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Rainbow Veins

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Bokuto Koutarou thought of himself as a lot of things, but above all strong, fearless and tough. When he was 15 and broke his arm after pulling off a very risky volleyball stunt with his best friend Kuroo Tetsurou, it turned out he wasn’t any of that.

He was currently located in the waiting room of the hospital nearest to his school, lingering on one of the chairs with his right arm covered in white plaster. His eyes still stung from the tears of pain he had shed and all in all, he was in a really bad mood.

“This is your entire fault” he muttered to his best friend who was sitting next to him.

“Stop being such a baby. It was your idea, not mine. Take responsibilities.”

That comment made him snort. “Look who’s talking.”

Tetsurou only responded with a snicker what made him raise his still intact arm.

Before he could punch him though, his parents came back accompanied by a doctor. Koutarou froze upon seeing the tissue between his mother’s fingers and the tears in her eyes.

He instantly grabbed the sleeve of his best friend’s shirt and turned to him with eyes widened.

“I knew it! I freakin’ knew it and it’s all your fault, asshole!” He turned away from Tetsurou again then, dropping his head back and fingers tearing at his silver hair. “I will never be able to play Volleyball ever again!”

“Would you please drop that pesky Volleyball of yours for once and listen to what the doctor has to say, Koutarou?”

Said boy only gulped and shut his moth in an instant. His father hardly ever was that serious but when he was, it was scary.

Oh god. He was going to die…

It didn’t really help him calm down when the doctor started talking in a very slow voice to him. As if he were some kid that was about to burst out in tears any moment because it dropped his ice cream cone. Okay, maybe he would actually do start tearing up when he dropped his ice cream, but just because ice cream was delicious and not because he was a kid. He was in high school now and very mature.

He felt Tetsurou’s elbow meeting his side in a painful attempt of getting his attention. “Dude, are you listening?”

He snapped his attention back to the doctor the moment he said something about the x-rays he had to do and a tumor on one of the radiographs. His eyes instantly widened in panic.

“Mom!”

He turned to his mother expectantly, as if she would tell him that everything the doctor had just said was only a joke or something.

The elegant woman sat down next to him and took his non-plastered hand in hers.

“Kou, baby, there’s no need to panic right now okay?”

“Your mother is right. It’s luck that the doctors discovered it that early. Nobody wants to imagine what would’ve happened if you didn’t happen to break your arm today.” His father still looked rather serious, but there was a small smile gracing at the corner of his lips. It didn’t make Koutarou feel much better, though.

“See?” Tetsurou blended in. “So I’ve actually saved your life today. You should be grateful, man.”

He only shot his best friend an annoyed look. Was he the only one here panicking about him having freakin’ cancer?

The doctor continued, “Well, it’s not even certain that the tumor is malignant yet. We still have to do some tests. If it turns out innocuous, there might be no need for surgery at all.”

“S-surgery?! Mooooom…” Koutarou hid his face in his mother’s shoulder, tears starting to form in his eyes. This had to be the worst day ever in his whole life.

 

He was admitted to the children’s ward later that day so the doctors could begin with their tests as soon as possible. Koutarou was sitting in one of the beds in a room shared with other kids. All of them were sick, some were annoyingly young and therefore way too loud and Koutarou already knew he was going to hate this place a lot.

He rolled around in his bed, still wearing his school uniform since his parents were on their way home right now to pack for his stay and get his pajamas.

“This sucks…” he complained for the 5th time since they were here and Tetsurou only sighed.

“Well, at least you got no school for the next what, weeks? Months? Cheer up a bit, will ya.”

“Fuck off. You’re the worst friend ever, do you know that?” The last part was muffled, since Koutarou was currently burying his face glumly in his pillow.

“You love me” came from the other side of his bed where the black haired teen has made himself comfortable.

Yeah, maybe he did. But that was not the point right now.

“Hey, Tetsu…”

“Hmm?”

He turned around and looked up to the other teen with a serious look on his face.

“What if I really got cancer?”

The other one hesitated before pulling off a cheeky grin. “At least you got a reason then to get rid of that awful hair of yours.”

Koutarou grabbed his pillow and threw it in the direction of his so called best friend, which almost made him fall out off the bed. He would’ve deserved it.

He muttered a comment about how Tetsurou’s hair was even more of a train wreck than his own, but the other one just laughed at that.

“Hey, bro.”

“Hmm…”

“I’m sure you would look hella good being bald.”

“Shut up, idiot.”

 

The fooling around didn’t stop until Koutarou’s parents came back, much to the distress of the other kids and parents in the room. There were a lot of pillows and cushions flying around between the two boys, until one of the nurses came and confiscated all of them. Their little pillow fight distracted Koutarou at least, which seemed to ease his parents a bit. Koutarou’s mood was a lot better than before, even if they scolded him for not being able to behave.

Tetsurou had to leave soon since there was school next day. They hugged goodbye and the black haired boy promised him to come visit him tomorrow right after practice ended. His parents stayed a little longer, but eventually had to leave as well.

Koutarou was doing fine until then, since having company was successfully distracting him from everything that had happened in the past hours. But now that he was alone, the distressing thoughts and the slight uncomfortableness forming in his guts were coming back. Not to mention that the effects of the pain killers were slowly drifting off as well which made his arm start to hurt again.

Koutarou pressed his face against his pillow and sighed heavily.

He slightly dazed off, until he felt at tug at his pajama sleeve and someone rolling it upwards. He jerked awake completely and looked around in panic. As soon as he saw the big syringe in the hands of the nurse in front of him, he snapped his arm away from her.

“It’s okay. We only need a little blood from you” the nurse explained. “It won’t hurt, I promise.”

She smiled, but Koutarou didn’t let himself being fooled by that. Like hell he was going to let himself punctuated with that thing.

“Umm...” he hummed innocently while sitting up. “I’m feeling a little bit dizzy. Can I have a glass of water before that?”

The nurse sighed but agreed. The moment she turned her back on him though, Koutarou had climbed off the bed in an instant and fled into the darkness of the hospital corridor.

 

He found an unoccupied room at the end of the hall and stumbled into it, silently closing the door behind him to prevent attracting attention. He moved a few steps backwards and was now standing in the middle of the dark room. His breath came out in small pants.

Shit. Why did he do that?

He let out a small groan and grabbed his face. They certainly were going to find him and scold him for causing trouble. On his first day here. For the second time already.

His parents are gonna be so mad…

“What are you doing here?”

Koutarou let out a small shriek of shock at the sudden voice and clasped at his mouth with one hand to prevent more noises from coming out, as a night lamp behind was turned on. The silver haired boy slowly turned around and squinted at the sudden source of light, before he could finally make out a person sitting upwards in one of the beds he beforehand assumed empty.

He blinked at them. It was a boy who seemed about his own age, had sleepy eyes and dark, messy hair that curled up at the tips. Even in that small source of light, his skin looked quite pale. All in all he was really, really pretty.

The boy only blinked back at him questioningly and Koutarou realized that he hadn’t answered his question yet.

“Uuh” he started awkwardly. “I’m definitely not hiding from getting an injection or something. I’m totally not a coward. Or anything. Haha…”

He lifted his hand and scratched his neck before looking down in embarrassment. The other boy said nothing, but as Koutarou looked up again, he could see him covering his mouth while turning away from him. The next thing he knew was that his heart skipped a beat as a muffled snorting sound, close to something like a very quiet giggle maybe, reached his ears. Koutarou only stared at him until the other one had calmed down again and a smile formed on his lips.

“I’m Bokuto by the way. Bokuto Koutarou!” he finally managed to introduce himself after he had recovered from that short moment of blankness caused by the other one’s small laugh.

“Akaashi Keiji” the other one said with a soft voice. Koutarou could feel his whole body heating up upon the small smile which still graced the boy’s lips.

“That’s a really pretty name” he could hear himself say before he even thought properly about the words.

When the other one only shrugged at the weird compliment, Koutarou dared moving closer and sat on the edge of the boy’s bed.

“Why are you here?” he asked, his gaze wandering over the pile of personal belongings spread across the nightstand.

It seemed like he has been spending an awful amount of time in this bed already. There were a lot of books, pens and notebooks. Also a vase with pretty looking flowers in it, but no “Get well soon” cards he somehow expected to be there. It didn’t seem like that boy was getting a lot of visitors.

“I’m waiting for a new heart.”

Koutarou tore his gaze away from the flowers and looked at the other with wide eyes.

“A heart..?” he repeated disbelievingly. “What’s wrong with yours?” he asked when the other one had just nodded.

“It’s too weak.” The faint smile on the boy’s lips finally disappeared completely with those words.

Koutarou could feel his own heart sinking in his chest. Now that he watched him more closely, that boy looked really strained. And so fragile. Someone that beautiful definitely shouldn’t be supposed to look like that. Koutarou had the urge to wrap his arms around him and tell him everything was gonna be okay…

“Can’t… can’t it be fixed somehow?” he eventually asked, but the other one just shook his head.

“I was already born with it… They tried to fix it with medication, but it didn’t help. So I need a new one before this one here gives up.”

“I see…” he breathed out quietly. “And… what happens if it gives up before you get a new one?”

“I will die” the other boy answered matter-of-factly, as if he was already used to that question.

Koutarou only looked at him with wide eyes, not believing what he just heard.

“That’s… that’s really sad…” was all he managed out at the moment.

Another shrug.

“It’s okay. As I just said, I was already born with that heart failure. So I kind of got used to it.”

“It’s still unfair…” Koutarou stated, this time a little bit louder.

He felt so sorry for that boy.

A short moment of silence followed then, before the other one finally asked what the reason for his own stay was.

“I’m sure they wouldn’t keep you overnight just because of a broken arm.”

He pointed at the plaster around his arm and Koutarou sighed in discontent.

“Suspected cancer.”

He watched as the dark hair boy lowered his gaze a bit, before looking up again through hooded eyes. “That’s horrible. I’m sorry for you.”

Koutarou tried hard to put on a small, genuine smile.

“Don’t be. Your reason is a lot worse. After all, it’s only suspected. The doctors said it might be innocuous anyways so…”

He tried to play it off, considering that he still had it way better than the boy sitting opposite of him.

“I hope for you it is.”

There it was again. That precious but barely noticeable smile.

Big enough to make Koutarou’s heart beat speeding up in his chest.

A lame “Thank you” was all he managed as response before a long silence ensued again.

When Koutarou noticed the sleepy look on the other boy’s face he remembered that he had probably wakened him up by storming into his room earlier. He stretched his arms above his head and faked a small yawn.

“Ah, guess it’s time to go bed then.”

“Yeah…” The other one lowered his gaze again and started to fidget with the sheets between his fingers. Koutarou blinked at him, somehow expecting him to say more but when he didn’t, he finally stood up and stretched another time.

“Well… Good luck about that thing with your heart then, I guess…” he began and put on an awkward smile. “See ya, then…”

He was almost out of the door already, when the other one finally called out his name.

“Bokuto-san…?”

“Yeah?” he responded immediately without wasting even a second to turn around again. Very smooth, Koutarou. Really.

“Are you…” the boy began but hesitated, obviously looking for the right words. “Will you come and visit me tomorrow again?”

A bright smirk graced Koutarou’s features promptly.

“Right after breakfast.”

Keiji replied with the biggest smile Koutarou has seen so far of him; and when he went back to his own room, ignoring the scolding glares of the nurses who have been looking for him for over half an hour, he couldn’t stop grinning.

Maybe his stay here wouldn’t be as bad as he first expected.

In the end, Koutarou did get his blood taken from a nurse in the middle of the night when he was too sleepy to protest. It didn’t hurt as much as he expected and the next morning, the doctor brought good news.

“It’s innocuous” he explained and Koutarou’s mother leaned in to give him as kiss on the forehead, as if it was his merit that the tumor wasn’t malignant.

Koutarou narrowed his eyes in suspicion though. The doctor didn’t seemed to happy about it though and before Koutarou even finished that thought, the man had already continued.

“Yet I’ve talked to my colleagues and we all agreed to let it being removed by surgery nevertheless. Since the tumor is located near one of your lymph nodes, complications could happen in the future if it continues growing.”

Both his parents nodded after the doctor explained some more circumstances, they promptly agreed with him. Koutarou only groaned.

“It’s okay, darling” she tried her best to soothe his distress. “You’ve heard the doctor, didn’t you? It’s just a small OP, right?” She turned to the doctor who nodded, then gave her son an encouraging smile. It didn’t make him feel much better at all.

“Listen to your mother, Koutarou. You need to take a rest at the moment anyways because of your arm. And as soon as everything is healed, you can go back to playing your beloved volleyball.”

The silver haired boy blinked at his father, he had a point there. The man smiled at him in triumph and Koutarou pouted before crossing his arms.

“Fine...” he muttered in discontent. He wasn’t a fan of the thought of having to stay at this place much longer, not to mention the surgery. But when it meant he could continue playing Volleyball without having to worry about his health too much, it was okay he guessed.

 

After he finally agreed and his parents left for work, Koutarou finally got his breakfast. He hurried it down and after the nurses were done with piercing him with even more syringes, he was finally allowed to leave his bed.

It didn’t take long for him to decide where to go.

“Hey hey heey, Akaashi!” he called out the moment he walked through the door of the other boy’s room.

“Good morning, Bokuto-san” the other one responded with a much calmer voice but didn’t seemed to mind his excitement this early in the morning.

Keiji held a book in front of his face which was lowered the moment Koutarou sat down on the rear edge of his bed. A small smile lay on his lips and the silver haired could feel the butterflies going wild in his stomach already.

Dang. His smile was even prettier by daylight…

“What are you reading?”

He pointed at the book questioningly and Keiji followed his gaze, his fingers caressing the worn out cover.

“The Book Thief by Markus Zusak” he answered in such an affecting voice, it was as if he was talking about is own child. “It’s my favorite book.”
“What’s it about?” Koutarou asked immediately and the dark haired boy’s eyes widened a bit.

It didn’t seem he was expecting Koutarou to actually show interest in his reading.

“It’s about a girl who steals books during war to flee from reality” he explained then and it made the other boy tilted his head with a frown.

“Sounds a bit gloomy.”

“Well yeah, it is. But it’s also about hope and dreams. And beautifully written, I really like it.”

“Ah, I see then.” He gave him a gentle smile and Keiji faintly returned it.

After a short pause though, he asked “Do you want to read it?” and passed Koutarou the book.

“Ah, uhm... I’m not really into books, you know. Also don’t you wanna finish it first?”

“I’ve already read it countless of times. And I’ve got a newer copy at home. You can have it.”

Something close to excitement lit up in Keiji’s eyes and it made Koutarou physically unable to refuse.

“Okay” he said as he took the book in his own hands and turned it a few times to look it up closely. “Since I gotta stay here for a little while longer anyways, I guess it’s good to have something up my sleeve if it’s getting too boring.”

He grinned and expected the other boy to reflect his expression, but Keiji only frowned.

“So it’s cancer after all?” he asked and Koutarou immediately shook his head.

“No! No it isn’t, it’s fine. I’m fine” he stated and then continued to explain to the other that the surgery he had to undergo was only a preventative measure. “I’m still a bit scared, though. The doc said it’s a routine operation, but yeah… you never know” he tried to laugh it off, but the fear in his eyes was obvious. “I really am a coward, ain’t I…”

He sighed and nervously run a hand through his silver hair.

Keiji on the other hand only shook his head.

“I don’t think you are a coward at all. It’s normal to be scared of something like this” he said with a calm voice and somehow it instantly made Koutarou feel better. “I think you’ll be doing fine though. I’ve already underwent surgery myself and it really wasn’t that scary at all.”

“You did??” Koutarou promptly asked and his eyes widened in excitement. “Did it leave a scar?”

Keiji seemed a bit bewildered by that question, as if it was totally uncommon for the teenage boy to be astonished by something as hideous as a permanent mark on his skin.

“Well, yeah. Of course it did. Want to see it?”

Koutarou nodded in an enthusiastically and watched as Keiji unbuttoned his pajama shirt. He tried not to gulp at the soft, pale skin that was revealed and focused on the red mark that stretched across the other boy’s sternum.

“Wooah.” He leaned in a bit closer. “Did it hurt??”

“Not really since I was under anesthetic. It itched a bit afterwards, though.” That was probably the understatement of the century, but Keiji really didn’t want to scare the other one even more than he already was.

“Rad” Koutarou only commented and Keiji snorted while bottoming up his shirt again.

“What?”

“Nothing. It’s just… you really are a weird guy, Bokuto-san.”

“In a good way or a bad one?”

“Hmm…” The dark haired boy pretended to think for a moment, before the edges of his lips finally curved upwards. “A good one.”

Koutarou beamed. “Then it’s fine.”

They kept talking like this and eventually, Koutarou asked how Keiji’s “mission to find a new heart” went along. He learned that things like these didn’t just happen overnight and that there is a list that regulates who will get the new heart transplanted first, if there is one. Keiji’s heart was still strong enough that he didn’t need any extern support by machines, so his current rank on the list wasn’t that high. Since his condition could get worse any moment though, he still had to stay at the hospital. It’s been almost three months now.

“That really sucks” Koutarou stated but the other one only shrugged.

“You’re getting used to it.”

“It’s still so unfair…” The silver haired boy turned his head and gazed out of the window, thinking. “You should be outside, not locked up inside. Running around, playing some sports maybe. Enjoying your life.”

“It’s not like I have an entire bad life, though. I read lots of books, for example. I receive private tuition. And I’ve got a pet dog at home. Her name is snowball and she’s really fluffy. “

Koutarou thought that was the most boring life for a 14 year old he could ever imagine, but the last bit of tact in his mind kept him off of saying it out loud. That boy had it worse enough already.

He stayed till noon, until there was a knock on the door and a nurse came in to check up on Keiji. Along with her was a tall, determined looking woman and it didn’t take Koutarou long to figure out she was Keiji’s mother, since she was at least as pretty as her son.

“You are already sick enough, Keiji. A few rays of sunshine won’t hurt you, will they” she complained but halted in her movement of moving the curtains aside when she spotted Koutarou. “Who are you?”

“Mum, this is-“

“I’m Bokuto Koutarou” he called out with a bright smile and bowed politely.

The woman only blinked at him indifferently for a second, before finally turning to her son without another word and continuing to scold him.

“Did you forget to take your medicine again? You look even paler than usual. And would you please stop reading those depressive books already?”

Koutarou only stood there and blinked, watching as the nurse fidgeted with a tube coming from Keiji’s crook of the arm and his mum rearranging the pillows and blankets on his bed. He somehow felt redundant all of a sudden.

“See you tomorrow then, Akaashi” he eventually muttered out and finally left the room when there was no reply.

 

That evening, Koutarou kept thinking a lot.

He really liked that Keiji boy. He was nice, polite and had a beautiful smile. And he was really cute. Really, really cute.

But somehow, Koutarou couldn’t get the thought out of his mind that something was wrong. He found it strange that Keiji was being so isolated. Nobody on this ward had a room for themselves except him. And the behavior of his mother made him suspicious too. As if he wasn’t even worth her time. Shouldn’t she be glad that someone was there to keep her son company?

Koutarou kept sighing the whole evening and not even Tetsurou’s efforts of showing him that new game Kenma had borrowed him managed to cheer him up.

Maybe it was better if he didn’t visit Keiji again. He really thought so after that day.

That was at least until two days later, the emergency alarm went off on the ward. Koutarou knew it meant someone’s heart stopped beating and they had to reanimate them. And when he sat there on his bed and watched the nurses and doctors on the hallway passing by in chaos, he just couldn’t bear the thought that it could be Keiji. It didn’t take him much self-convincement to finally get up and check up on the other boy.

He almost wrenched open the door and called out Keijis name loudly, at which the other one just lowered his book and blinked at him with an arched eyebrow.

“What is it, Bokuto-san?” he asked calmly. “Do you need a hiding place again?”

“I’m fine” Koutarou muttered embarrassedly.

Tch.
Why did he ever bother to worry about him…

“What brings you here? I haven’t seen you around yesterday, so I was afraid you got moved to another ward.”

He sounded nonchalantly, but Koutarou couldn’t help but feel a little bit bad for not visiting him the day before. He sighed as Keiji gestured him to sit down on the edge of his bed, like he did the days before and Koutarou gave in without much more convincement needed. There was no way he could decline an offer coming from that precious boy.

“Yeah, about that, sorry… guess I wasn’t quite in the mood to visit you.”

He scratched the back of his neck while sitting down crossed legged onto the mattress.

“You don’t have to apologize. If it had something to do with my mother, then I am the one who has to say sorry.” Now it was Keiji’s turn to sigh. “She’s a very busy woman you know.”

“It’s fine. I just didn’t want to be in the way, so I left.” The other one hummed and finally the daring tone from the emergency coming from the hallway had died down. “Someone’s heart just stopped beating and I was afraid it was yours. So I came here to check.”

At this, Keiji’s eyes widened and he turned his gaze away promptly. Koutarou watched as he awkwardly played with the hem of his sleeves, obviously looking for words.

“Thank you for being concerned about me” he finally murmured with a shy look on his face.

Watching him closely, the silver haired boy gave him a big smile. “Of course I am! We’re friends, right?”

“I guess, yeah...” and when Keiji blushed a bit and gave him that precious smile of his, Koutarou decided he wouldn’t want to leave this boys side ever again.

 

A few days later, Koutarou was laying spread out on his back next to Keiji’s feet on the mattress, huffing in annoyance. It was the morning of his 5th day here and he still didn’t have his surgery. Not that he was looking forward to it, but it was getting boring. Really boring.

“I told you already, you can read one of my books.”

He groaned. “I’d rather continue staring at the ceiling then.”

“You are incredible stubborn, do you know that.”

“And you are an incredible nerd.”

Keiji only rolled his eyes at that and continued burying his nose in one of his books. That was what he had planned to do at least.

“Hey, Akaashiii…”

A short moment of silence fell between them and when the elder boy didn’t continue, Keiji sighed.

“What is it, Bokuto-san?”

“Say, do you even leave your bed anytime?”

“Yes. To use the bathroom, obviously.”

“Apart from that I mean. Like, going for a walk or something. When was even the last time you went outside?”

The other one only shrugged.

“Let’s have a walk together then!”

“I can’t, my mother won’t allow it.”

“Well your mother isn’t here, so.”

Koutarou sat up and before the other one could stop him, he had already pressed the button to call a nurse.

“What are you doing?”

“Someone needs to unplug you from all this stuff of course” he said and gestured to the tubes coming from the crook of his arm and the back of his hand.
Keiji sighed but before he could say anything more a nurse had already entered the room and asked them what’s wrong.

In the end, Koutarou spent about half an hour trying to persuade the nurse and a handful others to allow them a short walk through the building. After a doctor came to check on Keiji’s condition, he was finally given admission and Koutarou didn’t hesitate for another second to pull him out of bed and drag the boy with him.

“See? Told ya it’s gonna be fine” he called out happily.

They moved slowly through the halls, Koutaou making sure that Keiji was able to follow him in spite of his weak state. His steps were still a bit uncertain given all the weeks he’s spent in bed. Koutarou couldn’t help but somehow find it adorable.

“You can take my hand if you want. Would make you feel a bit more secure” he finally proposed after watching the other boy climbing down the stairs in small, cautious steps.

“Wouldn’t that be weird?”

Koutarou only shrugged and held out his hand, smiling when Keiji grabbed it despite the sight that came from the other boy. He didn’t let go of it when they reached the bottom of the staircase, but it seemed Keiji didn’t mind by then.

They reached the neonatal ward and watched a few of the newborns as nurses took care of them. Koutarou swore that one of them looked exactly like him as a baby and Keiji snorted. Afterwards they went on to the daycare center where they were greeted by a few toddlers who desperately wanted to play with them. They sat down on the tiny chairs in the middle of the room and while Koutarou began reading out loud a story from a book, Keiji spent a fair amount of time drawing little owls on the plaster on his arm.

When Koutarou finished the story, shedding only a small tear about the princess finally finding her true love, they eventually continued on to the cafeteria. When it slowly became evening, Koutarou suggested their last destination to be the roof top.

“I’m not sure if we are supposed to go up here” Keiji stated with a hint of a worry on his face.

They climbed up the stairs nevertheless and soon reached the heavy door that lead outside, Koutarou bashing through it without any touch of remorse.

“Who cares? It’s fun. Also look at that nice weather!”

He stepped on the middle of the flat roof and spread out his arms, before turning himself around a few times. It felt like ages since he last felt the sun on his skin.

“What are you doing over there, Akaashi. Come here end enjoy the sun!” he finally called out as he noticed the other one still standing by the door.

“I think we should head back.”

The silver haired boy stopped in his movement and stomped over to him with a playful pout. “You’re no fun at all, Akaashi. Come on, climb on my back” he then suggested and turned around while crouching down a bit.

“What for?”

“Just do it.”

Keiji sighed but climbed on his back anyways.

“And now?” he asked.

Before he could even finish his question, Koutarou had already dashed forward to the other side of the roof, where metal bars on the wall led to an even higher rooftop. Ignoring Keiji’s massive protest, he climbed them. When they finally were on top, Koutarou carefully let the other boy down again.
“Here we are” he grinned.

“Was this really necessary Bokuto-san?”

The other one only moved his head in the direction of the sun, which was slowly setting above the rooftops of the city. From here, they had the perfect view.

“Oh.”

“Beautiful, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. It is.”

And when Koutarou watched how Keiji’s usually pale skin slowly started to appear golden in the light the sunset, he had never felt more at ease in his life.

 

On their way back, Keiji was surprisingly quiet and Koutarou noticed that he looked really tired.

“Should I carry you again?”

The other one only shook his head faintly.

“I’m fine.”

Koutarou watched him with a doubtful look on his face but didn’t say another word.

When they finally arrived at their ward Koutarou could already make out Keiji’s mother from far away. She looked worried and the silver haired teen felt guilt building up. When the woman spotted them, she rushed over in an instant.

Before Koutarou could even open his mouth to apologize for them being late, she had already raised her hand and a stinging pain formed on his cheek.

“This boy is sick to death and you think it’s a good idea to take him on one of your silly adventures? Didn’t your parents teach you to think?!”
Koutarou looked up to her with terrified eyes, but the woman only turned away to her son who was leaning against her side weakly.

“It’s okay, darling” she said in a calm voice and stroked a few strands of messy hair out of his face. “Let’s get you to bed, okay?”

Koutarou watched as Keiji nodded and together with a nurse, both of them disappeared into Keiji’s room at the end of the hallway.

When they were gone, the silver hair boy lifted his hand and placed it onto his stinging cheek. Tears were piling up in his eyes. He walked back to his own room then, crawled under his blanket and didn’t move until it was time to go to sleep.

The next day, Koutarou was woken by a nurse announcing that his surgery was going to happen in a few hours. His parents were there too, but they spent most of their time talking to a handful of doctors. He just stayed curled up in his bed, not in the mood to get up at all. That was until there was a knock on the door.

At first he assumed it was a visitor for one of the other kids in the room. However, when he heard someone shuffling closer to his bed in small steps and halting at the side of it, Koutarou finally turned around and his eyes widened in surprise.

“Akaashi, what are you doing here?”

The other one smiled shyly and sat down at the edge of his bed. Koutarou noticed he looked a lot better today.

“To wish you good luck for your surgery obviously.”

Koutarou’s heart fluttered in his chest and he immediately felt relieved.

“So you’re not mad at me?”

Keiji shook his head before lowering his gaze apologetically.

“Of course not. My mum had no right to dump this on you.“

“But she was right, it was my idea. I shouldn’t have coaxed you into this without thinking…”

He bowed his head and started to fidget with the end of his blanket. Keijis’s mother must’ve been so worried and afraid, Koutarou realized that now. He had been too, after he saw how strained Keiji looked all of a sudden.

“It’s just… I had no idea your condition was that serious. I just wanted you to have a good time and then it almost ended up in your collapsing. Your mom had all right to shout at me...”

“Yet I’m glad you took me with you…” the other boy declared. “I really enjoyed that day with you.”

His calm voice made Koutarou look up again and his eyes widened in surprise. “You did?”

And when Keiji smiled, the bright characteristic beam on the silver haired boy’s features finally came back too.

They continued talking, mostly about how Koutarou was still pretty much scared of his surgery. However, it wasn’t as bad as a few hours before since Keiji’s calm words managed to soothe his worries a lot.

Eventually, his parents came back and they were absolutely eager to get introduced to the boy “Koutarou didn’t stop talking about for a whole week.” Keiji blushed at their words and Koutarou thought it was the cutest thing ever. He had blushed as well, though.

When Koutarou had to get ready for his OP and it was time to say goodbye, Keiji grabbed his hand and squeezed it softly.

“See you later then, Bokuto-san.”

“Yeah” was all Koutarou had managed before he watched the other boy letting go again and leaving the room with his own heart fluttering in his chest.

Out of the corner of his eyes he could see his parents exchanging weird looks, but he didn’t give a damn. He just desperately hoped the other boy would let him hold his hand again, as soon as everything was over.

 

When Koutarou woke up a few hours later he will still pretty dizzy from the anesthesia and I took him a while to make out the faces of his parents and his best friend. His head hurt a bit and he felt a stinging pain somewhere at the side of his body.

“Where’s…” he slowly began, trying to focus on the words coming out of his mouth without much thinking.

“We are all here, darling” his mother said and took his hand in hers. “It’s okay. Everything went fine. No complications during your OP.”

He only blinked at her in confusion and closed his eyes again, still drained from the surgery. Right, the surgery…

“Where’s Keiji…”

Koutarou was fairly sure it was his best friend who was groaning then, mumbling something about how “far gone” he already was, but the teen didn’t listen. Didn’t care.

He wanted Keiji by his side. See him smile and intertwine their fingers with each other.

“I’m gonna ask a nurse if it’s possible to get him here” his father finally muttered after no one else had made a single move. Koutarou smiled faintly at that, before slowly dazing off again due to his exhaustion.

When he woke up for the second time this evening there was a hand clasping at his own, but this time it wasn’t his mothers.

“Hey” Keiji softly greeted him with that barely noticeable smile of his. Koutarou knew it was there, though. He always did.

“Hey…” he replied and didn’t let go of the boy’s hand again for the rest of the night.

 

Since it was only a minor operation, Koutarou was to be dismissed from the hospital in only a few days. Saying goodbye to Keiji was hard, especially since the silver haired teen was still expected to stay put in bed the following weeks. Making it impossible for him to visit Keiji.

“Promise to text me everyday” he demanded as Keiji handled him his phone back, after saving his phone number into it.

“I will” he promised with a small smile and took his own phone back.

The silver haired teen hesitated then, staring at his blanket for a moment while looking for the right words to say. “I... I’m gonna miss you, Akaashi.”

Keiji sighed and lowered his gaze, brushing a flick of dark behind his ear while doing so. “Don’t say such embarrassing things, Bokuto-san…”

“But it’s the truth!” he called out straight off.

The hug that was followed took him in surprise. It was soft and warm and brought a nice smell with it.

Koutarou liked it and gladly hugged the other boy back.

 

The following two weeks were agonizing.

First of all, Koutarou was dying of boredom. He was locked up in his room, extremely pampered by his overprotective mother. The only one visiting him was his best friend, who kept talking about how much fun Volleyball was at the moment and how great their team was doing despite him not being there. It wasn’t really lifting his mood at all.

Secondly, he missed Keiji more than the liked to admit.

They messaged each other every day just as they promised, but it wasn’t the same.

He wanted him to be here, to be next to him. Wanted to see his smile and hold his hand and just keep him close.

It was frustrating.

The day Koutarou was finally allowed to leave his bed was a long awaited one.

He got up early to help his mom preparing a small bento with Keiji’s favorite food. He knew the other boy had grown tired of the hospital food a long time ago already. Something self-made might cheer him up a bit, since Koutarou couldn’t help but notice his messages sounded a bit gloomy the past days.

He even considered getting flowers, but then remembered the other one didn’t like those. He hated watching them wither or something, if Koutarou remembered his words correctly.

His parents accompanied him to the hospital since he also had an appointment to finally get the plaster on his arm removed. When it was done, Koutarou didn’t waste another second to say them goodbye and climb the stairs to the 5th floor. He stormed down the hall Keiji’s room, swinging the door open wide with a bright smile and holding up the self-made bento in front of him proudly.

“Akaashiii, look what I-“

His voice died down immediately the second his gaze fell on the other boy.

“… made” he finished the sentence low-keyed and dropped his arm promptly.

No.

This wasn’t Keiji.

That wasn’t the boy he said goodbye to two weeks ago. It had to be someone else, right?

This pale boy with greyish skin and dark bags under his eyes, countless tubes and wires coming from beneath his blanket, connecting him to a bunch of supporting devices; it just couldn’t be him.

Said boy slowly opened his eyes and glanced at him with the faintest hint of a smile.

“Hey …” was everything Keiji managed to say, before his lids fell shut again and he burst out in a breathless cough.

Koutarou felt his eyes starting to tear up immediately.

“What’s going on” he muttered and looked away from the boy on the bed, staring disbelievingly at the nurse fumbling with one of the devices.

This just couldn’t be.

“Time’s running out…” the nurse explained patiently. “If he doesn’t receive a new heart soon, his lungs will give up as well.”

Koutarou dropped himself down on the chair next to Keiji’s bed, the bento long forgotten and placed neatly in his lap. His gaze lingered on the boy in front of him, watching as his chest raised and sank heavily in a weak attempt of getting enough air. He lay on his back and there led a tube from his nostrils, probably to provide him with oxygen.

“I’ve been only gone for two weeks, how...”

The silver haired teen’s voice almost broke when he talked.

“Why didn’t you tell me? We… we texted everyday… I had no idea…”

Keiji’s opened his eyes again and his gaze locked with Koutarou’s though hooded lids.

“I’m sorry. I… didn’t want to worry you…” he spoke in a hoarse voice and it was all it took for Koutarou to finally break out in tears.

“You’re such an idiot…” he sobbed, took Keiji’s hand in his and refused to let it go until he had to leave again late in the evening.

 

He continued visiting Keiji every day from then on, even when he had to go back to school eventually. His condition improved a bit over the time, but there were also days when the dark haired boy wasn’t able to eat or barely talk at all. Since the other boy wasn’t able to leave his bed anymore, Koutarou spent the most time at the chair next to Keiji’s bed, trying his best to brighten his mood and make his days better.

They read books together, mostly Koutarou reading out loud and Keiji listening. On better days, when Keiji was able to sit up in bed, they played board games together or watched some TV. It wasn’t the most exciting pastime, but Koutarou enjoyed every single moment they spent together.

One day, he brought watercolors to the hospital and spent the whole noon painting a sky on the wall while the other one was asleep. He got into a lot of trouble because of it, but it was worth the small smile on Keiji’s features, when he woke up and saw the big rainbow now decorating his room.

 

However, the whole situation wasn’t a particularly easy one and for an over sensitive boy as Koutarou, it was most likely that he threw away his nerves eventually.

“It’s just not fair!” he exclaimed with a frustrated groan on one evening. He was walking up and down in the room desperately.

“You are basically still a child! You’ve got your whole life in front of you so why aren’t you on the top on the list then? It’s ridiculous!”

“Please consider that there are still other kids who have it worse than me, Bokuto-san.”

“Worse than that?!” he called out and turned back to the other teen, examining him with a downcast look on his face.

“You can’t even breathe on your own anymore, Akaashi… You’re… I don’t want you to…” He stopped then before he risked breaking down in tears again.

“It’s okay...” Keiji calmed him down immediately while holding up his hand for the other one to take it. “I’m still here… and I won’t leave you that soon.”

Koutarou took a step closer and clasped at his hand desperately, before sitting down next to him.

“I just… I just hope that there will be a new heart for you soon” he mumbled without thinking much about his words. He looked up at the other with glassy eyes then, but didn’t expect Keiji to suddenly let go and turn away from him.

“Don’t say things like these, Bokuto-san” he stated with a bitter tone in his voice.

Koutarou felt confusion and angriness building up.

“Why shouldn’t I? Don’t tell me you lost hope already, Akaashi!”

“It’s not that… but you can’t just produce a heart artificially, you know? When you say things like these, it means…” Koutarou watched as the other bit his lip in agony. “It means you wish the death of another kid for the sake of my life...”

“But I didn’t mean it like that of course!” he tried to defend himself, obviously hurt by the way the other one suddenly spoke so coldly to him. The other one didn’t want to listen.

“I think you should go now, Bokuto-san. It’s late and I’m tired….”

When the boy didn’t even bother to send him another look, Koutarou got up with a huff and left without another word.

 

He shuffled past his parents in the living room without a word when he arrived at home, heading straight for his room and flopping down on his bed after closing the door shut with a loud bang. He buried his face in his pillow and it didn’t take long until the first tears started to stream down his face, anger and regret about just leaving the other boy like that piling up.

It wasn’t fair. It just wasn’t fair…

Eventually his sobbing was muffled by a cautious knock on the door.

“Kou, baby… May I come in?”

Taking her son’s silence as a yes, his mother entered the room and sat down next to Koutarou on the bed.

“Want tell me what happened, darling?” A hand started to stroke through his messy hair and immediately managed to calm him down a bit. “Is everything alright with Akaashi-kun …?”

At this, Koutarou’s head snapped up and he looked at his mother desperately.

“No it isn’t! It isn’t at all!”

He shook his head and bit his lip, even more tears pilling up in his eyes.

“He’s sick to death, mom! He’s sick to death and yet all he cares about is how other kids deserved a heart more than him…”

A loud sob left his lips at that and when his mother chose to stay silent, he finally continued “As if he believes his own life isn’t worthy enough. It’s... it’s like he doesn’t even want to live anymore. Like he already accepted his death and only waited for it to come….”

His mother only reached out and brushed away a few tears from his cheek with the back of her hand.

“Maybe because that’s just how it is…” she spoke in a calm voice. “Isn’t it better he accepted it than not?”

“But I didn’t accept it!” he called out desperately and clasped at his mother’s hand.

At that, she reached out and hugged her son to her chest, wrapping her arms around the boy tightly.

“I don’t want him to die, mom….”

“I know, baby. I know… nobody wants that.”

“It’s just so unfair…”

“Yes, it is.”

 

He was hesitating the next day when stood in front of the closed door to Keiji’s room.

It was evening already, since school had lasted till noon today and exams were coming up too. Most of the time while studying he kept staring at the wall though, thinking about Keiji and the events of the past weeks. He longed to be with him, yet it took him a huge amount of courage to knock on the door and open it.

He walked into the dimly lit room then, softly closing the door behind himself.

Keiji was lying on his back, eyes closed and the only noise came from his hoarse breathing and the quiet beeping of his heart monitor. He looked even paler than usually, and a part of Koutarou wanted to turn on his heels and just run away, never coming back again.

He hated himself for that thought.

Koutarou sat down on the chair, yet didn’t dare saying a word, above all reaching for his hand to hold it for giving support. Nervousness was piling up in his stomach.

“I was afraid you wouldn’t come…” a silent whisper filled the tense air.

Koutarou bit his lip, holding back a sob.

He didn’t deserve that boy.

“Where’s your mom?”

The other boy only huffed.

“Probably arguing with a bunch of doctors… like always…”

It went silent for a while.

“I want to apologize to you…. about yesterday.”

Keiji finally opened his eyes and his gaze travelled over the silver haired teen, whose eyes were widening in an instant.

“You don’t have to!” He called out and shook his head frantically, before lowering his head in guilt. “It… it’s me who has to apologize... for leaving just like that.”

After a few moments of silence, he felt cold fingertips touching back of his own hand.

“I’m glad that you came to visit me today, Bokuto-san”

When Koutarou looked up at that, he was confronted with the saddest little smile he could imagine.

Tears started to sting in his eyes and he quickly rubbed them away with his sleeve. With his other hand he finally took Keiji’s in his and clasped at it desperately.

“Me too.”

And finally, Koutarou understood.

Why he didn’t want to come here in the first place. Why he was scared. It’s the same reason hy his parents, Keiji’s mother, the nurse… even Tetsu… why nobody of them wanted him to get too close to Keiji.

This boy was dying.

He was dying and yet Koutarou couldn’t help but fall in love with Keiji each day more.

And it was terrifying, because he was about to lose him forever.

 

When it went dark outside and the official visiting hours were over, Koutarou refused to go.

“I’d like to stay” he had told the nurse.

There was a bit of arguing, but in the end she let him stay.

“You don’t have to” Keiji muttered when she was gone.

“I want to” Koutarou simply replied and squeezed his hand more firmly.

“What about your parents? The will be worried… ”

“They know I’m here” he insisted. “Please, just let me stay.”

They silently exchanged a look, before the dark haired boy closed his eyes and a faint “okay…” left his lips.

As the hours went by, they grew even more silent. At some point, Koutarou’s eyes fell close and he jerked awake when Keiji clasped his fingers.

“I’m sorry” he muttered out, not even sure himself what he was apologizing for.

The clock on the nightstand said it was past midnight already. Keiji’s mom still wasn’t back.

“It’s late already” the other stated.

“I’m not tired” he lied.

“I’m sure there’s an extra bed somewhere you could sleep in. I can call the nurse if you-”

“I’m fine.”

“Bokuto-san…”

“I said I’m fine” he mumbled sterner than intended.

The dark haired boy only sighed and when he suddenly let go of his hand, Koutarou was afraid he had offended him again. He was already looking up to apologize, but froze when he watched Keiji patting the empty space on the bed next to him with his now free hand.

“At least come here then.”

Koutarou’s eyes widened and he shook his head, trying to hide the blush which definitely formed on his cheeks.

“You don’t have to… t-the tubes and everything… I don’t want to-”

“We just have to be careful, that’s all.”

Koutarou swallowed hard. Was it even possible to refuse this boy? Probably not.

“O-okay.”

He slowly got up then, climbed onto the other teen’s bed and carefully lied down beside him.

Their gazes met and Koutarou felt a lump forming in his throat when Keiji lifted his hand and brushed his cheek with the back of it. It was cold and bony, since the boy had stopped eating properly since his condition worsened.

“Koutarou?”

It was the first time Keiji addressed him by his first name and Koutarou shivered. He wished it wasn’t in a moment like this, when his voice sounded so weak and tired.

“If I died… will you regret that you ever met me?”

Koutarou slowly placed his own hand on the top of Keiji’s and stared at him sincerely.

“I’m thankful for every moment I got to spend with you, Keiji” he whispered and watched, as tears started to form in Keiji’s eyes.
Koutarou reached out and brushed a few strands of dark hair out of his face.

It was the first time he had seen the other boy cry.

There was a lot on his mind he could’ve told him right now. Like telling him that he won’t die. Telling him he’s still got a chance.
He could’ve told him it was okay to cry and that it was okay to be afraid. He could’ve told him that his mother was egoistic for leaving him alone. And that he wished there were more people at his side in times like these.

He could’ve told him he loved him.

Instead, he just pulled him close carefully and pressed their foreheads together.

Quiet beeping and soft whimpers were the only sound that resonated though the room, when Koutarou continued to stroke Keiji’s hair, their foreheads kept pressed together tightly and both of them fell into a long awaited sleep.

 

The next morning, they were woken up by a doctor storming into the room.

Koutarou jerked up from the embrace they’ve been sleeping in and sat up quickly while rubbing his sleepy eyes.

He looked at the doctor and then at Keiji’s mother, who was sitting in a chair in the corner of the room. Had she been there all the time? He hadn’t heard her coming in at all last night.

“… what I’m trying to say is, we’ve found a heart for your son.”

He could hear Keiji’s mother gasping and Koutarou quickly turned around to stare at the doctor wide eyed, trying to process what he just said.

“Keiji, did you hear that??” he called out, looking down at the boy still lying beside him.

His own heart started beating madly in his chest. This had to be a dream…

“Yeah…” the dark haired boy breathed out softly with his eyes still closed and the corners of his lips tugging upwards a bit. “I’ve heard it…”

Koutarou wanted to hug him, but his mother was already by his side to tug Keiji into her arms tightly and he let her. Tears of joy were tickling down her face and Koutarou watched them with a smile, before finally climbing out of bed as a few nurses started to gather around them.

“There’s no time to lose. We’re starting with the preparations immediately since the organ is already on its way” the doctor explained and Keiji’s mother finally let go of her son.

Koutarou moved back to the wall and watched as the nurses and doctors prepared Keiji for the surgery and lifted him to another bed.

Now that he had a closer look on him, the silver haired teen noticed how pale and heavily breathing he was, barely responding to his surroundings. A lump formed in his throat at the thought of how cold he had felt into his arms last night. It only took him another second to realize how barely Keiji had probably escaped death.

Although it wasn’t over yet.

Koutarou knew the operation was a very risky one but at the same time, it was Keijis last chance.

He watched as the nurses wheeled the bed out of the room and when Keiji’s mom followed, he did too. He was unsure if he was allowed or even meant to, but there was no way he would leave Keiji alone now.

They got into an elevator and finally halted in front of the entrance to the surgery.

Koutarou stood a few steps away and watched as Keiji’s mother bent down to hug and kiss her son. They didn’t give them much time to say goodbye and she had to be dragged away by another nurse before they continued on.

When they set off to wheel the bed through the large door, Koutarou felt the lump in his throat widen.

This was wrong. He couldn’t let him leave like that. He just couldn’t let them-

The moment they pushed open the door, the gazes of the two boys locked and before Koutarou could even stop himself, he had already called out a desperate “Wait!”

The nurses stopped and when they looked at him expecting, the silver haired teen didn’t waste another second to rush forward and clasped at the other boys hand tightly. Before he could even find the right words to say though, the other one had already reached out to remove the mask from his face which was providing him with oxygen.

“I’m gonna be alright… I promise” he breathed out with such a shaky voice, it only made Koutarou tear up even more.

He clenched at the other boys cold fingers with both hands and bit his lip.

“I just…” he started but hesitated. “I’m so scared, Keiji.”

“I know.“

A sad, weak smile appeared on his features as Keiji looked up to him.

“Me too…”

And it were these words which finally made Koutarou kiss him.

Their lips touched only for a brief moment and Koutarou wasn’t sure if it really happened, but as he pulled away there was a warm feeling spreading in his chest, despite the surprised look the other one gave him.

After a short moment, Keiji’s expression had calmed down again and he gently squeezed Koutarou’s hand, a hint of a smile tugging at his lips.

Koutarou wished this moment never ended.

However, when the nurses began to continue on, their fingers slowly entangled until Keiji’s hand let go of his own completely and he was left standing there, watching as they passed through the door.

“See you then, Keiji” he muttered although the door in front of him had slid close already.

He turned around then, grabbed the hand of Keiji’s still sobbing mother and led her to the waiting area.

They sat down and Koutarou kept holding her hand. He clenched at it eventually to give her support and kept muttering quiet encouraging words, until both of them fell into a tense silence, waiting for one of the doctors to come back and bring them good news.

 

And they did.

It was after long hours full of desperate waiting, when the doctor finally came back in the company of a surgeon.

Keiji’s mother stood up and walked towards them hastily. Koutarou had barely managed to follow, as he already watched the woman breaking into tears and hugging both men to express her gratefulness. She then turned around to Koutarou, who could feel his own eyes tear up as she sent him a relieved smile. He smiled back and they walked together to the recovery room.

When Keiji finally opened his eyes again, they both sat on each side of the bed.

The doctor claimed he would be dazed from the anesthesia when he waked up, but the boy only blinked a few times, before turning his head and asking with a hazy voice

“Am I still alive?”

And when his mother told him yes and Koutarou gently squeezed his hand, Keiji squeezed back in response.

He had made it. He had made it and he had a new heart and he was alive.

And Koutarou couldn’t be happier.

 

In the evening, when it was already dark outside, Keiji’s mother had left them alone for a bit and Koutarou didn’t think twice before climbing onto the other boy’s bed and snuggled up close to him.

They both lay on their backs, their hands entangled between them and their gazes locked with smiles spreading on both their features. One of them weaker than the other one, but it was there.

He was there, Koutarou reminded himself.

Exhausted and still drained from the surgery, but he was there. He was alive and it was all that mattered right now.

 

“I can’t believe you kissed me in front of all those people” Keiji eventually breathed out in a stern tone.

Koutarou almost started to feel guilty. At least until he watched the other one turning away and letting out a quiet, but genuine giggle.

A flustered smile appeared on his face together with a blush and the silver haired teen strengthened the grip on Keiji’s hand.

“I didn’t want to regret not having done it…” he explained and Keiji smiled.

“I’m glad you did it, then…”

They exchanged silent looks and it took all of Koutarou’s courage to speak up again.

“I... I can do it again, if you want me to…”

Keiji just kept smiling at him expectedly.

“N-now, I mean…”

“… then do it.”

Koutarou’s breath stopped for a moment and his heart felt like it was about to burst as he watched the other one close his eyes. They were so close all of a sudden he could see how his dark eyelashes fluttered on his pale skin.

He closed his own eyes and bent forward, their lips not having met yet. He could feel the other boy’s breathe on his and when he untangled their hands to run his fingertips over the side of Keiji’s face, his skin felt warmer than ever before.

“Just kiss me already” the dark haired boy breathed against his lips and Koutarou didn’t need to be told twice.

Their lips finally met and although Keiji’s were chapped and dry, it was the best feeling Koutarou could’ve ever imagined.

His lips felt soft and warm and when the other boy tilted his head a bit and buried his fingers in Koutarou’s shirt, he never wanted this moment to ever end again.

It had to, though, when the two boys eventually separated for air.

They shared anticipated looks while catching their breath and when Keiji turned away from him all of a sudden, hiding his mouth behind his hand to hold back a snort, it took Koutarou a moment to remember that this was Keiji’s unique way of laughing.

“What?” Koutarou dared asking and blinked at the other, a pout starting to form on his lips.

“N-nothing it’s just…” Keiji calmed down again and it was only now that Koutarou noticed the redness at the tips of his ears.

The other one turned back to him, gripping at Koutarou’s hand and placing it flatly on his chest.

“My heart is beating so fast.”

At this, the fifteen year old stilled and felt Keiji’s heartbeat against his palm, making his own speeding up as well.

“It feels so weird… a few hours ago, this would’ve probably killed me.”

“But it’s safe now, right?” Koutarou asked with wide eyes and Keiji only giggled.

“I guess, yeah…”

“Y-you guess?” he instantly repeated with a loud voice. “That’s not enough, Keiji! I don’t want to be the reason for your-“

Before he could finish the sentence the other one had already pressed their lips together again in a long, dedicated kiss.

And when they separated again for the second time this evening, Koutarou didn’t even have to think about the words coming from his mouth next. It just seemed the most natural thing to say.

 

“I love you, Keiji.”

 

And when the other one responded with a flustered, but genuine “I love you too, Koutarou”, all he could do was to pull him closer into another passionate kiss.

They slowly fell asleep then, talking and dreaming about the future they would have together, with their limbs and fingers carefully entangled and their foreheads pressed together tightly, holding at each other in their sleep.

 

 

The next morning, Koutarou stirred awake with a chill running down his spine.

He tugged his blanket higher and snuggled more closely to the boy next to him, blindly searching out for his hand and lacing their fingers together with a smile.

However, the coldness of his skin made him frown.

“Keiji…” he breathed out and bumped their noses together.

“Are you cold?”

He waited for a reply, but as there was none he opened his eyes.

“Hey, Keiji… wake up, sleepy head. It’s morning already” he thumbed his cheek gently and only now noticed how his skin was even paler than usually.

“Keiji…?”

And it was in the exact moment he turned around to check the curve on the monitor next to Keiji’s bed, as it suddenly turned even and the emergency alarm was set off.

From that moment on, everything seemed to happen in slow motion.

He could hear himself calling out Keiji’s name and grabbing his hands, but someone dragged him off the bed and backed him to the wall.

He only stood there and watched, as doctors stormed into the room. Watched as nurses tried to hold back Keiji’s mother, who was trying to get near her son as they continued to reanimate him.

Watched as they muttered something about a collapsed lung and the doctors trying to give him artificial respiration.

 

Watched as they finally gave up after an hour.

 

Koutarou sat on the floor, his back against the wall opposite of the bed. His arms were twined around his legs tightly and his head rested on his knees.

He didn’t know how much time had already passed, but the last words of the doctor were still ringing in his ears.

 

“Time of death, 6:45 AM.”

 

 

It was the same position Koutarou sat into one week later, only this time his gaze was focused on the gravestone in front of him.
There were footsteps approaching him and a moment later, he could feel a hand gripping on his shoulder. Then, someone crouched down next to him.

“What’s this?” Tetsurou asked and pointed at the book in Koutarou’s hands.

“The Book Thief” he answered and stroked the worn out cover gently with his fingers.

“I didn’t know you were into books.”

“It was Keiji’s favorite” he told him, still not tearing his gaze away from the epigraph on the marble in front of him.

“I’ve finished reading it yesterday.”

For the third time he wanted to add, but didn’t.

“I see.”

It was silent for a moment, before his best friend continued.

“Have you cried already?”

 

Koutarou placed the book on the heap of soil in front of him and finally got up, Tetsurou following his matter.

The hand on his shoulder appeared again and this time squeezed it tightly in a supportive way.

He turned to his best friend and smiled sadly.“I don’t think he would’ve wanted me to.”

At this, Tetsurou pulled him into a hug and Koutarou hesitated for a moment before hugging him back tightly.

“He would’ve wanted me to continue on, Tetsu…”

“I know” the other whispered before slowly pulling away, a faint smile gracing his lips.

“Hey, are you ready for your first day back in practice?”

Koutarou rubbed the corner of his eyes with his sleeve and finally put on his infamous bright smile.

“You can bet.”

“Let’s go, then.”

Tetsurou squeezed his shoulder one last time before letting go and going ahead across the graveyard.

Koutarou didn’t turn back when he finally followed him.

 

He didn’t know what his future would bring.

But he knew he would never forget the boy with a heart made of glass that was called Akaashi Keiji.