A/N: I am on my internet-knees begging you all for your forgiveness in this late update. The short version of the reason is that I took part in NaNoWriMo which meant I was writing like a crazy person for the whole month and was stupid to imagine I could update this at the same time.
I'll save the rest of my waffling until the end. Onwards with the final chapter.
The redhead's fingers were warm on the back of Kyon's neck. After a few minutes, he seemed to decide that this wasn't good enough and so slipped the black fingerless glove from his hand so as to press more of his skin against Kyon's.
They had been kissing for about an hour, on and off, filling the time in between each brush of lips with ordinary conversation, compliments given by Kei and denials voiced by Kyon. As time passed, the kisses had lost some of their hesitance and Kyon had the strange feeling that he'd never be able to forget the taste of these lips, nor the warmth of the fingers against his skin.
He'd stopped drinking too, as soon as Kei had first started touching him in a not-so-casual manner. Theoretically, this should have made the whole thing easier to think about. In reality, it meant that he could no longer deny it felt good without telling a barefaced lie. As with the girl from his class, each kiss set his nerves tingling, each light touch sent the blood rushing straight to his cheeks. The added adrenaline rush from this encounter not only being public but being with a flashy, red-headed male meant that Kyon was blushing almost permanently. These factors alone made it more enjoyable than his date with the girl.
What the hell is wrong with me? He found himself thinking idly as Kei broke another kiss and rested his forehead against Kyon's. Am I just an adrenaline-junkie? He would take up bungee-jumping or something equally stupid if he thought it would help but somehow he didn't think that would work. After all, it hadn't been risky with Koizumi, had it? Not that he noticed at the time. That night, everything had seemed smooth and tender, as warm and gentle as the early morning sun. 'Danger' and 'risk' had been the furthest things from his mind. He wished they hadn't been.
Kei's voice was deep and a little rough around the edges. Kyon almost jumped as he spoke, having been unconsciously expecting Koizumi's more gentle tones.
"Uh..." Kyon looked into dark, sincere eyes and didn't have the heart to lie. "I guess not."
"That's too bad," came the reply along with a teasing brush of lips. "Have I done something wrong? Are you not enjoying this?"
Kyon sighed and lowered his gaze. "It's not that."
It was the opposite, if he was honest, and it was scaring him. Not just because he knew now that he wouldn't be able to call Koizumi and refuse him on the grounds of orientation, something he knew the esper wouldn't argue with, but because as enjoyable as this was it still didn't come close to how he had felt when with Koizumi. Nothing had felt like that. It was exactly the sort of answer he had set out to find but now that it was staring him in the face he felt terrified.
"I can't do this," he heard himself saying. "I can't."
Five minutes later, he found himself standing outside, the pulsing music from the bar still ringing in his ears. It had been raining while he was inside, leaving the air cold but crisp. He could never quite remember how he had got there or what he had said to excuse himself but he was willing to bet money that it wasn't very smooth. Between his fingers he held a scrap of paper bearing a phone number. Kei's, he assumed. The ink ran and bled into an unreadable mess as he dropped it into a puddle by his feet.
He started walking away without looking back, feet leading him in the opposite direction to his dorm. Maybe the night air would help slow his racing heartbeat and cool the blood in his cheeks that no longer had anything to do with Kei's kisses and everything to do with Koizumi.
Being sure should mean not being terrified. Only a week ago, he had believed that. Now, it didn't seem so simple.
As he neared the park, Koizumi fished in his pocket, reflexively searching for a pack of cigarettes and a lighter that were no longer there. It had been getting easier but he'd felt on edge since getting the call and now, knowing he'd be seeing Akira in a matter of minutes, he felt as though he was trembling all over.
He sat on a park bench with an almost inaudible sigh and glanced at his watch. Eleven. Akira would be there any moment. Turning his eyes upwards towards a street-light he tried to think about something else so that he wouldn't be too out of character when Akira turned up. Out of character. Once, he had considered dropping the act entirely around Akira, breaking down the remnants of the facade. He had never had the chance, in the end. He didn't want it to happen like this.
The bulb in the light was dying. It flickered on and off as though hesitant to try putting its all into shining lest it should lose all the power it had left. Koizumi watched it, expression blank. He wished it would fix itself soon or die altogether, the endless flickering being infinitely more irritating than darkness would be.
I'm trying, the light whispered in Kyon's voice. I promise I'm trying.
"Hurry up," he whispered.
Koizumi turned quickly away from the light, expression undeniably guilt-ridden. Akira gave him a half-smile and approached the bench. Koizumi watched him, wordless for now. He seemed healthy, if a little sad. Akira always gave Koizumi the impression of being extremely attractive but more modest than was necessary, leaving most people with the feeling that he was lacking something where in reality he was close to perfect. Now, being dressed in a warm winter coat and a purple tartan scarf, he gave off this aura more than ever. Usually, Koizumi would feel a slight jolt, a slight pull in his chest when looking at Akira. This time, there was nothing.
Koizumi remembered buying him that scarf when they first met. He wondered if Akira had worn it on purpose. The esper jumped a little as Akira sat next to him, almost touching but not quite.
"Akira," he said at last. "It's...it's good to see you."
Apparently not noticing Koizumi's hesitance in the face of his own happiness, Akira smiled warmly.
"You too. You seemed strange on the phone, Itsuki. Has everything been okay?"
"Yes," Koizumi answered too quickly, finding himself unable to meet Akira's eye. "Why did you want to see me? Has something happened?"
"I was an idiot, that's what happened," the youth replied in a level voice. "I left you when I shouldn't have. People in our class have told me they've seen you out with the guy from the alley as well as some girls. He's just a friend, isn't he? You weren't lying."
In the silence that followed this statement, the irregular clicking of the flickering light rang out into the night. Koizumi stared resolutely at his hands, watching them turn a sickly yellow with each flash. At length, he felt Akira move until their shoulders touched. A hand, pale with the cold, touched his arm gently.
"Look at me."
He obeyed without thinking, being unable to do anything of his own volition. As he finally met Akira's dark gaze, he knew exactly what the youth would be thinking. In Akira's eyes, he had always been handsome, stunning, even perfect. He could see all these words swirling behind Akira's eyes, words twisted and skewed by the way Koizumi knew his own eyes were not smiling. He had wanted to hear those words from Akira before, wanted more than anything to be desired for who he was. Yet, Akira had never known who he was, not really.
Kyon knew. Kyon knew more than anyone. And that night, the word that had passed his lips had been beautiful, the most simple and most precious of them all.
Akira turned on the bench and let his fingers brush gently against Koizumi's cheek. He turned into the touch, a movement born of habit as much as reaching for his cigarettes had been.
"Can I kiss you?"
Koizumi almost laughed. That was Akira all over; overdramatic, overemotional, too ready to forgive and forget. Passionate. Instead of thrilling him, it struck a chord of fear in Koizumi's heart.
"I don't know," the esper murmured. "Why would you want to? I haven't contacted you since..."
"I love you."
Koizumi caught his breath, eyes widening. It should have been touching, hearing those words. Koizumi had always wanted them to be touching. But they felt wrong.
"At least, I think I do," Akira continued, voice perfectly steady. "I used to think you felt the same way. So, can I kiss you, Itsuki?"
"I don't know," Koizumi whispered again. "Please, don't say-"
Soft, warm, familiar lips pressed against his own. That was Akira all over; passionate, overdramatic and too ready to ignore anything that didn't fit with his plans. And out of habit, Koizumi's eyes slowly closed.
Koizumi's window was dark.
At least, Kyon thought it was. Now he was actually here, he wasn't so sure he knew which window was the right one. He wasn't entirely sure why he was here, either. He had been walking in the hope of clearing his mind but had only managed to work himself up further. It didn't help that a bottle of water he had bought from a late night convenience store had only managed to wash Kei's taste off of his lips. It was crystal clear in his memory.
He wanted to see Koizumi. It would be so easy, unless he had got the right window and Koizumi wasn't in. He remembered the room number and all needed to do was walk over to the intercom, press the button and wait for a reply. If Koizumi was in he could go up and say...what? I think I'm ready to answer you but even thinking about saying it gives me a minor heart attack? I worked it out by letting some random girl kiss me and realising I didn't like it as much as I should? And then by letting some random guy kiss me and realising I didn't hate it? It shouldn't happen that way. He didn't want it to happen that way. He didn't want it to happen at all, it was too frightening and embarrassing and a whole plethora of other words ending in '-ing' that he was too ashamed to say.
With a dejected sigh, he sat down on a low wall near the dorm building, staring into the middle-distance.
Sometimes, he wished he was more impulsive or passionate. If he could just think with his heart rather than his head then things would be so much simpler. He wouldn't have left Koizumi in the morning and they would have been able to talk everything out then. Maybe he'd be less scared if he'd had less time to think about it. He hadn't been scared when Koizumi had kissed him. He hadn't been worried at all when he'd felt fingers tracing his skin and done the same in return. He'd felt nothing but contentment and warmth as he held Koizumi against him and called him by his name. All the fear had come after.
"Fuck," Kyon mumbled, dropping his head into his hands to try and stop his thoughts. It wasn't like thinking was going to do him any good; if the last month had taught him anything, it was that. He needed to do something.
From his perch on the wall, the intercom seemed a hundred miles away. He flipped open his phone and stared at the screen instead, the bright display hurting his eyes in the darkness. He browsed through his phonebook until Koizumi's name appeared and traced the display with the pad of one thumb.
"What do you want me to do?" he asked in a whisper.
It would be too easy to make love to Akira. The sentiment would come from one side at least and Koizumi had always been good at assuming a role, no matter how challenging.
Akira's kisses were tender and slow. With each brush of his lips, Koizumi remembered something he had been forgetting, like the way Akira's voice sounded when he was half-asleep or the way his cheeks would flush when Koizumi complimented him. He remembered how easy it was for Akira to reduce him to a powerless mess, breaths coming in shallow gasps and nerves on fire. Akira had learnt exactly how to talk, how to kiss, how to touch in order to break down all of Koizumi's walls. He had studied the esper's reactions to his every move with a sort of dedicated awe.
As Akira took Koizumi's lower lip between his teeth, a gentle movement he had been fond of, Koizumi's eyes slammed open.
Practice. Familiarity. Akira found it easy to make him feel good because he had spent months practicing. Once the thought had arisen, Koizumi couldn't stop it from continuing to the inevitable next step.
Kyon didn't have the benefit of experience. Not only that, but none of his actions had seemed measured or planned. One night with Kyon had felt better than any night he had spent with Akira. And Kyon had been right; when it came to Kyon, it was about more than sex. It was about more than friendship too. It was wrong to think it but since he was thinking it anyway, it was wrong to be doing this at all.
Akira might have been in love with him. Koizumi knew that, he could feel it. He still wanted Kyon. In a moment, he knew that settling for Akira and giving up on Kyon before his friend gave him an answer would be something he would regret forever, even if he ultimately ended up alone.
He drew away suddenly, wrenching himself from Akira's hold and moving to stand in front of the bench.
"I can't," he said, managing to keep his voice steady. Now that he had started talking, he found he couldn't stop. He spoke quickly, watching the happiness drain from Akira's face. "Please don't ask me to do this, Akira. It's been a month since we stopped seeing each other, you can't just ask me to act as if nothing happened."
"I'm sorry that I-"
"I know you are. So am I. It's not your fault. Thank you for the three months you shared with me. I was truly happy."
"I need to go now. I'm sorry."
He didn't smile. It was the only thing he could think of to do that could soften the blow. As he watched Akira's expression soften into one of resignation, the light above them flickered out at last and plunged them into darkness.
"Please don't call me again," Koizumi said quietly. "Goodbye, Akira."
Turning and walking away was easier than he would have expected. So was not looking back, even though he could feel Akira watching him from the pool of shadows until he left the park.
The digital clock on Kyon's phone informed him that it was eleven forty-four. He had been watching the minutes change since eleven thirty-two and still had no idea what he wanted to do. The vague idea that he couldn't sit here forever was creeping over him but he couldn't bring himself to leave without doing something. Perhaps a little step was needed, a tiny first move. Koizumi might have been utterly useless at games but he would surely see the move for what it was and react accordingly.
Kyon cursed his tendency towards thinking in stupid metaphors, a talent second only to Koizumi's, and shut his phone with a snap. He sat perfectly still for ten seconds and then flicked the phone open again with an angry groan.
"Why the hell am I doing this?" he muttered as he brought Koizumi's name up again and started furiously texting before he lost the nerve. After deleting and retyping the message six and a half times, Kyon settled for something simple and hit send with more violence than was necessary. As soon as this had been done, he leapt to his feet and started walking home with determined steps, phone gripped in one hand so that he would know the second he received a message.
For the first time since Akira had called him, Koizumi felt a sharp aching in his chest. He wondered if he qualified for the title of 'heartbreaker' now. The insistent buzzing in his pocket suggested that he did.
Since he had left the park, his phone had started ringing five times. Each time, it rang an average of seven times before the caller gave up, only to try again a minute later. He hadn't needed to check the caller ID but had done so anyway, just to be sure. He supposed he should credit Akira for having not followed him and questioned him in person but that somehow made it worse.
He had never left someone before, let alone someone who professed to love him.
As he rounded the corner to his dorms, he felt his phone vibrating again. He flinched as it started and was reaching into his pocket to finally turn it off when it stopped after one buzz. A text message. Hurrying as he was, Koizumi flipped the phone open and read the message without checking the sender, assuming it would be obvious if anyone else was contacting him.
The message was short and left no doubt in his mind:
Good night, Itsuki.
He wrote a reply quickly, barely looking at his screen, and then turned the phone off. If Akira was still calling by tomorrow, he'd think of something to say. At that moment, he just wanted to sleep.
Kyon jumped as his phone vibrated when he was barely a block away from Koizumi's dorm. He managed to walk the length of a street pretending he didn't care before he gave in and flipped the phone open. The white light from the display illuminated a hopeful expression although he wasn't sure what he was hoping for.
A second later, he knew. He had been hoping for anything other than the reply he had received. It was short and to the point but told Kyon more than he had wanted.
Stop it, Akira.
Kyon stopped dead in his tracks, unsure how to feel. Angry? Of course. If Koizumi still had Akira, why was he letting Kyon suffer? But he felt more than just angry, he felt hurt, childish and more than a little stupid. Here he'd been trying to seriously make a decision about his life and the moment he'd taken a step towards ending the process, Koizumi was throwing a spanner in the works.
Stop it. What did that mean? Were they fighting? Being playful? Had he even read Kyon's heartfelt text or had it been lost in an array of quick-fire love notes? He was such an idiot, letting himself get caught up in this.
Kyon was vaguely aware that he might be misunderstanding things but for the moment, he didn't care. He just wanted to go home and forget about the whole sorry mess, shower until he could stop smelling Kei's body-spray and then sleep for a week. It sounded like a plan. A much better plan than any of the others he had made recently.
Realising he was still standing motionless and holding his phone, Kyon took a deep breath and tried to snap out of it. His finger hovered over the reply button but he snapped the phone shut without doing anything. If Koizumi was busy with Akira then he could wait a little longer for Kyon's answer.
By eleven the next morning, it seemed that Koizumi wouldn't be waiting for as long as Kyon wanted.
"Kyon, be ready by seven!"
He rubbed his eyes free of sleep and blinked once or twice before repositioning the phone against his ear.
Haruhi's sinfully cheerful morning-voice started the inevitable decline into anger. "Are you deaf? You shouldn't sleep so much. Seven, I said, seven. Be ready."
"Because I said so, idiot. Get food in okay? Bye!"
The line went dead and Kyon rolled over with a groan. So much for sleeping for a week. He glanced around the bombsite that had once been his room and hauled himself out of bed. If he didn't tidy up enough, Haruhi would likely hit him with whatever mess he had left on the floor.
As he was bending down and retrieving lost socks from under the desk, his mind caught up with him. Brigade meeting. Tonight. Haruhi was now the least of his worries. What was he going to say to Koizumi? His resolve of the night before had virtually vanished to be replaced by an acute sense of shame.
It was one thing to fall for your friend. It was another to fall for a guy. It was yet another thing to screw someone over and leave them hanging. Doing all of these things in one go as well as then finding out said male friend was still in contact with a serious ex-partner was another thing entirely. Kyon wondered why he was fated to have such a complicated life. Other people managed to have a friendship group and a few love interests. If it wasn't so ridiculous, he'd have considered writing everything down in the hope it made others feel happy about their boring, blissful existences.
He was mulling this idea over again that evening as he sat on the floor and watched Haruhi getting gradually more frustrated with a videogame. She sat in his chair, legs splayed each side of the back-rest. Asahina sat daintily on his bed, watching the game with a bemused expression. Nagato perched on the end of the bed, holding a book that could have been used as a bludgeon. There was an empty patch of air on the floor next to Kyon where Koizumi should have been.
In between reminding Haruhi that games weren't to be taken too seriously, Kyon flipped his phone open and shut convulsively. It seemed that no one knew where Koizumi was, not even Asahina. She kept sneaking worried glances at Kyon when she thought he wouldn't notice. Although annoyed by Koizumi's absence, Haruhi soon became too wrapped up in her impulse-bought game to worry about his whereabouts or notice Kyon's increasing gloom.
"What does this button do again?" Haruhi asked for the thousandth time and Kyon was grateful to hear Nagato answering her, eyes still glued to the page.
He hauled himself to his feet and wandered over to the window, feeling Asahina watching him intently with her large eyes. Normally, he would be grateful for the attention. As it was, he stared out of the window, phone clutched in one hand. The rain from the night before had returned with a vengeance and had been drenching the city since the morning. Everything beyond the window was grey and miserable, something which didn't help Kyon's mood in the slightest. Summer was well and truly over, it seemed.
Watching a raindrop chase its way down the window pane, Kyon felt his chest tightening until his hands began to clench with rage. It wasn't fair. None of it. The whole damn situation was stupid and unnecessary. He wanted to blame it all on Koizumi, it'd be so much easier if he could hate the esper and forget about everything as if he wasn't involved. But he was. He had wanted Koizumi to wait. He had insisted on finding the truth rather than going with his gut instinct and running from the things that frightened him. He should have known that being brave would never pay.
Haruhi cut through his thoughts with an incoherent cry of rage.
"Kyon, this game is stupid."
He turned to her, expression stormy.
"It's your game. Don't blame me for wasting your money."
She opened her mouth to say something but then caught sight of his expression. Large brown eyes softened with sincere worry and an uneasy silence smothered the room as Kyon found all eyes turned on him.
"Are you waiting for a call?" Haruhi asked in a quiet voice, pointing towards the phone still held in his hand. Kyon looked at it blankly before shrugging. Asahina climbed to her feet and offered him a kind smile.
"I would have thought Koizumi-kun would call and tell us where he is," she said, Haruhi nodding in agreement.
"It's rude of him, isn't it? And I have to leave now, anyway. He's been missing out."
More like you've been missing out on someone helping you, Kyon thought but said nothing. His lips felt glued together and he found his gaze inexorably drawn back out to the rain. He watched as a large raindrop chased a smaller one down the length of the glass, their trails blurring together. If Koizumi had been there, he would have made some smart comment. As it was, Kyon just felt terribly alone.
Which was stupid, really. Until the month before, Koizumi had just been a friend, hadn't he? A month's worth of affection should be easy to forget.
Kyon heard the others leaving behind him and mumbled a good-bye without turning. If they were upset, he'd deal with them later. He watched from the window as the girls bundled into a taxi together, the rain soaking them during the small dash from the door to the car. He watched until the taxi had sped out of sight, water spraying up from its wheels as it sped past the overflowing gutters.
Stop it, Akira.
It repeated in his mind like a mantra, taunting him with its simplistic denial of everything he had decided upon. It was strange really, that he had trusted Koizumi so readily despite his own doubts. He had questioned his own feelings, never the esper's. It had all felt too real. He hadn't realised Koizumi was that good of an actor.
With a shake of his head, Kyon opened his phone and deleted the offending text message. He felt like he was becoming bitter and twisted when any sensible almost-adult would just brush it under the rug. By deleting the text message, he felt a little better. It wouldn't last though, this placebo. The problem was that he didn't know where to find medication to stop himself from wanting to act stupidly and make a fuss. He raised his eyes back to the rain and gazed down at the miserable, empty street below.
Which was no longer empty. Koizumi was standing on the street two stories down, watching Kyon through the rain. Kyon froze, phone still held before him and expression blank. His first thought was that Koizumi must just be late but of course that was too simple, the timing too perfect. As his mind started running again he realised that the esper was standing in the downpour without a jacket and would be soaked to the skin. His hair clung to his face in dark, wet strands and even from this distance it was clear to Kyon that Koizumi was not smiling. The esper pulled out his phone and began typing something, letting the device stand uncovered in the rain.
He jumped as his phone buzzed in his hand and he flipped it open, glancing back at Koizumi every few moments as if expecting him to disappear. He had a text message and wondered why he still felt surprised.
I'm sorry for the intrusion, it read. Can I come up?
Why? Was he going to tell Kyon he'd decided to get back together with Akira permanently? Was he going to lie and act as if he'd never sent that text message? That is, if he was even aware he had sent it to Kyon. It would be safest to tell him a firm no and gather his thoughts.
With a sigh, Kyon keyed in a quick reply and turned away from the window.
Sure. The door downstairs is unlocked. Let yourself in.
Safety was overrated, it seemed.
In the time it took Koizumi to climb the stairs, Kyon managed to do nothing other than turn and lean on the windowsill. Part of him wanted to go and lock the door, to bar Koizumi entrance and carry on pretending the impending conversation didn't need to happen.
Too late, he started forwards as the door swung open and the esper stepped inside. His sneakers squeaked on the floor as he turned to shut the door behind him, leaving dark marks on the carpet as water cascaded off their surface. He brought in the sharp, cold smell of rain and night-time air and Kyon crossed his arms over his chest to suppress a shiver. He had to suppress another as the esper turned back to face him properly, leaning back against the door as if tired.
'Drenched' would have been an understatement. His shirt, presumably a bright red usually, had been dyed a deep brown and clung to his chest, shoulders and arms, the wet and heavy cuffs hanging against the back of his hands. His skin was very pale from the cold and slick with the rain. Still not smiling, his eyes were dark as he raised them to Kyon's.
"Thank you," he said quietly.
Kyon shrugged, endeavouring to move as little as possible.
"For what? You were meant to be here anyway."
"Ah, yes, I was wasn't I? My apologies."
Koizumi pushed himself away from the door and took a few steps into the room, pausing as he reached the chair Haruhi had vacated. Since it was facing towards the window, he rested his hands on the back to support himself.
"So?" Kyon asked, lowering his gaze to Koizumi's hands. "Where were you? What were you doing?"
"I had some things to think about," Koizumi answered without hesitation as if he had been planning his response while standing in the rain. "Not that it did me any good."
The words were out before Kyon had decided he wanted to say them and he felt his cheeks flushing, mortified at assuming the role of jealous lover. He turned his face away as soon as he had spoken and so missed the genuine surprise that flashed across Koizumi's face. His fingers tightened around the back of the chair.
"Why would you mention him?" he asked. "I haven't-"
"You're seeing him, aren't you?" Kyon ploughed onwards, unable to stop now he had started. "Isn't that what you came here to tell me? You've been texting him so I guess you've been seeing him too. It's not that I care," he said in defiance of obvious hurt in his voice, "it's just that you should tell me. So?"
"How did you know I've been texting him?"
"Check your sent box."
"I'm afraid I deleted it this morning."
Kyon closed his eyes for a moment, remembering the effort that had gone into sending something so simple. All that thought and courage had been wasted. He felt rather than saw Koizumi straighten up and move around the chair before falling into it heavily. The esper rested his hands on his knees, the sodden denim cold to the touch.
"Did I send one to you?" he asked quietly.
Kyon nodded, staring stoically at the wall. If he acted apathetic enough, perhaps he would actually start feeling that way. With his hands shaking, it seemed worth a shot.
"What did it say?" Koizumi's voice was soft and Kyon almost looked around, remembering his resolve at the last moment.
"It doesn't matter," he lied. "So, what happened? With Akira."
"I met him," Koizumi started. Kyon dug his fingers into his arm. "Last night. After the meeting. He called me out to the park and I just...went. I don't know why."
"And?" In comparison to the gentle nature of Koizumi's confession, Kyon's words were sharp as broken ice.
"He apologised for getting angry before. He...he kissed me. He told me he loved me, Kyon."
It shouldn't have hurt. It shouldn't have meant anything. Yet the last few weeks spiralled away in Kyon's memory as a painful and confusing waste of his time. He should have said something, before, before he was sure. If he was such a big fan of risk he should have known better. He stood silently, waiting for the apology that would inevitably come. Koizumi would tell him not to feel guilty and to forget about the whole thing and go back to charming Asahina and Haruhi to boot. Just like before. Just like always. Just thinking the words left a bitter taste in his mouth.
"I'm sorry. You don't want to hear this."
There it was. Feeling safer now he knew where this was going for sure, Kyon turned back to the esper with defiant eyes. It took less than a second to realise that Koizumi's eyes were shining with what he hoped were unshed tears. He'd never seen the esper cry, had hardly believed it was possible. He pushed himself away from the window with a frown.
"Those better be raindrops I can see on your cheeks."
Koizumi's lips twitched into a half-smile that slipped away after only a second. He shook his head hesitantly, indicating he had no idea if they were or not.
"Someone who's just been confessed to shouldn't be crying," Kyon stated, dropping to his knees in front of the esper, his own worries taking a backseat to this bizarre spectacle. "If you're upset because you didn't want to tell me or something stupid like that, just forget it. I already knew that-"
"I left him."
Koizumi raised dark eyes to Kyon's, a single tear falling and adding a new trail to the raindrop sheen of his cheeks. Now he was closer, Kyon could see that Koizumi was trembling all over, the cold radiating from him in waves.
"I left him," Koizumi repeated firmly. "He asked me to be with him and I refused. He didn't stop calling and texting me until this afternoon. At first he was apologetic but the last few messages were...cruel. I've broken his heart, apparently."
Kyon could do nothing but watch in confusion as Koizumi's fingers curled into his jeans.
"Why would I do that, do you think?" he continued. "I'm not blind, Kyon, I can see how angry you are at me. I know what your decision is going to be. I've gone and refused the only person to care about me like that for no reason whatsoever. So please...please just go ahead and say it. I can't wait anymore."
Broken. That was the word. Kyon had never imagined Koizumi could look so lost and vulnerable, not even after everything that had happened. He was sitting slumped in the chair, head bowed and eyes shut, water droplets falling from his hair onto his hands and legs. He seemed smaller, somehow. Maybe it was the way the rain had flattened his hair and clothes against his body or maybe it was the way he was sitting but it was frightening to see the esper in such a way.
He needed to say something. A thousand answers presented themselves in his head ranging from the eccentric to complete and utter lies. This was the moment he had been dreading; whatever he did now was going to set his decision in stone. Anger no longer clouded his vision; now he knew what had happened, the whole incident with Akira seemed trivial and meaningless, to Kyon if not to Koizumi. Now more than ever it was clear that Koizumi had chosen him.
With dry lips, Kyon cleared his throat but couldn't find the right words to say. He could talk about Kei, or the girl from his class, or the way he had been able to feel his heart pounding in his throat when sending the text that had been lost. Maybe he didn't even need that; a simple yes would be enough to let Koizumi know.
Eyes fixed on the floor, Kyon raised his hands and rested one over each of Koizumi's, flinching at the coldness of the esper's skin. He held them gently, sliding his thumbs from side to side in an absent attempt to warm Koizumi up. A drop of water from Koizumi's hair landed on the back of Kyon's hand and he jolted, holding his breath as it traced an icy line down his skin.
"You're cold," he said at last, voice barely above a whisper. "It was stupid to go out without a coat."
"I probably have a shirt you can borrow somewhere. If you get ill, it's gonna be my fault, right?"
"That's not an answer."
"Just...just give me a moment, okay?"
"A moment. Or I'll know I have to leave."
Kyon hesitated for a second, still unable to pick the words that would end this limbo once and for all. The silence was too long and he felt Koizumi shift beneath his hands. Before the esper could stand, Kyon raised himself higher on his knees and leant forward, pulling Koizumi towards him with firm arms. Koizumi's shirt was almost painfully cold beneath his bare arms and he shuddered at the clamminess of the contact but held on, pressing his forehead against the esper's chest so that he wouldn't have to see his expression.
Koizumi inhaled sharply at the action and Kyon could feel him tense up in the hold. Pressing himself still closer, he could feel a faint heat working its way through the material from Koizumi's skin. He wanted to cling onto that warmth, find a way to dispel the cold entirely and soften the air. Suddenly, all the words he could say sounded stupid and crude in his head and the idea of giving them voice made him feel sick. As Koizumi slid forward into the embrace and raised his hands to press almost fearfully against Kyon's chest, he knew he couldn't say them. Words meant nothing. This was real, this feeling, these actions. If only he knew what to do now.
"Kyon." Koizumi's voice was stronger than his had been and void of any definite emotion. Closing his eyes and raising himself higher so as to hold the esper more firmly, Kyon spoke in a hushed voice.
"You say my name a lot."
"I suppose I do. Do you not like it?"
"I don't know. I don't mind, I guess."
Koizumi wove hesitant fingers into Kyon's hair, provoking a small, defeated smile against his shirt.
"A moment was over a long time ago," the esper said although the trace of amusement in his voice suggested he had already reached a conclusion. "Do you have an answer for me?"
"I..." Kyon sighed squeezed his eyes shut more tightly. "You asked if I could picture us together, right? Like...together together."
"I guess...I still can't." Kyon tightened his hold, having been expecting Koizumi's sudden motion to stand. "No, wait. I said I can't. I've never been very imaginative. It's pretty depressing sometimes, you know? But that doesn't mean anything. I've been thinking about it. I've been thinking about it a lot. I'm sorry I let it go on for so long."
"So..." Koizumi's voice was quiet again and Kyon found himself laughing, a small, broken sound that betrayed more anxiety than he would have liked.
"I can't picture it," he said. "But I want to be able to."
The fingers returned to his hair and as Koizumi moved one hand to brush tentatively against on cheek, Kyon turned into the touch.
"That is, if you still-"
Gentle hands raised Kyon up until they were both standing, Koizumi trembling with the cold in Kyon's arms. As the water started soaking into his shirt as well, Kyon made the conscious decision not to move away.
"I do still want that," Koizumi repeated, finally catching and holding Kyon's gaze. "Of course I do."
Kyon had no idea what he was meant to do now. There was nothing but affection and warmth in Koizumi's eyes other than a natural flicker of fear that Kyon knew would be evident in his own expression. It didn't matter what they'd done before, this was where things became real, concrete. Nothing would excuse this in months to come. Something fluttered in Kyon's chest as Koizumi leant forward and he waited until he could feel the esper's breath warm on his lips before he pulled away.
"You're going to get sick," he said, adopting a businesslike tone to try and hide the flushing in his cheeks. "You need to get out of those clothes."
There was a brief silence during which Kyon cringed and Koizumi fought the urge to laugh.
"They're not going to dry until the morning," he said, raising his hands to his shirt buttons obediently.
"Do you have something I can borrow?"
Kyon turned away as Koizumi began peeling the sodden material away from his skin.
"Don't be stupid," he said with a smile.
Warmth was the excuse. Even out of his clothes, Koizumi was visibly suffering from the cold and in the small student room the only logical place for him to go was the bed. The fact that Kyon joined him a moment later, leaving his only slightly damp shirt on the back of the chair, was just a detail.
With the blankets pulled up to his neck, Kyon pulled the esper towards him and wondered how he had ever considered letting this pass by. It was strange and stupid and with Haruhi around could be downright dangerous but those were also just unimportant details when compared to this.
"Are you warm enough?" he asked, wiping the few remaining beads of liquid from Koizumi's cheeks and forehead.
Koizumi said nothing, leaning towards Kyon with a tiny smile. As their lips met, Kyon let his eyes flutter closed. Koizumi's hair was cold against his forehead but that didn't matter, nor did the fact he knew there was a redhead out there somewhere waiting for a call. This was where he needed to be, after all. It was a tender kiss at first, an agreement of sorts, they way it should have started and actually could have if either of them could remember. As the kiss deepened and Kyon felt himself melting into the moment he was forced to pull away.
"You stopped smoking," he said, voice broken by breaths that were far too shallow. He didn't understand why Koizumi's smile was as bright as it was but found himself smiling back before he was pulled in for another brush of lips. He pulled away again after a moment.
"I never told you what my text message said."
"No, I suppose I forgot. What did it say?"
Ignoring the way he could barely hear over his own heartbeat, Kyon softly kissed the esper before speaking against his lips.
"Good night, Itsuki."
"Thank you," he murmured. "I think...I think that if I had realised that was from you, things wouldn't have been so...confused."
"I think that if I hadn't run out on you before, things would-"
"'Ifs are pointless really," Koizumi cut in, shifting the blame away from either of them. "Anyway, 'good night'? It's far too early to sleep."
"I suppose so," Kyon whispered.
This time, Kyon made sure he could remember everything. Each touch, each kiss, each murmured word and hesitant smile. He pushed all logic away, letting the heat envelop him and burn each moment into his memory. It didn't matter that it had taken him so long to agree to giving in to this. All that mattered was that Koizumi's skin was warm, his kisses gentle and his smiles genuine. That combination and the molten electricity running through his nerves was enough to stop Kyon from questioning his decision, even for a moment.
The rain still falling outside sang them to sleep, limbs entangled well enough to prevent either from leaving even if they had wanted to.
The insistent buzzing of a phone set to silent broke through the still morning.
Koizumi fell out of the bed with a groan, having been waving an arm vaguely in the direction of his jeans for a few minutes to no avail. Kyon turned over to watch him stumble across the room to find the offending device. The peaceful atmosphere of the night endured as he watched the esper struggle with pockets, hair tousled and neck marked in a mildly embarrassing way.
Kyon's sense of embarrassment increased sharply as Koizumi finally answered his phone and the reality of the morning sunk in.
"Asahina-san, good morning."
The girl's voice was frantic enough for Kyon to pick up as Koizumi returned and nestled back under the sheets.
"...have you been? Neither you nor Kyon-kun have been answering my calls since last night. Has something happened?"
"Mm," Koizumi agreed vaguely, taking hold of one of Kyon's wrists and draping an arm over himself. "I suppose you could say that."
"Please tell me about it, Koizumi-kun. I've been so worried recently, and Kyon-kun looked really anxious last night too..."
"There's no need to worry. Both Kyon and I are fine. He can tell you himself."
Before he had time to prepare, a phone was thrust at his face and Kyon managed to stutter an agreement before it was snatched away.
"Huh?" Asahina's confusion was almost palpable. "But why...why is he..."
"We're together," Koizumi said simple.
"Yes, you'd have to be for him to speak but..."
Kyon could picture her expression during the long moments of silence that followed. His expression must have been horrified as Koizumi shot him a weak smile that invited Kyon to trust his motives. Asahina knew almost everything else, it seemed. Kyon supposed it couldn't hurt but it didn't make it any less mortifying.
"Oh," she said at length. "Oh, I...I didn't think Kyon-kun..."
"Neither did I," he mumbled into the pillow, glad Asahina couldn't hear.
"I'm happy that you sorted things out but what about Suzumiya-san?"
Koizumi caught Kyon's eye and his smile faded. Not willing to let Haruhi ruin the long-awaited moment of certainty he had been struggling for, Kyon raised a hand to Koizumi's cheek and offered a smile that was more gentle than anything he'd have thought himself capable of that early in the morning. Koizumi closed his eyes and sighed.
"Please keep this a secret for now, Asahina-san. I know that...well, I understand. I'll work something out so please do not trouble yourself about it."
"If you're sure."
Asahina sounded worried still but Kyon knew he could trust her. It struck him that, out of all of them, she had possibly been the most aware of what was going on, even if she didn't realise it. It was sinful that he'd let that happen to dear, sweet Asahina. From now on, he'd have to work things out for himself.
"But, Koizumi-kun..." she continued. "You and Kyon-kun...you'll be all right, won't you?"
Kyon closed his eyes as Koizumi claimed his lips in a swift and silent kiss, holding the phone away from the bed. He waited for a moment after drawing away, watching Kyon closely as if expecting him to move away. When he didn't, he closed his eyes with a grin.
"Yes," he said, bringing the phone back to his ear and resting his forehead against Kyon's. "I think we'll be fine."
A/N: it amuses me that so many people though Koizumi was going to end up in the nightclub. I vut that scene in a baaaad place.
Anyway...apologies first for the not-brilliant ending. I can never seem to pull off happy endings but I hope this was good enough for you all. Also, more apologies for the lateness. This is the last time I plan a oneshot and then agree to make it multi-chaptered. XD I shall be writing more for this pairing though, I think. But short things. Nice, short, uncomplicated things.
So much love and my eternal thanks to everyone who reviewed. So many kind words. I feel rather special.
This fanfiction completed using the following motivations: Katy/MySapphireEyes and her anger, piles of cute Itsukyon fanart and the song Kiseki by Daisuke Ono and Hiroshi Kamiya. My thanks to these things also.