Reiji was confusing. Probably the most confusing person that Yuya had ever met.
One moment, he was the reserved genius, hiding behind his glasses, the soft-spoken manipulator that drove Yuya mad. The next moment, he was the socially inept recluse that forgot that he was supposed to eat and sleep. And the moment after that, he was the gentle, methodical examiner who checked over Yuya's wounds with a critical eye, the man with gentle fingers and a quiet voice on the other end of the radio saying 'yes. Yes I was worried about you.'
Yuya stared at the back of Reiji's head, willing him to turn around and look at him. It had been several hours since the mysterious head of the Lancers had treated Yuya's wounds, and he still felt stiff, but much better than before.
Look at me, dammit, he thought. Look at me. Don't pretend to ignore me after...that.
He couldn't deny the weird tingles that went down his arms every time he thought Reiji's cool fingers dabbing at his wounds, those dark, unreadable eyes narrowing at the sight of Yuya's injuries. He felt a heat rise to his cheeks that he didn't want to acknowledge.
He was going to surrender. Reiji. Reiji was going to surrender because of me.
Who exactly was this guy, anyway? Yuya couldn't get a handle on him. It was confusing just to look at him, to compare this quiet man at work at his computer with the young man that had stood across the field and let his hand hover over his deck in anticipation of surrender.
Do you really care, or are you just manipulating me again?
No. That wasn't it. He knew it—somehow. But it chafed at him, the thought that maybe Reiji was just doing this for the same reason he had manipulated their previous duels, the same reason he had kept Yuzu's true location from him before.
For some reason, the idea that he was just using Yuya hurt. A lot.
It shouldn't. He had already decided to hate Akaba Reiji. Hadn't he? His ire with the other teenager felt like it was fading from him.
"What are you doing?" he finally asked, tired of being ignored.
And still, Reiji did not respond right away. When he did look up from the computer, it was with groggy eyes that he blinked away quickly. Had he been not sleeping again?
"Hm? Ah. Yuya. When did you arrive?"
"I've been here for the past ten minutes."
"Ah. Why didn't you say something?"
Yuya sighed and rolled his eyes. He really was in his own little world, wasn't he?
"What are you doing?" he repeated.
Reiji glanced down at the screen.
"Checking over the data you brought back from Kaiba Corporation."
"I see no evidence of Academy connections; at least, not the Fusion dimension's version. There appears to be a version of the Academy in this universe, but it is only that. A school. It doesn't appear to have the military capabilities of the Fusion version."
"That's good, right?"
"Mm. It's encouraging, on one hand. On the other, we could be hard-pressed to find able duelists on the level of the Academy's trained soldiers."
Yuya shrugged, frowning.
"But you found us, in Standard."
"We have only nine that reached my level of qualification. If all I can expect from here is another nine, we may end up being in over our heads in this fight."
Reiji let out a soft sigh. It was quiet, so quiet that Yuya almost didn't hear it—but it was tired. So, so tired.
How did you end up being in charge of all of this, anyway? You're only sixteen.
He frowned again, looking at the screen. Nothing made sense to him on it, just a lot of numbers and fancy words. He looked down at Reiji.
"You look tired," he said.
Reiji blinked. He glanced at Yuya, frowning.
"I said you look tired. Are you not sleeping again?"
"Concerned for me again, Yuya?"
Yuya huffed, folding his arms.
"Oy, look, just because you're a dick, doesn't mean I want you to keel over and die, you know?"
Reiji just smiled at that, shaking his head, and didn't respond. Yuya frowned. He put a hand on the desk, leaning on it so that he was facing Reiji.
"I'm serious. Are you not sleeping?"
Reiji smiled blandly up at Yuya.
"I have not slept well in three years Yuya. I doubt I will until this whole matter is dealt with."
And then he looked back down at his computer screen, a signal that he thought the conversation was over. Yuya, however, was not backing down.
"Maybe you need to stop staring at the computer screen," he said. "You have a whole team of Lancers. Get somebody else to do it for once. You look like you could sleep right now if you would let yourself."
Reiji hesitated in the middle of typing, his fingers hovering over the keyboard. Finally, he rested his hands lightly atop the keys, and looked up at Yuya again, curiosity flashing across his face. He stared at Yuya for a long, somewhat uncomfortable moment.
"What?" Yuya said.
Reiji shook his head.
"Nothing," he said. "I was only thinking...you are a very confusing person, Sakaki Yuya."
Yuya looked rather comical with that disbelieving expression.
"Me? I'm confusing? You're the confusing one," he said.
Reiji had to smile at that.
"Oh? How so?"
"You...you just...ugh! This is why. This is exactly why."
Reiji chuckled. Yuya certainly was expressive. It was...rather endearing, despite how Reiji had viewed his emotional tendencies previously, and still did, to a point. He couldn't have his most important member of the Lancers relying entirely on his emotional state for evolution; that was far too untrustworthy a method.
"You'll have to be more specific than that," he said, shaking his head with a slight smile.
"Well, what about me? How am I confusing?"
"Because you seem to care about my wellbeing when I have given you absolutely no reason to. I will be blunt with you, Yuya. I have manipulated you to an extraordinary degree to get you into the Lancers, and I am certain that you are quite aware of it. You have made it quite clear your feelings for me."
And yet, as he spoke, he felt like the words tasted bad in his mouth. He didn't want these words to be true. That last sentence—he didn't want Yuya's hate to be true. He knew it was, though. Yuya would always hold some animosity towards him. It was to be expected. He had expected it from the beginning.
"...I don't know if I have."
He said it so, so quietly. Reiji thought that maybe he had misheard him. He glanced up at the boy despite feeling uncharacteristically anxious about doing so. Yuya was staring at him, brows drawn together over crimson eyes, chewing on his lip.
"You're so damn confusing," he said. "You say stuff like that and then—and then you do other stuff.:
"You'll have to be a tad more specific," Reiji said.
"You were going to surrender to Yuuri. Don't pretend like you weren't. Why?"
Reiji dropped his gaze. He could feel the heat of the computer on his hands, his fingers still resting on the keyboard. The room felt...like static, all of a sudden. There was a buzz in the air—or was that just in his head?
"I don't know," he said finally. "I was just...going to."
Yuya stared down at him.
"Gah," he muttered. "You really are confusing."
He took a step back. For a moment, Reiji thought he was going to leave.
"Do you know why I wanted to be an Entertainment Duelist?"
It was an odd question, one that Reiji had to hesitate before answering. Where did this come from?
"I assume it was to follow in your father's footsteps."
Yuya shifted, looking down at the ground.
"That was...part of it."
He hesitated, the silence growing.
"Because...because I want to see people smile," he said. "When I make people smile, it's like...I feel like I'm allowed to smile, then. I've always had trouble smiling."
Reiji couldn't keep the surprise out of his voice.
"Yeah, me," Yuya said, smiling wryly. "I just...I want people to smile. Because it hurts to not be able to."
Reiji stared up at Yuya. Their eyes met for the first time since Reiji had dropped his eyes.
"What brought this on?" he asked softly.
Yuya's eyes...they were such a deep, determined shade.
"Because...because I don't think I've ever seen you smile before, Reiji. I—I kinda want to see you smile."
He paused. A blush crept over his cheeks.
"B-because—because you're just such a stick-in-the-mud. You don't take care of yourself, you don't ever look happy, it's annoying. You're annoying."
Reiji found himself speechless for a long moment, and Yuya continued to babble.
"It's just—ugh! You're an ass, and you say all these terrible things, and you don't seem to actually care about anyone but then you go and do something weirdly heroic and it just annoys the shit out of me—"
Reiji wasn't entirely sure what he was doing, but the spark in his chest told him that he should. He leaned forward, almost at the same height as Yuya in his tall chair, and cut Yuya off with a brief, brush of his lips.
Yuya froze. Reiji could feel the heat of the boy's cheeks against his own. And then, Yuya slowly, slowly pressed back. Reiji's eyes fluttered shut for a brief moment.
And the the contact ended. They both drew back, Yuya flushing as he skittered back a few feet and stared at the floor.
Reiji anticipated more flustered words. Something along the lines of 'what the hell was that for?'
But none came. Reiji himself sat there in silence, feeling his heart hammer in his chest. Tingles ran down his skin. Nothing had felt more...right than that. Nothing had felt more right in three years, and even then, he felt...somehow guilty about it.
Yuya didn't look at him. Reiji thought that if he could see under those thick bangs, he would see Yuya's face going a beet red.
"...what was that for?"
Reiji looked away.
He turned back to the computer, to go back to work. Now the guilt was really eating away at him. He should have known better. He should have anticipated this, anticipated that he was going to lose control and give in to feelings that he had no right to have. From the very beginning, he had been trying to ignore the signs in himself—ever since he had seen those eyes...
The words startled Reiji out of his reverie. He turned in his swivel chair to face Yuya again. This time, Yuya was looking right at him, still flushed.
"I said, don't apologize, ass," Yuya muttered. "Don't do something like that and then try to slip out of it with a sorry."
And then Yuya was stepping forward and pressing his lips firmly against Reiji's—it was an impulsive, petulant move, and for a moment, Reiji could only freeze. Then he found himself kissing back, giving in to those uncertain feelings, letting Yuya's arms wrap around his shoulders and his own hands slide onto Yuya's side.
They broke apart, and both of them were breathing a bit more heavily than usual. Reiji wondered if his face was as red as Yuya's. He wondered vaguely if anyone was going to walk in on them, now.
"You are very confusing, Sakaki Yuya," he muttered.
"Not as confusing as you, grumpy-pants," Yuya muttered back.
He wasn't letting go of Reiji. Reiji wasn't letting go of him. His lips twitched upwards in to half a smile. Yuya's eyes actually widened at that.
"I knew you could smile, you grumpy ass," he said.
Reiji laughed softly.
"If you want to see me smile," he said. "You're going to have to keep entertaining me, sir Entertainment Duelist."
"You're a dumbass," Yuya muttered back.
But he half smiled himself.
It made Reiji want to smile more.
A/N: Welp, that's the end of Pendulm Week...I hope you enjoyed this! I'll probs write some more Pendulumshipping eventually, but that's the end of Swaying of My Soul. Thanks for coming along for the ride this week!