A/N: Omfg I was just looking around my computer and I guess I actually finished this chapter in September but forgot about it... Sorry? XD
Yeah I know...ORZ please forgive me.
Nagihiko had told Tadase that not many people came by this small town; while it was a tourist destination it was by no means a hot-spot. So naturally, Tadase expected things to be quite slow at the inn.
He had no such luck.
Apparently people were flocking to the town in record numbers, which, according to how Nagihiko described it, seemed about accurate.
For about a week there was a seemingly endless stream of people loitering about the lobby, requesting blankets and spare room keys, demanding their room be cleaned, complaining about this or that. It was a nightmare.
And even though the sign in book indicated there were only fifteen rooms occupied (well, it could have been some other number entirely, who knew with Fujisaki's handwriting) it felt like there were a thousand people lurking throughout the halls of the building.
Tadase had really not been prepared for how busy his schedule was going to be during his summer break.
"You know," Kukai complained, plopping down in a chair behind the front desk one afternoon as he took a break from cleaning, "If I had known just how much work I would be doing here, I probably wouldn't have come."
"Oh, it's not that bad. And at least we're right by the beach," Tadase replied, trying to calculate the total cost of a room occupied by an older woman with an impatient disposition.
"And that's great, if we can ever get to the beach," Kukai complained, rocking back in his chair as he scowled at the ceiling. "I mean, we've been here almost a week already and I haven't barely had a break once."
"That's because you keep slacking off during the day. Since I don't run off during my shifts I get the evenings off."
"Yeah about that… where have you been going every night?"
Tadase didn't answer for a moment.
The truth was, he was going to see Ikuto every night when he got out of work.
Well, of course it wasn't that simple. The first two times he had just wandered around until he "bumped into" Ikuto, but the taller boy quickly caught on that their meetings weren't as accidental as Tadase might have wanted him to believe.
"You are totally into me," Ikuto had proclaimed after running into Tadase for the fourth night in a row.
"What?! What are you talking about?" Tadase stammered, his face slowly turning pink yet again as he turned away. "That's ridiculous!"
"This is the fourth night we've "accidentally" met up in the row, and you're trying to tell me you're not trying to find me?" Ikuto smirked, causing Tadase's heart to pound in a way that made it difficult to think.
"But… Maybe you're just trying to run into me at night, huh?"
"Well of course, sweetheart. But that doesn't mean you're not seeking me out as well."
"Dude, are you in there?"
Tadase shook his head, trying to chase out memories of Ikuto so that he could focus on the boy in front of him.
Kukai was giving him a rather knowing look, that left Tadase stumbling over himself. "Oh, sorry! Um… I've just been walking around, getting to know the area."
And that was kind of right. Tadase had spent a few hours walking around with Ikuto, and it had helped him to get familiar with the area. But he had also spent a lot of time laying in the grass beside him, causally flirting.
Tadase had really gotten to know Ikuto a lot more than the surrounding area.
Like, he had found out Ikuto lived with his mother on the outskirts of town (when Tadase tried to get him to expand on this he more or less refused, leaving Tadase with the suspicion he was trying to hide this from him). Of course he never answered Tadase's questions on why the town's people disliked him, but he guessed he understood why and eventually stopped asking Ikuto about it.
"Well, you must have seen pretty much everything here by now…" Kukai started before trailing off. His eyes suddenly flashed open and he smirked at his friend. "Dude, you met a guy didn't you?"
"What? No! Of course not!" And maybe Tadase's denials would have been believed, but his face began to take on the light shade of pink that occurred whenever he was nearby, or even thought about, Ikuto.
"Dude, you're blushing!" Kukai yelled, a huge grin taking over his face as he began to repeatedly slap Tadase's shoulder in his excitement. "You only blush when you like a guy! Who is it?"
"Nobody! There's no guy."
Although Kukai was Tadase's best friend, and an all-around good and trustworthy guy, he didn't think it was wise to tell him. Not because he would tease him about it or anything (although he definitely would) but because with a little bit of coaxing Amu would find out, and then it wouldn't be long before she told Nagihiko. And while under normal circumstances Tadase wouldn't care if Nagihiko knew who he liked (he was actually pretty good to go to for relationship advice) Ikuto said he shouldn't tell anyone that they were close. He wasn't sure how Nagihiko would react to this information, but if how he reacted when Tadase asked him about Ikuto earlier was any indication, then it would not be good.
"Sure there isn't."
Kukai looked highly skeptical, and Tadase supposed that was understandable. He did get fairly flustered while around attractive men, the same way Amu did (when he first met Nagihiko a few years past he couldn't look him in the eye for weeks).
"What about Amu? Has she gone off and found a hot guy?"
Kukai's face darkened slightly at Tadase's fool-proof way to change the subject. Tadase still wasn't quite sure on Kukai's exact feelings for the girl, but he was sure they ranged somewhere between crush and brotherly love, so, either way, Kukai would not be happy if she started dating someone.
"No, I didn't think so. Why? Did you see her with someone? Was it that Fuyuki guy?"
Tadase had to bite back a laugh; Kukai's reaction was so much unlike him that instead of being unsettling (like it should have) it just came off as funny.
"No, I was just wondering."
Kukai relaxed a little bit, before letting out a small sigh. "We'll that's good."
Tadase could have pushed him a little more on the topic, but he figured that that would be a little cruel and Kukai didn't need any added embarrassment. Instead, he just turned back to the paper and continued his calculations.
Well, at least he tried to. Lately, it had been hard for him to keep his focus on work as his mind kept drifting to a certain someone, and you could probably guess who that was.
Tadase had never been the type to go through the days in a love sick daze, but something about Ikuto was just so dazzlingly appealing that he couldn't think of anything else. And no, it wasn't just because he was handsome (but god, if Ikuto wasn't the definition of handsome then he didn't know who was) but it was more like his personality was what made him so attractive.
Ikuto was so cool, so smooth and flirtatious, but yet he had none of the cocky mannerisms that usually came with men of such personalities. He was modest and kind, and he didn't ever try to make himself seem better than Tadase. More than that, he didn't push Tadase at all. Not away (as most people had by this point in his life) and not to make their relationship progress too far too quickly. Rather, he just seemed to relish their current situation, the awkward friends but yet something more air that surrounded them.
But yet sometimes they'd touch (and no, not in any sort of "perverted" or indecent way) and the brush of his hand against Tadase's or the tickling of his dark blue hair on the back of his neck would send him into a state of flux. He couldn't even imagine what it would be like when, or rather if, Ikuto ever kissed him.
Or maybe they would do more than that….
Tadase blushed just at the thought of getting to do more with Ikuto than kissing, and Kukai shot up from his chair.
"See! You're blushing again! There's totally a guy!" Kukai lunged forward excitedly, grabbing Tadase's shoulders and shaking him back and forth. He grinned (somewhat maniacally) "Dude, who is it? You've got to tell me! I can be your wingman! I can hook you up!"
"I said there wasn't a guy!" Tadase insisted, trying to move on from this subject before Nagihiko (or worse, his aunt) heard the noise and got involved.
"Then why were you blushing?"
"You mean you're hot… for a guy!"
Tadase pushed Kukai away and began to walk away from the front desk, and towards the hallway holding the staff rooms. "As if, dude."
"Hey, don't walk away from me while I'm talking to you!"
"I'm going to use the restroom," Tadase replied, not really having to but rather wanting to get away from Kukai before he managed to figure something out (because knowing Kukai, he wouldn't rest until he did).
"Hey, wait a-"
"SOUMA-KUN, WHY AREN'T YOU WORKING?" Nagihiko's aunt's voice rang out throughout the hallway as Tadase reached for the handle on the bathroom door.
"WHAT DID I SAY ABOUT SWEARING?"
Tadase shook his head as he ducked into the bathroom, glad that Kukai was on the receiving end of this lecture and not him.
That night Tadase left the inn after finishing his duties to, once again, meet up with Ikuto. At least this time he didn't have to wander around until he met the older male; Ikuto had asked to meet up with him on the edge of the forest. Although this location was a bit of a walk, it made it more remote than most of the other places the boys could meet up at, and therefore there was less of a chance that anyone could catch them together (still, Tadase had no idea whatsoever why this would be such a bad thing).
Tadase still couldn't get over how nervous he was every time he met up with Ikuto. Or maybe he wasn't exactly nervous, but his heart was always pounding away in his chest as if he was.
Ikuto greeted Tadase coolly from where he sat beneath the trunks of the tall trees that formed a small "forest" on the outskirts of the town. Tadase smiled as he reached the taller man, and sat down next to him in the grass. "Hi."
"How was your day?" Ikuto asked, leaning against the trunk of a tree as he stared at Tadase. Tadase, unable to meet his gaze, looked a few inches to the left of his face as he replied.
"It was pretty good. My friend kept harassing me about what I'm doing every night."
"Ah," Ikuto said with a small nod, as if it was very interesting news, "What did you tell him?"
"That I was just looking around the area," Tadase replied, causing Ikuto to chuckle.
"And he believed that?"
Tadase shook his head. "No. He was convinced I'd fallen madly in love with some guy and was sneaking out to see him."
"Oh, so basically he figured it all out," Ikuto replied, his tone serious but a small smirk playing on the corners of his lips. Tadase blushed and looked away.
"Of course not," he murmured. But even though he denied it, he would have to say Ikuto was right. Well, maybe not about the being "madly in love," part (because who could say it was love after only a few days?) but rather that he was really into Ikuto.
"It'd be okay, you know," Ikuto said, his tone just as serious as before, but when Tadase looked up he saw that the joking look on his face was long gone.
"What would?" Tadase questioned, not sure what Ikuto meant.
Staring Tadase straight in the eyes he replied, "It would be okay if you were madly in love with me."
"Wha-?" Tadase could barely breathe.
"Because I really like you."
Tadase was practically hyperventilating at this point. No way was this happening. No. Way.
"I-I-" Tadase struggled to speak, but found it hard when he was look right into Ikuto's deep blue eyes. He glanced down at his hands (which he was now wringing desperately) and then the grass and the sky, before finding himself able to look at Ikuto once again.
"I... I really like you too," he finally managed to say, his heart beating so rapidly he was sure he would just fall over dead in this moment.
Ikuto let out a small breath, one that left Tadase feeling that even though he acted all cool and confident and in-control, Ikuto probably was just as nervous as he was.
Tadase got back to the inn late that night.