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"HAGANE KOTETSU!" Izumo stormed up to his best friend. It was only by virtue of the teacher standing a few doors away watching him that Izumo didn't punch Kotetsu. "You fucking  asshole !" He managed to keep his voice down, but only barely.

Kotetsu flinched at the f-bomb, blinking at his friend and Izumo's eyes narrowed. "What…"

"Don't try to play innocent with me," Izumo said. "I know you  way  too well. You told him! You  asked  him!"

"What? No! I didn't!" Kotetsu protested, but Izumo wasn't listening, he was too busy angrily working the lock on his locker door.

"How  could  you? You promised! Why would you tell Hayate I like him? Why? God, gym class was hard enough as it was!" Izumo raged, banging his head on his open locker door, not paying a bit of attention to Kotetsu's face.

"Uh, Zumo…," Tetsu started.

"Don't. Just don't! He's got to think I'm an idiot now…" He buried his face inside his locker.

"Zumo-" Kotetsu tried again.

"Don't you get it? God, you were right. I know I said I didn't have a crush on him, but dammit I should know by now that you know me better than I do." He shook his head, digging into the bottom of the pile for his math book. 

"Um, Zumo…" Kotetsu started again, but it just ended in a sigh when Izumo ignored him.

"You figured it out before  I  did. But, did you have to  tell  him I had a crush on him? I mean, come on! Upperclassmen do  not  get crushes on freshmen! And… and… I still don't even know if he's straight!" The last was said on an almost wail and Izumo hit his head against the locker door again. "Fuck! Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!" 

Kotetsu flinched again at each subsequent "f" word. When he recovered, he finally shouted, "Kamizuki Izumo!"

Izumo turned to him. "WHAT?!"

Kotetsu pointed to the spot on the wall behind Izumo on the other side of his locker door.

"Oh  shit ." Izumo closed his eyes and the color drained from his face. "He's there, isn't he?" He opened his eyes to see Kotetsu nodding. "You… didn't tell him?" Tetsu shook his head. " Fuck. " He whispered then glanced apologetically at Kotetsu when he reacted.

He gripped the locker door hard and took a deep breath then he plastered a very fake smile on his face and very slowly closed the locker door.

Gekkou Hayate was slightly taller than Izumo. He was lean with thick shaggy dark hair that hung over his dark eyes and was downright gorgeous, in Izumo's opinion. He was also leaning against the lockers next to Izumo's with an amused smile on his face. "Hi."

"H-" Izumo had to clear his throat. "Hi." He said, and could hear the shakiness in his voice, which brought his color back with a vengeance, leaving his cheeks bright red. "You… heard all of that, didn't you?"

Hayate nodded his head. "Yes," he said, his smile spreading and the amusement was still in his eyes.

"Right. Um, well, I'm… going to go… get hit by a bus now. It was… um… nice talking to you." Izumo said, turning with the full intention of running out into the street. With any luck, a bus  would  be driving by at that point so he  could  get hit.

"You know, there are more pleasant ways to spend a Friday afternoon and the weekend than in the hospital." Hayate said, conversationally.

Izumo swallowed and looked at Kotetsu for help, but he just shook his head and shrugged. Izumo's gaze told him there'd be retribution then Izumo turned back around. "I'm afraid that, at the moment anyway, I can't possibly think of a single thing that would be more appealing than throwing my humiliated self in front of that bus. Maybe I'll be lucky and bypass the hospital altogether." He looked down at his watch. "In fact, one is due any minute."

Hayate laughed and stood up from the lockers. "Do you really have to catch a bus to go home?" He asked.

Izumo glanced again at Kotetsu who, for once, stayed silent. More retribution was promised. "Um, yeah. Tetsu and I always take the bus."

Hayate nodded. "Well, how about this, why don't I give you two a ride home and we can talk somewhere that  isn't  the middle of the school hallways about the rumors I've heard and the things that you've just confirmed, hmm?"

Izumo was wondering if it might be possible for the bus to take a detour and just drive right through the school for him. He paused for a moment, but apparently he wasn't going to be that lucky. He glanced once more at Tetsu who just shrugged again which meant that it didn't matter to him.

Zumo took a deep breath and forced a smile onto his face. "Um, that'd be great, thanks. I… didn't think freshmen usually drove…"

Hayate turned to head down the hall when Izumo closed his locker door and the other two fell into step next to Hayate. "Freshmen don't. I'm not a freshman."

"Oh. Oops." Izumo wondered how much more of an ass he could make of himself and if maybe he'd be lucky and an earthquake or tornado might hit instead. He waited for a moment, but heard no rumbling or wind and sighed. "I'm sorry."

Hayate chuckled. "Quite alright. I'm usually taken for a freshman. The only thing that saves me is my height, though that's not all that spectacular, compared to some of the guys here." He turned a smile on Izumo again and Izumo had to fight the urge to run. Again. No one should be that good looking. "In fact, I once had a teacher - and this was just this year, mind you - but the teacher asked me if I was supposed to be in the building and shouldn't I be over at the middle school."

"You're joking." Izumo stared at him. Maybe he looked young for an upperclassman, but really. 

Hayate shook his head. "Nope. It  was  earlier in the year and, apparently, I've grown a bit since then, but…" he trailed off with a shrug.

Hayate pushed open the door at the end of the hall and held it for Izumo to go through. Izumo glanced over at him then stepped through and his eye caught Tetsu's. Tetsu was strangely quiet, but he gave a smile of encouragement and Izumo started to feel a little better.

Only a little. He still mostly wanted to die of embarrassment. They approached an old blue soft-top Jeep and Hayate went around to the passenger side to unlock the door. Izumo opened it and Tetsu slid into the back before Izumo could try to hide back there. Tetsu gave him a look that told him he was being ridiculous and Izumo sighed, climbing into the front seat.

Hayate tossed his bag in the back next to Tetsu and climbed up behind the wheel. "Um, where am I going?" Hayate asked after he'd started the car and waited a moment and Izumo blushed, fighting another urge. This one to bounce his head off of the dash. He gave Hayate directions and closed his eyes, taking a deep breath to try desperately to calm down. 

Hayate glanced in the rearview mirror. "Are you going home? Or to Izumo's?" He asked Kotetsu.

"It's the same place," Izumo answered for him. At the puzzled glance, he said, "My mom sort of adopted him. His…"

"My real mother's not around anymore." Kotetsu finished. "Izumo's mom is my mom now. She kind of has been for a while, anyway."

"Okay, then, that's easy," Hayate said and Izumo was grateful that he let it go. His friendship with Tetsu was complicated enough without trying to explain it. 

They sat in silence for a while then Hayate turned on the stereo. WKDS came floating through the speakers and they let the music fight the awkwardness. 

"No." Hayate said, turning down the stereo a bit and Izumo's head whipped around.

"No?" Izumo asked, confused.

"Um. The answer to the question you wanted to ask. No, I'm not straight." Hayate clarified.

"Oh." Izumo blinked, not sure what to do with that, except maybe hope the other boy didn't think he was a complete idiot. 

He wasn't really holding out much of that hope.

Silence fell again and the awkwardness in the car grew once more. Izumo glanced over his shoulder at Kotetsu who was just sitting back and looking out the window. He didn't know what to make of that, or of the unreadable expression on Tetsu's face, so he turned around and tried to get a grip on his nerves again. Thankfully, a few minutes later, they pulled up in front of the house. 

Hayate turned off the car and Izumo cleared his throat. "Want to um, come in for um, a drink or something?" Izumo wanted to bounce his head off of something at the nervousness that he knew came through, but the window beside him was plastic instead of glass and obviously not going to do enough damage. He contemplated the windshield, but it was just a little too far away. Perhaps the seat would eat him…

"Sure." Hayate said, interrupting Izumo's internal panic. He climbed out of the Jeep and started around the car. Izumo scrambled to get out quickly, Tetsu right behind him. He dug his house key out and nearly dropped it twice before he managed to open the door. 

"Um, just have a seat, I'll be right back." Izumo stuttered and waved a hand a little frantically toward the living room. With a glance at Kotetsu he escaped to the bathroom. 

He shut the door a little too hard and banged his head against it a couple of times. He turned to the mirror and noticed he was  still  blushing. "Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. What the hell am I doing?" He asked the mirror.

"Panicking." Kotetsu said from a crack in the door, a laugh in his voice and Izumo nearly screamed.

"FUCK, Tetsu!" He slammed a hand over his pounding heart and glared at his best friend. "Don't leave him out there alone!"

"Why not? He's got the TV."

Izumo rolled his eyes. "Because he's a  guest ," he hissed. 

"Naw, he's your future boyfriend," Tetsu said with a grin.

Izumo gave in to an urge and punched Tetsu in the arm. Hard. "Ouch! What the hell?"

"I owed you that." Izumo grouched. He turned back to the sink, twisted the knobs and splashed some cold water on his face, hoping it would cool the color in his cheeks a little. "Go out and get him a drink," he said through the towel. "I'll be right out."

"Sure, sure," Kotetsu said and Izumo was  sure  he could hear a laugh. He was going to punch his friend again later. Or maybe take it out on him at the Dojo the next day.

He hung the towel back up, took another deep breath and left the bathroom. Why did he feel like he was walking to his doom?

When he got back out to the living room the god of a boy was sitting on the couch, drink can in hand, half-watching the television. When Izumo stepped in, he sat up a little more and smiled at him again. Izumo noticed that Tetsu had made sure to take the only chair they had so he'd be forced to sit on the couch next to Hayate.

He took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a second.  Get a grip!  He smiled back. "So, um…"

"I figure we've answered your big question," Hayate said.

Izumo blinked, confused. "My…?"

"My preferences." He clarified. "I figure that was probably the biggest thing."

"OH." Izumo breathed a sigh of relief. "Um, yeah, I guess." Izumo glanced at Tetsu, who was trying to ignore them and failing miserably. He had a half smile on his face that had nothing to do with the rerun that was currently on the television. 

Izumo closed his eyes again and took one more breath. "Look, I feel like an idiot," he said, opening them again. "I thought Tetsu said something to you, or asked you or something and I was just too mad that he might have broken a promise to me to think clearly and I never really expected for you to be standing there anyway so I was just running off at the mouth because, like I said, I was just ma-" he stopped when Hayate put a finger over his lips. "mad." He finished when the finger moved.

Hayate's lips twitched; he was obviously fighting another smile. "I like you too. How about we go out, hmm? A movie or something?" Hayate asked and Izumo blinked at him.

"Out? Like… a date?"  Shit. Way to trap him into one. He probably just meant to hang out or…

"Is that a problem? Are you allowed to?" Hayate asked.

"Hmm?" Izumo had to focus.  He wasn't arguing the date thing He wants to go out on a date with me. Oh shit, now what?  "Oh, um, yeah. I guess. I… haven't been on one before, but I don't think she'll - I mean my mom - I don't think she'll have a problem with it. My… mom doesn't really know, I guess. I mean, my preferences. But that's mostly because she just works a lot. I just don't think she's noticed that I don't really talk about girls all that much." He wound down and knew his face was probably bright red again. He sighed, closing his eyes and wishing for the millionth time that the floor would just  swallow him up  already. "God, I still sound like an idiot."

Hayate laughed again. "No, you don't."

Izumo shook his head. "I don't know how you can think I don't."

"It's opinion. Just accept it. So, how about tonight? Movie? I'll pick you up at six?" Hayate asked, smiling.

"Uh… okay." Izumo said, swallowing. "Six." Hayate set his empty drink can down and stood, Izumo standing up with him. 

Izumo walked Hayate to the door. "See you tonight," Hayate said, quietly and Izumo had to swallow. The look on Hayate's face made Izumo blush again. It was… well, Izumo didn't know how to describe it. The amusement from earlier was gone. He was serious and quiet, instead. 

"See you tonight," Izumo echoed and Hayate pulled the door open. Izumo watched him as he went down the short walk from the porch. He turned and waved when he got to his car and Izumo waved back then watched him get in and drive off.

"Oh fuck, I'm in so much trouble." He groaned, sliding down the door and landing on the floor.

"Why?" Kotetsu asked from the living room doorway.

"I'm going on a date, Tetsu. What the hell was I thinking?" He put his head down on his knees and tried to remember how to breathe. "I'm going on a date. With another guy. The one I have a crush on."

"You have a problem with the fact that it's a guy?"

Izumo looked up at his best friend. " No . You know that. But then again, how many gay guys do you know at school?"

"Point." Tetsu said, nodding. "But do you really care what they think?"

Izumo shook his head. "No, you're right. I care what you think." He paused, frowning. "What do you think?"

Kotetsu crossed the small hallway and sat down next to his friend. "I think you're freaking out over nothing. It's a movie. Maybe some food. And he's a guy, just like us. He goes to the same school, has the same - well, mostly the same - classes we do. He watches TV, listens to music and is, you know, a mostly normal guy."


"Well, he's got to be a little weird. He likes you, doesn't he?"

The attempt at humor bypassed Zumo. He stared at his friend a moment then shook his head. "I don't get it."

"What's there not to get? Why wouldn't someone like you?" Kotetsu asked, sounding irritated.

Izumo missed the tone and shrugged a shoulder, but didn't say anything.

"Fuck that," Tetsu said and Izumo fought the urge to flinch. His cock, despite his mental state, still responded to the word. They really were going to have to figure that out. He glanced up at his friend and glared. "Look, Zumo, you're hot. I've told you that. And obviously, this guy thinks so, too." He shrugged. "Why not just go and enjoy the movie and see where it goes from there?"

Izumo sighed and let his head fall back against the door. "I guess. God, I just feel like such an idiot. What a way to start."

Kotetsu shrugged. "Maybe it was better." At Izumo's look, he said, "look, at least he knows  you like him, right? That part's done."

Izumo frowned. "I didn't think of it that way."

"And he said he liked you." Another shrug. "Seems like the weirdest part's out of the way."

"Yeah. I guess so." He sighed. "Now I just gotta figure out what the hell to wear." He made a face. "I sound like the giggling girls in the cafeteria." He shuddered.

Kotetsu laughed. "Hardly. You're not going to start wearing makeup, right?" The glare from Izumo was answer enough. "And as long as you don't discuss whether your shoes match your bag, we're good."

Izumo laughed, feeling better. Leave it to Tetsu. "Thanks." He bumped Tetsu's shoulder with his own. He glanced at the clock. He still had a couple of hours. "Well, better get some homework done or something."

But an hour later, he hadn't done a single bit of homework and was, instead, just staring at himself in the mirror, his nerves back, full force. Then he heard his mom calling from the front of the house, "Izumo! Kotetsu?"

Izumo gulped and stepped out into the hall. He glanced at Kotetsu, who'd come out of their room, and Tetsu gave him a bolstering smile and made a shooing motion with his hands. "Go on…"

Izumo swallowed again and headed out to the kitchen. His mom was putting groceries away. "Hi Mom!" He said, hurrying over and he and Kotetsu started unpacking bags for her. "Um… I… have something to tell you," he said, his face buried in the pantry.

"Oh?" Mrs. Kamizuki asked.

"Yeah, um…" he started and nearly dropped the can in his hand onto his foot. He cursed himself silently then picked it back up. "I…um… have a… date tonight."

"Oh that's wonderful!" His mom said and beamed at him, her warm brown eyes lighting up. Izumo was a male replica of his mother. "Who is he?"

Izumo stood up fast, almost hitting his head on the upper cabinet and stared at his mother for a full minute before her question sunk in. "He… you… know?"

"Oh honey, I've known for a while." She glanced at Kotetsu, but didn't say anything. Both boys blushed. She set the bag of rice down onto the counter and walked over to her son. "I may not be around as much as I want to be, but I still pay attention." She dropped a kiss on his forehead and went back to putting groceries away. "So, what's his name?"

"Hayate," Izumo said, still a little stunned. "He's… um, supposed to be here at six."

"Hay… oh." Her eyes darted to Kotetsu who had busied himself in the refrigerator, then back to Izumo. "Okay." She glanced over at the clock on the wall. "Better finish getting ready then," she coaxed and Izumo gulped.

"Right, um…"

"Home by eleven. And not a moment later." She said then made a shooing motion with her hand.

Izumo shoved the last of the cans onto the shelf and hurried into his bedroom. He was still standing in front of his closet a few moments later when Kotetsu came in. 

"For God's sake, it's just a movie!" Kotetsu grumbled, yanking out a sweater and jeans and shoving it into his friend's hands. He shook his head. "But you might consider masturbating before you get dressed."

Izumo blinked at him. "What?"

"Masturbate. You've got to loosen up or you're going to be a basket case for the night. I'll even help." Kotetsu said as he stretched out on his bunk.

"Um…" Izumo stared at his friend for a minute, his best friend, the one who had, on more than one occasion done exactly what he'd just suggested. But… somehow it felt weird to think of having Tetsu do that right before a date with another guy. Izumo shook his head. "No, um, I'll be fine."

Tetsu shrugged. "Up to you," he said, and rolled onto his back.

Izumo considered his friend for another moment, but something seemed off. He sat down next to him. "What is it?"

"What's what?" Tetsu asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Something's wrong."

Tetsu blinked at the upper bunk. "Why would something be wrong?"

Izumo growled. "Don't. Just, don't. Don't try to bullshit me."

Kotetsu didn't say anything at first then sighed. "Why'd you turn me down?"

Izumo blinked. "Turn you down? You mean about…"

"Yeah, about helping you." Tetsu said, still not looking at Izumo.

"Well, I just… think it'd be weird to do that right before a date with another guy." Izumo said, frowning.

Kotetsu nodded, but Izumo had a feeling he didn't really understand. At a loss for what else to say, he got up and hurried into the bathroom. 

While he was in there, however, he couldn't help but think about what Tetsu said. He soaped up his hand and brought Hayate's image into his head. But when it was all over with, he frowned when he realized it wasn't Hayate's face he'd had in his head at the end. It was Tetsu's.