The very first part of Yata Misaki that Fushimi Saruhiko touched was his forehead.
It happened in the stupidest way possible – as usual, Misaki would walk around playing his video games, his head lowered so he could focus on the game screen and nothing more. He never bumped on anyone, and everyone tried not to bump on him, unless they wanted to hear some angry shouting. But, on that particular day, something quite hard bumped with all force against his forehead.
"What the hell?!" He raised his face, angry eyes meeting the owner of the shoulder who just collided with him. It was a skinny boy a few inches taller than him, eyes half-hidden by a pair of thick-framed glasses.
"I'm sorry" the boy muttered, and tried to get away as quickly as he could. Misaki would have tried to stop him, if he hadn't noticed a small group of boys laughing at them. He knew those guys – their favorite sport was bullying the nerdy kids.
Like the one who just bumped on him.
Of course. No one would accidentally collide against a person with such force. Judging by how messy the glasses' kid uniform was, he was probably being harassed by those damn punks.
"Hold on a sec!" Misaki shouted at the boys, making a few students flinch. "You losers did this, didn't you? You threw that guy on me."
The taller boy of the group smirked.
"So what, shorty? Are you going to bite us or wh-"
The phrase was cut off by Misaki's fists meeting teeth, skin and blood. A few students ran away from the scene, others started to scream in excitement as the other kids jumped to help their wounded friend against the short ginger-haired boy.
Saruhiko watched everything in silence, slowly massaging his shoulder and mentally cheering for that angry short kid.
The second time wasn't so different.
Misaki was that kind of student whose school material was nothing more than a single pen, which means that losing that one pen could be quite troublesome, especially because he had no friends to lend him one, and no wish of buying a new pen.
That's why he was still in the classroom even though his classes were already over, crouching on the floor in order to find his lost belongings. He was busy checking under the third chair next to the wall, almost perfectly hidden in the shadows formed by the sunset's light coming through the window, when someone opened the door in a quite violent way.
From his position, Misaki saw nothing but a pair of shoes marching in his direction – probably one of those dedicated students who stayed after school hours were over for club activities.
For his annoyance, the guy's seat was exactly the one he was under.
"Tch. Stupid teacher." He heard an angry yet contained voice above his head while the student retrieved his bag without noticing Misaki. "I should just quit this goddamn school."
Well, that line of thought was something that Misaki could respect.
At some point, the guy kicked the chair out of annoyance while clicking his tongue, accidentally kicking Misaki's head in the process.
A muffled sound of pain came from the ground.
"Huh?" The student's eyes widened when he noticed that there was something – wait, someone – under his chair.
"Did you really need to kick that goddamn chair?" An angry Misaki rose up from the ground, his left hand resting on his head.
"What were you doing down there?" The other boy asked calmly, ignoring Misaki's question.
"I was busy trying to find my fucking pen until you kicked my head-"
The taller student sighed.
"Why would your pen be under my seat? You don't even seat close to me."
"Well, I have to look everywhere, okay?! I already checked the entire classroom, but-" His eyes widened as he studied the face of the other boy more carefully. "Hey, you're the nerdy guy from the other day!"
Saruhiko clicked his tongue.
"I'd rather you didn't call me like that."
"Well, you should've used this sharp tongue of yours with those jerks too! I heard you complaining about the school just now."
There was a brief moment of silence that Saruhiko used to glare at the boy in front of him, brows furrowed in annoyance. Then, he opened his bag, grabbed the first pen he saw and tossed it at Misaki's hand.
"Here" he said.
"Wha-? But that's not my pen-"
"You said you already checked the entire room, right?" He sighed. "You won't find it. You can have this one, I don't care."
Misaki analyzed the object between his hands, surprised at how much cooler that pen was when compared to his old pen.
Well, not everyone in that school was a goddamn jerk, after all.
"Thank you, uh… what's your name again?"
The other student was already at the door.
"Oh, right! Thank you! I'm-"
"Huh? How the hell-" Misaki flinched.
There was a smirk on Saruhiko's face.
"You're a popular guy, perhaps?" And he disappeared through the doorway.
Yata Misaki still didn't know much about Fushimi Saruhiko, but he sure knew that guy wasn't a boring piece of shit like many others in that building.
A semester later, they managed to seat next to each other.
Things were easier like that. Whenever the teacher looked in their direction while Misaki was taking a nap, Saruhiko would always carefully poke Misaki in the head in order to wake him up.
Slowly, the sensation of Saruhiko's fingertip brushing against his head became a familiar touch.
Quickly, they became best friends.
There were many things about that school that Misaki and Saruhiko hated with a passion, and school projects were definitely one of them, especially when working in groups was required.
This time, however, things weren't so bad. Their sociology teacher asked them to build a mock-up of any particular area of Shizume City according to their vision, including their point of view about the interaction of the population with that ambient on a small written report. They were allowed to work in pairs, and so they did, both occupied while making small cardboard cutouts for their project. Their class was noisy, and they had to sit closer in order to be able to hear each other's words without screaming like the rest of the class was doing.
Their project was a little different, though – the teacher wanted them to express their point of view of the city through their representation, and that's why they'd add their own personal touch, maybe even including a few cardboard monsters in the process.
Saruhiko was trying to find the cardboard version of the Sword of Damocles that Misaki made a few minutes ago, but he had no success, given how messy their workspace was. He raised his head to ask Misaki about it when he noticed something entangled on the other boy's hair.
"Hey, mind giving me your sword for a moment, King?" He asked in a mocking tone, his hand retrieving the cardboard cutout from Misaki's hair and slowly brushing against his head.
They stared at each other for a few seconds and started to laugh.
"Are we really going to do it?"
It was early in the morning, and the two boys were standing in front of a small yet elegant building. They had never been on a bar before, and they never thought about being inside one.
But this wasn't an ordinary bar.
"We have to do it!" The excitement was evident on Misaki's voice. "It's our best chance!"
"I know, but…" Saruhiko seemed hesitant. "Aren't you nervous?"
"Nervous? Nervous?" The tension made Misaki's voice a little louder than his already loud usual tone. "Are you kidding me?! I couldn't even sleep!"
They shared an anxious look, and Saruhiko quickly noticed that Misaki was a thousand times more excited and nervous than he was.
"Hey, calm down." He frowned at Misaki's messy hair. "And what's up with your hair? It looks like you haven't even brushed it."
There was a weak pink tone on Misaki's cheeks when he confessed:
"Well, I haven't. I just wanted to come here as soon as we could-"
Saruhiko clicked his tongue, and he tried to fix his friend's hair using his fingers.
"Honestly, Misaki, what's wrong with you? You can't expect them to accept you when you walk around with this bed hair."
"Wha-?! They're not going to judge us by our looks, I'm sure!"
But he didn't try to put Saruhiko's hands away from his head.
A pained sound came from the door, startling Saruhiko and Totsuka.
"Oh, you guys are back!" Totsuka smiled at the sight of a wounded yet happy Misaki accompanied by Kamamoto. "How was it?"
"We did the job, but this guy got a few scratches-"
"I'm telling ya I'm fine!" Misaki said, almost laughing and failing to see Kamamoto raising an eyebrow at his bloody forehead.
"What happened to your head?" Saruhiko asked in an apprehensive tone while walking towards his friend.
"Oh, they tried to hit me a few times, but I'm okay!" He pointed at his bruised forehead. "More importantly, Saruhiko, you should've gone with us! You should've seen what I did! Those guys couldn't stand a chance against us!"
"Tch. You say it like it's a good thing. Look at yourself, there are bruises everywhere." Saruhiko's fingers managed to put Misaki's bangs away from his forehead, and he quickly examined his bruises and wounds with an annoyed look. "Do we have any clean bandages around here, Totsuka-san?"
"I believe there are a few remaining in the second floor, I'll go check for you guys." Totsuka smiled before turning to the stairs.
"Ouch! Don't touch it, it still hurts!" Misaki complained when Saruhiko placed his fingers around his bruises.
"That's what you get for being reckless."
"I wasn't reckless! It was Kamamoto's fault!"
"Huh?!" Kamamoto tried to defend himself. "Yata-san, don't blame me! You're the one who went ahead-"
"That was because you're too slow- ouch!" Misaki groaned when Saruhiko gave his head a soft pat. "I'm already hurt, what the hell do you want to do, split my head in two?!"
"I'll do it next time you do this kind of shit." Saruhiko said in a cold tone, but his fingers started to gently caress the bruises on the boy's forehead.
It's been twelve minutes and eight seconds since they reunited on Homra's counter, and it's been twelve minutes and eight seconds since Yata Misaki had started a conversation with the Red King, Suoh Mikoto.
For twelve minutes and eight seconds, Fushimi Saruhiko had been staring at the back of the head of his best friend and counting the seconds out of boredom.
That wasn't the first time that Saruhiko felt horribly bored, but he wasn't used to it. Being bored became something weird for him since he met Yata Misaki, but, lately, the boredom was coming back as quickly as Misaki was drifting away from him.
Honestly, he couldn't understand it. What was so interesting about that gang of hoodlums? He used to think that Homra would make his life more interesting, but that wasn't true. The only thing that has ever made his life more exciting was sitting a few meters away from him, talking to a King that Saruhiko didn't really appreciate.
Slowly, he extended his arm, fingers reaching out to ginger hair.
Misaki turned around with a slightly annoyed expression when he felt the familiar fingertip brushing against his head.
"What is it, Saruhiko? We can talk later."
We can talk later.
"It's nothing. Sorry."
It's been a week since Fushimi Saruhiko left Homra, and Misaki couldn't feel more hurt and betrayed.
It's been a week since his days became longer and darker, a week full of resentment and emptiness.
It's been a week since he started to wear a beanie, trying to convince himself that it made him look cooler when all he really wanted was to use it to get rid of the familiar sensation of those fingertips brushing against the top of his head, hair and forehead.
After years guiding them, after the best years of Misaki's life, the Red King was dead.
It pained Misaki in the same way that it pained Kamamoto Rikio, Eric Sutr, Chitose Yo and many others – including Fushimi Saruhiko, now a small blue mark in the middle of the snow.
They glanced at each other and said nothing.
There were unshed tears resting on Misaki's eyelids, but Saruhiko's eyes were dry – it's been so long since he left that he felt out of place, in the middle of the people who once were his comrades and now hated him.
But the one who claimed to hate him the most approached slowly, looking for a bit of red in his blueness.
Saruhiko's hand found its familiar position on Misaki's head, resting his fingers against his beanie.
The gesture only made Misaki cry harder.
"Aren't you cold?"
Misaki turned around to look at his old friend. They were all alone in the Homra bar, and the lights were off. Most of the furniture was covered by white sheets, and the atmosphere would be terrifying to the shorter boy if it wasn't for Saruhiko pacing around.
"You're not wearing your beanie."
Misaki raised an eyebrow at Saruhiko.
"I don't wear it all the time. Besides, I don't feel like wearing it." He took a sip of his hot cocoa before asking: "What about you? You're not wearing your fancy SCEPTER 4 jacket-thing."
"I thought that coming here while wearing my 'SCEPTER 4 jacket-thing' would make you uncomfortable."
Silence fell between them, and Saruhiko took a seat next to Misaki in the bar. The counter was a bit dusty, and Saruhiko almost expected to see Kusanagi smiling at them at the other side, but it was empty.
"I can't believe it's all over." Misaki muttered in a defeated tone. "This place… this is like my home, you know."
Their conversation died again, and Misaki placed his empty mug on the counter. They stared at each other's eyes, and it was both amazing and scary to notice that, after all that they went through, their eyes were still connected in the same way of their middle-school selves – maybe they were more bitter, maybe more tired, but their connection was equally strong.
"Saruhiko. What should I do?"
Saruhiko put his hands on their favorite place – Misaki's head. He brought himself closer to the shorter boy, fingers trembling when he placed a quick kiss on his forehead.
"You still have me."
There were a few moments of silence, before a muffled answer came from Misaki:
"I didn't ask for a kiss on the forehead, ya know."
Saruhiko chuckled lightly.
"You wouldn't ask for one even if you really wanted it."
No matter how many years passed, some things between them would never change.
That was enough for both of them to notice that they were stuck with each other for the rest of their lives, and this wasn't a bad thing.