It's Just Me

"Late again Kenta?" With that one simple phrase the rest of their eyes turned to me. It had been bad enough entering the silent classroom twenty minuets late.

            Without answering I slipped the teacher my late note, he grunted and ordered I take my seat. Their eyes still hadn't left me. I didn't bother looking up from my shoes as I took my seat, especially at Kazu, whose eyes I knew were locked intently on me.

            The teacher began teaching again and the burning sensation in my cheeks left. Instead it focused on the side of my head. Kazu was trying to unnerve me, trying to get me to look at him.

It worked like a charm; I removed my eyes from the desk top and looked at him. He didn't speak, at least not aloud, but I knew what he was saying. I could see the questions pending on the end of his tongue.

What's up? This is the third day in a row you've been late and you're never late for school.

Quickly I diverted my eyes; he, too, looked away. I had betrayed him again and I never meant a single moment of it.

This situation I'm in is a lot more complicated than I would like to take credit for, more complicated than Kazu seemed to notice. Of course, how could he know? He's the source of it and I'm unwilling to talk. I'm pretty sure Jeri knows, therefore Takato would know. I have no doubt in my mind Rika and Lee also know. In fact, out of everyone he seems to be the only one still clueless.

That is so like him.

Jeri is staring at me when I look up; she nods toward Kazu and frowns. I know how badly she wants everything to be wrapped up in a nice little package, for us to run off into the sunset and live happily ever after. I think she's insane.

Damn her and her lurid fantasies.

I notice Takato is staring at Kazu; they're having one of those secret eye conversations. We used to do that, until this whole damn situation began.

Did I ever mention how much I hate puberty? Damn hormones.

Yes, that's right; if you haven't figured it out already I have a humungous crush on my best friend. Sounds icky, it feels even worse.

I didn't even notice until a few days ago. I thought I'd become insomniac because instead of sleeping I'd lay there and stare at my ceiling and think of Kazu. At first it started all innocent, just thinking idly about what we were going to do after school the next day. Then that cursed part of my brain which is completely overrun by hormones starting adding to these innocent fantasies. Then… well I think you can finish that part.

Of course, the potential insomnia had worn off but in its place I've become increasingly lethargic. Imagine that, my body must be trying to catch up on all the sleep it lost. And it doesn't help one bit that this situation is getting to my head.

Yes, it had only taken a few days for this… obsession? To kick in. Jeri had noticed the next day and told everyone (excluding Kazu, only because I had explicitly asked her not to say a word to him.) and now I was the topic of all their conversation and a friendship that was supposed to last until the end of time is likely to be ruined on account of the fact that I don't know how to handle the situation.

When the bell for the next class rang I almost fell out of my chair. Where had all the class time gone?

I was starting to relish the time I spent in class more and more every day. It meant avoiding any unwanted confrontations. I was really loosing the plot wasn't I?

            "Hey Kenta what's up?" I flinched at the sound of his voice. It was so soothing, I loved it when he cared; but at the same time it made me want to kick his shins and run as far away from him as I could.

            "I-I…" I stutter when I'm nervous and he knows it. I tried my best to avoid eye contact but after moments of silence on his part I relented and glanced up at him.

            He looked betrayed beyond anything I could see there in his wide blue eyes. He had used that look so many times before, he knew how manipulative his eyes could be, and they almost worked. I wanted to pour my heart out to him no matter what the consequences; and I would have had my throat not been clogged with surprise and fear

            "You've been acting strange all week, is there something you're not telling me?" He couldn't have guessed any closer to the mark. I wanted to answer, yes there is a big something I'm not telling you and it's for a good reason too. But, again, I just started up at him, my mouth hanging open like a gold fish.

            "Hello?" He waved his hands in front of my face, "Earth to Kenta."

            "Sorry," I couldn't hold his gaze any longer; I turned and looked at the desk top. That seemed to annoy Kazu even more

            "Kenta what is up with you lately? You're usually never late to school but the last three days you've been at least twenty minuets late. And you never talk to me anymore." He grabbed the seat from his desk and dragged it over to my desk. He sat down opposite me and stared at my forehead. So softly I could barely hear him, he finished; "do you want to talk about it?"

            He sounded genuinely concerned. I blushed at the thought, I knew he could see me blushing, the whole class could probably see me blushing. It was nice to know he cared.

            I wanted to reply, tell him everything was just fine and dandy, but the bell rang again and the teacher for our next class walked in.

            "Kazu, get back into your seat."

            Kazu and I both looked up at the class rep. We knew she had a crush on Kazu and would spare nothing for a chance to talk to him, even if it meant telling him off. Kazu didn't like her because she bossed him around.

It may not have been that surprising, but I was glad.

Once we had greeted the teacher he shot straight into his horrible lecture about Alexandar the Great. Time seemed to slow to a stop, or at least pass agonizingly slow. As much as I didn't want to go out at lunch and face Kazu's questions, I didn't want to be here listening to the great accomplishments of Alexandar either. I believe, in the last three days my marks had dropped drastically. It would show on my report card, I just knew it.

Two classes later (which felt more like two or three decades, is it possible to come out of class feeling ten years older or is that just me?) lunch was upon me and Kazu wasted no time. Before I had a chance to escape he grabbed me by the arm and led me to the most secluded part of the school; the teacher's bathroom next to the reception desk.

He sat me down on the toilet lid and knelt down in front of me.

"Kenta," He started, his face deadly serious. By this point I was beyond blushing, I merely blinked down at him, "I know something is up, don't even try denying it. Just tell me, is there something going on in your family?"

Oh how I wish it were so simple, and how badly I wished to tell him the truth; but I couldn't, no matter how hard I tried the words just wouldn't come out. Why did this have to be so difficult? More to the point, why did it have to be Kazu? Of all the people I could have become infatuated with why did I have to choose my best friend?

There was only one reasonable conclusion, I've lost my mind.

"Kenta, please…" He stood up with his knees bent, his hands braced on my shoulders and his face only inches from mine. I wonder how he would react if I kissed him.

I shook my head at the concept; I didn't have time to be fantasizing, not while I was so close to confessing. Or… maybe that would just help me?  Gah this was too confusing.

"There's nothing wrong Kazu," I managed to say after a long moments silence; "I've just been really tired lately."

He peered at me sceptically and the desire to kiss him washed over me again. I wouldn't dare act on it, not in a million years. He would be horrified, no doubt about it.

He nodded slightly, accepting my very lame and hardly believable excuse. He didn't believe me, I could tell, but he let it pass. Meanwhile I could hardly consider he was being so tolerant. If circumstances had been any different he would have pried the truth right off my tongue with skilful threats and those god damned manipulative eyes. But, hell, I wasn't complaining.

Yoko-sensei chose this moment to enter the toilet. When he spotted the two of us; me sitting on the toilet lid and Kazu standing dangerously close over me, his eyes widened comically. He, too, had obviously presumed the toilet would be abandoned because he was holding a cigarette in one hand and a lighter in the other.

"What are you two doing in here?" He asked at length, hiding the hand holding the cigarette behind his back

"We saw that Sir," Kazu said slyly removing his hands from my shoulders and slinking over to the teacher; "If I'm not mistaken I thought smoking in school grounds was forbidden." There he goes again, how often had I heard that tone? 

"Yes, well, you're also not supposed to be in here, it's out of bounds."

Kazu smiled simperingly at the teacher then waved at me to follow him. He led me out without another word.

Neither of us said anything to the other during that lunch break. Luckily, Jeri compensated for Kazu's absent hyper-ness. She seemed to be on some strange sugar high and Takato was having quite a time calming her down. It took the attention away from me so I was grateful. The only one who seemed to cotton on to Kazu's lack of energy was Rika and she stayed blissfully silent.

In the next class the teacher gave us a pop quiz. If it had been any class other than math I would have been genuinely pissed. Much to my luck, however, it was. I've always been good at math, it comes naturally to me. Nonetheless, the whole length of the exam Kazu cursed and mumbled under his breath. That distracted me enough to miss several questions but I didn't care as much as I thought I would.

When school was over for the day Kazu packed up his things, gave me a weak smile and a wave goodbye and left. I don't think he knew how guilty he made me feel. Because I was depressed, he was depressed and now I was even more depressed. He even forgot it was his turn for cleaning duty. Then again, that may be the reason he left in such a hurry.

"Where did Kazu go, it's his turn to clean." The class rep. was glaring at me, her hands were pressed firmly against her hips, her nose was scrunched up and her mouth was a thin line. She was no doubt an attractive girl in her own way, but at the moment she looked painstakingly like a pug dog. It was no wonder Kazu didn't like her, she probably looked at him like this every day.

"He was feeling ill, I'll cover for him." Her features instantly softened.

"Oh, well, I hope he knows he's going to have to do it tomorrow then."

"I'll let him know." She stared at me for a moment longer before turning and leaving. I followed her out of the classroom to retrieve a broom.

Jeri was also on cleaning duty, she didn't seem to notice me at first. Once she did, however, she didn't hesitate to stop what she was doing to lecture me on my currant situation.

"Kenta I know what's happening and I just have to say, it doesn't have to be like this." She looked serious but her eyes shone with a mischievous humour.

"I don't know what you're talking about." I stopped sweeping the floor but couldn't bring myself to meet her gaze.

"Don't play dumb with me Kenta; I know as well as you what you're doing. You can't just avoid him and hope it'll go away, because it won't." Just peachy, she was giving me advice.

"I can try." She sighed noticeably

"Kenta, you have to trust me on this one. I know you're embarrassed and scared but if you give up before you even try you could be missing out on something that is potentially wonderful." She looked like she wanted to continue, but I didn't let her

            "And if it doesn't turn out the way I hoped? What then? Wait, let me guess… I leave the country?"

            She fell silent and I continued with my cleaning duties. I didn't like being cynical and pessimistic but there was too much at risk to be any other way. It would be nice, but so unrealistic. If Jeri would stop hounding me about it I could forget it all and life would return to normal.

            She didn't see my point of view

            "I'm not giving up on you Kenta, even if you do." She left.

            I already knew what she was going to do and I wanted to both run screaming after her to stop and let her go peacefully on her way. On one hand, she would tell Kazu and he would comply, we would get together and go frolicking into the sunset. On the other hand, she'd tell him, he'd get freaked out and I'd have to leave the country.

            You know, I heard Australia is a nice place.

Saying that, at this point in time, life was giving me a hard time would be a tremendous understatement. It was giving me so much of a bad time, in fact, that I was certain flushing my head down a toilet would be more fun than facing one more second of this day. On my return home the idea seemed to become more likely, certainly easier to tolerate, and definitely a great substitution for what was in store for me.

The second I walked in the door the phone rang and, as luck would have it, it was none other than Kazu. I got the impression he had timed this down to the last second. Am I really that predictable?

As it so turns out Jeri had kept her promise and had a little mano – o –mano with Kazu. He sounded everything but happy. As the dread rose up in my gut I cursed Jeri to an eternity of torment and rap music. 

"Kenta, I need to speak with you. Can you come around?" Kazu's voice was void of emotion. I had never heard his use such a formal tone.

Suddenly, rap music seemed too merciful. An eternity of itching and boiled asparagus seemed more fitting.

I nodded to the receiver then; realising Kazu couldn't see me, replied

"Yeah, I'll see you soon."

I didn't have to go; I could just lock myself in my room for the rest of the night and tell him I forgot. Then let the guilt eat me up from the inside out until I was no more than a raving lunatic.

Jeri would pay severely for this.

I was hoping my parents wouldn't let me go, at least then I would have an excuse. But they didn't seem to care where I went; curse their lack of obsessive parental protection. I had no other options left open to me, I had to go. And as I made my way down the street I couldn't suppress the feeling that I was walking into certain doom.

His mother greeted me with a smile and informed me he was in his room. Their apartment was as familiar as ever, nothing had changed. Only now it was a lot more foreboding that I remembered. My heart was beating a mile a minuet and my hands were trembling. I hope she didn't notice.

I stood outside his bedroom door for a long few moments, just staring at the white paint and trying desperately to give some order to my jumbled mess of thoughts. It was futile, there was simply too much to take in to have ordered thoughts. In response to my faltering judgement I screwed up my resolve and knocked on the door. There was no immediate answer so, before my tenacity could falter, I opened the door and let myself in.

Kazu was sitting on his bed staring blankly out his window. At first he didn't notice me; however, when I did he hastened to blush and stood up to greet me.

Over and over again I cursed Jeri's very existence, I shouldn't have just let her go like I had; I just knew this would happen. He had become estranged to me and there was absolutely no chance of us retaining that friendship I had relished so much. Things were royally screwed and it was all her fault.

Who am I kidding? It's completely my fault, if I hadn't developed that stupid, stupid crush none of this would have happened. Right now I'd probably be laughing along with Kazu about how irritating and obnoxious the class rep. was. I wonder if there's any way to convince him it had all been an elaborate joke.

"Kenta, we need to talk." He said at length, returning to his position on the bed.

He was right about that at least, we needed to talk. We desperately needed to talk, and for the first time since this whole situation began I found I had more to say to him than I could grasp.

"Look, Kazu, I know Jeri told you everything, I had no doubt she would. I just want to say that this has absolutely nothing to do with you. Well, okay, it sort of does, but what I mean is you don't have to worry yourself about it. It's just me."

Kazu looked stunned.

"She didn't say anything to you did she?"

He continued to stare at me like I had grown another head. Great, I had just managed to make this situation more complicated than it had been before.

At length he spoke.

"No, she told me everything." Heh, I knew it, "But…"

He stood up from the bed once again and moved closer to me. For what seemed like an eternity he stood and stared at me while my heart pounded furiously in my ears and my thoughts ran a mile a minuet. After than short eternity he lifted his hand, ever so slowly, and ran his fingers across my cheek.

The simple gesture made my heart melt and my knees weak, it became increasingly hard to stand up. Luckily, Kazu chose that moment to rest his hands on my shoulders, bringing his face closer to mine than was bearable. Before he could act I covered that short distance between us and kissed him.

The brief moment when out lips met and his hands tightened so slightly on my shoulders was like heaven a thousand times over. His lips were warm and soft and his breath tickled my cheeks just enough to make it enjoyable. I could have melted.

After a moment he pulled away, just enough so he could remove my glasses before wrapping his arms tightly around me and kissing me harder than before. I was glad he was there to support me because standing independently had become a thing of the past.

Time became irrelevant and when he pulled away again I wasn't sure weather it was day or night. My head was a giddy mess of emotions that screamed only one thing. Kazu.

"You know, it's not just you." He whispered softly before pulling me onto the bed.

I would have to give Jeri a very big basket of chocolates.

AN: Yay Hirota fluffiness! You know, this is the very first fluffy yaoi I've ever written. But, then again, it is Hirota ^_^