It was late autumn the first time he spotted them from his place half-hidden in the stacks. At first sight, he had felt a warm weight on his heart. It actually relieved him to see his boyfriend spending time with a girl without sending her away coldly. And he remembered with even more clarity how fast the warmth receded when he leant over the wooden table to kiss her. The first time could easily be chalked up to a misunderstanding-- their relationship, Wataru knew, was full of them, so he forced down the feeling of betrayal and watched them closely for the next hour.

He tried to tell himself it didn't matter when he kissed her again before leaving. ['Would he have done it if I was watching, do you think?'] He tried to tell himself it didn't matter that Yuichi cancelled their much-looked forward to Wednesday date to hang out with 'a friend from cram school.' He tried to tell himself it didn't matter when he searched them out in the public library to find them being… intimate. He tried to tell himself it didn't matter that Yuichi had been colder than usual in his presence.

It was the sight of his precious person holding open the door to their café for that girl that did it in for Wataru. It left him too shocked to blink the tears from his eyes, leaving them to fall unnoticed down his [probably] too pale cheeks. And for the first time since perhaps a month ago when he first saw them, he let himself acknowledge just how happy Yuichi looked with the girl.

[You said my smile made you the happiest person alive. When did that change?]

Wataru distantly heard a strangled moan, but couldn't bring himself to care. His eyes were focused intently on Yuichi's face, his bright smile. It was so unlike anything he'd seen before.

[That's supposed to be my hand on your arm, you know.]

He wanted to walk away, but his feet were rooted to the spot. What else was he missing?

[That's my iced coffee, too. I should work there from now on, just so I can spit in it before giving it to you.]

Yuichi looked softer around the edges, his eyes sparkling even at Wataru's spot at the window. Beautiful, he was alwa--

Wataru just barely stopped himself from breaking through the window; he still landed with a solid thump, his hands curling over the unforgiving, cold glass. His dilated black eyes searched feverishly for a sign, and his breath came out in short, hysterical bursts from thin, pale lips, clouding the window slightly.

He wasn't wearing his ring. The ring, the ring! Where was it? He promised not to take it off in public anymore! He promised! So where was it…? In his pocket, perhaps? Or in hers? On his windowsill in his bedroom?

Down the drain?

And just as suddenly, the breath rushed out of him as if he'd been punched in the stomach. He leant his forehead against the cool glass and shut his eyes.

[This is it, then?]

How anticlimactic.

Somehow, miraculously, the happy couple didn't notice him at the window. Several others did, though, and shot him concerned looks every minute or so. He tried to smile in reassurance, but it felt more like a frightful grimace, and the patrons didn't look too assured. The smile fell from his face just as quickly as it appeared.

As to how long he'd been out there, he had no idea. He didn't have the courage, nor the strength to lift his watch and check the overly large dial.

[I'm not late now. If you wanted me, if you needed me, I'd be right there.]

But it was obvious that Wataru wasn't needed anymore.

[What am I, a thorn in your side?]

He watched in awe as Yuichi smiled again, for the third time in what seemed like forever. It was bright and unguarded. And now that he paid closer attention, didn't it look fake? Compared to the small, heartfelt ones he sometimes shot Wataru…

[A secret to be kept hidden?]

Yuichi's… no, Kazuki's number… was always the first-- and the last-- number on his contact list as far as he was concerned. Redial.

[Can't shut your phone off now, can you? Not now that she's heard.]

From his vantage point, he watched Yuichi as he glanced at the number-- don't hang up, don't hang up!-- and opened the phone. "What is it?" his boyfriend murmured in a low, smooth voice. Wataru swayed in place, and once again had to put his hand on the window. "I told you we can't meet up today. I'm preparing for finals." Wataru closed his eyes again. "Well? Did you just call to hear the sound of my voice? You're such a--"

"Yes," Wataru cut in. He gritted his teeth and tried again, cursing his voice for sounding so strangled. "Your voice… is the best thing I've heard all day." He opened his eyes and relished in the taken aback look on his beloved's face. "And you smile… is the best thing I've seen all month." He almost smiled himself when Yuichi quickly straightened, his eyes darting around frantically. "I'm at the window," Wataru whispered helpfully, smiling bitterly. Yuichi froze and turned to the right.

[More attention than you've paid me in weeks. Are you that shocked?]

"W-Wataru--"

"You can give me all the excuses in the world, and it wouldn't be enough compensation for the pain you've caused me." Yuichi's brow furrowed, and Wataru instinctively knew he wasn't going to mean what he said next. "You've been spying on me? W-What gave you the--! Shit, that's not what I meant to say." He tore a hand through his chestnut locks impatiently. "Look, I'll send her away and we can talk, okay? Kami-sama," he continued in a murmur as he threw his jacket on. "How long have you been out there?"

The phone slid away from Wataru's ear slightly. "You should walk her back," he said, his lips moving before his brain could catch up. "And kiss her goodbye. Kami-sama knows that's more than you've given me this past month."

"Wataru!"

He lowered the phone in a clenched fist and stumbled into the alley beside the café. Shivering, backed into a corner, Wataru acutely feeling the wind tearing through his thin jacket. He lifted the phone back up to his ear, huddled close to the building, and bleakly watched the entrance of the alley. He was done thinking.

"What does she have," he spoke, cutting through Yuichi's worried babbling. "that I don't? What is it about her that makes you so willing to forget me? Does she trust you implicitly? I bet she doesn't have mood swings at the drop of a hat, either. Yeah…" Wataru breathed. "I bet that's why."

"Wataru, you don't--"

"It's not a misunderstanding this time, Yuichi," Wataru snapped, finally feeling a burning rage consume him for a few seconds. It left him even colder than before. "I… I gave you the benefit of the doubt," he said carefully, trying not to let the pain bleed through his gritted teeth. "I wanted to trust you. I wanted it to be anything but that." He tilted his head back to look at the sky. Smoke drifted up from the café's chimney, obscuring some of winter's gray sea.

"But I get it now," Wataru continued, overriding Yuichi's feeble protests. Had he left the café yet? Wataru had been planning to call for him if he appeared near the entrance of the alley, to see how his lover would react. The thought was sluggish, and for some reason, inadvertently amusing. It left him crying and laughing and moaning, but feeling utterly numb at the same time. He finally opened his ears to Yuichi's voice as he hid his head between his legs.

"Where are you, Wataru? You don't sound right! If you just tell me where you are--"

And he closed his ears there. "If you can't find me now," Wataru growled roughly, abruptly suppressing the hysterical fit, "you'll never see me again." He didn't know what he meant, and he doubted Yuichi did either.

"Wataru…"

"Ne…"

"Wataru?"

"…do I have to call you Kazuki-san again?"

A strangled cry came from the other end of the line. And finally, he saw a flash of Kazuki's familiar tan coat rush by the end of the alley. Wataru coughed, wanting to call out but finding himself to weak to try. So he settled for whispering in the phone, "I'm over here, dummy." But Yuichi obviously couldn't make it out over the sound of his own running footsteps. Wataru lay his head on his knees, and curled around himself even tighter. He raised his voice slightly, and heard Yuichi's pounding footsteps shudder to a stop.

"I take it you didn't walk her home. What an irresponsible boyfriend you are. I don't know how I put up with you," Wataru joked without force. He closed his weary eyes. "I never got to… what I wanted to say, did I? After 'I understand'…" He felt his fist clench, but it wasn't out of any particular emotion. "I never deserved you. So perfect and gorgeous… I don't know why you fell for me in the first place. What's there to love about this incompetent fool? A fool who can't even see his own lover's unhappiness. That's what it was, wasn't it? Why you chose to look for another?"

"Wataru… please…"

"I tricked myself into believing I, an insignificant human being, could make such a wonderful person happy. I wanted to share it with you, the love I felt… I had more than enough left over to give. I think that's why it pains me to say this… I loved you too much. Did I not give you enough freedom? But you were always a free soul… that can't be it… what is it?" Wataru trailed off desperately, though he was not actively seeking an answer. "What is it about her that makes you smile so brightly? Is it that you can talk to her without all the baggage blocking the way? Is it that you don't have to watch how you act, and what you say? I thought we got over that…

"I never s-stopped falling f-for you, Yuichi. Maybe I took you for granted…? I'm so sorry…"

"No, no, no, I'm the one who should be sorry!" Wataru exclaimed, and suddenly his voice seemed so much closer than it was on the phone.

"I-I'm so… worthless…"

"Don't say that! Please, don't say that. Wataru…!"

"I'm selfish, too…" Wataru continued dutifully, nodding his head along, staring blankly over Yuichi's shoulder. He could barely feel the warmth of the other boy's embrace. He shut his burning eyes against it. "It must be selfish… to want to say, 'I understand, but even so, I want to always see that ring on your finger.'"

And then he knew nothing.


A/N: So I've only read the first two novels, but I'm already in love with the characters. The idea came to me last night and then again this morning when I got up, so I decided to jot it down and see where it got me. Believe it or not, the original idea I had was way more definite, and... um... tragic. I've decided to make this 2-3 chapters since there are still a few scenes I want to work on. Man, I hope people read this. xD I'm kinda proud of it so far.