I can't help glancing at the time over and over again. It's well past the time Kaneda usually comes home, but there's been no sign of him. I've grown so used to anticipating the sound of the door opening and shutting, and then having to spend the next hour or so readying myself to face that hateful look he wears, that the lack of sound is disturbing me. I murmur something, tapping the book we're looking at, and glance once more at the clock. Now I'm looking every five minutes or so, and I've still got a half-hour before I leave. At this rate, the time will drag interminably.
"...you listening?" I drag myself back to the present and realize that Sakae's asked a question. He's watching me expectantly, his cheek nestled on one hand and his eyes thoughtful as he watches me. It's enough to make me blush faintly, and I pray he doesn't notice the extra heat in my cheeks.
"I'm sorry. It's just... shouldn't your brother have already gotten home by now?" I ask, trying to sound casual about the question. I just need to relax. It shouldn't take much for me to ready myself to face him. It's just that those eyes of his can be scary when he focuses such a glare. It takes me a moment to realize that Sakae's answering again, his own eyes downcast now.
"He's on a business overnight." Sakae doesn't sound precisely upset by this. If anything, he sounds pensive, as though he were trying to decide something. "There was a note when I woke this morning."
"It bothers you." Not an unreasonable suspicion. Sakae's eyes have looked a bit more sunken of late, the shadows beneath them darker than normal. "Are you afraid something might happen while he's gone?"
"It's stupid." False bravado from him, and he squares his shoulders, closing the books. We still have half an hour before my job is officially over, but I make no move to protest. Really, I don't think I'll be up to covering the last little bit today anyway. "You'll laugh."
"I won't," I frown, closing my books as well, and starting to put them away. "You should know me better than that, Sakae." The suggestion hurts, honestly. I may laugh with him, but I never laugh at him. I watch his long-fingered hands toy with the corner of one paper, and add softly, "Do you want to talk about it?"
"It's... the nightmare." There's a pregnant pause as he waits for me to remember, but it isn't difficult. It's the only dream he's ever told me about, and even if it weren't, somehow the thought of it lingers in my head, making me shiver. "It's come a lot recently. And... it's changing." That catches my attention, and I look up at him curiously. But before I can ask, he's rising to pad to the window, still talking. "I can't smell my mother's perfume anymore. It's beginning to feel like she just doesn't exist... like she never has. And...," he adds, then hesitates, one hand gripping the windowsill as he looks out on the city below. I'm so caught up in watching his face in the windowpane that it takes me a moment to realize his knuckles are white.
"...And?" I prompt softly.
"And... I'm afraid that if she fades like that... that my father will fade, too. And maybe I'll stop waking up eventually, and be stuck there forever." A shudder through those delicate shoulders, and I push myself up, unable to stop from going to him. My hand on his shoulder looks shockingly large, and I'm careful not to really squeeze. Maybe he's not as delicate as he seems, but I don't want to take the risk. He sighs, head falling forward until his forehead is resting against the window, and he's staring blankly at the glass instead of the scene beyond. "Will you stay tonight?"
I'm so caught up in the play of emotions over his face that it takes me a moment to make sense of the question. And when I finally do, I'm left blinking, like a cat that the canary has surprised. "Wh-what?"
"Stay overnight. Can you?" He's careful to keep his voice soft, but I can still hear the plea within the words. "You told me you live alone, so I thought... but maybe you have plans...?" Such hesitance on his part.
I swallow, reaching up to stroke my hand over the fine hair once before I agree, my voice as soft as his. "I'll stay. I... won't let you stay in that dream."
Immediately, Sakae's whole face brightens, and he straightens, turning to smile at me. I'm lost now. Even if I wanted to find a way to get out of this promise, I couldn't. He's too happy. "Great! I'll order out for food, and we have some movies we can watch." He slips past me, his shoulder brushing mine as he heads to start making things ready, and I blink, turning to watch him go. I've never much bothered with dating, or sex. So why did I have the sudden urge to lean over and kiss him?
I mull on that as I go to pick up our books and papers. The thought of kissing another boy doesn't fill me with shock or horror. I always faintly suspected that I might have some leanings in that direction, really, because I've certainly never wanted to suddenly kiss a girl. And even though Sakae's delicate, and if he worked at it, he could probably pass for a girl, I don't think the thought of kissing him had anything to do with that. It felt more like... I wanted to somehow taste that smile.
I'm still thinking when we eat a couple hours later, though I'm able to pay close enough attention to the conversation to answer Sakae properly. And I'm no longer thinking of leaning over and just kissing him. But even though the urge has faded, the memory of it hasn't, and I'm noticing little things now, like how his fingers look as he readies the video we're to watch, or the way his slender body folds into the couch, nestling into one corner. He doesn't protest when I choose the opposite corner, and I can only think that I've somehow managed to keep him from noticing my preoccupation. I almost miss his assurance that this movie we're watching is a good one, but it wouldn't have mattered anyway, because I'm not seeing it. I may be staring at the screen, but I'm far more aware of the way the cushions move when he shifts to a comfortable position. Is it desire doing this to me? Is it just years of pent-up need finally wanting a way to escape? But... it doesn't feel like that, exactly. Instead, it feels more like I'm finally really noticing him.
When the movies are done, we head to his room, getting ready for bed. I would've liked to have stayed up longer, but school comes early enough the next day that I need sleep. And so he sets his alarm clock, and we arrange a pallet on the floor between his bed and the floor-to-ceiling windows. I can lay in bed and watch the city as I drift to sleep, and the thought sounds very good.
It's as we're brushing our teeth that the next awkward moment comes. Sakae's clothing is too small, and I don't dare ask for a pair of Kaneda's pajamas. "Sakae...?" He looks up, those blue eyes bright and smiling. "I... don't have anything to wear to bed." And now that I've spoken, we're both blushing, our eyes skirting away from each other.
"That's okay," he whispers, hesitating a moment before rinsing his brush and mouth. "I... don't like the feel of things on me when I sleep. Wearing anything... always makes the nightmare come." I swallow at that, and then choke, the minty toothpaste disgusting. It takes me a moment to get it out of my mouth, and to rinse my own brush, and during that time, I've summoned my own bravado. If that's the way it is... then we'll just make do.
"Ah... okay..." I know my words are stammered, but I can't help that. Still, when he looks hesitantly at me, I offer a bright smile back. No need for him to know my consternation. "Then it's not a concern. Besides... it's not like we're even going to be in the same bed."
"Right. Right," he agrees, visibly relaxing. A moment later, he adds, "We can get undressed with the lights off."
I nod. That sounds like the best I'll get, after all. We head back to the bedroom, and the lights go off, leaving the room bathed in moonlight and the faint glow from the city lights below us. It's enough light for me to see, if I'm looking, so I don't. Instead, I focus on shedding all clothing but my briefs, knowing that they just might preserve my sanity in this. Once that's done, and the clothes are folded beside my pallet so that they'll be suitable for tomorrow's classes, I slip under the sheets, turning to look at the window. The view really is breathtaking. We say our goodnights, and I listen to his breathing change slowly from waking to sleeping, my eyes drifting closed as I watch the beauty outside the window.
I'm jerked out of sleep later, still in the middle of the night, by the sound of harsher breathing. For a moment, I lay in that pallet, staring up at the ceiling and swallowing as the evening's memories come to me. Sakae... is that Sakae's nightmare that I'm hearing? Those faint, mostly-stifled grunts and the too-loud breaths seem odd in the silence, and I take a moment to glance at the window.
My eyes widen then. The light from the hallway is on, and Sakae's door is partially open, making the windows into a mirror instead. And although I'm able to see Sakae in the glass, my eyes are caught and held by the taller man near the door, his head thrown back as he rubs himself. Kaneda is home? Kaneda is... stroking off in Sakae's room? I wet dry lips, but I can't find a way to announce myself. I can only think that he hasn't seen me. My pallet must be hidden by the bed Sakae's sleeping in, because why on earth would Kaneda do this if I was here. Which leaves me thinking that he does this every other night, and I reel, staring at the lean body. One hand slips down without my realizing it, sliding into the briefs that have somehow become confining and I tug myself free, starting to stroke myself.
And then a soft sigh is heard in the room, and Sakae shifts until he's facing the window, and now I understand why Kaneda would dare to leave the door open. The sheet has dropped low on his body, and he's displayed in the window, like some painter's erotic arrangement. In sleep, he looks so much younger and softer, begging to be touched, and now I have both of them to look at and I can't help it. In one of my fleeting moments of coherence, I stuff the corner of the pillow into my mouth and fight to control my breathing, but I'm watching them both and stroking hard and fast now, nearly able to keep time with Kaneda as he fucks one hand, the other lifting to toy with his nipple. And I'm recalling the intensity of the way he watches me around Sakae, and I realize that he must hate me for my close relationship with his younger 'brother', but it also makes me wonder... how delicious would it be to have such an intensity focused on me?
It's a miracle that I manage to come before he does, my climax white-hot and blinding me as I fall back to let myself go. I stop a mess by rubbing my head as I come, more out of instinct that intelligence, and from there, I just lay listening to his harsh grunts come faster and faster, until the breathing stops entirely for several seconds. It's a few minutes before the quiet sounds of cleanup come, and I lay there, listening and smiling faintly. Things are suddenly infinitely more complicated... but at the moment, I feel too good to care.