Nakajima Yuto was all about flirting.
He has good looks, he gets good grades, he’s good in basketball, he looks cool while playing basketball; what is there not to love about him? It has always given him a sense of superiority when people swoons over him. People as in both boys and girls. Yuto likes it when he induces a blush on someone when he winks, when he whispers sweet lies into their ears.
A proper relationship was never in his dictionary. High school was all about flings and Yuto didn’t understand why his friends were going into serious relationships (and getting upset over breakups) . “One day, I swear, Nakajima Yuto. You will end up getting whipped by someone,” Keito rolled his eyes as he was conveniently ignored by Yuto who was waving to a group of girls before winking at them. Turning to look at his friend, Yuto raised an eyebrow as he crossed his arm, “Like how you are stuck with Ryutaro?” Keito clicked his tongue in annoyance as he reminds him that it was a two-way relationship, not being stuck with a person. He was only met with a shrug, “I’d like to see how that will happen though. What are the chances?”
The squeaking of the soles of basketball shoes against the court could heard in the gym, along with the dribbling of basketballs. “Yuto, pass!” Keito had called out, and with practiced ease the ball was soaring through the air in Yuto’s direction. Maybe it was because he has been skipping practice lately, the ball slipped through, Yuto’s fingers barely touching it. The ball was flying towards the entrance of the gym, and it bounced once, before stopping right into the hands of a passerby - a judo club member. Breaking out into a brisk jog, Yuto got closer to the stranger and flashed him a smile.
“Hey, pretty pumpkin, mind if you threw it back?” A casual wink followed his sentence. The boy standing right in front of him was in his judogi, a thick frame resting on the bridge of his nose. Yuto notes that the other boy had pretty eyes that were hidden behind the frames. Looking down onto the ball that was in his hand before looking back up at Yuto, the boy had a questioning look on his face. “Are you trying to flirt with me, while getting the ball?”
“Of course. Have you seen your ey-” Before he could finish his sentence, the ball had connected to his face, hard. Yuto could hear a scoff coming from one of his teammates (probably Keito, knowing that his best friend has longed to see him finally getting hit, literally) . The ball fell nicely into his hands after colliding with his face. Even with a rising bump on his forehead, it doesn’t deter Yuto, “A spicy personality on top of being pretty, interesting.”
“Is it me, or do you have masochistic tendencies?”
“If it is you, babe, I’ll take any hit.” He did not expect a strong punch connecting with his stomach, and Yuto doubled over, landing on his ass. “Yama-chan, the seniors are waiting for us.” Another person from the judo came over, which Yuto recognises as Keito’s boyfriend, Morimoto Ryutaro. A short exchange of gaze was exchanged between Keito and Ryutaro, and Yuto just rolled his eyes at the couple. Looking up again, he can see the stranger, ‘Yama-chan’ as Ryutaro called him, dusting himself. “Have a good day to you too,” he said, before following Ryutaro’s lead away from the gym.
And for a moment, Yuto thinks he might just be a masochist. At that point of time, ‘Yama-chan’ looked like an angel (disregarding the fact that he did just punch him in the gut) as the evening sun lit his features.
This ‘Yama-chan’ had made Yuto fall, both figuratively and literally.
“You definitely have masochistic tendencies, Nakajima.” Ryutaro had a blank expression on his face as he directed the statement to their school’s resident playboy. It was normal to see Ryutaro joining them in their classroom for lunch, just because Keito was there. Yuto had gave the boy a scandalised look, before taking another bite out of his bentou (“Popular guys like you should die. One day, the bentous you receive from your groupies would be poisoned,” Keito mumbled under his breath) . “He’s an angel, why haven’t I seen him before?” The word ‘angel’ was stressed on, and Keito swore the sky is going to fall.
“Out of all the people, you literally had to choose Yama-chan,” Keito started, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his eyes closed. “You, my friend,” Opening his eyes, Keito pointed his chopsticks at Yuto, “have a death wish.”
“Keito, he’s too focused on himself. Nakajima wouldn’t know.” Nudging Keito with his elbow, Ryutaro gestured for his boyfriend to explain before he bit down into his yakisoba bread again. There was a brief exchange of glances between them, and it irked Yuto at how the couple was having a silent conversation.
No one excludes him.
"Don't exclude me," and without any other warning, Yuto shoves each of his hand into their faces, pushing them apart.
Clicking his tongue in annoyance, Keito pulled Yuto’s hand away from his face. “Your angel, Yamada Ryosuke, is the judo club’s idol.” Seeing as Yuto isn’t getting the point, Ryutaro took over the explanation, “Yama-chan is our best fighter and he’s socially awkward. He will push everyone away except friends he already warmed up to, which is me and probably Chinen. Keito is only spared by extension.”
“Pushing away as in punching people in the gut,” Keito emphasised, pointing at where Yamada punched Yuto the day before. Both of them were met with a smirk playing on Yuto’s lips, and Keito suspected that his friend has hurt his head when the basketball collided into his face the day before. “Being unconquerable is a beauty itself.”
Ryutaro just sighs and looked over to Keito, “Definitely a death wish. Why are you even friends with Nakajima?” His boyfriend only shrugged in reply.
When Yamada went to school, the last thing he expect was to see the Nakajima Yuto standing in front of his shoe locker. “Looking good today too, dear.” A wink was sent to his direction, and Yamada can hear the high pitched screams of girls in the circumference of three meters.
“You,” he jabbed the taller boy on the chest, “are blocking my locker.” Tilting his head up, Yamada could see how the boy was not planning to move. Long fingers curled up around his wrist, and with a strong pull, Yamada fell against Yuto’s chest. “How about you forget your shoes, and go out with me now?” His voice was low as he whispered into Yamada’s ear.
“How about, no?” With fluid movements, Yamada managed to change his position in Yuto’s grip and throwing the taller boy over his shoulder. Yuto had landed on his back, groaning in pain. Without heeding Yuto, Yamada changed his shoes and went up to the classroom.
A nudge could be felt on his leg, and when Yuto looked up, he saw Keito and Ryutaro looking down on him. “Why are you on the floor?” His friend questioned, arms folded and frowning.
“Special morning greeting from the prettiest person I know.”
Ryutaro stepped over Yuto to reach his shoe locker, “He means Yama-chan has thrown him over the shoulder.”
“Ryosuke, are you not getting enough sleep?” Chinen chirped at his table mate and best friend. Yamada’s hair was all out of place after ruffling it up for the nth time in the past hour. All Chinen got in reply was Yamada shaking his head while burying his face in his arms.
“Love sick?” Chinen tried again.
“Being harassed and stalked, you mean.” His voice was muffled, and Chinen raised a knowing eyebrow at his friend’s statement. “Who would’ve knew Yuuti would fall for you.” Chinen nodded, taking much satisfaction when he saw Yamada’s shocked face.
“You’re friends with him ?” He almost sees pain in Yamada’s expression. Almost. “Who am I not friends with, Ryosuke?” And that shut Yamada up. Of course Chinen is friends with everyone in school, teachers included. If someone asked who was the most powerful person in school,no one in school would name their principal, but Chinen Yuri, the head of the student council.
“He isn’t that bad of a person, Ryosuke. Minus the flirting part of him.” Pulling out his notebook, Chinen continued. Of course he knew about what is happening between Yamada and Yuto, he knows everything . “And I see nothing good about him, since he is flirting with me.” Yamada went back to huddling up on his table, voice muffled, and Chinen thought that he can hear some bitterness in his friend’s voice.
“What does he even want from me? I’m nothing but plain, and,” Yamada paused for awhile, before he spatted, “... anti-social.” He did not like one bit about his social awkwardness. He had tried very hard, and that’s how he managed to be friends with Chinen and Ryutaro (although Chinen is just totally unfazed by Yamada’s judo skills and literally fought his way to become Yamada’s friend, while Ryutaro was like a little brother to him) . Judo was the only thing that he is good at, and Yamada hides behind it as protection (thus almost always violently pushing people away) . “I’m sure I’ve hit him pretty hard, but he keeps coming back.”
“What if, Ryosuke, Yuuti really likes you?” Chinen suggest while shaking Yamada up, signalling that their teacher has entered the room.
“Why would anyone like me?” Yamada frowned before pulling his notebook out.
Chinen never got the chance to reply Yamada as he called for the class to stand up and bow, before the start of their class. He never got to tell Yamada that he is actually better than he thought he was, and why wouldn’t anyone like this angel who is so kind at heart, but too afraid to interact with the world.
“He’s at it again,” Ryutaro pointed towards the window and Yamada followed his gaze. Noticing his eyes, Yuto smiled before blowing a kiss towards his direction. Ryutaro started laughing hard when he looked at how Yamada cringed at Yuto’s action. “I wonder how long will he go on with this.” Yamada just shrugged at Ryutaro’s comment.
He doesn’t need Yuto in his life. Someone popular getting interested in him was already weird. ‘It’s a phase, he’ll leave.’ was what Yamada thought as Yuto walked towards him while they have their break.
“How’s my angel doing today? Here, have a drink,” Yuto said as he tossed a bottle of water in Yamada’s direction. He was only met with Yamada side-stepping away from the bottle’s trajectory, and the bottle landed right into Ryutaro’s hands.
“Thanks for the drink, Nakajima!” Ryutaro waved before twisting the bottle open and walking away, leaving the two alone.
Clicking his tongue, Yuto shouted “That wasn’t for you, Morimoto!” while walking towards Yamada. “How’s training today?” He asked Yamada as the shorter boy was drinking from his own bottle. He only got a nod as a reply, and that was better than being ignored.
“How about going home together today, my angel?”
Yamada just rolled his eyes before walking away, leaving Yuto standing there while the rest of the judo members snickered.
“A fiery personality as usual, my love!”
Keito did not expect Yuto running in his direction and jumping onto him at first sight. “I AM THE HAPPIEST PERSON ON EARTH.” Yuto screamed as he koala bear hugged Keito. Patting Yuto’s arm, Keito could barely breathe out a “I can’t breathe, Yuto.” Realising that he was suffocating his friend to death, Yuto quickly let go, landing back on the floor.
Looking at his friend after he had enough oxygen, Keito noticed how Yuto was beaming in glee, and being the happiest person on Earth probably did fit Yuto right now. “Yama-chan accepted you?”
“Oh g-, wait what?!”
“My angel, he finally accepted my water during his judo practices.” Keito swore that he had to resist calling up the hospital to place Yuto in a mental ward. Pushing Yuto away, Keito rolled his eyes, “I don’t know who are you. I didn’t know you only needed this much to be satisfied. You’re not the Nakajima I know.”
He then felt an arm slinging around his shoulder, “But it’s different. My pretty pumpkin actually caught the bottle after dodging it for three weeks.” And as if he was reliving the moment, Yuto smiled softly, “And he said thank you.”
“He said thank you instead of punching your gut.”
“Yeap, ain’t my angel the best?”
Keito didn’t reply Yuto as he thought that maybe Yuto might have a bigger influence in Yamada’s life than Yuto, or everyone else, thought he would be.
“Here,” Yuto handed out a strawberry flavoured ice cream to Yamada while holding onto his vanilla flavoured one. The latter only whispered a thank you before having a spoonful of strawberry greatness. For once, Yuto did not talk, only looking at how Yamada’s face turned into a blissful smile while savouring each spoon of the sweet dessert.
‘Ah, I’ve really fallen for him, didn’t I?’
Looking at the ticket in his hand, Yamada don’t know why did he agree to this. “You’ve grown close to Nakajima recently so why not? I’m here to cheer for Keito too anyway,” Ryutaro nudged Yamada in the arm before pulling him across the many people gathered in the stadium. Their school’s basketball team is pretty good, going into the inter high’s semi-final. And for some reason, Yamada agreed to coming over to cheer for a certain Nakajima.
He remembers that it was his own inter high match, and the next thing he knew, he had a bad fall, injuring his hip. The pain was nothing; it wasn’t the first injury he had after learning judo. But he remembers how Yuto ran up to him from the stands, reaching before his team mates and heaving him up to dash to the infirmary.
“Yama-chan, calm down, you’ll be alright.” Yamada wanted to tell the boy carrying him that he was fine, that he was used to such injuries and that a few days of rest would be fine. He wants to tell him that he’s more upset about losing the inter high as compared to his injury.
But he doesn’t say anything. Yamada could hear Yuto’s voice shivering, Yuto’s arms holding him tighter, Yuto legs picking up speed, trying to bring him medical attention as soon as possible. All he could do was tighten his grip on Yuto’s arm, trying to tell him that he’s okay. “Are you in pain? We’ll be there soon, Yama-chan.” He had mistaken the tightening grip as a sign of pain, and Yamada just shook his head. “I’m fine.” Yamada whispered, but Yuto didn’t believe it.
He wouldn’t believe it until Yamada’s in safe hands.
At the sound of the whistle, Yamada was brought back to reality. The stadium was filled with the sound of sneaker soles squeaking while the players run across the court, and the thundering cheers from the different schools’ cheer team. They were having a head start, having to scoring the first three-pointer of the game, courtesy of a certain Nakajima. Yuto had looked towards his direction, giving him a thumbs up and his killer smile, before concentrating on the game. Yamada rolled his eyes as he was once again flooded by the screams of girls surrounding him and Ryutaro. “He has a lot of fans as usual,” Ryutaro commented while he waved towards Keito who managed to get a moment to peek at the stands. Keito only nodded towards Ryutaro before turning his attention back to the game, but a distinct smile lingers on his lips.
Yamada’s fingers traced the bandages that were hidden beneath his clothes, before asking, “What is it to love someone?” It was a question out of the blue, and Ryutaro had to look at Yamada to confirm that it was his friend that asked this question, and not one of the many fangirls surrounding them. “Ryuu?” Yamada turned to look at Ryutaro, only to be faced with Ryutaro’s ‘Excuse me are you Yama-chan?’ expression. “If you don’t want to sa--”
“No no, wait, Yama-chan I’m just surprised. I’m not going to laugh.” Ryutaro cut Yamada off, trying to make the older boy feel better. “I think it’s when you care for the person a lot? I’m not sure, but I want to know that Keito’s fine, or to be by his side if he’s facing anything. Or when I’m upset, he’s the first one that I think of, even if I don’t want him to worry about me.” Yamada can see the fondness on Ryutaro’s face, and at the score made by Keito, he can see Ryutaro’s face lighting up with pride and joy as he waved to the other boy.
‘Just maybe …’ Yamada thought as he looked out into the court, at the person who was covered in perspiration. ‘Maybe.’
Yuto noticed how Yamada had gone back to avoiding him again after the inter high semi-finals. They had successfully gone into the finals, but it came with a price. He had thrown the winning three-pointer, but another player who was trying to block him accidentally pushed him too hard, causing Yuto to twist his ankle. It was a fury of happenings, and by the time his ankle was taped, Yamada was no longer anywhere to be seen on the stands.
“I don’t know. He told me that he had to go somewhere and left.” Ryutaro said when Yuto asked about Yamada, before he went off with Keito.
He didn’t like the feeling of being avoided. Not then, not now. No one avoids Nakajima Yuto. “I am alway in the limelight, so why am I not getting his attention?” Yuto mumbled to Keito, while he buried his head in his arms. “You were the one who said that a fiery personality is something attractive. The unconquerable is beauty.” Keito rolled his eyes before taking a bite from his melon bread.
“But we were progressing so well, we started to hang out. I managed to go to his house once .” Yuto stressed, “And he is fine with me walking him home from school. So why is he hiding from me?”
“Maybe he’s in denial?” Keito shrugged, and before he realised it, Yuto was gone from his seat.
“I knew you would be here.” The rooftop is quiet, and Yamada’s at his usual spot biting on his yakisoba bread. Seeing that it was Yuto that arrived, he quickly got up to his feet to leave, only to be held back by Yuto’s tight hold on his wrist. “Where are you going?”
“Somewhere that’s not here.” It was a mummer, and it was even softer as Yamada refused to look at Yuto at all.
Yuto thinks that he is someone with a good temper, or maybe it’s because no one has ever made him lose his temper before (he was showered with gifts and praises since young, so what is there to lose his temper for?) . At that moment, he felt that he lost it. Pulling Yamada’s wrist hard, he slammed Yamada against the wall that was beside the entrance of the rooftop. He then placed his hands on both sides of Yamada’s head before leaning in to look down at him. “Do you not know how I feel?”
“Don’t kid me. I’ve told you tons of time, Yamada. I like you. I’ve told you when we got ice cream, when I walk you home, when you were injured, when I invited you to my match. I like you, romantically.” His voice was strained, as he tried to calm himself down. Yamada just continued to look down onto the floor, not speaking.
“Say fucking something, Yamada Ryosuke.” Yuto could feel himself losing control of his temper. He loves this person right in front of him. But seeing how he doesn’t care about his feelings, hurt. He could feel his heart clenching and sinking. ‘This feels horrible, make it stop.’
“Don’t mess with me. Yamada Ryosuke, you can do anything to me, but you cannot doubt my feelings for you!” Yamada could see Yuto’s fist clenching tightly at the side of his head, and all he could do was to mummer, “Yuto.”
“Don’t fucking doubt my feelings!” Yuto hissed as he placed his forehead against Yamada’s. His eyes are closed, his breathing ragged as he tries to hold back his anger, his tears, his disappointment. He thought Yamada would be better than this.
What he didn’t expect was a sharp pain coming from both of his cheeks. Opening his eyes, Yuto realised that Yamada had slapped him on both cheeks. And before he knew it, Yamada slugged him in his stomach, making him double over, falling onto the floor. Looking up, he saw tears rolling down from Yamada’s cheeks, the boy sniffing trying to hold the tears back.
“I’m not doubting your feelings.” Yamada’s voice was soft and shaking, “I’m doubting mine.”
“Yama-ch-” “Don’t call me! Why do you keep coming back even if all I do is hit you?” Yamada cut off Yuto, and his voice was gradually getting louder as more tears flowed. “How can you like someone like me? How can someone like me deserve you? You are popular, you are well loved. You should be with the rest and not with me.” This was something that Yuto did not know. He did not know about Yamada’s inferiority complex. He does not understand how can Yamada say something like that. To Yuto, Yamada was an angel. He was straightforward, clean, calming and nice (despite the violence).When he’s with Yamada, Yuto actually feels like he is a better person. Yamada is someone who will keep him in line.
“I can’t talk to people I don’t know without feeling nervous, I’m different from you.” Before Yamada could finish his sentence, Yuto had pulled him into a hug, and at the end, the words were muffled. “Yama-chan, you are better than you think. You make me a better person.”
A punch from Yamada, but Yuto did not let go.
“I know that I’m flawless, but even so, I think Yama-chan is an angel.” Another punch, this time softer.
And it repeated. Yuto started to list down how Yamada makes him a better person, how Yamada’s the best person he has ever known, as punches rained on his body (but he noticed how it gets softer and softer, and how it ends up just weakly clinging onto the material of his school uniform) .
“Will you be the strawberry to my ice-cream?”
A punch, and a nod.