This wasn’t new to Haruto, in more than one occasion he had felt the deep urge and desperation to kiss. Someone specifically, that has always been close, but the moment was never right and it would probably never be. To him, the idea of kissing Uozumi was a constant fantasy he had as he came of age and, while growing older and a little apart, felt more like intrusive thoughts he needed to erase entirely, but that managed to keep him awake in the most random nights. This one night a dream caused him to wake up, cutting abruptly that nice fantasy in which he could swear he smelled the subtle fragrance of one of Uozumi's preferred colognes.
His heart wasn't beating any faster, neither he jumped from the bed in cold sweat thanks to dreaming about another man in that way, it was usual for him from time to time to have his subconscious remind him how he still held a torch for that guy, not even the years or the distance that now kept them apart had managed to help tone them down and in the end, he wasn't really a fan of the idea of letting those feelings go either. Haruto has kept them for far too long to just simply dropping them and acting like they never existed.
It was bad enough that he woke up at 2 am on a day before morning rehearsals, the fact that he started thinking about Uozumi's lips wouldn't help him go back to sleep either. Memories of past similar situations in which his sole focus were his lips slowly came to mind while staring at the ceiling on that cold night. Haruto remembered the first time he wanted to kiss Uozumi. They were still in middle school, probably 14 at the time and Uozumi was passing by the gym where he was training with the Basketball team. The moment he looked at him, staring in, he jogged towards the door and couldn't avoid plastering a smile on his face when Uozumi frowned at his closeness.
"You're all sweaty, Haru" he said, looking back inside the Gym.
"No more than on dance practices. What are you looking for?"
"Oh, just for the third-year players. I need to tell them the newspaper club will come by in an hour to make their article on them"
"Really diligent of you, class secretary" he smiled and leaned in the door frame
"Not something you put in practice a lot"
He still looked inside the gym, professionally ignoring Haruto as he spoke, a thing the group of girls from his personal Fanclub that were now peaking through the door at the other side of the gym, waiting to see him practice, could take some notes on. Subtly, Haruto looked at the direction Uozumi had his eyes on, it was the captain of the team who was next to the coach checking on some plays in the board, his eyes went back to Uozumi, specifically at the way he had almost unnoticeably bit his lower lip. Only because of their closeness and that at this point Haruto was a great observant of his friend's mannerisms he saw it.
He hated it. A burning rage filled his chest for a reason that he didn't quite understand at the time.
"Why don't you go in and tell them?" He spoke normally.
"I can't" Uozumi looked at the hour in his phone and then back at Haruto "Could you tell them for me? I have to take this paperwork to the president plus other stuff so I cannot engage in a long chat"
"Count on me" Haruto smiled and cleaned some sweat from his forehead.
"... Don't overwork yourself either" whispered Uozumi after giving Haruto a thorough look.
"This whole 'belonging to all the clubs' thing… I mean, it's cool, you can do it, but you're still a human being, and a kid too"
At the end of his sentence he couldn't avoid pouting a little, arms crossed and avoiding eye contact so he doesn't have to cross gazes with those blue eyes. Like that, any seed of jealousy had disappeared from him as he knew that this amount of thoughtfulness was reserved only for him. His lips would only do that for him.
"Ah! I'm blessed to have such a caring best friend"
"Don't say that. You're disgusting. Go back to practice and stop acting like a child"
"But you said I was one though"
"... I don't have time for this, Haru" a tiny blush appeared on his cheeks "See you tomorrow"
With a wave, he turned around and walked away from the Gym door. The coach called him and Haruto just stayed in that spot long enough to see him dissapear into one of the corridors. For the rest of the day and until he went to sleep he thought about that conversation, the not so usual pouting that he then tried to hide behind pursed lips, that was now carved in his memory. To this day he still remembers them fondly.
Then there were moments where Haruto felt it was too difficult not to kiss him, that it was a matter of life or death to him. Like that one time in their last year of High school when their "relationship" supposedly ended and Haruto was leaving for Broadway. He decided to tell Uozumi first as they sat in one of the benches in the gardens in Ayanagi. Right after the obvious screaming, complaining and nagging from a shocked Uozumi, It turned extremely quiet when he calmed down. The school was empty as it was almost dawn and between them sat the canned iced coffee he had gotten himself and a can of black coffee he bought for Uozumi, both ignored and creating space as Haruto waited for another reaction after telling him his plans. After these last months of having him hating his guts he expected to get even more rage from him, maybe even punched in the face, one never knows, but instead, Uozumi took a deep breath before speaking.
"You think it's smart to only tell me now? Why couldn't you say it at the council room?"
"I wanted you to be the first to know"
Uozumi took his can and opened it, holding it close to his lips and speaking before drinking some of the black coffee.
"... You're so weird"
Haruto did the same thing and stayed expectant of more words from Uozumi that came after another pause.
"Your English is so shitty though, you know that right?"
"Yes… you have reminded me of that"
"At least you sing good in English so maybe that'll be enough" finally, he looked at Haruto in the eyes "But really? Broadway? In the end you really are a star"
"It's an opportunity and I have to take those whenever I can" He had no answer, he only looked at him straight into his eyes with a gaze Haruto couldn't quite describe. "You… won't say anything about that?"
"About this chance that's been given to me because it's… Me. Tsukigami Haruto"
"I see. You want me to bring you down or something? Are you a masochist?" He laughed bitterly and looked at the fountain again "Really, I know I once called you out about that pristine pedigree of yours, but this, you won this, Haru. You are the most talented person I know so it's obvious you would get this type of opportunity"
In awe at the compliments, Haruto couldn't do anything but stare at the boy sitting next to him, trying to figure out if he was lying to himself or just being honest out loud, or a mix of both. Even so, Haruto knew that hearing those words from Uozumi had shaken all doubt away.
"You think so?"
"If I didn't I would be blind, though I wish I could say you're hard-working too but you always pass down the job to me. Now that you'll be gone it'll be worse! And you didn't even asked me before taking the decision! Have you thought about that?!"
Now there was his regular Uozumi, the indescribable expression gone and that irritated look back on. Yet that did not erase the confusion he felt in that instant.
"I know it and I'm truly sorry, but I don't know anyone better for the job than you"
"Yeah yeah, I was made to save your lazy ass, you sorry excuse of a leader"
With that, Haruto burst into laughter, the nickname fits him perfectly in Uozumi's eyes and even on his own. His laughs were enough to make his friend hide his giggling behind some lame fake coughing. Their laughter died out in a minute and the silence was filled by the water falling from the fountain, a moment comfortable enough that Uozumi didn't think before speaking.
"It's not fair that you took Ootori and let him go, and now you're going away too"
When he heard himself Uozumi covered his mouth with the tip of his fingers. He faced away, flustered enough and red to the tip of his ears, then stood up before Haruto could say a thing, but it was not like he could, he was barely realizing that had happened in real life. The motion of Uozumi touching his thin lips as if what he had said was the most sensible and deepest truth he ever dared to say out loud, even if it was almost as low as a whisper. It caused a big urge in Haruto to grab him by the wrist and not let him go away. He stopped himself from standing up too because even with what he said, it must be just him talking about their long-lasting friendship that had been in a rocky road ever since their third year started. Nothing else. Nothing that was as close as what made Haruto this anxious. Nothing at all.
"Be ready for Saotome's unending tears when you tell him and Futaba you're going. I won't take care of that mess"
"... Wouldn't you cry because you will miss me too?"
There was a smile on his face as he waited for Uozumi to lash out at him for that kind of comment. Haruto saw him fixing the front of his tailcoat and turning around to give him a cold glance
"You're not that special, Haru. And don't think that we are friends, I still won't forgive you for what you did to me. I can live without you being around just fine"
"... I'm sure you will pester me by phone already so it would be nice to have some vacations from that pretty boy face of yours that pisses me off so badly"
"I'll video call you then"
Uozumi pulled his phone from his pant and unlocked it "I’m already erasing your number"
Haruto burst into laughter again, this time louder and more obnoxious than before at what Uozumi rolled his eyes and put his phone back in his pocket, Haruto’s contact still intact. He told him to finish his work before going to the dorm room and left him alone on the wood bench with the sound of the water falling accompanying him. The forgotten can of coffee Uozumi left unfinished sat next to him. Haruto took a sip of it. It was too bitter, even for him. It was also as bitter as he imagined Uozumi in that moment would taste. This was the closest kiss he would ever get from him.
That one memory felt fresh even with all these years. He still could remember the bitterness of the coffee and the bittersweetness of the words Uozumi spout at him. With that contradictory attitude that confused him and made him feel he needed to walk on his tiptoes around him, joke around and hold onto the relationship they now had. Sometimes he wished he could go back at the days when he would say something silly and make both of them laugh in their carefree teenage years.
A notification popped up in his phone and he lazily took it. The news alert about Uozumi's new drama got updated and it felt like a kick in the gut when he was already down. He didn't need to see a picture of him kissing his co-star and all the euphoric comments of the followers of the show that were glad it had finally happened. The ratings would go rise after this episode and so did an unwanted feeling in Haruto's chest, yet the more he saw the picture the more he imagined what would it feel to kiss him, not in an act like how he was doing to that beautiful actress, or in the stage where he actually was never that comfortable kissing so he would just get close and show his back to the public and the illusion of the kiss and intimacy was done. With his jump to TV, this was impossible and he had to applaud Uozumi for overcoming that, especially with those lips close-ups directors loved so much. That even Haruto himself enjoyed because he could see him in that situation, even if it wasn't for him.
Those thin and mildly rosy lips had his full attention. He was ignoring anything else on the picture, he could only focus on the lips that kept him awake with memories up till now. Those were such a delightful sight that Haruto had to turn off his phone and cover his face with a pillow. Press it against his face so hard to ignore his own blush while his imagination ran wild. For an instant, he thought that maybe this is how fans felt, rolling over one picture online, over getting the signed bromide of their favorite idol or actor.
Did he felt this troubled over a picture? Not really, his fans might feel overjoyed this time and even a little jealous, but for him, this was just a reason to turn off his phone for good and force himself to sleep. To Haruto it was real, maddening, and exhausting true love and admiration that would never be realized.