Chapter 1: Side Joe
His arms and legs were grazed from where he’d skidded along the rough tarmac, and the tie from his hair had fallen loose, letting his hair fall over his shoulders. He’d knocked his head on loose gravel and he could feel the unmistakable feel of blood running down the side of his head and all down his face. His hearing was gone, or at least muffled, because he could still hear something that sounded like voices. Lots of voices. But none of that mattered once his eyes found what he was looking for. He swallowed hard. He couldn’t remember anything. Nothing beyond the urgent, insistent honking of a car horn and then something hard and solid hitting his chest and then he was flying and something solid and metal hit his legs and hips then there was the ground and a curb and a parked car.
Someone was touching his shoulder, calling his name, but he ignored them. Ignored the offered help as someone tried to help him up. He pulled himself to his feet and, on auto-pilot, took a few shaky steps towards the dark car pulled to a stop and the dark lump on the ground not far behind it. Someone was crouched over it, desperately searching for something, while someone else stood nearby with a phone to their ear, babbling away about something he couldn’t quite hear. There were other people all around but he couldn’t see them. Not who they were, at least. Not that he cared. All that mattered was getting where he needed to be.
As he got closer, his vision focused in on the immobile lump. Clothes. He could make out clothes that looked strangely similar to the uniform he wore. A school uniform. A student? Was it a student? He seemed rather large to be just a student. Maybe one of the older ones. And his hair was dark. Mostly, at least. He could make out some lighter patches. Streaks. Silver streaks. Then it hit him.
Joe had never been fond of hospitals. They smelled too clean and had such an ominous feeling about them. Too much white on everything, except when an emergency got rushed in and there was vivid red blood everywhere. And the unmistakable beeping of machines.
It was the first thing he registered when he finally came to, followed by the feeling of something imbedded in his arm and faint voices in the room around him. A feminine soft voice, and one slightly more masculine but still soft and quiet. Ahim and Don. Joe didn’t have to think twice about it.
He willed his eyes to open, but it just hurt too much and one wasn’t budging at all so he gave in and accepted just lying there in darkness while the rest of his body woke up and he tried to figure out why he was in a hospital and why he had been asleep and—
“Sid-senpai!” He sat bolt upright at the exclamation that made everyone else in the room jump only to groan in pain as every single part of his body screamed in protest at the sudden movement. He fell back against the pillow and curled up as best he could into the fetal position, which was rather difficult considering the various devices he was attached to, and it was a few minutes before he found himself being able to relax enough to just lie still without his entire body yelling at him.
Once his body had calmed down enough, he opened his eyes, or, rather, eye, the other one covered by a patch, he had discovered, and looked blearily to his bedside. He didn’t even have to focus his vision to figure out who that was.
“Marve… lous…” Oh, god, he sounded so pathetic. He could barely hear his own voice. He wouldn’t be surprised if his friends couldn’t hear him at all. “S-Sid… Where-“ His voice stopped coming completely but by no action of his own. He shifted his gaze to the other side of his bed, giving Luka a questioning look as to why she’d covered his mouth.
“Shut up, idiot,” she scolded, softly, and removed her hand. “You’ll make something worse if you keep trying to push yourself.” He didn’t want to agree but Joe conceded and kept his mouth shut and it took Luka’s hand pressing softly on his forehead to stop him from lifting his head to try and see his other friends. He silently thanked them for taking the initiative to stand around his bed so he could see them all.
“Joe-san, I’m so glad you’re okay,” Ahim looked like she had been crying for at least a little while. Gai, too, even if he was trying to put on a wide smile beside Ahim when he lifted his hand to give him a little wave. Don was on the other side, standing beside Marvelous with his hands on the side of the bed.
The thing Joe liked best about his friendship with Marvelous was that the boy seemed to be able to read his mind. Never before had it been so useful.
“Welcome back, Joe,” The trademark smirk was still on Marvelous’s lips, but Joe could still see a little worry in his friend’s eyes. “You’ve been out almost two days now. And don’t worry about Sid, okay? I just went and saw him. He’s in intensive but he’s stable. Do you remember what happened?” Joe managed a slight shake his head. “He saved you…” Something in Marvelous’s tone changed but no one but Joe noticed. “That asshole that was shoving you and Ahim around pushed you in front of a car and then Sid came out of no where and shoved you out of the way and took the hit himself.”
Joe felt his heart stop. Sid. They weren’t even close friends. Sid was just the captain in the kendo team. A senpai Joe admired and he had been lucky enough to get the occasionally one on one training with him since he had joined the team. They’d attended competitions together, as well, but Joe had long been convinced that Sid was well out of his reach. And that just left him wondering…
“What did I say about talking?”
“Luka.” A moment passed where Marvelous and Luka just looked at each other. Eventually, Luka gave in and nodded. Marvelous looked back down at Joe, a hand brushing over his friend’s hair. “Just rest now, Joe. You can ask him yourself once you’re both up and moving again.”
Joe gave a slight nod, and one by one his friend’s disappeared from view until he was left just looking at Marvelous’s face, a lot closer now. Joe assumed the others had all left the room. His friend never got this close when anyone else was around. Not out of secrecy or shame or anything. Simply out of respect. They were a tight knit group of friends who relied on each other and did almost everything together, and Marvelous wasn’t the sort to show any favouritism when they were all together.
“I’m so glad you’re okay,” Joe watched as his friend finally dropped the strong face he had been putting on and he leaned up a little into the forehead that pressed against his.
“Of course I’d be okay,” he managed to whisper out. “Who else would watch your back?” They both closed their eyes and for what felt like forever, they didn’t move, Marvelous’s forehead resting on Joe’s and one hand resting on the top of his head, fingers threaded into his hair. “Are you staying?”
Marvelous hesitated in his answer and shook his head a little. “I can’t,” he said softly, his eyes slowly opening. “Basco’s gonna be here to pick us up in a few minutes. But I’ll be back tomorrow. I promise.”
Joe opened his eye and gave him a weak smile. He felt almost ready to go back to sleep, so he figured it wouldn’t be so bad being alone until his friend came back. As long as Marvelous was there when he woke up again, he’d be okay.
As his friend left the room after a last good bye, Joe entertained the thought of waking up to Sid’s face as well and decided that that wouldn’t be too bad either.
When Joe awoke next, it was to an unfamiliar face. It didn’t matter too much, since it was blurry and dark and all he understood was a voice telling him to open, drink, swallow, rinse and repeat. Medicine. Ah.
He fell asleep a few minutes later, only to have the cycle repeat a couple more times.
One of those times, he was a little more with it. He gave the overnight nurse a smile, and happily took his medication. As she pottered around his room, making sure he was comfortable and had everything he needed, he couldn’t help himself.
“E-Excuse me,” his voice was still a little dry and hoarse from lack of use, but the words managed to get out enough that the old nurse understood. “There’s another student here from my school… He’s in intensive care… Sid Bamick. You… Would you happen to know if he’s okay?”
“I don’t know, sorry, hun,” the nurse reminded Joe of his grandmother, kind and softspoken and caring. “But I only have one more room to finish seeing to. I’ll wander down there and have a look for you, okay?”
He managed a smile. “Thank you,” he said, even as he felt his eyelids begin to droop.
He never got an answer to his worries. He was asleep when the nurse returned and her words were lost on him in his partially drug-induced sleep. By the time he woke again, it was to a different nurse and the face of an old friend that he figured he could use as a distraction to stop him from worrying so much.
Chapter 2: Side Marvelous
Marvelous is possessive. He can't bring himself to share. But he can't bring himself to hide anything from his best friend either.
By day four of Joe’s stay in hospital, Marvelous was getting pretty sick of the place. He could only stay between certain hours, and there were so many rules he had to be careful of. But hell, it beat being in school.
Even if when he arrived in Joe’s room he was instantly turned away again because the nurses were in there changing his dressings and all that stuff that, really, Marvelous wasn’t sure he wanted to be there to see anyway. Even if he didn’t like the idea of leaving Joe, his Joe, alone in a room with strangers putting their hands all over him.
Not that Joe was really his. It was more an unspoken rule that where one was, the other was right by his side. They’d grown up together, been in the same classes and the only activity that they didn’t do together was club. Joe had chosen kendo and Marvelous had opted on no clubs. Nothing held his interest enough. He’d just hang around the school grounds and wait for his friend to finish before walking home with him.
Once or twice, Marvelous had taken an opportunity to sit in on the kendo trainings. Joe had been, unsurprisingly, impressive. He could fight. Marvelous already knew that. They’d been in their fair share of street fights together while growing up, fighting back to back and supporting each other. It was a change seeing him with a weapon in his hand but there was no surprise in seeing how easily he had picked up the art, how easily he took on the students in the year above.
What did surprise him, though, was the second year that Joe seemed to keeping a close eye on. Marvelous had recognized him almost instantly. Everyone knew the kind second year with the near white streaks in his hair. No one had yet worked out whether they were natural or not yet, but no one could remember him not having them. Marvelous didn’t care about those streaks. From that day on, he’d decided he wasn’t exactly fond of the boy that he’d only previously known as his older brother’s classmate.
Sid Bamick. The high school’s renowned kendo captain. An easy-going guy who seemed to be able to get along with most everyone.
It was hard to believe that same guy was the one lying on the bed in front of him here in intensive care. The only thing that really gave away that it was Sid was those unmistakable streaks in his hair. To say he liked he looked like shit was putting it lightly. He’d been worried when he’d first seen Joe with all his bandages and patches and the amount of blood and gravel staining the cloths that had been used to clean him. The first time he’d paid a visit to Sid’s room, he’d been surprised that the guy had even survived.
His entire body was covered in bandages. One of his legs was in a solid cast from where he’d taken the brunt of the force of the car and a wrist was in a cast from when he’d landed at the other end. His face seemed to be the most undamaged place, nothing but a small pad taped over his cheek. He didn’t look any different now, a couple days later. He was still wearing the oxygen mask and it occurred to Marvelous that maybe the older boy hadn’t woken at all.
“Are you a friend of Sid’s?”
The voice made Marvelous suddenly aware that there was someone else in the room. He looked to the chair beside the bed, blinking at the woman there and stumbling over his words. “U-Uh….”
“Oh, you’re the Akaki boy, aren’t you?” The woman gave him a smile and slowly stood from her chair. She stepped around the bed and held out a hand, which Marvelous shook without hesitation. “I’m Elizabeth. Sid’s mother. You’re Basco’s little brother, aren’t you?”
“Y-You know Basco?” Marvelous couldn’t help his surprise.
Elizabeth tittered behind her hand softly and nodded, slowly returning back to her seat. Marvelous couldn’t help but notice how tired and worn she seemed, and he didn’t doubt that she’d spent sleepless hours worrying over her son. “I know Basco,” she said, leaning forward in her seat to brush a strand of hair from Sid’s forehead. “Sid has brought him home many times. He’s an interesting boy. Very flamboyant. I think it’s the energy that lets him and Sid get on so well.” For a moment, her eyes went distant, just watching her son, before she pulled herself back and looked at Marvelous again. “Were you coming to check on Sid?”
“…I think so,” he said slowly, properly stepping into the room. He kept his distance, though, not wanting to intrude. “I’m actually here to keep Joe company but I wasn’t allowed in his room just yet so I thought I’d come and check on Sid while I wait.”
“Joe…?” The woman looked thoughtful for a moment before she gave a weak smile. “Oh, I remember. Joe Gibken, yes? Sid was asking after him when he woke up last night.”
Marvelous’s eyes went wide. “He… He woke up?” As much as he hated how the senior seemed to be unwittingly affecting his friendship with Joe, hearing he was okay was a relief. “That’s great! Joe’s gonna be so relieved.”
“What happened?” The question made the boy freeze and blink. “I know Sid was hit by a car, but before that… No one can tell me.”
Leaning back against the wall, Marvelous lifted his arms to fold them across his chest. His eyes drifted from Sid to look down at his feet instead. “He saved Joe,” he murmured. “This annoying senior was picking on Ahim, one of our friends, and Joe stepped in and stood up for her… Things got a bit heated and next thing I know, this as—“ He cut himself off from potentially cursing in front of the woman and quickly thought of a more appropriate word. “Jerk shoves Joe out onto the street. I don’t know if he saw the car coming or not, but Sid did… He comes out of no where and shoves Joe out of the way at the last moment and…” He trailed off. It was obvious what came afterwards. He waited a moment before lifting his gaze to glance at Elizabeth.
Her eyes were wet and focused on her son again, but a small, sad smile sat on her lips. “Oh, Sid… You really are your father’s son.” What that meant, Marvelous couldn’t even begin to fathom. “Thank you, Marvelous. It’s so much easier knowing that if he’s in here, it’s because of a good cause rather than foul play or idiocy.”
A steady beeping slowly grew louder as Marvelous slowly stirred and it took him a brief moment to realize where he was. He blinked his eyes opened to the view of a hospital room, Joe’s room, and gave a confused glance to the blanket draped around him.
Marvelous turned his head and gave his trademark smile as he spotted Joe, awake and sitting up just slightly thanks to his bed having been repositioned. “So are you.”
Joe nodded and reached a bandaged arm out to pick up a glass of water, lifting it to his lips to take a sip. “I’ve been awake a few minutes now,” he said, his voice coming a lot easier now than it had when he’d first woken up. “A nurse came in to give me my medication. She put the blanket on you since you were shivering.”
“What time is it?” Marvelous let the blanket slide off his shoulders to pile up in his lap before lifting his wrist to answer his own question with the watch on his wrist. “Wow… I musta fallen asleep a couple hours ago.” He pulled the blanket off his lap and dumped it onto the foot of Joe’s bed before moving his chair closer to the bedside. “Anyway. I got some great news.”
“Yeah,” his lips pulled back in a smirk. “Sid woke up last night. He’s still in intensive but he woke up and he’s gonna be okay.”
Marvelous had to fight to stop his smirk from faltering. The way Joe’s eyes widened, the way his entire face lit up at being told such a simple piece of news… Marvelous couldn’t help but feel a little jealous.
“Can I see him?” Joe was already trying to sit up more, obviously ignoring the pain he was putting his body through trying to do so. “I want to go and see him.” Marvelous was on his feet in an instant and pressing as carefully as he could on his friend’s shoulders.
“No,” he said, a little too urgent for his liking but it didn’t matter so much. He had perfectly good reason to be so worried. “You aren’t allowed out of bed. The nurses will chew you out if they catch you out of bed.” It took a moment but eventually Joe conceded and lay back down.
Once his friend was relaxing again, Marvelous sat back down in his chair, one hand resting on Joe’s. “His mom’s with him,” he explained, lacing their fingers together. “We spoke for a little while you were getting your dressings changed. She said that the only thing he was worried about when he woke up was if you were okay.”
Joe’s eyes stayed on their hands, and he gave Marvelous’s hand a squeeze. “Was he awake when you were there?” he asked quietly, eyes lifting to focus on his friend’s face. Marvelous just shook his head. “I hope I can go and see him soon…. I want to thank him…”
“I know you do,” Marvelous returned the squeeze and lifted his free hand to brush his friend’s fringe away from his face. The dressing over his eye had been removed to reveal the reason it had been there in the first place. A line of dark stitches emphasized a hairline cut underneath his eye. “But right now… you need to just relax and focus on getting better, okay? And then, when you’re all better, then you can go and see him. He’ll probably be out of intensive by then and awake more often anyway.”
And until then, Marvelous was going to sit here at his bedside for as long as he could. Just the thought that maybe, maybe, Joe wanted Sid’s company more than his made him… jealous. He wouldn’t admit it out loud, but he was fine admitting it to himself. He didn’t want to lose Joe, especially not to someone like Sid. He’d known Joe longer, dammit, and he was way better for his friend than some… some… stupid popular kid that didn’t know anything about Joe.
And he was going to prove it. He didn’t care what it took. He refused to go down without a fight.
Chapter 3: Side Sid
Returning to school a month and a half after the accident and everything feels completely normal, even with the little addition to his life.
It took almost a week for Sid to move from intensive care to the regular ward, but he was glad to finally be out. It just seemed a whole lot less stuffy in the regular ward, even with still having to wear the oxygen mask and all the bandages and the casts. It was a nice change seeing his mother relax and actually get some sleep as well rather than worrying over him every second.
He couldn’t remember anything of the first few days in hospital at all and when he finally woke up, all he could think about was how he had gotten there. He remembered just walking past with some of his classmates and overhearing an argument of some sort. Nothing unusual. After that was a blur, a rush. Joe’s face stood out from the blur, shocked, staring at him and then… everything after that was just black. Painful, searing black.
Joe… He’d asked his mom about him the first time he’d woken up and she’d just blinked at him in confusion. And then the second time he’d woken up, she’d smiled and informed him his kouhai was okay without him even needing to ask. Definitely something pleasant to wake up to amongst the pain wracking his body through the haze of painkillers and the deadweight on his leg and wrist. He didn’t need the doctors to tell him he was off kendo for a good long while. But he didn’t care. As far as he was concerned, it was better than any alternative.
He wasn’t allowed many visitors. His mother never left his bedside even after he was awake more and more often. His friends from the club showed up on occasion, his vice and one or two others from class. They could never stay for long, though. Just long enough to throw around a few jokes and get a good idea of his progress and remind Sid that there was something waiting for him beyond the white walls of the hospital that seemed as though they wanted to lock him in forever.
He managed, on occasion, to get his mother to leave as well. At least to get outside and have a walk or go for a coffee at the nearby café, just so she got some fresh air and wasn’t constantly concerned about worrying over her only child. Well, he didn’t think that she just magically stopped worrying once she left the room, but at least he knew she was outside rather than cooped up in a depressing room. Especially when the nurses came in to change his dressings. He didn’t want her having to see how badly hurt he was. Most of the wounds that she could see were superficial wounds and barely meant anything compared to broken leg and fractured wrist and cracked ribs and that annoying internal bleeding that had kept him in intensive care for so long, but he knew they would worry her more than just being left to stare at the dressings. And even those he could hide most of with his hospital gown.
It was during one of his mother’s breaks from the room that Sid got the biggest surprise. He must’ve nodded off or something, because next thing he knew, he was being roused by a soft knocking at the door of his room. He blinked his eyes a few times to focus his vision and blink away the sleep and stared at his door.
Sid wasn’t sure if the younger boy was meant to be out of bed but it was a huge relief to see that he really was okay. Not that he hadn’t believed his mother’s words. Just seeing it with his own eyes was so much more comforting.
He lifted a hand to pull the oxygen mask down from his face. “Joe,” he greeted with his usual smile and lifted one hand, the one not weighed down by a cast, and gestured to the seat by his bed. “You should sit down. It can’t be good for you to stand up for so long.”
Joe blinked at the offer, but he didn’t need to be told twice. Slowly, since that was as fast as his legs would carry him while dragging alone his drip, he made his way over to the offered chair. He hesitated as he got closer, though, his eyes catching a clearer sight of all bandages and at least one of the casts. He bit the inside of his lip and moved to the chair and carefully sat down.
“I’m sorry…” The apology was out the moment Joe was seated. He hung his head, unable to bring himself to look at Sid. It was just too painful to see what a mess his favourite senpai, this person that Joe admired and looked up to, was in all because of him. No matter what angle you looked at it from, he really was the one at fault. “I’m sorry I put you in here, senpai.”
For a moment, there was no response, and then, a hearty chuckle. It was weak and soft and pained, but it was still the same familiar chuckle he always heard from Sid. Joe lifted his head to stare at him in surprise.
“You’ve got nothing to apologize for, Joe,” Sid assured him. He reached out his hand to the younger boy and placed it on his shoulder, giving it a soft squeeze. “If anyone’s at fault, it’s that guy who was harassing your friend. You were just doing what anyone would’ve done, standing up for your friend. That jackass was the one who pushed you out on the road. And anyway, it was my own decision to push you out of the way.” He paused to give a slightly sadder chuckle and his hand slid off the shoulder and down Joe’s arm instead. Joe reacted quickly, catching the hand and just holding it. “It’s my fault I got so messed up. I had wanted to do the really cool thing and more tackle you out of the way so that we both got out less screwed up but… I didn’t think I’d get there in time so I settled on just making sure you were out of the way. And it’s not so bad, really. We both could’ve been stuck in intensive for a week or I could’ve gotten out of this a lot worse off. Then again, none of this could’ve happened, but then we wouldn’t have ended up with these awesome scars. Plus we get to have an awesome story to tell our kids when we’re older. How many people get to tell their kids they were save by a friend from a car crash or that they got to save them AND got a lot of time off school AND got to have awesome looking scars?”
Joe stared at him in confusion. He’d originally come here to thank Sid for potentially saving his life, but that had been replaced by the urge to apologize profusely and never stop once he saw what sort of state the older boy was in. And yet here was Sid acting as though the entire thing was something that just happened daily. As if it weren’t anything to be concerned about, despite the fact that just days earlier he’d been stuck in intensive care and still hadn’t woken up.
A squeeze on his hand made Joe blink and then blush as he suddenly remembered that he was still holding Sid’s hand. Ducking his gaze again, he quickly let go and mumbled another apology, staring at his lap. And again, he was met with that same chuckle.
“You worry too much.”
Joe tensed up a little as a hand dropped onto his head but relaxed a moment later. It wasn’t that he didn’t like his hair being touched. He just wasn’t used to contact with his head unless he was fighting or it was Marvelous. He leaned against the hand a little and slowly lifted his gaze again.
“I’m being serious, Joe,” Despite his words, Sid was still smiling and his eyes were as kind and soft as ever. “You don’t owe me anything. No apologies. No taking any blame. You don’t even need to thank me. It was the right thing for me to do. A captain always looks out for his men, especially his best ones.” Joe blinked, but Sid cut him off before he could protest. “Don’t even think about it. You know you’re one of the best. You’re better than your entire year group and better than half of mine. You know that, Joe. You always have been. Ever since middle school. And you’ve got the potential to go further than I could ever dream.”
“What?” Joe finally found the words to speak, staring at Sid in surprise. “I’m not that good, senpai. I know I’m better than a lot of people in the club, but… you’re the best. You’re the one everyone’s supporting to win all the competitions and become the best in the country and everything. And now—“
“And now they’re all gonna be supporting you to do it.”
“No, they won’t. I’m not you. All they’re going to do is say that I’m the reason you can’t follow your dream to the very end. Not to mention the team won’t want anything to do with me after this.”
“They’re gonna support you, Joe.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Sid grinned. “I’ll tell them to.”
Sid figured that if Joe wasn’t actually allowed of his bed yet then the nurses obviously weren’t very strict about making sure he stayed there. There was no way he himself was going to be able to get around to visit anyone, so he was actually kind of glad that the younger boy would come and visit him during the day. He usually managed to time it so that he was there while Sid’s mother was off having her break that her son insisted that she take, but once or twice, she would come back and Joe would still be there.
The first time she had found the other boy in her son’s room had made her smile. She wasn’t quite sure how they had managed to fit, because Sid wasn’t exactly small, but there they were, lying side by side on Sid’s hospital bed, both asleep.
Sid had woken only a few minutes later, but he didn’t say anything straight away, just smiled and took a sip of his water.
“Is this Joe?” She asked quietly, rearranging the drip stands so they wouldn’t get tangled and wouldn’t hurt if either boy ended up suddenly moved. Sid just nodded, one hand idly running through the long strands of Joe’s hair where it had splayed out on the pillow they shared. “My, his hair is gorgeous.” She lifted a hand to her own dark, straight hair and ran her fingers through it. “I’m jealous. And he has such a pretty face, too. You’d never think it was the same boy.”
Sid blinked at her, his hand pausing. “What?” he questioned with a slightly quirked eyebrow.
Elizabeth tittered softly behind her hand. “Oh, Sid. Really now. I’m a mother. We know all the stories about all the local children,” she said matter-of-factly. “He’s friends with the younger Akaki boy, Marvelous. Everyone knows how much trouble likes to follow them both. They’re good fighters, both of them, and they’re good boys. Very protective of their friends. Basco’s a good fighter as well. Yes, I do know about what he gets up to. I’m a mother, remember. We know these things, Sid. No, I do not approve but they aren’t my children so it’s not my place to say anything about how someone else raises them.”
Sid took a moment to consider his mother’s words then looked back down at the boy who shifted to rest his head onto his senpai’s shoulder. “What do you think about me saving Joe, then?” he asked quietly, not looking up from his friend. His mother was all he had left as far as family went so he was always careful to not disappoint her or upset her.
“Oh, Sid…” She sighed a little and reached a hand out to pet the side of his head. “I will admit I was worried, but that doesn’t mean I disapprove. You are your father’s son, Sid. Through and through. Well, hopefully not until the end…”
“I’m alright,” The hand on Sid’s head pulled away so she could softly dab at her eyes. “I’m proud of you, Sid. I always will be with everything you do. You’re my son. How could you do anything but make me proud? Especially such a selfless son. I don’t doubt you would’ve done the same even you hadn’t known who the person you saved was.”
Sid wasn’t sure if it was because his body was under the weather or because of medication or exhaustion, but he felt his eyes slowly starting to well up. He wasn’t going to cry, no, but he just felt emotional from his mother’s words and sheer acceptance. He lifted the arm not tucked under Joe’s head to dab his own eyes dry and gave her a smile.
“Thanks, Ma,” he murmured, leaning forward as carefully as he could without disturbing Joe to give her a one armed hug and to kiss her cheek. “Love you.”
“I love you, too, son,” she returned the hug and kiss with a smile. “Now go back to sleep. You need the rest.”
Sid slept. And slept well, at that. He slept so well that he didn’t even remember being woken to take his medication. When he woke properly, it was sometime in the middle of the night. His mother was gone, back at home more than likely, and Joe was sitting in the chair instead, a book in his hands.
It ended up becoming quite routine. During the day, his mother would keep him company and leave during the middle of the day for lunch, during which time Joe would show up to talk to him or nap in the chair or occasionally on the bed beside him if Sid asked for the company.
Even after Joe was discharged from hospital, he would still visit everyday. Sid wasn’t sure why he would, whether it was because he felt he owed the older boy something since he had saved him or because he was simply relieving the inescapable boredom that came with being stuck in hospital for so long, but he wasn’t complaining. Through it, they’d come to be close friends, learning things about each other that they normally wouldn’t have had things not gone how they had.
On the day that Sid was finally allowed to leave the hospital, Joe was there right alongside his mother, the two having also become rather well acquainted from the few times Joe would sit at Sid’s bedside with her, and Sid could tell she had grown rather fond of the boy.
He continued to visit him even after he was home, stopping past in the mornings on his ways to school. It was those times that Sid got to properly Marvelous. The stopovers were only brief, ten minutes at the most, but the discomfort of Joe’s friend didn’t escape the older boy.
Sid’s afternoons at home were usually occupied by his own classmates coming over to visit and play video games with him and just hang out. He’d occasionally spot Joe and Marvelous walking past the house but they never stopped to say hi. Sid wondered how much of it had to do with the other seniors already there, and how much of had to do with Marvelous’s discomfort around him. He didn’t get much chance to wonder about it too much, his friends demanding too much of his attention to let him.
It felt like forever until he returned to school, though. Six weeks after the accident, three weeks in hospital, three doing his schoolwork from home until at least one cast was removed, he was standing at the front of the school gates. His leg cast had been the first to be removed, his wrist cast being left on for another week.
It was odd being back in the flow of school life, but, at the same time, it felt as though he’d never left. All his friends were there helping him along and he was able to attend kendo classes even if he couldn’t participate. He’d simply observe and lead from the sidelines, Joe at his side. The younger boy had been cleared for physical activity but he had been told to take it easy, so he was often unable to spar. Neither minded too much. It gave them an opportunity to talk like they had in the hospital, as friends rather than just an admiring kouhai and his senpai.
Joe had managed to insert himself rather well into Sid’s daily school life, despite the year level difference and friend group difference. Sid would usually have lunch with his own friends in the cafeteria and Joe would usually sit under a tree with Marvelous and the others, but occasionally, once or twice a week, they would break away from their group and meet up in the courtyard for lunch together.
Sid found something relaxing about just sitting down with the younger boy and eating. They didn’t always talk, sometimes just enjoying the company instead, and there were times where they wouldn’t do anything except talk and joke and act as though they’d been friends forever. A few weeks on, once Joe was completely back into kendo and Sid had finished what rehabilitation and physio he had had to undertake, their lunchtimes together, as well as any free time they had afterschool and on the weekends, was spent in the dojo, training for kendo.
They were usually rather quiet and relaxing times for them both, despite the energy and noise that it required, but as time went on, something started to niggle at Sid’s mind. It became clear what it was a month or two into their weekend sessions. That black hair paired with the pirate-esque red coat was unmistakable.
Joe never saw their sneaking audience and Sid never called him out. He never missed the disapproving looks Marvelous shot him, though. It was obvious what the other boy wanted.
Sid was just reluctant to make it clear that he had come to want the same thing.