Are you busy on the fourteenth?
I know a few...
Sykkuno wasn't sure if Corpse thought that he didn't see it, didn't notice... or if the younger male was honestly just trying to drive him crazy with teasing. He'd talked himself into believing that it was memeing, to begin with. He honestly did believe that girls weren't into him; of course, the longer it went on, the more he shifted his speech patterns, because he was trying to convince himself that
Corpse people weren't into him.
Not just girls.
But the moments kept coming; they'd been easy to brush off at first, but the longer they happened, the more he reciprocated, the more Sykkuno was starting to feel things that he hadn't even known he could feel for another man. And the more that happened, the more he noticed how much Corpse almost seemed to be telling him something all of the time. Maybe he was memeing. Maybe he wasn't. Whatever the reason was, Sykkuno was starting to feel something deep in his chest; it burned, and it twisted, and he realized quite suddenly one day when Corpse was talking to him what it was.
"Let's vote for the person we think is cutest." Rae's voice was a quick tease, slurring slightly around the edges with Hard Apple Cider she'd been drinking for hours. There were four of them left alive: Toast, Rae, Corpse, and Sykkuno.
He instantly brought his mouse cursor to hover over the black crewmate character and turned his attention to his chat. "What do you guys think? I don't want Corpse to get voted off because we vote for him, but..?"
"I know who I'm going to vote for." Corpse's raspy voice was enough to make him startle slightly, because it was full of that heated enthusiasm that he had when he was having a particularly good day -- he'd been able to tell that he was in a good mood by a quick peek through his Twitter likes.
He didn't admit aloud or to anyone that he frequently checked on him that way, but he'd learned to read whether Corpse was having a good day or a bad day by how many Archillect posts were completely gloomy and how many seemed to mean something deeper.
Of course, any time he did that he also saw the dozens of beautiful female faces that were wearing cat ears and smiling just for him.
Sykkuno liked to pretend that it didn't bother him to see that.
"Let's go ahead and do it. I bet Toast and Rae aren't going to vote for him, right?"
The voting came in, and Sykkuno let out a startled gasp when his green face popped up beneath Corpse -- that wasn't the shock, though. Toast voting for himself wasn't a shock, either. Rae voting for him was sweet... and Corpse, who had been so confident in his voice, had also voted for him.
"I can't believe you guys actually did it!" His catchphrase came out a little strangled, and the sound of Corpse laughing tickled along his skin.
"It's your fault for being so fucking cute, Sykkuno."
"Do you think Sykkuno is that cute, Corpse?" Rae's voice rose up in a teasing drawl, and Sykkuno brought one hand to cover his mouth, to hide the flush that was crossing his visage from the twenety-thousand-plus people who were staring at his face.
"I mean, yeah. Of course, you know. I, uhm..."
Proximity chat kept Corpse from escaping her questioning after the round started again, and Sykkuno followed them silently as a ghost.
"Is he the cutest person you know, Corpse?" Rae's giggle was high -- they'd only been drinking for a few hours. But Sykkuno knew that she enjoyed herself more than she should have sometimes.
"I... uh, I mean. He's Sykkuno, you know? He--"
"But people aren't into him, right? Except you said you know someone who might be?" The heavy emphasis on the word people made Sykkuno's eyes widen. Had Rae picked up on him saying that lately?
"I mean, I might, I--"
"Corpse, do you--"
Corpse had killed Rae, and Sykkuno had a sinking suspicion that he'd done it specifically to stop her line of questioning. By the time they queued for the next lobby, there was shouting and congratulations from Jack and Ash, and then the conversation quickly took a turn away from what had nearly been discussed.
That twisting sensation in Sykkuno's chest grew tighter and that was when the epiphany hit -- he knew what the feeling was.
He was tired of half-confessions... and he realized that he'd finally gotten to the point that he wanted to do something about it.
He intentionally killed Corpse in front of Otto and played the innocent-but-obviously-I'm-not card when the body was reported. The small shocked burst of, "Sy--" was only a little satisfying.
"Going to take a quick bathroom break, guys. I'll be right back."
This time, Sykkuno double-checked that he muted his mic before he got up, patting his pocket to make sure that he had his phone on him while he ducked out of sight of the camera.
His fingers were quick when they pulled up his contacts -- Corpse was saved at the top of them. The text was a quick one, because he knew if he stayed off of camera for very long, his chat would notice and would start asking questions. That was the last thing that he wanted; the night was nearly over. They'd been streaming for four hours and Rae had a Valorant lobby at ten.
>What were you going to say to Rae, Corpse?
For a moment, he wasn't sure if Corpse was going to answer him. Then there were the three dots of typing on the screen... it stopped. Started again. Stopped... started again.
>Nothing. I... I can't believe you killed me like that.
Sykkuno frowned -- he was changing the subject. And usually, he would have let him get away with it. Usually.
But for some reason, he was feeling bold.
He put his phone down and went back to his computer, but the buzzing caught his attention. The message flashed on his screen when his eyes flickered down.
>I'm... what did you hear?
>I -- Sy?
>Sykkuno. I know you're seeing this.
>I can see you looking.
There was an odd satisfaction in leaving him on read, though it ran a little deeper with the knowledge that Corpse was obviously watching his stream to know that he was looking at his phone.
It was almost good to let him know that he was ignoring his phone.
And he was going to keep doing it, too, until the stream was over.
Hopefully, he wouldn't lose this newfound burst of courage by then, because Sykkuno was finally ready to actually get some answers about what was going on. He'd been confused for months.
He was done questioning. And pining. And wanting.
It was time to figure things out.