Chapter 9: Both For You (1)
It was 10:43 pm, and the news commentary finished right on time, just like the rundown had specified.
“…It will be fascinating to see how this story develops.”
It was strange. No matter how convoluted a commentator’s spiel was, Asou was always able to succinctly summarize their points in a few words to make it clearer for the viewers. On the other extreme, he was also able to filter the repeated talking points through different lenses, which otherwise would have staled quickly if it were not for him.
Asou always maintained an expression for the camera that never betrayed that anything was happening behind the scenes. Not when the AD held up cue cards to let him know how much time he had left, not even when the control room overruled the floor manager to give Asou direct instructions, he took no notice of anything (or so he had made it appear). When push came to shove, he handled everything with a cool and level head, perfectly taking the reins whenever he was called upon. If a video clip failed to play and the sub-anchor started to panic, he could skillfully improvise and fill the time that was needed without a hint of awkwardness. Every time Asou went on the air, Kei felt like he was watching a master artisan at work, kneading and sculpting a ball of clay into a work of art. Kei was very confident in his own skills as an announcer, but he had to admit that he completely paled in comparison next to Asou. He didn’t know if he could ever follow in Asou’s footsteps—he was truly a rare and gifted talent in the industry.
“Next is sports. Minagawa-san, please take it away.”
The monitor switched from the view of Asou, Kei, and the night’s commentators sitting at a long table to a view of a round table on the right side of the set where the sports anchor was standing by in front of a jumbo monitor.
“First up is soccer news. I, Minagawa Tatsuki, scored an interview with the shocking new acquisition from Italy’s A.C. Milan! It’s a big one! Also, please stay tuned through the end of the clip! You won’t want to miss your chance to win a special prize.”
The video clip was nearly 7 minutes long, which was plenty of time to relax in front of the cameras; however, Kei refused to let his guard down just because he wasn’t being broadcast to the viewers. He didn’t let himself slouch, or rest his chin in his hands, or show any kind of slack in his posture; he had his full attention on the interview, or so he appeared. He nodded along, smiling, leaning forward with the rising energy of the conversation, taking care to appear as natural as possible so that he looked fully committed to his job. Inside his head, Kei was thinking that the 5 billion yen1 acquisition deal could make a bathtub full of cash to bathe in a reality. He could go to work by helicopter every day if he wanted to. Oh, how committed was he that he wanted to work even with all of that money? He could even split 1 million yen2 or so with a certain someone… But of course, he would be asked for his thoughts about the interview once it finished playing, and so he spent the remainder of the time thinking of several responses that could fill 10, 15, 20 seconds worth of air time.
Kei was in top form as usual tonight.
“Kunieda-san, you were watching the interview super intently! Do you like soccer?”
With the successful wrap up of the broadcast and calls of Great work, everyone! in the air, an AD came up to Kei to start a conversation.
Look, an idiot took the bait.
“Oh, I’m not knowledgeable about soccer at all, but I thought that something about the clip seemed familiar.” Steering the conversation back to the production side, Kei continued, “I think I heard that this particular player hated giving interviews.”
“That’s right!” the AD said excitedly, the look in his eyes shifting. “Minagawa-san is amazing! That player always looks so irritable, even in the post-game interviews when his team wins, but he was so relaxed here! I think that was also his house. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen the guy invite the media into his home!”
“Yeah, I heard it from the man himself too.” The driving force behind the featured clip of the night chimed into the conversation, and he could not be more happy-go-lucky if he tried. “He was really guarded when I first interviewed him, but he loosened up once we started talking about manga. Then when I told him that I hadn’t read the latest volume yet, he sorta invited me to read it at his house? He wanted me to help straighten up his house in exchange, so I did.”
“I had to help track down his dirty magazines too. He was really set on finding them. That was all cut, of course.”
“Well, the house wasn’t cleaned yet at that point, right?”
Asou called out, “Tatsuki!” and the AD stepped back nervously. Asou wasn’t an overbearing man, but he had a presence that made people want to straighten up in front of him.
However, Tatsuki wasn’t bothered as he replied, “Yeah, you need something?”
“You made a mistake tonight, you know.”
“Just as I suspected, you didn’t even realize it. Kunieda, tell him where he went wrong.”
“When you were announcing the sweepstakes for the prize, you had said ‘thrice the lucky winners.’”
Don’t drag me into this, Kei thought to himself, but he replied in a very tactful and roundabout manner.
“That’s right,” Asou confirmed.
“Huh? Why can’t I say it? I’m just saying three times the winners.” Tatsuki stared at them blankly.
Asou looked over at Kei again, and so Kei had no choice but to explain.
“Exactly, ‘three times’ is considered to be standard usage while ‘thrice’ is not. It is also not very precise; if you mean three winners, then please just say ‘three winners.’ Sweepstakes laws require strict disclosure about rules and prizes, and so you need to be especially careful even if the exact disclosures are detailed by the lawyers for us on the contest site.”3
Tatsuki said, “Huh, I don’t remember getting training for this. Did they decide to skip it when they were hiring the year that I came in?”
Asou replied, “Of course it wasn’t skipped over. Besides, you and Kunieda are only off by 2 or 3 years.”
“I still don’t see what the big deal is.”
“It’s that kind of thinking that’ll get you in trouble. And here I was going to compliment you on the good job you did on the interview.”
“Aww, come on, I wanna hear the compliment! It’d be great if you can do it when Producer Shitara’s around!”
“Did you call me?” Shitara quietly appeared from the production control room.
Tatsuki said, “Asou-san was just calling me a genius!”
“Says the genius who didn’t know the proper Japanese term for a T-intersection.”
“I think half the population of Japan wouldn’t have known that!”4
“Alright, let’s go over some things before our meeting later.”
After they had finished a brief review of the night’s broadcast, Tatsuki trotted over to talk to Kei. Tatsuki had such a cheerful appearance that it was hard to imagine him being sad or in tears. When he smiled, the bottom half of his face was filled with a white, toothy grin.
“Kunieda-san, are you free this Saturday?”
“Why do you ask?”
Kei did not want to give a single second of his weekend to someone he couldn’t care less about, but he hid his true feelings behind his response.
“Let’s have a singles meetup!”
Kei would rather play the vuvuzela at home. It would be a more productive use of his time.
“I’m sorry to say, but…” Kei smiled apologetically. “I’m not a great conversationalist when it comes to meeting people unless it’s for work. I would feel bad for bringing down the mood.”
“Hey, don’t worry about it. I can set the mood for all of us! All you need to do is sit there and smile, Kunieda-san. You won’t need to say anything.”
Then just bring a photo of me to the meetup, if that’s all you need. Get it through your thick skull, I don’t want to go!
Irritated, Kei searched for a way to turn down the invitation without causing any friction. That was when a staff member spoke up and sent out a rescue boat.
“Don’t be so pushy, you’re troubling Kunieda-san.”
Great, that was perfect. As a thank you gift, you can have an eraser that I don’t need anymore.
Tatsuki protested, “But…”
“By the way, didn’t we say that we should take a day trip out to the hot springs as a group?”
“Oh! What happened to that anyway?”
Taking the opportunity while Tatsuki was distracted, Kei rushed off to wash off his makeup.
The team reconvened in the staff room, and it was almost midnight by the time they finished their meeting. Kei’s previous position during prime time was stressful, but since he was transferred to late night, he was entitled to reimbursement on his taxi fare, and so he was happy that he never needed to contend with the rush for the final train.
After he thanked the taxi driver with a smile and entered his apartment, Kei wrapped up his broadcast of the announcer Kunieda Kei, showering and changing into a pair of sweats, putting on a pair of glasses with fake lenses and a medical mask, and headed back outside. Inside his pocket was a key chain with two keys hanging from it: a fancy new one with all the latest security features and an old-fashioned one with the handle in the shape of a three-leaf clover.
It was a windless night, and the cold was not yet very harsh. The scent of fallen leaves drifted through the dry air of the city; the piles scattered along the roadsides lined with barren trees. Kei received a text message like it was timed on purpose for him.
“Milk, bread (6 slice pack), and packing tape.”
Where was the “please do me a favor and pick up a few things for me?” Kei thought as he stopped by the convenience store. He completed his errands, and after a 10-minute walk, he used the shabby, old key to let himself into a two-story house.
“They only had the 5-slice pack,” Kei said brusquely. His voice didn’t sound like it belonged to “Kunieda Kei” at all.
In reply, there was no greeting, no welcome; the homeowner just said, “Put it in the fridge,” without taking his eyes off of the computer monitor that he was using to do his work.
“Where’s your ‘Thank you very much, I deeply appreciate it?’”
Kei went upstairs to the second floor, shoved the plastic bag with all of its contents inside the refrigerator, and grabbed a can of beer. Then he placed a pillow behind his back as he propped himself up on the bed and stretched his legs out, sipping his beer as he checked the recording of The News from earlier in the night. There were sounds of footsteps coming up the stairs and the refrigerator door opening.
“Hey, don’t stick the tape in the fridge with the food.”
“If you have a problem with it, then do it yourself.”
Kei continued to watch TV as he deflected the complaint, and then the bed creaked heavily next to him.
“The interview today was pretty interesting.”
Kei turned his head to glare at Ushio. “Not you too.”
“Everyone keeps fawning over him lately, and it’s really annoying!”
“Fawning? I was just giving my opinion as a viewer.”
“He was lucky that the interviewee happened to like him, and he acted all smug about it. And then he wanted me to go to a singles meetup with him! Me of all people!”
“He probably didn’t want to leave you out because you do such a good job pretending to be a good role model for your younger co-workers. Seems like a pretty nice guy to me.”
“It’s not that at all.”
Ushio stole a sip from the can of beer that Kei was holding and received an exasperated look in return. “What’s his name again? Minagawa Tatsuki? Lately you’ve complaining about him almost every day.”
“That’s because I hate his guts!”
With the fall re-organization of the show, Asou, with one-third of his stomach removed, had made his return on The News. The half year that Kei filled in as the host, the ratings mainly fluctuated between 15 to 17%, a very respectable figure for a temporary stopgap until Asou returned. The numbers for the premiere were simply a lucky, one-off bonus. His body had already adjusted to the demands of a late-night working schedule, and so he had no complaints when he was reassigned in the fall as the sub-anchor who would read the news and help move the show along.
The only thing that bothered him was the young upstart that was put in charge of the sports corner. He was 25 years old and had no experience on any news broadcasts; his pick to be on the network’s flagship program was talked about with more surprise within the network than Asou Keiichi’s return.
It was one thing to say, It was as surprising as the time with Kunieda, given the context, but it felt like Kei was being slighted in passing, and it pissed him off. Tatsuki was surrounded in a complicated atmosphere where there were not only expectations, but curiosity and jealousy too, and yet he seemed to slip into his position on the show without much trouble, which irritated Kei even further. Of course, Tatsuki had made his share of mistakes. On one hand, it made Kei want to gloat, Ha, in your face!, but it also enraged him that Tatsuki wasn’t taking the job seriously enough. And Kei only had one person in the world he could vent all of his pent-up anger to.
“I hated him since the time he interviewed for the job. He doesn’t take anything seriously. He probably thinks he can get through the world on his enthusiasm and charm alone as long as he knows enough to get by.”
“That means he’s probably quite clever.”
It made Kei angry to hear Ushio describe things so simply. But Kei also didn’t want Ushio to be a sycophant who would badmouth someone just because he was doing it.
“And isn’t it your own responsibility for choosing to live in such a complicated way?”
Kei didn’t want to be defeated by a point that he couldn’t refute either.
“I know, shut up.”
Kei’s motivation to continue his aircheck disappeared, and so he turned off the TV, finished drinking his beer, and lay down on the bed.
“You’re not going to watch?”
Kei turned his back to Ushio, and Ushio started to ruffle his fingers through Kei’s hair.
“What are you doing?” Kei asked.
“I’m fawning over you. See? Fawn fawn fawn fawn fawn.”
Adding sound effects doesn’t make it any better, dammit.
“Quit it! Ugh, besides, it’s the public who I want fawning over me.”
“Even if you get a few compliments, it’s not like anything will happen on a larger scale. The public sees someone who’s always so capable that it becomes expected, and they stop reacting to every single accomplishment.”
“Hey, I’m always doing my best to please people and keep things flush and new.”
“Yes, yes, you’re such a hard worker, good boy, good boy.”
The words sounded like praise, but not really, especially when repeated like that.
“You’re so cute, you’re so cute.”
“Doesn’t make me happy.”
“I’m saying it because I want to, you know.”
Kei called Ushio a name to suppress the pitchiness that was threatening to break out in his voice.
“Turn around and face me,” Ushio said.
“Why should I, stupid?”
“Because I want to see more of your bratty face when you’re not all dressed up for the world to see.”
“Shut up and let me sleep. I need to be at work by 10 am tomorrow.”
“That’s early for you. Why?”
“We’re doing interviews on the street.”
“Where? Want me to go pretend to be a pedestrian?”
“I’ll walk the other way if I see you. I’ll be in Ginza, and Minagawa will be in Shibuya. What a pain in the ass. Why do I have to go too, can’t he handle it by himself? Besides—”
Kei started to get irritated again, grumbling to himself, when suddenly Ushio bit his ear from behind.
It didn’t hurt, but he let out a slight yelp in his surprise.
Kei turned around and retorted, “No, you idiot!”
“Really?” Ushio asked as he caught Kei’s gaze.
“I said I’m going to sleep.”
“And I’m not stopping you. I’ll just help myself to whatever’s here.”
“What am I, leftovers from the fridge!?”
“Yes, yes, I know.”
Kei knew that he had fallen for Ushio’s trap the moment he responded to his teasing. No matter how many times it happened, Kei never learned. Kei liked to brag how superior he was compared to everyone else, but when it came to Ushio, for some reason Kei’s head seemed to lose the ability to think straight.
“Oi,” Kei warned.
Ushio had removed Kei’s glasses and the crumpled-up facemask from under his chin, not bothering to ask first. Then he lowered his face to bring it closer to Kei’s.
“…What do you want?” Kei asked.
Kei thought that Ushio was going to kiss him, but Ushio stopped just as their noses touched to stare into Kei’s eyes.
“I finally get to see your face,” he said happily. “…Good job tonight.”
Kei hated to admit it. He really hated to admit it. But rather than having 10,000 people fawning over him, he felt more satisfied with this single, short, little remark just now. And Ushio had probably known it too.
He truly had no need for anything else—but Kei didn’t want to admit it about himself.
It frustrated him, and so he tilted his head up for a kiss.
“Oh, are you in the mood now?”
“Shut up and make it quick. I’m sleepy.”
Ushio placed kisses on Kei’s forehead and down his cheeks, and Kei couldn’t maintain his irritation. Ushio silently urged Kei to remove his clothing, which made Kei feel self-conscious about himself, but once Ushio pressed his own naked body on top of Kei’s like he was Kei’s personal blanket, Kei could finally relax.
Kei was gathered up in Ushio’s arms so tightly that it even warmed through his moans. He could spend all night snuggled up like this, but then again, they could press closer, feel deeper, have even more of each other. Both options were equally tempting.
Since Kei had said to make it quick, Ushio didn’t make many detours, running his fingers over Kei’s skin, down the side of his stomach, lovingly stroking over the hip bone that was lifted off the bed, then followed the line down to his destination.
Ushio captured Kei’s cock in his hand, his fingers hatefully clever, doing his utmost to stoke Kei’s desire, coaxing and drawing it out from inside of him.
“Look at you. You react quite nicely for being sleepy.”
“It’s because I’m sleepy, stupid.”
Ushio’s hands were usually dry, and the bit of roughness from the palm of his hand always made Kei go wild. Ushio was Ushio, and he liked to press his hands flat against Kei’s sweat-soaked body, dragging them against the smooth planes of his back or belly, a smile curving on to Ushio’s lips as he said, Yes, feels so good. Every time it happened, Kei felt a deep sense of relief that he didn’t know how to describe, except that he was glad that he was born like this, with this body of his.
Kei wanted to pester Ushio, I don’t need you to admit anything, but everyone looks at me with envy, you know. Do you know lucky you are?
Kei finally noticed the thick desire rubbing up against his own, each little stroke fattening up the core of his need. It made Kei throb, quick and sharp, transmitting each pulse naked and raw over to Ushio. Kei gasped, his mouth slack and open, and Ushio mischievously captured Kei’s lips with his own, and each time the wet sounds of tongues and saliva filled the air, the tips of their shafts grew wetter in response.
Fluid dripped down to ease the friction, making the motions feel slick and obscene, and Kei felt even more turned on than before. Ushio licked Kei’s mouth seeking his wetness and his heat, and Kei stuck out his tongue greedy for more. When Ushio caressed the top of Kei’s palate with his tongue, it was Kei’s cock in Ushio’s hand that trembled.
Although Ushio was flippant in his remark about helping himself to whatever, he shifted himself up and very attentively executed all of his tricks to drive Kei out of his mind. Kei rocked his hips without thinking and found himself at Ushio’s mercy, the pads of Ushio’s fingers playing with the flushed head of his cock and the root where his cock met his body.
“Sexual desire” to Kei was a tangible condition that could found deep within his body. When it overflowed, whether from the heat of Ushio’s fingers or his tongue, it slowly spilled outside of him like melted candle wax.
“Mmm, ahhh, ah!”
Or from Ushio calling his name like this.
“Do you want to come?”
“Mmm… I want to… come…”
And then I want to sleep, he had unnecessarily revealed. Maybe it was over-compensation for the time before he had removed his thick, heavy mask, but Kei found that he now shared far too much when it came to Ushio.
“Then you can’t.”
Ushio reached down beyond Kei’s cock to his innermost depths, but Ushio didn’t push into him, the touch intentional and lingering as Kei’s mouth went dry.
“You can come later.”
“You said I could sleep through it!”
“I was joking around, stupid. I’m not into that sort of thing.”
“Ahhh, no, I want to…”
Ushio took Kei apart with his fingers, carefully so that Kei couldn’t come, collecting the precome that dribbled from his cock and using it to help stretch him open. Kei shuddered, succumbing to Ushio’s ministrations, wondering why his own body always reacted beyond his control. While Kei was distracted by the hand lavishing attention on his cock, a set of fingers deep inside him found his special pleasure point just as Ushio brought their cocks together, creating a delicious friction, teasing Kei’s multiple weak spots repeatedly that Kei almost came right then and there.
“No, I want to— Ahhh, nooo!”
But he couldn’t come, even though he wanted to badly. Not with Ushio’s hand gripped tightly around the base of his cock.
“Ow, ow, it hurts. Ushio, I want to come.”
“But you’ll fall asleep as soon as you come.”
“No… I won’t sleep… So please…”
“I don’t know… But I suppose you won’t be able to sleep through this even if you tried.”
Three fingers restlessly prodded him inside of his hole, testing and exploring each and every inch, and a desire permeated through Kei from the shallowest to the deepest parts that Ushio had opened. It was clear that Kei could no longer be satisfied by a simple handjob.
Kei’s initial reluctance was lost by the wayside as he personally demanded more and faster, ordering Ushio to cater to his every need. It was a frequent occurrence, and Kei had yet to find a way to prevent it from happening every time.
“Hold on just a bit more for me.”
This is all your fault in the first place. Don’t try to placate me with a little kiss.
However, Kei closed his eyes and surrendered himself—to Ushio and his lips and to the other part of him that wasn’t his lips.
The moment that Kei felt an intense heat start to shove its way inside of him, his body was wracked with warning signals, flashing to alert him of the danger. But his channel was well-acquainted with that formidable expanse, and once the thickest portion made its way inside, the trembling inside of him chemically transformed—into pure, unadulterated rapture.
“Ahhh… fuck, you feel so good…”
“Mmmm… Ahh, noo, ahhhh…”
Once Ushio was fully inserted, he leaned down to gather Kei against his chest, and Kei wrapped his arms around Ushio, spreading his hands and running them all over Ushio’s back, content that he could finally touch Ushio in return. It was November, and yet Ushio was covered in a layer of sweat, proof that his arousal was unable to be contained inside of his body, and Kei wanted to lick every single drop of it until there was nothing left.
“Ah! Ah, ah, nhhh, Ushio—”
Ushio rocked their bodies together at a rhythm where Kei could still retain his senses. But Ushio’s next words made no sense to Kei.
“I see now,” Ushio whispered. “You weren’t lying.”
“What… do you… m-mean…?”
“You know how you said, ‘you always do your best to flush with pleasure’? I definitely see it.”
Ushio smiled teasingly as he stroked Kei’s cheek, and Kei blushed furiously.
“Drop dead! Who said anything about flushing with pleasure, huh!?”
“You might get a little satisfaction if I dropped dead here, but in the end, you’re the one who’d be in trouble.”
“Shut up, pervert!”
“Yes, yes, you’re so cute, you’re so cute.”
“Shut up— Ah!! Nooo…!!”
“Didn’t you want to come?”
“Ahhh, no, nooo—!”
As Ushio thrust into Kei’s body, the names that Kei had wanted to call Ushio were carried away inside his head, and all Kei could do was moan in anguish as Ushio played him like a finely-tuned instrument.
- 5 billion yen – Approx. $50 million USD.
- 1 million yen – Approx. $10,000 USD.
- Tatsuki had made a nit-picky Japanese grammar mistake in an effort to sound doubly polite, but it was considered to be rude to the viewers, and it was even spelled out in the network’s standards and regulations. I had to finagle a mistake that attempted to sound polite and that also ran a foul with the rules to get a somewhat smooth English translation.
- 丁字路 is the standard Japanese term for T-intersection, while Ｔ字路 is non-standard. They are also pronounced very similarly, so it is easy to pick up on only the non-standard version of the word.