Helping Out
Part Eight

Once he was positive that Hikoichi had gone, Rukawa pulled away from Kogure, a small, satisfied smirk on his lips.  " Hey, I hope you didn't mind."

Kogure stared at him.  One hand raised to his lips, slightly breathless.  " Mind?  Why...?"

" That I grabbed you like that."  Rukawa explained softly.  Maybe he shouldn't have done that.  The guy looked as though he was ready to pass out.  " I mean, since I knew you weren't a homophobic or something, I thought it would be all right with you if I kissed you."

" What?"  He demanded, still not understanding most of what he was saying.  He was still reeling from the shock of what had just happened.  He couldn't believe it!  Rukawa...Kaede had just kissed him.  Only Hisashi's heart fluttering kisses had ever had this much effect on him!

" I just noticed Hikoichi spying on us by the bushes over there."  Rukawa gestured vaguely towards the general direction.  " And I thought since Akira seemed so interested in what the two of us were up to, I might as well give him something exciting to find out about!  Did you mind terribly?"

He must have heard wrong.  Clearing his throat, Kogure removed his glasses and polished the lenses studiously, taking some time to compose himself before he spoke.  " It was all because of Akira?" He asked, trying to appear as nonchalant as was humanly possible when it felt as though your heart was being ripped into tiny shreds.

" Yeah.  He's been showing Koshino off-"

" So you just thought you might as well show me off too, huh?" Kogure demanded, swallowing back the lump in his throat.  He wasn't going to cry.  No way.  He hadn't done that since the day that he had broken up with Hisashi and there was no way that he was going to reveal to Rukawa the way that he felt about him.  Not now that it was so obvious that the guy couldn't care less about him.  Mitsui had been right.  He should have listened to him.  " What the hell made you think that I would go for such a stupid plan just to get you your precious Akira back?"

Rukawa retreated a few steps, startled by the anger on his face.  He had never seen Kogure like this before in all the time that he had known the guy! " Hey.  I'm sorry!  It's obvious that I've upset you...I shouldn't have done that.  It was just that I thought that you wouldn't mind-"

" You're right, Rukawa-san.  You shouldn't have."  Kogure snapped, turning his back on him.  He couldn't even face him right then.  He couldn't believe the guy...How could he do this to him?  He had been so happy!  For a while there, he had actually been stupid enough to think that maybe he was getting what he wanted, that Rukawa had chosen him over Sendo when all the while he had only been using him as part of a plan to try and get the only guy that he loved back!  Choking back a sob, he grabbed his bag from the ground.  " You shouldn't toy around with people and their emotions like that, Rukawa.  But then of course, I guess you wouldn't know what emotions are, would you?  Everyone was right.  You are just a selfish bastard with no feelings."

" Hey, Kogure-kun...Please..."  Rukawa tried to grab his arm in an attempt to calm him down.  He didn't know what he was getting so worked up about but he certainly didn't want the only friend that he had in this world to get angry at him.  " You have to understand.  I just want Akira-"

" I know, Rukawa.  That's why I hope our little kiss there has the desired effect.  I hope things work out for you.  You and Sendo Akira deserve each other."  Kogure told him, throwing the framed picture back at him before walking away as rapidly as he could without actually having to break out into a run.  He didn't want Rukawa to see the tears that he had been unable to hold back.

Oh God!  Sendo buried his face in his hands.  With a soft groan, he threw the cordless phone onto his bed.  " I sounded desperate, didn't I?"

" You want the truth, Sendo-san?"

" No...I mean, yes..."

" Yeah.  Pretty desperate." Hikoichi replied, a sympathetic smile on his lips.  He had never seen Sendo as worked up as he was at this particular moment.  " But don't worry.  He probably would want you to grovel a bit anyways."

" Grovel?"  Sendo repeated, looking up.  He had never needed to do such a thing in his life, his natural charm and good looks always working in his favor.

" Yeah, I mean, he'll probably want you to beg a bit..."

" If that's what it takes for me to get him back, then I will..."  Sendo replied stoically, his eyes fixed on his phone, willing it to ring.  " I have to have him back, Hikoichi.  I won't let that Kogure have him without a fight.  Rukawa belongs to me.  Not to that loser."

" Hey, Kaede-kun? You there, Kaede-kun?  If you are, pick up!  Come on...Pick up!"  There were a few
seconds of silence, then a soft sigh.  " I...Well, I guess that means you're out then, huh?  Listen, Kaede.  Me and Koshino...It's over.  It never really meant anything to me in the first place.  He was just something to keep my mind off how lonely I've been ever since I was stupid enough to let you go...Nothing at all...I just want...I just want to talk to you.  Please... Tomorrow.  Around four, by the basketball court.  Please Kaede?  Please?  Just another chance...I can't...I...Just please come."

Rukawa pressed the button on the answering machine so that he could listen to the message again for the fifth time.  He was getting what he wanted.  It seemed as though Akira Sendo was buckling and was just about ready to take him back again.  He was pleased.  Definitely.  This was what he had been aiming for, wasn't it?  And yet, in the process, he had managed to do something that he had never reckoned on.  He had managed to unwittingly hurt the best friend that he had ever had.

He really hadn't expected that sort of reaction from Kogure.  He supposed that it had been stupid of him to do something like that out of some impulse to hurt Akira as much as he possibly could.  Of course the guy had been shocked.  He should have taken the time to explain his actions but did what he do really warrant that kind of reaction from Kogure?  Was the prospect of kissing him so horrible that the older boy had gotten that mad at him?

And he hadn't exactly seemed to repulse him while they were at it.  Kogure had responded pretty well and Rukawa had discovered that he was really a very good kisser.  He had seemed to enjoy it so what the hell happened?  He just couldn't get the guy.

He hadn't thought that Kogure would mind helping him out but obviously he had pushed it a bit too far.  The guy was giving, yeah, but how much could one really get before giving something in return.  Looking back now, it really had been sort of a one sided relationship.  The guy was already tutoring him and spending all that time with him and now suddenly, he wanted even more.  Wanted him to pretend that they were some sort of couple just to spite Akira.  Yeah.  It was all his fault.  He should have thought it through before asking Kogure to take part of something that stupid.  He hadn't even asked.  He had just grabbed him and done what he had wanted without any prior warning whatsoever. Kogure was right, he really was a thoughtless bastard.

What he couldn't understand was what Kogure had meant when he had said that he shouldn't play around with other people's feelings.  Whose feelings had he been talking about?  Akira's?  He supposed that it was sort of an underhanded way to go about things but he hadn't had much choice.  He was only doing what Akira himself had done.

His gaze fell on the ruined frame around the portrait that he had worked on.  He'd just buy another one and give it to Kogure the next day at school as he apologized and thanked him for all his help.  It was because of the guy that he was getting Akira back after all!  His Akira.  All he had to do was to call Akira back and tell him that he was ready to talk and the good looking young basketball star would be all his once more.  The thing was that he couldn't keep Kogure out of his mind.

No, he decided, picking up his phone and punching in a number.  his apology couldn't wait until the next day.  It had to be done right now.  He couldn't let Kogure go to bed angry at him.  He had to tell him that everything had finally worked out for him, that he really appreciated all the help that he had given him and hoped that they were still as good friends as before and that now everything was going to be fine between him and Akira, thanks to him.

The phone was picked up almost at once.  " Hisashi?"  came a hoarse voice that Rukawa almost didn't recognize.

" Kogure-san?  Hey Kogure-san, I really am sorry!  What I did, well, it was stupid.  But Akira and I-"

There was a soft click on the other end of the line as Kogure hung up.

Rukawa stared at the buzzing receiver in confusion.  This looked bad.  Kogure must have been even more upset about what he had done than he had imagined if he was angry enough to not bother listening to his explanations.

This was what he had fully expected to come about and still Mitsui was rather surprised to see Kogure standing on his doorstep, his puffy eyes indicating that he had been crying for some time now.
" Ko-chan?  Hey, Ko-chan?  Are you okay?  Please Ko-chan...Don't cry.  Tell me what's wrong?"

Without a word, Kogure threw himself into Mitsui's arms and began to cry as though his heart had been broken , which Mitsui guessed was precisely what had happened.

He ushered Kogure into the house and up into his room, cursing Rukawa Kaede inwardly all the while.