Once again, I have twisted the characters in Persona. This is my third (and longest) oneshot featuring AkiMin. I really hope that you enjoy this one like you've enjoyed the other two. This one really doesn't have any bearing on the others, so everything should be understood without reading those. Nevertheless I would enjoy it if you read them if you haven't yet. This story took me about two months to write. I hope you enjoy my work and tell me what you think about it. Thanks again, enjoy.

Disclaimer: I own nothing. Not the characters, not the concept, not even three bucks. They all belong to Atlus and co. and shall never come close to belonging to me. On another note, this story and idea does belong to me, and I shall be quite sad if you attempt to steal it.

Study Break


There are two different types of people. There were smart people, and then there were ones that were just plain dumb.

Sanada, Akihiko hoped that he would be falling into the first category.

Now he would have been lying to say that there were only two things you could be. There was a good possibility that you resided nicely in the middle of the smart and dumb scale. In fact, being average was well, average. But Akihiko was not an average boy and therefore could not have completed average tasks. In fact he could not be average in any way, shape, or form. He wasn't to have an average girlfriend -after all everyone had one of those-, he wasn't to be an average fighter, and he certainly was not allowed to have an average hobby. Or have achieved average grades for that matter -especially since a certain red haired women watched them like a hawk.

The only problem was that no matter how hard he tried, all his activities conflicted. During the week he was at school. If he wasn't at school he was at boxing practice. If he wasn't at practice he was eating. If he wasn't eating he was accompanying the other occupants of the dorm to Tarturus. And if he wasn't fighting shadows he was sleeping. All in all it was a pretty hectic schedule and any normal person would have crashed a long time ago. But if it hasn't been noticed, Akihiko was not by any means a normal person. Normal meant average and that was not acceptable.

So when his grades (yet again) started slipping, the boxer knew there was only one thing to do. Ask for assistance. He wasn't sure that this was going to go exceptionally well though. For one, he was a prideful person and thus had a hard time admitting that he was unable to fully comprehend the information placed in front of him. Furthermore, he was unable to just pick out a random tutor for himself. Being popular with the ladies had it's many, many downfalls.

But even if he had gotten a male tutor, anyone in his grade would not want to tutor him. In fact, it would have been surprising to note the amount of people that really did not like him as a person. So his only obvious choice was Mitsuru. She was smart, in his grade, and furthermore had shown the ability to put up with him for more than a year. The only problem was that she was Mitsuru. Strict, and able to keep you under her thumb until she decided you were good enough to warrant the use of a leash.

Thus Akihiko was reduced to having to study on his own, in time that he could be using to do one of his many tasks. And that was how he found himself seated on one of the couches in the middle of the living room for about a week. Exams were coming soon and the only time he had to study was during his dinner (which, mind you, caused a little more than one mess). This was also where he was the one fateful night that a rather surprising tutor came into being.

Akihiko had yet again found himself in the middle of the lounge, seated in one of the oversized couches. He was eating ramen -the only food he normally got- and trying to study his English. His worst subject just had to be on the first day. Way to kick-start exam week eh?

His lips pursued in agitation and thought and the boxer was sent into a flurry of confused and angry thoughts. A quick slip of the fingers and frantic righting of his ramen bowl and the boy decided to plant the cup on the table to prevent his book from becoming thoroughly soaked. That would certainly make his day.

"You're reading Poe?"

Akihiko jumped and ended up almost smacking the owner of the voice. The boy turned his head to stare into the bright eyes of Minato. The blue-haired boy wore his own bewildered look, no doubt not having anticipated the other's reaction to have been quite like that. The mug of herbal tea in his hand was indication that he getting ready to settle down for the night. It probably helped that he was wearing pajama pants with small prancing cats all over them.

"You're wearing cats," Akihiko said, pointing at the other's pants.

Minato gave a quick blush and a sniff before flopping down on the couch. The tea gracefully stayed in the mug making the boxer rather jealous that he couldn't keep his own food off of him. "Moving on," he evaded, "I didn't know you guys were reading that kind of English poetry."

Akihiko nodded closing the book and holding his place with his thumb. "Can I help you?" he asked, a little peeved that his statement had been batted away.

"Nope," Minato stated bluntly. He took a sip of his tea before staring at the book in thought. "I was just curious."

Akihiko nodded and opened his book back up ready to start on the annoyance once more.

"It was many and many a year ago,

In a kingdom by the sea,

That a maiden there lived whom you may know

By the name of Annabel Lee;

And this maiden she lived with no other thought

Than to love and be loved by me."

Akihiko jumped again. He had been so wrapped up in trying to read it correctly that he hadn't noticed the blue-haired boy leaning gently over his shoulders. Minato squinted to read better, leaning farther over Akihiko's shoulder. "Ah, Annabel Lee, I've read that before." And with that he settled back in his original position on the other side of the couch.

The older boy gave him an incredulous look. "You've read this?" he snorted, pointing a finger at the book in hand.

Minato gave a short nod of the head. "Yep. We studied English poetry in my other school. Poe was a favorite. That particular poem I've read on my own time," he said as he took another sip of his tea.

Akihiko shook his head in wonder. "You really are amazing you know that."

The boy's mouth curved a little in what could have been a smug smile. "So what exactly are you studying?"

"The feeling the author was trying to convey." When Minato gave him an odd look Akihiko grew defensive. "Is there something wrong with that?" he snapped, shutting the book once again.

"No," he said simply, once again peering at the book. "I just thought that was obvious." When Akihiko opened his mouth to protest he continued, "It's happiness."

"What?" The boxer gave him a weird look.

Minato sighed before pointing a free finger at the book. "The feeling is happiness. He wants you to be happy that they're in love. Later on it's sadness. She dies of a disease, and the audience is supposed to be sad about it."

Akihiko gave him one more look, glanced at the book, and looked back up. "Um, thanks?" he said, though it was more of a question than anything else.

Minato gave another smile before sipping the rest of his tea. "Anytime," he said, and stood up to go dispose of his mug and disappear up the stairs. Akihiko watched him go before returning to his work.

"Happiness eh?" Akihiko muttered shutting the book. "Whatever he says."

But the next day the conversation stayed in his mind and he blazed through the test. And that night Minato visited him again.

"How did you know that? This is supposed to be Senior material."

Minato rolled his eyes before he seated himself down on the couch. "I told you," he started, sipping from his mug, "I studied it in my old school."

Akihiko snorted and tossed a crumpled piece of paper at the other boy. Minato responded with a wrinkled nose when the paper landed with a plop in his mug. "And where was your old school smart guy? America?"

Minato daintily lifted the paper from his mug. "You know, this doesn't go well with warm milk," he said. His disgust increased when he shook the paper free of the droplets and ended up getting some on his shirt. Akihiko had to hold back a chuckle, but failed for the most part. The blue-haired boy responded by tossing the soggy paper back at him. The boxer immediately recoiled, succeeding in flipping off the end of the couch with a rather loud thud.

&

That was how they used their week. Each night Akihiko would seat himself on the same couch, open whatever textbook was on his lap and begin to study. Halfway through Minato would show up (same cats, prancing up and down his pants; though on one day he had worn a rather plain dark-blue pair) seat himself next to the other, and proceed to tutor. The next day they would both blaze through the exams, Akihiko more from the previous night's lecture than from his own studying.

It was no surprise that the two would become quite accustomed to their nightly meets. So on Saturday, after the exams were done and over the two found themselves on the same couch with no real reason and no inkling themselves of why they were there. The both of them marked it off as habit.

Minato walked in, started a bit when he witnessed Akihiko on the couch, and after getting over his initial shock he walked over and sat in the same seat he had all week. Akihiko himself jumped a bit when the blue-haired boy sat down, surprised both at the fact that Minato was there as well as that he himself was seated there at that moment. They each nodded at each other and remained silent. Awkward was the only way they could describe it, there really wasn't any other word. Neither had known that they would be planning on carrying on their nightly escapades and both of them were quite embarrassed to find that they had still expected to find the other there.

After several minutes of the awkward silence Akihiko spoke up. "How do you think you did?"

The blue-haired boy just shrugged and stared into his tea. "I dunno," he said, sounding like the whole thing just embarrassed him. "How about you sempai?"

Formalities again hmm? Akihiko had thought them on pretty good terms after the whole week, he specifically remembered the boy calling him without an honorific the last night. "Pretty good, you're not that bad a teacher Arisato-kun."

Minato nodded, his lips pursing into a small scowl, and Akihiko was pleased that the jab had gotten a reaction out of the younger boy. They sat in silence a while longer and when it was broken it was Minato that did it. "I don't suppose you care if I still study here sometimes."

Akihiko shook his head and gave a grunt in response. The silence stretched on. It had to have been at least ten minutes before the boxer had decided that the whole thing was getting ridiculous. They were young adults not a couple of kids and them acting like a teenage (though he couldn't deny they were teenagers) couple on their first date was going to stop. Now.

"I never did bother to ask, what exactly have you been drinking."

Minato arced an eyebrow in confusion. "It changes, it's normally Jasmine though," he said, "want some?" And with that he held out the mug. Akihiko hesitated before bending over and taking a small sip of the tea. He understood why the boy drank the thing so much, it really was good. Minato smirked, seeming to read his upperclassman's thoughts. "I told you it was good."

Akihiko scowled and gave a snort. "You did no such thing," he argued. This got a light chuckle from Minato who was forced to hastily set his mug down on the coffee table as Akihiko lunged for him. The younger boy flipped backward off the couch and landed gracefully in a crouch. The boxer snorted again and stared at him from his new position on the couch. "Jeez, we should rename you ape-boy," he told him, which earned a scowl out of Minato.

The boy stood up and walked back over to the couch. "Are you gonna move or do I have to sit on you?" he asked, his face expressionless.

Akihiko yawned and stretched himself out, effectively taking up all the couch. "Do your worst," he teased.

Minato grinned and bent down to grab his tea. After taking a few small sips he sighed and turned around. Akihiko was fully prepared to curl his legs in and tell the boy to get his ass back to the couch when he had the wind knocked out of him. Minato had plopped himself down square on the older boy's stomach. Akihiko couldn't really say that he had expected it, he also couldn't say that it was completely surprising either. It wasn't like they were strangers and the past week had brought them closer. He just hadn't thought it was this close.

Though he was quickly deciding that he didn't really mind that.

"What's wrong? Is little ol' me too heavy for the tough boxer?" Minato taunted. His grin was only interrupted by the occasional sip of his tea.

Akihiko let out a mock laugh. "Well aren't you funny." Minato's grin only increased. "Well wise guy, ever think that I might just decide to knock you off."

The boy looked down at him with a scowl. "You wouldn't dare.""Try me."

And he was up in a flash. Akihiko came face to face with the picture of a calico cat doing what resembled an Irish jig. "Did I scare the leader?" Akihiko taunted, sitting up and resting his elbow on the arm of the couch.

Minato stuck his tongue out and left for the stairs. "We'll see just how 'scared' who is tomorrow night," he shot back. With one last glance at the couch he disappeared up the stairs.

The boxer wasn't worried about his jab, he knew full well the line-up for tomorrow and knew for a fact that he himself would be in it. Their leader wasn't hard to figure out in some areas when you spent enough time with him. In fact, Akihiko prided himself in knowing some of the boy's habits. Minato had a tendency to look at whatever was in his hands and fiddle with it (or if it was a glass twist it around a few times) whenever he was nervous. He chewed his thumb when deep in thought, and sometimes would resort to gnawing on his pinky. The thing Akihiko noticed the most though, and, dare he say it, thought the most cute, was that he bit his lip when he was being thanked.

&

With a yawn and another stretch he stood up and headed for the stairs. Tomorrow was Sunday, that meant he could sleep however long he wanted, and just so long as no one interrupted him he planned on that being a long time. What he hadn't counted on was a certain blue-haired boy to come knocking the next day.

Akihiko slowly cracked his door open, eyes still glazed over and half-lidded with sleep. "Wha' you want?" he mumbled, unable to form complete sentences in his tiredness. That all went away when he got a good look at who exactly was standing on the other side of the door.

Minato fidgeted, cheeks stained a light pink in awkward embarrassment. "I thought you might want to do something today. It's not like the dorm's that exciting on Sundays, plus exams are over now…" he trailed off, clasping his hands behind his back to keep them from continued fidgeting. "If you don't want to that's okay," and he turned around to flee back to his own room.

"Wait," Akihiko shouted, snatching at the boy's shoulder to stop him. "I'll go, I really don't have anything to do. Um," and he looked down at himself, "just let me get dressed will 'ya?"

The boy nodded and stayed silent, Akihiko retreated back into his room to find clothes. So afraid that the boy would be gone when he finished that he rushed through dressing. He ran out three minutes later wearing three-day-old jeans, a t-shirt in serious need of ironing, and was pulling the sleeves of a jacket on. He was panting heavily in his new exhaustion and the whole spectacle made Minato arch an eyebrow. To this the boxer punched his shoulder gently and growled at him to 'shut-up.'

They walked down the stairs in silence, each wanting to say something and not knowing how. It was when they reached the bottom that each were finally shocked into saying something. "Holy shit!" Akihiko shouted, followed closely by Minato's "What the!?"

The group of three each looked at them in surprise. "Expecting someone else?" Junpei joked, laughing merrily. He strolled up to throw his arm over Minato's shoulder and hug the boy to him. Akihiko felt a pang of rage, he suppressed it both in surprise and for the fact that he didn't want to start a scene.

Fuuka smiled shyly as she clasped her hands in front of her. "Um, Sanada-sempai, Arisato-kun, we were wondering if you would like to go to the movies with us," she said, speaking so quietly that they almost couldn't hear her.

"Yeah, they're having a horror marathon today," Yukari said, feigning boredom. It was hard not to notice the light crack in her voice as she said it though. There was no doubt in either of their minds that the girl would be scared shitless almost the whole time.

Minato looked up blankly at Akihiko, having reverted to his apathetic side in front of the others. For some reason that slight detail made him feel a little proud. "Do you?" he asked, bringing Akihiko out of his thoughts. The boy looked up at him, waiting for his answer.

Akihiko was thrown for a loop. He hadn't figured the boy would take his opinion over the others. To tell the truth he didn't know that their leader had come to think of them as that close. The whole thing made him quite happy though and it was safe to say his ego was certainly boosted. "Sure, if you want to."

The blue-haired boy just nodded and turned to Junpei to say, "Why not?"

The trip to the theater wasn't that bad. The lot of them joked around and teased each other the whole ride (other than Fuuka, who was prone to trying to help the unfortunate victim, and who no one had the heart to pick on) only stopping when they finally got there and took their seats. Akihiko was seated on the end (and next to a girl from another party; one that eyed him the whole time and ultimately made him quite uncomfortable) and had the luck to also be on one side of Minato. The leader himself was between the boxer and Yukari, who had the unfortunate chance of being seated next to Junpei. Fuuka was on the other side of the prankster and lucky for her, at the end of the row.

The four movies lasted them until nine at night, and when the party was finally allowed out of the theater they were a jumbled mess of scared silly and completely embarrassed. Yukari had spent the majority of the time clutched to Minato's arm and Akihiko had figured she might rip it off before it ended. Fuuka had also had her fair share of scares fore they could hear her squeaks every once in a while. Minato himself had even gotten a little scared (though Yukari's constant jumps probably had something to do with it.) He had the occasional jumps, and each time he did he would brush his hand against Akihiko's. About halfway through he had gone from just brushing to outright snatching at either his hand or the sleeve of his jacket. Needless to say the both of them had come out quite red-faced. Junpei had perhaps been the only one unaffected by the whole thing. He had laughed the whole time and made a general ass of himself by spooking Yukari when nothing scary was on screen.

"We should go eat now, I'm starved." Leave it to Junpei to suggest food. Despite his annoyance with the boy though Akihiko felt his stomach gurgle. He flushed when the others looked at him and turned his head quickly with a snort. "I think Akihiko-sempai agrees," Junpei laughed.

Yukari continued to clutch to Minato's arm, looking quite paler then how she entered the theater. "Junpei if you do one more thing I will kill you," she snarled. "Don't think for a moment that I won't go through with it because I will." Fuuka tried and failed to keep the peace and in their bickering Akihiko managed to pull Minato aside.

"You wanna just head back?" he asked, whispering so as to not attract the other's attention.

Minato nodded his head in agreement before looking up to address the rest of them. "We're heading back," he stated.

Junpei looked a little bummed. "Aw but why?" he whined. "It won't be fun without the two of you."

The blue-haired boy shrugged before turning and tugging on the boxer's sleeve for him to follow. "We'll see you tomorrow," he said, giving a quick wave over his shoulder.

The group just stared in wonder as the two walked off. To Akihiko's chagrin he could still hear them talking further away.

"Do you think there's something going on with them?"

"No! They're not like that. Besides, doesn't Minato have a girlfriend?"

"Yukari-chan I thought you said he didn't."

"Busted Yuka-tan!"

"Shut-up! And what would you know about them?"

"They've been spending a lot of time together recently. A few days ago I came downstairs and they were lounging on the couch together. Quite comfortably might I add."

"Get your mind out of the gutter Stupei!"

"Junpei-kun, surely you can't mean that."

"Did you two know that Minato wears cat pants?"

"What!?"

"Yeah he's only ever worn them in front of Akihiko-sempai."

Mortifying. Simply mortifying. And the worse thing about the whole ordeal was the lot of them didn't stop to think for once that they could still hear them. In his thoughts he ran into Minato, who had stopped just recently. "Sorry," the boxer grunted after having righted himself.

Minato just nodded, holding onto Akihiko's sleeves to steady himself. "Do you wanna just walk around?" he asked, and Akihiko swore that the boy went pink. "I know you really didn't enjoy that all that much."

"It was okay," he assured the younger boy. "I mean, it would have been better if Junpei shut up, but that's beside the point." It got awkwardly silent again and Akihiko put it upon himself to once again break it. "Sure, I suppose we can just take a walk."

The blue-haired boy seemed to light up and he grabbed his elder's sleeve again to pull him. "Let's go to the shrine, it's pretty there at night."Akihiko followed but was compelled to question all the same. "And you would know this how?" he asked, rather incredulously.

Minato sniffed and stuck his tongue out, "Sometimes when people have spare time they go for a walk. Would you rather me head on over to Club Escapade?" Somehow Akihiko foresaw that being a bad idea. Both for the boy and his own sanity. He didn't answer.

They arrived at the shrine just in time to see a dog stroll past, tail wagging brilliantly in the air. The pair made their way to the back and seated themselves on the far wall. Minato tugged on Akihiko's sleeve to get his attention. When he had it he pointed to the sky. "See? Look how pretty they are here."

The boxer had to admit, the guy had a point. "When did you start coming here?" he asked, trying to make conversation. It had been awkward since yesterday and he didn't want that anymore.

Minato shrugged, "I'm not sure really. I found it about a month or two ago and I've been coming here on and off since." He grinned for the next part, "Now this is a secret place. You tell anyone about it and I'll relocate," he teased, poking his companion above the ear.

Akihiko arched an eyebrow. "Really now. What makes you so sure your other one will be kept secret for long. I'm pretty good at finding people you know." He poked him back, his finger landing in the middle of Minato's forehead.

The blue-haired boy furrowed his brow into annoyance and jabbed his finger in the boxer's chest. "I am sure. You might be good at finding people but I'm a pretty good hider thank you very much."

Akihiko's own face mirrored the boy's and he shoved his finger into the other's cheek. "Finders are always better than hiders.""Are not." Minato jabbed him in the arm.

"Are to." Akihiko poked him in the stomach.

"Are not!"

And so it went, the arguing and the poking. It got so violent that they were standing up by the time Minato threw his finger the wrong way and jabbed Akihiko in the eye. The boy fell back, grunting with slight pain, and clutched at his eye. Minato went down with him, terrified he might have succeeded in blinding his sempai. The boxer blinked a few times to steady his vision, his eye a light pink from the impact.

"Um, I'm sorry," Minato apologized, his hands hovering over the boy, unsure of what to do or where to put them.

Akihiko grabbed the other's wrist to steady him as he pulled himself up. "You're not forgiven," he said darkly, and Minato squeaked. "For me to forgive you, you have to be punished."

The boy squeaked again and jumped back as his companion lunged for him. "I'm sorry!" he shouted, darting for the playground. Akihiko ran after him, almost fast enough to catch the boy.

They ran like that for forty minutes. Minato ducking and dodging, Akihiko chasing and lunging. By the end of it they had turned it from simple teasing (Akihiko really hadn't known what he was going to do with the boy if he caught him) to a game. By the time he had finally managed to catch the younger of them both of them were panting in exhaustion.

Akihiko fell to a sitting position, dragging his captive down with him. "So I caught you," he said when he had finally gained his breath back. "Now all I have to do is think about what to do with you."

Minato stuck his tongue out, but he was grinning madly and his eyes sparkled. Akihiko swore the boy looked younger then he did awhile ago. "You won't ever know how to properly deal with me," he teased.

The boxer snorted. "Really? We'll see about that." Along with the young part Minato rather looked the part of a girl. His cheeks were flushed from exercise and his hair hung about his face and in his eyes. Akihiko lifted his hand to brush the stray hair away without thinking, and when Minato looked up in surprise he went red. "Whatever it is you won't see it coming," he said to cover himself, looking ahead so he wouldn't see the boy's face.

The blue-haired boy nodded his head lightly, grinning again when his surprise was exhausted. "Oh I'm sure. What are you gonna do, dress me like a girl and take me to a dance?" he teased, poking the other in the cheek.

Akihiko arched an eyebrow, grabbing the invading limb and tugging at it lightly. Minato looked miffed that he couldn't get it back. "Well, we could talk about that girl part. If you really want to wear a dress that badly I could make it happen." It was his turn to grin when the other went red.

Minato was about to say something when they felt a pulse and the world went a sickly green. "Shit," Akihiko swore, shooting up and helping the other when Minato almost fell. "I didn't know it was this late. The others will talk."

"Let them," Minato said, giving a light shrug when the other looked at him questioningly. "It's not like most of what they say is right, right? Plus even if it is it's not like they wouldn't find out anyway."

Akihiko snorted. "You make it sound like we're having an affair you know that?"

Minato went pink, half out of embarrassment the other out of annoyance. "I-it's not like that, I was just saying."

The older boy grinned and flicked his companion in the cheek. Minato sniffed and held his face to further thwart any attempts at his face. "Whatever you say," he teased. "Now let's get back." As they started running a thought came to him. "I guess we're not going to Tarturus tonight are we," he chuckled.

Minato shrugged. "They know what to do, it's not like I'm stopping them." With another thought he rephrased his sentence. "If they really want to go they'll go. Though since they hate the idea of going without me yes, I suppose we're not going."

Akihiko just laughed, making the other boy laugh with him.

&

"I thought you two said you were going home."

As soon as the two of them walked through the doors they were witness to both Yukari's probing questions and dominant figure seated angrily in the chair facing the door. Both boys looked at each other before looking over at the girl. Neither really knew what to say, there was probably a good explanation but neither had one at the moment and they couldn't exactly say that they wanted to be alone. That would certainly make a scene. The lights flickered back on and the drone of the TV started up again. The Dark Hour had ended.

"I need an answer," Yukari demanded, going slightly pink with annoyance.

Minato spoke up first. "There was this new ice cream parlor along the way. We figured we should check it out in case we all wanted to go there. As a group." He added the last part when Yukari gave him a pointed glare.

Akihiko was surprised at the ease the boy lied. It made him wonder how long he really had been lying, and even more, if the guy had ever lied to him. "And," Yukari snapped, motioning for him to go on. "Was it good?"

He shook his head. "Nope," was his answer and Yukari almost fell out of her chair in surprise. "It was nasty, they didn't have many flavors and Sanada-sempai had a hair in his." The girl wrinkled her nose in disgust, at least buying that story.

"But that doesn't explain why you were so late," she carried on, now moving her glare from Minato to himself.

Akihiko sighed and slung an arm around Minato's shoulders. Yukari eyed it angrily. "Mr. Bleeding Heart here saw a stray and couldn't just leave it alone. Made me run to the store for some food and water for the damn thing." He sighed and scratched his head in fake annoyance. "Before we knew it the Dark Hour set in and we had to run to get here."

She bought the whole thing now. Of course when he mentioned Minato being somewhat of a saint she would buy it. Since when would their leader of all people be anything but? It made him feel rather arrogant knowing he knew the boy better than her.

"Well, I'm going to bed, night," Minato headed for the stairs, giving a casual wave over his shoulder.

Akihiko was about to follow him when Yukari shot up and grabbed his arm to stop him. "You two really don't have anything going on right? You guys are just friends." She was incredibly serious, her eyes filled with hope and suspicion.

The boxer arched an eyebrow and tried to shake her off. "Of course we're just friends," he said, "What else would we be?"

Yukari let him go then, her expression going relieved at once, "Oh, yeah of course, silly me." She gave a weak giggle and bowed. "Sorry, I'm going up to bed too." With that she turned and ran up the stairs.

Akihiko sighed again and scratched the back of his head. He was tired, both from their day out and her questioning. He trudged up the stairs sleepily, yawning again and again. He almost slipped and fell right back down when he got to the top so startled he was.

Minato smirked at him, the his hair and clothes ruffled from his position on the wall. "Sorry about that," he said, "I forgot she might get worried."

"Worried?" Akihiko snorted, "She sounded like your mother. That girl's certainly got it bad for you man."

The blue-haired boy cringed and nodded, "Yeah, she does doesn't she." Akihiko was surprised to see how it affected the boy. He knew that he wasn't disgusted by girls, Minato had become quite the playboy, and he also knew that he didn't hate Yukari.

He reached out his hand and ruffled the boy's hair further. Minato ducked out and glared up in embarrassment. "Don't sweat it," Akihiko chuckled. "I'm sure she'll get better about it. After all, if I was a girl I'd be falling for that face too." Minato went pink and his expression mirrored pure surprise. It was his turn to smirk and Akihiko did it grandly. "What's wrong now?" he teased, "Have you fallen for me?"

"Hell no," Minato snapped, making Akihiko's grin that much wider. "Good night!" he fled after that, running down the hall in his sock feet and slamming the door behind him. Akihiko could do nothing more than keep his grin on.

&

He had woken up feeling adventurous. Perhaps it was because of yesterday night, or perhaps it was just because of the pure elation it was to make Yukari jealous, but Akihiko had woken up with a purpose. And that purpose was to go to school with Minato.

Akihiko was dressed and packed within fifteen minutes. He didn't waste any time after that. It was a known fact that Minato was an incredibly late sleeper and always got up early enough to barley make the last train. But with his luck today would be the one and only day that the boy decided to get up at a decent time and leave before he himself had even gotten out of his room. So the boxer rushed out the door, slinging his bag over his shoulder along with his coat and made his way down the hall. He banged on the door a few times before letting himself in.

There he lay, in all his blue-haired glory, gazing up sleepily at the intruder. Minato was a mess, purely and truly. He had on no shirt and a pair of sweatpants that were falling on one side, revealing a pair of striped boxers. His hair was a complete mess and Akihiko only realized how bad it was when the boy sat up. "Wha's goin' on?" he asked sleepily, sounding like a little kid. Akihiko couldn't help but think it cute.

"Rise and shine princess," he joked, strolling in to throw down his stuff and drag the boy from his bed by the armpits. "You're getting up today and you're going to like it."

Minato yawned and leaned his weight on his upperclassmen. "Five more minutes," he murmured. His head landed on the boxer's collar bone and a small trail of drool slipped down the side of his mouth.

Akihiko sighed and lifted the boy to force his legs off the bed and on the floor. "Um, no, up and at 'em. While we're at it, maybe we'll have you have breakfast today." Minato looked as if that was the most absurd thing he had ever heard. "It'll make you grow. Lord man, you have the body of a girl."

"Thanks. I appreciate the sentiments," he responded sarcastically, finally supporting himself on his own legs. The boy toddled around for a few moments, plucking his uniform from the floor and tossing it on the bed.

The boxer sighed and waved the younger boy away. "Change, I'll get your shit for you," he ordered. Minato nodded, still a little dazed from sleep.

It took a whole of fourteen minutes to get the boy together and out the door and he still wasn't fully awake yet. The thought that he wouldn't have bothered had he known Minato to be like this crossed his mind, but he quickly shook it away. It wasn't that bad, plus he liked to see his sleeping face. A light blush crossed his cheeks then and Akihiko cursed himself for thinking those kind of thoughts. He wasn't a pervert, and he definitely wasn't gay. Another glance at the boy next to him only made him waver in that decision. He hoped he wasn't gay anyway.

&

"So I heard you came to school with Arisato," Mitsuru smirked as she hovered above his desk.

Akihiko groaned, all day everyone had been asking him the same question. 'You came to school with that new guy right?' the rest of the question varied depending on gender and sexuality. "What are you a vulture?" he replied, resting his chin on his hand.

Mitsuru closed her eyes and nodded. "Is there something going on between you two?" she asked, and Akihiko noticed that she had suddenly become serious. What was it with women?

"Yes," he said monotonously, "I make love to him every night, and sometimes I won't let him leave on Sunday."

This harbored a gasp from the girls beside him and he knew that that was a mistake he'd be paying for later on. Rumors were all the girls in his class knew what to do with. Mitsuru caught the joke though and chuckled. "I see," she said, giving that 'I-know-more-than-you-do' smile. "Yukari has been complaining in the lobby a lot about how he never seems to spend time with them anymore."

The boxer snorted. "She's just sore that he's not all over her," he snapped, "She'll have to learn that he has a life away from her too."

Mitsuru smirked, "Is that jealousy I hear Akihiko?" she teased.

He went pink and gave another snort. "Why the hell would I be jealous? It's not like I own the guy."

She just nodded and walked away to seat herself. Akihiko glared ahead, already annoyed with the day. It wasn't like the two of them were attached at the hip. He had a life and so did Minato. So what if they had tended to spend more time together over the past week, that didn't mean they had suddenly developed a relationship. A guy could reasonably be friends with another guy, that didn't automatically make him gay. So caught up in his thoughts he was, that when the teacher finally called on him he had no idea what to answer.

&

After school was like waking up from a nightmare. You cherished every minute of it. That's how Akihiko Sanada felt when he stepped out of his classroom. Perhaps that was just because he slept through most of the class. Of course this feeling didn't last long when he looked to his left to see the impassive face of the boy who was causing his newly starting misery.

Minato seemed to know what was going on because he grinned. "Have fun today?" he snickered, "I'm sure you've had as hard a day as myself."

"You too?" Akihiko asked. The guy beyond him cleared his throat in annoyance and the boxer stepped out of the doorway.

The boy nodded, still grinning like he had no care in the world. "You know, it's not so bad after awhile. You get used to being talked about pretty quickly." That wasn't exactly what was bothering him, he was pretty popular after all, but Akihiko nodded his head all the same. "Hey, you wanna come with us to get some ramen?" Minato went a light pink when the older boy stared down at him in surprise. "I'm not forcing you," he snapped in embarrassment. "I just, you know, figured you might want to come."

Akihiko snatched at his retreating arm and smirked. "Sure, I'll come," he assured the other. Minato looked at the ground in defiance. "Just so you know, you sound like a girl when you talk like that."

The blue-haired boy went red in anger and started stomping off. "Shove-it why don't you," he snarled.

Akihiko chuckled as he caught up, enjoying the other's annoyance. "By the way," he started, "Who's us?"

"Junpei, Yukari, Fuuka, and," Minato paused to think, all trace of anger left from his face and tone. He pursed his lips and furrowed his brow in thought, Akihiko was reminded of his habits, especially his favorite one. "I think Kenji's coming. It's his favorite spot so I wouldn't doubt it. Yukari didn't want to ask Mitsuru, but if you want we can go ask."

The boxer was startled from his thoughts and even more so when he looked down to see Minato's questioning face. Damn the boy really did look like a girl sometimes. "Nah, it's okay. She probably won't be able to come anyway," he assured the boy after he had remembered what he had been asked. "Did you ask Fuuka's friend though?'

Minato tapped his lip, "I'm not sure. I doubt that she'd come though. Fuuka-chan said she was having some problems at home." They walked in silence a little longer and it was only when they turned to descend the stairs did he come to a conclusion. "That's right," he said, his face lighting up as he smacked his fist into his open palm. "Yuko and Kazushi are coming as well."

"Quite a crowd," Akihiko joked. "You sure you want me to come with you?"

The boy grinned, "Yeah. It wouldn't be the same without you, you know. Plus why else would I go then to hang around more with you?" and with that he ran the rest of the way down the steps, leaving Akihiko in a flustered daze.

"You son-of-a-bitch!" he yelled when he finally came to his senses. "Look me in the eye and say that you little liar!" He ran after the other, listening to the boy's laugh ring from all the way down the halls.

&

This was turning out to very awkward. Minato hadn't been lying when he listed off the participants. Every single one of them were there, from the obnoxious Junpei to the considerate Kazushi. It wasn't really the head count that bothered the boxer. No, rather it was the glaring eyes of a certain Takeba, Yukari that was really starting to piss him off. It hadn't been his idea to come, . Minato had pretty much sweet-talked him into it (anyone would have had a hard time resisting that face). But apparently in her eyes that didn't excuse anything. He was here and he was the only one seated next to their leader.

That had been Minato's doing as well. With the size of their group they couldn't really sit at the bar, it would have been to crowded and unfair to the other customers. As such they had chosen to seat themselves in the largest booth (which so happened to be in the back and rather secluded). Now with any circular booth, or pretty much any seat in general, there is always someone who has to sit on the end, and as a result that person is only next to one other. Minato had waited until half of them slid into the booth first, holding Akihiko in place by the sleeve the whole time, until he pushed the boy into the booth as well and sat himself down on the end seat.

Yukari hadn't been to happy with it, especially when she noticed that he had been seated next to Yuko. Apparently the girls had been rivals since their famous leader had come. She had been seated on the other end, and had been switching between glaring at the two of them to smiling sweetly at Minato.

"I never asked, why did you come get me this morning?" Minato asked him, his voice slightly muffled from the mouthful of ramen.

This made the whole table stop and each one looked at the two. "Oh," Junpei said slyly, "Lets hear it Akihiko-sempai."

Yukari reached over Fuuka and elbowed him. "Shut-up Stupei," she snapped. "I'm sure Minato-kun just didn't get up again."

Kazushi sighed from his spot between Kenji and Yuko. "That's not surprising, he sleeps through class almost everyday." That got a laugh from a few of them.

"Repaying the favor," Akihiko answered when he was finally allowed his chance. When Minato gave him an incredulous look he flicked the boy in the forehead. "You woke me up yesterday, figured I'd let you get a taste of your own medicine."

Minato went pink in annoyance and slurped down the rest of the noodles in his mouth. "Oh whatever," he sniffed, "You had fun didn't you? I did you a favor. Plus I didn't wake you up at seven-ten in the morning."

The boxer arched an eyebrow. "Yeah, well I helped you out. You finally got to eat breakfast didn't you?" When Minato refused to answer he went on. "Don't say you haven't missed the train before because I know. Mitsuru had to skip first period once to get your skinny ass out of bed."

"My ass is not skinny," Minato snapped back, sticking his tongue out rather childishly. "And how would you know?"

"Um," Fuuka squeaked quietly, "You guys shouldn't fight."

"It's okay Yamagishi-chan," Kenji assured her. "They're having a lover's quarrel is all."

"We are not!" the two said in unison, both looking slightly miffed at the whole thing. Kenji opened his mouth to retort but was silenced by Yukari's glare of pure venom. Instead he put his arms up in mock surrender and wouldn't say another word.

Both Minato and Akihiko went silent as the rest of the table went back into animated conversation. Neither one of them spoke the rest of the time unless spoken to, other than the small comments that they would give each other, none of which went unnoticed by the three who suspected the most. In the end they all disbanded, each of them wearing smiles and glittering eyes as they left. The group of remaining five left the restaurant in silence. Only Junpei had any real interest in making conversation and all his attempts ended in failure and Yukari's wraith. Fuuka looked like she wanted to say something too but was to timid to act upon it.

When they finally got to the dorms they all split up. Junpei stayed in the living room to watch TV, Yukari stormed up the stairs and a few minutes later the group heard a door slam, Fuuka had even seated herself in front of the laptop and was typing away, eyes glued to the screen. Minato and Akihiko walked up the steps together and disbanded at the top. Neither of them saw the other until the next day when Akihiko strolled into the boy's room to wake him up, only to find that the boy was already dressed and ready and greeting him with a smirk.

&

It was three days before the two found themselves on the couch again. Even with the absence neither of them thought it awkward anymore. In fact, as soon as Akihiko sat down he expected the boy to come walking through the kitchen doors anytime soon. Minato did just as suspected, holding the mug tightly, his hands slightly pink from the heat.

"I forgot how much I missed those cats," Akihiko teased, intercepting the punch Minato was about to give his shoulder.

The boy sniffed when unable to do any damage and flopped down next to him. "Maybe I should stop wearing them. If they're that distracting it's a bad idea," he snipped, turning to the side to lean his back against his upperclassmen's left side.

Akihiko didn't mind at all. He resisted the urge to put an arm around the boy's shoulders and hug him, waving it away as though he never thought of something so ludicrous. "But they're ritualistic," he continued to tease. "These meetings wouldn't be the same without your cats."

"By the way you obsess over them they're yours," Minato retorted between sips.

The boxer snorted before he gave a yawn. After a short silence he snaked his arm around the leader's shoulders and snatched the mug out of his hands. Minato protested as Akihiko took a rather large sip of the thing and handed it back. "You drank half of it," Minato whined, staring at the mug as though it were a foreign object. "You're such a brat sometimes you know."

"Oh I'm the brat," Akihiko snorted. "Last I know you were the one avoiding Yukari."

Minato was about to open his mouth when a voice rang out from the staircase. "What about Yukari?" Akihiko groaned and Minato shrunk back into the couch. Who else but Takeba, Yukari would step down the stairs and walk over into the living room at that moment? "You boys having fun?" she asked sweetly, sitting herself down across from them. Akihiko knew by the glint in her eye that she was the one having fun with this.

"Buckets," the boxer retorted blandly, hinting at her to get lost. Yukari of course ignored it.

Instead she focused her attention solely on the boy the two were fighting over. "So Minato-kun, what are your plans after school tomorrow. I thought maybe we could do something like we did on Monday again, but with our class this time." Akihiko didn't miss the emphasis on our.

Minato shrugged lightly, too nervous to really do anything but. "I dunno, I was thinking I would go to the park with Akihi-Sanada-sempai," he corrected himself. The damage had been done though, Yukari knew they were on first name terms. At least she didn't know they had gotten close enough to call each other without an honorific though. Now that would be a sight to see.

"Oh," she said, somewhat spitting it through ground teeth. "That sounds fun. Maybe I'll come with you guys. I haven't been able to hang out with Sempai anyway."

The boy continued to evade her. "It's okay, I'm not sure yet, plus with visiting Tartarus and all I'm getting tired." Her expression dimmed and she became visibly depressed. "Maybe we'll go on Saturday, if you want to come that badly."

That cheered her up pretty quick. "Yeah," Yukari agreed. "I definitely want to come. It sounds really fun." She giggled lightly before moving to a different topic. "You know, they're having another marathon on Sunday, maybe we could go see that too. It was fun last week, with all of us there." She glared at Akihiko on the last part, making the boxer snort lightly. Minato elbowed him in the ribs.

"Maybe," the leader agreed, shrugging his shoulders again. "If Sanada-sempai's going."

This time he could hear her teeth grinding, and somehow it elated him to know that it made her jealous. Served the little bitch right. "I guess we can. It wasn't all that bad last week."

"They're romance movies," Yukari explained, staring at him pleadingly. "And no one else wants to go."

"Get Fuuka, she'll have time," he dodged her again. The boxer was surprised the girl let him get away with as much as she did. If he had been in her position he would have beat some sense into the boy by then.

Yukari bit her lip and pouted. "She can't. She says she's meeting her friend somewhere. You know, the one we saved from the Dark Hour that one night."

How could either of them forget that night? They had both been lost inside that God-forsaken building. Akihiko had even began to think that something had happened to Minato and was prepared go looking by the time the boy had staggered up. Minato himself had been dazed almost the rest of the night.

Minato bit his own lip, but his face, unlike hers, was full of annoyance. "Then take Junpei, I'm sure he'd love going anywhere where he could pick up chicks."

Yukari huffed and crossed her arms. "Well thanks for your concern," she snorted coldly. "Now I know why those rumors are going around. You really won't do anything without Sanada-sempai anymore will you?" it was a rhetorical question but Minato answered it all the same.

"Nope."

And that was the final nail in the coffin. Yukari left for the stairs in a huff, twirling around before she ascended to snip, "You know, you won't have any friends if you cling to him like that."

Minato smirked and nodded his head. "I know, but who says I need friends?" She huffed again and disappeared up the steps.

Akihiko gave him a rather incredulous look. "Wow, never thought you had it in you to be that much of an ass," he commented.

The blue-haired boy just shrugged. "She's annoying after a while. Plus," at this he coyly grinned up at the other, "you wouldn't do anything without me either would you?" The boxer couldn't really say he disagreed with this statement. The two of them had pretty much become attached. You couldn't go anywhere with one and not have the other tagging along.

"So I suppose this means we won't be heading off to Tartarus tonight." The two of them jumped and whipped their heads to stare at a smirking Mitsuru.

Minato went pink and shot up. "Oh yeah, I forgot about that, where's Fuuka? I have to go tell her." He rushed up the stairs, tripping halfway and saving himself inches before his face collided with the carpeted steps by grabbing ahold of the banister.

When he had disappeared Mitsuru directed her attention back on her classmate. "I thought you said nothing was going on," she said, commenting more than questioning.

"I did," he responded, crossing his arms and leaning back to make himself more comfortable. "Look, it's not like we're in a romantic relationship or anything." She arched an elegant eyebrow at that. "We're not. Besides, what's wrong with a little male bonding?"

She sighed and sat down on the couch opposite him, crossing her legs primly. "The fact is that you're causing Yukari great mental stress and that means she won't be as efficient on the battlefield." She eyed him, giving him that look that clearly said 'back-off'. He didn't want to listen.

"Who say's she'll be fighting tonight?" he countered, knowing full well that there was no chance Minato would even think of putting her and him in the same group at this moment. And he knew that he would be in there tonight.

Mitsuru sighed and placed her fingers to her head in an act of exhausted annoyance. "Please Akihiko, I don't care what you do with him, I don't even care if you are having sex with him every night," and at that Akihiko went pink and snorted, "I just need you to back off slightly. It's causing more than a few scenes at school and within the group."

Akihiko snorted again and looked away in rebellion. "The only person I see having any problem with it is Yukari and she's just pissed that I've managed to get closer to him than she has."

"Then get further from him, or at least detached yourself," she argued.

The boxer shrugged, cocky smile plastered on his face. "I would try, but you see, most of the time it's not even my doing. Our leader's the one who drags me along on most of what's going on. Earlier today was a prime example."

Mitsuru sighed again and just gave up. "Oh whatever, do what you want. But please Akihiko don't feel like it's your duty to protect him. He's far more capable than you are with his persona." Akihiko just rolled his eyes.

"Hey you two it's almost the Dark Hour, we gotta get going!" Junpei shouted as he ran down the stairs, jumping over every other one. He was followed by an annoyed Yukari and a flustered Fuuka. No doubt the girl still didn't have much confidence in what she was supposed to be doing. Akihiko didn't relax until the blue-haired boy was trudging down the stairs. Minato sighed and scratched his head when he finally reached the living room, paying no mind to the group of waiting people at the door.

He bowed his head at Mitsuru first, who gave a quick nod of her own. After that exchange he walked over to the boxer's side and pulled his hands out of his pockets to bend down and grab the other's sleeve. "Come on, we gotta leave now," he said as he tugged his upperclassmen up.

"Alright, alright already," Akihiko said as he stood up himself. "Jeesh you're impatient." He gave Mitsuru a look as if to say 'see I told you' before locking the boy's head under his arm and walking off.

"Hey!" Minato whined as he rushed to keep up with the boxer. "That's no fair, stop!"

Akihiko grinned slyly, "You wanted to hurry up. Now you're the one being slow. I was doing you a favor by speeding you up a little." He chuckled and didn't miss that Minato himself was doing his silent laugh.

&

"Kirijo-sempai and Junpei-san," the leader listed off, his face blank and tone revealing no emotion. This wasn't unusual, he wasn't exactly one to show as much emotion as he had been the last few weeks. Akihiko supposed that if the boy hadn't tutored him he would have been seeing this face a lot more than the rare times he did. The boy was an enigma, he'd have to remember that or else they would start thinking there was something going on.

"Akihiko?" The boy in question looked up to see Minato's slightly miffed face. "Earth to Akihiko," he sniffed. "You coming or not?" The boxer nodded lightly, more embarrassed that he had been caught not paying attention then sorry he had been ignoring the other. Minato just sniffed again taking a few steps up to meet him and reaching up to flick him in the nose. "Get your head out of the clouds soldier," he teased, smirking lightly.

Akihiko paused before flicking the boy back. "That's strange, I thought a shrimp just ordered me around," he grinned at Minato's annoyed expression.

"I'm not small," the boy snapped. He really wasn't, at least not by height standards, but who was Akihiko to think about silly things like details.

"Well quit looking like a girl and maybe you won't be called scrawny anymore."

"I'm not a girl either!" Minato snapped in annoyance. Though by the sparkle in his eyes he was enjoying the teasing more than his casual conversations with most other people. That thought made Akihiko's stomach flip. "Now come on, the Dark Hour's gonna end if you keep standing around." He grinned as Akihiko scowled at him. "Fuuka, I'm counting on you!" he called over his shoulder, as he dragged the older boy by the sleeve.

When they had disappeared through the device Yukari sat down and pouted. "I hate him," she muttered.

Fuuka bit her lip, "I'm sure that there's nothing going on," she tried to reassure the girl.

Yukari batted it away with a scowl. "Don't feed me that bullshit," she snapped. "He never smiles like that for anyone else." The green-haired girl dug her teeth in further but had nothing more to say on the subject. She couldn't object to the truth.

&

The building fell apart. That was really the only explanation for how the tower turned back into their school. It was a ritual, each night that they would go to Tartarus they would stare at it from outside the gates in it's final moments. A very depressing ritual, one that they all hoped to end someday, but a ritual all the same.

The group each acknowledged the end and turned to walk away. Akihiko would have done the same had not the boy at his side grabbed onto his sleeve. "That boy," he whispered, "He said that the end is coming." Minato looked up with guarded eyes but Akihiko could still see the fear behind them. Minato's walls had gotten weak. "Do you really think it'll end? Do you think that this is all just a waste of time?"

Akihiko smiled softly before reaching out his free arm to place reassuringly on the boy's head. "Who really knows," he said, giving a light shrug. "We're doing our best though aren't we. You should just think about that."

Minato smiled, something that faltered quickly. "I'm glad you didn't get hurt tonight," he said, not exactly whispering anymore but still speaking softer than normal.

"Yeah, that's because you're a dumbass and had to jump in front of me," the boxer scolded. "Speaking of that, let me see the gash." Minato looked up in confusion. "You wouldn't show anyone earlier, now let me see what you got yourself into."

"No," the boy protested weakly. "I'm fine, it doesn't hurt," he gave another smile that fell away quickly. "I'm tired though, we should get back…" with that his knees buckled under him and he was only saved from the concrete by Akihiko's arms.

The boxer grunted as he hefted the boy fully into his arms. "Idiot," he muttered, ignoring Minato's protests. "I'm checking you out when we get back to the dorms too. And don't argue. I'm not stupid enough to believe you're okay."

Minato tugged on his collar. "Let me down," he argued, more energetic now that he wasn't holding himself up. "And you can't. It's not that bad anyway."

"Hey you guys, hurr-" Yukari gasped and the two's glazes shot up. For a minute they figured the girl was going to rant about how wrong that was and how Akihiko should never touch their leader. Instead she ran back to stand worriedly next to them. "Is he okay?" she asked the boxer, clearly not trusting Minato's judgment.

Akihiko was startled and so his speech was fumbled at first. "Well, um, I, no! No he's not. The idiot just about collapsed back there." Her eyes filled with worry and he hurried to make her feel better. More from pity than actual care. "He's getting checked out. I don't care what he or anyone else says, I'll make sure he gets it fixed."

She sighed in relief and Yukari gave a light nod. "I suppose, that's all we can do for him right? If you need my medical skills, just call me." He didn't miss the slight hesitation that she gave. Akihiko figured she might have given up trying to lodge herself between the two of them. The space was wide, but it obviously wasn't wide enough. And by Akihiko's observation it was getting smaller by the day.

"I'll call if he needs you," the boxer said, giving a reassuring smile. "I'm sure he'll be tough and take it like a man."

Minato pouted. "I won't take anything like a man if you keep deciding things for me. I'm fine, now put me down!"

Akihiko sighed and Yukari gave a light giggle. They finally caught up to those a few feet ahead (who had stopped without any of their knowledge) and the whole group made their way back to the dorms.

&

"Owww! Stop that hurts!"

The boy had been yowling ever since Akihiko had made it to his room. Obviously being on his own bed while he was being looked over didn't help to calm him, the boxer was even beginning to feel as though sticking him out in the living room would have made him quieter. "Stop squirming and maybe it won't hurt," Akihiko snapped, snatching at the other's shirt. He pulled it up to reveal a large gash and flinched at the sight of it again. The idiot had taken that for him. "Just take off your shirt," he sighed, releasing the fabric regretfully. Minato tried to protest which received him a knock to the head and another order. The boy did as he was told in spite.

When he had removed the garment and sat still (though he was still slouching something fierce) Akihiko went to find bandages and peroxide, returning quicker than would be expected. Minato winced as the fluid hit the wound, bubbling rather nastily. "Are you okay?" he asked, his face solemn and guarded. As if expecting the boxer to show some mortal wound he had received without anyone's knowledge.

Akihiko knocked him in the head again. "I'm fine," he snorted. "Unlike some people in here." Minato just smiled. "You really are an idiot you know," the boxer told him as he dampened another paper towel with peroxide.

Minato shrugged before wincing again. "You know," he started, pausing to wonder if he should go on. "I bet after today you're afraid to touch me."

The boxer gave him a rather incredulous look. "Really, and why is that?"

"The way you looked at Yukari earlier when she came back, it seemed as if you were terrified," he teased, snickering when the other snorted.

Akihiko rolled his eyes, "Trust me. The worst she could do is scratch me. I'm positive I'll be able to touch you again."

The smirk just got bigger. "I'm sure you can't," he prodded.

"Wanna bet?"

"Twenty bucks."

Akihiko smirked, he was never one to be one-upped by anyone. Their scrawny enigma of a leader was no exception to that rule. Knowing full well it wasn't expected he bent foreword and pressed his lips to the other's. Minato's eyes widened and he went rigid with surprise. They held that position for three minutes and it was a wonder that no one came in and saw them. Akihiko pulled back ever slightly and whispered against the boy's lips, "You owe me twenty-bucks."

Minato was still dazed when the boxer pulled back completely. His eyes were half-lidded and his cheeks flushed in embarrassment. Akihiko arched an eyebrow before shrugging and picking up the bandages. He was halfway through getting the first layer finished when Minato startled him.

"That wasn't public," the boy said. When Akihiko looked up the guy was smirking at him.

"Public?"

Minato nodded. "Yup, I bet you couldn't touch me in public."

Akihiko paused, dumbfounded for a moment. "Hell no! You said nothing like that damnit."

A snicker escaped the boys lips and his smirk just widened. "I meant it though. So I owe you nothing, and you have a day to win."

"That's not exactly fair," the boxer argued, knowing it wouldn't get him anywhere. Minato just shrugged.

Finished with the wrapping Akihiko sighed and stood to leave. He turned and was abruptly stopped by Minato's tug on his sleeve. "Stay," the boy ordered, face flushed pink. "Please?" he added when the other had made no move or sound.

Akihiko sighed and shrugged. "You're such a girl," he teased making Minato flush even redder. He sat down on the floor and leaned his back against the head of the bed. The blue-haired boy laid down and draped an arm over the side and around his neck.

"You better not leave," he sniffed.

Akihiko chuckled. "I won't darling," he prodded in response, not missing the lack of protest the other gave. In an act of what he chalked up as a lapse of the mind he brought up a responding arm to gently grab the boy's hand. Akihiko locked his fingers with Minato's, and the blue-haired boy clutched the hand as if he really were afraid that he was going to leave. The boxer couldn't help but chuckle.

The next morning they both were late to school.

&

Mitsuru eyed him the whole morning. He wasn't sure if it was because of last night (after all, she had been up later then them and he was positive she knew he had never left Minato's room) or because of earlier that morning, but either way she knew something and she wanted him to know. He'd be damned if he let on, but it was sure working. Mitsuru was certainly a force to be reckoned with.

She waited until lunch to approach him though, a thing that made him both grateful and severely cautious. "Well Akihiko, is the rumor true then?" she asked, her eyebrow arched elegantly in mockery.

The girls next to them went silent in anticipation. Akihiko was debating whether to give them something to fuel the gossip or dismiss it all together. He decided the earlier might be the more fun. "Well that all depends on the rumor you're hearing Mitsuru," he shrugged, smirking at the girl's obvious annoyance with it.

"Well, then I would like you to go inform them that we have a meeting tonight." That struck a nerve and she knew it. The princess wasn't giving him any leeway in this at all.

Akihiko bit his cheek and snorted. "Why don't you go? You're the one that always does," he argued, truly not wanting to go anywhere near that classroom at this time. The rumors were stronger there then they were in the senior classes thanks to Junpei, and he wanted no part in strengthening them.

Mitsuru obviously already knew this. "I'm busy at the moment, so why don't you go down and tell them. Oh, and tell Arisato that if he requires to put himself in such positions that he might want to consider the needs of the rest of us." The group of girls beside them immediately went to whispering. He knew that she meant the large gash that had been bothering the boy all day, but to a person who didn't know that statement could mean anything.

Sucking up his pride and trying to make himself deal with the fact that he would never win against Mitsuru the boy nodded and stood to leave. "Oh," he paused and turned around, deciding that he might as well dig himself a bigger hole to try and one-up the girl, "I made sure to inform our enigma what a bad idea that was last night." The girls gasped louder and Mitsuru's expression let in a small amount of shock.

Akihiko decided he could give himself one win.

&

The gasps were expected as he slid open the door and stepped inside of the classroom. He was an idol of the school and such reactions were expected. It annoyed him to know that half of that attention was now focused on him because of the rumors that had started to circulate. Sanada, Akihiko might be gay.

He was loath to approach the startled and obviously flustered boy that was seated in the second row. Not because he didn't want to see him, Akihiko had banished that thought last night, but because doing so would only increase his annoyance with the giggling girls that insisted on surrounding him.

"Sanada-sempai," Yukari interrupted his thoughts. He looked down at her, surprise etched across her face. "What are you doing down here?"

He shrugged in annoyance and sighed. "Mitsuru told me to inform you all we have a meeting tonight. Itsuki-san's making a surprise visit so she figured we might as well see if we can come up with more ideas." His eyes locked with Minato's and Akihiko was alerted to the fact that the boy had already lost his girlish flush. Instead the blue-haired boy was currently leaning back in his chair, a ten-dollar bill clamped into his hand, which was currently tapping his knee in rhythm. Akihiko almost snorted when he realized what the boy was doing. The guy had to be completely insane. When he had said public he didn't have to mean the whole school could see it.

Junpei interrupted the silent exchange to give a friendly punch to Akihiko's shoulder. "Hey Akihiko-san," he started, making the boxer arch an eyebrow in agitated amusement. "You know the exam results go out tomorrow, I say we have a celebration after school."

"Before?" Akihiko asked, slightly skeptical of the whole thing.

Yukari snorted from her seat. "He just wants to have it before because he knows when he gets them there'll be no room for celebration."

The light chuckle from Minato escaped no one's notice. Junpei sat down to pout while Yukari put her own chuckle in. Akihiko took his chance for the twenty dollars. "Come on, let me see it," he said, grabbing the boy's collar lightly to tug him up. Minato resisted for a moment before submitting to the orders and standing up. The light grimace he gave didn't go unnoticed by the boxer and Akihiko immediately regretted it. But he was already started, he couldn't back out now. Akihiko snaked an arm around his shoulders in a friendly-sort of hug, "Well you look a little better," and even with that statement he noticed that Minato hadn't recovered all of his color yet.

The boy shrugged and handed him the ten, Akihiko scowled which just made the boy's smirk all that bigger. "I feel a little better," lie, "so I really don't need you coming around to ask me that," another lie. Akihiko couldn't help the satisfaction building at the boys last statement. He knew all to well that Minato wanted him here, and Minato knew he knew it.

Akihiko leaned his head in to whisper into the boys' ear, "I'm taking you home right after school. You are in no shape to be running around with whoever." He felt the shudder the boy gave in return and saw the light coloring of his cheeks. Akihiko hadn't thought anything of it at first but now he had the mind to scoot away from the boy. Actions like that were not helping him escape the rumors. "Well, that's all I needed, I'm off."

He was stopped short by Minato's hand on his sleeve and the placing of another ten in his hand. "I'll give it to you now, but remember you still have to do something." He was smirking still as Akihiko rolled his eyes and snorted. "Oh by the way, see you later Darling."

The class gasped, Junpei went into hysterics (fully thinking it a joke; Akihiko himself couldn't figure out if Minato had meant it as both a joke and for real) Yukari paled then went red scolding about bad jokes, and Minato just sat there smirking. The little asshole, Akihiko thought as he ground his teeth. Just had to make life harder for him.

There was no use now, he might as well face the fact that the rumors were going to escalate now whatever he did. He might as well just get it over with and then later play it off as a dare. That would be understandable, what with Junpei's awkward humor and all. "No problem hon," he ground out, grabbing the boy's chin (which made Minato's eyes widen in surprise, though they twinkled in cocky expectance) and bringing his mouth colliding with his own. The room went deathly silent as the boxer pulled away, only to reveal a long trail of spit between them.

"They used tongue!" one boy cried out, and the girls all squealed in disgust or excitement.

Yes, he had earned that twenty-dollars, more than he had ever hoped he would.

With a parting, "I win," to the dazed boy, he left the room.

He pretended not to hear the shouting that Minato gave next. "You bastard! That's cheap! I want my twenty back!"

&

Akihiko sighed as he stood and left the room. Word traveled fast and he could tell by Mitsuru's laughing eyes that the girl had known full well something like that was going to happen. If the girl hadn't helped him out so much before he swore that he'd never talk to her again. He turned down the staircase before he was greeted with a sight he hadn't expected at all.

Minato smirked from his leaning position on the wall. "You're late," he teased.

The boxer just snorted, starting down the stairs at a slow pace, wary of the boy's intentions. "Just got out, you shouldn't complain. And why the hell are you moving around like that by yourself? You're going to open it back up."

A small pout graced the boys lips and he stared in rebellion. "Will not," he finally argued. "Plus, you said you were going to take me home. I figured you meant personally right," his grin came back full-force. "I thought I'd make it easier for you."

Akihiko sighed as he stepped down the last few stairs. "You should have just stayed put," he muttered as he slid two fingers under the boy's blazer and flipped it up. "It bled through the bandages," he snorted angrily, glaring at Minato. "You really opened it up, how the hell can you walk like that." It was a rhetorical question and Akihiko clapped a hand over the boy's opening mouth to keep it that way. "Come on, you really aren't going anywhere but home."

Minato pouted again but nodded all the same. He cringed at the pain and fell back against the wall. Akihiko sighed again and ducked under his arm, taking care to pick his good side to hold up. Minato took it gratefully, biting his lip to keep back another gasp of pain. "Thanks," he murmured, trying not to sound as weak as he felt.

The boxer saw it all and instantly hated it. "You never should have covered for me," he muttered, and Minato chuckled weakly in response. "You're a damn idiot for it and now you're bleeding yourself to death."

"I don't think so," Minato replied, his face going soft. "If I didn't do that you would have been like this, and I don't think I could have stood that."

Akihiko flushed, though it was probably more from the probing eyes that followed them as they made their way down the halls and staircase. "Yeah, well I can't stand this," he barked, effectively glaring at the boy. "Idiot, that's all you are."

&

He would have been sent straight to his room if he hadn't been so damn cute. Minato had pleaded with him to let him stay in the lounge and watch T.V. for a while, and Akihiko hadn't the heart to deny him. That was a lie. In actuality he had argued that Minato should watch his own television and the boy had shot back that he wanted to watch it with him and the only good place to do it was in the lounge. Akihiko had lost to the whims of their leader.

"You're surprisingly childish," the boxer told him.

Minato just shrugged, "I'm only childish with things I want," he retorted. Akihiko blushed and said nothing. Maybe it was the way they were seated, with Minato leaning against him, his cheek on his shoulder, but the older boy was finding it hard not to jump the other.

He had started noticing that he thought nothing of girls after the night in the park. It wasn't as if it was a big change, since he hadn't thought much of them before, but it certainly confused him since he had been attracted to them. It was only when the thought that this girly-boy was cute crossed his mind that he started to worry.

Yes he had began to fall in love with Arisato Minato. It wouldn't have been so bad if the boy wasn't their leader. Furthermore it would have helped his situation if the kid didn't have the uncanny ability to make any and every girl around him fall for him. He supposed he should be happy for the boy, after all a guy does enjoy having a bunch of cute girls fawning over him. The fact was that Akihiko hated the thought of Minato touching or being touched by any of them.

"Hey." Minato interrupted his thoughts, making him jump in embarrassment. "Why did you do that earlier?" he asked, snaking his arms around the elder's arm and hugging it to his chest.

"Do what?" Akihiko asked, refusing to look at him for fear of doing something he'd later regret.

Minato sniffed, "You know, the kiss." He face fell and his eyes went dim. "Did you really just do it for the money?"

"It wasn't," Akihiko snorted, once again finding it hard not to move. He peeked out the corner of his eye to see Minato giving him a confused look. "It wasn't for the money."

The boy bit his lip in happiness, but that quickly faded too. "It was a joke then? You didn't have to use tongue."

Akihiko was getting more annoyed with this by the second. "It wasn't a joke," he ground out. "And by the way you reacted you didn't mind the tongue."Minato's bite became one of annoyance. "If it wasn't a joke what was it? Were you angry because I teased you?"

The boxer finally reached his breaking point. Deciding to just 'screw it' he turned and bent down to capture the leader's mouth with his again. When he broke away he glared at the boy. "Shut-up," he snarled, before standing up and attempting to leave.

"Hey, you shouldn't leave an injured person alone you know," Minato cooed, making Akihiko stop right before he had reached the stairs. The boxer turned to see the smirking face of the boy. "Who knows what they might do, or who they might chase after."

Akihiko resisted giving the boy a good beating as he stalked back over. "It's a good thing I'm the only person you show this too," he snarled, angrily throwing himself down on the couch. "None of those girls would ever think of liking a person like you."

Minato just smirked as he flopped his head down on Akihiko's lap. "But you like me, and that's all that I really care about now," he retorted cutely. Akihiko didn't miss the teasing glint in his eyes. "So where did you learn to kiss sempai?" he asked.

Thinking it his turn to throw the other off Akihiko snorted, "Well kid, when you've had as many girlfriends as I have you start to get pretty good at the trade."

The boy went pale and his expression turned to that of frantic annoyance. "Wh-what?" he stammered, "But the whole time I've known you, you haven't showed any interest whatsoever."

Akihiko smirked and chalked up another win for himself. "Has anyone ever told you you're cute when you're upset?"

Minato blushed crimson and shot up to throw himself on the other side of the couch. "I'm not cute," he snarled girlishly.

"Of course you're not," Akihiko said, rolling his eyes.

They sat in silence for a while, only the noise of the television breaking it. Akihiko was just about to leave again when Minato spoke up. "You meant it right?" The boxer looked over to see the boy shyly rubbing the bridge of his nose. "The kiss I mean."

Akihiko rolled his eyes again and moved over. Minato gave him a confused look before he slung his arm over the boy's shoulders and pulled him over to lean on him. "Never thought you were that worried about these things."

Minato sniffed, "Well, it's not normal. Two guys I mean. And I figured you couldn't possibly be serious…" he trailed off.

The boxer peeked down to see the boy once again biting his lip. With a sigh he took his left hand and ruffled Minato's hair. "Yeah I meant it," he assured him. "I don't kiss people I don't like, let alone guys."

The boy went pink with happiness and nodded his head. After another moment of silence he spoke again. "Hey, I'm feeling better so on Saturday, you think you want to spend the night."

It was Akihiko's turn to go pink then. He blushed brilliantly and looked down to see Minato's arrogant smirk. "W-what? What are we going to do?" he stammered, not sure what else to say and not believing what the boy was saying.

"Oh who knows?" the blue-haired boy shrugged. He let his attention divert to the t.v. his expression satisfied. "I suppose we'll have to find out when we get there."

Akihiko groaned and gave up. He had no idea what he had just gotten himself into, but it was plain as day that the boy had many a thing planned for them. But he had to admit, a tiny part of him was rather excited for Saturday.


I know that Akihiko doesn't really care much about his grades, but I figured since he doesn't like being normal so he shouldn't like having normal grades. But whatever. The poem is Annabell Lee, by Edgar Allen Poe. I hoped you enjoyed it and would like it very much if you were to tell me what you thought. Thanks again,

Years