Title: Hot
Series: Mai-HiME
Pairing: Takumi + Akira
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Set during the series, pre-episode 16
Warnings: Sexuality issues, sex-related discussions

Takumi had never thought of himself as gay.

He knew about it, of course. Even as a kid. He was five, clutching at the side of his father's pant leg; he saw two men sitting close together, eyes woobly like the princess and her prince in Sister's storybooks. He asked his father about it and was promptly steered away with instructions to keep to himself, but one of the men looked up and grinned at him wryly. Takumi waved hesitantly back before Papa pulled him too far.

Then he was nine, and Sister giggled when she saw two men together -- different this time, teenagers (not men), but to Takumi, they all looked the same --, one of them kissing the other fondly on the cheek; Takumi asked about it, whispering this time because he remembered Papa, and Sister said, "They love each other, silly!" He stared, wide-eyed, and wondered vaguely if cheek-kissing was a Mama-and-Papa thing.

Sister said no, no it couldn't be, because they kissed. "See?" she said, and kissed him on the cheek. He squirmed and fretted at her, flushing; he was nine now, and Big Sisters don't kiss nine-year-old Little Brothers. He was too big for that, even if he still crawled in with her at night when he was scared. Nights were different.

And it was different now, twelve years old and in boarding school. He knew what homosexuality was now, and didn't have to be told anymore.

Takumi still didn't think of himself as gay.

"Someone's trying to get your attention," informed Akira, poking him without looking up from his sketchbook. Takumi jerked up and stared in confusion, but Akira didn't bother to explain; instead he gestured sharply with his pen, in front of them. Takumi looked to see a couple boys in their class, staring widely at the two of them.

"Wow," expressed the first, a spiky-haired boy named Ichiro, "we didn't even say anything."

"Yeah, Okuzaki, you're scary!" Tsuyoshi (the second) said.

Akira murmured something non-committable, resuming his sketch. Takumi leaned over and caught a glimpse of an arm (hand-holding-an-apple) before he looked away, up at the two boys.

"What do you need?" Takumi asked, figuring that if his roommate wasn't going to be polite, he might as well try.

"Well, you two haven't weighed in," Ichiro said, yanking a chair from another desk and twisting it around, sitting on it backward. Tsuyoshi didn't bother with that, perching on the edge of Takumi's desk instead. (The last person who had shaken Akira's desk when he was trying to draw had gotten a pencil pinned eerily close to their left ear and what was possibly the most fearsome glare Takumi had ever seen. Akira really wasn't the most socially well-adjusted of people. Though he was finally eating Takumi's food instead of yelling at him to leave, so Takumi figured he wasn't a total lost cause.)

"On what?" Takumi asked, poking at the remains of his lunch. The last few bits of rice were scooped up on his chopsticks and shoved into his mouth.

"Which girl in our class is hottest," Tsuyoshi said, grinning in a way that he probably thought looked suave, but Takumi thought looked more like a grimace.

A moment of silence passed, in which Takumi stared blankly and Akira actually looked up from his sketchbook to stare skeptically at the two others.

"Well?" Ichiro asked, glancing between the two of them. "C'mon, everyone else has weighed in. So far, a lot of people think Chie is prettiest, but Satoko has, y'know--" and he gestured as though he was holding a couple melons to his chest, snickering shrilly. "So, what do you two thi--"

"I don't care," Akira said shortly. But he looked up and capped his pen, staring at Ichiro and Tsuyoshi coolly. Both boys edged minutely away, exchanging a nervous glance, and looked over at Takumi.

"Um," Takumi said, glancing around. It was hard, being put on the spot like this, especially now that Akira was gazing at him with a speculative sort of interest, as though he thought Takumi really shouldn't care either. A flush began to work its way up Takumi's neck and he looked around to distract himself. The girls around the room were clumped together in little groups, but he picked out Chie -- small and thin, with makeup highlighting her small nose and smooth cheeks -- and Satoko -- top buttons undone, skirt hiked up to show her long legs --, but neither of them struck him as someone he would pick. If he was going to pick.

"They're all nice," said Takumi in the end, shrugging.

"No," Tsuyoshi protested, slinging an arm over Takumi's shoulders and sighing. "That's not an answer!"

"Yeah, we need a definite answer!" Ichiro demanded. He looked over, "You too, Okuzaki, come on. Stop glaring at me, we can't have good results if people don't participate."

Akira rolled his eyes. "You won't get good results, anyway. People have different tastes."

"How hard is it? Girls are girls," Ichiro said, as Tsuyoshi kept prodding Takumi to choose. "You have hot ones, ugly ones, and in between. It's not hard."

"You're a moron," Akira said after a moment of silence, face carefully blank.

Ichiro flushed brightly, glaring at Akira hotly. "Hey, now, you--"

"Oh!" Takumi said, cutting Ichiro off before he could start yelling at Akira. Not that Akira couldn't handle himself -- Takumi knew he could --, but Ichiro was stupid and would take it badly. Probably already did, but Ichiro was a hothead and usually burnt out as soon as he sparked, if smothered soon enough.

"Um," Takumi said as soon as all eyes were on him, "Well. I think. Her."

He pointed at neither Chie or Satoko, but rather at a tall skinny girl named Erina, who had stopped next to Takumi the day before when he was short of breath and rubbed his back. It hadn't even been embarrassing; she asked, "Are you okay?" and talked to him about various schoolwork until he settled, rubbing just like Sister did when he had attacks. Akira had arrived shortly after and watched them silently, expression blank, but Erina didn't even act scared of him like some of the other girls did. "Your roommate was having some trouble," she informed politely, though she was blushing when she walked away. Takumi wondered vaguely if Akira would comfort him as well, if it happened, but he had never had an attack in front of Akira yet and didn't really want to.

"Her?" Tsuyoshi replied incredulously.

"She's completely flat," Ichiro said.

"She's nice," Takumi defended. It was easier to talk about Erina, anyway -- easier because no one cared if you didn't blush over a plain-looking girl, but attractive ones were supposed to be ogled over. But Takumi helped Chie with her homework sometimes and had (on occasion) spoken to Satoko, without really caring much about the thin waist or bouncing chest in front of him. Besides, he did like Erina. She was pretty in a gangly sort of way.

Tsuyoshi snorted, but changed it to a small cough at a glare from Akira. He leaned back but kept his hand on Takumi's shoulder, saying, "This isn't about how nice they are, it's about how hot they are. Erina isn't hot."

Takumi shrugged. "I like her. She's my vote."

"I'll vote for her, too," Akira said. Tsuyoshi and Ochiro stared at him, surprised. "If you're so insistent on your stupid vote and all. I'll vote for Erina." Akira glanced over at Takumi, and Takumi suddenly realized that Akira understood. Or. Maybe not understood entirely, but Takumi had been raised primarily by his older sister, and he knew girls weren't just pictures. (Sister would have shouted at him for that, hand on her hip and too-big apron draping down to her knees, and it hurt just to think of how much Mai had to do when she was just a kid like him.)

And maybe Akira thought the whole thing was stupid, but he was a loyal sort, and he had eaten Takumi's food, so Takumi assumed that made them friends of a sort.

"No, that doesn't help," Tsuyoshi said.

"It doesn't matter," Akira replied, pointing. "The teacher's back."

"But your vote--" Ichiro said, standing and shoving the chair back where it belonged.

"Erina," Takumi interrupted pleasantly.

Ichiro made a face and Tsuyoshi frowned, but the teacher was calling for them to pay attention, so they were at a loss. Class resumed, a dull lesson that left Takumi staring blankly at the notes in front of his face. To his side, Akira was sketching again, and Takumi thought he could see the outline of a girl's uniform on the skinny body attached to the apple-holding hand. Maybe Akira was drawing Erina. Takumi wondered if Akira actually liked Erina -- he had seemed disconcerted when he found them on the bench after Takumi's attack, more irritable than usual, and Takumi couldn't help but be concerned. Akira was so hard to pin down, and so far, Takumi felt like he was standing outside of a cage, looking in at the mystery.

It was a nice mystery, a puzzle to unfold -- a very manly boy who didn't get along with the other very manly boys of their grade. "Too stupid," Akira had explained, the morning after he first ate Takumi's dinner, thus succumbing to the offer of friendship extended. "They don't get what it's like to be a man, anyway."

"Apparently, neither do I," Takumi had said, grinning softly.

"You're just too girly," Akira explained. "That's different. They watch too much porn."

Takumi couldn't help but laugh at that, and then Akira had smiled at him, a quick upturn of the lips. It was a startling thing -- an action that almost changed his entire face from intriguing to attractive, and Takumi suddenly got why some of the girls in their grade whispered behind their hands at him. He ducked his head to hide his blush, but Akira had turned away anyway, smile gone with the moment.

Erina liked Akira too, Takumi thought. She had been one of the girls to giggle when Akira walked by, Takumi following just far enough behind him to notice. Akira certainly never did, though, so maybe it wasn't reciprocal. Maybe Akira really did understand what Takumi thought, though he really hoped that wasn't the case -- Takumi was fairly certain he liked Akira (kindof-maybe-almost), but that was not something you told your roommate. Your male roommate. And it wasn't Akira's fault his eyes were pretty and he looked nice when he smiled, so Takumi didn't think Akira should have to feel awkward because of it.

When class was over, they neatly avoided talking to Tsuyoshi and Ichiro again, because neither really wanted to get into that debate again. Takumi usually tagged along with Akira to art club, or at least to the door, so it was without saying that they both left together. It was on the way to their dorm, so he waited while Akira dug in his locker to pulled out his art supplies, which was surprisingly chaotic for someone so controlled. Takumi had offered to help clean (both locker and room both), but Akira reacted violently to that, as though he was affronted by the very idea. Takumi had gotten another "you're too feminine" lecture for it, so he stopped trying.

"So, Erina, then?" Akira asked as he fished through a pile of papers.

Takumi blinked, looking down to stare at him. After a moment of confusion, Takumi said, "Yeah, I guess."

"You actually think that, or were you just saying it? To get rid of them?"

He didn't really like the direction this was going -- usually, Takumi was the one to instigate deeper conversations, launching off of some comment by Akira to touch on a deeper meaning, which actually tended to kill the conversation. Akira wasn't much for deep thoughts a lot of the time. But when Akira had questions, he asked them, though he was just polite enough to do so in a roundabout manner.

"I--," Takumi said, looking away. "She's pretty, but I don't like her like that." He grinned slightly, teasing, "I think she likes you, though."

"Che," Akira said. He didn't blush, which Takumi tried very hard not to notice. "Girls are stupid, too."

"Do you think everyone's stupid?" Takumi asked with a small laugh.

Akira stood up, having found the bag he was looking for, and shut his locker with a foot. He shrugged at Takumi and said, "A little. Most people get over it, I think." There was a moment of silence as Akira shoved the small bag in his backpack and slung the pack on his back. They walked for a moment down the hall, which was rapidly clearing now that school was out and clubs were beginning.

Then Akira asked, "Why didn't you pick Satoko?"

Well, that was unexpected -- Takumi didn't think that Akira liked big breasted girls. He had certainly talked to Takumi's sister with little more than a twitch, and most boys had a tendency to stare blatantly at her chest, regardless.

"Were you going to pick Satoko?" Takumi replied curiously.

"It's a dumb game, I wasn't going to pick," Akira said coolly, nose twitching. "But you did. All the other boys were picking Satoko."

"No, some of them picked Chie," Takumi protested. Akira said nothing, staring at him and waiting for an answer, and Takumi sighed. Finally, he shrugged and said, "Girls don't need big breasts to be pretty. Or makeup. Other stuff makes people pretty." Like having a smile that lights up his face, or intense eyes that can make others feel rather awkward for no reason.

Akira didn't reply, though he looked pensive.

They arrived at the door to the art room before either of them said anything else, but before he turned to go in, Akira said, "I think I agree. With what you said, I mean."

"That other stuff makes people pretty?" Takumi asked, smiling.

"Well, yeah," Akira said, fiddling with the straps on his bag. They had paused, standing in front of the door, and Akira was looking uncomfortable. Then he said, "And a big, y'know, chest, it's not that big of a deal. I don't think. Right?" His eyes lowered and then raised again, clearly seeking more confirmation and fighting embarrassment. Takumi understood -- unlike some of the other boys in their year, he and Akira seemed to have missed the point when talking about girls' bodies became easy. It was just weird.

"Yeah," agreed Takumi simply. "I'll see you at home, okay?"

"Ah, sure," Akira said, glancing at the door sharply, as though he hadn't quite realized where they were. He waved back as he turned away, and Takumi was pretty sure he caught a hint of blush on the shorter boy's cheeks.

Takumi smiled fondly as the door closed in his face, turning and continuing his path back home. Perhaps it didn't matter so much what the other boys in his class thought, anyway, if they were going to focus on specific things instead of the whole. No one was forcing him to look or not, and Takumi thought he'd focus on what he thought was pretty instead.

Besides, Akira was cute when he blushed, too.