[Author note: So, this is the first thing I've written for GX in - how long? - and it's this pair of reprobates. I swear I've sold my soul to them. I only wish I could do them justice...

This wasn't supposed to go quite how it did, but it seems I can't put these two in a room without them just gravitating towards each other.

I know, I know, no plot and not much else, but I wrote this because it made me happy and am sharing it in case someone else needs this too ;u;]

I like you

Their chats had become a regular occasion now. Small moments of peace snatched after classes, and mostly free of supernatural interference. Manjoume likes to be alone but there are few people (he can count them on one finger, let alone one hand) he would rather spend precious free time with than Fubuki Tenjoin.

"I like you, Manjoume-kun," Fubuki says suddenly.

"I like you too, Master." Manjoume bumps his shoulder up against Fubuki's.

"No. I mean, I really like you," says Fubuki, and Manjoume feels an odd twisting sensation in his stomach.

"Oh," says Manjoume, lamely, tailing off into awkward silence. He's wondered what a confession from Fubuki might be like, figuring - from his master's lessons - that it would be some grand and public romantic gesture, an undeniable demonstration of love that would bowl his intended over just like any one of Fubuki's fainting fangirls. But here it is, to Manjoume no less, sat in their usual spot on the beach and thrown out like just another line in their conversation. Manjoume sinks his face down towards his hands where they clasp his knees, trying to hide the colour in his cheeks. "I'm sorry, I'm not quite sure what to say to that."

"You don't need to say anything," says Fubuki, and Manjoume can hear the smile in his voice. "I just thought you should know."

Fubuki picks up where he had left off, chatting about the previous night's televised pro-league match, and Manjoume does his best to listen. It's difficult to concentrate on the words over the pounding in his chest. Manjoume sneaks a look over at Fubuki, his tanned legs stretched out casually on the sand, scanning up Fubuki's body to his half-buttoned shirt, and flicks his gaze back to the reddening ocean when their eyes briefly meet.

Fubuki's voice is usually calming to Manjoume, so he closes his eyes and lets it wash over him like the incoming tide. After a while he feels a pat on his hunched-over back, and realises Fubuki is asking him a question.

"I guess?" says Manjoume, trying to cover up his lack of attention. He uncurls to release some of the tension in his back.

Fubuki gives him a long look, eyes narrowed, considering. "Okay," says Fubuki. "Well, it's getting cold, and you look like you need an early night. See you tomorrow." Fubuki pushes himself to his feet and brushes the sand from his shorts before ambling off back to the Blue dorm.

"See you tomorrow," calls Manjoume after him, and Fubuki pauses, turning to give a brief wave and a grin that stops just short of his usual high-beam intensity. Manjoume watches him until he disappears from view.

Manjoume sighs, lying on his side on his bed and clutching a lilac pillow to his chest. He's shut his deck in the drawer of a bedside cabinet. It won't keep the ojamas out for long, but even a few moments alone are precious when he has so much to think about.

Fubuki is Manjoume's mentor, his future brother-in-law. Any feelings Manjoume has towards the man must be rooted in those connections; and vice versa for Fubuki. Maybe Fubuki had mistaken familial love for something else. But Fubuki is the master of love, Manjoume has no doubts on that front, and couldn't be capable of such an elementary error.

Manjoume rolls over onto his back, squeezing the pillow tightly as he stares at the ceiling. There is still the possibility that he misinterpreted Fubuki. He remembers the hot feeling that came over him at Fubuki's words and, despite himself, he smiles. A hesitant fluttering starts around his navel and spreads to a fuzziness in his fingertips and a prickle in his scalp. It's a sensation he recognises from time spent around Asuka.

It's only natural, Manjoume supposes, trying to explain away this new development. Besides the family resemblance, the Tenjoins share a gentle confidence, intelligence and grace. Perhaps his feelings for Asuka are colouring his response to her brother. Manjoume rolls over again, pressing his face into the warm pillow, and knows that isn't true. He wants Fubuki to like him. Really like him.

There's a noise like a violin being pushed through a cheese grater coming from the drawer next to the bed. Manjoume grits his teeth in a snarl and props himself up to belt the cabinet with his left hand. It hurts as he catches his fingers on the sharp corner, and he curses the keening ojamas, sucking his fingers until the pulsing pain subsides. It was a good thing his love life hadn't yet amounted to much, really. Dating with these annoyances never more than a step away would surely be most trying.

Yellow manages to worm its way free and the others soon follow, squeezing their lumpy bodies through the tiny gap. Manjoume throws the pillow at them and instantly regrets it, feeling exposed. He sits up and crosses his arms and legs pre-emptively against the world.

"What?" he snaps at Ojama Yellow, who is looking at him accusingly.

"Big bro..." Yellow whines. "Why'd you shut us in that dark, nasty place?"

"Yeah, we was scared!" Green butts in.

"You're so cruel!" Yellow progresses to a full-blown wail.

Manjoume twitches, the hint of a headache starting to form behind his temples, and reaches for his PDA.

Manjoume saves a seat next to him in class, but Fubuki sits in the row behind. He seems the same as usual, swapping banter with Asuka as the lesson comes to a close, but he has barely even acknowledged Manjoume's presence. Manjoume filters from the lecture hall behind Fubuki and plucks at the sleeve of Fubuki's uniform, wearing his most ingratiating smile. "Want to get lunch?"

Fubuki turns around. His eyes slide off Manjoume to the corridor beyond, filled with hurrying students pushing past the both of them. "I've got some errands to run, actually. Maybe some other time."

The corners of Manjoume's mouth drop, and Fubuki relents, gently propelling Manjoume out of the way of the crowd. Fubuki lowers his voice, and Manjoume has to lean in to hear him properly. "I got your message. Sure, we can talk, but if it's about that..." Manjoume nods, and Fubuki continues. "I'd rather in private."

"We could go out to the forest," says Manjoume hopefully.

"And be back in time for class? I don't think so," says Fubuki. "Tell you what, do you have plans on Saturday evening?"

"Not yet," says Manjoume.

"Then come over. My room, after dinner." Fubuki stops, his tongue almost imperceptibly flicking out to moisten his lips, and Manjoume thinks he's never seen how nervous looks on Fubuki before now. "If that wouldn't make you feel uncomfortable."

"Not at all," Manjoume stammers out a reassurance. He's not entirely sure that what he's feeling is comfortable, but it's definitely not uncomfortable in a bad way, which is what he assumes Fubuki is getting at.

"Well then," says Fubuki, reverting to his usual cheery demeanour in an instant, "I really do have things to do. See you later, Manjoume-kun."

"Yeah," says Manjoume with a smile, not noticing that his blushing cheeks are giving him away once more.

It's well past nine by the time Manjoume arrives at Fubuki's room. "It's good to see you," says Fubuki with a half-smile, holding the door open. "I was beginning to think you weren't coming."

"I had to study." Manjoume lies. He's actually spent the time convincing the ojamas to lay low tonight, and he's had to make a few promises he's not proud of to buy their silence. He strides in and slips his shoes off, looking around the neat room appreciatively. While he has made sure that the remodelling of his own room has gone to his satisfaction, and he doesn't miss the Obelisk Blue brand of elitism, he does feel a pang of nostalgia for the dorm's large, airy rooms and oddly dated decor.

The door closed, Fubuki takes off his uniform jacket and hangs it up. "So, what did you want to say?"

"I don't really know," says Manjoume. He has a speech for every occasion but this. Without Fubuki's support, he feels directionless in matters of love, drifting as his heart pulls him. "Can we just talk for now? About anything."

"All right," says Fubuki hesitantly, before exclaiming. "Ah!" He rummages through a cupboard, pulling out a few large folders. He sits on the bed, leaning back against the cushioned headboard and patting the bolster pillow, inviting Manjoume to join him. He's wearing a grin now verging on the impish. "Want to look at some photos?"

"Sure," says Manjoume, perching on the edge of the bed.

The first album is of childhood memories. Fubuki gleefully shows Manjoume pictures of Asuka as a baby, the Tenjoin siblings taking baths together, Asuka with chocolate cake all around her mouth and her chubby little fingers; each with an anecdote or adoring comment. Manjoume's face heats up, not sure he should be seeing this, but still he shifts closer to Fubuki to get a better look. By the time they've worked through the second album, he's seen the pair in fancy dress costumes, school uniforms, smartened up for weddings, and he's cosied right up to Fubuki in his form-fitting black turtleneck.

"Manjoume-kun..." starts Fubuki, but Manjoume rests his head on Fubuki's shoulder and Fubuki doesn't finish. Instead, he manoeuvres his arm around Manjoume's back, tentatively brushing his hand down to Manjoume's waist and leaving it there when the gesture is not rejected.

Manjoume concentrates on his breathing. He's not used to being held and the physiological effects of proximity to Fubuki are taking their toll. It's a pleasant feeling, though, warm and gentle and comforting.

Fubuki continues with another photo album, flicking through it one handed. This one is of his Duel Academia days and he talks through them, slower and quieter now, the stories losing a little humour in the telling. Some of the photos seem odd, too, often ones with the Kaiser; a little off centre, or lacking any obvious focus. Fubuki furrows his brow and closes the album before they reach the end.

There's silence, for a while, as the two sit together.

Fubuki breaks it. "Manjoume-kun... thank you, but you don't have to do this."

"I want to," says Manjoume softly.

"I know your love lies elsewhere, and that's fine. I'm not asking you to be with me."

"But this is okay though?"

"This is okay." Fubuki squeezes, and the hug makes Manjoume want to sing.

"I do like you, Master. It's not fair to you if I act on these feelings while I also love her..." Manjoume looks up, finally, and Fubuki's so close that Manjoume can smell hints of the ocean spray on his skin. Fubuki's eyes are wide and Manjoume wants to stop talking and kiss Fubuki full on his parted lips, but he won't do that. "I can't judge one person I love better than another. But if we can have moments like this occasionally, I'd like that a lot."

"I wouldn't say no," says Fubuki, and he laughs. "You know, I thought tonight might be weird, but I thought you'd just be afraid of me. I never expected this."

"Whatever this is," says Manjoume, smiling as Fubuki pulls him into a full embrace, Fubuki's cheek pressed against Manjoume's ear.

"I'm in no rush to name it," says Fubuki, stroking Manjoume's back.

That triggers an alarm in Manjoume's head and he jerks away, looking around frantically for a clock. "I probably should be in a rush. What's the time?"

"Past curfew," says Fubuki. "But you're wearing mostly black, you'll be able to sneak out, no problem."

"I could risk it," Manjoume looks unconvinced. "But I'm still not in Principal Samejima's good books over that business with the keys. If I get caught I'll be on cleaning duties for weeks."

"Well then, what to do?" Fubuki runs a hand through his long brown hair and Manjoume watches the bangs cascade back into place.

Manjoume meets Fubuki's gaze levelly, deciding to be bold. "I could stay here. There's no class to get ready for tomorrow, after all."

"And smuggle you out at breakfast? I suppose so. " Fubuki stretches and shifts his long legs over the side of the bed. "I don't mind taking the couch."

"There's no need, surely?" says Manjoume, his voice catching a little and pointing at the pink sheets beneath them. "There's room enough for two here."

"I can't deny that," says Fubuki, and Manjoume is oddly happy to notice that for once, he has made Fubuki blush. Turnabout is fair play, he figures. Fubuki continues, his mouth drawn tight and serious. "Are you sure you'd be okay with that?"

"It's not like we're going to do anything," Manjoume says.

"We'll be in even worse trouble if we're found out."

"Maybe. But I say it would be worth it." Manjoume gives a small, calm smile, and after a few moments Fubuki smiles with him.

Manjoume yawns in the dark and rolls over, so he's no longer back-to-back with Fubuki. It's a simple matter to reach out and touch Fubuki's back, feel the fabric of his turtleneck and imagine tracing the structure that lay underneath.

Fubuki turns his head, and Manjoume jerks his hand back. "Can't sleep?" says Fubuki.

"No," admits Manjoume, as tired as he is at this late hour.

"Me neither," says Fubuki, and he reaches back to pick up Manjoume's arm at the wrist, draping it over his own waist.

Manjoume's hand rests on Fubuki's belt. "It's not exactly comfortable, sleeping in clothes."

"Oh no, I'm not falling for that one," says Fubuki, and Manjoume can tell from the cadence of his voice that he's smiling.

Manjoume nestles in closer, following the line of Fubuki's body with his own. "Rejected again."

Fubuki places his forearm over Manjoume's and links their fingers. "I'd advise you to stop teasing the best friend with a gay crush on you if you don't want to get kicked out of bed."

"Why did you tell me?" Manjoume asks quietly, closing his eyes and feeling warmth and security.

"You deserved to know. And I thought it might boost your confidence." Fubuki strokes Manjoume's fingers, the barest of touches, sending an almost pins-and-needles shiver through Manjoume's core. "Why did you come here today?"

Manjoume furrows his eyebrows, thinking, trying to remember how different things had been a few short hours ago. "To see if we were still friends. To see if that was the limit of my feelings."


"We're friends. And there's a place in my heart reserved for you, Master." Manjoume buries his burning face between Fubuki's shoulder blades.

"Even if it's only part of your heart," whispers Fubuki, "I'll gladly take it if it's mine and mine alone."

"Always," sighs Manjoume, and Fubuki's slow and regular breathing eventually lulls him into the deep.