This is what death felt like. A pounding headache, stuffed nose, heavy eyes, skin covered with sweat and a raw throat. He informed Akaashi as such, vowels roughly scraped out of his mouth, "Ah-kaaaaaaaa-shiii. i'm dyinng."
"Bokuto-san? You sound awful."
Bokuto blinked once, twice. He looked around his room before realizing that Akaashi was actually a voice coming from his phone; not actually here. He didn't even remember dialling Akaashi's number. Dying. He was definitely dying and hallucinating on top of it.
"Akaashi. I think." He winced as his body was wracked by a sudden onset of coughs. He just groaned unable to finish his response. He was suddenly very tired. His eyes were starting to flutter closed, but the sound of his name made them snap open again.
Bokuto couldn’t help the grin that broke out by the use of his first name but it sounded…worried. Akaashi sounded worried. He didn't want Akaashi to be worried. He makes an attempt to pull himself up but is hit with a wave of nausea. Settling back against his pillow he buries himself deeper into his makeshift cocoon of blankets.
"Kaashi, don' worry." His words trailed off into a mumble as his eyes closed again. His phone slides from his palm onto the floor and he quickly slips into sleep soon after.
“Koutarou what kind of reaction do you expect when you call me and tell me you’re dying?”
"I'll be over as soon as I can okay?"
There is a click when the phone disconnects, but Bokuto doesn’t hear it.
When Akaashi arrives at Bokuto's house he is in what Konoha refers to as full owl mom mode. He had stopped at the convenience store and acquired everything he would need to take care of an obviously very ill Bokuto. Medicine, soup, and herbal teas that he knew convincing Bokuto to consume were going to give him a headache. He leaves them in the kitchen before making his way upstairs.
He finds Bokuto or the shape of him at least, on his bed. He's wrapped in what Akaashi can discern as at least four separate blankets.
Akaashi sighs and carefully begins separating blanket from boy. He stops when he can see Bokuto's face. His cheeks are flushed and his hair is down and matted against his forehead. Akaashi's heart pangs, it's disarming to see his ace this way. He presses his fingers to Bokuto's forehead and pushes the hair back, he’s met with hot hot flesh. Bokuto reacts by scrunching his face and pressing his head against the touch. Akaashi watches Bokuto slowly open his eyes, the golden orbs a stark contrast against the pallor of his skin. He can tell the exact moment Bokuto recognizes his presence by the lazy smile that spreads across his lips.
"Keiji, you're really here." His voice is hoarse and missing its usual enthusiasm, the words causing him to wince.
"Of course, I came as soon as you called." He's carding his fingers through Bokuto's hair, smoothing it back.
"Have you checked your temperature?”
Bokuto shakes his head, gold eyes averting from green.
“Have you taken any medicine? Have you eaten anything?"
Bokuto pouts and shakes his head again. Akaashi can't help but sigh as he pats the top of Bokuto’s head. As dramatic as the other boy is, it was true that he would probably die without Akaashi. He was absolutely awful at taking care of himself.
"I'll be right back, okay?"
Bokuto whines, his hand snaking out of the blanket to wrap around Akaashi's wrist. Where his forehead was hot his fingers are ice cold. Akaashi can’t help the shiver that runs through him at the touch.
"Nooo don't go. I need you. M'dying."
Akaashi extracts his hand from Bokuto's cold fingers, pressing a chaste kiss against the other's knuckles before pulling away from the bed. "Koutarou for me to prevent that you're going to have to let me take care of you. That means letting me leave for a few minutes. Can you do that?"
Bokuto pouts, but nods in response as he grabs some of the blankets Akaashi had pulled off of him, wrapping them back around. "I guess so."
Akaashi smiles and leaves the bedroom. He goes to the kitchen, unpacking the bags. He proceeds to boil the water for tea and heats up the soup. Fifteen minutes pass before everything is ready. He grabs a tray and fills it with the essentials: soup, tea, water, and medicine. He has to be careful as he makes his way back upstairs to Bokuto’s room but if Keiji is anything it’s patient. Patience is a requirement if you’re dating Bokuto Koutarou. He thinks of Bokuto, attempting to carry any of this and how it would be all over in the first step. He smiles at the thought.
When he goes back to Bokuto's room he sees that he’ back asleep. He's snoring and Akaashi couldn't love him any less. He places the tray on Bokuto’s desk and leaves once more to retrieve a wet cloth from the bathroom. When he returns the cool cloth is pressed against Bokuto's forehead, he smooths it out so it lies flat. He receives a satisfied hum in response, gold eyes opening and a smile forming. He always has a smile for Akaashi.
"Kaaashiii. You're back! I dreamed about you. You had an owl." He squints, his eyes flickering around the room and although he doesn't say anything Keiji knows that Bokuto is literally looking for the aforementioned dream owl.
"That sounds like a good dream Bokuto. Can you sit up for me?"
Keiji watches as Bokuto, slow as molasses, pulls himself up into a sitting position. He's managed to mainly remain in his cocoon so only his head pokes out, the blankets draped over his shoulders like a makeshift cape. Akaashi gives him the water first, which Bokuto greedily gulps down leading to a coughing fit. Akaashi pats his back, rubbing circles and chastising his boyfriend for not staying hydrated (because he should know better) and for drinking so quickly.
Second is the medicine which Bokuto complains and claims he doesn’t need. It’s only through threatening to leave that Akaashi gets his stubborn boyfriend to swallow the disgusting syrup. He knows it’s disgusting because Bokuto tells him so; he makes exaggerated gagging sounds to prove his point.
Third is the soup. Akaashi sits down beside Bokuto, their shoulders bumping together. Bokuto leans his entire weight against him, and although Akaashi is the smaller of the pair he’s used to supporting the other boy. He offers the bowl to Bokuto but he just shakes his head, grinning in reply, “Feed me, Keiji. “
“You’re not that sick Bokuto-san.”
He just gets a whine which Akaashi shuts up by pushing a spoon of soup into Bokuto’s mouth. His whole expression lights up and he can feel the vibrations of Bokuto humming happily around the spoon. He doesn’t mind feeding him, but that’s not something Bokuto has to know. He chastises him through the whole ordeal.
When they’re finished, the empty bowl lays discarded on Bokuto’s floor and the tea has gone cold. Bokuto refused to drink, referred to it as toxic leaf water and Akaashi knows when to pick his battles. He figures the water, medicine and soup were enough.
They’re both lying in Bokuto’s small bed. Akaashi is pressed against Bokuto, playing the role of the big spoon. His fingers trace lazy lines through the light cotton of Bokuto’s shirt; he follows the span of his muscles. He leans forward, his lips against the nape of his boyfriend’s neck, dropping light butterfly kisses.
“Keiji thanks for taking care of me.”
It’s soft, quiet, and content.
Akaashi can’t help but smile against Bokuto’s neck. He hopes he can feel it, feel how the corners of his lips pull up. He hopes that Bokuto knows that he will always be there to take care of him. Just in case he doesn’t, just in case it isn’t enough.
Akaashi does get sick. It doesn’t happen immediately but a couple of days later. It hits him hard as he’s staring at his calculus homework. He does not call Bokuto to tell him that he is dying; he doesn’t call Bokuto at all. He just texts an apology for the practice he will be missing tomorrow morning, self-medicates and goes to sleep.
His slumber is ruined when he’s rudely awoken by the sound of a crash, shattering glass and someone cursing profusely. The suddenness of it gives him vertigo and he has to blink a few times before his eyes can focus on the outline of his room. He thinks of burglars and how everything is spinning a bit too much for him to be preventing a robbery at the moment. Akaashi is about to attempt pulling himself out of bed but stops when a figure bolts into his doorway. It’s not a burglar, its Bokuto and even though his vision blurs it would be impossible to mistake his boyfriend for anyone else.
“Keiji?” He sounds tentative and worried.
“Why are you breaking into my house?” Akaashi’s words come out gravelly and hoarse.
“You gave me a key!”
“Why are you breaking the things in my house then?” He glances at his clock, the numbers flash to say it’s 9PM; he hadn’t even been unconscious for three hours. The only thing Bokuto is robbing him of is his much needed rest.
Bokuto flips on the light switch by the door and Akaashi hisses at the sudden brightness, scrunching his eyes shut. It is not doing pleasant things for the pounding in his head. When he opens them again it takes a while for the black dots to dissipate, but eventually the fidgety form of Bokuto takes shape.
“A-kaaa-shii, it was an accident I swear! I just knew you were sick even though you didn’t say anything or answer my texts!” He’s pouting and there is also a giant stain of what Keiji can only discern as soup splashed across his shirt. “You took such good care of me I wanted to take care of you too,” He looks to the side, his hand rubbing at the back of his head. “I messed up though... No surprise there.”
Akaashi’s vision may be blurred, his senses a bit duller but he knows the onset of Bokuto’s dejection when he hears it. Whatever irritation he feels is overwhelmed with the love he has for this boy, a boy who trips up stairs and comes even when he isn’t even called. He spreads his arms open, sliding so his legs are hanging off the edge of his bed.
“Come here.” Pause. “Take off your shirt first though, I’m not hugging you in that. “
Bokuto gives him a sheepish grin, peeling off his shirt and tossing it to the corner. He doesn’t hesitate as he moves forward to settle on his knees in front of Akaashi. The flush that rises against Akaashi’s skin could be from a fever but it’s much more likely the naked expanse of Bokuto’s torso, the way his muscles are sculpted; each line a definition. He is suddenly extremely grateful for Bokuto’s clumsiness.
“I’m sorry, I think I broke your mom’s favourite bowl.”
He’s not grateful for that part. Akaashi sighs; wrapping his arms along Bokuto’s back, squeezing him gently. “It’s okay Koutarou. Thank you for coming to take care of me, you didn’t have to. “
“I wanted to!” Bokuto wraps his arms around Keiji’s waist in response, cheek pressed against his chest. “You always take care of me Keiji. It’s not fair; I can take care of you too.”
“I like taking care of you, I don’t mind.” He rubs the pad of his thumb along the nape of Bokuto’s neck.
“I mind!” He’s suddenly detaching himself; golden eyes alight with determination as he stands up. “I’m going to take care of you Keiji. There’s still soup! I just need to clean up what I spilled. Do you want tea? I can make you tea! Even though it’s pretty gross, I don’t know how you can drink it honestly Keiji you’re so strong.”
Akaashi’s eye level is at Bokuto’s belly button, his face heats up as he examines the hard lines that disappear past the waistband of his low slung sweatpants. He doesn’t regret telling Bokuto to take off his shirt, not really, he deserves this. He’s sick and Bokuto broke his mother’s bowl and he absolutely refuses to tell Bokuto that he’s left a sweater here that he can change into. So if he takes longer to translate Bokuto’s speech it’s not his fault, he’s sick, and the sparse hairs that trail down from his boyfriend’s naval are distracting. He clenches one of his fists into his sheet, drawing in some form of focus. “Just the soup will be okay. “
Bokuto grins, wide and bright. “Okay! I’ll be right back, don’t move!”
“Don’t break anything.”
He’s already bounding out of the bedroom, halfway through the door. Bokuto doesn’t know how to do slow. “Akaashi it was an accident! I won’t, I promise!”
Bokuto takes long enough for Akaashi to regain his composure. He stays seated on his bed even though his gut instinct is to go and supervise Bokuto. He swallows around the lukewarm water from his bedside table and takes another advil. When Bokuto comes back he’s smiling, it’s the kind of smile that means victory, like when his cross-spike is successful and he’s shouted hey hey hey. Akaashi can’t help but return it.
“Everything’s clean and I didn’t break anything else!” He sits down beside Akaashi, scooting in close so their sides are lined up. Akaashi holds out his hands to take the bowl of soup but Bokuto shakes his head in reply.
“I’m going to take care of you! It’s only fair.” He holds out a spoonful of soup and it’s a mirror of two days ago with the roles reversed.
Akaashi hesitates, his face flushing. He feels like the protagonist of a romance novel; having a shirtless Bokuto spoon-feed him soup. Maybe he’s having a fever dream. He leans forward and accepts the spoon into his mouth. The soup is warm on his tongue, it’s his favourite kind and it soothes his throat as he swallows.
“I got your favourite, Is it good? I hope it’s okay! It’s not too hot is it? It should have cooled down a bit,” He asks, eyes inquisitive and eager.
“It’s perfect, thank you Kou.” He leans forward and kisses him gently on the cheek causing Bokuto to preen. He opens his mouth and Bokuto complies, giving him another mouthful of soup. Akaashi is certain the next time he’s sick he will not hesitate to inform Bokuto at all. He likes being taken care of; he likes the idea of learning to get used to this.
Bokuto feeds him the whole bowl of soup and sneaks in a lazy kiss when they’re finished (which Akaashi chastises him for because germs and you just got better and I’m not feeding you soup if you get sick a second time).
He just grins, “I’m pretty sure I’m immune now! Don’t worry Keiji.”
“That’s not how your immune system works.” Akaashi can’t help the yawn that follows; the medicine and lack of sleep making him drowsy.
“Pretty sure that’s how it works. You must be tired, here- -“ And he’s guiding Akaashi to lie down on his side. For a second Akaashi thinks that Bokuto is getting up to leave and he doesn’t want that, but he’s just turning off the light. By the time his eyes have adjusted to the darkness Bokuto is back. He crawls onto the bed and stretches out on his side, their bodies running parallel before he pulls Akaashi into a tight hug. Their bodies slot together like they were never meant to be apart. They’ve been together for months but it still surprises Akaashi how right this feels. He presses his face against Bokuto’s chest, his ear pressed against his heart; he matches his breaths to each beat.
“Kou if you’re cold you have a sweater in my closet.” He’s reluctant, he doesn’t want Bokuto to move, but he doesn’t want him to be uncomfortable either.
Bokuto leans forward slightly to press a kiss to the top of Akaashi’s head, and he can feel his grin. “It’s okay, you’ll keep me warm.”
Akaashi smiles and snuggles in closer, pressing a kiss right over the beats of Bokuto’s heart. He feels warm, he doesn’t think it’s a fever, he thinks it’s just love.
And then, in reply.