The day of his thesis defense is a bright and sunny one. Morinaga wakes from a fitful sleep and dresses carefully as he can — a new suit that cost more than he really wants to think about, and his hair damply combed into a semblance of order. He keeps his notes tucked under an arm, reshuffling and straightening them compulsively as he makes his way to the office building. He almost passes the man who’s standing at the bottom of the stairs, then staggers when something smacks the back of his head, hard.
Morinaga turns and sees a (decently-sized, actually) rock wrapped with something. He bends and picks it up, unwrapping it carefully.
Written on it is the phrase, “For good fortune on this day.”
He looks up and meets a full-fledged scowl from his senpai — slightly redirected, but still absolutely familiar. In spite of himself he smiles as he trots over, still holding onto the charm. “Senpai!” he says. “Ah, did you come here to cheer me on? Ehehehe, that’s so–”
“Keh!” Tatsumi snorts. “Like I’d waste my time doing that.”
“But …” Morinaga blinks. “You’re here, aren’t you?”
“I just happened to be walking by!” Tatsumi scowls. “It’s just coincidence that I’m here. Coincidence. Don’t get so excited.”
“Senpai … ” Morinaga blinks. He looks at the charm he’s holding, then holds it up. “This is–”
The glare Tatsumi levels at a nearby tree was almost enough to make it spontaneously combust; a cluster of girls passing by take one terrified look at skitter quickly out of his line of sight. “What does it LOOK like? Idiot.”
“A …” Morinaga turns it over slowly with his fingertips, half-afraid it’s going to fall apart. Actually, knowing his senpai, he thinks he should be more suspicious on whether there’s poison laced on the edges. “A good-luck charm?”
“OF COURSE IT’S A GOOD-LUCK CHARM, YOU BLIND FOOL.” Tatsumi puffs himself up the whole way, his expression thunderous. “WHAT DID YOU EXPECT, YOU–”
“You got this for me?” Morinaga doesn’t think his eyes could get any wider — they’re actually beginning to hurt a bit from staring. “Senpai …”
“OF COURSE NOT!” Tatsumi bellows. “WHY WOULD I BUY SOMETHING FOR AN IDIOT PERVERT HOMO–”
“Eh?” Morinaga squints at the charm. After a moment, he feels the absolute stillness of shock settle over him, which lets him look up at Tatsumi’s red face without actually exploding.
“Senpai … don’t tell me that you –”
A vein ticcs in Tatsumi’s forehead. The light pings off his glasses for a moment, rendering his eyes invisible. “What about it.”
“–you … made this?” Morinaga holds up the small good-luck charm. “This is your handwriti–gggghk.”
Tatsumi keeps shaking him hard for a few moments, making sputtering furious noises that aren’t actually a denial. When he glances up, he apparently sees something in Morinaga’s expression that makes him shove back, hard, and his blush has moved all the way down his neck, disappearing into his shirt.
“You did,” Morinaga breathes. “Senpai, for me, you–”
“It’s not like I’d do something like that for a pervert like you,” Tatsumi hisses. “Why’d I waste my time doing something like that! It’s just a fucking thesis defense! I’ve got more important things with my time than something pointless like that–”
Morinaga throws his arms around his senpai, squeezing hard as he can. There’s a long outraged string of muffled curses into his as Tatsumi immediately begins to squirm, clawing and shoving for freedom. He ignores it, pressing his nose into Tatsumi’s hair and breathing deep; all impending doom seems to have fallen away (though he knows that he’s probably going to get a beating as soon as he loosens his arms just a little). “Thank you,” he says, pretty sure that Tatsumi misses it in his struggling.
Or maybe not, because for a moment Tatsumi pauses, still with his face in Morinaga’s shoulder. It’s just a moment — less than ten seconds — but it’s there, it’s there and even though Tatsumi punctuates its end by twisting and yowling like an outraged cat, Morinaga knows it was there.
He goes into the defense with a fresh bruise red on his cheek, a smile he can’t stop, and a small handmade good-luck charm tucked into his jeans pocket.