title: Perceptive
fandom: Natsume Yuujinchou
characters/pairings: Natsume/Tanuma
rating: G
warnings: none
summary: Natsume and Tanuma share something on the way home from school.
notes: Qem asked for something with Natsume, Tanuma, and glasses, and i thought i could do that for her. sorta, apparently...

"I want a girlfriend!"

Nishimura's shout echoed to the heavens, causing the other three boys with him to dissolve into laughter. Nishimura was even standing heroically against the skyline, his arms stretched out and his head tilted back, ready to accept his celestial reward.

"I don't think you're going about it at all right," Kitamoto patted their friend on the back, perhaps being comforting. He was still laughing, though.

Nishimura spun around faster than anyone expected, pointing right at Natsume. "This is all your fault! Natsume!" He rushed right up to Natsume, making Natsume lean back to avoid actual finger-to-face contact. "Swear to me, right now! You're really not going out with Taki?!?" he desperately huffed.

Natsume struggled to reply at first. It was clearly more than a little uncomfortable for him to be under that type of scrutiny. "Eh? I've told you before. We're just friends. Just friends! I'm seriously not interested in her like that!"

Nishimura continued to examine Natsume until eventually, he broke down and clutched the front of Natsume's jacket. "If you're friends with her, man, help me out! Set us up! Set us up!!"

Natsume broke out into a cold sweat. Nishimura expected him to do... that? He wanted Natsume to have to talk to Taki about... that stuff? From the look on his face, there was definitely no way he could do that! "I... I don't think I can help you... sorry..."

Nishimura buried his face in Natsume's chest. "It's so unfair. I thought making friends with the good-looking new guy would raise my stock. But it's the opposite! I've become invisible! Totally invisible!"

"I-I don't think that's true..." Natsume edged away as best he could, though that wasn't too easy, since Nishimura was still clinging to him.

"Nishimura," Kitamoto scolded, "you're frightening Natsume."

Nishimura pulled back to look at Natsume through his bleary eyes. Hearing snickering from behind them, Nishimura spun around. "Tanuma! Stop laughing! This is your fault, too! These damned new guys! You're good-looking and standoffish, so all the girls are curious!" He pointed his finger right at Natsume's nose again.

Natsume backed off, again, holding his hands up in protest. "Eh, what's all this good-looking stuff, anyway..." he hedged.

"And you!" Nishimura pointed at Tanuma, "you're all mysterious and dark, so all the girls are into that, too!"

"D-dark?" Tanuma stuttered, shocked.

"Nishimura," Kitamoto sighed, dropping his face into his hand.

"How can I ever get a girlfriend when I'm surrounded by guys like you!" Nishimura shouted to the clouds.

"Y-you're shouting again," Tanuma laughed nervously.

"Look, look! Of the four of us... Natsume is the best looking, and then probably Tanuma, and then Kitamoto... I'm the least good-looking! The least!" he moaned.

"Wait, why is Tanuma ahead of me?" Kitamoto grumbled.

"Why am I still on top?" Natsume wondered, still backing off a bit.

Sobbing, Nishimura ran ahead on the path a bit, shouting at the trees, "I need a girlfriend! I'll even date a youkai or a demon or a ghost! Just please! A girl! I need a girl!!"

Natsume froze, and then started to look around nervously.

Tanuma noticed, and smiled nervously. "You shouldn't say things like that, even in jest. These woods could be haunted," Tanuma warned.

Nishimura jolted. "Tanuma!" he whined. "That's not funny coming from a future monk!"

"F-future monk?" Tanuma repeated, staggered.

Kitamoto started to laugh.

"That brat sure is noisy," Hinoe sighed, exhaling smoke artfully.

Natsume jumped, and turned to face her. His heart dropped to his knees. She was giving Nishimura a look.

"Hey, hey. Should I curse him? Wouldn't that be funny?" she suggested, grinning ear to ear.

Natsume shook his head violently, looking around to see if the others noticed him,

Tanuma did.

"Hey, c'mon, you're just letting the weather get to you. The days are getting warmer and longer, and you're getting stupider. Let's go and get something to eat, huh? How about that?" Kitamoto suggested diplomatically.

"You're gonna pay? You're treating me?" Nishimura sniffled.

"Just a little curse!" Hinoe offered jovially. "He's the one causing trouble, right?"

Natsume grabbed Hinoe's wrist, and headed up the path in the woods.

"Oy! Natsume!" Kitamoto called after him. "Hey! Aren't you coming with us to get something to eat?"

"Ah, he forgot something he had to do for, ah, Touko-san. Actually, I have to, er, head home, too, so... we'll see you later," Tanuma smiled brightly, trying to put them off. He edged up the path to the woods until Nishimura and Kitamoto started off in search of something that could satisfy Nishimura.

Tanuma felt for Kitamoto, but as soon as he was sure they weren't going to come after Natsume, he turned and took off himself.

Natsume was at the top of the hill, at a branch in the path, breathing heavily. "Don't make threats like that! It's not funny!"

"Natsume!" Tanuma called out, alarmed. "Is everything ok? What should I do?"

"Ah... Tanuma..." Natsume stood up, torn.

"Hm," Hinoe sighed, disapproving. She draped her arms around Natsume's shoulders. "This nasty boy has designs on you, Natsume. Do you know what that's like? With a man, I mean. You're better off with me. Let's go drinking, just the two of us! That fat pigcat is always monopolizing you! It's only fair to give me a turn, too!"

"Natsume?" Tanuma asked, concerned.

Reaching up to touch Hinoe's arm, Natsume smiled at Tanuma, but it wasn't the sort of smile that would soothe Tanuma. "Everything is fine, Tanuma."

"A youkai..." Tanuma narrowed his eyes. It wasn't as if that would help. He knew there was something near Natsume, possibly even... touching him? But damn it, as always, he couldn't really tell!

"Yes," Natsume said cautiously. His face tensed up. "But it's fine, really. This one... this one is a friend."

"And friends go drinking together!" Hinoe exclaimed, delighted. She jostled Natsume a bit, cuddling him.

Tanuma didn't feel at all relieved to see Natsume suddenly looking bothered, rocking back and forth against his will. "Are you sure..." Tanuma began.

"I have to go home with Tanuma!" Natsume said loudly, batting at something near his chest. Near his throat.

Tanuma didn't trust Natsume to be honest if he was in trouble, but somehow, even in this situation, his heart thumped a bit in his chest, hearing those words from Natsume.

"We'll hang out another time, all right?" Natsume begged Hinoe. "It's... we have school things to do."

"Mm," Hinoe pouted, but she finally pulled away. "That school place is sinister. You're always in there. Why do you need to spend so much time with that stuff, anyway? That's for humans, right?

"You'd be happier with us!" Hinoe asserted, petting Natsume.

Natsume didn't respond for a moment, looking at Hinoe with an unreadable expression. Then, he smiled at her, just as he had smiled at Tanuma. "Mm, well, maybe. But for now. Thank you for understanding." He took her hand off his head and squeezed it, and then he took a step toward Tanuma, nodding to him. They started off to Tanuma's.

Tanuma kept looking over his shoulder, trying to see if there was any sign of the youkai that had been bothering Natsume following them. It wasn't as if he could be sure.

"Don't worry," Natsume said breezily. "She's not with us anymore."

Tanuma frowned a bit. Even if she was... Natsume might not tell him. Except... if she was dangerous, Natsume wouldn't be walking with Tanuma, to Tanuma's home. He would ditch Tanuma.

"Are Kitamoto and Nishimura... upset?" he asked casually, but Tanuma knew better.

"Nah. Well, Nishimura is only thinking about girls, anyway," he laughed. "I think I covered for you..." Tanuma scratched the back of his head. He wasn't good at that sort of thing, though, so. But. Well.

Kitamoto and Nishimura would never think of anything like the stuff Natsume dealt with, so.

"That's good," Natsume smiled a little bit at him, shyly.

Tanuma's damned heart did that thumping thing again.

"I should get glasses," Tanuma sighed.

"Eh?" Natsume looked at Tanuma, startled. Perhaps by the change of topic, but probably because...

"I read in one of my dad's books that it can help to see unseen things better," he shrugged, trying to pass it off as no big deal. Just an idea.

Natsume watched Tanuma for a moment, and then looked straight ahead. "You don't need them."

Anger flared in Tanuma's chest for a moment, but he waited for it to pass before he tried to respond. He didn't want to lash out or anything remotely like that, but... "Sometimes, you say really hurtful things," he replied quietly.

Natsume stopped dead in his tracks. "That's... I... didn't mean..."

"I know what you meant," Tanuma said shortly, not looking at Natsume. "You just don't get it."

Natsume was staring at him. Tanuma could feel it as surely as he could feel the wind against his exposed skin. He wanted to take it all back, or curl up into nothingness, or...

He wanted to know what Natsume was thinking.

"Neither of us do," Natsume sighed, and now he wasn't looking at Tanuma anymore, so Tanuma looked at him.

Natsume looked troubled. He was looking away, like... he might take off.


Tanuma reached out.

He'd grabbed Natsume by the shoulders before he knew what he was doing, and then it was like dominos falling one after another. Natsume was pushed, his back hit the tree behind them, Tanuma moved forward, and then.

They were kissing.

It was awkward and strange, and only marginally pleasant. Tanuma became far too aware of what he was doing as if his brain was on some kind of delay from his body. Natsume made a noise, and Tanuma pulled back, terrified.

They stared at each other.

Tanuma's face was getting hotter and hotter, and he was becoming more and more aware. He'd grabbed Natsume with his hands. Those fingers at the end of his arms had squeezed Natsume. He'd pressed his mouth against Natsume's. Neither of them knew how to kiss, so it was probably really disgusting for Natsume. Worse, they were both boys, and he was supposed to be Natsume's friend, and Natsume didn't want to be kissed at all.

The longer he thought about it, the more Tanuma just wanted to explode.

"I...! I-I'm sorry...!" Tanuma burst out.

Natsume reached up haltingly and brushed the tips of his fingers against his lips, and then he blushed.

Damn, Natsume was beautiful when he blushed.

"I-it's really... ok..." Natsume said quietly, like he was surprised himself how ok it was. He looked at Tanuma, his hand still half-covering his face.

Natsume... just said... it was ok? Tanuma couldn't really believe it.

"S-sorry..." Natsume looked away. "I-it was my first time, so I didn't know..."

"It was my first, too!" Tanuma quickly interjected, far too loudly. He might have even waved his arms around.

"I'm glad," Natsume replied, and then he realized what he said, and he stared at his shoes, his whole face now red. Maybe even a bit of his neck.

Tanuma's heart was going to burst.

"I-I mean..." Natsume stuttered.

"I know what you mean," Tanuma said quickly, because even if he was wrong, he wanted to believe that Natsume was just as glad as he was that they were each other's first.

Natsume looked up at him and smiled shyly. And then, neither of them could look at each other. Time was moving too slowly and there was too much and not enough space between them. They both started to fidget, and then, almost in unison, they started to panic.

"I-I should get home!" Tanuma burst out.

"M-me, too!" Natsume scrambled.

They'd taken a half dozen steps away from each other when Natsume stopped and half-turned. "Tanuma?"

Tanuma froze, and looked over his shoulder at Natsume.

"You... don't need glasses. I'll... see for both of us," he promised, vaguely. He was smiling, too. Actually smiling. And then he turned and took off toward his home.

Tanuma watched him go for a moment, and then he turned, too, unable to keep from grinning. No, he still wanted to be able to see with Natsume. But.

They'd been each other's first.