"Mhh," Matsumoto said with satisfaction as the door closed behind Kubota and Tokitoh. "So that's finished." He stood up and started shuffling the papers on his desk top.

            "Yes," Tachibana said equably behind him.

            Matsumoto's hands stopped. He put the papers down. Not finished, then. His mouth crooked.


            "Council President?"

Matsumoto let his breath out in annoyance. He was going to have to have a talk with his second...

And then. That. He could feel it beginning. A little tingling in his buttock as if a ray was being focused on it. Heat as if blood was rising to his face. The small noise of his desk chair being moved away. He looked down at the report on the desk. Tachibana's hands, heavy and warm, laid on his backside. Not kind at all, not in the feel and certainly not in the timing. The smell of Tachibana solid and heavy behind him. Tachibana's breath warm on his neck as he crowded Matsumoto against the desk. Talk? We'll talk later. He shoved his hips hard back against Tachibana's body and started to unfasten his belt. Tachibana took hold of his hands and held them still. Oh. So he was to be punished then? Well, fine. Let Tachibana do what he liked, get this obscure grudge out of his system. Then they'd talk.

            He relaxed, passive. Tachibana's hands let go of his wrists and moved down to the hardness now pushing painfully at his pants leg. Tachibana's hand rubbed over it, making it worse, making it unbearable. He whimpered, eyes closed, face screwed up. Get on with it, fool. Clever clever fingers, knowing just where to touch, just how to do it, and doing it, as an unanswerable object lesson to him on what was what. He groaned aloud. Pride was something he'd never needed with Tachibana. He sensed, vaguely through the other more immediate sensations, the satisfaction in the body behind him. Then Tachibana was undoing his belt thank God, and undoing his fly, and Matsumoto's cock sprang out free and aching into Tachibana's hand. The pressure he needed, yes, good, just there, right there. Yes, good, harder, good oh good. His head was swimming and his sight was going and then there was nothing but movement around the aching there, around it and around and--

            --squeezed closed shut hard as his head and his stomach and his cock exploded together. He heard his own choking noises ngghh nghh and felt himself jerking inside the prison of Tachibana's arms. Then he was leaning on both hands on the desk, panting and listening to the jarring thud of his heart. He drew a breath. Drew another and let it all out. Tachibana was somewhere behind him, wiping his hand clean on a tissue. Matsumoto swallowed hard and arched his hips for the next part.

            "Ahh, no thank you," Tachibana's smiling voice said. "Not today."

            Oh yes? Matsumoto rounded on him, saw the small flicker of startlement in his eyes as he grabbed Tachibana's arm. Pulled him close, into his arms and up against his body, and yes of course Tachibana was hard inside his pants. Matsumoto's mouth narrowed.

"That's enough," he said, council president Matsumoto laying down the law. He plucked Tachibana's glasses off and put them on the desk beside him. They stared at each other, Tachibana's beautiful long-lashed eyes huge and myopic three inches from his own.

Their mouths met and their arms went around each other. He kissed Tachibana and Tachibana kissed him back, like always. Almost like always. There was still resistance inside there somewhere, a shallow pool of resentment deep under the obliging surface.

            "This isn't like you," Matsumoto said into Tachibana's ear, mouth full of silky brown hair.

            "That wasn't like you either," Tachibana said.

            Goading Tokitoh like that. No, probably not.

            "He annoys me." He kissed Tachibana's ungiving mouth. "He's a brainless loud-mouthed asshole."

            "Kubota's brainless loud-mouthed asshole," Tachibana suggested.

            "Not really. He'd be annoying even if they weren't together. But yeah, it bugs me that Kubota wants to be with an asshole. It's Kubota I'm angry at, I suppose."


"Not as naturally as all that," he said, irked. "He deserves better than Tokitoh."

"You, of course," Tachibana agreed smiling.

After a minute Matsumoto said, "You really *are* out for blood. It bothers you that much, that you weren't the first?" He moved away from Tachibana and looked him straight in the eye. Tachibana looked back.

There was a long, long silence.

"I love you," Tachibana said at last, as if there was nothing else to say.

"I know." There really was nothing else to say. I love you. He'd said it himself, saidonce. Made himself say it as his final offering to Makoto, and seen with a sinking heart and the confirmation of defeat the rueful little smile that told him it didn't matter what he felt or how much he felt it, because Makoto didn't feel the same way back. 'Anh,''I know,' Makoto had said. 'Gomen, ne?''I'm sorry.' But Matsumoto wasn't going to say Gomen ne saying I'm sorry to Tachibana. "Go on doing it." He kissed him again. Pressed up hard against the hardness between Tachibana's legs, to remind him. "I like it."

"You know you don't," Tachibana said, with the odd catch that meant Matsumoto was getting to him.

"Enh. It's worth it. Look what I get in return."

"What do you get in return? Just for the record?"

Matsumoto loosed an exasperated breath. "You think it doesn't matter to me, having someone who'll tell the whole world he loves me?"

"Even if next minute I tell the whole world I'm screwing you?"

Matsumoto's mouth quirked, sardonic. "Your pound of flesh. Thought you'd got it out of your system that way. It wasn't your sweet nature I picked you for, after all."

"You picked me?" Tachibana asked in polite surprise.

"You thought it was the other way around?"

Tachibana looked at him, thoughtful. Wasn't it? his eyes said, and Matsumoto looked back at him, No.

"You're humoring me," Tachibana ventured.

"Are you always this stupid?" Matsumoto asked, with the detached interest and polite smile that made first-years pee their pants. "Or is today just a special demonstration for my benefit? Because I can think of an excellent way to show you how I feel about you, and I don't think you'd care for it at all."

"No," Tachibana smiled, all sunny sweet reason again, "I don't think I would."

Then stop being such an asshole.

Tachibana kissed him then, very unasshole. Matsumoto let himself relax. He nestled up against Tachibana and kissed him back. Those occasions- those rare but necessary occasions- when they gave a glimpse of the steel under the velvet and struck sparks from each other. Exciting, to risk losing everything they had like that; and reassuring to know that both of them would stop before it happened.

Because he'd never known with Makoto. Makoto wasn't the kind to stop before things went too far. Hadn't stopped, though now Matsumoto was ready to concede that maybe, just maybe, Makoto really hadn't realized what he was doing. Certainly-- certainly he let Matsumoto yank his leash now, sort of, now and then-- And if that wasn't Makoto's notion of making it up to him what was it?

Tachibana was undoing the buttons of Matsumoto's high-collared jacket, then the shirt underneath, laying his throat bare. Put his mouth there, nibbling at him gently. And that was Tachibana's form of apology, and a lot easier to live with. Satisfied, Matsumoto dug his fingers into the thick brown hair under his nose, smelling the clean shampoo smell of it. Remembered as if from long ago the sour cigarette smell of Makoto before the memory went. Tachibana's mouth was sucking harder at his skin, almost to the point of pain.

            "Enh," he said, "gym tomorrow."

            "Mnh," Tachibana said, and eased up. Kissed his mouth instead, with his tongue inside. Matsumoto pressed hard against Tachibana's body and rubbed his hip across Tachibana's erection. 

            "Mnh-" Tachibana said again, different this time. Matsumoto unzipped his fly for him, no-more-nonsense, and got him in his hands. Kissed him again, squeezing him hard below, and felt the flush in Tachibana's face. Saw that Tachibana was sweating. Reached blindly with his other hand for the drawer handle, yanked it open and fumbled for the cream inside. He started to turn around. Tachibana let him go and took the tube out of his hand. Matsumoto bent over, forearms on the desk top and his face on top of them. Just a little tension in his chest. The pricetag. He'd decided long ago that the price was worth paying. Tachibana's fingers came gently inside him, covered heavily in cream. Like that first time...

            "Seme?" Eyebrow raised at Tachibana's pleasant smile. Ohtto... just who do you think you are, Tachibana?


            "Suppose I feel like being top?"

            Still smiling, not giving an inch. "I'm sorry."

Non-negotiable, take it or leave it. Tachibana's sticking point, the line he wouldn't- or couldn't, maybe?- cross over.

            He thought about it. Not what it would be like for him, but what it said about Tachibana. A limitation? A failure of imagination? He had no use for small people. Tachibana had never struck him as small. But the most unexpected people had their limitations, as he'd just learned. And frankly he was out of patience with other people's limits. Being alone was preferable.

            On the other hand... They'd been necking for maybe fifteen minutes and were half undressed by now, and more than ready for the next part.

            "OK." See what happens. One chance, Tachibana, but you already have two strikes against you. You're not him, and you're talking like him.

            "Here," Tachibana said politely, a hand on his waist suggesting that he turn around. Matsumoto did. Put his forearms down on the vaulting horse he'd been leaning back against and waited to see how much Tachibana knew. **If he's too picky to put it in himself, I'm leaving. And if he tries it without lube I'll break his nose before I go.** Tachibana's fingers were on his buttocks, gently pulling them apart. A faint apprehension ran up Matsumoto's spine. He took a breath, ignored the tension, waited for Tachibana's hands to move inside. An odd pause. And then--- His eyes flew wide open and he gasped- What- what was- God- wetwarm around the back of his balls stroking across them nuzzle nuzzle one side then the other Jeez God he was bouncing on his feet making little gasping noises god what was Tachibana **DOing** wetwarm and thick came sliding up between his cheeks and his breath came out nhhh nhh like the whistle of a steam kettle. He fell forward on his belly across the thick leather of the horse and wetwarmthick-and-pointed licked right across his **asshole** dear god oh god ANhhHHANhhHH ANHhhhh his face was burning red-- touched him where he couldn't stand being touched and his mouth was wide open screaming noiselessly and poked RIGHT INSIDE him **RIGHT**in**SIDE** and something terribly bright exploded right in front of his eyes and his cock below went off too and he kind of...

            disappeared for a bit.

            'Are you alright?' Tachibana's gentle voice.

            'Anhh. Anhh. Anhh.' He couldn't think of anything to say. Anhh said it all.

            'Council secretary--?"

            'Anhh.' He collapsed, boneless, resting on the vaulting horse. 'OK. OK.' A deep breath. 'Go on.' Jeez. God. Seme, you wanna be seme you can be seme, yeah, seme, any time... Limitations. Did I say limitations? Hanh. Shows what I know.

            'Mmhh,' Tachibana said lovingly behind him. A little pause. Greasy fingers between his cheeks. One sliding in. Another. Stretchy. Tachibana's hard cockhard cock brushing the back of his own leg. Going to hurt...? Fingers turned a little inside him. Stretchy, yeah, going to hurt...? Slipped out. He took a deep breath as Tachibana's warmth came near....


            ...he took a deep breath as Tachibana's warmth came near and let it all out as Tachibana's hardness began pushing into him. Gentle as he was, it hurt. It would probably always hurt. And it was worth it, even this, if it meant having Tachibana for for himself alone.himself alone. To have Tachibana always behind him through the day's routines, solid and silent and there. To feel Tachibana's casual hand on his shoulder from time to time. To reach up and touch those warm fingers and have the sense of the world tucked safe and secure in the palm of his hand. He thought of that, and only that, as the small burning of Tachibana rubbed back and forth and went on and on--

Worth it, to have a centre to his universe again and the feeling of moving forward on solid ground. There'd been a time before, his time with Makoto, when it had all been... floating. Nothing fixed and pinned down, nothing to hold on to. What mattered was doing what you wanted from moment to moment, and finding a way round the petty rules and petty people that would have stopped you. There'd been no black, no white, no certainty. No promises, no ties, no guarantees. It was exhilarating, the free-fall that was the world Makoto lived in. He'd liked it. A part of himself was at home there.

But the time had come when he knew he couldn't go on with it, because the price tag was too high. The person he was with Makoto was beginning to think that people really were... random particles floating through time and space, leaving no trace behind them. That it made no difference ultimately, what he did or didn't do. And he knew that wasn't true. He knew he could affect those random particles if he chose to. Make people do things, make people want to work with him and with each other, make things getget done. Accomplishment- that was what living was about. And a part of him was dying now as he sat playing video games with Makoto and watching the world go by.

So he'd pulled up and started being him again. Gone after the things he wanted, like the second year seat on the student council, and tried to make Makoto come with him. And Makoto wouldn't. Makoto had only smiled his little smile that said I'm sorry, that smile like a wall. What mattered to Matsumoto didn't matter to him. MakotoMakoto was sorry about that but he didn't want todidn't want to change it and he wasn't even goingeven going to try.

He hadn't wanted to believe it. It didn't seem possible- it didn't seem right, because they were best friends and more than best friends and that ought to have meant something- but in the end he'd finally seen it. It was like cold water in the face. He would never be able to get Makoto to do anything. Makoto was beyond his influence, or anybody's influence,or anybody'sinfluence, because nothing mattered to him. Accomplishment, power, Matsumoto himself- they simply didn't matter to him. Theymatter to him and they never had. The realization gave him a feeling of vertigo, like looking down a cliff into black nothingness. Almost he'd been afraid. And been afraid too that Makoto guessed what he felt, because Makoto had a terrifying way of knowing what went on in people's heads, himself included.

It was just then that Tachibana had started paying court to him, quietly and politely but with a determination that was, at that moment, a relief. He guessed now that Tachibana had been biding his time, waiting for his chance. Tachibana was one who'd wait forever if it was something he wanted badly enough. Quiet as Makoto but with that settled solid certainty to him. Something you could lean your weight on without fear. Something inside you could grab and hold on to.Tachibana wanted what he wanted and was very clear about what that was. Was ready to give without limit, but equally expected to be given something back. This. Matsumoto bit his lower lip. The discomfort was getting over the line into pain. He didn't mind that it did. It was proof, to himself and to Makoto and to the universe, that Tachibana mattered.

Tachibana was sucking air through his lips, breath short and sharp as the movements of his body. Soon now, very soon- and then Tachibana's fingers dug fiercely into his skin as Tachibana went rigid behind him. Over. Finally. Matsumoto swallowed whatever was clogging his nose, snot or tears or whatever it was, and relaxed.

Tachibana had the tissues and was cleaning him up, back there, delicately and gently, knowing it still hurt him. Didn't matter if it did. Having Tachibana do this for him, all these personal little services, always gave him a satisfaction that bordered on triumph. Somehow it made Tachibana seem closer than even letting Tachibana inside him.

"Something funny?"

"No." He pulled his pants up and got himself straightened out. Looked at Tachibana putting his glasses back on. Little smile as ever, wavy brown-blond hair as ever, that lovely face- as ever. Tachibana turned his head to meet Matsumoto's eyes, and then they were kissing again, holding each other just a little longer because it was too lonesome being apart after what they'd just done.

"Better not go too far," he said after a minute, pulling away. They had to leave soon- the gates would be closing...

"Mnh," Tachibana agreed. They held each other a bit more. "You look like the cat who swallowed the canary," TachibanaTachibana said after a minute.

"Do I? Hmm." It was true, he couldn't stop smiling with that silent inner satisfaction. "So do you." He did. Not as obviously, but behind the thick lenses of his glasses there was a secret spark down deep on his eyes.

"I've got my reasons," Tachibana said.

"Umm. So do I." They kissed, briefly. "So?" heMatsumoto said. "Still jealous?"

"Yes," Tachibana answeredanswered promptly. "I want all of you."

"No you don't. You'd get Kubota thrown in as well."


"We're alike- no, not completely-" he forestalled Tachibana's automatic protest. "But enough. Halves of a whole. He's the me I had to let go of. I'm the him he refuses to be."

 "Mnhh," Tachibana said, nodding as he considered this . "That's what made you such an unbeatable combi in middle school."

"But we aren't good for each other. I suppose he feelshe feels the same way I doI do about it," Matsumoto said, thinking aloud. "The way he looked at me when we had him into the office-- 'I can't be that and still be me.' A little regret and a lot of shou ga nai. It's what keeps us tied, even now. But you wouldn't want the Kubota me. He's a bore."

"No, I don't suppose I would. Would you want the Kubota who's you?"

Matsumoto blinked.

"No," he said after a minute, "I don't think so." He thought some more. "I think the idea... scares me, a little." That vast indifference- that cold-eyed separateness- if it ever chose to act... "God knows what he'd do. There'd be nothing stopping him."

"Umm-hmm," Tachibana nodded again, evidently thinking the same thing. "So be grateful he's with an asshole."


"Because Tokitoh's not like you. He's honest--"

"Go to hell."

"And innocent, and transparent as glass, and Kubota would cut off his right arm before he'd ever hurt him."

Matsumoto's shoulders were up around his ears. He made them go down. Hearing unpalatable truths from Tachibana was nothing new. That was what Tachibana was there for. One of the things.

"Your minds work too much alike," Tachibana was saying. "You don't get inside someone like Kubota if you think like him. You'd go knocking at his front door and he'd keep the bolt fastened across it. But someone like Tokitoh- he'd slide down the chimney and be there in the living room before Kubota knew what was happening."

Matsumoto snorted, amused and unwilling. "Trust you," he said. "You keep an eye on everyone?"

"Mm-hmm. Part of my job. And I do have a vested interest in knowing how Kubota works."

"Baka." Matsumoto reached over and kissed him again. And kissed him some more. "This is no good," he said at last. "Come home with me. We'll tell Mom we're studying together for next week's exams."

"Certainly, Council President."president."



April- August 2002