“Aghast” was an interesting word. Its function as an adjective to describe a fearsome amount of dread, disgust, shock, while being relatively more flexible than “horror” or “hatred” made it a favorite of Tsuzuru’s.
Therefore, he looked at Kazunari utterly aghast.
“No,” Tsuzuru said. “What’s wrong with you?”
Kazunari laughed. “Awww, it’s just a little breaking and entering, Tsuzuroon! You don’t need to look so scandalized because of it.”
“I am not going to break into God Troupe's theater solely for the sake of you covering Reni’s office chair with spray cheese!”
“It would be fuuuuuun,” Misumi sang with a wolfish smile identical to the one on Kazunari’s face.
Tsuzuru felt a headache brewing in his skull. “That’s a word for it. Here’s another one. Vandalism. Which is a crime.”
Kazunari huffed. Like Tsuzuru was being difficult because he was expressing a modicum of common sense and respect for decent behavior. “You’re such a prude sometimes.”
Tsuzuru’s jaw dropped a little further. “Because I don’t want to be a CRIMINAL?”
Misumi suddenly leaned forward and flashed a glimpse of his canines, the way he grinned. “Tsuzu’s a square, huh?”
“SUCH a square, Sumi!”
“This is peer pressuring,” Tsuzuru said, turning around to face his laptop again. “I’m not going to be a victim to it. You two can go and do whatever you want, end up on the nine o’clock news, whatever, but I’m not going to partake in the delinquency, thank you very much.”
Kazunari sighed dramatically. “Squaaaaaare.”
“I am not a square.”
Misumi suddenly appeared in the corner of his vision. Tsuzuru forced down the reflexive urge to lurch away from the close proximity.
“It’s alright if he’s a square,” Misumi said then, in an oddly decisive tone. “Squares are two triangles. We’ll go together, Kazu.”
“Sweeeeeeet! I’ll go get the cans from my closet,” Kazunari whooped, already on his way out.
Misumi didn’t move.
Tsuzuru turned to glare at him. “Why are you still here?”
“Hey, hey. Tsuzu!”
“I’m right here, you don’t need to yell.”
Misumi chuckled. He leaned in close to whisper into Tsuzuru’s ear, “Do you want a Super Limited Edition Triangle?”
This again? Maybe he’d actually get a triangle this time. Maybe a triangle would be Misumi’s way of saying hey, it’s alright if you don’t wanna come out and commit minor crimes with us. “Alright.”
Misumi grinned at him, this time with teeth. “They’re all out of stock. Sorry!”
“Why do you do that?” Tsuzuru asked, tired. He was always tired but the exhaustion settled into his bones so much worse when there was something he couldn’t understand. “What’s the point in offering me a triangle but never going through with it?”
“I think it’s fun to mess with you!” Misumi said, hands smacking onto each of Tsuzuru’s shoulders. “Okaaaay, have a nice night!”
Tsuzuru watched Misumi leave Room 102 with a hop in his step.
He turned back to his laptop’s screen and sighed to himself.
Understanding things was vital in Tsuzuru’s line of business.
“Line of business” meaning, you know, spinning together stories and characters that will leave an impression on the faceless yet demanding audience he sought to please with everything in his body.
Tsuzuru told himself that playwriting was a passion of his and even if he didn’t have the job he had now, he’d still be drafting his own versions in his free time. Being able to put them on the stage through MANKAI was a massive bonus but not the driving source of his love for what he did. And yet, the mindset of “do what you want” and “write what makes you happy” battled fiercely with “remember that you have to write things that people like to keep your job.” It was just how the world worked.
Tsuzuru pushed his laptop away and rested his forehead on the cool glass of the balcony’s table. Summer wasn’t one of his best seasons, he was all too willing to admit. You try balancing work and writing all under a blazing hot sun. His dorm was his favorite place to write in three out of four seasons. Shut the door, maybe smack up a WORKING!!! sign to make sure no one bothered you, accept Masumi’s bowls of rice and canned tuna when they were delivered, and escape from reality for a few days to throw himself instead within a world of his own building.
That schedule was easy during spring, fall, and winter.
But Room 102’s air conditioner was shit and staying inside those walls to write during the summer was hell. He preferred the second floor's balcony to write in during this time, whether day or night, because the shade was nice and there was usually a cool breeze to enjoy.
The only downside was that there were more distractions outside of his room. So many temptations, spurned by the hot sun, to let his thoughts melt into an intangible soup of concepts.
So, as Tsuzuru looked out, his mind wandered.
There were a handful of people in the company Tsuzuru struggled with writing for. The chances he’d ever come close to figuring Chikage, or Azuma, or Hisoka out in their entirety was borderline zero.
There was another name on that list of People I Won’t Ever Really Understand.
Tsuzuru’s gaze dropped to the courtyard below him. There was a lithe, graceful figure twisting around the jutting branches of the biggest, centermost tree. Twenty bucks to the person who guessed who.
Tsuzuru watched Misumi’s head burst forth from the topmost layer of foliage.
He shook the stray leaves out of his hair, and then reached for the prize he’d been climbing for. The red frisbee.
He raised it over his head. “I gooot iiiiit! Banri, catch!”
Tsuzuru watched Misumi fling it back down to the earth and then follow soon after, curling in on himself and spinning before he landed on the balls of his feet.
Yes, he decided.
Misumi Ikaruga was gravity defying. That was one of the few things Tsuzuru would say about him without even a bit of doubt.
Who are you?
To be so much like an impossible puzzle. One mystery solved only for three more to spring up in its place.
What are you?
How do I make you shine on that stage?
It was a trend, actually. That the hardest people for him to wrap his head around happened to be the most versatile with acting. It didn’t really matter what role he put together for Misumi Ikaruga, because he would fully embrace and encapsulate whatever it was that Tsuzuru put on paper. The actor of any playwright’s dreams. But when had Tsuzuru ever been content with simply putting words on a page? He had his own pride in making the perfect roles for his fellow company members, weaving dialogue and actions that had all of them shining with a profound starlight you simply could not replicate anywhere else.
Tsuzuru flinched when he realized Misumi was looking right back at him from down below. He watched the Summer Troupe’s member wave at him gleefully.
“Hiiiiiii, Tsuzu!” Misumi called to him.
He waved back and watched as Misumi went to continue the game of frisbee.
…Tsuzuru wasn’t one to admit defeat but something inside of him said that Misumi would never be figured out, no matter how hard he tried.
But maybe that was okay.
“I’m back!” Misumi called as he skipped into the living room.
Tsuzuru glanced at him.
Misumi opened a drawstring bag and began handing out his treasures.
“For you!” he said to Yuki, handing him a triangle. “And you!” To Muku, another triangle.
Misumi caught Tsuzuru’s gaze.
He grinned. “No triangles for Tsuzu, though. Sorry!"
Tsuzuru looked back down at his lap. Misumi didn't sound very sorry.
No triangles for him?
Tsuzuru shut his laptop. He got up from his chair, stretched, and then opened the window beside his desk.
“This seems unnecessary, if I’m allowed to be honest,” Tsuzuru admitted.
“Tsuuuuzuuuuuruuuuuu,” Misumi sang, hanging precariously upside down by his knees on a sconce. He stretched his arms out. “Catch meeeeee!”
Tsuzuru leaned his cheek on his palm. “You scaled all this way down. I’m sure you can make the last leap for yourself.”
“But it’s better if you hold me!”
It was with a strange, stirring, senseless amount of affection for mystery that Tsuzuru thought What an idiot to himself, before giving in and opening his own arms. He watched Misumi swing on his legs a few times, building up momentum, before he flung himself through the window of Room 102. Tsuzuru hauled him inside.
“We have a staircase, you don’t have to always scale the building like this,” Tsuzuru panted.
Misumi smiled wide, showing off his two perfect rows of teeth. “It’s more fun like this though, right?”
“Fun for who?”
“Aha! That’s the question, right?"
Tsuzuru scowled and opened his mouth to retort. He was cut off by the sound of Masumi’s bunk creaking as the younger troupe member rolled over in his sleep. So instead, Tsuzuru pressed a finger to his lips to tell Misumi to be quiet.
Misumi leaned in closer. “Do you want to go somewhere else?”
“It’s midnight. Where would we go?”
Where do we go? Where are we going to end up? How will we get there? Why are we going there?
All of these questions he liked to have answers to.
Misumi only laughed and reached forward to poke the tip of Tsuzuru’s nose. “We’ll figure it out while we get there. C’mon!”
Well… What could Tsuzuru do except follow?
Maybe Misumi was just one of those questions that would never have a straight answer. Maybe the quicker Tsuzuru resigned himself to not understanding, he’d stop torturing himself like this.
“Do you always sneak out this late?” Tsuzuru asked him.
Misumi got back to his feet and dusted his dirt-stained knees. “Sometimes! Triangle hunting is fun no matter what hour it is, you know?”
No. Tsuzuru didn’t know. He didn’t like triangles that much because the trigonometry unit in high school had fucked him over and was possibly the root of his hatred of mathematics. But maybe Misumi’s triangles were what storytelling was to Tsuzuru. And that senseless compulsion to surround yourself with things you liked was something he was all too familiar with.
Maybe the only way to understand Misumi was through translation of his own vices.
Misumi turned back to his task at hand, rummaging through a pile of garbage on the side of the road for a triangle he liked.
“I usually go out by myself,” he said. “Sometimes I convince Kazu or Kumon to come with me. This time I wanted you to come along.”
Tsuzuru leaned against a street wall. “Why?”
“It’s fun to do things I like around people I like!” he said.
Tsuzuru crossed his arms and hugged himself.
Maybe he’d never figure Misumi out.
Misumi stood up and brandished a plate. “Look!”
A triangle. Obviously.
Maybe it was the late hour. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation. Maybe it was the fact that Misumi Ikaruga did nothing if not envelop those around him in a comforting and gentle atmosphere of indulgence.
“I’m happy for you,” he said.
Misumi popped the plate into his plate into his drawstring bag.
“Tsuzu,” he said.
Misumi kissed him on the street.
But so, so fulfilling.
Misumi buried his nose into the back of Tsuzuru’s neck. A soft, warm exhale tickled him, and then sent a shiver running down the length of his spine.
“Quit it,” Tsuzuru muttered. “I’m working."
Misumi didn’t quit it. He pressed a soft kiss right on Tsuzuru's left shoulder blade and, with his lips pressed against the skin, murmured, “You’re always working.”
He liked the way Misumi held him, Tsuzuru thought to himself.
"Do you like figuring people out?” Misumi asked suddenly, before he kissed the back of Tsuzuru’s neck.
Tsuzuru forced down the slight groan in the back of his throat at the touch.
“I suppose I prefer it over constant confusion,” he said at last, when he was convinced his voice wouldn’t crack.
“Do I confuse you, Tsuzuru?"
“Are you sure?”
Quiet. Tsuzuru looked over his shoulder and raised his eyebrow. “What are you thinking?”
“Noooothing,” Misumi crooned softly. Tsuzuru couldn’t see the bottom half of his face, but the glimmer in his eyes was enough to convince him Misumi was smiling wide. Like he always was. “I wouldn’t wanna confuse you, after all. You’re cute when you tell yourself you know everything too.”
“When I what?”
Misumi leaned forward in his seat to press a kiss at the edge of Tsuzuru’s jaw, right beneath his earlobe. It tickled. Not in the way that made him want to laugh and shove Misumi away. Rather, it made him suppress a hard shudder and resist the urge to go completely slack in Misumi’s arms, like putty.
“So you have me all figured out?” Misumi asked him.
Tsuzuru’s jaw clenched. “I know... what I need to know.”
Rough fingers gently grabbed at his chin and turned Tsuzuru’s head to the side. Misumi’s eyes were a scant few centimeters away from his own. Two shining seas of amber and oranges, beckoning Tsuzuru to sink into them like pools of fire. As Misumi’s chest rumbled with a silent laugh, as he leaned forward to close the distance, Tsuzuru wondered in the back of his head if he would burn alive.
Misumi kissed him. Close mouthed. Soft and warm and achingly sweet, like an apology for all the teasing and jokes. Tsuzuru’s stomach fluttered with nerves and he didn’t dare breathe.
He waited until Misumi drew away a few seconds later.
Misumi tilted his head to the side. “Do you still know everything you need to know?”
“…Yes?” Tsuzuru replied, and then cringed at how high his voice’s pitch had gone. He cleared his throat.
Misumi shifted, crawling on his knees to Tsuzuru’s side now. He reached forward and laced their fingers together. He pressed his palm against Tsuzuru’s, then planted a soft peck to the back of his hand. His grip trailed down until he was holding Tsuzuru’s wrist.
“You can ask me anything,” Misumi said so sweetly as he pushed Tsuzuru’s wrist against a wall and held it there. “I’ll answer if it’s you.”
“You don’t even give me your triangles. How can I expect answers from you?” Tsuzuru breathed as Misumi’s other hand went snaking down his side, slipping beneath the hem of his shirt to splay against bare skin.
“Triangles aren’t for Tsuzuru.”
“What. Only suffering for me then?”
Misumi pressed two more kisses to his left cheek, before reaching with his teeth for the soft shell of his ear. Tsuzuru clamped down on his tongue to stop any embarrassing noises from slipping out.
“Are you suffering right now?” he heard him whisper into his ear. “I’d say you look happier than you have in a loooong time.”
“Should I be impressed at the way you’re handling this,” Tsuzuru said with a gesture from his free hand towards the situation they were in, “while also stroking your own ego?”
Misumi’s grin turned downright wicked. “Would you rather I stroke you?”
Well, that wasn’t a real word, Tsuzuru distantly thought to himself as Misumi caught his lips again. He couldn’t tell if it was the failing AC or if the kisses were genuinely getting more and more heated the more they shared. He felt Misumi clip at his lower lip with his front teeth.
Misumi was awfully selfish and greedy sometimes, wasn’t he?
Tsuzuru opened his mouth, groaning when he felt the nigh burning heat of a tongue slip inside. His fingertips twitched, but whether they did so to curl into a fist or reach for Misumi’s hair, he didn’t know. And he didn’t have to figure it out—not when Misumi still had his wrist pressed tight to the surface of the wall.
“I wanna mess you up a little,” Misumi told him.
Maybe he wanted to get messed up. “…I want to mess you up too.”
“That’s good. We’re thinking the same thing then.”
Tsuzuru dripped amber and fire the rest of the night.
“Tsuuuuzuuuuruuuuu,” Misumi sang, poking his head into the dorm room. “Let’s go to the library and do a street act together!”
Misumi, as expected, raised a finger to press it against his cheek. “Who knows… Today’s feeling a little lucky, too. If you do a good job, I think there’ll even be a Mr. Triangle in stock as a priiiize.”
“Oh, that’s quite alright. I don’t need a Mr. Triangle anymore,” Tsuzuru said, keeping his voice disinterested.
Misumi’s arm fell along with his smile. He looked confused.
“What do you mean?” he asked.
Tsuzuru simply reached for his tattered bag with a hole in the bottom he’d smacked duct tape over, and unhooked the keychain. He presented the acrylic square to Misumi, struggling to keep his face neutral all the while. He wasn’t sure where exactly Misumi managed to get all of those Mr. Triangle goods—for his own little Mr. Square, he’d bought a blank, boring, forty-cent keychain and glued two googly eyes on it.
“You said it yourself. I’m a ‘square.’” Tsuzuru put heavy air quotes over the word. “I adapted. I have my Mr. Square now and you can keep your Mr. Triangles to yourself. No need to check the stock anymore.”
Misumi’s eyes narrowed near imperceptibly at the square like it was some deep insult to his very name.
Then he looked up at Tsuzuru and smiled warmly.
“Is this a game you really wanna play, Tsuzu?” Misumi asked, voice smooth and velvety like a piece of chocolate too expensive for Tsuzuru to eat comfortably.
“What game? I’m sitting here, innocent in nature, enjoying my squares that represent my square personality,” Tsuzuru said, words dripping with sarcasm.
Misumi hummed for a moment, and then he took a step closer, closing the gap until their chests were nearly touching.
“It’s alright if you tease me back,” Misumi said to him in a stage whisper. No one would have heard the words even if he’d spoken normally, but maybe this was his theatrical, unnecessary way of letting Tsuzuru know that these words were for him only. “I think it can be fun when two people play with each other. And I’m fine with getting teased as long as you’re the one doing it. So is this a game you want to play?”
Tsuzuru forced himself to swallow even though his mouth felt dry. “Is there a trial run option?”
“Just for you, maybe!” Misumi said cheerfully.
Tsuzuru took in a deep breath through his nose and thought.
He still didn’t really understand Misumi. He was so outspoken and unguarded on the surface level, making it so easy for everyone around him to think he was just there and there wasn’t much else besides that. And then the longer you stuck around, the more layers you managed to peel back, it became so overwhelmingly clear that you’d only get to see what Misumi allowed you to see. Know what he let you know.
The invitation to play his little “game” seemed transparent enough.
How far do you want to go?
“Alright,” Tsuzuru said at last. Because why not? What was stopping him? “I’ll play. Do we start now?”
Misumi’s smile stretched a few molars. “Sure we can. We can start whenever you want.”
The rest of Misumi’s sentence pattered off in a choked yelp as Tsuzuru shoved him against a wall. He reached up to smush Misumi’s cheeks together, with his fingers and thumb, forcing the other's lips to pucker.
“Chooshoowoo?” Misumi asked.
“You are so mean to me,” Tsuzuru scolded. “All the time. And you get so much enjoyment out of it too. It’s like you hate me the most in this company. Then you turn right around to kiss me and touch me. What am I supposed to make of that?"
Misumi’s eyes glimmered. He gently took Tsuzuru’s fingers from his face and pressed soft kisses to the tips of each of them.
“Maybe I like you the most,” he murmured. “Maybe that’s why I like to make fun of you so much."
Tsuzuru ached with want to believe in that.
He sighed and kissed Misumi against the wall. Pushing their mouths together with a fervor and desperation he hadn’t known before. Tsuzuru told himself in that moment that he was a drowning man and Misumi was the only source of air left in the world.
He relished in the way Misumi’s hands raised to touch his neck, before arms slithered around him to pull their bodies together. Pressing, kissing, hands roaming. Borderline frantic ache and fulfillment and nothing else. Actually, maybe a little bit of spite.
Stop bullying me, Tsuzuru thought as he licked hot and wet into Misumi’s mouth. Or I’ll start bullying you right back.
He didn’t know what that swirling sensation in his stomach was when Misumi let out a content moan that felt as though it was meant to send every atom in Tsuzuru’s body vibrating. Was it annoyance that Misumi was enjoying it? Was it satisfaction?
Did Tsuzuru care?
He didn’t, he decided, as their teeth clicked together when Misumi tilted his head to the side.
Maybe that was the point of their “game.”
Learning along the way that there were no true winners except whoever had the most fun.
Hearing the door open was like getting a bucket full of ice cold water dumped on his face.
Tsuzuru shoved Misumi away with a gasp, sitting up to make the slightest eye contact with Masumi before his roommate slammed the door shut so hard, it rattled on its hinges.
“He saw,” Tsuzuru managed, before Misumi’s hands cupped his face again.
“So?” he asked.
“I know.” Misumi’s lips touched his for the barest second until Tsuzuru shoved him away again.
He tried desperately to filter the growing hysterical panic in his gut into words, but found it difficult. For all the depth and intricacy Misumi Ikaruga had in his soul, “shame” and “humiliation” were probably things he would not grasp. So how could Tsuzuru phrase himself to explain it?
Misumi’s fingers were in his hair, tangling themselves and tugging harshly.
“Why are you so scared,” he asked breathlessly.
“How are you not?”
“Because I don’t want to be. I just want to keep kissing you.”
Damn, that was poetry and possibly the lyrics of the next song that became a Tumblr staple, but Tsuzuru felt sick. His cheeks were burning hot but not in the growing-familiar tingle that Misumi usually brought to him. It was deep and dredging and painful.
“Can you give me a second,” he spat out, more scathing than he’d intended to be.
Misumi drew away like he’d been branded with a red-hot iron.
They stared at each other from opposite ends of the bed.
“Do you not want other people to know about us?” Misumi asked quietly. His face was unreadable, the only hint of discernible emotion coming from the crease in his brow.
Tsuzuru struggled to find the proper reply. “It’s—It’s not about you or us or anything like that, it’s—it’s…”
I don’t think I want anyone to know I’m kissing a boy?
I don’t think I’m ready to process that I’m kissing a boy? Specifically you? Specifically the people who know the both of us? But if it’s between the two of us, I don’t need to process or think about it, I only enjoy it?
And now that Masumi saw and the secret could spread to every corner of the company and the world if it keeps spreading, I’m scared?
Would Misumi understand that, if he made the effort to say it out loud?
Misumi’s eyes lowered to his knees. His lips worked, like he was tasting the words he wanted to speak into existence before doing so.
“Do you want to keep doing what we’re doing?” Misumi asked at last. His right shoulder lifted, a halfhearted gesture towards the door of Room 102. “Or do you want to go ask Masumi not to tell anyone?”
If it was about what Tsuzuru wanted, gee golly, what he wanted was to never work a day in his life and retreat to a cottage in the Italian countryside with an antique typewriter and a lover and never have to think about the real world ever again. But his life had never, ever been about what he wanted. Not really. Only what he had to do.
“I’m so sorry,” Tsuzuru stammered as he got to his shaking knees and started the climb down the ladder to his floor. “I—I’ll be right back, I promise, I need to tell him to keep his mouth shut. Give me five minutes.”
Misumi stared after him with such sad eyes.
Tsuzuru had a sinking feeling in his gut that he’d made the wrong choice.
Stop thinking about it, he snarled in his mind, as he threw the door open and ran after Masumi in the hall.
Masumi was oddly alright about it.
“None of my business,” he said gruffly when Tsuzuru, embarrassingly near tears, pleaded to him to not tell anyone. “Tie a sock to the doorknob next time or something. Christ.”
“I’m sorry,” Tsuzuru forced out.
“’S fine.” Masumi suddenly leveled a world ending glare at him. “You guys haven’t done anything on my bed though, right?”
“Cool. Tie a sock to the doorknob next time you’re sucking face or whatever."
Tsuzuru’s head hurt so badly. His heart thrummed, his stomach churned. He wanted so badly for his fingers to stop shaking.
“Masumi, you really—you really need to promise me you won’t tell anyone,” Tsuzuru said, voice cracking. “Please. You can’t tell.”
His roommate’s upper lip curled. “I’m not going to out you, what the fuck?”
“Please, please, I can’t…” Tsuzuru’s chest hurt and he reminded himself to breathe. His nose tingled and his eyes grew hot. “I can’t have anyone know when I don’t even know, I-I can’t handle—”
Masumi pursed his lips.
Tsuzuru dragged the back of his sleeve over his eyes.
“I can’t handle people knowing when I have no idea what I’m going through right now,” he managed at last, voice thick with grief.
“I know when to keep my mouth shut,” Masumi said as he tugged his headphones over his ears. Signifying that their conversation was over. “I think you need to spend some time figuring shit out first before you shove your tongue into someone else’s mouth, though.”
Understanding things had always been so important to Tsuzuru. Figuring out behaviors, and personalities, and thoughts.
Maybe it was cruel irony, then, that the one thing he struggled hardest to come to terms with was himself.
In a rare moment of weakness that would haunt him for weeks afterwards, Tsuzuru broke down crying in front of his troupe member two years younger. No sobbing or wailing. A simple bury of his face in his palms, where hot tears welled into tiny pools, all the while Masumi silently patted his back.
Tsuzuru dragged his feet on his walk back to the dorms.
Misumi was gone. Probably scurried off to his own room.
Tsuzuru didn’t know if he appreciated the moment alone at last, or if he was aching for arms to wrap around him and tell him everything would be alright. If he craved a voice that whispered to him promises of nothing mattering, nothing except his own happiness—ideals that his own voice would never be able to say.
He curled up on his side on the mattress and shoved a fistful of his covers into his mouth. Pleading to the cruel universe that just once, just once, he’d be permitted a blissful, dreamless sleep where he’d stop feeling awful and sick.
Misumi wasn’t looking at him anymore.
He wasn’t catching Misumi’s gaze anymore.
That hurt so much more than anything Tsuzuru had felt before.
The worst part was that it wasn’t just the world being cruel like usual. It was a consequence he fully deserved for his cowardice.
Tsuzuru wrapped his arms around himself, alone, in his bed, and tried to replicate that feeling of being held.
It wasn’t the same.
Itaru didn’t even look up from his device when he said it.
“So you and Misumi, huh?”
As casual like he was commenting on the cloudy sky.
Tsuzuru didn’t know if he was getting used to it, or if he’d simply reached his personal threshold of panic.
“Did Masumi tell you?” he asked, drained and empty.
Itaru glanced at him. “Masumi knows?”
“He walked in on us.”
Itaru’s eyes grew wider. “Like. Fucking?”
Tsuzuru choked. “No. Kissing.”
“Misumi and I haven’t gone any farther.”
Tsuzuru wrung his hands. His vision clouded, hot and teary, like it often did nowadays. “How do you know?”
Itaru was quiet. There was no sound except for the joystick of his Switch’s console wiggling back and forth.
“Don’t freak out about it,” he said finally. “I don’t think people will pick up on it unless they’re, like, personally acquainted with queer pining. And at that point, they’ll know to keep close-lipped about it until you’re ready first.”
…Wait a second,
“is this your coming out to me?” Tsuzuru asked in his daze.
The corner of Itaru’s lips quirked upwards. “It’s scary at first but you’ll get used to it. Then you’ll feel better.”
“You mean feel better about people knowing?” Tsuzuru asked.
“About everything.” Itaru’s eyes drifted out of focus for a second, like he was lost in his own thoughts. “Relationships. Friendships. Coming out. It gets easier the more time you give it. The more you keep doing it."
Tsuzuru dropped his head until it nestled comfortably snug between his knees. That familiar pounding of his skull was back.
“Can I say something?” Itaru asked.
He lifted his head back up. “What.”
“Are you sure about… whatever you’ve got going on with Misumi right now?”
Hearing that hurt a little more than outright scorn, Tsuzuru thought to himself. “Why do you say that?”
Itaru snorted. He still didn’t meet Tsuzuru’s eyes. “You’re all about planning and security and keeping it safe. If you were a game character, you’d be a shielder.”
“…What’s a shielder?”
“Not important right now.” Itaru finally turned his game off. He sighed, and then smacked Tsuzuru’s back hard. “Listen. I’ve been in the same boat as you a few years ago, so this is coming from a place of recognition and experience instead of blatant ignorance or judgement. I know what it’s like to kiss a guy because you’re finally kissing a guy instead of with intent to find the love of your life. All I want to know is that you’re pining like this because you want something with Misumi instead of a guy. You know?”
Tsuzuru didn’t know what to say to that at all.
Itaru continued. “If you’re doing it out of craving for honesty instead of genuine love, there are a lot of faceless, equally closeted and confused people you can shape it out with before you start chasing after people you know and see on the daily. People you work with."
Tsuzuru bit down hard on his lower lip as he tried to wrap his head around that.
“I don’t think it’s because Misumi is another guy,” Tsuzuru muttered at last, pleading to himself that he wouldn’t start spiraling into misery. Or emotional vulnerability. Whichever was worse. “He’s different. He could be a girl, or completely off the gender binary, whatever. I think I just… I just like him because he’s who he is.”
Itaru patted his back again.
“Then this is the only advice I can give you,” he said. “Don’t half ass it.”
“If you care about him that deep down, stop feeling scared and worried. Chase after him and whatever joy that’ll give you. Stop thinking so hard.”
Tsuzuru almost laughed. “It’s not that easy.”
“It’s easy as you care to make it for yourself.” Itaru stood up and started shuffling towards the door. He waved lazily over his shoulder. “Good luck on this quest, Minagi.”
“Don’t mention it. Also? Start tying a sock to your doorknob the next time you get down and diggity if you don’t want Masumi walking in.”
Tsuzuru tossed his hands into the air. “Is this some code I don’t know about? I’ve never heard about the sock on a doorknob thing until now.”
Itaru snorted. “You’ve got a long way to go yet, Minagi."
Don’t half ass it.
What was the obvious solution? Full ass it? Go as hard as he can, with no thought of the consequences? Was that it?
Maybe it was.
“Kumon, can you leave for a second?” he asked simply. “I need to speak to Misumi alone."
Kumon scratched his head. “Do I gotta?”
“Alright, alright.” The door shut behind him.
Misumi wasn’t looking at him.
The guilt was weighing in his stomach like a stone.
“I’m sorry,” Tsuzuru offered pathetically.
Misumi finally turned his head and offered an aching smile. “You don’t have to apologize for anything.”
“But I do.” Tsuzuru collapsed to his knees, more out of inability to keep himself standing than intent. He pressed his forehead to Misumi’s knee. The contact was like a dose of horse tranquilizer, turning the endlessly swirling thoughts to a silent drone. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”
Misumi leaned down to hold his face in his hands, tilting it upwards so they could look at each other. His gaze was warm.
“It’s okay,” Misumi said.
Tsuzuru’s chest hurt so badly. He pressed a kiss to Misumi’s knee, his hip, his shoulder, creeping higher and higher up. “I’m so sorry.”
“You don’t have to be.”
Misumi sighed and put his hand on the back of Tsuzuru’s neck, tugging him closer so they were pressing against each other. Melting.
“Tsuzu,” he said. “I confuse you, right?”
“Endlessly,” Tsuzuru confessed, wrecked and with no purpose left in hiding the truth. “All the time.”
“You confuse me too.”
That didn’t sound right. Tsuzuru was everything on the surface. He was simple, and easy to comprehend, and a background character that blended in seamlessly to the world so that no one would have to ponder about him any deeper.
“I don’t really get what you’re so busy thinking about all the time,” Misumi murmured into his ear. The tips of his fingers drew small circles on his spine, casting fiery hot sparks in their wake. “I do what I want to but you keep on wanting to justify yourself first. i don’t get it. I don’t think I ever will.”
What was there to say to that? “I’m sorry.”
“I’m sorry too.”
Wanting had never been a foreign concept to Tsuzuru. He wanted constantly. He wanted a break, he wanted financial stability, he wanted to be flagrantly self indulgent with his hobbies and spend the rest of his life cushy and writing stories. He wanted, wanted, wanted, all the time, balancing it out with rigid dedication towards cold reality and sense.
With Misumi, though, it was escapism at its finest.
Don’t I deserve good things? Don’t I deserve to stop cutting myself short? The selfishness shouted so loudly in his head.
Can’t I be as selfish as him?
Misumi leaned his forehead on Tsuzuru’s shoulder and he sighed again. “I like you.”
“I like you too.”
Tsuzuru’s cravings were so humiliating. He wanted to shake Misumi desperately, beg him to have some pity and whisk Tsuzuru away to Misumi’s world for a few spare moments. A world filled with things he loved, a world where he didn’t have to keep questioning whether he was allowed to want what he wanted. Hedonism? Mindless self indulgence?
“If you want to call it quits, I’ll listen to you,” Misumi whispered to him. His fingers stopped moving to clutch at the back of Tsuzuru’s shirt, fisting the fabric with a ferocity he rarely used outside of his acrobatics. “I won’t blame you. I won’t hurt you. I’ll forget about you and we can go back to being two different people in two different troupes. I promise.”
That hurt terribly.
“What if I want you to fight for me instead?” Tsuzuru asked. He laughed, weak and torn down, burying his nose into Misumi’s neck. “What if I don’t want you to forget about me? What if you’re the only fucking person left to tell me what I want when I can’t even admit it to myself?”
Misumi pulled away and smiled so painfully at him. “Then I will. But you need to tell me first. I have you figured out as much as you’ve got me.”
Which was zero, only phrased kinder.
“Please,” Tsuzuru wrenched out of himself. “Please.”
Misumi kissed him hard enough to drown out the thoughts. Like he always did. Tsuzuru melted into him.
“Breakfast,” the Director called, holding out a plate of eggs and bacon to Tsuzuru. Sakyo handed him his usual morning cup of coffee.
“Thank you,” Tsuzuru said.
Misumi turned around in his seat at the table and smiled at Tsuzuru as he neared.
“Good morning, Tsuzu!” he said brightly.
Tsuzuru smiled back at him. “Good morning.”
No, wait, don’t, think about all the—
He shoved away his inner monologue (bordering spiral) and kissed Misumi on his cheek.
Masumi and Itaru didn’t react. There were a few dropped jaws, raised eyebrows, but no one said anything. Misumi touched the cheek Tsuzuru’s lips had touched a few seconds prior, eyes filled with stars.
Kazunari slammed his hands on the table.
“WHAT!” he screeched.
“Chill out,” Masumi quipped harshly.
“BUT THEY JUST—?”
Itaru leaned over to flick Kazunari’s forehead. “Relax.”
Misumi tilted his head, refusing to tear his eyes from Tsuzuru’s face. “Since a while ago, Kazu.”
“AND YOU DIDN’T TELL ME?”
Tsuzuru collapsed into his own chair and he couldn’t help himself. He propped his head up with the heel of his palm to his forehead and laughed weakly at his eggs.
“Yeah,” he said at last. “We didn’t.”
Kazunari had never looked so insulted before. “What the heck!”
What the heck indeed.
Tsuzuru spared a sole glance up once more, only to catch Misumi staring at him with an incomprehensible fondness.
Tsuzuru jolted awake after a small nightmare where all of his teeth fell out.
Nightmares weren’t unfamiliar. His university’s guidance counselor had said that they were a common side effect of stress, and, well, if Tsuzuru didn’t know what stress was like, then maybe he didn’t know anything at all. He glanced down at the head of soft blue hair nestled in his chest. He hesitated. Spared a glance in Masumi’s direction, only to find that the bed was empty.
He buried his nose in Misumi’s hair.
The body curled against his stirred.
“Tsuzu?” Misumi murmured sleepily.
“Go back to sleep,” he whispered back.
With you next to me?
Is there anything I can do besides dream when you’re here?
“I will,” Tsuzuru told him.
Misumi kissed his topmost rip and nestled into his side even harder. “That’s good… Goodnight.”
I wish your dreams are nicer to you than mine are. I wish you’d have dreams filled with triangles and whatever else in this world you like so you can keep rising, day after day, with the same smile you always do.
Tsuzuru kissed the top of Misumi’s head and carded his fingers through his hair.
Misumi sighed softly into his shoulder. “Tsuzu.”
Tsuzuru closed his eyes. “I’m visiting my parents next week.”
“You should go with me. I want you to meet my brothers.”
Misumi shivered slightly. He tilted his head up. “Tsuzu… can you kiss me?”
“Where are you taking me?” Tsuzuru asked as he was yanked down the hall.
Misumi laughed but didn’t answer him. He kept his hold of Tsuzuru’s hand, forcing him up the stairs to the second floor, then his dorm.
Misumi turned around and spread his arms.
“You can take any triangle you want,” Misumi said. “All of them, even. I can get more. Or I’ll get triangles that remind me of you.”
Tsuzuru had written so many love confessions before.
Cherished, gentle words that professed undying adoration under full moons and flower petals. Soft and warm kisses that spoke what words couldn’t.
Naive of him.
This was what true love confessions were, he thought to himself, crumpling internally.
He took a few steps forward until he was right against Misumi, letting the outstretched arms hesitantly curl around him instead.
“Tsuzu?” Misumi inquired.
“Misumi means triangle, doesn’t it?” Tsuzuru said in reply. He touched Misumi’s neck, pressing his palm against his vein and losing himself to the thrum of a heart that wasn’t his own. “You’re the only triangle I really want. You can keep the rest, I promise."
Misumi laughed loudly and kissed him hard.
“Tsuzu,” he murmured against his lips. “All the other triangles are out of stock again, actually. I’m sorry I lied to you.”
“Are you jealous?”
Misumi sighed softly before he licked into Tsuzuru’s mouth, deepening their kiss. He pulled away after a few seconds to touch foreheads.
“I think I’d be jealous if you liked a triangle more than me,” Misumi said.
“I don’t think there’s a single polygon on this planet I’ll like more than you.”
Misumi groaned quietly. “I love you a lot.”
“I love you too,” Tsuzuru echoed.
And it was true.