Ebisu Hoseida, owner of all of the cotton mills within sight of Musashino Mountain, sighed as he wiggled his hips into the pillows and held his young consort's silken black-haired head in his lap. Toshiro was working vigorously on trying to bring Ebisu's cock alive, but it was slow going.

Ebisu cursed his luck. Forty years building his fortune and begetting sons off of the ugly but fruitful and wealthy Akiko, and now, when he had entered the reward-enjoyment phase of his life, the double curse. He had nurtured the young and handsome Toshiro, knowing full well that someday he could leave his family behind at the court of the Emperor in Kyoto and retreat to his Musashino Mountain home with Toshiro to enjoy his mature years fucking how and who he pleased. And it wasn't just that. He truly loved Toshiro; he had desired him for years before he could touch him. And then, when Toshiro had matured enough, Ebisu had extended the invitation of sharing the Tea of the Full Moon with him, afraid, even though he was the chujen summoning a vassal he basically owned, that there would be a form of rejection. He was confident that Toshiro would accept the offer-that was his responsibility to his master-but Ebisu loved Toshiro and wanted it to be a union of mutual acceptance and desire.

Toshiro had been as shy as a bride. Handsome and beautifully formed, Toshiro had been demur and had trembled even before the touch. He had sat there, on the pavilion platform, under the moon as it opened wide into full blossom-just as Ebisu envisioned Toshiro opening wide to him, and tasted of the tea Ebisu had offered, the specially imbued tea that heightened some senses and dulled others, hardened the yangchu, the cock-and loosened inhibitions and opened the channel.

Toshiro was already sighing softly as Ebisu moved his hand within the folds of Toshiro's kimono. The vassal flinched as Ebisu took a nipple between his thumb and forefinger and rolled it-but Toshiro did none of the things that signaled rejection or reluctance. Instead he moaned in a sound that came up from the very depths of him. Throwing all caution and ceremony aside, Ebisu had clawed at the sash of both his and Toshiro's kimonos, and he was pulling the loved one he had waited for-not patiently-but waited for, for years into his lap and was assaulting Toshiro's virginal hole with his ready cock, barely giving the younger man sufficient time to open to him. Toshiro lost his chenchieh, his chastity, quickly in a violent, passionate taking. But, though he cried out upon full possession and panted heavily and whimpered at the taking, Toshiro gave himself fully, giving Ebisu no cause to lessen his love or his insatiable desire for his handsome vassal. And thus was how Toshiro rose many levels of importance in the House of Hoseida.

And now, a few short years later, although Toshiro had been willing to leave the opportunities of Kyoto and become Ebisu's mountain-retreat consort in exchange for comfort and a position in the household and a promise of a large inheritance, Ebisu was having trouble performing as he desired.

The second curse was connected with the first. Ebisu was dying. Knowing that something was wrong inside, he had accepted the diagnosis-even had resigned himself to it beforehand. But he was keeping it to himself. In his world any sign of weakness could be a death sentence, a massive shock to the balances within a large household. His golden years would not be gold; they would not even be silver. They would be bitter, and they would not even be years. Bitter fruit. Bitter fruit indeed. He sighed again, willing his cock to harden, wanting to forget the real and the ironic in fucking the handsome Toshiro.

Part of the problem, Ebisu reasoned as he flinched and felt a little spark of arousal when Toshiro took his balls in his mouth and started rolling them around in his cheeks while working on Ebisu's cock with his long, slender fingers, was that he had felt little warmth in Toshiro recently. There had been plenty of fire in Toshiro's belly back in Kyoto, when their trysts were a dangerous game and Ebisu was fucking him in the very bed of the despised Akiko, who Toshiro reveled in made to look a fool among all of the servants. And when each coupling added to the height of Toshiro's position in the household. But here, up in the isolated mountains, with no mystery or risk and no distractions other than Ebisu, contemplating being no more than a catamite for the rest of Ebisu's life, Toshiro's desires had gone dull.

There was progress on the rising of Ebisu's cock, but at a glacial pace. Seeing the problem and not wanting to have to stand by in service and watch this upstart Toshiro worming his way into Ebisu's heart for hours on end yet, Ebisu's major domo leaned down and whispered in his master's ear.

"Perhaps some entertainment, chujen. I have something that you may find very helpful. A dancer, all the way from the Philippines. Young, strong, old enough, but not appearing so. Perhaps if the chujen pleases, and Toshiro is unable . . ."

Toshiro snapped his head up, instantaneously sensing the danger to his position. He tried, not altogether successfully, not to flash a hateful look at the major domo. It was always household struggles for power in the homes of the Meiji elite. Toshiro threatened the major domo's position, who, in turn, held Toshiro in check. But the balance had changed. With Akiko out of the picture, Toshiro was on the ascent-unless the major domo could somehow neutralize that. The dancer hadn't just been passing through nor had he been an afterthought of any sort. The Filipino dancer was a card the major domo was playing.

Toshiro had been raised in the large extended-family Hoseida household. He had known the effect he had on the chujen from an early age. He had cared neither for women or men all that much, but he cared for himself-and, he had to admit, he had grown fond of his chujen as well. He was playing the cards he was dealt. He put a little more effort into arousing Ebisu's manhood, using his tongue more on the slit in the cock bulb and swallowing Ebisu whole and putting pressure on the root with his teeth. Ebisu squirmed and gave a little moan and thickened-a bit, not much.

"Yes, yes," Ebisu answered in slight irritation. "If I am paying for a dancing boy, let me see the dancing boy." He was waving dismissively at the major domo. But the major domo knew his chujen well from long service. He had acquired an edge.

"Not a dancing boy," the major domo said as he leaned down and murmured to Ebisu and said in a silky, suggestive voice. "Fully manned-with a man's talents and full experience-but the aspect and size of a boy-although, as you will see, not everywhere. Like Jomei. You remember Jomei?"

The major domo looked down at his reclining master with the countenance of pure innocence. Toshiro gazed sideways at the major domo in suspicion as he worked Ebisu's cock in his mouth.

Yes, Ebisu definitely did remember Sensei Jomei. A beautiful boy-but not really a boy. And not even a youth. He had the gift of perpetual youth. He had been Ebisu's tutor, his sensei, and, in addition to teaching young Ebisu the classics, he had also taught him the ways of the world-which included teaching him how to take a cock-Jomei's-and then when Ebisu himself was fully manned, Jomei had given himself to his student, fully, and thus taught him the pleasure that Ebisu had craved all of his adult life, while he was doing his duty to his ancestors, and that he now was trying to fully enjoy on Musashino Mountain.

Toshiro felt the stirring of the cock in his mouth and the rumble of a sigh stirring through the chujen's body. Who was this Jomei, he wondered. And in what way could he endanger Toshiro's position? How was he to know that Jomei had died when Toshiro was still a boy-in fact just before Ebisu had turned his eyes to the promising young beautiful boy serving in his wife's bedchamber? Still, Toshiro sensed a present danger. The major domo should not be this pleased.

Music started from singsong girls beyond the Western Pavilion curtains, and a young boy minced onto the tatami matting in front of the bed of pillows where Ebisu was reclined and Toshiro was bent over his half-hard cock.

But it wasn't a boy. Ebisu could see that now. It was a young man. The major domo had called him the Filipino. He was small, but perfectly formed, with a cock and balls of a man much larger than he was evident inside the diaphanous transparent, billowy pantaloons that were his only clothing other than the gold-bangled belt that was duplicated in bands around his ankles, wrists, and biceps. The richly dark-skinned dancer moved with supreme, undulating grace. He never was still the entire time he danced. And he danced beautifully, mesmerizingly.

Ebisu was interested, but only slightly aroused-at least by the dance of the Filipino.

When Toshiro looked up, however, he was smitten and drowned in the beauty of the movement of the dancer. His own arousal was instantaneous. And this was transferred in the love he made to Ebisu's cock. The electricity of Toshiro's arousal flowed through to Ebisu, and his cock became almost as proudly erect as it had when he had first taken Toshiro.

Seeing his chance and his need to solidify his position, Toshiro rose, took Ebisu's cock in his hand and slowly descended his ass canal on the now-hard member. He did so, though, with his back against Ebisu's chest. Toshiro sensed-correctly-that the dancer was the catalyst. That his own arousal for the dancer had flowed through to Ebisu. And he knew without a doubt that it was Ebisu's arousal that had to be maintained. Ebisu encircled Toshiro's chest as Toshiro fucked himself on Ebisu's cock and tweaked his young consort's nipples. Toshiro answered in the moanings that he knew were expected and desired-and that were further arousing to the chujen. He turned his head and they kissed.

When Toshiro turned his attention back to the dancer, he gasped and gulped in breath. The dancer had shed his pantaloons. He was holding his overlong cock in his hand and swinging it as he undulated his body. And there was a thick golden bar piercing the head of his cock.

Toshiro had never seen such as this before-and it put him into an arousal such as he had never felt before. His channel and hips went into overdrive, and his groans and moans mounted to meet the cries of desire coming from Ebisu. And Ebisu exploded in a flowing that he had not managed in nearly a month.

Yes, he could die happy, he thought. If he could just experience this once again each day before he died. Memories of Jomei swam up and clutched at him, and his love for his Toshiro overflowed in tears of appreciation.

Toshiro sighed and snuggled back into the embrace of his chujen, feeling the vitality of the old man wash away, knowing that his position in the House of Hoseida had been safe gained for at least one more day.

The major domo ushered the dancer out of the room. He was not really displeased at Toshiro's success with Ebisu. In fact, he was very pleased with Toshiro's reaction to the Filipino. It fit into his plans precisely.

Later that night, Ebisu stirred in his sleep-the pain in his chest almost unbearable. He could not sleep because of it. Would this be the night, he wondered. He had been told it would not be this soon-but soon enough. But how does mere man know of the plans of the ancestors anyway, Ebisu thought bitterly-but not without acceptance of inevitability, which was blessed by a sense of peace.

He turned and reached for Toshiro. But he was not there.

He rose, worried about where Toshiro had gone. Wanting him there, holding him, if this was to be the night. On silent feet and covered only by a soft, cotton yukata, Ebisu padded to the chamber that was Toshiro's when Ebisu preferred solitude.

He heard the sounds of passion before he reached the room. He knew what they signified. But who? Who could it be? He moved ever so quietly to the chamber opening and pulled aside the silken covering over the door.

Toshiro was on his back amid the pillows, arms thrown akimbo over his head, head lolled to the side with a glazed look of deep satisfaction on his face, legs spread wide, and the Filipino between his legs, fucking him with long, strong strokes with that oversized cock of his. Toshiro had already cum-twice-lost in the maddening rubbings of the large gold bar through the Filipino's cock deep inside his channel.

If he had had a sword, Ebisu would have rushed them both and dispatched them there and then. How dare they? Under his roof, under his protection. But just as he was about to burst into the room, there was a dull, panicking thud in his chest. A missing of a beat or a bursting of something? There was no telling, but suddenly Ebisu could not breath, and there was a painful pounding in his chest. Instead of confronting the two, he withdrew to his own room and willed himself to be calm and still and to hope that the pain would pass, which, in time it did. Even though he was trying to remain calm, that did not prevent him from thinking. And his thoughts turned to possibilities. The more he thought the more he realized that he could not do without Toshiro. He could as easily have killed himself as to either kill Toshiro or even lose him. No, life would go on as usual with Toshiro-as long as Ebisu still had life in him. But the dancer. The Filipino dancer. There was much that could be done to him. And perhaps what Toshiro and he needed was a radical change of scene. Ebisu had always wanted to visit America-and now in the early days of the 1930s and with an awakening Japan, Ebisu's instincts were that-beyond his health-the time would be closing when he could do that. Perhaps he would take Toshiro to America on a visit. Far, far away from his home environment, Toshiro would be even more at Ebisu's emotional mercy. At length, Ebisu's pain eased and his thoughts became more muddled, and then he slept.

The major domo had seen it all. Not only the wild fucking of Toshiro by the Filipino dancer, who the major domo himself had led to Toshiro's room, but the voyeurism of Ebisu as well. When Ebisu withdrew, so did the major domo-a little disappointed that Ebisu did not intervene straight away and do what needed to be done, but at least with the knowledge that he had mixed up the relationships inside the House of Hoseida. And as long as the relationships were in flux, there was always the possibility that his own position would be enhanced.

Meanwhile, the Filipino and Toshiro fucked on, Toshiro never before having been taken so vigorously and expertly and with such stamina-meltingly so from one who seemed only a boy-and certainly not with a gold bar caressing every fold deep inside his channel. Toshiro felt the stirrings of deeper feeling than lust. Toshiro was beginning to have an inkling of what constituted love.

* * * *

It was a great honor-and an opportunity, more than one opportunity Ebisu eventually would realize-when Prince Bishamon of Nagoyama, the quartermaster general of the Imperial Japanese Army, had chosen to visit the Hoseida cotton mills. The army had been building, preparing ever since the glorious defeat of the formidable Russian fleet in the Tsushima Straits fifteen years earlier. Ebisu had a keen business sense, and it had been fortuitous that the prince had been amenable to an evening's entertainment after they had toured the busy mills in the Musashino valley.

"It is a daunting task," the prince said with a sigh from the comfort of the pavilion platform's pillows-mellow and relaxed by the proffered food and drink-and not least by the special entertainment that Ebisu knew the prince enjoyed when it could be obtained on the sly. They sat back and indulged in the choice tidbits and gazed down into the misty valley below Musashino Mountain. Their mood mellowed as they listened to the sweet song and shamisen playing in the near distance behind the silken curtains and gazed on the undulating movements of the Filipino dancer on the tatami matting between them and the drop off to the valley below. Ebisu, long a secret connoisseur himself, knew of Prince Bishamon's appreciation for the artistic and the exotic and the male-indeed he had been mulling whether to let Toshiro join the evening's party at all, given the prince's proclivities. But Toshiro was there, presented as Ebisu's son, and the even more enticing Filipino dancer had been produced to focus the prince's interest.

"A daunting task, you say?" Ebisu murmured, hoping he could bring the desultory chat back to cotton cloth.

He was in luck here. "Yes, we have a destiny, you know, Ebisu. Our land of the rising sun is destined to gain influence and presence far beyond our small islands. Our success in defeating the hulking Russian bear has shown us our destiny. We are preparing for it, Ebisu. Your son, like the sons of so many others, will help bring us into glory in honor of our Emperor."

The prince had looked over and smiled benignly at Toshiro, who had taken on the look of a frightened deer.

Ebisu was equally frightened at the prince's offhand, casual-only to himself-remark. Ebisu had known war was coming. He had, however, not connected Toshiro and his youth and well-formed body in any way to needs of the militarizing state. But of course they were. Not just in the prince's eyes, eyes consumed with war planning, but in objective reality as well. Ebisu had a pang of panic, accompanied with that ever-unwelcome ominous thump in his chest.

But the prince continued on, completely unaware of the upsetting thought he had inserted into the House of Hoseida. Standing to the side, the major domo, however, didn't miss the possibilities, and he smiled to himself. Yet another thread of opportunity to tend to and help along.

The prince sighed heavily as he licked his lips, eyes focused on the graceful and provocative movements of the Filipino. "So many soldiers and so much cotton cloth needed for uniforms," he said.

"The Hoseida mills would be honored to serve," Ebisu responded in a low, throaty voice. Although disquieted by the thought of Toshiro being wrenched from him and going to war, Ebisu knew such a commission could bring the Hoseidas of Musashino back into the highest ranks of favored families.

"Yes, such a difficult decision," the prince murmured in a heavy measured tone.

Something in the prince's voice made Ebisu look at him. The prince was not looking at Ebisu but at the Filipino dancer, who had now shed his diaphanous pantaloons. The front of the prince's kimono was tented out at the crotch. And Ebisu knew instantly what was needed to influence the Imperial Army quartermaster's decision on a uniform cloth provisioned. The prince's appetites in all things artistic and beautiful were legendary.

Ebisu was equally suddenly aware of the opportunity to part the Filipino dancer from Toshiro-and in a way that would please Ebisu's jealous sense of violation. Every night since that first coupling that Ebisu had observed between Toshiro and the Filipino, Toshiro had stolen off and sighed at the plunging cock of the Filipino with its thick, gold cock bar. And just the previous night, Ebisu's inflamed heart had hardened to stone as he heard Toshiro declare to the dance at the satisfaction side of passion a love that went beyond the Flipino's cocking as they embraced and let their bodies cool from the fucking.

"What? Excuse me. What did you say?" Ebisu murmured to the prince, whose startling offer had pulled Ebisu out of his troubling thoughts.

"Please do feel free to send your son, Toshiro, to me in Tokyo. I believe two month's time would be good. I will ensure he is provided a favorable place in the Emperor's building army."

It was both a generous offer and a binding command. Ebisu felt trapped. His hand went to his chest, as if he could calm the heavy, irregular beating, which Ebisu was afraid everyone on the pavilion platform could hear. This was one troubling thought too many. Perhaps two troubling thoughts. Not only the thought of Toshiro eaten up in the jaws of combat but also that eye of appreciation the prince was casting toward the young man. Ebisu could not bear the thought of giving Toshiro over to the clutches of the prince any more than he could bear the thought of losing Toshiro from his own bed.

Later, in the darkest hour of the night, Ebisu held a trembling, writhing Toshiro close in his arms, both too keyed up to even try to couple, Ebisu grimly smiling and Toshiro quietly crying, as both listened to the screams of the Filipino drifting down the corridor from the main guest chamber, where the prince and his riding crop were indulging in the prince's favorite pastime. Toshiro was shriven by the thought of what was happening to his new lover, but Ebisu was possessed by the image of it happening to Toshiro as well once he was sent to Tokyo and placed under the prince's sponsorship.

* * * *

The day of the Filipino's sending away to Prince Bishamon unfolded sunless. Mists spun down off the mountain into the fields below the Hoseida pavilion platform and refused to provide entry for the sun's warmth.

Ebisu found Toshiro sobbing in his chamber. The master embraced the consort in his arms and rocked him back and forth, but Toshiro's sobs were inconsolable.

Ebisu was having trouble controlling his own emotions as well-and even having trouble discerning all of the conflicting emotions at play. He was sad and distressed. But he was aroused too at the vulnerability and depths of emotion in his young lover-who could not bring himself to tell Ebisu what Ebisu already knew.

Toshiro was in unintentionally fetching dishabille, having not left his chamber in days. He was wearing a cotton yukata, which had fallen away from his body, and he writhed, almost naked, achingly beautiful of body, within the embrace of his chujen. Miraculously Ebisu's cock was hardening, and Toshiro willingly and fully gave himself to his master, opening his legs, rolling Ebisu over on his back and mounting his pelvis, pulling Ebisu's cock inside him, and riding him in an undulating movement of a ship on rolling sea. Sobbing away but giving his chujen full measure of what he was there for.

In grateful flow, loving Toshiro more deeply than ever, Ebisu ejaculated what he suspected was his last spouting of Hoseida seed from his loins, all the more moved and appreciative in this revelation.

Holding the trembling Toshiro in his arms, he whispered. "You are willing to stay with me forever? To be taken to cross over with me if that is what I desire."

"Yes, sire. I am yours forever," Toshiro murmured without hesitation.

And Ebisu believed his young lover-that Toshiro would maintain the honor of his position in the Hoseida household to the death, if necessary, even though his heart was with another, who was being sent away to a cruel task master.

"Here," Ebisu said in a low, gravely voice, as he sat up and took two folders out of the folds of his robe. "I came here, not knowing what I would do with these. But take them. And go. They include unlimited access to my international accounts. And take the Filipino with you. Quickly, before the prince's escort arrives."

Toshiro sat up in bed and took the folders in shaking hands, trying to focus on them through his bitter tears. "What? I don't understand . . . but these are tickets. Boat tickets. For America. Chujen . . .?"

"These are your freedom, Toshiro. Yours and the Filipino's. I know it is not me that you love. And I love you so much that I cannot hold you here any longer-knowing what looms on the close horizon for Japan-and for me. Go, now. Before I change my mind."

"But the prince . . ."

"Yes the prince will be angry. But the prince is resilient. And I no longer care to see my cotton rotting on the bodies of dead soldiers in the killing fields. Go. Now. Find the Filipino and go."

When Ebisu was alone with the ominous beating of his heart, he became the one sobbing into the pillows of the bed in Toshiro's chambers. No greater love. He refused to dwell on the knowledge that the travel tickets had been acquired to be used by Toshiro and himself.

In the shadows, beyond the slitted silken drape at one of the chamber's door, stood the major domo. Having heard everything, he puffed out his chest, very pleased with the turn of events. His duty to Madame Akiko now fulfilled and without half the effort he had assumed would be necessary. The House of Musashino returning to safe, dull routine, with his own position further enhanced. And it would not be long now. It was obvious that the chujen was dying. Everyone knew it. He had even heard Toshiro whispering to the Filipino about it. A good thing that Ebisu had no idea of the depth of Toshiro's loyalty when he had agreed to pass over to the ancestors with Ebisu, if that was what Ebisu wanted.

What was this thing called love, the major domo mused. And how could it possibly exist between men? Or the sense of honor, loyalty, and obligation, for that matter? Oh, well, thoughts for another day. The major domo now had to look to the preparation of that rich food and drink that he knew Ebisu could not resist and that Toshiro was no longer around to urge him to forego. Later, in the darkest hour of the night, Ebisu held a trembling, writhing Toshiro close in his arms, both too keyed up to even try to couple, Ebisu grimly smiling and Toshiro quietly crying, as both listened to the screams of the Filipino drifting down the corridor from the main guest chamber, where the prince and his riding crop were indulging in the prince's favorite pastime. Toshiro was shriven by the thought of what was happening to his new lover, but Ebisu was possessed by the image of it happening to Toshiro as well once he was sent to Tokyo and placed under the prince's sponsorship.

* * * *

The day of the Filipino's sending away to Prince Bishamon unfolded sunless. Mists spun down off the mountain into the fields below the Hoseida pavilion platform and refused to provide entry for the sun's warmth.

Ebisu found Toshiro sobbing in his chamber. The master embraced the consort in his arms and rocked him back and forth, but Toshiro's sobs were inconsolable.

Ebisu was having trouble controlling his own emotions as well-and even having trouble discerning all of the conflicting emotions at play. He was sad and distressed. But he was aroused too at the vulnerability and depths of emotion in his young lover-who could not bring himself to tell Ebisu what Ebisu already knew.

Toshiro was in unintentionally fetching dishabille, having not left his chamber in days. He was wearing a cotton yukata, which had fallen away from his body, and he writhed, almost naked, achingly beautiful of body, within the embrace of his chujen. Miraculously Ebisu's cock was hardening, and Toshiro willingly and fully gave himself to his master, opening his legs, rolling Ebisu over on his back and mounting his pelvis, pulling Ebisu's cock inside him, and riding him in an undulating movement of a ship on rolling sea. Sobbing away but giving his chujen full measure of what he was there for.

In grateful flow, loving Toshiro more deeply than ever, Ebisu ejaculated what he suspected was his last spouting of Hoseida seed from his loins, all the more moved and appreciative in this revelation.

Holding the trembling Toshiro in his arms, he whispered. "You are willing to stay with me forever? To be taken to cross over with me if that is what I desire."

"Yes, sire. I am yours forever," Toshiro murmured without hesitation.

And Ebisu believed his young lover-that Toshiro would maintain the honor of his position in the Hoseida household to the death, if necessary, even though his heart was with another, who was being sent away to a cruel task master.

"Here," Ebisu said in a low, gravely voice, as he sat up and took two folders out of the folds of his robe. "I came here, not knowing what I would do with these. But take them. And go. They include unlimited access to my international accounts. And take the Filipino with you. Quickly, before the prince's escort arrives."

Toshiro sat up in bed and took the folders in shaking hands, trying to focus on them through his bitter tears. "What? I don't understand . . . but these are tickets. Boat tickets. For America. Chujen . . .?"

"These are your freedom, Toshiro. Yours and the Filipino's. I know it is not me that you love. And I love you so much that I cannot hold you here any longer-knowing what looms on the close horizon for Japan-and for me. Go, now. Before I change my mind."

"But the prince . . ."

"Yes the prince will be angry. But the prince is resilient. And I no longer care to see my cotton rotting on the bodies of dead soldiers in the killing fields. Go. Now. Find the Filipino and go."

When Ebisu was alone with the ominous beating of his heart, he became the one sobbing into the pillows of the bed in Toshiro's chambers. No greater love. He refused to dwell on the knowledge that the travel tickets had been acquired to be used by Toshiro and himself.

In the shadows, beyond the slitted silken drape at one of the chamber's door, stood the major domo. Having heard everything, he puffed out his chest, very pleased with the turn of events. His duty to Madame Akiko now fulfilled and without half the effort he had assumed would be necessary. The House of Musashino returning to safe, dull routine, with his own position further enhanced. And it would not be long now. It was obvious that the chujen was dying. Everyone knew it. He had even heard Toshiro whispering to the Filipino about it. A good thing that Ebisu had no idea of the depth of Toshiro's loyalty when he had agreed to pass over to the ancestors with Ebisu, if that was what Ebisu wanted.

What was this thing called love, the major domo mused. And how could it possibly exist between men? Or the sense of honor, loyalty, and obligation, for that matter? Oh, well, thoughts for another day. The major domo now had to look to the preparation of that rich food and drink that he knew Ebisu could not resist and that Toshiro was no longer around to urge him to forego. Later, in the darkest hour of the night, Ebisu held a trembling, writhing Toshiro close in his arms, both too keyed up to even try to couple, Ebisu grimly smiling and Toshiro quietly crying, as both listened to the screams of the Filipino drifting down the corridor from the main guest chamber, where the prince and his riding crop were indulging in the prince's favorite pastime. Toshiro was shriven by the thought of what was happening to his new lover, but Ebisu was possessed by the image of it happening to Toshiro as well once he was sent to Tokyo and placed under the prince's sponsorship.

* * * *

The day of the Filipino's sending away to Prince Bishamon unfolded sunless. Mists spun down off the mountain into the fields below the Hoseida pavilion platform and refused to provide entry for the sun's warmth.

Ebisu found Toshiro sobbing in his chamber. The master embraced the consort in his arms and rocked him back and forth, but Toshiro's sobs were inconsolable.

Ebisu was having trouble controlling his own emotions as well-and even having trouble discerning all of the conflicting emotions at play. He was sad and distressed. But he was aroused too at the vulnerability and depths of emotion in his young lover-who could not bring himself to tell Ebisu what Ebisu already knew.

Toshiro was in unintentionally fetching dishabille, having not left his chamber in days. He was wearing a cotton yukata, which had fallen away from his body, and he writhed, almost naked, achingly beautiful of body, within the embrace of his chujen. Miraculously Ebisu's cock was hardening, and Toshiro willingly and fully gave himself to his master, opening his legs, rolling Ebisu over on his back and mounting his pelvis, pulling Ebisu's cock inside him, and riding him in an undulating movement of a ship on rolling sea. Sobbing away but giving his chujen full measure of what he was there for.

In grateful flow, loving Toshiro more deeply than ever, Ebisu ejaculated what he suspected was his last spouting of Hoseida seed from his loins, all the more moved and appreciative in this revelation.

Holding the trembling Toshiro in his arms, he whispered. "You are willing to stay with me forever? To be taken to cross over with me if that is what I desire."

"Yes, sire. I am yours forever," Toshiro murmured without hesitation.

And Ebisu believed his young lover-that Toshiro would maintain the honor of his position in the Hoseida household to the death, if necessary, even though his heart was with another, who was being sent away to a cruel task master.

"Here," Ebisu said in a low, gravely voice, as he sat up and took two folders out of the folds of his robe. "I came here, not knowing what I would do with these. But take them. And go. They include unlimited access to my international accounts. And take the Filipino with you. Quickly, before the prince's escort arrives."

Toshiro sat up in bed and took the folders in shaking hands, trying to focus on them through his bitter tears. "What? I don't understand . . . but these are tickets. Boat tickets. For America. Chujen . . .?"

"These are your freedom, Toshiro. Yours and the Filipino's. I know it is not me that you love. And I love you so much that I cannot hold you here any longer-knowing what looms on the close horizon for Japan-and for me. Go, now. Before I change my mind."

"But the prince . . ."

"Yes the prince will be angry. But the prince is resilient. And I no longer care to see my cotton rotting on the bodies of dead soldiers in the killing fields. Go. Now. Find the Filipino and go."

When Ebisu was alone with the ominous beating of his heart, he became the one sobbing into the pillows of the bed in Toshiro's chambers. No greater love. He refused to dwell on the knowledge that the travel tickets had been acquired to be used by Toshiro and himself.

In the shadows, beyond the slitted silken drape at one of the chamber's door, stood the major domo. Having heard everything, he puffed out his chest, very pleased with the turn of events. His duty to Madame Akiko now fulfilled and without half the effort he had assumed would be necessary. The House of Musashino returning to safe, dull routine, with his own position further enhanced. And it would not be long now. It was obvious that the chujen was dying. Everyone knew it. He had even heard Toshiro whispering to the Filipino about it. A good thing that Ebisu had no idea of the depth of Toshiro's loyalty when he had agreed to pass over to the ancestors with Ebisu, if that was what Ebisu wanted.

What was this thing called love, the major domo mused. And how could it possibly exist between men? Or the sense of honor, loyalty, and obligation, for that matter? Oh, well, thoughts for another day. The major domo now had to look to the preparation of that rich food and drink that he knew Ebisu could not resist and that Toshiro was no longer around to urge him to forego.

 

Habu

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