What’s wrong with me? Kaneki averted his eyes, cheeks fleshed, burning from embarrassment and shame. He caught himself staring at his best friend who was lying next to him, sleeping soundly despite the noises coming from every corner of the beach. 

Hide convinced Kaneki to come to go to Tatadohama beach to celebrate their acceptance into Kamii University, one of Tokyo’s prestigious schools. Being the introvert that he was, Kaneki hesitated in taking Hide up on his suggested, but eventually relinquished his solitary lifestyle and agreed to go, to appease Hide’s pleading eyes and sulky pout. 

Kaneki looked back and watched as Hide’s chest rise and fall, his breathing steady and undisturbed. His eyes traced down Hide’s body, studying him as if he was some unknown specimen from another world. His heart was pounding for multiple reasons: shame, excitement, arousal, temptation. What would Hide think if he caught Kaneki looking at him? He wanted to find out, to see what Hide would do if he knew what Kaneki was feeling, but it scared him at the same time. He feared losing Hide. 

Hide’s lips were slightly parted, small noises escaping from his lips. Kaneki wanted to reach out and press his thumb on them, running it over his bottom lip before placing a small kiss. When the sun had reached a perfect position in the sky, its beams poured over their bodies, their umbrella unable to shield them from hot light. The sun emphasized the shiny gloss of Hide’s lips, but what always caught Kaneki’s attention was the luminous golden shine of his long eyelashes, The color was unlike anything he seen before. If there was anything to compare his lashes with, the closes thing would be gold but even that seemed inadequate; any gold lost its luster when compared to Hide’s golden lashes when the sun it them perfectly. There was something feminine about them, it maked Hide look boyish, masking the fact that he was almost 20-years-old. They were Kaneki’s favorite physical characteristic; Hide’s personality and openness always took top spot. 

His mind wandered, unaware that Hide stirred awake, catching Kaneki’s with his eyes on him.

“Do I have something on me?” Hide propped himself up and examined his naked torso. 

Kaneki felt like his heart shoot out of his chest, aware that he still had his gaze on Hide when he woke up. 

“I-You-No, you,” Kaneki struggled, “you just looked, I never seen you so relaxed since you never sit still.” Kaneki touched his chin, looking away from Hide, unaware of the fact Hide knew about his habit. Hide hummed and accepted his poor excuse. 

Hide jumped up and stretched his muscles and popped his bones in the process, something that made Kaneki wince. He worried that Hide was damaging his body by doing that, but Hide insisted that it was an old wives tale and popping bones didn’t cause arthritis. 

Looking around, Hide must have determined that it was still early enough to go swimming even if the sun was starting to set. He held out his hand, inviting Kaneki to come with him and plunge into the water. Not one for swimming, Kaneki hesitated in taking Hide’s hand but was pulled in by Hide’s compelling eyes. Kaneki looked down at his hand held by Hide’s own, and he couldn’t stop his heart from beating loudly against his chest. 

Again, what’s wrong with me, Kaneki questioned and fought back the heating rising in his body. Hide’s my friend, I can’t have these thoughts. I have to get rid of these feelings. Behind his fear was the fact that he hoped that Hide would find out about his secret feeling for him, and he hoped that Hide might return those feelings.

Tugged forward, Kaneki was brought into Hide’s arms and thrown over his shoulder, followed by Hide running into the cold water. Hide’s laughter carried and mixed with Kaneki’s yelp in surprise. To feel his bare skin against Hide’s felt intimate; an intimacy unlike one Kaneki had experienced before. Sharing a bath and washing each other’s back was not uncommon. In fact, Hide would wash Kaneki’s back when they went to bathhouses together, and Kaneki would do the same for him. But Kaneki’s growing feelings towards Hide had started to make those innocent moments of affection and familiarity into moments beyond what one would constitute as mere friendship, at least in Kaneki’s mind.

Hide teased him, “I’m gonna drop you,” and Kaneki held on, laughing, unable to hold off a smile while pleading Hide to keep holding him. Every second of the day, when Hide touched his skin, when he leaned close enough for Kaneki to smell his scent, when he placed his head on Kaneki’s lap, all these moments Kaneki fought to bury the storm raging inside him.