It started easy enough.
“Chinsuko”, Reki corrected, gently, swallowing down the last bit. “It’s a very typical snack here, dude. You must have eaten it already, don’t pull my leg.”
If anything, Langa looked even more curious.
“No, I’ve… never tried it before. Looked tasty, though”, and with that, he turned back to his sandwich, effectively ending the topic. The bell rang, they went back to their classes- to ignore their teacher as they sent each other memes and skating videos.
But. It stayed on Reki’s mind all through the day. Langa’s sparkly eyes as he watched Reki eating his bento, the yearning so palpable there. Did he want to try some so badly? If so, why didn’t he ask before Reki finished?
Guilt started eating at his gut. Langa wasn’t the type to go out of his way to buy something on a whim, overly conscious of his mother’s effort to keep them economically stable, and his cooking abilities stretched juuuust as far as making omelettes. God, why didn’t he think about that before? Langa’s eyes were so bright, there in their special lunch spot on the school’s rooftop. He had seemed overly entranced by Reki’s mouth as he chewed on the last of his snack, but the idea of sharing hadn’t even occurred to him until after it was all reduced to crumbs. He was such a shitty friend.
The thought didn’t leave his mind, intrusive and annoying, accompanying him as he and Langa went to the skate park, and then work, and then S. When it kept harassing him the following morning, he caved- crumbling like a house of cards left in front of an industrial fan.
“Mom?” he called, tentatively, from the doorframe.
His mother startled badly, almost burning herself on the oven, and turned surprised eyes on him.
“Reki! You’re up very, very early!”
He breathed in, and rubbed the back of his neck in a sudden burst of shyness.
“Can you… teach me how to make Chinsuko?”
It was worth his mother’s confused eyes, his burned fingers and his classmates’ snickers when they caught him almost throwing the bag with cookies to a surprised Langa- it was all worth it, for the delighted look that seemed to light up his friend’s face like a fucking christmas tree.
Reki was self aware enough to know it, then- this was going to become a pattern.
This- it was ridiculous. He knew it, okay?
Reki was Okinawa born and raised. Langa came from literal snow and ice. And yet-
“-it just looks very comfortable, that's all. I’ve never worn cashmere, didn’t know they made hoodies out of it. I…”
Reki could feel their friends’ eyes on them, but. Langa was looking down at Reki’s chest, at the thin cashmere hoodie stretched across his shoulders, just a little tighter at the waist. It was a gift from his aunt, and he tried to avoid wearing it- the fabric far too delicate, soft, totally not made for illegal, extreme skating. But with most of his clothes too dirty for acceptable use (he’d never forget to do laundry, he swears-), it was that or faring the surprisingly cold night with just a T-shirt.
Which was gonna be the case either way, because Langa had been looking at his chest ever since they met up, and when confronted about it by Miya, claimed to be cold.
Which is what Reki finds so ridiculous, considering their respective hometowns, but… Langa was paying close attention to Reki’s hoodie. And there it was, that yearning face again. He couldn’t stand it.
So he took the damn thing off. Because of course he did.
“Here, take it. I was starting to feel a little too hot after my beef with Shadow, you’ll do me a favor if you take it off my hands.”
Langa blinked, surprised. His gorgeous blue eyes opened wide as he took Reki in- his thin, stretched T-shirt (it was falling off one shoulder, that was just how old and worn the thing was), goosebumps jumping at the skin of his arms, hands fidgeting.
“Just take it, dude. I told you, I’m warm enough.”
Well, his face was, at least.
Langa’s fingers twitched once, twice. Then they were hovering over Reki’s hand, carefully touching the soft fabric, reverent. When he took it, he even hugged it to his chest, face burying in it’s folds before actually putting it on.
His eyes had that light again, and Reki had to look away to avoid being blinded. His mother had warned him about looking at the sun directly, but she’d never mentioned the danger of pretty boys smiling, and he felt cheated, deprived of that vital information.
Fucking hell, he was tired . They had exams that week, and S had hosted a friendly tournament, and the twins had been sick so his help was needed around the house more than ever… and he was so fucking tired.
Thank god it was Friday, because Reki was just ready to pass out any second now. He had awful sleeping habits, it was a known fact, but even he couldn't survive with just two hours per night for an entire week. Tonight- tonight he was gonna catch up on all that sleep debt, before Hypnos himself came knocking on his door asking for explanations.
As school let out, he repressed a yawn and turned to look at Langa, skating by his side. Opening his mouth, he was ready to say goodbye for the day, and-
“Do you want to have a sleepover? I’ve never actually invited friends over to my house before, it’d be… nice.”
There was a rock on his path. That’s why he bailed- not because Langa startled him.
“Reki! Are you okay?”
Groaning, he sat back in a crouch, calves taking the brunt of his weight as he examined his scratched palms.
“Yeah, all good. Sorry, I never saw that damned rock.”
Langa didn’t look convinced, but he offered a hand up. And- Reki was tired, okay? He could barely resist the impulse to wax poetry about Langa’s hair on a daily basis, to reject his touch while sleep deprived was well beyond him.
Once he was back on his board, Langa skating just a tad closer (as if worried he may bail again), his mind went back to Langa’s words.
“You want me to stay over? Dude, aren’t you tired of me by now? I barely leave you alone.”
The idea still baffled him. He knew, after spending far too many hours revising the subject with a determined Langa, that his friend loved his company as much as he enjoyed Langa’s. But self doubt was a demon that had lived on his head for far too long, to be evicted just like that, so it still warmed something in his chest whenever his friends (those amazing skaters, prodigies and geniuses and too cool for school ) would cuff him on the back of the head and tell him off for ‘being an idiot, of course we like spending time with you’.
And even so- he still found himself hesitating before accepting an invitation, doubtful if his presence was actually wanted. If it was out of politeness that he was invited, if he could really go and act like he belonged.
Langa seemed to have made his life mission to catch those moments, sniffing Reki’s insecurities out like they were drugs and he was a police hound, and going for their neck, murdering them without mercy.
...he was really tired, huh?
“Reki!” aaaand there it was, Langa’s Don’t Talk Like That About Yourself face. “Of course I love spending time with you.”
“Yes, yes, I’m sorry. Just a little tired, ‘s all.”
Langa’s face twisted into a worried frown then.
“Oh… are you okay?”
Reki waved a hand, smile upped a notch.
“Yeah dude, don’t sweat it. You were talking about a sleepover? We could watch movies and stuff! I should pick up some stuff from home first, but then I’m good to go.”
“But… you just said you were tired… We could do it some other day, so you can rest…”
If Reki was weak to Langa’s smile, he was absolutely defenseless against his Sad, Disappointed eyes. Truly, a weapon of mass destruction.
“Nah, I love movie nights! As long as you don’t try to sneak any scary one in there, I’m game!”
He could feel his body protesting, the idea of staying up all night sounding like torture to his sleep deprived mind. But the soft smile, the look of yearning at the prospect of experimenting a new social situation that crossed his friends face made the decision for him. Sleepovers weren’t that big of a deal for Reki, but if it made Langa this happy, who was he to say no?
There were some things, Reki learned, that could cut deeper than a knife. Words. Grief.
Miya’s judgemental eyes.
“Stop looking at me like that.”
Reki pushes him. He aims for him to fall on a little sand dune, so he doesn’t feel terribly bad for punting a kid, but when Cherry raises his eyes over the book he’s reading to squint at him, he swears and bends down to help Miya up again.
“Like I said, pathetic.”
Reki just sighs, sits down under the umbrella. Doesn’t even bother to move when the brat copies him, using his arm like a backrest as he whips out his cellphone.
“Why are you whispering though?”
Miya shrugs a bit. Reki’s looking at the rest of their friends, hunched together as they work near the water, but can feel the movement.
“I don’t want your boyfriend hearing me. He’s fought people over less, I don’t need him coming for my head if he thinks I made you sad.”
He actually turns to look down at the kid. “I don’t have a boyfriend though?”
Miya snorts. Shuts up when Reki doesn’t join him. Then looks up at him, half wonder half exasperation in his eyes.
“Damn, you’re dumber than I thought. Truly a match made in heaven.”
“I’ll push you again, brat, don’t think I won’t.”
The younger teen ignores that. Reki knows he’s getting serious when he puts down the phone, careful to place it in the middle of the towel, weary of sand getting on it.
“Answer me this, then. Why are we here?”
Reki sees his point, he does. But, one, he’s deep in denial, and two, he’s also way too stubborn to lay back.
“I thought it’d be nice, to go on a trip all together again.”
“Don’t lie to me to my face, stupid slime. I was there when Langa said he didn’t get the chance to build a sandcastle the last time we came here, and I saw you caving in to the urge of giving him everything he wants.”
“It was Langa who won the beef with Cherry that got him to pay for this, though!”
“Because you told him to. And then you conned Shadow into planning everything for us, and convinced my parents, and asked Joe to close his restaurant for a few days. That was all you. Because Langa blinked at you twice and you crumbled like wet paper. You’re weak, man.”
And... Yeah. There was no denying it.
“I just can’t, okay? He looks at me with those sparkly eyes, and there’s this look of want on his face, and I… I can’t help it.”
Miya looks at him in silence for a few seconds.
“You… you do know that he didn’t look like that because he wanted to build sandcastles, right?”
Reki tilted his head.
“Yeah he did? Why else would he want to come back here with me?”
As if offering proof, he points towards the rest of their group. Except, Langa isn’t focusing on the ever growing sand structure any more- he’s looking back at them, at Reki. His eyes lost somewhere on the plains of Reki’s bare chest.
Reki looks down at himself. Did he get a sunburn? Why was Langa…?
Miya snorts again.
“Yeah. That’s totally why. No second intentions, that one. Pure of heart, dumb of ass.”
Why did it feel like Miya wasn’t talking about Langa in that last sentence?
Reki was going insane. Langa was gonna make him go off the rails, and he’d get away with it too. Because on one hand, his mom wouldn’t care if Langa put her son in a mental hospital, she’d just pat him on the head and offer him Reki’s room. The woman was almost rabid in her desire to adopt his friend, it wasn’t even funny anymore.
On the other hand, it wasn’t like Langa was actually trying to mess with Reki’s head. It just… They were just hanging out at their skate park, okay? Like always. Nothing new there. Just the two of them, the sunset and some ollies. They weren’t even speaking, merely enjoying each other’s companies.
So why did Langa look like that? The want, the yearning in his eyes was absolutely out of place, and the uncontrollable impulse of satisfying Langa’s unspoken desire was making Reki lose his mind.
He tried everything. Offered water, when Langa’s eyes shone with thirst. Suggested they went looking for dinner when, after accidentally dumping his entire bottle on himself and drenching the front of his shirt, he caught Langa looking absolutely ravenous. Mentioned S, just in case the spark swimming in those deep blue pools was because of his constant need of adrenaline.
Nothing. No to everything Reki offered him. It was as if staying there skating together was all Langa wanted in life; and yet, his eyes kept asking for more .
But more of what ?
‘Speak up, apparition! What do you want ?’, Reki didn’t ask. But he was running out of ideas, and he had already conditioned himself too bad; when Langa looked like that, Reki had to put him at ease one way or another, and then he’d get to see his smile as a prize. He felt like one of Pavlov’s dogs, but he’d made his peace with the idea of being a slave to Langa’s desires long ago. He just wanted to satisfy this impulse and go back to his life.
If only the pretty fucker would just tell Reki what he wished for.
When he caught Langa’s near silent sigh, he snapped.
“Do you want something, dude?”
Startled, Langa almost bailed. Which was absolute bullshit, because this was the dude who defeated Shadow in his first beef without more than basic skateboarding knowledge, with his feet duct taped to a board and with fireworks around him as distraction. To stumble like that because of Reki’s voice- something was up.
“Uh? No, I’m fine.”
“You were thinking about something”, he pushed as gently as he could, skating to a stop right in front of Langa. The setting sun was behind Langa’s face, giving him an almost angelic halo, which was painful to look at. Reki’s face felt warm, and he hoped Langa attributed it to the last rays of sunlight hitting him head on.
His friend seemed lost in a daze again, so Reki reached for his hand, shaking it a bit. Langa blinked back into reality, and he- he looked almost embarrassed.
“I don’t mind when you doze off like that, you know. It's just- it looked like you wanted something?”
Langa looked down at their joined hands, then back up at Reki, eyes wide, almost like he was scared. He made no move to dislodge him, though.
“Whatever you want, dude”, he insisted, feeling almost desperate. “Is there a new sweet, a movie, a place? Something you haven’t eaten, or seen, or done before, that you want to try? You know I’m down for whatever, if it makes you happy.”
That last bit was a little too close to home for comfort, but Reki was grasping at straws right now. He just needed a clue, a hint, of whatever Langa wanted. Then he could give it to him, and they’d both be happy.
Langa’s kinda confused, kinda scared eyes shifted, just a bit, and suddenly he was looking at Reki with that yearning face again. Hesitant, but so full of desire . Reki was going to fucking scream.
“What do you want, Langa? Just fucking take it, dude!” he almost yelled, shaking his arm for emphasis. If he wasn’t going to ask Reki for it, could he at least do something himself? Whatever that would stop that face he was making? “Stop doubting yourself like this!”
Something hardened in Langa’s eyes, all determination and strength, and Reki, who had never left Okinawa before, could suddenly imagine what it was like to slam head first against a snow wall.
Then Langa used their joined hands to tugg him closer, and any thoughts of ice and coldness left Reki’s mind forever. Because Langa’s lips on his were nothing if not warm.
Reki was a weak, weak man, but he thought only on the inside. Apparently, his body wasn’t all that better, because the second he felt Langa’s soft, warm tongue tracing the curve of his bottom lip, his knees buckled .
But Langa, determined, athletic, strong boy that he was, wasn't even deterred. His other arm had made its way around Reki’s waist somewhere along the line, and it kept him pressed flush against the taller boy, safe from the ground.
Reki wouldn’t be able to say, under pain of torture, how long did they kiss. By the time they parted for more than a few desperate gulps of air, the sun had long disappeared. Only crickets and their ragged breaths breaking the charming quiet of nightfall.
They were still standing, Reki noticed (although, that was too generous of a word for him, considering Langa was still handling most of his weight; his knees apparently done for the night), pressed close together. Their skateboards to the side, forgotten like they hadn’t been in a long time. Reki didn’t remember stepping down from his. He couldn’t remember much of anything, to be honest. Other than Langa’s lips. And-
There. That look- that was the one Reki had been waiting for. Bright, satisfied, happy eyes. The ones that made him cave to Langa’s wishes again and again, if only to bring that face forth.
Reki blinked, brain doing a valiant effort at rebooting.
“You don’t sound sorry at all”, he pointed out. Dumbly, because obviously; Langa’s smile was many things, but ashamed wasn’t one of them.
The other boy laughed. It was unfair; Reki had just gotten his words back, and now there they went, lost, escaping him at the beautiful sight.
“You spoil me too much, it’s hard to feel repentant”, Langa admitted, the hand not around his waist softly cupping his cheek.
Reki’s heartbeat, already racing like a mad horse, speeds up even more at that. He had his arms around Langa’s neck, he realized belatedly. And… well, his hair was right there, it probably was okay to touch. So he did, running his fingers between soft, silken strands. In absolute awe at the fact that he could .
“I don’t… I don’t spoil you.”
His brave effort was compensated with an indulgent, soft smile.
“You do. It took me a while to notice, though, but you do. I was… a little unsure of just how selfish I was allowed to be. To find out what the limit was.”
Reki’s face is warm, even though the sun is long gone. It must be because of Langa’s bright eyes, shining stronger than anything else in the sky.
Words were hard right now, but Reki’s brain would rot away and die before it stopped waxing poetry about this boy.
“There’s no limit. To what I would do for you, I mean…” Reki’s lips feel dry, so his tongue darts out to wet them a bit. Langa’s eyes follow the movement, entranced, and he remembers that time with the Chinsuko and… huh. Langa hadn’t been hungry then, had he? He was thirsty . “You can be as selfish as you want.”
Langa’s eyes switch from his lips to his eyes, and to his lips again.
“And what if I want it all?”
Reki swallowed, hard.
“It 's yours. Everything.”
He was a weak man, after all. But as long as he was only weak for Langa, then it was okay.
And judging for that sly little smile in his newly minted boyfriend’s lips, he didn’t mind at all.