Fandom: Gurren Lagann
Rating: PG-13 (making out)
Summary: Rossiu never was very lucky, no matter how he prayed. (co-ed boarding school AU)
Word Count: 2378
Disclaimer: these characters are not mine, nor do I claim them as such.
Author's Notes: I wrote this for a friend, it's a TTGL boarding school AU. It was really just a quick thing but I might write more for this 'verse later because I like it.
He likes the library. He likes it more than any other place in the school, because he doesn't have to deal with people. Even when he has no academic reason he likes to go to the library, sometimes he just props a book up in front of himself and enjoys the thoughtless silence. He always prefers the library to the cafeteria at lunch time, the constant hum of chatter always sends the hairs at the back of his neck prickling. Even Simon's wide eyed pout isn't persuasive enough to make Rossiu want to eat lunch in the cafeteria.
Sometimes, though, his mind drifts from his book and he wonders if he's missing something. If maybe it's worth it, putting up with all those people, to sit next to Simon and let him steal his french fries. He wonders if he could like that, being in a place with so much attention, being forced onto a tiny bench and squashed up against another boy and being the center of his attention. A tiny, traitorous voice in his head points out that Rossiu would like that very much, but he doesn't listen to it.
He'd have to be somebody completely different in order to enjoy that kind of thing, he reasons. He'd have to be Simon. He'd have to be Kamina.
Rossiu remembers before, when they were in middle school, when Simon was just a quiet, weird kid that you never would have noticed if Kamina didn't spend so much time pointing at him. Rossiu remembers feeling a certain amount of kinship with Simon then, when they were equally quiet and equally awkward. But then things changed. Kamina went off to college and Simon grew up, or at least grew into another version of Kamina. By all rights that should have meant that Simon should have become arrogant and insufferable but somehow he wasn't, somehow he managed to gain confidence and charm and still hold onto that kindness and charity that had always been a part of him. It was infuriating, the way he managed to be so attractive and stay so attractive.
And he was attractive, that much Rossiu could admit to himself, that Simon was an attractive boy and Rossiu was maybe-kind-of attracted to him. But that didn't mean that Rossiu would abandon all his principles in favor of being forced to press his thigh against Simon's under a lunch room table.
“Shh!” Rossiu hisses at the intruder before he even knows who it is, because this is a library and people should respect that. It turns out to be Simon, who's ducking his head sheepishly now and giving Rossiu a grin and Rossiu's stomach does an involuntary flip.
“Sorry,” Simon whispers, dropping into the chair across the table with so much casual grace that Rossiu kind of wants to punch him. If he were prone to such manly and brash displays of affection, he would. Rossiu just snorts in the back of his throat and goes back to pretending to read.
“Rossiu,” Simon repeats, his voice a low, personal whisper and when Rossiu glances up Simon's leaning half across the table and his face is right in Rossiu's. His stomach does that stupid flop thing again and he leans back, giving Simon the best frown he can summon.
“I missed you at lunch,” Simon says simply, those big stupid eyes blinking owlishly at Rossiu and Rossiu can only glower and sink farther down into his chair and hope his cheeks aren't burning as brightly as they feel. He decides to pass right over feeling flattered and hopeful about Simon's admission and goes straight to annoyed, because anger is easy. Anger is safe, it doesn't involve any fluttery feelings or any risk or vulnerability at all. Rossiu grabs at irritation like a man in the desert grabs for water because he's too cowardly to risk anything on a smile.
“Lunch isn't even over yet. And what is there to miss? If I had gone I would have eaten quietly, not talked to anybody and left as soon as I could. At least here I can skip the pretense of socializing and just work.” Scolding is second nature to Rossiu, he could do it in his sleep, but just because you're good at something doesn't mean you enjoy it. Sometimes he wonders what it would be like if he just smiled and nodded.
“Well, yeah...” Simon agrees, sitting back in his chair and leaning far back, tilting his chair back on its back two legs and tipping his head back, “But I'd still like to see you there. Even if you didn't talk to me.”
Sometimes Simon does this, says things that leave Rossiu wanting to gasp for air and grapple at cliff faces like he doesn't even notice he's speaking at all. He doesn't know what a powerful grip his words can have on Rossiu, and if Rossiu has his way, he never will.
Rossiu watches the line of Simon's throat and doesn't say anything, hopes that Simon is assuming he's gone back to work so he won't look up, so he'll let Rossiu have this one private moment to worship him.
Rossiu forces his eyes back to his book and schools his expression back to annoyance.
“I don't know why you'd miss me at lunch, we have two classes together in the morning, one in the afternoon, and then we eat dinner together, and we sleep in the same dormitory. I don't know how you'd have a chance to miss me.” Rossiu isn't sure why the quips come so easily, why it's second nature to take a jab at what is, essentially, his best friend, but he doesn't care enough to question it. At least, he doesn't care as long as Simon remains oblivious to him. Simon sighs loudly.
“I know. I guess I have a lot of friends, but none of them care about me like you do,” the hairs on the back of Rossiu's neck stand on end, “I'm not really close to any of them... That is, before Nia moved away.” That stupid, sad look is back on Simon's face and Rossiu is so sick of seeing that look so just like that he's bristling with frustration.
Rossiu gets up abruptly and starts putting his things away, taking special care to not slam his book closed and shove his notebooks violently back into his bag. The kicked-puppy look on Simon's face turns into startled confusion. Rossiu wants to slap him, wants to laugh in his face, wants to finally have the upper hand over Simon. He wants to throw a fit and tear pages out of books until Simon understands that he drives Rossiu crazy, but he doesn't. He just quietly tucks his work back into his bag and says to Simon, tight-lipped:
“Lunch is almost over, we should get back to class.”
Then he stalks away, and he'll admit that it is satisfying to turn back just before he pushes open the door and see Simon gaping after him.
It's easy enough to ignore Simon through their one class together. In the end he doesn't have to act any differently than he normally does, he only has to scrub out the shred of respect he used to reserve for Simon. He isn't even sure why he's mad, all he knows is that looking at Simon makes his scalp prickle and he wants Simon to be as uncomfortable as Rossiu is. Perhaps he is jealous of Nia, jealous that someone so vapid could so easily replace him. Or maybe he's just frustrated with himself, finally realizing that he's always but Simon before himself and it's only ever gotten him to second best. Like some kind of cheap replacement.
Rossiu skips dinner and finds the library, finds an old friend among the musty pages and tall shelves, one that expects nothing of him, one that will always be there, study and unchanging. But then, books don't have big, stupid eyes or sweet mouths and they never look good in a button-up, but that's neither here nor there.
He doesn't go for his usual table, but opts instead for an out-of-the-way armchair that you would have to look for to find. He hopes to stay here until just before light's out and then sneak back to the dormitory and pray very hard that Simon will leave him be and go to sleep early.
Rossiu never was very lucky, no matter how he prayed.
“Rossiu?” The voice is hushed and barely there, but it sounds like yelling in Rossiu's ears because it's Simon. Rossiu doesn't answer, doesn't move, doesn't think about what it means that Simon has come looking for him. And dinner is only ten minutes in.
“Rossiu?” This time it's closer, and Rossiu doesn't have time to hide before Simon appears at the end of the bookcase and spots him. Something like relief breaks over Simon's face and Rossiu just stares as he approaches.
“I didn't see you at dinner so I thought— You might be here,” Simon scratches his head in a nervous gesture, “Are you mad at me?”
“No.” Rossiu stands briskly and moves past Simon with purpose, like maybe he just needs to browse the shelves, not get away from the confusion and frustration that Simon leaves in his wake.
“I'm sorry,” Simon catches Rossiu by the arm as he passes, “I don't know what I did, but I'm sorry.”
Simon's practically whispering in his ear but Rossiu can't summon the courage to yank his arm away. All he can do is tilt his head away so that he can't feel Simon's breath puffing against his neck. Simon seems to be waiting for something but Rossiu can't speak, so they stand there suspended in silence.
“You— You're important to me, Rossiu,” Simon says, and Rossiu isn't looking at his face but out of the corner of his eye he can see that stupid sorry look, “After Kamina and—and after Nia, you took care of me. You always did. Take care of me. And I like that.”
“Simon—” Rossiu chokes out before he can stop himself. His voice sounds rough and wavering and Rossiu can't stand how weak he sounds.
“What?” Simon asks and Rossiu looks over at him. He looks at Simon for a moment, takes in his eyes and nose and mouth and hair, sees a boy he's known so well for so long, sees a boy that seems determined to win Rossiu's heart, whether he means to or not.
“You are such an idiot,” Rossiu murmurs and just like that the moment is over and he reaches up with the arm that Simon isn't grabbing, hooks it around the back of Simon's neck and tugs him down into a kiss. Simon makes a startled noise and freezes and Rossiu squeezes his eyes shut. He just wants this one moment, thinks maybe if he just gets this kiss then he can go on, maybe the taste of Simon's lips will satisfy some deep urge in him and he can move on with his life.
But then something strange happens.
Simon breathes out hard through his nose and moves his lips, pushes forward in a meaningful kind of way and Rossiu's breath hitches in surprise. Simon moves his lips with a purpose, pressing and letting up and then pressing again, and Rossiu doesn't really know what to do because he hadn't figured reciprocation into his plans. Simon's hand smooths up Rossiu's arm and shoulder, then he touches Rossiu's jaw with two fingers and draws them down. Simon works his mouth open over Rossiu's, and when he swipes his tongue over Rossiu's bottom lip it's the last straw.
Rossiu's knees go weak and he wobbles, stumbling away from Simon's lips and sagging against the bookshelf which is blissfully close by. Simon follows him with a step forward but Rossiu stops him with a hand on his chest, grabbing at his shirt in a fist just to get a hold on something.
“What— What are you doing?”Rossiu asks, his voice shaking with a touch of hysteria. Simon blinks owlishly and doesn't answer at first, like he doesn't understand the question.
“Kissing you?” Simon says that like it's obvious, like it's natural, like there wouldn't be anything wrong with the two of them kissing. Rossiu's pretty sure his face can't get any hotter than it already is.
“Rossiu... You kissed me first.” Simon gently wraps his hands around the fist clutching the front of his shirt, and his voice is low and soothing like he's talking to a spooked animal.
“So?” Rossiu asks weakly, all fire gone from his voice because Simon is leaning in again.
“I don't mind kissing you,” Simon says, whispered up against Rossiu's lips and no matter how hard he tries Rossiu can't find an argument against that. Rossiu just holds on for dear life as Simon kisses him again, pressing him against the shelf.
Simon's tongue is wet and foreign but Rossiu still opens his mouth for it, still lets it taste him and maybe tastes Simon a little in return. Simon tastes warm and sweet, but not sweet like sugar, sweet like the tight feeling curling through his chest. Rossiu realizes fleetingly that he's almost eighteen and this is his first kiss, but at least it's with Simon, and at least he's surrounded by the smell of a library.
The kiss slows and stops, and when Simon moves his lips away he kisses Rossiu's cheekbones, left then right, and his forehead, and draws a small, reluctant smile from Rossiu.
“Want to go to dinner?” Simon asks quietly, grinning in answer to Rossiu's smile.
“Yeah,” Rossiu answers quietly, enjoying the press of Simon's forehead against his for a moment before Simon pulls away, snags Rossiu by the hand and pulls him away from the books.
Later he'll want an explanation, later he'll try to understand what just happened, but for now Rossiu just enjoys the warmth of Simon's hand and the comfort in the silence.