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Kei has seen him before. Kei knows him. Kei had heard about him. He as they say stopped growing up at 12. He heard about his massive collection of crow action figure. He heard about his high energy and his love for food. He heard that he does not want to be alone. And he heard he cries easily.

 

He might had seen and heard about him, but this is the first time he actually had a one-on-one conversation with him. It was a total mystery why this small male wearing a dark blue hoodie with the word ace printed on it suddenly approached him. When Hinata Shoyou flashed his wide smile, the first thought that came to Kei was he really does look like some sort of a cute chick-bunny hybrid with a messy hair.

 

“You remind me so much of someone.” Shoyou said to him as he still has no idea whatsoever the other was talking, or more like, who he was talking about.

 

“Who?” Kei begged to ask.

 

“Nevermind… He’s much cuter than you anyway.” Shoyou smiled mischievously. Kei frowned as if seeking for an explanation from Shoyou. But Shoyou simply tap him lightly by the shoulder and as fast as he appeared in front of him, as fast as he went away.

 

The second time they had talked, Shoyou spoke more statements than he should. Shoyou talked so much about his day, his thoughts and all sorts of things. But more importantly, Shoyou was talking about this certain person whom according him is a pain in the ass, mean and a fun sucker. It is as if Shoyou was complaining to him. Then Shoyou told how much he misses that person, then jumping to another topic, then going back to talking about that person again.

 

His second impression in Shoyou is that he is a very sentimental guy, and he loves to talk. He is like an overexcited kid who was telling his first day at school, Kei added in his mind.

 

Kei wonders why of all the people in the world, Shoyou chose to tell these stories to him. Isn’t he known for having a big circle of friends? Why can’t Shoyou talk to them instead of him? Kei always had a calm demeanor; but he is also the kind of person that speaks his mind. He does not mean to be rude but he barely knows this guy, but Shoyou acts like they are old buddies whom he can tell all his secrets. Shoyou trusts people easily? At least Shoyou trusted him easily; another impression to add.

 

He had been sitting here watching Shoyou opens and closes his mouth wondering when he will stop for god how long. So it might simply through common sense that he can’t help but question Shoyou’s actions.

 

“You are telling me this because?” Kei asked in a way to hidden tell that what Shoyou is doing is peculiar. For it really is peculiar. That made Shoyou stopped and stared at him blankly until…

 

“Just listen to me!”  Kei thought that was rather surprising. When he first met him, he was all smiles or doe-eyes. He reckoned, what people say about Shoyou’s mood swings is true after all.

 

“Why should I? All you are blabbering are crap.”

 

“Because… just because…”

 

“Okay fine. I’ll listen.” Kei sighed and just submitted to Shoyou’s request like there really nothing he could. Shoyou let out small chuckles. Kei does not like how Shoyou chuckles, it feels like the other teen is making fun of him, like he is some sort of a silly kid.

 

“You really are like him.” Shoyou pointed out endeared at Kei.

 

“Who?”

 

But Shoyou did not answer Kei’s question, but instead, Shoyou moved his hand and looked right through him as if inspecting something from the latter’s face. Kei on the other hand was locked unto Shoyou’s gaze that he did not budge. He was pretty sure that Shoyou’s fingers are about to touch the side of his forehead just above his left eyebrow when the smaller boy halted and rest his hand down.

 

“But he’s still cuter than you.” Shoyou flashed a cheeky smile. He was teasing him.

 

Kei raised an eyebrow but nonetheless Shoyou continue in his blabbers as Kei was forced to listen.

 

Their little conversations occurred for the third, and the fourth, and the fifth time. And unlike the others before, Kei was able to talk more those times, and it became more natural and free. Kei always wonders why Shoyou always comes to him; but he never really put an effort to send Shoyou away. It has finally come to him how slowly he is becoming familiar and comfortable with Shoyou’s presence.

 

“Kei-chan!” Kei heard Shoyou’s high voice calling him in a name that the smaller male chose to call him, a nickname. He saw Shoyou running excitedly towards him waving his hand.

“Oh Shrimpy.” Is all Kei could mutter when Shoyou finally reached him and pulled him to an embrace so tight. Kei simply smiled thinly when Shoyou pulled out. He did enjoy those small hugs.

 

“Kei-chan, keep these movie tickets for me. I’m afraid I’ll lose it.” Shoyou said taking out two movie tickets from his pocket.

 

“Of course you will lose it.” Kei wanted to answer something smart ass but was interrupted by the smaller man quickly.

 

“Kei-chan! See you this weekend.” Shoyou said sweetly as he jumped and land a perfect kiss to Kei’s cheek. Kei was speechless.

 

The movie trip they had that weekend is only the first of the other movie trips they’re going to have and some other activities spent with the smaller teen. Sometimes Kei wonders that it was too fast how they become like this, spending time together that is. But in the end, Kei knows he likes it. He likes it very much, even if it is Shoyou who always decides which activities they are going to do, or more like Shoyou forcing him to.

 

“Shrimp, why are we doing this again?” Kei asked but it rather came out as a small complain.

 

“Because I want to!” Shoyou noted firmly like he is the one truly in charge.

 

“Can’t you just ask anyone other than me to accompany you?”

 

“No…” Shoyou muttered shaking his head to the sides “I only want to do this with you.”

 

Kei was speechless and simply nodded. Although he tried to hide it, he was truly overjoyed; the thought of Shoyou wanting no one but him.

 

“What do you suggest we play?” Kei begged a question looking to his side to peek right through Shoyou’s face.

 

“Just play anything you want Kei, and I’ll follow.” Shoyou said in his softest voice, Kei simply smiled.

 

Carefully setting his two hands in the keys of the piano, Kei gently move his fingers set out to create a familiar hymn. And slowly, one by one, each note comes out. It took a while, but eventually another set of keys are played simultaneously to his coming from the same piano. Shoyou is playing together with him – an invisible smile in their eyes. And they played beautifully in Kei’s bias point of view.

 

It did finally come to his knowledge the person whom Shoyou claims to be cuter than him. Although, he does not agree that this guy is cuter than him. KageyamaTobio is the guy’s name, or Tobi-chan as what Shoyou calls him. He heard about him too. The tall dude who has an imposing demeanor and quick to insult others. That’s what he’s known for. Indeed, this guy is pretty much like him, in some ways.

 

Shoyou talks so much about Tobi-chan that Kei feels that he knows him as well. He knows more than he should but it really wasn’t his choice that Shoyou tell him almost every single memory Shoyou had with Tobio. It is as if Shoyou is obsessed with Tobio. Somehow, Kei does not like the idea of that.

 

“Tobi-chan once tried to bake a cake. It was a disaster.” Shoyou said smiling sweetly in the memory.

 

“I know…”

 

“How come you know that?” Shoyou looked at Kei in question.

 

“You told me that.” Kei simply said like it was so casual.

 

“I did?”

 

“I had an idea! Let’s bake cake!” Shoyou yelped “Let’s bake cake!”

 

If he has his way, he does not want to hear anymore tales about Tobio. But Shoyou looks so happy every time Tobi-chan’s name is slipped through his mouth. And Kei cannot bear the thought of stripping away that joy from Shoyou. But he can’t help but wonder, does Shoyou bear the same joyful expression in his face when he talks about him? Or does Shoyou talk about him on the first place? Probably not.

 

“Kei-chan! Take me to the Tokyo Tower.”

 

“That’s too far.” Kei slouched more indolently to the bed.

 

“Okay, I’m fine if Kei-chan doesn’t want to.” Shoyou just said with a very obvious sadness in his expressive eyes, his pitiful childlike demeanor is no less effective for Kei to give-in.

 

“Alright, I’ll take you there.” Kei sighed.

 

This is the first time Kei came to the said tower, and he was thankful that he was with Shoyou during his first time.

 

“Tobi-chan took me here too.” Shoyou suddenly said just after he hung his wishes.

 

“He did?” Kei responded, just try to act interested.

 

“Yes, exactly two years ago? On this very same day…” Kei observed Shoyou smiling to himself probably reminiscing a beautiful memory.

 

“We also wrote messages in paper planes and let it fly from up here.” Shoyou informed. This triggered Kei to do something he no longer has a control of. When he heard that Shoyou once shared the same memory he has with Shoyou, he suddenly felt jealous of Tobio.

 

Why did Tobio had to be first one?

 

 “Did Tobi-chan did this too?” and before Shoyou could speak, Kei leaned forward and kiss Shoyou’s lips with his own. And for whatever reason, Shoyou kissed back, and that’s what matters.

 

No one could give a concrete explanation how they ended up this way. Their relationship is nothing but vague. They kiss. They go on dates. They hold hands and cuddle. But what exactly is Kei’s place in Shoyou’s life? As much as Kei wanted to ask Shoyou; there are things better left unsaid.

 

“Here you go.” Shoyou passed the cone of ice cream to Kei in delight. Kei was left frowning looking weirdly at the scoop of white ice cream in his cone.

 

“Something wrong?” Shoyou asked.

 

“I’m just not very fond of vanilla flavor. I prefer chocolate.” Kei explained.

 

“I always thought you like vanilla.”

 

“What made you think that?” Shoyou did not answer him and just gave him a smile.

 

Kei is not clueless why Shoyou forces him to do these things together, why Shoyou wanted him to play piano with him or watch English movies together, or why Shoyou insist that his favorite ice cream flavor is vanilla. It is because of Tobio. Because Tobio use to play piano and watch English movies with Shoyou; because Tobio brought him in the tower; because Tobio’s favorite flavor of ice cream is vanilla… He’s aware that everything about him and Shoyou has something to do with Tobio.

 

Tobio was the mere reason why Shoyou approached him that day. Tobio was the mere reason why Shoyou approached him again, and again. And for that, maybe, he thanked Tobio. For if Tobio did not met Shoyou, and they hadn’t fell in love. And if Tobio did not left Shoyou, then Shoyou may not be in his side right now, and that’s what matters.

 

“Who’s better?” It is really childish to ask Shoyou, but a child he did became when it comes to competing for Shoyou’s heart.

 

“What do you mean who’s better?”

 

“Who’s a better playing the piano? Tobi-chan or I?” Kei asked hesitantly, Shoyou smiled.

 

“Kei-chan plays better than Tobi-chan.”

 

“Really? You’re not lying?” Kei’s face brightened up.

 

“I’m not! Believe me when I said it.”

 

“Does that mean Kei-chan is better than Tobi-chan too?” He did not mean to ask such question but it might be because he had wanted to ask it since forever. Shoyou did not answer.

 

“He will always be better than me isn’t he?” Kei said with a bittersweet smile.

 

Shoyou did not answer, instead, he pulled Kei to an embrace.

 

No matter how hard he tries, he cannot defeat Tobio. He fails in comparison. He hates being compared but at the same time he likes being to. To be compared will only make him feel smaller, but to be compared makes him feel like he is not ignored.

 

He never wanted to walk another person’s shadow – to be a mere replacement. He could not accept the fact that there is one person out there whom Shoyou cherishes more. But most of all, he was afraid that Shoyou never once saw him, and all Shoyou has been seeing is an illusion of Tobio in him.

 

“I’m not Tobio!” That was not his best speech. But it was strong enough to quake the remains of his relationship with Shoyou.

 

“I am not blind not to know that.” Shoyou said lowly “You are Kei.” He looked at Shoyou and he saw him smiling, but it was not usual smile. It was a lot sadder, probably the saddest he had seen in his life.

 

Kei wanted to take back what he said but it was way too late for that.

 

“I think I should go now.” Shoyou said trembling, his eyes are threatening with tears. Kei was left standing only watching Shoyou as he slowly walks away.

 

With his face totally back at Kei, Shoyou halted.

 

 “Tobio does not like vanilla ice cream. Like you. He preferred chocolate. Yet, Tobio did not complain once nor voice out how he likes chocolate more. But you always do.” He turned back to face Kei again, now it was visible to the younger man the tears that already escaped in Shoyou’s eyes.

 

“I just want you to know that.” Shoyou gave his final smile and turned back and walk away, this time without halting.

 

They never talked for two weeks. They never saw each other or leave a single message for one another. Those are two of the most lifeless week to Kei since he was born.

 

He did not expect to get bruise when the door to Shoyou’s pad opened. In a blink of an eye, just before he could talk, Shoyou’s small fist met his face. Shoyou was so darn strong more than he thought that the mere punch made him fall to the floor. Shoyou walked back inside initially leaving the door open. Yamaguchi and Yachi rushed to Kei to help him up.

 

“What took you so long?” Yachi asked as she helped Kei get up.

 

“I was thinking.” Kei answered almost with no life.

 

“You could had just stop thinking and just get here earlier. You receive the message right, we notify you.” Yachi asked, Kei just gave a nod.

 

“He does not want to start without you.” Yamaguchi pointed out. “You are the first one he looked for when we throw in the surprise.”

 

Kei remained emotionless. He does not know what to think of what he heard. So what if Shoyou looked for him? Does it make him any more special?

 

“Come’ on, just make up already. It’s his birthday.” Yamaguchi said with concern in his voice cocking his head to Shoyou who is now seated in the couch sulking.

 

Kei hesitated, he does not know what to do. Yamaguchi realized that what Kei and Shoyou need is a private conversation so he signaled the rest of their friends to leave the room. And so the rest complied. Yachi gave him a tap on his back before leaving. She was the last one to leave, and now Kei and Shoyou are alone.

 

Kei walked slowly till he is much nearer to the smaller teen. He still refuses to look Shoyou and instead settled in just staring the floor.

 

“Surprise?” He forced a whisper with sheer nerves totally obvious.

 

“I’m sorry… I’m being such an ass…” The more he tried to speak, the harder he finds the words.

 

“I- ah…” a pause “Happy…” Kei was cut right before he could finish his greeting for Shoyou without a warning jump into him.

 

Shoyou’s embraced has always been tight, but this might be the tightest of all the embraces he had from the smaller man. He could feel Shoyou’s sobs in his shoulders. His once tensed body finally relaxed in Shoyou’s arms as he let out the same tightness wrapped around Shoyou’s body. Shoyou wanted him here, and that’s what really matters.

 

“Happy Birthday Shoyou …” Kei whispered.

 

They never had any serious fight since then. In fact, they had become happier. Although, Shoyou will still tell repeated tales about Tobio. But Kei learned to accept more every day that he really cannot have Shoyou’s heart on his own. It’s hurtful. But Kei had decided that the best way he could do is just love Shoyou for who he is and not asking for more than what Shoyou could give him.

 

Shoyou was a little bit surprised when he unwrapped the Christmas present Kei gave him. It shows in his face. Although, Shoyou rather handled the shock rather calm.

 

“How did you know that I like Flounder more than Nemo?” Shoyou raised a calm question sounding amused as he carefully examines the mug printed with Flounder.

 

“It’s easy to figure out. First of all, you forced me to watch Little Mermaid about twenty times with you. We only watched Finding Nemo twice. You have 7 Nemo plushie, 11 if we count the pillows, but you always preferred hugging your Flounder pillow.”  Kei paused. “You have a Flounder folder in your computer. You have a collection of Flounder stickers hidden in your bed. And your key chain for the lock of your food container is Flounder… What else?” Kei raised an eyebrow thinking as Shoyou chuckled softly. Kei gave up on thinking; Shoyou finally got his point anyway.

 

“Kei-chan, don’t tell anyone okay? It will be our secret.” Shoyou requested. Kei grinned and nod about three times.

 

“You, Tobi-chan, and I are the only ones who know.”

 

‘Tobi-chan again…’ Kei sighed in his mind. But it would not destroy the joy he felt of knowing he shares another secret with Shoyou, although that certain Tobi-chan knows it too.

 

“Kei-chan, please stay with me tonight.”

 

Shoyou didn’t need to ask, Kei will force himself to stay by Shoyou’s side anyway. And if he has his way, he’ll never leave.

 

“Kei-chan, teach me English!” came Shoyou in his usual active state jumping on the couch. Kei couldn’t help but flash a smile at the sight of the smaller man sitting beside him.

 

“Kei-chan, you’re doing it again.” Shoyou said doe-eyed looking at Kei.

 

“Doing what?”

 

“That smile…” Shoyou said. Yes Kei is showing I’m so deeply in love with you - grin in his face. And Shoyou caught him again.

 

“I’m not doing that smile.” Kei protested defensively.

 

“Oh come’ on, you are so doing it.” Shoyou insisted. Kei dismissed the though if answering instead gave Shoyou a disapproving look.

 

“I like that smile of yours.” Shoyou muttered and made Kei look at him.

 

“Only Kei-chan smiles at me like that.” And Shoyou saw that smile again.

 

But although with all the goods things that seems to be falling down in his feet; these aren’t still enough. Kei still worries for that day that he’ll lose Shoyou. Because although how much he loves him, everything is still uncertain.

 

 “Tobi-chan called today.” Shoyou informed him.

 

“He asked me if I’m well. He said he misses me. But he did not tell me when he’ll come back; or whether he will.”

 

“What will you do when he comes back?” A question he longed wanted to ask. ‘What will happen to me?’ he thought.

 

“He has not come back yet, hasn’t he?” Is all Shoyou said.

 

Kei has no clue what possessed him to do his next action. He really has no idea why he took Shoyou’s chin with his hand and tilted slowly to face him, lean down his face and kiss him tenderly. Maybe because he just felt like there is a need to do it. But nonetheless, Shoyou responded to the sweet kiss. And that was more than enough for Kei.

 

“Kei-chan…” Shoyou whispered his name when their lips part “I love you…”

 

“I love you too, Shoyou.” Kei whispered back ‘my Shoyou’

 

Shoyou loves Kei, Kei loves Shoyou. And that’s what really matters, right?