It wasn't a closely held secret that Sly was the more impulsive of the two twins; Sei was a saint compared to the fiery, erratic blue-haired mop. Sly was either scalding hot or freezing cold. Either he wore his emotions on his sleeves or he kept them so tightly bundled up that no one would ever smash through his walls. Either Sly was insanely ecstatic over something or he was raging upset. There was no grey area for Sly, no middle-ground.
So, when Sei arrived back home with Mizuki in tow, holding hands, Sly acted on envious instincts.
And blurted out that he, too, had a boyfriend. In fact, his was much hotter and, in fact, someone Sei knew. When Sei happily probed for details, Sly spewed out the first name that came to mind.
"I'm dating that Rhymer nerd from Chemistry. Noiz."
"This equation isn't balancing."
Sly irritably taps his pencil against the desk. He had been staring at the same worksheet for the past twenty minutes and he was no closer to completing it. With all the classes he had skipped in the past semester, he was banking on acing these assignments. Now, that outcome seemed bleak and the possibility of retaking Chemistry was all too real. If he failed this class, his grandmother, Tae, would certainly kick him out. He had been toying the line for years now, getting into fights and drugs and generally the darkest scenes on Midorijama. But failing a class? It could be the last straw.
"You do realize what kind of bond it forms, right?" Noiz leans over, poking at the chemical symbols, and then says, "You're slow at this."
Sly looks utterly apalled, shoulders hunching up defensively. "Excuse me, brat?"
"Here." Noiz sighs, a bit too dramatically, and yanks Sly's worksheet away from him. Within seconds, he has it completed and he slides it back across the long lab table. "See? It's easy."
"For nerds like you," Sly mumbles and stares down at the paper. Those answers… actually made sense. Screw this kid.
Sly rips his gaze away from the equations and fixes it instead solely on Noiz. "By the way…"
"No what? I didn't even say anything yet…."
"I know," Noiz says, eyebrows lifting up and beyond the line of his fluffy blonde fringe. "The answer is still no."
"Fucking," Sly begins under his breath and jams his foot against the table's leg. He winces.
"Careful." It sounds caring but it's just grating.
"Hold on." Noiz turns away from his lab partner in favor of checking his phone. There's a look of disgruntlement that takes shape and after Noiz clicks his tongue a few times, he shuts his phone, pockets it, and tosses Sly a scandalized stare. "What did you do."
"A lot of things, actually," Sly huffs, not amused, as he leans his cheek against the back of his hand. "What are you referring to this time?"
"Your brother texted me."
"Yeah." Noiz clicks his tongue a second time, eyebrows knitting together. "He said you told him we were dating."
"Yeah. Why would he think that?"
"That's what I was going to ask you. I need a favor. I kind of told Sei I was dating you since he came home yesterday carting Mizuk - you know, that track star a grade above us or whatever - but yeah. He he came home carting him around and parading him like a trophy so I just got annoyed and said I was dating you. To be fair, you're hotter than Mizuki."
It takes Noiz a few moments to process all of that. When he does, he drags the blunt end of his pencil down along his Chemistry worksheet and scoffs. That's it. That's all Sly gets.
"Well, bunny boy? You gonna do me a solid and pretend to date me? We can break up after a week or whatever. I just don't want Sei to think he's the better brother."
"That doesn't make any sense," Noiz finally answers, wrinkling his nose. "I thought you liked your brother."
"Oi, I do, and I'll chop off Mizuki's balls if he so much as hurts him. But Granny always thought I'd be the first one to bring home someone and here's Sei, innocent little perfect Sei, bringing home some hot Phillipino. What was I supposed to do?"
"You always have to be the best," Noiz deadpans. Sly isn't sure if he's amused or not.
So, Sly leans forward, legs tangling around his chair to keep his balance as he invades Noiz's personal space. "Will you help?" he probes, batting his eyelashes a bit too much, a bit too comically.
"What's in it for me?"
"Oi, always with that cold and indifferent expression," Sly mutters under his breath but he doesn't pull away and instead just shakes his head. "I don't know. I'll think of something. Just do this for me. It's not permanent and who knows, maybe people will fear you even more if they think you're banging me."
"I doubt it."
"But you owe me."
"We're not doing this down here."
"No, seriously, we have to, Granny told me."
"Why? We always do it in your room."
"Noiz, we're dating."
"She thinks we are."
"What does that have to do with anything, though?"
"We can't be alone in my room, idiot! She's gonna think we're fooling around!"
It clicks, somehow, and Noiz stares distantly at the binder he's brought over. He had been summoned over to complete the lab report with Sly, but he hadn't anticipated this sort of road block. He was used to coming over a couple times a week to work on Chemistry, ever since the new semester started. They had always gone straight up to Sly's room, after grabbing some donuts along the way, and busted out the work. Well, mostly Noiz worked and Sly put on some crappy music and ranted about this or that. It was sort of their ritual and while they weren't exactly friends, Sly was one of the few people Noiz could tolerate on a daily basis.
To have that sort of routine ripped away was disconcerting. What was even more disconcerting was that the provider of the sweetest donuts in the world thought that her grandson and Noiz were shacking up and now wouldn't allow them any alone time. That was the upsetting part.
"She's not home, though."
"I don't know when she's coming back!" Sly huffs, crossing his arms, leaning against the foyer. "Listen. Sei has the same stupid rules. It's not like she's picking on me or anything."
Noiz settles down at the kitchen table, albeit grumpily. The table is too small, the seats aren't that great, and Sly doesn't even have his computer down here to blast music from. In some sense, it feels like they're even more alone down here than in Sly's bedroom. Noiz digs his toes down, hard, into the soles of his shoes.
"You look freaked out, bunny boy. What's up?" Sly asks as he takes out his homework and jabs it with his pencil. There are hundreds of erase marks and little tiny pencil digs everywhere and it looks like he just needs a new sheet of paper because this one is barely salvageable. Like most things in Sly's short lifetime.
Noiz won't say it, because it's stupid and silly and even "fake dating" doesn't warrant that kind of closure.
"Nothing. Just get the assignment out already."
"We're seriously doing this."
"Noiz, why the hell did you agree to this?"
"Sei asked me."
"Didn't Mizuki ask you, too?"
"Ah…well… Tch. That's none of your goddamn business, and--!"
"People normally go on double dates, right?"
Sly deflates, settling more back into the theater chair. Mizuki had approached Sly earlier that day begging him to agree to go to the movies with him and Sei. Apparently, Tae had declared that the only way either of the brothers were allowed out on dates was if they were on a double date. So, Mizuki's date with Sei was extremely dependent on Sly's compliance. Sei had approached Noiz with the same request, shy and nervous and uneasy. Noiz had caved first, if only because the way Sei's eyelashes fluttered down against his cheeks when he was deep in contemplation reminded Noiz too much of Sly.
And things were getting dangerous.
"At least share your popcorn, if you think this is that much of a date," Sly mutters as he reaches over to shove his fist into the bag Noiz has been guarding.
Noiz looks utterly offended, as if Sly had just slain his first born. "Hey-"
"Don't complain, boyfriend," Sly drawls, shoving the fistful of popcorn into his mouth and then proceeding to chew it obnoxiously loud. He even throws in a groan of pleasure, just for good measure.
They're walking home.
They're walking home and Mizuki and Sei are ahead of then, holding hands. Mizuki's jacket is wrapped tightly around Sei and Sei has his head on Mizuki's shoulder as they walk. Sei's skirt is gently fluttering in the breeze and Mizuki's smile is so damn radiant, even from this far back. They look so happy and Noiz can't help but stare on, both fascinated and envious. He's never been allowed such happiness and he struggles to even understand what it'd be like.
"Aren't your parents worried we're out so late?" Sly asks, trying, strangely, to keep up some sort of conversation that isn't a battle of insults.
"Not really," Noiz says, frowning. He wants to say they wouldn't even notice, wouldn't even care, but he figures that it's just not the time.
"Ok," Sly murmurs, seemingly placated, as they continue to walk.
It's around that time that Sei whips his head back to smile at the pair, opening his lips to say something. Noiz doesn't hear what the "older" brother says because Sly's hand is suddenly very much on his own, warm fingers holding his and then wedging themselves unceremoniously in the gaps between his. Noiz's world short circuits and he can't focus on anything but the way his piercings rub against Sly's too soft skin. Noiz feels like he's on fire and he's never felt this alive, not even during games, not even during immersive MMORPGs, not even masturbating has he felt this euphoric--
And then it's gone.
Sei's turned back around and Sly lets go of his hand like it's on fire. There's a cute redness high on Sly's cheek, but other than that, he still looks grumpy as hell.
They walk back in silence.
And they don't talk about it.
"So, you and Noiz have been dating a month now, huh?"
Mizuki grins at Sly like he's completely enthralled by the conversation, and maybe he is. Mizuki seems like the type to truly invest himself in other people. But Sly isn't that type of person to open up just like that and he avoids Mizuki's gaze. And sure, they're friends, but he isn't ready to make up some lies about Noiz, about his "boyfriend" on the spot. He's just not in the mood today.
"I'm just happy for you, is all," Mizuki says, watching the way the leaves rustle in the trees above them.
Sly frowns and rests his head down on the pillow his folded arms make on the small picnic table. "And you and my brother have been going, what? Three weeks now?"
"Yeah." Mizuki grins, turning his head back to look at Sly. "And, uh, just keep this between you and I, Sly, but it's the happiest I've ever been."
The words shock Sly to the core and he can't help the slight widening of his eyes. "Yeah?"
"Yeah. It feels like the world isn't so bad anymore. It feels like I can do anything, be anything, when I have Sei at my side. It's… I can't describe it." Mizuki chuckles, sheepishly rubbing at the back of his neck, and then he has the tenacity to say, "But you must know what I mean, right? You're dating Noiz."
And Sly's world goes ablaze.
The first time it happens, Sly runs home.
They're sitting outside the arcade. They had finished Chemistry up early and Noiz had offered to buy them a round of Pacman. Sly had laughed at first, but then he quickly realized it was an opportunity to one-up the gamer nerd, so he went along with it. It had been an easy, simple plan, and it was a great way to keep up the facade of their fake relationship in case anyone was snooping around. That was the plan, at least.
Until Sly started to genuinely have fun. That trip had led them to the ice-cream parlor nearby and Noiz had bought them something sweet and cold to eat, since it was so hot out. Sly had put up his hair, grumbled something about Noiz made a comment about how "cute" he looked with it that way, and then refused to acknowledge the compliment beyond that.
It had all been fine.
Until they were about to say goodbye. Noiz had to be somewhere for a group project and Tae was probably wondering where her rowdy grandson had gotten off to. They were saying goodbye and Noiz had started to lean close, had stared too long at Sly's eyes, at his lips. And Sly had started leaning, too. And maybe something actually would have happened had some kid not yelled loudly about dropping his ice cream to snap them out of their stupor.
Sly had excused himself and left in a flustered flurry.
Because Sly Blue definitely didn't kiss people.
And he definitely didn't kiss his fake boyfriend, either.
The second time it happens, they're alone. They're back in Sly's room - because Tae is definitely going to be gone until the next morning - and Noiz is laying on Sly's bed. He's tossing a hackeysack up in the air, quizzing Sly on some Chemistry concepts. Sly's in his computer chair, trying his damnedest to memorize this shit, but he's finding it hard.
And it all becomes harder when Sly's gaze lingers on Noiz because his shirt is riding up and he's so pale and so pretty.
Sly stares too long and Noiz ends up looking over, brow quirked, asking what's wrong.
Sly doesn't really answer and instead heads over to lay beside him, pulling up a Game on his coil to play. It's two-player and it's a great distraction now that Sly can't see the enticing patch of skin on his favorite German.
The game doesn't last that long and eventually Sly starts yawning. And eventually his head comes to rest on Noiz's shoulder, eyes heavy. He maybe even snores before Noiz pokes his side.
"Oi, what?" Sly asks, annoyed, eyes cracking open. They're heavy, so they fall shut immediately after the poor attempt.
"Mm, yeah, so? That's a normal thing."
There's a beat, there's a flush to his cheeks, and Sly laughs rudely. "So what?"
Noiz doesn't answer and they rest like that for awhile. Sly takes a nap and Noiz either naps, too, or just plays some game on his Coil.
A few hours pass and when Sly wakes up, Noiz says he has to head home.
Sly groggily walks him downstairs to the door, making sure he remembers the donuts Tae had left for Noiz incase he stopped by. They're about to say goodbye, with Noiz standing at the door collecting his bag at all, and Sly leans up on his tiptoes. His fingers reach out to glide up on Noiz's shoulder, to make purchase there, and he's just about to lean up fully to kiss him goodnight when he catches himself.
Terrified at the closeness, at his own sleepy idiocy, Sly snaps back and turns his back quickly to Noiz.
"Don't get shanked on the walk home. Night, bunny boy."
And he hurries back upstairs.
Noiz doesn't even have time to ask.
They're up late texting.
They don't ever text, but as of lately, they have been.
It's been about two months of this "fake" dating and what was supposed to be a week has definitely grown into something more. Sly can't remember a time where Noiz didn't text him before bed or right when he woke up in the morning. It's nothing sappy and it's just about Games or the internet, but it's still something and Sly's aggressive behavior in school is tapering. He's so focused on this fake relationship that he's starting to invest himself into it. It's… so weird. And new.
He knows he should be worried when he sends, without thinking, one Sunday night, "I miss you. See you tomorrow though :) "
And he sincerely means it.
Can I ask you something personal?
FROM: SLY BLUE
What happened to your parents?
FROM: SLY BLUE
… they left Sei and I when we were about ten or something. Why?
Do you miss them ?
FROM: SLY BLUE
… No shit. But seriously, why?
I was curious
FROM: SLY BLUE
shitty thing to be curious about.
No, it's not that.
FROM: SLY BLUE
then what is it?
I don't think I'd miss mine.
FROM: SLY BLUE
Don't worry about it.
FROM: SLY BLUE
come to think of it, you haven't even introduced me to them yet. rude.
You wouldn't want to meet them.
FROM: SLY BLUE
yeah? sorry to hear that. i'm sure they're dickwads, then. especially if they're bad to you or w/e. you're such a great person and you don't deserve that so… i'm sorry.
FROM: SLY BLUE
uh, bunny boy?
FROM: SLY BLUE
FROM: SLY BLUE
helllloooooooo??? asshole don't tell me you fell asleep!
FROM: SLY BLUE
you didn't even say goodnight.
FROM: SLY BLUE
….. not like you have to but …
FROM: SLY BLUE
asshole where'd you go?
INCOMING VIDEO CHAT FROM NOIZ. ACCEPT OR DECLINE?
The screen cuts on and Sly squints groggily at it. It's probably eleven or midnight already and they really need to get to sleep before school the next morning. Noiz is sitting there, in the dark, in what looks like a living room of some sorts.
"Noiz, I can't talk," Sly whispers, annoyed, biting his bottom lip.
"They don't live here."
"What?" Sly hesitates, nose wrinkling, staring at the screen. "Who doesn't live where?"
"My parents. They don't live here. They're back in Germany. I live here alone."
Sly's stomach and heart drop and he almost throws up. The idea, the very idea, of being that alone, even with how much hate Sly harbors for people, makes him want to curl in on himself. He winces, actually physically winces, and looks away from his webcam. He had no idea. This whole time Noiz never invited him over, never had his parents show up to any events. Sly feels sick. He should have realized it long ago.
"Yeah…?" Sly is quiet and he hesitantly looks back to the screen. Sly Blue isn't hesitant, Sly Blue isn't attached to anyone. Sly Blue isn't… "So, why haven't I been over, then?"
It's a loaded question, a heavy one, and Sly almost licks his lips waiting for an answer.
The next thing he knows, his phone is beeping with an address.
"Come over now."
When Sly arrives, he isn't sure why he feels so nervous. He's been in this pseudo relationship with Noiz for months and while they've gotten to be close friends, it's not like late night visits mean anything. Not like they would for normal couples. Not like they would for people like Mizuki or Sei. So when Noiz opens the front door, eyes heavy and staring right into Sly's soul, he can't control what he does next.
Without warning, Sly shoots forward and slams his hands up on Noiz's shoulders, lifts up on his toes, and smacks their lips together. His whole body leans against Noiz and he moves his lips in desperate eagerness, breath hot and heavy and weak from racing all the way over here. It's a few seconds before Noiz responds, soft, so soft, lips moving below Sly's. And it's even longer before Noiz's hand comes to rest on the back of Sly's head - gently - threading into his softer hair and he licks Sly's lips.
"Hey," Sly pants into the kiss, eyes half lidded as he stares up at his boyfriend, "Can we talk?"
Noiz kisses him again, harder, and it tastes like home, takes like promise and something Noiz has never been allowed. It tastes like the looks Sei and Mizuki exchange, and it tastes like the beginning of something tragically flawed.
"It's about time…. Let's talk."