Nakatsu was about to break every rule of manly bathroom etiquette. He had been trying to get Sano alone for days, without success. Now that an opportunity had presented itself, Nakatsu wasn't about to let trifling matters like good manners get in his way.
Nakatsu peeked under the doors of the stalls. No feet, and no sounds except for running tap water as Sano washed his hands. Perfect! This was indeed the moment he'd been waiting for. The very moment. Nakatsu swallowed, and rubbed his damp palms against his slacks.
Sano was heading for the door.
"Wait!" Nakatsu said, louder than he'd intended. He bounded forward and grabbed Sano by the shoulders, pulling him back into the temporary privacy of the bathroom.
Sano looked shocked. As shocked as Sano ever looked. Which meant that he looked more irritated than surprised, but Nakatsu knew. Friends understood one another, and he and Sano were friends. Good friends. Companions. Buddies.
"Nakatsu," Sano said.
The very best of friends, Nakatsu thought, and said: "I want to kiss you."
Sano stared at him.
Nakatsu was nearly vibrating in place, full of anticipation. He had building up his courage for weeks, and he had finally done it. He had talked to Sano, laid out his plans--okay, no, not really, but Sano knew that Nakatsu wasn't really gay, so he had to know that there was a plan. . .
"No," Sano said.
"No?" Nakatsu repeated, stunned. "But! We're friends! Companions! Buddies!" How could Sano have said no?! "No" wasn't part of Nakatsu's plan. Nakatsu wheeled backwards in shock, hands to his heart.
Maybe the bathroom hadn't been the best place to make his proposal, after all.
"I have to get to practice," Sano said, and brushed past Nakatsu.
"Sano! I didn't mean we had to do it right now!" Nakatsu shouted, running after his rapidly retreating friend. "Sanooooo!"
It took all of Nakatsu's willpower, but he managed to wait a full week before approaching Sano again. Sano liked to practice his high jump late into the night, long after his teammates had left. Nakatsu waited until Sano collapsed to the mat, finally exhausted, before jumping him.
"Sano," Nakatsu said, leaning over the other boy.
Sano groaned, and threw an arm over his eyes. "Forget it, Nakatsu," he said.
Nakatsu grinned. His timing was perfect! Sano was too spent to put much force into his protests. With a little careful persuasion, and a lot of Nakatsu's patented charm, he would win Sano over to his point of view in no time.
"It's not that I want to kiss you," Nakatsu said. He wasn't at all gay. "I'm not gay, you know."
Sano grunted when Nakatsu paused expectantly.
"I do love Mizuki, though," he said, speaking so fast that the words came out garbled, all but impossible to understand. Nakatsu had been worried, but saying the words hadn't been as difficult as he had feared. The ground hadn't opened up beneath him. He didn't feel any different. "I love Mizuki," Nakatsu said again, awed.
Sano was staring at him. He was frowning, but listening.
"I know you like him, too," Nakatsu said. He held up his hands, palms open: no, no, don't bother arguing! "I know you aren't gay, Sano. Mizuki is just. . . special. He deserves to have someone who knows what he's doing, don't you think? You don't want to freak out when you kiss Mizuki, do you? You don't want his first kiss to be bad, do you?" Nakatsu was breathing hard, face inches from Sano's.
Sano put his hand on Nakatsu's chest. And pushed.
"I'm not going to be your practice kiss," Sano said. He rolled off the mat, and onto his feet. He set his hands on his hips, and glared down at Nakatsu. "Don't bother Mizuki with this, either."
"You didn't have to shove me," Nakatsu muttered. "And I'm not bothering Mizuki. We have an understanding! A connection! Ours is a meeting of souls!"
Sano huffed. He might have been amused; he was probably annoyed. "Go to sleep, Nakatsu."
Nakatsu sat up. He gave Sano a thumbs-up, and a wide, encouraging smile. "Think about it," he said.
"I don't think so," Sano said.
He was wearing Sano down. Nakatsu was sure of it.
Sano was avoiding him. Sano made polite noises, talking about school-work, and track meetings--but Nakatsu knew. Nakatsu was a man with a mission. More than that, he was a man in love. He wasn't going to make a fool of himself in front of Mizuki just because Sano was too reticent to kiss him.
No, he was not!
Nakatsu twitched impatiently under his covers, waiting for the dorms to settle into silence. When he was sure that everyone was asleep--or too busy with their own concerns to pay any attention to his--Nakatsu crept from his room and into Sano and Mizuki's.
Nakatsu cast a longing look in Mizuki's direction. Yes, he thought. He was doing this for Mizuki! He was doing this for love!
Sano grumbled irritably when Nakatsu poked him. Nakatsu frowned. Maybe he should kiss Sano now. . . ? He shook his head. No, no--he couldn't take advantage of Sano while he was sleeping. Nakatsu poked Sano again, harder this time.
"Wake up!" Nakatsu hissed.
Sano groaned, and rolled onto his back. "Go 'way," he mumbled.
"Not until you kiss me," Nakatsu whispered back.
Sano cursed, and opened his eyes. "I've kissed you before, idiot."
True, Nakatsu thought--but Sano had been drunk, and Nakatsu hadn't been ready. The kiss had been over before Nakatsu had time to react. He definitely hadn't had the chance to prove how talented he was, or how perfectly not freaked out he was by kissing another guy.
"That doesn't count," Nakatsu said. "C'mon, Sano--be a friend!" He stared at Sano with wide, beseeching eyes.
"You'll shut up and let me sleep if I do?" Sano asked.
"Yes!" Victory! Nakatsu surged to his feet, and pumped his fist in the air. It had been a long and difficult battle, but he had persevered. And now, now! Victory was finally his!
Sano was sitting at the edge of his bed, watching Nakatsu as he danced in place. Sano's hair was mussed, his eyes heavy with sleep. Nakatsu stared at him, at a sudden loss. Sano stared back, his impatience visibly growing by the second. Sano was in bed, half-naked--and he had just agreed to kiss Nakatsu.
"Hurry up," Sano said. "I don't have all night."
"Ah," Nakatsu said. He called forth a sunny smile, and flashed Sano a thumbs up. "Then I'll let you get back to sleep! There's no need to rush, after all. We can wait until--" you're wearing a shirt, Nakatsu thought, and said: "--you're ready."
Sano's legs were long. He had crossed the room before Nakatsu even realized what was happening. Sano's hand was warm and strong against the nape of Nakatsu's neck. Nakatsu's knees were not shaking. His heart was not beating double-time. He was not freaking out. No way. Nuh uh.
"Idiot," Sano said.
Sano's drunken kiss had been messy, wet and fast. Sano was focused now, in control--and if he felt at all awkward, Nakatsu couldn't tell. Nakatsu made a noise that came embarrassingly close to a whimper. His hands flapped between their bodies, uncertain. Sano's chest and shoulders were bare; his hips clothed, but too close to dangerous territory.
Sano's mouth opened against Nakatsu's. It became a choice between holding onto Sano, or collapsing. Nakatsu grabbed Sano's shoulders with sweaty palms, fingers spasming.
"Sano? Nakatsu?" Mizuki was peering at them over the bannister.
Nakatsu was painfully aware of the picture they presented: he and Sano, pressed against each other. Nakatsu, clinging to Sano's shoulders. Sano's hand tangled in Nakatsu's hair. All of it, witnessed by Mizuki! Mizuki! Nakatsu swooned. And collapsed to the floor when Sano let go of him.
"Morning," Mizuki slurred. He paused. "Not morning, is it?"
Nakatsu scrambled to his knees, and held out his hand to the other boy. "Mizuki! I can explain everything! Almost everything! Some of it!"
Mizuki's eyes rolled. His head thudded back on his pillow.
Sano's lips twitched. "He's still asleep. Trust me, he won't remember any of this tomorrow."
That sounded like the voice of experience. Nakatsu aimed a suspicious look at Sano. "How do you know? What have you been doing to Mizuki during the night?!" Nakatsu's face felt warm. Thinking of Mizuki, and Sano, and Mizuki and Sano only made his face hotter, his breath shallower.
Sano snorted. "Go back to your room, Nakatsu."
"You're a good friend, Sano," Nakatsu said.
Sano crawled back into bed, pulling the covers over his head as he went. "I know," he said. "Now, if you aren't leaving, shut up."