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The Buddy System

Chapter Text

It all started when I moved here.

 

This new place that I had to call home. New people, new smells, new sights. New school. Black Moral High... God... what was school going to be like now that my parents weren't supporting me any more? I suppose I should start with that, shouldn't I?

 

It happened about a month ago. My parents have always been military officials, so it didn't surprise me that when they found out I was smoking, they overreacted just a little bit. Here I am now, disowned and living on my own for the first time, supporting myself with school and trying desperately to find a job to do so.

 

But today was the first day at a new school. It was a Friday, which was a bit of an inconvenience but it was the earliest I could begin. I always hated this... meeting new people wasn't one of my strong points, but I guess it was something that had to be done, right?

 

I walked along the stone pavement towards the building. It was alright, I guess... It looked like a mix between an airport and a prison, something I'm not quite sure I liked yet. Students were pouring into the front doors, hurrying to get in before the last bell rang and they were all deemed tardy. There were a group of taller guys amongst the smaller students. I don't know what it was about them but... they walked so casually, as if they didn't care that they would be late. Great, these were going to be the people I would have to deal with on a daily basis. For one fleeting moment I almost wished that I was living with my parents again, but then I laughed to myself. I would gladly settle for three or four douche bags rather then those two.

 

I waited until the crowd had thinned before hurrying into the door. I didn't like crowds, but being late on my first day wasn't how I wanted to start the year. There was a small window beside the front entrance where an elderly woman was scribbling frantically. I walked over and tapped lightly on the glass in an effort to get her attention and she looked up at me. For a moment I thought I saw anger flash through her eyes, but when she saw that it was only me, a student, she smiled brightly and slid the glass window open to greet me.

 

"How may I help you, young man?" She chirped and I took a moment to glance around the room inside. There were filing cabinets and desks with high tech computers on them. Two or three other woman were sitting on the far side, drinking cups of tea and chatting happily to each other, behind them a door that led to another unknown room. This must be the secretary's office.

 

"Uh, I'm new..." I trailed quietly. I always hated how hard it was for me to talk to new people, but the woman suddenly smiled widely and spoke for me. "Matsumoto Takanori?" She asked, and I simply nodded. She stood up and went to one of the filing cabinets to retrieve something. I don't know if it was just me being paranoid, but I suddenly felt the eyes of the other secretarial women on me. I averted my gaze to the ceiling and after a moment or two, the elderly woman returned with some sheets of paper.

 

"Alright..." She said, thinking for a moment before handing me the first sheet. "This is your timetable. This is a map of the school." She continued, handing me another one before placing another smaller sheet on the two already in my hands. "...And these are the school rules. You're first class starts in five minutes, but if you have trouble finding the room, come straight back here and I'll help you, okay?"

 

She was very nice, and I was grateful, but I thanked her and rushed off to find my first class. I had Biology first in classroom 4B... I scanned the map three times before finding it and rushing down the corridor in that direction. I passed rows and rows of industrial lockers before I realized that I was indeed having trouble finding the room. It was such a big school... how was I supposed to know where to go? Oh yeah, I thought, laughing to myself, I did have a map.

 

After what seemed like ten minutes of frantic searching, but was actually fifteen, I finally found the room. I stood outside for a moment, fixing my hair and running my sweaty palms off my trousers before knocking lightly and opening the door. Almost immediately, everyone's heads turned to stare at me and I felt my cheeks burn up. A tall man standing at the front of the class turned to look at me, and I assumed he was the teacher. "Sorry I'm late," I mumbled. "I'm new here."

 

"Oh really?" He replied, sauntering over to me and smirking lightly. I noticed that everyone else was snickering under their breath, but I ignored them and focused on the teacher standing in front of me. He looked so young! Almost young enough to be a student. Now that I had time to study him more... He didn't look like a teacher at all. His naturally black hair was streaked with blonde that was styled and sectioned off perfectly, running just past his ears. He was tall, a lot taller than me, and his body was so... muscular.

 

"Well take a seat then." He said, and I noticed that there was a desk for two right at the front. Everyone burst out laughing as I sat down, and I suddenly had the feeling that I would rather have the world open up and swallow me whole than be here for another second, but I stayed quiet and kept my head down.

 

"Now as I was saying~" He said in a voice that I was sure he was putting on. He sat down at his desk, his eyes were on me and I looked away. What was his problem? Why was he making such a big deal over me? Weren't teachers supposed to be nice and helpful? They weren't suppose to attract attention to you and make you feel this uncomfortable, especially on your first day...

 

Just then an older, much more professional looking man came in through the door with a stack of sheets. He looked frazzled and upon seeing the other person in his chair, he suddenly sighed and slammed the papers on the desk. "Akira!" He shouted, and I saw the person who I thought had been the teacher smirk at me. "Sit in your designated place, for heavens sake! I swear, I leave the room for five minutes..."

 

I stared at this 'Akira' for a moment and flushed. So he wasn't the teacher! He was a student like me! He was just pretending... the embarrassment washing over me was so intense my stomach churned, and to make things worse, this Akira person sat down right next to me. Please, let me die now! Everyone was laughing uncontrollable, and it took about five minutes for the teacher to settle things down again.

 

"That wasn't very nice!" I hissed under my breath to Akira, who smirked at me in return. "I'm not a nice guy." He replied, and I felt my anger flare. What an idiot! What right did he have to make me a laughing stock in the first five minutes?! I glared at him for a moment and he did nothing but keep his eyes on the board where the teacher was writing something Biology related.

 

"Even so... that! It was so-- Why did you...?" I was stumbling over my words and Akira turned to look at me with amusement evident in his eyes. "I'm sorry." He said, and for a second I believed him. I could feel myself pouting. It was a habit of mine, when I didn't know what to say, and he suddenly chuckled deeply. "Why are you getting so worked up?" He asked me then, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips. "It's not like it was personal, and it wasn't even that embarrassing. Calm down."

 

I was about to retaliate when it struck me that he was right. Why was I getting so worked up? It's not like he had harmed me, or really humiliated me in any way at all. Maybe I was just angry because it was my first day. Yeah, that was it. I was angry because now the impression that all my classmates had of me was this naïve little boy who thought someone his own age could be a teacher. Nevertheless, I was stubborn, so I ignored Akira for the rest of the class.

 

When the bell finally went, I was packing up my things when Akira spoke to me again. "So you're new?" He asked and I simply nodded. "We have a buddy system in this school." He went on after I stayed silent. But now my curiosity had made me look up at him. "Y'know what a buddy system is, right?" He asked and I said nothing, suddenly feeling embarrassed.

 

"Okay so, you're a new student," He gestured his hands as he spoke, which was kind of distracting. "How're you supposed to know where to go? With a buddy system of course!" He sounded like an advertisement and I suddenly smiled and laughed a little. "The buddy system is something that teachers usually set up. They usually pair the new students with the really smart ones, in hopes that they'll follow in their footsteps, y'know?"

 

I nodded. I understood now; a buddy system was a way of making a new student fit in quickly. It was a way of getting insiders to show them the school. It was a way of getting them to conform. "Well, why don't you just stick with me, huh? I can be your buddy, at least until you know the works." Akira went on.

 

I thought for a moment. Was he really the best person to be paired with on my first day? He didn't exactly seem smart, and judging from his clothes and behavior in class, he was a bit of a troublemaker. Even so, he was the only person who had spoken to me so far. Was I really willing to pass that up for someone smarter and possibly less fun?

 

I smiled at him as I made up my mind. "Okay, sure, why not?" I laughed and he smirked. "Alright," He began, getting straight to business. "What have you got next?"

 

I fumbled for my timetable and pulled it out of my pocket, unfolding it in a hurry once I realized that I might be late for my next class too. "Uh... I've got History next." I mumbled before I looked up at him. He had packed up his stuff by now and had his bag slung over his shoulder, his hands dug into his low dark jeans. "You're in luck then! I've got History too."

 

I smiled at the coincidence, and we set off to the next class. I would've walked faster, to make sure I wasn't late, but Akira sauntered down the hallway, taking his time like one of those guys I had seen before school had even started; not caring if he was late or not.

 

Obviously, Akira was going to be a bad influence on me, but I knew myself. I wasn't easily swayed. I would just stick by him until I knew the ins and outs of the school, and by then I would probably have made other friends.

 

When we arrived at the History room, the teacher, a young brown haired woman with glasses, was just closing the door. "Akira!" She suddenly said in a raised voice. "You're two minutes late! Get in here and sit down!" I followed Akira in and we sat, again, in the front row. I was starting to wonder if Akira had chosen the front row for every class, or had he been placed there by force... in every class.

 

"Miss, there's a new student." Akira said casually as he sat down. I turned to address her and bowed slightly. Everyone snickered at me, but when I looked up at her, she appeared to have this look on her face that said 'What?! A student with manners?!' -- The thought made me smile.

 

"Oh... well," She smiled here and gestured for me to sit. "Welcome. How're you finding the school so far?" Her tone was much friendlier then it had been with Akira, who currently had his eyes on me, obviously curious about my answer as well.

 

"Well... It's big." I mumbled, and she let out a soft, girlish laugh. "Well, my name is Ms. Keri. If you need anything let me know, okay? I just need your name for register." She had taken out a large black teachers journal by now and I gave my name.

 

"Have you been told about the buddy system yet?" She asked me once my name was down. I glanced over at Akira and he smirked. "Uh, yeah..." I said.

 

"Good, who did you get?" She seemed as interested as a student would have been, almost as if it was gossip. I scratched the back of my head for a moment. Would it still be in the 'system' if the students had paired themselves, rather than the teachers forcing them together?

 

"I got Akira, miss." I mumbled my reply and she looked confused for a moment.

 

"But Akira isn't on the buddy list..."

 

There was a list? You had to apply for this buddy thing? I didn't know what to say to her, so I shrugged my shoulders. It seemed weird to me that you had to be analysed before you would be deemed worthy to be a 'buddy'. Weird, and a little harsh for those who were rejected.

 

Ms. Keri didn't say anything else to me for the rest of the class. Once the bell rang, Akira told me that it was time for lunch. I was starving, if I was being honest, and relieved. Relieved until Akira mentioned his other friends.

 

"You can sit with us at lunch, if you want." He said as we walked to the cafeteria. Us? It had never occurred to me that Akira might have his own friends, and I suddenly felt stupid for not thinking of it before. "Sure." I replied.

 

As we walked, I chewed my lip in thought. What if his friends thought I wasn't cool enough to sit with them? Would Akira defend me? Or would he tell me to go away? When we reached the cafeteria, Akira led me to a small table by one of the larger windows lighting the room. There were three other guys sitting there laughing and I immediately remembered that they were the three guys I had seen outside the school earlier that morning. The three that sauntered into the building without a care in the world.

 

"Guys!" Akira suddenly said and they all turned to him with a short wave. They looked so different from Akira and from each other, but they somehow pulled it off as a group. They had this certain style about them, as if anyone could fit in with them, but not just anyone was allowed... if that makes sense.

 

Akira pulled a chair out from the table and turned it around, sitting with his legs around the back. I sat anxiously next to him and looked at the guy to my left. Even though he was sitting down, I could tell he was probably taller than Akira was. But what really struck me about him was his long, black hair and slightly feminine features. I mean, it was easy to tell he was a guy, but his face was striking, his skin was snowy and his hair was down to his elbows. He wore a band t-shirt and light, loose jeans, and his lip was pierced.

 

My gaze traveled to the guy next to him. He had shorter hair than the first one, and he seemed more masculine. He was smiling brightly at Akira, and I noticed he had dimples that made him slightly baby-faced. His hair was fluffy and jet black, it reminded me of a puppy, and he wore a loose red jumper and black tight fitted jeans.

 

But out of all of them, the one that struck me most was the male sitting directly across from me. He was so stylish! He had dyed honey blond hair that fell just passed his shoulders, and his eyes showed intelligence as they analysed me. He was wearing a fitted black blazer with tight red silk pants. There were all sorts of accessories coming off of him, that I didn't even bother trying to count them.

 

"This is Matsumoto Takanori, a new student." Akira put so much emphasis on new student, as if I was a piece of meat waiting to be devoured. "I got stuck with him." He said, but I knew he was joking by the way he was smirking.

 

"Aki, did you get on the buddy list?" The blonde one asked, and I found my eyes scanning him again, his large eyes, angular nose and strong jaw. He was, in a word, beautiful.

 

"That thing's a pain in the ass!" The long haired one to my left suddenly said with a loud, almost juvenile voice. "I quit the minute I got on it." He continued and the three others laughed. I watched, slightly fascinated at how they worked together in conversation. It was almost like it was rehearsed, like each of them had a line they had perfected and now the cameras were rolling.

 

"Nah, me and Takanori just sort of... made our own buddy system." He gave a one sided smirk and the blonde one giggle under his breath.

 

"How generous of you~" He said in a teasing tone. He picked up his bottle of water and sipped at it. I watched his Adam's apple bobbing lightly before I tore my gaze away and back to Akira. I think he read my mind, because he suddenly waved his arms flippantly about the place. "Well come on then!" He raised his voice. "Introduce yourselves!"

 

The one on my left turned to me, and I thought for a moment I felt an ice cold chill run through me as his eyes pierced mine. "My name's Yuu. Nice to meet you." He outstretched his hand and I took it, shaking it for a brief moment before the next one turned to me with a wide smile. "Uke. Nice to meet you." I shook his hand and my eyes traveled to the blonde one. He was still watching me and I suddenly felt nervous.

 

"Kouyou." He mumbled, but he didn't outstretch his hand for me. That was kind of rude... but I got the feeling that I would have to get to know him a bit better first. Akira suddenly laughed and leaned over to me.

 

"Believe me, that's kind coming from him."

 

Kouyou suddenly smiled and slapped Akira's shoulder. The other's fell into small laughter and I spent the next couple of minutes just watching them talk amongst themselves.

 

"So, how did you meet Takanori?" Kouyou asked, and I stopped eating the apple I had retrieved from my bag to listen to him. Akira laughed. "Oh, right, y'know that thing I do whenever a teacher leaves the room?" The others nodded and Uke laughed a little. "Well, I was just about to teach my 'class' about the reproductive system, when Taka walked in. He thought I was the teacher!"

 

The others burst out with laughter and I felt myself go red. I didn't know what was more embarrassing, reliving the memory, or having Akira call me Taka. Nevertheless, I hid my face because I found myself laughing too. Sure, it was embarrassing, but now that I heard someone actually say it, it was pretty funny. I mean, I would have laughed if it had been somebody else, right?

 

"It was hilarious, seriously." Akira finished, taking a drink from his water bottle. "Anyway, he was pretty angry, so I thought it would be nice to apologise by offering to be his buddy." The laughter died down and I munched at my apple again, thinking about what Akira said. He had been lying when he said he wasn't a nice guy. I knew that now.

 

-o-o-

 

When the bell rang again, I slung my bag over my shoulder and pulled out my time table again. I looked around to see Akira talking with Uke and Yuu, but Kouyou was already leaving the cafeteria and on his way to next period. Akira bid the others farewell, and came over to join me again. "Okay, what do you have next?"

 

I glanced at the timetable again. "Maths." I mumbled before folding it up and putting it in my pocket again. "Room 6A." Akira frowned for a moment and shrugged. "Well, I don't have that, but I'll show you where it is. Come on." He started walking and I followed him through the crowd. I suddenly had the urge to grab the fabric of his shirt so that I wouldn't get lost in the sea of people, but that would have been stupid, so I did my best to keep up with him. Besides, it was like the other students made room for him. Maybe it was because he was so tall, but people just moved out of his way.

 

"Now," He said, as we left the bunch of people. "We're in corridor 4, see up there on the wall?" He pointed to the wall and my eyes followed. There was a small plaque with the number of the corridor on it. "Those little signs are in all the corridors to tell you where you are. Just look for them and you wont get lost." He was walking again, and as I noted his information, I followed him. He led me into a much larger room, almost the same size as the cafeteria, but with seats and a large stage on the opposite wall. There were seven double doors leading in all different directions and just when I was about to ask where they led, I saw the same small plaques numbered one to seven labeling each entrance.

 

"This is the main hall. All the corridors lead back here, so once you find yourself here, you wont get lost, trust me." He pointed to the door with the number six on it. "That's corridor six. Your math class is down there. And since it's classroom B, it'll be the second door you see. Pretty easy, huh?" He smiled at me and laid his large hand on my small shoulder. "I'm in corridor two, so I'll see you here after class, okay?" He was already backing away when suddenly a voice coming from the intercom filled the room.

 

"Would Suzuki Akira please make his way to the principle's office. Suzuki Akira to the principle's office, please." I looked at him and he suddenly smiled.

 

"Looks like I wont be going to class." He laughed and with a quick goodbye he made his way down the hallway we had just come from. I laughed to myself, imagining what kind of trouble he could be in now as I made my way to corridor six and into my classroom. People were still chatting among themselves and waiting for the teacher to arrive when I was trying to pick somewhere to sit. That's when I noticed Kouyou sitting on his own in a row near the back. Would it be okay for me to sit with him? He didn't seem like he liked me much but when he saw me, he raised his hand to wave. That was all the encouragement I needed and I made my way through the other people to sit with him.

 

"Hello." He said, and I noticed how soft his voice was. I mumbled a greeting in return and we sat in silence for a moment. "I'm sorry about lunch." He suddenly said, and when I looked back at him I noticed he was smiling at me. "I can be... a bit rude sometimes. I didn't mean to offend you."

 

I thought for a moment about what he was saying. Maybe he was just shy, like me. Maybe that's why he had come off as rude when really, he just didn't know what to say to me. I smiled at him. "It's okay. I wasn't offended." I set my books down on the table. "I can understand how hard it is to meet new people." I went on, and he smiled gratefully at me. "Thank you." He mumbled, obviously grateful that we hadn't gotten off to a bad start.

 

Just when I was about to continue our conversation, the intercom spoke up again. "Will Matsumoto Takanori please make his way to the principle's office. Matsumoto Takanori to the principle's office please."

 

A strong 'Oooooooooh' resounded throughout the class and Kouyou looked at me with a mixture of shock and amusement on his face. I stood up, packed my things and said good bye to him before leaving the room just as the teacher entered. Hurrying, I made my way back to the front entrance where the secretary's office was, and just when I was about to ask where the principle's office was, I saw Akira.

 

"Akira!" I called, making my way over to him. He looked angry. Like... so angry that it made me stop in my tracks and just look at him. "What's going on?" I asked and he shook his head.

 

"Come with me." He mumbled and I followed him into what I assumed was the principles office. There was a tall, overweight elderly man sitting at a mahogany polished desk. The room was lined with bookshelves and there was a door that led to another room to the left. "My name is Mr Duke, it's nice to meet you Takanori, please take a seat. " The man said, and Akira wasted no time in sitting down in one of the two seats in front of the desk. I set down my bag and sat down next to him, watching as his hands balled into fists. What the hell was going on?!

 

"It has come to my attention," Mr Duke began, rustling through the papers on his desk. "that Akira has asked you to be his buddy?"

 

I paused for a moment and stared at Mr Duke. That's what this was all about? The stupid buddy system?! Did they really take it this seriously? Nevertheless, I was stunned into silence, so I just nodded.

 

"Well, it is my job to tell you that Akira is not on the buddy list. Did he tell you that?" He continued, and I nodded again. Mr Duke looked surprised for a moment but then he smiled.

 

"Takanori, it is also my job to ensure that each new student who decides to join Black Moral High is set up with an appropriate buddy that knows how to properly show said new student around." He paused here and set his gaze upon Akira. "Akira here, is not an appropriate buddy."

 

Akira suddenly slammed his fist on the desk and I jumped, my eyes immediately falling to the floor. "And why not?!" I heard him shout, but still I refused to look up. I hated confrontation. All the shouting and anger... it reminded me of home.

 

"Akira, sit down this instant! How dare you shout at me like this!" I heard Akira slump into the chair with an angry huff and I finally looked up to see Mr Duke giving him an indignant look. "Now, Takanori." He said, turning to look at me again. "A new buddy will be assigned to you first thing Monday, and Akira," He said, his eyes reluctantly shooting back to Akira. "You're three day suspension will begin immediately. Go home." He began rustling his papers again, signalling for us to leave.

 

Once outside his office, Akira rubbed the bridge of his nose in irritation. I looked up at him guiltily. I should have said something... I should have defended Akira before things got out of hand. "Listen," I tried, but he suddenly smiled at me. "Want me to pick you up after school?" He asked, and I gave him a confused look.

 

"You're not mad?" I asked quietly, surprised that he was even talking to me. "Nah, don't worry about it. This is my fourth suspension this month. It's no big deal, in fact, it's a nice break from school." We both laughed quietly before I looked up at him again. "Okay... I'll see you after school."

 

-o-o-

 

Once the bell for my last class had rung, I wasted no time in packing up my things and rushing to the front entrance. I looked around for Akira, but he wasn't here yet, so I sat on a bench nearby and waited for him to show up. Maybe he forgot that he was coming to collect me? Suddenly, I felt a hand on my shoulder and turned around to see Yuu smiling down at me. My god, he was tall!

 

"Akira picking you up too?" He asked, and I nodded. "Cool. We're going back to his place, all of us." I smiled at Yuu's words. It was going to be nice being able to relax after such a rotten day. Yuu sat next to me and crossed his legs, flinging his sheen of long black over his shoulder in such a graceful way.

 

Not long after, Akira's car pulled into the parking lot and he parked near us. I saw that Kouyou was sitting in the front already, and Uke was in the back. Yuu had already gotten up and was making his way over the jeep, so I followed him and squeezed into the back with the other two. Akira turned to smile at me.

 

"Do you have your own car?" He asked me and I shook my head. I could barely afford my own food, never mind a car. "I get the bus." I replied and he smiled. "Good, 'cause if you leave your car here they'll fine you." He had turned his attention back to the road and was now pulling out of the parking lot and making his way down the main street. My eyes traveled to Kouyou in the passenger's seat and I watch as his hair fell onto his shoulders. My gaze traveled down his arm and to his slender fingers, idly drumming against his thigh. When I looked up into the mirror, I noticed that he was looking at me, watching me, and I quickly averted my gaze out the window, embarrassed.

 

After what seemed like ten minutes, Akira pulled into another parking lot beside a large, run down looking apartment complex. My apartment complex. We all got out and I was so amazed at the coincidence that I actually laughed to myself, making the other's turn their attentions towards me. "You live here?" I asked him. He gave me a weird smile before nodding.

 

"Yeah, why?"

 

This was awesome! The only person nice enough to talk to me today lived in the same building as me! "I live here too!" I said, and Akira broke into a wide smile and slung his arm around my shoulder. "What a coincidence," He said, leading me to the door. "And kind of weird, but still pretty cool!" He opened the door and removed his arm from around me to jab the buttons on the elevator. "Kouyou lives with me too, y'know?" He said and I turned to look at him, amazed. Kouyou was already looking at us, but when he saw me smiling at him, he gave a short nod accompanied by a smirk.

 

Amazing. I was starting to think it was fate that I had met Akira the way I did today. Maybe we were destined to be good friends.

 

Once we got into Akira's flat, I realized that it was shaped exactly like my own, only the walls were in much better condition and painted a bright yellow instead of the peeling wallpaper mine had. I noticed one of the walls were bare, leaving just the red building bricks visible, much like one's I had seen in television shows. The kitchen and sitting room were joined, decorated with mismatched furniture from bright red chairs to high metallic stools, lava lamps and a shag rug splayed across the floor. Three doors took up the opposite wall, which I could only assume were two bedrooms and a bathroom. Overall, the place was like a vortex of different styles, much like the group of friends I had found myself with today.

 

I didn't realize until I was doing it, but I looked to the left, and then to the right, unconsciously trying to find where Kouyou had gotten to when I saw him retreating behind one of the doors; his room, I guessed. Turning, I saw Akira making his way over to the fridge and Uke and Yuu already seated on the couch, idly talking about school. Not wanting to disturb them, I turned and made my way to the kitchen to join Akira.

 

He turned toward me with a smile and muttered, "Beer?" whilst holding out a brown tinted bottle with golden liquid in it. I had never had a beer before, but I guess I was eighteen now. I took it and mumbled a thanks with a smile. That's when Akira leaned against the fridge and stared at me, a little smirk playing around the edges of his lips. I felt nervous. For a second, I thought that maybe he knew that I had never had a beer before. Was he going to laugh at me? Feeling a flush take over my cheeks, I turned away from him and looked over to the door Kouyou had disappeared behind.

 

"Where's Kouyou gone?" I asked, trying to muster as much apathy as I could. For a split second, something that I couldn't really define flashed through Akira's eyes. It confused me, but then his expression went blank and he shrugged. "Dunno." He mumbled before making his way over to the couches to join Uke and Yuu.

 

I followed him, obviously not wanting to be left behind in the kitchen. I had a feeling I had offended him, so in an effort to make things right, I squeezed myself between Akira and Yuu, hoping that the latter didn't mind the sudden lack of space.

 

When Kouyou had returned, he had changed into gray sweatpants and a tightly fitted wine colored tank top. His honey blonde hair was tied in a loose pony tail, and I couldn't help but notice how many flips my stomach was doing. It was hard to think that even like this, he looked so unremarkably perfect that I couldn't help but stare at him, to fix my eyes with the slight muscle on his arms, the porcelain quality of his skin and how perfectly his bangs framed his face.

 

Suddenly, and without warning, his eyes shot over to me. I did my best to avert my gaze, not wanting to come off as rude or anything, but even as my eyes locked with the television, I knew he had seen me, and that he was now staring at me in return. Maybe he was analyzing me too, the way I had done to him just seconds before. Was he looking at me with disgust? I didn't want to check. I was too scared.

 

Nevertheless I felt myself beginning to blush under all the scrutiny. He was still staring at me, after all! I got up and made my way to the bathroom, not wanting anyone to see my reddening cheeks. Out of the three doors, I guessed it was the middle one and silently thanked the gods when it turned out I was right. I shut the door behind me and stared at myself in the mirror for a moment. I just needed a couple of minutes to myself.

 

What had gotten into me lately? I never stared at people like that! Kouyou's perfection totally disabled my ability to speak. What was so different about him? What was it that was driving me so crazy that I couldn't even stay in the same room as him and was reduced to hiding in the tiny bathroom by myself? It was ridiculous and getting out of hand. I had only known Kouyou for a couple of hours and even then, we had had nothing but a brief discussion. Sure, he was beyond gorgeous, but looks weren't the only thing that I was interested in. What if he was straight? Was he staring at me because he was disgusted with me?

 

A sudden knock on the door made me jump. "Can I come in?" It was Akira, and I heard the other's laugh behind him to themselves, Kouyou's voice rising up above the others. Akira must have slipped away quietly without them noticing.

 

I nodded, but then remembered that he couldn't see me. "Come in." The door cracked open and he slipped in, quickly shutting it behind him. "Ah, can I talk to you for a sec?" He asked, and I noticed how embarrassed he looked. I simply nodded and he moved to sit on the edge of the green bathtub taking up the opposite wall. "Listen, I know this is kind of awkward, and please don't get offended but... are you gay?"

 

His question took me by surprise. Not because I never thought of that stuff myself, but because... well, it was just so straightforward.

 

I shrugged as a reply, before thinking that I'd better say something. "Well, I'm not sure really, but... ah... I'm not straight." I hoped he could understand what I meant by that, and by the look of slight realization on his face, I'm guessing he did.

 

"Okay." Was all I got as a reply, but he didn't move to get up. He just looked up to the ceiling, as if picking his words carefully out of the sky and placing them in sentences before voicing them. "Listen, Takanori..."

 

I could tell by his tone immediately that he was about to tell me something bad. Was he against gay people? Were Kouyou, Yuu and Uke all homophobic and was he going to tell me to leave any minute? But then I noticed the very slight blush dusting Akira's cheeks and nose, and I suddenly realized something... Akira was about to ask me out.

 

My breath caught in my throat and before I could say anything else, Akira was already fumbling over his words. "I was wondering if you'd like to meet up some time? For coffee? Or maybe dinner and a movie? Or something unconventional, y'know? I don't really mind... well I do but, y'know," He seemed to realize that he was saying too much too fast because he suddenly fell quiet. I didn't know what to say. Me and Akira had only known each other for a day and now he was already asking me out. What could I say?

 

"Oh sure. Will the other's be joining us?" I decided to play it dumb in hopes that Akira would back out. "No. It'll just be us." He seemed determined and matter-of-factly and I think I cringed. I was trying desperately to keep my cool but I could feel my cheeks heating with each second that passed. "Oh." I mumbled and Akira suddenly looked apologetic.

 

"I'm sorry," He mumbled. "I should have known that you have a thing for Kouyou." He got up from the edge of the tub. "Everyone does." He looked hurt, but I couldn't say that he was wrong. After all, I myself was starting to think I had a thing for Kouyou. Akira made to grab the handle of the door.

 

I hated this. Seeing him hurt like this wasn't something I wanted, especially after he'd been so good to me on my first day. Before I could dictate my actions, I had grabbed his arm and turned him around to face me. I think I blacked out for a minute, because when I came back around, I was kissing Akira with a force that I had never used with anyone before.

 

When his large hands slipped around my back I snapped out of my trance with a realization of what I was doing so big that I wanted to be sick. My heartbeat was accelerating quickly and I could feel it now, thumping against my bones and weakening my knees.

 

"I'll take that as a yes." Akira mumbled into my hair and I cringed, secretly wanting the world to open up and swallow me whole. I hadn't exactly done a good job of diverting his attention away from the date, but at least now he was happy.

 

I nodded in agreement as he explained what time he'd pick me up and where we were going although I wasn't hearing him at all. I was too fixated on Kouyou's musical laughter that seeped into the gaps around the door and practically filled the bathroom. "So be ready for eight, okay?" Akira suddenly said loudly and I was jolted back to reality, giving a sharp nod. He smiled and we left the bathroom.

 

For the rest of the day, I squeezed myself beside Akira, practically on his lap. But I couldn't help but watch Kouyou and wonder if his lips were as soft as his laugh could be.

Chapter Text

I fumbled with the buttons on my shirt nervously. Akira was going to be here any minute and our date would begin. I didn't know what to do. If it was Kouyou that I was interested in, then telling Akira would be more difficult than anything. I remember how upset he had gotten at even the thought of Kouyou and I together. What was I going to do?

 

I focused on my face in the mirror. My hair was styled to the best of my ability, and I had decided to go with my best clothes; a tight fitting black blazer with a band t-shirt underneath, a pair of worn jeans and my favorite black army boots. I wasn't a self-centered person, but I didn't think I was ugly either and I felt like a had made myself look really nice tonight. Which made me wonder... why was I so worried about the way I looked if I didn't like Akira

 

There was a sudden knock on the door and I ran to answer it. I could feel my palms getting sweaty and I quickly wiped my hands against my pants before pulling the door open. I couldn't help the smile that forced it's way onto my face when I saw Akira. He was wearing a black leather jacket with an asymmetrical pattern and an off center zip, baggy jeans with a studded belt and a pair of boots that looked almost like mine. His hair was perfectly styled and, wait... was that a hint of eyeliner? I suddenly felt stupid that I hadn't made more of an effort, until he looked me up and down and gave a low whistle

 

"Hello, beautiful~" He almost sang, and I felt my face flare. I think he noticed my embarrassment because he let out a loud laugh before stepping past the doorway to examine my apartment. It wasn't at all like his, and I don't think he was too impressed because he let out an angry tut.

 

"So this is where they stuck you, huh?" He asked, turning to look at me. I simply nodded as I examined the peeling wall paper, the loose carpets and the damp ceilings. It wasn't nice, but it's all I could afford. I think Akira understood that, because he didn't ask anymore questions. After a moment of silence he cleared his throat. "Should we get going?" He asked, quirking an eyebrow towards me.

 

"Where exactly are we going?" I replied, feeling the excitement bubble in my stomach. Even if I did have a thing for Kouyou, I would shove it to the back of my mind for tonight. I had agreed to this date, and I was going to make Akira happy.

 

"Well there's a carnival just down the road. I was thinking we could go to that if you want...?" He trailed off with a shrug before my mind actually registered what he had said. A carnival? Weren't those things for kids? "Isn't that kind of childish?" I asked, not at all too pleased with his choice.

 

"Well, that's just to start. There's a rave later that we can go to." Akira folded his arms across his chest and waited for my reply but I just fell into peels of laughter. I couldn't help myself. A rave? That sure was one extreme to another. In all honesty I thought he was joking, but when I saw the inquisitive look on his face, my laughter quickly cleared up.

 

"Y-You're not joking?" I asked, slightly scared now. Was this really the kind of thing Akira was into? I stopped for a moment and asked myself what my parents would think if they could see me now. Thinking of my parents made me realize something...

 

"A rave sounds good to me!" I said, smiling widely. Akira returned my grin and put his arm around my shoulder as we left my apartment.

 

"Tonight's going to be a good night." He almost mumbled to himself, and I felt a mix of excitement and nerves bubble up in my stomach.

 

-o-o-

 

I never knew I could scream so loud until I felt the wind whirl past my ears and saw the lights of the carnival spin all around me. Akira was next to me, in uncontrollable laughter, squeezing my hand so tight that I thought my fingers would come off. I felt my body rise off the plastic seat I was strapped to as we sped around the loop of the roller coaster and up another steep hill. I could tell what was coming next. The big dip. We had already rode this roller coaster three times, I think I knew the layout by heart, but Akira liked it so much.

 

I felt like my heart was in my throat as we edged our way towards the dip. I would have been lying if I said that I didn't like roller coasters. In fact, I really did like them. I just didn't understand how Akira had the stomach for it. I had felt sick after coming off it the first time, but Akira had been so enthusiastic about going again that all I could do was laugh and agree with him. He really was like a child in a teenagers body, especially the way he had run around when we first arrived. I found it particularly adorable when he had lost at 'Hook the Duck' and tried to haggle his way to a prize, only to be denied and huff like a kid.

 

I glanced over at him before we descended and I thought of how lucky I was to have met him, and about how much fun I was having, and that maybe... maybe something was happening here, between Akira and myself, and that I should never have shot the idea down before giving him a chance.

 

When we walked down from the ride, Akira still seemed full of adrenaline as he jumped in front of me. "I would suggest we go again, but you look a little worse for ware." He chucked, stopping my steps by placing his hands on my shoulders. I looked up and him and smiled. "I'm just thankful to have my feet back on the ground," I sighed with relief. "And I'm hungry! Can't we eat?" I pleaded, pulling the biggest pout I could muster. That seemed to convince him because he broke into a grin and took my hand in his.

 

"Of course we can. Keep in mind that all they have here and burgers and hot dogs." He reminded me as we walked towards the food stalls. I was too focused on the feeling of his large hand enveloping mine to care too much about what food I was getting. "Burger's fine." I mumbled as I rested my head on his shoulder as we walked. I think he appreciated this, because I heard him breathe a satisfied sigh.

 

"Akira!" Someone suddenly shouted from behind us, and I felt Akira turn to see a black haired male jogging towards us. He was wearing a band t-shirt with jeans and a tiger print belt. He looked really friendly, with a wide smile on his face as he focused on Akira. "How've you been, man? I heard you got suspended again?" He asked with a short laugh.

 

"Tora!" Akira suddenly laughed as he realized who the other male was. They quickly high-fived and pulled each other in so that their shoulders touched. Something I liked to call a 'bro-five'. "I haven't seen you since you were expelled! I'm good, dude. Suspension is great!" Both of them laughed and I felt oddly out of place. All I had to do was wait until Akira introduced me, but I was very impatient, so I stepped a bit closer to their little circle. I didn't have enough time to introduce myself though, because Akira's friend, Tora, had already turned to me.

 

"And I see you have a new lady on your arm!" He said before properly looking at me. He immediately looked apologetic as he saw my frown. "Oh shit, you're a dude. Sorry buddy!" He said with a quick laugh and a clap to my shoulder. I could tell the conversation had taken a sudden turn, because Akira suddenly stiffened next to me, and I felt the tension grow. Tora swallowed nervously and looked from me to Akira.

 

"So... I'll see you later, man. I'm with some friends," He gestured over his shoulder and then turned to leave, not even waiting for Akira to reply. When he was gone, I looked up to Akira and noticed that his lips were drawn into a tight line, and his eyebrows were dipped.

 

"Who was that guy?" I asked, in an attempt to gather more information. I had gotten a good impression off him, but then he had left so suddenly after a little misunderstanding. It's not like I minded being mistaken for a girl. It was a slip anyone could have made... But why had he left so suddenly, and before he even knew my name?

 

I returned my gaze to Akira and he just gestured his head to tell me to walk. We continued strolling and for a moment the only sounds that I could hear were the familiar jingle of a merry-go-round, some children laughing and people chatting happily amongst themselves. I didn't want to press Akira for information, and I wouldn't have had to either, if he hadn't suddenly gone so tacit. I chewed my lip slightly as I thought about Tora. Was he Akira's ex? Maybe. That would explain the awkwardness. If he was Akira's ex, did Akira still have feelings for him? That would explain Akira's sudden quietness.

 

I decided to pull at Akira's arm and drag him to a nearby park bench with a table. We sat down and he huffed like a child, and I had to use all my strength not to giggle at him.

 

"Okay, what's wrong?" I demanded and he looked at me with worried eyes. "Who was that guy, why did he leave so fast and why are you so damn quiet all of a sudden?" I tried to sound stern but I think Akira saw right through me because he suddenly cracked a smiled and chuckled lowly. "You're so cute, Taka."

 

I flushed again. I wasn't doing a very good job of being stern. However, I stayed quiet because I knew that my apparent 'cuteness' would get him to talk.

 

"That was Tora, my best friend up until last year." He began, his smile disappearing as he fiddled with a loose screw on the table. "Last year he was expelled and he moved away for work. We just kind of... fell out of contact after that." I listened as Akira spoke, not wanting to interrupt him at all. If he was just a friend and they didn't talk as much as they used to, then why was Akira sulking so much?

 

"But... it's not that," Akira continued. "It's just the way he acted back there. I remember last year, I kept trying to tell him I was gay. There were so many opportunities, but I was waiting for the right moment where I felt comfortable enough to say the words 'Tora, I'm gay.' ... but that moment never came because one day, I noticed that he was angry, and I mean really angry. He told me he had seen some 'homos' holding hands down the school hall. Told me that he didn't like it. Y'know what he did?" I shook my head quickly, eager to hear the full story. Akira's eyes were angry and I reached out to cup his hand.

 

"He cornered one of them in the school bathrooms and broke his arm."

 

I couldn't help the gasp that escaped from me. Tora had broken some kid's arm? I couldn't believe it. That nice guy that I had just met, had broken some kid's arm, because he was gay?

 

"I was happy to see him again, just now... but when he saw you, I suddenly remember what had happened, and how he had got expelled. I'm sorry, Taka." He looked away from me, ashamed. I couldn't help taking his hand in mine. I wanted to comfort him.

 

"Why are you apologising?" I asked him with a small smile. I ran my thumb over each of his knuckles lightly. I felt his fingers twitch under mine as he frowned, fidgeting in his seat.

 

"I'm just afraid that he might do the same to you." He replied with a small shrug. I hadn't thought about that at all. Would he really go after me? Even if I had a good relationship with Akira? Akira had said that he and Tora had been best friends. He seemed like a shitty person, but not that shitty.

 

"I'll be fine, Aki. I can take care of myself." I told him, smiling lightly at the nickname I had come up with. He gave a short laugh and I didn't know if it was because of his new nickname, or because I had said that I could look after myself. Before I had time to ask, my stomach gave an angry growl, and I felt my cheeks flare up. Akira chuckle lowly and stood up.

 

"Alright Princess, let's get you some food." He said as he stretched. I huffed loudly, my face growing hotter, if that was at all possible. As I stood, I gave him a light slap into the stomach and he exhaled roughly, which lead to a string of coughs. I couldn't help my giggles as I watched him trying to recover.

 

-o-o-

 

We spent five hours at the carnival before Akira had decided that he was satisfied. We walked down a thin alleyway, Akira's arm around my shoulder and mine around his waist. There was a small jingle before he stuffed his hand into his pocket and pulled out his phone, answering with a light hearted "Hello~?"

 

I heard a muffled voice coming from the other end and Akira gave a few 'hmms' and 'uh huhs' as replies. "Alright, we'll be there soon, if Taka is still up for it. Okay. 'Bye." He said briskly before he hung up and slipped his phone back into his pocket. I looked up at him questioningly before he smiled down and me.

 

"Yuu and Uke are at the rave, if you still want to go?" He asked, and I chewed my lip for a moment. Yuu was the tall one and Uke was the cute one, right? Kouyou entered my mind for a brief moment, but then I remembered that he had told me he was studying for a test on Monday and wouldn't be out for the weekend.

 

I shrugged with a smile. "Sure, why not?" I said with a small laugh and Akira smiled down at me. "That's the spirit!" He beamed, as he took my hand in his, stopping our short stroll for a moment. I looked around and noticed that we had somehow ended up on a dirt path that ran along side a small river. It was quite beautiful, with the trees surrounding us and the sound of running water in the background. I felt relaxed as Akira wrapped his strong arms around my waist and drew me in closer to him. He leaned his forehead against mine and sighed happily.

 

"I really enjoyed tonight." He mumbled, and I felt myself nodding. "M-me too." For some reason I had stuttered. I didn't feel nervous, but my hands were shaking. Maybe I was just cold?

 

Akira noticed and pulled me against his chest, resting his head against mine. I didn't cringe this time because, for some reason, I felt more comfortable with Akira than I had ever felt before. Something had changed between us tonight and I felt myself warm to his touch, craving it. I was happy when I felt his lips press against my forehead, and then lightly on my nose. He hovered over my lips for a moment before kissing me lightly. I felt my knees go weak and I think the only thing keeping me up were his arms, which tightened around me as he went in again, kissing me more firmly this time, his lips running over mine in a way that made me moan slightly. I felt him smile and couldn't help my embarrassed laugh. When he pulled away, his cheeks were flushed and he was smiling widely. I felt his fingers brush over my cheek bone and sensed the butterflies in my stomach.

 

"Do you really like me?" I couldn't help but ask. I had to make sure. After all, no one had ever liked me before, not in this way anyway. Akira seemed so genuine, so sweet... He wasn't the rude delinquent he was when I first met him. Well, he was, but I could see now that that wasn't really him. He wasn't really a misbehaving bad boy. He was just a little rebellious, but with a heart of gold.

 

Akira frowned down at me. "Of course I do." He replied almost immediately, with something that sounded like worry in his voice. I smiled and he lightly poked my side. "Why would you ask me that? Isn't it obvious enough?" He said with a small laugh. I shook my head as if trying to shake the thought off. Akira was right; it was obvious that all night the only thing on his mind was me. The idea was still so foreign to me. A boyfriend. It made me cringe.

 

"No reason!" I said in a cheery voice, trying to pass my insecurities off as a joke. "Just making sure." I leaned my head against his shoulder and peered up at him. He seemed to buy it and it wasn't long before he was smirking down at me. "C'mon," He began after a moment. "Let's get going."

 

-o-o-

 

I could hear the music before we got there. Akira drove us down by the peer and I couldn't help but look around in excitement. Where was the rave being held? I could hear the music - it was loud enough to be right next to us - but I couldn't see any signs of life anywhere, there was just the peer, and then a thick forest that ran farther than my eyes permitted me to see. I think Akira noticed my curiosity, because I heard him chuckle lowly next to me.

 

"What's so funny?" I asked with a pout, and he smirked over to me as he got out of the car. I eagerly followed him, looking out on the water as I did so. It was very beautiful, but then I noticed discarded beer bottles and cigarette butts all over the ground. I couldn't help the way my nose turned up in disgust.

 

When I noticed Akira walking towards the forest, I ran to catch up with him. Grabbing his hand, I tightened my jacket around myself and felt an unnerving fear settle over me. Sure, I liked forests, but not at night, especially when there was a thick fog covering the ground. This was a classic horror movie cliché, but even so, Akira pulled me forward, urging me to follow.

 

We walked for no more than two minutes before we came across a small hill with a thick mettle door at the front. It was rusted and looked like it was ready to fall off it's hinges. "This used to be a safety bunker during some war, I dunno." He shrugged as he tugged me towards it. I remembered how bad Akira was at history and the thought made me giggle. "Because no one's taken care of it in years, the door is easy enough to open with a small kick. A lot of parties go on here, and it's a perfect location."

 

I had to bend to fit in the small door, and almost immediately there was a ladder to take us further down. I didn't go on too long, but as we descended, the music got louder and the heat rose to a point where I was already sweating. I felt like Alice going down the rabbit hole.

 

As we got to the bottom, Akira lifted me down and tugged off my jacket. I didn't like the way he threw it in the corner, but I had to be grateful; the heat in here was unbearable. I looked around and noticed just how many people were here. Girls, boys, it didn't matter, they all mingled into one crowd and danced more crudely than I had ever seen people dance before. An odd glow stick and flashing light illuminated the dark room, and Akira held onto my hand as we made our way to the bar. He shouted something in my direction but I couldn't hear a word he was saying. He leaned into my ear and shouted again.

 

"What are you drinking?!"

 

Shit. How did I answer that? I had never drank before in my life... best just to play it safe tonight. "Just a beer!" I shouted in returned, and he gave me a thumbs up. While he stayed at the bar, I went to a nearby wall to wait patiently. The bass of the music was so loud that I felt it in my bones, and it almost dictated the way my heart was beating.

 

Akira returned not long after and handed me my drink. Before I could thank him, a long sheen of black hair filled my gaze and Yuu was suddenly attacking Akira in a hug, Uke not long behind him with a wide dimpled grin on his face. I could barely hear Yuu over the music.

 

"Aki! I'm so fucking pissed!" He shouted as he stumbled. If it wasn't for Uke grabbing him, he probably would have fallen over. "You up for a pill?" Yuu asked, retrieving a small plastic bag with small white pills in it.

 

Holy crap.

 

Those were drugs.

 

No wonder Yuu was intoxicated. Akira looked at me nervously and I chewed my lip. If Akira wanted to do pills, that was fine, but I certainly wouldn't be having anything to do with any drugs. I nodded towards him, to tell him that it was okay, and Yuu slipped one into his hand. Akira quickly threw it into his mouth and took a gulp of his drink as Yuu turned and placed one on Uke's tongue, who smiled and mumbled a thanks. I looked at all of them nervously... I didn't want to give into peer pressure, but I also didn't want to end up taking care of them all for the night. If Kouyou was here, I wonder what he would do. He seemed the most sensible out of all of them, but I had a feeling that Kouyou was just as much a party animal as the rest of the guys.

 

Yuu turned to me and smiled. "Want one?" He asked, swaying lightly as he held up the small bag. I didn't know what to do. I looked from Yuu to Akira. He looked so worried as he suddenly leaned over and shouted "You don't have to if you don't want to." in my ear. I had a feeling that he would have wanted me to take the pill, so that I would let go and enjoy myself. Wasn't eighteen the age to start experimenting with this kind of stuff? When else was I going to get the chance?

 

With that in mind, I put out my hand and smiled towards Yuu. He made an impressed face and slipped on into Akira's hand. "I'll leave you take care of this one." He said with a wink, and then dragged Uke off to the dance floor. I looked at Akira for an explanation but he was just smirking to himself.

 

"Are you sure?" He asked me and I nodded firmly. I was positive, excited, even. I put out my hand again, but Akira shook his head and lowered it again. He then slipped the pill onto his tongue and pulled me forward. I flushed. Was this really necessary?

 

When our lips met, my eyes slipped shut and I enjoyed the light touches for a moment, until Akira slipped his tongue into my mouth. I felt my cheeks flare, but I couldn't help the moan that escaped me. His hands roamed up my sides as I felt the pill enter my mouth. It was fizzing bitterly against my mouth as Akira pulled away, but I managed to swallow it fine. I took a sip from my drink and Akira smiled.

 

Great. My first proper kiss was a drug kiss.

 

It didn't bother me as much as I thought it would. I was just glad my first kiss had been with Akira. Just as I was thinking this, my eyes traveled over Akira's shoulder and locked with Yuu, who was dancing with Uke. He winked at me and I couldn't help my pout. Suddenly, Uke grabbed him by the jaw and pulled him into a half dance, half kiss. I quirked an eyebrow and pulled Akira down to my level to talk to him.

 

"Are they together?" I shouted and he made a strange face, as if he couldn't really answer my questions. "It's complicated!" He replied and I couldn't help but laugh. Akira then took my hand and began to drag me into the mass of people. I tried to shout and tell him I couldn't dance, but he obviously couldn't hear me. I started to panic. Crowds always made me nervous, but for some reason those nerves never came. In fact, I felt a surge of energy so strong that I wanted to dance. The music was becoming deeper, and I could feel it shake my body, fill my head and ears. Akira turned me around, so that he now stood behind me, and wrapped his arms around my body, suddenly moving to the beat of the music. I couldn't help but dance along with him. My vision was beginning to blur and I could feel Akira bury his head in the crook of my neck, his lips on my skin, placing small kisses here and there. I shut my eyes and let him direct me, the butterflies in my stomach making me feel light headed.

 

I had never felt this good in my life. I felt like I was flying, like I was the king of the world and that I could do anything I wanted, and people would listen to me. I sensed the confidence radiating off me and even though Akira was moving me and showing me how to dance, I had a feeling that I was really the one in control here. With that thought in mind, I turned to face him and wrapped my arms around his neck, pressing my body into his as we danced. I saw something dark flash though his eyes before he pulled me into a heated kiss, his tongue running along my bottom lip before he took it between his teeth and bit it lightly. I felt a flutter in my stomach and I rewarded him by grinding my lower half into his. I felt him squeeze my hips lightly before he ground more roughly into me.

 

Holy fuck. The electricity that coursed through my body was intense, and I found myself craving more. I slipped my hand into his hair as our tongues finally touched. I felt him let out something like a low moan or a growl, and I couldn't help but turn into putty in his hands. I was getting much too excited to be in a place like this. I wanted Akira to take me back to his place, but we had just got here and I wasn't sure if he wanted to leave just yet. Even so, I didn't think I could stick this heat much longer.

 

I knew by now that the pill had kicked in, but I had to take a moment to think about things logically. I had only known Akira for two days, and I was already totally infatuated with him. However, I had to pace myself. Even if I had taken a pill, my morals still came first, and I would not be sleeping with him tonight. But the thought almost disappointed me. I would do anything to not be the insecure little Takanori for one night, and to just go a bit crazy, but I couldn't. There was no pill in the world that would grant me that. Even so, that didn't mean that I couldn't have fun with Akira, and judging by the way he was dancing, with his hands running under my shirt and skimming across the skin on my stomach, I think it was safe to say that he was having a lot of fun.

 

"...so fucking sexy." I heard him say, his lips next to my ear. A part of me died, and I wasn't sure if it was from embarrassment or arousal. I squeezed his large bicep and pulled at him, tugging him towards the ladder that led to the front door. He looked at me in confusion, but I just tugged at him harder. Once we were outside, I sighed with relief as the cold air hit my face. I hadn't realized how warm it was in there.

 

Akira took my hand in his. "What's wrong?" He asked. "Was it the dancing?" Even though he sounded worried, I could tell there was disappointment in his voice. I shook my head quickly. He was slightly wobbly on his feet and his eyes looked droopy. I couldn't help the amusement that arose in my stomach. "It wasn't the dancing," I said with a smile and a short giggle. His breathed a sigh of relief before pulling me closer to him.

 

"Can we go back to yours?" I heard myself asking, and I immediately started to panic. He looked surprised before nodding, his tongue running out to wet his lips. "S-Sure. C'mon." He took my hand and tugged me towards the car. I felt myself still for a moment. Was Akira going to drive in his condition? I may have taken a pill, but I still wasn't that stupid.

 

"A-Akira?" I asked before he unlocked the car. "Hmm?" He peered at me over the roof and I suddenly felt my cheeks flare. What was I doing? I trusted Akira, so I shook the worry off and hopped into the passenger seat. I buckled my belt as Akira started the engine and reversed out the same way we had come, albeit a lot faster. Everyone was still partying, so there wasn't much traffic. We pulled out onto the main road and I glanced over to Akira. He was drumming his fingers against the steering wheel, his eyes on the road. I felt myself relax. Maybe he wasn't as bad as I thought he was.

 

-o-o-

 

Thankfully, we arrived without harm. Akira pulled up into the parking lot, hitting a dumpster and knocking it over on the way in, before pulling into the nearest spot messily. I watched him as he shut off the engine. He was even more handsome in the dark with the streetlights illuminating his face. Leaning over, I turned his head to face me and hovered above his lips for a moment before he closed the gap in another rough kiss.

 

I felt my knees push together, my lower half squirming as his tongue touched mine and his hand inched it's way up my thigh. I could feel the nerves reaching colossal proportions in my stomach, but I didn't care. The way his hand massaged my inner thigh made me moan, and I wanted more of Akira. I pulled away and looked at him. His eyes were dark, probably with arousal, and he was biting his lip. Suddenly, I felt myself smirking and hurrying to exit the car. He followed, and we hurriedly made our way into the apartment complex and into the small elevator.

 

Even then, I found myself craving him. I wrapped my hands around him and pulled him close to me, smashing my lips against his in a non-too-romantic way. He backed me into the wall the stood between my legs, his hands roaming down to my hips before grinding his lower half into mine roughly. I couldn't help the half moan half yelp that escaped me. It was just too good. The pleasure that coursed through my body was too much, and I felt myself go weak. I felt Akira grind against me again and I tilted my head back, resting it against the wall as he attacked my neck, his slick tongue running along my Adam's apple.

 

I couldn't take much more, but thankfully we pulled away from each other as we felt the lift slow to a stop. Akira grabbed my hand and pulled me down the hall, stopping only when we reached the door. I found it hilarious when he fumbled with his keys, searching desperately until he found the right one. Once the door was unlocked, it burst open and Kouyou looked up from his books, startled at the sudden intrusion.

 

Akira only nodded a quick "Hey." before grabbing my hand and dragging me off to his bedroom. I looked back at Kouyou and saw him giggle and wink at me. With the day, and night, I had spent with Akira, I felt little for the beautiful man that sat studying at the table. It did worry me; how easy it was to feel something for a person one day, and then have it forgotten the next.

 

Once in his room, Akira shut and locked his door, immediately grabbing me by the hips and planting his lips on mine. I felt him lead me backwards towards the bed and I didn't want to break the heated kiss, but when my legs hit the bed, I fell backwards onto it. I wanted to pull him down on top of me, but he pulled away, looking down at me for a moment before pulling his shirt off over his head and throwing it to one side. When he did climb onto me, his hands went to my chest and pushed the fitted blazer I was wearing to either side of my body. I tried to manoeuvre my body to fit his unspoken directions, and eventually my blazer was off and thrown carelessly to one side. His hands immediately went to my shirt, pushing it up until my whole chest was on show. I felt my face go red from embarrassment, but it was soon gone as Akira leaned over and took one of my nipples between his teeth, pulling at it lightly before he ran his tongue along it. His fingers glided around my back and down towards my ass, lightly squeezing and kneading my skin.

 

I couldn't help but moan. The combination of both made my stomach twist in excited electricity that traveled straight to my crotch. Suddenly, Akira looked up to me with an amused smirk. "As sexy as those little moans are," he said in a sex-laced voice, and I felt my face heat up. "...try to keep it down. Kouyou is in the next room."

 

I clasped my hand over my mouth and gave a shaky nod. Akira laughed lightly before getting back to what he was doing, only this time he began to run his tongue down the middle of my chest and stomach. He continued downwards before he was kneeling on the ground in between my legs. I knew what was coming next, and I propped myself up on my elbows to look at him.

 

His hands slid up my thighs and rested on my belt before his eyes flickered up to mine, as if asking for my permission. I gave a quick nod. I wanted this. I wanted to push my insecurities to one side, and I wanted to fuck Akira. End of story, that is what was happening.

 

Once he was convinced that I was comfortable enough, he began to undo my belt and zip, quickly tugging my pants down to my knees. I suddenly felt embarrassed. I knew how excited I was, and the thought of Akira seeing that made my heart beat so fast that I started to feel sick. I had to stop him for a minute. There was something he needed to know.

 

"Aki... Akira?" I said timidly, just as his fingers had hooked the waistband of my boxers. He paused and looked up at me, curiosity oddly blended with arousal in his eyes.

 

"I'm a virgin."

 

There was no point in hiding it. He would find out soon enough anyway, and it was best that we get that stuff out of the way before we continued. He suddenly paused, and his face grew concerned. He removed his fingers from my boxers, and rested his hands on my thighs. "Are you sure?" He asked.

 

"Yes I'm pretty sure I'm a virgin." I replied curtly, confused by his question until he gave a soft chuckle. "No, are you sure you want to do this?" He asked, softly stroking my thighs in a way that seemed to sooth my heart. "With me, I mean." He looked insecure all of a sudden, and I rose into a sitting position in front of him, cupping his face and pulling it towards mine, placing a soft but firm kiss on his lips.

 

"Of course I am." I simply replied and he smiled up at me before lowering my shoulders back against the bed. I did feel nervous. My insides were still squirming with unease, but for some reason it felt normal. I could tell I was shaking, but again, this seemed ordinary to me. I knew that everyone must react this way during their first time.

 

I was brought out of my thoughts when I felt Akira hook his fingers under my waist band again, and suddenly, I wanted to grab a pillow and pull it over my face. I knew my cheeks were probably beet red, both from arousal and embarrassment.

 

I felt him pull the fabric down, lower and lower until I was fully exposed. I kept my eyes glued to the ceiling, waiting for what seemed like hours until Akira's large hand enclosed around me. I had never felt someone else's hand besides my own on my, uh... private areas. It felt weird to say the least, but also very warm and, I don't know... comforting, I suppose.

 

And then Akira's hand began to move, slowly at first, pumping my shaft, with light squeezes here and there. I couldn't help the very light moan that tore it's way from my throat. I think Akira chuckled, but I couldn't be too sure. I was too focused on this feeling, on his hand stroking me, with the occasional flick of his thumb against the tip. I suddenly felt a tightness in my stomach, and felt my hips raise off the bed, wanting more, needing more.

 

Akira suddenly held my hips down, his hand doing quick jerks against my cock, rougher with each pull. I decided to look down at him, so I propped myself up on my elbows, only to find out that his eyes were already fixed on me, so intense that I felt like a mouse about to get devoured by an eagle. He was staring me straight in the eyes before he glanced down at my manhood, slowing his pumps to slow strokes again.

 

"A-Akira~" I couldn't help but moan his name, to get his attention back on me. I licked my dry lips and he suddenly let me go, standing up to tug off my shoes and pants. I threw my t-shirt off to one side, so that I lay completely naked on his bed, no longer embarrassed about how I looked. Akira had already accepted my body, liked it even, and for that I was thankful.

 

He was shirtless above me, and I couldn't help but scan his muscular torso while he undid his belt. When he had finally removed his pants, he kneeled at the end of the bed again, this time taking my legs and resting them on his shoulders. He kissed my thigh, giving it a soft lick before he bit my skin lightly. I couldn't help the slight whimper that I voiced, enjoying the feeling but also feeling frustration when my arousal was being ignored. He continued his small kisses here and there, as he glanced up at me. I could tell he was smiling, and it only occurred to me now that he was teasing me. I pouted down at him, and his kisses ceased, his hand returning to my arousal again. He pumped for a moment and my head fell back against the bed as I suddenly felt a bit light-headed. It wasn't until a couple of pumps later that I felt something wet and slick against my tip. I quickly propped myself up to look down and him as he took the head in his mouth.

 

My heart thudded in my chest as waves of pleasure coursed through me. Akira's mouth worked itself along my cock, taking it in and sucking lightly before releasing it again. I was sure my moans were getting loud again, but Akira didn't seem to care too much this time. He just continued what he was doing with short licks every now and again. I felt the pleasure mount inside me, in the pit of my stomach and realized that my climax was mounting.

 

"Akira~ C-Coming!" I tried to warn him, but I think it was too late. I felt it coursing through me, building up faster and faster. Just when I was about to release, the sensation was gone, and I gave a frustrated moan. I had been so close, but it was so suddenly cut off that it felt unfair. I glanced down at Akira to see his hand firmly gripping the base of my cock, and I quirked a brow at him.

 

"Not yet, Princess~" He simply said with a smile before raising off the ground to retrieve something from his bedside locker. I was curious for a moment before he showed me a small container of lube. I knew what was coming next, and it both worried and excited me. I had heard that this part would hurt, but that it would get better if I relaxed and just went with it.

 

Akira resumed his position on the ground in front of me, lifting my legs again so that they were resting on his shoulders. He then spread them a little, and I couldn't help how self-conscious I felt. It was the first time that I was fully exposed like this to another person. I was just thankful that that person was Akira.

 

I watched as he poured a generous amount on his fingers, making sure they were slick before placing one at my entrance. "Let me know if you want to stop," He was in a soft voice, and I gave a shaky nod, relaxing against the bed and exhaling deeply.

 

When I felt the first finger enter me, I had been expecting it to hurt, but it didn't. It just felt strange, foreign. Akira glanced at me every now and again to check my reaction, and when he was comfortable enough, he started with the second one.

 

A sharp pain shot up my back and I whimpered, biting the back of my hand to quieten myself. I tried to squeeze my legs together, but Akira pushed them apart again, telling me that I needed to relax more. I gave another nod and he continued, twisting his fingers and moving them in a scissoring motion every now and then. When I had gotten used to the feeling he began with the third finger. I exhaled deeply and relaxed as best I could, and when it slid into me, I felt tears prick my eyes. I wasn't sure if Akira was rushing this or not, because suddenly all the fingers were in and he was twisting and turning them, as if he was searching for something.

 

I could tell he was about to give up and when he was removing his fingers, he brushed against something inside me that made my back arch. I wanted to push against him, to get more of that friction, but he held me firmly in place. Suddenly he jabbed his fingers at the spot again and I gave a strangled moan, my vision going blurry. I arched off the bed, my fingers going knuckle-white in the bed sheets.

 

"A-Akira!" I moaned out his name in an attempt to tell him just how good it felt, just how much I wanted it, but I heard him chuckle from the end of the bed, jabbing and poking at the spot repeatedly.

 

When he was done 'preparing' me, as he explained, he removed his fingers and took the lube again, this time squirting some onto his hand. I laid breathless on his bed and watched as he stroked himself. I could tell he was putting on a show, because his eyes were locked to mine and he brought himself to full hardness, his hand gliding over his cock almost effortlessly. My tongue ran out to lick my dry lips, and he quirked a grin.

 

He knelt onto the bed, and I scooted to make room for him. Grabbing my thighs, he pulled me roughly towards him and raised my leg onto his shoulder so that I know laid on my side. Satisfied with our position, he aligned himself with my entrance. "Are you ready?" He asked me, and when I nodded, he began to push in, his teeth gritting as he entered me.

 

"Shit, Taka," He groaned, and I felt my cock twitch as his head fell back, enjoying the sight of a pleasured Akira almost more than being pleasured myself. His preparation was good, because the initial penetration didn't hurt half as much as I thought it would.

 

When he was fully buried within me, he bit my knee, his eyes shut and his face twisted in a mix of concentration and arousal. I guessed that he was giving me time to adjust, so I decided it would be fun to give him a bit of encouragement when I was ready.

 

"Aki, fuck me~ fuck me hard,"

 

His eyes locked with mine, so predatory that fear flashed through me for a fleeting moment. I guessed that I was pushing him well over his line, but I would be lying if I said I didn't want it. I had already gone passed the point of no return.

 

When he began to move, it was slow at first. Slow, but deep and hard. His hips snapped forward again and again, and I couldn't help shutting my eyes, letting the feeling of his thrusts take over me.

 

"You're so tight~" He groaned, holding my hip as he continued, his thrusts speeding up until he was drilling into me, making me unable to even think. I could tell he was hitting that spot within me again and again, slapping against it so roughly that I felt myself pushing back to meet his thrusts, desperate for more.

 

He was long gone passed quietness at this stage, and I was sure Kouyou would be able to hear his low groans and my strangled noises from the living room. The thought made my cock twitch and I bit into my elbow which I rested my head on. Just as I was about to beg for more, Akira slowed his thrusts, grabbing my hips and turning me over so that I was now on all fours below him. The minute I was settled, the pounding continued, his slick cock slipping in and out of me, hitting me again and again in that spot, making me see stars.

 

Too tired to hold myself up anymore, I laid my chest against the bed so that all that remained in the air was my ass. Akira had one hand on my back and one tightly squeezing my hip as he thrust against me.

 

"Call my name, Taka~" I heard him say breathlessly, and I was only too happy to oblige.

 

"A-Akira! Hn, right there Aki! Fuck me good right there~"

 

I heard him groan above me and peeked over my shoulder to look at him, biting into one of my knuckles as I did. A thin layer of sweat coated him, and he gazed at me for a moment, angling his hips just right to make me scream.

 

"Like that?" He asked and I only nodded, my eyes screwed shut from the pleasure. I could feel it building up again, in my stomach, but for some reason I couldn't release. I needed to touch myself, or get Akira to do it, because I was starting to ache. I could feel my precome dripping from me.

 

"Akira~ Touch me, baby. Make me come,"

 

I could tell he was really enjoying the dirty talk because his thrusts got more rough for a moment. He was getting desperate for release himself, and he quickly reached his hand around and took my cock, pumping it messily, I squeezed my hands into fists, moaning his name as I suddenly felt my arousal peak.

 

"I'm coming, A-Aki, I'm coming!" I called to him breathlessly and his thrusts sped up along with his pumps to my cock.

 

And suddenly the knot in my stomach broke and before I knew it, I was releasing onto Akira's hand and onto the bed below us. I stuffed my face into the pillow, calling his name again and again as I rode out my orgasm. I could feel him still thrusting behind me, but it didn't take long until his hips stalled and I felt his hot come fill me to the brim. He groaned out, grinding his hips in a circular motion against mine before pulling out, jacking the last few spurts out onto my ass and lower back.

 

-o-o-

 

When we were finished and cleaned up, Akira crawled into the bed beside me, totally spent. He wrapped his strong arms around me and buried his face in my neck, inhaling deeply before exhaling. I could feel his heart beat against my back, and for a moment his arms tightened, squeezing me close before relaxing again.

 

"Be mine."

 

I heard his breath brush against my ear, so soft, as if he had fallen asleep and was now in the midst of a dream. I knew he was awake though, but I was too surprised to say anything. Was he asking me, or telling me?

 

"Be mine, Taka."

 

I gave a shaky nod, so light that I wasn't sure he had felt it. I was reassured when he took my hand in his and kissed the area right behind my ear.

 

"I will."

 

My answer had come out a lot more tired than I had intended it, but Akira seemed happy nonetheless. I guess that was it now. We were official boyfriends. The thought made me smile to myself in the darkness, my hand idly running over the soft skin of Akira's arm. I could tell he had fallen asleep, because his breathing had deepened and slowed to a steady rhythm. It wasn't until I was drifting off to sleep myself that I realized my own heart beat matched his breathe, as if Akira's presence resonated deep within me.

Chapter Text

I woke the next morning in Akira's bed on my own. I felt groggy, like I had just woken up from a coma or something. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes as I sat up. The sudden pain I felt was a sharp reminder of what exactly had happened last night.

 

I tried to calm myself down the minute I felt the panic coming. I had done drugs. I had drank. I had had sex with someone I had known for less than fifty hours. I was also now in a relationship.

 

Wow.

 

It had been one hell of a night. I had done the whole rebellious thing, that some kids take their whole teens to do, in one night. Sex, drugs and alcohol. The trifecta.

 

My parents would be proud.

 

Just as I was laughing to myself at the thought of my parents faces in total disappointment, Akira barged into the room with a tray of what I could only assume was breakfast for me. I couldn't help the way my eyes traveled. He was wearing loose pajama bottoms and no top, his hair disheveled and a smudge of flour across his cheek. It was like he was almost asking to be stared at.

 

"Morning Sleeping Beauty~" He said with a smile, moving to the side of the bed to sit next to me. I rushed to gather the blankets around me, suddenly realizing that I was still naked. "I made you blueberry pancakes, the Akira Special, as they're known in this apartment."

 

"True dat." I heard Kouyou second from the sitting room, and I giggled to myself. I had never woken up to this kind of atmosphere before. The smell of coffee hung in the air, and I could hear the mixed sounds of music and birds whistling in the background. The sun was streaming in the open window, along with a nice light breeze, and everyone seemed to be in a good mood. I felt a strange warmth in my chest, realizing that this feeling was happiness.

 

I reached my hand out and took Akira's in mine, smiling gently towards him. "Thank you." I said, as sincerely as I could muster. He had been so kind to take me into this happy little bubble; this light-hearted life that they all led. I couldn't believe I was actually part of it.

 

He gave a short nod and then examined me, as if checking if I'd been damaged since he'd left me. "How're you feeling?" He tucked a bit of hair behind my ear as I munched on the pancakes. Akira really did have a talent, because the pancakes were delicious.

 

"I'm fine, why?" I inquired, and he broke into a smile. "Oh, y'know, no reason." He said, his voice hinting otherwise. I could see that look in his eyes, as if he had accomplished a great feat. I playfully slapped his side, from which he shied away, at an attempt to silence his thoughts on the night before, but it was no use. He was laughing like a kid who had gotten into a bowl of sugar.

 

"I'm fine." I insisted and he nodded again. A couple more bites and I was done with breakfast. I put the plates to one side and leaned over to kiss his nose lightly. "Where are my clothes?" I asked, wanting to stretch my legs, but not wanting to walk around naked either.

 

"I dunno, you were the one throwing them everywhere last night." He retorted quickly with a laugh. I couldn't help the blush that settled over my cheeks. He just had a way of embarrassing me more than anyone I had encountered before.

 

I slapped his arm and when he's laughing continued, I decided to go for a more annoying approach. "Akiii~~ Aki, where are my clothes?! Where are my clothes, Aki?!" I whined over and over, like a child calling for their mother.

 

"Alright, alright!" He suddenly shouted, standing up and quickly searching the floor for any shards of my clothing. I gloated like a kid from the bed, snuggling myself under the blanket so that I looked as relaxed as possible as he did all the labour. Before I knew it, however, he was tossing each one he found at me, hitting me square in the face with my underwear. I let out a sound of indecency and he chuckled lightly.

 

When he had retrieved all my clothes, I wasted no time in rushing him out of the room so I could get dressed. As I stood up from the bed, I stretched my arms above my head. I could still feel the dull pain in my lower back, but I tried to ignore it as best I could. I quickly got dressed and opened the door to the living room, not even bothering to check if I looked halfway decent.

 

"Good morning." Kouyou greeted me in his usually soft voice, and I was quick to return the gesture before he retreated to his room to get ready for the day.

 

I spotted Akira on the couch and as he looked up at me, I felt my knees go a little weak. Although, it could have also just been my tired muscles trying to keep me up after all the... activity last night. Wasting no time, I slumped into the couch, regretting the decision when the sharp pain hit me. I passed it off with a light cough and Akira put his arm around me, my head automatically going to rest on his shoulder.

 

"Okay seriously," He began, looking a bit embarrassed. "How was last night?"

 

I couldn't help but blush. In an effort to skip all the sex questions, I mumbled about how I had never done drugs before and how it was weird for me. He seemed to get the hint that I didn't want to talk about the sex just yet, so he stopped his questions for the moment.

 

"I have to do grocery shopping today." He voiced after a moment of silence and I looked up at him, confused as to why this was suddenly the topic for conversation. "Wanna come with?"

 

I gave a short nod and he arose from the chair, stretching his arms over his head before looking back over to me. "I'm gonna get ready, why don't you go to your place and get freshened up, maybe run a brush through that hair?"

 

My hands shot up to check my hair and he chuckled lightly. What a mess! My hair was knotted and all over the place! Why hadn't I at least checked I was okay before coming out of Akira's room. I stood up as fast as I could and retrieved my jacket. As I was leaving, Akira pulled at my arm and spun me around into a light kiss. When he released me, he gave me a smile.

 

"Meet me by the car in twenty minutes, okay?"

 

I gave a short nod and left. A shower sounded good right about now.

 

-o-o-

 

When I got to my apartment, I unlocked the door and hurried to the bathroom. When I noticed there was something stuck to my foot, I paused for a moment and lent against the door so I could retrieve it. It looked like a letter and I realized that it must have been on the ground by the door when I had rushed in.

 

My first letter in my new apartment! I was a bit excited to see what it was, thinking that it might be a reply to one of the jobs I had applied to.

 

I couldn't have been more wrong.

 

It was a single sheet of paper, thin and flimsy with the words "We're coming for you." scrawled across it.

 

I studied it for a moment, reading over the sentence five, ten, fifteen times. Finally resolving that it must be a joke, or maybe sent to the wrong place, I quickly scrunched it up and tossed it in the trash, not wanting to have it bother me anymore.

 

After my shower, I checked the time on my phone and realized I only had five minutes until I had to meet Akira down stairs. I quickly tugged on whatever clothes I could find, which consisted of a baggy t-shirt and tight denim jeans. Once I ran the hair dryer through my wet locks a couple of times, I quickly rushed out of my apartment and locked the door behind me.

 

When I turned to make my way down the hall, something hit me in the side of the head and I felt myself topple over, falling against the wall and eventually landing on the ground with a bang. A loud ringing filled my ears, and as I looked up to see what happened, my vision blurred so I could only make out three taller figures standing above me. Was I being mugged?

 

I quickly dug my hands into my pocket and retrieved my phone and my wallet, offering it up to them in return for my safety, but the only response I got was a round of laughs as someone kicked them out of my hand and across the floor.

 

"We told you we were coming for you."

 

My heart stopped. This voice... It was cruel. My vision was starting to focus, but before I could make out any of the faces standing above me, I was kicked into the stomach. I must have screamed out, I can't remember for sure, but there was a loud screech that filled the air and I knew I was the only one in enough pain to release such a noise. I felt someone push me onto my back with their foot before keeping me pinned there.

 

There was something wet in my hair and I knew it was blood. I started to panic. I was in big trouble right now. If I wasn't going to die right here, I was definitely coming away from this with some broken limbs.

 

Broken limbs...

 

"He cornered one of them in the school bathrooms and broke his arm."

 

I suddenly remembered what Akira had told me last night, about his old friend Tora. Tora... A rapid tornado of the night before was swirling in my head, and I thought about the voice that had spoken so cruelly to me only moments ago. It was Tora.

 

Just when I came to my realization, my vision focused and I saw him glaring down at me, his face twisted in a mix of anger and satisfaction. He lowered the bat from his shoulder and lined it up with my face.

 

"This is for brainwashing my friend."

 

Before I had time to protest, or beg for my life, he raised the bat and immediately brought it down against my shoulder with a force meant for malice. Bone splitting pain wracked the left side of my body and I screamed out again, tears springing to my eyes and streaming down the sides of my head.

 

I thought of Akira, and how I wished he'd come to save me. I knew he would feel guilty about getting me involved in this and that thought almost hurt me more than the pain I was feeling.

 

"Please!" I tried, squirming under the foot on my chest. "Please stop!" I knew my arm must be broken, but I raised my unharmed hand in an attempt to push his foot off me. I was met with his laughter and sneering. Of course I didn't have the strength to fight him off.

 

I prayed, my eyes shut, for a quick death. The pain working it's way through my arm was like nothing I'd ever felt. If I hadn't just been hit with a bat, I would've sworn my arm was on fire.

 

I had given up hope. There was nothing left for me now. I was sobbing on the ground like a child, trying desperately to clutch at my arm. I must have looked pathetic. Tora raised the bat again and I waited for another hit, this one probably to the head.

 

But the hit never came. Someone came barreling down the hallway and slammed their body against Tora's, quickly followed by another person who grabbed my injured arm to haul me up off the ground. I let out a scream when the person tugged and they quickly let go. I was crying too much to see who my saviors were, but I could smell Akira's aftershave. I wanted to laugh with happiness, but the second person was tugging me up again. I whimpered, trying to convey that I was in pain, but they continued.

 

"Come on! We need to get you out of here!"

 

The voice wasn't any that I had heard before. It was slightly girlish, but I could still tell it was a guy, and they sounded so adolescent. I could tell this person was younger than me. I didn't want to question him though. He had come with Akira and I wasn't going to second guess Akira's judgement.

 

"Akira!" I tried to convey my stress, my worry, that Akira was in danger. I think the other person understood because I heard a short giggle. "He can take of himself, don't worry."

 

I was dragged back into my apartment and seated on one of the two chairs in the living room. Akira's companion ran off to the fridge to collect some ice for me, and it was only now that I got a good look at him. He had bleached blonde hair, that ran passed his shoulders, with the ends dyed pink, and a piercing just below the centre of his bottom lip. His eyes were big, and he must have been only about my height. His clothes said a lot about him as he scampered about the place. He wore a white over sized hoodie with graffiti style writing across it, and a pair of tight bright pink pants, a black beanie hat sitting on his head.

 

When he had finally gotten the ice together he whirled around and made his way over to me, smiling and revealing two deep dimples in his cheeks. He pressed the towel against my shoulder and I whimpered, trying in vain to hold back the tears that eventually spilled down my cheeks. He shushed me, and oddly enough, stroked my hair comfortingly.

 

"It's okay, shh... it's okay." His voice was soft, light, and it helped to calm my nerves, but I couldn't help but think that Akira was still out there, fighting off Tora and the others on his own. I reached out and grabbed the blonde's wrist, and he suddenly looked up at me, his eyes wide with shock.

 

"Where is he?" I asked desperately, and just as he was about to answer, Akira burst through the door and locked it behind him. When he turned around, I saw that he had a streak of blood down the left side of his face.

 

He rushed over to me and took my face in his hands, brushing my hair back and examining the cut on my head. "Are you alright?" He asked me breathlessly. I noticed that his knuckles were busted up, streaked with blood that I wasn't sure was his. I gave a shaky nod. "M-My arm..." I trailed, looking down at it. It had gone numb by now, and I could only feel a dull pain, but even that worried me. Akira carefully rolled my sleeve up and revealed my shoulder, which was already turning purple and was swollen to twice it's size.

 

"Aki, we should go to the hospital." His companion said, twisting his lip piercing with his fingers worriedly. I looked up at him again. Who was this guy? Why was he on a nick name basis with Akira? The thought worried me, but my focus was quickly taken off him when Akira kissed my forehead, and then my nose.

 

"We'll have to wait for a little while," Akira began, gazing at me and nibbled his lip. "They could still be outside, and I don't want Taka in any worse a condition than he's already in."

 

The other male was about to protest, but Akira silenced him. "Can you make a sling for his arm?" The smaller of the two nodded and ran off. Akira leaned over to me again and took the ice, softly pressing it against my skin. Again, I cried. Not because of the pain this time, but because I think my mind was only registering what had happened now. Fear that I had never known before settled over me and before I knew it, I was shaking violently. Akira stroked my hair in an effort to calm me down.

 

"Damn those guys..." Akira mumbled to himself. I could see that he was also shaking but not with fear. With anger. I reached out and touched the blood on his face with my uninjured hand. "You're hurt." I said, my voice concerned. He gave a short laugh. "I'm fine." He replied.

 

It took me a moment to see the tears in his eyes. His teeth were clenched, and I ran my hand over his hair in an effort to make him feel better. "I'm so sorry, Taka." He grumbled, his voice breaking and the tears finally spilling. My heart twisted painfully and I brought his head in to rest against my chest.

 

In the midst of his sobs, Akira's friend returned with the sling. Akira stood and went by the window as me and the third, still unnamed, person worked my arm into the sling. I had to admit that it felt better once my arm was secured, and Akira's friend smiled brightly.

 

"There we go! All fixed up!" I eyed him curiously and I think he sensed my questioning. "You can call me Takeru! I'm an old friend of Akira's." He beamed, reaching out to take my hand in his and shake it lightly. Akira had returned to my side once the introductions were done. He had retrieved a cloth from somewhere and wet it, now dabbing it against my head to get all the dried blood off.

 

"I think we can go to the hospital now. Tora's car is gone," He mumbled, kissing the side of my head. I gave a short nod and Takeru grabbed the keys.

 

"I'll drive you guys," He almost sang. I wondered why he was taking the time out of his day to help us. Nevertheless, we thanked him and were on our way.

 

-o-o-

 

When we got to the hospital, they were able to see us right away. I was told that my arm wasn't broken, but my shoulder was dislocated and it would have to be popped back into place after an x-ray to make sure there weren't any shards of bone loose. Once the x-ray was done, we found out that it was safe to pop the bone back into the socket. I had to admit that it felt weird having an x-ray. I had never broken any bones or been in hospital for anything major, mainly because, even though I didn't like to admit it, up until I had been disowned, I had lived a very sheltered life.

 

Akira held my hand as they gave me a gag to bite down on. The doctor took a hold of my elbow and slowly counted to three before a quick push forward. There was a pop and I bit into the gag in my mouth, tears pricking the sides of my eyes. Akira gave my hand a tight squeeze once the doctor was done and I was happy when a nice warmth spread throughout my arm, satisfied that it was now back in place. The doctor then gave me a proper sling and told me I had to wear it for a couple of weeks.

 

I was also told that the cut on my forehead wasn't serious, and had it cleaned and bandaged. Once I was all looked after, it was Akira's turn to get checked up. The doctor told us that he needed stitches above his left eye, and his knuckles would be badly bruised for the next couple of weeks. When he left to get the equipment, I turned and pecked Akira's cheek lightly, but he didn't smile. It was almost as if he was ignoring me.

 

"Aki?" I called out to him, but all he did was look down at the ground, as if deep in thought. I knew that he must be beating himself up over this, and the thought annoyed me. "Akira." I called his name again, this time firmer, and he finally looked up to me. His eyes were confused and I wasn't sure if it was because of how I had called his name, or that he was still processing everything that had happened today.

 

"Stop worrying," I told him, but that seemed to annoy him. His eyebrows dipped and he turned his head away from me. I was stuck for words. What could I possibly say to make this situation better, to make him feel better?

 

"Listen," I began, but he still wouldn't look at me. I decided to continue anyway. "I know you must be feeling guilty about this, and I understand that, but... this doesn't make me want to be with you any less." I tried, desperately, to convey my longing for him. He was the only thing that I had now, he was the only thing I needed now. If this ended our relationship, I would hunt down Tora and his gang of thugs myself.

 

He finally looked back at me, but tears had sprung to his eyes. When they fell, I wiped them away. He leaned his forehead against mine and gave me a soft kiss, lingering over my lips for a moment.

 

"I'm sorry," He began, his lower lip trembling lightly. My heart ached upon seeing him like this, so I reached out my hand and pulled him in for another kiss, a firm one, as if to show him that there was nothing to forgive.

 

"You saved my life Aki," I began once we had pulled away from one another. "You have nothing to apologise for."

 

-o-o-

 

Once Akira was cleaned and stitched up, we were brought into another more comfortable room. It reminded me of Mr Duke, the school principle's office, with it's big mahogany desk and large bookshelves taking up most of the room. Akira was holding my hand, still looking forlorn, when the doctor arrived with some paperwork we needed to fill out. He looked to be in a good humour as he sat across from us, smiling brightly.

 

"Now," He began, sifting through the papers he had brought with him. He handed one to Akira and one to me. We were made sign them, as proof that we had been to the hospital and had our wounds checked and cleaned up. Once finished, he gathered everything together and put it to one side, clasping his hands together on the desk and eyeing us both.

 

"Do you want to tell me what happened?" The doctor finally asked us, and neither Akira nor I dared to speak. What difference would it make anyway? It's not like anything would be done to fight these sort of crimes in a city like this. We were just two very small fish in a rather large pond, after all.

 

When it was clear that neither of us would say anything, the doctor gave a sigh and pinched the bridge of his nose in exasperation. "You boys do realize I am obligated to get a statement if I feel that these injuries are suspicious. It doesn't take a rocket science to see that what happened to you today was no accident."

 

I chewed my lip nervously and glanced over to Akira. He had his eyes glued to the window, determined to ignore any questions that were shot our way. I decided to speak up.

 

"W-Well, these guys..." I began, but if I was being honest, I didn't really know what I was going to say. "We... We were mugged." I finally said, flatly.

 

"Okay." He said with a raised eyebrow. "Listen, I'm going to tell you something that happened to me a while back." He began, fiddling with a pen on his desk. "My son is gay."

 

He had peaked my interest by now, and I saw Akira glance over to him too. We decided to be quiet and listen. "One night he came home looking a little worse for wear, a little beat up, y'know?" I gave a short nod here, and the doctor quickly continued. "When I examined him closer, I noticed his arm was broken. At first, he was too scared to tell me what had happened, but when I assured him that this problem would be taking care of, he told me everything."

 

Akira was now shifting in his chair nervously before he spoke. "Are you Takeru's dad?" He asked, and I looked surprised for a moment before it hit me. So that's how Akira knew Takeru. He had been the kid who had been beaten up by Tora last year, and this doctor we spoke to now was his father. I started to think that maybe this city wasn't such a big pond after all.

 

The man in front of us gave a nod and continued. "A police investigation went underway and we discovered that there is a whole gang, right here in the city, that has set their sights on homosexual people. The call themselves Cure. They like to think their violence can 'Cure' people."

 

I glanced over at Akira again and he returned my gaze, looking slightly anxious. The doctor leaned forward and looked me in the eye. "You have to report this. They wont stop until you make it known that you are not afraid of them."

 

I gave a short nod. The doctor was right. "Okay." I voiced, and Akira looked at me, surprised this time. "I'm ready to give my statement."

 

And so I told him everything. About how they ambushed me outside my apartment, about how I had found a note they had left me and about the fear that I felt at the idea of having to return to my home. He made sure to jot everything down on a sheet of paper and when I was done with my part of the story, Akira continued with his, about how he was worried about how late I was and decided to come check on me. He told him about how he had grabbed one of the guys with Tora and punched his face so many times that he was sure he had broken his nose.

 

When we were finished, we were thanked for our information and allowed to leave. Once outside the hospital, Akira took my hand and kissed my knuckles lightly before he walked me to his car.

Chapter Text

The next morning I woke up again, in Akira's bed. We had decided that it would be better for me to stay with him for a couple of days so that if anything did happen, at least I'd be with him. Today was Monday, and unfortunately the worst news that I had received from the doctor yesterday was that I was still able for school. Akira was still suspended, he wouldn't be back until Wednesday, but even so he woke up early with me so that I had a lift into the school.

 

Once we were dressed, Akira made me and Kouyou his blueberry pancakes, and we all munched in comfortable silence. That was until Kouyou spoke up, his voice almost angry.

 

"So how long will you be staying?" He asked me, and I glanced at Akira, unsure of what to say. Honestly, if it were up to me, I would have returned to my own apartment right away, but Akira had insisted that I stay with him.

 

"As long as he needs." Akira replied for me, and I was grateful that I could stay silent in what seemed to be Kouyou's protests. I didn't understand why he was suddenly so cold towards me again, but since we had told him that I would be staying for awhile, he had spent most of his time in his room, not bothering to come out unless he was hungry or needed the bathroom. Akira tried to tell me Kouyou was studying, but I knew he was lying.

 

Kouyou suddenly rose from his chair and retreated to his room, slamming the door behind him. I glanced at Akira, worried that my presence made him too uncomfortable, but he gave me a smile and leaned over to kiss my nose. "Don't worry about him. He'll lighten up after a couple of days."

 

When it was time for us to leave for school, I sat in the front of Akira's jeep with him, and Kouyou got the backseat, something I'm not quite sure he liked. As we drove, the only sound that filled the car was Akira's god awful singing. He tried his best to sing along with the radio, but I felt myself laugh nonetheless.

 

And then another thought entered my head. I had completely forgotten about the buddy system. I was going to be assigned a new partner today. Something akin to a mixture of excitement and nervousness built up inside me, but ultimately, I was worried. What if this new person was a member of Cure?

 

When we reached the school, Akira gave me a kiss and told me and Kouyou that he would be back at the end of the day to pick us up. He drove away again and Kouyou wasted no time, walking off to get to his first class.

 

I waited outside Mr Duke's office instead of going to my first class. If I was to be assigned a new buddy, there was no point walking all the way across the whole school only to have to come back five minutes later. When the door for his office opened, he seemed surprised to see me, until he broke into a wide smile and took my hand in his, shaking it roughly. His meaty palms were sweaty, and it took all of my strength not to gag.

 

"Takanori! Good to see you. I was just about to get them to call you from the intercom." He said, pausing to wipe a handkerchief over his brow. "Please step into my office for a moment. Your new buddy is already here."

 

I was a bit taken aback. It was early enough, and I'd expected to be waiting for at least another ten minutes before this other person showed up. We were just about to step into his office when Mr Duke finally noticed my arm in the sling. He gave a deep frown and examined me for a moment, looking me up and down.

 

"Bit of trouble over the weekend?" He asked, and I froze, surprised that he even cared. He had seemed like such an old sour man the last time that I had spoken to him that it shocked me to see even the slightest bit of concern on his face. Even so, it was none of his business what happened to me outside of school hours, so I quickly told him that I had fallen down the staircase in my apartment building and dislocated my shoulder. I wasn't sure if he bought it or not, because the only reply I got from him was a "Hmm." as he scanned the cut on my forehead. After a moment, we continued into his office.

 

When I entered, the smell of polished wood and coffee hit me lick a brick wall. There was another male slumped into one of the chairs and all I could make out from the back of his head was that he had hair down passed his shoulders and it was bleached blonde with pink ends.

 

Hold on.

 

"Takanori, this is your new buddy, Takeru!" Takeru turned to look at me before smiling widely and raising to his feet. I felt a huge sense of relief overwhelm me and suddenly tears sprang to my eyes. I had to use all my self control not to cry with joy. Joy because I knew I'd be safe with him.

 

"Nori!" He ran over and gave me a light hug, careful not to upset my arm. Mr Duke looked surprised from where he stood next to us. "I take it you too have met?" He asked, again wiping the handkerchief over his forehead. Takeru gave an energetic nod. "Don't worry! I'll make sure to show him just how great the school is, boss!"

 

Mr Duke nodded his approval and we both left again. Once outside the office, Takeru laid his hand on my shoulder, his eyes big and bright. "How're you feeling?" He asked me as we walked. Mr Duke had explained that Takeru had been picked as my buddy because our timetables were the same. I later found out that Takeru had been placed on the buddy list because of what had happened to him last year, almost like they were apologizing to him, he had told me.

 

"I'm feeling better." I moved my arm a little but a sharp pain made me whimper. Takeru laughed and told me not to strain myself. "My dad told me about yesterday," He began after a moment of silence. I looked up at him again and he was smiling fondly down at the ground. "Something like this happened to me not that long ago. Cure... they're monsters."

 

It took me a moment to identify the emotion in his voice. It wasn't quite anger, or sadness. It was loathing. The happy energetic Takeru that I had encountered was, for that moment, gone.

 

"Y'know, I used to play tennis." He began after a moment and our steps stalled. I could already tell where this was going. "I was really good too. Told I had a lot of merit. I would have gotten a sports scholarship and everything... Enter Cure. Now I can't play anymore."

 

I laid my hand on his shoulder and he was brought out of his angry thoughts. "We're going to take them down, Takeru." I began, not exactly sure how I was going to actually do that. "People like us don't deserve this."

 

He seemed to marvel at my words, so I continued. "When you think about it, they're the ones we need to feel sorry for... I wonder what must have happened to them to turn out the way they are." By now we were walking again, strolling casually towards our class, and Takeru seemed lost in thought. "I've never looked at it that way. I've always hated them for what they did, but you... pity them?" I gave a short nod in reply to his question, and he mirrored me.

 

We had reached our destination. I sat in silence once the teacher had taken my name for register and watched as Takeru scribble notes down for class. During the next forty minutes, the only thing running through my head was thoughts on how this would all get resolved. I had promised Takeru that Cure would be taken down, but I wasn't sure if I would be able to keep that promise.

 

-o-o-

 

The bell rang after my second class, and me and Takeru made our way to the cafeteria for lunch. Uke and Yuu were sitting at the usual table when me and Takeru joined them, but Kouyou was nowhere to be found. When I asked where he was the others shrugged amongst themselves.

 

"Went home sick. Akira came to pick him up. Told us to tell you he misses you~~" Yuu cooed, and my face flushed deeply. That idiot! Why was he always embarrassing me? Takeru giggled next to me. "Y'know, I was there the first day you arrived," He began, adjusting the black beanie that sat on his head. "When you thought he was the teacher, that was funny!"

 

I couldn't believe I had to relive this story again, and just as I was about to defend myself, Uke spoke up. "Y'know, you two have gotten very close in such a short amount of time. A bit too close." His tone was teasing and he winked at me as the others laughed. I didn't know what to say. It was true that me and Akira had become very close very fast, and if I was being honest with myself, it kind of scared me. In a wonderfully unexplainable way, of course. I had never met someone like him before, and I didn't want to meet anyone else after him either. I wanted it to be just him, forever.

 

"So, when's the wedding?" Takeru asked, and the other's burst out laughing at the incredulous look on my face.

 

"C'mon guys! Don't say stuff like that," a voice suddenly said from behind us and we all turned to see a tall, brown haired male standing over us with another much smaller guy standing next to him, his face in bandages as if his nose had been broken. They looked familiar to me, but I couldn't quite place them.

 

"Especially since we don't know if little Taka here will even make it to his wedding." The smaller of the two said with what looked like a sneer, and I felt my blood go cold.

 

Takeru suddenly stood from his position, but the others laughed at him. He was at least a head shorter than the rest of them and I knew he wouldn't be able to take them by himself. I didn't know if me standing up would be enough to make them go away, but I did it anyway. I wasn't about to let my friend face them on his own.

 

"Wow, standing up to us already? That's bold, seeing as you're one arm short," The taller one said as he glanced down at my arm in the sling, and his companion laughed. I heard two chairs screech behind me and suddenly Yuu and Uke were standing in front of Takeru and myself, protecting us. With Yuu's height now towering over them, they backed away. I think they were beginning to realize that they were out numbered.

 

"This isn't over," The brown haired one mumbled, his sneer turning to disgust. "Eventually we will get you when you're alone. Eventually." He jabbed his finger in my direction before spinning around and walking off. Just before he was out of sight, I decided that I needed to say something, to show them that I wasn't scared.

 

"Enjoy Cure while you can." I shouted after them, and his steps stalled before continuing, a lot faster than before.

 

Yuu looked at me, impressed before shaking his head in dismay. "Comments like that will only make them more angry. They'll come after you faster now." He told me, and I just glanced up at him with a nod.

 

"Let them come."

 

-o-o-

 

When school was done, I rushed outside to see Akira pulling up in his jeep. I quickly climbed into the front after bidding farewell to Uke, Yuu and Takeru, and we set off. I told Akira what had happened at lunch, and how proud I was for standing up for myself, but no matter how enthusiastic I was, Akira just frowned deeply, his eyes glued to the road.

 

"Akira?" I asked after a couple of moments of silence, and he cleared his throat. "What did they look like?" He asked me, and I described them as best I could. I told him how the one who had threatened me was a bit shorter than Yuu, and that he had short brown hair. He was pale with an angular jaw, while his nose was a little larger compared to his smaller friend, who had bleached blonde hair running just passed his ears, and he was a lot more baby-faced than the other one. I made sure to tell him that his nose was broken too.

 

"Saga and Hiroto." Akira confirmed and I hummed as a reply. "Saga is Tora's right hand man. If Tora ever gets put away for assault, or if anything happens to him, Saga takes over Cure." I noticed that Akira was gripping the steering wheel tightly, his bruised knuckles jutting out with the force. "I've heard he doesn't like to get his hands dirty though. Never does any of the beatings himself."

 

"Were they with Tora? Yesterday, I mean." I asked, remembering how familiar they had looked to me. Akira nodded, his lips in a tight line. So it was them who had accompanied Tora yesterday. That explained Hiroto's broken nose. I could still hear their laughs in my head, suddenly remembering the pain I had felt when the bat had been brought down against my arm. A shiver ran up my spine at the memory and Akira looked over to me.

 

"You okay?" He asked and I gave a nod, not too sure how to reply. "Can we go somewhere?" I asked him. "Just us." I didn't want to go back and be stuck in Akira's apartment all day. Especially not with Kouyou sulking about the place.

 

That seemed to please him, because he nodded with a small smile tugging at his lips. He took my hand in his as he turned off the main road, following a much smaller dirt track that led down into a forest. I was about to ask him were we were going, but I thought better of it. I knew he liked to surprise me, and by the way he was grinning, I must have been in for a real treat.

 

We drove for another couple of minutes before Akira pulled up near a lake. It was gorgeous, with the bright blue sky reflected on the still waters so perfectly that it looked like there were two. A small dock reached out into the water, and the only sound I could hear was the lapping of the waves against the dirt shore.

 

Akira shut off the engine and sat for a moment, looking out over the water. He looked like he was in deep thought, and I just watched him for a moment, with a small warmth glowing inside me. I knew what this feeling was.

 

"Is the peer safe?" I asked, and when he nodded, I turned to get out of the car. Upon hearing my door open, he quickly followed me, looking confused. I made my way down the peer until I reached the end. Taking off my shoes and rolling up the ends of my pants - as best I could with one hand - I brought myself down to sit on the edge of the wood, letting my feet sink into the water. Akira copied me, and we sat in silence for a moment, his arm around my waist and my head resting against his shoulder, our feet lightly swaying in the water.

 

"They're not going to stop." Akira mumbled after a while, and I looked up at him, worried. "They're never going to stop." He let his head fall back and gazed into the sky, as if searching for something. I thought for a moment before giving my reply.

 

"We just have to be strong, Aki. We can make it through this, I know we can." My voice didn't match my words, because if I was being honest, I didn't know if we would. I had tried to sound as convincing as I could, but I had just ended up sounding timid, frail. Afraid.

 

"What makes you so sure?" He asked, and I thought that maybe I had sounded a lot more confident than I had thought. Akira seemed to think so anyway. I only had one answer in my head, but I didn't know if I could say it. It scared me half to death, but something inside me, my gut, I guess, told me to go for it. Just say it. Reassure him.

 

"Because I love you."

 

Akira looked down at me, a mix of disbelief and happiness etching his features. He quirked an eyebrow, as if to say 'Really?', and I gave a determined nod.

 

"I love you too." Was his only reply, before he cupped my face, bringing me close to him and placing a soft, chaste kiss on my lips. I ran my hand along his hand as our kiss deepened, and for a moment, a euphoric feeling filled my head, making my heart soar.

 

When we pulled away from each other, Akira gave a wide smile and sighed a exultant breathe. I watched as he grinned shyly to himself. "What is it?" I asked him eventually and he shook his head almost dismissively. "Nothings it's just..."

 

I waited for a moment, before I noticed the blush dusting his cheeks. I poked at his side and he gave a short laugh, swatting me away before he surrendered. "You're the first person that has ever said that to me."

 

I couldn't believe the way my heart twisted with happiness. It was almost painful. I looked down at the water and thought to myself for a moment. So what if Akira and I had only known each other for a weekend? So what if I was already, sort of, living with him? When love happened, it happened. I couldn't help the way I felt, and right now, all I felt was love. Love for him, and only him. It was the only thing I had ever been sure of in my life. It felt like I suddenly knew what all those cheesy love songs were about, and, oddly enough, I now appreciated them better. Everything anyone had said about love being the most wonderful thing in the world, I was only now realizing, was true.

 

My mother had always said that the greatest lesson in life you learn, is how to love and be loved in return. I was starting to think that maybe, just maybe, she actually had a brain inside her head.

 

-o-o-

 

It was almost dark when we decided to leave. Akira started up the jeep and by the time we got back to the apartment complex, the streetlights were starting to flicker on. We were in the elevator when he turned to me, taking my uninjured hand in his and kissing each knuckle lightly.

 

"You're so beautiful," He suddenly mumbled, and my efforts did nothing to keep my blushing at bay. I think he noticed, because he let out a low chuckle before bringing me closer to him. "I promise, that I will always protect you." He mumbled against my ear, and I think a little part of me died. How Akira knew what to say at that precise moment to make me feel better, I'll never know. It was like he could read my mind. Like he could feel my heart beat in fear whenever I thought of Cure, and whenever he got the feeling I was uneasy, I knew he'd reassure me. I knew I'd be safe as long as I was with him.

 

I glanced up at him before getting on my tippy-toes, placing a soft kiss on his lips, before pulling away again. I didn't know what to say to him, so I decided to lighten the mood.

 

"And I promise to always tell you if something you wear looks bad on you." I mumbled in an attempt of a joke. Akira burst out laughing, a lot louder than I had expected, before kissing my cheek lightly.

 

"God, I love you," He sighed once the laughter died down, and I felt myself smile with joy. If this wasn't heaven, I don't know what was.

 

When we got into the apartment safely, Kouyou was sitting in the front room, eating what looked like lasagna, but could have just been random scraps, and watching something boring about the planet on TV. Akira went to the kitchen and after looking through the cupboards to find something to eat, he huffed and told me he needed to go to the store.

 

"You can stay here," He told me, and just as I was about to protest, he took my hand. "I don't want you getting hurt. I'm sure they know where I shop."

 

I knew what he meant by 'they', and I quickly nodded, agreeing with his logic. And then he continued in a hushed voice, barely audible over the TV. "Try to talk to Kouyou a bit, yeah? He might like you better once he gets to know you~"

 

He gave me a quick kiss on the cheek and grabbed his keys, heading out again. After the door had shut, I glanced over at Kouyou who was munching away on his dinner, his eyes glued to the screen. I decided to take Akira's advice, and slumped down into the couch next to him.

 

A lengthily silence weighed down on us before I finally decided that I was sick of his cold shoulder. I grabbed the remote and shut the TV off, suddenly regretting that decision when I was met with his angry glare. "And what is it you think you're doing?!" He suddenly asked me in a raised voice, and even though I was scared half to death, I decided to stand up for myself.

 

"I'm sick of you ignoring me! Now tell me what your problem is so that we can get past it, because whether you like it or not, I'm with Akira now, so you'll be seeing a lot of me!" I was surprised at my own words, taking a moment to marvel at how strong I sounded. If I had ever spoken to my parents like this, I would have been locked in my room for days. Kouyou didn't seem to find it cool though, because he suddenly gave a venomous laugh.

 

"And you think that if I just tell you my problem, we'll talk it out and it'll be all flowers and rainbows?!" I wasn't sure if he was expecting an answer, but I decided it would best to not say anything else.

 

I looked away from him and after a long pause, I felt his hand on mine. I quickly glanced back at him in surprise before he spoke up again. "Y'know, there are other ways we can release this tension,"

 

His eyes had suddenly gone hooded and all I could do was blink at him in disbelief. Was he serious? I suddenly remembered how I had originally gone for Kouyou when I had first been introduced to this small circle of friends, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't tempted, but I loved Akira, and that thought alone was enough to make me pull my hand away from his. "Let go of me!" I huffed, before I felt his strong hand grab my chin and pull me into a heated kiss. I could already feel him climbing on top of me, and I was so surprised that I couldn't move.

 

"What are you doing?" I tried to yell, but he was already shushing me, his lips on my neck as he forced me back against the couch. When he was straddling my hips, he removed his shirt. A cold shock of dread suddenly filled me. What if Akira came home right now? I desperately tried to push Kouyou off with my good hand, but I think this only angered him.

 

"Why can't you just accept that this is going to happen?! I saw the way you looked at me when we first met! I'm not stupid, y'know!" He yelled, and I felt myself beginning to shake. I had to get away from this situation right now, but Kouyou was so much stronger than me, even if my arm hadn't been in the sling. I tried to beg him to stop, and when he realized I wasn't going to be quiet, he looked me straight in the eye, his brows dipped in anger. It was only then that I realized there were tears threatening to spill.

 

"Why? Why should I stop?! You seemed to be okay with jumping into bed with Akira only hours after you met him, so why not me?!" By now the tears were spilling, and I couldn't help the way my heart stung with pity. Why was he doing this?

 

"Stupid Akira... This is all his fault. Akira..." He continued, bringing his head down to rest against my chest. For some reason, my hand reached out and stroked the back of his hair. Maybe it was because I had suddenly realized what was going on.

 

"You love him, don't you?" I asked after a moment. The only reply I got were Kouyou's shaking sobs and a very slight nod of his head. So Kouyou loved Akira. The thought somehow clicked with me. No wonder he was treating me the way he was; It must been hard now that I was staying with them as well.

 

"Kouyou I'm sorry... If only I had known," I tried to comfort him, but he quickly cut me off.

 

"You would have what? Broken it off with him?" He was trying desperately to control his sobs, but I could tell it was in vain. "I see the way he looks at you, Taka. Ever since the first moment he laid eyes on you he's loved you."

 

I was a little guilty when a small bubble of happiness raised up inside me. Of course I would be happy hearing something like that, but that bubble quickly burst when I felt Kouyou sniffle in an attempt to control himself. What was I going to do?

 

With Kouyou suffering in silence, and Cure at our door, I was starting to wonder if Akira and I were ever going to have a happy day together.

 

-o-o-

 

When I had calmed Kouyou down a little, we decided to sit down and do exactly what I had suggested in the beginning; talk this whole problem out. I quickly learned that Kouyou and Akira had been friends since they were kids, and that they had slept together once, years ago. Kouyou told me about how Akira was the only person he has ever trusted, because Akira had once talked Tora and the rest of Cure out of attacking Kouyou when he first came out.

 

I was surprised, of course, and a little intimidated when I listened to how much history Akira and Kouyou had. He explained to me that when they had slept together, it was because Akira was depressed and had been drinking heavily about being gay and having to hide it. He said it was more of a friendly thing than anything else; a favor. But Kouyou had loved him ever since.

 

When he finished bringing me up to date, we sat in silence for a while. He looked like he was tired. Tired from hiding his true feelings for his best friend, and also a little relieved. I guess it must have been nice to get all this off his chest.

 

"What should we do?" I asked after a moment. If I was being honest, leaving Akira wasn't an option for me, but seeing Kouyou like this couldn't happen again. He had suffered so long by himself, watching Akira fall in and out of relationships. Watching and waiting hopefully for his turn. But now he wasn't sure if he was ever going to get it.

 

"Continue," He mumbled to me, and I was about to protest. How could I possible continue with Akira now that I knew? I think Kouyou read my mind, because he raised a hand to silence me. "I'll give you a month," He continued, and I was confused. "If I get him to love me by the end of the month, you must walk away. If not, I'll walk away."

 

I thought for a moment about his offer. It seemed fair, but it also made me feel nauseous. Given how long Akira and Kouyou had known each other, the odds didn't seem to be in my favor. Nevertheless, I couldn't exactly deny Kouyou his one request. I gave a short nod, and a feeling of friendly camaraderie suddenly filled the room. I knew that me and Kouyou had found a compromise (no matter how weird the conditions were) and it wouldn't be hard to be around each other anymore. The thought made me happy.

 

"You're on." I said with a small smile as we bumped fists.

Chapter Text

On Wednesday, it was time for Akira to come back to school. As we rode in his jeep, I couldn't help but notice how happy he was looking. He must have been excited that we were finally going to be able to spend more time than we already did together. Kouyou sat behind us in silence, as usual.

 

Whenever Kouyou and I were around each other, I couldn't help but remember what we had talked about. I wondered if he had made any progress with Akira, and the thought made me feel weak. My only solace was that our conversation had only been two days ago, and I was sure that Kouyou was the type of person to plan carefully before executing a plan. He wouldn't rush things.

 

Things had gotten a lot better at the apartment too. Kouyou and I were able to actually be in the same room now. Akira kept asking me what had happened between us, but I would only smile and tell him that it was 'between us girls', and that we had sorter our differences out. I didn't think it would be fair to spill the beans on Kouyou.

 

Akira had been making me breakfast every morning, and as I thought about the blueberry pancakes I had gotten today, I decided that it would be nice to return the favor. That's it! Tomorrow I would wake up super early and prepare him something. I smiled away to myself at my plan when we pulled up, ready to begin another day of education and learning - or so the school advertised~

 

Takeru was already waiting outside the school and when he saw me, he raised his arm over his head, giving a big wave. I smiled before Akira kissed my cheek, taking my hand as we walked to the door. I did feel worried... Saga and Hiroto did go to this school, and it was Akira's first day back. Sure, yesterday had gone by without incident, but today was different. Every day was different. I could feel it in my gut.

 

"Nori~ ready for school? You look super tired!" Takeru commented, and I couldn't help but raise my hand to my cheek, trying to rub the sleepiness away. Takeru gave a short laugh before walking behind me and nudging me forward, careful not to upset my injured arm. "Time to go! Time to go! The bell's about to ring!" He almost sang, and I looked back at Akira worriedly. Takeru sure was full of energy, even in the morning! Akira gave a laugh and left with Kouyou to go to their first class.

 

My first class was Home Economics. It was my first time attending and I had to say that I wasn't too excited to go. Two hours of cooking and learning about foods... I hadn't picked it for my timetable, but all the other classes at the same time were full. I knew Akira and Kouyou had Metalwork around this time, and I envied them. At least I'd get to see him at lunch, and maybe with some nice treats too, if my Home Economics went well!

 

Takeru and I entered the classroom and were met by an cheery looking elderly woman. She gave Takeru a bright smile as she approached us. She wore a flowery apron and her hair was tied up in a messy bun. She smelled of freshly baked treats and I felt myself immediately take a liking to her.

 

"And who is this you've brought me, Takeru?" She asked, he voice soft as she eyed me. "Matsumoto Takanori, Nori for short! He's a new student," Takeru quickly replied and my face flushed. He didn't have to tell her his weird nickname for me! What if it stuck?! I'd be a laughing stock! I was about to protest when she turned to me again and laughed lightly. "Well it's very nice to meet you, Takanori."

 

I sighed a breath of relief. Crisis averted! I gave her a small smile and a quick bow. "It's nice to meet you,"

 

I quickly mumbled and she gave a laugh again. "My, my! What manners! Let's hope your cooking is as good as your etiquette,"

 

Shit.

 

She was about to be sorely disappointed.

 

-o-o-

 

An hour into the class, Takeru's cookies were coming out a lot better than mine. He did look funny though, with flour smeared across his cheek and a look of deep concentration on his face, as if he was trying to disarm a bomb. I looked around at everyone else's cookies and noticed some girls giggling between themselves as they frosted their creations.

 

I couldn't help but feel lost. Mine looked... a little less desirable, but I hoped Akira would like them anyway! Thinking about Akira's face when he saw my cookies made me realise something... I needed help. I knew it was a risk and all, but I decided to go talk to the girls that were giggling to themselves a few desks away.

 

I told Takeru I'd be back in a minute, but I don't think he was listening. He was too busy making sure all his sprinkles were in the right place. Hesitantly, I left my desk and walked over to them. They looked normal enough. The girl frosting the cookies was the tallest, with brown hair tied back into a ponytail, and a full fringe and bangs framing her face. There was another blonde one to her side, giggling brightly with frosting on her cheek, and the girl next to her was the shortest, with jet black hair cut in a straight line at her shoulders. She seemed to be the more serious out of the three, refusing to mess around with them, but still sitting close enough to be part of their group. I paused for a moment, feeling a little intimidated. Could girls be in Cure?

 

I needed to stop worrying. Of course they weren't. Cure was too violent for girls, right?

 

With that thought in mind, I approached them. "Um, excuse me?" I made an effort to make myself known and the blonde one looked up in question, closely followed by the brown haired one. "Can you help me?" I asked, a deep blush setting over my cheeks. They suddenly smiled and giggled to each other, and I started to get the feeling they were making fun of me.

 

"Wow, you're cute!" The blonde one said, coming around her desk to stand in front of me. He eyes were the clearest blue, and she stared at me brightly. "What happened to your arm?" He suddenly asked, eyeing the sling with curiosity. I stuttered, trying to come up with a reply, when her friend spoke up. "Katherine, you're scaring him!" She said in a juvenile voice, which was both stern and playful.

 

"Sorry, Linda!" She gave a short mock bow before returning to her friends side. I stared for a moment, thinking that this was a bad idea. "Don't mind Katherine, she's just overly curious about everything," Linda apologized to me in the most sincere way her cheery voice could muster, and I smiled in return. "My name's Linda, and this is Nancy." She quickly gestured to the black haired one, who only glanced in my direction before getting back to the book she was reading. "How can we help you?"

 

I took a moment to note their names before I continued. "My cookies are no good... Do you think that you guys could help me make them at least a little better looking?"

 

Linda and Katherine glanced at each other before nodding. "Sure thing! Sounds like a job for us!" They quickly came out from behind their desks and followed me to my own, where my cookies had been left, half burnt on the outside, yet somehow still undercooked in the middle. Takeru seemed a bit surprised by the sudden ruckus, but quickly went back to his own work. Katherine made a small sound of disgust, before commenting that they looked like something you'd fish out of a polluted river.

 

"Don't be mean," Linda scolded, and quickly turned to me with a smile. "A little frosting is all it needs, don't worry!"

 

For the next half an hour I listened, trying to memorize the instructions that Linda gave me. She told me that the oven had been set too low, and then turned up to high. I needed to have it at a constant temperature, apparently. When we were done, Katherine dusted some sprinkles on it with a small 'yay!' to herself.

 

I couldn't help but notice how much better they looked. Sure, they still looked horrific, but at least now they looked edible. By the end of the class, Linda was packing them into a small container for me, and she sighed, rubbing the back of her hand over her forehead.

 

"So have you thought about who to give them too?" She asked with a smile as she turned to me. So far, I had been sitting in my chair, twiddling my thumbs and trying to look interested. Sure, I know I should have been paying attention, but it's not like I enjoyed cooking. But now Linda had grabbed my attention, and she was staring at me expectantly. What if I wanted to eat my own cookies?

 

Wait. That sounded weird.

 

When I didn't give an answer, she gave a short girlish laugh. "All the Home Ec students do it! Nothing to be embarrassed about!" I raised my hand to my cheek and realised I was blushing. Stupid Akira... even when he wasn't here he embarrassed me!

 

"Um... I'll probably just share them with my friends." I quickly said with a smile. She nodded and laid her hand on my uninjured shoulder. "Well, I hope they enjoy them, and if you ever need anymore help don't be afraid to ask." She said, poking my nose lightly. "Bye bye!" And with that she turned away, Katherine following behind her, until they reached their desk.

 

-o-o-

 

Once the bell rang, it was time for lunch. I slung my bag over my shoulder and retrieved my small container of cookies. They looked so rubbish, but I tried not to think about that. Hopefully Akira would at least pretend to like them.

 

Takeru and I joined the others at our usual table, and Akira and I sat together. The other's - Uke, Yuu and Kouyou - seemed oddly excited to see us, and it was only when Yuu spoke up that I realised why.

 

"How was Home Ec?" He asked with a grin, and Takeru set down the small container on the table, smiling away to himself. "Help yourselves, animals!" He replied, sticking his tongue out. Almost immediately, everyone's hands went for the cookies, and I couldn't help but feel confused.

 

"Takeru's the best cook in the school." Akira told me. "Whenever Home Ec bakes something, these guys get really excited." I noticed the small smile at the edge of his lips, and couldn't help but find this situation funny. The others really were, like Takeru said, a pack of animals.

 

Meanwhile, I sat with my own container on my lap, my hand draped over it in an effort to hide my 'Frakensteins'. My efforts, however, would soon turn out to be in vain.

 

"Hey, don't you do Home Ec as well?" Akira said, a sudden sparkle in his eye.

 

Well shit.

 

I set down my cookies on the table and slowly opened the lid. Akira's lips pulled into a tight smile before he forced a smile and draped his arm around my shoulder. "Well, they look tasty..." His voice sounded less than enthusiastic. "Mind if I try one?" He asked, and I didn't know what to say. I felt like I should have warned him that they tasted like crap, but I stayed silent. He reached in to get one, but a sudden shy voice spoke from behind us.

 

"E-Excuse me? Mister Suzuki?"

 

We all turned to see a small, blonde girl holding a tub with shaky hand, her eyes glued to the ground. Akira was the most curious out of all of us, as she had called his name, and suddenly he smiled with a small laugh. "What can I do for you, misses?" He asked, and the girl raised her head, her cheeks dusted a deep shade of red.

 

Holy shit. It was Katherine. One of the three girls that had helped me during Home Ec.

 

Her bubbly personality from earlier was completely gone. She was standing in front of us now, looking vulnerable and absolutely terrified. If I looked close enough, I could even see her hands shaking. I didn't want to make her any more nervous than she already seemed to be, so I stayed quiet, only offering a small smile when her eyes glanced in my direction.

 

"I-I was wondering," She began, raising the small container in her hands. "...if you wanted to try some of my cookies?"

 

Akira seemed surprised, and I glanced over at him nervously. Was she seriously crushing on Akira? One of the biggest gays in the school...? Or maybe she didn't know...

 

I heard my boyfriend laugh next to me. Not a mocking laugh but more of an embarrassed one, as if he didn't know what to say. When she realized that she had made him uncomfortable, she shoved the cookies into his hands and turned on her heel, rushing away without another word. Akira turned to me with a surprised look before bursting out with laughter.

 

"Still a hit with the ladies~~" He mumbled to himself, and I didn't know whether to be jealous or amused. I guess I ended up feeling a bit of both, and Akira must have noticed too, because he leaned over and kissed my cheek lightly.

 

"I love that you're jealous." He whispered to me after everyone else had continued conversing amongst themselves. I felt my cheeks flare. "Don't flatter yourself!" I quickly retaliated, sticking my nose up and away from him. I heard his laugh as he drew my face back to him, planting a soft but needing kiss on my lips. I wasn't sure if it was me or not, but I felt something from Akira as we kissed. An emotion that I couldn't identify but I know I had felt from him before.

 

"Bathroom, five minutes." He said breathlessly against my lips, and I couldn't help stare at him for a moment.

 

"A-Aki! We're at school!" I tried to protest, but he stared at me, his eyes dark with what I suddenly identified as arousal. A chill ran down my spine and if I was being honest with myself, the idea of what Akira was suggesting was very exciting.

 

I quickly nodded and he wasted to time, getting up to make his way to the toilets. I waited patiently - as patiently as I could, with certain thoughts going through my mind - for a couple of minutes, before I felt like it was okay to get up and follow him.

 

I thought I was being subtle, but I heard a round of giggles behind me as I left, and somehow I knew that the others had noticed something weird.

 

-o-o-

 

When I entered the bathroom, Akira pulled me into a cubicle, quickly shutting it and locking it behind us. He crushed his lips against mine, backing me into the door slowly before his hands starting roaming. I moaned and suddenly I was being turned to face the door, Akira standing behind me, his hands already making their way up the tight black shirt I was wearing. He nibbled at my ear, giving it a soft lick before whispering to me.

 

"Best be quiet this time~" He gave a soft chuckle, his breath hot against my ear, and I felt my knees go weak. Akira's hands skimmed over my chest, his palms ghosting my nipples.

 

"A-Are you sure this is, ah, okay, Aki?" I asked, breathless, but I don't think he was listening. I felt him grind into my ass, his hardness already prominent. I balanced myself against the cubicle door, leaning my forehead against the sturdy wood along with my good hand. It didn't matter how much Akira wanted it, he was always careful of my sling, something that I really appreciated.

 

Suddenly, I thought about people in the other cubicles, and if they knew what was going on in here. The thought scared me, and surprisingly, sent a shot of arousal straight to my crotch. I knew I shouldn't be turned on by the thought of people catching us, but I couldn't help it. This whole situation was just so risky that I couldn't help get more excited.

 

Akira's hands moved to my belt, undoing it with haste and pulling the zip down. I couldn't believe this was happening in the school bathrooms, until it was made very real to me. Akira had pulled my arousal out of it's constraints and was now pumping me steadily, all the while pressing himself close to my back, grinding against me every now and again. When I felt the moan rising in my throat, I clasped my hand over my mouth.

 

"Good boy~" Akira praised me, and I felt myself flare. If I wasn't so turned on, I wouldn't have retaliated but I just swayed my hips, grinding back against him before pushing forward into his hand. The feeling was amazing, and I would have continued, if Akira's sudden groan hadn't pulled me out of my trance. I turned, with an idea, and when Akira saw me drop to my knees he looked surprised.

 

I undid his belt and zip quickly, before pulling his pants and boxers down just enough so that I got a good look at him. I suddenly froze, feeling nervous. I had never done this before and for all the confidence I had when I started out, I was now feeling a bit self conscious.

 

I tried to push the thought to the back of my mind as I reached up and took a hold of him, trying to mimic his movements only a moment ago. My hand ran against his heated arousal, slowly at first. When his head tipped back, I leaned in, licking the tip lightly before taking the head into my mouth. I could taste the precome that pearled against my tongue, and I couldn't help but lap it up.

 

Akira moaned above me and I realized him from my mouth. When he looked down at me, confused, I raised a finger to my lips to quiet him. All I got was a shaky nod before I continued.

 

I wrapped my lips around him again, trying to take more into my mouth. I must have only gotten about half way, before I pulled back with a light sucking motion. I think he enjoyed this, because he was now looking down at me, biting into the back of one of his hands as the other slipped into my hair with a firm grip. I tried to prepare myself as best I could when his hips started swaying, but I still felt tears spring to my eyes as I gagged lightly. I kept up as best I could, sucking and running my tongue along his heated skin whenever I could.

 

"Fuck, Taka, you're a natural," He mumbled against his hand, his head tipping back again. I didn't know whether to be embarrassed or flattered. I had never been a 'natural' at something before, but I guess cock sucking must be as good as any other skill~

 

Just when I was smiling around his arousal, he suddenly pulled out and raised me off my knees, pushing me over the toilet in bending position. I had to admit that I loved it when Akira got a bit rough; it always meant the sex would be good. He pulled my pants down to my knees, and lined himself up, having been slicked up enough from my activities.

 

When he pushed in, I had to do everything in my power not to cry out. He did it so fast and roughly that it was accompanied by a slight burn, something I'm not sure whether I liked or not. He immediately started, grinding his hips in a circular motion against me, his slick cock sliding in and out of me smoothly, pleasuring me in a way that I knew no one else would be able to. I had to bite into my hand when he took a hold of my hips and slammed into me. I was worried about the noise, but there were toilets flushing and hand dryers going off outside that made me feel safe enough.

 

"A-Aki~ harder~" I tried to beg. I needed him to slam against me like that again, as hard as he could. I was pleased when he understood, his hips connecting against mine, his cock finding that magic spot inside of me that made me go weak.

 

"Like that?" He asked, continuing his motions at a steady pace. I gave a nod, looking over my shoulder to see his eyes closed and his head tilted back. "Tell me how much you like it, Taka~" He whispered, barely audible over the background noise. I was too far gone at this stage to care about dignity, so I was more than happy to oblige.

 

"I love it~ Ah, fuck me hard like that, Aki~ Fuck me hard with that perfect cock," I had to bite into my lip at my own words. I would have screamed for him, if I had been allowed to, but even so, I couldn't help but notice how vulgar I was being. Akira must have known that once I reached a certain point, I would beg for him.

 

His thrust quickened and he was drilling me, his hips snapping against mine again and again, perfectly. It wasn't until he reached around and grabbed my arousal that I felt my orgasm building up, almost ready to peak. Just when I felt I couldn't take anymore Akira pulled me up and moved me against the door, wall fucking me to the point where I was beginning to see stars. I could hardly stand at this point, but Akira continued anyway, his hands against the door at either side of my body as he thrust up into me.

 

And then he took my arousal again, pumping it quickly. The knot in my stomach broke, and I was coming against his hand. My knees jerked, and he wrapped his arm around my waist keeping me up before I collapsed completely.

 

It was only a few more thrusts before I felt him coming inside me. There must have been a lot, because it was leaking down onto my thighs before he pulled out. We crumpled onto the ground, out of breathe and totally spent. I would have loved nothing more than to have gone to sleep right then and there, but I heard Akira laugh. I looked over to him and couldn't help but join in.

 

"I can't believe we did that," I mumbled, retrieving some tissue so that I could clean myself off. I handed some to Akira and he smiled shyly, a small dust of crimson across his nose.

 

"Me neither. I've never had sex during school... Wow..." I watched him for a moment, before giggling. I told him how exciting it was to break the rules, and how we should do it more often. Or course I was only teasing him, but watching him get excited about all these places that he wanted to fuck me at was funny too. Too bad he didn't know it was never going to happen~

 

-o-o-

 

When we were done with lunch, and other things, the bell rang and it was time for class. Akira had ended up giving Katherine's cookies to Uke and Yuu. I had watched him nervously as he ate mine, but he reassured me, telling me they were delicious. He had called my 'rookie cookies'. I thought that was cute, until the rest of our small gang started calling me 'rookie'. They said it fit, because I was the new kid, and when I tried to protest, they just laughed.

 

-o-o-

 

The next week rolled on without incident, thankfully, and me and Akira had decided that it was time for me to go back to my own apartment. I was scared, of course, but at the same time it would be good for Akira and myself to get some space from each other. I had learnt a lot about him in the past week and a half that we had been living together, like the fact that he always, without fault, left the toilet seat up. On top of that, he always left his dirty dishes in the sink rather than quickly washing them and putting them away. I didn't know how Kouyou put up with him sometimes, because he was just so messy! But even with saying that, I still found it endearing. He really was like a kid.

 

Akira lugged my heavy bag of clothes to my apartment door, setting it down on the ground with a thud. "You sure about this?" He asked, trying to catch his breath. The elevator had been out of service, like it usually was, and I lived two floors below Akira. He was such a sweetheart for carrying my bag, not that he had a choice, with my arm in the sling and all, but I was thankful nonetheless.

 

I nodded my head, determined. It was time for me to stop mooching off of him. I had promised myself when I got disowned that I would make a new life for myself and that would never happen as long as I was tucked neatly under Akira's wing.

 

"Alright then, Princess." He said, picking up the bag again once I had unlocked the door. When I saw the inside of my apartment, I nearly died. Dust! Dust everywhere! Akira must have noticed my expression because he gave a hefty laugh from behind me before walking past where I stood and setting my bag down on the couch.

 

I ran in, first towards the sink and then towards the shitty little TV I had. "Akira!" I called out in my childish distress. He had to sit down because we was laughing at me so much. "It's just a little dust, rookie, calm down."

 

I suddenly felt annoyed, and I whirled around to him, angry now. "It's filthy in here! And stop calling me that!" I yelled, and almost immediately I felt apologetic, because his laughing ceased and he looked at me angrily.

 

"What's your problem?" He asked as he got up, and I stuttered, not sure of what to say. I think I just needed space, and Akira wasn't giving me that. I jabbed my finger at the door and stood my ground, unsure of why I was even getting so worked up.

 

"Get out!"

 

He looked at me with surprise, but I just froze. "Seriously?" He asked me, his voice low. I said nothing, my finger shaking as I kept it firmly in the direction of the door.

 

After he stormed out, I slumped into the couch, my good hand on my face. What was wrong with me? I had been so worked up these past couple of days and I knew it was wrong to take it out on him, but everywhere I went, he was just there! I needed space too, y'know. No matter how attached and in love we were, I needed me time, and I wasn't too sure Akira understood that.

 

-o-o-

 

I had decided to clean my worries away, and by the time I was finished the place was sparkling. Well, sparkling as much as it could be with the peeling wallpaper and shabby carpets. I slumped into the couch again and checked my phone. Nothing. No messages or missed calls.

 

Maybe I should call him and apologise? No. I was much too stubborn for that. But I knew he must be up in his apartment now, angry or upset. Probably both.

 

Well it served him right! He knew I hated that stupid nickname, and yet he kept calling me by it. It's almost like he was trying to annoy me! Even so, I chewed my lip in worry. What if Kouyou made his move today? What if Akira was so angry with me that he would go off with Kouyou? The thought made me feel sick and I suddenly realized something. I would much rather have him annoy me than not have him at all.

 

With that thought, I grabbed my phone with the intention of calling him. But something strange happened; The minute I picked it up, it rang. I jumped in surprise and dropped it. Landing with a thud on the ground, the vibrating phone slid under the couch before I even had to time to check who it was. I quickly got on my knees, careful of my injured arm, and dug my free hand under the couch.

 

By the time I retrieved it, the ringing had stopped and my screen flashed with a large 'missed call' notice across the top. When I went to check who it was, I choked.

 

My parents. Or to be more precise, my mother. Why was she calling me? Why now? I hadn't talked to her since I had been disowned; since she had so politely thrown my bags of clothes at me and slammed the door in my face. Why?

 

My hand was shaking, and before I had time to register what was happening, my phone began to vibrate violently in my hand again. I didn't know what to do. Should I answer it? Should I hang up? Should I just ignore it?

 

My hand suddenly of it's own, and I answered it.

 

"Takanori?"

 

The voice drifted in but I said nothing. I kept the phone away from my ear, just staring at it.

 

"Takanori? Answer me. It's rude to answer the phone and then say nothing, I'll have you know."

 

"What do you want?" I quickly replied, squeezing the phone by my ear, so hard that I was half worried of whether I might break it or not. She laughed, that stupid venomous laughter she did whenever I was being 'rude and insufferable', as she put it.

 


"My, my. I'm sure I didn't raise you to be so intolerable."

 

I couldn't believe this. I had actually fooled myself into answering the phone because I thought that maybe, maybe, she might have been calling to apologise. I felt like an idiot.

 


"Anyway, your father and I feel that it's time for you to knock this off and come home."

 

I froze. She couldn't possible be this stupid, could she? It was my turn to laugh at her, and I suddenly leaned back into my couch, amused. "No thanks." Was my simple reply, and she scoffed.

 


"I'm afraid it's not really a question, young man. You're coming home whether you like it or not."

 

My reply was a half laugh, half growl. If she thought that I was coming home, then she must have been delusional. On drugs, even.

 

"After the way you treated me? It's not happening." I couldn't keep the snarl out of my voice, and I was beginning to scare myself. I had had such a bad day. This was the last thing I needed.

 

She was suddenly angry. I could hear her grunt in irritation before she replied. "You listen here, you little-"

 

I hung up and shut off my phone, throwing it onto the small coffee table before curling up into a ball on the couch. I knew they would come for me, eventually. I suddenly wished Akira was here, so that maybe he could wrap his arms around me in the comforting way he always did. So that he could say something that would make me feel better. He always knew what to do... I missed him.

 

-o-o-

 

Later that day, I had to go to an appointment at the hospital. My arm needed a check up to determine whether I could ditch the sling or not. When Akira never showed up, I decided to get the bus. I sat on my own, watching as the buildings whirled by. It was beginning to get dark and I was worried about whether or not I was going to be late for the appointment.

 

The bus dropped me off a couple of blocks away from the hospital, and by the time I began walking, the streetlights had come on. I felt a flash of fear for a moment. This wasn't exactly ideal. If I was attacked now, I would definitely die. I could hardly defend myself before, never mind now, with one of my arms in a sling.

 

With that thought in mind, I quickened my pace, almost running when I saw the hospital lights come into view.

 

"Hey!"

 

I heard a voice behind me and broke into a sprint, cutting down a small alleyway. I paused for a moment when I felt my breath run short. I was so close to the hospital, yet it felt so far away at the same time. My hands were shaking, but I suddenly felt myself laugh. I felt like an idiot. Someone had shouted and I had run. What if I wasn't in any real danger at all?

 

"Oh my, it's my lucky day!"

 

I heard someone say behind me, and I felt the blood that had been pumping swiftly through my veins only moments ago freeze. I knew this voice because it haunted me. Every night.

 

"We haven't been properly acquainted," He began, in a deep bow when I turned to look at him. I couldn't stop myself from shaking. I couldn't help but go wide eyed. I couldn't help but curse myself for getting into this situation again.

 

"I'm Tora~ And what's your name?"

Chapter Text

 

-o-o-

 

"I'm Tora~ And what's your name?"

 

Fear quickly settled over my entire body and I felt myself shake. Dropping my bag, I rapidly turned in an effort to run in the direction that I had come, but froze.

 

Saga stood with a sneer, a crowbar held tightly in his hand. I didn't know what to do. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw another alley way that led directly to the hospital, but I would never be able to outrun both of them.

 

Time. Time felt like it stood still and eventually I could hear my own heart beat in my ears. I could feel the sweat drip down my face.

 

"Well, kitten, he asked you a question," Saga sneered from before me. I could hear his footsteps as he approached me slowly and I realized that I needed to act. Fast.

 

Turning to my side, I left my bag and belongings where they were and ran as fast as I could, sprinting down the only alley way that was free. I heard them laugh behind me and suddenly their footsteps were rushed as they chased me. The wind whirled past my ears and the only thing I could see were the blinding and streetlights streak past my vision, dazing me. I felt my foot catch in something and suddenly I was falling, skidding to a halt before I rolled and stopped with in aching pain in my leg. I tried to get up, but my only good arm was stinging now, and I looked down to see that my elbow was all grazed and bleeding.

 

Ignoring the pain, a surge of adrenaline helped me push myself back onto my feet and I ran again. I knew I was slowing down now, but the hospital was right there, a stones throw away from me!

 

A hand suddenly grabbed the back of my t-shirt and pulled me back into a hard chest. I cried out in frustration at being so close! I drew in a breathe to scream, but a large hand suddenly covered my mouth roughly, squeezing my face until my jaw began to ache.

 

"Wow~ So fast for such a shortie~"

 

I heard Tora's voice as he came into view and I realized that it was Saga who was restraining me. I bit into his hand, so hard that I eventually got the taste of blood in my mouth. He hissed and pulled away, and just as I was about to scream out for help, Tora raised a hand and punched me across the face. The jaw ached as my head snapped to one side and I felt the tears sting my eyes, eventually falling down my cheeks.

 

"Why?" I tried to ask, but my voice was shaking. Tora laughed at me and suddenly that familiar wooden bat came into view. The same one that had crippled me no more than two weeks ago.

 

"We're just, y'know, enjoying Cure while we can." Saga whispered against my ear and I felt a shiver run down my back.

 

"That, and for Akira's sake." Tora chimed in, stepping a bit closer to me. He grabbed my jaw and forced our eyes to meet. He was angry now, no longer playing around. I could smell mint off his breath, that's how close he was. "I don't know what you did to make him become... one of you," He said 'you' with so much distaste that I felt a drop of his saliva hit my cheek. I shook my head suddenly, angry now, and Tora raised an eyebrow. "Something to say?"

 

"He was always gay, Tora," I began, squirming slightly against Saga's grip. "You were just too stupid to see it!" Tora opened his mouth to retort, but I shot my leg out, kicking him between the legs as hard as I could. When he crumbled over, I withdrew my leg and brought my heel against Saga's shin. I was surprised when he let me go, but I didn't care. I started running again, across the road and through the gate. I was now on hospital grounds and I wanted to laugh with happiness. I slowed to a stop and turned around, but I couldn't see them anywhere. They must have ran off when they realized that they wouldn't be able to catch me again, and for that alone, I felt my face crack into a wide smile.

 

I must have looked crazy, standing outside the hospital, out of breath and laughing loudly, but I didn't care. I had gotten away from them, with nothing but a small scrape on my elbow. I dug my hand into my pocket, with the intention of calling Akira, but I realized I didn't have my phone. I must have left it at my apartment, on my coffee table after my mother had called me. There must be a phone inside, and with that thought in mind I ran through the automatic doors of the hospital.

 

-o-o-

 

"I'll be right there," Akira told me, but I could barely hear his quiet voice over the static of the phone. The doctor had said that my sling was ready to come off and as Akira spoke to me, I moved my shoulder around in a circular motion, stretching it. It still felt a little stiff, but I was told that too would fade with time.

 

"O-Okay." I stammered. Things were a little awkward over the phone, since me and Akira hadn't spoken since our fight, but I tried not to think about it too much. I just wanted to see him. Talking over the phone was something I never was very good at anyway.

 

When he hung up, I sat in the waiting room with my jacket over my lap when something dawned on me. I had dropped my bag in the alleyway where Tora had ambushed me. My bag, with my money, and the keys to my apartment. Maybe when Akira got here, we could go look for it, but something in my gut told me it wouldn't be there. I would be very surprised if Tora and Saga would leave something like that behind.

 

-o-o-

 

When Akira got to the hospital, I climbed into the passenger seat, doing up my seat belt before turning to him. He looked a little flushed, and I could tell it must have been because he had rushed to get down here. When I told him about Tora and Saga, he turned to me, wide eyed. I hadn't told him over the phone because I knew he would have freaked out, but now it seemed that it didn't matter where or how I told him. He was still angry.

 

"What?! Why didn't you ring me?!" He shouted, and I glared at him.

 

"Well, why haven't you rang me all day?" I shot back at him, and he choked for a minute, incredulous at my question.

 

"Well excuse the fuck out of me, I was under the impression that you needed space or some shit." He said, and suddenly he jammed his keys in the ignition and started up the car. Before I knew it, we were speeding down the main road, and I looked at him, surprised at how fast he was going.

 

"I did need space, but not the fucking cold shoulder either! You didn't even tell me you weren't coming to drop me off at the hospital!" I slammed my hand down on the dashboard and Akira glanced over to me. I thought for a moment that he might be feeling guilty, that was until he made a small 'tch' sound with his teeth, and the silence weighted down on us for a while.

 

Akira was driving fast, too fast, and it was starting to make me feel nervous. I would have told him to slow the fuck down, but I was too stubborn and angry to speak another word to him.

 

I didn't know how long it took me to notice, but when I looked down at my hands resting on my lap, I saw my fingers were shaking. I had to say something to him. The speed that we were going at was too much for me.

 

"A-Akira..." I began, and I noticed my voice was hoarse. He must not have heard me, because I got no reaction out of him at all. I tried to say his name again, but my words stuck in my throat. Was it just me or was it getting harder to breath?

 

I opened my mouth to inhale, but it was too difficult. Before I really knew what was happening, I was gasping, my hands trembling as I reached up to my neck. I could see out of the corner of my eye that Akira was giving me worried glances while trying to keep his eyes on the road. "Taka?" He called, reaching his hand over to me. I grabbed it, needing something to hold onto even if it was just for a moment.

 

Akira began to slow the car down but it was too late. I knew I was already having a panic attack. Maybe it was the fight with Akira, or everything that had happened today, but the pressure was getting to me. My chest felt constricted as my shaky hands tried to pull the seatbelt away from my body. I needed to get out of this car. I needed air. My fumbling hands reached for the small lever used to roll down the window, but it was no good, I couldn't quite grasp it.

 

Noticing my struggle, Akira pulled his hand out of my tight grasp and back onto the steering wheel. It was only a couple of minutes before he pulled the jeep to the side of the road and shut the ignition off. I expected him to turn to me, but instead he got out of the car and made his way around the front, almost tripping in his haste. He got around to the passenger door and yanked it open.

 

"O-Okay... okay," I heard him mumble, as if he was trying to calm himself down. His hands fumbled with my seat belt buckle before he finally freed me of the constraints. I pushed the belt to one side and turned to sit out of the side of the car.

 

My chest was still tight, my breaths still ragged and my whole body was trembling. I didn't know what to do and for a moment I felt like this might be a lot more serious than it was. I put my hand against the door to steady myself, my other hand going to my chest, rubbing my exposed skin in an effort to calm myself down.

 

So many things ran through my head in that moment. I could see Tora's face, sneering down at me. I could feel the hard wooden bat come down against my shoulder. The feeling in the pit of my stomach was something I had never experienced before. True dread. I couldn't shake the image of Saga and Tora cornering me by the hospital. I couldn't stop thinking about the horrible things I had said to Akira. I couldn't stop thinking about how much more was to come. I couldn't stop. I couldn't.

 

icouldn'ticouldn'ticouldn't.

 

"T-Taka..."

 

stopstopstopstop.

 

"H-Hey! C'mon..."

 

someonepleasesaveme.

 

"Hey!"

 

pleasepleaseplease.

 

And suddenly I felt it. Although my body was shaking and I felt numb... I could still feel it. I had squeezed my eyes shut long ago, but I opened them now, surprised by the sudden warmth that enveloped my body. Strong arms wrapped around me and I was pulled into his chest.

 

"Shh, shh," I heard him coo against my hair. "It's okay. I'm here"

 

I felt his hand around my back, sliding under my shirt and rubbing calming circles on my skin. I took a breath. And then another, and then one last one to make sure I was okay. Akira was kneeling in front of me on the ground beside the car, his head buried in the crook of my neck. It wasn't until I calmed down a bit that I noticed he was shaking too. When I felt like I had enough strength, I raised my arms and pulled him closer to me. His grip on me tightened in response.

 

"I'm sorry!" I gasped, a lump in my throat as tears spilled down my cheeks. "I'm so sorry!"

 

I felt him shake his head abruptly and he pulled back away from me, cupping my face with both his hands and locking his eyes with mine. "You have nothing to be sorry about." He said to me in a stern yet loving voice. "I.. I was an asshole. I'm sorry Taka."

 

I wanted to tell him he was wrong and that I loved him so so much, but the lump in my throat wouldn't permit it. I let out a small whine in frustration at not being able to speak and his eyebrows dipped in sympathy and guilt before he pulled my face closer to his, placing small light kisses on my skin, scattering them around my cheeks, nose and forehead. I shut my eyes. His lips seems to cool my hot face, and I took a moment to appreciate the feeling.

 

I just needed him. I just wanted him to understand me. To understand that when I said something, I might not necessarily mean it. I might snap, I might get stubborn, but when it came to him, I never meant it.

 

I squeezed him close to me again. I wanted to stay like this forever.

 

-o-o-

 

When we had both calmed down a bit, we started talking. Akira still crouching in front of me beside the car. He idly ran a one of his fingers across the back of my hand, which was distracting, as he was also trying to explain what had happened with him today.

 

"...I was just angry... I don't know," He had been trying to explain his reasoning behind not showing up to drop me off to the hospital today, but he was having a hard time putting words together.

 

"I just don't like it when people get angry at me," He mumbled, looking down, a small blush across his cheeks. He looked so vulnerable. It was true that Akira and I hadn't known each other for that long. We still had a lot to learn about each other, and this was the first time I was seeing this side of him. I'd be lying if I said this didn't excite me. I felt butterflies in my stomach at him kneeling before me, trying to think of a way that he could phrase his feelings so he could get my forgiveness. I don't think he realized he already had it.

 

"I just... didn't want to see you because I was scared," He said, still avoiding my gaze. "Scared?" I asked, confused. What could he have been scared for?

 

"Yeah," He continued. "Scared we'd fight some more and you'd end things..." He trailed off, his fingers idly fiddling with a loose thread on his worn jeans.

 

I laughed, something I think took him by surprise, because he looked up with a furrowed brow. Maybe I had offended him, so I quickly silenced myself. "Not like that!" I began, and the confusion in his face grew deeper. "I'm laughing because you actually think I'm going to ever leave you."

 

His face seemed to relax just a bit. I saw his once tense shoulders droop, as if a weight had been lifted. I was pleased. It looked like he had been as worried as I was and really needed to hear those words.

 

"Thank god," He breathed, taking my hand in his. "I was so worried," He said while finally standing up. As he did so, his phone fell from his back pocket onto the ground. He was stretching and didn't seem to notice, so I bent over to pick it up for him, and the screen lit up.

 

Akira, please don't leave things like this.

 

I know it's Taka you want, but please--

 

I quickly locked the phone, not wanting to see anymore. Akira turned around, surprised to see his phone in my hand. A worried look flashed through his eyes before he let out a nervous laugh. "Y-You dropped it.." I mumbled, stretching my hand out to give it to him. He took it and and slipped it into his back pocket again, pausing for a moment before he turned to me with a wide smile.

 

"It's late. Wanna go home?" He asked. I gave a shaky nod, turning to sit back into my seat. Akira closed the door behind me and walked back around to the drivers side. He stalled with his fingers clutching the handle to the door and whipped out his phone. I couldn't see his face through the window but I knew he was reading the texts from Kouyou.

 

Kouyou. He had made his move. From what I had seen on the screen of Akira's phone, it hadn't gone well. A mix of worry and relief bubbled up inside me. On one hand, I was happy, but... Kouyou... He had probably spilled his guts to Akira only to be rejected. He had loved him for so long, way longer than I have, that I found it hard to imagine what that must feel like.

 

Akira finally put his phone back in his pocket and climbed into the jeep, faking a smile as he started the ignition. "So..." He began, the engine coming to life as he fastened his seat belt. "My place might not be the best to go back to."

 

I understood that, and I wasn't going to ask why until I realized that it might be a bit suspicious if I didn't. "Why not?" I asked, trying to sound as clueless as I possible could. Akira gave a shrug, scratching his nose from what looked like embarrassment. "Kouyou's studying. I don't want to disturb him."

 

We were taking off down the road, a lot slower this time now that we weren't so heated. I was finding it difficult to find something to say in reply to that lie, so I decided to change the subject. "My bag!" I suddenly exclaimed, remembering that I had dropped it during my encounter with Tora and Saga. "I dropped my bag!"

 

Akira glanced over at me in surprise. "What? Where?" I saw him quickly glance around to the backseat and I shook my head. "I dropped it when Tora..." I felt a shiver run down my back as I said his name and remembered how close I had come to being seriously injured again. Akira cursed under his breath and shook his head. "What was in the bag?" He asked, pulling onto a familiar street that I knew lead to our apartment building.

 

"Just some money..." I paused. My keys were also in the bag. I knew Akira would freak out if I told him. We had had such a stressful day as it was, maybe it was just best to wait until morning. He sighed with relief, which made me feel guilty, but I reassured myself that if I just told him in the morning it would be okay.

 

We pulled up into the parking lot in front of the apartment building. There was a moment of awkward silence as Akira turned off the ignition and I felt myself squirming in my seat. This was the kind of silence that could only be explained by two people keeping something from each other. For me, it was the fact that Cure now had the keys to my apartment, and for Akira, it was the situation with Kouyou.

 

I chewed my lip in worry, trying to think of a way to break the tension when Akira took the opportunity, something that I was silently thankful for. "Can we stay at yours tonight?" He asked I gave a short nod. My apartment wasn't ideal. For starters, it was cold. The peeling wall paper and muddy carpets didn't make for a very romantic aesthetic, but I gave Akira a smile and took his hand in mine. He seemed to appreciate the compliance, and we both exited the car to make our way inside.

 

-o-o-

 

A couple of days had passed since the incident with Tora and I was thankful that nothing had happened. Akira had gone to his apartment a couple of times to shower, change clothes and get ingredients for food. He also thought it was best to bring down a number of his things, like the small TV that was in his room, his gaming console and other miscellaneous items like lamps, a rug and some towels for the bathroom. I appreciated it, because my apartment began to look more and more homey everyday, and I had to admit that waking up next to him left me with a feeling I couldn't describe. It was a good reminder that no matter what happened, with Tora or Kouyou, it would be worth it for this feeling.

 

It was Tuesday night. Akira and I were on the couch playing video games, not really paying any mind to much else. The school day had gone by like normal, and we had made it a habit to take a couple of days to relax together once we got back to my apartment.

 

He was currently shirtless, in sweat pants with the controller gripped tightly in his hand. He leaned forward, focusing on the screen and it gave me a perfect view of his back. This was one of my favorite parts of him. His broad shoulders which led to his strong arms. The hint of muscle was hard to miss, the way it curved around his upper arm and bulged slightly when he pressed a button with a bit more vigor.

 

"Taka," He called, not turning away from the screen. "Can you take care of the guy on the left? He's fucking me up!"

 

I was brought out of my daze and focused on the screen again. Akira was indeed getting 'fucked up' due to my distractions. I tried to react as best I could but it was too late. We were both dead, with out avatars bodies going limp. Akira let out a laugh as he turned to me, amusement in his eyes. "You okay?"

 

I flushed a little. He tucked a bit of hair behind my ear and gave me a quick kiss. I thought we would continue playing games, but Akira set down the controller and turned to face me, his arm coming up so he could rest against the back of the couch.

 

He scooted closer to me, his hand coming to rest on my thigh. I was wearing baggy boxers and one of his over sized shirts, so the contact with the bare skin on my leg tickled and made me squirm. He inched closer to me, his hand traveling up the hem of my boxers.

 

We made eye contact, already knowing where this was going to go, when there was suddenly a loud banging on the front door. I jolted at the noise, letting out a frustrated sigh because my arousal had already started to grow. Akira laughed, removing his hand before standing up. "Wait right there," He mumbled, making his way to the door and I was only happy to oblige.

 

As soon as he opened it, Yuu burst through the door in a flurry of tears and wrapped his arms around Akira. I stood up in confusion, not really sure what to do, and the surprised look on Akira's face matched my own, unsure of how to react.

 

"Yuu?" He asked, putting one arm around his friends shoulders and using the other to close the door again. Yuu's head raised to meet Akira's eyes, distress evident in his features.

 

"I-It's Uke! They got Uke!"

Chapter Text

It took us a while to calm Yuu down, and over the next hour I learned a lot of things. For starters, Yuu had originally tried to go to Akira and Kouyou's apartment but no one was there. This caused me to worry a bit, because if Yuu had knocked half as loud as he did on my door, it would have easily woken a sleeping Kouyou. So it must have meant he was out...

 

I didn't have much time to worry about Kouyou, because I also learned that Uke wasn't even out yet, except to us, which became the topic of discussion for about twenty minutes. How did they find out he was gay? Someone must have tipped them off, or they must have been watching more closely than I had expected and just figured it out.

 

But nothing was as shocking as the last bit of news I heard. Uke had been beaten so badly that the doctors had told Yuu that if he had been taken in any later, he might not have made it at all. He was currently in surgery, because it seemed that Cure's methods had become a lot more deadly. Uke had been stabbed twice. Once in his forearm and once in his side, around his ribs, resulting in a collapsed lung. It was around that time that I noticed Yuu's sleeves dried with blood. Uke's blood... he must have found him.

 

After learning this information, I couldn't focus on much else. Akira was speeding towards the hospital with Yuu in the front seat and myself in the back as Yuu relayed all the information he knew. The doctor had told him that Uke's chances looked good, but it would be a long recovery. I squeezed my eyes shut, not wanting to hear anymore. Not wanted to have to deal with this stuff. Why was this happening to us? Why did this seem to be coming all at once? Incident after incident... It was too much with no rest in between. Something had to be done.

 

When we arrived at the hospital Akira dropped us off at the front door and went to park the car. I followed Yuu as best as I could, but he was going so fast that I had to try my best to keep up. We entered the waiting room and I was surprised to see Takeru, sitting in one of the chairs with his head in his hands. I could tell by the slight shake of his body that he was crying. Yuu went to find a doctor, and I stood there, unsure of whether to approach Takeru or not.

 

But it looked like he needed someone, so I took a couple of steps towards him. The sound of my footsteps startled him, because his head shot up. His eyes were red and puffy. It was clear he had been sitting here in distress for a while. He stood and made his way over to me, wrapping his arms around me and burying his face in my chest, his shaking sobs reverberating through me. I didn't hesitate with bringing my arms up around him, hugging him close to me.

 

I think it was the embrace of someone who was experiencing the same feeling as me that finally caused the tears to spill from my own eyes. Sure, Akira and Yuu were devastated, but with Takeru and myself it was different. We knew exactly what Uke had gone through, because we had been there. We knew the feeling of dread that came with being cornered and beaten, and we also understood that there was a long road ahead of him, filled with unease, anxiety and sleepless nights. I pictured Uke's face as I squeezed my eyes shut. He was always so happy, always smiling so widely... I prayed that that smile wasn't gone forever. I begged someone, anyone, that they hadn't broken him.

 

There was another feeling that passed between Takeru and myself; Helplessness. Uke was tall and well built, with possibly the most muscular structure out of all of us, rivaling even Akira's athletic build. If he couldn't have fought them off, it meant one of two things; They were a lot stronger than us, or there were a lot more of them that we had anticipated.

 

It was then that I noticed Akira out of the corner of my eye. He gave me a knowing nod, as if to say 'stay with him' and ran off in the same direction as Yuu. I was only happy to comply. I tried my best to wipe the tears from my eyes as I pulled away from Takeru. I led him back to the seats and sat him down, leaving for a brief moment to get him some water before I returned. I watched as he gulped it down, wiping his lips with the back of his hand.

 

He was focusing on the ground in front of him, his eyes blank, before his face twisted in pain and he began crying again. I took a seat next to him, putting my arm around his shoulder. It was the best I could do, with everything that had happened, but I was unsure of how else to ease him. The closeness seemed to work and he turned his head, burying his face in my shoulder.

 

I looked up and watched Akira down the hallway. Him and Yuu were talking to the same doctor that had spoken to Akira and I a couple of weeks ago. Takeru's dad. Akira was nodding, his eyebrows dipped in a mix of concentration and what I could only assume was anger, while his arms were folded tightly across his chest. Meanwhile, Yuu had his hand over his mouth. He was still crying, but he wasn't nearly as hysterical as he had been when he had shown up at my apartment.

 

It was only a couple of more minutes before they made their way back to us. Yuu sat on the other side of Takeru and reached out to rub his back. Akira crouched in front of me, a concerned look on his face. "Doctor said it's looking good but we'll have to wait." He informed me, reaching out to take my free hand. "How're you doing?"

 

It was around this time that Takeru had pulled away from me and turned to Yuu, who hugged him and brought his head against his chest. I turned back to Akira, taking a moment to look at my fingers interlocked with his. I was shaking.

 

"I'm scared..." I managed to whisper, my voice catching in my throat slightly. Akira reached out and brushed his fingers along my cheek, brushing away a stray tear. "I know," He muttered in return. "But I won't ever let them get you again. I promise." He reached out and hooked my pinky finger in his, solidifying his vow. I gave a shaky nod.

 

I guess the only thing left to do was wait.

 

-o-o-

 

A couple of hours passed. Takeru had fallen asleep. He laid across the seats, curled into a ball with his head resting on Yuu's lap. I scanned his face and even in his sleep he looked troubled. My eyes traveled to Akira, who was pacing around. Every twenty minutes he would go out for some fresh air, and sometimes I joined him. I had told him to sit down and wait, but he had shaken his head at me. I could tell he was nervous. He had tried to call Kouyou on a number of occasions, but his phone was off. It worried me a little, but I wasn't in the position to give Kouyou too much thought. We still hadn't gotten an update on Uke.

 

I glanced at Yuu next. He was looking down at Takeru, brushing his hair lightly in an effort to keep him calm. Yuu hadn't stopped crying this entire time. I offered him water on plenty of occasions, but he had declined, and hadn't spoken a word in hours.

 

Akira was just coming inside when we saw Takeru's dad coming down the hallway. I stood up in surprise, making my way over to him. I must have disturbed Takeru in the meantime because he jolted awake and immediately got out of his seat, him and Yuu following after me. When we were all together, the doctor gave us a smile.

 

"As expected, everything went okay. You can see him now." I heard everyone let out a sigh of relief from behind me and Akira even laughed. We proceeded to follow him down the hallway and into an unnamed ward. Everywhere I looked there were injured people. Some were walking around with crutches and some were confined to there beds, a broken arm here, a twisted leg there. I tried not to pay too much attention and Akira grabbed my hand, sensing my tension.

 

When we reached his bedside, I don't think any of us were ready for the sight that would greet us.

 

Uke was laying on the bed, still knocked out from the medication. His right arm was bandaged, with dots of blood seeping through the white material. Around his head was another bandage that looked like it was hiding a nasty bump and his neck was heavily bruised. I couldn't see much around his ribs as the blanket was pulled up to his shoulders, but I could only assume that the stab wound was pretty nasty too.

 

"Some more info about his injuries," Takeru's dad chimed from behind us. I turned to see him with a chart in his hands, his eyes scanning it thoroughly. He walked around to Uke's side, pointing to his head.

 

"It looks like he was hit with a blunt force object here, which we think came after his stab injuries, probably to knock him out," He flipped a page on his chart. There were so many pages... so many injuries. He pointed to Uke's neck. "These seem like they were caused by hands," He continued, addressing the bruises. "And there are some cuts... indicating that maybe a wire or rope was used too."

 

I heard Yuu let out a whimper behind me and turned to see him and Takeru holding each other, fresh tears streaking their cheeks. I don't think they wanted to hear anymore, so they turned away from us. I think the doctor picked up on this too, but he continued, this time in a more hushed voice to just Akira and myself. We moved in closer.

 

"His forearm..." He went on, pausing to check our reaction to make sure we were okay. "Was stabbed. It's possible this happened in self defense. We theorize he was trying to protect himself. He's lucky the stab was fairly shallow and not much harm will come from it. And lastly," He pulled the blanket back just a bit and we peered over to see bandages wrapped around his chest and torso, with yet another sizable blood stain. "...he was stabbed on his left side, between two of ribs, which resulted in a pneumothorax, more commonly known as a collapsed lung. Thankfully," The doctor paused and flipped the chart closed, clicking his pen and slipping it back into his coat pocket. "we were able to take care of that with the surgery."

 

Akira and I exchanged glances, and when his eyes met mine, I could see the anger. I could see the fury, the sadness and the absolute rage that his words could never convey. His teeth were gritted in a way that made the sides of his jaw jut out. The doctor gave us both a concerned look before he turned to check the monitors that were hooked up to Uke. "He's going to have a very long recovery, and he'll need his friends." He reminded us, and we both silently nodded.

 

"I've contacted the authorities. We've agreed to leave him sleep for now, probably until the morning, but they'll want to speak to him as soon as he wakes up."

 

Neither Akira nor I protested. That was probably the best decision and we were obviously not going to disagree. The doctor left after he was done checking Uke and making sure he was okay. He told us we could wait with him, even through visiting hours were over, something I'm sure Yuu was the most thankful for. We took our seats around his bed, unsure of how to process all this new information.

 

Certainly when we had first heard of his injuries from Yuu, there had been no mention of the blow to his head or any attempt at strangulation. I wondered for a minute how long they had kept Uke for... It sounded like it wasn't just a random beating. It had been premeditated and carefully planned out. They had tied him up, beat him and knocked him out. My head was swimming, going back and forth between whether they had tried to kill him, or whether they had beaten him so bad to send a message. I wanted to ask Yuu about it because he had found him. I wanted to ask him if he had seen them, and where exactly he had found Uke, but something told me he wouldn't appreciate the questions at a time like this.

 

"I'm going to try Kouyou again," Akira mumbled to me as he stood out of his chair. He laid a hand on my shoulder and leaned over, planting a small kiss on my forehead. I gave a slight nod and watched as he made his way out of the ward so as not to disturb other people. I watched him leave without another word, my eyes travelling to Yuu, who was holding Uke's uninjured hand, his forehead resting against their interlocked fingers.

 

Takeru was sniffling a little and looked at me. He must have read my mind, because he gave me a little nod and stood up, leaving to give Yuu and I some time together. I didn't know how to begin now that we were alone. I was nervous because if I said something wrong, I'm sure this conversation could go in a very different direction.

 

But just as I was going back and forth between how to begin, Yuu raised his head, his eyes never leaving Uke's face. "I feel horrible." He mumbled. It was the first thing he had said to me since we had arrived at the hospital hours ago, and I didn't interrupt because I knew he was going somewhere. "If I had been there earlier... I could have stopped this."

 

He sniffed, a tear falling from his eye as he moved a strand of hair behind Uke's ear. "We had planned to meet up for a movie... I'm always late..." He was breaking down again, and it was getting hard for him to speak. I reached out and put my hand on his across the bed, and he took it, his grip tight. My heart twisted at the sight and something dawned on me. Yuu must have been feeling guilty about this. From what I could gather, him and Uke had been planning to meet up. This was important to note, because it meant Cure knew about this, which also meant that they were watching us. All of us, and not just Akira and I. The thought sent shivers down my spine.

 

After Yuu had composed himself, he continued. "I took a short cut there, down an alleyway. I didn't want to keep him waiting too long... That's when I found him. At first, I didn't think it was him, but as I got closer..." He trailed off with a whimper, and I stood up, the metal legs of the chair screeching against the floor, suddenly feeling enraged at this whole situation. He looked up at me in surprise, his watery eyes boring into mine.

 

"We're going to get them." I affirmed, but this time it didn't feel like it was an empty promise. They had gone too far. They had initiated something that they were really going to regret and this time I felt the determination in my heart, swelling to the point where I felt like I might explode. "They're going to pay for this, I promise you."

 

I think Yuu saw the fire in my eyes, because his expression suddenly matched my own, his eyebrows dipping as he gave a short nod. He gave a hum of agreement before turning back to Uke. "For him."

 

I glanced at Uke's sleeping expression. He looked so peaceful. It filled me with a feeling I couldn't place. Determination, longing, motivation and inspiration. I remembered how it had felt to wake up in Akira's bed after the first night we had been together, the happiness that had spread through me like a soft glow. I was going to bring that back to all of us again.

 

Little did I know that the feeling that Yuu and I shared wouldn't last. At least not for Yuu.

 

-o-o-

 

We waited all night with him. Akira still hadn't been able to get in contact with Kouyou and it was now that I really began to worry. I had asked Akira if we should go to the apartment and check if he was there and he told me we would go soon. He wanted to wait until Uke woke up first. I tried to put it to the back of my mind for now, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. Something inside me found it suspicious that just as all of this had happened, Kouyou had gone missing. I tried not to think that Kouyou would do anything like this to us, but I couldn't help but wonder.

 

Yuu had left some time ago. He didn't want to, but he was exhausted and we convinced him that we would stay with Uke. We were sure he would be back by the time the police arrived anyway, seeing as they would need to question him too. Takeru had taken Yuu's seat on Uke's left, his head rested on the bed in front of him as he snored softly. We had tried to convince him to get some rest too, but he had refused to go home. He said that he wanted to be there when Uke woke up.

 

Akira and I were sharing a sandwich in an effort not to skip breakfast when the body on the bed in front of us began to stir. I glanced up just in time to see Uke's eyes crack open. He looked so groggy as he tried to move his hand, accidentally nudging Takeru awake. The blonde's head shot up, his eyes wide with surprise as he looked at Uke's face, as if to make sure. "You're awake!"

 

We were all smiling, leaning in to see him. I don't know why, but I was expecting him to return our grins and I think that's why my heart dropped when a tear fell from his eye and down his temple, getting lost in his hair. He was in pain and whether it was emotional or physical, I didn't know. Takeru frowned, stalling for a bit before leaving to get a doctor or nurse.

 

"A-Akira!" Uke finally spoke, his voice distressed and hoarse. "G-Get them away from me!"

 

He was still there. I don't think he had registered that he was safe now, in a hospital bed surrounded by people who wanted to help. He was still there, in that alleyway, cornered and terrified.

 

Akira was as stunned as I was, but he grabbed his friends hand, leaning over to lock eyes with him, his other hand on Uke's cheek so that he couldn't turn away. "Look at me, Uke! Just look at me!" The distress was still evident in the brunette's eyes but he kept his eyes locked to Akira, his chest heaving as he sucked in air. "You're okay now. You're safe."

 

It took a moment for Uke to register the words, but he relaxed, his eyes squeezing shut as he began to sob. He reached his arm out to pull Akira closer, resting his forehead on his chest. It was so intimate, that I felt out of place. I knew neither felt romantically towards each other so it was the type of intimacy that came with being so close you were practically family.

 

-o-o-

 

Once Uke had calmed down a bit, the police were called. We weren't allowed to be there while he was being questioned, but we waited patiently. I'm sure we all wanted them to have as much time as they needed. Takeru again waited with us, chewing his lip in constant worry. Akira and I were told there was a chance we'd be questioned too, with everything that had happened to us as well, but because we had already given statements earlier in the month, it might not be necessary.

 

It was another hour before we got to see Uke again, we took up our seats around his bed, and he looked embarrassed, as if he hadn't meant to cause a scene. Takeru was the first to speak to him, reaching out and taking his hand again. "How're you feeling?" He asked, his brow dipped in concern. Uke gave a mix between a nervous laugh and a sigh.

 

"A bit groggy, but happy to be safe." I could tell by the constant wrinkle between his brows that that wasn't entirely accurate. He was still confused, and scared probably, but didn't want to admit it. He adjusted his position in the bed, trying to get more comfortable when he winced. He had put too much weight on his ribs, but Takeru immediately stood up, adjusting his pillows and making sure he was comfortable. Uke muttered a thanks with a blush, something that I thought was particularly strange. I put it down to the fact that he didn't want to be a bother to anyone, but I was also starting to understand that he was a very independent person. This was probably going to be more tough on him than we had anticipated.

 

"Can you tell us anything you remember?" Akira suddenly chimed in beside me. I wanted to hush him, because I thought it might be too early for Uke to talk about it, but to my surprise, he gave a small hum in thought, his eyes shooting down to his hands in thought. "I remember everything." He mumbled. There was a moment of silence and Takeru and I exchanged glances. We knew full well that Uke was going to remember every single little detail for the next couple of weeks. It wasn't something that was going to go away anytime soon.

 

"I was supposed to meet up with Yuu, but he was late." He quirked a smile here, but it was somehow filled with sadness. "I was waiting, and waiting and that's when it happened. I was grabbed from behind, and I couldn't quite see who it was, but I heard their voices." 

 

We were hanging on his every word, as if this was some sort of drama show, but the look in Uke's eyes was very real. It pained him to recount these details to us, but he was doing it anyway, something I think we were all thankful for. 

 

"It was definitely Tora, Saga and Hiroto, but there were more there... if I was to guess, there were about seven or eight of them." Takeru let out a gasp, and I couldn't help but be equally stunned. Seven or eight... so many people just for Uke, but then I realized something. They were probably expecting Yuu as well. With the two of them being strong and well built, they must have anticipated a big fight, but they had only found Uke. I think I understood Uke's sad smile when he had mentioned that Yuu was late. He was happy that they hadn't gotten to him too.

 

"There was even a girl there. She had the worst sneer. It was so cruel..." Uke raised a hand to wipe his eyes, because he had began crying again. Still, none of us said anything. "They put a rope around my neck, a-and dragged me around for a while..." It was getting harder for him to talk, but he continued anyway. "Th-They took turns hitting me and just when I thought they were done, Tora pulled out a knife...  I tried with what strength I had left to protect myself, but I guess it wasn't enough. When he finally got me, all I remember is the pain. I think I was screaming too, because that's when they knocked me out..." 

 

He broke into sobs again, his hand blocking his eyes in shame. I hated this. I hated everything about this, and I could tell by Akira's clenched fists he felt the same. I chewed my lip in worry, not entirely sure of how to continue from here. How were we going to get them? The police clearly knew who it was at the head of Cure, but I was unsure why they hadn't done anything yet. Maybe lack of evidence? Maybe they didn't care? Who knew? But we had to find out.

 

I was brought out of my thoughts by Akira suddenly standing up. He looked panicked as he grabbed my arm and tugged me up out of my seat roughly. I was about to protest but I saw the look in his eyes. A look that said 'Come with me. Don't ask questions.'

 

"Uke," He called in a calmer voice than I had anticipated. "We have to go. Kouyou's been missing and we're going to the apartment to see if we can get a hold of him." Uke looked confused for a moment, but didn't question it. As we were leaving, Takeru shouted after us and told us to call him when we found Kouyou. 

 

Racing down the hallway to the entrance, my mind was muddled. What was this all of a sudden? Why was he running? Why was he not telling me what this was about? When we were out of sight, he whipped around to me so fast I nearly ran into his chest.

 

"I couldn't say this in front of Uke," He said in a distressed tone. "But they had been expecting him and Yuu to be there." He grabbed my shoulders, his anxious eyes boring into mine. "Yuu hasn't come back! The police have come and gone, Uke is awake, and Yuu hasn't come back!"

 

My eyes widened with realization. This wasn't about Kouyou. This was about Yuu and the very real possibility that he could be in danger. I could feel my heart thudding in my chest and I was beginning to panic. I grabbed Akira's arm. "O-Okay... okay, what do we...?" I was finding it hard to form words, but Akira grabbed my hand and began leading me to the exit. 

 

Yuu was in danger. He could be next. If they were watching us as closely as I had anticipated, he could already be... I stopped myself. I couldn't think like that. 

 

But our worries were quickly, and thankfully, dashed. When Akira and I left the hospital, we saw a familiar figure sitting on a bench not too far away. He had his back to us, but the long sheen of ebony hair was unmistakable. A puff of smoke raised up over his head and I sighed. It was Yuu. I felt Akira relax next to me, his hand coming up to rub his chest in relief, as we made our way over to him. 

 

"I didn't go home." He mumbled when he saw us, taking a drag from his cigarette and sighing it out again. Akira sat next to him, a hand coming out to rub his back. "I couldn't go home... but now I can't go back in." He must have been sitting there for hours, because he was in the same clothes as he had been last night, several cigarette butts at his feet. "I can't see him like that," he continued, his eyes locking onto Akira. "I can't see him in that state. I feel like my heart is breaking..." He let out a frustrated groan and Akira gave a nod.

 

He must have understood how he felt, because I didn't. I didn't know what it was like to be on the other side of this situation. To have the person you care about and want to protect be targeted with something like this. I remembered how many times Akira had apologized and reassured me that it was never going to happen again. I could tell that he had felt guilty after it had happened to me, and that was probably what Yuu was feeling now.

 

I didn't want to interrupt their moment, and Akira gave me a glance. I knew that he probably needed some time with Yuu, so I gave a nod and made my way back into the hospital. I couldn't exactly go back up to Uke and tell him that Yuu didn't want to see him, and I couldn't go home.

 

I was left in the waiting room with my thoughts. Thoughts on where we go from here, how to tackle Cure, Kouyou...

 

And more importantly, how we were going to get through this.