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It started with letters. 

'I'll never forgive you for ruining Knights. You’re not fit to be a leader.' one of them said. It didn't have a sender, it just looked like a printed sheet addressed to Tsukasa Suou among the other fanmail. 

Tsukasa gulped, eyes flickering up nervously to where Ritsu-senpai and Narukami-senpai were sorting through the mail with better results, considering the delighted gasp from Arashi and the small but sincere curve of Ritsu's lips. 

It's just me. Again.  

It was for the better: none of his esteemed senpai deserved to be hated after all, he knew firsthand how amazingly talented and compassionate they all were. 

Tsukasa could handle a bit of criticism, it came with his status as heir to the Suou family. 

It's not like he wasn't already used to having rivals. His mind automatically went to Tori-kun, but he never suspected him for a second.

The arrogant Himemiya wasn't a coward hiding behind an anonymous identity, if Tori wanted Tsukasa to die in a ditch, he'd tell him personally and without reserve and Tsukasa granted him the same courtesy. 

Tsukasa folded the hate letter quickly, before his seniors could notice anything, and he reached for the next fan letter. 

He held his breath in a tense anticipation while he opened it. 

This time it was just a regular letter from a fan that appreciated Tsukasa's efforts, praised his talents and wished him the best of luck in the future. He was happy to read that, but the venom of the previous message still weighed on him. 

"Suu-chan, you're holding it like it's a bomb ready to explode." Ritsu quipped. 

Tsukasa forced a smile, loosening his grip: "You're right, Ritsu-senpai. I'm sorry."

It was indeed just a letter, there was no reason to be scared. 

"Tsukasa-chan, what is it?" Narukami-senpai asked, looking concerned. "You don't look well."

"I'm fine."

Tsukasa's body betrayed him once again by making his fingers shake. 

This was ridiculous. 

Rationally Tsukasa knew not everyone liked him and that was okay, he deserved it. 

Lately he kept up a facade of irreverence and superiority to not let the adults in the ES management take advantage of his young age and he knew his harsh attitude with his Knights juniors could easily breed resentment, so why was this getting to him now? 

It was probably because he didn’t expect it to come from his fans, the ones who should’ve been on his corner supporting him, the ones Tsukasa dedicated the many hours spent practicing to.

He needed to clear his head and get himself back under control. 

"I just remembered I have to speak with a teacher." Tsukasa stood up in the middle of their studio and headed to the door, making sure to keep his hands behind himself so his senpai wouldn't notice his nerves. "I'll come back soon."

Tsukasa rested behind the closed door for a few seconds, trying to get himself under control, when he accidentally overheard his senpai commenting on his hasty retreat. 

"Do you think being the leader is getting too hard for him?" Narukami-senpai whispered. 

Tsukasa’s mind flashed back to that 'You’re not fit to be a leader’ , even though he knew Arashi meant no harm.

"He has a lot on his plate with ES, school and his family business." Ritsu answered with an audible yawn. "Just thinking about it gives me a headache."

"Should we tell Izumi-chan and Leo-kun?" Arashi wondered. 

"Hmm, I don't think it's anything we can't handle by ourselves."

Tsukasa decided to stop eavesdropping. Knowing he was worrying his senpai was making him even more upset, so he went to take a small break in the courtyard, sitting down on a bench and inhaling the fresh air. 

He watched the other Yumenosaki students hang out with their classmates, unaware of his hidden turmoil, and he was finally able to let go of some of that tension. 

"Tsuka-chan! HaHiHuHeHo~♪" 

Sora Harukawa enthusiastically came up to him and Tsukasa's lips broke into a smile looking at the golden curls of his friend. 

"Harukawa-kun."

"Your color looks weird." Sora interjected, random as usual, staring at the space around Tsukasa.

Tsukasa turned to look behind himself, but he couldn't find anything. 

“What?”

"Oh… it became a bit brighter once you saw me." Sora clapped happily and sat next to Tsukasa. "I'm happy to see you too!" 

Tsukasa scoffed but didn’t contradict him. As much as he wanted some time to reflect on things, he didn’t mind Sora’s company.

“What are you doing here all alone?”

Tsukasa shrugged. “I was just thinking…”

“About what?” Sora inquired.

“About people not liking me.” Tsukasa admitted.

“Who doesn’t like you?” Sora looked offended, nudging Tsukasa. “Does Sora need to talk to them?”

Tsukasa almost laughed. It was weird to find something funny in that circumstance, but a gloomy mood couldn’t last with Sora’s enthusiastic and infectious presence.

“I don’t know either, they sent me an anonymous letter. Thank you for you offer, but I want to resolve this matter myself, does it make any sense?”

“It does!” Sora exclaimed, sticking close to Tsukasa’s side and swinging his legs past the bench. “Tsuka-chan is such a reliable, hard working, amazing person! I’m sure this person only thinks they hate you because they don’t know you. They would never hate you if they knew you like I do!”

Tsukasa smiled, his heart finally finding some respite in his friend’s words.

“You’re amazing too, Harukawa-kun.”

 

*

When Tsukasa came back to the Knights' studio, he found that another person had joined the group and another one was connected through a video call.

“Leo-san, Sena-senpai!” Tsukasa called out when he spotted Leo, huddled along with Arashi and Ritsu in front of a laptop from where Izumi was talking, connected from Florence.

“Suo~, Ucchuu~!” Leo greeted him, moving away from the laptop so Izumi could see the newcomer too.

“Ah, Kasa-kun. It’s about time.”

“This is a bit unusual.” Tsukasa said, furrowing his brows. “I don’t recall planning a meeting today.”

“We just decided to have one, there’s something urgent to discuss.” Arashi commented, holding a questionable piece of paper.

Tsukasa’s eyes widened.

“Why didn’t you tell us about this, Suu-chan?” Ritsu pointed to the hate letter Tsukasa had gotten earlier.

It was stupid, but Tsukasa felt deep, utter shame in that moment. He couldn’t shake off the feeling that he had disappointed his seniors, even though it wasn’t his fault. 

He didn’t want them to worry about Tsukasa’s supposed inadequacy, because that would make it more real.

“Sorry for looking through your mail, Tsukasa-chan.” Arashi apologized. “Each of us received a similar letter, an anonymous person saying they don’t like you being the next leader, and we saw you had one too.”

“I’m deeply sorry for not telling you immediately.” Tsukasa bowed his head. “I didn’t know what to do and I ended up running away.”

“What are you apologizing for, huh?” Izumi reacted from the laptop screen. “You’re not the idiot who enjoys sending people hate for for fun!”

“Yeah.” Leo agreed. “Besides, anyone who likes an unit that’s not made up by the five of us isn’t a true Knights' fan, right?”

“Exactly!” the others echoed.

Not long ago, Knights had been a group of individualistic people joined by a common goal, and that might still be true for their new kouhai group, but at least when it came to the core members, they were an united front against all kinds of enemies.

Tsukasa felt the vicious hold of tears crawl up on him, but forcibly swallowed it down. 

“Thank you, onii-sama.”

Tsukasa was engulfed in a tight hug by Leo and Arashi from each side, while Ritsu comfortably put his chin on his head, laying down against him with a pleased sigh, muttering something like: “Suu-chan smells so sweet, yummy.”

Izumi couldn’t possibly hug him, but had he been there, Tsukasa knew he would have scuffed his hair energetically before patting his head tenderly.

“Enough sentimentalism!” He barked from the laptop screen, probably irritated by the fact that he couldn’t participate. “What should we do now?”

“I taked with Harukawa-kun earlier and what he said made me think of something…” Tsukasa said after he’d been released.

“Oh Sora!” Leo exclaimed. “How’s he doing?”

“He’s fine, cheerful as usual. Anyway, he said something about the fans not knowing me well enough and hating me because of that…” Tsukasa trailed off.

“That makes sense.” Leo reasoned. “It sucks and they’re wrong, but it makes sense.” 

“Knights has a long story, maybe some of our long time fans disliked the leader change, since they don’t know the reason why Leo-kun wanted to quit. Maybe they think Kasa-kun made him do it.” Izumi pointed out.

“They don’t know he wanted to pass on the crown” Arashi. “And that he suffered a lot as the King.”

“First, Tsukippi, now Suu-chan…being a Knights King brings nothing but trouble, huh?” Ritsu echoed everyone’s deepest thoughts.

Tsukasa intercepted Leo sending him a remorseful look and he gritted his teeth. 

He wasn’t going to let Leo-san take the blame for something that wasn’t his fault.

“I don’t accept that.” Tsukasa declared. “I might be disliked for whatever reason by a part of our fans, but I don’t believe in blaming fate for it. I know I’m still inexperienced and lacking compared to you senpai and I can understand if our fans feel the same. I need to take responsibility and to let them know me, so they can actually decide if they love me or not."

“Ohhh, it sounds like you have a plan!” Leo grinned, leaving the conflicted look behind. “Nice attitude, Suo~!”

“Serious, earnest boys truly are the most precious wonders of this world!” Arashi encouraged him. “Tell us Tsukasa-chan!”

“Uhm…” Tsukasa fidgeted, doubting his idea for the first time. “I’ll need to ask for Onee-sama’s help to organize this too, but how about I write a song for our fans?”

“I think it’s a good idea.” Izumi conceded. “But you’ll have to submit it to us first.”

“Right.” Ritsu nodded. “I think you’ll do well, I really loved your solo.”

Tsukasa flushed under the praise, even though Ritsu senpai often reminded him of that whenever Tsukasa performed it during one of their lives.

“It’ll have to be a love song!” Leo interjected. 

Tsukasa stared at him and for some reason he couldn't really explain, hearing Leo suggest that out of all people made him feel unsettled, stomach tangling up in knots. 

“A love song?"

"For our fans." Leo specified and Tsukasa let out a breath he didn't know he was holding in. 

"To show them you love them and want them to know you even better. Once you do, I'm sure everyone will come to love you too, Suo~!"

Love you too. 

Tsukasa blushed out of nowhere. Did someone turn up the heating? 

"I'll do my best." Tsukasa agreed.

This love song talk was making him feel weird and antsy. Maybe he was still feeling agitated because of the letter, or maybe it was something else he wasn't ready to explore, not yet. 

Leo, who was used to bring people's attention on himself whenever possible, didn't let him run away and squeezed Tsukasa's shoulder. 

"Leave the music to me! Ahhhhh, I can already feel the inspiration coming! I'll compose the best love song just for you."

The following silence stagnated in the room, though Tsukasa could've sworn he heard Ritsu-senpai let out a low whistle.

"Whahahahah!" Leo laughed it off. "It'll be the best song of love for a king to his beautiful princesses!" 

Right. 

Now Tsukasa just needed to figure out what he actually wanted to tell them. 

 

*

Tsukasa submitted the first version of the lyrics to Arashi and Ritsu the following day and watched them read them with matching frowns on their faces. 

"Is it bad?" he asked, biting his lower lip while he waited for them to finish. 

"It's not too bad." Ritsu reassured him, but he didn't seem convinced. 

"Just a bit unoriginal?" Arashi completed the thought, "I mean 'your eyes are like stars in the night' or 'our hands fit together like puzzle pieces' and 'you're the only one for me'…as nice as it sounds, it's a bit too predictable, I can't really feel the passion beneath the words."

No one told him it needed to be passionate on top of everything! 

"It’s difficult to think about all of our fans and that makes it too general. Just think of someone you like and let your words flow." Ritsu-senpai suggested and Tsukasa wondered if he could ever reach his level of confidence one day. The lyrics written by Ritsu-senpai in the past were always deep and heartfelt, coming from a genuine place, and Tsukasa wished he could do the same. 

Not that he had time to waste on trivial things like romance, though, considering how much he had on his plate.

"Fufufu." Arashi giggled. "Do you even have someone you love, Tsukasa-chan?" 

Tsukasa hesitated, feeling put on the spot. "Onee-sama?"

Arashi and Ritsu exchanged a mysterious look. 

"Then next time you could to write about her and see if it helps?" 

Tsukasa left the studio with his head still in the clouds: he felt that his answer to Narukami-senpai's question had been utterly inadequate, but he wasn’t sure he could’ve done any better. 

The memory of Leo-san telling him he was going to write a love song for him kept popping up in his head. 

"Ugh!" Tsukasa rubbed his eyes, willing the image of that affectionate smile to go away. 

He looked at his watch and he was shocked by how late it had gotten; he needed to rush back home and see that everything was prepared for his dinner with the head of the Satou family, their longtime business partners. 

He started running through the corridors and ignored Tori-kun who was trying to use his student council authority to admonish him. Instead of stopping to say he was too busy to bicker with him, Tsukasa yelled "I'm too busy to fall in love anyway!" in english as he rounded the corner. 

So embarrassing! It's all Leo-san's fault!

When Tsukasa's head was full of thoughts of his former king, he couldn't think straight anymore. 

He opened his locker, trying to shake off his improper behavior, but what was inside of it caught him off guard. 

The loafers he always wore on his way to school and back home were still there, but they weren't pristine like in the morning: they were soaked in mud now. 

Apparently someone had opened his locker, not just because of the state of his shoes, but because there was a small note on top of them. 

'Knights would be so much better off without you. Go away!' It said in the same anonymous style as the previous one. 

Tsukasa didn't feel scared anymore, he was angry now. If this person had even followed them from the past year, they'd know Knights were still together thanks to Tsukasa's herculean efforts. 

He wasn't trying to brag or anything, but seeing all his struggles blatantly dismissed by someone misinformed irked him more than just being loathed. 

He took the filthy loafers out and threw them in the trash, cleaning his shoe locker as best as he could, remembering to ask for another one in the morning.

When his driver saw him get in the car wearing his school's indoor shoes, Tsukasa just shook his head and said he forgot to change them, squeezing his bag in his arms. 

 

*

Despite the mortification he felt deep down, Tsukasa came clean to his seniors the following day.

"Tsukasa-chan is getting bullied?" Arashi gasped. 

"I don't know if I'd call it bullying, but-" Tsukasa tried to dismiss the thought. 

"It is absolutely bullying." Ritsu clarified. 

Leo-san sat silently at their table, fiddling with his phone. Tsukasa was watching him apprehensively. 

He hoped his former leader wouldn't pity Tsukasa or blame himself for the letters he was receiving, but he couldn’t help but notice Leo-san pulling back lately, probably not to interfere with Tsukasa's position as the new leader, even if he was around so much more than Tsukasa had ever expected when he graduated. 

To take off some of the pressure from Tsukasa's back, Leo-san offered to serve as the center and face of the group at least when it came to New Dimension, so he was still shouldering some of the leader’s burdens, sharing the crown with Tsukasa as two Kings. 

Tsukasa wished he didn't need his help, but trying to rule over his rebellious Knights juniors at Yumenosaki was already a lot of work. 

Maybe they actually needed to be disciplined and cut off with a bloody judgement. Tsukasa was so busy fantasizing about how to properly arrange a new Duel, that he somehow forgot the matter at hand. 

"Okay, Sena said he's flying back and also that it's okay for me to go beat this bully up." Leo summarized reading his last texts. 

"What! No, you can't do that!" Tsukasa intervened. "And Sena-senpai shouldn't leave his work overseas for such a trivial matter!" 

"This isn't trivial." Arashi pointed out. "Someone in Yumenosaki is targeting our leader, isn't our duty as Knights to protect him?" 

Ritsu blinked sleepily, but he seemed to be taking the matter seriously too: "We could install a camera in the places Suu-chan frequents the most to see who it is, since they seem to be stalking him."

"Great idea, Rittsu! And then me and Sena can go and kick their ass!"

"No, no 'ass kicking', no cameras!" Tsukasa stood up, attracting their attention. "We can't act as the bad guys to get our revenge!" 

"In this case it'd be something like justice." Ritsu clarified. 

"I don't want to do things in this dirty way!" Tsukasa insisted. "No one should get hurt because of a stupid prank!" 

He didn't care about the shoes, he was lucky enough he could replace them easily. 

"How's your other plan going then." Leo asked. "Do you have the love song lyrics yet?" 

"They still need a bit of tweaking." Arashi showed them to Leo. 

Tsukasa sat back, feeling accused. 

"Let me see, let me see!" Leo took the paper and read through it. 

Tsukasa almost wanted to stop him from reading. He couldn't fathom having Leo-san read about his feelings for Onee-sama, but he knew it made no sense. They were supposed to sing that as a group after all. 

"Wow, this sounds so obnoxious Suo~" Leo concluded.

"What?!" 

"This song is all about deserving love from a princess because you said some things or acted in a certain way."

"So what?" Tsukasa asked. "How can I expect to be loved if I don’t do anything to deserve that love?”

"That’s just selfishness.” Leo returned the paper, a laconic tone in his words. “That's not how love works."

Tsukasa took it back, feeling like he had just been slapped.

If not even what he felt for Onee-sama qualified as actual love, then what did?

“It’ll be alright, Tsukasa-chan.” Arashi reassured him, patting him on the back. “Give yourself a bit of time to listen to your heart.”

If only his heart would speak louder than the chaos in his head.

 

*

Tsukasa knew someone was following him on his way to his favorite cafè. Their steps were stealthy, but they didn’t bother concealing their presence otherwise.

Could this be the secret stalker? 

After being sure the person had been chasing after him for a while, Tsukasa finally turned to face them.

The person in front of him took him by surprise.

“Kohakun?” Tsukasa asked and the pink haired boy leveled him with an air of sufficiency.

“Do what ya gotta do, I won’t bother ya.” His cousin answered.

“Huh? Why are you here?”

“I heard someone was botherin’ ya, so I’mma take care of ‘em.” Kohaku shrugged, hands in his pants.

“How did you know?” Tsukasa was shocked. He thought no one else besides Knights knew about his stalker.

“Orange head senpai told me, he called me yer bodyguard. He’s so wrong it’s pretty funny, right? But it’s not like we ain’t used to fixin' all the Suou’s problems.”

“It’s not your job to protect me, Kohakun.” Tsukasa gritted his teeth, if anything Kohaku was someone Tsukasa wanted to protect from that wretched side of the family and their nasty methods. “I can handle myself. I’ll deal with Leo-san and his meddling too, later.”

“I dun mind,” Kohaku moved so he was walking alongside him and not behind him anymore. “Can’t have ya cryin' in front of yer tea.”

Tsukasa was insulted, but he couldn’t say no to that offer. He always wanted to find some time to talk with his cousin and connect with him, so he wouldn’t waste that occasion, no matter how misguided Kohaku’s and Leo’s intentions were.

He sipped his royal milk tea while Kohaku ate some dangos, and the two of them conversed peacefully until a waitress interrupted them.

“For you.” She said, placing a piece of chocolate cake in front of him.

Tsukasa’s eyes immediately sparkled. 

Marvelous! Wait...I didn’t order this.”

The waitress smiled.

“Someone told me it was your birthday recently and they wanted to give this to you as a gift.”

“That’s nice.” Kohaku said in between dango bites.

“Who is it from?”

“They prefer to remain as a secret admirer.” The waitress said, taking her leave.

Kohaku grabbed a fork and took a piece from the chocolate cake before Tsukasa could.

“Hey” Tsukasa exclaimed, even though he could almost feel Sena-senpai's glare from another continent when he considered eating it.

“I’ll be yer royal taster, that’s what ol’ Kings used ta have right?” Kohaku said after swallowing and humming in pleasure: “Ta make sure no one poisoned ‘em!” 

“That’s my cake…” Tsukasa whined, but couldn’t really stay mad at Kohaku when he seemed so happy.

He suddenly remembered Leo-san’s words about love not being selfish and Tsukasa understood what he meant now: any form of love, even familiar love was supposed to be selfless. Otherwise it was just self gratification.

Among the feeling of the defeat, Tsukasa felt a excruciating need to know how exactly Leo knew more about love than him, and why that bothered him so much.

He took the fork back from Kohaku and cut his own bite from the middle, until he felt the metal touch something solid in it.

Thinking it was just a piece of solid chocolate, he pushed against it, wanting to cut it. But the more he pushed against it, the more it wouldn’t budge, until something emerged from the chocolate deliciousness.

“Ahhh!” Tsukasa exclaimed and the whole cafè turned to look at him.

Kohaku looked at the plate, where a big black cockroach had just been thrust out of the spongy layer.

“At least it ain’t poison?” he offered, considering he had actually tasted the cake. 

When he turned to look at him, Tsukasa was already five metres away, paying for their orders and quickly leaving the shop, announcing he’d never set foot in there anymore.

“Wait!” Kohaku ran after him and managed to fall back into step next to Tsukasa again. “This was under yer plate!”

Tsukasa’s hands were shaking. He knew it was irrational, but he really hated insects.

With hesitant hands, he managed to take the paper and read it.

He was familiar with the style of the messages, curt and straight to the point: 'You’re not my King, you’ll never be.'

“It’s them.” Tsukasa dismissed it, crumpling the piece of paper and throwing it in a nearby trash bin.

“The waitress?” Kohaku suggested.

“I doubt it.” Tsukasa was still thinking of the ugly cockroach, but now that he knew it hadn’t just been an infortunate coincidence, but a planned act of spite, he felt motivated to investigate. “She was just delivering it.”

“Who's it, then?”

“That’s what I’m going to find out.” 

Kohaku sounded a bit afraid of Tsukasa’s hostile tone, but despite Tsukasa’s insistence that there was no need to, his cousin accompanied him home all the way through.


*

The next day Tsukasa informed Knights, or at least four of them - since Sena-senpai had hopped on a plane to come back to Japan - of what had happened.

“That’s awful!” Arashi exclaimed.

“Not even I ever considered using cockroaches for my cakes.” Ritsu mused.

“Please never do that, Ritsu-senpai.” Tsukasa admonished him.

Leo stayed in the corner of their studio, surrounded by music sheets. 

He had even stopped composing and now his green eyes were wide, face white as a ghost. 

“Are you okay?” He asked and Tsukasa nodded. 

Thinking about ways to catch the stalker had motivated Tsukasa to not focus too much on what had happened, letting him concentrate on a way to prevent it from happening again.

“I want to find this person, look at them in the eyes and tell them that no matter what they think, I’ll never give up my crown just because they don’t like me.”

Leo’s eyes shined in what Tsukasa would’ve probably called pride, but there was also a hidden depth beyond that, a deeper layer Tsukasa could perceive but not distinguish completely.

Ritsu let out a whistle again and Arashi clapped: “That’s what we like to hear!”

“But to do that, I’ll have to bait them with what they want the most: me in a vulnerable, reachable position.”

“That’s out of the question!” Leo looked furious. 

“It sounds pretty dangerous.” Ritsu seconded.

“Tsukasa-chan, what happened to not fighting them directly, but with your love song?” Arashi asked.

“You can’t always resolve everything playing nice, right? Sometimes you have to spill some blood too.” Tsukasa had learned that the hard way in the past months. He just didn’t want to do it more than it was necessary for his and Knights' sake.

“I’ll sing the song too.” Tsukasa continued. “I''ve arranged for us to perform it during our next live in two weeks and after that we’ll have a personal meet and greet with our fans. If the song doesn’t convince them that I’m fit to be Knights’ leader, then that’s probably where they’ll act again.”

“I don’t like this.” Leo repeated, coming closer to grab Tsukasa’s arm.

Tsukasa shrugged. “The king’s orders should never be questioned, right?”

“More like a tyrant's.” Leo grumbled.

“Well,” Tsukasa smiled. “I learned from the most aggravating predecessor ever.”

Leo and Tsukasa exchanged one long, silent look where violet met jade and Ritsu coughed twice, suddenly making Tsukasa feel self conscious of their proximity.

He took a step back.

“Does that mean you have the lyrics now?” Arashi sounded suspiciously knowing.

“Not yet.” Tsukasa said. “But I’m hoping Leo-san can help me.”

“Me?” Leo asked, stunned.

“Oh, he’ll help for sure.” Ritsu nudged Leo forward and Tsukasa blinked in confusion.

“Rittsu!”

“Anyway, we should go do that thing in that place, right Ritsu-chan?”

“What thing?” Tsukasa wondered.

“Right.” Ritsu ignored him, trailing behind an enthusiastic Arashi.

“See you later!”

Tsukasa watched them leave, utterly confused.

Now that they were both left alone, Tsukasa felt awkward. 

It wasn’t the first time by any means, back when Leo was still an high schooler Tsukasa spent countless of days just sitting beside him, waiting for his burst of inspiration to pass, but after Leo’s graduation and his sudden distance even he returned to Japan from Europe, Tsukasa felt unusually jumpy at the thought of being just with him. 

Still, he might as well get some answers out of Leo, now that he had the chance. 

“Why did you tell Kohakun to follow me yesterday?” 

“Kohakun? That’s a cute nickname, Suo~!”

“Don’t change the subject!”

Leo scratched his head, averting his eyes. “I was worried, okay?”

"And you send someone else to do the job for you?" Tsukasa was both angry and sad about this whole situation and was sorry to unleash all of his pent up frustration on Leo, but he couldn’t help himself. 

Leo wore a guilty-as-charged expression on his face, but he seemed skeptical. "Wouldn't I have bothered you?" 

"Since when do you care about that? You used to do whatever you wanted before, now you tiptoe around me, avoiding me like I'm some fragile porcelain ready to break."

"I don't think that at all. I know Suo~ is strong, stronger than me."

"Then why!" Tsukasa insisted. 

"I feel like being around you is just making things more difficult for you." Leo confessed. "Without me, the fans would be more ready to accept you as the new leader."

Tsukasa shook his head: "Then that means you don't have any faith in my abilities."

Leo was baffled. "Of course I do, that's why I chose you as my successor even before you won Requiem, because I believe you are capable of making a miracle happen."

Tsukasa's heart rate accelerated in less than a second. He took a deep breath to try and slow it down, but it was useless. 

"The only reason why the miracle worked the first time is because I had leader with me." Tsukasa admitted. 

He unconsciously slipped back to that old nickname, but when he noticed it, it was too late to take it back. 

"How nostalgic!" Leo smiled softly. "A cute Suo~ calling me leader and following me around. Less than a year passed, but things are so different. I used to be your leader and now you call everyone senpai but me." 

"I beg your pardon?" Tsukasa almost squeaked. 

"I mean, I don't mind. It's fine if you feel closer to the others, you can't keep calling me leader after all. But I kinda liked it, it felt special."

Tsukasa looked at Leo tapping his fingers on the table and for a second he was worried he'd start composing and forget all about him being there, but when Leo raised his eyes back to him, he felt glued to the spot. 

"I didn't mean it to come across like that at all." He revealed. "You are my senpai, you're my former leader and you're Leo-san."

The pressure against his chest just kept getting heavier, if Tsukasa hasn't been used to Leo having that effect on him, he'd wonder if he was sick. 

"Sometimes I feel like using just one name isn't enough to define you. Do you really mind that I don't call you senpai? If you want I could call you Tsukinaga-senpai like the others-"

"Nope." Leo dismissed the offer, looking relieved. "I still want the name you use for me to be different, that makes it special too, right?" 

Tsukasa blushed, barely attempting a nod. Truthfully he hadn't been aware of it: he wanted to reach Leo for a long time and he decided that when he'd finally get there, he'd call him with the same name he gave to the last archery club kitten. 

That day when they played horsie together for fun, like overgrown children, was the first time Tsukasa had felt like maybe one day he'd understand his leader and be equal to him, so he treasured the memory dearly. 

"You wanted me to help you with the song, right? " Leo asked. "I already have three different possible version for the melody, maybe choosing one might help you decide on the lyrics?" 

Tsukasa agreed, but felt his agitation grow at the dangerous subject he was about to discuss. 

"About that…"

"It's getting late for you." Leo checked his wrist watch. "Come on, I'll give you a lift in my car. See, I'm not sending anyone else and doing it myself today."

Tsukasa mumbled something in english, but followed him outside quietly. 

His own driver was waiting to escort him home anyway, but Tsukasa quickly sent him a text, telling him he had other urgent matters to attend to.

It hadn't been the first time Leo had driven in Tsukasa’s presence, but unlike this time, in the last occasion all Knights were there, occupying all the seats. 

Tsukasa sat in the passenger seat primly and waited for Leo to settle himself in the driver's seat, connecting his music player to the car one. 

Slow notes filled the cockpit and Tsukasa felt the tension inside of him dissipate. 

There was something oddly comforting about listening to Leo-san's songs. For the first time since the threatening letters started, he finally felt like nothing could touch him, nothing but this enticing music and Leo's smirk when Tsukasa reopened his eyelids. 

"Do you like it?" 

"Yes, it's sweet like a lullaby."

"Ah, but that might not exactly work for a love song, right? It should be more about the exhilaration of falling in love."

Leo switched to the second melody. This one was very energetic and frankly more suited to the Knights' aesthetic, but it was missing a bit of softness too. 

"I like this one too, but I'm not sure it's appropriate for the theme ."

"I got you." Leo said switching to the third version. It was a mix between the slow ballad parts of the first one and the energetic rhythm of the second one. 

"Perfect!"

"I knew you'd like this one." Leo looked smug. "A bit of sugar is always better with some spice."

"Sugar is great by itself." Tsukasa argued. "But I like the contrast, it fits."

"Love is all about contrast after all~" Leo said, turning on the ignition and starting to drive.

Tsukasa was reminded of the time he had been torn between trying to define if what he felt for his king was either love or hate and found out that it was both.

"Leo-san…" Tsukasa started. 

Tsukasa would never admit it out loud, but Leo looked so cool and poised while he concentrated on driving, so different from his daily self. 

"Hmm?" 

Tsukasa silently traced his former leader's serious profile, the smooth slope of his Adam's apple, the rolled up sleeves on his arms and the angular knuckles on the steering wheel with eager eyes, storing the pictures in his mind. 

"What you said before about love not being selfish...Uhm, do you perhaps have another advice like that?" 

Leo pursed his lips in a teasing smile. 

"What is it Suo~, is your lack of romantic experience getting to you?" 

Bullseye. 

Tsukasa sputtered. "It's not like I don't have any at all!" 

That was a lie, a blatant lie. 

"You know, lately I've been questioning what I know about it too. I've experienced heartbreak and I thought I knew everything about it…" Leo began, eyes stuck on the road. "But someone told me that loving everything means I don't love anything at all, deep down. As frustrating as it is to be called out like that, I can't exactly prove them wrong, so I'm not sure I'm suited to give that kind of advice, I'm sorry."

"Oh." 

Tsukasa turned back to face the road, one of his palms gripping the other like a vice. 

Why does it feel like I've just been rejected? I haven't even confessed to him yet!  

Yet?! 

Oh my God.

This was the worst possible moment to have an epiphany about his feelings. 

They spent the rest of the drive home in silence, only saying goodbye when Tsukasa had to get out. 

"Good luck with the lyrics, Suo~! I'm sure you'll do fine!" 

I'm not sure about that at all. 

Tsukasa watched him speed away with his car and sighed deeply. 

Later, while he stared at the blank page in front of him, he gave himself the chance to stop, to think more deeply about the fact that he was about to write a love song containing his feelings for Leo Tsukinaga, that same Leo Tsukinaga that came into his life less than a year ago and threw it completely upside down, changing Tsukasa’s certainties and putting them into question.

He was supposed to fall for a beautiful, kind girl like Onee-sama and instead…

“I love him.”

This was a song for his fans, but as Ritsu-senpai said, it was much more easier to channel his feelings for a person than a vague collective.

The words flowed easily this time, remembering the third melody Leo-san played for him in the car, and by the time Tsukasa put the pen down he thought he had it.

The next day he showed it to Ritsu-senpai and Narukami-senpai, during their usual after lessons meeting.

“This is…” Arashi started.

“Intense.” Ritsu said, eyes uncharacteristically open as he scrolled through it.

Tsukasa was crestfallen: “It isn’t good?”

“It’s great!” Arashi rushed to clarify. “Intense but in a good way, all the fans will be swooning after this.”

“Yeah. Your feelings properly came through this time.” Ritsu seconded, a spark in his red gaze. “Talking with Tsukippi must’ve helped a lot, huh?”

Tsukasa’s eyes grew as wide as saucers, but he was thankfully saved from answering by Sena Izumi making his grand entrance through the door.

“Sena-senpai!”

“Kasa-kun, Naru-kun, Kuma-kun, I’m back.”

“Okaeri Izumi-chan!” Arashi exclaimed and went to help him put down some of his bags. 

“Secchan, how was the flight?” Ritsu asked, looking visibly happy to see their friend again.

“Fiiine.” Izumi sat down at the table and took off his sunglasses looking bored, but he sent a playful look to Ritsu too, that probably meant nice to see you too

Then he turned and stared at Tsukasa insistently.

“So about your bully, who is it that we need to beat up?”

“No one!” Tsukasa cried out, tired of having to repeat himself. “Promise me that you won’t listen to Leo-san either, we worked so hard to clean up our reputation, I won’t let you guys ruin it again because of some pranks!”

“You really think everything will be fixed with a song?” Izumi raised his brows.

“No, but it doesn’t hurt to try.” 

“It must be a hell of a good song,” Izumi said, but when he finished reading it, he honestly looked impressed.

Miracle Radiance, huh.”

Tsukasa felt a bit self conscious about that, he was worried that Leo would read it and suddenly understand the meaning behind it, but he believed there wasn’t a better title for it.

Leo-san approved the lyrics too and didn’t look at Tsukasa any differently, just praised him genuinely.

Tsukasa relaxed as much as he could in between keeping up his grades, training his juniors, recording the song with Knights, learning the choreography for their next live and dealing with his apparently impossible first love.

 

*

Knights performed their new single in front of a packed crowd. 

Tsukasa was in the center this time and he spread his arms as his sang until his vocal chords hurt, dancing until his muscles screamed in pain, dedicating their newest love song to their princesses.

At the end of their performance, they all bowed and waved as they left the stage to the cries of their passionate fans. 

Tsukasa’s heart was full.

Leo-san might not return his feelings in the way Tsukasa wanted him to, but it didn’t matter. When they exchanged a group hug in the backstage, sweaty and tired, with Leo’s arms around his shoulders and his proud smile wide and directed only to Tsukasa, he felt loved, he felt important and it didn’t matter if someone didn’t want him to be there, shining on the stage with his seniors, because that’s where he belonged.

They strode to the meet and greet walking among their fans, shaking their hands or taking quick selfies with them.

Thanks to that night’s amazing success, Tsukasa was so elated and happy to be there, that he wasn’t even thinking about the stalker anymore.

It came all of a sudden.

“Tsukasa Suou!” A girl shouted his name and the next thing he knew, Tsukasa was pushed on the ground, while Leo let out a scream.

“Leo-kun!” Izumi rushed by his side and Arashi and Ritsu followed him.

When Tsukasa realized he had been shielded by Leo, he jumped upright and went to check up on him.

Leo was bleeding from his forehead and had scratches all over his face. The fan that was currently being restrained by security, had thrown stones meant for Tsukasa to him, after Leo had pushed him back from the attack.

“Leo-sama, I didn’t mean to hurt you! I love you!” She shrieked as she was taken away.

Tsukasa was horrified: he all but ripped a piece out of his undershirt to press it against Leo’s bigger wound and stop it from bleeding.

“I’m fine!” Leo kept saying, while Knights crowded against him on the ground, covering him from their fans. “I’m fine! Suo~ are you okay?”

Tsukasa couldn’t believe this infuriating person: he was bleeding on the floor and he was worrying about his band mate. But the most absurd thing is that someone so kind, so generous, was convinced he wasn’t capable of loving anyone.

“I’m okay, but you’re not!” Tsukasa insisted. “We need to get him to the infirmary soon!”

This is all my fault.

Still protecting their former king, the faithful knights managed to get Leo backstage in a dressing room, where an attendant told them there was a first aid kit.

Anzu, previously in charge of holding back the fans, came to check up on the situation.

“I’m fine, honestly.” Leo reiterated. “It’s just a scratch.”

While his bigger wound had already stopped bleeding profusely, that was clearly an understatement.

Tsukasa immediately opened the kit and rummaged through it, trying to find a disinfectant to apply. Arashi by his side, looked for some bandaids.

“What?” Izumi exclaimed while Anzu relayed the news to him and Ritsu. “No can do. We’re not going to leave Leo-kun after what happened.”

Tsukasa couldn’t exactly hear what they were talking about and he wasn’t sure he wanted to know, after all he had no intention to leave either.

“Ow!” Leo protested when Tsukasa started dabbing the disinfectant on the bruise. “It burns!”

Tsukasa ignored him and methodically cleaned the injury.

Ritsu came closer: “Suu-chan, Anzu told us we should go back there to calm down the fans. They’re making a fuss because they’re worried something bad happened to Tsukippi.”

“I’m not leaving.”

“Suo~, you should all go.” Leo urged him. “I’m fine, really, you should tell our princesses that too!”

“I’m not leaving!” Tsukasa stood firm.

“Suo~...”

“Okay.” Arashi left the bandaids she found on a nearby chair. “We’ll go handle this, you guys can calm yourself down in the meanwhile. Leave it to neechan!”

Izumi, however, was still reluctant.

"I'm okay, Sena! Go! Go! Go!"

Leo assured him and Izumi couldn't even reply before he was dragged out to reassure their fans that Leo was physically well, just a bit shaken by what happened.

Once they were left alone, Leo caught Tsukasa’s wrist, stopping his frantic movements as he applied the bandages. Tsukasa realized he was trembling from head to toe.

“Suo~” Leo repeated. “Please, don’t worry, I really am fine.”

“How could I not worry!” Tsukasa couldn’t believe his own ears. “You got hurt because of me, to save me! This was my idea, I was ready for the consequences, but no, you had to interfere! You stupid, incorrigible idiot!”

“Hey, why are you mad at me now! If you call me an idiot, you’re the idiot!”

“Stop being selfless and think more about yourself!” Tsukasa barked.

“You think I did this because I’m selfless?” Leo asked, lowering Tsukasa’s wrist with the hand he still had around it. “I only did it because I can’t stand the thought of someone stealing your light!”

“What?” It was like they were having two conversations at the same time and now Tsukasa was completely confused.

“The light that saved me, that showed another path for me...I could never watch someone take that away from you, I’d do anything to protect it.” Leo shrugged. “Anything. That isn’t some noble, selfless act, it’s just my selfish wish.”

Tsukasa couldn’t stop himself anymore, he hugged Leo tight, pressing his face against ginger hair, still sweaty from the live, squishing Leo against his chest.

“Omph! Suo~! Suo~! You’re crushing me!”

Tsukasa loosened the embrace to let him breathe, but he made sure to keep Leo from looking at his now tear stricken face.

“Suo~, it’s okay. Yosh! Yosh!” Leo returned the hug and rubbed his shoulderblades energetically, in an attempt to console him. 

I love him and this is my fault.

Tsukasa managed to keep his silent cry hidden until the sobs started quaking his body.

“Suo~, no! Don’t cry!”

“I’m sorry!” He bawled. 

He held everything in until it came out bursting in that moment. He didn’t know how to describe what he was feeling, so he just cried and kept holding onto Leo like a lifeline.

“Suo~ you’re going to make me cry too if you don’t calm down.”

Tsukasa sniffled and pulled back, freeing Leo. “I’m sorry, Leo-san.”

“Why are you even apologizing for?” Leo shook his arm, looking at Tsukasa brushing away his tears with his hands. 

Leo hadn’t been lying about being on the verge of crying before: he looked teary too. 

“This is exactly what I didn’t want to happen!” Leo sounded frustrated and he dragged Tsukasa closer to help him wipe away his tears. 

He carefully held Tsukasa’s face in his hands and Tsukasa was overwhelmed by the intensity of the love he felt for him, he wondered how he had been so blind to it before.

He wanted more and he felt bad for wanting it, the contradiction so obvious and yet so essential.

“Leo-san.” Tsukasa knew he was threading dangerous territory, but he needed to share his last discovery. “I think you were wrong before: love isn’t completely selfish or selfless, it’s both.”

“Yeah…” Leo concurred, but he looked distracted, like when he was on the verge of composing. He didn’t let Tsukasa go, though and seemed to be looking for answers in his violet eyes.

“And I think you’re much more capable of loving than you give yourself credit for, don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise.” Tsukasa concluded, emotionally overcome by the genuine care Leo showed him even when he didn’t deserve it.

The way you can show your love openly clears the fog around my heart and lets me see the truth. ” Leo quoted some lines from their new single back to Tsukasa. “I want to be able to return that same miracle radiance and tell you I love you too.

His voice sounded low, like his soul was in a distant galaxy even if his body was right there.

Tsukasa flinched and took a step back, breaking their contact. 

He went too far: he made his feelings too explicit and now he had ruined everything, unless he denied it fast. Leo-san could be pretty gullible sometimes, maybe it could work.

“I was pretty proud of that line, I hope it could reach our fans.” Tsukasa added nervously. “I tried my best to convey my feelings for them.”

“Suo~, are you trying to be selfish or selfless now?” Leo blinked himself back to reality. “Or are you just a coward?”

“I’m not a coward!” Tsukasa replied, offended. He belonged to a family of brave and aristocratic warriors, not cowards. 

“Then tell me you love me to my face.” Leo delivered the final blow. 

Tsukasa’s eyes widened. He saw the flame of challenge burn in Leo-san’s gaze, but before he could say anything, the dressing room’s door reopened and the others trailed back in with perfect timing.

“I'm exhausted.” Ritsu complained. “I love our fans, but we spoil them too much with our fanservice.”

“Yeah.” Arashi agreed. “At least we managed to calm them down and send them back home.”

“Right.” Izumi echoed them. “We’re the only ones doing the heavy lifting around here.”

Tsukasa bowed towards them. “Thank you for hard your work, senpai, I’m sorry for getting so upset earlier. It was very unbecoming of me.”

“It’s okay..” Arashi stepped closer and playfully poked Tsukasa. “You went through a lot, Tsukasa-chan. Leo-kun too.”

Leo kept insistently looking at Tsukasa and Tsukasa pointedly turned the other way, tense as a violin string.

“The security detained your stalker.” Izumi said. “Do you want to meet her, give her a piece of your mind?”

“Okay.” Tsukasa zipped up his uniform jacket, even though the undershirt was torn to shreds.

“No!” Leo complained. “She’s one of my fans, I should tell her-”

“Seeing you would make her happy, she doesn’t deserve that.” 

Plus he wasn’t going to let Leo take responsibility for him again, it was the time to handle his own matters in his own way.

After crying so much, Tsukasa hoped he looked presentable enough, but he guessed that didn’t matter: if he hadn’t won her over with his looks before, it wouldn’t happen now either.

“You!” She said from a chair, wearing handcuffs, when Tsukasa came to see her. 

A bulky security guard kept her seated.

“I didn’t want to see you.” She spit the words out violently “I wanted to know if Leo-sama is okay!”

Tsukasa wondered if he should let her stew in her own guilt some more, but in the end he just said: “He’s fine, not thanks to you, though.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt him! That was for you! To make you leave!”

Tsukasa felt some of her contempt arrive to his younger, scared self. He wasn't a genius like Leo-san and it didn't come as easy for him to prove his worth on stage. He wasn't as strikingly beautiful as Sena-senpai, he couldn't turn on the charm like Ritsu-senpai did and he didn't have the warm, caring heart Narukami-senpai had. But he had grown beyond acknowledging his limits, now he knew his strengths too: he knew he could count on his hard work and dedication to his unit, he trusted the solid ground he was building his future on, certain of the people around him, that supported and cherished him.

“You would’ve hurt him just the same, even if you injured me, because he’s one of my Knights and we all care about each other.”

“You’re not one of them!” She spewed. “You’re just a newbie who stole Leo-sama’s crown and his position!”

Tsukasa swallowed, trying to keep himself calm in front of such lies.

“And if you knew anything about Leo-san, you’d know he never wanted to be trapped in that role, that it just caused him pain.”

That got to her: she looked bewildered now.

“Listen, it doesn’t matter to me what you think about me. I'm not going to leave Knights, no matter what you do.” Tsukasa clarified. “But I’ll never allow anyone to hurt one of my beloved senpai. If you try to come after me or any of us, ever again, I won’t just put mud in your shoes, you’ll become the mud I step on.”

She looked sufficiently terrified now and so did the security guard.

“Well then, if you’ll excuse me.” Tsukasa smiled graciously and left the scene, his footsteps echoing behind him.

When he came back to their changing room, everyone surrounded Tsukasa and grouped together for a hug. They probably looked like penguins huddling together for warmth but Tsukasa didn’t mind, each of them were the pillars that helped him stand without fear.

 

*

Tsukasa managed to avoid the inevitable confrontation with Leo, letting his other commitments absorb him completely, until he had nowhere else to run away.

"Suoooooo, are you there???"

"Did you get kidnapped by aliens???"

“Suooooo, we need to talk!!!”

Tsukasa stared at his phone screen like it would detonate within seconds.

He hadn’t slept for so long, fearing this day would come and now that he finally thought it’d never happen, thinking that perhaps Leo had forgotten about it like he usually did, or that Tsukasa had misunderstood the atmosphere completely, here it was.

Of course, there was still the possibility that Leo just wanted to discuss another matter, but the more Tsukasa thought about it, the less sense it made.

Did Leo-san seriously have to learn how to properly use his phone now?

Leo sent him a long chain of pleading stickers and Tsukasa cursed himself for opening the first message: now Leo knew he was online and that Tsukasa never left him on read; he always rushed to his aid even when Leo just sent him incomprehensible monosyllables. 

"When?" he typed in. 

It was like this that Tsukasa found himself agreeing to meet Leo in the weekend "to go for a ride." 

It sounds like a date, a part of his brain that weirdly sounded like Ritsu-senpai and Narukami-senpai helpfully supplied.

Tsukasa shook his head, doubting this was the case. 

Even if Tsukasa ended up driven into a corner and actually confessing, he already knew Leo would reject him.

Besides, not only they were both boys, they were in the same unit. If word ever got out about them, it'd cause a huge scandal, not to mention Tsukasa had obligations towards his family, a clear standard to uphold.

There was no way this would ever work out. 

Tsukasa sighed dejected; he had been too preoccupied with his newfound feelings to actually think about their implications. 

The best possible outcome would be for both of them to get over it and find a way to remain friends. That was more than what Tsukasa could possibly ask out of this, as long as the awkwardness between them would finally be over. 

Tsukasa dressed nicely, wearing a white and blue button down and his khaki pants, and in case his family could suspect anything he told them he’d been invited for a dinner to Tenshouin-onisama’s house to discuss Ensemble Square related matters.

Leo picked him up on the dot and smiled when Tsukasa briefly met his eyes, before looking away, cheeks beet red as his hair. 

Leo looked very nice too, wearing a comfortable white hoodie with black and orange stripes and jeans.

Tsukasa knew he had to stop doing this, that he was actually digging his own grave, but it was impossible to control his emotions around Leo-san.

That’s what love is about, really.

He could probably write thousands more songs about this, and about the simple, dignified beauty of Leo’s profile.

Leo caught him openly staring, again, and he chuckled when Tsukasa almost smashed his face against the car window in his haste to make it look like he’d just been admiring the view.

Leo parked in a quiet spot but he didn’t get out, turning to face Tsukasa in the passenger seat.

This is it. This is how I’m going to die.

He knew his imagination was being overdramatic, but none of the scenarios he was thinking of let him keep his dignity intact, so he just swallowed his nervousness and waited for his end to come.

“Suo~ aren’t you going to check on my injuries? I got them fighting for my king’s honor, after all!”

Tsukasa sighed, still feeling upset when he remember the accident. He wanted to check on the bruises, to make sure they wouldn't leave a trace on Leo's lovely face, but they were covered by Leo’s messy hair and that’d mean Tsukasa would have to touch him. He didn't feel like he had any right to. 

"Go ahead."

Leo encouraged Tsukasa to reach out, staring as the boy ever so carefully lifted up his bangs and smoothed over the former open wounds with his fingertips, soft as a feather.

“Thank god, they seem to be healing fine.” He breathed out, relieved.

“You still left an open wound though.” Leo pointed out.

“What?” Tsukasa’s eyes traveled all over Leo’s body, this time not in an appreciative but worried way, scanning for every possible injury he could’ve missed. “Where?”

“Here.” Leo said, snatching one of Tsukasa’s hands and placing it on his heart.

Tsukasa’s air remained stuck in his throat as he felt Leo’s hurried heartbeat beneath his palm.

“Before we got interrupted you were saying something, right?”

Leo’s jade eyes reflected a mix of hope and fear, only Tsukasa could decide his outcome.

This is it. I need to tell him. I need to tell him I love him.

“I...I...I...” Tsukasa tried saying it, but the words just wouldn’t come out. He took a deeper breath and tried again. “I...uhm...I...think...I…lo”

It was faster than a flash, Leo lunged forward and pecked him on the lips, making Tsukasa’s already overloaded brain short circuit and his cheeks burn even more.

“I’m sorry, Suo~, you looked so cute, like a fish out of water, I couldn’t resist!”

A fish? ” In the midst of the He kissed me! He really kissed me! Leo-san kissed me! litany in his head, Tsukasa could only feel outraged by the unflattering comparison.

“You know those chubby puffer fishes? You looked exactly like that! Whahahaha!”

“Leo-san!” Tsukasa yelled in the tiny car space.

“What!” Leo yelled back, looking like a scolded child.

“I hate you!” Tsukasa’s words overflowed the dam of his rationality. “I hate you because I end up loving you more and more each day, no matter what you do or where you are! And I can’t stop it or make sense of it, it’s just how it is!”

“I’m a bit confused but...I love you too, Suo~!”

“Why are we shouting?!” Tsukasa asked. 

“I don’t know!”

They both shut up at the same time, looked at each other, and broke into laughter.

When they managed to stop, only fondness remained in their eyes: their fingers entwined and their lips met again to seal a silent oath of devotion for each other.

Pulse thrumming loudly in his ears, Tsukasa pressed into the kiss deeper, hands framing Leo's angular jaw and tilting it up towards him. 

This wasn't supposed to happen: just thinking about the consequences of their reckless gesture was making Tsukasa's head spin, but it was too late to stop now, not to mention impossibile to do.

Tsukasa wouldn't have been able to let go of Leo-san not even if he wanted: a powerful force attracted them, an impetuous impulse that made him let go of all reason, in favor of holding onto the amazing person in front of him. 

Leo made a sound of pleasure low in his throat and Tsukasa shivered in kind, thrilled to have that kind of effect on him. 

When they separated, Leo's expression in the low light glowed with the same miracle radiance Tsukasa wrote about in his song. 

The space that separated them was charged with anticipation and it was obvious that they both just wanted to do it again. 

"Suo-"

Tsukasa resisted that come-hither call and swept away Leo's bangs again, tracing the healing scars and laying kisses over them one by one. 

"What?" Leo scrunched up his face. He didn't seem to mind the gesture, just sounded amused. 

"I realized back then I forgot to tell you something…" Tsukasa whispered to not break the tenderness of the moment. "I lost my head and I just yelled at you, but what I really wanted to say was: thank you, thank you for defending me and being there for me. I didn't know how to accept that at first, because I wanted to be able to protect you too."

Smiling, Leo grasped one of Tsukasa’s hands and laid down a kiss on his knuckles as wild butterflies fluttered in Tsukasa's stomach: "You're welcome! But Suo~, one of the King's duties is letting their Knights fight their battles for them and have faith they'll succeed." 

"I know, but for me... I might be the King, but you're still the ruler of my heart." Tsukasa murmured, quoting his lyrics. 

"You little!" Leo seemed equally surprised and endeared. "So that was about me!"

"Yes." Tsukasa confirmed and he was so embarrassed he used his free hand to hide his face. 

Everything was out in the open now, Leo-san could make fun of him forever with all that ammo. 

"No, don't hide Suo~!" Leo gently took the other hand in his too, revealing Tsukasa's flush. "It's the same thing for me! I wrote it all for you!" 

Maybe things wouldn't be easy, maybe they'd face a lot of consequences for their burgeoning relationship, but Tsukasa believed they'd be able to face them together. 

As they came closer to embrace again, Tsukasa thought love was about that too: letting all of your walls fall and trusting the other with your whole life, knowing that you were safe in their hands. 

 

*

On their way back home, Leo-san couldn't control his excitement and he laughed loudly and randomly sped up along the streets. 

Tsukasa nagged at him for acting like a belligerent child, but he was smiling widely and didn't think this happiness would stop or slow down either anytime soon.