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[personal profile] matsumelrose
Title: Coming Into Us
Rating: NC-17
Word count: ~12,000
Summary: Jun’s campus job takes him to the restricted section of Keio’s main library, where he finds Sho in a magazine.
Warning: mastubation with porn magazine, sex in public place, hint of one-sided Aiba/Sho
Author’s note: This is for the fic exchange in [livejournal.com profile] sakumoto. Written for [profile] mylittlecthulhu[livejournal.com profile] mylittlecthulhu. I've done some final twitchs here and there so this is gonna a bit different from the com's posts.

In case I didn’t deliver it clearly, in this universe, Sho was born off the rich and had to take over family’s business right after college. Jun’s family owned a farm in Sasebo, Nagasaki and he was currently in Keio. Sho was about four years older than Jun.

To [livejournal.com profile] mylittlecthulhu: I tried to feature as many of your promts as I can and this is what I ended up with. I am not sure this is what you have in mind, and if not, I hope at least you enjoy it.

And I have to pay my token of thanks to the mod for her endless patience and to the beta, who has done a great job straightening my flawed English. Thank you both, so much. ♥

*
The cover read,

Men, September 2002, College Issue

Sho was by the open fire at some old clubhouse, taking his wet, mud-splashed clothes off. Two guys with bare chests were playing pool in the next room, a man leaning against the dividing archway, and they were all smiling except for Sho. Jun didn’t understand how they fit together and what Sho was doing there. Sho had never said he didn’t mind stripping down for everyone to see, as long as it meant he could dry himself.

He’d never told Jun he knew what being with a man was like. He’d never said he thought it was fun, or something to look forward to, or something good enough to want that he’d help sell it in a magazine.

Jun returned the magazine to its place in the closed stacks with trembling hands and left early for the day. He tried to avoid thinking about it; he accomplished all his other jobs for weeks, all except the catalog cross-checking he was meant to do. And then one rainy afternoon, his soggy brain kind of laughed about it, finally catching up to this new information that maybe wasn’t really all that new to everyone else.

He started fantasizing about stealing the magazine and keeping it in his room until he could put it somewhere that made sense inside his head. Because it had to end up being sensible, it had to get down to size, or life wouldn’t stop unraveling.

He was on the ground floor of the store, staring at ugly Keio mugs, thinking about ways of getting around stupid magnetic strips that make books go beep, when Julie Kitagawa came up to him and asked if he’d forgotten to work on the contraband serials. She, being completely worthy of being the boss, knew just how to make him feel inadequate about having been thought responsible enough to get the work done before the new academic year started.

So he went back down to the chilled cell that was level B2 of Keio and tried, thinking it would all someday make for a funny conversation topic.

Hey, did I ever tell you about that summer I spent with the smut they keep in the library? Did I tell you, Sho? Yeah, you were there. And I thought you were a private kind of guy. And all the things you said about love and building a home and growing up? None of it made sense anymore.

And on the sixth day, Jun just kind of put his forehead against the hard binding that held the magazines together, running his fingertips over the lettering, and inhaled, thinking he was going to turn into dust.

Everywhere he went, he couldn’t escape the small smiles on the faces in the magazine, like they knew something he didn’t, even though he could smile like that too. Could stand and sit and lie like they did. If he could just figure it out, he could forget about them and things would go back to the way they were. He could stop wondering if Sho ever looked like that in bed with him, or if it’s only in the moments when Jun wasn’t there; that was how Sho would be.

*

His fall semester elective for junior  year was Intro to Art History, which in the past would have been a totally weird choice for him, but Meisa had taken it and told him it was totally easy and would come in handy when crashing parties and ticketed events to get a good scoop. He wasn’t sure if she got that line from her boyfriend and if he would ever be after a story that needed being at parties, but he went, because not being sure was what the enrollment grace period was for.

“What is art?” Everyone in the lecture hall laughed with the professor and Jun shifted in his seat, looking around thinking he couldn’t be the only one who didn’t get it. “How does a work of art captivate, entertain, fascinate?” The two girls with ageha-princess hair in front of him stole glances at each other, and the redhead three rows down started typing. Jun underlined the assignment specs on the syllabus handout.

On the second week, when he came in feeling kind of sure that the class would be okay, there was a lot of chalk flying around, and a PowerPoint presentation that made him nod off. ‘How can a painting of blue and green flowers, all blurry strokes as if the painter needed new glasses and nothing like the flowers you’ve ever seen in your life, mean something to you?’

‘How is it that a photograph of a friend can change the way you see them when the living, breathing thing is someone you see all the time, someone you think you already know so well?’

Jun pocketed what was left of his broken yellow pencil and thought maybe art history wasn’t really for him after all.

‘It’s general knowledge and it’s good for you to know,’ Mom would’ve said if he were to tell her that he was all kinds of lost.
So he stayed.

*

Between classes and work and keeping life going on every fundamental front, he sifted through his memories, looking for the Sho that would fit the one in the magazine and the feelings he couldn’t describe, wondering himself inside out.

And that was how, just as if they had never left and nothing had changed, Sho was back at the center of Jun’s life, like a page continuously falling open because no matter where Jun was in the book, the spine had broken there.

So, really, this was how it began: Sho’s car crashed into him in Sasebo, and neither of them got hurt that day.
                                                                                                                                   

[1. It will not be long, it will occupy your thought]


Jun shucked off his gloves on the way to the den, finding Nino there like smashing his DS with a tunnelled-through bowl of chips beside him.

“I don’t know what my dad’s problem is,” Jun said, making a soft landing on the couch.

Nino looked over. “Yeah? Nice to see you too, Jun.”

Jun blushed. They e-mailed and texted a lot, but they hadn’t seen each other since they split up in August to be freshmen in different places so it was kind of a big deal. “Sorry, Nino.” He reached over for a hug, his foot catching on a plate of dip and vegetables, pushing it deeper under the coffee table.

“It’s all right, man,” Nino said, patting Jun’s back.

“How’s everything?”

Nino smiled, shook his head, like he really was happy Jun was there, and Jun eased into the couch again. “Everything’s great. You know, no complaints. Oh, and I got confirmation before I left. Ryo? The asshole roommate, not the cool one, is finally, finally transferring. So yeah, no complaints at all.”

“Awesome! How did that happen?” Jun didn’t really remember the stories, but he knew there had been some drama in Nino’s dorm. Meisa, who’d already snagged a spot on the campus paper, would call him out for that. “What’s wrong with you?” she’d say. “Take notes!”

“We made it happen,” Nino said, grinning. “Anyway,” he grabbed a handful of chips, “what’s up with you?”

It was probably not something he should have talked about with Nino. Nino wasn’t Meisa.

But the problem was an old one, and Nino was an old friend.

“My dad’s being all moody about Sho coming down tomorrow. He was like this last holiday, too, remember? Except it’s kind of worse this time.’

Nino drew his legs up, balancing the chips on one knee, and moved aside what looked like one of his mom’s law journals. “Your dad got into a snit about the pies even though that’s usually your mom’s thing, worrying about pies.” He picked at the trail of crumbs on his thigh. “Jun, you know, I don’t know, but maybe your dad thinks now that you’re in college, you’d bring someone new home instead of, you know, Sakurai.”

Jun turned his head to face Nino and dropped back when his friend didn’t look up. “What do you mean?”

Nino rubbed his hands together. “Sakurai.”

“Yeah?” Jun hoped there wasn’t a tirade coming about the Sakurais. “What about him?”

Nino was still for a moment before he sighed, took a large swig of soda, and said, “Jun, he was always here for holiday when we were in high school. And fine, you’re his friend and your mom’s a bleeding heart, I guess it was neighborly, too. But then you moved to Tokyo why is he still coming over here for holiday?”

Jun wondered if that was how Dad was thinking about it. But Dad understood how Sho felt about Sasebo. It was kind of home for Sho, too. “It’s tradition,” he said. “holiday not the same without Sho.”

“Right.” Nino leaned over his knees, and resurfaced with what was discernible only at the edges as chips clumped together with dip. “So, your parents ever talk to you about him? I mean, he’s not family, Jun. Like, he’s a friend of the family, maybe, but he’s not family. And they weren’t always happy about you hanging with him.”

“Sho? He comes up,” Jun said carefully, and felt like that wasn’t enough. “Do they do that parental talk thing about him? Not so much now, but yeah; although there’s never anything new being said. You know, ‘You should be hanging out with people your own age,’ and ‘Maybe you should cool things off until you’re a little older,’ and crap like that.” Jun shook his head. “He’s my friend, and he’s a part of my life, and they should get that by now. It’s pretty obvious.”

Nino gave him a look. It wasn’t exactly a funny look, but it made Jun feel all funny inside – as if he’d just done something to give his secret away, as if now Nino knew that he was all freak and no human.

“What?” Jun demanded, not sure if he wanted to hear the answer.

“You know you can tell me anything, right, Jun? Anything.”

“Yeah. Yeah, I know. Thanks, man,” Jun said slowly, a little confused.

Nino just kind of smiled like he was happy Jun was there no matter what, but Jun didn’t get the “what” and he thought that wasn’t how it should be between friends if nothing was being left out. “Yeah. Sorry, Nino. I think I just needed to blow off steam,’ he said. ‘My dad is my dad, right? Can’t change him.”

Nino nodded and reached for the chips, eyes turning back to his DS. “Pies. Don’t forget the pies.”

A lot later, when Jun declined the invitation to stay for dinner and got up to go home, Nino said, “Make some new friends, Jun. We need more people for fantasy baseball and Sho might own sports teams for real, but you said it yourself, he wouldn’t be interested.”


*
Sho held a party at his house and invited him, Meisa, Nino and any of their friends over spring break. Over spongy eggs in the dining hall, Meisa said it sounded like a lifestyles of the rich and famous holiday and she would totally be up for that, but Jun couldn’t bring himself to say yes. In the end, Meisa accepted an invitation to visit her friend in Sapporo, and Nino was always going to stay at home during holidays anyway.

Sho asked on the phone if he was still going back to Sasebo for spring break in a preoccupied voice.

“I sure am,” Jun said, rummaging in his desk drawer for a working pen.

“We can carpool in my car.”

“Yeah, about that…” Jun shove the Sasebo Medical Center pen in his bag, trying to think if he was missing anything for class and work.

“Thanks, Sho, but my dad’s picking me up,” he said. Sho’s silence made him think he should probably explain. “He’s never been to Tokyo so we’re gonna go around first, spend the day here. My dad has to see a supplier.” That was pretty much it, wasn’t it? “But you should come, Sho.”

More silence and Jun was aware of a ticking inside his own heart. He was impatient by nature, his dad had always said, but this was something different.

“I think I’ll pass, Jun. As much as I’d love to, I do need to take care of my work. I think I will stay back in Tokyo for a while.”

Jun threw his Shorthand course pack into his bag and sat down to tie his shoes. “Come over the house after you’re done and stay for dinner. Please?”

“I’d like that,” Sho said, his voice warm.

*

Autumn came early at the start of his sophomore year, and there was a mad rallying cry against it. They – he, Meisa,  some friends from school – got together for a barbecue in the courtyard of their campus building, running up and down the backstairs for supplies, their wooden banisters already cold to the touch. He’d taken it upon himself to get the grill lit and going, knowing he wouldn’t be around for the cleanup.

After stuffing about half a dozen burgers down his throat, he jumped into the shower one more time to get the intense smell of caramelized onions off him, but when he got out, Meisa was already making a new batch, completely shameless.

Sho was coming to get him so they could go check out Sho’s new apartment, the one that was being paid with what Jun referred to as ‘make up money’ from Sho’s dad. Jun wanted to smell right for the occasion.

He was telling Meisa that she was a she-devil when he heard a shout from below.

“I told you, no outdoor sex allowed until after dark!” Meisa shrieked back out the window, arms still locked with Jun’s and wrists flicking to injure him with greasy kitchen implements.

A strange girl came in the door with some empty cups and plates, and a paperback under her arm, mumbling shyly, and Jun had to ask her to repeat what she had said because smothering Meisa with a paper towel was loud business.

“Someone called Sho is here for you, Jun,” she said, circling to get to the sink.

“Have fun, Not-So-Stinky,” Meisa said, kissing his cheek.

He thanked her and went outside, seeing from the top of the stairs that Sho’s car was in the alley.

“Your boyfriend’s here, Matsumoto!” Jin hollered when he was halfway to ground.

“Shut up, Jin,” he said when he passed by, navigating the small crowd around the plastic table heaving with food and half empty jars of mustard and relish.

Akanishi Jin was a loudmouth who ate hoagies like processed meat was going out of style and had a mohawk Jun had decided was a wig made out of straw. He was also the guy Meisa had picked up on their last night at the dorms and a little too in love with her to want to exist for a day at his own place instead. Jun told Nino that one night and Nino said being territorial and whiny wouldn’t help Jun’s own prospects, and didn’t Jun love hoagies too? Jun carried some kind of hate that only never seeing Jin (and possibly hoagies!) again would cure. It made the world a little confusing and depressing.

“Was just being nice, Matsumoto. Where are your manners?”

“Why do you have to go out with that asshole?” he’d said to Meisa.

“Research, Jun. Research.”

Jun had to take a deep breath.

“Hey,” he greeted everyone when he found Sho. “Uh, did you want to stay for a burger or something?”

Sho looked surprised. “No. I just thought I’d say hi to Meisa,” he said. “And old familiar faces,” he added.

“Oh. Yeah. She’s inside,” Jun said, pointing up.

“I see.” Sho’s eyes fluttered, and with an economical smile, he said, “I’ll say hi when I drop you off.”

The drive from campus was fast, as if Sho knew the route by heart. Jun made a joke about it and Sho smiled, ushering him into the building. Meisa had said she’d never thought Sho was a loft-living kind of guy, and Omotesando was a strange neighborhood for him to live in, but when they walked in, Jun got it. Hadn’t expected not to, in any case.

“Cozy, huh?” Sho said, drawing up his sleeves while looking at the papers in the kitchen. The real estate agent looked like she wanted to say something about that, but she just returned to gazing at Jun and waiting.

Jun laughed. He surveyed the double-ceilinged living room, spinning around to catch the row of empty bookshelves on the mezzanine floor above. “Yeah,” he said, even though it wasn’t. It was huge for a place with only one bedroom, wrapped up in Nordic timbering and cool stretches of glass.

But he got it. As far from Sasebo as they were, it was the closest they were going to get to ‘cozy’.

*

They barely saw each other for what felt like a long time, but when spring came, some kind of voicemail critical mass made hanging out inevitable. As much as inevitable could be scheduled around Sho’s schedule and his. They were going to the first game in the first series of the year and sure, the Giant would always be Jun’s team, but he was still pumped. Sho came with a chauffeur, which meant he was probably going to be drinking and saying funny things he’d normally reserve for times when they were completely alone, like at the Sakurai mansion in Sasebo or Sho’s little hideaway in Omotesando, which now was happening at the rate of never.

The car was rolling out of its spot on the street when Sho’s phone rang. Sho apologized, saying he had to take the call. Sho’s mouth grew thin and Jun waited for him to look over so he could give him a smile. “No, father” Sho said, face a little pained, “I’m not coming to the office today.”

He drummed his fingers on the seat, where the leather went over the edge and disappeared.

His eyes flicked up at Jun. “Well, do me a favor and don’t waste any more time calling me back,” he snapped, ending the call. “Sorry about that, Jun,” he said, pocketing the phone.

Jun shrugged, and added that smile when he said, “Maybe next time we should just meet downtown, Sho. Or, you know, wherever we’re going.”

Sho seemed to be contemplating his suggestion like it was business. “And would you prefer that, Jun?”

“Well, you’d save time,” Jun said.

“All the employees at my father’s office need to be more competent,” Sho replied, and froze. “God,” he said, laughing, “I sound like my father.”

“You don’t. You’re not,” Jun argued, words jumbled because the mention of Sho’s father always had that effect on him. “You don’t sound like him at all.”

Sho was breathless. “I sound like an asshole, and me as an asshole equals my father.”

Jun shook his head. ‘You need to relax a little, Sho. Forget about work, your father, and your supposed inheritance.” he said, and thought right away that it was a useless piece of advice for Sho. “Or if you want to talk about it, I’m listening.”

“No. I don’t think—“ Sho righted and composed himself. “Thanks Jun. I appreciate the offer,” he said with the kind of smile that was over spilled from bumping into people who had him on their minds. Jun had only ever been a bystander, catching its residue on the way in or out at the most, but now that smile could also be for him and there was nothing funny or gentle or kind about it anymore.

*

Three weeks into summer, Jun went home to Sasebo for a long weekend. He needed it; didn’t want to burn out in between his library job and an internship at the neighborhood paper back in Tokyo. On Friday, he helped his parents around the farm and ferried supplies he had to pick up in town for the new composting system his dad was trying out.

At the end of the day, he stopped by his old school, where everyone looked incredibly young unless they were someone’s parents. In the cafeteria, Mao’s warm smile met his own, and he could almost pretend nothing had changed and they were still together like back in high school, being boyfriend and girlfriend in all ways wholesome.

“Hey, Jun. Haven’t seen you in forever. Where’s Sho?”

Jun’s chest tightened. He didn’t know Sho was in town, didn’t realize Sho still had time to come down to Sasebo anymore. “I don’t know. Why? What do you need?”

She nudged him aside with the ledger she had in her hand and went behind the bar. “You know, Jun, that’s not always why someone would want to know the whereabouts of someone else.”

He felt really, really bad. “No, you’re right, it’s not.” He went up to the serving end and touched her shoulder. “Sorry, Mao. That was a jerk thing to say. Although, uh, I didn’t really mean it like that.”

“Sometimes it’s just about caring,” Mao said, moving on under the lights like she’d used to after their fumbles, credits for old Hollywood movies rising onto the screen upstairs.

“Yeah. Sure. Of course,” he said, though he wasn’t sure at all. Sho was always out on the road, always hard to get a hold of, and wanting to know where Sho was for the day was to sign up for sadism and mental algebra.

And then somehow, Sho showed up on Sunday, had two slices of pie, and offered to give Jun a ride back to Tokyo.

“Mao asked about you,” Jun said as they approached the turn into town, the green sign for Sasebo hazy in the late afternoon sun.

“We talked.” Sho said, and drove straight on.

Jun remembered how he and Sho used to call each other every single day after moving to Tokyo.

Weeks passed like there wasn’t going to be any letup between sophomore year and junior year, and somewhere in the back of his mind, Jun realized they hadn’t talked in a long time but it didn’t seem all that wrong.

In July, he got his first byline ever in the city: Ueno Park Dog Shelter Running on Empty, Says Ex-Councilman by Matsumoto Jun. And the girl he met in that barbeque party way back last fall, moving back to her hometown after graduating in the spring, kissed him like she’d been meaning to do it for a long time. It left him reeling because for as long as he and Meisa had known her, she’d never once seem interested in anyone. Three days later, the same hard wash of surprise came over him when he was blindsided in the closed stacks by the magazine.


[2. As a city is occupied, as a bed is occupied]

Jun wanted to know what it’d been like on set, when they’d been arranging the poses, when Sho had taken his clothes off. Jun wanted to know what Sho and the man had talked about in bed. If the guys playing pool had sat around with Sho and they’d made fun of each other like Nino did with his friends.

Jun wanted to know, rubbing up against his own hand in the shower – and once in the closed stacks, but just for a second, like a really quick second – if Sho had been with men like that in real life. If during his trips away from Sasebo, he’d wanted and felt and touched someone that
Jun could’ve been too, needing in parts of himself that hadn’t been holding together on their own, reaching out like they both could’ve occupied the same space at the same time, no distance left as they’d come down.

On the worse days, Jun hated the man in Sho’s make-believe bed. Like, with the ‘forever and ever, amen’ kind of hate.

*

“You never call me anymore.” Was what Jun wanted to say, but that wasn’t really the point and a voicemail message should just be about the point. So he said: “Haven’t talked to you in a while. So, call me, okay?”

Checking his messages after shift, he heard the familiar timbre, and felt that palm-sized ache in his chest. “Jun, I never seem to catch you at the right time.”

Jun would think that Sho called only when he knew he wouldn’t get through, except there was the time his digital media lab session suddenly got moved to Thursday afternoon and Sho had left one of his “sorry I missed you, Jun, let’s catch up soon.” messages then too.

*

Mom was in the pantry, playing where-are-the-ingredients-for-mommy’s-recipe. Jun couldn’t shake off the image of Nino with his girlfriend the night before.

“It’s all wrong,” Jun muttered, watching the forks scatter in the sink under the gushing tap water.

“What did you say?”

“Nothing.”

“Jun, what’s this about?” His dad asked from the table, where he was supposed to be doing the crossword instead of getting into other people’s business. “I barely see you nowadays and when I do, you look like you can’t do anything without a frown on your face. And right now you’re talking to yourself, making it sound like life’s no good anymore.”

“It’s nothing, Dad.” Jun sighed, turning the tap off. “Maybe I’m lonely, okay?” he said over his shoulder. “I haven’t seen my old friends in a while. Makes me feel like we’re not really friends anymore.”

“Jun, you saw Nino yes—“ his dad cleared his throat and started again, “People grow apart sometimes. It doesn’t mean they stop being friends.” Jun felt a hand on his shoulder and the soft nub of what was probably his dad’s pencil. “Listen, son, the older you get, the more there is of life. It happens to everyone. Responsibilities, jobs, relationships. And wait until you have a mortgage and a family to worry about. If you keep this up, you won’t have any energy for even one kid, Jun.”

“Dad, I’m nineteen.”

“My point exactly.”

*

Campus had emptied out by Wednesday before winter break started. He was printing a couple of papers on the first floor of the library when the doors to Acquisitions opened and Julie Kitagawa strode through, looking really glad to see him. He knew then he’d be staying until Friday. Meisa was kind of happy about that because she was still working on her data modeling credit for Visualization class, but the last thing he wanted to do was spend more time at work.

He had to go down to B2 with Julie Kitagawa’s list to collect books marked off for transfer into Special Collections. He thought they wouldn’t mind if he dropped off his papers first and went to sleep for the first time in three days.

On Thursday morning, he was probably the only undergrad left in the library except for the people on the re-shelving shift. He found a free cart outside the Classics reading room and took it down the service elevator. The automatic stacks on B2 were on sleep mode, humming like a dreaming metal caterpillar. He slid his pass through the scanner and waited for the locks to disengage before dragging the cart with him into the restricted section. The lights staggered to life all along the aisles as he headed for the APs to pick up the bound volumes of Playboys and Playgirls.

On his way out, he glanced at AP 24 .S16 v.3 2002, thought he could see an imprint of his nose there oiling the leather, and brushed it with his hand.

It felt cool to his fingertips, and innocent the way one pebble among many always was.

He took his hand away because the days when he’d stare at Sho on display, smiling that ‘See anything you like, Jun?’ smile, were supposed to be over. Art History as therapy was supposed to be working.

He was startled by a noise he made, and realized the tightness spreading down his jeans was the drag of his own hand, palm open, fingers clutching at the fabric. He leaned into the shelving, face buried along the spines of bound periodicals. Sho had books like them in his house, and they smelled rich; different, and full of possibilities. And once Jun had told himself he would read them all, but there had always been too many, and their life had been too full of hide-and-seek.

Sinking down to the concrete floor, he tugged AP 24 .S16 v.3 2002 out of the shelf. It tumbled into his hands, opening to the creased pages of Sho. Sho naked in the chair, the office, in the bed with the guy who was not Jun. Sho in the college club, a streak of mud on his shoulder. Jun set the hardbound volumes down on the ground, where the cover struck loudly and pushed against his thigh. He thought of rubbing against Sho’s bare chest, kissing his neck slowly and asking if it was all right to touch himself, asking if Sho wanted to watch as he unbuttoned, pulled his zipper down and stroked through the warm air escaping from underneath his clothes.

He held on to the edges of the lowest shelf where it met the upright bar, touched Sho’s open face, the eyes waiting for something, for someone. He rubbed the paper until it felt like it would tear from his damp fingers, bit into his sweater until it was wet hot, and stroked himself.

His breathing seemed like it filled all the dark spaces in the aisles that the ticking of the timer on the lights couldn’t, and he thought of how Sho used to sidle up to him from nowhere, smiling for a shared secret. He came in his boxers, spilling down the insides of his thighs. His hands were shaking when he closed the magazine, and it felt like the world had slowed down but his heart wouldn’t follow because it was still chasing a somewhere else.

He scrawled an apologetic but officious note on the book cart, pushed it to one side so it lined up neatly against the stacks, and went home.

After a really long shower full of stupid feelings that wouldn’t dissipate, he dragged Meisa out to the diner around the corner because she needed to have something other than coffee grounds between her teeth and he needed to tell someone.

“So he modeled,” Meisa said, scooping up some baked potato from her bowl, chunks of cheddar going rogue over the rim.

“Naked,” Jun said. “With other naked guys.”

"Like, nude shots?” She chewed.

He just explained what was on the different pages, putting in the details so she’d get the picture.

“Oh.” She flushed and put the spoon down. “Are you okay?” she asked. After a moment, she reached out for his hand but withdrew before she got there.

Maybe he was looking kind of unhinged because that was definitely how he felt about her reaction. “That’s it? That’s how you’re dealing with the news that there’s a magazine in the library with Sho naked in it for … you know, for people to jerk off to?” And he knew he was blushing then, and there was no way ever that he would tell her about the other thing, the I-jerked-off-to-it-myself-in-the-stacks thing.

“Sorry,” she said, clearly not meaning it. “After all these years, I stopped being shocked by Sho.”

“Okay,” Jun said slowly. “So you’re not shocked. Okay. Fine. But aren’t you even curious about it?”

“You mean, do I want to see it?” she asked, eyebrows furrowing. “No, I don’t, Jun.”

“Why don’t you want to see it?”

Meisa stared at him. “Why would I want to see it?”

“It’s not because it’s gay porn, right?” he asked, fiddling with what passed for a paper napkin in a campus neighborhood.

He got an eye-roll for his troubles. “It’s because he’s my friend, you douche. I don’t need to see my friend in porn, okay? Even if it’s softcore or artistic or whatever.”

Jun had to think about that. “Yeah. Sure. I get it.”

She leaned back, fork jabbed into the side of the potato. “Do you?”

It wasn’t going to be the last time they’d talk about Sho and the magazine, but whenever the subject came up again, there was a kind of mutual agreement about how he couldn’t get it out of his mind and she could if only he would.

Part 2

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