Universe: Nobuta wo Produce
Character/Pairing/s: lightly AkiraxShuuji
Warnings/Spoilers: Spoilers for the end of the series.
Word Count: 1,907
Summary: Shuuji has never been in love.
Dedication: Matilde's yuletide fic!
A/N: Haha I'm very sorry there's not actual smut involved; this honestly was as explicit as I could make it given my abilities.
Disclaimer: Not mine, though I wish constantly.
Distribution: Just lemme know.
Akira knows that Shuuji has never been in love.
"But I've loved people," Shuuji adds with an embarrassed kind of haste, when Akira brings it up. "Just not… that kind of love. I think."
"Unbelievable!" Akira exclaims with exaggerated zest, and puts both of his hands on his head.
Shuuji scowls and isn't amused by Akira's antics. But since he's not really annoyed by them either, he knows that Akira won't feel bad. After a minute Shuuji just sighs in a resigned sort of way and says, "Don't act like you're surprised when you already knew all along, idiot."
Akira smiles and leaves his hands on his head. "You should fall in love," he tells his friend knowingly. "It's only natural for human beings, ne."
Shuuji fights the urge to roll his eyes at Akira's knowing tone. "It's not that easy."
"Sure it is!" Akira assures him. "This world is full of people to love." And Shuuji supposes that to Akira, it really is as simple as that.
So instead of responding, Shuuji manages to distract Akira by dangling half of his remaining cream corn croquette in front of the other boy's face. When Akira tackles him trying to get to it and doesn't say anything else about Shuuji falling in love for the rest of the afternoon, Shuuji believes that the discussion is over.
Which is good; he doesn't really want to think about love right now anyway. He's happy enough as he is for the time being, and it seems like too much to add the complication of what love in that way might mean for someone like him. Shuuji thinks that it is something that can be saved for later; hopefully he'll be more grown up when that time comes. Hopefully he'll be ready.
But it turns out that the issue isn't as over and done with as he'd imagined it; the next day at school, Shuuji arrives at the front gate only to find Akira waiting for him with a very self-satisfied expression on his face. He immediately slings an arm around Shuuji's shoulders when he sees the shorter boy and gives him a big thumbs up. "Good morning, Shu-u-ji-kun!" he chirps.
"What did you do?" Shuuji asks automatically, and keeps walking so they won't be late to homeroom. His face already has an expression that says he is just on the brink of being horrified; really, it's the only appropriate response to Akira grinning at him like that.
But Akira doesn't answer; he just giggles secretively to himself before guiding Shuuji to their classroom at a slightly-more-accelerated pace than normal. Once they get there he stops Shuuji when the two of them are framed in the doorway just right and turns to face their classmates very officiously. He clears his throat. "Will everyone I just gave a piece of paper to earlier please hold it up?" he barks, like a very friendly drill sergeant.
Bewildered, four girls and one guy tentatively hold up the pieces of paper Akira had apparently given them earlier. Each slip has a number written on it; some have hearts and stars as well, while one has a brightly shining sun scrawled in the corner (Shuuji suspects the decorations are there simply because Akira thought that just having boring old numbers written on them would make the pieces of paper lonely).
Once the slips are all prominently displayed by their owners, Akira turns and pokes Shuuji in the cheek. "So! Which of these is your favorite type, ne? That's the natural place to start with these things, after all."
"My what?" Shuuji sputters.
Akira starts pointing. "Type one is shy and quiet!" the girl who is holding the paper with "one" (and the sun) scrawled on it blinks, blushes. Akira continues, "Two plays volleyball, she's the athletic type. Three is talkative and cheerful. Four is the kind who beats up boys in dark alleyways at night. Five is a man. So pick, ne?"
Right now, everyone in the class is staring at the two of them. Oblivious, Akira just looks inordinately pleased with himself for having come up with such an ingenious plan.
But what's even more mortifying than everyone's staring, Shuuji thinks, is that the rest of the class actually seems to be waiting for his answer, like they really want to know. Like they've been wondering about it themselves all this time after all.
He doesn't have time to be embarrassed about this whole ridiculous situation for long though—something about what Akira just said suddenly hits him.
He chokes, "Wait…aguy?!"
When they hear this, the four girls holding signs all look vaguely disappointed, but not entirely surprised.
The guy just looks horrified.
Akira, in the meantime, blinks. His arm is still around Shuuji's shoulders, as comfortable as ever. "Well," he says, and looks thoughtful but not troubled, "that was unexpected."
Shuuji quietly excuses himself to the restroom.
For the rest of the morning after that Shuuji can feel the constant gazes of his classmates on the back of his head; can hear their whispers and giggles and speculations regarding the fiasco from this morning buzzing in the air all around him. He does his best not to care because he doesn't care anymore (even though part of him really does), and instead, concentrates on staring straight ahead at the chalkboard and at the sensei as he studies calculus like his life depends on it. Beside him, Akira's brow is furrowed as he gazes out the window, looking lost in his own thoughts. He's most likely daydreaming about lunch.
Shuuji sees the other boy's carefree attitude out of the corner of his eye and thinks that he wants to be annoyed with Akira for what happened earlier. He can't really be in the end though, because deep down he knows that the idiot only means well. Mostly Shuuji is just mortified.
He tells himself—over and over again— that he doesn't care. Maybe he'll even believe it before long.
It is somewhere in the middle of fourth period English when Akira suddenly stops looking lost-in-thought out the window and shoots up in his chair. "I see!" he shouts loudly in English, with his hand up in some sort of strange salute. It's bizarre enough that Akira momentarily draws the stares of their classmates away from Shuuji and onto himself instead.
Their English teacher looks vaguely surprised at his outburst, but manages an admirable, "Yes, Kusano-kun? Would you like to read the next line?"
"No, thank you! Okay! My name is Akira! Happy to meet you!" Akira responds immediately, again in English (and quite possibly with every English word he has ever learned tacked on just because). He flashes the teacher a victorious, double-handed "kon" as he sits down.
The teacher clears his throat; "Well then, Kiritani-kun, why don't you read for us instead?"
Shuuji sighs and stands, and just like that, everyone's eyes are on him again. "This is a pen," he recites, obediently. "A pen is for writing."
"Thank you," his teacher acknowledges, before sparing one last (vaguely wary) sideways look at a mysteriously grinning Akira.
Shuuji quickly sits down.
Five minutes later, Akira passes Shuuji a note that has "I see!" written on it in big, English letters, just in case Shuuji missed the memo earlier. When Akira slides it onto Shuuji's desk, three girls behind them immediately burst out giggling.
At lunch Shuuji is prepared to have a calm, mature, and very serious talk with Akira about social boundaries and why they must be respected, but is put off from doing it right away solely by the fact that the taller boy is suddenly studying him with a frightening sort of intensity.
The last time Akira had looked at him like that they had ended up at a K-1 fight across the country courtesy of Akira's father, but then the company helicopter had suddenly been called away on emergency and they'd been left on their own to get home. The bus ride home had been long and horrible and Akira had practiced imitating the fighters from the ring theentire way back.
In short, it is the kind of intense gaze that makes Shuuji scuttle backwards slowly, so that he is sitting a good, safe distance away from Akira, just in case.
In the meantime, he tries to decide whether that calm, mature, and very serious talk he'd wanted to have can still work if they are shouting across the twenty or so feet between them as they do it. After a few minutes he finally decides that it can't be helped and that a simple, "Don't do that again," will have to suffice for now. He turns, takes a deep breath and…
"Aaah!" Akira echoes from where his face is less than five centimeters away from Shuuji's.
"Don't do that!" Shuuji yelps, though this is mostly in reference to Akira sneaking upright behind him while he'd been ruminating and has nothing to do with this morning at all, despite the similar nature of the rebukes.
Nonchalant, Akira just grins. "I've been thinking," he says, seriously.
Shuuji is instantly suspicious. "About wh…"
Akira doesn't wait for the customary question before moving to explain; Akira kisses him.
It's not anything particularly stunning; just lips touching, eyes open, Shuuji still talking through it (kind of, more like flapping his mouth).
Rather, it's the partafterwards that really renders Shuuji speechless, when Akira is sitting next to him grinning like he's discovered the greatest discovery in all the world and Shuuji has finally registered what, exactly, has just happened.
Akira kissed him.
And Shuuji doesn't really know what to say.
But he doesn't really need to say anything anyway; Akira just smiles and looks at him knowingly. "This world is full of people to love," he echoes, and rests his head on Shuuji's shoulder like he always does.
And then Shuuji sighs; a little bit helplessly, maybe a little bit in relief too.
"I've never been in love, but I've loved people," he murmurs to Akira after a beat, because he feels the need.
Akira giggles a little when Shuuji says this, like he's only just remembering yesterday's conversation now, like this is actually the first time they've had it and that the other day was really a premonition sent to his dreams by the Truth Man.
Akira turns so his face is pressed up against Shuuji's neck, just a little. "You should fall in love," he murmurs. "It's only natural, after all."
Shuuji swats him on the head. "Eat your lunch."
Akira obeys; he shouts, "Yabai, I squashed my yakisoba bread!" after he discovers it in his pocket, flattened between their touching sides. He eats it anyway; Shuuji watches him, very slightly horrified.
"It tastes the same. It's warm now," Akira explains casually. His mouth is full.
Shuuji sighs. "Oh," he says, feeling oddly defeated by his friend as he starts to eat his own lunch. They don't say anything to each other for the rest of the meal, but Shuuji watches Akira out of the corner of his eye the whole time anyway.
And he can't help but hope that when the day his life can be complicated by that kind of love finally comes, he'll be grown up enough to really appreciate it.
He'll be ready.
But for now, he supposes that this is okay too.