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[ Related Universe: Stained Glass Curtain ]

It started with three flowers, left on Ran's desk. An orchid, a lily, and a single coral-colored rose. No note, no indication of who had left them. Ran flushed when he saw them, and quickly hid them away. He looked around for any sign of who might have left them.

Golden eyes met his from across the room, just for a brief moment before they looked away. Kakyou leaned back in his seat, ignoring the pre-class chatter around him. Kakyou skipped a lot, but he was intelligent and got the material and always showed up for tests. Even the pop quizzes, somehow. He wondered, idly, if Ran would catch on to him before he decided to show his hand.

Ran mouth set in a line and he looked away. His flush deepened. But he did not throw the flowers out. Not those or the ones that came after. He kept them, and when they were dead, pressed them into a book.

The flowers kept always appeared on days when Kakyou was in class. The orchid and lily were always the same, but the color of the rose would fluctuate. Coral (desire), orange (enthusiasm), white (purity), dark burgundy (unconscious beauty), and just once, blue (the impossible).

When Aya found out, Ran decided he had to do something.

The next day after school, Ran cut kendo practice and tried catch up to Kakyou when a lot of other people weren’t around. “Kuzuki-san,” Ran said quietly. “Can we talk?”

Kakyou tilted his head slightly, giving Ran a considering look. The high neck of his uniform was almost never fastened; the mannerism gave a flash of his pale throat. "If that's what you want, Fujimiya-san."

“Thank you.” Ran nodded his head toward a less populated area of the schoolyard and started walking that way.

Kakyou's lips were curved into a faintly amused smile as he walked after Ran. He wouldn't be surprised if this caused some gossip.

When they were far enough away that he thought no one would hear, Ran started talking. He met Kakyou’s eyes evenly. Kakyou might be able to tell that Ran had practiced looking calm, but probably not know what Ran was really feeling. “You seem to know everything about everyone at school. If you know who has been giving me flowers, please, ask them to stop.”

Kakyou raised an eyebrow curiously as he considered Ran and his request. He wondered, idly, if Ran knew or if he meant what he said. "They bother you so much that you're willing to ask a delinquent's help to stop them?" he asked, tilting his head slightly.

"I'm asking for your help," Ran answered. "I think you're in the best position to make them stop."

"What makes you think that?" A light push, testing. Kakyou met Ran's eyes intently.

Ran held Kakyou's eyes for several moments, but looked away first. He blew out a frustrated breath. "I think you gave them to me, Kuzuki-san," he answered in an irritated whisper.

There. Kakyou made a small satisfied sound at the admission. A tiny half-smile curved his lips as he nodded. "Do you dislike my gifts, Fujimiya-san?"

"They embarrass me."

"That doesn't really answer my question," Kakyou said, soft and somehow undemanding despite the words.

The silence stretched longer this time. Ran still did not look back at Kakyou. He looked out into the street instead.

He glanced toward the aging brick wall of the nearby building. There was middling traffic on the sidewalk, most people were at work, but this Tokyo and it was never truly empty. Most of the people didn't pay attention Kakyou and Ran. The sound of traffic was a constant, familiar background.

Kakyou stepped closer, deliberately making a bit of noise with his steps. He stopped just within arm's reach. "If you don't answer, I'll have to draw my own conclusions."

Ran looked back at Kakyou. "Getting a present is nice. The idea someone might care. The flowers themselves beautiful. But they are gifts for women. I don't like getting them from another man. …I don't know if I like getting them from you."

"They are gifts for someone I want to send a message to. I know you're not a woman," Kakyou said, mulling over Ran's words even as he spoke. "If you don't know how you feel, there are ways to find out. What if I leave you something that isn't a flower?"

"I got your message," Ran replied. "My answer is that I can't give you what you want."

"Why not?" Kakyou thought it was a fair enough question. And there were answers he would take as ironclad. He just wasn't sure Ran had one of those.

Ran huffed. He looked away again for a moment, watching a girl ride a bike down the street. Aya-chan would go looking for him after kendo practice. "I answered your question. Answer mine. Why me?"

"Because when I look at you, I see the things those flowers said," Kakyou murmured slowly, looking up at the tiny sliver of sky visible above them. "I haven't felt a fraction of that towards anyone for a long time."

"I'm Catholic. I'm the oldest son. The only son. WHY me? Do you just like looking at me?"

"If I just liked looking at you, I could come to class more," Kakyou responded, honest despite the hint of dry humor. "I want to know you. Not because I know things about everyone, but because I've learned about you from you."

Ran moved closer to Kakyou, lowering his voice. "I looked up the flowers. You seem to want more than to get to know me."

"Yes," Kakyou admitted easily, letting himself really look at Ran for a moment. Letting Ran see that. "But that doesn't mean anything without the rest."

"I can't," Ran repeated. He looked down at the uneven pavement before raising his eyes to meet Kakyou's. "You have your answer. No more gifts, please."

"Why can't you?" Kakyou asked again. His eyes were focused and a little dark, sharply intent. "I'd like to know you even if no more comes of it. But I want to know why it can't."

Ran looked away again, muscles in his neck tense. He swallowed. Ran dragged his eyes back to Kakyou's and made them stay. There was fear in his eyes, but something stronger than fear. "For all the reasons that I named, and because I care about my family. I love them and don't want to have a secret from them. I don't know you. I don't trust you. But you're beautiful and exciting and I don't…" Ran put his hands in his pockets. He hunched his shoulders a little. "I don't trust myself with you."

Kakyou reached out to lay a hand on one hunched shoulder, thumb nudging lightly at the collar keeping him from knowing what Ran's skin felt like. The redhead was attracted to him, thought he was beautiful, and that sent a tiny thrill down Kakyou's spine. It was almost eerie, how much 'I don't trust myself' could mean. "Those sound like complications to me, nothing more. It's natural not to trust someone you don't know. Learn about me, like I want to about you. I won't ask for anything more, you have my word. I don't break it, which is why it's rarely given."

Ran made a noise of frustrated disgust. He rolled his shoulder, and stepped out of Kakyou's reach. He held up his hands. Even at a distance, someone would be able to tell the gesture meant 'keep away -- don't touch!'

Kakyou let his hand drop back to his side. He stood still, even though his eyes followed Ran. He spread his hands slightly, a clear gesture of his own- 'if that's what you want'.

Ran let his hands drop to his sides as well. He shook his head. 'No.'

"I know you don't owe me anything." Kakyou's voice was gentler, soft and almost kind. It was a contrast to his reputation. "But I'll still ask you to give me one day. A day just to talk and spend time together. Give me one day, and let me give you one real gift, something that isn't flowers, and if it's your choice at the end, I won't trouble you any more." It was a horrible gamble. Kakyou knew that. But Ran was already rejecting everything, so what did he have to lose? If it didn't work, he'd have that one day to remember.

Ran stared into Kakyou's eyes. He pressed his lips together, prepared to give one answer, but another came out. "No more gifts." He very conspicuously wasn't saying no to the rest.

Kakyou noticed, and a tiny smile curved his lips. It was faint but sincere and subtly sweet. There was a pleased, happy spark in his golden eyes. "No more gifts," he accepted quietly.

Ran had to look away. He turned his head in the direction of a baby crying and watched a woman pushing a stroller up the street. "Sunday?"

Kakyou skimmed it in his thoughts, was he free? He was pretty sure he was or easily could be. After a moment, he nodded and said "I should be available Sunday, barring emergency. What time?" With being Catholic one of Ran's objections, he probably went to church, Kakyou thought.

"Dawn?" There was the thinnest trace of a smile on Ran's lips. Kakyou asked for a day. Ran had a sense of the poetic and planned on giving him from sunrise to sunset, if Kakyou wanted it.

Kakyou wanted it; there was another small smile even as golden eyes noticed Ran's barely-there one. "I'll be waiting. Should we meet here?"

"Alright." Ran had held himself with mature, almost military posture throughout the conversation, but now he shifted from foot to foot as if he felt awkward. "Should I plan anything or… do anything?"

"You don't need to," Kakyou told him softly, shaking his head. The awkward shifting was...cute. He had to resist the urge to move closer. "Just come find me. I asked for this; it's only fair that I take care of it."

Ran seemed to be about to argue. He didn't. "See you then -- barring emergency." He turned to go.

"I'll see you then," Kakyou replied, his voice holding a quiet gratitude Ran wouldn't have heard before. He let the other boy go without trying to stop him. He would have Sunday.

[ Related Universe: Stained Glass Curtain ]
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