“You’re old enough now,” his father says, kindly face creased into a smile, and he can’t help but feel a bit excited–every time his father has looked that way, he’s always gotten something he’s wanted. “I think you’re ready for this.”

It takes all the control he has to not simply bounce up and down. “Papa,” he says, drawing the word out into something approaching a whine. “Papa, tell me, I want to know.”

“Ah-ah,” his father says, wagging a finger. “It’s not your birthday yet, my boy. Trust Papa to take care of everything.”


There are two things that become immediately clear about the escort: one, that he is a man, and two, that he has the same sort of fine pale blond hair and noble features that might be expected of any son of the Oak family. He looks so familiar that Shuri almost calls him by a name that is–not quite forbidden in the Oak family, but generally frowned upon. He bites his tongue on that, staring, and the escort tosses his head (even that is a nobleman’s gesture: proud and confident in his looks, unashamed by the eyes that are immediately drawn to him).

The escort is wearing all white. Shuri wonders if that was a deliberate choice on his part, a suggestion from his father, or some other strange coincidence. He looks Shuri up and down deliberately, lips pursed, and then he nods. He holds out his hand, and he says, “Well? Come on, then.”

For a moment Shuri stares without moving. It feels all very much like a dream, and he wonders if it’s all just some elaborate prank. He had always been safe in school, protected by his father’s name and his family’s reputation, but this man looks as if he couldn’t care less, uncowed by the implications of Shuri’s crisply-pressed uniform or the particular tilt of his features. Instead, he appears bored, like if Shuri doesn’t move fast enough, he’ll simply call off the entire engagement and move on to his next job.

That is the thought that galvanizes him; in the instant before the other man looks ready to drop his hand, Shuri takes it in his own. The fingers are long, strong, and slender, and though the escort raises an eyebrow, he says nothing, merely leads the way; for this, Shuri is unspeakably grateful. He almost tries to start a conversation himself several times–you look like someone I knewwhat’s your name?I’ve never done anything before, I don’t know what Papa told you, but you probably–no, you definitely–have the wrong idea.

As hard as he tries, though, the words don’t come, and then they are walking inside of a hotel, one that he recognizes as having a reputation for discreetness. His lower-class classmates had muttered about this, when they didn’t know he was around, and even some of his peers had mentioned it by name several times. Everything feels and looks a bit unreal, with the austere lobby and the perfectly-poised and elegant woman who sits at the front desk. She glances up for a moment, her gaze sharp, sweeping over them both, and just like that they are both dismissed and she returns to her book.

“Your father’s made all the arrangements,” his escort says, voice low and too-close to his ear; he flinches a little from its proximity. “The whole thing’s on his bill.” There’s another huff of air, something between a laugh and a snort. “Must be nice, having papa’s money to take care of anything that goes wrong.”

He would protest–he opens his mouth for that–but instead it hangs open uselessly as he’s led down a long anonymous hallway of doors. A key produced from the escort’s pocket unlocks the very last one, which opens into a large white room. Cavernous is the first word that springs to mind as he looks around, though everything is muffled by the thick white carpet that stretches from wall to wall. The only furniture is a large bed with white sheets and a red coverlet. Shuri bites his lip hard enough to hurt, but nothing changes. This is real, he thinks, and something akin to hysteria twists in the pit of his stomach; he wants to laugh and can’t quite breathe enough for it. It’s real, it’s happening, and the escort with his too-familiar face is the only other person in the room.

“Relax,” the other man says, not unkindly. Up close, his eyes are blue, but even that is too close. “I’m a professional; I know what I’m doing.”

Finally Shuri manages a sound–a helpless, not-quite frightened noise, and everything else he meant to say is lost.


It’s stupid: all his memories of that other person are hazy and faded: winter sunlight off pale blond hair and a face that scowled through the worst of his tantrums without being swayed, a voice that said a true son of the Oak family never broke face for anything. He remembers a hand, not particularly gentle, mopping his face with a fine silk handkerchief, and sharp cool eyes peering into his own. If it matters so much to you, I’ll give you mine.


The first time is over embarrassingly fast. Shuri stuffs a fist against his mouth and still doesn’t manage to completely muffle the cry he makes when the escort wraps those long clever fingers around his cock and strokes him three times. It feels almost like agony at first, his entire body hot and tense for a long painful moment–and then not any more; it rushes out of him like a wave and leaves him spent and gasping, staring blindly at the ceiling.

“Hm,” the escort says (and he still doesn’t know his name, Shuri thinks blearily; it’s strange not having a name to call him by), in between licking his fingers clean. It’s not very attractive, the motions perfunctory and businesslike. “You really are new to this.”

His face goes hot at that–hotter, really–but when he manages to focus, his protest struggling to bubble free, the other man tells him, “All right. Slower, then.”

“Slow–” he chokes out, then arches helplessly when damp fingers settle on his chest and trace down, skittering first along the lines of muscle, and then to his nipple. He presses both of his own hands to his mouth now, gasping so hard for breath it hurts. He hears the escort murmur something in a soothing tone a moment before wet heat traces a lopsided circle over his nipple, and he thinks that he is going to die, for real, only what’s bubbling in his veins is not quite panic, and he–

The other man backs off. “Hey,” he says softly. “Look, if you hate it, you gotta say so. Try to relax a little, all right?”

Shuri hiccups a few times for breath. His eyes sting, but the tears won’t come. The escort remains hovering over him, close enough to be warm, far enough to avoid contact. His pale hair is pulled forward over one shoulder and his eyes are narrow, lit somewhere between curiosity and concern and total disinterest. Shuri stares at his face, with high cheekbones and white skin, and he thinks there is no way it is an accident: his papa is a clever man and a powerful man, and there is nothing about his own son that he does not know. Even if it is not common knowledge, at least within the Oak family itself, everyone within it knows of the one who broke with tradition and entertains the ambition of becoming a Bishop within the Church.

He’d been the only family member close to Shuri’s age; he’d been the only one who’d played with him that one winter holiday, when the adults and older second-cousins were busy; he’d had pale hair and sharp eyes, and he’d never once been afraid.

“Do you–your name,” Shuri rasps finally.

The escort raises an eyebrow. “What?”

“I want–tell me your name,” Shuri insists. He reaches up and curls his fingers hard into the man’s shirt, hands shaking. “Please, that’s what I want to know, it’s not fair, I can’t–”

The man sits back, covering Shuri’s hands with his. His expression is still somewhat dubious, as if this is the strangest request he’s ever received during the course of his career. Shuri stares back, wide-eyed and more than a little desperate–this is important, he wants to say, this is the most important part, because this man has a memory’s face but can’t be him, there’s no way …

“Vita,” the escort says finally. “My name’s Vita.”

Shuri forms the name without sound and he lunges up, smashing his own mouth clumsily to the escort’s–to Vita’s–and it’s clumsy and it hurts (he can taste blood, and a spot of heat that will become a bruise later to worry with his tongue), and he’s not crying, he’s not, but he’s shaking and he’s relieved and he’s kissing wherever he can reach, not fighting as he’s pressed back down again. Vita looks surprised more than anything else, his hair disheveled, but he recovers quickly, setting his hands on Shuri’s chest and smoothing them down again. His touch is confident and practiced, and Shuri squeezes his eyes shut and pushes into it, lets himself go. A mouth touches the hinge of his jaw, hot and wet, and it trails slowly down to his throat, following the line of his pulse. He squirms enthusiastically, tugging at the fastening of Vita’s shirt, and then whines when long fingers pinch his nipples and gently roll them.

Vita, he thinks, Vita, Vita, that sounds nothing like–

(“If it matters so much to you–“)

Those clever hands skim lower down, across his chest and to his hips and belly. Vita’s breath is hot and damp across his skin. Shuri keeps one hand pressed tight over his own mouth, as if that could be enough to keep his voice muffled, and the other he curls into Vita’s hair, yanking and tugging to direct that fleeting wonderful contact as best he could. It feels good, better than anything–better than the first time, confused and tangled-up as it was–and there are colors exploding behind his tightly-closed eyes, and he–

(“–you can have mine.”)

That mouth closes over his cock with complete practiced ease; it’s all he can do not to just scream or yank out a handful of Vita’s pale fine hair; instead he thrashes, hips jerking up automatically, helplessly. Vita rides the motion effortlessly. Shuri opens one eye to peek and almost immediately has to look away again: Vita’s eyes are closed and his brow is furrowed in an expression of intense concentration. For this moment, never mind his earlier disdain or his uninterested posture or his pity at Shuri’s plain inexperience–for this moment, Shuri is the focus of his entire world.

It feels good.

His entire body tingles as if touched to an electric spark; he can feel tension starting to gather in his belly. His breath comes in short hard gasps, and the sound of them is strange to his own ears. Vita’s hair slips like water through his fingers, cool and slick. Shuri wants to grab hold of it firmly and finds himself stroking through it restlessly instead, reveling at the feel. There is something tight in his chest, like a knot pulling in on itself, and–

(“It’s icky,” he wails, stomping his foot. He’s wiped at his mouth so many times with his mittened hand that his lips are raw and he can still feel that one great-aunt’s slobbery lips pressed to his. “And it was my first kiss, too!” he adds petulantly; he’s not quite sure why it’s so important, but he’s heard maids giggling about it as they do the laundry, and it seems to be a very important event in one’s life. “And she, and she … !”

“Stop that,” his cousin says, pulling a handkerchief out of his pocket. “You’re a mess. That’s not any way for a son of the Oak family to conduct himself.”

“I’ll conduct myself any way I want,” he snipes back, and feels his eyes sting again. “A-anyway, if you’re going to yell, you should–you should tell HER not to do stuff like that, she’s not–”

His cousin takes his chin in hand and starts wiping his face. He’s not nearly as gentle as Shuri’s mama would be, but he’s not unkind about it, either, using the handkerchief to wipe away tears and snot. “Look, stop crying, and I’ll give you something.”

Shuri sniffles hard. “Something … ?”

“If it’s so important to you, a first kiss,” his cousin says, “I’ll give you mine. All right?”

For a moment he is shocked into utter still silence, which is the precise moment his cousin leans and presses their lips together.

It’s a small quiet moment that almost hurts because of how Shuri’s lips are rubbed raw; his cousin’s lips are also chapped, but they’re still very soft. There is a heartbeat of silence where he thinks he has to say something–he must–but then the other boy pulls away and says, no-nonsense as before, that their parents are waiting, and goes on ahead, leaving Shuri standing there, watching him go, alone as the snow starts to fall.)


The escort–Vita–the escort is gone when Shuri wakes. His head aches a little and his face is tight and hot, as if he’d been crying. With a groan, he knuckles his fingers into his eyes in an attempt to clear them of grit, then hauls himself laboriously to his feet, swaying and lurching as he makes his way to the bathroom. In the mirror, his reflection is pale and red-eyed, his hair sticking up at odd spiked angles, and his lips hurts like they did that day years ago. Watching himself in the mirror, he deliberately lifts a hand and draws the back of it across his mouth.

“There you are, Shuri Oak,” he tells his reflection, “now you’re a man.”

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