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"Send a heartbeat to the void that cries through you
Relive the pictures that have come to pass
For now we stand alone
The world is lost and blown
And we are flesh and blood disintigrate
With no more to hate...
Time has stopped before us
The sky cannot ignore us
No one can separate us
For we are all that is left
The echo bounces off me
The shadow lost beside me
There's no more need to pretend
Cause now I can begin again..."
-- Smashing Pumpkins

It was a beautiful afternoon, for a few reasons. The weather was cooperating for once; after the long, cold winter, any gasp of spring's breath was more than welcome, and this was far more than just a gasp. Ken stretched out on the flat roof of the building that housed the Koneko no Sumu Ie, sprawled casually on the low ledge that was supposed to keep careless planchment visitors from tumbling to their deaths three stories below; his head was propped up on his sweatshirt, against the bulk of the air-conditioning system, and one arm was thrown over his eyes to shield them from the sun.

He should be downstairs in the shop, he supposed. It wasn't precisely his scheduled shift, but Omi had been late coming home from school lately, and it was still early enough in the afternoon that nocturnal Youji wouldn't yet be fully awake. Aya always got surly when he was left to mind the store alone; surlier when it was just him and Youji. He should go downstairs and help his teammates, plaster the smile on his face and pretend to be normal for a little while. Just a little while.

He didn't move.

The breeze smelled like spring, like that mysterious few weeks when all the trees were blooming and the world was beginning to launch itself wholeheartedly into rebirth. He took a deep breath, letting it out slowly; he could practically taste the upcoming warmth that this freakish day promised as a tease.

Well, if he wasn't going to go downstairs and help in the shop, he should at least go and get some fresh air somewhere else; the park would be crowded, yes, but the path on which he usually ran was deserted enough, and it was unlikely he would find someone to interrupt him. He didn't feel like being around people, not at all, which was why he'd retreated to the roof originally; he knew that his teammates were aware of that particular retreat, yet they respected it. For the most part. When you lived in an apartment with that many different personalities, the concept of "personal space" grew far more important; it was a concept they all knew, and each one of them understood. For the most part.

So. Yes. The park, to jog, or to play frisbee with one of the kids, or just to sit under a budding tree and do situps for an hour or so.

He still didn't move.

"Ne, Ken-kun, are you just going to lie there all day? We've got practice in half an hour."

"You're going to kill me one of these days."

"Come on, the championship game is coming up in a few weeks. If we just lie around, we'll never be any good. Don't you want to play pro someday? I know I sure do."

"You don't think that was enough of a workout?"

"I don't mean like that..."

Ken ran a hand down his best friend's side, lightly tickling at the curve of his hip. "I still don't understand how you can do that and be ready to jump up and head to practice so quickly. Don't you need time to recover?"

"We're fifteen, Ken-kun. Walking hormones, remember? I don't understand how you can just lie around and smirk like that for so long, so we're even. We'd better take a shower, or everyone will figure out what we've been up to."

"Yeah, yeah. Everyone'll figure out what we're up to if you don't stop patting me on the ass in the locker room like that."

"Camaraderie of the locker room. It's perfectly allowed. Now, come on, and I'll make sure that when we get home, we'll have plenty of time to do whatever we want."

Maybe he should clean his room. It needed the cleaning; he hadn't bothered with even his usual half-assed sweep for dishes and laundry in the past few weeks. Omi had made some sort of casual comment about "Ken's cave" when he'd stopped to drop off this month's crop of shounen manga and pick up last month's. He'd laughed at the time, but it really was getting bad.

A pair of callused hands ran down the side of his chest, pausing and detouring to tug lightly at one nipple. Gentle lips skimmed over his throat, teeth nipping lightly at the hollow, and Ken let his head fall backwards for easier access; he could feel his body responding, could feel the blood beginning to stir. "God, yes--"

"Yes?" A teasing smile, even as one hand drifted lower to stroke his length, barest hint of fingertip skimming over the tip. "Yes what?"

"God, just fuck me already, you're driving me insane."

"Oh, is that the plan for this afternoon? I suppose I can handle it. I was just planning on a blowjob or two, but if you insist..."

He rolled over, pinning that firm and athletic body beneath him. "Or I could fuck you. You know. For the variety."

Hips strained beneath his, unfettered by such casualities as clothing. "But we did that last night."

"We did just about everything possible last night. I'm surprised that I didn't sleep through the meeting with Takefuji this morning."

"I wish you had; corporate sponsors are so fucking dull."

"They pay my salary, so it's a damn good thing I didn't." He dipped his head to nuzzle at his friend's collarbone, grinning at the gasp of surprise and pleasure this elicited. "Or rather, it's a good thing that I didn't. And you didn't seem to mind the way I woke you up on my way out."

"Thanks for -- waking me up." The sentence was half-whispered, a catch in the middle of it, as Ken lowered his head to catch a nipple between his teeth.

"Hey, what are best friends for?"

"I've been -- asking myself the same question -- God, will you just stop teasing me already?"

"I've been -- asking myself the same question --" Ken mimicked the tone perfectly, right down to the little gasp, and laughed at the growl this elicited, a laugh that turned into a gasp of his own as strong heels hooked around the back of his knees, pulling him close, pulling him inside...

Laundry. He should definitely do his laundry; one more pair of boxers, and then he'd be out. Maybe he could bribe Omi to do it for him. Laundry ranked right down there with root canal on his list of favorite things in the world.

He slipped one leg off the edge of the roof, letting it dangle in the slight breeze, and shifted a little to dislodge a pebble from underneath his left shoulder.

"Hey, Hidaka, a bunch of us are heading out for dinner and a movie, you wanna come with us?"

"Nah, that's okay; I'm gonna go hang out with my best friend. We've got plans. Thanks though."

"Heh, I just bet you have plans. Have fun, you two!"

"Go on, get. Let me have some peace."

"Peace. I bet. Is that what they're calling it these days? It's a wonder you have the time for anything else..."

It was a beautiful day, Ken mused, shading his eyes and staring up at the sky. The start of the season; the time of year he'd always loved. Crowds. Games. Practices. The obligatory public appearances, the thrill of opening day, the hopes that this year, this year, the team would make it to the championship, that he would make it to the Dream Match.

Warm skin against warm skin: the curve of hip, of leg. Firm chest beneath soft hair as a pillow, strong heartbeat beating soft cadence beneath his ear. Comfortable; always comfortable. He felt almost as if he could stay there forever, sometimes, with his friend's arms around him, holding him tightly. It was something more than sex, not quite love, not quite anything he'd ever experienced before. Just being there, leading their separate lives, but always together.

That was his old life, though. Sometimes, on days like this, he forgot.

oh god the heat the flame the pain the smell of gasoline the pain

It was a beautiful day.

"...This is hell."

Simply beautiful.

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