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might have finally fallen

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aoki and ida dressed in black with fic title

 

 

 

aoki almost falls over, in such a rush to explain to ida that the cupcake hashimoto had given to him had been leftovers, and not a confession.

ida doesn’t ask any questions, but as soon as aoki mentions having tasted hashimoto’s baking, ida’s always-intense stare becomes fixed, and as usual, when he finds himself on the receiving end of that, aoki’s mouth starts running like a faucet, his heartbeat hot on its heels.

ida doesn’t say anything, when aoki has stuttered and spluttered his way to something like a halt, but aoki doesn’t think it’s just his wildly overactive imagination playing tricks on him when he thinks he sees something settle back down in ida’s eyes, almost like his bristles have been soothed smoothe again.

because it seemed for all the world like ida had bristled.

at the thought of hashimoto confessing to aoki. because of the idea of someone else liking aoki.

aoki stands next to ida, his hands still trembling some - enough that he has to stuff them into his pockets to keep from embarrassing himself - and almost falls to the ground all over again, when he finds himself wondering if ida is jealous. over him.

he risks a glance at ida, a quick sideways slide of his eyes that feels dangerous to him, somehow, and finds ida looking down at the floor in front of them, his face set in solemn contemplation. he doesn’t exactly look happy, and that makes aoki’s heart race.

when hashimoto and akkun reach out towards aoki in tandem and make to tow him away together, bickering already brewing between them about snacks, ida’s hands twitch at his sides before he balls them into fists.

aoki allows himself to be dragged away, because he really doesn’t have any choice in the matter, but hours later he’s still thinking about that look in ida’s eyes, and the fractured, stilted jerk of his hands.

ida. jealous. because of aoki.

it’s just a thought.

and because of it, aoki doesn’t sleep a single wink that night.

 

 

*•.¸♡ ♡¸.•*

 

 

the very next day, however, hashimoto brings aoki (and only aoki) a steamed bun for breakfast, and aoki startles so hard he nearly falls off his chair, but recovers quickly enough to throw himself down on top of the offending bun like it’s a grenade. ida shouldn’t see this. ida mustn’t see this, lest he be driven into a jealous rage.

aoki smiles to himself, even though he tries not to - or spares a fraction of a second to think about how he probably should, at least - and folds himself further over the bun like it’s something precious. something very dear to him.

but when he dares to look across the room to where ida sits in his new seat, ida isn’t looking back at them at all. he’s reading, and aoki doesn’t recognize the book, which means it’s voluntary reading, at that.

aoki pouts around every mouthful of the warm, delicious bun, and thinks about how much sweeter it had been, to feast on the thought of ida’s jealousy. the mouth-watering premise alone, of ida feeling something like possessive of aoki; wanting him all to himself.

after brooding through most of the morning, aoki works himself up into something like a frenzy, and during break when ida stands up from his desk and turns towards the back of the classroom, coming to seek aoki out like always, aoki scoots his chair across the aisle until he’s sitting close enough by hashimoto’s side to startle her.

she flicks him a quick look, thankfully one that says ‘what are we doing?’ instead of ‘just what in the world is wrong with you?’ and a couple of minutes later, she gamely lets the side of her hand brush against aoki’s where they’re lined up on the desk and in full view of ida. and ida looks right at where they’re still almost touching, but absolutely nothing happens on his face. his stare is - for once - almost blank.

and just like that, aoki sees ida’s jealousy for what it actually is.

all his own fantasy.

everything aoki eats for the rest of the day, for most of that week in fact, tastes utterly flavorless.

 

 

 

 

the rest of the class is still in a baking frenzy, preparing for their chance to confess on the day most likely to guarantee their success in love.

the day - the very concept of confessing, of success, of love - has been soured for aoki, but that doesn’t mean he’s able to begrudge anyone else their pursuit of happiness.

and so he goes with it, when half the girls in his class flock around his desk after school, and once he stands up from it, gather him up to tow him away to the kitchens.

it’s rewarding, to help them, and after a while the nervous, anxious excitement that they’re all buzzing around in a cloud of starts to taste almost sweet to aoki, where he thinks it should taste tart, given his own position in all of this. his very own utterly hopeless romance.

when ida shows up in the corridor, probably killing time before practice, he smiles at aoki like he’s not even aware that aoki can see him; like he’s observing him somehow in secret, when both aoki and every girl in the room looks to him as soon as he shows up. the girls rush to cover their cakes and buns and cookies and sweets, seeing a boy lurking out in the corridor and not pausing to check whether it was the object of their affections or not. but as soon as they see that it’s ida, a couple of them giggle and then one by one they all get back to work; seemingly satisfied to be observed by him, knowing he isn’t here for them.

he’s here for aoki, ostensibly.

he’s here for aoki, and still, aoki doesn’t have anyone to bake for. doesn’t have any reason to think that anything he could make or offer (or say) (or do) would appeal him to ida.

because they’re dating, or something like it. they’re figuring it out. they’re giving it a shot.

but ida watches aoki get dragged away, manhandled across the kitchen and then pushed away into the arms of another girl who needs his help, and still ida only smiles like no one can see him doing it, like maybe he himself doesn’t realize what his face is doing.

after a while he disappears, is simply gone from the corridor when aoki glances up from his work - not to check if ida is still there, not to see if ida is still smiling, definitely not to measure ida’s reaction when hashimoto pulls him into a hug - and he goes he way he came; without a sound.

without a word.

without a hint of jealousy, watching aoki get set upon by a pack of excitable, tactile girls who do not hesitate to touch aoki, who don’t even hesitate to do it in front of ida.

and why would they?

why should they?

ida isn’t jealous.

ida has no reason at all to be jealous, over someone he doesn’t like or want to keep for himself.

they’re working on it, they’re trying it out, but aoki sees now that the answer has already been found.

ida isn’t jealous.

ida doesn’t want aoki all to himself.

ida doesn’t care at all about who touches aoki or when or how or why, and he makes no move to change how he himself touches aoki - or doesn’t; hasn’t, won’t - at all.

and so it is clear to aoki.

ida mustn’t want him at all.

 

 

♡ 🧁 ♡

 

 

they’re studying together in ida’s room, and aoki can still feel the heat of his flushed cheeks after ida’s stunt while changing his shirt.

“such a shameless owner you have, mametarou,” aoki complains to the dog, who is lying between them where they sit cross-legged next to one another, his head in aoki’s lap as he sleeps the afternoon away.

ida doesn’t look up from his notes, but one corner of his mouth lifts into a smile, and it’s a terrible thing, aoki thinks, to be in love with someone who doesn’t even like you. not the way you want them to. not the way you’d like to be liked.

“maybe i should take you home with me,” aoki says to the still sleeping mametarou, just to have something to say, because he feels filled to bursting with something. with the aching weight of all of this nothing, maybe.

“take me home with you instead,” ida says, so low that aoki thinks he imagined it, until he looks up and finds ida looking back at him, closer than he’d been a moment ago. close. too close.

“take me home with you and teach me some manners,” ida continues, that terribly (wonderfully) serious expression on his face, and aoki already knows that he’s going to cry about this later, even before he’s scrambling away across the floor to hide behind a curtain about it right now.

ida laughs at him outright now, apparently delighted by the spectacle that is aoki driven to near madness by ida’s audacity.

mametarou, so rudely awoken from his nap and clearly unhappy about it, slinks across the floor to curl up at aoki’s feet where he stands, still trembling slightly from whatever it was that had zipped through him like the sizzle of a lightning strike, at ida talking to him that way. at ida saying such things to him.

it’s only reminding himself that ida doesn’t mean it, not really, not the way aoki wishes he did, that makes it seem safe for him to return to where he’d been sitting, far enough away from ida that he’s out of reach. more for ida’s sake than aoki’s, because aoki isn’t stupid enough to think that ida wants to touch him, but he still likes ida so much that that doesn’t cut away aoki’s desire to touch him, the way it should. the way it would, if aoki was a good person. one sideways glance at ida’s profile, and a lingering look at ida’s big, strong hands is more than enough to remind aoki that he’s not a good person at all.

again, mametarou follows, flopping down now mostly in aoki’s lap.

“even your dog likes me more than you do,” aoki mutters, mostly to himself, quiet and miserable about it. his mood doesn’t improve when ida looks sharply at him in something that seems to aoki to be disapproval.

“mametarou mopes for hours, when you leave,” ida says, intense about it the way he is about literally everything, and missing the point entirely, as usual. “mametarou loves you very much. and why wouldn’t he.”

in aoki’s lap, mametarou whuffs softly in his sleep like he’s agreeing, and aoki sighs, running his hands through mametarou’s fur, careful not to wake him.

being beloved by his crush’s dog is probably the best aoki can hope for, after all.

when it’s time for aoki to leave, mametarou trails after them down the garden path, and even goes so far as to bark at ida, when he hands aoki his backpack, having insisted on carrying it out for him, and then lingering too long, too close as aoki puts it on. it’s confusing to aoki, but it’s downright offensive to mametarou for some reason, who barks at ida like he’s encouraging him to do something. to get away from aoki, probably, and it’s almost a pity, aoki thinks, that ida doesn’t seem to need any extra encouragement to do that.

when they say goodbye, mametarou huffs mournfully and well, aoki consoles himself as he trails slowly home, at least someone is jealous over him.

 

 

♡ 🐕 ♡

 

 

akkun is an idiot.

he’s aoki’s best friend, and aoki loves him dearly.

but he is also - and very much so - an idiot.

“i have never come so close to death,” akkun is recounting dramatically, half collapsed back against the shoulder of a suddenly in-turmoil seeming hashimoto.

“oh stop it,” aoki scolds, reaching out to slap lightly at akkun’s illustratively flailing hands and using this distraction to akkun’s attention to look to hashimoto and silently ask if she would like for aoki to remove akkun from her person. the non-verbal daggers she glares at him in threat work very well in communicating her response.

“i’m serious!” akkun yelps, still flailing, “ida almost rended me limb from limb. i very nearly didn’t live to see tomorrow! imagine,” he pretends to faint, basically in hashimoto’s lap now. she is very pink in the face, and aoki is pleased for her. he’s jealous, and as usual, he is the only one who is. “a world without me. how could you go on? how would you live?”

“in peace,” aoki mutters darkly, scowling about as fervently as hashimoto’s attempts to keep all expression from her face are, “in peace and quiet, in a world where everything made sense and no one was needlessly annoying. not to mention wrong. did i tell you already how very wrong you are?”

aoki knows he did, but he also knows it bears repeating. akkun doesn’t tend to get things on the first try.

“i know what i saw,” akkun persists, even in the face of the very obvious - which is that aoki could marry someone else in front of ida, and ida would only frown at him mildly and handsomely, “the very second i grabbed your hand instead of the homework pile, i could feel ida trying to kill me with his eyes, even though it was obviously a mistake.”

and obviously, it was. because who would willingly want to hold hands with aoki? no one. certainly not ida. so why would he care who else did?

“you’ve got an overactive imagination,” aoki delivers his diagnosis kindly, and for free. and not for the first time, either. he’s a very good friend. he has tried to be a good boyfriend too, but he has obviously failed miserably in that. “plus, you try to make literally everything romantic. except for the stuff that actually is genuinely meant in a romantic way.”

hashimoto’s still pink and carefully blank face sharpens in an instant, and aoki finds himself wondering if he’s about to rended limb from limb, before he’s saved from what would be an embarrassingly ironic ill fate by akkun, who steps in heroically. and also accidentally. of course.

“everything is romantic, if you can only learn to see the world through eyes of love like mine, my dear aoki.”

his near violent obliviousness, and the fact that he can be so guilty of it when he’s all but in poor hashimoto’s arms seems to finally be too much for her, and she stands up suddenly and unforgivingly, smiling grimly when akkun falls to the floor in a heap in front of them.

“i have to go,” is all she says before she’s walking away without a backwards glance, and aoki hears loud and clear that what she means is ‘i have to be somewhere that is not here.’ and he very strongly identifies with that sentiment, himself. especially lately.

“you’re so clueless, akkun,” aoki sighs, helping his friend up off the ground and somehow resisting the urge to grab hold of him and physically shake some sense into him. or maybe hold him down and choke the obliviousness out of his dear friend. whatever works.

as aoki is helping akkun dust himself off, ida walks up to them, coming to stand wordlessly beside them. he looks on wordlessly still as aoki brushes dust and lint and god knows what else from the front of akkun’s sweater, and seems entirely unperturbed when akkun spins on his heel to look back at it while he orders aoki to pat dirt off the parts of his butt he can’t see himself.

“don’t hurt me, ida-kun,” akkun pretends to beg, but it’s aoki who ends up getting his feelings hurt when ida just looks blankly at him, clearly totally confused.

so that’s great.

another day for the record books that will come to compose the annals of ‘aoki + ida: the greatest love story ever told.’

or not.

yeah. definitely not, aoki thinks, as he trails after akkun and ida on their way back to class.

akkun grabs ida in a friendly-seeming headlock as they scuffle their way through the classroom door, and once again aoki marvels at the wonder that is the world’s most patient person. and then he curses himself for his own stupidity, because that’s exactly what a situation that sees him dating ida has to be rooted in.

if only aoki hadn’t confessed to ida before he’d even actually liked him.

if only, if only, aoki had had the good sense to fall in love with someone who would just outright tell him ‘no.’

hashimoto has her head buried in a book at her desk, and doesn’t look up at them as they come in.

right before ida departs for his side of the classroom, aoki thinks he feels a feather light touch pressed gently to the small of his back. but it’s a tiny thing. so hesitant, and gone before aoki can even fully register it, and only ida had been behind him, so aoki knows he imagined it. nothing about ida is uncertain. he’s calm and serious and methodical, and everything he undertakes he broaches with focus and sureness. even not knowing whether or not he could date aoki has been something he’s given his all to. because that’s just the kind of person he is.

ida is the kind of person who knows what he wants.

and if for some reason he doesn’t, he sets about doing whatever it takes to find out.

it’s actually really attractive, how focused ida gets. not to mention his concentration face, which is kind of the only face he has. sucks for aoki that he’s really into it.

sucks even more for aoki that ida isn’t into him.

 

 

♡ 🍑 ♡

 

 

standing at the side of the volleyball court, aoki gets the distinct impression that the rules of the game aren’t the only thing he doesn’t understand about what’s happening here.

“to ida! pass to ida!” the team seems to be yelling at one another, and like - a lot. even when other members of the team are in a better position or seem better placed to score, they work as hard as they can to pass the ball to ida as often as is possible, and pretty often when it’s not possible, too.

ida, for this part in this, only rolls his eyes a couple of times, which is the biggest expression of emotion that aoki has ever seen from him.

in the end, ida scores like a hundred and fifty goals or whatever it is that you score in volleyball, and is pink in the face by the time the game ends and he can come and stand on the sidelines. aoki must have accidentally chosen to stand where the team tends to gather, because the rest of them follow ida to stand around panting near aoki, so that’s embarrassing. for aoki, as usual.

“um … good game! great … volleyballing,” aoki says, making enthusiastic little victory fists, because akkun’s idiocy is obviously catching.

aoki is left in no doubt of this when the entire volleyball team grins at him near maniacally. even ida’s comparatively tiny smile makes aoki want to collapse to the court floor in shock. god, he’s so pretty. he’s flushed and sweaty still and he’s bent over with his hands on his knees, looking up at aoki for once, and smiling at him with his arms all bare and aoki can feel his own jaw drop, but he’s tragically unable to do anything about it. he’s so into ida that it has made him dumb in brand new ways, and that’s really not the kind of growth aoki had been pursuing, here.

thankfully, he’s saved from death by mortification by toyoda throwing his arm around aoki’s shoulders companionably.

“thank you for coming, aoki,” he says, still smiling at aoki like he’s genuinely delighted to see him; like he’s very pleased for some reason that he’s here. “you won us the game, by coming to watch! you have to keep supporting us, okay?”

aoki is baffled by all of this, but agrees anyway, because it’s always nice to feel wanted. even if it’s not by the object of one’s affections.

even if the object of one’s affections is standing idly by and watching one get manhandled by his own best friend, right in front of him. and doing nothing but smiling about it, still. what exactly does ida have to be so happy about, in all of this? is he really this pleased about winning the match? they win like … all the time. maybe ida doesn’t usually play quite so central a role in the victory as he had today, but still - aoki has never seen him this happy.

“you had a good game, huh? you had fun today?” aoki asks, as they walk home together, ida insisting on walking aoki to his place, even though it’s in the exact opposite direction from his own house. the adrenaline is obviously still messing him up.

“today was the best,” ida says, soft about it in a way that aoki doesn’t understand. all big serious eyes like the game today had some bigger meaning that aoki isn’t getting. was it a qualifying match for a tournament or something?

“okay,” aoki says when they arrive at his front door, “thanks for walking me home. you uh - you played well today. you looked great out there.”

what aoki doesn’t add - for his own sake alone - is that ida looks great always, to him. that every time aoki looks at him, he comes to like him more some how, and he’s terrified that it’s always going to be this way for him; this rush of feeling that grows and grows and grows into something that he’ll only ever be alone in, because ida doesn’t see him the same way.

“thank you, aoki,” ida says, and again he says it like he’s saying something much bigger, much more important somehow, and again and again and again, aoki is lost.

“bye, then,” aoki says, because he can’t think of what else to say. because he’s afraid that if he stays standing here with ida much longer, he’ll say something stupid like ‘every time i look at your lovely smiling mouth, all i can think about is kissing you.’

when aoki gets inside and upstairs, he looks out the window and finds that ida is still outside. he seems to be pacing back and forth, actually, and it’s sweet, aoki thinks. it’s cute, how winning his game has given ida all this extra energy and no way to get rid of it.

maybe next time, he and aoki can take mametarou for a run, after ida’s game.

maybe it will hurt less to spend time with ida, if aoki gets to cling to the fact that even though ida doesn’t like him or love him, he’s prepared for some reason to keep aoki around and allow him to be part of his life, nonetheless.

it has to be enough, getting to know ida without ever getting to really have him.

that will have to be enough, because aoki never had the option of more.

 

 

♡ 🏅 ♡

 

 

it’s a tuesday.

and all day long it has seemed like a downpour is due at any moment.

it’s not exactly unheard of for it to rain on a tuesday, so aoki doesn’t think those specifics have anything to do with how the universe has decided to take a turn at absolute lunacy.

he has no idea what to say. he’s not at all prepared for it. he had no reason to see it coming.

all he’d done was stop to say hello to a neighbourhood senior on their walk home from school, and now ida is frowning hard enough that he actually looks almost angry. he’d been nothing but polite while aoki chatted away with ren. maybe he’d been a little quiet, but wasn’t ida always quiet? he says the things that are important to say, but he’s never been one for small talk, which makes him and aoki a pretty perfect pair as far as aoki can see, because aoki has never met a silence he didn’t want to fill, and ida is the only person he’s ever met who never seems to get mad at him for running his mouth. he wonders now if he’s gotten that wrong, on top of everything else. if ida maybe in fact hates how chatty aoki is, and is annoyed at having to stand by his side while he caught up with someone ida doesn’t know.

“did - is something the matter?” aoki asks, trying to be delicate about it, because maybe ida ate something bad for lunch? maybe he’s not feeling well? because nothing about anything his face is doing suggests that he is currently okay.

“what did you just say?” ida doesn’t really ask, but demands. he has stopped walking, and now puts a hand around aoki’s elbow to drag him to a halt, too. “who did you say that was?”

aoki is so, so confused.

“meguro ren? my … my handsome neighbourhood senior?”

does ida know ren too? did they have a falling out, or something? how would that even have occurred? aoki can feel the confusion coloring his face comically, but most of the facial expressions he makes are pretty comical, so he doesn’t try to shield ida from this. he’s seen aoki at his very worst already, after all. aoki really doesn’t have any pride left to lose.

“do you like him?” ida once again demands, and it seems like he’s getting more upset with every question, which kind of makes aoki not want to answer at all, but he also really needs to figure out what’s going on here so he can fix it, somehow.

“of course i like him. he’s kind and he’s handsome and he took the blame when i kicked a soccer ball through his mother’s kitchen window when i was 12. who wouldn’t like someone like that?”

ida drops his hand from aoki’s arm and takes a step back from him; gasps like he has been slapped.

“then what are we doing, aoki?” he asks, quiet again, but not in a way that puts aoki ease. the look on his face has changed, at last, but his anger has been replaced by hurt, and aoki is baffled. “why are you dating me, if you like him?”

it is so far from any question that aoki could ever have imagined ida asking him, that it takes him a painful stretch of seconds to put it all together. and then to rearrange the bits and pieces of it until it sort of makes some kind of sense. almost.

“are you … is this - are - ” aoki has trained himself so well at letting go of the idea, that he barely knows how to say it, now. “ida,” he centers himself with the name, anchors himself to what matters. “are you … jealous?”

ida takes a very long and deep breath, and closes his eyes like he’s in pain. at least that’s what it looks like, to aoki. maybe ida is just that revolted by any premise that rests on the idea of his being attracted to aoki. honestly, that seems way more likely to aoki than almost any alternative, except -

“of course i am,” ida says, his voice rising to a volume that aoki can’t remember ever hearing it reach, and oh. oh dear.

“of course i’m jealous,” ida has that flush high on his cheeks again, and it’s starting to dawn on aoki, that actually akkun might be a genius, compared to him. “i want to be the person you like the most, aoki,” and that would be the part where aoki would start shrieking and running around in circles, flapping his arms, but ida continues before he can, “i want you to like me as much as i like you.”

maybe aoki will just drop dead, instead. because it’s really not fair to expect him to be able to continue to live, after ida has said this to him.

it’s only when ida starts to frown again, that aoki realizes that he’s been standing there just staring at ida, gaping at him actually - mouth open, and all - for what has to have been a full minute, now. that’s so embarrassing. except for how maybe actually nothing is embarrassing for aoki, now that he knows ida likes him. likes him the most, even. so much so that he is in fact capable of feeling jealousy over aoki, and seems to be feeling it right now.

which, whoops. reminds aoki.

“i don’t like ren like that,” he rushes to say, and it delights him that this only softens ida’s fierce frown some, but he wasn’t finished yet anyway. “i only like you that way, ida. i like you so much. the most, really.”

ida is still frowning when he says “good,” but he also says it in a very decisive and clearly self-satisfied way, and that alone would be more than enough to have aoki’s heart kicking against his ribs like it’s trying to escape his chest, but ida reaches out to grab aoki’s hand and laces their fingers together, then, and aoki just spontaneously forgets how to breathe instead.

“keep liking me the most,” ida says, as they start to walk again, and aoki is about to agree and then skip the whole way home, until the heavens finally open to try and trap them both in a downpour.

they run together, still holding hands, until they reach an unused back entrance into a house that has a built in shelter for them to huddle in and catch their breath.

or that’s the plan, at least, but then ida pushes aoki ahead of him until his back hits the metal door and follows him in until they’re almost pressed together, chest to chest. ida’s hands are on aoki’s back, just below his shoulderblades, and aoki realizes that this is so aoki hadn’t actually knocked into the door and been hurt, when ida pushed him. even though the way ida pushed him had been so gentle. so careful, just the way everything ida does is.

probably, the way ida is standing in front of aoki is also meant in a kind way; so ida can make sure that aoki is sheltered from the rain as much as is possible. but the problem with this, as aoki sees it, is that it puts them standing face to face, with ida’s arms around aoki, while they hide from the rain pressed close together in an unlit doorway on already dark and rainy evening that means the streets are deserted around them.

“i thought you didn’t like me like that,” aoki blurts, because he’s nervous. because he can feel ida breathing against him. because he hopes desperately that maybe if he pushes some words out of his mouth his heart won’t just come tumbling out to land at ida’s feet instead. “i thought you didn’t have feelings for me, because everybody at school is always putting their grubby little paws all over me, and you never seem to mind at all.”

ida smiles, close enough that aoki could count his eyelashes; can see where raindrops are trapped in his long lashes prettily. aoki is definitely going to die, but at least he’ll die doing what he loved; being held in ida’s arms and looking up into his beautiful face.

“it doesn’t make me jealous of them, to see them touching you,” he says, and aoki holds his breath, when ida presses in closer and at the very same time slides his hands down the line of aoki’s back until they’re almost, almost at aoki’s waist, his thumbs tracing forward against a rung of aoki’s ribs, his hands hot even through aoki’s blazer. “i know that you don’t like them like that. but i do get jealous, that they’re allowed to touch you and i can’t.”

aoki can feel his pulse in every single cell of his body, when ida’s hands grip at him harder, as if to punctuate his point, and his face dips in close enough that he can touch the tip of his nose to the curve of aoki’s jaw.

it’s through a panted breath, that aoki manages to speak.

“who says you can’t touch me?” he asks, thinking about how daring ida had been, when he’d all but instructed aoki to take him home and do whatever he wanted, with him. when this whole time he’s been saying something that aoki didn’t realize could be said in so many different ways.

“can i?” ida asks, his eyes so dark and serious when he looks up at aoki through his eyelashes, and aoki can’t help it, he can’t do this anymore, he can’t not touch ida for a single second longer, so he’s not at all uncertain about it or sorry for it, when he fists both hands in the front of ida’s shirt and pulls him closer, even though there’s hardly any space left between them already.

their chests touch, and then ida puts a foot between aoki’s so he can get impossibly closer, his thigh pressed between both of aoki’s, and aoki’s head thunks back against the door ida has him pushed up against, his hips jutting forward quite without his permission. but still, he isn’t sorry.

“it’s sweet that you’ll ask me,” aoki says, voice rough with something he can’t name, but can’t help but feel, “keep asking me, boyfriend, but i think i’ll always say ‘yes’ to you.”

because it does something to aoki, the way ida is kind to him and careful with him and will always ask him - would never try to just take, and it’s something that aoki really likes, but it does something else to him entirely, when ida makes a low, pleased sound and then tilts aoki’s chin back down so he can press in and kiss him.

ida’s hand is so big and careful, cupped under aoki’s chin, and his mouth starts off soft and sweet and gentle, when he touches his lips to aoki’s.

but when aoki tugs at him with the grip he’s still got of ida’s shirt and tries, uselessly, to pull him closer, the sound that ida makes is a groan of something like frustration, something close too to relief, and then both of his hands are coming up to cradle aoki’s face between them, and his tongue is at aoki’s bottom lip. it’s shocking, to aoki, an intimacy that he wasn’t expecting, but then all that’s shocking to him is how quickly he parts his own lips to welcome and enthusiastically return it.

and if aoki thought that the touch of ida’s tongue was intimate, he thinks he actually might lose his mind at the way ida kisses him methodically but fiercely, like he’s been waiting to do this for his whole life. like maybe all he needs or wants is to have aoki all to himself, somewhere where they can be close and alone and together, like this. aoki takes a sliver of a second to almost be embarrassed, when he whimpers into ida’s mouth, but then he bids all remaining scraps of his pride farewell in favor of winding both of his arms up around ida’s neck and going up on his toes to press closer into the kiss, instead.

by the time they begin to part, aoki’s lips are tingling, and he’s beginning to think that maybe they should just forgo words completely, to tell one another what they’re thinking and feeling this way, instead, because they seem much better at communicating when the letters of that alphabet are ida’s hands tugging aoki’s shirt up out of where it’s tucked into his pants so he can push warm, slightly rough fingers up underneath it, and aoki being permitted to grab at ida’s usually neat hair so he can tug his head to one side to press his mouth to the underside of ida’s jaw, and ida groaning such satisfied little sounds into aoki’s mouth that their kisses get rushed and panting, aoki carelessly and greedily biting at ida’s lip until ida is grinding their hips together and slipping his hands down over the curve of aoki’s ass and growling at him in a way that makes the hair stand up on the back of aoki’s neck.

“wow,” aoki says, thrilled and excited and grateful in another brand new way when ida breaks away to rest his head on aoki’s shoulder and hold him close, the two of them breathing together.

when ida lifts his head again to look at aoki, aoki is struck by the look in his eyes, and then struck dumb by the realization that this isn’t the first time ida has looked at him this way, and that it is blatantly obvious from his gaze that the feelings he has for aoki are neither shallow nor friendly.

“thank you,” ida says, with even more weight than his words usually carry, and he’s always saying very important things in an incredibly meaningful way, so aoki can’t miss how serious he is about this.

“for letting you kiss me?” aoki wonders, starting to tuck his shirt back in, but very quickly giving up on this task when ida reaches to do it for him, instead.

“for being my boyfriend,” ida clarifies, gently and carefully fixing the mess he has made of aoki, and then taking a step away, when he has straightened aoki’s blazer back into place. “for liking me the most. for letting me like you like that, too.”

it has stopped raining, aoki only notices now, and then he forgoes noticing anything that isn’t the warmth of ida’s hand, when he reaches out for it and receives it instantly, easily.

“you’re going to have to do all the talking in our relationship,” aoki decides, as ida stoops to pick up their discarded school bags and shoulders them both so they can resume their meandering walk home together. “you’re much better at words than i am.”

“i’m terrified of trying to put how i feel into words,” ida corrects him, and before aoki can begin to tell him the long and tortuous tale of how very wrong aoki got this whole thing, so poor was his own understanding and application of communication, ida continues. “but i’ll get good at it, to tell you how i feel. i’ll do whatever i have to, to make sure you feel loved.”

and like always, he says it plainly; straight to the point and straight-faced about it, his eyes steady and serious and the overall affect not even slightly ruined by how his mouth is flushed some still, from kissing aoki.

and looking at him, aoki finally hears him.

“me too,” he promises, using their joined hands to pull ida in and bump their shoulders together. “we’ll get good at this together.”

probably, aoki should have been able to read the glint in ida’s eyes for what it is, but he’s still a little punch drunk from ida dragging him into the shadows to have his way with him, so he’s slow on the uptake and doesn’t see it coming.

“i’ll be a very good student for you,” ida says, “if there’s anything else you’d like to teach me.”

he’s laughing even before he takes off running, aoki giving immediate and furious chase.

because maybe there’s some things that they’re both going to have to get good at showing and telling one another, but one thing that has always been crystal clear is how much ida loves to rile aoki up and then laugh his delight at aoki’s spluttering and flailing and generally chaotic carrying on.

“stop it, stop it!” ida pleads, when aoki catches up with him and tries to tackle him down onto a sopping wet bench, not caring at all if he gets wet himself in the process.

“don’t hurt me, sir, i have a boyfriend who will miss me very much!”

and he’s laughing still, smiling and breathless again, when aoki gives up on trying to wrestle with him to reel him in and press a kiss to his forehead, instead.

when they get to aoki’s house, ida convinces him to come home with him instead to visit with mametarou, and mametarou greets their return by pressing his nose into the warmth of their still joined hands and whuffing like he’s happy about something.

and just like that, a whole lot that hadn’t made much sense at all to aoki before becomes steadily and readily apparent.

and every time after that that aoki has to leave ida’s house, ida begs him and pleads with him and sometimes outright dares aoki to take him with him.

and sometimes, aoki does.

but even when he doesn’t, he never makes it all the way home before ida is texting him to tell him that he misses him, and aoki comes to get very practiced at opening his front door with one hand, because the other is holding his phone to his ear so he can call his boyfriend, who he saw twenty minutes ago, but misses desperately already nonetheless.

at school, their seats finally get reassigned again and ida is returned to aoki’s side, where he belongs and has always belonged, if you ask aoki.

it still makes aoki starry eyed and dizzy sometimes, when ida turns around to hand him something or ask to borrow something, and aoki sees his face for the first time in a few minutes; far too long, in aoki’s opinion.

‘hi,’ ida’s small smile says, in those moments.

‘hi. i missed you. i love you,’ aoki learns to say in response, in as many different ways as he can.

 

 

 

 

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