Kadokura opened his locker distractedly, only halfway paying attention to the taller boy chatting away by his side. He seemed to be trying to explain the plot to a series he had been watching that excited him, just as he kicked off his shoes to retrieve the ones he wore at school from his own locker. Kadokura couldn’t do anything more than vaguely nod as he observed the inside of his locker, not wanting to really look like he was actively ignoring him as he dipped his hand inside slowly. Usami noticed he wasn’t being listened to, and so he chuckled before inquiring.
“Another letter?” he asked just as Kadokura fetched out a folded piece of paper from inside the small space, face slightly pink.
“Maybe,” he muttered, folding the paper over itself to put it away in his pant’s pocket before focusing on changing his shoes.
“Popular, aren’t we?” the other boy teased him, leaning down to properly fit his shoes. “Aren’t you going to read it?”
“Later,” he said, closing his locker back up. “And I’m not popular. I think it might be the same girl.”
“Oh?” he raised his arched brows, seeing the other boy briefly lock eyes with him.
“The handwriting isn’t too consistent, but I can’t imagine many girls being interested in me. I never see anyone looking my way…” he said in a voice that hinted he had really been giving it some thought, something that made his friend laugh if only briefly.
“You’re getting letters, isn’t that proof enough that you’re popular?” they began to make their way to class, perhaps a bit slower than was really acceptable given the time.
“I don’t know,” he shrugged, “more popular than you, maybe.” He was shoved to the side, strongly enough to nearly lose his balance and bump into someone. “I’m kidding!” he defended himself, seeing Usami’s poorly faked glare.
“You get three letters and you let your ego go through the roof.”
“That’s three more than you,” he smirked, dodging the boy’s hand as he tried to push him again. “And that’s why girls don’t like you, Usami. You’re a brute. They must think you’d hit them, probably,” he said more as a joke than anything, but it made Usami be quiet for a moment. A moment too long, perhaps, which made Kadokura slightly panic. “That was a joke too, I’m sure there’s a girl that likes you. Maybe she’s just shy...”
“They all think I’m weird,” he shrugged, but he was smiling. “That’s okay, though. They’re weird too.” Kadokura snickered at that, liking the way Usami didn’t let his poor luck with the ladies get to him. He was sure it did bother him, but he was probably too proud to admit it. But that was just a guess, and he didn’t really feel like trying to get Usami to admit something like that and ruin his mood. He liked it when he smiled and made jokes and told stories, making their time as friends more pleasant that he would have ever imagined, before actually getting to know him.
Usami had always been more of a troublemaker, but he insisted it was other people’s fault. He said they tried to get on his nerves on purpose, tried to pick fights, only because it was easy to make him lose his temper and not think of the consequences. Kadokura would have never considered it smart to become friends with someone like that, but once they started talking, he found it hard to stay away. He wasn’t as bad as some people made him out to be, specially the teachers. At least not to him. He could be so kind, if he really tried.
Three letters turned into five, and he was beginning to get impatient.
Just who could be sending them? He had been on the lookout for the last couple of days, trying to catch someone staring at him from afar, following him, anything. But there was no one. It was as if this girl was deliberately trying to lay low, and prevent him from finding out who she really was.
He fantasized about her being as cute as her shyness hinted, delicate and feminine, with a gentle smell of flowers about her. A dream-girl, tender and sweet, nothing like the boys he was so used to hanging out with on the daily. Someone he could protect, someone that would cling to him, someone he could have his first kiss with - a sweet, memorable one.
A part of him knew it was silly to expect so much from someone he didn’t know, or from any woman at all. But it also didn’t hurt anyone for him to have these thoughts, and sometimes even voice them to his equally curious group of friends.
But it was at the end of the second month of the letter-affair that he realized it wasn’t as harmless as he originally thought it was.
It had been casualty. Nothing more than a perfectly timed coincidence, as he watched Usami and one of the Nikaidou twins wrestle playfully on the grass in a park near the school, letting out some teenage steam.
He saw something drop from Usami’s pants pockets, and so he made his way towards it after seeing the twin run away from Usami, the boy trailing after him.
He bent down to pick it up, noticing it was a piece of paper, folded in a very familiar way, though slightly more wrinkled than the ones he was used to seeing. He turned the folded paper in his hand, seeing his own name written on it, as was usual in most of the letters he received.
He lifted his eyes, seeing his friends laughing breathlessly as they ran around the park, throwing their backpacks on the grass, and he lowered his eyes back down to carefully open it. Right there, on the stark white printer paper, were the boldest, most serious words he had read from these series of letters yet.
‘I know you want to know who I am, but I need you to be patient. It’s kind of scary. I have never felt like this before, for anyone. I can’t stop thinking about what it’d be like to hold you close and finally kiss you.
I can’t wait to say this to your face, but for now, I’ll settle for writing it... I love you, Kadokura-kun.’
His brows furrowed tightly, feeling the declaration of love to be much too personal like for someone else to have it. It seemed unfair... Like a sincere violation of this person’s privacy, whoever she was, for Usami to have it and surely have read it. He felt offended on her behalf, and felt upset Usami hadn’t given it to him sooner. It didn’t even make sense for him to have it to begin with, and the more he thought of the reasons why , the more upset he became.
“Usami!” he called out to him, not really even knowing what it was that he was going to tell him. He saw the boy turn his face towards him instantly, ignoring whatever the twin told him as he rushed to Kadokura’s side, skin flushed and face moist with sweat from their running. It wasn’t particularly hot, but it seemed the boy got warmed up pretty fast once he got going.
“What is it?” he asked through his heavy breathing, face unsure as he took in Kadokura’s expression.
The shorter boy was barely able to contain the daggers he was throwing at his friend with his eyes, or the visceral impulse of throwing a punch straight to his reddened cheek.
Usami’s eyes widened as he held Kadokura’s fist in his palm right in front of his face, his reflexes no match for Kadokura’s lousy aim. They were both breathing noisily now, Usami still from the strain of exercise, and Kadokura from his frustration alone.
“The hell was that for?” Usami frowned slightly, confused, and Kadokura retrieved his arm to try again with his other hand to no avail. His fist was momentarily held again before he was pushed back roughly, the paper squeezed in his hand ignored. “Hit me and I’ll hit you twice as hard,” Usami warned him through his teeth, the wrinkles in his brow prominent and menacing. It didn’t seem to intimidate Kadokura just yet, though.
“This letter,” he held up the wrinkled paper in his fist, the sweet declaration defiled with rage. “Why did you have it?” he demanded an answer, seeing Usami’s anger vanish abruptly. The look he gave him was between surprise and fear, something that seemed off, but could very well be explained. He was silent as excuses were caught in his throat, trying to buy himself some time. They could feel their friend’s eyes on them, keeping an awkward distance from the scene.
“What?” Usami ended up saying, licking his lips. He could taste the salt from the sweat that had collected above his upper lip, and it gave him a brief distraction from his anxiety.
“It has my name on it. It’s mine. Why did you have it? Why didn’t you give it to me?”
“I was…” he blinked, “I was gonna do it later,” he said with a shrug, looking too nervous like for Kadokura to really believe him.
“Did you read it?”
“Did you read it?” he repeated, patience audibly thin.
“Well… Kinda?” he shrugged again, voice rising in pitch mid-word.
Kadokura gave him one last glare before huffing out a breath, pocketing the letter, walking off to fetch his own backpack from the ground.
“Where are you going?” Usami started to follow him, seeing him not even turn to look at him to reply.
“Home,” he muttered, hearing Usami walking after him, feet hitting the dirt. “Don’t follow me!” he snapped, finally turning to meet his eyes again, seeing a brief look of pain in his friend’s clear, wide eyes.
“... Okay,” he nodded, surprisingly not pushing it. He crossed his arms, observing Kadokura as he kept his stare, before taking off without another word.
The boy spent that afternoon muttering to himself in his room, still annoyed, reading the wrinkled letter over and over until he had memorized it. He was holding it up against the light above his face, his head resting on his arm, and his body laying on his bed. He was analyzing her words, from the way she wrote, to the way she expressed herself. The handwriting barely seemed feminine, but there was an attempt to make it so. He wondered how a person like that would look like, if she was tough on the outside, sweet on the inside, or the opposite. But despite his casual interest in graphology, he knew there was no point in doing this except to distract his mind from how hurt he felt to be betrayed by the person he had considered to be a close friend. He had begun to think he could trust Usami as a friend, but seeing that not even friendship could stop jealousy (or at least that’s what he believed the other boy was feeling) was disheartening. He didn’t want to see him again, didn’t want to speak to him, and willfully ignored the messages he had sent him. He was yet to feel ready to read any apology or explanation, and instead, wanted to wallow in his depressive state and anger before even thinking of giving him another chance.
He heard his name being called from the kitchen, and he sighed before setting the letter down on his pillow, exiting the room to look for his mother.
The kitchen smelled sweet from the mix she was making, and he caught her tidying the bun on her head with freshly washed hands.
“Sweetie, I ran out of milk. Can you go to the convenience store to buy some really quick?” she looked around for her wallet, handing him the money as he replied.
“Oh, and some more flour! I just don’t think I have enough…” she said thoughtfully, and he nodded before leaving her be, grabbing his jacket from the couch and putting on his shoes at the genkan. He exited the house and walked into the chilly night, catching a silhouette out of the corner of his eye.
He took a good look at it before his eyes widened, and with a grunt, he began to make his way to the store hurriedly.
“Kadokura-kun,” Usami called to him hurriedly, beginning to follow him.
“Go home,” he groaned, hands in his pockets.
“I need to talk to you!”
“I don’t wanna talk to you!” he said annoyed, hearing the boy’s footsteps approaching nonetheless. He suddenly saw him in front of him, nearly out of breath as he had ran around him.
“Here,” he extended his hands towards him, holding a folded piece of paper in them. He wasn’t looking at him, eyes stubbornly fixed on the paper he was offering.
“... What is it?” he asked, taking the paper from his hands, receiving no reply. He turned it in his hands, seeing his own name written on it. He opened it, and saw nothing more than a brief sentence written on there.
He looked up at Usami, seeing him finally meet his eyes.
It was dark, the sun having already set a while ago, and the streetlamps weren’t quite enough to help him discern if his face was red, or if it was just the warm glow of the lights bouncing off of his pale skin.
“What does this mean?”
“I’m apologizing…” he said, shrugging.
“What are you sorry for? for feeling jealous of me?” he began, confused and upset, “so jealous that you felt the need to hide that letter from me? how many have you kept? who do you think you are, too, reading them without anyone’s permission-”
“Are you stupid?” he chuckled, but the noise was clearly forced. Kadokura blinked, newly offended.
“No, I’m not. You’re just not being clear. Don’t push the blame on me when it’s you who doesn’t know how to express what you’re even thinking,” he crossed his arms, sourly eyeing a person that was walking by. “So you better start explaining yourself, ‘cause this shit doesn’t cut it.”
Usami sighed exasperated, lifting a hand to bite on his nails before thinking better of it and lowering it back down.
“I wrote that,” he said, motioning to the paper in Kadokura’s hand.
“... Yeah, I know that,” he lifted a brow, thinking maybe he really thought he was stupid enough to not realize that.
“I thought maybe you’d recognize the handwriting...” he chuckled, this time genuine. Kadokura’s expression let him know he wasn’t following at all, and wasn’t too pleased at hearing him laugh. “I wrote that one you have right there, and every letter you found in your locker, too. That’s why I had the one from earlier. I wasn’t keeping it from you, taken from another person, I just hadn’t… Given it to you yet.”
Kadokura blinked a few times, his hand tightening around the paper in his hand slightly.
“To be honest, I was going to leave it in your locker at some point during the day, but I decided not to. It sounded a little too creepy, I think,” he breathed out a weak laugh. “Was that easy enough to follow?” he smiled cautiously, desperately trying to read his friend’s expression. So far, the look he was giving him was starting to make him feel like this all had been a terrible idea.
“... So that was all just a prank you were playing on me,” he let out, visibly hurt. “You’ve been laughing at me behind my back all this time?” his voice nearly broke, the paper now tightly squeezed in his hand, edges digging into his skin. Usami’s eyes widened, realizing the misunderstanding.
“No, you have it all wrong,” he shook his head, stepping closer to him as he reached out.
“Don’t touch me!” he slapped his hand away and took a step back, a single, thick tear forming in his eye before rolling down his cheek heavily. He wiped it off, forcing himself to contain his emotions, not wanting to give Usami the satisfaction of seeing him so worked up. He swallowed the knot in his throat, visibly shaking, words nearly not making it through his mouth. “You’re a monster.”
“Listen to me!” Usami demanded as he gripped the shorter boy’s arm, seeing him stay still, allowing him one last chance to speak if only because of the urgency in his voice. Kadokura could see the insult had hurt him, but he was much too hurt and angry himself like to really care, or want to care.
Usami licked his lips, weighing his options. There wasn’t much he could say that would be quick and easy to fully understand, specially in Kadokura’s already upset state.
He glanced around rapidly, deciding to just show him how wrong he was through actions.
He closed the distance between their faces in the blink of an eye, crushing the other boy’s lips with his own almost painfully, with all the urgency and roughness he had in him.
Kadokura froze in place, eyes wide open, seeing Usami shut his eyes tightly right in front of his. He smelled of the fruity gum he liked so much, his lips chapped and warm, the hand gripping him strong and painful.
Usami pulled back, heartbeat in his ears, face definitely a few shades pinker.
The shorter boy lifted a hand to his own mouth, backing away in disbelief, ears burning hot. His first kiss was nothing like he had dreamed of, nothing like he had expected it to be. It wasn’t sweet, it wasn’t flowery, it wasn’t with a pretty, delicate girl.
Several years down the road, he would still consider it to have been exactly how it should have been, exactly what he needed, and above all, perfect in its clumsiness.
“I…” Kadokura started, shocked, slowly lowering his hand. The words in that letter back at home seemed to dance behind his eyes, from the endless times he read them. He could recite them from memory, tender, sweet and loving. A clear contradiction from the Usami he thought he knew, now standing there, looking like he was experiencing far too many emotions at once. A contradiction that helped him not feel so absolutely stupid for not realizing Usami’s feelings sooner, because how could he have ever known? Specially with how stubborn he was in never considering his admirer to not be a girl, and with how Usami never once even suggested that idea.
“Say something,” Usami nearly whispered.
“I don’t know what to say,” he replied, licking his lips. “I’m not even sure what I’m supposed to be feeling.”
The taller boy nodded, having expected this.
“Take your time,” he said, hearing the other boy huff out a breath.
“Okay, yeah,” he nodded, avoiding Usami’s eyes. “That was weird,” he admitted with a snort, briefly touching his lips with his fingertips yet again. “You really are a brute.”
“I’m sorry,” he chuckled embarrassed, pressing his own lips into a tight line. “I didn’t mean to be so rough. I bet it was unpleasant.”
“No, it was… okay. I think.”
“I’m not sure. It was too quick, and it took me by surprise,” he said, not being able to keep his eyes off of Usami’s mouth. He had never cared to notice before, but he had really pretty lips.
They interrupted each other before letting out a nervous laugh, and Usami remained quiet to allow Kadokura to finish his sentence.
“Can we… try that again? maybe that’ll help me figure out what I’m feeling.”
Usami raised his brows, not being able to help the new giggle that escaped his lips.
“Are you asking me to kiss you again?” he asked teasingly, visibly excited.
“You don’t need to say it, I thought that was obvious,” he grunted, only succeeding in amusing the other further. “Well?”
“Sure. But you need to ask first.”
“I already did.”
“No, be specific. You didn’t like me being vague, now return the favor.”
Kadokura rolled his eyes, knowing that in any other situation he would have told him to go fuck himself. But he wasn’t risking it.
He swallowed thickly, taking a quick look around to make sure there were no strangers on the street, and no curtains were drawn in the silent houses around them.
“Kiss me,” he muttered, bravely keeping his eyes on him, earning him the sweetest grin he had seen on Usami yet.
“If you insist,” he stepped closer, trying to stop smiling as he lowered his face to Kadokura’s, giving him a soft, brief peck on the lips.
Usami could hear the sharp inhale the other did at the contact, Kadokura’s shaky hands reaching out to his friend’s body to hold on to his jacket. The taller boy licked his own lips before continuing, leaning in again to give him a new peck, gentle and sweet, feeling Kadokura’s soft lips trying to move against his, spreading the slight moisture over them.
They parted again enough to breathe, hearts beating faster.
“I feel dizzy now,” Kadokura commented, resting his forehead against Usami’s shoulder. The taller boy chuckled nervously, letting his cheek press against the other’s soft hair as he surrounded him in his arms.
“Me too. But it’s a good dizzy.” Kadokura agreed with a hum, licking his lips over as he closed his eyes. Usami’s warm smell filled his lungs, and he wondered how something he previously had paid no mind to could feel so soothing.
“I’m sorry for saying that awful thing,” he said after a moment, hugging Usami. “I feel like such an idiot.”
“You are an idiot,” he snorted, hearing the shorter boy grunt something he didn’t quite catch. Usami suddenly felt Kadokura’s fingers jab at his sides almost painfully, making him squirm and yelp as he tried to get away desperately. “No, don’t! I’m joking!” he tried to grab his hands as he laughed loudly, seeing Kadokura’s amused face. It was a nice sight, after having seen him so sad and hurt. “You aren’t an idiot,” he let him know, refusing to let go of his hands. “How was my kiss?”
Kadokura retrieved his hands from his, eyeing him before beginning to walk in the direction of the convenience store.
“Eh, I’ve had better.”
“That’s not funny, you liar,” he nagged him, receiving a genuine laugh as a reply. “I know that was your first kiss.”
Kadokura bit his own lip silently, cursing his past self for confessing he had never kissed anyone before. Come to think of it, it had been kind of strange just how curious Usami had been in regards to his love-life... It was all slowly starting to make sense, from the question itself, to the further interrogation about how he'd want it to be like. He remembered he had told him he hoped for something sweet, which he guessed was the reason why he tried his best to be as gentle as possible the second time around. He also realized he had never asked him back.
“Was it your first too?” he asked, feeling slightly embarrassed at the question.
“Of course,” he nodded, following his friend as he shoved his cold hands inside his pockets.
“I’m glad, then,” he smiled playfully, “you’ll never be able to forget about me now.” Usami nodded quietly, briefly pondering his words.
“No one ever believes me when I tell them you can be so weird.”
“Hey, I was trying to be sweet,” he defended himself, but gave his own words some thought. He supposed it could sound just a little wrong.
“Where are we going?” he asked at last, a subtle, serene smile on his lips.
“I, uh. I have to go buy something for my mom,” he replied with a shrug.
“Just some milk and flour. She’s baking a cake.”
“Your mom is my favorite cook. Do you think she’ll be okay with letting me try some?”
“Yeah, of course,” he chuckled, both proud of his mother’s skills, and happy that Usami enjoyed them so much. It was always quite pleasant to have him over for dinner and hear him praise her cooking, sometimes going even a little overboard with it. His mother liked Usami if only because of that, and frequently asked when he'd come over to share a meal again. Something about her own son not knowing how to appreciate things made with love. “You can spend the night too if you want, I still have those clothes you left behind the other day. You can sleep in those.”
“I'd love to!” he said excitedly, his happiness born not only from the fact he’d get to eat something sweet, or spend some more time with Kadokura - he wasn’t about to voice it, but the fact the other boy didn’t seem to have rejected his feelings at all, and what’s more, didn’t even seem to feel awkward or weirded out, was simply wonderful. It surpassed his every expectation. He wasn’t sure what it meant yet, and they’d probably have to talk things out at some point in the near future, but for now, it filled him with so much hope... and so it was enough.