It was a winter day after school. The three friends decided to go to Kenken’s house, escaping from the snowy cold to hide indoors. They made a racket removing their shoes and outermost coats, and then bowed in turn to Kenken’s mother in greeting her. The three teenage boys then climbed up to Kenken’s upstairs bedroom.
His bedroom wasn’t very big. It had an ugly carpet, though very thick and soft. It also had a Western-style bed across from a tiny shitty second-hand TV. They decided to play video games on it, anyway. Acchan and Mario respectfully hung back and let Kenken fiddle with the wires for three controllers and dig out the cartridge for a racing game. He eventually motioned them up to take their controllers. They huddled together, sitting on the floor, backs against the foot of the bed, sharing the small screen as best they could, pressed side by side.
Acchan was stuck in the middle. The tight space actually became an advantage, since he was pressed so tight that he could feel them tensing in preparation for a move. It was also kind of nice anyway, the two pillars of heat that he called friends, defending him on both sides from the winter cold seeping in.
He got kind of distracted thinking about that, and they soon raced past him. Mario just barely beat Kenken, with Acchan left in last place.
Shit, he lost.
“Argh!” he shouted in frustration, and tossed his controller lightly onto the carpet, a pale imitation of the violence he wanted to do to it. He turned to Mario to let out the rest of his anger and disappointment.
But Mario’s triumphant grin was blinding. Acchan blinked at him. Inside his heart, something stirred, and the fog of anger lifted.
"... W-whatever," Acchan huffed, letting the last of his anger dissipate.
A weird thought came to him, of wanting to kiss his friend. He shook his head to clear the thought out. It was dangerous enough to think about that while he was in bed, on the edge of unconsciousness. It would be far worse to think about doing it when he could make it real in a single impulsive action that ruined everything for him.
He tried to push the thought far from his mind, then opened his eyes. Kenken was staring into them.
“You okay, there, Acchan? You sure you don’t want another round?” Kenken wasn’t just trying to get another chance to get first place. There was some real concern for him, in a close and scrutinizing gaze, from entirely too short a range. Acchan's heart was pounding.
“I’m fine! Let’s just do something else.”
Mario and Kenken leaned to look at each other around their crazy friend. They both sensed that something fishy was going on.
“Hey. Acchan. Are you hiding something from us?” Kenken asked.
Acchan opened his mouth, ready with a retort, but nothing happened. He sat there with his defensive expression frozen in place, mouth hanging open, finger raised in objection, wordless. He closed his mouth and fixed his eyes on the carpet.
He moved around to face both his friends directly, and he cleared his throat. “Guys... I don’t really know how to say this...”
Mario and Kenken watched him more carefully than they had ever done before, with very serious looks on their faces, hoping for the best, wanting to support their friend in his honesty.
"I... I mean, you both know that- that I like guys..." They nodded cautiously. "And, when I was chasing after Sakamoto, you both really supported me. I was so glad. I thought you might hate me, if you knew. You might be disgusted with me, you might be afraid of me. But instead, you helped me talk to him. And afterwards, you both helped me so much, in getting over him. I didn't expect how relieved I felt when I had your acceptance. I... I just, I think I have a crush, on the both of you now."
Neither of them spoke. They just stared with wide, shocked eyes. They hardly dared breathe. Acchan rubbed the back of his neck, eyes fixed on a spot on the carpet between the three of them.
He swallowed. He’d have to say more."We-well... And I know that I shouldn't. I was thinking- And I know that just because you guys were okay with me liking guys, it doesn't mean you like guys... And I shouldn’t crush on a friend, it’s ruining a good platonic thing. And if I were crushing on a friend, it should be just one, or at least just one at a time. And even if I was having multiple crushes, I should like one more than the other." His voice got very quiet. "I’m supposed to be able to choose, I should be able to imagine just dating one." He recovered a bit. "But I like you both the same. I can't... I can't picture it just me and Mario, or just me and Kenken. But- But I also can't picture it with the three of us, because you... Because there's no way you... Because I can't ask you to date each other and me..."
Acchan buried his face in his hand. "I'm sorry, guys," he said, slightly muffled.
Silence reigned between them for a while.
“Uh, w-well, Acchan,” said Kenken eventually. One of them had to speak, and he guessed it was going to have to be him. “Honestly? I... I like you. When you said you had a crush on a guy, last year, I was almost hoping it would be me. I thought I was just being vain, I thought I just wanted the ego boost. I thought I’d have had to turn you down, because of being straight. I thought that it was stupid and selfish and a waste to want to be the object of an affection I’d never return. I was almost glad that you liked Sakamoto instead. You deserved a nice guy like that. One who wouldn't just use your feelings to feel better about himself. But, watching you try to flirt with Sakamoto, I started thinking more about it, and really thinking about my own sexuality. And, I realized that I liked you, Acchan. And, I liked you, too, Mario. I... I get what you mean. It feels more like we're on the same wavelength, like some sort of... Like the three of us, we'd be out of whack if it were just two, like we couldn't be just... I don't know. It didn't feel right with either of you missing, when I thought about confessing. I wanted you to be happy, and I couldn't just try to confess to Mario without you, so I didn’t say anything and just encouraged you pursuing Sakamoto. I was almost surprised when he- he didn’t return your feelings... Because, I do.”
Acchan was watching him, so surprised and touched and hardly daring to believe his luck. “Oh...” he breathed softly.
They both looked over to Mario, who looked down embarrassedly. “I-I feel the same.” He took a deep breath. “When I came to Japan, I stood out and my language skills weren't very good. I was worried I might not make any friends, and my mom even said we could move back if I really couldn’t. But from the beginning, you two accepted me, and didn’t treat me like an outsider. I could hardly speak, but I was always welcome to hang out with you. You included me in everything, and I’ll never forget the day you defended me from that guy who gave me trouble. But, I just took these feelings for friendship, and even when I realized I felt more than friendship, I put it aside. Even when you, Acchan, confessed that you liked Sakamoto, I thought it would be impossible for you to like me that way. So, I kept my feelings to myself. But, if we're sharing them, I'll tell you. I like you both very much.”
Acchan was definitely crying now. “Ohh!” He grabbed them both into a hug. “How did you keep quiet for so long? I could barely stand it!”
“I don’t know, bro! I thought you’d be happier not knowing! Thinking you just had two friends who loved you, instead of, a friend and a weirdo who’s in love with you.”
“You’re not weird!” he said, and he squeezed both of them tighter. “Neither of you are weird! I love you!” His voice dropped quieter. “I love you both so much...”
He let them go after a few more seconds, and wiped his tears with his sleeve. “Are you, really okay with it, though? Is it okay to do this? I mean, I love both of you. I wanna date the both of you. Isn’t that, like, the three of us are...”
Mario and Kenken traded a look. “It’s fine,” Kenken told him.
“It’s really fine,” Mario echoed.
They smiled at each other, and Acchan smiled and wiped more tears away.
“So,” he began hesitantly. “So, we’re like, dating now? The three of us?”
They traded kisses, and got onto the bed so as to cuddle better than they could on the floor.