Do you remember the first time you fell in love? That you literally fell head over heels for someone, and you knew it immediately when you saw him or her for the first time? That it felt as if fireworks went off, as if you heard angels singing, as if someone from above placed a spotlight on that person the moment your eyes met for the first time, and the rest of the world fell away. At that exact moment you know; this is it. I’ve only just met you a split second ago, but I am fully convinced I want to spend the rest of my life with you.
Until a few weeks ago Hidaka Akira thought that was what it meant to fall in love, you meet your soulmate and you know it the instant that you lay your eyes on them. He had never been in love before, furthermore he had show no interest in the concept of ‘love’ (except that he often complains about the lack of female companionship in Scepter 4), but he was absolutely sure that the moment he’d fall for someone; he would notice.
But it turned out quite differently than he had anticipated. Apparently it does not take three seconds to fall in love. It could be three weeks, or even three months. Three weeks it was in his case, and he didn’t notice until one of his friends in Swords Four pressed him with his face in the facts.
Enomoto paused his game with a sigh. They are in his room, because he has the most games, magazines and DVDs available. Hidaka and Enomoto are sitting on the floor, leaning against the lower bunk with their backs, and both a controller in their hands, but for the past hour Hidaka has been talking more than playing, mostly about Kusuhara Takeru.
The boy (literally a boy, he is just eighteen) was added within the Swords and Combat Division to the Fourth Squad, and Hidaka had taken him under his wing since day one. However, when he realised that the previous member of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Riot Squad could take care of himself, Hidaka’s nurturing behaviour had turned into admiration.
“I get that you like him, and I’m totally okay with whatever your preference is, but I thought the plan was that I’d help you finish this floor? So far I’ve been doing all the work.” Enomoto complains to the brunette.
Hidaka stares at the scores on the screen and sees that his comrade is right, his score is shockingly low, but what disturbs him more than his own score is the first half of Enomoto’s sentence. “What do you mean, my ‘preference’?”
The other man shifts uncomfortably in his spot on the floor, and wishes that he had said nothing so he could continue his game. He had merely brought it up because he was certain that after listening to endless drivel for three weeks about their newest member, Hidaka had finally realised his feelings towards the guy. It appears not, and apparently it suddenly, and absolutely involuntarily it had become Enomoto’s task to give his oblivious friend the talk.
“Come on, Hidaka,” he gently nudges him with his shoulder, desperately hoping that the other is messing with him and is only pretending to be so clueless. “Everyone, even outside our Division, knows that you like him.”
Unfortunately, Enomoto is not that lucky.
“Of course I like him!” The by a few months younger one replies. “He is extraordinary! Just eighteen but he practises Kando like no other! I’m sure that he could take on Akiyama-san once he manages to control his—”
“Hidaka.” Enomoto interrupts him quickly, before he is forced to listen to another fifteen minutes of Hidaka rambling about how easily Kusuhara worked him to the ground on his first practice with them. He knows the story, heard it several times, and even then, he had been standing right next to them at the time when Hidaka had challenged him to a duel with their bamboo swords. From that moment on “Kusuhara” had turned into “Takeru” for Hidaka, switching to first name base (as informal as Hidaka can be) as they helped each other back on their feet. He turns off the television and turns his body to that of the taller man’s, meeting his puzzled gaze. He places his hand on his shoulder and firmly stares into his eyes as he speaks slowly, needing Hidaka to understand this right now because he will not repeat this and suffer through this humiliation again. Why does this always seem easier in the manga’s he reads? “You like him as in you have romantic feelings for him, that go beyond friendship.”
Hidaka stares at him as if he had grown an extra pair of arms, thus Enomoto takes a deep breath, wondering how someone can be so dense about his feelings, and regrets not saving this conversation for Domyoji who has way more skills when it comes to discussing matters as feelings and everything that comes with it. “You’re in love with Kusuhara Takeru.”
It has almost been exactly three weeks since Kusuhara Takeru joined Scepter 4. He misses his old position within the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Riot Squad, and his senpai, but at his current position he is able to carry out the duty he came for; chasing Strains. However, it’s not quite as he expected yet, controlling the blue aura is more difficult than he had thought. Fortunately, everyone in Swords Four is very kind and helpful, but he is unable to suppress the little twinge of envy whenever he sees how efficiently his comrades handle the aura. He is aware Hidaka went easy on him in his first week, if he would have made use of the powers that come with the Blue clan, he would have had him on the ground with a blink of the eye. The compliment from Akiyama had been sincere, but he still feels left behind. As if he’s still missing something. He sighs heavily and lets himself sink deeper into the water.
“That was a deep sigh.” Goto Ren slides quietly besides him into the water, unlike the commander of the Fourth squad , who jumps into the bath and gives Kusuhara a hard pat on the back. “You just have to warm up a little! It didn’t come to us just like that either! Take Hidaka, it took him weeks because he had it under control. And don’t get me started on Enomoto, you would think that after watching all those animes he would know how to wield a sword!”
“Thank you, Domyoji-san.” Kusuhara nods politely, but his superior’s attempt to cheer him up is not reassuring him yet. It is not the sword fighting he has trouble with, after all, he has plenty experience with it.
‘I told you, just Domyoji is fine!”
Kusuhara has the habit of speaking formally to everyone, regardless of age. Domyoji, and other comrades, have repeatedly reiterated that they are all friends inside their squad and there is no need for formalities, but when they noticed that the new member’s old habits were hard to break they gave up. He certainly is more polite than the new recruit in the Intelligence Division, the now seventeen years old Fushimi Saruhiko who has been working with them for over a year now, still barely exchanges a word with them. And if he does, it comes with a snarl, or as if they are boring him with their presence. Only the good hearted Hidaka still makes an effort to involve him in group activities (which he effortlessly rejects every time).
Suddenly the door swings open and a tall man, with a broad grin steps in the joint bath room. Spoken of the devil.
“Evening lads, ah I’m beat! Training today was a pain in the—“ he stops midsentence as he lays his eyes on the youngest of the three, who was just about to leave the bath, his towel in his hand and his back turned to the other. “— ass.”
Kusuhara turns around, towel now wrapped around his waist, just in time to see the stuttering Hidaka turn away from him with a flushed red face. “I-I think I forgot something i-important ... err— at the office! Yes, I forgot to finish a report, and Fushimi-san needs to check it before tonight a-and you know how he gets about reports when they’re sloppy! So I think I should...go. See you!” He doesn’t even take the time to make a joke about Domyoji’s writing skills, he turns on his heel and storms out the bathing room, holding his towel tightly around his waist.
For a long moment is remains silent in the room, the three stunned men are still staring at the closed door as if they expect it to fly open again any moment. “What just happened?” Kusuhara asks, then the red-haired man on his right side bursts out in laughter, and also the usual tranquil Goto, who shares his room with the boy who just ran out like a teenage girl who entered the wrong public restroom, cannot suppress a chuckle.
“Oh man, it’s even worse than I thought!” Hiccups Domyoji, his face red with exertion rather than the temperature of the hot water.
“He really likes you, Kusuhara.” Goto chuckles behind him.
The youngest of the three steps out of the bath, followed by another deep sigh as he starts with drying his wet limbs. ‘I know, I wish he could be less obvious about it.”
“That’s Hidaka for you.”
“I almost feel sorry for him,” Domyoji, who caught his breath in the meantime, also stands and nudges Kusuhara’s side. “So, what are you gonna tell him when you let him down?”
“Please be gentle with him.” The other adds to it. “He is very outgoing, and can be a bit intimidating, especially with his height, but he has a small heart.”
Kusuhara smiles despite the situation. It’s not easy to be new, he has to work hard to keep up and get to the same level as the people around him, and on top of that the first friend he made within the team as feelings for him which he absolutely fails to hide. But if he thinks about it, he knows that deep down, the transition was not as bad as he first thought, especially not the last part. “Who said anything about letting him down?”
Hidaka could hit himself on the head, he has made a huge fool of himself. As if they believed his pitiful excuse! And didn’t Enomoto tell him the other day that everyone already knew about his feelings for Takeru, except him? He just can’t help that he feels and behaves so awkwardly when he is around him. How could he not have realised before that he is in love with his friend. His first love and he hadn’t even noticed, it had happened just like that, and now he’s in deep trouble. He thinks constantly about him, whenever his thought subconsciously switch to the small black haired guy, it makes him happy, but very insecure at the same time.
He finally understands what the expression “butterflies in the stomach” means. It feels as if one hundred of butterflies are making a flip in his stomach every time he thinks of Takeru. He is nervous and tense, he cannot eat or sleep, he wants to be near him, but when he comes closer he behaves like a complete idiot! He blushes, feels all hot and sweaty, his heart starts beating faster, and because of his dry mouth he can’t get a single meaningful word over his lips. If he had known this is what it feels like to fall in love, he would have stopped himself from ever liking someone. It’s worse than a cold. How can he look Takeru in the eye like this? Or look anywhere else. He had never realised before how cute his butt is!
Hidaka moans and slams his forehead against the wall, cheeks red with shame. Did that thought seriously cross his mind? Since when is he homosexual? He finds women attractive! Women and Takeru, his mind adds to it. Everything about the short buy is beautiful. His dark hair, his eyes, the way he laughs, his figure, his cute butt. Before he can strike his head against the wall once more to literally beat this thought out of his mind Enomoto appears behind him.
“What are you doing here in the hall? I thought you were going to take a bath?”
“Enomo,” he drops his forehead on the shorter one’s shoulder, letting out a groan of self-pity. “It’s terrible! I walked in and I looked straight at— straight at...” he gulps.
“A-Ah, i-it’s alright, Hidaka!” Enomoto gives him an awkward but encouraging pat on the shoulder, he really did not need to hear the rest of that sentence. It seems like the brunette is genuinely upset, so he doesn’t correct the nickname Hidaka had given him once in a drunken stupor. “It will be fine...”
“Good evening, Enomoto-san, Hidaka-san.”
The familiar voice startled Hidaka and he makes a small jump on the spot. In no time he stands up on both of his feet again, and leans with his back against the wall, as if his sudden movement was completely scripted. He gives the younger one, his hair still damp from the water, a brief nod and uses a lower voice than usual when he speaks. “Hey, Takeru.”
Kusuhara nods back and smiles as he passes them. Once he is out of sight Hidaka heaves an exaggerated sigh. “Did you see that Enomoto? He smiled at me! He is so cute when he smiles!”
“Hidaka.” Enomoto deadpans.
“Please just tell him how you feel so I don’t have to listen to this anymore.”
Right. Tell him. That sounds pretty easy. It are just two words after all. Tell. Him. And telling him itself are just three. I like you. However, pronouncing these words is more difficult than anything he has ever done before. Last night he had an endless discussion with Goto, at least, they were both already in bed and Hidaka was unable to fall asleep so he had been talking all night to his roommate about his insecurities regarding his crush. What if he doesn’t feel the same? What if he’s not gay? What if he laughs at him and finds him disgusting that he has these feelings for his friend, for another man! Goto had somehow fallen asleep halfway through his monologue, but Hidaka was still tossing and turning all night. He even looked up one of those online tests to check his feelings, but he had quickly put his PDA down, too afraid to see the results.
Meanwhile it became increasingly uncomfortable to be around Takeru. He stumbles over his words, he struggles to keep control over his voice, he gets sweaty and on top of that he feels the eyes of his comrades burning on his back every time they’re having a conversation together. He is starting to run out of excuses to not stay longer than a minute with him in the same room, which is very unfortunate for him because they are in the same Division. They run into each other daily. Sparring together during training is something he might never be able to do with him again. His sword slips out of his hands, and he gets distracted by how smoothly the younger man moves his body. He is really desperately, hopelessly in love.
But today is different, he has to confess to him today. Saturday they will all gather in Takeru’s room together (as both him and Fushimi have a room for themselves), and alcohol will be served. Takeru does not drunk, he is still underaged, but Hidaka does and he is convinced that he will utter something increadibly stupid when he’s under influence. That always happens, but this time could turn out worse for him. Therefore, he must hurry as he has merely four days left before he throws out a lousy confession with a very uncharming slur.
With the countless butterflies fluttering through his stomach, and trembling hands, he steps into the office. Takeru is talking to Fuse and Domyoji. When they lay eyes on him, they abruptly stop talking. Fuse nods at him, and Domyoji gives a thumbs up to the younger subordinate before exiting the room. When the door closes behind them, all that remains is an awkward silence.
“H-How are you?” He manages to ask. When Goto realised Hidaka would not stop talking if he didn’t at least attempt to help out his comrade he quickly muttered some advice for him. Tip one: start with a normal conversation. He should be able to handle as much, right? “I mean, with the training. You’ve been here for a month now and I know how much you’re struggling to keep up...”
The words are stuck in his throat. Apparently he is not able to do this after all, that wasn’t exactly the best way to start a conversation with the man you’re about to confess your love to. His conversation partner is so kind to pick up the conversation on his own so it doesn’t get even more uncomfortable than it already is. “Good.” He falls silent for a moment however. “Actually, there’s something I wanted to ask you, Hidaka-san.”
Takeru gestures to the empty chair next to him. Around a hundred different thoughts cross his mind as he walks over to him, his heart pounding so hard in his chest that he’s convinced that the other will be able to hear it without a doubt if they both of them keep quiet for much longer. What would he want to ask him? The nervous feeling is getting worse. He feels sick to his stomach, he might vomit all of those creepy insects out of his body along with a few organs. In the most ideal situation he would now run back to his room and hide under the covers in his bedroom. Recalling the times when Takeru did not evoke all these feelings within him.
Last night, in the dark, he had plenty of time to overthink. When did these feelings for Takeru start to develop? He could however not answer that question, he cannot recall the exact moment he fell in love with him. It had clicked between the two of them ever since the first day, but that is because Hidaka is a very open person and he wanted the novice to feel at home in their squad. He invited him to group activities, determined to not let the same thing happen as when Fushimi who completely isolated himself. He enjoys getting Takeru’s attention, and he touches him more often than necessary, but that is common between close friends, right? Yes, he thought he was attractive since the first time he saw him, but Akiyama and Benzai are very good looking as well. Everyone within Scepter 4 is attractive! He’s 100% sure that if Fushimi would smile more, and would not hate people as much as he does, he would be insanely popular. Although he’s already favoured by the Chief, who seems to have a preference for small, young dark-haired boys. He feels a pang of jealousy going through his body every time he thinks about the rumour which say that not just Fushimi, but Takeru too is on the King’s list of favourites. Whatever that is supposed to mean, Hidaka does not like the sound of it.
“There is no need to pull a face like that,” Takeru says in an attempt to ease the atmosphere between them. “I just wanted to ask...” he pauses once more to clear his throat. “I changed shifts with Domyoji-san earlier, which means I’m free tomorrow afternoon. And since it’s your day off as well— I was wondering if you’d like to get some coffee with me outside the office?”
Hidaka is taken aback. He doesn’t know what it exactly was that he expected from this, but it was certainly not this. “Y-yeah! Of course I’d like that!” He accepts the offer a bit too loud, and almost too eagerly, but Takeru does not seem to mind his enthusiasm. “Good, I’ll see you tomorrow then. Meet me at the entrance at two in the afternoon.”
Once Hidaka is standing in his own room again he tries to relativize what just happened in the office, because he had walked out of his room in such a daze, it’s only coming down to him now. He went in with the idea to confess his feelings to his friend, but instead he was asked out.
He was asked out?
He has a date, a date with Kusuhara Takeru.