I Wanna Be Your (Expletive Deleted)

It was pouring when Tetsuya returned to the Kasanoda residence. The rain had soaked his clothes and long hair in no time, a fact which Kasanoda Ritsu remarked on when he entered the room. "You're soaked."

"I know."

"You're dripping wet." He didn't actually look up when he said this. The TV set was on, playing some prime time variety show, but Kasanoda was preoccupied with something on the table he was hunched over.

"Don't worry," Tetsuya told him. He sat down with his back toward Kasanoda, shrugging off his sopping coat. "I won't catch a fever." But his heart wasn't really in it. Something else weighed on his mind.

As though reading it, the young master said, "Hey, you're back late. You didn't tell me you were going out."

"Oh yeah." Tetsuya tried to sound as nonchalant as he could, because he really didn't want to talk about it. "The guys conveniently forgot to inform me we were out of milk and eggs, so I had to make an emergency grocery run before tomorrow's breakfast."

Never mind that he hadn't brought any bags with him, or that the refrigerator was in fact well stocked. But if Tetsuya closed his eyes, he could still feel the blood on his hands, even though the rain water washed the rest of it off on his way over here. A drop of rain rolled off the tip of a lock of hair to splash against his cheek, and the impact shook him unusually hard.

Kasanoda didn't notice one way or another. He just said absently as the television audience laughed at something on the program, "That's awful nice of you. Let me know if you need reimbursement."

"Waka. . . ."

It just sort of slipped out, and Tetsuya wasn't sure how.

"I did a really bad thing."

He just couldn't hold it back any longer. He hadn't wanted to say it, but it had to come out, like an animal clawing at his throat.

It was the absolute truth, yet Kasanoda just hummed. Obviously he wasn't paying attention to anything other than what was on the table in front of him.

Between the sound of that and the television and the rain pouring outside, it was all quickly driving Tetsuya out of what few wits he had left. He had to find out what the young master was working on or he would go mad. "Whatcha got there, anyway? A new model kit? I didn't know you were into those."

Instead, Tetsuya looked over Kasanoda's shoulder to see an array of paper charms, straw dolls, and other suspicious-looking magical sundries. "What the—"

"It's just a few things a classmate gave me," Kasanoda said, and proceeded to bring his arms up over them like a mother hen shielding her chicks. "It's supposed to increase my chances."

"Chances of what?"

"Of Fujioka liking me."

"What, you mean like magic?" Tetsuya's gaze flitted from a love-love umbrella to a pair of chopsticks with "Kasanoda Ritsu" and "Fujioka Haruhi" written on each stick.

Seeing his disgusted look, Kasanoda uttered a tiny, "She said at least one of them was guaranteed to work."

"You mean to tell me you spent good money on this junk?"

Normally Tetsuya wouldn't be caught dead talking back to the young master like that. Normally he respected Kasanoda Ritsu too much to harbor anything but a patient admiration for him. But suddenly Tetsuya found himself slipping into that person he was before he ever came to the Kasanoda household—that impetuous person he was back when he was a Sendou. He wasn't really sure how exactly it came about, only that suddenly he wasn't sure which riled him more—that the young master had been so gullible, or that Tetsuya himself was actually jealous that Kasanoda had a crush on a male classmate. A cute one at that, who obviously didn't return these wasted sentiments.

Or maybe what angered him most was that all this had to come at a time when he already had very grave things to worry about.

"Give it up," he sighed. "You know that kid is too dense to be into you. I thought he said he considered you two good friends."

"That doesn't mean I have to give up hope."

If I do, thought Tetsuya, then so do you. It's only fair. "Give it here," he said, making a move for the straw doll.

Kasanoda went to grab it back. "Hey, careful with that! It's delicate."

"Oh, grow up, Waka!"

"Give it back, I said!"

"Spoiled brat!"

"Drowned rat!"

Push literally came to shove, and they ended up in a bit of a tussle, which Tetsuya lost. But neither really had the heart for fighting, and within moments they were both on their backs, each distracted by his own respective predicament as they lay staring up at the ceiling, breathing hard like after one of their can-kicking games. Despite his desperate circumstances—or maybe because of them—Tetsuya couldn't complain. He was shoulder to shoulder with the young master, breathing in the scent of him—unaware that Kasanoda was unwittingly doing the same thing, catching the subversive scent on Tetsuya's clothes of cigarettes and coffee even though he had long given up both.

It didn't matter that they'd ended up that way because of an argument. The noise from the television slowly drowned out their own respective thoughts until all they could really do was feel.

Tetsuya wished he could stay like that forever. He wished he could forget where he had just come from, just slip out of time altogether and spend the rest of his life in a single moment from which there could be no looking back with regret or worrying about the future. But he knew that wasn't the way the world worked.

As these things have a tendency to happen, that was when the ad came on.

"Let's run away," said Tetsuya.

"What?"

It must not have sounded like him, but the music was kind of getting to him.

"Just for a little while. Let's be impulsive, get away for a few days, take a trip. Just the two of us. We never do anything just the two of us. Even kick-the-can needs a whole bunch of people to be any fun."

The couple on the TV screen looked so happy, not a care in the world as they cruised in their car, walked on the beach, taking in the history, the atmosphere, the shrine and the ocean, all to some sappy Spitz number—

He wanted to be there. He wanted to be like that.

"Let's go to Ise."

It might as well have been a slogan.

"All your troubles get washed away at Ise," he said to Kasanoda's stunned silence, sounding like a commercial himself, courtesy of Tourism Ise. "I know it's trite but. . . . Well, we can get refreshed there, get our minds together—start over like a couple of clean slates."

He sat up, staring at the television that had moved on to some snack food—staring past the TV screen at that ideal Ise where he could be free from the world.

"Pray for things to turn out the way we want them."

"Like for Fujioka to return my feelings," Kasanoda said to the ceiling.

"Why are you still chasing that dream, when all you need is already right here?" Tetsuya mumbled, but the young master apparently didn't hear him.

Instead, he bolted upright.

"I can't."

"Why not?"

"Because I've got school. Not to mention, how are we supposed to get there?"

"We can take Ibe-san's old hatchback," Tetsuya said with a quickness that surprised even himself. "Ibe's to Ise—see it even rhymes. That means it's fate. Come on," he said, pushing Kasanoda's shoulder joshingly as the young master just stared at him. "Think of the fun we'll have. A road trip, Waka! We never get out of the house except to go to school or the supermarket—occasionally a hotel pool in the summer. This might be our only chance."

"This isn't like you at all, Tetsuya. First talking about stealing a car—"

"We're just going to borrow it for a couple of days. We'll be back before he even realizes it's missing."

"Now you're starting to sound like a delinquent."

But even that bone-grazing accusation couldn't wipe the smile from Tetsuya's lips, now that it have been put there by the prospect of the open road ahead. "And you sound like a chicken, Waka."

"Better than a drowned rat," Kasanoda muttered.

"Spoiled brat," Tetsuya grinned.

"Drowned rat."

"Spoiled brat."

"Drowned rat!"

"Spoiled brat!"

"Spoiled ra—"

Kasanoda bit his tongue.

Tetsuya chuckled.

"Don't laugh, asshole." But the young master was blushing so furiously even a hand clamped firmly over his mouth could not stifle Tetsuya's laughter. "That's not fair. I messed up."

He grabbed Tetsuya in a headlock, and at first Tetsuya was too caught up in that queer fit of giggles he somehow couldn't stop, he failed to realize he was wrapped up in Kasanoda's arms and really should stop trying to free himself and just enjoy it. After all, wasn't this the best part of every round of kick-the-can? To say nothing of how bad he could have used a hug tonight, what with the pouring rain and the horror he had just come from, not even an hour ago.

Naturally, when that finally occurred to him it was too late, because by then Kasanoda was already making for the door.

Disappointed, Tetsuya fixed his rumpled shirt as he fought to catch his breath. "Where are you going?"

The young master's already flushed face lit up brighter with a smile.

"To get my things, of course. We're going to Ise, aren't we?"

To be continue. .