Date: Friday, October 14
Rating: R for language only
Summary: Ayato is out jogging when he sees what looks like someone attempting to drown themself in the lake. Little does he know that someone is one Takayama Kouji. Angst and swearing ensue. o.O
Terada Ayato set off on the return leg of his run, watching his breath puff out before him in the crisp October air. Fall had set in with a vengeance, and the days had been growing steadily cooler – though that was absolutely no reason to cut down on his training runs. Ayato had to admit, it was actually much nicer running in the cold than the heat.
This last part of the run took him by the small lake just outside of the St. Rudolph grounds, which was definitely a nice change from the city scenery of most of his run. Finally settling into the silence around him, Ayato prepared to up the pace for the rest of the jog –
Splashing from the lake caught his attention, and he turned his head to see… The top of someone’s head disappear below the surface.
Ayato blinked, then blinked again – but the head didn’t reappear. What the – oh, shit. Hell. No.
Detouring from his path, Ayato tore off his wrist- and ankle-weights, tossing them into the grass only to be followed by the extra shirt he wore (it was cold enough to double up on shirts when running now). He hopped the rest of the way to the lake, pulling off his shoes before diving under the surface.
Holy shit it was cold under here. And dark. And shit, really really cold. Ayato could barely see a thing – but the person had been on this side of the shore, they had to be close –
His arms bumped something soft but solid, something that moved when he touched it – he grabbed it and swam for the surface, already feeling his hands and arms and legs going numb, shit, shit –
Ayato’s head broke the surface; next he pulled the other up, had to get them air –
And they nearly sunk again when Ayato realized that the person spluttering angrily next to him was none other than Takayama Kouji.
But there was no time for that now – he was really starting to lose the feeling in his limbs, so he just dragged the other through the water, finally hitting the shore and dragging them up…
Ayato just stared at the other boy once they’d reached the shore – he wasn’t saying anything, but was glaring at Ayato with a sort of sullen, smoldering look that conveyed the weight of his unhappiness with the current situation. Well. It wasn’t like Ayato was exactly happy with things right now either. But the dorms were closer than the hospital, and if they didn’t get up and moving they’d both get sick or worse. Ayato clambered to his feet with more than a little difficulty, pulling the sullen and stubborn Takayama with him. “We’re going back to the dorm,” Ayato told him firmly, pulling one of Takayama’s arms around his shoulders and stumbling off in the direction of the dorm.
Takayama said nothing the entire way back, which was just fine with Ayato – he was working too hard at keeping them moving to waste any energy for conversation. The warm air of the dorm building felt burning rather than soothing on his skin once they finally entered, and without really thinking he dragged Kouji all the way up to the room Ayato shared with Kazetaka-kun, glad when the door finally swung open that the other was not currently home right now.
Dropping them both onto the floor in the middle of the room, Ayato looked over at his sodden ex-roommate as if seeing him for the first time. “Um,” he said, and pulled himself back to his feet to stumble into the bathroom and come back with a towel, covering Takayama with it and rubbing firmly.
That seemed to snap him out of it – Takayama shoved him away angrily and stood. “I don’t want your damn towel,” he growled, but took it himself anyway, still sulking and leaving Ayato to stand in the middle of the floor, dripping slowly.
“Well if you want I can get you one of your own,” Ayato sighed.
Fine, it would probably make him happier, anyway. “Hang on,” Ayato said, grabbing the key he’d been meaning to turn into the dorm office and dragging himself out of the room and down to the room he and Takayama used to share. It was easy enough to get in and take one of Takayama’s own towels; he returned to his room with it and handed it to the boy still standing in the middle of the room. “Better?”
“Doesn’t make a difference,” Takayama grumbled, but took that one anyway.
“Well. Yours doesn’t have cooties or whatever mine must have,” Ayato replied, remembering the tape line dividing their room from what seemed like so long ago now. “You want some dry clothes?” He went to his closet to see if he had anything that would fit Takayama, trying not to drip all over everything. His skin still felt like it was burning.
“No, thanks, I like sitting here dripping cold lakewater all over the floor,” was the reply, as Ayato finally found some shorts and a large t-shirt that looked like they might fit the taller boy all right.
“I thought so. These might fit you,” he said, offering them up to the other, who sighed and disappeared into the bathroom. Ayato soon heard the shower running, and figured that was a good idea, a hot shower would warm Takayama up more quickly than anything else. Except the water kept running, even after ten minutes. After twenty. Thirty.
It kept running for an hour.
God… Ayato had collapsed onto the floor after only a few minutes, still cold and tingly but at least he was staring to feel things properly again. He was too tired to move, though – felt too tired to even get up and get changed – and besides, what if Takayama came out while he was getting changed? Not a good idea. He finally pulled a book over and into his lap once he’d stopped dripping and tried to read it despite how cold he still felt. It was getting better, anyway…
Takayama finally emerged from the bathroom nearly an hour later, toweled and changed, hair still wet. Without looking up from the book, hoping that seeming disinterested was the way to handle this, Ayato asked, “Better?”
“I guess,” Takayama mumbled.
“Good. There’s a heating pad around here if you’re still cold,” Ayato offered, eyes still on the book, “or I have some food if you’re hungry. Or you can just… go if you want.” He desperately wanted to know what had happened, but asking Takayama outright was a surefire way to make him walk out of here without saying anything. Feigning disinterest was actually far more likely to get results. Even with something of this magnitude.
“Why’d you save me?”
There we go, Ayato thought, but all he said was, “Hm?” He turned the page. “What do you mean?”
“Why. Did. You. Save. Me.” Takayama demanded again.
“Because. Why wouldn’t I?” Ayato asked – it really was a simple question. It wasn’t like he’d had a choice, even not knowing that the head disappearing beneath the water was Takayama’s. Ayato would have saved anyone. That it had happened to be Takayama… just complicated things.
“Because maybe people in the river want to drown,” Takayama told him bitterly and no, Ayato hadn’t thought that wasn’t true, but hadn’t Takayama thought that maybe other people wouldn’t have wanted him to drown?
“Then do it someplace more private,” Ayato said quietly – really, drowning yourself in a lake where anyone could see you was just asking to be saved, in his opinion. If you really wanted to go, then privacy was the way to do it. Not that he’d ever really contemplated it much, but he’d read plenty of books, he knew all the plot devices, and there was none so obvious as trying to kill yourself where someone else was very likely to find you.
“Right, coz I'm gonna pull up a big fucking body of water right in my private dorm room. Sure.”
“I didn’t mean that.”
“There are plenty of better ways to kill yourself, you know,” Ayato pointed out, because apparently Takayama really hadn’t thought about this much. Besides – drowning? What an unpleasant way to go. And in freezing water, nonetheless. Ayato was still cold and it had been an hour.
“Sure you read 'em in a book or something. Well sorry I don’t read as much as you. Us stupid people have to go with what we think'll work,” Takayama countered, voice still as sullen as ever.
“I did. You want some?” he asked, turning another page before wiping at his nose with the back of one hand – damn, was it running?
“Wouldn’t want to have to give you credit if I succeeded,” Takayama told him shortly.
“Don’t have to,” Ayato assured him, wanting desperately to glance up by now but refusing out of principle. At least he had Takayama talking. That was a start.
“I hate you, you know.”
That was nothing new. “I know,” Ayato replied, turning another page.
“You should’ve just let me die.”
“Sorry, I can’t do that,” Ayato said, voice as level as ever, as if Takayama had asked something infinitely more mundane.
“What the fuck.”
“What the fuck what?” Ayato asked, a note of anger finally creeping into his voice. Takayama really was that thick. “I can’t do that. Deal with it.” Go kill yourself somewhere where I won’t find you next time.
“No, I’m not gonna just deal with it,” Takayama replied angrily. “What, I’m only standing here thanks to your ubiquitous moral code or some shit? No. I’m fucking sick of this.”
“Fucking sick of what? You're my friend and I won't let you die like that.” Ayato wasn’t reading anymore, and he was angry, but his eyes were still firmly attached to the page. He didn’t dare look up now.
“I told you I hate you!”
“I told you I know that. So?”
“So you're not supposed to do stupid shit like pull me out of the lake,” Takayama said, in that same tone of voice he always used when he told Ayato not to do something stupid like this or that. It was all he ever told Ayato anymore.
“I thought I was good at doing stupid shit,” Ayato said bitterly.
“Doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it.”
“Sorry, I stick with what I’m good at. If you hate me then why are you still standing there?” Not that he wanted Takayama to leave and do something stupid again, but really, that was the question to be begged. He hadn’t just left when Ayato had dragged him back here. That had to count for something.
“I fucking hate you. Whore.” And Takayama threw the towel at Ayato’s head and stalked out of the room, slamming the door loudly for good measure. Twice.
Ayato sighed loudly, shoving the book aside and getting to his feet, following Takayama out into the hall. There were some things that really had to be cleared up, if that was what this was about. Right. Now. He shoved Takayama in the back as best he could.
“What the fuck?” Takayama demanded, turning around and shoving him back. Ayato stumbled numbly into the wall before standing upright again.
“I’m not a whore,” he said simply.
“Then don’t act like one.”
“Then what do you call what you’re doing?! Fucking bitch!” Takayama swore in his face. “I hate you!”
“I’m not doing anything,” Ayato replied calmly. Because he wasn’t. Despite what Takayama might think.
The other seemed to have no argument to this. “I – I still hate you!” he insisted. “You’re being you! That’s goddamn enough. Being all ... whatever you are, pure and innocent or what the fuck ever, being all ... God damn, just stop being so cool.”
Ayato blinked at him dumbly. Okay, so Takayama had told him before that just being himself was annoying. But… what? “Huh?” He watched with a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach as Takayama slumped against the wall and slid to the floor. This was… worse than he’d thought. And it was his fault? Oh, shit. “… Hey, Takayama,” he said quietly, “Really. Are you okay?” He already knew the answer, he guessed, but what could he do but ask?
“No, I’m fucking not okay,” the other said quietly, but strongly. “I just, you know, jumped in the goddamn lake for fun.”
If this was his fault… “Well, what do you want me to do?” Ayato asked quietly.
“I don’t know.”
“Anything,” Ayato insisted. “Seriously.” Whatever it was that he was doing, if it was bad enough to make Takayama try to kill himself… he’d stop it. Or fix it. Whatever the hell it took. This was not right.
“God. Shit like this,” Takayama said weakly, banging his head against the wall and looking away. “I’d never do shit like this.”
Ayato was still confused. “Like what?”
“… This,” Takayama said. “Whatever you’re doing now.”
That still didn’t make any sense. “... Uh, like whichever I'm doing now? I'm just standing here talking to you...” Not that it seemed to be helping much, dammit, now he was even more worried than he had been upon pulling the boy out of the lake.
“After I told you I fucking hate you and called you a bitch and a whore?”
“You’re still my friend.” Wasn’t that obvious? Apparently not; Ayato shrugged. “I don't care what you think of me. You can hate me all you want, as long as you're around to do it, okay?” That was really all he cared about – he could deal with losing Takayama as a friend completely, but not with the other taking his own life. Not over something stupid like… Ayato. “I’ll go, okay?” He turned and headed back toward his room a bit dizzily.
Takayama said nothing. And after a few steps, much though he thought maybe he should just leave the other alone, Ayato just… couldn’t. Not like this. “You want any of that food?” he called as nonchalantly as he could over his shoulder.
There was a pause. Then, “What've you got?”
Ayato grinned (in the other direction, careful Takayama couldn’t see it) as he heard the other boy stand again. “Some chips, sandwich stuff, rice, cereal, granola bars, you name it.”
“… Maybe some.”
“Throwing yourself in the river takes a lot out of you,” Ayato said, trying to be nonchalant again, leading the way back to his room. Though it suddenly felt very true – he wanted nothing more than to collapse into bed under about fifty blankets when this was all done.
“I still hate you.”
“Okay,” Ayato agreed. “Never said you didn’t. Wouldn’t dare presume.” He held the door open for Takayama and watched the other walk back into the room. “Take the bed,” he said, pointing to his own messily-made bed before going to root through the closet for his stash of food. “Anything in particular?”
“Not really,” Takayama said, pointedly not looking at Ayato.
He pulled out some granola bars, chips, and bread and peanut butter, bringing them over to the bed. “Well, try some of this for starters, then,” he offered, handing the pile to Takayama, who grabbed a granola bad and began munching it sullenly.
“Why you so fucking nice?” he asked around a mouthful of food.
Ayato blinked. He’d never exactly been asked that before. “… Uh. I dunno. What, you want me to be mean?” he asked. Takayama just shrugged and took another bite. “Not very good at being mean,” Ayato continued. “I just look stupid. Why’d your throw yourself in the lake?”
He watched the other think a moment, then realized after all that it probably wasn’t his place to ask. “... Well you don't have to tell me. Just seemed kinda... I dunno. Cold.” For one.
Takayama shrugged. “No point in sticking around.”
“There are plenty of warmer and less wet ways of not sticking around,” Ayato countered.
“You gonna keep bitching about the way I wanted to go?”
“Well, I don’t care,” Ayato said innocently enough, unable to let the tiniest bit of sarcasm creep in now. “But think of the damage to the ecosystem.”
“Sure, you really care about the fish,” Takayama said flatly.
“You're the one that wanted to become fish food. Niou-san'd beat you up if he heard about this.” Of that, Ayato had no doubt. And no, he wasn’t about to tell Niou about this – and wouldn’t without Takayama’s permission, whether the other boy knew it or not – but still. Niou would not be happy to hear that Takayama had thrown himself in the lake.
“No he wouldn’t!” Takayama insisted fiercely.
“Sure he would. Why shouldn't he? It'd keep you from trying again.”
“He doesn’t care,” Takayama said bleakly, and now Ayato had had it. That was what this was about, wasn’t it, and it needed to stop.
“What the fuck do you mean he doesn’t care?” he insisted.
“I mean. He doesn’t. Care.” Takayama repeated, then shrugged. “No difference to him whether I'm around or not.” And kept eating the granola bar.
“Yeah, well, you’re wrong about that one.” Ayato said simply, because he was and that was all there was to it.
“What the fuck ever.”
There was a long pause. Finally Takayama finished the granola bar, glancing up for the first time at Ayato. “How come you’re the only person that's ever nice to me?”
“... What? I'm not the only person that's ever nice to you.” He was quite sure that wasn’t true. “And even if I was, it's not like I'm gonna stop.” He still counted Takayama as one of his few friends, even though it was very clear the other did not feel the same way.
“Sure you are,” Takayama insisted. “Everyone else treats me like fucking shit.”
“That's only 'cause you act like it. You're not, really,” Ayato told him. That’s what he’d thought from day one: Takayama was a good kid at heart, really, and just pushed people away and Ayato had never been able to figure out why. He was sure that if Takayama started acting differently, people would treat him differently. And he’d only ever been trying to get him to see that.
The other boy was clearly confused by that, though. “Maybe it wasn't you I wanted to pull me out,” he said finally.
Ayato sighed. “... Oh. Well I'm sorry then. Would you like to try again?” How was that for gratitude? Well. He really hadn’t been expecting any. He knew that. Why should he hope for a change of heart now? It wasn’t going to happen. Never would.
“Eh.” Takayama paused. “I dunno. You're always gonna be nice to me, I guess. No matter how shitty I am to you. I don't get that, but maybe I don't have to. I dunno.” He looked away. “I wish people wouldn’t fucking lie to me.”
Ayato sighed. “No one’s lying to you,” he said quietly. Not anymore, at least, and it wasn’t as though he didn’t regret every single second he’d ever lied to his friend. About… anything. He might be good at lying, but that didn’t mean he always liked it.
Takayama still wouldn’t look at him again. “Why do you always take… everything that’s mine?” he asked softly. “Like my, um, singles spot.”
Ayato just stared. “Huh? But you’re singles two.” He was singles three – why would Takayama want that?
“Before,” Takayama clarified.
Ayato laughed a little. “You want singles three back? Take it.”
“No, I meant when I was –”
“You were injured,” Ayato clarified, because that was the only time he’d ‘taken’ singles three from Takayama, and that didn’t count, the other couldn’t play.
“– And somehow you got to be friends with Taoka and he still hates my fucking guts,” Takayama added.
“We have a truce, that’s not the same thing.”
“And, I dunno. Other stuff.”
… Right. The ‘other stuff.’ As if Ayato could possibly misinterpret what that was. “…Look,” he said finally. “That was stupid and we stopped, okay?” Because even if he and Niou had never really… broken it off, all they’d ever done was hang out anyway, and that was hardly dating, and he hadn’t seen Niou in ages anyway, Takayama had to know that –
“He never came back.”
Ayato stared at him. “Huh?”
“He just… it wasn’t the same. Stopped wanting me.”
And now Ayato wanted to throw himself in the lake. Oh, shit, was this all his fault? “…Ah… shit, I uh…” He hadn’t meant for any of this to happen. Maybe it really had just been one huge mistake from the outset. He liked Niou – yes, he knew that – but he couldn’t like Niou at this high a cost. It wasn’t fair. It was nowhere near fair. And now he’d quite possibly ruined everything. What could he possibly say?
“And now nobody fucking wants me,” Takayama finished.
“That’s not true, you dumbass, so stop saying it and get over yourself already,” Ayato said angrily, mind still racing as guilt settled heavy in his stomach.
“Prove it. Because shit, that’s not the message I got.” And Takayama flumped face-first on Ayato’s bed.
Ayato felt like he wanted to die. “… Well if pulling you out of a fucking freezing lake doesn't mean much, you'll have to give me a few minutes to think of something else.” What else could he do? His head hurt, everything was starting to hurt. He sneezed.
On Ayato’s bed, Takayama turned onto his side. “Don’t you get it? I know you're gonna ... be there, I guess. For whatever, shit, I don't know. You're the one who's always gonna be nice to me even if I'm a dick. I still don't know why but whatever, you are. And I don't fucking know why you want me around since I am such a dick all the time. But.” He paused. “But like, I know this shit, so maybe it isn't you that I need to hear it from. Not that it isn't nice or anything.” Another pause. A long one. “........... Coz it kinda is… Shit, I dunno.”
Ayato just stood there, listening, feeling more and more… worthless. Like he’d expected this would make things better? It wasn’t that simple. He wasn't good enough. He just wasn't... good enough. He just wanted to be Takayama’s friend and it wasn’t enough. He’d done far too much to make that likely ever again. “Heh,” he said, feeling a bit giddy for no discernable reason, “Well, who do you wanna hear it from? I’ll see what I can do.” As if he could do anything at all.
He felt horrible. Mentally, physically. He collapsed into his desk chair, thinking he wouldn’t be able to stand much longer. “It might take a little while though.”
Takayama was looking at him now as though he wanted to say something. “What?” Ayato asked, glancing over.
And there was nothing more he could say. “Look,” Ayato said, trying to shrug, “I’m gonna get changed.” He was still in wet clothes, and he’d thought he wasn’t as cold anymore but maybe that was really because he was starting to shake and go vaguely numb again. “Don’t go anywhere, okay?” As if he had any control over Takayama after all of this. He pushed himself up out of the chair again, finding clothes and disappearing into the bathroom to get changed. He didn’t have the will to take a shower, so he just peeled off the wet clothes and replaced them with dry ones.
When he returned, Takayama was still there, but he’d fallen asleep on the bed. “… Figures,” Ayato said softly, but at least Takayama wasn’t going to try anything drastic again tonight. Ayato took the towel off of the bed where it had been left, hanging it next to his clothes in the bathroom, hanging Takayama’s up as well. He pulled his extra blanket from the closet, putting it over the sleeping form on the bed, and sat on the floor again, pulling the book back into his lap to try and pick up where he’d left off, or more likely with the way his head was swimming, fall asleep himself in the process.