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one last time

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“Why do you have to be so fucking proud? Would it kill you to say ‘sorry’ once in a while?” It was something dumb, Hokuto couldn’t even remember what they started fighting about but they had been going at it for the past hour. Words thrown between the both of them seemed like knives, it was starting to look like a sick game, who could say the most before making the other break. Stuck in their car, Hokuto slammed his hands down on the steering wheel trying to keep himself from saying something that would only add fuel to their fire. They usually didn’t fight like this, but stress from work had been building up on both of them during the week, it was just a matter of time before they snapped, and something small that day had caused them to start their screamfest. The traffic only made it so much worse, their loud voices amplified in the enclosed space. Breathe , Hokuto reminded himself. He didn’t want to say something that he would regret later on, but Taiga was really testing his patience today. 


Hokuto slammed on the brakes, the SUV jolting to a halt. The sudden movement caused both of them to jerk forward in their seats, the younger reaching his left hand out instinctively to protect Taiga should he slam into the dashboard. “What the fuck,” Hokuto seethed. The car in front of them had stopped without any warning. If Hokuto reacted a split second later, they would’ve crashed right into it. He heard the sound of brakes from the cars behind them too, followed by long presses of horns. They were in the middle of a highway, there shouldn’t be a reason for the traffic to completely stop moving out of nowhere but no one showed any signs of moving. Hokuto was confused when people started coming out from the cars around them. He thought everyone had to have lost their minds to start walking in the middle of the highway. He heard the click of the seatbelt from beside him, Taiga unfastening it and his hand already on the car door. Before Hokuto could stop him, he was already stepping outside. Hokuto all but groaned, having no choice but to chase after the reckless blond yet again.


When Hokuto got out of the car, he saw Taiga standing in front of the car hood, eyes fixated on something above. In fact, everyone around them was staring at the sky. Hokuto looked up, only to see that the afternoon sky had turned a shade of violet, lighting strikes streaking across it. It was entrancingly beautiful, the pastel shade of the clouds reminding him of cotton candy and lilac fields, but at the same time there was something sinister about it, something unnatural. The more he looked at the sky, the more he felt his heartbeat picking up. Something wasn’t right here. “Taiga,” he called out cautiously. He didn’t know what he was afraid of, but he knew they had to get out of there soon. He whipped his head around when he heard the sound of the radio nearby. Someone had turned up their stereo loud enough for everyone to hear. The signal was bad, Hokuto straining to listen to the newscaster. 


“..astro debris… meteors… it’s over… end of the world… may God bless you all…” the fragments of the news crackled before turning to static. Hokuto felt like his lungs had stopped working, like he had suddenly forgotten how to breathe. It was too much to take in. He heard screams and sobs from all around them, like they were confirming what he just heard. He turned to look at Taiga, the blond’s eyes brimming with tears, biting his lips as they quivered. They didn’t know enough, they didn’t know what was going on but somehow everyone seemed to accept that it was real. There was no point in running, it was really the end. Hokuto locked gazes with Taiga, his eyes had an indescribable sadness in them. He looked so lost and hopeless, Hokuto felt like he was looking at a child. But neither were able to say anything. They didn’t know what to say. What would you say if you knew the world was going to end soon? Hokuto heard a whimper escape from the older before he opened his arms, Taiga almost falling into his embrace.Taiga sobbed into Hokuto’s chest, staining the younger’s shirt with all his tears. Hokuto held the blond tightly, gripping at his shirt. Taiga returned the embrace twice as hard, blunt nails digging into Hokuto’s skin through the thin material of his sweater. It hurt, but Hokuto didn’t care, not when he only had mere seconds to live, not when he only had mere seconds to hold Taiga. Both of them shook with the force of their sobs, each gasping desperately for breath but it was as if air couldn’t reach their lungs anymore. Hokuto heard more screams erupting from around them before the sound of an explosion filled the air. Taiga sobbed even louder, panting onto the skin on Hokuto’s collarbone, exposed from having his sweater pulled down. Hokuto just placed his hand on the back of Taiga’s head, pulling him even closer to his chest, trying to stop the older from seeing all the chaos, from seeing the world fall to pieces.


“Hokuto, I’m scared,” the words sounding barely coherent as Taiga continued to wail into Hokuto’s body. Hokuto was scared too, of course. He was terrified but he couldn’t show it because it would make Taiga panic even more. Gently, Hokuto threaded his fingers in Taiga’s blond locks, trying to memorise how soft the strands felt, trying to hide the shaking in his voice. He whispered in Taiga’s ear in an attempt to comfort him. “It’s okay, I’m here. You’re safe.” The words were for him as much as they were for Taiga. Weak in the knees, the two sank to the concrete, never once loosening their grip on each other. Suddenly, there was the sound of something rushing right above them. The two looked overhead at the meteor shooting across the darkening purple sky, this time landing closer to the highway. All they could do was stare as the meteor hit Tokyo Tower, the deafening crash followed by screams as the structure completely collapsed onto the roads around it. Hokuto squeezed his eyes shut, praying that it was all some sick dream, that he would open his eyes and he would magically be at home, lying in their bedroom. That he would wake up to see Taiga sleeping next to him, gentle rise and fall of his chest reminding him that they were still alive. No matter how hard he tried to tune out all the chaos, it wasn’t going away. He was still there, sitting on the concrete as Taiga bawled into his hold. 


Hokuto struggled to keep his eyes open, they were swelling shut from how much he was sobbing. He looked up at the sky once again. Just minutes ago, it was a faded lilac. Now it was an intense purple, the colour of amethyst stone as neon blue lightning flashed through the dark smoke trails from the comets. He held Taiga tighter, if it was even possible. He slid his hand under the older’s shirt, rubbing the skin on his back, drawing patterns on it as Taiga dry heaved from all the crying. His other hand, Hokuto lifted to run through Taiga’s hair, combing his fingers through it, just like how his mother used to do when he cried. He buried his face in the blond tufts, inhaling Taiga’s citrus scent. Like a broken record, Hokuto repeated the same words over and over again. “ I love you. I love you. I love you. ” No matter how many times he said it, it felt like it wasn’t enough. He wanted to live until he turned seventy, hair all grey and skin wrinkled with Taiga by his side, spending the rest of their days together. He wanted to whisper those words every night, every morning, and every other moment he could sneak them in. He needed to say them now, so Taiga would know exactly how much Hokuto loved him. But it will never be enough. These few minutes will never be enough. 


“Will I see you again?” a small voice cried from within Hokuto’s arms. Taiga’s voice was broken, both metaphorically and literally. It was scratchy from sobbing, and it sounded full of defeat, Taiga knowing fully well that there was nothing they could do to save themselves. Hokuto wasn’t sure what to tell him. He didn’t know what was going to happen after all of this. It felt like taking a plunge into the unknown. He didn’t want to promise Taiga anything, because who knows what will become of them after today. Hokuto let out a shudder, carefully picking his words. “I’ll find you again, I swear,” Hokuto said firmly, despite his trembling voice. He didn’t know if they would ever see each other again, but what he did know for sure was that he would search for Taiga. In this world, and the next, and the next, he would always look for him because Taiga was all he had, and all he would ever be. That was something the younger was sure of. 


They didn’t have much time left. Finally, Hokuto pulled Taiga away from his chest before locking their lips together, hand gently cupping Taiga’s jaw, his thumb stroking the skin in circles. It was soft, but there was a burning passion in it. Hokuto wanted to freeze time at this very moment, he wanted to remember the way Taiga’s lips felt for eons to come. He wanted to make up for the lost time from their fighting, all the days he wasted by not kissing Taiga and not telling him how much he loved him. But he wasn’t God, and they couldn’t stay that way forever. So he pulled away, his thumb resting on Taiga’s cheek. He looked into Taiga’s red rimmed eyes. How he still managed to look so beautiful with tangled hair, blotchy face and swollen eyes, Hokuto could never understand, but looking at Taiga now took all the breath out of his lungs. The way the wind blew the blond strands framing his face, pale skin striking against the neon purple landscape behind him. Taiga looked stunning. A tragic, yet pretty sight, for the last time that Hokuto would ever look at Taiga. This was not the way Hokuto wanted to end their story, but they had run out of pages. They had run out of time.


Hokuto repeatedly pressed his lips against Taiga’s, kissing him again, and again. He needed to say it soon. Married couples, families huddling around their children, everyone saying their last apologies and bidding each other farewell. He pulled away from Taiga, resting his forehead on the older’s as he looked into his gaze. He had to say it now. The words refused to leave his lips, because once he says them, it would truly be over. But he knew he couldn’t be at ease if he didn’t say them, so he swallowed the lump in his throat before willing himself to spit them out.


“Goodbye, Taiga. I’m so sorry.” The words were too much for Taiga, the older crumbling and burying his face in Hokuto’s sweater. It broke Hokuto to see him like that, but he needed to tell him no matter what. “No, no Hokuto. This isn’t goodbye . Please don’t say that, Hokuto.” Taiga whimpered. It was desperate and pleading, Hokuto couldn’t stand seeing him like that. The younger peeled Taiga away from his chest, shaking his shoulders, forcing him to look into his eyes. “Taiga, look at me.” Taiga stared into Hokuto’s eyes. Say it, one last time , Hokuto’s eyes pleaded. Taiga finally got a hold of himself, hands wrapping around Hokuto’s arms that were still gripping the blond’s shoulders. 


“I love you, Hokuto. I’m sorry. I’m so, so sorry.” When the words left Taiga’s lips, Hokuto let out a smile amidst all his tears. They were going to be okay, because they would search for each other, just like he had promised. Despite the chaos around them, they remained still, Hokuto holding onto Taiga’s shoulders, Taiga grasping Hokuto’s arms. And they just stayed like that, looking into each other’s eyes. Whispering I love you’ s again and again as they waited for the sky to fall, bittersweet smiles decorating their lips. The screaming around them rose to a crescendo, in their peripheral vision they could see people pointing at the sky right above them. The sound of something rushing down towards them, it was coming soon. Hokuto prayed for them. Please protect us. The sky turned dark.


“I love you, Taiga.”


“I love you, Hokuto.”