Yatora had found himself strangely aware of Yotasuke, recently.
It was odd how much their relationship had changed in a relatively short amount of time, Yatora thought. He’d had this… well, a rivalry felt too strong, almost, for how he considered the other boy, but there was something about Yotasuke that always ignited a drive in Yatora, whether that was to improve and succeed or to wallow in self-pity for as long as he could allow.
They didn’t share many classes, despite their shared department, but they’d been gravitating towards each other during lunch breaks or whenever they happened across each other on campus. It was unspoken, a silent agreement, that if one found the other and they both had time to spare, they’d share it together.
It had started off fairly awkward, especially as Yotasuke rarely responded or simply hummed in response to Yatora’s rambling, but perhaps that had just been Yatora projecting his own inner turmoil onto Yotasuke; he knew well enough that if Yotasuke didn’t want to be around him, he’d leave.
And so far, he hadn’t.
Their routine meetings meant Yatora had been seeing more of Yotasuke than ever, and whilst he’d always been painfully aware of Yotasuke and his talent, this time it was… different, somehow.
Yotasuke’s diminutive height, the way he held his paintbrush and pencils, his overwhelming skill—they were all known facts, and nothing Yatora hadn’t noticed before. But now, when he glanced down and saw the top of Yotasuke’s dark head hovering about his shoulder, or the way his fingers curled around a paintbrush, some part of him buzzed in contentment, and Yatora had no reasonable explanation for why that was.
More importantly though, was that Yatora been paying close enough attention that he could tell there was also something different about Yotasuke himself.
He’d relaxed considerably over their first year at Geidai, growing increasingly more comfortable with social situations to the point even Hashida had seemed surprised when they met up. He complimented Yatora’s art as often as he pointed out flaws, and he’d even started offering Yatora a sip of his cool tea on hotter days.
And the staring. Yatora swore that whenever they were in the same room, he would glance over at Yotasuke and find the other boy already looking at him, or his hair swinging like he’d turned away before he could be caught.
Yatora had worried endlessly he somehow had paint stuck to his face or in his hair, but whenever he asked Yotasuke gave a shrug and said he was fine. It was enough to drive Yatora crazy, but he’d accepted it as yet another one of Yotasuke’s quirks and forced himself to move on, figuring it would come to a head eventually.
And come to a head, it did.
They were eating lunch outside, as the cafeteria was too crowded to find a table, and the crisp autumn air was thick with the smell of crushed leaves and promise of roasted chestnuts.
The two sat in silence, Yotasuke sipping idly at a thermos of miso soup while Yatora munched on hot curry bread, occasionally meeting the glances Yotasuke was throwing his way with one of his own.
Soon, Yotasuke finished his soup and set the thermos down decisively, turning to face Yatora on the bench.
“Yaguchi-san,” he said, “I have something to tell you.” Yotasuke’s eyes skittered back and forth between Yatora and the ground.
“O—Oh?” said Yatora, and tried to quell the slow increase of his heart, fighting his instinctual need to assume the worst. “Sure!”
Yotasuke fidgeted, one hand tugging at his customary check shirt beneath his hooded jacket. He seemed nervous; he probably wasn’t going to tell Yatora he didn’t want to hang out anymore, no matter what Yatora’s anxiety believed, but there were any number of possible reasons Yotasuke could be feeling nervous. If he had an issue with Yatora’s latest artwork, he’d tell him straight, right?
“I—” Yotasuke took a deep breath, and turned to look Yatora head-on. “I like you, Yaguchi-san,” he said, and Yatora froze.
“What?” said Yatora, feeling like all the blood in his body had rushed straight to his face. “You— what?!” Had he misheard?
“I like you,” repeated Yotasuke, and Yatora blinked, flummoxed.
Both Yatora’s mind and heart were racing, because— wow, his first time being confessed to! And it was Yotasuke. Yotasuke, the artist whose work he admired most, whose skill was endlessly aggravating and inspiring, whose company he was drawn towards, who Yatora couldn’t help find both fascinating and frustrating in the same breath.
…Yotasuke, who was still sitting before him, probably waiting for a response from the person he just confessed to while said person freaked out internally and left him hanging.
“I— um,” Yatora managed to choke out, voice stuck in his throat. “Yotasuke, I—”
While Yatora struggled to voice his jumbled up thoughts, something in Yotasuke’s expression changed. “Oh,” he said, and looked away, hands laced together tightly in his lap. “I see.”
Wait, no, Yotasuke thought he was being rejected! And that wasn’t— it was just that Yatora had never thought about Yotasuke like this before, had no clue he was even interested. He needed more time to process this, to rehearse a script, but there was no way he could let Yotasuke go on thinking he’d been turned down before Yatora even made up his mind; he needed to say something, stat.
Yatora ran a trembling hand through his hair, hoping he didn’t look as frenzied as he felt. “Yo—Yotasuke-kun, hold on, I— thank you, for confessing, I—” arghhhh not what he meant to say, he sounded so full of himself— “I mean, um, wow! I feel, uh, honoured, um—” he was just digging himself deeper now, shut up! “—I’m not rejecting you, I promise, I’m just really, really surprised, I don’t even know what to say!” he finished.
The silence that followed in the wake of his mortification had Yatora burying his face in his hands, his skin burning so hot he thought his cheeks would melt off. Yatora felt like such an asshole; Yotasuke confessed to him and all he did was say thank you and ignore him so he could wallow in his embarrassment?
It took a moment, but Yatora forced himself to glance at Yotasuke through the crosshatching of his fingers, and wasn’t surprised by what he saw. Yotasuke looked equally bewildered and terribly unimpressed, his brows pinched together over wide eyes.
“Yaguchi-san, do you need the nurse?” he asked, and Yatora burst into shocked laughter.
“S-sorry,” he gasped, “I’m okay, I promise, you just really threw me for a loop.”
“Hm,” said Yotasuke, his shoulders relaxing. “I expected you to reject me immediately. I didn’t think you’d freak out.”
Yatora let out a snort. “Guess I’m full of surprises, huh.”
Yotasuke shrugged, gazing out at the damp grounds, and they slipped into a brief silence.
“I suppose I don’t get why, is all,” Yatora spoke into the cool air.
“…What do you mean, why?”
“I mean— why would you even like me?”
Yotasuke frowned. “Are you saying I shouldn’t like you for some reason? Don’t insult me and my taste by acting like you’re not worthy,” he said bluntly.
Yatora winced. Ouch.
“And—” Yotasuke looked away, and Yaguchi saw his ears were tinged pink. “There’s plenty of reasons to like you, Yaguchi-san. You’re cool. And nice. You’re good at painting. And you were my first friend.”
“We’re— friends?” said Yatora haltingly.
A splotchy blush appeared on Yotasuke’s cheeks. “You said we were,” said Yotasuke slowly, like he’d regretted saying it in the first place.
“We— we are!” said Yatora, rushing to placate him. “I just didn’t think you’d, um, ever say it. Or that you’d confess,” he finished quietly.
Yotasuke watched Yatora with keen eyes. “I did. And you said you weren’t rejecting me.”
Yatora’s heart thumped in his chest. In the moment he’d felt overwhelmed and unsure of how to respond, blurting the first thing that came to mind to stop Yotasuke from being disappointed, but if he wasn’t rejecting him then—
That only left one option, didn’t it?
The way Yatora kept noticing Yotasuke’s height, or the way he held his paintbrush. The way he liked having Yotasuke near him, and sought him out to make it happen. The way he could only have known Yotasuke was looking at him if he’d been looking at Yotasuke himself.
“I think I like you,” Yatora said, almost awed at his discovery.
Yotasuke let out a tiny huff of laughter, and Yatora spun to look at him. Yotasuke was giggling almost silently into his fist, amusement dancing in his eyes. “I can’t believe it took me confessing for you to realise that,” he snickered.
Yatora watched him laugh, warmth spreading through his chest. Cute, Yatora thought, and felt a flush paint its way across his cheeks.
“Yotasuke-kun,” Yatora said, waiting for Yotasuke’s hum before he continued, clearing his throat. “If we both like each other, do you— uh. Do you, um, want to try dating, then?” he asked hesitantly, scratching at his ear.
“Yeah, okay,” said Yotasuke with a nod, and shuffled closer on the bench. “I’d like that.”
“Cool,” said Yatora, dazed with how quickly the other boy had agreed. “Wow.”
“Wow indeed,” said Yotasuke, and dropped his head onto Yatora’s shoulder.
Yatora’s flush deepened impossibly, his shoulder burning where Yotasuke’s head was resting. Slowly, carefully, Yatora lowered his head until his cheek was resting against Yotasuke’s crown, and didn’t dare relax until Yotasuke had settled into his side.
Yatora had to close his eyes to contain the rush of excitement that flooded his veins, grinning helplessly with satisfaction; he had a boyfriend, and it was Yotasuke.
They both jumped when someone laughed nearby, and Yatora was surprised to notice the steady stream of students from a nearby building. Had they been sitting together for that long?
Yotasuke pulled away and flipped his mobile open to check the time. “I have to get to class,” he said, and quickly packed his things back into his bag. He stood, brushing the seat of his jeans, and looked back at Yatora. “Will you walk with me?”
“Yes!” Yatora said, almost too loudly, and sprang off the bench, almost stumbling in his haste to catch up to Yotasuke. “That’s one of my duties now. Walking my boyfriend to class,” said Yatora, and a huge grin spread across his face.
“You’re weird,” said Yotasuke bluntly, but he still reached out and wrapped his little finger around Yatora’s.
Yatora beamed, tucking Yotasuke’s hand more fully into his own. “Yeah, but you like me,” he said giddily, swinging their entwined hands back and forth.
Yotasuke glanced up at Yatora through his bangs, a small smile curving across his face. “Yeah,” he said. “I do.”