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Practice Makes Perfect

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“Bro, you said you’d be done over an hour ago.”

“Have some patience! I’m nearly finished!”

Mondo groaned dramatically from where he was sat on his bed, watching Taka shift through a seemingly endless pile of notes from their classes that week. It had become a pattern between them since they became ‘bros’ all those months ago; since Taka was so busy on weekdays, what with all his duties as head prefect, student council leader and running any clubs he supervised, Mondo had started inviting him to his dorm every Friday after class. He would spend a little time organizing his stuff, then they would spend the night talking or watching TV or just enjoying each other’s company, until they fell asleep top-and-tailed in Mondo’s bed. It was probably the favorite part of his week. Which was super embarrassing, but it was the truth. He looked forward to their Friday nights more than he did the weekend, if he was being honest.

Which is why Mondo was getting so annoyed that Taka just had to spend three times as long on his notes that day.

“Look, do ya want me to help or somethin’?” He asked as Taka reached into his schoolbag, pulling out yet more loose sheets of paper. “Might speed things along faster?”

“You wouldn’t be much help,” Taka muttered, not even looking up from where he was knelt at the foot of the bed. “I have a system. By the time I’d explained it, I would have been able to finish three times over.”

“Fine.” Mondo shifted, which made one of Taka’s files jolt where it rested on the mattress. He stilled it with one hand, before shooting him a look that fell somewhere between irritated and fond.

“I’m sorry I’m boring you. I’ll move as fast as I can, I promise.”

“I’m not bored, Taka. I like ya company,” Mondo nudged him with his foot, which made him bat it away with a disgusted grunt that made him laugh. “It’s just never taken ya this long before. Fuck, I thought you were like a super nerd at this shit! The hell happened to this ‘system’ ya so smug about?”

Taka huffed, buzzing his lips as his brow furrowed. “If you must know, I was forced to supervise an unexpected detention in my free period. I didn’t get a chance to spend that time how I usually would. I like getting a head start so we can maximize our ‘hanging out’ time!”

Mondo blushed, and forced a chuckle to hide his embarrassment at Taka’s last statement. He still wasn’t used to being friends with someone who was so open with their affection, much less when that someone was a guy. Not that Mondo didn’t like it or whatever. In fact, it was quite the opposite. He was just… adjusting to the constant stream of praise and warmth. He still hadn’t really figured out how he should respond to it.

“Detention?” Was the part Mondo decided to react to instead. “What did the kid do?”

Somehow, Taka’s brow furrowed even further. “It was Sayaka and Leon again,” he muttered, shutting his math folder with more force than necessary. “I was only fulfilling my responsibilities as head prefect! I’ve warned them many times about PDA on school property! If anything, this was long overdue!”

Mondo barked a laugh, folding his arms behind his head. “Aw, c’mon, y’know what Kuwata’s like!”

“I do.” Taka said flatly. “Hence the detention.”

“He probably just can’t believe his luck,” Mondo chuckled, tilting his head back until it faced the ceiling. “Remember when they kissed for the first time? He wouldn’t shut his mouth about it for days!”

“Inappropriate…” Taka mumbled. He straightened a pack of flashcards. “Not welcome in a… school environment.”

“Maybe he can’t help himself. Like how guys are sometimes with chicks. You get it, right?”

“No.” He said firmly. “I don’t get it.”

For a long while, Mondo just paused, trying to catch Taka’s eye. When he didn’t stop shuffling through his notes, he cleared his throat. “Hey, uh… you haven’t ever…?”

Taka blinked a few times before getting his meaning. “I haven’t. Have you ever?”

Course I fuckin’–!”

Mondo cut himself off, digging his teeth into his lip. For fuck’s sake, there was no reason for him to get defensive. It wasn’t like he was talking to Leon or one of the guys from the Diamonds. This was Taka. He wouldn’t judge him. Besides, he’d just admitted himself that he’d never done it and… well, he might not have seemed too bothered by that, but… maybe he was playing it cool?

Mondo sighed, picking some imaginary lint off his sheets. “I… Yeah, I have. But it was just once. A long time ago.”

“Was she nice?”

He looked up, surprised. “Huh?”

“The girl who you kissed.” Taka explained, smiling, just as he closed one folder and moved on to the next. “Was she nice?”

“I dunno, man, I barely knew her. I was like fourteen. We were just playin’ a dumb game at some party.”

“A game?”

“Yeah.” Mondo shifted so he was leaning back against his headboard. “Y’know, spin the bottle. Like kids do.”

“I see.” Taka was suddenly engrossed in his notes, even more so than before. His hands moved quickly, automatically, while Mondo’s curious eyes tracked their movement as he filed pages and pages away safely.

Then he seemed to slow. Mondo waited. “You okay, bro? You missin’ a class or what?”

“I’m…” Taka wet his lips briefly. “No, no I’m not.” His fingers traced words on the paper. “What was it like?”

What was it–?

Oh.

Oh?

Mondo studied Taka for a moment, taking in his flushed cheeks, slightly shaking hands. He was curious? Kiyotaka Ishimaru, The Ultimate Moral Compass, who yelled at Leon and Sayaka for so much as holding hands during classes, was curious about kissing?

Mondo’s lips quirked up, unbidden, and he chastised himself for it. Goddammit, he couldn’t laugh at him! As if Taka wasn’t clearly ashamed enough already. It was totally normal to wonder about stuff like that! He was as much of a teenager as any of them were; why should he be embarrassed about wanting to experiment just because of his stupid title? It didn’t mean a thing anyways, at least not to anyone outside the school! And what the heck was so ‘immoral’ about kissing!?

“It was nothing special,” Mondo replied awkwardly, rubbing the back of his neck. “She’d had a couple of drinks. Think she chipped my tooth a little.”

“Right.” Taka nodded stiffly, still not looking him in the eye. His face had somehow blushed darker. Was that not the answer he was looking for?

Mondo shifted so the mattress creaked beneath him. “Taka, you know it’s cool to be curious about this kinda stuff?”

“I’m not curious!” He barked, head snapping up as he slammed his folder shut. When his eyes finally met Mondo’s, they were full of fire, before he blinked and it was smothered once more. “Sorry. I’m not curious, I’m…” His jaw clenched. “I-I’m missing something.”

Missing? What, because he’d never kissed a girl? Mondo scoffed. “You ain’t missin’ anything, bro. You’re great the way you are. You don’t need a stupid kiss to feel complete, do ya?”

“I know that. And I never thought I did. But I don’t get what everybody else gets so worked up about.” Taka looked intensely troubled, chewing his lip until it went white. “You know that I don’t always completely understand social convention, and a lot of people lack the patience that I need to have it fully explained and so I never really– I never thought to–”

“Taka, what the hell are ya talkin’ about?”

“Kisses, Mondo!” He snapped. “I don’t understand kisses! It looks… weird! And unhygienic, and highly inappropriate, and if it makes me childish or prudish to think that way then I’m sorry, but I can’t see it from any other perspective!”

At some point, Taka had sprung to his feet during that impromptu rant, and he stood breathing heavily with both hands on his hips. Mondo stared up at him, before sitting a little more upright, suddenly bothered by their difference in height.

“You don’t know why people kiss?” He summarized bluntly. Taka made a quiet groan of embarrassment, before nodding. Mondo exhaled. His face suddenly felt hot. “I mean, y’know, it ain’t rocket science. It… it feels good, doesn’t it? It’s nice bein’ close with someone. Gives ya butterflies and shit. The good kind. That’s why you only ever wanna kiss girls you like. You never wanted to kiss nobody?”

“I haven’t.” Taka shook his head. “I can’t even imagine wanting to. And… even if I could, then I wouldn’t know where to start the process. I don’t know what routine I’d have to go through in order to be in a position to ask for a kiss, nor what to expect when it’s actually happening…” He trailed off, before sitting on the edge of the bed. “I don’t know how.”

Something unspoken hung in the air between them. Mondo swallowed. “I don’t think it should be complicated, man, I…” He clenched his jaw. “I ain’t got the most experience either, I guess, but you probably figure that shit out in the moment.”

“And what if you don’t?” Taka shifted on the bed so he was turned towards him. “What if you freeze up instead? Or panic and do something stupid? That’s very possible, Mondo!”

“Hey–!”

“Not for you! I mean in general!” He huffed when Mondo pouted. “You don’t have to sulk. Sorry if I hurt your pride.”

“Ya didn’t hurt shit!” Mondo snapped, blushing pink. “Shut up!”

“Don’t be so defensive!”

“I’m not!” He crossed his arms (defensively) and shot a scowl in Taka’s direction that he responded to with one of his own. “You’re infecting me with ya nervous kissing shit! Now ya got me all worried as well!”

“Well, it’s not like I meant to!” Taka’s volume matched his now. “I assumed that as someone with experience, you would be able to offer some advice!”

“I don’t have any advice! I’ve already told ya everythin’ I know! And it’s not like I’m brimming with fuckin’ knowledge over here because I kissed a girl once, four years ago!”

“It’s more than having never kissed anybody, Mondo! At least you seem to have an understanding of the appeal! At least you know how to want! Any desire I’ve ever had on the subject has been purely educational! I just want to learn!”

“Fine!” Mondo barked, throwing his hands in the air in defeat. “I’ll help ya learn, okay!? I’ll show ya! Ya happy now!?”

Taka opened his mouth to retort, and fell silent.

Mondo felt himself color as the meaning behind his offer caught up with him, his eyes widening as they stared into Taka’s own. His face, flushed from their previous argument, had turned pale. Then he pressed his lips together tightly. “Um… when you say show me…?”

Fuck. Mondo growled, shaking his head and turning away from Taka’s searching eyes. “N-Nothin’! Forget I said anything!”

“No,” Taka’s voice was firm as he moved further onto the bed, kneeling on the mattress opposite him. “I want you to explain it.”

Mondo cursed again, drawing his knees closer to his chest and scratching the back of his neck. “I–” His voice cracked. He coughed, letting his words all come out in a rush. “I-I just figured that if ya really didn’t get the hype with– with kissing or whatever, that if someone showed ya what it felt like, maybe ya wouldn’t be confused no more, and it would get easier for ya to imagine what it would be like wantin’ to… do that with someone ya like! Y’know, instead of uh. Me.”

Taka stared at him with an unreadable expression, which made Mondo blush and look down at his lap, about to start babbling apologies and excuses he could pluck out of thin air for crossing a line like that.

“Okay.”

Huh?

“Huh?” Mondo looked up again, to find that Taka was smiling, just barely, the apples of his cheeks dusted red. It wasn’t from embarrassment, though… more like… anticipation?

“If you think that would help me understand the appeal, then I’m willing to try,” Taka said evenly. “And it would certainly make me more at ease if my first kiss was you, bro. You are my closest friend, after all. I trust you implicitly.”

Yeah, but he was also a guy. And a friend. Guy friends didn’t tend to go around kissing their guy friends, even if it was for uh… ‘business’ instead of pleasure, Mondo figured.

But… if Taka was cool with it then…

Mondo didn’t exactly hate the idea.

“Alright,” he nodded slowly. “Yeah, alright then.”

“So how do we start?” Taka was asking as Mondo thought. He blinked, brought back in the room, and sat up straighter on the bed, cross-legged across from him.

“R-Right now?”

Taka looked confused. “Does it need some kind of preparation?”

“I don’t think so.” Mondo cleared his throat as Taka nodded, understanding. Were they really about to do this? This should be a bigger deal than it felt like, right? Why was Mondo so calm about this? “Uh… how about you close your eyes first?”

Taka obliged, now sat bolt upright, back ramrod straight and eyes squeezed shut. His lips were downturned as he scowled. It took everything in Mondo not to chuckle at his expression… he probably would have if his heart wasn’t currently trying to beat its way through his chest.

He ignored that as best he could as he leaned forward and kissed him.

It was quick. And pretty one-sided. If anything, Taka had only grown stiffer at the press of his lips, and when Mondo broke the kiss, he got stiffer still. “What’s up?” Mondo blinked, panicked. “Shit, was that not–?”

“Oh!” Taka seemed broken out of some reverie. “Sorry! Did I mess it up?”

“N-Naw, ya didn’t!” Mondo laughed quietly, averting his eyes. “You’re… fuckin’ tense, dude.”

“I told you I didn’t know how this went,” Taka bit out. He folded his arms over his chest, and Mondo reached out to loosen them again, guiding them back to his sides by the wrists.

“Well, when, uh– when ya kissin’ someone ya like, you might wanna actually kiss ‘em back a little, y’know?” Mondo decided not to think too hard about what he was asking here. It was probably best that he didn’t.

“Understood.” Taka nodded like a soldier receiving his orders, though his cheeks were still pink. “Then I will make note of that for whenever the opportunity presents itself. Thank you, bro!”

“Sure. No problem.” Yeah, that’s right. Bros. That’s what they were. That was why this didn’t feel weird. It didn’t feel weird at all.

…It didn’t feel weird at all.

Even when Taka nodded once more, and moved to get up off the bed, before hesitating and looking to Mondo with a question in his eyes. He knew what it would be before he’d voiced it.

“Could we try that again? Just once more? I think I’ve worked out what you meant by kiss back now!” His lips stretched into a smile, and Mondo was nodding his head before he could even think, and Taka closed his eyes like he had done before.

This time when Mondo kissed him, he leaned into it.

His mouth was hard. Not soft, like he had assumed another’s mouth on his would be. Had that girl’s mouth been hard? Mondo didn’t remember.

Taka tried his best to relax as he angled his head slightly jerkily to the left, his movements irregular and unpracticed as he pursed his lips against Mondo’s. He exhaled through his nose. It tickled Mondo’s cheek, and that was uh. Definitely something.

It was Taka who broke the kiss this time, and before Mondo could ask why, he was panting in shallow breaths, chuckling quietly. “Sorry,” he murmured, voice barely a whisper. “I forgot that I needed to breathe.”

Mondo could only nod, breathless himself, and tried his best to laugh with him. Even though nothing felt funny about this. This was nothing like his first and only previous kiss. This wasn't a game. This was…

“Was that an improvement, bro?” Taka was asking, his voice as bright and sunny as usual, and Mondo could only watch as his lips stretched into that familiar smile until Taka was beaming with pride, waiting excitedly for Mondo’s affirmative like an eager puppy. His eyes were still half-lidded, cheeks warm as his breath came out in pants. He looked… good like that.

It was around that time that Mondo wanted to kiss him again.

Really fucking badly.

His head felt as though it was smothered with cotton, everything around him suddenly hazy and dreamlike as he took in Taka’s keen expression, his hands still fisted on his knees. Mondo wanted them in his hair. He wanted to– wanted to feel him everywhere. Wanted the weight of his body against his, feel his heart as it started thudding in his chest when Mondo kissed him, maybe good enough it dragged some sweet noises out of that mouth of his. Taka never gave less than one hundred and ten percent; Mondo would bet that he’d be enthusiastic in the moment too. He wanted to see that. He needed to. Mondo needed to taste Taka more badly than he’d ever needed a thing.

Where the fuck had that come from!?

Taka’s brow furrowed, still waiting for a response, while Mondo was utterly lost in those eyes of his. Fuck. Hopefully he hadn’t noticed how his gaze kept flicking to his lips.

“S’better,” he managed to choke out. “Yeah, much better. Good job.”

Taka grinned, brimming with pride. It was the same smile he wore after completing a particularly difficult piece of homework. It said ‘mission accomplished’. He went to move off the bed–

“Wait!” Mondo’s volume climbed and he flushed, cursing under his breath. The exclamation made Taka jump. He stilled.

Mondo bit the inside of his cheek, trying to ignore the roiling guilt in his stomach. “I could… show ya somethin’ else?”

Taka tilted his head in confusion. “Another kiss?”

Yes. Please.

Mondo’s face felt absurdly hot, and he angled it away from Taka’s searching eyes, gripping his own bicep until his nails dug into overheated skin. “Yeah. Somethin’ like that.”

For whatever reason, Taka simply shrugged, and returned to the same position he’d been sat before, closing his eyes tightly. Damn, he was being… surprisingly obedient. He really trusted him, huh?

Mondo was evil.

But Taka did say he wanted Mondo to do this, right? And this was technically a kiss. If he wanted to be a hands-on learner – again, please – then Mondo would have to oblige. It was the least he could do as his friend and his bro. And if he didn’t exactly hate the process himself, then… well, that didn’t matter! This was all about Taka! This was totally educational!

Evil.

“A-Alright,” Mondo found himself trembling as he brought a hand up to grip Taka’s shoulder. His brows quirked in surprise, since he couldn’t see the movement coming, but he said nothing. “This might sound a little weird, okay, but I’m gonna need ya to… trust me. Okay?”

“Of course I trust you, bro,” Taka’s voice was steady. Unflinching.

Stone-cold, red-blooded evil!

Mondo just cleared his throat. “Okay, so, um… when I tap ya,” he demonstrated by tapping his finger where it rested on Taka’s shoulder, “can you try and open your mouth?”

Taka frowned, clearly confused, and Mondo shook his head, before remembering he couldn’t see it and speaking instead. “Trust me. It might feel weird but… trust me.”

There was a heavy pause in which Mondo held his breath, every inch of him screaming at himself that he was a horrible friend, to betray Taka, to get such gross ideas at a time like this, when he thought this was a purely innocent, instructive process.

Then Taka agreed with a nod, and all those thoughts flew out the window the second Mondo kissed him again.

It was unfairly good. Taka was learning to soften and kiss gently, making slow, deliberate movements with his head instead of sitting static like a dead fish. His lips were too dry and chapped, his breathing unsteady, but it was Taka, and Mondo was kissing him, and he smelled so good right now, Jesus Christ… It was a bitter torture, and Mondo was lapping up every last drop.

With more than a little hesitation, he tapped Taka’s arm.

He went still, just for a moment, enough for Mondo to open his eyes to scan his face for any discomfort, and that had been a fucking mistake, because he was greeted with the sight of Taka’s eyes tightly closed, brows bunched together as he flushed with concentration, as if he was focusing hard on a particularly annoying math problem, or considering how best to discipline one of his peers. It was adorable. And way too hot for the expression it was.

Whatever. Mondo could dissect that turn-on later. For now, Taka was opening his mouth against his, with some difficulty given how close he was pressed to him, and Mondo took the opportunity to trap his bottom lip between his. He kissed it, sucking it lightly, before repeating the gentle action on his top lip as well. Taka was more than a little taken back by this, if the sound in his throat was any indication, but instead of leaning away from the touch he–

He reached out with shaking hands, bracing himself on Mondo’s forearms like an anchor.

Mondo could have cried with joy.

Instead, he just continued his slow ministrations. He didn’t move any faster, not wanting to spook the poor guy, or (he selfishly thought) to make him let go. Taka tried to copy Mondo’s movements, catching his lips between his own. Mondo had to be dreaming. He had to be. It took everything he had not to sigh appreciatively when Taka’s teeth grazed his lip.

Unfortunately, the action made him clamp his own teeth on Taka’s mouth, which made him yelp, and Mondo broke the kiss.

“Shit!” He gasped as Taka’s hands left his wrists, jerking away from Mondo as if he’d been slapped. Damn, he sure looked a sight. His lips were wet and bruised from kissing, eyes wide as his chest heaved, bringing his fingers to his bottom lip were Mondo had… Fuck, he hoped he hadn’t drawn blood. It was okay if it was just a mark. If Taka wasn’t hurt badly then maybe… if he did that gently next time? Then he could decorate that mouth with more little marks like that, maybe his neck and shoulders too…

God fucking dammit, Mondo had bitten someone!

“A-Are you okay, bro? Fuck, did I hurt ya!?” He rushed to ask as Taka probed the sensitive skin inside his mouth.

“It’s fine!” Taka was practically shouting as well, running his tongue along his lip in a smooth action that did not force Mondo to suppress a shiver. Definitely not. “It’s alright! I-It’s my fault, really! I didn’t mean to, um…” Somehow he flushed darker. “To surprise you! Like that! I’m sorry.”

“Don’t apologize to me, ya fuckin’ idiot! I’m the one who–!” Mondo huffed, hiding his face in his hands with a growl of frustration. It was too hot in this stupid dorm! He’d have to prop open his door to cool it down. Once Taka had left, obviously. Which might be sooner rather than later now he’d just–

“Well, it’s– all a part of the learning curve,” Taka was saying suddenly. His voice was different now. It was quieter. Less matter-of-fact. “It’s important to make mistakes so that you can learn from them. Right?”

Mondo blinked. What was he…? “Uh. Right.”

Taka nodded, as if trying to convince himself of it more than Mondo. He fisted and unfisted his hands in the fabric of his pants, locking eyes with him as he watched. For a moment, they simply stared. The air around them felt thick. That was probably why Mondo was struggling to breathe, wasn’t it?

Taka seemed to consider him for a long while, eyes tracing along the pout of his mouth with idle curiosity, making him want to squirm under the scrutiny. His gaze was almost predatory.

And apparently, Mondo liked that a lot more than he really should.

Taka’s eyes dipped down to his chest, in a movement so quick he almost thought he’d imagined it, and then Taka was speaking before he had a chance to dwell on that fact. “Well then,” he began, voice surprisingly steady. “Should we continue with your… demonstration? If you don’t mind, of course. I believe I’m ready to move on.”

Mondo’s brow furrowed, sitting a little straighter on the bed. “Move on?”

“Yes.” He nodded, avoiding his eyes. “W-When I said earlier that I was not curious, that was a lie. I have been… wondering… for a short while now.” Taka flushed once more, scowling at nothing in particular. “Not that I think about it often, or that I’m so obsessed with the idea it keeps me up at night! I think it might– might be– nice! Is all!”

Mondo would give him anything. Whatever Taka wanted to know, to learn, he was a willing participant in all of it. Anything Taka wanted. He was his.

The word ground his musings to a halt. His?

Was that what Mondo wanted? To be his? To be at Taka’s mercy, his disposal, caring for him and adoring him and satisfying his every want and craving like some kinda infatuated cheerleader!? That sounded–!

That sounded amazing.

“What is it?” Mondo asked quietly.

Taka bit his lip – just like he’d done himself earlier, fuck – and spoke in his usual clipped tone despite him shifting uncomfortably. “I thought perhaps I might be able to understand the desire for this if I were to experience it myself. From an outsider’s perspective, it only looks… disgusting. And horribly unsanitary, especially when couples in this school insist upon partaking in it in exceedingly public locations around the campus–!”

“Taka,” his name cut him off. “Are you… talkin’ about frenching?”

He hesitated, then nodded firmly. “If you mean French kissing, then yes, I am.”

Mondo didn’t wait for Taka to close his eyes this time. This time, he only brought a shaking hand up to his jaw, holding his head in place gently, and watching with satisfaction as the first press of his lips made Taka’s eyes slip closed. Mondo wasted no time in deepening the kiss, sucking on the pout of that bottom lip like he’d done before, kissing it lightly as if in apology for his earlier indiscretion.

Taka was trembling as his hands found Mondo’s shoulders, fingers digging in before wrapping his arms around him in a makeshift hug. What Mondo really wanted was to press their torsos together, to feel any sounds Taka might try to contain rumble in his chest and betray him. But he would have to break their kiss for that, and it was definitely not a sacrifice he was prepared to make.

Then he felt the brush of a tongue against his lip, and Mondo swore for a moment he saw stars.

He didn’t, obviously, but he felt all of it, and he let his mouth fall open in a gasp, giving Taka ample opportunity to deepen the kiss even further.

Ever the little go-getter, Taka took that opportunity, and holy fuck, the press of his tongue against Mondo’s was better than anything he’d ever felt. Well, objectively, it was a tongue. It was kinda rough and inexperienced in its movements, and it didn’t taste like candy or cherries like how people liked to describe their first kisses. It tasted of nothing in particular. But it was warm. And it was Taka’s. And Taka was sliding his tongue into his mouth, and Mondo was about to lose every bit of sanity he had left and lay down his life for this boy right here, right now.

One of them groaned, it wasn’t clear which, but it was definitely Mondo who whined in response, and Taka who let out a soft curse when they lowered themselves against the mattress so they lay on their sides face-to-face, two searching hands tightening against Mondo’s shirt, and then they were underneath it, and Taka’s touch was like fucking fire against his bare skin, and it was all Mondo could do but make a muffled sound into Taka’s mouth, as their movements became sloppier, more eager, desperate for any kind of closeness despite the fact they couldn’t get closer if they tried.

“God,” Taka cursed again softly, stifled by Mondo’s lips. “Mondo…”

“Fuck, you’re good,” Mondo could barely breathe, fisting a hand in Taka’s hair gently to guide their mouths back together, even as he kept talking. “You’re so fuckin’ good, man, you’re… so good at this, fuck…”

The praise, for whatever reason, spurred Taka on, and one hand moved from Mondo’s shirt to the back of his neck, toying with his hair too while his other hand kneaded his chest shamelessly. He was copying Mondo’s actions, some of them anyways, but a lot of this was his own instincts and desires. This was all Taka. And Mondo had it all to himself.

Lucky him.

His teeth found Taka’s lip again, deliberately this time, which made him moan, before pulling back and burying his face in Mondo’s neck, sucking a kiss below his ear that made his back arch off the mattress, tore something between a groan and a pant from his throat, his lips open as his eyes screwed tightly shut. “Holy shit. Holy fucking shit, Taka–!”

All at once, Taka stopped.

Mondo froze as he went rigid, pulling back from where his face was in his neck to look at Mondo properly. His eyes were wide.

Then he was taking his hands off him, yanking his shirt back down to cover his chest, and sitting up on the edge of the bed, facing pointedly away from Mondo.

“Taka?” He said his name once more, even as his voice was breathless and thick with arousal. “What is it? What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.” Taka sounded breathless too. But something had shifted. There was a hollowness to him now. Something bitter and sick that hadn’t been there a few short moments ago.

“Fuck, did I go too far? What did I do? I’m sorry–”

“You haven’t done anything, Mondo.” His shoulders shook. “You’ve… been nothing but good to me. I should be the one to apologize.”

Mondo wished he could see his face. “For what? Bro, there’s nothing wrong, I’m totally fine. Ya didn’t… I mean…”

Taka took a few deep, slow breaths, and then he was standing, gathering up his notes and folders and picking up his boots on shaky legs, marching towards the door with his eyes fixed firmly on the carpet. One look at his face proved what Mondo had suspected. He was crying frustrated tears, clenching his mouth shut to contain his sobs.

“Taka, hold on a sec!” Mondo stood from the bed, moving to grab his arm, but Taka held his free hand out to stop him before he could.

Mondo froze, arms falling uselessly by his side. Taka exhaled sharply. Fresh tears rolled off his chin, dampening the collar on his uniform and turning its pristine white to pale gray.

“Thank you for your kindness, Mondo,” he said in a hushed tone. “It’s appreciated.”

“Bro–”

“I’m sorry. I have to leave now.”

Mondo clenched his jaw tightly, his anger threatening to flare up, but he swallowed against it stubbornly and nodded, jerking his head towards the door.

Taka turned on his heel and opened it, bowing slightly in Mondo’s direction. “I can only apologize once more, Owada. Enjoy the rest of your evening.”

He shut the door behind him, and Mondo hissed out a curse, kicking his bedframe with a shout before burying his face in his hands, flopping back onto the mattress.

Oh, he knew Taka did not just call him 'Owada' less than a minute after stuffing his tongue down his throat!

Without a second thought, Mondo threw himself off the bed and yanked open the door, looking the corridor outside up and down for signs of Taka. Kyoko and Makoto were stood outside the latter’s dorm, whispering amongst themselves, and Makoto’s eyes widened when he saw Mondo panting in the doorway.

“Taka?” was all he asked.

Kyoko nodded, jerking a thumb towards Taka’s dorm and grabbing Makoto’s arm when he nodded in thanks, dragging him towards the cafeteria. She probably thought to give them some privacy.

And when Mondo found Taka’s door was locked, he was glad that she did.

“Kiyotaka!” He pounded his fist against the heavy wood, barking his name though he knew he couldn’t hear him through the soundproofing. “Come on, man, let me the fuck in!” He kicked the door a few times for good measure, slamming both hands against it now. “You know I can stay out here all night, don’t ya!? I got no plans! I’ll keep the whole fuckin’ school up if that’s what it takes!”

Right before he was about to knock again, the door opened just a crack. It was dark inside, only illuminated by the lamp on Taka’s desk.

“I said I had to leave.” Taka’s voice was quiet.

Mondo growled. “Yeah? Well, it sucks, but ya can’t. I know this is all new to ya, buddy, but ya can’t just do that to someone and then walk out on ‘em!”

“Why not?”

“Because I said so!” He snapped, opening the door with a final shove and slamming it behind him.

Taka stood in the center of his room, having taken a few steps back when Mondo barged his way in. He’d dumped his notes on the floor. His face was wet.

“And because,” Mondo continued, venom in his voice, “it’s not fair.”

“What more do you want?” Taka scowled up at him, still cutting an intimidating figure even in his socks and with his nose bright red from crying. “I stopped it. I apologized, I backed off and gave you space! Why did you follow me!?”

“Why did you start sayin’ sorry like you’d thrown me a fuckin’ punch!?” The room felt smaller as Mondo marched forward, folding his arms and glaring down until he and Taka were toe-to-toe with their eyes locked in competition.

Taka puffed his chest out in defiance, even as he failed to say anything in response. Even as his face flushed with shame and he was clearly desperate to look anywhere but Mondo’s eyes. His own were bloodshot and swimming. Mondo wanted to kiss the spot between them. Instead he scowled deeper. “See, this is why I said this shit wasn’t fair, Taka! You owe me goddamn explanation!”

“I know!” Fresh tears spilled in Taka’s anger. “Just–! Give me a moment! Stop being so impatient with me!”

“What, so you can have time make up some bullshit excuse? How hard is it to tell me the truth!?”

“Stop talking!” Taka squeezed his eyes shut, mouth contorting in a grimace as he moved to fist his hands in his hair, before clamping them over his ears instead. “Give me a minute! I need a minute to think!”

A low sob escaped his lips, and all at once, Mondo’s anger subsided. His brow lifted as he simply stared at Taka, looking so much smaller than he really was. He seemed frail like this. Mondo didn’t like it. He knew that he wasn’t. With his shoulders hunched and his hands guarding his ears, Taka looked almost scared.

He’d… scared him.

Suddenly Mondo’s vision was blurring as well. He stepped closer, slowly, listening intently for any signs of fear from Taka, until he was close enough rest his head on top of his. Mondo’s hands fell to his shoulders, rubbing his back in circles. For a moment, Taka simply breathed heavily. Then he lowered his hands from his ears, letting them hang loosely by his sides as he nestled his head under Mondo’s chin. Some tears fell in his hair. He must have felt them. “Mondo…”

“I-It’s okay,” was all Mondo could really manage, his voice shaking as bad as it was. It was so rare that he cried. Even around the people he trusted completely, even around Chihiro, even Taka. He’d just looked so frightened. Mondo had hurt him that badly...

Indulging an earlier impulse, he pulled back from the embrace, just enough that he could press his mouth against Taka’s forehead. It was barely a kiss, just a brush of his lips against overheated skin, but Taka leaned into it anyways. He’d stopped crying. Mondo hadn’t.

“I’m sorry,” Taka said again.

"No, I am." Mondo breathed a laugh, wiping his face roughly on his sleeve. “Why’d ya keep sayin’ that, man? You got nothin’ to be sorry for. I told ya.”

“Yes, I do.”

“What then?”

Taka didn’t respond. Mondo sighed, pressing his lips to the crown of his head this time. Taka hummed, and Mondo felt the sound more than he heard it.

“Did you… want it?” He asked softly. It was probably best he started the conversation, since Taka couldn’t seem to find the words.

Apparently, his plan had failed. “It?”

Mondo grit his teeth, forced to elaborate. “Did… you want me to kiss you?”

The silence was oppressive. Taka didn’t even seem to be breathing, the air was so still. Then he exhaled slowly.

“I didn’t notice,” he muttered. His words slurred together as he kept his voice low, swallowing thickly back against a lump in his throat. “Please don’t get the wrong idea about me. I truly didn’t go into that situation with any… ulterior motives. I didn’t mean to trick you.”

“The hell are you talkin’ about, Taka?” Mondo went to pull back to look Taka in the eye, but he made a sound of protest, moving his face away. So he pulled him closer instead, resting a firm hand between his shoulder blades. Maybe it was easier to get the words out if he didn’t feel watched? It didn’t really matter. If it kept him happy, Mondo would oblige.

“I really intended it to be educational,” Taka all but whispered, his voice not much more than a deep rumble in his throat. “I was– selfishly curious, and you were offering and I didn’t see anything untoward about it. I wanted to learn about the appeal and then…” He stiffened. “Then you showed me and… all at once, I-I understood. I realized I’d…” He shook his head, muttering something Mondo had no hope of catching. His mouth was dry.

“Is that why you’re sorry?” Mondo asked. “Because you liked it?”

“No.” Taka was shaking now. Mondo was too. He only held him tighter. “I was sorry because I got carried away. Because I was… impulsive and… greedy. I kept asking for more and more, even after I more than understood what I set out to understand, because I liked it. And because…” he shook his head again. Mondo held him tighter. “Because I… I liked…”

“I liked you.”

Mondo narrowly avoided getting headbutted in the chin when Taka pulled back from him quickly, looking up in wide-eyed disbelief as he finally met his gaze. He was red-faced, like he usually was. Did it always look this pretty, or was Mondo only just noticing it?

“I liked that it was you,” he kept talking, even as he felt Taka’s piercing eyes on him. “More than the fact I was kissin’ someone, I liked that I was kissin’ you. I liked… knowin’ it was you who was touching me. Holdin’ onto me like that. That’s why I kept doin’ it. Kept pushin’ it further, shit…” Mondo laughed. It came out high-pitched and nervous. “Ya think I woulda kissed any other friends like that?”

“Well, I don’t know!” Taka yelped indignantly. “I don’t know the ins and outs of all of your friendships!”

“That’s what you were gonna say, right?” Mondo was suddenly nervous, pinching his brow as Taka’s face turned confused. “You were gonna say you liked it was me?”

Taka barely had to hesitate. He nodded. “I thought I didn’t know what it was like to want,” he muttered sheepishly, balling his hands into fists. “Which was true, I suppose. I didn’t even realize that I was wanting. And that I… wanted you.” Taka swallowed. “A lot.”

“Huh.” Mondo felt as if all the air had been punched out of him. Especially now Taka was staring quite pointedly at his mouth. He cleared his throat. “And, uh, do ya think you might… still want me? After that?”

Taka’s hands found his wrists, looking at Mondo with mirth in his eyes as his lips drew up in a smile. “I guess that depends. Would you say that you want me?”

Mondo could have whined. He decided to grin instead. “Yeah, I do.”

“Then I do as well.” Taka’s smile turned teasing, and Mondo wasted no time in kissing it off his smug, stupid face, relishing how he laughed, startled, against his lips. The kiss deepened, with Taka taking surprising initiative, and Mondo made a sound in his throat that made him break it. “Something wrong?”

“Hell no!” Mondo spluttered as Taka found one of his hands, toying it between his own. “Y-Ya took me by surprise, is all! You’re a fast learner.”

Taka hummed, pressing a kiss to his knuckles, then to his palm. “Is that a good thing?”

Mondo nodded, leaning forward to catch Taka’s lips again and sighing against them. “Really good.”

“Hm,” Taka murmured between kisses, holding Mondo’s hands in his own. “Maybe we should pencil in a few more lessons, just in case? I know how much you liked our first.”

“Says the guy who felt up under my shirt.”

“Oh? Would you like to feel under mine as well? To ‘level the playing field’, as it were?”

The simple offer made Mondo choke on thin air, and Taka laughed, kissing his temple and his brow line, apparently pressing his mouth anywhere his lips could reach. “Christ, Taka! W-Where’d you learn to talk like that?”

“Sorry,” Taka kissed his chin, smiling with an innocence Mondo knew for a fact was complete bullshit. “It’s cruel of me, but I… do like to make you blush. You’ll have to forgive me for that.”

Mondo only growled, reclaiming Taka’s mouth with the same forcefulness they had in his bed earlier. He held his chin in place with one hand as he licked past Taka’s lips, before biting down on the pout of that bottom lip; not enough that it hurt, but enough that he felt that sharp pressure he’d liked so much. Sure enough, Taka made the most gorgeous fucking sound, and Mondo backed off with a satisfied grin.

“I can make you blush too,” he said smugly. Taka’s eyes, previously hazy and unfocused, turned incredulous as he swatted Mondo’s chest.

“You’re ridiculous.”

“And you’re one to talk?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Eh, guess so.”

Taka laughed, squeezing their joined hands, then rested his face in the crook of Mondo’s neck where it met his shoulder. He didn’t move to kiss it though. Just… breathed him in. He nuzzled closer when Mondo shivered.

“H-Hey,” Mondo whispered, pressing his cheek to his temple and trying to suppress another shudder. “Ya wanna head back to my dorm and… watch some TV or something?”

Taka paused. Then pulled away, nodding. “Yes. I’d like that.”

Mondo narrowed his eyes. Taka’s flitted to his desk. “…You wanna finish your notes, don’t you?”

“It’ll be ten more minutes!”

“Oh my God–!”

“Twenty-five tops!”