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Yosuke thinks he's gonna go crazy from this.

"You keep staring at me and I'm going to start thinking something's up," he says without looking away from his textbook.

Souji smiles at him from across the little work table they're using, head resting on his crossed arms. "You can tell?"

"Of course I can." Souji's always there, in the corner of his vision, and it's a chore not to look at him. Yosuke flicks his fingers his way. "Do your homework."

"I'm done."

"Then do mine."

"You won't learn anything that way."

"Like I care." He can't help but feel self-conscious. "Look, just don't go blind or anything. It'll be a hassle."

Souji smiles. He doesn't stop staring but Yosuke stares too sometimes so he doesn't bring it up again. It's only fair.

Anyway, it's pretty nice.

*

Yosuke has thoughts about Souji. Lots of thoughts. Dirty ones. The kinds that guys don't normally have about their best friends, ones that make him come in his bed, in the shower, while he's sleeping.

'I jerk off to you,' he thinks about saying, when he and Souji are back-to-back on the roof and their lunch is sitting finished next to them. He could do it; Souji's wearing his headphones, listening to whatever songs Yosuke puts on for him. He wouldn't hear. 'All the time. I want you to do it too.'

He can't open his mouth. He digs his heels into the roof and pushes back, frustrated.

"You want something?" Souji asks, too loudly.

"No," Yosuke says, even though he knows Souji can't hear him. He clicks through his MP3 player and puts on something light and happy. A love song he keeps because he knows Souji likes it.

Souji laughs under his breath and pushes back against him. They don't leave until the song finishes and then they're late to class.

*

The thing about Yosuke's thoughts is that they make him a little sick because even in his head he can't admit that he wants it, and even he knows there's something sad about that, about how it scares him. Pathetic. In his head, though, Souji doesn't wait for him to admit it or ask if he wants it - Souji takes it and forces the words out of him. Yosuke likes that because even if he's asking for it, even if he really wants it, it's not his fault if Souji's making him.

He really wants it to not be his fault.

"Did you get into a fight with Kanji?" Souji asks, the day Yosuke comes over to his house sporting a split lip.

He could, maybe, if he wanted it bad enough. It's not like he hasn't thought about it once or twice, Kanji's so damn big, always trying to be tough. He'd rough him up, make it hurt, but it wouldn't be the same at all. Kanji wouldn't get it, what Yosuke was after, and there'd be too much to deal with afterwards. More importantly, Yosuke's not interested in him.

Recently, he's not interested in much besides Souji. He thinks people are starting to notice.

"It was some loser from school, I don't know his name." He knew the excuse, though - Junes and closed shops and other shit that wasn't his fault. "Sometimes I hate this place."

"No you don't," Souji says. He gets Yosuke on the couch and tilts his face up so he can press an icepack to his lip. "Don't flinch. Who started it?"

"I wouldn’t have if you'd been with me," Yosuke says, and that's probably true. "You're a strong guy, you could have held me back."

"I could've, couldn't I?" Souji murmurs, and Yosuke swallows hard imagining it.

*

Rise tells him he looks tired. Chie asks if he isn't working too much. Teddie surprises him with a meal from the food court during their shift together, and Kanji lets him know he's there if he ever needs to talk.

Yosuke says he's fine. Of course he is. He has Souji to talk to, after all, and who's better than that?

But it's like slow torture, the way things are between the two of them, and one day when he's feeling it sharper than usual, he blurts out, "Just do it, alright?"

"Do what?" Souji asks calmly, like he doesn't know, and for a quick, hard second Yosuke hates him, but he hates himself more for not being able to answer. Souji touches his back, keeps his voice light as he walks his fingertips up it. "Why don't you tell me?"

"Because you could just..." He can't finish. It's like being on the roof again, like there's a block in his throat. "You know," he says, and Souji does.

"It's not the same." Souji puts his cheek to his back. His hand keeps moving up and down, stroking now. "It's okay; I'm patient."

He says that, but Souji sounds as tired as Yosuke feels. This is getting to be too much.

*

"Okay," Yosuke says finally, when he's invited Souji over for yet another night at his house and they're laying in the dark of his room, close enough to touch. "Okay, I want you to..."

He thought he could do it because it's dark, but he can tell Souji's looking at him. It's impossible; he freezes up again, every worry and fear rushing to the front of his mind.

"Keep going," Souji says, and Yosuke shakes his head. Souji sits up to turn on a lamp and Yosuke can see his face now, the almost painful hope on it. "Say it."

"I can't, there's..." He gestures vaguely, not sure who or what he's indicating - Teddie, sleeping in the next room; his parents in their bed down the hall; the whole of Inaba outside his window. All of it.

Souji understands enough to say, "You don't have to tell anyone but me."

The lump forms in Yosuke's throat again. He closes his eyes and swallows it down. "I want you," he gets out. It cracks, but it's out there.

"Say it with your eyes open."

Souji's watching him, refusing to come closer until he gets himself together, and it's not fair, Yosuke said it, didn't he?

"I want you." It's not easier the second time, and there's a flash of pain in his chest with every beat of his heart, his skin gone clammy from nerves, but the world doesn't end, and he doesn't feel different, not the horrible way he worried he would.

What does happen is that Souji relaxes like he's letting go of a tension he's held on too long, says, "Me too," and leaves his bed to join him.

"We'll go slow," he says, even though his hands are already on Yosuke.

"Slow," Yosuke repeats. He's still scared, and part of him still wishes Souji would just take it, but when Souji leans down he takes a deep breath and meets him halfway.