I've returned from the dead and I apologize for keeping the readers waiting.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are property of the author of this story. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any previously copyrighted material. No copyright infringement is intended.

Who I Am

Chapter 17: Hate

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."

― Martin Luther King Jr., A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches

As Misaki's back made contact with the ground he bit down on his lip to silence a terrified scream from escaping.

The fall left him hurting and a bit disoriented, but otherwise still alive. A pained gasp slipped past his lips as he mentally took into account all of the injured areas. The throb in his back from landing on the stairs, an aching head after making contact with the railing, and he was positive the right side of his body was bruised. Thankfully nothing seemed to be broken, but he was pretty sure the stars dancing in front of his eyes shouldn't have been visible in the first place.

For a minute the brunette didn't move. His head felt like there was a drum inside it, pounding away.

Trying to ignore the pain the college student rose to a sitting position. He tasted blood. Both hands held his aching head as he stared at the ground in stunned silence.

Did he really just get shoved down a flight of stairs? Did it really happen?

Shaky arms wrapped around his pathetic self wishing they belonged to another. The angry aura Katsuo gave off was long gone, but it brought Misaki no comfort. The blonds' temporary departure meant nothing. He would be back. The look in his eyes said he meant business.

The brunette pressed the palms of his hands into his eyes, staring into the darkness. This wasn't happening. Why when he thought everything was going to get better did things only seem to get worse?

Katsuo's threats were not to be taken lightly. The damage the blond could do was devastating. Not even the threat Misaki threatened the blond with could keep him away for long.

This was only the beginning of something awful… and Misaki had never felt so helpless before.

Monday morning an alarm sounded in Usami Akihiko's room. The sleeping figures sharing a bed were awoken to its insistent call that they get up.

Usami's long arm reached over and knocked the poor device off the ledge in an attempt to silence it. The alarm stubbornly continued to beep.

"Usagi-san…" Misaki yawned, unable to ignore the alarm any longer. "It's still beeping."

The man yawned and pulled Misaki closer. The brunette mentally shook his head at the older man's actions, but a small smile still graced his face. The warmth coming from the older man made it increasingly difficult to stay awake and after the six grueling weeks of Kamijou work Misaki wanted nothing more than to sleep in. Still, his responsibilities came first if he ever wanted to succeed in this lifetime and unfortunately for Usagi-san that meant he still needed to get out of bed and ready for school.

Even if going back to school means you might run into Katsuo, Misaki's mind whispered cruelly. Misaki stiffened at the thought. He sighed, wishing he could stay home another few days. Thinking about the blond brought back all the guilt he pushed away throughout the weekend.

"Why are you so tense?" Usami asked. Misaki could feel the man's face pressed against the space in between his shoulder blades.

"Nothing," Misaki lied.

"Would it have anything to do with Watanabe-kun?"

"No," Misaki replied, knowing the author would recognize the lie anyway. "Let's not talk about him today. Ah…don't you have a BL novel due today?"

"Are you suddenly interested in my BL novels?" Usami asked. Misaki could already feel the man's hand wandering under the covers.

Okay, it was time to make his escape.

Using a new tactic Misaki rolled away from the man right out of bed and on top of the beeping alarm.

"Ouch!" Misaki yelped, eyes watering. "Usagi-san!"

"If my Misaki only stayed in bed he wouldn't have landed on the alarm clock."

"You're the one who knocked it over in the first place!" the brunette countered. He lifted himself off the now broken alarm clock, pieces sticking to his skin.

"Hmm, it seems to have stopped beeping."

"Great, now I'll have to buy another one."

The brunette pulled on a shirt lying around on the ground trying to ignore the shirtless man gazing at him from the bed. After cleaning all the pieces from the carpet Misaki made a beeline for the door in case the author tried to stop him.

"Misaki, don't go to school today." Misaki turned around to give the author a quizzical expression. Misaki wouldn't put it past the eccentric man to try and keep him from school, but something in the man's voice kept the brunette from leaving. He was staring at him intently from the bed; blanket draped over his lower half. If his gaze had been heated Misaki would have paid no mind, but Usami's stare was so serious it kept the brunette in place.

"I have a bad feeling about today," the author confessed. "Call it a premonition or unease with the thought of you walking out that door today... Don't leave me."

"Don't worry about me," Misaki said brushing Usami's concern aside. "I'll be fine."

"Telling me not to worry about you is like telling me to quit smoking. It's impossible." Misaki rolled his eyes at the statement, but otherwise ignored the author's concerns.

"…I need to get ready for school and you- you need to finish your novel."

Without another word the brunette left the author alone. The man wrapped himself further in the blankets as if trying to sooth the worrisome thoughts away.

The love they shared Friday night was wonderful along with the peaceful weekend that followed, but the events that played out before his lover returned home remained a mystery. Usami stared up at the ceiling trying to make sense of it all.

He was quite aware something had transpired between Misaki and Katsuo ending their friendship as abruptly as it started (not that he had any problems with that). Still, it worried the author, especially with the way his young lover continued to avoid the issue or decline to share his thoughts about the matter.

Additionally Misaki seemed dead set on keeping up the lie that he was involved in the Kamijou incident six weeks ago. Didn't he realize that defending Katsuo would allow room for that little delinquent to cause more trouble for him?

The whole situation tired Usami out just thinking about it.

Trying not to think about it further the author decided not to press the issue. When Misaki was ready to talk about it he would talk about it. Usami felt no immediate need to force the brunette to tell him anything. That tactic would get him nowhere. All Usami could do was take it a day at a time and hope Misaki would eventually come to him about the problems occurring around him.

For now, the brunette appeared at ease and all Usami wanted was for the dark circles under his lover's eyes to go away. Everything would settle itself eventually. There was no use worrying over every little thing.

The distinct sound of the shower stirred Usami from his thoughts. The blanket was eagerly tossed aside. One warm blanket did not possess the ability to sooth his soul like being with Misaki did.

Unable to waste the opportunity the author got out of bed to join his unsuspecting lover in the shower.

Upon arriving at the university Misaki speed walked to reach Kamijou-sensei's class. They may not have been on the best of terms even if his punishment had been lifted, but Misaki would prefer to not get on his professor's bad side by showing up to class late.

He needed to make it up to his teacher and Nowaki-sensei. A terrible guilt still remained in Misaki's belly for lying to Usagi-san, Kamijou-sensei, and Nowaki-sensei, but he made a decision and planned on sticking to it. This time he was in control and nothing could-

"Ah!" he yelped as he was sent barreling forward.

His head spun around to see an outstretched foot, the reason behind his fall. Misaki brushed it off as an accident and hurried to Kamijou-sensei's class.

As the brunette made his way to his class he found it difficult to enter. Students piled into the classroom bumping shoulders, almost sending the brunette spiraling to the ground a couple times.

"Ex-Excuse me!"

Finally breaking free from the tide of students Misaki let out a relieved breath. He purposefully avoided letting his gaze wander to the higher seats and made his way to his own seat with a relieved sigh.

"Did you hear?"

"Really?! No way… That's so gross!"

Misaki tuned out the pair of girls chattering off to his side and waited patiently, pulling out his notes and a couple writing utensils.

"Well he is always by himself… never a girlfriend…"The girl's voices lowered to a whisper.

"Makes sense…remember the report he did…"

"Watanabe-san said… that guy, Misaki Takahashi…" The last butchered comment caught the brunette's attention. Hearing his and Katsuo's name in the same sentence put Misaki on edge. He bravely ignored the gossip behind him as Kamijou-sensei made his entrance putting a halt to all talking at once. His eyes briefly met Misaki's, giving the younger a curt nod of acknowledgement before beginning his lesson. Relief flooded Misaki's system. The small subtle greeting set his mind at ease wonderfully. At least Kamijou-sensei wasn't glaring at him anymore.

"I hope you all had a good weekend," Kamijou-sensei stated sarcastically letting his eyes roam over the class. "Today we'll be going over the reading which should have been completed during that time along with the analysis essay."

Misaki bit his lip excitedly tugging out a neat stapled essay and the book the class was going over. It was the first time Misaki could honestly say he was confident with his work. Partly his preparation had to do with all the work loaded on him, but either way it felt nice to feel confident about the work lying in front of him.

From behind students passed their essays down. Misaki took them wordlessly and taped them once on the table to organize them neatly. He froze at the one paper lying atop of the pile. In big black jagged letters was the word:


Beneath the words was a crudely drawn picture of what Misaki assumed to be himself in a very inappropriate position with another unknown person. The picture was decorated in colorful flowers and various comments scribbled around it.

Misaki's face flushed a dark red. He quickly tore the paper off the top and crumpled it in his palm. He stuffed the offending piece of paper into his pocket just as Kamijou-sensei came around to collect the stack of papers.

Misaki's hand was still wrapped around the offending piece of paper. His hands shook under the table and the paper burned the skin of his palm. The heat licked up his hand past his arm and over his elbow. It crawled straight into his heart where it sent the beating organ into overdrive.

I should have known something like this would happen, Misaki thought. He pulled the hand out of his pocket like it was a snake and kept focus on the lecture ahead of him. For the briefest second Misaki thought he heard someone laughing from above.

"Shut it up there!" Kamijou roared tossing a piece of chalk at the offender. So, someone was laughing at him.

The class went on without another incident, but internally Misaki could feel rage boiling beneath the surface. From the number of comments on the paper it was clear that Katsuo had already summoned enough people to take part in prank. Misaki wasn't going to stand for it. Not anymore.

Misaki didn't realize exactly how many people were exactly being misled by the blond until Misaki stepped out of class.

The first thing he was met with was a cup of someone's leftover orange juice. The brunette stiffened as the sticky liquid dripped from his hair and soaked into his shirt. Laughter boomed from behind and Misaki spun around facing a familiar face Misaki couldn't put a name to.

"Oh, Masahiko-kun, you're so mean," a girl giggled at the man's side.

The name allowed a bell to ring in Misaki's head. He'd met this man before. The tall blond with hair to his shoulders and the slightly upturned nose was a friend of Katsuo.

Of course he was…

Masahiko raised his smirked haughtily and lightly tossed the empty container at Misaki's head. The cup bounced off his head and onto the floor where it rolled a few feet away. Misaki gnashed his teeth together.

Letting his temper get a hold of him was uncharacteristic of the brunette, but watching Masahiko stare at him like he was the scum of the earth. Perhaps the worst part about it was the crowd of faceless students observing the exchange. They stayed for a second then pulled away the next. No one cared about Masahiko's cruel treatment of the brunette. No one was going to do anything.

Masahiko flipped a few locks of hair behind his shoulder, ready to leave. A hand gripped onto the man's elbow. Masahiko sent an annoyed glare towards the short pest before him.

"Don't wrinkle my silk shirt," Masahiko said warily tugging his arm from Misaki's hold.

"Where is Watanabe-san," Misaki breathed. His green eyes locked onto Masahiko's. It further infuriated the brunette to see the tall man watch him with a hint of amusement. There was nothing funny about the situation.

"You want Katsuo-kun," Masahiko laughed lowly. "Everyone wants him. I'm positive you want him the most." Misaki's stare narrowed and Masahiko let a hand lazily brush through the locks of blond hair, unfazed and unconcerned.

He rolled his eyes. "Follow me then. He's waiting for you."

Misaki followed cautiously. Glancing behind he noticed a few spectators trail behind, hoping for a good show or perhaps a fight to break out. Misaki sighed.

Masahiko was right. Katsuo was waiting for them.

The blond was surrounded by other individuals laughing wildly at something he said. Misaki frowned, already able to see the artificiality from the group as easily as detecting the moon in a sea of night. Their voices fell in volume as Masahiko and Misaki approached them although the laughing never ceased in the slightest.

"Oh, look everyone it's my admirer," Katsuo stated meeting Misaki's stare head on. His comment was rewarded with a few snickers, but no one else mattered anymore.

It was the first time Misaki had seen Katsuo since the disintegration of their friendship. It may have been two days, but Katsuo didn't look so good. Seeing him under the sun made his dark roots more prominent. The blond had been failing to dye his hair letting it revert back to his original hair color thickening at the top.

Katsuo's eyes were slightly bloodshot and bags hung beneath dark orbs. The blond wasn't getting enough sleep. Misaki wasn't surprised. He did lose his grandfather. That type of incident wouldn't disappear overnight.

"Watanabe-san," Misaki greeted tersely. "Can we talk?"

"Sure," Katsuo dragged out slowly. "We can talk all you want, Takahashi-kun. Let's talk." The blond leaned back against the table in a relaxed position. His eyes challenged the brunette, giving him the chance to speak first. Misaki's eyes took in the unnecessary number of people around them.

"Privately." Katsuo rolled his eyes.

"Hear that guys, he wants to talk to me in private." The brunette expected the blond to decline, but was both pleased and secretly fearful when Katsuo rose. He walked past Misaki and turned back to motion for the brunette to follow.

"Come, Takahashi-san let's talk." The way Katsuo's last sentence rang out put the brunette on edge. The word held a lot more emotion the farther they moved from the crowd. Red flags raised in Misaki's head, but he ignored them.

Katsuo led them up a staircase away from prying eyes and to the second floor, stopping as he reached the top. The blond let his back hit the wall casually crossing one leg over the other. Misaki gulped and stepped forward.

"I want you to stop picking on me."

Katsuo burst into laughter for a minute.

"I haven't touched you."

"You're the one who started the rumors," Misaki pointed out angrily. Katsuo smiled softly never letting his stare fall from the brunette's face.

"Perhaps," he said, "but why are you so upset Takahashi-san? They were little pranks? Harmless." Misaki tore a white piece of paper from his pocket opening it up so the blond could see it.

"This- This is not a harmless little prank!" he said pointing at the cruel writing.

"It's true though, right?" Misaki froze in place, not liking the knowing look Katsuo was giving him. The blond acted like he knew everything. No… He didn't know anything. He didn't know about that.

"No!" Misaki denied harshly, face darkening with color. Katsuo took a step forward. The sudden movement almost coaxed Misaki back a step, but he forced himself to stay still.

"Are you sure about that?" Katsuo asked taking another step forward. The brunette's face wavered for a second, suddenly unsure.

He doesn't know!

"Are you sure you're not like that? Not with -" Katsuo placed a thoughtful hand on his chin. "- your precious Usagi-san."

Misaki's entire being shook and this time he did take a step back.

He doesn't know!

"O-Of course not," Misaki bit back nervously.

"Oh, really," Katsuo laughed. "Well, then something must be wrong with my eyes and I really didn't see you bent over on the couch moaning like a girl while your landlord plowed into you from behind."

Misaki took many steps back so he was against the other wall, trapped. He felt like a caged animal. Humiliation. Horror. Shame. They burned bright within the college student. Knowing that Katsuo had seen that… That Katsuo heard and knew and saw everything!

No, no, no, no, no!

"Really, learn to close your doors properly." The blond was closer, eyes boring holes into the brunette's soul. "Who knows what could happen with such scandalous information? The press would eat this up. Usami Akihiko, famous author, having se -"

"Shut up!" Misaki all but screamed. He was shaking like a leaf, breaths leaving his mouth fast and shallow. His eyes were wide horrified saucers.

Katsuo appeared unfazed by the outburst. "Oh, and let's not forget dear sensei, either. The school can't fire him for being gay, but imagine the fun everyone will have once they hear that Kamijou-sensei likes to take it up the ass…just…like…you."

Misaki could feel traitor tears filling up his eyes. It felt like someone had closed their hand around his throat preventing any words from escaping. This had to be a bad nightmare. How did the tables turn on him so quickly? How? How? How?!

Everything was spinning. Misaki thought he would faint, but Katsuo's hand on his shoulder kept him steady. They'd only been talking for a few minutes. Katsuo already possessed the upper hand while Misaki felt completely powerless. No, he had some power! He wouldn't allow Katsuo to do this to him anymore.

"I-I'll tell them," Misaki choked out pathetically. "About what you did to Kamijou-sensei and Nowaki-sensei." A second hand landed on Misaki's shoulder pulling the brunette close so Katsuo's mouth lingered at his ear. "You won't say shit," Katsuo hissed. The fingers at his shoulder dug into Misaki's clothed skins revealing the blonds' true demeanor under his cool smile.

"What… What do you want from me?" Misaki asked bitterly. Katsuo released his hold on the brunette pushing him back against the wall and away from him. That creepy smile was back hiding Katsuo's earlier hostility with ease.

"I want you gone," Katsuo stated. Misaki's eyes widened. "Not like in dead, but gone from this school. I don't want to see your face again."

"I can't!" Misaki exclaimed. "I worked so hard to get into this school. Graduation is right around the corner."

"You can do it. You will do it or else I'm going to ruin everyone." The threat lingered in the air heavily. It floated around Misaki repeating itself in his head over and over again.

The blond turned to leave, seeming finished saying what he had to, but Misaki was far from finished. Misaki pulled Katsuo back. The brunette's face was deathly pale, but his eyes were strong and steady. He sucked in a breath of fresh air claiming his heart and clearing his mind. Panicking would not solve anything.

"Don't do this," he finally said. "This is between you and me…and you're acting childishly." Katsuo eyed him narrowly but didn't pull away. "I won't be pushed around."

"I can act however I please."

"Don't do this," Misaki implored.

"Ha! And why not? What's stopping me? Why shouldn't I do it?!" Katsuo roared.

In the smallest voice, so low Katsuo almost didn't catch it Misaki said, "Because I'm the only one who cares."

It was deathly quiet in the second floor hallway. The two college students were staring right at each other. Misaki's eyes were pleading and sad while Katsuo's remained blank. An incredulous look crossed the blonds' features.

Then all hell broke loose.

Katsuo's face twisted with fury. His eyes were burning and hands shaking. He let out a loud animalistic roar and lunged at the brunette.

Both hands wrapped themselves around the brunette's neck. Misaki's eyes widened fearfully. His hands clawed at the blonds' hands squeezing his airways. He could still breathe, but the tight hold didn't make it an easy task. They stumbled back so Misaki's feet teetered dangerously close to the top of the staircase.

"You don't care!" Katsuo screamed. "If you cared you wouldn't have abandoned me! Who leaves their best friend after he just loses his grandfather? Who does that? You dirty bastard… Misaki, you comforted me. Took me to the movies and bought me ice cream. Then you tore a goddamn hole in my chest! You. Don't. Care." Katsuo's face was so close to Misaki's terrified one. Misaki couldn't tell who was shaking, him or Katsuo.

"I said I was sorry. I begged you not to go. Oh, I hate you." Katsuo's voice wavered near the end. It sounded like the blond was going to cry, but his grip on the brunette's neck tightened."I hate you." Katsuo's voice grew in volume. "I hate you!" Misaki held onto the blond for dear life afraid to fall and afraid of the blond.

"You're going to pay, Misaki," Katsuo vowed. "If you think I was nasty before just you wait. I'll make you hate me. I'll take that little bit of compassion you have for me and shove it right back down your throat. Until you disappear nothing will be okay." Katsuo's breathing evened out. The shaking subsided and he let his eyes harden. Nothing but hate could be found in those brown eyes.

The anger seemed to disappear as tranquility washed over Katsuo.

"Leave Mitsuhashi University, Takahashi-san. Just disappear." Misaki barely had time to register what the blond said because one second he was on his feet and the next he was being thrown back. For a second their eyes met, but that Katsuo Misaki once knew was dead. He was gone.

And for the briefest second as his body flew through the air Misaki truly did hate him.

Once again, I apologize for such the long wait. School and life in general kept me very busy, but I hope you all like this chapter which I finally got around to finishing. Thank you for continuous support and reviews. My story is far from finished and there's no way I would dream of discontinuing it. It's much to fun and almost therapeutic to write.

Next chapter were bringing in Sumi!

Also thank you to those who voted in my poll and that decided on the question who wears the best poker face in Junjou Romantica. So far the one with the highest number of votes is Haruhiko Usami with 4, second place is Akihiko Usami (Usagi-san) with 3, and to my surprise Sumi with only 1. Thank you!