"Kage! What's the hold-up?" Yamaguchi whined as he tugged the taller boy's sleeve, hurrying their pace to their usual hang out spot at the Karasuno Cafe.
Dragging his feet along, it irks him to not be able to share the same levels of spirit as Yamaguchi. They both experienced the same event and yet, as it seems Kageyama was the only one left in spite of the situation.
Stirring his lukewarm cup of coffee, he barely listened to the boy droning on and on about his day in an animated tale.
"So there I was... clutching on to Takeda sensei's last bit of papers and I ran off to the edge of the cliff-"
But Yamaguchi's words simply drained right out of his left ear as he kept stirring his drink hazily.
"O-Oi!" Yamaguchi slammed his palm on the round table between them.
"You're CLEARLY not paying any attention to me, you're just nodding your head with occasional noises of acknowledgement even after I told you that lame ass fake story!"
A little taken aback by the sudden outrage, Kageyama mumbled his apology.
"What's up with you these days?" Yamaguchi pouted before munching on his meat bun sourly.
Finally, the silent ticking bomb went off. "Me? What about YOU?! ACTING ALL AS THOUGH EVERYTHING WAS HAPPY AND DANDY! WHAT'S UP WITH YOU-!?" Kageyama burst out before he even realises the words he spat out.
The silence that hung in the air of the cafe was heavy. Everyone around them was stiffened by the thick tension surrounding them. "Well- fine.. if you want to stay like that," Yamaguchi could barely even managed as he picked his bag off the floor and made his way out of the cafe. His tears were already streaming down his face before he could even reach the door, but he kept on walking, leaving Kageyama by himself.
The stale air around Kageyama finally moved, only to leave him along with every step Yamaguchi took away from him. His chest tightens as he tried gasping for air to breathe. For weeks he's been stuck in this stagnant routine only to escape into a pitch of complete darkness.
The second his feet stepped onto the carpet of his apartment, his knees made way and his body crashed to the floor.
Tears were streaming down his face.
Kageyama's words rang in his ears as his heart pounded hard in his chest to the point he felt like reaching down and ripping it straight out of his chest. He felt the strain on the back of his throat but he swallowed it down just as he did since that very day it began hurting.
"It begins immediately, the second you find out- the effects take place that very second," Tsukishima warned. Yamaguchi held the pill in his palm.
"But, let's say if it all goes south.. how long can I hold it down?" The hope in Yamaguchi's eyes glistened but failed to mask the fear in his throbbing through his veins.
His heart dropped as Tsukishima scoffed at the hopeful remark.
"I've heard cases, a kid named Hinata barely even had time to lay it all out before he finds out the truth, he managed for three days- but it took its toll from within. So, if you change your mind..." Tsukishima opened his hand, ready to accept the return of the tiny pill.
Yamaguchi could barely breathe as he felt the pain shooting through him, like roots coursing through his veins.
He gasped for air, clawing at the skin of his neck as the twisting torment bled on.
Gagging into his hands, his mind spun as his limbs were slowly getting heavier.
"Yamaguchi! It's been weeks! You can't hold on like this for much longer or you'll explode!" Tsukishima snapped, shaking the boy by his shoulders.
"Just one more dose Tsukki-" Yamaguchi managed, stuffing the crumpled bills into the latter's hand.
Despite being known as the cold-hearted dealer who had never shown a tinge of concern for his clients, Yamaguchi had always been a different case for Tsukishima since the start. The two practically grew up together. So when the day came when Yamaguchi requested for a pill, Tsukishima was beyond reluctant to provide.
Slipping the vile out of his pocket, he bit off the cork and poured the bluish silvery contents down Yamaguchi's throat. He could feel the warm liquid coursing through him, numbing the pains all over his limbs and his heart. All that was left was the soreness at the back of his throat, the reaction of the delphinium mixture had burned his tonsils but that was a pain he was willing to tolerate.
"How long- How long more are you going to rely on these suppressions?" Tsukishima threw the vile to the wall.
The sound of the glass shattering onto the floor was the only response he received. He held back the tears that were threatening to break free.
"You promised me that you'll go to Daichi to get it removed.. you promised me that the second this began- you'll get over this," his voice dropped to a whisper as his fingers ran through Yamaguchi's green mused hair.
"I'm sorry," was all Yamaguchi could manage before he slipped back into darkness.
Yamaguchi scrambled for his phone with his left hand as his right was still clinging onto the pain on his throat.
'The number you have reached is disengaged.'
"Tsukki.. please just one more-" He pled, dialling the number once more.
'The number you have reached is disengaged.'
"Please.." He wheezed.
Ten minutes before it all went downhill, Yamaguchi held the pill in his palm, debating his options. He wondered if what Tsukishima mentioned was true. That there's more to life than measly soulmates and finding your significant other.
But he was sure of the feelings he had brewed within his heart and he was almost certain that the feelings were mutual.
"You don't HAVE to do this-" was the final warning Tsukishima had left him.
Finally, he popped the pill into his mouth and down it with the tiny vile of delphinium concoction. Two minutes was how long it took for the pill to take action, dispersing into every portion of his veins. Sparing an extra minute just to be sure, Yamaguchi finally knocked on Kageyama's apartment door.
He could've sworn that his heart stopped when the latter opened the door in his comfy looking oversized sweater that used to belong to Yamaguchi.
Suppressing a pleased smile, he greeted Kageyama, his fingers fiddling with nerves. Kageyama invited the boy in, despite the sudden intrusion.
"I'm n-not going to dwell on this for any longer, because I don't want the effects of the pill to wear off- I-I just need to tell you. I l-love you," without leaving any room for interjections, Yamaguchi spoke his heart.
Alas, his confidence took a turn when he felt the ticklish prick on the back of his throat.
"I'm sorry-" Kageyama began.
The bile was piling up, blocking the air from entering his lungs.
"I took one of those three months ago- for Daichi, but.."
Yamaguchi tried his best to stifle the coughing fit that was itching his vocal chords.
"He said that he found his other half already.." Kageyama placed a concerned hand on top of Yamaguchi's that was balled into a fist.
"I was his first removal operation... before he went out on the streets.." Kageyama explained.
"So I'm void of all romantic emotions.." guilt seeping in place of the love that Yamaguchi had hoped for.
"Please... I don't want to lose this feeling.." Yamaguchi begged but the line was still dead.
He doubled over in pain as he coughed out the first few bloodstained petals.
How ironic, the colour Kageyama simply loved.
Tsukishima ran straight to Yamaguchi's apartment, the second his phone started ringing. He knew what requests the boy had for him, but he couldn't bring himself to supply Yamaguchi with another dose of suppressions.
He urgently dialled his partner's number and instantly barked at the receiver the second the line got through, "Get ready! I'm bringing Yamaguchi in! He finally caved! Meet us at my place!"
Tsukishima slammed the door open, calling out for Yamaguchi's name. Sieving his way through the pile of petals, he found the boy where the bloodstain was most concentrated.
"I'm sorry Tadashi- but I had to do this for you," He whispered gently as he picked up the unconscious body off the floor and carried the latter straight for his own apartment.
"Everything is going to be better, I promise," He gently spoke.
"I won't let you suffer in this pain any longer-"
The myth of the Hanahaki Disease, in which the victim coughs up flower petals when they suffer from one-sided love. It ends when the beloved returns their feelings (romantic love only; strong friendship is not enough), or when the victim dies.
It can be cured through surgical removal, but when the infection is removed, the victim's romantic feelings also disappears.
But myths stirred from the truth.
In reality, there is a drug that binds the souls of two lovers in a happy life where death do they part. Reasons why people often sought after this drug is because it is the one-way ticket to a happy ending, although the downside to this drug brings about what is known as the 'hanahaki disease'.
Countless of people had tried to go without it, going after their loved ones in what seems to be a fruitless chase. Relationships ending with heartbreak and life ending without love. There was no way for love to grow without this drug. Desperation brought about savagery and as such, this drug had been banned. People are made to live a content life in forced relationships with the sole purpose of breeding the next generation into a family that lacks the essence of love.
Underground, there are dealers, trading and selling these drugs at a high cost although if it ends with death, no further charge would be necessary. Hansol was the leading smuggler, working in a close knitted community with Seungcheol by his side who would operate on those who had the adverse effects of the drug. A corrupted system for a corrupted world where love is lost to the fear of such a myth.
The Hanahaki Disease was no myth.
It was a consequence of getting ahead of yourself in such an unrequited relationship.