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[personal profile] matsumelrose
Winter wheedled and schemed his junior year, and spring had to come twisting for the days to break green. The sidewalks were soaked with rain, and Jun had his head down, hating himself in varying degrees when he woke up in the mornings.

When he went downstairs to get the door one Sunday in April, it wasn’t who he’d been expecting. He paused on the landing, watching Sho stand very still outside, hands gloved like he might have driven down himself.

Jun wanted to open the door and reach out, draw Sho in from the wet, and inhale the scent of his damp collar. But the morning in the closed stacks, hands clammy and heart beating fast, flashed across his mind. He felt really awful.

“Didn’t realize you still know where I live,” Jun said as he opened the door. It was meant to be friendly, but it came out like a kick to the stomach and he was half-afraid that Sho would just turn around and leave even though right there he was close enough for Jun to touch and drag his fingertips down.

Sho made a face like he got how Jun was feeling, but he couldn’t have. “I don’t know what you want from me, Jun,” he said after a moment. “I know I haven’t been around much, but I’m here now and I don’t think even I deserve that kind of welcome.”

“Whatever, Sho,” Jun said. “It was a joke, okay? Relax.”

They stood there, the open door letting the sound of rain in.

“It’s been a crazy year,” Sho offered in the silence.

“No kidding.”

“Meisa,” Jun’s stomach dropped at the mention of her name, “thinks you haven’t been yourself lately. I thought I’d stop by and be able to assure her that you’re fine, that I don’t need to worry about you, but I can see I was wrong. I’ll be back—“

“What did she say?”

“—in a couple of weeks,” Sho said. “Let’s get together when I get back. I’ll ask my butler to clear my schedule and we can hang out.”

“What did Meisa say to you, Sho?” Jun pressed, all hollowed out.

“She said you’ve been spending most of your time alone, and mostly in the library. She was especially worried about the library,” Sho said, sounding kind of amused about that. Jun didn’t think his tone would be so light if Meisa had told him about the whole thing with the magazine.

“Her theory is that you’ve run up wild gambling debts and now have to work all day and night just to keep the bookies at bay. I told her you’re probably just getting serious about school now that you’re a junior and the year is almost over.” Then Sho grinned apologetically, eyes searching Jun’s. “And I’ve checked with all the bookies in Tokyo. They’ve never even heard of you.”

They shared an awkward laugh, and Jun wanted to say how much he wanted things to go back to the way they were.

“What’s up, Jun?” Sho said, so softly that any answer in the world would probably land safe and sound.

Jun toed the door frame. “I’m fine, Sho,” he finally said, lifting up his head. “You’re right. I’m getting serious and that’s all. I mean, thanks for caring, but please don’t waste any more of your time looking stuff up,” he said, everything coming out in a rush to take the place of bigger things.


“No, really.” He grabbed Sho’s shoulder for a rub, slow because he was trying to be gentle, to respect whatever it was they had now. “Call me when you get back.”


He was waiting for Meisa when she came back from tate practice, face streaked with wet hair.

“Off the bed, Jun.”

He scooted and decided to stand up while he was at it. “Meisa, why did you go and tell Sho that you were worried about me? Why didn’t you just tell me?”

She set her katana down carefully. “I don’t know. It just happened.”

“Things don’t just happen.”

“No, you’re right, Jun,” she said with a sharp smile, whipping a towel out of her gym bag. “Things don’t just happen. Thank you.”

He was almost regretting that she had a couple of big sticks nearby.

“Jun, there has to be a reason for what’s been going on with you. People don’t just shut themselves up in the library unless there’s a reason for it, Jun.” He knew what she was getting at and he burned with embarrassment. “They don’t just stop spending time with their friends or talking to them unless they’re pissed off or sad or something,” Meisa said, in a low voice now. “And they especially don’t act as if their best friend doesn’t exist anymore unless some major reason-induced fallout happened.”

“Who are we talking about here?”

“You! You and Sho,” she said, sounding a little sad, and he hated that. “And you and Nino, and your parents.”

“My family’s fine.”

“They haven’t seen you in months, Jun.” She sat on her chair, setting her elbows on the adjustable arms, digging herself in. “You used to go home every couple of weeks.” Her frown deepened. “Sho used to go with you there.”

“What? That has nothing to do with Sho. I’ve been really busy with stuff. You know my schedule. It’s nuts! Whatever you’ve made your mind up about, not everything has to do with Sho,” he sputtered. “I’ve gone home without him plenty of times. I’ve gone home even after he got too busy to go down our house himself.”

She quietly searched his face.

“Honestly, Jun? Do you really think he took those trips with you because he wanted to check on the family?”

“What are you saying?” he asked, not really wanting her to answer.

“Did you guys start dating in secret and then break up or something?” she asked, and bit her lip. “That’s what Nino thinks,” she told him. “And if he’s right, you don’t need to tell me the reason why. I thought you were overreacting, except not, because you grew up in Sasebo, but then I thought you were still being kind of weird about it anyway and so all this time—“

“No. I don’t know. No! No, that’s not it at all,” he said, rambling because he just wanted her to shut up. He sank back down onto the bed. “Why does he think that? Do you think that?”

She smiled softly. “It would make sense except you suck at keeping secrets.”

He thought of Sho flipping open the pages of a magazine and finding him there, naked, standing in the storm cellar, opening the grey ship that carried him to earth, the bright light shining on his body. He thought of lying on his side in the caves, the sigil on his chest, the power coursing through every blood vessel in him, and Sho catching sight of everything. He wondered what Sho would have to say about his smile.


He couldn’t decide if it was unfair that the memos he’d missed in life would, one way or another, reappear as porn.

He rubbed his face with his hands and took deep breaths. “You asked me a while back if I cared about him being gay or bi or maybe being neither but at least totally okay with featuring in a gay porn mag, and I said no, but actually I do,” he said. “But only because, like, maybe if I’d known, all these years I wouldn’t have just been his friend or whatever.”

Meisa sighed and didn’t say anything, just swung over from the chair and hooked her arm around his.

Two weeks later, an email from someone called Okada said Sho was back at the office and he would like to have dinner with Jun on a night that worked for them both.

In the elevator up, Jun thought of the view of the city grids below and realized how much he was looking forward to seeing it again. When the doors opened, he was smiling to a floor too loud for seven in the evening.

“Sho says you know the way?” someone who might have been Okada said, folders in one arm and a bag of chopsticks in another.

Jun nodded, making way for a cart of document boxes whizzing into another elevator. “Yeah. Thanks. Two lefts and a long right,” he said, already walking.

From the long, glassed-in corridor, he could watch the traffic on Tokyo streets inch forward both ways, lights flickering red.

There were three clusters of people in the office, two around the coffee tables in the far corners and one at Sho’s desk, where Sho wasn’t.

He was trying to isolate Sho’s voice when Sho stood up from one of the low armchairs and came over, sleeves rolled halfway up his forearms and dusky at the edges. He was glowing with what smelled like a takeover bid in the works. “I’m very sorry about this, Jun. Give me a half hour?”

God. Jun was just happy to see him. Nervous, but happy. “No problem, Sho.”

“Sit down,” Sho gestured at his desk. “Use the computer if you want. On second thought, I’ll get someone to give you one. Grab a chair over there,” he said, pointing to where he’d been earlier. “And help yourself if you’re hungry,” he added, and Jun noticed the trays of wraps and sandwiches at the bar.

Jun grabbed a soda so Sho would get back to work and headed to the side of the office facing downtown and, far off in the distance, Tokyo Bay.

It would be different here, he thought, because of the memories. Sometimes they’d be spread over the sofas. He’d be doing homework and Sho would be running through the operations databases, both having freshman years of sorts. Other times they’d be on the floor, full of Chinese or pizza or hoagies, staring at the impossibly high ceiling. Sho would be talking about weather patterns or canine disorders and Jun would just lie there listening to the sound of Sho’s sentences and punctuations. And there was the time Jun had been cramming for an exam he’d thought he’d fail, and Sho had guided him through a whole semester’s worth of work. At the desk, Jun had hovered over Sho, watching him cut the online material down to size. In all those hours, he could’ve rested his chin on Sho’s shoulder, could’ve kissed his neck, feeling the blowback of his own breath against Sho’s cool skin. He’d been giddy about something, but not about being with Sho in that way because, whatever they’d been, nothing like it had happened.

He looked up and saw Sho watching him in the glass.

“Freshman year,” he heard himself say, “I was flunking Intro to Communications and you stayed up all night to help me cram for the exam. I never thanked you for that.”

“You never had to.”

“Yeah, I did. But I didn’t think about it at the time. I just wasn’t thinking it.”

The expression Jun was learning to read on Sho’s face was of Sho not knowing what Jun wanted from him.

“I have to go,” Jun said, turning away from the Sho in the glass. “All this talk about thinking …” he started, setting his soda down. “Let’s do dinner some other night. You’re busy and I just remembered I have an in-class exam in a couple of days and I haven’t started studying for it.”

Sho frowned. “Don’t you still have a month until all that?”

“It’s more like a pop quiz, but it’s going to count for twenty percent.” Jun told him. “I only know about it because I overheard my professor talking about it with the TA when I was coming out the bathroom.” That part was true, at least. “I’m sorry Sho. Catch you later, okay?”

Jun paused for a moment when he was about to pass Sho. He wanted to put a hand on Sho’s shoulder, wanted to say something more. But he couldn’t do it.

In the long corridor, he heard Sho’s voice. “Jun, hold up.”

He turned around and stood still under the glow of a ceiling light where the night, if he were to turn and look, would be the deepest ink blue.

“What was that back there Jun?” Sho’s shoulders were squared, the shadows brushed away from the white of his collar.

“I have to study, Sho. And you have work to do.” Jun said. “Tonight isn’t looking like the best night for dinner.”

“You’re welcome to study here Jun, if you don’t mind the crowd back there.” Sho said. “We can order the Chinese in.” he added, his smile wry.

“It’s possible I was being optimistic about being done in half an hour.”

Jun held his hands open. “I didn’t bring my stuff with me.”

“The materials aren’t online?”

“Come on Sho. It’s really not going to happen tonight.”

Sho rubbed the back of his neck. “All right. So let’s reschedule.” he said. “Tomorrow night?”

Jun would love to blow off his study group, but they’d already booked one of the rooms in the library and those were hard to get. “How about this weekend?” He suggested. “I was thinking of going to Sasebo on Friday. Do you need to go to the plant for anything?”

Sho exhaled and put his hands in his pockets. “No. I don’t. And I have a big meeting on Friday.”

“Then drive down for dinner when you’re done.” Jun said, although it sounded more like he was asking if Sho could, if Sho would and wanted to.

“Sounds good Jun.” Sho said. It was him who rubbed Jun’s shoulder this time, and it was Jun who left. He wondered if at his doorstep Sho had wanted to lean into his touch too and stay right there.


Jun heard the telltale sounds and headed for the stairs, pausing to check if he looked all right when he went by his parent’s room and their huge-ass mirror.

He got to the kitchen in time to see Sho walk in.

“Sorry about that Mrs. Matsumoto. I didn’t think I’d make it if I didn’t take the chopper.” He said, embracing Jun’s mom. “I’ll get someone from the plant to check on the field first thing tomorrow morning.” His mom clucked at Sho and said she was happy to see him again. Sho put the box he was carrying down on the counter, fingers caught for a moment in the baker’s string and smiling.

The table was set and the food was almost done, and Sho probably knew that, but his eyes would soon sweep around, looking for something to do because at these dinners, Jun’s parents didn’t entertain. So Jun stepped forward, hands in his pockets.

“Hey Jun.” Sho said, eyes meeting his.      

Much later, when the food was finally settling down in his stomach, he heard his mom say through the wall that separated his bedroom and theirs, “It was nice to see Sho again, wasn’t it? Scoot up Shin.”

“Are we going to be expecting him every time Jun decides he’s willing to see us? Is that the compromise?”

Jun sat down on his bed, careful not to make it creak. He didn’t want to listen to them, but if he had to, he wanted to hear everything, loud and clear.

“Not everything is about you, Matsumoto Shin.” His mom chided. “And don’t start making up stories about Jun and compromises. Who knows what kind of life he’s trying to live. Not yours, that’s for sure.”


“Did he ever—did you ever hear him say anything?” Jun said, balancing Meisa’s books in his arms. A grad student sighed pointedly from the table at the center of the reading room. “When we were in Sasebo, or later?”

“No Jun.” she said, absorbed in her OMG FINALS HERE WE COME list and not needing clarification. She knew whom he meant in his non-sequiturs. “But, as much as it pains me to say this, life isn’t only about getting all the quotes.”


Turning twenty didn’t feel like anything special, but he made a show of being happy and excited. When Meisa had rambled about a super club and snazzy drinks, Jun had thought she’d meant a diner that served mix-your-own malts and had a jukebox in the corner, not a place with dancing and a cover big enough to be a present for his birthday; but he’d said he was up for anything and he knew Meisa needed to let off steam after weeks of studying.

“There he is! Sho!” Meisa shouted in her shimmying dress. Across the ocean of beautiful people on the dance floor, Sho turned and smiled at them, as if he was the one with super awesome hearing. Meisa pulled hard. “Come on, let’s dance over.”

Sho laughed, tipping his head back, and Jun saw the face of the person he was with. He was about the same age as Sho, fair-haired, with the kind of sly, intelligent smile the philosophy grads at Keio had. Sho and the stranger shared a look and Jun wondered if they would hold it and whether he and Meisa would be breaking the moment because they were almost there now.

A moment later the guy was pulling in for a kiss, slow like a long throw from the outfield in little league, and Jun really didn’t know what to do then other than stop like his chest was being hammered into a thousand times over.

Meisa yelped, saying something about her foot. She followed his gaze and tugged at his shirt, eyes soft. “Now we know.” She said, gesturing in Sho’s direction. “And he knows we, or more importantly, you know that about him. It’s all good, Jun.” If his head wasn’t already spinning, it spun then.

Before he could ask what she’d meant, he felt his phone buzz. He took it out to look, hand unsteady.

Hey Adults! Huzzah! Beers on me when ICU Love U man no matter what Nino

“He capitalized! That’s sweet.” Meisa said, reading upside down.

“Hey Meisa, Jun.” Sho said, kissing Meisa’s cheek and pulling Jun into a quick hug. “Happy Coming-of-age!”

Jun smiled even though he didn’t want to and let go of Meisa’s hand. ‘Thanks, Sho.’

Sho introduced the guy as Aiba Masaki, and Meisa and Jun as old friends from Sasebo. Something in Aiba’s eyes when they shook hands made Jun feel no less uneasy.

‘Come to our table,’ Aiba said. ‘It’s easier to talk there. And you’re probably hungry?’

Meisa grinned. ‘Jun is always hungry.’

Aiba led Meisa up a short set of stairs and Jun followed, glancing back at Sho, who only smiled.

A bottle of champagne came to the table, and what would be finger food except there were forks and knives for eating them. They clinked glasses in honor of Jun’s birthday and at some point, Jun shared a smile with Meisa because it was really kind of great that they’d been friends since junior high and now they were adults together.

After only melting cups of sorbet and cream were left to eat on the table, and they were all silent in the noise of the club as they started on their third bottle of champagne, Aiba cleared his throat and took Meisa away for a dance.

“She’s a great girl.” Sho said, looking over Jun’s shoulder at the dance floor. “And one of your best friends.” He took a swig of champagne. “You’re very lucky Jun.”

Jun stared at Sho, watched his throat work the drink down and couldn’t say anything but, “If you think you’re on a double-date you’re wrong Sho.”

Sho finished his glass and poured another. “So, no one is on a date tonight.” He said, eyes on Jun.


“I know we’re not in the habit of giving presents to each other,” Sho started, stretching his legs. It used to be funny when Sho said that because he’d be saying it while giving Jun a present. Now the statement was true all down to its bare bones. “But it’s your twenty and as someone who’s done the whole twenty birthday thing, I feel I should ask you what you want to help you celebrate.”

“We’re hanging out. That’s good enough for me.” Jun said, smiling back at Sho, unsure if being so close and alone was all right.

“Is it?” Sho laughed. “That’s the Matsumoto spirit of making do with what you have, right?”

Jun turned to look at Sho and somehow ended up reaching out for his sleeve, grasping at his wrist. It wasn’t all edges like he’d imagined it to be.

“I’m… I don’t have anything planned. I’m just—“


“—trying to see where life is going to take me, and just looking over where it’s taken me so far, you know?”

Sho shifted and carefully retrieved his hand. His laugh was dry. “I think this champagne is starting to take you places already.”

“And I think you’re being a coward.” Jun said boldly, looking straight into his eyes.

“If you only knew, Jun.” Sho said. He looked incredibly bitter.

Jun leaned in, trying for Sho’s face but ended up catching his neck instead because Sho had outmaneuvered him. Sho’s skin felt electric, the goose bumps a tread Jun wanted to follow forever and ever.

“Stop.” Sho hissed.

“Because you don’t want me to kiss you?” Jun asked into Sho’s skin.

Sucking in a breath, Sho got up. “You don’t want this, Jun.”

“Why?” Jun followed and tried to grab Sho when he stepped back, pushed Jun away. “Sho?”

“He’s like a brother to you. He’s a really good friend.” Aiba snapped from behind Jun. “You said he wouldn’t know what gay was if it hit him on the head. Well, looks like it’s hit, Sho.” When neither of them replied, he shook his head and walked away.

“Aiba wait!” Sho called after him. “Shit.” He grabbed his cell from the table and signed his name on the tablecloth like a crazy person. “You and I, we’re going to talk.” Sho said to Jun, and went after Aiba.

Aiba didn’t act like he wanted to give Sho the time of day, and Jun hoped he wouldn’t, hoped he’d just leave, but he gave in like everyone always did when Sho was serious about something. Aiba shot Jun an irritated look and minutes later, he and Sho both were leaving the club.

Through the crowd of dancers and the half-abandoned tables, Jun watched them go, trying not to seem disappointed and hurt, and spectacularly failing because his eyes were staging a mutiny.

“Maybe he didn’t mean tonight.” Meisa said into his ear, probably having seen everything. She hugged him, swaying slowly, pulling his attention away from the doors.

After too many shots which apparently Sho’s ballpoint graffiti would pay for, they crawled home and into her bed, where she managed to perk up for a moment before nodding off. “Screw finals and screw Sho and that hairball Aiba. We’ll celebrate more tomorrow, Jun, so don’t give up on your birthday yet.”

Jun gave her a kiss on the nose and got up, thinking he was an adult now and capable of being one.

“Sorry about what happened tonight,” he said into the phone. “I wasn’t thinking. I’m all messed up. I’m not sure where we’re at.” I don’t know what to do about the things we didn’t have.

He ended the call before he could delete the message and went to take the longest sleep of his life, dreaming of Sho right up to all the edges of his bed.


Jun was rifling through Meisa’s Journalism Ethics printouts in the living room when the phone rang. It was his parents, yelling HAPPY BIRTHDAY! in unison. He squelched the feeling of wanting to speed home to hug them.

“How was your birthday, Jun? Hope you’re still going to be ready for finals.” His dad said, now on the phone alone, or almost.

Jun told him about going out with Meisa to celebrate and digging in to study the next day. He said nothing about Sho because there would be too much story to tell or maybe to defend and he didn’t have all the right pieces for that.

“Everything all set for this weekend, son? Your mom’s been practicing from a new recipe book. We’ve been eating cake for five days straight.”
That would explain the intensity of their cheer earlier, Jun thought. “Yeah, but I’ll be there Friday night Dad.”

He could almost hear his dad grin. “Not done with your papers yet?”

“No, it’s not that. Julie Kitagawa wants me to come in on Friday.”

“Finals week and they’re still working you hard, huh?”

“We’re trying to wrap up in the restricted section.” Jun explained, feeling achy. “The Head Librarian wants a report.”

“You know, in my day, students couldn’t get in there even if they were—Hold on. Your mom wants to know if any of your friends are coming.” his dad said. “Hold on.” There was a rustling like the phone was rubbing up against something, and he could almost hear his mom in the background.

“Jun, she said you need to tell her if anyone has allergies. Don’t want another episode like the one a few years back. What was his name? Wong?” Another rustle, and the click clack of people moving around the kitchen. “Toma! Toma!” his dad said, apologetic. “You were always better with languages than me.” Jun could hear him say, all gooey, and he couldn’t help but smile.

After a celebratory breakfast with Meisa, Jun went into the library and headed up to Julie Kitagawa’s office.

“You’re late and she’s in a meeting.” Someone said from across the hall. The man waved Jun in and pushed some papers at him. “Make sure all these are in order and double-check that the items are still there.” He told Jun, as if in the shuffle from the restricted section to Special Collections someone would’ve dared to steal something. “She’ll talk to you next week, if you’re here for the summer.”

Jun nodded, but the man wasn’t looking at him anyway so he left and took the stairs down to B2. He could hear a couple of people talking in the automatic stacks, and then a hush as he passed by.

He worked following the aisles, the match of locations and numbers all in his head like something buried so deep he didn’t have to think it about anymore. At the APs, he saw the call numbers for Men on the list, didn’t even have to look at the title, and knew they weren’t going anywhere. He wondered if his access to the restricted section would be taken away when his work was done, wondered if today could be that day.

There was no harm in looking one last time, he thought, and sat down with it, opening the pages to the 2002 September issue, to Sho, a little worn from Jun’s thoughts all year long.

Jun’s fingers ran across the pink newspaper in the photograph, Sho’s bare knees and the curve of his ankles. He’d felt Sho’s skin underneath his lips now, could imagine with some authority what it would be like to kiss Sho’s feet and trace them with his nose pressed close, inhaling.

In the office that wasn’t Sho’s own, Jun could imagine sitting on the desk and asking Sho if he wanted Chinese, if they could go again against the glass before dinner came. And Sho would laugh and give over his wrists for Jun to take hold of. Jun would cling to him and ask him to tell a story in between hitched breaths and punctuations that ran up and down Jun’s back.

On the bed that could be in the bedroom in Omotesando, though Jun didn’t know if Sho had kept the place, they would be lying together, hands frantic, saying nonsensical things as if there were no other days for them. Jun would have Sho’s scent on him, as the sheets did, as the pillows did, as the deepest flesh of his heart did. And Sho would ask if Jun would move in with him for senior year, and Jun would say no because he loved living with Meisa, but he totally would if Sho could wait a year. And he’d say please, Sho, don’t forget to ask again.

Jun exhaled, stomach twisting, lost in all the paths they couldn’t take. When he heard the footsteps echoing down the aisle, it was too late. He squirmed, the weight of the bound spine sinking deeper into his lap, taking the place of his cheating palm there.

“The Keio collection of smut and incendiary literature, how I’ve missed you.” Sho said, sighing happily at the shelves all around them.

“How… How did you get in?” Jun stammered. He needed to shut the magazine, move it somewhere. Turn the pages to another issue, at least. But he couldn’t move.

Sho smiled. “My library card turned out to still be good.” Jun knew Sho was lying. A library card couldn’t get anyone into the restricted section.

“Did Meisa—“

“She told me I could find you here.” Sho sat down next to him, knee hitting the edge of the hardcover so the bound volume bounced in Jun’s lap. “And I’m very glad she did. I needed her to, Jun.”

Jun tried to take in the implications of that. “Sho, I’m—“

Sho looked at the magazine over Jun’s shoulder. “It’s disgusting how skinny I was.”

“—sorry.” Jun said, feeling himself blush furiously.

“That might’ve been the year I went on that no-carb diet. Hell, those were shitty days. Say no to diets Jun.”

Jun couldn’t process his own train of thought, let alone Sho’s. “Sho, I can explain. It was—God. It doesn’t look good, does it?” he said, voice strained. “I am such an asshole.”

“Only when you don’t share.” Sho said, smirking. “So, Jun, am I included or are you just into this?” he asked, eyes on the bound issue of Men in his lap.

Jun couldn’t believe how calm Sho was being. “What do you mean?”

“Sex with me.” Sho said, gesturing at himself. “And sex with me, or a combination thereof,” he pointed to the magazine, “are all different things Jun.”

Jun couldn’t meet Sho’s eyes. “I want… I want something.”

“That’s a good place to start.” Sho said as if they were talking about a tricky problem set.

“If I told you it helped me think, would you believe me?” Jun asked, and he passed the bound volumes to Sho because he didn’t feel like holding onto them anymore, because maybe they were due for return a hell of a long time ago. “It’s not just that, alright? It’s you. It’s us. Like, I thought we were friends. Just friends. But I don’t know if I read that right.” His voice was shaking and he had to exhale, take deep, deep breaths. Sho’s silence was so kind and Jun was so, so thankful for it.

He put his palm on the concrete floor, the coolness soaking through like it could set him back down to neutral.

“Sho, you gave me a fireworks display on my birthday when I barely knew you.”

“It was affordable and I needed new friends.”

Jun glanced at Sho. “You gave me tickets to the movies so I could go on a date with Mao because I really liked her and you wanted me to have a chance with her.”

“I’m very good to my friends.” Sho was turning the pages of the magazine, looking at the pictures of himself, running his hand down his body on the printed paper.

“Whatever it was, you were there.” He shifted and their knees bumped together. “You’ve always been there, Sho.” He swallowed. “Did you want me? Did you ever?”

Sho put the bound volumes down and leaned in, his shoulder edging Jun open. His lips rested on Jun’s neck and Jun thought all the happy things in life had to stand aside and make a place for this now.

Kisses came slowly up to the underside of his jaw, Sho’s hands pressing against his back, and Jun clutched at Sho’s suit jacket, turning his head so their lips met, warm battling cool for the small drags of skin that told him Sho had been slipping in and out of waiting and not waiting because hope had its hurts too.

Sho fell into him, taking them down, grazing the spines of books and periodicals and all those now silent things as they came to rest on the floor, Sho’s body over his.

When he laid his head down, Sho obscuring his view of much of the aisle, a thought that Julie Kitagawa or the higher higher-ups could find them there passed through his mind, but it disappeared, following Sho’s hand down between the folds of Sho’s clothes and his. Between his knees, Sho shifted and Jun’s breath hitched. They moved together now, and all his wondering felt like it was coming to an end. He was being put back together again in the slide of their bodies, the weight of Sho in his lap, the tangle of Sho’s leg with his as Sho leaned over to one side and pressed harder, his hand over Jun’s pants, unbuttoning, unzipping, grasping.

Tasting Sho’s mouth with his tongue, he ran one hand down Sho’s back and let the other drop back, where Sho captured it on the floor in his, bringing Jun to thoughts of the new and the good, the honest and breathless ways of saving a life. Sho’s fingers smoothed his and Jun took hold, said he wouldn’t let go, he wouldn’t ever let go. A sound escaped from Sho’s mouth, his eyes telling Jun all the things they might have danced around, might have wanted, might have thought improbable.

When Jun came, it was with a desperate clutch at Sho’s fingers, and a press of his body up against Sho’s, so hard that they turned over together, shoulders on the floor and arms crossed tight, his quickened breath in the spaces in between.

Sho was still hard against him, but when Jun moved closer, there was a small shake of the head that Jun took to be a promise of later and again, and again.

Jun looked up to the sweet slack of their hands on top of each other on the floor and smiled, feeling Sho’s eyes on him, covering all the patches of the past. He couldn’t get enough and pressed closer anyway, breathing the moment in.

It felt less good a lot later when he scrambled up and saw the state of his clothes.

“I think I’m going to lose my job.”

“Jun,” Sho was leaning against the shelves, head tilted as if to get a better look at him, as if it really mattered that he did. “They’re not going to fire you.”

“They will when they see this huge jizz stain on my shirt!”

Sho glanced over his shoulder. “And if they don’t see it, they’ll have heard about it anyway.” He began to chew on his lip and decisively stopped. “Come on.” He said, taking hold of Jun’s arm.

Jun stepped back, batting Sho off. “Can’t. My shirt.”

Sho drew a breath. “All right,” He said. “Wait here.”

Interminable minutes later, Sho came back with a Keio T-shirt from the store on the ground floor. Jun wanted to kiss him, and ask how the hell he was getting through the secured door. “Thanks, Sho.” he said, undressing, voice muffled by the fabric rubbing against his face. A moist patch hit his skin and he shivered at the memory of being under Sho’s hand.

He picked up the bound volumes from the floor and shared a glance with Sho of the spread in the magazine. Sho gave him a small kiss and he closed the book, leaning down to put it back in between AP 24 .S16 v.2 2002 and AP 24 .S16 v.4 2002.

When he was done, Sho pulled him by the shoulder into a hug, kissed him, and tugged him into step out of the restricted section. At the elevator, they were side-by-side, bodies touching, and Jun didn’t want the car to come dinging down; he was okay with being there for hours and hours more.

The levels of stress and self-belief that had been overloading the library over the past few weeks had come down, but the grad students were still around, shushing and studying. Jun didn’t envy the re-shelving crew for the work they had ahead of them. Even the usually impeccable first floor, where the desk librarians sat in the middle of the action, needed some righting.

Jun and Sho exited the library from the front entrance, hands brushing at the doors. The warm air outside was bringing a flush to Sho’s cheeks. Jun kept Sho in his line of sight down the meandering path dappled with light coming through the trees, letting others weave around them. They were walking toward where Sho was parked. It would be nice to sit down somewhere first, Jun thought, but he knew Sho didn’t do lawns.

On the bright sidewalk, he scratched at the clothes tag rubbing against the nape of his neck. “Shoot. Wait,” he said, a little tremor running up and down his legs. “I left my shirt in the stacks.”

Sho deactivated the car alarm and crossed Jun’s path to get to the driver’s side. “Don’t worry, Jun. I threw it in the trash on the way up.”

“What? I like that shirt!” Jun stopped, twisting around to look back at the library. “And that shirt has—I was wearing it when...” He blushed. “I like that shirt.”

“You’ve got five minutes,” Sho said with a sigh, although Jun could tell he was grinning. “I’ll pull up out front.”

Jun started back towards the library, but a strange feeling took his breath, drove a thrum down his spine, and he had to turn around, not-so-successfully wading through lunchtime foot traffic in his haste. He grabbed hold of Sho’s shoulders, pulled him close, and kissed him slowly.

“I—This is good,” he said in a whisper. He smiled when Sho did and rested his forehead against Sho’s. “I want this.”

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