“Care to tell us what’s keeping you this occupied?” Raenef asked Feilon when he, his twin Eclipse, and Feilon were lounging in the living room of the Himura Palace. All three of them had been drinking sake for several hours now, catching up on each other’s lives.
“Yeah, tell us! Is he or she pretty?” Eclipse added his two cents.
Feilon rolled his eyes at the identical twins. Well, almost identical. They looked exact duplicates if not for their different hair colors—Raenef’s a pearly white with electric blue streaks in it, and Eclipse’s raven black with blood-red streaks. The twins were the Clan Leaders of the Royal Himura Clan. His Lieges. Being only a few years apart and having grown up with each other, they considered each other brothers rather than Liege and Makhai. As kids, the three were inseparable and spent most of their lives together. Now that they had grown up, and the twins had moved to America, they didn’t spend as much time together as often as they used to do. It hadn’t diminished their bond for one bit and they were still as close as ever.
Feilon chuckled. “Very pretty,” he admitted when an image of Toshiro rose to the front of his mind.
Eclipse and Raenef looked at each other in surprise and amusement at seeing their best friend blush.
“Who is this person and why haven’t we met him or her yet?” Raenef asked while pouring them more sake.
“You can’t meet him. Besides, it’s not what you think. I love him as… a father, or uncle, I suppose,” Feilon said.
“Why can’t we meet him?” Eclipse asked.
Feilon frowned. They shared everything, so he understood the slight hurt of him keeping the twins away from Toshiro. But he felt torn about this; He wanted nothing more than his two best friends, the two whom he loved most in this world, to meet with his boy. But he also couldn’t let Toshiro get too mixed up in his world. The child was human, after all, and he couldn’t afford to make him suspicious. Rumors were already flying about them and his friends. No need to put more oil on the fire. Therefore, he’d decided it would be best to keep his world and that of Toshiro as far away from each other as he could, considering he was living at the Fujiwara compound. He knew he’d be unable to keep his secret from him forever, but it was too soon. The child still depended on him, and he couldn’t risk having him find out until he could take care of himself.
“He’s… human…” Feilon almost whispered, looking at his folded hands in his lap.
His brothers stayed quiet, sharing an unseen look between each other.
Feilon worried they would scold him as well, telling him how stupid he was. That there was no future in this… this relationship. Only pain and hurt in the end. Things he already knew. Instead, warm arms wrapped around him from both sides as they held him. They sat like that for several long minutes until Eclipse broke the silence.
“Are you sure about this? The closer you’ll become to the kid, the harder it will be in the end… I.. I don’t want to see you get hurt,” Eclipse said, nuzzling his neck. He’d only recently started to heal from his own grief caused by falling in love with a human woman. At the time, he thought it was all worth it, but now, he wasn’t too sure anymore. Even though the woman had long since died, his pain still lingered. And he now started to believe that any form of relationship between their kind and humans was doomed to end in suffering. Because the downside of their nature was that their pain would linger with them for a long, long time.
Feilon hugged Eclipse even tighter, knowing his friend was hurting and knew that he was setting himself up for the same pain.
“Sooo… is he worth it?” Eclipse asked to lighten the mood somewhat.
Before he could help himself, Feilon burst out laughing, Raenef and Eclipse joining him.
“Yeah, he’s worth it. He’s the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. And he’s smart too,” Feilon said. “I know I shouldn’t have gotten this attached to him, but I did… I.. I~,”
Raenef kissed him. “Is it that boy you bought from that lousy Tokugawa?” he asked.
Feilon looked at him in surprise.
“What? You think I didn’t know about that?” Raenef said with a straight face.
“Tsk, is there anything I can keep a secret from you?” Feilon said.
Raenef smirked. “Well, I didn’t know how you felt about him. You kept that pretty well-hidden from us. Although we found it rather suspicious how you can’t seem to wait to rush home these past few weeks…”
Feilon scratched the back of his head. It hadn’t been a conscious act, but yes, he had been more home-bound than usual since Toshiro came to live with them. And he enjoyed spending time with him.
“How did your Clan Elders react to the recent addition?” Raenef asked.
“I bet Haruhisa wasn’t too happy about it,” Eclipse said, shuddering at the thought of Feilon’s great uncle. The man had been an old grump even when they had been children and had chased them away many a time. He was also not human’s best advocate. He didn’t hate them per se, but if he’d never had to see one again, he’d die a happy man. To have one running around the compound, risking to discover and spill their secrets… Eclipse could only imagine his reaction.
Feilon cringed. “Yeah, that didn’t go over too well. Let’s just say it’s not a conversation I ever want to have again. But for now, they allow Toshi to stay on my responsibility.”
Raenef whistled. “That’s a tremendous risk you took. He’s only a child. He’ll soon come to learn the truth and that would be an enormous secret for him to keep to himself. Even if he has no ill-intentions. It will be your head on the line if he spills. Is he worth that?”
“He is. Granted, it wasn’t my smartest move to take him in, but when I did, I took the responsibility of taking care of him. I can’t pass him off to others now. He’s not a piece of furniture.” He meant it, but it was a mere excuse, and all three of them knew it; If Feilon wanted to, he could relocate Toshiro to any family in the region. All it would take was a healthy sum of money—of which neither Clan had a shortage of—and they would welcome the youngster with open arms. No, he chose to keep the boy close.
“Still, no reason we can’t meet your soon-to-be-fledgling,” Eclipse said.
Leave it to the raven-haired man to lighten the mood again.
Feilon glared at his youngest brother. “He will not be my fledgling! I won’t Change him. He’s going to live his life out as a human.”
Eclipse waved his hand, not believing a word he said. “Sure, sure, whatever. I still haven’t heard a valid reason why we can’t meet your ‘he’s-not-going-to-be-my-fledgling-but-we-all-know-he-will-one-day’.”
Feilon rolled his eyes. “I don’t want him to find out. And I can’t have him become suspicious either.”
Raenef nodded, understanding what was holding Feilon back. “We’ll meet him when you’re ready,” he said, kissing his best friend.
Feilon smiled in thanks. He felt as if a weight had lifted from his shoulders now that his brothers knew about his situation. He also knew he’d be teased mercilessly for it.