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The Shadow to my Light

Chapter Text

OCTOBER

Yamaguchi ran for his life to the nearest bathroom stall. He could not suppress the urge as the scent of flowers coming from his insides made him queasy. And for the nth time of the day, Yamaguchi vomited huge clumps of purple moonflower petals. He was heaving as the petals rushed out of his mouth non-stop for what felt like hours for him, slumping on the ground while trying to catch his breath, beads of sweat trickled on his forehead. Before recovering, he winced while the urge to vomit crept into him once again. Coughing uncontrollably, Yamaguchi propped his upper body towards the toilet as more purple petals came out from his mouth.

God knows how will he be able to make it to the practices. Karasuno’s volleyball team has been rigorously training in preparation for the Spring High Preliminaries. He fought the urge to cry, though he teared up despite all that. He reached up and flushed the toilet. Sighing, Yamaguchi watched as the petals are being washed away. He wiped blood away from his mouth.

Blood.

Yamaguchi ran towards the sink this time. He coughed, blood bubbling up from his throat. He quickly washed his mouth with water. Reaching for his bag, Yamaguchi took out his Hanahaki suppressant pills. He popped three in his mouth and swallowed, tears are now free flowing from his eyes.

Please still work, he thought.

He quickly recapped the bottle and placed it back at the bottom of his bag. He opened the water faucet, erasing any trace of his struggle. A good thing too, as the door opened a second later. It was Sugawara Koushi.

“Yamaguchi,” the vice-captain looked at him kindly. “Coach Ukai wanted to talk to the team. You ready?”

Yamaguchi sent a smile towards Sugawara, “Yeah!” Slinging his bag on his shoulder, he followed his vice-captain back to the gym. Everyone was already seated in front of Coach Ukai and Takeda-sensei. Sugawara sat down to his usual spot beside Sawamura Daichi, and today, Yamaguchi found himself seated beside Ennoshita Chikara.

“You alright?” Asked Ennoshita. “You seemed a little queasy when you ran out of practice earlier. I was worried.”

“Turns out it was a stomach bug, a very bad one, Ennoshita-senpai,” Yamaguchi scratched his head apologetically, giving his senpai a bright smile.

“Well, you got to be more careful next time, alright?” Ennoshita muttered before facing Coach Ukai.

In a split second Yamaguchi tensed up as he was certain that a pair of golden brown eyes were staring at his direction. He knew who it was but refused to meet those eyes because if he did, Yamaguchi knew he would be back in the bathroom stall in an instant belching out more petals than he could handle for the past hour. It took a lot of willpower from him to block out the thoughts and images of Tsukki in his mind. Somehow, it frustrates him that he has to resort to any form of distraction for the sake of his sanity.

That is probably another reason why every night Yamaguchi chooses to take a detour from his daily walks with Tsukishima, aside from the fact that he desires to improve his own skills in volleyball. In comparison to them Yamaguchi’s talents and skills in the sport were lackluster, he had nothing special in him worthy to play in the court for Karasuno. He needed a weapon that will give him a certain edge for his team. So when he saw Shimada senpai doing the jump float serve in one of the practice matches of the Neighborhood Association, he was certain that this will be his edge, his only weapon. From then on, Yamaguchi was sure that he needs to learn this serve no matter how much he needed to work his ass off for it. This serve could be his only weapon. His only fighting chance to be able to play alongside with the others, and that one day Yamaguchi could stand on equal ground with the rest of the team, and well, with Tsukki.

Maybe if he has something special in him, he will have a little more chance with Tsukki.

Nope. Stop. He should stop. If he allows any thought of Tsukki to linger in his brain any longer, he knows he will be done for practice. For a moment, he closed his eyes and exhaled. Right now, Yamaguchi was completely decided that he should and will devote his everything for the volleyball practices.

After some reminders, Coach Ukai dispersed the team for the night. They all stood up and took their bags with them. Yamaguchi could feel Tsukki’s presence behind him, but he kept on walking faster, faster, until he took the turn for Shimada’s store.

No more Tsukki, who kept on walking towards their compound.

Yamaguchi’s chest allowed him to breathe again, and opened the glass doors to Shimada’s, who welcomed him with a grin.

“Tadashi, welcome! Do you happen to need the bathroom?”

It was routine by now, and Yamaguchi was grateful for Shimada understanding his condition. With teary eyes and erratic breathing, Yamaguchi headed for the store’s backdoor bathroom. He immediately hurled down the toilet. Shimada was immediately behind him, patting his back as he barfed bloodstained petals.

“Blood,” breathed Shimada. “It has gotten this far, hasn’t it? Still no plans for a surgery?”

Yamaguchi’s head whipped towards his mentor, “No!” He exhaled, coughing. “Of… course not, Shimada-san. I’d rather die.”

Shimada shrugged and gave Yamaguchi a roll of tissues, “Well, I guess, you’re already on your way there. Did the suppressants work?”

Yamaguchi’s breathing eventually steadied as he wiped the blood trickling down his chin, “Barely, Shimada-san. I’m running out of time.”

“That you do. What’s the plan, my boy? You’ll die, is that it? You’ll let it be like that?”

Yamaguchi’s tears escaped his eyes, “What are you saying, Shimada-san?”

Shimada crossed his arms over his chest, “Tell him, Tadashi.”

The thought of telling Tsukki about his condition and harboring feelings that he had safely kept for years brought chills to Yamaguchi’s spine. How in all hells could he imagine doing that? It would be impossible. If it was Yachi, or Kiyoko-san, or even Hinata, it would be simple. Yamaguchi would have asked for their time and confessed outright and be done with it. He would have surgery after handling the rejection. But no, it had to be Tsukishima Kei.

Yamaguchi would not have it any other way though.

“Shimada-san, I don’t want to gamble anything between me and Tsukki. He… he’s the only friend I’ve got.”

“Not true, Tadashi.”

“Still. It would be awkward and I know he’s going to reject me anyway. I mean, have you seen him? I think he’d rather kiss a frog than have feelings for me, or even look at me like that.”

“Don’t you think it’s worth a shot? You said you don’t want to have it operated out of you. Then, what now? You will die, Yamaguchi. I cannot express that enough. Still confess. Either way, assuming what you said is true, you’re going to die anyway. What is there to lose?”

Yamaguchi froze on his spot beside the toilet. He has literally nothing to lose at this point. Shimada was right. Tsukki will still reject him whatever he might say to the blonde. He would be dead soon anyway. Why not do it anyway before it all?

Yamaguchi suddenly felt himself stand up and bowing deeply to Shimada, “Thank you so much, Shimada-san! I will try to think it all over. Can we practice more volleyball now? I mean, to keep my mind off of him.”

“Right. The petals are triggered when you think about the person. Sorry, I am still grasping all these Hanahaki things.” Shimada and Yamaguchi went out backdoor, with Yamaguchi picking up a volleyball.

Shimada nodded, “Then, let’s get to work.”

In order to get Tsukki out of his head, Yamaguchi concentrated his thoughts to volleyball and his serve. He remembered the first time he was called in to serve against a crucial match between Seijou. Back then, Yamaguchi was only starting to learn the serving technique when he was suddenly called by Coach Ukai to pinch serve. With his nerves and anxiety getting the better of him, the ball failed to reach to the other side.

Such a failure. He commented mentally to himself, biting his own tongue. He had enough of the self-deprecating thoughts in his head. No, he does not wish to stay this weak and inadequate any longer. He wants to be something more, someone better. Determined not to feel helpless again, Yamaguchi intended to dedicate all his free time to perfect his serve. So when the time comes he is called to serve on a pinch, he would be able to carry points for Karasuno.

Yamaguchi focused all of his energy in practicing the jump float serve to get his mind out of his unrequited love. For the rest of the night, he used up all of his energy mastering the serve. Ensuring that after the practice, he would be too drained that all his mind and body would ask for is rest. That is what exactly happened. Once he got home, Yamaguchi was exhausted to think of anything else although he hastily washed up and changed his clothes, until finally collapsed on his bed, falling asleep immediately.

He did not vomit any of those purple moonflowers for the rest of the night. The morning after was a totally different story.

Yamaguchi woke up in a bed of moonflower petals. He groggily stood up from his bed unsurprised with the fact that his bedroom was flooded by the petals that remind him of Tsukki. Feeling the urge to gag from the flowers, Yamaguchi covered his mouth and sprinted to his bathroom. He vomited on the toilet bowl and each petal was coated with blood. Desperate to find relief, he swallowed five Hanahaki suppressants. He begged and hoped to the universe that it will work. That the bleeding will stop. However, it didn’t as he continued to cough out more petals.

Yamaguchi is certain that he cannot stay like this anymore. For one, Tsukki is hell of an intelligent, insightful guy, and it was few of the traits that he finds so admirable about Tsukki. He admired Tsukishima the first time him. Back when he was a scrawny, pushover kid, Yamaguchi was easily bullied by his classmates, and Tsukki stopped his bullies from harming him by simply smirking condescendingly while uttering a single word: Pathetic. Yamaguchi admired the cool strength and pride Tsukki possessed and had found it strikingly attractive. When they became friends, Yamaguchi never left Tsukki’s side and he began to learn new things about him. How he places his dinosaur toys in the far right shelf of his room, how his face lights up, smiling genuinely every time he gets to eat strawberry shortcake, or how he owns a lot of t-shirts and jackets with moon prints. Unknowingly, his admiration for him grew stronger, until at the age of twelve he had a coughing fit and a purple petal came out from his mouth.

It was Moonflower. Yamaguchi’s face curled to a smile reading the description.

“The Moon flower glows as luminous as the moon. It represents mysterious people. It also the means: ‘I only dream for your love’. ”

How fitting.

Years have passed, and Yamaguchi still dreams for Tsukki’s love. He have been successfully hiding his disease with the help of his Hanahaki suppressants, while annually increasing the dosage. Yet, he knows that the years of hiding has to stop. His Hanahaki suppressants are already losing its effect and soon Tsukki would notice that Yamaguchi was intentionally and deliberately ignoring him. This may possibly cause a huge rift between but Yamaguchi is frightened to death, a little too literal perhaps, for fear of putting his friendship on the line with Tsukki. Had he confessed that his feelings for him earlier, his Hanahaki would not have reached this stage. The only way Yamaguchi has a chance of turning things around for the better was for him to tell Tsukki. He has to or he dies.

Plus his own teammates are already beginning to notice his increasing frequency for bathroom breaks. Yamaguchi is sure that one day, one of his teammates will catch him vomitting those moonflowers. After all, for the Karasuno Volleyball Team, having someone ill with the Hanahaki disease was a common thing. Some of them had a near death experience, he just sure hope that he would not be another count in Kiyoko’s tally list of: Karasuno Volleyball Members Experiencing Near Death with Hanahaki.

May be too late for that Yamaguchi will take all the time he had left though.

Practice had been hectic. He decided to drink double dosages, sometimes even triple. He could not care anymore for the repercussions it may inflict him anymore.

I’m already dying, Yamaguchi thought.

“Yamaguchi, nice serve!” Nishinoya yelled, failing to receive Yamaguchi’s jump floater. From the corner of Yamaguchi’s vision, he could see Tsukishima staring daggers at him. Yamaguchi ignored him. Their match against Shiratorizawa would only be a few days from now, and they needed to be as ready as they can ever be. Especially Yamaguchi. He could not mess up anything. He would hate for himself to puke flowers on the bench.

After the practice, Yamaguchi felt Tsukishima behind him.

“Walk with me, Yamaguchi.”

He felt the surge of petals from his stomach. Tears formed in his eyes as pain consumed his throat.

“I’m sorry, Tsukki. I need to go to the bathroom. You have to go ahead,” Yamaguchi replied, trying to keep the petals down.

“I could wait,” Tsukki responded, looking away.

“No, Tsukki!” Yamaguchi all but yelled. “Please, go ahead. I’ll be… I’ll be long.”

“I have time.”

“I’m having a really bad stomach bug, Tsukki. You wouldn’t want to smell me, do you, Tsukki?”

Tsukishima let out a, “Tch. Whatever.”

With that, he put his headphones on and walked away. Yamaguchi could not hold it anymore. A few bloodied moonflower petals dropped on the concrete.

Yamaguchi reached out to pick them up when he heard a sharp intake of breath from somewhere behind him. He turned around to see Daichi and Sugawara, worry already etched in their faces.

“Yamaguchi.” Suga whispered. “Oh, no, Yamaguchi. Not you too.”

Yamaguchi opened his palms, letting the petals be caught up in the wind in front of his captain and his vice captain.

Sugawara had his hand over his mouth. Yamaguchi smiled at them, “I can’t help it. I apologize.”

They approached him. Sugawara went in for a hug. Daichi gave him a few pats, “We know, Yamaguchi. We know. That’s for… Tsukishima, right?”

Yamaguchi could only nod. Sugawara looked at Daichi, “You wouldn’t tell him that, would you?”

Daichi shook his head, “Nothing like that. Yamaguchi knows that Tsukishima would always be Tsukishima, right?”

Sugawara broke from the hug, “Just promise us something.”

“Yes, Suga-san?”

“That you would fight until the end.”


 


Tsukishima Kei knew that Yamaguchi is a shy, gentle, peace-loving person in nature, He knew how Yamaguchi eyes would lower whenever there is a looming argument. How Yamaguchi would compromise to just about anything in order to prevent conflicts with anyone. He knew how the words “I’m sorry” could easily roll out of Yamaguchi’s mouth and do it with a smile just to avoid people getting annoyed with him.

This is why Tsukishima has never been this shocked in his life to see the timid, gentle, peace-loving Yamaguchi Tadashi could have that much frustration and anger seethe through his face, as he aggressively grabbed Tsukishima by his shirt, screaming at him at the top of his lungs.

“You’re going to lose somewhere. You all know that, so how can you keep going?”

Yamaguchi’s hold on him tightened, “WHAT MORE DO YOU NEED THAN PRIDE?”

Tsukishima’s heartbeat dropped. Skipped. For all he knows, it already clogged up his throat. Everything went back to him at once. His brother’s lies. The freckled boy who stood by him all the while. Every single time. Every single day.

Tsukishima tried to be mean to him because he thought Yamaguchi will not even find a good friend in him. He was not a good friend, to him, or to anyone, if he ever had friends besides him at all.

Yamaguchi was there. All this time. Tsukishima has been taking him for granted. He has been taking someone so precious for granted.

He could not ignore the loud beating of his heart as it tried to burst out of his chest. He looked at this wonderful freckled boy, “To think that this day would come…”

This day that everything settles. This day that he finally realizes.

He could not help but grin as his heart screamed at him. He let out a breath as he blew off the steam he was feeling up in his brain, “When did you become so cool? You’re actually cool.”
He has definitely fallen for Yamaguchi Tadashi.


 

 

Tsukishima is in the bathroom, again. The Shiratorizawa match is done. Karasuno won, but Tsukishima did not feel like he won as he puked more Peruvian lily petals down the toilet. He quickly flushed it down.

It was not bloodstained, yet.

He must still be safe. Barely alive.

All because of one Yamaguchi Tadashi. He has had that realization upon seeing the tiny dark spots on the flower petals he was puking, akin with a certain somebody’s freckles.

Kei had a lot of things going on than he let on. As if he will ever let it all show, though, he thought as he wiped his mouth.

The bathroom door burst open, and the one person he was thinking about, the one person who caused this pain in his chest, showed himself. Kei felt like puking all over again.

Yamaguchi looks like he was about to rip away Kei’s ears with his mouth. In other cases, Kei would have liked that feeling.

“Tsukki, the awards ceremony is starting.”

Do not puke, Kei. Do not puke. He stared at the sink as if it was the most interesting thing in the world.

Of course, Yamaguchi had to notice.

“Is something wrong?”

Think about the game. The feeling of being overwhelmed by Ushijima Wakatoshi, and not by these damn petals that kept on clogging up his throat.

“I said I would stop a handful of his spikes,” is the only thing Tsukishima was able to say. Well, to be fair, he really said that, and he really felt like the most lame being in the entire volleyball history. He continued, “but I was only able to stop one even though there were five sets. Talk about lame--”

“THERE IS NO WAY YOU WERE LAME. ARE YOU STUPID?”
“Stupid--”

“This isn’t the time to be down. We’re going to Nationals! But before that, the awards ceremony!”

Yamaguchi closed the bathroom door with a bang. Tsukishima finally let go of his breath, only to hurl onto the toilet.

More petals. How nice. Tsukishima wiped his mouth. He needs to go back out there. Tsukishima cursed, took the pills from his pocket and popped three pills in his mouth and tearfully swallowed.

After a few moments of trying to gain back his breath, he went back to his team.

Seeing Yamaguchi, bowing beside Yamaguchi, receiving medals beside Yamaguchi, made him want to puke all over the gym floor, in front of everyone.

He took a deep breath and pushed back his eyeglasses.

After the whole ceremony, he quickly declared how tired he is and proceeded to the bus before everyone else. He chose the farthest window seat, where the team usually puts their extra bags and other things the team brings, like a cooler and a box of towels. That should do for now, for Tsukishima, at least. Of course Yamaguchi’s body heat beside him as he slept on Tsukishima’s shoulder would always be a magnificent experience, but it just could not be. His mouth would be a petal factory if that were to happen.

He put on his jacket and his headphones on.

It took the rest of the team ten minutes before joining Tsukishima inside the bus. He caught Yamaguchi staring at his taken position for a good three seconds before he looked down, and chose a seat near the front. True to what Tsukishima had thought, Kiyoko and Yachi placed the boxes and the cooler beside him.

“Tsukishima-san, are you sure you want to stay there?” Asked Yachi as she fixed the water bottles inside the cooler.

“Of course, I wouldn’t be here if I wanted otherwise.”

The girl blushed, “Right. I’m just wondering why you wouldn’t sit with Yamaguchi-kun like you always do.”

Tsukishima sighed. It’s because I would die loving him if I do. What he said to Yachi, though, was, “I am tired and sweaty. I didn’t want to bother Yamaguchi with it.”

“Alright,” Yachi nodded. “Can I sit with him?”

Tsukishima looked at Yachi’s deepening blush. Is that what he thinks it is? Is that a crush? On his Yamaguchi Tadashi?

Kei, you’re going to die anyway.

So, Tsukishima only rolled his eyes and turned up the volume of his music. “Do whatever you want. I am not his keeper,” was what he said to the blushing girl.

 


 

They were celebrating their victory at Izakaya Osuwari when Coach Ukai and everyone else glared disconcerted from the four players that literally have fallen asleep after eating. He muttered “I’m pretty sure I recently saw my relative’s one-year old do the same thing” before he began to reprimand them, “You guys need to decide whether you are going to eat or sleep!”

Karasuno’s drunk adviser, Takeda sobbed, “Ukai-kun, I’m… sho happwy!”

“Sensei, your face is a mess…And that’s the eight time you said that.”

Yamaguchi’s laughed at the commotion and Tsukishima swore that his heart skipped a beat watching Tadashi beamed like the stars in the sky. He looked away, focusing his thoughts on his meal while Yamaguchi conversed with Sugawara. Tsukishima was pretty sure that he would vomit not only petals but all he has eaten if he continues to stare at Yamaguchi, and honestly he was so exhausted that Tsukishima doubts he could handle to vomit everything. He gagged, trying to stop his urge from barfing.

He is so madly in love with Tadashi, and his face was starting to heat up.

“Tsukki! Are you alright?” Yamaguchi’s expression softened, concerned. Hearing that nickname was music to his ears. Tsukkiyama wonders how many more times he could possibly hear it before he dies? He’s not sure, but he will definitely savor every moment of it.

Tsukkiyama is an expert of blocking and deflecting his real emotions by being an asshole in the surface.

“Tch. Of course, I’m alright. Why wouldn’t I be?” He scoffed.

But Yamaguchi is a Tsukki expert, no matter how much Tsukishima successfully hide his emotions from everyone else, he simply cannot escape from Yamaguchi.

“But Tsukki, if you’re not feeling well you should get some rest!”

“Tch. You’re annoying, Yamaguchi”

“Sorry Tsukki!”

Tsukishima was not really annoyed, in fact he’s actually touched and if anything, it makes him fall for Tadashi more and more. It stings that he has to push Yamaguchi away but if he allows him to be fully concerned with Tsukishima, he was certain his illness will be revealed to the whole team in an instant. And he was not ready for that, not now at least. At least he has to manage until the tournament in the nationals. He doesn’t want to die without being able to play with Yamaguchi in a tournament once more.

Just a few more. Just a few more games with him.

“It’s just you look paler, and your injury. Make sure you get some rest later, hmm Tsukki?”

Tsukishima felt the heat rushing through his cheeks. Everytime Yamaguchi shows his care for him, he gets embarrassed and flustered as the beat of his heart will speed up. Yamaguchi was worried for him and Tsukishima found it so endearing how he would naturally care for people. Shy and timid as Yamaguchi Tadashi is, he is tougher than he looks. Back then, he remembered how Yamaguchi would used to flinch or crumble whenever someone would raise his voice and lash out on him. But Yamaguchi grew to be someone with nerves and willpower made of steel, that pushed him to work harder than anyone else so that he could be useful in the court. And for the sensitive Yamaguchi to be able to handle Tsukishima’s occasional hurtful remarks without faze, for Tsukishima, these things make him fall for Yamaguchi Tadashi more and more.

Was there ever a chance that Yamaguchi will love him back? He almost laughed out loud with how impossible that would be to happen. No matter how and which angle he looks at it, there is not a single redeeming quality in him that would make Yamaguchi fall for him back. He does not want to lose this precious friendship he has with Yamaguchi. Until the day dinosaurs would be resurrected, Tsukishim will never dare confess to Yamaguchi.

Moreover, Tsukishima Kei is a certified asshole. He must keep it this way in order to grasp whatever that’s left and remaining between him and Yamaguchi.

“Shut up, Yamaguchi”

It was Tsukishima’s greatest mistake for the day to allow himself to glance at Yamaguchi. His head tilted a bit, while his left arm was at the back of his head. He was smiling earnestly at Tsukishima, his eyes crinkled in amusement, before he heard the sweetness of his tone which sets his heart on fire and shivers on his spine.

“Sorry, Tsukki”

Yup. Tsukishima is a greedy asshole that just needs more of Yamaguchi.

His insides twisted, his stomach lurched threatening to cause a scene and throw up together with some petals of Peruvian Lilies in front of the team. No he can’t be exposed. Never.

Tsukishima abruptly stood up which surprised everyone. He sneered, “Bathroom” before he walked out and rushed to the bathroom.

“Ah, Tsukki!” Out of instinct, Yamaguchi jumped to his feet, ready to follow him.

“Don’t worry about him,” Suga said, patting Yamaguchi on the shoulder, “It’s Tsukishima, I’m sure he can handle himself.”

Tsukishima quickly removed his glasses before retching to his stomach’s content. He coughed midway, and green petals started to rush out from his mouth carelessly. The petals were the same shade of green as his hair. He smiled fondly, as he noticed the freckled spots surrounding the petals.

Peruvian Lilies.

Breathlessly beautiful, just like Yamaguchi Tadashi.

Tsukishima sighed, his loving expression changed to immediate irritation upon realizing how he made a fool of himself in front of everyone by leaving awkwardly. Having the Hanahaki disease, albeit temporarily, was a common experience for the members of the Karasuno Men’s Volleyball Team who were sickeningly gay for each other. Although unlike Tsukishima, they were lucky for their feelings to be requited. He’s pretty sure that he will be the first to die in the team out of unrequited love and this stupid disease.

He should have thought about things carefully. What if people begin to realize his constant bathroom breaks? Tsukishima needs to regulate his bathroom breaks or else they would notice it easily. He left in such a rush that Tsukishima is unsure if he left for the bathroom without any piece of evidence. What if they noticed a stray petal on his chair or on the floor? He is so screwed. If he does not want to get caught he should plan things carefully.

The logical part of his brain knows that planning how to hide this disease is way more difficult than just going for the surgery. Tsukishima needs to be mindful of his actions that will be suspicious for the team. He knows that in order to survive longer, Tsukishima needs to stop thinking about Yamaguchi frequently. In order to stay alive, Tsukishima knows that he needs to stop having feelings for Yamaguchi. That he needs to stop loving Yamaguchi.

 

“Tsukki? What would you do if you got the Hanahaki disease?”

“Tch. So annoying, Yamaguchi.”

“Sorry, Tsukki. But can you answer me, please?”

“I’m not like those idiots,” He started to think about the craziness of his first year in Karasuno and how it was one member after another getting sick with the Hanahaki. “I’m not going to waste my time on such trivial things and risk my life for love.”

 

Funny how the tables have turned. He is DEFINITELY an idiot. The biggest one of all.

 

He must get the surgery to remove the roots growing in his lungs. If it was anyone else, Tsukishima would have done it. But this is Yamaguchi we’re talking about. Removing the plant growing inside him means that he needs to remove the roots of his love. If he does, that means he would lose his feelings. He would completely forget about Yamaguchi. He almost shuddered at that thought. Yamaguchi was at his side ever since they were young, and ever since, being with Yamaguchi was as natural for Tsukishima as breathing. It all felt right.

So how could he? How could he ever allow himself to forget Yamaguchi Tadashi? How could he ever stop loving him.

No. Forgetting about him is clearly never an option.

So he must do what he does best.

He left the bathroom. Tsukishima’s expression was unreadable as he calmfully got his bag.

“Ah, Tsukki? Leaving already?” Yamaguchi stared at him, completely worried for him.

“I don’t feel well. Like you said, I should rest.” He replied monotonously.

“Lets go home together then, Tsukki”

“There’s no need for that.”

“Ah, b-but Tsukki” Yamaguchi stammered.

“It’s okay, Yamaguchi” He smiled. It’s okay that you don’t love me back.

“O-okay, Tsukki. Get some rest, hmm?”

“Alright,” Coach Ukai said, “Get some rest first. Make sure you’re ready for training for the nationals in a few days.”

Tsukishima walked out of Izakaya Osuwari. He laughed at himself for being such an idiot. If there was anything Tsukishima knows he is really good at it’s probably just one thing.

It’s running away.

Chapter Text

NOVEMBER

 

Tsukishima Kei watched as the green-haired male excused himself from practice for the fifth time, favoring going to the bathroom. Yamaguchi claimed it was still his stomach bug. Did the boy contracted some form of stomach infection? Kei needs to pay a visit to his old friend Google for answers. Probably going to use the keywords ‘month-long stomach bug’ or maybe ‘long-term stomach illnesses’. Kei prayed there would not be any search results for cancer or any kind of illness Kei wished to not think about.

Before all that paranoia would cause him to have another coughing fit, Kei wished to find an answer to a more personal matter. He opens his messaging app and types in a message.

How does one suppress Hanahaki?

He pressed send. The whole team is waiting for Yamaguchi’s return before resuming practice. Kageyama and Hinata started whispering on the side of the court, which Kei found very confusing and weird at the same time. They were never quiet people, but they seemed to be calmly talking in a very low voice. Kei hoped that would happen all the time, but he knew he could not live with that kind of abnormality in his life. Kei internally groaned. His phone pinged with an incoming message.

That’s the thing, Tsukishima-san. I do not think you can ever totally suppress Hanahaki.

Kei internally groaned, again.

Another message appeared in his screen. Your pills could only do so much.

Kei quickly typed up a reply. How did you know I have it?

The message came in instantly. Why else would you care enough to ask me, then?

Thank you, Akaashi-san. Kei sent his reply to the Fukurodani setter and closed his phone. He knew that he could not keep the petals down forever, but knowing that someone could survive it, someone overcame the disease, hearing from that person validated things for Kei.

For one, it cemented the fact that he, indeed, is going to die soon. Second, he finally realized that there would be no way he was going to go for the other option. He mostly would not want to have that kind of hassle. Another reason though, plagued his chest for a few days now: that he would wish to die before wanting to forget the boy with the galaxy imprinted on his skin.

He would have to give up playing volleyball for that, too. Oh, well.

He itched to send Akaashi a few more text messages, but then one Yamaguchi Tadashi entered the gym. He looked like he battled a velociraptor inside the bathroom. His cowlick sticks up like an antennae. Kei thinks its probably a real antennae, drawing and pulling him in with weird signals and vibrations, making him feel out-of-this-world things in his chest. The insides of his throat began to itch.

Kei should really lessen the documentaries on conspiracy theories next weekend.

Nonetheless, Yamaguchi noticed his stare. The shorter boy froze for a fraction of a second before going back to his side of the court where Noya waits for his serves. Nishinoya Yuu, another proud survivor of the garden plague known as Hanahaki. Most of his team were survivors. Most of his team almost died, and Kei is almost dead.

At least they were loved back, thought Kei. He would never dream in a million light years that his little freckled star would even return back the emotions that served as a seed for the stupid plant growing inside his lungs.

 


 

 

The next day was the same, until it was not. Kei finally could not hold down his groan. He groaned, loudly, on the phone. He just got home after practice when he suddenly got a call from Akaashi-san.

He thought it was actually Akaashi. He thought it was ONLY Akaashi.

Kei was dead wrong.

“HEY HEY HEY MEGANE-KUN” was going on for a few seconds like a second ringtone. Kei groaned, again.

He pinched the bridge of his nose as he put the group of idiots on speaker, “You seem pretty happy today, Bokuto-san.”

“Everyday is a happy day with Akaashi around,” Bokuto replied. Kei wanted to gag, but he was reminded how both men almost died because of the same thing that is killing him right now. He has gained some next level kind of respect for the two of them, for surviving.

Another voice got through the phone. Kei fought the urge to end the call. He could already imagine Kuroo’s cheshire cat grin.

“Oya?” Kuroo said, “What is this? Our little baby birb asking for help?”

“I’m not on the line for you, Kuroo-san.”

“Hey, hey, do not be like that. I survived the thing.”

“No, you did not. It was Kenma-san who had it, not you. I respect him for that, and for being with you.”

“Oh, you wound me, Tsukki.”

Kei sighed.

“So,” Kuroo continued. “You’re afraid of the freckled one. What? Is he out to kill you with soggy fries?”

He could hear Bokuto laugh.

“No,” was Kei’s curt reply.

“So why not tell the boy how you feel so the petals disappear?”

“That’s…” Kei could not believe what Kuroo was trying to say. “That’s not that simple, Kuroo-san, and you know it.”

“Do I? To me, that’s how it is. Do you know you could contract the disease if you simply failed to believe that the one you love will never love you in return? When unknowingly, they actually do? I, for one, could not believe that Yamaguchi Tadashi would not reciprocate anything that you ever felt for the boy.”

Kei was silent. Kuroo seemed to be onto something, but not quite. He did not know Yamaguchi like Kei does. Kuroo does not know the depth of Kei’s coldness and maltreatment he strongly feels he did to Yamaguchi. He was not even a good friend to him. He barely could express anything to the freckled boy, even until his chest tightened and he started to cough up flowers. Kei could not connect to him, not like how he could connect the ball. Volleyball seemed to be so much easier than any of this.

“What’s the point, anyway?” Kei smirked while he carefully adjusted his glasses, “It’s not like there’s any possibility he will like me back.”

Kei pulled the phone farther from him while Bokuto’s voice boomed from the speaker, “Hey, hey, hey! Megane-kun, I know you’re an idiot, and a self-deprecating coward--”

Kei flinched at the insults Bokuto threw at him. His eyes twitched, Tsukishima hates it when someone insults him better than he does to himself. Before Kei was able to retort something more insulting, Bokuto started laughing.

“But, I thought the exact same thing too, you know? I thought that it was impossible for Akaashi to like me back. If only I have been honest with Akaashi from the start, he wouldn’t have almost died.”

“We,” Akaashi’s corrected, “You nearly died too that day, Bokuto-san.”

“Yeah, well” Bokuto started, a tone of embarrassment can be heard from the other line. “To be honest, looking back at it, I was annoying and stupid. We could have saved ourselves from the big mess of driving ourselves close to death if only I had immediately confessed and let Akaashi know how I felt for him.”

The sound of Bokuto’s laughter echoed through the other line. Kei has never been confused how he could literally just laugh about their near-death experience with that stupid Hanahaki disease.    

“Tsukishima-kun. There are times when we only see what we want to see and not the real situation in front of us.” Kei winced how in an instant the hyper Bokuto’s turned serious. “It doesn’t matter what YOU THINK Yamaguchi feels about you. What matters is how he truly feels about you. You will never know that unless you start becoming honest with him and let your feelings out in the open. Everyone with the Hanahaki disease fears the rejection that they expect to happen after they finally let everything out on the table. That’s understandable. But the relief you will feel after finally confronting your love for Yamaguchi. That is everything, Tsukishima-kun.”

Akaashi’s voice took over, “Tsukishima-san, we need to go. We have a practice match going. The only thing I could say is that… the worst thing that could happen to you is death. You’re already on your way there. What else is there to lose? Just don’t be stupid like us.”

The line went off as Kei’s mind went off as well. He is certain that he cannot hide his disease any longer, soon someone will catch him coughing up some petals.Sure, he wants to be relieved from his heavy heart from hiding this big secret unrequited love for Yamaguchi. But in all honesty, Kei doesn’t give a shit about his own comfort. He doesn’t care if his heart gets broken. He only cares about Yamaguchi Tadashi.  Kei would never hesitate to tear his heart to a million pieces if it will ensure Tadashi’s happiness.

So the real question is, does he really need to tell Yamaguchi? Does he really need to know?

Kei imagined the look that must be on his best friend’s face when he gets the news that Kei suddenly died of the Hanahaki disease. He would be crushed. Even if Kei manages to hide his disease and decided never to confess to him until his death, Yamaguchi will find a reason to blame it on himself, as he usually does. Kei knows this much.

So, that would be it. Kei will have to tell him, but when?

How?

“Alright, alright! Break time’s over,” Daichi commanded, “We don’t have time to slack off for the Nationals. Lets go with a practice match!”

“HAI!” Everyone shouted back at their captain while running to their assigned sides of the court. Tsukishima went to his side of the court jogging alongside with Yamaguchi. He looked at the freckled boy. Tadashi does not look healthy right now. There were deeper bags around Yamaguchi’s eyes, as if he has been barely sleeping. Kei was certain that Tadashi has grown thinner and paler in the past few days. It’s also as if that Yamaguchi Tadashi lost his stamina for already panting from the slow jog to the court. What’s been happening to Tadashi for him to look this exhausted? Kei wondered. His thoughts were cut off as Tadashi immediately caught Kei who staring at him with great intensity.

“Oh, is there something wrong, Tsukki?”

Flustered at the boy looking at him with deep concern, Kei began throwing a coughing fit. Shit. He is so screwed.

“Tsukki! Are you, alright?”

Yamaguchi was always concerned for him. Kei can clearly see it the concern in Tadashi’s eyes. Maybe. His thoughts began to wander.  There’s some hope that Tadashi will like him back.  

“Yeah. I’m fine, it’s just a cold.” He replied back quickly, trying to hide the anxiety boiling inside him. He needed to redirect the topic or else Kei will be caught with the disease in the middle of the match. “What about you? Your stomach bug has been bothering you longer than usual. Shouldn’t you get checked?”

Yamaguchi jumped from Kei’s question as if he was caught committing a crime, laughing nervously. “Ah! Tsukki! No! Don’t worry about it! It’s just normal. You know that I always have a sensitive stomach, right Tsukki?”

Still. Kei thought. It could be something serious. In this moment, Tsukishima Kei wanted to voice out his worry and concern for the Yamaguchi Tadashi beside him. He was about to open his mouth. Kei wanted to point out how distressing for him it is to watch Tadashi eating less than usual, going for his frequent bathroom breaks and come back to the practices like a mess afterwards. Kei wants to express how troubling it is to see Tadashi always looking so exhausted.

It bothers the hell out of Tsukishima Kei, and honestly, he wants Yamaguchi to know that seeing him sick is driving Kei insane. Instead, Kei found himself scoffing, “Tch. Fine. It’s starting to become bothersome, so you should watch over your health, Yamaguchi.”

No. This is not how he wants to say this.

His insides laughed. He is completely certain that Yamaguchi Tadashi knows better than to love someone as cruel as Tsukishima Kei.

The practice finished without much fuss, but Kei noticed how slow Yamaguchi’s reaction time have gotten. His jump floaters were still effective, but he looked like he could barely breathe. Sugawara went over to Yamaguchi immediately after practice to give him some kind of medicine for whatever ails the freckled boy. Not that Kei’s watching every little thing Yamaguchi does, of course.

Kei felt the surge of petals come up his throat. He pressed his palm on his chest at the pain. He took a deep breath, in and then out, in and then out. He took one glance at Yamaguchi, and Kei wanted to collapse.

He shakily took his bags when Takeda-sensei entered the gym with a big grin on his face. He pointed at Kei.

What is it, now?

“Tsukishima! You’re invited to the training camp at Shiratorizawa Academy!”

The first thing he thought was the fact that he would not see Yamaguchi for a few days, which would be a wee bit healthy for his Hanahaki. The second thing was the fact that he would not see Yamaguchi for a few days. How would his body react to such a stimuli, or its lack thereof?

He subtly shoots a text message about it to Akaashi-san.

Kei nodded to Takeda-sensei while the gym goes wild with cheers and jumping around him, especially with one Hinata and one Nishinoya.

“We’re so excited for you, Tsukishima-san!” Greeted Daichi, ever the supportive father of the team.

“Thanks,” Kei nodded at his captain, and barely acknowledged the others who came to him to congratulate him.

What made him concerned was that Yamaguchi was not there in the group. He was usually the first one to come to him when these kinds of things happen to Kei. He would be the main guy to congratulate and cheer for him at whatever he may do or whatever ‘achievement’ he gets. Instead, Yamaguchi was nowhere to be found.

Sugawara must have noticed how his eyes scanned the gym for him as the vice-captain gave him a knowing grin, “If you were trying to find Yamaguchi, I saw him sneaking to the bathroom.”

“Again?” Kei could not help himself.

“He must really feel terrible, poor guy. It’s amazing dedication that he still kept on going to practices without fail though. I am proud of him,” replied Suga, looking at the direction which Yamaguchi went.

Before Kei’s thoughts could think about the freckled boy, he suddenly found himself flinching, his glasses askew as he felt Suga’s hand hitting his head. It is the habit of Sugawara to express his affection by hitting or punching them. “Congratulations, Tsukishima-kun! Make sure you don’t slack off during the training there, alright?”

After the wave of excitement died down, and Takeda and Ukai finished giving him tips on what to focus on during the training camp, he headed out the gym.

“Tsukki!”

Ah, there it is.

“Yamaguchi,” he turned around and waited for the smaller boy. “If you really don’t feel well then don’t go to practice anymore.”

Yamaguchi smiled, “Are you that worried about me, Tsukki?”

Knowing that his cheeks began to heat up, Kei had to look away and push his glasses up in order to avoid being caught embarassed, “Shut up, Yamaguchi. How annoying”

“Sorry, Tsukki. Anyway, I will consider that, okay?”

Before Kei could muster up a reply, his phone rang. He did not want to answer, but he knew he had to. He tapped the answer button, “Hello, Kuroo-san.”

“Tsukishima! I heard from Akaashi.”

“Of course you did,” deadpanned Tsukishima. He looked over at Yamaguchi, who seemed to look away but they did not stop walking side by side.

“I just called to say that they asked me to watch over you while we go through the remainder of the period.”

“Watch over me?” Kei chuckled, “Are you out to baby me, Kuroo-san?”

“No, no, nothing like that. This is a serious matter. Life and death, Tsukishima. We just wish for you to not die, you know. What a waste of a middle blocker.”

“If you only cared about that, Kuroo-san, I would really hang up on you.”

There was laughter on the other side, “If we only cared about that we would not be having this conversation in the first place.”

Yamaguchi started to play with the hem of his shirt, showing a bit of his tanned skin. Kei coughed, “Alright, Kuroo-san, I am in your care.”

“OYA! That’s better, kid. You should listen to me. Of course everything that I would be saying to you will be consulted with my kitten--” Kei wanted to gag at that “--and maybe Akaashi. So, don’t worry. You’re in good hands!”

With that, Kuroo ended the call. Kei rolled his eyes, but it was kind of nice to have people who you can count on with the hell he was going through. Yamaguchi looked at him, “Must be nice, you know, for you to have someone as dependable as Kuroo-san.”

“It’s nothing special,” Kei replied, choosing his words carefully.

Yamaguchi’s expression shifted into something Kei had never seen before. It was mostly a mix of indigestion and pain. He fought it, and smiled at Kei, “So, why don’t you tell him, then?”

“Tell him what?”

“You know, it would be so much easier for you.”

“Tell him what, Yamaguchi?”

“Your Hanahaki,” Yamaguchi looked down at his hands.

Kei could not breathe. His stomach churned, his palms began to sweat. So, Tadashi knew since the day of the Shiratorizawa match. There would not be another way he could find out. He must have caught sight of petals somewhere. Kei really did a number on the bathroom that time, he must admit. There would not be any surprise that Yamaguchi eventually knew all about it, except for the fact that it was because of him.

Hence, this conversation.

“Kuroo-san already knows,” Kei replied, fiddling with the earphone jack inside his pocket.

“Oh,” Yamaguchi’s shoulders slumped. “I mean, that he’s the reason why.”

No. No he’s not. Kei thought. You got it all wrong. It’s for you. Not for him. His heart started thumping. He knows that he should come clean to Yamaguchi right now, admit the truth to him. But how? This is not how he envisioned to do this. It doesn’t feel right. Why now? Kei was definitely not ready for this. His mind was going on in circles, as the anxiety and panic sets on his nerves. He stiffened and before Kei could form a proper reply to his beloved, he found himself speaking with so much spite his voice.

“Shut up, Yamaguchi.”

He is not ready for the truth to come out, not yet. Maybe after the training camp. Yamaguchi looked at him, eyebags and all, huge worry painted across his face, “But Tsukki, your Hanahaki, it’ll get worse if you don’t! It is important--”

“JUST SHUT UP, YAMAGUCHI. You’re… you’re not involved in this. It’s my problem, not yours. I should be the one handling all this. You stay out of it. Don’t care.”

“Fine, Tsukki. I’m just about tired caring anyway,” Yamaguchi walked ahead, but not before Kei caught a glimpse of tears leaking out of his eyes.

Yes, Tsukishima Kei is a cruel guy indeed.

 


 

 

The tears in the eyes of Yamaguchi Tadashi blurred his vision. He continued to walk towards… where? He did not care, as long as it is away from Tsukishima Kei. He hated him at that moment. He hates that it was really Kuroo, he hates that he does not want Yamaguchi to do anything about it.

Kei is dying, just like him. If he failed to tell him earlier, he would experience the same sick pain he was experiencing right now. He would not be able to sleep, barfing and puking flower petals all night long. Crying and sobbing about a love never returned.

He did not know where he had gone until he saw the familiar front of Sakanoshita Store. Maybe Coach Ukai would be there. Tears flowed hotly down his cheeks, he knew he needed help immediately. He does not know what would happen to him now.

He may not last longer than a week at this point.

He walked over to the store when its doors opened. Yamaguchi was so relieved to see the faces of the people who went out and ran up to him, worry etched on their faces. Yamaguchi hugged them tight, still sobbing. Sugawara and Daichi hugged him back just as fiercely.

“Did something happened with Tsukishima? Did you tell him?”

Yamaguchi shook his head, “I didn’t… get the chance to… but I knew, Suga-san, that he also had it.”

“No wonder he’s been suspiciously going to the bathroom frequently than before” Daichi cursed, “We cannot afford this, not when he has training camp and the upcoming Nationals. Did he tell you something?”

“He didn’t… but he also refused to tell Kuroo-san that he is the reason why Kei has it.”

Sugawara and Daichi looked at each other, then back to Yamaguchi who was still sobbing in their arms. “You sure it’s really Kuroo? Did he tell you that, at least?”

During the training camp, Tsukki and the Nekoma captain grew to be close together with the Fukurodani captain, Bokuto, and their setter, Akaashi. After the practice matches,Tsukki spent most of his free time practicing with them. Soon, Kuroo became so comfortable with Tsukki, to the point that Tsukki allows himself to be teased by the cheeky captain. While Tadashi on the other hand, gets the usual “Shut up, Yamaguchi” response from Tsukki.

Tadashi knows that he was being jealous of the captain. How can he not? Tadashi is a very dull,boring, and ordinary guy compared to Kuroo. Kuroo is a skilled and better volleyball player than Tadashi. He possessed striking features that anyone couldn’t deny that the Nekoma captain is really handsome, while Tadashi looks plain, and gosh, his freckles are completely unattractive. Also, Kuroo has a natural charisma, intelligence and wit, who could easily keep up with Tsukki’s remarks. The Nekoma captain is Tsukki’s equal, no doubt about that. What’s worse, Tadashi was certain that Tsukki and Kuroo would look like a cute couple, honestly.

Yamaguchi broke away and wiped his tears away, “No, nothing like that, but he has been calling and contacting him so much recently that I could not help but think that he would be the reason why.”

“Okay,” Sugawara said, offering Yamaguchi a comforting smile. “Let’s say that’s true. What are you going to do? Would the team lose you permanently, Yamaguchi?”

Yamaguchi was taken aback by that question. Now that it is more or less cemented that Tsukishima Kei does not bear any feelings for him, what would be his next move?

The tears began anew, “I think… Sugawara-san… Daichi-san… the team would have to go on without their number twelve.”

He was then enveloped by a pair of strong arms. His captain was hugging him and patting his back, “That’s okay, Yamaguchi. You have my permission. Just promise us that you’ll allow us to be there when it happens.”

Yamaguchi broke away, “Thank you, Daichi-san, but why?”

“Why what?”

“Why did you let me go so easily?”

Sugawara grinned at him, while throwing some punches on Daichi who cringed every time a hit landed on his side. “That’s because Daichi here have wanted to do the same, when he was in your place. He was ever so ready to die and leave the team, ready to pass it on to Chikara after he was gone. Love really makes us idiots, eh?”

Daichi draped an arm on Sugawara’s waist, eyeing him as he grumbled, “It’s not like you did not want the same. You even tried to entrust me to Asahi, you seriously think that scaredy manchild would be able to take care of me when he sucks at taking care of himself?”

“Well, like I said, love really makes us idiots.” Suga laughed lightheartedly

Yamaguchi watched the two of them, a smile making its way through his face. This is a couple who went through the same ordeal, almost died, but survived it against all odds.

Tadashi’s heart aches. He was trembling. Tadashi  could only wish that maybe, just maybe, he and Tsukki would be the same as them. Tadashi begged to the heavens that Tsukki and him would be just like the same case with his teammates. Too bad it was not the case this time. The team is losing him and he had nowhere else to go.

“Yamaguchi-kun, we’re here for you, alright?” Suga said, his voice soothing and comforting for the distressed Tadashi. He held his hand, looking at him earnestly “We won’t let you go through this alone. You got that?”

Yamaguchi nodded, his breathing was now beginning to return to its normal pace.  

“What made you think that it’s Kuroo?” Daichi asked, while unconsciously rubbing the back of his own neck,  “When Suga found out that I had the disease and confronted me he assumed it was for Michimiya, and well, we also had a fight about it.”

“You can’t be really sure that Tsukishima has it for Kuroo” Suga added, “unless he confirmed it, Yamaguchi.”

Tadashi knew that Tsukki was never good at confrontations. Although he also understood that despite Tsukki being a guy with few words, he loathes misunderstandings, and miscommunications caused by half-truths.  After his experience with his older brother, Akiteru, who did not disclose the fact that he did not end up being a regular player anymore despite how his brother gave his all, Tsukki grew to be blunt yet meticulous when communicating with other people. Tsukki would rather hurt people than hide the truth. Tadashi was certain that Tsukki is not the type who would keep the truth from him.

“Tsukki, didn’t deny it.” Tadashi muttered. “Knowing how he is, if it’s not for Kuroo, he would have denied it right then and there.”




 

 

Yamaguchi Tadashi prides himself in two things. One is that he knows Tsukishima Kei the best.

Years of being friends with his Tsukki gave Tadashi all the time needed to know more about him. He learns that Tsukki is one hell of a dinosaur nerd. When he visited Tsukki’s house, he saw how Tsukki owns a collection of dinosaur stuff toys and books, and honestly he loved how the tall guy would ramble excitedly about how Tyrannosaurus Rex, Velociraptor, Gallimimus, Triceratops, and all other dinosaurs in the film Jurassic Park other than the Brachiosaurus, did not actually live during the Jurassic Period, but in the late Cretaceous Period. And Tadashi would laugh every time he remembers Tsukki blurting out  to him, completely serious “Jurassic Park is a lie, Tadashi.”

God. He is so adorable.

Tadashi knows that Tsukki loves his strawberry shortcake. No matter how much Tsukki keeps his stoic demeanor, there is always a glimmer in his eyes everytime he is given a slice of his favorite cake. How Tsukki would start taking small bites of the slice trying to keep his manners intact, but it would always end up Tsukki finishing the cake within 5 bites, in just a minute.

Tadashi also knows that every time Tsukki tells him to shut up or that he’s annoying, it’s not because Tsukki is actually annoyed. He is usually just caught off-guard and he does not know how to actually react. In other words, Tsukki is just embarrassed.

Throughout the years, Tadashed learned the subtle differences in Tsukki’s expression and demeanor. In an instant Tadashi could figure out if Tsukki is actually pissed, excited, or melancholic. Years of being his friend also made Tadashi realize that Tsukishima Kei is one big, tall, horrible liar. Tsukki has always been as dense as a brick and he has the self-awareness of a grape which made Tsukki literally horrible on hiding things about himself. He knows how Kei becomes excessively awkward and tense whenever he was trying to hide something. This is why Tadashi caught on immediately on how odd he started acting.

It started during the summer camp in Tokyo, when Tsukki started to have coughing fits out of nowhere. At first Tadashi thought it was just a normal cough and cold that Tsukki got. But as training went on Tadashi’s concern grew as he noticed the frequency of Tsukki’s coughs began to increase.

“Tsukki! Your cough is getting bad. Are you alright?”

He could have sworn that Tsukki nearly jumped at the question, as if he was caught red-handed. “Shut up Yamaguchi.”

“Sorry Tsukki! Just take care, alright?”

“Tch. So annoying.”

 He watched as Tsukki pushed his glasses towards his nose bridge while he walked to the court to finish the set. How Tsukki’s movements were stiff, his reactions and timing were slow, like his mind was preoccupied. In times when a cough escapes Tsukki’s lips, he noticed how the guy would automatically stiffen and his eyes would glance around everyone as if Tsukki was watching if people noticed him.

Of course Tadashi would notice it, but he’s not going to let Tsukki know that.

Tsukki was constantly on the edge and extremely self-conscious, and it was painfully obvious on Tadashi. And honestly it was getting on his nerves.  Each time he expresses his concern regarding his coughs, he noted how Tsukishima would turn tense and automatically brush off his concerns by telling Yamaguchi to shut up or that he is being annoying. Tsukki developed a habit of pursing his lips, or gritting his teeth, uttering “Tch” expressing his complete annoyance with that cough. That was when Yamaguchi realized that Tsukki was attempting to suppress his coughs.  

But why? There’s nothing wrong with coughing per se. But why does Tsukki need to suppress the coughs?

Then it suddenly hits him.

Remember, Yamaguchi Tadashi prides himself in two things. One is that he knows Tsukishima Kei the best.

Two, is that he, Yamaguchi Tadashi, is an expert detecting people with the Hanahaki disease.

Of course he could, years worth of suppressing his own case of disease made him keen on noticing the symptoms on everyone else, developing an accurate radar for it.  But is it really possible? Tsukki having the Hanahaki disease? Tadashi could confront him about it, or he could just check on him during the times he goes to the bathroom. Tadashi shook his head in disapproval with the progression of his thoughts. No. That will be invasive. Tadashi knows better than to cross Tsukki’s personal space. Besides, it is not like Tsukki is the type who will develop feelings for just about anyone. But if he did, well surely Tadashi’s heart will break, so he better brace himself just in case.

It was after the match with Shiratorizawa that Tadashis suspicions were confirmed.

Five full sets of intense, gruelling, all-out war with Shiratorizawa, they won. After all the hardwork, the constant pushing they have did to themselves to evolve, and pouring everything they have for this match, Karasuno won. They were finally going to Nationals. Everyone was overwhelmed, overjoyed. Most of them ended up shedding tears, hugging each other, laughing and jumping to their victory.

Then there’s Tsukki.

“Tsukishima!” Ukai-sensei shouted, while placing his hands on the middle blocker’s shoulder, “No matter what anyone says, you’re the MVP today.”

“I’m always the MVP, so I’ll let you have that title just for today, Tsukishima,” Tanaka said earnestly, his thumb was up with approval.  

Tsukki just stared at their coach, then to Tanaka completely and utterly perplexed by the praises. Tsukki’s gazed shifted down, and Tadashi was certain that he is not happy.  

They were all cooling down, taking a break before the awards ceremony and Tsukki was taking his sweet time in the bathroom. What’s taking him so long? He decided to finally check up on him, his heart raced as he rushed to the bathroom.

“Tsukki!” Tadashi opened the door, and then he saw Tsukishima Kei. His glasses were on the shelf, and he was washing his face. Tadashi’s heart sank when he saw it.  

Green petals on the sink.

Shit.

Yamaguchi Tadashi managed with his sheer willpower not to embrace Tsukishima Kei. He was certain that like him, Tsukki does not want to be caught with the disease. Fighting the urge to cry, Tadashi was certain that he had to confront Tsukki about this in the future. Soon. But not today. He pushed away the ache that pounded in his chest, and by some miracle he managed to keep his voice even, acting like he didn’t see any petals.

“Is there something wrong, Tsukki?”

He listened to Tsukki talk about how he failed to stop a few spikes. Always beating himself to it, Tadashi thought. But something in Tsukki’s ramble got in the nerves of Tadashi that automatically made him snap with anger .

“But I was only able to stop one even though there were five sets. Talk about lame--”

. At this point he was certain that Tsukishima Kei was calling himself lame for reasons beyond volleyball. Of course, in an instant Tadashi finds himself screaming at him.

“THERE IS NO WAY YOU WERE LAME. ARE YOU STUPID?”

Tadashi slammed the door, as fresh tears trickled down to his cheeks. Tsukishima Kei has the Hanahaki disease. He was 95 percent certain that those are not for him, but for who?  He wanted to know who was it for. Should he dare hold on to that 5 percent of uncertainty? Should he dare hope?

In an instant, he coughed bloodied moonflower petals.

It doesn’t matter. Tadashi thought. His was definitely a hopeless case to begin with, but he swore that Tsukki’s case will be different. He would do everything he can to ensure Tsukki becomes happy.  Even if it’s the last thing he would do before he dies.

 


 

 

The next days were of blurred scenes and muffled talks between various people and Tadashi. He tried and tried to strike up a conversation, even some form of reaction, from the bespectacled boy, but he failed to get it. There would be times, though, that he would caught a glimpse of Tsukishima looking at him as if the taller boy wanted to talk to him but failing to muster enough courage to do so.

If that is really the case, then they would be both failures, idiots and cowards.

“Are they okay?” Hinata ‘whispered’ to Kageyama during practice.

“You asshole, don’t just point it out. Look at everyone!” Kageyama ‘whispered’ back.

Tadashi kept himself from rolling his eyes at the freak duo. What he actually did, though, was look around at the rest of the team. Each of them looked away as his eyes swept across the gym. He also noticed how they treated Tsukishima more or less the same.

A week passed and it was time to let him go.

“Be on your best behavior!” Ennoshita reminded Tsukishima, patting him gently on the shoulder.

“Ah. That’s true. Don’t forget to actually mingle nicely , Tsukishima!” Daichi playfully said, giving Tsukishima a new pair of knee pads that would feel lighter and more flexible. They had Kiyoko order the pair especially for the occasion.

Everyone gave their tips and reminders towards the tall middle blocker, except for Yamaguchi who pretended that fixing his bag is a chore good for an hour.

He specifically waited, in his periphery, for the blond mop of hair to disappear from the gym before zipping it close.

“Yamaguchi, are you alright? You didn’t bid Tsukishima farewell today,” surprisingly, it was Nishinoya. Being a good senpai, as always.

Tadashi broke.

He looked at Nishinoya with tear-filled eyes and mouth full of petals. They fell from his lips as he then looked at Noya's gym shoes.

“Oh, no. Somebody get him suppressants!” Noya started to move away from Tadashi but he caught his senpai's shirt in time.

“Noya-senpai… There’s no need for that anymore. I couldn’t… It wouldn’t work anymore. It is all too late.” The libero crouched down to his level and hugged him. From a distance, Asahi who saw this scenario, shrieked. Completely panicking as he saw Tadashi letting out a mound full of moonflowers petals, Asahi rushes to their side.

“Did you know that he experienced the same thing?” Noya said, pushing Asahi towards Tadashi. “He almost died, and I almost did not know anything about it.”

“Y-yeah.” Asahi stuttered, who looked terrified for his teammate, “Y-you could still try to let him know how you feel Yamaguchi.”

“But, Azumane-san… You loved him. You loved Noya-senpai, and he loved you back. In my case… Tsukki does not feel that way towards me. I am afraid he likes someone else.”

Sugawara and Daichi came running to them. The petals surrounded Tadashi as if he was laying on a field of moonflowers.

Sugawara sat beside him and weeped. His vice captain is weeping for him. Tadashi could not hold the aching of his chest and the sobs that wrecked his body. Sugawara pulled him to his chest. Daichi, Noya and Asahi shed some tears of their own, looking how pale the petals were under the moonlight coming from the opened gym doors.

Yamaguchi Tadashi knew two things, as he sobbed and coughed moonflowers in Sugawara’s arms. One, that he will love Tsukishima Kei until the day he die, and two, that he would let go.

Let go and face oblivion for love, because of love.

Chapter Text

 

DECEMBER

 

“I’ve got the Hanahaki disease,” Tadashi’s voice echoed in the gym, “for Tsukki. Suppressants don’t work for me anymore.”

 

The silence hung in the air, even Ryu who never stayed quiet, was completely and utterly speechless in this very moment.  Shock clearly visible in the faces of the second years, except for Noya who stared at him with a blank expression on his face.  Asahi didn’t even look at Tadashi, who was already fighting the urge to let the tears stream down on the giant’s face. Daichi and Suga were forcing a smile, for him.  

 

“For how long?” Chikara broke the silence.

 

“Since I was eleven,” Tadashi answered, smiling fondly “it’s been five years.”

“You’ve kept it for five years?” Daichi gaped at his teammate in disbelief. “How?”  

 

Tadashi laughed, “If you started taking suppressants early onstage of the disease, and give you a lot of time. it can give you more timeI was really lucky, but I really ran out of it now. I had so much time, I relied on the suppressants for five years, but well, I guess time’s up.”

 

Everyone was gaping at him. No one uttered a sound and the silence was so heavy for Tadashi to the point he found himself completely disconcerted. He had to say something. Anything. Tadashi managed to chuckle, “Honestly guys, I was so lucky. I- I had five years!”

 

The crack in Tadashi’s voice betrayed him. Tears were uncontrollably streaming down his face. Sobs were escaping from his lips. Trembling, Tadashi attempted to focus his thoughts on making his breaths even out. But he can’t. It was all coming back to him.

 

The moment Tadashi realized he has the Hanahaki, he was torn.

 

He wanted to be free. Tadashi wanted to confess. Despite the suppressants, it was no easy task to hide his disease from Tsukki. It was a relief that Kei was naturally oblivious but the weight of the burdensome guilt for hiding something this big to his best friend overwhelmed Tadashi. He knew that Tsukki deserved to know the truth.

 

Yet Tadashi was also greedy. He knew from the beginning that this was a hopeless cause. Tsukishima Kei was so way out of his league and it was a no-brainer for him that nothing but rejection will come if he did confess to him. It is not like he possessed any features that could be considered attractive, neither was there any strong points in him. He knew that if he decided to confess so suddenly, his friendship with Tsukki will be on the line too, was he really that willing to risk it all?

Of course not.

 

If anything, Tadashi is pathetic. A wimp. A coward. And he sure is aware of that. In fact, he knows that more than anyone else. Honestly he could not even stand himself, so how could he be actually worthy to stand beside Tsukki with that state of his?

 

But, it was never an option for him to remain worthless like that for the rest of his life. He wanted to be better and he wanted to become someone deemed as Tsukki’s equal. He wanted to become someone worthy for himself, and for Tsukki.  So Yamaguchi Tadashi gave his all to do exactly that. He chased after him.

 

Tadashi focused his energy on his studies, not only does it make him happy to have a good academic standing, he also does not want to fall behind Tsukki. After all, his best friend is undeniably intelligent. Tadashi was also aware that his skills in volleyball are completely nothing compared to Tsukki. He wanted to be able to have full control over his body and fight with his all during volleyball matches, and be on the court.  So when he discovered the jump float serve, Tadashi knew it was his chance. This would be his own weapon to be able to finally become strong enough to fight with Tsukki’s side during the games.

 

Tadashi needed just a little more time. Time to perfect his serves. Time to become better, worthy. He was grateful that the suppressants were able to give him five years. Yet Tadashi was desperate. He thought that five years would be enough to catch up to him. He was dead wrong. It was all too late for him knowing that Tsukki is  in love with someone else.

 

“I-I was a coward. I’m nothing compared to him.” Tadashi wiped his tears with his arms, unable to look at his senpais as he kept on, “And I-I wanted to tell Tsukki when I have something worthy in me, s-so I chased after him. Maybe if I became stronger I would have had a bigger chance that he will accept me. But it was too late for me and I’m sorry--”

 

Tadashi’s rambles were cut off as everyone immediately went to his side and hugged him tightly.

 

“You’re not a coward, alright?” Suga said, “If anything, you’re strong.”

 

Ryu proclaimed, “Hey Yamaguchi! We’re the best senpais alright? Why don’t you go tell Tsukishima? Your senpais are great wingmen and we’ll help you put up the BEST confession for! him! We promise that!”

 

“We could help you out,” Chikara said. “Just tell us what we could do.” The second years nodded in agreement.

 

“Thank you so much and I appreciate how you all are so willing to help out.” Tadashi said, completely resigned, while forcing up a smile on his face“Thank you, but there’s nothing we could do.”, tears were still welling up in his eyes,  “But there’s nothing we could do anymore.”

 

“Oi, Yamaguchi!” Ryu’s voice resounded the gym. . Don’t you trust your senpais?” Ryu’s voice boomed in the entire gym, “We’ll get you through this! You understand?”

 

“It’s not that. I-I would have confessed to Tsukki, b-but then, I found out that he has the Hanahaki too.”

 

“WHAT?” The screams of majority of his teammates reverberated the entire room.

 

“You got to be kidding me?” Ryu said, incredulous with the revelation. “THE Tsukishima Kei? OUR Tsukishima Kei has the Hanahaki disease? Oi Yamaguchi, you sure it’s not for you?”

 

“Kuroo…” Saying his name caused Tadashi’s chest to ache. He wanted to cry again, but Tadashi has shed all the tears he could How he wished to be him. “He has it for Kuroo.”

 

“HUH?!” Ryu shouted, his eyebrows wrinkled as his mouth was gaping wide open from the shock. “Then you should get the surgery!”

 

“Then, you’re planning to take the surgery, right?” Chikara asked.

 

“No, Ennoshita-san. I’m not.”

 

“But you’re going to die..”

 

“I’d rather die than forget him for the rest of my life, Ennoshita-san. I’d rather die than forgetting how to feel at all.”

 

“We got to respect Yamaguchi’s decision,” Daichi said, patting Ryu and Chikara on the shoulders.

 

“Wait you’re not going to stop him?” Chikara puffed, anger rising in his chest “You’re saying we’re just going to let Yamaguchi die? And just accept it calmfully like it’s nothing.  Are you an idiot?”

 

“HEY!” Ryu raised his voice, standing up against him, “Don’t speak to the captain that way!”

 

“But HE IS an idiot!”

 

“This is not the time to fight” Suga stood in between the two.

 

“But we can’t just let Yamaguchi die!”

 

“I hate this situation too, Ennoshita” Daichi said, his arms crossed, “None of us want a member to die. But we got to understand Yamaguchi’s decision because remember, all of us would’ve done the exact same thing if we were in his place.” He turned to Yamaguchi, “You know this already but we’re not going to let you leave without giving your all. You will fight til the end, you understand?”

 

“Don’t forget,” Nishinoya stood up, “The team is with you til the end, okay?”

 

“Y-yes.” Yamaguchi bowed, attempting to hide the tears, “T-thank you for the amazing year, a-and for everything!”

 

Everyone finally bursted into tears as they hugged Yamaguchi.

 


 



“JUST SHUT UP, YAMAGUCHI. You’re… you’re not involved in this. It’s my problem, not yours. I should be the one handling all this. You stay out of it. Don’t care.”

 

Tsukishima Kei had those words on repeat in his head all week. That’s what he said to him. He was cruel. So, so cruel.

 

He sighed and looked back at the court where two random picked teams face each other. He was still in the damned camp at Shiratorizawa. With Hinata who tagged along with him.

 

It’s the camp’s last day and he could not wait to go back home.

 

And what? What will he do? How will he face Yamaguchi then?

 

Excessive thinking about Yamaguchi had Kei running for the nearest bathroom. Petals surged up his throat and he had to cover his mouth as he entered the bathroom. He quickly entered one of the stalls and barfed all the petals.

 

“Tsukishima? Is that you?”

 

Fuck. It’s the shrimp. Kei did not care enough to look at his surroundings. Petals kept on escaping his mouth that tears welled up in his eyes, blurring his vision. Some of the petals dropped on the floor. He knew it can be seen.

 

The petals stopped coming out. He flushed the toilet. He doesn’t know what to do about the petals that escaped. Maybe someone will clean them up eventually.

 

“Oh… Tsukishima. Will you open the door, please?”

 

Without any will to fight or be snobbish, he slowly opened the latch. Hinata looked up at him, tears on his eyes as well.

 

The orange-haired man went up to him, “I’m so sorry, Tsukishima!”

 

Kei wiped at his mouth, and the back of his palm had a bit of smeared blood. He walked past Hinata to wash it away.

 

“This is… this is for Kuroo, right?”

 

“Kuroo?”

 

“Your hanahaki. It’s for him, right? I mean, I’m basing this on what Yamaguchi believes and…”

 

“What?”

 

Hinata looked at him, confused. “What do you mean, what?”

 

“That’s what he believes?”

 

Hinata nodded, “Yes.”

 

“Holy shit, why,” Kei whispered under his breath. “Holy fuck.”

 

Kei is really incredibly stupid. This was what Yamaguchi was going on and on about. He believes Kei actually have it for Kuroo.

 

“Hinata. It’s for Yamaguchi.”

 

Hinata actually sighed in relief, “I knew it.”

 

Noticing Kei look at him with an eyebrow raised, Hinata went to his defensive stance. “Hey, Tsukishima! I’m not that dense!”

 

Then, the smaller boy’s face got serious. “You gotta tell him, Tsukishima. Fast. You started to bleed. You might not have much time.”

 

“What do you know?”

 

“I had it too. For Kageyama. I never told him, until it was almost too late. He almost died, you know, because he never believed I loved him back. And I… I didn’t know he felt like that for me too. We were idiots.”

 

“Still are,” quipped Kei.

 

“I know, I know, asshole.” Hinata frowned, “But I am being serious here. We can’t lose someone like you from the team. You’re our tallest, and a good middle blocker on top of that. Plus, I can’t lose a friend too. The team can’t. Not after almost everyone went through this already. You can’t be the one…”

 

“The one who will die,” continued Kei. “And how can you be sure about that?”

 

“Yamaguchi loves you dearly, Tsukishima. You should be able to feel that by now. Start to believe it, please. That stupid plant in your lungs will die if you just see what we all see.”

 

Kei wanted to believe him. That maybe everything will be fine. That Yamaguchi actually sees him more than as a best friend. Hinata can’t lie, he knows this.

 

But Kei’s mind is full of the fact that he was never a good friend to Yamaguchi. How can someone love him back if he was never good to them? How can anyone, much less Yamaguchi, see him as loveable when he acts like an asshole every single day? He can’t stop it either, even when he wanted it too.

 

He has become too bitter to deserve to be alive.

 


 

 

It’s been the second day after Kei went back to going to school. The first day was completely awkward. The team practiced in almost complete silence except for when Coach Ukai had to tell the team something, and the team’s seemingly half-assed response. They looked at him weirdly too. As if Kei’s existence pained them in some way.

 

Yamaguchi was absent. Kei did not ask anyone why, he kind of knew. Yamaguchi has always been sickly. He was like that for years Kei’s known him. He wanted to shoot him a text message, but opted not to.

 

He wanted to talk to him in person instead. To tell him everything. To apologize. To confess. If he ends up being rejected, he will go for an operation. It’s that simple in Kei’s head. But whenever he thinks about living without ever knowing how it feels to have his chest burst out with color when Yamaguchi smiles at him, he just can’t have that operation.

 

Then, three more days have passed. Same thing happened. Weird looks from the team. No Yamaguchi. No texts from him either.

 

Everything in Kei’s world have become silent. His hanahaki has gotten a bit worse, maybe it was because of thinking about Yamaguchi all day. His suppressants still work though, so he still have more months to live than he expected to have.

 

He caught Narita and Kinoshita talking inside the clubroom when he was about to enter, though, by the fourth day Yamaguchi’s missing in action.

 

“Do you think Tadashi’s really going to be okay? What if he…”

 

“He’s not. If ever, there’s another option for him.”

 

Kinoshita frowned, “But he clearly said he won’t.”

 

Kei entered the clubroom and they both looked at him abruptly. Then, they looked down, frown on their faces.

 

Kei quickly changed and headed for the gym. The two followed close behind. The team was whispering to themselves when Kei went in. They all looked at him, and then looked away. They all looked… sad. Maybe frustrated.

 

Hinata looked at him with immense worry.

 

Kei frowned, “What are you looking at?”

 

This made Hinata panic, “Ah! No--nothing, it’s just--!”

 

“Spit it out!”

 

“It’s Tadashi! He’s… not going to come back to the team.”

 

Kei felt his chest constrict with foreign pain. He looked at Narita and Kinoshita, who were looking down. There rest of the team then chose that moment to enter the club room. Daichi took one look at what kind of scene they had walked into and sighed.

 

He placed a hand on Hinata, “How much did you say?”

 

“Ju-just that Tadashi’s not… coming back.”

 

“You idiot!” Kageyama yelled at his soulmate, “Don’t you realize how sensitive of a topic that is?”

 

Kei felt like he was about to explode, “Sensitive? I never thought you would know that word.”

 

“Tsukishima,” reprimanded Daichi.

 

“You’re hiding something,” Kei answered instead. “What happened to him?”

 

Daichi started to shake his head, bu Sugawara placed a hand on his soulmate’s shoulder. He looked at Kei sadly, “Tadashi didn’t want to tell you, but he… He’s in bed rest right now.”

 

“Bed rest?” Why is he the lats person to know something about his own best friend? How long has this been going on around his back?

 

Hinata started to tear up, “Tadashi’s in the last stages of Hanahaki… He’s currently in his bed rest… Waiting for…”

 

No.

 

Kei’s the one dying for him.

 

Not… him dying… This isn’t how it was supposed to go.

 

“Waiting for what?” Kei wanted to submerge himself in deep waters. So, it is true. That Yamaguchi has it for someone else, that’s why… that’s why Kei’s about to die. But why? Why wouldn’t that someone love his Tadashi back?

 

“He could just…” Kei clenched his hands into fists at his sides, “He could just go have it removed. It’s not as if the person he has if for is worth it. He could just tell what he feels for that person and get that operation...”

 

Because it is Tadashi who’s worth it.

 

“If it was that easy, Tsukishima, then why not tell Kuroo about yours?” Daichi replied.

 

Kei frowned, “Kuroo again? I have told him! He told me to shut up and confess to Yamaguchi. Talk about getting a taste of my own shit--”

 

Everyone stood there frozen for a second until everything just… became chaos. He was taken by the hand by Ennoshita and Noya, and they were all running from the club room. Tanaka was shouting on the phone, “ONEE-SAN! AGAIN! THE ‘H’ EMERGENCY! PLEASE!”

 

“‘H’ Emergency?” Kei wondered out loud as he was being dragged to the school’s parking area.

 

“Our team has a fair share of idiots,” said Ennoshita.

 

“Hasn’t changed!” Noya chirped.

 

“Can somebody please tell me what’s happening?” Kei asked.

 

“GAH! ONEE-SAN’S TAKING SO LONG!” Tanaka yelled.

 

Everyone looked panicked, but they knew that to do, as if what was happening already happened before.

 

A few minutes passed, and Tanaka Saeko pulled into the driveway. They were immediately pushing Kei to get inside the car. “Wha--what?”

 

Once he was inside the passenger seat, Daichi and Suga hopped into the back seat.

 

“GOOD LUCK, TSUKISHIMA!” Yelled Tanaka as they drove away again.

 

“Where to?” Saeko asked as she took sharp turns.

 

Suga gave Yamaguchi’s address. Kei looked back at them, “Why are we going there?”

 

Daichi pinched the bridge of his nose, “To end his disaster. I didn’t think it would happen again, but it did.”

 

Saeko chuckled, “Karasuno’s really a team full of idiots. Playing with Hanahaki disease as if it was just nothing. How many of you boys almost lost it now?”

 

“Tsukishima and Yamaguchi would be the… uh… fouth pair.”

 

“The last?”

 

“We’re hoping,” Suga replied.

 

Kei frowned. Fourth pair? Why didn’t he know anything about this?

 

Saeko sighed and then turned to Kei, “How long do you have?”

 

“I don’t know. Maybe three months.”

 

“And your idiot half?”

 

“Who?” Kei asked. He was really clueless.

 

“Tadashi. How long does he have left?” Saeko took a sharp turn again, making them hold on tp something.

 

“He’s in his bed rest,” Daichi answered, voice grim.

 

“Shit,” said Saeko. “This is cutting it close.”

 

“Yeah, that’s why we’re thankful to you as always, Saeko-neesan.”

 

Kei’s confusion grew, “Daichi-san. Suga-san. I don’t think I… understand.”

 

“Tadashi has it for you, too, Tsukishima.” Sugawara said, voice gentle. “He didn’t want you to know. He was afraid that you’d make him go for an operation. He didn’t want to… forget.”

 

The stabbing pain rose up to Kei’s throat. He coughed, but managed to keep the petals down. Kei didn’t want to forget too. They were right. Idiots. Both of them.

 

“Hanahaki’s a real jerk,” commented Saeko. “Once you believe that person has no way to love you back, you’re already doomed for sure. That’s what communication is for, boys. Always remember that.” She took another turn that led into Yamaguchi’s street.

 

The car stopped. “Go and fix this!” Saeko yelled as the boys went out of the car.

 

“Thank you, Saeko-neesan!” Suga yelled.

 

Kei turned the knob. It was already opened. Petals covered the floor, as if it was a path made to follow. Daichi and Sugawara followed him inside the house.

 

Loud coughing can be heard from upstairs, “Suga-san?”

 

Smiling, Sugawara pushed Kei to the direction of the stairs. “Go on, Tsukishima. Tadashi already told me that his parents were out of town, that was why he left the door open. Don’t worry. We’re going to be here if you need us.”

 

As he went up the stairs, the stairs he was so familiar with for years now, ever since he was a kid. His hands were trembling. He suppressed a cough as he turned towards Yamaguchi’s room. He tried to knock, but the door was ajar.

 

He stepped inside. Upon seeing Yamaguchi on the bed, he took a few long strides to reach him. Kei closed his eyes and shook his head as he stood by Yamaguchi’s bed. They were right. He… he’s in his bed rest.

 

“Tsukki?”

 

Kei wanted to curse. The voice was tiny, weakened. He opened his eyes again and that was it, he couldn’t anymore. Kei coughed petals in front of his best friend, letting his petals join Yamaguchi’s on the floor.

 

The room was filled with petals and flowers, as if bouquets exploded inside. Yamaguchi was so pale. Kei was still coughing until tears fell from his eyes.

 

“Hey, Tsukki.” Yamaguchi smiled, “Don’t cry. It’s okay. I… wanted this. I never wanted to forget… you. I’d rather--’

 

“No!” Kei yelled. “You shouldn’t, not for me, please, Tadashi, I--”

 

Yamaguchi held up a hand, “So, how did Kuroo take it?”

 

Kei took hold of the hand, gasping at the cold. “He… he shouldn’t even be in this conversation. My hanahaki wasn’t even for him.”

 

“What?”

 

“My Peruvian Lilies… are, and will always be, for you, Tadashi.”

 

Yamaguchi coughed hard, reaching for towels as he coughed up blood-stained flowers. Through unshed tears, he looked at Kei. “Really?”

 

Kei could only nod, “I’m sorry. I was an idiot, I couldn’t even tell you--”

 

“Shh, I couldn’t even tell you too. I guess were both idiots, huh, Tsukki.”

 

Kei nodded again, tears falling from his eyes. He was rubbing them, trying to put an end to the wetness but only fresh tears well up again everytime.

 

“Hmm. Tsukki?” Yamaguchi called.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“I love you. Tsukki, I love you. From when we were kids, I hid away. The flowers stayed in my room, in our school bathroom, anywhere away from you. I couldn’t say because I don’t want to burden you with my feelings. I didn’t want to bother you.” Yamaguchi squeezed Kei’s hand.

 

“Tadashi,” Kei coughed. He took his hand away from his eyes. He stepped closer to Yamaguchi’s bed and leaned down. Kei cupped his best friend’s cheek, “I love you, too, Tadashi.”

 

When Kei sealed their lips together, Kei almost gasped. It was like diving deep, deep under the sea. It was as if water entered his lungs, and Kei never wanted to return again.