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Kakyoin suggested the idea about ten months after they’d gotten home from Egypt. To begin with, they had been sat with varying degrees of mounting frustration at the dining table at Jotaro’s place studying for their Japanese literature exam, until Jotaro threw down his pen and declared, “I’ve had enough of this.”

“Funny,” Kakyoin said, though his face held no trace of amusement whatsoever, “I could have sworn you’d had enough after the first three minutes.” Jotaro just sort of grunted at him, and though it was just a grunt, Jotaro had enough variations on the grunt in his repertoire to clearly convey that this was an accurate assessment. “Want to go for a walk?” Kakyoin asked, because Jotaro apparently had so much muscle that if he didn’t move around at every half-hour interval he was at risk of some sort of muscle-based internal crisis. Kakyoin didn’t know. He didn’t understand muscles.

They got up to go wander around the neighbourhood and promised to be back in time for dinner. Kakyoin had not been aware that he was staying for dinner, but it beat eating with his own parents, so he was not complaining.

“I hate this literature shit,” Jotaro grumbled as they started out on the street. “I’m fine with Japanese on its own because there’s rules and there’s a right answer. But literature is bullshit.”

“All of it?” Kakyoin asked sarcastically. “The entirety of all literature that has ever been written ever?”

“Shut up,” Jotaro muttered, because he didn’t know how to communicate. “You know what I mean. The fact that you can be tested on interpreting a subjective medium. And that there’s a ‘right answer’. That’s stupid.”

“Well, I know where you’re coming from. To me it’s less the interpretation of literature than interpreting what answers they want you to write during the test. I mean, the only critical framework we’ve been given is ‘what will get you marks on the exam’, so it’s not as if we’re really scrutinising anything.”

“Oh, yeah,” Jotaro mumbled. “I forget you like that shit. You know. Thinking about stuff.”

“Yes, I do indeed love to think about stuff. I do it all the time. You could say, in fact, that I am always thinking about stuff, constantly,” Kakyoin said, because, while he may have had a better grip on communication than Jotaro, he had less of a grip on how to have friends.

“I am going to kill you one day,” Jotaro said, kicking a rock, and Kakyoin didn’t believe him for even a second, which was how he had yet to cease being such a ginormous bastard.

Jotaro kept kicking the rock. Kakyoin took a couple turns when it ended up closer to him. It was late afternoon, not quite sunset, and the neighbourhood was comparatively quiet, muffled sounds of life in the air as if a solid barrier surrounded the two of them on the carless street. The two weirdos.

Life had gone back to normal alarmingly quickly after they’d recovered enough from their injuries to leave Egypt. Polnareff and Abdul stayed in Cairo, and Iggy went with the Speedwagon Foundation to get a prosthetic foot so he could go back to stealing people’s hotdogs in New York to his fullest capacity. Probably he would have been fine without a prosthetic - many dogs were - but he had been putting on such a show of suffering that Joseph got annoyed enough to give in and foot (ha) the bill. Apparently, Joseph and Suzie had stayed at the Kujo’s for a whole month to make sure their daughter was okay, being ‘really fucking suffocating’ (Jotaro’s words) in their displays of affection. Kakyoin wouldn’t know because he’d spent that month trying not to move too much so as not to agitate the massive bruising that still remained on what little abdominal muscle he was in possession of.

Probably he ought to be grateful that Dio had been arrogant enough to assume that a solid punch to the stomach with his (hi)jacked muscles and a good water tower to the back would be enough to do him in, but mostly he had just been sort of hibernating and playing video games and trying not to think about the pain. At least he still had all of his appendages, anyway. And with all his bountiful parts, Kakyoin went right back to school as soon as he was up and about, and it wasn’t even entirely because his parents didn’t quite understand that an evil immortal vampire had done a real number on his insides and wanted him to get over it and back to studying for exams. No, he was still on his Conquering His Many Psychological Issues kick, and was trying to prove that he was like… tough, or something. It made sense at the time, in any case.

He hadn’t quite forgotten that he went to the same school as Jotaro, but it was a close thing, given that they’d had all of one day of school together before leaving the country, and also that Kakyoin was brainwashed for all of it. As it happened, in that one day of school, in the brief window between arriving at the institution and trying to do some murders in the nurse’s office, Kakyoin had chosen the desk beside Jotaro’s at the back of the room. At least, he can only assume he did given his things were there, and it would have only been so he could stare at Jotaro and think about all the murder he was going to do on him for the good Lord Dio while their teacher talked about calculus, or something equally non-murder related.

Anyway, as they happened to be in the same class, and happened to sit next to each other, and happened to have gone on the same journey across the planet where they had to try very hard not to die all the time constantly, he and Jotaro were… friends, he supposed. He supposed because Kakyoin had never had a friend before, but he had seen what they were like -- boisterous, considerate. Sociable, definitely. He couldn’t say that they were friends the way other people were friends, but then, it wasn’t as if they weren’t, either.

They ate lunch together. A few days a week, they’d either study at Jotaro’s place or play games at Kakyoin’s. One time, out the front of a convenience store, Kakyoin tried one of Jotaro’s cigarettes and decided immediately, amidst a lot of coughing, that he did not like it at all thank you, and Jotaro shrugged, said ‘you get used to it,’ and shoved the cigarette Kakyoin definitely would not finish in his mouth beside the one he was already smoking. He’d looked stupid, and Kakyoin told him as much more than once, but all he had to say for himself was ‘I’m not gonna waste it.’

So, in a lot of ways, their friendship could be seen as fairly normal, if you only looked at about half of it. For Kakyoin, at that point, after travelling with him, it just felt normal to be around Jotaro, but not in quite the same way as the others. With Abdul and Joseph, there was a barrier of respect and formality that had a tendency to inhibit real closeness. Iggy was, in addition to being a vicious little bastard, a dog, so you’ll have to forgive Kakyoin for not being overly close to him. And then there was Polnareff. Polnareff was in general incredibly bright, accepting, and fun to be around no matter who you were, but this tendency of his was especially meaningful to the two teens. Kakyoin couldn’t speak entirely for Jotaro, but he knew that for himself, the way Polnareff had delighted in his quirks and was entertained by his info-dumping was touching, in stark contrast to the way people usually slinked away from him at the first sign that he was Not Normal.

So, Polnareff had been sort of a goofy older brother to him, yes. But it was different to the sheer amount of sameness between him and Jotaro. Sure, they had different interests and personalities, but they were the same age, both autistic, both stand users. There was a similar kind of disinterest in everyone else in the world who couldn’t begin to understand them that made it remarkably easy for them to get along, to exist quietly next to each other, satisfied to have found someone who gets them so well.

This can sound very deep and emotional, but the surface-level result of it all, when thrust back into an everyday environment, was that they often spent long periods saying nothing at all to each other. This could, and in fact had, given the amount of concern for his imminent safety some of Kakyoin’s classmates had hilariously been showing, make it seem as if they didn’t like each other at all. Oftentimes Jotaro was content to say nothing and stare out the window, and Kakyoin, in addition to usually having his Gameboy somewhere on his person, was oftentimes content to make sarcastic little remarks to himself, or whoever might care to listen.

It was upon reflecting on this comfortable nature of their relationship that Kakyoin had spawned The Idea, and he had been mulling it over for a good few weeks. He felt like it was a good Idea, but there was every chance that Jotaro would think he’d lost the plot entirely, which would be truly a shame given that he was really Kakyoin’s only friend who lived in the country, unless you counted his Gameboy, which he did. That said, it wasn’t so much that he was afraid of what might happen if he suggested it - he was Jotaro’s only friend too, after all - but more that he was having a bit of trouble finding a way to word it that couldn’t be misconstrued as an insult.

One could likely suggest that this was Kakyoin’s own fault for phrasing near everything he said in way that covertly concealed an insult about as covertly as a thirteen-year-old shoplifting a candy bar for the first time, but he would no doubt undergo a spontaneous bout of deafness.

To return to what we’ll tenuously refer to as the present, they had reached a waterway at the edge of the neighbourhood. The sun was setting by then, the light low and slanted over the creek, and the shadows were deepening. They stopped by the water, a few meters along from a footbridge that was also heavily used by cyclists and students. Jotaro went to school that way; he had once gone to stop a younger kid from being bullied for their cash only for the dude in question to take one glance over his shoulder, take in Jotaro’s physical mass, and immediately take off in the other direction. ‘It was like Hol Horse all over again,’ Jotaro had told him, clearly highly amused by the whole escapade.

“Sorry my mum assumed you’d stay for dinner again,” Jotaro said into the quiet.

“Not at all. I like her cooking. Anyway, it’s Saturday, so it’s not like my parents will be waiting for me,” Kakyoin said. His parents were both office workers, and while it was true that they both usually got dinner and drinks with their coworkers on the last workday of the week, it was also true that they weren’t exactly home early for the rest of the week, either. Between them not being home and Kakyoin frequenting the Kujo’s place, they had dinner together as a family about once a week, if that.

Jotaro knew this - he’d mentioned it previously - but didn’t comment on it. “Besides,” Kakyoin continued, “it’s nice to eat with people who I can actually talk to.”

He saw Jotaro tug on the brim of his hat out of the corner of his eye. “...For what it’s worth,” he started, and then paused for a few seconds. Kakyoin glanced at him - he had a discomforted twist to his mouth. “...I think she’s just. Happy. That I have a friend.”

“Ah.” Kakyoin gave Jotaro a single light pat to the back of his shoulder. “Me too.”

Jotaro gave him a very unimpressed look. “Yeah, thanks, shithead.”

“I meant that I was happy that I had a friend,” Kakyoin scoffed. And added, after consideration, “Shithead.”

“Whatever,” Jotaro said, but he was smiling as much as he ever smiled, which was to say, barely, and mostly emotionally. He was smiling in his heart, and he knew that, and Kakyoin knew that, and that was all that mattered.

“Did you shake out all your stupid muscles enough yet?” Kakyoin asked, gone directly back to being sarcastic.

“Stretch out, you mean.”

Kakyoin flipped a dismissive hand. “Whatever you do with them.”

“Yeah, I feel better.” Jotaro turned away from the water to head back the way they came; Kakyoin followed alongside him. “It’s nice to get out.”

“If you say so,” Kakyoin said, because he was a gamer, and his stand didn’t like enclosed spaces for no reason.

“Speaking of shitheads,” Jotaro said, “I talked to Polnareff last night.”

“He called you?”

“Yeah. I forgot to mention it ‘cause after that we had to see my dad off at the airport. But anyway, he says his Arabic is getting really good.”

“He says.”

Jotaro smirked. “Yeah. Probably he learned how to say ‘you’re welcome’.” Polnareff, in all his posturing about French being the most superior and beautiful language of them all, had never had the strongest English out of them. He was more natural than Kakyoin, who had a very textbook-based understanding and found it hard to follow along at first, but it was clear enough to him once he got used to the speed of conversational English that this was more due to the closeness of the two languages than any study on Polnareff’s part. If he knew any more of the language than Jotaro, who was probably more fluent given his test scores than the handful of words he uttered at any one time let on, Kakyoin would be surprised.

“He also said he moved in with Abdul. Like, officially.” Polnareff had been staying with Abdul while he tried to figure out what exactly his skillset was and what kind of work he could do. He didn’t have the chance to really figure it out before, having his early adulthood stolen by his sister’s murder and involvement with Dio, but he had said to them, when they were saying their goodbyes and while studiously not looking at his boyfriend, ‘All I know right now is that I love him. That’s all I have left.’

“He’s doing investigative work now. Apparently he didn’t want to make it permanent until they were equals.”

For a second Kakyoin thought that was incredibly stupid, but then he considered his own pride, and thought maybe it wasn’t that unfathomable at all, really. “I guess that makes sense. I do feel bad for Abdul-san, though. May God rest his soul.”

There was a shared moment there, as they walked down a residential street that looked like any other, where they silently contemplated the precise pitch of Polnareff’s snoring, and also the smell of his feet after being in the desert all day.

“...It’s nice, though,” Jotaro said after a minute, hands in his pockets. “That they’re happy. And they have something.”

Exactly, Kakyoin thought loudly, and then, well, I guess I have to ask sometime. “Speaking of,” he said lightly, “I had been kind of thinking, lately.” Jotaro grunted to show he was listening. “Well, you know. I’ve never been close to anyone the way I am with everyone we fought with, and especially you.” He took a moment to consider his words, what he really wanted to say, and also how not to accidentally take a sledgehammer to Jotaro’s pride, however unsuccessful such a thing may be.

“Essentially… I thought I would never have any fulfilling relationships if no one could see my Stand, and I still don’t think I could be satisfied, even as friends, if someone didn’t understand that about me. And given that, and me being the way I am,” --this was a polite way of referencing his autism, but it was also mostly about the way he read a lot of encyclopedias as a kid and had a habit of spouting facts at random, and also his long and storied history of doing unspeakable things to cherries with his mouth-- “...I just think the odds of me meeting someone who sees all that, and understands it, and still wants to be around me, it’s…”

“It’s not impossible,” Jotaro said, frowning, but then he was usually frowning, so this may not have been indicative of anything.

“No,” Kakyoin said, looking quite seriously at him, “it’s not, because it’s already happened.”

Jotaro blinked twice at him, and without breaking his stride pointed questioningly at himself.

“Yeah,” Kakyoin said. “I was just thinking. We spend a lot of time together. I like being around you. I don’t mind meeting new people, but it always feels like there’s a huge gap between us so I never feel really connected to anyone, and I feel like you’re the same. And we’re both Stand users so we don’t have to worry about putting each other in danger.”

“What are you saying?” Jotaro was still frowning, but somehow this seemed like more of curious frown than it had previously. Kakyoin briefly considered the possibilities of Jotaro having a discreet second Stand which surreptitiously rearranged his eyebrow hairs when no one was looking. Born from Jotaro’s inability to show emotion with his own facial muscles, no doubt.

“Wouldn’t it be easy if we dated each other?” Kakyoin asked directly. “Instead of struggling to find someone else to understand us?”

Jotaro blinked at him some more. “Wait. Are you confessing to me?”

“Oh, goodness, no,” Kakyoin said with a laugh.

“Gee, thanks,” Jotaro grumbled. “...I mean. It’s not like you have to date someone.”

“No, I know. I just think that I would like to share my life with someone.” He made a thoughtful sort of face, said, “And the intimacy would be nice, too.” Jotaro shot him a look of unbridled terror and Kakyoin waved his hands immediately, saying, “Not like that, I just meant, you know, everyday stuff--”

“Oh thank god. I don’t--”

“Yeah.”

“You remember,” Jotaro said, this time with a contemplative twist to his frown, “how I said I thought I might be gay?”

“Of course.” Kakyoin had been out as gay to Jotaro, and the others, from practically the very beginning, because his mouth was figuratively as well as physically big, and his openness about the subject seemed to have made Jotaro feel a little more comfortable talking about it, too.

“That was probably wrong.” Before Kakyoin could feel any kind of reaction to this in the wake of what he had just proposed, Jotaro continued, maintaining all the while a pointed frown at the bitumen in front of him as they walked. “I think it’s more like, I just don’t like people very often. Girls or guys. Our classmates for example. They aren’t my friends so why would I feel anything for them. If that makes sense.”

“I think it does. It just means you don’t trouble yourself with trivial crushes based solely on appearances. I’m a lot like that, too. Well, unless you count that guy in middle school, but to be fair, I was in middle school, so I wouldn’t.”

“...I like you, though,” Jotaro said thoughtfully, looking over at him. They were only about two minutes from the Kujo house, and a cool autumn breeze played with the curls under his hat as he walked. “It’s not the worst idea you’ve ever had.”

“Yeah?”

“I guess, sure. Let’s try it. See what happens.”

“Cool,” Kakyoin agreed. He made no move to take Jotaro’s hand, link their arms, or be closer to him in any way, but he did say, flipping a hand and not altering his tone to go along with the more theatrical turn he took, “So, oh dear boyfriend of mine, because I am so sweet and thoughtful, I have brought with me on my person my Tetris cartridge, purely for your entertainment.”

“Hell yes,” Jotaro said expressionlessly. “Did you beat my high score yet?”

“Does it matter?” Kakyoin asked, steadfastly not looking at him, because of course he hadn’t. Tetris, as it happened, was tragically the one game that Jotaro liked, and he also happened to be superhumanly good at it. His high score was nearly double Kakyoin’s. Kakyoin was never going to live that down, probably, but he was also never going to let Jotaro forget that he had bet his mortal soul on a game he had never played once in his life, on two separate occasions, so probably they were even. “I’ve been mostly playing Super Mario Land, anyway.”

Jotaro grunted, said, “That game’s annoying.”

You’re annoying, you heathen. You uncultured swine. I do you the charitable favour of letting you play my games and this is what you say to me. I cannot believe you’ve said this,” Kakyoin bitched, entirely straight-faced. They had had this conversation any number of times now and he was having fun making his reactions to the claim progressively more outlandish and ridiculously phrased. Jotaro just snickered, and they carried on in this vein until they got back.

They somewhat reluctantly studied for about another hour when they returned, and then Holly happily announced that dinner was ready, so they cleared their books, worksheets, and other assorted paraphernalia away and ate. It felt a little weird to talk to Holly when her son had just agreed to date him, even if it was only as a kind of odd experiment, but only a little, given that they hadn’t, like, done anything to solidify their kind-of-relationship yet.

Holly said that they’d surely ace their exam with all the studying they had done, and Jotaro just sort of lowered his head to eat closer to his food, as if he was praying. Kakyoin knocked his socked foot against Jotaro’s bare ankle under the table; he glanced up at him, and when Kakyoin just gave him a deadpan look at two thumbs up, Jotaro gave him an unimpressed glare and the finger. Or, more accurately, Star Platinum gave him the finger, because he was a teenager and hated being scolded.

This didn’t really work out in his favour though, given that Holly roused, “Kujo Jotaro, I saw that!!” and spent a decent five minutes chasing him about the house with a tea towel and vines wiggling threateningly in his direction. Kakyoin ate quietly by himself, wondering why, if Jotaro’s legs were about twice as long as everyone else on the planet’s, and also he could stop time, he would choose to put the couch in between him and his mother instead. Not that getting whacked with a tea towel was really something worth running away from in the first place. He wondered if it was an American thing -- which it could well have been, given that everything Kakyoin knew about Americans was based entirely on Joseph Joestar’s personality -- and then had a great time by himself entertaining the notion that this was all a play they were putting on for his benefit. Dinner and a show.

It was nice, though. Family that liked and was comfortable enough with each other to goof around like that was something he never had. Though he sometimes felt like something of an intruder on the household, being folded into the mix of it, even just as an observer… it was nice. It made him feel very warm in the general chest area, and he didn’t know what to do with that, with knowing that these people felt more like his family than the people who brought him into the world.

 

Later, after dinner, he and Jotaro were hanging out in Jotaro’s room, splayed mostly across Jotaro’s futon. Kakyoin would probably end up spending the night; it happened fairly often, enough that his parents had stopped worrying if he didn’t come home. Plenty of people would undoubtedly give anything for that kind of freedom, but as it was, he was so used to them not really understanding or paying enough attention to him that all he could feel was a kind of cold, stale resentment that was as firmly lodged in his heart as his own self-loathing.

He could forget about that for the time being though. Jotaro was laying on his back playing Tetris on Kakyoin’s Gameboy, one knee in the air, and Kakyoin was cross-legged beside him reading a horror novel he’d taken out from the library. They were largely still in their uniforms, though Kakyoin had taken off his jacket and was only wearing the uniform short-sleeved white button-down shirt that Jotaro had mysteriously never acquired. It was quiet in the room for a good while, just the sounds of the night, Jotaro pressing at the plastic buttons, and Kakyoin turning the thin pages of his book.

One might wonder what, exactly, the point was of ‘hanging out’ with someone if you were only going to do something you could well do without them, but the answer was easy and simple. It was the presence of another person in the room, another sound of life, a solid reassurance. It was, really, just like having a cat, but we can keep that between ourselves for now.

After a time, Jotaro dropped his hand and the Gameboy in it down on the futon and let out a sigh. Kakyoin made a noise of agreement, even though he hadn’t said anything, because that was the kind of thing they did, and also treating any slight trace of expression that came from Jotaro equally was the most efficient way to go about actually communicating with him.

“Hey,” Jotaro said after a minute.

“Yeah,” Kakyoin said, not looking up from his book. Jotaro kept silent in a way that meant he was waiting for Kakyoin to look at him, so he said, “Wait a moment,” and finished the paragraph he was reading before setting his book down and turning his attention to his friend. Or, well, boyfriend. He wasn’t used to it yet.

“Was just kinda thinking,” Jotaro said shortly, looking at his ceiling. “Are you even, like… attracted to me?”

Kakyoin batted his eyelashes at him insincerely. “You want me to tell you you’re pretty?”

There was a second where Jotaro just looked up at him, and then, though Kakyoin was fairly sure he hadn’t stopped time, he had no warning before Jotaro was on top of him and attempting to smother him with his pillow. He wasn’t serious about it, obviously, or Kakyoin wouldn’t have been able to pry him away with Hierophant Green, cackling and pressing a foot into Jotaro’s stomach.

“Learn to take a joke, god,” Kakyoin said, still on his back, half off the futon. Jotaro just grunted and settled beside him, one leg folded in front of him, the other propping up his elbow. Kakyoin looked up at him consideringly, said, “I mean. You’re attractive, yeah, but that’s like, more of a statement of fact than my opinion or anything. I see you as my friend first.”

“Hm.” If Kakyoin didn’t know better, he’d said Jotaro looked unmoved, but as it was, he did, and he could tell that he was a little embarrassed by that.

Kakyoin propped himself up on his elbows. “Honestly, I was more attracted to you when we first met. You’re just kinda this big good-looking dork I know, now.” He shrugged, as best he could.

Jotaro wouldn’t look at him. “What do you mean,” he said, in that toneless way of his that could make him sound more demanding but really just meant he was having trouble processing things.

“Are you kidding me? I didn’t really notice when I was fighting you, because of the whole being brainwashed situation, but when I woke up here, you were leaning over me, you had my face in your hands, all focussed on me--”

Jotaro had his head in his hands at this point. “Stop,” he said desperately, which was probably a mistake, given that Kakyoin was an absolute shithead.

He grinned and poked Jotaro in the thigh. “I was like, jesus, who is this guy? Who’d I kill to deserve this? If you could only imagine the state of my little gay heart--” Jotaro made a noise like he could not physically bear to hear any more of this, and Kakyoin took pity on him. “Alright, sorry, but you did ask,” he said, flopping back down. “Anyway, then I saw you have a panic attack over having to kill a shark and you told me about different types of coral for an hour and I was like, oh no okay he’s just kind of a nerd.”

Peeking out at him from behind his fingers, Jotaro said, “Mm. And now you wanna go out with me.”

“I know for a fact I didn’t put it like that.”

Jotaro snorted, sat back against his hands. “I guess we should go on a date?”

Kakyoin made a face at the ceiling, which was definitely not fair considering this whole thing was his idea in the first place. “Yeah. Doesn’t feel real, huh?”

“I mean. It’s been two hours.”

Kakyoin just snorted, and Jotaro got up somewhat laboriously - it must have been such a curse, having so many muscles to carry with you all over the place, Kakyoin felt bad for him - and said, “I’m going out for a smoke.”

He had an ashtray on the desk in his room, and he took it out with him, other hand rifling in his pocket for his cigarettes. Holly knew he smoked, it wasn’t exactly easy to hide, but she also seemed to think there was nothing she could do to stop him, so instead she had a very firm Not In The House rule that Jotaro respected. The house being traditional, most rooms had shoji doors leading on to the engawa, and Jotaro’s room was no different. He slid them open now, and still laying on the floor, Kakyoin asked, “Mind if I come out?”

Jotaro barely paused, pulling a cigarette out of the pack with his lips, mumbling, “Do what you want,” which was about as much of an invitation as he ever gave.

Kakyoin didn’t get up immediately, his outrageously long limbs having made good friends with the floor. Honestly, he hadn’t really expected Jotaro to agree, and was at a bit of a loss as to what one did with their boyfriend. He supposed that their relationship had never really been normal, though, so he might as well do the whole dating thing however he saw fit. Sitting up, he grabbed his Gameboy and stepped quietly out to where Jotaro sat smoking at the edge of the engawa.

Sitting next to him, legs over the edge, Kakyoin asked, “Why’d you agree, anyway?” Looking at him out of the corner of his eye and crooking an eyebrow in amusement, Jotaro opened his mouth, but before he could make the terrible joke he was definitely about to make, Kakyoin said quickly, “Don’t you dare tell me you’re not sure.”

Jotaro snorted. “Spoilsport.” He sat quietly for a moment, looking thoughtfully out at the neat garden that was barely only scantly visible in the dark. “I guess, I thought about it and it seemed like dating you would be easy and comfortable. Seemed nice.”

That had been Kakyoin’s point, too, so he nodded. And then he pressed his shoulder against Jotaro’s and said, quite obnoxiously, “Aw, you mean it wasn’t just because you were captivated by my stunning good looks?”

“I,” Jotaro said, and then stopped, visibly struggling with something for a moment. He took the cigarette out of his mouth and exhaled deeply. He turned a little to look at Kakyoin more properly. “You know,” he said, “sometimes you’re too hard on yourself.”

Kakyoin blinked at him, feeling sort of vacant all of a sudden. “I literally just said I had stunning good looks.”

“You were joking, though,” Jotaro said evenly, and looked away from him again. “You know, you…” He made a face – or, well, more of a micro-expression, really – that suggested that whatever he was going to say next was going to be torn from the depths of his mind almost against his will, even though he was, unless Kakyoin was mistaken, very much in control of his own mouth. “You’re kind of charming in your own way.”

Kakyoin’s heart was beating in his chest. It usually was, and he knew this, but at that moment, he was particularly aware of it, for some reason. He looked out at the garden. “That just means I’m funny looking,” he muttered.

“S’not what I said,” Jotaro grumbled crankily. “I said it in a nice way because I meant it in a nice way.”

“Right,” Kakyoin said uselessly. He bumped their shoulders together again, and stayed there this time. “Thanks.”

Jotaro snorted, looked at him thoughtfully, and then, very slowly and awkwardly as if there was some sort of trap embedded on Kakyoin’s body that he wanted to avoid springing, maneuvered his arm over Kakyoin’s shoulders. Settling against him, Kakyoin shuffled a bit closer along the engawa.

“What’s that for?” It wasn’t as if they had never touched each other, but it wasn’t like Jotaro to be particularly touchy-feely.

He shrugged, putting his cigarette back in his mouth. “Thought I’d try it.”

“Right.” Kakyoin looked down at his hands. “Okay,” he said at a more normal volume than before, “I am definitely going to beat your high score.”

“Good fucking luck,” Jotaro said, and Kakyoin stuck a bony elbow into his ribs, and it was nice. Easy, and comfortable.