Tsuchi wiped his eyes as he wandered across the hall to room 123 and poked his head into the common room. He knew that Bankotsu was in room A and he knew that Bankotsu was feeling just as lousy as he was. Maybe they could console one another and work out their problems together.
"What's wrong with you, kid?" Naraku questioned without even looking up from the TV screen. He was playing some bloody, gory game on his Play Station, his fingers tapping incessantly on the controller buttons.
"Do you think…" Tsuchi paused for a moment, "Do you think he'll let me in?"
"Sure. You're pretty reasonable and the fruit fly listens to you." Had the senior looked up, he would have seen the stressed, devastated expression on Tsuchi's face and realized it was a bad idea to let the teenager in the room. Or it probably wouldn't have mattered; Naraku would have sent him in anyway.
"Okay." He paused outside the door of room A, raising his hand to knock. "Bankotsu?" He questioned softly.
Bankotsu pushed himself up off the bed at the sound of his friend's voice. "What?" He mumbled, crawling across the bed to where he could reach the doorknob. He fumbled with the knob. It was hard to twist it while he was lying across the bed in such an odd position, "Whaddya want, Tsuchi?"
"Can I come in?" Came the muffled response.
"I guess so." Bankotsu rolled back over, staring at the wall again as the door slowly opened.
"Are you okay?" Tsuchi closed the door behind him and stood there, his back resting against the door. He studied Bankotsu, huddled and defenseless on the bed, back to him. His braid snaked down off the edge of the bed, dangling and swinging slightly. Bankotsu's hair was so long…
"I'm okay as I can be, considering the man I love tells me on a regular basis that other men are attractive." Came the withering response.
A wry smile crossed Tsuchi's face. "I understand." He said slowly.
Bankotsu rolled back over so that he was facing the younger boy rather than the wall. "Is Keba still brooding over Kiyaku?" He asked.
Tsuchi's dark eyes shimmered with tears and his face crumpled. "I don't think he really loves me at all." He whispered, his voice choked with emotion, "I think he just…Because we were so close before."
"No, Tsuchi, it's not like that. Think about it. Kiyaku was the first guy Keba ever liked, right? Before that, he went after girls that were out of his league. He fell in love with Kiyaku when he was seventeen but didn't tell him until two years later and he knew it was too late when he did. He told you everything before he even told Kiyaku…He went to you when he was hurting. I don't think he's realized yet just how much he loves you."
Tsuchi leaned over the bed, staring down into Bankotsu's deep blue eyes. "What if…" He drew in closer, eyes clouding over, "…He realizes it too late?"
It took Bankotsu a moment to register what was happening as Tsuchi's mouth captured his. He froze, unable to process a coherent thought, as Jakotsu's voice drifted through his mind: "He thinks you're somethin' else…" His next clear thought left him horrified.
And he just kissed me!
Jakotsu couldn't shake the feeling of doom that was following him as he unlocked the door of his apartment. Something bad was going to happen; something that would make this whole situation much worse rather than better. He wasn't sure what exactly the nagging feeling was, but he knew that something was wrong.
The apartment seemed so lonely and empty as he pushed the door open. It was small and fairly bare -he didn't have much money, after all- but there was usually a welcoming, homey atmosphere due to the montage of photographs of himself and Bankotsu.
Today, the pictures only served to remind him of how messed up everything was.
He flopped down on the shabby sofa, kicking off his sandals and placing his feet on the coffee table. Two days. Bankotsu had been back for two days. And I've already managed to fuck things up. He sighed miserably, reaching blindly for the remote to his small TV.
He began flipping aimlessly through the channels, searching for something -anything- to take his mind off the way things were. Keba is right, He told himself, Things will look better in the morning. He just needs some time to cool down, then I can apologize. Everything will be okay; he's really not so angry…And I'll try harder to…to not comment on other guys. To not ogle Inu Yasha.
To prove to Bankotsu that I really do love him.
This decided, he looked back up at the TV. There was some sappy chick flick playing -he quickly flicked the button again. And continued flicking. Finally he settled on a mildly amusing game show rerun from about thirty years ago. He was still distracted, but doing anything was better than brooding.
He brooded anyway.
"Goddammit; everything was perfect." He dropped the remote on the floor, "Why did I have to fuck it all up? Shit, I need a drink."
Keba remained frozen in place on his bed, mouth hanging open as he tried to process what had just happened. He was stunned. He couldn't understand. He loved Tsuchi with all his heart and now…
Now Tsuchi was going to leave him, just like Kiyaku had.
This thought horrified him. Scared him out of his mind. He didn't think he could stand losing another person he loved. He could feel his eyes watering with tears; the back of his throat tightening. In a moment, he would be inconsolable, his chest heaving, tears spilling down his face as he cried. That's how it always was; that's how it always would be. Maybe he wasn't the kind of person who cried publicly, but when he did cry, it was bad.
Sobbing, he flopped down on the bed and buried his face in a pillow. He's going to leave me. Just like…He's going to leave me. He told me he never wanted me to go away, but now he's going to leave me. I told him…I promised him…Forever…I can't…I can't…He sniffled, hiccupping and shaking, his cries muffled by the feather pillow. Why does every one I love leave me? Why? What have I done wrong?
"Why? Why?! WHY?!"He screamed, throwing anything he could get his hands on. His pillow sailed across the room, landing in the hamper and a barrage of anime plushies pelted Tsuchi's bed. His other, smaller pillow slid under one of the beds and his alarm clock descended somewhere into the depths of the closet.
Then he grabbed the closest framed picture of himself and Tsuchi and flung it as hard as he could. It hit the wall, the glass shattering and spraying across Tsuchi's sheets.
Then he began sobbing again.
His whole body shook visibly and he could feel his throat tightening more. It was getting harder to breathe and he was still frightened and crying. His chest heaved as he tried to catch his breath, but he couldn't stop crying. If he didn't get a hold of himself soon…
Suddenly, he felt very warm and light-headed. A sort of tingly, prickly sensation coursed through him and he slumped back down on the bed. He was vaguely aware of that slow, surreal falling feeling as his face hit the mattress.
And then everything went black.
"Tsuchi! What the hell was that??" Horrified, Bankotsu pushed the younger boy away, trying to fight back the urge to blush. He scooted back on his bed as far as he could go until he bumped into the wall, then sat there staring at the other man, trying to find a reason for that sudden kiss.
Tsuchi suddenly seemed to realize what he had just done. Face flaming, he lowered his head, dark hair curtaining around his face. "I'm sorry…" He whispered, "Oh God, I'm sorry. I…" He faltered, trembling slightly, then his head rose again. His face was bright pink; his inky eyes wide and frightened. "You aren't…You don't…" He looked terrified. He looked like a scared animal; ready to run away at the slightest threat.
Bankotsu stared at the pattern on his bedspread as he tried to sort out the rush of emotions surging through him, then realized that he was more embarrassed than anything. Funny, but he didn't feel angry or grossed out or anything. In fact, he didn't really feel anything at all. The way that kiss had been…It was nothing like Jakotsu's kisses. It just…didn't mean anything. It didn't matter. Not at all.
Then he looked up. It certainly seemed to have mattered to Tsuchi. The sophomore looked mortified. He was babbling incoherently, his wide eyes never leaving Bankotsu's face as he apologized time and time again. The junior had never seen him so frightened or pitiable. Tsuchi had always struck him as some one strong.
The boy flinched at the sound of his name, taking a step back and crashing into Inu Yahsa's desk. He trembled slightly, waiting for the coming tirade. Bankotsu must have been angry with him….Bankotsu must have been disgusted. He cringed, wondering how badly damaged this friendship was.
Bankotsu felt sorry for him. Hell, he's really embarrassed…He must think I'm upset…"Tsuchi, calm down. I'm not mad at you." He sighed, moving forwards on the bed a little.
"You…You're not?" The other boy whispered. He looked back up, eyes meeting Bankotsu's, his expression one of incredulity.
"I'm not. Just…don't do that ever again." The braided boy looked at the wall, his cheeks tinged pink.
"I'm sorry…" Tsuchi whispered again, "I didn't mean…I was confused. I just…I want him to hurt the way I do…I want him to be jealous. I want him to feel something because of me. And if…" His face reddened, "If it had to be any one else, it would only be you."
Bankotsu flushed red, his mouth opening and then closing again.
"I know…" Tsuchi continued quietly, "You aren't gay. The only guy you like is Jakotsu. And no matter how much he hurts me, I love Keba anyway. I guess…I just wanted you to know. No regrets and all." He smiled weakly, wiping the tears from his eyes, "I'm really sorry."
"Look, I understand." The other boy scratched the back of his head, dropping his gaze back down to the bed, "But maybe…maybe it would be better…if you left now." He stammered, "Keba is probably upset."
"Yeah…I did yell at him and all…" Tsuchi sighed, "I guess I'll see you later then."
Feeling even more confused and lonely, the sophomore wandered back out into the hall, ignoring Naraku on his way by. He wasn't quite sure where he wanted to go or what he wanted to do. What he would have preferred was to go back into the room and cry while Keba held him and told him it was okay, but seeing as Keba was the one who had hurt and angered him, that would only defeat the purpose.
Maybe I'll go up to the Union and sit by the pond…He thought, I do need some time to think and that's one of the best places here to be alone. But I need to get my ID out of the room…
He dreaded going back in there. He knew if he saw Keba while he was still so emotionally wired, he would probably just yell more, then cry, and he didn't want that. He just wanted to be anywhere but there.
The door to room A was still ajar when he hesitantly entered the common room. He paused, hand above the knob, not really wanting to go in but finding it necessary.
But enter he must and enter he did, swinging the door open to find the room a complete shambles and Keba…unconscious on the bed.
Jakotsu rolled over, curling up on his side on the couch. He had a pounding headache and he had to pee, but he didn't think he could even stand up. He wasn't even sure how much he had drank, but his refrigerator was nearly empty and several drained bottles littered the floor.
And yet, he still didn't feel any better.
"Fuck." He mumbled. I think I just made things even worse. I'm going to be a fucking mess tomorrow and my apology will come out fucking wrong and then he'll only get madder at me. "Fuck; fuck; fuck." Why, oh why, did I drink all of that??? "He's never gonna forgive me…I'm in a shit-load of trouble…Dammit; I'm such an idiot. Best I've ever had and I'm going to lose him…" The only one I've ever loved…I do love him. I really, truly do…
And now I've fucked up big time.
"Keba!!" Tsuchi rushed over to his friend's bed. The brunet was slumped over on the bed, his face streaked with tears and his breathing labored. The room was a mess; there were pillows and stuffed animals all over the place, not to mention a shower of glass shards across his own bed. "Keba…Oh no…This is all my fault…"
He gently shook the older boy by the shoulder, trying to bring him around again. "Please Keba…Be okay; please." He rolled Keba over on his back, "Dammit; I got you upset, didn't I? I'm so sorry…Please; I never wanted this to happen…I wasn't thinking…" His eyes welled with tears, "I need you…I love you…Keba…Kuraku…Please…"
Keba moved ever so slightly, fresh tears rolling down his face as he struggled to catch his breath. "Tsu…chi…" He managed to gasp out, "…Sorry…"
Tsuchi sagged with relief. "No…You have nothing to be sorry about." He stroked Keba's cheek, "It was my fault." He looked away; face pale, eyes clouded with tears. "I'm sorry; I shouldn't have said all of those things." He glanced back up, gaze meeting Keba's for a second, then looked back down at the floor. "Do you want your inhaler?" He asked quietly.
"Top drawer…" Came the mumbled reply, "Shake it…" Keba slumped back down against the mattress, tears soaking into the sheets. "I…I was a-afraid you…" He paused, inhaling, trying to gain control over himself.
"Afraid I would what?" Tsuchi's voice was low as he shook the inhaler, "You need to sit up. Can you…?"
"…I w-was afraid you would le-leave me." Keba pushed himself up into a sitting position, using the wall for support. "I was afraid you," He paused, wheezing, "Would leave me l-like Kiyaku did…"
Tsuchi looked down at his feet, handing the medicine to his boyfriend. "I won't leave. I told you; never. I was just…feeling hurt and jealous." There was a whoosh sound as Keba puffed on the inhaler, followed by a long silence and some wheezy breathing.
There was a heavy sigh and then Keba spoke. "I'm sorry, Tsu. I'm so sorry." He paused, "I don't want to hurt you. I know I do, but I never wanted to. I've loved you since before we met, Tsuchi, and I will always love you. But I love Kiyaku as well and it may take a very long time for that to fade."
"I know…" Tsuchi lowered his head again, "I guess I just wish it didn't have to be that way. I understand why it is, but it makes me feel like a failure or something…Like I'm not good enough."
"That's not true." Keba's eyes widened slightly, "Here, come up here with me." He edged over slightly, creating room for Tsuchi to sit beside him.
The dark haired boy climbed up on the bed, settling himself next to Keba and resting his head on the older man's shoulder. He played absently with a lock of Keba's hair, staring off at the wall instead of his friend. "I love you and don't be mad…I…I kissed Bankotsu."
Keba didn't even miss a beat. "Was it hot?" He grinned, "I woulda liked to see that."
"I'm being serious…" Tsuchi said miserably, "After I yelled at you…I went over there and he tried to calm me down and I kissed him." He blushed lightly, his eyes welling with tears.
"Honey…Oh, don't cry…" Keba pulled him closer, burying his face in his hair. "I won't get mad. I know you've got a little thing for him and all." He nuzzled against Tsuchi's neck, "We're even now."
The sophomore sniffled. "You don't care?"
"Should I? Did it mean anything? Was it nice?"
"I…guess it didn't really feel like anything." Tsuchi said slowly, glancing up and meeting Keba's gaze, "Maybe because I don't love him the way I love you." He smiled shyly, "He's my friend, but you…You're special."
Keba grinned, twisting slightly to kiss Tsuchi on the nose. "You're special too, honey." He said softly, "And I heard before…You called me by my name."
"I was worried…" Tsuchi snuggled closer to him, burrowing into his embrace. "I was worried you wouldn't wake up and I would be alone. It scared me more than anything because I love you in all of your joys and sorrows, Kuraku."
A slow smile crossed the other boy's face. "And I love you, Tsuchi." He stroked the young man's cheek with his thumb, ducking down to kiss him gently, "I will always love you. And everything is going to be all right."
"D'you think that Bankotsu and Jakotsu will be okay? Bankotsu is really angry." Tsuchi snuggled down beside Keba, hair falling lightly across his face. "I'm worried about what will happen to them if they break up…"
"Don't worry." Keba petted his companion, smiling fondly, "I don't think they'll break up. They love each other too much, even if they are having some problems. Nobody is used to things being like this." He ran his hand through Tsuchi's hair, pushing long strands from his eyes, "They'll work it out."
"I hope so." The younger man sighed, "I don't like seeing people sad and upset."
"I know, honey." Keba cuddled him close, "But you have no control over this and they need to work it out on their own, you know? So try not to worry too much…They'll take care of their problems and all we can do is be there for them until they do. I believe it will all work out in the end." He yawned, "So don't fret over it."
"Are you tired?" Tsuchi suddenly looked concernedly up at Keba, "You must be exhausted. My bed is a mess…"
"I'll clean it up tomorrow." Keba's brown eyes slid shut and he sighed heavily, "I'm sorry I trashed the room."
"You were angry. I understand." A light blush crossed the boy's face, "But what I meant is I'll stay here with you tonight." He paused, "If that's okay with you."
Keba smiled lazily. "Do you really need to ask? Of course it's okay." He flopped down on his back, pulling Tsuchi down with him and holding him close. "It's very okay." He drew the younger man's face down, kissing him softly, "I'm so sorry I made you feel bad before. I want you to be there for me when I'm hurting, not feel bad because of it." His finger traced along Tsuchi's jaw line, "I want to share my sorrow with you because I want us to share everything."
"Everything?" Tsuchi rested his head upon Keba's chest, listening to the beating of his heart; the ragged, raspy breathing that went hand-in-hand with Keba's asthma. It's my fault he can't breathe…I made him cry…I just don't understand at all. I try and try, but I can't understand why he can't let Kiyaku go…And it only makes us both suffer. "I wish I understood better. I love you…I want to understand."
"It's not your fault you don't understand." Keba kissed the top of his head, "Even I don't understand at times. Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to go to sleep. It's been a long, emotional day."
"Okay." Tsuchi settled down next to Keba, his head under the brunet's chin. It's not my fault I don't understand…But I do want to. I'll try harder…I promise; I'll try to understand you better. He softly kissed Keba's neck, to which the older man purred lightly. "Don't ever leave me…" He whispered.
"Mmm…You say something?" Keba mumbled as he shifted slightly in an attempt to get more comfortable.
"No. Go to sleep." He smiled fondly, stroking the other man's cheek. "I love you."
"Love you too." Keba mumbled as he drifted off to sleep, fingers curled possessively through Tsuchi's hair, "Forever."