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Thanks, Spike

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It was a warm day. Finally a break from how cloudy and cold that have had been the past few days.

Bokuto drew the curtains of the picture window completely, so the sunlight illuminated the living room fully.

“Ah, Spike we can finally go for a run!” Bokuto said to the dog laying on the carpet, which wagged his tail in response.

Bokuto smiled at his pet, “Well! Let’s have a good breakfast then!” and he headed to the kitchen to start cooking.

Ready in his workout clothes, Bokuto put the leash on Spike, which was already jumping with excitement to go on a walk.

“Hey, buddy if you don’t stay still, I won’t be able to put your leash on,” he said and put a hand on the dog’s loin to calm him.

“Alright, we’re ready!” finally Bokuto said and got out of his apartment along with his dog.

The sun felt nice on his skin, the air felt clean and fresh.

Only positive thoughts flooded his mind, he felt at peace with the world.

There were more people on the streets even though it was early for a Sunday morning. People exercising or simply walking.

Bokuto took a deep breath to regulate his agitated breathing. Yep, he definitely felt at peace with the world.

He got to the park he always took Spike to, which was mostly empty because of the hour.

He approached the trough and drank a little of water, next with both hands he took a little of water to give it to his dog.

“Okay, buddy there you go,” Bokuto said to his pet while he drank, then he pet the dog’s head.

“Let’s play now!” and he took off Spike’s leash, picked up a stick from the grass and then threw it so the animal went for it.

They did that for a while until Spike breathed heavily and was lying on the grass, Bokuto sat beside him, scratching mindlessly his belly.

“Alright, bud time to go home,” he said as he got up, and put the leash back on the dog.

On the way back they walked, having to stop and wait for the green light.

“Oh!” Bokuto exclaimed when he noticed his shoelaces were untied. He kneeled to tie them again.

He heard something small ran fast by his side, a squirrel, Spike barking, the leash sliding from his grip, Spike running at full speed.

Bokuto jumped up, “SPIKE, NO!” the screech of the wheels of a car braking sharply, horns, yelling and swearing.

Bokuto was paralyzed, nailed to the ground, more horns and rushed steps approached him. Spike in the arms of a stranger.

“-ey, take your dog,” the stranger in front of him told him, he shook his head a little and looked at his dog.

“Spike!” the dog almost jumped into his arms, he took the dog, but shortly left him on the ground, the leash now firm on his grip.

He looked at the animal and frowned and sternly said, “Don’t do that again, it’s wrong, wrong! You almost scared me to death,” the dog seemed to understand, lowering his head and his ears. Bokuto nodded.

“Uh, sir, are you feeling okay?” the man talked again and Bokuto remembered he was in front of him.

“Ah, yes! Of course! Sorry, it’s just that I always talk to Spike as if he was a person, yeah, I know crazy, right?” Bokuto forced out a chuckle, feeling a little embarrassed.

But the man laughed softly and oh. Oh. Bokuto suddenly felt breathless.

“I know, I’ve had pets, you just look a little pale, but I presume you’re feeling alright,” the man had an almost imperceptible smile on the lips. No, he couldn’t let him go.

“Ye-yeah, I’m fine, it was just the shock. Uh, hey since you saved my dog uh-“ Bokuto put his free hand on the back of his head, trying to calm down, “would you like to have a coffee? Or have lunch? I pay obviously! And only if you want to of course! I-it’s to show you my gratefulness,” he cursed himself for stuttering so much.

The man stared at him for a few seconds, looking a bit suspicious, like he was analyzing if Bokuto was a potential threat in some way or not.

“Believe me there’s nothing to be afraid of, we’re good guys, right, Spike?” to this the dog barked and wagged his tail and stared at the man maybe just as hopeful as his owner.

The man looked from the dog to Bokuto, “I guess some caffeine could do me good right now,” finally said.

“Yeah! He said yes, Spike!” the dog wagged his tail again, “I know a coffee shop near here,” said Bokuto and they started walking.

“I’m Bokuto Koutarou by the way,” he gave his best smile while looking at the man.

“Akaashi,” said the guy.

“Akaashi,” Bokuto repeated, tasting the name in his tongue. A pretty name for a pretty face really.

“What is the name of your dog?” Akaashi asked while looking at the animal.

“Spike,” Bokuto answered with some sort of pride.

“Spike,” Akaashi repeated, “English?”

“Yeah!” said Bokuto, happy that Akaashi knew, “Comes from volleyball really, you know, like spike the ball?” Bokuto did the motion with his free arm. Akaashi chuckled a little. God.

“Yes, I know what you mean. I used to play volleyball in high school.”

Bokuto turned to look at him, “Really?!” he couldn’t help but feel excited whenever someone mentioned or talked about his favourite sport, “What position?”

“Setter.”

“Eh! I’m a wing spiker! We should play someday,” Bokuto said enthusiastic.

“I don’t know, I’m a little rusty, I haven’t played in a long time,” Akaashi said with some bitterness in his tone.

“Ah, I bet you were amazing! I play with a local club, you should come practice some time, everyone would be happy to have a new member even if it’s only for a day.”

“Maybe,” said Akaashi and they were already outside the coffee shop.

“Ah, Akaashi, could you stay here with Spike while I go get us the coffee? Won’t take too long.”

“It’s fine, I’ll look after him,” answered Akaashi and took Spike’s leash.

“What you’re gonna have?”

“Uh just plain American coffee it’s fine, no sugar, please.”

“Okay, got it, be right back,” said Bokuto and got into the café.

Fifteen minutes later, Bokuto was getting out of the shop with one coffee in each hand. They went to sit on a bench.

“God! I had to repeat my name three times to the barista,” Bokuto said sounding slightly annoyed, he turned the cup around and held it to Akaashi, “and he wrote a ‘c’ instead of a ‘k’,” Bokuto was shaking his head like he couldn’t believe it. The boy read the name and chuckled.

“Could have been worse. The amount of ‘a’s in my name always vary,” Bokuto laughed and passed the coffee to Akaashi.

“Thank you very much, Bokuto-san,” said Akaashi and drank from his coffee. Bokuto was a bit taken aback from the honorific, but let it pass.

He grimaced jokingly, “I can’t believe you drink it without sugar, it’s so bitter!” and flinched.

Akaashi shrugged, “I’m used to it, I need something strong to pull all-nighters.”

“Oh?” Bokuto didn’t want to ask why or what he did those sleepless nights, it seemed something of his concern.

“I’m studying Architecture,” finally Akaashi added and Bokuto’s apprehension vanished.

“Ah, I can imagine.”

“Yeah. I was coming back from a classmate’s home actually.”

“What were you working on? If you don’t mind me asking, of course,” Bokuto asked cautiously as if he just remembered that Akaashi was a stranger after all.

“A scale model of a building inspired in the structure of the Tokyo Tower,” Akaashi answered simply.

“Wow!” Bokuto couldn’t even get to size the amount of work that must have required.

“Yeah, we’ve been working on it for almost a month? We’re not even done yet,” said Akaashi, “way too many all-nighters,” and drank long sips of his coffee, like he was trying to forget those nights.

Bokuto side glanced at him, thinking how amazing he found Akaashi already.

“You’re in a uni around here?” asked Bokuto creating more conversation and because he really wanted to know more about Akaashi.

“Yes, local university, good at Architecture,” Akaashi took another sip of his bitter coffee. Only then Bokuto side glanced at Akaashi and noticed the dark circles under his eyes —which were a beautiful blueish green—.

If he looked like this tired, Bokuto couldn’t even picture how he looked in top form. Bokuto swallowed noticeably and drank from his coffee to cover it up.

“How old is Spike?” asked Akaashi while he stroked the dog’s head which had been sitting quietly all this time.

“He turned two last month,” Bokuto answered with affection in his voice, smiling at his pet.

“Is he a Border Collie?”

“He is a mongrel, half Collie half Golden retriever,” Akaashi hummed.

“I found him at my job, on the restaurant trash bins,” Akaashi turned around a bit to look at him.

“He was only a puppy and spent a few days there. I saw him once during my break, he was visibly almost starving, so I sneaked out a plate with leftovers. The next day he was still there, I didn’t have another choice, but to feed him again.

It was like that for a few days, he quickly got fond of me and I would’ve taken him to my apartment the first day I saw him, but pets aren’t allowed in the building.

Then one day there was a storm and it was raining a lot, I couldn’t let him there, so I put him on my backpack and took him home. I fed him and took care of him. I always listened to music loudly so his barking and steps couldn’t be heard.

It was like that for a few weeks, I sneaked him out, always inside of a bag or something like that, until one day the manager came to my apartment to ask me something and Spike was playing with a ball in the living room. Luckily she fell in love with him and let me keep him, with the condition of keeping the place clean and he didn’t make too much noise,” Bokuto stroked Spike’s neck, “now we’re inseparable, right, buddy?”

“That’s a really sweet story, Bokuto-san,” said Akaashi smiling slightly at Bokuto. Bokuto might or not might have been flushed to his ears.

“Oh-uh yeah, really sweet,” he chuckled flustered.

“So, you work at a restaurant?” Akaashi asked.

“Ah, yup! It’s a little far from my home, but they pay me well. I’m currently working full time.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, it’s to pay my career, had to take a leave of absence so I could get a job and save enough money to keep studying.”

“I see, college debts are a pain in the neck. What were you studying?”

“Veterinary.”

“Figures,” Akaashi smiled a little. Looked at his watch and sighed, “It’s late,” mumbled.

“Y’know, you should come see me at the restaurant, I can give you extra ration,” Bokuto smirked and wiggled his eyebrows playfully.

“I’d love that,” Akaashi side glanced at him, opened his backpack and took out a pen, put a hand on Bokuto’s forearm and wrote something on the boy’s wrist.

“I don’t think you’ll forget my name,” Akaashi said when he was done writing.

Bokuto stared at him with eyes wide open, gaping. Akaashi stood up, slung his backpack over his shoulder and turned to look at Bokuto.

“Thank you for the coffee, Bokuto-san,” he pet Spike’s head, “goodbye, Spike,” and just like that he started walking, leaving, then he turned his head around to look at Bokuto again, waved his hand and was that a wink?

Bokuto was still stunned. When Akaashi was no longer in sight, he could recover a bit; put a hand on his pet’s head.

“When we get home I’ll give you double ration of food and I’ll add fried bacon,” said Bokuto happily and the dog just wagged his tail in response, having no idea of what he had just done for his owner.