title: bring out the best
pairing: Tetsuya→Fumie, Tetsuya/Tatsuya (Shiritsu Bakaleya Koukou)
word count: 1,765
author's note: Sometimes I can't stand Tetsuya, but when he's around Tatsuya, he's okay. ♥ Also, this fic will make a lot more sense if you're seen the movie! To be safe, I'll say spoilers for the movie!
summary: Fumie brings out the worst in Tetsuya, but Tatsuya brings out the best without even trying.
Fumie brings out the worst in Tetsuya, brings out the demons from the furthest corners of his heart and the shadows from the deepest recesses of his being, pushed as far to the sides and out of sight after his unfortunate childhood as humanly possible. He's done a fair job of it, too, he thinks, after all that he's been through, done a good deal of work to put himself back together in some semblance of order after losing everything, after having everything spiral out of control around him with nothing for him to hold on to. But there's something about Fumie that drags the old fears and insecurities to light, that makes him terrified that he's going to lose control, that he's going to lose everything, like he did the first time.
After all, just like his father, always so distant, Fumie is her own woman, makes her own decisions, does as she wills. It's a good trait, a trait that Tetsuya admires in her, but at the same time, it arouses some instinctive anxiety, some baser fear in him, and the more confident, the more independent she is, the more he wants to chase after her, to hold on to her, to make her stop and consider him too, because he loves her, and doesn't that count for anything? But Fumie isn't required to consider him, because they're just friends, he's just a boy she knows from school, and at the end of the day, he knows, despite how different he wishes it were, no matter how many times he helps her, no matter how many times he saves her, she doesn't owe him anything. It pisses him off when he thinks about it, because how is it fair when he goes so far out of his way for her, when he risks his own safety for her, when he would do anything for her… Sort of like some small part of him deep inside his heart, still five years old and utterly alone, doesn't understand why despite that he was always a good son and did his chores and his homework and everything his father ever asked of him, his father never had the time of day for him.
But Fumie has no reason to be tied to him, and she knows it just as well as he does, wouldn't even let him confess his feelings in a weak, needy attempt to force her to consider him in her decisions. She's her own person with her own goals, and now she's going to leave him just like his mother did, leave him behind and forget everything he did for her, throw away everything he would give for her. He can still remember the sirens of the ambulances, the blood on his mother's lips as they took her away, told him it was too serious for her to remain home any longer, only weeks after his father's incarceration, and he can still practically feel the sting of abandonment, raw like a slap to his face, just like it was yesterday that the tears were running down his cheeks despite himself, that he was left completely alone. The bitterness lingers and flares up at the thought of Fumie turning her back on him, curls in his stomach and makes him want to be sick, makes him say things he regrets, If Tatsuya had said don't go…
But it's stupid, and he knows it. It's hard to think past the bitterness, past the self pity, because everything in his life, it seems, always goes spiraling out of his control, everyone he wants so desperately to care about him, to respect him, to love him leaves him behind without a second thought, and the knowledge sits in the back of his mind, festering against his other thoughts until, late in the evening, lying in his dusty, worn-out futon at the children's home he's been forced to return to each day since his mother was no longer fit to provide legal guardianship for him, he sits awake and feels sick to his stomach, like he's going to puke at the knowledge that he's not important to anyone, that he's not loved, not wanted, not needed by anyone. In his most logical thinking, he knows it's stupid; Tetsuya is an intelligent boy with good enough intuition and even better rational thinking abilities, but he can't help the gut reaction, he can't help the sting at the back of his throat, the back of his eyes when he remembers that no one has remained constant in his life for more than four or five years.
And so it's stupid but he can't help it, he succumbs to the sullenness and self-pity and sulks away from Fumie like a sullen child who's been denied a treat before dinner. In his mind, he knows he's in the wrong, but in his heart, he thinks, how can he not hurt, how can he not suffer when time and time and time again, this is always what happens? It's hard, even to find the will to draw himself out, hard to find the will to face something he knows will cheer him up when his life is hard and he just wants someone to acknowledge that, god dammit.
But he's forced to pull himself together at least marginally, because he's supposed to meet Tatsuya after school, same as ever, same as always. He knows before he even arrives that Tatsuya will draw him out from his sullen fit, will radiate warmth and pleasantness on him until he doesn't have a choice, like some sort of weird sun triggering photosynthesis in Tetsuya's heart. He's never been able to resist Tatsuya that way, not since the first time they ever met, when Tetsuya's self pity was at its heaviest and he was sinking fast, and yet somehow, in some way, Tatsuya was able to drag him back up to the surface again seemingly without even trying. Sometimes, he wants to resent Tatsuya for it, when all Tetsuya wants to do it sit by himself and wallow, but at the same time, he can't exactly dislike Tatsuya for making him happy, for making him feel warm and wanted when everything else is shoving him out into the cold.
And so despite himself, Tetsuya can't help but help but love Tatsuya, love him from someplace so deep inside of him that he doesn't really understand it. It's not like he's ever loved anyone else before, not like the cloying need for attention and affection that clutches at his throat and leaves a sour aftertaste in his mouth when he thinks about his mother, his father, Okamoto Makoto, Fumie. It's something altogether different, something that makes him want to wake up in the morning despite the screaming children all around him, makes him want to come to school despite the fact that it's not the prep school he'd always pictured himself attending when he was younger. Tatsuya's laugh draws him into the conversation when he'd just as soon stay withdrawn in himself, Tatsuya's thump on the back brings a smile to his face despite the fact that Tetsuya rarely shows his emotions anymore. And knowing that he really and truly can be of help to Tatsuya in a fight, to grab a guy Tatsuya's overlooked the the collar and slug him a good one (how dare you try to sneak up on him from behind, how dare you try to hurt him) is the best feeling in the world, and when Tatsuya turns around to him with a lopsided grin, a bruise forming purple on his cheekbone and blood running from the corner of his mouth, Tetsuya can't help but think that it's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen…
It's novel and strange, even now, to feel so fulfilled by something so trivial, to honestly feel good every time he's around Tatsuya, rather than clingy or needy or shunned. He doesn't feel the need to impress Tatsuya, he doesn't feel the need to clutch on to Tatsuya, because Tatsuya likes him and shows it, grins at Tetsuya for no reason at all and wants Tetsuya's opinion on things he finds important and asks every single day, nonchalantly, as if this isn't routine by now, "So what were you planning on doing after school…?"
And Tetsuya knows Tatsuya doesn't need to be protected, can take care of himself that way, but yet he wants to try all the same, wants it with a firm determination that has nothing to do with getting Tatsuya's attention or respect or affection. For the boy who is somehow, day after day, able to bring Tetsuya out of his self pity over the sorry state of his existence, whose sheer existence radiates a happiness too warm even for Tetsuya to ignore, Tetsuya will do anything, Tetsuya will bear any burden, will take any blow, will face expulsion even after all the pain of his transfer in middle school. A Makada without Tatsuya, after all, is no place for Tetsuya, something he knows but tries not to think about too hard, something that makes his chest tight and his head spin just a little.
And so even when he's feeling his worst, even when he wants to shut everyone out and sink further into his depression and self pity, he bolsters himself and joins Tatsuya after school, listens to Tatsuya talk endlessly about the stupid little things in his life, his new pair of sneakers, the ill-advised decision he made yesterday to let Satoshi attempt to buzz his hair, the dog from the petshop window that he wants. Tetsuya doesn't care about any of it, really, has never much cared about sneakers or haircuts or dogs, but nonetheless, as always, little by little, Tatsuya's words make him smile, make him laugh, make him happy. He really would do anything for Tatsuya, he thinks, even let go of all the bitterness and hurt he's clung to for his entire life, and even more than bearing burdens or taking blows, that's the hardest for Tetsuya. But for Tatsuya, anything, because somehow, despite being a thug and a delinquent and stupid and awkward, Tatsuya brings out the best in Tetsuya without even trying.
And maybe Fumie will leave him, maybe, like his mother and his father and all the people from his past, Fumie will throw him aside, but maybe, he thinks, bumping sides with Tatsuya as they walk along the curb together into the dusk, with Tatsuya here, maybe this time he can be okay with that.