Izumi returns to Florence after two long weeks in France, and the distinct lack of a cheery, obnoxious boyfriend leaping into his luggage-laden arms at the airport is immediately apparent. The first inklings of worry seed themselves into his mind because Leo is forgetful, but not when it comes to Izumi.
His calls go to voicemail. His texts remain unread. It’s not unusual, for Leo to not pay attention to his phone, but that doesn’t stop Izumi’s leg from anxiously bouncing up and down in the back of a taxi that’s moving entirely too slow.
A small eternity later, he’s fumbling with the key to their shared apartment as the instinctive dread in the pit of his stomach intensifies.
Izumi finds him like this:
Loosely curled up on the hardwood floor of their living room, surrounded by sheet music that’s been ripped, crumpled, tossed aside. Uncapped markers with tips ruined by too much pressure are scattered about, as if they’d been hurled before rolling to their final resting place. It’s a heart-wrenching, familiar sight, made more pitiful by the way Leo drowns in the darkness that swallows him whole, makes him look impossibly small.
He takes a tentative step forward, forgoing the overhead lights for the small lamp on the couch end table. The little antique thing—picked up at some local market—casts the space in a warm, golden glow, but it does little to melt the ice in his veins. Because now Izumi can see Leo—really see him. His tangled, greasy-looking hair, the prominent dark circles beneath his eyes, and—
—the angry red lines on his wrists, the imprint of teeth on his hands.
“You idiot, what did you do…”
Up close, it’s worse. Up close, Izumi notices the blood beneath his bitten nails, wrinkles his nose at the lingering scent of coppery rust. The new wounds overlay the old ones—faded scars that always leave Izumi choking on guilt even as Leo laughs and says it isn’t your fault, Sena.
(It is. No matter how many times Leo says it isn’t, no matter how much Leo might actually believe it isn’t, it is. Because Izumi was the one who had pushed and pushed and pushed. Had turned a blind eye to the way Leo balanced precociously on the edge before tumbling over—)
Save for the faintest rise and fall of his chest, Leo is unmoving, almost deathly still. It’s only when Izumi reaches out, fingertips barely brushing the too cold skin of his cheek, that he comes alive.
“Gaahh, shut up! Shut up, shut up, shut up! Go away!”
The outburst is accompanied by a mad scramble as Leo slaps away his hand like it’s something dangerous, something that will hurt him, with bared teeth and crazed, wide eyes.
“I said go away!”
Leo’s voice cracks the same way something in Izumi’s chest does. Izumi’s hand hovers in the space between them, even as Leo shrinks away like—like he’s scared.
“It’s me,” Izumi tries, smoothing the usual rough edges of his voice into something softer, gentler. “It’s just me, Leo-kun. It’s… it’s just your Sena.”
Like that’s supposed to be reassuring.
But Leo stills, and maybe…
His relief is cut short by a wretched sob that leaves Leo’s small frame visibly trembling.
“Sena,” he says, heavy and pained and so unlike the usual light, singsong way he calls Izumi. “Sena, Sena, Sena—” His name viciously claws its way out of Leo’s throat until its cut off by a bloodied hand that latches itself around his neck, squeezing the same way one applies pressure to an open wound.
“Hey, stop that!” Izumi moves without conscious effort, his own neatly trimmed nails digging into scabbed over wounds as he tries and fails to pry Leo’s hand off. “Leo-kun!”
White hot panic, bubbling anxiety, cold dread—none of them are enough to describe what Izumi feels as he watches, helpless, useless.
“It hurts…” Leo says, grip loosening. His voice is raw, raspy, and Izumi can already see the bruises forming on his throat. “It hurts… How do I… It won’t go away… Why can’t… why can’t I hear anything? Where did it go? I…”
Izumi doesn’t pretend to understand the disjointed words and phrases, but what he does understand is the way Leo’s cheeks suddenly pale, the way he suddenly covers his mouth before gagging—once, twice. The waste bin Izumi places in front of him is half-filled with rejected compositions. Leo retches again as Izumi smooths a hand down his sweat-dampened back, and a sharp, acidic smell fills the room.
This—Izumi isn’t good at this. At being comforting, reassuring. But for Leo, he can try. He continues rubbing his back as wet coughs fade into dry heaves. It’s not surprising that Leo doesn’t have much in his stomach, but that’s something Izumi can fix tomorrow.
Tomorrow, Izumi can clean up this mess. Tomorrow, Leo will be okay, even if Izumi has to re-stick all the bits and pieces that had broken off in his absence into something whole again.
And when Leo slumps forward in exhaustion, Izumi pulls him back to his chest and lets him rest there until the shivers subside.
“C’mon,” he says, willing strength back into his own tired limbs. “Lets get you cleaned up and into bed, okay?”
Leo doesn’t quite respond, but he doesn’t protest as Izumi hauls him to his feet and guides him to the bathroom, sitting him on the closed lid of the toilet. A shower and bath will have to wait. For now, Izumi wipes his face with a damp cloth, makes him gargle with mouthwash. Leo flinches when Izumi dabs an antibiotic on his wounds, which look even angrier, uglier underneath the fluorescent lights.
And as Izumi applies the bandages scrounged up from a dusty first-aid kit, he finds himself singing an old song. One written for him—for them—back when they had both been young and dumb and naive. A song that brings back memories of after school practices—just the two of them in an empty classroom, unable to pay the studio fees. Memories of singing until his voice cracked, of dancing until his body ached, of insisting they run through the performance one more time anyway. Memories Leo stealing the tastiest bits of his carefully prepared lunch (of Izumi letting him, because the resulting flushed, happy look on his face was worth it). Memories of walks on the beach at sunset and of evenings listening to Leo’s music, letting himself be carried away by the melodies he himself inspired.
He sings as he ties off the last bandage, as he pulls a fresh, oversized shirt over Leo’s head. He sings as they settle beneath the plush covers, Leo’s head pillowed on his chest, ear over his heart.
“I can hear it,” Leo mumbles, words slurring together as his eyes begin to droop. “I can hear it… yes, yes, it’s back… I can…”
Izumi continues to sing. He doesn’t ask about what it is that Leo finally hears. As long as he’s returning from the dark place he had fallen back into, it doesn’t matter. As long as Izumi can still reach him, can still pull him out, they’ll be alright.