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The Star I Look for Every Night

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Langa doesn’t consider himself a romantic.

Sure, his parents had been in love, and he’d been happy for them. It had seemed nice, the way they’d smile for each other, or the way that his father would waltz into a room and sweep his mother into a dance that had her breathless with laughter. They’d had each other through whatever life had thrown at them. Langa knows his mother is devastated by the loss of his father. He’d been her partner in life.

As far as examples went, his parents had been a good one. Watching them made him feel warm. It was comforting to know that something like that could exist between people, and in all honesty, sometimes he’d gotten a little giddy at the thought of having that with someone. He has his little moments, face buried in his pillow, where he thinks about it. What it must feel like to fall in love; the butterflies, the warmth, the excitement of it all. He tries not to plan it out too hard in his head.

Langa had watched enough movies and read enough manga to know what a confession looked like. So in his first year of middle school when a very pretty girl from the class above him had approached him, red and stuttering and clutching an envelope in her fidgeting hands, his heart had started to pound. This was it, a chance to find his person. He’d accepted the letter, equally red and nervous, and tucked it away to read later at home.

He thinks about it for the rest of the day.

Langa is still nervous, sitting at his desk later and fiddling with the flap of the envelope. In one decisive moment, he takes a deep breath and rips the envelope open, scrambling to unfold the paper inside.

He reads it, once, twice, and then a third time for good measure. He takes in the flowing script, the lines pressed too hard into the paper in their excitement.

He frowns.

It’s... different than he expected. It talks about a person that seems so unlike him. Someone graceful and beautiful and mysterious. It makes it sound like she knows everything about him already.

The worst part, he thinks, is that she writes that she’s in love with him. That makes his eyebrows knit together. He’s always thought that love was something that people discovered together. But this... it’s like she’s skipped all of the figuring it out, and she’s done it without him.

Her signature is at the bottom, bubbly and loopy, with a little heart doodled next to it. Langa realizes, with a start, that he doesn’t remember what her face looks like. He’d been so caught up in the idea of love, of having someone, that he hadn’t taken the actual person into account.

Langa presses his hand to his stomach, feels no butterflies, and tries not to be too disappointed.

Turning her down the next day is somehow easier and harder than he’d expected. Easier, because he knows he’s doing the right thing. He doesn’t feel anything for her and it would be wrong of him to make her believe otherwise.

Harder, because she’s crying. She asks if he’s sure, and for a second he considers telling her that he’s willing to try. But he thinks of his parents. He’d asked them once, how they’d known that they were right for each other, and they’d looked at each other for a moment so long that Langa had feared they’d forgotten he was there. Then his father had taken his mother’s hand, turned back to him, and said “I just knew.”

Langa has to swallow past the lump in his throat to tell her that he’s sure. She runs away, tears streaming down her cheeks, and he has never felt worse.

There’s no time for him to breathe after that. Word seems to have gotten around that Langa had turned her down, and that opens the floodgates. He starts to receive confession after confession, and they all go the same way. He still intently reads every one of the letters, and listens to every one of their speeches, and he tries desperately to feel anything because of them. But every time, without fail, there’s nothing.

The first boy that confesses to him is a surprise. It’s not unwelcome, and it’s the only thing that’s made his heart pick up even a little. He wonders if that means something, but he chalks it up to the shock. He doesn’t know this boy either, and he won’t hurt someone just because he’s trying to force feelings that don’t come.

It gets easier. The names and faces blur together when he learns them, and it doesn’t hurt as much when they cry. He never entirely stops feeling bad about it, though. He knows it takes courage to try to tell him their feelings in the first place, and Langa doesn’t like hurting people. He decides that romance isn’t something for him. Love is something that happens to other people. There’s no one in his life that he can’t imagine losing. There’s no one that he can’t live without.

Langa doesn’t have friends. People don’t approach him unless it’s to confess their feelings. He wonders if it’s his fault sometimes, if something makes him unapproachable, or if people really just don’t care to get to know him. There are moments of frustration, where he wonders if his whole existence is some sort of game to his classmates. Is it a competition to see if he’ll accept anyone?

Honestly, Langa considers moving a blessing in this respect. He hopes that maybe people will be different in his new school. He can’t stop the disappointment that blooms in his stomach when he gets up in front of the class and immediately hears the whispers. He introduces himself as briefly as he can, not wanting to give them any part of himself, and tries to ignore the eyes that follow him to the back of the class. He doesn’t look at anyone, doesn’t talk to anyone, and tries to ignore the tears of frustration that burn behind his eyes.

~~~~~~

Meeting Reki feels like a revelation.

It’s a complete coincidence. Langa is alarmed by how forward Reki is at first, but he’s compelled. He’s so compelled, in fact, that getting on Reki’s skateboard doesn’t terrify him as much as it would normally, and falling off of it immediately doesn’t hurt like it should.

Reki laughs at him, and Langa can’t even bring himself to be offended by it. Being on a skateboard feels so similar to snowboarding that goosebumps break out on his arms.

Then Reki is flying over him on his board, and Langa’s competitive streak flares to life.

He’s hooked.

Langa is so grateful. He’s grateful that Reki has given him skateboarding, grateful for the easy companionship that Reki shows him, grateful for the way his pulse races over it all.

Reki is Langa’s first friend.

Reki is loud, and brash, and he doesn’t hold back. He says what’s on his mind, and he playfully shoves Langa around like they’ve been friends for years. He’s bright and excitable and he makes everything so much fun.

They spend as much time together as possible. They go to school together, eat lunch together, and they spend hours in the skatepark after school is out. Reki is the first person to text him in the morning, and the last person to text him before he falls asleep. He teaches Langa to skate, and he’s patient about it. He doesn’t get mad when Langa messes up or falls. He just presses bandaids over Langa’s scrapes and tells him what he should try next time to do better.

Langa smiles so much that his cheeks hurt. He laughs until his stomach aches. He comes home with bumps and bruises that his mother gawks over, but he doesn’t even feel them. He doesn’t think he’s ever been this happy.

Reki is Langa’s first best friend.

~~~~~~

Langa has never been closer to anyone, and Reki makes everything so easy. They share water bottles and lunches. It’s not unusual for Reki to crowd into his space, throwing an arm around him or resting his chin over Langa’s shoulder when they’re both trying to read something. Reki’s not shy about settling his arms around Langa’s waist when they both pile onto his scooter.

The confessions don’t stop, but Langa can’t find it in himself to be as irritated over them as before. He’s got Reki to focus his attention on, and Reki is a great distraction. He seems to have picked up on Langa’s sour mood after he’s approached, and he always has something ready to show him or to talk about when Langa sits back down. Langa is eternally grateful for him.

More and more often, Langa finds himself in Reki’s room under the guise of doing homework, when Reki will flop into his lap and shove his phone under his nose to show him a video of a new trick that he wants to try. And more and more often this devolves into Reki’s back pressing into his chest, hair tickling at his cheek, while they watch video after video and discuss techniques together.

And that’s all fine.

Until it’s not.

Langa doesn’t think anything of it.

Until he does.

There’s nothing special about the day, nothing special about what they’re doing. It’s the same as always. They’re sitting on Reki’s floor, backs pressed to his bed frame, sharing a bag of chips and watching videos on Reki’s phone.

Reki leans forward to grab at his drink, and when he leans back, he re-settles himself against Langa. Langa, still listening intently to the video, opens his arms without thinking, adjusting himself to accommodate Reki’s presence. He’s warm, and his weight is comfortable, and Langa’s arm curls around his waist absentmindedly.

And he then freezes.

Reki feels like he belongs there, settled against his chest. And then Reki laughs at some joke the guy narrating makes, and Langa looks down at him.

It’s like seeing Reki for the first time. Like hearing him for the first time. His head presses back against Langa’s shoulder, and his nose scrunches up, and Langa can feel his laughter vibrate in his own chest.

Everything is suddenly too warm and too intense. Langa opens his mouth. To say what, he’s not sure. He doesn’t know what to make of this, the feeling of his lungs being too big for his rib cage.

He’s not given any time to grapple with it, because at that very unfortunate moment, Reki’s mom is calling that dinner is done and Reki is letting out a whoop and leaping to his feet.

Langa just watches him, red faced, vision swimming. Reki’s arms drop to his side, and he cocks his head.

“You alright, dude?” He asks, frowning in concern.

Langa shakes his head. “Sorry,” he croaks out, “Ah, just, too warm. Got a little dizzy.”

“I’ll get you a glass of water?” Reki offers his hand.

Langa lets Reki pull him to his feet. “Yeah, that’d be great. Thanks.”

If Langa is a little off during dinner, Reki has the good grace not to mention it.

~~~~~~

Things are... different for Langa from that moment. He doesn’t understand it, and it’s driving him insane.

It’s like someone has dialed up the brightness on everything that Reki says and does. Since that afternoon, every time that Reki so much as giggles, Langa’s shoulders shoot up to his ears. Reki touches him, and it makes Langa's face flush a deep red. He can only tell Reki he’s overheated so many times before he starts making good on his threat to take Langa to the hospital for heatstroke.

On one of the worst days, Reki pulls off his sweatshirt and is left in a tank top. Langa can’t even skate in a straight line that day. He’s far too preoccupied with watching the lines of Reki’s arms, and the way his calves flex when he pushes off the ground. Langa hasn’t come home with that many bruises in weeks.

For the most part, Reki isn’t acting any differently. It’s really just the incredible side-eye that he’s been giving Langa in his weirder moments. He’s just as open and goofy. He still has no problem invading Langa’s personal space at any given moment. He still steals sips of Langa’s drinks and bites of his food. He invites himself into Langa’s lap to watch video after video on a regular basis. Langa has no idea if Reki can feel the way that his breath hitches when he curls up close, but if he can he hasn’t said anything.

There’s no question that they eat lunch together every day, and Reki asks him to dinner more days than not. They go for ice cream, and to see movies, and to dumb festivals. Reki makes it a point to pay for both of them whenever Langa is distracted, and even sometimes when he’s not. Langa tries to thank him or pay him back, and Reki just smiles and loops an arm around his shoulders and tells him that his company is thanks enough.

Langa is on edge every day, and he has no answers as to why. He doesn’t have much experience with having friends, let alone a friend like Reki, so everything is new to him.

Is this just a newfound appreciation for his best friend? Is he that grateful that he’s not alone anymore? Is it the fact that someone has wanted to be close to him for the first time in his life? That someone has stuck around to get to know him? Is that what makes the tears burn at his eyes when Reki tells him he’s amazing?

Langa turns every single one of their interactions over and over in his head, looking for answers, looking for anything that points to the change in how he’s feeling. He briefly considers asking Reki about it. Who better to help him understand their relationship than the person in question? Is Reki feeling anything like this? Is this normal?

He shoots that idea down as quickly as it comes to him. He can’t risk doing anything that might push Reki away from him. He’s not sure why, but Langa feels like telling Reki all of this, every stupid feeling and thought that he’s having, might change something.

Langa has been alone, and he’s been friendless, sure. But that was before Reki. Before Reki had stormed into his life, and before Langa had known what it was like to have something like this.

He can’t lose Reki. He can’t.

~~~~~~

There’s S tonight, and Reki has been practically bouncing with excitement all day over it.

Langa agrees to drive on his scooter, of course, and he thinks nothing of it until he pulls up in front of Reki’s house. He doesn’t get the chance to text Reki that he’s out front before he’s bursting out of the house and bounding over to Langa.

Reki climbs onto the scooter behind him, and any shot at breathing that Langa has is decimated. Reki settles against his back, and curls his arms around Langa’s waist, fingers resting on his stomach, and Langa’s hands shake. His brain short circuits for a second. Reki is warm, so warm, and his hands burn through Langa’s shirt.

Reki jostles him suddenly, hands tapping at his chest, “You gonna drive, or...?”

Langa jolts, back ramrod straight, and he squeaks. He keeps embarrassing himself worse and worse every day, and it’s starting to take a toll on his sanity.

“Langa?” Reki leans to the side, trying to get a look at his face, “Are you alright? Lately you’ve seemed-”

“Yep!” Langa cuts him off, and guns it.

Reki shrieks behind him and holds on for dear life. Whatever he yells after that is lost to the wind.

The ride there is torturous, and Langa takes it as fast as he can. He thinks that Reki is still yelling behind him, but he can barely hear it over the way his heart pounds in his ears.

They finally pull in, and the scooter squeals to a stop. Reki scrambles off behind him as fast as possible, dropping to his hands and knees on the ground. He looks up, chest heaving, and he’s pale, “What is wrong with you, man?” He wheezes.

“I didn’t wanna be late!” Langa whirls away, power walking toward the crowd, “ We should go see if the others are here!” He lets out a stream of swears under his breath. Something is wrong with him, he just wishes he knew what it was.

Reki catches up to him in a short moment, cheeks puffed out indignantly. He opens his mouth, and is nearly clotheslined by Miya grabbing onto his sweatshirt to spin around him and come to a stop on his board. Reki is immediately trying to shove Miya, who hasn’t stopped cackling, into the dirt.

There’s a heavy sigh to his right, which sounds distinctly parental in Langa’s opinion, and then Cherry is next to him. From his other side, a large arm loops around his neck and a hand ruffles his hair before letting him go.

“The kids are fighting, honey,” Joe drawls sweetly, dropping his forearm onto Langa’s shoulder to lean around him and address Cherry.

Cherry twitches in annoyance, and when he smiles it’s sharp and dangerous, “Then why don’t you go break them up, darling?” Langa has never heard a pet name sound so threatening.

“Thought you might want a chance to use your mom voice,” Joe prods, shrugging.

Cherry huffs, affronted and clearly ready to retort, but Joe is already moving to pick Miya up around the waist and pull him away from Reki’s windmilling arms. He sets Miya down easily in front of Cherry, who gives Reki such a withering look that he immediately deflates.

Reki’s frown doesn’t stick for long. He catches sight of the screen behind them, and he lights up. “Shadow is up!” He’s on his board in an instant, off to watch the race.

Joe lays an arm around Cherry’s shoulders, and Cherry lets him do it. Langa thinks he sees Cherry’s cheeks color, but he’s too distracted to be sure.

Miya turns to follow Reki, and then he stops, and gives Langa a look. “What’s your problem?” He bites out.

Langa blinks at him, and then looks back in the direction that Reki had skated, “I’m not sure what you mean,” he murmurs.

Miya follows Langa’s gaze to Reki’s retreating back, and he rolls his eyes, “Seriously?” he huffs, “You’re gross, you know that?”

Langa looks down at him again, “What?”

Miya looks from Langa, to Reki, and back, “Him? Really?” He sounds remarkably unimpressed. “Ugh, whatever,” he’s back on his board and skating away before Langa can ask what he means by that.

Langa watches Miya skate to where Reki is standing. He hops off his board, and Langa sees him mouth some words that have Reki flinching. Then he points viciously in Langa’s direction, kicks Reki in the shin, and skates away again. Reki hops on one foot, clutching at his leg, and then catches Langa’s eye. Immediately, Reki is bright red, but he manages a small wave in Langa’s direction.

Langa returns the wave, and feels his own face heat up, and he’s not even sure why.

There’s a snort of laughter from behind him, and Langa jumps. He’d forgotten that Joe and Cherry were still standing next to him. Joe looks like there’s something that he finds particularly funny, and he starts to say something, but Cherry slaps a hand over his mouth.

“Absolutely not,” Cherry seethes.

Joe pulls Cherry’s hand from his face, “Come on, are you kidding me? It’s painful at this point,”

Cherry steps on Joe’s toes none too delicately, and glares at him, “You’re one to talk,” he grits out, and drags Joe away by the wrist.

“Oh and you are?” Joe laughs, but he lets himself be dragged toward the rest of their odd little friend group.

Langa feels like he’s being left out of something important, and that does nothing to ease his frustration. He sighs, and tries to put it out of his mind. The things that they said flicker nonsensically through his mind for the rest of the night.

The night comes to a close quickly, and before Langa knows it, he and Reki are already climbing back onto his scooter to go home.

It isn’t any easier when Reki gets behind him and sets his hands on Langa’s sides. Langa is, thankfully, able to keep his composure long enough to start up the scooter and start driving.

If the ride to S was torture, the ride home is something else entirely. Reki is heavy against his back, and loose limbed with drowsiness. His arms curl slowly around Langa’s waist, and his head settles onto Langa’s back. His cheek presses against Langa’s shoulder blade, just as warm as the rest of him.

The thought of Reki asleep against him steals Langa’s breath for a moment, and he swallows hard. The urge to press a hand over Reki’s where they rest against his stomach is almost unbearable. He clenches his fingers hard around the handles of his scooter and tries to focus entirely on his drive. He doesn’t succeed.

Langa has to practically shake Reki awake when they pull up to his house. His fingers clench in Langa’s shirt and he lets out a sleepy groan of protest before sliding off the seat and standing next to Langa.

Reki hesitates, eyes suddenly sharper and more alert than a moment ago. He bites at his lip nervously. “Langa…”

There’s a moment of absolute silence, broken only by Langa’s sharp inhale when Reki reaches out to him. Reki’s fingers come up to tuck a lock of hair behind his ear, and they linger there. His face is quiet and unreadable. He shakes his head.

“Goodnight Langa,” he murmurs.

Then Reki is gone, and the door to his house is clicking shut softly behind him.

Langa sits outside Reki’s house for longer than he cares to admit, fingers pressed to the side of his head, wondering why he can’t make his heart stop pounding.

~~~~~~

The next day, Reki declines Langa’s invitation to hang out. He says that his mother has him babysitting so she can run some errands that she’s been putting off. He’s going to be busy all day.

There’s a bitter disappointment that sits on the back of Langa’s tongue, but he supposes he can’t fault Reki for helping his mom out. Especially not when Reki promises that he’ll definitely make it up to Langa tomorrow. Langa can’t help the grin that creeps across his face at the string of emoticons in the message.

“What’s got you so smiley, huh?” His mother asks from behind him, and Langa jumps so hard that he nearly throws his phone. He’s really got to work on his situational awareness.

“Nothing,” he mumbles, “Just something dumb that Reki said.”

“Hmmmm,” she drops into the chair across from him,“Am I ever going to meet this mysterious Reki?”

“Huh?” Langa says eloquently.

“Weeeelllll, I just think that I should get to meet the boy that’s letting my son come home with bruises every day,” she waves a hand in front of herself, “and that’s not to mention the sneaking out that you do at all hours of the night.”

Langa flushes, guilty at being caught. He scratches at the back of his neck self-consciously, “Um- I- Sorry we just-”

“Fine, fine, keep your secrets,” her light smile lets him know she’s teasing, “I’m just happy you’ve made friends. You seem happy. Especially when you mention Reki.”

Langa looks away, catches sight of a photo of his father, and looks back at his mother’s smiling face. He considers telling her everything. Considers asking her why Reki makes him feel like all the air has been sucked out of a room, and if he’s supposed to feel like this.

“I am happy,” Langa responds simply. He doesn’t want to burden her with sorting out his feelings. His shoulders relax when his mom reaches over to ruffle his hair.

“Why don’t we have some breakfast?”

“That sounds great. Thanks mom.”

~~~~~~

Langa doesn’t realize how unused to being alone he is until he’s faced with a whole day without Reki at his side. He is so horrifically bored.

He’s tried watching trick videos, but every one he watches just gets saved to show to Reki when he sees him again.

He tries going to the skatepark, but he misses Reki’s commentary on his attempts at tricks, and he misses watching Reki skate.

He goes to get lunch at a different spot than normal. Sitting in a booth alone makes him feel exposed and embarrassed, and he’s getting looks from a girl across the restaurant, and he just keeps thinking that Reki would really like what he ordered so he’s going to have to bring him back here next time.

Eventually, he skates listlessly back to his house, and drops into his bed facedown. He groans into his pillow, and wonders how rude it would be to go to Reki’s house and keep him company while he babysits.

Langa rolls over and stares at the ceiling. He just misses Reki. He presses his hands to his eyes. This can’t be healthy. Everything would just be better with Reki around. No matter what they did, it would be fun.

Ah, and there it is again, the thundering of his heart when he thinks about the way that Reki laughs. He presses a hand to his chest. This is getting ridiculous. He’s frustrated and on edge, and judging by the way his friends are acting, there’s just something that he’s not getting. He considers asking one of them, and runs through the list of their potential responses. They’re all supremely unhelpful.

He can’t keep this up.

He needs to talk to Reki.

Thinking about it causes a huge spike of anxiety in his chest, but Langa tries to reason with himself. Reki is his very best friend. He’s seen all of Langa’s flaws, and he hasn’t abandoned him. There was even that one time that Langa had skated into him so hard that they’d thought Reki’s foot was broken. And Reki hadn’t stopped talking to him then. So there’s no way he’d stop being Langa’s friend over something like this. And Reki has always told him that Langa could come to him if he needs something.

And Langa really needs his help right now.

Langa clenches his fingers in his shirt, takes a deep breath, and nods.

Right, he can do this.

He’s going to do this.

Tomorrow.

~~~~~~

Tomorrow is here with a suddenness that belies how much the day before had dragged.

Langa is jittery from the moment he wakes up and remembers his decision to talk to Reki about what’s been on his mind. He drags his hands through his hair, and stumbles his way through a shower and the rest of his morning routine.

By the time he’s done, there’s a text from Reki waiting on his phone. Reki wants Langa to meet him at one of their more unusual skating spots. It’s out of the way and they’ve never seen anyone else there, and Langa is so preoccupied with how nervous he is that he doesn’t even register that it’s a strange decision on Reki’s part to ask him to meet there. He sets out right away.

Langa rolls up a little while later to find Reki pacing back and forth in a circle and mumbling to himself exaggeratedly. Langa takes a deep breath and forces himself to unclench his jaw. He shoves his hands in his pockets to hide the way that they tremble.

Reki startles when Langa greets him. He whips around, eyes wide, and blows out a harsh breath. “Langa!” He squeaks.

There’s a long stretch of awkward silence.

Well, best to get it out of the way. Langa tries desperately to find the words for what he needs to say, and his mind is traitorously blank.

They both start a sentence at the same time.

“Sorry!” Langa yelps, “You go first!”

Reki hops from foot to foot for a second, looking very much like he’s about to be violently ill. He turns and crouches, digging in his bag fiercely. He stands up, and Langa sees him take a huge breath before he turns back around. He’s holding a small box that’s tied with blue ribbon.

“I bet you’re wondering why I called you here today,” he says, and then he tugs his headband over his eyes, “Damnit. No- sorry- that’s not funny.”

Langa is just confused. For a blissful moment, his own nervousness gets shoved to the back burner. He shakes his head, “Reki, what-”

Reki shoves his headband back up into his hair, “Alright! Justgottadothisjustsayitc’monc’monc’mon,” he mumbles to himself, and then he whips his head back up to look Langa in the eye, and his face goes cherry red.

Langa just blinks.

“Langa!” Reki exclaims, and shoves the box in his hands at Langa’s stomach. His hands come up to catch it instinctively, “I really like you! Please go out with me!”

Langa’s breath hitches. Reki- he just— he wants-

Reki wants to date him? Reki is confessing to him?

Langa stares at Reki, and now it’s really like seeing him for the first time. He sees everything. Every moment that Reki has curled up against him, every time he’s laughed, every smile that has been just for Langa, every time Reki has pulled him to his feet after a fall. And-

Oh.

Oh.

Butterflies burst into Langa’s stomach.

Everything goes a little sideways, then. It all makes sense. The heat beneath his skin, the heartbeat roaring in his ears, Reki being the first person he wants to run to when something happens. The incredible urge to touch and feel and be close.

So this is what was missing all those times.

This is what it’s like to love someone.

He loves Reki.

Langa’s knees go a little weak at the realization.

“Langa?” Reki asks carefully, “I know you’ve probably gotten all sorts of really romantic confessions, and this is probably really lame, but I made those chocolates yesterday, and I had no idea how so I had my mom teach me because I know you like them, and I thought maybe... Oh god...” he trails off, and slaps his hands to his flushed face.

Langa looks down at the box in his hands, and that hits him then too. Reki had made those for him. Langa has received homemade chocolates before, of course. But this is different. Reki made these. Langa knows that Reki can’t cook worth a damn. And he knows that Reki knows that Langa likes chocolate specifically. Reki went out of his way to learn how to make these for Langa. So he could bring them here to confess to him. Langa thinks it’s probably the most romantic thing that’s ever happened to him.

“Oh my god,” Langa breathes.

Reki drags his fingers down his cheeks miserably. He’s the cutest thing in the entire universe.

Langa carefully sets the box down on his board, the board that Reki had made for him (that realization is a long time coming too but it only fuels the itch in Langa’s fingertips), and looks Reki in the face.

“Reki,” he whispers, and Reki finally drops his hands from his face, “Reki!” Langa is so excited, he can’t contain the giggle that slips out.

“Reki I really want to kiss you,” Langa murmurs, drawing closer. And god does he ever. He’s never felt a stronger urge to do anything in his life.

Reki blinks at him dumbly for a second. He goes even redder, if that’s at all possible. He nods slowly. “Yeah,” his voice is hoarse and nervous, but he smiles.

Langa’s hands move of their own accord, coming up to cradle Reki’s face gently, like he’s the most precious thing in the world. He leans in, touching their foreheads together, and feels Reki’s hands move to clutch at his back. That only spurs him on, and he presses in to finally finally kiss his best friend.

Kissing Reki sets everything into place. It’s like something clicks, some switch is flipped within him, and he knows that this is where everything has been leading. This is what he’s been wanting. Reki’s hands pulling him closer so that they’re pressed chest to chest, Reki’s hair slipping between his fingers, Reki’s mouth sliding against his own. He can feel Reki smile against him, and nothing has ever made his heart pound harder.

Langa pulls away when the giddiness gets to be too much, and he buries his face in Reki’s neck, finally holding him the way he wants to. “I thought I was going crazy,” he gasps.

“What do you mean?” Reki asks, drawing back just enough so that he can see Langa’s face.

“Yesterday I decided that I needed to talk to you,” Langa admits, “Because my heart wouldn’t stop pounding every time you laughed. And I didn’t know why.”

“Seriously?” Reki hugs him tighter, and he laughs, “That’s why you were so nervous when you got here?”

“Miya told me I was gross the other day, and I had no idea what he meant. It was driving me crazy.” Langa shakes his head, and presses their foreheads together again.

Reki freezes, “You were going to talk to me because of Miya?”

Langa’s eyebrows furrow, and he frowns, “I mean, it wasn’t the whole reason, but it was kinda bugging me. It might’ve been the last straw... Reki, what...?”

“The other day at S, Miya told me that you were ‘making cow eyes at me’, and that I was obvious, and that I needed to do something about it before he snapped my board in half.” Reki chews at his lip.

“Alright? I don’t see what the problem is?” Langa cocks his head.

“Do we owe this to Miya? If he finds out that he’s the one that pushed us to talk to each other, we’re never going to live it down.” Reki looks as though he’s seen a ghost.

Miya’s face flashes through Langa’s mind, catlike and smug and endlessly taunting. He shudders, “Miya can never know,” Langa agrees somberly.

“We’ll come up with something,” Reki promises.

“We will,” Langa nods.

Reki leans in, murmuring against Langa’s lips, “Not right now.”

Langa sighs, lovesick and stupid and so incredibly happy.

“Definitely not right now.”