Disclaimer: I do not own the characters nor the anime from which they come from. I also do not own the game, Monster Hunter (a wildly addicitive and awesome game). I do not write this for monetary gains.

Author Notes: I noticed that in a lot of fiction involving this pairing, Yuushi tended to be the stud and Gakuto the slut or the brat. I played along with Yuushi's recurrent label, but as I like Gakuto (a lot), I didn't want to portray him in too negative a light. I mean, before a match with Kaidoh and Inui, Gakuto actually told Hiyoshi to not talk badly about teammates behind their backs. So if Gakuto has been a brat to anyone, he is definitely honest about it. I wrote this piece some time ago and didn't get round to uploading it until now. I hope you like it! Reviews are welcome!

Warning: A very long one-shot.



Something Different

Oshitari Yuushi was someone who always got what he wanted, easily, especially if it was a willing lover to occupy him in supply closets or behind the school building during the lapses in between the hectic school period. He had the looks, he had the voice and the accent that could cajole, command, and melt all at the same time. He was one of those people other guys simply wanted to sock, yet secretly admire for all his successes in everything they failed at—sports, school, love-life. He was one of those guys who never had to dread Valentine's Day, never had to wonder if he would receive any gifts, or whether he would have any luck this time round and so on and so forth. Why, Oshitari Yuushi had every privilege to turn down chocolates simply because he deemed that his hands were already full of them. The girls would apologise, feeling horrible for troubling him, even though he obviously only had a school book in one hand and two teeny boxes of exquisitely gift-wrapped chocolates in the other. With a smile that sent all these girls into a swoon, he would walk off, feeling very much the stud that he was.

Oshitari Yuushi was a connoisseur of all things beautiful and Mukahi Gakuto was, in his opinion, beautiful. The first time the red-head had stepped into the classroom, a sleepy-looking boy with a messy crown of orange hair in tow, Yuushi thought he was the prettiest, liveliest thing Yuushi had ever beheld. There was a bounce in his steps as he walked and a certain spark in his blue azure eyes that reminded Yuushi, much to the romantic bemusement of the prodigy, of sapphires.

They turned out to be in the same tennis club and by a fortunate turn of events ended up being doubles partners after some time. There, Yuushi found out that the red-head was also crass, rough-mannered, impatient, frank and very, very chatty. That ought not to be something attractive, but Yuushi had never tried to seduce anyone like that before. All of the girls and the boys he'd made advances to were more than capable of flaring up with blushes and coy downward tilts of their heads the moment he brought his face close to theirs to utter something as mundane as asking for the time.

The first time he spoke to Mukahi Gakuto, however, charms and sexiness in place, Gakuto had frowned and said, drawing himself away, "Don't talk like that! It's creepy."

There was not a hint of a blush or downcast eyes. Those eyes in fact were looking directly at him, never for a moment wavering even as Yuushi, one who was always quick to get himself together should anything shock him, chuckled.

Yuushi opened his mouth to say something else, to bring his charms up a notch (the first time he ever had to do so), but Gakuto suddenly turned the conversation to the Math homework that they had and asked whether Yuushi got everything the teacher was saying in class. Yuushi wanted to say, why yes, of course he did and would the lovely boy want a private tutor. He never had a chance to because Gakuto, not missing a single beat in his monologue, started grumbling about how half the things were crap anyway and that he would have to go home and go over the textbook one more time. Then Jiroh came up and Gakuto, with a casual wave of his hand, moved to go.

Yuushi stared after them. That was an outrage! He had never failed at holding on to the attention of those he had set his eyes on. Most of the time, he had to relinquish them of his coveted attention. Yet, Gakuto was able to brush it all off so easily! When he had increased his level of charm too!

The anger subsided quickly though and his lips stretched out into the tiniest of grins, imperceptible to everyone else but those who actually took detailed measurements of his lips before and after. He recognized a challenge in Gakuto then. The others before had come so easily that it was getting a little too boring for the prodigy. He made a promise to himself that he would win Gakuto's attention and affection. Perhaps when he'd won those, he'd play a little with the hyper little ball of acrobatic energy before moving on to seek better prey.

Gakuto, he drawled inwardly. You are in trouble…

&&

Yuushi was not unschooled with regards to the adage, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach". So as it was, he set to work over the weekend to test out this theory for himself, pouring over cupcake recipes and decorations.

The result—decorated cupcakes—looked tantalizing. Yuushi had declared to the group of friends he hung out with in the club, after Monday practice, that he was trying his hand at baking and decorating cupcakes, and asked whether they wanted to try any. He made sure to try and bring himself down, saying that it was his first time and he hoped it didn't taste bad. (He enjoyed cooking and that wasn't his first time making cupcakes. So, he lied.)

"Bad or not, Yuushi," Gakuto said, already dipping his hand into the Tupperware container to get first dips at the pretty cupcakes. "They are free!"

After that, he proceeded to quaff the cupcake without even taking time to look and admire the decorations. Everyone else followed suit, with Atobe being the only one taking dainty nibbles at the dessert. Gakuto even unashamedly ate Jiroh's share, since the said boy was sleeping anyway. Barbarians! thought Yuushi, taking in all the open-mouthed chewing and the coloured sugar toppings at the corners of those happily chewing mouths. Barbarians the lot of them!

"Say, Yuushi," he heard Gakuto say. Heartened, he turned to the petite boy, smiles all in place. "Next time you bake anything, bring them okay?"

Yuushi could not decide whether he should be happy that Gakuto liked his baking or disappointed because Gakuto obviously only liked his baking.

&&

Yuushi was glad; really he was, to have Gakuto agree to follow him to the bookstore. However, he would be even happier if Gakuto would please take the earpieces out of his pretty ears and turn his attention away from his Monster Hunter game on PSP for a minute. Yuushi had tried to make conversation, but Gakuto was not to be disturbed when he was playing that game. Gakuto said he had to get something called a Tiger-ex, whatever that animal was, Sharp Claw for some armour of sorts. For the past 15 minutes, Yuushi's cultured ears had been assaulted by profanities of the basest kinds having to do with the male and female nether regions. This Tiger-ex beast must be quite an opponent.

Yuushi had prepared himself prior to his…trip. He had planned accidental brushes of hands as they walked, charming jokes he would tell and perhaps a few suggestions here and there of something a little more than just trips to the shop as friends. Why, Yuushi had even planned the route they would take—the longer route, the one with lots of trees and away from the prying eyes of society.

Yet, Gakuto only wanted to kill a monster and get its claws. Yuushi was left to walk a little ahead; running in circles in his own thoughts of how exactly was he going to get Gakuto to be his. Yuushi had tried to get Gakuto away from that game, but Gakuto had only said, "Damn it, Yuushi! I got run over!" As if that was my problem, the prodigy had thought rather sourly.

"Yessah!"

At the jubilant cry, Yuushi turned to see Gakuto pump his fist into the air, eyes all sparkling and his mouth stretched out into the happiest, widest grin he had ever seen on the red-head's face. It was a lovely thing to see: Gakuto so utterly, unabashedly happy over so small an achievement. It strangely elicited an urge in Yuushi to go over and bask in the red-head's simple joy.

Gakuto started chattering then, about how he could make the last piece of the armour now that he had all the parts, and how his dream armour was finally going to be completed. Yuushi was glad to listen, namely because Gakuto had turned his PSP off by then and put it away to actually acknowledge Yuushi's existence.

"Say, Yuushi," Gakuto said, looking up at the prodigy thoughtfully, appearing cute in the process. "Why are we taking the long route to the bookstore? Isn't it faster to cut through the main neighbourhood?"

Yuushi hoped his startled jolt would go unnoticed.

&&

Gakuto peered around Yuushi's back to look at the book Yuushi was holding in his hand. Yuushi thought what a wonderful place the bookstore was to get naughty. He particularly liked this bookstore because it was quiet. He liked to go there after school on weekdays because it would be practically empty and he had all the time in the world to browse. Sometimes, he would bring his current conquest there, on the pretext of looking at books, but mainly to get naughty behind the shelves in the farthest corner of the store. He was a regular customer there and if the owner knew of his hanky-panky, he certainly did not let it show.

He wanted to get into some hanky-panky with Gakuto, but his previous attempts at making his lustful affections known had fallen short most miserably. He could not decide whether Gakuto was simply uninterested or utterly dense. He preferred to think the latter since failure was not something Yuushi wanted to admit to anybody, not even himself.

The least he could do right then would be to get a good book and drown in it to allow himself time to recover and come up with another plan to command-and-conquer. It riled at him, how he had his stakes on all the continents he had eyed, but this fiery island proved itself impregnable to his advances. He couldn't even get within sights of the shores because Gakuto was always able to destroy his forces before they even left the naval and air bases.

"Aren't these books for girls?"

Yuushi turned to the red-head, who still peered down at the cover that had a very suggestive picture of a woman and a man, lying naked under a silky blanket.

He chuckled and said, "How narrow-minded you are."

Gakuto clasped his hands behind his head, mussing up his perfect bob. "But it's usually girls who read books like that. And isn't it like, really explicit and all?"

"Explicit?" Yuushi asked, looking at his companion with a bemused air. "Why whatever do you mean?"

He was at first answered with a scowl from the other teen before the red-head said, "Yeah. The sex scenes and all. I heard it is really cheesy too."

"I like the sex scenes," Yuushi replied with a hint of both indignance and suggestion. "And I do not find it cheesy."

Gakuto looked up at Yuushi, with a slight pout of disbelieve that he found strangely adorable; adorable enough to make him want to pinch the other's cheek. However, he also found that he had an urge far stronger than wanting to pinch the shorter teen.

With a genuine yearning to know, he voiced out that very urge: "What kinds of books do you like to read, Gakuto?"

"I don't usually read," Gakuto replied. However, he held up some books for Yuushi to see. Yuushi could not stop the grimace from crossing his face. "But I do like these."

Yuushi did not see the pull of…science fiction novels. The covers had pictures of very ugly creatures and people in the strangest outfits he had ever seen. He'd much prefer something prettier, like a woman in a long gown with her chest nearly exposed as a man nuzzled her gently at the base of her neck.

They paid for the books they bought and made their ways back home, i.e. the dorms they were staying in at Hyotei.

Once out of the bookstore, Yuushi was surprised when Gakuto took a book out of his paper bag and pushed it into Yuushi's hands.

"Try reading that," Gakuto suggested, turning to look at a mobile ice-cream stall by the roadside. "That series has romance in it as well. You might like it. Something different."

Yuushi blinked down at the book, and then at the back of Gakuto's head. He never noticed how silky Gakuto's hair was, as if he'd taken very good care of it. The pageboy bob was impeccable. Turning his attention away from the red-head's pretty hair, he looked down at the book again, aware that his face felt strangely hot. Was he, Oshitari Yuushi, the sexy stud of Hyotei, actually touched by this simple gesture? Was he, Oshitari Yuushi, Hyotei's resident prodigy and genius, actually paying attention to small details about Gakuto and had he really been interested in the things Gakuto liked?

"I want ice-cream," Gakuto's demand broke through his garble of thoughts. He turned in time to see the red-head practically bounce, as if he weighed nothing, towards the stall. With a little sigh, he followed.

Gakuto ordered for himself Raspberry Ripple and made Yuushi order too. Yuushi, after much badgering from his companion, ordered plain old chocolate on a cone. Gakuto paid for both their ice-creams before Yuushi could fish out his wallet. He bounced away before Yuushi could protest. Yuushi could not help but feel stupid because he always believed the man was supposed to be paying.

Gakuto kicked him in the shin when he decided to be stubborn and insist on paying the red-head back.

"Don't be a moron!" he scolded, licking at his ice-cream. "It's nothing. You can treat me next time."

There was ice-cream at the corner of Gakuto's mouth, the mouth which always smiled and grinned, pout and say crass things when the person it belonged to was angered. Yuushi had the urge to wipe it away.

He said, "There is ice-cream on your face. Can't you at least eat properly?"

"Wha?" Gakuto uttered. He lifted a shoulder to wipe it with his uniform. Yuushi was properly horrified and quickly extracted his handkerchief from his pocket to wipe it away.

"You are so…"

"Disgusting," Gakuto finished for him with a grin and gulped down the rest of his ice-cream in record time.

Yuushi stared at his companion. It was nice to be doing something as normal as going to the bookstore and later eating ice-cream from a cheap ice-cream stall while they headed back. Yuushi could not remember a time when he had done something so pleasantly mundane with anyone. Usually he was either by himself, reading, practicing to play yet another difficult violin solo, working on school assignments; or if he was not alone, he was feeling up some giggly girl's skirt or licking at some pretty boy's neck on a date.

This was no date surely. Dates were about sensual physical contact, at least Yuushi's idea of a date was. Love, he'd thought was all about flashes of sensuality, sexual desire, complex love triangles, tragedy and heated gazes across inconveniently crowded rooms. For Oshitari Yuushi, the line between love and lust was effectively blurred. This time with Gakuto did not fit into any of those categories, making him wonder about what it all meant.

What, he wondered, was Gakuto's idea of a date? He wanted badly to know, and he didn't know why.

"Hey, Gakuto," he drawled.

"Mm?"

"Why don't you try reading a romance?" he asked once he knew he had the red-head's attention. Those blue eyes on him were rather distracting.

"Why would I want to do that?" the red-head demanded, frowning up at his taller companion.

Yuushi shrugged. "Something different."

&&

That was how Yuushi had Gakuto sitting on his couch in his specially furnished dorm room (his prodigal status and his parents' influence allowed him to enjoy some special privileges); listening to him read some passages from a romance that he was writing himself.

He looked up from the paper occasionally, wondering if Gakuto was falling asleep or anything like that. On top of all that, wondering if Gakuto was only pretending to like what he was listening to. It was odd. Yuushi was always sure about everything and with everyone. With Gakuto, he was never sure of anything. He had been charming, he had been sexy but nothing got to Gakuto. Yuushi wondered if he had to be cruel and aggressive before he could get the message across. But, something told him he didn't want to resort to such things and he didn't want to because he was afraid of making Gakuto go away.

Yuushi admitted that in the time he'd tried to flirt with Gakuto, they'd became friends instead. Before the trip to the bookstore, they had hung out after practice, eaten lunch together and studied in each other's room. Yuushi had persisted with his advances, which he thought was subtly sexy and irresistible, but Gakuto had been impregnable.

Yuushi had never had a best friend before…and despite it all, Gakuto might as well be his best friend.

He'd never told anyone that he wanted to try a hand at writing, never revealed that writing was his passion, and certainly had never let anyone read his manuscript. He was reading the manuscript to Gakuto then. He didn't know exactly why.

Gakuto sat, or rather was sprawled comfortably, on his couch, not fidgeting, not yawning and definitely not asleep. From what he got to learn about Gakuto, Yuushi knew that Gakuto was not someone who would act what he did not feel. One misgiving, or in this case, positive thing about Gakuto was that he could be painfully frank. (Like the other day he told this girl who had her skirt hiked up too high that her panties were showing. When she got angry, he just replaced the earpiece into his ear, turned back to his PSP and said that he sure as hell didn't want to see it but couldn't well help it if it was thrust so frequently into his face. It took Yuushi some time to realize that Gakuto really had not meant any sort of nastiness and had not meant to embarrass her in front of all the boys in the class. It was a fact and Gakuto put it across more effectively than the dark gazes the other girls were sending her way.)

"I see that you like what you're hearing, Gakuto," Yuushi could not resist drawling, lowering the manuscript he was holding. "I have never seen anyone more rapt in their attention to a story being told."

Gakuto blushed then and Yuushi thought he'd never seen anything prettier. Why, the thought that Gakuto could blush did not even cross Yuushi's mind until then.

A cushion came flying towards him and Yuushi easily caught it, laughing as he did so.

"Really Gakuto," he went on, standing up from where he sat and crossing over to Gakuto who by then was sitting up straight on the couch. "You should try reading a romance novel. You just might like it."

Gakuto stood and went towards his bag.

"Nah. I'll pass."

The red-head was surprised when he found Yuushi's face peculiarly close to his ear.

"So you are saving your bookshelf space for the ones written by me?" Yuushi asked him huskily.

Gakuto lurched forward and turned, his face tellingly flushed.

"Don't be an idiot, Yuushi! And don't talk so close to my ear! I'm ticklish!"

Yuushi saw him out. It was all he could do after Gakuto had vehemently turned down his offer to walk him back. Yuushi watched Gakuto's retreating back, a tennis bag slung casually over a shoulder. Yuushi was not one to linger, especially not on someone's back. It was always his back that he made sure someone he had been with saw. Gakuto was really petite and when he saw that the red-head was holding one of the novels he had bought earlier, he had to smile.

Once Gakuto disappeared around the corner, Yuushi slipped back into his dorm and locked the door before going to his bed to plop unceremoniously face down onto it. He had this sudden feeling that he'd fallen. Where or how far, he didn't know. It was maddening.

&&

He could not explain away the fear that he felt when he looked over his shoulder to find Gakuto standing behind him. When he turned away from the girl whom he had pressed into the wall behind the school building, he found that he could not smile his usual smile or come up with anything witty to say. He did feel a sort of cruel relish at finding Gakuto there, but it was quickly relinquished when he saw the expression on Gakuto's face.

It was not one of horror or disgust. Gakuto was simply looking at him with that mildly contemplative frown over blue eyes that Yuushi had time and time again found so utterly beautiful.

Perhaps, Yuushi was hoping to see hurt, something to indicate that Gakuto at least liked him. Perhaps, because with Gakuto, Yuushi could not be sure of anything. He did not even bother being the gentleman and hide the girl while she fumbled with the buttons of her school shirt and attempted desperately to right her skirt. She had flirted with him and he had responded. Most times he was glad to oblige even if it was only to help a girl be able to tell her friends that she'd scored the one and only Oshitari Yuushi the night before. That day he felt like he was doing it because he had to. Kissing her, he found that she was all wrong. Sure she was bosomy and sure she was an eager kisser, but they did not have much to talk about and her hair was too curly. It bothered him how her hair was too curly…and too purple. She had too much mascara and she had fake eyelashes on. He tried to find something attractive about her, tried to find the usual sense of excitement and accomplishment when his hand was on her thigh, but couldn't. All he could think about, much to his consternation was how she was not like Gakuto.

"Gakuto," he said and it came out almost like a sigh.

Gakuto looked at him levelly and replied, "Hey, you do know that practice started early today right? Atobe sent me to look for you. Your cell's off, so I thought I'd find you here."

"Oh." How stupid he felt and how irresponsible! Like he was some lowly delinquent! How could he forget that today's practice started early?

Yuushi left the girl there, even as her eyes bore into his back almost pleadingly, and followed Gakuto who had turned and was starting to walk away.

In the clubhouse, Gakuto passed Yuushi the book he had borrowed. Apparently, he had finished it in only one night but of course he was not going to divulge the fact to the prodigy, even if the fact was laid out for Yuushi to see.

"Say, Yuushi," Gakuto said as he watched the other get into his tennis attire. "If you like all these cheesy romance stories so much, how come you cannot stick to a single person?"

Yuushi was taken aback by the question. He thought he heard disappointment in his friend's voice, but he brushed it away telling himself that he must have imagined it. Calmed down, he wanted to tell Gakuto that it was because he wanted to have a range of experiences and that he figured that with his looks, he could get anyone he wanted, and he was all out to prove it.

Yet, there Gakuto sat, a reminder to Yuushi that he could not get everyone he wanted.

"You think you are such a romantic but you're just sleeping around. And if you ask me, I don't think you even like it now. You're a sad fuck, Yuushi," he heard Gakuto say, followed by the creaking of the bench as the lithe red-head got up. "You played all those people and just leave. And they're sad fucks themselves because they allowed themselves to be played by you."

Yuushi was angry at this and more than a little hurt. Of all people to say that to him! Gakuto? The Gakuto whom he probably cared more for than all those people he'd been with put together? If he had been anything but hurt, he might have chuckled at the idea of how much all this was like the movie Casanova: the player who slept around had fallen for the one woman he could not have.

Whipping around he could not help but snarl in the least sexy way, "And you think you are so much better? You pick fights, you taunt people and you annoy people when you feel like it."

"Yeah, I know," Gakuto said, shrugging nonchalantly. "But at least I meant everything I said to them."

Then Yuushi found himself alone in the clubhouse.

&&

Gakuto was on his PSP again, playing a gathering quest in Monster Hunter. He only glanced up disinterestedly when a girl sidled up into the chair next to Yuushi at the cafeteria. The rest of the Hyotei team only looked; chuckled (Atobe and Taki), rolled their eyes (Shishido), smiled (Oohtori), or were simply unmoved (Kabaji, Hiyoshi and Jiroh). It was normal for girls and guys alike to approach Oshitari Yuushi like this. Bold ones, who came, flaunted and flirted; shy ones who came with supportive friends to hand out letters or chocolates. Yuushi always received them charmingly.

The girl was no different. Gakuto scoffed. It was the girl with the peek-a-boo panties again. What was different though was Yuushi's response.

He smiled at her charmingly. He had a reputation to protect after all.

"I am not available at the moment," he said. "Plenty of things to do and perhaps, it is time I stick to one person. I am a romantic at heart after all. Aren't we right, Gakuto?"

Gakuto looked up from his quest and stared, before breaking into a grin.

"Whatever, Yuushi."

That left the rest of the team and the girl with their jaws hanging loose.

&&

Gakuto opined that Yuushi needed to flesh out the relationship of his two main characters a bit more. He thought it was too abrupt the way they met and then suddenly they were getting it on.

"Isn't that the point?" Yuushi asked, pencil poised over the paper. "It is all about lust at first. It started with a one night stand before later meetings made them realise that they'd fallen in love."

"Oh," Gakuto uttered, looking thoughtful. "And people actually read these things?"

Yuushi nodded. "Escapism."

"Like you, Yuushi," Gakuto pointed out.

Yuushi thought about it and felt Gakuto actually got him point on.

Remembering something, he rummaged in his tennis bag and came up with a volume. He had to admit that the cover turned him off at first, but as he delved into the story, he actually enjoyed it. The dogfight between the space vehicles were something new to him, but it was quite exciting. Of course, Yuushi being Yuushi, his favourite part of the whole book was the very touching separation between the alien princess and the human who saved her. He wanted to get the second book to see if their relationship progressed. This he handed to Gakuto, saying, "Here. The book you lent me the other time. I apologise for taking so long."

Gakuto laughed.

"Why do you talk like that, Yuushi?" he asked, taking the book. "Who says 'I apologise'?"

Yuushi could not help feeling a little hurt that Gakuto, Gakuto of all people, found he talked funny.

"Do you want me to change the way I talk, Gakuto?" he inquired almost to himself.

Gakuto guzzled down the last of his Coke before saying, "Nope. I like the way you talk even if you talk funny. I wouldn't want Yuushi to change. Yuushi is Yuushi."

Yuushi stared at his red-headed friend for a long while. Then he smiled. Perhaps Gakuto did not want him to change, but he felt that he needed to change some things about himself.

"Say Gakuto," he said after a few moments of scribbling on his manuscript. "Are you free this weekend…say, Sunday?"

"I play Monster Hunter on Sundays," Gakuto replied.

Yuushi had to roll his eyes at that. Gakuto was Gakuto. "No, by free I mean are you going anywhere on Sunday?"

Gakuto shook his head. "Like I said, I usually play Monster Hunter on Sundays."

"Want to go to the theme park?"

Gakuto sat up straighter at that. Personally, Gakuto loved theme parks. He loved the roller coaster, the haunted house and the carousel best, even if the last was for kids. But Yuushi? Yuushi didn't like places like that.

"You don't like theme parks, Yuushi!"

Yuushi chuckled. "Something different." He was beginning to become fond of that phrase.

"I want to go!" cried Gakuto excitedly, bouncing up and down on Yuushi's couch, on which he was then crouching frog-style.

"Sunday then."

After Gakuto left, with yet another one of his romance novels (making Yuushi smile secretly to himself), Yuushi circled Sunday on his calendar in bold, red marker. He wrote, "Gakuto. Theme park" on the date and went to his wardrobe to decide on what to wear. What did people wear to theme parks anyway? he wondered. Surely gaudy suits with polka dots and face paint were not a criteria?

&&

Sunday came and Yuushi went through at least ten outfit changes before he was able to get himself out of the door. He could not remember a time when he was so concerned about what he wore to meet someone. Usually, he would put on whatever and the person would have been impressed anyway. He was someone who could pull a suit out of his wardrobe and put it on with little thought and still looked impeccably put together.

Yuushi wore a simple V-necked pullover shirt over a collared one with jeans when he was out of his dorm. He did not want to risk another outfit change. He'd already had quite a pile of rejected clothing on his bed…and Yuushi was a normally neat person.

He swore under his breath when he saw Gakuto already waiting for him at the front gate. He worried more when he saw that Gakuto was looking especially stylish in a tight black t-shirt and slim jeans that fell nicely from his hip. The red-head had a few bangles on one wrist and if his tight t-shirt had not shown evidence of his chest, or lack of, anyone could have mistaken him for a girl. Gakuto was that pretty.

"You're late, Yuushi," Gakuto complained, hopping from one foot to the other when he spotted Yuushi.

Yuushi felt like someone who was on his way to the library beside Gakuto. Yuushi was always confident about the way he looked, but with Gakuto, it was always different.

"Sorry," Yuushi said. "I couldn't decide on what to wear."

Gakuto looked Yuushi up and down, appraising his outfit.

"You look good out of your school uniform, Yuushi."

Yuushi swore he blushed. Since when did Oshitari Yuushi blush anyway?

He coughed, and then chuckled.

"So you are saying that I look bad in uniform?" he asked playfully as they started to walk.

Gakuto thought about it, genuinely thought about it and Yuushi was frightened that he would indeed say 'yes'. That would have hurt like a knife in his gut.

Yuushi felt a profound sense of relief when Gakuto shook his head.

"Nope. You just look formal."

"How about when I am in my tennis attire?" Yuushi wanted to know.

Gakuto clasped his hands behind his head and said, "Well, you look like a tennis player."

"Gakuto…" Yuushi said exasperatedly.

"What?!"

Yuushi noted Gakuto's expression of bewilderment. He laughed easily at it. Gakuto always spoke his mind. That was one thing he liked about Gakuto. With Gakuto he needed no lies and he could say what was on his mind as well. Sure Gakuto could be rough at times and so utterly hyperactive, especially when he was on a sugar high, but he complemented Yuushi. Yuushi liked that…he liked that a lot.

Yuushi stole a glance at the chattering red-head beside him as they walked. He wondered if there was more to Gakuto than the said person let on. Did Gakuto like anybody? Gakuto was always so engrossed in his games, sci-fi books or tennis, that it was hard to tell. Or maybe, Gakuto was good at keeping secrets. Being so frank about everything else, no one would even guess that Gakuto had secrets.

Yuushi badly wanted to know. Maybe he might get heartbroken if he knew. Maybe if he knew, he might wish that he had not known. Still he wanted to know. He wanted to know as much as he could about Gakuto, effortlessly, the way Gakuto knew him.

He didn't say anything and just went on listening to what Gakuto was saying.

&&

The theme park came as a surprise to Yuushi. He had not expected it to be so…crowded. The moment they had paid for their entry tickets and went through the turnabout to get into the fairground, they were met with a moving mass of humanity and the accompanying buzz of conversation and shouting that was incomprehensible to Yuushi's ears. There were young people on dates, parents with their children, group of friends hanging out together and even tourists with their hats and cameras. A huge Ferris wheel and a roller coaster track all knotted in its impossible loops seemed to vie with one another for that kingly space, looming over the whole fairground. Yuushi, who was always in quiet bookshops, sitting at cafes sipping the choicest blends of coffee while indulging in a book, appraising artwork at galleries or appreciating the overtures played by symphony orchestras at concerts, was overwhelmed for a while.

"Hey Yuushi," he heard Gakuto spoke up from beside him. When he turned, he saw that the red-head was looking at him with what seemed like concern by Gakuto standards. "You okay?"

If Yuushi had been feeling like his normal self, he might have chuckled and held on to that two-word question as proof that Gakuto did care about him. However, Yuushi was feeling almost faint from the pressing feel of the crowd around him.

"I'm just…not used to the crowd," he admitted, looking around him and side-stepping a little girl who was too busy staring up at the Ferris wheel to be looking where she was going even as she held on to her mother's hand.

Gakuto tilted his head to one said and stared at Yuushi for a while, and then to Yuushi's astonishment the red-head grasped Yuushi by the elbow and started to pull him along.

"Let's start with a ride that is not too intense so that you can get used to the whole feel," Gakuto suggested.

They ended up at the haunted house, which was not a ride at all. Yuushi pointed this fact out to Gakuto who only jabbed him in the ribs with a finger and pulled them both through the darkened entrance. Yuushi did not know that Gakuto had a masochistic streak in him for despite being the one to choose to go in the place, the red-head was obviously frightened of the, in Yuushi's opinion, absolutely fake ghouls that prowled the haunted house, coming out of unexpected places to snarl at them while brandishing gnarly fingers.

Yuushi was not complaining, because it made Gakuto very, very clingy and Yuushi liked that. For once, he felt like the dashing knight with Gakuto, and hoped that his calm demeanor, which had returned, would help soothe Gakuto's fear a little.

"Let's not go in there," Gakuto said, peeking meekly into a dim room. But he pulled Yuushi in anyway and shrieked when something came up behind them, though all it did was stand there watching.

Yuushi was starting to feel amused.

&&

Gakuto was not clingy anymore once they exited the haunted house and Yuushi could not help feeling disappointed. He took comfort in the fact that Gakuto was walking more than chummily close to him then and that Gakuto also allowed him to buy for both of them a hotdog each. It was greasy and eating it made one look uncouth, but Gakuto enjoyed it and Yuushi found that the taste was not bad even if he made a complete mess trying to eat it the way he saw Gakuto ate it. The mess and the obvious fool he made of himself was worth it when Gakuto fished in Yuushi's pockets for the handkerchief he knew Yuushi kept, and when he found it, helped Yuushi clean his face up.

Yuushi spotted a tunnel canal, while Gakuto was stuffing the handkerchief back where he found it, and the Venetian-style gondolas passing into it. The fluorescent sign above the entrance of the tunnel screamed, "Love Tunnel". He looked at Gakuto then beside him and thought better of it.

And so it went.

They sat in the bumper cars and raced each other. Yuushi was not much of a racer and Gakuto won him easily before it turned into a competition to see who could bump each other harder.

Later, Gakuto insisted on the carousel but in the end he rode it alone, waving to Yuushi each time the carousel's revolution brought him within view of the prodigy who watched from behind the barriers. Yuushi felt like a parent watching Gakuto ride on that thing, smiling each time the red-head came into view. He had to admit that Gakuto looked adorable comically poised on the unmoving, rainbow-painted simulation of a pony.

The jumpy-jump was next and Gakuto managed to physically drag the terribly reluctant Yuushi into it, where he soon found himself surrounded by humongous colourful balls and a screaming mass of jumping children. A few balls came Yuushi's way and he tossed them aside. Yuushi felt like a giant among the children in the jumpy-jump. Some of them stared at him but was soon awed by his companion who wasted little time in displaying his acrobatic magnificence. Gakuto was all laughter and smiles as he jumped. Yuushi was surprised when he actually played with some of the children, jumping and yelling with them, tossing the balls that came his way in a game of deformed catch. Gakuto's broken home, when the red-head did talk about it, sometimes made him bitter but this, Yuushi realized, was Gakuto's little comfort zone. Gakuto loved to jump and this was a space in which he could jump most freely, where he could live the childhood he had been denied.

"Jump, Yuushi! Jump!" Gakuto shouted, each word to a bounce.

Yuushi tried. He really did. Only he ended up sort of bouncing a little and making his hair messy. It was okay because Gakuto was happy enough with that.

If Yuushi thought the jumpy-jump would sap Gakuto's energy the way long tennis matches did, he was wrong. Gakuto was only building up excitement for the best ride: the roller coaster.

It was a gigantic ride, and it was fast. Even Yuushi could not keep silent throughout the ride. Everyone screamed. Everyone shouted and Gakuto sounded loudest of them all. So, Yuushi joined in. He never thought he could shout so much or so loudly. At the end of the ride, he could not decide whether it was his voice or his knees that were in danger of giving way. They had to steady themselves at the side before they could say or do anything else.

"Let's do that again!" Gakuto shouted eyes aglow with undying excitement.

Yuushi conceded willingly.

&&

Yuushi thought the roller coaster was their last ride. It was nearing evening anyway.

While walking around, looking at more food stalls, Gakuto suddenly said, "Say Yuushi, you did not pick any rides today."

"I don't know anything about the rides," Yuushi replied. "I did enjoy myself with what we had gone on, so it's fine."

He smiled down at Gakuto but the red-head looked far from satisfied.

"Pick something!" he insisted.

"It is getting quite late and it is Monday tomorrow. We still have school."

Gakuto rolled his eyes. "Relax, Yuushi! And I bet you've finished all of your homework, so pick something!"

There was no arguing with Gakuto once his mind was made up.

Yuushi looked around the park. He felt like they had been to every place, especially considering how Gakuto wanted him to see everything there was to see in the park. The Ferris wheel was almost a silhouette by then, turning its slow revolution like it was the gear that set the whole park in motion from its opening hour. The line that waited consisted mainly of couples on a date.

"Let's go on the Ferris wheel."

He found that he was afraid that Gakuto might protest and said it was only for couples, but much to his pleasant surprise, for a large part of him was expecting the protest, Gakuto took his hand, actually entwined their fingers together, and wordlessly led him to the line.

People looked at them; pointedly at their hands, but Gakuto did not seem to care or even notice. He was eagerly making a beeline for the Ferris wheel.

They were soon in one of the cars as it slowly made its journey upwards. Another thing Yuushi was fully expecting was Gakuto getting bored with the ride or Gakuto whipping out his PSP, even if it didn't look like he had it on him. However, Gakuto peered out of the window at the view below. Yuushi looked too, and saw the people diminishing until they were odd-looking foreshortened figures mingling about in clusters and pairs. The crowd had since thinned.

It was beyond him. He enjoyed himself thoroughly and had not even noticed the crowd after the initial shock. Before this, before Gakuto that was, Yuushi would never even have fathomed going to a theme park.

They were sitting side by side and Yuushi was looking out the same window Gakuto was peering out of. He realized that Gakuto had not uttered a word about the odd arrangement and for that he was glad. It was nice sitting beside Gakuto like this. Above everyone, out of sight from everybody, Yuushi could have his way if he wanted to. Yet, there was no lust, only a desire to be with Gakuto and continue being with Gakuto the best way he could.

Gakuto was strangely quiet. Perhaps he was tired or maybe he was deep in his rare bouts of contemplation, Yuushi had to admit that he didn't know. He wanted to know more, wanted to be able to see those little signs that would indicate Gakuto's state of mind. They were so close; Yuushi could have leaned down easily and kissed the red-head. He did not. Instead, he reached out a hand and tucked Gakuto's silky hair behind his ear, exposing a span of cheek and neck. Not yet, he told himself. Perhaps not ever if the red-head would not allow it.

Gakuto looked over at Yuushi curiously, with a faint hint of a blush at the sudden touch. Yuushi only smiled.

How could he have explained things to Gakuto then?

Gakuto, I love you, would have sufficed indeed, but not yet, not yet.

Looking down into Gakuto's face, made prettier by the peach glow of the impending dowsing of the sun in a sea of night, and sitting like this just enjoying each other's company, Yuushi realized that some things were worth taking his time for. It was tedious and the result was arcane at best, but it was something different.

Finis