Morisawa, Kaoru thinks, has a tendency to push things.
He pushes on shoulders, on backs and between the shoulder blades, when he’s excited. He pushes for ideas, for unachievable heights and compromise when things don’t go his way. He pushes for teamwork (and when it’s his cries of encouragement, most can’t help but fall in line), and he pushes for excellence. It’s in his blood to push.
He pushes himself the most.
To say his dedication is noticeable would be an understatement. It’s visible in every step he takes, every note he sings, every pumped fist in the air when he gets something right. It’s visible in the shine of his eyes, the ever-widening grin, tangible in the hot breath against Kaoru’s ear when Morisawa slings his arm over his shoulders and shouts victory over a raucous crowd.
If Kaoru weren’t in his own unit, he might just say he’d want to join Morisawa, if only to bear witness to his zeal more often. Then again, perhaps it is the scarcity of sharing a stage that makes it so appealing- what’s the saying about straying too close to the sun?
Kaoru doesn’t think he could ever tire of the feeling of Morisawa’s enthusiasm rolling off him in waves, burrowing under Kaoru’s skin through the points of contact between them. There’s nothing like it- electrifying, comfortable, terrifying, safe. Contradictory yet perfectly understandable. A blur of colors and lines that buzz behind his eyes when Morisawa sings. It’s incredible- Kaoru can only hope to understand the power of such dedication, such resilience against losing speed and progress. When Kaoru watches Morisawa, admiration swells in his chest and mixes with something unidentifiable that makes him want to stand alongside him on stage (and maybe everywhere else, too).
Perhaps he’s foolish for admiring someone like this.
Perhaps he doesn’t care.
Which is why it’s so unexpected when the blindfold lifts. Why, when his vision shifts to show the big picture, he is wholly and irrevocably unprepared.
It starts with the time. 7:48 in the evening- the time his phone displays when Kaoru texts Morisawa, asking for a favor. One thing people often assume about Morisawa is that he’s completely air-headed- which, to be fair, isn’t helped by how easily he goes along with the jokes. But Kaoru knows better than that. A little piece of information about Morisawa that he’s pocketed over the period of their friendship is that one of Morisawa’s lesser-known hobbies is reading. Hungry, insatiable, reading, always needing more and more books to pour his soul into, only to finish within the week and devote his heart to a new story. Contradictory to his appearance? Certainly. But what isn’t when it comes to him?
Curiously, despite being an avid reader, Morisawa is not in the book club. Kaoru had invited him to join once- denied. He had extended the invitation after he caught him crouched in the hallway, desperately trying to cram a thick book back into his bag from where it had fallen. Morisawa had only laughed, waving it off with a halfhearted excuse about tight schedules- Kaoru generously did not point out that they all have tight schedules- before zipping up his bag and popping to his feet, tearing down the hall with an urgency one could only attribute to being late for practice.
Kaoru had let it go. If Morisawa thought he was too busy, then he was too busy, so that was that.
(And if Kaoru had felt himself wilt at the rejection, at the immediate discarding of the possibility of shared time, well, that was that too. It didn’t have to mean anything.)
Kaoru’s favor concerned the book club. They were running low on titles to explore, suggestions dubious and ideas dwindling, and Kaoru had the brilliant idea to ask Morisawa for suggestions. With his growing collection and distinct taste, there was the possibility of something entirely new and different for the book club to discuss. Plus, perhaps Morisawa might feel inclined to sit in on a meeting (or two, or three, or all) if they picked a book of his suggestion.
7:48 in the evening when he sent that message. 2:24 in the morning when he gets a reply.
The reply itself isn’t what bothers him.
(The reply, of course, is a resounding no problem, Hakaze, what is it, Hakaze, you need help, Hakaze? Spelling errors and separate message bubbles aside.)
What bothers him is the time. 2:24? In the morning? Kaoru was asleep when Morisawa answered him- most everyone in the building probably was. Healthy sleep schedules are encouraged (enforced, it could feel like) among idols. Hell, Kaoru knows he’s heard Morisawa himself stressing the importance of getting rest and eating right and all the other habits an athlete should have, to which his juniors had teased him about being too careful. Morisawa had only pushed for it harder.
Pushing, pushing, pushing. That’s what he does. So why is he being a hypocrite now? More importantly- how long has he been one?
Kaoru could kick himself for how fast the burning question had become a faint twinge at the back of his mind. Weeks pass, messages are exchanged, and Kaoru doesn’t send any more texts at night. The confusion fades to nearly nothing, covered once again by the swath of indecipherable feelings that are always present with Morisawa.
It’s a quiet morning in the dorms when the timestamps come back to him.
Quiet and cold, Kaoru had thought, wrapping his coat a touch more securely. Autumn was gearing up to be especially biting this year. Perhaps it would even snow before winter?
He had slowed his gait to a stop, gazing idly out the window to picture the courtyard below covered in a thick blanket of white, when his reverie was shattered by the sound of clattering- glass?- and a high pitched hiss of disdain.
He snapped his head up. That voice- that was Morisawa, right? Kaoru had just passed the hallway’s washroom. Odds are, it had come from there. Turning on his heel, he took one, two steps forward, ducked his head through the door, and-
Morisawa was standing in front of the mirror, clutching something that looked like a crayon precariously between his fingertips. His concentration was entirely on his reflection- if he’d heard Kaoru come in, he hadn’t shown it. Then, he sucked in a breath, swiped the crayon under his eye, and the sudden memory of his phone saying Sent 2:24 flashes as something clicks.
Morisawa yelps- actually yelps, shoulders jolting and eyes widening to a comical degree- and the stick of concealer drops from his fingers into the sink. “ Shit, ” Morisawa whispers, snatching it up quickly, then, “Hakaze! Hey, man, uh…” A grin splits across his face- he puts his hands behind his back in a way that completely fails to be casual. “What’s up?”
“Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you,” Kaoru says. “I had just- I heard you drop something, so I was making sure you’re alright.”
“I’m good, man, s’cool. No worries.” He waves his other hand in the air to punctuate how all-good he is. “Nothing broken, so…”
He’s clearly waiting for Kaoru to leave. Kaoru takes a step closer.
From this distance, the difference between the two halves of his face is too striking for comfort. He can see the swipe of concealer Morisawa had managed to get in before Kaoru interrupted him, but his other eye is bare. He’s sporting some bad eyebags- swollen and purpling, like a freshly won bruise- and the stark line of concealer only enhances the effect. He’s pale, too, paler than usual. Morisawa usually has a warm glow to him, even when everyone else is dying on their feet. Now, the glow has dulled.
“You look tired,” is what comes out of Kaoru’s stupid mouth.
Morisawa’s grin slips, and Kaoru really will kick himself this time. It’s back as soon as it went- there’s the distinctly uncomfortable sensation that he’s just watched the application of a mask. “I’m fine, man. Aren’t we all tired at seven?”
We don’t all look like we got punched in the face by it, Kaoru doesn’t say. Instead, he hesitates, then nods to Morisawa’s hidden arm. “I didn’t know you wore concealer. Did it break when you dropped it?”
“I don’t,” Morisawa says, then, “I mean- not usually. I don’t wear it. Not all the time.” He finally pulls the offending object from behind his back. “Nah, I didn’t break it. S’fine.”
Kaoru takes in Morisawa’s pressed lips and furrowed brows, and tries to backtrack. “It’s not bad if you wear it, you know,” Kaoru blurts out, “I mean- we have to wear makeup onstage, and I know some of the guys here wear it daily, too, so it’s not bad or anything-”
“I know that,” Morisawa snaps, then shuts his mouth with an audible click. “I mean- I know that. That’s not the problem, or- not that there is a problem, I just-” He takes a deep breath, pausing for a moment from his rambling tirade, before letting it out slowly. “It’s just until these bags go away, that’s all.”
Kaoru nods, more to himself than to anything Morisawa said, and folds his arms across his chest. Sent 2:24 keeps ringing in his ears, parading around the face of a Morisawa who looks less and less like he wants to be here.
A late text and some concealer. It’s basically nothing.
Still, a thread of worry begins to twine its way into Kaoru’s mind.
“Hey,” he says softly, softer than he had meant for, and nearly stops talking at the sudden intimacy of his own tone. He manages to carry on, though, asking, “have you been sleeping okay? Bags like that don’t go away on their own, you know.”
Morisawa turns back to the mirror. “‘Course I have, man!” he laughs, not matching at all with the subdued atmosphere Kaoru had accidentally created. His laugh runs against it like chalk on a board.
“You sure? You look-”
“I’m fine , Hakaze, geez!” His tone is light, unbothered, and completely fake, but when he flicks his eyes to meet Kaoru’s gaze he softens, just slightly. “Don’t worry about me, alright?” He reaches out with his free hand and pokes Kaoru between the eyebrows. “You’ll get wrinkles.”
“I will not, ” Kaoru protests, and doesn’t say that he wouldn’t mind getting wrinkles if it's Morisawa who’s causing them. “If you’re sure, though.”
“Worrywart,” Morisawa says as he blends the concealer into his skin. “Mister I’m-so-cool, all-the-girls-want-me, acting like I’m gonna die ‘cause I’m using a little makeup.”
“I resent the idea that girls wouldn’t like a man who cares,” Kaoru says with an over exaggerated flip of his hair. It’s a distraction, of course. He lets him have it.
(Should he have let him have it?)
This incident doesn’t fade nearly as quickly from memory, nor does it take nearly as long for something else to come along and cause it to spike once again.
In the week since he caught Morisawa with the concealer, the temperature has only dropped lower. That day, he'd wondered if it would snow before winter- today the question is less if and more when.
It gets even worse at night. The chill of the air plus the wind makes Kaoru wish he had more layers, which feels ridiculous to consider when he looks at his turtleneck and thick trench coat. He should definitely be warm enough, and yet, here he is, tugging his beanie as far as it will go over his ears and attempting to ball his fists into his sleeves.
The only reason he’s even outside right now is because he needs to get back to Seisou hall. Practice had run late, and Kaoru had stayed even later to get a drink (hot chocolate, of course, what else for a night like this?), so he can’t even participate in the meager comfort that herd warmth may have given him with the rest of his unit. At least the drink is helping his fingers not to freeze off- next time he goes anywhere, he’s bringing gloves.
He’s about to take a sip of his hot chocolate when he sees a figure over the lid of his cup. Someone walking towards him? Towards Ensemble Square, not away? Who in their right mind would-
At some point, Kaoru will learn not to ask himself these questions.
Of course it’s Morisawa. Of course it’s him, bag over shoulder, wearing nothing but his exercise jacket and sweatpants. When he lifts his head, recognition flashes in his eyes, and Kaoru can’t decide fast enough on whether to feel happy, angry, or wildly concerned to see him before their paths meet.
“Hey, man!” Morisawa grins, cheeks ruddy red from the cold but eyes still swollen, purple bruising most definitely not gone. “Didn’t think I’d see you out here!”
“What the fuck are you doing?” Kaoru asks before he can contain himself. He’s lucky his tone came out more bewildered than pissed, but Morisawa still frowns.
“No, you- why aren’t you wearing a coat? It’s freezing, Moricchi!”
Morisawa parts his lips into a perfect o shape, but no sound comes out. He wrinkles his nose in confusion. “I am wearing a coat, though?” he says, pulling at the hem of his jacket with his fingertips- which, upon further inspection, are trembling lightly. Kaoru’s mouth purses into a grim line.
“That,” Kaoru says, picking at the sleeve of Morisawa’s jacket, “is not a coat. That is a thin piece of cotton. This is a coat.” He gestures to his own ensemble, which Morisawa studies with unfocused eyes.
“Mmm,” Morisawa nods. “Yeah, I’m not really sure what the difference is.”
Oh, Kaoru could kill him. Or kiss him- grab him by the drawstrings of that stupidly thin jacket and kiss him in a way that would warm them both up instantly. Whichever comes first.
“The difference is that one keeps you warm and the other only pretends to! Moricchi, tell me you have something better than this?”
Morisawa blinks, and for the first time Kaoru sees how tight his jaw is. “I have a thicker one in my room,” he says, and, yes- this time, he can hear the rapid clacking of his chattering teeth before he clenches them. “But I didn’t bring it ‘cause it’s not a workout jacket.”
“You have room in your bag, Moricchi!” Kaoru cries, before running that sentence through his head again. “Workout? Your practice can’t seriously be starting now. ”
And Morisawa gets that look again- that look that means Kaoru’s touched something he didn’t want him to, stepped on a landmine without even knowing there was a battlefield, that look that means Kaoru has found something new to worry about- and it happens in a fraction of a second before he smiles again. It’s as if it never happened at all.
“Nah, I wouldn’t do that to them, I’m not evil, ” Morisawa says, clapping Kaoru on the shoulder. “I just missed one earlier this week, so I’m catching up now.”
Something of his distaste must show on his face, because Morisawa lets out a bark of laughter. “Shut up,” he mutters, pressing his hands closer to his cup as Morisawa leans into his shoulder.
“What’s wrong, man, it’s like I told you I’m going to war!” He’s so close. His cheek has managed to fit itself against Kaoru’s collarbone, and he’s so close. “You gotta lighten up, dude.”
His breath comes out in puffs against Kaoru’s neck, one, two, three times before he pulls away. Too long to pass off as platonic- or, in Kaoru’s case, too long for him to pretend he wanted it to be. With his head where it was, he could have kissed him. It would have been so easy.
“You’re warm, Hakaze,” Morisawa says mournfully, leaning forward as if to do it again but not actually touching him. “I wish I could take you with me. Like a hot water bottle.”
“I’m not a hot water bottle,” Kaoru says, and he knows his face must be flushing furiously. Stiffly, far too stiff to be natural, he shoves his cup into Morisawa’s chest before he can think better of it. Morisawa takes it- confused, of course, but smiling, holding it in front of him as if it’s some unknowable thing. Kaoru shrugs his coat off, too, tries to hand it over but essentially throws it in his face.
Morisawa makes a muffled sound of surprise that Kaoru can barely hear over his own heartbeat in his ears. “Hakaze, what-”
“If you’re going to be practicing, that means you need to walk back here later,” Kaoru says. The air rips through his turtleneck like paper- he’s so red he can hardly feel it. “You need those more than I do.”
Pale face, red cheeks, tired eyes, all staring at him. Boring holes into his skin. Morisawa looks to be fighting himself- he opens his mouth, closes it, opens it again only to bite his lips. “I can’t,” he says finally, pushing his arms forward, again when Kaoru pushes them back. “Hakaze, I can’t. ”
“Yes, you can.” You really should. The more Kaoru looks at him, the more he looks the closest to sickly Kaoru’s ever seen him- it’s awful, awful in every way and Kaoru wants him to stop looking like that.
Morisawa pushes the coat against Kaoru’s chest. “It’s yours. You need it. I’m gonna be inside anyway. Hakaze, take your stuff.”
“Do you think I’m an idiot?” Kaoru sighs, reaching out as if to take the coat but instead grasping Morisawa’s upper arms, rubbing them like the friction from a strip of cotton could keep him warm in weather like this. “You’re freezing, Moricchi. And you’re gonna be all gross and sweaty which will make the cold even worse. I’m not taking back my coat.”
Morisawa’s face all but crumples. “At least take your drink,” he says, borderline begs, and Kaoru wonders when this turned from romantic to concerning.
He shakes his head resolutely. “Not happening,” he deadpans. “Pay me back with a drink another time.”
Miraculously, that seems to restore the mood- Morisawa’s eyes widen, and the color on his cheeks darkens. He looks less like he might freeze to death, but also- oh, fuck. That definitely sounded like a pickup line.
There’s another few seconds where the two of them are silent. Morisawa- shuffling on his feet, gnawing at his bottom lip, trying to decide whether to keep pushing or to give in. Kaoru- trying to process the implications of what he just said.
Finally, Morisawa breaks the silence with a small, shaky sigh. “Okay,” he says, bowing his head in defeat, “but only because I can’t waste any more time arguing with you about this when I could be practicing. And, you know, if I can,” he swallows. Averts his eyes. “Pay you back.”
Kaoru nods, a little too fast but he couldn’t care less, because holy shit, that almost sounded like flirting. Like, successful flirting. And Morisawa’s still cold, and Kaoru’s still worried, and Sent 2:24 flashes in his head again, but Morisawa is shrugging on the coat and maybe it’s okay for tonight.
Once he gets the coat on, he lifts the cup to his lips, taking a long, slow drink. He sighs, exhaling in a way that feels too big for his lungs, and Kaoru realizes how out of breath he’s sounded this whole time. “Hot chocolate,” he says. The warmth is tangible in his voice- Kaoru thinks this was maybe the best decision he’s ever made. “S’good. Thank you.” He sounds like he means it.
“Yeah, well…” Kaoru spreads his hands. There wasn’t really an end to that sentence. “Yeah.”
“I’ll see you soon, then?” Morisawa asks, eyeing him over the lid. “So I can pay you back.”
“Absolutely,” Kaoru says. Perhaps a little too enthusiastic- well, maybe it’s his turn to be the enthusiastic one. When Morisawa laughs, begins to turn away, Kaoru catches his elbow. “Ah- Moricchi?”
“Try not to practice too long tonight. Get some rest.”
The smile Morisawa gives him is small and fragile. It doesn’t reach his eyes. “I will,” he says in a voice that holds nothing at all.
When they part ways, Kaoru can’t help but think that he somehow managed to ruin a perfect ending to their talk. He also can’t help but think that he’s managed to acquire enough threads of worry in one night to make a whole new coat.
Morisawa pushes. He pushes, and he pushes, and he just keeps pushing. It’s like there’s something in him that won’t let him stop. Kaoru sees it- admires it, wants it, treasures it as the most powerful part of him- but he doesn’t understand what he’s actually looking at. He doesn’t know how little of it he’s seen until he realizes Morisawa doesn’t stop pushing until he breaks.
It happens on a white night. The first few flakes must have fallen around ten, but by midnight they’ve covered the ground in a blanket of snow. It’s gorgeous- snow at night under the golden glow of street lamps is a precious rarity, Kaoru thinks, a special sort of sight you don’t believe can be that beautiful until you see it for yourself. Of course it’s gorgeous. But Kaoru only knows about it at all because of a phone call.
He’d only been asleep for maybe an hour before an incessant buzzing woke him up. It sucked, for lack of a better word- he was tired, and his bed was warm, and groping around in the dark for his phone was not working to actually find it, and why wasn’t whoever was calling just hanging up already.
But the buzzing didn’t stop, and Kaoru’s hand finally made contact with his phone, so fine, whatever, he’d pick it up. “Hey,” he mutters into the phone, pressing his thumb and index finger into his eyes. “Do you...know what time it is…” Shit. He hadn’t even looked to see who called.
“ Hakaze-senpai. ”
“Eh?” Kaoru blinked at his phone, trying and failing not to blind himself. “...Adonis-kun? What’re you…”
“ I’m sorry to call you so late. ” Adonis yawned, the sound muffled over the phone, and he’s not sure if it's the speaker or Adonis himself trying to stifle it. “ Could you check in on my room to make sure Morisawa-senpai is there? ”
Kaoru blinked again. “What?”
“ I said, could you make sure- ”
“No, I heard,” Kaoru said, then, “What?”
There was the sound of shuffling, then of someone’s voice- distinctly not Adonis, and they sounded annoyed. “ I’m not at my dorm right now, and neither is Yuuki. ”
“...Are you with Koga-kun right now?”
Shuffling again, then more shuffling. “ Yes. Sorry, I forgot you can’t see me nod over the phone. We’re having a movie night. Tatsumi is here too. Sorry- that’s beside the point. ”
Kaoru turned over on his back to stare at the ceiling, eyes slowly getting more adjusted to the dark. “Okay. You want me to make sure Morisawa is there...why?”
“ He’s been leaving the room at night and coming home late. Past midnight late, I mean. ”
It’s that statement that made Kaoru actually wake up.
“He’s what? ” Kaoru cried, then winced when he remembered he doesn’t exactly live alone. He whispered the second time, cupped his hand to the phone and asked, “He’s what? Why would he do that?”
“ You tell me. ” It felt as if he could see the puzzled frown of Adonis, as if he had been right in front of him. “ We’ve tried asking him, but he always gives a different answer. I think he realized we were worried, though, ‘cause he hasn’t been going every night or anything. ”
Kaoru’s chest had constricted all at once. “You think since you’re both gone, he’ll do it again.”
An affirmative shuffle. “... Sorry. Yes. ”
“I’ll be right over.”
Opening their dorm room only confirmed the inevitable; Morisawa was gone. Kaoru scoured the room, which was stupid, because really, where could he hide in a room like this? But he searched nonetheless, to no avail. Morisawa was gone, and Kaoru had no idea where he was.
He wouldn’t. Surely that wasn't what he’d been getting up to these nights?
Another search- this time, for his bag. His jacket. His sneakers. Anything. All his workout equipment, gone. Phone, gone. And he’s such an idiot, because his thicker jacket was still there, but his track jacket was gone. Morisawa is an idiot, and Kaoru is going to kill him. He is going to grab him by the collar, drag him out of whichever damn practice room he’s in, and-
His foot had kicked something on the floor before he could continue his mental tirade.
He bent down to inspect the thing- it was small, blue and white, with a few stickers adorning the blue. Shaped like an L. An inhaler? Based on the stickers (because who else in this room would have a sticker of the red power ranger), it was Morisawa’s, but- since when did he use an inhaler? And why was he just leaving it on the ground?
All these thoughts and more are what’s running through Kaoru’s head as he opens the doors to the practice room building. If he’s lucky, Morisawa is playing his music out loud- if not, he has a lot of rooms to check.
He makes it through three different hallways before remembering that Morisawa has a favorite practice room, and Kaoru wonders if that thread of worry has started wrapping around his brain and cutting off it’s air supply.
There’s a certain feeling building up in his gut- a foreboding, awful kind of feeling, a suffocating sense of something very bad is about to happen. Kaoru wants to believe it’s only paranoia- he wants to believe that he’ll walk in to the room, see Morisawa packing up, and he’ll greet him with a cuff to the head (and maybe, if it’s truly a fantasy, a kiss to the cheek), and they’ll walk back to the dorms together and keep each other warm.
He wants this so badly he burns with it.
But as the sound of music begins to filter down the hall with no sounds of sneakers on wood or stomping of feet, Kaoru knows with a sick sort of understanding that he won’t like whatever he finds.
“Moricchi,” he calls out, walking a touch faster and trying not to run, “hey, Moricchi, I’m coming in, so be like, decent or whatever!” The joke doesn’t mask the waver in his voice.
The music is right behind this door. “Moricchi?” he calls, one more time.
And he hears- something. A faint thump, then another, and then he hears Morisawa’s voice say, “...Hakaze, what’re you…?” and that’s all he needs to throw the door open.
What he sees: Morisawa hand outstretched towards the door, eyes caught between widening in confusion and going glassy with unconsciousness.
What he feels: Fear. Fear like he’s never felt before. Fear, and anger, and relief at having made it on time. Fear.
What he does: Bound forward in one, two steps, arms outstretched, mouth open with Morisawa’s name caught in his throat the same way Morisawa is now caught in his arms.
“ Shit, ” Kaoru gasps, because Morisawa is heavy, any fainted person would be. “Fuck- Moricchi- okay...okay, okay.”
He eases them to the ground with as much grace as he can muster, which is barely any at all. With the way they’re sitting, Morisawa is sprawled across Kaoru’s lap, head pillowed right against his stomach. Still passed out. How long does a fainting spell usually last? Kaoru doesn’t know these kinds of things. He knows perfumes, and fashion trends, and the difference between a turtle and a tortoise, but he doesn’t know this.
He doesn’t know what to do.
“Moricchi,” Kaoru whispers, pressing a hand to his forehead, then to his cheeks. His hands come back slick with Morisawa’s sweat- christ, he must’ve been practicing for hours. He cradles his head gently, moving his thumbs in small circles where they sit on Morisawa’s temples.
His face is pallid, and without concealer, the purple under his eyes sticks out like ink on paper. How long has he been like this? Since the coat? The concealer? The text?
It won’t leave him alone. His fingers tangle in the hair at the nape of Morisawa’s neck, and all he can see is Sent 2:24, all he can hear is the clatter of the concealer on the floor, all he can feel is Morisawa’s hands pushing away his coat because he couldn’t stand to take it.
“You’re such an idiot, Moricchi,” Kaoru says, feeling as if the words clog his whole throat. “What’s wrong with you, huh? Why’d you do that?”
He’s talking to himself.
Just as Kaoru goes to pull his phone out to text Adonis, barely even shifting, he sees Morisawa’s eyelashes flutter. “Moricchi?” he blurts out. “Moricchi, hey. Are you waking up? Moricchi-”
“M’awake,” Morisawa groans, eyes pinched shut and teeth clenched. “M’awake, m’fine, I’m…” He opens his eyes. “...Kaoru?”
Hearing his first name come from Morisawa’s mouth sends a shiver down his spine, and he fights to keep his hands from spasming. “Hey, idiot,” Kaoru says, voice far too fond and patience far too gone to care. “God, you scared the shit out of me. You really did.”
With Morisawa’s eyes on him, half-lidded and unfocused, he realizes that it’s not past-tense. Kaoru has no idea what happened- he could be seriously ill. They might need to call an ambulance. This could all be far from over, and something is still clearly wrong, because Morisawa hasn’t said anything and he’s just staring-
“...What’re you doing here?”
Morisawa’s voice snaps him out of whatever just took hold of him. “What?” he asks, because how can that be what he’s focused on?
“This is my practice room,” Morisawa says, then furrows his brow. “Kinda. Um. What’re you doing here again?”
“You passed out, Moricchi,” Kaoru states, suddenly fed up with how Morisawa hasn’t seemed to register any sort of problem other than his presence. “I don’t know how long you’ve been here, but Adonis-kun told me to find you, and you weren’t in your dorm-”
“Otogari?” His eyes widen, and recognition dawns on his face. “Hakaze- shit. What’s-” He sits up- tries to, anyway, before letting out a keening sort of hiss and lowering himself back down. The heels of his hands press hard into his eyes, and he grits his teeth. “...Did you say I passed out?”
Kaoru nods. “What’s wrong with you,” he says, for what feels like the hundredth time this night. The waver in his voice is uncomfortably noticeable. “How long has this been going on for? Do you just faint all the time?”
Morisawa doesn’t take his hands off his face. “Please don’t yell,” he mutters.
“I’m not yelling,” he snaps. “I’m- chastising.”
No response. His hands press deeper, and despite Kaoru’s welling frustration, he resumes the gentle circles with his thumbs.
Different strategy, then. Kaoru sucks in a breath, then says, “I found your inhaler in your room.”
“Oh god,” Morisawa mutters, flattening his palms to cover his entire face. His knees draw up from their limp tangle on the floor, which Kaoru takes as a good sign. “I didn’t mean to leave it there.”
“You forgot it, then?”
“Fell out of my bag.”
He wonders if he should hand it over now- the inhaler’s in his pocket, and if he moves to get it, Morisawa might take that as him saying to get up. His hands tighten unconsciously in Morisawa’s hair at the thought. Perhaps it’s caution, or perhaps it’s selfish, but Kaoru doesn’t want him to get up yet.
“...Moricchi, please tell me what happened,” he manages to ask. “I need to know if I have to call an ambulance.”
Morisawa sighs, dropping his hands and letting his head fall to the left- it has the unintended effect of Kaoru essentially cupping his cheek (how come it’s here, now, like this that it’s his first time doing such a thing with him?). “Wanted to practice,” he sighs. “Did that. Felt kinda shitty. Sat down for a bit to get steady. Stood up…” His fingers fan out, and he makes a fwoosh sound with his breath. “That’s all I got.”
It is most certainly not the whole story- at least, not in the details of how long, how hard, how cold, how bad, but it’s enough to paint a picture. “You overworked yourself and had an attack,” he murmurs.
“No,” Morisawa says quickly, “No, I mean- fine. I didn’t have my inhaler, so yeah, that wasn’t good. But I didn’t- I’m fine. It wasn’t bad, and I don’t always need it- okay. This kind of stuff, y’know, I do it all the time. I can handle it.”
“You’re such an idiot.” Hurt blooms across Morisawa’s face, but Kaoru can’t bring himself to stop. “Have you seen yourself? You’re pushing yourself too hard. This needs to stop.”
“You are! ” Kaoru shouts, and Morisawa winces, covering his ears. He tries again, quieter. “You are. I know you like to push yourself, but, Moricchi- this is bad. Like, self-destructive kind of bad. Actively detrimental kind of bad.”
“Stop,” Morisawa pleads, “stop, okay? You don’t get it. I need to do this. I need to keep up with everybody.” He sits up, slowly easing himself into a sort of half-curled position over Kaoru’s legs. “It’s just ‘cause it’s fall. Things get worse in the fall.”
“And what happens when winter comes?” Kaoru demands.
Morisawa narrows his eyes. “I’m usually more careful. This doesn’t happen often.”
“But it has happened?”
Pointed look away. No response.
Kaoru feels sick.
“I don’t get it,” Kaoru concedes, clenching his fists on his thighs. “Why do you think this is helping?”
Beads of sweat drip down Morisawa’s face, and he raises a hand limply to wipe them off. He shrugs once, stilted and stiff. “Hard work’s gotta pay off somehow, right?”
Kaoru can’t take another second of this. “Lay back down,” he orders, taking off his coat. “Use this as a pillow. I’m going to get you some water. And,” he pauses, digging into his pocket. “Here’s your inhaler.”
“I don’t need-”
“You’re shaking,” Kaoru says, and it’s a wonder his voice comes out evenly. “Do you think you can just faint and stand up like nothing’s wrong? Lay down.”
He stares at the makeshift pillow of Kaoru’s coat for all of six seconds before lowering his head onto it. Kaoru nods, satisfied, then stands up (good god, his knees pop like an old man).
“Where’re you going?” Morisawa asks, in a voice much smaller than before.
“I’m getting you some water and a snack. There’s a vending machine right out there, you know that.” He runs a hand through Morisawa’s hair- when he decided this was allowed, he’s not sure, but Morisawa doesn’t reject him so he lets his hand linger.
His eyes slip closed and he says something under his breath.
“What’d you say, Moricchi?”
But he only shakes his head and curls up tighter.
The vending machine was stocked full of sweet and salty snacks, none of which seemed healthy but all of which seemed like they could help stop Morisawa’s hands from trembling. He ends up picking out a protein bar- from the drink machine, he picks a sports drink instead of plain water. Electrolytes are good for people who faint, right?
He also decides right before going back to bring a damp cloth (well, damp paper towel. They don’t have a bunch of spare cloth lying around). Morisawa might like it if he could clean the sweat off his face, or at least have something cool to ward off what was probably a nasty headache. That would probably be enough, right?
Re-entering the room, he almost thinks Morisawa’s asleep. It’s only after he finally turns off the music, when he places the towel on his forehead and gets a soft sigh of acknowledgement that he realizes that Morisawa is very much awake and very much refusing to look at him.
“S’good,” he says quietly, “thanks.” He opens his eyes and gazes at the food and drink with something approaching resignation, but he takes the protein bar first. As he opens it, Kaoru brushes the towel over his face, pushing his bangs back and off of his forehead. Morisawa pauses mid-bite. “You don’t need to do that.”
“You’re all gross, Moricchi. What’d I tell you that night? Working out makes you all gross.” His thumb comes to rest right under Morisawa’s eye, and it feels entirely wrong when Morisawa looks at him with a dull gaze. Maybe teasing wasn’t the right way to go- he dials it back into something softer. “Come on, Moricchi, you’re sick. I’m trying to be nice here.”
Morisawa chews the bar slowly. “M’not sick,” he says, propping himself on one elbow so he can eat without choking. “Just a little tired, that’s all.”
“Moricchi,” Kaoru says, lips pressing into a firm line, “you had an asthma attack and fainted. I think that counts as sick?”
He takes a swig of the sports drink, then sputters into a coughing fit as it clearly goes down the wrong pipe. Kaoru’s on him in an instant- patting his back, asking if he’s okay, and Morisawa bats his hands away with a halfhearted wave.
“I’m not sick.” His insistence on being stubborn would piss Kaoru off a lot more if the creeping feeling of wrongness wasn’t so suffocating. “Seriously. Once I finish this up, I need to finish practice. I’ve still got like, two hours left.”
Kaoru stares at him.
“What,” Morisawa asks.
“You can’t be serious.”
Kaoru remembers the night he saw Morisawa on the sidewalk. Coatless, cold, out of breath just from half the walk over. He thought he might kill him, then. He thought he might kiss him.
Right now, Kaoru wants to scream.
“No,” he says, feeling the way his shoulders bristle at even the suggestion. “Absolutely not.”
“Hakaze, man,” Morisawa sighs, pushing himself up further. “I really appreciate what you’re doing here, but you need to get to sleep. I’ll be fine, okay?”
Kaoru pushes him down- all the way back down, head pillowed on the coat. “You said that last time,” Kaoru breathes, “you said that every time. Is this what fine is to you, Moricchi?”
There’s a pause, a moment where Morisawa flounders, before his gaze closes off. “I can handle it,” he argues, “I’ve been handling it.”
“This is handling it?” Kaoru pushes Morisawa down again as he tries to rise up. “Staying up practicing for hours on end when you’ve already practiced the daily amount. Running yourself ragged during a season you know makes things worse for you. Fucking fainting because you were too exhausted and couldn’t breathe! And you’re handling it?”
It’s Kaoru’s turn to be out of breath. He’s panting, blood running hot, and his hands are gripping Morisawa’s shoulders too tightly. The whites of Morisawa’s eyes are turning red, and Kaoru thinks he might have gone too far.
“I,” Morisawa starts, then stops, swallows. “I don’t want you worrying about me. I don’t want anyone worrying about me.”
He loosens his grip, hanging his head to his chest. Sitting over Morisawa like this, their foreheads nearly press together. He finds that he wants to close the distance. “You’re such an idiot,” Kaoru whispers, “ this. This is exactly why people worry about you.”
“I’m doing all this so nobody has to,” Morisawa sniffs. “If I can just keep this up, then…”
“Then nothing,” Kaoru finishes for him. “You can’t keep this up. Even if you did, we’d still worry about you.”
“But- if I can’t even do this, then- I mean, then-”
Morisawa crumbles. “Then he was right! ” The distance from before is decidedly closed- Morisawa buries his head in the crook of Kaoru’s neck, winding his hands deep into the front of his shirt. At every point of contact, Kaoru feels the telltale shuddering of someone on the brink of a meltdown. “If I can’t- Kaoru, if I can’t-”
“Shit,” Kaoru says, encircling Morisawa in what he hopes is a comforting embrace. “Hey. Moricchi, it’s okay. Moricchi…” He sucks in a breath. “Chiaki.”
Morisawa’s grip on him tightens.
“It’s okay. It’s alright, yeah? It’s okay.”
“It’s not,” Morisawa chokes out, shaking his head. “If I can’t be good enough- can’t help myself- if I keep needing everyone all the- all the time, then-”
“Chiaki, please, slow down,” Kaoru asks, if only to stop him from spiralling into another attack. “What are you talking about? Who made you think all this?”
Morisawa shakes his head again. “I can’t be like them,” he whispers, “I can’t- turn a blind eye- can’t be useless-”
“You aren’t useless! Who would-”
“I need to be better.”
The severity of his tone causes Kaoru to pause- really pause, actually try and think. This kind of problem- whatever’s going on, it’s bigger than him. It’s not something he can fix in one night. It’s probably not something he can fix at all. He knows a thing or two about insecurity and self-worth issues, but it’s like looking in a funhouse mirror. All the parts are there, all the recognizable pieces, but he doesn’t know what’s making them look so different and he doesn’t know how to fit it all into place.
This is the downside of constantly pushing yourself. There’s the upside, the admirable performer who makes Kaoru’s stomach do flips on stage, and then there’s this- curled up and sobbing because of being unable to handle one thing alone one time.
Morisawa’s awake now, and he didn’t have to call an ambulance, and he still doesn’t know what to do.
“...Do you think I’m useless when I need your help?” Kaoru asks slowly, spreading his hand flat along Morisawa’s spine.
Predictably, Morisawa frowns- he can feel it on the skin of his neck. “No,” he replies. “But that’s different.”
“It- it just is.”
“Is it?” His other hand is in Morisawa’s hair- from the way he leans into the touch, he thinks it might be helping. “I don’t think it is.”
“It is. ”
Kaoru feels the way Morisawa’s beginning to tense up. If Kaoru’s not careful, he might decide he’s been helped enough and pull away. This is already clearly a lot for him. “Because you’re you and I’m me, right?”
“Yeah,” Morisawa nods, then, “Wait, why’d you say it like that?”
“You can’t always want to help people and not realize people will want to help you too, Moricchi.”
“But I don’t need-”
“You also can’t tell me it’s okay to need people, then turn around and deny yourself the same thing.”
He feels Morisawa pull his bottom lip between his teeth, biting it nervously as he balls his fists tighter. “I’m not stupid,” he mutters, “I’m not- I know what you’re saying. I know that.”
“Can you look at me?”
It’s not a request Kaoru expected to make. Clearly, Morisawa didn’t expect it either.
He shrugs, feigning nonchalance. “I want you to see that I mean it.”
It takes a few seconds, but Morisawa complies. When he pulls back, his eyes are red-rimmed and his cheeks are shining with damp streaks. He doesn’t look up, at first. His eyes stay trained on his fists in Kaoru’s shirt. Then, his gaze flicks up.
“I want you to need me,” Kaoru says, realizing very quickly he planned nothing. “I mean- I want to be able to help you like this. I’ve been worried for a long time. I wish I could’ve done something sooner.”
“I’m sorry,” Morisawa says.
“No- Chiaki, don’t apologize. Please don’t.” Morisawa’s eyes widen, as if he’s just registering now how many times Kaoru’s used his first name tonight. “I’m not trying to make you feel guilty, I’m just- I’m saying that I can stop being so worried now that I was able to help you. And I hope next time something happens, you’ll be able to trust me again.”
Morisawa hesitates. He hesitates for a long time. His breathing is deliberate, long and slow, and his hands loosen in Kaoru’s shirt without entirely letting go. When he seems to come to some sort of decision, he tips his head forward again, this time meeting Kaoru’s forehead in the middle.
“I don’t know if I can do that,” he says, and Kaoru tries not to deflate. “I don’t know. But…”
“But?” Kaoru echoes.
“...I think I’m really tired of all this.” His breath is hot against Kaoru’s lips, and his eyes are closed, long lashes resting against his cheeks. “I can...try.”
“A try is all I need,” Kaoru grins, filled with a sudden exhilaration that can only be the result of staying up too late. “Lay back down, Moricchi. Let me take care of you? I can be good at it.”
Morisawa huffs out a laugh, pulling away fully to comply with Kaoru’s request. “I’m getting taken care of, but you’re the needy one,” he teases. Kaoru lets it slide. “But, you know...ah, no. Forget it.”
“Nothing.” Except it’s clearly not nothing, and Kaoru wants to know, so he keeps staring until Morisawa relents with, “I just- I think I liked it better when you called me by my name.”
“Oh,” Kaoru says, then, “Okay- I mean, I only did that because- well, you said it first, so-”
Morisawa wrinkles his nose. “I did?”
“So...I mean, if we’re going by that, then, you know-”
“I get it,” Morizawa says, cutting him off. “Kaoru,” he adds with a grin.
Oh, no. Very bad. Dangerous, actually. It would be extremely bad if Kaoru also fainted tonight.
“You’re cute when you’re all red,” Morisawa muses, “and also, I think I have no filter right now.”
“Uh-” If he was red before, he must be quite literally alight with flame right now. “That’s- good.”
“Mhm.” His eyes are drooping, Kaoru notices. His hands are languid and limp where they lay across his chest.
Kaoru runs a hand through his hair again- he might get addicted if he gets to do this too much, he swears- and relishes the way Morisawa smiles at the contact. “You should take a nap before I take you back,” he says.
He snorts a laugh. “I think so, yeah.” Anyone would be drained after a night like this. Weeks like this, if Kaoru really thinks about it. Months? Discussion for another day.
Morisawa nods, slow and heavy, and he reaches out to grab Kaoru’s other hand. “Don’t mind?” he asks, because he’s Morisawa, still concerned about Kaoru’s comfort even now. At Kaoru’s nod, he laces their fingers together clumsily before letting their hands fall back on his chest. “M’tired,” he sighs.
“Sleep, then. I’ll be here when you wake up.”
He cracks an eye open. “Yeah?”
And he would be. Chiaki needs him, after all.