[identity profile] stormymood.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] arashi_exchange
A piece of rainbow for [livejournal.com profile] helenmaldon Part 1


Title: Sweet Refrain
Pairing: Ohno Satoshi/Aiba Masaki, (implied) Nino/Jun
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Some implied sexual content. Overall, it's pretty fluffy.
Summary: It’s not like they actively hide it, but Masami wonders if they're really that subtle. Five times their friends think Satomi may be dating someone else and one time Satomi sets it right.
A/N: Okay, so… this had been an incredibly difficult exchange for some reason. First off, I would like to thank the Arashi Mod for having the patience of a saint and dealing with all my emails: thank you, thank you, thank you! Next, I would like to thank my beta for being awesome and very patient in the last two months as I bombarded her with a million ideas and complaints and editing this for me even if it was finished so late: I'm sorry for all the trouble! I would also like to thank some friends for helping me out and just dealing with my numerous whining in despair: you’re all the best! And finally, to my recipient: thank you for answering my emails about almost everything. I tried to get most of the things you asked for in the prompt, but there are some differences (my apologies!). This is probably not the animal sanctuary or zookeeper (I hope you like dragons!) fic you wanted, or the subtle falling in love story you probably had in mind. I sincerely apologize for that. And it turned out to be a five times fic (sorry sorry!). But um, yay~ female Arashi! That's one thing I'm happy I got for you! :)


..


“You’re staring again.”

“No I’m not.”

“Maa-chan, you’re staring, again.”

Masami huffed and looked away from the two figures in the distance to glare at her best friend beside her. Kazue sent her a smug look and flipped her hair behind her shoulder with a flick of her hand. “And how would you know that?” Masami asked in annoyance. She loved her friend, but sometimes the other woman frustrated her.

“Because you’re staring, and you make this stupid face when you look at her,” Kazue said matter-of-factly with a smug look on her face.

“I do not make a stupid face!” Masami cried and quickly glanced over to the other side of the grounds to see if she was heard. Kazue giggled and patted her friend on the head.

“Sure, sure.”

Masami pouted and turned her gaze back to the two women in the distance. Satomi was on feeding duty with Jun today. Masami watched with reverence as the tanned woman laughed at Sho-chan, a new addition to their sanctuary and their resident baby dragon, as he tried to eat the carrots Satomi was feeding him and failing miserably. On the other side of her, Jun was busy gathering the raw meat for the other dragons. When Jun was complaining about the amount of meat that Yuki had bought, Satomi had laughed at something Jun grumbled to her, and turned her gaze over to the two friends. Masami blushed when Satomi gave the pair a small wave. Kazue giggled when Masami shyly lifted her hand up to return it.

Despite Kazue’s teasing, there was something that Masami had not gotten around to telling her friend. What she didn’t know was that Masami had been seeing Satomi for quite a while now— they were nearing their fifth month. It had been a pretty uneventful get together, but Masami had absolutely no complaints. Sometimes she couldn’t even believe that they were together, and that she and Satomi were actually in a pretty satisfying and stable relationship— everything just sailed smoothly; they hardly ever argued. Masami wondered if that was because they were both such simple and laid-back people.

Masami had approached the smaller woman one evening when Satomi was locking up the grounds for the day. Usually it was Yuki’s job, but the two friends had swapped shifts for the day because the other woman had to attend a family dinner that evening. Yuki had told her when Masami saw her heading out of the house dressed in a red kimono.

Needless to say, Masami had been incredibly surprised when Satomi had agreed on going out for dinner with her that evening. She stayed inside the house most of the time on her days off, so Masami had been really happy when she had accepted her invitation.

One dinner become two, and two became three, and soon enough, Masami and Satomi had been going out almost every time they had a free evening together. They went from Aiba-chan and Ohno-chan to Masami-chan and Satomi-chan. It had been equally embarrassing and exhilarating for both of them.

Masami loved the feeling of Satomi’s name on her tongue. During their first few days of the switch to given names, Masami would say her girlfriend’s name in bed like a prayer, feeling delirious with glee at being able to call her that.

After two months of dating, both of them were sure that their friends would comment on it. But to their surprise, their friends hadn’t said anything about it or given any indication that they even knew that they were together. Now, five months after the fact, their friends still didn’t have a clue.

Masami decided to bring it up with her girlfriend a few days after her conversation with Kazue about the staring incident. Masami wondered out loud if their friends even knew that they were dating (dating!) each other now. Satomi made a noise of confusion.

“I mean, it is obvious… right?” Masami asked the other woman when they had decided to head to the local park after dinner. They were both sitting underneath a tree and Satomi was lying down on Masami’s lap. She gently stroked her fingers through the her girlfriend’s hair. It wasn’t as long or luscious as Jun’s, nor was it as straight as Kazue’s, but Satomi’s hair was always soft to the touch, and Masami loved it.

“Hm?” Satomi grunted below her and turned her head more the side so that Masami could get more access to the back of her head. “Obvious of what?”

“That we’re together. Dating.” Masami didn't know if it was a good or bad thing that their friends had no idea. Did that mean they weren't compatible enough in their eyes?

Satomi hummed and let out a small noise of pleasure when Masami caressed her scalp. “I think so,” she mumbled against Masami’s thigh. “I don’t see how they don’t.”

“But Kazue hasn’t even approached me about it. And that girl usually knows everything!” Masami exclaimed in confusion. “Satomi-chan, I don’t think our friends know we’re together.”

“Does it matter?” Satomi asked as she flipped over to look up at Masami. Masami frowned and looked up at the night sky.

“I… well…” Masami didn't exactly care, but… “I don’t like keeping secrets from them, especially Kazue-chan.”

“Technically, it’s not a secret if we’re not actually trying to make it one in the first place,” Satomi said and reached up to pat her girlfriend’s cheek. “I wouldn’t worry about it.”

“Are you sure? We don’t have to tell them?” Masami asked worriedly. Satomi shook her head.

“I think it’s fine, Masami-chan. They’ll know when they know.”

“I guess you’re right,” Masami sighed before flashing a grin at her. Satomi returned her grin; Masami’s grins were always so infectious.

“What?”

“Do you want to help me exercise the dragons tomorrow? I’m taking them out for a fly in the afternoon.” Masami shyly averted her gaze away.

Satomi beamed and reached up to pull Masami down by the hair so that they were only a breath apart. “I’ll meet you there,” she murmured quietly as she looked at Masami’s lips.

Masami smiled and pulled the woman even closer so that their lips were just barely touching. “Great!” she exclaimed happily before capturing Satomi’s lips with her own.

They started off slow, taking their time to explore. Satomi hummed happily as she allowed Masami to take control of the kiss. Masami kissed her like it was the only thing she lived for. She loved the feel of Satomi in her arms, the warmth that radiated from her, and the sweet taste of cake that she had eaten after dinner. Moments later, Satomi started pushing back against the kiss, sucking on Masami’s tongue as she tried trying to gain control. Masami happily let her girlfriend take the lead. If anyone thought that Satomi was completely submissive, they were incredibly wrong. Masami loved it when Satomi got like this and moaned when she started nibbling at her lower lips.

“I think we should… stop… before we get too carried away,” Masami gasped when they pulled apart for air.

Satomi smirked and curled her finger around locks of Masami’s dark brown hair. “Do you really want to?” she asked huskily.

“No,” Masami gasped when she felt Satomi lick at her collarbones.

They didn’t speak much after that.


I.



“Do you think Oh-chan is dating J?” Kazue asked out of the blue one evening. Masami snapped her gaze to her best friend in surprise. They were both in the kitchen and Masami was preparing dinner. Kazue was there to leech food off her (again).

“What? Why?” Where did this even come from, Masami wondered.

Kazue shrugged and looked at the two women out in the field from her seat at the dining table. “I don’t know. J always seems happy when she’s around Oh-chan.”

Masami frowned and looked down at the uncooked rice in front of her. “Isn’t MatsuJun straight?” She was pretty sure she was, but it was hard to tell since Jun hardly ever opened up about her past relationships since she moved in with them at the sanctuary two years ago.

Kazue snorted and rolled her eyes. “She is as straight as a circle. That girl literally oozes rainbow pheromones, Masami-chan. She’s gay. Very gay.” Kazue emphasized the last part with a slap on the table.

Masami stared at her friend in astonishment. “Really? I never knew that!”

Her friend sent her a look of bemusement. “She told me she had a girlfriend in university for three years before breaking up with her because she was moving away for work.”

Masami frowned and wiped the bottom of the rice pot with a towel. “She didn’t want to do the long distance thing then?” While Masami and Jun were good friends, getting along pretty well since Jun moved in a couple of years ago, Jun was still pretty private about her life. She hadn't known that Jun liked women as well, having thought the other woman was completely straight. But Masami had never been good at determining these things, people’s sexuality that is; Kazue was much better than her at it.

Kazue shrugged and sipped her glass of water as she rested her head on the crook of her elbow at the table. “Who knows? I don’t know what goes on in that woman’s life unless she tells me.”

“You must know a lot then, if you know about her love life in university,” Masami teased and placed the rice pot in the rice cooker and closed the lid. She fiddled with the features for a bit before pressing the Start button on the machine and walked over to join her friend at the dining table.

“We were drunk, and she was telling me her life story,” Kazue deadpanned, but Masami could see a tiny hint of pink on her cheeks. Kazue had always been closer to the other woman, but Masami knew that even then, Jun never really said much about her love life. The woman’s lips were completely sealed. The only person that Jun shared everything with was with her best friend, Satomi, Masami’s girlfriend. The fact that Kazue seemed to know was… interesting.

Masami watched as her friend nibbled on the plate of biscuits in front of her. “You’re going to ruin your appetite for dinner,” she scolded. Kazue shrugged and popped another biscuit in her mouth. Masami sighed and stared out the window. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“Relax, Masami-chan. I’ll still eat your cooking!”

Masami snorted. “You eat like a bird, Kazue.”

“You’re not my mother!”

“No.” Masami shook her head and gently flicked her friend on the forehead with her fingers. “But I am your friend, and you’re skinny enough as it is.”

Kazue made a face and grumbled about nosy best friends trying to guilt people about their eating habits. Masami turned away with a grin on her face.


“Have you and MatsuJun ever dated?” Masami blurted out the next day when they went shopping for groceries together. Satomi paused and sent her girlfriend a look of bewilderment.

“What?”

Masami blushed and grabbed the shopping basket from her girlfriend’s hand. “Ah, it’s nothing! Ignore me! I was just thinking out loud. Hahaha!” She felt her face get redder as she walked down the aisle. Stupid! Stupid! Why did I ask her that?! Just as she was about to walk to the next aisle, she felt a hand clasp around her wrist, pulling her backwards. Masami gulped before turning around to look at Satomi.

Satomi looked at her tiredly with a frown on her face. “Why?”

Masami bit her lips, wondering how she could get herself out of this situation and shook her head. “It’s nothing, Satomi-chan, don’t mind me. Say, did you want tuna tomorrow for dinner? I think there’s a—”

“Masami-chan,” Satomi said sternly with her fingers still clasped around her wrist. Masami sighed and fiddled with the locks of her hair. “Why?” Satomi asked again, gently this time.

Masami internally debated with herself on whether or not she should tell Satomi about what Kazue had said yesterday. She looked at Satomi, who had nothing but a patient expression on her face. She sighed again, wishing she could turn back time and never say a word about the subject. But it was too late, and Satomi was stubborn. That, Masami knew quite well.

“It’s… it’s Kazue… she was just wondering if the two of you were dating that’s all,” Masami finally mumbled and stared at Satomi’s long fingers from where she had her wrist in a tight hold. “And I guess I was just… thinking stupid things.” She snapped her gaze back up to the older woman, realizing what she had just implied and panicked. “Not that I think you’re cheating on me or anything!” She exclaimed in horror, “I don’t think that Satomi-chan!”

Satomi laughed and pulled Masami close and wrapped her arms around the panicking woman. “Masami-chan, breathe.” Masami grumbled but wrapped her free arm around her girlfriend's smaller frame. Satomi smelled like paint and lavender. Has she been painting again? Masami thought. “I didn't think that you did.”

“I still feel terrible for implying that, Satomi-chan.” She pouted. She felt Satomi shake her head against the fabric of her blouse.

“No, it's okay. I didn't take it that way.”

When they pulled apart, Satomi was still holding onto one of her hands. Masami blushed as she looked around to see if other people noticed them. Masami had no problem with letting people know about her love for Satomi in public, but she was still a little shy with public displays of affection. Satomi, on the other hand, didn't care.

“To set the record straight: no, I have never dated or have ever thought about dating Jun. We’re just really good friends,” Satomi replied calmly as they started walking down the aisle together again, hand in hand.

Masami squeezed her hand lightly around Satomi’s and smiled when she felt the older girl do the same. “I didn't think so,” she said quietly as they stopped in front of the display of sauces. “I don't know why I felt… well… jealous?”

Satomi smiled and Masami wanted to bend down and kiss that sleepy smile off her girlfriend’s face.

“Jun and I wouldn't work as a couple,” Satomi said with a shake of her head. That piqued Masami’s interest.

“Really? Why do you say that?” she asked in curiousity. She thought they would make a rather compatible pair since they had always gotten along so well. And they were best friends. She and Kazue were best friends, and their first kiss had been with each other, but there was nothing more. Kazue had said that it was weird to think of Masami in more than a platonic fashion—Masami agreed.

Satomi shrugged and grabbed a bottle of sesame oil and placed it in the basket next to the bag of lettuce. “We just wouldn't. Jun wants things one way and I want things another way. We’re too stubborn to give in to the other person, and I only see her like my sister anyway. Besides,” she said looking up at Masami with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes, “there's someone that Jun likes.” Then she turned around with a smirk and quickly walked away leaving Masami standing there staring after her in astonishment.

“Wait! What?” Masami exclaimed, running to catch up to her. “Who?!”

“Not telling!” Satomi said with a giggle, her eyes still twinkling. Masami pouted. Even if they were lovers, she knew that Satomi would never tell someone's secret just like that. Still, a sense of relief washed over her now that she knew Satomi and Jun would never work out.

Masami huffed and stuck her tongue out at her girlfriend. Satomi was still giggling to herself when Masami reached out for her hand.

They didn't let go until they reached home.


II.



“Hey, do you think Satomi and Ninomiya are dating?” Jun asked when they were cleaning up the dragon’s nest one afternoon. Masami paused and wiped the sweat off her brow. She sent Jun a confused look. Where did this come from?

“What do you mean?” Satomi and Kazue? Well, they are close friends… Masami thought with a tiny pang of jealousy. Jun probably knew a lot of Satomi’s secrets. Masami knew it was a stupid reason to be jealous of. Still, she couldn’t help it.

“When I talk to Satomi these days, she seems to be more lost in thought than usual. I thought maybe it’s because she’s with Kazue-chan all the time now,” Jun explained as she shovelled the droppings onto their pile.

Ah. Masami thought wryly. Masami knew she had no reason to be worried over Kazue at all. Kazue was actually trying to see if the Satomi was seeing anyone for… her. Her best friend knew she had feelings for the older woman, but what Kazue still didn’t know was that Masami was already dating her, despite her attempts to try to make it obvious they were. Kazue had been hanging out with Satomi more these days to see if she could help her best friend out in getting the older woman’s attention.

“I think they’re just friends, MatsuJun,” Masami said cheerfully before going back to shovelling. Ugh, the poop smelled awful. Just what had her friends been feeding the dragons this week? Can't complain. Dragon manure makes great fertilizer she thought with a grimace. And it pays the bills.

“You think?” Jun asked as she poked at their pile with her shovel, testing its stability. “Ninomiya is always hanging around her,” she grumbled. Masami nodded.

“Yup! And Kazue hasn't told me she liked anyone, and she generally tells me these things.”

Jun pursed her lips and paused in her task again. “She tells you those things?”

“Well yeah, we’re best friends. And she thinks she's good at hiding it, but I always know!” Masami giggled. Kazue was a good actress, but when it came to her best friend and really big secrets, the other woman was an open book. Even if she thought she could hide it from her, Masami knew nearly everything Kazue tried to keep hidden.

“And she doesn't like anyone?” Jun asked as she shuffled closer to Masami.

Masami paused and furrowed her brows as she tried to remember if there was any incident that indicated that Kazue might have a crush on anybody. “I… actually I haven't been noticing much lately. She acts the same as always. Why?” She asked Jun.

Jun shook her head and immediately went back to shovelling. “It's nothing.”

Masami blinked owlishly at her before shrugging and turning back to her work.

“So you really don't think there's something going on between Satomi and Ninomiya?” Jun asked again, a few minutes later after they finished their task of collecting the poop. Masami shook her head and threw some water at the floor to clean the rest of the dirt off. Her nose scrunched up in disgust as the stench hit her nose. Beside her, Jun was wearing a mask that she had procured out of nowhere. Masami had forgotten hers.

“Nope. That, I know for sure.” Because she's with me. When they finished the cleaning, Masami turned to her friend. “When we finish with this,” she motioned to the pile of poop they collected in the large bin to be placed in bags later, “we need to give Sho-chan a bath.”

Jun nodded and grimaced as the water from earlier trickled under her boots. “Okay, but let me get changed before we do that. I smell like dragon shit.”


“MatsuJun thinks you and Kazue are dating,” Masami revealed later that evening when they were both relaxing out on the front porch of the house.

Satomi paused midway in her conquest of the watermelon in her hands and let out a loud, “Eh?!”

Masami laughed and let herself fall backwards on the porch. She turned to look at her girlfriend who was still looking bewildered at the sudden revelation. “Yeah, she asked me when we were gathering the dragon poop today. It smelled horrible! What did Yuki-chan order this week?!” She complained loudly.

Satomi gaped at her in astonishment before throwing her head back with a laugh. Masami smiled as she watched her girlfriend fall into a fit of giggles, clutching onto her slice of watermelon.

“W-what? Jun thought that? When you were cleaning up shit?” Satomi asked, still giggling as she wiped the tears from her eyes. She turned her entire body around so that she was facing Masami.

Masami nodded. “She said that you and Kazue are hanging around each other a lot.”

Satomi frowned and bit into her watermelon. “That's true. She has been hanging around me a lot lately. Not that I mind.”

Masami giggled. “That was my fault.”

“Hm?”

Masami sat up and scooted over to her girlfriend. Resting her head against her knees, she explained sheepishly, “Kazue knows I like you, so she's trying to see if you feel the same.”

Satomi blinked twice before nodding in understanding. “Ah, I see.”

“Sorry about that,” Masami said shyly.

Satomi shook her head. “Don't be. I think it's kind of cute!”

Masami sighed and reached out to touch Satomi’s leg. “I'll tell her to stop. She can be pretty persistent.”

“Hmmm…” Satomi hummed before setting down the watermelon and pulling Masami in for a kiss. Masami let out a tiny squeak of surprise before relaxing into the kiss. She felt Satomi’s hand in her hair as she scratched lightly at her scalp. Masami shivered and allowed Satomi to gain access to her mouth as she parted her lips to allow her in.

“We’re not very subtle,” Masami murmured when they parted shortly after. Their lips were still brushing against each other as they panted slightly in each other’s mouths. Satomi lowered her hand to caress the back of Masami’s neck.

“If that happens it happens,” she simply said before capturing her mouth again. Masami closed her eyes and let herself get lost in Satomi once more.

Later, Masami promised that she would tell Kazue to stop pestering her girlfriend. Satomi shrugged and rested her head against the taller girl’s shoulder.

“If you want to. She keeps touching my butt for some reason.”


III.



“Okay, so now that we've established that J and Oh-chan aren't together, I think she may have the hots for Yuki-chan.”

Kazue stormed into Masami’s bedroom with her serious face on, and holding a box of pocky in one hand. Masami noted that it was the chocolate flavour. Kazue threw herself on her friend’s bed face down for a few seconds before looking up at her and continued, “Or it can be the other way around: Yuki-chan seems very friendly with Oh-chan.”

“And you think this because?” Masami now found the whole thing amusing. Their friends were just assuming that Satomi liked almost every person she interacted with, and no one even had an inkling that Satomi was actually with her— even when they acted pretty affectionate with each other in front of the others. Guess we’re still too subtle Masami thought to herself wryly.

“Simple—Yuki-chan is exceptionally kind to Oh-chan.”

“She's kind to everyone,” Masami pointed out. Yuki was very kind, even if she wasn't the greatest cook to the point that Masami avoided giving her feeding shifts, and she had a short temper. But she was amiable all the same, and their baby dragon, Sho-chan, adored her.

Kazue made an annoyed noise. “And they’re always laughing together.”

Masami sent her friend an amused look. “Isn't that a bit of a reach?”

Kazue scowled at her. “Shut up, Masami. They're always giggling about something.”

“Hmmm…” She leaned back on her pillows and crossed her arms behind her head. “Are you sure they're not laughing at you?” She teased.

Kazue gave her a glare and moved to sit next to her friend, squishing herself against her. Masami patted her arm in an apologetic manner (she wasn’t though).

“I think Yuki-chan and Sa—Oh-chan just get along together very well.” She had almost called her girlfriend by her given name, and she hoped Kazue wouldn't hear her mistake.

Fortunately, the other woman was too busy scowling at her box of pocky and cursing Masami for even daring to suggest that they were laughing at her.

“I don't think so,” Kazue said in an offhanded manner, “I think they may like each other.”

Masami sent her a look of exasperation. “If you say so.”


“Kazue thinks Yuki-chan likes you,” Masami told her girlfriend the next morning when they were both heading over to the nest to let the dragons out for the day. She twirled the set of keys in her hands and watched as her girlfriend paused in her whistling to give her an incredulous expression.

Satomi shook her head in resignation. “Where did they even get this idea now?”

Masami chuckled and wrapped an arm around the smaller girl’s waist. “Beats me. They all have overactive imaginations.”

“Yuki-chan and I are just friends,” she said in exasperation and leaned into her girlfriend’s warmth. It was a chilly morning due to the mixture of the dragon’s magic that caused drastic fluctuations in temperature, and Satomi hated the cold. Masami was always warm and Satomi tried to grab onto that as much as she could.

“That's what I told Kazue too, but she's still isn't sure.”

“Yuki-chan has a boyfriend.”

“She… does?” Satomi curled a lock of Masami’s brown hair around her fingers. She really likes doing that Masami noted.

“Yeah, they've been seeing each other for a few months now. Yuki-chan didn't want to say anything because she wasn't sure if it would last,” Satomi explained.

Masami blinked owlishly and looked out at the field in front of them. “Wow. I had no idea.”

“Yuki-chan is good at keeping secrets.”

“She is,” Masami agreed.

When they reached the gates, Satomi covered the lock with her hand. Masami turned to her in confusion.

“Let's go flying today,” Satomi suggested and took the keys from her lover’s hands.

Masami giggled and shoved her hands in her pockets. “And where did you want to go?”

“Sammi really likes the water. We can go to the nearby lake.” Satomi unlocked the gate, pulling on the chains to let it fall in her hands. Masami looked past the gates and saw Sho-chan and Nino look over at them in curiosity.

Satomi waved at Sammi, a female water dragon with gold eyes and silver scales that glistened in the sunlight. The dragon gave a roar in greeting before quickly slithering over to her and pushing her head under Satomi’s hand for a petting.

“Why don't we take Fumio with us too?” Satomi asked, snuggling up to the dragon, who was in the process of wrapping its long body around her. Masami grinned at them before looking around for her dragon.

Technically, none of them owned the dragons as they were all wild beasts. Masami had opened her sanctuary for the dragons a few years ago by accident. She had found a large skinny green dragon injured on her home grounds and had rushed to heal it. Kazue, who had also been living with her at the time, had known more about dragons than she did, and was the driving force of the healing process.

Despite Kazue being the one to help get the dragon moving again, the dragon had taken a huge liking to Masami. She had given the dragon an old nickname she had had in highschool (courtesy of Kazue), Fumio.

Fumio had refused to leave. Well, okay, the dragon had left for a few days, and Masami had been a little sad then, despite Kazue’s lectures about how dragons were wild creatures and that you can't actually own a dragon, even if they act attached to you, Masami-chan. Masami had known, but it still hurt when the dragon vanished without saying good bye.

It wasn't until three days later that Fumio came back, and he had brought a friend (Kazue named the gold one, Nino, after herself). When Kazue realized that the dragons weren't going to leave after three days, she had dragged the other girl into the house and said with a sigh, “Now what?”

All in all, Masami thought that everything turned out okay. Eventually more dragons began coming to Masami’s house, and she began to build a large gate around her house and a large stable for the dragons to sleep in. She officially opened up the sanctuary with the help of Kazue, and Masami earned money by selling magic fertilizer and dragon tears, which was renowned for its healing properties. Fumio and Nino provided them with their income, but every so often, a wild dragon would fly by and amuse itself with the luxuries that Masami and Lazue had placed for their dragon friends and left behind a gift. These gifts were often shedded skin (perfect for clothing) or their tears.

Eventually, they realized that the two of them couldn't possibly run the sanctuary themselves, and Masami began looking for another employee. Yuki was the first person to join them after advertising the job for two months.

Sakurai Yuki had recently quit her job at her accounting firm and had wanted to do something different for a change. Masami had liked her right away, despite Kazue’s protests of Yuki not having any dragon caring experience.

“She can learn!” Masami had exclaimed cheerfully as they watched the woman’s retreating figure leave the gates of the sanctuary from their living room window. Kazue sent her a look of bemusement.

“Masami, the woman has zero—and I mean zero—experience dealing with dragons, much less magical creatures. She only knows how to crunch numbers and do paperwork.” Kazue pointed at the Yuki’s resume where it had listed her most recent job title as Senior Manager.

Masami shrugged and pulled out her laptop. “We all have to start somewhere, Kazue-chan. And I felt bad for her. She really looked like she wanted the job. We should give her a chance.” She opened up a new document and typed, Job Offer.

Kazue sighed and threw the resume on the dining table. “You’re just going to go ahead and send her that email, aren’t you?” she asked in exasperation as she took a seat in front of her. Masami hummed a yes. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

Kazue was right; it wasn’t an easy beginning for Yuki. They had to train her on everything about the handling and care of dragons. Despite the difficulties, Masami genuinely enjoyed Yuki’s company. She was a good balance between her own enthusiasm and Kazue’s lazy attitude.

Eventually a year had passed, and Yuki had decided to stay with the sanctuary permanently. On the second day of her first year with them, she moved into the empty room across Kazue’s. Masami had a huge house, so why not let the former accountant rent the room?

Jun and Satomi came a year later when two new dragons appeared and hadn’t wanted to leave. The three friends were having a difficult time keeping up with the care for the creatures and Masami realized she had to hire more help. Kazue was in charge of the hiring the second time around.

It was Satomi who approached the job first. Satomi had prior experience dealing with magical creatures from her previous position, and she was looking for a new job that would give her time to pursue her hobbies. Jun tagged along to make sure Satomi wasn't getting herself into some weird situation. Kazue had liked Satomi’s calm demeanour and kind personality and hired the woman on the spot. Jun came later—she visited Satomi a lot and sometimes helped with the tasks before Masami offered Jun a place in the team. She took it.

Jun wasn’t good with magical creatures like Satomi was, and she mainly stayed because Satomi had come to love the dragon sanctuary that the two best friends ran, and she enjoyed the quiet and relaxing environment of the sanctuary. That had been enough for her to quit her stressful job in the city and move to the small town near the mountains. And so, three women became five.

Masami honestly never felt luckier to have such wonderful ladies in her life. She loved them all, and she loved the dragons that they had made friends with. Despite the arguments or angry words that they had thrown at each other before, Masami knew she had made lasting bonds with them and it was all thanks to a green dragon. One green dragon that started it all, but was currently missing.

“Fumio!” Masami called out, looking around for her green friend. She walked over to the nest to see if she could spot a green dragon anywhere, but other than Nino and Sho-chan, the nest was empty. Nino grunted at her in greeting. Masami bent down to pet the golden dragon. “Do you know where he has gone off to, Nino? Where on earth has that dragon disappeared to?” Nino merely grunted again.

When she turned around to head back to Satomi, a large shadow loomed over her, and something big dropped down right in front of her face. Masami let out a shout of surprise and would have fallen over if not for Fumio’s tail grabbing her waist before she hit the ground. She heard Satomi’s laughter as she made her way over to them.

“Fumio!” Masami shouted, glaring at the dragon. The dragon wheezed, indicating that it was laughing at her. “Geez! You almost gave me a heart attack!” she whined and slapped the dragon lightly on its scales. Fumio unwrapped his body from Masami and stuck his tongue out at her. Masami placed her hands on her hips and narrowed her eyes at him. “Don’t make me take away treat time.” She almost burst out laughing at the immediate sad face.

“Aw, Fumio was just having fun, right?” Satomi said, giggling as she finally made her way over to them. Fumio let out another wheeze before nodding at her. “See?” She sent Masami a grin.

Masami pouted at them. “You’re all against me.”

Satomi wrapped her arms around Masami’s waist and buried her face in her lover’s neck. “Aw, nooo!” She denied before pulling back and grabbing her hand. “Shall we go? Sammi is getting impatient.”

Masami turned to Fumio. “Do you want to go for a fly?” The dragon nodded and slithered its way over to the riding equipment, Sammi right on his tails.

“I will never get over the fact that they love flying with us so much,” Masami commented as she stared after them. Satomi smiled and bumped her hips lightly against her’s.

“I personally think they like each other. Why else would they also fly together all the time?”

“You think so?” Masami asked as they started walking over to the excited dragons. Sammi and Fumio were grunting in dragonspeak… well Masami assumed so with the way they were looking at each other and making noises. “I always assumed Fumio had a crush on Nino.”

Satomi shook her head. “I thought so too, but Fumio and Sammi sleep together at night, did you know?”

“Really?” Masami gasped. “I never knew that!”

“That’s because they get up earlier than us most of the time. But I saw them once, when I was doing some art. It was really cute. They were wrapped around each other. Nino slept with Sho-chan and Marvel,” Satomi explained and grabbed her hand. “Let’s hurry! They look like they’re getting impatient.”

“They’re like little babies sometimes,” Masami whined and started running after her. Ahead, she could hear Satomi make a noise of agreement.

“Big whiny babies!” Satomi exclaimed.


“Okay, we can only be out for a few hours. Jun is cooking dinner tonight and she’s doing a new recipe,” Masami said as she climbed on Fumio’s back after putting the riding gear on him. Satomi nodded beside her, already seated on Sammi and holding on to the reins with two hands.

“We’ll be back, don’t worry,” she said sleepily. She tapped Sammi’s sides with her legs and the dragon lifted herself up in the air. Masami patted Fumio on the neck lightly and the green dragon followed after them.

“How far is this place?” Masami shouted over to Satomi when they were up in the air.

“Thirty minutes flight!” Satomi replied back loudly, turning her head back to Masami. “Just follow us!”

When they finally landed near the lake half an hour later, Masami’s hair was a mess. Satomi laughed as she helped her girlfriend fix her long brown locks with a comb she procured out of nowhere. Masami scowled as she detangled her hair. She had straight hair, but it got tangled way too easily. She wished she had cut her hair shoulder-length like Kazue’s, but Satomi had given her a very sad face when she had mentioned it.

“I wish I just went ahead and cut it!” She cried in frustration as she finally finished detangling the last few strands. Before them, the dragons were swimming in the lake. Sammi was thrashing about, trying to splash water on Fumio.

Satomi chuckled as she ran her fingers through Masami’s hair. Masami stared at the contrasting image their hair colours made. Satomi had long hair too, reaching down to her lower back, but it was in a more golden brown shade than her own dark brown. She thought it fit the Satomi very much—it matched her sun-kissed complexion.

“I would be sad. I love your long hair,” Satomi remarked.

Masami huffed. “It’s annoying when you have to work in the nest though.”

“I know, I have the same problem,” Satomi replied, and pressed her nose again Masami’s hair. Masami laughed and wrapped an arm around her girlfriend’s shoulders. “It smells good. Your hair always smells good.”

“Wouldn’t MatsuJun have me beat in that category?” Masami wondered as Satomi pressed herself against her.

“Jun-chan always smells expensive, but Masami-chan smells like sunshine,” came Satomi’s muffled reply.

“What does sunshine smell like?” Masami asked in amusement as she pulled the other woman on top of her lap. Satomi straddled her hips with her thighs and curled a lock of Masami’s hair around her finger, twirling it round and round.

“Hm. You.” Satomi leaned forward and captured her lips with her own.

Masami fell back and Satomi followed her down, not pulling away from her lips as she nibbled lightly on the her lips. Masami slipped her hands under Satomi’s shirt and caressed her soft stomach. She loved her tan skin, a perfect match to her own similar dark shade. Satomi broke the kiss and bit down on Masami’s ear before licking at the skin. She groaned as Satomi began to slowly roll her hips on top of her; what an image she made. If Masami had a dick, she would totally be hard right now.

“Ugh…” Masami groaned as Satomi slowly slipped her hands underneath her shirt to feel the rock hard abs that were hiding there.

“Want to have some fun?” Satomi whispered in her ear, her voice husky and dripping pure sex as continued to whisper sweet nothings in her girlfriend’s ear.

Masami knew it was a bad idea, but she couldn’t say no to that voice. And she definitely couldn’t say no to the things Satomi was promising she would do to her. Besides, they were in a very remote location, and there was no one around except for the two dragons who were playing in the lake, and paying no attention to their riders.

The four of them didn’t return until after dinner time, much to the annoyance of Jun.


IV.



So it wasn't Yuki, Kazue had told Masami a few days later, because Yuki had said she was dating a childhood friend from her hometown when Kazue had drilled her for answers.

“A boyfriend! Yuki-chan had a boyfriend all this time and we never knew about it!” Kazue complained as they made their way down to town. Masami didn't say how she already knew that their friend had a boyfriend. Kazue would end up being even angrier because Masami hadn't told her.

They both had the day off and Kazue had wanted to visit the game store to pick up a new game. That, and because Masami wanted to visit Satomi in town. It was Satomi’s turn today to sell the bottled dragon tears, and Masami hoped to catch her for lunch. As they made their way through the crowd, Kazue gave a shout of surprise.

“Look! It's Oh-chan and Toma!”

Masami looked over to where Kazue was pointing at. Satomi was wearing a blue sundress today and white flats. She was wearing her backpack that she used to carry the dragon tears to sell at the market. Masami thought she looked very cute. Satomi generally didn't wear makeup, but when she did, she opted for a simple look of eyeliner, mascara, and beige lipgloss that Jun had bought for her.

“Toma can't take his eyes off her! I knew he had a thing for her!” Kazue exclaimed as she pulled them to the side to watch.

“Huh?” Masami said. Toma liked Satomi? Kazue sent her an incredulous look.

“You didn't know?”

She shook her head and removed her ponytail to tie it back up again. “Nope. I've never really noticed. I’ve always thought he liked MatsuJun.”

Kazue snickered and they watched Toma show Satomi one of the fruits he was selling. Satomi was staring in fascination as he lugged out a big watermelon from the one of the boxes.

“Though, I don't think Oh-chan likes him back,” Kazue commented as Satomi placed her hand on the large watermelon, “she seems more fascinated with the fruit than the man selling it.”

Masami pursed her lips before turning to go. Kazue blinked at the unexpected reaction before running after her friend.

“Masami! Where are you going?”

“You wanted to go see the game shop right? There's no use standing here and watching them,” she replied, trying to keep her voice from sounding too weird. She wasn't jealous, not at all, but she felt frustrated for some reason. She didn't want to think about it.

Kazue shrugged. “It won't take too long. What's the hurry? There's no need to be jealous—”

“I'm not,” Masami immediately replied and shook her head. “But we have things to do, Kazue-chan, and I want to finish our errands first.”

Kazue sighed. “Alright, alright.”

Masami watched as her friend’s smaller frame walked down the street and followed. She turned her head back to see Satomi one last time, and saw that the she was already gone.


“You didn’t say hi to me today,” Satomi pouted as she slipped into Masami’s bedroom that night after everyone went to sleep. Masami rubbed her eyes and lifted the blankets to allow the older woman to slip in. She was almost on the verge of sleep but Satomi’s entrance was loud enough to distract her from it. She yawned and pulled the covers up over them.

“Hm?” She had no idea what Satomi was talking about. Sleepy, sleepy, sleepy.

“At the market! I saw you and Kazue, and I know you saw me but you didn't say hi.” Satomi was sulking and wrapped her arm around Masami’s waist. “We could've had lunch together.”

“Oh.” Masami turned her head to look over at her. “You seemed busy so I didn't want to distract you.”

Satomi sent her a puzzled look. “Masami-chan, since when was selling dragon tears busy?” She was right, it wasn't. They usually sold it to the potions apothecaries and the stores bought them without question all the time.

Masami shrugged. “And I wanted to let Toma have his chance.”

“For what?”

The way she asked that was just too cute and Masami had to contain herself from jumping her on the spot.

“His crush. I wanted to give him a chance to talk to you.”

Masami thought it was funny to see Satomi’s sleepy face melt into one of pure horror and utter shock.

It reminded her of the time when she sprayed water on Fumio when he was sleeping. She had wanted to get him to bathe for weeks, and the stubborn dragon just wouldn't do it (teenage rebellion?), so she had done it out of desperation because the dragon was just really starting to smell and Nino kept snapping at him every time the emerald dragon approached him. With the help of Kazue, the two of them had managed to drag one of their garden hoses towards the nest when the unsuspecting dragon was napping. When they got everything in place, Masami had sprayed the dragon with a blast of cold water, waking up the dragon with a shriek. Thankfully, that little incident had taught Fumio a lesson and the dragon regularly went for his baths without prompting. But the face he had made when she sprayed him with the water was forever etched in her mind; it was hilarious.

“Eh? Wait. What?” Satomi spluttered. “He what?”

“He has a crush on you. I think it's cute.” Masami giggled and muffled her laughter with the pillow when Satomi let out a whine.

“Ahh… why would you say that? Now I can never look at him in the face the same way again!” She complained and buried her face in her shoulder.

Masami reached up and combed her hand through Satomi's hair. “Why?”

“I'll be too paranoid now!” Satomi remarked, leaning into her touch. “Now I'll just be overthinking my actions me everytime I go talk to him.”

“Just talk to him as you normally do.”

“But now I'll just keep thinking about him liking me!” She complained. “Why did you have to tell me?!”

Masami patted her head in apology. “How about I make it up to you?”

“How?” Satomi grumbled, curiosity seeping into her voice.

Masami smirked and slipped her free hand underneath the covers. She felt Satomi’s breath hitch when she placed her hand between her thighs.

“Let me show you.”



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