Building Bridges

 

The Date

 

It was difficult to sleep with Misaki still in the room. Fushimi stayed up until he could barely hold his eyes open, hyper aware of the fact that the restless shifting behind him had stilled out into deep breathing, and then switched out the lights, climbed up to the top bunk, and surfed the internet on his phone until he drifted off with his glasses still on.

When he woke up, it was morning, he was still tired, and he had a headache pounding at his temples.

He wasn't going to be able to get back to sleep, though. Fushimi shut his eyes and clicked his tongue, rolling onto his back for a moment before pushing himself into a sitting position and reaching up to straighten the frames. His phone was still in his other hand, plugged into the wall and charging.

The room was quiet, but he could hear the sound of Misaki breathing evenly in the bunk beneath him.

I went to bed last, and I'm still up before him. It was convenient - he'd have the advantage again - but he wasn't sure if the annoyance of a headache was worth it. I don't think I have any painkillers left from last time, either - I'll have to go out and get some. He unplugged his phone, and the time flashed up on the screen - just past nine. Not that early, after all.

Given that he probably hadn't slept until just a few hours ago, it might as well have been, though. Fushimi clicked his tongue again, and swiped a finger across his phone reflexively to unlock it.

When the lock screen cleared, he froze up, skin prickling.

There was a video open on his phone - a familiar video; one he'd watched a number of times in secret since taking it. He didn't remember opening it the night before - and he definitely wouldn't have done so consciously - but it was paused right at the right moment. The moment he always paused it on; always stopped to look at. The moment that had made his blood pound and his stomach flutter, before he'd realized what that meant.

Yata Misaki's smiling face, with the sun beaming down on him and unconcealed fondness in his eyes as he stared back at some point just above the camera.

Fushimi closed his eyes, fingers tightening around the casing on his phone. His heart was racing and something seemed to clench in his chest, painfully. Misaki... He could feel a shudder run through his whole body, bringing a rush of longing and fear with it, and for a moment, he had to struggle to breathe properly.

I should delete it. The thought was in his head, desperate and decisive, before the wave had even passed. Fushimi opened his eyes and stared at the image on his phone for a long moment, feeling his fingers tremble against the case, until the screen timed out and locked.

His head was still throbbing.

He wasn't entirely sure what drove him to climb out of bed, down the ladder with his phone still clutched in his hand, and then snatch up his clothes and quickly leave the room. He didn't particularly have a destination planned, but after he was dressed and clean, he stopped back at the room just long enough to leave his sleep wear behind, and then left.

It was only after he was about halfway to Munakata's office that Fushimi consciously took note of where he'd been heading all along.

Stupid. He didn't slow his pace, but the realization had him clicking his tongue, irritated. Why would he even be there during summer break?

It was definitely stupid, but for some reason he felt too restless and agitated to turn back. Once I've seen that he's not there, I'll just leave. He didn't have to go back to the dorm. He could go to the activity center and buy some energy bars and a coffee, and find some place quiet and isolated.

At some point, he was sure, his headache would clear and the unsettled feeling in his chest and stomach would let up.

When he got to Munakata's office, though, the door was open. Fushimi hesitated for just a brief second outside of it, and then clicked his tongue softly and pushed through.

His boss was bent over his desk, which had been cleared to make room for a fairly large puzzle that appeared to be taking up most of it. He looked up when the door opened, and blinked, actually appearing to be startled - one of the very few times Fushimi had seen the expression on his face. "Fushimi-kun." He seemed to recover gracefully enough, setting down the puzzle piece and straightening in his seat, resting his hands in his lap. "This is a surprise."

So he wasn't going to question what his TA was doing there in the middle of summer vacation... Fushimi frowned to himself, a little irritated. I really hate that about you. "Do you come here during your vacations just to slack off?"

"Oh - the puzzle, you mean?" Munakata smiled, seeming pleased that he'd asked. "I find it far more stimulating to conduct such activities in a professional environment. Something about the atmosphere helps the mind to circulate." He tilted his head, and the light in the room seemed to gleam off of his glasses. "If you ever wish to join me..."

"No thanks." Fushimi pushed his own glasses up on his face reflexively. Somehow, now that he was actually here and hadn't been asked for any explanation, his head seemed to be clearing. Despite the fact that he'd walked all the way there with no actual purpose in mind, there was something nagging at the back of his mind... "You're dating Suoh Mikoto, huh?"

The expression on Munakata's face at that was more of a mild surprise than shock. It cleared into a smile in short order, regardless. "I see. You spotted us on Sunday night, then."

It was uncanny how easy he made that look. Fushimi clicked his tongue. "You could've made a better effort to hide if you didn't want to be seen."

"Very true. I suppose the cat is out of the bag, then - such as it were." Munakata pushed his chair back, coming to his feet and crossing the room so that they were facing each other more openly. "It's something of an open secret among those in our social circles." He looked faintly amused. "Awashima-kun has indirectly lectured me on the subject a number of times, but I believe you are the first to bring it up directly."

That was a dubious honor. "Why do you bother to hide it if everyone knows?"

Munakata tipped his head forward, shutting his eyes briefly. It was a surprisingly unguarded look. "Call it an idiosyncratic indulgence."

It was obvious that there was more to it than that - and equally obvious that it wasn't going to be a story he was likely to get. Somehow, that was actually comforting, though - that a man like Munakata could still have the same kinds of petty problems as those he manipulated freely. "Seems like a mistake to get involved with someone like that man."

"It's possible," his boss acknowledged, without shame or regret. "There's a certain element of risk involved in the pursuit of happiness, after all."

That word again. Fushimi clicked his tongue. "Not everyone's chasing after whatever you call 'happiness'."

"Perhaps that's not the best word," Munakata admitted, without seeming to miss a beat. He half-turned, looking towards the puzzle again. "Call it 'satisfaction'. Something that everyone in this world seeks to find and keep: the feeling that the life you lead is as good - or as tolerable - as you feel you can make it." His gaze was speculative when he turned it back on Fushimi. "I think it's safe to say that the level and type of risks one finds acceptable in their pursuit are decisions that are influenced by many outside factors."

The memory of that mocking voice in his head - still as clear and familiar as ever, even after all the years of not hearing it physically - rose back to the surface of Fushimi's mind without his conscious will; he shoved it back down, ruthlessly. "What would the risk of not pursuing something like that be?"

"In my opinion?" Munakata turned fully again to face him. "I would think the risk would be that failing to pursue it means you lose what could have been an opportunity to have it." He paused briefly, then added, "Assuming, of course, that 'it' is something you wanted."

The words resonated with something within him. Fushimi turned his gaze, vaguely disturbed by his own reaction. "That doesn't exactly balance against the risks of pursuing it, does it?" If you couldn't reach it. If you got it, and then it broke. If one day he just left...

"Quite possibly not," his boss agreed, somewhat surprisingly. "The balance is made up for in potential gain." When Fushimi looked up, warily, he got a beatific smile. "How much you could gain in success, versus how much you gain in refusing to try."

Fushimi clicked his tongue again. "Isn't a cost-benefit analysis too simple for human relationships?"

"The simple ideas frequently contain the most merit, I've found." Munakata reached out to set a hand on his shoulder, bending forward a ways as if he was about to relay some great secret. "Fushimi-kun. If you can afford to make a personal decision purely based on how much you want it versus how much you fear you'll lose it, my recommendation would be to find the choice that would leave you with the least regrets."

For a moment, he just stared back, a little unnerved by the intimate gaze and the serious tone. Then he collected himself and jerked his eyes away again, scowling. "I didn't ask you for advice. Anyway, isn't that too generic?"

"Perhaps you're right." The hand on his shoulder slid free; Munakata straightened, once again smiling as if he didn't have a concern in the world. "I thought it might give you some food for thought, considering the subject manner. However, if you're free at the moment..." He tilted his head, smile widening, and the light seemed to catch on his glasses again. "Would you consider staying to play out a game of chess?"

The answer to that was swift, and decisive. "No thanks."

"Ah. Pity." Munakata looked thoughtful. "Then, perhaps cards..."

Fushimi turned to the door without any further hesitation. "Sorry, I have a headache."

"I have some painkillers in my drawer if you wish to - "

"Goodbye."


In the end, he stopped by the Activity Center for more painkillers and water. The coffee shop in the building had a line-up and too much of a crowd for Fushimi to want to bother trying for a decent drink, so he bought something from a vending machine instead. He stopped by the computer labs afterwards, disregarding the rules about drinks near the machines - it wasn't like anyone was properly watching for it anyway, considering how few people were in there - in an attempt to kill some time in case Misaki hadn't already left the dorm.

Why am I the one avoiding him? Fushimi frowned to himself, staring at the computer screen without really paying it much attention. He'd properly rejected Misaki's confession, and now he had Misaki's hatred, which was exactly what he wanted. It had been fine before - even the edge of bitterness was comfortable. Familiar.

For whatever reason, finding the video open on his phone and then having that conversation with Munakata had left him feeling uneasy.

It's fine. The time showing on the computer was half past noon - it was probably safe to head back, so Fushimi twisted the cap onto his water bottle and pushed back his chair to leave. I'll get used to it again. It's only like this now because I haven't adjusted yet.

Misaki wasn't a friend. He wasn't a lover. But he would still think of Fushimi forever. Hating him, forever.

That's good. Fushimi adjusted his phone in his pocket without checking it - there wasn't going to be anything new on there, anyway. That's the way it should be.

It wouldn't have lasted, otherwise. Misaki had friends, and he had Mikoto-san. It wouldn't have taken him long to realize he didn't really need Fushimi.

He didn't realize that after a full semester of living with you, a little voice whispered at the back of his head. Fushimi pushed the unwanted thought aside, clicking his tongue as he walked back towards the dorms. It didn't matter. Everything broke for him. It was always just a matter of time, in the end.

Better to be alone by choice than to be discarded.

With the help of the painkillers, the headache had been under control while he was in the lab - but it didn't fare quite as well in the sun. Fushimi was tired and cranky when he finally made it back to the dorms, and by the time he was turning his key in the lock to his room, he already had some half-formed plans of starting up a new project on his laptop to distract himself.

That all vanished when he opened the door and found his roommate standing in front of an open closet, with a short-sleeved black overshirt in his hands and a frown on his face as he studied it.

He's still here...

Misaki looked up quickly when Fushimi walked in, and the frown deepened into an all-out scowl. "Why are you back already?"

"I shouldn't need to explain my schedule to you," Fushimi answered, deliberately making his voice airy and condescending. He stepped into the room, shutting the door behind him and trying to pretend that his heart rate hadn't jumped up to approximately five times its speed. "I can come and go whenever I feel like it."

Misaki had dressed differently than he normally did, so much that it was openly noticeable. He had on quarter-length pants instead of the usual shorts, his shirt had a proper collar, and he wasn't wearing his beanie. The overshirt, too, looked fancier than expected.

Clearly, something was going on.

Misaki made an irritated-sounding 'ch'. "I know that! Anyway, it doesn't matter. I have a date, so whatever - you can stay in here forever for all I care." He pulled on the overshirt, straightening the collar as he headed for the door.

It felt like something froze inside of Fushimi, quickly enough to leave a trail of hurt in its wake. Misaki, going on a date... Impossible. "As if a virgin like you could ever ask a girl on a date." There was the edge of a tremor in his voice; he swallowed, and made the effort to properly collect himself. "I'll believe it when I see it, Mi~sa~ki~."

He earned himself a glare and a scowl with that. "I-It's not a girl, and we're just going for coffee, so - so whatever!" The faint edge of a blush had risen on Misaki's cheeks. "Anyway, it's none of your business!" he snapped, and turned again, already yanking the door open. "I'm leaving!"

The slamming that followed his exit had an echo of finality to it somehow.

The water bottle in Fushimi's hand slipped and fell to the floor; he realized then that his fingers were trembling. What is this? It was as if something white-hot was burning across his brain, painfully unthawing the frozen pieces and leaving him shaking with a sudden mix of shock and dismay and rage. He didn't know what to do with that level of emotion; it wasn't familiar or maintainable.

Misaki, on a date... Who? Who would he go on a date with?

Misaki, on a date... Why? He confessed to me just yesterday, right? There's no way...

Misaki, on a date... How? He's an idiot! And a virgin... And besides that...

Besides that...

No one else... Fushimi found his fingers clenching into fists that still shook, tightly clenched and painful. For Misaki... His throat had closed up; even when he swallowed, it didn't seem to clear. The only one who should want him... His heart was pounding painfully against his chest, and his breath was coming in harsh, ragged pulls. The only one he should want...

Somehow or another, he was moving, across the room and to the door, barely conscious of the throbbing pain at his temples and the tremor still fighting its way up his arms and across his shoulder blades. He wasn't sure if it was desperation or something deeper and more hurtful. But there was one thought in his head blotting out everything else.

It should only be me!


The short trip from the dorms to the Activity Center wasn't quite enough to cool Yata's head. He pushed his skateboard up with one foot, bending to lift it off the ground, and scowled at the front entrance, willing his heart to slow down out of the frenzy he'd worked it into.

At this point, he wasn't sure if he was more nervous for his first real date or flustered from the unexpected confrontation with Saruhiko.

He hadn't seemed to get much reaction when he'd mentioned the date...

Not that he'd expected... Well, okay, maybe he'd kind of been expecting something. It was a little disappointing, even though he hated to admit it. Despite everything, he'd thought... or rather, hoped...

Well, it hadn't happened, anyway.

Whatever! I shouldn't think about that asshole! This was his chance, right? Yata clenched his free hand into a fist, tucking the skateboard under his arm. He was - he was on a date. It was with some random guy, yeah - but whatever, whoever this guy was, he had to be at least somewhat cool or Chitose wouldn't have set him up like this. Right?

It felt like that thought just strung his nerves up even more. Yata swallowed hard, and then straightened up, setting his shoulders with determination and marching towards the doors.

The coffee shop was on the first floor of the Activity Center, near the large bookstore that sold a lot of random convenience items. It was a cheery-looking place, with black and white tilted floors, slick grey counters, round tables with delicate white tablecloths, and fancy black chairs that didn't look comfortable.

Yata had never been in there before. Actually, he didn't even drink coffee. Chitose had been the one who planned everything about this date, from the time to the place to the person he was going to be meeting up with.

Speaking of which... Yata glanced around, feeling his stomach twisting up a bit with nervousness as he looked for the person who matched the description he'd been given.

"Excuse me." The deep, serious voice from behind just about had him jumping out of his skin. Yata spun on his heels, nearly dropping his skateboard, and found himself faced with someone about his own age, with pale skin, long dark hair, and very serious light blue eyes. "Yata Misaki?" he asked, tilting his head slightly. His expression was strangely severe.

He was also a good ten inches taller than Yata - pretty much the same height as Saruhiko, now that he thought of it.

You couldn't have found someone who wasn't a goddamn giant, huh? He mentally cursed Chitose.

Still, this was his date, after all. "Y-Yeah. Right. Um, so then you're - "

"Yatogami Kuroh." The tone of voice was calm and even, despite the abrupt way he dropped his name into the conversation. "Nice to meet you," he continued, without offering a handshake. His eyes dipped in the direction of Yata's skateboard and one dark, slender eyebrow raised. "Are you planning to take that in with you?"

"Eh? My skateboard?" Yata blinked, a little taken aback. This... wasn't exactly how he'd pictured meeting the guy would go. "Yeah, so?"

Yatogami's frown deepened. "If it has wheels, you shouldn't be taking it indoors."

"Hah? Says who?" Somehow, this was kind of pissing him off. Yata fought to keep his temper in check. It's a date, right? I need to be polite and shit. Or something. "If I leave it outside, someone might snatch it. It's not a big deal or anything - I'll just stow it under the table."

If anything, the disapproval in Yatogami's expression increased. "Well, there isn't a rule against it," he conceded stiffly, and turned on his heel to head into the coffee shop. "Let's go find a seat, then."

Yata scowled at his back. Something about this guy really gets on my nerves...

It looked like the place had been busy just a little while ago, but it was starting to clear up - there were a few open tables to the left of the entrance. Yatogami passed over two that looked perfectly good before settling on one near the far end of the barista's counter, perfunctorily pulling out a chair before Yata could blink and indicating that he should sit on it.

"I can get our drinks," he offered - well, more like stated a fact, in that same serious tone that didn't invite argument. It was really fucking annoying. "What would you like?"

Yata stared at him with open aggravation. "I can pay for my fuc - for myself," he shot back, thoroughly annoyed at the notion that this self-satisfied prick was already setting himself up in some kind of 'gentleman' role. "What the hell do you think this is, some kind of - ?"

"It's easier for the barista if just one person orders," Yatogami cut him off, shooting back an exasperated look. His voice was still as cool and even as ever, but there was a slight edge to it now, as if he was just as irritated as Yata was with the situation. "And you have your skateboard to look after." The downturn to his mouth indicated exactly what he thought of that. "So, I'll ask again: what would you like to drink?"

This fucking guy... Yata could feel his eyebrow twitch. It was only the memory of Saruhiko's condescending reply - "I'll believe it when I see it, Mi~sa~ki~" - that kept him from telling his date where he could go stick it. "Water," he ground out.

The look Yatogami shot him was flat. "You'd come to a coffee shop and just order water?"

Yata glowered back at him. "Got a problem with that?"

"Fine." Yatogami's voice was clipped. "Wait here." He turned sharply and headed for the line.

"Ch!" Yata scowled at his back from another second, then turned back to the table, deliberately pulling out the other chair and slumping down onto it. Where the fuck did Chitose even find this guy? He leaned his skateboard against the underside of the table, slouching against the back of his chair with an aggravated sigh.

Yeah, unless this asshole somehow turned into a completely different person once they were sitting at a table together, this was probably going to be a big fat failure. Yata barely wanted to talk to the guy, never mind any of that romantic crap. But still, he wasn't about to quit early and give Saruhiko the satisfaction of mocking him for screwing up his first date.

HE could've been my first date...

He quickly squashed that thought, scowling down at the table, and tried not to think about it.

There was a kind of prickling sensation between his shoulder blades that was starting to become impossible to ignore - like he was being watched. Yata turned his head to look around the place, but it didn't seem like anyone was paying any attention to him. As soon as he returned his gaze to the table, though, the feeling came back, worse than ever.

The fuck...? He looked around again, feeling more than a little annoyed. It seemed like the people around them were all in pairs - an obvious lovey-dovey couple there... a pair of girls giggling together here... two guys in fancy-looking suits over there... a couple of weirdos in trench coats, fedoras and fake mustaches over -

Wait. What?

"Here's your water." Yatogami's voice jerked his attention away from the strange pair at the table diagonal from them; Yata straightened in his seat automatically as the glass of water was placed in front of him.

"Thanks." He shot a quick glance back while Yatogami was seating himself. The couple was huddled over the drink menus with a kind of desperate focus, not looking at him.

What the fuck is that about?

"So. Yata Misaki." Yatogami was watching him intently from across the table, his arms crossed over his chest as if he didn't even intend to touch the steaming drink in front of him. "What activities do you do for fun?"

"Hah?" 'Activities'? Am I taking a survey, or what? Yata frowned back, a little perturbed. Okay, whatever. "Uh, I guess skateboarding, gaming, and hanging out with friends... you know, normal stuff."

"I see."

An awkward silence fell after that last response, and Yata became aware that Yatogami was staring at him expectantly. Fuck. What does he want? Am I supposed to ask about him? Damnit, how does this bullshit work, anyway? "So, uh, yeah." He shifted in his seat, uncomfortably. "What about you?"

"I study fencing in my spare time," Yatogami responded immediately, as if he'd been waiting for the question. "My master was the most celebrated fencer in the area. He was truly wise... Ichigen-sama..." He smiled with obvious satisfaction, nodding to himself. The expression was vaguely disturbing. "Other than that, I like to cook and clean. I prefer order and organization."

Is this guy even for real? Cleaning for fun? 'Order and organization'? Yata stared at him dubiously for a few seconds, waiting for the punchline. None came. "Yeah, okay." He scratched the back of his head, bothered by both the stilted conversation and the persistent feel of eyes on him. Who the fuck is that? "I guess cooking's all right..."

"You cook?" Yatogami tilted his head, looking a bit interested at that. "Did you receive formal training, or is it a hobby of yours?"

He wasn't too sure how to answer that one. "Right. Uh, my mom taught me."

"I see. A skill being passed down across generations." Yatogami nodded again, clearly satisfied with that answer. "Your mother sounds like a wise woman."

"Yeah..." Yata wondered how his mother would respond to being called 'wise'. Probably by laughing. "Sure."

There was another awkward pause. Yatogami was still sitting with his arms crossed, drink untouched in front of him.

It was hard to deal with. "Hey, I'm gonna just go to the washroom quick, okay?" Yata was already standing before getting a response; it wasn't like it'd matter even if it wasn't okay, after all. "Be right back."

"That's fine."

Like I need your permission. Yata made a soft 'ch' under his breath as he neared the door marked 'men'. He was on edge, agitated by the entire conversation, and he needed space to just fucking breathe. Fortunately, the bathroom was empty when he came in - there were only two stalls, both open, and no one was at the urinals. He wandered over to the sink, frowning at his reflection in the mirror over it. The image staring back at him looked frustrated.

This is so fucking stupid. It wasn't like he'd wanted to be on a date with this guy, anyway, even if he'd turned out to be awesome. It hadn't even been a full two days since he'd realized he'd fallen for his roommate, and he wasn't over it at all. Yata shut his eyes, letting out a small sigh, and allowed himself a rueful smile. The only person I'd actually want to go on a date with hates my guts. How fucking sad is that?

The reminder still hurt. Yata clenched his hands into fists, swallowing around the sudden lump at the back of his throat. Saruhiko...

The door opened behind him, and - as if summoned by his thoughts - his roommate stepped in.

Yata's skin prickled; for one startled second, they just stood there staring at each other in the mirror's reflection.

The FUCK?


It was possible to actually see the moment when Misaki recovered from his shock; his eyes narrowed, and he immediately spun around, glaring. "What the hell are you doing here?"

Even just being the focus of that angry stare was enough to get Fushimi's heart racing again. He managed a slow smile, still feeling on edge. His head hurt, and he was still too hot even after coming into the temperature-controlled building, but... Misaki's eyes, fierce and alive....

It was enough to set the trembling off again, just slightly.

"What?" he drawled, not minding the unsteady edge in his voice. "Are you worried I'll ruin your precious date, Misaki?"

"Ch! As if you could!" The scowl he got back was properly derisive. "Go ahead and give it your best shot, Saru!"

"Should I?" Fushimi drew the words out slowly, watching for a reaction. "It's not like you can't screw it up on your own, right? In that case, maybe I'd be doing your date a favor."

Misaki's glare turned positively furious. "Saru... you bastard..."

That's right. Just look at me. Forget everyone else, Misaki. There was an unusual amount of desperation underlying the thought; Fushimi deliberately ignored it. "What? It's the truth, right? There's no reason to go back to - "

"Shut up!" Misaki snapped, cutting him off. "It's none of your goddamn business! Besides, it - it's going fine." His voice dropped a little as he added the last part; he glanced away, as if embarrassed. "In - In fact, we have some stuff in common. Or something."

Looking at that expression, it felt like something inside of Fushimi snapped. Misaki... He ducked his head forward, a rush of anger and hurt and a feeling like hysteria or desperation bubbling to the surface of his thoughts.

Don't look like that for someone else...

"What, jealous?" There was a note of triumph in Misaki's voice. "That's right, a completely bastard like you couldn't get a date to save his life!" He let out a soft 'heh' and moved forward to pass by and get to the door. "Anyway, that kind of thing is - "

Fushimi reached out quickly, grabbing his arm as he passed. Misaki froze for a moment, and that was long enough to able to turn his body roughly, push him back hard against the wall, and brace his own hands on either side of that shocked-looking face. Fushimi was acting primarily on instinct, his heart thundering against his chest as he stared down at Misaki's wide-eyed expression. A smile was building on his face, slow and wild, born of some small feeling within his body - a frightened, fierce, cornered child that had never been able to let go of the things Fushimi wanted to forget.

You should only... only...

"Only look at me," he murmured out loud, without meaning to. It didn't feel like it mattered.

Misaki was still staring at him, obviously completely confused. His face was slowly turning red; it was kind of fascinating to watch. "Wh-What the hell - ?" he started, drawing himself up with obvious indignation.

"Shut up," Fushimi cut him off, voice low. The edge of hysteria was obvious, but he didn't care. Misaki's reactions, and Misaki's glares, and Misaki's embarrassment... It was all for him. "Shut up," he repeated, and slid his hands down to grasp Misaki's shoulders, leaning in to press their mouths together once again.

Time seemed to slow down as his lips met Misaki's; Fushimi was hyper aware of his roommate's little hitch at the contact - of his own ragged, uneven breathing. The feeling of a soft, unmoving pressure under his mouth; the fabric pressed against his hands as he clutched at Misaki's shoulders. The warmth building in the small space between their bodies.

Deep within him, he felt the screaming rush of his own desire. It was blinding.

I want him...

The door to the bathroom abruptly swung open, and that bubble of a dream burst.

He could hear the sharp intake of breath from the newcomer even as Misaki grabbed his arms and forced him violently away, but it felt like it was all happening somewhere far away. Fushimi didn't even fight to hold his position, allowing himself to be held at arm's distance and observing what was going on around him with something like shocked disinterest.

I kissed him...

"Eh?" The newcomer sounded mildly started - and then he seemed to realize what he'd just witnessed. "Eh!?"

"O-Oi..." Misaki was staring in the direction of the door, his face a vivid mix of nervousness and embarrassment, stained redder than Fushimi had seen it before. "L-Look, right now... th-that wasn't what it loo - "

"Ahaha..." A glance at the newcomer showed a young-looking man in a ridiculous getup: trench coat, fedora, and lopsided false mustache. He was waving his hands in front of his face, a sheepish sort of grin visible underneath the awkwardly-placed accessory. "I didn't mean to interrupt anything... I'll just go right ahead and leave now, then..."

"No - wait - " Misaki's feeble protest came too late; the newcomer spun around and was out the door before he could properly proclaim his innocence. "Fuck..."

Fushimi slid his gaze back slowly towards Misaki's face. The situation still seemed unreal to him. He could feel the headache from before clamoring for his attention, but it was insignificant next to everything that had just happened. He wasn't sure what to do now, or how he could handle it. "Mi... saki...?"

"What the hell, Saru?" The expression on Misaki's face when it turned up towards him again was furious, eyes narrowed and mouth turned down in a scowl. His eyes were gleaming with something like hurt; it sparked against a pain in Fushimi's own chest. "Why the fuck did you do that?"

Like I even know... Fushimi stared back at him dumbly for a second, and then fell back on his immediate instinct, turning his gaze aside and clicking his tongue.

Everything had happened too fast... It was like that time at the beach, but worse. He didn't know what to do any more.

"Don't just fucking 'tsk' me, you bastard!" Misaki's grip tightened on his arms. "I don't get you! You kissed me, and then you said you don't want me, and you act like a complete asshole - and now you're kissing me again! What the hell sense does that even make?"

It didn't, when he put it like that. Fushimi could feel panic rising like bile at the back of his throat, and focused on staring sullenly at the wall in an effort to keep it down. "Shut up," he muttered, keeping his voice low to hold it steady. "You're annoying."

"Then answer me, goddamnit!" There was a choke in Misaki's voice now; he shook Fushimi's arms fiercely, as if trying to force a response from him physically. "Leave me alone if you hate me so much! I'm trying to get the hell over you, already!"

Fushimi's breath caught; he looked up automatically, and met Misaki's furious, anguished gaze without thinking. It was like a knife twisting at the pit of his stomach; those words seemed to echo in his head.

"I'm trying to get the hell over you"

"to get the hell over you"

"over you"

And then - out of nowhere - his boss's voice, from earlier that morning: "I would think the risk would be that failing to pursue it means you lose what could have been an opportunity to have it."

Immediately, he found himself shaking his head, instinctively rejecting the conclusion. "Stupid... there's no way..."

Misaki's expression twisted; he let go of Fushimi's arms and shoved him back roughly. "Yeah. You made that clear already." His face was turned down as he moved for the door, but it was possible to see the way his mouth tightened as he yanked it open. With one last, pained glanced over his shoulder, he was moving past it and out into the coffee shop again.

Fushimi stared after him. The tremor in his limbs felt more pronounced than before - something in his head was screaming, although he wasn't sure if it was in protest or panic or just plain frustration. Misaki...

He didn't know what to do. How to fix it. If he even wanted to fix it. All he knew was...

All he knew...

Snapping out of his trance, Fushimi stepped forward and reached for the door.

Outside, he could see Misaki's back as he sank back down into his seat across from some unfamiliar man. Fushimi stared at him for a moment, feeling his eyes narrow and his breathing quicken, and then clicked his tongue and turned away, driven by a mix of fury and helpless pain.

Fury that was aimed mostly inward, although he couldn't quite acknowledge the reasons. It felt like he'd fly apart if he accepted it now.

The walk back to the dorms was painstakingly long, with his head pounding and the sun beating down on him. It was like being whipped. Punished. Somehow, the physical discomfort was satisfying, a safe distraction from the chaotic frenzy in his head.

Misaki...

It wasn't until he'd made it back into the dorm and leaned back against the door to their shared room that he really allowed the truth to strike him, and it felt like something stabbing directly into his heart. Fushimi let out a burst of a laugh that sounded suspiciously close to a sob, and shut his eyes, breathing erratically.

All he knew... was that Misaki letting go of him felt like the end of the world.

 

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