Sketches of the Past


Chaos Notes:  I am using “Takao” instead of “Tyson” deliberately.  You’ll see why, later, in the main fic.  The purpose of this fic is to set up past events that will be referred to in Once A Thief.  It can stand alone as a one-shot, too.

Disclaimer:  Kali & muses do not own Beyblade.  We mourn.  We do, however, own all OCs appearing in this fic.

Warnings:  Shounen-ai of a citrus-y flavour, language, and other adult content.  Don’t like it, don’t read it!

Pairing:  TyKa

Summary:  (AU)  One-shot prequel to Once A Thief.  This is the story of the past, where two teens will find love.  The question remains whether they will be allowed the opportunity to keep it…

~*~*~*~*~

Sketches of the Past

~*~*~*~*~

Then :

            It was a bright, sunny day in Bay City as spring blossomed anew.  Birds sang, flowers swayed gently in the light, refreshing breezes, and trees sprouted new leaves for another season of growth.

            In the park near the high school, stretched out alongside the banks of a river, a group of four teenage boys could be found walking home from school, as they always did.  The group was an oddly matched bunch, not one of them appearing to belong with any one of the others, let alone the group of them together.  One was short, with brown hair that covered his eyes, and wearing a pair of glasses that had to be too big for him.  He was dressed in a pair of khaki shorts with a buttoned shirt and light spring jacket…and a tie.  He also carried a laptop computer tucked under one arm as he walked alongside the others.  The word ‘geek’ seemed to have been coined just for him.

            The next teen was probably the most out of place of them all.  Where the others were dark-haired and quite obviously Japanese (or at least oriental), this teen was blonde as could be, and his eyes were an un-Japanese sea blue/green.  Yet his features and bone structure were oriental.  His face bore freckles and a wide, bright smile that was his trademark.  He wore a bright green t-shirt and blue jeans, and had a worn out book bag slung carelessly over one shoulder.

            Third in the group was a taller teen, dressed conservatively in a simple white polo shirt and black jeans.  He carried his own book bag loosely at his side in one hand, and held his jacket flung over his shoulder casually with the other.  Honey-gold eyes, shaped in a decidedly feline way, gazed around lazily to take in his surroundings at a glance.  His hair was as black as a raven’s feathers, and so long it came extremely close to sweeping the ground behind him.  He wore it held back in a wrapped ponytail, and around his head he sported a white headband that bore a Tao symbol boldly upon it – matching the cloth wristbands he wore on either wrist.  And if anyone was lucky enough to see it, his ears – tucked under and hidden partially by his hair – were a bit pointed.  He smiled at something one of his companions said, then laughed, showing off the teeth that were longer and sharper than most people’s were.

            Lastly, though certainly not the least of the group, there was an averagely dressed teen in somewhat faded, ratty old jeans and a bright red T-shirt under an equally faded denim jacket.  While his clothes were nothing spectacular, the rest of him certainly could be described that way.  He was lean, but muscular in a way that boasted years and years of martial arts training.  He moved with an easy grace and with an almost lazy sped, as if he had all the time in the world to get where he was going.  He had no book bag, but he was carrying a binder, notebook, and two textbooks under one arm.  At one point the wind picked up a little, blowing his long bangs into an amazing pair of smoky, silvery blue eyes that were as expressive as a storm.  He reached up and absently ran his fingers through his blue-black hair to get it out of his vision again, and readjusted the red and blue ball-cap he wore backwards on his head.  That mass of hair, like the taller teen’s, was tied in a ponytail at the nape of his neck – though it was nowhere near as long as the other’s was.

            Unbeknownst to the oddly mismatched group of friends, another teen was silently observing them from on high, from his perch on a thick tree limb hidden amongst the leaves and branches.  The tree stood majestically presiding over a playground, and as the group walked in the tree’s direction, the youth in its branches waited patiently for the right time to make his presence known.

            “Hey, Takao!  You should come with us this weekend!”  The blonde exclaimed enthusiastically to the bluenette.  “The fair is always a lot of fun!”

            “Thanks, Maxie, but I can’t.  Not only do I have to study, but Gramps needs me to help out with his classes this weekend and the next.”  Takao gave him an apologetic look.  “Not that I wouldn’t love to go…”

            “Don’t worry about it.  There’ll be other fairs and festivals that you can go to with us!”  Max replied, looking a little disappointed, but understanding at the same time.  He looked at the other two.  “Do you want to come, Rei?  Kenny?”

            “Sure.  I think Mariah was going as well, so…” The raven-haired teen, Rei, blushed slightly at the sly grins he was getting from his friends.  “Shut up you guys!  I swear, when any of you have girlfriends, I’m going to tease you mercilessly.”

            “Heh.  Relax, Rei.  We can’t help it.  If you didn’t turn red every time her name was mentioned, it wouldn’t be so easy to bug you.”  Takao chuckled, shoving his free hand in his jacket pocket.

            “What about you, Chief?  Getting out from behind a computer screen for a day would probably do wonders for you.”  Max turned toward the youngest of the group wit ha questioning gaze.

            “Oh…but I have this new program I’m working on…” Kenny protested, looking a little pale at the idea of going to a fair – where he would more than likely be forced to go on midway rides.

            “It’s not going anywhere.  You’re coming.”  Rei slung an arm around the petit brunette’s shoulders, ruffling his hair fondly.  “Maybe you will meet some brainy, beautiful girl and fall head over heels in love.”

            “You guys are impossible.”  Kenny huffed, giving in.  He did need to get out more anyway, he supposed.

            They came to a stop under the giant sakura tree, laughing.  A voice from high above – a deep, smoky, bored-sounding voice that was slightly mocking – informed them, “Impossible?  No.  I’d say pathetic.”

            As one, they looked up and spotted the speaker sitting on his thick branch, one leg dangling carelessly off the side, the other drawn up casually to his chest with his foot resting flat on the branch.  He wore baggy black cargo pants and a dark purple shirt under a black leather jacket.  A white, silk scarf was wrapped around his neck and hung behind him, occasionally flaring out to wave in the wind.  He wore a pair of fingerless leather gloves on his hands, and on his cheeks were a pair of blue triangles, one slightly smaller than the other.  His hair was two distinctive shades of slate black, the lighter shade at the front and the dark shade in the back.  But it was his eyes – a pair of burning, intense crimson that could flare into an inferno with his temper – that were probably his most distinctive feature.  And where Takao was lean muscle, this teen was much more obvious about it.  No one in their right minds ever messed with him – not from around their part of town, anyway.  People around here knew better.

            “Kai!  I was wondering if I had the wrong tree to meet you at!”  Takao called, waving at the fierce-looking teen.

            “Kinomiya…you’re late.”  Kai replied flatly, simply looking down at him with a trace of annoyance.

            “I know.  I’m sorry.”  Takao’s smile of welcome dimmed considerably.

            Rei scowled up at Kai.  “Cut him some slack, Hiwatari.  It wasn’t his fault.”

            Kai just raised an eyebrow, meaning, “Explain.”

            Max patted Takao on the shoulder.  “Mr. Takahashi kept him back after class to deliver a lecture about his poor math marks.”

            “Hn.”  Kai grunted, shrugging.  His annoyed expression softened somewhat, however, since he’d been on the receiving end of that teacher’s lectures before, too.  “Whatever.  Are we still doing this or are you giving up, Kinomiya?”

            A stubborn expression came over the bluenette’s features, eyes narrowing with a frightening determination to succeed.  “Hell, no.  A deal’s a deal, Kai.”

            “Good.”

            “Deal?  What deal?  With Kai?!”  Max looked back and forth between them in confusion.

            Kai rolled his eyes and leaned backward, rolling fluidly out of the tree and landing on his feet in a crouch with effortless grace and style.  He stood up and gave Takao a pointed look before glancing at his watch meaningfully.

            “Since Kai’s obviously in some big hurry…the short version is our teachers got together and decided we both needed some extra studying in our worst subjects.”  Takao made a face.  “Mine is math, and Kai’s is literature.”

            “So you’re going to see a tutor together?”  Kenny surmised in a leap of logic.  “If you needed help, Takao, I’d have been happy to create a program like a video game to help you…”

            “Thanks, chief, but no.  You’ve got enough of your own work to deal with.”  Takao clapped him on the shoulder.  “And no.  Kai is studying with me for math, and I’m studying with him for literature.”

            That earned three startled stares and one impatient one.

            “Can we go now?”  Kai asked in mild exasperation.

            “Yeah.  Geez, Kai.  You’re in a good mood today.”  Takao grumbled, waving at his friends as he hurried after the older teen.  “See you guys later!”

            Kenny, Max, and Rei watched the two disappear up over the hill silently.  After they were gone from sight, Rei shook his head.

            “That is all too weird.  Since when does Kai need a study partner for anything?”  He wondered.  “Not to mention that it’s Takao of all people!”

            “I wonder how they got him to agree to it?”  Kenny wondered.

            “Who knows, Chief.  Who knows.”

~*~*~*~*~

            “So where shall we go to hold these study sessions?”  Takao asked, strolling leisurely alongside his new companion.

            “Not my place.”  Kai frowned to himself.  If his grandfather found out he was doing poorly in even one subject, he’d be in trouble – and nothing his parents said would make a difference to the Hiwatari patriarch.  The old man’ll probably put a stop on my car insurance.  He thought, severely disliking the idea of being restricted to places within walking distance.  He hated being confined, and without his car, that’s exactly what it felt like.

            Takao nodded, excepting that without explanation.  He didn’t know Kai very well, since they weren’t necessarily friends, but he knew the other teen well enough not to ask about things like Kai’s personal life or to demand useless explanations or reasons for things he said or did (useless because Kai simply wouldn’t answer such inquiries).

            “I’d suggest my place, but I haven’t cleaned my room in a while, and Gramps will probably try convincing you that you need to take Kendo lessons from him.”  Takao couldn’t help laughing at the thought.  “Actually, that would be kind of funny.  Maybe we should go there.”

            Kai absently aimed a swat at the back of the bluenette’s head.  Oddly enough, he felt quite comfortable with the bluenette.  “Baka.  Let’s just get a table at that coffee shop for today.  Future sessions can happen at the library or something.”

            “Sure!”  Takao lit up.  “This place sells awesome milkshakes!  I think I’ll get a chocolate one.”

            They entered and grabbed a free table, then placed their orders with the waitress who came by.

            “So, Kai…”  Takao paused when he realized the crimson-eyed teen had no books with him.  “Uh…where’s your books?”

            “I didn’t bring them.”  Kai folded his hands in front of him and eyed Takao’s binder.  “We’ll do math today and literature tomorrow.”

            “Ooooh, I see.”  Takao reached for his books and flipped open his textbook, then his notebook.  “A trade off so that we concentrate on one thing at a time.  Good thinking, Kai!”  He beamed at the other teen, who sweatdropped.

            “Besides, my literature mark is nowhere near as bad as your math mark.  You need more help than I do.”  Kai added, smirking.

            Takao sighed, nodding.  “How sad that’s true.”

            And so began their somewhat forced acquaintance.  Turned out that Kai didn’t need a literature ‘tutor’ because he didn’t understand what he was reading.  Really, his only problem was that he needed a little guidance with writing papers – much to Takao’s chagrin.  He just didn’t get math.

            By the middle of May, the two had developed a friendship of sorts.  Kind of.  They acknowledged each other in the halls, occasionally ate lunch together, and continued with their study sessions, which ad become something of a gossip-worthy topic around school.  It was strange to them both how comfortable they were with each other, as if they’d always known one another.

            One day at school in between classes, Kai was walking down the hall toward the gym for PE class when a group of boys stepped out in front of him and blocked his path.  The group was known for their bullying, and today it looked like Kai was their new target.  They were also not known for their intelligence – otherwise they wouldn’t have picked such a dangerous target.

            Kai looked around at the teens in annoyance, completely unafraid for himself.

            “Excuse me.”  He said.  It was the only warning they would get from him.

            “‘Excuse me,’ he says!”  The biggest of the bullies, their leader, mocked.  “How high and mighty this guy thinks he is!  You think you’re better than us, punk?”

            Punk?  Who writes these guy’s lines?  Kai just gave him a look that said, “I don’t think, I know.”

            “Arrogant little bastard.”  Another of them sneered, reaching out and giving Kai a shove.  Unbalanced only a little, Kai recovered the step he’d been forced to take back to stay upright, and turned his eyes on the boy who’d shoved him.  He saw a quick flash in those intense eyes mere seconds before his sleeve began to smoke.  Startled, the bully hastily shed his jacket and stamped on it.

            “Jake!  Did you see that?  He lit my coat on fire somehow!”

            “Dumbass!  I didn’t see him move!  You probably didn’t put out your last cigarette well enough.”  The leader made a disgusted noise and stared at Kai with a hard look.  “And you, I’ve heard rumours about you.  They say the rich, bad-ass Hiwatari is really a pansy-assed gay boy who’s doin’ that low-class Kinomiya kid.”

            That got Kai’s attention.  He’d heard no such thing as of yet – and if this guy was making it up just to be the bully he was, then Jake was about to learn a very painful, pointed lesson.  Kai’s eyes burned crimson flame and narrowed, and he flexed his fingers almost eagerly.

            “I think you need to get your facts straight, Jake.”  He replied, his voice deceptively quiet and mild.  He took a step up to the bully and glared furiously.  “First of all, I’m not someone you should go around spreading lies about.  Secondly, if I was ‘doing’ anyone, let alone Kinomiya, it wouldn’t be any of your damn business would it?”

            “I make it my business to show gays like you the error of their ways.”  Jake smirked and reached out to grab Kai by the collar of his shirt, lifting him an inch off the ground.  Kai didn’t even blink, still staring at him in contempt.

            “How do losers like you even get into the school system?”  He wondered mockingly.  “I mean, people as stupid as you usually get weeded out early and get given special help, don’t they?”

            Jake turned an ugly shade of red and spluttered, “You callin’ me retarded?”

            “What’s going on?”  A new voice demanded.  Jake looked away at the interruption, dropping Kai abruptly.  Kai put a hand to his forehead and counted to ten – slowly.  He recognized the voice immediately and things could quite possibly get worse.

            “What the hell do you want?  Mind your own business, kid.”  One of Jake’s minions said.

            “Jake, if you’re starting up a fight again, you know I won’t hesitate to…” the voice trailed off as electric blue eyes spotted Kai.  “Well, geez, Jake.  I knew you were stupid and a bully, but I didn’t know you had a death-wish.”

            “Well, well.  If it isn’t the boy-toy.”  Jake smiled smugly, folding his arms and looking back and forth between Kai and Takao.  “Good.  We can take care of you both at once.  Saves time…”

            Takao blinked at Jake, then glanced around him at Kai.  “What is he blabbering about?  I don’t speak moron.”

            “Apparently we’re gay and have been screwing like rabbits.”  Kai replied, suddenly vastly amused by the entire situation.  “It was news to me.”

            “Huh.  Maybe we have evil doubles we don’t know about.”

            “Possibly.”

            Furious that he was being ignored and made fun of like this, Jake gave an angry roar and made his final mistake.

            He threw a punch at Kai’s face.

            No one saw Takao move, he was just that fast.  Before Jake’s fist came even close to touching Kai, Takao had grabbed onto his wrist, catching it and using the momentum to wrench the larger teen’s arm around behind his back at a painful angle, and shoved him up against the wall to pin him there.

            “Uh, uhn.  Bad Jake.”  Takao chastised softly.  “Unfortunately for you, Jake, today is my turn for hall monitor.  So you and I are going to take a little stroll to visit the Vice Principal.”  He looked around at the others with a hard stare, blue eyes slowly leeching into greyish blue hues in temper.  “The rest of you thugs get lost.  I’ll let you slide this once, but if you’re ever caught bullying anyone else, including Kai, there’s going to be a discussion.”

            They nodded, moving warily past him and ignoring Kai altogether, and fled.

            “I was just fine, Kinomiya.”  Kai gave him a mild glare, more put out that he hadn’t gotten to bash Jake’s mug in to relieve his temper than anything else.

            “I know you were.  But why expend energy on this dumbass when you don’t have to?”  Takao gave said dumbass a shove forward, keeping a firm grip on his arm and wrist.  “I owe this jerk a few licks for beating up on Kenny a couple of months ago, anyway.”

            “You’ll pay for this, Kinomiya!”  Jake spat angrily.  Takao just steered him calmly through the halls and stopped outside the VP’s office, knocking on the door with his free hand.

            “Still, I don’t need you.”  Kai insisted, feeling particularly peevish.  They were both ignoring Jake like he wasn’t even there.  Takao shrugged and gave the VP a bright smile when the door opened.

            “I caught him bullying a student, sir.  He threw a punch, but I stopped him before anyone got hurt.”

            The VP – a bulky, tall man in a suit who looked as if he’d be more comfortable in a boxing ring – gestured Jake inside and gave Takao a nod.

            “Thank you, Kinomiya.  Hurry on to class, now.”

            “Yes, sir.”

            The door closed and Takao turned to Kai.  “Let’s go.  We’ll be late as it is.”

            “Hn.”

            They walked in silence for a bit, until Takao couldn’t take the quiet anymore.  “Is there really a rumour about us going around?”

            “I don’t know.  I don’t pay attention to that stupidity.”

            “Neither do I.”

            “Then why do you care?”  Kai glanced at him curiously.

            “I don’t!  I mean, I’m just offended someone hates me that much to spread that kind of a lie.”  Takao looked at the ground as he walked, shoving his hands in his pockets.  Something in his tone caught Kai’s attention.

            Kai stopped and studied him.  “Specifically, what kind of lie?  That you’re gay or that we’re having some torrid love affair?”  His eyes widened when Takao blushed and refused to look at him.  “Well, I know it’s not the second part that’s true…”

            “Does it matter?”  Takao demanded.  “So I like guys.  Big hairy deal!  I’m no different than I was two minutes ago!”

            For some, unknown, odd reason, Kai felt so much better knowing that the bluenette wasn’t as normal as everyone believed.  It made him feel a sort of kinship with the teen – since, he, too, suffered from the stigma of being ‘different’ (though it was for different reasons than Takao).  Smiling, Kai turned and continued walking, forcing Takao to follow him.

            “Hey!  Aren’t you going to say something?  Maybe call me a few choice names or punch me or something?”  Takao was shaking with his emotions.  Kai just snorted and kept walking.

            “What for?  I don’t care if you like aliens, Kinomiya, let alone guys.  Nothing’s changed.”  He pushed open the doors to the gym, and headed for the locker room.

            Wide-eyed in surprise, the bluenette hurried after him.  “Really?  Kai?”

            “Really.  Now hurry up and get changed.  The rest of the class is outside already.”

            Stunned and somewhat embarrassed, Takao obeyed without another word.  Or at least he tried.  He then realized he didn’t have his locker keys with him, and scowled.

            “What?”  Kai glanced at him, pulling on his gym shirt.

            “I don’t have my keys.”

            “Wear what you’ve got on, then.”  Kai turned away to get out his shorts, unsympathetic.

            “No way!”  Takao glanced at him, to see if he was looking, and pressed his index finger to the lock.  A small bit of concentration, and a tiny bolt sizzled from the lock, popping the locker open.  Kai looked up at the sound, and blinked when he saw the open locker door.

            “How’d you do that?”  He asked.

            “Uh…don’t tell anyone, but I can open just about any lock.”  Takao blushed.  “It’s a talent I…picked up.”

            “You really are strange, Kinomiya.”

            “Hey!”

            “I didn’t say it was a bad thing…”

            “Oh.  Okay, then.”

~*~*~*~*~

            Two days later, Kai was lounging on a bean bag chair in Takao’s bedroom, reading his literature text for his next assignment while the bluenette lay sprawled on his stomach working diligently on his math homework.

            “Hey, Kai?”

            “Hn?”

            “You’re the only one – except for Kenny – who knows about me.”

            The crimson-eyed teen had to blink for a minute, trying to puzzle that statement out, considering it had come from out of nowhere.  “Knows…oh.  That.”  He laid his book down and looked across the room at Takao.  “So what?”

            Takao made a frustrated sound and ran his fingers through his hair before rolling off the side of his bed and walking to the wide open panel that led out to his grandfather’s gardens.  He sat down near Kai and stared outside, lost in thought.  “I don’t know.  It just seemed…significant to me somehow.”

            Kai sighed and closed his book, turning slightly in his chair to face Takao.  “What’s the problem, Kinomiya?”

            “I’m…lonely.”

            He was not expecting that.  “Uh…okay.”

            “It’s just that…Rei’s nearly engaged to Mariah, Max has been dating that girl…what’s her name?  Miriam.  And Kenny’s on cloud nine over some girl he met on the internet.”

            “And you have no one.”  Kai guessed, shaking his head.  “You’re only in high school, Kinomiya.”

            Takao drew his knees to his chest and rested his chin on them, watching as it began to rain outside.  “I know I’m being an idiot.  But…I just feel like I’ll never have someone to…care about like that.  I’ve never been on a date for Kami’s sake!”

            “Neither have I – not that I’ve had an inclination to.”

            “Yeah, but…you’re different.  You are beyond such trivial things as hormones and relationships and love.”  Takao grumbled moodily.

            Kai stared at him.  “Do you really believe that?”

            “No.  I guess I don’t.”  Takao sighed.  “Sorry.”  He fell quiet for so long that Kai had picked up his book again.  And once more the older teen was forced to put it aside when the bluenette spoke up again.

            “Kai?”

            “What?”

            “You never did say whether the first part of that ridiculous rumour was true for you or not.”

            “No.  I didn’t.”  Kai replied mildly, hoping he’d just drop it.  He should have known better.

            “Why?”

            “You never asked.”

            “I’m asking now.”

            “Kinomiya, are you trying to flirt with me?”

            “Well…” there was a lengthy stretch of silence.  “You are really hot, you know.”

            “Of course I do.”

            “Kai!”

            “Gods!  Relax, Kinomiya.”

            “Are you, or are you not, gay?”  Takao’s voice oozed exasperation.

            “I don’t know.”  Kai’s voice oozed amusement.

            “What d’ya mean you don’t know?!”

            “I mean I don’t know.  I’ve never been interested in any one person like that to pick a gender.”

            “Oh.”  Takao began to fidget.  “Though…even if you fall for a guy, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re gay, right?  You just happened to fall for another guy instead of a girl.”

            “Your point?”  Kai had no idea where this was going.

            “Nothing.  Just philosophizing.”

            “What the hell did you have in your cereal this morning?”

            “I had toast and peanut butter.”

            “Whatever!”

            Ten minutes later, Kai looked up from his book – which had become thoroughly engrossing for a while there – to find Takao on his hands and knees right in front of him, blue eyes trained on his face solidly.

            “Kinomiya, you’re acting really weird today, even for you.  Should I be worried?”

            “If there was something, would you worry?”  Takao asked, a look of curiosity passing over him.

            “Of course.”  That came out before Kai could stop it, quite indignantly, too.”

            “Why?”

            “……”  Kai turned a little pink, but didn’t say anything more.  He was six feet under and still shovelling, as far as he was concerned.

            “I know how we could find out if you like other guys…”

            “How?”  Kai was appalled to hear his voice sound thick and husky.  Takao crawled forward a bit and his heartbeat began to pound in his ears.  What was wrong with him?  He met Takao’s eyes (growing smoky and dark as he watched), seeing them close to half-mast and his gaze slide down from Kai’s eyes to his mouth.

            He couldn’t help it.  He froze, breathing heavily.

            Takao struck quick as lightning, leaning in to press his lips firmly to Kai’s.  A tremor shook Kai’s frame and he closed his eyes.  Involuntarily, his hand came up, the book lying forgotten in his lap, and hesitantly cupped Takao’s cheek, fingertips sliding against the satiny skin.

            At the touch, Takao pulled back a little and sighed, a tiny smile playing at the corners of his mouth.  He made a little humming noise and wriggled like a pleased puppy, opening his eyes again and searching Kai’s for reaction.

            “So?”  He asked, his smile faltering when he found he couldn’t read Kai’s expression.

            But Kai had yet to remove his hand.  In fact, his thumb was absently stroking Takao’s cheek, though neither seemed to notice.  They were to intent on staring at each other.

            “You call that a kiss?”  Kai finally said in a low voice.  Before Takao could react, the dual-haired teen’s hand moved, curling around the back of the bluenette’s head and drawing him closer in one sharp movement.  Off balance and startled, Takao fell forward over top Kai in the bean bag chair, their lips colliding again.  This time Kai dominated, and Takao quite happily let him – and the older teen would have none of that soft hesitancy this time.  Oh no.

            Kai tugged off Takao’s hair-tie, spilling the rich mass of hair over his shoulders and back and running his fingers through the silken strands feverishly.  His lips were busy, coaxing the bluenette’s apart so he could slip his tongue into the hot cavern of Takao’s mouth to explore and tease.  He made a groaning noise deep in his throat as he felt both of Takao’s hands in his hair, fingers massaging and stroking appreciatively and encouragingly.  Kai wound his other arm around Takao and shuddered when he moaned.

            The kiss slowed, then stopped, both teens panting and trembling in reaction.  Takao sighed again and nudged his nose playfully against Kai’s, stealing a quick nip at his mouth before simply letting his forehead rest against the dual-haired teen’s.

            “You’re right.  That was a kiss.”  Takao snickered, eyes gleaming.  Kai licked his lips and flexed the hand that had been fisted in Takao’s hair against his head.  The bluenette arched into the touch with a purr.

            “Well, we know one thing, at least.”  Kai rasped.

            “What?”

            “I like at least one guy.”

            Takao snuggled closer with a grin.  “As long as it’s me…and no one else.”

            “Was that rhetorical?”

            “Shut up and kiss me again.”

            For once in his life, Kai was more than obliging.

~*~*~*~*~

            Final exams came and went.  Takao managed to do more than pass his math class (a B minus was infinitely better than a D minus, after all).  Kai did extremely well, his A in literature fitting in perfectly with the rest of his A’s.  Kenny finished at the top of the class, and got extremely flustered because he was going to have to give the Valedictorian’s speech at the graduation ceremony.  Rei and Max both did exceptionally well in their classes, also.

            Somewhere along the line, Kai had been absorbed into the group of friends, and much to his disgruntled surprise, he actually felt like he belonged there.  He was comfortable with them, and they were with him.  Although, he was pretty sure that it had a whole lot to do with Takao being there more than anything else.

            In all that time, Takao and Kai had continued to spend time with each other – outside their normal study sessions.  They didn’t act like couples usually did, and so no one actually knew they were more than friends.  But neither really cared one way or the other.  They were trying to hide their relationship – in fact they didn’t act any differently than they had before.  There was the odd time that one of them would do something that would have been a big hint – if anyone had been paying attention and looking for it.  For example, one of the throng of females that trailed after Kai as a rule would get a little too friendly and (despite the death-glare they’d get from Kai, himself) Takao would do more than glare.  He’d chase them off.  Or there was one time that Takao, while at the mall with his friends and Kai, was hit on by a sales associate in a clothing store.

            The poor guy got a face-full of Kai’s fist.

            Graduation day arrived, and Takao suddenly had a fit of fashion crisis trying to figure out what he was going to wear after the ceremonies (since he’d be wearing one of those sweltering, oversized gowns for that portion of the day and no one cared what was on under it).  He tore through his closet looking for his favourite shirt that would match the dark denim jeans he was going to wear with the new jacket he’d gotten from his Dad as a grad gift.  Midnight blue leather, to be exact.

            His older brother popped his head into the room and blinked at the disaster.  “What the heck, Takao?  Did a hurricane rip through here?”

            “Huh?  Oh.  I’ll clean it up later.”  Takao dove back into his closet, throwing clothes and other long-lost items out over his shoulder.  “I can’t find it!”

            “What are you looking for anyway?”  Hiro walked in and leaned against Takao’s desk.  “You’re going to be late for your own grad ceremony, you know.”

            “I’m looking for the shirt Kai gave me.”

            “Oooh, Kai.”  Hiro snickered at the glare he got from his little brother.  “You’re such a girl.”

            “I am not, Hiro!  Can’t you go bug someone else?”  Takao growled then brightened considerably when he pulled the shirt out.  “Ah ha!  I knew it was in there somewhere.”

            “No.  It’s my job to annoy the hell out of you, kid.  Actually, I came to tell you to hurry up.  Dad’s getting anxious to go.”

            Takao pulled on his shirt and started doing up the buttons, tucking it into his pants and searching for his tie (only for the ceremony, at Gramps’ insistence).  He fumbled with it, then sighed, giving Hiro a plaintive look.

            Rolling his eyes, Hiro reached out and went through the motions of doing it up.  “You have to learn how to do this yourself, you know.”

            “I will…I’m just nervous.”  Takao shrugged, playing with his shirtsleeve absently.  “It’s a big event, right?”

            “Of course.  You’re graduating.”  Hiro’s grin softened, and he patted the tie.  “There.  You know, Takao, I am proud of you, little brother.”

            “I know.”

            “Hey, you two!  Let’s go!”  Their father called as they exited Takao’s bedroom.

            “Alright, Dad!  I’m ready!”

~*~*~*~*~

            The grad party late that evening was the biggest bash the high school had ever thrown – or so said the party coordinating committee.

            Kai spent his time with Takao and his family, since his own couldn’t make it to the ceremony.  His grandfather had gone away on business, taking his father with him, and his mother had gone to visit family of her own.  He was a little disappointed with it, but he was so used to being on his own for the most part that he barely even noticed it.  Besides, Takao’s family members made him feel quite welcome, like he was already part of the family.  It was good, because just that day he’d learned something that would change everything for his relationship with Takao – and not for the better.

            But at the party, it was just him and their friends and classmates (and the chaperones, but they don’t count).  And that was very much what he’d been wanting all day long – time with Takao.

            Takao had noticed that even for Kai the dual-haired teen was unusually quiet and subdued.  Especially on such a big day as their high school graduation.  He’d been meaning to ask Kai about it, but every time he thought he had an opportunity, someone would come along and he’d lose the chance.  And then he forgot about it in the whirl of people and family and friends.

            As the evening wore on, Kai began to get impatient.  He wanted to grab his boyfriend and drag him out of the school’s gymnasium, where the party had been set up after the ceremony.  Turned out that he wouldn’t have to, however, because Takao came dancing up to him with a wide grin on his face, hands held out in invitation.

            “Hey, Kai!  You should come dance with the rest of us!”  He shouted over the loud music.  Kai rolled his eyes and shook his head, but he took one of Takao’s hands and tugged him closer.  Takao bent down, letting Kai put his mouth near his ear so he didn’t have to shout.

            “I’m not interested in dancing, Takao, but I did have something in mind…”

            Takao blinked, then glanced at him curiously with interest.  Something in Kai’s voice sent thrilling chills through his system and he rather liked it.

            “What did you think of?”  He asked.  The current song died, and they could suddenly speak normally again.

            “I was thinking we should go someplace and celebrate on our own.”  Kai replied in a low voice.  Takao’s eyes widened and his breathing quickened at the suggestive tone.

            “You…really?  Kai…are you saying you want to go…and…”

            Kai just looked up at him from his seat, crimson eyes burning into Takao’s.  His thumb was stroking the back of the bluenette’s hand as they stared at each other, and Takao’s cheeks were beginning to burn at the very thought of what Kai was telling him silently.

            I want you, Kinomiya Takao.  Now.  Tonight.

            Takao sucked in a deep breath and let it out slowly, closing his eyes for a moment to calm his raging hormones.  When he opened them again, he nodded and squeezed Kai’s hand.  “Let me just go say good-bye to the others really quickly, and we can go wherever you want, okay?  No one’s expecting me back tonight anyway.”

            Kai’s smile was knowing, and content – like a cat who’d gotten the canary and the cream.  He released Takao’s hand and watched him hurry off into the crowd to say goodnight.

            Takao found Kenny and tapped him on the shoulder.  “Hey, Chief!  I just came to say ‘bye.  Kai and I are leaving now.”

            Max looked away from the conversation going on between Mariah and Miriam with a thoughtful look.  “‘You and Kai,’ huh?  Takao, when are you two just going to admit that you’re going out and be done with it?”

            Stunned, Takao gaped at him.  “When did you figure that out?”

            “Lo-ong time ago, pal.”

            “Oh.  Well, we’re going anyway.  So, I’ll call you guys in a couple of days after we’ve all recovered from the excitement and we’ll do something, alright?”  Takao blushed and waved at them.  “Say goodbye to Rei for me!”

            They watched him run off, then his lighter self walking away with Kai’s taller, darker self toward the exit.

            “Think they’ll be one of those happy-ever-after couples?”  Max asked Kenny.  The brunette shrugged.

            “I don’t know, Max.  But I do know they have something.  They were meant to be.”

            “Yeah.  That’s what I thought.”

~*~*~*~*~

            Takao glanced at Kai from his seat on the passenger’s side of Kai’s car.  “So where are we going to go, anyway?”

            “My place.  No one’s home.”  Kai replied, keeping his attention firmly on the traffic, so as not to be distracted by the tempting bishonen in the seat next to him.

            “Is that why your parents and your grandfather didn’t come today?”  Takao asked, saddened by that.  “I’m sorry, Kai.  That sucks that your family didn’t come to your graduation.”

            He shrugged.  “Whatever.  We aren’t a demonstrative sort of family.  They knew I would graduate and do well, and they are happy for me.  That’s enough.”

            Takao gave him a wry side glance.  “How the hell do you put up with me and my family, then?”

            Smiling faintly, Kai took one hand off the steering wheel to blindly grab Takao’s hand and bring it to his lips.  “You’re a special case, Takao.”

            That made the bluenette beam sunshine.  “That’s always nice to hear.”

            Kai pushed a button on the dashboard and drove through a pair of iron gates that swung open to admit them.  Takao whistled lowly at the mansion as they parked just off the circular driveway and stepped out.

            “Wow, Kai.  I knew your family was well off, but this is wild.”  Takao walked with him up the steps, head turning this way and that trying to take in everything as they passed.  “How do you remember where everything is?  I’d get lost.”

            “You would.”  The older teen unlocked the front door and let the bluenette pass by him inside.  Then he closed and relocked the door, going to a panel nearby and setting the security system for the night.  Takao let that comment go, too engrossed in his new surroundings.  Kai crossed his arms and let him look around, watching him silently for a while.  It was one of his favourite pastimes to just sit back and observe the younger teen.

            And with what he knew he was going to have to do soon, he was cherishing every moment of it.

            “Takao…”  He said after a moment to catch the bluenette’s attention.  Takao turned and walked back to him, smiling.  He saw something in Kai’s eyes, a sadness it seemed, and his smile faded into concern.  He reached up and laid his hand to Kai’s cheek.

            “What’s wrong, Kai?  You’ve been down all day.  I kept trying to ask you why, but we’d get interrupted or something.”

            “Nothing.  I’m fine.”  Kai slid his arm around Takao’s waist and drew him close, dipping his head just enough to brush his lips over Takao’s.  In response, Takao lifted his arms to wind them around Kai’s neck and he tilted his head, offering his mouth to Kai’s freely.  Kai accepted and kissed him solidly, but with a tenderness that was rare for the fiery teen.  Takao whimpered and kissed back, losing himself in the moment willingly.

            When they broke apart, Kai took Takao’s hand in his and linked their fingers together, pulling him toward the main staircase that led from the foyer to the second floor.  Takao followed, pulse speeding up as they entered what he assumed was Kai’s bedroom after moving down a rather lengthy hallway.

            The door closed behind them, and Takao didn’t get the chance to look around Kai’s room.  He was suddenly pulled into Kai’s arms and kissed again, this time full of Kai’s fiery passion and with an almost desperate quality he’d never sensed from his boyfriend before.  But he had no choice but to allow himself to be swept away, and soon he was kissing back with almost as much ferocity.

            Clothes were rapidly shed with much fumbling and strained laughs, glowing skin on glowing skin invoking gasps and moans and cries and pleas.  Bodies pressed oh so close and yet not nearly close enough, it seemed to them both.  Mouths used to soothe and tease and demand.  Heat burning and radiating between their nude forms as they collapsed onto the bed.  Hands seeking, caressing, stroking, playing over nerves that sang with pleasure.

            And then came their unrestrained union.  Crimson-eyes blazed in the moonlit room, staring down into crystalline blue-black eyes of his lover as he began to move.  Thrusting, moaning, stroking, whimpering, pounding, gasping, clutching, begging…exploding into pure bliss.

            Completion was unlike anything they’d ever felt before.  Soaring free and free-falling all at the same time, blinding white light consuming their vision.  The afterglow of petting, kissing, and relearning simple things like breathing, curling them together among the sheets in appreciation and great affection.

            Sighing deeply, Takao curled into Kai’s chest while one of Kai’s hands gently rubbed his lower back in soothing circles, easing the muscles and tension there.  Dropping tiny kisses softly on Kai’s shoulder, he smiled.

            “Kai?”

            “Hn?”

            “What made you choose tonight?”

            “It felt right.”  Kai replied after a moment’s careful thought.  He had to tell Takao…but he was loathe to do it now – not when they’d just made love for the first time and everything was more than perfect.  He didn’t want to ruin it.

            Takao apparently thought nothing of it and accepted that, wriggling into a more comfortable position and laying his head over Kai’s heart on his chest.  “It did.  I never thought we’d be here like this…well, not for a while anyway.”

            “Why not?”

            The bluenette’s shoulder barely moved in a shrug.  “You have your own pace for living life, Kai.  I have a hard time judging it sometimes, that’s all.  This time I was wrong.  But I’m glad.”

            He heard the smugness in Kai’s voice with his answer.  “Are you now?”  Kai’s fingers found his hair and began combing it lazily.  Takao nearly purred.

            “Oh, hell yes.  It was so good.”

            “Careful.  You’re stoking my ego.”

            Takao laughed.  “Like it needs that.”  He yawned, closing his eyes.  “Wow…I’m sleepy now.”

            “Go ahead.  We need to restore our energy.”  Kai left his fingers buried in Takao’s hair as his own eyes drifted shut.

            “You’re ambitious aren’t you?”  Takao sniggered, but didn’t move otherwise.  Kai just grunted.

            “I’m not going to waste an opportunity.  Are you?”

            “Then you’d better rest up really well, Kai, because you’re going to need the energy.”

            “Good.”

~*~*~*~*~

            The next morning, Takao was loathe to leave.  But he had to go because Hiro was leaving that day with their father for their next dig.  Hiro was following in their dad’s footsteps and had taken up archaeology and anthropology.

            “I’ll call you later, okay?”  Takao promised, kissing Kai lingeringly several times.  They stood in the doorway wrapped around one another, Kai still dressed in the pyjama bottoms and tank-top he’d thrown on to see Takao out.  “Actually, I should just come over again.  Gramps won’t mind.”

            “Not tonight.  My parents and my grandfather will be back.”  Kai shook his head, ignoring the sudden pang a wave of sadness and regret caused in his chest.

            “Oh.  Well, that’s alright!”  Takao smiled and gave him one last quick peck before peeling himself away from his lover with a laugh.  “I’d better go or I won’t leave at all.”

            He got half-way down the steps when he heard Kai call his name in a hoarse voice.  “Taka…wait!”

            He turned and was caught up in a rough embrace.  Kai buried his face in his midnight blue hair and shuddered.  “Whoa…Kai?  What’s wrong, love?”

            The older teen stiffened at that endearment, but said nothing, swallowing back the response that came automatically.  He wanted to say it, needed to say it, but he just couldn’t.  Not when…  “I’m sorry.  Don’t know what’s the matter with me.”  He mumbled instead.  He felt Takao pat him reassuringly on the back and hug him firmly.

            “It’s okay.  I guess everything’s been a little emotional lately.  Even for you.”  Takao pulled back and pressed a gentle kiss to Kai’s forehead, then his mouth.  “Don’t let it get to you!  Go have some breakfast and bask in the fact that we don’t have to get up for school anymore!”  He grinned and stepped back.  “I’ll see you later, Kai!”

            Kai stood on the steps of his family home, watching the bluenette darn near skip down the drive and felt like the lowest scum of the earth.

            “No, Takao.  You won’t.”

~*~*~*~*~

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