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worst best dream

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Hair. Lips. Tongue.

Maybe the first time he’s noticed them, such inconsequential details on the frail body of a guy, is when Mikey tilts his head back on their ride, fingers gripping on his hips. They’re thirteen something because Baji has lost count of the days and months, just this moment of invincibility when the bike soars into sunset and Mikey’s laughter — bright, like chimes, like beloved — falls around the air he breathes.

It’s like a charm, a spell, almost.

Whenever they’re apart, he finds his mind drifting back to these things.

 

 


 

 

There are two different factors at play here because there are, obviously.

One: You’re not supposed to think a gang leader is cute. Even when he needs you to wipe away the excess of ice cream on his upper lip and the dot of chocolate that glows closer to the stars. Even when he hangs his arms around your neck, loose and loose and warm and loose, whenever he falls asleep on long rides and skylines. Baji knows, of course. Especially when said gang is made from scratches with his blood and Mikey’s and four other people because these things prick and hurt and feelings are finicky. He knows.

Two: None of the things listed come to mind when Mikey is sitting in his bedroom with a colourful paper fan and his t-shirt dips down below collarbones. So.

“Mikey. You can’t just crash over at my place whenever you feel like it.” He sighs. One of these days, his mom is going to freak out because mom is an overthinker and Mikey is at the age where he feels like having bandages plastered over his arms is funny, wounded or not. Baji has fallen for this trap before. “Also, what’s with the new bandage on your nose? Another stylistic choice?”

“No.”

“No?” His guts twist. “Someone did this? Who? What fucker—”

“I fell.” Mikey adds, still looking blankly ahead. “Got this on the way to your room.”

In the winter, he may believe the lie. The stairs are extra slippery here on the fifth floor and mom got Baji a pair of extra-sturdy shoes to walk in the wet sludge. But it’s summer and the sweats rolling down on Mikey’s shirt are selling him out, the dirt stains, too. It’s summer and the stairs are alright, he knows.

Still, Baji doesn’t press.

He comes back with one ice cream and an ice pack for the former guy.

 

 


 

 

The blossoms when they’re fourteen are relentless, petals everywhere on his shoulders and in Mikey’s hair.

Baji knows because he counts. He’s learned a bit about velocity and the way cherry blossoms spin in faint circles before landing on dark lashes, before he picks them out on Mikey’s cheeks with much more tenderness than needed in between these bloodied imageries where bodies fall.

“I got ya.” He says and Baji doesn’t quite know what he means here.

He never looks deep enough into Mikey’s eyes to figure out.

 

 


 

 

“You’re late,” Baji informs when Mikey shows up and places down his bag. Doesn’t even acknowledge him or the sunset. Less so with the flying baseballs coming at them every few minutes. “We agreed on five-fifty, didn’t we?”

“You agreed on five-fifty.” The other corrects, voice empty. “I said this sucks and that I’d rather do other shit than swinging my head away in an abandoned batting cage.”

Baji fights a groan and his teeth are gritting. He knows Mikey’s in a mood, they all do, and there’s almost nothing to get him out of a mood if he is in one. But at least he’s fucking trying something. Anything, really. “Oh yeah? What’s on your bright mind then?”

A shrug. When the next ball comes, his bat drops.

Mikey kisses him.

 

 


 

 

It’s not like he cares. Or maybe he does.

The other doesn’t crash into his orbit for the next weeks to come.

 

 


 

 

“About the other day.” Mikey begins after dismissing a meeting. The guy is still not looking at him and fuck, this is harder than he’s thought. Baji doesn’t hold resentments. He doesn’t hold them but the voice inside his head is weaker and needier and he holds this one petty resentment of ‘why didn’t you ever come?’— this becomes harder than he can deal with.

“Baji. I—”

“It’s fine.” He intercepts. “I have already forgotten about it.” 

In actuality, certain things are not that easy to forget. Like the way Mikey licks his lower lip each time chocolate breaks on skin, the way he would groan when the flag on his meals is the slightest crooked, the way his eyes — an abyss of knowing and unknowing and the world is spinning when they meet halfway through a glance — can glitter when he’s happy, ever so rarely.

The former hasn’t been happy for a long time, now.

Silence stretches among these buildings where glasses are half-broken, half-molten and Baji shrugs, almost done with tying up his hair when the strands are caught on his knuckles. It’s weird, the realisation — tangentially, they’re not as badly entangled as he is in all of this. As they are, right now.

“See. Already forgotten.” He laughs and the sound is enough. It’s enough because yeah, they’re making a regular habit of ignoring and dancing around these empty steps after Kazutora gets thrown in juvie. It’s enough because out of everyone to be an ‘experiment,’ he’s glad Mikey chose him, somehow.

“Hm,” replies the latter and Baji wishes he’s better at playing pretend, at these things where the lines are blurry and his eyes sting when he blinks too fast. Your emotions show on your face again, Baji, Draken would say and he would look anywhere other than in someone’s eyes. He’s looking anywhere beyond the skyline, now.

“Fine then,” Mikey concludes. “Nothing happened the other day.”

But he knows something did, because they’re not as close and they can barely sit in the same room anymore.

He knows and the other knows and this is the worst best dream.

 

 


 

 

Hair. Lips. Tongue.

This may be the last time he’ll ever think about them, such inconsequential details on the frail body of a guy so beloved, Mikey has tasted of sweat and stale promises that day.

Roaring, thumping and nothing registers other than his circulatory system, Baji is choking on his own blood right now. The ground is cold where metal touches his skin and it’s Halloween, he knows, there are no petals because there is no bloom this time — but the dewdrops on Mikey’s blond hair are so sparkling and out of reach, it hurts when he exhales.

People are screaming, damn loud and there are tears but he can’t quite see who is crying when the sunlight hits his eyes. It’s like a charm, a spell, almost. “Mikey — take care of Mikey for me.” He whispers, soft when Takemichi is aching over him, pressing pressure down a wound where his heart also bleeds. The guy is not listening and no one on this battlefield is listening, but Baji looks at the skyline as if soaring, and the Earth is listening to his slowed mumbling — all pretences break.

The realisation is stupid because he is, to an extent, foolish.

Baji is still bewitched to the end.