by Shinju Yuri (真珠百合)
The RA called Kaoru in Thursday afternoon. “Sakurai,” he said, “There’s a problem.”
“Yes?” said Kaoru, trying to remember if he’d been making out with anybody in a visible location. Not that he could think of, anyway.
“You know Momoyama?”
Kaoru nodded. Momoyama-sempai was in the year above him.
“His roommate sort of took a funny turn this week, did you hear about that?” The RA was just being tactful. Everybody had heard about Tanaka’s breakdown, which had involved, (in no particular order): overwork, stress, and an unrequited passion for Honda-sensei, the math teacher (who was happily married and had pictures of his smiling children all over his desk). It had ended up with Tanaka-senpai more or less running laps around the school with his underwear on his head, singing L’arc-en-Ciel songs.
“Yes, sir, I did,” said Kaoru, politely.
“Well, now he’s got to go away and recover,” said the RA. He cleared his throat. “Unfortunately, before we could, er, calm him down he, ah, caused a mess in their dorm room.”
He’d totally trashed it, if Kaoru had heard right. The maintenance guy had barely been stopped from committing ritual suicide at the sight of it.
“Yes, sir?” prodded Kaoru.
“And, er, you’re the only one who doesn’t have a roommate,” said the RA, apologetically. “It’ll only be for a few days.”
Momoyama-senpai was big and quiet, the sort of person that you never quite noticed until he left, because he was the one who made sure that there was enough chips and pop for everybody. Kaoru didn’t think it would be a problem. “Fine,” he said. “When’s he bringing his stuff in?”
Momoyama-senpai spent the next two days reading quietly when he was in the room instead of at classes or the library or soccer practice. At first it was soothing, but then Kaoru began to wonder uneasily if he was doing something wrong. He had got the room to himself because every time they put someone in with him eventually they ended up trying to stick their tongues down his throat, and he didn’t mind that in theory but in practice there were other things he was looking for in a roommate.
He stretched out, long and slow, his shirt rising above his stomach, and realized that he was watching Momoyama-senpai in the corner of his eye, to see what he thought of it. Momoyama-senpai turned the page of his book. Kaoru flopped down on his bed. He was not pouting. Momoyama was a senpai and a temporary roommate and he had no reason to sulk because Momoyama did not try to jump him.
It was entirely possible he wanted to be jumped, but that was stupid when he thought about it. He just found it weird, is all. Momoyama-senpai was ignoring him. He didn’t know why but he had a vague feeling that Momoyama-senpai ought to pay attention to him, to look at him and want him.
He looked over at Momoyama-senpai again. The light from his bedside lamp made his dark hair shine. His head was bent and his eyelashes drooped over his cheeks as he read. Kaoru realized he wanted to push the hair away from Momoyama-senpai’s eyes.
This was unacceptable. He was an attractive young man with brown hair streaked with gold and brown eyes and he was, if he did say so himself, slim and muscular. It made no sense that Momoyama-senpai was ignoring him.
Everything he knew about him he’d learned on the sly, like stealing something from him. He used plain soap, plain shampoo, plain shaving cream. He liked really blazing hot curry, the type that could melt the roof of your mouth off. The type that nobody but Kaoru liked. His dark hair fell over his brown eyes when he concentrated.
By the time that maintenance had managed to fix Momoyama-senpai’s room, Kaoru found he was sort of used to him. Maybe not used to him, but it was nice having him around.
“You could stay here,” he said, carelessly. “If you wanted.”
Momoyama-senpai looked at him, and his mouth turned upward in a small smile. “You don’t mind?”
“No,” said Kaoru. “Not really.”
He’d never actually seduced anybody.
He’d allowed himself to be seduced, certainly, but that was an entirely different thing. Allowing yourself to be seduced was a lot easier, after you put the idea in their head that they wanted to seduce you. You just went along with things, a bit remote but not so remote you were unattainable.
But he’d never actually seduced anybody, and he wasn’t sure he wanted to start now.
“Would you go after Momoyama-sempai?” he said.
His friends — the guys he hung out with, anyway — looked up from their poker game. It was lunchtime and they were sprawled on the grass outside, in the shade of the trees beside the dorm. “Momoyama?” said Kenji. “You’re rooming with him, aren’t you? He hasn’t gone for you yet?”
Kaoru bared his teeth at him.
“Too big,” said Taichi.
“Too grumpy,” said Akira.
“He’s certainly attractive,” said Hotaru, doubtfully. “Just that he doesn’t look like he’d be worth the effort.”
“You guys are a lot of help,” said Kaoru.
“Are you thinking of it?” said Akira. There was a chuckle that ran across the group. It caught on the wind and drifted away. “He isn’t quite your type, is he?”
“Maybe I’m thinking of changing,” snapped Kaoru.
“Why?” said Hotaru. “Because he isn’t falling at your feet?”
Kaoru opened his mouth to say he could have Momoyama-senpai if he wanted him, realized what he was about to say, and shut his mouth with an audible click. “I don’t see why I shouldn’t go after him,” he said.
“Good luck,” said Kenji politely.
It could not possibly be that difficult to seduce anybody, he decided. The people who tried to seduce him had always done things like bring him presents or stand just a shade too close, smiling at him. Sometimes they would corner him in a classroom and stammer out confessions. It was kind of funny, in a way, but Kaoru had never really thought about what it meant. He’d always thought they’d just wanted him, his looks or his body or his attention. He’d never thought that they might want something else. That they might feel something else.
He’d never known they might have felt like this.
Momoyama-senpai was very hard to get next to. A week’s careful research, talking to his classmates and observing him around corners, revealed nothing of use. He always ate the same thing at lunch, he didn’t seem to be more than polite to any of his classmates, and he didn’t have any hobbies. He studied, he played soccer, he studied some more. Kaoru began to wonder why he bothered.
Then he went to watch Momoyama-senpai at practice. Momoyama-senpai kicked a goal, and for one second he seemed to fly. His back curved, a perfect arc in midair. Kaoru curled his fingers around the wire of the fence, so tight that later he found red marks in his palms.
He’d never thought that anybody was beautiful before.
Also, contrary to popular belief, it is actually harder to seduce someone if they’re your roommate. You start wondering uneasily what will happen after you break up with them — or worse, what if you don’t break up with them? It’s nerve-wracking. And Momoyama-senpai was a great roommate. He only answered in grunts, of course, but he was tidy and he never forgot it was his turn to take out the trash.
The only problem was that Kaoru tried everything, everything that had been done to him, everything that he’d heard of people trying on others, and Momoyama-senpai gave him a look like he was a puppy trying to get his attention by chewing on his ankle.
It was just annoying. He stood in the shower and thought about how annoying it was, how much it made him want to twitch or bite something, preferably his so-calm roommate and see how he’d like it. See if he’d growl, low in his throat, and snap back, see if he’d push Kaoru hard against the wall and kiss him, his body pressed against Kaoru so Kaoru could arch and cry out. He was vaguely aware his hand was slipping down but he didn’t care because in his mind he could see Momoyama-senpai over him, bending down to kiss him as his hand slid over Kaoru.
Kaoru sucked in his breath and choked on water, coughing hard.
Momoyama-senpai banged on the door. “All right in there?”
“Fine! yelped Kaoru. “Just fine!”
Driven by raving sexual frustration and the constant urge to straddle his roommate and whine childishly until Momoyama-senpai did something about it, he recklessly went to a party, got slightly toasted and found himself with someone’s hands up his shirt and down his pants. Kaoru pushed the other boy aside impatiently.
“Hey,” said the other boy, whose name Kaoru couldn’t remember. “What’s your problem?”
“You smell terrible,” snapped Kaoru, and escaped.
“Hey,” said the other boy behind him. “Hold on!”
Kaoru glanced behind him and cursed; it would be his luck that the other boy was just drunk and horny enough to really make trouble. He picked up his pace.
“I’m talking to you, you bastard!” yelled the other boy. There was the sound of pounding footsteps and Kaoru realized he was about to be caught.
He couldn’t help but think it was funny that he didn’t even remember the other boy’s name — but he was horribly aware that if he was caught, names would be the least of his problems.
He stumbled and almost fell. The other boy reached for him and slammed him against a wall. “What the hell did you mean by that?”
“Let me go,” said Kaoru.
The other boy leaned in, his breath foul and hot against Kaoru’s face. Kaoru took a breath to yell — and the other boy squawked and stumbled away. Kaoru looked up into Momoyama-senpai’s eyes and blinked. Momoyama-senpai only gave him a brief look before he turned his attention to the other boy.
“Hey,” he said. “What do you think you’re doing?”
“He –” began the other boy, and caught Momoyama-senpai’s eye. “Nothing,” he said.
“Didn’t your parents teach you any manners?” said Momoyama-senpai, very mildly. The other boy looked aside, not that Kaoru could blame him. Momoyama-senpai had a gentle expression on his face that in no way dispelled the impression that he was thinking about twisting someone’s balls off.
“I’m sorry, senpai,” said the other boy, glared at Kaoru, and limped off.
Momoyama-senpai watched him long enough to be sure he was really leaving, and then turned to Kaoru. He didn’t say anything. He looked at Kaoru with one eyebrow raised.
Kaoru shifted and looked away.
“Well?” said Momoyama-senpai gently.
“I’m an idiot?” said Kaoru to the floor.
“I hope you don’t expect me to disagree with you.”
“No, senpai,” said Kaoru, in a small voice. The floor was really very interesting. It was linoleum and a sort of gray-yellow color, with cracks in it that were supposed to look like marble.
Momoyama-senpai tilted Kaoru’s head up so he had to look at him. “How drunk are you?”
“Dunno,” said Kaoru miserably. Too drunk, or not drunk enough. Both, if possible.
Momoyama-senpai sighed. “Let’s get you back to our room,” he said.
Momoyama-senpai fed him coffee and waited patiently while Kaoru took a shower. When he came out again, Momoyama-senpai was sitting on the bed, his dark hair glinting in the light of the desklamp.
“I’m not going to beat you up,” said Momoyama-senpai, and Kaoru realized that he was probably looking like he was really afraid, or upset, or something. “But I would like to know what you were thinking.”
“Well,” said Kaoru. “Um. I was drunk. And um.”
Momoyama-senpai waited patiently.
“I was trying to seduce you,” Kaoru said, sulkily. “And you weren’t paying attention to me.”
“And that’s why you had to be rescued from that idiot?” said Momoyama-senpai, in a reasonable tone that made Kaoru yearn to hit him.
“No!” he said. “I mean…” He looked away. “I wasn’t trying to make you notice me or anything,” he said. “I mean, not like that. It’s just …” he trailed to a stop, miserable.
“Ah,” said Momoyama. “I don’t want to be seduced.”
Kaoru slumped. It really hurt, he thought, surprised. He was going to have to find a new roommate and forget about Momoyama-sempai. It felt like there was nothing that would ever make up for this. “Fine, then,” he said. He turned away.
Momoyama-senpai’s hand brushed his chin, and tilted it up. He bent his head and his lips touched Kaoru’s lightly, the ghost of a kiss.
“Wouldn’t mind being your boyfriend, though,” said Momoyama-sempai.
Kaoru blinked. “Really?”
“Yes, really,” said Momoyama-senpai.
“But – you – ARGH!” Kaoru dived for his bed and threw a pillow at him. Momoyama-senpai caught it and threw it back, hitting him on the head.
“Stupid,” he said, smiling.
Kaoru opened his mouth to say something about people who let other people make idiots of themselves and found himself flat on his back with Momoyama-senpai over him. “Have you ever spent more than a week with anybody who’s seduced you?”
“No,” said Kaoru, reluctantly. It was hard to think with Momoyama-senpai’s body so close to his.
“There, you see,” said Momoyama-senpai. “I’d like you for more than a week, thank you.”
“Oh,” said Kaoru.