Pairings: IbuKamio, Golden Pair
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine, and I am making no profit off of them, nor do I stand to make any profit from this fanfiction.
Author's Notes: This was originally written for jupiterstar on LJ for the PoT Beat the Heat exchange.
It had been three days, and Shinji still wasn't talking.
Naturally, this was something that Kamio thought was a matter of concern. Shinji not talking was sort of like the sun not rising in the east; unheard-of and more than a little worrying. Kamio, being a concerned best friend, had done everything in his power to get Shinji to talk, up to and including offering to talk about Shinji's feelings (emotions being one of the things Kamio normally tried to avoid discussing, as then he'd have to think about his own, and that wasn't something he liked doing), but to no avail. Shinji remained stubbornly, frustratingly, worryingly silent.
Which led Kamio to his option of last resort: Tachibana An.
Not to say he disliked the girl; even after his crush on her had faded, he still counted An as one of his best friends. However, a conversation with An—especially one that led to needing some sort of advice—was exhausting at the best of times. Plus, she had a habit of picking up on the blatantly obvious, and Kamio really didn't want to analyzed just yet. Still, with a silent best friend, and being all out of ideas, he had no other choice.
He managed to corner An on the street courts one afternoon, taking a seat next to her as she was watching Shinji and Echizen waging one of their never-ending wars over grip tape, and told her the story. "And now I have no idea what to do," he finished.
"Hmmm." An took a sip from her water bottle as she watched Shinji. "Yeah, he has been really quiet, hasn't he? He's even throwing Echizen-kun off his game a little." She took another swallow of water. "Maybe it's the heat. It's been so hot this summer."
Kamio tried not to roll his eyes. "If it was just the heat, we'd all not be talking. And he's playing tennis just fine."
"Point, point…." An was quiet as she considered all angles of the problem, then her face lit up. "I got it!"
"You do?" Kamio knew he sounded pathetically hopeful, but he couldn't be bothered to care.
An nodded. "It's so simple…Shinji-kun's in love!" She sighed. "An unrequited passion…."
That time, Kamio did roll his eyes, and he snorted. "Shinji? In love? Come on, An-chan. Can you at least try to be serious?"
"I am being serious!" An pouted. "You can't say it's not a possibility. People act different when they're in love and can't have who they want."
"Actually, she has a point," a new voice interrupted.
Kamio turned around, his eyes widening some in surprise. "Seigaku's Golden Pair…." He watched as the redhead—Kikumaru—bounced off to go cheer on Echizen, and turned back to face his partner. "A point?" he asked dumbly.
"Yes…do you mind if I join you?"
An nodded and gestured to the bench. "Please, Oishi-san."
Trust An-chan to know all the Seigaku regulars, Kamio thought as he shifted on the bench to make room for Oishi. Makes sense, though, if she's dating Momoshiro….
Oishi took the seat with a nod of thanks. "Tachibana-chan does have a point. There are people who act differently when they're in love and no one knows it." He looked over at Kikumaru, a fond smile on his face. "For example, Eiji got very…quiet, too. He started picking fights with me, and avoiding me altogether. Avoiding everyone, actually. Not like Eiji at all."
"Really?" Kamio tried to act casual, but in reality, he was fascinated. "And what did you do to find this out?"
"I cornered him and demanded to know his problem." Oishi blushed. "Eiji…is really an open person, so I didn't think he would try to hide anything from me. I have to admit, I didn't expect to be kissed like he kissed me, but it worked out well in the end." Oishi's eyes found Kikumaru again, chuckling when he pounced on Echizen. "He was in love with me, and afraid to show it."
An sighed. "That's so sweet…!" She looked over at Kamio. "See! Shinji-kun could be in love!"
Kamio blushed, scowling a little. "No way! Besides, I already asked him what's eating him. He's not saying a word to me."
"But he is saying a word to someone else." Oishi pointed down at the courts.
Kamio followed Oishi's finger, saw Shinji talking with Echizen and Kikumaru, and felt his heart sink. "Yeah, so maybe I'm a bad friend."
Oishi chuckled. "Eiji could get a rock to talk. He can get Tezuka to talk, so getting Ibu-kun to talk isn't a problem." He bit his lip, thinking. "Maybe that's what Ibu-kun needs. Someone new to talk to."
Kamio frowned. "Ain't nothing he can say to anyone else that he can't say to me," he stated, crossing his arms stubbornly.
Oishi seemed to size up Kamio's discomfort in a moment, exchanging a knowing smile with An. "And I don't think he'd talk freely to a stranger. Maybe he just needs someone to break the ice?"
"Yeah, who?" Kamio scowled, not even realizing his aggressive body language. "Nothing no one can do that I can't." He greatly disliked the idea that anyone outside of Fudomine could do anything for Shinji.
"Bring Ibu-kun, and meet Eiji and I here at seven tonight. If Ibu-kun doesn't talk after an evening with us, then nothing will make him talk." Oishi smiled at Kamio, nodded at An, and then went to go collect his boyfriend before he could strangle Echizen.
Kamio blinked, turning slowly to look at An. "What…just happened?"
An beamed at him. "It's so cute! You're going on a double date with Oishi-san and Kikumaru-san!"
"Double…date…?" Kamio flushed bright red and shook his head. "An-chan! It can't be a double date! We're not even dating!"
"But you want to be." An nodded. "I can see it in your eyes. Come on, Akira-kun! It's a date with Shinji-kun, and a chance to find out what's wrong with him." She winked. "Maybe he's in love with you!"
"An-chan!" Kamio sputtered, turning away to hide his expression. I'm not that lucky…. He watched as Oishi said a few words to Shinji, then looked away again when he saw Shinji's head turn in his direction. But…maybe…it can be fun? If he talks, it's good enough for me. Even if he really is in love with someone…else….
Kamio tried his best to convince himself of that.
Well, as evenings go, this was a complete disaster. Kamio thought later, staring at the drink in his hand. And why am I still holding onto this? I don't even like lemonade! He looked over at the teenager sitting next to him. That's right; he bought it for me.
Even Kamio had to admit, the night hadn't started out badly. Surprisingly—to him, anyway—Shinji had been more than willing to come out with him, and he'd even been a little less quiet than he had been of late. Not much, but enough to make Kamio think that he was doing the right thing. Kamio had started to relax, sure that nothing could possibly go wrong.
A feeling that he lost as soon as he and Shinji approached the street courts.
When Shinji spotted Kikumaru and Oishi, clearly waiting for them, the look Shinji shot Kamio was one of pure venom. He clammed up at that point, barely saying a word to anyone, no matter what they did. He had been silent though dinner, silent while walking through a street fair (where he had at least unbent enough to get the aforementioned lemonades), and now, was silent in the park.
Kamio had never been more miserable in his entire life.
He watched as Kikumaru dragged Shinji out into a clearing, pointing up at the sky and rambling about…something that Kamio couldn't hear, pointing up at the sky enthusiastically. "I don't know why he's bothering," Kamio muttered. "It's Tokyo; who can see stars."
"But it's fun to try."
Kamio looked up at Oishi sourly. "This was your idea," he pointed out. "And it's sucked. Not happy with you right now."
"Not completely." Oishi smiled almost enigmatically. "I was watching Ibu-kun…do you know how possessive he is of you?"
"Possessive? Of me?" Kamio shook his head. "You're insane."
Oishi chuckled. "I think he was upset because he wanted to be alone with you. There's only one way to find out."
"What do you mean?"
"Figure it out." Oishi stood, going over to Kikumaru and murmuring in his ear, then drawing him over to another part of the clearing and down to the ground. They immediately began looking at the sky and talking in soft voices.
Shinji was left alone.
Looking at Shinji, Kamio felt a sudden clenching in his stomach. He's got to be wrong…right? I mean, he can't possibly have wanted to be with just me tonight, but…I don't know. He groaned, realizing there was only one way to find out for sure.
"Hey, Shinji?" Kamio came up behind Shinji, touching his arm carefully.
Kamio blinked. "I—what?"
"Oishi-san and Kikimaru-san. They're kissing. Isn't it a little rude, to be doing that in public, and it's so hot out, can they really like being all over each other like that, though if Kikumaru-san loses his shirt like it looks like he's going to, I guess that will make it a bit cooler…."
Kamio blushed, refusing to look in the direction that Shinji was, and desperate for distraction, turned his attention to the sky instead. "Wow…you can see stars. That seems wrong."
Shinji blinked, focusing on Kamio, rather than the making out going on nearby. "Wrong?"
"Yeah!" Kamio smiled in relief, glad to be able to run with this topic. "Isn't it supposed to be really hazy in summer? Not to mention the lights from the city and the fact that it rains a lot." He flopped down onto the ground, and, slowly, Shinji joined him. "But there they are. Stars."
"And the moon. It's nicest when it's not quite full, I think." Shinji leaned back onto his elbows, staring at the sky.
"Yeah, the moon's nice too." Kamio smiled, glad that they were both finally relaxing. "Hey, Shin, you know about the constellations, right? I mean, the legends and all?"
Shinji gave Kamio a blank look. "No. I know the stars, not legends." He was quiet for a moment. "Tell me some?"
Kamio blinked, surprised, then relaxing into a smile. "Yeah, sure…." In a voice that was softer than normal, Kamio began telling some of his favorite summer legends, pointing to the few stars that were visible as a guide for his words.
Some time later, Kamio's voice trailed off, and he found himself looking over at Shinji. At some point, Shinji had stretched full-out onto the grass. His eyes were closed, and his breathing slow and even. He fell asleep…I should wake him up, get him home…but he looks so peaceful like this, so handsome….
Kamio knew it was wrong, but it didn't stop him from shifting, moving closer and closer to Shinji. One kiss…just one…and then I'll wake him and be just his friend again. Only one kiss…. Softly, Kamio's lips brushed Shinji's, lingering.
Shinji's eyes fluttered open, meeting Kamio's gaze.
Kamio pulled back like he had been stung, flushing scarlet and stammering. "Shinji! I—I'm sorry! I didn't mean—I mean, you looked so—and I all I wanted was—AAARGH!" He couldn't repress his scream of frustration as he looked away from his best friend, ashamed. "Shinji…."
"I was hoping you'd do that."
"Huh?" Kamio blinked, sure he was hearing Shinji wrong, turning back to face him in his shock.
"I've been waiting for you to make a move." Shinji remained laying on the grass, looking up at Kamio with solemn, steady eyes. "I know you like me, and I like you, too, but I had no idea how to tell you, so it seemed easier to not tell you and hope you could bridge that gap since you're better with emotions and all, but you just acted weirder around me, and then you asked me out which I liked, but you really didn't, so I was upset and thought that maybe you didn't really like me like that or want to be alone with me or anything, but you just kissed me, so I'm hoping that means that you really do like me and weren't just moved by that romance story you were telling." Shinji propped himself up some. "Do you?"
Kamio blinked. He…he likes me…wanted to be with just me…so I was right, the double date was a bad idea, but…. Suddenly, he realized that Shinji might actually like an answer. "I…yeah. I like you, Shinji. I mean, I really do. A lot. And—"
Kamio was cut off when Shinji's lips covered his own. His eyes widened in surprise, but he relaxed quickly, his eyes closing and he pressed into the kiss softly, letting Shinji lead it however he liked.
After some time, Shinji pulled back slowly, licking his lips. He gave Kamio a small smile. "Akira, want to go with me to the beach tomorrow, just the two of us?"
It was on the tip of Kamio's tongue to refuse. He liked the beach, but burned badly every time. He was about to, but two things occurred to him at the same time. One, Shinji was asking him out on a date. And, two, he'd have the chance to see Shinji in a bathing suit and nothing else.
With those opportunities, a sunburn seemed like a small price to pay. "Hell yes!"
Kamio leaned in and kissed Shinji again, glad that something had turned out right, after all.