f o r t y - f o u r

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**Trigger warning**

If I told you that Xander isn't a top, would you believe me? 👀

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People who hide their feelings usually care the most

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Xander would never admit that he spent most of the time watching Sage moving about, gathering supplies and speaking rather than actually being mindful about what he needed. As he piled a box of Pentel pens in the shopping basket, Sage said something to Xander, but even that the senior missed.

The blond got on his tiptoes, struggling to see lied on the shelf just above his height. About to grab one of the paint sets, Xander then snapped out of his trance to stop Sage before ended up dousing himself in red paint.

"Take it easy, Snowflake. I'm a beginner, remember?"

Sage's lips crinkled into a mini-pout. "S-snowflake? Xander, why do you always call me that."

The only response he assimilated to that was a sharp flick to his nose. "Ow!" he cried. "Xander, w-why do you always attack my nose?"

"Because you're stupid. Stop asking questions and I'll stop."

Sage huffed. "I-I'm not stupid, Xander. You're just m-mean." he tried to reach the paint set in Xander's hand, but the senior just lifted his hand out of Sage's reach. "I-I can put it back. G-give it." he struggled. Every time he was about to reach it, Xander could tug it out of his reach. For Sage, it was so unsatisfying.

"Grow a little, will you?"

"What!" Sage exclaimed, cheeks flushed with colour. "I-I'm not short. I'm five feet seven inches, for your information."

The corners of Xander's lips twitched upwards as he looked down at him. "That's still short."

"I'm not! Y-you're just r-really tall, Xander." he tried reaching the set again once Xander lowered his guard. It was pulled out of his reach again, causing Sage to groan in disapproval.

Sage glared at his amused counterpart, and just as he was about to retort that Xander was the only idiotic meanie between them, one of the store employees came rounding the corner. With strawberry blonde hair, she was young, clearly no older than nineteen.

"You boys okay around here?" she queried, eyes dancing between the frolicking teenage boys. Her eyes decided to stop on Xander, and like just about every other girl, her eyes lingered on his face, staying there.

This time, Sage decided to speak up. "U-um, we're fine, thank you." he politely told her, causing her to take a break from glancing at Xander ever so often.

The blonde girl didn't ease up. "Are you sure? You have been in here for a while. What exactly are you looking for?" she asked Sage, after which she looked at Xander, raising her eyebrow in questioning. "We have pencils to that side — different points for different purposes. Over there we have sketchbooks and canvas. Come take a look."

Sage didn't even realize how hard his fingers were digging into his palms. Once he did, he relaxed his hands and bashfully turned in the other direction, pretending to be busy by reading the labels on the shelves.

Despite how much he tried not to mind or care, the painful feeling in his heart didn't allow him not to.

Why was it that every time the went out together there just had to be some girl trying to flirt with Xander? Sure, this one wasn't blatantly trying her luck like the one at the bookstore, but by the way she played with her hair and smiled brightly at Xander, it was subtle but evident.

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