Disclaimer: I own very little.
A/N: This was originally posted on Kamio's birthday.
"You don't look too happy, Akira." Shinji looked up at him.
"Well, I'm not!" Kamio huffed, flopping down next to his best friend. "That Momoshiro is driving me crazy!"
"And the other way around," murmured Shinji to himself. "Really, the two of you are so childish, I sometimes seriously wonder just how old you are…"
"What?" Kamio turned to stare at him.
"Nothing, nothing," Shinji replied. "So what did Momoshiro do to you this time?"
"Not anything just yet," Kamio admitted a bit grudgingly. "But he's going to!"
"And you know this how, exactly?" Shinji questioned. "Really, you shouldn't always be so suspicious. I bet a lot of your fights would have been avoided if you both didn't jump to conclusions so easily, but then I rarely even notice him so what can I say…"
"An-chan told me." Kamio crossed his arms over his chest. "Can you imagine? She's going to go on a date with Momoshiro! A date! And not just any 'hi meet me there' date of hers, but an – actual date! The kind a boy and a girl go on together!"
"I wonder what Tachibana-san says about that," Shinji mused. "But then, Momoshiro is good at tennis so I can't see any reason for him to protest…"
"Momoshiro just doesn't understand!" Kamio declared, slamming a fist against his palm. "Any idiot could see An-chan only agreed on the date to make him happy. There's no way she'd ever really like him that way, and he's an idiot for not seeing that!"
"…So Momoshiro's stupid not to see she doesn't like him?"
"Exactly!" Kamio turned towards Shinji. "Don't you agree? There's nothing more stupid than running after someone who obviously doesn't like you! But then, that's just to be expected of Momoshiro…"
"…I wonder." Shinji turned his gaze away, his voice lowering to a murmur, probably not even noticing he was still talking. "Who's the more idiotic one, anyway? The one who doesn't notice someone doesn't like them or the one who doesn't notice someone does like them? And maybe Momoshiro does know but he just doesn't care. Or maybe An-chan really likes him, who knows, it's not like Akira has asked her or anything, he wouldn't do that. But really, if Momoshiro's idiot, then he's not the only idiot, because really you'd think it's easier to notice feelings than lack of them, but maybe I'm wrong and –"
"…Shinji?" Kamio touched his friend's arm to make him quieten for a while. "Shinji… what are you talking about? Who doesn't notice and what? Do you mean An-chan doesn't know Momoshiro likes her?"
Turning to look at him, Shinji was actually quiet for a moment, merely watching his friend closely. Finally, though, he rose from the bench they were both seated at. "What'd I say? The worse idiot," he muttered before shouldering his bag and walking away.
"Wait, what?" Kamio blinked. "Shinji? Shinji, come back! You didn't explain –"
Shinji turned to look over his shoulder. "When you figure it out," he said, "feel free to call me. If you'll still want to, that is. I wouldn't know, really, it's not like I've ever asked you or anything so I've no idea how you'll react, but even if I'm hopeful I still don't think –" The voice wandered off along with him as he left Kamio behind to look after him, confused.
"I just don't understand." Kamio looked helplessly at his captain. "Shinji hasn't even called me after that, and he calls me every day… Did I make him angry or something? I really don't know what I did wrong…"
"…Kamio." Tachibana sighed. "Tell me one more time, what did Shinji say before he left?" He looked at his vice-captain, exasperated. He wouldn't have minded being the unofficial team therapist if the "problems" hadn't been ones his team could have just as well solved all by themselves… But of course they had to turn to him. What were they going to do when he went on to high school?
"He muttered something about it being more stupid not to notice someone liking you than not to notice someone doesn't like you," Kamio replied. "And when I asked him to explain he just started mumbling again and walked off…"
"Really, now." Tachibana rubbed his temple. He could almost feel a headache coming within the next three minutes or so, if this kept up. "And what do you think, could these two things have anything to do with each other? Shinji's mumbles and his walking away?"
"Well, if it was that, he should have explained it to me!" Kamio protested. "But he just left like I'd done something wrong!"
"Well, let's think this over." Tachibana bravely resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "A moment earlier he was complaining about some unnamed person not realizing that someone likes them. Then he appears upset. See any connection there?"
"Huh?" Kamio frowned in thought before his expression suddenly brightened in realization. Tachibana breathed a sigh of relief. "You don't mean… Shinji likes An-chan, himself?"
"…No." There. Headache. He'd have to ask Atobe what he did to get rid of those. "That's not it. Try again."
"Then…" Kamio's eyes widened, his expression turning into a mix of anger and shock that might have amused Tachibana if the situation hadn't been so very frustrating. "He likes Momoshiro?!"
"Wrong again." Now, Tachibana did roll his eyes. He was hardly an expert in social relationships, but apparently even he was exceptional when compared with his dear vice-captain. "Or is it Momoshiro he's currently upset with?"
"I wouldn't know, I haven't seen Momoshiro just now," Kamio replied, defensively crossing his arms across his chest. "All I know is that Shinji's –" His eyes widened even further. "Wait, you don't mean –"
"That's what it looks like, eh?" Tachibana raised his eyebrows. "Honestly, Kamio. Even I've noticed he likes you, and that's saying a lot. Of course he's upset when you are bitching over Momoshiro's interest in An and never realize he likes you."
"Then why didn't he tell me?" Kamio blinked. "Isn't that how it works? When you like someone you tell them, right?"
"It's not always that simple." Sighing, Tachibana shook his head. "Look, why don't you – why don't you just go and ask him yourself? It'd probably give you more results than talking about it with me."
"Hey, that's a good idea!" Kamio grinned. "Thanks, Tachibana-san!"
"…Don't thank me. Really." Tachibana meant every word. He had hardly a morsel of respect left for his vice-captain's social skills; being thanked for such an obvious piece of advice was just… unbearable.
Hopefully Shinji would have a bit more patience.
"Stupid Akira," Shinji muttered, his face shielded by a curtain of hair as he leant over his desk, staring down at his homework but not really working on it. "He never understands anything, does he? Always just assuming things are like they seem at first glance, he never bothers to take another look…"
"…I really don't think I'm quite that much of an idiot."
The familiar voice made Shinji spin around in his chair. He stared at the doorway of his room – or, rather, the boy standing in the said doorway. "…Akira? What are you doing here?"
"Your mum let me in," Kamio replied with a shrug, stepping into the room and closing the door behind him. "She… said you needed cheering up."
"…Not true." Shinji turned back to his homework. He really didn't want to look at Kamio now. That idiot who didn't understand anything…
"Shinji?" He didn't turn to look. "Is it true that you like me? As in… like-like?"
Shinji froze, unable to move even an inch. Finally he managed to relax enough to get out a, "Who said that?"
"Tachibana-san." And of course Tachibana-san was right. He always was. Shinji knew it just as well as Kamio did.
"…Ah." For once, Shinji really couldn't find anything to say. He just sat, unmoving, even as he heard Kamio's steps approaching.
"Shinji…" A hand was settled on his shoulder, Kamio's hand, Kamio was touching him. "Why didn't you say anything?"
"I didn't think I had to," muttered Shinji. "It was pretty obvious, at least I thought so, so when you never showed you noticed it I just assumed you just didn't want to make me upset by turning me down."
"That's not it. I just honestly didn't notice!"
"How could you not notice?" Shinji asked, feeling somewhat exasperated. "Weren't you paying any attention to me at all? All those times I stared at you? Called you late at night even when I didn't have anything sensible to say just to hear your voice? All the – just, everything?"
"Why would I have?" Kamio asked. "Come on, Shinji. You're always talking about everything. I've never had to just notice something because you always tell me everything!"
"Tell you everything?" Shinji echoed. "Hardly. That would mean you'd have to listen."
"I always listen to you!" Kamio protested. "Always! I mean, I may not always look like it, but I do. Honest. Because, well…" Kamio paused for a moment, his fingers echoing over the bare spot of skin where hair parted at Shinji's neck in a way that sent a shiver down his spine. "It's you."
Shinji's head dropped even lower. "What does it matter, anyway?" he murmured, more to himself than Kamio though the other boy probably heard it as well, being close as he was. "So you didn't notice before and are going to turn me down now. The end result's the same for me, anyway. Don't know which one would hurt more, though…"
"…Shinji." Couldn't Kamio stop that… that thing he was doing with his hand? Didn't he realize what he was doing to Shinji? "I never said I was going to turn you down."
This made Shinji freeze again. "…Don't tease me like that," he finally muttered. "It's really not nice, getting someone's hopes up like that, It's only going to hurt more that way, but maybe you're trying to hurt me, I wouldn't be too surprised because you hardly like it when another boy likes you but I can't really say I'm sorry because I like you and…"
"Shinji." This time it was not just a hand, it was both of Kamio's arms wrapped around Shinji's shoulders, his head next to Shinji's, his warm breath brushing against Shinji's face. "Look, I'm an idiot, okay? I'm only fast on my feet, not when it comes to thinking. I don't see what's right in front of me. But not even I am enough of an idiot to turn you away."
"Akira… you mean…" He didn't dare say it. He couldn't. It'd hurt too much to get rejected after that.
"I like you, too, Shinji." He could hear the slight smile in his best friend's voice. "That's why you should have told me sooner! Idiot."
…Maybe, Shinji found himself thinking, maybe he indeed was the more idiotic one, here.