"It's a date," Take insists, glaring up at Tsucchi with the face that says he will not be swayed on any account. "I know it is."
Tsucchi sets down the binoculars he "borrowed" from Yamada in 3-B so he can look at his diminutive friend without feeling dizzy. "Two guys can't go out for a meal together without it being a date? Hayato and Ryuu eat out together all the time. We all do."
"Yeah, like ramen, or takoyaki, or something we can actually afford." Take points through the gap in the bushes towards the bright lights and white tablecloths. "Not fancy Italian restaurants! Hayato's still paying off that broken window so I know he's got no money right now, which means Ryuu's getting the bill." He gives Tsucchi a self-satisfied smile. "Dee-to."
"Early Christmas present," Tsucchi scoffs. "I still say no date."
"Then why did you bring binoculars when I said I wanted to check up on them?"
"Borrowed them 'cause a new girl moved in across the street and I wanted to check her out, and figured I'd go return 'em when we were done here. I just wanted to make sure she was nothing like Yankumi."
Take's not buying it. "You expect me to fall for that?"
Tsucchi grins. "Yep. You want to try these or not?" He dangles the binoculars just out of reach; Take stretches up on his toes once, then settles for elbowing Tsucchi in the side to level the playing field.
The binoculars, when Take tries them out, prove most helpful. The table he wants is conveniently close to the window, occupied by two of his closest friends, neither of whom seems very happy. Hayato's wearing the smartest thing he owns - his school uniform - but the jacket buttons are done up for once and he keeps fidgeting with them, clearly ill at ease in such fancy surroundings.
Ryuu's different. He's in black pants and a white sweater, simple but expensive, casually elegant, like he's at another one of his parents' dinner parties where he's expected to be on his best behaviour and not scowl at too many of the guests. Though other diners sneak peeks at him over their wine glasses he ignores them all, never taking his eyes from Hayato even when he speaks to the waitress. The girl's gorgeous, blushing prettily when she approaches the table. Ryuu never even looks her way.
"Hayato's out of his depth," Take mutters. "Are they gonna make it through the meal?"
Tsucchi tugs on the cord, trying to steal the binoculars back. "Does Ryuu still look like he's about to order someone's execution?"
Take shivers. "You think he knows we're watching?" They both crouch a little lower behind the bushes and hope they don't get spotted by a passing policeman.
"Nope," Tsucchi says eventually, when it's clear Ryuu isn't about to come rushing out to yell at them. "He's probably just hungry. It doesn't look like the kind of place where you get decent portions. Probably pay a fortune for something that wouldn't keep a supermodel alive."
"What would you know about supermodels?"
"A lot more than you."
"I wish we could hear what's going on in there," Take says. "They look like they're arguing now."
Tsucchi succeeds in pulling the binoculars across to his own eyes for a peep. That this has the effect of pulling Take right up against him is not a problem - it's a cold night, and friends share warmth, right?
The argument appears to be about Hayato's food, into which he's viciously jabbing a fork. He's leaning across the table, eyes wide, free hand clenched into a fist. Ryuu rolls his eyes, takes his plate in one hand and Hayato's in the other and switches them around, fork and all, then carries on eating as if nothing has happened. Hayato sits back down, is forced to steal Ryuu's fork in exchange. He looks much happier with his new meal.
"Indirect kiss!" Tsucchi gasps.
"Let me see!"
"Get your own!"
After a short tussle in which one of Take's hairslides disappears down a drain and is never seen again, he regains control of the binoculars. By this point the food is mostly gone - Ryuu and Hayato are both fast eaters who believe in consuming what they can before someone can come along and take it away from them. Hayato's starting to relax now. He's unfastened the top couple of buttons on his jacket and stretched his legs out under the table. Ryuu's doing the same. It's not a big table; their legs are side by side underneath, nudging each other from time to time. Hayato says something that makes them both laugh, transforming them from sullen teenagers into beautiful, joyful children with light hearts and brilliant, matching smiles.
"Shame Hyuuga's busy tonight," Take laments, letting the binoculars fall around his neck. "His phone's got the best camera. We could've taken pictures."
"We don't need pictures. They're just having a meal, that's all."
"You're the one who said there was an indirect kiss," Take points out. "You think it's a date too."
"I just said- uh oh."
Take follows Tsucchi's gaze to the restaurant window, where Ryuu's unimpressed face is against the glass, watching them with about as much warmth as an ice cube. Hayato's standing behind him, giving them a bunny-eared "ja ne".
"I think," Take frantically untangles himself from the binoculars and jams them in Tsucchi's jacket pocket, "this would be a good time to leave."
"And not mention it again," Tsucchi agrees. He's not ready to go home yet, though. Take's playing at being scared, with a little quirk in his smile that says he's not really worried about being caught but Tsucchi's good to hide behind if they are. Their friends are enjoying themselves, so why shouldn't they? "We should go somewhere they can't find us for a while, just in case."
Take nods. "Not the game centre, fine. Got any ideas?"
There's a cinema across the street, bright lights and the scent of popcorn beckoning them in. Fancy Italian meals are out of Tsucchi's budget but he thinks he could probably manage this. "Feel like seeing a movie?"