Taichi Dan’s most favorite senpai was Jin Akutsu. Dan had even followed Akutsu to the same high school just to remain friends with him. Akutsu had called Dan stupid, but he had still let Dan call him senpai and that was all that mattered. Dan shared everything with Akutsu and Akutsu’s opinion mattered to him. So when Dan got his very first girlfriend, he told Akutsu right away.
Akutsu grunted. “Whatever. You gonna eat that?”
Classroom 3-B had few people in it during lunch. Most of the third years lived in the dorms and went to the cafeteria. Dan and Akutsu were two of a handful of students who commuted.
Akutsu’s uniform blazer was draped on the back of his chair and he’d loosened his tie. Dan pushed his bento across the desk between them and told Akutsu all about Myia. “Myia-chan is great! She likes manga, and cats, and can speak English, and plays field hockey, and made me cookies during home economics. They were delicious, desu. I’m sorry I didn’t save you any, Akutsu-senpai.”
She broke up with him the next day.
“I met someone who needs me,” Myia told Dan by the shoe lockers as the school emptied out for the day. She had a home economics box under her arm. “But thank you for saying yes.”
Dan wasn’t too hurt – they’d only been going together for a day – and he thought maybe he’d gotten lucky, because she cried an awful lot two days later and it made him uncomfortable.
“Girls do that,” Akutsu said during lunch, taking a drink from Dan’s juice. A napkin sprinkled with cookie crumbs and stray chocolate chips was spread open on the desk. “It’s annoying.”
Dan’s second girlfriend asked him out after tennis practice. Ryou was a first year on the girls’ team who blushed and stammered when speaking with him. Dan agreed, because she seemed very nice.
Perched on Akutsu’s desk in classroom 3-B, Dan swung his feet back and forth until Akutsu threatened to chop off his legs. “Ryou-chan and I are going to play tennis together on Sunday, desu,” Dan told him.
But they didn’t get to play; she broke up with Dan on Saturday in a small, frightened voice and then ran away. He ended up playing tennis with Koujima-buchou from his high school team.
Dan’s third girlfriend was a lot like Akutsu. Haruhi spoke her mind and didn’t let anyone push her around. She practiced kendo and smoked under the bleachers at the running track. She laughed when Dan pressed her tentatively against a bleacher support pole and kissed her. “That’s not how you kiss someone,” she said, and switched their positions. “This is how you do it.”
Dan really, really liked Haruhi.
“She’s a bitch. You can do better.” Akutsu shoved back his desk chair and stood. “I’m going outside for a smoke.”
Three weeks later, Haruhi broke up with Dan in public – very loudly and with many curse words. “And next time you’re bragging to your asshole friends about the girl you bagged, make sure you tell them how she laughed at your tiny dick and that you had to pay her for a pity fuck!”
Dan was embarrassed for a long time, especially because some of his male classmates started calling him T.D. for “Tiny Dick.” It didn’t stop until the day Akutsu ate lunch in Dan’s classroom instead of his own.
“You shouldn’t hang people out the window, Akutsu-senpai,” Dan said in exasperation when he met Akutsu coming out of the Principal’s office.
“The fucker deserved it,” Akutsu said.
It would be wrong for Dan to agree – even though Ichimura hadn’t stopped repeating what Haruhi had yelled, no matter how many times Dan had said he hadn’t had sex with her, until Akutsu had appeared.
Dan’s fourth girlfriend approached him as he was picking up colorful leaves from the school grounds. He gave her four of them and agreed to meet her for lunch. She shared her bento with him under one of the trees.After school, she crumpled the leaves in front of him, declared them over with, and stormed off. Dan was very confused.
“I don’t understand girls,” Dan said while taping his racket grip. His green headband slipped down over one eye.Akutsu flicked his cigarette through the links in the fence onto the school’s tennis courts, where the team was practicing. “They’re not worth understanding. Stop fucking around and show me this stupid serve of yours so I can go home.”
Despite what Akutsu said, Dan tried his best to understand them. He failed. Girlfriends five, six, and seven dumped him within two, four, and five days respectively and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t figure out why.
“Maybe it’s me,” Dan said, watching Akutsu cut their apple into neat slices as the train rocked. Akutsu had taken the kitchen knife from Dan the second he’d removed it from his bag. “Maybe I’m a bad boyfriend.”
“No,” Akutsu said sharply. “It has nothing to do with you. You just haven’t found the one who’ll stay with you no matter what. That’s the one you deserve.”
Dan didn’t doubt Akutsu and remained cheerful even as girlfriends eight and nine dumped him. They weren’t the right ones. He had to be patient.
“Oi, Dan.” Nakamura stopped Dan before club one day. “My girlfriend’s sister, Megumi, is thinking about hooking up with you, but only if you tell that yakuza to piss off.”
“Who?” Dan asked, as other teammates filtered around them, heading towards the courts.
“You know, that third year you hang out with. He’s a real creep. Hana says he makes the girls break up with you and she doesn’t want Megumi to get hurt.”
Dan frowned. Why would Akutsu make Dan’s girlfriends break up with him? It didn’t make any sense. Unless Akutsu didn’t want Dan to have a girlfriend, at all; but again, why?
“I’m sorry. Tell Megumi-chan the answer is no,” Dan turned Nakamura down. Dan wouldn’t choose a girl he’d never met over Akutsu. Actually, Dan wouldn’t choose any girl over Akutsu.
Dan perked up. Maybe that was the answer! Maybe that’s why Akutsu made those girls break up with Dan. Maybe Akutsu wanted Dan to choose him. Maybe Akutsu wanted to be Dan’s girlfriend!
“What?!” Akutsu’s chair legs thumped on the floor and he sloshed juice over his hand.
“Will you be my girlfriend?” Dan repeated. He’d waited until they were the only ones in the classroom during lunch the next day before asking, knowing Akutsu didn’t like discussing private stuff around others.
“What the fuck are you talking about?” Akutsu scowled darkly and yanked at his uniform tie. Orange juice droplets splattered on his white shirt. “Did someone put you up to this?”
Dan shook his head. “I figured it out all by myself, desu!”
Akutsu stared at Dan.Dan stared hopefully back.
“Akutsu-senpai.” Dan braced his hands on the desk and leaned over it, closer to Akutsu. “I’d really like you to be my girlfriend.”
To prove it, Dan darted in and gave Akutsu a quick kiss on the lips.
Akutsu jerked back hard, tipped the chair over, and crashed to the floor. His head hit the desk behind him with a loud crack on the way down.
“Akutsu-senpai!” Dan rushed around the desk and dropped to his knees beside Akutsu. His hands flitted over Akutsu. “Are you all right, desu?”
Akutsu batted Dan’s hands away. “I’m fine.” He untangled himself from the chair and shoved it out of the way. Sitting cross-legged on the dusty floor between the desks, he gingerly touched his head and cursed.
“Do you need to go to the infirmary?” Dan asked, reaching out again.
“No.” Akutsu looked sharply at Dan, as Dan’s fingers touched the back of his head. “Will you quit it?”
“Sorry, desu.” Dan brushed his fingers downward and rested them on the warm skin of Akutsu’s neck. Akutsu’s face was pretty close, with the way Dan was leaning. Close enough to kiss.
Dan’s stomach felt all warm and gooey at the thought. But Akutsu pulled back when Dan went in for the kiss. “What the hell are you doing?” Akutsu said.
“I was going to kiss you.” Dan smiled with pride. “Haruhi said I’m really good at it.”
“Stop fucking around,” Akutsu growled, “or I’m going to knock your head off.”
“Are you going to be my girlfriend?”
A sharp pain stabbed Dan’s heart. Akutsu’s response hurt a lot, more than being dumped by any of those girls. Eyes stinging, he dropped his gaze and curled his hands into fists. “Why, desu?”
“For one thing, I’m not a girl!”
“That’s okay,” Dan said, and wiped his eyes quickly. He was sixteen and too old to cry. “I like you more than any girl.”
“No, you don’t.”
“I do, too!”
Akutsu scoffed. “You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”
“Yes, I do, desu.” Dan was determined to make Akutsu believe him. And the way to make someone believe you liked them was to kiss their socks off, according to Haruhi.
Dan didn’t hesitate in tackling Akutsu, sending Akutsu sprawling on his back beneath the desk. Chest to chest, bracing his hands on Akutsu’s shoulders, Dan cut off Akutsu’s complaint with a kiss.
Akutsu stilled suddenly when Dan took advantage of Akutsu’s mouth being open to slip his tongue inside. Dan kissed Akutsu exactly like Haruhi had taught him, the way that had left her breathless and blushing.Dan had really, really liked Haruhi.
But he liked Akutsu more.
Akutsu made a strangled noise and shoved Dan upwards. Dan looked down at Akutsu, lips and other places tingling. Akutsu’s cheeks were bright red and he was breathing raggedly. His eyes were wide as he stared up at Dan.
Laughter drifted into the classroom from the hallway and Akutsu reacted like he’d been struck. He shoved Dan off him, causing Dan to hit his arm painfully on the metal desk leg. Dan winced as Akutsu scrambled to his feet. “Akutsu-sen—”
Grabbing his jacket and satchel, Akutsu left the classroom swiftly, without a word.
Sitting on the floor rubbing his arm, Dan wondered if the kiss had worked.
Dan didn’t get to find out the answer, because Akutsu wasn’t at school the rest of the week. He became concerned that Akutsu was sick, and that wouldn’t do at all. On Sunday, Dan brought soup to Akutsu’s house, to help Akutsu get better.
“Hi, Yuuki-chan,” Dan greeted Akutsu’s mother as she let him inside.
“Taichi-kun, it’s good to see you again,” Yuuki said. She was putting on her coat as Dan took his shoes and slush-dampened socks off. “Jin’s been holed up in his room for days and won’t tell me what’s wrong. Maybe you can get him to come out. I need to get to work.”
“Have a good day, Yuuki-chan,” Dan said, and waved to her from the doorway as she left. After hanging his coat on the hook by the door, Dan took his thermos of soup and headed barefoot through the living room of the small apartment to the short hallway that led to the bedrooms. Akutsu’s door was shut, but not locked.
“Akutsu-senpai, I’m coming in!” Dan said as he slid open the door. Akutsu’s bedroom was smoky, messy, and dark. Dan could barely see. Pursing his lips, he stepped over the clothes, books, food plates, and video games on the floor as best he could and opened the window curtains. Sunlight brightened the room, beaming down on Akutsu, who was dressed in a t-shirt and track pants lying on his futon on the floor.
Akutsu grunted at the sudden light and threw an arm over his eyes. “Piss off,” he muttered around the cigarette in his mouth. An overflowing ashtray sat on the floor beside the futon.
“You haven’t been in school, Akutsu-senpai. Are you sick? I brought soup.” Dan put the thermos on the floor by the ashtray and moved a stack of magazines so he could kneel beside the futon.
Akutsu didn’t answer Dan. The tip of his cigarette turned red as he inhaled.
The green headband Dan wore drooped over his eyes as he leaned forward and put his hand on Akutsu’s forehead. Akutsu startled and knocked Dan’s arm away. “What the fuck are you doing? Get out,” Akutsu said with a glare.
“I’m not leaving, desu,” Dan stated, shoving the headband back into place. “A good boyfriend takes care of his girlfriend when he’s sick.”
“Stop calling me that!” Akutsu sat up and stabbed out his cigarette. “I’m not your damned girlfriend.”
“Oh.” Dan’s shoulders slumped. The kissing hadn’t worked. And Akutsu’s denial seemed to hurt more than last time. “I was really hoping that you would be.”
Akutsu was silent a moment, then he growled, “Fuck, fuck, fuck.” Without warning, he grasped the back of Dan’s head and yanked Dan into a kiss.Off balance, Dan braced his hands on Akutsu’s leg to keep from falling forward. Akutsu’s mouth was firm and warm, moving against Dan’s own. Dan’s eyelids fluttered shut, his breath hitched, and he parted his lips at Akutsu’s lick. He whimpered softly when Akutsu deepened the kiss. Akutsu kissed much better than Haruhi ever had. If Dan were wearing socks, they’d be knocked off for sure!
Akutsu broke the kiss and tumbled Dan onto the futon. “You get to be the girlfriend,” he said, breathing raggedly.Dan blinked up at Akutsu, who hovered over him with puffy red lips, pink cheeks, and a wary look in his eyes. Dan’s heart skipped a beat. He wrapped his arms around Akutsu’s neck and smiled widely. “Okay, desu!”
The tension Dan felt in Akutsu’s neck relaxed. A corner of Akutsu’s mouth lifted crookedly. “Crazy brat.”Dan tugged Akutsu downward and let his happiness show in another kiss. He should’ve asked Akutsu to be his girlfriend in the very beginning and avoided all those breakups. Oh well. Dan had Akutsu now, and even though Dan had to be the girlfriend, he had a feeling he’d found the one he deserved.