Careful What You Wish For
Takano Masamune had always been taller―at least he was from where Onodera Ritsu always saw him. Sometimes, Onodera thought maybe he was just short, but no matter what, even back in high school, he remembered that he always had to turn his head up just a bit to be able to see his face clearly.
He was thinking of that now, and he wasn't sure why that was what he was thinking about, as he sat uncomfortably still with a fork in his trembling hand and a plate of half-eaten food in front of him. "Takano-san…"
The older man gazed at him, his expression serious and his amber eyes somber behind his glasses. Onodera had always liked that Takano wore glasses, but he realized now he had never said it out loud.
Takano was waiting for a response but expecting not to like what he would hear―Onodera knew the expression and he regretted it.
He couldn't remember the last time they had seen eye to eye but it squeezed at something inside of him when he realized that lately all they ever did was argue. Sometimes the things they fought over didn't even make sense to him and he felt silly for being bothered by them. And he wanted to be okay with this person and he wanted to be content and for Takano to not look at him as if he was so terribly sad, but that was not how things were.
"You have nothing to say now, do you?" Takano sighed softly and finally turned his eyes away.
"I―you always do this! It isn't fair!" swallowing, Onodera felt his words curl back up inside of him and he felt the butterflies that had once fluttered inside of him at the sight of this person shrivel up and die.
Takano's eyes squinted at him, "What? Worrying about you? That's just what proper boyfriends do, Ritsu."
Ritsu. There it was―the one thing he hadn't wanted to hear; his own name coming from that mouth made his heart race. Onodera's face colored from his ears to his neck and he put the fork down, standing up and clenching his fists. "I'm not a child and I can take care of myself!"
"No, you can't!" Takano stood up now, too, a crease between his eyebrows.
It was always hard to tell what he was thinking; just like in high school, the range of his expressions was minimal and still the same. Quietly somber, patiently irritated, and with rare smiles that had become less and less frequent.
"You w-were out of line earlier and you can't admit you were wrong! You can't just snap at everyone that comes near me because you're ...what, insecure?" Onodera felt confused and flustered and he wanted to stop arguing.
"Onodera," Takano stepped forward and Onodera knew what was coming.
The sudden closeness was startling but never unfamiliar, and he felt how firm Takano's hands were around his wrists and it was hot everywhere the other touched him. Of course, Onodera pulled back because this just wasn't the time. He miscalculated their steps and they both ended up falling to the floor.
"Stop―" he tried to turn his face, squeezing his eyes shut.
He started to pull away, but when he did Takano moved forward and his dark eyes were watching him intently, until Onodera was closer, until he was being kissed by him, and until he was pulling back.
"No!" his eyes burned and Onodera pushed the taller man away, glaring at him as he stood up and rubbed his face. "You always do that! You can't fix everything with a, with a k-kiss!"
Takano stood up, too, clenching his own hands and looking back at him. "You're overreacting."
"Now I'm the one who's overreacting? Are you even listening to me?" Onodera stepped back and frustratingly ran his hands through his hair. "You never listen to me, ever since I said that I, that I lo―feel the same way you do you've been strange!"
"I just don't trust him around you!" Takano tried to step forward.
Onodera shook his head and stepped back again, "Can't you at least trust me? I chose you, and when you act like this… I f-feel like you don't trust me! Sometimes I just hate you!"
Takano's expression was stunned but quickly became blank and he dropped his arms to his sides. He gazed steadily at the green eyed man and the passiveness in his own eyes was alarming and it made Onodera nervous.
"I m-mean," it was suddenly hot in the room for a completely different reason and Onodera stuttered to take back his words. But it was hard to swallow down a word as cruel as that one. "I d―it w―I was, T-Takano-s-san―! Wait!"
But the other man had abruptly reached forward and grabbed Onodera by the arm, being almost careless as he yanked him towards the door, pushing him outside of the apartment and letting go of him. He didn't cross the doorway; he just sighed and gave him an unreadable expression. But the look in his eyes made Onodera's stomach hurt.
"Takano-san?" Onodera raised his arms when the door slammed shut in front of him and he was alone.
He understood what it was like to be alone. Sometimes, he wondered what kinds of things Takano must have felt after they had parted ways back in high school. Then he remembered what he had felt during that time―the sadness and the hollow emptiness and it made something bitter curl around his heart, so he didn't remember it anymore.
Shuffling into his apartment, Onodera closed the door behind him and leaned against it for a moment, looking down at his feet and missing his shoes.
The floor had never felt that cold.
After getting ready for bed, he crawled under the covers and realized how exhausted the whole ordeal had actually left him. He gazed tiredly at his ceiling, feeling strangely out of place because he had become accustomed to Takano's ceiling instead.
"Hate is a strong word…" hugging a pillow to his chest, he squeezed his eyes shut and sighed. "I have to take it back. I wish to go back…"
The sun was bright as it streamed through the curtains and it woke Ritsu gradually, making him roll over on his bed to avoid the light. In the fog of his sleep, there were memories surfacing in the back of his head that he hadn't thought of in years but they were so clear to him―as if they had happened only yesterday.
"Mm…" it took him a moment, but Ritsu sat up abruptly and with a gasp when he realized he was going to be late for work; "Oh!"
In a panic, he stumbled out of bed and untangled himself from his covers― "Wh…" he stopped when he realized the comforter in his bed was a different color from the one he had gone to sleep with. Turning around, he looked at his bed, brushing his hair out of his eyes as he took in the details of his surroundings. The bed he had woken up in was huge―the dresser, the curtains, and the carpet was all the same from his childhood bedroom. "I…is this a d-dream?"
Ritsu looked down at his sleeping clothes and he recognized them from his youth and alarm bells started going off in his head as he quickly turned around and found what he was looking for. There, right behind him, was his bookshelf―taking up an entire wall of his bedroom, towering high into the ceiling, books cramped into every single bit of available space. Ritsu dropped the covers on the bed and shuffled over to it, noticing that his feet were not cold on the carpet that had replaced the wood floors of his apartment.
He figured it would be difficult for him to remember where he had once kept his favorite books but his hands skimmed the shelves and his fingers found the familiar spines easily. The words on the pages blurred and he put the book back, feeling confused and dazed as he looked around his bedroom and felt as if he was still fifteen years old.
Ritsu walked over to his bathroom―or rather, to the bathroom of his bedroom from over ten years before, and when he turned on the light and looked in the mirror, he screamed.
"Wh-what!? What's going on?" he looked down at his hands and then leaned over the sink and peered at himself in the mirror. "I'm… I'm fifteen again!"
Ritsu put his hands on his face and turned his head from side to side, taking in the shocked expression on his young face before pushing back his hair, blinking his bright green eyes and trying not to have a panic attack. His frame was definitely smaller and he was more limber and awkward, just as he had been at the age he saw now in the mirror.
"I wished to go back…" it suddenly dawned on him. "But not this back!? I just wanted to take it back, that I hate him, I don't hate him. This is... it, I'm dreaming, this is, this is a dream, I'm dreaming I've―wake up! Wake up―this is―this can't be r-real!"
But it seemed that it was and Ritsu stepped back from the mirror, holding his hands up to his chest and adjusting the collar of his sleeping shirt, running his fingers up his neck and squinting when he saw the marks under his shirt.
Leaning into the mirror again, he tilted his head to the side and felt his face start to get hot as he blushed. "Saga-senpai…" he murmured at the sight of the kiss marks, and then he gasped when he realized, "I'm late for school."
It felt absurd and strange to be in his school uniform after ten plus years of not having worn it, but Ritsu had a strange sense of responsibility as he looked up at high school building and walked in through the gates. His school work was complete in his bag and his books were neatly tucked away next to it, though he didn't remember what it was about, he distinctly remembered sitting down next to Saga-senpai and completing it before being distracted by the other.
Ritsu felt nervous for some reason and he stopped walking halfway to the front steps, looking up at the sky and feeling uneasy. He was standing there, when someone walked up behind him and pressed up against his back.
"Huh?!" he turned around quickly and nearly jumped out of his skin before he realized who it was that was there. His heart skipped a beat and Ritsu stammered when he spoke, "S-Saga-senpai!"
Those softly stoic and quietly sad golden eyes gazed down at him and Saga stood with his hands in his pockets, his school bag hanging off his shoulder. "Where were you this morning?"
"Uh…?" hard as he tried, Ritsu couldn't remember what they had meant to be doing that morning and he looked confused. "S-s-sorry?"
"We were going to walk to school together," Saga's voice was soft as he spoke.
Ritsu his felt his heart thud in his chest in a familiar way―but it felt odd because it was different from how he felt when he looked at Takano. His skin felt hot everywhere and he felt his stomach squeezing the butterflies that fluttered inside of him. "I was… I'm s-sorry!"
The older boy just looked at him quietly for a brief moment before looking away. "That's fine, I'll see you later."
"Okay…" in his shock from seeing the boy at that age in that time, Ritsu could only nod and watch him walk away.
I'm dreaming, I'm dreaming, I'm dreaming, I'm dreaming… Ritsu went through the rest of the school day unfocused and alarmed by the bizarre events that were happening to him. The nostalgia of it all was giving him a headache and his world felt like it was spinning around him.
Moments after school let out, a couple of boys he almost remembered from that time in his life asked him questions, but in his dazed and panicked state, Ritsu excused himself to the toilet and ran away from them before they realized something was off.
In the toilet, Ritsu washed his face and looked at himself in the mirror. Growing up, he hadn't hated school―there were areas he had been rubbish at but there were other areas where he had excelled and he had a neutral view on his academic life. The part of his youth where Saga Masamune had been included in was something entirely different and Ritsu gazed at his reflection with a sad feeling in his stomach.
Without thinking, he raised his hands to his hair and combed his fingers through it, brushing it forward and into his face like he knew he would eventually start wearing it as an adult. For a brief moment as he looked at himself he saw the adult he would someday become and felt a pang when he realized how much he missed Takano-san. But it had only been a day―which made him wonder now, how long would he be stuck in that bizarre world of his younger self?
Ritsu ducked out of the toilets and walked down the hall without direction, but of course his feet led him straight to the library and he felt immediately relaxed by the familiarity. The books, the posters, even the girl at the counter were all still exactly the same as he remembered from that time.
He made his way towards his favorite section, trying to see if he remembered all of the books he had read in that time, and he ran straight into, of course, Saga-senpai.
"Uh, s-sorry," Ritsu stepped back and ducked his head.
"Hello," the taller boy looked down at him.
"H-hi," peering up at the other, Ritsu held the strap of his bag tightly with his fingers.
There was a crease between Saga's eyebrows now and Ritsu was startled back as the tall boy reached up with one hand and ruffled Ritsu's hair, brushing it back with his fingers and then tilting Ritsu's face up to look at him. "Ritsu…"
Badump. Ritsu's pulse sped up and he realized he hadn't put his hair back to how he had once kept it as a teenager. "Uh, y-yes?"
"You look older with your hair that way," Saga's expression was hard to read as he said this and Ritsu wasn't sure if it was a good or bad thing. The boy turned around to start heading off the school campus. "Come on, let's go."
"Where are we going?" Ritsu fixed his hair and looked up at the other boy, still blushing, and he felt a heavy sense of nostalgia as he watched those broad shoulders flex when Saga-senpai turned his head to look back at him.
Saga raised an eyebrow, "To the bookstore, you said you wanted to go."
"Uh… what day is it?" Ritsu raised his head to look at the sky.
"…?" the dark-haired boy turned back to him and looked at him evenly. "Are you feeling okay?"
Ritsu felt flustered now and he shook his head, feeling knots in his stomach and a fluttering feeling he had almost forgotten from his high school years. The warmth in his stomach and in his chest made his head fuzzy and he wondered what kind of expression was on his face. "Y-yeah, I'm okay let's… let's go, okay?"
"Hm…" the older boy looked around at the vacating campus, watching the students heading to their homes or club activities, and he quickly reached up and ruffled Ritsu's hair. "Tell me if you feel unwell. We're supposed to be together, right? Your health is important to me."
Nodding his head, Ritsu blushed at the contact but all he could squeak was, "Yes, okay."