ordered a Fireman’s Sour next to me.

The maraschino stuck on it’s gold tooth pick looked incredibly delicious.

Some rude thoughts were running through my head – how I’d like to watch his mouth while he ate that cherry – when Niimori noticed my stare.

“Go have a seat on the sofa,” he said, looking right at me. “I’ll be over once I finish this.”

What’s wrong with the two of us going over together, I thought, but arguing about something like that seemed dumb, so I took a seat as directed on the sofa along the wall. Thanks to the blinds, I could only see bits and pieces of Niimori.

I felt like I couldn’t get comfortable. To be invited to a hotel right after confessing, I had to believe there was some hope, but I chided myself that it didn’t exactly mean he’d accepted me.

I had no intention of demanding that Niimori feel the same about me. I’d only just realized my own feelings.

So I was thinking we should meet halfway, carefully, as gradually as we could, but suddenly a man and woman sat down on the sofa across from me without even asking. When our eyes met, I realized they were the ones I’d seen on the sofa earlier.

There were other seats empty, and I had no idea why they were sharing my table. I just stared at them.

The man was younger, but the woman was older, and wearing clothes that exposed rather a lot.

I’d finally gotten him on a date, and I didn’t want to be interrupted. When I moved to pick up my glass, the man buried his face in the woman’s neck, and slipped his hand into her largely already-exposed cleavage.

“Hm?”

I unconsciously started to get hard, seeing things starting right there in front of me, and the woman opened her legs like she was on display.

Her underpants – redder than the maraschino cherry I’d been looking at a minute ago – flashed into view, and I stood up from the sofa in a rush.

After I’d gotten away, I realized I’d left my glass, but I wasn’t about to go back and get it.

“Niimori…” I started to say that something was weird here, when I realized there was a half-naked woman on one of the other sofas.

“I– What–”

I mean, what the hell? I was so surprised I couldn’t form the words. The barman smiled at Niimori. “Did you explain any of this to your friend?” he asked.

“If I’d’ve explained, he wouldn’t’ve come.”

“That’s no good, and you know it. Your friend’s pretty shocked. And we do have rules, like explaining things to people on their first visit.”

I’d thought this place was just a little odd and hadn’t really looked around, but now that I did, everyone in here was engaged in various inappropriate acts.

“Is this normal?” I asked, leaving every other question aside for the moment. The barman answered instead of Niimori. “We provide a place for people to meet each other. After that, people are free to do whatever they please,” he said.

He said it like it was nothing, and I was just stiffening in surprise when a new customer came into the place. Two customers, actually, women. They didn’t seem bothered by the spectacle inside, there was no reason to think they’d ended up here by mistake.

“Why don’t you go talk to them?” the barman said. “If you don’t move fast, some other guy’ll pick them up.”

The ladies called him and he went over to take their orders.

“You sure you don’t wanna go?” Niimori asked, looking at his drink instead of me. There was more than half his drink left in his glass.

In the dim interior, I couldn’t quite tell if Niimori’s face had changed color or not.

“Why did you take me to a place like this?” I asked, not bothering to conceal my displeasure. I’d been feeling so good until a few minutes ago – all by myself, apparently. I felt like an idiot.

“The service is pretty good here, what’re you all pissy about? You can pick up an amateur in a place like this, you know. This is the first time I’ve ever been here when there are ladies, but they seem pretty young. ‘Course, there are probably some more experienced ones, too, I guess.”

I finally understood what Niimori had meant when he’d mentioned men’s night earlier, and suddenly the life went out of me.

“Aren’t you gonna catch something strange, picking up people in a place like this?”

“You’re only picking ’em up for one night. Long as they’re not sick, anybody’ll do. You did it, too, anybody would’ve done in that moment, right?”

So when he’d said I could spend the night, he hadn’t meant he and I could stay together, he’d meant I should spend it with someone else? As the realization came over me, the last of those stupidly exultant feelings I’d had just a little bit ago withered away.

“Trying to find a woman for the guy who says he likes you? You are the worst. This is evil, even for you.”

“Yeah I know it. If you’re finally seeing it, stop straying already.”

Niimori turned his back to the counter and stared out into the interior of the bar without even glancing at me.

The lighting was so low in there, it was incredibly dark. But I could see how red his lips were, and without really knowing what I was doing, I put my hands on them. He immediately pushed me away, but I grabbed his arms and forced my lips on his.

“–What the?”

“Isn’t this the kind of place this is?” I said, my voice angrier than I’d expected. Stop playing around, I thought, sticking my hand in his clothes. I felt him jump in surprise, my other hand still on his arm. He was frightened, I realized, and a brutal feeling welled up inside of me.

Somehow I felt like I could understand those jerks who felt like they wanted to do something harsh to Niimori. Although, I didn’t think I’d be able to get him to sleep with me again if I did something harsh.

“It pisses me off when you pull shit like this. But the idea of you getting molested by some rando in this damn place pisses me off even more. I think about you forty-six hours a day, and I’m getting jealous of guys I’ve never even laid eyes on. Even right now I’m busy trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do so you never come to a place like this again.”

I knew a love relationship between Niimori and me wasn’t going to happen after all, but I couldn’t give up. “You’ve never recognized my feelings, but I still like you,” I said, confessing what had been on my mind.

Niimori’s face was at point-blank range. His eyes flickered in surprise.

I’d finally managed to convey a little piece of what I felt.

“If you want to test me, go ahead, test whether I like you. But you have to allow my liking you to be an option.”

Just as I leaned in to touch him, Niimori escaped from my grip. “Stop it,” he said.

He made double time towards the exit, and I followed. I chased him into the elevator, and pushed him into the wall. His face was red, but I didn’t know if that was because of the alcohol or for some other reason.

I was definitely pissed, but I also definitely wanted to touch his skin. I obeyed that desire with my lips, reaching my hand out to push the
button for the second floor.

“Adachi– Let go–”

When the door opened, I dragged him out. He was still calling my name in that irritated tone, but I didn’t reply.

This floor was totally black, unlike the one we’d just been on. There were no signs of life, but someone had installed a nightlight, in case someone was drunk and got off on this floor by mistake, no doubt, so I pulled Niimori into the bathroom right next to it.

There must have been a motion sensor in there, because the lights turned on right as we entered.

“What the hell are you thinking about?”

I pulled him close to me, and it wasn’t as difficult as before. He hadn’t put up much resistance when I’d dragged him from the elevator either – it must have been the alcohol. If he’d been sober, he probably would have put up some seriously violent resistance.

“You,” I answered him.

I blocked his escape. When I put my hands back into his clothes, he resisted.

I put my knees in between his legs so he couldn’t kick me, and pressed myself into his body, touching his back. It was only my second time ever touching that smooth skin in this manner, but it felt so familiar. When I took my lips off him and snapped at his ear, Niimori moaned faintly.

“If you want to sleep with someone, go invite one of those ladies from before,” he said, cursing at me again.

“Not just anyone’ll do for me. But anybody’s okay for you, is that it? So choose me.”

Niimori chose nothing but terrible guys for his partners, but even he wouldn’t choose a guy who’d abandoned him once already, I thought, and buried my nose in his thin neck, feeling strangely masochistic.

“Mihaya.”

It was the first time I’d called his given name, and the body I was wrapped around shook violently.

“You’re the one for me,” I said. “I like you.”

I’ll keep saying it until he believes me. “I like you,” I repeated, tracing a line down his skin.

This empty floor didn’t have any air conditioning. It wasn’t that I didn’t feel any resistance to touching him in the bathroom of some random building, but my anger and my urges drove me forward.

I kissed him like I was going to bite him, and he grunted softly. Gently brushing his chest with the hand I’d slipped under his shirt, I pinched and pulled at the tips where my fingers touched, and they hardened. He opened his mouth to protest, but I closed my lips over his.

I was thinking he probably regretted drinking all that alcohol as I sucked on his tongue, which still tasted like the stuff, and I drew the tips of my fingers across his nipples. Even as they hardened, the unbidden sensation seemed like it could be easily crushed under my fingers. I remembered their pale color, even if I couldn’t see them now, under his shirt.

As I touched him, I realized he was damp with sweat. I drank in his saliva, the sucking sounds echoing off the walls, and when I ripped his belt loose, Niimori poured all his strength into gripping my arm – he seemed impatient.

I ignored the way his nails clawed me. When I touched him, starting at the top of his underpants, his hips rocked forward gently. I kissed him again, and just grazed his chest. I didn’t know if he’d just been struck by the atmosphere in the bar, or if maybe anyone really was okay as long as it was a guy, but the fact that he was getting hard in my arms fanned my flames.

“Adachi.”

When our lips separated, he called my name in a slurred tone.

His claws were still in my arm, but I lightly stroked him with my hand, and he arched backwards. A small, red hole opened up on his light pink glans.

When I brushed it with my finger, his adam’s apple bounced up and down. Without thinking, I glued myself to it. It tasted slightly of sweat.

I licked his skin in a trance, with his shaft still entwined in my fingers. I rubbed his urethra with the underside of my thumb.

He moaned a little. When I gently pinched his chest again, my fingers over his shirt this time, his breath caught, and his adam’s apple bobbed up and down again.

I touched around the base of his dick with my fingers, and held his testicles lightly in my hand. He moaned softly.

I’d brought that moan from the other day back to life in my head so many times. I have to remember everything I hear, I thought, starting right now, as if I’m only going to hear it once. I thought it with such gravity, and bit his ear so eagerly that it turned red.

It was the first time I’d ever bit someone’s ear. Just like he said, all my firsts were being chalked up to Niimori. I wanted some of his firsts, too, I thought, sliding my hand slowly from the base of his genitals to the tip. Thick pre-cum dripped onto my fingers.

“Hey, when was your first time?”

I could feel his testicles through his soft skin. I pressed with my fingers – not enough to hurt, but Niimori twisted in my arms.

I didn’t know the first thing about a woman’s body, but I understood a man’s body quite well. After I teased the sensitive tip of his dick like I was trying to irritate him, I removed my hand. I brought my lips close enough to him to touch, and gently breathed on his skin.

“How long have you been going to places like this?”

I reached around his taught ass with my fingers – those fingers felt like they were prone to do something violent.

When I slipped them into the elastic gap in his hot flesh, he spit his answer out in a voice that only grazed the consonants. “None of your business.”

“How many people have you slept with?”

What a girly question. I was jealous of the partners he’d had before I even met him. I couldn’t help it, but we weren’t even going out. I had no right to criticize Niimori for sleeping with anyone. I knew it, too, but I couldn’t stop myself from asking.

The truth was, I had no desire to know the answer, and I certainly didn’t expect a good answer, but I waited for one anyway.

“I– I don’t–”

I pressed my finger up into the hole. Maybe because there wasn’t any moisture, I wasn’t getting very far.

If it was a no-go with my finger, it would definitely be a no-go with the main event. I didn’t want to leave him with painful memories again. I knew I shouldn’t do anything else, that I should just let him go, but I wanted to be inside him again so bad I couldn’t take it. I turned him around, opened his legs, and pushed his body up against the wall.

“Adachi, stop…”

“You’d agree to have sex before you’d agree to a date, anyway, wouldn’t you?”

I pressed against his hips, and his body tensed. Maybe he thought I was going to take him from behind right then and there.

And maybe my eyes were just sore, but I spotted his shoulders shaking.

“Lick these.”

I put my fingers in Niimori’s mouth. He didn’t respond at first, but when I gently stroked the inside of his cheek with my finger, he tentatively twined his tongue around it. Maybe he’d decided doing as he was told was less awful than being split open.

I put my saliva-soaked finger above Niimori’s hole and then buried it inside.

My partner arched his back and spit a sigh out at the ceiling, but I ignored him and pressed my finger in firmly.

He’d been tight inside the first time, too, and his insides wriggled, trying to expel the foreign object. I ignored it, and when I buried myself deeper, I could feel the quaking of Niimori’s abdomen with my finger.

My throat screamed at the indecent movement. It was the first time I’d seen anything like it.

If I’d asked, “firsts” were probably things Niimori planned to snatch himself, not things he’d have snatched from him, but still.

He moaned, and then sighed again.

“It doesn’t hurt, does it?”

He was as tight as ever, even as I moved my finger, but the rim didn’t look to be torn.

Niimori had to have heard me, but he only heaved reckless breaths, and didn’t answer. Before I put another finger in, I opened his legs back up with my knees – he’d started to close them again.

“–Are you serious.”

He lost his balance and tried to catch himself, so I wrapped my hands around his hips to support his weight.

In that moment, the genitals I’d let go of brushed past my fingers. The pre-cum that had oozed out of him was getting his jeans dirty around his thighs, so I pulled them down to his knees, and his underpants, too.

“You’re gonna do it here?”

“You wanted to get banged in that bar back there?”

I got angry again just remembering it. If I’d put my hands on one of those other customers, Niimori’s plan would have succeeded, and he probably would have just disappeared without a word. Either that, or he would have waited until I was finished, just drinking at the bar the whole time. Both options seemed possible, and thinking about it pissed me off.

Niimori moaned and panted as I moved back and forth, opening my fingers inside him. When I tried to pull them out, still spread open, the rim widened.

He let out a deep wail.

I hadn’t realized, since I’d never stared at him from this angle before, but he had two small moles lined up like eyes just on the border between his waist and his ass. Whenever he twisted his hips, they moved just slightly.

It was incredibly hot. I had two fingers in him, and his insides still weren’t ready, but I buried a third finger in there anyway. The saliva had long since dried up, but the inside of him was looser than it had been at first.

“Why am I the one being done again?”

“Because I’m the one who wants you.”

Niimori hung his head, his hand up against the wall. When I looked up, I spotted his reddened cheeks in the mirror beside us. My face didn’t look too calm, either. Niimori didn’t seem to have noticed the reflection, and he was biting his lip. His fists – white from being clenched so tight – were pressed into the wall.

Even in that state, he didn’t cling to me. “Stop it,” he said again. I wanted to see if I could crush that pride in my own hands, to see if I could expose the inside of his heart, if I could get through that thick firewall.

But if I did that, I realized, Niimori wouldn’t be Niimori anymore. Although stopping now would be tough.

But then again, was it really okay to move forward, leaving it to my emotions like this? I took my fingers out and removed my hand from his hips.

Niimori lifted his head. Our eyes met in the mirror. Whether from lust or alcohol, his black eyes were moist, and showed agony his lower half was in.

“If,” I started. “If you really don’t like it, say so clearly, right now. If you tell me to, I’ll stop.”

Conversely, if you don’t, I won’t.

“If you recognize my feelings and deal with me honestly, I won’t do anything like this again. We’ll go back to being bickering coworkers, like we were before. I won’t touch you again,” I said, and Niimori scowled.

“Give me a break,” he muttered, with an expression like he was squashing unpleasant feelings, and bit his lip. “Saying that now’s a bit unfair,” he scolded me.

That was probably true. Niimori’s dick was straining, at its limit.

“Gotten the willies have you, you virgin.”

Niimori grinned, despite the fact that he’d been the one scared until a few seconds ago. I screamed against the inside of my chest, I’m not a virgin. You’re the one I lost it to, you oughta know it without having to be told.

“It’s alright already,” he half-muttered. “Hurry up, finish me off.”

It didn’t mean Niimori had finally accepted my confession, but he was allowing me to touch his body, and I couldn’t hang on any longer. ‘Wait’ had turned into ‘Yes,’ and I undid my belt and pulled my zipper down. I slid my underpants down and took out my erect penis.

Niimori turned to look over his shoulder. That gaze, the angle of his neck, in that moment, it just made me hotter.

I grabbed his ass with both hands and spread his cheeks, slowly touching myself to the rim of his reddened hole, so I didn’t tear him.

It was tight, since there was no moisture, so I spread his hole with my finger and pushed in a little at a time.

It was so tight it hurt, and my palms were instantly slippery with sweat. But at the same time, I was so turned on I could hear the pulsing of blood vessels in my temples.

“–Not, so slow– It hurts–”

Niimori moaned as I buried myself in him.

But every time I pushed deeper, his hips slid up, like he was trying to run away. If I had just thrust in all at once, it probably would have hurt even more. I kissed his cheek and his ear trying to soothe him, consoling his penis with my hand.

“Here, move yourself.”

I dropped my hips so I was a little below him. But Niimori didn’t move. “Don’t order me around,” he muttered, dissatisfied.

I hadn’t meant it as an order. I’d meant that it might feel good that way, but in the end there was no sign from Niimori that he was going to move, so I buried myself the rest of the way. Niimori dug his nails into the tiled wall, and lifted one leg like he was about to run away.

He’d lost one axis, and was tilting, unstable, and when I pulled out and then ran him through all in one go, it felt so good I got dizzy.

He moaned, his lips pressed together.

“Your voice,” I panted, “so cute.”

I wanted to hear it again, and so I thrust into him. But this time, no sound slipped out.

His knees were clattering, and I ended up going deeper than I’d intended.

I saw in the mirror that he was pressing a hand over his mouth. He was scowling, and looked like he was trying to endure the pleasure. His face was even cuter than his voice. I couldn’t stand it, and I knocked our hips together over and over.

His muffled voice started to echo faintly around the bathroom, mixed with the sounds of mucus membrane rubbing on mucus membrane.

I grabbed his tense hips and gouged out his insides, deep, shallow. The parts where we were connected were hot, and wet, and clung together tight. The fact that he was taking me in in such a manly way, even if he wasn’t conscious of it, was so sweet, and I found I couldn’t go easy on him anymore. His legs had lost almost all their strength, and when I put my arms around him to support him, he moved like he liked it, without any resistance at all. Just as I realized that, he clawed at my arms.

“It’s too– My legs–”

I knew there was definitely some dissatisfaction in that choppy voice, but I ignored it and pressed my hips into him.

Maybe Niimori had given up, but he put the hand he’d had against the wall on himself instead.

I wondered if he was going to touch himself, and watched as he grabbed his own dick, wrapping the tip of it up, and I realized, he was close to his limit. So I grabbed his arm and pulled his hand away.

“Ha– hand, let– go– Adachi.”

I left him like that and wrapped my arms around the front of his body, holding him up in front of the wall-mounted urinal like I was going to carry him off.

He took a few steps forward. I pressed hard into him, so I wouldn’t slip out, and every time we moved the response inside Niimori’s body was exaggerated. I realized he wanted my hand on him.

“No…” He panted, in between moans.

“I can make you cum if I just touch you here, can’t I, I don’t even need to press anywhere.”

Niimori shook his head like he hated it, but I ignored him and ran his cock through my hand.

Immediately, a cloudy liquid shot out from the small hole in his swollen glans. I felt like I was going to cum, too, just from watching it.

He let out a burst of muffled grunts. I slowly moved my hand, making sure the last dregs shot out, and finally Niimori put his hand back on the wall, sighing and moaning.

My genitals slipped out of him. My dick was damp and slimy, and when I rubbed it against Niimori’s ass, possessed of the desire to be inside him again, Niimori twisted his hips, shaking.

He hadn’t meant for it to be, but the movement was intensely bewitching.

Watching it, and with his skin grazing me, I easily came, just as Niimori had.

My semen shot out onto his lovely hips, and ended up on his clothes. He’d only just caught his breath, and didn’t complain. I couldn’t tell if that was because he’d given up, or because he was plotting something.

I stretched my fingers out to where it had scattered all over his back, and slid it down to just above his moles. Seeing them through the cloudy liquid was so arousing I was dazzled.

“Adachi, how’d your date go? Or, well, I was going to ask, but you look so calm and healthy, I guess I don’t need to.”

I was headed for the nap room for my night-time break, when Tsuno approached me to ask about the day before, his dirty uniform in one hand. When he pointed out my calm demeanor, I put my hand to my cheek half-unconsciously.

There were washing machines on site in the office, so people could wash their dirty clothes and uniforms. Tsuno must have been headed down there, it was right next to the showers. This morning had been busy, we hadn’t had time to sit around chatting, so Tsuno’d gotten right to the point the second he saw me.

I told him that the trip to Tokyo and the boat ride had been unpopular, and he looked surprised. “I think Niimori went to Tokyo, too – although you two do have some really weird coincidences.”

He didn’t seem suspicious even after pointing it out himself, but if Tsuno ever did find out, Niimori’s mood would take a nose dive – and it was heinous at the best of times.

“But you went to the aquarium, and had lunch reservations at some expensive restaurant, right? She must have liked that?”

“She got pretty quiet. I’m not sure if she was overjoyed or extremely angry. The car ride back from Tokyo was the hardest, though.”

For one thing, we’d never made it to the aquarium. We’d gone to the hospital instead, and then some seedy bar.

“What did you do, Adachi?”

“I got greedy in the middle of the date, and made a mess of her clothes in the bathroom.”

After it was over, Niimori’d yelled at me, his face red. “Why would you cum there?”

But even now, when I remembered that face, I could feel the heat coming on. And then there was the faint pain of his claws in my hand when I’d grabbed his hips, and the way his lips hadn’t been able to contain that messy breathing, and his still-gaping hole, and his skin all wet from my cock. All of it had come back into my vision in that moment and incinerated my sense of reason.

I didn’t quite remember, it was like a dream, but when I came that second time, Niimori’s clothes had ended up a complete mess.

“Adachi! Full on beast mode, huh?”

I had purposely avoided saying anything about how I’d gotten my date dirty, but Tsuno seemed to know it anyway.

“Yeah, I guess.”

“You should have at least gone to a hotel before the clothes got dirty. You’re not in high school, after all, have a little more composure than that. Your first time, on your first date, in a bathroom. That poor girl.”

“I’ll be more careful next time,” I said in the face of Tsuno’s frank advice.

“Is there going to be a next time? She’s not mad at you? If I were a girl, it would not be happening.”

That’s what I wanted to know.

After I’d come the second time, the heat had finally cooled. When I voiced my regrets about having done it by force, and in a place like that, Niimori had informed me I had thirty seconds to buy him some new clothes. I had run down to the convenience store.

After he changed into his new shirt, moving around seemed to cause him a lot of trouble. I apologized – “I’m really sorry.” – but Niimori only met my gaze with a listless glare and said nothing.

After that awful car ride, I’d ended up falling asleep on top of my sheets, never having had the chance to explain anything. Even when I’d dropped him off at his house, he looked so tired. He just muttered, “Remember your promise,” and disappeared behind his front door.

“There’s nothing to do now except get on your knees and apologize,” Tsuno said, giving me some advice since I’d lapsed into silence. “Buy her a present or something, do whatever she tells you.”

Just then, Harikawa happened by, carrying a hamper full of clean clothes.

“Ah, is the washing machine free?” Tsuno asked.

“One of the other guys is using it at the moment.”

“Are you serious? It’s been in use for the past two hours.” Tsuno stared at his dirty laundry with a sigh.

“If it’s that serious, it’d probably be faster just to take it home and wash it,” Harikawa said, and started to leave, but then he turned back to me like he’d remembered something.

“Oh hey, Adachi, did you and Niimori end up rescuing somebody in Tokyo on your day off? I heard you ended up at the hospital, got the police involved. You had a rough time of it, huh. Niimori said he’s never going anywhere with you again.”

He said it all with his usual smile, but it was very unfunny.

Beside me, Tsuno was staring at me like I had a hole in my head.

Thanks to Harikawa, my date partner had been revealed. If I’d known it was going to end up like this, I absolutely would not have mentioned my getting greedy in the bathroom. I hadn’t imagined Niimori would tell Harikawa about me.

“Tsuno.”

There was a long pause. “Yeah?”

“This is private.”

Another pause. “If you wouldn’t mind clocking me one upside the head, I’d like to forget the last five minutes of my life.”

“Since you already know it, though, do you mind if I ask you about stuff?”

“I can’t tell you anything about gay stuff. Anyway I thought you were the Big Tits, Family-Oriented, Innocent Beauty type, Adachi. When did you start going to the church of the Domestically Violent, Ferociously Brutal Beauty?”

“I did not change religions. Niimori’s the only exception. Anyway, isn’t he kind of– sexy?”

“Are you singing his praises now? Sca-ree. I can’t give you any advice about gay stuff, but if you want to know something, you oughta be careful about that sexy talk. For Niimori’s sake, and for your own safety and sanity. This is a mafia-level oath, please do not go around telling people this secret, it’s worse than donkey ears.”

Tsuno normally made light of anything, but he seemed seriously shocked at the fact that I’d ended up in that situation with Niimori. He headed back to his assigned room looking a little unsteady on his feet.

I watched his retreating form, and then headed into the nap room. I was tired, but I couldn’t sleep.

Maybe it was part of why I’d blabbed to Tsuno about Niimori, but I still hadn’t gotten a reply to the text I’d sent that morning.

I’d sent Niimori a text asking after his health, but maybe as the person responsible in the first place, I shouldn’t have.

I was terrible on the phone, anyway, and through texts, too. I had a hunch it would’ve been best to meet face to face and talk it out, but there were limits in place at the moment, and Niimori wasn’t coming down from the command center floor.

“No matter how much I think about it, I can’t figure out what’s going on in his head.”

He was the type who said clearly when he hated something. He hadn’t directly confessed – although he apparently had said something to Harikawa about it – but I still had some hope. I made myself own up to that much, at least.

But still, not one wink of sleep came my way. I had learned that the fastest way to combat it when I couldn’t sleep was to move my body, so I took a shower and then headed for the training room.

I was thinking I’d get myself moderately exhausted and that would put me out, but when I went in, the commander was there.

“Oh, Adachi. Come here.”

I didn’t know what he wanted me for, but I replied promptly and went over.

Figuring it might be about the inquiries the cops had made about me the day before, I started to put the story in order in my head, but the commander – doing sit ups on the mat the whole time – suddenly said, “Take the Rescue exam. You wanted it from the beginning, didn’t you? So do it.”

“After what happened, I feel I’m still pretty raw as a firefighter, so I wanted to rack up some more experience.”

The commander’s unexpected statement had confused me, but I managed to refuse with a perfectly respectable reason. The commander, though, laughed through his nose at me.

“The admirable type, huh, refusing coz you still lack experience. That thing with Niimori still got its mark on you, does it. That dumbass mistake you made in training the other day was because of that, too, wasn’t it.”

The commander stopped to wipe his neck with a towel. His hair was trimmed so short I could all the sweat pouring out onto his forehead.

The fact that his body seemed ten or twenty years younger than he himself was, was probably thanks to this kind of consistent training.

“Niimori will have to jump his hurdles, and you’ll have to get over your own.”

“Niimori is still worried about that incident then, isn’t he.”

I had no intention of trying to act like it had nothing to do with Niimori, even at this late hour, and especially to the commander, who’d accused me with such conviction.

I knew that I shouldn’t refuse if he offered me a letter of recommendation to the heavy rescue squad, but I also felt like if Niimori couldn’t get over his hurdles, I should stay away from mine.

I had some vague notion that maybe it would atone for my abandoning him in that moment.

“Is that why you’re not sitting the exam? You think that’s what’s right? If you don’t want to abandon your comrades again, you’ll get your skills up. Besides, you need to cool off for a while. You keep going out on calls the way you are, you’re going make a serious mistake. Next time you really will kill one of your comrades.”

The commander was telling me all this for my own good. Giving someone a letter of recommendation even though they’d done nothing but mess up in practice runs wasn’t normal. I lifted my head to say that even given all that, I couldn’t take the exam, but it turned out the commander had a few more things to say.

“You haven’t got much left in your bombay. You’re partner’s face up on the floor five meters down. If you go down to help him, there’s a possibility you’ll both die. The evacuation order’s been given, there’s no hope of assistance. What do you do?”

How many times had I lamented, how many times had I thought to myself that I should have waited with my comrade.

But that was all in hindsight. It was only because I knew that the other squad had come right away that I had the luxury of all these regrets, that I was able to think that I should have stayed. I hadn’t known then when the other squad was coming, and there had even been the possibility of another explosion inside the factory. And there had been an order to evacuate immediately.

I lapsed into silence, and the commander stared at me. “You don’t know? That’s why I said you need to get your skills up. Dumbass.” He snorted. “If you don’t want to regret it next time, you’ll go.”

If you asked anyone else what the best course of action was, they’d probably tell you to obey your superior’s orders and evacuate, that would be best. But that didn’t mean I could accept the decision I’d made in that moment. As the commander said, I didn’t want to regret it next time.

“Thank you very much, sir, I’d appreciate a letter of recommendation.”

I stood up straight and bowed my head. The commander laughed through his nose. “If you fail, you’ll be an embarrassment to me, so you’re gonna pass even if it kills you. You better pull down better results than even those Shikashika City 1 guys. Trounce ’em as hard as you can. I’ve got a lot of former classmates over there, so you better not lose to those people, no matter what else happens,” he said. “I’m glad you’re doing it. Aside from Niimori, you’re the best one of our young guys.”

— He doesn’t hold a grudge, like, with everything that happened?

I turned my eyes to the commander, feeling like he was trying to trick me with those kind words.

“Alright then, on your face. I want a hundred push-ups, and I’m timing you.” He pointed at the floor with his chin. I regretted being pulled in so easily, but if it meant cooling my head like the commander’d told me to, maybe some academy-level training wasn’t such a bad thing.

It was just for a little while, but I did manage to stop constantly thinking of Niimori for a minute or two.


  1. 鹿四花市 = deer-four-flower city, which is pronounced shika-shi-ka shi. i don’t think it’s a real place – at least, google maps couldn’t find it – but man that’s some kinda name…

 


In Love and On Fire

In Love and On Fire

Koishite, Enjou, 恋して、炎上
Score 9.2
Status: Completed Type: Author: Artist: , Released: 2013 Native Language: Japanese
Virgin Firefighter Adachi learns one day that his disagreeable co-worker Niimori is gay, and prefers the lowest type of guy. Thinking he’s found something he can lord over Niimori, he ends up attacked himself, but quickly turns the situation on its head and ends up embracing Niimori himself…!? Special Electronic Edition short story, “In Love and Purehearted” is included, which tells the story of that night from Niimori’s perspective.

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