Sighing in his seat, he glanced out the window but quickly whipped his head back to the front, groaning softly. Trying not to call attention to himself, he rested his head against his desk and clenched his fists together. He could feel Shirasu’s eyes locked on the back of his head, but he didn’t have the motivation to wave away his friend’s concerns.
When the class finally ended and it was time to break for lunch he lifted his head once more to lethargically reach for his food. Feeling a hand on his shoulder he shook his head, “Shirasu, I’d rather not today.” But Shirasu just calmly walked around, holding his lunch in one hand and pulled Nori out the door. Glaring at the back of his best friend’s head, Nori grudgingly followed to the school roof. “You know we’re not actually allowed up here right?”
One of Shirasu’s rare smiles spread across his face as he sat down near the ledge. Nori couldn’t help the slight chuckle that left his lips when Shirasu patted the space beside him. Slumping down beside the other boy, Nori continue laughing, first a few chuckles that slowly became loud guffaws that filled the silent air. Pulling his knees up to his chest he continued laughing, breathing becoming hard as the laughter would just not stop. Shirasu’s hand came up to rest in his hair, pulling at the strands and trying to calm him down through his strokes and soft words.
“ Nori, take a deep breath, come on, try and stop laughing. You can do it, it’ll be okay. ”
The laughter eventually melted into tears streaming down his cheek as he furiously tried to wipe them away. He could hear Shirasu sigh and flinched, expecting to be left alone, but instead Shirasu just pulled him into a tight hug. “ Let it out Nori, it’s okay. I’m not leaving you. I promise .” The calm assurances only further caused tears to fall from his eyes, turning his plump face bright red as he relaxed into his best friend’s arms. But it was slowly helping, bit by bit.
Instinctively his arms had wrapped around Shirasu’s body, and as his tears slowed he felt himself slump against Shirasu, arms tightening for support. Hiccuping due to his occasional sobs, Nori tried to steady his breathing and pull away. But Shirasu would have none of that and instead proceeded to hug him closer. Shirasu didn’t say anything, but Nori could feel the unconditional support from his friend.
Breathing in the comforting scent of his best friend’s presence, Nori pushed his face deeper into Shirasu’s chest, “I...I knew they were together. I knew it, and I still...I still fell for him.” Leaning back slightly, he looked up at Shirasu with tear stained cheeks, “Ken-kun why can’t I have something I want? I can’t pitch as well, so I gave up the fight for the ace title to first years, and I couldn’t fight again for time with the main catcher so I almost never work with him .”
He sat back up, fully pushing himself away from Shirasu, and wrapped his arms around himself as he continued speaking, “yet, no matter how much I didn’t really speak to Miyuki, it was enough to fall for him. It was enough to make it hurt. And then...Kuramochi really is a lucky guy you know? Guess I just wasn’t good enough for that either.” He could feel tears building up once more though before they could fall, Shirasu’s hands quickly came up to cup his cheek and brush the tears away. He pressed his forehead harshly against Nori’s, forcing his eyes to lock with Shirasu’s.
“Nori, I’m going to say this one time, you’re always good enough.” Nori’s bottom lip quivered but he held himself shakily together before nodding sharply. Clearly satisfied, Shirasu nodded gently and sat back, but still kept a hand on Nori’s shoulder. A silent show of support. “If Miyuki can’t see that you’re worth it, then I’m sorry, he’s the one not worth you.”
Nori shook his head, not wanting to listen to Shirasu. Miyuki was worth it all. Even the pain. He could see that his friend was frustrated with him, but there was no way Nori would listen to Shirasu over this, Miyuki was his friend, his catcher, and most of all his crush. He slowly stood up, knowing that class was going to start soon, “Shirasu, it’s okay. Thank you for helping me, but I can’t think that Miyuki’s not worth it. To me he’s worth a lot more. Let’s go now.”
Turning around, Nori went to head towards the door, but stopped when a hand rested on his ankle. Turning around once more, he saw Shirasu looking at the floor. Concerned, Nori paused and waited to hear what he said. “You love him don’t you Nori? Then let him go. Please . It’s hurting you so much, and he’s happy. So you can be too.”
Stepping away from Shirasu, Nori held a hand up to his mouth, stifling the sob that threatened to come up. Let go of Miyuki? He loved him though. Could he do that? Could he let him go, let him be happy with Kuramochi. Could Nori let himself be free? No... not yet .
“I’m sorry Shirasu. I can’t...”
He walked away, breathing heavily as he fought the tears back. He knew it would be healthier to let go, but right now he couldn’t. It was too fresh, too soon, and too painful.
But one day Ken-kun, I will.
Kenjirou stood up on shaky legs, his stoic face threatening to break into the tears he’d been fighting for the whole lunch break.
You’re a mess Kenjirou. Telling Nori to let Miyuki go? You can barely do that yourself.
“I love you Nori, and I guess...it’s time to let you go.”