"Smell you later."
Smell you later. The words brought Riley back to years ago, during his 17th Summer on his father's Indian countryside villa.
The man had stepped out of the cab. "Smell you later," he said to the driver. He came up the walkway elegantly, dressed in clothes that said: "I'm here in the summertime but have no plans of going outside." Riley couldn't take his eyes off him.
"Riley," his dad began, "this is my former graduate student, Eran Kristiansen. Eran, this is my son I told you about."
The pale man extended his hand and Riley shook it with his brown one. The way their skin contrasted― "He's as tall as you mentioned, Noah." He looked at Riley. "How old are you?"
"Then not much older than my students."
Riley's dad nodded. "You're twenty-four, right?"
"In a few months."
"Then you're not much older. 6, 7 years? That's nothing. You'll get along well."
Riley didn't have a passion for much of anything besides cooking. And Eran loved to eat. They bonded over their commonalities. Something between them sparked.
"How do you like the bananas foster?" Riley asked.
"It's delicious." Eran's tongue extended as he put the fork in his mouth. It seemed deliberate when paired with the fiery gaze he directed at Riley.
Desire overwhelmed him. These feelings were new. Riley didn't have the guts to act on them.
Riley's girlfriend leaned forward for one last kiss. "I can't anymore," he told her.
"But... but we just slept together!"
He couldn't tell her it was just a release of the desire he felt for Eran. It would break her heart.
"Is it him? I saw the way you looked at each other. Don't worry. I'm an understanding female. But I have to warn you: you're in for heartbreak."
Riley knew she was right. That was why he was holding back. That's why the desire was eating him alive.
"I saw your girlfriend leave earlier." Eran slurped, spoon by his sweet lips.
"Yeah." Riley looked at Eran, admiring the man's beauty and allure as he ate his stew. He wanted to see the passion he felt reflected in Eran's eyes. "We slept together."
Eran froze. "Did you?"
Eran gazed at Riley. "I can imagine it."
Riley's heart clenched. He hated how Eran led him on, keeping him an arm's length away.
Chores were also Riley's hobby. He gathered the towels in the house but paused when he got to the guest room. The door creaked as it opened. The room was empty. Eran had left earlier with his father to go study some Indian bacteria. Riley walked over to the bed, noticing the towel. He picked it up and found it still damp from Eran's shower. The painful urge erupted inside of him and he brought the towel to his nose. It smelled lovely. Like dusty books and roses, but manly roses. Inside, Riley was a mix of confusion and desire. He inhaled maniacally, sure he'd suffocate himself if he continued any longer.
The door creaked and Riley whipped his head around. Eran was standing at the door, watching him.
"I― I'm sorry, I―"
"Shh," Eran said. "I know."
Riley leaped to his feet. "I'm crazy about you! This desire is strange and overwhelming, but I can't let it go!"
"You have to," Eran said, looking away from Riley's desperate face. "Forget about your feelings. It's just admiration. Fleeting emotion."
"It's not! It's more than that!"
"No!" Eran ran his hand roughly through his strawberry blonde hair. "We can't!"
The next thing Riley knew, Eran's lips were on his. The feeling was amazing and filled him with passion. And desire. It was all so forbidden, but he couldn't stop the feelings overflowing. He knew neither could Eran.
Riley remembered the way Eran ate his bananas foster as he stared at the unpeeled banana in his hands. He sensually removed the peel, then licked the tip. His tongue ran all over the fruit and just as he was about to suck it into his mouth, his bedroom door swung open.
He tossed the banana away and it landed on his desk. "Oh, h-hey, Eran." He hoped he hadn't been seen.
Eran walked into the room and up to the desk. He looked at the banana covered in drool and picked it up. Riley's face went hot as Eran stared at him while pushing the banana into his mouth and took a soft, luxurious bite, banana juices squirting out. It was symbolic of the desire within them both and the lovemaking they would later do that would only be hinted at but not described.
Riley's dad frowned. "Riley, I know about you and Eran. And I have absolutely no problems with it. Here's a plane ticket. Go to Japan and spend a romantic time together before he returns to Canada."
Riley took the plane tickets gratefully. "Thank you, Dad. Thank you."
Eran cuddled up beside Riley as they sat on the balcony of a Japanese inn, gazing at the summer trees and flowing stream. Riley wrapped his arm around the man and they shared a kiss.
"Riley," Eran said. "It's been lovely. I'll never forget the time we spent together. But I have to go back to my students."
A painful ache permeated through Riley's chest. "I'll never forget you. Ever." Maybe one day in the future they could meet again.
"You're the most amazing, beautiful young man in the world."
They kissed again and rolled into the outdoor hot spring. Riley looked over Eran's shoulder as they embraced. Far on the coffee table was a BL manga. Oh, how he wished they would've been lucky enough to get the same happy ending.