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you are surrounding all my surroundings

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0.

Yuu thinks he’s perfectly fine on his own.

He’s completely fine; so fine, that there is absolutely no reason he needs to have actual friends or what have you. He’s never been the type to hang out with too many people, or any at all—in fact, he likes being on his own, likes spending all of his free time bothering Guren or just doing his own thing. He was perfectly fine skiving through freshman year of high school with barely an acquaintance made (luck, really, since his first impression of the students at Hīragi Academy had been blackmailing demons) and, really, he’s fine with that, so what if people are put-off by his loud personality? So what if they think he’s a little too fixed on his goals, too rough around the edges, or just plain scary because he can take on a gang of five delinquents and beat them to a bloody pulp in less than ten minutes?

Yuu doesn’t need people like that.

He has himself, he always has, and he only needs himself. And Guren. Maybe.

So that is his perfectly valid excuse for why he has been sitting in front of Guren’s flat screen, a PS4 controller in his hand, a headset over his ears, countless empty cans of soda and bags of chips littered around him, snarling at some idiot about how camping is so not a strategic move so much as it was being a total asshole for the past six hours.

“Have you been here this entire time?”

Yuu pauses for a second, glancing over to find Guren covering his eyes with his hand by the doorframe: his classic ‘Why Did I Decide To Adopt A Kid?’ pose so Yuu deems everything alright with the universe.

“Hey, Guren! We ran out of soda, can you go buy some more later?”

“No,” Guren deadpans. “I’d rather address how pathetic this sight is.”

You’re pathetic. So, soda?”

Guren sighs. “No, Yuu. This has gone too far. You’re embarrassing every fifteen year old boy with a PS4, turn that thing off.”

“Shut up, who do you think is the one getting you all these trophies?” Yuu scowls, returning his eyes to the television.

“I don’t care about the trophies, Yuu, it’s midnight!”

“Past your bedtime,” Yuu remarks without missing a beat.

“You’ve been sitting in front of that TV since six. This is worse than that time that idiot Norito decided he’d dedicate his life to playing video games because his girlfriend dumped him for being a stoner.”

“Wrong, because I’m winning,” Yuu throws back, like that’s an actual reason.

Guren rubs a hand down his face. “Why are you like this.”

“I dunno’, you raised me,” Yuu smirks.

Guren slits his eyes, but Yuu just mashes buttons smugly.

He doesn’t get why Guren is making such a huge deal out of this again. Why can’t he just leave him alone to wallow in his loneliness and brutally crush newbs on COD? Yuu decides ignoring him works best, mashing the trigger button and killing off that asshole camper for the fourth time.

“Fine,” Guren uncrosses his arms and places one hand on his hip, all patience and nonchalance. Yuu knows better. “If you’re not going act like a normal teenager—”

“—this is being a normal teenager—!”

“—then I’ll just make you. Shinya doesn’t know what he’s talking about, leaving you to handle things was the worst idea he’s ever had.”

“Was not,” Yuu complains. Guren had been on his ass about everything in middle school. Everything. They were truly terrible days. Guren could be a menace when he wanted. “I don’t get what I’m doing wrong! I’m doing okay in school! I even got a B in math, that’s the first time that’s ever happened! I read all of the books in English, even the one the teacher recommended!”

“I don’t mean your studies,” Guren scoffs. “I mean, your social life.”

Yuu eyes him suspiciously. “What about it?”

“It’s been a year and you haven’t brought a single friend over!”

“So?”

Moving to a new city had no effect on Yuu, unlike how Guren initially believed it would. Guren had been relocated to a new base just after Yuu graduated middle school and had promptly enrolled Yuu into a military-based high school after the move; one handled by the famous Hīragi family with an ROTC focus that Yuu had been registered in since he first started. It had been going well, really, until Guren realized that Yuu never really got rid of his bad habit of not making friends all throughout middle school. Then he’d been pissed that Yuu managed to hide it from him for so long (mostly because Guren had been more focused on his grades and conduct than his social skills). It wasn’t pretty and, yeah, maybe Yuu felt a little lonely and that’s why he spent most of his time bugging Guren (so he could get his fill of human interaction even if that interaction meant talking to his uptight foster dad). But Yuu liked it, he was fine, really, and it was only when Shinya suggested that Guren let Yuu take things at his own pace that he stopped hounding him about everything.

Until now, apparently.

“You’ve got a month to make a friend and bring them over to show me or I’m sending you to Shinya’s twelve week, intensified, boot camp over the summer. Oh, and Mika doesn’t count,” and he leaves, just like that, hand in pocket, humming some obnoxious tune like he hadn’t just ruined Yuu’s entire COD weekend marathon.

“Wha—I don’t need friends, Guren! GUREN!” Yuu screeches, furiously button mashing. “I’m fine! This is completely normal, you ASS!”

One month,” Guren repeats, and Yuu may have permanently depressed one of the buttons in his mashing spree. And it’ll totally be Guren’s fault for being a jerk when he finds out.

“This is so fucking stupid,” Yuu mutters to himself. “Why can’t he just…MIKA SO COUNTS!” he shouts.

“No, he doesn’t!” Guren cheerfully shouts from his study.

“…Stupid Guren,” Yuu reluctantly agrees, but only to himself because if Guren found out, he’d be obnoxious about it. Yuu drops his controller, scowls when he’s subsequently shot in the fucking head, and wonders if being on talking terms with the infuriatingly cheerful Mikaela Hyakuya, student body president, actually counts as friendship.

Yuu lowers his eyes when he realizes, no, it doesn’t. And that makes him feel—sad? Disappointed? Yuu shakes the feelings off. He’s always had his guard up in front of people. Guren, even. So it’s not all that unusual, right? For him not to have friends? His gut still twists sourly at the thought of not being Mika’s friend. It’s not like it hasn’t been true this entire time, though: it doesn’t count when the only real interaction he has with Mika is when his demon blackmailer sends him on errands or when he bites off more than he can chew and Mika gives him standard first aid because he’s too beat up to do it himself…

That isn’t friendship, that’s Mika just being a nice person because he’s that perfect and Yuu has trouble—letting people in.

Even though Mika strong-armed his way into some sort of thing with Yuu—friendship, partnership, person of convenience, something—and it may have made Yuu feel not so alone in a way he hasn’t ever felt before in his life. But whatever this thing is, it’s not friendship, it’s—Yuu can’t even describe it and it makes a self-depreciating smile curl the corners of his lips because this just proves Guren’s point, proves his once-therapist’s point, proves the goddamn Grinch of a social worker's point.

The screen flashes.

He’s been shot in the head again.

On his headset, the jackass he’d been thrashing for being a camper is screaming in victory.

And Yuu decides that maybe he does need an actual friend.

 


i.

He starts with the least likely candidate—it’s more of an accident, really.

Yoichi Saotome is a scrawny boy, lanky and still awkward in his skin even at fifteen; the type to hide behind lampposts if he spots something scary in the distance, to bring home a good report card and go to sleep at curfew. Guren’s ‘dream-child’—or so he’d claim. Yuu is pretty convinced Guren is full of shit ninety percent of the time. He would probably lose his head if he had a goody two shoe son just because Guren thrives on banter and disaster about as much as Yuu does.

They make a good team—banter and disaster.

Yuu tries not to think about what that says about them too much.

But Yoichi is soft-willed, not confrontational in the slightest. Unsurprisingly, he’s also soft-spoken, and has a particular leaning towards formal language. Yuu knows this because he heard him speak once on his way to the Dean’s office for another ear-ringing lecture on on-campus fighting.

Therefore, Yoichi is on the lowest tier of the high school social ladder, and the fact that he’s one of the few in the student committee to verbally enforce the uniform policy every time someone breaks it really doesn’t help matters.

Yuu gives him points for trying.

“I-I’m sorry,” Yoichi squeaks in the hallway, head ducked. “I’ll get you a n-new drink if you’d let—!”

And Yuu doesn’t concern himself with the weak. He isn’t as good of a person as to think that he can save everyone, and interfering usually makes things worse in his experience. Yuu can’t count on both hands the amount of times he’s saved some kid from being bullied and it resulted in said bullies turning their attentions to him and trying to ambush him after school (or before school, or at the grocery store, or that one time they actually jumped him at the DMV and Guren bought Skittles and told him he’d give him half if he talked his way out of it).

“—um, g-guys, those shirts are a cl-clear violation of the—ow—!”

Yuu clenches his fists in his pockets when Yoichi is shoved into a wall. Again.

“Shall I add loitering to the laundry list of offenses you have committed on school grounds, Yuu-san?” a voice purrs from overhead and Yuu stiffens, snapping his head up to see long locks of violet hair spilling over slender shoulders. Shinoa Hīragi—demon blackmailer, forever on his hit list, and definitely not a friend—smiles charmingly when Yuu just frowns at her.

Yuu has never been affected by her smiles unlike half the student body. This is probably due to the fact that when they first met, she threatened to report him for cheating (which he totally was, but it was still uncalled for) and now she has him run odd jobs for her under the threat of blackmail. And Yuu holds horrible grudges so he'd never consider her a friend ever, probably.

He’d ignore her except the campus fights are bad enough and if Yuu adds ‘cheating’ to the list, he really will be expelled, and Guren already warned him what expulsion would result in.

The military is where he’s going one way or another—just not the army, and Lieutenant Colonel Guren Ichinose is a piece of shit guardian who would make him work for it if he got himself expelled before he was of-age. Yuu has a reputation, connections, skill and physical condition. He has everything he needs to go in solid with the Marines special unit and if he fucked this up for himself—

 “What do you want, Shinoa?” Yuu grouses.

“Why, I’m just wondering what that awful crying sound is. It sounds like a poor little kitten being mauled by a pack of dogs,” Shinoa sighs dramatically, turning on her back so she can lean out of the window even more dramatically. “I’m hoping that perhaps you could quell those sad sounds?”

“Tch, it’s not my business. Besides, aren’t you vice president or something? Why don’t you do it?” Yuu squints.

Shinoa beams. “I would except I’m busy!”

“Wha—then call someone else to deal with it!”

“I am,” Shinoa looks at him expectantly. “Or perhaps you would like the fact that you ch—!”

“I’m going,” Yuu grits out, storming over to the three guys who were having a field day torturing Yoichi again. Yuu glances over his shoulder before he reaches them, finds Shinoa gone, and pauses. Those guys were leaving already and it’s not like Shinoa would really know he never helped the kid out since he’s always being bullied. Yoichi doesn’t seem to have friends outside of the student committee, possibly because the pack of guys who bullied him were upperclassmen and mingling with Yoichi meant taking the brunt of those three bullies attention, too.

And it’s not like the committee could really do anything about it if Yoichi always waved his bullying off and denied it…

So, after some deliberation, Yuu heads the other way, ignoring the way his chest tightens when he hears Yoichi’s sad bumbling down the long corridor. He reaches the vending machine and kicks it at just the right angle to have a cold can of tea tumble out of the slot.

It doesn’t taste as good as it usually does, but he takes another long chug anyway.

Guren told me not to involve myself in things I can’t fix, Yuu reminds himself, walking down the way those bullies went so he could head home. He spots them again, some ways down the block. Yuu takes another drink of his cold tea and ignores a muffled plead from Yoichi. I can’t save everyone. That’s what they’ll teach me when I enlist under Shinya, too.

He’s turning away when he hears it—the magical words, as if something in the universe is telling him to listen to his gut from now on.

“—like an animal!”

Instantly, Yuu crushes the can in his hand and shrugs out of his backpack as he approaches them. “Hey!” Yuu calls out, roughly. “What did you just call him?”

“Who the hell are you?” one of them speaks up, confused.

“I said, what did you just call him?” Yuu repeats, and his eyes light with dangerous intensity—hungry and promising dark things. He sees the second bully take a wise step back at the look, glancing at the third guy uncertainly.

“An animal,” the first guy states, unrepentant.  Yuu’s eyes sharpen. The third guy gulps, also taking a step back. “I mean, look at him, he’s practically a fucking dog—!”

He doesn’t see his fist coming. Yuu makes sure of it as he grabs his shirt and slams his fist into his face again for good measure. His lip splits, blood stains his knuckles, and Yuu’s lips twist in a mock of a grin.  Yuu grabs a fist aimed to his right, bends it back, and shoves that guy away harshly, stomping on his gut with enough force to have him dry heaving. The third one is even easier than the last two: a kick and swift backhand take him out, and Yuu glowers at the boys who are clutching their stomachs and faces on the ground.

“If I ever hear you call someone that again, I’ll break your fucking legs,” Yuu hisses. He glances at Yoichi, whose cupping his face, brown eyes watery but sparkling, and feels awkward all of a sudden. The blood-thirst evaporates as if it were never there even though Yuu knows it’ll always be there. It’s become so stitched into who he is that without it, Yuu would not be himself. That word—referring to people like animals, treating them worse than that, it strikes a violent chord in him because Yuu still has nightmares about rough hands grabbing his hair, slamming his face into walls with growled, muffled words like “beast” and “animal” and “demon spawn” resounding in his head—a tick tick tocking that’s worse than any clock, because at least he can tune that out.

His birth father’s words will always ring clear in his mind.

“Hey,” Yuu coughs. “You okay?”

“Th-thank you so much for helping me, Yuu-san!” Yoichi squeaks and Yuu blinks. “Thank you! I don’t know what I can do to repay you—!”

“Eh? Wait, how do you know my name?”

“Ah, yes, um, Sh-Shinoa-san mentions you sometimes during council meetings, and Mika-san has told me a lot about you—!”

“Damn that Mika.”

“That’s not very nice, Yuu-chan. And here I was almost impressed by how you handled the situation,” Mikaela drawls, faintly amused. “Next time, you call security and let them handle it, though, okay?”

Yuu jumps, green eyes widening at the sight of the student body president, standing there with perfect posture and heady summer blue eyes boring into his own; intense in a way that always made Yuu fidgety and unsure of himself, which is something he’s never felt before but something Mikaela Hyakuya brings out in him anyway. Yuu doesn’t even know why—all he knows is that whenever he’s under Mika’s inspection, even if it’s just a passing glance, Yuu feels all warm and clumsy. It’s even worse when Mika says something dumb, like how pretty his green eyes are or how his disheveled hair compliments him. Then his entire body just feels hot.

So Yuu firmly believes Mika just likes to embarrass him.

 “S-shut up, Mika, if you were here the whole time why didn’t you do anything?”

“Because you were handling it so well,” Shinoa chirps, materializing from behind Mika. Mikaela merely offers him a smile, the gentle one that has Yuu hastening to push down the lump in his throat before he does something dumb like trip over his feet.

That happened, once.

Shinoa never lets him live that down, either.

Yuu grimaces. “Great. You’re here, too.” He picks up his backpack and slings it back on, turning to the shaking boy. “Listen,” Yuu says, “You can’t just let them push you around like that. I might have helped you out this one time, but if you don’t learn how to stand up for yourself, there’ll just be other people who’ll take advantage of you and I can’t always be there to protect you from them. I get that if you tell, it’ll be worse for you, but if you don’t try to do anything about it, it’ll keep being hell. You wanna’ pay me back? Get stronger,” Yuu demands, then flushes when Yoichi’s eyes widen like he’s found Messiah. Yuu coughs into his fist. “A-anyway, bye. I guess.”

“Bravo!” Shinoa claps behind him. His cheeks flush. “Excellent pep talk! You could use a little help with your closings, though.”

Yuu gives her the finger.

“That was a very kind thing of you to do, Yuu-chan. I’m happy,” Mika says, smiling that smile that has his skin prickling pleasantly. “But I’ll handle it from here. I think this has gone far enough. Have a safe walk, Yuu-chan,” Mikaela waves, then moves to help Yoichi off his feet.

“Yeah, whatever! And don’t go talking about me to random strangers, Mika, or I’ll kick your ass next!” Yuu shouts over his shoulder, hurrying so he doesn’t hear what the other boy has to say. But once he’s far away enough, Yuu rubs the back of his neck, aware that his face is hot and it has nothing to do with the way he practically ran down the block.

He’s just got this weird, warm, giddy, feeling in his gut at the thought of Mika talking about him to other people.

 

Guren meets Yoichi on the very last day of his friend deadline—or, more specifically, Guren watches with a shitty grin as Yuu jogs up to his car and Yoichi comes careening out of the school seconds after, screaming Yuu’s name and pouncing on him the instant Yuu spun around, knocking him clear off his feet and onto the ground.

“Ugh,” Yuu wheezes. “Wha’sa matter, Yoichi?”

“They’re waiting for me by my locker!” Yoichi trembles, panicked. “I-I’m sorry, Yuu-san, but I didn’t know who else to call!”

Yuu sighs. Those assholes again. Yoichi has been coming to Yuu for help recently and, well, even if Yuu makes a big deal out of it sometimes, he doesn’t mind helping him out every now and then. But Yuu will set them straight later, right now there’s something more pressing at hand. “Do you have any homework due tomorrow?”

“Well, yes, but it’s all from the textbooks and those are at home.”

“Okay, then you don’t need your backpack. So, do you wanna’ come with me and Guren to get Chinese food? I’m starving,” Yuu shoves Yoichi off him, dusting himself off, then remembers that Guren doesn’t know Yoichi. “Uh, Guren, this is Yoichi. He’s, uh...”

“Hello, sir!” Yoichi fumbles, straightening up while Guren watches blandly from the rolled down passenger side window. “I’m Yoichi Saotome! I’m Yuu-san’s friend! It’s nice to meet you!”

Guren flicks his eyes to Yuu’s for a second and nods over to the driver’s side. “You’re driving. Do not exceed the speed limit or I’m taking the car away for another week.”

Yuu grins, ecstatic, forgetting the shock that Yoichi considers him a friend in favor of driving. “Okay, yeah, I promise! YES!” He rushes over to the other side, waving Yoichi into the back when the boy just stands there awkwardly.

“Hey, you, kid,” Guren calls suddenly, and doesn’t bat an eye when Yoichi stiffens at attention in the back. “I’m Guren Ichinose, Yuu’s guardian,” Guren introduces himself, yawning into his palm as Yuu fastens his seatbelt and nearly shakes out of his seat in excitement at driving. “It’s nice to see the brat finally made a friend.”

“Shut up, Guren,” Yuu says distractedly, pulling out of the parking space and merging into a lane just like Guren taught him. “I told you I could do it.”

“Too bad, too, I wanted to see what fresh hell Shinya had in store for returning recruits,” Guren drawls, but both know he doesn’t actually mean it, especially when Guren hides a tiny smile by looking out the window and Yuu grins spectacularly in front of him.

In the backseat, Yoichi beams.


 

ii.

Shihō Kimizuki is a dickbag.

He’s also another accidental friend.

Yuu is starting to see a trend.

But there’s really no other way to describe him for Yuu—he’s a dickbag and he’s always looking for a fight. He’s a junior year transfer student, sixteen just like Yuu, and the first time Yuu met him, Kimizuki punched him because he wanted to see how strong he was and they ended up in the nurse’s office twenty minutes later, glaring at each other and swearing to never talk to each other again.

Sort of.

They have a bad habit of insulting each other whenever they’re in the same room.

Mika does this adult-thing where he rubs his eyes and sighs whenever he catches sight of Yuu glowering at Kimizuki from across the room.

But it’s not like Yuu can help it: Kimizuki has hard-on-the-eyes highlighter pink hair and a perpetual scowl, almost as bad as Yuu except Yuu thinks that Kimizuki’s scowl is uglier than his could ever be. He wears his uniform like Yuu does: blazer unbuttoned, shirt untucked, although Kimizuki goes further and breaks dress code by wearing two metal studs on his right year. Yuu thinks his horn rimmed glasses are dumb-looking, thinks Kimizuki is dumb-looking in general, but Yuu also knows that Kimizuki has a great adoration for his sickly little sister and he’d wreck anyone who spoke badly of her.

So Yuu respects him for that because family is important and even though Yuu’s family was fucked up, that didn’t mean everyone else’s family had to be, too.

 “Yoichi!” Yuu shouts, pointing down the street to where the school is. It’s only been two hours since class ended; the president has a meeting today, so Yuu is sure he’d still be on campus. At least, he hopes so or else he’ll be bleeding out on concrete and the last time that happened he was eight and desperately alone. “Get Mika! Tell him I need his help now!”

“Y-yes—I’ll—YES!” Yoichi stammers, then runs away.

Yuu is distracted enough for a punch to land on his cheek. In fact, he can feel his cheekbone start to swell and blood flood his mouth, but he doesn’t let that stop him: he snarls and lunges at the upperclassmen who is twice his size and three times as mean. Yuu doesn’t usually mess with these types because they’re strong—really strong, quarterback footballer strong and huge—and because they’ve never bothered him before in his life. He doesn’t even know who they are; they’re not wearing the colors of his school.

But Kimizuki has a bone to pick with them and Yuu would have ignored them if Kimizuki hadn’t spat that no one talked about his sister like she was a burden, useless and dead.

So Yuu decided he could loan him a fist and stood by Kimizuki, even if the pink haired delinquent told him this wasn’t some kiddy fight.

It certainly wasn’t.

Yuu doesn’t regret it one bit.

“Fuck, fuck,” Kimizuki grits out, throwing another punch. Yuu manages to take one of the guys down but there’s four more and absolutely no way they’re going to get out of this okay without some help. Mika’s help, specifically, because, for all his insufferable attitude, Mika is a better fighter than Yuu on a good day and he’s only begrudged to admit it when he doesn’t need the help. With Mika here, they can win, and the president would probably get out with little to no damage while Yuu spent the entire week holding ice to his banged-up face, glaring at the sunny blonde who’d (inevitably) drop by his home with some sweets and more gauze until he was better.

“Giving up already, asshole?” Yuu grins, wiping the back of his hand across his mouth. It comes back red.

“Hah,” Kimizuki grins right back, all bloody teeth and forced laughter, “as if, dumbass, I’m just getting started. But we have to finish this soon—my sister,” his face twists in pain, more than he’s shown during this entire fight and Kimizuki has taken some pretty harsh blows. “She’s…the hospital called and…”

“Wait, don’t tell me she needs you there?”

Kimizuki looks down.

“What the fuck are you still doing here then?” Yuu snarls.

“If I don’t fight back they’ll just—!”

“Who cares what they’ll do! Your sister needs you and this isn’t the time to let your pride get in the way!”

“It’s not my pride getting in the way!” Kimizuki snaps back, defensively. “I can’t just go after her. I need to settle this.”

“You need to go! She’s family, she’s more important!” Yuu insists. “And if these assholes follow us, I’ll just beat them up outside the hospital!” Yuu promises. Kimizuki’s eyes widen. “COME ON!”

“Hey!” one of the upperclassmen shouts. “Where the hell do you think you’re go—HEY!”

Yuu is dragging Kimizuki by the sleeve in no time at all and, eventually, both boys even out and run as fast as they can to the hospital. Yuu can hear two guys tailing them, approaching fast, but he doesn’t stop until they’re about a block away from the hospital.

“You go on ahead!”

What? There’s no way you can—!” Kimizuki sputters.

“Tch, I’m not as weak as you are!” Yuu forces on a smirk. He turns his back to him. “I can take ‘em! It’s not five against one like before, it’s just two! Besides, your sister needs you, and if they cause a scene at the hospital…”

Kimizuki’s eyes harden at the thought. He looks at Yuu and then at the guys who are fast approaching. “I’ll pay you back for this,” Kimizuki promises solemnly.

Yuu grins. “Hell yeah you will—now, go,” and turns back just in time to rush at the bastard on the right, managing a swift punch and getting one back right on his diaphragm, hard and unrestrained. But it still doesn’t hurt like their beatings, Yuu reminds himself, it doesn’t hurt like when his dad strangled him against the edge of the tub. It doesn’t hurt like when his mom looked at him but never really saw him. It doesn’t hurt like when his dad locked him up in the bathroom for two days and it certainly doesn’t hurt like when his mom forced a kitchen knife on his neck and smiled and said it’d be better if he was just gone.

Nothing will hurt like that again, and that’s what will always keep him going.

“You’re done, kid,” the last standing punk breathes against Yuu’s forehead, punching him. Blood runs hot down Yuu’s lips. But the punch is weaker than the others; he’s finally run out of strength.  

It’s his chance.

“Fuck you!” Yuu snarls and knees him right between the legs hard, harder than he’s ever kneed anyone before; it even hurts his kneecap a little, but it’s what it takes for the guy to slump over with a howl of agony—enough for Yuu to crawl back and slam the heel of his boot into his face for good measure.

“Leave Kimizuki’s sister out of this,” Yuu pants, stumbling upright, “If you have a problem, take it out on us, not her,” and casts an unsteady look at the mess he’s leaving behind before he drags himself in the opposite direction of the hospital.

He’ll rub this in Kimizuki’s face later, when he isn’t feeling like he’s going to puke.

 

Mika is standing stiffly by his door, fists by his side, when Yuu stumbles into the hall of his apartment.

“Why did you—Yuu!” Mika gasps when Yuu slams into the wall for support. He spits and it’s red and gooey. Yuu grimaces at it before Mika grabs his chin and makes him look at him—but Yuu isn’t looking at the way Mika shields him from nosy neighbors, he’s looking at the way brilliant summer blue eyes have become stormy with a winters chill, all ice and threat. “Who was it—who did this to you, Yuu, did you go pick a fight again?”

“Kimizuki’s sister,” Yuu croaks out, closing an eye as Mika digs into his pockets for his keys. They stumble into the apartment together and, for once, Yuu is glad that Guren spends most of his time at the military base than at home. He hasn’t seen Guren since yesterday and he’s sure he’ll be gone another four days which should be enough time for his wounds to fade enough that Guren won’t reprimand him for it. Too much. “These guys, they said something about her. Kimizuki was going to take them by himself but—!”

“You decided to help him,” Mika understands. Instantly, his eyes lose their frightening coldness and become that gentle shade of blue that makes Yuu’s heart thud. It’d be racing right now, anyway, if he weren’t in so much pain. Yuu’s whimper is what makes Mika run to the bathroom, take out the first aid kit, and sigh in relief when he finds that Guren must have restocked it recently because Yuu sure as hell doesn’t.

“Lay down, you’ll be more comfortable that way,” Mika prompts when he returns, helping Yuu recline on the couch. Yuu tugs at his dirty shirt, pushing it up until Mika properly strips it off him. The president's warning hiss at the sight that meets him makes Yuu crack an eye open.

“Mika?”

“Don’t speak. This…doesn’t look good. If anything is broken, we’re going to the hospital,” Mika tells him, firmly. It’s the same tone he uses during council meetings, the few times Yuu has dropped in out of boredom.

What? No, wait, Mika, No!” Yuu gasps, stiff under his touch. “If Guren finds out, he’ll—!”

“It doesn’t matter. I’m not risking your well-being just because Guren may be angry if he finds out,” Mika insists, then proceeds to show Yuu that he’s more than ready to enter medical school with practiced touches and sharp observations. “I can’t tell if your ribs are broken or just bruised. We—!”

“They’re not broken.”

“How can you tell?” Mika frowns.

Yuu touches his side, closes his eyes and presses his hand in sharply. Yuu grimaces but when he opens his eyes again and finds Mika staring at him, mute and surprised, he can only smile bitterly. “I know what broken ribs feel like,” he tells him softly. “This isn’t it.” He drops his hand and breathes out carefully, tensing only the slightest bit when Mika brings something wet to his chin and mouth.

“…You have blood everywhere.”

“I bit my tongue when I was punched,” Yuu shrugs, and then it’s quiet as Mika patches Yuu up again. Honestly, Yuu doesn’t really recall how this started to become a thing. But it’s around the same time Shinoa blackmailed him during freshman year. That’s when she began to order him around, most often with something that involved Mika and his duties as student body president. Mika had always been polite and disgustingly cheery, something that irritated Yuu to the nth degree at the time because it felt like he was making fun of him somehow—that is, until Yuu realized that the president’s sunny disposition hid something much darker.

Mikaela Hyakuya was downright terrifying when he wasn’t smiling.

Shinoa wasn’t kidding about that.

The first time Yuu saw Mika fight, it was because a group of guys jumped him when he was sick with a fever. Dick move, but Yuu had really thought he was going to have to call Guren from the hospital when Mika stepped out from the shadows, calmly telling them to let Yuu go before he became involved.

“Fuck off—this is between us and this bastard.”

Yuu vividly remembers Mika peeling off his gloves one by one. It sounds innocent, really, just taking off gloves, but what he remembers most is the unnerving stillness of it all. Yuu was familiar with it: threat, danger. Then that look—that unsettlingly stare that sent a tremble down Yuu’s spine. They were eyes that reminded Yuu of Guren’s when he returned from his second tour, when he told him Mito was dead and he heard her die over his com. They were eyes that reminded Yuu that danger lurked in nearby places and the dark was always deep enough for one more.

Things changed after that.

Yuu wasn’t so prickly towards Mika, more secretly impressed by him, and Mika never gave Yuu those eyes. Usually, the only reason Mika fought at all was because Yuu bit off more than he could chew. This year, Mika hardly interfered in his fights. Yuu likes to think it’s because he’s gotten better, but he has a feeling it has to do with the fact that he hasn’t involved himself in actual fights. The idiots at school weren’t strong enough for Yuu, and he had all of them scared already as it were. So most of the fights at school were verbal volleys and almost-punches; things that, since Yoichi started to hang around him after Yuu saved him from those bullies last year, he backed out of because, well, Yoichi was basically a human marshmallow and if Yuu got in a fight and Yoichi got hurt, not only would he feel like a dick but Shinoa was really scary when she was pissed and he was sure Mika would be disappointed in him for putting someone in danger like that.

He’d be disappointed in himself.

“All done,” Mika says softly.

“Mngh.”

“I’ll get you some painkillers and heat up some food for you later,” Mika says. “Don’t fall asleep while I do.”

“Mm. Thanks,” Yuu mumbles, dead tired. “Mika…”

Yuu doesn’t fight him when Mika palms his head softly, a pat becoming gentle stroking as Mika’s fingers card through unruly black locks before he leaves. Then Mika murmurs his name—Yuu thinks he can hear it pressed closely to his ear, a husky rumble that warms his chest. He opens his eyes enough to see Mika hovering over him, gazing down at him with a look he can’t bother to read into in his sleepiness.

Yuu.”

“Uh huh,” he reaches out and takes the pills from Mika’s hands. He dry swallows them and manages to look sheepish when Mika hisses that he needs to drink water, immediately, because dry swallowing pills is the worst. He does so, begrudgingly, and makes a face when the water just tastes rusty with his blood.

“There’s some cupcakes in the pantry,” Yuu mumbles sleepily. “Can have some.”

“Go to sleep, Yuu,” Mika says instead, returning his fingers to his hair. “About the ribs,” he begins again, hesitantly, willing to let it go if Yuu wished. But that wakes Yuu up a little. Mika isn’t looking at him. “…what fight have you gotten into where you’ve broken them? I’m guessing it’s been more than once.”

“Yeah.”

Mika’s jaw tightens.

Yuu closes his eyes, lets out a soft breath. “My parents,” he says and notices how Mika stills suddenly. “M’an orphan. My parents…hated me a lot so they beat me since I was little. They thought I was some sort of demon child, like an animal or a beast, so they would always beat me up,” he pretends he doesn’t notice how Mika’s eyes widen in realization at those words (beastanimaldemon) and Yuu doesn’t bother confirming it, “Dad would kick me hard enough to break my ribs. I know how it feels because I’ve been to the hospital for it a couple of times, and they told me what to look for.”

“How did they even get away with that?” Mika asks, breath baited, voice low.

“I always told them I got them during sports practice. I didn’t want—!” Yuu stops, considers his next words, lets his voice crack a little because—he doesn’t know why. Mika might not be a friend, really, but he’s something. He’s something and Yuu trusts him because Mika was the only who—tried, even if Yuu always pushed him away, even if Yuu always snapped at him. Yuu trusts him so much it’s kind of ridiculous, but Mika has never let him down. Mika has always tried when no one else would, just like Guren. “I kind of thought I deserved it. I didn’t want to leave them. But it didn’t matter, anyway, because when I was eight my dad lit up the house after my mom suicided in the bathtub. The police found me in the basement an hour later.”

“Is he…?” Mika prompts.

“No, he's dead,” Yuu says, evenly. “I was picked up and sent to an orphanage because they couldn’t find any other living relatives. Guren adopted me when I was ten.”

“…My parents pushed me out of a running car,” Mika tells him, suddenly and without warning.

Yuu stares. “What?”

“I’m an orphan, too. I was adopted when I was eight, by Krul,” Mika reveals with a smile. He goes back to carding his fingers through Yuu’s hair. “Krul was the one who found me on the road. She saw what happened. I was only in the orphanage for about a month before she came back for me. My parents didn’t want me, either, they felt like I had ruined something between them, and they just—” Mika looks down and for once the blue in his eyes is sad, so unbearably sad, that Yuu can’t help but sympathize because he knows what that feels like to be unwanted like that, to be treated like some sort of burden, a curse.  

“That,” Yuu attempts a smile but thinks it comes out a little brittle, a little tragic, a little furious, if by the way Mika grips his hand says anything. He squeezes back, tighter. “That’s shitty.”

“It’s not as bad you, though. My parents never broke anything.”

“It’s still shitty,” Yuu says through his teeth and he thinks Mika understands the unspoken it hurts the same that should have come after that. Because no one deserves what he went through and the thought that Mika (with his sunny smile and perfect posture and perfect everything, why is the world the way it is?) went through some form of that abuse, that Mika suffered just like he did, makes something in Yuu just want to—

“Mm. It is.”  

Yuu doesn’t think about how long Mika kneels there by the couch, his fingers tangled in Yuu’s hair, his other hand grasping Yuu’s, white-knuckle hard.

What he does think about is how what took Guren a whole year to do, Mika did in less than an hour:

Learn what keeps him up at night, and what makes him stronger altogether.

Chapter Text

iii. 

“YUU!”

“Crap,” Yuu lifts his face off his pillow.

“GET OUT HERE!”

“I didn’t do anything!” Yuu shouts immediately when Guren storms down the hall and kicks his door open.

“What’d I tell you about picking fights in school? Do you even listen, you moron?!”

“Shuddup! What are you talking about? I haven’t gotten in a figh—!” Yuu pauses when Guren lifts a sweaty school shirt, nicked with blood around the collar. “…That’s ketchup,” he insists.

Guren snorts derisively. “I know blood when I see it,” and Yuu darts his eyes away because he knows what blood looks like, too, perhaps a little too well. He supposes it’s dumb to tell a seasoned army officer it was ketchup. “How long ago, Yuu?”

“I haven’t—!”

How long?”

They stare at each other grudgingly for a long moment before Yuu scoffs and crosses his arms, not looking at Guren.

“…Two days ago,” Yuu bites out. It really wasn’t the worst fight he’s ever gotten into. At least Guren hadn’t seen him that time he wrecked himself fighting off those guys for Kimizuki. That bastard still owed him big time for that. If Guren had seen him that time, he’d have probably thrown Yuu straight into some super painful boot camp again with the words “if you want someone to beat the shit out of you, we might as well do it right.” Not that Yuu can really fault Guren: those summers spent at boot camp strengthened him and taught him how to better defend himself. At least, if he hadn’t gone to those boot camps, he’d be a worse fighter than he actually was. “I didn’t fight back, though! Mika was with me the entire time—I didn’t fight that guy, he just threw a punch at me!”

“No one just throws a punch without a reason, Yuu.”

“Well,” Yuu scratches the back of his head. “Okay, so I may have told him off, but still! I didn’t fight back! Mika was there—just ask Mika! He’d tell you!”

That was another good thing that came from being Mika’s something. Well, Yuu likes to think that after spilling his life story to the guy, he’s a friend. So he’ll call Mika a friend and Guren can suck it. But Guren trusted Mika for some reason. There was always an odd tension whenever they were together, but Guren trusts that Mika would never lie to him. He had good reason for that, too: Mika hadn’t lied to him before, no matter how much Yuu wanted him to. Mikaela was student body president for a reason. He took the role way too seriously.

“Well, that’s actually an improvement,” Guren says, nonchalantly. Yuu perks up. “Did you know Kureto is handling this year’s Young Marines program?” Guren grins sharply. Yuu’s stomach drops. “Interesting, right? A Hīragi actually leading a camp? It’s never happened before…”

“N-no way—no, Guren, wait—!”

“You’re going.”

What?! Are you kidding me? That guy’s one speech away from shooting up the entire place, there’s no way I’d go train under him!” Yuu shouts, appalled.

“Guess you better not be in the same building as him when he does,” Guren shrugs, smirking when Yuu swears loudly and falls back on his bed.

“You don’t even like him!”

“I’m hoping you could annoy him to death for me,” Guren replies, mildly.

“You’re horrible.”

“Uh huh.”

“This is child abuse.”

“Nice try,” Guren says, unbothered. He’s actually scrolling through his phone, that’s how much he doesn’t care.

“How could you do this to your only son?” Yuu whines, playing the family card. It’s an emergency; there’s no way he won’t play dirty to get out of this.

Guren looks surprised for a second, thumb freezing over the touch screen of his phone. He always looks startled, whenever Yuu says something remotely close to dad or family. “Tch, don’t pull that shit with me. If you want to even survive a week under Shinya then you’re going to have to learn how to control yourself,” Guren recovers, darting his eyes back to his phone.  

“I can control myself!” Yuu protests. At Guren’s look, he deflates. “I mean…fine, so maybe I don’t think things through,” he ignores Guren’s snort here, “but I promise I’ll make the cut and I’ll make you proud! I can do this!” He ends, firmly, and misses the way Guren’s eyes soften at the declaration before returning to their usual shade of carelessness.

“Don’t be a brat, Yuu, it’s more of a summer camp than actual work at this point. It’s only six weeks.”

“Of torture,” Yuu whines.

Guren shrugs. “Don’t pick fights, then. I’m ordering pizza for dinner, so don’t fall asleep or I’m eating all of it,” and he leaves without another word, probably to return to his study where he’ll go back to doing absolutely nothing because Yuu is convinced the only real work he does is when he’s overseas. Guren has only gone overseas once since he gained official custody of Yuu when he was ten.

“You suck!”

“You would know,” Guren’s voice drifts from down the hall.

Yuu sputters, flushes, and then mashes his face into his pillow. Stupid Guren. It’s hard to think that it’s been six years since he adopted him. Some nights, Yuu thinks he can smell the moth bitten blankets from the orphanage, can feel them under his fingers, coarse and heavy; his mattress, hard and cold but not uncomfortable; thinks he can hear the wake up bell, the groans and muffled talk from the other orphans. He wonders what compelled Guren to adopt him of all kids. He was older than the others, had a record with bad behavior. He remembers the first time he saw Guren, impossibly tall and strong, gazing down at him with cool eyes and the beginnings of a smirk when he took a step back in surprise.

Yuu, this is Lieutenant Guren. Say hello.”

And the first thing Yuu had said, after he had gotten over the surprise, was “Quit looking at me like that, your face is stupid” and that was more due to the fact that his knowing look made Yuu bristle, made him want to say something to piss off this new adult into staying far away from him. Except Guren hadn’t been startled away: he’d grinned and bent down to his level and called him a brat and Yuu had been so mad, he’d stomped on his foot and told him he could go suck on a grenade and Guren had laughed, loudly.

Yuu remembers how that made a tinge of happiness well up in him, before it was squashed when the director hastily shooed him away and tried to apologize for his behavior—citing trauma and he doesn’t have many friends as reasons. He’d run back into the common room and holed himself up in his own bunk, picking at the blankets moodily and thinking that the next time he saw the director, he’d stick spaghetti in her purse or something because he was fine.

There was nothing wrong with him, Yuu remembers thinking.

So his parents went batshit and tried to kill him, almost succeeding when his mother decided to end herself in the bathtub and his father lit up the house in the ensuing aftermath. Yuu touches his hip at the reminder, rubbing absently. He still has burn scars along his side. Even after telling Mika where he had gotten them from, he still felt his blue eyes gaze at them whenever he took off his shirt. Yuu thinks he’ll always feel eyes on them, but at least Mika’s don’t feel judgmental or uncomfortable.

Guren adopted him a few weeks after that encounter. Or, more accurately, he requested for him immediately after he’d been shooed away and the processing and paperwork and other requisites took a few weeks.

Yuu hadn’t believed it at first. Refused to go, even. It had been two years since he’d been dumped into the orphanage, how could he possibly leave, when this was all he basically knew now? That is, until Guren walked into the common room and threw some huge manila folder at him as proof. Then barked at him to pack up, he was coming home with him, and he was hungry so he wanted Yuu to be packed up and ready in twenty.

Yuu had been ready in ten.

He likes to think they solidified their bond when Yuu nicknamed him stupid Guren and Guren took to calling him a mouthy brat at the restaurant.

But, maybe, it had been on his fifth night in his new home.

Yuu always woke up with night terrors since he was little; he was used to them, and the other kids just groaned and whined until they learned to sleep through it. But that night, Guren sat at the edge of his bed and asked him if they were bad—asked him if he could hear it, smell it, feel the flames licking his skin, see every line on his father’s face as he hit him, see the spreading pool of his mother’s blood on the tile with crystal clear accuracy, and Yuu bit back a sob and asked, how’d you know?

Guren’s reason for adopting him became clear after that: Mahiru, his late fiancée, always wanted children but couldn’t. They’d decided they would adopt after they married, but that never happened—because Guren watched her die right before him during a research incident, watched her take a chemical explosion that was supposed to be his with an unknowing smile.

Mahiru might be dead, Guren had told him, but that didn’t mean that her dreams died with her.

That didn’t mean his had to die in that house, too.

Yuu can’t say if Guren is a good dad or not because, frankly, his only comparison had tried to murder him on multiple occasions. But Yuu can say that Guren tries—he has always tried, so hard, since the very beginning—and Guren has never raised a hand at him, not even when he blew up the microwave when he was twelve because he accidentally left the fork on his plate. Not even when Yuu turned all their clothes pink when he shoved a red hoodie in the washing machine last minute. Not even when it felt like Yuu couldn’t get along with Guren sometimes, when it felt like their rift was too big and wide to ever hope and close like normal kids with their foster parents eventually do.

Guren has always, always felt safe and he has always, always tried to make things better.

Even if he was a jerk sometimes.

“YUU! Get out here, some pink haired punk’s looking for you!”

“Kimizuki?” Yuu shouts back, confused.

“How should I know? He’s your friend.”

Kimizuki didn’t often drop by his home, but it wasn’t unwelcomed when he did. It’s also nice to shove the fact that he made friends into Guren’s face every now and then.

Yuu brightens, pushing bittersweet memories to the back of his mind. He grabs his wallet and phone from his bureau before rushing to the living room, finding Kimizuki shuffling awkwardly before his adoptive father with the biggest scowl on his face.

“What do you want, asshole?” Yuu says, by way of greeting. Guren doesn’t even bat an eye; he just watches, amused, as his son and the pink haired delinquent leer at each other like they’re preparing for a fight. It’s twice as amusing when they high five instead.

“What do you mean what do I want? Yoichi is downstairs crying again and I don’t know how to make him stop like you do,” Kimizuki grumbles, pink staining his cheeks. He’s actually upset: his upset and angry face are the same, Yuu has learned over the months. “Some dickheads from Sanguinem High caught up with him while I was in practice.”

Again? I’ll fucking—not fight them, that would be stupid,” Yuu clears his throat when Guren gives him a sharp look. “Uh, listen, it would be dumb to fight them anyway. It’s not like they’d stop, and it’d only give them another reason to go after him. He can’t take punches,” Yuu reasons.

“For once, you actually sounded smart, dumbass.”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean—hey, don’t you walk away—Guren, I’ll be back at eight, alright? KIMIZUKI!” Yuu fumbles, rushing out after his friend as Guren waves him off. Yuu catches up to Kimizuki at the bottom of the stairs, where Yoichi is huddled in a sad little ball by the wall.

Kimizuki sighs. “Yoichi, Yuu’s here.”

“Y-Yuuuuu!” Yoichi wails immediately, springing up and latching onto Yuu like a koala. Yuu pats his back with a half-smile, asking what happened and getting a nasally and disjointed retelling of exactly what happened. All Yuu really cares about was that a group of jerks decided bullying Yoichi would be fun and Yoichi managed to bat them away long enough to run into Kimizuki, where he proceeded to start crying and ask between sobs if he knew where Yuu was.  

“There, there, stop crying,” Yuu says, good-naturedly. “Look, you stood up for yourself. That’s way better than last year!”

“Y-yeah, I kind of did. But it’s thanks to Kimizuki-kun that I was okay,” Yoichi sniffles, looking decidedly better.

“I-I just told them to screw off, it's not a big deal!” Kimizuki flushes, looking away to hide his face.

Yuu grins and turns back to Yoichi. “Now all you have to work on is not crying at everything.”

Yoichi nods furiously. “I-I’ve been working really hard on that! I think…I’m getting better, right?” he looks over to Kimizuki hopefully, who doesn’t make fun or scoff, just nods with a hint of a smile at the corner of his lips.

“Hey, while we’re out,” Kimizuki thumbs down the sidewalk, “wanna go get some burgers? I haven’t eaten since lunch so I’m starving.”

Yoichi brightens up at that, looking at Yuu hopefully.  

“Yeah, sounds cool!” Yuu grins, stomach grumbling at the thought. “Ergh, crap. Actually, Guren was gonna’ order pizza for dinner…”

“Just text him that you’ll bring home burgers instead,” Kimizuki resolves.

“Yeah, that’s a good idea,” Yuu digs around his pockets for his cellphone.

“We’re not going to stay long, are we?” Yoichi asks while Yuu messages Guren.

“Nah, I have to visit Mirai before it gets dark. I promised to bring her some curly fries and a milkshake. The hospital keeps her on a diet so she can only have junk food once a month.”

“That’s really sweet of you, Kimizuki-kun!”

Kimizuki can only manage a half-hearted grumble, pushing his glasses up his nose to hide the splotches of color on his cheeks.

“Well, my mom doesn’t need me back until seven so I can come with you to the hospital if you want,” Yoichi wipes any remaining tears from his face and rushes over to Kimizuki’s side after he nods, starting to walk, Yuu close behind.

“Stupid Guren,” Yuu complains as he shoves his phone back in his pocket. “He wants two cheeseburgers. He’s gonna’ get fat.”

“Isn’t your dad in the military? He’ll burn it right off,” Kimizuki smirks.

“I know, that’s the worst part,” Yuu grimaces, and his two friends laugh.

They make it to the burger joint in half the time it usually takes, entering laughing as Kimizuki recounts how one of the cocky quarterbacks from their school fell on his ass during practice, and Yuu is about to ask Kimizuki if they could include them in their senior year prank plan at the end of the year when he catches sight of blonde hair.

“Oh, hey, Mi—!” Yuu's breath stutters.

It hits him there—in a greasy burger joint, in front of his two friends—just why it is that Mika makes his heart thud and his body all warm and weird. It’s really dumb, in retrospect, that he understands the feelings that have always brewed mulishly inside of himself when Mika is grabbing two trays of food off the counter. But the sunlight that filters through the window is white, catching on his blonde hair, revealing so many variations of blonde that Yuu finds himself trying to pick out as many as he can in that split second—wonders if he can spend more time doing just that later, wonders if the colors would change if he touched them with his fingertips.

He’s so glad Mika hasn’t noticed him yet because the worst part about all of this are his eyes, how they glow such a vivid shade of blue that Yuu actually crashes into Kimizuki —and, for once, he’s glad he did, because the ensuing argument keeps his thoughts away from the fact that he may like the student body president in the way that Yoichi liked Mitsuba that one summer ago. Only stronger. And for a lot longer, maybe, because everything he’s been feeling since probably sophomore year is starting to make sense and it’s definitely not the time for that.

But maybe now Yuu can finally admit that those wet dreams he’s had about blonde hair and blue eyes aren’t just because he happens to like those two colors—and Yuu kills that thought right then and there because he does not need that taunting him in a restaurant full of people.

“Move it!” Kimizuki grumbles when the line moves.

“Shove off,” Yuu snaps back, not really meaning it, more trying not to stare at Mika too much.

Just then, Mika spots him and his whole self just lights up in delight.

So does Yuu’s face—an unattractive shade of red.

“Hey, Yuu-chan! I didn’t think I’d catch you here!” Mika shouts, bright and bubbly.

“Uh—well, I—yeah,” Yuu’s chokes out and maybe engaging in a battle of wills with Kimizuki wasn’t the best idea when he can only let out strangled noises now that Mika has effectively stolen his ability to talk. He isn’t ready to look at him, not after he realized just how—attractive Mika was? How attractive he’s always been; why he shouldn’t be surprised by all those love letters stuffed in lockers or the typical “come to the back lot I need to speak to you” confessions that Yuu sometimes saw when he was running track with Kimizuki. But it all makes sense, really, and it’s super irritating: Mika is attractive and now Yuu gets why he’s always been a little annoyed at the idea of Mika dating any one of those girls. He wasn’t annoyed, he was just jealous, but Yuu isn’t going to think about that yet, no, those are before-bed thoughts not standing-in-a-restaurant-gaping thoughts.

How is it that Yuu never realized any of this until now, in a greasy burger joint by school, in front of all of his friends and Mika’s friends? Why did he not notice this before? Right, because he’s dumb and has a penchant for not thinking things through and it’s all gone to fuck because now he can’t act natural. He can’t hide his feelings; everyone’s always said he wears his heart literally on his face and the sight of Mika makes his insides hot and his heart all gooey and gross.

 “I-I, uh, thought you had a meeting today, Mika!” Yuu replies after a long moment of staring, voice cracking.

Mika smiles, brilliant and effortless as usual. Not at all perturbed by Yuu staring at him like an idiot for longer than comfortable.

Yuu kind of wants to die.

“Not this evening,” Mika answers easily. “Since half of the committee wouldn’t be present today, we decided to have it yesterday.”

“…Oh. Cool,” Yuu replies, lamely.

Kimizuki shoots him a weird look, looking between them for a second before narrowing his eyes at Yuu.

Mika falters a little, cocking his head curiously.

Fuck—fuck, he’s really cute, Yuu realizes, and really wants to die because this can’t be happening here of all places.

“Yuu-san, are you okay?” Yoichi asks concernedly. “Your face is re—!”

“I’M FINE—totally fine, there’s nothing wrong! I’ve never been better! Uh, can we order or?” Yuu clears his throat, shoving Kimizuki to the cashier and giving Mika one last awkward wave he returns with a soft smile, a smile that makes Yuu’s heart beat fast and strong, but he’s once again saved by Kimizuki when he tells him it’s his turn to order.

“I’ll, uh, have a number ten?”

“A ten?” Kimizuki interrupts, flatly.

Yuu’s brow ticks. “Yeah, a ten. What’s your problem?”

“Yuu, a ten’s a fucking salad.”

Yuu opens his mouth but one look at the menu has him snapping it closed, red tinting his cheeks. “…I’ll have two number four’s and an extra cheeseburger. Large. Shut up, Kimizuki.”

He tries not to let Yoichi’s curious looks get to him as they wait for their meals. He also tries not to glance over at Mika’s table too much because if Shinoa ever found out about this, she would fuck him over so badly. He’s already having a hard time dealing with the fact that she caught him cheating during his freshman year. If she knew he had a huge crush on Mika? She’d make his life a living hell. In fact, just the idea of how hellish she’d make his life if she knew is enough to make Yuu not glance at Mika anymore.

But, apparently, not enough to wipe the weird look off his face.

“Hey,” Kimizuki tells him halfway through their dinner, staring hard like he’s trying to figure out a puzzle. Or how to take his head out of his ass; either works.  “What’s up with you and Mika?”

It’s silent for a moment, then Yuu darts his eyes down his tray and tries to act cool.

“W-what are you talking about?” Yuu shoves his burger in his mouth. “We’re friends, duh, somethin’ you wouldn’t really know about,” he adds around a mouthful of food, snickering when Kimizuki’s brow twitches.

“No, you idiot, I meant what the fuck was that look on your face when you saw the president earlier?”

He saw that? Yuu stiffens, feeling his face heat up treacherously. “What look?”

“The look, y’know,” Kimizuki gestures at his own face, making Yuu scowl.

“I said what look, dumbass, I have no idea what you’re talking about!”

“I think Kimizuki-kun is talking about earlier, when you looked a little—anxious?” Yoichi inputs helpfully. Anxious is putting it lightly. So they both noticed; great, he sucks at hiding his feelings. How does Mika do it?

“I-I just,” Yuu coughs, “didn’t think he came to places like this, is all, he’s a health nut and stuff. It weirds me out,” he lies, but not as convincingly at he thinks if Kimizuki’s eyes narrow even more before widening as if he realized—shit, shitshit, Yuu freezes. “…What?”

“No way.”

What?” Yuu snarls, daring him to say it.

Kimizuki’s grin is absolutely shitty. “I knew it! You like the student body president!”

It’s quiet for a moment, then Yuu is lunging across the table and clobbering Kimizuki while the shithead just laughs like it’s the most hysterical thing that has ever happened to him. It gets so bad, Yoichi is packing up their unfinished dinner and apologizing profusely at the employee sent to kick them out, but that doesn’t stop both boys from pummeling each other as they stumble out, one laughing and one screeching.

And it wouldn’t have mattered if Mika hadn’t been there, watching from across the restaurant with Shinoa and half of the student committee.

It wouldn’t have mattered if Kimizuki hadn’t screamed, “YOU ACTUALLY HAVE A CRUSH ON—MMPHA!” so loudly that Yuu saw the exact moment that Mika’s eyes widened with shock and Yuu’s world sort of collapsed in on him.


iv.

“I have no idea why we even make you do this,” Mitsuba sniffs, handing Yuu a stack of paperwork. Yuu shoves it under his arm and ignores the way Mitsuba scowls at him. “You never get it in on time, anyway.”

“Yeah? Ask Shinoa,” Yuu grumbles, already turning on his heel to walk out the door. “By the way, have you seen Mika recently?”

Mitsuba crosses her arms, thoughtful. “I think I saw him in the cafeteria earlier. But I haven’t really seen him all week. The culture festival is starting, so he’s been really busy lately because this year we’re collaborating with another school so it’ll be bigger than last years.”

“Huh, with who?”

“Sanguinem High.”

Yuu frowns. “Seriously, our rival school?”

“They said they’d cover half the costs and let us use their huge campus,” Mitsuba sniffs, defensive. Yuu guesses this was partially her idea. “It was a good deal, okay? I was all for it, so what if they’re our rival school! They’re a private high school and they have more space!”

Yuu just shrugs and walks out the classroom with a backwards wave. Inwardly, he’s worried. The culture festival is something Yuu attended every year, but the fact that it’s being held in Sanguinem High and the fact that he got the shit beat out of him by a couple of their students doesn’t bode well with him. He’s sure Kimizuki would second the sentiment.

But, that aside, he’s never gone this long without seeing Mika? One would think that once he realized his feelings for him ran deeper than friendship, he’d be able to better enjoy his crush’s presence—that is, unless said crush suddenly disappears off the face of the school. He hasn’t seen Mika since that day at the burger place and Yuu hadn’t really thought he wouldn’t see him. He’d been so nervous about how he was going to act natural when he saw Mika again that when he didn’t see Mika the next day, it threw him off. So far, Mika has only managed some half-hearted smiles and Yuu talked to him a little, stumbling over his words but not enough to make Mika suspicious or anything, on the third day. The fourth day, he just got nods and waves. The fifth, a glance here and there.

Yuu’s almost tempted to pick a fight and let himself get hit just so Mika can show up at his apartment.

But he doesn’t because he’s not that desperate.

He’s just desperate enough to pick up more and more errands from Shinoa in an effort to maybe get Mika to smile at him like he always does? Hopefully. Please?

But he doesn’t find Mika after he drops the papers off. Instead, he finds Yoichi but, in lieu of the usual wave, Yoichi rushes over to him with a stack of books and papers in his arms, looking bewildered.

“Yuu, I have to talk to you!”

“What’s up, Yoichi? You busy with the festival, too?”

“Yes, but, um, that’s not what I need to talk to you about! I don’t know if I should tell you this, but…” Yoichi hesitates for a second, then steels himself. He’s really gotten better at this whole toughening up thing. “Mika-san spoke to me earlier about you.”

Yuu perks up. “H-he did? Did he need me for something? Do you know where he is?”

“Well, no, I don’t, I mean… he asked me if I had any idea who it was that you liked—!”

What did you tell him?!” Yuu hisses, grabbing Yoichi by the collar. The boy laughs nervously, sweating bullets and clutching the books in his arms tightly. “Yoichi!”

“I told him I might have an idea, but I wasn’t sure and when he asked me who that person was I, um, panicked and might have said…”

“YOICHI!”

“THAT IT WAS SHINOA-SAN!”

For a second, it’s dead silent, and then Yuu has Yoichi in a headlock.

“OF ALL PEOPLE, YOU HAD TO SAY SHINOA? WHY COULDN’T YOU JUST SAY IT WAS SOMEONE HE DIDN’T KNOW?!”

“I thought you wouldn’t mind since you’re always running errands for her!” Yoichi flails. “It was the best person I could think of aside from Kimizuki-kun!”

“Ugh, I think it would have been worse if you’d said that dickhead,” Yuu grimaces at the thought. “But, seriously, Shinoa? She’s a demon. I’m about ninety percent sure she’s actually a demon and if she ever knew that I had a crush on Mika, she’d never let me live it down! I’d rather let her tell the principle that I cheated on that practice exam than have her know that I like him!”

Oh ho ho~! Why, Yuu-san, I had no idea that you felt that way about our beloved student body president,” Shinoa drawls sweetly behind him, leaning out the window with her violet hair spilling over her shoulder as per usual—looking like she just received the best Christmas present in her life. She even punctuates her sentence with a mocking four-finger wave that has Yuu promising bodily harm if she even said one word about what she heard. So of course she keeps talking: “Don’t worry, Yuu-san, I’m sure our president will be more than glad to know about your naughty intentions! Not that you would know anything about being naughty.

When Yuu lunges at Shinoa, at least Yoichi is there to hold him back.

 

“Hey, what’s up with you guys? Why do you look like someone died?” Kimizuki asks immediately, the last to arrive at their usual after-school hang out spot: the forest preserve across from Yoichi’s home. In his hands, he carries three cans of teas and he tosses one to each of his friends before opening his own, raising a brow when Yoichi clears his throat nervously.

“Shinoa knows,” Yuu states flatly, staring at the sky with dead eyes.

“What?” Kimizuki frowns. “How? The president’s been busy with the culture festival, you haven’t given yourself away yet.”

Yuu gives him the finger.

“Well, that’s mostly my fault,” Yoichi speaks up, guiltily. “I-I may have accidentally told Mika-san that Yuu-san liked Shinoa-san?”

“Wait, wait, how did that happen?” Kimizuki frowns, even more confused. “I thought it was pretty clear that Yuu likes Mika?”

“Mika was asking Yoichi who I had a crush on and he freaked out and said Shinoa,” Yuu clarifies, moodily rolling the can of tea in his hands when he sits up. “When Yoichi told me, erm, I might have freaked out, too, and said that if Shinoa ever knew that I had a crush on Mika…she’d never let me live it down. And I wasn’t wrong,” Yuu grits his teeth, denting the can a bit. Yoichi gulps. “She heard me and hasn’t shut up about it since. I dunno’ how Yoichi convinced me to leave without at least stomping on her favorite glitter pens.”

But Kimizuki doesn’t focus on the Shinoa problem—he catches onto a point that neither boy had considered. “Why was Mika snooping around for who you liked?”

“Uh,” Yuu pauses. “I don’t know, because he wanted to know?”

“So why didn’t he just ask you?”

“Maybe he was just too busy and couldn’t find me. He’s the one leading the festival and stuff,” Yuu shrugs, helplessly. “Why does it matter?”

“Because, idiot, that’s not normal!”

“Says who?”

“Says everyone! He could have just asked you instead of asking Yoichi! He’s the student body president, he could have found you whenever he wanted. He’s also been in a funky mood lately and if he was just your friend, he wouldn’t have an issue with who the hell you liked! He doesn’t even like gossip, you know this!” Kimizuki presses, trying to get Yuu to understand something he sincerely doesn’t.

“Mika’s just polite,” Yuu insists. “He probably just wanted to know because he knew asking me would, erm…be a bad idea.”

“Like when I figured it out?” Kimizuki says, flatly.

Yuu glares.

“Right,” the pink haired boy snorts. “No, you moron, Mika asking around just proves that he likes your idiot self, too, and he was trying to see if he had a chance or not! Smart, I guess, except Yoichi can’t keep a secret,” Kimizuki pauses, thinks about it. “Huh. Never mind. Mika might have thought it through, but didn’t expect Yoichi to panic and lie. Did Mika ask you not to tell us?”

Yoichi nods fervently.

“Called it,” Kimizuki sips his tea like he’s a fucking genius.  

What?!” Yuu screeches belatedly, face reddening obscenely. Kimizuki smirks. Yoichi smiles. “Are you making fun of me?! I’LL BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF YOU!”

“I’M NOT MAKING FUN OF YOU, YOU’RE JUST FUCKING BLIND!”

“AM NOT!”

“ARE TOO!” Kimizuki gets up in his face. Yuu stands his ground, but the next words extinguish his rage: “How could you not see that Mika has liked you all this time?! He literally does anything for you and stares at you whenever you’re in the same goddamn room as him!”

“He…he does?” Yuu asks, hopefully.

Kimizuki face-palms. “Idiot! Even before I knew you, I thought you and Mika had something going on but it wasn’t any of my business so I stayed out of it. Look, you told me once that he’s always at your house when you get your ass beat, right?” Yuu nods, bewildered, and Kimizuki continues: “Do you think he does that for anyone? Not even Yoichi goes to check to see if you’ve got enough fuckin’ milk in your fridge and buys it for you if you don’t. Mika’s got a serious thing for you. I don’t know if you like him that much, but Mika likes you enough to ditch his council meetings to make sure you’re okay. You can’t be that blind, right?”

And suddenly a lot of things make sense: how Mika always waited for him after he got in a fight, how he treated his injuries no matter what he said, and that look on his face whenever he did—something he hasn’t seen directed at anyone before, a very gentle and affectionate expression that always leaves Yuu a little breathless, a lot warm. Mika’s fingers in his hair as he falls asleep, that husky drawl of his name when he thinks Yuu has fallen asleep already.

At Yuu’s dazed look, Kimizuki can only press the cool surface of the can against his temple. “Ugh, how are you even still alive?”

 

Just a day after that incident, Mika starts talking to Yuu again. He cites the culture festival as leeching his time, but Yuu knows he’s lying because Mika looks him dead in the eye when he says it.

Yuu can always tell when Mika is lying.

He doesn’t know when he started to tell, but he can, and it sort of hurts.

That day is when it all started to hurt a little more.

It’s all so different now.

It’s not the same, something changed, and Yuu doesn’t know how to fix it.

And after one month of living like this, Yuu doesn’t think it can change it back to how it was. It’s drained Yuu in a way he didn’t think possible. He hates it, hates how this new Mika treats him. He’s tried all sorts of things—from asking Mika to hang out with him to forcibly dragging him back to his apartment in an attempt to spark that familiar warmth back in his blue eyes. But he can’t because no matter what Yuu does, Mika remains politely detached.

It hurts and he has no idea how to fix it—even Kimizuki can’t rile him up as easily anymore and that’s when they know it’s bad.

Mika doesn’t act the same way as before, doesn’t look at him the same way as before, and Yuu can’t really bank on the knowledge that maybe it’s because of Yoichi’s fib of who he likes because Mika is all mixed signals and long stares and faint smiles and I’m fine, Yuu-chan’s.

Mika doesn’t touch him like he used to, too. Yuu doesn’t even realize it’s a thing that Mika did until he doesn’t do it anymore. He also leaves Yuu to Shinoa the instant she waltzes into the room and no matter how much Yuu sputters out that he’d rather go with him, Mika just gets this forlorn look on his face and softly assures that he can handle things and he’d rather Yuu stay with Shinoa for now.

And Shinoa is such a bitch about it.

“What’s with the long face?” Shinoa says, a day before the culture festival. “Trouble in paradise, Yuu-san?”

Yuu is still staring at the door Mika walked out of. “You would know,” he throws back, bitterly. He finally tears his eyes off the door and looks over at her, finding her sitting on the desk with one leg crossed over the other. She has a sneaky smile on her face and Yuu frowns, not liking it one bit. “What the hell do you want, Shinoa?”

“Oh, nothing at all!” Shinoa texts something lazily, tucking the phone back in her cardigan pocket when she’s finished. The sleeves are long on her and when she brings up one hand, she presses the excess cuff against her lips in a mock-innocent gesture. “I’m just wondering why our dear president looks so gloomy all the time. Surely you didn’t say something uncalled for again, Yuu-san?”

“Of course I didn’t! I don’t know what’s up with him,” Yuu mumbles, even though he has an idea of what is up with him but he doesn’t know how to fix it without making it worse. Yuu steps closer to Shinoa when she waves her hand airily at him in a come-hither motion. “What?”

“Well, I’m sure you know how our student body president can be a little eccentric. He has his moods and his off-days. He’s actually quite cold, don’t you think, Yuu-san? Always hiding behind that smile of his. I don’t see what you find so appealing in him. You’re smarter than to think he’s actually as kind as he makes himself out to be, aren’t you?” Shinoa beams. Yuu catches movement in his peripheral but before he can really look, Shinoa robs his focus again. “Actually, Yuu-san,” she leans in all of a sudden. He can feel her breath on his lips and Yuu freezes, staring into dark violet eyes. “Wouldn’t it be easier if you just liked me?

“W-what?” Yuu chokes, reddening, and stumbles back. Yuu glances at the doorway but it’s empty. “Don’t fucking joke like that, I can’t stand you,” Yuu recovers, narrowing green eyes. “You know that. The only reason I let you order me around all the time is because—“

“Ah, yes,” Shinoa takes out her phone, twirling it around by its cellphone strap. “Because Yuu-san couldn’t keep his bad habit to himself when he was younger, could he?”

“So I cheated on the exam, big deal,” Yuu huffs, shoving his hands in his pockets. “Guren would be pissed if he knew.

“Hmm,” Shinoa hums and her smile is much too pleased for Yuu’s liking. “You’re right. It was only a practice exam, too, so it’s not like it holds any weight now, does it? No one would care now if I told them. It’s been too long, and you have surely learned your lesson by now. Good boy,” she adds.

Yuu growls, hackles rising.

“Ah, ah! Be nice, now, Yuu-san. After all, I have something even better to blackmail you with—!” Shinoa laughs when Yuu gets up in her face in a split second.

“If you fucking tell him, you’ll regret it!”

“Will I? And what will you do to me that’ll make me regret it?” Shinoa’s eyes glint. “Fight me?”

“I might!”

Shinoa smiles knowingly. “Mitsuba was right—you’re quite adorable when you have no idea what to do.”

“I—he can’t know,” Yuu insists, a tinge desperate now. “He can’t! I can deal with this!”

“Oh, really? Because all I’ve seen is you making it worse,” Shinoa states rather coolly and Yuu falters, leaning back when she leans close to his face again. “Believe it or not, Mika is my friend, too, and seeing you hurt him like this every day because one of your little friends couldn’t handle a simple question makes me quite sadistic.

“I’ll figure it out,” Yuu grits out. “How about you stop being such a bitch and stop getting in the way every time I try?”

“But then it’s no fun!” Shinoa chortles, the heaviness in her gaze evaporating as if it were never there.

Yuu’s brow twitches and, promising himself self-control will come in handy someday, he blows out a gusty sigh instead, letting the anger drain while Shinoa beams happily at him. Shinoa might be a demon, but she hasn’t done anything to really hurt him. She only pushes him like this when she wants something. “Alright, alright, you win. What do you want? There’s a reason you’re making a big deal out of this.”

“You already know, Yuu-san!”

“No, I don’t.”

“Yuu-san,” Shinoa admonishes.

Yuu scowls, glares, scowls harder when that does nothing, and then snaps: “Fine! Maybe I do know! But I won’t do it.”

“Too bad, you will.”

“No, I won’t,” Yuu shoots back, irritated. “You can’t make me—!” When her eyebrows rise, Yuu pinks. “I mean…it’s not that easy, okay?”

“Of course it is, all you have to do is stop being a cherry boy and tell him!” Shinoa beams.

I AM NOT A CHERRY BOY, TAKE THAT BACK!”

“Only if you tell him!”

“NO!”

Shinoa clucks her tongue. “That’s such a cherry boy thing to say.”

“I SAID TO TAKE THAT BACK!”

“Nope.”

“Shinoa…”

“Nuh uh. Cherry boy,” she ignores his indignant shouts to add, “Tell him and I will.”

“FINE!” Yuu explodes, then realizes what she’s done and glowers at her triumphant grin. “That was dirty.”

“But?”

“…I’ll do it…”

“When?”

“After the culture festival.”

“Why not during?”

“He’ll be busy. I don’t wanna’ bug him with something like this while he’s working,” Yuu runs his fingers through his hair. Yuu glances at the doorway again. He can’t shake the feeling that someone is watching them, but Shinoa is the best sneak he knows and if someone was, she would know. Then again, she may not tell him if someone was eavesdropping. But, if anyone could possibly mess this up, she’d do anything to stop it, right? She’s Mika’s friend, after all. “It’ll distract him if I confess.”

Shinoa hums. “How astute of you. But I still think you should tell him during the culture festival.”

“No, we’re doing this my way, okay?” Yuu snaps. “I’ll tell him after it ends! I’m not even gonna’ be at the culture festival so it doesn’t matter.”

Shinoa cocks her head. “Why not?”

“I know some, uh, people there who wouldn’t be very happy to see me if I go,” Yuu coughs.

“Still too loonggg!”

“You’re sure eager to see me get rejected,” Yuu scowls, bitterly.

At this, Shinoa looks genuinely surprised. “What makes you say that?”

“Well...” Yuu shuffles, shyly. “It’s just…I don’t think he…wait, d-does he even like guys?” Yuu freezes all of a sudden, horrified. “Shit, does he like guys?! I never thought—!”

“You’re right, you never think,” Shinoa laughs, swinging her legs in delight while Yuu tries not to rip his hair out of his skull at the suddenly horrifying thought that Mika might not even be gay. Or bi. Or anything. What does he know? Suddenly, all the past memories that gave Yuu some comfort that Mika might like him back vanish. Mika is possibly the kindest guy on this side of the planet no matter what Shinoa said; he could just be thinking that Yuu’s stupid and needs all the help he can get and that’s why he acts the way he does!

“Shut up and help me—does he like guys, you gotta’ know, right? You’re his friend!”

“Hmm, maybe?”

“SHINOA!”

“Quiet, quiet! Someone might hear!” Shinoa chides. Yuu makes a strangled sound. “Oh, quit being such a baby! It’s not as bad as you think it is!”

“So you do know!” Yuu accuses.

Shinoa looks unrepentant. “Know what?”

If Mika likes guys or not?!” Yuu growls and Shinoa lets out a peal of delighted laughter at that, looking a lot more pleased than she probably should. She definitely knows and she’s not telling. “Shinoaaa!” Yuu whines, slumping when Shinoa merely pats his head. “This is going overboard! Just tell me if he does or not!”

“I suppose you’ll just have to ask him! After all, he’s the person you like! And you’re not so petty as to hate him if he doesn’t like boys, are you?”

“Of course not,” Yuu scoffs, upset. He lets his gaze trail downward.  

Shinoa smiles a real smile at that, finally looking not like a demon incarnate but something resembling human. “Yuu-san, I assure you. It will go right. I’m not cruel, no matter what you think. So tell him at the culture festival, okay? Mika-san has a break around five. He’ll be in this classroom eating dinner. I can take care of the others so it’s just you two,” Shinoa promises.  

“But…”

“You think about it,” Shinoa tells him, hopping off the desk. She flattens her skirt and smiles at Yuu. “But my condition is you have until tomorrow or I’ll do something that’ll make you regret it~! Bye, Yuu-san!” Shinoa sings and sashays out of the door with a happy whistle. Yuu watches her go, stricken, and then lets his gaze stray out the window, his stomach in knots, his entire body buzzing with energy and fright.

Mika is so important to him, what if he messes up? He always messes up, there’s no way he’d be able to tell him without wording it wrong. How does someone even confess their feelings? He’s never done it before and all the ways girls have done it to him always felt awkward and stilted. Yuu’s throat tightens at the idea. Mika is still avoiding him—what if he told him and Mika just brushed it off? Laughed it off? Yuu wouldn’t be able to bear it. It won’t be just confessing and getting rejected, it’d be confessing and getting rejected and ruining the closest bond he has to another human being because Mika is the only one who gets him, who knows it, who can see Yuu’s burn scars and not flinch because he has his own scars and he’s been in that same darkness Yuu has and Mika has tried, he’s the second person to try with him despite his horrible, horrible attitude and—

“Shit.”

He has until tomorrow and he wishes it’d never come.

Chapter Text

v.

“Why are we going to the culture festival again?” Kimizuki asks, slouching beside Yuu, who, since he met up with Kimizuki, has been looking progressively more and more haggard the closer they approach Sanguinem High.

Shinoa,” Yuu hisses.

Kimizuki is unimpressed. “You know you’re gonna’ get the shit beat out of you if we go.”

“Last I remember, you were getting the shit beat out of you, too! And I took down two by myself!”

“Yeah, but I already weakened them for you.”

You—!” Yuu steams for a second, then drops it, because he has bigger worries than Kimizuki being a dickbag. He’s always a dickbag; that, thankfully, is not going to change any time soon. Mika, however, his entire friendship with him will change depending on how this evening goes and he can’t think straight because of it. Yuu is a frazzled mess of feelings and frustration and fear, but he doesn’t blame Shinoa because if she hadn’t given him a deadline then when the hell was he going to confess to Mika? Tomorrow, next week, next month, next year? Yuu can’t be trusted to handle these things on his own.

He couldn’t even make friends until Guren set a deadline.

And it doesn’t help that he has no idea if Mika swings that way or not. Yuu never really had to think about his sexual orientation: it just was, suddenly, and it doesn’t bother him. For Yuu, it’s just the fact that he likes Mika like that and he’s content with not thinking about it anymore, but Mika is more logical.

He’s methodical, he’s intelligent, he needs things parsed out, and he’s had all of these girls confess their undying love for him and, even though he’s never dated any of them, Mika hasn’t exactly expressed disinterest in girls. And Yuu can’t even bank on that observation because he’s similar: Yuu’s had some girls confess to him and it’s gone about the same way it’s gone for Mika. They’re both polite (or, in Yuu’s case, awkwardly discomfited with all ideas relating back to confessions) whenever they’re confronted. And Yuu turned out to be favorable to men despite all those possibilities so Yuu has no idea if Mika would date a guy. He nearly stops and tells Kimizuki they should head to the arcade instead but he doesn’t: he swallows back his nerves and doesn’t let his eyes stray from the arching school gates of Sanguinem High.

Kimizuki gazes at the colorful mosaic that dominates the entire north wall of the entry gates appraisingly as they enter. “Do you think Yoichi will be free?”

“Probably not,” Yuu answers distantly. “I thought he was participating in some café event?”

“Oh, yeah. He mentioned he was going to be working as a back-up server at the maid café. Maybe we can hang out there and no one will recognize us.”

Suddenly, Yuu thinks that’s a great idea. It’s barely four; Yuu made sure they had the least time possible so he didn’t overthink everything and have a meltdown before the time even came. “Yeah—YEAH! That’s a great idea! Let’s do that, where is that at?”

“I’ll text him.”

And Yoichi replies just as they’re entering the festival itself, deep in the campus of Sanguinem High. And it doesn’t look like any of the football idiots have spotted them, either, so Yuu thinks it’s all going better than he expected. He’s squinting at who he thinks may be one of the football idiots somewhere by a snack table when he bumps into someone, an apology already spilling out of his mouth, but when he looks, he finds startling blue eyes staring straight into his own, a gloved hand gripping his elbow to steady him.

“Yuu-chan,” Mika smiles, his eyes crinkling. Yuu sucks in a sharp breath. “You came after all. Kimizuki-san as well. I hope you’re enjoying the festivities.”

“Yo, president,” Kimizuki nods.

Meanwhile, Yuu’s mind is close to shorting out. 

It’s that smile—the smile that Yuu hasn’t seen in almost a month, the one that makes his gut clench and his face all hot and his entire body just itchy with nervousness because wow, it’s one of those smiles that blows you away. It’s just so fucking pretty and warm and he can’t do this, there is no way he can just tell Mika that he’s had a crush on him for the longest time but he been too dumb to realize it until recently and now he’s going to act weird about it because he’s too aware of it and

“H-hey Mika,” Yuu swallows, sure his face is a fucking awful shade of red.

Mika’s smile widens, revealing one of his sharp canines, and he looks even cuter. And he’s still holding his arm. Yuu can feel his hand with embarrassing intensity.

“Aren’t—aren’t you supposed to be doing something?” Yuu clears his throat, averting his eyes. His heart is racing. Mika still hasn’t let go.

“Hm, not really, I’m free at the moment. Why, is there something I should be doing?” Mika asks, cocking a brow.

“I…guess not?”

“Yuu-chan, are you okay? Your face is really red.”

“IS NOT!”

“Ah, of course not,” Mika says agreeably, then smiles a secretive smile and adds, “But it does look to me like you want to say something,” and Yuu feels a little like dying because how did he know? Was Mika a psychic, too? Yuu hopes not because his mind is a loud static of screaming and cursing and inappropriate fixation of Mika's hand on his elbow.

“I don’t, I mean, not right now, well…”

“So you do have something to say?”

“No!” Yuu says quickly. “Forget I said anything!”

And then Mika proves to be just as much of a jackass as Kimizuki. Yuu forgets that, for all of Mika’s angelic qualities, there’s also that fucking mischievous streak that really, really should not be as attractive as Yuu thinks it is. It really shouldn’t; it’s so problematic. “I don’t know, Yuu-chan,” Mika grins, tauntingly. “It seems to me like you have something to tell me. It sounds urgent, and if you really need to talk to me, I can always pencil you in for next week.”

“Listen here asshole—!”

“We’re blocking the entrance,” Kimizuki reminds impatiently, apparently not fond of watching the president dangerously flirt with his friend—not that Yuu notices, Kimizuki observes critically, that idiot looks about the same as he does when he’s taking an exam.

Confident, yet utterly panicked.

“But Yuu-chan has something important to tell me,” Mika points out, innocently.

“It’s just your shirt!” Yuu blurts out, then sends Kimizuki a fatal look when he snorts and rolls his eyes at them like this is the most ridiculous thing he has ever had to witness. “You’re wearing Sanguinem High colors so you look weird. And I just thought you’d be busier, since you’re president and all—don’t you have to, uh, go be president somewhere?”

“I can be president from here just fine, Yuu-chan.”

“…Are you sure?

Mika suddenly laughs, a full-on, shoulder-wracking, laugh that has his eyes closing and his smile stretched wide and sunny on his face. Shinoa doesn’t know what she’s talking about: Mika is beautiful and kind and no one is ever going to convince Yuu otherwise. He looks away from Mika’s lips when Mika recovers, desperately trying to think of a way out of this without putting his foot in his mouth, when suddenly Mika pats his head like he’s done all those times Yuu is injured. But this head pat is different, somehow, his fingers digging into Yuu’s hair intimately.

Mika is taller than him.

It’s still something that bugs the hell out of Yuu, but he guess he can let it slide this once.

“I’m just teasing you. You’re too tense, Yuu-chan, you should relax. It’s a festival, after all,” Mika encourages, cheeks a little flushed. And Yuu is charmed—like, officially charmed. He’s so charmed he can only nod at him. “Actually, you should come hang out with me during my break. I feel like we haven’t properly spoken in a while and I’m sorry about that. I’ve had a lot to deal with the past few weeks.”

“Uh.”

Mika smiles patiently at him.

“When’s that?” Kimizuki butts in, apparently unable to take anymore of Yuu gaping like an idiot and Mika smiling down at him like some sort of love-struck menace.

“Five.”

Yuu swallows.

“Alright, we’ll be there,” Kimizuki grabs Yuu by the shoulder and shoves him ahead, waving back at Mika. “We’re gonna’ go find Yoichi in the meantime! Later, president!”

“Of course, have a good time,” Mika nods, and smirks when Yuu strangles out a super belated s-see you later, Mika! as Kimizuki drags him away. He stands there for a second, clenching the hand that held onto Yuu’s elbow for a moment, before he slips it into his pocket and thinks about how unbearably lucky he is that Yuu reciprocated his feelings—lets himself think, for a moment, that things could have turned out much worse if he’d decided he had no chance at all; thinks how much happiness he’ll feel when once Yuu says those three words to him; thinks how it’s possibly the second thing he’s ever wanted so badly in his life.

The first one had been a loving home, but Krul is a distant mother and an icy commanding officer. 

“And Yuu-san calls me sadistic,” Shinoa hums, coming to stand beside him. “He was so red, I thought he was going to faint.”

“Yuu-chan is fine. I just wanted to give him some confidence. If he’s too tense, he’ll overthink things,” Mika dismisses. He turns to her, all bright smiles and dark, December cold eyes. “But if you ever mock Yuu-chan like that again, I will make you regret it. It’s in your best interests not to take my threats lightly, Hiragi-san,” he taps her shoulder in a faux casual gesture and walks away without another look.

Shinoa lets herself breathe once he’s far enough away, shoulders relaxing, eyes wary as she glances at the retreating form of Mikaela Hyakuya. He was possibly one of the only people who could instill fear in her, and her family had quite the cruel streak. Then again, Mika is Krul’s son, and the Tepes line of work in the military is grim and frightening and dirty and Mika has never been the same since he entered the accelerated discipline program spearheaded by Ferid Bathory when he turned twelve.

At least Yuu won’t be alone when he enters the military, Shinoa thinks a little sadly.

He’ll just be the hero on the plaque while Mika hides his bloody hands in those pristine gloves of his.

Shinoa decides she’ll buy Mika a basket of strawberry crepes for the trouble she caused and wanders away in search of Mitsuba.

 

“Um,” Yoichi’s smile is wobbly.

“This is dumb,” Kimizuki looks very unamused.

“I can’t do this,” Yuu stares into his coffee cup, exhaustion catching up to him. He sort of wants to go back home and binge eight hours on Guren’s PS4. Or sleep for the rest of his life. Either/or.

“Is Yuu-san okay? He’s been staring at his coffee for five minutes,” Yoichi asks worriedly, watching his friend suddenly down a whole cup of scalding coffee. He fumbles for some napkins when Yuu clutches his mouth, flailing.

“Yeah, he’s fine. He’s just being an idiot,” Kimizuki snorts, ripping off a piece of donut. “He thinks Mika doesn’t like him.”

“Ah, I see now.”

“Uh huh.”

“Shut up, Kimizuki! How do YOU know he does?” Yuu retorts, defensively. “I don’t even know if he—if he—nevermind…”

“If he what?” Kimizuki squints. “What idea do you have in that empty head of yours now?”

“Maybe we can help,” Yoichi adds, earnestly.

“…it’s just, I don’t know…if he l-likes guys,” Yuu stammers, pink-faced and sinking in his seat a little.

Kimizuki blinks, nonplussed. “He likes you, doesn’t he?”

“Mika likes everyone! He’s MIKA!” Yuu exclaims, frustrated that no one seems to get it.

“I think what Kimizuki-kun is trying to say,” Yoichi mediates while Kimizuki rolls his eyes so hard his entire body goes with it, “is that Mika-san has particular preference for you, Yuu. I think that Mika-san likes you a lot. Um, he…speaks very highly of you, and he’s always looking out for you,” Yoichi reveals, smiling a little when Yuu lifts his head up. “And, one time, when Mitsuba-san sent me on an errand to the main office, I happened to notice that he was heading up to the roof. I followed him because it’s against school rules to trespass on the roof and I thought he may need help with something up there…”

Even Kimizuki is listening in at this point, tilting his chair back on its hind legs.

“You were there, Yuu-san, sleeping on the rooftop under a patch of sun. Mika-san….he walked up to you and,” Yoichi smiles at Yuu kindly, “he sat next to you and pet your head. I’m not sure what happened when you woke up because I left, but…”

Someone had shaken him awake gently and Yuu awoke with his gaze full of Mika, blonde-swept bangs clinging to sharp cheekbones; blue eyes, half-lidded, staring back into his own with a gentleness that still made his cheeks hot. Yuu remembers flailing from the proximity, his heart thudding, and he remembers not having enough time to think about it because Mika was already up and casually remarking that they’d be late for class if they didn’t get going soon. He remembers palming down wild black hair, remembers how Mika had gazed down at his gloved hands as if—

Yuu is quiet for a few moments, and the silence that hangs between them is less discomforting and more baited, hopeful.

“…I’ll tell him,” Yuu decides, green eyes firm. “Kimizuki, you don’t have to come. I can do this by myself.”

Kimizuki smirks and Yoichi beams, clutching the tray to his chest.

They knew Yuu would come through eventually.

 

The thing about planning a confession is that it never goes according to plan—at least, not in Yuu’s case. Things don’t tend to go as planned when it comes to Yuu.

Yuu is glaring at Mika in the supply closet the blonde had unceremoniously shoved them in, barely able to make out his face in the dark. A gloved hand covers Yuu’s mouth, which is probably for the best since he pretty much wanted to cuss out Mika for making them run away like cowards. In fact, he’s muffling out curses and protests despite the steel grip Mika has on his jaw because this is all so unnecessary.

“Yuu!” Mika says, sharply. Yuu stiffens. It isn’t often Mika calls his name without attaching that annoying honorific at the end. It must be serious, Yuu thinks, then narrows his eyes even more because they can handle it. “They brought half the football team to fight you. There is no way you can win.”

Yuu pulls Mika’s hand off his mouth, green eyes blazing. “I CAN FIGH—mmph!”

“Yuu-chan!” Mika hisses.

I meant,” Yuu whispers hotly, after tearing Mika’s hand off his mouth for the second time, “with you, I can totally win! You’re way more skilled than me and if we fought them, we can—!”

“No,” Mika insists.

“Why not?!”

“Firstly, I’m the student body president,” and he ignores the way Yuu rolls his eyes at that, “secondly, there are more than six football players looking for us right now and all of the faculty is currently attending the festival. They would not be able to help us if things got out of hand.”

“Things are already out of hand,” Yuu mutters, petulantly.

“Thirdly,” Mika continues like he never spoke, “I haven’t forgotten what they did to you.”

At that, Yuu cocks his head. “What does that have to do with fighting them?”

“…I’m not sure I’d be able to hold back if I engaged them in a fight,” Mika phrases carefully and Yuu, for a moment, is right on board with the idea. The worse they can beat them up, the better, but he stops when he feels Mika’s fingers dig into his elbow near-painful—notices how tightly coiled Mika feels, how Yuu can make out the vitriol that darkens his gaze. Yuu thinks about Mika and his protectiveness, thinks how once upon a time he’d felt embarrassed by it, thought it was Mika thinking he was weak, but now realizes it’s like when Guren gripped the back of his neck and loomed behind him when a distant aunt contacted them last year and insisted on meeting Yuu.

Yuu thinks about the way Guren’s answers were airier than usual, bordering on cruel, yet the grip on Yuu’s neck never loosened and Guren never let him out of his sight, always hovered nearby as that distant aunt hinted that she lived in the city, had a spare room, and thought his mother was just a little sick, would never hurt him, would never think about killing him even though Yuu can’t count on his fingers how many times his mom had come at him with a knife and a dead look in her eye.

Guren can say he’s a brat and he’s loud and he’s way too reckless for his own good, hot-headed to boot, and he hates it when Yuu leaves his socks in the hall after school, but Guren loves him because every time he comes back from boot camp, he takes him out to eat and pats his head for everything like he can’t help it and mumbles there goes my peace and quiet which is code for the house was too silent without you which is code for I missed you, idiot brat.

Yuu wonders if it’s the same for Mika, that family-bond-belonging thing, and looks down at his shoes.

“I can still hear them outside. They’re very persistent. Remind me again why you insist on picking fights with people who are stronger than you?” Mika sighs, looking down because Yuu has gone quiet all of a sudden. When Yuu still doesn’t respond, Mika nudges him. “Yuu-chan?”

Yuu remains quiet.

“Hey, Yuuuuu-chan! Are you okay?”

“Huh? Oh, yeah. I’m okay…”

Mika frowns. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Yuu clears his throat, rubbing the back of his neck. He hasn’t looked up yet and Mika’s frown deepens. “Uh, listen, Mika? I think it’s okay if we…leave now, we can probably get away if we time it right. Kimizuki said we can even go back to his place for video games if you want…” And his voice is lower than usual, holds a despondence that makes Mika still for a second. That’s not a good sign; Yuu must have thought about something and—oh, no, Mika realizes suddenly, he can’t have Yuu getting the wrong idea for whatever reason his worrywart brain came up with.

“Mika?” Yuu repeats, slightly irritated at being ignored. “Hey, are you listening—?” and he sucks in a breath when Mika pushes against him roughly, stepping in-between Yuu’s legs. Yuu can feel Mika’s shoulder against his, feel Mika’s blonde curls brush against his forehead. Green eyes blow wide open, lips parting in surprise, and Yuu clutches Mika’s wrist with one hand as they breathe each other in for a few beats. “…M..Mika?”

“Why are you so eager to leave, Yuu-chan?” Mika murmurs and its husky, a low tremor he's never heard before; one that makes Yuu swallow thickly. He can feel his face heat up and wonders if Mika can hear his heart, how loudly it thuds in his chest; wonders if Mika lowers his hand down to his neck, if he’d be able to feel it thrum against his fingertips.

Wonders if Mika lower his lips to his throat, if it’d feel any different.

“I just—it’s—p-people can get the wrong idea if we, uh, y’know—!” Yuu flails, stiffening when Mika hums thoughtfully and presses his forehead against Yuu’s. It’s hot and, this close, Yuu can see Mika’s flushed cheeks, not matching his calm words, but Mika has always been able to sound calm while being a wreck. It’s one of those things that still bugs Yuu because he can’t do it as well as Mika can.

“I don’t mind what people think.”

“B-but…you’re the president?” Yuu strangles out, breath shuddering when Mika tilts his head down until their eyes are even—and Mika’s blue eyes are sparkling, nervous, just like his, and when Yuu does nothing more than stare back, slack-jawed, Mika starts to pull away but Yuu’s hand shoots out from his side and grips the back of Mika’s blazer—too hard; Yuu doesn’t even have time to be horrified about it because Mika loses his balance and their noses squish together and Yuu is sure if he hadn’t been against the wall, they’d have fallen over everything because Yuu’s luck is just that bad.

“Ow, fu—s-sorry, Mika, I didn’t mean to do that!”

“It’s okay, it didn’t hurt,” Mika assures, laughing softly.

“No—but—ugh, I’m—this is—shit, this is so hard!” Yuu loses his temper, turning a frustrated glare on the boy. “You’re making this really hard!”

“I’m making what hard?” Mika blinks rapidly, confused.

“CONFESSING TO YOU! IT’S HARD WHEN YOU DO STUFF LIKE THIS!” Yuu shouts then clamps both hands over his mouth and lets out a strangled noise. No—no, that did not just happen. Yuu had a speech planned out, he had words planned for once. He can die right now—a bucket can fall on his head and knock him out forever, maybe give him amnesia so he doesn’t have to relive this horrifying moment. Hasn’t he learned anything from the incident with Shinoa? That blurting out whatever came to mind was actually the worst thing in the world? And now Mika knew and Yuu is about ready to kick open the door and pick a fight with the entire football team when Mika shifts a little closer and laughs delightedly:

“I like you, too, Yuu-chan!”

“…What?”

Mika is beaming when Yuu snaps his head up incredulously. “I said, I like you, too!”

“No—no, you idiot, I didn’t mean it like that!”

Mika’s smile suddenly droops, brows pinching together. “You didn’t?”

“No! I meant it—like, like when a guy and girl like each other!” Yuu insists. “Like that!”

“Oh. Yeah, I know. I do, too.”

“…WHAT!?”

Mika laughs. “Yuu-chan, I know exactly what you meant. And I like you like that, too.”

“You—you mean you actually like guys?” Yuu asks, suspicious.

Mika’s eyes crinkle, endeared. “Of course I do. But only if they’re Yuu-chan. I was actually concerned for a while, I thought that perhaps you would never like me like that, and I was ready to accept that you wouldn’t like me—!”

“NO! I’LL ALWAYS LIKE YOU!” Yuu panics, gripping the back of Mika’s blazer, dragging him so close that their chests press together, Mika’s foot stepping on his. Yuu realizes this seconds too late and when he tries to pull back, embarrassed, Mika shoves him against the wall again, gripping Yuu’s flailing arms and pinning them against his sides. And that—that was a lot hotter than it probably should have been, and now is definitely not the time to discover that maybe Yuu had a dominance kink he’ll never admit to anyone ever on pain of death. 

Yuu can feel every part of Mika, chest, thighs, and hips locking against his own tightly. Mika’s hands pinning back his arms makes his breath labor, makes a familiar heat spread through his body, heading south embarrassingly fast—and almost simultaneously Yuu wants to back away because he’s sure Mika will be able to feel it and—yes, yes Mika definitely feels it and Yuu makes a noise in the back of his throat when Mika presses their hips together in response, grinding in a way that lets Yuu know that Mika knows and he’s not objecting in the slightest. In fact, he’s just about the same and it’s the thought that Mika is just as affected by this as he is that makes Yuu groan out loud.

“Mika,” Yuu exhales, eyes closing when his own hips press back harder.  

Mika draws in close and this time, it’s exactly what Yuu thinks it is. Mika’s eyes are lidded, fixated on his mouth: “Good, because I don’t think I’ll ever stop liking you, too,” and, breathes mingling, heart beats thudding in tandem, Yuu thinks he’s the one who jerks up and crushes their mouths together first, but it could have easily been Mika, who’d closed his eyes and tucked his head in closer, angling so their lips came together easily.

But Yuu will totally tell everyone that it was him who started it and Mika will just have to deal with it.

 


 

omake. 

“Wipe that dumb look off your face and come help me move these boxes,” Guren barks a month later, startling Yuu out of his thoughts. Yuu drops his pencil and pushes his homework away, rounding the dining room table to help Guren out.

“Ugh, what is all this? This weighs like fifty pounds,” Yuu grunts, lifting two boxes just as well as Guren can. Guren eyes his kid’s physique critically: Yuu’s put on more muscle over the years, filled out and grown out of his awkward phase already. It’s sort of surprising, actually, how much Yuu has grown—and, no, he was not going there because Shinya already teased him enough about Yuu leaving the nest soon and Guren can’t deal with that sort of trauma yet.

His kid hasn’t even started dating, how can he possibly think about Yuu going off to the Marines when—

Guren freezes suddenly, snapping his head in Yuu’s direction as they both wrangle their way into Guren’s study. After one more trip, they’ve settled all of the boxes of paperwork and case files by the wall, where Guren will painstakingly pick his way through them because he owes Shinya a fucking favor and of course the lieutenant chooses paperwork as sufficient payback.

“You’ve been staying out later recently,” Guren comments nonchalantly. “You even cancelled last week’s Chinese run.” Which Yuu has never done before but Guren hadn’t really thought too deeply about then because he’d been busy handling some foreign business. Until now, that is, when he thinks about just how much time Yuu has been spending out of the house lately.

“Oh, uh, yeah,” Yuu replies distractedly, unaware of his guardian’s suspicions. He pinks and confirms Guren’s idea. “I’ve been hanging out with Mika and he isn’t really free until he gets out of his council meetings most days.”

“Mika?” Guren repeats, flatly. He can’t say he didn’t see it coming.

“Yeah, what’s with that face?” Yuu blinks at Guren’s raised brow, the way he’s looking at him like he’s trying to figure something out and he’s close to the solution. “You like Mika, right? What’s the deal?”

“So you’ve been hanging out with…Mika. All this time.”

“Yeah.”

“You cancelled Chinese food.”

“Yea—!” Yuu chokes off when he realizes just where Guren is getting at, and just why Guren is smirking so smugly at him from his perch on his desk, arms crossed over his chest. “W-wait, it’s not like, I mean, it is, NO WAIT I CAN EXPLAIN!”

“So, the brat—!”

“—I totally meant to tell you but, uh, you were busy and I kept forgetting—!”

“—finally got a clue.”

“—and I promise that I’ll bring him…what? What the hell is that supposed to mean?!” Yuu squawks, half confused and half annoyed.

Guren idly looks over some sheet on his desk. “About time you realized that that blonde kid has been drooling over since he first saw you.”

Yuu groans. “Not you, too.”

“What? It was so obvious,” Guren scoffs. The first time Mika had come to their home, standing awkwardly between him and Yuu, having tended to his kid’s injuries because Yuu couldn’t keep his fists to himself, Guren didn’t need to ask to know that the pretty boy had a huge crush on Yuu. It was so obvious: he blushed at everything Yuu said and when Yuu had beamed at him, shit, Guren saw the exact moment Mika decided that Yuu had ruined him for every other guy on the planet.

Guren hadn’t cared, really, possibly encouraged it because Guren wasn’t against taking advantage of the kid’s affections to ensure the safety of his own kid—especially since Yuu was fight prone—but, over time, Guren began to notice that Mika's crush hadn't dwindled in the slightest. Instead, it had evolved into something with more depth, more feeling, because the way Mika looked at Yuu, stood by Yuu, spoke to Yuu, laughed with Yuu, all reminded Guren of Mahiru and that perhaps hurt more than Guren would ever be willing to admit because those boys were heading down the same direction Mahiru and he had taken. 

Then it was just wondering if Yuu even bent that way and deciding, yeah, he maybe did, because Yuu sometimes gave Mika a look that was much too affectionate to be friendly, though it was always followed up by Yuu’s classic grumbling.

Then it was Shinya patting Guren on the shoulder when he panicked at the base about Yuu and sex, oh, god, no for a little while before Guren decided Yuu was dense enough that maybe he’d be well on his way into his training under Shinya before he even realized that he loved Mika about as much as Mika loved him.

Except he was wrong and now Guren’s back to Yuu and sex, oh, god, no as he flips through paperwork, his face smooth and controlled.

“How long?”

“About a month,” Yuu admits after a moment, cheeks flushed. “I-I asked him out at the culture festival.”

Huh. That explained why Yuu had been awake at three am the night before the festival, stuffing his face with cupcakes.

“You asked him out at the festival? Isn’t that sweet,” Guren sneers.

Immediately, Yuu is back in his comfort-zone and he spits out, “Shut up, Guren, it went fine and we’re dating now, okay, do you have a problem with it?” He demands, defensively, and Guren knows Yuu has a million different retorts if he didn’t accept it. It’s just his luck that Guren has no issues with it whatsoever.

“Tch, your love life isn’t any of my business, Yuu, who you date and who you fuck is your problem,” he waves off, eyes catching the way Yuu’s shoulders relax significantly. He can’t help but to add, with a shit-eating grin, “Just make sure Mika’s the one bottoming.”

Yuu stares at him, uncomprehendingly. “What?”

And it’s only then, with an unnerving amount of calm, that Guren knows he has to do it—shit, he has to do it because it’d be stupid and irresponsible if he doesn’t and Yuu is already a hazard to himself, he doesn’t need his kid to go and do something dumb because he didn’t know safe sex and Guren had opted out of telling him because it was awkward. Which he’s actually considering—Mika’s smart, right? He could probably give the hands-on approach that Yuu needs in order to understand the basics.

…Except Mahiru would slaughter him if he opted out.

The things he did in her memory.

“I am not gonna’ lecture you on sex,” Guren deadpans and Yuu pales, pulling an absolutely horrified face because this is a conversation he never, ever wanted to have ever with Guren and he finally realized what Guren meant, judging by how his eyes widen exorbitantly and he sputters: "I don’t—Mika isn’t the one on the bottom—I mean, WAIT THAT’S NOT WHAT I MEANT, WE HAVEN’T DONE THAT YET!"

Guren really doesn’t want to think about the implications of that reply, no, that’s pushing it. “...but I’m going to lecture anyway because I won’t have you contracting some weird disease just because you went bareback.”

“Mika is a GUY!” Yuu chokes out.

“And? He’s not exempt from them,” Guren reminds patiently, ignoring Yuu’s pained wailing, beating Yuu to the door, locking him in. Shinya had prepared him for this day and Guren wasn’t about to let all that research go to waste—even better, he wasn’t about to throw away an opportunity to test out if Yuu really can pass out from embarrassment. It’s all for science, really, as Guren grins wickedly and adds, “We’ll start with condoms and the importance of lube.”

As it turns out, Yuu can’t pass out from embarrassment, but he can sustain a category ten blush for more than five hours.