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Husky has been on edge all morning. He wasn’t sure when it had happened but something had changed recently. Something that he was entirely uncomfortable with. When the male members of his party announced that they were going to bathe he hesitated for just a moment before joining them.

“This shouldn’t be weird.” he thought. It’s not like they didn’t all bathe together often. He, Senri and Cooro almost always bathed at the same time as it was the most convenient. The problem was that recently, and he’s not quite sure when he noticed or even when it began for that matter, Husky had caught Cooro staring at him when they were bathing. Today was no different.

As they washed themselves of the day’s impurities Cooro’s eyes would wander over to Husky, watching as he bathed, silently roaming every bit of visible skin. His unreadable expression frustrated Husky even more; was he just curious? Amused? Aroused? Husky honestly had no idea and it was freaking him out. He hadn’t noticed that he’d been staring at the older boy intensely, trying to figure Cooro out as the boy’s eyes roamed his figure, but when Cooro finally noticed his gaze and their eyes met the older boy just gave him one of his signature bright smiles and Husky had to look away, not wanting anyone to notice the heat rising to his face.

“This is ridiculous! What is going on with him lately?” Husky couldn’t help but think. He shook his head in the hopes of clearing his thoughts before hurrying to finish up in the water.

 

“Hey, Cooro.” Husky said approaching the other boy one afternoon. “Could you help me catch some fish later? As good as Senri’s cooking is I don’t think I could eat anymore rabbit this week.”

“Sure!” Cooro responded cheerfully, once again flashing Husky that smile that was the same and yet so different from the one he had known when they were kids. Husky thought he felt his heart stutter in his chest but he ignored it and walked back to their campfire.

“We caught a lot today. This should be enough for a while if we cure the leftovers properly.” Husky said as they were wrapping up their successful fishing attempt. As he got to the bank of the river Cooro reached out his hand to help him out of the water.

“Hey, Husky,” Cooro began. When the silver haired boy looked up to respond to his companion he was met with such an unexpectedly intense gaze that he forgot what he was going to say. For a moment they just stood there, hands still clasped together, both silent, before Cooro leaned forward to deliver a quick peck on Husky’s lips. Husky’s body tensed and recoiled slightly, although the kiss happened so fast that the motion almost seemed delayed. Before any words could escape his lips he saw Cooro’s face scrunch up in confusion. Just as quickly as it came the expression was gone and replaced with such worry and embarrassment; Husky would have been surprised to learn that Cooro could even get so flustered if he had any cognitive ability at the moment. "Sorry!" Cooro uttered before turning on his heels and running off in the direction of their camp site.

“What?! What was that?” Husky was practically screaming internally. He couldn't help it, he was confused. Not about himself, he was pretty sure he knew what was going on on that front, but about Cooro. What was that boy thinking? What was the point of kissing him so out of the blue? Should he start bathing by himself again? The sensation of Cooro's lips on his own stuck with him and Husky was ashamed at how he was reacting to it. It made him feel equal parts slimy and excited and he couldn’t say which response he thought was shameful.

That night when they had sat down to eat dinner Husky mostly kept his head down, listening as Cooro conversed with the others like nothing had happened. The few times Husky did look up his eyes always went to Cooro, whom he could see glancing at him out of the corner of his eyes as he carried on the conversation. He was clearly concerned about Husky, it was obvious in the glances he was throwing his way, but thankfully knew enough to let Husky sit with his thoughts. Husky would always look down quickly, glaring at his food or at his hands in his lap, heat rising quickly to his cheeks as he tried hard to control it. He was hoping to use this time to clear is head, but all he could think about was the way Cooro would smile at him when he was content, or the solid hands that always had his back, or how his heart couldn't stop racing at the thought of the two of them. Together.

Nana, the more astute of the two remaining companions, noticed that something peculiar was going on. Throughout the meal she noticed that Cooro made no effort to include the unusually silent Husky in the conversation, something he only did when the younger boy was lost in thought and Cooro didn’t want to upset him. Then she saw it. Husky had looked up from his meal for only the second time since they’d sat down and looked to Cooro, brows furrowed as if confused. Out of the corner of his eye Cooro glanced over at Husky and Nana saw the paler boy look away swiftly, a bright red blush forming on his cheeks.

Slowly Nana’s face broke out into a grin and she had a hard time trying not to look like she wanted to squeal like an excited child. If what she thought was going on was actually going on then she couldn’t be more excited for her friends. But she didn’t want to jump to conclusions just yet! She would have to watch and see how things developed.

 

It had been a week since the kiss and Husky was thoroughly perplexed. Maybe Cooro had just been experimenting. As someone who has also never kissed someone before, until last week’s unexpected peck that is, he could understand that maybe Cooro just wanted to know what it felt like. But something told Husky that that was not it. Did he like the younger boy? He supposed that could be an explanation, but then what was up with all of the pretending it didn’t happen?

Then, as if responding to his thoughts Cooro approached him and said, “Husky, can we talk?”
“Uh, sure. Yeah.” As Husky leads the way away from the campsite, so that they’re safely out of hearing distance, even from Nana’s bat ears, he feels conflicted. He feels worried that whatever Cooro wants to say will somehow affect their friendship, which Husky knows is a ridiculous thought because Cooro’s personality simply wouldn’t allow that, but also somewhat hopeful that it does.
When they had both come to a stopping point Husky turned to face his companion.

“Do you remember when I kissed you the other day?” He said it so matter-of-factly!

“How could I forget?” Husky mumbled, just loud enough for Cooro to hear him.

“It won’t happen again so don’t worry. Sorry I made you upset.” Cooro said with a smile that Husky could see was off. It was the way his brows were slightly furrowed, as if he was working past a bad taste in his mouth. Husky recognized it as the smile Cooro put on when he wasn’t truly happy with something but didn’t want to impose or make anyone feel uncomfortable. Cooro turned around and was about to fly back to camp.

“Wh-Cooro!” Husky grabbed his arm and when Cooro halted Husky moved to stand in front of him. “You can’t just say things like that and walk away like the conversation’s over when it’s not. And you can’t just kiss a person and pretend it never happened. Be honest with me Cooro. What’s going on?”

“I really like you Husky. As a friend but also in a different way. I was going to tell you but my body acted first without me thinking and I saw you were upset so I figured you didn’t like it. I’m sorry.”

Husky let out a sigh and crossed his arms. “I didn’t mind that you did it.” He said trying his best to ignore the slight blush forming on his face. “But a little warning next time would be nice.” Cooro’s face brightened and Husky could see that all too familiar smile forming. “And could you not stare at me when we’re washing off? It makes me uncomfortable.” Husky shuffled his feet a little.

“Sorry.” Cooro said with a slight blush. “We’ve all changed since we first met and I like seeing how much you’ve grown. I won’t do it if it bothers you though.”

"Changed how?" Husky asked nervously, suddenly becoming self-conscious.

"Well, you used to be so petite and now you have a swimmer's body. You're bigger now…” When he saw Husky nearly choke on his saliva he quickly added. “We all are." Still, the thought of Husky's strong shoulder and back muscles dripping with water, glistening in the sunlight, or seeing him stretch in that tight black t-shirt, it lifting just enough to show a little bit of the porcelain skin near his naval was enough to remind him that they were not the kids they used to be.

Husky's face was heating up much too quickly and he knew he was beet red. "I hope you didn't mean that to sound the way I think it did." Husky turned away a little indignantly, wondering if Cooro's confession didn't have more to do with their teenage bodies than actual feelings.

As if reading his mind Cooro took a step closer and responded. "Husky, you know I don't just like you for the way you look. You're smart, and nice, even though sometimes you pretend you're not, and you're always there for me. I can't imagine being without you. I want us to be together, but only if you do too."

He regarded the crow +anima before deciding. There was no harm in giving it a shot he supposed.

"Okay." He never could say no to Cooro.

"Yay!" Cooro cheered, then went to plant another kiss firmly on Husky's lips. Before their lips connected, however, he stopped and looked Husky in the eyes. "Can I?" Husky nodded and Cooro kissed him again and this time it was sweet and exciting and not perfect at all but so wonderful Husky couldn't wait to kiss him again.

"You're lips are so soft." Cooro said and he had stars in his eyes. Husky had never been more embarrassed, but he'd be lying if he said it wasn't cute.