All's Fair

Battle Royale belongs to Takami Koushun, the author of the original novel. While this fanfic is based entirely on the book, not the movie, my visual interpretations of them is from the movie.

Shogo was smoking again, blue-grey smoke drifting up through the dim light of the small clinic, giving the air a slightly hazy appearance.

Shuya sighed, and leaned against the kitchen table beside Shogo, listlessly watching the smoke as it rose and curled and tendriled. It was pretty, to be sure, but his attention wasn't really on it, to be honest. He just found it something there to look at as he thought.

Exhaling a cloud of smoke, Shogo peered through thte haze at Shuya, then asked, "How's she doing?"

Shuya shrugged. Nakagawa Noriko, female student no. 15, lay in the back room, ill. "Her fever's still very high, but it's going down a little."

Shogo nodded. "Good. I want to be out of here by 7 pm. This will become a forbidden zone at 9 pm, and that is not a death that I can accept."

Nodding his agreement, Shuya kicked at the floor with the toe of his battered sneaker. He understood that completely.

Standing in silence, both boys were absorbed in their own thoughts. They'd already eaten the rice and miso soup that Shogo had cooked, impressing Shuya once again with the other boy's resoucefulness. He knew it was mostly because Shogo had been in the Program before, and had even won the Battle Royale, but he had to wonder how much of his improvisational skills he'd gotten because of the Program, and how much he'd had before. For that matter, Shuya had no idea what Shogo had been like before the first Battle Royale. Had he really changed so very much?

Even though the sun wasn't shining in the clinic at all really, Shogo still seem to manage to be able to read Shuya's mind. "The Program changes you. That's why I say you can never go back to the way things were before the Program - you're not the same person anymore."

Shuya nodded, understanding, but still he frowned.

Shogo narrowed his eyes at the younger teen, then dropped his cigarrette to the flloor, crushing out the glowing tip with his sole. "What's with that face?"

Shuya blinked at him. "What face?"

"The face that says you're very worried about something," Shogo rummaged in his day bag, and produced another cigarrette, lighting it. "What is it?"

"Sho," Shuya admitted. "Sakamochi said he was in a Forbidden Zone. I was just thinking, you know... how did he not know he was in one? Sho might have been a lot of things, but he wasn't, y'know, stupid."

"Hn." Shogo nodded. "Maybe he was following someone, and they lured him into the Forbidden Zone."

Shuya gave the other a disbelieving look.

"Sho followed people," Shogo insisted calmly, exhaling another lungful of smoke. "Saw him doing it. He liked to stalk the boys he liked."

"You mean the girls he liked," Shuyi automatically corrected him.

"No." The older boy shook his head. "Boys. He was queer."

Shuya laughed awkwardly. "Hey, I've known him longer than you. He might have been a little feminine, yeah, but he wasn't..."

"He asked your friend Mimura for a date," Shogo interrupted him. "About three weeks ago. They didn't know I was there. And from the way they were talking, it wasn't the first time he'd asked him, neither." He paused, staring at the glowing end of his cigarrette. "Mimura refused, no surprise there. I wouldn't think Sho was his type." He grinned briefly, perfect teeth flashing in the darkness. "He used to stare at you during class, too."

Shuya scoffed. "Yeah, right."

Shogo shrugged. "Fine, don't believe me. I'm being serious, though. Sho had a thing for athletic boys."

The younger teen just shook his head, and they lapsed into silence again.

After a long silence, Shuya shifted awkwardly, and Shogo glanced over at him, waiting. Shuya had a habit of 'broadcasting' when he was about to ask something, so Shogo knew he didn't have to wait long.

"You were actually serious, weren't you?" Shuya asked, frowning. "About Sho, I mean."

Shogo grunted. "Yeah."

Shuya mulled this over for another few moments, then admitted, "I suppose I should have known. He was always obsessed with his hair, and thought he was pretty... and didn't he used to smoke those women's cigarrettes? The ones from the U.S. I really guess I should have known."

"It's easy to realize things in hindsight," Shogo shrugged. "I wouldn't say it was any lack of observation before."

"Yeah," Shuya muttered, unconvinced.

"So Sho had a secret." Shogo paused, and lit another cigarrette. "I had a secret, of sorts... any of you could have found out I'd won a program though, if you'd wanted to. What about you, Nanahara Shuya? What's your secret?"

He gave the other an odd look. "My secret?"

"Yeah," Shogo nodded. "Everyone has one, and besides, Sakamochi said you have 'dangerous ideas'. So I want to know what that secret is."

"I already told you," Shuya answered, clenching his fists in his uniform pants anxiously, trying to wipe off his sweaty palms. "It's because I listen to rock music."

"I know that's what you said when Noriko was there, but she's a girl." Shogo crossed his arms. "I'm not a girl. I don't have girl sensibilities. I honestly don't care, one way or another - I don't judge people on their secrets anymore. So even if it's something you'd never tell Noriko, you can tell me." He narrowed his eyes at Shuya. "I don't like it when people try to keep secrets, okay? It makes me think they're hiding other things, too."

"Like what?" Shuya shot back. "You think I'll betray you and Noriko?"

Shogo laughed.

"Your heart is too soft to do that, Nanahara Shuya. No. I just don't like secrets."

"Well, I haven't got one." Shuya insisted, giving up on wiping his hands and instead shoving them deep in his pockets.

"Hn." Shogo considered this. "That's not what Mimura says."

Shuya gave him an incredulous look. "Shinji talked to you? And told you I have a secret?"

"No." The cherry on the end of Shogo's cigarrette flared as he inhaled. "He told Sho you did, actually. Said he wouldn't go on a date with Sho because he was going on a date with you."

Shuya could only stare at Shogo for a very long time, mouth open in shock, eyes wide. Then abruptly, loudly, he yelped, "What?!"

"Sht!" Shogo clapped a hand over Shuya's mouth, holding him tight as he scanned the room. There was no sound from the room over where Noriko slept, but he dropped to the ground, and dragged Shuya, still holding him by the mouth, to the windows. Peering out through the cracks at the bottom of the windows, Shogo examined the area for a few long minutes, not releasing Shuya. The younger boy wisely remained still, and simply waited with shallow breath as Shogo watched for threats his stupid yelling might have brought upon them.

Shuya knew it had been stupid, yelling like that, but he'd been so startled by what Shogo had said that he'd done it anyway. A few times, his thoughts even flickered to 'if there's a God, please don't let us die', but mostly he tried not to breathe, and waited for Shogo's verdict.

At long last, Shogo relaxed, releasing Shuya's mouth as he slumped back against the wall under the window, shutting his eyes and sighing heavily.

"Nothing heard us."

Shuya sighed, relieved, and let his tense muscles go completely limp and boneless, like cooked noodles, and slumped back. Because of where he sat though, he collapsed half against the wall, half on Shogo. The older boy shifted, and Shuya hastily moved to move away, but Shogo just moved his arm so that it draped lazily on the windowsill behind Shuya. When Shuya made to stand up anyway, Shogo used that hand to lightly touch Shuya's shoulder, halting him. "May as well stay here, though, check to see if anyone still comes. They might be waiting until we let our guard down."

Agreeing that that was an excellent idea, Shuya stayed, leaning his head on the wall so that he could rest a little.

Shuya lost track of time as they sat there, waiting, watching. He was fairly sure that he'd drifted off for a second a time or two, but Shogo didn't really move except to light another cigarrette. They'd been sitting there quite awhile though when Shogo abruptly held out his latest one, gazing at him sternly.

"What?" Shuya asked, frowning.

"You want some?" Shogo asked, mild but serious. "Might be your last chance."

Shuya glared at his poor attempt at humour, but slowly, warily, took the cigarrette. He peered at the innocent looking thing for a long moment, noting that it was "Wild Seven", the same brand he was nicknamed with - odd, but nothing more than a strange coincidence - and wondering just what was the appeal. Taking a deep breath, he let it out slowly, then mimiced Shogo's actions, and carefully placed the stick between his lips, drawing in a lungful of smoke.

Shogo laughed as he pounded on Shuya's back, grinning. "Good, yeah?"

Shuya just continued coughing, feeling like he was hacking up a lung.

At last, his coughing fit evened out, and he was able to draw in a few dizzying lungfuls of fresh air. Shogo's thumping had slowed to simply rubbing his hand in soothing circles over Shuya's shoulderblades, and Shuya gratefully accepted that touch as needed relief.

"Try to slow down a little," Shogo instructed. "You don't need to smoke it all at once."

Shuya nodded, bit the proverbial bullet, and tried again.

This time, he only coughed a little, a few small hacks, and by the puff following that, he was fairly sure he had his lungs under control. It wasn't exactly pleasant, but he didn't feel like he was dying anymore. "Thanks," he muttered, a little intruiged by the way blue-grey smoke sinewed out of his mouth as he talked if he didn't exhale right away.

"He only did it to get Sho to leave him alone," Shogo said suddenly, brows furrowed, eyes dark. "Mimura, he didn't really intend to be going on a date with you, he only said it to get Sho to go away. You know that, right?"

"What? Oh, yeah." Shuya nodded. "Shinji is such a lady's man. Girls love him, he loves them. I didn't... you just... I didn't expect him to have ever said that, that's all."

"Hn." Shogo nodded thoughtfully, eyes tracing the cigarrette's path as Shuya lifted it again to his lips and made the cherry on the end flare as he inhaled. "I figured. Don't like queers?"

Shuya shrugged. "They don't bother me, if that's what you mean. Don't really know any... well, Sho. I guess." He frowned, twisting the cigarrette in his own hands so he could peer at it. "So I guess that means I still don't really know any. Poor Sho."

"Yeah." Shogo agreed distractedly, nodding once. "Well, you do, actually."

Shuya blinked. "I do? Who?"

There was a drip somewhere, perhaps from the broken window, more likely from the cracked bowl Shogo had been forced to use for the miso. It was very quiet, very slow, but it ticked off a steady beat every few seconds, adding with tiny splashes to a tiny growing puddle. It ticked off time better than a watch, and at least fifteen tiny splashes echoed in Shuya's ears - perhaps more - before he was fully aware of what was going on.

He'd been pushed back fully against the wall, he knew that. He could feel the wall against his shoulderblades and the back of his head. He still tasted cigarrette smoke, but it wasn't directly from the source anymore, it was diluted, seeping from the lips pressed against his. Shogo's. Shogo was kissing him.

Chastely, all things considered, especially in the light of Shuya's slightly opened mouth, having been asking a slightly rhetorical (now, anyway) question when Shogo moved forward to press their mouths together. It wasn't bad, so much, not even strange, not really, just... very unexpected.

Shuya couldn't really pull back, what with the wall behind him, but he could push forward, and he did, pushing Shogo away. The taller boy frowned, but sat back on his heels, calmly watching Shuya, apparently waiting for a reaction.

"Oh." Shuya said at last. Nothing more, just 'oh'.

"Hn." Shogo grinned, amused. "Is that all you have to say?"

Shuya just looked at Shogo, considering all of this carefully. He barely knew this guy, other than what he'd told them, and that he was covered in scars. He had to believe everything he told them at face value, or believe nothing he told them, really. And now, Shogo was telling him... well, he appeared to be telling him he was queer. And possibly that he wanted to kiss Shuya, though that might have just been showing the proof.

And at the same time, Shuya really didn't know how he was supossed to respond to this. Horror? Outrage? Disgust? He didn't really feel any of those things, in all honesty, so he wasn't sure how he was supposed to react that way.

Actually, he didn't really feel much of any kind of reaction at all. He just felt... he felt like 'oh'. That was the only way he knew how to describe it, to tell the truth.

He just nodded his head, instead.

Shogo actually laughed. "'Oh' is all you have to say? Very talkative, are you?"

Shuya glowered. "You were the one kissing. If you'll recall."

"You took a very long time to push me away," Shogo reminded him.

"I didn't expect it," Shuya reminded, grumbling. "Maybe you just caught me so off guard I didn't know what to do."

"Hn." Shogo smirked. "Maybe?"

"Maybe." Shuya repeated, crossing his arms. Then he yelped, realizing that he still held the cigarrette when he managed to crush it into his index finger. The butt dropped to the floor, and Shogo's tattered sneaker stomped it out, but Shuya's attention wasn't on the cigarrette. It was on the burning finger, and, when Shogo reached forward to grab his hand, on that, too.

"How bad is it?" Shogo asked, turning his finger to examine the burn.

"I don't know," Shuya ground out. "You're the one whose father is a doctor."

"I know," Shogo grinned, and peered at the finger. "It's not bad, just a little burn. You were lucky."

"Yeah, lucky," Shuya grumbled. "Shouldn't we do something about it?"

Shogo shrugged. "If you want, but there's really nothing to be done about a little burn like that. Best thing is to get your mind off of it."

"And just how do you suggest I do that?" Shuya demanded.

The next thing Shuya knew, he was back against the wall again, tasting cigarrette smoke, and one of Shogo's rough and scarred hands was tangled in his longish hair.

As a distraction technique, Shuya had to admit it held some merit. His attention certainly was not on the pain in his hand, but on gauging what exact sort of reaction he should make to this new action. Should he push Shogo away, as he did before, or should he try to move away himself? Maybe he shouldn't try to move anyone away at all - there was always the option that he could stay where he was, and allow Shogo to keep on kissing him. It wasn't like the other was bad at it, or anything. Fact of the matter was, he was pretty good.

For that matter, Shuya had actually already forgotten that his finger hurt at all, because at that particular moment where the prowess of Shogo's kissing skills crossed his mind, Shogo had slipped his hand around to Shuya's lower back, pulled him forward off the wall, and set him firmly, on his back, on the floor. As Shogo settled over him, still devouring his mouth, Shuya decided that no, he didn't really want to move.

It wasn't like he was going to get a lot more opportunities for this anyways.

That's right, the black-suited man said, grinning as he appeared in Shuya's mind. But perhaps I can fit you both for a coffin built for two?

Please fuck off, Shuya thought to the ridiculous vision of the black-suited man, and returned his attention to the here, and the now.

In a world of death - this was certainly better than the alternative. All's fair.