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Spring Fever

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“I'm dying.”

Makishima lowers his phone and stares at it in incredulous silence. After several seconds of seriously contemplating throwing the device out his bedroom window and letting it drop the twelve stories to the ground, he jams it back against his ear.

“You're not dying, Toudou,” he says tersely. “And next time, can you not start a conversation like that?”

Toudou makes an offended noise. “That’s rude, Maki-chan! What if I really was dying?!”

“If you were really dying, I hope you'd call someone who can actually help you instead of someone living two continents away,” says Makishima, making an aborted, useless hand gesture at nothing. “Do you even know what time it is here?”

“One o’clock in the morning,” Toudou says promptly.

Makishima blinks. “How did - wait, if you know then why did you call me? What if I was sleeping?”

Toudou scoffs. “Unless you underwent a personality change in England, you never go to sleep before three in the morning unless you're dying.”

Makishima has to admit that's a valid point, but he's not going to tell that to Toudou. “But it's nine A.M. where you are,” he presses. “What's so important that you had to wake up so early on a Sunday morning just to call me?”

“I already told you, Maki-chan! I'm dying!”

“...I’m hanging up.”

“Wait! No! I -” There’s a brief thump followed by rustling noises, and he pictures Toudou fumbling his phone and scrambling to catch it. “Are you still there?”

“For now, but if you so much as mention the word ‘dying’ one more time -”

“Okay, fine!” Toudou yelps. “I’m not - about to pass away. But I am sick!”

This gives Makishima pause. Now that he thinks about it, Toudou’s voice does sound a bit off, as if his vocal swords are scraping against sandpaper every time he opens his mouth, and his breathing sounds harsher in his ear than usual. Could Toudou actually be sick? He doesn’t recall Toudou ever falling ill in all the years he’s known him, likely due to him obsessing over health and nutrition and being in perfect racing condition at all times, but he supposes no one can be immune to everything forever.

“What, did you catch a cold or something?” Makishima leans back on his bed, sinking into the soft mattress, and smirks at the ceiling. “I bet you went cycling in the snow without your jacket again.”

Predictably, Toudou blows up. “I told you, that time was because I gave my jacket to Megane-kun! And it was him and Manami who were cycling, not me!”

“Right.”

“I’m serious! I would never ride in the snow and risk my physical condition like that! Do you really think I would ever jeopardize my good looks and flawless complexion?”

“Then how did you catch this cold?”

“I don’t have a cold, Maki-chan,” Toudou says disdainfully, as if the very idea of falling victim to such a common ailment is insulting to him. “I have spring fever.”

“…Spring fever.”

“Yes.”

Makishima waits for the punchline. It doesn’t come.

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” He huffs out a breath and resists the urge to start tearing out his own hair. “Spring fever isn’t an actual illness! You can’t get sick with it!”

“Well it must be an illness, because I’m sick with spring fever!” Toudou argues, sniffling audibly. “I have a runny nose -”

“That could be your allergies.”

“- I’ve been coughing all morning –”

“You must’ve let dust gather everywhere again. Open your bedroom window or better yet, get a vacuum cleaner.”

“- and I can’t sleep,” Toudou finishes with a whine, which would have possibly evoked some sympathy from Makishima if he wasn’t so used to this sort of behaviour from him. “I only got about four hours of sleep.”

Makishima presses his fingers to his temple. “I hate to break it to you but it sounds like you just have a regular cold, Toudou. Not spring fever which, again, doesn’t exist.”

“But I can’t have a cold!” Toudou wails. “The Mountain God never gets colds!”

“There’s a first for everything, even for the Mountain God,” Makishima says dryly. “Go back to sleep. You’ll feel better when you wake up.”

Toudou whines again, the familiarity of the high-pitched sound grating on Makishima’s nerves. “I told you already, I can’t sleep!”

“You can’t, or you don’t want to?”

“Both!” He hears the creak of springs as Toudou sits up in bed. “The sun’s already up, so there’s no point in going back to sleep now. I might as well start my day. After I eat breakfast, I’ll go out for a short bike ride and –”

There’s a crash, and Toudou’s voice abruptly cuts off.

“Toudou?” No response. “Toudou!”

“Ow,” Toudou complains loudly.

Makishima breathes a sigh of relief and immediately hopes Toudou didn’t hear it. “What happened?”

“Eh, I may have - tripped getting out of bed?”

“...You’re dizzy, aren’t you.” A spark of genuine concern flares in Makishima’s chest. “If you can’t even get out of bed properly, there’s no way you’ll be able to ride a bike without crashing.”

“But -” Toudou interrupts himself with a series of three rapid sneezes.

“Go to sleep, Toudou,” he says, exasperation bleeding into his voice. “If you push yourself it’ll just take that much longer for you to recover to full health, and I swear I’ll fly to Japan and throttle you if that happens.”

“You can’t come to Japan, Maki-chan. You’re busy with school and homework,” says Toudou, his words slurring slightly, but Makishima can hear him obediently crawling back into bed and pulling the bedsheets back over his body. “And cycling. Don’t you have a race in five days?”

Makishima pauses briefly before barking a laugh. He should be surprised Toudou remembers that, considering he mentioned it only once several months ago, but oddly enough, he’s not. “I do, but that won’t stop me from kicking your ass in person if you do something stupid like overexert yourself while you’re sick. Why do you suddenly want to bike so much, anyway? You’ve never had a problem with taking breaks before.”

Toudou hums thoughtfully. “I’ve been restless, lately,” he says. “Since the racing season started not that long ago I haven’t competed in any races in a while, and I keep wanting to just - hop on my bike and ride up the nearest slope. Yet when I do, I’m not satisfied. I climb and climb and climb, but what I’m searching for isn’t at the top of a mountain. It's not something I can win by reaching the peak in record time. So I ended up cycling for too long for too many days, just endless rotations in an endless pursuit, until I caught spring fever.”

“You can’t catch spring fever,” Makishima says for what feels like the hundredth time, because that’s easier than trying to unpack everything that Toudou’s just told him.

“Maybe I'm the first to catch it,” says Toudou. “I am the Mountain God, after all.”

“That makes zero sense,” he says flatly. “I think you're delirious.”

Toudou snorts. “You're probably right. Still,” his tone turns quiet, wistful, “I wish I could go biking right now. It's a nice day.”

Makishima turns to look out his own window. The night sky is mostly clear, pinprick stars visible even through the hazy glow of thousands of building lights similar to his own, but he can spot small storm clouds dappled with grey and white gathering on the horizon and looming over the city. The weather forecast promised heavy rain for the next few days, news which upset his cycling teammates but sent chills of anticipation down his spine.

He knows Toudou well enough to recognize it definitely wouldn’t fit his proper definition of a ‘nice day.’ He also knows Toudou well enough to know he wouldn’t care, as long as it fit Makishima’s own. His fingers itch and suddenly, he can understand Toudou's inexplicable desire to ride at that very moment.

“Hey, Toudou,” he says.

“Yeah, Maki-chan?”

“When I come back to Japan, let's race again,” he says. “I'll call you, and wherever the nearest hill is - we’ll see who can climb the fastest to the peak.”

Toudou's bright laughter rings in his ear like musical chimes. “Okay, but you should know I'm going to win.”

“Kuha! Not if I beat you.”

He doesn't need to be able to see Toudou to know his greatest rival and friend is grinning. “It’s a promise.”