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you’re my best friend for the rest of my life (and beyond)

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Kazutora groans in frustration, crumpling yet another piece of paper and throwing it on the floor, watching with a frown as it gets lost in between many others.

Never, not even in his wildest dreams, Kazutora would have thought writing a best man speech for his best friend’s wedding would make him struggle more than the final thesis he had to defend in order to get his degree, years ago. The clock shows it’s way past midnight already, which means Chifuyu and Baji’s wedding is just a day away and Kazutora still has nothing ready to say.

He will never forget the unadulterated joy and happiness on Chifuyu’s face as he called him the morning after Baji proposed, tearing up as he showed him a familiar silver ring with a small teal gemstone that clearly matched the color of his eyes. Baji had asked for his and Takemichi’s help to choose it, and after walking around for a whole day, fighting and bickering over who knew what Chifuyu would like more, the three found the ring they all could agree was made for the younger, the same one Kazutora could see on his finger during the call.

“Do you think he will say yes?” Baji asked, uncharacteristically nervous as he toyed with the dark blue velvet box.

“You already spent a shit ton of money on that, so let’s hope he does.” Kazutora smirked, laughing when the other turned to glare at him.

“Can you for once pretend to not be an asshole?”

“I’m joking, Baji,” He sighed, sitting down next to him. “Still, if I’m being honest, I don’t see the point in this thing, what you two have is way stronger than marriage.”

“I know,” Baji said, smiling slightly. “But I’m not asking Chifuyu to marry me with our past or future lives in mind, despite the bond our souls have, I want this to be a bond only the present me and him have.”

“Mhm, I think I get what you mean,” Kazutora grinned, wondering how Baji could work such cool words sometimes. “Don’t worry, Chifuyu’s answer is a given.”

“Does this mean I finally have your blessing?”

“You’re never getting it.”

Baji had already got his blessing the moment Kazutora first saw Chifuyu smile because of him.

It wasn’t a surprise when Chifuyu asked Kazutora to be his best man, but he still felt honored as he accepted the invitation. He remembers sitting down on that same day, ready to pour the words into the paper and write the best speech in the history of wedding speeches, and yet, as nothing came to his mind, Kazutora just shrugged, not wishing to force it and imagining it would happen naturally.

That was almost a year ago, and now, the wedding is tomorrow.

Kazutora has a lot to say, that’s not the problem. The problem is that he doesn’t know how to convey everything he wants to tell the younger in mere words. Chifuyu is not just his best friend, but the person Kazutora loves and looks up to the most in the world, for everything he was, is and will always be, and that’s why he won’t accept anything less than what Chifuyu deserves to hear.

“What did the paper do to you?”

The groggy voice breaks Kazutora’s train of thoughts, making him look up at his roommate, who’s rubbing his eyes tiredly as he sits next to him on the couch.

Mikey and Kazutora have been sharing an apartment since Chifuyu and Baji moved in together, almost 5 years ago. He never expected Mikey to be the one coming up to him, suggesting they looked for a place of their own, laughing as he said he had a feeling they would be great roommates. He honestly thought the guy would live with one of his brothers, or maybe alone, but he only shrugged after Kazutora told him that much, assuring the idea had been on his mind for a while already. As time went by and they found the perfect place for themselves, settling in as if they had been sharing each other’s space their whole lives, Kazutora was happy and glad Mikey considered him as an option.

“Sorry,” He sighs, leaning back. “Did I wake you up?”

“Not really,” Mikey yawns. “What are you doing?”

“Well, nothing.” Kazutora mumbles, turning away from his friend.

Mikey stares at him before reaching for the paper Kazutora was holding just now, eyes scanning the words written on it for a few seconds. Kazutora doesn’t say anything else, only looking up at the ceiling as he waits for the other to be done.

“You still don’t know what to say?” The shorter finally asks.

“I guess not,” He admits. “Maybe I should just get drunk and say whatever comes to mind at the time.”

Kazutora catches Mikey’s small frown, but he knows the black haired doesn’t really understand why he’s having so much trouble with this. Baji had also chosen Mikey as his best man, and as far as Kazutora knows, his roommate’s speech has been ready for months. He runs a hand through his hair, wincing at the knots in between his fingers. Mikey scoots closer to him and Kazutora doesn’t even blink when he feels a weight on his shoulder and something soft tickling his cheek, already used to Mikey’s sudden clingy side at unexpected times.

“Chifuyu is going to kick your ass if you do that,” Mikey says. “I told you, you can look through mine if you want.”

“And I told you, I don’t want it to be a cheap copy or rewritten version,” Kazutora rolls his eyes. “He’s a pain in the ass, but Chifuyu deserves a lot more than that.”

“I thought you would have it ready on the same day he asked you.”

“Yeah,” He mutters embarrassed. “Me too.”

Mikey hums, seeming to be thinking hard about something. The two men stay in silence for another few minutes, and as the clock keeps ticking, Kazutora resigns himself to the situation, ready to go to bed and maybe try again later. He shakes Mikey off his shoulder, stretching his arms and sighing when he hears some bones crackling, only now noticing how tense he had been this whole time.

“I think I will jus–”

“I’m going to make us some tea.” Mikey cuts him off.

“Eh?” Kazutora raises an eyebrow.

“You’re getting it done today,” The other stands up. “And I will help you since I’m a great friend, so sit down and wait a bit.”

“Mikey, the–”

The black haired waves him off, heading for their small kitchen and leaving Kazutora by himself on the couch. He can’t help but snort as he watches Mikey, knowing there’s no way to talk him out of it now that he’s quite set on the idea.

There’s a mug being placed in front of him a moment later, and Mikey sits back down next to him. Kazutora welcomes the warmth from the drink, quietly thanking the other for it. He has no clue how Mikey plans to help him exactly, and his roommate gives nothing off, sipping contentedly on his tea while talking about something he and Draken did earlier at Shinichiro’s bike shop.

He places the mug back on the table once he’s done, Mikey doing the same, and waits to see what the shorter is planning to do now. His friend seems to contemplate something for a bit before smiling and leaning back on the couch.

“How did you and Chifuyu meet?”

“Huh?” Kazutora tilts his head. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“Just trust me,” Mikey whines, kicking his leg. “Now talk.”

“Okay, okay,” He laughs, patting the other’s thigh. “I met him when I was 8, I had just moved in with my parents after the adoption process was finished.”

“Was it hard?” The black haired asks.

“Yeah,” Kazutora shrugs. “But just for a while.”

The first years of Kazutora’s childhood weren’t the kindest ones. He can easily recall most of it, and he’s glad that it doesn’t pain him to do so. Back then, Kazutora felt scared for a long time, but he knows that if his little self could look at him now, he wouldn’t be so afraid of the long road ahead of him.

The process itself took almost a year to be completed, and so, three months after his eighth birthday, Kazutora went to live with his foster parents, a gentle and kind couple who already loved him a lot. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the adoption process also ended up taking most of the time Kazutora should have spent at school, which meant that, for his sake, it would be better to repeat the year. At first, his parents had decided to let him settle in and get used to the new environment, but to their surprise, Kazutora was the one excitedly asking if he could go back to school, eager to finally make a friend, maybe, if he was lucky.

He wasn’t prepared to be met with mean stares, looking at him as if he shouldn’t be there, snickers and whisperings, wondering what an older kid was doing in their class when the school year was about to end. He didn’t want to worry his parents once they picked him up, who hopefully asked about his day, so Kazutora smiled, saying he didn’t make any friends, but all the kids were nice to him.

Secretly, he was hoping there would be some truth to his words, with time.

His first week went on without much interaction, but then, by the end of the second one, a group of boys approached him, curious about him. Kazutora felt happy, and maybe, that was why he didn’t notice the malice behind their motives, only realizing they were not there to be his friends once the kids started laughing after he mentioned he had moved to live with his foster parents. He didn’t know at the time, but when kids wanted to be mean to someone, even something as simple as that little fact he had told them, could be a reason to taunt a person.

Kazutora tried to dismiss their words most times, first, because it didn’t bother him as much as the boys thought it did, he loved his parents, and second, because as long as they didn’t get physical, he didn’t see a reason to fight back.

On a particular day, they seemed to be set on getting a reaction out of him. Their whispers were louder than ever, and all the snickering hurt Kazutora’s eardrums. He was getting fed up with them, but to his horror, he felt tears clinging to his eyes the more the boys standing at the desk next to his went on with their insults.

Little did Kazutora know, someone else was also fed up with said kids.

Kazutora was startled when he heard a loud noise, belatedly noticing the whole class was silent. His eyes widened once they fell on the desk that was knocked over, the boy that was sitting on it also on the ground, while the other two seemed to be in shock. Someone clicked their tongue and Kazutora looked up to see a blond kid, the one with the pierced ear that was always alone, lowering his leg and nudging the bully with his foot, using much less strength than his kick had.

“Shut your mouth, all your yapping is annoying me,” The blond scowled at the three boys who were now staring at him wide eyed. “Picking on the new kid for no reason other than to make yourself feel better? Talk about pathetic,” He smirked. “Not everyone is a spoiled brat like you, leave him alone.”

The blond turned, presumably to walk back to his own desk since their break was over, but not before looking at Kazutora once, who froze on the spot as the blue eyed boy stared at him with a tinge of worry and curiosity, real, childlike curiosity.

“Don’t let people talk to you like that, ignoring them won’t magically solve it.”  

He couldn’t do anything other than nod, watching as he walked away.

“Why didn’t you tell me that he knew Matsuno?”

“Chifuyu doesn’t have any friends, how was I supposed to know?”

“Stop saying his name, he’s looking over here.”

That was how Hanemiya Kazutora met Matsuno Chifuyu.

He was drawn to Chifuyu’s presence after the incident, and just like that, 8 year old Kazutora decided they were going to be friends. Best friends.

Kazutora was determined, but he only needed a day to realize that feat would be a little harder than it looked like. Chifuyu wasn’t the most approachable kid, he was always alone and there wasn’t much that seemed to interest him, and Kazutora was convinced no 7 year old was supposed to frown like that at everything and all the time. His eyes followed him around class at first, and then around the school, trying to learn the best way to start a conversation with him, quickly hiding in a corner or a behind a trashcan whenever Chifuyu turned around.

It was a month later when Kazutora curiously trailed after the blond boy once class was over, blinking in surprise as he entered a pet shop around Kazutora’s neighborhood, expression changing as he picked an orange cat and laughing as an old man ruffled his hair. Kazutora went home with a smile on his face that day, not only because he knew what to talk to Chifuyu about, but also because it made him happy to know he had a place where he could drop that closed off persona.

The next day, Kazutora was standing right in front of the pet shop, peeking inside through the glass, but not seeing Chifuyu anywhere. He told himself some encouraging words, knowing that if he really wanted to become Chifuyu’s friend and be one of the few selected people that the younger boy could be comfortable with, he had to take the first step. He took a deep breath then, ready to go inside.

He hoped with all his heart Chifuyu wouldn’t chase him away.

“Can I help you?” Kazutora yelped as he heard the question, turning around with a hand on his chest, trying to hide his surprise as Chifuyu stared at him. “What are you doing here, new kid?”

That was his chance, he just had to find the right way to start their friendship.

“I followed you.” He tried.

“And you say that like a creep?” Chifuyu asked, but there was no real malice behind his words, which comforted Kazutora.

“I’m not a creep, I just wanted to talk to you,” He pouted. “I like dogs.”

“I like dogs too, but I prefer cats,” The blond scratched his neck with a small laugh. “Do you, um, want to come inside to see them, maybe?”  

Kazutora eagerly nodded, following the younger inside as he took him to what looked like a nursery, showing him all the newborns in there. Time passed without Kazutora even realizing, he was elated to be talking to Chifuyu, or more like listening, as he told him a few facts about the small animals. After a while, the old man he saw the day prior, who he learned was the younger’s grandpa and owner of the pet shop, found them, looking at Kazutora with a surprised but happy smile as he stood next to Chifuyu, telling him to come back whenever he wanted.

“Are we friends now?” Kazutora looked at him hopefully as they left.

“No,” Chifuyu answered easily, turning to him with a smirk. “I don’t even know you, you could still be a creep, new kid.”

“It’s Kazutora.”

“I know.” The blond laughed.

“I’ll make you say it.” He huffed.

Chifuyu was stubborn, but Kazutora was just as persistent.

He seemed reluctant, but as they spent time together, the younger slowly started to let his guard down. It didn’t matter if it was at school, or at the pet shop, the blond welcomed him every time they found each other, and Kazutora was over the moon. He finally saw past his walls, and he was dumbfounded. He couldn’t help but wonder why Chifuyu refused to show that side of him that smiled when his grandpa praised him for a job well done, or laughed at silly things, like Kazutora squealing when a dog bite his finger. He was a cool kid that knew how to fight, a fun guy to talk to and a caring person that wanted the best for everyone he loved, and to Kazutora, that was everything anyone could ever want in a friend.

“The more people I keep close, the more people I will have to watch walk away.”

There was a deeper meaning to Chifuyu’s words, something unusual for someone his age to feel and fear, and something Kazutora didn’t think he could fully understand, but that he already wished to assure it wouldn’t happen to them.

“Not everyone will, Chifuyu.” He smiled, hoping his words had the desired effect once Chifuyu blinked at him in surprise.

The two boys only grew closer, even with Chifuyu’s refusal to call him by his name or admit they were friends, but Kazutora was working hard on that.

Till the day it finally happened.

Kazutora and Chifuyu were heading to pet shop after school, as they did on most days, when they heard a quiet sound coming from an alley, deciding to investigate it, like the two kids they were. There was a small box on the ground, where the sound was coming from, and once they saw a yellow cat jumping out, their eyes widened, shining in excitement because they knew exactly what was in there.

Once said cat left, they peeked inside the box, not surprised to find three kittens there, but still smiling fondly at them. Chifuyu lightly punched his shoulder, saying they should leave before the mother came back, but Kazutora ignored the warning, picking one of them up just as they heard a loud hiss, catching that same yellow and another two big cats looking at them as if they just committed a crime.

Kazutora had time to place the kitten back on the box before one of the adults jumped on him, making him immediately fall to the ground as he screamed in surprise. Chifuyu tried to help, but then, he was also being attacked by the other two. He pulled at Kazutora’s uniform, yelling at him to get up as the cats seemed to take a break, grabbing his hand and running before the “fight” could start again.

“I told you to not pick them up, stupid!” Chifuyu screamed again while they were still running.

“Sorry,” Kazutora said, laughing as he looked at their dirty clothes and scratched up limbs. “But that was fun!”

“Your definition of fun is as weird as you are!” The younger shook his head, but Kazutora could see his smile from behind.

Chifuyu’s grandparents laughed when they saw the two boys smiling sheepishly in front of the pet shop trying to explain what happened.

“We should go back there tomorrow.” Kazutora suddenly said, as they cleaned themselves.

“Why?” Chifuyu asked.

“To give them some food,” Kazutora smiled. “They looked like a family, didn’t they? The mother, the father, the fat uncle and the three kids.”

He didn’t see the fond smile that grew on Chifuyu’s lips, but he heard the gentle laugh that seemed to surprise even his grandparents as he looked at Kazutora.

“Yeah, let’s do that,” The younger agreed. “I’m glad we’re friends, Tora.”

“Did you just...?” Kazutora’s eyes widened before he felt a lump on his throat, jumping on Chifuyu’s back as he hugged the younger. “You finally said it, Fuyu!”

“Wha– get off!”

“Dear, the camera, now!” Chifuyu’s grandma gasped, making her stunned husband run to get it.

“Why?” Chifuyu asked, trying to shake Kazutora off his shoulders.

“Kazutora-kun is your first friend, Chifuyu, we’re just... really happy.”

“Don’t say it like that!”

“Send me a copy, grandma!” Kazutora laughed, still hanging off the blond. “He’s my first friend too.”

He smiled down at Chifuyu, who only shook his head exasperated, clearly trying to hold back a smile of his own.

“You’re never getting rid of me now.” Kazutora smirked.

“As if I would let you leave.” Chifuyu laughed.

In almost 20 years, the thought has never once crossed Kazutora’s mind.

“That’s cute,” Mikey laughs. “I can’t believe you were attacked by stray cats.”

“Shut up,” Kazutora groans. “That was so embarrassing.”

“If it helps, me and Baji became friends after I pushed him from the jungle gym at the playground.” The shorter smirks.

“Why did you do that?” He snorts.

“Why not?” Mikey shrugs. “I had to see if he was worthy of my friendship.”

“I’m glad all it took for me to pass your test was making fun of Baji.”

“It was a special one for you,” The black haired snickers. “Anyway, how do you feel remembering all that?”

“Great,” Kazutora laughs. “I always felt like Chifuyu was that one gift you only get once, but that nothing could ever top it. I was convinced everything that happened in my life was a blessing, if somehow it led me to him,” He shakes his head. “Chifuyu was my first friend and the reason I forgot what being alone felt like.”

“Okay, now write all this mushy shit down,” Mikey urges with a grin. “That’s how you’re starting your speech.”

Kazutora stared at Mikey for a second before his eyes widened in understanding. His roommate bursts out laughing as he stumbles, reaching for a new paper and writing down word by word, a pleased smirk on his lips as every thought is finally being let out in a way that leaves Kazutora feeling satisfied and quite proud.

He looks down at the sheet, its first two paragraphs bringing a smile to his lips as he turns to Mikey, who also has a smile on his face.

“Didn’t I tell you to trust me?” The black haired says smugly.

“Do you want me to kneel and thank you?” Kazutora stifles a laugh.

“I would actually like that,” Mikey taps his chin, pretending to be considering it. “But I’ll think of something once we’re done.”

“Go on with your plan then, your highness.” He rolls his eyes.

Mikey pouts, punching his shoulder lightly before laying down on the couch, throwing his feet on Kazutora’s lap. He raises an eyebrow at the other, but doesn’t move it away, waiting for him to get comfortable enough before continuing.

“Did the guys at school leave you alone?” Mikey finally asks.

“Not really, Chifuyu would get into a fight every time he heard them mentioning my name,” He shakes his head. “He was really protective, but he also helped me learn to defend myself, after that, we both would get into trouble together.”

“It sounds like he was a menace,” Mikey grins. “He has mellowed out now.”

“He was, he always looked like he was having a great time beating those punks up,” Kazutora chuckles, but the sound dies down as something else comes to his mind. “When he fought for fun and with a smile on his face, it was all good.”

He knows Mikey can sense the somber timbre in his voice, dark eyes falling on Kazutora’s hands as he unconsciously fiddles with the hem of his pants.

“What happened to him?” The black haired probs but has a slightly suspicion of what the answer will be. “Was it...?”

“Yeah,” Kazutora smiles sadly. “His dad passed away.”

After that day with the stray cats, Kazutora and Chifuyu became inseparable. Everything they did, they did it together, and one was rarely seen without the other. Their hangouts were not restricted to only the school or the pet shop anymore, and the two boys could even be honorary residents to the Hanemiya and Matsuno households with how much time they spent at each other’s houses.

Kazutora already loved Chifuyu’s grandparents, and the old couple treated him like he was the second grandson their never had. His parents only needed to take one look at Chifuyu to fall in love with him, and after overcoming his initial awkwardness, the blond was calling them ‘aunt’ and ‘uncle’. Kazutora could admit he was afraid of Chifuyu’s mother. His best friend had her hair and the same blue eyes, but the warmth Kazutora always saw in Chifuyu, didn’t seem to come from the woman. She wasn’t rude and it wasn’t the lack of friendliness that made Kazutora fidget around her, rather, it was her indifference towards Chifuyu, making it seem like she was just a cold mother that could barely stand her son.

Despite it, when Kazutora met Chifuyu’s father, he felt like he was in the presence of the coolest adult he would ever come across. It wasn’t hard to understand why the younger’s eyes shined with pride whenever he was around his dad or talked about him. Akio was not only a kind but also welcoming man, and Kazutora found it incredibly easy to be around him. He would be the one covering for him and Chifuyu whenever the two would cause trouble, laughing fondly when they tried to explain themselves. He smiled often, and always had a piece of advice ready for them, some of which Kazutora would carry for the rest of his life, or some story to entertain the kids as they listened to him with stars in their eyes.

“I’m glad Chifuyu has you, Kazutora-kun.” Chifuyu’s dad smiled down at him and Kazutora couldn’t help but laugh.

“I’m glad I have him too, Akio-san, trust me.” The 11 year old answered, a canine missing, having fallen out just a week before.

“Mhm,” The man hummed, ruffling Kazutora’s hair. “I hope you two never lose this bond.”

“We won’t!” Kazutora yelled determined, making the older burst out laughing. “I’ll make sure of it.”

“Thank you, kid.”

It was maybe a year or so later when Chifuyu’s dad last took them to a park. The three played together for a while, running around as they laughed at everything and nothing at all. Suddenly, the man stopped, declaring he was sporting a headache, but urging him and Chifuyu to keep having fun as he watched, promising he just needed a little rest to get back the energy they robbed from him.

“Kazutora,” Chifuyu called. “Do you think father looks a bit weird lately?”

“Maybe he’s just really tired?” Kazutora tried, but he agreed with the younger.

“Yeah,” Chifuyu gulped, eyes not moving from his father. “Maybe.”

Kazutora would never forget his mother’s wide eyes as she woke him up in the middle of the night, saying they had just gotten a call from Chifuyu’s grandpa. He would never forget how his stomach dropped or the way his eyes filled with tears when he understood what happened, chest hurting when he imagined Chifuyu sitting alone and scared in a hospital waiting room, getting the news that the person he loved the most in the world had just passed away from a brain tumor discovered too late. Kazutora knew the picture of a 11 year old Chifuyu, who was just a few weeks away from turning 12, standing there in the middle of a cold corridor, looking smaller than ever as he stared at a door in confusion, a big, red scarf wrapped securely around his neck, would be burned into his mind forever.

Blue eyes seemed to ask Kazutora for an escape as they locked into his, and before he knew it, he felt something strong colliding into him and hands gripping the back of his hoodie as if trying to find something to ground themselves. The first sob reached his ears, and Kazutora knew then, he was experiencing for the first time what it felt to have your heart broken as Chifuyu cried in his arms.

“He’s gone, Tora,” Chifuyu mumbled incoherently. “He left.”

Kazutora was reminded of something Chifuyu told him long ago, something about having to watch all those he was close to walking away at some point, and he wished with all his heart he could comfort the younger and assure that wasn’t true, but he knew nothing he said right now would have any effect on him.

“You’ll be okay, Fuyu, I promise,” He whispered instead, tears of his own trailing down his cheeks. “I’m really sorry.”

The door the blond was just watching suddenly opened, and both boys turned to see Chifuyu’s mother coming out of the room, looking nervous as she sat down with her head in her hands. Chifuyu took a few careful steps till he was in front of her, making it seem like he was dealing with a scared animal instead of his mom.

“Mom...” Chifuyu swallowed, trying to reach for the woman with a trembling hand. “Are yo–”

“Not now, Chifuyu,” She rubbed her temples, standing up without sparing her son a glance. “Go find your grandparents or someone else to bother.”

Chifuyu recoiled, whole body shaking as he seemed to hold back the urge to cry in front of her. Kazutora watched as she walked out and before he could call out to the younger again, he ran away, sobs finally falling past his lips. He frowned, his mind screaming to go after his best friend, but his heart hammering in anger as he took the same steps Chifuyu’s mother had just taken, following her out.

He found her leaning against the wall, peacefully looking at the sky as if she hadn’t just dismissed Chifuyu like he was nothing to her, and Kazutora saw red.

“Why are you doing this to him?” Kazutora spat angrily, fed up with the woman’s act towards his best friend.

“What are you doing he–”

“He needs you,” He breathed heavily, frustrated tears falling from his eyes. “So why can’t you act like his mother for once?!”

“Don’t spout nonsense, kid,” She squinted her eyes. “Neither you nor Chifuyu understand shit.”

“I understand that my best friend just lost his father,” Kazutora hissed. “And apparently, he never had a mother to begin with.”

“Annoying brat,” The woman shook her head before fixing a glare on Kazutora, something heavy in her eyes that sent shivers down his spine. “He was just the first, what are you going to do when your ‘best friend’ is the next, huh?”

Kazutora laughed incredulous, he didn’t fully understand her, nor did he wish to.

“As if I would let him leave.” He answered, watching her eyes widen for a second before she turned away.

“Get out of my sight.” She sighed.

“I’ll be his family,” Kazutora sniffled, wiping away the snot from his face. “And he’ll keep meeting amazing people who’ll also be his family, and we’re never going to abandon Chifuyu. He won’t need you.” He said angrily, turning to walk back in.

“I hope so too.”

He heard her, but he didn’t look back. Kazutora didn’t want to tell Chifuyu about the confrontation with his mother, and once he found the younger sitting with his grandparents and Kazutora’s parents, cheeks red and silent tears still falling from his swollen eyes, that was thrown to the back of his mind, instead focusing on using all his energy to comfort and help his best friend get back on his feet.

Kazutora didn’t have a manual to follow, but he still tried his best to show he was there for the younger no matter what. Chifuyu seemed to have disconnected from the world, and he would often catch his best friend staring at nothing, eyes empty and face buried in the red scarf he refused to take off from his neck. The same scarf Kazutora learned his dad gave him just before going to the hospital.

Just weeks later, Chifuyu turned 12. Kazutora tried to congratulate him, thanking the younger for being born, but he only blinked in surprise, a small ‘oh’ falling past his lips before he admitted he didn’t even remember it was his birthday. There was a lump in his throat at the sad smile lingering on Chifuyu’s face through the day, nodding whenever someone wished him a happy birthday, but not seeming as happy to be there as others were. Chifuyu headed to an empty house that night, looking completely drained, and Kazutora cried all the way back home.

Months went by, and before they knew it, the two boys were in middle school. Slowly, discreetly, Kazutora was able to see Chifuyu laugh, albeit quietly and weakly, and smile timidly whenever something good happened, and that warmed his heart more than anything. It wasn’t the same, but it was still progress.

It wasn’t a secret that Chifuyu’s mom would usually disappear for weeks after her husband’s passing, leaving her son to fend for himself. That was far from being an ideal situation, but Kazutora, his parents and Chifuyu’s grandparents were there to help him, and he was so glad to see Chifuyu trusting and relying on them.

Until they were suddenly taking a hundred steps back.

Both boys were heading for the younger’s house after school, talking about their upcoming exams. Kazutora managed to steal a few smiles from Chifuyu, who found quite funny the way the older kept whining about how he had already accepted he would fail everything. Chifuyu’s house quickly came into view, and Kazutora wished he had noticed the weird paper pinned to the entrance at the same time the younger did. The way Chifuyu froze, breathing seeming to halt as he stared at the paper, was the first indication that something was wrong, and when the blond didn’t answer once he called his name, Kazutora peeked at what he was holding, the words ‘Eviction Notice’ making his heart stop for a second.

“She sold the house,” Chifuyu’s voice was even, but Kazutora could see his hands trembling. “My mom sold the house I grew up in without a word,” He laughed humorlessly. “This is a great way to tell me she fucked off for good.”

“Chifu–”

“Not even my parents stayed,” The younger crumpled the paper angrily, shoving it inside his bag. “I don’t know why I even bother.”

“Hey, calm down,” Kazutora gulped, feeling like someone had just punched him in the gut as he heard the resignation in Chifuyu’s voice, growing worried as the younger kept shaking, chest heaving up and down as if breathing was becoming an arduous chore. “Chifuyu, le– let’s sit down, please.”

“Why?” Chifuyu shook his head. “Fuck everything, I’m so fucking tired, Kazutora.”

Kazutora touched Chifuyu’s shoulders, only then noticing his own hands were also shaking. His best friend didn’t protest or tried to push him away as Kazutora pulled him to himself wordlessly, holding the back of his head as he let the younger hide his face in the crook of his neck. Chifuyu didn’t shed a single tear, and at this point, Kazutora wondered if he even had any left.

Why was he being put through so much pain?

“It’ll be okay, Chifuyu,” Kazutora whispered, but the other didn’t give any sign he heard or cared. “Just breathe for now, okay? We’ll figure it out.”

He moved in with his grandparents the following week.

There was a shift in the younger after his mother left, and as much as he tried to pretend, everyone around him could notice the abrupt change. It was something dark, something that made his eyes lose all the warmth they had, and his smile turn into a wicked grin that Kazutora feared. It wasn’t just sadness anymore.

Chifuyu was seething with anger at everything and everyone.

Kazutora always loved to watch the younger in a fight, not only Chifuyu was a force of nature when he was defending something or someone he loved, but it was mesmerizing to see the triumphant smile on his face and the way his eyes shined as he did so. However, that boy was gone and what replaced him made bile rise to Kazutora’s throat every time. Chifuyu didn’t get into fights because he felt the need to protect anything, but simply because he wanted to hurt something. It became a vicious circle, and almost every day the younger would appear with a busted lip, a black eye, knuckles bloodied and clothes dirty and crumpled. On worst days, his injuries left him dizzy, the blood trickling down his head and the limp on his leg making Kazutora wonder if Chifuyu was trying to get himself killed.

There was a tinge of satisfaction whenever Chifuyu looked a bit remorseful as he was scolded by the elderly couple, but that quickly faded away once Kazutora caught the younger stirring up trouble with any available thug on the next day.

The situation was ugly, and it was scary, and Kazutora was so worried about him. He didn’t know where Chifuyu wanted to go with all of this or even if he had a goal and asking him already proved to be pointless as the blond only waved him off, begging Kazutora to not get caught up in whatever he was doing. Kazutora tried, really tried, to respect Chifuyu’s wish, but as time went by, he couldn’t help but grow tired of lurking around, watching his best friend, the one person he grew to love and respect more than anything, go down such a dark path like that.

It all finally blew up one afternoon, when Kazutora was looking for Chifuyu after skipping, so the two could head to the pet shop together, but the boy was nowhere to be found. He tried to go back to their class, getting from their classmates that Chifuyu had left half an hour ago, after some older students came looking for him. Kazutora ran out of the building in a hurry, knowing nothing good came out of Chifuyu’s fights with bigger kids. Luckily, he didn’t have to go far to find the other boy, hearing a commotion coming from some alley just a block away from school.

Kazutora felt a shiver run down his spine at the scene that greeted him, stomach dropping as he watched some guy pressing Chifuyu to a wall, an arm raised and a brick in his hand, ready to strike the blond with it. His sudden scream alerted the two, but before the older kid could react, Kazutora was already punching him with all the strength he could muster, letting him join the other two boys Chifuyu had already knocked out. The brick hit the ground with a loud thud and Chifuyu’s body slid down the wall as he huffed a laugh, wiping away the blood from his mouth and temple with his sleeve. He looked up at Kazutora as if he was annoyed to see him cutting his ‘fun’ short, standing up with difficult before glaring at him.

“I told you to not get involved.”

He felt the vein on his tremble throbbing, and that, was when Kazutora reached his limit with Chifuyu’s bullshit.

Chifuyu probably never expected Kazutora’s punch, and if he was being honest, Kazutora never expected to do it either. The younger stumbled, but he held him by the collar of his uniform, shaking in anger. Chifuyu looked incredulous, but before he could say anything, Kazutora pushed him, back hitting the wall again.

“You’re so full of shit,” Kazutora spat. “What do you want to gain from this other than worrying everyone that cares about you, huh?”

“Shut up.” The younger hissed, but Kazutora still had more to say.

“No, you shut the fuck up,” He squinted his eyes. “I get that you’re in pain and that you’re still grieving, Chifuyu, but pushing us away, getting yourself hurt and hurting other people in your mess is not the right way to solve this.”

“You don’t get it.”

“Then help me understand it!”

Kazutora never expected Chifuyu to hit him either, but there they were. The two best friends frowned at each other for a moment, one in worry and the other in misplaced anger. Kazutora didn’t know who moved first, but not even a second later they were throwing punches and kicks at each other, both trying to get their point across. There was a lot of screaming, but none of them were coherent enough to make any sense. At some point, Kazutora tried to stop Chifuyu by holding him in an awkward hug, head on his stomach as Chifuyu tried to break away from it by pulling at his hair and hitting his back. Neither noticed the brick from earlier, but when Chifuyu tripped on it, both were sent to the ground.

Kazutora and Chifuyu had never had physical fight like that before, but when they finally stopped, trying to catch their breath while laying side by side, Kazutora thought maybe, at least now, this was the only way to make Chifuyu talk to him.

“I just want to feel something other than this heavy shit crushing my chest,” The younger finally said in a quiet voice. “I don’t want to worry anyone, but literally anything, any kind of physical pain is better than what I’m feeling right now.”

Kazutora turned his head to look at Chifuyu, seeing tears clinging to his eyes, slowly falling as they mixed themselves with the dirty and blood on Chifuyu’s face.

It was the first time Chifuyu cried since his mother left.

“I know, Chifuyu,” Kazutora breathed out. “I know it hurts, but this is not helping you, you’re just giving yourself a temporary problem to ignore a bigger one.”

“I need these walls to stop closing in on me all the time, Kazutora,” Chifuyu sat up and Kazutora followed him. “I need to know there’s more to me than this stupid and paralyzing fear that all of you are going to disappear on me one day.”

“Chifuyu,” He held his face gently, a contrast to what happened minutes prior. “Listen to me, your dad loves you and he always will no matter where he is. I really doubt he would leave if wasn’t sure you would be okay without him.”

“I miss him,” The blond sobbed. “I miss him more than anything and I don’t know what to do without him yet.”

“That’s okay, let it all out.”

“And I want to hate my mom for what she did, but it doesn’t feel right, I just feel empty, and I still love her despite everything.” Chifuyu hiccupped and Kazutora gave up on trying to brush his tears away. “I’m sorry for all the shit I put everyone through till now, I just don’t know how to let out everything I’m feeling.”

“It’s okay,” He promised, Chifuyu was far from being okay, but this was the first step to get there. “I can’t promise you people won’t leave again, and it’s okay to fear it, but for all that matters, I can promise to stay here till you get tired of me.”

“Thank you, Kazutora.” Chifuyu whispered, tears finally ceasing.

“Your face is too pretty to keep ruining it with all these fights,” Kazutora smiled, delighted to hear the small laugh that escaped Chifuyu’s busted lips. “And we’re going to that aquarium trip next week, let your bruises heal till then.”

“I can try.”

For Kazutora, at that moment, that was enough.

The boys finally got up, wincing slightly now that the adrenaline was finally wearing down, and they could feel the effects of all those blows they exchanged. Chifuyu snickered, calling Kazutora weak, and the older grinned, telling the blond they would have a lot of explaining to do later. The walk back was filled with a comfortable silence, and Kazutora knew Chifuyu still had a lot to think about.

“Tora,” Chifuyu suddenly called him, and it made Kazutora smile to hear the warm and childish tone he loved back in his voice. “You think I have a pretty face?”

“Fuck off, Fuyu.” He laughed.

From then on, things gradually got better, and Kazutora rolls his eyes, thanking Baji for that.

“Give yourself a little more credit,” Mikey tells him, an easy smile on his lips. “That meeting changed both of their lives, but Chifuyu wouldn’t have gotten through all of that without you either, Kazutora.”

“I know,” He laughs. “He needs a bit of tough love sometimes.”

“He and Baji are alike in that aspect,” The other shakes his head. “I still can’t believe you confronted Chifuyu’s mother.”

“Yeah,” Kazutora sighs, looking up at the ceiling again. “Not my proudest moment, but she really pissed me off that day.”

“I would have done the same,” Mikey assures. “Chifuyu didn’t deserve to be treated like that.”

“She was weird from the start, it was like she wasn’t in touch with reality or wasn’t from here,” He admits. “I don’t even think Akio-san understood her most times.”

For a long while, Kazutora had kept that exchange with Chifuyu’s mom locked, forgotten some place in his memories, and it wouldn’t be until a few years ago that it would come back to the front of his mind. Back then, he didn’t understand what she meant by saying his best friend was the next, but when he saw Chifuyu laying on a hospital bed, in a coma, her words were all he could think about.

“You know, what she told you… didn’t it seem like she was kind of predicting something?”

By the troubled look on Mikey’s face, Kazutora knows he must be thinking the same and connected the dots already.

“You mean Chifuyu’s accident?” Kazutora asks, not needing a verbal response to confirm it. “I thought about what she said all the time when it happened.”

“But she got it wrong.”

“And I will always thank Baji for it,” He sighs. “But let’s not go there, this always gives me a headache.”

Mikey hums, stretching his arms behind his head, a long yawn escaping his lips. The scene makes Kazutora think of Aka, Baji and Chifuyu’s cat, and he can’t help but laugh as he tells that much to the black haired, already expecting the socked foot on his cheek, trying to push him away. Mikey’s whines fall on deaf ears, and Kazutora holds his ankle to stop him from moving, placing it back on his lap.

“Their cat does nothing but sleep all day, I work hard to maintain our house,” Mikey rolls his eyes. “And I’m cuter than him.”

“That can be debatable.” Kazutora snickers, the sound quickly turning into a groan when the other kicks his stomach.

“Only a cat could take that old rag from Baji,” The black haired huffs, referring to the red scarf the cat has been using as a bed since he went home with the couple.

“And only Baji could take it from Chifuyu.”

“Did he really not care?” Mikey asks curiously. “I mean, he faints, wakes up with no recollection of what happened, and the scarf gone, isn’t that suspicious?”

“He was surprised, that’s for sure,” He smiles. “But he didn’t seem worried, not even for a second. It was like a weight had been finally taken from his shoulders after that, and it was the first time I saw him genuinely, truly smiling in a long while. I didn’t know what happened that day, but I knew I would be forever grateful to it for giving back to my best friend that light he lost somewhere along the way.”

“He gave Baji a purpose, so I guess I was thankful for him too,” Mikey’s voice is fond as he looks at Kazutora. “They’re a damn cliché, aren’t they?”

“You can’t be realizing that now, Mikey, they’ve been rubbing their relationship in our faces for years,” The two men laugh for a moment, before Kazutora pauses, a small grin gracing his lips. “But Chifuyu gave me a purpose too.”

“How?”

“Chifuyu struggled a lot and I watched all of it, most of the time having no idea of what I could do to help him,” He admits. “It took a while, but I realized that being there for him as he built himself back up, was all that he needed from me at the time. So that’s what I did, I broke through his walls and showed him I would stay, that he could trust and talk to me without fearing judgments, that I would stand by him through the up and downs, good and bad days, while he found his footing again.” Kazutora looks back at his roommate. “You know, Mikey, the pride I felt watching Chifuyu heal is the same one I feel with every kid at work.”

“Wait,” Mikey’s eyes widen. “Is he the rea–”

“I thought about becoming a psychologist for foster kids after my adoption process was finished,” Kazutora smiles, he doesn’t think he ever told this to anyone before. “But I became sure of it after everything that happened with Chifuyu. That was when I decided I wanted to do something for the children that went through the loss, the abandonment and everything in between, like we did.”

“Damn,” Mikey turns away and Kazutora stifles a laugh at his glistening eyes. “Fuck, that’s amazing. You better write that down, Kazutora, and if Chifuyu doesn’t cry, I guarantee you, everyone else will.”

He reaches for the paper, using Mikey’s legs as a surface to continue writing. The words flow easily, and Kazutora couldn’t be happier.

Chifuyu was the kindest person Kazutora had ever met, a carbon copy of his father in terms of personality, and after he dyed his hair, even in terms of looks. His heart was just as pure and warm as the man’s was, and Kazutora never doubted how proud Akio felt watching his son from wherever he was. Maybe, that was why he couldn’t understand how someone as bright as Chifuyu would be put through so much pain like he was. Kazutora still haven’t found an answer to this day, but he knows Chifuyu found it for himself, and it’s all that matters.    

“What you told his mother,” Mikey says. “You were right.”

“Huh?”

“You are Chifuyu’s family, and he met a lot of people along the way that also became his family,” The black haired smiles, and Kazutora feels his cheeks burning. “Actually, we all became one big, messed up but solid family, I think.”

“We did.” Kazutora nods, a gentle laugh slipping past his lips as he looks back down on the paper, not realizing Mikey was still smiling at him.

Kazutora rereads the words he put together till now, realizing it’s the first time he went this far without hating whatever he wrote. He has to admit, Mikey’s idea is proving to be a good, effective one, and if he manages to finish this speech before the sun comes up, he would definitely and proudly admit that out loud.

“Okay, let’s move on,” Mikey declares, grabbing the paper from his hands. “Are we getting to the part you started to remember him?”

“I think so, it was during summer, last year of middle school.” Kazutora says. “We had just become part timers at gramps’ pet shop.”

The aquarium trip brought changes, good changes for Chifuyu, and gradually, the young boy was able to start running again. He would beam, fondness in his voice whenever he talked about his father, and he always had a small but accepting smile on his face when his mother was mentioned. Kazutora knew his pain and fear might never go away, not when he saw it happening so fast before his eyes, but it made him proud that Chifuyu chose to keep going despite it all.

He didn’t go out of his way to look for trouble anymore, toning down the number of fights he got into. It was becoming a rare occurrence, but sometimes, only sometimes, Kazutora and Chifuyu would still head to the pet shop with sheepish smiles on their faces and tattered clothes, a mischievous glint in their eyes after winning a brawl with whoever decided to annoy them for some reason.

It all changed during summer of their last year in middle school. Originally, they knew Chifuyu’s grandpa would hire them as official part timers once they were in high school, but maybe, the early invite came as a way of encouraging them to stop getting into trouble. Whatever it was, it worked, and on the first day of summer, the best friends were giddily standing by the entrance together in green aprons, checking their name tags over and over with bright smiles on their faces.

Kazutora was having the time of his life and that was probably why he didn’t mind it too much the first time they happened.

The end of their first week of work had been marked by a dream. Kazutora blinked a few times before recognizing the two men standing together in front of a glass cage, both looking at a small black kitten with smiles on their faces. His eyes widened at the mature presence they had, never having thought his mind could be creative enough to provide him images of himself and his best friend as adults. He watched the Chifuyu in his dreams, the one with the black hair, joking around with him, the older Kazutora that had the cool, blond highlights and a golden earring on his ear, as they managed the small and unfamiliar pet shop.

He told Chifuyu about it with a laugh and the blond had smirked, snickering as he asked if Kazutora was that excited to be working with him that he was already dreaming of their adult selves doing it. Kazutora had positively not blushed.

Summer was over in a blink, but the dreams went on regardless. With school back, the two spent less hours at the pet shop, but the length of Kazutora’s dreams seemed to increase. The visions were lighthearted, and Kazutora looked forward to them every night while Chifuyu looked forward to hear about it every day. From the mess whenever they had to team up to bath a giant dog, to Chifuyu trying to comfort a weeping Kazutora whenever an animal got adopted. There was even a day, Chifuyu caught him eating dog food in the inventory room, and he didn’t know how to explain that he saw himself trying it in a dream, but he had hated it, so he just wanted to be sure adult Kazutora was right about it.

Chifuyu left before he could utter a word.

Kazutora had tried to persuade Chifuyu into changing his hair more than once, first telling him he looked more serious and grown up, and then being completely honest, fully admitting his best friend looked kind of hot with darker hair. Chifuyu’s face burned as much as the punch he landed on Kazutora’s stomach that day.

“Hey.” He poked Chifuyu’s cheek as they headed to his house.

“I’m not dyeing my hair, shut up about that.”

“I know,” Kazutora laughed. “Can you help me dye mine?”

That same night, Kazutora dreamed about Chifuyu retouching his roots, and discovered their dream selves lived together in a cozy apartment downtown.

High school was something both boys were looking forward, probably for that feeling that they were growing up and getting close to becoming adults, but the excitement went away quickly, maybe after first period. For the first time since meeting each other, they weren’t in the same class, and Kazutora couldn’t help but feel like something was missing, wondering if the blond was also bored out of his mind in his own classroom. Or at least he was, till he felt someone kicking his chair, turning around with a glare, ready to tell off whoever was sitting behind him.

He didn’t expect to have to crane his neck to look up at the guy who had an annoying smirk on his face.

“Stop sighing, I can’t hear anything the teachers keep saying, man.” Tall guy said.

“Don’t kick my desk, idiot.” He muttered.

“Missing your girlfriend?” He continued and Kazutora groaned loudly. “You two in different classes? Schools?”

“None of your business, dude, shut up.”

“It’s Hanma.”

“I didn’t ask.” Kazutora turned back to look at the front of the class, ignoring the laugh from the other.

“Normally people tell their names back.”

“For fuck’s sake,” He groaned again. “It’s Kazutora.”

Against his will, Kazutora learned that Hanma was actually a grade above him, but for some reason he didn’t have any desire to understand, he had to attend that specific class with the first years for credits or something. The guy waved at him once the lecture was over, and Kazutora was finally left to his thoughts again.

Kazutora and Chifuyu always met up for lunch at the school rooftop, or their spot, as they came to call it. The younger laughed as he complained about Hanma, but only after making sure the guy wasn’t harassing him. Kazutora wouldn’t call the other his friend, but maybe, acquaintance would do for now.

Kazutora grew used to his company, still finding the taller annoying, but admitting it wasn’t so bad to have him around. Hanma ended up learning about Chifuyu not much later, pointing out how Kazutora wouldn’t shut up about him and then laughing once his cheeks got red, asking him to introduce them to each other. Kazutora refused to do it, but by the end of the week he was won over by exhaustion, heading to the rooftop with a frown and the older trailing behind him.

To his surprise he wasn’t the only one who brought company to lunch that day.

“Who’s this?” Kazutora frowned, looking the second blond boy up and down.

“I met this one by the swings this morning, his name is Takemichi,” Chifuyu smiled. “We’re friends now.”

“Nice to meet you?” The kid said nervously. “I, um, already heard a lot about you.”

“Likewise, I guess, minus the hearing about you part,” He muttered, looking back at Chifuyu. “You just met him and you’re already calling him your friend?”

“Well, it’s easier when they’re not a creep,” His best friend smirked. “Play nice.”

“Hm, did you make him cry?” Kazutora blinked. “His face is all red.”

“No, he forgot his girlfriend’s birthday.”

“She dumped you?” Hanma snickered.

“Not yet.” Takemichi’s lips wobbled.

“She won’t, you have a good plan now,” Chifuyu comforted his new friend before turning to the other new presence. “And you are?”

“This is Hanma, he’s having lunch with us today.” Kazutora introduced the figure behind him.

“That Hanma? The one that’s always bothering you?”

Chifuyu looked him up and down, pretty much like Kazutora did with Takemichi, but not hiding his immediate distaste for the older.

“I thought you would be taller.” Chifuyu tilted his head.

“Coming from a midget like you,” Hanma smirked, delivering the final blow as he turned to Kazutora. “He reminds me of a kitten.”

His best friend’s eye twitched and Kazutora chocked on his own laughter as Takemichi tried to hold a livid Chifuyu back from hitting Hanma.

From then on, the four boys became a small group. Takemichi was in Chifuyu’s class, and Kazutora never hid how much he envied him for it. It was almost like the two had been friends all their lives, and Kazutora couldn’t help but shake his head every time he heard them calling themselves each other’s ‘partner’, thinking that somehow, for some reason, the title fitted them quite well. Chifuyu and Hanma never fully got along, the older loved to tease Chifuyu a bit too much, and whenever the ‘kitten’ nickname came up, Kazutora and Takemichi had to prepare themselves for Chifuyu’s wrath. Still, slowly, his best friend came to tolerate the guy enough to not declare he was going to murder him every hour of the day.

It was after that, that his dreams took a weird turn.

Kazutora woke up one night, drenched in sweat, scenes of an older Chifuyu, but not as old as he was used to, picking him up from prison after he was released from a ten year long sentence, swirling in his head nonstop. He tried to brush it off, not even bothering to tell Chifuyu about it at first, but then it happened again.

In total, there were three different dreams that had a darker undertone to them and left Kazutora fidgeting in his bed. The first one, was of a 23 year old Chifuyu picking his 25 year old self from prison after serving a sentence he had no idea what was for. The second, was of Chifuyu in his room, at their apartment, holding a blurry picture Kazutora never got to see what it was about, while crying and wishing it a quiet ‘happy birthday’, a longing smile on his lips. The third one, and the one that made Kazutora run to Chifuyu’s house in the middle of the night when it first happened, was of Chifuyu closing the pet shop earlier, announcing he was going to the cemetery to visit someone important to him.

Kazutora was surprised, and as Chifuyu let him and listened to everything he had to say, he caught his best friend looking actually shocked by it.

Things only got weirder when the dreams, if he could even still call them that, started to manifest itself through the day, and Kazutora would have these visions of a life that seemed too detailed to be made up by his brain, at random hours. It went from good and lighter days at the pet shop, the fun nights with pizza and drinks at their apartment, to the harder days when Chifuyu left to visit a grave. Kazutora even saw adult Chifuyu giving him a motorcycle for his birthday, something that didn’t make any sense, since he had always feared them.

“Chifuyu,” Kazutora called one day, trying to put into words a thought plaguing his mind for days after trying to look it up once. “Do you think these things could be more than, um, dreams?”

“You mean like memories?” Chifuyu asked, surprising Kazutora.

“Yeah, but what am I even remembering?” He mumbled.

“Our past lives, maybe?”

“The internet said the same thing,” Kazutora gulped. “That sounds ridiculous.”

There was a deafening silence in the room before Chifuyu sat next to him on the bed, taking Kazutora’s hand in his.

“Let’s try to see this logically, connect some dots, okay?” Chifuyu waited for Kazutora’s nod before continuing. “What are the three things you hate the most?”

“Enclosed spaces, blood and the roar of motorcycles.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know, I just don–”

Before the words were out of his mouth, something immediately clicked in his head, and his eyes widened as Chifuyu kept watching him.

“The ten years in prison,” Kazutora whispered. “Enclosed spaces...”

“And the blood,” Chifuyu added. “It could be something that led you there.”

“Holy shit,” He shook his head. “The bikes?”

“Maybe something you don’t remember yet.”

“Fuck, Fuyu,” Kazutora ran a hand through his hair. “Then, do you think this person I see you going to visit at the cemetery could be the reason you’re...?”

“It’s possible,” The younger whispered.

“Oh, crap,” He groaned, unconsciously squeezing Chifuyu’s hand. “We’re both carrying traumas from a past life in the present.”

“This is so fucked up.” Chifuyu muttered and Kazutora couldn’t help but agree.

“What do you think I did to spend ten years in prison?”

“Let’s not worry about that now, Tora,” Chifuyu sighed before a small grin graced his lips. “I guess what matters the most is that we were together both then and now, and that really comforts me in a weird but good way.”

“To know that we’re stuck together beyond lives?” He knocked their shoulders together, smiling when Chifuyu laughs.

To Kazutora, it still seemed like that was something that could only happen in books or those weird sci-fi movies he made Chifuyu watch with him sometimes, but as he grew more used to the visions, memories, or whatever they were, he accepted it as it was. He kept telling Chifuyu about them, be it good or bad, and the two still laughed over the sillier moments and studied the darker ones, always trying to find a relation between the past and the present and what it could mean.

Time passed, and Kazutora slowly started to believe he reached the end of those memories when months went by with only the same scenarios playing in his mind.

It was on a random friday that, to his surprise, he learned how wrong he was.

He had just left his class after torturous hours trying to understand a subject that didn’t make any sense to him, and probably never would. Kazutora grumbled to himself as he walked down the stairs to meet Chifuyu, cursing whoever thought that adding letters to math was a good idea. The school was fairly empty, so he didn’t have trouble spotting Chifuyu standing awkwardly by the end of corridor.

What he failed to notice at first, was the blushing girl in front of his best friend.

Kazutora’s eyes widened when he understood what he was witnessing, quickly hiding behind a trashcan to unashamedly keep listening and being reminded of his 8 year old doing the same when he kept following Chifuyu around the school.

He almost wanted to laugh at how uncomfortable Chifuyu looked, his answer being already a given by the constipated look on his face, but he refrained to do so, knowing someone was probably about to get their heart broken in a few minutes. The girl hopefully asked his best friend out by the end of her speech, and Chifuyu scratched his neck, trying in a polite way, to explain he didn’t feel the same for her, or anyone for that matter, and wasn’t interested in something like that for now. Kazutora blinked, Chifuyu’s answer didn’t surprise him at all, but he couldn’t help but wonder if the younger had honestly never had a crush before.

After all, they were teenagers, so crushes, hormones and all that jazz should be normal for their age, right?

Chifuyu sighed as the girl ran away, telling Kazutora to stop hiding as they finally started their walk to the pet shop. Despite the curiosity, he still poked fun at Chifuyu, dramatically wondering how he managed to get confessed to before him. He knew Chifuyu was a romantic at heart, the vast collection of shoujo manga and romantic comedies on his to watch list being the biggest proof of that, so Kazutora had to held back a laugh at how awkwardly Chifuyu was reacting to it.

It was later, when they were at his house, Chifuyu staying over for a sleepover, that Kazutora finally found himself being nosy enough to ask the younger all the questions needed to kill his curiosity. The blond shrugged with a laugh, resting his head on his lap as they laid on the couch and some anime played on the TV, answering in a nonchalant voice that he found the idea of romance cute and all, but when it applied to him, he couldn’t see the appeal, at least not yet. Chifuyu said he had never felt attracted to anyone before nor did he ever stopped to consider if he had a type, be it a girl or a boy.

“What about you?” The younger threw the question back at him.

“I do find a lot of people pretty, but not enough to say I like them in that way.” Kazutora also shrugged.

“I remember you saying I had a pretty face.” Chifuyu snickered and Kazutora felt his cheeks heating up at the memory.

“That was years ago, shut up.”

Chifuyu sat up, looking at him with a grin, the same one he got on whenever he found a reason to tease Kazutora. His eyes were shining, but maybe that was a trick of the light, Kazutora didn’t know, still, he had to fight the urge to look away.

“Are you saying puberty made me ugly?” He joked but Kazutora only flushed more.

Kazutora almost wanted to scoff, as if that would be possible.

“Yes.”

The light punch on his shoulder and the laughter that followed were to be expected, what Kazutora didn’t expect was the memory that came that night.

He didn’t recognize it, and it almost made him excited to think he was finally getting something new. He could see adult Chifuyu in their shared kitchen, wearing nothing but a shirt as he made some coffee. Kazutora was used to their domesticity, so it wasn’t a wonder the black haired was preparing them breakfast. No, what was surprising was seeing his older self leaving Chifuyu’s room instead of his, half naked. Before he could try to come up with a theory, his jaw dropped as he watched Chifuyu squealing and himself hugging him from behind, leaving a kiss on his neck. The younger turned around, arms wrapping around his neck as adult Kazutora asked how he was feeling, smirking when Chifuyu said something about back pain and him having more stamina than he expected.

If that wasn’t enough to make 16 year old Kazutora blush up to his ears, he felt ready to explode as the two men sigh in contentment, bumping foreheads before they closed the distance, lips touching as if they had been doing that forever.

Kazutora woke up with a start, hissing when a sudden pain hit his head, only realizing he fell from his own bed when Chifuyu, the 15 year old, still blond Chifuyu, screamed at him to stop making so much noise that late in the night. He stayed there on the floor, frozen, watching his best friend’s back as he kept grumbling to himself. The images from his dream came back in full force to his mind, and Kazutora’s hands flew to his mouth to stop a shriek from being heard.

That couldn’t be a memory, it was impossible. Kazutora couldn’t even bring himself to entertain the thought that they had been anything other than friends in some other life. It had to be because of the talk they had just before going to bed, Kazutora’s subconscious probably ended up mixing that life with the sudden curiosity he felt earlier that day, that was the only reasonable explanation to it.

Yeah, that made perfect sense.

Except it didn’t.

Kazutora’s day consisted of him trying to pretend he wasn’t constantly remembering that dream, of him trying to tell himself he had no idea what the two men were talking about or what they had obviously done the night before. Still, none of that self made reassurances mattered when, that night, Kazutora got another dream of the same kind. It happened on the next, and then a few more times, and Kazutora finally gave up on telling himself they weren’t memories.

He and Chifuyu were definitely dating in their past lives.

Those memories weren’t linear either, but over the weeks Kazutora was able to connect the pieces together. No matter how many times he watched it over and over, Kazutora was always left a flushed mess, heart thumping loudly in his chest and stomach flipping at everything past Chifuyu and Kazutora had together.

From the way they looked at each other even before they came clean about their feelings, the nights spent drinking with their friends or at home, a drunk Chifuyu nuzzling into his neck, and the feeling of being at home in each other’s arms, to a birthday party full of blurred faces Kazutora couldn’t tell if he really didn’t know or if that was supposed to show he only had eyes for the black haired man with cake all over his face. Kazutora saw the fight that made their feelings explode, their first kiss, their confession. He watched them fumbling around like teenagers, them dancing in the middle of their pet shop one night way past closing time, and the way they played around in a bathtub too small for two grown men.

He and Chifuyu... loved each other a lot.

That was the first time Kazutora refused to tell Chifuyu what he remembered.

The last thing he needed was to make Chifuyu think he owned him anything just because their relationship in the past wasn’t as platonic as they had thought.

Kazutora couldn’t help but also blame said memories for the way he became hyper aware of his best friend. That, but also hormones and all that jazz a 16 year old had to go through. He fought down a blush whenever Chifuyu was close, using his lap or shoulder as a pillow, and willing his heart to calm when the younger as much as smiled at him, blue eyes full of happiness for a reason Kazutora couldn’t fully concentrate on with the way he seemed to shine.

“Hey,” He heard Chifuyu’s voice calling to him, praying to whoever he could that his voice didn’t crack as he looked at the blond. “Where’s your head these days?”

Chifuyu was chuckling, unconsciously playing with the sleeve of Kazutora’s hoodie, not even noticing the way their fingers kept grazing each other.

“Why you ask?” He cleared his throat.

“You look kind of distracted,” Chifuyu smirked. “Almost like you can’t stop thinking about something, or someone.”

“What?”

“Do you have a crush on anyone, Tora?”

Kazutora’s eyes widened for a second before he shook his head, pushing the laughing boy away from him.

“I do not,” He rolled his eyes. “Stop saying nonsense.”

“Okay, but tell me when you do,” The blond winked. “I’ll cheer you on.”

Kazutora looked back at him, not proud of the way his heart skipped a beat at the smile being directed at him, the same one he had been repeatedly seeing every night in his dreams. It was with a shiver that Kazutora came to the scary realization that Chifuyu’s words weren’t so off the mark after all.

Maybe, he thought, I have a crush on my best friend.

“I knew it!” Mikey suddenly screams and Kazutora flinches, not expecting the black haired to sit up so quickly, his voice directly in his ear.

“Knew what, stupid?” He mutters.

“That you had a crush on Chifuyu before,” His roommate laughs. “I can’t wait to tell Mitsuya that me and Draken were right.”

“You’re not telling that to anyone, you fucker,” Kazutora flicks his forehead. “This stays between me and you, got it?”

Mikey pouts for a second, but relents once Kazutora keeps glaring at him, sighing in defeat. The black haired doesn’t lay back down, keeping his legs on Kazutora’s lap and his dark eyes trained on his face, seeming to wait for him to say more.

“Listen,” He sighs. “That ‘crush’ lasted for exactly twelve days.”

“Only twelve days?” Mikey blinks.

“I was kind of swayed by those memories, but the feelings I had for him in the past aren’t the same as I have now.” Kazutora mumbles, rubbing his nose.

“So, in other words... you were just being a horny teenager?” He can hear the teasing in his voice and Kazutora can’t fight the blush creeping up his cheeks.

“Don’t fucking say it like that, Mikey,” He groans loudly but Mikey only laughs harder. “I wasn’t horny, I was curious, there’s a big difference, okay?”

“I’m sorry,” Mikey pats his shoulder, finally calming down. “How did you realize it wasn’t exactly a crush then?”

“I saw him kissing someone else,” Kazutora shrugs, feeling somewhat smug when Mikey shuts his mouth. “I didn’t feel anger or like I should have been in their place, and honestly, I couldn’t see myself kissing him in any other situation.”

“Who was he kissing?” The other asks eagerly.

“Hanma,” Kazutora smirks when Mikey chokes on nothing, eyes widening. “It was more of Hanma stealing his first kiss when they were fighting on the locker room, and then Chifuyu kicking him where it hurts once they pulled away. He was so mad, it was the funniest shit to watch, I fell to the floor from how hard I was laughing, and then he kicked me too when he realized I saw it all.”

“So that’s why he can’t stand him,” His roommate says, laughing when Kazutora nods. “Don’t mention that on your speech, we don’t need Baji nor Chifuyu to go on a killing spree on their wedding day, because you know they would.”

“Noted,” He shakes his head. “I love Chifuyu, a lot, and I would do anything for him, but I’ve never been in love with him, not like past Kazutora was.”

“Yeah, I get you, congrats on not mixing your feelings,” Mikey smiles. “But I guess it’s normal to think you have a crush on your best friend at some point though.”

“Did you have a crush on Baji?” Kazutora blinks, quite disturbed by the thought.

“Ew, fuck no,” Mikey cringes before looking back at him. “But I had one on Draken after we met, then one on Takemitchy and a small one on Chifuyu too.”

“What the fuck?” Kazutora whispers, not even knowing what say before he throws his head back laughing. “What’s with you going after committed men, Mikey?”

“Fuck off, Kazutora,” Mikey whines, poking his cheek. “Draken was way before I knew Emma liked him, and it went away just as fast, and Takemitchy was just because of everything he did for me in the past, I got over it. Chifuyu, well, he brought me cake once, the crush only lasted for an hour, but it was enough to make me consider kidnapping him and never letting Baji see him again.”

“I can’t believe you,” He shakes his head, feeling somewhat fond as he looks at the black haired. “Was a cake all it took to please you?”

“The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.”

“Are you confessing to me?” Kazutora raises an eyebrow, feeling giddy when he manages to make Mikey blush. “Cause, you know, I make you dinner every day.”

“You’re so full of shit,” The black haired turns away and Kazutora holds him back when he tries to stand up. “Here I am, trying to not make you seem like a shitty best man and this is what I get in return, not even a thanks?”

“Stop being dramatic,” He snickers, pulling him closer. “You can ask whatever you want if we get this done in the next half an hour.”

“Deal.” Mikey smiles easily, as if he was expecting it.

Kazutora grabs the paper once again, letting Mikey spy it as he writes a few more sentences down.

He would always be grateful for Chifuyu. For sticking with him through that mess of memories, for the trust, for believing him even when everything seemed too absurd to be real, and for trying to understand what was going on, always by his side. Chifuyu was special in a way that had changed Kazutora’s life forever, the reason he was able to learn the difference between loving and being in love with someone, and how each feeling could be the strongest in its own way. What Kazutora felt for Chifuyu was something that made his heart lighter whenever he watched Chifuyu and Baji, knowing his best friend finally found the happiness and peace he deserved to feel in every lifetime.

Mikey hums in approval, chin coming to rest on his shoulder and chest pressing to his side. Kazutora leans back, wrapping an arm around him to accommodate him better and when the black haired yawns, he’s almost tempted to let him go back to bed, but for some reason, he still wants them to finish this thing together.

“What comes next?” His roommate asks.

“Nothing much,” Kazutora says. “We graduated, picked the same uni and decided we wanted to live together, not necessarily in that order.”

“Did you guys have trouble finding an apartment?” Mikey snickers. “It took a century for him and Baji to pick a place.”

“That’s because those two have that ‘we have to feel it in our soul’ shit,” He rolls his eyes, a smile on his lips. “Chifuyu have always wanted to be a vet and I wanted to become a psychologist, we knew we wanted to go to the same uni too, so living together seemed like the right choice, we chose the first one we saw.”

“Your apartment was so cool, I loved that place.”

“I did too, we made great memories there,” Kazutora says fondly. “I used to think it would be really hard to move out and sell it, and it was a bit bittersweet, but I didn’t feel like I was letting something go, more like I was just turning a page.”

“The one we’re writing right here,” Mikey says, looking up at him. “I felt the same when I moved out of the dorms, but this, what we have together, makes me really happy, and I like knowing I’m coming back to see your face every night.”

“You’re flattering me,” Kazutora joked, but he could feel his ears burning a little. “I like it here too, even if you’re a messy roommate.”

“Hey! I clean the dishes and do our laundry.”

“You could come grocery shopping with me sometimes too, you know?” He says, laughing when Mikey starts pouting again.

Kazutora looks around their apartment, and if someone told him years ago, that meeting that strange boy in the streets that claimed he also remembered his best friend, would lead him to this, Kazutora would hope they weren’t lying to him. That meeting, watching Chifuyu and Baji reconnect to each other in the most beautiful way, becoming friends with Mikey and everyone else, learning more about their past, growing up, each one of them following their dreams and finding happiness along the way, everything was perfect, and Kazutora didn’t need anything more.

“I like that everything that happened led me here, I like that my life came to this.” Kazutora shakes his head in disbelief.

“To us?” Mikey voice is quiet, but Kazutora still hears it.

“To us,” He admits, smiling slightly at the black haired. “It feels right.”

“Like it was supposed to be, maybe?” His roommate wonders, throwing an arm over his stomach. “I asked Chifuyu about us once, after his accident.”

“Did he tell you he didn’t see anything?” He asks, stifling a laugh when Mikey’s eyes widen. “I asked him about us too.”

“He also told me some things are not worth knowing.”

“I guess,” Kazutora shrugs. “If something went down between us, I just hope it’s not worse than what happened to Baji.”

“Do you still think about that?” Mikey frowns.

“Just occasionally,” He laughs. “But it doesn’t scare me anymore.”

Kazutora would never forget that last memory he got back. It happened the night after Chifuyu and Baji’s talk, when the younger learned what happened to his boyfriend in the past and what the birthmark on his stomach meant.

The dream seemed lighthearted at first, their adult selves were having a drink and just talking about their week. Kazutora watched with a small smile on his face, but as time went by and something heavy took place and silenced the two, he wondered if he should prepare himself for a fight, or maybe a discussion. He braced himself for a lot of possible scenarios, but the moment he heard a few snippets of their conversation, his heart stopped, and his hands started to shake.

“I saw you crying earlier, it’s because of his birthday, isn’t it?” The voice was shaky before a sob fell from his lips, and Kazutora couldn’t move. “I’m so sorry for what I did, Chifuyu, I’m sorry for being the reason Baji is dead.”

“It wasn’t your fault, Kazutora,” The answer was gentle, but there were unshed tears in Chifuyu’s eyes. “I forgave you, all of us did, so please, for me, for Baji and for yourself... let go of the guilt, you deserve a second chance. I’m not here to make you feel bad, I’m here because I want you to heal and move forward.”

Kazutora woke up with a start and he couldn’t hold back the whimpers and the sobs lodged in his throat, only realizing how loud he was being after Chifuyu came bursting through the door in a frenzy. The night was filled with his tears and incoherent mumbling, Chifuyu tried his best to comfort him and show he was there, but his warmth and all his care only managed to make Kazutora cry harder.

It would be hours later when Kazutora would finally calm down enough to explain what happened, feeling small as he watched Chifuyu’s tears trailing down.

“Kazutora, I need you to understand there’s nothing in this or any other life that could make me hate you.”

His heart felt a bit lighter after his best friend’s comfort, and Kazutora was grounded by the assurance, trusting the words without hesitation. The serenity allowed Kazutora to go deeper into some details from that dream that had went unnoticed before, like the fact he and Baji were friends. Best friends. Ride or die.

That led Chifuyu to ask him and Baji to try to grow closer and like the whipped idiots they were, both agreed. It was through one of the worst and scariest moments of their lives, that Kazutora and Baji became each other’s support, it was watching Chifuyu laying unconsciously on a hospital bed, that Kazutora was glad the younger insisted on them and glad they heard him. Kazutora was not alone, and he would always be grateful for having a friend like Baji.

Even with all the teasing and bickering that came along with it.

“Baji is a great friend,” Mikey laughs. “But you two together are like those comic relief characters from a show.”

“It’s because he’s a dumbass, and it only gets worse,” He groans. “Remember the first month after they moved in together and whenever he and Chifuyu were leaving he was like ‘let’s go back to our home’ and smirking like an idiot?”

“It’s been years and you two still love to get on each other’s nerves,” The black haired shakes his head fondly. “You’re both idiots.”

“Yeah, and you and Chifuyu are all cute and shit, I know, just go ahead and brag about it.” Kazutora rolls his eyes with a chuckle.

“I’m going to take pity on you,” Mikey waves him off and Kazutora swats his hand away. “Anyway, don’t you have anything to write down?”

Kazutora blinks as the other waves his speech in front of his face, placing it on the small table. Once again, Mikey rest his chin on his shoulder, watching quietly as Kazutora starts a new paragraph. His fingers keep tapping his arm and his breath hitting his neck with every exhale, and strangely enough, all of it helps clearing Kazutora’s head, polishing the thoughts he needs to get on the paper.

He snickers after a while, deciding to dedicate a few lines in between to Baji. Not only because he’s a decent friend that Kazutora is grateful for, but also because he will always be thankful for him for making his best friend happy. Deep down, Kazutora loves the guy, and he knows Baji also sees a good friend in him.

Mikey hums and Kazutora smiles before leaning back on the couch again.

“I think you’re almost done.”

“Great, because we have to be at work in a few hours.” Kazutora yawns.

“Don’t go to work then, let’s stay in.” Mikey says, scooting closer.

“You’re not my boss, Mikey.” He snorts.

“But my brother is and we’re family, so technically, I’m like your third boss.” The black haired whines.

“I don’t think that’s how it works,” Kazutora smirks when Mikey pouts. “The orphanage belongs to Izana and Kakucho, I answer to them.”

His roommate whines, still trying to convince him to stay, but the fight dies down after a while. Kazutora can’t help but smile when Mikey rests on his chest, cheeks puffed as he mutters to himself in annoyance since he didn’t get what he wanted.

The clock keeps ticking, being the only source of noise in their apartment. The silence is comforting, and Kazutora let his fingers run through Mikey’s hair, smiling to himself when the black haired sighs in contentment. The paper on the table is almost full, and for the first time since ever, not glaring at him in a mocking way. He looks down at his roommate, silently thanking him in for showing him a wedding speech is not that hard, and maybe, all he needed was a little help.

“Hey.”

“Hm?”

“What did you tell Chifuyu?” Mikey lifts his head and Kazutora wonders why they keep whispering when they’re alone. “That day, at the hospital?”

“I thought I was going to lose him,” He huffs an incredulous laugh, the image of everything that went down that day still fresh in his head, as if it only happened yesterday. “Like an idiot, I said goodbye to him.”

He would never forget it.

Kazutora had entered Chifuyu’s room for what felt like the millionth time, and yet, he had never felt as scared and lost as he did then, fearing that it could be the last and final time he would get to see, to touch and to talk to his best friend.

There was a lot he wanted to say, and as he sat down beside him, he never chose his words so carefully before.

“Chifuyu,” Kazutora gulped, holding his best friend’s cold hand tightly in his. “I promised myself I wouldn’t do this, bu– but I don’t want to be selfish to you anymore, not when that’s all I’ve been since we met,” He tried to smile, but the tears start to blur his vision. “You’re the strongest person I’ve ever met, Matsuno Chifuyu, and I’ll be forever proud of you. It was watching you heal, making peace with yourself despite everything that happened in the past, and it was watching you building yourself back up, finding your own footing again in the present, that taught me we can always find happiness. Despite the pain, the trials and the hurt, we’re stronger than we believe, and we can fight back no matter what comes for us,” The sob falling past his lips is one of agony, but also one of relief. “I know you’re a worrywart, but we’ll be okay, if– I mean, if you want to let go, it’ll break us, but we’ll mend ourselves, with time, just like you taught us, I promise you... I just don’t want to see you in pain anymore...” Kazutora had to pause, swallowing down his cries before continuing. “Just– whatever happens from now on, please promise me we’ll see each other again next time and all the times after that... thank you for being the best thing that ever happened to me, I’ll always love you, Fuyu.” He placed a final kiss on his hand, wiping his tears and standing up.

His heart felt heavy with the pain, but the weight that had been crushing his back seemed to vanish. There was a small smile on his face as he looked at Chifuyu one last time before leaving his room, ready to let Baji know he could come in.

“But no,” Kazutora smiled, brushing the stray tears in his eyes. “He never left.”

“As if he would,” Mikey smiled. “I think you know how to finish this thing now.”

Kazutora laughs, because Mikey is right.

Chifuyu taught him a lot, but the most important lesson Kazutora would take from him, was that you can always find happiness no matter what. Life doesn’t have to be an arduous chore, and the bad things or your mistakes don’t define who you are. Kazutora is lucky, for having Chifuyu back then, now and it doesn’t matter where they end up or what happens in the future, he hopes that he can always become a part of Chifuyu’s life, in any way or capability. From beginning to end and everything in between, be it good or bad, he wants to be there.

“You know, Mikey,” Kazutora smiles down at the paper, writing the last sentence. “I hope I get to watch Chifuyu and Baji finding happiness like this every lifetime.”

“Yeah,” Mikey chuckles. “I finished mine the same way.”

Kazutora looks down at the paper, rereading every sentence, pride burning in his chest at how he finally, finally got to write down everything he always wanted to tell Chifuyu and everything his best friend deserves to hear. He turns to the black haired next to him, the reason why he finally got the best speech in the history of wedding speeches in his hands right now, feeling the way his own eyes soften as he watches Mikey’s smile with fondness and gratitude clear behind his stare.

“Thank you, Mikey,” Kazutora finally says. “I wouldn’t have done it without you.”

“You just needed a little push,” The older laughs, looking happy. “And maybe someone to stay up with you till 4 in the morning.”

“Yeah, bet you wish you didn’t end up with such a bothersome roommate,” Kazutora jokes, stretching his back and standing up, failing to catch the way Mikey freezes at the words. “Just give me warning before throwing me out, okay?”

“Wait.”

Kazutora stops laughing when a hand wraps around his wrist, preventing him from taking another step. Mikey is not looking at him, and Kazutora frowns, wondering if he said something to upset the other man. He feels the older pulling, and once he sits back down on the couch, Mikey finally looks back at him, seeming to contemplate something before throwing one leg over him, sitting on Kazutora’s legs but not exactly on his lap. The action is not foreign, Mikey does enjoy cuddling sessions and skin ship, but it still takes Kazutora by surprise.

“I know what I want,” His roommate says determinedly. “As a thank you for this.”

“Okay,” Kazutora says, not knowing what to do with his hands. “What is it?”

“I had already decided on it, but I changed my mind,” Mikey gulps nervously. “What I want is for us to stay together, till the end.”

“Till the end? You mea–”

“I mean this, what we have here, now,” The black haired explains, trying to find the right words. “I want it forever.”

Kazutora pauses, eyes widening as he watches Mikey’s cheeks flushing, the red going down his neck and disappearing under his shirt. He gapes at the black haired and once his mushy brain assimilates the words and what he was asked, Kazutora feels his whole body burning, from embarrassment and something else.

“You sure?” He asks.

“I’m the one asking, aren’t I?” Mikey grumbles back. “I will even start going grocery shopping with you.”

“Promise?”

“Would that make you stay?”

“Is there anything that would make you want me to move out?”

“Fuck no.”

“Even if I might want to adopt one of the kids from the orphanage one day?” Kazutora whispers, watching carefully as Mikey looks back at him surprise.

Not surprised at the fact Kazutora wants a kid one day, but at the thought that he’s really considering the idea of staying with him.

“We can... coparent.” The black haired grimaces.

“Do you even like kids?” He snickers.

“I mean, you would have to help me, I know shit about taking care of a brat.” His roommate laughs nervously.

“First of all, don’t call our future kid a brat, Mikey,” Kazutora smirks when Mikey flushes more. “You will have time to get used to it.”

“But what do we do when they ask why their parents live together but are not together?”

“We will cross that bridge when we get there,” Kazutora laughs, finding Mikey’s concerns endearing. “And who knows? We might have fallen in love by then.”

There’s a beat of silence and when Mikey snorts, Kazutora throws his head back laughing. The thought is not as absurd as it seems, and as they smile at each other, finally calming down, they know that’s exactly what the other is thinking.

“Guess I’m staying then,” He says, stomach fluttering in an annoying but not unwelcoming way. “Till the end.”

“Till the end.”

Kazutora holds his pinky finger up and Mikey rolls his eyes, but intertwines it with his for a second, sealing it like a promise.

“Hey, what was the other thing you were going to ask for?”

“Hm?” Mikey blinks, suddenly remembering it. “Oh, well, I kind of wanted you to call me Manjiro.”

“Isn’t Shinichiro the only one who calls you that?” He asks surprised.

“Only when he’s mad,” The other shrugs. “It would be nice to hear it regularly.”

“Oh,” Kazutora blinks, cleaning his throat as the idea settles in his head. “Um, I guess I can be generous and grant you two wishes then,” He swallows around nothing before smiling. “Manjiro.”

“What are you, a genie?” Mikey, Manjiro snorts, cheeks red. “Let’s go to bed, we got a busy day today and tomorrow.”

“What time do we have to pick our suits from Mitsuya today?”

“After work,” The black haired yawns, standing up. “I will wait for you, and we can go together.”

“On your bike?”

“Since I’m the only one you accept to ride with, yes.” He laughs.

“Alright,” Kazutora smiles. “Then thank you again, and good night, Manjiro.”

“Nah,” Manjiro smiles back at him. “Thank you, Kazutora.”

 

***

 

“Are you nervous?”

Chifuyu turns to looks at him, wiping his hands on his white suit. There’s an agitation in his eyes, and Kazutora thinks the younger might go hysterical like those brides in movies at any second now, but he can still detect the underlying excitement and eagerness in his every action. He’s obviously on cloud nine, but Kazutora knows it’s normal to be nervous about such big step like this one.

He walks over to the younger, fixing his tie for the last time before the ceremony.

“Do you think we really need this?” Chifuyu asks. “I mean, what’s marriage when me and Keisuke will always be connected to one another, right?”

“Hm, that’s true, marriage does seem a little feeble in comparison to what you two have,” He agrees, snickering at the familiarity of Chifuyu’s question. “But maybe it’s something Baji wants the present you and him to share only?”

“Fuck, stop calling him ‘Baji’, I’m about to be a Baji too.” His best friend whines.

“I still think Matsuno is the cooler surname, but after that dinner we had at your house it’s better we don’t discuss it again.”

Chifuyu shakes his head and Kazutora can’t help but laugh at the anxious but also content look on his face. Chifuyu and Baji have always loved each other profoundly, and Kazutora knows there’s nothing in this world that could make the younger happier than his soon to be husband. Chifuyu is ready and so is Baji.

“Hey,” Kazutora calls, just as a joke. “If you want to run away in the middle of the ceremony, just tell me.”

“Will you sneak me out?” Chifuyu snickers.

“Only if you want, but we know that won’t happen,” Kazutora says softly, brushing a stray tear from Chifuyu’s eye. “You look beautiful, Fuyu.”

“Thanks, Tora, for everything,” Chifuyu smiles. “I love you.”

“I love you too,” He wraps the younger in a hug, and both hold each other tightly. “More than anything.”

Kazutora finds his place just before the ceremony starts, standing alongside Manjiro as they wait for their best friends to make their entrance.

“Was Chifuyu nervous?” Manjiro whispers.

“Nervous is an understatement.” Kazutora laughs quietly.

“Baji was almost throwing up,” The other says. “He said he was going to jump off a bridge if Chifuyu gave up on the wedding.”

“Isn’t he a drama queen?” He rolls his eyes. “As if any of them would run away from each other.”

“That’s what I said.” Manjiro chuckles.

The wedding is far from being something formal, or movie like, but Kazutora still watches with tears in his eyes and a bright smile on his face as Chifuyu and Baji hold each other’s hands tightly, beaming happily like nothing else matters but their own world, where there’s only the two of them. There’s a chorus of whistles and encouraging shouts as they exchange vows, and Baji bawls like a newborn baby as he puts a gold bang around Chifuyu’s finger, picking the younger up and sealing their bond with a kiss before spinning him around, twin smiles on their faces. Chifuyu whispers something to his now husband, and Baji shakes his head fondly at him, pecking his nose and whispering something back as they laugh.

Kazutora can’t help but look around as everyone watches the main couple of the night. He can see their friends smiling and looking genuinely happy, and it gives him a sense of fulfillment, because it’s like everyone was right where they were supposed to be. Both Takemichi and Hina, and Draken and Emma are building their families, Mitsuya and Hakkai are managing their lives together in between fashion shows and photoshoots, Koko and Inupi are still as inseparable as ever, and Kazutora doubts that will ever change, Izana and Kakucho are fulfilling their childhood dream with their orphanage, and Kazutora is glad he gets to watch it from the front row every day. It can be hard sometimes, of course, not everything is always perfect as they would like it to be, but Kazutora thinks they’re all nailing this life thing pretty well, considering the messy kids they used to be years ago.

If he had to compare, Kazutora would say that it was like finally getting to the final pages of a book you grew extremely attached to. It gives you a bittersweet feeling to reach its end, but also makes you feel warm inside, knowing everything is going to be okay from now on, and to Kazutora, happy endings will never be overrated.

He throws an arm around Manjiro, who turns to look at him with a big smile. His lips curl up as they stare at each other, seeing a friend, a roommate, a partner and who knows what else. Kazutora believes this is when he places that book back on a shelf, because this feels like he just found his own good ending too.

   

 

 

 

 

“I just want to start this by saying I only got this speech ready last night, after trying for a year to get the right words down...”