Takuma slowly and carefully opened the door to he and Shiki's room, knowing his roommate was not alone inside. That knowledge didn't quite prepare him for the scene within, and his eyes widened in surprise as he absorbed the sight of his stoic roommate smiling softly, watching as Touya-chan struggled to untangle her small fingers from what seemed to be an impossible knot of string. She was lamenting the difficulty of something called "cat's cradle" and telling him playing Beethoven's fifth was infinitely easier. The two were sitting on the floor, backs resting against Shiki's bed, and while Touya leaned sat up with and expression of intensity, Shiki sat back quietly, eyes laughing and completely relaxed. it seemed that neither of the two first-years had noticed their senpai's arrival until Touya looked up and composed herself immediately.

"Ichijou-senpai." She greeted formally, rising. Shiki rose also, but only to stop Touya as she made for the door. "Rima, wait." (He doesn't bite, you know.)

He took her hands when she stopped and easily untangled the string in seconds. She huffed to think the indignity he'd put her though by refusing to help earlier would be never be righted, as she would now be unable to prove that she could have eventually done it herself, and muttered as much to Shiki. His eyes laughed at her, but he only said, "There", and handed her string back. He then glanced at Ichijou and, still holding her hand, led her out of the room. The door swung almost closed, but not completely and Takuma, peeking through the crack, saw his roommate duck down to place a quick, chaste kiss on Touya's lips and murmur "Good night, Rima." (I love you.)

The girl wrapped her arms around him and he did the same. "Good night, Senri." (I love you, too.) They stayed that way for a moment, then pulled away from each other, and Touya turned to walk away. "Rima?" Shiki said.

She looked back. "Yes?"

"Don't worry." (Ichijou can be trusted.)

She paused, studying him. "I won't." (I believe you.) Her eyes flickered to the door and Takuma knew he was caught. Perhaps she'd known he was watching the entire time. Perhaps Shiki knew, too. He wasn't really surprised. His observation of Rima was that she was quietly watchful, controlled but fierce, and extremely observant. And Shiki was too careful with his secrets to risk Takuma seeing something Shiki didn't want him to. If he really wanted to hide his relationship with the Touya heir, he would have done so.

While Takuma pondered this, Touya disappeared around the corner of the hall, and Shiki returned to the room. Of course, by the time the younger boy entered, Takuma was relaxing on his bed, deeply focused on the newest volume of Prince of Tennis, if only to keep up appearances.

"Ichijou-san?"

Takuma looked up to see Shiki leaning against the door.

"Yes?"

"The Touyas are a pro-monarchy family."

"I know." Takuma prompted. "And?"

"The Shiki family supports the council."

"Oh." Takuma had already known this, of course, but he realized his roommate was subtly asking him not to tell anyone he and Rima were together. Actually, coming from Shiki, this was actually fairly straightforward. Ichijou wondered if that could be considered progress toward becoming Shiki's friend. He gleefully told himself it could, and grinned.

"I won't tell." He practically sang the words.

Shiki found a book a there was quiet for a few minutes. Finally, Takuma spoke, but he was more subdued and thoughtful now.

"Hey Shiki?"

Said boy looked up and made eye-contact to show he was listening.

"I was just thinking... Most couples, alone in a bedroom, wouldn't be playing with string."

Shiki blinked at him.

Takuma decided to tease him a little to see if he'd lighten up.

"This, along with other evidence, has caused me to think you're gay."

"What?"

"You didn't hear?" Takuma asked innocently. "I said-"

"I heard you." Shiki paused. "But I don't think you really think that. You're just trying to manipulate me into telling you why."

Not having foreseen this consequence of his teasing, Takuma hoped Shiki wasn't too offended by his 'manipulation'. But he also wondered if this meant Shiki planned to answer.

Senri sighed. "It's not that I... that I don't want her... It's just- she's worth it. For her sake, I'll wait until things are better. Until we're married, even. She's worth it." After a moment of silence, Shiki turned to face Takuma, a light dusting of pink on his face. "Ichijou?"

Feeling enlightened, Takuma nodded. "That's... admirable- that you care so much about her, I mean. Most people are too selfish for that." He stopped, struck. "Did... Did you just... Say that? That's probably the longest speech I've ever heard you make and it was about something most people say as little as possible about!"

Shiki threw a pillow at him.

And that made the whole awkward conversation worth it.

I'm not too sure about this one. Drop me a line, guys, anything you liked, didn't like, made you laugh, etc. Grammer, story flow, characterization- I might revise this one if I get enough help. Please, review! :)