All rights to the anime and manga 'Here is Greenwood' belong to Yuki Nasu/Hakusensha Inc./Victor Entertainment and associated parties; the English version copyright is held by Software Sculptors Ltd. All characters and plotlines from 'Here is Greenwood' belong to their respective creators and are used without permission for entertainmet purposes. All original characters and plotlines not claimed by the previously mentioned parties are the property of and are copyrighted by Lady Koneko. This is a non-profit story by fans for fans. Thank you.

Belonging

"I heard about him, you know."

"Gangs," a second person whispered knowingly.

"He took out five people by himself, unarmed!"

"Priest's son or not, he scares me."

"A priest's son? I heard he was adopted..."

+

Ikeda Mitsuru dropped his bag on the ground. Here he was, his new home. No, he shook his head, a slight self-mocking smile twisting his lips. This was the place where he would be staying for now. He didn't have a home. A brief image of the Ikeda family flashed across his vision. Her loving and understanding smile as he told them he wanted to live in the dorm. His nod of acceptance when he told him about his high school plans. The look of sadness on -their- son's face... No, that was behind him. He didn't belong there, with them. No, he was to be alone, no family, like fate meant for him to be.

+

"It is shameful to think that the family rests on the shoulders of a third child."

"Well, when you consider the other two..."

A head shakes. "I feel sorry for her, you know, with a husband like that. She is like a ghost in that house."

"And the children. The eldest broke her heart, her daughter is a psychopath, and the youngest..."

"Yes, so cold. One would think that the koorime switched her child with an ice creature of some sort when he was born."

"Between him and the girl, he scares me the most..."

+

Tezuka Shinobu studied his new home; an old three-story building that was the dorm for Ryokuto Academy, one of the best schools in Japan. He sighed, his dark green eyes cold. It had taken no real effort to convince his father to send him here. The draw wasn't the prestige of the school, however. It was the fact that he was a good distance from his family. He could be...him. Not the prodigal son. Not the perfect child. He would no longer have to try to belong with them. It was time for a new start.

+

He had been here for two months now. Things were easier here than at home. No one knew about him, and he was going to keep it that way. No one gave him too-strange-a-look when he walked past them in the hall; no one cringed from him if he looked at them from across the classroom. No pressure to succeed at everything, no need to watch his back from malicious attacks. He was...happy? Content?

Well, upon consideration, not quite. Something was missing. Something... important. He had no idea what it was, could not quite place his finger on it, but it was something he needed. Once he found out what that was, everything would be complete.

A sudden burst of preteen giggling broke Shinobu out of his revere and he glanced around. Behind Greenwood there was a sizable park. As the dorm didn't have much in the way of yard surrounding it, he often wandered here to find some peace away from the mad rush of humanity at the dorm. Space was the one thing he did miss from home. He was currently sitting under a tree in one of the more wooded areas of the park, and in all the time he had been coming here, he could not recall a group of adolescent girls romping the area. Which was one of the reasons he had been coming here.

But there they were. Five of them, from the local junior high school, if he was correct. Tromping through the long grass, their high-pitched giggles breaking the peaceful silence that had been keeping him company. They cast fugitive looks around, looking for someone obviously, then scurried off out of view. Shaking his head, Shinobu leaned back against the tree, closing his eyes.

A soft scraping of a shoe against the ground several feet behind him caught his attention. He focused, and then a faint smile, so small that it was almost unnoticeable, twitched across his lips.

"Good afternoon Ikeda. Out for a walk?"

"Kyaa!" Mitsuru nearly fell over in his surprise. He spun around. There, sitting calmly against a tree, facing -away- from him was his roommate.

<What is he doing here?> he thought frantically. Here he was, dodging girls, again, and who does he runs across? His roommate. And in the woods! Tezuka was so calm, so put together, so civilized, the idea of him anywhere near nature seemed like an aberration of nature herself. "Uh yeah, a walk," he sputtered out. After a quick look to reassure himself that the girls had not found him, he approached. Once he got near, he felt a finger of ice run down his back. Shinobu's eyes were closed. He had a bad feeling they had been the entire time. "What are you doing out here?"

Shinobu opened his eyes, dark-green eyes that calmly locked with a still-startled pair of amethyst purple. "Relaxing. It is occasionally noisy at the dorm."

Occasionally? Mitsuru's eyebrows jumped. The dorm housed two hundred teenage boys. Occasionally noisy was an incredible understatement. A faint tendril of a voice reached them. Then a second voice, drawing closer. Then came the sound of a pitched giggle.

"Well," Mitsuru gave his roommate a casual look that belied his urgency, "I should go back. I have homework waiting. Ja."

Shinobu watched with great interest as Mitsuru quietly hurried off, successfully managing to avoid the girls who were hunting him.

"Now that; that was interesting." For once it seemed; he had caught Ikeda unawares. That exterior of street boy toughness and his brash attitude that so characterized Ikeda had disappeared, leaving a sweet aura of innocent vulnerability in its place. It seemed that Ikeda had been quite rattled by the girls' attention, and he did recall overhearing several times how girls were drawn to him like bees to honey. Girls often wandered toward him as well, but he had discovered that a soft-but-cool smile and a few polite words worked better as a deterrent than running away. That only made them even more determined.

Shinobu pulled his legs up and rested his head on his knees, staring at nothing. He had suspected that there was more to Ikeda than what he showed, everyone kept a part of themselves hidden from others, but it seemed that Ikeda had a whole different persona than what he displayed. As though he was trying to be different from his real self. And he had just seen behind that which he hid behind. A quick glimpse, but it was enough to rouse his curiosity. And he had noticed something else.

Ikeda, without his mask, with the sternness gone from his face and the hardness out of his eyes, was cute.

+

Mitsuru carefully re-folded the letter and placed it back in the envelope. He just did not understand them. Why? Why did they still care for him? After all these years, he still did not know.

Fifteen years ago the Ikeda family took him in and raised him as their own, as their beloved elder son. As far as they were concerned, the moment he had been left outside the temple he had become theirs. This was beyond his understanding.

How could they accept him so easily, love him unconditionally, when his own blood could not? They hadn't wanted him, so why would anyone else? This was why he was at Greenwood. He had to learn to be on his own, he could no longer in clear consciousness be a burden on the Ikeda family. He would do well in school, get a good job and pay back the Ikeda family for their kindness in raising him.

The doorknob softly turned, the noise of the latch opening loud in the quiet room. Mitsuru quickly composed himself, placing his cold cloak of indifference around his shoulders once again.

The door swung open and Tezuka walked in. He closed the door just as quietly and turned to Mitsuru. His calm eyes quickly flickered over his roommate, and a soft gleam momentarily showed in his eyes. Then his eyes fell to the envelope that Mitsuru still held.

"A letter from home?" he asked, a soft thread of curiosity coloring the casual-seeming question.

"Yes." Mitsuru turned away and slid open a drawer on his desk. He sat the envelope on a small pile of envelopes, all with the same handwriting on them, and slid the drawer shut.

While Mitsuru was so occupied, Shinobu gave him a narrow-eyed look. He always acted like that when he received a letter from home. As though something in them caused him great pain. Since the week before, when Ikeda had encountered him in the park, he had been carefully watching his roommate. Carefully, as he did not want Ikeda to notice his interest and withdraw further behind his mask. And he came to a realization. Ikeda was hiding himself, from himself and everyone around him. He did not want people to know him, to be close to him. And he did not want to know them.

He watched as Ikeda closed the drawer and turn back to him. "You have any mail?" he asked.

Shinobu softly smiled. "No, I received a letter a week ago. My family doesn't write often." Of which he was very glad. He had received one letter from Akiraniisan, from Yamaguchi of all places, commenting on how nice it was that he had managed to go to such a prestigious school. His father and mother had each written to him once, his father demanding that he not dishonor the Tezuka name, and his mother giving her wishes that all would be well with him. Nagisaneesan hadn't written, and was more than likely not going to. He was not upset.

"Ahhh." Mitsuru turned away, a bit uncomfortable by the conversation. By the fact that they seemed to be having a conversation at all, no matter how short a conversation it was. Tezuka was always so quiet! He could quite honestly say, that after two months, he knew no more about his roommate now than he had when they first met, and that was not saying much. He reached out and pulled out one of his school textbooks.

Shinobu resisted the urge to sigh. That went by rather quickly. And for some reason he was not happy about it. He silently went over to his desk by the window and sat. He slid around in his chair so he could watch Ikeda out of the corner of his eye without it being noticeable. His curiosity about his roommate had not abated one bit since the incident at the park. Shinobu turned away and glanced out of the window. There was something about him, something that drew him. And he was going to find out what that was.

+

Several days later after school Shinobu and Mitsuru were studying in the school library. They both had papers due in their world history classes at the end of the week. Shinobu was all but finished with his paper; Mitsuru had just started his.

Sighing, Mitsuru looked at the small collection of books that had gathered before him on the table. Three days until his paper was due, and he had just started his research. Why did he always wait until the last moment to do his homework?

Out of the corner of his eye he saw a familiar silvery head move through the shelves back toward the computers. Tezuka. Probably working on his paper as well. No concern of his actually, he didn't even know why he was thinking about it. With a short sigh he returned to his paper.

On the other side of the room Shinobu sat at one of the computers. He accessed the main menu and then quickly typed in the security password that he had 'acquired'. Once he was in the mainframe, he quickly accessed the student files. From there it was no problem to gain access to Ikeda's records.

<Hmmm> Shinobu scanned through Ikeda's personal information. <Raised at the Kohryu Temple in Uguisudani... I already knew that. School records... Lets see... Good student... Doesn't cause trouble... ah, now what is this?> He quickly clicked over to a secondary file. <He has gotten into several fights during junior high school. The counselor speculated that he might be involved in gangs but no evidence either way. Interesting.> He returned to the main file. <Now for his family background... he was adopted??? Abandoned outside the temple?> A small frown appeared, and grew more prominent as he read further about Ikeda's family life. <I see...> A calm look of understanding replaced the frown as he backed out of the student files and then exited the mainframe. <This explains a lot...> Shinobu sat back in his chair and began to think.

Mitsuru's mind was fried. But he had finished taking all the notes he needed for his paper. He shoved all of his notes into his school bag and stood up. With a relived sigh, he gathered the books into a stack and began to replace them on the shelves.

Shinobu had still been thinking, having lost track of the time, when he felt a familiar presence behind him. He turned and watched Ikeda shelve the books he had been using. By the time Ikeda had shelved the last book, Shinobu had come to a decision. He picked up his book bag and got to his feet.

With the last book placed where it belonged, Mitsuru could now leave. Now all he had to do on his paper was stretch his notes far enough to come up with fifteen pages, single space typed, on the importance of the Greek Civilization and its lasting influences on Western Civilization in a night long marathon writing session, and it would be done.

"Finished studying?"

Mitsuru's heart leaped in his chest at the sound of a familiar voice coming out of nowhere. He spun around, and there was Tezuka, leaning against a bookshelf six feet away and watching him with a placid smile on his face. <One of these days I am going to figure out how he does that.> He was -not- used to being snuck up on, and Tezuka seemed to come up on people unawares much too easily. "Uh, yeah." Not the most graceful of replies, but a reply nether-the-less. And it was a lot better than gaping at Tezuka with a stupid look on his face. Now, Mitsuru speculated, Tezuka would smile at him, calmly nod his head, say how nice that was or something along that line, and -leave-. Instead he got a surprise.

"So am I," Tezuka said calmly, the smile still firmly in place. "Are you heading back to Greenwood now?"

Dumbly Mitsuru nodded, not sure where this was leading.

"I am as well. Do you mind if I accompany you?" Tezuka asked, now ~smiling~ at him. Not his pleasant-but-distant smile he normally wore, definitely not his socially polite smile he used in most conversations, but a smile that would be described most accurately as a kitten-cute smile. Eyes closed, a sweet curve of the lips, and radiating cuteness and charm. One could almost see little silver cat-ears perched on his head. It was downright scary.

Mitsuru near freaked. Had he wandered into the Twilight Zone unawares? Who the heck was this?!? And what had he done with his roommate?

"No, not at all," he blurted out. He had to say something, and he couldn't get his tongue to wrap around a simple 'No'. Not while Tezuka was ~smiling~ at him like that. For some reason, he felt his heart begin to beat faster in his chest. That unrattled him even more. Abruptly he turned, not able to face Tezuka anymore. "Let's go," he growled, irritated at himself and at Tezuka for not acting as he normally did. Without waiting to see if Tezuka was coming, he marched away.

The ~cute~ smile faded from Shinobu's face, replaced by a look of satisfaction. A slight smile, more in the family of a smirk really, curled his lips. What a promising reaction that was. Confusion, irritation, and was that possibly a frisson of awareness on Ikeda's part? He pushed himself away from the shelves and followed. It would not do to let him get away now, not when he had finally figured everything out.

If Mitsuru had turned around at that moment, he would have seen the most interesting look in Shinobu's eyes...

+

The next few weeks went by peacefully. Shinobu patently continued with his plan, spending more time with Ikeda, holding conversations with him, and just confusing the daylights out of him. The end result was what mattered to Shinobu. Mitsuru was dropping his guard, little by little, and was letting Shinobu draw him out of the shell he wore around himself. Shinobu had gotten Mitsuru so messed up that he hadn't even realized what was going on, not until he accidentally overheard a conversation between several other students in the dorm.

Mitsuru had been getting ready for the baths and had been about ready to open the sliding doors, when he heard his name spoken. On a whim, he had paused.

"Friendlier? Ikeda? Yes, I have noticed."

"Actually, I am kind of glad," a second voice added. "I was kinda worried that those rumors were true after all. Looks like that is all that they were."

"Tell me about it," a third voice came into the conversation. "Have you seen him practice before? Second dan, I swear. If he was involved in gangs like they said... " the voice faded off, but it was easy for Mitsuru to picture the look on the other teenager's face.

"Exactly. But he is so much looser now, more open. He is not nearly as threatening as he used to be. I guess it takes some people longer to adjust to dorm life than others..."

Mitsuru slowly stepped away from the door. There was no way he could go in there now. With rushed, jerky movements he put his cloths back on and left the room. Once in the hall he was unsure as to where to go. He just started walking.

To his great surprise, he found himself back in his room several minutes later, with no memory of how he had come to be there. "Something the matter Ikeda?" a voice softly asked. Mitsuru slowly turned. Sitting at his desk was Tezuka, an unusual look of concern on his face.

"I... " he paused. He blinked and closed his mouth. He had no idea what to say.

Shinobu's eyes narrowed. Something had happened. Ikeda looked like he was in shock. He stood up and went to him. "What happened?" he demanded in a whisper-soft voice. If someone had done this to Ikeda on purpose, they would be hearing from him.

So out of it as he was, Mitsuru completely missed the menace behind the words. "I... " Mitsuru looked at Tezuka, standing a few feet away, as though he had just noticed that he was present. "Nothing happened. Nothing at all." Tezuka, Mitsuru noticed, did not look convinced.

"You went to the baths, and yet you are here. What occurred?"

Mitsuru looked at his roommate closely. Now that wasn't a look he had ever seen on Tezuka before. He looked... wait-a-moment... concerned? Worried? As though he cared about what happened? The conversation he had overheard minutes earlier flashed through his mind. Wheels finally started to move in his mind, and he quickly correlated that with how he had been acting lately, and who was responsible for it.

"Why are you asking me?" he asked coldly, his mask firmly in place, stepping back a pace and giving Tezuka a searching look. "What does it matter?"

Mitsuru watched as Tezuka's eyes narrowed slightly, the only outward sign he chose to show. A shiver worked down his back at the sudden cold look in those green eyes. He returned the look, refusing to back down. Frosty green versus tempered amethyst.

Time stood still. After an eternal-seeming moment, a soft warmth that Mitsuru had never seen before replaced the coldness in Tezuka's eyes. He smiled. "It matters," he said softly.

Mitsuru was frozen in place by those two simple words. As he watched, much like a deer in a spotlight, Tezuka came to stand right before him. Tezuka paused; looking him straight in the eye before he calmly stepped around Mitsuru and exited the room.

Mitsuru did nothing.

+

" 'It matters.' " Mitsuru couldn't get that simple two-word sentence out of his mind. Days passed, and summer break loomed on the horizon.

" 'It matters.' " Why did he say that? And that look right after, what did that mean? Could he... care for him? Why? Why would someone like Tezuka bother himself with -him-?

During his speculations, Mitsuru adroitly avoided thinking about why it mattered so much to him, Tezuka's attention. Why he wanted it, why he could not accept it.

+

Summer break. Shinobu had carefully weighed his options. He could go home and spend his break with his family, or he could stay here in Tokyo, in the dorm, with a dozen other students and Ikeda. It wasn't a hard decision to make.

He wandered down to the cafeteria for dinner. It wasn't nearly as full as it usually was. A good quarter of the students had left for home already. The others, most who lived a goodly distance away, were leaving the next day. Shinobu gathered his tray and sat at an empty table. He didn't feel like keeping company right now, preferring to keep company with his thoughts. The other students seemed to pick up on his mood, and all avoided the table.

Mitsuru picked up his tray and looked around the cafeteria. Where to sit? Due to the mass exodus of students heading home, there were plenty of places. As his eyes scanned the room, a familiar silvery head caught his attention. He was becoming a bit concerned with how often he scanned a room to see if Tezuka was present. At the moment he was sitting alone, calmly eating his diner.

"Come on Ikeda, you are blocking traffic."

Startled, Mitsuru stepped out of Tanaka's way. With a weary shake of his head the other student walked past him and over to a nearby table. He sat his tray down, and then, as though an afterthought, he turned back to Mitsuru. "Ikeda, want to sit with us?"

An invitation. Mitsuru looked at Tanaka and his friends, all who gave him a welcoming smile. Then he shook his head. "Thanks, but no." He smiled and motioned with his head. "I was going to sit with Tezuka."

Tanaka smiled back, no hard feelings, and sat, turning his attention to the others already seated. Mitsuru stared at them; a half-smile on his face, then shook his head. For no particular reason, he felt happy. Deciding he would investigate that later, he turned and started to walk.

"Hi," Shinobu looked up. So preoccupied he was with his thoughts that he hadn't noticed Ikeda's approach. Ikeda had placed his tray on the table and was sitting across from him.

"Hello." Curiously Shinobu watched as Ikeda attacked his dinner with his usual enthusiasm. Since that incident in their room he had noticed a withdrawal on Ikeda's part. From him, only from him. He had continued to open up to the other students. Shinobu had let him have his way. Whatever was going on in Ikeda's mind, he had to deal with it himself. There was nothing that he could do but wait. Patience was a golden virtue, and one that he was well versed in. He also believed in the quote 'All things come to those who wait'. So he waited. And now here was Ikeda, sitting at the same table as he was, of his own violation.

"I hear that you are staying the summer? Any particular reason why?"

Oh, so that was it. Shinobu had known that Ikeda was one of the people who had filled out summer-stay forms weeks ago. It looked as if Ikeda had found out that he had filled out one as well.

Shinobu quickly thought. How could he turn this to his advantage? He -knew- what he wanted, did Ikeda? "My family and I... are not particularly close." Shinobu told Ikeda, giving him a piece of information that he hadn't told anyone before. Of course it was a major understatement, but then would he have believed the truth? "Staying in the dorm for the summer is preferable to spending the summer at home." There, now how would he take that?

"Oh," Mitsuru looked down at his food for a moment. For some reason, the idea that someone as perfect as Tezuka had family problems had never occurred to him.

"And you?"

It took Mitsuru a moment to figure out what Tezuka was talking about. Then he realized that Tezuka must know that he was staying over for summer break as well. He glanced across the table. Tezuka had returned to eating his dinner, as though the question wasn't important, without realizing what it did to him.

He had no idea that Shinobu knew exactly what he was doing when he asked that question. That it was a test of sorts. Shinobu had given him a piece of himself, that he and his family were not close. Would Mitsuru do the same?

"I... " <How does he do this?> Mitsuru silently asked himself. <How does he always know which questions to ask, to find the things that hurt the most?> A burning tightness gripped his chest. He had to give an answer. He knew that Tezuka was expecting one, whether he looked it or not. But what to say to him?

He blinked his eyes, and realized that Tezuka had looked up at him. "Same as you, family. I don't really belong with them, so I am staying here for the summer." Tezuka blinked. "I need to be by myself for a while, away from them."

"I see." Shinobu calmly took a drink of his tea. It had worked. Lips curled into a satisfied smile as Shinobu took another sip of his tea. And now he would have the entire summer with him...

"Oi! Ikeda-kun!"

The smile disappeared as Furusawa-senpai approached. The dorm head came around the table and stood next to Ikeda.

"Ikeda-kun, do you have a moment?"

" . . . . . . . . " Mitsuru looked over at Tezuka. He had sat his cup down, his -polite- smile in place.

"Please excuse me." Shinobu stood up, picking up his empty tray as he did so. He inclined his head to the other two students."Furusawa-senpai, Ikeda." Then he turned away from them and left.

Furusawa shook his head as he watched the younger man's exit. There went someone who was not an easy person to get to know. He had a feeling though, he glanced over at Ikeda, who had also followed Tezuka's progress, that that may change some in the future.

Mitsuru watched silently as Tezuka placed his tray with a stack of trays waiting to be washed and then leave the cafeteria. For some reason that he couldn't place his finger on, Tezuka's display bothered him.

"Ikeda-kun?" Mitsuru looked over at Furusawa-senpai. "Do you have a moment to talk?"

+

"You have to be kidding!" Mitsuru gave Furusawa-senpai an incredulous look. "Me? Dorm head?"

Furusawa nodded his head, wisps of hair brushing across his forehead. "Yes. You. Dorm head." An amused smile came to him. "I have had my eye on you since you first showed up. I saw that you had potential. Now that you have settled in, I can see all the traits in you that a dorm head requires."

"But... Me?" Mitsuru was still in shock. Him? The dorm head for Greenwood next year? He didn't -want- that kind of responsibility. He most definitely did -not- want the entire dorm to depend on him. He just wanted to be left alone!

"I... " he shook his head. "No, I cannot accept that kind of responsibility. It's not something that I am ready for. Sorry." Bowing down, Mitsuru quickly made his escape, leaving a very puzzled looking Furusawa behind him.

+

Shinobu woke the next morning with a sense of peace around him. It was rather late by his standards, nearly ten o'clock, and the dorm was quiet. Everyone who was leaving today was either finishing their packing, or on their way home at this very moment. A serene smile settled across his face. He was looking forward to a month of nothing but peace and quiet. And with the added benefit of no Nagisaneesan to mar it like she usually did. There were the other fourteen students who were staying, but considering what Greenwood was usually like... their presence would not bother him overtly much.

<And with Ikeda here...> He indulged himself. The serene smile changed to one a bit more sensuous, and a slight gleam appeared in his half-opened eyes. Oh yes, he was going to have a ~fine~ summer.

+

Mitsuru finished off his third helping of breakfast. It was getting quite late and the cafeteria was getting ready to close (which was why he had managed to get a third helping) and Tezuka had yet to show. He was beginning to wonder why.

Tezuka was one of those obscenely early risers. Up with the dawn it always seemed to him and happy about it as well. He shuddered. His own views of getting up early were not nearly as cheerful, and defiantly not to be aired in mixed company. He was not a morning person. He watched as a second year student rushed up and grabbed a plate just in time, but still no sign of Tezuka. Sighing to himself, and feeling a bit disappointed for some strange reason he didn't want to think about, he ate the last of his rice and stood up. First day of summer break... now what to do? He dumped off his tray and wandered out into the hallway. He could always do his homework; he had two assignments due when classes started. It would be a change not having the threat of homework looming over him. Or he could do... well, anything else. He started up the stairs. Anything else sounded much better than doing his homework. Now what to do...

"Ohayo Ikeda."

"Eh?" Mitsuru's head jerked up. He had not been paying attention to what was going on around him. Standing several feet ahead of him, at the top of the stairs, was Tezuka. He looked like he normally did, all calm, cool and composed. There was a small smile playing across his lips and in his eyes, however, and that caused Mitsuru to give him a second, more cautious look.

Shinobu tilted his head fractionally to one side and arched an eyebrow quizzically, as he noticed Ikeda's sudden scrutiny. He couldn't completely hide his amusement as Ikeda's expression took on a suspicious cast. "Is there something wrong?"

Mitsuru was now eyeing Tezuka warily. The last time he had seen his roommate in ~anything~ similar to this mood was at the library that one time. And how he had reacted still bothered him. He had no idea how to act, which had been his problem last time as well. Tongue-tied, Mitsuru slowly shook his head.

Shinobu nodded lightly, and started down the stairs. "That is good to hear, the way you were staring, I was beginning to wonder." He momentarily paused as he came to the step that Ikeda was standing on, glancing at his roommate out of the corner of his eye. Definitely uncomfortable, and was that a slight tinge of pink flying across his cheeks? Shinobu continued down the stairs, easily hiding a smile. "I assume breakfast is over."

"H-hai,"

"Ah. I am going out, I shall see you later then."

Mitsuru watched as Shinobu disappeared down the hallway. He swallowed, his throat feeling a bit restricted and his heart beating faster than normal. What had that been about? Shakily he continued to his room. For some reason, he wasn't feeling quite well. His nerves were all a quiver, and he felt a little light-headed. Maybe he was coming down with a cold. He continued to his room.

+

Mitsuru found a nice private area in the park, hidden by bushes so stray young girls on the prowl wouldn't bother him, and lay down under a tree. He could not take staying in the dorm another minute.

<I am going crazy,> he thought as he looked up at the leaves above him. They danced softly in the light breeze, and glimmers of golden sunshine reflected off of them. So peaceful... he closed his eyes and centered himself. What was he going to do? Things were not going as he had planned, he could not have foreseen this in a million years, and he had no idea why it was happening. Going crazy was the only logical explanation.

Well... maybe not logical, but what else could he think? Things had changed, irrevocably changed, with him, and with Tezuka.

When he had gone to his room that day, after that scene on the stairs, he had started to think. He had looked back on how Tezuka had been acting these last few months, and how he had just acted. At that time, he still didn't understand what was going on. Why had Tezuka gone to all that trouble to draw him out? Why was he acting like he was? Finally, as a last ditch attempt for understanding, he had faced his inner self, searching his feelings, his soul. And he learned. About himself, the Ikedas, and Tezuka.

What he had discovered surprised him. He cared about them all. Despite everything that had ever happened, and without them asking. And in realizing that, he had been given the key to everything. In understanding himself, he finally understood the others. Love was given freely, with no reserve. He cared about his adopted family, loved them as they obviously loved him. They were always there for him; no different from the way they were for Sho. He was the son of their heart, if not blood. As for those who were his blood, it hurt, their lack of care, but he survived, and would continue to survive. He was loved. He did have a family. That didn't mean that he wanted to take away Sho's inheritance, but he wasn't a stranger as he had thought he was.

As for Tezuka... well, he was still confused. He didn't know how he felt. All that he knew was that Tezuka was always there. And... and that was important. He was there. And that was the heart of his crisis, why he thought he was going crazy. For those confused feelings he felt around Tezuka, for Tezuka... He took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. He was -may the heavens help him- attracted to Tezuka. He made him... ~feel~... like he was supposed to feel... for a girl...

<I have totally lost it. Gods, Tezuka is my roommate! I can't feel that way for him!>

~~But he seems to feel that way toward you.~~ a soft voice whispered in the back of his mind, arguing with him. ~~You know he does not act that way with anyone else.~~

<I am his roommate!> Mitsuru protested.

~~So?~~ the traitorous voice asked mockingly. ~~Why should that matter any? You have seen how he looks at you, is it any different from how you have been looking at him these last few days?~~

<SHUT. UP.>

~~You care for him, falling in love with him. Have always been, even before he started looking at you.~~

<It is WRONG!>

~~It is love,~~ the voice whispered softly, gently. ~~When has love ever been wrong?~~

Mitsuru had no answer.

+

Mitsuru's thoughts were still troubled as he walked back to Greenwood. After that last statement, the voice had gone silent, leaving him to flounder in his own thoughts and mixed-up feelings.

Love? He ~loved~ Tezuka? These feelings that he was experiencing, these desires, love? For a member of the same sex? This was not something that he thought he could deal with. He had just barely admitted to himself that he loved his adopted family, for cryin' out loud! Everything he had been taught rebelled against this. Having -those- kind of feelings for a member of the same sex... he shook his head. It was wrong! What kind of hentai was he turning into?

But even with knowing all that, he couldn't deny that Tezuka meant something to him. Over the past few days, when he let his mind wander, images would appear in his mind's eye. Images of Tezuka studying, all calm, cool and collected. Him talking to other students, his -polite- smile in place; his eyes hiding all but a glimmer of what he was thinking. He remembered last night, how he had glanced over at Tezuka out of the corner of his eyes to see what he was doing without seeming to. Tezuka was watching him with smoky green eyes and the softest smile on his lips...

Mitsuru swallowed roughly. <Advert!> he commanded himself desperately as a warm flush swept across his body. Gods above, he could still ~feel~ those eyes watching him...

He whipped around the corner, and came to a sudden stop at the sight of a large black car parked in front of the dorm. Two men were standing next to it, one at the rear passenger door; the other by the drivers side door. As Mitsuru watched, both men stood at attention. A moment later a beautiful young lady sashayed out of the gate and toward the car.

<Sugoi...> She was beautiful. Her white pantsuit and matching hat were a startling contrast to her long wavy black hair. He was unable to make out her eye color, as she wore heavy black sunglasses. She paused in front of the car, and as one of the men opened the passenger door for her, she looked up and down the street, her gaze momentarily landing on Mitsuru before looking away. He shivered at that brief glance. <Beautiful, but for some reason she makes my blood run cold.> He shivered again and watched as the black car pulled away from the curb and drove down the street.

At least he wasn't thinking about Tezuka anymore.

+

Shinobu slowly, and with careful intent, closed the door to his room. The latch made a soft clicking noise, but he did not remove his hand. If he did, if he had nothing physical to focus on, who knew what he would do. He leaned his head against the door, breathing in deeply, trying to calm himself. It wasn't working.

_How_could_she_? Coming here... to see him... and then saying...

He tensed with suppressed rage. He could have killed her for that... It would have been ~sooo~ easy...

He threw himself away from the door and stalked into the middle of the room. For her to say something like that... His eyes, gleaming with a near unholy light deep within, searched the room. They landed on a vase sitting on his desk, one that he had received several years ago from a distant aunt. He had carefully arranged several silk lilies in it, and it looked almost real. He focused, and a sharp cracking could be heard. A second later the vase crumbled into dozens of shards onto the desk, the flowers following a moment later as they realized that they were no longer being supported. It didn't make him feel any better than before.

Shinobu's breath hissed between his teeth as his gaze once again searched the room, then stilled. Slowly he turned toward the door. In his rage, he had dropped his shields. And someone was walking up the stairs.

+

Mitsuru's steps became slower and slower as he neared the second floor. The atmosphere was so... threatening. It made him rather uneasy, and he wondered what the cause was. He came to the last step and paused. It was gone. As though someone switched off a light. That was definitely not normal. And not his concern, he quickly reminded himself. He quickly walked the few feet to his door and reached for the knob. He turned it and opened the door. And saw Tezuka.

<Jeeze!> If he could have, Mitsuru would have hung his head. Considering all he had just gone through, Tezuka would be here. It was just his luck. His bad luck.

"Hello Ikeda." Mitsuru quickly looked at him, really looked at him. That wasn't a tone he had ever heard Tezuka use before, flat, with nothing behind it. Not emotionless, but dead. Mitsuru quickly looked at his eyes, knowing that was the only way to see anything about how Tezuka was feeling, and felt his blood run cold. The ~look~ in them... Gods, what had happened?!

"Is there something wrong?" Tezuka said in the same tone, his narrowed eyes carefully watching Mitsuru, who was feeling as though he was trapped in a locked room with a dangerous animal.

<Snap out of it!> he hissed at himself. No matter how Tezuka was acting (and now he realized that Tezuka had to have been the cause of the hostile emotions he had felt earlier) he ~knew~ that Tezuka wouldn't do anything to him. It wasn't conscious, this knowledge. It came from deep inside, mirroring the knowledge that ~he~ wouldn't do anything to Tezuka. He took a deep breath, and calmly faced his roommate. "That is what I was going to ask you." Mitsuru walked over to his desk and sat. His eyes never left Tezuka once.

Shinobu kept his eyes on Ikeda, wondering just what the hell he was up to. The atmosphere was so thick in the room that even Nagisaneesan would be able to feel it. And she would not have stuck around. She knew that one could only push her younger brother so far before he snapped, and she was one of the few people who was aware of what he was capable of doing. He was at the very edge of his control now, and Ikeda was sitting down, looking at him, and asking if anything was wrong, when it was quite obvious that something was!

"I wish to be alone right now, Ikeda," he said in a carefully controlled voice. He definitely did not want to be around Ikeda at the moment. Not with his control the way it was. Seeping through his rage at his sister was a gradually growing stronger fear for Ikeda. Not many knew what lay behind his carefully maintained facade. The saying 'still waters run deep' could have been first said with him in mind. And beneath those still waters was a turbulence that not many would brave. And Ikeda was still sitting there! What was wrong with him?!

"Are you sure?" Mitsuru asked softly, having quickly come to the realization that Shinobu needed someone with him, and that he could not leave Tezuka alone like this. In face of his troubled feelings, it was something that he was incapable of doing. Without realizing it, his choice had been made.

"Yes," Tezuka hissed out, a slightly desperate look in his eyes. Mitsuru watched in silence as the always-collected Tezuka Shinobu wildly glanced around the room, then started for the door.

"If you will not respect my wishes, then I'll leave!" He had to get out of here! His control was rapidly evaporating, damn Nagisaneesan! If it wasn't for her... He reached for the doorknob, and froze as a soft hand grabbed his wrist, stopping it. He stared at it uncomprehendingly for a moment; then lifted his eyes. Ikeda was watching him calmly, a steady look of determination on his face.

"You don't have to leave, but I don't think you should be left alone."

<...what?> Shinobu whispered to himself.

"I don't know what happened, I don't know what has upset you so much." Mitsuru tilted his head to one side, his lips curving softly as he saw the confusion that Tezuka couldn't keep from creeping into his eyes. He took a deep breath, the rage was still evident in those green eyes, but he did not let it deter him. He didn't say anything else, knowing that sometimes words just didn't work, that they got in the way.

Shinobu's breathing was getting ragged from the effort of keeping control. He had no idea what Ikeda was doing, wasn't in the shape to care. He just knew, knew without a doubt that he was going to loose all control, and that Ikeda was going to get hurt when it happened. There was a sharp pain in the region of his heart at that realization, that there was nothing that he could do to prevent it. And now Ikeda was babbling something and smiling at him! He was shaking, and Ikeda released his arm. Before he could act, Ikeda lifted his hand and placed it on his cheek. His hand moved of its own violation, grabbing Ikeda's wrist, but doing nothing else. His eyes locked with Ikeda's, and he saw something in them.

<...wha...> Shinobu's thought was interrupted by the sudden movement of Ikeda's head, and by the warm pressure immediately following on his lips.

One of Mitsuru's more charming traits was that once he decided on a course of action, he followed through with it with single-minded determination. Something had to snap Tezuka out of this rage, and he could only think of one thing. The fact that he actually ~wanted~ to do this just made things easier for him.

When Tezuka did not protest his kiss (because this was the absolute last thing he ever thought Ikeda would do) he took a step closer, bringing his body in contact with Tezuka's, and lifted his other hand to gently cradle Tezuka's face. His eyes drifted shut as his lips caressed Tezuka's. This... a strangely familiar warmth crept through him; causing his skin to tingle... this was... he had no words to describe this. How sweet it was, how much he had missed it, though this was their first kiss. Mitsuru had nearly forgot exactly why he was doing this, lost in the delicious sensations twining around and through him, when a pair of hands grabbed him by the shoulders and roughly pushed him away. He took a couple of stumbling steps back, disoriented, and landed hard on his desk. One of his books, jarred by his landing, fell to the floor with a dull thud. The two of them stared at each other.

"What the hell were you doing?!" Shinobu demanded, flustered by the sweetness of the unexpected kiss and the gentleness of its taking. His rage at Nagisaneesan had totally destroyed his composure, and Ikeda arched his eyebrows in amusement.

"I don't believe I have ever heard you swear before. Or loose your temper." Shinobu glared at him, not knowing why Ikeda was sounding so amused. He watched as Ikeda repositioned himself on the desk, now sitting on it instead of sprawled across it. He was smiling, a smug smile of satisfaction about something.

"Why are you smiling like that?" Shinobu broke down and asked. The smile grew even brighter.

"How are you feeling now?"

Shinobu gave him a sharp look. <How am I...> His thought faded off as he realized something. The rage, his anger at Nagisaneesan, was gone.

Ikeda was nodding as he realized that. "I was hoping that it would work, I had to do something," he quickly replied as Shinobu's gaze rested hard on him. "The kind of rage you were in, you could have hurt someone."

He blinked. Was he hearing this? "What about you? Weren't you afraid of getting hurt?"

Ikeda gave him a shocked look. "I never thought you would hurt me for a moment," he said honestly, like the very idea was incomprehensible. "I was worried about you."

Mitsuru pushed himself off of the desk and came to stand in front of Tezuka. He was staring at him, his green eyes alert as he approached. "And why was that?" Tezuka asked softly.

"Because..." He stood straight and meet Tezuka's eyes. "I don't want anything to happen to you..." Mitsuru's voice faded and he just stared at Tezuka for a moment whose green eyes were cloaked, revealing nothing to Mitsuru. "I - I think," he took a deep breath and began again. "I love you."

+

" 'I love you.' " Shinobu stared at Ikeda. Had he heard... what he just thought he heard? He looked at Ikeda, really looked at him this time, and noticed something that he should have noticed earlier. It was gone. His mask, his shield from the world, what he hid his true self behind, was gone. The person before him was the person he had glimpsed so long ago in the park, the one who had first caught his attention and desire. An Ikeda that he thought he would have to coax and seduce to see again.

"What brought this on?" he asked even more softly. Ikeda gave him a puzzled, slightly worried look, like he was unsure of Shinobu.

"Nothing. It was just there," a searching look, "and you knew it too, didn't you? The way you have been acting all these months toward me, it was all about this."

He stared at Ikeda for a long moment, long enough for Ikeda to start getting worried, then he smiled; a slow, sweet smile that made Ikeda gasp in startled amazement at its beauty. He covered the distance between them and looked Ikeda straight in the eye, then he lowered his head, and captured Mitsuru's lips with his.

+

Shinobu propped himself up on his elbow and looked at the person lying next to him. Ikeda. He was peacefully sleeping, his wavy hair falling over his eyes. Gently Shinobu ran his fingers down one cheek. Like this, sleeping so peacefully with his hair so charmingly mussed, he looked so sweetly innocent and pure. A smile of pure wickedness danced across his face. Ikeda ~had~ been several hours ago, and he would always remember the looks of shocked pleasure and delight that had been on Ikeda's face when he had loved him. That, in itself, had made his wait worthwhile. Everything else... he bent and caressed his lovers lips with his own... everything else had been what he had been missing, what he was longing for, what made him complete.

"Ikeda," he whispered softly. "Ikeda."

On the pillow Ikeda wrinkled his nose, causing Shinobu to smile at the charming reaction. Ikeda murmured something softly, and turned his face to Shinobu, snuggling closer to the warm body next to him.

Shinobu looked down at him, a soft look settling on his face. Ikeda was simply too cute for words to describe. He almost considered lying back down and luxuriate in having him there, warm and naked, next to him. But he couldn't. Dinner would be served soon, and they had to make an appearance. Having dear Nagisaneesan, whom he was still angry at, coming and making off color and insulting comments on his preferences and practices was one thing. For such to start going around here at Greenwood... he wouldn't let such things to even be considered. And, a very grim look appeared in his eyes, he wouldn't ever let such speculations touch Ikeda.

"Time to get up." Another illegible mumble came from the blankets.

"Ikeda," this was said in a stern voice, "you need to get up. Dinner is in an hour." Not even a twitch.

<Well then...> Time for drastic measures. "Ikeda..." Shinobu lowered his head and softly kissed the sensitive skin under Ikeda's ear. He had discovered to both their delights how erotically sensitive he was there. "You need..." another kiss, this one firmer and longer. Ikeda rolled his head to one side, giving Shinobu better access. "...to get..." Shinobu swirled his tongue around the shell of Ikeda's ear. Ikeda moaned softly. " ...up." Shinobu's started to stroke Ikeda's chest, slow, sensuous strokes. Ikeda moaned again, this time more deeply and drawn out and arched into Shinobu's touch.

"Mitsuru..." Shinobu breathed next to his ear, "Mitsuru..."

"Hmmm..." Hazy amethyst eyes finally fluttered open, meeting smoky green eyes that hovered right above him. "Wha..."

"Ikeda," Shinobu sat up, the blanked falling to his hips. "If we don't show for dinner, when everyone knows that we are present in the dorm, rumors may start." Amethyst eyes blinked at him, once, and then again.

"Did you just use my name?"

"Ikeda?"

"No," Mitsuru shook his head, his eyes locked on the face above him. "Mitsuru."

Shinobu was quiet for a moment. "Yes," he finally said. "I did."

"I like how you say it," he said, surprising Shinobu. "I guess that means I can start calling you Shinobu now."

Shinobu stared down at him. "If you want."

A soft look lit up Mitsuru's face. "I do." Mitsuru sat up and looked at Shinobu. A soft smile came to him, and he bent forward, kissing Shinobu softly on the lips. "I don't think we need to get dressed just yet though. If we have an hour..." He kissed him again, and wrapped his arms around Shinobu. "...we should have time..." Mitsuru's breathing was becoming a bit forced.

"Yes," Shinobu cupped Mitsuru's cheek with his hand, and brought their lips together. As one, they fell back onto the bed.

They had plenty of time.

The End

=^._.^=

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