MAINICHI SEITEN! (doesn't belong to me)
Title: Summer Shopping
Characters: Yuuta, Mayumi
Is it Shounen Ai: You decide.
"Good," Mayumi huffed and tried not to smile. "Nine o'clock, remember. I want to get an early start." Wanting to look imposing, he planted his feet shoulder-width apart and crossed his arms. He was fully aware that it wouldn't work -- he didn't take up more than half of the doorway, and he was wearing the pajama pants with the ice cream cones on them. Still, one had to start somewhere.
"The serious look don't suit you," Yuuta observed, tugging at the towel around his neck. He brought up a hand to shield his eyes from the glare of the lamp in the hallway. "Somethin' up?"
"It's an experiment," Mayumi said.
"Experiment in what?"
Nothing much, Mayumi thought. Breaking a habit. Being more genuine. Growing up -- hadn't Yuuta been the one to point out that his innocent kid act wouldn't work forever? But what he said was: "Testing whether or not you'd notice. Congratulations, you pass!"
Yuuta gave him an odd look. "Course I'm gonna notice, you smile all the damn time."
Mayumi smiled. "I'll probably be asleep when you get back," he said. "Don't wake me up, kay?"
"Gotcha," Yuuta said, picking up the plastic bag with soap and shampoo he'd set beside himself a minute ago. He turned to go. The hallway lamp cast their combined shadow halfway across the street, where it looked like one person with two heads. Like most of the streets in this neighborhood theirs was narrow, barely more than an alleyway. The small older houses that lined it were packed tight enough on either side that a conversation like the one they'd just had -- in the doorway, half in and half out -- wouldn't be private, no matter how late the hour.
In fact, there was Mrs. Yamato right now, shamelessly leaning out of her kitchen window to listen as Yuuta reached the bottom of the front steps and paused.
"Hey," he said, turning to look back at Mayumi. "Why d'ya want me to come, anyway? I mean I got nothin' better to do, but I doubt I'll be able to help."
Did he need a reason? Mayumi wondered. He was bored, and Yuuta was free. "That's not true, you're practically a member of the family!" he said.
Yuuta snorted. "I'll bet."
"Anyway, I'm turning in."
"'Night." They each stood at the doorway a moment, then Mayumi yawned and closed the door, and Yuuta shrugged and swaggered off toward the public baths, whistling a little.
Yuuta crashed on a park bench, dropping the shopping bags he'd been carrying all morning to fan himself with both hands. "Hot," he observed.
Mayumi moved the bags out of the way and sat next to him. The heat didn't seem to bother him. His shirt was buttoned all the way up and yet he wasn't sweating at all. Yuuta noted this sourly. Maybe on the way home he would make him carry everything.
"Wouldn't Osaka at this time of year be hotter?" Mayumi asked. He sat with his arms braced close to his body, kicking his legs out. From Yuuta's perspective this constituted unnecessary exertion on an overly hot day. He sprawled backwards, taking advantage of the shade. Behind them, a line of moderately-sized trees marked edge of a city park. The sidewalk in front of them was filled with casual shoppers and the occasional business lunch.
"Hot's hot. Growin' up with it don't make you immune."
"Eh? It doesn't?"
Yuuta rolled his eyes. Knock off the innocent act, he thought. You aren't fooling anyone. But it was too hot to quarrel, so he let it go. They sat watching the traffic together until Yuuta felt his brain cool down.
"...least we finished before three," he said finally. "That's the hottest parta the day."
"Yeah. Hey, after lunch, why don't we go somewhere cooler?"
"Ehhh, Mayumi doesn't know. Anywhere." He said this carelessly, as if he really had no opinions on the subject at all.
"Museum's air-conditioned," Yuuta offered. "And don't cost nothin'." He watched the line of skin between Mayumi's collar and his haircut, where maybe - just maybe - a few beads of sweat had begun to form. Mayumi chose this moment to turn towards him, and Yuuta swiftly pulled his gaze up.
"Sounds good! Where do you want to eat?"
Distracted, he waved his arm in a random direction. "There," he said.
Something occurred to Yuuta. He hesitated for less than a second, wondering whether it was something he'd be better off leaving alone. Letting off wasn't his style, though.
"Mayumi," he said.
"Why'd you really want me to come today?"
"I told you, it's because you're a member of the family," Mayumi said evasively. Hadn't he already answered this question?
"Bullshit," Yuuta said. "I don't know the first thing about your brother, an' even less 'bout pickin' appropriate birthday gifts."
"That's not true," Mayumi said, staring out across the street. He didn't mean it. It was just something to say. Yuuta probably noticed -- he was perceptive like that. "Anyway, think how much more it will mean, coming from both of us."
Yuuta snorted. "Akinobu an' I don't talk much," he said, blunt as ever. "I doubt it'll mean anything."
Mayumi weighed his options and decided to give it a try. Why not? He turned back and around in time to catch Yuuta staring again. Yawning, he laid his head on his arms on the back of the bench, mere inches from Yuuta who gave him an odd look but didn't move. "Maybe I wanted to spend time with you," Mayumi said, deliberately looking deep into Yuuta's eyes. Yuuta lifted his head from the back of the bench to stare back...
"Bullshit," he said. "I bet you're just lonely."
"Why would you say that?" Mayumi asked, wide-eyed and innocent. Inwardly he asked, how did you know?
"Just a hunch," Yuuta said, and lay back again, closing his eyes. His arms were spread across the bench and he looked very nonchalant.
This, Mayumi felt, was completely unfair.
"No fair!" he said. "You have to tell me."
"Don't have to tell you nothin." Yuuta cracked open an eye -- to watch him fume, Mayumi had no doubt. He switched to a pleading look. At first it didn't seem to have any effect, but then...
"Stands to reason, don't it?" Yuuta said. He brought up a hand to tick off points with his fingers. "Jou's been trainin' like crazy, Akinobu's buried in thesis junk, an' your favorite brother's been locked in an editor/writer deathmatch with Shuu all week. 'Course you're lonely." He let his arm fall back down.
Of course. Mayumi laughed and leaned back against the bench -- and, incidentally, Yuuta's arm. Yuuta shifted uneasily, but Mayumi found the new arrangement perfectly comfortable. "You're too perceptive," he said. "Next time I'll ask someone else."
Yuuta stopped trying to withdraw his arm. "Nah," he said. "It ain't like that."
"What's it like, then?"
"Well," Yuuta said, examining the sky through the branches above them.
I'm lonely too.