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Call me if you need to, asshole

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             Yahaba glared down at his phone. The blunt, one-word message he’d just received from Kyoutani seemed to glare back up at him in gray and black.
             sick.
             He gave a long-suffering sigh. His own message glowed blue above it, reading why weren’t you at practice today? He’d been hoping for more than a monosyllabic reply, but if his obnoxiously difficult teammate was to be believed, at least he had a valid reason for skipping. Ever since the third-years had stopped attending practice, busy studying for finals, the responsibility had fallen to Yahaba to keep Kyoutani in line, and more importantly, to keep him from running off again.
             He shoved his phone into his pocket and dug out the club room key. He was the last person to leave, as was typical these days, since he was now in charge of locking up. The others would usually wait to walk home with him, but today, for some reason, they’d left hastily with a few nervous goodbyes. He frowned as he locked the door. Yeah, right. As if I don’t know why. Even he knew that he’d been in a stormy mood all day, frustrated with Kyoutani’s noticeable absence. That guy brings out the worst in me.
             According to Watari, who shared his first class of the day with their infuriating ace-to-be, the teacher had called Kyoutani’s name during morning roll call, like usual. Meaning his parents didn’t call or email saying he was sick. He furrowed his brow and glared up at the darkening sky while he walked, fingers clenched around the strap of his bag. He didn’t want to disbelieve his teammate, but given his record, and his personality, him lying didn’t seem entirely out of the question. Still, I didn’t think he was the type to lie like that.
             And then again, he recalled, Watari had also mentioned that he’d caught Kyoutani in the bathroom the previous day, trying to hide a coughing fit. Yeah, actually, I guess he did seem a little under-the-weather, and his spikes were less powerful than usual, too. Plus, he’s totally the type of guy who would try to hide being sick, just to look tough. That kind of lying comes naturally to him. The tension in his muscles relaxed slightly as he felt a prick of worry. Which means that if he decided to stay home today, it must be pretty bad.
             “Why did everyone around me have to get sick all of a sudden?” he muttered to himself. His own mother was recovering from a fever she’d had a few days back, bad enough that he’d had to run out to buy medicine.
             He stopped. Actually, we have a good bit of medicine left, don’t we? He pinched his nose between his fingers. No way. There’s no way I’m bringing that asshole medicine. I’m not his mom. His hand slid down to his chin as conflict continued raging in his mind. But… he could be pretty sick. And if he’s bullshitting me, then this is the perfect way to catch him. Yeah, that’s a good reason. Digging his phone back out of his pocket, he typed out a message, as short as he could make it.
             I have some fever medicine at home. Do you want me to bring you some?
             He continued walking, expecting some harsh, ungracious reply. Maybe Kyoutani would point out the same thing he’d already realized, that he wasn’t his mom. Several minutes passed before his phone buzzed in his pocket. His eyes widened as he read his teammate’s messages.
             fine.
             just leave it at the door
             For a full fifteen seconds, three gray dots hovered onscreen, and then:
             thanks
             “Shit,” Yahaba breathed, stopping in his tracks. “He’s dying.”
             A final message appeared, containing Kyoutani’s address. That was enough to make Yahaba speedwalk the rest of the way home, briefly explaining to his mother where he was going before picking up the medicine bottle, shoving it into a plastic bag, and heading out again. His teammate’s home was a good twenty minutes away, a walk that he managed to shorten into fifteen. He found himself standing in front of a somewhat dilapidated apartment complex, graffiti lining its alleyways, the barking of dogs ringing through the now fully darkened night. Yep. This is about what I expected.
             “Let’s see….” He glanced down at his phone. “Apartment 2F.”
             As he climbed the stairs, he typed out a brief message.
             I’m here. I’ll leave it outside
             A few moments later, he did just that, setting the plastic bag down outside Apartment 2F and knocking on the door. Placing his hands on his hips, he caught his breath, slightly winded from climbing a flight of stairs after speedwalking for fifteen minutes. Man, Kyoutani’s lucky I’m such a great teammate. Actually, considering what an asshole he is, I’m practically an angel. He glanced around, noting the paint chipping from the doors of almost every apartment, and then looked back down at the bag. ...I hope no one steals this. Maybe I should stick around until he comes to get it?
             Suddenly, he heard an audible thud from behind Apartment 2F’s door, and he blinked in alarm. Did- did someone just collapse? He quickly stepped over the bag, knocking on the door more urgently than before.
             “Kyoutani? Kyoutani, are you in there?”
             There was no response.
             He tried the doorknob and found, to his surprise, that it was unlocked. Swinging the door open, he felt his breath catch in his throat as he saw Kyoutani, dressed in a baggy purple T-shirt and gray shorts, collapsed on the carpet face-down, struggling to lift himself up.
             “Kyoutani!”
             Yahaba rushed forward, grabbing his teammate’s shoulders to support him. Kyoutani’s hands trembled as he held onto Yahaba’s forearms. His scowl, however, was as strong as ever, despite his flushed face.
             “I’m f-fine,” he grunted. “Don’t come in.”
             Yahaba tried to glare back, though concern overrode his irritation. His whole body feels hot.
             “I’m already inside, jackass. And you’re obviously not fine. You just collapsed in the hallway!”
             Hallway. They were in a hallway. A few feet away, he could see that it opened up into a wider living room, with more doors past that on either side. And a moment later, he noticed a pungent smell in the air. Is that… alcohol?
             He heard Kyoutani growl suddenly, and looked down to see his teammate gritting his teeth. There was a hint of fear in his amber eyes.
             “Just… get out.”
             Yahaba stared at Kyoutani for several seconds. His chest was visibly heaving with every breath, his legs still crumpled limply on the carpet, sweat beading on his forehead. Yeah. Like hell.
             “Nope,” he replied flatly, and then looked around again. “Where are your parents?”
             Kyoutani glanced away.
             “Not… here.”
             Yahaba blinked in surprise.
             “Not here? Even though you’re sick?”
             “I said they’re not here, okay?” Kyoutani’s eyes flicked back to him, glinting fiercely in the apartment’s dim lighting. The length of the sentence, and the intensity of his words, left him gasping for breath. Yahaba could feel his teammate’s whole body shaking.
             He tried not to let the sudden wave of concern and sympathy he felt show on his face. To have parents who would leave him home alone when he’s this sick…. And then there’s the smell of alcohol, too. Suddenly, a lot of Kyoutani’s behavior started to make more sense. At the very least, he now knew why his teammate didn’t want him to come in.
             “...Right.” He let go of one of Kyoutani’s shoulders to take out his phone. “You look like you’re dying. I’m calling 119.”
             Suddenly, there was a hand grasping around his wrist, unusually weak for Kyoutani, but shockingly strong for someone who did, in fact, look like they were dying. He froze, looking back down at his teammate’s glare.
             “Don’t.”
             Despite Kyoutani’s deeply furrowed brow, and his attempt to make the word sound fearsome and final, to Yahaba, it sounded more like a plea. Again, he caught a hint of fear in the honey-colored eyes that were glaring at him, and the grip around his wrist gradually weakened. He sighed and lowered his phone back into his pocket. I can’t believe I’m about to do this. This better earn me a lifetime of good karma.
             “Fine. But I’m not leaving you here.” He glanced around a third time. “Where’s your room?”
             “Huh?” Kyoutani’s glare weakened.
             “I’m taking you to your room. Where is it?” He pronounced each syllable slowly, as if he were talking to a child. Like magic, Kyoutani’s glare strengthened again.
             “Not… telling you.”
             Yahaba sighed. Huh. Maybe I am talking to a child.
             “Fine. I’ll figure it out myself.”
             With that, he reached out and hooked an arm around the back of Kyoutani’s legs, his other arm sliding from his shoulder to his upper back. The furrow in his teammate’s brow disappeared as his eyes widened in shock.
             “The hell’re you…?” Whether he trailed off because he was flustered or because he couldn’t breathe, Yahaba didn’t know. He grunted, lifting his teammate in his arms. Damn. He’s smaller than me, but he’s still heavy.
             “I’m taking you to your room. By the way, this’ll be a lot easier if you just tell me where it is.”
             “Fuck off,” Kyoutani gasped, pushing weakly against his chest in a futile attempt to escape.
             “Not happening.” Yahaba started down the hallway. “Where’s your room?” I swear, if this guy gets me sick….
             The smell of alcohol grew stronger as he reached the living room. It was sparse, with only a ragged old recliner, chipped coffee table, and small television set. Trash littered the floor, and beside the recliner sat a small mountain of empty beer cans and liquor bottles. Yahaba looked away, focusing his attention on the angry spiker he was carrying. Kyoutani stopped struggling, breaking eye contact. For the first time since Yahaba had met him, he looked almost defeated. He nodded at the first door past the living room on the right.
             The door was slightly ajar, and Yahaba kicked it open to reveal an equally sparse, but far cleaner bedroom. A dark blue mattress lay against the center of its left wall, half-covered in a blanket, but no sheet. There was a short nightstand next to it, a half-empty glass of water on its surface, but other than that and a rather conspicuous shrine in the corner, the room was completely empty. The shrine, more well-kept than anything else in the house, was made from dark, polished wood, adorned with unlit candles, and held a picture of a peacefully smiling woman who looked to be in her mid-thirties. Yahaba glanced away almost as soon as he saw it, back down at Kyoutani. His teammate was avoiding eye contact for once, looking borderline miserable.
             Kyoutani…. He forced his sympathy away, knowing Kyoutani didn’t want or need it. Instead, he crossed the room and slowly lowered his teammate onto his mattress. Kyoutani extricated himself from his arms as quickly as possible, shifting slightly until his head rested on the flattened pillow at the top of his bed. He still wouldn’t make eye contact. Yahaba straightened and sighed, reaching down to pull Kyoutani’s blanket up to his chin.
             “Why are… you doing this?” Kyoutani breathed. His usual scowl was completely absent, replaced with a small, painfully vulnerable frown. Yahaba tried not to find it endearing.
             “Because I’m a saint.” He turned. “I’m going to get your medicine.”
             He left the room before Kyoutani could protest, pointedly avoiding observing anything more about the house as he went. He was sharply conscious of what an invasion of privacy this was, and of how much it was clearly hurting Kyoutani, whose pride had formed walls so thick that few people ever had the opportunity to even see him without his signature glare. And, he realized dimly as he approached the still-open front door, he actually wasn’t quite sure why he was doing this.
             Nope. He reached down for the plastic bag still on the porch, shutting the door behind him this time. That’s just another front. He was doing this because he cared about Kyoutani, because he was one of those few people who’d seen him without his glare. Somehow, after their match against Karasuno, the two of them had formed an odd sort of bond, sticking together during practice, exchanging numbers, and occasionally even eating lunch together. He wasn’t sure if the other boy felt the same, but Yahaba thought of him as a friend. That was why it hurt so much when he skipped practice, why, more than pity, he felt concern and empathy for him as his eyes inadvertently landed again on the empty alcohol bottles in his living room. And that was why he was spending his Friday evening carrying him around and tucking him into bed when he could be playing video games at home.
             “Alright, this is the good stuff,” he said as he opened the door to Kyoutani’s room again. “You’re gonna take the largest recommended dose, since you’re dying.”
             “I’m not… dying,” Kyoutani protested, only his head and the tips of his hands sticking out from under his blanket. Yahaba fought fiercely to keep a smile from forming on his face. Nope. No way. I may think of him as a friend, but I definitely do not think he looks adorable right now.
             “You are.” Yahaba grunted as he sat down next to the mattress, setting the plastic bag down next to him. “I hope you’ve written your last will and testament.”
             “...Shut up.”
             Yahaba clicked his tongue disapprovingly and poured three pills from the bottle, reaching for the glass of water on the nightstand.
             “Won’t get into heaven with that attitude.” He handed the pills to Kyoutani and held the glass next to his lips. “Here. Swallow these, and drink up.”
             It was hard to tell because his entire face was flushed, but Yahaba thought he saw a slight blush rise to Kyoutani’s cheeks as he sat up straight, back leaned against the wall. Is he… pouting?
             “I’ll hold it myself.” He reached feebly for the glass, and Yahaba yanked it away easily.
             “Yeah, right. You’d spill it all over yourself.”
             “No, I wouldn’t.” Dammit. He’s definitely pouting now. No fair.
             “Shut up and take your medicine.” Yahaba shoved the glass toward him again. “I can see your life force draining away.” Kyoutani glared at him for a few seconds longer, and then clicked his tongue harshly, glancing away.
             “...Asshole.”
             With that, he brought a trembling hand to his mouth and poured the pills in, then leaned forward. Yahaba brought the glass to his lips and tilted it gently, trying not to pay too much attention to Kyoutani’s unusually soft expression or the way the water slid down his throat in a slow, fluid motion. Or to the fact that he trusted him enough to let him do this in the first place, regardless of how much back-and-forth it took beforehand. Once his teammate swallowed, Yahaba pulled the glass away, set it back down on the nightstand, and reached out to lay a hand on Kyoutani’s forehead. Kyoutani flinched, eyes snapping wide in alarm.
             “What’re y-you doing?” he demanded. Yahaba rolled his eyes.
             “Checking your temperature. Hasn’t anyone ever-,”
             He broke off abruptly, the shrine behind him and the empty recliner in the living room suddenly flashing through his mind. Kyoutani’s forehead wasn’t burning, but it was certainly hot, hot enough to be concerning. Yahaba let his hand drop. And he was just lying here, probably miserable, with no one to look after him. He suddenly felt a stab of resentment toward a man he’d never even met.
             “Where’s your dad?” The question slipped out before Yahaba could stop it, and Kyoutani’s eyes instantly narrowed again.
             “Why the hell… should you care?” he asked, glancing away. A hint of pain was buried somewhere in his expression. He’s defensive. Of course he’s defensive. Of course he has a hard time trusting people. Yahaba scoffed and shrugged.
             “Good question. I don’t know. I just do.”
             Kyoutani looked back at him, and he leaned forward, placing a hand on the bed and trying to fight down his sudden nerves.
             “I do care, Kyoutani.”
             A brief silence settled over them. For a moment, Kyoutani just stared at him, amber eyes glistening with vulnerability and what Yahaba couldn’t see as anything other than faint hope. And then he huffed, looking away again, a deep frown settling over his features. Yahaba leaned back again, almost ready to break the silence himself.
             “...He’s… out drinking, probably,” Kyoutani responded suddenly. His already trembling shoulders slumped, pain rising to the surface of his expression despite his obvious attempts to maintain his usual glare. Yahaba felt as though someone were squeezing his heart. Stormclouds of anger roiled in his chest. I don’t even see a wet cloth anywhere. Dammit, if his fever had gotten worse, he might’ve actually been in danger.
             He stood abruptly.
             “Where’s your bathroom?”
             “Huh?” Kyoutani snapped from his unhappy trance to look at him, blinking.
             “Or kitchen,” Yahaba added quickly, realizing how that sounded. “Anywhere I can get cold water and a cloth.” For a moment, he thought that Kyoutani might not answer.
             “Bathroom’s across the hall.”
             Yahaba nodded and turned away, crossing the room and the narrow hallway outside it. The bathroom beyond the door in front of him was as messy as the living room, and he shivered in disgust as he saw a roach scuttle across the bottom of the bathtub. No wonder Kyoutani spends so much time on extracurriculars, even when he was skipping club. This place is a dump. As he reached into a nearby cabinet, pulling out the cleanest cloth he could find, he glanced back at the bedroom behind him. His room is clean, though.
             Thankfully, the water that came from the bathroom faucet was clear, rather than the brown he’d feared it might be. He spent an extra few minutes washing the cloth until it was absolutely clean, glancing down at his feet every so often to make sure a roach wasn’t about to crawl up his leg. By the time he was finished, the cloth was already soaked with ice-cold water, and he wringed it out a bit before folding it.
             Turning off the light, he left the bathroom, closing the door behind him, and returned to Kyoutani’s room once again. His teammate had laid back down in his bed, taking in breaths that were just a bit too fast and a bit too shallow. Yahaba crossed the room and sat down next to his mattress again. Neither of them said anything. He reached out, laying the cloth across Kyoutani’s forehead and pressing it down.
             He felt heat rise to his cheeks as Kyoutani closed his eyes, leaning into the touch with a tiny frown. No way. No way. Just a few hours ago, he’d been furious at his teammate for skipping practice, and now he was sitting in his house, pressing a cloth to his forehead and finding him absolutely adorable. Still, as Kyoutani sighed, his body relaxing under the blanket, the sight wrenched a bit at Yahaba’s heart. He bit his lip, drawing his hand back slowly. Just a cloth. Just a cloth and five minutes is all it would’ve taken to make him feel a little better.
             Kyoutani didn’t open his eyes. Instead, he sank deeper into the mattress, breaths slowing gradually as he did so. Though his face was still flushed, his expression just the slightest bit pained from his fever, he looked more peaceful than Yahaba had ever seen him. He drew his knees to his chest and watched until his teammate fully fell asleep. Seconds passed, then minutes.
             ...I should leave. He glanced around the room, but there was no clock. His gaze inevitably returned to Kyoutani. Or should I? He reached out and peeled the cloth from his forehead as gently as he could, checking his temperature with his other hand. His teammate’s skin still felt warm, though it may have cooled down a little. He replaced the cloth and frowned worriedly. But what if his fever gets worse again? There’s no telling when his dad’ll get back, and even if he does, he probably won’t be any help.
             His phone buzzed in his pocket, and he pulled it out.
             “Shit.”
             He had two missed calls and several unanswered texts from his mother, all asking where the hell he was and why he was so late. Pursing his lips with another glance at the sleeping Kyoutani, he typed out a brief message explaining to her that he’d ended up hanging around to help take care of his teammate for a bit. No need to go more into it than that. She’s gonna chew my head off when I get home either way. Still, if I don’t go home soon, she’ll probably get worried. He looked back at Kyoutani. I’ll just replace the cloth before I go.
             Setting his phone down, he sat up with a grunt and slowly peeled the cloth from Kyoutani’s forehead. His teammate’s brow furrowed briefly, and he mumbled in his sleep, but his eyes remained closed. Yahaba exhaled and stood up. It’s okay for me to think he’s cute when he’s sleeping, right? I mean, anything’s cuter than Kyoutani when he’s awake.
             Trying to get rid of his persistent, nonsensical blush, he turned and headed for the bathroom again. This time, it only took him a couple of minutes to wash the cloth and dampen it with cold water, before he returned to the bedroom, where Kyoutani was still fast asleep. He crouched down and slowly, carefully placed the cloth on his teammate’s forehead. There. That should do it.
             He lingered for a moment. Kyoutani’s breathing had sped up again, his brow furrowed even as he slept. Yahaba’s phone buzzed from the floor, displaying a glowing text message from his mother.
             Come home soon.
             He glanced away from his phone, at the little shrine Kyoutani had built in the corner of his room. The woman in the picture was heavyset, with short, dark hair and little eyebrows that resembled Kyoutani’s. Unlike Kyoutani, she looked cheerful, her face lit up in a bright but gentle smile that creased the beginnings of crow’s feet forming beside her eyes. The shrine itself was meticulously decorated with candles and incense, not a speck of dust visible anywhere on its surface. It was, without a doubt, the most beautiful part of the house.
             Yahaba looked away. His own mother was waiting. Picking up his phone and sliding it into his pocket, he turned and stepped toward the door.
             Suddenly, calloused fingers grasped loosely at the tips of his own, trembling with the effort of doing so. He jumped and turned his head. Kyoutani was looking at him, his face barely visible beneath his covers and the cloth on his forehead. His honey eyes were soft and vulnerable, his cheeks colored a feverish red, his brow furrowed with faint desperation. His fingers tightened around Yahaba’s, still shaking.
             “Don’t go. Please.”
             Yahaba’s heart melted. Kyoutani’s voice was openly pleading, barely audible, and filled with so much loneliness that he thought one or both of them might start crying any second. He’d never imagined in a thousand years that he would ever hear Kyoutani utter those words, let alone the way he’d uttered them, let alone to him. He intertwined his fingers with Kyoutani’s, smiled, and tried to piece himself back together. He let out a shaky laugh.
             “You must really be on your deathbed, huh?” The lightness in his voice sounded fake. He knew it did. Kyoutani’s expression didn’t change as he turned completely around. Oh. I see. “That medicine’s making you loopy.”
             Kyoutani’s attempt at a glare produced only an adorable pout. Damn him.
             “No… it’s not,” he protested, the wooziness in his voice confirming Yahaba’s suspicions. He sighed and sat back down, their fingers still intertwined.
             “Fine, whatever you say,” he relented. “Here. I’ll stay until your dad gets back, okay?”
             Kyoutani looked away, his typical frown returning.
             “Whatever,” he grumbled. Whatever? ...You jackass. There’s no point in acting all grumpy now.
             “Go back to sleep,” Yahaba chided, extricating his hand from Kyoutani’s to thump him lightly on the forehead. His teammate blinked, then scowled.
             “Fine.” The angry expression dropped from his face, vulnerability returning to his amber eyes as they glanced back at Yahaba. “...You won’t leave?”
             Yahaba’s heart skipped a beat. He forced another smile, laying his hand back down on top of his teammate’s.
             “No. I’m right here.”
             Kyoutani nodded and then slowly closed his eyes. As his breathing slowed again, Yahaba sighed what was absolutely not an affectionate sigh and moved his hand. If he remembers this when he wakes up, he’s gonna be so pissed. Right now, however, his teammate looked even more peaceful than before. Yahaba checked his temperature again. He’s cooling down.
             Pulling his phone back out, he sent what was nearly a paragraph text explaining, only partly lying, that Kyoutani was getting worse, that he was worried about him, and asking for permission to spend the night at his house. She’ll probably be asleep by the time I get back, anyway, so it won’t make a difference. Eventually, she responded.
             Fine. Let me know beforehand next time you plan on doing this
             Yahaba chuckled quietly to himself. Hopefully never. Tonight, he was sure, he’d gone above and beyond a prospective captain’s duties, though he had to admit that Kyoutani had been easier to take care of than he’d expected. He laid his chin on his arms thoughtfully, watching his teammate’s chest slowly rise and fall. Plus, I’ve learned way more about him today than I learned in all of two years. More than I probably should have. Kyoutani let out a soft hum in his sleep, shifting slightly beneath his blanket, and color rose to Yahaba’s cheeks. He buried his head in his arms and groaned. And about myself.
             Yahaba spent the next few hours alternately fidgeting with his phone, checking Kyoutani’s temperature, changing the cloth on his head, and yawning. His phone, which he’d somehow forgotten earlier could display the time, flashed first 11:00, then 12:00, then 1:00. He expected to hear the front door opening any minute, to see Kyoutani’s dad stumbling through the hallway, drunk and an asshole but at least there, but the apartment stayed silent. Finally, as he returned to the room with a fresh cloth, he noticed Kyoutani’s school bag on the other side of the mattress, a pad of sticky notes and pens protruding from its side pocket. That’s right. I should probably leave him a message.
             He took a few minutes to refill the glass on Kyoutani’s nightstand, then walked around the mattress to pull a sticky note and pen from his bag. Sorry about this, Kyoutani. ...Actually, you know what, I’m not sorry. Call it my caretaker’s tax. Sitting back down and trying to blink the sleep from his eyes, he deliberated for a moment, tapping the pen against his lips. Finally, he scratched a short message down, setting the note in front of the pill bottle and water glass on the nightstand.
             Call me if you need to, asshole. - Yahaba
             He yawned and stretched. Kyoutani was still sleeping, though he was clearly dreaming now, his brow furrowed and his lips twisting in a grimace. Yahaba laughed quietly. Even his dreams are aggressive. How cute. He froze, then shook his head to clear it. I need my own sleep. I’m getting delirious. He sighed, scooting closer to the head of the mattress. Kyoutani suddenly bared his teeth, eyes still shut tight, and let out a whine. Is he having a nightmare…?
             Before he knew it, Yahaba was reaching a gentle hand up to the top of Kyoutani’s head, softly stroking his fuzzy blonde hair. His teammate’s expression suddenly changed, the look of strain gradually returning to one of peace. He quieted again, tensed muscles relaxing, and, subconsciously, he leaned into Yahaba’s touch. Finally, he sighed, falling back into a deep, serene sleep.
             Yahaba pulled his fingers back and dropped his head onto the mattress in defeat. God damn it.
             Suddenly, the loud creak of a door swinging open sounded from the front of the apartment. Yahaba stiffened and stood immediately, crossing the room in a few swift steps, turning the light off, and closing the door as he exited. He was standing in the hallway when he saw Kyoutani’s dad stumble into the living room, cheeks predictably tinted pink from a night of drinking.
             He was a tall, somewhat stocky man, the hint of once-toned muscles drowned out by his beer belly and sagging posture. In the face, his resemblance to Kyoutani was uncanny, with the same dark circles and furrowed brow, but it was marred by his scraggly facial hair and acne-covered skin, ruined by years of alcohol abuse. But it was with Kyoutani’s sharp amber eyes that he looked up, and, seeing a stranger in his house, froze in his tracks. Yahaba folded his arms and lifted his chin, holding the man’s uncomprehending gaze contemptuously.
             “Fuck’re you?” Kyoutani’s dad slurred.
             “I’m a friend of your son’s,” he responded coolly. “I’ve been taking care of him, since he’s sick.” He enunciated each of those last three syllables clearly, allowing his cold animosity to burn through. The man’s eyes narrowed.
             “I….” He hiccuped. “Didn’t say y’could be here.”
             Yahaba scoffed. He walked forward and stood mere inches from the man’s face, nose wrinkling at the smell of alcohol reeking from his breath.
             “You’re right. I shouldn’t have been here.” He was taller than Kyoutani’s dad, and he used it to his advantage, tilting his head down to fix him with a freezing, furious glare. “You should have.”
             With that, he brushed past the alcoholic wreck, bumping him roughly with his shoulder as he did so. With one swift motion, he opened the front door and closed it behind him, only doing so gently because Kyoutani was presumably still sleeping. If that asshole wakes him up, I’ll kick the shit out of him. As he left the apartment complex and started down the sidewalk, he took a deep breath in and out, gradually calming his fuming temper. Eventually, he sighed, feeling an exasperated smile spread across his face. And since when did I care so much?
             He glanced down at the tips of his fingers. It’s gonna be a long weekend.

             Morning practice on Tuesday was the first time Yahaba saw Kyoutani again. Of course, he had to be the only person in the club room when his blonde teammate entered, looking far healthier and sporting his usual scowl. The moment their eyes met, they both looked away. Yahaba tried to focus on putting his school uniform away neatly in his locker, and not on the heat spreading across his entire face. Shit. How much does he remember? Come on, say something! How much do you remember?
             “...You shouldn’t’ve come in,” Kyoutani grumbled finally, narrowed eyes still focused on his locker. Yahaba turned to him, mouth agape.
             “Seriously? So, what, I should’ve just seen you crumpled on the floor like a dying old woman, said, ‘Hi, Kyoutani! Here’s your medicine!’, chucked it onto your corpse, and left?
             “I wasn’t a corpse,” his teammate snapped back, fists clenched. “I didn’t die.”
             “Yeah, thanks to me!” Yahaba jerked a thumb at his chest, not caring how probably untrue his words were, or how dumb this whole argument was in the first place. Kyoutani scoffed.
             “You’re full of shit.”
             “Okay, fine, I am, but so are you!”
             “Shut up.” Kyoutani looked away stormily, and then, before Yahaba could reply, he continued. “That’s not what I meant, anyway.”
             Yahaba leaned back and folded his arms.
             “Oh, yeah? What did you mean?”
             “I-I mean….” For some reason, as Kyoutani looked back up at him, his cheeks were dusted a faint pink. Yahaba flinched. Oh, hell no. Conscious Kyoutani can’t be cute, too. “I’m… glad that you brought me medicine and stuff. I just mean I didn’t want you to….” The words looked like they physically pained him, and he trailed off.
             Yahaba let his arms fall to his sides, staring at his teammate in amazement. He’s trying to communicate. He’s really trying to communicate. And… I think I understand him. He sighed, then fixed Kyoutani with a serious stare.
             “I’m not gonna start going easy on you just because I know about your family.” Kyoutani blinked in surprise, and Yahaba continued, his tone unrelenting. “You’re still an asshole, even if you have a reason for it. And I’m not gonna let you get away with it any more than I would anyone else.” I don’t pity you. I see you as an equal, and I’m going to treat you like one. But…. He stepped forward, clapping a hand onto Kyoutani’s shoulder. “But if you’re ever sick again, don’t just sit there and wait for death, okay?” I’m here for you.
             Kyoutani stared up at him, his eyes wide. A second passed, then another. Suddenly, he tensed, reaching out and swatting Yahaba’s hand from his shoulder.
             “F-fine,” he grumbled. His lips trembled. Is he… trying not to smile?
             Unable to contain himself, Yahaba burst out laughing, reaching out and ruffling Kyoutani’s hair with his knuckles.
             “It’s okay to smile, you know!”
             Kyoutani glared up at him furiously, cheeks and ears tinted red, and knocked his hand away.
             “S-stop it, asshole! What the hell is it with you and my hair?”
             Yahaba froze instantly. He could feel his entire face turning fire engine red. Oh. Oh shit. He does remember.
             “W-wait, I thought you were asleep for that!”
             “I was, until I woke up to you petting me like a creep!”
             “Hey, you’re the one who grabbed my hand and begged me not to leave!”
             Now it was Kyoutani’s turn to go completely beet red, the power of his glare significantly weakened by his obvious embarrassment.
             “I-I wasn’t begging! And if you hated it that much, you should’ve just left!” Anxiety tinged his words, and Yahaba hesitated for only a second before shouting back.
             “Well then, obviously I didn’t hate it!”
             Kyoutani visibly leaned back, his glare disappearing almost entirely into his flustered expression. Oh my god. I’m going to die.
             “W-well then, maybe I didn’t hate you touching my hair!”
             “Then what the hell are you yelling at me for?”
             “I don’t know!”
             “U-um, Yahaba-san?”
             Yahaba didn’t think he could be any more mortified. He whipped around to see Kindaichi standing in the doorway to the club room, his own cheeks pink with embarrassment, his eyes wide as he stared between the two of them. Beside him was Kunimi, his eyes also wide in a rare display of emotion, also flitting rapidly between the two of them.
             “K-Kindaichi,” Yahaba stammered. “Kunimi.” Before he could think of the words to even begin to explain what was going on, he felt someone push past him roughly, and he stumbled. Looking up, he watched as Kyoutani stalked out of the room, face still completely red, pushing past Kindaichi in the process as well. The sight galvanized him into action, and he launched himself out of the club room after his ace-to-be half as a means of escape.
             “H-hey, Kyoutani, don’t be an asshole!” he called after him. Kyoutani turned his head to look back at him, still a blushing mess, and kept walking.
             “Shut up!”
             Yahaba groaned. This was exactly how this whole mess started, and he was not going to let it happen again. He sprang after his teammate, deciding to be there for him in a more literal sense this time.
             “And don’t you run away from practice again, either! ...Kyoutani? Kyoutani!