Visiting a prostitute was not something Hikaru had ever done before or had even contemplated doing, but that afternoon, he and Isumi weren't really going for the usual things a prostitute does, no they had come to play go, which was a hobby for this particular prostitute. For Hikaru and Isumi playing go was their work but on occasion, if the prospected opponent was really good, they would themselves pay (if only for the refreshments and location hire) to play. It was just a first time thing for Hikaru that the location of this particular game was a bordello and the opponent a prostitute.
For Isumi this was his second visit, and it had been Isumi who had talked Hikaru into coming along that day, assuring him that he didn't have to do anything he didn't want to and besides they were only going to be playing go and nothing else, so Hikaru needn't worry.
Of course Hikaru really wasn't worried about what it was prostitutes did or didn't do. Nor would Isumi had been so worried on Hikaru's behalf if he'd have known his friend a little better than he thought he did. You see, Hikaru did 'discrete' really well. And this was a very good thing because he liked sex a lot and had slept with a lot of people both Hikaru and Isumi knew well. Hikaru's discretion kept Isumi from finding out a whole bunch of things he was better of not knowing about his current girlfriend (and the last one, and the one before that, incidentally). Isumi, Hikaru knew, was the straight laced sort and Hikaru didn't see a point in needlessly upsetting his friend. Because while Hikaru loved sex in all its forms, he wasn't ready to commit and he had always been up front about that with all his partners and, except for a few unfortunate instances, most of his partners had accepted that. And so at 19 Hikaru was a successful and unhatched go pro and he was looking forward to his very first visit to an actual brothel.
The start of the visit was somewhat disappointing. After having turned from the brightly lit main street of Tokyo's red light district into a rather dingy alleyway, Isumi knocked on a dark wooden door that looked like any other door in the alleyway; decapitated and uninviting. The knock was answered with an elderly sounding female asking who was there. Isumi said his name and added Hikaru simply as 'and friend'.
The door creaked open and they were let into a dark anteroom where both of them took off their footwear and put on the slippers the older lady pointed them to. She was maybe in her sixties and wearing a fairly formal version of traditional kimono, as far a Hikaru could tell. She was well groomed and her actions radiated tradition, but while she smiled in a very polite way as she bade her guests to follow her, Hikaru detected a very hard glint in the lady's eyes; it said 'don't mess with me'.
Hikaru had no intention of messing with anyone, so he didn't feel threatened but the lady, and he followed after Isumi who followed the lady down the narrow corridor that led off the anteroom. The floors were covered in traditional matting and wall on either side were made of large dark wooden panels, the kind that also slid apart and functioned as doors and room dividers. They turned a corner to the left and then later a corner to the right after which the lady stopped, knelt down near the left wall, facing her guest, slid open the panel right next to her, bowed and bad them enter.
There was artificial light coming from the room, lighting up the corridor as Isumi first entered and Hikaru followed. Once they were both inside, the door behind them slid closed; the lady had shut herself out of the room. Hikaru let his eyes quickly scan the new space; moderate sided room with tatami mats on the floors, dark wood on the walls, with some scrolls - one of a bamboo shoot in bloom and one of a bird in the light of a half moon - and one display of ornate fans and another of a beautiful purple kimono, hung out to best effect. The room was lit by two lampoon like lanterns hanging from the dark ceiling. Presently Hikaru's eyes fell on the only other occupant of the room, who was bowing to them in welcome. And Hikaru couldn't help but stare.
The prostitute was beautiful. A slender face and physique, near purple irises in almond shaped eyes, pinkish red lips on a dainty mouth, long straight natural looking hair that seemed to go on forever behind her back, Hikaru was sure that the hair would still touch the floor when the lady would be standing up straight. Hikaru was mesmerized. And intrigued, because he had also noticed that the lady wasn't wearing what Hikaru would have expected a traditional Japanese lady of the night to wear. She looked more like she's just come out of a bath; hair still damp, wearing a cotton jukata (a very nice jukata to be sure, printed with at least 5 different colors, but still only a jukata). She wore no make-up, traditional or otherwise, her feet were bare (Hikaru could just see them tucked under her bottom as she sat in seiza behind a rather plain goban but one that did have legs). No, all in all this lady looked like some one who was at leisure, not at work. And suddenly it struck Hikaru that he'd been thinking of her as at work because Isumi was paying for this game, and now he saw her in a new light; that of a fellow go lover.
Hikaru and Isumi sat down after the lady had indicated they should. Isumi sat in the seat set out for the lady's opponent of the day and Hikaru took the cushion at Isumi's right hand.
"Welcome good sirs, my name is Fujiwara Sai, how do you do," the lady said and bowed. And Hikaru did a classic double take; that voice did not belong to a female. Hikaru found he had to blink a couple of times to get his brains in gear but Isumi's response to the 'lady's' opening gave him a few moments he needed to collect himself. That lady was no female.
After Hikaru had fumbled through his own self introduction and formal greeting and Isumi and the 'lady' had started to game, Hikaru got his chance to sit back and observe the game and - now that this Fujiwara turned out to be something unexpected - the players too.
The first handful of moves Hikaru followed only peripherally; most games start with a bit of territory claiming mixed with some feeling out of the opponents strengths and weaknesses. All interesting enough but also familiar enough so Hikaru, who was not actually playing, could ponder other matters. Like the matter of this Fujiwara person.
Now that Hikaru had heard Fujiwara speak, he could see that Fujiwara was more of an androgynous creature than he first had thought. Hikaru concluded that it was the way Fujiwara was dressed had thrown him off; the jukata was worn in the female style, with an overlap of material at the waist and a colorful wide obi with a large feminine bow at the back. A man would have omitted the overlap and would have worn a narrow obi with a stylized knot at the right hip. Also the way Fujiwara held herself, himself? Demure and ladylike, eager to please and also shy. But maybe all these behaviors, and the dress style, were part of being a prostitute, no matter what gender. Maybe even definitely all part of that.
Hmm, Hikaru thought, Fujiwara is certainly intriguing. The question is do I want to know more?
Hikaru's thought was interrupted by a move that Fujiwara made and that had Isumi visibly sit up and take notice. He let his thought go, promising himself some more pondering time later as he too put his full mind on the game; that move looked pretty bold from where he was sitting.
Fujiwara turned out to be an excellent opponent, keeping Isumi on his toes for the full two hours the game lasted. Hikaru had found only a little time to do any thinking at all on matter other than go, and most of it had been during the bladder induced break he was forced to take after an hour and a half of sitting and guzzling tea. It was when he ran into the proprietress along the way that he did his very rash thing. And on the way back he kept asking himself what ever had gotten over him and when he re-entered the game room and saw Fujiwara elegantly place a stone on the goban, a closed fan sitting to his/her lips while she/he concentrated, that Hikaru remembered exactly why he'd done it; this was certainly going to be an interesting night!
Sai always delighted in having a strong opponent to play and Isumi-san was a skillful player. Indeed playing such an accomplished player is likely to be the high point of this day, Sai thought to himself as he thanked Isumi-san for the wonderful challenge. After this serious player (Sai had privately nicknamed him Mr. Serious) and his good looking friend left, the evening would start and evenings never brought anything good, Sai had found.
Sai bowed his farewells and he expected Mr. Serious and he-who-shines-brightly (Sai's private name for Shindou-san, Isumi-san's companion) to leave quickly. Most of Sai's go challengers did, and Sai couldn't blame them, after all who'd want to be around a person like him? But as Sai came up from his bow, he realized the bright one was still sitting there.
"Shindou-san," he started tentatively, letting his tone go up into a question mark.
"I, uh," the bright one started, rubbing his palm along the top of his thigh in what Sai assumed was a nervous gesture. "I seemed to have acquired your services tonight," he continued.
"You have?" Sai was mortified, he sounded like he was questioning a person who now turned out to be a paying customer; it was the height of rudeness! He quickly tried to cover up his faux pas by bending his head down, opening his fan and hiding behind it. He chided himself. How many times did Mama-san have to pound it into his stupid head; the customer is always right!
"Uh, yeah, it seems so," came the youthful voice of the young man.
At his hesitant tone, Sai dared to look up from behind his fan. The bright one didn't appear to be angry, in fact his was smiling shyly at Sai and Sai found himself smiling back and lowering the fan from his face. Maybe this evening was going to different.
"So," the bright one said, "now that I have you all to myself." He paused, catching Sai's eye and giving an theatrical wink. "I first want to know your first name, and then I want to play you at go."
He wants to play, Sai thought, but... "My given name is Sai, and-and I would love to play you but, are you sure? I mean, an hour is not very long and if you also want..." Here Sai ran out of words; even with the job he did he still couldn't talk about, well, that.
"An hour? We have plenty of time; I paid for the night, see?" the bright one said.
Sai was startled; the whole night? It was unheard of. Maybe... "But Shindou-san, did you not know it is customary, in my metier, to be paid for by the hour? Did Mama-san not explain that?"
The bight one shrugged his shoulders at what Sai had said. "The proprietress explained nothing about anything and this is my first time in a place like this anyway," he said and Sai's heart sank. When this nice young man realized how badly he's cheated off by Mama-san, Sai was well aware that however nice the young man sounded just now, he might still take it out on him, just to get his money's worth. It had happened before.
"But," Shindou-san said, "I wanted to have a nice long game first so paying for an hour would never have suited, in any case." The ice that had threatened to take over Sai's heart faded when Shindou-san shifted around 'til he was sitting tailor fashion, scratching the back of his head, and added "And call me Hikaru." And Sai found himself smiling back at Hikaru-sama's grin.
The bright one was a totally different type of player than his friend, Sai was delighted to find. Where Mr. Serious was cautious the bright one was bold and he would attack more often than defend. But for all Shindou-san's bravado, he was still a deeply thinking player and not to be underestimated. Sai enjoyed every move in their sparring, and he did his best to draw out every facet of the bright one's game. Who knew if Sai would ever have that chance to play this opponent again? In all likelihood he'd never see the young man again after this night. Very few ever returned for a second nightly visit and of those few that did, Sai prayed most of them would stay away instead. But, Sai reminded himself, he was playing a great game now and he should not contaminated the experience with gloomy thoughts of things that could not be changed.
This Fujiwara Sai was a very strong opponent, Hikaru realized pretty quickly. Of course he'd known that from witnessing Isumi getting clobbered by the guy, but it was still different to be experiencing the clobbering for oneself. Sai was fucking strong. And Hikaru couldn't help but admiring that strength. This guy could give Touya a run for his money!
The game ended very predictably with a loss for Hikaru. Less predictably was the fact that Hikaru lost by only one half moku; Hikaru had been thinking he was going to go down by at least 10 moku. But a loss is a loss and and Hikaru was about to suggest best two out of three when the sliding door opened and a little girl in a red silk kimono daintily glided in baring a tray of food. And before Hikaru could ask for his second game, Sai had efficiently tidied away the goban and goke to make room for the tray and the second tray with tea and warmed sake on it that the girl brought next. Before the little girl left she walked over to Sai and whispered something in his ear. She didn't even have to bend down; she was just the right height for reaching the prostitute's ear while Sai sat and she stood, she was that small. She quickly left.
"Ah, it's diner time," Sai said and Hikaru quickly glanced at his watch: 6:55 pm. "You can eat and while I'll prepare for
the evening," Sai added.
Hikaru's tummy didn't mind the interruption; it hadn't been fed since 2 pm. But his mind did; he really did want that second game, and his body, most notably his lower regions, had plans of its own and they definitely included two people being present, not himself scoffing dinner all alone. "Prepare? For what?" he asked, slightly worried what this prepping would be in aid of.
Sai looked startled, again startled, Hikaru was starting to feel he was seriously out of his depth in this world of prostitutes; he seemed to be saying or doing the wrong thing every time he opened his mouth!
"Uh, I need to change," Sai explained, his tone held patience. The kind of patience a kindergarten teacher has with a particular stupid 5 year old. Hikaru, when will you learn to keep your trap shut?
But Hikaru found he couldn't leave Sai's answer alone. He just didn't see why the prostitute had to chance; he looked lovely the way he was, barefoot in that mulch-colored jukata. So he asked why.
"So I can be a worthy host," Sai said. Hikaru's eyes followed the man as he got up gracefully, moved to one of the wall (and yes, the long hair did sweep across the tatami mats behind him as he walked) where he slid back a panel revealing a dark closet from which he retrieved a sizable photo book. He closed the closet and brought to book over to Hikaru, laying it with the right side up for Hikaru to open. Sai folded his legs under himself to sit across from the book, elegantly opening it so Hikaru could view the content.
The fist two pictures were only recognized by HIkaru as depicting Sai at a closer look, because Sai's face was made up as a Maiko, a Geisha student. He was dressed as a Maiko too. An ornate red kimono sat low on his shoulders, showing off a lot of bare neck, which traditionally is considered an erotic look. The kimono was tied at the front with a green obi-sash with gold embroidery on it. The pictures were obviously from a professional shoot; well lit and with a dark blue back-drop, one showing the whole person while the other was a close-up of the face. Hikaru could appreciate the esthetics of the photos, but not so much the content; too garish.
"I can be a Geisha, if you like or," Sai turned the heavy page revealing another set of pro-pictures with Sai kneeling, dressed in a pastel colored costume the like Hikaru had seen once in a No play, against a white background. Again it was a set of two pictures, one an overall shot, the other a close-up. The lighting and backdrop made Sai's shiny black hair stand out as it fanned behind him, as he posed in a submissive pose of a woman of whatever period No theater got their costumes from. Sai's face was made up in white again, lips blood red, stylized black eyebrows painted high on his forehead, and Hikaru found he didn't like this anymore than he had the first pictures.
"A lady of the Heian court, my specialty. Or," Sai continued, turning the page, "I can be more modern."
The newest pictures depicted Sai in a Lolita type dress on the one page, complete with pigtails, ultra short frilly pink skirt, garters and matching pink Mary-janes, and on the other page Sai wore are a very revealing electric blue evening gown and way too much make-up.
When Sai leaned forward again, presumably to turn the page again, Hikaru quickly closed the book and said, "That's all very, uh, lovely, but not what I want."
Again that startled look appeared on Sai's face and Hikaru couldn't help thinking, oh crap, I said something wrong again. But then the look passed and Sai's face mellowed, even took on a knowing look. And Hikaru waited what would happen next.
Sai rose up elegantly, stood regal before Hikaru, who incidentally was feeling like a total peasant in comparison, what with the way he was sitting cross legged in his favorite dungarees and faded T-shirt.
"If those do not please," Sai said, his hands going behind him. "Then maybe you would see me without any adornments," he continued pulling on one of the ends of his sash, releasing the bow at the back of his jukata.
Hikaru didn't know how fast he got to his feet, all he knew was that he caught the hands before the jukata came undone. It was not that he didn't want to see Sai naked, he did, but, "that is for me to do," he said, releasing one of the prostitute's pale hands; he didn't want to come across as bullying.
They stood still for a moment, and then the prostitute lowered his head in submission and Hikaru was cheering inside; this would go the way he wanted, nice and slow. He made them stand a long moment longer, as he took a good look at his companion for the night.
That Sai was beautiful Hikaru had seen the moment he'd walked into the room that afternoon. But now he had the chance to studied Sai more in detail, and he was determined to take his time. Sai was taller that Hikaru. Nothing earth shattering there; most males were taller than Hikaru and Hikaru was very much used to that annoying facet of his life. Some of his would-be lovers had tried to cast him in a certain role because of his (lack of) height but Hikaru had never catered to that, nor was he ever planing to. Such pre-deciding of sexual roles based on what amounted to irrelevant physical facts was something he hated. He'd much rather discover what sex between two people would be like on a case by case basis. And, in all his escapades, he'd found that as each person he'd been with was different, the sexual act with any person was different from any other sex he'd had with any other person. And now he was looking forward to 'learn' to have sex with this unique person called Fujiwara Sai.
He gently pulled Sai down with him as he sat back down. Sai let himself be pulled and ended up sitting quite close to Hikaru, his legs shifted out from under him, so he leaned into Hikaru's side and had to keep his balance with one hand to the tatami mat. Hikaru had done his best to keep the jukata on the prostitute, so he'd not be distracted from the next step of the night; the getting to know each other. (And the eating, as Hikaru's stomach reminded him embarrassingly loudly)
The brothel's dinner fare was actually quite good, Hikaru found to his surprise. He explained it to himself as maybe being part of the feel good experience that a visit to a high class prostitute should probably be. But of course he had no frame of reference as this was his first time. So anyway, the food was good. It was served with sake, of course, but Hikaru turned the alcoholic drink down for two reasons. One, after seeing what booze did to Ogata-sensei when Hikaru had only been 12 years old, Hikaru had acquired a distaste for drunks. And two, he wanted to keep a clear head so he could enjoy the night to the fullest. (And incidentally be able to get home safely when he was going to be leaving the district in the middle of the night.)
If Sai thought Hikaru's refusing the sake was strange, he didn't show it in any way. Hikaru did note that the prostitute stuck to drinking tea himself, now sharing his pot with Hikaru (who was forced to drink the tea even though it was not his favorite; he was more the soda type).
Over dinner they talked go. First they reviewed the game they had just played and then, when the food was nearly all gone, they talked about Isumi's game against Sai of earlier that day. It was interesting to hear Sai's thoughts on Hikaru's friend's go-playing style. Sai had seen things Hikaru had also noticed as he'd played Isumi in the past, but he'd seen it in just playing the guy twice. And he had noticed a lot more besides, that, now Sai mentioned them, Hikaru very much recognized. Hikaru's respect for Sai's go skills rose by the second over dinner, and he was having a great time with the enigmatic prostitute.
Well after all the food and tea was gone, the door slid open again and the little girl busied herself taking the ravages away. As Hikaru was still talking go with Sai, from the corner of Hikaru's eye he saw the little girl first bring in a covered tray and then a folded futon, almost twice her size. Hikaru quickly intercepted her, taking her too large burden off her and putting it on the floor.
"Thanks, that's enough," he said not unkindly to the startled girl. Next to him Sai nodded to her and the girl quickly moved to the open door, turning to the room's occupants to bow briefly before turning again to leave.
Just as Sai was moving from next to him to get up, Hikaru caught a wrist and stopped him. The prostitute turned his wide eyes on him in a question. Hikaru was pleased to see that that extreme startled-ness he'd seen in those deep purple eyes before was absent this time.
"Hikaru-sama, don't you want me to make the bed?" Sai asked him.
"I do," he said, "but later. First," he gently tugged on Sai's arm. "First I want to kiss you."
Sai's client just kept doing things so differently from what Sai from what he was used to, from how things were done. First it turns out Shindou-san had payed for the whole night, then he wanted to play go instead of wanting to do the usual first. Then he didn't want Sai to change and wear something suitable, then they share the dinner and the bright one talked more go. And afterward, when Momoko came in with a very unsubtle hint of what would ordinarily happen next, Hikaru-sama wanted to kiss him.
Sai had tried to comply with the bright one's odd wishes as best he could. In truth Sai didn't like the dressing up or any other part of his job, so playing go and having good dinner conversation instead was like a dream come true. But he was under no illusion as to how the evening would proceed, that was his job after all, and HIkaru-sama had more than paid for the service. So Sai had resigned himself to having to do it. But then the confounding man stopped Sai from preparing the bed and demanded they kiss.
It put Sai completely out of his depth; for all the nature of his job, a kiss was the one thing no-one had ever wanted from him. Sai was well aware he had only very few skills and some were even using his mouth. But kissing, he knew, was a very intimate act, definitely the thing the one thing a client coming to see a prostitute would NOT be looking for. Physical pleasure, certainly. The thrill of experiencing something out of the ordinary, definitely. But real intimacy? No. That was what you had with an equal, a true lover, not a paid companion.
But on the other hand, Mama-san insisted that the customer was always right, and if that was true when the circumstances were bad than it was also true when they were favorable. So if Hikaru-sama wanted to kiss him, Sai would let himself be kissed. But he fervently hoped that the bright one knew how, because Sai had no clue!
Kissing Sai was interesting. Upon reflection Hikaru should have realized that kissing would probably not be something the prostitute did much. Traditional Japanese sexual intimacy didn't have the act of kissing, it was introduced by the Americans (and their movies) in the 1940s.
But Hikaru was a big fan of kissing and so, the moment he realized Sai had not much experience with it, Hikaru slowed the act down, letting his companion catch up. He found Sai very responsive, sensitive to every move of their mouths upon each other, and very unsure of himself. When Hikaru deepened the kiss, he felt Sai tremble in his arms for a moment and then go nearly limp, leaving himself open for whatever Hikaru chose to do next. It was like a sweet surrender, that sent hot shivers of lust up his spine.
He continued to kiss as he eased his companion on his back, onto the still folded futon, so Hikaru could lean over and have all the control he wanted at that moment. The kiss continued, each catching a breath here and there, where able to, with Sai clutching at Hikaru's T-shirt at the shoulders, giving Hikaru the freedom to slip both his hands inside the V of Sai's jukata, opening it up to reveal a pale heaving chest with nipples already standing up and hard.
Hikaru moved his mouth away from the tantalizing ruby red lips, leaving Sai gasping for breath while Hikaru explored his companion's long neck, trailing down towards his chest as he opened more of the jukata on the way lower down. As he laved the sensitive nipples with his tongue, making Sai make to most delightful squeals and moans, his hands found the outline in the jukata material of his companion's penis. It was soft still, but Hikaru pulled the cloth away, determined to change that state.
With none of Hikaru's lovers sex had been the same. Nor had their bodies been similar, except in the most basic way that all man have certain assets and women have a different standard set of assets. But once you had a person naked, it was all new territory open to exploration. Hikaru delighted in finding those places that excited his lover, and those actions that would put his lover on fire. Sometimes, using the direct approach worked very well; with men especially. Sometimes it took a while for the lover to run hot. And sometimes a lover would respond quickly one day and very slowly the next. Never the same. And never dull.
So the fact that Sai wasn't hard yet, even after all that moaning, didn't phase Hikaru one bit. He just redoubled his efforts on his companion's nipples and carefully (and blindly) extracted the soft penis from the clothing and palmed it, stroking softly. Some men's penises were sensitive and Hikaru wanted to feel out what would be good for his newest lover. As he stroked he realized the organ was smallish. Again no cause for concern, some people were showers and others growers, and Sai might well be the latter.
Sai was very sensitive though, Hikaru found; too sensitive for Hikaru's course hands. Some sort of lotion would be good right now, he thought as he lifted his head up a little to look around for inspiration. Then he saw the covered tray. He quickly transferred all his weight onto the hand that he had put next to Sai's hips so as to not squash his companion, reached out with the other, the one that had been exploring the most, to pull the cloth cover off the tray, revealing exactly what he had hoped: a tube of lubricant. He even recognized the brand; the better stuff.
He quickly snagged it and found it had already been opened. He squeezed the tube, putting a dollop on Sai's twitching stomach, then he dropped it unceremoniously next to Sai's hip, scooped up most of cream onto his fingers and brought it down to coat the soft penis. As the cold lube touched Sai so intimately, the man actually squawked and Hikaru leaned back over so he could distract his companion with more nipple play.
Hikaru always made it point to get his lover off first before he did himself. The kick it gave him to see how much power he had was almost addictive and watching his lovers turn to goo in his arms was so exhilarating he'd found it heightened his own pleasure. And he was getting plenty of pleasure from hearing the prostitute moan and see him writhe in ecstacy. The only thing was that his companion still wasn't fully hard, for all his writhing and moaning.
Hikaru redoubled his efforts, letting his hand find the more pleasurable places down below, while he alternately kissed and nibbled the sensitive nipples. He knew some men were particularly sensitive around their balls and so he gently palmed them. The were soft and a bit small, and Hikaru felt that rolling them around in his hand did not seem to heighten Sai's pleasure, so he let go of them and moved lower. With some men, the space just behind their penis was an erogenous zone, so Hikaru moved his fingers there, so he could stroke the area and see what response it would yield.
His fingers looked for the flat area but then Hikaru stopped. What he'd touched was not flat. Nor was it dry. It was almost as if... Hikaru sat up, pulling his head way from his companion's chest, so he could take a look. He was now sitting between Sai's legs while the prostitute was lying back, part of his lower half still covered by the jukata.
"What...?" Sai asked, looking quite flushed as he tried to raise his head. But Hikaru wasn't listening. He had to know what he had felt, so he carefully drew the jukata out of the way.
Sai frowned at the look on the bright one's face. He tried to get his brain into gear but it was difficult with the languid heat that was still zinging through his body. Hikaru-sama had made him feel amazing, unlike anything he'd felt before, and he had felt he'd been quite close to a finale of sorts, when the bright one had suddenly pulled his hand and mouth away, leaving Sai instantly bereft.
Sai shook his head once to try and clear it. Then he took in the scene as he pushed himself up on his elbows. Now he could see Hikaru-sama sit there and look down at...
"You have a vagina," Sai heard Hikaru-sama breathe. Oh, that, Sai thought. Then he recognized the look on his clients face.
"You didn't know?" Sai felt he had to ask.
"How could I have know?!" the bright one said, sounding angry, never taking his eyes away from the evidence. He's playing with me, Sai thought, there is no way he couldn't have know. It was the very reason people came to see him at all; to gawk at the freak. Sai, feeling embarrassed now, and scared too, rolled one leg across the other and wrapped the jukata around both, hiding away the topic of conversation.
"It's on the big sign by the front door," he said, his tone flat as he turned his head and shoulders away, effectively turning his back on his client. There would be consequences to this, but he was suddenly too numb to give it much thought. The only thing he could think was, well, here we go again.
"We came in the back," the bright one said. Sai started. There would not have been a sign by the back door, so Hikaru-sama might indeed not have know. Had he thought he was just buying the services of an ordinary prostitute? Oh god, he must be so disappointed now, Sai thought.
He quickly turned back around, clutching the jukata close, so as to not embarrass his client further. Quickly he spoke, "I'm so sorry! I didn't realize you didn't know! I will talk to Mama-san and get you your money back, I honestly did not mean to deceive you!" His breath came hard as he waited for the bright one's response. Of course he knew Mama-san never gave any money back once she'd got her hands on it, but Sai felt sure that if he pleaded enough with her and offered to do one of those parties she always wanted him to do - he shuddered at the thought - he'd be able to get her to give his unintentionally duped client at least part of his money back.
"No." Sai was startled out of his thoughts by the tone of Hikaru's voice; decisive, maybe even angry. He swallowed. He had been in this position before; sometimes clients would be upset by Sai's condition, even though they knew about it beforehand. Some would be horrified, some would be disgusted, and some would get very angry and then Sai would get hurt. He wrapped his arms closer about his body as he slowly inched back into one of the corners of the small room. He knew it wouldn't do any good, possibly even make things worse, but he couldn't help himself.
Fujiwara had a vagina. Or at least it looked like one. 'He' had both male and female parts. Hikaru couldn't stop thinking this over and over, trying desperately to wrap his mind around this. He'd never seen anything like it, had not even heard of such a thing. Was it real? Or maybe artificial? How could it even exist? The thoughts swirled in his head and it took all his will power to stem the flow so he could hear what the prostitute was saying.
His money back? Why would he want that? No, was his first thought on that and he didn't realize he'd said the word out load until his mouth closed again. He looked up from where he'd been staring at the futon, after Sai had moved away without Hikaru realizing it, and saw the prostitute had cornered himself, herself, oh gag, how should Hikaru now think of his lover of mere moments earlier? But then he saw the look on Sai's face: fear, real fear. And he found himself saying "No" again. Sai trembled at the word and Hikaru suddenly felt outraged. Who had put such fear in his companion?
Hikaru's anger quickly died down when he saw Sai react to it with more quacking. Not what Hikaru wanted. And so he elaborated on his use of the word 'no'.
"No, I don't want my money back," he said, trying to make is tone both soothing and authoritative. "What I want is to know how it's possible." At that he looked Sai straight in the eyes, awaiting an answer.
He could see emotions wash over the prostitutes face, anything from fear to resignation. Finally, after biting his almost red lip in worry, Sai apparently decided to speak.
"How it's possible that am I like this, you mean?" Hikaru nodded, and the prostitute looked down and sighed. "I don't know, I was always been hangetsu, half man and half woman." Sai's tone was sad, resigned.
So, a trick of nature then, Hikaru thought, not anything Sai can do about it. In a way it made things easier for Hikaru to understand it. One cannot chose one's body; you are born male or female, well most of the time anyway, and sometimes, apparently, you are born both. Or at least a little bit of both, Hikaru thought, remembering the feel of the prostitute's bits; small and not very responsive.
"My family were appalled with how I was," Sai said after, what Hikaru interpreted as Sai's idea of an uncomfortable silence; Sai sounded nervous. Hikaru was about to interrupt the story, wanting to say he didn't need to hear the background, but he stopped himself because while he didn't need to know, he certainly wanted to know.
"My grandfather would take care of me, he kept me in his room so I'd be safe," Sai continued, "but then he died and I was taken off the island and sold to Mama-san. I've been in this house ever since."
"So, you've never been anywhere in Tokyo?" Hikaru asked. Sai shook his head. "And you're stuck here, like, forever?"
At that Sai smiled. "Oh no, not forever! No, my contract will end and when it does I'll become a professional go player!" Sai now looked happy at this thought. He looked earnestly at Hikaru and said, "I have some books that talk of the professional go world, I know that I need to join a go school and then later I can earn a living as a pro player." In his enthusiasm Sai jumped to his feet, swept to the sliding door that had the cupboard hidden behind it, opened it and brought out some very old looking books. Sai came to a stop in front of Hikaru, folding his legs beneath him and depositing his burden in front of Hikaru, all without loosing his tight grip on his jukata. It was a feat worthy of a dancer.
Hikaru looked at the battered books, picking one up and opening it. 'Go and it's culture' was the title. Published in 1887 in Osaka. The index spoke of the old go schools, Honinbo House, Inoue House and Yasui House. Hikaru's heart sank; all the information presented was so incredibly out of date.
"Sai," he started, putting the book down, picking up the next to check the date on that: 1885, no good either. He put it back down without even leafing through it. "How long before your contract is up?" he asked, dreading the answer.
"Oh, nine more years, if all goes well," Sai said, his face still radiating his hopes for the future, all expressed in a dreamy smile.
Hikaru felt terrible, but he had to ask the next question, it would have been unfair not to. "And how old are you now?"
"Uh," Sai looked puzzled for a moment, like no-one had ever asked him that before. "This is my 25th summer," he said, unknowingly sealing his own fate.
Hikaru sighed. He knew he had to tell the prostitute the truth, anything else would disrespectful and cruel. But the truth was just as cruel and so Hikaru found himself the bearer of very bad news indeed.
Sai had listened to every word the bright one had said. The world of go is different from what was in these old books, he had said. There is a go exam that you must pass but only under 30 year olds could take part, he'd said.
Sai was no fool, in 9 years he would be 34 years old, much too old to take the exam. At 34 he'd be 'free' to go out into the world and starve, because he had only two skills, only one of which he was actually any good at. No. At 34 he would be forced back here, back to this hell where he'd be showing off his 'assets' to anyone who'd pay, and this time with no chance of escaping, with no hope for the future.
He remembered well what his grandfather had said, mere days before the man died, when Sai had only been 7 years old. My child, I'm sorry life dealt you a bad hand, but remember, you can always try again in a next life, maybe you'll have better luck then. May the Buddha guide you.
'A next life'. Yes, that was the only way now. Sai found that facing a single more day here, in this life, in this job, was more than he could bear. At least he had had a nice evening with Hikaru-sama, even if it had been Hikaru-sama who'd told him the truth. Or possibly because Hikaru-sama had shown him the kindness and respect to actually tell him the truth. No matter what happened from now on, Sai had at least that to cherish. And all the rest could be resolved with the flick of his knife, the one he had secreted a long time ago, without Mama-san or anyone else knowing.
Yes, that was a solid plan; his blood would flow soon and it bring would take the pain away. But for now there was the bright one looking frowningly at him. Time to be a good host one last time.
The play of emotion on the prostitute's face, just after Hikaru had told him, uh, her, that there was no way she, he, would be able to take the pro exam truly frightened Hikaru. The deathly pallor, with the wide purple eyes staring off into nowhere. The ridged stance, with the shallow breathing, panting almost. One hand clutching closed the jukata, the other held up as if in supplication to some god or spirit Hikaru could not see.
For some minutes the prostitute held the terrible pose and then all of a sudden, his/her face went slack, the hand came down, she/he sat back on his/her heels and quite calmly looked over at Hikaru.
"Shall I ring for some more tea?" the prostitute asked in a civil tone.
"No, thanks," Hikaru said almost automatically; he really wasn't all that fond of tea.
"Sake then? Or soda pop?" Sai asked again, nothing in his/her demeanor showing that anything of any importance had happened in the last half hour. Hikaru wasn't buying it.
"What are you up to?" he asked, making his tone carry a warning. But apparently Sai wasn't phased at all by this, no, the person who had earlier in the evening had been unsure and even frightened of Hikaru every move and opinion, was now courtliness personified, and seemingly impervious to threats, even from Hikaru. Hikaru didn't like it all.
"Nothing at all," Sai said, letting go of his hold on his jukata, while moving closer to Hikaru. "How about we kiss some more? Kissing is nice, don't you think?" Sai purred in his ear. Well, yes, kissing Sai was very nice indeed, but Hikaru wasn't about to be distracted by such tactics. He grabbed the nearest thin wrist and forced the prostitute to stop his/her advances.
"What's going on?" he demanded. And Hikaru knew Sai was lying when she/he replied "nothing," the fact that the prostitute was looking at the floor instead of his face, spoke volumes. He reached out a hand and used it to turn up the prostitute's face so he could confront him/her. Sai's eyes were still turned down.
"Out with it," he commanded.
Sai look up, directly into his eyes and said, "it will all be resolved by tomorrow." The tone was flat, the eyes were empty.
No! Every fiber in Hikaru's being rebelled against the notion of what was obviously going to be a suicide attempt of some sort. Not on my watch, was his first thought. And his second too. But then he realized that there wasn't terribly much he could do here. Except maybe...
"Can that contract of yours be bought out?" he asked and Sai blinked as if in slow motion and some of that emptiness in the purple gaze filled up with some emotion Hikaru couldn't quite fathom.
"It can." Sai's voice broke on the few words, almost as if he'd forgotten how to speak at all. Hikaru saw the prostitute's chest heave as if he/she tried to draw breath under water.
"How much?" Hikaru asked mater-of-factually.
Sai's almost non existent Adam's apple bobbed. "10 million, 400 thousand yen."
Fuck! That was ten times more that Hikaru had ever owned in the world. Hikaru kept his gaze steady though, don't show the fact that you don't have a hand to play here. "I'll have it for you..." He had to think for a moment; there was no way he could have it by the next morning, that was Sunday and any bank would be closed. He wasn't sure if Sai, who'd never been anywhere by his own account, even knew about banking hours, but still. "I'll have it the day after tomorrow," he promised.
"You will?" Sai asked in confirmation, his/her eyes shining with tears, one of which escaped down the beautiful face.
Hikaru nodded his resolve. And then found his lap full of sobbing prostitute, and he questioned his own sanity.
Hikaru let Sai weep, at the very least he could give her/him that much. He knew very well that getting the money was going to be more than hard, but even if he to go rob a bank for it, he was resolved to get the brilliant go player out of this hell hole. But on the not so off chance that he couldn't deliver, he let Sai cry his/her misery out on his now very damp lap. It was the very least he could do.
After a while the weeping became hitched breathing and after some more time steady breathing. And then, finally, Sai raised her/his head and gave Hikaru a watery smile.
"May I request something?" Sai asked, that smile growing.
Hikaru smiled. "Of course you may," he answered.
"Would you kiss me again?"
Hikaru felt his smile stretching his face. In reply he hooked a finger under the prostitute's chin, leveling the head up and he leaned over, their lips touching in moist warmth.
Many hours later, Sai lay alone on the futon. He had neglected to take his usual shower he'd take after seeing a client. No, instead he reveled in the smell and feel of bright one's sweat still up his skin and the bed, and his seed still inside of him.
He couldn't help the tears that leaked from his eyes, being sopped up by the bedding. They were mixed tears of hope and desperation. What if Hikaru-sama didn't come for him on Monday? What if he did? Questions with no answers.
Sai reminded himself of the only thing he was sure of; that he had to survive one more Sunday in order to receive his answers. Just one more day of hell. And at that thought, the tears flowed faster still.
Hikaru had left the brothel at 4 am, after Sai had woken him up to tell him time was up 5 minutes earlier. There hadn't been much time to say goodbye, and Hikaru strongly suspected that the prostitute had planned it that way; Hikaru had seen he/she was openly crying as Hikaru rushed to pull on shirt and pants. His socks and underwear he stuffed in a pocket, wanting to spend the time he would have taken putting them on, kissing his Sai instead.
He had run out the door saying "Monday, I promise," one last time. And was unceremoniously herded down the corridors by the proprieties, who gave him just enough time to stuff his feet in his shoes before chucking him out back into the dark empty alleyway he'd entered that afternoon.
He took a moment to sit on a stoop, taking out his socks, putting them and his shoes on properly. Presently he walked out of the alley.
At 4:10 am no bus ran, but he didn't mind the long walk to the metro station; he figured he could use the time to think.
He thought about his day, about meeting Sai, about how Sai was half man and half woman, hangetsu. About how he felt about Sai, regardless of the male/female thing. Or because of the male/female thing? Hikaru now wasn't sure. The strangeness of it had first surprised him and then it had turned him on like nothing before ever had. But there was more to Sai than being a hangetsu, or even being some one Hikaru was very much attracted to; he/she was a great go player too. Hikaru could not forget either game the prostitute had played yesterday; both were brilliant, worthy of any go pro.
So, it all came down to that 10 million 400 thousand yen. If Hikaru couldn't come up with that somehow, Sai would not be free in time to get his chance at the pro exam, hell, the way Sai had been talking, the prostitute wasn't going to be alive by Tuesday! Hikaru was not going to let that happen. While he wasn't completely convinced he was in love with Sai just yet, he was not going to stand by and watch the hangetsu end it so permanently between them before it had even started. Especially not for lack of money. Just not. Which brought him neatly back to those 10 million plus yen.
Robbing a bank was out of the question. Even though it had been the first thing he'd thought of, he'd realized quickly he'd never get away with it. If the police didn't catch him right away, Gramps would and Hikaru was more scared of what Gramps would do to him than law enforcement agency. He could still feel the belting he'd received when he'd tried to steal that goban when he'd been 11 years old. It had been the day Gramps had taken charge of Hikaru's life and the reason he'd become a go pro instead of going to collage and become a salary man like his dad. Gramps knew his stuff, that was for sure.
Hikaru walked aimlessly, deeply in thought, well after the sun had come up. His feet had taken him on a meandering path in the direction of home. And once he'd decided he'd thought enough, he took the train the last stretch home, walked briskly from the station to the house he shared with his grandparents, and, after coming in, settled at the kitchen table to wait for Gramps to wake up, so he could make his appeal.