Disclaimer: I own very little.
A/N: A friend on LJ called this group "OT4". I was inclined to agree. So, when she requested me to write it, I hardly could say no.
Odd One Out
It was easy to see he was the odd one out.
Taka-san wasn't stupid, really. He saw the way Akutsu's fists clenched whenever he saw Sengoku and Dan together, heard the soft growls when Sengoku leant down to whisper something in Dan's ear that made him giggle. He knew how Akutsu stayed after school to watch Sengoku's tennis practice, knew that he made a point of watching every match Dan played. Akutsu hadn't even watched most of Taka-san's matches. Before, it hadn't bothered him, but now… he had to wonder.
He asked Akutsu, once, whether he liked Dan. Akutsu called him an idiot, cursed under his breath, and smoked a lot. When he dared extend the question to Sengoku he became a fucking idiot and didn't see Akutsu for the rest of the week.
He would indeed have had to be an idiot not to see things for what they were.
He could have been hopeful, told himself it didn't matter in the end, Sengoku and Dan were together after all and he was the one who was with Akutsu, he was the one who sometimes got something like a smile from those scowling lips and a rough kiss tasting of cigarettes. However, it was hard to feel much hope when he caught the way Dan glanced at Akutsu, saw Sengoku smiling just a tad too widely.
He was the odd one out, and should have just given up.
However, Taka-san was from Seigaku. And if there was one thing he'd learnt in Seigaku, it was that you should never give up. So, useless though it may have been, he tried to ignore it all and just smile, hoping Akutsu would come to his senses sooner or later. After all, if there was one thing he was good at, it was believing in people.
His belief in people also made him smile and greet politely as one day, on his way back from school, he heard a voice calling for him and quick footsteps chasing him only for Dan to soon catch up with him. The boy was cute with all his politeness and desu desu, and it wasn't like Taka-san could entirely blame him. After all, he knew all too well just how… desirable… Akutsu could be without even trying to.
Dan started chattering immediately, acting like they were the best of friends instead of just acquaintances, very nigh skipping to keep up with Taka-san's longer strides. The kid was carrying a tennis bag, Taka-san couldn't help but notice. It… stung, in a way, reminding him of the time he'd also carried one instead of just the all too practical school bag. Then there was a hand tugging at his sleeve, and an excited question right Kawamura-san desu, and despite his somehow disturbed state of mind he found himself smiling at Dan.
"You know, Kawamura-san," Dan said, somewhat suddenly, "you are really lucky desu"
"Oh?" Taka-san raised his eyebrows. "How so?"
"Because you have Akutsu-senpai, of course desu!" Dan sounded like it should have been obvious. "I mean, it's not like I don't like Sengoku-senpai and all, but Akutsu-senpai was still my first crush ever. You're really lucky to get to be with him desu!"
"…I guess." Taka-san forced a smile on his face again. "Though I'm still not sure how I got to be so lucky."
"Huh?" Dan tilted his head to the side like a curious puppy. "But – you're just great, Kawamura-san! You're big and strong and nice and friendly and everything desu!"
"…Maybe too much so." After all, it seemed to be the less big and strong ones that Akutsu found more interesting than him.
"What on Earth do you mean?" Dan seemed honestly confused. "Come on, Kawamura-san! Do you think for a moment that Akutsu-senpai would stay with you if he didn't like you?"
"He might, if anyone he likes more was already taken." Like they both were. With each other.
"Oh, honestly!" Dan huffed. "What, is lack of self-confidence a requirement for Seishun High? It's obvious Akutsu-senpai likes you! He's always talking about you desu!"
"He… is?" Taka-san blinked. This was news to him.
"Of course! Whenever I talk with him it's all Kawamura did this and Kawamura said that. Maybe he doesn't show it, but you're important to him desu!"
"…Dan-kun." He couldn't help but wonder, now. "Why are you telling me all this?"
"Eh?" Another tilted head. Really, the kid was too adorable. It was obvious just what Sengoku and Akutsu would see in him. "Because you're unsure of Akutsu-senpai, of course!"
"I am?" Was he really that obvious.
"Yes, you are." Dan nodded firmly. "When in company of Akutsu-senpai you smile 63 percent less whenever Sengoku-senpai or I are nearby, 72 percent less if it's both of us." Taka-san decided against asking just how Dan knew how much he smiled when Dan himself wasn't around. If middle school had taught him anything, it was that questioning data players was most likely to leave you either greatly disturbed or simply paranoid.
"…Maybe." Taka-san raised his gaze to the sky. "It's just… he pays more attention to you both than he ever does to me. Watches you. Talks with you. Sometimes I just… wonder when you'll take him from me."
"We wouldn't do that desu." Dan, on the other hand, lowered his gaze, pouting a bit. "I mean, I do admit I like Akutsu-senpai desu. There's a 84 percent possibility Sengoku-senpai does, too. But Akutsu-senpai is with you. Therefore, it wouldn't be right of either of us to try and act on our feelings desu."
"But he likes you, too." It really hurt to say it, but it was true. "I mean… the two of you are more than the one of me. And somehow I've no doubt none of you would find, ah, er, threesome impossible…" Just saying it was embarrassing, but it wasn't as though he hadn't thought of it. It would work all too well. The three Yamabuki students all liked each other, that much was obvious. And, well, Akutsu made a hobby out of defying social norms, Dan wasn't exactly conventional in his affections, and Sengoku was… Sengoku.
Dan blinked. "You mean you've thought of us going for threesome, but it never crossed your mind to – oh, forget it desu." Dan's sigh sounded mostly… frustrated. "You know what? Talking with you is obviously useless."
"Er, what do you mean?" It was again Taka-san's turn to blink in confusion. He was certain he wasn't being quite that difficult…
"You." Dan stopped, suddenly, making Taka-san come to a halt as well. There was a sharp little finger poking at his chest, then, and serious brown eyes staring up at him. "Kawamura Takashi. You are the single most thick-headed person I've ever had the pleasure of meeting desu. And that's saying a lot, considering I'm dating Sengoku-senpai desu."
"Excuse me?" Taka-san was even more confused, now, and more than a bit hurt. He knew very well he wasn't exactly the sharpest crayon in the box, but wasn't that still a tad too much?
"What exactly do you think of Sengoku-senpai and I? That we'd be rude enough to steal someone's boyfriend away just like that? That even together we could compete with you for Akutsu-senpai's attentions? Akutsu-senpai's not a quitter, not in things like this. He wouldn't give up on you that easily desu. He's simply too possessive to do that."
"Ano – that's not what I meant!" Taka-san protested. "I mean, far as I know Sengoku and you are great people, I can definitely see why Akutsu'd be interested in you, and… I just can't help but feel like I'm just the second best. A substitute."
The finger became a whole hand, grasping on the front of his school uniform, and if the angle had been slightly different and the grip just a tad tighter he could have almost imagined it was Akutsu once again. But instead it was Dan, the little and apparently not always so polite Dan Taichi, and he was pulled down by a surprisingly strong arm.
Then there were lips on his, light and somewhat unsure but not the least bit hesitant, and suddenly there were no lips and no hand and Dan was stepping away.
"You're an idiot, Kawamura-san," Dan said softly, his eyes just a tad wider than usually, big and brown like chocolate coins. "You have Akutsu-senpai, and Akutsu-senpai has you, and I'm not even sure which one I should be more jealous of, and yet you insist on destroying your own happiness by convincing yourself it's just going to fail desu. You think it's easy for us? For Akutsu-senpai? That we enjoy making you hurt?" Was that a… tear? "It's not all about you, except in a way it is, and… Oh, damn it desu!"
Taka-san was so startled by this sudden outburst that he couldn't even react as Dan turned around and ran. By the time he got out of his stunned state it was too late, and all he could do was stare in confusion after the retreating small figure.
The rest of the way home Taka-san walked slowly, deep in thought over the rather confusing encounter.
"…I heard you made the kid cry."
"I… guess I did." Taka-san slumped a bit. "I certainly didn't mean to…"
"Like you would." Akutsu snorted. "Making the kid cry's not as easy as it seems, though. Only seen it two times, myself. First when I quit the whole damn tennis and next when Sengoku and I graduated."
"Oh." Taka-san felt even worse now. "He… he even swore. Said, 'damn it.' …Desu." Somehow, the usually so innocent desu had made it even worse.
Akutsu chuckled harshly. "He would! Look, don't worry about it too much.The kid'll get over it soon. He's just been getting these weird ideas lately."
"Weird… ideas?" Taka-san echoed somewhat warily. "What do you mean?"
"He's getting greedy." Akutsu lit a cigarette. "He wants me. He wants his damn Sengoku. Hell, for all I know, he wants you as well. It's about the time someone makes him realize the world's just not that convenient."
"…Ah." Taka-san really had no idea what to say to that.
"Kawamura." Looking up, he saw Akutsu's eyes on him, unusually serious. "Look, I'm a damn possessive bastard, no question there. And you're fucking mine. There's no way in Hell I'm going to give up on that."
Then Akutsu was kissing him, the pale lips cool and rough against his, and Akutsu tasted of cigarettes and beer and not sweet at all like Dan had. In its own strange way, though, the kiss was no less gentle than Dan's had been, and Taka-san found himself left somewhat breathless afterwards.
It wasn't until later that it occurred to him to wonder why he would be thinking of Dan as Akutsu kissed him.
Try as he might, Taka-san found himself unable to forget his strange encounter with Dan. He couldn't get the boy's words out of his mind. Weird ideas, indeed. So weird they didn't let him have a moment's peace.
Distracted as he was, the next time he was ambushed on his way home he didn't even notice until it was too late.
"Kawamura-kun" Sengoku suddenly appeared in front of him. "Well, what do you know? Taichan's data on your schedule was correct."
"Sengoku-kun." Taka-san nodded at him, somewhat wary. "What do you want with me?"
"Well, aren't we friendly today?" The way Sengoku tilted his head to the side signalled total, complete, feigned innocence. "You really have a problem with unfriendliness, you know. I heard you made my boyfriend cry the other day."
"…It was not my intention." Taka-san looked away. Indeed, he still wasn't sure just what he had done wrong.
"I should hope not! Otherwise I'd have to have some boyfriendly revenge on you!" Sengoku chuckled, falling into step beside him, just like Dan had done. "…I also heard you kissed him."
Taka-san felt a light blush spreading on his cheeks. "I did not," he murmured. "Well, rather, it was he who kissed me."
"So you didn't kiss him back?" Sengoku raised his eyebrows. Then, as Taka-san shook his head, Sengoku asked, "Why not?"
"What do you mean, why not?" Congratulations, Sengoku, you had Taka-san weirded out even faster than your boyfriend. "He's your boyfriend! And I have my own boyfriend, besides. Why on Earth would I have kissed him?" He wasn't even sure why Dan had done it…
"So it's not a case of you not liking him?" Surprisingly, Sengoku grinned. "Lucky"
"Lucky?" Taka-san blinked, briefly wondering whether all Yamabuki guys were somewhat… shaken in the head.
"Well, I don't want Taichan to cry any more." Sengoku shrugged. "See, you like Akuchu, ne? And he likes you. And it's no big surprise Taichan and I like each other, considering we're together. And, well, it doesn't really take a genius to see that Taichan likes Akuchu." Taka-san thought of interrupting him – why did he feel the need to tell all this? – but Sengoku carried on. "Now, I like Akuchu too. And I think he likes me and Taichan. But what you don't know –" a poke on his chest, was that another Yamabuki habit? – "is that Taichan likes you, too."
"…I kind of suspected something like that when he kissed me."
"Then there's no problem, ne?" Sengoku was positively beaming, now. "Look, let's hook up! I mean, you seem like a nice guy, and if Taichan likes you, and then there's Akuchu… It'd just make sense, wouldn't it?"
Taka-san couldn't help but stare. Surely Sengoku wasn't serious. That was just… impossible.
But then… what had Dan said? 'But it never crossed your mind'… Was this what Dan had meant with that comment? Being together… all… four of them?
"Huh?" Sengoku frowned, waving a hand before Taka-san's eyes. "You awake, big guy?"
"…You're joking, aren't you?"
"Me? Never." Sengoku looked almost… sincere. "I may be a flirt, but I don't joke about things like that. Well, not with a straight face, anyway, or to Akuchu's boyfriend."
"Then what about yourself?" Because Taka-san wasn't about to even try and examine his own feelings about the issue when faced with such a glaring flaw in Sengoku's reasoning.
"Myself?" Sengoku seemed honestly confused, now. "What do you mean?"
"You just stated Akutsu and Dan-kun like me. Nothing about yourself."
"Me?" Sengoku blinked. "Well, obviously, I like you too! I said you're a nice guy, ne? I'm not that self-sacrificing, you know. Even if Akuchu is pretty hot. But anyway, we kinda need your view on the issue…"
"It wouldn't work." Taka-san shook his head. "Such an arrangement would fail soon, and then…" And then, he'd be left alone, for he couldn't imagine Sengoku and Dan letting go of Akutsu once they got him.
"You can't know that without trying, ne?" Sengoku grinned. "Oh, come on, now. Just think about it. Wouldn't you like to see Akuchu and Taichan kiss?"
Despite his best attempts not to, Taka-san found himself imagining the said scene. A slight flush rose onto his face. That was an… interesting… image.
"Awww, such a cute blush." The grin was somewhat self-satisfied, now. "You're thinking about it now, aren't you?"
"I – I really don't see how that is –"
"Oh, really. You're just too adorable." Sengoku titled his head. "So, what do you say?"
"Have you even asked Akutsu?" Because he would surely refuse… wouldn't he?
"Oh, come on. Like I'd ask his boyfriend something like this without checking with him first. I'm lucky but not suicidal, you know." Sengoku looked at him almost pleadingly. "Come on, now. Why don't give it a try? Am I that unpleasant?"
"It'll fail," Taka replied stubbornly. "And when it does, I'm going to be the one left alone."
"Like Akuchu'd ever let go of you that easily." Sengoku huffed. "And besides, what's it you're afraid of? Taichan and I stealing Akuchu away from you? Well, wouldn't it then be wiser for you to make sure that even if he does come to us, he'll still hold onto you?"
"I'm the odd one out," Taka-san said just a bit remorsefully. "There's no room for me in that equation."
"As if. Taichan's the data type, you know. He's calculated it all over already. You're not too much – you're necessary in that 'equation'! If you're not there, Akuchu'll end up killing both me and Taichan. We don't have your patience, and he certainly doesn't."
"What's it to me? I hardly want his relationship with you to succeed." Okay, that was just being mean, but… his boyfriend. His. "I already have Akutsu. What would I gain?"
"An end to your fears. End of the suspicions. The uncertainty." Sengoku came up closer. "Taichan. Come on, don't tell me he's not cute. Don't tell me you didn't like it when he kissed you. You'd be lying." Another inch, two. "And of course…" Lips almost against his, the breath tickling him as Sengoku spoke, "There's me."
…Never mind the poking. What was it with Yamabuki boys kissing him out of blue?
"Taka-saaaaan!" There was a small hand tugging urgently at his. "Hurry up, hurry up desu! We're going to be late!"
"Damn it. There's no bloody hurry, Taichi." Akutsu rolled his eyes, very content in his leisurely pace. "No fire anywhere, see?"
"We are too in a hurry!" Dan pouted a bit. "I want to see them feed the lions, and at our current pace we're going to be 5.32 minutes late desu!"
"Then run the fuck along. We'll follow eventually, damn it." Akutsu looked like he could care less.
"Akutsu-senpai's being mean!" Dan glared at Akutsu in a way few would have dared to even try. "The whole point of dates is doing things together desu!"
"Oh, don't sweat it, Taichan." Sengoku laughed. "Let's all go faster, ne? Let Akuchu sulk all on his own if he doesn't care about the lions."
"Yes desu!" Dan's expression immediately brightened, his other hand grasping on Sengoku's. "Come on, Sengoku-senpai, Taka-san! Let's go!" He started running, then, not for a moment thinking they wouldn't follow. Of course, he was absolutely right, Taka-san and Sengoku exchanging grins as they started running as well towards the zoo.
Taka-san could hear Akutsu grumbling behind them, muttering a few curses and something about bloody idiots, and then the sound of footsteps behind them quickened a little, and came up to them, and then there was Akutsu somehow managing to look not hurried at all despite the fact he was running.
There was Akutsu by his side, smelling of cigarettes and beer as usual, and Dan's warm little hand tugging at his own, and Sengoku laughing cheerfully, and Taka-san wondered how he had ever thought he'd be the odd one out when the numbers were obviously even.