A/N: So… I saw a fanart, and then this little AkiraxNatsuno bug bit me. Oh dear. Guess I have to write something cute once in a while instead of things that are only explicit. Wrote in third-person, but tried to make the tone like what one would expect from Akira. Which is why there’s a bunch of Megumi hate, although I don’t particularly hate her myself. And it also explains my lack of variety with some of the adjectives.
Title so uninspired because I have lacked the ability to give decent titles lately.
And in Our Youth…
He remembered feeling slightly triumphant when Natsuno Yuuki moved to town and he met him for the first time. His sister always dominated dinnertime conversation, going on and on about the stupid Shimizu girl, a girl who even Akira could tell clearly despised Kaori. Yet Kaori worshipped her. But now he, too, had someone he could talk about endlessly, finally drowning out the chatter about Shimizu’s clothing, the music she liked, her plans for escaping to the city… And, unlike Shimizu, Natsuno was actually a cool person. Sure, he talked about wanting to go back to the city sometimes, too, but, well, he was from there, so he actually knew what it was like. Shimizu had no idea what she was talking about, no matter how much Kaori believed her.
He realized, of course, that there was an irony in his own endless talk about Natsuno over dinner… or, really, anything. Shimizu was doing exactly the same thing elsewhere, wherever she was. He felt a heightened sense of irritation at that – not that he and Shimizu both liked talking about Natsuno, but that Shimizu herself liked talking about him. And following him around. And looking in his bedroom window. Not that Akira himself was doing anything like that; he just happened to notice these things. If he was walking over to try to visit Natsuno, he was going to notice if that pink-haired terror was creeping around the house and crawling into the bushes, wasn’t he? How could a person not take notice of that?
Of course, Natsuno was usually busy… but he was doing schoolwork. He wanted to go to a good school. It wasn’t like when Kaori was trying to spend time with Shimizu, only to be cruelly shot down. Shimizu said she was busy when she was just doodling stick figures of herself and Natsuno. Natsuno said he was busy when he was going to work on his schoolwork. It was completely different.
But it would be nice if Natsuno wasn’t so busy… and maybe if he smiled at him sometimes, that would be nice, too… But, well, Akira could understand why Natsuno was upset. Who wouldn’t be moving to tiny little Sotoba from a big city? There was nothing to do here, and he’d probably left all his friends behind. If he was a bit cranky and cold sometimes, it was only to be expected. Shimizu was like that, and she didn’t even have a good reason! She’d always been in Sotoba! If she wanted to leave so badly, why didn’t she just study like Natsuno did? Or take some of the vocational classes at the high school? All she did was read her stupid magazines and mail-order stupid-looking clothes! She was probably just going to end up working in Sotoba and live there forever and grow old and get fat. At least Natsuno was actually trying to get out of there.
Akira wished he was older. College seemed a very long way away… and if Natsuno did get into a school in the city, then he’d leave. This didn’t sit very well with Akira; he didn’t really like the other kids in his own grade. He got along with them fine, they were just… boring. He never spent time with them, and they always seemed to be off doing something old, like fishing in the summertime or shoving each other when it got icy in the winter. And he loved his sister, but she was a bit boring, too; even if she wasn’t babbling about Shimizu, she didn’t seem to have much interesting to say. And, well, she was his sister. It wasn’t like he was going to hang around with her. Sometimes he wished he had a brother instead.
Invariably, now, whenever he thought of having an older brother, he pictured Natsuno. He really liked the idea, but he hadn’t told anyone about this. His classmates were stupid, his sister was… his sister, and he was too embarrassed to say anything to Natsuno about it.
He’d actually been feeling embarrassed a lot lately whenever he was around Natsuno. He felt critical of how he’d originally behaved when Natsuno first moved to Sotoba, of how he crowded so close to him and asked him lots of dumb questions and told him about everything, most of it very silly. It had been too exciting to get a new kid in town. But now he saw his behavior as being like that of a child – and he was just getting too old for that sort of thing.
So now he tried to act more like an adult when he was with Natsuno. Not that he was with him often, honestly. But, again, Natsuno was busy a lot, trying to do his best so he could go to a good school and get to leave Sotoba, so that was okay. But when he did get to spend time with him, Akira did his best to not say stupid things or talk endlessly or do anything else that was idiotic, like leaping up to touch low-hanging branches or jumping on people’s shadows. But, even so, he still had this lingering sense of embarrassment; after all, it just reminded him of how immature he had been before when he’d been around Natsuno. It would’ve been immature, too, to tell Natsuno that he wished he was his older brother, so he didn’t say anything about that, even though he kind of wanted to.
But he’d also begun to not want to tell him because… well. It was hard to explain. He was wondering if he did want him as a brother after all. Lately when he thought of the notion of having an older brother (in addition to Kaori, not to replace her, of course), he couldn’t really picture Natsuno that way. Thinking about it made him think of Natsuno, but he couldn’t quite make him fit into his wish for that any more. He felt funny about it. He still wanted to spend time with Natsuno a lot, but… he couldn’t really see him as a brother.
This bothered him. He didn’t really understand it, and so it nagged at him slightly. Along with the fact that his normal excited feeling about seeing Natsuno had recently been replaced with this strange sensation in his chest, a sudden fluttery nervousness and a desire to bolt so he wouldn’t look stupid – because his shirt was untucked, or his shoes looked scuffed, or his hair was a mess, because somehow there must be something that made him look like a little baby. And he didn’t want to look like a little baby in front of Natsuno. He wanted to look… good.
And there was that attempt at maturity. He was quieter now when in Natsuno’s presence, but he realized it wasn’t just that he didn’t want to say something dumb. There was that, yes, but there was this nervousness now that he hadn’t had before. He was afraid of Natsuno thinking he was stupid. And when he did speak, he could feel his face growing hot, worried that he was going to sound like an idiot.
He was also bothered by how he felt when he saw Natsuno with other people. Previously he hadn’t really taken much notice of this – if he saw Natsuno, he’d shout his name and dash over while waving, a big grin on his face. If there were others there, he didn’t really take much notice. There were others there, usually other high school students. So what? He was walking to or from school or something, big deal. Sometimes he went and studied with one of the other boys from his class. It was just the way it was.
But now he found himself hanging back when he saw Natsuno walking with others or talking to others. He felt a sense of unease at seeing this, a sort of jealousy of how Natsuno smiled at them (although he didn’t do that much) or of how he was speaking with them (of course, if it was just Shimizu talking at him, Akira just felt a smugness about it and relished walking up to intervene). He wasn’t happy with himself for it; it made him feel a bit down afterward, because he usually walked away without saying anything when he saw this. And he didn’t know why he was being so stupid, getting jealous of Natsuno’s random classmates complaining about teachers or asking how he thought he did on their math test. It wasn’t as if they were saying anything important to him. It was the same stuff he talked about with his classmates, and he didn’t even like them much.
These things unsettled Akira a bit. Yet, even as they did, he was sure he’d figure it out eventually. He probably just felt protective of him since Shimizu was such a creep and stalked him. It was perfectly acceptable for a person to get upset and worried about their friend when they knew someone was stalking them. And all those fluttery feelings and nervousness, he probably just didn’t want to bother Natsuno since he was stressed about schoolwork and Shimizu. So he was just nervous because he didn’t want to make him mad.
Akira looked up from the road. He’d been making his way home from school; he’d had cleaning duty, and had told Kaori to just go home ahead of him. He knew she’d probably make him a snack anyway, so it didn’t bother him to walk alone. It also had given him some time to think over things a bit; usually he only got to do that when he climbed in bed for the night, and he fell asleep pretty quickly even then.
He stopped suddenly, seeing Natsuno a little further down the road, his heart, unnervingly, skipping a beat. He swallowed, and made himself start walking again; Natsuno was turned away, watching the bus recede down the road, away from the dust and emptiness and toward the distant city. As he drew closer, he felt his mouth go dry, Natsuno still looking at the rapidly settling dust clouds.
Akira began to open his mouth, but before he could say anything, Natsuno had turned toward him. He looked a bit surprised at first, as if he, too, had been lost in his thoughts. But then a rare smile passed his lips, and he said, “Oh. Hi, Akira.”
And, in that moment, Akira suddenly understood Shimizu a whole lot better than he ever had before.