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Year Two

Chapter Text

Msg from Iwai Takuto: Do you think video chat will really work?

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: Why wouldn’t it? Mother and Gran are debating whether they think it’s the connection or the computer.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: Your family seems nice.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: I think they’re happy that they might  see just who I’ve been texting all the time.

Two minutes of silence between them passed. Shinomiya sighed to himself and suspected that Takuto must be anxious about other Shinomiyas analyzing him. 


Msg from Shinomiya Koji: don’t worry, they’ll like you.

Shinomiya turned to look over his shoulder where his mother and grandmother sat at the table with his laptop.

“I think you were right, Gran,” his mother said.

“Well thank goodness we don’t need to replace the camera. Fancy built in thing.”

“They’re not very rare anymore, but I guess for kids...” his mother shrugged.

“Fancy special camera in the fancy special computer for the fancy special school work our special champion does,” his grandmother said in agreement.

Shinomiya blushed mildly at the indirect praise.

“Koji!” his mother called, “come see if it works now.”

                                                                                 ---

“Takuto?”

Takuto merely sat there on his bed, laptop on his thighs and back against the wall. He couldn’t begin to express what he felt at seeing Shinomiya, at Shinomiya wanting to see him, here, in his home. Saying his name.

“Shinomiya,” he said, or thought he said. He knew he mouthed it because Shinomiya smiled back at him.

“Hi.”

“Hi.”

“Takuto? Are you-”

Takuto sniffed and wiped his eyes.

“I’m fine. I’m happy to see you.”

Takuto heard what he thought was a stifled giggle in the background. He blushed, “Shinomiya? Is someone there?”

He watched Shinomiya look over his shoulder and replicate his own embarassed surprise.

“Mother,” he said a bit bashfully.

“So you’re amazing artist Koji keeps thinking of,” she said warmly.

Neither of the boys had an easy time finding more words at that moment.

                                                                                 ---

“Takuto, who have you been talking to all the time?” his mother had asked.

“Oh, it’s Shinomiya, from school.”

“Oh that national finalist? He’s been good to you?”

Takuto tried to fight against blushing wildly. Good to him...Shinomiya’s constant watching out for him, his protectiveness, the sweet kisses, the last night of the year spent secure and warm in his arms. Yes. Shinomiya was very good to him.

 

“He’s very kind,” Takuto managed to answer.

“What’s he like?” his mother asked.

Takuto didn’t know what to say, his mother was taking an interest in his friend suddenly and all he could think of was how much he’d like Shinomiya to hold him again, to kiss him with that same want and tenderness he had before.

“He’s very responsible,” Takuto said. “He’s going to become the archery club Captain this new school year and he’s good at school work, he helps me not fall behind.”

“You have an accomplished friend then.”

“Yeah.”

“What about you Takuto?” his mother asked. “What have you done this year?”

Takuto looked up suddenly, detecting the slight change in her tone.

“What have you been up to?” she asked again.

“I...I guess not...not that much.”

“No?”

“I heard you won some art contests.”

 

Takuto felt his insides clench the way his mother’s voice had. He didn’t know how she found out but the bottom line was that she had when he hadn’t told her. He gulped and nodded.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she asked, looking hurt.

“I...they w-were on-ly wood car-car-ving and prints and....” he stuttered.

“But I want to know if you’re painting again! I feel so left out,” she cried.

“It’s just...it didn’t matter that much, I spent some prize money on more supplies anyway,” he said softly.

“That doesn’t matter,” she scoffed.

Takuto blinked, taken aback.

“You didn’t tell me ,” she whined.

“I’m sorry.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I’m sorry.”

“I want to know if you’re painting, you know that.”

Takuto’s expression went blank, “I don’t paint anymore,” he lied.

                                                                                 ---

“Oh, is that him?” Ryou asked, pointing at the boy on his brother’s computer.

“Ryou-chan, come over and say hello politely,” Shinomiya said in a half-hearted reproof. “Takuto, this is Ryou. Ryou, Takuto.”

“You’re such a good artist!” Ryou enthusiastically told the screen.

Takuto smiled bashfully and looked down, it made Shinomiya ache to touch him. To cup his chin and turn his face upwards again, to run his fingers through those grey ashen locks.

“Heeeeeey,” Ryou whined, “did you two forget I’m here?”

Shinomiya blinked, had he and Takuto just been staring at each other?

 

As his week of vacation progressed, Shinomiya noticed his family noticing just how much he seemed to be in contact with “that artist, Iwai-san.” He noticed less consciously the looks, the sly smiles his brother, mother and grandmother exchanged and the confused glances his father and grandfather exchanged at the trio.

Shinomiya was not oblivious but simply lost in Takuto. He overheard his father telling his mother:

“I’ve never seen him give so much attention to a screen all the time when he’s not studying.”

“Let him be. He needs to be young and caught up in something besides work sometimes too,” she’d said. “Everyone needs to have fun sometimes, my love.”

They might have kissed after that but he hadn’t stuck around to eavesdrop.

 

It wasn’t that he felt he didn’t need his family, not at all. The break before his second year at Bell Liberty was only a week long and he made sure to spend it with them, or at least, never ignore them and engage whenever he could. But something in him hurt without Takuto by his side, without Takuto to hold and care for. As grateful as he was for the video chats part of it made his longing worse, to watch his inhibited beloved who spoke no more than ever, and not be able to touch him. Sometimes he wanted to drag Takuto to him, kiss him hungrily, feel his warmth, his skin against his own.

 

He woke up once midweek and had to change his sheets right away. He was sure he looked terribly guilty after the dream he’d had and he might have fainted if his grandfather had said anything upon finding him doing his laundry first thing in the morning. What crude thoughts he was having, he squirmed acknowledging that they were his at all. Takuto on his lap, facing him, kissing him with reciprocated need as Shinomiya uncovered more of the artist’s skin beneath his shirt. Come to think of it, had he ever seen Takuto without full dress? He never used the public baths as far as Shinomiya knew. He wondered what the artist would look like with less on. He was thin, Shinomiya knew, but he was soft and lovely, that much he could tell just by holding Takuto close. He wondered what it would be like to wake up beside him after a night of passion, or what that night would entail...

That again ! he scolded himself. How could he dirty such a sweet boy like that in his mind? Oh, if only those thoughts were the worst of them.

 

They left him trying to smother his guilt and refocus on something, anything else. It was sometimes harder when he was looking Takuto right in the face. How could he focus on something else when the object of his desire was there before him? Sometimes he’d grip the corner of his laptop just to give himself something to touch because he could see Takuto but couldn’t hold him, couldn’t kiss or caress him or watch over him as he’d like to. Shinomiya did have to admit he got lost in his beloved, at times he would be satisfied just to stare. In the evenings he had found he forgot about everything else he was usually aware of. Maybe if he hadn’t been so focused as he bid Takuto goodnight he’d have realized the footsteps outside of his door, or that it was open a slight amount.

“Goodnight Takuto.”

“Goodnight Shinomiya.”

“I love you.”

Even if he’d known that his mother and Ryou stood outside his door, he wouldn’t have seen the glances they exchanged, the sly conspiring happening only between looks.

 

The next day as each day, he promised to go outside with Ryou and listen to his stories from school. They walked to the nearby park and commandeered the empty swings side by side.

“Why can’t you stay longer?” Ryou pouted, kicking the dirt under him as he swung lazily.

“You know why. I have to go back to school,” Shinomiya answered.

“But you’ll keep coming back home?” Ryou muttered, still looking at the ground. He looked up when he felt a hand on his head.

“Of course I will Ryou-chan. C’mon, let’s go home together.”

Ryou’s pout morphed into a sly, knowing expression, “you have a video date, huh?”

Shinomiya looked it a bit bashful, it wasn’t like he could deny it.

“You want to go back so you can see that person, right?” Ryou asked. It sounded more like fact than accusation.  
“Ryou?” Shinomiya gasped softly.

“Whatever, you’re gonna see him in a few days anyway right?”

Shinomiya stopped walking and reached for Ryou, “but you know you’ll always have me, right?”

Instead of an answer with words Ryou reached up to hug him, “dumb Nii-chan.”

Shinomiya just smiled and hugged him back.

                                                                                 ---

 

“Er, here they are,” Shinomiya said to Takuto. He gestured to his mother and Ryou.

“Well, we didn’t want the whole family to bombard you again, but thank you for taking care of my son,” Dr. Shinomiya said.

“N-no,” Takuto said softly. He bit his lip. “It’s Shinomiya who takes care of me.”

“He learned it from me!” Ryou interrupted, clambering onto his brother’s lap at the table.

“Ryou...” Shinomiya sighed. “Aren’t you too big for this?”

“Almost,” Ryou smirked.

A soft laugh drew their attention back to the screen. Takuto covered his mouth when he realized they were looking at him again.

“You have a very lively family, don’t you?” Takuto said.

“Really, I think he learned responsibility early,” Dr Shinomiya added. “With his parents working all the time and a little mischief spirit to look after,” she ruffled both of her sons hair at the same time.

“Do you have any big, busy family?” she asked Takuto.

He looked down and shook his head.

“No?”

“Um, just my mom and she’s busy a lot so,” he shrugged ever so mildly.

“Hmm, even over vacations?”

Takuto nodded.

Ryou and his mother exchanged another look before Dr. Shinomiya spoke again, “well maybe you should visit us next time, if you like.”

                                                                                 ---

 

Takuto did not exactly awaken because he had not exactly been asleep, but when he grasped coherency again he recognized his customary position, curled up on the floor. There did not seem to be much blood on the floor this time and he could most likely clean it with (relative) ease. Actually, he noticed, there wasn’t much blood at all, it may take him a while to heal but it wasn’t that bad. He still had to deal with it though.

 

His mother had gone out it seemed, he guessed that when he heard the door slam before but it hadn’t been at the forefront of his thoughts. He blinked at his reflection in the bathroom mirror, looking about as un-urgent as haggard could. He had surprised himself, he didn’t speak to his mother like that, bring up why he felt as he did, or how he felt at all really.

 

“Why wouldn’t you want to come home?!” she’d cried

“You weren’t even home last summer vacation,” he hadn’t raised his voice but he didn’t know how he’d managed to say that at all .

 

Consciously, as he cleaned and wrapped his arms (good, at least they still had bandages from last year,) he doubted that it was actually about the money. But he was freer without her worrying over his art, especially his painting. If only she hadn’t known about the contests, if only he hadn’t bothered to bring up visiting the Shinomiyas in Hiroshima. He’d just been so excited...

 

It was confusing sometimes, these feelings that raged in him or the mere idea that Shinomiya might return them. How could Shinomiya love someone like him? Takuto looked at his wrapped forearms. Would Shinomiya still love him like this? He wrapped his arms around himself and shivered in nervousness. He couldn’t chance it. Takuto needed him. As he dabbed the blood from the floor he reminded himself that he would be going back to Bell Liberty soon. He would see Shinomiya again. It would be okay because Shinomiya loved him back.

                                                                                 ---

 

The entrance ceremony was different when you weren’t a new student, Shinomiya realized. Of course, he had known this logically, but seeing newcomers with their nervousness and awe made him wonder if that’s what he’d been like the previous year. He looked beside him at Takuto.
“What is it?” the artist asked softly and Shinomiya realized he’d been staring.

“No- I,” but Shinomiya gave up on words and took Takuto’s hand in his own.

Takuto bit his lip and smiled and Shinomiya had to restrain himself from kissing him right then and there during the ceremony.

I love you , he hoped he was conveying.

 

Takuto tried to pay attention during the entrance ceremony, now that he was sure Shinomiya was again. He was having trouble focusing when he was finally near Shinomiya again, he just wanted to spend the day quietly in his arms. Just what were they exactly? Takuto wanted to ask but this was not the time or place.

He did notice however one student, a particularly beautiful boy with piercing eyes and flowing hair like a blushing sunset. The boy carried himself with the same poise that Shinomiya did but a slightly different air about him. Takuto couldn’t help but stare, he’d like to draw or paint that boy. He wondered if it were similar to how he noticed Shinomiya at first sight. In Takuto’s vision, the archer had glowed and turned him warm and soft inside. No, this newcomer was different merely beautiful. Everyone else had also noticed the beautiful boy too, Takuto didn’t need to look around much to tell.

 

“Are you sure you want to stay?” Shinomiya asked, once there ceremony had ended. “You could go somewhere without the crowd while the student council meets the new members.”

Takuto shook his head and held Shinomiya’s hand a bit tighter, “I want to be with you,” he said, just audibly enough for Shinomiya to hear him.

Even as he smiled part of Shinomiya’s insides cringed at having to restrain himself. He leaned in to whisper “I wish we weren’t here either.”

Takuto followed him as he found the other student council members. He remembered Shinomiya mentioning an email about meeting right after the ceremony.

 

“Yo! Shinomiya! Iwai!” Niwa greeted, he waved them over.

“You read the Director’s email, I take it?” Shinomiya asked.

“Of course,” Nakajima answered. He seemed as cool and confident as ever, regarding Shinomiya and Takuto with a once over.

Shinomiya stepped ever so subtly in front of Takuto, between him and the others after he tossed Nakajima a quick glance but before anything else could happen Kuganuma appeared.

“Student council members,” he addressed them, “these are the new members of the treasury.”

Two people stood near him, one was a tall boy whose silver hair was cropped in short strands and had a mark under one of his scanning eyes. Right next to him stood (rather close, Takuto noticed,) the beautiful boy.

Kuganuma gestured to the beautiful boy and his apparent companion, “this is Saionji Kaoru and Shichijo Omi. Their work will be moving to your office place, I expect you all to get along.”

The tall one, Shichijo had a smile which unnerved Takuto. As if there were beneath it mischief at best and he didn’t want to imagine anything worse, at least he didn’t turn Takuto cold as Nakajima did. In fact Shichijo’s expression changed just subtly more tense as Nakajima’s gaze raked the newcomers. Takuto himself had to suppress the urge to shiver.

 

“Vice Chairman-san,” Nakajima said, not removing his focus entirely from Saionji and Shichijo, “just why is there a need for a new set of treasurers?” His tone was subtly menacing and cold, and Niwa too remained seemingly as oblivious as always.

“Aww c’mon Hide!” he grinned, “some kids quit on us last year remember? We could always use more help.”

Kuganuma cleared his throat, “that you could. You have a lot of work to do since all the changes you’ve been trying to make last year. If the students are going to have so much control and freedom, they’ll have a lot of responsibility too,” his phone rang in his pocket, redirecting his attention, “speaking of responsibility,” he said and excused himself.

“So you’re our new teammates,” Niwa grinned, “I guess I didn’t realize that when we met earlier. I’m Niwa Tetsuya the student council president and this is my vice president, Nakajima Hideaki.”

While Niwa looked like a heartedly enthusiastic dog grinning at his new treat, Nakajima allowed some of his deft subtlety to slip as he looked Saionji over. The corners of the vice president’s mouth tilted upwards.

Saionji and Omi nodded at the introductions, keeping a cordial air until Niwa slung an arm around Saionji’s shoulder without warning. Omi’s brows raised slightly and Saionji made no effort to hide his distaste as Niwa continued introducing the student council members.

 

“Yes, thank you, Niwa ,” Saionji said as he moved to pry Niwa off of him, but Niwa seemed oblivious and hugged Saionji tighter, causing Omi’s expression to tense as Nakajima looked on with moderately concealed predatory intent.

“Niwa, that’s enough,” Shinomiya said, having seen plenty. A year ago he’d have brushed it off or hardly noticed the two newcomers discomfort that was presently clear to him. Spending so much time monitoring Takuto had changed how he noticed things. Without a word to the other student council member bystanders he addressed their leaders:

“Niwa, Nakajima,” he said, “why don’t we all welcome Saionji and Shichijo.”

As the last person Niwa had not introduced, Shinomiya held out his hand (and gave Niwa an admonishing look until he moved off of Saionji.)

“I’m Shinomiya Koji, ” he introduced himself.
He watched as Saionji moved slightly backwards against Omi’s secure form before reaching out to take his hand.
Shinomiya looked over his shoulder, “Takuto,” he said, nudging the artist from behind him. “And this is Iwai Takuto, he’s in the art club. Kuganuma commissioned him for designs in the Student Council office last year.”

Takuto dipped his head and blushed as he smiled shyly at the ground. Saionji and Omi exchanged a knowing look at the adoring smile Shinomiya was giving him. It didn’t take much to notice at all, even if they had known how often the two held hands.

“I saw the office earlier, it’s wonderful artwork Iwai-san,” Omi said.

Takuto looked up just a little, still smiling.

Chapter Text

Takuto didn’t say anything as they walked, hand in hand, back to the dorm. He had noticed the same change that Shinomiya was realizing. The archer was different than last year. He seemed to be actively watching Nakajima when the vice president was around, coming between him and others. The way Nakajima had eyed the gorgeous treasurer was hard to miss having been under a similar gaze himself, or in Shinomiya’s case was hard to miss if you were looking out for it.

“It’s nice to meet them,” Takuto said, “but I don’t want to be a bother around the student council room.”

They had almost reached the dorm entrance when Shinomiya stopped, “I want you around,” he said, knowing it was selfish. (He did feel slightly guilty for that.) “When you don’t have other things to do, I mean.”

You need me , he didn’t say aloud.

 

They walked in further silence to the archer’s room and once inside Shinomiya pulled Takuto against him in embrace. “I need you around,” he breathed.

Takuto wrapped his arms around Shinomiya, returning the embrace, “I need you too,” he said.

Shinomiya inhaled deeply, gripped Takuto tighter, not wanting to let go. He kissed Takuto’s cheek and nuzzled against him. “I love you,” he breathed, raining more soft kisses over Takuto’s face and delighting in his happy little sighs.

“Shinomiya...”

Shinomiya held Takuto’s face in his hands and pressed their foreheads together. Takuto leaned just another inch forward to kiss him with warranted need. Their tentativeness from before the spring vacation melted in this moment. It took only a few days that when Shinomiya asked may I kiss you? Takuto would tell him he didn’t need to ask, but Shinomiya tried not to startle him.

 

“Takuto,” he panted, kissed him again briefly.
“I missed you,” Takuto said, “I couldn’t wait to come back.”

“I spent the whole break wanting to kiss you.”

Takuto gave him a look of yes more please before they were kissing again. This warmth, this presence, Shinomiya against him, was what Takuto had ached for. A very fleeting thought ran through his mind that this was as far as he and Shinomiya had gone. All previous kisses were quite chaste compared to being pressed against the closed door with no space between himself and Shinomiya. The concept of perfection drifted to him, not that he was able to think very clearly. He felt a hand slide under his shirt, palm pressing against his stomach then side...oh...yes...wait...no.

 

“No, stop!” shocked into awareness, Takuto grabbed Shinomiya’s wrist. He didn’t want any physical distance between them but found himself frozen.

Shinomiya took in the boy, wide-eyed and tense in what he read as shock and fear. No. No, had he done that? He never wanted to hurt Takuto. “I...” he gasped, trying to back up. “Takuto I’m so sorry.”

But Takuto wouldn’t let him move away, his grip tightened and he tried to pull Shinomiya back to him. Takuto shook his head, “no, it’s okay,” he said softly. “I want...but I’m not...not ready yet.”

He let go and sank down to the floor against the doorframe.

“You...you do?” Shinomiya blinked.

Takuto nodded without looking up, “I’m sorry.”

Shinomiya frowned and sat beside him, “why would you be sorry?” he murmured. “I should be. I should have paid attention.”

Takuto shook his head and leaned against him, “I want to but,” he whispered. But I can’t. My arms...my body.

Shinomiya draped an arm around Takuto and let him cuddle up where they sat, he stroked Takuto’s hair and kissed his head. “We have five days before classes start,” Shinomiya said. “And we can go as slow as we like.”

                                                                                ---

In moments of clear headedness Shinomiya wondered what was happening to him. Logically, he understood the basics of endorphin and other chemical changes that such a relationship could inspire but he kept looking back on certain behaviors or realizing his own thoughts and cringing inwardly with guilt. It wasn’t just the rules he was willing to bend to sleep beside Takuto, but that he found his urges impeding even his ability to hold Takuto in his arms while they slept.

 

His thoughts kept wandering to exploring more of Takuto’s bare skin, what might be under the clothing that hung away from his thin body. Takuto was always fully covered, wasn’t he? He never used the public baths either as far as Shinomiya knew. Despite his obvious love for Shinomiya and desire for Shinomiya to hold him, Takuto was very clearly insecure and shy and it mortified Shinomiya to think of pushing him beyond his comfort zone.

 

On their first night back on Bell Liberty’s grounds, Shinomiya let Takuto sleep in his bed. In part they were entirely absorbed in each other, happy to be in close and affectionate contact. The other part of the night however, they both spent too wrapped up in their own anxieties about overstepping bounds of desire to realize that it was mutual. Though he considered that he might have to sleep alone, Shinomiya did not find his answer any more easily when he awoke to whimpers and a fidgeting figure beside him.

“Takuto?”

When Takuto didn’t answer, only whimpered more Shinomiya prodded him gently.

“Takuto what is it?”

Takuto turn over to face him, panting softly, “Shi...Shinomiya?”

As his eyes adjusted Shinomiya realized that Takuto’s own were wet, he set his hand on the side of Takuto’s face and ran his thumb across the artist’s cheek.

“What’s wrong, my love?”

“S-sorry to wake you up...” Takuto said. “I...I get nightmares I guess.”

Shinomiya looked concerned, “a lot?” and when Takuto sniffled instead of answering Shinomiya slid his other arm under Takuto’s side to hold him comfortingly. Worry as he might, he was glad to be there for Takuto.

                                                                                  ---

Despite his tiresome anxiety the night before, when Shinomiya awoke he felt pure joy. He could not begin to describe it as he stared at the sleeping boy beside him. He’d thought he couldn’t handle last night, but if he could wake up like this maybe he could learn to. He set a soft kiss against Takuto’s lips and another to his forehead before he got up. When he’d washed up and brushed his teeth he splashed his face with cold water before returning to the bed. Takuto still lay there, Shinomiya was awake, this was no dream. Shinomiya slid back in beside him as his eyes first started to open, then close again. He smiled dreamily without opening them, filling Shinomiya with covetance anew. He physically yearned to express this love, it felt like nothing would be enough. Shinomiya hadn’t realized that he’d been so lost in his own thoughts and staring until Takuto was staring back at him.

“Good morning,” Shinomiya said.

Takuto bit his lip and looked at Shinomiya with surprising shyness. Shinomiya’s level of surprise only heightened when Takuto closed the inch gap between them to kiss him hungrily. Not that he minded, oh no, Shinomiya responded with eagerness to make up for his inexperience. Takuto licked tentatively along Shinomiya’s bottom lip, asking him to part them. Shinomiya opened slightly allowing Takuto’s tongue to taste his.

 

Green tea toothpaste , Takuto thought.

Though thinking was not exactly at the forefront of his attention. Takuto reached for Shinomiya’s hand and placed it over his ribs, in turn he ran his fingers into Shinomiya’s hair. Shinomiya stopped a moment to breathe, he looked at where Takuto had set his hand and let it drift down the artist’s side and up his torso.

“Like this?” he asked, “this is okay?”

Takuto nodded in answer and kissed him again fervently.

With one hand Shinomiya framed Takuto’s face as he let his other roam over Takuto’s clothed chest.

Takuto whined softly with need, still kissing him. He pressed forward into Shinomiya’s hand and moaned into his mouth shocking Shinomiya into alertness enough to pull away. Just what did he think he was doing?

 

“I- sorry!” he said, pulling his hand from how close it had gotten to the hem of Takuto’s shirt.

Takuto looked at him slightly confused, maybe even hurt. “Did I do something?” he asked.

He apparently had no idea how close Shinomiya had gotten to overstepping their agreed boundary line.

“No,” Shinomiya shook his head. “Not you. Um, but, we should get up if we want to get to the dining hall before it’s crowded.”

Takuto made himself sit up and rubbed the sleep from his eyes.

Takuto . Shinomiya felt his insides turning over, did Takuto have no idea what he was doing to him? He had to stop himself from grabbing and kissing him all over again. Instead he extended a hand to help Takuto up.

“Come on,” he said. “You should go get changed. I have a feeling it’s going to get busy soon and I want all the time with you I can get before then.”

Takuto took his hand and let Shinomiya pull him out of bed, but at those words he wasn’t sure how he stood instead of melting into a happy puddle.

                                                                                 ---

The last few days before classes started were getting busier and Takuto was getting angstier. At least, he thought so. After their first morning together Shinomiya had sought him out when his student council meeting ended.

“The dorm leader said he wanted me to be his assistant.”

“That’s a big job Shinomiya.”

“I’d like to be able to help though,” he’d said. “And it would be a chance to know everyone better.”

Would it ? Takuto wondered. Or will it only keep you busier ?
He took the initiative to reach for Shinomiya’s hand on his own, “you really like taking care of people.”

Shinomiya grinned a bit bashfully, “well yes,” he’d agreed. He leaned closer and his voice dropped to a soft volume, “but I like you the most.”

 

Shinomiya didn’t just say it either, he took every opportunity to bestow affection, to let their hands brush, to touch Takuto’s hair or kiss his cheek or hold his hand. It was a fair force in battling the insecurities that had always spoken to Takuto. They were nasty little voices, telling him that Shinomiya deserved more of him but that Takuto had nothing to give. That he was selfish for wanting to touch Shinomiya when he was unready for Shinomiya to touch him the same way. The anxieties told him that he should keep hiding himself though. That gangly awkward body, that imperfect and marred skin. He couldn’t win.

 

Not that it stopped him from trying. Under Shinomiya’s touch the anxieties lifted, Takuto felt a glowing warmth wherever Shinomiya kissed him. His want was so earnest but his hands never strayed further than the fabric of Takuto’s shirt, as promised. Takuto was so lucky. If Shinomiya loved him, how could he want anything else? He scolded himself each time they would kiss and his fingers would stray, tempted to start unbuttoning Shinomiya’s shirt, he even whined in frustration.

“What’s wrong?” Shinomiya asked.

Takuto felt dreadful and yanked his hand away from Shinomiya’s collar. He looked away and pulled back from where they sat on the bed. Shinomiya wondered if he’d done something wrong. Up until a moment ago Takuto had seemed to return every bit of his enthusiastic consent and suddenly he’d jerked himself away.

“Takuto,” he said worriedly.

Shinomiya was sitting near the edge of the bed Takuto had moved so that he’d backed himself against the wall, sitting with his head on his knees where he hugged them against his chest.

“Takuto, did I do something you didn’t like?”

Takuto couldn’t answer, he didn’t know how he’d overloaded all of the sudden. Maybe it was no good keeping all of these anxieties inside because they could burst like this. He mumbled something into his jeans that Shinomiya didn’t understand.

Shinomiya wanted to reach for him but he was afraid of startling him any further. “Takuto, sor-”

“I’m sorry.”

Takuto’s apology left Shinomiya even more confused.

“W-what?”

Takuto looked up, seeming to be on the verge of tears. “I’m really sorry, Shinomiya. I..panicked.”

“I don’t understand,” Shinomiya answered. “Please tell me what I did?”

Takuto shook his head, “no, not Shinomiya- you didn’t- I mean, it was me.”

Shinomiya was not becoming less confused.

 

“I really like you and even though I told you to stop before I want to now but I’m not ready but...I want to.”

“You’re upset because you’re not ready?” Shinomiya tried to decipher.

“But I want to touch Shinomiya too even though it’s not fair.”

Takuto sounded so guilt-ridden and hurting, Shinomiya wanted to hold and soothe him. He moved slightly closer to Takuto, waiting for a sign to move forward or give him space.  “It’s okay,” he said.

Takuto blinked, not sure what Shinomiya had meant.

“It’s okay...if you want to,” Shinomiya clarified, starting to turn pink.

When Takuto moved closer to him Shinomiya copied his action until they were touching again, holding each other’s faces and hands, kissing again.  

Takuto let his hands slip to Shinomiya’s collar but didn’t move before asking, “is it really okay?”

“Yes.”

 

For his own part, Shinomiya was different like this. If someone had told him a year ago that he would be kissing a boy who was unbuttoning his shirt he’d have looked at them in bewilderment. But right then, caught up in his emotions turning into physical need he savoured the feeling of Takuto’s fingers and kisses at his throat. They paced slowly down as Takuto continued to open his shirt stopping to kiss his collar bone.

“Love you,” he murmured.

The normal, highly responsible and mildly reserved Shinomiya may not have recognized himself at present. He was but an embodiment of his own want with Takuto’s hands against his bare chest, exploring the expanse of skin and taut muscle in wonderment. Takuto’s pupils were wide. He tilted his head to kiss the dip below Shinomiya’s collarbones and down to his ribs. Shinomiya didn’t know what he wanted, just more. As Takuto left another kiss just below his ribs, Shinomiya grabbed and kissed him as if he were starving. Even so, he tried to reserve some awareness so as not to be demanding or too forceful.

 

Takuto felt quite wanted as a matter of fact, with Shinomiya just as hungry for him in return. If he could just not think at all he’d be able to properly starve for Shinomiya’s kisses all over him. In thought, it was a wonderful and highly welcome idea, but whenever Takuto applied his actual body to the concept he shirked back from it. If Shinomiya wanted to kiss him like this, even inexperienced and messy, Takuto would bask in how wanted he felt.  His hands clutched Shinomiya’s shirt and slid along Shinomiya’s chest. Shinomiya gasped when he felt a thumb slide against his nipple and press softly. They broke their kiss and stared at each other as they caught their breath. After a few moments Shinomiya draped his arm over Takuto and pulled the artist against him.

 

It would have been a very nice moment too if not for Takuto’s gasp making Shinomiya realize that they were both erect and in very close contact. Shinomiya flushed profusely and moved to sit up, rather startled when Takuto scrambled off the bed and made for the door squeaking out a quick apology as he fled. Shinomiya wanted to go after him but he wasn’t exactly sure what to say or do, or that he could with the position he was currently in.

 

The dash back to his room had not been privy to many witnesses, luckily for Takuto. As soon as he was in his room his the door slammed behind him he sank to the floor, trying to quell his panicked panting.

Shinomiya had seen.. .felt. ..oh gods...why?

Takuto pressed his head against his knees and tried to breathe slowly. But Shinomiya had reacted too, right? That meant he really did feel the same and he wasn’t just mistaking his feelings of friendship for love. Right? Oh god because if Shinomiya didn’t really love him...oh please no. His panting was more mild but still not quite calm and he tried not to cry. Takuto really didn’t think he could handle anything without Shinomiya anymore. He hated how desperate and needy he must seem to the archer, he hated how desperate and needy he was . Well, at least the stress made him no longer hard, he didn’t have that to deal with anyone.

 

His phone chimed and lit up:

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: I’m sorry, are you alright?

 

Shinomiya had not run after him, but he was still checking on Takuto.

 

Msg from Iwai Takuto: Yes. I’m sorry.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: Do you still want to have dinner? Do you need some space?

Msg from Iwai Takuto: Yeah. I’ll meet you.

                                                                                     ---

“I think...um...maybe I should sleep in my room now that classes are starting,” Takuto said over dinner. It was just he and Shinomiya, no other archers, or student council members or any of Shinomiya’s numerous other friends. He was a popular student, but he had insisted on spending more time with Takuto. They’d taken a couple of meals back to Takuto’s room, eating with less awkwardness than Takuto imagined. Whatever tension there had been was beginning to melt as Shinomiya wiped some crumbs from Takuto’s face and fed him one of the sweet dumplings. Takuto flushed and looked down while he chewed, trying to fight the smile that made slightly chewing harder. He was adorable, Shinomiya thought.

“I am so in love with you,” he let slip.
It had just come out without a thought and Takuto’s reaction of bashful joy made Shinomiya feel all the more in love. Takuto looked a bit terrified but happy, unable to react for several moments.


“Um...I’m sorry,” he said at last, “about before.”

Shinomiya set his napkin down and took Takuto’s hand in his, “it’s okay,” he said.

Takuto tried to look at him.

“Me too, I didn’t know how to handle it,” Shinomiya said. “I don’t really know what to do,” he admitted.

“I’m- I’m sorry,” Takuto stuttered. “I..I want t-to...um...more...b-but...” he trailed off when he felt Shinomiya’s hand on his face, thumb slowly stroking his cheek bone.

“We can try something new, if you like,” Shinomiya said and kissed his cheek. “Whenever we’re both ready.”

Takuto swallowed loudly, “um...” he mumbled. “Can um...can I try...” but instead of finishing his words he cut himself off by gulping his drink. Some tropical juice blend Shinomiya wanted to try and they’d ended up sharing.

“Hmm? What do you want?” Shinomiya asked with the patient smile that came naturally for Takuto.

“Um...”

It was an embarrassing question, worse to answer, but Shinomiya meant it sincerely.

 

Takuto twisted his hands around each other, his stomach felt like it was knotting up. Shinomiya reached out for him again, replacing his hand on Takuto’s face.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

“I...I c-can’t...” Takuto stuttered.

“Can’t?”

“I can’t...um...I can’t say it.”

“Something you want to try?” Shinomiya guessed.

Takuto looked down and nodded.

“Are you worried?” Shinomiya asked.

“I...I don’t think so,” Takuto answered.

“Do you trust me?”

Takuto nodded.

“And you know I trust you?”

Another nod.

“Then isn’t it fine?”

“You really trust me?” Takuto whispered.

Shinomiya kissed his lips softly before answering, “I do.”

Takuto bit his lip and looked down, then up at Shinomiya again, “can I go down on you?”

 

It was something Shinomiya’d heard the older boys mention before, though they spoke crudely and he didn’t always understand even if he’d cared to. Was Takuto asking to...

“W-what?” he stuttered.

Takuto looked suddenly afraid, “s-sorry! Just forget I-”

“No, it’s not that,” Shinomiya said hurriedly, he moved his hand back to hold Takuto’s again and looked sheepishly at him. “I just...I think I do but I’m not sure I know what it means,” he admitted.

Takuto and Shinomiya both were turning pink from embarrassment.

“It um...it means...u-um,” Takuto fumbled.
If only he could just show Shinomiya instead, but Shinomiya hadn’t said yes yet. Though he was looking at Takuto so very patiently, as always, he was even starting to move to clean up their napkins and containers.

“It’s k-kissing...” Takuto tried again. “Um..all the way...down and...then using m-my mouth...to-”

“Okay,” Shinomiya interrupted, saving his boyfriend any more painful (though valiant) attempts to explain. He’d probably understand better once he let Takuto do whatever it was.

 

Takuto blinked at him.

Okay .

Just like that he was going to go down on him, or try at least.

“Um...lay back on the bed?” Takuto said timidly.

Shinomiya kissed him again before he rose, “you’re sure?” he asked.

“Yeah. Are you?”

“Yes.”

Without anything else to the exchange, Shinomiya went over to Takuto’s bed and laid himself over it, trying not to think. He seemed so casual about it from Takuto’s perception. Takuto gulped and followed him, climbing over Shinomiya once he had situated himself. Takuto found himself nervous but determined, seated between Shinomiya’s legs with Shinomiya smiling calmly up at him. He brought one of his hands to Shinomiya’s shirt collar.

“Um...” he said, with another nervous gulp, “can I open your shirt?”

Shinomiya’s answer was to bring both of Takuto’s hands to the first button, he stalled a moment and echoed his boyfriend’s habit of biting his lip.

“Hm?” Takuto looked at him with concern because Shinomiya rarely looked nervous. “Do you not want to?” he asked.

“No it’s...kiss me first?”

 

The vulnerability Shinomiya showed urged Takuto to gasp and smile and laugh and kiss and hold him and be held by him all at once. Shinomiya was his rock, steadying his current-like emotions. Shinomiya was the strong one and maybe it should have frightened Takuto to see evidence that Shinomiya too, was human. Instead though, Takuto treasured the little glimpse. He framed Shinomiya’s face with his hands, leaning forward to kiss him warmly. As Shinomiya kissed him back Takuto’s hands slipped down to start unbuttoning his shirt, his movement was slow but not particularly graceful. He had no need to rush when the most amazing person to ever happen to him was under him, dragging their kisses out with languid enjoyment.  

 

Takuto’s kisses began to move lower, a few, slow and tender against Shinomiya’s throat, down to his collarbone and onto Shinomiya’s chest that he was slowly exposing as he parted Shinomiya’s shirt.

“Shinomiya,” he breathed, just barely audible.

Shinomiya’s hand brushed Takuto’s hair as archer reached out. He tangled his fingers in the soft locks trying to be gentle about it. Shinomiya felt very conscious right then, a bit too conscious of everything actually, Takuto’s fingers splaying over his skin and how soft and just slightly chapped Takuto’s lips were. Takuto’s mouth went lower, stopping at the hem of Shinomiya’s pants, tentative hand at his belt and Takuto’s timid question of an expression (of course, accompanied by that endearing lip biting habit,) was enough to bring Shinomiya the realization of what his boyfriend had been trying to ask. So...it wasn’t only literal “down.” It went somewhere. The hand in Takuto’s hair caressed it as Shinomiya met Takuto’s gaze. “Takuto...you, you don’t have to force yourself,” he said.

“I..I want t-to...to...try,” Takuto stuttered.

Shinomiya nodded and lay his head back again, I should shut up now , he thought. The feeling of hands undoing his belt made the beating in his veins heighten, he tried to breathe deeply and stay calm but found it hard as Takuto’s tongue ran up from the hem of his pants, dipped into his navel and didn’t stop until his sternum. What a sweet tongue, adoring him just as much as its owner.

 

“Love you,” Takuto breathed, easing Shinomiya’s pants and briefs down enough to expose his hip bones.

Vaguely, Shinomiya realized that his belt was undone as the sound of his pants zipper called his attention.

Takuto was still leaving those soft kisses on his hips, the very tops of his thighs and pelvis. He stifled the urge to jolt as Takuto kissed his erection through his briefs. The sudden and sensation of pleasure was teasing and very new to him. Of course, as he’d never even imagined doing this with someone, or letting someone do this to him.

 

Shinomiya was thicker if shorter than himself, Takuto realized upon freeing it. He wasn’t exactly sure how he was going to fit that all in his mouth, not that it would stop him from trying to give Shinomiya ecstasy. He kissed the side before running his tongue from head to base and found himself earnestly happy at the moan it pulled from the boy under him. He repeated the action on the underside and then again when Shinomiya let out quiet pleasured sounds. Be gentle , Takuto reminded himself, he’s never done this before...not like I have either exactly .

 

When Shinomiya was panting just slightly Takuto switched his attention to the tip, running his tongue back and forth over the slit and trying to ignore the taste of pre-come that he couldn’t place as either sweet or salty or something else. With as worked up as Shinomiya seemed already Takuto decided to take what he could in his mouth a little at a time, it wasn’t exactly comfortable but that didn’t make him want it less.

Shinomiya’s pants had become less steady, he clawed at the sheet with his free hand and choked on a cry as he felt Takuto swallow around him, the sound rewarded with a repetition which made it even harder to stay coherent. Had he been less caught up in the feeling, Shinomiya might have let his prudence lead him to embarrassment but at the moment all he could think about was Takuto’s hands and mouth and tongue, on him, around him.

 

He clutched at the hair in his hand and barely registered the soft whine that accompanied it as sounds he would’ve been mortified to realize were from himself tumbled out. When Shinomiya spilled himself and cried out Takuto pulled away as quickly as he could, coughing slightly and wiping his mouth. But the sight of Shinomiya, a panting mess made all of Takuto’s worries of no consequence. Despite the taste in his mouth his expression was full of love as he reached to caress Shinomiya’s face, dizzied and pleasured looking. As he came off of his high Shinomiya realized that Takuto was wiping him off. As he blinked his way to alertness Shinomiya moved to wipe a smear from Takuto’s chin and realized to his re-mortification that it was his own come.

“Takuto! I’m sorry!” he said quickly.

But Takuto only smiled at him, “It’s okay, if it’s Shinomiya.”

Shinomiya kissed him and then made an expression of distaste, “you...you swallowed that? I’m sorry.”

Takuto shook his head, “mostly not, but it’s okay.”

Takuto avoided mentioning his coughing fit or the mild gagging or his own dislike of the taste. He reached down to re-zip Shinomiya’s pants making the archer notice that Takuto had gotten his pants back onto him properly. He stopped himself from keeping Takuto when the artist went to the bathroom, but grasped for his wrist when he came back and pulled Takuto to himself to wrap him in a hug. In response, Takuto clambered the rest of the way on to the bed and snuggled into him.

“Mm, love you,” Takuto sighed happily.

Shinomiya kissed his forehead, “I love you too.” he said, still breathless.

Chapter Text

As school started again Takuto tried not to feel overwhelmed and Shinomiya tried not to accept that he’d chosen an overwhelming workload. Only twice in the last few days had the student council met but they would soon be doing so more often. This was a fresh start with the current regime in place and it even if it was mostly straightened out under Niwa’s vision of empowerment for the student body, they had a great deal to keep up with.

 

“Are you meeting more new students for breakfast again?” Takuto asked one morning.
As he had suggested they had gone back to sleeping in their respective rooms once classes began, but Takuto was always waiting for Shinomiya before breakfast or vice versa. The artist was not a morning person but he was motivated to spend whatever time he could with his increasingly busy boyfriend.

“I’m sorry Takuto,” Shinomiya said with a nod. “I’m trying to make sure-”

“That you know all the students by name, personally ,” Takuto finished, “I understand.”

Shinomiya brushed their hands together, letting the ends of their fingers touch as they walked.

“It’s natural isn’t it?” the archer asked, “the new students especially, they need someone looking out for them.”

Indeed, Shinomiya was a caring if strict leader. Takuto saw him with the new first year archers, his leader-like warmth unmistakeable. He was almost jealous. No, he was jealous, with the workload of Shinomiya’s higher level classes atop of his regular ones and his positions on the student council and Captain of the archery team, Takuto tried to be grateful for any time Shinomiya could spare for him.
That was why right away, Shinomiya had insisted they continue doing their homework together after classes, which often led to eating together in the evenings.

 

Shinomiya led Takuto along in the cafeteria, monitoring what went on the artist’s tray, (or that there was anything at all on it.) It wasn’t that Takuto hated eating, he knew, but he just didn’t seem to have the motivation or basic survival drive that most people did. Shinomiya hated to think about what might happen to Takuto without him. He shook his head slightly, trying to clear the thought and realized that Takuto had noticed his gesture.

“Ah no, it’s fine,” he said in response to the worrying look Takuto gave him.

Takuto nodded and continued following him until Shinomiya stopped, grinning. “Takuto, look, they have that lemonade you like.”
For Takuto, looking down while smiling bashfully had become habitual, signature. Shinomiya found it adorable and resisted the urge to kiss him presently. He handed him a bottle instead and wondered that it might be like to taste lemonade-flavoured Takuto.

 

It didn’t take that long for him to find out. They were in a stage of using every moment they could to steal kisses. When Shinomiya wiped Takuto’s mouth he took a split second, waiting for the agreement in Takuto’s ever so slight nod, to press their lips together. It felt entirely natural to Shinomiya to open his mouth when Takuto’s tongue slid (with practiced, if not proficient care) between his lips. He lost sense of all else when they were like this, all he could think or feel was Takuto. The artist dropped his arms around the back of Shinomiya’s neck and edged himself into his lap to press closer. Shinomiya let his hands roam over Takuto’s sides and back, stopping just before the hem of his jeans. He felt Takuto’s breath and mouth moving against his skin.

“Did you say something?” he asked when he realized Takuto had made very faint sounds.

Takuto kept his face buried in the crook of Shinomiya’s neck a moment longer and nodded. He didn’t quite show his face, leaving it blurred by his position and his hair when he muttered, “it’s okay.”

“Okay?” Shinomiya asked, confused.

Takuto adjusted to look at him, biting his lip but trying hard to meet Shinomiya’s eyes. He took one of Shinomiya’s wrists and led his hand so that the tips of the archer’s fingers crept under Takuto’s shirt.

 

Slowly, Shinomiya’s hand slid up against Takuto’s back, he savoured the feeling of Takuto’s skin, cherished the trust and readiness Takuto showed to allow this. Shinomiya had never even seen him without his shirt, let alone touched him. While his other arm was still around Takuto’s waist (as if the artist’s arms around his neck weren’t enough,) his other hand drifted to touch the front of Takuto’s torso. With each breath Takuto took Shinomiya’s hand moved with him.
He’s still so thin, the archer noticed. He realized that Takuto was staring at him, watching his expression. The artist looked tense but determined, he also looked caught in his desire. Shinomiya looked him in the eye, “are y-” and Takuto cut him off with a kiss. He drank Shinomiya in as if he would stop breathing without Shinomiya, and Shinomiya returned it with equal need. Both of his hands moved so that they both held each other’s faces close as if they couldn’t get near enough.

 

Takuto pulled away with a gasp just as Shinomiya’s phone rang.

Ryou ,” he said urgently, displacing Takuto from his lap as he moved to answer it. He sighed with relief a moment after checking the message.

“Is everything okay?” Takuto asked, trying not to pout.

“Ah- yes, sorry,” Shinomiya responded. “I thought it might be about Ryou but it was a message from Hanabusa-senpai. He wants to know if we could do a double-date next weekend.”

“That sounds nice,” Takuto said, trying to perk up a bit.

Realizing he’d abandoned his boyfriend, he pulled Takuto over to himself where he sat on the bed. He ran a hand into Takuto’s hair and with his other stroked the artist’s cheek with his thumb. “I’m sorry Takuto,” he repeated.

Takuto closed his eyes and leaned into the touch. Any of his former discontent was gone, soothed away by the gentle hand against his face. Shinomiya sure seemed to like doing that, framing his face like that, touching him gently like that. Takuto savoured it, that feeling of being adored. Why did Shinomiya even love him? What was so good about him anyway?

 

“It’s okay,” Takuto replied at last.

“Sometimes I worry too much,” Shinomiya said.

Takuto opened his eyes and leaned into him, “it’s okay,” he repeated.

“I’m very proud of him though, he lives in the present and tries hard not to let anything stop him, but I wish he would be more careful.”

Takuto felt Shinomiya’s heavy sigh reverberate against him.

“I keep worrying he will push himself too hard because he gets sick so easily.”

It was Takuto’s turn to sigh, he felt a bit jealous of Ryou, being another object of Shinomiya’s love and care. He moved to kneel on the bed, making himself taller than Shinomiya. The archer turned to him looking a bit confused but submit willingly when Takuto pressed a hand against his chest and lightly pushed him so that he lay back.  

“You’re a good brother,” was all Takuto said before giving him a ghost of a kiss.

Shinomiya let Takuto unbutton his collar and leave more kisses against his neck. He sighed happily and reached for Takuto’s soft hair which his hands were now so accustomed to.

“Love you,” Takuto murmured and surprised Shinomiya by licking a diagonal stripe across his throat. He reached to further unbutton Shinomiya’s shirt but stopped when the archer’s hand covered his.

 

“Wait,” Shinomiya said. “Um...”

“No?” Takuto asked.

Shinomiya turned on his side so that they faced each other, “Takuto...um,” Shinomiya forced himself to keep their eye contact. “That...what you did that time, with your mouth, do you want me too-”

“No it’s okay,” Takuto interrupted him. “You don’t have to.”

“You don’t want to?” Shinomiya asked. He was turning increasingly pink compared to Takuto’s somewhat odd calmness, the facade of which broke as soon as Takuto answered.

“I’m um...not ready yet,” he admitted. He bit his lip and blinked at Shinomiya. “Can we just stay like this though?” he asked. “For a little while?”

Despite that Takuto had dreamed of Shinomiya’s touches, he couldn’t reconcile his fantasies with his own body in reality. He’d look at his reflection and be afraid to show Shinomiya his imperfect skin, his scars, his gangly and certainly not attractive form. With Shinomiya’s hands under his clothes he could cope. He could enjoy the feeling of skin against skin while knowing that Shinomiya couldn’t see the truth of the body he was touching.

“Sure,” Shinomiya said and let him snuggle up close.

“Sorry,” Takuto murmured, the guilt edging into his voice.

“No, don’t be,” Shinomiya kissed his forehead. “I wanted to make you feel good too, so if this is what you want, this is what I want too.”

“It...it felt good?” Takuto whispered, starting to turn pink himself.

“Because it’s with you,” Shinomiya answered, “everything feels better because I love you.”

 

Takuto squeezed him and buried his face in Shinomiya’s shoulder. He made a squeaking sound, the muffled equivalent of a joyous squeal and tried to resist flailing. Sometimes he felt so in love he couldn’t take it.

Shinomiya smiled to himself and returned the embrace. He nestled his nose into Takuto’s curls and closed his eyes.

How did I get so lucky? Takuto wondered. “Thank you, Shinomiya.”

He wanted to stay like this, to never have to move out of Shinomiya’s arms. He felt safe.

                                                                          ---

Mornings were busy for Shinomiya, classes ran until afternoon and were rarely light in their workload. Afternoons were also busy, because most clubs met late in the afternoon the student council members were usually in the council office shortly after classes ended. Shinomiya was an ambitious and hardworking boy but there were times he certainly wished to take things slower and spend more time with Takuto and his friends. Takuto didn’t like being without Shinomiya either. He’d taken up walking Shinomiya to the student council office after classes, if only for a few minutes more together.

Shinomiya sighed and brushed Takuto’s hand with his own, “I’ll see you later then?” he said.

They would meet for dinner just as they had been doing, Takuto assured himself. He nodded and touched Shinomiya’s wrist in a returning gesture.

 

“Yo! Am I interrupting something?” Niwa asked, as clamorous as ever.

“Oh! Um-” Takuto gasped.

Both he and Shinomiya had visibly jolted at their trance being intruded upon.

“Just saying goodbye for now,” Shinomiya said cooly.

It gave Takuto a sense of awe to watch how composed his boyfriend could be, there were so many things to admire about Shinomiya.

“You wanna have your moment inside?“ Niwa asked. “I mean you guys are cute and all but you’re standing right in front of the door.”

Shinomiya was about to speak but Niwa pre-emptively interrupted by grabbing Takuto’s hand and dragging him inside the office, “c’mon in Iwai, don’t wanna make you lonely before clubs start,” he said.

“C-cute?” Shinomiya responded, following them in.
Their entrance had attracted a few looks from the other student council members, but being often one of the first to show up meant that only Nakajima, Saionji, and Shichijo had witnessed the scene.

“Niwa isn’t that too much to call a boy?”

Niwa just scoffed amusedly because he knew that Shinomiya agreed, at least about Takuto being cute. Shinomiya reached forward without thinking and pulled Niwa’s hand off Takuto’s, “just what are you thinking dragging Takuto in like that?” he asked, “we have work to do.”

Takuto looked down, “I don’t want to be in the way,” he said shyly.

That’s not what I meant , Shinomiya thought, he took Takuto’s hand in his own.

Niwa clapped a hand down on Takuto’s shoulder, startling the artist again and earning him a glare from Shinomiya.

“You’re not a bother!” he said enthusiastically. He looked at Takuto and his expression became serious, “Iwai, you are never a bother.”

In that moment, Shinomiya forgave Niwa, he even smiled a bit, “Takuto,” he said, “do you want to hang around for a while before art club?”

“Can I do anything to help?” Takuto asked in a near whisper.

“Well there’s always my homework,” Niwa joked.

 

“Niwa,” a new voice cut in.

Shinomiya didn’t have time to reprimand the president before the vice president did so himself.

“Don’t you have those papers to look over?” Nakajima asked.

Takuto looked at the floor, he wasn’t as unnerved around Nakajima as he used to be, but he was still very far from comfortable whenever the vice president was around. Shinomiya stepped in front of him just slightly, he’d taken up the habit of keeping himself between Nakajima and Takuto.

“Iwai,” Nakajima noted before he turned his wrath back to Niwa.

Shinomiya led Iwai over to the couch, “are you sure you’re okay here?” he asked.

Takuto nodded, “I can start my homework,” he said.

 

“Shinomiya-san,” Omi waved him over.

“Hmm, yes?” Shinomiya looked up from the budget papers he and the new treasurers were looking over together.

“Are you worrying over Iwai-san?” Omi asked, “you seem slightly distracted.”

“Oh, I’m sorry Shichijo,” Shinomiya apologized, “I suppose I am worrying.”

“You seem dedicated to each other,” Omi observed, his constant smile was a bit unnerving before you got used to it, but Shinomiya sensed a complex and loyal character somewhere beneath his surface.

“Omi, focus ,” Saionji reprimanded. “It is none of our business.”

“Yes, sorry,” Omi responded.

“It’s fine,” Shinomiya said casually, it’s not exactly like we hide it .

 

Saionji looked up at the clock, “we’ve been at this a while already,” he noted.

“Do you need a break Kaoru?” Omi asked.

Saionji shook his head, “I’m fine, but tea would be nice.”

Omi touched his hand ever so slightly as he stood, “I can do that.”

Shinomiya watched him from the corner of his eye, Shichijo, it seemed, was a bit servant-like in his relationship with Saionji, even if they addressed each other so informally.

 

“We’ll need to print this out,” Shinomiya said, “but I should double check what we’ve cross referenced.”

Saionji nodded, “I can print it.”

“Actually,” Shinomiya said, “would you look over it with me and I’ll send out the emails we need to if you’ll get the copies?”

Saionji gave another affirmative nod. They crossed the room to one of the desks with a computer, Shinomiya and Takuto’s eyes meeting as they did so.

 

“This printer isn’t working,” Shinomiya said. “We’ll have the use the one a few rooms over.”

“It will work fine, and we have Omi if we need,” Saionji said, looking over his shoulder just as Omi was returning.

Takuto stood to help Omi carry in the tea set as the treasurer handled the hot kettle with practiced ease.

 

“So Shichijo is good with technology?” Shinomiya asked.

“I suppose so,” Omi answered.

“I’m not the best, would you see if I’ve connected to our back up printer properly?”

Omi walked over to them and peered at the computer screen. Shinomiya moved out of his way and in a matter of moments, Omi had turned back to them, “done, it should be printing right now.”

“Thank you Shichijo,” Shinomiya said.

“I’ll get our copies,” Saionji said and left without another word.

 

“Would you care to join us for tea, Shinomiya-san?” Omi asked.

The implied invitation to sit beside Takuto wasn’t one Shinomiya was about to pass up.

“Hideeeee,” Niwa whined loudly, alerting the whole room just as Shinomiya sat down.

Nakajima rolled his eyes but didn’t moved from where his stood by Niwa’s desk, looming over the president and a pile of paperwork.

“Kaoru-chan even left,” Niwa whined, “but Hide’s making me stay.”

Nakajima rolled his eyes again. Takuto scooted closer to Shinomiya and looked up as the president and vice president left the room. It seemed that Shichijo and Shinomiya had noticed too. The moment Takuto snuggled closer to Shinomiya he frowned again as the archer stood.

“The computer chimed,” Shinomiya said and went to go check it. “Oh, it says the printing is finished, maybe I should go see if I can help Saionji.” He didn’t leave room for any other commentary and left the office.

 

“Shinomiya-san certainly likes to help, doesn’t he?” Omi said.

“Yeah,” Takuto agreed. Despite his previous whole sentences, he still didn’t find small talk easy.

Still, Omi took his verbalization as encouragement. The artist seemed terribly shy, Omi had noticed him in passing plenty of times and while the artist wasn’t cold he didn’t seem terribly friendly either.

“Mm- it’s sweet ,” Takuto noted of his biscuit.

Omi wanted to chuckle at how his senior seemed like a surprised child.

“I enjoy sweets but Kaoru thinks I should stay away from them, so we compromise on things like biscuits. Do you like sweets too, Iwai-senpai?”

Takuto looked up with a bashful smile and nodded.

Well , Omi thought, Niwa wasn’t wrong when he’d called Iwai cute .

                                                                            ---

Shinomiya paced down the hall with an efficient return to Takuto on his mind, he didn’t expect the voices coming from the copy room.

“I told you not to call me Kaoru-chan ,” Saionji’s voice huffed.

“Aww c’mon,” Niwa’s voice now, “y’know they call me the King around here, aren’t you too perfect not to be a Queen?”

A scoff, “ your queen, Niwa?” Nakajima’s voice.

Saionji was alone with Nakajima and Niwa; Shinomiya’s pace sped up.

 

“Saionji,” he said hurriedly as he walked in.

The three looked at him, probably not expecting to be found in quite their position. Niwa stood with precariously little space between himself and Saionji, where Saionji stood backed against the printer and Nakajima stood close at their sides. Shinomiya did not like the sleazy expression the vice president wore, in fact, he was starting to dislike Nakajima’s entire face.

“Shinomiya,” Niwa greeted.

Shinomiya acknowledged him with a glance before turning back to Saionji, “Saionji,” he repeated, “would you grab those papers and come back to the office with me? I may have made a mistake and I’d be glad if you caught it before we print another round.”

“Of course,” Saionji said, hesitant to turn around and expose his back to the president, but he did so anyway under Shinomiya’s watchful eye. Saionji was one who could take care of himself but the seniority, power and not to mention physical strength of both Niwa and Nakajima were their own force to be reckoned with.

 

“Are you two waiting for something?” Shinomiya asked.

“Another few things for Niwa to sign,” Nakajima answered cooly.

“I’ll see you later then,” Shinomiya said in farewell as Saionji joined him.

                                                                            ---

“That Niwa can be so irresponsible,” Shinomiya sighed when he and Saionji were alone.

“He can be difficult to deal with,” Saionji agreed.

“Shichijo and Takuto will be wondering where we are, I left them together with tea,” the thought of Takuto awaiting his return made Shinomiya smile.

Saionji caught his expression and made an educated guess, “I’m sure they know we’re fine,” he said.

Chapter Text

When they had concluded that days budgeting paperwork, Shinomiya and Takuto left for their respective clubs. Shinomiya was grateful they would at least have to leave the building together, just a few minutes more to be side by side.

“I asked Saionji if he and Shichijo would meet us over dinner, I thought it might be nice to welcome them,” Shinomiya mentioned.

Takuto nodded in agreement ,“okay.”

“Is that alright with you? Were you alright with Shichijo before?”

“He’s very polite,” Takuto said, not exactly an answer. “He seems to know a lot.”

Shinomiya chuckled, “I’m sure there is a lot we can learn from them.”

“Saionji works quickly,” Takuto added, “he’s so impressive.”

“Are you envious?” Shinomiya teased him.

“Yeah, I can’t work that efficiently.”

The self-berating in Takuto’s tone changed Shinomiya’s expression from teasing to serious.
“Takuto,” he said, “did you know Saionji is in all Ultimate classes? He’s smarter and more academically prone than any of us.”

Takuto nodded without looking up but stopped to face Shinomiya when a hand brushed his neck.

“You are fine just as you are,” Shinomiya assured him.

You are so perfect , Takuto wanted to say in answer. His voice caught in his throat so he settled for reaching out to indicate his need for contact. Shinomiya obliged him with one of the comforting hugs he was so used to.

“I’ll see you later then,” he spoke softly and left Takuto with a kiss to his temple.

                                                                            ---

“So you ended up inviting them to dinner?” Itori asked. So far, only he and Shinomiya had arrived at the archery dojo and were setting up.

“I thought they could use a friend,” Shinomiya replied, ignoring the slight scoff in Itori’s voice. That was just his personality, the senior didn’t really mean to be so gruff sometimes.

“What, they don’t have friends?”

“Well they don’t seem unpopular,” Shinomiya said. “But it’s been a few weeks already and I wonder if Saionji especially is the type who takes a long time to get close to.”

“So being Iwai’s mom wasn’t enough for you?” Itori teased, his grin was genuine though, if smirkish. “You’re even the archery team mom now and aren’t you dorm leader or something?”

“Only his assistant, but I’m not a parent,” Shinomiya said.

“Sure you are. Exactly who was it welcoming the first years just like a gente big brother?“ Itori rebuked. “You’re meant to watch over people or something, it’s what makes you a good club leader too.”

“You really think that?” Shinomiya asked, not quite bashfully.

“Yeah.”

“Why didn’t you want to be archery captain this year?” Shinomiya asked.

“I like being vice-captain,” Itori said simply. “You do all the hard work and I just help, but hey, I’m here if you need me.”

“Well, I suppose I am doing a lot,” Shinomiya conceded.

“Don’t let it mess up your aim,” Itori said.

“How could that be?” Shinomiya simpered.

“All that stress? So much to do, can you even still shoot?” Itori teased.

“Just who is it who can’t shoot?”

 

Only a minute or so later with three arrows sunk into the two center rings of a target in a perfect line, Shinomiya turned so that his self confident smile met Itori’s approving look.

“Yeah, you’re fine,” Itori said. “You looked real focused too, are you picturing shooting someone?” he joked.

Shinomiya didn’t answer, he even looked just slightly bashful.

“Wait...really?” Itori asked.

Shinomiya was grateful none of the other archers had arrived yet.

“Seriously Shinomiya? But doesn’t everyone like you? You’re popular.”

Shinomiya still couldn’t quite answer.

“Wow, someone must have really pissed you off.”

Shinomiya looked at Itori, “Niwa and Nakajima have been bothering our new student council treasurers,” he said finally.

“Is that all?” Itori asked. He sounded skeptical but didn’t push it. “Nakajima’s an ass anyways,” Itori added under his breath.

Shinomiya’s eyebrows raised, “what did he do?” he asked.

“What?” Itori asked.

“Did Nakajima do something?”

“Shouldn’t I be asking you that?” Itori responded, sounding slightly defensive. “He’s just an ass is all. Him aside, where the hell are the other kids?”

“We have just a couple of minutes left before anyone arrives,” Shinomiya said.

                                                                            ---

For Takuto, the afternoon seemed both to drag on and have vanished quickly. He was focused on an ensemble of sketches, new ideas he was trying to form for a contest. While he didn’t particularly feel compelled to enter contests for himself, it kept Kuganuma off his back and made Shinomiya happy that he seemed more confident in his talents. The pride Shinomiya would show on his behalf made Takuto feel conflicted though, he would worry more if Shinomiya did not seem to love him no matter what he did.

 

Shinomiya obliged him to no end and dealt with his neediness as if it were no burden. The least he could do, Takuto thought as he cleaned up, (right then anyway) was go meet Shinomiya instead of making the archer come to him. When he’d arrived at the archery dojo most of the others were gone and it looked like area was already cleaned up as well. He was ready to message Shinomiya when he noticed the familiar figure coming from the archery club room (which doubled as a pseudo-changing area.) The room was more like a very fancy shed by the range, but the archers were glad to have it given that it wasn’t too often there were championship finalists amongst them.

 

“Takuto,” Shinomiya greeted. He was alone, he’d already changed back into his regular uniform from the archery robe. Takuto had a moment of lament, if he’d gotten here just a bit earlier he might have been there if Shinomiya were changing alone. The idea alone and then the realization that it was his own terribly flustered Takuto.

“That’s quite an expression you’re making,” Shinomiya said smiling. “I am wearing clothing aren’t I?”

“Nnnh! It’s-it’s n-nothing!” Takuto stuttered.

How bold of Shinomiya, he hadn’t joked like that before. Shinomiya looked around quickly and when he noted the absence of anyone else hugged Takuto from behind, drawing the artist’s back against his chest and by habit Takuto relaxed into his touch.

“Koji,” he sighed.

He didn’t want to move, ever. That was how he always felt when Shinomiya held him. Shinomiya...Koji...

Takuto gasped and jerked out of his boyfriend’s embrace, surprised with himself. It was the first time he’d used Shinomiya’s name like that.  

 

Takuto ?” Shinomiya looked a bit surprised himself, despite knowing how viscerally Takuto might react to shock or embarrassment.

Or fear. And indeed, Takuto was frozen in place, facing him but not able to look him directly in the eye. His expression wasn’t one of anything obvious besides maybe distress.

“Takuto,” Shinomiya repeated. He reached out a hand to touch Takuto’s arm reassuringly, his expression soft. Relief washed over him when the artist calmed down and allowed Shinomiya to draw him close again and hid his face against Shinomiya’s shoulder.

“What was that about?” Shinomiya asked softly.

“Sorry,” Takuto mumbled.

Shinomiya chuckled softly, “it’s fine, is something wrong?”

“Your name...” Takuto whispered.

“Is something wrong with my name?” Shinomiya vaguely feigned indignation.

“I just...” Takuto mumbled, “I hadn’t said it before.”

“Do you want to?”

“I....I c-can’t.”

 

Shinomiya wanted to kiss the sweet, timid boy right then and there but they were already being rather obvious by the way the archer was cradling Takuto. He had a very clear weakness for the way Takuto needed attentive love.

“Alright my love,” Shinomiya finally responded, “shall we go back to the dorms for a bit?”

“We’re meeting Saionji and Shichijo for dinner soon, aren’t we?” Takuto asked as he moved so that they could walk.

“We still have an hour, I could help you with your history homework,” Shinomiya said.

Takuto smiled gratefully and took Shinomiya’s hand as they headed off.

                                                                            ---

Dinner surprised them. When Saionji said he would take care of the meals Shinomiya obliged him just this first time about not eating in the cafeteria. They met the other duo in a gazebo on campus, Saionji and Omi already had takeout waiting with them.

“Kaoru decided on Italian, I hope that’s alright with you,” Omi said politely.

Both Shinomiya and Takuto blinked in surprise. They were certainly not expecting Saionji to have gone this far, to buy takeout and treat them as he indicated.

“My thanks for your help with work today,” Saionji said simply. “And the invitation.”

“Yes, we were surprised you weren’t busy,” Omi added, “Shinomiya-san and Iwai-san seem popular.”

Takuto looked down and blushed, he smiled bashfully. “You’re not wrong about Shinomiya,” he said softly, “he’s very popular.”

“We brought dessert,” Shinomiya said, changing the subject. “Since Saionji said he ordered our meals.”

Saionji’s brow raised slightly in something that wasn’t quite skepticism nor indignation, but Omi took no measures to hide his glee, his smile spread wide and excited across his face. Takuto couldn’t help but appreciate Omi’s expression, it was a childlike smile that made Takuto’s own far more shy version brighten a bit.

 

The older duo had balked, just slightly, when Omi’s tendencies to serve Saionji became ever more prevalent. They had both protested when he seemed to be serving them all, despite how Shinomiya turned around and doted on Takuto. Despite the awkwardness (stemming from the fancy food and how unused to Saionji’s full display of his class they were,) the group soon found themselves in discussion about the student council. There were probably endless tidbits here and there to note and just how many loose ends did they still have from when the current council formed as of last year? Niwa was certainly a man of the people and certainly not a man of paperwork.

 

“That Niwa,” Kaoru sighed, he nodded before he bit into his flatbread.

Shinomiya was cutting the shrimp in Takuto’s pasta dish into bite sized pieces as he absently copied Saionji’s gesture. Takuto might have protested if he weren’t exchanging a glance of recognition with Omi at the similarities between the prim treasurer and the proper archer.  

“He certainly isn’t the pinnacle of responsibility,” Shinomiya agreed. “If he’d just pay better attention and not just work when it suited him...”

“Or learned to show respect all the time...”

Shinomiya and Saionji’s surprised expressions met in agreement.

“Well he somehow has the adoration of so many students,” Saionji huffed.

“He is charismatic and a good leader,” Shinomiya said.

“He is a bit lively and loud,” Omi added.

“But he wants to take care of everyone,” Takuto said, drawing all attention to himself which effectively flustered him within a mere moment. He looked at Shinomiya, trying not to show the helplessness that the attention made him feel. “Niwa like you in that way,” he added.

Shinomiya clearly had not expected Takuto to stick up for Niwa; but his expression softened quickly when his eyes locked with the shy boy’s. Shinomiya had to refrain kissing him then and there. He was finding that to be a very common annoyance, finding time and place was unsuitable to wrap Takuto in his arms and kiss him, or even hold him close and stroke his hair.

“Well,” Saionji said and cleared his throat (effectively bringing the heart-eyed duo back to earth.) “I suppose he may be good at his job, if only he were more focused on that.”

Shinomiya sighed, he couldn’t argue.

 

Despite their occasional discrepancies in expectations, (Shinomiya and Takuto at first finding themselves shocked and protesting that Omi took it as his duty to serve them and tend to Saionji, while Saionji seemed to take it for granted,) the group found themselves passing time quite easily. As soon as they fell into one conversation topic or another they’d adjust to it with little notice. Shinomiya couldn’t help but smile as he realized that Takuto seemed relatively comfortable and every time Shinomiya smiled Takuto would echo is with his own more bashful version.

 

Before they knew it the sunset was proving eminent and Shinomiya realized they shouldn’t dawdle with their own contribution.

“Lest I forget,” Shinomiya said and lifted a covered tray from the bag they’d brought.

“Oh, yes, Shinomiya thought we should bring this fruit tart,” Takuto said.

“It looks like a little cream pie,” Omi said, not bothering to hide the sugar-lust in his voice. “With berries.”

 

Saionji eyed the confection warily but said nothing as Shinomiya started  to cut into it.

“Here, would you care to choose a piece for yourself?” he asked, passing the remaining portion to Omi, who continued to look delighted as Saionji showed no inclination towards the dessert.

Shinomiya looked up from serving Takuto, “Saionji? Should we have chosen something different?”

”Kaoru doesn’t usually like sweets.” Omi explained.

“In moderation,” Saionji conceded, taking a small slice and then noting the size Omi had, “ moderation , Omi.”

Omi seemed a disappointed but didn’t protest as Kaoru cut his slice nearly in half, leaving still a piece no larger than Takuto’s or Shinomiya’s.

“Do you intend to take the whole rest of it?” Saionji scoffed.

“It’s fine,” Takuto said, “here, I have too much, Shichijo can have mine.”

“Takuto, no,” Shinomiya chided. “Eat it. Here,” he passed his own to Omi. When Takuto looked at him with a mild version of confused hurt he told the artist: “I don’t need sweets either.”

“But you like these,” Takuto protested, “and mine is too big.”

Shinomiya shrugged and took the piece that Saionji had confiscated from Omi. Takuto looked at him, still a bit disgruntled. He cut the end from his own piece and migrated it to Shinomiya’s plate. Shinomiya wanted to protest but suddenly couldn’t when he saw how happy the artist made himself. Takuto was smiling to himself and eating without a care. Well, maybe he could savour the taste in Takuto’s mouth- later that evening.

                                                                               ---                                                                           

As Takuto crawled into bed that night he let himself focus on the boy he’d just left. He pulled the blanket over himself and put his fingers against his lips, tracing where he could still feel Shinomiya’s against them.

 

Kisses, tender and cool, running down his throat and chest. He didn’t even care that his shirt lay splayed open, falling off his shoulders, his only imperative to lie back and take pleasure in what Shinomiya gave him.

That mouth scrawling unintelligible sweet nothings down his ribs, tongue at the junction of his pelvis and lips against his inner thigh.

“Koji...” he said breathlessly.

Those hands spreading his legs further, spreading him open.

“Koji,” he said pleadingly.

 

Sharp, toned abdominal muscles, curved biceps and forearms reaching for him. A kiss that stole anything he had left with which to think or breathe and left his mouth burning. It felt like falling, like suffocating, like something was holding him underwater but he needed more. More of whatever was smothering him, whatever he was pressed so closely to that he could not take in air.

 

Something warm around him, making him gasp and within moments whimper in pleasure. Shinomiya. Everything about him was pleasure. Everything about him burned and then cooled itself at once so that Takuto couldn’t begin to understand the sensations, let alone what to make of or do about them. He lay open to Shinomiya, with those deep eyes the colour of warm summer nights, of blazing violet skies, boring into his own.

 

I love you , was all he could think. I love you so much. So much I could scream. Or cry .
Those arms around him. That embrace that made him feel so loved, so wanted.

Koji...

 

“Koji!” Takuto gasped loudly.

The sun was not up yet but he would have to be soon to clean the still warm sensation that no doubt ran down his pants and onto his sheets. Surely, in a boys dorm...a dorm for boys...young, healthy boys, this was not a rare occurrence. Surely plenty of boys had to wash their sheets early in the mornings.

 

The memory of Shinomiya’s arms around him, pulling his back against that broad chest...he’d let it slip.

Koji ”.

So what? Shinomiya used his first name all the time. Why couldn’t Takuto do the same? Was it because Shinomiya acted parental towards him? He sure wasn’t Takuto’s parent.

“Koji,” he said aloud, testing it.

He squirmed where he sat and then grimaced at the sticky feeling in his pants, he would have to deal with that right away.

                                                                                  ---

“Takuto, has something been bothering you?”

Takuto looked at Shinomiya and blinked as he processed the question. He shook his head, “why would you think that?” he asked.

Shinomiya pushed aside his mostly emptied lunch tray and wished they were alone instead of in the cafeteria. He wished they’d gotten something more portable and taken it outside as they did on occasion. He wanted to touch Takuto, it seemed now he always wanted to touch Takuto. Shinomiya reached out and settled for placing one hand over the artist’s own.

 

“You’ve just been picking at your lunch, you’ve been eating less lately,” he answered.

“I just...I’m not very hungry sometimes,” Takuto said without looking up.

“You don’t eat enough when you’re busy or stressed, is your schoolwork too much to handle?”

Takuto threaded his fingers with Shinomiya’s, “I’ll be glad for summer break I guess,” he said.

“We have almost couple of months before then,” Shinomiya reminded him gently.

Takuto looked up at Shinomiya, “I’m glad for that too,” he said, just above a whisper. “I don’t want to leave.”

 

Shinomiya walked with him on the way back to the classrooms, still holding his hand. Suddenly he stopped, making Takuto stop short and make a noise of surprise.

“Shinomiya?”

Takuto ,” Shinomiya said urgently.

With a few minutes to spare to get to class and students walking leisurely Shinomiya looked around quickly and pulled Takuto into the bathroom. Despite the feeling clawing at him, he forced himself to stay composed enough to check that they were alone. What was this love doing to his senses? Not that he could be bothered to care as he pulled Takuto close and kissed him hungrily. Takuto too had noticed the slack he was allowing himself, as straight-laced as the archer tended to be. Though Takuto was hard pressed to care with the way Shinomiya was kissing him, making him forget he even needed air.

 

Shinomiya’s hands did not stray, he was obscenely calculated as if he’d been able to decide and stick to “ I must kiss him now, but only kiss him .”

 

The need in Shinomiya’s kiss made Takuto’s heart flutter at the same time it accelerated. The way they pulled apart gasping and Shinomiya pressed their foreheads together, Shinomiya stroking the side of Takuto’s face made him want to cry happy tears. Each little deviance Shinomiya allowed for him meant the world, meant Shinomiya loved and needed Takuto just as Takuto loved and needed him. Takuo dropped his face against Shinomiya’s shoulder and clung to him as his panting eased.

“We need to go,” Shinomiya said even as his hand stroked Takuto’s hair.

Takuto nodded dutifully, “I don’t want to be without you,” he said.

“It’s just going to class,” Shinomiya said regretfully, “but I don’t want to be without you either.”

 

Possessiveness and jealousy were emotions that Shinomiya considered unhelpful and illogical. If you trust someone, you trust them. If they are a person outside of you there is no need to control them. Protectiveness he understood and respected but he couldn’t quite reconcile these sensations. The feelings that spread through him when he saw Nakajima look at Takuto as if the artist were a chew toy which the vice president could discard as soon as he’d bitten through it.

 

He should have been happy that it was more common for Takuto to smile but instead, whenever the artist smiled for someone else, Shinomiya wished it were for him. He didn’t understand these feelings. He didn’t understand how he could miss someone he saw every day. Takuto had slept in his bed only a few times and hadn’t since classes started, a fact that Shinomiya found himself dwelling on a bit too often. Why did that matter so much? Wasn’t it fine? Besides, there was a curfew and everyone was supposed to be in their own rooms overnight. The rules were there for a reason, especially with the newer student council, they saw to that.

 

Though Shinomiya had to congratulate himself, the regime he’d taken on was tiring; helping the new treasurers adjust to the student council, taking care of the archery club, keeping his grades in shape it made him grateful that working for the dorm head didn’t begin until after summer break. Even with hormones and feelings running rampant, Shinomiya felt in relative control of himself. Relative. He still took certain liberties when he could, like holding Takuto’s hand often, or sitting with their legs touching in their seats on the bus ride into town.

 

It wasn’t like Takuto put up any protest either, in fact he indulged in Shinomiya’s affections which only made it harder to keep himself in line.

Pulling him into the bathroom, Shinomiya thought to himself, how careless .

Takuto looked at him and smiled his sweet, shy smile and softly knocked his foot against Shinomiya’s. He may as well have climbed onto Shinomiya and proceeded to stick his tongue down his throat for all the composition that sweet gesture stole from the archer. He had a sudden urge to push Takuto over and kiss him senseless. In their seat. On the moving bus. Where they were not alone.

Chapter Text

Hanabusa and Crash were supposed to have come to visit them at school, but when a sudden schedule change came up for Crash, Hanabusa suggested the other couple get off Bell Liberty’s island campus and come to them instead. He tried to occupy his thoughts with something else. Maybe he’d be able to talk to Hanabusa alone at some point?  Maybe that would help, he would have something wise to say, he had yet to steer Shinomiya wrong, he’d even tried to look after Takuto a bit last year.

 

Takuto found his shoes very interesting. Yes, very, very- no, they were boring. They were the same beaten up shoes he’d been wearing for a year now without a single spare set. There were remains of stains from various projects, some dark ink stains turning the dark brown leather into a color like long-dried blood. He should really get a new pair...eventually. However, his shoes were a much better option to think about than how nervous he was. He’d only been off campus that once last year, for his birthday, with Shinomiya. (What a wonderful birthday that had been.)

 

Takuto heard a phone chime and felt Shinomiya shift next to him.

“Oh, Hanabusa-senpai says that Crash will be late because he’s bringing our lunch. Having people treat us, is a bit...” Shinomiya sounded a bit remorseful.

“You’re humble,” Takuto said softly. “But you’re grateful too, it’s part of what’s great about you.”

Shinomiya smiled, “aren’t you thinking of yourself?”

Takuto’s hand tightened around his instead of answering.

 

When they finally got to the campus they found Hanabusa easily. Or rather, he found them. It was hard to mistake his cheerful voice when he called out to them.

“Senpai,” Shinomiya greeted, reciprocating Hanabusa’s bright smile.

“C’mon, I’ll show you where that great lawn is with the tables in facing the pond,” Hanabusa said taking Shinomiya’s hand (the one that wasn’t holding Takuto’s hand.)

For a weekend, there weren’t many people around, Hanabusa mentioned briefly that the lawn they’d chosen to sit at was right near classroom buildings so the area likely wouldn’t be very hectic.

“Aoi went to that cafe I mentioned,” Hanabusa said as they sat. “It’s close so he shouldn’t be too long. I’m sorry we couldn’t come to Bell Liberty though, how is everything there?”

As Shinomiya began to relay the affairs of the archery club and the student council, Takuto sat watching a dragonfly over the nearby pond, though still listening. He blushed when Shinomiya mentioned his accumulation of art contest wins.

 

“Oh? What’s this about a genius artist?” came a new voice.

“Aoi,” Hanabusa said, standing to greet him with a grin.

Crash set down the bags of food he’d been holding and ran a hand over Hanabusa’s arm as they took their seats across from Shinomiya and Takuto.

“So, genius artist, you were saying?” Crash prompted.

“I-it it’s really n-not such a big deal,” Takuto buffered, blushing. “Shinomiya is the impressive one, he’s doing so much right now and still helping me with homework.”

“But aren’t you entering that landscape contest?” Shinomiya prompted, overlooking his boyfriend’s praises.

“Well yeah, but you’re the one who’s balancing all your different commitments,” Takuto pointed out. “You’re really just so-”

Takuto cut himself off when he heard a small giggle from across the table. Both he and Shinomiya blushed as they looked back at the other couple. Crash was leaning against Hanabusa but they were both watching their juniors with appreciative looks.

“Shinomiya and Iwai are so cute,” Hanabusa giggled.

 

Shinomiya and Takuto looked slightly mortified. “Hanabusa-Senpai, saying that...”
“What? Shinomiya doesn’t think Iwai is very cute?” Crash teased, though he didn’t give Shinomiya time to do anything more than look at Takuto and smile rather embarrassedly.

“Aren’t I cute too, Hisoka?”

“Yes,” Hanabusa tapped a finger to the blonde head against his shoulder, “you are also very cute.”

“As long as I’m your favorite,” Crash said in mock solemnity.

“Alright, alright,” Hanabusa said, “c’mon now, we’re embarrassing the poor boys.”

Crash grinned at the thoroughly flushed faces across from him, “that just means we’re great role models, Hisoka,” he said.

“Sorry Shinomiya, Iwai,” Hanabusa sighed, though the way he looked back at Crash was still affectionate. “So you were telling us about Iwai being a genius artist, well, we can attest to that. The valentines painting you made for us was so wonderful.”

“N-no, I’m- I’m really not,” Takuto protested. “I don’t paint that much anyway.”

“Come to think of it, I haven’t seen you work with paint very much,” Shinomiya agreed. “But you do amazing drawings and carvings and designs in lots of other mediums,” he added.

“I just...I can’t paint now,” Takuto said, each word getting softer as he trailed off.

 

“Well good luck with your contest,” Hanabusa said.

“Not that you need much,” Crash supplied, “Looks like you’ve been lucky recently anyways.”

It took Shinomiya several moments longer to than Takuto to realize what Crash was implying. Takuto had frozen in his seat and Hanabusa elbowed Crash sharply.

“What?” Crash smirked, “I thought it couldn’t hurt to mention the condom bucket.”

“Aoi!” Hanabusa scolded, “if you’re going to go too far you can’t join us next time,” he turned back Shinomiya and Takuto, “ I’m sorry again.”

“We...oh,” Shinomiya said. “We...”

“No, it’s fine,” Hanabusa held up a hand to try and save him from the embarrassment, “why don’t you tell us more about what the student council has been doing instead? Me and Aoi spent most of our time with the previous council, so we mostly get to live this one out vicariously through you.”

 

“Niwa is a good guy,” Takuto said.

Shinomiya quickly recalled the moment of seeing Niwa and Nakajima corner Saionji and frowned.
“Niwa is a good president,” he said. “Or rather, he’s a good leader.”

“The President and Vice President sure do have a lot of influence, don’t they?” Crash asked. “Last year it seemed like the students were gaining more power and independence under them. Can they handle the power?”

Hmm, power . Now there was a concept that worked in conjunction with Nakajima.

“Nakajima does all of his work quite diligently,” Shinomiya said curtly. “Although all of the other members have a lot on their plates. So many things to keep up with on a constant basis since Niwa handed the student body so much control, at least over themselves.”

“Hmm? How’s that?” Hanabusa asked.

“Well we keep up with all non-personal student expenses, like club budgets but also things like what the cafeteria and school store will supply and what the students want them to offer,” Shinomiya said. “Thank goodness for our new treasurers.”

“I heard that Saionji Kaoru is an amazing student,” Hanabusa said. “I mean, you told me that, but that he’s an actual genius?”

“His academics certainly put everyone else to shame,” Shinomiya agreed.

“It’s kinda of intimidating,” Takuto admitted.

 

“Oh hey, Shinomiya,” Hanabusa said suddenly, “how’s your brother?”

Shinomiya smiled, “I’m sure Ryou’s getting himself overworked with school and all, but he seems alright.”

“Not causing you extra worry?”

“Not usually, he’s a good kid.”

                                                                                   ---

Msg from Hanabusa Hisoka : I really am sorry about Aoi, I told him he should have waited for a private space.

Msg from Hanabusa Hisoka :  but if you ever want to talk about that kind of thing it’s fine. I’m really glad we could meet up today.

 

“Shinomiya?”

“Ah, Takuto, sorry, Hanabusa-senpai messaged me, he’s glad we could meet up.”

“Oh, me too.”

Takuto turned back to the window, rain had started to fall just as they’d boarded their bus back to Bell Liberty School.

 

“Takuto?”

“Hmm?”

“Is something wrong? You’ve been staring out the window for a while now.”

“I like the rain sometimes,” he answered absently.

Shinomiya looked around before scooting a bit closer to him, looking over his shoulder at the darkening world outside. They had stayed out a fair while, including travel time. It wouldn’t be long before dinner by the time they arrived back. Takuto’s focus was intense, similar to how he got when he gave all of his attention to artwork. Shinomiya let him zone out, content with his presence so close.

 

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : I do wish we had gotten to talk.

Msg from Hanabusa Hisoka : you and me? in person? I’m sorry, that must have really caught you off guard.

Msg from Hanabusa Hisoka : is everything okay?

                                                                                    ---

Though they’d made a dash to the dorm and the rain wasn’t very heavy, both boys would need to change shirts. Despite that, they had both laughed as they held hands and ran.

“I’ll meet you in just a minute,” Shinomiya said before they each went to their rooms.

It took Shinomiya nearly no longer than that to change his shirt and hang his wet one so he decided to go to Takuto’s room instead of waiting for him.

 

“Takuto?” he called, the door was unlocked so he let himself in carefully. He stopped without even making it through the threshold.

Takuto stood with his bare back to the door, he’d gasped and grabbed for his shirt when he realized Shinomiya was there.

“Ah- sorry-” Shinomiya said, “I can leave if-”

“No, it’s fine.”

Takuto started button his shirt and turned around a moment later. His shirt dipped where he hadn’t buttoned the top few holes, that and the brief moment of his bare back was the most of his skin Shinomiya had seen so far. There was more Shinomiya had touched than he’d seen. He closed and locked the door behind himself, taking a step closer at the same time Takuto did. The artist came closer to stand against him and drape his arms over Shinomiya’s shoulders. Shinomiya in turn framed Takuto’s face and pressed their foreheads together.

Takuto ,” Shinomiya said, want gripping to his tone.

Takuto pulled him even closer into a kiss and whined into it. Shinomiya indulged for a few moments before pulling them apart.

“Takuto...can we talk? About today?”

 

Takuto tensed against him. Shinomiya knew what that body language meant.

Takuto gulped, “I’m sor-”

Shinomiya kissed his forehead to interrupt the apology.

“No my love,” he said. “I am. It’s me, why are you sorry?”

“But I...it’s my fault that-”

“How can that be?” Shinomiya interrupted again.

“When Crash said...about us...” Takuto said. “But I haven’t let you...I...”

Shinomiya kissed him again, glad he understood Takuto clearly this time, “I’ll wait. We don’t even know what we’re doing but it’s no good if we don’t both want it. I just want Takuto.“

 

Shinomiya followed quickly as Takuto dropped to the floor. He held him close and let the artist hide his face against him.

“I was just scared,” Shinomiya said.

Takuto looked at him, “you? Were scared?”

“I’m so selfish,” Shinomiya answered. “I want you, so much. So much I think I must be going mad and it’s all I can think about. Rules are important, I understand that, but I want to ignore each and every one that could come between us. There’s never a moment that I don’t want to be kissing you.”

Takuto looked at him in disbelief, “what?” was all he could manage.

“I’ve never felt this before,” Shinomiya said. “I’m scared I’ll hurt you or not pay attention to class and my work because of my selfishness.”

“But you’re not selfish,” Takuto said. “Shinomiya is the most unselfish, kindest, most responsible person I’ve ever met. If anyone can do anything, everything , it’s you.”

“Takuto,” Shinomiya said, “you are everything. I realize that sounds so foolish, I have so much else and I don’t spend enough time with you.”

“But Shinomiya spends all his spare time with me, always looking after me.”

”Because I need you,” Shinomiya stated.  “I’ve always been alright, no matter what was going on, but I do need you, I don’t have any way to not think that...I’m lovesick, aren’t I?”

“I’m sicker,” Takuto whispered and kissed him, “I need you even more.”

                                                                                   ---

Almost a week had gone by and Takuto still felt desperate to spend every moment he could with Shinomiya. He got excited just to meet him for lunch and dreaded parting between classes and their respective clubs.

Takuto was used to clubs or dedicated athletes or specialists of other kinds meeting on weekends. In fact, he was used to those dedicated students practicing every day. So when saturday morning classes ended and the weekend began he was not surprised that as he walked past the tennis courts that they were not empty. In one stood a figure with golden blonde waves and tanned skin over toned muscle.

 

Takuto noticed a few droplets of sweat shining on the boy’s skin and gulped as it reminded him of Shinomiya in a very similar position. In an instant, even with his back to Takuto, the boy reminded him of Shinomiya. Shinomiya with exposed skin and taut muscle, sweat running into the cleft of his collarbones. Shinomiya poised and strong just as this boy was emanating.

“That dedication is amazing,” Takuto found himself saying.
He wasn’t even sure he’d spoken, maybe he’d only breathed. But the boy turned around and his green eyes met Takuto’s own hazel and amber. They both stood in silence for a moment before the boy smiled wide and responded;

“Why thank you.”

 

Takuto hadn’t moved by the time he realized the boy had come around the other side of the fenced in court and was standing before him. He swept his golden hair from his forehead, exposing more sweat sheen, (hmm, it looked different than on Shinomiya) and showed a charming white smile.

“I’m Naruse Yukihiko,” he said, “and you are gorgeous.”

                                                                              ---

“Um, do you know who Naruse is?” Takuto asked suddenly. “Is he a first year?”

Shinomiya looked up from his breakfast, “Naruse...Naruse Yukihiko? I think he’s a tennis player?” he said.

“Yeah,” Takuto muttered.

“You know how the other athletes at this school make a big deal of incoming big-shot students?”

“Like they did with you?” Takuto said, mildly teasing, though whenever he smiled at Shinomiya it was sweet.

“Well Naruse is amongst the ones they’ve been talking about, he seems to be really something as a tennis player.”

“Oh,” Takuto said.

“Have you met him?” Shinomiya asked.

“Um...”

Well yes, but Takuto didn’t really want to bother Shinomiya about that. It had been only a few times that he’d seen the boy around or spoken to him. He could only hope it needn’t become anything more than that.

                                                                                   ---

“Hey! Honey!” that syrupy voice called.

Takuto grimaced as he left his last class, he’d taken to hanging around the student council office for a while before art club but the last two days his new...admirer had chosen to accost him beforehand.

 

“N-Naruse,” Takuto said.

“How was your morning, Honey?” Naruse beamed.

As flattering as it might have been to have a successful, popular and attractive boy take an interest in him, Takuto had only eyes for Shinomiya and quite frankly, Naruse’s methods of flirting were a bit too much for him.

“Fine, thanks,” Takuto said absently.

“I thought of you all yesterday and today,” Naruse said.

“I-I have t-to go,” Takuto stuttered.

“Again? It’s like yesterday too,” Naruse pouted. “Where do you run off to?”

“Um...” Takuto gulped,
Naruse moved uncomfortably close and Takuto wanted to be somewhere else, preferably with Shinomiya.

“I have to go,” he repeated and fled.

                                                                              

Takuto seemed rather frazzled when he scrambled into the student council office and took his usual spot on the couch. He dropped his school bag on the floor beside it and met Shinomiya’s eyes right away.

“Takuto?” Shinomiya said, looking him over.
The archer had turned to watch him as soon as he came into the office

“No, it’s nothing,” Takuto said quickly.
It wasn’t a big deal, really, right? No need to bother Shinomiya. Shinomiya nodded and Takuto watched him turn back around, noticing Niwa’s eyes on him at the same time. Then he felt Nakajima’s sightline follow Niwa’s, he didn’t like the feeling that Nakajima’s stare gave him. He restrained himself from squirming under it until he saw Niwa register them both and then re-capture Nakajima’s attention.

                                                                                   ---

“Honeeey!” came the now familiar greeting.

Takuto let out a long sigh for the fourth day in a row, he and Shinomiya came to the student council room from different directions after their classes, leaving Takuto to Naruse’s post-school day flirtations. He didn’t need to mention it to Shinomiya, he could just avoid Naruse and not bother anyone. Right?

 

Though it seemed Naruse had other ideas.

 

“It’s getting warmer,” Naruse said, “but you’re still wearing your whole uniform, and that sweater all the time. But Honey is handsome no matter what.”

Takuto blushed, he was not used to people taking this kind of interest in him and it made him unnerved.

“You know,” Naruse said, “we should go on a date, what do you think?”

“I- I- N-Naruse,” Takuto stuttered, “No, I can’t. I have- I’m-”

“What about the weekend?” Naruse turned around and spread his arms wide. “We could spend the whole Sunday enjoying the beautiful warm weather. It’s such a nice season, everything is in bloom. There’s so much to explore in town, or even around campus, we could-” he turned around, Takuto was not there.

                                                                                  

Msg from Iwai Takuto : I’m going to the library today, meet after clubs?

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : Homework and dinner?

Msg from Iwai Takuto : Yeah.

Msg from Iwai Takuto : I love you.

 

When Shinomiya knocked on Takuto’s door the artist pulled him inside quickly. Shinomiya responded with a delighted kiss that Takuto return twofold.

“Takuto,” Shinomiya breathed, he laughed softly and smiled against the artist’s hair. “I love you too.”

Takuto gripped two fistfulls of the back of Shinomiya’s shirt and whined.

“I wish it were the weekend,” he said.

“Hmm? Coming to expect to spend the weekend together?” Shinomiya said teasingly.

Takuto looked a bit unsure how to respond, he could be so sensitive, even to lighthearted teasing.

“It’s perfectly fine,” Shinomiya said and left a kiss on his nose, “I do too. I need my time with Takuto.”

Takuto held him tightly, “Shinomiya,” he said softly, “please don’t let me go.”

 

“Shall we do something special this weekend?” Shinomiya asked.

“Hmm? What for?”

Shinomiya sat them both on the bed and took a book and some papers from his school bag. “Just because I miss you,” he answered.

“Special?”

“Well, we could get homework done early and spend the rest of the weekend together.”

“You don’t have anything with the archery club or student council?”

Not that Takuto was protesting the proposition, he’d eagerly spend a day cuddled up to Shinomiya and resting.

“Just a few things. You could stay in my room Saturday night,” Shinomiya suggested. “We haven’t done that much especially with classes.”

“I can’t believe you even let me,” Takuto said, nearly a giggle. “Bending the rules, isn’t it?”

“The things I do for you,” Shinomiya said with a smile. “Like tutoring, c’mon, get your notebook.”

                                                                                    

The promise of meeting Shinomiya right after Saturday classes and spending time with him consumed and drove Takuto until the weekend. It left him light and happy and able to get through his Saturday morning classes in a better mood than usual. It was common for him to meet Shinomiya  right after Saturday classes because of their schedules being different than the full days during the week. Their last classes were closer together. He felt unnaturally carefree, to the extent that without thinking, he didn’t consider what way he was taking out of the building, or that he might run into Naruse again.

 

“Honey!” came the ritual greeting.

Oh no .

“Honey, I didn’t see you yesterday or the day before,” Naruse pouted. “Is everything okay? I’ve missed you.”

Takuto had to leave, he was meeting Shinomiya any moment now.

“I’m sorry Naruse,” Takuto said, “but I really can’t stay.”

“Oh, but Honey!” Naruse said, grabbing Takuto’s hands in his.

There was Shinomiya, leaving the building, walking towards them, oh no.

“What about our date this weekend?” Naruse said, looking up at Takuto with hopeful eyes.

“I said I can’t,” Takuto said, trying to be firm. “You’re nice but I’m not- I have-”
This had to end, there was Shinomiya and...

“You know,” Naruse said, “I said before you were handsome but you’re really quite beautiful. I know love can be intimidating, but I just know you can be brave too.”

Naruse did not seem to notice Shinomiya at all.

“N-Naruse, p-please let go,” Takuto said. He felt too ashamed to look at Shinomiya, he wanted to apologize to the archer instead of trying to pull away from the younger boy who held his hands.

 

“Naruse is it?” Shinomiya said, finally making the younger boy aware of his presence. Now that he was close enough, Shinomiya reached out and separated Naruse’s hands from Takuto, earning a frustrated frown from their junior.

“Excuse me, my Honey and I were just talking. I haven’t gotten to talk to him much all week so please don’t come between us.

“All week?” Shinomiya echoed.

Takuto looked at him with shame and apology in his eyes, the poor boy looked ready to cry.

“I- Shinomiya, I’m sorry,” he said, “I tried to tell him-”

“Takuto already has someone,” Shinomiya said firmly. “You are making him uncomfortable and you’ve been bothering him all week but he’s simply too nice to tell you to leave him alone.”

Naruse blinked, “oh, you do?”

“I...I...tried to...” Takuto trailed off.

“Isn’t it enough making him this upset?” Shinomiya scolded Naruse.

At this point, Takuto was trying to stifle tears of frustration and helplessness. He grabbed Shinomiya’s wrist and hung his head, letting his hair fall into his face.

“Oh, I didn’t know you had someone,” Naruse said, for all his density, the boy sounded sincere. “I’ll stop, I’m sorry.”

“Thank you,” Shinomiya said. “If you upset Takuto, you’ll upset his boyfriend too.”

 

At this, Takuto gulped audibly and pulled himself into Shinomiya’s hold. Naruse stepped back at the sight of Shinomiya’s arm around Takuto, quivering from withholding tears.

“Oh, I see. I’m sorry I’ve upset you,” Naruse said. He sounded a bit abashed, but calm still, “You tried to tell me...I can see you really love your boyfriend.”

The latter comment might have been to either of them. He didn’t stick around to clarify.

 

Shinomiya had been quick to recognize Takuto’s body language as stressed but he’d smothered how much it caught him off guard when Takuto cried softly against him. At this point, he didn’t care if anyone else saw and wrapped his other arm around the boy as well. He took his time and let Takuto calm down before leading him back to the dorm.

“Why didn’t you tell me about Naruse?” Shinomiya asked.

“I’m sorry,” Takuto sniffled.

“You have nothing to be sorry for,” Shinomiya said gently.

“But he...I tried to tell him but I just...”

Shinomiya gripped his hand tighter as they walked in silence the rest of the way to the dorm.

                                                                                    

“You do so much for me,” Takuto said when they’d finally reached his room. “It shouldn’t have been your problem.”

“You remember what I told Naruse, don’t you?” Shinomiya asked, “that if he upsets you, he’ll upset your boyfriend too.”

“My...my...boy...friend...” Takuto said, trying not to sound stunned. “My?”

“Isn’t that me?” Shinomiya smiled and laughed just slightly. He brought his arms around Takuto’s waist to press him close.

“Mine?” Takuto uttered, turning over the concept in his head.

Shinomiya laughed again at the sweet innocence in that voice.

“Mine,” Takuto repeated with more conviction. He dropped his arms over Shinomiya’s neck and kissed him.

“Mine,” he said between kisses.

It sounded like an echo of amazement fighting disbelief. Words of wonderment rather than possessiveness.

 

He dropped against his bed, pulling Shinomiya ontop of him. Shinomiya stopped as he balanced himself on hands and knees above Takuto. They looked at each other in mild curiosity. This was new. They’d not yet been in quite this position. Takuto gulped, his heart pounded. Something made knots curl in his stomach with the uncertainty of what Shinomiya would do and the uncertainty on Shinomiya’s face for that matter.

Shinomiya slowly leaned down to kiss him again and soon Takuto’s tongue was encouraging him. The artist swallowed around him and with a jolt it brought Shinomiya a memory of another time Takuto had swallowed around him.  Shinomiya jerked backwards and coughed, probably more flushed than Takuto was.

 

“Shinomiya?”

Takuto propped himself up a bit, he raised one knee between Shinomiya’s legs and his eyes widened.

“Oh...um...”

“Ah, sorry, Takuto.”

“Um...I can...do you want me to...help?” Takuto fumbled.

“Wh-what? Oh. You don’t have to force yourself,” Shinomiya said, no less embarrassed.

“I’m not forcing myself,” Takuto said as he sat up and wriggled out from under Shinomiya. His eyes looked Shinomiya up and down, analyzing, while Shinomiya tried not to agitate the discomfort in his pants. Takuto slid off the bed and to Shinomiya’s further shock, to his knees on the floor.

“Sit in front of me?”

“Ta-Takuto?” Shinomiya said, sounding stunned.

Takuto reached for him but didn’t move from where he knelt.

Shinomiya scooted to sit on the edge of the bed and let Takuto reach for his belt before stopping him with a hand.

“Are you sure?” he asked.

“Yeah, can I?”

“Yes.”

 

The sound of his belt coming undone had never seemed so loud, nor had the normally quiet rustle of his pants and briefs or even Takuto’s breath or his own heartbeat in his ears. It wasn’t even the first time but it had been a few weeks and Shinomiya had resisted pushing Takuto any further than the shy boy had initiated or said was alright.

 

“Are you alright?” Takuto’s voice floated above him. “Shinomiya?”

His vision came back into focus and he realized he was lying with his legs hanging off the bed and Takuto hovering over him, sitting on the bed as well.

“Takuto...” he said.

Takuto smiled, “good, I was a little worried. It took you a while to come down from that.”

“How do you do that?” Shinomiya asked before his sense has totally returned.

“Hmm...oh...I just...I just think about what feels good I guess?”

Shinomiya blinked, “you don’t have to for me, you know,” he said.

“Do you not want me to?” Takuto asked.

“It isn’t that...but it’s only me feeling good. I want to see Takuto feel good too,” Shinomiya answered.

“It’s enough for me right now,” Takuto said.

Shinomiya moved further on to the bed so that they could lay facing each other.

“But you know I love you, no matter what?” he asked.

Takuto nodded and curled into him, “mm-hmm and you know I’m yours too?”

Shinomiya kissed him, not caring that he could taste himself.
“What do you want to do this weekend?” he asked. “After homework, that is.”

“Can we stay here like this for a bit?” Takuto asked.

Shinomiya really couldn’t refuse him, “alright. Maybe we could go to the baths tonight, it might be nice to relax.”

 

Takuto suddenly looked very uncomfortable with that idea.

“What’s wrong?” Shinomiya asked.

“I’m just...I can’t,” Takuto said.

“Hmm? Why not?”

Takuto looked away then back to him, “I...I’m not..ready?” he faltered.

“Haven’t you gone before?”

Takuto shook his head, “my body...I...” he couldn’t seem to grasp words and gave up, looking at Shinomiya with a look pleading him to understand.

“Okay,” Shinomiya said. “You know, Naruse wasn’t wrong, before.”

Takuto looked puzzled, “huh?”

“You are truly beautiful.”

Instead of letting Takuto react in embarrassment or denial Shinomiya kissed him tenderly and ran a hand into his hair.

“It frizzes more in the summer,” Takuto said, touching the hand Shinomiya had in his hair.

“I wish I could see it,” Shinomiya said. “I wish I could always be with you.”

“Yeah, I wish I could just be with you all summer. I wish I could meet your big family,” Takuto said.
I don’t even like big groups, he thought.

“You should!” Shinomiya said, suddenly excited. “At least for a visit? You could come stay with- oh...it’s so far.”

“I can buy a plane ticket,” Takuto said simply. “I don’t use prize money for anything except more art supplies but mostly the art club has what I need.”

“I can’t let you do that,” Shinomiya said.

“Yes you can,” Takuto insisted. “Let me be with you?”

“Won’t your mother miss you?” Shinomiya asked.

“She actually goes on trips during the summer, I think,” Takuto shrugged.
He sounded a bit detached to Shinomiya, but the archer was caught up in his own excitement.

“Okay, we’ll talk to our families,” Shinomiya said.

 

Takuto grimaced but forced himself to think of the summer with Shinomiya which created an authentic smile.

“Will you be able to handle so many people in one home?” Shinomiya asked.

“You could just pack me as luggage and hide me in your room and keep me a secret,” Takuto joked.

“I’ll see if there’s a place you can always escape to, otherwise, there’s always my room,” Shinomiya said.

“Do you study a lot over the summer?” Takuto asked.

“Only a little bit.”

“Maybe we can together?” Takuto suggested, “It could help me get a little more ahead.”

Shinomiya kissed him again then sat up, “it’s settled then,” he said. “We’ll make it work”

Chapter Text

Though Takuto did not see Shinomiya relaxing as much as he’d hoped that weekend, he did see progress. The duo spent a fair amount of time on homework, but they sat cuddled up as they went over it. Shinomiya dropped absent minded kisses against Takuto’s hair or shoulder or even his fingers at one point when Takuto was intent on tracing his face. In turn, Takuto would snuggle closer or nuzzle Shinomiya back. Takuto really didn’t want to get up, even for dinner that night.

 

“Shinomiya,” Takuto said when they returned from dinner. “About tonight...”

“Yes?”

“I...” really don’t want to wet your sheets because of whatever lascivious thing I dream ...

But when Shinomiya touched him, framed his face with one hand, Takuto could only lean into the familiar gesture and follow him. If there were hell to pay, he’d already accepted the price. Even the part of him that wanted to beg for more had no voice against his satisfaction when he lay in Shinomiya’s embrace in the dark. It was rarely easy or comfortable to fall asleep given how prone to nightmares Takuto was, but on the nights in Shinomiya’s arms he felt happy.

                                                                                   

“Takuto?”

“Nnm?”

Shinomiya laughed very softly, “so you’re not really awake?”

“Mnn.”

Shinomiya laughed again in the dark and brushed his hand against Takuto’s face before giving him a chaste kiss.

“It’s okay, I’ll tell you in the morning.”

                                                                                    ---

“You’re going to call your parents after breakfast?”

“I mentioned before, didn’t I?” Shinomiya said, “that my mother suggested you should come visit us. I think they want to meet you. We messaged a bit earlier and she’ll be home today.”

“She’s a doctor?”

“Yes.”

“Why me? Shinomiya has lots of friends, you’re very popular.”

Shinomiya chuckled, “I get along with most people, that’s true,” he conceded. “But Takuto is most important to me and I think they understand that.”

“They...Th-they do? They...they know...”

“They know you are important to me,” Shinomiya repeated.

 

“Shinomiya...” Takuto sat next to him on the archer’s bed, waiting with obvious angst as Shinomiya was about to call home. He put his hand over Shinomiya’s, the one not holding the phone.

“Yes?”

“Shinomiya...I love you.”

“I love you too,” Shinomiya said without hesitation.
Takuto hadn’t met someone who said it quite as freely or frequently, but he wasn’t complaining. It seemed like nothing would be enough to express how Shinomiya felt for his boyfriend. But he was taking the next step, for sure.

                                                                                    ---

”Mama?”

“Takuto! You never call, what’s wrong?”

“Um...Mama are you planning another trip this summer?”

“What? Why?”

“I...Shinomiya’s family...um...I won an art contest.”

                                                                                    ---

“She said yes?” Shinomiya asked excitedly.

“Well she...”

(“ Fine, if you’d rather be there  instead of home. ”)

But Shinomiya IS home to me , Takuto thought.

 

“Yeah, she said it was fine.”

Shinomiya didn’t even bother to hide his look of I could kiss you right now . He considered the mere minutes he had until their next class and felt tempted to pull Takuto into the bathroom again. Dear gods, what was he going to do about these urges at home? Would his family be all over Takuto? Would that overwhelm his poor boyfriend? His family trusted him and who he chose to associate with but he wondered how much he and Takuto would have each other to themselves.

 

“Was she proud to hear about your contest?” Shinomiya asked.

“Um...I hadn’t told her about any before so she wasn’t expecting it,” Takuto said, avoiding actually answering.

“So what did she say?”

“N-nothing, I...she-”

“Nothing?” Shinomiya asked, looking puzzled.

“Um, I’ll see you later,” Takuto said and made an evasive maneuver of going to class.

 

Shinomiya was starting to realize Takuto’s discomfort whenever he had to speak about his mother. He didn’t talk about her, nor his home life, Shinomiya didn’t even know much about Takuto’s childhood. He would have to amend that. Or at least start to. Takuto didn’t talk about himself much at all, he would volunteer random tidbits now and again but most of what Shinomiya had learned about him, he learned by being by his side. He knew Takuto stuttered when he was emotional or surprised, he knew Takuto bit his lip when he was worried, he knew Takuto had frequent nightmares and a tendency to fidget and whimper in his sleep, he knew that Takuto spent himself and got stressed out very easily, let his health slip because he was too absorbed in something else.

 

Shinomiya thought it only natural to take care of him, someone had to, and who better than someone who knew how and loved him? He wanted to know everything about Takuto, he hadn’t even seen him without sleeves. Come to think of it, Takuto was still wearing the brown sweater Shinomiya gave him rather often. Not as much as he used to though, maybe the sweater had been a substitute. Shinomiya didn’t want Takuto to need anyone else. He wanted Takuto’s everything. He wanted to be Takuto’s everything.

 

He couldn’t be sure if it were his own riled feelings speaking or if there were true cause for concern when Takuto did not show up for lunch. He waited a few minutes and messaged him before deciding to get his own food. Not that he really could have eaten, something felt wrong, Takuto had seemed pleased that his mother agreed to their summer plans, but his boyfriend had tactlessly avoided talking about her. The topic of his mother or his home seemed to upset him. Shinomiya wondered if he had any other family.

 

“Yo- is Iwai studying again through lunch or something?” Niwa asked, suddenly appearing before Shinomiya.

“Aren’t you too worried about someone else’s business?” Shinomiya asked, feeling a bit jealous.

“Well he hasn’t come by the student council room much lately,” Niwa shrugged. “Is something wrong? ‘Cause he sticks by you all the time like you’re his keeper.”

“So you are worried about him?” Shinomiya asked, softening a bit.

Maybe Niwa had a sensitive side if he were looking out for the timid artist.

“Well yeah, he’s all moony over you and lost without you, it’s weird when you aren’t together,” Niwa said.

Perhaps the King practiced no tact, but he did seem to care.

 

“Excuse me!” a new voice called.

The King and Shinomiya turned to see Naruse jogging towards them.

“Naruse,” Shinomiya greeted politely.

“Senpais, um..King,” Naruse said back. “You’re close with Iwai-san, aren’t you?” he asked them both.

The second years exchanged looks of alertness, what serendipitous timing.

“Yes,” Shinomiya answered, “what is it?”

“I just saw him in the art room,” Naruse said. “He was on the phone, he looked very upset.”

 

The art room? Well it would be empty right now, wouldn’t it? A good place to have a private call.

“He seemed upset?” Niwa echoed.

Who would Takuto be talking to ? Shinomiya wondered.

“Well I was rushing to get here,” Naruse said, “so I only saw him for a moment, but I thought it would be a shame if his pretty face were tear stained.”

“He was crying?!” Niwa demanded, though he didn’t stick around for an answer and ran out of the cafeteria that moment, with Shinomiya on his heels seconds later.

                                                                                    ---

Wasn’t everything going so well? How had it come to this?

I think you should come home for break after all, ” it hadn’t been a suggestion.
Takuto had known that. And yet he’d argued back, he wasn’t even sure if he regretted it or was just upset. She didn’t need a reason, he was a minor, she was his mother. She could take from him if she wished.

 

I want to be able to see you, you don’t call, you don’t talk about your art. Isn’t our family enough for you?

 

It could have been valid, if she’d expressed any concern for him instead of her own hurt mattering the most.

But he’d hurt her and maybe he deserved to spend the summer without Shinomiya. Shinomiya made him forget, made him feel better. That was selfish of him, wasn’t it? But he did not want to go back there.


His uniform jacket was somewhere on the floor, his arm a mess of bleeding stripes and his vision blurred from tears and he slid the wood shaping knife in another line against his skin. A small voice in the back of his head knew this was no good, told him he’d been doing so much better and that it had been so long since he’d cut. But that only made him more of a failure, didn’t it? He had no power and all he could do was disappoint others. Why would he think he should get away with meeting Shinomiya’s family and disgracing the boy he loved?

 

Gods, why did Shinomiya even want him? He was so pathetic and needy. How could he be sure that Shinomiya hadn’t mistaken his...(brotherly? parental?) kind of love for romantic? How could Takuto be sure that Shinomiya wasn’t just being kind to him because it would be too cruel to leave him alone? Why did he let himself continue to trouble Shinomiya? Shinomiya who was so kind and gentle to him, who took care of him. He must have mistaken his feelings of friendship for love. Who could love Takuto anyway? Oh but how  Takuto loved him.

“Takuto!”

In fact, he swore he could hear Shinomiya’s voice, that was nice. His eyelids felt heavy, he felt exhausted from crying, both mentally and physically. It might be nice to rest for a bit...

 

“Iwai?!”

“Takuto!”

 

Oh...Koji...It’s Koji ...

Oh no. Gods this was worse than last time Niwa found him like this. He surveyed the damage Takuto had done and managed to remain more composed than Shinomiya. The archery captain was shocked at the pool of blood and horror stricken at the weak smile of Takuto’s tear stained face.

“Koji,” Takuto whispered.

Shinomiya was there, what a nice thought as Takuto’s consciousness waxed and waned. Then he might have been moving. There may have been voices. That was probably Shinomiya...the thought made him smile again.

                                                                                    ---
Koji ...

Something stung. His arm stung. Then it was slimy and hot and there was something constrictive. Of course, he couldn’t have formed that recognition as it happened, only felt their sensations. It would be a while longer before his consciousness became more whole. He groaned as he tried to turn over and realized that he was not in his own bed, or even on the floor of the art room.

“Iwai-kun? Are you awake?” the infirmary sensei asked.

“Nhh...Matsuoka...sensei?” Takuto said groggily.

Matsuoka pushed his thin framed glasses higher up and came to Takuto’s bedside.

“How do you feel?” he asked.

A very routine question.

“Um...what happened?” Takuto asked instead of answering.

“It seems Niwa and Shinomiya found you passing out on the art room floor. Will you tell me what you remember?” Matsuoka asked gently. He didn’t seem upset with Takuto but the artist couldn’t be sure it would stay that way.

Takuto bit his lip, “um,” and looked at his bandaged arm.

Matsuoka sat with a sad smile and tried to seem comforting as he waited patiently for Takuto to speak.

“I did that...” Takuto mumbled.

“Is something hurting you?” Matsuoka asked.

Takuto looked panicked, “n-no! I-I did that!” he said urgently.

 

Matsuoka helped him sit up and shook his head slowly, “I mean Iwai-kun, is something making you feel hurt that you did that to yourself? Because these cuts are too many for this to be an accident.”

“Sorry,” Takuto said very softly. He looked down, unable to face anyone right then.

“Does anything still hurt?” the school physician asked. “I had to put some antiseptic and ointment on it and your skin may be irritated.”

Takuto shook his head, not even paying attention enough to know if it were true.

“I called your mother,” Matsuoka continued, “ you’re a minor and under our care, so we have to.”

“No!” Takuto cried, he felt tears sting his eyes again. “No...s-she can’t...she...no...”

 

Matsuoka stood and left Takuto’s side to go through a cabinet but returned quickly when he saw his student worked up and despairing all over again.

“Nh-eh?” Takuto gulped when he felt a gentle hand on his shoulder.

Matsuoka didn’t say anything but his presence was affirming of Takuto’s scrambled feelings, or somewhat validating at least.

“Would you like some tea?” Matsuoka asked at last. “I’ll listen to you if you like.”

                                                                                     ---

Takuto watched the sun fade with an absent minded appreciation. He’d resigned to Matsuoka’s suggestion that he stay in the infirmary overnight so that the physician could examine him first thing in the morning. He didn’t quite register the knock at the infirmary door but noticed that Matsuoka-sensei had risen to answer it.

“He may still need a lot of rest to recuperate, so don’t push him.”

“Right.”

 

Takuto registered the words with his back to the door but they didn’t sink in until a soft weight pressed into the bed and a softer hand touched his arm.

“Takuto?”

Takuto turned to face Shinomiya who had a bag in hand.

“Shinomiya.”

“I...I brought you dinner. I figured you wouldn’t have eaten.”

“Yeah.”

Takuto still looked exhausted, his expression and body language bore little sign of the sweet boy Shinomiya knew. He looked drained empty, any emotions in him lay dormant because he was too tired to access them. The last face he had shown Shinomiya was that smile, terrifying in its tenderness on the face of a boy who lay passing out from exhaustion and bleeding.

Shinomiya tentatively touched his hand, (and the unbandaged arm) glad that he didn’t pull away.

“Please eat something,” Shinomiya said, trying to keep his voice steady, “please take care of yourself.”

Something flashed through Takuto’s face and Shinomiya could’ve sworn he glimpsed something like guilt, or maybe pain in his beloved’s eyes.

“Will you be alright tonight? You shouldn’t be alone,” Shinomiya said.

“I’m staying here tonight,” Takuto said.

“Do you need anything? Pyjamas, clean clothes? I can bring you-”

“Matsuoka-sensei already asked Niwa to,” Takuto cut in, still sounding blank.

“Niwa?” Shinomiya echoed, the surprise and hurt clear in his voice.

“Yeah.”

“Why? Niwa? Why...why didn’t you tell me the first time this happened?” Shinomiya said.

“Sorry, Shinomiya.”

“Why did-”

 

“Shinomiya-kun,” Matsuoka interrupted, “thank you for bringing Iwai-kun food. He needs to pace himself.“

Shinomiya nodded politely at the warning and stood, he looked back over his shoulder at Takuto, who at least met his eyes for a moment before looking away, biting his lip.

                                                                                    ---

Shinomiya wanted to cry.

 

“You said this wasn’t the first time?!” he'd demanded.

“Last year, when you were at archery nationals,” Niwa had said. “He cried and begged me not to tell you.”

“Why would he keep this from me? Why would he even do this?”

 

The memory of Takuto’s sweet smile, an expression Shinomiya normally would have welcomed waking or falling asleep to, haunted him hours later. It was like a goodbye, laying with a bloody arm and razor slipping from his grasp as his eyes blinked closed, but he’d been happy. At that moment when he saw Shinomiya, he was happy, resigned to whatever was overtaking him. Shinomiya thanked any god he could fathom that what had overtaken the artist was only exhausted sleep.

 

“Niiiii-chan,” Ryou drawled as the anesthetic kicked in.

Shinomiya smiled reassuringly and held his baby brother’s hand before the medical team carted him away to the operating room.

“It’s okay, Nii-chan will be right there when Ryou-chan wakes,” Shinomiya had promised him.

Ryou had given him a sleepy smile. He seemed to have lost any desire to fight the anesthetic, not that he would have won anyways .

 

“Ryou came back just fine,” Shinomiya said aloud. “He was fine that time.”

That time . Shinomiya was uncomfortably used to hospital settings by now, staying by Ryou’s side before a procedure or going with him to physical therapy or even the not-rare-enough hospital stays when Ryou  had a flare.

Takuto is not Ryou , Shinomiya reminded himself.

Gods no, he didn’t love Takuto in a very brotherly way, did he? That was not how he loved Takuto’s touch running over his skin, the feeling of Takuto’s tongue...he hadn’t known he could moan like that and certainly did not intend to for anyone else. Though it would be nice if he could make Takuto moan like that. Shinomiya gripped at his chest, gods, how he wanted Takuto’s everything .

                                                                                    ---

Takuto did not seek out Shinomiya the next day. He met the archer’s gaze when they passed each other and acknowledged him but didn’t move to close their distance any more than Shinomiya did. Gods, he must hate Takuto now with how Takuto treated him yesterday. Takuto couldn’t believe himself, no one had won. He’d lost his chance to spend the summer with Shinomiya, had he just lost Shinomiya altogether? Wasn’t Shinomiya the more assertive one? (Even if he was patient and waited for Takuto to make clear what he wanted.) But wouldn’t Shinomiya let Takuto know if he still wanted him? Did he understand now what a burden Takuto was? Did Shinomiya not want him anymore?

 

Shinomiya tried to occupy himself with work and extracurriculars instead of bothering Takuto. If the artist needed space, Shinomiya would wait for him, even though he didn’t want to. Even though every time he saw the artist he wanted to march up to him, grab him and kiss him until neither of them had any coherency left.  

Why had he done that to himself? Why had he kept it from Shinomiya? How could anyone with a good body possibly treat it that way?

 

It did explain a bit though; the bandages he remembered after their summer break last year, explained away with “accidents” Takuto had while carving. Any maybe it had something to do with why Takuto never showed his skin or always wore sleeves of some kind. Shinomiya badly wanted to find out and touch what was under all that clothing, but he would wait. It was no good if Takuto didn’t want to just as much as Shinomiya.

The day had been lonely without Shinomiya. Matsuoka-sensei let Takuto sleep in a little but he also let Takuto attend the second half of his classes after tending to his cuts and changing his bandages again.

“You know I have to keep trying to get in touch with your mother,” Matsuoka had warned him.

Takuto hadn’t looked at him but nodded silently all the same.

 

Takuto ate breakfast but couldn’t focus on the homework he had decided to spend his time on instead of lunch. A second day in a row in the empty art room, it might have been ominous but Takuto didn’t find it so.

Though it seemed Niwa did;

“Iwai!” Niwa cried, running into the room.

“Niwa!” Takuto jumped back from his seat where he had been hunched over his homework. “You startled me.”

Niwa blinked and realized what Takuto had been up to instead of what he had worried about.

“Oh, sorry Iwai. Are you alright?”

“What are you doing here?” Takuto asked, confused rather than rudely.

“Looking for you,” Niwa answered.

“M-me?” Takuto stuttered.

“Yeah,” the bear of a boy said, “you weren’t with Shinomiya so I thought something must be wrong.”

Takuto looked up at him earnestly, his lip quivered, he swallowed, “thank you Niwa.”

Bell Liberty’s “King” flashed his charming smile, “of course.”

Chapter Text

Shinomiya missed Takuto. He’d seen him a couple of nights ago but the boy he’d sat next to did not seem to want to be near him right then. Niwa was looking after him it seemed, that helped settle Shinomiya’s worries at least. Shinomiya didn’t understand it but he realized there might be a lot he didn’t know or understand about Takuto. He’d simply have to stick by his side and amend that.

 

“Yo! Shinomiya!” Itori called gruffly.

In his second year as archery vice-captain, Itori seemed no more gentle but also no less capable than ever.

“Where’s your shadow-boy, Iwai? Is that why you’re spacing out instead of setting up, Captain ?”

Shinomiya felt a bit embarrassed at how true that accusation was. “Something came up, I think he needs a little space,” he confessed.

“What?” Itori said. “No way! You guys had a fight?!”

“What? No!” Shinomiya denied. At least, he didn’t think they had fought. “He’s been spending some time with Niwa.”

“Oh, I see,” Itori smirked, “you’re jealous.”

Shinomiya frowned instead of answering and Itori’s smirk widened.

“You so are ,” Itori jibed. “Your baby bird’s all grown and spread his wings and got away and now-”

“I think it’s Nakajima who’s bothered,” Shinomiya said.

That effectively quieted Itori.

“Nakajima?” The dark red of the vice-captian’s hair fell into his face and made it seem paler than usual. “What about that asshole?” he asked.

Shinomiya’s brow quirked but he answered anyway; “Niwa seems to be taking care of Takuto at the moment and Nakajima is annoyed that it’s distracting him.”

“What from work?” Itori scoffed. “Isn’t the President, King, whatever, he’s a total goof-off. Even if he is cool.”

                                                                                    ---

“N-Niwa I can’t let you sleep on the floor, I can’t do this,” Takuto protested.

“That’s what you said last night Iwai- chan ,” the King answered, “and wasn’t it fine? I told you, humor me. I’ll tell you again, I’ll sleep on the floor after I already went through the trouble of getting an extra futon. Don’t fight me, you know I’ll win.”

“Th-thank you,” Takuto said in acquiescence.

“You said that last night too,” Niwa grumbled.

“I’m really fine- you don’t have to-”

“I’m just worried about you okay? Just pretend it has nothing to do with you and you’re humoring a friend.”

“You’re a good friend, Niwa.”

                                                                                    ---

Another couple of days went on this way with Niwa constantly checking on Takuto and keeping him as a temporary roommate. If any of the students could get away with anything, it would be the King of Bell Liberty School; President Niwa Tetsuya. It wasn’t as though he smothered Takuto though. He gave the artist space but sought him out a couple of times a day just to see him with his own eyes. Takuto had been half-heartedly poking at his breakfast one of those mornings when Niwa sat himself in the seat across from him. It was a small table, away from Niwa’s usual crowd. Already they were getting curious looks from the other present students.

“Hey,” Niwa said casually.

“Di-did I forget something?” Takuto asked, looking up. He and the King had only parted a little bit ago from Niwa’s room.

“Huh? No,” Niwa shrugged and started to eat as if nothing were out of the ordinary.

“You’re sitting with me?” Takuto asked.

“Yeah, why not?” Niwa answered.

“No, it’s...thanks,” Takuto said. They way Niwa was treating him was kind of nice, he would be lonely otherwise. Though he missed Shinomiya. Takuto and Niwa had parted with Niwa promising to “see ya later,” and the president held himself to that.
                                                                                    ---
“Niwa!” Nakajima said crossly. “You’re late again.”
Niwa sauntered into the student council room carefree as usual, “aww, Hide, did you miss me?” he smirked.

Nakajima glowered, he looked ready to punch the president. “Just shut up and get to work.”

Shinomiya turned back to the report he was looking over with Saionji, he might have brushed off the chastisement if not for what they overheard next:

“Tetsuya you need to stop babysitting that moping artist and pay attention to your work.”

Shinomiya tried not to show anything, he knew that Niwa was looking out for Takuto, he’d even thanked Niwa himself. Even if Takuto needed space, someone had to look out for him.

“Senpai?” Omi said, drawing Shinomiya’s attention back

“Oh, sorry Shichijo.”

“Is something wrong?” Omi asked, setting down the tea he had just brewed and retrieved. “Would you like some tea?”
                                                                                    ---

Shinomiya tried hard to focus on his archery club, tried to do a good job as Captain and leader to his fellow archers. No one seemed to notice his fidgeting emotions, or if they did no one voiced them. He tried to get through his homework and stay focused on that too. He tried to taste his dinner but couldn’t help his eyes wandering to where Takuto sat alone. He even caught Niwa eyeing Takuto from his own seat. Both the King and Shinomiya were popular enough that they could choose to be surrounded by peers who reminded them that they were well-liked.

 

But Takuto...Takuto sat alone and did not seem very enthusiastic about his meal.

Niwa ,” Nakajima hissed.

Shinomiya looked up in time to catch Nakajima looking incredulously at Niwa as the King rose from his seat and Shinomiya’s own brain ticked with the realization that Niwa was following Takuto out of the cafeteria. Suddenly, Nakajima’s eyes fell on Shinomiya with anger still luridly present in them. If looks could kill...

“Shinomiya, may I have a word with you after dinner?” Nakajima said, it did not sound like he was asking.

 

Shinomiya didn’t say anything while he and Nakajima finished their meals or when he followed Nakajima out of the cafeteria.

“Shinomiya you do know what’s going on between Niwa and Iwai, don’t you?” Nakajima spoke.

Shinomiya’s brows furrowed, “I know Niwa has been looking out for him,” he said cooly.

“And you’re fine with this new distance between yourself and Iwai? Or that Niwa has taken your place?” Nakajima scoffed.

“That’s not how it is,” Shinomiya said.

“No? So you intend to sit around while Iwai is in Niwa’s bed?” Nakajima asked, his expression going from his out of character anger back to his composed smarm. “I don’t think Tetsuya has been getting enough sleep, he said Iwai cries at night.”

Now that did ruffle Shinomiya, he cringed inwardly, thinking of Takuto’s tears and that he was not the one to wipe them away. It could have been true; Niwa could be careless enough to let information like that slip and Nakajima was harsh enough to use it. Takuto did seem awfully down whenever Shinomiya caught sight of him.

 

Nakajima misinterpreted Shinomiya’s pause and his smirk turned victorious. “You should really do something if you don’t like it,” he sneered. “The way I heard it, Iwai protested a lot but once he got into bed he didn’t fight. I suppose Tetsuya thinks the little artist is too cute.”

Even if he knew it wasn’t true, Shinomiya’s stomach lurched, “don’t be ridiculous,” he said, hoping his voice didn’t shake.


There’s no way Niwa would do that to Takuto. He might be a bit careless sometimes but he wouldn’t abuse someone or their trust like that. In fact, Shinomiya was trusting the King as well.

“Iwai is fragile isn’t he?” Nakajima said. “You should make sure he’s alright.”

 

Shinomiya tried to stay as stone-faced as he could while he turned on his heel and walked away. Nakajima’s ideas were misinformed and absurd but they didn’t change how badly Shinomiya missed Takuto. Maybe he should try to reconcile. Shinomiya contemplated how to reach out as he began his evening routine. He didn’t know what Takuto wanted or even needed but all he could do was ask.

                                                                                    ---

The tears came earlier than Takuto had expected, or rather, a feeling they weren’t far away. Truthfully, he had just hoped to abandon his dinner and go to sleep but Niwa caught up with him right away.

“Hey, you okay?” Niwa asked.

Takuto nodded slightly, “just tired.”

“You didn’t eat much did you?” the King pestered.

Takuto shrugged, “I wasn’t very hungry.”

Niwa, for once, had the good sense to stay quiet until they reached his room. “Why don’t you make up with Shinomiya?” he said abruptly as the entered.

Takuto looked startled, “but what if he hates me?”

Niwa laughed aloud, but then apologized when he saw Takuto’s further hurt and befuddled expression.

“How could that be? There’s no way Shinomiya can hate you.”

“But the way I treated him...what I did...I lied to him...I-”

“He’ll get over it,” Niwa interrupted. “It’s so obvious he misses you.”

“What if he doesn’t want to see me? What if he’s angry?” Takuto mumbled.

Niwa patted Takuto’s shoulder, “he’ll wanna see you,” he said reassuringly.

                                                                                    ---

Takuto bit his lip as he knocked lightly on the door to Shinomiya’s room. Must have been too quiet, no answer. Takuto let out a deep breath and knocked harder.

“Shinomiya?” he called.

He heard heavy, hurried movement before Shinomiya pulled the door open.

“Takuto?”

“I’m sorry Shinomiya, can we talk?”

Shinomiya reached out to pull him inside. He pressed the door shut behind Takuto without letting the artist out of his grasp.

“Takuto,” he breathed. “Can you tell me, did I do something to upset you?”

Takuto gasped and tightened his hold on Shinomiya, “no...no!” he cried. “I thought...I thought you were angry...I...I didn’t know how to...I’m sorry....Shinomiya...I’m sorry...” his voice was breaking and he felt his own hot, flustered tears on his face.

And then Shinomiya’s kisses chasing them.

“I’m sorry, Takuto,” Shinomiya said. “I let you think that. I was upset but I thought the way you acted that night meant I shouldn’t push.”

Takuto shook his head, still crying, “I...nngh...” Takuto tried to say through tears. “Sorry...” he said, managing to steady his voice slightly. “I thought...all you do to take care of me...but I still...I panicked when Mama said no all the sudden...I can’t...without Shinomiya...I can’t...”
He surrendered the rest of his words to soft sobs and hid his face against Shinomiya’s PJ tee. Shinomiya held him close and stroked his hair soothingly. They spent a good few minutes like that; standing, holding each other as Takuto cried. Part of the timid artist really was so childlike, so prone to tears. It made Shinomiya want to care for him all the more.


“Takuto,” he said with no purpose. He murmured the name against against the disheveled artist’s hair as he soothed him and began to leave gentle kisses against his hair and face when Takuto unburied it.

“S-sorry, your shirt,” Takuto said, referring to the tear-dampened spot.

Shinomiya kissed his apologies away until Takuto caught him back and reciprocated the kiss with equal want. “I’m so happy Shinomiya doesn’t hate me,” Takuto whimpered.

Shinomiya pressed a kiss to Takuto’s forehead, “I could never hate you,” he said. “I was upset but...it’s a little more complicated.”

“Hmm?”

“Well you know about Ryou,” Shinomiya said.

Takuto blinked, “your younger brother?”

“He tries so hard and gives everything his all, but he still has to deal with illness all the time,” Shinomiya sighed. “So when I see someone not taking care of themselves,” he touched Takuto’s arm, feeling the bandages under the sleeve. “Or hurt...” he held Takuto’s wrist in his hand and raised it and kissed the hem of Takuto’s sleeve. “I can’t help but feel upset. You should treasure yourself more,” he kissed Takuto’s palm.

 

“Only Shinomiya...” Takuto sighed.

“Hmm?” Shinomiya sounded.

“Only Shinomiya would say that to me,” Takuto said dreamily.

 

Shinomiya interrupted his boyfriend’s lovestruck daze with his own surprised chary.
“Takuto?  What do you mean only me?”

Takuto didn’t seem to understand what was puzzling, he still felt very happy. “Only Shinomiya would tell me to treasure myself,” he said obliviously.

“No one else?” Shinomiya asked, he didn’t understand why this didn’t seem to hurt Takuto.

“Why would anyone else?” Takuto asked, now also confused.

The gears in Shinomiya’s brain were caught, did no one else show this boy love? Actually, hadn’t he begun to sense that over their time together? Maybe he’d been to caught in his own lovestruck haze.

 

Instead of answering Shinomiya kissed him again.

“Would you stay here, tonight?”

“Can I?”

“Please.”

“Niwa will be glad to have his bed back,” Takuto giggled. “He’s been sleeping on the floor.”

It was silly, Shinomiya knew, to feel such relief at this new knowledge, but he did all the same. Niwa had indeed only been looking out for Takuto. He wouldn’t touch him, especially not when the artist was so fragile.

                                                                                    ---

“Why did you do that to yourself?” Shinomiya asked when they were snuggled under the blanket.

“Sometimes...when I panic or get too stressed and upset,” Takuto started. “Sometimes it happens and I don’t think about it and I wake up and realize what I’ve done.”

“Why were you so upset?” Shinomiya asked. “You were so happy before.”

“I was,” Takuto said. He nodded in the dark, “I was really happy. But my mother called.”

 

Shinomiya waited for him to continue. He rarely seemed happy when he spoke about his mother.

 

“She said I should just come home instead of going to Hiroshima with you and I snapped. We had a fight. I thought it wouldn’t matter because she wasn’t even home last summer break...and I couldn’t think of letting you go...I can’t...” Takuto’s voice was breaking again. “Matsuoka-sensei even said he tried to call Mama but he couldn’t get her.”

“I’m not surprised,” Shinomiya said, “if a student gets hurt, Matsuoka-sensei would have to inform their parents.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Takuto said, “Mama’s probably busy anyway.”

Chapter Text

Despite Shinomiya’s confusion and unease, he felt better with Takuto by his side again.

“Mnn,” Takuto slowly stirred awake and gasped in surprise when he realized where he was as his first sight was Shinomiya’s adoring smile.

“Good morning,” the archer greeted him.

Takuto kissed him briefly in response, “I’m supposed to go see Matsuoka-sensei again today,” he said.

“When?” Shinomiya asked and kissed him back in the same fashion.

“This evening,” Takuto said. “Um...would...would Shinomiya go with me?”

Shinomiya smiled wider, how could he refuse?

 

The reunited boyfriends spent their day in obvious bliss. While they still had some less pleasant realities to deal with, it didn’t stop the rush of feelings that being physically close brought. They even held hands more than usual as if four and a half days apart were simply more than they could make up for. Takuto did avoid the student council room that day, but Shinomiya didn’t comment, considering how he currently felt about vice president Nakajima.

                                                                                    ---

“Okay, you’re smiling like a damn fool,” Itori said that afternoon. “Your shy little shadow must be over the moon about whatever it is. I take it your fight is over?”

“I-it wasn’t a fight,” Shinomiya said.

“Whatever, you were moping and scaring the more observant club members,” Itori said teasingly.

“Er, sorry, Itori-senpai,” Shinomiya said embarrassedly.

“Geez Shinomiya, here, you’re the Captain,” Itori reminded him, “enough with this ‘senpai’ business.”

“Itori?” Shinomiya tried it out. “Hmm, Itori. Is it really alright to just call you by name?”

“I’m telling you it is,” Itori rolled his eyes but smiled anyway.

“Itori...”

“Okay, that’s enough, go back to being a happy sap.”

Shinomiya had no problem complying.

                                                                                    ---

Shinomiya was both nervous and excited to accompany Takuto to the infirmary, while Takuto was clearly just nervous. Why had he asked for this? He’d known it would mean letting Shinomiya see...but wasn’t that what he decided he needed to do to make things better? He had to be honest, more honest anyway. Too many secrets he didn’t like keeping from Shinomiya. Takuto swallowed and forced himself to breathe;

“Shinomiya?”

“Yes?”

“Um, after this, there’s more I need to tell you, I think.”

Shinomiya looked delighted. He stopped them in the empty hall as the headed toward the infirmary and moved to stand in front of Takuto. He looked around quickly and pulled them into the doorway of an empty room before framing Takuto’s face and stealing a kiss.

“I love you.”

 

It wasn’t until Shinomiya lead him by the hand back to their route that either of them spoke again.

“I was upset before because I- there’s so much I don’t know about you,” Shinomiya said.
He stopped them again right outside of the infirmary and took Takuto’s other hand so that he now held them both in his.

“I love you so much, but there’s so much I don’t know.”

Takuto bit his lip, “Shinomiya too,” he said. “I want all of you.”

                                                                                    ---

Matsuoka-sensei was sitting at his computer when the duo came in a moment later.

“I..I asked Shinomiya to come with me,” Takuto said.

Matsuoka smiled at them, “that’s very nice of you to come, Shinomiya-kun.”

They were still holding hands.

 

“Iwai-kun,” Matsuoka said, “I should tell you that your mother contacted me back, she’s on her way right now.”

Immediately Shinomiya felt Takuto stiffen against him. With his free hand Takuto instinctively reached out for the exam table to his side and shuffled to lean on it slightly.

“My...mother?” Takuto echoed.

“Takuto, what’s wrong?” Shinomiya asked.

Matsuoka nodded, “I told her you would be here this evening and she wanted to see you.”

“W-when?” Takuto managed to ask.

“I told her the time you were coming here,” Matsuoka said. “You can use my backroom for privacy if you’d like. Shinomiya-kun, do you intend to wait?”

Takuto squeezed Shinomiya’s hand like a frightened child, he was earning worried looks from the school physician and his boyfriend.

 

“Why don’t we examine your arm while we wait?” Matsuoka suggested.

Takuto nodded blankly.

“Do you want some space?” the infirmary sensei asked, subtly gesturing to Shinomiya.

Takuto pulled Shinomiya closer to him by the hand and shook his head in answer.

“Alright, sit down.”

Takuto took his seat and started to unbutton his shirt. Shinomiya had only seen him without it twice, once only his bare back, and once when he and Niwa found Takuto and Niwa left the artist in his undershirt so he could better stop the bloodflow from Takuto’s cuts. His heart fluttered when he reached to take Takuto’s shirt for him and Takuto reacted by handing it over and blushing gratefully. Or it may have been that even in his under-tank, he was showing more skin than he ever had intentionally before. He was trying so hard, the sweet artist. Shinomiya had to resist the urge to kiss the bare shoulder before him as Matsuoka unwound the bandages on the other arm.

 

Certainly, compared to seeing Takuto’s arm bloody and freshly wounded the scabbed over cuts were less horrific or dramatic but Shinomiya still winced when he saw them.

“They’re healing a bit slow, let’s keep an eye on this arm,” Matsuoka said. “Are you being careful when you shower not to get your bandages damp?”

“Yes sensei,” Takuto said meekly.

“I know it’s very difficult,” Matsuoka said sympathetically.

“I cou-” Shinomiya started to say, but cut himself off. Can’t exactly offer to help him shower that enthusiastically, can I ? he scolded himself.

“Um...do you need help?” Shinomiya asked, trying to seem neutral.

Takuto blushed profusely and looked away and Matsuoka regarded the archer briefly before turning back to Takuto’s arm.

“Does it hurt or feel tender?” he asked touching softly.

“A...a little tender,” Takuto admitted.

Matsuoka nodded again, “alright, I’ll add some more ointment and re-wrap it. Keep being careful Iwai-kun.”

Takuto nodded silently.

 

The physician stood and made his way to one of the supply cabinets. He took only a moment to leaf through it before sighing and turning around, but before he could speak to the boys, a new voice sounded;

“Takuto?”

“Mama?”

“Iwai-san,” Matsuoka acknowledged, “I’m glad you could make it.”

“My baby,” she said in some approximation or imitation of tenderness, leaning over to hold his face and make him look up at her.

“Hi Mama.”

“Is that all you have to say to- Takuto!” she cried. “Your arm! What happened?!”

“Iwai-san,” Matsuoka cut in, “I was just about to change Iwai-kun’s bandages,” he said calmly.

“Oh, of course, thank you sensei,” she said and stepped to the side where Shinomiya had also stepped back. She regarded him suddenly;

“Oh- are you...Shinomiya was it?” she asked.

“Yes ma’am,” he said formally. He had no idea how he felt next to this woman, not that he was conscious of that at the moment.

“Takuto is so proud when he talks about you,” she said. “He’s been so troublesome, hasn’t he?”

“Not at a-”

“Please look after him anyway.”

 

“Shinomiya-kun,” Matsuoka said, “I need to go find something else, will you help me?”

He looked at the Iwais’, “we won’t be long.”

                                                                                    ---

“Matsuoka-sensei?” Shinomiya asked as he followed him into what looked like a walk-in medical supply closet a short way down the hall. “Just what are we looking for?”

“I hoped we might find something to help Iwai-kun shower a bit more safely,” Matsuoka said.

He began to paw through a couple of shelves.

“Like a bandage cover slip, or a water resistant bandage he can put over it. But it also seemed like a good chance to give them a little time together.”

“He doesn’t seem to want to be alone right now,” Shinomiya let slip.

“Just a few minutes, Shinomiya-kun,” Matsuoka said. “We won’t be long.”

                                                                                    ---

“But why? Takuto why didn’t you tell me?”

“I thought you knew,” Takuto said, hating the way his lack of composure leaked into his voice.

“How could that be?! How could you do this?” his mother cried. “What if you hurt yourself badly and couldn’t practice your art anymore?” she said.

“Mama,” Takuto choked on the tears that continued to build and threaten escape.

“What if you couldn’t paint anymore?” she continued.

Takuto’s face was a sudden illustration of his heart sinking, “I...I t-told you! I tol-told you I don’t paint a-anymore!” he cried.

He sounded broken to Shinomiya from the hallway.

“You don’t want us to be family, is that it?” she cried, not to be outdone by her son’s own distress. “Fine, if you don’t want to include me you can go spend all summer in Hiroshima. Go ahead. I don’t care.”

 

“I’m sorry if we’re interrupting,” Matsuoka said charmingly as he and Shinomiya returned.  

Ms. Iwai gave an exasperated sigh, “I have to leave anyway. I said he was troublesome, didn’t I?”

 

No one said a word as she walked out but as soon as her footsteps began fading Takuto bent his head and sobbed. Great, hadn’t he done enough of this? Of being pathetic? Of letting people down? Of showing such uselessness and how weak he was? He was even crying too hard to apologize. It felt horrible and awkward to know that Matsuoka-sensei and Shinomiya were standing right there and watching him but he couldn’t stop and pull himself together.

Why am I so pathetic ? he thought.

If only he could just vanish. That might have been his ideal solution had there not suddenly been gentle arms around him, Shinomiya pulling him against his chest and stroking his back and whispering how it was over and he was there now and that he loved Takuto.

“Why don’t you stay with me again, my love,” he whispered when Takuto had calmed down slightly.

Takuto nodded against him and tried to breathe deeply.

“That’s it,” Shinomiya soothed, “deep and slow.”

 

Suddenly, Shinomiya realized that Takuto was still without a real shirt,  on instinct he pulled his jacket off and draped it over Takuto’s shoulders before remembering;

“Oh- do you want your shirt?”

Takuto shrugged but accepted it, though all he did was hold the bundle Shinomiya had folded it into and pulled Shinomiya’s jacket tighter around himself.

“If you’re feeling better, I can give you this to help with showers and you can go back,” Matsuoka said.
“It’s getting late anyway.”

                                                                                    ---

Despite the sunlight beginning to fade the two walked quite slowly back to Shinomiya’s room. Shinomiya closed the door behind them and took off his tie as soon as their shoes were by the door. When he turned around Takuto was standing by the bed watching him, jacket still over his shoulders.

“You’re treating it like the sweater I gave you,” Shinomiya said playfully.

Takuto smiled bashfully, “it smells like you,” he said.

Somehow it felt like neither of them were moving despite getting closer, it didn’t seem that either of them initiated their touches right then but rather that they were drawn to each other by an emotional magnetism. They shared a momentary kiss before Shinomiya placed his hands at the shoulders of his jacket where it hung over Takuto’s. Shinomiya’s calm hesitance asked and Takuto’s wanting expression consented before Shinomiya slipped the jacket off him. He set it half-heartedly hanging on the end of the bed and let his hands run down Takuto’s arms oh so lightly.

 

Takuto reached for Shinomiya’s collar and kissed him as he started to unbutton his shirt. The slow smoothness felt surreal as if it it must be the calm before a storm because surely another disaster was about to strike their peace. Things simply couldn’t keep running smoothly could they?

“Shinomiya,” Takuto breathed, “thank you...for everything.”

Shinomiya framed Takuto’s face as the artist’s hands continued undoing his shirt buttons.
“I love you,” he said before kissing Takuto again.

Takuto opened his mouth when Shinomiya did and let the archer explore as if he had never done so before. As if the feeling of their tongues against each other was a brand new craving to discover or as if Shinomiya had never known the feeling of the crooked teeth Takuto had further back in his mouth.

 

“I want to...to tell you everything...” Takuto said after breaking to breathe. “You deserve everything.”

With that Takuto grabbed Shinomiya’s face back and kissed him again as the archer’s hands tangled in his hair. Takuto might have stayed that way until they were both too breathless to stand, but instead reached backwards to fumble with shoving Shinomiya’s shirt off of him and Shinomiya had to let go of Takuto’s hair to pull his arms through the sleeves, leaving him in his under-tee. Takuto then reached down and put just enough space between them that he could look Shinomiya in the eye as he pulled off his undertank. They both stood breathless and staring at each other for what could have been hours or less than a whole second before Takuto abruptly pushed Shinomiya against the bed and wasted no time climbing to straddle his waist where he lay. Shinomiya sat up enough to pull off his own undershirt, dropping it carelessly before reaching out to touch Takuto’s bare torso as if for the first time.

“Is this okay?” he asked. “It’s the first time you’ve taken off anything.”

“Is...is it?” Takuto echoed, suddenly looking unsure. “You...Shinomiya...do you want to? Do you want me?”

“Yes.”

Shinomiya had not taken even a split second to think about his answer. He let his hands roam over Takuto’s stomach and chest, pulling sharp breaths from Takuto whose eyes stayed locked on him. Takuto wasn’t as scrawny as he used to be, but he was still rather thin, Shinomiya noticed. He ran his thumbs slowly over Takuto’s nipples then caressed him with hands spread flat over his pectorals and upper chest earning a small, open mouthed squeak from the artist.

“Ahh, Shinomiya...”

He dropped with his hands on either side of Shinomiya’s head, his hair hanging down over them. Shinomiya reached up to loop his arms over Takuto’s bare back and pull the artist down against him.

Takuto busied himself kissing down the side of Shinomiya’s neck even as Shinomiya rolled them over. He sighed with contentment;

“I like being under Shinomiya. I feel safe.”

 

Shinomiya held one hand against the side of Takuto’s face, stroking it with his thumb. The other hand moved slowly down Takuto’s side, making sure to caress each rib and the sensitive space under them and just above Takuto’s hips. Takuto gave a pleasured shudder and pressed closer so that their bare chests touched. Shinomiya’s hand continued to the hem of Takuto’s pants, just over the back of his pelvis.

“Can I touch here?” he asked.

Takuto bit his lip and looked away. Shinomiya’s hand stayed still as he waited.

“You don’t have to,” Shinomiya reminded him.

Takuto shook his head and made himself look back at Shinomiya. “Yes,” he said, unable to form anything else as words.

Shinomiya unfastened Takuto’s belt but left it where it was before his hand moved back and slipped below the hem of Takuto’s pants. He teased gently over the hem of Takuto’s underwear and kissed his shoulder before slipping his fingers past it and touching the top of his rear. Takuto tensed against him.
“Do you want to stop?” Shinomiya asked, sounding serious.
“No,” Takuto said.

Shinomiya resumed letting his fingers stroke slowly.

“No, I owe you so much , so please take what you want.”

Shinomiya’s hand stilled, he might have yanked it away instead of pulling back slowly, had he not thought twice and decided not to startle Takuto.
“Let’s stop,” he said.

“You don’t want to?” Takuto asked anxiously.

“You don’t have to, you can’t do this because you owe someone,” Shinomiya said, sounding pained rather than upset with Takuto.

“But you, Shinomiya has-”

“You never owe this,” Shinomiya interrupted. “You’ve already pushed your limits. I don’t need something you aren’t ready for even if you do want it.”

Takuto looked somewhat in awe.

“Besides,” Shinomiya continued, “neither of us are ready or prepared and we don’t know what we’re doing. It’s not like either of us have done this before, right?”

“Shinomiya?” Takuto said.

“Yeah?”

“I love you.”

“I love you too, Takuto.”

“Shinomiya?”

“Yeah?”

“Thank you...for everything.”

“Of course.”

“Shinomiya?” Takuto adjusted so that they were against pressed bare chest to bare chest.

“Yeah?”

“I know we have to change clothes, but can we sleep like this?”

“Of course.”

“I like this.”

“Me too.”

For yet another night in a row, Takuto changed into pyjamas, (or at least bottoms) in someone else’s bathroom and got into someone else’s bed. For the second night in a row he lay cuddled up to Shinomiya and safe in his arms. For the first time ever, he lay half naked against the equal bareness of the person he loved.

“Shinomiya?”

“Yeah?”

“I have more to tell you...tomorrow.”

Chapter Text

Takuto awoke slowly. He may not have found it in himself to keep his eyes open if not for the sight before him. Shinomiya was looking at him with a somewhat troubled smile. The archer lay on his side and had one hand stroking away the hair that had fallen into Takuto’s face. It was a habit of his to fuss over Takuto and Takuto enjoyed it, it was another way Shinomiya conveyed his love.

“Mnn, good morning,” Takuto said.

Shinomiya’s smile lost some of its worry and he thumbed over Takuto’s cheek.

“Good morning, Takuto,” he said.

“You look bothered,” Takuto noted.

Shinomiya nodded just slightly but didn’t speak. He hadn’t moved his hand from Takuto’s face either.

“What’s wrong?” Takuto asked.

Shinomiya looked into his eyes and stayed quiet for a long moment, he looked perplexed.

Finally he spoke; “why did you tell your mother that you don’t paint? I’ve seen you, a few of your pieces too.”

“I don’t paint for contests,” Takuto reminded him.

“Is that what you meant?” Shinomiya asked. “When your mother asked, it looked like it hurt you.”

Takuto looked away from Shinomiya’s face (with a bit of difficulty given their close proximity,) and bit his lip. Shinomiya let him fidget in silence like that, worrying his bottom lip with his tooth until the archer’s concern rose. Shinomiya slipped his other hand under the other side of Takuto’s head and turned him just slightly so he could kiss the artist’s lower lip.

“Stop that,” Shinomiya murmured.
Takuto took part in their kiss as soon as Shinomiya initiated a real one.
“It hurt,” Takuto said against Shinomiya’s mouth. Takuto’s own quivered and Shinomiya adjusted to look at him.

“Hmm?”

“It hurt...” Takuto admitted. “Mama...she...” but instead of finishing he shook his head and trailed off.

 

Shinomiya didn’t press, he kissed Takuto again very quickly and started to sit up.

“It’s only a half day,” he reminded Takuto, “are you feeling alright?”

Takuto nodded and got up with him.

“Shinomiya?”

“Yeah?”

“She did say I could go to Hiroshima though, she won’t want me bothering her anyways.”

Shinomiya cringed but tried to ignore it for Takuto’s sake that moment. After knowing this boy for more than a year he was only just learning how painful things were for him. He needed to know more about Takuto, maybe spending the summer together would give him that.

 

“What was it you wanted to tell me last night?” Shinomiya asked.

Takuto blinked and looked contemplative, then a gleam of recognition lit in his eyes and he looked away.

“Um, can we talk about it later?”

“Sure.”
                                                                                    ---

That day, Shinomiya’s need to hold Takuto close at every opportunity was worse than usual. Lucky for him, so was Takuto’s need to have Shinomiya hold him. It was clear to Shinomiya how fragile the artist was feeling and how delicate Tauto had always been. When their morning classes ended Shinomiya insisted they eat a proper lunch together, as he was  was not looking forward to having to depart his attention from his clinging boyfriend to attend his student council duties.

Takuto hadn’t said anything more than “I’ll go with you.”

He hadn’t been to the student council room much recently, mostly with his need for a quiet space and his short-lived distance from Shinomiya. Niwa was surprised to see Takuto, his expression all the evidence necessary.

“Iwai?” he said when he came into the student council room.

Shinomiya’s expression morphed into one of ruffled wariness as he watched Niwa drag Takuto into the hall a moment after the King had arrived in the room and spotted the artist.

 

“N-Niwa? Wh-what are you doing?” Takuto stuttered.

“I heard your mom was here yesterday?” Niwa asked worriedly. “Why now? Did something happen?”

“It- it’s fine,” Takuto said. “Shinomiya’s been taking care of me.”

The King seemed to relax a bit, “that’s good, are you okay?”

Takuto nodded but wouldn’t look at him.

“You look tired,” Niwa sighed but he let them both return to the student council room.

As usual, Niwa received some looks and raised eyebrows but mostly Nakajima’s disapproving glare.

“What was that Niwa?” Nakajima scoffed.

“Huh? Oh- with Iwai?” Niwa said innocently. “Just thinking...hey Shinomiya!”

Shinomiya had already been paying attention but Niwa drew his focus very easily.

“You should take Iwai to rest,” Niwa told him.

“Wh-what? I’m fine,” Takuto protested.

“You kinda looked tired all morning,” Niwa reminded him and held up a finger to hold off his response when Takuto opened his mouth again.

“Happy, yeah, but tired.”

Shinomiya pulled himself, Niwa and Takuto closer together to avoid making a loud scene, “Niwa,” he said in warning.

“What? You’re suddenly not worried about him just because you haven’t been apart?” Niwa said.
He sighed and in the next moment was herding both the archer and the artist back out to the hallway.

 

“Niwa, what on earth are you doing?” Shinomiya asked.

“Geez Shinomiya,” Niwa sighed, “haven’t I been the one looking out for Iwai? Isn’t that your job?”

“Wh-what?” Takuto meweld.

Shinomiya sighed, “you’re right Niwa. Thank you.”

“But I’m okay,” Takuto insisted, “Both Shinomiya and Niwa have taken care of me so it’s okay.”

“You’re not wrong Niwa,” Shinomiya said, he turned to Takuto, “yesterday was exhausting, wasn’t it? It’s alright if you’re tired, I told you you should rest.”

“You should go with him,” Niwa stated.

“The student council is already so busy and overwhelmed,” Shinomiya protested, there was no heart in it, just matter of fact tone.

“Iwai, will you really be able to rest without Shinomiya?” Niwa asked patiently (for once.)

Takuto looked down which made Shinomiya sigh. He reached for Takuto’s hand and gave him that signature look of patient love that made Takuto feel so much better.

“Look,” Niwa said, “I don’t know what happened yesterday, but Iwai, you look beat.”

 

Shinomiya looked Takuto over, slowly, carefully. He wasn’t sure how long he spent analyzing the boy before him but he realized Takuto was fidgeting under his stare. Maybe if they hadn’t been side by side so much Shinomiya might have noticed the difference. Why couldn’t he be more sensitive towards the kinds of things Niwa picked up on? Niwa of all people! The King was a good leader, a charismatic young man, but he frequently irked Shinomiya and Nakajima alike with his bluntess and tendencies to slack off when there was so much work to do.

Shinomiya sighed, “rest would be good for you, Takuto,” he agreed.

                                                                                 

That was how instead of student council duties, Shinomiya ended up on the bed, on his side, face to face with his boyfriend who lay pressed close against him. Like that, they shared slow kisses and affectionate touches without any of their common urgency. Shinomiya left another kiss against Takuto’s lips then the bridge of his nose and then forehead before nuzzling and sighing contentedly.

Their jackets lay over Takuto’s desk but other than that and their shoes by the door they remained clothed. Their afternoon would be for rest, Shinomiya had decided. Though the light was off in the room, though plenty sunlight poured in, an ideal atmosphere for their tranquil embrace.

“You should nap,” Shinomiya said. “The extra sleep would be good for you.”

“I don’t think I can,” Takuto responded.

“What’s wrong?” Shinomiya asked.

Takuo shook his head slightly, “no, nothing. I’m...” I’m happy, I want to kiss you, I feel guilty about what I haven’t told you yet .

A gentle tap against his forehead interrupted his thoughts.

“What are you thinking about?” Shinomiya asked. “You look perplexed.”

 

Takuto bit his lip and hid his face between Shinomiya and the pillow and murmured something that Shinomiya understood more as smothered breath than as words.

“Hmm? What was that?” Shinomiya asked.

Takuo pulled back a little, forehead still pressed against the archer’s shoulder.

“I still have to tell you something,” he said.

“And what would that be?”

Takuto whimpered slightly, he’d been trying to convince himself he was ready or at least force himself to be.

“When you said...last night...what you said last night...” Takuto started.

Shinomiya waited patiently for the artist to collect himself, when Takuto got like this Shinomiya learned new things about him or got to comfort his anxieties or sometimes both.

“What did I say last night?” Shinomiya coaxed.

“About it being the first time for both of us...that neither of us...before...”

Shinomiya waited while Takuto fidgeted against him, squirming backwards to look at him properly before the artist decided to sit up. Shinomiya followed suit and sat up to face him.

“Shinomiya?”

“Yes?”

“Will you keep me?”

 

“What?” The question caught Shinomiya off guard.

“Will you still want me?” Takuto rephrased, “even if things don’t turn out how you thought?”

Shinomiya took one of Takuto’s hands in both his own, “of course I would.”

“What if...what if I mess up?” Takuto half-whimpered. “What if I’m not what you thought?”

Shinomiya’s eyebrows raised but his expression was still adoring, “well what if I want all of you, Takuto?”

“Even...even if it’s not true?”

“Hmm?”

“I mean...” Takuto hesitated, “if I’m not...if I have before...w-with s-some-someone.”

“You’ve...wait what?” Shinomiya said.

Takuto gulped and pressed himself further, “I’m n-not...you thought I hadn’t done anything with anyone before....but I...I’m sorry.”

Shinomiya looked confused, “I don’t understand,” he said. “You have nothing to be sorry for.”

Takuto shook his head, “I let...I let you think that,” he fumbled, “sorry.”

“Takuto,” Shinomiya said, still confused but following how upset Takuto was getting himself. He let go of Takuto’s hands only to touch the artist’s face and cup his cheek.

“My love,” he said, sounding pained, “can you tell me what’s wrong?”

“I meant to tell you the truth last night,” Takuto said, “but I was afraid.”

“What’s wrong?” Shinomiya repeated.

“Shinomiya?”

“Yes?”

“Will you still love me even if I’m not a virgin?”

“What?” Shinomiya blurted, “Takuto of course. I wouldn’t do anything and then leave you. Is that why you were afraid?” he asked. “Because I’ll always love you.”

“You’re not mad that you aren’t the first?”

Shinomiya’s expression changed back to confusion, then surprise, “I’m...what?”

“I’m not...Shinomiya isn’t the first person I’ve done stuff with.”

 

“Oh.” Shinomiya paused and seemed to consider this. “I thought you meant- wait a second. When did...?” his eyes suddenly grew wider and accusing “Niwa?!” he gasped, “what did he do to you?!”

“Shinomiya no! It wasn’t Niwa,” Takuto said urgently.

He put his hands against Shinomiya’s shoulders in an attempt at a calming touch. “Please Shinomiya, listen. It wasn’t Niwa. It was right before I came to Bell Liberty last year. I’m sorry, Shinomiya, I’m sorry, I didn’t know you yet. I was afraid...I was afraid you wouldn’t want....” his voice was starting to break.

I’m such a crybaby , he thought.

“No,” Shinomiya’s anger fell, chased away by his more usual attentive caring. “Takuto no,” he framed the artist’s face and kissed him.

“No, I want you. I will always want you.”

Takuto whimpered and kissed him back, “is that what you meant before?” he breathed, “when you said you wouldn’t leave me? You won’t be finished with me after...when we...”

Shinomiya kissed Takuto’s neck, “never.” He pulled away again and looked concerned, “you know you still don’t owe me anything, right?” he asked.

Takuto bit his lip instead of answering.

“If we...er,” Shinomiya started, “if...we...made love, Takuto, I wouldn’t leave you after that. I want you not something from you.”

“I do want to, with Shinomiya,” Takuto said, “but I get so afraid. Because she...that person, she said she loved me but she left and never looked back.”

“That person?” Shinomiya echoed.

“Tori-chan...um...Itori,” Takuto said.

I-Itori ?” Shinomiya echoed again.

“N-not the a-archer- at home, there was an older girl who would take care of me when Mama was away. I’d known her a long time.”

“You had a girlfriend?” Shinomiya asked.

Takuto shook his head, “n-no...she, we were friends. She was going to go to college when I was going to highschool. She always took care of me when I was a child, I thought maybe she loved me, even as a brother or something. But when she left she never...she didn’t want me anymore.”

 

They settled back down against the bed and held each other close.

“I love you, Takuto,” Shinomiya said. “I’m not leaving and if I do, I’m taking you with me.”

“You are?”

“You’re coming to Hiroshima over break, aren’t you?”

Takuto lit up, “I am!” he smiled, he he hugged Shinomiya tighter and nuzzled him excitedly.
“I am!”

Shinomiya laughed and felt a new surge of happiness at Takuto’s rare outburst of excitement. They both knew that their every-moment-together bliss couldn’t last, they would have to return to their bustling schedules soon. But they would have moments together and then a summer together.

                                                                                   ---

Shinomiya was beginning to worry that he would be so consumed with his school work and extracurriculars that he’d hardly see Takuto until the break. Shinomiya’s tasks had swallowed most of his time as spring ended. Though he did make an effort to eat together, he kept finding the others would pull him away. Iin an effort to be near each other they shared their time whenever they could. It was at least better than when they couldn't see each other because of clashing schedules. That day over lunch, they sat discussing budget meetings they would need to hold before the break with the treasurers.

“You’re right about that, Shichijo,” Shinomiya said. “Certainly the archery club aren’t the only ones with a competition right after the break.”

“You’re going to nationals again?” Omi confirmed.

Shinomiya nodded.

“It’s not really all the club representatives I’m concerned about,” Saionji said. “But wasn’t the old Student Council in place at that time last year? This will be the first year they’ve dealt with this particular set of things like travel expenses under Niwa and Nakajima.”

“I’ll deal with them if you’re busy, Saionji,” Shinomiya offered. Somethings just didn’t sit right with him in letting the beautiful first year deal with those two by himself. Even if Shichijo seemed always by his side.

“I can handle them,” Saionji said noncommittally.


“Captain Shinomiya!”

Shinomiya and Takuto exchanged glances with each other then with Saionji and Shichijo who sat across from them.

“An archer?” Omi said absently, noting the boy who had called to Shinomiya.

Shinomiya looked a bit caught off guard, “I promised I’d meet him after lunch,” he said. He hesitated, “I guess I-”

A gentle hand touched his leg, “it’s okay,” Takuto said. “Saionji and Shichijo know what they’re doing.”

The treasurers nodded in affirmation and Shinomiya smiled apologetically before leaving them.

“Shinomiya-san sure is kept busy,” Omi said with the same subtly disconcerting smile he always had.

“Y-yeah,” Takuto agreed. “He’s popular and always working hard.”

“He does a lot, doesn’t he?” Saionji said. “Is he really going to help out the dorm head too?”

Takuto bit his lip, Shinomiya would be so occupied all the time.

“He likes taking care of people,” Takuto said softly.

Saionji and Shichijo exchanged a knowing look.

“He takes care of the people he cares about it seems,” Omi said.

Takuto blushed slightly and looked away, “Shinomiya...he...cares a lot,” he mumbled.

                                                                                    ---

“Now that you’ve subtracted that number from both sides of the equation, the number you’re left with will become the numerator...I think,” Shinomiya said, looking over Takuto’s homework.

He read the equation they had set up over again before nodding.

“Yes, so do the same with the other numeric expression and then cross multiply,” he explained.

He looked over at his own work until he felt a slight tug at his sleeve.

 

“Shinomiya, like this?” Takuto asked pointed to his finished problem.

He took the paper from Takuto, “The formula is right but you have the numerator and denomina- oh wait, no, no you’ve gotten it all correct, good job.”

Takuto took the paper back and grinned shyly as Shinomiya kissed his temple.

“Do you want to stay in here again tonight?” Shinomiya asked. “I don’t have anything tomorrow morning as early as I did today.”
“And a lot of mornings,” Takuto said, but his gaze traveled to the closet where he knew would be at least one set of his PJs on a shelf. They had taken to this when their physical distance got to be too great and they needed to be together. A voice in Shinomiya’s mind constantly nagged that it was technically against the rules, but only technically and Takuto needed it, he would reason. To every other sense driving him, there was still a haze of love clouding what would otherwise be his straightlaced logic.


Pulling himself out of his thoughts, the archer couldn’t help but chuckle when he noticed Takuto eyeing their plate of cookies as study snack-slash-dessert.

“Are you holding back? Don’t you still like sweets?” Shinomiya asked.

“There’s only two left though,” Takuto said, “and the butterscotch are your favorite...and I ate most of them.”

“Well, that is almost true,” Shinomiya said.

“Almost?” Takuto echoed.

“Mmhmm.”

Shinomiya picked up a cookie and fed it to Takuto, letting him bashfully lick the crumbs from his fingers. It was very sweet how Takuto could be so bold sometimes and still so diffident at others. When certain moods struck they both became bolder. Takuto swallowed anxiously with Shinomiya’s eyes trained on him he bit his lip but a second later let it go when Shinomiya held his chin in one hand. The archer licked the crumbs from the corner of Takuto’s mouth and pressed his lips against the artist’s. He wasn’t sure when exactly but they had come to the agreement that they were both near always in need of and open to each other’s touch.

 

A whine escaped Takuto when Shinomiya pulled away and refocused on his homework, but he bit back any other reactions. Shinomiya was giving his all and Takuto was lucky to be around him. He was lucky and thankful to have any of Shinomiya’s spare time and energy. Takuto whined again to himself as he watched as a textbook and small pile of papers consumed his boyfriend’s attention. Attention Takuto wished were his. He wanted Shinomiya to hold and touch him, he wanted to climb onto his lap and kiss him until they were both dizzy. He wanted to the taste of Shinomiya in his mouth, wanted it at such an intensity that it would never fade. Takuto wanted Shinomiya everywhere, all over, around him and on top of him and maybe even inside of him.

 

He gulped loudly, startling himself with the thought. While it wasn’t brand new he wasn’t sure what to do about it. For now even if he wanted to give Shinomiya everything every time he stopped to think about his own body he still cringed. It was no worse than it had ever been, Shinomiya had seen more of him now, but he worried, he felt afraid and insecure every time he recalled his lanky form and scarred skin. Inside of his mind the two mindsets warred. The need to hide, the continuous belief that he was not good enough, not for anyone to see or touch at least. Yet if he were good enough for Shinomiya to love (and despite how constantly Takuto questioned that, Shinomiya assured him it was true every time the archer looked at him,) why couldn’t he be good enough to touch? To want , even?

 

He wanted Shinomiya’s reassurances. He wanted Shinomiya to comfort him and tell him with every kiss how much he wanted Takuto and make him believe with every moment of skin against skin and the way the archer looked at him like he were joy incarnated in a human body, that Shinomiya adored and needed him.

 

“I love you,” slipped out of Takuto, making him blush when he realized he’d said it aloud.

“Hm? Did you say something?” Shinomiya asked, looking up from his textbook.

He looked a bit weary and oh so handsome, Takuto felt another rush of need to hold his face with both hands and kiss him with all his might. Another wave of heat spread across Takuto realized how tight and constricting his pants suddenly felt over his groin. Oh gods, this was humiliating, getting like this from just thinking about Shinomiya...and sitting there, staring at him.

“I...I’m going to get ready for bed!” he declared and bolted upright.

It had taken Shinomiya a few seconds to realize what had just happened with the door thudding closed behind Takuto as he fled. It wasn’t that Shinomiya had meant to let his gaze linger where it did, but it had been hard to mistake. After a moment Shinomiya followed Takuto, if less hurriedly than his boyfriend had dashed out.

 

“Takuto?” he called as he knocked.

“I- I’m...” a voice from inside the room squeaked. He sounded petrified and not like he were asking Shinomiya to come in and comfort him.  He stood there outside of Takuto’s door, aware that it was getting late.

 

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: Is something wrong? Do you want to come back after roll call?

Msg from Iwai Takuto: Is it okay?

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: Of course. I’ll be in my room.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I’m sorry, I love you.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: I love you too.

 

If there was a single good thing about being a nervous wreck, Takuto thought, it was that it was a surefire way to get rid of an unwanted erection you were stressing over. Takuto was not terribly fond of cold showers in buildings where the air conditioning was turned to stand up to the oncoming summer heat. Still, that early July evening he stepped out from under the cold spray wanting nothing more than to don cozy PJs and crawl into bed beside Shinomiya.


He waited for a while for the dorm leader to move on to the third years for nightly roll-call. His fingers traced the abdominal muscles of his sketch, gliding up to where the torso became Shinomiya’s neck and head. He frowned at those eyes, he would never be able to truly capture Shinomiya on paper. Even the man on the page, lovely as he was, posed hardly any consolation. Though Takuto had managed to give his drawing Shinomiya’s muscles, his warm smile, arms lifted over his head and his shirt was still over his hands. A moment just before his archer on paper was topless and smiling with just a hint of bashfulness.

Chapter Text

Shinomiya had left the door to his room ajar just the slightest crack so that Takuto wouldn’t need the archer’s key to get in. When the artist slid inside, making sure to close the door behind himself, he thought he might melt at sight before him. Shinomiya lay on his bed with the lamp still on, still in his uniform, either asleep or quite close with a textbook and some papers by his head. Takuto blushed, he could feel the warmth spread over his face. He loved this boy so much it might break him.  

“Shinomiya?” he said softly.

The archer didn’t budge. Takuto set down his own folded uniform on Shinomiya’s desk and stood over the bed. He nudged the papers and textbook out of Shinomiya’s relaxed grip and set them on the desk as well before he returned. Takuto bent over Shinomiya to touch his face affectionately. Shinomiya must have been working until roll call and then fallen asleep studying.

“You work so hard,” Takuto said and crawled on to the bed beside him. He  kissed his boyfriend’s forehead and turned off the bedside lamp.

 

Takuto awoke sweating and panting from a nightmare, he didn’t know what time it was but it was still dark and he was still tired. He fidgeted, unable to wake enough to calm himself nor fight off whatever he was falling back asleep into, when he noticed another pair of eyes open a crack.  Shinomiya’s arm moved to drape over the artist and pull him closer. Shinomiya set his lips against Takuto’s brow, not his most coordinated kiss given that he wasn’t really awake, both sets of eyes having drifted closed again. Takuto sighed happily at the gesture though, at his beloved’s automatic protectiveness and comforting. When he woke again he found the same contentment, comfortably wrapped in his boyfriend’s arms. Shinomiya was smiling at him, stroking Takuto’s hair.

“We have a little time before we need to get up,” he said.

Takuto blinked, a soft and warm kind of expression had aligned his face, happy to nuzzle back against Shinomiya’s chest.

“Last night,” Shinomiya spoke suddenly.

“Hmm?” Takuto moved back to look at him, squinting at first and less content at trying on alertness.

“What were you sorry for last night? When I messaged you?” he asked.

“Huh?” Takuto muttered as his brain was still computing, then his eyes widened in recognition and he looked terribly embarrassed.

Shinomiya tilted his chin up to make Takuto look at him, his expression one of concern.

“What was wrong, my love?”

“I ran away again...” Takuto said, he sounded a pained sort of guilty. “I was just looking at you and not even touching and I...got um, hard. I’m so useless and selfish...” he berated himself.

“Don’t say that,” Shinomiya said and gave his lips a quick peck. “Takuto, it’s not true. You are lovely.”

“But Shinomiya...” Takuto faltered, “looking at you, working so hard and you’re so patient and diligent and I keep thinking these selfish things.”

“You’re not selfish,” Shinomiya said. “Not really. But it’s okay to be selfish sometimes. It’s okay to tell me what you want.”

“But...b-but,” Takuto stuttered, his voice dropped to a whisper, “I always want Shinomiya.”

As if (again) for the first time Takuto’s confessions made Shinomiya’s heart swell. Suddenly it wasn’t enough that he had this boy pressed so close to him, literally within his grasp, he needed to be kissing Takuto. The artist welcomed his sudden need and gave back just as much zeal as he accepted.

 

“You’re amazing,” Shinomiya said between kisses.

Takuto shook his head, “no you are,” he said and kissed him again.

Shinomiya laughed into the kiss, inadvertently breaking it. He opened his eyes and realized Takuto was staring at him.

“What is it?” he asked.

Takuto shook his head again, unable to dim his own smile, “I’m so happy,” he said.

“What serendipity,” Shinomiya said, “I was just thinking the same thing. You’ve made me lose my mind in all the best ways.”

Takuto looked puzzled, if no less happy.

“For the first time in my life I don’t care enough if I’m bending the rules,” Shinomiya explained. “I must be so madly in love with you.”

Takuto’s heart couldn’t seem to decide if it were fluttering or beating hard enough to escape his chest or about to stop all together. He tried to say something, anything, in response and let out a lovesick whimper.

Takuto didn’t think they could press any physically closer to each other and squeaked in surprise to realize Shinomiya was hard and so was he.

Shinomiya looked at him and Takuto saw with clarity that the archer was valiantly fighting his embarassment to keep their eye contact  and their physical proximity.

“I...Takuto...” Shinomiya was blushing, he swallowed, “I always want you too.” He shifted his hips against his boyfriend and wrenched another squeak from him.

“Shinomiya!” Takuto gasped and squirmed.

In under a second Shinomiya recognized that tone as one of panic, he realized Takuto might be trying to move away and released his arm with a hold over the artist.

“Maybe we should talk about this later,” Shinomiya said, neither of them got up but he did give Takuto a bit more room, or as much as he could on the single-person bed.

“Um...do...do we have to get up just yet?” Takuto asked.

Shinomiya eyed his watch, “not for another fifteen minutes I suppose,” he said. “But we can’t really go to breakfast in our pyjamas.”

 

“Y-you’re right,” Takuto said, though he made no move to get up, in fact, he only scooted closer.
“But we...we’re both still...like this,” Takuto hesitated, he bit his lip and tried to stop wavering his gaze away from Shinomiya’s eyes.

“Do you want to do something about that?” Shinomiya asked.

“Do you?”

“If you do.”

Takuto hesitated again, he exhaled long and deep before he managed to say anything, let alone:

“Can I put your hand in my pants?”

                                                                                  ---

Despite any clumsiness or Shinomiya not knowing what to do, Takuto had to give him credit. It had been the first time Shinomiya touched him like that, the first time Takuto had asked to him to and no matter how lust consumed either of them became, Shinomiya never lost sight nor let Takuto forget about his adoration for the artist. Takuto spent the rest of the day blushing and trying not react every time his mind wandered back to that morning.

 

Every. Single. Time.

He needed a cold shower.

 

He needed a cold shower anyway because of the heat and his insistence on wearing long sleeves year round. July wasn’t terribly bad on the island campus but it was humid and an unusually hot day. As he left his last class, highly aware that a haze had settled in his head and given him a terrible time focusing all day, he nearly wanted to use one of the sports clubs locker rooms to shower. With Shinomiya going right from the student council to archery club, Takuto probably wouldn’t see him until that evening (if he were lucky.) As much as he was inclined to follow the archer to the student council room, he knew Shinomiya would be terribly consumed. It was crunch time before exams, report time for the student council and Shinomiya had Archery Nationals to worry about being prepared for as well.

 

Takuto saw a figure ahead waving at him, albeit in an unusually reserved manner.

“Iwai-san,” Naruse said as he approached.

Takuto wasn’t sure what to think, he hadn’t seen Naruse in weeks, not since he’d broken down crying and Shinomiya had scolded their kouhai.

“How are you?” Naruse asked, more laid back than Takuto had yet seen him. The change in the younger boy’s demeanor caught Takuto off guard, he frowned confusedly.

“Sweaty,” he said, then blinked when he realized he’d said it aloud. “Uh- um...s-sorry-” he started to say.

Naruse laughed, “it’s alright, I’m sweaty too,” he grinned, wiping his forehead.
The way sweat glimmered on him yet again reminded Takuto of watching Shinomiya train in the heat. Takuto gulped when he thought of sweat running down the archer’s exposed chest and how he’d like to follow the line it made with his tongue. His eyes went wide in embarrassment when he remembered the real reason he needed a cold shower. Now .

 

“Are you alright?” Naruse asked.

“My-my room, I need to go,” Takuto said.

Naruse tilted his head, “is something wr-”

“Naruse-kun!” a voice called from the tennis court.

Then another voice,  “Naru-chan! Are you coming back?”

Naruse turned to the voices with a delighted smile, “sorry senpais!” he called and ran over to them, giving Takuto an explanation-less escape.

                                                                                  ---

Cold water misted onto the floor tiles with soft little plops , Takuto bit his lip and forced himself under it all at once. He made a sound like a half-cry half-whimper and clenched two fists as he fought to stay under it. He wasn’t a fan of overly hot showers but he didn’t exactly love being in cold water either. Though it wasn’t the spray making him so agitated.

“Why...” he murmured.

He wished Shinomiya were there to fix it. To kiss him and tell him it was alright to be this anxious, to think of nothing but his boyfriend and need him so badly. Takuto wished Shinomiya would press him against the wall and swallow all of his cries as the water soaked them. To touch and soothe him and make him see stars...

Takuto sank to the floor and let his head hang over his knees, not caring that he would have to rinse off again. This had not gone as planned. He felt like he would go mad without Shinomiya’s constant touch. He’d probably go mad with it too. How could he wake up in someone’s arms and miss them so dreadfully not twelve hours later? He wanted Shinomiya so badly, wanted his everything. He wanted to give Shinomiya everything as well...would Shinomiya really want all of him? Normally with anything that was wrong or when he needed comfort, Takuto went to Shinomiya. Shinomiya was his everything, his most important person. He wanted him, he knew it, but just how did he go about it?

 

Msg from Iwai Takuto: Can I really ask you anything?

Msg from Hanabusa Hisoka: Of course! =)

                                                                                    ---

“Good afternoon,” Naruse greeted, finding Takuto alone at lunch.

“Naruse?”  

The younger boy smiled at the acknowledgment, “are you waiting for someone?” he asked.

Takuto looked around then looked back at Naruse, “no, I guess,” he sighed.

“Can I sit here?” Naruse asked.

Takuto blinked, “um, okay.”

Naruse seemed unphased at Takuto’s unease and sat across from him.

Why would he bother ? Takuto wondered, he knew a few people from other tables, (including the one Naruse had up and left) were eying them. Naruse seemed genuinely oblivious as he ate, not bothering to partake in the awkwardness Takuto felt.

“Iwai-san?” Naruse said, “can I ask you something.”

“O-okay,” Takuto stuttered.

“Do you believe in love at first sight?”

Takuto tried not to choke. That question certainly caught him off guard. Just what exactly was he expecting from Naruse though?

“You do?” Takuto responded.

“Of course!” Naruse answered, entirely earnest.

“But it doesn’t always work out,” Takuto said cautiously.

“But where there’s love, everything will be alright,” Naruse said.

“Um...”

“How did you fall in love?”

 

Takuto did not manage to avoid choking this time and fell into a minor coughing fit.

“Oh my gosh, are you alright?!” Naruse cried.

Takuto held up a pacifying hand and gulped down some water, hoping not to make a big scene.

“W-wasn’t that a little bold of you?” Takuto managed.

Naruse blinked, “oh, sorry,” he said, at least looking bashful. “It’s just, you and Shinomiya-senpai...your love is so beautiful,” he said.

Takuto had no idea how to respond. Why was Naruse talking about this so publicly?

“I thought I should base how to love someone off of you,” he added.

Despite the fact that this boy had no sense of others, Naruse was sincere.

“It’s...it’s Shinomiya,” Takuto said, smiling down at the table, “Shinomiya is wonderful.”

“It’s nice to be in love, isn’t it?” Naruse smiled.

Takuto blushed and wasn’t sure if he managed to nod.

“So how did it happen?”

                                                                                     ---

“So Naruse is your new lunch partner?” Shinomiya asked.

They were alone in Takuto’s room for the first time in several days, at least, the first time in days they were actually focusing on each other.

“Yeah, I miss you,” Takuto answered.

“I’m sorry,” Shinomiya said, “I know you’re working hard for exams too-”

“But you have so much, it’s okay,” Takuto said.

The archer sat on the floor with his back against the bed, not particularly shocked when Takuto crawled into his lap. Their eyes reflected in each others, Shinomiya noticed. He ran a hand gently into his artist’s hair, it fell over their faces when Takuto rested their foreheads against each other. He was so beautiful, so soft, so fragile , Shinomiya thought.

“I miss you too,” Shinomiya said, “are you lonely?”

Takuto leaned into the touch still against hi head, “Yeah...I’m really glad exams will be over soon.”

Shinomiya sighed, “and then we will have summer break to be together. I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

“Mm-hmm,” Takuto kissed the side of Shinomiya’s throat.

“Just one more week, you’ve been so patient,” Shinomiya praised.

Takuto wound his arms around Shinomiya’s shoulder and torso and squeezed, “still miss you,” he mumbled.

 

They stayed like that for a few minutes, Shinomiya stroking Takuto’s hair in synchronicity with Takuto’s soft breath against his skin. It was a little warmer than Shinomiya preffered but he didn’t mind at all.    

“Takuto, last year too?” Shinomiya mumbled.

“Hmm?” Takuto hummed.

“In the heat you still wear sleeves,” Shinomiya said.

Takuto nodded mutely. Shinomiya could feel the artist biting his lip, the way Takuto’s jaw lay against the archer’s shoulder.

“Yeah...” Takuto said finally, “only Shinomiya...um..I haven’t shown anyone else my arms.”

Shinomiya took Takuto’s left wrist in his hand and kissed it.

“I think I’d be a little jealous,” he said, “if anyone else knew your heavy heart.”

“Only you,” Takuto assured him.

“And I would be jealous if anyone else realized how beautiful you are.”

Takuto blushed, “Naruse...Naruse said that our love is beautiful.”

“And what do you think?” Shinomiya asked, he was too in love with boy in front of (on top of,) him to care about Naruse’s input.

“Love...” Takuto whispered, “I love you...I love you so much.”

He squeezed Shinomiya tighter and buried his face against him, it didn’t feel as if they could possibly be physically close enough. Takuto squirmed a bit to face his boyfriend again, he placed one hand on the side of Shinomiya’s face, neither of them feeling any inclination to break eye contact.

 

Shinomiya met him in a needy kiss, he tasted like mint toothpaste with a hint of the mochi they’d had for dessert. He let Takuto nip his lips and tongue when he opened his mouth to pant.

“Shinomiya...” Takuto panted. “I’m ready. I want all of you.”

It wasn’t as if he expected Shinomiya to know that. It wouldn’t have been a surprise for either of them to spend a Saturday night in the other’s room with little more affair than kisses and cuddles.

“I want to wake up with you,” Takuto said. He held Shinomiya’s face in his hands and looked at him with a steady sureness, “I want you, in me.”

Shinomiya’s thoughts stuttered but he let Takuto reach for the buttons at his collar, pausing to wait for an okay. Shinomiya’s consent was to guide his hands as they kissed again and then reach to pull his pyjama shirt the rest of the way off.

“Want you,” Takuto breathed.

“I...you too,” Shinomiya echoed. “But...we...do you know?” he tried to ask.
He wasn’t even sure what he was asking or if he got confirmation but he wanted and so did Takuto. His hands slid up into Takuto’s shirt and pressed flat against his chest in motions that made Takuto whine and shiver. Shinomiya pulled his hands out of Takuto’s shirt to start unbuttoning it, kissing the revealed skin. Takuto gave another needy whine when Shinomiya’s hands were back in his half-unbuttoned shirt, on one side thumbing circles over a nipple and mouth leaving kisses down the other side until he slid his tongue over Takuto’s skin.

 

They looked at each other, taking in already sweltering faces and eyes which burned mutually hot. When they kissed again, they broke only for Shinomiya to help lift the Takuto’s shirt the rest of the way off before Shinomiya copied his previous actions, switching to the other side of Takuto’s chest. Takuto gasped a moan, gods, if Shinomiya made him feel like this maybe he could forget why he was reluctant to show his body in the first place. He fisted his hands in Shinomiya’s hair as the archer’s mouth made him squirm. Shinomiya licked a long stripe up the center of Takuto’s throat to the underside of his chin, making the artist squeak in surprise.

Hght !” Shinomiya grunted when Takuto accidentally smashed the archer’s nose.

“Shinomiya? Oh gods, sorry, sorry ,” Takuto said frantically.

But Shinomiya laughed; laughed , he looked happy and gave Takuto’s quick peck, meant to be reassuring. Takuto felt his heart swell and he laughed as well, framing Shinomiya’s face and gently kissing below the bridge of his nose before slotting their lips together again.

“Love you,” Takuto said between kisses.
He ground his hips into Shinomiya’s lap, enlightening them both of how erect the other was.
“Takuto...” Shinomiya moaned. He fingered the hem of Takuto’s pants but stopped for a moment, “is this okay?” he asked.

Takuto nodded and shuddered when Shinomiya slid both hands past his waist band and one into the back of his briefs. He pressed his chest against Shinomiya’s, trying to push himself impossibly closer.

“Hahh,” he gasped when one of Shinomiya’s hands slid against his rear and one finger brushed the cleft.

“It’s...” Shinomiya started to say, “damp?” he sounded a bit taken back.

Takuto gasped and tried to hide his face against Shinomiya’s chest.

“It’s...I...” he tried to say, sounding terribly embarrassed, “I...prepared...some.”

“You?” Shinomiya didn’t really understand. “Prepared?”
“I...” Takuto gulped and unhid his face before answering, “you have to with guys..”

Shinomiya blinked, processing a bit slowly. “Takuto, you...know about? With...other boys?”

Takuto suddenly pushed back against his shoulders and looked him in the eyes, “no! I mean...Itori...she was the only one and it was her first time too but I...I looked it up...researched because...”

Finally the gears in Shinomiya’s head were turning and he silenced Takuto’s painful explanation with a forgiving kiss. Not that he thought Takuto had done anything wrong, but the poor boy looked so needlessly guilty.

 

“Shinomiya” he said, “the-the bed?”
Shinomiya helped Takuto out of his pants as they rose, collapsing right onto the bed as soon as they stood and the rest of what the archer wore followed suit. Takuto bit his lip and looked at Shinomiya before reaching under the covers to retrieve something and dump it between them. He sat formally with his head bowed as Shinomiya looked at the objects.

A condom and a bottle of...

“Cream?” Shinomiya asked.

“I-it’s lubricant,” Takuto said. “You need it to be smooth to...to...go in.”

“Is that why you?” Shinomiya trailed off.

Takuto was clearly blushing despite the hair falling in his face (it was growing longer already, Shinomiya noticed.)

“A- a little, you have to use fingers first...to prepare.”

“Fingers?” Shinomiya echoed.

Takuto nodded, “in me.”  He looked up timidly to watch Shinomiya’s face as realization dawned on him.

“Oh- o-okay, are you sure, Takuto, that you want me to?”

“Yes.”

Takuto reached out for him and it felt like magnetism, the need to be touching him, kissing him again.

They helped guide each other so that Takuto lay on his back with his knees bent, feet flat on the mattress.

Shinomiya picked up condom package, “where did you?” he started to say but then decided he could learn more later, right now he had a mission to make Takuto feel incredible.

 

“Takuto, that time, what you did to me, when you kissed me all the way uh... can I do that?” he asked.

“Y-you don’t have to ask, “ Takuto said, turning his head to the side against the pillow, “I trust Shinomiya.”

 

Shinomiya crawled over him to kiss down his exposed neck and then chest, pressing a lingering kiss over each of his ribs on one side. He took the happy little sighs Takuto was making as encouragement and nuzzled the artist’s hip as his fingers curled around the waistband of his briefs. Takuto watched him and enjoyed the sweet kisses as he lifted his hips to let Shinomiya gently pull off his underwear. Shinomiya held himself up on all fours, moving backwards until only the top of his body was between Takuto’s thighs. He set a flat palm against either of the artist's  thighs and watched his face carefully and he pressed them apart a bit further. Takuto was driving a couple of teeth into his lip and Shinomiya leaned forward to press his thumb to Takuto’s mouth before kissing him. He took his time, slow and sweet, hoping he was reassuring before he kissed his way back down his boyfriend’s body.

“Takuto.” He kissed Takuto’s inner thigh before lowering himself further down. He silently cursed that he had to take a moment to readjust on the bed made for one but it would be worth it. He reached to hold the base of Takuto’s erection, making Takuto cover his face to smother a groan.

“Don’t hide your face,” Shinomiya pleaded, wanting to move Takuto’s hands but he also wanting to see the artist do so of his own accord.
Takuto did move his hands, “but I can’t be too loud, we’re in a dorm,” he reminded Shinomiya.

Shinomiya nodded ruefully, but he understood and wanted to dismiss that realization as soon as possible.

 

Takuto choked on his words as Shinomiya swallowed the head of his erection...swallowed...took it in his mouth and swallowed around it.

“Shino-auhh...ah,” Takuto exclaimed, fighting to keep his voice down as Shinomiya swallowed again and took more in.

Shinomiya swirled his tongue around and pulled off only to lick the slit as he remembered Takuto doing. Takuto bit his hand to avoid crying out and almost missed the expression of distaste Shinomiya made.

“You- you don’t have to,” he said. “It’s fine. Really.”

“I want to,” Shinomiya said. “I want to make you feel as good as you made me.”

Takuto had no other words, just stifled moans and whimpers as Shinomiya proved his ability to learn quickly. He found Takuto’s length too long to take in all at once so he settled for stroking what he couldn’t reach and sliding his tongue around as he moved his head back and forth. Occasionally he slid to cover just the head and swallow around it in a way that made Takuto flush more each time.

“Shi-n- gonna-” Takuto panted, “ Koji !”

Shinomiya sucked and swallowed once more and moved just in time as Takuo came with a silent sob. Shinomiya wiped him off and intended to crawl up to hold him until he came down but froze where he knelt when he saw Takuto’s face. His eyes seemed simultaneously blown wide and entirely heavy, glazed with tired pleasure.

 

“Oh, wow,” he finally said.

Shinomiya smiled at him, the same adoring smile that made Takuto feel truly loved and was coming to find absolutely necessary in his every day. He felt fingers in his hair, under his eye, a hand against his face.

“You’re crying?” Shinomiya sounded far more in awe than worried.

“I...I am?” Takuto said.

Shinomiya couldn’t help but smile, “you’re so beautiful.”

“Shinomiya...” Takuto sighed. “Oh! You haven’t! You’re not done with me, right?” he blurted.

“Not unless you want to stop,” Shinomiya said and kissed his cheek.

Takuto shook his head and drew him into a kiss, “no, please don’t stop,” he said.

 

“I...how much cream do I use?” Shinomiya asked.

Takuto reached for the little bottle with one hand and Shinomiya’s hand with the other. He poured a thick glob that he figured would be about enough to start with- Shinomiya had larger hands than he did anyway.

“Um, s-start with one or two for a-a little bit,” he instructed.

Shinomiya nodded resolutely, he seemed to be taking this very seriously. He kissed Takuto as if it were a parting gesture and moved backward to better position himself. He circled with one finger, tentative as he slidi it inside and met little resistance.

“Is that okay?” he asked.

“Nh-hm,” Takuto hummed, seeming neutral.

“Just...in and out?” Shinomiya asked.

“Y-yeah, and around, and with two scissor them.”

Takuto had no idea where from either of them were summoning the strength to finish their words. He was trying valiantly to keep his heart from beating out of his chest at how attentive Shinomiya was being despite his lack of experience. He even let his voice out in soft grunts when Shinomiya added another finger and scissored them as instructed.

“Should I um, more?” Shinomiya asked.

Takuto wanted to scream that no! Shinomiya needed to be inside him already, it wasn’t even that he was close, in fact, it hadn’t been terribly comfortable or uncomfortable but the sensations hadn’t gotten him much besides impatience. He wanted Shinomiya, he wanted Shinomiya to experience how good it felt to be inside someone he cared about. He wanted Shinomiya to need him irrevocably, to never have enough.

“Are you alright?” Shinomiya’s voice cut into his thoughts.

“Yes.”

“Does it hurt?”

“No, it’s okay.”

“Do you want to-”

“No, please keep going...” Takuto urged, he bit his lip before adding, “I-I’m not ready for it to be over.”

Neither was the growing hardness Shinomiya felt, it had begun to ache but he was so focused on his boyfriend that it hadn’t bothered him until he realized it. Now, he was suddenly far too aware.

“Does it feel good?”

“Everything you do is good,” Takuto replied, closing his eyes and smiling a little awkwardly. “I think I’m ready....”

“Takuto?”

“I need you. Please .”

Shinomiya opened the condom package and watched Takuto, knowing they were both impatient as he fumbled with it. Certainly he knew what they were and in theory what to do with one, but not until recently had he thought he’d be learning to use one, not anytime soon at least.

“Shinomiya,” Takuto whined, eyes still closed. “Please. Now.”

Shinomiya held himself up with his well muscled arms as he slid in a bit roughly, at least more so than he’d intended. Takuto’s eyes opened and the face he made was not one of pleasure. He winced. Gulped. Didn’t say anything. Shinomiya’s heart dropped.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “I’m sorry, does it hurt?”

Still grimacing, Takuto shook his head, “no but it...it feels...”

“I’m sorry, maybe I should try with more lubricant?”

Takuto nodded.

Shinomiya slid out carefully and applied a generous coat of the cream over the condom.

“Are you sure?” he asked.

Takuto nodded.

“Okay,” Shinomiya said and pressed in slowly, kissing Takuto as he did so. It went far more smoothly and gently than the first time, for which Shinomiya felt relieved.

“Is that better?” he asked. “Do you need a minute to get used to it?”

“Yeah.”

Shinomiya tried to focus not on how warm and tight and good it felt and instead on Takuto. Takuto who was clearly uncomfortable but trying to will himself past it. Shinomiya had overheard from other boys how sex could be uncomfortable at first but was worth it when the pain turned to pleasure. He wondered if they were making things up as Takuto tried to stop himself from squirming. The artist bit his lip and clenched his eyes shut, making himself exhale in slow and deep repetitions.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Shinomiya asked.

Takuto didn’t answer.

Gods, he felt horrible and hated the part of himself  that he wished he could move, but with Takuto’s face contorted in obvious unease, he couldn’t. He just couldn’t.

 

“N-no! What are you-” Takuto cried when Shinomiya slid out of him yet again. “I said it was okay, I don’t want to stop,” he protested.

“But I do !” Shinomiya said, his voice close to breaking. “I can’t Takuto, you’re clearly not okay. We can try again another time, maybe you need more time to get used to it, but not tonight.”

With that, he threw away the condom and got up to turn on the lamp but turn off the room light. He picked up the clothes from the floor, thinking to offer them but another wave of shock and guilt smacked him when he turned back to Takuto, looking devastated. He caught only a second of that face before Takuto hid behind his hair and knees pressed close against himself and he heard the boy’s soft sobs. Without a thought he dropped the clothing in a pile at the end of the bed and climbed up beside Takuto to wrap his arms around him.

“I’m sorry my love,” he said and kissed his temple.

Takuto couldn’t speak until his crying subsided. “No, I’m sorry. You didn’t even get to finish and I...” his words were lost and his face contorted again as more hot tears spilled down it.

Shinomiya cupped his jaw and wiped and kissed at the warm streams as they fell.

“You did nothing wrong my love,” he reassured. “It’s okay.”

“But you-”

“Shh, I’m fine, are you okay? Are you in pain?”

Takuto clenched his eyes shut and shook his head.

“Do you want your clothes?”

“Can we- would you just hold me, like this?”

Shinomiya kissed him, “of course.”

“You won’t leave?”

“Why would-” Shinomiya started to say but stopped, “no, no of course not Takuto. I want to be with you.”

“Please don’t leave,” Takuto said and kissed him urgently.

Shinomiya kissed back with the same urgency and gasped into Takuto’s mouth when he felt a hand on his penis. While certainly the frustration had softened it a little, it had failed to in entirety.

“Can I?” Takuto asked, “with my hand?”

 

When Shinomiya said “sure” he had not expected such relief. Takuto was a little bit more rough (if no less loving) than usual, drawing moans and sharp gasps when he pressed or scratched harder than usual. He slid his other hand below the blanket as well, Shinomiya realized by feel that it had a tissue in it and Takuto was quick to clean him up afterwards.

“I’m sorry,” he apologized again as they lay there in each other's arms in the dark, “sor-”

Shinomiya cut him off with a kiss and a “nothing to be sorry for.” He stroked the artist’s back and hips soothingly and found himself lulled by Takuto’s own sleepiness, it was late anyway.

Takuto mumbled something unintelligible.

“Hmm?” Shinomiya prompted, unsure if Takuto were really alert or if he were making sounds in his sleep again. He could have easily dismissed it as the latter had he not caught;

“Stay.”

He remembered Takuto telling him about the person he lost, or gave (or something?) his virginity with. (Whatever virginity was, Shinomiya wasn’t really sure anymore.) How she had used him because she did not want to remain sexually inexperienced and never bothered to contact him again afterwards. He felt like snarling at the memory. Instead he kissed Takuto’s temple again and held him with fierce protectiveness. He could not let anyone hurt Takuto again.

Chapter Text

Despite their rough “first time” Shinomiya and Takuto seemed in a state of post coital bliss. Takuto felt too warm when he started to wake and turned over but when his brain deciphered what his eyes took in, he stopped caring. Shinomiya gazed back at him, mirroring the bliss Takuto felt. Last night certainly had its imperfections, the awkwardness as they stumbled into a new experience together. Even thinking about it now, Takuto was certain that his face would be permanently flushed.

“Um...h-hi,” Takuto said, his brain not fully operational yet.

Shinomiya wore his heart melting smile with his usual alertness, his “good morning,” sounding dreamy. He brushed some of Takuto’s hair out of his face and nuzzled the artist affectionately.

This must be a dream , Takuto thought, skin flush against skin and wrapped in his lover’s embrace. He couldn’t be this lucky.

“What is it?” Shinomiya asked, breaking up Takuto’s thoughts.

“Huh?”

“You’re staring,” Shinomiya answered.

“Weren’t you staring at me too?” Takuto teased.

“Of course, haven’t you seen yourself?”

I’d rather not , Takuto thought, how can you think that? My skin isn’t clear and it’s scarred too .

“I see how you look at me,” he said instead of what he had been thinking.  “It makes me so happy, that you...that I...about you...I’ve never been this happy,” he said.

“Never?” Shinomiya said, sure it must be an overstatement.

“I’m not alone and you want me and it feels good, must be a dream.”

 

For a split second Shinomiya’s face might have looked perturbed, but Takuto didn’t see it any longer than that because the archer crushed him as close as he could and held him in a protective tightness.

“Always,” he said determinedly, “I will always want you.”

He felt the artist strain a little and loosened his hold with a flustered, “sorry.”

Takuto was unbothered when he moved back to look at Shinomiya, “I’m happy it’s Sunday,” he said. “I’m happy exams are almost over,” he added, “and that it’s almost summer break.”

“I’m happy you’re happy,” Shinomiya said.

 

“Shinomiya?” Takuto whispered, suddenly looking serious.

“Hmm?”

“Did you mean...what you said last night...about a, a, next time ?”

He was blushing. He was naked, they were both naked, tangled together and even after what they’d done they were both blushing. Well, Shinomiya considered, neither of them were the very brash type.

“If you want to,” Shinomiya said in answer.

“Do-do y ou ?” Takuto asked.

Shinomiya kissed him tenderly in response, “you can take that as a yes.”

Takuto tried to maintain the kiss but couldn’t stop smiling, Shinomiya looked at him and kissed the tip of his nose.

“We’ll need more of...supplies, won’t we?” he asked.

Takuto nodded.

“Where did you even get those? You haven’t been off campus have you?”

“Um, no I...do you remember when we saw Hanabusa-san and Crash-san?”

Shinomiya nodded, “yes?”

“A-and Crash-san mentioned a hidden stash...and I...I asked Hanabusa-san for advice.”

“You saw him?” Shinomiya asked.

Takuto shook his head, “I messaged him and he helped me understand and...” Takuto’s face was entirely pink again.

“There’s a hidden stash of condoms?”

“Yeah. Um...I think Hanabusa-san said that the infirmary keeps some too. Um and that we shouldn’t use expired ones because they’re more likely to break.”

They both exchanged a look, both bashful, both flushed profusely as their bare frames fit against the ridges and curves of each other. Suddenly their eyes met before they were both laughing and kissing each other. Shinomiya’s hand rested on Takuto’s butt and Takuto’s fingers traced over it and up the archer’s arm until it settled on his shoulder.

 

“Look at us,” Takuto whispered, “you’re so adorable, so unusual for you to be shy,” he said.

“I’m not really shy,” the archer said back, his tone a shrug.

“You’re so adorable,” Takuto said.

“What? No,” Shinomiya protested, still smiling, “the cute one is you.”

Takuto nuzzled him softly before they both found hands framing each others faces as they fell into another slow kiss.

“You really like kissing,” Takuto giggled.

“I like kissing you ,” Shinomiya said.

“I like everything about you,” Takuto said.

“I...” Shinomiya hesitated, “Takuto, is this what it’s like? Waking up with someone?”

Takuto looked perplexed for a moment, “I think so,” he said. “But for me there’s only Shinomiya.”

“I- what about that girl?” Shinomiya asked. “You didn’t wake up together?”

 

When Takuto frowned Shinomiya caressed his soft ashen hair and let him think. “You don’t have to talk about it,” he added. “But I want to know anything you want to tell me.”

Takuto closed his eyes and sighed contentedly against Shinomiya’s soothing fingers in his hair. “She didn’t stay,” Takuto said before opening them. “I went to sleep alone I think, or at least I woke up alone. But it was nice at the time.”

“Nice?” Shinomiya echoed, dumbfounded.

“Yeah. She was gentle with me and it felt good even if we probably shouldn't have...done...that.”

“But she left you behind?” Shinomiya’s voice was edging into pained.

“She...I think I was...I think we were convenient to each other. We both needed a warm person and love and we trusted each other, I think.”

“You said she used to look after you?” Shinomiya said, he wasn’t sure he should be pushing, maybe he should just listen instead and take what he could get.

“We were friends, she’d check on me and make me meals and help me with homework when my mom was away.”

“Away?”

“Yeah, Itori, Tori-chan, was kind of like my big sister. She cared about me and took care of me more than- uh- when no one else did. We...me and mama don’t really have much family.”

“Like a sister?”
Something wasn’t quite right, Shinomiya had no reason to think it was anything but the truth that Takuto told.

“Yeah, I think we confused our kind of love and need.”
Takuto’s voice had turned softer, distant as if he were watching the past as he spoke it in hints and pieces. As if it were himself he watched and yet another life entirely. He looked up at the ceiling while he spoke and though Shinomiya’s gaze stayed on him, Shinomiya wasn’t even sure when Takuto had turned on his back.

 

“I did love her, I think, and she loved me but it didn’t matter. We weren’t more than family in the end.”

Just what is family to you, Takuto ? Shinomiya wondered.

 

His unease grew, watching the happy light fade from Takuto’s eyes as his boyfriend told him about the girl he’d trusted, how many years the spent growing up together and how she hadn’t wanted to remain sexually inexperienced when she started college.

“She told me I was the only one she could imagine it with because I was special and she loved me,” Takuto said. “I was pretty gullible I guess, to think she would keep wanting me.”

“No,” Shinomiya said, pain clear in his voice, “no you shouldn’t think that. It’s something special to share only with the one you love,” Shinomiya said. “There’s no reason you shouldn’t have believed that.”

“Do you really think that, Shinomiya?”

“Think what?”

“Sex is only for the one you love?”

Shinomiya was speechless for a moment, “do you love me Takuto?”

Takuto turned back to him, suddenly panicked, “yes! Oh gods Shinomiya, yes, I love you.”

Shinomiya re-wound himself around the upset artist, “I’m sorry my love,” he said, “that was cruel of me. I was afraid for a moment. I love you so much I never want to let you go.”

When he looked at Takuto again he saw the artist’s eyes were watering and proceeded to kiss away any tears before they could form.

“It’s a little hot, don’t you think?” he said finally.

“Yeah,” Takuto agreed.

“Want to shower together?”

 

If this was post coital bliss, Takuto wondered if it were possible to be any happier. Sure, nothing was perfect, there were still stressors from class work that he struggled with and what not but at the moment he couldn’t see anything but Shinomiya. The archer came to stand behind him under the lukewarm spray. Takuto relaxed against the arms winding around him, pulling his back against a firm chest. He felt Shinomiya’s breath against his shoulder and the archer rested his head there and pressed a kiss to Takuto’s neck. Shinomiya held him there for a moment as they both soaked under the water.

Takuto felt so warm, so wanted , “Shinomiya,” he sighed the name.

They took turns soaping each others backs and Takuto wanted to hesitate, didn’t want to wash Shinomiya off of himself. Shinomiya looked at him curiously, sensing his reluctance.

“Is something wrong?” he asked.

Takuto shook his head, now that they were facing each other, “I just...I don’t want to wash it away.”

“Wash what away?” Shinomiya asked. He caught a rivulet of soapy water between Takuto’s hair and eyes.

When Takuto answered it was a whisper as if he were afraid to say it;
“Last night.”

Shinomiya leaned forward to kiss the dip between Takuto’s collarbones, “nothing will change that.”

Somehow Takuto believed it. He leaned into each touch as Shinomiya rinsed shampoo from the pale ash waves of his hair, dexterous fingers gently untangling any knots with soft and careful tugs. Under Shinomiya’s hands Takuto couldn’t question that his boyfriend did love him, adore him even. He saw it in Shinomiya’s eyes when they looked at each other, heard it in his voice when Shinomiya soothed him, felt in every nerve when he found himself in Shinomiya’s embrace.

 

Takuto?

There were hands on his face, slipping through his soft damp tresses.

“Are you crying?” Shinomiya asked worriedly.

“Am...am I?”

The same cycle of actions repeated themselves between the two. They would look at each other tenderly, touch each other, frame each others faces and kiss with whatever drove them. Softness, hunger, need, love.

Takuto opened his mouth without thought, soothed by Shinomiya’s tongue against his, gentle like everything else Shinomiya did to him. His own tongue flicked over the roof of the mouth against his and then traced it, both opening wide to breathe in tandem. Shinomiya pressed their foreheads together, nuzzling and sharing breath and short kisses. His knuckles caressed the side of Takuto’s chin while Takuto’s hand that wasn’t on the archer’s face reached out to steady himself and hit the shower nozzle, making him grunt at the unexpected cool of the metal.

“I guess we should get out now,” Shinomiya said, “and get dressed.”

Takuto didn’t say anything in agreement or otherwise but he turned off the water and couldn’t help but sigh happily when Shinomiya helped him towel his hair dry and kissed the bridge of his nose.  

 

“You know,” Shinomiya said once they were dressed, “we really should go get breakfast.”

“Together?” Takuto asked hopefully.

“Mm, I didn’t bring a change of clothes to your room for anything other than spending all our time together,” Shinomiya answered.

“It’s so close to summer break, I want it to be here,” Takuto said.

“Soon my love,” Shinomiya promised, giving him a quick peck and opening the door, “soon.”

                                                                                  ---
Takuto couldn’t stop smiling that week. With his last exam over Takuto felt exhausted though it was only mid-week but he couldn’t force the corners of his mouth down for very long. Knowing he was tired and Shinomiya was busy didn’t quell the urge to message him anyway. He crawled onto his bed and looked through his phone at exchanges from the last couple days:

 

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I miss you already.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I’m sorry, I’ll stop now.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: I miss you too.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: A lot.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: Don’t stop sending messages please? Seeing them gets me through this chaos.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I love you.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: I love you too.

-

Msg from Iwai Takuto: Are you alright? Have you gotten any rest?

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: Isn’t that my line? I’m alright, it’s almost over.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I miss you.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: I know, has it really only been three days? I’m sorry I can’t reply very much.

-

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: I love you.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: I love everything about you and I want to know more.

-

Msg from Iwai Takuto: Just a few more days.

 

Just a few more days.

                                                                                   ---

“You’ve been holding onto your phone a lot,” Naruse observed.

“I- uh, yeah,” Takuto said, he looked down at his hand clutching his phone against the cafeteria table.

“You really miss him,” Naruse said kindly.

Takuto could feel a warmth in his face, certain he was blushing.

“That’s how it should be, isn’t it?” Naruse said. “You’re in love after all. It makes my heart happy  to see.”

“He makes my heart happy,” Takuto murmured and then went wide-eyed, certain his face was on fire when he realized that he’d said it aloud.

Naruse only chuckled appreciatively. “I’ve seen how you look at each other sometimes,” he said, “it’s so lovely.”

“You just love love, don’t you?” Takuto teased.

 

He couldn’t be sure why it felt easy to sit and talk with Naruse, maybe because they’d gotten past the younger boy’s fleeting crush but Naruse still clearly cared about him, asking Takuto to teach him how to be in love like the artist and the archer were. Takuto hadn’t any idea how to respond but he was silently grateful for the company Naruse gave, following him around when neither had anything to do, to fill the void Shinomiya’s lack of physical presence left. Or maybe it was because Naruse didn’t push him much. He made observations and comments and talked about his crushes and sometimes asked Takuto things about feelings.

 

“Are you all packed for summer break, Naruse-kun?” Takuto asked.

“I can’t,” Naruse said, “as an athlete I’ve always got clothes to wash and I can’t pack them if they’re like that. But we have a few days anyway.”

“We have two days, Naruse-kun,” Takuto reminded him.

“Well...maybe I should pack,” he relented. “And you, senpai?” he asked.

Takuto nodded affirmatively, “Shinomiya is very organized, it’s helped my messy habits I guess.”
He couldn’t help looking down at the table and smiling just slightly. Shinomiya had taken the time to fuss over him having suitable summer attire, he would remember it very clearly.

 

“Takuto, it’s going to be hot and if we go into the city it’ll be even worse,” Shinomiya regarded him as he packed long sleeved shirts.

“I’m used to it,” Takuto shrugged.

“Used to overheating?” Shinomiya asked.

“Sleeves.”

Shinomiya paused. He looked hard at Takuto and moved to stand mere inches from him. Takuto didn’t know if he’d been breathing at that moment as Shinomiya slowly took his wrist in one hand and used the other to push up his sleeve. Takuto froze, didn’t jerk or try to get away but didn’t relax. He felt both muscular and emotional tension as Shinomiya looked at the scarring down his arm. It really could have been worse. Really.

“It’s just this one,” Shinomiya said absently, an observation, not really a question.

“Now, yeah,” Takuto said, looking at the floor.

Shinomiya looked at him sadly, or maybe troubled was more like it. He raised the scarred wrist to his lips and pressed a cool kiss to it. Takuto swallowed, he knew his chest was rising and falling but it didn’t feel like breathing.

“I saw them,” Shinomiya said, against his skin. “Your other arm,” he breathed. “I did...” he kissed further down the scars of Takuto’s left arm and stopped at the crook of his elbow.

“Why?” he looked at Takuto as he asked it.

“W-why?” Takuto echoed.

Shinomiya let go of Takuto’s wrist and brought them both face to face again.

“I’ve only seen that arm bandaged, but you have scars in other places.”

“It’s...it was only my left...it changed when I came here,” Takuto mumbled. He bit his lip.

Shinomiya cupped his chin and turned it up so that they were looking at each other. He ran his thumb over the lip Takuto was worrying with his teeth and kissed the corner of the artist’s mouth before kissing him in honest.

 

The tension began to melt from their kiss. Maybe this was Shinomiya’s way of soothing him before he could cry. Maybe the archer was learning to read him for the signs of fracture in his fragile strength. He felt like he was made of glass, some expensive ornament too easy to break. Shinomiya held him that way sometimes, like he were a delicate treasure. Shinomiya looked at him that way too though and that made it okay. Shinomiya kissed him to soothe him, to adore him, to remind him that someone loved him. He kissed Shinomiya to kiss back, to seek him out, to soothe his own need just as he was doing right then.

 

“I’m sorry, Takuto,” Shinomiya said. “I shouldn’t have grabbed you like that.”

Takuto shook his head and kept up his valiant effort not to look back at the floor.

“I’ll...I’ll tell you...” he said.

Shinomiya kissed his cheek then his forehead, “when you’re ready.”

                                                                                    ---

 

“What’s living in a Shinto shrine like?” Naruse asked.

“O-oh, I don’t know,” Takuto said.

“We’ll have to keep in touch over the summer, senpai,” Naruse grinned. “I bet it’ll be fun to learn!”

“Won’t you be busy?” Takuto asked, “you have a tournament, don’t you?”

Naruse looked elated that Takuto mentioned it, he beamed.

“You remembered! It’s not a big tournament, a smaller competition actually. It’s sort of a charity event in my hometown so I’ll still get to see my little sister a lot.”

“You two get along well?” Takuto smiled fondly at the idea.

“I think she likes having me out of the way but I love her very much,” Naruse grinned again.

“Shinomiya has a younger brother he loves very much, I wonder what being so far from someone like that is like....” he paused and seemed to consider something before adding, “you’re from Hokkaido aren’t you? That’s such a long way.”

“This school wants the best though, don’t they? No distance too great for greatness!” he declared.

“You’re very positive, Naruse-kun.”

“No regrets in love,” Naruse said firmly, “that’s my motto. My love for my sport, my school, my honey,” he                                                                                     said dreamily.

                                                                                   ---

Takuto didn’t remember who exactly Naruse was currently crushing on.

“But he seems to recover okay, I guess,” Takuto said.

“Didn’t you say he was dating someone a little after he stopped pursuing you?” Shinomiya asked asked as he pulled on his PJ shirt. He wore a lot of grey, black and navy, at least to sleep in.

“I don’t think it lasted,” Takuto said, brows furrowing, and hand curling around his toothbrush. “I don’t think they treated him well.”

“So counting you, he’s been after at least three people in the last two or so months?” Shinomiya sounded rather disapproving.

Takuto spat into the sink and rinsed his mouth, glancing out of the open bathroom.

“I think he might be lonely,” Takuto said. He slid under the covers beside Shinomiya who looked up at him.

“Lonely? Given how he looks at you I don’t think he’s alone in his mind.”

“I thought you were fine with him now,” Takuto said, “and it isn’t like that. He doesn’t look at me like that, Koji, he looks at us . How we look at each other.”

Shinomiya turned over, making Takuto think the archer was going to drape an arm over him from his position in the lamplight. But instead, in a gesture equally familiar, Shinomiya’s hand touched his face. It framed the side as his thumb stroked over Takuto’s cheek.

“Say it again, Takuto. Please.”

Takuto looked unsure for a moment, “say?” he echoed.

“Say my name,” Shinomiya entreated.

Takuto’s face softened, “Koji,” he cooed.

Shinomiya’s expression became a  reciprocal smile, tired, but loving  in equal measure.

“Koji,” Takuto hummed as he moved to kiss his lover. “I love you,” Takuto whispered against his lips. Takuto was too enraptured to know for sure, but Shinomiya might have been spelling it back with his tongue. Takuto bemoaned the need to move to turn out the lamp, the summer sun had hardly let the sky go dark yet. It was hardly past nine. Not that either had qualms about being in bed already.

 

“Please, Takuto.”

“Koji.”

The light went out.

“Koji.”

Sheets ruffling, a soft gasp, a happy sigh.

“Koji.”

Hands, mouths, skin, warm against skin. Takuto didn’t need to see to know, no one else would touch him like this, love him like this. Make him feel like this.

Koji .”

Chapter Text

The sun hadn’t risen yet when Shinomiya awoke to stirring beside him. Despite normally only sleeping together on occasional weekends, he already knew the signs of Takuto’s frequent nightmares. He turned over from the position he’d fallen asleep in as little spoon to look at Takuto. Shinomiya found the boy curled into himself and breathing hard. Takuto even whimpered.

“Takuto,” he said, shaking the artist’s shoulder lightly.

Takuto made another noise and fidgeted but didn’t open his eyes.

“Takuto?” he kissed the artist’s forehead then the bridge of his nose.

Shinomiya chastely kissed his lips when they quivered and stroked strands of Takuto’s hair away from tired, blinking eyes. Takuto made a small whine in his throat and scooted as close to Shinomiya as he could. In turn the archer wrapped his boyfriend in his arms and kissed his forehead.

“Another one?” he breathed.

“Happens,” Takuto mumbled.

Another forehead kiss.

“It’s almost sunrise, love.”

“Mmh.”

Takuto stayed burrowed against the archer, but Shinomiya felt him nod his head beneath the blanket. He whined again when Shinomiya got up (oh so carefully, so as not to disturb him more than necessary,) and opened the curtains to watch dawn’s first rays.

 

When he climbed back into bed, the artist was looking up at him. His tired eyes shone from the huddle of sheet around him and he blinked a few times before reaching one hand out to fist the fabric of Shinomiya’s pants. The archer sat on the bed like a couch, with his back straight against the wall. Takuto shuffled (still wrapped in the sheet, now covering the top of his pants and bare torso,) part way into his lap and wrap his long arms around the archer’s waist. Shinomiya continued to pet the soft ashen brown hair spilled over his lap as he watched the sun rise. It was a perfect start to the last day of school.

                                                                                  

Takuto’s hair had grown a fair bit since winter, he realized. His own had too, but he got it trimmed regularly. He wondered if Takuto had any regime to his hair. Shinomiya remembered something about mentioning it getting long before a break and Takuto returning with short hair, asking the archer if he liked it. He curled over the head in his lap to kiss Takuto’s hair, taking his sweet time breathing in as if Takuto were necessary air. Takuto would do that when Shinomiya held him. It seemed to help him calm down. Whether he was upset over school or a nightmare, it didn’t matter. Takuto would tuck himself into the crook of the archer’s neck and take slow, deep breaths.

Suddenly, the feeling on a kiss against his stomach brought him back to the present. They had both slept shirtless, it was a hot and humid night but neither wanted to be apart. Gods, Shinomiya was so glad they were about to start summer vacation. Another kiss and then a nuzzle brought his attention downwards.

“Nmm, love y- ” Takuto mumbled sleepily.

He was not a morning person, but he was no less affectionate despite a bare minimum of alertness.

Shinomiya couldn’t help but smile fondly and stifle a laugh, maybe someday they would watch a sunrise together, if Takuto were up to it.

 

                                                                                  ---

“What are you up to, still alone?” Naruse asked, taking his now default seat beside Takuto at lunch.
“That Shinomiya-senpai, leaving you alone so much,” Naruse tsk’d.

Takuto shook his head, “it’s not his fault, Shinomiya has too much to do.”

“Too busy for you?” Naruse asked.

“N-no,” Takuto answered right away, “but there’s so much work for the student council to do, and he has some business with the archery club and I think he’s helping out the dorm leader too.”

“Shouldn’t a lover always be with his honey if you’ve declared your love for each other?”

Takuto blushed, how could Naruse talk like that with such a straight face?

“Shinomiya doesn’t forget about me,” he said softly.

“You think of Shinomiya-senpai all the time too, don’t you?” Naruse smiled.

 

“Here,” Takuto said. He shifted entirely out of the sheet to admire his handiwork, a light bruise under Shinomiya’s ribs . It was darker than the one Shinomiya left near the crook of the artist’s elbow .

 

Takuto touched the mark covered by his sleeve and blushed again.

“Are you teasing Iwai, Naruse?” Niwa smirked, suddenly appearing behind the athlete.

“Iwai-senpai misses Shinomiya-senpai, it seems,” Naruse informed the King.

“Aww, lonely?” Niwa teased, not unkindly.

Takuto blushed and realized Niwa was taking a seat at their small table. The King suddenly seemed more serious when Takuto looked down instead of answering. It was a frequent habit of his but at the moment it seemed to bother Niwa.

“Something wrong?” he asked the artist, reaching out to him.

Niwa’s fingers brushed at Takuto’s hair as his palm settled on his friend’s shoulder.

“Huh? Oh- no,” Takuto said, “nothing. It’s fine.”

 

Naruse watched, quietly for once, how attentively and gently Niwa treated Takuto. The King slid his hand off of the artist’s shoulder as if there were no ado at all, but continued to watch with the same consideration. He commented something about Takuto not having eaten much of his lunch and the artist said something back that Niwa shrugged off with a grin.

“Isn’t the student council very busy?” Takuto asked, glancing pointedly at Naruse.

“Aw geez, yeah, I don’t even wanna think about it, that’s why I’m hiding from Hide,” Niwa admitted.

Takuto looked more alert at once, “you shouldn’t make Nakajima angry,” he said, sounding worried.

“Well, Hide can be harsh, he’d totally bust my balls in he found me here,” but Niwa himself didn’t sound concerned.

“He..he wouldn’t really hurt you, would he?” Takuto whispered.

Niwa laughed at that, “think I can’t take care of myself, Iwai-chan? Not that it’d hurt Hide to be nicer, he calls it honesty. I call it brutal.”

 

“Very brutal.”

Both Niwa and Takuto turned at the absently spoken words, Naruse blinked realizing he’d said them aloud.

“Ah...sorry. It’s nothing, just thinking,” the youngest boy said.
Niwa clenched his teeth and a fist, looking...regretful? Takuto wasn’t sure what he was seeing. The King and Naruse shared a comiserative look before both looking awkwardly away.

“So uh, do they have you working hard at tennis stuff all summer?” Niwa asked.

Naruse began to recount what he’d told Takuto about his games and summer plans at home.

                                                                                

                                                                                    ---

“He has a younger sister?” Shinomiya asked.

“Oh, I thought I mentioned that before, Naruse-kun speaks fondly of her,” Takuto said.

They stood in Shinomiya’s room after dinner, the second night in a row they would sleep beside each other.

“You speak of him quite a lot,” Shinomiya noted.

Takuto looked at the floor, “sorry.”

Shinomiya hated making his beautiful boyfriend frown. He stood little more than an inch from Takuto and fingered the hem of the artist’s shirt.

“Hey,” he said, trying to make eye contact. He nuzzled Takuto’s nose with his own and pecked his lips softly, making the artist smile in his typical shy fashion.
“Missed you,” Shinomiya said, he gave Takuto’s shirt a slight tug with his fingertips and looked Takuto in the eyes as question.

Takuto’s expression was of soft quiet but clear enthusiasm, he raised his arms in answer to readily allow Shinomiya pull the shirt off him. Then just as quickly draped his arms over the archer’s shoulders as his shirt made a very soft sound against the floor.

“Love you,” Takuto responded.

“I’ll miss you tomorrow morning too,” Shinomiya said as Takuto unbuttoned the archer’s shirt.

Takuto made a noise of assent as he started to kiss at Shinomiya’s throat, making him laugh slightly.

“C’mon, how are we to shower if we both still have pants?”

Not a moment after Shinomiya finished his sentence were Takuto’s hands at his belt, then back at his shirt, tugging it off him. Takuto scattered kisses and nuzzles and “I love yous” over Shinomiya’s chest as his hands worked Shinomiya’s pants down, finding himself highly satisfied at the rustle of fabric and clink of the belt hitting the floor.
Shinomiya cupped either side of his jaw and tilted his head to eye-level.

“I love you,” he said, before kissing him fully and taking in Takuto’s need whine when the artist kissed back.

He broke the kiss to gasp softly and lean their foreheads together; “Love you so much, I couldn’t have gotten through this rush without you.”

Don’t say that , Takuto thought. You can do anything, I know it .

 

Despite possibly melting, Takuto managed as Shinomiya walked them backwards into the bathroom. They were a tangle of limbs and touches and carelessly awkward movement as they finished undressing each other, Shinomiya holding Takuto steady as he slipped out of his pants and briefs. It took only moments for them to be laughing and kissing again under the shower spray. Takuto took his time lathering Shinomiya’s muscles with soap and dragging his fingers over them.

 

“Just one more day,” Shinomiya hummed, his hands coaxing water and shampoo from Takuto’s hair.

“Why do you have so much to do?” Takuto asked.

He let Shinomiya take the bottle of conditioner from him and massage it into his hair, untangling small knots.

“It’s no shock that there’s a lot to do, since we are essentially running the school ourselves.” Shinomiya said.

Takuto had to refrain from turning around to face him, lest he suffer from conditioner in his eyes.

“But that’s what’s suddenly makes Bell Liberty even more unique, even if it means a lot of grunt work,” he punctuated his answer with a kiss to Takuto’s nose.

Shinomiya closed his eyes for his turn and hummed at Takuto’s hands conditioning his hair, fingers in his rougher strands and stepped backwards so that the artist’s back leaned into the spray, hands smoothing the conditioner out slowly.

“But I’ve also been stalling a little bit on who will take care of the club while co-captian and I are away.”

“You don’t stall,” Takuto said, smiling.

“Hmm?”

“Nuh-uh. You and Itori-senpai are going to a national competition and you’re taking your time to make the best decisions about it.”

Shinomiya closed his eyes and leaned into Takuto’s hand, “what would I do without your faith?”

“You would have plenty of other friends and people who know how capable you are.”

He opened his eyes to meet his lover’s. His hands fell from Takuto’s hair to frame his jaw, it sure seemed to be a favorite method of his for displaying affection. He looked very serious, despite the warmth in his eyes.

“But you are the most important.”

                                                                                     ---

“Do you want to go on a date tomorrow?”

The question caught Takuto off guard as they lay cuddled together. Shinomiya’s head lay against Takuto’s shoulder, the artist’s arm around him and hand carding through raven hair.

“Do...do you have time? Won’t you want to rest?” Takuto asked.

Shinomiya kissed the artist’s collarbone through his shirt.

“Mostly I have a few more things to double check...” Shinomiya sighed, “and triple check. And discuss who the temporary archery captain will be with Itori.”

“You have lots of admirers in that club, don’t you?” Takuto murmured.

Shinomiya laughed softly at that.

“No one I’ll ever love as much as you though,” he assured.

He adjusted so that he lay half atop of Takuto, chest to chest, one arm thrown over his boyfriend’s torso. They tangled their legs and Shinomiya ran a bare foot against the skin of Takuto’s calf.

“Hmm, so soft,” he sighed,

“You too,” Takuto said, still combing the raven hair in his hand, “since you started using my conditioner.”

 

Shinomiya sighed again.

“What are you thinking?” Takuto asked him.

“How tired I am,” he said mirthfully as he moved to turn out the lamp.

“Well you’ve been working very hard,” Takuto said. “What did you want to do um, for a date?”

He felt Shinomiya’s lips move against his chest, he was smiling.

“I thought we might stop by that cafe we went to for your birthday, before the bus station.”

“A dessert date?” Takuto giggled.

“Don’t you think we deserve it?” Shinomiya asked.

“Mm, you sure do.”

Shinomiya was silent for a moment, “I..I try. I’ve always tried hard at everything I do, that’s just how best to do things...” he was silent again, though clearly hadn’t finished his thought.

“You work very hard at everything, definitely,” Takuto agreed.

“I need you,” he said.
“Sometimes I’m worried I’m pushing too hard but at the same time it’s never enough.”

Takuto pressed a long kiss to his forehead, “you are more than enough, you are amazing, Koji.”

 

Shinomiya felt the boy beneath him move and followed suit until they lay on their sides facing each other.

Takuto looked  a bit perplexed, “is something wrong?”

Shinomiya considered it a moment. He closed his eyes, opened them again and sighed. “I think the stress is getting to me,” he confided.

“You do a lot, so much and you’re still there for me, you’re still the best,” Takuto said in answer. He sighed but continued: “you’re always taking care of people. You take care of me but you also take care of your friends and the student council. I know how you worry over them.”

“The ones who are left,” Shinomiya said. “A lot of kids are realizing they can’t handle such stressful work. There’s so much to do now that the student council itself is running the school.”

“You’re so responsible all the time, you’re like a student body parent instead of president,” Takuto said.

“I’m very young for a parent,” Shinomiya teased.
“Though I know I have habits from caring for Ryou.”

“You care for him very much, it’s so obvious when you talk about him.”

Shinomiya’s response surprised Takuto:

“I never want to fail him.”

 

Shinomiya also found himself a bit surprised, if agreeable when Takuto pulled him in tight. He let himself nestle his head into the artist’s neck as Takuto often did to him. He tried to focus on slowing his breathing, they hadn’t quite fallen asleep as intended and he was terribly tired. He wasn’t used to Takuto being the one to hold him protectively, but he couldn’t say he minded it in the least.

“Koji?”

“Nmh, love?”

“I needed you first.”

                                                                                   ---

Takuto was not usually a light sleeper, he did not feel alert but he was aware when Shinomiya slipped out of bed. The archer turned around, reaching for the lamp but hesitated as his eyes met another set.

“I’m sorry my love, did I wake you?” he asked.

Takuto blinked, not really sure.
“Where are you going?” he pouted.

Shinomiya chuckled quietly and leaned over the bed, “to get a head start, so that I waste no time I could be spending with my precious lover,” he answered.

Takuto stared back at him dumbly but managed to reach for the archer as he half-crawled on the bed to meet him in a kiss. It was sweet, brief and when Takuto opened his eyes again he held the shoulder of Shinomiya’s shirt to hold him and stare into violet irises.

“You’re like dawn,” he said, not really thinking.

“How’s that?”

Takuto looked to the purple daybreak that approached. Shinomiya followed his eyes to the window.

“You’re like that,” Takuto said, sleep heavy in his voice, “I start with you.”

Shinomiya found the words a bit cryptic, but he knew Takuto was saying ‘ I love you ’ and that was all the archer needed. He wrapped his arms around Takuto, hugging him from behind where he sat at the edge of the bed. The artist leaned into him and sighed contentedly.

“Stay,” Takuto hummed.

Shinomiya dropped his chin against Takuto’s shoulder.

“Sunrise,” Takuto mumbled, he didn’t sound very awake.

He didn’t look very awake either. His eyes were hooded low but not fully closed and the corners of his mouth were both slightly upturned. Shinomiya’s fingers combed into Takuto’s hair, he inhaled and focused on the feeling of it against his fingers, especially soft after conditioning. With a minor move of his wrist he parted it so he could press his lips to the side of the artist’s throat.

 

The boy in his arms turned, no longer looking at the sunrise, fixated entirely on another realm of violet. Shinomiya vaguely registered his own reflection in Takuto’s eyes before Takuto slanted their mouths together. It was a bit awkward with their angle but that fact stopped nothing and Takuto even nipped at Shinomiya’s bottom lip in a display of playfulness. Shinomiya nipped back at him, even more gently. Takuto couldn’t fight the urge to smile and turned so that they faced each other. He opened his mouth slightly for Shinomiya when their mouths reclaimed each other but Shinomiya stayed gentle. Their kisses were never about dominance, only desire.

 

Often when they kissed, when Takuto was wanting , he seemed to be coaxing Shinomiya into a subtle dominance. Takuto led but would quickly, enthusiastically submit when Shinomiya felt sure enough. If kissing him was one of Shinomiya’s favorite ways to display affection, Takuto would gladly take everything. He didn’t have a lot to compare to, so he wasn’t sure if Shinomiya was a master kisser, but it didn’t matter. Each kiss, no matter how chaste or heated was Shinomiya’s physical need for him. Takuto loved feeling so wanted. So if Shinomiya was ever a bit clumsy, a bit slow or unsure, Takuto could never fault him.

 

“I can’t believe it,” Takuto whispered, “I’m really gonna be with Shinomiya.”

“I’m happy you’re happy, my love.”

                                                                                   ---

 

“Someone looks happy,” Niwa commented when Shinomiya made his way into the Student Council office. The King was dressed casually, as were most of the others in the office. Shinomiya himself had on his summer uniform still but had a change of clothes that were not yet packed, waiting in his room.

“Niwa,” Shinomiya noted, “you’re here early.”

He waved Shinomiya over to his desk and gave him a quick once over before handing him a small file stack. “You’re still wearing the uniform when there’s no class?” Niwa observed, “makes you look younger.”

Shinomiya gave no response and directed he desire to roll his eyes into a pointed gaze at the files.

 

“Niwa? The files?” he prompted.

“Oh this?” Niwa grinned, “thought you might like the honor of last revenue review for the trimester.”

“Revenue?” Shinomiya said pointedly.

“With Kaoru-chan of course,” Niwa said, eying the treasurers at their side-by-side desks.

As if sensing Niwa, Saionji turned to return the King’s leer with frost resonating from his jade eyes. Niwa winked and Saionji stifled a snarl and turned back around in his chair. Shinomiya was used to seeing Niwa’s impertinence towards the beautiful younger boy but it still irked him and he could only imagine it bothered Saionji far worse as the target.

 

“Good morning, Shinomiya,” Saionji greeted, Shichijo nodded as if Saionji spoke for him.

Shinomiya wondered about that. “Niwa gave me the school clubs revenue report, he wants us to review it together,” he said.

“Judging clubs based on money?” Shichijo noted, his head cocked to the side.

“I believe ‘revenue’ in this case, means what the clubs do to further boast the school,” Shinomiya said.

“Which affects their budget in the next Trimester, or year,” Saionji reminded his companion.

The other treasurer nodded in acknowledgement.
“Is this a report of each club’s accomplishments?“ he asked.

“And their reported expenses,” Shinomiya answered. “They gave the treasury the job to organize data and base budgets off of it,” he elaborated.

 

“Shinomiya-senpai, you’re going to nationals right after summer break?” Shichijo asked.

Shinomiya looked up, “I am, so is the archery club’s co-captain.”

“Nationals,” Shichijo repeated under his breath.

Shinomiya halted a moment, “actually, Saionji, Shichijo, I’d hoped to ask if you might let me work with you to catch up on class work when I’m back from them.”

If for only a moment, Shichijo’s smile was warm, Saionji caught his expression and gave Shinomiya a milder version.

“Of course.”

                                                                                   ---

Takuto had been awake, if not alert for a while by late morning, most students would probably be heading home soon. When someone knocked on his door he it had been a good idea to go back to sleep in his own room and get dressed when he’d woken.

 

“Yes?” he called, approaching the door, Shinomiya was working still, wasn’t he?

“Iwai? Yo, it’s Itori. Shinomiya wanted me to check on you,” the other side called.

Never had had Takuto been so thankful that the boy had a rough manner of speaking instead of a feminine one, he opened his door, trying not to show hesitance. Even if he and Itori had seen each other around a lot (because of how the artist clung to his boyfriend,) they didn’t interact very much. Still, Itori was Shinomiya’s trusted friend so Takuto had respect for him even if he found the third year intimidating.

“G-good morning,” Takuto said, letting Itori in.

“Well you’re awake and dressed, that’s good,” Itori surveyed.

Takuto blinked when they boy held a food carton up to him, it looked like one of the cafeteria’s bentos.

“Shinomiya wants to make sure you’ve eaten and whatever.”

“He asked itori-senpai to drop by?”

“Shinomiya’s a friend, he worries about you a lot so I’m doin’ him a favor,” Itori answered.
He shrugged it off as no big deal, but the other archer looked like he’d been up and about for a while already. His dark red hair had grown to nearly shoulder length, presently pulled it back in a neat ponytail. It made Takuto smile slightly, thinking of how Shinomiya had mentioned once or twice that their senior’s hair was long and messy.

 

“A bento?” Takuto murmured, taking the box.

“Before you think I’m going soft, he bought it, not me,” Itori said.
His demeanor was still intimidating but Takuto just caught the hint of a smile on his face.

“Thank you.”

“Eh- sure. Dunno if I’m supposed to do anything else, he just said check on you. Like, are you packed and shit?”

“Y-yes, I am fine and prepared to go,” Takuto affirmed.

Itori made a vague nodding gesture in acknowledgement. “Geez, that kid cares about you a lot. He’s a real prodigy but he works his ass off just the same as anyone else, so don’t mess him up or anything.”
It might of sounded like a scolding if not for smirk on the redhead’s face, maybe as close to a kind grin as he’d give the artist.

“Shinomiya...Shinomiya is too good to mess up,” Takuto said, forcing himself to look at Itori directly.

“Give him a break,” Itori shrugged, “kid’s only human.”

                                                                                   ---

 

Near the main gates of the campus sprawled the walkways and open areas where most of the students were seeing each other off. His bags were still in his room, he and Shinomiya would pick them up a bit later but he was meeting the archer and saying goodbye to friends. Naruse had messaged him that morning when he was in the airport, having left early to catch his flight. Takuto thought he saw Shinomiya from the corner of his vision but before he could check, two large, heavy hands dropped onto his shoulders from behind.

“Yo! Iwai!” Niwa cheered.

“Niwa!” Takuto yelped and spun around to face the King.

“Did I startle you? Sorry about that,” Niwa grinned, “you seeing someone off?”

“Shinomiya um, he had some student council things to do before he could go anywhere,” Takuto answered.

“Right, of course,” Niwa said.

“But I’m glad I could say goodbye to you,” Takuto said, smiling his shy smile.

Man ,” Niwa said under his breath so that Takuto barely caught it, “I’m gonna miss you.”

Takuto blushed despite not being certain he’d heard that right and the King did too as soon as he realized he’d spoken aloud.

“Ehhh, I mean, I love this place ya’know? I’m gonna miss everything and everyone,” he said.

“That’s why the King’s subjects care for him so much,” Takuto said softly. “You love this place and you take care of the school and the students.”

Niwa was absolutely not willing to admit to himself that he was blushing up a storm. Luckily, Takuto was too fixated on catching sight of Shinomiya waving him over to notice.

 

“I um, I have to meet Shinomiya,” he said, “have a good summer Niwa.”

The artist took a moment more to look back at him, “be safe okay?”

“Hey!” Niwa beamed, then his expression softened, “you too, okay?”

                                                                                    ---

“You’re really sure you don’t need to rest?” Takuto asked (again.)

Shinomiya gave him a look that was too mirthful to deliver its reproach.

“I can rest on the overnight bus,” he reminded Takuto.

The artist frowned and slotted his hands against his hips in an uncharacteristic gesture;
“You better,” he said, “that’s what overnight buses are for .”

“But we have a bus to take into town first,” Shinomiya reminded him, “come love, let’s hurry.”

Takuto didn’t really mind it of course, but with the suitcases they’d be trailing for added weight he worried about his overworked archer all the more. Shinomiya’s steps halted suddenly in the hallway when arms encircled him from behind and Takuto leaned his head against the archer’s. Takuto made a soft whining noise and sighed against the back of Shinomiya’s shirt. The archer carefully tilted his neck and leaned his head back against Takuto’s. He didn’t have anything to say, but plenty to smile about.

Their bus was one of the last leaving the school island that day, it wasn’t crowded but the duo weren’t as alone as they had been their first bus ride together in March. Shinomiya kept his hands on his suitcase handle while Takuto was absently watching through the window at the sights they passed. There were other students on board, several he knew, if not terribly well. His focus was more on Takuto anyway. The late afternoon sun shone through the window, streaking the side of his face and hair with light. Shinomiya wanted to lean over and kiss him. He sighed to himself, it wasn’t that this feeling was new at all, he and Takuto were head over heels for each other, but they hadn’t ventured too far out of their comfort zones for long. If he had to constantly restrain himself like this, it would be a long summer

                                                                                    ---

“Did you...Shinomiya,” Takuto was looking absently at the cafe menu, not entirely focused on what he was asking.

“Takuto?”

“Want the same thing?” Takuto mumbled, looking a bit abashed.

“Share something?” Shinomiya asked.

“Oh- um I mean, did you want the same as last time we were here?” Takuto asked.

“Hmm, if you do,” Shinomiya answered.

Takuto shook his head, “I want what Shinomiya wants.”

“You like sweets more than I do,” Shinomiya reminded him, “and you don’t like too tart, do you?”

“No I do, but we both like bittersweet,” Takuto said.

“Do you want to share something?”

 

Shinomiya resisted feeding Takuto pieces of lime tart, then kissing all the sense out of him. Every time the artist closed his eyes and smiled as he savoured a bite or opened them to reveal hazel irises Shinomiya was sure he felt himself melting.

“Shinomiya?” Takuto asked, doing his cute head tilt.

“Yes?”

“Are you thinking about something? You’re smiling.”

“I’m happy you’re happy.”

                                                                                ---

“You know, Shichijo seemed to regret that he didn’t get to say goodbye to you, you seem to have made an impression on him,” Shinomiya noted as they neared the bus station.

“He’s nice,” Takuto  said, “he taught me those formulas for science class one day when you and Saionji were working.”
He paused for a moment and looked up at Shinomiya, “they’re both brilliant, aren’t they?”

His boyfriend smiled back, “well Bell Liberty is a school of excellence, isn’t it?”

Chapter Text

The bus was crowded, packed, in fact. Takuto grimaced a bit but he followed Shinomiya into a seat and breathed a sigh of relief.

“You’ve taken crowded trains before, haven’t you?” Shinomiya asked, “are buses worse?”

Takuto nodded dimly, “yeah, I don’t know.”

Shinomiya didn’t press him further, he didn’t see anyone he knew nor anyone watching them so he squeezed Takuto’s hand in reassurance.

“I’m here, you’re not traveling alone.”

Takuto pulled Shinomiya a bit closer to lean against him and murmured a “thanks.”

 

They hadn’t been on the road very long when Takuto looked up to see Shinomiya looking out into space. He didn’t do so often, it was more a habit of Takuto’s, but he recognized it as tiredness from all of Shinomiya’s hard work. Takuto fidgeted and sat up a bit, he leaned the other way against the window and set his palm on Shinomiya’s knee.

“You can rest now,” he reminded Shinomiya.

The archer nodded and turned a bit so that he was angled more towards Takuto than the rest of the bus. He moved only to acquiesce when Takuto pulled him closer and draped an arm around him. A small voice in his head suggested he draw this moment but the rest of him to was too enraptured in watching Shinomiya fall asleep.

 

It was late when Takuto woke again, it hadn’t been a particularly bad nightmare, but he could feel the residue of emotional unsettlement. His phone said it was 3:07am and that he had a few unchecked messages. Shinomiya was asleep against him, mouth slightly parted and snoring very softly. His hair was a bit messied from sleep, but only by comparison to his usual neat combing. He was turned entirely facing Takuto, curled up slightly and looking the most childlike Takuto had ever seen him. Save for a few lights, maybe laptops or phones of other passengers, it seemed that most other travellers were asleep. Takuto cupped Shinomiya’s chin and jaw, closing his mouth. He pressed a kiss to his boyfriend’s forehead and lingered.

“I really, really love you.”

                                                                                ---
Takuto woke slowly in Shinomiya’s hold. He recognized the feeling of a strong arm around him and a hand petting his hair.  

“Nnn- Shinomiya?”

Takuto’s first instinct was to look up and kiss him but he was suddenly aware that how they were situated (with him pressed against Shinomiya’s chest and the archer’s arm slung around him, hand in his hair,) was already rather bold for being in public.

“We’re almost there,” the archer said.

Takuto gripped at Shinomiya’s shirt. His fingers clenched tightly and Shinomiya could feel him breathe in sharply. Shinomiya was about to ask what’s wrong when Takuto spoke quietly;

“What if they don’t like me? What if I can’t handle...” he looked up, eyes wide with worry, “I can’t handle so many people.”

Shinomiya held his hands, “they will love you, but we can sneak you in and you can stay in my room until you’re ready for me to show you around.”

 

Their bus arrived a little after nine-am, not bad for the traffic (even overnight.) They managed their way through more traffic to the Shinomiya homestead without too much trouble, though Takuto was visibly tired. His expression was of overwhelmed awe when he stood before the shrine entrance. “Shinomiya...lives here,” he said, eyes wide.

“I do,” Shinomiya replied, leading him up the steps seemingly towards the shrine itself.

Takuto gasped and grabbed a handful of Shinomiya’s shirt fabric when he realized they were headed to the house. Shinomiya turned to face him, looking a bit puzzled.

Takuto bit his lip, “I can’t, Shinomiya, I...five people, I’m sorry...I’m sorry I can’t,” his words were quiet but steadily revealing panic.

Gods, he felt so useless, stupid crybaby , he scolded himself.

 

“Takuto.”
The sound of his name might not have grounded him alone, but the hands holding his face, the forehead against his, thumbs brushing against his cheeks...When he opened his eyes he could tell Shinomiya was smiling gently, so calm, so obliging.

Why? I’m such a burden .

“Why don’t we go right to my room so you can rest?” Shinomiya prompted.

Takuto nodded. He gripped the back of Shinomiya’s sleeve as they waked. He wasn’t sure he took in any of his surroundings. Shinomiya was carrying Takuto’s art tote and his own suitcase, more of a burden , Takuto thought to himself.

“My parents are both working right now,” Shinomiya said, “so it’ll be my grandparents and Ryou home at most.”

“Okay,” Takuto mumbled in answer.

 

He didn’t take in much of the house either as Shinomiya led him through it, though Shinomiya didn’t call out or announce his presence, making Takuto wonder vaguely if anyone was home. Shinomiya led him up the stairs and into his room. He guided Takuto to the bed and set their suitcases down by the end of it.

“It’s fine to go ahead and rest,” he assured and pressed a kiss to the artist’s forehead, “I need to see if anyone is home right now, you can lock the door behind me if you like.”

He caught Takuto’s gaze and held it, “don’t worry about anything right now, my love. We can unpack later. Are you hungry at all?”

Takuto shook his head and bit his lip, “I’m sorry.”

“Whatever for?” Shinomiya asked.

Takuto finally let his eyes water, he was tired, too useless to fight tears.

“I’m so...such a crybaby, I can’t do anything,” he said.

He sniffled and bit his lip harder. Shinomiya knelt in front of him.

I don’t deserve this , Takuto thought, if I can’t even face the thought of meeting his family. I’m here just because I can’t be apart from him? Pathetic .

“There’s nothing to be sorry for,” Shinomiya said.

He sounded far off, like Takuto was hearing him from underwater. His hands were shaking, he could feel his chest go tight and his breaths become strained. It was like he was outside, just a bit ago, all over. Even his name somewhere...

Takuto .
Hands framing his face, fingers drawing soothing lines over his cheekbones, a thumb brushing his bottom lip and the teeth that he was pressing into it. Lips, smoother than his own between his brows, down to his mouth, gentle and coaxing until he opened slightly to the taste of Shinomiya in his mouth, honey-ginger candies they’d shared on the trip. Takuto whined softly as he tried to draw Shinomiya’s tongue against his. He whined again at the loss when Shinomiya kissed his cheek and moved to stand.

“Love you,” Shinomiya said.

Takuto watched him walk to the door, pausing to turn around before he left.

“I really love you, Takuto.”

                                                                                ---

 

“And just who were you hiding from?” a voice asked, as soon as Shinomiya came down the steps.

“Gran,” Shinomiya smiled.

The woman standing at the end of the staircase had her arms crossed but the lack of tension in her body language spoke truer.

“Shinomiya Koji, what were you doing without letting us know you got home first?” she smirked.

Shinomiya suddenly wondered how it was his father, not his mother who was Gran’s child. He swore the two women were exactly alike sometimes.

 

“Takuto needed rest,” Shinomiya explained, “he’s in my room.”

“Have you eaten?” she asked.

“A little,” he answered, “some things we packed for the trip. I’m planning to make him something when he’s ready.”

“Right, right,” his grandmother said, “Ryou’s outside with the cats, you don’t want him to think you don’t want to see him first thing, do you?”

Shinomiya grinned.

“Of course not, Gran.”

He only just made it outside and closed the door behind himself when the boy sitting on the end of the deck turned to face him and sprang up, startling the ginger cat on his lap.

“Nii-chan!” Ryou ignored the cat’s unhappy meow and made a dash to close the few meters between them.

Shinomiya beamed as he caught the boy in his arms. Such a warm child, it wasn’t a terribly common means of greeting but Ryou started to adopt it, making no attempt to hide missing his big brother. When he let Ryou go the cat was sitting a short distance away, staring at them.

 

“Natsu is much bigger than I remember her,” he noticed.

“Yeah, you haven’t seen her in a long time, Nii-chan,” Ryou said.

“Even when she was living with the neighbors it’s not like I saw the cats much. Where’s Aki? Isn’t she the friendly one?” Shinomiya asked.

“You remember that?” Ryou asked.

“You told me that in your last letter, remember? Or was it the one before?”

A look of recognition lit Ryou’s face.

“Hey, wasn’t Nii-chan bringing home the painter? Iwai?”

Shinomiya sat down on the deck with Ryou, looking out into the little courtyard.

“He was very tired from the trip, he’s resting in my room,” Shinomiya said.

He draped an arm over Ryou when the boy leaned against him and moments later heard a soft purring. Natsu had made her way back to Ryou’s lap, under his softly stroking hand.

 

“Say, are you feeling well, Ryou-chan?” Shinomiya asked.

“Huh? Why?”

“Well you’re usually asking lots of question and wanting to know everything, but you’re rather quiet right now,” Shinomiya said.

“I had a lot of school stuff I guess,” Ryou said, “I’m not like Nii-chan, Nii-chan is good at learning.”

“Ryou-chan’s not bad at it though.”

Ryou shrugged, “it’s not summer school or anything. Just late work.”

“Late?”

Ryou fidgeted, “I missed some school a while ago,” he said with another shrug.

“Ryou-”

“But they let me turn in make-up work. It was fine.”

Shinomiya’s hand lifted to sift through Ryou’s hair, fingers lingering over his forehead.

“Are you staying cool? Drinking lots of water?”

Ryou rolled his eyes and looked up at his brother, “I’m fine. I’m even going to camp then a trip with my class this summer.”

“What? All that?” Shinomiya said, worry creeping into his voice.

“Don’t say it like that,” Ryou huffed, “I’ll be fine.”

“A camp, Ryou?”

“It’s just a week,” the younger said, rolling his eyes again.

 

Shinomiya realized that the cat was looking at him. She blinked her green eyes and continued to stare indifferently. Both found their concentration broken by the soft sound of paws padding up to them. From the other side of the deck appeared another cat, (this one with a face and back of mostly brown but white underside) prancing in a towards them.

“Akiiii,” Ryou called.

Aki’s reaction was to canter up close to them, pausing to greet Shinomiya and purring right away when he pet her.

                                                                                 ---

Msg from Naruse Yukihiko : Safe travels!!

Msg from Naruse Yukihiko : Are you traveling yet?

Msg from Naruse Yukihiko :  Have you arrived? How was the trip? What’s Hiroshima like right now?

 

Takuto scrolled through his messages, mostly from Naruse noticing things about the airport or the weather in his hometown. He was very happy to see his family, he explained. Naruse was the only one he’d mentioned (or rather, accidentally let slip) his whereabouts for the summer to.

 

Msg from Iwai Takuto : Thank you. Travel was fine. It’s hot and humid, but not too bad. Shinomiya’s home has air conditioning.

 

It felt late to Takuto, he hadn’t exactly fallen asleep but he knew he hadn’t been all there as he lay staring at the wall. He heard a knock on the door and sat up.

“Takuto? It’s unlocked, can I come in?”

Part of Takuto felt absurd, and self-berating, he was making Shinomiya ask permission to enter his own room.

“Yeah,” Takuto said getting up.

The door wasn’t opening, he wasn’t sure if he’d spoken too softly or if Shinomiya were hesitating.

“Shinomiya-” he spoke up just as he reached the door and opened it himself.

“Um...hi,” he managed, standing in the doorway.

He moved a little to let Shinomiya in, though the archer didn’t close the door behind himself.

“I was going to make lunch,” the archer said, “then I could show you around if you like.”

“What’s Nii-chan making?” came a new voice.

Takuto didn’t hide his surprise when Ryou appeared in the doorway. Though to his credit, the artist didn’t try to hide himself either.

“You must be Ryou-kun,” Takuto said, smiling nervously.

Ryou’s expression was friendly as he looked the older boy up and down, scanning rather than scrutinizing.

“Nii-chan was right,” he said, “Iwai-san is pretty and a great artist. I have that painting from christmas in my room.”

Takuto’s embarrassment only worsened when Ryou dipped his head just slightly and grinned, “I’m glad we could meet.”

                                                                                   ---

“Shi-Shinomiya-san, so-sorry for intruding,” was still the first thing out of Takuto’s mouth when Gran appeared in the kitchen.

“It’s nice to have Iwai-kun here,” she said warmly, “and please, there’s too many Shinomiyas for that, call me Gran like everyone else.”

She took a moment to look at her grandsons, “and you two, Koji you just got home this morning, you are doing no work- let me make lunch, you can cook another time.”

Takuto mumbled something that no one could make out.

“What was that, Iwai-kun?” Gran asked.

“Shinomiya....um, he was going to show me around,” Takuto managed, a little clearer.

“Lovely idea, Koji, take them-” she nodded to Takuto and Ryou, “and get out of my kitchen.”

Shinomiya could only laugh as he moved to obey.

                                                                                      ---

“The upstairs is just the bedrooms,” Shinomiya said, he waved a hand to the large open downstairs outside of the kitchen, “and down here is the living room and dining area.”

He pointed out the bathroom as he led the way to the deck and courtyard. Takuto stopped to take it it in. The courtyard wasn’t terribly big, and felt even less so with the tall plank fence separating the house from the rest of the Shrine. There were a couple small trees, japanese maples and another larger one. Beneath their shade was a tiny pool and stone pagoda statue. Shinomiya led them next to the other part of the house, separated by the walkway deck.
“This one is mostly my parents home offices, and an extra room,” Shinomiya said, “that’s why it’s much smaller than the main part of the house.”

Takuto nodded lamely, trying to show he was paying attention.

 

Shinomiya looked pointedly at Ryou, furrowing his brows a moment. The younger Shinomiya’s eyes were trained on Takuto, following the artist as they’d moved through the household.

“You’re awfully quiet Ryou-chan,” Shinomiya said.

Takuto watched what must have been a silent exchange, perhaps a bit of bashfulness in Ryou’s expression, or something Takuto couldn’t quite place. Whatever it was vanished with Ryou’s callous grin and shrug.

“Mom says I should drink more or I’ll get dehydrated,” he said, “maybe it’s the heat.”

Shinomiya expression became serious, “ Ryou ,” he sounded ready to scold the child but sighed, “maybe we should all go have something cold? Ryou-chan, would you check if Gran is ready for us?”

“Sure, see ya,” within moments Ryou had run off.

 

Shinomiya took Takuto by the hand and led him into the “extra” room, which was modest and mostly bare except for a large lounge chair, a closet, desk and chair in the corner.

“What’s here?” Takuto asked.

“I asked Mother and Father if you could use this room while you’re here,” Shinomiya said.

Takuto blinked, confused.

“A place to get away,” Shinomiya clarified,

“If you want, maybe you could use this as a studio? Or you could stay in here if you wanted too, that’s okay. Upstairs in the main part is kind of crowded, I understa-”

Shinomiya fell silent at the hands on his face, pulling him close so that Takuto could ghost their lips against each others and lean his forehead against Shinomiya’s.

“Shinomiya is the best.”

                                                                                      ---

It was late and Takuto had managed as much politeness as the overwhelming setting had let him, when Shinomiya’s mother arrived home at last. Takuto made it through a dinner during which he mostly focused on eating small bites and trying to forget how many unfamiliar people sat at the same table. If he thought of it like occasional school lunches, sitting with Shinomiya’s friends, being an extension of Shinomiya, seeing only Shinomiya, it wasn’t so bad. He bid politely-shy smiles to Shinomiya’s father and grandfather. Their genetics shone in their similar faces, Shinomiya-san and Shinomiya-san; that would’ve been confusing if Gran hadn’t scolded her husband and told Takuto to call the the man “Grandfather” as everyone else did. “Grandfather” had simply shrugged and gone with it.

 

The lasting summer sun was holding on to a dimming sunset by the time the last Shinomiya came home. When Shinomiya-san and Grandfather (t he priests , Takuto recalled,) had returned, their announcement had startled him, but this voice immediately reminded him of Shinomiya’s comforting aura. All three boys had been shooed away while the grandparents did the dishes. Gran had insisted they couldn’t let Takuto help out the first night. Takuto had been sitting on the couch, sketching Shinomiya and Ryou at whatever game they were playing, when Dr. Shinomiya arrived.

 

“Ow,” Ryou hissed setting down a card, “I think I got a papercut.”

“Let’s go rinse that and get some ointment,” Shinomiya said.

Ryou laughed, “I’ll let the cats lick it clean!”

Shinomiya looked mortified, “you will not .”

Ryou rolled his eyes but followed his elder brother. He returned with a bandaid on his finger  just as the front door opened.

“I’m home.”.

 

Shinomiya moved right away to greet her, “welcome home Mother,” he said, allowing her to envelop him in her arms.

“The same to you, my son,” she said, sounding reverent.

Takuto was taken aback; sure, the other members of the household were glad to see Shinomiya and greeted him warmly, but his mother looked serene, content as if this were not a young man in her arms but her new baby all over again. Takuto’s own mother wasn’t cold really, she loved him, yet somehow this seemed totally unfamiliar to him. He felt like he must be intruding on something intimate and looked away. Dr. Shinomiya released her son and looked at the artist.

“You must be Tak- Iwai-kun,” she greeted, “thank you for being here.”

Takuto tried to look at her, he stood up and shook his head, “n-no, I’m sorry for intruding.”

“We’re glad to have you here,” she said, “have you met everyone yet, Iwai-kun?”

“Natsu and Aki are hiding,” Ryou quipped.

Dr. Shinomiya sighed, “they do that, it’s not Iwai-kun’s fault,” she assured the artist.
“Natsu especially takes a long time to warm up to people.”

 

“Fuyu,” Gran greeted appearing from the kitchen, “welcome home.”

“I’m home,” she responded warmly.

“You met our guest,” Gran added.

“And I haven’t terrified Iwai-kun too much, right?” Dr. Shinomiya winked.

Takuto flushed and bit his lip momentarily, “n-no, Shinomiya-se- er, Sensei isn’t scary,” he said.

Gran and Sensei laughed aloud at that.

“Koji brought home such a nice boy,” Gran commented, “trying so hard not to be underfoot.”

“Like Natsu,” Ryou chimed.

“Right right,” Grand said waving away the conversation, “Fuyu-chan, have you eaten yet? It’s late.”

“A little, I’m glad to be home though,” she answered.

Gran put a hand on her shoulder, “why don’t I make you some tea?”

“That would be lovely, thank you Gran.”
Sensei then turned to her sons, “it’s getting late and boys who are going to play all in the summer heat need long nights of sleep,” she said.

Ryou pouted a bit but didn’t say anything. She bent to kiss his forehead before looking at her older boy.

“Koji, did you get an extra futon for Iwai-kun? Is there anything else you need?” she asked the artist.

“I’ve got it all, Mother,” Shinomiya assured.

Chapter Text

 

“Are you sure everything will be alright here?” Shinomiya asked once he and Takuto were alone in the studio office.

“I am,” Takuto said.

“And you know where my room is,” Shinomiya said. “You don’t have to choose either. Whichever you feel like, whenever, you are welcome,” he took Takuto’s hand in his own and kissed it.  

“A-are- is Shinomiya-” Takuto started to ask. He bit his lip, “staying where all the bedrooms are tonight?”

“Do you want me to stay here?”

“Yeah.”

Shinomiya kissed his cheek before letting him go, “I’m going to say goodnight to everyone.”

                                                                                     

It was past eleven when Shinomiya returned and Takuto was unmistakably tired.

“It’s been quite a day,” Shinomiya said.

Takuto sat on the floor, looking up at him with a smile in his tired eyes. Shinomiya was pj clad where Takuto was still in the same outfit he’d been wearing since a shower early that afternoon.

Shinomiya knelt in front of him, dropping his own extra futon and blanket down. “You’ve been bearing with it so well for your first day.”

“There’s a lot of people,” Takuto said absently.

“But they like you, and you haven’t even met the cats.”

Takuto looked down and didn’t say anything.

“You haven’t changed yet,” Shinomiya noticed, changing the subject.

“Brushed my teeth though,” Takuto answered, “I’m tired.”

“Like I said,” Shinomiya chuckled, “it’s been a long day. Where are your pyjamas?”

Takuto turned to face the little pile behind him and scooped it up protectively, failing to hide the little notebook he’d shoved under his sleepwear.

“Were you drawing something?”

Takuto looked mildly panicked and clutched the pile tighter against his chest.

“What’s wrong?” Shinomiya asked.

“I’m just- I don’t- it’s not finished,” Takuto stammered.

“You don’t have to show me,” Shinomiya said calmly, “are you going to change?”

Takuto sighed in relief, he set down the pile, pushing his sketchbook away before crawling closer to his boyfriend, holding his arms out;

“Undress me?”

 

Takuto’s bold side was mostly Shinomiya’s to see, he knew this. He also knew Takuto was bold when he was hurting, he knew that the artist tended towards using his body to show appreciation because someone had taught him that was how this kind of attachment and appreciation worked.

“Are you sure?” he asked.

Takuto looked at him, unwavering in his want, “everyone is asleep?”

“Yes.”

“In the main house?”

“Yes.”

“We’re alone, just us?”

“Yes.”

“Koji.”

“Yes?”

“Turn off the light and undress me?”

 

Shinomiya stood to turn off the main light, leaving the lamp on the desk to illuminate the room. He knelt again and fingered the hem of Takuto’s shirt, pulling first the t-shirt over his head and then the longer sleeved shirt underneath. It was too hot for Takuto to be dressing like this, but he knew he wouldn’t talk him into wearing short sleeves. He didn’t reach for Takuto’s jeans, instead he pulled Takuto’s arms so that they draped over his shoulders and pressed a kiss against Takuto’s own shoulder.

“I love you,” Shinomiya said.

 

He was worshipful like this, slow and gentle (not that he wasn’t most of the time, but Takuto sometimes coaxed him into a mood that was at least as lustful as it was loving.) He took his time to attend and love every part of his artist. The boy on his lap breathed out quiet sighs as one of Shinomiya’s hands ran over his bare skin while the other arm held him in place. Shinomiya placed soft kisses against Takuto’s collar bone then left shoulder and faded scars down his bicep. Takuto whined and started to squirm away, catching his boyfriend’s attention.

 

“Should I stop?”

Takuto bit his lip but shook his head in answer, he pressed his forehead against Shinomiya’s, “want you,” he breathed.

“Your arm?” Shinomiya said.

“Just...not now, leave it please, this time,” Takuto said.

“Alright,” Shinomiya said.
He shifted his focus to kissing Takuto’s chest instead, he pressed a kiss to Takuto’s sternum and rolled Takuto’s nipples with his thumbs. His hands and kisses traveled further down and became more animated as he had less space to kiss. It was Shinomiya who whined as his large palms cupped and caressed down Takuto’s sides. The boy felt too small and thin in his arms but so much like he belonged there. Shinomiya nearly wanted to stop, to caress and kiss Takuto until they fell asleep, but his bliss disrupted by  noticing just how Takuto rocked against him in drawn out movements. His head was leaned back, his eyes closed and his mouth slightly parted as he shifted his hips in mild movements.
“Takuto,” Shinomiya said under his breath.

Was he aware of Shinomiya right then? He looked trance-like, it suddenly didn’t feel like Takuto was all there with him the way they always were. Always together, always wanting for each other.

It was Takuto’s spilling moan that pulled Shinomiya from any retained level-headedness. He crushed Takuto into a kiss far less careful and far more sloppy than usual, causing the artist to cough and break away.

Shinomiya looked at him with worried apology clear on his face. Takuto looked back, a bit confused but otherwise unbothered. Shinomiya was never rough with him, or even careless. They sat still for a moment, Takuto still in his lap, looking at each other in uncertainty.
“Wha-” Takuto started to ask.

“Where were you?” Shinomiya blurted out.

“What do you mean?” Takuto asked, brows furrowed in further confusion.

“Where were you just now, before I messed up?”

“You didn’t-”

“I want to be with you, Takuto.”

Had he been somewhere else, Takuto wondered?

“I’m sorry,” Takuto said, he cupped Shinomiya’s face and kissed him, “I’m here.”

 

Shinomiya opened his mouth with a little coaxing from Takuto’s gentle nipping at his lips. He didn’t try to keep up with the tongue against his as he carefully lowered them both down and pulled a blanket over them. Takuto turned on his side to kiss Shinomiya’s jaw and down his neck. He couldn’t help a giggle when his boyfriend turned them back over and reciprocated the action, lips and tongue, and good gods that sweet mouth traveling across his chest. Takuto pulled something out of his jeans pocket before awkwardly squirming out of them. Shinomiya noticed and looked at him curiously.

“Um, tissues,” Takuto muttered, gesturing to the crushed pile he’d dropped by the pillow.  
Shinomiya  reached to caress his boyfriend’s face and let his hand travel down the lean body, stopping to stroke his fingers softly at the junction of Takuto’s pelvis and leg. Takuto’s briefs must have gone with his pants. Shinomiya smirked and began to kiss further down the totally bare boy under him. His heart felt light, full at the trust Takuto had given him. He couldn’t tell if Takuto were even conscious of the disparity in his nakedness versus Shinomiya being still clad in PJ pants and white tee. It usually reassured Takuto when they were evenly undressed, maybe he didn’t need that at the moment?

 

“Wait, Shinomiya.”

The request stopped Shinomiya from disappearing between Takuto’s legs under the blanket.
“Hmm?”

“Come back please.”

Shinomiya crawled back up to him, mirroring when Takuto turned back to his side.

“Do you want to stop?” he asked again. “It’s okay, really, it’s okay.”

“No,” Takuto shook his head.
“No, I want you, please, touch me...but-” he paused and exhaled “hold me, please.”

He crawled into Shinomiya’s arms and the archer easily accepted him.

“Can you tell me how you want me to touch then?” Shinomiya asked

Takuto gulped but one of his hands found it’s way to Shinomiya’s waistband; “Can I show you?”

                                                                                     ---

 

Takuto didn’t really know what time it was when he managed to open his eyes and keep them open. He turned over and realized he was wearing his pyjamas, but his jeans, his underwear and Shinomiya were missing. He padded his way from the back part of the house, barefoot on the wood deck and eyes only half open. Takuto was not a morning person but he managed to stop himself from stumbling over the brown and white cat who looked up at him eagerly.

“Um, hello,” he said.

The cat meowed at him and was suddenly purring and winding around his legs. Takuto’s eyes widened a bit in surprise, he wasn’t used to such friendly cats or any creature that rubbed against him less than a minute after they’d met. The cat pranced after him when he entered the main house following him all the way to the living room.

“I see Iwai-kun has met Aki,” Gran said. She sat on the couch with a book while Ryou watched tv.

Aki pranced her way over to Gran who petted her absently before adding, “Koji will be back down in a bit.” Takuto nodded politely even though Gran had turned back and couldn’t seem him. He had no inclination to wait, not when he felt it must be late and his clothes were in Shinomiya’s room.

 

The door to Shinomiya’s room was partly open, enough so that Takuto didn’t feel awkward about slipping inside and meeting Shinomiya’s smile as he did so and closing the door behind himself.

“Good morning, you slept very hard,” Shinomiya said.  

Takuto walked over to him where he sat at his desk and bent over for a hug. The position was a bit awkward but endearing all the same.

“How late am I?” Takuto murmured into raven hair, “the house seems...emptier?”

Shinomiya turned so that they were facing each other, “late for this household I suppose,” Shinomiya said. “But you were tired, I came to check on your earlier and you were still asleep.”

“Sorry,” Takuto said, biting his lip.

Shinomiya eyed the closed door and stood, thumbing Takuto’s lip away from his teeth and ghost his own over them.

“Everyone but Gran and Ryou are out, why don’t you get dressed and I’ll make you breakfast? Your clothes bag is still in here anyway.”

Takuto draped his arms so that his wrist met at the back of his boyfriend’s neck.

“Shinomiya.”

“Yes?”

“I don’t have underwear.”

 

Shinomiya paused for a moment. “I took your clothes for washing,” he said, “after, well, last night.”

Takuto blushed a little but smiled shyly. Soft laughter bubbled out of him when Shinomiya kissed his nose and then cheek.

“I’m not undressing you this time,” Shinomiya said, “you need food. I’ll be in the kitchen, is there anything you want?.”

“Something cold?” Takuto asked.

Shinomiya made his way to the door, “I’ll see what I can do.”

                                                                                ---

 

The first few days went quite similarly. Takuto spent a lot of time sketching or working on other projects hidden away in the back office. He sat through breakfasts and dinners with most of the family, though Dr. Shinomiya seemed to come home rather late, after they’d finished. Luckily, that was the most social he forced himself to be. Aki persisted in greeting him merrily whenever she saw him, bounding up to him to demand attention. Takuto saw flashes of an orange tail and even face once, but he hadn’t run into the other cat yet.

 

One late morning found Takuto and Ryou sat on the deck playing with Aki.

“There are two cats, aren’t there?” Takuto asked.

“Yeah, or I’d be so bored right now,” Ryou said.

Aki batted at the fingers he waved over her.

“Everyone is all over Nii-chan, I haven’t even gotten to see him a lot.”

Aki nipped at his fingers when he looked down at her.

“Iwai-san hasn’t gotten to see Nii-chan much either I guess.”

Takuto flushed slightly and looked down, catching Aki’s eyes. She took it as in invitation to climb onto his legs and paw at how his sleeve moved with his fidgeting hand.

“Iwai-san, why don’t we see you much?” Ryou looked up at him skeptically.

“Um...Iwai-san...is,” Takuto fumbled, “Iwai-san is a bit much for someone Shinomiya talks about all the time. Sometimes it’s like Ryou-kun is with us,” he said in a near whisper.

“Nii-chan calls you Takuto,” Ryou said nonchalantly.

“Y-yeah, he- he’s the only one,” Takuto blushed.

“Can I call you Takuto-san then?” Ryou asked.

Takuto smiled shyly, if his pink flush had faded at all, it returned right away.

“I’d like that.”

                                                                                  ---

The first week had been quite the homecoming, Shinomiya thought to himself. It wasn’t that his family didn’t want to be around him when he came home on previous breaks, but somehow every moment he was away from Takuto and with them instead felt longer. He wished that Takuto were more comfortable and they could be together around his family. Then again, maybe it was better that they weren’t spending all of their time with locked moony gazes or locked lips...in front of everyone. No one else had said anything about Takuto hiding away, or staying mostly silent when he was around everyone at the dinner table. No one critiqued Shinomiya’s spoiling him. Shinomiya, with no reason to feel on guard, was entirely unprepared when his mother pulled him aside.

“Koji, love, let’s talk a bit,” she’d said.

 

Takuto was silently helping gather dishes and hid himself away as soon as Gran kindly dismissed him. He exchanged looks with Shinomiya, who made sure to smile as comfortingly as he could despite Sensei looking intently at him until he started to feel nervous.

“Mother?” he said finally.

“Koji?”

“Yes?”

He had not been prepared when he answered, for what came next. His mother reached into her pocket and pulled out a single packaged condom.  

“Do you know what this is?”

                                                                                  ---

Takuto should have been okay, Shinomiya would be around soon too, right? He picked up his sketchbook to caress a likeness he’d done of his lovely archer, torso half bare in his archery kimono, angled to expose his lovely, gleaming muscles. The sun had kissed him just right on many days Shinomiya stood like that, Takuto didn’t think he’d ever do him justice, but the picture was still a nice reminder. His mind wandered as he turned pages. He still thought of how simultaneously calm but intense Sensei had seemed the first night she’d held her son.

 

Shinomiya had seemed calm and happy. He spoke fondly of his mother whenever she came up but Takuto hadn’t seen his boyfriend quite like that. He tried to imagine what it would feel like for his mother to be like that but whenever that thought arose he’d wanted to squirm away, maybe even run. He steeled himself as his eyes skimmed the picture he’d drawn the first night. A figure wrapped in embrace, two heads of wavy hair obscuring faces. The embracing figure holding its “child” close with one arm and its nails driving into the smaller figure’s bleeding shoulder. He watched the red, suddenly full and rich, run down in streaks, It made the sound of soft drips as it pooled. Something felt damp, slowly falling in sticky lines from the holes in his shoulder where...

 

Where was this? Takuto took in the dirt ground beneath him, trees vibrant with summer leaves and sunlight streaming through the spaces they left. Takuto took in the dimming wood outside of the family’s house. He came through a back gate right? Somewhere. He certainly wasn’t lost, it wasn’t a big enough area and he certainly hadn’t come far, he could still see the house perfectly. But he didn’t recall getting here, he’d have focused on that and worried more but something caught his attention, a clumsy swishing sound, and then a;

“Mrrrow.”

He looked down to see Aki who looked up at him curiously. He sat down with a sigh, it felt cooler in the evenings and Takuto half wished he’d brought his sketchbook- then he immediately remembered why he hadn’t. Aki climbed up to wedge herself between his knees and chest and tapped her head against his.

“Thank you, Aki,” he said and resigned to petting her, as unfamiliar and uncertain as their position was.  
He’d let himself relax to the tempo of her loud purring when he realized there was another cat before him.

“Oh, um, hello,” Takuto said.  

Aki stepped off of him and brushed against her sister before Natsu came closer to sniff at Takuto. Aki wove around Takuto’s knees, brushing against him and nuzzling his calf. Natsu looked at her and came up to Takuto’s open hand, she also nuzzled against him until Takuto had more attention at once than he knew what to do with.

                                                                             

“Takuto?” Shinomiya said as he appeared in the back office. The light was on but it was empty. The bathroom light however was not on. Shinomiya frowned and checked outside. He was just coming upon the open back gate when he saw Takuto carrying Natsu, Aki at their heels.

“There you are,” Shinomiya said.

Natsu made a quick leap to get away when Shinomiya hugged his boyfriend.

“Shinomiya?”
“Are you aright?”

Takuto followed Shinomiya back to his temporary studio-room.  

 

“I’m fine,” he said finally. “I wanted to walk around, I do kind of stay in the same place a lot,” he admitted.

“That’s good,” Shinomiya said, “I was actually hoping you might want to go out with me and Ryou tomorrow.”

“Where are you going?” Takuto asked a bit warily.

“Haircuts before Ryou-chan goes to camp next week.”

Takuto looked up curiously, he threaded one hand in Shinomiya’s hair, gripping softly at the raven strands. He leaned his head against Shinomiya’s shoulders and kissed the side of his throat as strong arms dropped to hold his waist.

“Just us three?” he said, speaking up just enough to be clear.

“Out in public admittedly,” Shinomiya answered.

“Could we look for an art store?”

Shinomiya’s grin stalled his words before he could say them.

“Certainly, my love.”

“But, I don’t want it to be a big deal,” Takuto said, he gulped and tightened his grip both on Shinomiya’s torso and hair.

“Takuto?”

“I don’t want to talk about- I just want to paint without her finding out.”

“Who? Who’s finding out?” Shinomiya echoed.

Takuto’s only response was to tuck himself tighter against Shinomiya but Shinomiya backed up, he held one of Takuto’s biceps in a loose grasp and held the other hand against Takuto’s face.

“What’s wrong?”

“It’s nothing, sorry for saying something so weird,” Takuto muttered.

Shinomiya tilted Takuto’s head up. Why couldn’t Takuto meet his eyes when he was upset?

“Why don’t you want people to know you paint? You’ve painted before, you seem to love getting lost in your art, but you told your mother...” Shinomiya stopped himself.

“Why?” he repeated after a moment.

Takuto had his eyes shut tightly, his fists clenched at his sides. Panic, shut down, his go-to defense mechanisms. Maybe they were easier than whatever he’d have to deal with instead. Shinomiya’s heart ached at the thought and he brought Takuto into a protective hug. He didn’t understand what was going on with Takuto’s homelife or what had happened in the past, but it sure didn’t seem very healthy. If he was afraid of his mother, used and abandoned by his big sister figure, never mentioned another parent...

 

He let Takuto kiss him instead of crying, full and needing. Shinomiya backed them until they reached the lounge chair and pulled the thinner boy into his lap.

“Love you,” he breathed, kissing the corner of Takuto’s jaw.

Takuto sighed against Shinomiya’s hand caressing his face and whined when it left to join the other in unbuttoning his shirt.

“You’re so beautiful, Takuto,” Shinomiya said and proceeded to kiss down his neck.

“Nn- no, I’m not,” Takuto mumbled.

“Don’t say that,” Shinomiya coaxed, “you are adorable.”

He nipped and licked the at the base of Takuto’s throat.

“Don’t,” Takuto insisted, “please don’t.”

“Takuto?”

It was starting to feel like a terribly frequent thing, his inability to understand what was wrong, Takuto wanting him, asking for him yet pulling away. He didn’t understand what left Takuto spontaneously stuck in his own head, which was apparently a place of nightmares.

 

“Don’t. Don’t be this nice,” Takuto said, “why are you so nice to me when I can’t give you anything? Why don’t you take anything?”

Despite his words, Takuto let his boyfriend hold him, let himself curl into the archer.

“I love you,” Shinomiya said calmly.  

His hand ran soothing strokes up and down Takuto’s back as he spoke.

“You have given me so much. You gave me your time and loyalty,“ he kissed Takuto’s hair absently.

“You gave me yourself and I took you away.”

“Do you really want me?” Takuto whispered.

“What? Of course!” Shinomiya said, “why would you think that?”

Takuto maneuvered up and went over to the closet to pull out the futons.

“Takuto?” Shinomiya stood and came over to him, passive aggression was not really something Takuto did. Or aggression at all.

“Takuto why would you think that? Did I do something to make you think that?”

“You always stop, you ask if I’m sure all the time,” Takuto said.

Shinomiya looked entirely confused.

“I, I say what I want, what I ca-can’t do but you don’t push, you never push me and it’s not because you...um..”

Takuto was blushing as he fumbled for words, “you...it’s not because you’re not hard that you stop. So why? If you want someone bad enough don’t you push them down anyway or at least conv-”

No .”

Shinomiya couldn’t listen to this. Who taught this sweet boy that he didn’t deserve respect? He spoke as if it were for lack of want that Shinomiya listened when he was uncomfortable. Shinomiya sank down to face Takuto where he sat on the futons.

“Takuto, is that what you thought? That I didn’t pressure you because I don’t want you?”

 

Takuto couldn’t answer, he couldn’t bring himself to look up either but he followed Shinomiya’s lead when the archer parted his knees and sat between them. He leaned into the kiss Shinomiya initiated and let his boyfriend guide him to lie on his back. He relaxed into the feeling of Shinomiya’s hands pulling his wrists over his head and Shinomiya’s knees framing his hips. Takuto breathed in deeply when Shinomiya’s mouth left his, still holding his wrists on either side of his head and looking at him with a  dead serious expression.

“I love you, Takuto,” Shinomiya said, his voice was laced with hurt and confusion, echoing some of Takuto’s own feelings.

“I don’t want to press you because I love you. I love you and that means if you are uncomfortable, so am I. Do you understand? I only want what makes you happy and I feel sick if you don’t like what we’re doing. I want you,” he said.

He choked on a dry laugh, “gods Takuto, I always want you, but not if you aren’t happy. If I did anything out of only lust I would hate myself.”

 

“Koji.”

The use of his name in such a lighter tone caught him off guard. Takuto wriggled his wrist and Shinomiya let go of them both, hands supporting himself still. Takuto pressed a hand against Shinomiya’s cheek.

“Koji, I don’t understand and I don’t deserve you, but I love you.”

“Don’t say that,” Shinomiya repeated, ghosting his face over Takuto’s.

“But I love you,” Takuto repeated.

Shinomiya smiled and kissed him properly, pulling away to add; “okay you can say that.”

Takuto giggled and nuzzled against him, all the merrier when Shinomiya’s own stifled laugh joined his.

“Shall I tell you something horribly embarrassing?” Shinomiya asked just shy of bashfully.

“What is it?”

Shinomiya moved to sit in front of Takuto instead of leaning over him. He reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a foil wrapped condom.

“My mother wanted to make sure I knew what this is,” he said. He sounded as much mortified as amused. In an instant though, his demeanor tightened back to serious, “and that nothing we do should ever hurt or feel uncomfortable and it’s important to check in.”

Takuto looked like he was stuck between intense blushing and having all of the blood drained from his face.

“Sen...sen..sei...” Takuto stuttered.

“I thought she was going to tell me to get the correct size too,” Shinomiya himself looked like he was going to break into a mild fit of hysteria.

“Sensei said...that...” Takuto muttered.

“She also said, when people look at each other the way we do...” Shinomiya found himself caught in Takuto’s stare instead of finishing.

“I love how Koji looks at me,” Takuto whispered.

And then he was crawling up to Shinomiya, kissing his forehead and lips and pulling at his shirt, happily helping him pull it off and kissing him as soon as his face resurfaced.

“Lie down?”

Shinomiya obeyed readily, humming his contentment as Takuto’s fingers grazed over his chest and stomach. Soon after lingering touches Takuto added lingering kisses. He’d positioned himself between Shinomiya’s legs, mouth and hands on his torso. He added little nips as his tongue grazed Shinomiya’s abdominals and pressed a gentle kiss right below his navel. Takuto kissed at the skin that vanished below the hem of Shinomiya’s pants and could hardly wait for Shinomiya himself to unfasten them to pull them down. He pulled Shinomiya’s briefs right off with them, pulling an excited gasp from said boy as well.

 

“Love you,” Takuto said, kissing one of Shinomiya’s hips. He felt giddy when he tore another excited, highly encouraging gasp from Shinomiya by biting the inside of his thigh. His mouth continued to travel until he enveloped the tip of Shinomiya’s developing hardness. Shinomiya moaned when Takuto swallowed around him, causing Takuto to smile and break his suction.

“I love you,” Takuto hummed against Shinomiya’s thigh before biting and sucking a colouring bruise.

“Takuto,” Shinomiya whined.

Actually whined in need and the sound made Takuto hungry for him all over. Already emotionally charged, Shinomiya knew he wasn’t going to last long. Whether it was the tongue against his, (Takuto even sucked and bit him,)  or Takuto’s mouth on him and...gods he was going to have marks on his scrotum. He came with a gasp of his boyfriend’s name and felt gentle hands on him as he rode it out. It didn’t take him long to recover though, he was sitting up by the time Takuto had returned from the bathroom with a washrag. Looking around, he realized (much to his embarrassment,) that he must have come mostly on Takuto and himself since he didn’t see much evidence elsewhere.

“Ah- sorry,” he muttered as Takuto wiped him off.

Takuto kissed him quick and cheerful, as if he hadn’t just been cleaning bodily fluids off them both.

“I take it you feel better for now?” Shinomiya asked.

Takuto’s answer was to kiss him again, deeper this time.

That seems a little too easy , Shinomiya thought but kissed Takuto back all the same. Takuto ground their hips together, revealing his own erection and habitually Shinomiya pressed back against him.

“Can I return the favor?” he asked in something between a growl and a purr. Funny, that was more of Takuto’s thing but it had slipped into his voice all the same.

Takuto swallowed and stood, moving to turn on the lamp and switch off the overhead light.

“Where did you-” he started to ask, but located the condom before he could finish.

 

Sex turned out to be a messier affair with more steps to it than Shinomiya might have imagined, but he wasn’t complaining when he had a lubricated condom and a very enthusiastic boyfriend pulling him on top of himself.

“Same as before?” Shinomiya asked, pulling Takuto’s pants off from where the artist had shoved them down to his thighs. Takuto bit his lip and nodded but clutched at the hem of his shirt, a sign that it was going nowhere for this. Shinomiya didn’t comment or mind though, whatever made Takuto most comfortable.

“Hand me that pillow?”

Takuto did as request and lifted his hips again so that Shinomiya could elevate them slightly. He started the same as previously mentioned “ before ”, covering Takuto’s hips and legs and pelvis with lavish kisses preview to starting to suck in earnest.

“Koji...nnaaa, Kojiii,” Takuto whined fidgeting against the urge for more of that mouth.

 

Shinomiya was glad to see the excess of gel when he opened the condom. He wriggled a finger into it before moving to making gentle circles around Takuto’s entrance, earning him a gagged sound that might have been a moan or gasp or something else entirely. His other hand stayed busy stroking what of Takuto’s length he didn’t have his tongue running up and down at some points and whole mouth on at others.

“Koji...Koji,” Takuto whimpered, he was starting to sound witless already.

Shinomiya didn’t take long before pressing one finger into Takuto, trying to pay attention for any sign of discomfort, but Takuto seemed at peace, if not minor bliss and didn’t seem to notice the second or even eventual third fingers. Takuto groaned and whimpered unevenly to Shinomiya’s strokes inside of him and panted lowly at the pace of his tongue.

“Shinomiya....Koji, ohhh,,” he sounded higher by the second.

Shinomiya might have guessed how close Takuto was when he gripped a handful of raven hair; the clutch served as Shinomiya’s warning and he watched Takuto’s head tilt back and his lips part, eyes blown wide. Somehow it was beautiful. He pulled himself up next to Takuto, wanting to touch and kiss him but also hesitating to interrupt.

 

“Oh Koji, wow ,” Takuto finally said.
“There’s something...I knew it but there’s a place...um...in there...”

“That feels good?” Shinomiya guessed.

“Y-yeah.”

Shinomiya tangled their legs together, taking in Takuto’s happy sigh at the touch.

“Oh but- you’ll get dirty again,” Takuto worried, though the muscled arm over his stomach didn’t seem to be a sign that Shinomiya cared.

“We could shower together,” he suggested though he didn’t make any move to untangle or get up.

“I guess we could do that,” Takuto said.

“You don’t sound very excited about that,” Shinomiya said.

“Y-yes, I want...with you, um, but,” Takuto stuttered, “I don’t...I don’t want to take my shirt off right now.”

Shinomiya frowned, he understood, as best he could anyway. He slid an arm under Takuto’s head and pet his hair.

 

In the end, they cleaned off and changed, Takuto held his eyes closed and let Shinomiya change his shirt for him. Shinomiya’s gaze traced over Takuto’s arms, but he was careful not to linger and leave Takuto shirtless for too long. He pulled the shirt over Takuto’s head and helped align his arms into the sleeves before pulling the shirt the rest of the way down. His finishing touch was to drag his palms against Takuto’s clothed sides and kiss the bridge of his nose, when he looked back at Takuto’s face, the artist’s eyes were open and watching him. Takuto spread one hand against Shinomiya’s cheek and sighed, smiling tiredly.

“What is it?” Shinomiya asked.

“Shinomiya is truly beautiful ”

Shinomiya let Takuto pull him down against the futon and curl into his arms. He stared into the dark as Takuto seemed to drift, Shinomiya’s petting his hair lulling him further.

“Takuto,” Shinomiya murmured, “don’t you know how beautiful you are?”

Chapter Text

If only he could always wake up this this, with Shinomiya wrapped around him, still physically present before the dawn. Takuto knew Shinomiya would likely have woken, changed and eaten by the next time he woke. His fingers spread out against Shinomiya’s face, touching, caressing, assuring himself that this boy was here, was his. He couldn’t trust that. Shinomiya was too perfect sometimes. Handsome, popular, though the archer promised that Takuto was the one he was closest to and loved the most. Shinomiya seemed to be everyone’s friend, or almost anyway. Why did someone who could have spent his time with anyone on campus keep choosing Takuto?

 

Come to think of it though, Takuto couldn’t name many of Shinomiya’s friends off the top of his head, could he? Even if he knew Shinomiya had other people he spent time with. Takuto’s eyes felt heavy again, his time with a sleeping Shinomiya coming to a close for the day. He couldn’t really have been physically closer but he tucked himself into Shinomiya’s hold before nodding off again.

 

“Be good for Itori” a distant voice instructs.
It feels like one of them is underwater but he can’t tell if it’s him or the speaker.

 

“Look at you, so grown up, going to senior high.”

 

“Tori?”

“It’s okay isn’t it? This is what you do when you love someone.”

“Ye- yeah- yes...I...I love you too.”

 

“We should go to your room.”
“O-okay.”

She must have been able to see how uncertain he was.

“Lay back, it’s okay, I’ll show you what to do.”

 

“I love you, you’re so good.”

He squirmed but said nothing when she kissed his arms.

“So brave.”

(No, not there. Please stop.) He didn’t say it though and she didn’t ask.

 

Takuto was not crying when he awoke, but he felt like something inside him was sinking. It was a familiar lingering sensation after the occasional nightmare. He grabbed his sketchbook and walked out of the studio. Takuto didn’t get very far, finding himself a seat in the courtyard and sat on the ground with his knees pulled close to his chest and his back against the deck. He couldn’t remember what else had happened but the nightmare made him want to gag.

 

“Maow.”

In the time he had been in his head, Natsu had walked up to him. She rubbed her head against him and closed her eyes contentedly when he pet her.

“Hey- I thought I was the only one Natsu liked.”  

Takuto looked up to see the brothers coming from the main house.

“I wasn’t sure if you’d be up yet,” Shinomiya said, “I’m going to make breakfast this morning.”

Takuto scooped up Natsu and followed the brothers inside, though she lept out of his arms as soon as she saw Aki in the dining room.

 

“We should leave for the bus stop a little after you’re dressed, if that’s alright,” Shinomiya told Takuto over dish duty.
Takuto wanted to kiss him, but instead settled for a mild, “yeah,” in answer. He gave a quick glance at where Ryou was sitting near the couch with Natsu and Aki then looked down and reached out to squeeze Shinomiya’s hand.

“I love you, you know that right, Shinomiya?”

 

Takuto felt himself momentarily stunned when he could have sworn Shinomiya looked bashful at a statement they exchanged rather often.

 

“I know, I love you too,” he said.

Takuto bit his lip and looked up, he glanced over his shoulder again and chance a quick peck at Shinomiya’s mouth, making Shinomiya blink in surprise. Takuto being bold could mean he felt comfortable or it could mean he felt needy and different type of insecure than his usual.

“You should change,” Shinomiya said.

Takuto didn’t say anything as he left the kitchen for Shinomiya’s room.

                                                                                  ---

He couldn’t have spent long changing, though he really had no concept of time between trading his pyjama shirt for a shirt he hadn’t slept in. Another one with long sleeves, a button-down. He turned around when he heard a knock at the door. Takuto didn’t understand why Shinomiya always knocked but he didn’t think twice about opening the door before buttoning his shirt.

Shinomiya looked him up and down and closed the door behind himself, “I’m glad I came alone,” he said fondly.

Takuto blinked but quickly realized Shinomiya’s hands were at his shirt, buttoning it carefully.

“I love you,” Takuto whispered when Shinomiya reached the collar.

Shinomiya leaned into him and kissed the side of his exposed throat. “We should go, before I can’t think about anything but taking this shirt right off you.”

 

Takuto had noticed that Shinomiya was very tactile with people he was close to. He let his grandmother pat his shoulder and face, he let his grandfather rest a hand on his arm and he let his mother greet him with fond touches and forehead kisses. He still had no idea what to do when he saw them together even if they didn’t know he was approaching. A couple time Sensei returned home when her sons and Takuto were on the couch and she greeted both of her children with forehead kisses. A couple of nights ago she’d returned in this manner.

 

She’d laid a hand over Shinomiya’s and exchanged tender smiles with him. Takuto really didn’t understand, he kept feeling that he should avert his eyes with the way Sensei looking so adoringly at her children. She looked so happy to see Shinomiya and every time she touched him it looked like she were a new parent all over again.

“I’m glad you’re home, my love,” she’d said.

“Mama, aren’t you glad I’m here too?” Ryou piped up.

Takuto was half certain he’d seen his mother make the same expression as Sensei then. Except when his own mother did it tended to accompany words that meant he had to force him smile.

Sensei cupped his face and kissed his forehead, “of course, my changeling. Isn’t it late? Koji, shouldn’t you all be getting ready for bed? Growing boys need rest.”

Shinomiya stood, “of course Mother. Well Ryou-chan? Can you fly up on you own or do I have to carry you?” he teased.

Ryou stuck his tongue out before making a dash for the stairs, ignoring his brother’s warning to be careful running around. Shinomiya was tactile with his brother too, he tucked him in and kissed his forehead just like their mother did.

 

“Why do you do that?” Takuto asked one night.

Shinomiya closed Ryou’s door as he met Takuto in the hall, the artist looked mortified at himself for asking. “Well, Gran and Grandfather just let for their trip, Mother and Father are still working and it’s nice to tuck Ryou in when I’m home, even if he is getting too big.”

 

“You...kind of act like his mom,” Takuto mumbled.

Shinomiya looked amused instead of bothered, “heh, are you upset because I spoil him too?”

When Takuto looked down instead of answering Shinomiya regrouped, he ran his fingers into the artist’s hair and kissed Takuto’s forehead.

“That’s a habit my mother and I have,” he said. “She told me once that it’s an affectionate way of checking to see if his forehead is warm. She never wanted to alarm him, but we all worry still.”

 

Takuto didn’t know how or what to say so he nodded, even if he wasn’t sure he understood. For Shinomiya that kind of thing was just another form of affection, no matter how overt. But there are other things Shinomiya only does with me , he reminded himself.

                                                                                  ---

Even now as they walked through the neighborhood, Ryou held his brother’s hand. The late morning was hot but a breeze seemed to be sweeping across the area, making it mercifully bearable for Takuto to walk around.

“Nice, isn’t it?” Shinomiya commented, noticing Takuto’s contentment at the breeze.

Takuto nodded.

“What’s nice?” Ryou asked.

Shinomiya smiled, looking from Ryou back to Takuto.

“Takuto seems happy with the breeze,” he said, absently reaching to tuck a strand of hair behind the artist’s ear as they walked.

Ryou watched, not seeming terribly phased by the gesture, “Takuto-san’s hair is long, Nii-chan likes long hair.”

                                                                                  ---

“Gran says hello to everyone,” Shinomiya said, setting the phone down. He turned back to where Ryou and Takuto were drawing together at the table.

“Are they coming back from their trip?” Ryou asked.

Shinomiya shook his head, “not for another week, remember?”

Ryou turned back to the cat Takuto was showing him how to draw.

“Are you all packed?” Shinomiya asked.

“You asked that already,” Ryou said, not looking up.

“And?”

“Yeah, I am.”

Shinomiya stood behind Takuto’s chair and laid a palm on his shoulder.

“Shinomiya?” Takuto looked up at him but Shinomiya shrugged off the gesture as absentminded affection.

                                                                             

“Takuto-san, what’s next?” Ryou asked suddenly.

Takuto returned to his tutorial for Ryou, finding it a bit endearing that Shinomiya seemed just as engrossed in Ryou’s enthusiasm as Ryou was in his lesson. Shinomiya dropped a hand on Ryou’s head and laughed when Ryou pointed out how disproportionate some of his cats features were.

“But it looks fine,” Takuto said, earning a grin from Ryou.

“Right Shinomiya?”

Takuto grinned brighter than he had around anyone else thus far, he looked comfortable,  like he belonged here in this moment. He felt like spending the rest of daylight looking into Takuto’s forest hazel eyes, he wanted to kiss him right then and there.

“Hey- what are you doing?”

Ryou’s voice snapped them out of their ill-timed moment.

“S-sorry Ryou-kun,” Takuto stammered.

“Yeah,” was all he got in response.

Takuto wasn’t sure what to do with the current and sudden tension, “are you excited, um about camp, Ryou-kun?” he  asked cautiously.

“Yeah.”

 

Ryou didn’t stay cold but there was something underlying and not entirely obvious in how he treated Shinomiya and Takuto for the next day. He let Shinomiya hug him goodbye and see him off though and Shinomiya seemed satisfied when he and Takuto returned to the empty house together. Takuto curled into him on the couch and sighed.

“Just us,” he hummed.

“I’m not sure it’s sunk in yet,” Shinomiya said, “Gran and Grandfather are on a trip, Mother and Father are working during the day and now Ryou’s away for the week. We should go on a date. Every day if you feel like it,” Shinomiya grinned.

Takuto gave a happy gasp and sat up only to pounce his boyfriend. He began raining happy kisses across Shinomiya’s face and before either knew it they were a laughing mess.

 

“Hey,” Shinomiya said, as they lay spooned on the couch a bit later.

“Yeah?” Takuto asked.

“Do you want to sleep in my room for a while, if that’s okay?”

Takuto giggled softly.

“What is it?” Shinomiya asked.

“N-nothing,” Takuto stuttered.

“Really?”

“Uh- w-well...I thought...” Takuto sat up and scooted a small bit further away.

Shinomiya watched him with the same warm patience he always used to coax Takuto.

“It’s a little like this is our home...um, together. That, that room feels like my space sort of and I’m happy to wake up there and remember whatever we did the day before. It- it feels good. It feels good to be with you.”

Shinomiya sat up slowly, looking at Takuto with a happy ache in his expression. He stood up and drew Takuto with him.

“Where are we going?” Takuto asked.

“My room.”

 

They spent several days mostly together, they ate with Shinomiya’s parents in the mornings and evenings but had the rest of the day to themselves. Takuto was happy to follow Shinomiya, walking around the grounds or errands Shinomiya went on like the dutiful son he was. Takuto liked the feelings it gave him, the sense of domesticity that he didn’t understand, whether it was watching Shinomiya practice at his small archery setup at home, or folding laundry together or helping out while Shinomiya cooked.

                                                                                 

“Does this seem too salty? I tried not to use much,” Shinomiya said.

He stood over the stove and watched it with utmost seriousness, carefully, he blew air at the little soup scooper before offering it to Takuto.

“I think it’s perfect,,” he answered.
Just barely he managed to bite back an additional you’re perfect . There were too many times that Takuto could only think; “ don’t look at me like that or I’ll have to kiss you. ” It wasn’t that they couldn’t keep their hands off each other, but they were young and in love and he had never been so happy as he was with Shinomiya.

                                                                                   ---

It had been a longer day than most recently, errands, visits, his obvious fatigue had prompted Shinomiya to suggest a bath.

“You’re still wearing everything,” Takuto noticed.

Shinomiya knelt before the tub, if it had been only a few months ago he might have been overwhelmed at the sight before him; Takuto in only an open shirt.

“You wanted me to first?” Shinomiya sounded like he was taking a moment to catch up.

Takuto blushed easily given the right prompt, pink tinge already threatening to spread from his cheekbones. “I- I wanted to with- with you but if you don’t,” he fumbled, “it’s fine if-”

“Would you like to take a bath together, love?” Shinomiya filled in.

Takuto sighed his relief, “y-yeah. I want you.”

“Alright then,” his archer replied, “I suppose I should change the temperature just a bit, if that’s alright? Tell me if it’s not hot enough.”

Takuto knelt as well to run a few fingers through the water, “whatever Koji wants.”

 

Want, and want meant Takuto right then. Shinomiya held and kissed him and pressed himself into the roaming hands that began to undress him. Takuto groaned what would’ve been a terribly enticing sound had Shinomiya not recognized the twinge of pain if his artist's voice.

“Takuto?”

“Koji wait- ”

They’d spoken in tandem.

“I want to,” Takuto said, he ran both hands over Shinomiya’s bare chest, “but I can’t. I’m so tired.”

“That’s fine, love, shall we get in while the water is still warm?”

“I’m sorry.”

Shinomiya slid his arms under Takuto’s to bring him up as he stood. He pressed Takuto’s shirt back from the artist’s shoulders and gently pulled one sleeve off of him then took the bare wrist and kissed the scars up Takuto’s arm while he slid the shirt off the rest of the way. A true gentleman though, Shinomiya didn’t leave Takuto to be naked alone and made quick work of his pants and briefs.

“Well, my love,” he coaxed, “how do you want me?”

 

It had taken Takuto a moment to recover from the question but he wanted to cherish their time and be truly present  knowing it would be one of their last nights mostly alone. Ryou was coming home soon.

“Tell me something,” Takuto said.
He lay a bit twisted with his side pressed against Shinomiya’s chest and leaving too much of his torso above the bathwater.

“Yes love?”

“Something I don’t know yet, about you,” Takuto said.

“Alright then,” Shinomiya said, sounding contemplative.

The artist rearranged himself so that they lay nearly chest to chest to face Shinomiya when he spoke.

“Here’s something I don’t think I’ve mentioned, it took me most of the first year to get used to hot baths.”

“Hot baths?” Takuto echoed.

“We used to worry all of the time that if Ryou had hot baths, he might accidentally boil. I used to be there with him all of the time, especially when we were both younger.”

Takuto hmm’d, “sounds like everyone watches out for him all of the time.”

“We can’t always predict when something will go wrong, I couldn’t risk leaving him alone too much.”

Most precious person , Takuto thought.

“I want to be yours.”

“Aren’t we?” Shinomiya responded, not missing a beat.

Takuto was certain he was not flushed from only the heat, he wasn’t sure how much of that he’d spoken aloud, given he hadn’t meant to speak any of it.

“Yes,“ he managed and pressed against Shinomiya, pointedly. The skin contact felt so good, Takuto couldn’t help a soft moan and tilted his head back. Shinomiya’s hands framed Takuto’s hips and one rose to cup his cheek when the artist leaned toward him for a kiss.

 

“I’m yours but you always ask if I’m sure, if I want this,” Takuto said.

“You’re not obligated to anything,” Shinomiya said.

“But you’re my boyfriend,” Takuto said, sounding a bit confused.

“I am,” Shinomiya agreed, “but that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to refuse anything or change your mind even if you want something at first.”

“I want you all the time,” Takuto said.

“I want you too,” Shinomiya answered.

Takuto traced a couple wet fingers across his lover’s jaw, “even now?”

“If you do.”

Takuto adjusted to kiss Shinomiya’s neck and rock their hips together slowly, “always want you.”

“Do you think...” Shinomiya started to say and then he had to catch his breath and the fire in Takuto’s kisses, he was colouring a nice shade of pink quite fast.

“Think?” Takuto said, switching to the other side of his neck.

Gods, wasn’t it usually Shinomiya who liked covering his boyfriend in melting kisses? Everywhere ?

“Takuto...if it’s allright...could you er, find that spot again?”

Takuto pulled his mouth off of Shinomiya to look directly at him, it was the closest to a wicked grin Shinomiya was sure he’d ever see on this boy.

“I can try.”  

                                                                                  ---

Shinomiya, spent and panting beneath him was one of the best sights Takuto had ever seen, he was a bit mortified to realize the sight alone had pushed him over the edge. He scrambled to stand and get a warm washrag to clean them. Takuto looked at him, hopelessly in love and bashfully blissful. Takuto had cleaned them, he realized, but truly, he needed nothing more than to hold him right then. Shinomiya reached out for him, entirely satisfied when Takuto crawled into his arms and settled the blanket over them. He was pretty sure they kissed before he fell asleep, but he might have been dreaming already.

 

                                                                                 ---

The first light of the day came early as it always did in the summer, the light clarifying more of Takuto’s features to Shinomiya’s already dialated eyes. He’d looked into this face so many times the last few months, mapped it with his mind and fingers as he was doing now. Shinomiya took a long moment to kiss Takuto’s forehead instead of letting himself get drawn into kissing the sleeping boy any more.

 

It was he who promised he’d pick up Ryou, he reminded himself as he dressed. Not to mention being the one his brother got to see the least and said he missed the most. He said it again when they neared their homestead.

“Nii-chan?”

“Yes Ryou-chan?”

“Do you miss me when you’re at school?”

“What are you saying? You know I do. I worry a lot too because that’s my job as your nii-san.”

“You should stop worrying about me, I’m not a little kid anymore.”

“You still need to pace yourself,” Shinomiya reminded him.

Ryou scoffed, “Nii-chan is one to talk, you got up early and you’re tired. You should go back to sleep if you yawn again.”

“Hmm, maybe.”

                                                                                 ---

Takuto wasn’t sure what time he’d gotten up, only that when he wandered into the main house, Sensei was just getting home.

“I’m home,” she said absently, then seeing Takuto, “oh, good morning Iwai-kun.”

“Welcome home,” Takuto said, then blushed at his semi-automatic response, “um, I mean-”

“Thank you,” Sensei said.

He still didn’t think he understood her at all, the men in the family seemed distant enough to him and Gran acknowledged him but didn’t push much. Sensei however was friendly to him, maybe with more reigned in enthusiasm than Ryou, but she made it a point to greet him, to ask him about his day once in awhile and accept his short answers.

 

“Um, Shinomiya left breakfast for us, he-he left a note,” Takuto managed. “Since Sensei started night-shift this week.”

“Such a sweet boy,” Sensei said warmly, she reminded him of Shinomiya in that way.

“I’ll be eating then,” she said, “please feel free to join me if you like.”

 

“Mama!” Ryou cheered.

The brothers walked in on the sight of Takuto and their mother sitting down to breakfast together.

“Ryou, not so loud,” Shinomiya scolded, “Mother has been working all night.”

“Koji, love,” Sensei said, brows furrowing, “my boys look tired too.”
“I’m fine!” Ryou declared, “I ate already, so I’m going to put my stuff away.”

“Do you need some help, Ryou-chan?” Shinomiya asked.

“Nooo, I got it,” Ryou grinned, “Nii-chan can join Mama and Takuto-san.”

Sensei looked between the teengers, “Takuto-san? When did he start calling you that?” she asked.

“I-it didn’t take long,” Takuto said nervously.

“It was because I call Takuto by name,” Shinomiya added.

“Ryou never wants to be left behind by his big brother,” Sensei said. She looked at Takuto, “May I call you Takuto-kun then, if you don’t mind?”

Mother .”

“Yeah,” Takuto said, he looked down at the table, but smiled at it all the same, “okay.”

“Mother, why don’t you rest, we’ll clean up,” Shinomiya suggested when they’d finished.

“You should get some rest too, Koji love,” she said, hand touching his head slightly in an affectionate gesture.

 

“She’s right,” Takuto said a bit later, “I could stay with you, but you got up so early.”

“I guess you would know just what I need?” Shinomiya teased.

Takuto had no idea why but he was sure that made him blush.

“C-c’mon,” he said and led Koji up the stairs.

Chapter Text

“I’m going to miss this,” Shinomiya said.

They lay facing each other, cuddled close in his bed atop the covers.

“Miss what?” Takuto asked.

“Stretches of day with you,” Shinomiya said, “days of nothing but my beloved.”

Takuto wasn’t sure how to answer that, he was just getting used to saying “boyfriend” when Shinomiya seemed to have no trouble with terms like “my love” or “lover”. He kissed Shinomiya softly.

“I like this a lot too,” he said, “being like this, with you.”

Shinomiya ran his fingers through a stretch of Takuto’s hair before settling his hand back on Takuto’s side. “I like holding you,” Shinomiya said.

“You sound sleepy,” Takuto smiled.

“Tired,” Shinomiya agreed.

He rested his head against Takuto’s shoulder the way the artist often did to him and sighed the same way the artist often sighed his contentment. Takuto petted his hair as he drifted, just as Shinomiya often did to him. He wished they could stay like this and that everything else would go away. At least it would for moments at a time.

 

“Nii-chan?”

Takuto gasped, instantly sitting up to face the child staring at them from the doorway.

“Ryou?” Shinomiya echoed.

The brothers stares met and held for a moment.

“Aren’t you too big for things like that?” Ryou blurted.

He didn’t wait for an answer, only slammed the door behind himself as he left.

“Ryou!” Shinomiya called, following him immediately into the hall.

“It’s fine,” Ryou said. “It’s fine if it’s like that but why not me anymore?”

You said you were too big for me to coddle you,” Shinomiya answered.

“So Takuto-san is a little kid?”

“N-no, he-”

“Nevermind, it’s fine”

“It’s not, not if you’re upset,” Shinomiya said.

“I’m not upset, it’s fine,” Ryou shrugged, “whatever. I’m gonna go find Natsu.”

 

                                                                                 ---

Msg from Naruse Yukihiko: Shinomiya’s younger brother only stayed home for a couple of days?

Msg from Iwai Takuto: Yes. After his camp, Shinomiya and Ryou-kun spent a couple days together but then Ryou-kun left for his class trip.

Msg from Naruse Yukihiko: What’s it like watching them?

Msg from Iwai Takuto: What do you mean?

Msg from Naruse Yukihiko: You said that Shinomiya-senpai is parental towards his younger brother.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: Shinomiya watches over him a lot.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: Yeah, like a parent.

 

Shinomiya doted on and actively cared for Ryou in ways Takuto hadn’t been able to recall his mother doing very much. Like how Shinomiya cooked whatever Ryou asked for during the few days the boy was home, making sure he ate well as “growing boys need to in order to become strong.”

 

Msg from Naruse Yukihiko: Shinomiya-senpai is good at cooking?

Msg from Iwai Takuto: Yes.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: He made a raspberry sauce when the confection he made for dessert wasn’t sweet enough for Ryou-kun.

Msg from Naruse Yukihiko: What a good brother! They must get along very well.

 

“Leave me alone, Nii-chan! I’m fine. I’ll be fine.”

“You won’t be if you don’t rest and eat properly.”

Takuto felt Shinomiya’s thoughts linger on him at that comment.

“Everyone else said it was okay, you’re not our mom, so stop bothering me.”

“At least promise you’ll tell the adults if you don’t feel good on your class trip?”

Ryou rolled his eyes.

“Shouldn’t you be happy? Nii-chan can spend all his time with Takuto-san.”

“S-sorry Ryou-kun, I’ve taken too much of Shinomiya, haven’t I?”

Ryou didn’t answer.

“Takuto it’s not your fault,” Shinomiya said.

“I should be happy you’re pampering Takuto-san instead of annoying me,” Ryou growled and stomped away.

 

Msg from Iwai Takuto: How is Naruse’s younger sister?

                                                                                 ---

I should be grateful that Ryou was only jealous, Takuto thought, (or so Shinomiya had explained when he’d come back to his nervous boyfriend,) not disgusted or hate me for stealing his big brother .

 

Takuto ,” Shinomiya sounded urgent as he appeared in the courtyard.

Takuto slid his phone back into his pocket and looked up.

“Mother is still on night shift this week,” Shinomiya said, “and Gran and Grandfather are still on their trip and Father won’t be home-”

“Shinomiya?” Takuto said, “what are you talking about?”

“It’s Ryou,” Shinomiya said, trying to stave off panic, “Ryou had a flare up. I knew he was pushing himself too hard.”

“Flare up?” Takuto echoed. “What’s going on?”

“Mother has to pick Ryou up and take him to the hospital,” Shinomiya said.

 

The rest of that day was a bit of a mess, blurring together in Takuto’s mind. He was aware that he made the trip with Shinomiya and Sensei, that Shinomiya cradled his exhausted baby brother as they drove back into town and to the hospital. He didn’t understand what particular nuance there was to this urgency or why no one called an ambulance instead. Mostly he remembered how clearly distraught Shinomiya was all that day, but that he managed to bring Ryou pizza and other goodies that evening after sitting by his younger brother’s side whenever he could.

 

He and Takuto had waited outside of Ryou’s room on and off that day as nurses and doctors made their way in and out, but now, Shinomiya was sitting by Ryou’s side and held his hand as the younger boy dozed off again to the murmur of the IV pump.

“Sorry Nii-chan,” Ryou mumbled for the nth time that day.

“It’s not your fault, you has nothing to be sorry for, you didn’t do this,” Shinomiya repeated again that day.

“Then why?” Takuto heard the younger boy say.

Ryou’s eyes blinked to a close and not a moment before then did Shinomiya let his face screw up with anguish. Their  parents had come in shortly after that.

“Koji, love,” Sensei said,  her palm on his face (Takuto now understood where Shinomiya got the affectionate gesture from.) “You should take Takuto-kun home, Father can stay tonight.”

Shinomiya looked at his mother with an expression Takuto couldn’t recognize, it was less agonized than before but clearly not alright.

“You can come back tomorrow,” she reminded him.

 

                                                                                   ---

He couldn’t sleep that night. It was just them in the house, with his father staying with Ryou and his mother working night shift. They lay in his bed together, Takuto let Shinomiya hold him protectively.

“Takuto...” Shinomiya breathed. There was no purpose to it, just something to say in his tired voice.

“It’s okay,” Shinomiya said, his hand ran gently over Takuto’s hair, “it’s going to be okay.”

“Yeah,” Takuto said, just for something to say, “it’s okay, it will be okay.”

Shinomiya kissed the side of his neck, “please, be okay.”

Takuto wasn’t sure who Shinomiya meant that to though, was it really him?

 

The next few days were similar, Shinomiya spent his time with Ryou, who was feeling far better but was on orders for IV medication through the rest of the week. He rolled his eyes but indulged his big brother when Shinomiya wanted to hold his hand as they walked around the hospital. Takuto had seen Shinomiya doting on his brother and taking care of others at school in an almost parental way, but he’d never quite seen the brotherly tenderness and worry with which his boyfriend watched over Ryou.

 

He found them on an afternoon midweek, asleep in Ryou’s hospital bed. He could only gasp, then clamp a hand over his mouth. Ryou was curled into Shinomiya’s chest, looking less tired but far smaller than his big brother. Takuto couldn’t help but think their closeness was mostly for Shinomiya’s sake. He held on when he was afraid for someone, he was a person who wanted always to protect those he loved.

It’s happened before ,” Shinomiya had mentioned, “ flare ups I mean. He’ll be okay, I know he will but ...”

Takuto felt so helpless, he wished he could do something. He was caught in a state of not understanding but not being able to focus on anything else either, he wasn’t even replying much to Naruse or Niwa’s messages and hardly looked at his phone at all until it rang.

 

And then his world fell apart.

 

“Mama?”   

                                                                                     ---                                                                             

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I’m sorry to leave, I’m sorry to do this by message, I thought about calling you but I didn’t want to wake you or Ryou if you’re still asleep and I know your messages are muted.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: Mama called and said I have to come home. I went back to your place to pack.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I’m so sorry.

                                                                                 ---

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: I’m coming home, are you still there?

Msg from Iwai Takuto: Yeah.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: You’re not about to leave are you?

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I have to pack.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: Still?

Msg from Iwai Takuto: Yeah.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I didn’t think about a key.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: You’ve been outside for two hours?

 

Takuto was half expecting Shinomiya to be angry when he got home, he didn’t really know what he thought.

He had physically resigned himself to slumping against a tree near the front door when Shinomiya found him. Even without Shinomiya speaking, Takuto knew it was his name on the archer’s lips, he knew he must have stood but he was sure no time and also far too much had passed between when he and Shinomiya spotted each other and when they crashed into each other’s arms.

 

“Let’s go in,” Shinomiya said after a minute.

They barely let go of each other as they moved but made is only as far as the top of the stairs before Takuto seemed to freeze.

“I don’t want to,” he said under his breath.

He felt Shinomiya behind him pulling him into a hug, back to the archer’s chest as Shinomiya’s chin rested on his shoulder.

“What’s going on? Why do you have to go home?”

“She said so, she said I have to go. She’s my mother, Shinomiya..” Takuto sounded so defeated.

“But you’ll be back at school, I’ll see you at school,” Shinomiya grasped.

Takuto shrugged out of his arms instead of answering and went into Shinomiya’s room. Shinomiya followed him and found him kneeling by his suitcase.

“You’re not going to be able to get a train or bus ticket this late,” Shinomiya said, “it’s already evening, you definitely can’t get a plane ticket to get to Chiba, not an affordable one.”

 

He knelt down as well to wrap Takuto in much the same kind of hold.

“You should stay here tonight, even if you have to leave tomorrow.”

Takuto leaned back against him, if only they could stay like this.

“You haven’t eaten today,” Shinomiya said, worrying over the meal Takuto had barely touched.

“You can’t eat like this either,” Takuto said quietly.

“Shinomiya is too anxious without Ryou, because you love your younger brother so much.”

“I do,” Shinomiya sighed, “I suppose it can’t be a good idea to force yourself too much.”

“I’m sorry, Shinomiya.”

“Why would you be sorry?”

“I took you away from Ryou-kun, you really want to be with him, don’t you? Instead you had to leave to be with me.”

“It’s not a competition,” Shinomiya said.

Takuto tried to smile and nod like he believed that and Shinomiya’s conviction fell.

“Oh, Takuto,” he said, “oh love, I’m sorry.”

He moved to stand over where Takuto still sat, leaning slightly over him. It might have seemed like looming if it weren’t a tender action, the way he threaded one set of fingers into the artist’s hair and leaned their foreheads together.

 

This is how he comforts , Takuto thought, me, only me .

 

“He is my brother,” Shinomiya said, “it’s different.”

“You love him very much,” Takuto repeated.

“I do, Ryou is my brother, but I love you. I don’t want him like this,” Shinomiya pressed warm kisses against the side of Takuto’s throat, making him moan his want ever so slightly.

“Shinomiya...”

“I want you , only you,” Shinomiya said at his ear.

“I love you.”

Takuto’s emotions and bodily senses both pled for Shinomiya to straddle him and kiss and touch him until he was an unthinking mess. He didn’t want to be dutiful, he didn’t want to obey.

“You should make sure you’re packed,” Shinomiya reminded him, “I can clean up.”

Takuto sighed his disappointment, why did his boyfriend have to be so responsible?

“Come on, love,” Shinomiya said, “then you can forget about everything else when you’re done.”

                                                                                    ---

“Takuto?”

“Y-yeah?”

Takuto was kneeling over his suitcase again, it was closed.

“Sorry that took so long, do you want to shower now?”

“Y-yeah, thanks,” Takuto said as he stood.

He bit his lip as he looked his towel (and only towel) clad boyfriend over.

“There’s a towel and robe in there for you,” Shinomiya said.

Takuto stood in front of Shinomiya and pressed a palm flat against his toned chest and the other in a fist by his side, he looked up from the muscles to kiss Shinomiya, sweet but brief.

“I’ll be back soon,” he muttered, he stopped to look over his shoulder before walking through the doorway, “don’t, um, don’t go anywhere.”

 

Takuto looked determined when he reappeared, robe clad and one first clenched still.

“Turn on the lamp,” he instructed and turned off the overhead light as soon as the archer complied.

Shinomiya did not like assumptions, Takuto knew, but he was good with routines. If they showered separately and turned off the lights, he still didn’t assume what they’d be doing that night. Shinomiya was even wearing PJ pants; Shinomiya did not assume.

“Shinomiya,” Takuto breathed.

The fact that he made no move to dress was a another hint, as was the fact that instead he walked up to where Shinomiya sat on the bed and wrapped his arms around the archer’s head, letting it lean into him while Shinomiya hugged Takuto’s waist.

“It’s been a long day for you,” Takuto murmured.

“For both of us,” Shinomiya answered, “I wish you didn’t have to go.”

“I don’t...don’t want to,” Takuto faltered.

“I’m sorry Takuto,” Shinomiya said, kissing his chest through the robe. “I’ve neglected you badly but you still stayed and supported me.”

“I love you,” Takuto answered, kissing his forehead, “it’s really hard for you right now, it’s okay.”

“It’s not, but thank you,” Shinomiya sighed and looked up at him, violet eyes even darker in the night.

Takuto leaned to kiss him warmly, one hand held the back of Shinomiya’s head and the other pressed something into his boyfriend’s hand.

 

“Koji,” Takuto pushed him back slightly and straddled his lap.

Shinomiya could’ve guessed that what Takuto had given him was a condom and lubricant packet without looking at it, but he looked back at Takuto for assurance all the same. Takuto met his eyes with resolution.

“Make love to me.”  

Those pools of hazel did not waver but their fragility echoed Shinomiya’s own.

“Please Koji, let’s forget, just for tonight. Be with me.”

“Yes.”

“In me,” Takuto stated, he didn’t wait for Shinomiya to protest out of worry.

“Please, Shinomiya, I’m ready, I want it so bad.”

“Gods I want you too.”

 

With his lover’s clear permission Takuto framed Shinomiya’s jaw and kissed him again, his lips, face, down the side of his throat before reconnecting their mouths. The kiss was sweet, pleading and Shinomiya answered by lowering him to the bed and copying his actions, kissing along his jawline, below his ear and down the side of Takuto’s throat. He licked a thick stripe from the dip in Takuto’s throat to his chin and kissed up the corner until they were lip-locked again. Takuto struggled not to break their kiss and when he did, to keep reconnecting as he slid out of the sleeves of the robe. He reached for Shinomiya’s pants clasp next, prompting an:

“ah, wait,” from the boy above.

Takuto pulled back and waited as Shinomiya undid the robe’s tie.

“Lift your knees and move up a bit?” Shinomiya requested.

He pulled the robed a bit further down, flat against the bed as Takuto moved up.

“Shinomiya?”

“It’s er, it’s like a cover for the bed,” Shinomiya said hastily.

“Okay,” Takuto said, “come here then?”

Shinomiya knelt over him as they kissed again and Takuto’s hands made their way back to the hem of his pants. Shinomiya moved his hips to help Takuto slide them off and then his briefs, leaving them both now naked. Takuto propped himself up somewhat and beckoned Shinomiya atop him so that the archer supported himself on his knees above his lover’s lap.

“I love you,” Takuto said.

He admired the athletically sculpted muscles before him, fingers and lips ghosting and caressing and nipping upwards. He sighed in tune with Shinomiya’s own breaths and sounds of pleasure which suddenly came from deeper in his chest as Takuto laved his over a nipple then bit, sharp but careful.  It was too bad he couldn’t leave bite marks all over Shinomiya, Takuto thought to himself, he seemed to enjoy the sensation if not the marks themselves. Takuto’s palms pressed flat against Shinomiya’s chest and his fingers splayed, following his soft kisses and bites back downward until he couldn’t reach further.

 

Shinomiya gasped again when Takuto’s fingers brushed his erection then slid past it to stroke his balls. He panted and the sudden charge of sensation between Takuto’s hand on his scrotum and  mouth on his stomach and chest.

“Takuto...Takuto...” he choked, “that...that place...please...It’s too much.”

“Too much? Should I stop?” Takuto asked.

“Please don’t,” Shinomiya said, managing to grin.

Oh , that place inside?” Takuto asked, reaching for a lubricant packet.

“Please.”

Takuto wasted no time tearing into the lubricant but was far more careful when he reached two gelled fingers down Shinomiya’s cleft.

“Let me sit up,” he muttered as he did so.

He positioned himself so that with one hand he could massage and tease Shinomiya’s entrance while his other stroked his erection. It took him not even a minute before sliding a finger into his crumbling lover and another soon after to scissor them. He knew when Shinomiya cried out, that he’d found the right spot and wasted no time in driving Shinomiya mad with both hands, only pulling his fingers out when his other hand was covered in come. Shinomiya sank back into a heap for a few moments before Takuto pulled him up so that they lay next to each other. He coaxed Shinomiya down with slow kisses until Shinomiya was kissing him back.

“Gods Takuto,” he said on a harsh exhale, “I love you so much. ”

 

Without warning Shinomiya grabbed Takuto and yanked from him a startled, (if enthusiastic) squeak which morphed  into happy sighs and moans as Shinomiya started decorating every bit of skin he could reach with hungry kisses.

“Love you,” Shinomiya repeated.

He trailed to Takuto’s shoulder and down to his chest and made Takuto cry out when he gave special attention to one nipple, Takuto had proven more sensitive there than he. He felt Takuto’s hand grip his hair rather hard when he sucked, only exciting him further. His artist fell apart so easily in his hands (or mouth,) he felt almost afraid to have such  power over anyone, let alone the person he was so in love with. Shinomiya was determined to use it wisely.

“Takuto.”

He kissed over Takuto’s side, paying attention to each rib one at a time and continuing to his hip.

“Turn over?” he entreated.

“B-but I..I...” Takuto stuttered, “I want to see Shinomiya when-wh-when we-”

“We can do that,” Shinomiya said, “can I try something new first?”

“Y-yeah.”

“Then turn over?”

Takuto let Shinomiya guide him to lie on his stomach and had no regrets when the archer straddled his hips and continued kissing down his back. Though Shinomiya’s touches and kisses felt nice, surely there had to be more to it, surely if it were not Shinomiya, if they weren’t so in love and desiring of each other it wouldn’t feel this good.

“Koji...” he sighed, “love...Koji. OH-”

Shinomiya’s kisses had far progressed down his spine and the archer’s fingers were at his butt, one hand on either side.  

“Takuto, can I here?”

“Shi-Shinomiya?” Takuto looked over his shoulder to see Shinomiya flushed and flustered.

“Um, with my mouth.”

“Oh...yes, okay. Nhh -.”

As soon as he’d said yes, Shinomiya parted him and pressed his tongue flat against his entrance.

Oh ...yes..okay,“ Takuto said through a shiver, he didn’t know what he’d been expecting but it hadn’t been this immediately good . Shinomiya’s tongue swirled around before prodding very carefully. It should have felt strange, or maybe it did but Takuto didn’t mind at all.

“Shinomiya...Shinomiya, yes ,” he panted.

Shinomiya loved turning him into this, a pleasured mess, quickly regressing from coherency to raputre. He’d only managed it a couple of times before but if this was one method, he would remember that. He pushed his tongue as deep as it would go and grazed it against Takuto’s walls, making him bawl into the pillow.

“Shinomiya...Shinomiya wait!” he cried, sounding frenzied.

As always, Shinomiya stopped as soon as Takuto told him to.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

Takuto looked over his shoulder, “n-no, nothing, but it’s too soon, I want to come with Shinomiya inside me.”

Shinomiya smiled softly and left a tender kiss on one cheek before letting Takuto turn back over. He tried to kiss the side of Takuto’s jaw but the artist was determined to kiss him too and pulled Shinomiya’s face over his to slot their mouths together.

“I love you,” Shinomiya said against his chest.


He kissed up and down again, open mouthed over Takuto’s chest and finally settled on a downwards direction toward his pelvis. He guided Takuto’s body so that he could sit between the artists spread legs and kissed one of his knees and the inside of Takuto’s thigh.

“Love you,” Takuto said on an exhale.

“Love you too.”

There was a soft rustle as Shinomiya felt around for the lubricant and condom. The gel had gone from cool to tepid since sitting out but there was still enough left, especially as the condom came pre-lubricated too. Shinomiya sighed his relief at finding that and kept kissing the inside of Takuto’s leg as he traced a slicked finger around the hole his tongue had just left.

“Shinomiya...Koji, uh, go ahead,” Takuto urged.

Shinomiya complied but tried hard to be gentle at sliding the finger in, he’d be damned if he made Takuto uncomfortable again , but the sounds of Takuto’s steady breaths and approving sighs were a good sign.

Shinomiya was careful and noted that Takuto seemed slightly disappointed when he withdrew, only to sigh with relief when Shinomiya pressed back with two fingers.

More ,” he all but whined, this was weird, always weird, but not bad and he was too caught in his blatant desperation for Shinomiya to care. Still, Shinomiya took his time, swirling and scissoring and moving fingers back and forth. He had yet to find Takuto’s prostate though by the time the artist was holding back sobs and telling him;

“Now, Koji, please. Now .”

 

Shinomiya made sure they wasted no lubricant and moved to hold himself over Takuto and kiss him. Takuto felt consumed in the cherishing kiss, firm but gentle, hungry but undemanding, just like Shinomiya. He choked and gasped into the kiss and Shinomiya’s lips and fingers were on on his face, caressing as he slid inside slowly. It didn’t hurt, and with Shinomiya’s other hand at his dripping erection Takuto couldn’t figure out what to focus on or even how to focus. It was all too much. Even the physical sensations couldn’t compare, no matter it what it was he needed more of his lover, all of him .  He was sure he was crying, crying and smiling and gasping and breathing erratically to Shinomiya’s movement and kissing his lips whenever he could reach them.

 

“Don’t...” he said, breath haggard when Shinomiya’s pace slowed, “don’t stop.”

His world hazed around him, coming into focus when Shinomiya spoke.

“I won’t, Takuto, but,” Shinomiya’s words came strainingly and Takuto realized he must be catching his breath too.

“Don’t hold back,” Takuto coaxed, “we can again if you want, if...”

Takuto didn’t bother to finish his sentence, instead drifting in for more slow kisses and encouragements when Shinomiya picked up his pace again. Maybe this was a part of their communication as necessary as words He crossed his ankles over Shinomiya’s lower back, refusing to let him go and resisting the need to slack when he came over Shinomiya’s hand.

“Don’t stop, please. Koji,” he said the name like a sleep-drifting prayer, “don’t stop yet.”

He knew Shinomiya obeyed, felt it as he drifted and held him when the archer sank on top of him.

“Don’t move, stay in me,” Takuto whispered.

The contact felt amazing even as he let his calves sink a bit. Shinomiya was so lovely, bedraggled, panting softly with eyes low-lidded.

“I love you,” he whispered.

He placed a soft kiss to Takuto’s jaw, it could’ve been chaste had Takuto not sought after it. He drew Shinomiya into an effortless exchange and let his hands roam, seeking to excite Shinomiya again.

It wasn’t much of a task given how keen they both were despite fatigue. Shinomiya gave Takuto lifeforce, a charge of sorts, one he found entirely necessary and Takuto gave Shinomiya a softness, a feeling of being wanted as much as needed. He needed Takuto too, needed him like the oxygen he cared less for than kisses, needed to hold him and be held the way Takuto wrapped around him and ground himself up into Shinomiya’s abdominals. Something inside him sparked at irregular intervals, Takuto’s simple presence and desire drawing him back to stiffened size.

 

Takuto gasped softly and moaned loudly as he felt Shinomiya expand inside him and bear down onto him.

How could anything be better than this already was, with the person he loved so much? Shinomiya inside and on top of him, all around him, taking only a few words, “ ready, ” “ I love you, ” and pressing his pelvis up so that he pressed Shinomiya evermore into him, to move again. Shinomiya held on to him, hissed and shivered with pleasure at Takuto’s nails digging into his back. He hissed out a “ yes ” and focused with each thrust on giving Takuto’s erection, trapped between them, the friction it so needed. Takuto could guess from Shinomiya’s stuttering movements how close he must be, could feel Shinomiya’s breathing go irregular as he faltered, rocking himself through orgasm into Takuto. As his knees slackened Shinomiya reached up to cup Takuto’s cheek and kiss him desperately. Takuto twisted his hips to better align with how Shinomiya determinedly ground into him, perhaps delirious on endorphin high but not wanting to end alone.

 

“Rest, my love,” Shinomiya said at last, “I hope I’ve tired you too much to worry.”

Shinomiya had them burrowed to their chins in the sheet and wrapped around each other. He must have cleaned up after them because Takuto noticed there was no residue on them, in fact, the robe was not beneath them anymore. For a while longer, he decided, it needn’t matter what happened to any towels or tissues or clothes. There were not heartaches for them to face head in that very moment and they were not about to separate for weeks, (even if it were only a few weeks.) He kissed Shinomiya lazily, adoringly, wistfully and pressed as close to his beloved as he could.

“I want to keep coming back to you,” he whispered, sure Shinomiya himself wasn’t awake.He let his lips linger in something of another kiss. “I wish I could crawl into you and be home.”

Chapter Text

I want to go home , Takuto thought multiple times since leaving the Shinomiya household. It had taken incredible restraint not to spend several minutes kissing Shinomiya instead of getting on his train. The whole ride he’d wanted to cry, he would think of Shinomiya’s hands on him, Shinomiya kissing him, Shinomiya rocking into him and his heart would ache. His hips did too, if only vaguely as Shinomiya had insisted on massaging them the morning after. “ Home ” was not his mother’s apartment. It was not the place she had ordered him back to and it was not her arms when she hugged him upon arrival. He wasn’t even sure what “home” meant the way the desire kept floating through his mind, but whenever he thought the word, he thought of Shinomiya. He thought of falling asleep in Shinomiya’s arms and waking up wrapped around him.

“Welcome home my baby,” his mother cooed.

He gave her a smile she pretended not to notice him forcing it.

“I’m home, Mama.”

“I was starting to worry about when you’d get here,” she said. “I thought maybe you didn’t want to be here anymore even though this is your home.”

Takuto didn’t say anything.

“You need to have something nice to wear for tomorrow night,” she continued.

“To-tomorrow?”

She grinned and blinked at him, “didn’t I tell you I have a surprise for you?”

“Um, I think so.”

“Shall I tell you what good thing happened?”

“O-okay.”

“I’ll tell you over dinner, baby, I just have to finish it up.”

“Mama cooked?” Takuto could feel his smile threatening to show.

“Of course, to welcome you home,” she said and kissed his cheek.

“Thanks Mama.”                                                                           ---

“Did you have a good time with your friend?” his mother asked over dinner, she still hadn’t told him what the ‘surprise’ was.

“My- Shinomiya?”

“That athlete?”

“Archer,” Takuto said, he couldn’t help a tiny proud smile. “Shinomiya is going to a national competition right after the break.”

“That’s right, you’re excited for him?”

“Yeah.”

“Well you should be excited for yourself too,” she said, “and proud.”

When Takuto didn’t answer after a long minute she continued as if there was no tension.

“Takuto, you know you’re a great artist, don’t you?” she prompted.

He suddenly stiffened.

“You’ve won all the contests you entered, you hadn’t even told me about them,” she went on.

“N-not all,” he said.

“Well one of the groups you won with is having a show in two nights, in Tokyo, and they’re featuring your art. It looks like some of your old paintings, you should do those again,” she said cheerfully.

Takuto seemed to be in a state of constant tension when he was back at his and his mother’s apartment, even so he could feel his insides tighten.

“I- I don’t paint Mama.”

“But you should! You’re so good, Takuto when we go to that show you should tell the group you submitted your oil pastel fireworks piece to. You could debut as an artist and be a family of artists.”

“I’m not- I can’t paint for him, that man!” Takuto cried, standing up from his seat.

“Don’t call him that” his mother barked, suddenly affronted.

“Mama, he doesn’t treat you well, he doesn’t treat us ...we’re not his family.”

 

Takuto jolted as his mother’s cup slammed down against the table. She looked both furious and stony. “I can’t deal with you when you act out like this, you didn’t used to act like this,” she said. She stood without so much as a glance at him and left the table. A couple of minutes later she passed by again holding her purse and left the apartment without a word. Takuto let go of the breath he’d been holding and began to cry softly.

                                                                        ---

“Yo! Iwai? What’s up?” Niwa answered.

Of course he’d answer his phone right away, such a popular guy like him.

“N-Niwa...I...I’m sorry it’s kind of...late to call but-”

“Iwai? You sound funny, you okay?”

“Urgh,” Takuto hiccupped and sniffled.

“Iwai are you crying?!”

“S-sorry...sorry I don’t know why I-”

“What’s wrong?!” Niwa demanded, “oh crap, Iwai are you- you’re not hurt are you?”

“No- n-no I’m...sorry Niwa, I’m okay, sorry to bother-”

“You’re not a bother, what’s wrong?”

“I-I fought with my mom...she- Mama stormed out and I shouldn’t have spoken like that to her and-”

“Hey, calm down- um no wait,” Niwa probably swore under his breath, at least that’s what Takuto guessed.

“I’m okay, sorry again.”

“You don’t have to apologize Iwai. Need a distraction?”

“That...thank you Niwa, that would be nice.”

“Yeah? Well I’ll be here as long as you need me. So what’s a happy thought?”

Shinomiya, ” Takuto said absently, “um, I mean, being at Bell Liberty.”

“Maaaan really?” Niwa scoffed, “I’m not ready to go back to all that work, and I bet more kids will have quit on the Student Council too. Uh wait, that’s not happy.”

“Shichijo and Saionji will still be there, right?”

“Hell yeah, I think so!”

Takuto didn’t know how long their conversation went on, but he must have gotten a bit lost in it because suddenly he heard the front door open.

“Oh um- I have to go, thank you Niwa.”

“Hey, Iwai?”

“Yes?”

“How do you feel now?”

“Better.”

 

There was a quiet knock on his door as his mother peeked in.

“Hey baby,” she said with a smile soft like her tone.

“Hi Mama,” Takuto couldn’t quite reciprocate.

“Think we’ve cooled off now?”

He nodded, “yeah.”

“Why don’t we go out together tomorrow, shopping for something nice for you to wear. It’ll be a mommy-and-me day like we used to have.”

A decade ago , Takuto thought, but he couldn’t deny it sounded nice to have some fun and attention. She would once fawn over him and have fun dressing him up and sharing smoothies. She let herself into his room and sat on his bed. “What do you think, Takuto?”

He nodded again, “yeah, sounds fun.”

She draped an arm around him and pulled him into a hug, “I miss my sweet little guy,” she said. “Where’d he go? Y’know, the happy shy boy who’d hold my hand and hide behind me and paint and sing tunes with me.”

He didn’t say anything.

“That little guy was scared of the dark and needed extra spoiling a lot,” she faced him and tapped his nose with one finger. “I miss spoiling my baby.”

                                                                              ...

Takuto was actually having fun. He would like shopping more without crowds but he didn’t really mind watching his mother pick out items and humoring her by trying on different combinations. The way she beamed at him, told him what a handsome boy he was, he couldn’t help but smile back.

“I bet if you were a little more assertive you’d be attractive, don’t grow up on Mama too fast, okay?”

He hoped his smile hadn’t vanished all at once.

 

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: Ryou seems a lot better. I miss you.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I’m so glad he’s okay! I miss you too.

Msg from Shinomiya Koj i: Are you alright? What happened? I’m so sorry it took me almost three days to message you.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: It’s okay, it wasn’t three days, you sent me those sweet messages when I was traveling back here. I’ll explain when we go back to school.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: I love you, Takuto.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: I can’t wait to be with you again.

 

“Baby? You okay in there?” his mom called into the dressing room.

“Fine- sorry,” he responded and opened the door.

“You work up a sweat? You’re flushed,” his mother noted.

“Um- y-yeah I-”

“Takuto look at you! So handsome, I think this is a good compromise of your minimalist style and something nice.”

It was a very simple outfit, a “nicer” black button down shirt and sleek grey dress-jeans.

“You’ll stun everyone,” she added.

It was too bad Shinomiya couldn’t see him like this.

                                                                                 

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I love you a lot.

 

As he dressed for the show he didn’t really want to attend, Takuto thought again how he wished Shinomiya could see him. He let himself entertain the idea of Shinomiya looking at him with clear desire. He imagined how his boyfriend’s gaze might drag over him and notice how his jeans clung to his hips. Gods, in another life maybe it would be nice to have his own art show, dressed in something that Shinomiya would enjoy seeing him in, holding a glass of wine or something (people did that, right?) and sharing it with his beloved.

 

If only he could be with Shinomiya right now instead of wandering around this art studio and trying to avoid any contact or conversation. He could see his piece, a charcoal based picture with his name on a card by it and consistently tried to keep a distance. Just how long did they have to stay? He wanted to go home already.

 

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I miss you so much.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: Me too, Ryou is cooped up and needs lots of space sometimes, I want to go right back to you when he doesn’t need me.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I promise I’ll always need you.

 

I just sent that , Takuto realized. Oh shit .

 

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: Whenever we are apart, it’s clear that I need you too.

 

“Takuto we’re going home.”

Takuto whirled around to see his mother.

“Mama?”

She rolled her eyes, “it’s late and your father hasn’t shown up and you haven’t done any socializing either. You really should use this opportunity for networking.”

Takuto just blinked at her, “Gotou was supposed to be here?”

“Come on,” she repeated, “we are going home.”

                                                                                 

When Takuto woke up in the morning, he found himself in an otherwise empty apartment. His mother hadn’t left a note as far as he could tell and she hadn’t messaged him. They came home together and he’d gone to bed, nothing else significant happened. At least, he didn’t think so.

                                                                                 ---

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya: How’s it goin’?

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I’m okay, thank you. How has Niwa’s summer been?

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya: Fine I guess, been thinking about going back to school early so Nakajima doesn’t bust my balls for whatever he thinks I didn’t finish before break.

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya: Geez and my dad was all annoyed and whiny that I kicked his butt last time we fought.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: You fight like that?! Niwa that’s...

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya: Oh it’s all good, we laugh it off and go at it all the time.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I wish I could help.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: With your extra work I mean.

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya: Need a distraction?

 

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: Summer went by so fast, though it also felt like a long time.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji: We will be together again in a week.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I’m happy for that <3

 

Msg from N aruse Yukihiko: Waa! I’m going to miss my home and my Honey, but I will be glad to see our school friends again. I heard Shunsuke went on a family trip.

Msg from Iwai Takuto: You’ll still keep in touch with your friends from home and your family, won’t you?

Msg from Naruse Yukihiko: Of course!

 

Takuto had managed to spend most of his day distracted from his loneliness by messaging his friends. Naruse had talked about many things;  a summer romance in his hometown which he was certain would last forever, vacation pictures from his friend and fellow BL school first year Taki Shunsuke. The boy was apparently a cyclist, a champion at that. Naruse also seemed to be enjoying time with his younger sister, he always spoke of her fondly.

 

Niwa had mentioned fishing spots he really liked at home and Takuto gave a puzzled laugh to think of the excitable bear of a boy with enough patience for such a hobby.

“I’m happy you have more friends you like talking to,” Shinomiya had said when Takuto reported conversation with the other two.

“Shinomiya has a lot of friends, but no one you spend as much time with,” Takuto had noted.

“That’s true,” the archer admitted, “because you are the most important.”

Takuto had wished it weren’t a phone conversation because he needed to kiss his boyfriend right then. He knew though the bliss wouldn’t last when his mother arrived home late in the afternoon. Her shoulders slumped at an angle, she did not hold herself up the they she usually did and she wore a rumpled version of her outfit from the night before with sunglasses that must have been in her purse. If Takuto could see past her sunglasses he was sure her eyes would complete her as a picture of exhaustion.

 

“Takuto,” she said in a voice sounding how she looked, she opened her arms wide, “come here.”

Takuto stood from the couch and let her wrap around and lean on him. Her hair was not wild but it was not neat as she’d done it last night. Her sunglasses fell as she let him go, revealing a bruise under one eye, dotting the top of her cheekbone.

“Mama,” Takuto gasped, “did you see him?”

His fingers fell to a bruise on her shoulder and she twitched when his hand grazed her back.

“It was my fault, I was mad at him,” she said.

“Mama, please, he can’t do this.”

Takuto cringed inwardly when her hand pressed against the side of her neck, drawing his attention to bruises there too.

“It wasn’t his fault, he was hurt,” she said, “we hurt him.”

He hurt you !” Takuto exclaimed.

Oh no, no this was ripping his self-control away. It took him but seconds to feel desperate.

“It hurt him thinking we didn’t love him, Takuto. Your father loves us but it hurts everyone that he can’t be with us.”

“Because he has another family,” Takuto whispered, his insides were twisting as they always did when she forgave that man like this.

We are his family. You are his son. If only he didn’t need to doubt that- Takuto if you would work with him again-”

“It wouldn’t do anything, Mama he uses us-”

“He takes care of us! Do you think it was easy raising you and living alone with you?” she hissed.

Mama .”

“If not for him we would be all alone. When you painted with him-”

“I did not paint with him, he took it, he uses us,” Takuto said, pleading for her to accept his words, for once.

“We would have nothing without him, and he needs us now. This creative slump he’s been in is hurting his work, he needs us,” she said. She sounded just as desperate and it ripped at his heart and plunged it into his stomach. “Takuto, without him, I wouldn’t even have you .”

 

Their tears mirrored each other as they hugged again.

“Okay Mama, don’t cry,” he said, “I’ll try...again.”

“What would I do without you?”

                                                                             ---

Takuto’s sense of anguish was starting to numb only a few hours later. The knots his insides seemed to have chosen as their form were still tight but not as sinkingly heavy. He didn’t want to vomit as much and it was a relief not to worry about hurling into his suitcase. Even if he had promises to keep, he couldn’t do anything here.

 

“Yo, what’s up Iwai?”

Takuto clutched the phone ever so slightly tighter.

“Niwa, are you really going back early?”

“Probably yeah, it’s getting boring here and I don’t feel like pissing of Hide.”

“Can-can I meet you?”

“Yeah! You okay?”

“I- thanks, yeah, I just...I need to leave.”

                                                                                  ---

“Niwa- y-you really don’t need to take my bag for me,” Takuto insisted.

“I could carry you instead,” Niwa joked, “can’t be heavier than whatever kind of lead you’re carrying.”

“It- it’s just books,” Takuto said, trying not to blush terribly.

“I didn’t know you were a bookworm,” Niwa teased.

“I- I was studying over the summer, I don’t want to fall behind,” Takuto said.

“But you’re smart,” Niwa said.

“N-not really, not at school subjects,” Takuto admitted.

“Maybe I can help then, my grades are pretty good,” the King boasted. “Even if Hide says I could be so much better if I tried harder, but what does he know.”

“I-isn’t Nakajima...aren’t his grades also good? He has some of the best test scores.”

“Hey, so do I,” the King protested, feigning hurt, “you wound me, Iwai.”

Takuto hid his face with his hands as he giggled. He put a hand on Niwa’s arm and noticed the curve of his muscles, reminding the artist of Shinomiya’s defined arms. “There there Niwa,” Takuto smiled, remembering the boy presently with him, “you’re strong, I’m sure your heart will make it.” He couldn’t help another little laugh after saying so.                                                                                     ---

Takuto’s bag hit his bed with a hardy whumpf .

“Hide would say that sounds like me crashing on the nearest chair,” Niwa smirked.

“Wow...strong,” Takuto muttered.

“It’s just suitcases, do you even have clothes or is it all books?” Niwa asked.

“I- I do wear clothes,” Takuto managed. He immediately smacked his palm to his forehead and Niwa’s momentary look of confusion turned to amusement.

“Yeah, I can see that,” Niwa said, not trying to suppress his laugh. “Iwai you look beat, you should chill.”

“I um, I should unpack,” Takuto said, he looked at the bag, then his closet and bit his lip.

“Okay, so see you later?”

Takuto nodded, “yeah.”

As soon as he was alone Takuto stared at his closet again. He kept side eyeing it as he emptied his suitcase, put away his books and papers and finally opened it. His eyes instantly found the brown sweater and he blushed thinking of how many sweet moments it called to mind. Every time he hung something in the closet he eyed it and when he’d finished unpacking, finally let himself take it out to hold. Takuto had stretched the sleeves out a good deal but they weren’t far apart in size exactly, though Shinomiya had already filled out and was thoroughly muscled from constantly working himself while for Takuto, gaining and building and “filling out” had never been his forte.

 

He shook his head and tried to stop comparing. Tried to think only of Shinomiya, his toned biceps, the fine set of chest and abs he wanted to paint over with his tongue. He licked his lips and then two of his fingers.

“Shinomiya,” he whispered, sinking against his pillows.

He turned onto his side and stroked his throat with dry and then damp fingers, imagining Shinomiya’s kisses and tongue instead of a hand of his own. No, nothing was his right then, (except maybe the arm he was crushing the sweater against himself with) it was Shinomiya’s. The hand gliding down his stomach and into his pants, touching very gently, slow to start off the way Shinomiya would. He shivered softly when a thumb came upon a dampening slit, and another set of fingers caressed his face and neck, Shinomiya was so sweet and gentle with him.

“Auh, Shinomiya, uh-” he moaned, “love you- love-”

He wanted to cry as he bit at the air, panting at the touch, gods, if Shinomiya would just kiss him boneless he’d be floating any second now. He was already melting as he tried to focus on the memory of Shinomiya’s taste. He bit into the sweater and made a high pitched sound he’d have been mortified at had he been coherent, he was crying, he knew, but it was okay, he felt happy because he could feel Shinomiya there with him. Shinomiya would be there soon, he would make things better.


Chapter Text

Takuto found himself sticking near Niwa or keeping to himself for the first few days, he liked Niwa’s protectiveness. It reminded him of Shinomiya. Loved and protected was all he wanted to feel for the time being, he could feel himself shutting down responsiveness to anything else. Three days in a row he’d spoken to his mother and she had reminded him of his promise to paint, she was filled with gratitude and praise and any other words that would set Takuto to work. He didn’t want it to sink as deeply, he wanted her to be done and let him get it over with. Even when Kuganuma appeared before him in the student council office, nothing struck as deep within Takuto.

 

“Vice Chairman,” Niwa greeted, smirking as per usual.

Usually, in a feat of true magic, the King could make a smirk seem warm, both cocky and charismatic at once. The expression he showed Kuganuma was one of confidently standing his ground.

“I have business to discuss with you, Niwa,” Kuganuma said, “but since you are here,” he looked pointedly at Takuto, “I had something to tell you as well.”

Peripherally, Takuto saw Niwa’s eyebrows raise, it must have been important for Kuganuma to go out of his way to see Niwa.

“Vice Chairman uh, S-sir,” Takuto stuttered.

“You won a contest and the company featured your piece in a show they held last week,” Kuganuma stated.

“Wait- is that what you were talking about?” Niwa jumped in, “go Iwai!”

Kuganuma ignored him.

“Yes,” Takuto said, feeling that Kuganuma’s pointed look required an answer.

“Why haven’t you done that before,” Kuganuma asked, “congratulations by the way, it would be great if you kept that up.”

Groups don’t just automatically feature you, I don’t control that, even if I wanted it, Takuto thought irritably. If anything, he wanted to lay low.

“Niwa, you and I need to talk, officially,” Kuganuma said. He gave Takuto a side-eye, “council business only. Iwai, would you give us the room?”

Or maybe, considered Takuto, he wanted to vanish entirely. He didn’t feel very present anyway. His expression stayed blank as he painted, grateful to have the art room to himself. He decided arbitrarily when he was finished and looked at his work with the utter lack of feeling he had put into it.

 

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : Natsu was very relieved the other day when Ryou came home, she even slept at Gran’s feet one night while waiting.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : I’m starting to count hours now that everything has settled down again. I can’t wait to come back to you.

 

Takuto looked at the screen poker faced. This is wrong , something inside him screamed right away. The rest of him however remained still. He couldn’t even smile. Shinomiya wanted to be with him and he couldn’t feel the joy that should bring him. He dug his nails into his opposite palm, wondering how far this numbness went. It should have been scary with its sudden and intense power. Pain, he felt minor pain. Very minor, more like an ignorable nagging than a real feeling. He picked up the end of a thin paintbrush and pressed it into his palm. Stronger pain, more noticeable. He returned to his room feeling a dull terror roaring in his head, fueling his actions even as he acted calmly. The small bladed painting knife in his hand stayed steady as his hands, he even managed to rinse his forearm before pressing it a few inches below his wrist. He dragged it along, watching in fascination.

 

It had been years since he’d cut out of anything but wild panic. Years since he’d been able to focus. With each new streak he cursed himself for being weak, too weak to handle feeling. For needing numbness which would vaporize the well of love he had for his archer, his savior. Shinomiya deserved so much better. All he did was take care of Takuto, wait on him, wait for him. Gods, he must be so worthless, why did Shinomiya stay with him? Was it out of guilt? Was it because he needed someone to dote on since he was so far away from his precious little brother? Sometimes that was all Takuto could think, Shinomiya needed someone helpless to love and care for and Takuto only took advantage of that vulnerability. It wasn’t even conscious was it? Pathetic, such needy and clingy habits must have gotten hardwired into him instead of any ability to take care of himself. Takuto would never be able to repay Shinomiya, would never deserve any true love the archer might give. How much longer would Shinomiya keep fooling himself? Fooling them both that he wanted Takuto?      

 

Takuto dropped the blade when his hands started shaking. He didn’t know when he’d started crying but it hurt, it hurt so much. And look what he’d done, tears splashing onto runny streaks of red on his arms. He sobbed himself into exhaustion. Hurt was a feeling, that was good. He wanted Shinomiya to hold him and tell him it was okay, even though cutting meant he’d disappointed Shinomiya again. Shinomiya would get upset and feel bad and Takuto couldn’t do that to him. He cried harder into the sink. Eventually, when he calmed he turned on the cold water and hissed as it ran over his arms, it hurt. At least he hadn’t cut deep, just lots of streaks so that maybe the pain would build inertia and he would be with it. Feel it. He managed to find some ointment he still had from Matsuoka Sensei, it wasn’t much but it would do after compressing his arms with towels, he’d have to wash those when no one was around or find a way to toss them. Minor cuts weren’t uncommon when working with well used tools, and even first aid tape and old bandage wrap was better than nothing.

 

Msg from Iwai Takuto : I miss you, I can’t wait to be together either.

Msg from Iwai Takuto : I love you.

                                                                                 ---

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : The bus is almost there. Just a few more minutes.

Msg from Iwai Takuto : I’ll be right there.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : <3

 

The time between Takuto’s leaving Hiroshima and this moment had dragged on and felt so much longer than it truly had been. He had to stop himself from running to Shinomiya as soon as they spotted each other. Somehow he even refrained from grabbing and kissing Shinomiya in front of the bus load of other arriving students, but as soon as Shinomiya had set his bags by the bed Takuto pushed him against the wall and pressed their lips together. Shinomiya clasped his hands behind Takuto’s neck as the artist pinned him with a hand on either side of his torso.

 

“Ahh- Takuto,” Shinomiya groaned.

“Missed you,” Takuto said between kisses he applied to Shinomiya’s jaw and throat.

“Aren’t you going to tell me what you couldn’t over the phone?” Shinomiya asked.

Takuto stepped back and let him go, “oh, yeah, sorry.”

“It’s okay,” Shinomiya chuckled, “I missed you too.” He gave Takuto another quick kiss before starting to unpack. They remained there in mostly silence, Takuto wasn’t ready to speak and Shinomiya could see that.

“Shinomiya, I make art for me , you know? It’s the only thing I do for myself,” he said finally.

Shinomiya looked at him, listening carefully.

“I’m selfish, so want it to be mine. But Mama...Mama thinks I need to do more. A group I won a contest with wanted to use my piece in an art show, she didn’t ask me, she just let them and told me later.”

Shinomiya frowned, mention of Takuto’s mother never brought good news.

“She wanted my father to know, she wanted him to be proud and he’s...”

“Your father?” Shinomiya interrupted.

“He’s...he’s not really though, and he doesn’t treat Mama right either, and he wasn’t there so she got so upset and went to see him but she came back hurt- he hurt her and I couldn’t stay. I told her...I gave in but I couldn’t even stay with her,” Takuto rambled.

“Wait, Takuto what are you talking about?” Shinomiya asked, “slow down a bit. Your father hurt your mother?”

“I try to tell her she can’t stay like this, he hits her but I even left her too and it hurt so much,” Takuto was on the verge of tears, words starting to slur mildly. “It hurt so much and it felt so bad but then I couldn’t feel anything and even for Shinomiya- I cou-couldn’t, couldn’t...” Hot, frustrated tears spilled over and Takuto surrendered any words to harsh crying. Shinomiya immediately stood up and wrapped his arms around his boyfriend. He wasn’t sure what Takuto had just been trying to tell him but it seemed nothing good happened when he’d had to leave Hiroshima.

 

“I’m glad you aren’t hurt though,” Shinomiya said when Takuto had gone quiet, “right?”

“Shinomiya I’m sorry,” Takuto mumbled, “I’m sorry.”

He pushed himself out of Shinomiya’s arms and stared at the floor.

“What’s wrong, love?” Shinomiya asked.

“Don’t say that,” Takuto said, “don’t...I-I don’t deserve it. I wanted to stop hurting but then I couldn’t feel anything, so I did it again...” Takuto said.

He stepped back even further and rolled up one shirtsleeve at a time, dreading but accepting Shinomiya’s gasp when he saw the bandages.

“I’m sorry Shinomiya, I don’t deserve you, I don’t...I couldn’t feel anything so I cut.”

Shinomiya stood quietly for a long and awkward moment. It didn’t end soon enough, all Takuto could do was leave a dumbstruck Shinomiya to his inevitable blame and anger. He never deserved such a good lover in the first place.

                                                                             ---

When Takuto didn’t show up for breakfast the next day, Shinomiya blamed himself. He should have gone after him, should have done something, anything besides stand there carelessly enough to drive his boyfriend away. As soon as Shinomiya caught sight of the artist in class he made a beeline for him.

“I’m sorry,” was the first thing he said, “Takuto, can we talk, later I suppose?”

Takuto looked at him like a puppy being beckoned in from a cold rain. Shinomiya worried about how dependent his boyfriend seemed sometimes. “Will you sit with me?” Shinomiya proposed.
Through most of that day, they held hands and sat together when they could, Takuto didn’t seem eager to mention what had led them to their silence together and Shinomiya wasn’t ready to broach the subject if Takuto seemed fragile. He hated that they were like this when a conflict arose, he hated that such things happened at all. He couldn’t reconcile how someone could take a healthy body for granted, especially not someone he preferred to think positively of, someone he would forgive anything. The next couple of days were similar, they were quiet and peaceful together in silent agreement that they would talk when they were ready.

They mostly only saw each other for meals,  maybe multiple if they were lucky and neither the return of Student Council business or tides of an oncoming national competition swept Shinomiya away. Niwa had mentioned that the Student Council was smaller and more overworked than ever. He wished he could help, so he’d expressed one evening midweek as they lay on the archer’s bed;

“Takuto, you should take care of yourself instead, that’s how you can help me,” Shinomiya said.

“I-it’s selfish but I miss you,” Takuto said, “I wanna be with you all the time.”

“I’m sorry we have no time,” Shinomiya said, “that I’m so busy.”

Takuto retracted his arm from across Shinomiya’s chest. “Shinomiya, you have so much to do.”

Shinomiya turned from his back to his side so that they faced each other.

“I’m going to miss you so much, being away for a week.”

They kissed for a long moment before either spoke again.

“I should go back soon,” Takuto said, “but Shinomiya?”

“Yes?”

“Can I stay here tomorrow night? Before you have to go?”

Shinomiya gave him a lingering version of that warm, adoring smile, “that would be lovely.”

“W-well, I, if it’s alright, maybe we could talk...then.”

Shinomiya kissed his forehead, “alright.”

                                                                             ---

Takuto, let’s meet this week. Thank you for seeing it this way. Love you baby.

Takuto didn’t delete the message but he didn’t need to respond. Not yet. He’d give her the painting soon enough, all he wanted today was to focus on Shinomiya before he left.

                                                                             

Msg from Hanabusa Hisoka : Safe travels and do your best! Me and Aoi are cheering for you!

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : Thank you, Itori won’t admit it but your message made him very happy too.

Msg from Hanabusa Hisoka : Let’s do something together when you get back!

Msg from Hanabusa Hisoka : To celebrate!

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : We haven’t won anything just yet.

Msg from Hanabusa Hisoka : You will ;)

                                                                             ---

“You all packed and stuff?” Itori asked Shinomiya as they arrived early at the range.

“Of course, aren’t you, Senpai?” Shinomiya responded.

“Geez, what did I tell you, Shinomiya?”

“About packing?” Shinomiya was confused.

“Just Itori is fine,” the Vice Captain reminded him.

“Oh, Itori, right.”

“To answer, no, you’re the organized one. I can pack tonight or something,” he said. “We’re going to do great.”

“You’re quite positive lately,” Shinomiya noticed, “did something good happen over your vacation?”

Itori smirked back at him, “what? I can’t have faith in us?”

                                                                             ---

“Naruse-kun, you seem so in love with  your phone right now,” Takuto said jokingly.

Naruse looked up apologetically.

“Sorry Iwai-senpai, I just really love her,” Naruse said.

He was just as fixated on his current girlfriend as he’d been on previous sweethearts, but Takuto was mostly glad it wasn’t him.

“You talk about your hometown a lot?” Takuto asked.

“Yeah, since she’s still going to school there...I miss her...but it’s nice to be in love, isn’t it?”

                                                                                                                                                         

Naruse’s question (though rhetorical) stayed in the back of Takuto’s mind that day. He wasn’t excited for Shinomiya to leave him, by gods if they were going to be apart for another week he needed this night. He needed Shinomiya’s scent around him and those hands on him. He needed something to last until Shinomiya came back to him.

“Hi there,” Shinomiya greeted.

Takuto closed the door behind himself and leaned against it. He looked down at his shoes then back to his lover and gulped.

“Would you mark me tonight?”

Shinomiya took a moment to process what Takuto asked. It wasn’t that they never gave each other kiss marks, but it was clear that it meant more to Takuto right now.

“Anywhere in particular?” Shinomiya asked.

“Somewhere I can see it whenever I want to,” Takuto said.

Shinomiya took Takuto’s left wrist in his hand and unbuttoned the cuff of his sleeve. He paused and looked up; “Is this alright?”  

Takuto nodded, once, slowly, “just...the bandages, leave those.”

“Of course.”

 

Shinomiya pressed a long kiss to Takuto’s wrist and the heel of his hand until Takuto whined his discomfort.

“Oh, I’m sorry,” Shinomiya said, letting go right away.

“It’s...It’s okay, I needed to,” Takuto said, “I needed that. Can’t um, explain it but I needed that.”

Shinomiya nodded, accepting the response before he took Takuto’s other wrist and unbuttoned the sleeve. He folded it up to Takuto’s elbow and gave the right wrist the same lingering kiss. His mouth traveled an inch or so lower, choosing a spot to mark. Takuto inhaled sharply when Shinomiya sucked hard and bit softly.

“Yes...okay, yes,” he breathed, the arm he held up was starting to quiver by the time Shinomiya had moved to the next spot and shook by the time Shinomiya stopped all together.

“Ah- I’m sorry love,” Shinomiya said, ”I didn’t mean to tire you, I keep-”

Instead of reproof however Takuto grabbed Shinomiya’s collar and interrupted with a famished kiss. Their heavy panting, already at a loss for breath, ran in parallel rhythms. Shinomiya moved his hands from Takuto’s jaw to interlace their fingers and pin him against the door.

“Auh, Shinomiya...Shi- ahhnn,” Takuto moaned helplessly as Shinomiya ran long, hot kisses against his neck and pressed their bodies together.

“Love you,” Shinomiya breathed. He leaned his forehead against Takuto’s shoulder and tried to catch his breath. Tonight felt urgent, desperate. It would only be a week apart, they both knew, but bad things happened when they weren’t together.

“Shinomiya, Shinomiya my hands, let go,” Takuto gasped.

Shinomiya worried for a mere second but when he let go Takuto’s arms wrapped around his waist and held him tight.

“Takuto,” he said, regaining his breath, “I love you. I love you so much .”

Takuto managed to kiss at raven hair and Shinomiya continued to kiss downwards. He unbuttoned Takuto’s collar and let his lips soothe over Takuto’s collarbones making the artist shiver in delight.

“I love you,” Takuto echoed, “really love you.” He kissed Shinomiya’s forehead and ran a hand into his dark hair.

 

“Takuto, can I- can we, do you want to make love?”

Takuto’s pupils were dilated, his smile heavy and wide, he looked suddenly intoxicated on all the sensation. “Yes, yes I need you...need you so bad.”

They kissed again, more tenderly than before, their lips pressing softly against each others and despite Takuto’s light nipping and sucking it didn’t feel as hot as their previous kiss. Shinomiya moaned quietly at the feeling of Takuto’s tongue brushing over his own and then under it. He drew Shinomiya’s tongue into his mouth and bit softly. They left a trail of saliva between themselves as they broke apart. Shinomiya gulped when he looked Takuto up and down, he didn’t think he’d yet seen Takuto already at such a state of wanton contentment. He noticed first the feeling in his stomach and then how constrictive his pants suddenly felt. But before he could do anything about that he needed to memorize how happy his lover looked at the moment. He wiped his mouth on his sleeve, all properness having left him. He couldn’t help but wonder how he appeared but it didn’t really matter if Takuto would keep looking at him like that, like he was so happy and so in love.

“I love you,” he said, kissing Takuto’s forehead. He kissed the bridge of Takuto’s nose, the tip, his lips, chin and down his open collar.

“Why didn’t you wear your tie this week?” Shinomiya asked.

“I couldn’t,” Takuto said simply, “it made me think...of you.”

Shinomiya could ask what that meant later. He continued going down and kissing new skin he exposed as he undid Takuto’s shirt.

“Shinomiya-”

“Yes?”

“Shinomiya please, let me keep it, the shirt, like this,” Takuto said, neither closing it or taking it fully off.

“Of course.”

Shinomiya knelt when he reached Takuto’s stomach and waited a moment for Takuto to realize and approve when he got to Takuto’s belt. Shinomiya needed no further encouragement than a nod, he had Takuto’s belt, button and zipper parted in several painstakingly slow moments, kissing inches of skin as he revealed them. “I love you,” Shinomiya repeated. He kissed Takuto’s exposed hip and pulled briefs and pants down his legs.

 

Takuto bit his lip, bracing himself against the door as Shinomiya started to caress and kiss his legs, fingers lingering on what he now recognized as scars. He couldn’t understand how Takuto could do this to himself but all he could do was focus on the present, on making Takuto shiver and moan with each kiss as they moved dangerously close to his erection. Takuto gasped and shuddered when Shinomiya kissed the side of the base, gods he was so stirred up, so turned on for his boyfriend that he had to keep from crying out when Shinomiya’s wetted lips slid down the side. Shinomiya licked up and into the slit before taking the head into his mouth and felt only spurred on when Takuto gripped tight at his hair.

“Yes- oh yes ,” Takuto keened, “there.” Takuto’s knees shook and he pressed two palms flat against the door as Shinomiya bobbed back and forth, taking in what he could and repeating his tongue movements in a pattern.

Takuto whimpered and grasped Shinomiya’s shoulder, “Shinomiya- no- wait, not yet, please, not yet.”

“Is something wrong?” Shinomiya asked.

Takuto shook his head, “no, I...I don’t want to yet. I’ll be...be so tired after...and Shinomiya hasn’t felt anything good yet.”

Shinomiya stood, “then shall we go to the bed and feel better together?“

...

“Shinomiya, you say kinda of embarrassing things sometimes. I’m amazed you can say things so honestly.”

They lay in the bed, wrapped in sheets and each other.

“What’s this? You’ve never told me something like that,” Shinomiya said.

Takuto grinned and kissed his cheek, “it’s not a bad thing. It’s impressive.”

“I only say what I mean,” Shinomiya responded, he kissed Takuto’s forehead, “and I always mean it when I say that I love you.”

“Hmmm,” Takuto purred, leaning into the hand petting his hair.

Shinomiya grinned back and kissed him again.

“It’s strange,” Takuto said, still looking quite blissful. “I love you too, so much that I could say it all the time but it’s so different too. Some people would say it’s not something men do so much.“

Shinomiya held Takuto’s chin in his hand, tilting it upwards so that they looked at each other. “Who are they and why are you worrying about what they think?” he teased.

“I- I don’t really,” Takuto said. “Shinomiya is my most important person, that’s why I don’t want anyone to say bad things. I don’t want to drag you down.”

Shinomiya frowned, “why would you think that? I love you, I’ll accept whatever happens because of that.”

“You’re too good for me,” Takuto said before kissing him again.



Chapter Text

The weekend had started perfectly and ended miserably. Takuto was almost glad that Shinomiya wasn’t there to see him struggle with his mother. The summer sun was at the end of it’s height in the sky when his mother appeared on BL school island. She brought facetious gifts, Takuto’s favorite bittersweet chocolates and a new book by an author he’d liked when he was younger. In return he let her hug him as if it were a joyful occasion and gave her the wrapped canvas he had to emotionally pry himself from. He couldn’t deal with this, not when he was alone and Shinomiya wasn’t constantly holding his hand. Not when he was working hard to keep his grades at highly average and definitely not enough to impress or stand up to Shinomiya’s. Not when he couldn’t compare to Shinomiya at all.

“Thank you Takuto,” his mother said. She paused a moment and looked hard at him, but seemed softer than usual, “you know I love you, right? That you’ll always be my little guy?”

He didn’t answer. He couldn’t deal with the depth of whatever emotion her face betrayed, especially as it may have even included love or remorse.

“He’ll be happy,” she said, “I’ll let you know about the next one.”

He could not deal with this.

                                                                               ---

Most of september seemed to go by in a blur and rush, with the exception of Shinomiya’s taking second in national youth archery.

 

Msg from Hanabusa Hisoka : Congratulations Shinomiya!! Let’s do something to celebrate, I know you’ve always got stuff to do but you deserve it!

Msg from Hanabusa Hisoka : I wanna do something with Itori too if that’s alright.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : It could take a couple of weeks to be free, but absolutely, it would be wonderful to see you.

Msg from Hanabusa Hisoka : =D

 

Shinomiya put away his phone when he heard a knock on his door. “Yes?” he called, standing to answer.

Takuto let himself in when Shinomiya opened the door and wrapped his arms around the archer’s waist when he’d closed it. “I missed you,” Takuto murmured. “I know I said it when you came back but I really missed you.”

“I missed you too,” Shinomiya said.

“Can I sleep here tonight, please?” Takuto asked timidly, “just to sleep.”

“That would be nice,” Shinomiya admitted. Just as he had done when he came back to school at the beginning of that week, he thumbed a the dark circle under one of Takuto’s eyes, “you haven’t slept well.”

Takuto leaned into his hand and shut his eyes. Shinomiya indulged and undressed him and gave him a  shirt to sleep in. It was an adorable habit Takuto had taken up, sleeping in Shinomiya’s shirts. Takuto clung to Shinomiya when he could, they both found themselves busy but Shinomiya was showing clear signs of fatigue, even for such a solid boy.

“You’re working really hard,” Takuto said, “don’t forget to take care of yourself..”

Shinomiya kissed his nose, “isn’t that my line?”

“Usually.”

                                                                               ---

“Hanabusa-senpai wants to take Itori and I out next saturday,” Shinomiya said over a rare dinner.

Takuto nodded and slurped more soba.

“Do you want to come with us?” Shinomiya asked.

“Won’t you be very busy?” Takuto asked.

“That’s why it’s taking so long to plan this,” Shinomiya said. “Hanabusa-senpai said he wanted to celebrate with us right away but there’s been so much work to do.”

Takuto went to wipe his face with his sleeve but Shinomiya caught his wrist.

Takuto blushed, “s-sorry.”

Shinomiya looked at him gently as ever and thumbed away the soup residue at the corner of his mouth. “You are very cute,” he smiled.

Takuto could feel his face heat up. He set down his bowl without much thought and nuzzled at the face so close to his, “love you,” he mumbled.

“I love you too, Takuto.”

                                                                               ---

“Mama?”

“Oh good, you called, I thought you didn’t want to talk to me.”

“Um next saturday afternoon, that’s good.”

“Let me check my schedule okay? You know how busy things can get.”

“Yeah.”

                                                                               ---

Takuto met his mother by the same building he had last time. He didn’t feel all there as he handed her the large bagged canvas. He didn’t feel much at even when she surveyed it and said:

“Oh.”

He said nothing.

“Takuto, you’re being cold, what’s wrong? Because it’s only one, right? Were you distracted?”

“Only?” he echoed.

“Did something happen?” she asked, “you seem tired.”

“I’m fine,” he said, it was kind of nice of her to worry though, he thought.

“But you only painted one piece?”

Nevermind.

                                                                                ---

They were in Shinomiya’s room as soon as they could be upon his return to campus that evening. As soon as the lock clicked shut behind them, Takuto crumpled into his lover’s arms.

“I told you what a good time we had out, now it’s your turn, what’s this?” Shinomiya said.

“Missed you,” Takuto mumbled against Shinomiya’s shirt.

“Was your afternoon lonely then?”

“Everything is without you.”

Shinomiya breathed a laugh,

“W-what?” Takuto said, looking at him with wide eyes.

His answer started with a forehead kiss, “you said I was the embarrassing one, but you can say things like that too.”

“B-but it-”

“I don’t find it embarrassing though,” Shinomiya said, “it’s just how we feel isn’t it?”

“How do you know what to feel?”

The question caught Shinomiya off guard and his brows furrowed watching Takuto’s entirely serious face. “How?” he repeated, “I don’t really know, I just feel things I suppose.”

“Sometimes I think maybe I’m not feeling the right thing,” Takuto said.

“There aren’t wrong , feelings Takuto,” Shinomiya said.

“How can you be sure of that?” Takuto asked.

Shinomiya didn’t have an answer for him, only a mild look of uncertainty. He cupped Takuto’s jaw and made the boy raise his head. Takuto looked down so often that Shinomiya noticed when his eyes were not towards the floor.

“What are you doubting?” he asked gently.

“I’m with you,” Takuto said, “shouldn’t I be happy? But I talked to Mama today and I wish I didn’t have to, I only wanna feel things with you. Shinomiya, make these feelings go away, after what she did and what my father did to her, I want it all to stop but not with you.”

Shinomiya didn’t think he followed exactly, but he got the gist.

 

“Takuto, can you tell me what you want?”

“Make it stop but, but don’t. I want to feel you, only you.”

Takuto pulled him to the bed and set a condom and lubricant packet by the pillow, always prepared.

“Where di-” Shinomiya started to ask but his question disintegrated into a kiss. Takuto had straddled him, kneeling above where Shinomiya sat. Shinomiya supported himself with palms flat against the bed, head tilted up and framed by Takuto’s hands as the artist kissed him hungrily. He licked into Shinomiya’s mouth, momentarily backing out to kiss both of the archer’s parted lips. Shinomiya took the opportunity to nip his boyfriend’s lower lip playfully and started to draw him back into their kiss, only to have a moan ripped from him when Tauto lowered himself to grind their hips together.

 

“Need you,” Takuto gasped.

He kissed Shinomiya’s cheek and down the side of his face, traveling lower still  to leave ghosting bites and solid kisses on his neck. Shinomiya gave a long gasp when Takuto’s tongue ran down his windpipe and shuddered when Takuto ground into his lap again. He shifted in slow gyrations, kissing Shinomiya’s lips again before he pulled Shinomiya’s shirt all the way up for the archer to remove it. He collapsed the rest of the way into Shinomiya’s lap and tilted his head back as Shinomiya mirrored the same actions: kissing him all over and unfastening the top of his shirt until the last button at his sternum.

“W-wait.”

 

Shinomiya never failed to. He looked at Takuto awaiting further instruction or explanation.

“M-my shirt,” Takuto stuttered, “I...I need my shirt.”

“Okay,” Shinomiya said, caressing Takuto’s face with the backing of his hand.

Takuto felt like melting with how Shinomiya looked at him, he never judged, never pushed and kept reassuring that he did want Takuto despite that.

“Is there anything else, my love?” Shinomiya asked.

“I want you, don’t let me think of anything else,” Takuto said entreated, “do anything, I know you won’t hurt me.”

Shinomiya kissed him gently and held him carefully as he laid them both down on the bed. “Turn over, love,” he directed.

Takuto hesitated and Shinomiya took his hand just as he started to turn.“Do you not want to?” Shinomiya asked. Sometimes he hovered over every detail, needing Takuto to tell him ‘yes’ to each and every touch and movement. Sometimes they were more fluid and with fewer words, but Shinomiya didn’t like to leave much to guesswork.

“It’s fine,” Takuto answered, “I trust you. You don’t have to ask, it’s okay.”

“Tell me if you don’t like it,” Shinomiya instructed.

Takuto gave an acquiescent nod before he turned on his stomach. In moments he felt Shinomiya’s kisses over his clothed spine and Shinomiya’s hands under his shirt, touching and sliding down his back.

“I love you,” Shinomiya murmured against Takuto’s skin.

Takuto wriggled a bit to let Shinomiya reach under and around him, hands blindly unfastening his belt and pants, momentarily cupping the tenting in them. Shinomiya carefully worked Takuto’s pants down, kissing down one cheek as he revealed them. Takuto felt horribly pent up and struggled not to writhe when Shinomiya parted his now naked legs and positioned between them. He claw-gripped the pillow when he felt hands separating him at the cleft and bit hard into said pillow when his boyfriend’s tongue pressed flat against him. How could Shinomiya get him so worked up and ready to burst when the archer himself had such patience?

 

“Yes, please, yes,” Takuto spilled the words  before having to bite the pillow again to contain a loud cry.

Thumbs parted him further so that Shinomiya could press into him. Takuto trembled as he cried into the pillow and Shinomiya continued to stroke and press with his tongue in alternating rhythms. Takuto whined at the loss when Shinomiya pulled away but tried to be patient. In the time it had taken Takuto to remove his shirt and lay back down Shinomiya was over him again, rewarding his patience with sweet kisses over his back and the touch of tepid lube to his hole.  

Takuto shuddered with anticipatory joy. He felt disarmed even at two slick fingers sliding into him, circling and scissoring patiently. How did Shinomiya stand waiting so long? Wasn’t he just as worked up?  

“Is it okay Takuto?” Shinomiya asked, “like this?”

Yes yes yes , Takuto’s mind chanted.  “Yeah. Go ahead.”

He groaned his relief at the sound of the condom wrapper in Shinomiya’s hands and felt himself clench readily when Shinomiya’s torso touched his back. He didn’t recall hearing Shinomiya remove his pants but he must have, Takuto couldn’t feel the fabric, only Shinomiya’s skin against his own. Shinomiya’s hands slid over his and interwove their fingers, Takuto turned his head to kiss him and gasped into it when Shinomiya entered him, using all the control he had to stay gentle. Shinomiya didn’t move yet except to support his own weight atop Takuto, instead he kissed the artist’s shoulders and neck and hair, ever the worshipful. His movement started slow, gentle thrusts which were not close to enough.

“Shinomiya, more ,” Takuto pleaded, “ move .”

Shinomiya clenched their clasped hands as he obeyed, dragging choked cries and gasps from Takuto. The artist shook when orgasm hit him suddenly, stilling Shinomiya as well, despite which Takuto knew Shinomiya hadn’t come yet and he didn’t like the thought.

“Shinomiya,” Takuto managed through his haze, “you too Shinomiya. Don’t stop. When I...first..., don’t stop.”

Shinomiya kissed him again and restarted slowly. It didn’t take him long though until his back was arched and Takuto could feel him panting. He turned his head to catch Shinomiya’s expression and thanked the gods that he did so on time. Shinomiya was a work of art.

 

As soon as he pulled out, cleaned off and rolled over, Takuto cuddled up against him, using crafter’s fingers to stroke his chest in nonspecific patterns. “Shinomiya,” he said, trying to sound brave.

“Yes?”

“If I’m...um...first, you don’t have to stop. You should too ‘c-cause it, it, feels good when you feel good.”

Shinomiya kissed his cheek, “that’s exactly how I feel. I wish I could’ve seen your face though.

“I- I like it that way too,” Takuto agreed.

“That was the first time we weren’t like that,” Shinomiya noted.

Takuto could feel himself blushing worse by the second. He nodded.

“We tried something new," he said, looking like an innocent child. How he managed to do that when naked and wrung out from sex, Shinomiya didn’t know, but it didn’t matter.

“We could do that more often, if you like,” Shinomiya offered.

Takuto knew his face must be pink. “I-if you’re okay with that too.”

                                                                               ---

“Why are you leaving the Student Council?” Shinomiya asked, trying not to balk. Shinomiya missed whatever subtle action prompted it, but Saionji braced a palm in front of Shichijo, holding back whatever the other boy might have said or done.

“Omi and I will still be the treasury but we are separating from...”

“The Council leaders?” Shinomiya guessed.

Saionji pursed his lips.

“It’s understandable,” Shinomiya validated. “He could really use some discipline but I suppose he does other important things and he does care for this school to be a leader it deserves.”

No one had to say a name to know who they meant.

“It won’t be for another week,” Shichijo added, “we will work with everyone until then.”

Saionji did not look pleased but he didn’t deny the reality.

“Thank you for your hard work, you’ve helped us so much,” Shinomiya praised.

Saionji gave an amicable smile in acknowledgement; “Thank you for taking care of us.”                                                                                

                                                                                  ---

“Shinomiya, you’re exhausted,” Takuto said worriedly.

Shinomiya wasn’t surprised to find Takuto waiting for him outside of his room early that evening.

“I didn’t expect I’d get to see you tonight,” he answered.

Takuto held out two cafeteria bentos,  “I brought you dinner.”

“Thank you.” Shinomiya let them both into his room, “what would you think of having sushi with Saionji and Shichijo on sunday?”

“Okay,” Takuto answered, setting the food down. “Shinomiya is usually the one reminding me to eat and taking care of me but you’re working too hard,” Takuto said, “I don’t see you much.”

“Ah I’m sor-”

“I miss you,” Takuto said, hating the whining that crept into his voice, “and I’m worried about you. Taking multiple hard classes and the workload and being the archery club leader and being on the student council and helping out the dorm leader- you still have work tonight don’t you?!”

Takuto stepped back, his expression of shock at himself for raising his voice much like Shinomiya’s. “Uh- I’m, I’m really s-sorry,”  he muttered.

“I can’t just drop things though, the dorm leader depends on me and so do the archers,” Shinomiya said, not quite as calm as usual.

“The- the Student Council, they take so much of your time and energy, you never seem happy about it anymore,“ Takuto said. “A-at first you were really excited and you liked seeing the changes and helping the students- b-but you’re still doing that, you’re looking after everyone, learning to be d-dorm manager and you’re tired and you don’t sleep enough do you?”

Shinomiya kissed Takuto’s forehead and brushed his cheek with a thumb, “thank you for worrying over me.”

“S-someone has to,” Takuto answered.

Without any thought Shinomiya was kissing him and he was kissing back. Their hands were in each others hair and cradling and caressing and Takuto felt only need. His hand slid down between them to Shinomiya’s pants before the archer caught it.

“Ah- we can’t now,” Shinomiya said.

“You have work to do?” it wasn’t exactly a question though.

“Do you still want to eat with me, if that’s okay?”

For that Takuto pecked his lips and set out their dinners. He would not pass up time with Shinomiya for the irony that he had so little of it.

                                                  

Chapter Text

“Yes Mama?”

“About this painting, it’s been a while.”

A couple of weeks, Takuto thought, but apparently that was too long a reprieve. He tried not to feel anything while he painted. He tried to let his motor functions, vision and memory work without his emotional presence. He wasn’t really there, before the canvas, with paint. He was not creating something with subtle layerings of colour and dimension, no, he could not accept that. He was nothing. This was nothing. He wasn’t allowed to get attached to his art, he wasn’t allowed to love it.

                                                                                 ---

“So that’s why you won’t leave the student council?” Takuto asked.

He pulled on a large sweater before removing his shirt, having to pull it out from under. Shinomiya couldn’t really question it, it was chilly for October, but Takuto hadn’t felt comfortable without sleeves for what seemed to be weeks now. Some days he was alright with unbuttoning his shirt, even all way, but he wouldn’t look at his arms. Shinomiya couldn’t help but wonder why, was it an onset of insecurity? They hadn’t showered together since summer ended either, though that could easily have been because of how busy Shinomiya remained. They saw each other when they could but rarely got more than some saturday nights or parts of sunday. It wasn’t enough, Shinomiya knew it. A voice of doubt nagged at him, suggesting he was letting Takuto slip away. Just what was he supposed to do?

                                                                                

He reached out and wrapped himself around Takuto when the artist tangled bare legs with Shinomiya’s own.

“Yes,” he sighed. “Shichijo and Saionji are splitting the treasury off from the Student Council. We’ll have even more to do without them. It won’t be too bad, but it was more convenient when we shared a workspace.”

“They’re really leaving?” Takuto echoed.

Shinomiya sighed again and kissed Takuto’s head, “Niwa isn’t very respectful of Saionji and I think Saionji has had enough.”

Takuto’s brows furrowed and he frowned, “Niwa can be a lot sometimes,” he admitted. “Um, are we, we’re still seeing them tomorrow?”

“Yes- for lunch.”

“H-how early?”

Shinomiya chuckled, “you can still sleep in, I’ll wake you.”

Takuto bit his lip and set his hand on the one Shinomiya had slung over his waist. “Th-then can we-” he slid Shinomiya’s hand under his sweater. “Can we...again?”

                                                                                 ---

Shinomiya might have been an angel, that’s what Takuto thought when he opened his eyes to a sunlit room and warm smile. Even Shinomiya’s eyes smiled for him. Shinomiya was light, a somehow solid light. Takuto loved waking up like this. He hid his face with his hands and smiled shyly behind them only to feel Shinomiya’s own move his wrists to uncover his mouth for a kiss. Takuto giggled and turned over so that Shinomiya spooned him and the archer's lips moved to the back and side of his neck and against his ear.

“Heh. Good morning.”

Takuto pulled Shinomiya’s arm over him, tight against his chest and kissed the palm and fingers.

“No moving, not yet,” he said, making Shinomiya smother a laugh.

Shinomiya kissed the back of Takuto’s head, “yes, not yet.”

 

“Ne- Shinomiya,” Takuto stood at the archer’s bedside after pulling on his jeans, he picked up the under shirt Shinomiya had not slept in; “c-can I wear this?” he asked timidly.

Shinomiya blinked, “I- sure, but don’t you want something clean?”

Takuto looked at him with puppylike want in his eyes and held the shirt close to his face, all Shinomiya could do was watch as Takuto mercilessly stole his ability to protest.

“Nn, but Shinomiya,” Takuto inhaled long and deep, “smells like you.”

Shinomiya got dressed in a neat hurry, reciting to himself dates from history class instead of focusing on how much the expression Takuto made went right to his groin. He found his tension easing into fondness when he saw Takuto donning the brown sweater that was once his own. The artist seemed so fond of it and allowed it to be an obvious sign of how in love with Shinomiya he was. Takuto caught his stare and smiled bashfully as Shinomiya moved in front of him.

Takuto gasped quietly and touched his boyfriend’s neck, “oh, Shinomiya, I’m sorry. Y-your collar and tie will cover it tomorrow, b-but-”

“Takuto?”

Takuto slid his fingers against the mark he’d made, “I um, I left a mark there, b-by accident. S-sorry for...for such a visible place.”

Shinomiya’s brows furrowed and he went to the bathroom without hurry.

 

“Don’t worry,” he said as he returned. He pointed to the bandaid now covering the mark, “it will do, if it becomes  a bother I can change shirts.”

“You spoil me a lot,” Takuto said, eyes downcast but bashful smile still there.

Who else would ? Shinomiya thought.

                                                                                 ---

“It’s very kind of you Saionji, but treating us is too much,” Shinomiya insisted.

Like last time, Saionji bought their meal. Shinomiya helped set it out the packages on the table but didn’t feel he could do enough at this rate.

“Kaoru will make sure he has things as he likes them,” Shichijo said, “please do not worry about it.”

Takuto tried his best not to look mortified and finally smiled when he realized what Saionji had gotten them.

“Sushi is Shinomiya’s favorite,” he said offhandedly.

“I’m glad that is the case,” Saionji replied, “Shinomiya, you must have your hands full right now.” He turned to the archer, “I can only imagine how hard you must be working.”

“Niwa must be bemoaning your absence,” Shichijo smirked.

Omi ,” Saionji said in a warning tone.

Shichijo said nothing else. He wouldn’t’ve had a chance to anyway as Naruse came running into view.

“Shinomiya-sen!” the first year panted, “senpai!”

All four of the other boys looked at him, Takuto seeming the most confused, “Naruse-kun?”

“I was going to get Matsuoka-sensei but I saw Shinomiya-san,” Naruse started to explain, “Taki had an accident!”

 

Shinomiya bid a quick apology for having to leave and Saionji politely waved it off. Naruse was in a hurry and dragged Shinomiya away with Takuto close behind them. Naruse partially explained how Taki Shunsuke, the cyclist had been practicing for an upcoming competition and hurt himself in the process and Shinomiya was able to take in just enough of what he saw to realize there must be more to it. The small boy lay curled on his side, clear pain but tolerance in his scrunched face. Shinomiya wasted no time in leaning over him to asses the damage. There was dirt and grass littering his hair and face (an odd contrast with the short red spikes) and a couple of scrapes, Shinomiya noted, but no obvious gashes or mangled limbs.

 

Shinomiya had seen the toppled biked, the planks and mud puddles and tennis balls, even rackets stuck into the ground like weaving poles, but he could worry about that once he assured Taki’s safety.

“I’m going to remove your shoe,” Shinomiya warned.

Taki grimaced but didn’t protest as Shinomiya carefully untied and wriggled the shoe off. He winced when Shinomiya touched his ankle and then leg.

“There-stsss,” he hissed.

“How on earth?” Shinomiya started. “I’m going to carry you back to the dorm, you cannot put stress on this leg, it could be really hurt.”

“It can’t! I have a competition!” Taki bit his tongue and tried to bite back mortification at the look Shinomiya gave him, the feeling only grew worse when he had to accept a piggyback ride from the archer.

 

“Just what were you doing?” Shinomiya chastised. He set Taki on a couch in the lobby.

“Takuto, would you please get us some ice and a first aid kit?” oh how his tone changed when he spoke to the artist, and changed right back when he looked at the guilty first years. “An obstacle course? That was a deathtrap! And Naruse! How could you help construct that! Do you have no judgement?”

 

Naruse held Taki’s shoe and looked thoroughly ashamed, prompting Takuto to worry as well.

“Shi-shinomiya, you don’t have to be so harsh, I’m sure they learned their lesson,” Takuto said, he left them hesitantly to retrieve what Shinomiya asked for.

“Taki...I’m so sorry,” Naruse said, “if you weren’t able to compete...it would be all my fault.”

“Let’s not assume the worst,” Shinomiya said, “it looks relatively minor, if we take care of it quickly it should be fine.”

Takuto arrived back just in time to see Taki’s eyes widen with hope.

“Takuto- thank you,” Shinomiya said when he handed the archer supplies.

Taki’s foot lay elevated on a pillow and Takuto had the sense to stand back as Shinomiya deftly tended to the injury. He watched as Taki’s forefront anxiety eased into wonder at Shinomiya’s skilfull work. Shinomiya glowed like this, this was what he did best, taking care of others. Takuto felt a knot in his stomach at seeing how tender Shinomiya could be with anyone in need, but he made himself watch Shinomiya’s face, an expression of all business fixated there. He was not looking at Taki quite tenderly , but like it was his job. No, he only looked at Takuto with softness and love in his eyes.

 

“Ahh! Thank you so much,” Taki gasped.

“Keep icing it and rest for today, go see Matsuoka sensei tomorrow as well,” Shinomiya said.

“Y’saved me from missing out on my competition! Thank you!” Taki insisted.

“Take care of it and you’ll find out if you get to compete,” Shinomiya said sternly, though it only took a moment for his face to soften. “Good luck Taki.”

...                                                                           

“That was amazing,” Takuto said when they were alone again.

“It’s amazing how foolish they were,” Shinomiya grumbled, “really? A makeshift all-terrain course? What did they think would happen? There are better things to do if someone needs to practice.”

Shinomiya ,” Takuto said, stopping them in the hall to take his hands. “ You are amazing.”

“Heh, I don’t know about that,” Shinomiya said, shifting so that he now held Takuto’s hands in his.

 

The hall was quiet on Sunday afternoons, leaving Shinomiya full concentration to give the hands he held. Small calluses, nicks from carving knives (he assumed,) of course paint and charcoal (frequent features) between fingers and smudged into lines in Takuto’s skin. He realized that the artist was studying his hands too, frowning at them, or maybe at a fading mark on his wrist. Shinomiya leaned back against the wall and let Takuto lean into him. To the artist, his own hands felt like fractured and reassembled stone that Shinomiya held like something precious.

“Thank you Shinomiya,” he murmured. “For loving me, even when I’m so broken.”

He thought of the way Shinomiya looked at him, how warm it made him feel, how undeserving it made him feel. What on earth had he done earn a love so intense it burned and thrilled him to the point where his hands shook? One interwove their fingers together and the other touched Shinomiya’s face, thumbing right below a violet eye. What a lovely violet to get lost in, gods, he wanted to drown in it. He hadn’t even realized that they were practically kissing or that he’d smoldered into lust until Shinomiya spoke against his lips:

“Takuto, we can’t here.”

Takuto felt an internal glass shattering, he jerked backwards, realizing that he’d been practically on top of Shinomiya. “Oh- oh my gosh! I’m so sorry.”

“It’s alright,” Shinomiya said, “why don’t we go finish some homework or something.”

Takuto looked at the hand Shinomiya held out to him and bit his lip, “um, I can’t actually. I- I need to go to work on something.”
                                                                                ---

He had taken literal hours ripping pages because his sketch was imperfect. Pages he’d torn from a sketch pad littered his bed and he had only broken to answer a text from Shinomiya asking if he’d eaten since they missed their lunch. He promised he was alright, thanked Shinomiya for worrying about him. Shinomiya’s reply included his usual “I love you.”

Takuto grinned at his most recent sketch. His pencil stained hands gripped the sketch pad the same way his grin gripped his face. He was so satisfied it felt unreasonable. On the page was a set of hands, large hands toughened by work but gently holding a thinner pair between them. The smaller like broken and reassembled glass, fractures spider-webbing every which way. But between their palms, the four cupped together, they held light. For all the recent times he’d wanted to slice his own fingers off so that he couldn’t paint anymore, this would be the first painting in a long time he was so excited to create, the first in a long time he wanted to paint for himself.

                                                                               ---

Niwa looked frantic, “Iwai! It’s important! You won’t be able to paint here anymore!”

Takuto stood staring wide eyed at the boy he’d just let into his room. “What?”

“Okay, c’mere,” Niwa put his hands on Takuto’s shoulders and steered him to sit on the bed. “Iwai, we just had a meeting with the school board. We do this all the time, them threatening to cut funding for things like clubs but sometimes it’s serious. Look, the art club is in danger because they don’t have any majorly accomplished representatives.”

“W-what?” Takuto repeated.

Niwa sighed, “Iwai, I’m gonna talk to the art club president, you don’t have to. But if you were the president, they couldn’t close the club. Not when you have so many contest wins this year and a gallery exhibit.”

Takuto grimaced at the mention. “Niwa, I’d be no good as a club president, I’m..I’m still really awkward with everyone.”

Niwa looked serious, he brought his face closer and stared hard; “Iwai, do you want to save the art club?”

“Y-yeah but-”

“It’ll be good for you,” Niwa insisted. “You can always ask for help from the current president.” He bent himself over to hug the artist, “and you’ve got me. I mean that, I’ll be here for you.”

Takuto couldn’t think until Niwa stood again. “You can count on me, okay?”

Every part of Takuto wanted to argue that Niwa would be too busy, that it was too much of a burden to ask that he train the artist in executive matters alongside all of his other duties. Niwa was already a good friend, worrying about Takuto, especially when Shinomiya was busy. It’s too much Niwa , he thought, I can’t. I can’t but ; “Okay.”

                                                                         ...

“I’m glad Ryou was okay,” Takuto murmured. He lay tucked into Shinomiya’s side, in his own bed for once. They normally occupied the archer’s room but he couldn’t stay that day. Takuto felt so selfish.

 

He’s the one worrying and stressed but he’s comforting me , Takuto thought, berating himself.

 

“He’s already excited for winter break,” Shinomiya chuckled, “I will be glad to come home too.”

“I wish you could stay,” Takuto mumbled. “Ah-” he caught himself, “I mean, here, right now, like this.”

“I always miss you when we’re apart,” Shinomiya said.

“Yeah.”

“What will you do for christmas then?” Shinomiya said, “it’s another month and a half away though.”

“I- I’m entering a contest, I think. I’m trying to come up with ideas,” Takuto answered.

It wasn’t what Shinomiya meant, but he didn’t press. “I’m sorry I can’t stay,” he said instead.

Takuto thumbed semi-circles under Shinomiya’s eyes. “You can’t stay like this Shinomiya. We hardly see each other but you...you’re not able to take care of yourself like this, are you?” Takuto said. He hated the edge of his tone as it slipped into a whine, not even a proper plea. I can’t even beg him right .

“You still get up to run in the mornings, right?” Takuto pressed.

“It’s my only time to myself really,” Shinomiya replied.

Takuto propped himself up with one arm, keeping his other hand on Shinomiya. “My love,” he knew his voice was nervous, “please don’t do this to yourself. You do so much, it’s enough. Your grades don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to parent anyone here or at home, you don’t have to fix the student council, it’s not your job.”

Stay with me, forget everything else . He had the urge to grovel, stop leaving me behind . His assertiveness caught Shinomiya off guard, the archer too sat up but couldn’t speak yet.

“Even this, you have to work extra hard to have time for me, don’t you?” Takuto said.

Gods no, don’t cry, don’t be so weak when you need to be strong for him .

“Shinomiya, you don’t have to keep trying to be perfect,” Takuto said. “You take care of us, all of the students in this dorm, and the other archers look up to you, you’re already a good role model. Why do you have to do everything?”

No, no stop. Don’t cry, don’t cry. Why are you saying such selfish things to him?

 

“I needed to be good enough, so I became someone who let everyone expect it of me,” Shinomiya said.

It wasn’t something they spoke about, it likely wasn’t something Shinomiya really let himself think about. He was the strong one, he was okay. He had to be. Of course he didn’t need someone to hold him. Of course he didn’t need to cry. Takuto felt his insides chill as he watched Shinomiya’s eyes glisten and tears pool over, you’re the worst , he told himself. He leaned forward to pull Shinomiya into his arms for a change.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, “I’m sorry Shinomiya.”

He tried to summon the steady calm with which Shinomiya would wipe away his tears. Shinomiya’s quiet was unsettling but Takuto felt protective instead of lost. He kissed Shinomiya’s cheeks and forehead, slowly, softly. “You are enough, you don’t have to be strong all the time,” he soothed.

Shinomiya made almost no sounds to give away his state only his slight sniffles and rigid curved posture betrayed him. That and the way he willingly curled into Takuto’s embrace, forgetting to be the strong one for once and let Takuto stroke his hair and hold him. It wasn’t a self he knew, it wasn’t a Shinomiya who Takuto knew either, but it was there and Takuto would love him no less.



Chapter Text

Takuto had been in the art room for a good half hour before he realized he wasn’t alone.
“Hey Iwai, though I might find you here.”

He turned his head to acknowledge Niwa, nodded politely and went back to his painting.

“You weren’t at breakfast either,” Niwa prompted.

“Painting,” Takuto answered.

“Heh,” Niwa said, “I see th- wow , Iwai, what’s this?”

Niwa stared at the painted hands on the canvas. Takuto looked enraptured and running on an intensity Niwa hadn’t seen in him before. He was honestly beautiful like this, immersed in his art and his love for it like a glow around him. He looked like he was in love, there was something about how he seemed to adore whatever thoughts he was bringing to life on the canvas.

 

“You look happy,” Niwa noted.

Takuto finally turned to him, his shy smile was so sweet, Niwa thought.

“I like this one,” Takuto said.

“Does it mean something?” Niwa asked.

Takuto flushed but his smile didn’t falter, “yeah. It means a lot to me, I don’t feel so unfixable like that.”

“Like what?” Niwa asked under his breath but Takuto had already gone back to shading cracks in one set of hands.

“There’s nothing wrong with you,” Niwa added, immediately unsure he should’ve said so.

Takuto seemed to register the comment but gave little sign other than a quick glance back at Niwa. Niwa understood that this was not the time to talk, Takuto disappeared into his art when he worked. Niwa had peaked into the art room a couple times recently to see Takuto in a lone corner, there seemed to be no difference with him as club president, he still sat alone and communed mostly with his own art. At the moment though, at least Takuto looked happy, it was nice to see him that way.

                                                                             ---  

“She said she never sees me, I thought our love was enough,” Naruse bemoaned.

“I’m sorry Naruse-kun,” Takuto said, consoling his friend through yet another breakup.

“When she said she had to talk last night I said we were strong enough but she didn’t believe me.”

Takuto didn’t respond but he laid a tentative hand on Naruse’s shoulder.

“You’ll heal,” he recited.

“Don’t you believe in love, Iwai-senpai?”

The question caught Takuto off guard, it really shouldn’t have surprised him given the way Naruse seemed to idealize he and Shinomiya. The thought brought Takuto a long wave of guilt, he bit his lip and his eyes fell over his sleeves. Shinomiya was clearly not obtuse, not with the worrying glances or ghosting touches he’d give, but he hadn’t outright asked why Takuto was back to never being sleeveless. He could feel phantom numbness, blade sensations, and bloody dampness. He couldn’t keep hiding it like this, he couldn’t-

 

“Senpai? Iwai-san?”

Naruse was holding Takuto’s wrists and staring at him, their faces far too close for Takuto’s comfort. He jerked back and pulled himself free.

“N-Naruse, you startled me,” he managed.

“Sorry, you looked upset all the sudden,” Naruse answered.

 

Takuto had waved it off at the moment, but he couldn’t deny his dread when he returned to his room and found a message from his mother on his phone.

Takuto, we need to meet tomorrow. I’ll come by during the day .”

 

I have classes Mama , he thought, not that he was particularly motivated to go but he’d been in a good mood recently even if he hadn’t seen Shinomiya enough. But he promised he’d leave the student council in January, Takuto reminded himself, he hoped it would be soon enough. It felt too far away.

                                                                                   ---

He awoke to his phone ringing. It was still before class, he dragged himself out of bed and grimaced before answering.

“Mama?”

“Good morning my little painter.”

Takuto winced, he didn’t want to meet her that day. He got back into bed without changing into his school pants and pulled the brown sweater around himself. Maybe if he couldn’t face his day he could sleep through it, he figured. If Shinomiya would be busy all day anyway, why do anything?

I’ll come by later ,” his mother had said. She didn’t give him any specifics, nor time to remind her he had classes and homework and that he had no paintings prepared. He had no idea how much time he’d spent staring into space and lying restlessly when a loud knocking startled him. He at least had the sense to pull on pants, (if not tuck in his shirt) but stood frozen instead of answering. What if it were his mother?

 

“Takuto!”

 

He lunged for the door, he knew that voice. Shinomiya’s accompanying face was panicked and he pushed his way in meeting open arms instead of resistance. He grabbed Takuto’s upper arms and his eyes scoured the artist up and down, finally he let out a heavy sigh and and held him tight.

Takuto, ” Shinomiya’s voice trembled. “I was so afraid, you weren’t at breakfast or lunch or in any of our classes and Niwa said he hadn’t seen you either.”

 

“You came to find me?” Takuto asked.

“Of course I came to find you, I’m so glad you are alright,” he said.

“But you’re so busy,” Takuto said, sounding genuinely puzzled.

Shinomiya took a step back but held Takuto’s head with still trembling hands. He looked like he’d just manage to finish an exhausting race, residue fear and relief in simultaneity.

“Takuto I thought you were hurt or worse ,” he said, “Niwa and I were so worried- oh, we should let him know you’re alright.”

“I’m sorry, I keep worrying you. How many times have you had to come running to save me now? You had to leave your work and...is it lunch time? I’m sor-”

Takuto’s favorite kind of interruption was kisses. This one burned with Shinomiya’s urgency and felt like it was setting him on fire, sucking the breath out of him but he needed it so terribly. As soon as they broke it Shinomiya was crushing him into another embrace.

“I love you,” he said, “I love you so much , Takuto.”

“Shi-”

“I can’t work without knowing you’re safe, I can’t eat,” he interrupted again. He hadn’t let go but Takuto was willing to stay like that for however long his lover deigned.

“Why don’t we have dinner together, you can tell me what happened? Maybe I could spend Saturday night with you,” Shinomiya suggested. “Do you want to be with me tonight too?”

Takuto bit his lip, “y-yeah but it’s okay. I’ll look forward to Saturday.”

“I’m sorry it’s been a while.”

Takuto shook his head, “Shinomiya...thank you.”

“Hmm? What for?”

“For loving me so much.”

                                                                                 ---

“Where were you? Don’t you love your mother?”

“I’m sorry Mama, I didn’t see my phone that day, it was a school day.”

Technically that was true, and the reason why he hadn’t seen Shinomiya or Niwa’s attempts to call and message when he hadn’t shown up. And he had gone to the rest of his classes once Shinomiya coaxed him. If his mother had really intended to make their meeting work she should have involved him in the plans.

“I’m coming Saturday then,” she said.

Takuto clenched his phone to keep himself from tossing it, at least he would be with Shinomiya that night. That would make things better.

                                                                               

He had to rush to have a painting ready, slacking on homework he promised himself he’d ask Shinomiya to help with...if they had time. He glanced at the canvas with a sheet over it, he wanted to be working on that instead, though it was nearly finished. He decided his half-ass piece was done, his mother would take whatever he gave her and made his way instead to his covered painting.  He pulled back the sheet and caressed the shading and tints in the cracks of the thinner hands, thinking of Shinomiya’s hands on him.

Shinomiya’s touch was like adhesive in his fractures, holding him together. He started to imagine ice outlining the fractures on the painted hands, feeling it on himself.

 

He could feel it fissuring lines in his own skin and chilling him as it crept deep within. There were hands, warm, strong hands he knew, hands that should be able to melt the frost and and warm him as well but he could only feel a wall of cold. He opened his eyes and gasped for breath, quick to realize how cold he was and that his pants were beneath the sheet near the end of his bed. He’d fallen asleep in everything else though, underwear, shirt, socks, the sweater and was even perspiring a bit, why did he feel so cold? He pressed a one hand to the bed and realized his fingers were just slightly numb. Something felt wrong and he wanted to ignore it.

“It’ll be alright,” he told his reflection in the bathroom. “Tonight, with Shinomiya, it’ll be alright.”                                                                                  ---

 

“This is it?”  she said.

By now, Takuto was used to clenching when he met his mother. Clenching his teeth when she spoke, clenching his hands when he walked away, the feeling of his insides clenching the entire time they went through their motions. Everything felt wrong, maybe worse than usual. He shifted from foot to foot and waited for her to speak again, to get this over with, Shinomiya was already waiting for him.

 

She looked at him expectantly, lowering her head just slightly and causing her sunglasses to dip.

I knew it , he thought. “Mama you saw him didn’t you? He did that to you.”

There was an obvious blotch of purple and blue bruising he could see around one of his mother’s eyes. It seemed to be a place his father favored when angry.

“Because he was angry that I couldn’t meet you and do what I needed to last time,” she said coldly.

Takuto felt like she’d shoved him into a block of ice. Frozen and burning with the sting. He bit his tongue until it hurt, reminding him he wasn’t quite numb yet.

“I can’t stay, I have go to back soon, but this isn’t enough Takuto,” she said. “He was mad and it was my fault for not getting what I needed and maybe if you’d been able to give me a painting sooner-”

He wasn’t listening, he was noticing that she wore a jacket that covered her arms and her lipstick was a thick, dark shade he recognized as one his mother wore over smaller bruises.

 

“Fine, I’ll be right back,” Takuto said, without knowing what words she spoke, he didn’t need to.

He could feel himself succumbing to the ice around him, freezing his insides, numbing him again. He hated this, he shoved the door to the art room open and blinked back hot, angry tears.

Are you hurting or numb?! he yelled at himself, Pick one ! He couldn’t stand it, feeling both pain and emptiness as he dragged out pulling the covering off the easel and lifting the painting. He tried not to look at it, he hoped he wasn’t crying, he couldn’t really tell. He thought he heard his mother say something like words of praise to what he handed her, but he did so in such a suddenly deadened state that he couldn’t be sure. He turned around and tried to preserve whatever feeling he still had as he walked away. Shinomiya would be waiting for him, he’d rather bleed out than never feel Shinomiya again.                                                                              ---

 

“Hello.”

Shinomiya was standing outside of his bedroom door, giving him a charming look that made part of him ache for more and the rest of him ache to feel more readily. The archer’s expression dropped cautiously when he saw how mechanically Takuto moved. He looked like he was forcing something, forcing himself not to cry maybe, but Shinomiya couldn’t discern for sure. He went along though as Takuto pulled him inside and closed the door immediately behind them, Takuto barely waiting for them to take their shoes off. He was on Shinomiya then, wrapping around him in snakelike search for heat. Shinomiya’s school blazer hit the floor with a rustle and Takuto was soon unbuttoning the shirt beneath and kissing his neck.

“Takuto what’s wrong?”

“Miss you so much.”

Takuto could tell Shinomiya was being careful when he too unbuttoned Takuto’s shirt, stopping every few seconds for kisses.

“Shinomiya...” Takuto panted, “Shinomiya...can we?”

“Gods yes, I miss you...I want you too.”
Shinomiya felt both breathless and exhilarated. His eyes smiled as clearly as his mouth, at least, for another moment before he Takuto’s mouth was on his, directing Shinomiya with one hand on his face and the other at his belt. When the backs of his knees met the artist’s bed he sat and let those frenzied hands pull his pants off.  

“Oh,” Shinomiya said in a half laugh,

Takuto’s focus shifted and saw the archer’s finger tips under the pillow.

“You sure are prepared,” Shinomiya grinned, he reached up to beckon Takuto.

Takuto bit his lip, “wanted you...” he mumbled. His face felt flushed, he knew he must be scarlet, but Shinomiya’s welcoming arms only made him feel better. He pushed his own pants down and sat with a knee on either side of Shinomiya’s hips, knowing Shinomiya was strong enough to hold them, even there on the edge of the bed. He didn’t though, Shinomiya laid back, gently pulling Takuto with him without breaking their lips apart. Takuto shuddered a breath, grinding down to make Shinomiya growl against his mouth. Takuto gasped back, he couldn’t take for granted how gentle Shinomiya was, the way he bit Takuto’s lip should’ve been hungry and careless but instead was affectionate just as the kiss he delivered below Takuto’s mouth.

“I love you,” Shinomiya breathed.

“Koji...” Takuto whispered.

They shared another long kiss which bled into several more as they moved to fit on the bed properly. Takuto felt like everything had fallen to Shinomiya’s pace of slow and tender. He almost forgot his urgency until the hand running up this thigh cupped him from behind and it hit him fiercely. He sat up in a hurry, straddling Shinomiya and rocked and swayed into him, Shinomiya groaned at the friction and Takuto’s wordless sounds and pleasured gasps.

“Shi-Shinomiya, under th-the pillow.”

Shinomiya was quick to retrieve the packets under the pillow, handing one to Takuto. Takuto held himself up on all fours above Shinomiya so they could both further disrobe. Shinomiya’s abdominal muscles shone more so than ever when he leaned upwards to remove his shirt. Takuto gulped, instead of sitting back down so they could touch he parted Shinomiya’s knees and sat between them, hovering over the taut torso.

“Koji...” Takuto came all the way up to peck his lips and slid back to kiss his torso. Lightly over one pectoral and nipple and languidly slow down Shinomiya’s abs.  “So lovely,” he murmured between kisses. “Shinomiya...Koji..my Koji....”

Shinomiya let his head tilt back and let himself feel Takuto’s words on the insides on his legs. Shinomiya gasped loudly when a wet heat surrounded the head of his erection, it never managed to dull in sensation no matter how prepared he told himself he was. If there was anything that would do him in it was Takuto’s soft affection, his actions and his words conveying something with a core of love. If anything what he desired and needed most was Takuto’s love for him. He tried not to whine when the loss of wet heat met cool air and called him back to the very present reality.

 

“Wanna try again,” Takuto was saying, straddling his hips, reaching behind himself...when did he have time to prepare?

Shinomiya’s hands were on him, stroking his face as Takuto stroked into and spread himself.

“I love you,” he kept saying, leaning up so that he could reach to kiss Takuto’s forehead and cheeks.  “Is- is it difficult like that?”

Takuto grunted, “nn- yeah, not as good as you,.  

Soon on of Shinomiya’s hands joined his, having a slightly better reach. It made Takuto keen and rub against him, Shinomiya had to bite back the urge to pull him down into a round of brazen dry sex. That was not what Takuto said he wanted, this was. He gripped Shinomiya and slid slowly down onto him.

“Oh gods- wait Takuto- the condom, we-”

“Don’t care.”

Takuto moved his hips in a tiny sway which ripped a groan from Shinomiya.

“Okay...” he agreed.

“Want you...all of you, in me...it’s okay,” Takuto drawled.

One of them, maybe both at once felt his breath hitch and gasped slowly when Takuto started to move. Right away Shinomiya wrapped a hand around Takuto’s own erection, pumping and touching slowly while thumbing the slit.

“Nn-uh, Takuto...not gonna last,” Shinomiya warned. He didn’t know if they spent moments or hours like that or how rapidly either of them had been moving, only that looking at Takuto like this was probably enough to make him come. In the end, if he tried to recall, it must have been how Takuto looked as he sobbed and came over Shinomiya’s hand, riding himself through it in long and slow movements. Watching him had done Shinomiya in before and it hadn’t lost any power over the archer. He let Takuto collapse onto him, wiped his messy hand with a couple of tissues and held him.

 

“We should get dinner,” Shinomiya said finally.

“I’m full,” Takuto said tiredly.

Takuto .”

“Okay but...shower with me after?”

“We may need to clean up a bit before then,” Shinomiya reminded him.

Takuto seemed to feel a lot better than before. “I didn’t mean to get clean, but I guess we could do that too.”

...

Takuto had been acting strangely last night, that much Shinomiya couldn’t deny, but it didn’t seem so urgent at the moment with the way he was folded in Shinomiya’s arms. His hands poked out of sleeves that he must have stretched to cover his long limbs and his bare legs lay tangled around Shinomiya’s, pressing against the fabric of his sleep sweats. He clung to Shinomiya even in his sleep, or perhaps even moreso. Shinomiya stroked the artist’s hair, fingering strands and letting them go as a disquiet fought the peace within him. Takuto had returned to the dorm yesterday supressedly distraught and whatever it was he hadn’t given Shinomiya a moment to ask. But something had been bothering his artist and he hadn’t been around enough to realize it, so how could he be sure that their uninhibited night had really “fixed” anything?

 

Maybe Takuto was anxious with winter break approaching, Shinomiya wasn’t terribly eager to let his beloved go back “home” either. Not if Takuto’s mother was the person he’d met that day in the school infirmary. He kissed Takuto’s forehead, not expecting him to be awake when he felt a kiss to his jaw in answer.

“Good morning.”

Takuto blinked and smiled instead of responding with words. One of his hands traveled to Shinomiya’s face and settled there.

“I miss everything,” Takuto whispered.

Shinomiya sighed his rue, “I know it’s rarely like this anymore.”

“That student council is too selfish,” Takuto said, “makes it harder for me to be selfish.”

“What do you mean?” Shinomiya asked.

Takuto dipped his head but his eyes looked up at his boyfriend. “Want you...with me instead of them.”

“January, my love,” Shinomiya reminded him. “Next month.”

“There’s even a break before then,” Takuto sighed. Instead of elaborating he pulled the blanket higher over them and hid beneath it. Eventually they managed to get up without too much effort. Takuto found Shinomiya’s pants and shirt before his own pants and was tempted to change into both while Shinomiya was in the bathroom. Shinomiya turned off the faucet and sighed heavily at the sink as he heard footsteps entering.

“I’m sorry Takuto,” he said, “that I can’t bring you home again.”

He felt Takuto’s chest press against his back and the artist’s long arms come around him.

“You can’t,” Takuto said, “I have to go back too.”

“Are things better at all?” Shinomiya dared ask.

Takuto didn’t answer.

                                                                                 ---

Takuto didn’t expect Naruse to appear while he put finishing touches on his contest painting.

“You’re here all the time, but always alone,” Naruse said.

Takuto shrugged in answer.

“Where is Shinomiya-san?” Naruse pressed.

It wasn’t as if the club room was empty, but even if none of the art club members had anything against Takuto, they let him keep to himself.

Takuto finally spoke, “he’s busy a lot, I don’t get to see him much besides weekends.”

“So it’s been almost a week since you’ve seen him?” Naruse asked.

Takuto’s shoulders sat a bit less slumped than usual but his face was tired and otherwise blank.

“Yeah.”

“What’s this painting?”  

“It’s for a Christmas contest.”

His canvas had become a frozen lake reflecting many colours of city lights and festive scenery.

“It’s amazing,” Naruse breathed.

Takuto managed to smile at that. “Thank you.”

Naruse nodded. “So real, like it would be cold if I touched it.”

Takuto’s eyes widened in surprise when Naruse touched his hands.

“Iwai-san, your hands are cold too.”

                                                                                 ---

The contest had been small but Takuto placed all the same. People kept saying he was a good artist but winnings didn’t count as evidence to that, art was highly subjective. He felt excited for the first time in many days, despite the oncoming break he’d have to spend with his mother, (if she were around,) instead of with Shinomiya. Still, he gripped the canvas he’d tucked under his arm and walked with purpose. He sped up when he saw Shinomiya approaching from the other end of the hall. Something was wrong, Shinomiya was carrying himself so differently, his usually perfect posture was askew, he would have seemed to trudge if he weren’t keeping a reasonable pace.

“Shinomiya.”

The archer looked up at the sound, he hadn’t even been looking forward.

“Oh, Takuto, I didn’t see you.”

Takuto felt a chill run through him, he could’ve sworn his heart stopped for just a split second. Of course Shinomiya hadn’t meant it that way but- “Something’s wrong?”

“Ryou.”

 

Ryou had some sort of cardiac emergency, he was safe now but he’d be in the hospital, if he were lucky he might come home by Christmas. Takuto let a new sense of direction take over and pulled Shinomiya with him, when he’d asked where they were going Takuto simply told him “your room.” He could worry about giving Shinomiya the painting later, or even mail it if he really had to.  


“Stop thinking,” Takuto said as soon as the door closed behind them. He framed Shinomiya’s face and kissed him, beckoning and welcoming. He ran his hands into Shinomiya’s hair and tugged carefully, making the archer moan against him.

“Don’t think,” Takuto coaxed, as he pushed Shinomiya onto the bed.

“Takuto- I-”

Takuto looked at him dead serious, “do you want this?”

“Yes.” Shinomiya didn’t hesitate.

“Then don’t think.”

It was a side of Takuto he hadn’t seen yet, assertive as Takuto could be he was never quite so cool and collected about it- but Shinomiya would only become aware of that later, at the moment, he couldn’t think.

                                                                                 ---

He couldn’t process. He stood just out of Ryou’s view in the doorway but he could see his little brother alright. Or whoever was sitting there with Ryou’s face. Shinomiya hadn’t seen him like that in years, the spark that made him a fiery spirit seemed to burn without brightness. He did offer a smile when he saw his big brother though, one that ripped at Shinomiya’s heart for how tired it was.

“Nii-chan.”

Shinomiya couldn’t say anything, he stepped the rest of the way into the hospital room and came closer to hug Ryou. The boy felt smaller to him, fragile, but he fit like that’s where he belonged. It had been too long since Shinomiya held someone like that.  

“Ryou-chan, your hair has gotten long again,” Shinomiya said, gently ruffling it.

“I didn’t get to cut it,” Ryou said, “I’ve been here. I may even have to be here for Christmas,” he scrunched his features together in distaste and Shinomiya couldn’t help but smile as the life in Ryou’s face fought to glow.

“Oh, that reminds me,” Shinomiya said, “Takuto sent you a Christmas present. I suppose technically he sent it for all of us, but he wanted you to have it.”

“What is it?” Ryou asked.

Shinomiya’s smile was knowing but too gentle to be a smirk; “I’ll let you in on a little secret,” he said, “you seem to be the only person Takuto will paint for.”



Chapter Text

The smells that hit Takuto as he stirred Christmas Eve morning were glorious. His mother had let him sleep in, he noticed. He’d slept in his jeans but couldn’t bother to care. He pulled off his shirt and tried not to look at himself as he pulled on a clean one. It felt like his arms were staring at him though, he looked away and dug through his bag for a sweater, sighing with the instant comfort he felt at finding the well-loved brown sweater from Shinomiya. It had survived rather well against all of the wear he’d given it, every moment he’d used it to shrink the hole that seemed to follow him around whenever he wasn’t at his beloved’s side.

Takuto pulled the sweater sleeves down and clasped the ends, fingers pressing them against his palms as he padded towards the kitchen area where a siren song of wonderful smells beckoned.


“Good morning,” his mother greeted. “I was going to have to wake you,” she said, “the crepes will be ready soon.”

She never really did traditional Japanese breakfast, she served whatever she had a whim for, when she did cook. But when she did it always tasted amazing, making it something to always look forward to. “Good morning,” Takuto said back. The next thing he knew she stood leaning over him, despite his increasing height. She grabbed one side of his sweater and examined it.

“You have a button falling off, baby,” she said. She looked at him face to face, “you must wear this a lot, it’s quite used, isn’t it?”

“I- I like it,” Takuto answered, “a- a lot.”

There was something heartwarming about the lack of disapproval in her face and her shrug, “alright then.”

He grinned as she turned back to the stove feeling like a child whose parent had given silent approval instead of scolding. His joy lasted through the day, spurred on shortly by the breakfast his mother made. He could still taste warm tart berry and sweet batter from the crepes when he took his mother’s empty plate.

“I can do the dishes Mama.”

She gave him a grateful smile. “I have such a good boy.”

He helped her clean the kitchen and stayed out of her way afterwards until she called him back. He felt a childish glee run through him to see that the counter he’d cleaned off now lay cluttered with measuring devices, a couple of large stirring spoons and a mixing bowl.

“Are- are we making cookies?” he asked hopefully.

She winked at him, “you bet.”

Half an hour and a minor mess later his mother was wiping flour on her apron. He’d put the dishes in the sink to soak and turned around to see his mother brush loose strands of hair away from her face. It fell in uneven strands as it escaped her ponytail but Takuto could only find it beautiful at that moment. She seemed lovely to him and he imagined she must have been a heartbreaker before he was born.

“Hmm, what is it?” she asked and he realized he’d been staring. It wasn’t one of his better habits it seemed.

“N-nothing,” he answered.

“Baby, come here,” she beckoned him closer with a wave and surprised him when she touched his face with a cloth. “Got some flour on that pretty face of yours,” she grinned.

He blushed but smiled back.

 

The day continued similarly, sometimes Christmas Eve was lovely together if his mother felt like cooking. Takuto felt perfectly relaxed, he and his mother on either end of the couch, each with a book as they waited for the cookies to bake. He put away dishes and made tea as she attended the oven and they curled up again with tea and cookies on the couch. A perfect, lazy Christmas Eve. All he’d had to do that day was help clean and set the table while his mother cooked. He alternated keeping a paper behind his back or up his sweater sleeve until she sat down.

 

“Um, Mama, I know it’s a day early but um, here,” he handed her the card.

He ached to make her smile and approve, lighting up the same way she did. Her light turned to awe and warmth which spread to and through him- for just a few moments.

 

“Takuto, such a brilliant artist, you really are just like your father.”

 

He’s not a father . But Takuto didn’t say that aloud, not to his mother's face. He wished she’d let him leave the table to vomit at the words she seemed to think were a compliment. Despite how good his mother was at cooking, Takuto suddenly couldn’t eat, he felt sick.

                                                                                   ---

No one would believe it anyway.

 

“Why did you do this to yourself?”

“No one would know.”

“I don’t understand- why?”

I- I don’t kno w...”

 

The crowd of people around suddenly felt thick, suffocating. His stomach clenched and pain twisted his insides. The knife protruding from it dripped blood down his shirt. People walked right by him and sometimes smiled or nodded back if he did first, but they kept walking through the busy street. They beamed and praised him for his art, people with faces he couldn’t place and light too bright in the gallery. He was inside now, it was dark out. Dark outside but too bright inside. Blood still dripped, no one seemed to notice the knife.

 

“What a great artist.”

                                                                                   ---

All he managed to vomit out was bile and not much at that. He must have been loud because his mother stood in the doorway when he looked up, he couldn’t discern the expression she wore.

“Takuto, baby.” She knelt next to him. She brushed his hair back and wiped his face with a towel, “what happened?”

Takuto had no idea what he was feeling, it was nice to have her acting so gentle towards him and she looked genuinely concerned. He could at least identify the guilt in his mess of feelings. He knew it was still dark out, he must have woken her.

“S-s-orry Mama.”

“Hey, it’s gonna be okay. What’s wrong, baby?”

“Just a-a- dre-a nightmare,” he muttered.

“One of those bad ones?” she asked. “It’s been quite a while hasn’t it? Since you were little maybe.”

He didn’t correct her.

“Maybe you should just stay a kid,” she said. “Let me take care of you. C’mon, I’ll make you some ginger tea and we can wrap up in a blanket on the couch.”

 

He let her guide him to the couch and make him tea.

“Th-thanks Mama.”

“Sure thing, that’s what mamas do.”

He let her wrap them both in a blanket and let himself snuggle against her. She petted his hair and rubbed his back and he could have been six years old again.

“It’s okay, there’s my little guy, it’s okay.”

                                                                                    ---


“Merry Christmas, Ryou-chan,” Shinomiya announced himself as he entered Ryou’s hospital room. “I know you wanted to be home by today, we all wanted that too.”

“I want to see the Christmas lights when I get out,” was Ryou’s only response.

Shinomiya tsked. ”I know, you keep saying that and I’m sorry you can’t, but I’ve got a gift from for you, from Takuto.”

“I dreamed about Nii-chan and Takuto-san.” Ryou said, perking up.

“Oh?” Shinomiya answered, “what happened?”

“Huh, nothing, I don’t really remember,” Ryou shrugged. “I think Takuto-san painted something.”

“You know he did,” Shinomiya grinned.

Ryou shook his head, “in my dream. I think Takuto-san painted Nii-chan.”

“Well Takuto didn’t this time,” Shinomiya said, handing Ryou the packaged canvas. “Take a look.”

Shinomiya helped Ryou slide the canvas out of its covering and exhaled in the same long beat as him. The painting wasn’t large really, smaller than any of Ryou’s pillows, but it was larger than anything Takuto had made for him before.

On the canvas lay a world of city lights alive at night, reflecting on the glossy surface of a frozen lake. The detail Takuto had worked into the scene stole Shinomiya’s thoughts and took his breath away. A snowy sloped embankment and bridge between the city world and the river, background skaters on the ice and the layers of surreal colour in the ice and lights highlighting each other. Takuto must truly love his own art to put such feelings to visuals. Shinomiya’s hands clenched, having nothing to grab, no one to touch, at least, not as he suddenly burned to touch Takuto. He might be satisfied just crushing Takuto into him but any space between them (especially hundreds of miles,) was too much.


“Takuto-san is really amazing,” Ryou said. “Nii-chan, why didn’t he come back this time?

Shinomiya’s insides clenched as well. “Takuto is spending holidays with his own family of course. Were you looking forward to seeing him, Ryou-chan?”

“Wasn’t Nii-chan too?”

                                                                                    ---

It took Takuto a long time to realize he wasn’t in his bed and that he lay slumped on the couch and wrapped in a blanket. There were two mugs on the coffee table by the couch beckoning the memory of holding one last night. Or maybe early this morning. His mother had wrapped him up and helped him hold his cup of tea with something undeniably soothing in it. He did love this part of being home, if it was edible, his mother could make it into gold.

 

“Good morning, merry christmas baby.”

He looked up to see his mother make a reappearance, dressed but still wearing her robe, untied like a long sweater.

“You awake now?”

He nodded.

“You didn’t sleep as long as I expected.”

He nodded again instead of answering with words.

She sat down beside him, “do you want anything? I thought we could have a late breakfast together.”

Another nod but instead of any move to stand he curled up against her when she petted his hair. She laughed softly and pulled the blanket back around him and kissed his forehead, fingers sifting over his hair. When she started to hum he sighed, his voice drifting to her tune.

“Hmm, you weren’t really awake, were you?”

He shook his head just enough to affirm.

“That’s okay little guy, you can stay here with Mama.”

                                                                                  ---

“It’s not like I can stay here forever, they have to send me home some time,” Ryou shrugged.

“That’s true,” Shinomiya agreed. “Natsu misses you, she’s very annoyed that I’ve appeared without you.”

“Did she say that?” Ryou joked.

“Well she mostly likes you and Gran anyway. I found her and Aki sleeping on your bed a couple of nights ago.”

“I want to come home for Nii-chan’s birthday, you always end up working but I want to spend it together.”

Shinomiya squeezed the smaller hand in his, “we all want you to come home.”

                                                                                   ---

Ultimately, Takuto decided, his mothers arms were not like Shinomiya’s. She’d petted and coddled him all Christmas day and it was relaxing and wonderful, if different. When he lay in Shinomiya’s arms and looked up at the archer, a waking Shinomiya would be looking adoringly back at him. That look melted him, he’d be unable to keep from blushing or contain his own happiness, Shinomiya looked at him all the time but it could never be enough. He tried not to look up at his mother though. How was she looking at him? Was she looking at him at all?

 

Her hands were so different. Shinomiya’s hands were strong and callused, skin just slightly rough sometimes but he was always so gentle, especially considering he seemed to always be touching Takuto. Absent grazes of fingers over his hair or shoulders (did Shinomiya really like his hair this long?) Always looking for his hand to hold, or to hold Takuto in his arms. Takuto pictured himself looking up at Shinomiya with his head in the archer’s lap, he didn’t think they’d done that yet. Shinomiya would say he always wanted to be near Takuto and Takuto missed Shinomiya’s skin and his hands. His mother’s touches didn’t mean the same things Shinomiya’s did. He frowned to himself, wrapped up there on the couch, he should want Shinomiya right now, shouldn’t he? Something tightened within him, even as he greeted his mother and the bowl of something steaming she brought him with a genuine (if tired) smile.

                                                                                   ---

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : I’ve just learned that Ryou will be coming home tomorrow.

Msg from Iwai Takuto : That’s great =)

Msg from Iwai Takuto : Like a birthday present.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : Yes. If only you were here too. How are you?

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : I’m sorry I haven’t messaged.

Msg from Iwai Takuto : It’s okay, you’ve been at the hospital.

                                                                                  ---

 

His mother was out somewhere so he sat staring at the time on his phone, counting seconds until midnight. He wondered what it would be like to be there with the Shinomiya family, to kiss Shinomiya right as the year changed from its end to the beginning of the next. He couldn’t find the warmth that family had given him, he was alone.

 

Msg from Iwai Takuto : Happy Birthday, Shinomiya.

                                                                                  ---

“Don’t you miss Takuto-san?”

Shinomiya hadn’t expected Ryou to ask that out of nowhere. He’d collapsed against the couch, tasked with keeping an eye on his younger brother while the adults cleaned up the post-New Years evidence at the shrine.

“Ryou-chan you’re the one keeps asking about him, aren’t you the one who misses Takuto?” Shinomiya teased.

Ryou shrugged, unfazed. “I guess. He’s nice and you were happy when he was around.”

Shinomiya frowned, “do I not seem happy now?” he asked.

Ryou petted the cat sitting between them and spoke up just slightly above Aki’s purring. “Seems like you’re thinking too much. Everyone was happy when I came home but there was too much New Years stuff to do and we haven’t celebrated your birthday yet.”

“We’d rather celebrate you though,” Shinomiya’ said.

Ryou nudged Aki and snuggled into his big brother’s side. “Our family loves us both the same, right?”

“Of course they do.” Shinomiya shifted slightly to accommodate both the child and the cat using his lap as a pillow.

Ryou nodded without looking at him. “So they should celebrate us both the same and it’s like...” he paused for a moment, “like when Takuto-san looked at you, you were the only thing he saw and he was the only thing you saw.”

Shinomiya’s hand on his brother’s hair stilled, “Ryou...”

But Ryou wasn’t finished; “but when you were with me at the hospital I didn’t see him around you. Did you tell him not to be there? Didn’t he wait outside my room all day?“

“What brought this up?” Shinomiya asked.

Ryou turned to look up at him from where he lay with his head in Shinomiya’s lap. “Nii-chan, since then you don’t smile the same. You miss him.”

 

“You know, I bet this is something Takuto would want to draw,” Shinomiya said after a long silence, “or paint.”

“What is?” Ryou asked.

His big brother grinned at him. “Takuto would want to draw us three like this, using me as a pillow like this with Aki sitting on you. You don’t act like a small child anymore but I can’t seem to remember how grown you are sometimes.”

“Ryou-chan is too big for this,” Ryou said and rolled his eyes, “you’d say that but then you’d ask why I was acting older. You’re a dummy sometimes, Nii-chan.”

Shinomiya couldn’t help it, “heh, I love you too little brother.”

                                                                                    ---

After two weeks apart, it can’t be a good sign when your significant other greets you with; “I’m sorry, my love,” can it? Takuto for one, did not think so.

 

“W-what’s wrong?” he asked, slipping into Shinomiya’s room.

Shinomiya’s arms came around him and the archer let out a heavy sigh. “It’s been too long.”

Takuto should’ve felt comforted, at home in those arms but instead it felt not bad but unfamiliar, something he’d have to get used to again. It had definitely been too long.

“I’m sorry that I will still be so busy,” Shinomiya said as he let go. “I keep trying to make my escape from the student council but there’s always something to take care of.”

“And schoolwork,” Takuto mumbled.

Shinomiya faced him, “hm?”

“And exams...and archery, Shinomiya, you’re going to be so busy, but- but- ” he grasped Shinomiya’s forearms in either hand. “But I want you too!” He threw his arms around Shinomiya and yanked the archer’s own around himself.

“Ta-Takuto?”

“I need you,” Takuto said.

It wasn’t unheard of for Takuto to go from Zero-to-Outburst but it startled Shinomiya all the same.

“Takuto, what’s wrong? I-” Shinomiya started.

“I miss you so much I can’t stand it,” Takuto said, “it feels too weird to change, I don’t want to, I want to stay close to Shinomiya.” He squeezed his boyfriend tightly. “I’m happy to be back with you now,” he said, “I needed you- Shinomiya-” he pressed his forehead against Shinomiya’s head, half hiding his face against the archer.

Shinomiya could feel Takuto’s soft panting against his neck and waited for his next words.

“Shinomiya...need you. I need you so bad.”

“Tell me what to do, Takuto,” he answered, cupping the artist’s cheek with one hand.

“Kiss me, make me stop thinking, I don’t-” Takuto stopped suddenly and moved back, holding Shinomiya at literal arms length. “S-sorry, I said something weird.”

 

Shinomiya blinked, now a bit confused, “when have we ever worried about that? I still want to kiss you, I missed you so much.”

“I- Shinomiya ,” Takuto grabbed him back and kissed him hard, softening a moment later but with an only increasing intensity. He dragged Shinomiya to the bed and pulled the archer on top of him.

“Ah- Takuto, we-” Shinomiya tried to say through the onslaught of kisses anywhere Takuto could reach. “Eh- wait.”

Takuto stilled, propping himself up on one elbow and looked up and Shinomiya worriedly. “What?”

Shinomiya felt strangely apologetic and awkward, if just slightly. “Ah- no, it’s nothing but, do you want to stay here tonight?”

Yes .” Takuto pulled him back down and kissed him rough and quick in uncharacteristic fashion.

“W-wait, Takuto, wait.”

Takuto stilled again, letting his arms drop down against the bed.

“Tell me what’s wrong,” Shinomiya said, “you’re acting strange.”

“You don’t want me?”

Shinomiya laid next to him instead of hovering over him. “Come here,” he invited, opening his arms.

“But Shinomiya-”

“I want you, Takuto, always,” Shinomiya interrupted. “Come here.”

Takuto looked at Shinomiya guiltily but with unhidden want, certain he wanted to be in Shinomiya’s arms. He let himself curve and fold against his lover, let Shinomiya hold him protectively and tried to remind himself that this was a safe place.

“Please don’t leave,” Takuto murmured.

“I won’t leave you,” Shinomiya answered.

Takuto sighed heavily, shuddered, sounding on the verge of tears. He didn’t cry though, even if he might have needed to.

“I’ll keep coming back,” Shinomiya repeated. “I won’t leave you.” What could have happened since they’d seen each other last to make Takuto like this?

                                                                                      ...

“Takuto?” Shinomiya said after a long silence.

“Hmm?”

“Can you tell me what’s wrong?”

Takuto was silent for another long moment. “I- I overreacted, I’m sor-”

“You don’t need to apologize. You don’t have to talk about it either.”

“Sorry- um, for being so weird and selfish.” He felt Shinomiya kiss his hair.

“It’s okay to be selfish sometimes, but you’re not, Takuto. You’re selfless and supportive and the most wonderful friend and lover.”

“I’m- I’m not, I don’t deserve you.”

“Don’t say that, it’s not true,” Shinomiya argued, still gentle. “I am so  lucky to have you.”

He could feel Takuto shake his head but the artist didn’t say anything else.

“Shiinomiya?”

“Yes love?”

“C-can I ask you for something selfish?”

“You can always ask me for whatever you want.”

“To uh, touch me, please? I- I need to know you’re there, I n-need to stop thinking.”

“How do you want me to touch?” Shinomiya asked

“Uh- um, everything?” Takuto hesitated.  “Um like how you, you always...how you treat me like precious art and you’re so gentle...a-and- and your hands...um. I want that but, but hold me like this.”

Shinomiya slid one hand up the back of Takuto’s shirt, fingers grazing his spine, “like this?”

Takuto whined against him, “yes. Um..under my clothes, yes.”

Shinomiya maneuvered his other hand down to touch the front of Takuto’s torso where his shirt rode up. He caressed Takuto’s stomach, making his way as high as Takuto’s sternum and keeping his other hand steady on the artist’s back then slowly turning downwards and gliding until his fingertips hit Takuto’s waistband.

Takuto fought the urge to fidget against his lover. “Yes..there.”

Shinomiya’s hand on Takuto’s back resumed stroking gingerly as his other hand moved into Takuto’s pants. He cupped Takuto’s already growing erection through his briefs and moved his hand slowly back and forth against the fabric.

“Shinomiya, please, there, just there,” Takuto panted.

Shinomiya never made him wait more than necessary, he focused only on getting his hand into Takuto’s underwear and finding a comfortably firm grasp. Takuto panted and whimpered against him, his nails gripping at Shinomiya’s shirt and exhaling a shaky mantra of, “yes, yes, Koji , Ko-ji .” The words melted and burned Shinomiya as he fought to maintain coherency.

 

“Takuto, do you want to keep these on?” he said, starting to pant himself.

“Y-yeah, clothes ohhh- please don’t stop.”

He didn’t, he thought about the mess Takuto wouldn’t be happy to have made, but he didn’t stop. Takuto could borrow some clothes if he needed to. Takuto’s grip tightened on Shinomiya’s shirt and he turned his head just enough for a slightly misaligned but very determined kiss, shuddering and gasping into Shinomiya’s mouth as he came over his hand. He slouched back a bit, enough for Shinomiya to see his face as he caught his breath.

“Love-” he panted, “Koji, I- love you.”

Shinomiya seemed to have two clean hands and a towel, Takuto thought, but he didn’t think any further because Shinomiya’s hand was against his face, thumb stroking his cheek and looking so in love that something in Takuto hurt to see it. They kissed without urgency and Shinomiya sighed. “I am so in love with you, Takuto.”

 

“My pants...” Takuto managed to respond, not managing to reciprocate the romance.

“Do you want to borrow some underwear?” Shinomiya asked, “there’s probably even still some of your clothes in here.”

Takuto nodded. “Whichever.” He touched Shinomiya’s hip, “what about Shinomiya? Did- did you-” he trailed off and unsubtly searched with both a drifting set of fingers and eyes for any tenting in his boyfriend’s pants and found nothing obvious. Shinomiya only shrugged, “I didn’t get um, it’s fine. It happens sometimes,” he said nonchalantly.  Shinomiya stood to glean for something to give Takuto when he heard; “can I use your shower?”

“Of course, my love,” he answered right away.

Takuto accepted what he recognized as his own pj bottoms and Shinomiya’s briefs and scurried into the bathroom. A moment later he opened the door just enough to stick his head out.

“Um, Shinomiya? Could I borrow a sweater to sleep in?”

Shinomiya found it odd how bashful Takuto seemed but smiled at him all the same, “of course, love.”

 

“Is something wrong?” he asked again as he helped Takuto towel dry his hair.

“W-what are you doing?” Takuto asked.

Shinomiya realized he’d been combing his fingers through Takuto’s hair. “It’s not as soft as usual- er, I mean-”

Takuto nodded, “I didn’t really wash it, it just got wet.”

“You’ve been growing it out.”

“I thought you liked it long?”

Shinomiya’s eyes widened slightly, “you grew it out for me? You shouldn’t do that, you should grow it if you want to.”

“Do you like it?” Takuto asked anyways.

Shinomiya kissed the lock he was holding. “Mm, I do. I love all of you.” He moved the towel out of Takuto’s face and brushed their noses together. “And I want all of you.”

 

Several minutes passed after they’d settled into bed when Takuto spoke again.

“Really?”

“Really what?” Shinomiya echoed.

“You want me?”

“Of course I do.”

“Sorry for getting you damp.”

“Heh, it’s alright, longer hair is harder to dry.”

“Thank you, Koji...”

They stayed like that, holding each other in the dark. Takuto’s around Shinomiya’s mid-torso as if trying to keep the archer within his hold, despite Shinomiya’s strong embrace around him.

...

“Shinomiya?”
No answer. He didn’t know what time it was.

“Are you asleep?”

The sounds of Shinomiya’s breathing and heartbeat loudest in the still night.

“Please don’t leave me, I don’t want to alone again.”



Chapter Text

He’d woken to an empty home. His mother must have gone out but he couldn’t find a note. He must have been waiting around absently all morning because he only noticed the time when Niwa sent him a message.

If not for that, he wouldn’t have noticed the message from his mother either.

 

I’m going out today, be good, see you later.

 

And now he was alone, in Shinomiya’s bed, but everything around smelled like Shinomiya and it was warmer than being alone in his room. After a few minutes he noticed that Shinomiya had set out his uniform for him, laid neatly over the back of his desk chair. He took several more minutes to climb out of bed and start to get dressed. There was a note sticking noticeably out of his shirt pocket.

I need to meet Itori early this morning,
sorry

I’ll look for you at breakfast


Takuto pulled his uniform on, thinking about how Shinomiya would fuss over him, smooth out any ruffles and brush any hair out of his face. He still thought of Shinomiya every time he wore his tie. He imagined those hands, careful and sure on his neck, brushing his collarbones and neatening his collar. He always messed up the tie by himself, he shoved it into his blazer pocket, not caring anymore.

                                                                                    ---

“That’s not much on your tray,” Shinomiya noted when he found Takuto at breakfast.

Takuto shrugged but didn’t protest when Shinomiya set a bowl of something still steaming in front of him. He didn’t taste it much but it seemed to please Shinomiya that he ate it.

 

“I’m thinking of asking Saionji to tutor me,” Shinomiya said, “just in a subject we share because our grades are covering the same topic right now.”

Takuto nodded. “You’re very smart,” he said, corners of his mouth hinting at a smile. “And humble too.”

“I’d rather take care of it all myself,” Shinomiya admitted, “but if I can get it out of the way it will give me more time next year.”

Silence sat between them for a bit before Shinomiya made a small noise of surprise at the hand suddenly holding his. Takuto’s long fingers pressed between his larger ones to clasp his hand and squeeze.

“I’m glad,” Takuto murmured.

“Everything should be better next year, that’s what we’ve been working so hard for,” Shinomiya said.

Takuto didn’t look up, only giving a faint nod in recognition.

                                                                                     ---

Takuto was surprised that Shinomiya hadn’t mentioned anything about his missing tie or tried to do anything about it. He was usually very observant when it came to his boyfriend. Takuto wondered if Shinomiya had noticed and perhaps simply given up, it must be tiresome to keep looking after little details like that.

 

“Iwai-senpai?”

Takuto blinked up at Naruse, “y-yeah?”

“Lunch is ending,” Naruse paused, “you haven’t moved.”

“O-oh, sorry.”

Naruse frowned, “are you alright?”

“Y-yeah, just thinking is all, sorry.”

“Are you finished?” Naruse asked.

“Huh?”

“Lunch,” Naruse elaborated, “are you finished?”

“Oh, yes.” Before Takuto could move Naruse had scooped up both of their trays, much to his shock. “N-Naruse! You don’t have to-”

“It’s fine,” Naruse said cheerily, “You look tired anyway.”

                                                                                     ---

“Is something wrong?”

Takuto sighed, “I’m fine Shinomiya, just tired.” (Wasn’t he always?)

Shinomiya came up behind him where he sat at his desk and draped his arms over the artist in a hug. “You’re working hard, my love.”

“It’s tiring, so you must have it worse,” Takuto said absently.

Shinomiya tilted his head to kiss Takuto’s cheek, not particularly unexpecting when Takuto touched his face to hold him there and slot their mouths together.  

“You’re too busy,” Takuto said, “the student council and dorm leader duties.”

“Helping the dorm leader is only grunt work right now, it’s not much,” Shinomiya said.

“You’re like a parent,” Takuto said, “the student council is a mess but you won’t leave them even if it’s exhausting.”

“Oh- Takuto, about that.”

Takuto’s eye widened expectantly.

“I’m sorry,” Shinomiya continued, “but I can’t leave them this year.”

Takuto was not someone who showed aggression really, but he stiffened and frowned at his lap.

“I’ll still be with you whenever I can,” Shinomiya said. “I promise.”

“All of you?” Takuto asked.

Shinomiya kissed the top of his head, “you can have whatever of me you like.”

Takuto looked up with sad, pleading eyes. “Stay tonight?”

“I-” Shinomiya hesitated but did his damndest not to break eye contact.

“Koji?”

His name from that mouth tore to shreds any will he might’ve had to say no.

“Yes- I’ll stay- tonight . I can’t stay in the morning, but I’ll be with you tonight.”

Takuto stood, he leaned his forehead against Shinomiya’s and his fingers played with either side of the archer’s shirt collar.

“Takuto.”

“Can I have you? Really?” Takuto breathed.

Shinomiya never had the desire to deny Takuto, even if he’d had the strength when necessary.

“Yes.”

“Good.” Takuto pecked his lips and breathed in the scent of Shinomiya around him. “I want you, so much.”

So selfish , Takuto thought to himself, when I know I’m not all here with him either .

They leaned into each other for a longer, fuller kiss, Takuto leading Shinomiya to the bed by his tie.

 

Takuto had once told Shinomiya, “ it feels safe under you .” When he needed the comfort he would pull the archer on top of him or find his way under Shinomiya, like that evening as Takuto pulled Shinomiya down.

“I’m out of...” Takuto started, “I don’t have...since before winter break when we last...sorry.”

“We can do whatever you want,” Shinomiya said reassuringly.

Takuto kissed him for it and pulled him down so that they could lay against each other.

“Like last time,” he said, “can we like last time, but I want to touch you too.”

“Sure,” was the last real word Shinomiya said for a while because both found their mouths occupied and thoughts dissipating into feelings. Takuto kissed Shinomiya’s neck and ground against him.

“Under-” Takuto panted, “wanna be under you.”

Shinomiya carefully rolled them over and propped himself up with one bent knee and hand pressed to the side of Takuto’s head, the other still cupping Takuto’s jaw. Takuto bit Shinomiya’s lower lip when one of the archer’s hands slid down and brushed the insides of his thighs through his pants. He moaned against Shinomiya when that hand stroked over his clothed crotch only to cup it and rub with a torturous softness.

It only took a moment and a sharp whine from Takuto for Shinomiya to move his hand under the fabric and make Takuto forget about everything else. Vaguely, Takuto recalled that he’d wanted to get into his boyfriend’s pants as well but he couldn’t focus. Just as he’d asked for, Shinomiya was making him unable to think, his head spun as Shinomiya kissed him dizzy and handled him like a durable treasure. Holding each other like this was the stuff of dreams, at very least, better than his frequent nightmares.

 

It almost could have been a dream. He awoke alone and recalled Shinomiya warning him but he couldn’t help but feel a little flutter when he saw that Shinomiya had (again) laid out his uniform for him.

Why can’t I feel this more? he thought. Why can’t I feel more, at least for him?

He needed that touch again, he needed another night like last night. He needed them to get so lost in each other that everything else vanished. His feelings were largely chilled and blurry, he wanted to beg for Shinomiya’s time and touch and taste.

                                                                                      ---

While Shinomiya was studying with Saionji, Takuto stumbled upon reviews of the artist’s Gotou’s work, Takuto’s own work. That man was such a fraud, flaunting his dishonesty.
And what does that make me? Takuto thought. He didn’t want to think, he found himself on heading to the archery range on autopilot, where Shinomiya and Itori were finishing up.

Itori sighed and looked from their guest back to Shinomiya, “go ahead, I can do the rest here,” he said, eying Takuto and his unhidden urgency.

Takuto nodded gratefully at the older archer, not even waiting to get to the dorm and pulling Shinomiya into the archery club room instead.

“Takuto what-”

Shinomiya didn’t get to finish his words or even thoughts because to Takuto was upon him, pinning him to the wall and kissing him with a fire that seared and startled the him. Shinomiya retained just enough coherency for just long enough to wonder if Takuto was acting out of loneliness, if he truly missed Shinomiya this much. The idea hit him without mercy and he sank deeper into their seemingly endless kiss.

---

The next time he painted for his father, Takuto hated himself. He hated himself more for seeking out Shinomiya just to ride him until the artist couldn’t see straight. He hated himself for cutting again when that wasn’t enough. He hated himself for using Shinomiya, for not loving him as he deserved, for not focusing on adoring his boyfriend the way Shinomiya adored him. He hated himself for knowing that Shinomiya obliged him every time he needed to pleasure his thoughts away because he wanted Takuto, not because he craved or needed it the same way Takuto did.

---

“Iwai-senpai, you seem kind of sad lately,” Naruse said. “Are you worried you won’t have Shinomiya-senpai for Valentine's day?”

He’s mine , Takuto told himself, Shinomiya is mine, he does want me .

“Senpai?”

Takuto should really thank Naruse. The boy had become his companion at lunch, not seeming to mind how Takuto had slipped away and rarely seemed all there, but Naruse remained happy to engage when he was.

“Aren’t I boring to be around?” Takuto blurted, slapping hands over his mouth a moment later.

“Not at all! You’re is kind and listen to me,” Naruse said. “You act like a friend does. I haven’t had many close friends for this long.”

Takuto looked up when he recognized the abnormal sadness in Naruse’s voice. “Naruse-kun.”

The familiar honorific gave him Naruse’s full attention.
“Naruse, you are not alone.”

Naruse grabbed one of Takuto’s hands in both of his own. “Thank you, senpai.”

Takuto resisted to urge to pull his hand away, this was just how Naruse was; like a large puppy who didn’t know better than to slobber to show fondness. He meant very well.

“Senpai,” Naruse said.

“Yeah?”

“If you’re ever feeling sad, I’ll listen to you, so depend on me as a friend.”

Takuto sighed but let his hand relax in Naruse’s, no use fighting him, was there?
“Thank you, Naruse.”

                                                                                     ---

“More chocolates for you, Kaoru.”

Shinomiya and Saionji looked up from their papers to see Shichijo holding a little red bag. Saionji sighed and rolled his eyes.

“Getting valentines chocolate, even a few days early,” Shinomiya mused.

“Kaoru is very popular,” Shichijo said, “most people don’t even know that Valentine’s is his birthday.”

Saionji shrugged, “that’s not important.”

“Sure it is,” Shinomiya said warmly, “happy almost birthday.”

“And Shinomiya-san?” Shichijo said, “any Valentine’s plans yourself?”

Omi ,” Saionji scolded.

“Heh,” Shinomiya sighed, “I’ll probably be working.”

                                                                                     ---

“Would you like to stay with me Valentine’s night?” Shinomiya proposed.

Takuto smiled down at his breakfast tray and nodded.

“I’m sorry we can’t do anything else,” he said, voice still quiet.

Takuto shook his head, “you’re busy.”

Shinomiya’s hand covered his and Takuto thought about how warm it could be and how good it felt on his skin. “It’s okay,” Takuto added, “I only want you.”

 

He still hadn’t managed to look up from the table.

                                                                                     ---

“Oi- Shinomiya, ” Itori called.

“Yes?”

Itori tossed a small wrapped package at him. “Found that in the club room, must be from one of the first years or something.”

Shinomiya recognized the package as chocolates, looking at them honestly surprised.

“What? No one given you chocolates before?” Itori asked.

“Er- Hanabusa last year,” Shinomiya said.

Itori shrugged. “Yeah, it’s different at a boys school I guess. Maybe he was too shy to give it to you himself. Some first years are like that.”

“How do you know it’s a first year?” Shinomiya asked.

Itori shrugged, “everyone else has seen you and your shadow by now, probably the first years too..”

“My shadow?”

“Yeah, Iwai. He doesn’t come around so much anymore so maybe someone who wasn’t in the club last year wouldn’t know.”

Shinomiya nearly scoffed. “It’s probably just a friendship thing or-”

“Shinomiya,” Itori interrupted, “you took all last year to see how Iwai looks at you, you still wouldn’t know if someone else does, have you seen the first years? It’s only gonna get worse next year man.”

“That’s silly,” Shinomiya answered.

“Shinomiya, boys aren’t my type, but even admiration doesn’t make someone look at you like Iwai.” Itori paused again in thought before adding; “Not that it matters, I guess, Iwai is the only one you see.”

Shinomiya couldn’t help but blush, “he is.”

                                                                                     ---

“Wh-what’s this?” Takuto said, sliding into his boyfriend’s candle and lamp-lit room. He’d spent the day struggling to keep up with work, feeling alone without Shinomiya and craving his boyfriend’s strong hands all over him. He felt out of place in the makeshift setting, pajama clad while Shinomiya was still in his uniform pants and shirt. Though without his tie and blazer and shirt unbuttoned to show his collar, Shinomiya had managed to set a seductive mood in the room dim enough for them both to forget it was a living space full of academic paraphernalia.  

“It’s valentines,” Shinomiya answered simply.

Takuto took in the dim room, “i-it’s-”

“Is it too much?” Shinomiya asked.

“N-no, it’s, um, romantic.”

Shinomiya let out a heavy breath, “I’m so relieved. I hoped you would like it. I know we haven’t been very romantic lately, and I’m sorry, I know it’s my fault being so busy but-”

“It’s more romantic than anything I thought of,” Takuto said meekly. He reached into his pocket and dropped a sealed condom onto Shinomiya’s desk, near a candle holder. “It’s stupid,” he said, biting his lip. “It’s stupid all I can come up with is how much I need you to touch me, hold me, I miss you and I can’t...I’m not strong like you, Shinomiya, I’m selfish.”

“Come here,” Shinomiya beckoned.

It didn’t sound like a command, but it was also not something Takuto wanted to refuse.

“Takuto,” Shinomiya nudged Takuto’s chin to look at him. “You are beautiful. You are kind. You are more than I could ask for and you stay and love me despite how much I am not there for you.”

“You’re always-” Takuto started to say, “you’re...too good for me, I’m not beautiful like you think, I’m just... ”

“You are ,” Shinomiya insisted. “You must truly have no idea if you can say that.”

“B-but you haven’t even seen me lately- I mean, my clothes- I-”

Shinomiya kissed him softly, briefly. Then his nose, his cheek and finally his forehead and lingered there. “Even if I couldn’t see,” Shinomiya said, “you would still be the most beautiful.”

“You probably are blind,” Takuto murmured, resting his head against Shinomiya’s shoulder.

“That would be amazing wouldn’t it,” Shinomiya said with a laugh in his tone.

“Hmm?”

“A nationally ranking junior archer, and blind at that.”

Takuto let out a breath of a laugh.

“Putting that aside,” Shinomiya said, “we can do whatever you want tonight.”

“I- I want...” Takuto hesitated, “I want to be with you, always.” He paused, brow furrowed and bit his lip, “Shinomiya...where do you go early in the morning?”

“Hmm? Early?” Shinomiya echoed. “Well I’ve started running a little before dawn, remember? Because it’s gotten too busy to exercise much outside of archery and the cardiovascular work helps me focus during the day.”

Takuto’s mouth unfolded into a rare brave grin. “ You could come to me to get your heartrate up,” he teased.

Shinomiya couldn’t help it then, he allowed himself a real laugh. “At five in the morning?”

“It could be a nice way to wake up,” Takuto answered.

“You don’t like to get up.”

“Maybe it would motivate me.”

Shinomiya was laughing as they kissed, holding Takuto close to him with one arm and framing his face with the other.

“I love you, Takuto. Oh- you were starting to say what you wanted, tell me.”

“O-oh, I...” Takuto faltered, “I- I was...oh, th-that it’s not fair. Shinomiya spoils me so much and even did this and I...I wanna do what Shinomiya wants tonight.”

“Well,” Shinomiya grinned, “I suppose I can be extra selfish for tonight.”

“What do you want?” Takuto prompted.

Shinomiya kissed him right below the ear, reminding Takuto that it was one of his weaker spots, not the artist’s. His mind played back the sound of Shinomiya’s moans when his mouth was on the archer’s neck.

“I’d like to make love to you and kiss you all over,” he purred, “and hold and caress you as we lay tangled together afterwards.” He moved back so that they could look at each other, “but first, assuming you’ve never been to a formal dance, I want to stay here for a bit and pretend I could take you out somewhere, or go somewhere private.”

“Y-you dance?” Takuto asked as Shinomiya scooped one of his hands into the archer’s own.

“Only a little, some in elementary and middle school- but I know enough to sway awkwardly and I’m mad enough about you not to care that’s all it is.”

“I-I can’t d-dance at-at all,” Takuto stuttered.

“It doesn’t matter,” Shinomiya said reassuringly, “just lean against me.”

So Takuto did just that and left everything to Shinomiya. As always, he berated himself. But as they swayed somewhat and Shinomiya hummed soothingly and held onto him, he did find that he’d stopped caring about his inability to dance. It felt as close to right as he had in a while, leaning against Shinomiya, embracing and taking comfort in his hold, his promises, his love.

“Hey Shinomiya?”

“Hmm?”

“I like your plan for tonight.”

                                                                                     ---

You are beautiful...so beautiful.

There was barely any light to see by, just candles on his desk, but the look in Takuto’s eyes and reflection of his own love in them scorched him in all the best ways. It was the first time Takuto had taken off his shirt around him in a few months. He’d noticed the feelings of ridges under his finger’s when they slid over Takuto’s arms and if he thought back on it, when he’d kissed one, Takuto draped them around the back of his neck to pull him in for a different kiss.


He didn’t have to see Takuto to tell him he was beautiful. He made out the light in his artist’s eyes and listened to his voice and body as they fell into a mostly familiar harmony. He missed it, missed Takuto, he’d been missing so much. The realization hurt enough when they had that fire to distract and allay them, but it slapped him hard when he awoke (just barely later than he’d intended) and realized that the ridges on Takuto’s arms were not scars but fresher cuts. He should have known. He’d looked at the beautiful boy so sadly, Takuto looked peaceful in his sleep and he hadn’t seemed to have bad dreams overnight. Shinomiya had stroked away hair fallen over his face and kissed his forehead and shoulder and wrist. He’d been so hesitant to leave. He clearly had missed important things going on with Takuto and couldn’t help but wonder; What am I still missing ?

Chapter Text

“Niwa?”

The King grinned, “what? Are you so surprised to see me, Iwai?”

Takuto flushed. “W-well in the library, studying...I-I mean you don’t- Niwa-”

“It’s okay, I was teasing,” Niwa said. “I do have exams too y’know.”

“Oh- s-sorry to bother you,” Takuto said flusteredly.

“You’re not a bother,” Niwa said quickly. “Here-” he pulled out the chair next to him, “sit.”

“Is that really okay?” Takuto asked.

“Yeah,” Niwa answered, “sit.”

“That looks like a lot of work,” Takuto said quietly.

Niwa shrugged, “lots of notes, but once I think stuff out and write it I tend to remember pretty well, so it’s not so bad.”

 

“I still hate it,” Takuto said, mostly to himself. “It takes all of Shinomiya’s time.” He clapped a hand over his mouth when he realized he’d spoken aloud.

“Are you uh, also having trouble...with work?” Niwa asked.

Takuto sighed, “I’m not really the smartest.”

Niwa disagreed, “sure you are, just different smarts. I could tutor you, if you want?”

“I- that’s too much work for you Niwa. I’m already struggling so-”

“All the more reason,” Niwa said. “If you’re struggling, friends should help. I don’t want you to get left behind and repeat a year without me.”

“Thanks,” Takuto whispered.

He felt Niwa’s arm over his shoulder, “here, you can lean on me, if that’s okay,” the King said.

Takuto closed his eyes and leaned against his friend’s shoulder.

“Remember to breathe,” Niwa added. “Hard stuff is harder when you forget to breathe.”

 

“How do you do it?” Takuto asked. “Running a school, taking care of everyone, getting good grades, being a good friend...”

“Oh you know,” Niwa shrugged, “I dump it all on Hide.”

The both snickered at that.

“And he’s always after my ass for it. Oh except the last part I guess, I mean, studying is easy enough but I wouldn’t give up being your friend and definitely not to Hide.”

Takuto flushed, he was certain that his whole face was pink, “I- N-Niwa...” he managed.

They stared at each other for a long moment before Takuto remembered something. “Oh! That’s right, Niwa, you’re taking mostly Hard and Ultimate classes, right?”

“Yeah,“ Niwa said, “it’s a pain but it’ll free up a lot of time next year.”

Takuto smiled sadly, “Shinomiya said the same thing, Saionji too I think.”

“Yeah, Kaoru-chan is probably a genius,” Niwa said. “He’s in all Ultimate classes and I dunno how he gets all that work done on time but damn, it’d be a shame if he graduated too early though.”

“You, um, like Saionji a lot?”

“Uh- well he’s...he’s probably smarter than me and he’s not weak despite his looks.”

Takuto frowned, “what do you mean?”
“Uh,” Niwa managed, rare to falter. “He’s pretty and has long hair, so he looks like a girl.” Niwa knew he should stop talking, determined to at least shove his foot no further in his mouth when Takuto pulled a lock of his own long hair and directed his frown at it.

“Nevermind, it’s not long hair or anything, he doesn’t look weak or whatever,” Niwa tried to backtrack.

“What makes someone weak?”

Well, Niwa sure wasn’t expecting that question.

“Uh...” Niwa tried to make himself think before speaking this time. “He could probably actually break my fingers if he tried.”

Takuto’s eyes widened, “I don’t think I could break your anything. I wouldn’t want to.”

“Big difference between you two,” Niwa shrugged.

                                                                                     ---

Takuto did truly hate painting like this. He couldn’t feel like an artist and his paintings didn’t feel like art. His father didn’t seem to care, and it wasn’t as if his mother cared about much more than that. But every time he tried to walk away, tried to talk himself into standing up to his parents, he saw his mother’s broken heart in her blackened eyes, the image had seared itself into his own mind’s eye. When they’d speak or message to coordinate seeing each other, he longed to tell his mother “I’m done” but never did. It’s like he was half frozen, frozen and far too easy to shatter.

 

“Thanks for meeting me today,” Takuto said.

Niwa grinned back at him, “well duh, I said I would.”

“Bell Liberty’s Student Council President must be very busy though,” Takuto sighed.

“Ugh, stop reminding me, I just wanna be here with a friend.”

“Helping a friend,” Takuto said.

Niwa couldn’t help but fixate on that bashful smile, he’d probably been staring too long.

“Niwa? Is something wrong?”

“Nah, you’re just bein’ cute,” Niwa said nonchalantly.

Yet they both halted for a long moment.

“I’m going to look something up for art club,” Takuto said finally.

“See ya soon?” Niwa asked.

Takuto managed to smile and nod (both clumsily) before wandering off to the computers.

 

Gotou wins award ...his poor excuse for a father. What had that man “accomplished” this time? He stopped himself, almost. He stopped himself from clicking the link and learning what that man had been up to and rile himself up right there in the library. He could ignore it, he could, he would.

                                                                                     ---

“It’s almost March,” Shinomiya said a few mornings later. He laid his hand over Takuto’s, “what do you want to do for your birthday?”

“It’s okay, Shinomiya’s really busy,” Takuto said.

Shinomiya squeezed his hand, “I was thinking,” his voice dropped just enough above a whisper so that Takuto could make out each word. “I could probably plan my work to have your birthday night free. We could spend it together, I could help you with studying or something?”

“Just homework?” Takuto asked, a slight tease in his voice.

“Well,” Shinomiya purred, “depending on just how swamped and overwhelmed with work we are, may we’ll have some time and energy for something more fun.”

The way he purred was new and uncommon and Takuto craved it. The artist couldn’t help but smile back shyly. “I’d love that.”

 

If he could focus on Shinomiya’s touch, remind himself that it wasn’t Shinomiya slipping away from him , then maybe it could keep his mind off of Gotou’s likely stolen achievement. Until it showed up in the art room a few days later. The seniors were passing around an art magazine, one he didn’t pay much attention to until one of them handed it to him directly with a: “This style looks a little like yours.”

Takuto’s insides clenched. “C-can I take it with m-me?” he stuttered.

He was technically the art club’s president, the other members treated him well, gave him plenty of space, but everyone knew Takuto was “president” in name only. They needed his name and the achievements under it, at least what he’d done in his own name was significant enough.

 

Takuto almost wished he had Shinomiya’s hand to hold as he stared at the magazine. Or even Niwa’s. This was a bad idea, he knew, but it wasn’t going to go away and he knew that too. Gotou had been making a name for himself with work he’d stolen and Takuto wanted to rip every canvas he passed on for Gotou’s next signature. He knew he was spiraling, he knew it was bad, but his hands still clenched the magazine in them and shook as they turned pages. He didn’t knew if he was numb or fuming. Or maybe both, the fumes from friction rather than loud rage.
He didn’t do loud, maybe that’s why his cries for help evaporated but his crisis never did. He felt like ice, like nothing resonated within him from outside touches. He saw himself cracking in his mind’s eye, a scene of himself with marble and ceramic like fractures throughout his skin and hands of light touching him everywhere and turning the cracks to fissures. Maybe this light could fix him, keep holding him if he could let go of how badly he needed to get away. He wasn’t fit for such love, ugly and broken and cut up and he knew it because as he fell away from those hands they dimmed in tandem until neither they nor he were there.

 

He opened his eyes. My arm , he thought, I’ll have to wrap those up again . There was nothing poetic or beautiful about it, really, it was painful and gross, he’d cut at scabbing and and unhealed skin in such unsightly ways. It was deeper than he’d realized and stung deeper than he could recall as he washed his arm off. When it still bled after a moment he sighed deeply, shaking with the rage he’d awakened. Shaking still he held a shirt to it, one forgotten in the corner of the bathroom not caring that it was unsanitary.

Shinomiya would scold me , he thought, laughing humorlessly to himself. Takuto, you should take better care of yourself , he imagined Shinomiya saying. You are precious. He could just hear the archer’s heartbroken sigh, feel himself in that loving embrace. I want to believe that Shinomiya, the way you do .

                                                                                   ---

“Takuto!”

Takuto was quick to answer the door and find Shinomiya standing there in a near panic.

“Shinomiya?”

The archer looked him over, he was a vision of exhaustion with charcoal smears on his face and hands and jeans and a school shirt that looked like he’d worn them for the entire day that Shinomiya hadn’t seen him.

“I was so worried,” Shinomiya said, grabbing his boyfriend in a hug. “Please stop,” he said. “Please stop disappearing and scaring me.”

“I’m sorry, Shinomiya.”

“No, no I’m sorry,” Shinomiya said. “I- I needed to tell you that I can’t, tomorrow night, I can’t stay, I’m so sorry. I wanted to make your birthday perfect but maybe this weekend? We could spend it together?”

Takuto nodded but didn’t hug him back.

“What happened?” Shinomiya asked, more calm now, “are you alright?”

Takuto gave him a long blink, “yeah,” he said, sounding so exhausted it was toneless, “fine.”

“You’re not,” Shinomiya said, he crushed Takuto against himself again but let go when the artist winced.

“It’s fine,” Takuto said before Shinomiya could ask, “I had a bad day is all. Can we talk tomorrow?”

Shinomiya looked behind him and saw a pile of small canvases slashed with charcoal and the same area littered with pieces of it.

“Oh-” Takuto followed Shinomiya’s line of sight. “I took it out on some canvas, it helps.”

“I- yeah, we can talk in the morning, alright?” Shinomiya said, feeling awkward.

Takuto nodded blankly. “Yeah, sorry.”

 

He slept for most of his birthday. He went to his classes, worked through meals, skipped art club that afternoon and slept. Everything felt heavy. In the end, he and Shinomiya had decided to be together for the weekend, whatever they would be doing. He had seen and waved to Niwa that morning at breakfast, having no energy for anything else, he didn’t even remember what happened during his classes, Shinomiya had looked at him worriedly probably the whole time they sat together. He didn’t know if he felt bad, just numb. There was ice around him but he wouldn’t pull Shinomiya close enough to get warm for fear of finding it useless. It was too scary an idea that Shinomiya wasn’t enough and thus he didn’t dare to test it.

It wasn’t until Friday that they really spoke. They retreated to the archer’s room that evening after dinner. Shinomiya took off his shoes before he slouched onto his bed and suddenly Takuto saw something he hadn’t before. Shinomiya did not slouch, he held himself proudly, but here, in the privacy of his own room and only his beloved to see him, he looked so different. He looked exhausted and haggard in ways that even his overloaded schedule hadn’t left him before.

 

“I’m sorry, Takuto.”   

 

Takuto had never heard Shinomiya sound so exhausted and...afraid? He knelt on the floor before Shinomiya and tried to look up into his face but the archer’s hands lay in the way, his elbows propped on his knees as he sat bent over.

“W-why?” Takuto asked, trying to search for the archer’s face with his own hands.

Shinomiya tilted his head up and reached for the artist. He pulled Takuto to him and hugged his midsection.

“Scoot back,” Takuto instructed. He waited for Shinomiya to obey before climbing onto his lap. Again Shinomiya hugged him and leaned his head on Takuto’s shoulder.

 

“I’m sorry,” he repeated, “I haven’t been there. I’ve been too busy but I’m still...I need you.”

“You’ve been trying to make more time for next year, right?” Takuto answered. “Getting extra class credits out of the way.”

“It could be worse next year...it would all be for nothing,” Shinomiya groaned. He tightened his grip around Takuto, “I- I know you’re busy, but, but please, please stay like this for a bit.”

Something in Takuto shook but didn’t radiate the way it should have, he hugged Shinomiya back. “It’s okay,” he said, “you let me be selfish all the time. It’s okay to let go.” Who am I to tell him to let go when I can’t do anything for myself ? the voice in his head taunted.

“It’s Ryou.”

A chill ran through Takuto, he could never compete with Shinomiya’s precious baby brother, could he? Stop that ! he scolded himself, he needs you! Just like you always need him !

“He had some sort of heart attack they think, he’s stable but...I...I’m going home once I finish exams. There’s a lot of extra work preparing for that too.”

 

Waves of shock, fear, adoration and love crashed against a wall of numbness inside of Takuto. Neither seemed to be winning or getting anywhere. Shinomiya’s state looked like he was collapsing into himself and was barely dragging along. His voice shook in a way Takuto recognized as close to tears but unable to expel them.

“Takuto,” Shinomiya said.

“Yes?”

“Can I ask...can I be a little more selfish?”

“Yes.”

Shinomiya was silent for a long moment, he didn’t speak, he didn’t move and Takuto cold hear and feel only Shinomiya’s own breathing against him.

“Would you hold me, please? The way I hold you when we sleep?”

“Yes.”

Shinomiya followed Takuto down and for once, maybe twice and lay down to cry in his arms.

                                                                                   ---

It was disgusting, Takuto wanted to vomit. There was something very wrong with him and a determination screamed just enough inside of himself to try something, anything so that he wouldn’t continue to feel frozen, feel only empty like he had when he held the boy he was in love with and caressed him while he cried out of fear. Shinomiya had done so much for him, felt so much for him and loved him more than Takuto could understand. He missed it. He missed the way they looked at each other and they way they yearned to touch and hold each other. He missed the calm it gave him to fall asleep in his lover’s arms and wake to the same person looking at him as if he were everything. He wanted to be everything again

                                                                                   ---

Hot tears streaked down his face and singed when they touched gashes he was reopening on his arm. It hurt, it hurt . Good . He needed to feel, even if he were a ghost of an artist, without Shinomiya he felt like nothing. That couldn’t be alright...but what else was there? Who else would love him like that. You don’t even deserve him, he needs better, he deserves better . The ugly voice of doubt was very certain of this, very sure of itself. He didn’t know how long it had been or what he’d done, only that he bled still by the time he’d exhausted himself crying. Maybe if he closed his eyes it would stop on its own, maybe everything would be fine.

Fine because he loves me...fine because Mama can do better...because ... Shinomiya kept finding him like that, or Niwa, or both. That was cruel of him, doing that to them. He shouldn’t pass out and expect them to clean it up again.

I need you .”

Hmm, I need you too, Koji .

He couldn’t let the people he cared about worry about him again, he’d have to get up and deal with it himself.

                                                                                   ---

As a school medic, Matsuoka Jin prided himself in staying sane despite the regular antics of high school boys and his job dealing with the physical aftermath. He had seen boys hurt themselves over dumb stunts like makeshift obstacle courses, hurt each other over physical arguments or complete lack of communication and education about bodies, he’d seen students hurt themselves by accident or overstress or otherwise...but he had to admit it had taken all of his training and experience to keep him professional when a second year with a history of self-harm showed up, bleeding through the cloth wrapped around his arm.

 

“Matsuoka-sensei,” Takuto said, “I...I need help.”

                                                                                   ---

“You need to go to a hospital.”

“I know.”

“And we need to call your...mother.”

“I know.”

“I have some connections that might be better than just any hospital though, let me see what I can do.”

“Thank you, Sensei.”

                                                                                   ---

“You’re going to need parental consent because you’re still a minor,” Matsuoka said.

“H-huh? Oh, good morning Matsuoka-Sensei.”

“Oh- right, sorry, I was up late so I’m not thinking about pleasantries,” Matsuoka said sincerely. “I think I found somewhere you can see someone who knows more than I do about what you may need. It’s a normal hospital, you would be a normal patient, but there are some people there who may be more helpful than me.”

Takuto nodded numbly.

“Iwai-kun, I will be here too if you ever feel like talking or if you need something.”

“Sensei has done a lot already, thank you.”

Matsuoka tried not to frown, “Iwai-kun, this is serious. For teachers, for doctors, you aren’t hitting a limit on what we do if a student needs us.”

It was the first hint of a smile Takuto had managed in days, “thank you, Sensei.”

                                                                                   ---

Niwa didn’t say anything, he walked in silence by Takuto’s side until they reached the artist’s room.

“I was going to spend the weekend with Shinomiya..” Takuto said absently.

“I know.”

“How can I face him now?”

“Iwai...”

Niwa sat on the bed and motioned for Takuto to sit beside him. When he did Niwa carefully embraced him. “It’s okay Iwai,” he said, “you can cry.”

Takuto shook his head but didn’t move, he let Niwa hold him like that, let himself be held like that. Would Shinomiya ever hold him again? Hadn’t he just failed so miserably from being so weak? He’s going to be so angry and disappointed , he couldn’t help but think.

“I don’t get it,” Niwa said, “and Shinomiya probably doesn’t either, but we care about you.”

“I don’t deserve people like Niwa and Naruse and Shinomiya.”

“Yeah you do.”



Chapter Text

Msg from Iwai Takuto: I know I said I’m okay, I’m not. I’m so sorry for being weak and worrying you.

Msg from Iwai Takuto : Can we talk in the infirmary? Sorry to ruin our weekend.

Msg from Iwai Takuto : My mom is coming but I want to see you first.

 

Takuto had expected Shinomiya to be upset but he wished Shinomiya would just hit him or abandon him altogether instead of looking so hurt and distraught. Neither of them could speak for a while, they sat together holding hands both unable to give words to their own distress. They lay on Takuto’s infirmary bed, Shinomiya lay on his side, one arm under Takuto’s head and the other slung across his midsection.

“You’re so much better than this,” Shinomiya said finally.

Takuto sighed, “I’m not,” but didn’t think he had anything in him to argue.

“You don’t have to do this to yourself.”

 

“I can’t feel,” Takuto said after another long pause. “I can’t feel what I need to.”

Shinomiya propped himself up, “what are you talking about?”

Takuto’s struggle for words played out on his face. “My mom...um...when I was hurting and it got to be too much, I just wanted it to stop, I wanted to not feel it. But then I couldn’t feel anything and Shinomiya, I missed you. I wanted to feel you but I...I was too scared and I couldn’t handle the other things when I felt them.”

“I don’t understand,” Shinomiya said, “I don’t know what you mean. Don’t you know you’re good enough as you are?”

“I’m not, Shinomiya,” Takuto said, his voice wavered, he hated being so emotional, such a crybaby. “I’m not enough and I’m not what you deserve, you deserve better.”

“How can you say that?!” Shinomiya exclaimed.

“It’s true.”

“No it’s not, you-”

“Shinomiya, when I held you, when you needed me, I should have felt like it was important, I should have felt more, something. But I only knew I love you, I didn’t feel anything. I did what you asked but hate myself because...it, I should have felt in love with you, I should have been able to feel the way you look at me. I just want to feel something.”

 

Shinomiya sat up all the way, “Takuto...” he sounded like he’d been on the receiving end of a nasty punch, shock in every molecule of the artist’s name. “You...don’t...love me?”

Takuto went wide eyed, but his voice stayed even.
“That’s not it. I love you, I do but I’m not here Shinomiya. I love you but I’m not here to be with you...a-and I-I need, I n-need, I th-think I nee- need help,” he choked as he started to lose his words to sobs.

 

“Why can’t you stop ?” Shinomiya asked, “why can’t you stop hurting yourself?”

Takuto looked like he’d been slapped, his already teary eyes went still for just a moment as they continued to leak. They were both silent again, Shinomiya’s hands hands shook with the adrenaline as did Takuto’s own, fisted in his blanket.

“It’s more than...than...that,” Takuto said quietly.

He leaned to dig through a bag by the side of the bed, finally handing Shinomiya the magazine, folded at the page with his painting under Gotou’s name. He didn’t expect Shinomiya to understand, but it didn’t stop him from hoping with all his might.

“I can’t be with you in a way that’s good enough as a lover,” Takuto said steadily. “I’m so in love with you but I can’t feel like I need to because I needed it all to stop. But I wanted you back, Shinomiya, I wanted to feel even if all I could feel was physical pain. But I didn’t want to feel what painting did to me.”

Shinomiya looked entirely confused, “why would paint-”

“My son is NOT crazy!”

Both boys turned to the doorway, the voice had come from the hall outside of the infirmary.

“That painting,” Takuto said, finger on the image in the magazine, “it’s about you.”

                                                                                   

“Takuto why?!” his mother was a flurry of irritation rather than concern.

Takuto sat up more and by habit scooted closer to Shinomiya for comfort.

“Sensei, may I have a moment with my son?”

Matsuoka’s brows raised, “we have some important matters to discuss, Iwai-san,” he said.

“We need to speak as family,” she replied, forcing a smile. “Takuto, you know we do,” she added, eyes driving into him.

“J-just for a-a min-” he started to say but his words halted as soon as Shinomiya’s hand gripped his and gently squeezed for reassurance.

“I’ll be here, Sensei,” Shinomiya said.

“If that’s alright with Iwai-kun and Iwai-san,” Matsuoka said cautiously.

“It’s- it’s okay,” Takuto said, trying to be brave, “with Koji.”

“You really have taken care of my son,” Takuto’s mother said, “I’m sorry he’s so difficult, he’s had it rough but he likes to be dramatic too. Even if he’s a burden, thank you for looking after him.”

“He’s no burden,” Shinomiya replied cooly.  

“Even when he breaks promises? Shinomiya-kun, you must be so patient.”

 

“Perfect even.”

Both Takuto’s mother and Shinomiya looked at the shy artist.

“Do you follow him around like a puppy?” his mother scoffed. “Don’t bother others so much, you’re a man now, you can handle yourself alone.”

Shinomiya watched Takuto stared into his lap, unable to look up at her. His brain started ticking about the whirlwind that had been the last few days.

 

“Takuto you don’t need some place like that, imagine what would happen, what people would say about you. You couldn’t become a famous artist like that.”

“I couldn’t paint either,” Takuto said sounding firmer despite not looking up.

“Exactly, what would you do then?” she said.

“What would you do?” Takuto said, looking up at her, “what about that man ? Would he understand that maybe I’m sick-”

“You are not ,” she spat, “you need to grow up and stop behaving like an ungrateful child.”

“Painting meant something to me!” Takuto exclaimed.

Shinomiya looked dumbfounded, it was rare for Takuto to raise his voice, especially without crying.

“He took that from me! I don’t want him or anything from him, I want to create for myself! I want to feel the things I have to block out so that it doesn’t kill me...” his voice quieted again but didn’t shake this time. “I don’t want to live like that, Mama. I don’t want to be like that.”

 

“You think some place like that is going to fix you?” she hissed back, “you’re not broken, you’re childish. No contact for two weeks? That’s not sick, that’s lazy and selfish.”

“Well maybe if I got help I’d be able to paint,” he said.

“I don’t think Takuto has what he needs all the time,” Shinomiya said, “here. At the very least, maybe he could at least learn what he needs or how to make do without interference if he saw someone. Maybe he will learn that he has everything he needs.”

 

Takuto’s mother looked at the archer, mulling over his words.

“M-mama?” Takuto said hesitantly, how she treated him was at least bearable, but he would die of shame if she lashed out at Shinomiya.

“You may not know us ,” she said, “but you seem to be close to my son. Is that how you get a dreamer out of the clouds?”

“Sometimes seeing that things aren’t what we expect make us realize the truth,” Shinomiya answered.

“I guess you’ve got a point there,” she said. “I’ll think it over and talk to the Sensei.”

“Thank you Mama.”

She looked at her son as if she were both pitying and done with him, “the things I do for you,” she sighed, “hell, the things I let you do.”

 

As soon as she had left the room Shinomiya carefully pulled Takuto into him. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I still don’t get it, I don’t, but your home with her is obviously not where you need to be.”

“I don’t want to be without you, Shinomiya,” Takuto said, “I- I don’t-”

“I know.”

“I do love you, Shinomiya.”

“I love you too, Takuto. Even if we aren’t boyfriends, I will be here for you. You will always have me.”

“Shinomiya?”

“Yes?”

“You’re...you have to leave soon, don’t you? To see Ryou?”

“I do.”

“Can...can I kiss you goodbye first?”

“Takuto...I- yes. Yes .”

 

They moved slowly, slanting their lips together, adjusting when they needed to. They kissed slowly too, holding each other’s faces, fingers brushing into each others hair. It was not a heated kiss, it hurt and felt  sad, Shinomiya clenched all of the muscles he could give any focus to in order to hold himself back and Takuto began to cry again, but it was warm. They poured into each other a warmth that neither expected and broke it only to hold each other close until they heard footsteps approaching.

 

“Sensei says you should see a bigger clinic with more resources to check out your stitches,” his mother said without greeting. “So we’re making an appointment for that first.”

“O-oh,” Takuto said.

“Iwai-kun, you know you have us here along with your mother if you need anything,” Matsuoka said.

                                                                                   ---

“We’re both going to miss graduation, aren’t we?” Takuto said that evening.

“Most likely,” Shinomiya said.

“Thanks for staying with me all day...and holding me even though-”

“It’s okay. I’m glad Niwa said he would visit you  if you wanted, so you won’t be alone.”

“I’ll miss you.”

“We could start over in the next year if you wanted.”

“No, I have to...I can’t erase anything, I have to get better.”

“I love you, Takuto...oh, sorry, I mean-”

“I love you too, Koji.”

“Are you going to call me that now?”

Another silent minute passed.

“I don’t know if I can.”

“Alright, I can wait.”

“Don’t wait for me too long, don’t pass up something better.”

“No one is better than you, Takuto.”

Takuto hesitated and time seemed to stretch seconds into hours before either spoke again.

“Thank you, Shinomiya, for what you said to my mom.”

Shinomiya kissed his forehead, causing him to squirm away a bit.

“Sorry, I won’t do that.”

“It’s okay, I just don’t...I don’t want to confuse...”

“Alright, you can do what you want when you’re ready.”

“I meant that,” Takuto said, “what I said, that Shinomiya is perfect.”

“No one is perfect,”

“Then you’re close.”

                                                                                   ---

Shinomiya’s brain was still ticking as he waited in the airport.

That painting ” hands of light encasing hands of fractured stone, “ it’s about you.

He tried to remember what else Takuto had said, he’d cried, he wanted to create for himself . Was he not?

Shinomiya looked up the artist Gotou, scrolling through images of paintings in recent exhibits and couldn’t help but sense something familiar about them.

 

“What are you drawing?”

“Shinomiya!”

 

Takuto had jolted, startled and covered his sketch.

 

“Sorry,” Shinomiya said. “I thought it looked a bit like me.”

Takuto blushed as if he’d been caught in headlights. “It...it is. It’s about how Shinomiya is the first thing I see so...so it’s like his eyes are the dawn.”

 

In the end he’d named the sketch “Dawn in His Eyes.”

 

A deep violet eye reflecting a sky of light glowing goldens and orange with creeping violet and other shades of darker purple and blues was the piece that literally caught Shinomiya’s eye. It was the sketch he’d seen in Takuto’s book. It was his eye. Shinomiya didn’t know Takuto had turned it into a painting, though this one was named “Twilight in Your Eyes.”

 

“Takuto you looked exhausted, hard day?”

His artist had stared into his eyes for longer than usual, his own painted with something akin to pain or maybe shame.

“No one deserves you,” he said. “No one will really understand how stunning Shinomiya is.”

                                                                                   ---

“Takuto, do you store your paintings somewhere? You seem to have gotten interested in painting but I suppose I thought you’d keep them.”

 

“I submit a lot I guess, I don’t expect stuff back.”

                                                                                   ---

I want to create for myself...

That painting...it’s about you.

 

Shinomiya put his phone away once he reached the hospital, eager to see his family again and give them his full attention...as best he could. His head was spinning, he couldn’t help wondering about Bell Liberty, the Student Council and its much ado about everything they hadn’t finished, Itori having to balance all of his senior entrance exam and taking care of the archery club without Shinomiya, and Takuto. He missed Takuto.

 

He needed Takuto but steeled himself to be the support Ryou would need.

                                                                                   ---

“I thought I told you to stay out of trouble while I was at school,” he teased.

 

It took him not a full second to realize he should have chosen different first words. Ryou lay slumped in his bed, oxygen cannula around his face, a tether to the dispenser on the wall behind the bed. The same terrifying lack of light had claimed his eyes but he fought to look his big brother in the face.

“Sorry Nii-chan. I should’ve been more careful.”

“No- no! Ryou, sorry, that was careless of me to say,” Shinomiya apologized. “Ryou-chan works very hard, this is not your fault at all. Even now you’re working hard with physical therapy and taking your medications, aren’t you?”

Ryou gave him a small smile, “yeah, I do, I’m good about the rules.”

“Ryou-chan is stronger than us all,” Shinomiya praised.

“I missed you,” Ryou said as Shinomiya sat down on the end of his bed.

 

I’ll miss you ,” Takuto’s voice echoed in his head.

“They started talking to me about a transplant,” Ryou said.

“Are- are you sure?” Shinomiya asked, “that’s a lot of stress for someone so young.”

“We’re talking about it,” Ryou repeated. “As a family.”

Shinomiya took one of Ryou’s hands in his, “I’m here for you, Ryou-chan, never give up.”

“Nii-chan, will you make sure to take care of Natsu and Aki for me when you’re at home?”

Shinomiya grinned, “of course.”

“Thanks, Gran says Natsu gets cranky because only I pet her just right.”

Shinomiya gave a small laugh, “at least we know Aki isn’t so discriminant about that.”

“Yeah, if only Takuto-san were here too, Natsu likes him...I’m tired, Nii-chan, c’mere.”

 

Shinomiya readily moved and let Ryou lie against him and close his eyes.

“Are you going to sleep, Ryou-chan?”

“Maybe.”

“Shall I turn off the lights?”

“No, stay here.”

 

Takuto’s voice resurfaced, “ please don’t leave ...”

 

“I’m not going anywhere.”

                                                                                   ---

Unfortunately, it was Takuto’s mother who took him to the hospital, but with Matsuoka’s promises he was working with his contacts as best he could to make everything go as smoothly as possible. They looked around awkwardly and didn’t really speak to each other as the doctor saw to his stitches, he tried not to be there, he tried to be in a better place in his mind but it was hard to focus on anything. He debated with himself if the pain was better than numbness. Maybe if he could get back to the warmth Shinomiya gave him, then pain was a worthwhile starting point.

 

His mother didn’t fight anything at least. By the time he found himself in a hospital room she seemed more tired and ready to leave than anything else.

“What if I got you some drawing tools,” she suggested. “For your sketchbook, not paints.”

“I- that might be nice, thanks Mama,” he said.

“When you get better you’ll paint again,” she said, smiling in a way he was starting to hate.

“When I’m better,” he muttered.

“I know you will.”

 

When he painted for that thief he didn’t usually give it any life or value. He knew that, but he hadn’t thought anyone would notice. Once in awhile he would part with something he cared about if he thought it would keep Gotou from hitting his mother, but he still couldn’t believe the sick bargain he’d made.

 

“Takuto, I need you to paint more.”

Good morning, Mama , he’d thought sarcastically. Then he recognized her sunglasses, it was a grey day outside.

“He says that they’re lifeless recently, critics don’t take kindly to that and he can’t take care of us if they ruin him.”

“He doesn’t take care of us he- Mama?”

She was crying.

“We had a fight, I need to fix it, so please, I need your help.”

He was going to hate himself for whatever he chose to do. “Maybe that place can help me paint again, like he wants.”

“Do you really think so baby?”

I don’t care, leave me there and never let him in our lives again . “Yeah.”

“I guess we could try.”

There’s not a we, leave me so I can try. “Yeah, let’s try.”

                                                                                   ---

“Transplant isn’t a fix,” Ryou said. “I know.”

His parents, grandparents and brother sat around his bed.

“We have a lot more to learn,” his father said. “But we know it’s going to be a grueling process and you could be on a waiting list for a long time.”

“Ryou, you’re already so good at taking your medicine,” their mother said, “but it’s more than that, you’d have to be even more careful not to get sick or get near anyone who is.”

“Do you think I’d be in the hospital a whole month after?” Ryou asked.

“I only said that was possible,” Sensei reminded him. “It’s not always something you can predict.”

“But you’ll keep going, won’t you, Ryou-chan?” Shinomiya encouraged, “Ryou-chan’s a fighter.”

Koji ,” Sensei said with just enough edge to her tone to quiet him.
“Yes, we’ve all got more learning to do,” she said,”but in the end Ryou, you are the one who has to do the work, it’s your body and you make the final decisions. It won’t be easy, my changeling,” she caressed his face and brushed her hand over his hair.

“Mama?”

“It won’t be easy at any point, but no matter what you choose, we love and support you.”

                                                                                   ---

Hospitals were never really a fun place, but they mostly ignored Takuto and he seemed alright with that. He took the pills they gave him and let nurses keep checking on his arm but for the first few days, nothing happened. The pills were starting to make him feel heavy, or sleepy, or sometimes restless. He had no appetite for a while before becoming ravenous and it wasn’t until he told someone that he wasn’t doing any better like this did anyone mention, “recovery can take a very long time.”

 

The next day they sent him a therapist. A woman who would arrive each day in a simple suit and ask him if there was anything he wanted to say because she was there to listen.

“I- sort of?” he said. “I- I know...”

When he couldn’t form any more words she asked; “did you choose to be here?”

“Yeah, I-I think so.”

“Why?”

                                                                               

Eventually he was able to tell her a bit more at a time.

 

“Is there anyone you miss right now?”

“I- I had a partner,” Takuto said. “I really love them but...but I couldn’t....I wasn’t there for them.”

“Are you here because you want to be there for that person?”

“Y-yeah.”

“What about for yourself.”

“Yeah, for myself too.”

                                                                                   ---

Natsu would sleep beside Shinomiya on the nights after Ryou would nap next to him or sit close together, she didn’t care about him if he was not wearing something with Ryou’s scent on it. Unlike her sister though, Aki seemed to be all over Shinomiya whenever he was home. Especially if he was the only one not doing something.

 

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : Have you seen Takuto at all?

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya : I was gonna go after graduation and moving.

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya : Why?

 

Because I miss him badly but at least I have a big, supportive family and he needs you , Shinomiya thought, but did not send.

 

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : He needs a friend right now.

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya : Yeah.

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya : But don’t leave him alone too much.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : Will you tell me if you see him?

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya : Yeah.

                                                                                   ---

“Niwa, thank you for visiting,” Takuto said, his smile lay wearily on his face but it was genuine.

“Of course,” Niwa grinned wide, “what are friends for?”

“I’m...I’m sorry I’m so boring.”

“You’re not boring.”

“But I mean, I just made us sit here and do nothing because-”

“It’s fine.”

“But-”

“Stop it, you don’t get to be upset that I wanna sit here with you- I mean- Iwai, I want to be with you. Okay? A man who doesn’t love his friends isn’t a good man.”

“N-Niwa that’s-”

“Oh god, no forget it- sorry for saying something weird and shit.”

“It’s lovely,” Takuto said.

Niwa blushed profusely but tried to ignore it as he let Takuto curl up next to him. The shy artist sure did enjoy cuddles. Niwa was a bear of a boy, no doubt about that, but for all his roughhousing, his crass and crudeness, he held Takuto very gently. Niwa’s hold reminded Takuto of Shinomiya, it was a safe place to be.

 

“You seem a bit uplifted,” the therapist noted the next day. “Your visitor yesterday, was that your special person?”

“Oh- oh n-no,” Takuto stuttered, “that person is...is a good friend but he’s not...he wasn’t my...”

“You seem happier either way,” she said.

“Y-yeah, he’s a good friend. He’s safe like my...um, person. M-my partner was...was the first person I tried to t-tell everything but I don’t think it worked.”

“Why do you think that?”

“I didn’t- I didn’t really finish telling him...but I- I tried.”

“That’s a good start,” she said. “You’re doing well here, I know it’s supposed to be a very short stay, but progress takes a long time.”

“Th-this place is different, right? It, it’s not for a normal longer stay, right?”

“That’s right,” she said, “it’s geared more towards assessing and recommending next steps, if that’s what you choose.”

“I- I want to go back and, and I want to make things better,” Takuto said.

“Those are good convictions to have,” she praised, “it’ll be difficult on your own, it’s good that you have good friends.”

Takuto thought of Shinomiya’s fierce love and tender touch, he thought of Niwa’s comical demeanor but willingness to lay in quiet and hold him and even Naruse’s puppy-like excitement and support. “I love them.”

                                                                                   ---

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya : He’s still like a lost sloth or something, needs someone to take care of him.

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya : But he seems better than when he left school.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : Thank you Niwa. So much.

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya : You should still lookout for him with all that extra time you’ll have not on the Student Council next year.

Msg from Shinomiya Koji : Of course I will.

 

I love him .

 

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya : Dunno what you two decided but he misses you.

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya : He’ll be happy to see you again.

Msg from Niwa Tetsuya : Trust me.

 

Aki poked his phone with her nose and climbed onto his chest to curl up. He pushed away the art magazine Takuto had given him to lie down and let them both get comfortable. It was a different painting that rested like a low hanging cloud over his thoughts. The image of Gouto’s “Twilight in Your Eyes” overlaid itself on a memory of Takuto, looking sleepy and wistful into an oncoming dawn.

You’re like the dawn .

A motor-like purr reminded him of Aki’s warm weight on his chest and made him think of the time he’d found Takuto napping with the cats. He’d looked so peaceful and everything about him made Shinomiya want to kiss him. He wanted Takuto back, wanted them back. Why couldn’t it be that simple? The timeless cliche of “love is painful” wandered through his thoughts. Ryou looking frail and exhausted at all times was terrifying, but he was trying to live, fighting for it. Shinomiya couldn’t let him give up. He couldn’t let Takuto either.

Let me help, let me be there , he wanted to beg. It felt like falling after someone who has taken a very steep dive; the ground lay out of view and he did not want it to exist. Keep falling if they must and never land. When they left each other, Takuto had tried to apologize for having nothing to send Ryou, Shinomiya had almost kissed him to stop it. They stood with their faces centimeters away from each other, both hesitating to push forward or withdraw. In the next very slow moments, Shinomiya kissed Takuto’s forehead instead.

“Do what you need to,” he’d said.

He had no idea how they tore away from staring into each other’s eyes. In the golden and hazel of Takuto’s, Shinomiya saw his own violet reflection stare back at him.