Chapter Six – Homework
Once Ryou had dismissed his class to go and practice amongst themselves what they had discussed and witnessed on stage, Jou politely excused himself from his partner and made his way over to the instructor, tapping him on the shoulder to gain his attention. The two retreated to the door at Jou's bequest.
"Hey, um, I was wondering," Jou began, looking at the floor to gather his words before meeting Ryou eyes. "Is this normal?"
Ryou followed Jou's gaze to the stage, where Atemu and Yuugi had slowed their kiss, but showed no signs of stopping it. He didn't need Jou to voice his concern. He'd been toying with the idea of interrupting them himself, knowing how Atemu was bound to feel when he became aware of himself again. Practical jokes and ribbing were one thing, but this incident had crossed the line.
Ryou shook his head. "This won't end well for 'Tem," he said, though a bit more to himself than to Jou.
Jou was uncertain if that was a comment he needed to defend Yuugi against or not, but Ryou's posture didn't signal attack. Still, he decided to air on the side of caution. "You worried Yuugi'll do something to him?"
"What?" Ryou asked, turning to address Jou's skepticism. "No. No, of course not," he said, running both hands through his hair and letting them rest on the back of his neck. "Your friend doesn't strike me as the vicious type."
Jou chuckled. "No, that he ain't."
"But Atemu… well, what should I say," Ryou muttered, dropping his hands to his sides. He decided on a short version of the truth; Jou, to him, didn't appear to be of the malicious sort either, and was showing concern for his own friend in the matter. "He's an extremely private person, and I mean that in the full sense of the word. When he realizes what he's done in front of my class…" Ryou let the thought end there.
"Oh." Jou lowered his gaze for a moment, thoughtful. Yuugi was the exact opposite, then, as flamboyant as they came. He didn't mind doing anything in front of anybody, which explained a lot about what was happening on stage. It was an odd way to search for love, in Jou's humble opinion. Putting all of yourself on display all the time couldn't possibly be the best way to attract the soul mate that Yuugi was searching for. Where was the fun, the mystery in total disclosure before the first date was even issued?
"You know what? I think you should end the class now. Everyone's pretty happy with it, and I think those two need to talk," Jou said as his eyes fished around the room before settling meaningfully on Ryou for his last comment, "and no one needs to be around for that."
After a pause, Ryou nodded in agreement. Indeed, it was time for class to end.
- - -
Yuugi used his lips to push languidly against Atemu's mouth, humming softly as his fingers engaged in a final twirl of the other man's hair before leaning back and opening his eyes. He took a quiet moment to watch Atemu and enjoy the serene expression on that homely face. Gods but he was beautiful, especially with his features lax and his lips parted just so after being meticulously attended to. Yuugi brought his fingertips to the inviting cheek and held them there, loving the feel of the heated skin and the echoes of shortened breaths.
Atemu's senses crawled out of the moment as Yuugi's fingers lingered on his cheek, in no real hurry to break the peaceful silence between them. Eyes open but unseeing he tilted his head to the side, away from Yuugi's hand, making no other movements.
Yuugi had no objection to this. He was quite pleased himself.
As the seconds passed into minutes, Atemu found himself wondering why he couldn't hear Ryou talking in the background, his friend's lilting voice always easily recognizable in a crowd. Eyes blinking back to clarity he moved them to the side, towards the room, and stared with growing apprehension. Quickly he turned and looked at the clock, his lips moving as he compared what time it was to what time the class should have been over. His eyes widened with the unexpected answer.
Yuugi grunted in surprise when Atemu shoved him away, stumbling to regain his balance as the other man rapidly distanced himself from his partner, giving every indication of a person who was about to come unhinged. Frowning in his confusion, Yuugi craned his neck forward in question. "What is it?" he asked, stunned when his voice made Atemu's entire body lurch with tension.
"I! I just-!" Atemu spluttered, attempting and failing similar utterances as he paced with such force that his feet reverberated against the linoleum stage. What the hell had he done?! In front of everyone! What kind of spectacle-! What… to do… but – he was only supposed to show a kiss! And a simple one!
He was hot and fanning his shirt wasn't helping to release any of the heat that was scorching him and his thoughts. He must be flushing… he better be flushing for how uncomfortable his skin was. His breaths weren't deep enough. He was having trouble thinking straight as he paced and fanned and muttered to himself. When he finally caught sight of Yuugi out of the corner of his eye, clarity smacked him with a sobering force.
"You!" Atemu snarled, his hands clenching the edges of his shirt and his eyes creased in anger.
"Me?" Yuugi returned with equal incredulity. He didn't feel he dissevered that disdain, especially not after such a fantastic kissing experience.
"How dare you put me on display!"
Yuugi's mouth dropped. Of all the-! "Look, I didn't make you do anything!" he said, only partially succeeding in keeping his temper in check. Pompous arrogance always made his blood boil. "You came up here on this stage all on your own. I had nothing to do with it!"
Atemu opened his mouth to retort but reconsidered, turning his back on Yuugi and pacing in a new direction that would keep the other man out of his line of sight. He did not believe Yuugi's act of innocence, nor did he believe the other man was dumb enough to think himself blameless in the situation. What kind of man could do… what kind of man was he that doing something so personal, and in such an intimate way, in front of an audience was acceptable? And if he was comfortable with such public displays, how many times had he done it before? With how many people?
How many others…
Yuugi winced at the combined growl, snarl, and scream of exasperation that Atemu released, muted only in volume due to the man's inability to unclench his jaw. It was not the sound one made when they were happy.
His wounded pride taking control, because someone screaming after you kissed them could only be taken as an insult, Yuugi wasn't quick enough to stop himself from asking, "Aren't you overreacting a little?" with his own inflection of ire. In hindsight, it wasn't a fair question to ask someone who looked ready to punch the wall and capable of beating it into submission.
"Fuck you," Atemu spat, his words clipping the end of Yuugi's question before he'd fully registered it. Closing his eyes and bringing his fists in front of his chest, Atemu forced himself to take a deep, painful breath and release it through his nose.
I'm gone, he thought as he jumped off the edge of the stage and marched towards the door, his face rigid with determination. Never again, he added, twisting the doorknob once it was in reach.
The sound of a locked door drained the color from his face, and Atemu found he didn't have the capacity to do more than stare dumbly at the uncooperative object.
Also surprised by the locked door, Yuugi was hesitant to react. While it meant that he and Atemu were alone, and the memory of their kiss was fresh enough to cause him to lick his lips in anticipated remembrance, it also meant that he and Atemu were alone, and that one of them was not be happy with the news, and that someone was unreasonably upset with Yuugi.
"Um," Yuugi sighed, softly, using his voice to symbolize a white flag to call for a truce. Atemu wouldn't spare him a glance. "Huh," Yuugi frowned. The man really didn't like meeting people half-way, did he? "I'm sure it was an accident. Your friend will probably be back in a minute once he realizes we're still in here."
Atemu scowled through the window in the door. Unlikely, he thought. He has no death wish.
"So," Yuugi said, unwilling to allow Atemu to further monopolize the conversation. He walked to the edge of the stage and sat down on it, propping one leg up so he could wrap his arm around his knee. "That was nice."
"Excuse me?" Atemu asked distractedly, tossing an annoyed glare over his shoulder before returning to his vigil of staring out the window. It would just be his luck that the campus was in-between classes so there weren't many people around.
"The kiss," Yuugi explained, undeterred by Atemu's boorish mood. He smiled. "I thought it was pretty good." His smile widened to a grin when Atemu was unable to restrain his scoff at the comment. "I'd say we gave them their money's worth." Yuugi stopped talking when Atemu jerked the door so hard that, even though locked, it rattled violently in its frame.
Okay… there was a touchy subject here.
"And you don't see it that way," Yuugi ventured cautiously.
Atemu leaned his head against the window, resigned to the fact that he was not to be released until Ryou summoned the courage to face his punishment and turned to Yuugi. "I most certainly do not," he said through gritted teeth, crossing his arms over his chest. "It is a disgusting thought."
Yuugi's eyebrows rose. Disgusting? "Why?" he asked, genuinely curious. "All we did was kiss. So what if they enjoyed it?"
Apparently that had not been the right thing to say for the murderous look that crossed Atemu's face.
"Have you no sense of modesty?" Atemu accused, bending at the waist to exaggerate his attack. Then again, with the way Yuugi had kissed him… "Oh hell," he cursed, rubbing a hand over his eyes.
"I don't understand what you're so upset about," Yuugi said, standing and putting his hands in his pants' pockets. "All we did was kiss." He paused when Atemu repeated the phrase in mockery, a frown pulling on his features. "It was just a kiss," he emphasized.
"A kiss is never just a kiss," Atemu said, narrowing his eyes at the wall behind Yuugi, refusing to look at the other man. "Nor should it be."
After a moment, Yuugi's lips twitched in amusement. "You can't be serious!" he said, his mirth clearly evident. "You talk like it's a sacred act or something." When Atemu met him with a level stare Yuugi burst into full laughter. "Geeze, man, come on! You're acting like you just had sex in front of a room of strangers!"
Atemu bit his tongue. "Dare not equate what I find personal to your loose sense of morality."
The attack hit home, and Yuugi's laughter faded immediately. That was entirely uncalled for and he let Atemu know it.
Atemu again turned his back on Yuugi, wanting nothing more than to be free from the room. He felt no remorse for his words. "I am not an object for display. I will not be treated like one."
Back to that display thing, Yuugi thought, tapping his foot against the floor in his anger. "You volunteered. Don't place the burden of your regret on me. I'm just the unfortunate soul who was your partner."
Yuugi wanted to pull his hair out, but settled for punching both fists towards the floor to release some of his tension. Just what was going on inside that gorgeous head of Atemu's? A man didn't accept a kiss like that and then go acting as if he'd been forced to receive it. Not when he'd had every opportunity to halt it whenever he'd wanted. Not when he'd done everything to convince Yuugi to continue kissing him.
"What's going on with you?" Yuugi eventually asked. "You act like I assaulted you."
"With a kiss," Yuugi said flatly. Atemu was silent. "A kiss is not a weapon."
"It can be."
Yuugi straightened his back, suddenly very alert and extremely in tune with the man in front of him.
Those three words, spoken with such hate, said it all.
- - -
If he wasn't careful his scowl was going to become a permanent mark on his face. Atemu huffed to release the strain on his cheeks, folding his arms across his chest and closing his eyes in a vain effort to remove himself from this frustrating situation.
Why wouldn't Yuugi just leave him alone? Was it really so difficult for the man not to be the center of attention? He may be a good kisser, but that didn't earn him points in Atemu's book. Kissing was nothing more than a skill to be learned. One didn't go demanding special treatment simply because they had mastered it.
He could feel the skin on his back stretching and, after a moment's consideration, realized that he'd hunched his shoulders. Atemu's muscles were beginning to ache with the inner disappointment he could not release. Looking over his shoulder, only to be met with a calculating stare, did not help his disposition. Now that he knew Yuugi was watching him he could feel it; like fingers poking into muscles that were already sore, again and again in some childish need to be recognized.
"Stop it," he snapped. This time Yuugi did not question him, and Atemu felt a small sense of relief that the guiltless charade was finally being dropped. He didn't have the patience to deal with a thick head right now. He didn't have the patience to deal with anything anymore. Atemu kicked the door with the sole of his foot, needing some way to vent his growing agitation.
When he felt Yuugi move behind him Atemu whipped his head around to warn against coming closer. He was surprised to find that Yuugi was, in fact, moving away from him, towards one of the chairs still propped against the wall. He watched, unconvinced of Yuugi's intention to keep his distance. Not until Yuugi had fully settled himself in the chair, with one knee resting on the other, did Atemu relax his stance and move his eyes towards the window. Unfortunately, Yuugi's willingness to back off and give Atemu some space had an undesired consequence.
I let it happen again, Atemu thought, his mind once again drifting. Again! His jaw clenched. How many times was he going to allow himself to be used like this? It was bad enough that everyone saw him as a pretty boy with little else to offer, but to go and promote that image himself was inexcusable! It didn't matter the venue, it didn't matter that he'd done so to help out a friend. He'd gone and exhibited himself in the most personal of matters, and for what? A guy he'd found momentarily attractive? A man who now wanted more from him and expected him to give it because he'd kissed him well?
Damn you Atem, Atemu cursed to himself. Why do you keep doing this?!
- - -
Yuugi sustained his silent observation, rolling his lips inward while he took in the scene before him. Atemu was acting like a caged animal, ready to lash out but unsure of how to do so, sensing that even with such an act he would not be freed from his prison. But what it was Atemu was trying to flee from he wasn't sure. From the little bits and pieces he'd been able to gather, it had something to do with public displays. Of affection, or intimacy, or just being the center of attention in general, it was impossible for Yuugi to tell. He just didn't know what had upset Atemu so much.
The kiss certainly bothered the man. Not so much the act, Yuugi considered, thinking back on the intricacies of the kiss itself; nor even the moment after. When had the trouble started… oh, yes. It was when Atemu had realized that he'd been kissing in front of Ryou's class. But that wasn't the whole of it. Atemu had instructed Yuugi to kiss him so they could get it over with as quickly as possible, and Yuugi knew Atemu had been cognizant of their audience at the time.
It was something about their kiss, then, that troubled Atemu. Yuugi's lips pulled into a semblance of a smirk. It seemed fitting, somehow, that the only time Atemu had a problem with being kissed by him was when it was a good kiss. Having known Atemu only a couple of hours, it seemed wholly within the man's character to be that contradictory. Yuugi liked this unpredictability, and he mulled over the thought for a while before coming back to the present. It certainly would be interesting to have Atemu around.
Glancing at Atemu and seeing that the man still had his attention directed towards the window, Yuugi decided to try and see if he could get the other man to open up to him.
"I hadn't planned on coming today," Yuugi began quietly, stretching his arms along the backs of the chairs on either side of him. "I thought I already knew how to kiss. I certainly wasn't looking for instruction."
Atemu, as expected, ignored him.
"Jou – my friend – thinks I have an issue with kissing people," Yuugi continued, watching Atemu from the corner of his eye for any reaction. "He hasn't said so in so many words, but he's rather transparent when he feels strongly about something. Like, I know he likes that girl he was partnered with today…" Yuugi shook his head good-naturedly. "Anyway, I think kissing is overrated."
He still wasn't getting a response. Yuugi was going to have to delve deeper.
"The act of kissing, I mean," Yuugi clarified. He brought his hands into his lap and settled himself further into his chair, preparing for the blunt honesty he was about to deliver. "Technique doesn't mean shit. It doesn't tell you a damn thing about the other person." He paused. Did Atemu's eyes just focus?
"What's the point of kissing someone if you aren't trying to get to know them?" Yuugi continued, encouraged by the possible attention he was receiving. "It's what I think, anyway," he said with a shrug. "I'm not the overly patient type. I don't want to waste my time with someone only to find out they're a total ass. You can tell that pretty easily by how they kiss you."
"You kiss," Atemu commented, his eyes still averted from Yuugi.
Yuugi smiled. It was a small victory, but he'd take it at this point. "Yeah, I do," he acknowledged with a slight bow of his head. "Can't help it, though. I…" He hesitated, not accustomed to speaking allowed his inner self-doubts. "I want people to like me." He frowned, finally admitting, "I need people to like me."
Atemu closed his eyes slowly. He understood that feeling all too well.
"I figure," Yuugi continued, missing Atemu's reaction as he lost himself in his introspection, "that if I can get them to like me first, and then I don't like them, then it's okay. It's better that way, you know?"
"You're protecting yourself."
"I guess. Or I'm just a selfish, pushy prick," Yuugi joked weakly, trying and failing to lighten the mood. He wasn't entirely comfortable revealing all of this to Atemu, but the man was talking to him again, and Yuugi found it to be a remarkably soothing feeling. One he didn't want to lose.
"Your fear comes through in your kiss," Atemu said, his voice limp with distraction. "It's why you push."
"Huh?" Yuugi asked, head lifting in confusion. "I don't follow."
Atemu sighed. It was a tired sound. "You don't wish to be judged poorly, so you try to influence the opinion others have of you. But in doing so, you're only revealing your fear of being rejected."
"Who likes being rejected?" Yuugi countered, unnerved by Atemu's astute observation and defensive because of it.
Atemu didn't answer, merely opened his eyes and continued looking out the window.
Oh no you don't, Yuugi thought. He wasn't about to let Atemu retreat now. "So what about you?" he asked, raising his voice enough to signal that he expected an answer. "You don't kiss people period. I might come on strong, but you don't come on at all. What about that?"
Yuugi kicked his legs out in front of him and crossed his ankles. Single word answers were only amusing when he wasn't asking questions that required lengthy responses. Never had Yuugi been forced to work so hard for a reply. He was running out of ideas here and with each passing minute was the possibility that Ryou was going to return, the door was going to be unlocked, and Atemu was going to walk out of his life without so much as a backwards glance. And though he didn't want to admit it, Yuugi really didn't want that to happen. At least, not yet. Not until he had some answers.
"You know," Yuugi said, bringing a hand under his chin, "I like you. That seemed to surprise your friend."
Atemu moved his eyes to look over his shoulder, one eyebrow raised in query. What had that damnable Ryou done now on his behalf?
"When he called for the break and after you left he apologized to me for your behavior."
Atemu grimaced, snorting his lack of appreciation for the action. "Suppose you deserved one if he felt the need to deliver it," he said through gritted teeth.
Yuugi shook his head, hearing clearly Atemu's resentment. "No, I didn't, and I told him so." He refrained from smiling too brightly when Atemu actually turned his whole head to look at him in guarded surprise, not wanting to add insult to injury. "It wasn't his place anyway." Pausing a moment, Yuugi then asked, "Do people often apologize for you?" It was a question that had been weighing on his mind ever since his conversation with Ryou and it made his stomach sour.
Atemu stared for a moment before blinking and turning back to the door, taking one more look out the window before rotating around and leaning his back against the door, loosely repositioning his arms over his chest. "More often than I think they should," he admitted, head bent in thought. He knew he wasn't perfect; Atemu certainly didn't think he was such an embarrassment as to warrant apologetic measures from the people in his life.
"You must be horrible."
Atemu fought the laughter at the dry comment; delivered with so much mirth it was contagious. "That I must."
Yuugi straightened his shoulders with pride. Though still handsome while brooding, Atemu positively shined when smiling. Maybe now was the time for him to be bold. Or bolder, depending on how you looked at things.
Rising from his chair, Yuugi made his way over to Atemu, standing toe to toe with him with his hands clasped behind his back. He waited to be acknowledged, which he was, with a smile so soft and smooth and easy that it made Yuugi grin in appreciation, before rocking on his feet and nodding his head encouragingly.
"Kiss me," Yuugi whispered mischievously.
Atemu sighed with a great deal of patience. "We've been through this."
"And I want you to kiss me," Yuugi said, his grin turning into a smirk. "I told you what a kiss is to me, now I want to know what it is to you. There's no one here, and I already like you, so you don't have anything to worry about."
Atemu considered the proposition. "You only think you like me," he said, conceding that there were no witnesses and therefore no argument against the kiss on that merit.
"I'm quick on deciding what I like," Yuugi explained.
"That can get you in trouble," Atemu commented, tightening the cross of his arms over his chest. It didn't appear Yuugi was going to back down from this pursuit and the lack of personal space was beginning to bother him because he was acutely noticing it.
"I want to know who you are," Yuugi pressed, leaning closer in when he noticed Atemu try to put distance between them. "And since you obviously aren't going to tell me with words, I want you to kiss me and tell me that way."
"I'm a total ass," Atemu tried, repeating Yuugi's earlier words. Was it getting hot in here, or was Yuugi just too damn close for comfort?
Yuugi chuckled. "Doubt that. Total asses don't announce the fact."
Atemu wanted to retort, but when Yuugi's chest brushed up against his folded arms it brought them close enough that he could feel the other's breath upon his mouth. Memories of their impassioned kiss made his lips part in longing to feel those caresses again, and his body was doing its best to shut down his brain so it could indulge in being touched by another human being. It wasn't something Atemu's body got to partake in very often and it was desperate for the experience. His skin was even tingling.
Tilting his head back to offer his lips for kissing, Yuugi let himself smile as his eyes slipped into the half-closed state of arousal. He may not be a patient man, but he was going to wait for Atemu to kiss him. He just knew that the reward would be worth any irritation he would feel in the meantime.
"Kiss me," he prodded with a gentle nod of his head. "I won't bite."
Atemu whined in the back of his throat and Yuugi bathed in the sound. Atemu could make delicious little noises that should have been weak and submissive sound anything but.
Against his will Atemu found himself leaning in towards Yuugi, every instinct telling him to pull back while every nerve urged him forward. What possible harm could one more heartache bring, he wondered, one more disappointment, one more person finding fault with him and walking away to leave him behind? What was one more use of him as a public display…
Before he'd closed his eyes completely Atemu caught sight of one of the chairs against the wall, it's bland, plastic shape a stark reminder of where he was. The classroom may be empty, the door may be locked, but he was still out in public, and he simply could not participate in the act Yuugi was asking of him. Even a chaste kiss was too much to endure, especially when Atemu knew that, were he to press his lips against Yuugi's, the kiss would not remain innocent for the other man was so welcoming and felt so good that he knew he would lose himself in him. And it would hurt.
He could not do it.
At the last minute he changed his angle, placing a light kiss on Yuugi's cheek that lingered a moment longer than Atemu was comfortable with, but felt was necessary. Yuugi deserved that much affection, at least, for the work he'd put into knowing him these past few hours.
"Sorry," Atemu murmured against Yuugi's skin before pulling back to look him in the eye and face the disappointment he was likely to find there.
Yuugi remained silent, watching Atemu with a blank expression. He then smiled, warmly, his eyes radiant with discovery. "I think your friends apologize enough for you that you don't need to start," he said, taking a step back to give Atemu the space he'd been asking for. "I told you before it wasn't needed."
Atemu leaned his head to the side, strangely interested in Yuugi's amused reaction. "You look like you found something important," he said at length, taking note of Yuugi's sparkling eyes and the energy that seemed to encompass his limbs.
Yuugi grinned, showing his teeth. Atemu was right about that. "You aren't an ass," he declared proudly.
After a short while of being the recipient of that beaming smile he couldn't help himself. Atemu smiled too.
- - -
Having finally summoned his courage, and after several false starts of marching down the hallway towards his classroom only to have his survival instinct kick in and make him turn around and scurry away, Ryou swallowed and looked through the window in the door and saw an amazing sight.
Atemu and Yuugi were sitting on the edge of the stage, laughing and talking animatedly. Well, as animated as Atemu ever got, and Yuugi was doing most of the talking, but it was a wonderful sight nonetheless.
Smiling to himself, Ryou, in a momentary lapse of judgment, quickly inserted his key into the lock and opened the door, announcing his presence with an enthusiastic, "Hi guys!"
He was quickly reminded of his place when Atemu noticed him and smirked, using that one, particular smirk that promised Ryou lots of harm for a wrong he had brought to his friend. What made it worse was that Yuugi was revealing his own version of the look, only his supported anticipated glee with the upcoming proceedings.
Ryou's mouth went dry.
Well, at least he hadn't lived his short life in vain. Atemu did look happy…
- - -
A/N: Thank you to everyone who followed this story! There is a sequel to it, though I have yet to work out all of its kinks. If you enjoyed this story be on the lookout for it.
The result of my poll is an overwhelming favoritism for option one, with 69% of the vote, the plot of Yuugi falling at Atemu's feet and declaring his devotion to his king. I suppose I'm not too surprised by this, seeing as it did have the best written summary of the three options. But, you guys have spoken, so I shall write it. It'll take awhile, but it'll come out!
Love to you all.