Written for Spring Kink 2007.
"You dropped another strand," Oriya said, and Hisoka did his best to mask the exasperated look that tried to cross his face.
He leaned over Oriya's shoulder to look at the thin lock of hair that had slipped from his fingers and then back at the elaborate braid twisted around his hands. He couldn't even see where the fallen strand was supposed to fit, let alone be able to thread it back into place. He suppressed a sigh and loosened his cramped fingers, letting Oriya's hair spill down onto his shoulders.
"I still don't understand why you need your hair braided, anyway," he said. "It's not as though it ever gets in your way, after all."
Oriya laughed gently, no doubt thinking--as was Hisoka--of their practice earlier that evening. It had been windy outside, but somehow the frequent gusts had served to distract Hisoka more than Oriya. One highly memorable hit had been struck just as Hisoka was shoving his bangs out of his eyes with his left hand. Oriya, by contrast, had seemed to move with the wind currents, and his hair had streamed around him, but never twisted about him to obscure his vision or entangle his arms.
Now he tilted his head back as Hisoka carded his hands carefully through the thick mass of hair, getting it to lie straight again in preparation for the dozenth attempt at braiding it to Oriya's exacting standards. "There are other circumstances in which long hair gets in the way. I could show you, if you like."
It wasn't the first time Oriya had made such a suggestion. The third or fourth time Hisoka had come to him for kendo instruction, he'd invited Hisoka to spend the night afterwards, delicately hinting that Hisoka could take the active role. Hisoka had refused, as he had all of the subsequent times that Oriya offered the use of his body. He knew himself well enough, however, to know that it was unlikely that he would refuse forever.
"Stop trying to distract me," Hisoka said, letting his mild annoyance color his voice.
Oriya laughed again, but did as he asked. He sat silent and still as Hisoka finished braiding his hair and then tied the end off neatly.
"It's done," Hisoka said, and Oriya lifted the mirror beside him with a deceptively delicate hand to examine the result of nearly an hour's effort.
"Satisfactory," he pronounced, his tone making it clear that it was only barely so.
Hisoka bit back the instinctive urge to snap that he should have his whores braid it for him, if he thought so little of Hisoka's skills. Doubtless Oriya's whores had performed this service in the past, and would do so again. No, Oriya had had some other reason for demanding this particular attention. Hisoka might even have been able to determine what it was, though Oriya was, in his own way, as difficult to read as Tatsumi.
He didn't bother to try. Instead, he watched Oriya rise gracefully to his feet in order to bid Hisoka a goodnight and to send him home so that Oriya could entertain the client that had bought him for the evening or the hour. Probably the latter, knowing Oriya's price, which Oriya himself had amusedly told Hisoka after his fourth or fifth invitation had been met with a polite yet firm rejection.
Knowing that men would pay upwards of a million yen to spend the night with Oriya hadn't changed Hisoka's view of the man he had so improbably taken as his teacher. Not that he knew what his view of Oriya was, exactly, but it would take something more significant than that to alter it.
Hisoka bowed, and Oriya returned the gesture with unironic courtesy. "I'll see you next week," he said.
"Unless I send word to tell you otherwise," Hisoka agreed, and made his way back to Meifu with the oddly thrumming sensation of feeling alive.