Pairing: Kamio/An friendship, Ibu/Kamio, Shinji-allusions (and perhaps illusions) to Momoshiro/Kamio.
Rating: PG-13, at ze very most. Curses and kisses.
Notes: Written for spurious @ spring_fluff, slightly revised (in the 'I re-read it and fixed things like missing words and the few typos I'd missed' way).
Word Count: 4,875
Summary: "That's really annoying, you know? If you can't finish a sentence, then don't talk. If you wanna say something, then say it."
The day was warm, the air fresh and tainted slightly with the sweet scent of blossoming flowers. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and all in all it was an excellent Sunday to be out and about with friends playing tennis. Akira leaned back against the bench, eyes closed and ears open to the erratic rhythm of (Kamio-kun.) tennis balls hitting the ground and the squeaks of sneakers on asphalt. He'd finally caught his breath but had chosen to sit this game out and simply watch.
Somehow it wasn't really difficult for his eyes to adjust to the speed of the ball whizzing back and forth in front of him; in fact it even seemed a bit slow. (Kamio-kun.) Shinji was playing more carefully than he usually did, Fukuwa was diving for the ball in what Akira's brain played as slow motion. Back to Shinji, who miraculously managed to return the oddly angled shot and --
"Kamio-kun!" An repeated for the third time, voice taking on a very small and not-quite noticeable irritated twinge. Akira shook his head slightly and peered at the hand on his shoulder, then cast a confused look to his friend.
"An-chan?" Wait, what happened? Who died who got hurt where was... The bewildered look on his face remained.
"Are you okay?" The irritation was gone from her voice and replaced with something else: worry, and maybe just the slightest hint of motherly. "You had this really funny look on your face and you were just sort of staring into thin air." Without so much as an invitation she slipped onto the bench beside him, her purse dropped onto her lap and a still-cold can of juice extracted and offered.
"Eh?" He took the can and popped the tab, taking a long drink before finally responding. "Yeah, fine, nothin' wrong. Just a little winded." Had he been staring? Well, maybe a little. But only out of very minor concern for his friend. Really now, it was Shinji. There wasn't much to stare at... except that little wrinkle he got between his eyes when he was concentrating and the nervous tuck of hair back behind his ear... ending that thought.
An didn't particularly look as if she believed him. A tiny, secretive little smile curled on her lips and upon the questioning look she got from the boy beside her, she finally elaborated. "You're smitten." She'd seen the very same look on him not four months ago, however this time it wasn't directed at her. She had long since made it clear she had no interest in him in any way other than 'just friends', and he'd long since come to terms with that fact and kindly reciprocated the sentiment.
Akira's cheeks took on a slightly pink tinge and his head ducked in a vain attempt to hide it behind is hair. "An-chaaaaan! You know I don't," he paused for a moment. "Think of you like that. Not anymore." He'd accepted that she plain wasn't interested, and at some point or another had realized that his silly little school-boy crush had stemmed from nothing more than that she was a cute girl who played tennis, and actually talked to him. Not exactly circumstances in which one would declare their undying love for someone (though truth be told, he did adore her - she was smart and funny, she wasn't a shallow leech like most of the girls in their school - but his adoration was probably more akin to the love An had for Gokutora.)
"Not me." Her smile grew wider. "Ibu-kun. I have eyes, you know." Eyes that spent quite a bit of time people-watching, particularly if those people were her friends. She'd learned plenty just by watching - Ishida-kun had a girlfriend a year younger he'd never actually mentioned, Uchimura-kun was a surprisingly good basketball player for his size and Sakurai-kun had to be one of the best artists she knew (though he tended to hide his sketchbook the second he noticed anyone around). She'd come to recognize many of her brother's team's little quirks; the little nervous tics they had and just what exactly they looked like when they were angry or amused and were trying not to show it.
The blush on Akira's face deepened and his eyes widened, head shaking fervently. "Wrong! It's just that he borrowed my ankle weights and I wanted to make sure they weren't too heavy for him. He could get hurt or somethin', and it's my job as vice-captain to make sure that doesn't happen." But he knew it was a lie (sort-of), even if just a tiny fib. There was something about Shinji that had caught his attention, but even now he wasn't quite sure what it was. He wasn't gay, but Akira had never really believed in the 'man and wife' thing - if you loved somebody you loved somebody, regardless of gender. If you wanted to be with them, it didn't matter if you weren't of the opposite sexes.
The way the boy was acting now only gave An further proof that she was right. But sometimes it was better to back down and let a person find their own way (plus, if Onii-chan caught wind of her meddling, he'd be angry with her). "If you say so, Kamio-kun~."
A loud and somewhat annoying song suddenly blared from somewhere to the side; Akira quickly snatching up his racquet bag to fish his phone out of the pocket and flip it open. "Yeah? Uh, at the street court with An-chan and Shinji and some of the other guys. Eh? Fu-" He caught himself from letting out an expletive that the woman on the other line would surely have his tail for. "Damnit! I forgot, sorry mom. Yeah, I'll go get her. Bye." He flipped the phone closed and stuffed it in his pocket, hopping to his feet and gathering his things. "Sorry, An-chan. Have to go pick my cousin up from the train station."
Grabbing up his things and polishing off his soda he gave the girl an apologetic smile before dashing towards the bike rack, hollering over his shoulder. "Tell Shinji I'll get my stuff back from him later on tonight!" With that he'd hopped onto his bike and zoomed off, leaving An to herself and whatever evil plan she may have been concocting.
Several weeks of the usual swiping of clothes and borrowed gadgets passed, and Akira wasn't any closer to an answer than he had been on that clear Sunday An had so kindly decided to point a few things out to him on. Nothing had changed, they were still the same (damn Shinji still had his favourite hoodie) and any time he actually tried to talk to Shinji, the world decided to turn against him. Someone needed help, the school bell rang, he got yet another angry phone call from his mother - or worst of all, his tongue seemed to simply swell up in his mouth and he'd simply say "Never mind." and walk away.
A freak storm had ended the day's practice early, and in wanting to try and wait until the rain let up a bit before trying to go home Akira had decided to stay behind in the locker room. At the very least, he could do some of the paperwork he'd been putting off doing for Tachibana-san - what their lineup was going to be for the next tournament, how much training schedules needed to be adjusted in order to improve and just who was going to provide the drinks for their next team meeting. Akira sat hunched over a small desk in the corner of the room, chewing on his lip and tapping the tip of his pencil on the table.
"I thought you went home?" A soft voice broke through the pounding of rain on the building's tin roof - lead snapped and the table shifted, the chair toppling over and clattering on the floor.
"Shit, man! Don't do that!" Akira's knuckles were nearly white with the strength they gripped the edge of the table with, a slightly wild and freaked out look in his eyes. He'd never been one who took being surprised easily, particularly when he'd been alone. Damnit. He gulped down several deep breaths and tried to calm his racing heart, head shaking slightly to clear it and finally answer the question. "Rain. I thought you went home, anyway."
"I left my-- your sweatshirt. Tachibana-san gave me the key." Shinji replied simply, holding up a small ring of keys dangling from his finger. Clearly it wasn't anything out of the ordinary to see the other teen freak out for some reason or another, so he simply let it be. "I was going to give it back to you after practice, but then it started raining so I was just going to go over to your house and give it to you because I couldn't find you... I got halfway home before I noticed I didn't have have it, so Tachibana-san gave me the key to come back and get it so I could give it to you. But here you are." Shinji finally left his spot by the door to paw around in his locker and yanking out the sweatshirt in question and tossed it towards the other boy. "Here."
Akira caught the sweatshirt easily and righted his chair, flopping back down into it. "Thanks." Well, at least that was something good - getting caught in the rain and sitting around in a cold room in wet clothes hadn't exactly been one of the day's high points. Without a word Akira stripped off his still-damp shirt and tugged the dry - and most importantly, warm - sweatshirt over his head. Much better, and he hadn't even seemed to notice that Shinji had been more or less staring at him the entire time.
Moving to hang his shirt up somewhere where it would hopefully dry a bit, Akira looked out the window, a small frown on his face when his thoughts had been confirmed: the rain definitely wasn't letting up any time soon. "Damn. I just wanna go home and make myself a little nest in front of the tv for the next few days. Fuckin' rain. It's too far to walk in this, what a freakin' day to have a flat tire on my bike." He grumbled, mostly to himself.
Shinji leaned back against his locker, arms folding loosely over his chest and gaze fixed on Akira. He chewed on his lip for a moment while the other teen continued to quietly rant about the rain (what was so bad about rain? He liked it, it made things grow and was like the planet's way of giving itself a bath.) Finally, he spoke. "My house is closer than yours. If we ran, we could make it in..." He eyed the clock ticking high on the opposite wall. "Eight minutes. Assuming we don't have to stop for cars."
Here Akira weighed his options - he could stay here and finish his work (and probably freeze), but be dry; or he could forgo his work another night, get wet for ten minutes and camp out at Shinji's until the rain let up. At the very least, at Shinji's he could have dry clothes (half of which were probably his own, anyway) and some company. "I'll go. I think you still have my Psycho le Cemu cd, anyway." He grinned, gathering up the papers on the desk and shoving them back into their manila folder, and finally shoving everything back into the desk.
A quick, hot shower and a change of dry clothes had been enough to lift Akira's mood. Other than the dull murmur of the television the house was fairly quiet; Shinji's sisters and parents weren't home and probably wouldn't be for another several hours. After raiding the fridge and making themselves nests of blankets, the boys had simply curled up and vegged out, chatting idly and flipping through the channels.
It wasn't so much that they were alone together that had begun to make Akira just a bit nervous, but more of that since that chat with An-chan, he hadn't been alone with Shinji for more than about five minutes before running away. What the hell was he scared of, anyway? Even if he did finally say something, it wasn't like Shinji would treat him like he had some weird problem or something afterward, if he said no. Nothing would change (Akira could only hope, at least) and their friendship would still be the same.
"Hey, Shinji." Akira shifted under his pile of blankets, arms plopping down on top of them so he could actually see his friend. When Shinji's gaze finally left the tv and focused on him, Akira faltered. He sat staring for a moment before finally shaking his head to clear his thoughts and try again. Shinji took it as yet another "Never mind."
"That's really annoying, you know? If you can't finish a sentence, then don't talk. If you wanna say something, then say it." A small frown furrowed Shinji's brow and his nose wrinkled - he wasn't particularly pleased with having his... engaging television show interrupted.
"Oh no, ain't that. Just forgot what I was going to say. Uh, see, I got these tickets to a live tomorrow night and I asked An-chan if she wanted to go with me, but she said she was gonna be busy washing her hair or whatever it is that girls say when they don't wanna go out with someone and that I should ask you." ...Only now that he really thought about it, Akira had just now figured out why exactly An had said that. The sneaky little fox! But then, it wasn't like he and Shinji hadn't ever gone out to see whatever band Akira was into at the moment or gone out for burgers or something after practice, so maybe it was the same as then?
He sunk back down into his blankets in some effort to hide the fact he was blushing again. Damnit, An! he thought. How could you do this to me? It took another moment for him to remember that Shinji was still watching him, and he finally finished his thought. "So uh, wanna go with me? I mean, if you don't, that's cool, I'll see if that Momoshiro jerk wants to go - he's really not as bad as I thought he was at first, he's kinda fun once you get used to him and I heard he likes the band and he's got some really cool--" The only reason Akira finally fell silent was the pillow that had been flung at his head.
"You talk too much." Shinji grunted, and Akira realized that he had indeed been rambling (Momoshiro, what the hell?). "Yeah, I'll go. Parents won't be back 'till late and sisters are spending the night with that one girl. That is, unless you'd rather go on your date with Momoshiro."
Buh? "D-date? With him?" Despite the red flush on his cheeks Akira's head popped back over the blankets to stare at Shinji as if the other teen had suddenly sprouted a horn and fairy wings. "Have you gone mad?"
"You like him, don't you? You're always such a dick to him, though, but I guess that's what my mom meant when she told Mitsuko that the boys in her class only pick on her because they like her, but Momoshiro's a guy so I'm not sure if it works that way, too?" Whatever disappointment Shinji's voice held seemed to go unnoticed.
...Like...Momoshiro... Akira was seriously considering the possibility of Shinji needing to get his head checked. His face reddened even more as Shinji continued to talk (he really wasn't listening anymore) and finally cut in. "Wait, wait wait wait hold the phone! Who the hell told you I like that jackass? All I said that he wasn't quite as much of an idiot once you get to know him."
"An-chan. Well, she said you liked someone I know, but it wasn't her anymore or something. And you have to admit you go off about him a lot. It's like listening to a broken record, 'Momoshiro this, Momoshiro that, Momoshiro needs to get his grubby paws off of An-chan, Momoshiro Momoshiro Momoshiro'."
"I. Do. Not. Like. Momoshiro!" Akira huffed. He could've kicked himself, he should've just come out and said something to begin with. With a bit of a struggle he extracted himself from his pile of blankets, crossing the room to snatch up the clothes that had been hanging to dry and shoving them into his bag. "Look, I gotta go, rain let up a bit and mom'll have my neck. See ya tomorrow, I'll come get you around seven." Gear packed up and bag tossed over his shoulder Akira made his way towards the front door and yanked it open, yelling back into the house. "She's right! But it ain't him." Somehow Akira managed to bite back the, 'It's you, stupid.' and shut the door behind himself.
Bloody hell, this was a mess.
After he'd left Shinji's the night had seemed to drag on, and the next day Akira could've sworn that time had stopped completely. How many times had he looked at the clock, only to notice that it was only five minutes later? Akira leaned back in his computer chair, cursing himself for the nth time for running off the second Shinji had mentioned even the possibility of him liking someone? 'Grow some balls and tell him', An would say to him, using that tone of voice and cute little smile that one would expect if she were talking about her new kitten or something.
But An was right, he did have to say something, somehow. He didn't know how the hell he was going to manage it, but he'd overcome tougher obstacles before, right? He'd told her he liked her, hadn't he? So shouldn't it have been a piece of cake to just come straight out and say 'Hey Shinji, I like you'? Ha. If it was so easy, why was that sick feeling still burrowed in the pit of his stomach?
Akira had been so caught up in thinking about what he was going to say that he hadn't noticed how much time had passed, and by the time he'd haphazardly thrown on a pair of loose jeans and a ripped t-shirt, he had all of ten minutes to get to Shinji's by the time he'd said he'd be there. By the time he'd gotten to Shinji's house he was panting heavily and practically dripping with sweat, but at least he'd made it (three minutes late, which was enough time for Shinji to send five text messages asking where he was, apparently).
The bus ride to the train station and the train ride to the venue had been fairly uneventful, Akira had managed to get his breath back and his clothes dried a bit, and Shinji had even handed him a comb to fix his hair at some point or another.
It wasn't until they were well into the line outside a rather small-looking building amongst a crowd of kids their own age, maybe older that Akira found his voice again. "Hey." He chewed on his lip and tugged at Shinji's sleeve, trying to catch the other boy's attention. Once Shinji had stopped staring off into space he finished his thought. "Sorry about yesterday. Not your fault, shouldn't have yelled at ya." Even if Shinji had said possibly one of the stupidest things on the planet.
"Huh? Oh, it's fine. You yell all the time and I'm kind-of used to it, I just would've thought you would've told me first, but I guess not." Shinji simply shrugged and resumed staring off into space (was that girl even wearing a shirt?)
Whatever it was Akira had been about to say was lost when Shinji's words finally filtered through the din of a hundred other voices. "Wait a sec, I would've told you what first?" Had Shinji actually gotten a damn clue?
"That you had a crush on someone," Shinji replied absentmindedly. "You told me about An-chan, and you told me about that one time Yura-senpai asked you to go out with her and when Fukuwa told you he thought you were cute or somethin' and--"
Akira quickly ushered Shinji forward when the line began to move. "Right, time to go!" Tickets were tugged out of his pocket and handed to the (rather scary-looking) man at the door as they made their way in. The room was dark and crowded, the opening band was still setting up on the stage at the far end of the building and over the occasional excited shriek of a concert-goer a few guitar riffs could be heard. Sound check. Right, they'd made it in on time.
Akira scanned the crowd for a decent spot to watch the show from, and once found he grabbed ahold of Shinji again and tugged him through the mass of bodies. After they'd shoved their way through a few groups of people he finally stopped and leaned in closer to his friend to ensure he would be heard over the noise. "I didn't think it was that important." But, of course, it was, and damn it all if Shinji couldn't always pick up on these things one way or another.
Shinji perked a brow as his head tilted closer. "Who cares if it isn't important? As the best friend - I think anyway - I deserve to know everything even if it is really stupid and pointless."
Snorting, Akira shook his head. "Yeah, right. Like you've told me everything about everything you've ever done."
"Haven't I? Or at least if I haven't actually said anything because you usually tell me to shut up anyway, I know most stuff I made totally obvious."
"'I played tennis with Kiriyama-senpai yesterday' doesn't exactly count. And here, forgot to give you this back earlier." Fishing through one of his pants pockets Akira then pulled out a cd case and handed it over.
"No offense, but you're kind of stupid." Shinji tucked the case into his own pocket and turned to face Akira, eyes narrowing just the slightest bit. "And here, forgot to give you this, too." He didn't wait for Akira's puzzled 'but I haven't loaned you anything lately' expression to fade and leaned in closer, catching the other's lips in a short but not necessarily chaste kiss.
Akira's cheeks once again were aflame when Shinji pulled away. His jaw dropped slightly and mouth flapped wordlessly for a moment as he tried to bring his thoughts back together and regain the ability to speak. What the hell had just happened? Akira knew he sometimes tended to not give Shinji credit where he deserved it in regards to figuring things out, but this time maybe it had been he himself who could've used a bit of work. "I-you. Uh."
At the very least, if he wasn't reading the whole 'Shinji just kissed you, idiot' thing incorrectly, that cleared a few things up. And Shinji was beginning to look a little uncomfortable and maybe like he was regretting what he'd just done... bah. "It's you." Akira finally blurted out, face flushing a hot red. There. He'd said it.
Shinji looked up again, but this time it was he who was confused. "It's me, what?"
"An-chan said it was someone you knew, right? You know yourself." This was damned embarrassing and Akira really, really wished he hadn't just said that in a very public place where anyone could've heard him.
It hit Shinji then. He hadn't been wrong - he hadn't been wrong in thinking the way he had been about his so-called best friend, and he hadn't been wrong in kissing him. "And you didn't tell me." He replied, almost accusingly.
Akira didn't particularly care that the band had started playing or that people were pressing even closer - if he'd managed to get this far, he was going to go all the way, damnit. "Because I thought it was just another stupid little fanboy crush. Like that thing with An-chan. But..." he moved in closer, chewing on his lip and looking everywhere but directly at his friend. "It wasn't. Sorry."
"You talk too much. The show's started." Shinji couldn't help but feel happy, and it showed by the barely-there smile that remained on his face.
The following weeks had been a bit less awkward for Akira, even if the occasional awkward situation still arose. They had actually been dating now for two weeks and four days (according to the vicious red mark on his calendar) and things so far seemed to be holding out fairly well. His own feelings hadn't yet wavered, and every time Akira began to get the classic 'what if something goes wrong, what if this ruins our friendship' thing, Shinji ended up doing something so, well, sweet that Akira couldn't help but punch that tiny little nagging feeling back into the pit of his stomach and leaving it there.
Honestly, their relationship hadn't changed all that much, the only real difference was the occasional stolen kiss, embarrassing comment and a few rounds somewhat-secretive hand-holding. Their first real kiss had been far from fantastic; clumsy and nervous and neither of them really had a clue as to what they were actually supposed to be doing. It quickly became less embarrassing and more natural (Shinji seemed to want to take every chance he could get), and Akira was certain he hadn't been able to stay in this good of a mood for this long... well, ever.
It seemed that every time one of his friends wound up with a new boyfriend or girlfriend, there was always someone trying to declare their undying love for someone they'd only been with for a few days - pure nonsense, in Akira's mind. It was far too early for that sort of silly thing. (Akira.) Yeah, he had that sort of platonic love and sense of security around Shinji that any two people who had been through a lot together would have, but he certainly wasn't ready to say 'Hey, I love you' in the same way his parents or newlyweds would.
Shinji, it turned out, wasn't exactly ready either. They both had come to some sort of silent agreement - they'd wait and see where the future took them, and for now they'd simply live in the moment. If they fought, they fought. That was nothing new. Akira knew Shinji just as well as Shinji knew Akira; while they both knew that they tended to get a bit hotheaded (Akira.) and say things they didn't really mean when they were angry or frustrated, they also knew that eventually they could work things out in one way or another.
An, naturally, continued to pursue one of her favourite pastimes: embarrassing Akira with silly comments and dragging out answers to a few more personal questions regarding his relationship with Shinji. There were plenty of times where Akira thought that if he didn't think she could beat the living shit out of him (and if he really had the heart to), he could smack her for gaining enjoyment from his suffering. However, it had been more-or-less An's nudging that had gotten him to say something (however little that something may have been) to Shinji, so he figured maybe she did have the right to know some details. ...Just not all of them.
"A. Ki. Ra." Shinji's voice broke Akira's train of thought and a head of red hair snapped up to stare at him.
"Huh?" Akira managed to push out with all the eloquence of a drugged cow.
"Classes ended twenty minutes ago. C'mon, we're going to be late and Tachibana-san will have us running laps all practice if you don't hurry up."
"Oh. Right. Coming." Akira sat back in his seat and stretched his cramped muscles before finally standing and grabbing his bookbag. Daydreaming again, damnit, he thought to himself with mild disgust. He joined Shinji at the classroom door and tilted his head, a small peck of a kiss landing on Shinji's cheek before a slightly wicked grin curled on his lips. "Race ya."
Shinji didn't even have a chance, but maybe that was okay. He had the chance he'd really wanted, and he'd taken it.