Shinji found it amusing that a guy like Saijo – whom everyone seemed to revere as being the incarnation of cool – would succumb to a subject as simple as math. The fact that he had chosen to come to Shinji for assistance was amazing in itself. Not that he particularly minded, of course.

On the other hand, Atsuki Saijo was finding it slightly awkward how frequently Shinji's hand was starting to come into contact with his.

Slim, gentle fingers caressed the back of his hand absentmindedly for a moment longer. Then all movement ceased, and Shinji stopped spewing various ways to solve a function. "What do you think about . . . me?" he asked, with a touch of uncharacteristic wariness.

Atsuki was reluctant to make a reply. Without using Shinen, he found it suddenly impossible to guess what Shinji was thinking. But Sigma wasn't a toy, nor was he permitted to use it for personal reasons. It was reserved strictly for work, to save his stamina for destroying Silent, and he highly doubted this was a case of it.

Shinji was staring at him with anticipation, and he knew he couldn't keep the smaller boy waiting for much longer. "I think you're . . . cool," he said finally.

It was unnerving how those deep, childish eyes could bore holes into his flesh like that. Yet he thought he saw them waver for a moment as he finished speaking.

"Cool?" Shinji repeated.

There was the waver again. It was fleeting, but Atsuki was sure he wasn't just imagining things. And now he was equally on-edge. "Yes . . ."

"So . . . just 'cool'? That's it, right?"

"Yes, Shinji . . . That's it."

The smaller boy let out a curt, bitter laugh. "You're just as cold as everyone says you are, Saijo. But I like that about you." He wasn't ready to face the denial yet, so Shinji took up that face for himself.

Meanwhile, Atsuki was left to puzzle over the genius's odd behavior. He tilted his head slightly, trying to make sense of what Shinji was talking about. He was detached, but only because he needed to be. It was necessary for his job. Yet this tiny, annoying boy seemed to be the only one picking up on it. The only one he was paranoid enough to suspect knowing differently than the others, anyway.

"You just don't get it, do you, Saijo? Look. I can spell it out for you, if that's what you want."

". . . Sure."

He still didn't understand, but he was already beginning to regret taking up the offer. He'd come here to complete his math homework – which the authorities at Fort would surely be annoyed over – not to play mind games with Shinji.

"All right. You're a very cold person, Saijo. Very impersonal. But . . . I kind of like that about you."

Was that a blush beginning to erupt on his face? Shinji adverted his gaze and continued:

"I wouldn't want it any other way, you know? If you were someone who was always . . . more caring . . . you'd just be getting in my way . . . okay?"

It was. Atsuki felt the blood draining from his face as he suddenly realized where this was going.

"So I think . . . maybe we should . . . give 'us' a chance?"

Shyly, Shinji glanced back up at him, only to have the common sense knocked back into him upon seeing his crush's ghostly expression. "Oh, shit, I'm sorry! I-I really should have . . ."

"I can't.
"Look, I understand if you don't like it that way. Um, boys, I mean. Truthfully, I don't really either and this is just sort of a special case and–"

"Sorry, Shinji. I just can't."

It wasn't a matter of whether he liked boys or girls – or both, or none, for that matter. It was work, what he did in life. The countless people he'd have to leave behind, the friendships and promises he'd have to break. It wore down on a person after a while, and it didn't make allowances for relationships, even if Fort would approve.

But for Shinji, it would just be easier to believe his affections weren't returned . . . until his mind was wiped clean, and the town forgot a boy by the name 'Atsuki Saijo' had ever existed. And then Atsuki would be forced to move on as always, bearing with him the painful memories of those he'd loved, and never had a chance with . . .

"I'm sorry, Shinji. I just can't."

It's better that you don't understand.

I don't own Lux-Pain, the game in which you can easily pair anybody with anybody.

This was written a while back. Almost a year ago. So it's rather bad. For some reason, I decided to upload it anyway . . .