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Till Sunrise

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Kazuki brings it up first.

They're sitting at the Keppi plaza, a soccer ball under Kazuki’s foot, their sides pressed together. They started doing this some time after Tooi had returned to society, a selfish request made in the middle of the night by Kazuki who somehow knew that Tooi would come. A selfish request that Tooi fulfilled because he knew he was weak to those bright wine eyes, and would probably be weak for the rest of his natural life. 

The first time they had met up at night, they had just spent the time kicking the ball back and forth over a half baked conversation, but as time passed the ball became more of a prop than anything else. Kazuki was always quick to get into his space, whether it be to hook his arm around one of Tooi’s or physically cuddle into his side like he was doing now. “Sometimes I get scared that I'll wake up and find you gone again,” he whispered one night. 

Tooi would always get a brief flash of Enta at these moments, the guilt sharp. It never stopped him from tucking Kazuki in closer, however. He wouldn't apologize for trying to erase himself; it had been a painful experience he needed to go through at the time, but he hadn't meant to hurt Kazuki in the process and cuddling said boy back was the least he could do. 

That's usually how these late night meetings would go. They'd meet up, kick the ball back and forth for a bit, sit down and cuddle while Kazuki talks about the painful things he's been withholding throughout the day. It almost always ended with the sun peeking through the horizon and them parting ways only to meet up later as part of the golden trio. 

Tooi foolishly believed that this night would be the same. 

He could only stare as Kazuki looks up at him, face the picture of stubbornness. “What,” he rasps, unable to keep the disbelief out of his voice.

Kazuki pouts, “We should move in together after we graduate.”

Tooi blinks, “With Enta?” 

Kazuki blinks back, confused for a second. “I was thinking just you and me. Do you think Enta needs a place to live? I thought he was going to stay at home to help with his grandmother?”

Tooi had thought that Kazuki would finally get a clue and actually notice the massive crush Enta still had on him, but here they were once again. He looks away and shifts, suddenly uncomfortable. “Just us…?”

Kazuki doesn't respond for a long moment, and if Tooi were to stop brooding and look over, he would see the boy furrowing his brows and biting his lip in an anxious moment of self-doubt. When he starts to pull away, Tooi turns his head in alarm, eyes wide. The brunet looks askance, head ducked as he stares at the ground. There's so much vulnerability that it startles Tooi and, Enta or not, there's no possible way he can stop himself from reaching out to grasp Kazuki’s hand with his own.

Kazuki turns his attention to their hands before moving to twine their fingers together. It's reminiscent to their impromptu not-date and if Kazuki weren't looking so lost, Tooi would be fondly rolling his eyes at this point. Kazuki doesn't say anything however, no joke and no knowing smile, and Tooi immediately worries. He nudges the other boy gently, “You gotta talk to me, we promised we weren't doing that emotional constipation bullshit anymore, remember?”

Kazuki hums but a small smile is already tugging at his lips, “I'm just… Trying to figure out a way I can keep you by our side. That's all.”

Over the years that they've known each other, Tooi has noticed many things about Kazuki, one of those things being the fact that he would say one thing, but mean something else. Kazuki was fond of using the word ‘us’, but with the way that he was squeezing Tooi’s hand, Tooi knew that when he said ‘us’ or ‘we’, he really meant ‘me’. Maybe it was because he was their group’s leader and therefore used to inclusive speech, Tooi didn't know. What he did know was that Kazuki was selfish and possessive and still just a brat underneath it all.

Tooi understood that his disposition was most likely because of the cards that life had dealt him. He didn't know the Kazuki before Haruka’s accident, but the Kazuki he did know smiled as bright as the sun and scorned even hotter. His Kazuki was a leader, stubborn and kind to a fault, but so emotionally inept underneath it all that Tooi sometimes had to run interference to make things run as smoothly as possible. If Enta was ready to fight the world for Kazuki, then Tooi would protect Kazuki from the negative emotions that came with interacting with people who didn't agree with you. 

(and how he got this position in their friendship, he didn't know; wasn't he the one who had literally almost killed several men?)

Of course, things were always getting better. Kazuki had started going to therapy some time after Tooi had started his three years, they had both grown and prospered and Tooi would never look down on the progress Kazuki has made. But some old habits he couldn't quite kick, and Tooi still quietly blames himself whenever Kazuki would cling extra tight to him. He had left all those years ago, after all. Left, even with Kazuki screaming for him in the background.

Kazuki is selfish when it comes to him, selfish and a little bit scared, and Tooi can't fault him for it. If anything, Tooi is grateful that Kazuki is at least honest with whatever feelings he identifies now. Sure, it was weird for the boy to lean over and sometimes link their arms together, but if Kazuki needed him close then Tooi would stay as close as possible for as long as possible. 

Kazuki is selfish but Tooi never claimed to be a saint either, and his favorite place to be is under the warm rays of Kazuki’s attention. He squeezes the hand in his own at this thought, and relishes in the burst of fondness that fills his chest when Kazuki looks up at him. “I'm not going anywhere,” he says, “and if you want to move in together after we graduate, I won't say no.”

The brunet immediately starts beaming at his words, his smile bright enough to light up the plaza. 

“But,” Tooi starts before he can say anything else, “you have to really think about this too.” He searches Kazuki’s face before smiling when he sees the telltale pout that's starting to form.

“There's nothing more to think about,” he says, stubborn to a fault.

Tooi snorts. Typical Kazuki. “We still have a long way to go before we graduate, you'll come up with something.” 

“If I ask you again, you won't say no?” Kazuki practically challenges.

Tooi looks at him and can feel himself softening, “No,” he promises, “but before you ask me…” he pauses, thinking of orange hair and the glint of glasses against the bright summer sun. “Talk it over with Enta, first,” he says, swallowing past the lump of guilt in his throat.

Kazuki blinks, as oblivious as ever. He opens his mouth, peers at Tooi, and then closes it again with a click. “Okay, I will,” he says.

Tooi finds himself smiling again as he nods, “Good.”