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[fic] ; In Which Booties are Rocked, Sex is Had, and the Punch is Spiked
purple kak
strawberispring
Title: In Which Booties are Rocked, Sex is Had, and the Punch is Spiked
Fandom: YuGiOh 5DS (prom AU)
Character(s): lots
Pairing(s): also lots
Word Count: ~11000
Rating: PG-13/R-ish
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Warnings: some drug use mentioned in passing, underage drinking, it's pretty tame
Author's Note: This actually got written super-duper fast
Summary: It's a high school AU. Set during and after the senior prom

--

The DJ was spinning crappy party hits that had risen from their nineties and early-2000s graves to be resurrected as techno-beat zombies. Said music was barely matching the pulsing strobe lights and lasers that pierced the smoky air (courtesy of the fog machine that had last been used in a production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream) resulting in visual and auditory confusion.

A buffet was laid out with pressed turkey and those ubiquitous floury cookies with thickly caked on, brightly colored frosting. A chaperone was dutifully doling out punch, completely oblivious to the fact that Crow Hogan had spiked said punch over two hours ago. In fact, because of Mr. Hogan, most dances didn’t even have punch. They instead opted for water bottles or bottles of soda that were meticulously watched over. Those in charge had clearly decided that a loadie layabout like Crow wouldn’t be caught dead at prom or, more likely, they figured the senior class—so close to graduation—would be far too responsible to risk the consequences of spiking the punch bowl. They were wrong in both cases.

Around the dance floor (read: basketball court) were tables from the cafeteria. They were adorned with stiff plastic tablecloths that had the creases from where they had been folded still visible. Sparkly confetti stars had been half-heartedly thrown onto each table and the centerpiece was a small statuette of the school’s mascot—the dragon—as shoddily sculpted by the freshmen art class. Seated at one of these tables in a dress bought from Ross and wearing an expression of woe was Carly Nagisa.

Carly had come to prom for two reasons: 1. She still held John Hughesian dreams about high school proms and the magical revelations of love that often occurred at them and 2. Misty had begged, pleaded, cajoled, and finally bribed her into going. She hoped the night would end with her engaging in steamy make-outs with Jack Atlas on a deeply hideous plaid couch in someone’s wood-paneled basement at a prom after party. How she figured her night would end would be holding back Misty’s hair because she drank too much spiked punch and was depositing her stomach’s contents directly into a toilet.

Part of her wished this really was a teen movie from the eighties where an iconic song would play and the crowds would part and Jack would be standing in front of her and hold his hand out and ask her to dance. And she would take her glasses off and immediately be taller, better-looking, more buxom, and her hair would be as shiny and gorgeous as Misty’s. To test this, Carly took her glasses off. Unfortunately, all that happened is that the entire gym got seriously blurry. She sighed and put them back on her face. Plus, the song was not at all iconic but instead was just Tag Team encouraging her to wave her hands in the air and shake her derrière. Carly opted not to and instead dejectedly propped her chin in her hands.

She looked over to where Misty was dancing and contemplated joining her. Her best friend was currently engaged in the aforementioned hand-waving and derrière-shaking along with Aki and Sherry. Naturally, they all looked magnificently flawless. Carly always felt like an awkward duck next to her gorgeous, swan-like friends. It was perhaps because she was a bit shorter than they were or that she had her thick-lensed glasses. It wasn’t as though they ever said anything about it but Carly kind of watched them enviously and wished she looked as good in her dress as they did in theirs—or as good as Sherry did in her tailored tuxedo. Well, partly because of that and partly because Carly wasn’t exactly fond of dancing since she knew there was at least an eighty-six percent chance that she’d step on the hem of her dress and fall face first onto the hard gym floor. Instead, she just stayed in her plastic, fold-out chair and waited for them to return, out of breath and brandishing small cups of spiked punch. Actually, punch seemed like a pretty good idea right about now; if she couldn’t mack on Jack or get over her anxiety about her dancing, then she may as well get drunk to have a semblance of a prom experience.

Carly glanced to see if her friends already had some but their waving hands were empty. She decided to just get some herself even if it meant abandoning her moping chair and maneuvering through the grinding bodies of her classmates to get to the concession table. Steeling herself, Carly rose from the table and took a dramatic step towards the concession table. Before her foot hit the ground, however, she decided it would be best to lift up her skirt slightly to keep her from tripping over the damn thing. Misty had tried to talk her into a cocktail-length dress but Carly was too nervous about showing her skinny, pale legs to even try one on. With renewed zeal, she set off to the concession table to get her drink on—which sounded weird when she said it, she admitted.

Thanks to Crow, most of the revelers at prom were already drunk with the promises of more alcohol at the various after-parties. Because of this, most of her classmates were bumping into each other or awkwardly making out on the dance floor rather than actually dancing. This made Carly’s trek to the concession table something of a video game with her trying to dodge her peers while not tripping over her own feet (she knew she would rue the day she let Misty talk her into wearing heels). On her way, she crashed into Bruno whose tie was loosened and his suspenders were down as he wiggled his hips and cried, “Booty, booty, booty, booty rockin’ everywhere!” Yusei materialized from the crowd and clamped his hand on his wrist.

“He didn’t know the punch was spiked,” he informed her.

Carly didn’t have to guess why Yusei wasn’t drinking or, rather, wouldn’t drink until the after-party. He was the world’s worst drunk. At Brave’s party last week, he had to be pulled down from the cement embankment outside his house multiple times as he tried to scale it. Whenever someone retrieved him, Yusei would assure them that he was just fine because “I’m Spider-Man.” She side-stepped them and continued on her mission. In her head, she played epic video game music or, upon reconsideration, the theme from Jurassic Park. It was far better than the music currently playing, which was apparently still borrowing from the Jock Jams series.

Finally, she reached the snack table and gratefully took her glass of punch from the chaperone. Victory, thy name was Carly Nagisa. To savor this victory, she lifted her paper cup to her lips and took a celebratory sip of spiked punch only to spit it back into her cup when she saw who was next to her, stuffing a fistful of Doritos into his mouth. Jack Atlas was standing next to her like an absurdly tall tree as he ate Doritos with one hand and held his own paper cup of spiked punch in the other. Was this going to happen? Were her Brat Pack movie dreams about to come true?

“Hey,” she said by way of starting conversation.

Jack looked at her for a moment and swallowed the wad of chips he was eating.

“Hey back.”

Progress.

--

If he were to best honest with himself (and Yusei Fudo always prided himself on being the most honest of all his friends) he would admit that he didn’t actually want to come to prom. Their school had the worst everything and prom was no exception. Still, since all his friends were going, he felt obligated to go. Otherwise he would be sitting at home, watching reruns of America’s Next Top Model and getting mad every time he saw that Kayla wasn’t even top 2 in Cycle 15—not that he watched it regularly or anything. So he reluctantly bought a ticket and reluctantly rented a tux and was now reluctantly ferrying Bruno around to make sure he didn’t throw up on anyone’s shoes.

Jack had disappeared somewhere to get food while Crow had run off to talk to Brave. Apparently Brave wanted to make their relationship of “doing it in the janitor’s closet during free period” into an actual relationship. Crow—who had had too much of his own spiked punch as well as whatever he had consumed before they got there—had merely replied, “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly.” This prompted Brave to stomp off and Crow had given chase to reason with him.

Yusei was also at an impasse. He could either drink said punch and use it as an excuse to engage in frisky make-outs with Bruno or not drink the punch and awkwardly dance around him and make sure he stayed fully clothed. While the first option promised his tongue in Bruno’s mouth, it also would lead to the complete abandonment of his dignity. One memorable occasion included him drinking all the milk in his house to keep anyone else from drinking his milk. He had awoken in a puddle of his own white vomit. Being the most responsible of his friends anyway, Yusei opted for the latter and resigned himself to a night devoid of make-outs.

It was time to, instead, dedicate himself to a night of making sure Bruno didn’t make an ass of himself. Alternately, it was titled “Operation Get Bruno Sober before Principal Godwin Sees Him and They Both Get Suspended and Don’t Graduate and Their Colleges Revoke Their Admissions and They End Up on the Street Fighting Cats for Chinese Food” but that was a little wordy.

Yusei dragged the blue-haired object of his desires out into the hallway and over to a water fountain. Thrusting his head forward, he pressed the gray bar and the metallic-tasting water sprayed forth in a sad little arc.

“Drink,” he commanded. “Drink until you’re sober, have to pee, or both.”

Bruno nodded with the dead seriousness that only a very drunk person could have and dutifully began to lap up the water. They stood there for what felt like five minutes (and maybe it was) in the darkened hallway while Jock Jams pounded out of the gym. Every time a fellow senior pushed open the doors to make a hasty trip to the restroom, he could hear strains of a voice commanding that “everybody dance now!” Yusei decided to ignore the music’s proclamation and continued his diligent watch over Bruno.

Finally, Bruno spat water back into the fountain and announced that he had to pee. Like a chaperone on an elementary field trip, Yusei went with him into the restroom and waited for him to pee.

“This is friendship!” Bruno said happily as he relieved himself.

Yusei nodded, wondering if comparing himself to a watchful teacher or a parent who wanted an excuse to get out of work for a day was a healthy comparison since he was talking about the boy he had a crush on. Maybe he should have some punch.

“Yusei, we should dance. Let’s dance. Let’s dance the dance of friendship, Yusei.”

Perhaps his plan to sober Bruno up didn’t work as well as he thought.

He sighed and said, “You have to zip up your fly first.”

Instead of doing that, Bruno unfurled his body and draped himself heavily across Yusei’s shoulders. He sighed again. It was going to be a long night. A long night of sobriety, Jock Jams, and lack of oxygen due to prolonged sighing.

--

Crow was not having a good night.

1. He had lost Brave somewhere in the crowd and every time he described him to people to try and locate him, they would just laugh and say he was describing himself and “Crow, you’re so hilarious!”

2. He had sobered up.

These were two Very Bad Things that led to Crow having a Very Bad Night. Granted, he could stop and say that these two things were both his fault but it wasn’t like he led Brave on or anything! He knew their relationship was just fooling around. It wasn’t like Crow told him to get attached.

But he figured he should apologize even though it wasn’t his fault but Brave had disappeared. For all he knew, he had left the prom. Truth be told, he wasn’t that invested in finding him if it took that much effort. Plus, if he left, there was a Very Good Chance that Principal Godwin would find a way to lock him out because he and ‘ol Rex were on a first name basis due to how much time Crow spent in his office. He would find Brave at Ushio’s after-party. Right now, he wanted to enjoy himself and turn his Very Bad Night back into a Very Good One.

The punch was nearly gone so he could not fix his sobriety until the party. He decided to find Ushio to remind him of this. He spotted him because it wasn’t very easy to miss him—he was quite tall and his eyebrows could be seen from space—in the middle of the gym floor. He and Mikage were scuffing up the painted mascot in the center of the basketball court. He was surprised that Ushio, who was usually so stringent about school rules (an act of hypocrisy since he always hosted the best parties where there were copious amounts of underage drinking) was wearing black-soled shoes on the gym floor. This was an act of heresy as far as Principal Godwin was concerned but, for tonight anyway, it seemed that Ushio could not be tamed.

As he approached them, Crow realized why they had situated themselves in the thickest crush of people jumping and jiving to “Mambo #5” (thankfully the DJ had run out of Jock Jams). Ushio and Mikage both looked as though they hadn’t had a decent meal in forever and had decided to just eat each other. Crow stood there for a moment, awkwardly trying to find a way in to get Ushio’s attention but ultimately decided to fuck it and that telling him that he planned to get super drunk at his party was like Moby Dick telling Captain Ahab that he was going to wreck his shit: it was a foregone conclusion.

He left them to their tonsil hockey and sought out his other friends. He had last seen Jack stuffing his craw at the concession table and Yusei was playing babysitter to Bruno. With them gone, he realized that he really didn’t have many friends. Crow was well liked enough but he didn’t feel comfortable grinding up on people he didn’t really know.

The best course of action, then, was to grind up on people he did know. He scanned the dark gym and, through that annoying strobe light, managed to locate Aki. There was a sense of irony not lost on him that the drunken revelers he had to make his way through had gotten this way because of him (possibly; others could have pre-gamed before coming to prom). Somehow, he managed to make his way over to her. Aki was a buoy in a sea of drunken, horny teenagers and he was a drowning victim. When he finally reached her, he threw his arms around her in a hug of victory.

“Hey, Crow,” she said calmly, used to his constant need to touch everyone and give all the hugs—all of them.

“Everyone’s drunk,” he remarked.

“And whose fault is that?”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Right.”

Crow liked that about Aki. She didn’t take his shit. She probably wouldn’t run off into a huff because he didn’t want more than to do it in custodian closets. Oh, right, he still had to deal with Brave. That could wait. There were more important things to do.

He grinned and said, “Dance with me.”

At that moment, the DJ began to play that Seal song from that Batman movie. Crow was tempted to rescind his offer as it was a slow dance song and slow dances tended to have certain implications that fast dances did not. Not that he wouldn’t want to slow dance with Aki but slow dancing with Aki when he was still in a confusing situation with Brave would just make things, well, more confusing. Aki tilted her head to the side and scrutinized him for a moment as if checking his face for ulterior motives. He opened his mouth to say, “Never mind” but she cut him off with an, “Alright.”

--

Carly, meanwhile, was still at a loss what to say to Jack. He was towering over her and looking incredibly handsome in a white tuxedo. After their exchange of greetings, she had realized that she had nothing to say. Usually, she had no problem speaking to Jack but that was before she realized she had a thing for him. Having a “thing” for someone apparently froze her vocal chords and made her unable to even squeak out a “how are you?” to him. It was very vexing.

“You look nice,” Jack said, deciding to start the conversation himself.

“You, too.”

Carly Nagisa: brilliant conversationalist.

“Your eyes look nice tonight.”

As if they didn’t always. Maybe it was better when she didn’t know what to say to him. Jack blinked a few times as if trying to figure out if she was actually paying him a compliment or if she meant that she wanted to take his eyes and put them in her…eye shrine or something that a serial killer would have.

“Uh…thanks?”

Carly gulped down her punch, hoping it would give her courage. Instead, it just burned her throat and made her eyes water. No matter, she could pretend it gave her courage.

“Let’s dance!” she proclaimed far too loudly.

Jack wiped his hands on a cocktail napkin, left it on the concession table, and held his hand out. Yes, things were looking up now. Not that this was entirely unprecedented. She and Jack had hung out before tons of times and had even been chemistry partners last year. Her bouts of being unable to talk only began occurring when Misty had pointed out that she had a massive crush on Jack. For her to be dancing with him now was a grand turn of events.

Seal was singing about his power, his pleasure, and his pain as Jack led her out to the floor. In her head, they kind of meshed perfectly together like puzzle pieces as they swayed to the music. In reality, her head only came to the bottom of his ribcage and his hands kind of awkwardly sat on her waist as if he wasn’t sure where else to put them.

As they danced, Carly looked up at his face and decided—or maybe the punch decided since she never could hold her alcohol—that it was definitely time to lay one on him. She rose up on her tiptoes since Jack was still well taller than her even in her heels and pushed her lips against his. He tasted like vodka and nacho cheese but that was beside the point. Jack kissed her back and she opened her mouth a little to allow him to sink in. Honestly, prior to this, Carly’s only kiss had been a pinched-lip smooch during a game of spin the bottle in seventh grade from Kiryu. That had nothing on this.

A hand came slicing out of nowhere and brutally tore them apart. Carly turned to see Principal Godwin glaring at them both. He held a ruler in his hand and put it between them.

“This is a warning,” he said ominously, lifting the ruler and melting back into the crowd.

Carly lifted one hand to her mouth and tentatively rubbed it. As she did, she made sure to rub a bit too hard so as to hurt her lips to make sure that the pain that resulted from the action would prove that her and Jack swapping spit was not a dream. No, it was not. Jack Atlas had actually put his tongue in his mouth and, yes, Doritos and vodka-spiked fruit punch did not a good combination make but that was easy to ignore.

“Godwin had a mad-on for me,” Jack remarked. “Do you want to wait until the, uh, after-party to pick this up?”

She nodded, unsure of what else to say. In reality, Carly just wanted to drag him off to the bathroom and let her fevered, schoolgirl daydreams become a reality but she decided a split-second later that losing her virginity in a bathroom stall was probably not a good idea mostly because she would barely have any idea how to perform sex on a bed, let alone while having to try and have sex in a cramped stall and avoid a toilet. Plus, Jack was probably over six and a half feet tall and he would have to be a contortionist in order to…Carly decided to let her imagination stop there before the image of Jack bending himself like a pretzel made her, well, blush.

“Yes!” she said suddenly, realizing that she hadn’t even answered Jack and had let her mind wander to bathroom stalls.

“Yeah...”

“I’m…excited,” she said, trying to save face. Carly pumped her arm to the side to try and play it off as a joke but knew it just looked awkward.

“Me…too?”

--

Cut to outside the gym where Kiryu, Sherry, and Misty were investigating. Well, in actuality, Sherry and Misty had run outside to smooch without getting a ruler thrust between them courtesy of Principal Godwin and Kiryu had escaped to smoke a cigarette by the old bomb shelter (“I will never say that McCarthyism never did anything for me,” he would often say of his habit of sneaking cloves behind the hulking gray structure). The three of them collided somewhere in the bushes—which resulted in Misty’s arm hair being singed by the tip of Kiryu’s cigarette. That act resulted in Sherry nearly flipping Kiryu over her shoulder and Kiryu swearing fluently in a language neither of them recognized.

“Asshole!”

“Accident!”

“My arm!”

“AIEEEEE!”

The fourth cry had come from somewhere behind them and inside the bomb shelter. Thus, this led to the three of them throwing aside their differences and investigating the scream. Sherry led the investigation, pressing herself against the cracked wall of the bomb shelter and carefully creeping towards the entrance. Misty followed, carefully lifting up the hem of her dress. Kiryu trailed behind them, puff-puffing on his cigarette. In his head, he was some sort of Bogart. In reality, he had leaves in his hair and he had some of Sherry’s red matte lipstick on his tuxedo sleeve since she had somehow bitten him during their altercation.

Sherry threw the door open, which involved her throwing her entire body against the thick, metal door and yanking it open with all her might. The act nearly wrenched her arms from their sockets. Despite the great effort on her part, the door only slowly inched open. It wasn’t until Misty and Kiryu also grabbed it did the door finally open wide enough to let the moonlight and streetlamp light illuminate the bomb shelter.

On the floor, it appeared as though two people were engaged in a game of Twister but had forgotten the mat. Upon closer inspection, it was apparently Brave and Bommer.

“Weren’t Brave and Crow dating?” Misty asked.

“If you’d call it that,” Kiryu replied.

“Maybe Bommer and Brave just both don’t want the commies to get them,” Sherry added.

“Have they noticed us?” Misty asked. “If they haven’t noticed us, there’s a good chance that this is voyeurism.”

Kiryu took his mostly-complete cigarette (that had accidentally been put out on Misty’s arm) and flicked it at them. Bommer lifted his head and peered at them through a curtain of shiny black hair.

“Aren’t you dating Crow?” Misty asked.

“No?” Bommer crinkled his brow.

“Not you. Brave.”

“You mean this isn’t Crow?”

No one was sure if Bommer was joking or not. As they couldn’t simply close the door and walk away, they opted to just take the latter and leave them be.

“I’m not sure what we accomplished here,” Misty said with a frown. “Except that I have a burn on my arm and I think I saw Brave’s penis.”

“I’d count those as pretty impressive accomplishments.”

--

Back in the bathroom, Bruno was still trying to “dance the dance of friendship” while Yusei wondered at what point in his life he had gone wrong. He had to have made some egregious error in his life to deserve to spend his senior prom trying to corral a drunken Bruno in the gents while hearing strains of “Pump up the Volume” (the Jock Jams were back) pounding through the door. He figured it had to be his time as a five-year-old bully who relentlessly beat up on Crow until Jack moved to town and taught him the meaning of friendship: by punching him back and telling him to stop. The three of them had been best friends ever since. Yusei probably figured that this was him finally getting his comeuppance for his brief time as the terrorizer of kindergarteners everywhere.

This was doubled by the fact that, despite his scarecrow-esque dancing and constant refrains of “bootie, bootie, bootie, bootie rockin’ everywhere!” Bruno was still inexorably kissable. His blue hair was sticking to his sweat-dampened face but his lips were slightly parted and his eyes were wide. Yusei really just wanted to grab him and put his mouth on top of his but he refused to do so while Bruno was drunk. It reeked of grossness and Yusei Fudo was many things but gross was definitely not one of them.

“We should go back to the gym,” he told Bruno. “You can, uh, rock your bootie in there.”

Bruno whirled around, his arms straight out, and looked Yusei right in the eye.

“You need to rock your bootie!”

“Uh, no. I will not be, uh, rocking my bootie. I don’t rock my bootie at all. Well, unless I’m drunk but that’s not until later. So no rocking my bootie until then.”

“But it’s such a nice bootie! Rock it!”

“I am not rocking my bootie.”

Yusei honestly couldn’t believe that he was managing to continually use the phrase “rock my bootie” with a straight face and, again, wondered at what point his life took a turn for the absurd.

Bruno leapt at him and brought his hands down to the bootie in question. He squeezed and Yusei’s spine fused as he sucked in a mouthful of air.

“This is a good bootie,” he remarked gravely. “And you should rock it.”

He sighed and pried his hands off of him. “We are not having this conversation anymore.”

Bruno looked up at him with wide eyes and whispered in a mournful voice, “Okay…”

After that, of course, Yusei felt like total ass because, in many ways, Bruno was like one of the kittens he always took in. Sometimes, he wondered if Bruno actually just was a kitten given human form or a bunch of kittens hiding in a human suit. If they ever actually hooked up, he was afraid he would lift up his shirt and it would just be kittens.

He sighed and rolled his eyes heavenward. “Fine. We’ll go back to the gym and I’ll…rock my bootie.”

This seemed to please Bruno as he let out a happy squeal and hugged him tightly. At that moment, the music inexplicably and jarringly changed to “The Things You Do for Love.”

Shut up, 10cc…

--

“This music is just confusing,” Crow remarked.

After the bouncy 10cc song, it had apparently segued into “Miss You” by the Rolling Stones. He had attempted to impress Aki by doing his best Jagger, which was a pretty good Jagger if he said so himself. Aki had merely laughed, though, which he wasn’t sure was a good sign or not. Sure, he still had to settle things with Brave but this was far more fun.

“Maybe the DJ had some of your punch.”

“It’s everyone’s punch, Aki.”

“Right.”

Truth be told, Crow was just glad that the Jock Jams had ceased for the moment. He had had to deal with those far too many times in gym class during freshmen and sophomore years. It seemed like the coach looked for any excuse to play such music. Beep test? Why not to Jock Jams? Running around the track? Why not to Jock Jams? It was enough to make Crow contemplate ways to locate the CD and melt it in acid.

“Whatever. Did you like my Jagger?”

“That was your Mick Jagger impression? I thought you were having some kind of fit…or demonic possession.”

Crow smirked and went back into his impression.

“I’ve been holding out so long, I’ve been waiting by the—” He abandoned his roostering and began to thrash about and roll his eyes back into his head. “Argh, your mother sucks cocks in hell!”

Aki snorted with laughter and then covered her mouth to try and hide it.

“I throw myself into comedy,” he informed her seriously.

“I can tell.”

Before they could exchange more witty repartee, Crow felt a heavy hand come down on his shoulder. Immediately, warning bells went off in his head and images of Principal Godwin played in his head until he turned round to see Ushio. He was surprisingly missing one blue-haired girlfriend but there were several noticeable (and fresh) hickies on his neck.

“Mikage’s missing, I see,” Crow remarked. “But I’m sure we can find her by finding someone whose teeth marks match the ones on your neck.”

Ushio swiped a large hand over his neck and glowered at him.

“Anyway, what did you want? Unless you just wanted to watch us…”

Crow twisted his lips, trying to recall why he had hunted down Ushio in the first place. It seemed so long ago.

“I was going to say something about your party but then I got distracted by the fact that I was watching a snuff play.”

“Snuff play?”

“Yeah—were you or were you not choking Mikage with your tongue?”

Aki put her hand over her mouth while Ushio merely rolled his eyes. It was senior year, of course, and everyone was long since accustomed to Crow’s unique brand of humor.

“I saw Brave running out to the bomb shelter with Bommer.”

Crow’s eyes went wide. “What? My Brave?”

“Your Brave?” Ushio asked.

“Your Brave?” Aki echoed.

Crow bit his lower lip.

“Okay, so I have no interest in pursuing anything more than hot sex with Brave but, still! For him to run off with Bommer?”

“Didn’t you and Bommer used to have a thing, too?”

Thank you, Ushio.

Aki giggled again. Like his sense of humor, everyone was used to Crow switching partners like most people switched socks. He was really not interested in having an actual relationship and wanted to sleep with as many people as possible. As it stood, he had at least kissed most of his friends. His first kiss, even, had been with Jack when they were both eleven years old and both wanted to know what kissing was.

“So you two were dancing?” Ushio pressed on, shouting to be heard over the music.

“Yes. Someone was trying to put Aki in a corner and I couldn’t stand for that.”

“Can’t you take anything seriously?”

“No, it’s against my programming.”

Another laugh from Aki. Crow took it as positive feedback. He thrived on getting his friends to laugh. And, for some reason, when he made Aki laugh (she wasn’t so big on the laughing) it made his stomach flip in a most confusing way.

--

Carly had waited patiently. She had waited throughout all of Jock Jams volumes one, two, and three. She had partaken in the obligatory arm thrusting during “Shout” and “YMCA.” She had swayed with him to Celine Dion ballads. But now it was time. She and Jack were riding to Ushio’s house on his motorcycle (he had sobered up since their initial encounter so it was not as though Carly held any apprehension to riding pillion with him) and she was planning on losing the shit out of her virginity.

She never understood the social taboo or concept of virginity, really. It promoted too many nasty things in her opinion and it was what? A membrane? Sure, part of her was held in awe of the “first time” and the romance and rosy images it entailed but the act itself wasn’t some great fanfare or shaming ceremony. As far as Carly was concerned, she wanted to have sex with Jack and so she was going to have sex with Jack. She wanted it to be romantic, yes, but that truly had little to do with the fact that it was her first time so much as she wanted sex with Jack to be romantic. End of story.

Satisfied with her mind’s train of thought, Carly wrapped her arms more tightly around Jack’s waist and pressed her cheek against his curved back.

He stopped the bike as the wheels crunched over the gravel in Ushio’s driveway and killed it. Kickstand down and they both jumped off. Carly wondered if she could be forward and hook her finger under the knot of his tie and drag him into the one guest room in Ushio’s house everyone tended to have party-sex in. She tried to imagine doing just that but the images didn’t line up. She sighed. This would be more difficult than first assumed.

Several cars were parked or people who had decided to walk the two blocks from the school were trickling in. There were several after-parties but, obviously, all of their friends opted for Ushio’s as it was a familiar place and somewhere that they were fine with passing out on the couch without worrying about being robbed during the night.

Kiryu was smoking a cigarette on the porch and gesturing wildly at Stephanie while he regaled her with a story that involved communists and Brave and Bommer getting it on in a bomb shelter. Stephanie’s eyes lit on Jack but he didn’t say anything to her as he greeted Kiryu with one of those dude-friend fist bumps before heading inside. Carly scurried after him, trying not to trip in her heels.

The drinking was already in full force when they stepped into the unfortunately decorated living room. Ushio was trying to corral everyone down into the basement so as to not knock over the shoddily made Pier 1 pots or topple the awkward school pictures of him dating back from kindergarten that dominated the wall space.

Jack jerked his chin towards the basement. Carly shook her head and jerked her own chin towards the stairs. If she couldn’t vocalize “Take me, take me now” then she could at least summon the courage to slightly move her chin. A smile spread over Jack’s face.

“We should probably use words,” she remarked, clever wordsmith that she was.

Jack nodded. “Yeah, probably. Come on.”

She liked the way he said that: come not follow. Like you would to a lover. She was risking romanticizing this but, really, his whole face changed. It softened and the way he held his hand out wasn’t to drag her behind him but to take her with him.

Hand in hand, they all but raced up the steps.

“Jack!” Ushio cried angrily from downstairs but then gave up, realizing that this was going to happen and that it at least wasn’t going to happen on his couch or in his bed or anything.

The guest room was, of course, where it always was and they slipped in as though they had to be secret. Jack locked the door.

“So it’s ours,” he said. “So no one else comes in.”

She liked that. Carly took her shoes off and stretched her feet into the carpet. If someone had told her that she would have had her first kiss (with Jack Atlas) and was going to have sex (also with Jack Atlas) in the same night, she would have checked them for a fever. This went above and beyond her Brat Pack fantasies.

Jack loosened his tie and kicked his shoes off. He leaned in and kissed her gently at first but then deeper as she reached forward to pull him by the lapels so he was on top of her. Her dress went up over her head and his tuxedo jacket went on the floor. He wore more clothes so it was imperative—to her—to get him naked as quickly as possible. She noticed that the way they were kissing was causing her glasses to press against her eyes in a painful manner. Deciding that she didn’t need to see much besides what was in front of her anyway, Carly removed the offending lenses and placed them on the nightstand beside her.

Now clad in only his boxers, Jack leaned over her and let one of his long (well-muscled, she’d add) arms search his discarded pants’ pocket for his wallet and—she assumed—a condom. Carly lay there, feeling in stasis, as she waited for him to retrieve the wallet, extract the condom and put it on. The entire act only took about forty-five seconds (maybe forty-seven) but the waiting was nearly killing her. She wanted Jack now, Goddamnit.

“You okay?” he asked.

Carly nodded. He leaned over her and slowly started pushing himself between her legs.

It hurt, really, like she was being stretched too far, but then it didn’t and they were just sort of…moving together. Somehow, their movements were matching the beat of the music downstairs (thankfully, Ushio did not own any volumes of Jock Jams). She wrapped her arms around his neck and arched her back a little and, yes, this was good. She, Carly Nagisa, had not only her Brat Pack dreams fulfilled but also what happened in that Breakfast Club porn parody that Misty had rented as a joke once. Well, not exactly that but it fit the comparison.

Carly, turn off your brain now! Concentrate on the sex!

For once, that was easy.

--

Crow decided that he had to settle things with Brave once and for all as he walked down the carpeted steps to Ushio’s finished basement. He had walked there since Yusei had left with Bruno and Jack had taken off on his bike—he thought it was quite rude of them to leave him stranded like that. Aki, even, had left with Misty and Sherry, leaving him to trek alone. For some reason, that stung way more than Yusei and Jack ditching him.

He intended on first giving the two of them a piece of his mind when he arrived but was having trouble locating either of them. He didn’t see Bruno’s car (with Yusei hopefully behind the wheel) and, while he saw Jack’s bike, he saw no Jack. Not that Crow looked terribly hard but Jack was a six-foot-six blond behemoth. He wouldn’t have been that hard to spot.

As neither was in his direct vicinity, he decided to find Brave and set him straight (figuratively speaking) but found him giving Bommer a throat culture in a dark, secluded corner of Ushio’s basement and decided against it. Whether or not his fooling around with Bommer was a way to get back at Crow for how he treated him earlier or the birth of a new relationship, he found that he wasn’t terribly bothered by this turn of events. Brave could get it as far as he was concerned.

He instead sought out the host of this illustrious party (read: group of teenagers drinking 4Loko and slowly stripping away their formalwear) but, again, his figurative princess was in another castle. Ushio as well as Mikage were absent. And from his own party. Rude. Crow eyed the open cooler and was about to make a move for it when a hand touched his arm. He turned and there was Aki. The flag went up and, in his head, Toad happily informed him that he had found at least one princess.

“Aki! Hi!”

“You say that like you didn’t see me twenty minutes ago.”

“It was a long twenty minutes, okay?”

She cracked a small smile and he cracked one back, both of them smiling in a sort of mutual affection. Crow had never really entertained the notion of hooking up with Aki. He felt like she was too good for him, to be honest. In a shoddy erotica novel, she would be the princess and he would be the stable boy. Granted, in most shoddy erotica novels, said princess and said stable boy ended up doing the nasty in a bale of hay but that was why Crow was shit at making comparisons.

“You want something to drink?” she asked, pointing to the cooler.

Crow shook his head. “I’m good.”

“You? Turning down anything that will alter your perceptions?”

“I am a man of many surprises.”

A small smile ghosted across her face as she said, “I think I’d like to find out some of them.”

A witty reply was on the tip of his tongue but it tumbled and fell back down his throat. Had their continuous exchange of witty repartee somehow delved into flirting? His cheeks heated up and Crow began to rethink his refusal of booze.

--

“This doesn’t look like Ushio’s house.”

“That’s because it isn’t, Bruno.”

“Oh.”

He rolled over in the passenger seat and rested his head against the window. After the prom, Yusei had decided that he wasn’t in the mood to make an ass out of himself and Bruno had clearly had enough. He came to the decision to forgo the party. It wasn’t like he’d miss much (if anything) anyway. After making this decision, he veered Bruno’s car in the opposite direction, heading for the glowing sanctuary of half-drunk, tired-ass teens (and young adults) everywhere: Steak & Shake.

Bruno had all but sobered up but was now, apparently, incredibly sleepy. He figured that some soda and food would get him back to his regular self. He hauled him out of the car and dragged him into the establishment, which was nearly empty. It surprised Yusei as he figured that a lot of stragglers who didn’t have parties to go to would turn up here.

He slipped into a liver red booth and was a bit surprised when Bruno slid in next to him as opposed to across and dropped his head heavily on his shoulder.

“I want cheese fries.”

Tentatively, Yusei reached out and rubbed his back. “Okay, Bruno. You can have cheese fries.”

He tilted his face towards his and he noticed that his eyes were filled to the brim with tears.

“I really want cheese fries.”

Yusei awkwardly grabbed napkins from the dispenser with the hand not rubbing Bruno’s back and dabbed at his wet eyes with a wad of them.

“What’ll you boys have?” A waitress whose voice denoted that she had more than a passing acquaintance with cigarettes came up to them, pad in hand.

“Cheese fries,” Yusei said. “And, uh, I’ll have that burger that has butter on it—the Wisconsin one. And um…he’ll have a…Coke?”

A distressed sob from Bruno.

“Diet Coke.”

The waitress gave him a sympathetic look and asked, “What do you want to drink?”

“Milk.”

Bruno lifted his head and stared at the waitress.

“Can I also have that burger with the egg on it?”

“Sure thing, sweet pea.”

Satisfied, he dropped his head back onto Yusei’s shoulder. The waitress put her pen back in her apron and smiled at them with all of her slightly yellowed (possibly capped) teeth.

“Did you boys have a good time at prom?”

“I rocked my bootie,” Yusei replied dully.

“Do you need to see a doctor for that?”

He considered this for a second before shaking his head. The waitress left them, then, to go put their order in.

“Yusei…” Bruno lifted his head again. “You’re so good to me. Why are you so good to me? You are a good person, Yusei, you know that? You are the actual best person. I love you.”

“And I think you’re still drunk.”

Actually, drunk or no, Yusei’s heart did a little skip (or possible palpitation he’d have to see a doctor about) when Bruno said he loved him.

“I…love you, too, Bruno.”

“Like you love milk?”

“More.”

There was a good chance that Bruno was still drunk as he was beyond a lightweight and that he would not remember any of this in the morning but it did not stop Yusei’s spirits from lifting at being able to tell him how he felt about him.

Their drinks came and Bruno somehow managed to unwrap his straw and dunk it in his soda before taking a long sip. Yusei took small drinks of his milk, watching him out of the corner of his eye.

“That’s good,” Bruno said, speaking more into his soda than to Yusei.

--

Carly was wearing another man’s clothes. Granted, they were Crow’s clothes but the intent was the same. After their initial hook-up, Jack took her to his house so he could change. His foster mom was asleep (as it was nearing one in the morning) so they had to slip in through the door like shadows. None of Jack’s clothes fit her so he pilfered some cargo shorts and a t-shirt from Crow’s drawers.

Now they were sitting in the parking lot of Steak & Shake, sitting on his motorcycle and not speaking. It was a sort of amiable silence as they listened to the throaty chirping of cicadas mingling with the low buzz of the neon lights.

“I do like you,” Jack said finally. “I mean, this wasn’t just…’oh it’s prom; let’s fuck.’ I do like you…but didn’t think…you…liked me.”

He was speaking jerkily and as though he wasn’t sure of what he was saying. Like he wasn’t used to speaking frankly about emotions and maybe he wasn’t.

“I do!” she said back too loudly although that may have been obvious since she wouldn’t have ended up bare-ass naked with him if she hadn’t liked him. “I mean…I realized I liked you and all of a sudden, I couldn’t talk to you.”

They had had a few conversations back before, when they were bent over Bunsen burners or measuring chemicals. She remembered vividly a day when Jack just asked her if she wanted kids. Apparently, he was doing a project in health class about raising an egg or something and asked her that. She hadn’t been sure at the time.

Jack had closed his eyes and said, “Remember that field trip we all took to DC back in ninth grade?” When she nodded, he continued with, “No one noticed but Crow and I spent that entire trip stoned out of our minds.” Actually, Carly recalled, several people had noticed. She had asked for what the connection was (idly wondering if he was stoned then) and Jack had replied, “All I want out of my kid is to be better than me.” “You’re not a particularly bad person, Jack,” she’d argued. “But I’m not a particularly good one either…I just want a kid who’s not going to get caught smoking pot behind the Lincoln Memorial.” “You did that?” She’d been incredulous. “Either that or it was really good weed and I was looking at a penny.”

Brought back to reality, Carly leaned forward and wrapped her arms around his waist.

“Well, we can talk now,” she said. Fantastic job, dear girl. Pointing out the obvious once again.

Jack turned his head slightly and a sort of self-satisfied smirk formed on his face. “Yeah…so…how was your first time?”

Her head snapped up. “You could tell?!”

He hopped off of the motorcycle and fixed the crotch of his jeans before saying, “Yeah. I’ve had a lot of sex.”

Carly’s face burned as she dismounted. She would have been silly to think that it was also Jack’s first time but to just hear him say it so flippantly was a bit disarming.

“Has it been with…a lot of girls?”

His purple eyes lit up. “Oh, loads. They used to queue up outside my bedroom. Crow and Yusei’d have to give them numbers like the deli.”

She couldn’t tell if he was joking or not and began to rethink going into the Steak & Shake with him. Besides, her parents were probably expecting her back before sunrise.

“Jack…”

He took his fingers and placed them under her chin.

“But I think this is different.” He tilted her face up to meet his and gently pressed a kiss to her lips. “It’s not...feelings, usually. And this is…fuck, I’m going to stop. Let’s go in.”

He dropped his hand and started towards the restaurant. A bit confused, Carly followed him. She had felt like he had been on the cusp of saying something important but backed down.

In the Steak & Shake, she saw that Jack had already flopped into a populated booth. A booth populated by Yusei and Bruno at that. She came and sat but couldn’t help but feel like they both had walked in on an intimate moment.

“Did it finally happen?” Jack asked. “Did you two—OW!”

Yusei had jerked quickly in order to kick Jack hard in the leg. They glared daggers at one another, speaking that silent language only siblings (which they pretty much were) could.

“No, my fries haven’t gotten here yet,” Bruno said in such an earnest voice that Carly couldn’t tell if he honestly had no idea as to what Jack was referring.

“Is he still drunk?” Jack asked. He was half-bent over to rub his injured shin and was nearly the same height as everyone else now.

Yusei shrugged. Carly noticed how tired and defeated he looked. She knew that look. The sad look of wondering if who you loved would ever love you back. Yusei looked like he’d been wondering for a long time.

--

Ushio’s house had a porch swing in the front that was mercifully empty when Crow had gone to escape the party. Things in the basement were too claustrophobic. Was Aki flirting with him? Why did his stomach dip like that? How many licks did it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop? Outside, there weren’t many people due to it getting colder as night began its slow fade into day. Kiryu was leaning against a porch railing, puffing on one of his cloves and eyeing Crow through the smoke.

“What’s your damage?” he asked, fuming like some sort of dragon in a crumpled, rented tux.

Kiryu always felt a bit left out in their quartet at school and it showed. He was a bit jealous that Crow, Yusei, and Jack all literally grew up together. Sometimes he got pissed. Or maybe he was pissed because Crow’s entrance had interrupted his alone time with his cigarette.

Before he could answer, the door opened and Aki stepped out. She was wearing a heavy-looking jacket over her dress that she’d probably pilfered from Ushio. Somehow, she still looked like a princess. Kiryu’s eyes flicked between both of them before he sighed and left to go smoke by someone’s car.

Aki sat next to him on the porch swing and, instinctively, Crow inched away.

“You okay?” she asked, tilting her head to the side in confusion. Whatever band she had been using to pin her hair back all night had gone missing and strands of red hair were spilling down over her forehead. Crow fought the urge to push it back for her.

“I dunno,” he answered truthfully.

“You ran out of there pretty fast…”

“I have to get home before sunrise.”

Aki lifted a brow. “Really?”

“Yep. Sleep all day. Party all night. Never grow old. Never die. It’s fun to be a vampire.”

“Isn’t that the tagline to Lost Boys?”

“It’s not-not the tagline to Lost Boys.”

She laughed a little and he laughed back but it was an awkward sort of chuckle that merely gurgled in his throat.

“No…I do need to be back before, though. Or else Martha’ll have the entire National Guard hunting us all down.”

“But that’s not why you left.”

He contemplated lying but then shook his head. “No, it’s not.”

“Then what was it?” She pinched Ushio’s coat more tightly around herself. Crow hadn’t noticed the cold but he was in layers. Aki was not.

“I…it’s…you know my whole thing with relationships, right?”

“About how you hate them? Yes.”

He chewed on his lower lip until he tasted blood. For some reason, it steeled him to go on.

“Well I never got that…feeling before. Like I hook up with people and there’s no…connection. Like, no flip-thing, butterfly thing. But, then I did feel it and I didn’t even hook up with them and—shit, word vomit. But basically I’m just wondering if maybe that relationship stuff isn’t…so out of it for me if I can feel flip-things for them.”

Aki was looking at him with her brow furrowed as though she had no idea what he had just said and he couldn’t blame her. He had no idea what he just said.

“Crow, what are you—?”

“I like you,” he blurted. “Like, flip-thing, butterflies like you. I like-like you, Aki. And it’s confusing as shit because I’m not used to…that sort of…connection.”

“And when did you—?”

“About ten minutes ago. It was a revelation from the skies. A realization that I, Crow Lindsey Hogan, totally have a flip-thing crush on Aki—that’s you.”

“Lindsey? Your middle name is Lindsey?”

He glared at her. “That’s what you got from that? Aki, I am admitting my warm feelings for you and you are preoccupied with the fact that my middle name is—”

Aki cut him off by leaning in and kissing him square on the mouth. It was possibly the only way to properly shut him up short of chopping his head off. Even then Crow figured he’d probably still yammer on.

He tilted his head deepened the kiss. Aki’s hands went to the base of his head to keep the angle right as they both subconsciously kicked their legs back and forth to move the swing.

They broke apart eventually and looked at one another for a brief moment where they may or may not have been infinite (Crow wasn’t ready to romanticize it that far).

“Crow, that was—”

“Wanna go to Steak & Shake?”

Aki twisted her mouth and said, “Only if you stop cutting me off.”

“Deal.”

They rose and, at the same time, tried to hold hands. This ended with their knuckles bumping comically and near painfully together.

“Wait,” Aki said suddenly. “I should tell Ushio I’m borrowing his coat. Come on.”

She took Crow’s hand and led him into the house where drunken revelers had moved into the living room and were jumping around to a Miley Cyrus song of all things. Aki approached Misty and touched her arm with the hand not holding Crow’s.

“Hey, have you seen U—”

“SO I PUT MY HANDS UP, THEY’RE PLAYING MY SONG! THE BUTTERFLIES FLY AWAY!”

Deciding she was beyond drunk, they absconded to the kitchen where they finally located their host. Ushio had Mikage up on the counter, neither of them realizing that they were A: in public and B: where Ushio had to eat breakfast the next morning. Her dress was down at her waist, exposing her completely bare breasts. They stood in the kitchen for a moment, both unsure how to proceed.

“Don’t worry,” Crow assured her. “I got this. I’ve accidentally walked in on Jack a bunch of times.”

“Really?”

“We share a room.”

He disengaged their hands and roughly grabbed Ushio’s shoulder to get his attention.

“Aki’s borrowing your coat. She’ll give it to you Monday.”

He drunkenly gave them a thumbs up before returning to his arduous task of covering Mikage’s neck and chest with hickies.

They turned to each other and smiled in a way that didn’t seem to denote that they were sharing floor space with two of their friends who were practically doing it against the cabinets.

“Shall we?” Crow held out his hand.

“We shall.”

--

Yusei pushed the last of his fries around a puddle of ketchup on his plate and sighed. Across from him, Jack was slurping up a milkshake. This was in addition to the triple bacon burger he had gotten. His excuse was a smirk followed by, “I’m starving.” Said sentence made Carly turn positively purple. Yusei had already gathered that they had slept together. Why else would Carly be wearing Crow’s clothes? Well, Yusei could think of several other reasons but they didn’t quite make sense to him.

He cast his gaze over to Bruno who had apparently sobered up and was happily drinking the beginnings of his second soda. He fought back a sigh yet again. He wondered if he remembered what they said to each other or if it was just drunken babbling. In the case of the latter, Yusei hoped he didn’t recall how he had told him his feelings back. He didn’t want Bruno to think he was taking care of him tonight because he expected something back. He loved Bruno but if Bruno didn’t love him back he’d just, well, he’d get over it. Eventually.

It was that what he felt for Bruno wasn’t just hot pepper lust—it was real. A “flip-thing” as Crow would call it. The thought of him, honestly, made Yusei want to cry and the last time he cried (while sober as he was evidently prone to puking and crying at the same time while telling his friends how much they meant to him while drunk) was when he was nine and broke his wrist after falling off of the jungle gym.

“Hey, baby-flies.”

Yusei was pulled rudely from his reverie but the ever-familiar intonations of Crow. He looked up to see that he was standing at the end of their booth, his hand in Aki’s. Way back when, he and Aki used to date. Of course that “way back when” was in eighth grade and “used to date” was “dated for a week just so they could make out with each other.”

“That’s a new utterly bizarre term of endearment,” Bruno said brightly, apparently back to his usual self. “I like it.”

Crow grinned broadly, showing off the fact that his canines were just a bit longer than the norm for no reason ever adequately explained by dental health professionals. He noticed, outside his mini-fangs, that Crow was hand in hand with Aki. Crow was never hand-in-hand with anyone. It was usually hand-down-pants.

Jack, mouth full of burger, indicated to them and raised his eyebrows in prompting.

“Oh, we’re implementing the buddy system,” Crow explained. “Can’t ever be too careful.”

Aki rolled her eyes in a good-natured sort of way. Yusei felt kind of sick. They were already at good-natured eye rolls. They were at good-natured eye rolls and Bruno had spent the night trying to force him to rock his bootie. He didn’t want to feel resentful of his friends and their evidently successful and fortuitous prom nights but he was feeling pretty crappy at the very least.

“So you two are dating?” Carly asked.

Aki and Crow glanced at each other before she replied, “We’re trying it out. This…boyfriend-girlfriend thing. But it’s not going to be a big thing.”

“It’s not Facebook Official is what she means,” Crow put in.

“Please stop,” Jack garbled through a mouth still crammed with food.

The four of them all sort of smiled in a mutual “our tale had a happy ending for now” sort of way and Yusei saw Jack shift a little and Carly shift a little and figured that they were holding hands now, too.

Without any sort of fanfare or build-up, hot tears pressed against his lower eyelids and dangerously threatened to make a bid for freedom. For some asinine reason, Yusei was reminded of biology class way back in ninth grade. He and Jack had had to dissect a planarian worm. While they sliced him to show how he could survive being halved, the teacher waxed poetic on fight or flight. Yusei usually opted for fight (though his choice was usually words unless someone really pushed him) but sitting in a Steak & Shake at two thirty in the morning surrounded by happy couples with the boy he loved utterly oblivious to his affections, he decided to switch tactics. To whit, Yusei ran.

He ran out of the booth and out of the Steak & Shake and nearly ran into Bruno’s car but remembered at the last second that the keys were still in the restaurant. He collapsed against the car and let the tears out in a tidal wave of sadness. He dropped down and shivered on the ground, taking in huge gasps as tears rolled down his face at a frightening pace. Kiryu had a theory that some people could be cute when they cried: their lower lip would stick out and their eyes would widen and all the people in the direct vicinity would want to hug them. Yusei, he had continued, was not one of those people. He rarely cried (again, sober) but when he did, it was a great mass of tears and snot to the point where he looked like he was a Harryhausen monstrosity.

“Yusei?” The voice seemed thousands of miles away.

He was dimly aware of someone putting their hand on his back and crouching next to him and speaking in a concerned voice but what they were actually saying wasn’t registering.

A few minutes of heaving sobs later, he finally realized that it was Bruno who had come outside to his aid.

“Are you okay? What’s wrong?”

Yusei turned to face him—or what he figured was his face as it was a distorted image through his tear-streaked vision—and took in a ragged breath.

“What’s wrong?”

Don’t do it. Don’t do it.

“I’m in love with you, Bruno! That’s what’s wrong!”

Way to go, Fudo…

“You’re in—”

“Love! L-O-V-E! L IS FOR THE WAY YOU LOOK AT ME! And I can’t…and you don’t and I don’t…and—and everyone is happy and I’m sitting there and you’re being you and I just. I-I…”

He had reached the point of no return. He was blathering and ranting and raving and, worst of all, figuratively vomiting all of his feelings for Bruno right to his face with neither of them being drunk as a potential buffer.

Bruno leaned forward and pulled him into a hug. It was a solid, warm sort of hug and Yusei nearly collapsed into it. He hadn’t even known he was holding in that much tension and whiny teen angst to fall so dramatically into that hug. He wrapped his arms around him back and hung on.

“It’s okay,” Bruno whispered. It wasn’t lost on Yusei even in his current state that he was using the voice he usually reserved for a particularly scared or skittish stray cat.

“I’m sorry,” Yusei mumbled damply into his besuited shoulder.

“Shoosh,” was the soothing reply as Bruno’s hand gently stroked the back of his head.

They stayed like that for awhile: uncomfortably squatting on the cold asphalt of Steak & Shake’s parking lot while Yusei quieted down and Bruno stroked his head.

“Yusei…” Bruno said finally.

He managed only a grunt from his current position. The other boy eased him off of his shoulder so their eyes met.

“I love you, too.”

And Yusei knew it was love because Bruno kissed him then, and didn’t seem to mind the dried snot all over his face.

--

Monday morning marked a small change in the social lives of those that mattered at the school. It was small in that many aspects of the current dynamic were not changed. Sherry and Misty were still holding hands and kissing between classes. Kiryu still hid by the bomb shelter during lunch to smoke his cigarettes. Mikage and Ushio were still together even though she was complaining about how he left so many hickies on her that her parents thought she had some kind of pox.

Now, though, Bommer and Brave were seen with their hands loosely in each other’s back pockets as they walked through the hallways. Jack and Carly arrived together (on foot since school rules prohibited his motorcycle) and all but made out in front of the bay of lockers outside the chemistry classroom. Crow and Aki were seen being incredibly close by the cafeteria. Yusei and Bruno held hands on the way to math class.

And over the intercom (because, apparently, no one got their fill at prom) were the ever present Jock Jams to serve as a warning for students to get to class.

  • 1
OH MY GOD RUBY

oh my god I have all the feelings and I loved all of this but especially the Jack/Carly bits and alshgkdhgsiohge how he's not to too good about talking about feelings but he's trying because he wants her to know it wasn't a random thing and akhgshgghksdghlskhg
asgklhldgsgsdlkhglhsghlksahshfuiehg

akhfxvn,dnlkaghoeahgiohgldnvldbj

Aaah this makes me so happy and fjaioeruwoeikaoeko

I love them so muh-uh-uuuuch

and thank youuu

  • 1
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