Author : Arlyn Jayde
E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org
Rating : R
Pairing : Naoki Jo/Shugo Urabe
Archive : Battle School, anyone else ask first
Spoilers : Not really, takes place before the events in Battle Royale 2
Disclaimer : Don’t know them, don’t own them, don’t sue me.
Summary : It’s the little things that mean a lot.
x-posted to valmontheights, br_slash and battle_fics
Noone knows what we've been through
Making it ain't making it without you
“They’re talking about you.”
“Give me a break.”
“How would you know?”
“They’ve been giggling and whispering and looking at you for the last five minutes.”
“Maybe it’s you, not me.”
“Oh, get real…how many love notes did you get? Six? Seven?”
“Right. It’s you, my friend. No doubt about it.”
Shugo sighed deeply and took another sip out of his orange juice. Beside him, the equally dateless Wataru Mukai had been trying to convince him that a group of five or six 2nd graders, clustered at the opposite end of the hall, had been stealing glances Shugo’s way for the entire evening and were undoubtedly discussing him in all their giggly merriment. Shugo found this hard to believe, even if they did seem to blush and turn away whenever he cast his eyes their way. Most of the rugby team were hanging around the snack table, while the more enthusiastic attendants were on the floor dancing to the tunes being played by a DJ someone had managed to hire from a downtown club. The hall was decorated with lanterns hung from strings criss-crossing above their heads, multi-colored spotlights in corner fixtures, and some genius had even decided to hang a disco ball for good measure.
“What are we in, the 80’s?” he commented.
“Ah, you know those 2nd graders…it’s all about flash.” Wataru said. “I heard they had financial help, though, from Morishima’s father.”
“Doesn’t surprise me…” Shugo said. Their classmate Tatsuro Morishima was the son of a well-known local businessman and Shikanotoride graduate, and it was said that his money was largely responsible for keeping the school running amidst all of its problems.
Folding chairs had been set up in rows lining the walls of the hall, and Shugo could see Asuka and Shintaro sitting down together and sharing an intimate chat. Asuka looked pretty in a short white dress and a necklace adorning her slender neck, while her boyfriend had likewise dressed up for the occasion. Nao and Taku were nearby, the long-haired girl pointing out sights or people that interested her while Taku looked like he wished he was somewhere else. Haruya was also at the snack table, where Masami Shibaki was using his best friend’s body to shield him as he tried to spike his orange juice with vodka.
“Where’s your date?” Shugo asked Haruya.
“Restroom.” Haruya said.
Shibaki shoved the tiny flask of vodka back into his pocket and lifted his glass of juice, saluting his friends before taking a sip. “Perfect.”
“Where’s Sagisawa?” Wataru asked.
“Over there with her tennis team friends…” Shibaki gestured at a corner. “Here, try this.”
Wataru took a sip of the spiked juice and whistled. “Perfect.”
“Hey, hey…” Haruya nudged his friends. “Isn’t that…Maezono?”
Shibaki frowned. “Where?”
Shugo looked towards the direction Haruya pointed. Indeed, just walking through the entrance was Kenji Maezono, though he was hard to recognize without his leather jacket and chains, but the spiky hair was still there. Shugo smiled—if that outfit was Naoki’s piece of work, then he couldn’t wait to see what the other Shubultz boy was wearing. He had to admit that Maezono, while not the most photogenic, looked good in the clothes he was wearing—the tailored leather jacket a reminder of his daily identity, the normally loud leather and metal adornments now tactfully muted, but his greatest accessory was no doubt the girl hanging off his arm.
“Is that…Eri Yoshiyama?” Wataru asked.
“That’s her.” Shugo nodded.
“Man, she looks…” Shibaki said.
“Beautiful.” Wataru and Haruya said in unison.
“I didn’t know they were an item.”
“They are.” Shugo said.
The other three turned to him. “How’d you know?”
Shugo feigned nonchalance and tried to look surprised. “How’d you not? It’s been going on for, like, two weeks now.”
The three rugby players fixed him with a confused look.
“You didn’t notice at all?”
They shook their heads.
“Man…” Shugo shook his head. “I must really have too much free time.”
Haruya, who must’ve figured out how Shugo actually came by that knowledge, gave a shrug of his shoulders. “Well, whatever they are…they sure look close.”
Wataru frowned. “Yeah, but…Yoshiyama? All we got were love notes from some giggly, silly 2nd graders and he got Yoshiyama?”
“Oh, come on, Wataru…” Shibaki threw an arm around Wataru’s shoulder. “Don’t tell me you’re jealous of him?”
Wataru snorted. “Jealous of a Shubultz Cuts member. Now that’s unheard of.”
Shugo smiled. Neither is fucking one, I imagine.
“I think it’s time for a cigarette break.” Shibaki said. “Outside, guys.”
“What about your dates?” Shugo asked.
“They’ll manage.” Shibaki said and yanked Haruya’s hand. “Come on…”
Haruya, who by all accounts didn’t smoke but seemed more than happy to follow his best friend, went with him. Wataru gave a ‘what the hell’ shrug and went after him. Shugo cast a glance around the hall. If Maezono was here, then that meant Naoki was here, too. He wouldn’t have decided not to show up without telling Shugo, he knew that, so he had to be here somewhere. Not seeing Naoki anywhere in the hall, Shugo decided to follow his friends outside. They got out through one of the side entrances, first coming into the corridor that surrounded the hall on all four sides. Shibaki found an unlocked exit and soon they were outside, on the canopied walkway, lit every few metres by a neon fixture.
“Cold…” Wataru said as he pulled out his cigarettes.
Shibaki lit one and offered Shugo another, who declined just to keep Haruya company in the non-smoking department. The four boys sat down on a bench, Haruya leaning heavily against Shibaki’s shoulder.
“It’s getting kinda boring in there…” he muttered.
“What, with Kuze?” Shugo asked.
“No, Kuze’s fine…” Haruya said. “She said it’s okay if I don’t wanna hang around her all the time, as long as we dance together at least once and I take her home.”
“Sounds like a good deal to me.” Shibaki said, nosing Haruya’s red-bronze tresses. “Though my date just pretty much abandoned me the second we entered the room. Wonder why she agreed in the first place.”
“Wonder why you asked…” Wataru muttered.
“Figured might as well,” the Kansai boy said. “If I knew you and Shugo were going without dates I wouldn’t have bothered.”
“I’m too lazy to ask around…” Wataru said. “And none of the notes I got interested me. I only got a few, anyway. Unlike Shugo, here—he got ten.” Wataru patted Shugo’s shoulder. “I don’t know why you didn’t go for one of them, though…you’re not being too picky, are you?”
Shugo smiled. “No. I just don’t want a date. That’s all.”
“So why’d you come, anyway?”
“Well, you’re all here, aren’t you?” Shugo reasoned. “I don’t know, maybe I was expecting something good to happen.”
Wataru snorted. “What can possibly happen here?”
“Excuse me…” a voice suddenly called out. “…any of you got a light?”
All four of them turned their heads in the direction of the voice, and when he saw who was standing there Shugo’s heart nearly tore its way out of his chest.
Naoki Jo stood there, dressed to kill, the way the clothes hung off his body making Shugo’s knees weak. He had a smart-looking black jacket on, worn over a gray sweater, and a pair of trousers that were not of his usual baggy styling, worn closer to the body. He was even more sparsely accessorized than Maezono—if he accessorized at all. Shugo only saw the bracelet he’d given Naoki, and his mother’s ring. Even so, he looked nothing short of drop-dead gorgeous. Shugo didn’t know whether his friends’ silence was more in shock to the way the Shubultz Cuts member looked, or shock that he’d actually greeted them, in the manner that he did. Naoki approached them, looking not the least bit uneasy, and repeated his question.
Shibaki looked a little apprehensive, while Haruya stared back and forth between Shugo and Naoki. It was Wataru who finally snapped out of his trance and threw his lighter Naoki’s direction, the gangmember catching it and using it to light the cigarette he was holding. He then tossed the lighter back to Wataru, who caught it, eyes still transfixed on their intruder.
“Thanks…” Naoki muttered and turned back, beginning to walk away.
“What…was that?” Shibaki’s voice was hardly there.
“That was Naoki Jo.” Haruya said.
“What…did he just do?”
“He asked us for a light.” Haruya said again. “Masami, are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” Shibaki said. “I’m wondering if he is.”
As if on cue, Naoki suddenly turned back towards them, which made the other three alarmed but Shugo could only stare with his mouth half-open, still in shock over Naoki’s initial appearance.
“I forgot something…” the handsome gangmember said.
“W-what?” Wataru stuttered.
“Mind if I borrow your friend here for a little while?” Naoki pointed, rather unabashedly, at Shugo.
Shugo stared blankly at him, not sure if he’d heard right. But Naoki’s hand changed from a pointing finger into an open palm, as if beckoning him to take it. Beside Shugo, Shibaki tensed up considerably.
“Jo, what are you—” Shibaki began.
“Sure, go ahead.” Haruya cut him off, ignoring the dumbfounded stare Shibaki and Wataru gave him.
“Thanks, Sakurai.” Naoki smiled at Haruya—smiled, for God’s sake, and Shugo could tell even Haruya was surprised by it. They probably had never seen Naoki smile before. “Promise, I’ll return him in one piece.”
Somehow, Shugo managed enough strength in his wobbly legs to stand up and take Naoki’s extended hand, and without further delay the taller boy led him away from his friends, and he could feel their eyes staring after them every inch of the way, but Shugo stayed silent. He was still in shock, first that Naoki had appeared out of nowhere, dressed the way he was, second and even more so because he’d just as blatantly as possible asked Shugo to go with him in front of his clueless friends, save for Haruya. Naoki held his hand firmly and led him towards the back of the building, his silence a sign for Shugo that he should keep his, too.
“What, for fuck’s sake, was that?!” Masami asked.
Haruya threw his arms around the Kansai boy’s shoulders and smiled. “That was Naoki Jo asking if he could borrow Shugo for a while.”
“Uh…guys…am I missing something here?” Wataru asked.
“No, you saw the whole thing…” Haruya told him.
Masami turned his neck around to stare up into Haruya. “You know something, don’t you?”
Haruya blinked innocently. “Know what?”
“Haruya, what’s going on? What’s up with them?”
“You’ll have to ask Shugo when he gets back…if he gets back.” Haruya said calmly. “On second thought, ask him on Monday.”
Masami frowned at him. “Haruya, just what the hell was that all about?”
“Shhh…” Haruya placed an admonishing finger on his lips. “You speak too much, Masami…”
“Come here…” Haruya spun him around and caught his lips in a kiss, sweet yet forceful, and despite himself he felt Masami respond to it, his arms going instinctively around Haruya’s body.
“Okay, that’s it! I’m outta here.” he heard Wataru’s voice say. “Too much weirdness for one night.”
Once they reached the back of the building, the only side which didn’t have access doors and was completely hidden from view, Naoki backed Shugo up against the wall and proceeded to kiss him fiercely, giving Shugo no time to ask questions. Not that he wanted to, anyway. In the darkness behind his closed eyes he felt Naoki’s lips prying his open, that familiar tongue snaking inside, and two strong hands held him by his hips and pressed him against the wall, the buckles and snaps missing but replaced by a fabric warmth against his chest.
“Shugo…” he heard his name whispered reverently, and his knees nearly gave out on him.
“That was…” Shugo fought to speak over his ragged breathing. “That was rather reckless of you, you know.” he tried to sound angry but failed miserably.
“Reckless?” Naoki cocked an eyebrow. “Oh no, not reckless…just bold.”
Shugo looked up at the other boy’s face, no light falling across it to illuminate its details but he didn’t need any. “Do you actually want them to know…about us? I’m going to have to fend off some pretty heated questions next Monday.”
Naoki kissed the tip of his nose. “The question, Shugo…is whether or not you really want to fend them off.”
Shugo shook his head. “Shibaki is going to give me hell for this…”
“Why would he? It’s not like you objected to him being with Sakurai.” Naoki said. “And Sakurai would certainly back you up on this one.”
“Naoki…are you drunk?”
The taller boy laughed, his fingers cradling the back of Shugo’s neck. “No.”
“Good.” Shugo traced his hands up Naoki’s torso. “Because I am.”
“Huh?” Naoki stared blankly at him.
Shugo pulled the other boy close by the collar of his jacket and pressed their bodies tightly together. “You gotta dress like this more often…got me high faster than any weed.”
Naoki got his point and pressed against him even closer. “Seeing me dressed like this gets you high?”
A hand skimmed up his thigh and fondled his ass roughly. “Does it turn you on?”
“Yeah…” Shugo’s voice was whimper-thin. “Naoki…”
A pair of moist lips latched onto his neck and sucked hungrily, and the rubbing of Naoki’s lower body against his became more persistent, making Shugo’s head swim. But then, just as abruptly as it had begun, it ended. Naoki pulled away, a sudden whiff of cold air passing between their now-heated bodies, and Shugo trembled violently, wrapping his arms tightly around himself.
“Come…” Naoki held out his hand again. “I’ve got plans for us.”
Smiling, Shugo took his hand with a firm sureness this time around, and Naoki led him towards the steep, circular stairway which led to the roof of the hall building. Shugo gave him a curious look, but the other boy said nothing. He merely gestured at Shugo to go first, beckoning him towards the stairs. Shugo looked up at the steps apprehensively. They were steep, and despite the presence of a guardrail he felt a little uneasy, especially since the roof seemed such a long way from the ground.
“I’ll make sure you don’t fall…” Naoki’s voice said from behind him. “I always do, don’t I?”
A flutter began to form in Shugo’s stomach at these words, and he began to climb his way up the steps. The railing was very cold to his touch, and it seemed to grow colder as he went higher, but always there would be a comforting warmth from behind him, Naoki’s gentle nudging of his body, the reassuring words that strengthened his resolve. Shugo had a dislike of heights, not really in the phobia sense but still he much preferred to be on solid ground. With Naoki guarding his back, though, he was sure he’d be willing to climb his way up a skyscraper, if need be.
I’ll make sure you don’t fall.
The hall had a flat roof perimeter, but it also had a section which was made of strengthened glass and formed a curve over the hall, allowing the sunlight to come through on daytime. It was perhaps the most extravagant touch in what was otherwise a very ordinary building, but as Shugo had never been on the roof before he didn’t realize just how the structure was built. The glass section began out of a raised platform, forming a ledge where people could actually sit and stare down at whatever activities were happening below, inside the hall. Tonight, the glass seemed to glow with the yellowish light coming from the lanterns below, and Shugo had to admit that it looked beautiful. Naoki led him around the roof, until they finally arrived at the side of the roof opposite the stairs that had led them there. And when he saw what had been laid out for him, Shugo let out a soft gasp.
Most of the glass of the transparent roof was dirty and grimy, since not even the caretakers seemed to want to take on the arduous task of cleaning it up. But in one section, at least four panels of glass closest to the ledge had been wiped perfectly clean, allowing a clear view into the activities below. What’s more, was that the ledge surrounding that clean area had been strewn with small candles, each of them lit and protected from the wind by holders fashioned out of plastic cups. The candles were arranged in such a way that it left a clear area of the ledge, perfectly positioned for someone to sit down and look into what was going on below, and on that clear patch sat a pair of boxes, containing what seemed to be food of some sort. Shugo spun quickly around to face Naoki.
“Did you do this?”
Naoki made shrug of feigned innocence. “I thought there was nothing wrong with doing something really special once in awhile…”
Shugo didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. He decided on an odd mixture of both, clasping his hands on either side of Naoki’s face and pulling him down for a gentle kiss.
“Naoki Jo…the romantic fool.” he said. “Who would’ve thought?”
“Only for you.” the other boy replied calmly.
“You are incomparable, Naoki…do you know that?”
Naoki threw his arms around Shugo’s waist. “It takes one to know one.”
He led Shugo towards the ledge, where he took the boxes and allowed Shugo to sit down.
“I couldn’t get anything fancy…takeout doesn’t really lend itself to a lot of class—but hey, not like you’d mind, right?” Naoki offered Shugo one of the boxes.
Shugo could only shake his head and smile as he accepted the box, still speechless. He looked around at the strewn candles and thought what on earth had possessed Naoki to do all this, but whatever it was, he was thankful for it. Nobody, not a single person in his life had ever gone out of their way to do something like this for him before, to do something special for him and him alone. If he ever needed any reassurance that he was indeed one of the most important things in Naoki’s life now, this was more than enough. From inside his pocket, Naoki produced a small bottle of what looked like liquor, and Shugo had to squint to read the brand on the bottle clearly.
“Whiskey…” Naoki said. “It’ll keep us warm. Sorry, I forgot to buy a glass.”
“That’s all right…” Shugo said. He waited for Naoki to settle down, opening the bottle and placing it between them on the ledge and sitting down with his own box.
“Well, let’s eat, then.” Naoki said. “And enjoy the view.”
Shugo looked down. The lantern strings obstructed his view somewhat but he could still see the figures that were dancing below, even pick out the individuals he knew, and it wasn’t long before he noticed his friends. The angle lent a rather voyeuristic air to the vista below, but Shugo didn’t give it too much thought. As he ate, he could see that Shibaki and Haruya had now secluded themselves in a dark corner, perhaps where the others in the room couldn’t notice them but Shugo certainly could. If Shibaki was still in any way feeling curious about how Shugo had excused himself from their company earlier, Haruya sure did a good job of smothering it. He was smothering Shibaki quite literally, in fact, they were sitting in that corner kissing and groping each other rather unabashedly, shielded by a rather despondent-looking Wataru, and Nao and Taku who sat just in front of them. Shugo had to smile. Perhaps that flask of vodka in Shibaki’s pocket had now surrendered most of its contents into his and Haruya’s throats.
“Are you watching that, too?” he asked Naoki.
“Yeah…” Naoki said over a full mouth. “Funny, I’ve only heard your stories about them, so I thought the first time I actually see them do it I’d be shocked, but…no.”
Shugo smiled at him. “That’s understandable…you’re probably so used to being with me now that the idea of two guys kissing each other doesn’t bother you anymore.”
“Maybe.” Naoki said. “Look…there’s Maezono.”
“There…sitting down near the DJ table.”
Shugo had to crane his neck slightly, but he did manage to see Maezono sitting with Yoshiyama, involved in a conversation that both of them seemed to enjoy very much. They had their hands on each other and every once in a while Yoshiyama would lean over to him, sharing a laughter or a whispered word, and Maezono’s smile was obviously genuine, even from this distance.
“Looks like he didn’t need you, after all.” Shugo said.
“Of course not. I came here for you.” Naoki said bluntly.
Shugo smiled down onto his takeout box and resumed eating. Unlike usual, he took his time with this meal, since it wasn’t his primary concern. His primary concern was this moment, shared with Naoki, on a rooftop strewn with candles, everything bathed in a soft golden glow, the stars twinkling up above, unbeknownst to their schoolmates below, a sense of presiding over a world that was clueless to their existence, and how true was that, really. Shugo decided that he didn’t care what questions Shibaki or Wataru would ask him on Monday morning, or if Haruya would back him up, which Shugo was quite sure he would. He didn’t care anymore. There was nothing that he was ashamed of in his relationship with Naoki, nothing he wouldn’t mind his close friends knowing. How they chose to react to it was something he was not concerned with. Somehow, somewhere along the way, it had stopped to matter.
They finished the meal and Naoki took care of the empty boxes, placing them well out of sight as Shugo took a sip out of the whiskey bottle. The liquor was strong and sent a dizzying jolt up his sinuses, but it did create a pool of warmth deep in the pit of his belly. When Naoki returned, he produced a pack of cigarettes and they each lit one, enjoying an after-dinner smoke as they watched their schoolmates below. Haruya and Shibaki had managed to pry themselves off each other long enough for Haruya to return to Kuze’s side, and Shibaki had likewise managed to actually spend some time talking to his date, Sagisawa. They were probably being courteous more than anything, but neither girl seemed to mind. Taku also seemed to be enjoying himself more than he was at the beginning, though it was difficult to tell from this distance if the smile on his face was real or something he feigned to keep Nao happy.
The current song finished, and the DJ made an announcement Shugo couldn’t hear clearly, but after that the lights were slightly turned down and a slow song began playing.
“Well, it’s that time of the night…” Naoki said.
“Is Maezono going to dance?”
“I told him he should…”
Sure enough, Maezono and Yoshiyama were among the first couples to take it to the floor, Shintaro and Asuka having already taken the center spot on the floor. Maezono seemed a little nervous, but as soon as he had his arms around Yoshiyama’s waist and her arms around his neck, he seemed to relax and soon they began moving to the music, more or less in rhythm, and didn’t seem to take their eyes off each other at all.
“They look good together, Naoki…” Shugo commented, his voice a little hushed.
“Who would’ve thought…”
“I don’t think Kenji realized what he was getting into when he stumbled across her that rainy day and ended up fucking her…” Naoki paused to laugh softly. “…much like we did.”
Shugo smiled and handed his whiskey bottle over to his companion, who took a drink and then replaced the cap onto it, setting it back down on the ledge. Then, Naoki stood up, brushed himself off, and extended his hand to Shugo. “Come here…”
“Come on, come here…”
Shugo stared him up and down, tempted to rub his eyes to make sure he was seeing correctly. Naoki Jo, this beautiful young man, standing amidst the candlelight glow, extending a hand to him, the soft wind blowing strands of hair away from his face and carrying the music from below up to where they were.
“Naoki…are you asking me to dance?”
“It’s a school dance, Shugo…why are we here if we’re not gonna dance?” Naoki deadpanned, but then his expression softened. “If I’m going to be a romantic fool, let me do it all the way.”
Shugo stood up and took the hand that was offered to him, the third time of the night, and he was pulled into a delicate embrace, Naoki’s arms around his waist. He put his arms around the Shubultz boy’s neck and looked up to meet his gaze, and saw the light of the candles reflected there, along with his own face.
“You are full of surprises…” he muttered.
“Good ones, I hope.”
“Oh, definitely.” Shugo pulled Naoki down slightly to kiss him, just as they were beginning to move to the music.
Maybe I’m not but you’re all I got left to believe in
Don’t give up on me I’m about to come alive
I know that it’s been hard and it’s been a long time coming
But don’t give up on me I’m about to come alive
Slow dancing with a member of the Shubultz Cuts, on the roof of the hall, amidst glowing candles on a winter night, these were things that Shugo had never dreamt of. How could either of them have thought this possible, even when they began to realize that there was more to their relationship—not so long ago they wouldn’t have even called it such—than simply sexual magnetism? When Shugo first realized his feelings for Naoki had taken on an entirely new meaning he’d been cautious, a little apprehensive, fearing that the other boy did not feel the same. But Naoki had taken away all his doubts in a single night, where he stopped just short of declaring his love for Shugo but stating very clearly that he would try to become everything Shugo wanted him to be. How could he not give in, knowing that here was someone who was willing to take chances for him, to make sacrifices for him, to go beyond his own boundaries for him?
“We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?”
“Yes, we have.” Naoki kissed his forehead gently.
“I asked you not long ago…about how far you think we’ll go, didn’t I?”
“Yeah, you did.”
Shugo looked up and smiled. “Forget it. I don’t care anymore.”
“Doesn’t matter if it ends tomorrow, if it ends ten years from now, or if it never ends. I’ve already gotten so much out of it that there’s no way I’m ever going to look back at it and regret anything.” Shugo said. “There’s nothing to regret…”
“Oh, but there is one thing I regret about this…” Naoki said.
Shugo felt a momentary unease. “What?”
Naoki lifted his hands from Shugo’s waist and clasped his face gently. “I regret that I didn’t meet you sooner.”
If there was a word fit to describe how Shugo felt at that precise moment, ‘dissolving’ would be it. He felt himself go weak, but Naoki revitalized him with a passionate kiss, enveloping him in a strong embrace which Shugo whole-heartedly returned. They kissed for the remainder of the song, lips in constant friction, tongues dancing, a breath of air taken swiftly before it was spent, and as the song finally ended and soft applause came from the hall below, they finally pulled back long enough for Shugo to look into the other boy’s eyes, searching, not for answers anymore but for reassurance, and he didn’t have to look far before he found it.
“Are we staying somewhere tonight?”
“Do you want to?”
“Okay, then…we’ll find a place. I don’t want to go all the way downtown, let’s just a find a place nearby.”
Shugo arched his eyebrows slightly. “Won’t that cost a lot more?”
Naoki laughed. “I’ve already busted my wallet trying to feed you for the past two months, you pig…what’s one more night?”
“Hey, nobody asked you to do it, shithead…” Shugo tugged playfully at Naoki’s collar.
“Mmm…not really complaining, anyway.” Naoki drew his finger down the bridge of Shugo’s nose. “Should we go?”
“Well, I doubt there’s anything interesting happening down there after the slow dance…” Naoki reasoned. “They’re getting ready to wrap things up.”
“What about Maezono?”
“He’s probably gonna get himself a room, too.” Naoki said.
Shugo took one last, long look at what was happening below through the glass roof and sighed. “Yeah, I guess it’s past the high point of the night now…”
“Come on, then…”
“Are we going to leave these here?” Shugo gestured at the still-burning candles.
“Let’s blow them out and leave them.” Naoki said. “As far as I know, nobody comes up here for months.”
They blew out the candles one by one, Shugo feeling a little sorry after having enjoyed them so much, and they went back around the roof to get to the staircase. Going down the staris proved to be an even more frightening experience than going up, and Naoki went first, making sure that Shugo was never far behind him, coaxing him gently down the steps as the cold wind blew against them. As soon as they got to the bottom Naoki cautiously led him back towards the front of the building, pausing every few steps to make sure that nobody was around that could notice them. Once they were beyond the premises of the hall, both of them relaxed considerably. Together, they strolled out of the open school gates and into the cold December night.
Noone thought I was good enough for you except for you
Don’t let them be right after all that we’ve been through
Somewhere over that rainbow there’s a place for me, a place with you
On Sunday afternoon Kenji Maezono showed up at Naoki’s front door again, still wearing last night’s clothes and looking slightly disheveled, and this time the purpose of his visit was to give back the boots he’d borrowed last night and to pick up the clothes and other knick-knacks he’d left at Naoki’s. Inside Naoki’s bedroom the two boys sat and shared their thoughts about last night’s dance—well, at least Kenji did, Naoki stayed perfectly tight-lipped about what he had done last night.
“Well, since you’re wearing yesterday’s clothes I suppose I don’t need to ask about where you ended up…” Naoki said.
Maezono chuckled lightly as he swiveled about on Naoki’s chair. “We left after the second slow dance or so. She hadn’t had dinner yet so I took her downtown, and from there we got a room…I don’t need to tell you the rest of the story, do I?”
Naoki smiled. “No need. You’ve got that ‘I just got laid and life is good’ glow on you, my friend…”
Maezono curled his lip slightly. “It’s that obvious?”
“Oh yeah, it is.” Naoki said matter-of-factly. “Her parents didn’t mind her staying out of the house overnight?”
“They hardly care what she does anymore these days…that’s what she said.” Maezono explained. “We spent most of today together, too—I only dropped her off at home before coming here.”
Naoki crossed his arms in front of himself and gave his friend a knowing smile. “I guess last night didn’t end up being so bad after all, did it?”
“Well, I actually had quite a good time last night…” Maezono said. “Oh, but don’t tell the others I said that or I’ll be forced to kill you.” he added quickly.
“Promise.” Naoki pressed his hand against his chest.
“What I was wondering, Professor…is whether you had a good time last night.”
Naoki laughed off Maezono’s inquiry. “You’re not upset that I wasn’t there to keep you company, are you? You didn’t seem like you needed me at all.”
“Well, that’s true, but…just where the hell did you go all night?”
“I was around.”
“How come I didn’t see you?” Maezono squinted his eyes curiously.
“Of course you didn’t see me, Kenji…you only saw her.” Naoki said casually. “They way you looked into her eyes the whole time…oh, don’t think I missed that.”
Maezono’s cheeks flushed suddenly, and he cringed. “You saw…that?”
“Oh, don’t worry…I won’t tell the others about that, either.” Naoki patted his shoulder.
“Well…” Maezono stood up. “Guess I better get going, then.”
They made their way downstairs and to the front door, Maezono pausing to bid Naoki’s aunt farewell. Naoki accompanied Maezono out into the yard and opened the gate for him, allowing his friend outside. The spiky-haired boy turned around to face him once again, a question in his eyes.
“Jo…are you sure you don’t want to tell me about your night?”
“I’m pretty sure…” Naoki said. “It’s probably rather boring compared to yours, anyway.”
The smile on Maezono’s face turned into one of mischief. “Oh, I don’t think so.”
Naoki narrowed his eyes at him. “What do you mean by that?”
“The ‘I just got laid’ glow that I have on me might be pretty obvious, Professor…” Maezono said. “…but not as obvious as that hickey on your neck.”
Alarmed, Naoki instantly reached up to his neck, and indeed his fingers found the slightly bruised skin of a tell-tale mark, and he realized that he didn’t have his jacket on to protect such things from view. Silently, he cursed himself for being so reckless. In front of him, Maezono looked absolutely pleased that he’d managed to catch Naoki off guard, for once.
Naoki didn’t say anything.
“Fine, then. Keep your secrets.” Maezono smirked as he backed away from the gate. “And I promise not to tell the others about that, too. See you on Monday.”
With that, Maezono began walking down the street, whistling a tune to himself as he slung the bag that contained his stuff over his shoulders. Naoki stared after him for a long time, wondering if Maezono had any inkling whatsoever as to who Naoki had really been with all night. That was probably not the case, and Naoki was quite sure that whatever scenario his friend had in his head about where Naoki had actually gone last night involved him hooking up with a girl somehow, but someone like Shugo Urabe would be furthest from Maezono’s guess. That meant his secret was safe for now, but Naoki had to wonder how much longer he wanted to keep it a secret. After all, hadn’t he begun wishing that he could just come clean to his friends about Shugo, and not have to go around behind their backs anymore?
If I’m ever going to tell anyone, Kenji…it would probably be you.
As Maezono disappeared at the corner of the road, Naoki went back inside the yard and closed the gate, before making his way back to the house.
On Monday morning Shugo entered the classroom with a slight feeling of apprehension, especially seeing that Wataru, Haruya and Shibaki were already there. Shintaro and the others were nowhere to be seen, however, so at least he wouldn’t have to explain anything to those who hadn’t actually seen anything. Shugo made a quick glance around the room and saw that none of the Shubultz Cuts had arrived.
“Morning, guys…” he said as he placed his bag on his desk.
“Morning, Shugo…” Haruya replied. “How was your weekend?”
“Great.” Shugo said truthfully. “Absolutely great.”
“Hey, Shugo…” Shibaki began uneasily. “Can we ask you something?”
Shugo sat down and regarded his teammates casually. “About what?”
Shibaki and Wataru exchanged glances, but Haruya sat down on Shugo’s desk and gave him a conspiratory wink.
“About…you know, at the dance, when Jo showed up and asked us for a light…” Wataru said. “He then asked you to come with him, right?”
“Right, and as you can see—” Shugo lifted his arms. “—I’m in one piece. He kept his promise.”
“What exactly did he want with you?” Shibaki sounded impatient. “I know Haruya here knows something, but he’s being a jerk and won’t tell us.”
Shugo looked up at Haruya. “You didn’t tell them?”
“It’s your story to tell, Shugo. Not mine.” Haruya shrugged. “Do you want me to tell them?”
“Are you going to tell them?”
“Hmmm….let me think.” Shugo looked at Wataru and Shibaki, who stared back at him with curious expectation. “Maybe not.”
Shibaki scrunched up his face in disappointment, while Wataru looked petulant. “Oh come on, Shugo…can’t you just tell us what the two of you did?”
“We had a chat.” Shugo said.
“Oh, Masami…just drop it, will you?” Haruya chided his best friend. “If he doesn’t want to tell, don’t push him.”
“Easy for you to say…” Shibaki said. “You actually know.”
Shugo and Haruya exchanged knowing glances and smiled furtively at each other.
“Okay, fine, whatever. You don’t have to tell us.” Shibaki lifted his arms in exasperation. “But I don’t think I can just put it aside and forget about it.”
“Nobody’s asking you to do that,” Shugo said. “Who knows? I might change my mind someday.”
Wataru and Shibaki stared at Shugo for a long while, as if trying to decide whether they should pursue the subject or drop it. Shugo was pretending he didn’t even see them, taking his books out of his bag and arranging them on his desk in order of the day’s subjects. Haruya likewise hopped off Shugo’s desk and walked back towards his own, prompting Shibaki to go with him. Once left alone to commune with his thoughts, Shugo allowed himself a long sigh of relief.
Well, that wasn’t so bad, was it?
He’d been prepared for the worst. He’d been prepared for the possibility that Haruya might have told Shibaki about his relationship with Naoki Jo, what with all the liquor they’d consumed last night, and that Shugo would have to fend off even more heated questions from the diminutive Kansai transfer, just what the heck he was thinking or things like that. But even if that had happened, Shugo was sure that he would’ve been ready. He would’ve stated his case clearly, that what he had with Naoki was no different to what Shibaki had with Haruya, and that he was completely secure in the relationship, secure in the knowledge that Naoki would likewise defend Shugo in front of his own friends the Cuts, if they ever found out. Shugo would’ve argued to hell and back with anyone who dared to say that his involvement with a member of the Shubultz Cuts was somehow ‘wrong’. It wasn’t wrong. It was the best thing that had ever happened to him.
His hand traveled to his stomach, where through the layers of his clothing he could feel the metal bar of his belly piercing, something that instantly reminded him of Naoki, of the person who’d given Shugo so much in so little time, the person to whom he’d sworn to give just as much in return.
For you, I’ll do anything.
Song: “I’m About to Come Alive” – by Train