There Goes the Boys of Summer
Thanks to Pastles and the reviewers at the Elephants board for comments. Warning, though, this is self-beta'd.
Disclaimer: Not owned by me, I'm just borrowing her.
She remembers when she used to be taller than Rukawa. He wore plain white teeshirts under his black school uniform. Black shoes. Red socks.
She remembers the red socks particularly. Remembers asking him about them in her nosy 'sempai' way, most boys wore white after all. Unrelieved white with, perhaps, a colored stripe at the top in blue or green.
But Rukawa wore thin, small socks that looked like they had been bought too small, then forcefully stretched out on his larger feet. After awhile he'd finally given in to her hounding and told her that his mother had bought them, thinking they were grey. She was color blind and he hadn't wanted to, or was too lazy to tell her she'd gotten it wrong.
He used to have Kamen Rider underwear and he liked her to tell him what he dubbed 'bedtime stories' even though she could only do so while walking back and forth between classes. He'd always looked up at her with an, at that time carefully done, 'I don't care' expression on his face but she could tell that he'd loved them. They took forever to end because she could only tell him a few minutes worth at a time, and she would always tack on extra bits as she came up with them, but he'd told her once that "Ayako-sempai knew the best fight scenes".
He looks down at her now. He no longer needs to carefully force his face into his blankly cold expression, and he can create his own Cool Fights--as she hears about later in the hallways, and witnesses in the gym as he blocks a swinging floor mop. She tries hard not to think about how the added height and weight adds to his frame. Tries hard not to look at the pull of muscles on his shoulders, the tendons in his neck.
It feels wrong somehow, as if the knowledge of what underwear he wore as a child should immediately make him off limits, magically transform him into her little brother. Almost.
Most nights, there isn't even a face. The glint of eyeglasses, perhaps, or the hang of a pair of baggy jeans, a slightly rucked up tee-shirt. The lines of a boy's body is..._strange_. It's meant, almost made for pulling the eye from side to side, outwards to inwards, then straight...
No, it isn't the face that matters necessarily.
There is a boy in class 3-C. Ayako would sometimes find herself walking by in the mornings in a purposefully careless stroll, letting her eyes sweep by just enough to catch a glimpse into the room without anyone noticing. Just a small, casual glance. He wasn't even very good looking, but there was something fascinating about the way his uniform sat across the shoulders.
It's all in the shoulders. It tells what sort of man a boy will become...or was already. Akagi's were broad and wide like an awning that protected and sheltered. Rukawa was stiff and tense when compared to Sakuraki's thrown back and constantly wiggling childishness. Youhei...Youhei was already grown up. She can see it in the dark silouette he casts as he slowly makes his way from the gym to where ever he goes when he can no longer watch Sakuragi play.
He looks like her father.
As she lays in bed at night, she slips a hand under the covers and down _there_. It feels wrong, much in the same way as the wrongness of whenever she thinks of Rukawa. Technically not a problem, but still unable to trespass past all the emotional barriers.
She's never heard about girls who...Not the good girls. But it's curiosity. All the boys do it. She's heard them joking about it in groups in the lockers, or silently taking care of business when they thought they were alone and hadn't realised that she often walked through at the end of the day to make sure everything was in place. She knows this like it rains, general knowledge that doesn't need any facts to back it up. Boys _do_ and girls _don't_...touch themselves.
She doesn't like not understanding, or being confused. Some nights she just lays there, silently, as her father quietly opens the door to look at her. Sometimes he pulls her blankets up to her shoulders, pausing there with his hand near her face as if he felt the need to reassure himself that she was still breathing.
She would always hold still, eyes closed, pretending to sleep until the click of the door signals that he has left. Fathers may say that they will marry their daughters off as soon as possible, but they are the ones who hurt the most when they realize that their girls have grown up.
Ayako has noticed the stoop in his shoulders; she doesn't want him to grow much older. Doesn't want to see the wistful sadness in his eyes when he notices how tall she has become, how her figure has filled out. How she's become a woman and somehow he's missed it during one of the many hours he'd spent locked away at his office, because while the company may not need him -- they needed the company's money.
She didn't want to grow up, but she couldn't help it. In the end, it was the curiosity that did it.
It first began with a small skirt. Plaid with buckles on the side. Then, a little lip gloss (cherry flavored), followed by a tight shirt (black). They all lay balled up in a guilty bundle on the floor in the back of her closet, hidden away like herself in the shadows of the morning or late evening when she is sure her father is not awake.
Experiments. A touch here, her fingers testing the sensitivity of skin and the slide of her body's natural excretions. A remote part of her brain, the same cold scientific part of her that she uses to keep track of basketball scores and statistics, slowly catalogues every small shudder, every curling of toes. Processing information so that she may dissect it at a later time when she can finally look back at it all without feeling some sort of personal horror.
Sometimes, if she lets herself get that far, Ayako finds herself biting her pillow case to keep quiet, nails raking down the sides of her matress and scraping painfully into the the wood of her bedframe. She can never let it get much farther then that. She can never quite let herself go enough to push her finger _in_. Could never bring it to that next level.
She's not sure if she ever wants to make that choice, that she'd rather not have to decide, that perhaps it's not her _place_ to decide. Isn't that the unspoken undercurrent in a schoolgirl's life? No matter how liberated they say the world is becoming; good girls don't.
She dreams of calloused hands and large, masculine fingers. Rather that than to think of herself doing, what she is doing.
Mostly, she just lets the sweat and the twisty, shuddery feeling fade away again, almost as soon as it starts, laying still as a corpse while staring at the ceiling with its well counted cracks. She finds that she doesn't particularly _like_ the smell, or the stickiness, or the tight breathlessness of it all. It's too musky and strange and Ayako still can't shake the idea of dirty.
She wonders about Haruko, of other girls. They don't talk about these things, that she can tell, but she has a strong suspicion that such thoughts have never and would never even cross any of _their_ minds. It isn't about _love_. But for girls, it's supposed to be.
She doesn't like feeling defective.
But as she drifts off to sleep in the early glimmerings of morning, her mind wanders again over the bare hints of skin, of loosely hanging shirts over tightly bunched flesh, the strong, salty stench of sweat as a thin trail of wet slides down a tense, corded neck. Or even, she laughs to herself, the flash of Akagi's buttocks. These things, she thinks she can almost, almost, understand.
Notes: I wrote this for several reasons.