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some stars are destined to fall

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The apartment is cold when Koutarou saunters through the doorway sluggishly, stepping out of his shoes and dropping his gym bag on the closest flat surface. It's strange, he thinks, because Keiji, being the cold natured person he is, usually has the heater on by the time Koutarou gets home after evening practice, especially during the cold, harsh months of winter.
Koutarou hollers a greeting, announcing that he's home and that he had missed his "oh so lovely boyfriend who he adores very much".

He receives no response, but is undeterred, accustomed to Keiji's tendency to already be asleep by the time Koutarou gets home, or at least napping.

He rummages around in the kitchen for a moment, surprised to see that the leftover karaage from last nights dinner was still sitting in the fridge, wrapped in clear wrap to keep it somewhat fresh.
Hadn't Keiji mentioned Koutarou wasn't to even think of eating it, for he planned to eat it the next evening? If so, why does it sit untouched?
Koutarou shrugs it off, guessing Keiji just hadn't been hungry after his shift at the office. Editing bland newspaper articles must not work up much of an appetite, he supposes, especially on a Sunday after extra hours.

He moves through the house with a renewed energy, humming some new pop song he heard on the radio earlier as he goes through his nightly routine, showering the stink of a late practice with his current setter down the drain, and brushing his teeth.

Even with his usually loud stumbling around the apartment, Koutarou still hears not a word from the bedroom, and sees nothing to indicate Keiji had woken up yet. He must be really tired, Koutarou thinks to himself. Keiji had been working himself to the bone lately, something about a new editor he had to mentor in order to take over his position when he gets promoted.

Koutarou feels pride bloom in chest at that thought, Keiji is finally getting rewarded for all his hard work since he had graduated, not that he hadn't been promoted before, but he definitely deserved a less stressful position.

Even while Koutarou lived through the many mood swings and depressive episodes following his team's loss as the representatives of Japan at the Olympics, Keiji had been with him, comforting him and being supportive of his move to a less public team a few months after a loss he blamed himself for, while also working harder to support the both of them financially.

Just thinking about all they have accomplished so far together makes Koutarou grin ear to ear, an expression so filled with joy it makes his cheeks hurt, but he pays the ache no mind, opting to finish putting his kneepads and jersey in the washing machine even faster so he can curl up in bed with Keiji and sleep.

Making his way through the apartment to the bedroom, he turns on the little cheap portable heater near their couch and the mounted one on the wall in their hallway, hoping Keiji appreciates the warmth when he wakes up. A cold Keiji is a grumpy and/or cranky Keiji, and Koutarou preferred his regular boyfriend over a Keijicicle anyway.
Appreciating the warmth of the heater on his bare chest, Koutarou paws at the pockets of his pajama pants, searching for- he left his phone in the kitchen.

Koutarou returns to the hallway once again, this time phone in hand as he stands in front of the heater, watching as his phone powers on. The logo flashes a few times and Koutarou slowly makes his way to the bedroom while he waits for it come to life fully, slipping the device into his pocket.

The bedroom is empty.

Why is the bedroom empty?

Koutarou stands in the doorway staring at the perfectly made bed, something Keiji insists on, because its basic cleanliness, Kou, unmade beds are messy anyway.
Koutarou staggers into the room, his previous exhaustion forgotten now as he peers at the bed in the dark.

No Keiji slumbering under the covers, and, he discovers after a quick once over of the room itself, no Keiji in sight at all even.

A strange panic seizes Koutarou, one that turns his blood to ice and makes him jittery. He frantically turns his phone on again, staring at the picture of himself, Keiji, Kuroo and Kenma smiling happily at the camera that's set as his background as notifications flood in.

Surely Keiji would've called or even texted him if he had planned to stay out late.

[46 Unread Messages, 24 Missed Calls, 2 New Voicemails]

Koutarou feels like he's had a bucket of ice dumped over his head. Despite the efforts of the heaters, gooseflesh rises along his bare arms and he gazes blankly at his phone screen. He doesn't even know why this strikes him as odd, as he's well used to an influx of notifications after practice, where he has his phone switched off and in his gym bag for at least three hours.

He soon finds out that 26 of those unread messages are from Kuroo, 4 from Konoha, 10 from his parents, and 6 more from his mother.

None from Keiji.

Koutarou worries at his bottom lip with his teeth as he checks the missed call history. A large chunk of the calls are from Kuroo, but a few are also from his mother and Konoha.
He doesn't bother with the voicemails, because neither of which are from Keiji.

In his confused state, Koutarou reaches for the lightswitch on the wall, blinking away the sudden stress of the harsh ceiling light on his tired eyes as he sits on their bed, already dialing Keiji's mobile number.

The phone rings six times.

Keiji usually answers in two.

Koutarou feels panic rise like bile in his throat.
The call goes through after the eighth ring.

"Hello?"

That's not Keiji.

Koutarou remains silent for a moment.
The voice on the other end is smooth and soft, albeit a little rough sounding, a female's voice, Koutarou guesses.

Definitely not Keiji.

"Uhm. Hi? Who is this? Is Akaashi there? Can I speak to him?"

The use of Keiji's family name feels wrong, so wrong after using his given name since he had graduated from Fukurodani, but Koutarou can't be sure this person on the other end even knows Keiji by his given name.

"You've reached Akaashi Tora, I apologize, but Kei-chan, I assume it's Kei-chan you want to speak with, isn't.. able to speak at the moment. Who is this?"

An Akaashi? Koutarou tries to remember if Keiji has even mentioned a Tora in his family, and quickly finds that no, he hasn't. Although his inability to remember could be chalked up to Koutarou's poor memory.

Who is this mystery relative and why can't Keiji talk on the phone?

It's well past 11pm, he notices, and the bile-like panic rises in his throat once again.

"This is uh, Bokuto Koutarou? I'm.. Keiji's boyfriend?"

Koutarou's voice grows smaller with every syllable, unable to focus on anything other than the alarms going off in his head.

He hears a clipped sigh on the other end, and some shuffling, so he strains his ears to hear what might be going on. There's muttering and someone curses rather loudly mid whisper-sentence. Then in a tone as cold as Koutarou feels, the woman, Tora, sighs into the phone.

"Something... happened."

~

There had been police cars and police men and so much yellow tape Koutarou thought that if he ever saw yellow again in his lifetime, it'd be way too soon.
Although the yellow hadn't been the worst thing. Far from the worst actually.

A woman who looked not much older than Keiji's mother had moved towards him when he had arrived to the intersection, confused as he forced himself out of his daze and out of the taxi he had taken. She introduced herself as the woman Koutarou had spoken to on the phone, Akaashi Tora, Keiji's aunt.
She had ushered him under the yellow tape, looking forlorn and exhausted, and as if she were going to bawl the second she was able to.

Koutarou could hear grief in every word she uttered as they slowly made their way to an ambulance that was parked near the sidewalk.

Koutarou's heartbeat had sped up considerably as she quieted upon reaching the vehicle, a solemn expression clouding her delicate features.

A woman dressed in the uniform of a police officer looked toward them, holding her hat in her hands as they stopped in front of her, a blank look on her face.
She introduced herself to Koutarou, but he didn't think it was important to remember her name.
Not after she hesitantly stepped back over to a stretcher with a pale blue thing on it, pulled back the zipper that had been pulled over the vaguely person shaped bag and revealed his Keiji.

Keiji still in all his stunning glory, even with ugly yellow bruises and cuts littering his perfect face, even with deep gashes and even more mottled bruising covering his bare torso.
Koutarou felt like he would collapse. The world stopped spinning and time seemed to slow as Koutarou stared at his boyfriend's lifeless body.

Akaashi Keiji was dead.

The man Koutarou had been in love with for eight long years was dead.

Dead right in front of him.

Dead and packaged in a.. bag, like he was some sort of trash.

Koutarou doesn't have many memories of that night after falling to the ground, feeling desperation and sadness and what might have been anger clog his throat and make his chest heavy, tears and snot running down his face as he wept.

It had been an accident, the officer he met later the next day, said. A driver who had been drunk at the wheel drove through a red light at the nearly empty intersection and collided with Keiji, who was crossing the street on his way home and had had his headphones on and was looking at the setting sun, probably looking at the stars that were slowly showing themselves, because Keiji had always loved stars.

He hadn't even noticed until it was too late.

He had been thrown onto the hood of the vehicle, cracking the windshield, cutting up the skin of his face and causing damage to his torso, and toppling over the roof, crashing to a stop on the cold rough ground of the road in the blink of an eye.
Apparently he had already bled too much before the drunkard had managed to even direct the ambulance to the intersection where it had occurred.

They hadn't been able to save him.

When Koutarou had received the news, he was furious. He was furious and he didnt know why. Maybe the anger was directed at the driver who had taken Keiji away from him because he was too irresponsible to avoid driving while drunk.

Or maybe the anger was directed at himself, because he had failed to check his bag as soon as he got home or even during practice. He didn't know why he was angry at himself. He couldn't have prevented anything. Or at least that's what everyone told him.

~

The funeral is a rushed affair, hosted on a rainy day like in the stereotypical movies, where a crowd made up of Keiji's parents, his sister, his aunt, a few of Keiji's friends from college, Koutarou and, surprisingly, Kuroo, huddled around a grave with a pitiful black case lying inside, umbrellas doing very little to protect them from the rain.
It was a sordid affair, a very brief speech about how Keiji, such a smart and dedicated young man who was loved by all, had been taken away from them, spoken by his aunt, the throwing of a single white rose onto the case before it was buried underneath the cold earth, and an exchange of clipped, grief filled words after the ceremony.
Koutarou had felt like his world was ending as he was given sympathetic looks and pats on the shoulder. Maybe it was.

~

Koutarou feels like he's been floating on air for days after the funeral, but not in a remotely pleasant way. He's practically plummeting towards the ground, but at such a slow pace he feels sick. It can't even really be called plummeting. Kuroo calls him. So many times he can't count. So does Konoha. And his mother. And Saru. And even Washio. They're all concerned for him, Koutarou supposes.
He doesn't answer any of their calls though. He doesn't listen to any of the voicemails they leave him.

The thought makes him feel sick.

The apartment feels empty, and oh so cold. Koutarou hides underneath his comforter in a bed suddenly too impossibly big for him alone, in a room suddenly so empty and quiet.
He doesn't leave his apartment for days, too stricken with grief and regret and inner turmoil to even attempt to move from his fetal position under the covers.
Nothing feels right anymore, Koutarou's universe is empty without Keiji there. Not even Kuroo, who kicked down his door one morning who knows how long after the actual funeral, with soup and comforting words, can fill the sudden void left behind in Keiji's absence.

Koutarou wishes he could waste away in this bed - hopes and prays the ground will open up and swallow him whole - wills his body to deteriorate into nothing but dust that falls in between the cracks in the floor. He feels hopeless. He wishes Akaashi could hold him once again.

That is, until an idea strikes him.
Not too long after the funeral, maybe a month or two at best, he decides he can't just be without Keiji. Without his soulmate. Without the love of his life.

He retrieves the sedatives from the medicine cabinet in the bathroom and chooses to sit on the little balcony that looks over Tokyo, in his favourite little rickety chair next to the small coffee table.

One, two, three, four, he loses count after maybe the sixth tiny little pill, slowly feeling himself being dragged under, but even so he wills himself to take more, swallowing each tiny pill dry.

The sun has finished setting by the time he lets his shaky hands release their hold on the orange prescription bottle.

They sky is pretty tonight. He can even catch a glimpse of a few stars. They remind him of Keiji. Keiji had always loved the stars.

He smiles, shedding a single tear, the thought of Keiji and his laugh, his soft smirk, the way he had made Koutarou feel loved making him finally feel warm after being cold for so long.

 

The sun rises the next morning and Bokuto Koutarou is dead.