Bruises & Bitemarks (SasuNaru) - 93. - Page 5 (2024)


"Kill me now."

Takeshi mimics plunging a sword through my heart. I mimic dying in Sasuke's arms on his bed. He mimics breathing life back into me.

"Seriously? Acting in a bromance with Blue? Could it get any w—mmph!"

"Don't say that," says Shiroi, then cautiously lifts his hand off my mouth. "Lady Luck has sharp ears."

"I swear," Sasuke growls, "if he lays a finger on you I'll—"

"Yes, yes, I know," I say, grabbing his wrists and kissing him. "Don't worry about me, teme."

A knock resounds through the door. We're surprised – besides me and Takeshi, no one ever comes to visit. Shiroi goes to open the door. It's Kiba.

"Figured you'd be here," he says. "Naruto, you didn't answer any of my texts on Friday night."

"Huh? Oh – I haven't turned on my cellphone since before then. What'd you text about?"

He looks around shiftily. "Uh, can we talk somewhere else?"

I nod and kiss Sasuke quickly before going with Kiba. We retreat to his room; his roommate isn't in.

"What's up?" I ask.

"First of all, you didn't tell me Araragi-san meant a date," he says, sounding a little ticked. But his anger seems to be mostly for the principle of the matter, so I assume the date went well.

"Sorry," I say, not really meaning it. I'm smiling despite myself. "Did you have fun?"

He flushes, then turns away stubbornly. "Maybe."

I put on a mock stern-adult voice. "Kiba, is there something you wish to tell me?"

Kiba rolls his eyes and joins in. "Yes, father, I'm gay."

I blink, not having expected him to say it so soon or so easily. He glances at me, and in that moment I realize he was joking.

"Are you?" I ask finally.

He bites his lip. "I... maybe. Araragi-san's really nice."

"How did the date go?"

"Well, we met at Mizuhana, but I didn't know where we were going until we got there. It was this nice restaurant, and I – I realized it was a date. I kinda got a little freaked out. I mean, I know you said he looked gay, but I didn't really take it seriously."

"What did you do?"

"Nothing. I tried to play it cool for a while. I like talking with him, and he wasn't making any moves or anything, so I figured we could just chat as friends or whatever. But then he mentioned you, and how you said you weren't single, and..." His voice lowers. "For some reason, it bothered me. Like I was second choice or something."

"Kiba, don't say that—"

"It's true. But it's no big deal, because you're already with Sasuke and Araragi-san was still interested. He – before I knew what was going on, we were walking in a park holding hands, and I just—" He scratches his head. "I don't even know what I'm feeling right now. It's all a muddle. Naruto, what's the difference between friendship and romance?"

"I – I don't know."

"Not at all? I mean, what's the difference in what you feel for Sasuke and what you feel for me?"

I consider this. "I don't really know," I say again. "I guess, between you and me, it's a platonic love. I enjoy being with you and hanging out with you, and through that we've learned to care for each other. With Sasuke, it started with the caring. He cared for me, and I learned to care for him in return. We weren't really friends until we were together for a long time. I don't want to say romance is purely physical, but I don't have another explanation."

"Well, what about the whole heart-thumping, nerves-tingling, breath-short feeling? When you're with the person you like, and they smile at you or something, and your whole heart just implodes. No offense, but I don't feel that around you."

"Yeah. That's something." I'm satisfied at coming to another level with the answer to this question, but Kiba seems disquieted. "What's up?"

"I... felt that, with Araragi-san."

I'm all ears. "Really?"

"I think – I think I might have fallen in love with him. He's so... nice. He's interesting, and he listens to what I have to say, and he's really thoughtful. He – he reminds me of Sui."

Warning lights flash in my brain, but I throw blankets over them. "Is he around for a while? You should spend more time with him, to make sure you—"

"No," he says. "I'm sure of what I feel. I just... I dunno if I'm ready to feel it. For another guy, I mean."

"I can understand that."

"He is around for a while, though," Kiba says. "His grandma's health is worsening. I feel bad about it, but on the other hand..."

"On the other hand, you get to hang with him more." I nod.

"I have his number in the meantime. He called me just now, before I came to find you – that's why I remembered. We talked for about an hour. I think his voice has hypnotized me." He lies back on his bed as if he is indeed in a trance.

I laugh. "You're lucky. Araragi-san seems like a really great guy."

He nods, suddenly doubtful. "I just... never thought I was gay. I've tried to understand it, for your sake, but it just makes me uneasy."

"Maybe you're bi," I suggest. "You're still into girls, right?"


"There you go then. Stick around with Araragi-san for a while. He'll be able to help you out with any doubts you have. And I'll be here for you too."

Bruises & Bitemarks (SasuNaru) - 93. - Page 5 (2024)
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