It all started with an ordinary lunchtime and a pat on the shoulder from a somewhat hesitant Kengo. “H-hey, partner.”
Of course, Kazuki was somewhat curious by his friend’s odd behavior. As far as he knew, there had been nothing out of the ordinary between them today, so Kengo being flustered was a bit out of the blue. “Huh? What’s up, Kengo?”
“You’re grabbing lunch?”
The summoner chuckled. “Of course! What’s with that question?”
The brawler scratched the back of his head, seemingly having difficulties picking his words. “Y’know, do you want to go for a change?”
“What? Like buying lunch outside of the cafeteria?”
“No, no! We can grab some from the cafeteria, but…do you want to eat with me on the rooftop?”
“Rooftop? That’ll be great! I’ll tell Shi—”
“No. Just the two of us,” The words just fell into thin air with no response for a few seconds. It was mere seconds, but somehow Kengo felt that the silence was centuries too long. “But it’s okay if you don’t wanna go—”
Kazuki suddenly blurted out a laugh, amused to see that his usually gungho classmate acted rather awkwardly this afternoon. He slapped Kengo’s back firmly to ease him up. “Chill, Kengo. Why won’t I go? I’m eating with you, after all!”
Realizing that he had been acting weird in front of Kazuki, Kengo snapped out of his bashfulness and started to pull himself back together. He slung his arm around the summoner’s shoulders as he laughed a tad too loud. “Ah…hahahaha! That’s right! ‘Kay then. What are you buying?”
As they walked from class to the cafeteria, Kengo kept his brain working in high gear. For one, he was trying to suppress his nervousness. Aside from that, he was also trying to brace himself for the talk that he was going to have with Kazuki over their lunch. It was something that had concerned him for months because it would change their relationship once and for all.
And while the berserker had his mind occupied as they started to pick their foods for lunch, Kazuki was also processing several thoughts in his head. After some thinking, he felt that it was peculiar that Kengo acted out of nowhere. Was he in a pinch? He was worried because if there was one thing that he had learned from his fights in Ikebukuro, it was that Kengo was not the type to easily share his problems to anyone and that he preferred to solve them alone. He took a mental note to ask about it if he had a chance.
They spent a few minutes walking from the cafeteria to the rooftop, exchanging a few small talks and awkward glances. Once they arrived, though, their tension slightly disappeared, carried by the soft gust of wind. They were an inch closer to touch the bright sun and the clear sky. Kazuki was compelled to make a comment. “Now I get why people love to hang out on the rooftop.”
“Huh? Why do you think so?”
The summoner walked away from Kengo’s side and spreaded his arms wide in front of his classmate, his face filled with radiating happiness. “Don’t you feel it? It’s refreshing to feel the wind and the sun. It’s calm and quiet. You can even steal a minute or two to take a nap!”
Kengo was wide-eyed. Sometimes it escaped his mind that Kazuki could make that kind of liberating expression, one that made him forget the stifling alienation that he had used to taste from time to time. He could not help but guffaw. “We’re on the same page, partner,” He quickly took a spot to sit and signaled his friend to join him. “It’s the first time I see you buy that bread. Is it that good?”
“I don’t know, I take this just to try it. I’m a bit bored by the club sandwich,” Kazuki waved his meat and mozzarella bread to Kengo. “You often take that yakisoba bread. Seems I need to try that too sometimes, huh?”
“Feel free, partner,” The brawler opened the packaging of his bread and started to chomp on it. The bread itself was not special, but he happened to like the deep and rich flavor of the yakisoba as it was mingling along with the bits of onions, vegetables, and meat in his mouth. “Wanna try?”
“No. You wouldn’t have enough to be fulfilled until evening if I take a bite,” The summoner was in the process of opening the packaging of his bread.
“Bullshit. I got two more right here. A bite doesn’t make a difference.”
Kazuki sighed. “Alrighty, then. But you must promise me you’ll take a bite from mine too. You know, for future references?”
Kengo snorted. “Okay, okay,” He offered the side of the bread which had not been graced with his teeth yet. “Here, here.”
As Kazuki grabbed a bite of the bread, Kengo was once again astonished. In his eyes, the summoner looked like a very cute dog who chomped on his food while wagging his tail. Being the rowdy man he was, the street fighter started to be distracted by increasingly weird thoughts about his friend. He unknowingly gulped hard and, realizing that his mind was starting to go out of control, he shook his head.
Kengo’s act did not escape Kazuki’s notice. He immediately commented, his mouth still full of food. “Huh? Why are you shaking your head?”
“O-oh, nothing! Just a lot of things in my mind. How is it?”
Kazuki finished chewing and swallowing the bread, then replied, “Not bad. I see why you like it so much. Seems like the kind of bread that I can eat once in a while.”
The martial artist grinned widely. “Glad you like it!” He pointed to the meat and mozzarella bread Kazuki held in his hands. “How is it? Up to your taste?”
“I haven’t even eaten it, Kengo, chill. Lemme take the first bite,” The summoner gnawed at one end of the bread and pulled it out, meeting a bit of resistance from the stretchy cheese in it. It was, frankly speaking, nothing sort of special, but the flavor was nonetheless pleasant. Kazuki quickly offered the bread to Kengo. “It’s a-okay, but you’ve got to taste it for yourself. Here.”
Kengo extended his hand to rip a portion of the bread, only for Kazuki to pull it away. “Huh? What’s that?”
“Just bring your mouth here and chomp directly. Like I did earlier with your lunch.”
The berserker was confused with that reprimand, but upon seeing his guild master’s cheeky smile, he realized that Kazuki was teasing him. Kengo pouted a bit, but he did as Kazuki asked anyway.
As he glanced towards Kazuki, Kengo swore that his heart skipped a beat. There Kazuki was, grinning in content and looking him in the eyes. It was a pair of eyes which the brawler had noticed several times—the eyes which he thought were dazzling. And just like the many times before, it awakened a drive inside of him which compelled him to keep Kazuki only to himself. He had to force him to pull away as fast as possible and focus on chewing his food.
“So? Is it good?”
Kengo cleared his throat to shoo away all of his imaginations about Kazuki. “Just like you say. It’s okay, I guess.”
The next few minutes were spent finishing their lunch, interspersed with some small chats and comments here and there. As much as they talked, though, Kazuki noticed that most of their time was spent in a somewhat nervous silence. He observed that Kengo ate all of his breads in a rush even though they still had more than enough time for lunch break. The suspicion that the summoner had when they had been in the classroom earlier started to resurface.
After all the food and drinks, Kengo still did not engage Kazuki in a meaningful conversation. The summoner himself felt that he had to be the one to initiate it. “Is there anything that you want to talk about with me?”
Kengo sighed in resignation. “Yeah…”
“Don’t beat around the bush, Kengo. Being clear is key here.”
“I know…” He scratched his head furiously. “It’s just that it relates to you, so I’m still figuring out how to approach it.”
“It relates to me? Huh. Did I do something wrong? Or maybe about the words I said?”
“Calm down, partner. You’ve done nothing wrong,” Kengo snickered as he braced himself to talk about the problem which had been bugging him for a while. “Remember the day we removed the Exception back in Ikebukuro?”
And the elephant in the room was finally exposed. The pieces of the puzzle in Kazuki’s mind suddenly fell into place. The guild master’s face turned somewhat serious, yet he was able to control himself enough to project a confident tone to his voice. “The day I kissed you for the first time?”
“Woah, you sure are brazen about it.”
“‘Cause I don’t take that kiss as a fleeting moment, that’s why.”
If there was a rewind button, Kengo would like to hit it to make sure that he heard Kazuki’s words right. “Huh?”
It was the summoner’s turn to sigh. Although his exhale contained some relief due to the fact that he had unloaded the burden in his heart, it was also imbued with some expectation. “...Yeah, at least that’s how I’m going to treat that moment. No need to be pressured to do the same, though.”
“...No, ‘cause I…” Kengo’s words just fell with abandon as he tried to articulate his thoughts. “I can’t forget the way it felt, no matter how hard I try,” It was another pause until the brawler continued speaking. “I’m still trying to sort out my feelings here. I dunno how, so I figured talking to you directly is a good way to start.”
At this point, they had been dragging the conversation unnecessarily with all of their withheld breaths and uncomfortable pauses. At least for Kengo, this was irritating, but he fully understood the situation they were in. It was expected, after all; this was the kind of talk which could significantly change things between them, and thus they would have to choose their words carefully. The berserker just hoped that they could somehow survived this experience relatively—
“Wanna kiss me again, Kengo?”
Kengo tried his best to fully process the sentence that he heard. He turned his gaze to Kazuki, who looked back at him with a paradox of slight nervousness and firm resolution. It dawned on him that the words he had just heard were real and it was coming from the summoner himself.
“You heard me loud and clear.”
Kengo found himself stuttering, something which he did not usually do even when he was flustered. “N-n-no! I mean, I can’t believe you offer something like that.”
“But you don’t exactly deny the fact that you want to try doing it with me again, do you?”
Kengo cursed himself for being easily mesmerized by the glimmer in Kazuki’s eyes. Right now he felt like a beast hungrily looking at a seemingly lost deer. Something inside him was roused into his consciousness as he slowly closed the gap between their faces to the point that he practically breathed right in front of the summoner’s nostrils.
“Be careful with your words, partner,” Kengo clenched his fist as he tried to contain himself. “You can turn me wild if you keep doing things like that.”
“I know,” Kazuki smiled awkwardly. “I heard people say that I can easily turn the rowdy wild.”
“It’s not funny to tease your friend like this, y’know. You sure you know what you’re doing?”
“I’ve told you before,” At this rate, the summoner’s voice resembled more of a whisper. “I don’t take that kiss in Ikebukuro as a fleeting moment.”
“Shit,” Kengo’s mind gradually went out of control as he instinctively cupped Kazuki’s chin and moved closer to him. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you, partner.”
And with that, their lips crashed into hello once again. It was not exactly the best kiss ever—there were still lingering hints of the flavor of their lunches, and they were not exactly experienced enough to act more properly. But it was raw, and especially for Kengo, it was full of craving. The berserker could not help himself as he probed deeper, groaning once in a while as his mind scrambled and spinned.
Kazuki gradually understood why it was such a big deal for Kengo to be forward about this matter with him even when they already had a good rapport with each other: more than the fear in the change of their friendship, it was because the brawler knew that he would not be able to hold himself from being greedy and keeping the summoner only to himself. Yet oddly enough even to himself, Kazuki welcomed that upbringing—and maybe even got excited with it.
And just as things were getting too heated to be handled, the bell that signified the end of the lunch break rang. It was like an electric shock which jolted them back to reality as they quickly broke their kiss and pulled away from one another. For several seconds the summoner and the berserker stared at each other, their breaths slightly labored and their faces flushed. It was Kazuki who was daring enough to break the silence. “Okay, I thought I was always ready for that kiss, but turns out I don’t.”
Kengo was so caught off-guard that the only response he could think of was a guffaw. It was loud and satisfying. “Sorry, sorry. Didn’t expect it would get out of hand.”
“No! Don’t say that. You know…it felt good,” Kazuki cleared his throat. “Better than the one in Ikebukuro, in fact.”
“A—ah…” Feeling too self-conscious, Kengo quickly avoided Kazuki’s gaze, subconsciously rubbing his temple in bashfulness. “You really have a way with words, don’t you?”
“People sometimes say that about me too,” The summoner exhaled, this time full of content. “If you haven’t had your feelings sorted out, we can have another kiss at another time.”
“I think…yeah, I need more,” It was Kengo’s turn to clear his throat to collect himself. “Can we continue that kiss…after dinner, maybe? In my—”
“You’re really greedy about the things you possess, huh?”
“Hey! I’m not like that!”
Kazuki chortled upon seeing Kengo’s lame retort. Although admittedly he still had his fears over the ongoing evolution of his relationship with his friend, somehow he felt that they would turn out okay. Who knew, that maybe from just a simple kiss, they would go further into something more—something which would definitely seal the deal about their love for one another. “Well, turns out I’ll be very free after dinner. In your room, okay?”