Chapter 15: Center of the World (2)
The next day around 4 in the afternoon, Kei was sitting in a corner of the empty cafeteria when a voice approached him and said, “Oh, Kunieda-kun.”
I’m on my break, dammit. Get a clue, stupid.
However, he immediately put on his best smile and greeted, “Hello, good afternoon.”
“Perfect timing. I was just about to head to the announcer department to find you.”
The lady was sporting a pair of large, dangly earrings, and Kei wanted to ask, What department are you from? She seemed like a producer, probably joined the same year as Shitara.
“It’s still a couple months off, but I have a project in mind for you for Cinenight. I wanted to ask you what you think about it first.”
“What is it about?”
It was a 10-minute short program that aired late night on Saturdays. Announcers would introduce and spotlight a movie for each show, highlighting PR teasers and interviewing the directors and/or cast members. It was essentially additional publicity for movies. The announcers were on rotation, appearing at least once every 3 months—Kei included.
“There’s a film called Caramel Days that just finished shooting. Have you ever read the original work that it’s based on?”
“I believe it’s an incredibly popular shoujo manga?”
Of course, I’ve never read it. And on the off chance that I did, I wouldn’t be able to admit it.
“It would probably be a little weird if I read it.”
“Oh, no, not at all! I recently borrowed the books from my niece, and it was pretty interesting.”
It’s probably another cliched story filled with ridiculous teenagers, all hearts and sparkles in their eyes as they fumble through their way through school, emotions, friendships, and love. I also don’t get why in the live-action films, all the high school boys look like they cosplaying as hosts.
“Anyway, the film will open this summer, and when we feature it on Cinenights, we’d love to have you be the presenter. We plan to bring in the two leads for the interview.”
“You’d like me to present it?”
He wore a mask of bewilderment, but under it he was griping, You gotta be kidding me! Although it was a part of their job duties, there was an unspoken rule that films would be matched to the announcers in a way that would fit their image. For example, Tatsuki introduced a lot of action and comedy films, and Kei was typically in charge of deep, introspective dramas or documentaries. In other words, the type of film that would make him fall asleep in 5 minutes if he was watching it at home.
“But at the heart of the film is a shoujo manga love story, correct? Would it not be more suitable for a woman announcer to present it?”
“We wanted to change it up and have you present it, Kunieda-kun. The main character is in love with the very proper and kind-looking class president, and it’d be perfect to have you on! But on the inside he’s pretty arrogant and rude.”
Ugh, I just felt a cold shiver run down my spine at the sound of that.
In the end, Kei had no grounds to refuse the request. It was going to be a more painful screening than usual. Since the film was based on a manga, he’d have to read that too. He also had to check up on the actors’ backgrounds and previous films. The show’s director would handle the interview questions and pass the list over for the management company to review beforehand, but Kei still had to come prepared with his research otherwise the interview could come off sounding empty and disinterested.
“When will the interview be?”
“Probably around July.”
“Alright. I’ll research the film and prepare myself until then.”
“There’s one more thing I’d like you to do for the show.”
There’s more? he thought as he elegantly tilted his head questioningly (of course, his thoughts didn’t get through to her).
“The biggest highlights of the film are the wall slams. They plan to include at least one wall slam every 10 minutes.”
So in a 120-minute film, there’d be 12 wall slams? What kind of girl puts her back to the wall that frequently? Is she a ninja?
“And we would love to have you demonstrate your own personal wall slam in front of a wall-mounted camera!”
“People are watching the movie to see a gentle, shy-looking boy do a wall slam and whisper a line that’ll make their hearts race. That’s why this demonstration will be perfect! The viewers will love it! Everyone working on the show wants to see it too! Our network is also an investor in the film, and so we should try to generate as much buzz as possible.
Kei reined in his facial muscles to hide his displeasure while he searched for a way out of this ridiculous kink scenario.
“But I thought that wall slams are no longer the trend anymore?”
“That’s right, it’s trended so much that it’s now a staple.”
She was completely serious and confident in her assertion. Kei had miscalculated big time and was now at a loss for words.
“…Um, but I’m responsible for reading the news every weeknight. I’m not sure what people would say if I were to take this assignment.”
Whenever Kei had no other options, he used his bosses as a shield. However, the woman already had an ace up her sleeve.
“Oh, you don’t need to worry about that. I’ve already gotten permission from Shitara-kun.”
Why are you so damn prepared!? How badly do you want to see me do a wall slam?
“There’s still a lot of time until we film the show. Please come up with your own personalized lines that’ll make everyone’s hearts race!”
What personalized lines? But wait, maybe it’s better than being forced to read lines that someone else wrote?
In the meantime, Kei made a note in his phone’s calendar for July that said, Wall slam. What kind of ridiculous schedule was this?
“He looks like a normal, hard-working civil servant from the outside.”
“Very true, you can never tell what people are really like on the inside.”
It was a news story about an elementary school teacher secretly moonlighting as a professional pachinko player and making a fortune at it.
“But everyone has a side to them that they can’t show to other people… What do you think, Kizaki-kun?”
“On my days off when I don’t have plans to see anyone, I’d say that I look a bit of a mess.”
“Aww, you’re just saying that.”
“But it’s true!”
“All right, let’s take a look at Kizaki-kun on his day off.”
The screen switched to a photo of Kizaki wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants.
“Oh, go fuck yourself.” Kei got up on his feet despite himself. “I’m a way bigger mess!! More than 10 horse lengths a bigger mess!!”
“Why are you getting worked up over this?” Ushio looked up at Kei with an exasperated look on his face.
“I mean, look at what he’s wearing! Those are designer sweats! He could bring a poodle with him to an expensive cafe to drink tea and not look out of place! The fact that he can even show it on TV is a contradiction to what he’s saying!”
“You get competitive over the strangest things. Anyway, you don’t need to watch anymore, right?”
The show had switched over to the weather forecast, and so Ushio stopped the recording.
“You were acting all uninterested before, but now you’re completely fixated on their show.”
“They’re the ones fixated on us!”
“Oh, you mean that declaration of war on the premiere? I saw it on the internet news sites.”
On the night of the premiere, The News received a 16% rating while Newsment got 10%. Frankly, it was nothing to speak about—but only for now. There was no telling if or when something were to come along for them and explode in popularity.
“…I heard that he interviewed to be an announcer at Asahi,” Kei whispered quietly as he sat back down on the bed.
“Huh, you mean Kizaki Ryou?”
“Oh, that makes sense. I thought he spoke really nicely. The ends of his sentences sounded crisp and sharp, like they stopped like they were supposed to. He was also careful with the words that he used, and he was a good listener too.”
Kei wrinkled his brows at Ushio’s high praise. “You didn’t say that in your text message!”
“It’s a pain to text something so long. I’m telling you now, aren’t I?”
“But you work on things that are a thousand times more of a pain.”
“Because it’s for work. Aren’t you the same? Anyway, what else?”
“Don’t you have something else you want to say?”
“…He interviewed the same year as me.”
“Oh, so you’re the reason he didn’t get the job.”
“Have some tact, dammit! But I already knew that you have none!”
“What are you getting mad for?” Ushio asked as he shut off the TV. “You said before that the competition is up in the several thousands for an opening. So what if that one in a several thousandth of a chance appeared in front of you? If he was serious about becoming an announcer, he could have applied again the following year. He didn’t necessarily have to be a new graduate.”
“Yeah, I guess so…”
“I think the competition is crazier for a TV personality than an announcer. And from what I could tell, he seemed to be happy with his work.”
To outsiders, Kei also looked like he thoroughly enjoyed his job, and so he couldn’t trust that assessment. However, Ushio’s words did help Kei feel better.
“It didn’t really bother me, but then that moron Minagawa said something about him maybe wanting to get revenge.”
“He probably only said it because you take everything so seriously and it’s fun to see your reaction.”
“I didn’t! Ugh, whatever, I don’t want to talk about this anymore!”
“I’m 100% sure that you’re the one who brought it up.”
“Fine, let’s change the subject then. Hey, think of a good wall slam for me.”
Kei briefly explained the wretched ordeal that he was tasked with. He had wanted to keep it a secret from Ushio, but with the information age of today, he didn’t know where Ushio would find out about it. It was better to be open with him now than to keep quiet and suffer more damage when Ushio would eventually find out about it and spring his teasing on him when Kei least expected it.
Gosh, I’m a strategic genius. The Kei in Kunieda Kei is the “kei” for calculation after all.
“Wow, you really do whatever you’re asked. I’m impressed.”
“I didn’t have a damn choice! Some idiot pushed it on me. Anyway, give me a good wall slam.”
“No, no, it’s your job, you should think of one yourself. Wow, I can’t wait to see what Announcer Kunieda’s wall slam will look like. If I get pregnant from swooning too much, you better take responsibility for me.”
I really shouldn’t have told him.
Kei tried to kick him, but Ushio easily dodged it and got on the bed. Then he scooted backwards towards the wall until he was sitting up against it.
“Come on, I’ll let you practice on me.”
Ushio was clearly up to no good, and Kei twisted his face in apprehension.
“Wow, that’s an ugly face…”
“If I’m ugly, then 99.9999% of the world’s population would be hideous!!”
Huh. That would leave about 7,000 people who’d be beautiful. That’s too many. An extra zero too many.
“Yes, yes, but it’s for work, right? Kunieda-san’s motto is to do everything perfectly, so you’ll have to work at it. If it’s too embarrassing, I won’t force you to practice with me, but wouldn’t it feel empty to rehearse it by yourself at home?”
That was true. Kei got up on his knees and straddled Ushio’s legs, placing his hands against the wall on either side of Ushio’s face.
This should be good, right?
Next he had to come up with a good line that would make someone’s heart skip a beat. It couldn’t be something simple like I like you or I love you. Since it was a wall slam, something a little more aggressive should make a girl happy.
…Okay, got it.
Kei looked down at Ushio and opened his mouth to speak.
“…Why don’t you jump for me?”
“7 points.” Ushio raised an eyebrow. “Why do you sound like you’re shaking the girl down for cash?”
“I wanted to sound a bit like a bad boy.”
“I think you have the wrong meaning of the word ‘bad.’ Can’t you draw on something from work for this? Don’t you have any killer lines for the ladies as an announcer?”
“…All right, got it.”
“That’s fast. Okay, go ahead.”
Kei lightly cleared his throat.
“How about I secretly tell you the best interchanges during rush hour traffic?”
“5 points.” Ushio sighed. “Do you even want to do this?”
“What’s wrong with it? Doesn’t it make you happy?”
“Not at all. Why don’t you skip straight to the point and say I love you?”
“Because it’s too boring for what they want.”
“Fine, then try to find a reason for the I love you, or what you want to do after saying I love you.”
“Okay, got it.”
“You sure about that? Okay, Take 3, go.”
“Everyone’s raving about creamy puddings lately, but I love the ones that are nice and firm.”
“3 points. God, you just piss me off more when you speak in that nice voice of yours. It’s wasted on you.”
“Wait! I’m using the pudding as a stand-in to compliment the woman! It’s a really advanced technique!”
“You keep spouting 5 points and 2 points, but it’s not bad if it’s out of 10 points.”
“Don’t be stupid. How delusional are you? It’s out of 20,000 points.”
“What!? How terrible do you think I am!?”
“I don’t believe you’ve ever gone out with women before.”
“And I can’t believe you can’t think of a single romantic line you can say to someone.”
“I never needed to use them!”
He only had to come up with a good setting, and the woman was happy enough to see romantic gestures in everything that he did. Ushio’s sensitivity levels must be skewed if he couldn’t feel anything from Kei’s words.
“What’s with the derisive tone? I bet you have all this experience seducing people using your damn ‘oh, I’m really awkward’ act. But so what?”
“What are you talking about?” Ushio stared directly up at Kei and laughed. “Who would seriously date a shut-in like me with such a tedious and time-consuming job? You’re the first, of course, Kunieda-kun. So be gentle with me, okay?”
Ushio smoothly placed his hands over Kei’s wrists that were still pressed up against the wall. It was so shameless that Kei uttered a “You…” as he stared back at him.
“—…piss me off so freaking much!!”
“Don’t lie to me with such a straight face, dammit! It’s so damn obvious!”
“Hmm, no, that’s your specialty, not mine.”
Weird, I’m the one doing the wall slam, but for a moment, I felt my heart skip a beat.
It made him want to gnash his teeth in frustration.
Their arms formed a small enclosure, like they had blocked out their own tiny piece of the world, and in the center of it was just the two of them. Ushio drew his face closer, and they were so close they could kiss.
A hand slipped into the cuff of Kei’s worn-out sweatshirt, sneaking up his forearm to caress the rounded bone of his elbow. It wasn’t a particularly sensitive spot, but it made him shudder as the fingertips stroked the hardness there under his skin.
At the same time, another hand had already rolled down the waistband of his sweatpants. Kei thought it was going to trace along the groove between his cheeks, but then it slid into his underwear to examine the situation below.
“Ah, wait, stupid…”
It was still dry and unyielding; even if the touch made Kei want more, his body was not prepared yet.
“I know. Kei, get it for me?”
“It’s easier for you to get it, considering our positions. What, are you still too embarrassed to get the lube?”
It irked Kei to no ends at how much Ushio reveled in teasing him at times like these.
“Shut up. I’ll get it, okay? I’ll you get you a hundred of them.”
“Just how slippery and wet do you want to get?”
Kei stretched over as far as he could to get the bottle of lube stored inside of the headboard of the bed. When he returned to face Ushio, Ushio put his hand out below Kei’s chest.
“Squeeze some out for me.”
Kei didn’t know how much to use because Ushio had always taken the lead with these things.
“Whatever you like.”
He didn’t know; that was why he had asked. With no other choice, Kei popped open the cap, inverted the bottle, and squeezed some of the thick, bubble-filled lubricant into Ushio’s hand. He felt like he had soiled Ushio in squeezing out the lube himself, and it made him a little aroused.
As Ushio spread the lube over his fingers, he whispered, “Somehow I just realized that it’s not as cold as it was in winter.”
There’s something wrong with you if this is how you notice that spring is coming.
The well-lubricated hand once again headed back to its destination, looking to tame that little hole.
“It’s wetter now, right?”
“I don’t… know…nhh…”
Kei could only remember the fevered heat he felt whenever they were having sex.
Kei wrapped both hands around Ushio’s neck and held his breath. A finger had made its way halfway inside of him, searching him out. Desire had yet to awaken there, and it slowly stroked and stretched him. With every movement, he could hear the wet sounds of squelching in between the finger and the rim of his hole. His skin tingled with expectation, a promise of things to come, but without any other foreplay to stimulate him, it was hard to shake the foreign feeling inside of him. It was strange; how did he feel good from this again?
There was a look of want in Ushio’s eyes, and so Kei kissed him once again. Over and over again, they exchanged kisses, like twittering birds, learning each other’s lips as they gradually turned soft and swollen.
As they kissed, the foreign feeling inside of him melted like candy.
Ushio’s tongue invaded his mouth. After playing around inside, it retreated briefly only to invade him once again. The finger playing with his backside mirrored the movements in his mouth exactly, and when Kei realized this, his ears burned a deep red. Pushing in, then pulling out, shallow at first, then deeper inside—the base of his tongue tingled, and a restlessness grew inside him beyond where Ushio’s finger could reach. The lube had warmed up to his body temperature. Different parts of his body were being licked and invaded so much that what should he do if he wasn’t able to speak properly after he went back to work? Every time Ushio nibbled on the tip of his tongue, he could feel his arousal soak through him like sweet fruit nectar.
He keened from the pleasure, a little scared at the finger rubbing at his inner walls, dragging upwards, back and forth against him.
“Ah, ah, noo…”
Kei arched his back sharply as the finger pressed into the pleasure center buried inside of his body. He squirmed like a cat trying to get away, but what he wanted was the complete opposite. He wanted more. Ushio wrapped an arm around Kei’s back, bringing his body up against his chest, and granted his wish.
“Nnhhh, ahhh, ah…!”
His cock hadn’t even been touched, but it got harder and harder as if an invisible wire was sending sparks directly to it. His hole gasped around two of Ushio’s fingers, and Kei forgot all about his hardness. Given his current state, why did he even wonder that he might not get pleasure from this?
Kei was rubbed hard inside, and he felt his spine trembling like a wave. It was getting more difficult to support himself, and the bend of his knees sank lower and lower. He ended up swallowing Ushio’s fingers deep inside him and arched his head back in response.
“Noo… Stop… touching me there…”
“You want me to take my fingers out?” Ushio asked, despite knowing damn well what Kei meant.
“No, not— Ah, ahhh, noo…”
His entire body trembled down to the tips of his fingers with the continuous stimulation. Slumped on his knees, Kei found Ushio’s gaze right in front of his face. There was nowhere he could hide, and they were so close that Kei averted his eyes out of embarrassment.
God, again with that indulgent-looking expression of his. Idiot. This is the only time that he ever looks like this.
Kei wanted to look, but he couldn’t look directly at Ushio.
“Look at me.”
“No, I don’t wanna, stupid…”
“I’m embarrassed too, so don’t worry about it so much.”
“Stop lying all the time!”
“I’m telling you the truth.”
Ushio twisted his fingers inside of Kei like he was testing how obedient Kei had become, and it made a mortifyingly obscene sound where he was completely smeared with lube. He could feel Ushio’s breath over one of his eyelids, and it was so hot he wondered if his eyelashes would burn into little pieces.
“You… really are beautiful,” Ushio whispered as he took heavy breaths that felt like fire.
“That’s not what… you said earlier… nhh…”
He would never forget the humiliation of being called ugly.
“Well, you were making a terrible face at the time, and so I said what I thought, but I’m serious now too.”
Kei didn’t know if he should be pleased or not.
“…You really baffle me, you know,” Ushio said.
That was Kei’s line. Ushio didn’t scorn him when he found out about this troublesome personality of his; he thought it was interesting. He had insinuated himself so deeply inside of Kei’s heart—not just his heart, but his entire being—that Kei could feel himself changing because of him.
Just what the hell are you?
It was a question that he would probably never have an answer for in this lifetime. But it was okay; he didn’t need one.
“Kei, raise your hips for me.”
When Kei got back up on his knees, he pulled down his underwear with his sweatpants. His released cock sprang to attention and swelled larger at the stimulation from the fingers pulling out from behind him.
Ushio unzipped the front of his jeans to release his own cock, displaying it openly for Kei and said, “Sit down, just like this. I’m going to put it in now.”
The fingers that had been playing inside of him now helped him spread open the secret little entrance of his. When he felt the tip of Ushio’s cock up against his hole, the unfamiliar position he was in made him afraid of the heat and the hardness.
“Ahhh, no, I’m scared… ngh…”
“It’s okay. It’s only what we always do.”
“I won’t do anything that’ll hurt.”
Ushio lightly stroked Kei’s flushed cock, and Kei lost all strength in his legs and folded down on himself. He swallowed the tip inside, and it was a desire more densely concentrated than what he felt from the fingers.
“God, your body feels good. Let me go deeper.”
“Ah, ah, ahh…”
The sweat that collected at the back of his knees should have felt disgusting, but Kei felt nothing of the sort no matter how wet, how slimy, or how sticky he got when they made love. He felt like his heart was naked and washed clean from all of the filth and dirt that had stained his mask. No matter how many masks he wore, they were all stripped away and tossed.
“Ahhh, ahh… Ushio…”
“—Ahhh. Do you feel that? I’m all inside. It’s good, right?”
Ushio caressed the spot right over Kei’s tailbone as if he wanted Kei to know just how deeply he penetrated him. With Ushio’s arousal fully lodged inside of him, Kei leaned in to bite a kiss from his lips. Their fires became one inside of him, burning and smoldering.
“Nhh, ahh, ngh…”
“Are you calmed down now?” Ushio unwrapped Kei’s arms from around his neck and guided his hands against the wall.
“What are you—”
“Here, do your best to move on your own.”
“I don’t wanna.”
“I-It’s too much work…”
“…Don’t shamelessly say you want to lie there and do nothing.”
Whose fault is it that my body feels like jelly right now?
Ushio gave a light thrust of his hips, hitting him deeper than usual, and pleasure burst inside of him.
“…Kei, move for me.”
Dammit, do you think I’ll do whatever you ask when you use that voice of yours? You’re right, I can’t help myself, stupid.
Kei slowly lifted his hips, and it was like he was rubbing against rough-textured wallpaper as he slid up—he almost writhed in agony at the loss of Ushio’s fullness inside of him. Then he took a deep breath as he reversed his motions, filling himself up once more with Ushio, feeling the ecstasy and lust down to the ends of his hair.
Kei couldn’t make large movements; it was all he could do to rock up and down little by little, but the short, little rhythm sent tiny bullets of desire to the innermost depths of his body, slowly accumulating and filling his cock.
He rubbed up against his weak spot, and his hands inadvertently slipped from the wall. Ushio grabbed his wrists to support him back up against it.
“That I get my own personal wall slam.”
Uh, no, this can no longer be called a wall slam, idiot.
“I know it’s for work, but I can’t say I’m too happy that you have to give that kind of fan service to people watching you on TV.”
“You’re so stupid… Ah, I can’t… do this anymore.”
“Liar. You’re moving your hips just fine.”
“No— I don’t wanna.”
“I-I wanna hold you close, so you do it.”
Kei bumped their foreheads together (with a little too much force by accident) to try to persuade him.
Ushio said, “Ow,” and started to grumble. “Here I was thinking you only had terrible lines, but you can say something good sometimes.”
“And unlike you, I’m not lying about it…”
Stop laughing and deny it, dammit.
Ushio used his hands holding onto Kei’s hips to thrust deeper into Kei, and then he slipped his hands to the inner sides of Kei’s legs to scoop his knees up, holding him splayed open and in place.
“Ah, ah, no, ahhh!”
Ushio drilled into him, harder than Kei could manage by himself, and his desire was swollen to the limit as Kei shot his load.
“Nhh, ah, ah, wait, no…”
“I can’t,” Ushio grunted mindlessly, starting up a ruthless rhythm between them.
“Aaah, ahh, noo, aaaaahhh, ahhhh…”
Kei had just come, and the continual stimulation should have been painful for him, but the place where he was joined was ready to leave behind the lingering memory of his release, hungry for the next one, greedily slurping and sucking down Ushio’s length.
“It really is hard to move like this. ……It’s too slow.”
Just as Kei was wondering if Ushio had moved to his heart’s content, Ushio abruptly shifted his weight to topple Kei backwards into the sheets, all the while he was inside of him.
With the sudden change in position, the hardness inside of him was brutal and merciless.
Ushio hammered into Kei, his hardness even larger than before, almost lifting Kei’s hips off the bed with each thrust. They were intimately joined in a clammy heat and slickness as Ushio’s hard cock repeatedly struck pleasure.
“Ahh— Ahh, no, I’m gonna fall…”
There was nowhere to go but off the side of the bed, and Kei’s head nudged off of the edge into the air. His entire body was assaulted by an arousal that disconnected him from reality, and he felt like he was about to fall headlong into an abyss much farther away than the floor. Ushio detached the hands that were clinging to both of his arms to bring them up around his neck.
“Don’t you want to hold me close?”
Kei clung to Ushio, digging himself in, feeling completely filled up with Ushio, just waiting for the last bit to be fully saturated. Ushio held him back tightly, thrusting in and nearly splitting him apart.
“Ahh, aaaahhh, ahhh…!!”
They held onto each other like statues, waiting for the pounding of their hearts to eventually settle.