Okuyasu noticed the feeling a couple of weeks after the fight.
Josuke had been out of the hospital for a few days then, completely over the moon to be back. Okuyasu adored being around him when he was like this, so excited and mischievous. It made his heart pound and his stomach do weird little flips. And when Josuke shot his million-dollar smile at him he thought he could do anything . Jump a whole mountain. Run for ten miles straight. Break into Rohan-sensei’s house. It was so much fun.
He was ready to follow Josuke anywhere. And when they were together (which was frequent), hands brushing when they walked, an arm, elbow, leg, always in contact, Okuyasu could swear this was heaven. Whatever did he do to deserve Josuke?
In these moments of contact, specifically in the mornings, Josuke would lightly touch Okuyasu’s arm. It was a very normal gesture for them.
But the first morning back was different.
He felt it—a race of energy, so fast and jerking that it made his head spin. His cheeks flooded with warmth, and he lost his train of thought, stammering, even stumbling. Josuke asked if he was okay, offering his arm, and Okuyasu gingerly took it, flinching as he prepared for the shock. But the feeling, so fleeting, didn’t return.
It was very odd, but he didn’t think anything of it. That is until later on that day, when it had happened again. Just a small touch, a warm jolt, and it sent him spiraling again. Josuke only looked at him in confusion, but Okuyasu brushed it off, oddly embarrassed.
It wouldn’t be the last time. Over and over, this feeling returned to him as the weeks passed. And it left him utterly dumbfounded.
He wondered what it could possibly be. Was it him? Was he just imagining things? Perhaps he had missed Josuke so much that was overanalyzing every point of contact. But it didn’t always happen, so that thought made no sense. Maybe he was just being paranoid, conjuring a sensation in his head built entirely on Josuke’s touch. It was possible. His feelings were so erratic these days when it came to Josuke. He wanted every possible excuse to be near him. A crush is all, he thought. He had a crush on Josuke.
His thoughts came to a screeching halt.
He had a crush on his best friend. In all honesty, it didn’t surprise him as much as he had thought. He liked girls, but he also liked guys. It was simple to him, despite having been told so often it wasn’t. Keicho would’ve probably strangled him for it, but he wasn’t here anymore. So really, what did it matter?
Okuyasu spent every possible moment with Josuke.
His favorite thing to do for Josuke was cook. It was something he took pride in, being able to prepare good meals for himself and his father. Josuke oohed and ahhed over every new culinary expedition, taking delight in the desserts the most. Okuyasu loved that. Of course Josuke would have a sweet tooth, when he himself was such a treat to be around.
They would often stay up late playing video games, spending the night at his house or vice versa on the weekends. On school nights, they would sneak into each other’s bedrooms under the cover of darkness. Those nights were hardly for entertainment—nightmares had plagued Josuke almost every night since the fight, and it had reached the point where he would call Okuyasu to calm himself down. It’s not like Okuyasu wasn’t any better. He would lie awake in agony, in his big empty house, thinking of those who were gone while he got to stay.
Having Josuke there was like a lullaby, his slow breaths lulling Okuyasu into sleep quicker than he ever could alone. And when the nightmares came, Okuyasu would be right there with open arms. It just made sense to be there for each other. There was no need to suffer alone.
Sometimes, in these fits, Okuyasu would feel the jolt again. It would ripple up his spine as Josuke curled into him, touching him in the same spot he always did to make sure he was okay. Where it had happened. The feeling often started from there, traveling all the way to his fingertips. Okuyasu still wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, so he said nothing.
Then, one day, he discovered what the feeling was.
The fight hadn’t been his fault. Some older boys had decided to pick on him for his scars after school. He was used to his kind of bullying, calling him names like “Baseball Head” and “Scarface”. Okuyasu wouldn’t just take it though like Josuke (Josuke never fought back unless his hair was the subject, and most days people stayed far away just because of that alone). The end result was a small brawl, three on one. It hadn’t been a fair fight. The bullies were no match for Okuyasu’s stand, and within minutes he had chased them off, battered and bruised but certainly okay.
The adrenaline faded, and something clenched up inside of him, heavy and daunting. His nose was bleeding furiously, and he wiped at it with his sleeve before realizing it was futile. Instead, he pinched his nostrils shut, eyes wide and frantic as he searched for something. His heart pounded with fear, but why? What was he looking for, he thought?
He took a deep breath, tried to calm his frazzled nerves. Josuke was probably still in the school building, being held back since he was late. He would be out in a moment. The thought immediately calmed him.
So Okuyasu waited patiently. His nose was still gushing blood, and he hastily fished out a handkerchief out of his bag, plugging his nose as best as he could. A part of him was curious about his reaction to the fight, but he didn’t think much of it. He hardly did.
Josuke came out a moment later, huffing about detention, when his eyes widened at Okuyasu’s state. “Oku.”
Okuyasu’s heart fluttered like it always did at the nickname, and he shrugged it off, trying his best to bite down the smile ready to overwhelm his whole face. “I’m okay. Just some punks.”
Josuke’s hand reached out to touch his nose, a small tap of his fingertip, and Okuyasu gasped.
There it was. The sensation. It rippled through him, filling him with warmth. Okuyasu looked down at his handkerchief, no longer stained red. The sting of his nose faded away to nothing.
The feeling hadn’t been him. It had been Josuke .
Josuke had been healing him.
The realization hit him hard and fast. But the feeling happened almost every day, even when he wasn’t hurt. Did Josuke even mean to it? It felt so different than before. Back when they had just become friends, Josuke would heal him occasionally, but all he had felt was instant relief. There wasn’t a jolt of energy, a warm feeling that lingered after like a hug. It puzzled him.
“You okay?” Josuke asked sweetly, jolting him out of his stupor. Okuyasu blinked a few times before smiling.
“I am now.”
“Good.” Josuke linked arms with him, a feeling so natural it felt like home, and Okuyasu knew he meant it. “You want me to kick some ass?”
“Nah, I think I gave them enough of that,” Okuyasu said proudly, and Josuke laughed.
They stayed like that until they reached Josuke’s house. Josuke, regretfully, released his grip. “My mom’s gonna kill me for getting detention again.” He groaned, pouting softly. “I’ll see you tonight. My place?” He whispered the last part, like it was their little secret. Okuyasu supposed that it was.
Okuyasu grinned. “Sure. See ya!”
Josuke disappeared into his house, and Okuyasu’s head spun with feelings. He returned to his own house in a stupor. He stumbled through his homework before giving up and moving onto a quick dinner. The evening whirled by as the revelation played in his head over and over.
Josuke was healing him almost every day.
It felt different, sharper and startling.
It made him feel so good.
Okuyasu felt his face heat up, his heart jackhammer in his chest, and he did a little dance in front of the stove. Across the room Stray Cat meowed curiously.
“He must really like me,” he said quietly, giddy with excitement. He couldn’t wait for tonight.
He finished up the meal, serving a plate for him, his dad, and Stray. He made sure everyone ate before finishing up himself, quickly doing the dishes. He took a quick shower, making sure to use the body wash Josuke had bought for him (“You gotta stop using bars of soap, Oku. It dries out your skin”). He dressed in comfy pajamas.
Finally, it was time. Okuyasu left his house, locking the door behind him. He wrapped his jacket around himself and walked to the Higashikata residence.
The window was already open for him, and in one smooth motion Okuyasu swiped the air in front of him and launched himself into the opening. He stumbled right into Josuke, who caught him just before he landed on the floor.
“ Dude, ” Josuke protested, but there was no bite behind his words. His hair was already down, pulled back by a small purple headband. He looked absolutely gorgeous, and Okyuasu felt so funny in the best way. “You’re gonna wake up my mom.”
“Sorry,” Okuyasu muttered. He reluctantly let go of Josuke to close the window behind him.
Josuke jumped into his bed, turning off the light with a click. Okuyasu joined him in a similar manner, nestling in what had been dubbed his side.
Josuke looked at him warmly. “Goodnight, dude.”
“Goodnight,” Okuyasu responded.
Josuke reached out to touch him, like he always did, and Okuyasu was ready for it. The shocking sensation rippled into his spine, and he sighed into it. There it is , he thought.
“There what is?” Josuke asked, and Okuyasu blushed as he realized he had actually said it out loud.
He figured he might as well tell the truth now. “You healing me.”
His best friend went bug-eyed. “ You can feel that? ” Josuke turned a lovely shade of red, visible even in the low light, and Okuyasu couldn’t help but giggle.
“Yeah, dude. At first I thought it was just me making stuff up in my head. But then you healed me today at school, and I figured it out.” Okuyasu could feel his cheeks hurting from smiling. “You do it all the time, right?”
“I didn’t know you could feel it though.” Josuke frowned, lip jutting out, and Okuyasu wished it wasn’t so dark because he looked so cute. “No one else can.”
“Well I couldn’t before the…big fight.” Okuyasu swallowed. “But after that, yeah. I can feel it.”
“What does it feel like?” Josuke moved a little closer, those big eyes overflowing with curiosity.
“Warm. Like a shock.” Okuyasu wracked his brain for better words. “Like chugging a hot cup of tea after a cold day.” He supposed that was pretty close to it. “It didn’t always feel like that though. I don’t know what changed it.”
Josuke only stared at him. Okuyasu looked back peculiarly. There was something different in Josuke’s eyes, something deeper than the surface. The gaze seemed to absorb him.
“I know,” Josuke whispered. “I know what changed.”
“What?” Okuyasu was absolutely lost, but he was dying to know nonetheless.
Josuke reached for his hand, and Okuyasu let him take it. He interlaced him slowly.
“I think I like you, dude. Like a lot.” Josuke said it so quietly that Okuyasu could barely hear the words. But they rang through him like a bell. His mind exploded with questions.
Josuke likes me? He likes me? Like more than friends? Me?
“Me?” He asked the last question.
Josuke nodded. “Is that okay?”
Okuyasu bit back a noise of joy. “Of course. I like you too.”
“You do?” Josuke grinned, and the smile sent shockwaves through Oku.
“Yes!” he said it a little too loud, and Josuke clamped a hand over his mouth.
“Dude, quiet,” but Josuke was giggling, and he scooched even closer, so close that their noses were nearly touching.
A pregnant pause developed between them, and Okuyasu felt the sudden ripple of Josuke’s healing flow through him again. He snickered, shaking Josuke’s hand off his mouth. “Why do you do it so often?”
“I dunno,” Josuke said softly. “At first it was because I noticed you had a paper cut. But then I thought that maybe you could have a bruise or something I couldn’t see. So I just started doing it all the time.” Josuke smiled sheepishly. “I just want you to feel good. And then something kinda flipped in my head, you know? I realized I wanted to spend every second with you. So I guess you could feel it in my healing.”
The words flowed into Okuyasu, sweet and syrupy like honey, and knew he must have been making the goofiest face but he didn’t care. “That’s...that’s really nice.”
“I’m glad you think so,” Josuke laughed. “I thought I was being a freak.”
“No way. I think it’s really cute,” Okuyasu snapped his mouth shut, cursing himself. It was too forward, he thought. He didn’t want to scare Josuke off.
Josuke, to his surprise, looked at him with nothing but pure joy. “You think I’m cute?”
“Yeah. Is that okay?” Okuyasu kind of felt like dying, but all of his worries faded as another jolt warmth went through him. Josuke sighed.
“Yeah. That’s very okay.” Josuke pulled him close, wrapping around him in a weird hug. He yawned. “Can we talk more tomorrow?” Josuke’s eyes fluttered shut.
Okuyasu suddenly felt it too, how tired he really was. He quickly settled himself around Josuke’s embrace. “Yeah.”
It was a very good feeling, Okuyasu decided.