Hiro didn’t think anything could amaze him more than his brother’s revelation that their family’s prosperity comes from the favor of the kami Inari. Yet Hiro soon learns that Inari’s kitsune, fox spirits who act as messengers, watch over his family in exchange for yearly tribute—and this year, Hiro has been requested as an offering by one of the mysterious fox spirits. Hiro’s brother takes him to a strange mansion one night, and Hiro is left at the mercy of Masaki Kitamura, who has yet to reveal what he has planned for his young visitor…
Masaki gazed into the mirror and watched Hiro talking with his brother.
“Why on earth would he want such a thing?”
Masaki wished he could pass through the mirror and answer Hiro’s question himself. Akira presented the situation as a purely professional relationship, but Masaki had told Akira the truth. He’d come to trust the current head of the family, and Masaki could see he’d been right to do so. Akira had been surprised to hear Masaki confess his feelings for Hiro, but he had also been pleased. Akira believed Hiro was “closeted” and in denial about his desire for the company of other men. Very delicately, Akira had told Masaki about some sketches he’d found once. Masaki knew all about them. He’d even watched Hiro draw many of them, watched the young man touch himself afterwards.
Masaki refocused away from those thoughts. He wasn’t ashamed of his voyeurism—he spied on humans all the time for Inari—but he wanted to see how Hiro would take these revelations. Akira and Hiro continued to talk. Hiro didn’t become angry, but he refused to believe any of the supernatural parts of the story Akira presented to him. Akira showed patience, and before long Hiro said he would consent to the business arrangement with no hesitation if Akira would tell him the truth. Akira sighed, but he didn’t back down. Hiro gazed at the floor a long time, and more than anything, Masaki wanted to touch him, to push his hair away from his face and caress his cheek.
“Fine. I’ll do it, but only for a month or so. My lease is up in a few days. We’ll go then, but I’ll need time to look for a new place. What kind of hours will I have to work? I have a couple of projects to tie up before I begin anything new.”
Masaki’s heart pounded so loudly he didn’t hear what Akira said in reply. Hiro was coming. It didn’t matter that the young man didn’t believe yet. He would soon enough.