To say Viktor’s day had been interesting would be putting it mildly, but he could think of no better word to describe it. He had never had someone come to his aid against Mr. Morrison, and to think it was the new and attractive Japanese student was something he hadn’t seen coming.
‘Attractive?’ Viktor thought, shaking his head ruefully as he looked out the window of the bus, watching the bustling streets of Vladivostok fly by. He couldn’t allow himself to think such thoughts about another boy, no matter how much he wanted to. His father would never stand for having a homosexual for a son. He’d made that crystal clear time and time again. Not only was it against their faith, but in Mikhail Karimov’s eyes, being a homosexual was anti-Russian. Mikhail’s hero, Vladimir Putin, had stood against this disgrace for all the years he had been in office, and he was the pinnacle of everything Russia stood for.
Viktor made an effort to bury his feelings for Nobuyuki deep inside himself, never to surface again if he had his way. It was silly to think such things anyway, especially considering he didn’t know Nobuyuki at all, though he had been watching him from a distance ever since they’d become classmates. He’d lied to Nobuyuki when he’d said he didn’t know they had classes together, not wanting his new friend to think he’d been longing for them to meet. There was something about Nobuyuki’s calm, analytical demeanor which Viktor found as intoxicating as the best Russian vodka.
He growled inwardly, annoyed his thoughts had once again returned to Nobuyuki’s attractive qualities. There were other things to worry about, like homework. He hadn’t done any of it during detention as he should have, and he had a larger load of it than normal. He had a paper due in English and another in Russian Literature, and his computer teacher had given them a programming project needing to be completed by the end of the week. He’d have plenty to keep his thoughts occupied.
A buzzing at his left ear told him a call was coming through, and he reached up and twisted the stud earring he was wearing to answer it. Communications technology had improved a great deal over the past two decades, and much of it was now completely integrated into one’s wardrobe. Viktor didn’t know how people had survived when they were forced to carry their phones everywhere they went. It must have been incredibly irksome.
“Viko,” Viktor’s brother said on the other end of the call. “Viko, why weren’t you on the first bus after school today? Did you get detention again?”
“Yes, Vladi,” Viktor replied, sighing at Vladimir Karimov’s snicker of feigned approval. “Yes, I was in detention, and I know what you’re going to say, so you don’t need—”
“You’re a hero, Viko,” Vladimir replied with enthusiasm, mimicking their father’s voice. “An example to all Russians. You’re sure to be a great leader someday, just like Vladimir Putin!”
“Are you ever going to stop mocking father?” Viktor asked, shaking his head and rolling his eyes. “He doesn’t deserve your ridicule.”
“Hey, it’s not my fault he makes it so easy,” Vladimir said, snickering again. “If he’d stop rubbing his patriotism in my face every time you do something great, maybe I’d lay off.”
“Or, you could try doing something other than rebel against him,” Viktor replied pointedly. He looked up at that moment and saw a babushka staring at him and nodding in approval to what he was saying. He blushed and turned away, hearing her raspy laughter as he intently studied the street outside the bus. He shifted to a whisper, knowing his earring would still be able to pick it up. “You’ve got to stop trying to prove how tough you are or you’re going to end up in prison, or worse, dead.”
“Why are you whisper . . . wait a minute, you’ve got an old woman looking at you, don’t you,” Vladimir asked. Viktor growled and Vladimir let out a boisterous laugh. “You’re so soft, it’s a wonder no one has broken you yet.”
“Why do you have to be like that, Vladi? Have you ever stopped to wonder why I haven’t had anyone try to break me?” Viktor scoffed, and the laughter stopped on the other end of the line. “Maybe you should try being nice to people once in a while, and you’ll see how well others treat you back. It’s not difficult.”
“Hey, I’m nice to you, aren’t I, Viko?” Vladimir asked, sounding hurt. “I know I can be a little rough sometimes, but at least I take care of my little brother, don’t I?”
Viktor sighed. As much as he hated the way his brother sometimes treated other people, Vladimir always came through when it counted. When Viktor had been bullied during his elementary years, Vladimir had been the one to stand up to the bullies and set them straight, violently but effectively. His methods were brutal, but he did fight for what mattered to him.
The problem lay in Vladimir’s interests being so contradictory to Viktor’s and their father’s. Vladimir was an anarchist, and had been from the womb. Their father’s beloved Russia wasn’t the Russia which Vladimir wanted, and father and son fought constantly, often over the littlest things. Ever since Viktor and Vladimir’s mother had died thirteen years earlier, Viktor had tried to play peacekeeper between his brother and father, but it was an uphill battle, and he wasn’t making any headway.
“Yes, you do take care of me,” Viktor admitted, “but you could do so much more with your life.”
“Hey now, don’t you go sounding like him,” Vladimir said gruffly. “There’s no need to get preachy with me. You’re not our father, and you’re not Father Bukhalo either. I get it enough from home and at church, I don’t need it from you, too.”
“I’m sorry, Vladi. I know you don’t agree, but I really just want you to be happy,” Viktor replied, sighing again. He was getting tired of sighing, but it seemed his only recourse recently when dealing with his brother.
“Then there’s no need to worry,” Vladimir replied, chuckling. “I’m perfectly happy. And hey, don’t miss your stop.”
“What?” Viktor asked, looking around at the familiar streets as the bus started to slow down. “How’d you know I was approaching the stop?”
“Viko, take a moment and look a little closer,” Vladimir replied. Viktor did as he was told and searched the bus stop they were slowly approaching. A few people were standing and waiting for the bus to arrive, but none of them even remotely resembled Vladimir. Viktor shook his head as the bus came to a halt and he stepped away from the window. It was his stop, but how Vladimir had known it was still beyond him.
He stepped off the bus and walked several feet away from the curb, keeping his eyes peeled for any sign of Vladimir waiting in hiding. He nearly jumped out of his skin when he felt a hand on his shoulder. Vladimir was doubled over with laughter as Viktor turned toward him, trying to remember how to breathe again. “Where the hell did you come from?” Viktor asked, watching his brother’s dark-haired head bounce as he shook with hysterics. He looked up at Viktor, his laughter ceasing for a moment, but as soon as he saw Viktor’s expression he started up again.
“I can wait here all day for you to explain,” Viktor said, crossing his arms over his chest and glaring at his brother. “What are you even doing here?”
“I was on the bus with you the whole time,” Vladimir said, grinning from ear to ear. “I had to stay after for a project, and I ended up missing the first bus. I saw you running to catch the bus and saved you a seat next to me, but you must have been distracted or something. You didn’t even see me! I had to play a trick on you.”
Viktor rolled his eyes and nodded down the road toward their home. “All right, fine. Let’s get home so we can get our homework done. You still think homework is worthwhile, right?”
“I suppose. Gotta get a good job, right? Education pays, that’s what father always says,” Vladimir said, tousling Viktor’s hair. Viktor knocked his brother’s hand away and his glare intensified. He readjusted his hair as Vladimir continued. “Hey, speaking of homework, I was thinking we should ignore it today and have some fun. How about we go down to the new Korean arcade that opened up down the street and play some games?”
Viktor shook his head. “Sorry, but I have a lot of homework, and I can’t ignore it. With all the detention I’m getting, I have to keep my grades up or no colleges will ever take me seriously.”
Vladimir shrugged and started walking in the direction of their home, and Viktor fell into step beside him. “Suit yourself, Viko, but you should learn to have a little more fun. Homework can wait, you know.”
“Says the guy failing most of his classes,” Viktor said with disdain. “Sorry, but I do want to accomplish something with my life, even if you don’t. Dad doesn’t pay for our schooling just so we can fail.”
“Maybe not your schooling.” Vladimir snorted. “Besides, that’s why I was staying after school. Don’t you remember me saying I was working on a project? I’m trying to improve my grades.”
“Oh, what was the project for?” Viktor asked. “I know you’re struggling in a number of your classes.”
“It was for all of them,” Vladimir said. Viktor looked over at him and Vladimir avoided his eyes. “Don’t worry, the problem should be taken care of. I’ll graduate just fine.”
“What did you do?” Viktor asked, his eyes narrowing suspiciously.
Vladimir waved the question away, and when Viktor opened his mouth to ask again, Vladimir shot him a glare so intense that Viktor’s mouth shut immediately. “I need a smoke,” Vladimir muttered, stopping his forward momentum as he reached down to his belt. He fiddled with the buckle for a moment and then undid it, opening his belt wide to reveal the zipper along the inside. He slid the zipper across and retrieved a cigarette from the hidden pocket, which he proceeded to put between his lips.
Viktor watched the entire scene with barely contained frustration. He hated that his brother had picked up the nasty habit, but it was a common practice among many adult Russians, even if it was starting to go out of style for the younger generation. Vladimir had always wanted to appear older, and he’d gone to great lengths to smuggle cigarettes into school where they were banned. The zipper belt was simply his newest method.
“I really wish you’d give up that nasty habit,” Viktor said, then watched as Vladimir approached a nearby bum. He leaned down with the cigarette gripped between his teeth and asked the homeless man for a light. The man quickly obliged, lifting a lighter in grimy fingers and sparking it several times before producing a flame which ignited the end of the cigarette. A puff of smoke later, and Vladimir nodded his appreciation to the man before dropping a 1000 ruble note into the cup in front of the bum.
Vladimir began walking down the street again without looking back, and Viktor followed him in silence. He knew better than to interrupt Vladimir before he’d finished his cigarette. If he needed a smoke, it meant he was starting to get angry, and an angry Vladimir was much more frightening than a happy one.
But the exchange with the homeless man bothered Viktor. A thousand rubles was a lot to give in exchange for lighting a cigarette, which meant either Vladimir was being particularly generous, or he was throwing money around again. Their father wouldn’t approve of the latter, and so Viktor had to assume it was the reason behind Vladimir’s actions. Their father wasn’t fond of the homelessness rampant in his city, either, and Vladimir had just validated their lifestyle. Was it just one more way to get back at their father?
“That was a lot to give a man just for lighting your cigarette,” Viktor risked saying after they’d traveled down another block. Vladimir had less than an inch left on his cigarette, and would soon be done with it entirely. But he seemed no more amiable than before when he glanced Viktor’s way and raised an eyebrow. “You know he’s just going to spend it on booze, or maybe cigarettes.”
“Yeah, so?” Vladimir asked. “That’s probably what I was going to spend it on. Why does it make a difference? The man helped me out, so I helped him out. We can afford it. We’re rich, you know.”
Viktor shook his head and replied, “Yeah, but we have to help those who are going to help themselves. What are you gonna do when—”
“Do you ever fucking let up?” Vladimir snapped. He pulled the cigarette from his mouth and blew a puff of smoke in Viktor’s face, causing him to cough and turn away. “God, you’re becoming more like him every day. Someday you’ll have to face the truth that not everyone fits into your worldview. Just because you don’t fit in doesn’t mean you’re bad; doesn’t mean you’re worthless. Fuck you if you want to think like him.”
“Vladi!” A familiar voice called out from behind Viktor. He and Vladimir turned together to see two of Vladimir’s friends from the neighborhood approaching, Dimitry and Alexi. Both had unfinished cigarettes in hand and left clouds of smoke trailing in their wake. Dimitry, a tall boy of Udege descent, reached Vladimir first and embraced him in a quick, one-armed hug. They parted and Vladimir repeated the gesture with Alexi. “We were wondering when you were going to show up,” Dimitry said before taking another drag on his cigarette. “We were just heading down to the arcade. Do you want to come?”
“Do you even have to ask?” Vladimir said, grinning wide. “Let’s go. The sooner the better. You might have to spot me, though. I gave my last note to Nikolay. He looked like he needed it today.”
“No sweat, man,” Alexi said with a nod. “We’ll spot you. Supporting Nikolay is worth my cash. How’s he doin’?”
“Didn’t stop to chat, just to bum a light,” Vladimir said, lifting the cigarette. “What are we waiting for?”
“Viko, you’re welcome to come too, if you want,” Dimitry said, turning to Viktor and grinning. “As long as you keep that mouth of yours shut, anyway.”
Viktor was already shaking his head and he patted the side of his satchel and the laptop inside. “Thanks, but I have a lot of homework to get to. Unlike some people, I want to go somewhere with my life.”
“See what I’ve had to deal with today?” Vladimir asked, rolling his eyes. “He hasn’t stopped, not once.” He turned back to a frowning Viktor and said, “Get your homework done, Viko. If there’s still time left in the day to have a little fun, give me a call and come join us. We’ll show you what you’re missing.”
“Don’t wait on me,” Viktor said, thinking about his workload. “I have two papers due, and a progr—”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Vladimir said, cutting him off. “You’ve got lots of important shit to do. Go ahead and call me anyway if you change your mind. Later, Viko.” He took one final draw on his cigarette and then dropped it at his feet, crushing it under his heel before turning away from Viktor. He clapped Dimitry on the shoulder and the three began walking down the street in the opposite direction of home.
Viktor shook his head in disgruntlement, watching them go for a moment before starting home again. Dimitry and Alexi did not attend school with the brothers, but they’d known Vladimir since preschool. They weren’t bad people, per se, but they were rough around the edges as surely as Vladimir was and hadn’t been the greatest influence on Vladimir’s life. Viktor’s father had banned them from his home, and Vladimir had taken it personally. It was all part of the same struggle.
Before he realized how far he’d gone, Viktor was walking up the steps to his family’s small and modest home, in the middle of a long row of urban houses. Although their father’s position granted him enough money to afford something grander, he saw no reason to give up the home he’d purchased with his wife twenty years earlier. There were many memories contained within the walls which he’d never be able to replace if he left. Viktor understood. His entire life had been spent in that house, and so nearly all of his memories were tied to red brick and dark wood which formed the walls of the building. He couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
He fit his key into the lock and pulled up on the knob before twisting it. The latch had been balky for ten years, requiring the ritual in order to avoid becoming stuck. They could have replaced the lock many times over the years, but it added character to the house, and they were used to opening it. There was no reason to change what already worked, Mikhail repeatedly advised them all.
He walked into the kitchen for a drink before working on his homework and found a note waiting for him. The note was written in his father’s careful penmanship, and was hanging from the fridge so he’d be sure to see it as soon as he entered the kitchen.
I had to leave before you came home. Helping with a case tonight and I won’t be back until late. Order food if you can’t find anything to eat for dinner, and don’t forget to do your homework. I heard about your detention, and I’m proud of you for standing up for our heritage.
Take care of Vladimir.
Viktor took the note down and folded it up, suddenly glad Vladimir hadn’t come home with him. He’d just make another point about their father’s failure as a parent, and Viktor would have no choice but to listen. Like the doorknob and the house, some things just never changed, no matter how much better they could be.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Hey, Viktor. Are you there?”
Nobuyuki’s voice in Viktor’s ear was a welcome distraction from the English paper. He was struggling with vocabulary again, and his Russian to English dictionary was getting more use than usual.
“Yeah, I’m here, Nobu. Glad you called. I wasn’t expecting to hear from you tonight, but this paper is killing me,” Viktor replied, laughing lightly. “Do you take English with Mrs. Henderson or with Mr. Sanders? I can’t remember.”
“Mrs. Henderson,” Nobuyuki replied. “You have Sanders, right?”
“Yeah, so you can’t help me.” Viktor sighed and leaned back in his desk chair, reaching his arms back and stretching. He was starting to get tired, and it wasn’t even seven yet. “What are you up to tonight?”
“Doing homework, same as you,” Nobuyuki said. “And you shouldn’t assume I can’t help you just because we have different teachers. I do well with English, remember?”
“Yeah, you’re right. I’m just frustrated,” Viktor said as he leaned forward again. As his weight shifted on his chair he noticed a problem developing below. He was getting hard while talking to Nobuyuki, and he knew somehow his new friend was the cause of it. “Um,” he said awkwardly, “Not that I mind your call, but is there something in particular you wanted?”
“No, just seeing how you were. I was glad we became friends today,” Nobuyuki replied warmly, putting part of his plan to gain Viktor's trust in action as well as truly liking Viktor and wanting him to know it. “Maybe I sound desperate for friendship, but I’m really looking forward to eating lunch with you tomorrow, and to hang out with you in class and detention.”
“Yeah, me too,” Viktor said, and then felt his cock twitch. This couldn’t be happening. He had to get off the phone with Nobuyuki, or he was going to have a much bigger problem to deal with. “Hey, I should probably get back to working on my paper.”
“Well, I’m almost done with my homework. Do you want me to come over and help you out with your problem?” Nobuyuki asked. Though the question was innocent, Viktor couldn’t help but think of the other possible connotations of Nobuyuki’s offer.
“Um, no,” Viktor replied nervously. “Maybe I’ll ask you about it at lunch? English is the last period of the day for me, so I can probably get it fixed before I have to turn it in if you look at it then.”
“Would you rather I look at it tonight?” Nobuyuki asked. “You’d want me to take my time, wouldn’t you? Rushing things is never good if you’re trying to make a good impression.
‘Yeah, I want you to look at it,’ Viktor thought, shaking his head emphatically. ‘And I don’t care if you take your time or not. You’ve already made a good impression and I want you as quickly as you can get here.’ He growled away his thoughts, knowing Nobuyuki wouldn’t hear them but uncomfortable anyway. Viktor wasn’t going to allow such thoughts to persist.
“No, it’s getting late, and I think I’ll just turn in,” Viktor said, faking a yawn. “I don’t want to keep you up late when we have school tomorrow.”
“I wouldn’t mind staying up late with you, Viktor,” Nobuyuki said with a laugh. “I’m a teenager, you know. We’re supposed to stay up late and have wild parties.”
“Yeah, but . . .”
“But nothing, Viktor,” Nobuyuki continued. “It’s barely seven. The sun is still up! How early do you get up in the morning?”
“I . . . I just don’t think it’s a good idea, Nobu,” Viktor said, defeated. Nobuyuki’s sweet voice was an aphrodisiac, and Viktor was searching for every image he could to get his erection to cool down. He thought of his grandmother and his mother, trying to imagine them watching him. He tried to imagine he was in church and being preached to by Father Bukhalo about the dangers of homosexual sin. Nothing seemed to work as the quiet sound of Nobuyuki’s breathing on the other end of the line brought his attention back to the call and the boy on the other side.
“You don’t think it’s a good idea, Viktor?” Nobuyuki asked, confusion and hurt slipping into his tone. “You mean our friendship?”
“N-no!” Viktor protested, louder than he had intended. The thought of Nobuyuki misinterpreting and thinking Viktor didn’t want to be friends was the worst possible outcome Viktor could imagine. And since he couldn’t be honest about the problem in his pants, he did the next best thing. “My dad isn’t here, and he doesn’t like it when my brother and I bring people over he doesn’t know if he’s not able to meet them.” It wasn’t completely a lie. That philosophy did apply to Vladimir, but not to Viktor. “Some other time, when he’s home, I’ll invite you over.”
“Okay,” Nobuyuki said quietly. “I guess that’s fine. I just really wanted to see you, and your room, and what you’re like outside of school. I think we could have had a lot of fun at your house, together. Oh, I know, how about you come over here? We can hang out at the casino after I help you with your paper.”
‘Shit!’ Viktor thought, standing and beginning to pace his room. Being upright should have helped with his erection, though the excitement in Nobuyuki’s voice intensified it. It was a losing battle, and there was no way he’d calm down at the thought of visiting Nobuyuki at his home. His desires were betraying him, and being in Nobuyuki’s room would likely send him over the edge. He needed a lie and he needed one quick.
Or maybe he didn’t. “Actually, my dad asked me to take care of my brother, so I can’t leave,” Viktor said, glad his father had provided him with a truth. He was a terrible liar and he knew it, and having something true to say instead made matters easier.
“No problem, just bring him too,” Nobuyuki said enthusiastically.
“He’s got his two friends with him,” Viktor replied, sensing he was about to get backed into a corner again. “I doubt you want to have them anywhere near your family’s casino.”
“The more the merrier,” Nobuyuki said, chuckling. “Now quit stalling and come over here. All you have to do is take the elevator all the way up and I’ll meet you there. Or you can admit that you just don’t want to.”
‘Oh, there is nothing I want more,’ Viktor thought, reaching down to adjust his erection, which was painfully rubbing up against the button of his boxers. He felt a drop of moisture through the front of his pants and swooned at the sensitivity of his penis when he touched it. He lost his balance and fell hard onto his bed.
“What was that?” Nobuyuki asked, hearing the bedspring creak. “Are you really going to bed?”
“Yeah, um. I wasn’t lying when I said I was tired. I need sleep, and I think if I came over we’d stay up much later than I’d want,” Viktor said at last. “I appreciate your offer to help, but I’d really rather do it at school.”
“We can do it at school, or anywhere you want, Viktor,” Nobuyuki replied. “I’m just trying to be a good friend here. It sucks that you don’t want to see me, but I can deal with it sucking.”
Viktor’s cock twitched again at the sound of Nobuyuki saying the word ‘sucking’. He turned over on his stomach and buried his erection in his bedspread. “Thanks, I’m glad you understand.”
“Oh, I do,” Nobuyuki said. “You’re just not sure of me yet, and you want to get to know me a little more before we start hanging out. I can deal with that.”
Viktor could hear a trace of the earlier hurt in Nobuyuki’s voice, but it sounded as if Nobuyuki was okay with that thought, even if it wasn’t ideal. It didn’t matter, though. Viktor was desperate, and if agreeing to that thought would get Nobuyuki off the phone, even if it were wrong, Viktor would agree to it.
“Yeah. I guess I’m just a little shy about some things,” Viktor said, holding his breath and hoping Nobuyuki would take the bait.
Nobuyuki sighed, but his voice was cheerful as he said, “That’s okay. After you spend some more time with me, I’m sure you won’t be shy anymore.” Viktor felt another twitch. Nobuyuki continued, “I have a reputation, once I take hold of someone, I never let them go. I keep going until I finish, you know?” Another twitch, and Viktor stifled a groan. “Whatever it takes, I’m going to make it hard; hard for you to resist me and my friendship.” A quick series of spasms, and Viktor started to pant, hoping Nobuyuki wouldn’t hear it on his end. “Once I’m done with you, you’ll wonder why you ever said ‘no’ to me, because you’ll realize just how awesome I am. Don’t forget, I already know how to put words in your mouth, so I already know how to get you to do what I want. I’m going to get you, Viktor Karimov.”
Viktor felt an explosion from his cock, and he moaned in orgasmic ecstasy as his boxers filled with the largest load he’d ever let out. He covered his mouth in embarrassment, but it was already too late. He’d moaned loud enough to wake the neighbors, and there was no way Nobuyuki hadn’t heard it. He held his breath for a moment as his cock finished spurting, waiting for Nobuyuki to say something, but there was nothing but dead air on the line. After a moment, Viktor whispered, “Nobu, are you still there?”
The call had disconnected, and Nobuyuki was gone. But had Nobuyuki ended the call before or after Viktor had orgasmed from nothing but the sound of Nobuyuki’s voice? Viktor shook his head in defeat. He had to hope it was before, or otherwise he had more than one mess to clean up.
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