"What is zapped?" Ritsuka asked, frowning slightly as he held his hand out. He still wasn't sure about it, and this may have been due to the fact that he only had heard the word 'zapped' with no other definition. Raising a thin eyebrow, he watched as the creamy skin on the back of his hand was mangled with blue, permanent marker.
"Zapped," Yuiko smiled, writing a large, capital letter Z on him, "I when you have to joke with others, you know? If you are zapped, then whenever someone says your name you have to say: 'I love you.'" Yuiko had scribbled the A and the P and drew a fierce line and dot for an exclamation point.
Ritsuka's jaw dropped. He had to say 'I love you?!' To people he didn't even love? That was just foolish, and also not funny in the least. You didn't say that you loved someone unless you really meant it. The word itself was so deep, he couldn't think of a single person he would say the words truthfully to. The one person he had ever really loved, Seimei, was dead, burned to death in Ritsuka's own elementary school chair.
"No," the dark haired boy withdrew his hand quickly. "No, I won't do something that foolish. What's up with these people and all their foolish games, anyway?" he asked himself more than Yuiko.
"It's just a game, Ritsuka-kun," Yukio frowned slightly. Her face suddenly lit up. "I said your name! Go on, say 'I love you!' It's no big deal because our whole class has already started!" she laughed.
It was as if the universe wanted to prove her point as two of their classmates walked by them in the hall.
"Haru… did you get the math homework?"
"I love you," the girl laughed.
Ritsuka and Yuiko watched them walk by until they turned the hallway corner and left. Once they were gone around the turn their attentions snapped back to each other. The pink haired girl's lips quivered. "Please, Ritsuka?" she whined, drawing out the first word. He rolled his eyes and faked a cough, looking down at his watch.
"No… I have to go, anyway," he answered, turning to walk away. He did have to go. It was Wednesday… his therapist would be waiting. He sped up when he heard Yuiko begin to follow him and ended up careening around a corner right into a couple of girls from his class.
"Goumen, Ritsuka-kun!" one of them laughed, backing up and bowing slightly. He immediately moved to hide his zapped hand, but she'd spotted it… as had her friends.
"Oh, you got zapped! Who by, Ritsuka?" a second girl teased.
"Cool, now you have to say 'I love you,' twice, Ritsuka!" the third girl clapped her hands, finding it to be humorous apparently.
"Aah! Make that three times!" the first girl who he'd bumped into giggled. They stared at him expectantly.
"Um…," he hesitated. It was against everything he ever said if he told those girls that he loved them. Then again… what harm could it do? "I love you, I love you, I love you," he spoke in an undertone, nodding to them all in turn. As he rushed away, bag bouncing at his side, he heard their laughter echoing behind them.
"Aishiteru, aishiteru, aishiteru," he repeated to himself, despising his own guts. Such lies. He kicked open the door of the nearest bathroom and ran into another boy at the sink, he sat behind him in class and always copied his answers.
"Oh, konnichi wa, Aoyagi-san," he nodded to him, zipping up his pants at the urinal. Ritsuka's eyes got very wide. This may have been crossing the line… saying he loved another boy? And a classmate, at that?!
"Konnichi wa," he nodded, walking past him to a stall. When he got there he muttered the loath full words under his breath. He waited to hear the door slam close signifying that the other boy had left. Quickly, he rushed to one of four sinks and began to scrub his hands furiously.
Curse Yuiko, curse 'zap,' curse teachers, and curse permanent marker. It really was permanent.
The worst yet was that teacher. She walked by him in the hall and greeted him. He was astounded that so many people chose today of all days to use his name. Normally it would be a simple hello. But no, today it was Aoyagi-san or Ritsuka-kun or just one or the other or both or WHATEVER!
"Hello, Aoyagi, Ritsuka," the gym teacher greeted on his way by in the hall, holding a wrapped bun of bread and a can of tea. There was an open window very near by… and the ground was only a story or two down… and he was pretty sure that there were bushes down there….
"I LOVE YOU!" he screamed in the teacher's face before throwing himself out the window. Better this than having to say it a bunch more times on his way out of the building.
He would have a lot to talk about with his shrink that day.
Later, he heard his cell phone buzz. Picking it up off his desk, he hit the button to see that Soubi was calling him. He didn't bother answering; he knew that somewhere in there his name would be said. And he didn't want to tell Soubi he loved him on the phone. He didn't want to say he loved him, period. Because he didn't love Soubi. He never had. He never would.
Besides… within minutes he'd have broken into the bedroom anyway, wondering why Ritsuka wasn't answering the phone. So Ritsuka sat on his bed and waited for the inevitable. It came soon.
"Hey, why didn't you answer the phone?" the dark-haired boy kept his hands firmly under his rear end. The taller man asked again. "Ritsuka, you know you worry me, why didn't you answer my call?"
Ritsuka bit his lip and gulped. There it was, his name. He stayed quiet. Soubi didn't know about zap, right? So it wouldn't matter if he said nothing….
"…Ritsuka," the blonde seemed bothered now. "Are you okay?" he knelt in front of him to look him in the eyes. The boy still didn't say anything. "Ritsuka!" Soubi grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him. "Snap out of it!"
"Out of what?" Ritsuka sounded like he was in a daze. "…Love?"
"Uh… what?" Soubi's grip wasn't as tight at the twelve-year-old's words.
"You said my name. I love you," he whispered the last part. "I… love you," that time it was more sure.
A second later, he flung his thin arms around the older man's neck and pulled him in, kissing him. And he'd never known that a grade-schooler's game could make him come to the biggest realization of his life.