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Long Road to North

Chapter Text

May all beings attain enlightenment soon!

Komaeda stared at the slip of paper in his hand when he exited the Chinese restaurant. He liked buying a fortune cookie whenever he ate there, but the fortunes usually made more sense than this. Most of the time they were something simple – once he had gotten one telling he’d meet trouble at work; that day he had had a particularly difficult customer. Once one told him to stay on the sidewalks and leave the car behind; he decided to walk home that day and he ended up slipping on ice and had broken his arm.

So he had always had a two-way relationship with these predictions. Either they were spot-on, or the exact opposite would happen. That was what his luck amounted for in the end, he had always presumed.

But this one he couldn’t even decipher properly, couldn’t really get the meaning.

May… It was more like a wish, or a prayer. It wasn’t anything concrete. He pushed the piece of paper into his pocket when he reached his car. Komaeda immediately checked the time. 3:15pm. He had finished his work early today thanks to skipping his lunch break, and he could freely head home now. As he started the car, he remembered his phone had been acting up for a month now.

He should do something about that, he presumed and decided to head for the electronics shop he frequented at. Most likely they would tell him to just buy a new one at this point, and honestly he might be ready to agree with them.

… all beings… The fortune came to haunt him as he drove. If it said specifically all beings and not everyone, it most likely included animals as well, and everything alive in this planet. After all, humans weren’t the only beings on this planet. It was an interesting choice of words, at least.

He stopped at a red light and looked outside. People were walking the streets donned in warm jackets, preparing for the coming winter. The weather report had promised snow by the end of this week.

Komaeda partly wished the snow wouldn’t come yet. It made the roads hard to drive, and it made him remember some stuff he’d rather bury behind. The light turned green and he forgot all about the people outside.

… attain enlightenment… There were many things that could mean. It could mean that all beings would come to a life-changing realization, or it could mean that all beings were going to…

Die.

At least, some believed that true enlightenment would be obtained only by death. If that were the truth, Komaeda wasn’t going to take a stand on that but… It would be interesting if it was. He hadn’t ever been too attached to life, anyway. For a long time he had hoped that something would happen, something interesting, something bad that would perhaps break down his whole world and then to see the light blossom in the middle of the darkness…

And he had had hope his luck would bring something like that his way. That he would obtain some meaning to his life, that this rollercoaster of luck would have brought something to do with his life. But eventually, his hopes had dimmed into the back of his mind, lurking there, waiting for a chance to resurface, only to remind him of the cruel reality that nothing amazing was going to happen. When he had turned 18, he had finally gotten himself a job and moved away from the orphanage.

Now, at the age of 22, he was your typical working adult with a weird cycle of good and bad luck. The most boring outcome of them all. He had even gotten himself a girlfriend from the office, to maintain the picture of normal life. He rarely met with her outside of work, however. She was a boring, normal person and he’d rather not have her grow too attached to him.

… soon! If he were going by the theory that attaining enlightenment meant death, then maybe this tiny slip of paper was trying to tell him the end of the world was about to be here. Or at least, it hoped it would be.

Komaeda couldn’t help but agree with this slip of paper. The end of the world would be perfect.

The lights turned green right as he drove to them, and he was about to leisurely pass them when suddenly a person stumbled onto the road, right in front of his car. He slammed the brakes, hoping that the car would be able to stop in time. He briefly wondered whether this would be the moment he was going to attain his enlightenment as the back of the car began to slide, and his heart was beating at a fast pace, the way it had beaten years back when his parents had died.

His car however stopped before anything bad managed to happen, and his heartbeat slowly quieted down. As soon as he managed to gather his thoughts, he tried to open the door to check on the person who had stumbled into his way. But as he put his hand on the handle, the passenger’s door on the other side of the car opened. He recognized the man climbing in as the same blur of person who he apparently had managed to dodge.

“Hello there. Are you alright?” Komaeda asked as the man climbing in closed the door behind him. That was when he noticed the knife in his other hand, and excitement filled his thoughts right away, quickening his heartbeat again.

“Give me your phone, then drive.” The other just said as he pointed the knife towards him, low enough that it couldn’t be seen from outside. Not that there was anyone right now, Komaeda had chosen the less populated way in the first place. For a moment he wondered what would happen if he refused; the thought exciting him even further, but he deemed it more interesting to see where this was going.

So he took his phone from his pocket and handed it to the intruder. Now that he took a better look at him, he noticed his clothes were all too big on him and didn’t… seem to suit him at all. It was highly possible they had been stolen from someone. The messy brown hair was dirty and the olive green eyes glared at him.

A smile found way into his lips, and Komaeda had to do everything he could to not hum as he began to drive. For a moment silence filled the car, the young man on the next seat was eyeing Komaeda with suspicion, like he couldn’t believe it would be this easy. But no matter what, the white-haired man wasn’t about to struggle. He was outright overjoyed right now; resisting was the last thought in his mind.

“Where will we go?” Komaeda asked instead as the next intersection approached. The stranger didn’t say anything, instead he just stared until they passed by the lights. “It’s alright if you don’t have a clear plan yet, but it would be easier if you had some place you wanted to go. You took my phone so I can’t go to my original destination and get it fixed.”

“It’s broken?” The stranger said, bewildered as he took another look at the phone.

“Just acting up. It still works.” Komaeda answered lightly, cheerful even, now that he got the other to say something. The stranger was silent again for a while, and they managed to pass yet another intersection before he parted his lips again.

“Your house.”

“Alright.” The roads were still devoid of other cars, so Komaeda made a U-turn without warning. The stranger clutched on the door in terror, and Komaeda flashed a calm smile at him. “You should put your seatbelt on, for your own safety.”


 

“My house is that way.” Komaeda said as he stepped out of the car. The stranger ran around the car quickly and soon Komaeda felt the tip of the knife tingling on his back. Instead of terror, he felt comfort at the touch and he tentatively started to walk towards his house, the other man stalking close behind.

Now that they were out of the car, Komaeda could notice that the stranger was just slightly shorter than him. His clothes would probably fit the stranger just fine.

He realized they must look strange the way they were, the stranger walking right behind him, trying to conceal the knife. It would be problematic if someone saw them and called the police.

“We look mighty suspicious like this.” He said, keeping his voice as calm and gentle as he could to try and make this stranger trust in him, “I will not run away.” He added, and for a moment the knife lingered slightly farther away from his back, and when he was just about to think he had succeeded, the knife returned to his back even more closely than before. Komaeda was almost certain it was already piercing his jacket, and he just accepted it. It was understandable. Trust was hard to build, and few words weren’t going to cut it. He nodded to himself as an agreement to his thoughts and continued walking.

When they were closing to his house – it was the old house of his parents, one he had inherited after becoming an adult – he slowly dug the keys out of his pocket, feeling the knife shifting against his back. The stranger’s hands were probably shaking. It had become quite obvious that he wasn’t certainly used to this and that he didn’t have a clear idea in his head what he was trying to achieve.

That was okay with Komaeda, though. He was ready to wait for this person to come into conclusion on what he wanted to do, and then go along with whatever he desired.

This was a possibility to make everything matter.

As soon as he opened the door, the other pushed him in with his free hand and slammed the door shut behind them. He backed away to the door and when he reached it, he slowly slid down against it to sit on the ground. Komaeda stood there for a while and just looked at this stranger, before starting to take his shoes off.

“Do you want something to eat?”

The stranger stared at him, the same suspicious look still donning his face. Komaeda tilted his head to get some reaction out when enough time passed in silence, and eventually the stranger nodded and climbed up from the floor, holding the knife out again.

“I have left-over pizza in the fridge, if that’s okay with you.” Komaeda explained as he carefully walked towards the kitchen. The stranger’s eyes were darting around in the room, as he studied his surroundings carefully.

“Piz…za?” He said hesitantly in answer.

“It’s from yesterday, don’t worry.“

“… Yeah.” The stranger muttered as they walked into the kitchen. Komaeda opened the fridge-door and took out the pizza box. But before he could place it on a plate and put it into microwave as he had been planning to, the stranger snatched the pizza and began to eat it cold. The white-haired man stared for a while, leaning against the counter.

“It’d taste better warm, I’m just saying.” He said eventually. He reached his hand into his pocket to check the time from his phone, only to remember it had been taken. The stranger shot a glare at him and continued eating. Komaeda sighed and turned around to take a glass from the shelf. But as soon as he turned his back, he felt the tip of the knife on his back.

“W-What are you doing?!” The stranger said loudly, his voice trembling.

“Are you not thirsty?” Komaeda just asked without getting bewildered. A silence filled the room for a moment, but eventually the tip of the knife left his back and he took out two glasses like he had originally planned to. As he turned on the tap and let the water run, he could hear the stranger munching on the pizza hungrily. As he began to fill the glasses, he wondered when would be the best timing to actually ask where this stranger had come from and what were his plans for now. He turned around to offer the glass of water to his guest.

“My name is Komaeda Nagito. I understand this might be hard to believe, but I’m ready to go along with whatever you’re planning on doing.” He said as the stranger took the glass from his hands, only to be answered with yet another suspecting look. Instead of being thrown back, he took a sip of the water himself and smiled, “Would you like to have more fitting clothing? I’m sure my clothes would fit you just well.”

“You don’t know me.”

“You’re right, I don’t. Like in the same way you don’t know me either.” Komaeda said and poured the rest of the water into the sink, “I’m your regular office-worker, who is utterly bored with his life and has been hoping for something different to happen. To put it simply, right now I’m excited. You’re like a dream come true.” He continued explaining, and when he turned around to look at the stranger, he wasn’t surprised to see a look of disbelief.

“… You’re creepy.”

“I’m afraid that is something I can’t change, but I hope you will allow me to assist you nevertheless. I have the car, I have way more than enough money for whatever you need and I want to get rid of my current way of life, if just possible.” Komaeda said, his lips wearing a smile filled with delight as he walked closer to the stranger and reached his right hand towards him. “I do understand if you’re unenthusiastic about my offer and would rather find someone else, but I am willing to do anything to change your mind. Would you let me help you?”

The brown-haired man looked from Komaeda’s extended hand to his face, clearly feeling conflicted.

After a silence had stood between them for almost a minute, instead of meeting another hand Komaeda realized he was holding the piece of pizza in his hand. This managed to throw even him into a slight confusion for a moment.

“You said it’d taste better warm.” The other said circumspectly.

“… I did. I’ll warm it up, then.” Komaeda said as he turned around to take the plate from the cabinet. As he put the pizza on the plate and opened the microwave door, the other moved next to him and put his knife on the table.

“If you’re willing to help me, then I suppose I will use you until I don’t need you anymore. For now, you can call me Hinata.” He said and leaned against the counter. “The most important things are that I remain hidden, and get far away from here. No one can know where I am.” He added and Komaeda nodded, barely able to hide his bubbling excitement. He set the minutes on the microwave and turned to look at Hinata.

“Alright, then how about we leave tonight? You eat and change clothes, and I’ll pack all the necessities.“ Komaeda proposed. The humming of the microwave filled the room as Hinata seemed to consider his idea.

“Let’s do that. Get me some better clothes while I eat.”

“Yeah. But before anything, I need my phone for a moment.”

“… Why?” Hinata was immediately on his toes, the suspicion returning quick into his eyes. Komaeda flashed a reassuring smile as he offered his hand.

“I just need to call my superior and drop out of work. People will start to look for me if I just disappear.” He explained and the microwave began to beep loudly. Hinata looked at him for a moment as they listened to the beeping, until he seemed to come into a decision and dug the phone out of his pocket, giving it back.

“Call now, while I’m listening.” He ordered, and Komaeda just nodded and dialed the correct number. He half-expected the other to take the knife again and point it at him, but Hinata just put his hand on the knife and waited. In a sense, it felt even more pressuring and the white-haired man felt his body shudder with delight. The familiar beeping greeted him on the phone, amusing him for the few seconds before his boss picked up. She had always been quick to answer her calls.

Chief Kirigiri from the Kyoto sales department of Togami Corporation.” She introduced herself as calmly as always.

“Komaeda here. This might come out of nowhere, but I need to resign.”

Quit? I’m not sure I get what you mean. You can’t possibly mean you will leave the company?” Her tone was sharp, and if you didn’t know her you wouldn’t even notice the brief confusion in her voice.

“Yeah, there’s been an emergency…” Komaeda said carefully, and Hinata flinched and twirled his fingers around the knife’s hilt, prepared to hit him. While he wanted to keep this game going, play with his life a little, he decided to stop kidding around. “The headman at the orphanage I came from has collapsed, and they are in dire need of help right now. While it’s regrettable that this came so suddenly, I hope you can understand that I need to go back.”

I do understand the need, but there is no reason for you to quit completely. We can find you a spare for as long as needed. If you just keep informing us regularly, I’m sure we can work on an arrangement…

“Sorry. But I think I want to take this chance and just quit completely.” Komaeda interrupted her calm explanation. The other man in the room had settled down now, and was eating the warmed-up pizza. “I thought I’d use my savings a bit and see the world. Who knows, I might return someday but it won’t most definitely be anytime soon. I did say this might happen when you hired me, didn’t I?”

… You did. I somehow hoped that day wouldn’t ever come.” She heaved a heavy sigh, before going on. “If you’re absolutely sure, then I need you to submit a resignation letter. I would ask it for tomorrow normally but you’re probably in a hurry. Drop it off by the office before you leave, I’ll be working here until late night again.

“Thank you. I appreciate this. I enjoyed working under you.” Komaeda said as a formality, and they bid their farewells. After ending the phone call, he turned to Hinata and flashed a smile. “Do you want to break this phone?”

“… No, I’d rather keep it. Just… Just in case.” Hinata said with a frown and snatched the phone from Komaeda’s hand. “Get me those clothes. I also want to borrow your shower.”


 

The muffled sound of the shower echoed through the house. Komaeda finished writing his letter of resignation and placed the pen on the table. He had packed up all he needed – which wasn’t much, as he had found out. It was mostly clothing and everything he needed for hygiene. He even packed one of his spare toothbrushes for Hinata. Overall, they all fit into one bag. If they ever ran out of anything, they could just buy it.

The silence in the room greeted him now that he didn’t have anything to do, and he decided to turn on the TV to check the newscast for the weather. The temperature was dropping a bit every day, and the snow was still expected to be there by Sunday. So nothing had changed. He left the TV on when he still heard the shower running, and settled down on his couch. Soon he was going to leave this place. Maybe for good. He might not ever return to this couch, settle down into the corner of it with snacks.

What a joyful option.

Suddenly a familiar face appeared on the TV screen, and Komaeda leaned forward.

The local police are currently on the lookout, and they say it is highly unlikely this man has left the Kyoto Prefecture. They advise the locals to not approach him carelessly, as he has a history of being mentally unstable. Instead report all sightings immediately to…” Suddenly the sound of shower disappeared, and Komaeda immediately turned the TV off. It would be better if he pretended not knowing anything, and waited for Hinata to tell this stuff first. Otherwise he might just decide that Komaeda knew too much of him too early, and just take and leave.

The white-haired man sunk to the sofa and stared into the ceiling. All his nerves felt like they were still tingling from the thrill of this situation.

Chapter Text

”I suggest you keep your head down while I’m gone. I won’t take long.” The odd man with white hair said, and Hinata just nodded as he cozied up in the backseat. The other, who had introduced himself as Komaeda, had suggested that he stay in there, since the back-windows were tinted. As the other walked towards the building towering over all the others, Hinata stared at his back.

He really couldn’t believe this had gone so smoothly. The first person he had met, and that person had been completely cooperative, even more willing to help than Hinata presumed anyone would ever be.

Well, any sane person at least. Hinata couldn’t shake the idea from his head that he had managed to stumble into someone dangerous. It would be a different thing if this person had been some kind, world-saver person who had pitied him. But Komaeda seemed to be… doing this for some whole another reason. He was hard to understand, in the same way that she had been compared to others.

Hinata shuddered.

He clutched at the knife in his pocket and concentrated on breathing to calm himself down. In, out. In, out. In, out. Soon he felt his heartbeat calming down, and he let out a sigh of relief. He had to keep himself together; even though he wasn’t under surveillance anymore, he still felt the need to prove that he was sane already. He wasn’t under her effect anymore, he knew who he was.

He was sane.

He wasn’t that person anymore. He was Hinata Hajime, and he was completely sane.

He shook his head and glanced out of the window. It had been few minutes since Komaeda had disappeared behind the glass doors. Hinata wasn’t sure where the other was planning on going, but he was happy with it as long as it was far away from here. There wasn’t much time left, and he didn’t want to spend the rest of it locked up somewhere he didn’t belong to. So as long as that wish was granted, he was fine with whatever. He didn’t really even know much about Japan outside of Kyoto.

Komaeda had given him a small pack with a pillow and a blanket, just in case he felt sleepy. While he had thought the idea ridiculous back at the house, now their softness looked inviting. He hadn’t slept in couple days now, and the time was nearing 8pm. They could be driving for a while now, and the idea of sleep was... tempting.

As chill ran through his body in the cold, unmoving car, he decided to at least take the blanket.

But as soon as the warm blanket was wrapped around him, he started to feel even more comfortable. If only there was something soft between his head and the corner of the car… Eventually he picked up the pillow too, to feel more comfortable.

Not even ten minutes had passed since Komaeda left before he had managed to fall asleep. He woke up briefly when the other came back, but the lack of any loud noises and the calm humming of the car quickly lulled him back to sleep. He didn’t even remember that he should have been cautious, he didn’t remember that he was in the car of a complete stranger, and he didn’t even remember that he was currently on the run.

The only thing that mattered right now was the softness enveloping him and the warm air filling the car.


 

“Hinata-kun? Hey, can you hear me?”

The words awoke Hinata slowly, with a hand gently shaking him by his shoulder. The words sounded almost nostalgic, and he slowly opened his eyes to see Komaeda peering over him, flashing a smile.

“Ah, you woke up finally. I’m sorry to disturb your sleep, but I just booked us an inn room and I’m sure a futon would be a lot more comfortable to sleep in than my car.” He said gently as he stepped back. The grogginess ran away from Hinata’s mind as soon as he remembered the current situation, and he quickly threw the blanket off. He hadn’t been supposed to fall asleep.

“How long was I asleep? Where are we?”

“It’s been four and half hours. You didn’t specify where you wanted to go and I didn’t dare to wake you up, so I just drove into Gifu prefecture, into a small town I once visited. It’s easy to go anywhere from here.” Komaeda said as Hinata scrambled out of the car, feeling the tiredness in every single one of his bones. He dug the phone out of his pocket to check the time: the midnight had passed a short while ago. So about four and half hours. He glanced at the inn that was standing a bit farther away. But before he could start walking towards it, the other stopped him.

“Before we go in, I think you should put this on.” Komaeda said, holding a wool hat. Hinata glared at him in suspicion. “It’s getting cold.”

“… Alright.”

Hinata put the hat on, and after locking up the car Komaeda began to lead him towards the inn. Despite his warning words about the cold, the white-haired man wasn’t wearing anything on his head. His hair seemed thick enough to probably be warm, though, so maybe it was that. Hinata shook his head to get his thoughts gathered. He had to stay awake for a while again. The cold air was helping him recover and he almost cursed the moment they stepped inside the warm inn.

The old lady at the counter bowed to them when they walked in, and they responded in kind, Hinata slightly later. It had been a long time since he had been treated like this.

“Do you want to take a bath? They have closed the outdoor bath already, but the inner bath is open till 2am.” Komaeda asked as they walked the hallways. “Or would you like to go back to sleep? I already spread the futons in our room.” He continued gently. The consideration from the other was weird; it was something Hinata was most definitely not used to, not at least in a real way. Back there people had talked to him in the same way, but it had always been fake. Fake kindness, fake promises, and fake care.

So it was only natural that he felt put-off by all this. There was no way to know this wasn’t the same way; he had been away from the world for too long to recognize whether this was real or fake. When Komaeda looked back with his head tilted, Hinata turned his eyes away. He felt like he was a child being pampered. And while that was something fairly nostalgic, something he hadn’t even realized he missed, he still felt the need to refuse. Relaxing in a situation like this sounded too absurd.

They reached their room eventually without Hinata ever answering, and when Komaeda opened the door, the temptation to sleep took Hinata’s thoughts over for a brief moment when he saw the soft futons lying on the floor. He’d kill for a good night’s sleep.

But he managed to brush those feelings off.

“You said we’re in… Gifu Prefecture?” He asked as he headed into the room, taking his jacket off. Komaeda closed the door behind them and followed suit.

“Yeah. Couple hours north from the main city. I once stayed in this inn due to work, so this was a familiar place to me. Would it have been better to go south from Kyoto?”

“… No. North is better. Definitely better.” Hinata muttered. South was bad, it was dangerous. It had been a long time since he had had a map on his hand, so he didn’t even remember the location of Gifu, but it was a stroke of luck that Komaeda had decided to head here. The white-haired man flashed a wide, satisfied smile at his words before the edges of it softened.

“Lucky~ I reserved the room for couple days for the starters, but if you feel like it we can head off tomorrow already. That is, if you have some place in mind.” He said. Hinata glared at him; it was scary how smoothly he was doing things, like he was prepared for everything that could happen and everything that might’ve happened…

… There was no way. Komaeda couldn’t know about him.

“I… let’s stay here for a while. I want to think.” Hinata said reservedly, clutching his fingers around his sleeves. For starters, he needed a map. He should be able to find one somewhere. He could make Komaeda help him plan; he just had to think of a way to do it without revealing he didn’t have any idea what he had in mind.

“Yes, that’s fine with me. Are you sure you don’t want to take a bath? I know I will.” Komaeda said, as he dug out a kimono from the closet. Hinata just shook his head as he seated himself in the corner of the room. As the other began to change his clothes, Hinata fell into his thoughts.

Most of them lead quickly into the edges of sleep however.

Almost as soon as Komaeda left the room, Hinata crawled under the covers and let his body be devoured by his dreams.

Chapter Text

The bath was empty when Komaeda walked in, and he sighed. Now would have been the perfect time for Hinata to take a bath too, since anytime else there would always be someone else. He at least presumed the other didn’t want to take a bath surrounded by strangers. Though, now that he thought about it…

Maybe in Hinata’s books, he was counted as one of these strangers as well.

He soaked into the water, and felt his muscles relaxing as he got surrounded by the warm and gentle feeling. He really felt like Hinata could’ve benefited from at least bathing for a moment, no matter what the other said or thought. After all, he had seemed nervous and uptight ever since they had met, and hadn’t seemed to be able to calm down at all. Komaeda had been really surprised that the other had taken up on his offer and had taken a nap on the backseat. Although, maybe he just couldn’t help it. He might have not been sleeping enough for a while.

Komaeda slowly lowered himself into the water, until finally his whole head was submerged. In that case, maybe it was better the other had stayed back. Hinata might find it hard to relax in his presence, so if Komaeda’s guess was right, he had gone sleep soon after being left alone again.

Would be good if he had. It wouldn’t do if the other was too tired. He’d just be more paranoid and nervous than usually, and that would make talking with him just harder. It would be better if Hinata would just trust him. He didn’t mean anything bad; it’s just that the more he knew, the easier it would be to help and plan.

But well, he had been right to head north, at least. Most likely it had been his luck at work.

He raised his head up from the water and let out a long sigh. Something bad might happen soon. He could just hope that it would be compensating only for that small thing; there was still no way to know whether all that had happened today would end up being good or bad luck, after all. He still didn’t have any idea what Hinata was up to, so that would be the big point where he could start to figure out whether this was bad or good luck.

For now, he just had to hope for the best.


 

The air chilled to his very bones as Komaeda walked outside wearing just the thin kimono; he had been walking back to the room, but then decided to take a little detour to outside. The warmth from the bath that had been lingering on his skin quickly disappeared from the way of the freezing air. The relaxed, easy feeling from the bath slowly faded away as well, and his heart began to thump faster again.

He wasn’t sure he’d sleep much tonight. He was still feeling all giddy, and as he looked up into the sky, his lips curved into an excited grin.

Finally something had happened. His boring life had been left in Kyoto, and if everything went well, he’d never return there as well. The house he had inherited would slowly just collect dust alone. After enough time, the windows would probably get broken by robbers, who’d empty the house of the valuables. The paint would slowly rot away, the grass in the yard would grow without care and moldy leaves would cover the roof.

Years later, it would be called a haunted house and young teens would probably invade it to get some excitement in their boring student life. They’d find all the closets and drawers open, they’d read all the notebooks and bills they found and analyze all about the people who must have lived in that house before it fell apart, wondering what happened to have left the place forsaken.

They’d find all sorts of papers about a couple with a sweet child, they’d read about the plans for a plane trip from the mother’s diary, how they were going to show their son the world and how they were going to surprise him with a huge teddy bear that would be awaiting their return in the living room. And they would turn the page to read all about how happy the child must have been, but from there onward there were only blank pages. They’d look at each other, crest-fallen, and venture deeper into the house until they reached the child’s room.

They would find the teddy bear sitting in the middle of the room, torn apart. The other ear would be missing, the stuffing was all around the room and despite all that, the bear had a gentle look on its face as it greeted the visitors. Chills would run down their spines, and after giving each other hesitant looks, they’d close the door and leave the room untouched. They’d scramble their way out of the room, sharing theories of how the parents must have died in the accident and how the child had had his poor heart broken and hadn’t returned to the house ever since.

The grin from his lips had slowly faded away with his thoughts.

After he stood there in a silence, he began to laugh. Those teens would be wrong in their theories. The child had returned to the house when he became an adult. He had lived in the house, slept on the sofa in the living room, used the fridge to store food he had brought home in containers, and showered in the bathroom. But he hadn’t stepped his foot into the second floor. The second floor belonged to the family that had lived there, to the gentle parents and their sweet child.

In the silence of the night, his laugh was the only thing he heard as he felt relief flushing over him. He wouldn’t have to return to that house anymore.

Never again.


 

Komaeda woke from his dreams slowly; the reality pulling him closer bit by bit.

He could hear Hinata walking around in the room already. So even though he was completely awake, he kept his eyes shut and his breathing calm. He wanted to know what the other would do alone.

The footsteps kept pacing around the room, occasionally stopping for a moment to only start again. When Komaeda was almost about to give up on hearing something interesting, the room was filled with the loud ringing of his phone. The sound stopped almost immediately, when Hinata presumably rejected the call. It was almost too fast; he was probably holding the phone in his hands when the call came.

The footsteps stopped for a while, and then they headed towards Komaeda’s futon. Soon he felt Hinata shaking his shoulders.

“Wake up…” He mumbled, and Komaeda just mumbled and turned around. He knew this was childish of him, but he was interested in the other’s reaction. “… Hey, wake up. I’m not up to this… Seriously... … Wake up, Komaeda.” At the sound of his name, his eyes shot open and the other scrambled away from him, surprised as Komaeda sat up.

“Good morning, Hinata-kun. Did you sleep well?” He said cheerily, and the confused look in Hinata’s eyes turned into an angry one.

“I’m hungry.” He declared as he stood up and walked to sit by the little table in the room. Komaeda stretched his arms as he yawned, before getting up.

“What time is it?”

“9am.” Hinata answered curtly as he stared outside from the window.

“In that case, they should be serving breakfast right now.” Komaeda said as he pulled on his kimono leisurely. “Should I ask them to deliver our breakfast into the room or do you want to eat in the dining hall?”

Hinata didn’t say anything, just gave him an annoyed glance. Komaeda smiled and nodded as he walked out of the room. It was mostly a rhetorical question anyways. Unlike when they had arrived, there were sounds of people talking and laughing now. While he was walking here, Komaeda presumed he should take a look at the current situation and see how much people there were. And if just possible, he should try to find out whether there were a lot of people from Kyoto, who might know to be on the lookout for Hinata.

As he had expected, he found the innkeeper in the dining hall, overlooking the breakfast.

“Good morning.” Komaeda greeted her, and the old woman turned to look at him with a gentle smile.

“Good morning. Is your coworker feeling better?”

“Yes, he said his condition has improved during the night. He is still very tired, and said he’d rather dine in our room.” He explained smoothly, and the innkeeper just nodded and passed the message on to one of the workers. Komaeda looked around in the dining hall; there were a little more than twenty people here. It was less than usually when he was here; but at this time people were busy with their work, so it was to be expected.

“Has there been any visitors from Kyoto lately? My coworker’s daughter was coming to visit around here, but he couldn’t remember where she was staying.”

“You’re the first visitors this week from Kyoto, but last week we had few.” The innkeeper answered after pondering for a while, and Komaeda nodded with a smile.

“Thank you. Seems like she didn’t come here. A pity, really. This is the best place to stay here, after all.” He said reflexively, his experience working in the sales coming through strongly. Though, he had often heard he wasn’t too good at flattery; people said he came out as overly eager to compliment and it mostly put people off.

But, at least it worked with elderly.

“You’re a sweetheart. We have had few visitors coming here as well, telling me they got good recommendations from you. We thank you for your kind words. Now, would you like to eat before the food gets cold?” She said with a delighted smile, and Komaeda nodded.

“I’ll take up on your offer with pleasure.” He said. He would’ve rather eaten in the room with Hinata, but it might be better to give him some personal space to get his thoughts together now. For one reason or another, he had seemed really grumpy after all, and as far as Komaeda knew, he had the talent of making grumpy people just angrier. So he would eat here and take his time before returning.

Chapter Text

I just heard you quit. Why didn’t you tell me?!‘

‘Where are you right now?’

‘Could you please answer me?’

‘I’ll call you during the break.’

‘Don’t.’

Hinata glared at the mails. He didn’t even know the name of the person who kept sending these to Komaeda’s phone, since the contact was just saved as Girlfriend and nothing else. She had eventually called despite the message Hinata had sent her, and he had just rejected the call.

Komaeda woke up soon after that, and had left to get breakfast for them.

Why didn’t you answer!? I want an explanation. I heard that there was something up in your old orphanage, are you okay?’

The newest message that had arrived soon after Komaeda left was now waiting for an answer. He wasn’t sure whether he should answer again or ignore her messages and phone calls from now on. And even if he were to answer, what would he say? That Komaeda had been sort of kidnapped by him and they were heading north? That most likely Komaeda would never return? She would just most likely call cops on them. And that was exactly what Hinata wanted to avoid.

He’d just have to figure out some way to make this seem as unsuspicious as possible while keeping her at distance. Hinata growled in anger as he thought how Komaeda should have mentioned this beforehand and taken care of it with his job. This was an inconvenience Hinata had not wanted.

After glaring at the phone for a while and thinking about some sort of idea, he began to type a response.

‘Everything is okay. I’m really busy, and don’t have time to keep contact.’ He frowned as he re-read what he had wrote, before deciding it wasn’t enough. I won’t come back there anymore so we should break up.’ If this wasn’t enough to shake her off, Hinata was going to just smash this phone once and for all. He didn’t have the time and patience to worry about this, he had more important issues at hand and…

He almost fell from his chair when someone knocked on the door, and while his body was prepared for a fight or run situation, the door opened to reveal a young woman.

“I have brought your breakfast.” She said politely as she pushed the tray into the room. Hinata barely managed to mumble his thanks, before the door had already slid close. He stared at the tray for a few seconds, collecting his thoughts before he went to fetch it. As he began to eat, the phone beeped again causing him to curse.

I understand you’re busy, but can’t you at least find enough time to call? I don’t feel good about breaking over text message… And besides, to me the distance is not a problem, we don’t have to break up just because of it!’

Hinata groaned.


 

When Komaeda came back, Hinata had still not managed to get this woman to stop mailing. So when the white-haired man stepped into the room, Hinata quickly put the phone on silence and slid it into his pocket.

Komaeda smiled mysteriously and seated himself on the other side of the table. Hinata shifted in his seat, feeling uncomfortable under the other’s staring.

“When that runs out of juice, just tell me. I brought a charger with me.” Komaeda said and for a moment, Hinata considered just asking him to take care of getting rid of the girlfriend. He knew her better, so he should be able to say the right words to throw her off. Especially since she was insisting on calling, and Hinata wasn’t going to try pretending.

But he couldn’t do that. It was too risky to make Komaeda talk to his girlfriend at this point; there was a chance he’d change his mind and want to go back home to his love. Even though Hinata did feel like the other didn’t care much at all, considering how eagerly he had left in the first place, but still. He didn’t want to try; dealing with this little inconvenience was a whole lot better than having the other leave. He clutched at the phone in his pocket; he’d have to make sure to not answer her when Komaeda was present.

“… Yeah, I’ll do so.” Hinata answered, staring at the table between them. The tray was still there. Hinata wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do with it, but before he could ask Komaeda, the other took it and carried it back to the place Hinata had taken it.

“The staff will take it from there, don’t worry.” Komaeda said and Hinata stared at him. The other had had a way too accurate timing for that, like he had read his thoughts. It would be bad if his thoughts really were that easily seen on his face.

“So what do you want to do now? I mentioned yesterday that I got the room for until tomorrow, but it can be extended if you feel like it.” Komaeda continued talking as he returned to the table. Hinata frowned as he kept his eyes on the table. He knew what he wanted, but he had no idea how much he should tell the other about his plans. According to Komaeda’s phone the date was November 28th, which meant he still had over a month left before it’d end.

He shifted in his chair again. He kind of wanted to go around before that. He wanted to go and see all the places he hadn’t been able to before. Most of all, he wanted to...

“Tokyo. I… have some business in Tokyo.” Hinata said and glanced at the other. Komaeda still had the smile on his lips, giving a most likely unintentional mocking tone to his expression.

“Then should we leave today already?”

“U-uh, no. No need to, I mean you already paid for the room and all so we can leave tomorrow. There’s no hurry.”

“Really? If you say so.” Komaeda said and leaned his cheek against his hand. “We could get a refund, even though it wouldn’t be all of it. You don’t really need to worry about money.” He continued. Hinata shook his head.

“No, it’s… it’s alright, I want to see this place a bit…” Hinata said and clutched his hands into fists. He felt like he was a demanding kid that was being pampered. He really wished Komaeda would be less kind and understanding, and more like… leading, Hinata supposed. He was feeling really lost right now and it’d be so, so much easier if someone were to direct him through this— this confusion.

But hadn’t that been why he left? To get away from people instructing him to do everything?

He had the chance to do everything he wanted now, and he should use it as long as he had time. And Komaeda seemed more than eager to help him achieve whatever he wanted, so he should just do just that… even if it made him feel a bit uncomfortable.

“Show me around, you know this area.”

Komaeda just nodded cheerfully.


 

The air outside was chilling, and Hinata was really grateful for the jacket and wool hat Komaeda had provided for him. They had been walking the streets of the small town in silence for a while now, but despite awkwardness between them, it lifted his spirits to walk around in peace and just look around. This was his first visit to a small town like this, and he was constantly intrigued by the small shops.

He really wanted to go into one of them, but the silence between them felt heavy and impenetrable, and he just kept longingly looking at the buildings they passed by. He noticed that the other was glancing back at him occasionally, and he tried his best to pretend he didn’t notice.

As yet another shop caught his eye, this time Komaeda wordlessly headed towards it. With conflicted feelings, Hinata followed behind.

A small bell rang as they opened the door, and a pleasant, calm aroma surrounded them as they walked in. Hesitantly Hinata began to wander around in the small space. The shelves were filled with all sorts of small glass craft. On other shelf there were small figurines of animals, on another there were glasses and bowls, marbles – each one of them sparkling in different colors and sizes – and models of buildings, especially shrines…

The beauty of all this was overwhelming, and all the hesitation quickly shook off as he slowly got more and more mesmerized by all of them, wandering around in the shop and trying to see all of it and imprint them into his memory. If he lived in this area, he felt like he’d come here every day, just to see everything new that had been made.

He got so absorbed into the browsing, that he didn’t even notice Komaeda approaching him.

“If there’s anything you’d like to have, we can buy it.” Hinata jumped in surprise at the other’s voice, and took few cautious steps away from him reflexively. Komaeda didn’t seem put off by this at all, and instead he just smiled again. “Part of the reason why I’ve visited this town so often is this particular shop. I’ve always regretted the fact that I couldn’t buy anything from here.” He continued, looking at the glass animals wistfully. Hinata stared at him in confusion.

“Why couldn’t you buy anything?” He asked, and Komaeda just shook his head. Before Hinata could inquire further, the other turned to look at him again.

“But really, if you have anything you’d like, please tell me. If you’re the one keeping them, I’m sure it’ll be fine.” Komaeda said cheerfully. Hinata glared at him, feeling like the other was brushing him off with his promises. Deciding that he was going to ask about this again later, he started to look around to find something he’d want.

Eventually, he ended up looking at the marbles: anything else would be too inconvenient to take with, and the marbles were beautiful with their exploding colors. As he began to study them carefully to find the one he really wanted, he couldn’t shake off the wistful look in Komaeda’s eyes. If the other loved these so much that he even came to visit this town for them, there was no feasible reason why he wouldn’t buy something. He had even had a big house, there would’ve certainly been space for these. And even if not, something small like these marbles could easily be carried with you everywhere if you wanted.

Hinata rolled one marble in his hands and sighed. It was the first time in a long while that he wanted to understand someone.

Chapter Text

Komaeda slid his finger over the mint green line on the glass vase. The glasswork was really just as beautiful as always, everything done with great detail. He could only admire the effort the maker had put into them. It was really a shame he didn’t have any proper way to show his appreciation. Buying them would be a waste, as his luck was prone to break anything he carried with him, especially something as fragile as glass.

He glanced at his companion, who was crouching in front of the marble shelf. As he had hoped, Hinata had been mesmerized by this place and had relaxed somewhat from the annoyed and tense state he had been in. Hinata was looking at the marbles carefully, and Komaeda wandered to the counter. The old man turned to look at him with a gentle smile.

“It’s nice to see you again.” He said and bowed slightly.

“This time I’ll buy something. For my friend over there.” Komaeda said as he dug his wallet out of his chest pocket and took out a 10,000 yen bill, handing it to the old man. “Here’s the payment for whatever he takes, I’m pretty sure it’ll be enough.” He said and glanced at Hinata, who was still looking at the marbles with a frown on his face. The old man looked at him too, and shook his head.

“This is way too much, I’m afraid.” He said and tried to give the bill back, but Komaeda just took a step back.

“Keep the rest, please. I understand you don’t like taking money without giving something back, but this is probably the last time I’ll be here and I’d regret it forever if I never could give you anything. Take it as thanks for letting me spend hours here without ever buying anything.” Komaeda said and smiled at the way the old man’s brow furrowed. “If it is still not good enough of a reason for you, just give the change to him.” He nodded his head towards Hinata and the old man sighed.

“Don’t say you won’t visit anymore, it’d be a shame to not be able to show you the things I’m planning on making.” He said, the gentle smile returning to his lips. Komaeda returned the expression, with a wistful tone.

“And it’ll be a shame that I won’t get to see them. If it ends up that I’m able to come back, I promise I will.“ He said, and then he noticed Hinata standing up, holding something in his hands. After sharing a slight bow with the old man, he turned to look at his companion. “Show him what you’re taking, they’re paid for already. I’ll wait for you outside.” As he spoke, he walked to Hinata and passed him after patting him on the back. He could see from the corner of his eye that the brown-haired stared after him for a while, before he walked out of the door.

The cold air felt refreshing, and he cast his eyes on the sky.

It felt sort of liberating, to realize he wasn’t going to come back to all this places he had frequented all these years. While he did like this town and loved this shop, everything he regularly did were just another sign of him settling down in a normal life. So even the thought of breaking free from his life just made it easier to breath. And he had Hinata to thank for that.

The small bell rang as the door to the shop opened and Hinata walked out. Komaeda spun around to face him, smiling widely.

“Did you find something you liked?” He asked, leaning closer to the other. Hinata stepped back away from him and nodded with a somewhat nervous look. Komaeda tilted his head, watching as Hinata shifted for a while uncomfortably, before extending his hand.

“I don’t get why you couldn’t buy something for yourself, so I got this. It’s your money anyways, it should be used for you normally…” Hinata rambled as he held out the marble. Komaeda studied it in silence, his thoughts ringing empty. The marble was made of midnight blue, transparent glass and across it was spread small drops of white silver, surrounding a small crescent in the middle of it.

The night sky.

It was beautiful, and for a moment Komaeda was mesmerized by the whole situation of Hinata buying something for him, and he hesitantly raised his hand to take the marble. But then pictures of it smashed on the asphalt ran through his eyes, and he shook his head while maintaining his smile.

“It’ll just break if you give it to me. I’m… I’m really grateful and happy that you thought to buy a gift for me, but I cannot accept it.” He said and enclosed his hands around Hinata’s extended one, closing it in a fist around the marble. He held the warm hand for a brief second, before pulling away. “Would you like to go to a café and have something warm to drink?” He tried to change the topic, but Hinata glared at him.

“Stop avoiding the question. Why not?”

Komaeda smiled and pointed at the café down the road.

“I won’t avoid it, but let’s sit down somewhere warm first. The tea they make is quite delicious.” He said as he began to walk. Hinata stared at him for a moment in suspicion, before following him. Komaeda glanced at his companion, and hid his hands in his pockets so that the other wouldn’t notice the way they were slightly shaking.

He mustn’t be too happy.


 

As Komaeda placed their orders to the waiter, he could see Hinata staring at him like he was a wild animal at risk of running away any second. And as soon as the waiter walked away, Hinata tensed up in expectation as Komaeda turned to face him.

“The reason isn’t probably as interesting as you expect it to be.” He started his explanation, and the other leaned slightly closer unintentionally. “As I said, it’d break sooner or later in my hands. All my life I’ve been plagued by this cycle of good and bad luck. Something bad would happen, and soon after that something good would happen. Or something good would happen, and it’d be followed by something bad. And I’ve noticed the pattern of ‘something bad’ is usually the loss of something I liked or cared about.”

Hinata glared at him, eyes full of disbelief.

“It can’t be that bad. It’s not certain that it would break.” He said, as Komaeda had expected. It would be all too easy if people would believe him with just few words.

“I guess at some point I might have believed that, too. But I’ve gotten used to it now as just one part of my life… It might seem weird and unbelievable, but that’s just the way it is.” Komaeda said, looking out of the window pensively. Hinata frowned and leaned back on his seat, letting the silence flow between them, only broken briefly by the waiter bringing their teas.

Komaeda didn’t touch his tea at first, settling to looking at Hinata taking his first sips and smiled as the other clearly liked what he got. He eventually brought his cup of tea to his lips, letting the liquid warm his body up. No words were said for the rest of their time in the café, and while the other clearly fell in thought, trying to make sense of what he had heard, Komaeda just enjoyed the peaceful silence between them.


 

The silence wasn’t broken between them until they walked outside and reached the stairs to the shrine.

“Do you want to go see the shrine here? It’s a beautiful sight to see.” Komaeda offered, and Hinata nodded after a moment of hesitation. They began to climb the stairs, Hinata walking few steps behind him. After a small while they reached the top, and Komaeda let the other pass him. The old, well-kept shrine was a stunning sight as always, and Komaeda just stood there for a while, reveling in the realization that this would be his last visit here as well.

Eventually Hinata returned back to him when he didn’t follow, and Komaeda snapped out of it. They began to tour around the place, still quiet and calm. They wandered around until they ended up in the frozen garden in the backyard, where Hinata headed to a bench by the small pond and sat down to rest. Komaeda stood by the icy pond for a moment before turning to look at Hinata.

“Can you show me the marble for just a little moment?” He asked tentatively, torn by the unfamiliar feeling of nervousness for a reason he couldn’t really comprehend. Something just made him feel like this one moment was important, that the outcome of this situation would somehow change him. And whilst he had always thought change was a good thing, that things advancing and developing was just a sign of things turning a bit more interesting for a moment, this time his heart was heavy with anxiousness.

And while he was still struggling with his inner dilemma, Hinata had dug out the marble and held it in his hand for Komaeda to see. The marble shone slightly, making it near impossible for Komaeda to draw his eyes away from it. The other held it patiently, seemingly in thought. The moment was soft, and the silence surrounding them was gentle like a blanket on a cold night.

It was getting harder and harder to resist taking a hold of the marble, as it kept pulling him closer like a magnet. While it was just a small piece of glass, Komaeda felt like it had some significance to him. Like it was important. And the more he felt this way, the more he knew he should keep his hands away.

“Thank you, you can put it away now.” He said. Hinata nodded, but instead of putting it away he just brought it closer to himself, looking at it in thought and spinning it around in his fingers. Eventually he caught the marble in his fist and turned to look at Komaeda.

“How about if I keep it for you? It’ll be yours, just carried around by me.” Hinata said with a determined look. Komaeda froze for a brief second, staring at the other in surprise. A wind began to softly blow through the garden as the two of them stared at each other for a moment. Komaeda clutched his hands into fists, his thoughts getting messier and for some reason unable to form a proper sentence. For the first time in years, he found himself completely at loss for words. Hinata tilted his head as a frown spread across his face, and the white-haired man just gave him a small, brief nod.

Hinata then stood up from the bench and began to walk back the way they had come here, and Komaeda followed him hesitantly, his whole mind still baffled by something he couldn’t understand, a lurking feeling he didn’t recognize about to consume him. Before he managed to get his act together, Hinata suddenly stopped in front of him, turning to look back. As their eyes were locked for a moment, Komaeda felt fear, like a premonition of something bad that was going to happen. It made him almost want to run away, escape the situation, as if it would make everything disappear, would return his emotional state back to normal.

“I want to understand you.”

And as Hinata spoke the short sentence to him, he could hear a bell ringing in the distance as his heart began to beat so loudly that it hurt, and his legs felt like they were about to give out. Even as Hinata’s back turned towards him as he began to walk away, he still couldn’t stop his thundering heart and the ringing echoed in his mind. The realization of what this feeling must be slowly enveloped him, making him feel despair and hope at the same time and he slowly began to walk after Hinata. He knew this should not have happened, he should have seen this coming and he should have prevented it, but even with that knowledge, he still couldn’t help but want to let it consume him fully.

He couldn’t go back to his normal life anymore.

Chapter Text

Hinata stepped into the bath water carefully. It was already late at night, and according to Komaeda they should take a bath now since there weren’t many people around. Hinata wasn’t really sure why the other worried about stuff like that, but he didn’t mind the peace and quiet. He felt his muscles relaxing and he couldn’t help sighing. He hadn’t even remembered baths felt this good; it made him almost regret not taking one last night when the other had offered.

Komaeda slid into the water as well, keeping a comfortable distance between them. Hinata appreciated the space the other gave him; there weren’t any intrusive questions and he let Hinata do as he pleased without expressing any doubts.

But while it was comfortable to be this way, it was also weird and suspicious. No normal person would be this adaptive, this willing to just help someone who had threatened him with a knife on the first meeting. So while it felt like he had been lucky finding someone ready to help him to this extent, he still couldn’t shake off the feeling like the other was somehow abnormal. But instead of scaring him, Hinata found himself slightly intrigued in his companion.

At this rate, he would spend the rest of his time with him, so it would be beneficial for him to get to know Komaeda better. He watched with mild interest as the white, fluffy hair slowly flattened as it got wet, and he thought about what the other had said about his luck. If something that unbelievable was true, it might somewhat explain why the other wasn’t so shocked by this situation. He still didn’t fully understand how this supposed luck worked, but maybe he would witness some of it soon.

He turned his eyes away from the other and began to draw circles on the water. Komaeda had been pretty quiet since their walk, like he had suddenly fell in thought and Hinata could just hope it wasn’t anything bad. If the other was having second thoughts, he wasn’t sure what he would do. He did still have the knife, but he couldn’t really keep Komaeda under his radar constantly. He remembered the phone, and the constant mails from the mysterious girlfriend. He had almost forgotten about it during the day, and he sighed as he imagined the amount of messages and phone calls the phone must have gotten.

It would be just so much easier to just not answer her, but there was no way to know whether she’d get suspicious. He was still contemplating whether he should ask Komaeda to get rid of her: but without knowing how much he cared for her, it was hard to know if it was a good choice or not.

“Hinata-kun?” Komaeda’s voice startled him, and he turned to look at the white-haired man. Komaeda smiled like he always seemed to do lately. “Should I wash your back for you?” He offered cheerfully, and Hinata immediately shook his head. The other just kept on smiling like he had expected the answer and closed his eyes, sinking slightly deeper into the water. The tips of his hair floated around his head in the water, and Hinata thought that maybe he could find out about the girlfriend by asking about Komaeda. It’d also help him get to know the other better.

“Why are you… like this?” Hinata asked before he could really get his thoughts together, and immediately regretted his wording. That had most definitely not been the best way to get around to this. “Uh, I mean, why would you so readily leave with someone like me? I don’t think that’s normal.” Hinata tried to correct his words, but there seemed to be some sort of clog between his thoughts and mouth, and he decided it was good enough. He had never been a master of words anyways.

The other didn’t answer right away, instead smiling in the same way he always seemed to – Hinata was slowly growing used to it already, it felt like it was some kind of a habit for Komaeda to smile like that.

“You’re implying that I’m not normal, then?” Komaeda said finally, but he didn’t sound offended, instead it seemed like it amused him. “I suppose you’re right. If you take the normative way of thinking, I don’t really live like that. I guess you could say that I don’t hold the same weight for my life as most people seem to, so I don’t mind life-threatening situations as much and instead see them as a chance for using this life to witness something interesting. I don’t just want to live the typical life, I want to see something that will excite me and… just see something great spring out from nothingness.”

Hinata found himself speechless. While the absurd words should not have made any sense in his mind, somehow he felt like he knew the feeling Komaeda was trying to explain – the words strung his heart along with them even if his mind couldn’t really comprehend why. He understood wanting to see that, and he knew this feeling was proof that he was his own again. And just slightly, he felt like that maybe, maybe, maybe Komaeda would believe him, would understand if he told him of why he was here and what he had experienced.

That maybe he had found someone who’d listen.

“Do I bother you?” Komaeda asked, breaking Hinata out from his thoughts. He wasn’t sure if he imagined it, but the white-haired man seemed like he was a little bit concerned by the answer. This would be the first time Hinata were to witness it though, so he couldn’t really say. He shook his head and stared at the surface of the water quietly. They were surrounded by the silence for a while, the air around them filled with faint anxiousness.

“I just… can somewhat understand what you mean, I guess.” He said eventually, and from the corner of his eye he saw the smile return to Komaeda’s face.


 

Hinata returned to their room first, and quickly checked out the phone before the other would follow behind. The phone was flooded with mails and phone calls as he had expected, and he quickly realized he wouldn’t really have the time to read them all. He checked out the few more recent ones, each filled with both concern and annoyance over not receiving an answer.

‘I said I would be busy. I don’t have the time to keep messaging you every day.’ Hinata typed and sent the message, and after checking the time he dropped it into his pocket. It was almost 2am already. He wandered to the small table and seated himself on the same chair as earlier. He was feeling exhausted, but in a whole different way than yesterday. They had spent almost the whole day walking around the city peacefully. Compared to what his past few days had been, today felt absurd in Hinata’s mind. It was so normal-like, something he thought he’d never get to experience.

The door got opened and Komaeda walked in, drying his hair with a towel. He seated himself on the opposite side of the table, again holding that smile on his lips.

“How early do you want to leave tomorrow?”

“… How long will it take to get to Tokyo?” Hinata asked, and he felt the phone vibrating in his pocket. He’d have to ignore it for now.

“Well, if there’s not too much traffic and we find a good hotel with vacancy soon, a little over six hours.” Komaeda answered. “So if we just leave somewhere in the morning, we should be there by the evening even if something came up.” He shrugged and leaned back on his chair.

“Then let’s just leave when we wake up. It doesn’t really matter that much.” Hinata said and yawned. “I’m going to sleep now, you do whatever you want.” He stood up from his chair and was about to head to his already spread-out futon – Komaeda had probably spread them out when he had told Hinata to head to the bath first – but he got stopped by the other’s hand grabbing his sleeve. He shot a surprised look at the white-haired man, who seemed slightly surprised by his actions as well.

“What is it?” Hinata asked as he shook his hand free.

“Uh, sorry Hinata-kun. I just thought… could I see the mar—my marble quickly before you go to sleep?” Komaeda asked, slightly bewildered. Hinata frowned, not really understanding the need for the sudden request, but nevertheless he dug the marble out of his pocket and held it out for the other to see.

He really couldn’t understand what it was about this marble that made Komaeda’s eyes fill with warmth and calmness, but even without knowing the other well Hinata could clearly see the difference. It felt a bit like he had done something good, and he really didn’t mind feeling like that.

Eventually the warmth slowly turned into somewhat of an anxiousness, and Hinata had his hand enclosed around the marble again by Komaeda’s hands. They stood there in silence for a few long seconds, before the white-haired man smiled again.

“Sorry to be a bother, you can go to sleep now. I’ll go take a short walk myself, but I should be back soon.” Komaeda said and let go of Hinata’s hands. The brown-haired man just nodded. He slid the marble back into his pocket as he watched Komaeda leave the room, and for a brief moment he felt slightly afraid. The other had been weird ever since their walk in the town, and Hinata didn’t know what he’d do if the other wouldn’t return from his walk.

So even though the sleepiness tried to pull him towards the futon, his feet began to slowly take him after Komaeda.

Chapter Text

Surrounded by the chill night air once again, Komaeda heaved a long sigh as he walked down the street. He felt like having the lid to his feelings opened was making him more careless. He had acted out of an impulse couple times already, unable to hold back his tongue. And while it still wasn’t too much, while he still managed to think through most of the stuff he said and did, he still didn’t want to cover himself in the comfort of it being only slight change.

If he didn’t address this issue right away in his head, it could very well lead down the slippery slope and become a really, really bad habit. He didn’t want to ruin this opportunity he had finally gotten, and that meant he had to be careful with what he said. If he wasn’t careful, he might easily scare Hinata away. The other was still jittery, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he were to take and leave any moment.

Komaeda chuckled dryly. With the direction his thoughts were going, it was like he was the one who was the kidnapper here, with all his desperation to keep the other by his side. He looked up the sky, watching his breath turn into mist and slowly disappear into the air. The moon was hidden behind the clouds tonight, and it reminded him of the possibility of snow. He just had to hope it wouldn’t snow tomorrow, because it’d slow down their travel considerably. The first days after it had snowed were always filled with such fuss over it, and the traffic would be horribly slow for couple days.

It would be good if they just reached Tokyo before that.

Surrounded by the silence as he had been, he could easily notice when there were suddenly footsteps behind him. He glanced back to see the person, and his eyes widened in surprise when he saw Hinata jogging towards him.

“Hinata-kun? Is something wrong?” He asked in surprise as he stopped to wait for the other. Hinata caught up to him soon, and for a moment they just stared at each other in silence. Komaeda tilted his head in confusion when the moment seemed to stretch on, and Hinata bit his lip as his eyes wandered into the asphalt.

“You… You’re not…” Hinata stuttered awkwardly, before he shook his head and faced Komaeda again. “You’re not planning on leaving, are you?”

“Eh…”

“Because that—that is not allowed. You promised already you’d help me.”

“Hinata-kun, I—”

“I can’t do this on my own, I need your help. It’d be unfair of you to back out now.” Hinata’s voice was growing more and more desperate, and Komaeda flinched in surprise when the other suddenly grabbed his shirt by the chest and pulled him closer. “You said that meeting me was a stroke of luck, but so it was for me! You can’t change your mind now.”

Komaeda stood there stunned for a moment, staring into Hinata’s blazing eyes and he couldn’t stop his hands from shaking as he felt the heat radiating from Hinata’s breath. He could faintly hear the distant bells in his head again, and an involuntary smile spread on his face.

Hilarious. This whole situation was hilarious; and he couldn’t stop himself from bursting out in laughter as he lifted his still trembling hands to the hands holding his shirt, taking a hold of them. Hinata was glaring at him, clearly infuriated by this reaction. Knowing he’d be unable to talk right now, Komaeda just held Hinata’s hands strongly as he let all the laughter flow. The other was getting more irritated as he clenched his fists around the shirt tighter.

“I’m…” Komaeda said breathlessly as his laughter began to fade. “Hinata-kun, you don’t have to worry. I’m not going anywhere as long as you don’t tell me to. You hold all the cards in this situation, so please do not worry anymore.” He continued a bit more calmly this time. Hinata’s frustration slowly turned into relief and from there embarrassment and he shook his hands free. Komaeda let him go and smiled widely as the other avoided looking at him.

“Should we return to the inn?” Komaeda asked gently and Hinata just nodded swiftly.


 

Komaeda set the bag on the backseat of the car and closed the door. They had ended up sleeping a bit later this morning, but it was still 11am so they weren’t really in a hurry. The weather report had said it would snow next night, so they should be in Tokyo way before that. He opened the door and seated himself on the driver’s seat. Hinata was on the seat next to him, nervously switching around in his seat.

“Do you need to go? We’re not in any—”

“What?! No!” Hinata blew out, looking at him like he was asking something stupid. Komaeda smiled as he put on his seatbelt and turned the car on. As he navigated out of the small parking lot, he couldn’t help but notice the other was gradually getting more restless. He wasn’t sure what was stressing the other, but as an attempt to turn the situation a bit lighter he turned on the radio. Light, classical music filled the car and it seemed to at least catch Hinata’s attention, as he eyed the radio occasionally.

When they turned the road towards a downhill, Hinata clutched the edges of his seat and Komaeda realized what was bothering the other.

“There’s no need to worry, despite my recklessness the day we met, I’m usually a cautious and good driver.” Komaeda said lightly and Hinata shot a surprised look at him. “So even with my luck, we shouldn’t get into accidents. And even if we did, I’m fairly sure it won’t be anything serious.”

“How can you be sure?” Hinata asked, still clutching the edges of his seat even though the downhill was long gone already. Komaeda smiled softly.

“My bad luck reflects on the things I care about, and not on me. So as long as I’m in the car, it’s pretty unlikely we will crash.” He explained, and Hinata eyed him with suspicion. Komaeda couldn’t really blame him. The only thing he could do was just be as calm as possible, as to not agitate the other more. They were quiet for a while, with only the music filling the silence. Hinata seemed to calm down gradually, and eventually was glancing out of the window in thought.

When they reached the highway, Hinata broke the silence.

“You… You don’t have any family, do you?” He asked while shooting brief glances towards Komaeda.

“Oh? You’re right, but I’m kind of curious how you figured that out.” Komaeda said lightly, but his fingers clutched around the steering wheel just a bit tighter. He hadn’t talked about his parents in years with anyone, and he wasn’t sure how he felt about talking about them now, after so long. He smiled to hide the discomfort from the other; if the other had some questions about him, he wanted to provide answers.

Especially if… if the other wanted to understand him. Komaeda wasn’t sure that was possible, he knew exactly how hard it was to understand him but somewhere inside him he wanted to believe Hinata might be able to do it. While he didn’t feel like he was lonely or had been lonely, still the thought of having someone understand him and stick by him nevertheless was for some reason making his heart feel lighter.

“I… I don’t really know. I just got the feeling… there was just something about your house, it was too big to live in alone but then again there wasn’t anyone but you.” Hinata said slowly, like he was trying to get his thoughts together as he spoke. “Besides, if you had family… If you had a family, I don’t think you’d be so… flippant about your own life.” He added so quietly that Komaeda almost missed it. Komaeda tilted his head slightly. He wasn’t too sure what Hinata had meant with the last words.

“My parents died in a plane accident when I was a child, and outside them I didn’t really have any close relatives.” He explained as he began to pass by the slower car in front of them. “So I spent a big part of my life in an orphanage, before coming back to that house.” He tapped the wheel with his index fingers. He always avoided talking about this matter with people because he was so tired of all those lifeless words of condolence. No amount of sympathy was going to bring his parents back had been the only thought in his mind even when he was a child. And now that it had been so long, there was even less meaning to them.

“Didn’t you ever think about selling the house?” Hinata asked after a small pause, and Komaeda took a moment to comprehend the question.

“I did. But I couldn’t.” He said, before realizing it came out confusing. “It didn’t feel like it was mine to sell. The house didn’t really belong to me.” He added, and glanced at his companion. Hinata seemed to be thinking about his words, his brow furrowed for a moment before his face lit up with realization.

“You feel like it’s your parents’ home?”

“Well, something like that.” He said. The conversation shut down after that, and for a good while they were both quiet, in their thoughts. Komaeda held a tight grip on the wheel as his thoughts mulled around. He suddenly felt the weird desire to open up, to tell Hinata more and more but he knew he shouldn’t touch the old things anymore. The house was left behind as was all of his life, and he had to stay focused on the situation now. His throat felt dry and his eyes kept wandering to the other as he worried and worried.

“I…” When he finally spoke, while he immediately felt regret, he also felt some sort of relief. “I hated that house. So I’m grateful to you for taking me away from there.” He finished his sentence, and shut his lips tightly together after. That was as much as he was going to allow. He had to keep the past untouched, or otherwise he’d just be opening the old wounds for no reason.

Hinata tilted his head, seemingly unsure what to say.

“… Yeah. It seemed like a lonely place.” He eventually said before turning his eyes to the scenery passing by from his window.

Komaeda blinked rapidly few times before shaking his head and focusing on driving again.


 

Couple hours later they decided to stop by a gas station for a bathroom break. Hinata left the car immediately to head to the bathroom, and Komaeda remained in the car, burying his hands into his pockets. His fingertips met with a small slip of paper, and he pulled it out to see the fortune again. He had almost forgotten about it, in the midst of all that had been happening.

May all beings attain enlightenment soon!

He stared at the slip of paper. It still didn’t make much sense to him. Maybe this one was really was just wish-wash, and didn’t have any real meaning.

After he had sat there for a moment, he sighed and dropped the paper slip. It slowly dropped close to the gear switch, and Komaeda got off the car. He should buy food for them, since it had been a while since they ate breakfast. After locking the doors, he headed to the small store as well.

Chapter Text

Hinata stared into the mirror as he washed his hands. He felt a bit regretful for his actions last night; he had clearly overreacted. The conversation he had had with Komaeda today just further proved the point that he didn’t have any wish to go back. There was no need for worry, and with this in mind he dug the phone out of his pocket and began to scroll through the mails that had arrived. They all seemed to be pretty much the same at first, and Hinata was about to just forget about it now when he opened one of the more recent ones.

‘Is there someone else you’ve found? Because if there is, I’d much prefer you just were honest about it. This is really stressing me, and I want some closure to this situation. I’d understand your wish to break up a lot more if you have someone new.’

‘I won’t be mad if you’ve found someone else. I just want to know why you don’t want to give this a chance.’

‘I know I’m being stubborn, but this is really frustrating for me as you may understand. At this point I’d rather hear you have someone new so it’d make a lot more sense.’

Hinata read through the newest mails, and clutched the phone. Was this his chance? Of course, he could talk to Komaeda about this but he didn’t have any idea how to bring this topic about. There was just the problem that he didn’t have any idea how to make this realistic, how to properly convince her there indeed was someone else. He stared at the phone in thought, and began to write a reply eventually.

‘I met someone who’s…’ He glared at the phone and cleared the message. ‘There’s this one person I met.’ He frowned and shook his head. He didn’t have any idea how to continue from here. He decided to just give up on it now, and think about it later.

But when he was about to close the message, he accidentally pressed Send, and in terror he watched as the mail left. This kind of message would just call for a barrage of new ones coming back. For a moment he wondered if he should send another one to explain, but he heard footsteps approaching and he quickly put the phone in his pocket before the door opened. The man walking in was a stranger, and Hinata quickly left before the other would pay any attention to him. His hands were shaking slightly as he stressed the message; how was he going to explain this?

He saw Komaeda between the shelves, and he quickly headed to him. The white-haired man looked at him with the usual smile on his lips, and for some reason Hinata felt a bit calmer.

“I thought I’d buy us something to eat on the way, do you have any preference?” Komaeda asked cheerily as he put a bag of chips back on its place. Hinata just shrugged; he didn’t really have any opinion. “Really? Hmm… I’ll buy several ones, so you can decide your favorite from them.” Komaeda said and began to hoard different snacks into his basket. Hinata just stared in disbelief as the other kept stacking without seeming to care about the cost of all this would be.

As the other went to the cashier, Hinata wandered to the magazine rack and took one out at random. It was a regular gossip magazine, filled with ‘shocking revelations’ and ‘secret relationships’ about celebrities he hadn’t heard of. He couldn’t be more disinterested, but he still got startled and yelled “Oy!” when a pale hand took the magazine from his hands.

“I’ll take this too.” Komaeda said to the short man behind the counter, who just nodded with an awkward smile and beeped the magazine. Hinata frowned as he watched Komaeda take the bags with all the snacks, and took back the magazine when offered.

“I wasn’t really that interested in it.”

“That so? It’s still better to have something to do, there’s still many hours to go.” Komaeda said, his cheeriness seemingly unaffected. Hinata just sighed as he began to browse through the magazine absent-mindedly as they headed to the car and seated themselves.

“That cashier reminded me of you a little bit.” Komaeda said as he started the car and began to drive.

“What? In what way did he resemble me?” Hinata asked as he tried to recollect. The only thing he really remembered was the height of him, and the light brown hair… Komaeda looked at him with a wide smile as he pointed towards Hinata’s head.

“His hair had this one bit standing up, just like yours~” Komaeda said and Hinata groaned, turning the page on the magazine swiftly and focusing his eyes on it. The white-haired just chuckled as he returned his eyes to the road. When he was sure the other was concentrated on driving, Hinata took a quick look in the mirror to see that his hair indeed was standing up like always. A pout fell to his face as he returned his attention to the magazine.

How dumb.


 

“Why is this girl a solo-singer?” Hinata asked as he showed the page with the eccentric-looking girl to Komaeda. “She said in this interview that she still misses playing in a band, so why doesn’t she have one?”

“Ah, her… If I remember right, she had some artistic differences with her first band, and somehow she just never gathered another I suppose?” Komaeda said after glancing at the magazine and shrugged. “I don’t at least remember her giving any statement why she never got another band.” He added as he returned his eyes to the road. Hinata just nodded and turned the page.

It had been over an hour since their stop at the gas station, and he was already nearing the end of the magazine. Despite still being thoroughly uninterested in these celebrities, he had at least had something to do reading the articles. He noticed from the corner of his eye that the other was looking at him, and he switched awkwardly in his seat. He felt uncomfortable being looked at.

“Do you want to buy some books from Tokyo?” Komaeda asked after a while. “I probably should have taken some books from home when we left, but…” His voice trailed off, leaving Hinata without explanation.

“Uh, whatever.” Hinata said gruffly, not really knowing what to say. He closed the magazine and dropped it into his lap, having lost all feeling for reading. His stomach was feeling a bit empty, and he glanced at the bags on the backseat. As he began to turn on his seat to reach the backseat, he noticed a small slip of paper on the edge of his seat. His interest was sparked as he picked it up; he hadn’t noticed it before so it must’ve slipped there from somewhere.

May all beings attain enlightenment soon!

As soon as he read the words, the paper slip started to feel like it was burning hot. Despite the sensation of heat, he clenched it tighter in his hands that were starting to tremble. In his head he could hear multiple streams of thoughts shouting like they were battling, but in comparison the words that came from his lips were faint and barely audible.

“What’s this…?” He asked, without taking his eyes off the paper slip. From the corner of his eye he saw Komaeda glancing at him, but it didn’t really register in his mind.

“That? It’s a fortune I got from a Chinese restaurant…” Komaeda’s voice sounded distant, and Hinata felt his breath growing heavy. The sentence was burning his eyes, as slowly beneath the streams of thoughts a familiar voice rose again, a voice he hadn’t wanted to hear ever again, a voice he had tried to forget to the best of his ability. But now she was back in his head, and her words felt like they were screeching in his head.

Izuru-kun, soon these people will be enlightened. And then…

Hinata brought his hands to his ears as he tried to block her words. He wasn’t that person anymore, he had never been that person.

When the world ends, they will know I was right all along.

He began to yell to drown out her voice.

Chapter Text

“It’s a fortune I got from a Chinese restaurant, I’ve been trying to decipher it but I’m starting to give up –” Komaeda began to explain, but when he glanced at Hinata, it was clear that he wasn’t listening at all. He immediately realized something was wrong as Hinata began to breathe heavily. It seemed really likely that he was about to panic, and quickly Komaeda looked around to see if there was anywhere he could stop his car.

And when Hinata began to suddenly yell, he decided the side of the road would have to work. He felt his own heartbeat growing frantic as Hinata stopped yelling and began to hyperventilate, but he tried his best to keep his head cool: he could only help the other calm down if he was calm himself. As soon as he managed to stop the car, he took off his seatbelt and turned to Hinata who had tears running down his cheeks now.

“Hinata-kun, can you hear me?” He asked as clearly as he could, leaning a bit closer. Hinata glanced at him for a brief moment, and now that he was a bit closer, Komaeda could hear the other chanting “No” repeatedly under his breath, ragged and hazy through the hyperventilation.

“Hinata-kun, please try to breathe with me, okay?” Komaeda said as he began to breathe deeply, counting to ten in his head before releasing his breath, once again counting to ten. He could see that the other noticed this, and even if Hinata still seemed a bit hazy, he began to slowly try and adjust to Komaeda’s breathing, in small steps. The white-haired continued to do this, and offered his hand just in case the other needed support. For a moment Hinata just stared at the hand before grabbing it with both of his hands, clutching at it tightly. The small paper slip fell from his hands as he did so, and Komaeda discreetly brushed it away. It was clearly the trigger for this panic attack, and he wanted to get it out of Hinata’s sight.

Hinata’s breathing began to quiet down after almost five minutes had passed, but his grip on Komaeda’s hand grew ever tighter. It was starting to get painful, but he could manage the pain.

“You’re doing great.” Komaeda said as gently as he could, “Everything will be okay. If there’s anything you need, I’ll do it for you.” He added. Just like that he continued talking, trying to encourage the other as much as possible. Hinata’s hands were trembling and Komaeda’s own hand must have been bruised by now. While Hinata’s breath was mostly in control, other than small hiccups and sighs here and there, it was clearly raspy.

“Do you want to drink something?” Komaeda asked softly. He had bought drinks from the gas station as well, but they were on the backseat and thus really hard to reach. Hinata didn’t answer him, so he remained there and waited.

“Ko… Komaeda…” Hinata eventually spoke out after few minutes had passed, his voice sounding desperate and meek and Komaeda felt his heart throb as he wanted to do anything to help the other. “I’m… I’m Hinata Hajime, am I?” The words slipped shakily from his lips, and Komaeda decided it was best not to mention that this was his first time hearing Hinata’s first name.

“Yes, you are.”

“But she says… She…” Hinata stuttered, but stopping abruptly like he didn’t want to finish his sentence. Instead he glanced at Komaeda, his eyes lost and full of fear, and Komaeda felt his heart wrench.

“She’s not here. I am, and you’ll be safe with me.” He said calmly, even though his heartbeat right now was loud enough for him to hear it. In the back of his mind he had millions of questions searching for answers, but he knew he shouldn’t ask any of them before Hinata had calmed down. The other looked in his eyes, like he was seeking confirmation and Komaeda smiled as warmly as he could and nodded for reassurance. Hinata returned his smile so weakly that it might have not even been there, but it still made Komaeda realize it was the first time he had seen his smile.

“… I feel like throwing up.” Hinata said faintly, and Komaeda began to quickly help him out of the car.


 

“I’m sorry.” Hinata said quietly. They were sitting on the cold ground, just outside the car. After Hinata had finished throwing up, Komaeda had brought him a bottle of water from the car and ever since then, they’d been silent.

“There’s no need to apologize, panic attacks are never the person’s own fault.” Komaeda said. “This wasn’t the first time I’ve helped someone panicking, after all. It wasn’t exactly uncommon in the orphanage.” He added. He had been on the other end of the stick as well, but he didn’t feel like talking about it. Hinata looked at him with a thinking look, before taking another sip of water.

Komaeda smiled slightly. Hinata was still trembling slightly, but that could partially be caused by the cold. He seemed relatively calm and sound right now, so Komaeda didn’t feel the need to force his help on him. He glanced at the car and thought of the paper slip: he couldn’t quite figure out what exactly had been the triggering part of it, but it was clearly somehow connected to some person in Hinata’s past. And as far as Komaeda could decipher, it was most likely somehow traumatic experience. Perhaps some sort of mental abuse…

Komaeda’s train of thought was cut off when Hinata sneezed.

“We should probably go back into the car, if you’re feeling better already. It’s really cold, I don’t want you to get sick.” He said warmly as he stood up from the ground and offered his hand for Hinata to help him up. The other nodded before taking his hand and letting Komaeda pull him up. They were both quiet as they returned to the car, Komaeda briefly catching the paper slip back to his pocket before seating himself in the driver’s seat.

They had already returned to the road, their speed steadily accelerating, when Hinata broke the silence.

“Aren’t you going to ask what happened?” He asked, his eyes fixated to the scenery outside.

“If you want to talk about it, then I will be glad to listen. But I don’t want to pressure you to talk about it if you’re not comfortable.” Komaeda said diplomatically, even though his heart was dying from curiosity. His theories could carry only so far after all. He could notice Hinata glancing at him briefly before returning his eyes back outside. The humming of the car was the only thing surrounding them for a while again.

“Would you… would you believe what I tell you if I did?”

“If you say it’s true, then I will believe you. I don’t see any reason to doubt you.” Komaeda answered, meaning every one of his words. He could see Hinata glancing at him with suspicion, and he looked back at him with a smile. “You believed me too, after all.”

Hinata avoided his eyes, but he still nodded.

“… I might tell at some point… But not yet.” He said hesitantly, his eyes downcast. Komaeda smiled brightly as he returned his eyes to the road again.

“I’m really honored to hear you feel like I’m worthy of your trust.” He said softly, his eyes glancing towards his pocket for a brief second, containing the paper slip. “If I can be of any use to you, I’m happy.” He added as he began to tap the steering wheel with his index finger. Hinata frowned at his words and heaved a sigh, before returning his eyes to the scenery again.


 

They stopped by another gas station about an hour later. Hinata wandered to the toilet first again and Komaeda leaned back on his seat, taking a deep breath and then letting it all out. He was getting a bit exhausted himself, but there wasn’t really any time to keep a pause. They’d have to reach Tokyo in time to find a good hotel with vacancy before the snow started falling. And thinking of the snow reminded him that he should get around to change his wheels at some point, he couldn’t use these during the winter…

After letting out one sigh more, he got out of the car and locked the doors. As he walked into the gas station, he saw Hinata already squatting by the magazine rack and he headed to him.

“Is there something you’d like?” He asked and Hinata flinched from surprise and shot up.

“I-I was just looking if there was anything.” He said and looked at Komaeda. “Aren’t you going to the bathroom?” He asked as he grabbed a magazine and began to flip through it.

“No, there’s no need.” Komaeda answered swiftly as he looked around in the store. If anything, he would like to eat something. Hinata had eaten some of the snacks after his panic attack, but Komaeda had yet to take any. They still had couple hours to go, and it was almost 5pm. He reckoned a snack or two would provide enough energy until they arrived in Tokyo: they could eat properly as soon as they had gotten the hotel room.

Hinata returned the magazine he had taken to its place, and shook his head.

“There’s not really anything interesting.” He said and glanced at Komaeda. “Should we leave?”

“If you’re sure you don’t want anything. I’m going to take a cup of coffee to go quickly.” Komaeda said as he headed to the desk. From the corner of his eye, he saw Hinata hesitating in front of the magazine rack for a while, before he eventually picked a magazine and brought it to Komaeda, who just smiled as he took it.

Chapter Text

Hinata glanced briefly at Komaeda, who was refueling the car, before turning his eyes to the magazine on his lap, browsing the pages absently. Ever since his panic attack, the air between the two of them had felt awkward. He wasn’t sure if it was his imagination or not: Komaeda was acting the same as always, so it might be just him. He looked at his hands; he could still remember how cool Komaeda’s hand had felt, the comfort it had provided.

And even though the emotion was weird, something he hadn’t even remembered he could feel, Hinata felt like he could trust his companion. There were still many question marks about the other, he still couldn’t understand most of what Komaeda said, but he felt like the intention behind his actions was just sincerely the wish to help.

The door opened and Komaeda seated himself on the driver’s seat. When Hinata looked at him, his look was immediately returned with a warm smile, and he quickly turned his eyes outside of the window. Komaeda’s smile had quickly grown from familiar to comforting, and that scared Hinata. He didn’t feel like he should trust anyone; he knew there were always consequences to trusting others and as long as he didn’t know anything about the other, he shouldn’t be seeking any sort of comfort from him.

As long as it was a possibility Komaeda was going to betray his trust, it was too risky to mindlessly trust him. It was the logical decision, but then again he desperately wanted to trust someone for a change. And Komaeda just seemed so trustworthy, had been so kind and understanding so far…

Hinata shook his head as he picked up the magazine again to find something to distract his mind with. From now on he’d need to consciously avoid trusting Komaeda too much: it was already strange enough that he didn’t instinctively take distance from him, as he had from everyone until now. Especially when he had known the other for just few days. He was certain this feeling of trust was just an illusion, some lingering feeling of comfort that had been left from his panic attack.

After turning the pages for a while without reading anything, he dropped the magazine to his lap and sighed.

“Hinata-kun, I’m sorry to bother you, but would you do me a favor?” Komaeda asked as he noticed this, and Hinata tilted his head. “I’d like to eat something, so could you give something for me from the backseat?”

Hinata just nodded as he turned on his seat, reaching for the bags. As he dug a few things out of there, he realized that this was the first time the other was eating since this morning: he had been so preoccupied with his own worries that he hadn’t even realized the other had been just driving without replenishing himself at all, except for the cup of coffee he had taken from their last stop that had already been emptied. No wonder the other hadn’t gone to the bathroom at all either if he hadn’t been drinking anything. Hinata took out a couple of different drink bottles as well, and retreated back to his seat.

He probably should try to pay attention to the other a bit more.

He opened the wrapper on one of the snacks and offered it to Komaeda, who accepted it with words of gratitude. Hinata fiddled with the bottles as the other ate, feeling slightly restless. He wasn’t too good at helping others, but he was pretty sure he could manage to do this. So when Komaeda was done eating the snack, he quickly opened one of the bottles and offered it to him.

“Here, something to drink…,” he said, his voice trailing off. He was feeling more and more awkward every second, and he felt his cheeks heating up when he saw the look of surprise on Komaeda’s face. But before he managed to give up on the idea from his embarrassment, Komaeda smiled softly and took the bottle.

“Thank you, Hinata-kun,” he said and Hinata just nodded, shooting his eyes to the scenery passing by.


 

Hinata looked up to the sky when he noticed the snowflakes falling. The dark night sky greeted him with clouds, and for a moment he just followed the falling snow, leaning against the car. They had arrived in Tokyo almost an hour ago, but from there on their travel had slowed down considerably. They had finally gotten to the hotel Komaeda said he had once visited due to his work, and he was currently inside, checking out if they had any vacancy.

He shivered in the cold, and glanced towards the hotel. It had been over five minutes already since the other went in, and Hinata was starting to get cold. He really wanted to eat something warm soon.

As he began to fantasize about all sorts of food he could ask to eat, he didn’t notice right away when Komaeda returned.

“Hinata-kun, should we take our stuff to the room first or would you like to go somewhere to eat? They have a good restaurant at the hotel too, but there’s all sorts of different restaurants in the area as well,” Komaeda said, surprising Hinata.

“A-ah, okay. Uh, let’s just take our stuff into the room… is it possible to eat there too? In the room?“ Hinata said, his words scrambling out as he slowly got his thoughts together. The other just nodded with the same smile as ever as he took their bags from the car, and they started to head towards the hotel.

“Yeah, they have room service too, if that’s what you’d prefer. Would you like to take a bath after eating?”

“They… have a public bath?” Hinata asked, and immediately felt stupid. Of course the other wasn’t talking about a public bath, there must be a personal bath in the room. He should’ve remembered that much even if he had been out of touch with this for so long. He glanced at Komaeda quickly, but the other didn’t seem fazed at all by his dumb question, instead seeming pretty cheery. Hinata envied the energy he seemed to have even after driving for almost seven hours with only two breaks.

“There’s a personal bath accompanied by the room. It’s really spacious, I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy it,” Komaeda explained as they walked into the hotel. Hinata couldn’t stop the small sigh of relief at the warmth. “I can prepare it while you eat, so it’ll be ready right when you want it,” he added cheerfully.

It took few seconds for his words to sink in, but as soon as they did, Hinata immediately argued back.

“You should eat too! I mean, I’m not in any hurry to take the bath, geez. Just, eat. You’ve been driving the whole day, I’d feel horrible to watch you prepare some bath for me while I just sit and eat…,” Hinata said rapidly, trying to find the right words and ending up blurting it all out. He sort of envied the composure the other seemed to always have. “You must be tired after all,” he added as they got into the elevator.

Komaeda smiled.

“Hearing you worry about me gives me plenty of energy! But if that’s what you wish, then I will eat with you,” he said softly as he leaned against the elevator wall. Hinata just sighed and followed the floor numbers passing by until the elevator finally stopped on the 6th floor. Komaeda’s… devotion was just baffling to him, he couldn’t really understand why the other was so eager to help him, not even after his explanation. Even if Komaeda had been waiting for something to happen in his life, Hinata couldn’t see how he was related to it. He was… just trying to live the rest of his life free, and while he was thankful for the other, it made him fearful of the fact that at some point, the other might realize he himself wasn’t anything special at all.

He looked at Komaeda’s back as they walked through the hallway, and thought about all the things he hadn’t said. If he were to spill it all out, what would Komaeda’s reaction be?


 

As he slowly slid into the water, Hinata couldn’t stop a sigh from escaping his lips. Despite just sitting in car the whole day, he felt really exhausted. Most likely his energy had gone with the panic attack; it had been such a long while since his last one that he hadn’t even remembered how draining it actually was. So now, lying in hot bathwater after eating a great meal, he was starting to feel sleepy. Falling asleep in the bath was bad however, and he knew he shouldn’t take too much time relaxing or he’d risk himself drowning.

He had checked the phone quickly before taking the bath. To his surprise, there had been only one message, with the text “And?” He wasn’t really sure what he should answer to that; he wasn’t sure if he should just tell her that there was someone Komaeda was in love with now. But then again, it would feel just…

Awkward. Saying that about himself, after all. And if for any reason Komaeda were to get his phone back, it would be… Hinata didn’t have any idea how he would explain that then. But the way he had phrased that message, he really couldn’t get any other ideas. He could always delete the mails after she had finally stopped mailing, and just, keep it away from Komaeda’s hands until then.

He nodded to himself; that would have to do. It was kind of embarrassing, but it didn’t really matter if it meant he could get her to stop sending mails. He resolved to do it after his bath, and with a contended sigh he lowered himself into the water until it just barely missed his lower lip.

Way too relaxing.

Chapter Text

Komaeda wasn’t surprised to find that Hinata had went to sleep already while he had been taking a bath. He dried his hair lazily as he walked into the room, closing the bathroom door behind him. Hinata had left his clothes on the floor; finally he hadn’t went to sleep with them on, instead wearing the pajamas the hotel had provided. Komaeda began to pick up the clothes when he remembered that Hinata still had his phone.

It had been a few days already, so it must be close to running out of batteries. Without thinking about it too much, he dug the phone out of Hinata’s pocket to put it on a charger. But when he began to check the amount of energy left, he couldn’t help but notice that a new mail had been received. He had noticed that Hinata had occasionally been fiddling with the phone, but to think there was someone he was messaging with…

Komaeda glanced at his sleeping companion before he decided to take a look. He couldn’t open the most recent message of course, otherwise Hinata would find out, but that didn’t stop him from checking the older messages… He seated himself by the table and began to browse through the mails.

As soon as he noticed what it was about, he sighed deeply. He couldn’t believe he had actually forgotten to take care of something like that; he had caused problems for Hinata and stress to her. It wasn’t particularly fair of him; even if he hadn’t been that invested in the relationship, he should have remembered to take care of that little thing before leaving. Soon his frustration turned into slight amusement as he read through Hinata’s desperate attempts to make her stop messaging.

‘I met a person, someone who’s really interesting and I’m really intrigued by them. I’m sorry to say this, but I’m going to pursue them and I feel like it’s a lot more fair that we break up.’

 Komaeda closed the phone after reading that message. It was clear that Hinata had made the decision to handle the situation like this due to her words of saying it would be a lot easier for her, and there was probably no other reason for it but…

He spun the phone around in his hand and sighed.


 

“Where’s the phone?!”

The loud question woke up Komaeda with a shock and he jumped up in his bed, almost hitting his head against Hinata’s who was glaring at him with a frantic look. It took a millisecond for Komaeda to register what he had been asked, before he pointed towards the corner of the room.

“It’s over there, recharging,” he said quickly, as he noticed Hinata’s stress level rising. “I was putting your clothes away last night, when I noticed the phone and thought I’d charge it up… Sorry for doing that without permission,” he added as he stretched his arms, while Hinata stumbled towards the phone.

“Did you look at it?!”

“No, I didn’t. I thought there wouldn’t be anything interesting, since it’s just my old phone.” Komaeda lied smoothly and yawned while keeping his eyes on Hinata. The other had taken the phone and was clearly comforted by the fact that the latest message hadn’t been opened, hopefully taking it as proof of Komaeda’s words. For a moment he just watched the other twiddle with the phone, then dropped himself back to the bed for a moment. He couldn’t remember his dream at all due to the shocking wake-up, but for some reason his heart felt heavy.

After lying there for a few minutes, trying to gather his thoughts, he sat up again.

“Do you want to go eat breakfast in the dining hall or should we order room-service?” he asked with a smile on his lips as he got up from the bed. Hinata looked at him for a while before shrugging. “They have a great breakfast buffet, so if you’re leaving the decision up to me, I’d suggest we go there,” Komaeda said while starting to change out of his pajamas.

“Sure,” Hinata answered shortly, seeming a bit distant. Komaeda took this as a sign that the other wanted to be left alone for a while, and he wandered to the bathroom to brush his teeth. Picking up the toothpaste, he let out a tiny sigh of relief. As he had expected, Hinata had trusted him. He wasn’t just sure if that was the best thing he should have done; he felt like he should have just come out with the fact that he had indeed checked the messages. Lying wasn’t really his cup of tea, even if he was good at it. But he also felt like the most he would have achieved by telling the truth would have been slight mistrust from Hinata towards him and just general awkwardness.

It didn’t really sound appealing.

He stared into the mirror as he brushed his teeth, still feeling slightly tired. It had taken him a while last night to fall asleep, and the surprise awakening hadn’t been the smoothest way to start a new day. But he reckoned the tiredness would pass soon so it wasn’t really anything to worry about. He finished brushing his teeth, and as he rinsed his mouth he briefly wondered what his ex-girlfriend had eventually answered to that message.

Hopefully she’d understood.


 

Komaeda set down his tray on the table and seated himself to the opposite side of Hinata. He couldn’t help but notice that the other hadn’t taken much food for himself, despite the grand selection.

“Don’t have much of an appetite?” he asked, and Hinata shrugged again, poking his food around with his chopsticks. Komaeda just took that as an affirmative answer and concentrated on his own eating. A silence was hanging between them for a few minutes as they both ate on their own paces.

“What will we do today?” Komaeda asked eventually when he had finished most of his food. Hinata turned his gaze up from the food to look at him. “I understand that you might find it unpleasant to have me stick to you constantly, but as we have no ways of contacting each other, I think it’s better if I work as your guide,” he added, and Hinata just nodded, looking absent-minded.

“Yeah, uh, sure. I don’t really mind,” Hinata said, like an afterthought. “Then for today, would you just show me around and maybe visit some places? Like, the Tokyo Tower or something.”

“Alright. This hotel is kind of far from there, so we should probably take the train. Or well, we could take the car but… It’s hard to find a parking space, so I’d really prefer the train,” Komaeda said, and Hinata just nodded, without saying anything. Komaeda bit his lower lip slightly as he leaned his cheek against his hand. It wasn’t that Hinata had been all that talkative during this time they had been together, but now he was just plain dismissive. Komaeda wasn’t even sure if he was listening to half of what he said.

And while it wasn’t the only possible reason, Komaeda’s thoughts wandered to the message she had sent. He didn’t really know what that message had said, so he couldn’t really say it was the reason, but for now, it was the only thing that he knew of.

But it could as well be something completely unrelated, something Komaeda couldn’t even know about, so there wasn’t really any point to thinking about it. He should just act as he usually did and wait for the other to come out of his thoughts.

Still, for some reason he was feeling the slightest bit upset, and he couldn’t understand why.


 

As they stepped into the elevator to be surrounded by the quiet music, Komaeda pulled his jacket on a bit better. Outside was going to be cold; the first snow had fallen last night. He had made sure to give Hinata a warm jacket, a scarf and had told him to wear the hat again. Hinata had snapped at him for fussing about it too much, but had eventually worn it all, so Komaeda had won in the end.

As for himself, he just had his jacket. He disliked going through all the hassle his hair gave him with scarves and headwear, so he had mostly stopped wearing any. He rarely went outside for a long period of time anyway, so he had settled into this habit. Once he had owned a pair of ear-mufflers though; and now that he thought about it, he didn’t really remember what had happened to those. They had been comfortable and easy to wear, he sort of missed them now that they came to mind.

He glanced at Hinata, who still seemed to be stuck in his thoughts, his lower lip pursed slightly like he was thinking of something that annoyed him. Komaeda sighed slightly to himself; it didn’t seem like the other was in any mood to talk yet either. As they walked outside of the hotel, Komaeda shivered a bit from the cold. There was a thin layer of snow on top of the ground, already filled with footprints.

Seeing those dark footprints on the ground, Komaeda kind of hoped he would have taken a walk last night to see the beauty of untouched snow. The forecast had promised more snow for the day after tomorrow though, so he should make sure to go outside then. He’d ask Hinata to join him, and show him the sight too, walk around in the new-fallen snow together.

He felt an involuntary smile come to his lips at the thought.

Chapter Text

Hinata groaned quietly as yet another person accidentally bumped into him, taking him off balance slightly so that he tumbled into someone else. The train was packed with people, and even though he had heard how full the trains could be, especially in Tokyo, this was just way more than anything he had expected. He struggled to regain his balance and to keep himself from being pushed by the people, and he didn’t even notice he had drifted slightly away from Komaeda.

He had just secured his feet on the floor when he felt his wrist being grabbed and he was being pulled through the people. In his surprise he didn’t resist at all until he met with Komaeda’s chest. He stepped away and straightened his back. Komaeda looked at him with an apologetic smile as he gently guided Hinata towards the corner while remaining between him and all of the people.

“It’s easy to get drifted away in this mass of people, we should remain on the side as to not get separated,” Komaeda explained as he glanced around. “I’m sorry to trap you like this, but this should eventually prove to be a lot more comforting for you,” he added and flashed another smile, and Hinata felt like he was slightly awkward about it. It was no wonder; the distance between them was close to none, and every so often Komaeda flinched forward a bit and their chests clashed. Hinata couldn’t even remember the last time he had been this close to someone for as long as this, and he tried to shift in his place to get some distance between them.

Soon he realized there was no space to back into, and he just settled into the unpleasant situation. He turned his face onto the side away from the other, and tried to pretend there was nothing wrong. But it proved to be hard, with the heat radiating from the other and the feeling of the other’s breath on his neck. Hinata really wished he could cross his arms to act as a shield, but there was no space to do even that.

“I apologize, it must be annoying to stick so close to someone like me,” Komaeda said quietly right beside his ear, and Hinata flinched slightly at the sound. He felt his blood rushing to his head as his cheeks began to flare.

“It’s fine, just don’t speak next to my ear like that!” he hissed back, and Komaeda just chuckled slightly in an awkward tone, before apologizing again.

Hinata refrained from snapping at him again for talking, and they spent the rest of the train trip in haunting silence.


 

When they finally arrived, Hinata excused himself to visit the bathroom, and Komaeda agreed to wait for him in the station front even though he did ask if Hinata would find his way there and back all right. The bathroom was empty, to Hinata’s surprise, but he welcomed the fact with cheer. He leaned against one of the stall doors as he dug out the phone from his pocket and quickly opened the last mail he had gotten.

“I see. I hope this person does indeed prove to be as interesting as you thought, and that you will be happy with this decision you’ve made. I wish you only the best, and thank you for the time until now. Goodbye.”

He had read the message for a couple of times now, and every time he did, he felt the uneasiness in his stomach increase. Until now, all he had done was just think about himself and whether he could keep Komaeda with him until the end of this all, but for the first time he started to feel guilt. No matter how weird he seemed, Komaeda must have had a good life and people who cared about him. And now Hinata had robbed him of his time with them, tied the other to himself without explaining anything. He clutched the phone tightly as he cursed.

It wouldn’t be fair if he kept the truth from Komaeda. He’d have to tell the truth, tell him about what was going to happen and why he was here. After that, he could only hope Komaeda would still choose to help him instead of going back.

And if it happened that Komaeda would go back home, Hinata would just have to find some way to continue his way to north on his own.

He felt his stomach twist with nervousness as he thought about being alone again, but he couldn’t do this, couldn’t continue lying and taking advantage of Komaeda without being clear and telling the truth. He stared at his hands, and remembered holding Komaeda’s cool hand, the gentle words and the lack of pressure Komaeda had given him. The other had been nothing but helpful and honest to him. He had even shared bits of his past, and Hinata wanted to pay back at least a little bit of the trust.


 

When Hinata returned to the station front, he saw Komaeda sitting on a bench by himself. He just stood there for a while and watched as Komaeda kept switching in his seat impatiently, as if he was wondering whether to go look for Hinata or not. He was frowning, and looking at that face made Hinata realize that he hadn’t seen Komaeda frowning before. The other was always smiling or thinking and he hadn’t seemed anyhow annoyed during their trip.

While he was thinking about this, Komaeda lifted his gaze off the ground and noticed him. Hinata just watched as the frown quickly melted away into the usual smile, and he felt at ease. Komaeda got up from the bench and waved at him, and Hinata felt his own lips curving into a small, hesitant smile as he waved back. He watched Komaeda walk towards him and while his heart was still heavy with guilt, for some reason breathing felt a whole lot easier now.

When Komaeda reached him, for a brief moment they just stood there and looked at each other, the silence pressing on them like it was trying to make them do something, before Komaeda broke the spell and spoke.

“While you were gone, I was thinking about the Tokyo Tower. Do you want to visit it during the day or at night? It’s a whole different sight depending on when you go, so I thought I should ask about your opinion…,” Komaeda said, his tone somewhat meek.

Hinata shrugged.

“I don’t particularly have an opinion. Which one you’d prefer…?” he asked as he lowered his eyes to the ground. He couldn’t explain why, but this whole situation made him feel shy and weird, and it seemed like he wasn’t the only one.

“Uh, I think I’d prefer the night sight then. Should we stroll around the day? I know a couple good restaurants we can go to, and some more interesting shops if you’d like to see them,” Komaeda said as he began to lead them away from the station. Hinata nodded as he followed along silently, and for a moment they just walked without saying anything. “Tell me if you feel like something is uninteresting to you. I personally prefer walking around the less populated areas to avoid the huge crowds and to see the less known area of places, but if it’s boring to you…,” Komaeda began to babble, and Hinata quickly cut him off.

“No, I think I’d prefer that too. I don’t like being in places full of people,” he said shortly as he looked around. The streets had quite a bit people, and he knew that any more than this and he’d really have to start being careful as to not bump into anyone.

“Yeah, I kind of thought so.” Komaeda gave him a small smile. Hinata turned his eyes into the other direction as he nodded. He couldn’t shake off the weird feeling of shyness; he didn’t have any idea what was making him feel this way.

He tried to derail his thoughts into something else, and he briefly remembered that back at the inn Komaeda had always offered the bath when it had been as empty as possible. He hadn’t even noticed it, but Komaeda had probably been trying to be considerate of him. While he didn’t know how Komaeda had figured out that he was trying to avoid people, it made his heart feel even heavier with guilt.

He clutched his hands into fists as he desperately tried to think of how he was going to say all he had to say. He’d have to think of a perfect way to say it, and make sure to think of some back-up plan if the other would decide it was better to spend the rest of the time back home, after all, no matter how much he had disliked the place.

But Hinata couldn’t shake off the uneasiness as he thought about losing the other.

Chapter Text

They had been walking around for a few hours, most of their time spent in silence due to Hinata’s withdrawnness, when Komaeda suggested they go eat something.

“Yeah, sure,” Hinata agreed as he stared down at his feet, a slight frown on his face. He had been like this the whole time, and while Komaeda did want to let the other think in peace about whatever was bothering him, he was starting to feel really awkward in the silence. He had tried to start a few conversations, but they all had been shot down quickly by the other’s passiveness.

He wasn’t even sure if the other had enjoyed himself at all. They had visited several shops Komaeda liked, but unlike at the glass workshop, Hinata hadn’t really been enchanted by them and had instead just strolled around them without really paying any attention and just refusing every time Komaeda offered to buy him something.

Frankly, it was starting to gnaw at his thoughts. What kept coming up was the message that she had sent, but he felt like it shouldn’t have been anything that heavy. None of the messages so far had shaken Hinata that much, save for his fretful attitude occasionally when handling the phone.

Komaeda glanced at Hinata as he bit his lower lip. The longer they went on in silence, the lower his thoughts sank. There was always the simplest option that he wasn’t being interesting enough; that all the conversation topics he tried to come up were boring and Hinata was starting to tire of being just with him. He turned his gaze back to the direction they were going and he sunk his hands into his pockets.

While he did think he had fairly good social skills, it still was a fact that he had never been close with anyone, not to mention never having spent this much time with just one person. He wasn’t sure how he should go about entertaining Hinata and maybe even get closer to him. He had tried to do everything to please the other, but maybe he had done something wrong. He wouldn’t be surprised if that was the case.

“Is there something specific you’d like to eat?” Komaeda asked, in an attempt to derail his thoughts. He didn’t want to think any more of this.

He had to fight the urge to sigh when Hinata just shrugged as an answer.


 

Eventually they had wandered into a ramen stall to eat, and they were just finishing up their portions. Komaeda swirled around the rest of his noodles in the bowl. He didn’t really have much of an appetite right now. He looked at Hinata, who in response lowered his eyes strictly to his bowl, poorly feigning like hadn’t noticed anything.

Komaeda went through all the places they could go to; at this point, he wanted to find someplace that would help Hinata relax and forget about his thoughts – whatever they were – for a moment, but so far he hadn’t gotten any ideas. Everything he had offered Hinata had sort of agreed to, but he hadn’t seemed interested at all. Komaeda sort of regretted he had not just gone along with something; maybe Hinata would have caught some interest after trying the things out.

He was slurping his last noodles when he heard a few people passing by talking about going to the arcade, and he decided to just go for it. He had played a lot of arcade games back when he had been a student, his luck often helping him break the records. Hinata seemed to be done with eating too, and Komaeda stood up from his chair, paid the old man for their food and tugged Hinata’s forearm.

“Come on, I know where we will go now,” he said shortly, ignoring the look of surprise on Hinata’s face. He felt like it was better he didn’t ask anymore; Hinata would anyhow just shrug and Komaeda was starting to understand it would only serve to dampen the plans right from the start.

Hinata seemed completely bewildered by the turn of events, and he followed after Komaeda while staring at him with a questioning look. Komaeda just gave him a reassuring smile, watching as Hinata’s face fell into a pout at that. He was definitely enjoying this change; he couldn’t help laughing as he turned his eyes back to the way he was heading.

It didn’t take long for them to arrive at the arcade, and they stood in front of it for a small moment.

“You want to play games…?” Hinata asked as he tilted his head, and Komaeda nodded, leading them in.

“I’ll teach you, so let’s do this,” he said cheerily, feeling his spirit rising now that Hinata was starting to show some interest. With delight Komaeda watched as the other kept shooting glances around, and eventually he chose a game for them. It was a simple platform game, and he led Hinata to the machine as he dropped the required coins in. Hinata just stared at the screen in awe as the game began, and Komaeda chuckled as he gently took Hinata’s hands and led them to the controller.

“You press these buttons to move, this one’s for jumping…,” he began to explain patiently, as he gently guided Hinata’s fingers through the buttons. He tried to not take notice of how Hinata’s hands grew warmer every passing second he explained, and instead just encouraged the other to start the game. After finishing his explanation of the buttons, he asked Hinata to repeat the instruction back to him to confirm that the other had listened and learned, before he slowly slid his hands off Hinata’s ones.

With a small sense of pride he watched as Hinata slowly began to play. He noticed some middle school students were looking at them, and he shot a smile at them. The youngsters seemed to take this as a sign they could come closer to watch, and slowly they did. Soon enough, they were giving hints and advice to Hinata as they noticed the man was still a complete beginner, leaving Komaeda just standing there. He smiled slightly as he watched how Hinata slowly got over his initial shy reaction to the teens and started to answer back to them while playing.

When Hinata eventually died in the game, after letting out a growl he glanced back at Komaeda, his lips tight and eyes glowing with expectation, and Komaeda just smiled cheerfully as he put more coins in for another try. Hinata gleefully returned to the game with the help of the teens to give it another try. After making sure the other was completely engrossed in the game, Komaeda wandered off to exchange his money into coins. He didn’t tend to carry a lot of coins with him, but luckily these places had money exchange machines everywhere.

As he fed the bill to the machine, he glanced back to confirm Hinata was still doing alright. Still fully focused on the game, Hinata seemed to not have even noticed Komaeda had left and instead cheered loudly with the kids as he apparently passed a hard spot. Komaeda smiled softly as he looked at his companion, the coins clinking behind him into the box. Only when the last coin dropped Komaeda managed to drag his eyes off Hinata.

He collected the coins to his pocket and walked back to the small crowd that was forming around Hinata. They didn’t apparently get a lot of newcomers here, so the rare chance to teach someone, especially someone older than them, seemed to be like a golden opportunity to them. Komaeda was relieved they had ended up encountering the good people who hanged around these places: even if it was a stereotype to say only delinquents hung around at arcades, it didn’t mean there weren’t some like that hanging around sometimes.

He returned just in time to see Hinata die again, and the other looked at him expectantly again. Having the olive-green eyes cast on him upwardly like that was almost enough to make him flustered, and he hid his feelings with a smile as he dropped the coins in for another game.

Komaeda watched gladly as Hinata played, and didn’t even notice that one of the teens had approached him before the other spoke.

“Is this the first time your friend is playing arcade games?”

“That’s a good question,” Komaeda said as he smiled. “It would seem like it is.”

“Oh, okay. Have you played a lot then?” the boy asked as he grinned. “Are you any good?” Komaeda grinned back at the boy.

“Hmm, I might even be good enough to break a record. But only if today’s a lucky day,” he said and the boy laughed and shook his head.

“No way~! The records here have been all by the same player for a long while now, no one’s ever seen them. Every once in a while the points have increased, so they’re constantly updating their own record though. They go by the username Usami,” the boy explained. “It’s the same with every game; no one has been able to break the records.”

“That sounds like a challenge. Maybe I should try my hand at some game later,” Komaeda said and the boy chuckled.

“If you say so. I’m sure you’ll fail, though,” he said cheerily, and Komaeda smiled back at him. They continued to talk about the games and the boy told him about the legends surrounding this person going by the handle Usami. Getting into the conversation, Komaeda forgot to follow how Hinata was hanging on in the game and he didn’t even notice when the other lost the game again.

He was listening to a theory that Usami was a young woman with a back bag people had seen here sometimes, when he felt his sleeve being tugged aggressively. He turned to see Hinata with a small pout on the his face.

“Komaeda, I lost,” he said as he pointed to the Game Over text on the screen.

“Oh, yeah. Do you want to try again?” Komaeda asked as he took his wallet out, but Hinata shook his head.

“Nah, I don’t want to play this game anymore. I can’t break the record even if I practice, so I don’t want to keep playing the same game…,” he said as he took his eyes away from Komaeda, who just looked at the screen in wonder.

“Would you mind if I give it a try?” he asked Hinata, who tilted his head. “I think I can break that record for you,” he continued cheekily as he dropped couple coins in the machine and seated himself. The kids started to cheer as they realized what Komaeda was planning on trying, and were inviting even more people to watch. As some indeed dropped what they were doing and came to watch as well, Komaeda briefly felt nervous; there was a chance his luck would make him fail in the first minutes, but when he noticed Hinata was also affected by the crowd’s cheeriness and was smiling excitedly, he felt a rush of adrenaline he didn’t think he had had in many years.

He grinned as he pressed start. He was going to do this, definitely.


 

“I can’t believe you actually broke the record!” Hinata exclaimed when they left the arcade. After Komaeda had just barely broken the record, the teens had made him play a couple more games to see if he could win the record on them too, but as Komaeda had expected, his luck ran out after that. For him, the one record was just enough, as Hinata still seemed to be jittery with excitement, having clearly forgotten what he had had on his mind. Komaeda smiled softly.

“I’m glad you’re feeling better now,” he said and Hinata stopped to stare at him for a while, before turning his eyes away and nodding. When the silence returned again, Komaeda cursed in his mind for opening his big mouth. He shouldn’t have brought it up when Hinata finally had forgotten about it. He sighed as he glanced at his companion; he wasn’t sure if the other would be up for the visit to the Tokyo Tower if he was beginning to get disinterested in everything again. They weren’t far away from the Tower, but he started to wonder if it would be better they returned to the hotel already.

He was in the middle of his thoughts, his eyes still on Hinata, when he noticed his gaze was returned. They both flinched in surprise when they found themselves staring each other in the eyes, and hastily turned their heads.

“K-Komaeda. There’s something very important I need to tell you,” Hinata said awkwardly after they had walked for a moment quietly. “I, I wasn’t going to tell you about it originally. I thought it wouldn’t really matter since… since there was so little time left, but I… Uhh…,” he continued, stuttering and taking a lot of pauses, like he wasn’t entirely sure how he was exactly going to say all this. Komaeda smiled gently at him.

“Then how about you tell me when we arrive in the Tokyo Tower? I’ll listen to everything you’ve got to say, so you can take your time,” he said and Hinata glanced at him before nodding. It was faint, but there was a small, relieved smile on his lips and Komaeda couldn’t tear his eyes away from Hinata for a while. It was so rare to see him smile, and for some reason every time he did, Komaeda felt his heart clench. He knew that these feelings were bad and dangerous, and that he’d have to suppress them to not let them grow any stronger.

So when Hinata’s hand briefly brushed against his, he quickly pushed his hands to his pockets to stop it from happening again. He was going to concentrate on making everything easy for Hinata, that was his only purpose now and he wasn’t going to allow himself to do anything bad.

He clenched his hands in fists within his pockets. He was going to do anything that was necessary to help Hinata, and that also meant forgetting some silly feelings of attraction.


 

During the whole time they stood in the elevator, Hinata was quiet and withdrawn, probably thinking what he was going to say. Komaeda just patiently stood there: knowing what the other had been worrying about brought him closure. He didn’t have to wonder anymore what it would be, since in just couple minutes he would hear it. And at this point it would be useless to worry about what it was; he’d rather use this time to concentrate on the problems he had to solve inside him.

When they stepped out of the elevator, Hinata broke from his thoughts for a moment as he hesitantly walked to the windows to gaze out the dark city filled with bright lights here and there. He seemed completely amazed by the sight for a moment, and Komaeda just gave him the time, walking next to him to gaze at the city as well. He made sure to keep his eyes focused on the city when he saw the awe-struck expression on Hinata’s face.

The sparkling lights reminded Komaeda of the marble, and even though he knew it had been the beginning of this particular trouble, he still couldn’t help his heart yearning to see it. And maybe it would serve as a good reminder: there was a reason he didn’t have it, his luck would eventually break everything he cared for.

“Hinata-kun? May I ask you to show me the… marble? My marble?” he asked hesitantly after they had stared at the city for a few minutes already without talking. Hinata turned his eyes to him in surprise before digging the marble out of his pocket and holding it out. After whispering words of gratitude, Komaeda just stared at the piece of glass, his whole body aching from realizing the reality of his life once again. Hinata’s fingers were softly holding the marble, but still firmly enough to not let it fall. For a moment Komaeda wasn’t sure which one he wanted to hold more; the marble or Hinata’s hand, and before he could even come to a conclusion on the dilemma or stop it from taking over his thoughts, Hinata spoke.

“There’s one specific reason I had to leave on this journey,” Hinata started hesitantly, each word uttered carefully to show how many times he had thought this through. Komaeda lifted his eyes from the marble to Hinata, who in response very slowly lifted his own eyes to meet his. “Or more exactly why I wanted to go to North… to get as far away from the equator as possible.”

Komaeda nodded slowly to indicate he was listening. The blood in his body felt like it was rushing just a slight bit faster as he prepared himself to hear the rest. Hinata dropped his eyes briefly, before lifting them back to him.

“Because after this year ends, the world will end.”

Chapter Text

After saying his words, Hinata had to gather up his courage to lift his eyes back to Komaeda – he hadn’t even noticed he had turned them to look at the marble. He couldn’t read the other’s expression at all, and he gulped. He probably should explain more.

“The end will start from the equator, and slowly spread onwards from there… That’s why I wanted to go as north as possible, to escape it for at least a moment longer…,” he continued hesitantly. Hearing these words from his own lips, they sounded like nothing but lies even to his own ears even though he knew they were the truth, and he felt his hands trembling as he dreaded Komaeda’s reaction. As the seconds of silence passed between them, he started to regret his decision to speak about this more and more.

Komaeda was still just staring at him without saying anything.

“I-I know it might be hard to believe but... I’m not lying,” he said quietly, almost in a whisper and that seemed to snap Komaeda out of the trance-like staring. “I can’t explain the details or why I know this but I want… want you to trust me.” His voice kept fading away with every word. He was starting to become really aware of the few other visitors farther away from them, feeling like they kept looking their way.

“Hinata-kun, there’s no need to worry,” Komaeda said eventually as he brought his hands to Hinata’s hand and slowly closed it around the marble. Instead of the usual coolness, Komaeda’s hands were warm now and slightly trembling like Hinata’s own. “I will trust whatever you say. So if you, if you say the world is ending then it is,” Komaeda said, and while initially Hinata felt relief, he couldn’t help but feel uneasy for some reason.

And when Komaeda’s lips cracked into a wide, excited smile, he felt chills run down his spine.

“This is the best thing I’ve ever heard in my life!” Komaeda said and laughed loudly, gathering a couple of looks from the other visitors but this time, Hinata didn’t care about them. He felt his eyes widen as Komaeda continued to talk. “The world will end? After this year? I can’t wait to see that happen!” Komaeda let go of Hinata’s hands and spun around once before turning to look at the city below them again. Hinata was frozen still as he watched the wide grin on Komaeda’s face as he pointed his index finger towards the city and muttered explosion sounds under his breath.

And for a moment Hinata felt like he was seeing her once again, and he quickly took a few steps forward and grabbed ahold of Komaeda’s shoulder. The other turned to look at him, and he had his normal gentle smile on again, easing the fear in Hinata’s mind ever so slightly.

“Why… are you so happy about it? The world ending?” he still asked; he had to make sure that Komaeda wasn’t the same as she was. The look in Komaeda’s eyes changed again as he faced the city again.

“The world ending will bring about chaos, won’t it?” Komaeda said and Hinata hesitantly nodded. “People will plunge into fear and desperation, they will fight for their survival and they will… they have to have hope. To survive, they have to find hope amongst all the despair! And I want to see that, I want to witness the hope they gather to survive, I want to…,” Komaeda turned to look at Hinata and for a moment, he just seemed like he was overwhelmed by something, and standing under those eyes made Hinata feel bare, like he was being put onto a pedestal he didn’t belong on. “Hinata-kun, you really are the best. You’ve known this for a while, you’ve known the despair that the world will face and instead of crumbling to it you’ve clung to hope?” He couldn’t clearly contain his excitement as he took a hold of Hinata’s shoulders.

“W-well, I… I didn’t just want to sit and wait,” Hinata said in confusion. He wasn’t sure where Komaeda was going with his thoughts, but he felt a heavy weight slowly building in his stomach: the other clearly had some expectations of him, thought of him as something amazing and he… he wasn’t any of that. He had learned the hard way that he really wasn’t.

“See?! The hope inside you, it’s so beautiful! This must have been the reason I was born, to aid you in this journey of yours, to witness your hope in the midst of all the despair!” Komaeda said and squeezed Hinata’s shoulders slightly, and for a brief second Hinata felt like crying; he should’ve felt happy that the other had believed him, and that the weight of lying should have disappeared from his mind.

But now it was even heavier, the bright look in Komaeda’s eyes was binding him and he felt like he had deceived the other somehow during their trip, that he had somehow made the other believe in him this deeply and he realized there was no going back. The excitement and dedication flowing from the other was so deeply-rooted, no matter what Hinata said or did at this point mattered.

He had been lifted to a throne he could not escape from.


 

As soon as they returned to their hotel room, Hinata headed to the bathroom and locked the door behind him. After standing still for a while, he took a deep breath and sighed, leaning against the door. At this point he couldn’t even remember why he had originally been afraid to tell the truth to Komaeda. Now his thoughts were haunted by every word of praise Komaeda had said, every single happy comment about the world ending and the weird smile he had had, so unlike his usual gentle and calm smile.

Hinata rubbed his temples; he had eventually told Komaeda to stop talking about it, and the other had. But still, his looks of admiration, the way he had skipped as he walked was just making Hinata realize once again that the other wasn’t… normal. And all this praise about his hope and the beauty of it, it all went over Hinata’s head. He couldn’t understand the other at all.

But much to his surprise, he wasn’t scared of Komaeda. He was scared, but it didn’t take him long to realize that it was the fear of disappointing the other that lurked in the back of his mind. He wasn’t all Komaeda was making him out to be, and if the other were to realize that…

Hinata bit his lower lip in desperation. He thought that by telling the truth he would finally erase all the uncertainty about the other’s presence, but it had all switched into a new problem. There seemed to be no way to bring everything back to what it had been before. At least, he didn’t know any way to do it. Komaeda’s dedication was so solid at this point, that there was simply nothing he could do to reverse himself back into a normal person in Komaeda’s eyes…

But maybe that was the key. Hinata would just have to keep this picture up. He’d go along with whatever Komaeda thought of him; there was just barely a month left so it wouldn’t be anyhow impossible. Even he could pretend to be special, after all he… He had once believed himself to be something greater. Now it was just time to pretend to be one again. It would have to work out; there was no other choice he had at this point.

Hinata had to take on the role of Komaeda’s savior to keep the other by his side.


 

It had been a couple hours already since they had turned in for the night, but Hinata couldn’t fall asleep. He moved over to his side and stared at Komaeda’s sleeping form. While it wasn’t a new sight to him, it was the first time Komaeda had fallen asleep before him. Komaeda was clutching half of his blanket in a hug, his hair resting on his pillow in a fluffy mess. The longer Hinata looked at him, he slowly began to take notice of all the small features on him; how his black lashes were clear to see against his pale skin, how his lips were curved in a slight smile even when he was asleep, how his fingers twitched occasionally as they held the blanket tightly.

Studying the other sleep was almost enchanting, and as soon as Hinata realized this, he quickly shook his head and turned to lie on his back, staring at the ceiling.

He really didn’t want to lose the other. He had taken that as a clear thing, having the other with him was beneficial for him, and he didn’t have to worry about having to survive in the world alone without any idea what to do. But he was starting to doubt his own mind. He was day by day learning more of the world and what he could do even if he were left alone, yet with every passing day he was growing more scared of the other leaving. There was a quiet voice inside his head that kept telling him that he wanted Komaeda to stay with him.

Maybe it was just that it had been so long since he had had someone close to him, so long since he had spent time with someone so naturally and so long since he had felt like he could trust someone. He didn’t remember what it was like, so perhaps now that he had someone again he was just clinging into it desperately. Humans weren’t meant to live in complete solitude after all, so probably he was just attaching himself to the only person he had, and that’s why he was so scared of losing him.

The thoughts tormenting his mind, Hinata got up from his bed and quietly took the few steps to Komaeda’s bed, before lowering himself on his knees and leaning against the bed. The other kept sleeping deeply even as Hinata reached to swipe strands of hair from his face.

Hinata sighed as he leaned his cheek against Komaeda’s bed.

He didn’t have any idea what he was doing.

Chapter Text

When Komaeda woke up, he was surprised to find Hinata still asleep. The other had been up before him every morning until now.

For a moment he stayed in his bed, looking at Hinata as he processed all that the other had said yesterday. His hands soon began to tremble as he thought about the world ending. This boring, meaningless world would disappear in flames of despair, and he would be able to witness all the hope that people would show as they struggled to survive. He didn’t really know how the world was actually going to end; would the world plunge into chaos or would everything just…

Disappear?

He jumped up from his bed as the realization hit him.

May all beings attain enlightenment soon!

The words echoed in his head as he rushed to his jacket, frantically digging through his pockets to find the paper slip. It must have been a sign, he was sure of it now. It couldn’t be a coincidence that the exact day he got the fortune he had ended up meeting Hinata, who bore news of the world ending. When he finally found the crumpled and suffered slip of paper, he stared at it quietly for a moment.

It made sense now, the panic attack Hinata had had when he saw this. It must have reminded him of the world ending, and something related to that had triggered it. Somewhere in these words rested the root of all this, of Hinata’s mysterious fear. So while Komaeda still felt his heart beat with excitement from imagining the interesting news and what it meant for the world, in the back of his mind he felt worry nagging at his thoughts. He wasn’t sure what had made Hinata suddenly decide to tell him about this, and while he was happy that the other had trusted him with this information, he wanted to make sure Hinata was feeling okay.

He looked at the paper slip for a few seconds more before he stuffed it back where he had taken it from. It would be best to keep this out of Hinata’s sight, as to not accidentally cause him to have another panic attack. He returned to the room, where Hinata was still sleeping, and he walked over to his own bed and sat down.

While Komaeda didn’t know the details of the world ending yet, somewhere deep in his mind where he couldn’t control his thoughts, he briefly wondered if this meant it’d be… okay for him to feel the way he did. There wasn’t much time left, so it was possible that his luck wouldn’t… wouldn’t be able to destroy this. He knew there was no point in pursuing these feelings, but he wondered if it was okay to let them mix with these feelings of admiration he felt, to let himself enjoy the feeling just a little.

Hinata sighed as he turned in his bed, and Komaeda smiled slightly. It felt like it was the inevitable fate anyways, that there was no way to avoid it. So if it was inevitable, was there any point in even trying to stop it…?

He was making excuses. He knew he was, but the more excuses he came up with the more convinced he became.

He stood up from his bed and walked to Hinata’s, sitting himself down. He took hold of Hinata’s shoulder in plans to shake the other awake, but he stalled for a moment to look at the other sleep for a bit longer.

Maybe he could allow himself that.


 

Their breakfast was accompanied by silence again. Komaeda tried his best to hold back all the questions he had; while he wanted to know more about the world ending, he knew that Hinata wasn’t comfortable talking about it, and he wanted to respect that. He restlessly poked his food around as he tried to refocus his thoughts into something else, like their plans for today.

He had one thing in mind he felt would be good to do as soon as he could, but he didn’t feel like bringing the idea up yet. Hinata probably had a lot in mind right now, so he should just do the preparations for it just in case and ask slater if he should go through with it. But to start the preparations, he’d need to check the phone for the correct number. It was possible to just swipe the phone for a moment – but he didn’t really want to lose Hinata’s trust over this.

But if Hinata had been willing to open up about such an important issue yesterday, maybe he’d trust Komaeda enough to lend the phone… Komaeda twiddled his chopsticks around as he pondered. This progression indeed must mean that Hinata trusted him, and the thought was making him feel somewhat shy for some reason. It was what he had been working on, what he had been hoping to achieve but now that it was a reality, there was just something that made him feel giddy about it.

He glanced at Hinata, who was chewing on the last bits of his food, and he shook his head slightly. This wasn’t a good direction for his thoughts to go either.

“Would you like to go see a movie today?” he asked instead. A movie would serve as a distractor for both of them, probably.

“… I’m okay with that.” Hinata answered, avoiding Komaeda’s eyes quite blatantly. Komaeda continued playing around with his chopsticks as he thought about yesterday. He couldn’t shake the questions from his mind, after all. He really wanted to know the details; how Hinata had come to know about it, how much he knew about it and most importantly, how long had he known.

He set down the chopsticks as he started to think through all the stuff he had learned so far. Hinata hadn’t told him really anything about his past: during his panic attack he had mentioned a “she”, but as to who this mysterious woman was, he had no clues. Hinata also seemed to have or at least had some sort of identity problems… it might be related to the small part he had heard during the newscast the day they had met.

“… has a history of being mentally unstable…”

Komaeda knew what that might mean. The whole thing about the world ending could be nothing but a delusion of some sort, but… Komaeda had a feeling it wasn’t. Hinata had been very clear when he had told him about it. There was some reason why Hinata believed the world was going to end.

But, there weren’t any more clues for Komaeda to go on. There was still time left until the world would end, so he did have time to learn more about it. He wasn’t feeling any rush to learn about the end of the world, really - he’d find out eventually when it would happen – but he wanted to know more about Hinata and his past.

He wanted to know so badly.


 

They had to take the train again, but this time there was a lot less crowd much to both of their relief. They left the station and began to walk to the movie theater without exchanging a word. The silence had followed them throughout the whole day, as they both had been drowning in their thoughts. Komaeda sighed as he pushed his hands into his pockets. He felt like now he was just repeating the same questions in his head over and over, and he found no answers to them from his own mind.

He glanced at Hinata; most of the answers were hidden inside his mind, but Komaeda wanted to give him this day to forget about all this. If his predictions were correct, Hinata had known for some time, he had been harboring the knowledge of the end that was coming all this time. While Komaeda couldn’t give him freedom of that knowledge, he wanted to try and give the other a little relief from the worry and stress, instead of drowning him in the questions he had.

The streets were getting busier, and Komaeda switched to walk a little closer to Hinata to not lose the other in the growing crowd. Hinata didn’t say anything, but he did seem to close the distance a little bit as well, until there was such a small distance between their shoulders that it could be broken with just a little misplaced step. It was enough to make Komaeda feel a bit nervous, and he lowered his head slightly. Hinata was looking away from him, gazing at the cars passing by them.

“What… what kind of movies do you like?” Komaeda asked, cursing the little stutter he had there. Hinata glanced at him from the corner of his eyes for a moment, before burying half of his face within his scarf.

“I think most of them go for me, I’m not… too picky,” Hinata mumbled, his words slightly muffled by the scarf. Komaeda just nodded without saying anything, and after the silence between them had continued for a while, Hinata continued talking. “If it’s a boring movie though, I might fall asleep…,” he said meekly, and Komaeda smiled.

“Haha, I get how that is, I’ve fallen asleep often during movies too. Let’s just hope the movie we choose to watch won’t be that boring, it’d be bad if we both fell asleep and someone were to take our stuff.” He chuckled, and even though the lower half of Hinata’s face was still hidden under the scarf, Komaeda was pretty sure the other was smiling too. Wishing he could actually see the smile, he lowered his eyes on the ground again as a smile lingered on his own face.

“That would be some really bad luck,“ Hinata said after a short silence. And when Komaeda turned to look at him, he could see a small, playful grin on the other’s lips and he laughed, the other soon joining him with a silent chuckling.

Chapter Text

Hinata leaned against the wall as Komaeda left to get the tickets. They had taken some time to decide on the movie they’d see, watching the trailers that were running on a small TV. Eventually after seeing the trailer for this action movie multiple times, they had grown curious enough to decide to go watch it. Komaeda had told him that they could leave the theater if the movie proved to be too boring and choose another one, but Hinata hoped it wouldn’t come to that.

He glanced at Komaeda who was standing in the short line, and he smiled. Unlike what he had expected, the other hadn’t asked anything about yesterday and instead they had talked about movies and series they had seen. Hinata wasn’t sure why the other wasn’t asking about it, but he was really grateful for the break. It had been so long since he had conversed normally about general stuff, and it was making him feel perhaps too giddy.

Komaeda suddenly glanced back at him, and as their eyes met Komaeda smiled and waved his hand. Feeling slightly embarrassed, Hinata returned the smile and the wave, lowering his eyes immediately after.

It felt nearly absurd to act like this, so normally, despite everything that had happened and been discussed yesterday. He had been afraid that Komaeda would have changed the way he acted after yesterday, but the worshipping way of talking had disappeared during the night. He wasn’t sure if the sleep had calmed Komaeda down and it had been just a moment of excitement, or if Komaeda was trying to tone it down intentionally, but Hinata wasn’t going to complain either way. It was a lot less… scary this way.

But still, after that outburst yesterday Hinata couldn’t help but pay a lot more attention to anything Komaeda said and did. He kept picking up intonations from the things he said, noticed the way Komaeda moved very carefully around him like he was afraid of somehow hurting him. And he realized that it wasn’t anything new, most of these things had been there even before yesterday. But now he was hyperaware of them all. And even though it might be just an illusion caused by the raised awareness, Hinata still felt like it happened a lot more now…

It was making him feel strangely conscious of the other’s presence, and he kept getting strangely embarrassed when they were close to each other. It was for the most part confusing, and there was already too much confusion in his mind to deal with to begin with and… he didn’t like the additional confusion. But at the same time, he also enjoyed Komaeda’s company more with each passing day, much to his surprise.

He had left on this journey to escape from the world ending for a moment longer, not to get a friend out of a person he had originally threatened for money.

Hinata glanced at Komaeda, who was tapping his feet as he waited for the tickets, and the confusion in his mind felt like it was spinning even more, making his heart ache.


 

Hinata shifted slightly in his seat for a bit more comfortable position. They had been in the theatre for an hour now, and despite the interesting beginning, the movie was slowly getting more boring. Hinata was a bit regretful he had said no when Komaeda has asked if they should buy popcorn – but then again, the other had seemed so reluctant to the idea that Hinata presumed it was better this way. He just wished he had something other to do than watch this movie.

He glanced at Komaeda sitting next to him, who was leaning his cheek against his hand with an equally bored look on his face. Hinata thought whether he should suggest just leaving, but then again he wanted to see if the movie would get back to entertaining again. Maybe it was better to just see if Komaeda would suggest it first, and instead he turned his eyes back to the movie.

However, the movie kept on as it had for a while now, and Hinata found himself in thought soon enough. The armrest between them was empty: Hinata hadn’t really paid attention to it the beginning, but now that he noticed it, he couldn’t take his mind off it. He knew he was over-thinking and that it most likely didn’t mean anything, but they were both leaning away from each other, leaving a lot of space between them.

Hinata pressed his lips together forcefully as he tried to forget about it. It wasn’t anything uncommon. They were both just leaning against their respective armrests, and it was nothing to stress about. And to prove that to himself, he decided to shift to sit in the middle of the seat with his back straight and to occupy both of the armrests.

As soon as he did that though, he realized it was even worse. From the corner of his eye he saw Komaeda glancing at him, but he had made his decision and he clutched his fists around the ends of the armrests. After a while, when he had almost managed to forget about the whole thing, he saw Komaeda began to move in his seat to sit straight as well, leaning back in his seat in a relaxed manner.

And now their shoulders were touching. Slight enough touch so that every time they moved a bit the contact would break, but it was there, and the warmth from Komaeda was a lot more distracting than anything before.

“This movie isn’t nearly as interesting as the trailer made it seem to be, huh?” Komaeda whispered after a short silence, surprising Hinata. He glanced at Komaeda, who returned his look with his usual smile.

“Y-yeah, kind of disappointing after that start…,” Hinata whispered back, his voice meek. “The plot is so obvious and the punchlines are trying way too hard…”

“Should we get out of here?” Komaeda leaned a bit closer as he spoke, apparently noticing the glares they got from couple other viewers for whispering. “We could try another movie, and see if we have any better luck?”

Hinata nodded eagerly.


 

“Well, uh…” Komaeda said as they stepped out of the theatre. They had watched two more movies after the first one – the second had been a horror movie, that had proved out to be a complete disappointment; not good enough to be enjoyable and not bad enough to even laugh at. For the third one, they thought they’d watch something completely different in hopes of thwarting the stream, and chose a drama movie. But, instead of being a happy surprise it was a boring movie filled with clichés and no real depth to the plot or characters.

So it had been a complete flop. Hinata sighed; it had been such a long time since he went to the movies, and he had really hoped to see something… entertaining at least. But it had been just a stream of disappointments instead, and it was almost evening by now.

But perhaps that was part of seeing movies; being disappointed every once in a while.

“Sorry,” Komaeda said after they had stood around outside for a while, both having been taking in the fresh air of spending over five hours inside. “Seems like my luck decided to ruin this for us, huh.” He had cast his eyes down to the ground, his hands buried in his pockets and his shoulders hunched. Hinata wasn’t sure what he should say: what Komaeda said was probably the truth, and he didn’t want to say anything half-baked.

He glanced at the movie theater, before turning back to Komaeda.

“Well, it’s not like it’s your fault, you can’t help it right?” he said as he shrugged. Komaeda looked at him with a weird look of wonder, and Hinata quickly decided to change the topic. “How about we go get some really good food instead? It’s been long since we last ate, I’m starting to get really hungry.”

“… Yeah, you’re right.” Komaeda seemed a bit ruffled for a moment, but then he smiled. “Actually, may I borrow my phone? I might be able to get us a reservation for one of the best restaurants in all of Japan, if I just can manage to get lucky enough to reach his cell… I won’t do anything else.” He pointed towards Hinata’s pocket as he spoke, and for a moment Hinata hesitated. Somehow bringing up the phone made him remember all the unease and distrust again, as he remembered how he had originally taken it. He… had known Komaeda for such a little while.

He pushed his hand into the pocket containing the phone and clutched it tightly, before taking it out and handing it to Komaeda.

The other had done nothing to earn his distrust, other than be a bit… weird occasionally. And Hinata didn’t really want to dwell on the feelings of suspicion and fear; being normal with Komaeda was a lot… nicer. He enjoyed spending time with the other, without constantly being smothered by the dark emotions.

Their fingers touched slightly when Komaeda took the phone and whispered a thank you. Hinata just nodded and retreated his hand quickly to cross his arms, turning to look around as Komaeda walked a bit farther away while fiddling with the phone. Hinata didn’t question why he had to take the distance, and instead he tried to think more of the fact that he might be dining on some really expensive and delicious food.

Chapter Text

”Now, if you’d mind not bothering me again tonight,” the voice over the phone announced coldly, and Komaeda felt the corner of his lip tug up reflexively.

“I appreciate your help, Togami-san. I apologize for the bother,” Komaeda said, and before he managed to say anything more the call was cut. As blunt as always; they had gotten to know each other when Komaeda had been using some of his heritage money to make investments for fun. Thanks to his luck, he managed to make a lot of great investments, sometimes when making bets on complete black horses and that had gotten Togami’s attention, leading to him being hired highly in his company.

Though, they never really got along for some reason. Komaeda didn’t mind Togami, but the other seemed to avoid him for the most part. Then again, Togami did that to everyone. So maybe just the fact that he had offered the position to him counted as getting along when Togami was involved. And he could call him for favors, just as long as he was ready to pay enough.

Despite the call being over, Komaeda kept the phone on his ear. Now that he had the phone, he had another call to make: they weren’t going to stay for a lot longer in Tokyo after all, and he’d need to do this well in advance. He’d just need to talk to Hinata about it later, when the timing was better. He began to press the buttons on the phone without lifting it from his ear; it had been a while he had done this trick so he was mostly going with the hope that he remembered everything correctly.

And when the call went through, Komaeda sighed in relief as the right voice answered.


 

“I got it arranged.” Komaeda handed back the phone after walking back to the other. Hinata took the phone and nodded.

“So… can we just go like this into a high-class restaurant…?” Hinata asked, glancing at his own attire.

“No, you’re right. They do have a dress-code, so we need suits. We don’t need to necessarily buy them, we can get rental ones for the evening. I know a good place,” Komaeda said as he began to walk down the street, Hinata following right behind him. The phone call cheat seemed to have been a success: Hinata didn’t suspect a thing. The thought would normally make him feel a bit bad, but it was better to not discuss this with Hinata yet. It was a heavy decision to make and Komaeda didn’t want to burden him with it right after yesterday.

That wasn’t the idea for today at all.

“The reservation for us is in two hours. So if you’re really hungry, we can buy something small to eat on the way,” Komaeda suggested, and Hinata seemed to ponder it for a moment before shaking his head.

“I can wait until then… I mean, the emptier my stomach is the more I can eat, right?” he said with a slight grin on his face and Komaeda smiled back, feeling relieved that the series of crappy movies hadn’t ruined the good mood they had had today.

“As long as you don’t eat too much and get a stomachache, that is,” Komaeda joked back and the other chuckled.

As Hinata answered him, Komaeda suddenly felt the urge to hold the other’s hand, and he buried his hands into his pockets. He couldn’t do that.


 

“This really feels weird,” Hinata mumbled to Komaeda when they were being escorted to their table. He kept glancing around in the restaurant. Komaeda gave him a sympathetic smile; they had gotten the suits, but Hinata clearly wasn’t used to all this fanciness and kept staring at the people around them with awe. Komaeda himself didn’t particularly care about their surroundings; instead his eyes kept wandering to his companion and he had to make conscious effort to not stare.

“Perhaps the food will make you relax,” Komaeda whispered back and the other nodded while fixing his sleeves for the umpteenth time. They got to their table, which was located right next to the windows. The evening city was buzzing several floors below them, the darkness of the night brushed away by the street lights and illuminated signs. They didn’t get to enjoy the view for long before the menus were handed to them and they started browsing through them. Komaeda noticed right away that the menu had been updated since the last time he was here, and with interest he began to check the new dishes out.

They were all seemingly by a new, famous cook of theirs, who prepared the meals himself from the beginning to the end, and the prices were clearly according to that. He informed Hinata of this and suggested that they try out the new cook.

“They’re so expensive though…,” Hinata said, frowning as he stared at the menu, “But they do look delicious…”

“Money is not a problem, take whatever you want. We can order several ones too, to get a taste of them all,” Komaeda reassured and Hinata just shot a glare at him.

They eventually ended up doing that despite Hinata’s reluctance, and after giving out their order to the waiter, Komaeda turned to look outside the window again. Hinata followed his example, and for a while they just watched all the people walking through the streets within the colorful lights. Komaeda found himself wishing there would have been snowfall this evening, to see the snowflakes flutter among all the lights.

He glanced at Hinata, who seemed to be enchanted by following the people in the streets, and he smiled softly. He was glad that his luck ruining their movies didn’t seem to have made this day completely horrible for Hinata. His luck was going to inconvenience them a lot more during the rest of their travel, and he could just hope that it wouldn’t drive Hinata away from him.

So far his luck had been mostly on the rise, and Komaeda knew what that meant. The more good luck came his way, the worse the drop would be… He lowered his eyes to his hands, fiddling with his fingers as dark thoughts began to rise in his mind. If his luck anyhow hurt Hinata, he… Komaeda bit his lip; he had thought losing his parents had already made him immune to this fear. The deeper the despair, the brighter the hope would shine through it. He knew this, he really did but he couldn’t help but feel like he wanted that hope to come from Hinata and not just from anyone.

He really wished he could force bad luck on himself, so that he could gather enough of it to keep hold of what he had now. But he knew it was a futile wish; even trying to do it would make things worse.

If only his luck wasn’t like this…

Komaeda shook his head. His luck had been the one who had brought Hinata to him in the first place.

There was no point in thinking what ifs.


 

“We hope you’ll enjoy your meal, and do not refrain from calling me over if you need anything,” the waiter said as he bowed before leaving to tend to another table. Hinata seemed to glance over all the food before his eyes fixed onto the wine glasses where the waiter had poured drinks for them.

“Are you okay with wine? I can ask them to bring over something alcohol-free as well,” Komaeda said when he noticed the other seemed to be surprised by the presence of the glasses, but Hinata shook his head.

“No, it’s alright. I can drink wine.” To prove his words, Hinata took his glass and took a sip. Komaeda decided to pretend like he didn’t notice the way the other tried to hide his slight cringe, and instead smiled gently as he took his own glass as well. He didn’t particularly like alcohol, but it wasn’t like he disliked it either. He had grown rather used to drinking sake and wine during business meetings with clients.

As they began to eat, soon their conversation was nothing but compliments for the food. Hinata seemed to be excited over the food, and kept telling Komaeda to try out the ones he especially liked. Komaeda didn’t mention anything about the fact that it was basically everything. The food was mesmerizingly good and he didn’t really dislike the way Hinata called his name every time he wanted him to taste something.

Eventually the conversation quieted down when they had managed to taste every single dish, and now their only focus was on stuffing themselves. Komaeda thought of starting another conversation, but Hinata seemed to be so into the food with his cheeks slightly red from plain excitement. So Komaeda just focused on eating as well, while glancing around in the restaurant. There weren’t many tables in the restaurant, to give all the customers enough distance to enjoy their meals in peace. So even with the place full, there was a sense of privacy.

He felt nervous tinge on his fingers as he thought that they really were basically alone here. Had it… had it not been a situation like theirs, with them traveling together and all, everything they had done today would pretty much be considered a date. It had not really been his primary objective; he had just tried to make the day calm and enjoyable for Hinata, but perhaps that was the same goal he had during dates as well. He glanced up from his food to check up on Hinata, expecting the other to be still into eating.

Instead, Hinata seemed to be feeling nervous: his eyes were fixed onto the food but his hands were resting against the table, holding the utensils as he frowned.

“Is there something wrong?” The question startled Hinata, who lifted his eyes from the food and shook his head quickly. Komaeda noticed Hinata’s wine glass was empty, but before he even managed to say another word, the waiter stopped by their table.

“Would you like to have your glass refilled?” he asked Hinata, who quickly nodded like he was relieved to have the moment interrupted. After the waiter poured the wine glass full again and left, Hinata grabbed his glass quickly and took a sip. Left confused by the other’s mood, Komaeda took a sip of his own wine as well before returning to the food. Hinata didn’t seem to feel like talking, so he probably shouldn’t open his mouth…

“Are you sure everything is okay?” The words spilled from his mouth before he even managed to think it through, and Hinata nodded.

“Yeah, everything is okay. I’m just…,” Hinata’s words slowly faded towards the end, and Komaeda tilted his head.

“Are you still not used to the atmosphere?” Komaeda inquired further and Hinata nodded quickly.

“Yeah, that’s it. Probably. The food is really good but it’s just… it feels like we’re alone here with everyone so far away. I can still see and hear them but it just feels like we were in different room from them… It doesn’t really feel like a restaurant normally does,” Hinata babbled like he was desperately trying to continue the conversation, leaving Komaeda confused again. He had thought the other hadn’t felt like talking, but now he seemed desperate to have the conversation continue.

“This restaurant is quite famous for that atmosphere. They say it’s to bring out the sophisticated feeling in a comfortable and relaxed setting, where people can feel like royalty and converse with their loved ones—and friends,” Komaeda added hastily, hoping he hadn’t already made the mood awkward. “I read this from a review they wrote for a magazine I used to subscribe to.”

“Ah, okay… Well, I guess it feels something like that…,” Hinata said meekly. For a small moment, their conversation was quieted down as they focused on eating again, before Hinata continued talking. “Have you, uh, been here before?”

“Well, many of our most important clients wanted to dine here sometimes so I have…,” Komaeda started and the other shook his head.

“Uh, I meant like with… A loved one. Or a friend.” The silence fell between them for a few awkward seconds as Komaeda took the words in, before placing his hands next to his plate. He couldn’t explain why his heart was suddenly beating a lot faster than it did normally.

“I did once visit with a personal acquaintance, yeah…,” he admitted quietly, “Why do you ask?” Hinata flinched at the question and shrugged, before taking his wine glass and drinking the rest of it down.

“I was just, thinking. No special reason for it or anything,” Hinata answered. The waiter came over again like he had predicted this, and poured Hinata’s glass full again after waiting for an affirmative nod. “This is a good restaurant. Very good. So it’s no wonder you’d bring someone over here. Especially if it was a girlfriend or something like that,” Hinata continued before drinking more wine. Komaeda was getting slightly worried by the amount of wine the other was drinking so quickly. They were eating so it wasn’t too much yet but… he didn’t know how used to alcohol Hinata was.

“It’s a beautiful restaurant, the view from here is amazing. I’m glad I got lucky and got us this reservation,” Komaeda answered before glancing at the other’s wine glass. “I don’t want to be a bother, but are you thirsty? There’s no reason to drink so much wine if you’re just thirsty, we can ask for water as well.”

“Ah, no, I’m not thirsty. It’s just… good wine,” Hinata added before shaking his head. “I just was thinking about… You had a girlfriend back in Kyoto. She texted your phone.”

Komaeda restrained his sigh of relief. So it was about this.

“I did. I’m sorry for not taking care of it before we left.”

“No, it’s whatever but… were you really okay with leaving?” Hinata seemed very nervous when he asked the question, his eyes fixated on his plate. Komaeda smiled slightly before setting down his utensils.

“As I said, meeting you was the best thing to ever happen to me in my life. Maybe… Maybe this makes me sound like a bad person, but the relationship with her had no meaning to me, really. My life was stale and normal, and I thought I should just let myself fall into the routine and go through with it so…,” Komaeda explained, and glanced at Hinata who was now staring at him.

“So she…”

“It’s despicable, isn’t it? I just dated her because she was amiable enough to maintain a fake relationship with. Without meeting you, I would have probably ended up living through the ‘normal’ life with her without even thinking about it.” The words felt heavier with each one he said, and he didn’t want to lift up his eyes to the other. “You probably helped her have a better life.”

A silence fell between them at the words, and Komaeda smiled awkwardly at Hinata. The other just pursed his lips and poked his food around absent-mindedly before taking another sip of the wine. The mood was starting to crush on them heavily, and Komaeda decided to give them both a small break.

“I’ll visit the bathroom, alright? I’ll be back soon,” he said trying to put some cheer into his words before standing up. Hinata just nodded to him before he walked away.

Komaeda sighed as soon as he was far enough from table to not be heard. He felt like he was just making mistake after mistake now.

Chapter Text

Hinata sighed as soon as Komaeda was out of his sight, before taking another sip of his wine. Maybe he shouldn’t have brought up the girlfriend business during their meal. The mood was all awkward now. He didn’t even really know why he had felt the need to bring it up now; there was no real reason to it. He had already brought up what was fair and there was really no need to talk about the life Komaeda had left behind but…

He had just felt like he had to talk about it, and before he had known it, the words had left his lips. Maybe it really was the wine; this was the first time he had really drunk any sort of alcoholic beverage and it might as well be making him talk all the things he really shouldn’t talk about. Even if he did want to…

“Would you like to have your glass refilled?” Hinata flinched in surprise at the waiter’s voice. The man was standing there with a calm smile on his face, and Hinata just nodded without thinking about it. The waiter poured his glass full again and walked off, leaving Hinata alone again. He took the wine glass on his hand to mildly shake it around, watching the wine whish from side to side. This wine was probably very expensive too; he wasn’t really sure how Komaeda had so much money as he seemed to have, but clearly he was used to not minding money no matter what he did.

He thought back to the big house Komaeda had lived in, all alone. From the blanket in the living room sofa and containers in the fridge, he presumed the other didn’t use most of that space at all. Why he hadn’t sold the house was a mystery to Hinata though; it seemed unnecessary to live in such a big house alone if he didn’t want to live in there. Hinata sighed. If he had paid more attention to things when they were at the house, maybe he’d know more. But at that time he had been so absorbed into getting away from Kyoto that he hadn’t even cared about who Komaeda was and what his life was like.

The only thing he had cared about had been his own getaway.

He brought the wine glass to his lips and drank half of it, before setting the glass down. Quick check on the phone revealed to him that an hour had already passed in the restaurant. He hadn’t really even noticed how fast the time had passed while eating. They would probably leave soon after Komaeda came back. At least Hinata had eaten himself full already.

He glanced through all the food that there was still left. It felt like such a waste to leave so much food behind, but he was still glad to have been able to taste all of it. Just thinking about it made him want to eat more, but he knew that just a mouthful more and he’d probably pop. He took another sip of the wine however.

He noticed Komaeda walking back towards the table, and he set down his glass. Komaeda smiled slightly as he seated himself.

“Feeling full yet?” he asked and Hinata nodded.

“Yeah… How about you?”

“I don’t think I can eat much more so I’d say I am. I’ll call the waiter over.” Komaeda raised his hand to call over their waiter, and Hinata took this chance to empty his glass for the last time.

“How can I help?” the waiter asked as soon as he reached the table.

“We’re done eating now.”

“Would you like to have dessert?” the waiter asked and Komaeda turned to look at Hinata. Surprised by the sudden question Hinata nodded, and Komaeda told the message on to the waiter, who then began to list their dessert options. After having him repeat them twice more, they decided on their respective desserts.

“Thank you, we’ll bring them shortly. In the meantime we will empty your table, so please forgive us the disturbance. Would you like to have your glasses refilled?” he asked and Hinata quickly nodded again. He wasn’t even sure if it was a good idea to drink more, but he just found it hard to refuse when asked so politely.

“… Yes, thank you,” Komaeda said as well, and the waiter refilled both of their glasses before leaving to the kitchen. Soon enough a waitress came over with a trolley and began to clear their table. Hinata stared out of the window to avoid looking at Komaeda; the awkwardness was hanging heavily in the air and making it hard to be at ease. He knew that this was mostly to blame on his stupid questions, and with a sigh he took another sip of the wine.

“I, uh, broke you up with your girlfriend,” Hinata said after the waitress left as the thought passed his mind. It was probably just fair to tell Komaeda that his relationship was over. Especially since Hinata had pretended to be him and broken up the relationship. “I hope that’s okay.”

“Yes, I don’t mind. As I said, it was my mistake to not have taken care of it from the very start. Mind if I ask how she reacted?” Komaeda asked, and for some reason the question made Hinata feel sullen. It was a normal question, but it bothered him.

“She was angry at first and didn’t want to break up, but then I—uh, she eventually understood,” Hinata corrected quickly. The situation was already awkward enough without saying he had implied to her that Komaeda had fallen in love with “someone new”. “She said she wishes you all the best for the future and thanked you for everything until now,” he added, and Komaeda nodded.

“I see. That’s kind of her…,” he said quietly, and for a brief moment the silence fell between them again. Hinata drank some wine again as he looked around in the restaurant, trying to think of something to say, something to wipe away this topic and to bring back the light mood from earlier today.

“By the way, it’s supposed to snow again tomorrow,” Komaeda said eventually and smiled, “It’s snowing most of the day, so maybe we could go on a walk at some point then?” Hinata nodded swiftly and reflexively leaned closer to the table when he answered.

“Yeah! Let’s do that!” he said and smiled as well, relieved that they had something else to talk about now. “We could also go buy some books tomorrow, so there would be something to read in the car when we leave...” Komaeda nodded.

“Sounds good. Speaking of which, when would you like to leave? I reserved the room for a week, but we can extend it or leave before that, if you’d want,” he said. Hinata quickly counted the days in head; this was their third day here which meant they still had four left.

“I want to see more of the city still so week is alright,” Hinata said. There was still time until the end of the year, enough to get them far enough. Besides, so far he had enjoyed his time in Tokyo for the most part. Doing all sort of things had almost made him feel relaxed enough to forget the end of the world that was coming, and he had had genuinely fun with Komaeda, despite… despite the difficulties mixed in.

Komaeda was looking at him with a soft look, and Hinata lowered his eyes.

“Alright, we can go see everything you want during this week,” Komaeda said. Hinata gave him a shy smile, and then the waiter returned with their desserts. They returned to eating again, planning things they would do with the remaining week, and Hinata found himself smiling through most of the conversation much to his own surprise.


 

“Did you enjoy your desserts?” the waiter asked when he walked to their table. Hinata nodded enthusiastically and Komaeda answered likewise. The waiter smiled at their responses. “We’re glad to hear that. Would you like to leave now?”

“Yes, thank you,” Komaeda said standing up from the table, and Hinata quickly hurried to do the same. As soon as he did that though, he felt a slight spin on his head. It felt like a quick spell of dizziness, but he quickly realized his thoughts felt like they were somehow… muddled up. He glanced at the wine glass quickly before they began to walk away from the table: it might have not been a good idea to down so much of it. Now that he was up he could really feel the tipsiness coming over.

Komaeda glanced at him, and he quickly smiled reflexively and felt a slight heat come to his cheeks when the other returned the motion. It would probably be alright to go like this.

As they got closer to the entrance, Hinata noticed a very short man in chefs clothes standing close-by it, talking with a waitress. The waiter escorting them noticed him too apparently as he rose his voice slightly in surprise.

“Chef Hanamura, what are you doing out here?” The man turned to look at them with the waiter’s words, and smiled. Hinata couldn’t help but pay attention to the weird hair he had, while the waitress seemed to escape from the situation. He had a wide smile on his face as he approached them.

“I came to meet and thank the lovely customers who apparently tried every single one of my dishes!” he said cheerily before his eyes fixed on the two of them, and Hinata had a slight feeling that even more so he was the target of the interest. “Would these two gentlemen be the ones I’m looking for?”

“Yes, you’re correct. Gentlemen, here’s our chef who has served you tonight, Chef Hanamura Teruteru.” The waiter said as he bowed together with the chef. Hinata and Komaeda returned the bow, but before Hinata managed to straighten his back, Hanamura took hold of his hand and without any warning brought it to lips. Hinata almost pulled his hand away in shock, but managed to stop himself just in time.

“I’m glad to hear you’ve enjoyed my dishes!” he said and Hinata just nodded in confusion. Out the corner of his eyes he saw Komaeda stepping closer, but Hanamura didn’t seem to notice him as he just smiled and kept holding his hand. “I’d be very… happy to serve even more of them to you, this time being able to see you enjoy them…” He continued in an oddly soft voice and before Hinata managed to answer anything, the waiter stepped between them.

Chef, I’d like you return to the kitchen now.” The waiter said in a weirdly forceful tone as Hanamura let go of Hinata’s hand. Hinata stepped back one step to give way to the waiter and to his surprise, he bumped into Komaeda right away. Komaeda smiled at him weirdly before saying that they should leave, and beginning to escort him to the desk where they had left their jackets.

We have mentioned to you so many times to not flirt with the customers! If this continues…” Hinata heard the waiter behind them whisper harshly to the chef, but the rest was cut off when they got enough distance between them. He felt his cheeks heating up: the situation had gone by so fast, he hadn’t even realized he had been flirted with. He glanced at Komaeda as he felt embarrassed: it was weird to have been put into that position in front of the other, especially having been so blissfully oblivious to it.

Komaeda’s hand was very faintly holding against his shoulder as they walked, and Hinata lowered his eyes to the ground. Komaeda probably had realized it.

Chapter Text

As they walked out of the restaurant, Komaeda huffed to himself in annoyance. Even though the food had been so delicious that it’d been out of this world, that kind of unprofessionalism from the chef was just…

Komaeda glanced back; Hinata seemed to be in thought, his eyes lowered and his cheeks slightly red. If Komaeda was correct in his assumption, the other hadn’t even realized right away he had been flirted with. To be fair, the other seemed to be slightly tipsy from all that wine he had been drinking. Komaeda wasn’t sure how much Hinata had drunk in total, but he knew the waiter had brought out a second bottle at some point since it had been marked down on the bill.

“Are you feeling alright? The wine isn’t getting to you?” Komaeda asked as he slowed down his pace to walk beside the other. Hinata just nodded quickly.

“Yeah, of course. Everything is okay. I’m feeling great,” Hinata talked in a rush, trying to convince Komaeda so desperately that it was clear he was lying. “Are we going to go return the suits now?” It was a crude attempt at changing the topic, and Komaeda didn’t miss the way Hinata stumbled on one step very slightly.

“No, we need to bring them back tomorrow morning, so we can go back now. Should we take a taxi instead of the train…?” Hinata wasn’t really stumbling all over the place but it would still probably be better to take the faster transport back. However, Hinata shook his head.

“Train is fine, I want to walk a bit,” he answered. Komaeda nodded; he trusted Hinata’s own judgement. Just in case he moved to walk a little closer to Hinata just… just in case. The other didn’t seem to notice anything as he kept staring at his feet.

The way to the train station wasn’t long and those five minutes they walked mostly in silence, occasionally talking about their plans for the rest of the week. The streets were relatively quiet now compared to daytime, like the city was taking a short breather before the buzzing would come back.

The station was just as calm, if not even more so. Hinata seemed to relax a bit more now that there weren’t as many people walking past them. A quick check on the schedules told them that they had to wait fifteen minutes for the next train, but it was easy to find an empty bench by the platform their train would leave from.

“I’ll go get some water from the vending machine,” Komaeda said after Hinata had seated himself. The other just nodded and Komaeda walked over to the machine, taking out his wallet and counting the coins on his way. He noticed that Hinata was staring at him while he was dropping the coins in, and unsure what to do he just gave a shy smile to Hinata in return. The water bottle dropped just as Hinata turned his eyes away, pulling his legs up to the bench to hug them. Komaeda took the bottle and walked back to the other.

“Here, Hinata-kun,” Komaeda said as he extended the bottle towards the other. “It’d be good for you to drink some water.”

“Ah? No, no, I don’t need any… You can drink it yourself, you didn’t drink much at the restaurant or before that either…,” Hinata said as he shook his head, and Komaeda nodded. He wanted to insist on the other to drink, because if he didn’t drink anything else the alcohol would soon affect him even more, but for some reason he was also feeling some foreign unease about asking. He sat beside Hinata, and opened the bottle to take a sip himself; it was true that he hadn’t really been drinking much. He had been paying way too much attention to Hinata to even think about it.

They sat there in silence for a moment, and Komaeda fitted the half-full water bottle in his pocket after he had had enough to drink.

“I would have really liked to visit an amusement park, but I don’t think that’s possible this time of the year,” Hinata said suddenly, returning to their earlier topic.

“That’s true…,” Komaeda answered. “There might be some Ferris wheels operating though, I can check if you want?” he asked and Hinata shrugged.

“Well, maybe. I guess there’s no harm in checking at least,“ he said before smiling. “Mostly I was just… mentioning it. It’s been forever since I last had a chance to go to one. I wonder when the last time even was.” Komaeda bit his lower lip. There was really no changing the time of the year, and if everything was going to go as Hinata had said, the next summer would never come. And everything was going to go as Hinata said, so the next summer was entirely impossible thought.

Komaeda leaned forward on his thighs to rest his cheek on his hand.

“I haven’t been to one in a long time either. It’d be really nice to go to one—it could be fun.” He had almost said “together”, but after the… conversation they had had in the restaurant, he really didn’t want to repeat any of that awkwardness by being careless with his words. If it ever turned out to be possible, Hinata would want to go with someone other than him, surely. Especially with his luck being a factor.

“From what I remember at least I always had fun with everything. Except with all the horror attractions.” Hinata straightened his legs as he spoke, rubbing his thighs like he was trying to rub away the cold. “I don’t understand why anyone would voluntarily go get themselves scared…”

“Ah, do they scare you?” Komaeda asked with a smile, and Hinata immediately shot a pouty glare at him. Komaeda just fixed his smile to be more apologetic before continuing. “I’m not a big fan of them either. There’s nothing of interest in it for me, to go get scared by actors and props during a brief walk.” Besides, there were a lot scarier things than horror houses in his life.

“Yeah, exactly. I guess some people like them, but not me…,” Hinata almost mumbled the rest of his sentence, with a frown on his face. “I think the last time I went to amusement park might have been in middle school. I can’t even remember all the different attractions, except for the most iconic ones. I really… don’t remember, at all.” His voice sounded slightly forlorn as he was trying to bring back his memories, and Komaeda glanced at him from the corner of his eye. An idea popped into his head all of a sudden, and he shot up from his slouch and turned to look at Hinata properly.

“Then… How about we go abroad? There’s still time before New Year, we can take the plane to the other side of the globe, where it’s summer now, and then fly back,” he explained, the idea taking him away. There was only a small hesitation in his mind when he mentioned the plane, but he pushed it aside. This was much more important right now. “The flight takes only ten hours, so it could easily be squeezed into 2 or 3 day trip.”

Hinata was clearly surprised and taken aback at his sudden enthusiasm.

“That’s… but I don’t even have a passport…,” he said, his voice just further showing his confusion.

“It’s not a problem, not at all. I know people who can do a fake passport, in fact I…,” Komaeda started at first, but stopped himself from derailing from the topic at hand. “I can also get us a private jet as well, so we can travel in complete privacy and without any delays.”

“But… it will cost so much for just one trip to the amusement park, I don’t—it doesn’t feel right to use so much of your money for just that,” Hinata protested, and Komaeda just flashed a wide smile at him.

“Hinata-kun, money isn’t a problem at all, I have more than enough of it! The world will end soon anyways, we should just use as much of it as possible,” Komaeda insisted, and he could see Hinata hesitating. “You don’t need to decide right now, but if you want to, then we can go anytime. There’s no reason for you to think of someone like me in this situation at all,” he added, and Hinata bit his lower lip.

“I… Can I go to the bathroom and take a moment to think about this…?” Hinata said hesitantly, and Komaeda nodded. Without any further words, Hinata stood up from the bench and walked away.

For a moment Komaeda just watched after Hinata, before slumping on the bench as his thoughts began to calm down from the rush. He still wanted nothing more than to fulfill Hinata’s wish, but being alone made all the uneasiness come crashing back.

With his luck, it was entirely possible that something would happen again. He had travelled by plane alone after the accident, but this would be the first time ever since then he’d be… he’d be travelling with someone he cared about more than anything else. Until now he had thought he was completely over the accident already, and it didn’t bother him at all but thinking about losing Hinata just like he had lost his parents was making his hands shake.

Komaeda wanted to make Hinata happy first and foremost, but…

It was so risky.

Chapter Text

Hinata leaned over the sink and stared into the mirror in his thoughts. His cheeks were red and his thoughts felt dizzy, and he wasn’t sure if it was the cause of alcohol or if Komaeda’s suggestion was making him way too nervous. Quite possibly both, he reasoned as he turned on the tap to rinse his face, desperately trying to get rid of the heat from his cheeks.

He hadn’t really thought about the amusement park that much before, at some point during the day he had seen a poster with a Ferris wheel in it and the thought had come to his mind just now. But… he really did want to go to one while he still could, but it felt so excessive, to travel to a whole another country just for such a short visit. Komaeda was right that they had the time and according to him they had the money as well.

He lifted his face from the sink and turned the tap off; the heat wasn’t leaving his face no matter what he did. He did feel a bit fresher after trying though, and he shook his head to get his thoughts together.

Hinata knew it was an insane idea. Get him a fake passport, get plane tickets on such short notice and go abroad just so he could get into couple amusement park rides was unreasonable plan. But Komaeda seemed so excited about it, and that was rubbing off to him. It’d… it’d be nice to enjoy more time together with Komaeda, time without any worries, to just forget about the end of the year approaching and have fun. And if it would make Komaeda happy as well, he wasn’t sure what argument he had against it after that.

If… if the other really wanted to go, then Hinata was going to agree. After all, he wanted the other to enjoy the rest of this time too. He… he couldn’t really come into an opinion himself. The amusement park could be fun and he’d probably enjoy spending some fun time with the other, but he wasn’t sure all the effort was worth it when they could as well do something nice here as well. Even just spending time like today would be enough for him, since… since he wasn’t alone.

He sighed and slapped his cheeks, and started to leave the bathroom despite not having come to a proper, satisfying decision. He didn’t want to keep Komaeda waiting for too long. Moving made him feel a bit dizzier again, cancelling out all of the cool water’s effects. He chuckled as he shook his head; he was the one who was more or less drunk, and Komaeda still was the one with the crazy idea. But perhaps the alcohol was making him actually consider the offer; normally he’d have immediately refused such outrageous suggestion.

Carefully walking back, focusing most of his attention on trying to not stumble down, he didn’t notice Komaeda right away. Instead of sitting on the bench, Komaeda was pacing around the platform, seeming stressed. Hinata presumed at first that the other was probably worried about him taking so long, but the worry didn’t disappear from his eyes when he saw Hinata. There was something else bothering him, Hinata realized when the other walked briskly to meet him halfway.

“Sorry for taking so long, the train probably went already…,” Hinata said at first, not sure what else to say, and Komaeda shook his head.

“We can just wait for the next one,” he said and for a moment they stood there in silence. Komaeda was staring in the ground, and Hinata had to lean down a bit to see the conflicted look on his face. When the situation had dragged on long enough, Hinata leaned down even more and this time more obviously to meet Komaeda’s eyes.

“Komaeda? Is everything okay?” he asked as gently as he could, but despite that the other flinched at the question – or maybe, a thought passed Hinata’s mind, it was exactly because of it.

“It’s just… Can I see my marble?” Komaeda’s voice squeaked a bit when he spoke, and Hinata took the said marble from his pocket and showed it. He still didn’t understand what it was about the marble, but the other’s anxiousness seemed to ease a bit at the sight of it. This time though, while he seemed to calm down, a pained look remained on his face as he stared at the marble.

Hinata wanted to ask again if the other was okay, but the mood felt too heavy to repeat his question. Instead, he just looked at the marble as well; back then he had bought it on a moment’s whim, but now it felt like it was carrying a lot more meaning, especially to Komaeda. The other always had a longing look when he looked at it, and it made Hinata want to just forcefully make him hold it.

But, even though he didn’t really know that much about how Komaeda’s luck really worked and if it really was a real thing, he still found himself concerned about it. If he forced Komaeda to hold it, and it actually did fall and break… it would be bad.

“Thank you, that’s… enough.” Komaeda’s voice held on better this time, but there was forced strength in his words. Even Hinata could hear it, despite being dense and well, kind of drunk right now. He put the marble back into his pocket, and before he managed to say anything the other spoke. “Did you come to a decision yet?”

“I… Uh,” Hinata hesitated. Now he was starting to doubt what he had thought in the bathroom. He had thought the other really wanted to go, but there was something off about the way the other had asked that question. “Are you okay with going?” he asked hesitantly, cursing his inability to ask it in a better way. Komaeda seemed surprised about the question.

“How… how does that matter?” Komaeda asked, his voice filled with so much confusion that Hinata started to feel sorry for him.

“You seem like you’re uncomfortable, I just wanted to ask. So?”

“I…,” Komaeda started, seemingly trying to find words. “I’m okay with it.”

“Really? There’s nothing bothering you?” Hinata asked, taking a small step closer to the other to closely inspect the other’s expression to determine if the other was telling the truth. He was still feeling woozy and that was making him insist more on making sure the other was speaking the truth, since it was hard to read the other’s tone of voice. Komaeda seemed like he wanted to take a step away in response but instead he remained still, staring at Hinata with bewilderment and his cheeks getting red.

“W-well, it’s just. I’m worried that something will happen to you,” Komaeda said meekly, and as he spoke Hinata realized how close he actually was, and he stepped back again. Komaeda sighed in relief at that.

“Worried?” Hinata asked, tilting his head. “Why would anything happen to me?”

“Uh, you probably don’t remember since it was just some old boring thing from my past, but my… my parents died in a place accident when we were travelling together,” Komaeda explained, his eyes trailing to the ground. “It was… My luck killed them. And I was just afraid that the same would happen to you…” Komaeda’s voice trailed off towards the end, and Hinata frowned. He did faintly remember the other telling that his parents had died in a plane accident, but that Komaeda had been with them was news for him. He… he was definitely doubtful that Komaeda’s luck had been the thing that had killed them; it was hard to believe something so unbelievable.

But what was clear was that Komaeda definitely wasn’t comfortable with the idea of flying and wasn’t looking forward to the trip. And if that was the case, Hinata didn’t want to go either. He only wanted to go if the other would enjoy it too.

“But it should be okay, I can make some arrangements to make sure it will be safe. I don’t… I don’t want to lose you,” Komaeda said, his voice sounding so weak and afraid like he was about to cry, and Hinata just brushed off the whole idea of reminding Komaeda about the end of the world. Maybe the alcohol was giving him some incentive to do it, but instead he found himself stepping closer to Komaeda again and wrapping his arms around him. The other let out a tiny, surprised squeak when he did, but Hinata just hugged him tighter and chuckled.

“Let’s not go then. There’s no point in going if you’re not going to enjoy your time,” he said softly. Komaeda was completely tense in his hold, and for a moment Hinata wondered whether he should let him go. But… it had been a long time since he had hugged anyone. Komaeda’s hair smelled good and despite being bony and pale, he was surprisingly warm, and Hinata realized he didn’t want to let go yet.

“B-but that doesn’t matter, if you want to go then we should…”

“What if I say that I don’t want to? Because I don’t, if you’re not going to have fun with me,” Hinata said, cutting the other off. He felt like he could’ve worded that better but he didn’t really care at this point. Right now he felt like he should just do what he felt like doing, and that was making him feel great. “Thank you for offering, but I’d rather do something fun here. Maybe we can find that Ferris wheel,” he added and chuckled again when the other nodded hastily. For a moment they stood there, and Hinata was again starting to wonder whether to let go, but before he did Komaeda lifted his arms to hug him back, and he decided to stay like this for a moment longer. From this position, he could see a movie poster with a young lady standing in middle of the field and he smiled.

“Maybe... the world won’t end, and we can go there next summer. That… that would be nice,” Hinata said and felt Komaeda squeeze him just a bit tighter. He responded in kind, enjoying the closeness. He knew that his wish was just in vain, but for the first time in his life he wanted to have hope that everything would turn out all right.

The silence rested between them for a moment, and then they heard the train approaching the platform, and slowly they pulled away from each other and turned towards the rails to wait for the train. Hinata turned to look at the ceiling and he realized now that his throat was parching.

“Do you still have some of that water left?” he asked and Komaeda nodded, taking the bottle from his pocket. “Give me some, I’m thirsty.”

“Are you sure you want to drink from the same bottle as I did? I can quickly buy another one if you…”

“Just give it to me,” Hinata said and Komaeda handed the bottle to him. For a moment they looked at each other in silence, before Hinata started to laugh and was soon joined by the other. The day had been full of awkward moments, but Hinata had a feeling they were getting… somewhere. At least, it was much easier to breathe than when he had been alone.

Chapter Text

On the train ride back, Hinata fell asleep since they were alone. Komaeda looked at the other sleeping on next to him for a moment, and then turned his eyes to the floor between his extended legs. His cheeks were still burning hot despite his efforts to calm down. He knew he shouldn’t be this happy from something so small, but…

Just thinking about it was making his heart beat faster and he couldn’t stop himself from smiling. His heart was fluttering like a light butterfly, and the feeling was so unfamiliar that he didn’t know what to even do with all these emotions inside him. Smiling like an idiot was the only thing he knew how to do, but it just wasn’t enough. It was making him feel restless, and he leaned back and sighed.

Even if it had been his idea, he was happy that the plan had been abandoned. He just wished that this really was what made Hinata happier as well: he felt bad that the other had refused to go because of him and his happiness. It wasn’t something Komaeda had… had wanted the other to take into account. He had wanted Hinata to just do whatever he wanted, and to support him no matter where they were going to.

It wasn’t what he had wanted, not at all but despite that he felt his heart swell from warmth… He didn’t want it, but maybe—maybe he needed it.

Komaeda shook his head; this train of thought would take him nowhere. He should probably think about their plans for rest of their time in Tokyo, and how he was going to arrange everything. He wanted to make everything perfect for Hinata, to compensate for the amusement park.

His planning was disturbed however when he felt Hinata suddenly leaning against him. He almost flinched in surprise, but he held himself back to not wake the other up. For a moment Komaeda was confused at what he should do: the other was breathing very calmly, and he didn’t really want to wake him up yet since there was some way to go still.

Hinata’s hair was right beside his head, and after hesitating for a moment Komaeda slowly leaned his head against the soft hair. His cheeks were heating up again and his heart was beating fast, but at the same time he felt comfortable and good as they were now, and he decided to just enjoy this moment until they arrived at their station.

He didn’t still really understand what he wanted, but in this moment he was happy and most importantly, Hinata seemed to be too.


 

When Komaeda woke up the next morning the room was completely quiet, and when he sat up he found Hinata still sleeping. When they had had to get off the train, Hinata had still been completely sleepy and had refused to wake up properly. Eventually Komaeda had half-carried him back to the hotel, and Hinata had just headed immediately to bed after changing into sleepwear when they got back.

Komaeda smiled a bit as he went through the memories of yesterday, before shaking his head and getting up from the bed. It was still pretty early in the morning, almost early enough to consider just going back to sleep but he wasn’t really tired at all. No, instead he felt like he was full of energy and zeal.

He dressed up as quietly as he could, glancing back at Hinata occasionally to make sure he was still asleep. The other seemed to be very heavily asleep though, so his worry was probably for nothing.

Komaeda glanced at the suits they had worn yesterday. He could probably take them back alone, and let Hinata sleep a bit longer. Swiftly he brushed his teeth and prepared to leave. When he was mostly ready, he walked over to Hinata’s bed and hesitantly seated himself on the bed and began to shake the other awake by his shoulder.

“Komaeda…?” Hinata mumbled as he slowly opened his eyes. “Is it time to wake up?”

“No, you can still go back to sleep. I’m going to return the suits now. I just thought… thought I’d tell you I’m leaving,” Komaeda said softly as he pulled his hand away from Hinata’s shoulder. “I’ll try to not take long. When you wake up, you can order anything you want to eat from the hotel service, they’ll add it to the bill.” Hinata grinned sleepily.

“Mm, I know. You don’t need to worry so much…,” he mumbled as he tried to keep his eyes open.

“Ah, sorry. I’ll go now and let you sleep in peace…,” Komaeda said as he began to stand up from the bed. Before he could leave though, Hinata grabbed the hem of his jacket and he turned to look at the other in surprise.

“Bye bye, be safe…,” Hinata said with a smile, his eyes already closed.

“Y-yeah, bye,” Komaeda answered and Hinata let go of his jacket. With a soft smile on his lips, Komaeda picked up the bag with the suits and left.


 

It started to snow when Komaeda was driving on his way back. It served as another reminder that he should get his car’s tires changed before they headed any more north. He hummed as he parked the car to the hotel’s parking lot; it would soon be midday, so Hinata would most likely be awake by now. They didn’t have any plans for today, but Komaeda was thinking of spending today resting. Maybe buying some books like they had talked about, talking about all of their plans for the rest of the year and taking a walk in the snowfall…

Well, he’d still have to ask Hinata’s opinion on the matter. With a cheerful smile playing on his lips he locked the car’s doors and started to walk towards the hotel. The snow had yet to form a solid layer on top of the ground, but undoubtedly it was already coloring the world whiter one snowflake at a time.

It was also definitely cold, and the warmth of the hotel was a pleasant change. The hotel was relatively quiet now, the breakfast having ended already an hour ago and most people probably having headed out. Even the elevator was waiting on the first floor for him, and only the quiet music accompanied Komaeda on the way.

When he finally got to the door of their hotel room, he stopped for a moment to take in a deep breath before opening the door.

“I’m back,” he said and as soon as he said that, Hinata came to meet him with a small smile on his lips.

“Welcome back,” Hinata said, and for a moment they just looked at each other, both wearing small hesitant smiles and their cheeks gradually heating up. Quickly the moment grew awkward and they broke the eye-contact, Komaeda dropping his eyes and Hinata lifting them up. “Ah, your hair is full of snow…,” Hinata said in amusement right after and Komaeda touched his hair to realize he was right.

“It’s snowing a lot, and I don’t think it’ll stop soon,” Komaeda explained as he shook the snow out of his hair. “As it is, there might be a thick layer of snow by the evening, so maybe we should take a walk then.”

“That’s okay with me. Should we go buy the books as we planned before that?” Hinata asked and Komaeda chuckled as he took his jacket and shoes off.

“I was thinking the exact same when I was walking back. There’s a small bookstore nearby, so we can walk there,” Komaeda offered and Hinata nodded.

“Sounds good to me!” he said cheerily as he walked back into the room, followed by Komaeda. “Let’s plan for a moment and go then, alright?” Hinata asked and it was Komaeda’s turn to nod. They settled by the small table in the room to think of how they should spend their time.

All that time they both had small smiles playing on their lips, the mood around them light like they were just kids planning their summer break plans, instead of being two adults thinking of the last things they wanted to do before the world would end.


 

They stopped by a café after they had bought the books. Komaeda placed the two bags under the table before seating himself. They had eventually bought a lot more books than they had originally planned for. Komaeda glanced at the clock on the wall to confirm it really was starting to get late in the afternoon: the day had passed by quickly despite the fact that they hadn’t done much.

“We really bought a bit too much, didn’t we?” Hinata said. “I wonder if I’ll even be able to read all of them. At least there’s enough variety.”

“Better too much than too little,” Komaeda said as took a sip of his coffee. The warmth immediately spread all over his body; it was still snowing a lot outside, and the radio that had been turned on at the bookstore had informed them that a lot of the trains were late, or in worst cases completely unable to run, due to the surprisingly heavy snowfall. They had been relieved that they hadn’t taken the train to go into any bigger bookstores, since all stations were packed with people trying to catch the trains that were running.

The waitress came over to take their orders, and after she left Komaeda turned to look outside the window. Luckily today wasn’t as windy as yesterday had been, so the snow wasn’t too much of a bother for walkers. Not yet, at least.

“We should probably take the books back to the hotel after this,” he said as he turned to look at Hinata. “Before going for that walk, since they’re heavy and it’d be bad if snow got into the bags.”

“You better let me carry the other bag this time,” Hinata said with a smile on his face. “We’ll get back much faster that way than to have you carry both of them again. I appreciate the effort but it’s clear as day that you’re not strong enough to carry them and move quickly at the same time.” The grin accompanied by his words was contagious, and Komaeda smiled widely as well.

“Alright, you’ve made your point…,” he said and they both laughed cheerily. Their conversation went on the same way, they talked about the books they had bought and had fun, but for some reason Komaeda felt a heavy weight on his mind the whole time, like there was something he had forgotten.

Something very, very important.


 

“Ah, you didn’t take long,” Hinata said as Komaeda walked back outside. The other had chosen to wait while Komaeda took the books into their hotel room, despite his protests that it would be cold.

“I didn’t want to keep you waiting in the cold for too long…,” he answered and Hinata sighed with exasperation and shook his head.

“I told you I won’t freeze to death during such a short time. Let’s go,” he said and Komaeda nodded, following after Hinata. He did know that in such a short time, the other would barely start to feel the cold, but mostly he just didn’t want to make the other wait alone. They began to converse again, and this time their topic went back to the movies they had seen yesterday, their plans having been talked through already. Tomorrow they were going to go check out shops and buy more clothes to last them without having to worry about washing their clothes, and after that go to the arcade again as Hinata had requested.

Komaeda couldn’t deny that he was feeling giddy and excited about their plans. They had planned them through so well that he was already waiting for tomorrow. Though, in the same time he sort of didn’t want tomorrow to arrive yet, since he wanted to enjoy today fully as well.

It was a mixed feelings of happiness, and his steps felt like they were flowing lightly despite the thick layer of snow. The snowfall had stopped for a while, but judging by the clouds it was going to continue sooner or later. The sight was beautiful all around them: the world was buried in the clean, untouched snow, but Komaeda couldn’t really focus on the sights as much as he usually would. He was driven by this odd sense of wanting to be and talk with Hinata as much as possible as… as long as they had time. There was this weird bad feeling haunting the back of his mind, like he was supposed to worry about something but he forcefully pushed it back to enjoy the moment to the fullest.

After walking for a while, they eventually found a park. The place was still completely empty, and the snow still untouched. They both stopped for a moment, and after sharing a look they both smiled and began to run all over the snowy playground. It was a moment full of childish glee: they left their footsteps everywhere, shaking the snow off the slide and trying it out only to realize they were far too old and big to properly slide down it. They didn’t speak much; it was like they both were trying their hardest to return for a moment to the childhood days when everything had been alright, and they didn’t want to break the immersion.

Eventually they settled down to build a snow castle. Their clothes were completely wet from the melted snow, and it was honestly cold to sit on the ground just gathering snow into a pile, but Komaeda just ignored it and focused on building the castle.

A peaceful silence had lingered between them for a while before Hinata broke it.

“Yesterday… yesterday you mentioned that you think your luck was the cause of your parents’ death, didn’t you?” he said hesitantly, his hands held together in his lap as he stopped building the castle. Komaeda took a break too, and nodded.

“That’s right. Is there… is something bothering you?” he asked meekly, his mind filling with worry. It might be that the other was regretting coming along with him now that he knew how dangerous it was. With his luck being the way it was.

“I… I know you didn’t tell it to me in expectation that I’d say something in return, but it just feels fair that I… tell you something as well,” Hinata said, proving Komaeda’s initial worry wrong and instead he tilted his head with a concerned look, waiting for Hinata to continue. The other just bit his lip, seemingly finding it hard to continue. When a silence prevailed between them, Komaeda smiled softly.

“I don’t think I have asked you this yet, but what’s your favorite food?” he asked, trying to give the other a bit more time to prepare himself to say what he wanted to say. Hinata seemed surprised at first, but seemed to relax a bit after that.

“I, I guess kusamochi would be it,” he said. “I also really hate sakuramochi.”

Komaeda chuckled and Hinata smiled for a small moment, before dropping his eyes to the half-finished snow castle.

“My parents are also dead, and the… the reason they died is because of me. I didn’t kill them, but it was a result of my actions, so it is still my fault,” Hinata said quietly, before lifting his eyes to look at Komaeda. Komaeda gave him a sympathetic look in return, feeling like he shouldn’t ask for more details.

“I’m sorry to hear that.” Any other words he tried to come up with sounded either cheap or hypocritical, so he didn’t say anything else but he offered his hand for Hinata to hold. The other looked at it for a few seconds, before taking up on the offer. They sat there for a moment, awkwardly holding their hands over the snow castle without saying a word, before they just smiled and resumed building the castle.

The bad feeling was stronger in the back of his mind now, like it was just a moment away from being realized, but Komaeda pushed it back. He had more than enough time to think about it later.


 

“Ah, it feels great to eat something warm after being so long in the cold!” Hinata said cheerfully before going on to eat the rest of what remained of his ramen. They had found a small ramen shop during their walk, and after spending hours outside and the snowfall coming back, they hadn’t taken long to decide to go in.

“That’s true,” Komaeda said. The food was good as well. He still had more left than Hinata did; despite having been hungry, he didn’t have a lot of appetite. He still forced himself to continue, since he didn’t want to have the other noticing that he was feeling a bit under the weather. It wasn’t probably anything serious after all, just the cold, melted snow getting to his bones.

The other finished his bowl and smiled at Komaeda, and he returned the motion. Hinata had been a lot more cheerful today than he had been all this time until now, and it was making Komaeda feel happy as well to see him relax for a moment. It made him think that he was doing something right.

Suddenly Hinata jumped forward in his seat, making Komaeda flinch in surprise.

“Ah, sorry! I just thought I saw a cat outside…,” Hinata said and Komaeda relaxed. The other could see the front entrance from his seat, so it made sense he would see stuff that Komaeda didn’t. For a moment Hinata squirmed in his seat, glancing at the door before giving in. “Do you mind if I go take a look? It feels like it’s been forever since I last saw a cat…”

Komaeda smiled.

“Yeah, I’ll finish up quickly and be there right after you,” he said and after thanking him, Hinata rushed out of the door. Komaeda stared at the bowl in front of him, poking the food with his chopsticks. Today had been a good day, even better than the one before. They had found many good books, the park had been empty and most importantly they had had good conversations going on the whole day. It was like everything was going well for them now, maybe a bit too well—

His luck had been smiling on him for a while now, Komaeda realized with shock, the bad feeling in the back of his mind emerging. If you didn’t count few cases of bad luck, like the bad movie choices yesterday, his luck had been nothing but good for a long while now. His whole mind was suddenly filled with dread: this could only mean that the bad luck had been waiting to happen, waiting until enough good luck had happened to strike back…

He didn’t understand how he had forgotten to pay attention to it, he was supposed to be used to this, an expert on the matter by now. He glanced back at the front of the store, and he couldn’t see Hinata through the window. The other’s smiling face passed briefly through his mind, and he fully realized why he had forgotten the whole matter. He jumped up from his seat quickly and rushed outside to find Hinata, the bad feeling growing ever stronger with every step he took.

The front of the store was empty, and a quick glance around didn’t provide him with any results on finding Hinata. His heart grew heavy, and he shook his head to clear his thoughts before moving. His steps felt guided as he rushed to the side of the store, like the last moments of his good luck were helping him, trying to get him back to Hinata’s side. He slowed down a bit when he walked down the side of the shop to the back alley and heard faint sounds behind the corner.

When he peered around the corner, he saw a mugger holding a knife to Hinata’s neck and saying something, and before he managed to think of anything else he pushed his hand to his pocket and grabbed the handle of the gun.

Chapter Text

The sound of his own heartbeat was almost deafening. The knife was close to his neck, the blade touching his skin slightly every time he breathed in, and he couldn’t move his hands as the other held them above his head by his wrists. Oddly enough Hinata didn’t feel as much afraid as he felt nervous: he was pretty sure that the mugger wasn’t going to murder him if he just behaved and kept calm, but having a sharp knife so close to him was enough to make anyone feel nervous. A brief flash of the time he had held a knife on Komaeda’s neck passed through his mind.

“There’s no way you don’t have any money on you,” the mugger hissed as a response to his earlier words. Hinata bit his teeth together; he shouldn’t really have chased after that cat. He hadn’t even seen it after coming out of the shop, he had just assumed it had come this way but instead he had been surprised out of nowhere.

“I’m not lying,” he said slowly and quietly, trying to avoid the blade brushing against his throat as much as possible. He felt the grip on his wrists tighten as the other leaned a bit closer, and a small wave of worry passed through his mind when the other took a better hold of the knife. “There’s nothing in my pockets.”

“You just came out of a restaurant!” The mugger seemed to be getting agitated. Hinata started to feel afraid as the blade was now held against his neck, lightly but it was still there, making breathing difficult.

“Everything I ate was paid for by my…,” Hinata said before hesitating for a brief second. This wasn’t a time to worry about the meanings of the words. “… Companion. He’s still inside eating.” His breathing was turning ragged from trying to avoid the knife, and he felt regret as he realized he had done the same to Komaeda. The other might not have cared about it, but now that he was in that position, he never wanted to make Komaeda to feel this way again.

He should throw the knife away: in a river or something, so that they both would be in completely identical standing. He didn’t want Komaeda to think he was okay with pulling the knife on him again.

He wanted them to be equal.

“Liar,” the mugger growled, but Hinata felt like the blade had lowered from his neck slightly. But before either of them managed to say anything more, a familiar voice called out to them.

“Let him go, now.” Hinata turned to look at Komaeda as relief washed over his mind, but as soon as he did his blood froze. There was a small gun in Komaeda’s hand, pointed towards the mugger who was clearly shocked. And despite having had a knife at his neck for a few minutes, only now did Hinata start to feel fear as realization washed over him. Komaeda couldn’t have just found a gun on his way to this back-alley.

All this time they had been travelling, when Hinata had thought he was safe since he had his knife, Komaeda had had a gun.

The knife slowly pulled away from his neck, but he was standing still, unable to move as the sounds around him blurred. He could see Komaeda speaking, and the mugger responding and eventually leaving but he didn’t hear any of the words. The only thing that he could think of was that the other had lied to him, had betrayed his trust. When Komaeda lowered the gun after the mugger had gone out of sight, Hinata snapped out of it and just stared at Komaeda, his whole mind full of fear and anger. The other was smiling, like he was relieved to have the mugger gone, before turning to look at Hinata.

And the smile faded from Komaeda’s lips suddenly and his eyes started to gleam with desperation.

“Are you okay…?” Komaeda asked, like he was trying to ignore the situation, like he was trying to ignore everything that had just happened and pretending to not have realized Hinata’s feelings.

“You have a gun. You have had a gun this whole time,” Hinata said shortly and Komaeda lifted the gun up a little, causing Hinata to flinch back. He knew Komaeda wasn’t going to shoot him but… but he didn’t want to be anyhow close to the gun. He didn’t want to be anywhere near guns ever again in his life, and especially he didn’t want to… to have one pointed at him. His heartbeat had quieted down, but instead of the normal calm beating it felt like his heart was barely functioning anymore, it was heavy and infrequent and it took all he could to not fall into panic.

He had to stay as calm as he could.

Komaeda noticed him flinching, and he immediately lowered the gun again.

“Hinata-kun, it’s okay. I would never do anything to hurt you,” he said softly, like he used to speak to Hinata when he was trying to calm him down or cheer him up. It had become something reassuring to Hinata, but now it felt like just faked gentleness, just lies, lies, lies.

“You had a gun!” Hinata shouted in response, feeling anger taking over his mind, like a protective coat was being laid over his fear. “You had a gun all this time! You betrayed me!” His hands were clenching into fists as he spoke, and Komaeda took a step back like he was intimidated. But he was the one who had the gun, he had no right to be scared. Hinata bit his teeth together as he tried to contain the anger, to avoid doing anything rash and have… have himself shot. He didn’t want to believe Komaeda would do it, but as long as he had that gun in his hands Hinata couldn’t take any chances.

“I had to take it, it was too dangerous!” Komaeda insisted back, a crooked smile spreading on his lips. “I can’t lose you, Hinata-kun! You are… you’re the one who gave me this chance, I couldn’t take any chances that this would be taken away. You, you are my… you’re the one who brought hope to this world, I have to protect you,” he said, his eyes filled with determination but right now it felt more like madness, like something incomprehensible. It felt like the other was slipping, becoming someone Hinata couldn’t recognize as the same Komaeda he had gotten to know.

And it was scaring him.

Shut up!” Hinata yelled before extending his shaking hand. “Give the gun to me.”

“Hinata-kun, I had to make sure I could save you in a situation like this…”

Give me the gun.” Hinata growled as he took a step towards Komaeda. The other just nodded and obediently placed the surprisingly heavy gun in Hinata’s hand. Hinata stared at the gun for a moment, his feelings a mix of disgust and fear. He didn’t want to be close to it, he didn’t want to touch it. The grip of it was familiar as he wrapped his hand around it, even if it was much smaller than any other gun he had held before. The familiarity caused nothing but discomfort to him; he had wanted these things to be gone from his life forever.

His knife had never been a threat to Komaeda. Despite his earlier thoughts, now he was just feeling anger and resentment. The other had just played with him, pretended to be completely at his mercy and probably laughed behind his back.

He bit his lip as he realized that this was entirely his own fault. He had been a fool to even think he could ever be in control of his life, that he could actually trust someone again. His hold tightened around the grip of the gun reflexively as he felt the wave of frustration wash over him.

“… Are you going to kill me now, Hinata-kun?” Komaeda asked suddenly, and Hinata turned his eyes at him in surprise. “It’s okay if you do. I’m just a hopeless piece of trash as you can see, so if I’m not any use to you and instead am a burden, I’d much rather that you kill me and use that to find your hope—”

Shut up!” Hinata cut him off before he even managed to continue. For a brief second he was almost going to point the gun at Komaeda, but he forced himself to stop. He didn’t want to do that anymore. “I thought… I thought I could trust you, but I guess I was wrong.” The words were starting to get stuck in his throat the more he spoke, and Hinata decided to not speak anymore. He didn’t want to cry over this, he had to be stronger than that. He glared at the gun for a moment, before pushing it into his pocket.

Komaeda seemed surprised, like he had expected the other option. The expression on his face was making Hinata feel a tinge of something like concern, or maybe pity was closer to it. It quickly got lost amidst all the anger that he was feeling, and he turned his back to Komaeda and started to walk back, intending to return to the hotel. Komaeda stared at his back for a moment like he was just going to let him go, before he changed his mind and ran after him. Hinata just sped up his pace, trying to leave the other behind. Komaeda kept a distance between them, but didn’t stop following.

The gun weighed heavily in Hinata’s pocket, and he bit his lip as he wished he could just throw the gun away. But he wanted that gun in someone else’s hands even less than he wanted to keep it, so he had no choice but to hold on to it. Just the thought of having it was making his heart beat faster; or maybe it was just the adrenaline rushing within his blood that was making him all jittery.

Most likely it was both. He could hear Komaeda’s footsteps behind him, the snow crunching under their feet and the sound almost echoing in his ears over the heavy silence between them. Hinata bit down on his lip as he tried to contain the feeling of wanting to turn around and punch the other. It would maybe make him feel better, but he had a lingering feeling that Komaeda wouldn’t mind it at all and… he didn’t want to see that. He wanted to punch Komaeda exactly because he wanted the other to mind. He wanted Komaeda to regret his actions, he wanted to make the other feel this same feeling of desperation and pain as he did.

The tears rushed into his eyes despite his efforts to fight them back. It didn’t feel like it had been just today when they sat in the park and built the snow castle; it didn’t feel like it had happened at all. It felt more like a dream, a small piece of paradise and freedom wrapped in the mist of fantasy.

“… Fuck you,” Hinata said aloud as the first tear rolled down his cheek, and he could hear Komaeda taking a few faster steps to catch up with him.

“If you feel like it would ease your feelings, you can punch me,” Komaeda said, his tone so light and accepting that Hinata almost did hit him. But he forced himself to keep walking, biting his lip and trying to make sure Komaeda wouldn’t see that he was crying. The tears were burning hot against his chilled cheeks, but they quickly cooled off in the air.

“Or if you don’t want to dirty your hands, we can hire people to beat me up. Or if you want to, I can just kill myself. Of course, then I wouldn’t be able to be of use to you anymore but I’m sure someone like me would be more of use that way,” Komaeda continued talking when Hinata didn’t answer. Hinata turned his head just enough to catch a glimpse of his face, and immediately he turned away as chills ran down his spine. The other had a smile on his face: there wasn’t even a tiny speck of remorse, instead his eyes were glinting with expectation. Like he was waiting with interest for the decision Hinata would come to.

And Hinata didn’t say anything. He wasn’t going to agree to any of those plans: none of those would make him feel better. If anything, he wanted an apology and remorse, an understandable explanation for Komaeda’s actions. Not... not revenge or punishment.

But the other didn’t seem to be sorry for his actions. He did realize Hinata was angry, and was trying to soothe that feeling but he didn’t even seem to realize that what he had done was bad. He was just following along and trying to think of ways how to make Hinata happy, and not what he should do. Hinata could already see the hotel and he quickened his pace just a little.

“If you want to ignore me, that’s okay too. Of course, preferably I’d like to hear what you want me to do as well, so I can do my best to make this easier for you to do—” Komaeda began to babble again in almost normal tone, like he was talking about the weather. The only thing Hinata noticed was that his voice was just a little bit strained, like he was struggling to come up with his words. Hinata didn’t answer him, didn’t really even listen to him, and continued walking until they reached the hotel yard. Then Hinata stopped and turned to look at Komaeda, surprisingly shutting him up as he prepared to listen carefully.

“Give me your key to the room,” Hinata said curtly as he extended his hand. “I don’t want to be in the same room as you.” For a split second, Komaeda looked hurt before a smile spread to his lips and he tilted his head.

“Hinata-kun, it’s really okay, I’m not dangerous. I want just want to keep you safe so I’m not going to hurt you, I never would,” he said softly, making Hinata’s heart twinge with feelings of longing for the time when Komaeda had calmed him down during his panic attack, using the same tone of voice. But these feelings were unneeded, the safety he had felt back then had been fake when even in that situation, Komaeda had had the gun right in his pocket.

“How can I trust your words when you already did that and you’re not even sorry? Just give me the damn key, and stay out of the hotel!” he growled as he stared at his own hand, afraid to look at Komaeda in fear that he’d crumble under the other’s eyes. To his relief, Komaeda silently took the key out of his pocket and placed it on Hinata’s hand. Quickly he closed his fist around it, like he was afraid the other would snatch it back, and turned around to towards the small set of stairs.

“Hinata-kun, I—!” Komaeda said suddenly just as he was about to walk in and he stopped for a second, but when there was no continuation he just opened the door and let it close it after him, without looking back at the other.

He wanted to get it into his head that Komaeda wasn’t to be trusted before he saw the other again.


 

Hinata slammed the door closed behind him as he walked into the hotel room. He didn’t bother putting his jacket into the hanger and instead dropped everything on the floor after retrieving the gun from his pocket. After taking the wet coat off he realized that he was freezing, and for a moment he thought about Komaeda who he had left outside. He shook his head immediately though and headed towards his bed, placing the gun on the small table next to it and dropping to the bed to lay on his back.

The other would find some place to stay, he didn’t have to worry about it. If one of them had that power to move freely it was Komaeda, since he had the money and connections.

And apparently the control over the situation too. Hinata rolled over to his side to look at the gun for a moment, before nausea took over him and he rolled to the other side. Back when he had been following her, she had often held a gun in her hands, and on occasions… she had forced him to handle them too. She had taught him how to use guns, ‘just in case’ being her reasoning.

Now that he knew the real reason, just the thought of it made him shiver. Getting away from her should have meant getting away from the guns too, but now it felt like her presence was haunting him, refusing to let him leave and be free.

He quickly got up from the bed and took the gun, taking it as far away from his bed as he could and burying it under the clothes he had worn yesterday. He knew that out of his sight didn’t mean it would be out of his mind, but he wanted to try.

At least it wouldn’t be right there next to him, sitting there and waiting to be used…

Hinata buried himself under his blanket and closed his eyes as the tears began to roll.

Chapter Text

A soft clack carried its way to Komaeda’s ears as the door to the hotel closed. For a moment he just stood there, staring at Hinata’s retreating back through the glass doors, until he realized he was gathering quite a lot of snow standing out here like this. Hesitantly he took a few steps to sit on the small stairwell to get under a shelter at least, trying to take a spot as far out of the way as he could and huddling against the pillar.

Everything had gone wrong. There was the absence of the usual weight in his pocket, there was snow stuck all over his hair and the worst part was that he had ruined everything for Hinata. He… should have known it would happen eventually, his luck was bound to ruin everything but…

His luck had been what had brought that mugger into their day. But his own decisions had brought the gun, he was what had ruined everything between them. He realized that, but he didn’t feel like he was wrong to have taken that gun with him. It had been the right decision; without it Hinata might have gotten injured. And he couldn’t have told him about it either, because Hinata wouldn’t have accepted his help at all back then.

He wasn’t wrong, but his heart felt heavy and he tried to lean closer to the pillar as shivers of cold ran down his body. He hadn’t even noticed how wet his jacket was, probably it had been this wet the whole day from all the snow that had gathered and melted throughout the time they had spent outside today.

… It was almost night. It had been late evening when they had been in the restaurant. The day had passed by so quickly, but it also felt like it had been such a long time since they had been having fun in the restaurant, like the past half an hour had lasted forever.

Komaeda rubbed his hands together to get some warmth; he wasn’t sure what he was going to do now. Hinata had told him not to enter the hotel, so he couldn’t do that. He could of course go find some other place to stay the night in, since Hinata hadn’t taken the car keys away from him, but there was the risk that Hinata would disappear during the night without giving Komaeda a chance to make it up to him. It wouldn’t be safe for Hinata to continue alone, not at least without money and a proper plan on what trains to use and which hotels to stay the night in and…

He’d just have to stay here for the whole night. If it got too cold, he could probably take refuge in the car for a moment. Though he should probably avoid that: there was no way to know when Hinata would walk out of the hotel, and he didn’t want to take the chance of missing him.

A shiver ran through his body and he sighed. He should have taken his luck into account, instead of getting his head all messed up with stupid thoughts. If he was going to be just a disappointment, he shouldn’t even dream about having the right to hold any sort of feelings for Hinata besides admiration. He should probably have done something differently at some point of the way, to let Hinata know there was a gun for him to use if needed…

But no matter how much he thought, Komaeda couldn’t help but feel like there was no such moment. It’s not like any other moment would have been any different: if anything today should have been the best, right? Instead of bringing it up on a good day when they had been enjoying themselves and Hinata had been cheery, it was much better to use it when it was actually needed to save Hinata.

It… it made sense in his head but for some reason he kept feeling uneasy, the feeling of uncertainty flushing over him. He thought he had done everything right for Hinata, he had cheered him up when he needed it, he hadn’t bothered him with questions, he had bought everything needed… and he had protected him from the mugger.

And still he felt like he had done something wrong. He had intended to do everything he could to protect Hinata and to give him everything needed for his hope, but it seemed like it all of it had been in vain. Somehow he had ended up being the one who had hurt Hinata. He felt compelled to blame his luck for it; it was always to blame whenever someone around him had been hurt, but this time he had a feeling that wasn’t the case.

Hinata’s words echoed in his mind, how he thought Komaeda had betrayed him. Komaeda didn’t understand how he had betrayed the other, but from Hinata’s words he did realize it was his fault.

But he couldn’t understand it. Maybe Hinata had realized how horrible of a person he was, and that was why he was angry since he felt Komaeda had lied about his own self.

He probably deserved to be out here in the cold, and that thought brought some ease to his mind. Perhaps this would bring some peace to Hinata’s anger; if that was the case, he’d spend the entire night here by the door. Komaeda glanced at the door and felt a small thought forming in his mind, a wish to just enter the hotel and go to the other’s side. Explain his thoughts, apologize for whatever he had done to hurt Hinata and… hug him again. The thought of the warm hug was enough to make him feel pained as he tore his eyes away from the door, letting out a sigh again.

“Hinata-kun…,” he whispered quietly as he hugged his legs for warmth, burying his face against his knees. “I’m sorry for being like this…”

But unlike the silence he had expected as an answer, he heard light footsteps approaching instead. At first he thought it was just someone going into the hotel, but after listening to the snow crunching a bit more closely, he realized this person was walking towards him and he turned to look. A beautiful young lady, just about his age, was looking at him with a sympathetic look. She had a bow on her blonde hair and really expensive-looking clothes, and she looked like a foreigner. At the bottom of the stairs Komaeda saw a man dressed in a suit who looked like a generic bodyguard from an action movie. She seemed to be an important person.

“Excuse me mister, is everything alright?” she asked gently. Komaeda realized that he must look pathetic to her eyes: his hair was still covered in the snow he hadn’t bothered to brush away and now that he stopped to think about it, his nose was running a bit too and his face was all cold. The temperature had really dropped from the day, and it would probably drop more during the night.

He flashed a smile at her.

“Yes, I’m alright,” he tried to say cheerfully, but she didn’t seem convinced. Komaeda flinched as she began to wipe away the snow from his hair while talking.

“It’s really cold outside, I would not recommend staying outside. Would you like to join me for a cup of warm tea?” She seemed to notice Komaeda’s discomfort after saying that, and stopped wiping away the snow.

“Thank you for the kind offer, but I have to refuse. I was told to stay out of the hotel by my… companion, so I’m waiting for him to come back,” Komaeda said as he started to brush the snow away from his hair. “It’s nothing to worry about, just a little punishment game we’re playing.” Against his expectations, the woman’s eyes lit up with excitement and she clapped her hands together.

“Ooh, a punishment game, I’ve seen it many times in manga! I apologize for bothering you, then,” she said cheerfully, like she had understood completely what Komaeda had meant. He wasn’t entirely sure her picture of the situation was correct, but since it seemed like she would leave him be, he wasn’t going to correct her. “Hopefully you won’t catch a cold though… Are you sure you wouldn’t want me to bring anything warm to you?” she asked, and Komaeda shook his head as he gave her a polite smile.

“Thank you, but there’s no need,” Komaeda said. She didn’t seem to mind as she just nodded and after exchanging goodbyes, she walked into the hotel with her bodyguard. Komaeda sighed in relief after she was gone: she hadn’t really been anyhow too bothersome or annoying, but Komaeda found it hard to react when people treated him kindly like that and worried about him. It felt like a waste of energy to worry about someone like him, who had always been barely hanging onto his life anyways.

He touched his hair absentmindedly, twisting it between his fingers. The color had never returned to his hair, not even after the successful operation, and so only the tips of his hair had any pigment to them. When he had been younger he had thought about dyeing it black, but he had eventually decided against it. It felt like it would have been a bit more interesting had there been someone to share the experience with, a friend who would have noticed the difference.

A friend… Komaeda glanced again at the door. Perhaps he had already ruined the chance to make his first friend, with his own shortcomings and hoping for something more than Hinata was ready to give him.

Not even twenty minutes had passed – or at least, he presumed so since he couldn’t really check the time – when the door of the hotel opened and a familiar-looking person walked out. It was the bodyguard of that young lady, and he seemed to be holding a thermos bottle in his hands. He didn’t really give Komaeda a chance to protest: he just walked over, pushed the bottle in his hands and walked away before Komaeda could even say that he didn’t need it.

Just holding it was making Komaeda feel warmer, and the delicious smell of tea wafted to his nose. He briefly thought about putting it away, feeling like he didn’t deserve it, but the smell was irresistible. When he took the first gulp of the tea the warmth spread immediately to his whole body, wiping away the cold from his bones and making his whole body shiver from relief.

The warmth felt so gentle that it brought tears into his eyes.


 

Komaeda flinched awake from the half-sleep state he had been in when the door to the hotel opened and someone walked outside. He presumed it was already morning since there were so many people passing by, unlike the night when he had been sitting here for hours with nothing else as company but his thoughts. For the past hour or so he had barely been able to keep himself awake, the tiredness eventually catching up to him. He didn’t really feel the cold much anymore; he had finished the tea a long while ago and while he occasionally had walked around to keep himself warm, right now he was just struggling to not fall asleep. At least the snow had stopped falling early in the night.

He glanced at the young man who had walked out of the door. The smell of food had floated to him when the door had opened, so he presumed the breakfast was open now. That’d mean it was about seven in the morning…

Hinata might be waking up right now. Komaeda felt his heart ache as he thought about the other getting up from the bed and brushing his teeth like every morning…

His head hurt. It had been hurting for a while now, but for some reason he felt it more now that he had smelled the food and felt the warm blow of air coming from the inside. He felt like he was sweating as well, but he was too tired to actually be sure if it was his imagination or not. It was still cold outside though so most likely he was imagining it.

He jumped in his place again when he caught himself about to fall asleep. He tried to play with the thermos bottle to keep his mind occupied, but it wasn’t helping much. His hands were numb inside the gloves, making it weird to even hold the bottle.

“… What are you doing here?” Komaeda suddenly heard a voice say, and he jumped up to look at Hinata who was glaring at him. For a moment Komaeda thought he looked a bit worried… but that couldn’t be possible. There was no way Hinata would worry about him after yesterday.

“You told me to stay outside of the hotel, Hinata-kun, so I waited here,” Komaeda explained, trying to sound as cheerful as usual but his voice came out weak and hoarse… But that didn’t matter now, he wanted to make sure what Hinata was planning on doing. “Did you sleep well?”

“Y-you… Didn’t you go into another hotel for the night?” Hinata ignored his question altogether, a shocked look on his face.

“I stayed the whole night here, waiting for you. I wouldn’t want you to leave without me knowing, since it’s not easy to travel without money I wanted to be able to help you if you wanted to leave me behind. If I went anywhere else, I might have missed you so I waited here. I… wanted to make sure I’d see you before you left,” he explained with a smile, but for some reason Hinata didn’t seem to understand the situation any better.

“You… waited to help me?” Hinata asked, and Komaeda nodded. His head hurt a lot more now that he was standing up and he felt so cold that shivers kept running through his body. His thoughts were getting messed up as well, and now that he actually had to spoke it was a lot harder to actually bring together his thoughts. Hinata seemed like was about to say something, but then he seemed to notice the thermos bottle Komaeda was still holding. “… Where did you get that, then?”

“…” Komaeda stared at Hinata in silence, without saying anything. He should just explain: he had gotten it from the bodyguard of the young woman he had met last night. But he was afraid that Hinata wouldn’t believe him. Hinata wouldn’t know that he had met her, and Komaeda didn’t want to make him any angrier by sounding like he was lying. But then again he didn’t want to actually lie and tell him something else, and it felt like his brain was boiling. He couldn’t think of anything to say.

When he didn’t say anything, Hinata just sighed in annoyance.

“At least say straight out that you went to get it from somewhere, instead of saying shit like you waited here the whole time,” he said coldly, and Komaeda shook his head as he tried to form a sentence in his head, but nothing came up. Instead he started to feel faint, and he tried to close his eyes to get himself together. Maybe he had stood up too quickly, because he was feeling horrible and now Hinata thought he was a liar. But if he had thought of him as a traitor anyways, maybe it would have been better to say anything.

His thoughts were turning to mush, and he just took few steps closer to Hinata, feeling like he should just somehow make the other stay there until he managed to gather up his words. But instead he stumbled on his feet, and Hinata just barely managed to catch him before he would have smacked to the ground.

Komaeda could feel Hinata’s hand against his forehead soon after. It felt so cool that he couldn’t help but sigh and close his eyes. He was so tired and being so close to Hinata was making him feel even sleepier.

“Holy shit, you’re burning hot...,” Hinata said before he clicked his tongue. Komaeda could feel Hinata lifting him up and supporting him, before starting to walk towards the hotel.

“Hinata-kun?” Komaeda asked and the other clicked his tongue again.

“I’m not going to take the responsibility of leaving you here and you dying out of fever. Just don’t try to tell your lies to me,” Hinata said harshly, like he was trying to make sure Komaeda knew he had not been forgiven. Komaeda just chuckled faintly. He really was hated now, apparently.

Not that it should have been a surprise.

Chapter Text

Hinata crawled out from under the covers in the morning after finally gathering his courage to do so. For the most part he hadn’t slept through the night, anxiety and fear keeping him awake the whole time. Occasionally he had thought about getting up, sometimes to get rid of the gun and sometimes because he was worried about Komaeda. But he didn’t want to touch the gun if he didn’t have to, and Komaeda… he couldn’t trust him even if he still found himself wanting to.

Both of them were dangerous, the gun and Komaeda, and he shouldn’t get involved with either of them. Maybe he should just leave, find another way to head to the north and just forget about this. It felt a lot safer than to be with Komaeda and his lies. There was no knowing what else he was hiding from him.

He had to almost drag his feet to walk into the bathroom while trying his best to not look at the pile of clothes hiding the gun. The anxiety was twirling in his stomach, and as soon as he closed the bathroom door behind him, he stumbled to the toilet seat and threw up all the stress that had been gathering inside him. Tears began to roll from his eyes as well, like they were in sync, and Hinata briefly wondered how he even had any tears left.

After he was done, he sat on the bathroom floor for a while. He wasn’t really sure what he should do now. It felt absurd to just continue like any other morning until now, but he didn’t really know what else he should do.

He stood up from the floor and walked over to the sink to wash his face and brush his teeth. His face looked horrible in the mirror; it’d be clear to anyone that he had not slept. Not even the cold water and toothbrush made him look any better. His stomach growled and he checked the time from the phone. Breakfast had started a short while ago, so he should probably go eat…

He lowered his eyes; just thinking about going to eat reminded him of Komaeda. For a moment he wondered where the other had gone after they had departed. Thankfully Komaeda hadn’t come to the hotel room like Hinata had told him, but now Hinata was feeling nervous about what the other had done during the night. If the other had gotten another gun from somewhere or devised some other plan to gain control over Hinata again, Hinata would…

… There just had to be no ‘would’. He couldn’t get involved with Komaeda again, it was way too risky. There was no knowing what else he had left untold, what other secrets he had been harboring, and Hinata had to prioritize his own safety.

Even if Komaeda might not necessarily have straight-out lied to him, he still had taken the gun and not told about it to Hinata, knowing certainly that Hinata would have either taken the  gun or told him to leave it behind…

Hinata shook his head as he walked to the door to go get breakfast. There was no reason to think about this anymore; he just had to come up with a plan what he’d do now that he was alone again.

The hotel was buzzing with life like every morning, and it felt bizarre to walk through the corridors where everything was the same outside while he felt like a different person. There were people waiting for the elevator when he got there, and he tried to seem as small as possible to avoid catching their attention. He was pretty sure that they wouldn’t care about him, so it came as a surprise to him when he heard a woman’s voice exclaim loudly.

“Hey, you wouldn’t happen to be Hinata-kun?” the person asked, and Hinata turned to look at her, his heart thumping million miles a second as he stressed over whether he had been recognized. The young woman however just smiled at him cheerfully and took a few steps closer.

“W-what is it?” Hinata asked nervously. Her Japanese sounded perfect despite looking like a foreigner… She clasped her hands together in response to his words.

“Oh, so I recognized you correctly! I thought I saw you walking around with the white-haired young man the other day,” she continued, and Hinata flinched, turning his eyes to the elevator as the doors opened. They both walked in, accompanied by the two men in suits that she had been with. Hinata avoided her gaze, like that was somehow going to make Komaeda disappear from his thoughts.

“… What about it?”

“Ah, this might not be my business, but I talked with your friend last night in front of the hotel, and he told me he was planning on staying there until you went to get him. I was just wondering how he is doing,” she said, clearly not put off by Hinata’s bluntness. Hinata took a moment to register her words, and as soon as he did he turned to look at her with shock.

“Wait, are you saying he’s outside?” he asked as he felt his heartbeat quickening again. It couldn’t be. Not even Komaeda would stay the night outside just waiting for him, this must be some weird lie again…

She seemed genuinely surprised by his answer.

“Yes, he was sitting on the stairs last night when I returned to the hotel, and told me you were playing a game of sorts. Have you still not gone to get him…?” she asked slowly, as their elevator reached the bottom floor and they walked out. Hinata shook his head as his face went pale. The snow had been falling for most of the night, and it was freezing cold outside. The worry took over his mind instantly, brushing over the small thought trying to tell him that he should just leave Komaeda be and that the other deserved to sit in the cold.

“I’ll, uh… I’m sorry,” Hinata said nervously to the blonde lady, who managed to just tilt her head before Hinata was already walking away to the hotel’s front doors. It felt like a long way to walk; his mind was burning with concern as he thought about the other sitting in the cold for the whole night… Just because he had told him to stay out. Despite everything that had happened, Komaeda had still decided to wait for him and…

Hinata bit his lip as he slowly opened the front door of the hotel. He saw Komaeda immediately: sitting on the stairs, as far away from being in the way as he could be. His cheeks and nose were so red against his pale skin that it looked almost unhealthy. In fact, his nose seemed to be running as well and his complexion was slightly worse than it normally was. Hinata bit his lip as he hesitated for a moment, the image of Komaeda holding the gun taking over his thoughts.

Komaeda suddenly jolted in his place, like he had snapped awake from his thoughts, before starting to play with something in his hands. Hinata bit his lip as he took a few steps closer.

“… What are you doing here?” he said curtly, his emotions being a mess as he simultaneously wanted to get away from here and talk more to make sure Komaeda was alright. In reaction to his voice, Komaeda jumped up from the stairs and turned to look at him, his expression a mix of desperation and excitement.

“You told me to stay outside of the hotel, Hinata-kun, so I waited here,” he said like there was nothing wrong with that. Hinata felt his mind twist from the fear of this side of Komaeda, the side he just couldn’t understand. “Did you sleep well?” Komaeda’s voice was rough and barely audible, but he still talked like everything was all fine and great.

“Y-you… Didn’t you go into another hotel for the night?” Hinata asked slowly, not really paying attention to what Komaeda was saying. It was freezing cold outside, especially so now that he didn’t have his jacket with him.

“I stayed the whole night here, waiting for you. I wouldn’t want you to leave without me knowing, since it’s not easy to travel without money I wanted to be able to help you if you wanted to leave me behind. If I went anywhere else, I might have missed you so I waited here. I… wanted to make sure I’d see you before you left,” Komaeda explained with a smile on his lips; it was almost bizarre to Hinata that the other could smile like that in this situation, and it was distracting him from comprehending what the other was even saying.

“You… waited to help me?” he asked slowly as he was beginning to piece together what the other was telling him. Komaeda nodded as an answer, and for a moment Hinata just looked at him in silence. If the other really had been that desperate to talk to him, maybe he had actually regretted yesterday and… he shouldn’t even think about it, but maybe there was a tiny bit of a reason to trust Komaeda still. Just as Hinata was about to say more the other seemed to shiver, and that was when Hinata noticed the thermos bottle in his hand. He hadn’t seen it before, and even less had he seen Komaeda have it last night.

“… Where did you get that, then?” he asked as he looked at the bottle. It was entirely possible that the lady earlier had given it to Komaeda, since she said they had talked for a moment, so if Komaeda would just say that Hinata decided he would believe him, even though he still found it hard to believe the other had been here the whole night. He felt his heart squeeze as he waited for the other to answer.

“…,” Komaeda just stared at him in silence, without saying anything. Hinata felt disappointment gush through his mind as he sighed. At least Komaeda hadn’t been here the whole night in the cold, but he had lied to him again. There was no other reason why he wouldn’t just tell him where he got the bottle other than to keep up a lie, to pretend he was that devoted to help him.

“At least say straight out that you went to get it from somewhere, instead of saying shit like you waited here the whole time,” Hinata said coldly as he lowered his eyes to the ground. He shouldn’t have expected anything. It was good that Komaeda had at least been somewhere warm at some point, and hadn’t actually almost frozen himself to death. This was the better outcome, but Hinata couldn’t stop himself from feeling disappointed.

Komaeda shook his head desperately as an answer for almost abnormally long, like he had gotten stuck on shaking his head. But he still didn’t say anything, and Hinata glanced back at the hotel; maybe he should just go back inside and eat, since there was no reason for him to worry about the other anymore…

Before he could step away, Komaeda took a few stumbling steps towards him and fell. Luckily he managed to catch the other before he fell down, and immediately he realized that even though Komaeda’s jacket was freezing cold, there was a heat radiating from Komaeda. He lifted his hand to touch Komaeda’s forehead, and he almost reflexively pulled his hand back.

 “Holy shit, you’re burning hot...,” he mumbled quietly. There was no way he could leave Komaeda here now, not with this kind of fever. He clicked his tongue as he began to prop Komaeda’s body up, to be able to support him as they began to walk towards the hotel.

“Hinata-kun?” Komaeda’s voice was weak and sounded slightly cloudy, like he was barely getting his words out, and Hinata clicked his tongue again. He had to get Komaeda under a blanket as soon as possible, and then… he didn’t even know what else to do. He glanced back at the spot Komaeda had been sitting on before he opened the door to the hotel.

“I’m not going to take the responsibility of leaving you here and you dying of fever. Just don’t try to tell your lies to me,” he said absently as he kept trying to remember what he was supposed to do for people with high fever.

He had no idea.


 

When they finally entered the room, Hinata was exhausted. With his last bits of strength he carried Komaeda to the bed and dropped him to sit there, before he realized Komaeda was still wearing shoes and a jacket. Komaeda seemed to realize this as well as he began to take them off. When he was done, he tried to get up from the bed to take them away but Hinata pushed him back with a growl.

“Don’t get up from there,” he said as he took the jacket and the shoes himself.

“You don’t have to worry, Hinata-kun,” Komaeda said, his voice sounding like it was halfway gone already, and Hinata stopped and looked at him to tell him that there was no way he was okay, when Komaeda continued. “I’m not going to take the gun back.” Hinata felt his heart drop.

“Of course, you won’t even fucking touch it!” he yelled instantly and Komaeda flinched in surprise, and even though he tried to pretend that hadn’t happened, Hinata felt regretful for raising his voice since the other seemed to have a headache. “Get under the covers already,” he said as he went to throw the jacket and the shoes on the shoe rack without really caring about putting them away properly. He didn’t want to leave Komaeda alone with the gun, so he rushed back to the other right after. Komaeda had already pulled the covers on himself, and Hinata took the blanket from his bed to throw on Komaeda as well.

“Ah, Hinata-kun, you shouldn’t let a lowly being like myself touch your blanket, I would not want you to catch my disease and…,” Komaeda started to protest and Hinata proceeded to throw the blanket on his face to shut him up. It worked only for a brief moment as Komaeda pulled it down as he got up to sit. “That was a bit rude, don’t you think? I was in the middle of my sentence,” he said in a whiny tone and Hinata just shot him a glare.

“You were talking about useless shit, I don’t care to listen to that. Just use the damn thing,” he said and he began to pace around the room restlessly as he thought what to do. He had kind of forgotten about his hunger, but now that he had stopped he remembered it again. He wasn’t sure if Komaeda had eaten during the night while getting the thermos bottle from wherever, but it was pretty likely that he hadn’t eaten in a while too.

He glanced at Komaeda, who was sitting up in the bed and staring at the blanket. Hinata groaned as he walked over to him and began to forcibly push him under the covers, gaining a surprised whine in response from Komaeda who just fell over on his back like a ragdoll. Hinata frowned the entire time as he laid both of their blankets over Komaeda who was still trying to resist in a very weak attempt. When Hinata was done, he pushed his hand on Komaeda’s forehead again to check his temperature, and for some reason that made Komaeda stop moving completely, just lying there completely still like he was nervous.

His forehead was still burning hot, and Hinata pulled his hand away soon. It might be even warmer than it had been earlier, and that was worrying Hinata a bit… Komaeda was looking away from him, his lips slightly pursed, and Hinata sighed. He should probably get something to eat for both of them.

“How… how do I call room service?” he asked and Komaeda turned to look at him slowly, though he seemed to be avoiding eye contact. His whole face was red from the fever and his nose was running, and Hinata couldn’t help but feel pity for him. Komaeda looked miserable.

“There’s a phone next to the door…,” Komaeda said, his voice raspy and Hinata nodded. He… it wasn’t that he was going to forgive Komaeda or trust him again, but the other was in horrible condition and it… it was partially his fault. And despite everything else, he probably did owe Komaeda for everything until now. He was just going to help him get over this sickness, and then he was going to leave. That way he could leave with good conscience.

He glanced at Komaeda once more; his eyes seemed to be hazy and his breathing was unsteady because of his nose getting stuffed. Hinata felt his heart squeeze just slightly and he turned his back to him and walked to the door.

Chapter Text

Komaeda slowly woke up from his sleep when he felt his nose getting too stuffed to breathe properly. He opened his eyes and tried to look for Hinata; the other wasn’t anywhere to be seen from this perspective, and he slowly sat up to see Hinata sitting by the table, doing something with the phone. Komaeda felt his stomach grumble silently from hunger, and Hinata seemed to notice that too.

“What’re you doing awake?” he asked quickly, putting down the phone and walking over to the bed. “You don’t need to be awake.” Komaeda followed Hinata with his eyes slowly as his thoughts were a bit hazy. He wasn’t really sure how long he had slept, but he remembered falling asleep right after eating. He gave the best smile he could do to Hinata.

“I’m sorry I’m being a bother and being awake…,” he said. He had to stop to think for a moment why he even woke up, his thoughts feeling like they were clogged up completely… like his nose. “I couldn’t breathe properly so I woke up.” Hinata gave him an annoyed look as he walked back to the table. Komaeda followed him with his eyes and saw that the table was filled with things that looked like medicine and other stuff from an apothecary. Hinata took a box of tissues from the midst of all that and came back.

“Here, use these,” he said curtly as he threw the box on Komaeda’s lap.

“Thank you, Hinata-kun…,” Komaeda said, his throat hurting from speaking already. He took the box and tried to open it, but his hands kept trembling too much to get the box open. He glanced at Hinata, trying to hide the feeling of helplessness. The other seemed to notice it anyways and with a groan took the box back from him. Komaeda stared at it while Hinata was opening it, and he realized his head was aching even more now than earlier.

I shouldn’t have woken up, he thought to himself as Hinata handed the opened box back to him. He took a tissue out and managed to somehow blow his nose despite his hands still shaking. Hinata stood by the bed and looked at him with a frown on his face. Komaeda glanced at him with an asking look, and Hinata turned his eyes to the table in response.

“I bought medicine, you have to take it,” he said as he stomped to the table. Komaeda nodded slowly to avoid moving his head too much. It still felt like it was hard to breathe, but he didn’t want to blow his nose again in fear that he’d annoy Hinata. The other came back with two different packets of medicine and a bottle of water. In the middle of his cloudy thoughts Komaeda wondered briefly where the other had gotten all this stuff from.

He decided to ask it out loud.

“Huh? Ah, the young woman who told me you were outside helped me,” Hinata replied as he opened the two boxes of medicine and took two pills out of them. “She gave me a lot of stuff but I don’t know how to use them. She said that you should take one of both of these three times during the day though.”

“A young woman…?” Komaeda asked slowly as he felt his thoughts somehow tugging at the memory, like there was something important he should say about this… Hinata gave the two pills to him and the opened water bottle.

“The one you apparently talked to last night,” Hinata said while Komaeda swallowed the pills. For a moment the cogs kept running slowly in Komaeda’s mind before he remembered.

“She was,” he said quickly, before a coughing fit took over him. “She was the one who gave the thermos to me. I didn’t lie, Hinata-kun. She gave it to me, I didn’t get it from anywhere.” He felt his voice running dry as he desperately tried to convince the other after recovering from the coughing fit. But Hinata just glared at him in disbelief, making Komaeda’s heart sink.

“If that was true, then you would have said it earlier,” Hinata said coldly as he walked back to the table. “Finish that bottle and use the toilet before you go back to sleep.” Komaeda nodded obediently as he hung his head. He shouldn’t probably have hoped for Hinata to believe him, there was no way something like that would happen… For a moment the world went blurry in his eyes, and he shook his head before taking a gulp of the water. It was refreshing to have something to drink, especially when it felt like his entire body was covered in sweat and everything was a blur of feeling cold and feeling hot at the same time.

He stared at the water bottle for a moment as regret filled his mind. He should have been better, he shouldn’t be just lying here and forcing Hinata to take care of him. It’d be so much better for the other to just get rid of him, and he knew it was just his own selfish wish to have the other forgive him and believe in him again. Best thing he could do for Hinata right now was to let him leave, but there were still things he had to do before that…

He took another sip of the water as his thoughts were starting to get muddy again. He had to think everything through for Hinata, so that the other could leave with a good plan in mind. He looked at Hinata for a moment, the other using the phone again, and while he also wanted to call the other’s name he also realized he had to do this. His plan had been to be as useful to Hinata as he could be, and right now he was the one being the hindrance to everything.

He took another gulp of the water. He knew what he had to do, now the only thing he had to do was to plan everything he could still do for Hinata.

Shivers ran through his body suddenly and for a brief second the headache hurt like a knife had been pushed into his head, interrupting his thoughts. He just had to try and remember everything.


 

The next time he woke up, he jumped to sit up in his bed, his heart beating a million miles a second. Traces of his dream still haunted him, the pictures of the plane accident, the figure of his dog lying dead beside him, and the young boy who had hugged him and told him it was all okay. Sweat dripped from his face to the blanket next to the wet towel that had dropped from his forehead, and he frantically looked around the room to find Hinata.

“Hinata-kun? Where are you?” he called frantically in a faint voice as he slowly realized the room was empty. Maybe the other had left already; it was completely plausible. Komaeda felt his heartbeat keep thundering on as he realized there was still something he had been supposed to tell Hinata, but he couldn’t even remember what it was. He called Hinata’s name over and over again, feeling like the other would appear if he just kept calling him.

He grabbed the blanket on a tight hold within his fists as his hands began to shake. This was bad, he couldn’t let Hinata leave without that… important thing…

Tears of frustration came to his eyes as he felt his heart burn with the feeling of failure. He had to remember and he had to get Hinata back somehow. If the other had left then he’d just have to find a way to move time temporarily back to yesterday and tell Hinata what he had to.

He shivered from the cold despite feeling a sweltering heat around his body. It was hard to gather his thoughts together, the heat bothering him from focusing and the dream still trying to remind him of itself.

Komaeda heard the door click open.

“Hinata-kun? Is it you?” he asked instantly, and when the other walked into view he smiled as his vision swayed slightly. Hinata frowned at him, before walking over to the bed and taking the towel from his lap.

“You should be asleep. I checked your temperature when you were sleeping and it was over 39 degrees of Celsius. Any higher and I’ll throw you into a hospital,” Hinata said as he threw the towel on the table before taking another one right next to it.

“Y-you didn’t leave…,” Komaeda said slowly, his throat hurting from speaking. Hinata just sighed as he walked into the bathroom. Komaeda could hear the tap running for a moment before Hinata returned to the room. The words began to spill from his mouth before he even realized what he was about to say. “You should have left, there’s no point in taking care of a piece of trash like me. I’m sure you would have been able to achieve the hope you are capable of if you had left…”

Once again Komaeda got cut off as Hinata sat by the edge of the bed to push him back to lying down. There wasn’t any strength left in his body, so Komaeda fell over immediately and right after he felt something cold and wet being placed on his forehead. Hinata glared at him with an annoyed look while pulling the blanket back up to cover him. When he was done, Hinata took the two boxes of medicine from the nightstand and a water bottle.

Komaeda followed Hinata with his eyes as the other began to take the pills out. His vision was slightly blurry, but for some reason the sight of the other was so beautiful to him.

“… Why didn’t you leave? There’s no reason for you to waste your time with someone like me…,” Komaeda asked quietly, expecting Hinata to glare at him again. But instead, the other stopped still, staring at the two pills and the water bottle in his hands like he was wondering the same question.

“It’d be troublesome for me if you died out of this,” Hinata answered eventually as he turned to look at Komaeda, a tired look in his eyes. “Lift your head up for a moment.” Komaeda did as he was told, and Hinata gently put the first pill into his mouth before bringing the water bottle to his lips. They repeated the act for the next pill and Hinata placed the water bottle back on the nightstand.

Komaeda glanced at the bottle wondering if Hinata wasn’t going to close it, before the other spoke.

“Drink that again before going back to sleep, if you’re going to.” Hinata walked back to the table and seated himself on the chair. Komaeda placed his head back on the pillow as he watched the other. His head was a bit clearer now that he was calmer. The dream was still playing in the back of his thoughts, the backs of his parents stuck in his sight. He couldn’t remember who had been with him the whole time though, who had been the one to hold his hand the entire time.

There was still something he had to remember, but he couldn’t get his thoughts together.

Chapter Text

Hinata gritted his teeth as he wrung out the towel a bit, before walking to Komaeda and putting it on his forehead. Komaeda was breathing heavily despite being asleep, occasionally coughing or mumbling incomprehensibly. Sometimes he’d sound like he was about to choke up as his throat got stuck up, but it’d always pass after the other coughed. A few times he hadn’t done that though, and out of worry Hinata had made him lie on his side for a while to help air pass.

But despite the trouble, Hinata preferred this to Komaeda staying up. The sickness seemed to be messing up his thoughts and frankly making him a lot more troublesome with all the things he kept blabbering on and on about. Frankly it was weird; he seemed to be an entirely different person from who he had been most of the time. The only resemblance he could see was the small moments there had been a weird spark on Komaeda’s eyes, when the derailed thoughts had slipped from his mind.

It didn’t seem like it was an act, more like Komaeda was being completely genuine and open with himself. But did that mean that the Komaeda Hinata had seen most of the time had been fake? Had it been a well-build ruse, a personality he had adapted to just to deceive him?

Hinata clenched his hands in fists as he stared at Komaeda. It would make sense. The personality that had slipped through could not be the act, so it must mean that the calm and gentle Komaeda had been.

… But it didn’t feel entirely right either. Hinata groaned as he turned to his own bed to flop down on it. There was no reason to thinking about this, as soon as Komaeda recovered enough to take care of himself, he was going to leave. So what the other was like didn’t matter anymore, shouldn’t have mattered in a long time. Hinata buried his face to the pillow as he forced himself to remember his conviction that he was going to leave the other behind.

But it kept haunting his thoughts. He couldn’t imagine continuing on alone, despite having been alone before. He hadn’t been with Komaeda so long either, but still it felt weird imagining continuing his way to north without him.

He slammed his fist against the bed as he felt frustration flush over him. He had to forget these thoughts, get rid of the small, lingering affection and continue on. There was something much more important at stake here.

He shouldn’t need anyone but himself.

Hinata breathed in slowly as he gathered his thoughts. Surely these feelings would pass as soon as he left. He was just feeling confused surely, and everything would clear up once he was completely alone again. He had to leave, and forget all the pity and affection towards the sorry person about to choke on his own saliva again.


 

Hinata lifted up his face from the pillow as he woke up. Somewhere along the way he had fallen asleep, but he didn’t feel like he had slept for too long. A short nap most likely; apparently he had been more tired than he thought after barely sleeping the night before. As he turned his head to check up on Komaeda, he saw the other bed empty. He jumped up on the bed to look around, to see the other standing by the table with the phone in his hand, apparently texting someone.

“What are you doing?!” Hinata yelled as he ran over to the other, trying to take the phone from his hands. Komaeda reacted surprisingly quick, turning slightly to finish writing his message and send it, before letting Hinata take the phone from him.

“Did you send a message to the cops?!” Hinata asked in panic, his heart beating fast. He had been way too careless, just because the other was sick didn’t mean he couldn’t still do something.

“Of course I didn’t. I would never do anything like that to you, Hinata-kun…,” Komaeda said. His voice and breathing was still raspy, and he seemed to be swaying on his feet as he moved his hands. Hinata glared at him as he opened the last sent message. It only said ‘Tomorrow’, and nothing else. At least it didn’t seem like it was for police or anything, and he didn’t find any other messages either that hadn’t been sent by him.

“What does this message mean even? Who did you send this to?” he asked furiously, as he grabbed the front of Komaeda’s shirt and pushed him back until he hit the table. Komaeda let out a small, involuntary whine of pain before he seemed to try and tough it through, an accepting look lingering into his eyes slowly like it was being pushed into there. “Are you planning something again?!” Hinata shouted nervously; the message was nothing but confusing and not knowing what it meant was nothing but a risk to his safety.

“H-Hinata-kun… I was going to tell you anyways, there’s no need to be afraid—”

“I’m not afraid, I’m just suspicious!” Hinata yelled instantly, and Komaeda just gave him an awkward smile and a small chuckle, like he was trying to calm him down. It only made Hinata feel more frustrated. “Explain.”

“I’m sorry for keeping quiet of this, but I wanted to say this at a better timing…,” Komaeda said. “I felt like you would not have been able to find your hope if you didn’t get a moment of rest from everything so I wanted us to enjoy our time and—”

“Would you just get to the point already?

“Ah, of course. Well, I thought there was something you really had to have, especially in case you were going to move on your own, and I feel like you’re planning on doing so. It’d be the best decision after all, considering your hope,” Komaeda said, and quickly flashed a small apologetic smile again as Hinata glared at him. “I contacted my… acquaintance from work, and asked him for a favor.”

Hinata squinted; he was pretty sure this favor included money, and a lot of it. So not a favor at all.

“What is it?”

“I asked him to make you a new ID,“ Komaeda said and in surprise Hinata’s grip on Komaeda’s shirt loosened. Komaeda seemed to relax a bit at that. ”Basically fake ones, but the people he knows can make it as real and genuine as possible. The only difference would be the one who made it, everything else would be exactly like a normal ID. You’ll have a complete new identity made for you.” Komaeda’s words slowly started to make less and less sense, and Hinata frowned.

“What do you mean by that? A whole new identity?”

“They’ll make new hospital records for you, even a birth certificate, and they’ll even get graduation papers for you. A new, wholly forged life if that helps you understand. They should have everything ready, the only thing…,” Komaeda stopped for a brief second, like he was trying to get his thoughts together. So far his explanation felt so smooth, that Hinata couldn’t help but think it must have been pre-planned.

“The only thing they need now is just a name. You can think it through and decide on whatever you want, they’ll just add it on the files then and make it all happen.”

Hinata froze at Komaeda’s words: a new name. He would get to change his name.

Komaeda seemed concerned at the silence that answered him, but Hinata didn’t react at all. He had a lot of questions passing through his mind and even more confusion, but it felt like it was all being buried under the words Komaeda had just said.

He hadn’t even thought of changing his name; there was so little time left anymore that it had felt meaningless to even consider it. He hadn’t thought he’d even have money for it back when he had planned his escape. But all of his plans had slowly been overwritten by Komaeda so far, everything turning easier and easier. But this was something he hadn’t even thought would happen; not back then and not even during their time travelling together.

“… Are… are you serious?” Hinata asked slowly, and Komaeda just nodded. He didn’t seem to be lying at all, and Hinata’s mind felt like it was being covered in small fog.

“Then the message…?” he asked the only question he could keep a grasp on, as his mind felt like it was thinking over a million of thoughts at once while not thinking anything at all.

“When I arranged this, I told them I’d inform them about the date later. I thought tomorrow would be okay, so you don’t have to force yourself to stay with a despicable, horrible person like me…” Rest of Komaeda’s words seemed to blur away, as Hinata felt his hands tremble.

He’d get to start his life over again.

Chapter Text

He had managed to say it.

Hinata seemed to still be in shock, and wasn’t probably even listening to Komaeda. Komaeda realized this, but he still kept talking; his thoughts felt a tiny bit clearer when he did. Or at least, it brought some relief, like he was convincing himself that it indeed was better for Hinata to leave him. He had to muffle the small, selfish voice in his head saying he wanted Hinata to stay.

His throat was starting to hurt when Hinata finally spoke again. Komaeda shut his mouth immediately to let the other talk, but Hinata didn’t seem to even react to this.

“Where am I supposed to go tomorrow then?” he asked calmly, like the shock had subsided from his mind and been replaced by a tranquil calmness. It was almost contagious; Komaeda felt everything wash away from his mind except the subject at hand. He couldn’t shake off the feeling that there was something odd about Hinata right now, but he decided not to think about it.

“His place is not too far from here, but you’ll have to exchange trains on the way,” Komaeda explained calmly as he sat down on the closest chair. “I’ll write up instructions on how to get there, including the possible trains... or at least, the ones I can remember.” A coughing fit cut him off, and Hinata used that time to seat himself on the other side of the table. He seemed to not even think about the coughing, and instead seemed like he was just waiting for a chance to speak.

“So when am I supposed to go there?” Hinata asked as soon as the coughing stopped.

“Whenever, but I’d suggest the afternoon. That’s the most likely time to catch him home,” he said and began to explain the rest of the details, taking pen and paper to write down everything. For a moment it sort of felt like they were back to planning together, but there was a cold air between them, one that didn’t allow any of the calm and friendly chitchat. It was weighing heavily on top of their conversation, and Komaeda felt his whole body ache from the tension and sickness.

They managed to plan everything a lot faster this way though.


 

Komaeda woke up in the middle of the night, grasping at his sheets and his heartbeat deafeningly loud. He sat up on his bed to rub his face; the towel dropping from his forehead as he did so. He was still sweating and his mind still didn’t feel like it was completely clear, but the darkness and silence helped him concentrate a bit more.

He glanced at the dark, sleeping figure on the other bed. He knew Hinata was sleeping with the gun by his side, to make sure Komaeda wouldn’t take it again. Frankly, it was a needless precaution, since Komaeda didn’t have any plans of taking it back or using it against Hinata. But, that probably just showed how much the other distrusted him… Had he been alone, Komaeda would have probably laughed dryly, but he held back as to not wake the other up.

He held the towel in his hands, rubbing it with his fingers. Despite everything, the other had done his best to take care of him, and it was… It was more than Komaeda deserved. He should have been abandoned the moment he was troublesome, as soon as he ceased to be useful.

This was clearly a mishap on Hinata’s part. There was no good reasoning to this action. Yet there was a small warmth residing in his heart at the thought, a warmth that almost felt like it was burning him as he played with the towel.

A loud coughing fit hit him all of a sudden again, and he tried to muffle it by covering his face with his blanket. It didn’t seem to help him at all, since Hinata quickly jumped up in his bed and turned to look at him.

“I’m sorry for waking you up…,” Komaeda started, but before he managed to continue his cough returned even more severe than before, bringing tears into his eyes as his whole body shook. Hinata got quickly up from his bed and walked over to him, taking a few tissues from the box on the night table and giving them to Komaeda.

“Wipe your face with these, I’ll go get you a new towel,” he said quietly, and Komaeda nodded as he thanked him. He didn’t know what else to say right now, his mind still a mess from the sickness and having just woken up. His thoughts were mostly circling around his confusion, the things he could not understand.

There was no reason for Hinata to take care of him, they had known each other only for a short while and Komaeda had managed to do nothing but betray Hinata’s trust during it. There should be no responsibility for Hinata to look after him, yet he was.

“Here, drink this,” Hinata said when he returned, holding a glass of water in his other hand. The other was holding the towel, and Komaeda decided to drink down the water quickly to let the other return to sleep as soon as possible. But when he took a sip of the water, he almost coughed again in surprise when it tasted… partially sweet. Hinata seemed to notice this. “I put some honey into it, Sonia-san said it was good for coughing…”

Komaeda nodded and stared at the water, contemplating whether he should say that the honey would mix a lot better with hot water. Eventually he decided not to say anything and just be grateful. He drunk it, despite it being overly sweet to his tastes.

When he was done drinking, Hinata gently pushed him back on the bed like he was expecting him to resist again, and placing the cool towel on his forehead again. Komaeda looked at Hinata quietly for a moment, and just as the other was about to return to his own bed he stopped him.

“Why are you even taking care of me…?” Komaeda asked, and got an immediate glare from Hinata. “There’s no reason for you to go through the trouble. You could have just sent me into the hospital if it was just about not letting me die…” His voice trailed off closing the end, as his throat began to hurt. Hinata turned his back again and walked to his bed. At first Komaeda thought the other wasn’t going to answer, but then Hinata stopped just next to his bed.

“I don’t know,” he answered quietly, before getting into the bed and tucking himself under the blankets, his back still turned to Komaeda.

Komaeda decided to just accept that answer without any further questions.


 

In the morning, Komaeda woke up in an empty room. His mind felt slightly clearer than during the previous days, like the fog had been lifted from his thoughts. He was still shivering and sweating, but he was satisfied with having his head clear enough to remember what he had to do. Softly he got up from the bed and sneaked through the room after placing the towel carefully on the night-table. He walked to where his jacket was hung up – Hinata had probably hung it up there at some point – and began to dig through his pockets.

“What are you doing now?!” A sudden, loud voice startled him and he turned to look back into the room, where Hinata stood in front of the bathroom door. Komaeda flashed a small, sheepish smile as he showed the wallet he had taken out of the pocket. Hinata relaxed slightly at that, but he still seemed pissed off. He was already wearing his clothes; a quick glance at the clock told Komaeda it was almost midday and the other was probably just about to leave.

How lucky that he had woken up before the other had left.

Hinata gave him a suspecting glare, before he started to take out the medicines again. Komaeda just slowly walked to the table in the room and sat down, taking a piece of paper to write on. Hinata glanced at him, but didn’t seem to care as he went to fill the glass with water. Komaeda just patiently wrote down the numbers in the correct order, and finished just in time when the other brought the medicine to him with the glass of water.

“Thank you, Hinata-kun…,” he said and Hinata just ignored his words, looking at the paper while Komaeda swallowed the pills.

“What is this?” he asked as he picked it up, and Komaeda smiled.

“It’s all the codes to the cards in my wallet,” he said. “They all have a lot of money on them, so you should be good with using only one of them but, just in case. I don’t recommend paying for anything big with these in stores though, since they might ask for identification. Just take out in cash as much as you need,” he continued, and Hinata tilted his head.

“I do not need this much money for the train,” he said as he picked up the wallet. “There should be enough in cash here already for it.” Komaeda shook his head.

“I know that, and that’s not what I’m saying. You should take the wallet and everything you need and leave. Once you have an I.D, it should be easy for you to take the train to the north on your own, and pay for everything you need on the way,” Komaeda explained, but the other seemed still confused.

“But…,” he began to say, before the realization hit him. Komaeda just smiled awkwardly as the other turned to glare at him. “Are you saying that you’re going to stay here?” he said slowly, and Komaeda nodded.

“As I am, I’m just a burden to you, especially if you can’t trust me,” Komaeda said, forcing the cheerfulness to his voice, trying to make himself believe in this. Hinata seemed to be confused and upset at his words, his grip tightening around the wallet. “I’m not as sick anymore as I’ve been these past two days, so you don’t have to take care of me anymore. I can just return back home, to my old life.”

As he finished his sentence, Hinata seemed to flare up as he grabbed the front of his shirt again. Komaeda flinched but this time the other seemed less aggressive and more like he was demanding an answer.

“You…! After saying you were going to help me, now you’re going to throw me out?” Hinata growled, and Komaeda shook his head. “Are you abandoning me?!”

“You’re better off without me, so you should just go, continue on without a burden weighing you down,” he said and Hinata pushed him, making him fall over with his chair. Komaeda fell on the floor, just barely missing hitting his head against the wall, and the other was glaring down at him. For a moment they just stared at each other, like they were both waiting for the other to say something. Komaeda felt his left arm hurting slightly from receiving the worst blow, but he tried to ignore it.

“Fine. I will go,” Hinata eventually said, pushing the wallet into his pocket. There was a tint of hurt in his voice and his expression, but Komaeda felt like it was just his misunderstanding. There was no reason for the other to be hurt; he was most likely just relieved to finally be rid of him. Trying to convince himself of this, Komaeda just sat on the floor as Hinata quickly gathered everything he had. After giving him the final glare, Hinata walked out of the room, slamming the door close behind him.

Komaeda turned to look up at the ceiling. The other was gone now, he had achieved everything he had planned to do.

There was a hollow feeling inside him, as he thought about the life he would have to return to now.

Chapter Text

Hinata bit his lower lip in frustration as he glared at the elevator door. He could feel the wallet in his pocket, the unfamiliarity making it feel heavier than it actually was. It felt almost absurd that it bothered him more than the gun in his other pocket. It was hard to relax with both of them, feeling like any minute someone would suspect something.

The elevator’s floor bell rang and the doors opened. Hinata glanced around him before entering the elevator, to make sure he would be entering alone. Luckily there wasn’t anyone in sight; it’d have felt wrong to be in such a small space with someone, when he had a gun hidden on him. He pressed the button quickly, like the elevator would leave faster that way. He sighed in relief as the doors closed on him. He pushed his hands into his pockets, feeling a bit better when he was holding the items.

Not only did he have a gun, he had presumably more money than he dared to imagine. The stress was almost enough to distract him from his anger.

So after his betrayal had gone awry, Komaeda had decided to just abandon him altogether, leaving Hinata with nothing but a weapon and money. The elevator arrived to the first floor and Hinata stepped out as soon as the doors opened, marching towards the exit to get out as soon as possible.

This was supposed to be a lot better than what he had started with. He had all he originally wanted, yet he felt horribly dissatisfied with the current situation. He had expected to feel more helpless and afraid, but mostly he felt disappointed and… He bit his lip again as he held back from thinking he was lonely, stepping out of the hotel. There was no reason to feel lonely at this point. It was far too late for that.

Perhaps it had been a mistake to waste his time taking care of Komaeda, as the other had said. Hinata should have left as soon as the other’s betrayal had been revealed, go and not look back. But some weird motion had kept him there, a thought that maybe everything had been a mistake and it’d be cleared out. That the gun would just disappear from the memories.

But it was there, weighing so heavily in his pocket that it was almost pulling him towards the ground. Before he could stop himself, he had glanced back at the hotel. It felt so foreign, so lonesome to walk alone. He hadn’t really been anywhere by himself in such a long time, and now he found himself completely alone. And while there was no reason for it, suddenly it felt a lot colder.


 

The station was buzzing with people again when Hinata stepped out of the train. The train he had originally planned to continue on was going to leave almost immediately and to catch it he would have to hurry. But he decided to abandon this plan; the feeling was still haunting him and he felt like walking around alone would help him feel less weird about this. This was the same station they had used the other day, so he was pretty sure he’d find his way back.

As he began to leave the station, he noticed it was a lot harder to avoid bumping into people when walking alone. People paid a lot less attention to him when he was just a lone person in the sea of people. He was feeling a lot more nervous as well, so he kept making careless mistakes and walking right into people. Every time he jumped whenever that happened and his hands reflexively found their way over his pockets, like he was trying to prevent anyone touching them.

It was most likely a useless fear; the gun was so small that it was easy to hide in the pocket without anyone recognizing the shape. He still had a cape of paranoia hovering over his thoughts; it felt like everyone knew what he was carrying, like all the sideway glances were directed at him.

When Hinata finally got out of the station he quickly walked away from it, walking into a vaguely familiar direction. If he was right, this way would lead to the movie theater. He wasn’t really going to watch a movie but it gave him some sort of goal to head towards to so he set his mind to get there first. Walking through the streets, he couldn’t help but notice how much chatter there was around him; it was almost loud enough for him to not be able to hear his thoughts properly.

It wasn’t this loud back then, Hinata thought to himself as he tried to shut off the sounds to focus on his thoughts. Not that there was much to focus on other than his anger. The streets reminded him of Komaeda and the day they had spent completely pretending nothing was wrong, going to movies and to the restaurant…

It had been just three days ago, and the memories were already blurred. He briefly wondered if this was his mind trying to protect him, washing the memories slowly away so that it wouldn’t feel as bad. No matter what the reason was, but right now he didn’t feel like he minded. It’d make it easier to leave if he could focus his thoughts on just his anger and forget the bad stuff.

Hinata stuffed his hands deep into his pockets again, as he thought of what to do with the gun. No matter how useful it was, he wasn’t sure he wanted to keep it with him anymore. He’d rather get rid of it actually, but he didn’t feel right just throwing it out wherever. Of course he could throw it in the river but that felt like a waste as well.

As he fiddled with the gun, he felt it clack against somethings in his pocket, and with a frown he took out the two marbles. They shimmered slightly in the light, and Hinata clenched his fist around them as he thought of throwing these away. They didn’t pose any danger if someone would happen to pick them up, and they’d be easy to get rid of and forget everything about them. But as he opened his fist and saw Komaeda’s marble, he felt his heart twinge as he remembered how vulnerable the other had seemed every time he had asked to see the marble.

Hinata bit down on his lip again, and he could feel his skin turning rough already. If he kept this up, he’d eventually bite his lower lip open. But it felt necessary, like he was somehow suppressing the anger with this small movement.

He closed his hand again as he pushed the marbles back into his pocket and resumed walking.

… They were pretty marbles, it’d be a shame to throw them away.


 

Hinata sighed in relief as he lifted his eyes up. He had found his way to the arcade again, after wandering for a while. When he approached the door to enter, the door opened before him and a girl with lilac hair walked out, nodding to him as she passed. He glanced at her back briefly; she had a pink and white bunny back bag on her, and she was holding on to its straps like Hinata remembered doing when he was young, even though she seemed to be the same age as he was.

He turned back to the door and entered. As he walked inside for a while, he noticed some of the same kids he had seen with Komaeda, and one of them seemed to recognize him as well as he waved at him. Hinata waved back and hesitantly walked closer; he remembered that this was the boy that had been talking with Komaeda while he had been playing. The boy grinned at him and nodded towards the machine Komaeda had beaten the record on.

“Come look,” he said without any explanation, and Hinata followed him a bit confused. The boy sat on the seat and opened the high score screen and Hinata immediately noticed that Komaeda wasn’t on the top anymore. On the first place was someone named Usami. The boy glanced at Hinata with a grin but Hinata tilted his head a bit confused in response and the boy sighed.

“C’mon, didn’t your friend tell you about the legend? This Usami person is on the first spot on every game here, and even if someone breaks a record, they will take the first spot again next day,” he explained and Hinata nodded. So the high score Komaeda had set was now resting on the second spot, having been replaced. Hinata smirked as he stared at the screen.

“So he got overtaken,” Hinata said and got a confused glance from the boy, who had rudely put his legs up on top of the panel of the arcade machine. “His high score. It really was just a fluke.” The boy shrugged as he turned to look at the machine again.

“Well I don’t know, I guess it might have been a fluke. But his record was broken just today, so at least it took a few days even for that Usami to beat it! So it was pretty impressive score no matter if it was skill or luck,” he explained before he excitedly jumped from the chair. “Do you want to play some games again? I can teach you if you want!” He didn’t really wait for him to answer and began to drag him around to the games he hadn’t played last time.

It was a welcome distraction; the boy didn’t ask about Komaeda even once, probably didn’t even think of him, and Hinata could fully concentrate on just playing with him.

As the boy yelled excitedly when he won against Hinata for the third time in a row, Hinata slightly wished he had spent more time on arcades when he had been a teenager. His parents had said a lot of bad things about these places but from the last time and now he had just good memories.

He stared at the high score screen that had been left open on the game next to him, and he kind of missed the excitement everyone – including him – had had when Komaeda broke that record.

Hinata bit his lip again as he found himself thinking of Komaeda back in the bed, sick and sniffling. He had thought to walk around town to get his thoughts clear of Komaeda, so coming to the arcade seemed really counter-productive.


 

The station bathroom seemed to be empty when Hinata entered the room. His steps and the running water from the tap when he turned it on seemed to echo in the room; he had deliberately chosen a more remote W.C to get away from the noise, but the complete lack of sounds around him felt almost eerie.

In the end, he hadn’t managed to achieve his goal, at all. He had ended up walking pretty much the same roads he had with Komaeda, and despite the fact that he was still angry, he was starting to feel worried and even more than that, he was starting to... He shook his head and began to splash cold water on his face. He was fine alone, he had to be. It was the only way he was safe.

Hinata lifted his eyes to the mirror, water dripping down from the tip of his nose and his chin. He hadn’t paid attention to it before, but his reflection looked really tired and stressed. He didn’t remember the time when he had looked different however, and that thought was enough to make him bite his lip again. His lips were all chapped and painfully red. He really should stop biting his lips… but then again did it matter at this point anymore? It wasn’t going to make him die any sooner or later.

He glared at himself angrily; he had made nothing but mistakes lately… Or maybe miscalculations was a better word. He had decided to trust Komaeda, but now he realized it had been a serious slip on his part. It was almost laughable; he couldn’t really even blame Komaeda for betraying him when he had walked into the trap, oblivious to everything going on around him.

The gun was weighing heavily in his pocket. Why hadn’t he checked Komaeda’s pockets even once? He had had so many opportunities to check them when Komaeda was asleep or in the bathroom.

He was so dumb, a moron like no one else. Pretending like he was on top of the situation, like he was in charge when he hadn’t even made the simplest precautions. He had just lulled himself into the feeling of ease, like he didn’t have to do anything and he’d be safe and well. It had obviously been too good to be true.

Burning hot tears began to roll from his eyes again, and he crouched down to not see himself in the mirror. This was pathetic. He should just move on; learn the same lesson again from yet another mistake. He banged his head against the washbasin, once, and then couple more times for good measure as the tears kept rolling out. He should have taken the train instead of walking around in town. He should have left Komaeda out in the cold, should have eaten alone, should have stayed inside the hotel.

Hinata should have demanded to be left alone instead of letting Komaeda comfort him during his panic attack; had he done that he wouldn’t be feeling so vulnerable right now, he wouldn’t be feeling like he had had his safety taken away from him again just by having to leave Komaeda.

Sobs began to roll from his lips uncontrollably and he held his hands against his eyes in a desperate attempt to stop the tears from escaping. It didn’t help at all however; it just made his eyes hurt even more than they already did from the tears, and his breathing was getting more unsteady.

He didn’t want to be alone again. He missed talking with Komaeda normally. He missed eating good, delicious food with Komaeda. He missed walking around the town and seeing all sorts of shops Komaeda showed him.

He… He missed Komaeda.

As the thought finally passed through his mind, after being held back so long, he almost choked on his sobs. He had lost everything already, and there was nothing he could do about it. But the feelings get pouring over him like a waterfall, and he was struggling to keep any sort of composure.

And all of a sudden there were steps approaching the door of the bathroom. Hinata barely managed to pull himself up from the floor and dash to a close-by stall in time before someone entered the bathroom. He could hear their steps; the tears were still rolling from his eyes and he couldn’t stop himself from sniffling every so often. He could hear the steps stop for a moment at the sound, and he bit down on his lower lip to contain the sounds.

Then the footsteps approached his stall, and he froze still for a moment. What if it was the police? Or someone else who had noticed he was suspicious? He could barely breathe when the other person knocked on the door.

“Hey boy, are you alright?” the voice asked however. It was a strong, yet a gentle voice, maybe of someone older. In his relief, he sighed as he nodded… And realized there was no way the other would believe it, even if he could see through the door.

“I’m, alright,” Hinata said, almost choking up between the words. He could hear the other sigh loudly.

“If you say so, kiddo,” the voice answered, obviously not believing him. He seemed to think of Hinata as a young kid; maybe it was better that way, he wouldn’t ask as much questions. “But you know, I think I still want to give you some advice in life!” This stranger’s voice was almost bellowing, and it was somewhat strengthening; like the energy was slowly creeping into Hinata as well. Almost like a father or a coach…

“W-what is it…?” Hinata asked, trying to make his voice a bit higher to maintain the image of a kid. His nose was stuffed so it was a bit difficult, but at least the tears had stopped falling from the sudden shock. There was a small pause, and for a moment Hinata was starting to wonder if there was something wrong.

“Happiness comes from health, and there are three simple rules to health…,” the voice said, like he had said this speech before to someone else, making Hinata believe he really probably was a coach of some sort.

“The secret rules are to eat well, sleep well and most importantly shit well!” he said loudly, like he was completely convinced in his words. His words carried the sort of simplicity in them that Hinata hadn’t felt in years, but for some reason right now it was relieving. It was obviously wrong; if it was that easy then he wouldn’t be here, but… he snorted.

And then slowly he began to laugh, trying to keep quiet but nevertheless the panic was being washed away by the humor. He could hear the stranger chuckle as well; Hinata leaned against the toilet seat behind him and looked at the ceiling.

Despite everything, he was feeling a bit refreshed now. He was angry again, he was determined again, like all those feelings of loneliness had been pushed out with the tears and wiped away by the laughter. Perhaps crying it out was something he had needed in order to move on.

He could move on and leave, he could do it.


 

Hinata looked at the paper for a moment to make sure he had followed the instructions right. But there it was; he had turned on the right turns and there definitely weren’t any other houses close he could mistake his destination for.

A huge gate stood before him; it was almost intimidating with the walls accompanying it that seemed to cover the whole street. There was an intercom by the right side of the gate, and after gathering his courage, Hinata walked to it and pressed the call button. It didn’t take long for him to get an answer; however those few seconds felt long and stressful. There were just few options he could think of about who lived in a house like this, and considering why he was here he had a pretty solid hunch…

Good day,” a voice said over the intercom, and Hinata began to answer only to be interrupted right away. “Do you have some business with us?” The woman sounded stern, and Hinata quickly recalled what Komaeda had told him to say.

“I’m, I’m here on behalf of Komaeda Nagito, he should have arranged a meeting today…,” Hinata said and the voice over the intercom just hummed seemingly agreeing with what he said, and cutting off the connection. The gate opened slowly right after, and Hinata walked into the courtyard. The house seemed to be quite a distance away, and he could see a figure standing by the door to the building.

As Hinata got closer, he saw that the person waiting for him was a young woman wearing glasses, her gray hair tied in two braids and a sword bag on her back. She was probably the person he had talked to on the phone; somehow he just had a feeling she was.

When Hinata got to her, she bowed politely as a greeting and Hinata quickly returned the gesture.

“I need you to hand over your weapons,” she said when Hinata straightened his back. “We’ll return your belongings when you leave.” Hinata nodded and quickly took the gun and the knife out of his pockets. She took them carefully, holding a handkerchief on her hand like she didn’t want to touch them directly…

“Young master is currently busy with another matter, but he’ll get to you as soon as possible. In the meantime, we’ve prepared a room for you to wait in, and one of our underlings will be there to provide you company.” Her words came out smoothly like it was routine for her, and Hinata nodded as she began to guide him into the house. Some people in suits here and there passed by them, but no one talked any more than a nod; it seemed almost like they were intimidated by his companion. She didn’t pay it any mind however, and instead kept walking through multiple sliding doors. Hinata was pretty sure he wouldn’t find his way out on his own anymore.

Eventually they reached a room where she stopped and turned to face him and Hinata jumped slightly in surprise. She didn’t seem to be fazed, instead she just pointed towards the table in the room.

“Tea will be brought to you in a minute,” she said as Hinata entered the room and seated himself by the table. “Do you have what we asked you to bring?” Hinata nodded and dug the piece of paper out of his pocket. As soon as he gave it to her, she just took it with a nod and walked away. Hinata stared at the table for a moment, trying to gather his thoughts. She seemed to be quite high-ranking here, so it felt a bit odd that she had been the one to come greet him.

But this mansion and the people… It was pretty certain that Komaeda had sent him to some yakuza family. Hinata bit down on his lip again, nibbling on the dry pieces of skin to somehow relieve the stress. He had been too engrossed in the idea of being able to change his name that he hadn’t even thought about the possibility of this being a trap. If Komaeda had tricked him again…

The door slid open suddenly, startling Hinata. On the doorway stood a very shaggy-looking man, and his long brown hair was spiky and pointing in every possible direction. Unlike the others that had been wearing normal suits, he had rolled his pants up to his knees and on top of his suit he was wearing a haori. He couldn’t have looked any less unprofessional in comparison to the other people here.

“Hey, what’s up?” he said leisurely as he placed the tray down on the table and dropped down to sit on the other side of the table. “Name’s Hagakure, I guess. You’re here to get new papers, right? It must be handy having friends rolling in dosh...,” he began to babble and Hinata gave him a glare.

“I don’t think that’s any of your business…,” he said slowly and the other just grinned sheepishly.

“Ah yeah, sorry buddy. I was just trying to make a conversation but I get it, a touchy subject right?” Hagakure said and yawned. “I just heard some people talking about it so it was the first topic that came to mind. Well, what else is there going on? Seen any good movies?”

Hinata glared at the teacup on the table. This kind of chitchat felt really meaningless, but then again there wasn’t much else to do while waiting.

“… I saw three bad ones the other day,” Hinata said curtly and the other laughed.

“That’s some real bad luck!” Hagakure exclaimed and Hinata had to stop himself from groaning at the choice of words. Luck… In the end he hadn’t really figured out anything about how Komaeda’s luck really worked. He briefly wondered if Komaeda considered him leaving good or bad luck. Probably bad, since he had taken the money and the gun with him and left Komaeda with nothing but his car and sickness.

But doesn’t that mean there should have been good luck before that…? The thought passed Hinata’s mind and he pursed his lips; he couldn’t recall anything that could be considered good luck for Komaeda, enough to have such bad luck hit him back…

He reckoned he had just understood it wrong and decided to drop that line of thought. It was just a waste of his energy to try and make sense of it. He took a sip of the tea that Hagakure had brought.

“You don’t talk much do you…?” Hagakure said after they had been silent for a while. Hinata shrugged, and the other let out an exasperated sigh. “Why is everyone who comes here like this…? Is the name-changing business so serious? I don’t think I would have been so serious if I had changed my name…”

“Have you ever even had a reason to change your name?” Hinata asked and Hagakure nodded as he crossed his arms.

“Well, I did have… some money problem of sorts, so I was trying to get out of that,” he explained and laughed. “Though, instead I ended up working here.” Hinata nodded; with how the other looked, he wasn’t really surprised to learn that Hagakure was in debt… Probably even huge one, if he had considered changing his name. He didn’t seem too serious about it though, which made Hinata believe he either was too dumb to really realize it or he just didn’t care too much.

Or maybe even both.

“Actually, now that we’re talking about that! You have money right? Want to get a fortune telling from me?” Hagakure asked, apparently hit by sudden excitement. Hinata squinted at him. “Come on, I’m an actual bona fide fortune teller, and my fees are expensive to match the quality! Come on dude, don’t you want to know how your life will turn out with this new name and all?”

“If your fees are so expensive, then how come you ended up in debt?” Hinata asked in suspicion, and the other just scratched his hair as he laughed awkwardly.

“You see, I’m a collector of all sorts of mystical artifacts. It’s part of the job, right? I even had this really expensive crystal ball I used to tell fortunes,” Hagakure explained and Hinata decided not to ask about what had happened to the crystal ball; he could pretty much guess. He was pretty convinced the other was just a fraud, so there wasn’t any reason to go along with him…

But then again, he had money and there seemed to be still empty time in their hands. As inspiration struck him, he took the marbles out of his pocket.

“Can you use these instead of the crystal ball?”

“If they’re made of crystal then of course!” Hagakure said as he took the two marbles from him. Hinata just smiled and nodded; the other probably wouldn’t notice any difference. And he was correct; Hagakure just asked him for payment, and after that was done he just began to examine the two marbles on his hand, with a focused look on his face. Hinata took another sip of his tea, wondering how the other had been doing his divinations without his crystal ball.

“Woah dude, this is a bit…,” Hagakure said eventually as he set the marbles down on the table. Hinata took them back; the marbles felt oddly warm but he didn’t pay attention to it and put them back into his pocket. “Okay, so someone you care about is going to die, because you couldn’t save them, I’m sure of it. And it’s like, you were too stubborn to do something that would have saved them, right?” Hinata turned to look back at Hagakure instantly as he began to protest.

“But I don’t even have anyone like that,” he said, but he could feel his hands shaking a little bit.

“Look dude, I’m hundred percent correct like, 30% of the time you know. I’m sure of what I saw,” Hagakure insisted as he crossed his arms and tilted his head. “I used to be world famous for this before I got into trouble, and I’m certain of what I saw.”

“No, I’m sure you’re not correct. The marbles aren’t even—” Hinata’s protest was cut short when the door slid open, and Hagakure jumped up from the floor.

“Uh, hey there Kuzuryuu— I mean, young master,” Hagakure said stiffly, like he was trying to be polite. By the door stood a short guy with the lady from before, and for a moment Hinata wondered if the lady was actually the young master, since the guy didn’t look any older than a middle schooler…

But like he had heard his thoughts, the short guy shot a glare at Hinata, sending shivers down his spine. As Hagakure left the room – waving to Hinata the whole time as he closed the door, the short guy seated himself on the other side of the table.

“So where’s that one bastard? I thought he was going to come with you,” the guy asked without even bothering to introduce himself; but Hagakure had called him Kuzuryuu. But knowing Hagakure… Hinata made a decision to just avoid calling the other by his name.

“Uh, he’s… sick,” Hinata explained stiffly. He didn’t really want to go into details of their situation, but he didn’t feel like he had much choice if the other asked.

“Huh? Sick? How did he manage to get sick with that rotten luck he keeps boasting about…,” Kuzuryuu said before grinning. “Well, not like it matters, makes things simpler when he’s not here being a bother,” he continued, looking weirdly smug like he was trying to convince him. But he wasn’t probably lying, the real Komaeda must have been annoying to deal with…

“He told me everything had been taken care of already,” Hinata said. He wasn’t entirely sure when Komaeda had managed to pay for this, but then again he hadn’t paid that much attention to what Komaeda had been doing most of the time. So, another proof of his own mistakes.

“In that case he didn’t lie to you,” Kuzuryuu said as he shrugged. “It’s not much to do, really. We have a… expert on these matters working for us. They know everything there is about changing identities, though I suppose they’re better at stealing them than making completely new ones.”

“I-I see. But is there really, uh, nothing else I have to do? Just provide the name I want?” Hinata asked, shifting in his place. He was feeling uncomfortable, the lady standing by the door kept staring at him like she were constantly reading him. It was probably for some sort of safety reasons – she might be his bodyguard and that’s why she kept close watch on him – but it was making him nervous.

Though, there shouldn’t be anything for him to worry about. He was pretty sure a yakuza family wouldn’t call cops to take him, even if they had figured out who he was.

“You got to learn your new backstory of course, we have the files coming here soon so you can read and learn it… Oh, and you can’t take it with you so better read carefully. Normally, we wouldn’t even let you decide the name since it’s a hassle, but that guy insisted on it so…,” Kuzuryuu explained, and Hinata dropped his eyes to the tea cup in front of him. He… would have preferred not to hear that. It was likely that there had been another reason for it, or some sort of scheme to it, but there was a possibility Komaeda had insisted on it for his sake.

He tried to push off the thoughts from his head; it was irrelevant why Komaeda had insisted on it.

“How… How do you know him?” Hinata asked before he could stop himself.

“Through work, of course! Why else would I associate with a creep like him?” Kuzuryuu said and Hinata noticed that the lady smiled for a brief second, like she wanted to laugh, before her face returned to normal. Hinata frowned a bit. From what he had understood, Komaeda was working a normal office job, but… Though, he didn’t really know much about what his job included.

“What… what kind of person is he? I… I haven’t really known him for that long, and… it’s really hard to make sense of him. He seems occasionally completely different,” Hinata asked, the words slipping from his lips like he had opened a dam holding them back.

“H-huh? You’re asking me?” The surprise in his voice was pretty obvious, and Hinata nodded. He knew he was just chasing himself down the rabbit hole by asking, but no matter what it felt like… it felt like he needed to know the truth. “Well, uh… I’d just say he’s a weirdo. He seems to be obsessed with either his luck or hope, I can’t even really tell, but that’s pretty much what controls his life. And I don’t think he really realizes that and the fact how much it affects the people around him… Or something, I don’t know,” Kuzuryuu explained, obviously feeling very awkward.

“I-I see…,” Hinata answered, feeling just as awkward. He probably shouldn’t have asked something like that from an acquaintance of Komaeda. Maybe it’d be better to ask from someone else, someone who might know him better… He remembered the phone in his pocket. “T-thanks, sorry for asking a weird question…”

“Well it’s not a surprising question about that guy, he’s hard to figure out,” Kuzuryuu said, scratching the back of his head. A weird silence fell between them after that, and the knock on the door was a welcome surprise for both of them. The lady opened the door and took the files from the person there. Hinata couldn’t see them well before they were already gone, and he turned his eyes to Kuzuryuu who had stood up.

“Looks like the files are here. I’ll leave you to go through them. When you want to leave, just tell Pekoyama and she’ll escort you out,” he said as he walked to the door, and the lady nodded at his words. “Enjoy your new identity. And about Komaeda, I’d say it’s best to not think too much. He’s impossible to understand, but I don’t think he’s a bad person either. I think I’d know if he was.”

He didn’t really give time for Hinata to say goodbye to him before the door slid close. Pekoyama walked over to him and handed over the files.

“Here you go,” she said as she seated herself by the table. “It’s a lot to go through, but as long as you learn the basics it should be alright. People don’t usually dig that deep into these things,” she said, in a surprisingly kind tone compared to the strict one before. Hinata didn’t know what had triggered the change in attitude, but it was a lot more relaxing than the suspicious staring.

Hinata nodded and began to read through the files quietly. There was a lot more details than he had expected, but he tried to keep himself focused on reading instead of getting stuck on the little stuff.

“About Komaeda… I think young master was trying to say that even if he seems weird, Komaeda tries his best to help others. He just doesn’t always know how to…,” Pekoyama said suddenly, startling Hinata. He hadn’t thought that Pekoyama knew Komaeda as well, and well enough to offer an opinion…

But if they were just acquaintances from work as Komaeda had said, and hadn’t known each other at all, then why would Kuzuryuu have accepted the demand that Hinata got to choose his own name? So maybe there was something he could learn from what Kuzuryuu had told him.

He glared at the papers as he felt his heart ache. He didn’t want to think about this, not anymore. It would be so much easier to think that Komaeda had just deceived him all along, played him like the fool he had been and that it was a better option to just leave and go… Just like Komaeda had told him to. Unless… if that had been for Hinata’s sake, then he… he would…

He bit on his lower lip again.

“Um, I know this is a weird question but… what do you think Komaeda thinks about himself?” Hinata asked quietly, and Pekoyama crossed her arms as she seemed to ponder his question.

“From what I’ve gathered, he doesn’t think too highly of himself and seems to think of himself more as a burden with his luck,” she said slowly, like she wasn’t entirely sure if what she was saying was right. Hinata just nodded meekly as he stared at the papers in his hands.

If… if there was a chance that Komaeda had been doing this all for him instead of betraying him, then what… what was he going to do?


 

Hinata stared at the train ticket in his hand. It was for the train that Komaeda had said would be the best for him to leave. It’d arrive at the station in half an hour, and would leave soon after that. He dug out the phone from his pocket to check if he had gotten an answer yet, but was met with nothing.

He sighed in relief; he had decided to leave the gun with Pekoyama when she offered it back, and it was a lot easier to breathe without it. He didn’t have to constantly worry about the people looking at him. Instead he was carrying a perfectly valid identification in case anyone even suspected him.

A lot of the weight from earlier today had left his shoulders, and he felt so much better walking through the station now. He had eaten on the way here as well, and everything felt perfectly okay now. There was nothing making him feel uncomfortable when he walked by people and he didn’t feel the anxiety with nearly as much the intensity as he had earlier. In fact, he felt at peace.

It wasn’t long till the train was going to leave, and despite the fact that hopping onto it would mean he was going to leave everything behind, he was surprised by how calm he felt. The important decision was just waiting to be made, but it was alright. He was alright no matter what happened.

He took a sip from the water bottle he had bought as he arrived to the correct platform. There was barely anyone there, since he was quite a bit early for the train. He walked to the nearest bench and sat down, leaning against the back of it and sighing. It felt almost absurd to be this calm, to not have all his nerves strung so high by the stress and fear. He glanced at the bag he had next to him; he had bought food for the trip, all sorts of snacks and drinks he had yet to taste.

He was just thinking about eating something when the phone beeped. Slowly he took out the phone from his pocket and opened the mail.

You hurt me a lot, and usually you didn’t even notice it. Even if you did, you usually wouldn’t understand what you even did wrong, which just usually made it worse. You would apologize without even understanding what you’d done wrong.’ Hinata read the message couple of times. He felt bad for still lying to Komaeda’s ex, when it’d have been better to leave her alone already. But she was the only one he knew from Komaeda’s life back at Kyoto. The message didn’t really tell him anything new; it was mostly the same things he had noticed as well, and what Kuzuryuu and Pekoyama had told him.

He was about to close the phone and put it back into his pocket, when it beeped again.

I know you didn’t mean to hurt me and probably thought it was best for me. I’d advise you to be more conscious of your own behavior or at least pay attention to how it affects other people… If you just can. I know you found someone new, and I hope they can be more understanding with you than I could be.

Hinata put the phone back into his pocket and sighed.

Chapter Text

It was hard to breathe.

Komaeda rolled over in the bed to lie on his side. He had thought he could just sleep the whole day, sleep the whole time that Hinata was gone until the last train to the south had left. But his nose kept getting stuffed and he was feeling uncomfortable constantly. It felt weird to have this much trouble sleeping now that he was getting better; he had slept a lot better earlier and he didn’t even remember waking up to his nose being stuffed.

Maybe… No, it was a stupid thought. It would have been way too much trouble for Hinata to have taken care of him even when he slept. There was no reason for the other to go so far for trash like him. A dry laughter escaped his lips only to bring out a coughing fit, one that didn’t ease before his eyes were all teary and throat hurt. He huddled up into a ball under the blankets to feel at least a bit warmer. He had been using Hinata’s blanket all these days, but the other had gotten a new one for himself from somewhere…

He glanced at the bed in front of him; actually, the blanket seemed to be from the car. So Hinata had taken his keys at some point… Hopefully he had returned them, otherwise it’d be a bit hard to get home from here…

… It felt pretty much impossible to fall asleep now. Though if he had understood right, he had been mostly sleeping for two days already, so maybe a third one was starting to be too much. He felt his stomach twist as he thought about staying awake though, just sitting here and waiting for the night to come.

If he at least had anything to distract his thoughts with… Then a memory passed through him; they had bought those books. He slowly slid out from under the blankets, the cold biting at him right away, and walked to the bag in the corner. Hinata hadn’t taken it with him, though from what Komaeda had gathered he had originally been planning on coming back, so he probably hadn’t even thought about the books.

Komaeda sat down on his knees by the bag and just looked at it for a moment. When they had chosen the books, they had been talking a lot; about the genres they liked, the authors they had read about and the books they had loved. A conversation filled with nothing but small talk for the most part, but right now Komaeda missed talking about stuff like that. He had never really felt like talking about stuff like that was that enjoyable, but with Hinata it had been… He had finally realized why people could spend hours talking about nonsense.

He sighed and dug one of the books out of the bag at random and wandered back to his bed. He moved his pillows from the way of the book, before laying down on his stomach and propping his torso up with the pillows, and opened the first page. It seemed to be a regular old detective story, so maybe it would distract him from the current situation. But it was hard to focus when his thoughts kept wandering off from the book.

Hopefully Hinata had gotten there alright, and everything had went as smoothly as possible. It should have, this was regular business for them so they were used to all of this. Komaeda didn’t exactly know all of the process, since he had never before needed to know.

Though, not that he needed now either but… it was hard to stop from worrying. Komaeda pressed his forehead against the book and let out a sigh. He had done his all to help Hinata, gotten him the papers and with them the independence to move on alone. This was much better for Hinata, so feeling regretful about it was… it was nothing but selfish. He had to remember this was the right option, and he should bury all the feelings trying to convince him otherwise.

He had hurt Hinata, and wasn’t trusted anymore. That’d just make him a burden on the way, and a cause of unneeded anxiety and stress instead of being useful. In the first place all he had had was nothing but money and the car, so by giving Hinata the money and the identification to be able to travel on his own, Komaeda had already replaced himself.

There was no way around it, no way to deny that this wasn’t for the best.

The words on the pages stopped making sense eventually as his focus kept dropping, and he closed the book defeatedly. After pushing his pillows back to their place, he closed his eyes to try and sleep again.

He had to stay here and not leave; he felt that otherwise he’d just end up chasing after Hinata.


 

Komaeda stared at the ceiling as he waited for the last minutes to roll by. Soon the last train should have left, and he’d have to give up on trying to chase after Hinata. There would be no other option left at that point.

He picked up the book from the nightstand again and scrolled to the place where he had left before. He had gotten halfway through the book already, despite his difficulties with focusing. A coughing fit hit him and he jumped up in his bed. It was easier to deal with them when he was sitting rather than lying down.

After it was over, he reached to take a tissue from the nightstand only to find out the box was empty. He started to get up; there was another box on the table in the room. The cold made his toes curl up and his body shudder, and he took the other blanket with him, wrapping it around his shoulders. He walked to the box and took a tissue from it after opening it.

Right as he blew his nose, there was a loud knock on the door. His heart jumped and he threw the tissue on the table as he rushed to open the door. The distance felt agonizingly long and he almost stumbled on his feet as the sudden rush made him feel dizzy, but he got to the door safely and clutched the handle for a few seconds, trying to get himself together before he opened it.

“Hinata-kun?” he asked slowly as he opened the door, but the person behind it smiled apologetically at him. Disappointment flushed through him and he tried to focus more on the confusion.

“I apologize, but it’s just me. I presume you’re alone now then?” The lady asked, and Komaeda struggled to remember her name. Hinata had mentioned it at some point. It might have been Sonia… He was just going to avoid having to call her by her name, just in case he remembered wrong.

“I… I am. I heard you’ve helped him take care of me, thank you for your kindness…,” Komaeda said politely as he bowed. The blanket drooped with him, and Sonia bowed back at him.

“Anything I can do to help. Are you feeling better?”

“Yes, I’m starting to be alright,” Komaeda said. He still kept shuddering in cold and his head was slightly aching, but then again he was a lot better than he had been these past couple of days. The lady’s face lit up in response and she clasped her hands together.

“That’s great to hear! Hinata-kun seemed to be so worried for your health that even I was starting to get worried. He seemed to feel very guilty for leaving you out for the night… Even I feel regretful, I should have offered more support than just a thermos of tea,” Sonia said and smiled softly. “I won’t bother your rest any longer. Is Hinata-kun coming back soon?” Komaeda turned to look slightly away from her; there was no reason to tell her the truth, but then again if she came back to ask for him again...

“I don’t think he’ll be back, he uh, had to leave,” Komaeda blurted out the words and smiled. “I’ll probably leave soon enough too. I’m really grateful for all you’ve done to us and I’m sure he appreciates it as well…” Sonia just tilted her head like she had questions, but seemed to decide against asking any of them.

“That’s a bit surprising… But I’ll wish for a speedy recovery for you, please rest as long as you need to,” she said and after the two of them exchanged goodbyes, she left and Komaeda closed the door. For a moment he just stood there, staring at the door like it was going to disappear at any given minute. Sonia was definitely suspicious; Komaeda could just hope that he hadn’t caused more trouble for Hinata.

Cold began to creep on him again and he began to walk back to the bed, taking the tissue box with him on the way. It was odd to have a stranger care so much, but apparently Sonia had helped Hinata a lot so he was… appreciative, even though it felt like a waste of effort. As he returned to under the blankets, he desperately tried not to think of how she had said Hinata had been worried. There was no reason for Hinata to have worried about him, certainly not…

And he had even thought Hinata might have come back. He glanced at the clock on the wall; the last train had gone now. He would have to forget it all now and think about returning to his life. Hopefully he could get his old job back, that would be the ideal… And then he would have to smooth things over with his ex, probably not get back together but at least somehow explain how come he returned to soon. He owed her at least that much. Then he’d have to get back to the house and…

He rolled to lie on his side as tears began to form in his eyes. He wouldn’t cry, it wouldn’t help anything. There was no helping it, this was just his usual luck and…

But he didn’t want to go back. He didn’t want to return to that house, he didn’t want that job anymore. He wanted to apologize, he wanted to make it all up, he wanted to continue traveling with Hinata. He shouldn’t have taken the gun, he should have realized it might cause some discomfort for Hinata and most of all mistrust.

Komaeda squeezed his eyes shut to desperately try and keep the tears in.

If there was just any way to return back in time, even to this morning, he’d want to at least say he was sorry for all that he had done. But as he had realized many times already, there was no way to do that. Everytime he made a mistake or his luck dealt it’s cards, he’d just have to deal with the consequences.

That was the reality.

The tears were starting to feel less intense, and he opened his eyes slowly. He couldn’t do anything to change this situation anymore.

Then he heard the door being opened with a key; he stood up from his bed in surprise. It was most likely the hotel staff, but there shouldn’t have been any reason for them to visit… Unless Sonia had been so worried about his health that she had reported it to the reception. He could hear the door swing open, and his heart thumped faster as he listened to the slow footsteps, like the person was hesitating.

And then Hinata walked into the room, looking at the ground with his lips pressed tightly together. For a moment Komaeda could not do anything but stare, grasping at the blanket wrapped around him.

“I’m back,” Hinata eventually said, breaking the heavy silence between them. His voice was low, and he wasn’t still looking at Komaeda, but he was back. Komaeda took a few steps closer to the other.

“Welcome back…,” he said softly, and leaned a bit down to look at Hinata’s downcast face and smiled. It was small, but the corner of Hinata’s lips twitched like he had almost reflexively smiled back. Komaeda felt his mind being overwhelmed by the relief; Hinata had returned, he could apologize and maybe even make things better again. He hadn’t lost everything to his luck again.

The tears he had been holding back earlier came back so suddenly that he didn’t even realize it before they were already falling. This time he dropped his face to look at the ground to make sure Hinata wouldn’t see his crying face. He shouldn’t cry, this was just going to be a bother for the other. But the tears kept dropping despite his attempts to make himself stop.

“... Thank you for coming back, Hinata-kun…,” he muttered, trying his best to conceal his trembling voice. “Oh, I guess that isn’t your name anymore...,” he said and tried to laugh, but it came out weird and awkward. He could see Hinata walk over to him, and he dropped his head even lower to hide it.

“No, you can… you can still call me Hinata,” the other said just as awkwardly. Both of their words were like fumbling pieces rolling from their mouths, like they were desperately trying to make a normal conversation again, like the ones they had had just a few days ago. Hinata suddenly put his hand to Komaeda’s shoulder, making him flinch in surprise, before hesitantly pulling Komaeda closer.

It wasn’t exactly a hug; Hinata had just pulled him close enough that Komaeda’s face was now resting against his shoulder. But it was more than Komaeda could have asked for, and he pressed his face against his shoulder, seeking more of the gentle warmth.

“I’m… I’m sorry,” he whispered, his words muffled, but he could feel Hinata nod hesitantly. It made it clear that the other hadn’t forgiven him yet, but the fact that he still had returned...

Komaeda had to bite down on his lower lip to stop himself from saying what he shouldn’t say. This was not the right time; in fact there would never be a right time for it and these feelings were something that he had to keep hidden, buried under everything else.

“I’ll be better this time…,” he whispered instead. “I promise.”

Chapter Text

Hinata slowly slipped his hand from Komaeda’s shoulder to his hair to pull the other closer to him. He could feel his shoulder getting wet from the tears; he wasn’t sure if Komaeda had been trying to hide the fact that he was crying, and Hinata didn’t really care if he had been. He could feel the other’s hand slowly latch on to the back of his shirt.

It felt like Komaeda was very hesitant to take support from him; it seemed like Komaeda would pull away any second and pretend like everything was fine again. To prevent this, Hinata slowly moved them so that he could fall into the bed on his back, pulling Komaeda with him. The other flinched in surprise as they fell, but didn’t fight back.

Hinata closed his eyes; he hadn’t slept that much these past couple of days, so lying in Komaeda’s bed that was still warm felt really relaxing. Lying here like this, he could feel that Komaeda still had pretty high fever. His hands were resting on the bed, clutching on the sheets.

“You shouldn’t have come back,” Komaeda’s whisper broke the silence suddenly, and Hinata frowned.

“You don’t need to tell me that,” he said. “You made it pretty clear already that I should have left. And it probably would have been the better option to go but I already decided to come back… So it’d better… better that I don’t end up regretting this.”

“But...” Hinata cut Komaeda’s response short as he sat up, pushing the other with him and away from him. Komaeda’s cheeks were red, either from the sickness or from the crying.

“You don’t make my decisions for me, alright? I chose to return to you, and I’ll also be the one to decide if it was a mistake. So you just… shut up,” Hinata said firmly and Komaeda lowered his face before giving him a small nod. His hair dropped enough to reveal his ears that were red as well; he hadn’t probably taken the cold medicine while Hinata was gone. Hinata bit on his lower lip.

“Unless you wanted to get rid of me, then I’ll just go,” he said quietly and Komaeda’s head shot up as he shook his head. He kept opening and closing his mouth like he was trying to find the words to say.

“That… of course not. I’m really happy you... decided to come back,” he eventually said softly before pressing his lips tightly together with a frown.

“But? You think I would have been better off without you? That you’re more of a burden than of use?” Hinata asked and Komaeda flinched in surprise, looking at him like he was trying to figure out how Hinata knew. Hinata sighed in response and got up from the bed. “You’re still sick, get under the blankets while I get your medicine.”

To his surprise, Komaeda did just as he had told him. Hinata got the medicine and a glass of water and walked back to the bed, sitting on the edge of it.

“Here you go,” he said as he gave the items to Komaeda. Komaeda nodded and thanked him, before taking the medicine. The silence between them was heavy; it felt like it was filled with words and thoughts they both wanted to say but didn’t know how to. Hinata rubbed his hands together and frowned. He felt like he should say something, and not just leave the discussion there.

“But it’s true…,” Komaeda eventually mumbled, so quietly that Hinata almost missed it. He bit on his lower lip in frustration.

“And I came back. This is not a question of what was the best for me or what’s the easiest option. I chose what I wanted,” Hinata said before he gave a small smile to Komaeda. “Let’s leave it at that.”

Komaeda nodded, lowering his face again and Hinata turned to look at his own bed, pretending that he didn’t notice the other was crying. The sickness was clearly making the other more emotional than usual. He noticed a small book on the nightstand, and he picked it up. It was one of the detective books they had bought.

“Has this been good?” he asked in an attempt to change the topic.

“Ah, well, I’m halfway through and I’m pretty sure I know who’s the culprit is so…,” Komaeda answered hesitantly, and then seemingly getting more couraged and started to explain more. Hinata listened and commented patiently.

It wasn’t quite as easy as before, but at least they could still talk.


 

Komaeda had ended up falling asleep before Hinata, after they had talked for an hour slowly and tentatively, like they were trying to test the waters between them. It was all awkward and Hinata wasn’t… he hadn’t still completely forgiven the other, and on some occasions it felt difficult to hold back the frustration in their conversation, when the topic went close to something they had been talking about few days before.

Hinata sighed as he rubbed his face. It was entirely possible that he had made a stupid decision today. He had spent these past few days thinking how it had been a mistake on his part to trust Komaeda, and yet he had returned. He didn’t trust Komaeda anymore, yet he had returned. There was no way to logically think this was a good decision.

He knew that but…

He didn’t really understand why he had returned, the more he thought about it the less he understood. Of course he could leave now, especially since Komaeda was sleeping but…

Hinata knew that this was probably a mistake, but he just didn’t feel any regret for coming back. He could already be well on his way to the north, away from the danger, but he preferred to be here, taking the risk of traveling slower and with… with Komaeda.

No matter how much he thought about it, he couldn’t deny that the reason he had returned was Komaeda. There was no way the car was more comfortable way of getting around in comparison to train, not to mention faster. But that was what confused him the most; even if Komaeda hadn’t betrayed him and everything had been exactly like before, there still was no explanation to why he’d so much prefer this decision to the point of not regretting it even one bit.

That should be near impossible; no matter what you chose you’d always at least slightly regret not choosing the other option. It didn’t matter if it was the better option, people were bound to regret the things they had to give up for the choice. It was so rare that a decision ended up being so good that you wouldn’t even think about what ifs, and yet here he was.

He got up from the chair and quietly walked over to Komaeda’s bed, sitting on the edge of it as gently as he could to not wake the other up. There was something pulling him towards the other, and he couldn’t understand what it was.

As he looked at Komaeda sleeping, his nose getting stuffed up again slowly and shifting uncomfortably under the blankets, he wondered if it was some sort of pity or worry. Despite how well put-together he had seemed when they had first met, Komaeda seemed to be a lot more fragile and vulnerable than Hinata would have even guessed.

But he had ended up being a lot more… dangerous as well. Or perhaps dangerous wasn’t the right word... Hinata bit on his lower lip as he thought. Unpredictable might be closer to what he was thinking about. Despite the gun and the possibility of danger, it wasn’t like Komaeda had anyhow put Hinata in any danger.

It was hard to believe it could be pity, after all. Komaeda wasn’t that bad off that he would feel that much responsibility over it. And he didn’t think he was that kind in the first place...

Komaeda groaned in his sleep; he was sweating quite a lot and his hair was sticking to his face. Softly Hinata brushed aside the hair from his face and let his hand linger on Komaeda’s hair. There was… he felt his heart squeeze, again, as it had a few times before already. It was a weird feeling, something he really hadn’t known before or at least he didn’t remember it. It felt unfamiliar but it was also comforting, like some longing had been satisfied.

He slowly moved his hand to Komaeda’s cheek. It was still warm, even though the fever had gone down considerably. It shouldn’t take that long to pass by completely… His mind was starting to question his motives, and he didn’t really know why he was doing it, but he hesitantly began to stroke Komaeda’s cheek with the back of his fingers. It was easier to relax when Komaeda was asleep, but there was no reason for him to do this…

Suddenly Komaeda shifted in his sleep, his eyes fluttering open slowly as he was still half asleep.

“Hinata-kun…?” he mumbled softly, and Hinata quickly pulled his hand back and began to reach for the tissue box on the table.

“You need to blow your nose,” he whispered quietly as he passed one tissue to Komaeda. The other got slightly up from his bed to do as asked for. He was so honest when he wasn’t fully awake. Hinata stared at his hand with a frown; there was an unexplainable feeling lingering in the back of his mind, like a memory just within his reach but whenever he tried to grab a hold of it, it slipped away and left him feeling frustrated.

The feeling was just there, making all his nerves tingle so why didn’t he know what it was?

Chapter Text

Komaeda pressed his lips tight together as he stared into his mug of tea that Hinata had ordered from the room service. Waking up and realizing that Hinata really had returned was… it had made him inexplicably happy, but at the same time there was the heavy feeling of guilt hanging over him for feeling that way.

It was obviously not a good decision from Hinata, so to feel happy over it felt horribly selfish. He should have prioritized Hinata’s needs and especially his hope over everything else. And to choose staying with an hopeless person like Komaeda… It wouldn’t help carry Hinata over to the end of the world, to the brink of despair where he could really reach the hope he was capable of.

So to feel happy over Hinata returning was illogical, it went against everything he wanted and Hinata needed. He had planned everything out to help the other, so why was he glad that it had all been for naught?

“Drink it before it gets cold, it won’t help your throat otherwise,” Hinata suddenly called out to him, sounding frustrated. Komaeda smiled apologetically at him before taking a sip of the tea. Hinata just huffed and returned to writing. He had been doing that for a while, sitting by the table and writing into a notebook. He hadn’t really explained what and Komaeda felt it was too intrusive to ask so it remained a mystery.

They hadn’t talked a lot today, actually. Hinata hadn’t seemed too conversational, and other than helping him with food and medicine he had been just quietly doing stuff on his own. They had had that small conversation yesterday, but the more he thought about it yesterday had been the odd one out. This kind of atmosphere was clearly what he should have expected.

He glanced at Hinata as he thought about what had happened yesterday, and he felt his cheeks getting warmer. Breaking down like that had been probably a horrible inconvenience to Hinata, and he’d have to do his best to refrain from that kind of outbursts… Komaeda pressed his lips together again as he thought about the fact that Hinata had hugged him. The other truly was a kind person, to try and calm him down when he was crying despite what he had done.

So he shouldn’t… he shouldn’t expect anything out of the other being kind. Anything was already more than he deserved, so he had to refrain from reading into things just because of his own feelings.

Komaeda took a sip of the tea as he began to feel awkward. It was starting to cool down, and he decided to focus his attention on drinking it while it was still somewhat warm. It was still incredibly sweet; there was a lot more honey than it really needed and drinking it down in big gulps was… a bit difficult.

Overly sweet, really.

When he was finished drinking it, he placed the teacup on the nightstand and leaned his back against the headboard. For a moment the room felt heavy from the silence, the scratching of pen against paper being the only sound to be heard.

“Hey, Hinata-kun…,” Komaeda started hesitantly, and the other lifted his head from the notebook and tilted his head. He didn’t seem upset about being bothered, so Komaeda flashed a small smile at him in hopes that it’d keep up Hinata’s relatively neutral mood. Hinata ended up frowning at him in response. “I’m sorry to bother, but I was thinking… uhm, might it be possible to see my marble…?” Komaeda asked slowly as he dropped his eyes to his hands.

Maybe he shouldn’t have asked.

“... Sure,” Hinata said eventually as he got up from the table and walked to the bed, taking the marble from his pocket on the way. He sat on the edge of the bed and held it out to Komaeda. Komaeda just smiled softly as he looked at the marble. It felt like such a long time since he had last seen it. He had been kind of worried that Hinata had thrown it away, but to know it was still here made him feel… reassured. It was a weird feeling, like something unexplainable was telling him everything was going to be alright but…

He pressed his lips tightly together; the marble shone slightly in the light of the room, reminding him that it truly was made of glass. It was so fragile and so easily broken…

But as long as he kept his hands off, it would be fine. He’d just have to remember his place, his role in all of this. And if his conviction was to waver again, if he was about to think he’d be allowed to try and take what he wanted, he would have to remember this marble. His happiness, what he wanted had to stay hidden.

“Thank you,” Komaeda said as he tore his eyes away from the marble, and instead watched Hinata as the other returned it back to the pocket. He expected Hinata to leave right away but instead Hinata took out another marble from his pocket. Komaeda stared at it; it was made of clear transparent glass, but it was surrounded and almost covered completely by yellow and red strikes, and there were small drops of paint that seemed to shimmer in the light. The… sun?

“I haven’t really looked at my own marble,” Hinata wondered aloud as he spun it around in his fingers. “I’ve seen yours a lot more.”

“I don’t think I have seen it before...,” Komaeda answered, feeling a bit hesitant to look at the marble now. Instead he looked at Hinata again; the other was frowning as he glared at the piece of glass.

“There has been no reason to show it. Taking this one was just… just dumb sentimentality from my part in the first place,“ Hinata said and sighed heavily, as he pushed the marble back into his pocket. “Enough about that. I was thinking about this earlier but should I call the reception and extend the stay once more? It’s not like we can leave tomorrow yet…” Komaeda shook his head. Originally they would have had to leave already yesterday, but because of his sickness they had pushed the date back.

“I’ll be good to go tomorrow,” Komaeda said and tried to smile encouragingly. Hinata just gave him a suspecting look before sighing and getting up from the bed.

“Big talk from someone who has been under blankets the whole day,” he said and shrugged. “But if you think you’re good to go then who am I to argue... Although, if your fever goes up then we’re not going. It’ll problematic if you’ll just get sick again.” Komaeda smiled awkwardly at Hinata; the other was probably completely tired of looking after him already. He’d really have to work on getting better.

“I’ll be fine,” he said as cheerily as he could, but Hinata didn’t seem convinced at all. “I’ve been an inconvenience for too long already.”

“That’s not… You know, whatever. I’m going to take a bath now, if you’re really feeling better then you should go after me,” Hinata said as he began to walk towards the bathroom. Komaeda just nodded and Hinata closed the door behind him after seeing that.

For a moment Komaeda just stared at the door, before pulling up his knees and burying his face into them, the soft blanket covering his face. He had to remember.


 

Komaeda sat on the edge of his bed and continued to dry his hair with the towel in his thoughts. Hinata was once again sitting by the table, writing into his notebook. It was already getting dark out so they would probably go to sleep soon, so there wasn’t much Komaeda thought he could do. He stopped drying his hair for a moment as he started to think.

Hinata had been different ever since he came back. Not a lot, but there was certainly something different in the way he acted, like he was somehow deliberately trying to be more patient. It could just be his imagination, it wasn’t like before Hinata had been snapping at him over everything either, but… There was a feeling that something had changed in the way Hinata viewed him, but… it was probably just his imagination, really.

“How about you dry your hair before your fever rises again?” Hinata called loudly, snapping him out of his thoughts. He was glaring at Komaeda, his writing hand resting on top of the notebook. Komaeda smiled at him apologetically as he continued drying his hair.

“Hinata-kun, it’s like you’re a mom…,” Komaeda said after a while, and he heard the other growl.

“Wasn’t it you who said that you were going to be okay to go tomorrow and not be sick?!” Hinata said, and it even seemed like he was huffing. Komaeda chuckled awkwardly, and Hinata settled to pouting slightly. Komaeda was feeling a bit better suddenly; it wasn’t that he had wanted to make Hinata anyhow frustrated, but… for some reason interacting like this was pleasant in it’s own way. It was like they were able to talk about nonsense again.

And that… made it harder to ask the next question.

“Um, Hinata-kun. Can I ask what you did with the gun…? I noticed you didn’t have it anymore…,” he said hesitantly. Hinata froze for a second, before giving him a glare as he leaned back on his chair.

“Why so? Do you miss it?” he asked sharply, a cold look in his eyes. Komaeda shook his head quickly.

“No, I don’t feel any sentiment towards it,” he answered. “I was just… mostly wondering. I know you may not believe me, but I really brought it with me hoping to protect you with it. But if you deemed it unnecessary then…” His words faded towards the end as he realized he hadn’t really thought more than that. Hinata was still glaring at him, but he seemed to be more like he was wondering something now.

“... I left it to your acquaintance,” Hinata eventually said as he leaned back forward on his chair, picking up his pen. “I don’t need something like that to protect me...” It felt like he stopped himself from saying something more, but Komaeda wasn’t going to ask more. He lowered the towel from his hair, deciding it was already enough.

There was definitely something different about Hinata, but he didn’t have any idea what it was. But at least this partly explained why Hinata didn’t seem as paranoid around him, when the gun really was gone. Ironically, it had returned exactly to where Komaeda had gotten it in the first place… He laughed dryly to himself, getting a side-eyed glance from Hinata, and he dropped to his side to lie on the bed. Maybe that was for the best.

He rolled to his back and stared at the ceiling.

There was something weird, but he didn’t really know what to think about that, and even less he knew what to do about that. It wasn’t like he could just question Hinata about it, and as long as his feeling was this vague he couldn’t even properly think about it. It could very well be that he was the one who was being different, or was looking at the things differently. As long as he didn’t know what it was, he could just wait and hope it would make sense at some point.

The most important part to everything was that Hinata was here again. And he had to make that matter.


 

Komaeda couldn’t fall asleep. It was probably to be expected, after sleeping so much these past days. The room was quiet, and he had been enjoying that for a while. It was somehow calming to just lie in bed in the darkness and just listen to the silence, occasionally disturbed by sounds from outside the hotel or Hinata rolling around in his bed.

Komaeda sat up in his bed, since it wasn’t like was going to fall asleep anytime soon. At least his fever was pretty much gone now. He didn’t feel even close to as weak as he had before, and even though he was still sniffling, even that was getting better. He glanced at Hinata; the other was sleeping on his back currently. He had been tossing around a lot earlier but his dreams seemed to have calmed down. After a moment of hesitation, Komaeda got up from his bed and as quietly as he could, he walked over to Hinata’s bed and quietly sat down on the edge of it.

This was a bad idea, he knew that. He had reminded himself of this already today, that he had to keep his distance, but…

Hinata didn’t react at all to him sitting down on the edge of the bed; he seemed to be deep asleep. Komaeda pressed his lips together as he slowly reached his hand to touch the hairs resting on the pillow. The surprisingly soft strands escaped from his fingers as soon as he tried to lift them up, dropping back on the pillow. His mind was telling him to stop already, to return to his own bed and leave Hinata alone, but instead his hand sought out the hair more and he slipped his hand into the hair, stroking it gently.

Komaeda didn’t even know what he was doing anymore, as he began to play with the hair, letting it slip through his fingers every time he stroked it. It was like a small game, observing as one by one the strands would slip through.

As he once again stroked Hinata’s hair, suddenly his thumb lightly brushed against Hinata’s cheek, and the other groaned. He didn’t have any time to react before Hinata opened his eyes.

“I’m sorry, did I wake you up…?” his first reaction to say was, and the other seemed to snap awake, as he slapped Komaeda’s hand away and sat up.

“What are you…?” Hinata asked, clearly bewildered and confused.

“I couldn’t fall asleep and I got bored… I’m sorry for bothering you, I’m sure it’s horrible to be touched by someone like me without your permission,” Komaeda said. He expected Hinata to snap at him, yell at him to get away from him. It was a reasonable reaction to be upset, when you woke up to something like this. But the reaction he expected never came, instead Hinata stared at Komaeda’s hands with a conflicted look on his face, like he was upset but couldn’t express it.

Or… didn’t want to?

“Just, return to your own bed, okay?” Hinata said, and for some reason it sounded like he was feeling guilty and regretful, when Komaeda was the one who had been stroking his hair while he was asleep and not the other way around. He did what the other said though, feeling confused and conflicted himself now.

Hinata had woken up, like he had feared, but this was nothing he had expected to happen. The other should have been upset. Komaeda would have understood and accepted that.

But he couldn’t understand this reaction. Instead of being met with anger and repulsion he had gotten confusion and guilt, and it was making his thoughts go blank. He returned back under his blanket quietly, even though Hinata was already awake so there was no need to be careful. He glanced at the other; Hinata was still sitting on his bed, staring at his own hand with a frown. When he noticed Komaeda had returned to his bed, he quickly turned his eyes the other way and lied back down, his back turned to Komaeda.

The awkward atmosphere hung between them for long, with both of them seeming to have trouble falling asleep.

Chapter Text

Hinata pushed the last of his clothes into his bag before taking a moment to sit back and sigh. As Komaeda had said, his fever was gone already and even though he was still sniffling, there wasn’t much Hinata could say about that since they had made their deal. The other was currently out at the reception and should come back soon… Without thinking about it much, Hinata pulled out his own marble from his pocket. As soon as light hit it, it began to glitter brightly.

It really was pretty, now that he took time to look at it. But it also bothered him to look at it; he knew how much sentimentality he had had when he bought it originally, and thinking about that was almost embarrassing. It was nothing but a piece of colorful glass, that’s all… He heard familiar steps approaching the door to the room, and he quickly pushed the marble back into his pocket before Komaeda opened the door.

“I checked us out now, we can go when you’re ready,” Komaeda said, glancing around in the room like he was checking what was left. Hinata nodded as he stood up from his chair and picked up his bag.

“I packed all my stuff already, let’s just go,“ he said. Komaeda nodded in response as he took the other bag from the floor. Komaeda had taken most of their stuff into the car already, including the books and the blanket, so these two bags were the only thing left. For a brief second, Hinata stopped at the doorway to look back into the room before closing the door behind him. Komaeda had stopped to wait for him, and only started to head towards the elevator after Hinata gave him an affirming nod.

It felt like everything had gone horribly during the time they had been in Tokyo, and it would probably make sense to be relieved to finally leave. All their plans had gone awry and Hinata couldn’t help but still feel upset over everything bad that had happened and the good that had not but…

Hinata glanced at his hand. He couldn’t understand what was happening; he hadn’t been able to sleep much after being woken up by Komaeda last night. It was like he was still in shock about it; maybe getting upset would have had let him blow off this weird feeling on his mind, but when he had thought about yelling at Komaeda, the feeling of hypocrisy had stunned him. Just the night before that, he had been doing the exact same thing to Komaeda, so what right did he have to get upset? He bit his lip as his thoughts slowly turned into the confusing mess again. He wanted to understand why he had done what he did; maybe then he would understand more why Komaeda had done the exact same thing.

What he had noticed was that Komaeda had been a lot more wary around him ever since last night, and it was starting to stress him out. Komaeda had been more careful ever since he had returned in the first place and it had felt more like natural distance, but now he’d flinch away noticeably if Hinata even passed by him. Like they were complete strangers… no, even worse than that. It was like Komaeda was somehow afraid of him, or touching him…

Hinata frowned as they stepped out of the elevator. If anyone should be scared, it should be him. No, he was still kind of scared. He had decided to try and see what was going on in Komaeda’s mind, to try and understand if there was an explanation for all his actions instead of running away to the North by himself, but… he couldn’t shake off the feeling of uncertainty. There was still so much he didn’t understand and that made Komaeda unpredictable to him.

So there was no way he could feel safe in this situation. But still Komaeda was the one jumping like Hinata was the one who had gun hidden on him. He stopped himself from laughing dryly.

A silence had been hanging between them the whole time as they walked, and Hinata lifted his eyes from the ground when they were starting to get close to the car. It was so weird to look at the car again after so much time had passed. So many things had happened, and looking at it now was making Hinata somehow feel so distant from reality. It was hard to believe this was the same car as the one they had arrived in; everything had changed so dramatically that it just didn’t look the same.

He didn’t even notice he had stopped still, before Komaeda called out to him hesitantly. He didn’t answer him, and instead he just nodded before rushing to the passenger’s side of the car. After dropping off his bag into the backseat, he got into the car and closed the door with a bit too much force. Komaeda didn’t mention anything about it, and instead just seated himself in the driver’s seat and turned on the car.

Hinata leaned towards the window, resting his forehead against it as they started to drive away. Everything felt so different, but for some reason he felt a bit calmer now that they were in the car again. The quiet humming of the engine was relaxing to listen to, and for a moment he could push away all the confusion from his mind about the current situation.

Instead he focused on his thoughts in the fact that they were once again heading towards the North; farther away from everything. Because that was more important right now.


 

Hinata closed the book after he had finished reading the last page, and let out a sigh as he dropped the book to the backseat sloppily. The ending of it had been nothing but disappointing, to say the least. It had even started out so well… He looked out of the window lazily as he shifted slightly in his seat to get a bit more comfortable.

“Was it bad?” Komaeda asked. Hinata glanced at him before shrugging.

“It wasn’t that bad but the ending just disappointed me…,” he said after a moment of silence. “I don’t know how to explain it really, I just didn’t like it,” he added as an afterthought. They had been mostly quiet on the way, with the radio being the only sound filling the car.

“Then I think I’ll have to read it,” Komaeda said and Hinata gave him a questioning look. “To understand why the ending was disappointing.”

“Ah, well. I guess,” Hinata said shortly, frowning slightly. There was that weird feeling in the back of his head again, and he wanted to get rid of it. The radio had been fixed on some boring talk show for a while now, and it didn’t really help distract his thoughts… He didn’t really want to read another book right away, since reading too much in the car would sometimes make him feel sick. He shifted in his seat uncomfortably as he looked around to find something to distract himself with.

“...? Are you looking for something?” Komaeda asked eventually and Hinata stopped his squirming around immediately.

“I, uh, was just thinking about how you don’t seem to have any CD’s in your car…,” Hinata made up an excuse on the spot.

“Ahh, the show right now is kind of boring, isn’t it?” Komaeda said as he reached to change the channel. “I usually listen to the radio to… well, to get some sort of forecast on my luck. Whether I’m lucky and they will play something good or if I’ll be unlucky and have something boring…,” Komaeda explained and Hinata nodded slowly, even though he wasn’t sure he understood why the other would forcibly listen to something he didn’t like.

The radio started to blast out some music, and Komaeda glanced at him like he was confirming if this was okay. Hinata just nodded quickly; it didn’t help distract him anymore than the talk show, but at least it was better in terms of quality. He turned to look outside of the window. They had been driving for almost two hours, so Komaeda would probably pull off to some station for a break. Or at least, Komaeda had stopped by a station every couple hours before. There was no saying if something had changed…

Hinata shook his head slightly as he leaned back on his seat. He was getting restless sitting in the car, with no way to avoid the confusing thoughts. He’d much rather keep them far away from his mind, since as long as he didn’t have any understanding of what was even going on he couldn’t get any hold onto his thoughts. Right now it was just an inconvenience.

Without thinking much, he dug out his marble from his pocket and began to roll it around between his fingers. Everytime he tried to think about Komaeda he felt like he understood less; there was no reason for why he had returned, why he was worried for the other, why he had sat on the edge of Komaeda’s bed while the other slept. All these actions just boiled down to his lack of understanding his own actions. It was like he was constantly going against the logical decisions he had arrived to in his thoughts, without any reason why.

He glared at the marble like it was somehow guilty of causing him this confusion, but in response it just shimmered slightly from the small ray of light that shone through the window momentarily before clouds covered up the sun again. It was quite illogical to even think looking at the marble would solve anything, but he felt a bit relaxed. It was just a piece of glass after all, and even with all the sentimentality packed into it didn’t change the situation. He closed his fist around it gently as he sighed.

“Do you like the marble?” Komaeda asked suddenly, surprising Hinata. He stared at Komaeda for a moment before turning his eyes back to the marble again, opening his fist to reveal it again. The sun peeked slightly from behind the clouds, making it shine again. Hinata looked at it for a while, before a small smile got into his lips.

“Yeah, I guess it’s pretty…,” he said. Komaeda didn’t say anything in response, but he gave him a satisfied nod. Hinata pushed the marble back into his pocket, feeling it clack slightly against the other marble as he did.

They were just pretty pieces of glass, that’s all they were.

Chapter Text

Komaeda stepped out of the car after parking the car, and faced the gas station. On the other side of the car, Hinata slammed the door shut before crossing his arms over his chest, shivering from the cold.

“Is it too cold?” Komaeda asked and Hinata shook his head so quickly that it seemed like he had been expecting the question.

“It’s just the difference between the car and the outside air. Nothing I can’t handle,” Hinata said curtly before heading towards the gas station. Komaeda just looked after him for few seconds, before shrugging and following after. There was no reason for Hinata to lie, so he decided not to pursue the matter. The other had seemed a bit irked for a while now too, and he definitely didn’t want to upset him so he tried to keep a low profile. Hinata had also been writing in his mysterious notebook again, and he wasn’t too sure if it was part of the reason to his annoyance.

He got to the inside of the station just a little bit after Hinata, but the other had already vanished. The station was a bit bigger than usually and had a separate shop portion to it, and the amount of people was pretty high compared to normal too so it was easy to lose sight of people. Most likely Hinata had disappeared to the bathroom, so Komaeda wasn’t too worried about that and focused on getting some food for them.

He was stumped in front of the lunchboxes when Hinata returned to him.

“Ah, Hinata-kun! I was just thinking about you. I thought I’d get some food for us, but I wasn’t too sure what you liked,” Komaeda explained, and Hinata frowned as he stepped a bit closer to look at the boxes. Komaeda subtly took a step farther away from him in response, to avoid the awkward feeling creeping in his mind. They hadn’t really talked about what had happened last night, and he wasn’t sure what Hinata was thinking about it. He lowered his eyes to the bottom shelf as he felt his cheeks get a bit warmer.

He’d have to get these thoughts out of his mind.

“I guess this is fine,” Hinata said suddenly as he took one of the boxes and handed it to Komaeda. Komaeda took the box, carefully avoiding touching Hinata’s fingers in the process, and gave the other the best smile he managed to do. Hinata returned his smile by squinting his eyes at him before walking off.

Komaeda sighed in relief as he resumed looking for stuff. There was weird tension in his mind whenever Hinata was near now, and being alone made him feel a little less… jittery. It was a weird, new feeling of anxiousness he didn’t really know how to deal with, so avoiding it for now felt like the easiest option.

He glanced at Hinata who was at the magazine rack, holding a few magazines in his hand already. He seemed to be a lot more interested in the magazines now than he had been the first time they bought some, and Komaeda could only think that maybe he was looking for something. He kept looking at Hinata for a few seconds before shaking his head and walking down the aisle.

He had to focus.


 

Komaeda tried not to pay attention to the pile of magazines Hinata had piled on the backseat. There might be even ten of them; he hadn’t counted really, but Hinata was really focused on reading one of them and he decided to just let it go. It wasn’t like there was any downside to having the magazines.

He leaned back on his seat and began to think about where they should spend the night. He had checked a few places beforehand, but they were moving a bit slower than he had anticipated so he was starting to feel it’d be already evening by the time they got to any of them, and most of his options didn’t have their reception open that late. He tried to remember all the motels that were on the way, just so they would have a backup plan. Depending on the time, they might have to take a little detour from the planned path.

He glanced at the clock. They had been on the move for about three and half hours now, counting their stop at the gas station. If they hurried, they might be in time… but he didn’t really want to rush either.

Hinata threw the magazine he was holding into the backseat and grabbed another one, and glanced at Komaeda who was deep in thought.

“What is it?” Hinata asked, frowning at him. Komaeda shook his head.

“I was just thinking about our lodging for tonight. There might be a possibility we don’t reach the next hotel in time, would you mind lodging in a motel? I know it’s not as clean and...”

“Yeah, yeah. It’s okay, I don’t really care about that,” Hinata said as he shook his hand dismissively and opened the magazine he had taken. He began to browse it through; he had mostly skimmed through the last one as well, seemingly not interested in most of what he saw. Komaeda returned his attention to the motels he could remember. If he couldn’t remember a fitting place within a good distance, he could just check on his phone… Provided Hinata gave him permission.

Well, the right amount money and they would get a place from somewhere, certainly.

Komaeda nodded quietly to himself as he got his plan done, and returned his full attention to the road. The traffic was pretty quiet, not a lot of people travelled during the winter, but the snow was also slowing them down as well, so there was not really anything to gain from the light traffic. He hummed quietly to himself in tune with the music from the radio.

It was calm and peaceful, like usually when he was driving, but the fact that he had company - company he wanted to be there - made it feel special. Hinata was browsing the pages of the magazine lazily, the paper rustling whenever he turned the page.

Komaeda glanced at Hinata from the corner of his eye, to watch the other read his magazine. Hinata seemed almost bored, leaning his elbow against the door and his face on his hand, while changing the pages with his free hand. Komaeda pressed his lips together naturally as he looked at the other, and forcibly turned his eyes back to the road.

The silence kept hanging over them for a while longer, a few more songs passed by that Komaeda hummed along to, when all of a sudden Hinata flinched in his seat, now grasping at the magazine with his both hands as he seemed to get more and more distressed, staring at the pages. Komaeda couldn’t see from this angle what he was looking at, but Hinata was clearly getting increasingly anxious by what he was reading, and it didn’t take a genius to realize he was about to panic as his breathing started to get uneven.

Komaeda bit his lip as he realized he’d have to find some place to stop the car as soon as he could, and then Hinata threw the magazine to the windshield and backed in his chair like he was trying to get away from it.

“Hinata-kun?” Komaeda asked as calmly and gently as he could, but the other didn’t respond, instead he just buried his face into his hands and his breathing began to grow completely out of control. Komaeda turned away from the main road as soon as he could, and stopped his car on the edge of the road after riding it down for a little way. Hinata’s breathing was getting wheezy, his face still covered by his hands.

Komaeda took off his seatbelt to turn towards Hinata, and for a moment he just stared helplessly as he tried to understand what was the best thing for him to do in this situation. This was different than the panic attack Hinata had had before, he wasn’t saying anything and Komaeda couldn’t even see his face. Judging by the sound of it, Hinata was probably crying as well under his hands, and Komaeda hesitantly tried to reach out to touch Hinata’s shoulder.

As soon as he did, the other winced away from him and right after slapped his hand away from him.

“Don’t touch me!” he screamed, and Komaeda flinched back as well, bewildered. The other looked completely terrified, and to see Hinata look at him again with eyes full of fear was more than enough to make Komaeda back off. He glanced at the magazine Hinata had thrown away.

“I’ll dispose of this,” he said gently as he reached for the magazine. Hinata jumped and almost reached to stop him, but seemed to decide against it as soon as his eyes met with the magazine again and he covered his face again. Komaeda took the magazine, and opened the door to get out of the car. He stepped into the outside air, and glanced back at Hinata as he took a lighter out of his pocket and set the magazine on fire.

“Hinata-kun, if you can look here for just a second,” he called softly to the other, holding the burning magazine clearly in view. At first Hinata didn’t react at all to his words, his panic attack having completely taken him and his breathing over. But when the fire began to crack quietly he slowly glanced from the between of his fingers. The magazine was already halfway burned, and Komaeda would have to drop it soon if he didn’t want to burn his hand. Hinata’s eyes widened at the sight of the burning magazine, and his breath seemed to stop for a moment completely.

His breathing soon returned back to the uneven gasping of air, but it seemed like Hinata was starting to try and take control of it again, slowly but steadily calming down. Komaeda dropped the magazine to the ground in the meantime, and watched as the remains of it slowly burned away, leaving only a small piece left. He didn’t know what it had been that had triggered Hinata’s panic attack, but now he knew the cover for the magazine he needed to keep away from Hinata…

And what he really wanted to check out, to understand what had caused this.


 

A silence loomed over them as Komaeda drove to the parking lot of the first motel they came across. Hinata seemed still a bit anxious, but he had calmed down from the panic and was mostly just distant now. Komaeda turned to look at him after parking the car.

“I’ll go get a room for us, do you want to come with me or wait here?” he asked as tenderly as he could.

“I’ll… stay here…,” Hinata said quietly, staring out of the window, quite blatantly avoiding eye contact with him. Komaeda just nodded and got up from the car, before heading towards the small office building to the side of the motel.

He glanced at the clock. It wasn’t even evening yet. They could have technically driven for a bit longer, but Komaeda had been worried about Hinata so he decided it’d be better to stop and rest for today instead of pressing on. It’s not like they were in a hurry. Hinata hadn’t talked anything about his panic attack; he had just eventually calmed down and told him that they could keep driving, and Komaeda had decided to trust his own judgment. He was still a bit concerned, but there wasn’t much for him to do if Hinata didn’t allow him to.

He opened the door and a bell rung. A young lady walked to the counter from the backroom almost instantly, and they exchanged greetings.

“What can I do for you?” she asked as she took out the ledger. “We’re actually quite full right now, we only have one two person room free but if you’re alone I can give you a discount for it.”

“Ah, no. I’m with a friend, so a two person room will suit us just fine,” Komaeda said as he took his wallet out of his pocket. The lady pursed her lips a bit in response.

“Ah, a friend you say…,” she muttered before flashing an embarrassed smile. “You see, the room has a double-bed, so will you and your friend be comfortable sharing it?”

“A double-bed?” Komaeda asked, biting his lip. Just his luck. This was kind of bad, Hinata would probably be uncomfortable with it. But judging by how relieved Hinata had seemed when he had pulled to the parking lot of the motel, he didn’t really want to keep driving for the next motel, since it was quite far away.

Well, he could just sleep on the floor; it wasn’t that huge of a problem. It wouldn’t be the first time, and it wasn’t as bad as it sounded. He made his decision as he nodded and paid for the room. After receiving the keys, he clutched them tightly as he walked back to the car. He could just hope that Hinata would accept this. If not, he’d just return the keys and find another motel.

He walked to the car and knocked on the window to the driver’s side of the car before opening the door. Hinata looked at him with a questioning look. He looked really tired and withdrawn, and Komaeda realized he would probably end up on the floor. He didn’t want to drive any further when Hinata looked this exhausted.

“I got us a room, it was the last one,” he said before flashing an apologetic smile. “But well… I’m sorry to say that my luck has inconvenienced us again. The room has only a double-bed. But I can sleep on the floor, I’ve done it before as well so no need to worry about being forced to share a bed with someone like me!” He tried to add cheer to his voice, to convince Hinata there was no problem with it. He really hoped the other wouldn’t insist they moved on, because if he remembered right, the closest motel from here was at least an hour drive away.

“I… see,” Hinata said shortly, sounding like he was at a loss what else to say. But when Komaeda asked him if they should move on instead, he shook his head and started to get up from the car. The other was scarily passive, and it was making Komaeda feel uncomfortable. Hopefully resting would help Hinata.

Chapter Text

Hinata stepped into the motel room after Komaeda, feeling relieved to get into the warm room from the cold. After a quick glance, it was obvious how much smaller the room was compared to the hotel they had stayed in Tokyo, but somehow it felt cozy and easier to stay in. Hinata reckoned it was just that he wasn’t that used to staying in really expensive hotels and dining in fancy restaurants, but this kind of motel felt a lot more natural for him.

Although, the only thing he really preferred a lot more about the hotel was that it was really warm. The motel room was a bit chilly and not nearly as warm as one would want to sleep in. Of course, as long as the blanket was warm enough it wouldn’t distract too much, but after the warmth of the hotel it was easy to notice the difference.

He glanced at the bed. As Komaeda had said, there was only a double-bed in the room… Beside it there was a small nightstand, and there was a small table in the room as well, resting on top of a rug that covered quite a big portion of the room.

“Are you okay with this room?” Komaeda asked as Hinata was still looking around. “I know it’s not as good of a place as the places we’ve stayed until now. If you’re not fine with this, we can find another place.” Hinata shook his head.

“It’s fine with me, I don’t really care how fancy the place we stay in is… I kind of like this place, I guess.” He shrugged as he set the bag he was carrying to the floor. The floor was a bit squeaky as he walked to the bed to sit on it while still looking around. Komaeda put down the bag he was carrying as well and sat by the table.

Hinata stared at the floor; he felt still squeamish and restless, and the silence wasn’t helping at all.

“Why… do you have a lighter? I haven’t seen you smoke so…” Hinata asked the first thing that came to his mind. Komaeda glanced at him before nodding.

“Yeah, I don’t smoke. I had it for customers,” he answered as he got up and walked to his jacket to take the lighter out of his pocket. “I didn’t mean to keep it a secret from you, I just didn’t think it was important.” Komaeda handed the lighter to Hinata. As soon as Hinata looked at it, he could tell it was expensive. It had silver engraving in it, a small symbol and the words “Togami Corp” above it and below it there was Komaeda’s name. It must have been made to order. Komaeda really had money…

“Wasn’t this expensive?” Hinata wondered aloud as he turned the lighter. On the other side there was only the symbol and the name of the company, Komaeda’s name missing.

“Hm? In our workplace this was the standard, but now that you mention I suppose it isn’t common to have personally engraved lighters just for work…”

“What did you even do for work?” Hinata continued asking as Komaeda sat down by the table again.

“I worked in the head sales department of the company. We worked with the most important clients and… business partners.” Komaeda gave him an awkward smile. He was probably wondering why Hinata was asking all this all of a sudden… He couldn’t really say it was mostly to fill the silence and to satiate his curiosity. Komaeda didn’t seem unwilling to answer at least, so he presumed he could keep asking.

“How about your luck? Didn’t you tell them about it or why did they let you work with such important clients?” He had asked it from the top of his head, but now that he thought about it, it was pretty mysterious part. He had presumed all the money Komaeda had was just somehow due to his luck, but he really seemed to have a well-paying job on top of it.

“Mmm… actually my luck was part of the reason I was hired by Togami-san in the first place. Before I was hired, I was kind of messing around with stocks to measure my luck, like with the radio, and that’s how I caught his attention.”

“You bought their stocks?” Hinata guessed but Komaeda shook his head.

“I didn’t buy stocks from such big companies, I felt like it wasn’t a good way to test my luck. I would invest in small companies, and see whether they’d become big or go bankrupt. Togami-san noticed that a lot of the new companies that suddenly rose up without a good explanation were something I had invested in so he sought me out,” Komaeda explained and chuckled a bit. “He completely refused to believe it had been just luck though… Sorry, I’ve been rambling quite a lot. You aren’t probably interested in a boring story like how someone like me got a job…,” Komaeda interrupted himself mid sentence and Hinata frowned.

“You know, I was the one who asked.” His voice came out sounding a lot more annoyed than he meant to, and he bit on his lower lip.

“Ah, that’s right… I’m sorry.”

“So what happened after that? He hired you because he didn’t believe in luck and thought it was talent?” Hinata tried to sound less annoyed as he continued his asking.

“He kind of accepted eventually that it had been ‘luck’, or at least he accepted the fact that I had no other explanation. He then offered me - or well, with him it wasn’t really an offer, more like a command - that I exchange the stocks I had in successful companies to some stocks in Togami corporation, and come work under him. I think it was because he wanted to avoid more anomalies in the stock market and wanted to get that anomaly to his own side, but that’s how I got the job,” Komaeda finished his explanation with that, and Hinata pursed his lips.

“So how about the bad side of your luck? Didn’t he just believe in it and decided to discard it?” Hinata asked and Komaeda chuckled again.

“Well, to quote him… ‘Something measly like “luck” would never be able to topple down a member of the Togami family. I have no need to be afraid of such things.’ His confidence is really admirable,” Komaeda explained with a small grin on his face, like he wanted to laugh just at the memory of it. It seemed like this had been something nice for him to recall based on how light his voice sounded, and Hinata felt a weird feeling in his chest, like he was relieved of some pressure with Komaeda’s smile.

“I see…,” he answered with a small smile as well, and for some reason Komaeda turned to look away from him. With that, a weird tension rose up in the room between them, and Hinata dropped his eyes to the lighter in his hands, turning it around again and again to do something with his hands. He tried to think of another question to ask, but nothing came to his mind. He glanced at Komaeda who seemed to be fiddling the sleeves of his jacket he still had on.

Hinata didn’t know where the weird atmosphere came from, but it was making him feel unnecessarily nervous and he kept trying to come up with some question to ask, when suddenly Komaeda coughed.

“Should I, should I go get some food for us from somewhere? We haven’t eaten in awhile,” Komaeda noted, without looking at Hinata. “There’s a pizzeria within a walking distance, but if you’d like something else I can take the car…,” he added, and Hinata shook his head.

“Pizza is okay…” His voice sounded weird to his own ears and he frowned. “I’ll come also, I’d like some air...” Komaeda seemed surprised at his suggestion, but he didn’t say anything more about it. He knew he probably should have avoided Komaeda a bit more after all that had happened in Tokyo, but he kept wanting to talk more with Komaeda and chose against his logical reasoning. Perhaps it was just simple curiosity, especially now that he had learned a bit more about Komaeda’s job.

That must have been it.

“Let’s go,” he said as he got up from the bed, pushing the lighter reflexively into his own pocket. Komaeda didn’t say anything about it and instead he nodded, getting up as well. Hinata glanced around in the room one final time before they left, his eyes lingering on the bed for a moment.


 

It was already getting darker outside, and the street lights were proving to be more and more useful as they walked. They hadn’t seen a lot more other buildings since they had left the motel, and Hinata briefly wondered how a pizzeria had managed to survive here when there didn’t seem to be that many potential customers around. He glanced at Komaeda who was walking just slightly ahead of him, like he was trying to avoid looking at Hinata.

They hadn’t talked anything since they left the motel, nor had they before getting to the motel either. Hinata touched the lighter in his pocket; Komaeda hadn’t asked anything from him about the magazine or his panic attack. It was a comfortable in a way; he didn’t really feel like talking about it and he appreciated the fact Komaeda hadn’t forced him to, but he knew the other must have questions.

He felt his stomach turn upside down as he thought back to that moment, and he bit his lip. There was no way he could explain about it. There was no reason to, in the first place. Even if he had decided to trust Komaeda back then with part of it, he… he couldn’t do that anymore.

It was impossible.

The sight of Komaeda holding the burning magazine was playing in his mind. Without knowing anything, without Hinata letting him help him, Komaeda still had managed to calm him down. The other had said he was used to panic attacks from his orphanage, but something about it felt weird to Hinata. Not that he doubted Komaeda or anything, but from what he had understood, Komaeda had never been that interested in other people… Unless that had been an exaggeration. Komaeda had said he was a bad person and all that but…

The truth of it all seemed to be under so many layers, that Hinata still struggled to really figure out what kind of person Komaeda was. Sometimes he seemed to be so attentive and kind, and the other times… he scared Hinata. There was something that he didn’t understand boiling inside Komaeda, but at the same time it felt really familiar, like there was something similar to him in there.

He shook his head. There was no need to think about it, he wouldn’t understand it any better even if he did.

“Hinata-kun,” Komaeda broke the silence, and Hinata lifted his head from the ground to look at the other. “I was thinking about our route. Today I went with our original plan, to take the long way around to see more places on the way, but I was thinking if that’s still something you wanted to do…,” Komaeda sounded a bit hesitant as he spoke, and he still wouldn’t look at Hinata.

Hinata pursed his lips. They had made the plan for the drive before… before he knew Komaeda had the gun. The plan had been to sightsee on the way, since he had said he’d like to see as much as he could before the year would come to an end. But after all that happened, Komaeda was probably thinking about whether Hinata would still willingly travel the longer way with him… Or so Hinata presumed.

“Yeah, let’s just go with the original plan, it’s not like there’s any reason for hurrying,” he answered curtly, and this time Komaeda looked at him - very briefly, but Hinata could still notice the other was pleasantly surprised by his answer. It made Hinata’s heart jump slightly and he frowned at the sensation. He didn’t understand what it was that made him feel weird when he saw Komaeda feeling more or less happy, and he wasn’t too sure he even wanted to.

“Alright, then I’ll stick with the plan…,” Komaeda said, his voice sounding warm even though he wasn’t looking at Hinata again. “The pizzeria is just around the corner. Should we eat in there or takeout?”

“... Let’s eat there,” Hinata answered after pondering for a moment, and Komaeda nodded, his hair swaying with the motion. The silence fell between them again, but there was a warm feeling left lingering in Hinata’s chest, one that he couldn’t quite understand.


 

Hinata stepped out of the bathroom, drying the last strands of his hair. Komaeda had showered first since he was going to sleep on the floor, so that his hair would dry faster but…

Komaeda was sitting on the floor with the blanket and a book on his lap. They had moved the table to make way for Komaeda to sleep, and now it was tucked into the corner. Hinata frowned as he looked at Komaeda. This… didn’t feel right. This motel room was pretty cold in the first place, and then making the other sleep on the floor with nothing but a blanket and a pillow was…

“Ah, Hinata-kun. Would you like to go to sleep already?” Komaeda asked as he lifted his eyes from the book. Hinata pursed his lips as he felt guilty. It really didn’t feel fair.

“I guess…,” he said, feeling conflicted as he walked to the bed and sat in it. Komaeda gave him his usual smile, but it didn’t really make Hinata feel any better about the situation. Just yesterday Komaeda had been sick in bed, and even if he hadn’t had a fever in the morning when they had measured, he still had been coughing every once in awhile. And to make the other sleep on the floor…

Komaeda had gotten up and turned off the lights while Hinata mulled in his thoughts, and was now returning to his spot on the floor. Like there was nothing bad about his sleeping spot, Komaeda just propped his pillow a little bit better and lied down with the blanket covering him. The book he had been reading was on the table in the corner.

“Good night, Hinata-kun…?” Komaeda said, a bit questioningly when he noticed Hinata was still sitting up in his bed. Hinata bit his lip as he clutched his blanket.

“I… I just don’t think this works,” Hinata said and Komaeda sat up on the floor as well, tilting his head. He looked worried, and Hinata realized his words must have been a bit misleading. “This doesn’t feel right, making you sleep on the floor,” he clarified, and Komaeda seemed to relax a little as he smiled again.

“It’s okay, as I said I don’t mind. I’ve slept in worse places,” Komaeda mused cheerfully, which only served to make Hinata upset.

“It’s not a matter of having getting used to it. You were sick until yesterday, this motel room is cold and sleeping on the floor is just… I don’t want you to get sick again,” Hinata said, his voice raising a bit. Komaeda seemed startled at first, but he quickly collected himself and smiled again.

“I already promised I wouldn’t get sick again, didn’t I? I won’t cause you anymore trouble and get into bed condition like that. We’ll stay here only for one night after all,” Komaeda added, clearly trying to reassure him.

“As if you haven’t been coughing the whole day already! You’re not even healthy yet, so you can’t say that you wouldn’t get into such state again!” Hinata raised his voice even further as he got more upset. Komaeda pursed his lips in return.

“I can’t make you sleep on the floor either. Someone like me can sleep on the floor, but you deserve to sleep well,” Komaeda said, sounding a bit frustrated as well. Hinata bit his lip; it seemed like Komaeda wouldn’t budge from that argument and let him sleep on the floor. Not that he had even tried to argue against that yet, but considering what Komaeda had been like until now, taking him into most expensive hotels and restaurants…

He sighed.

“It’s a double-bed, so it’s not like neither of us has to sleep on the floor…,” he said, even though he felt a weird sensation fluttering in his stomach at the thought. Komaeda seemed completely taken by surprise, before he started to shake his head like he had suggested something completely outrageous… Well, perhaps for Komaeda it was. It wasn’t like it didn’t make Hinata feel nervous as well, but it wasn’t like it was anything that big. It shouldn’t be, but he still felt tense.

“That’s… It’s… Someone like me couldn’t possibly sleep in the same bed as you! Hinata-kun, let’s go to sleep. I’ll just have stiff shoulders in the morning, I promise it won’t be anything more than that,” Komaeda argued frantically, still slightly shaking his head like he was trying to enhance his point. Hinata felt a bit hurt at how vehemently he was refusing, even though he couldn’t understand why that would be the feeling he felt. Frustrated and angry maybe but…

“It’s just sharing a bed! Don’t be so difficult about this,” Hinata yelled and bit his lip. “Either you agree to it, or I will sleep on the floor as well. You will sleep in the bed anyways, alone or sharing it with me, alright?! I won’t have you falling sick anymore.” He knew he shouldn’t be getting so upset nor raising his voice so much - if he kept at it, someone might start to pay attention - but for some reason he couldn’t help himself when he looked at Komaeda. The other seemed really conflicted right now, troubled even, and he didn’t even answer him for some time.

When Komaeda didn’t seem to give him an answer, Hinata just glared at him and started to get up from the bed. This seemed to bring Komaeda back from his thoughts as he jumped up from the floor.

“You can’t sleep on the floor, in such a cold room!” Komaeda protested and Hinata gave him an exasperated sigh in return.

“That’s what I’ve been saying from the beginning! You know the room is freezing cold as well, so just agree with this. I don’t want to sleep on the floor either after all,” Hinata said and Komaeda lowered his eyes, pressing his lips together as he frowned. Hinata glared at Komaeda as he waited for the other to say what he wanted to say.

“But, I possibly can’t…,” Komaeda muttered softly but when Hinata moved just a little bit like he was about to get up from the bed, he flinched.

“Look, I don’t know how uncomfortable you feel about the thought of sharing a bed with someone, but this is just one night as you said. You don’t have to force yourself to do it after that,” Hinata said, his voice tight and strained from trying to hold back his voice as to not shout again. Komaeda raised his eyes back to him again, like he was about to say something but he seemed to bite back the original words.

“It’s, it’s not like that, but…,” Komaeda muttered, with a pained expression on his face. It made Hinata feel a bit bad when he realized how much Komaeda didn’t want to do this; he didn’t really want to make the other upset but neither did he want Komaeda to sleep on the floor… He had to keep strong, Komaeda might not care about his own health but Hinata wasn’t going to let the other fall sick again because of him.

“... Alright then, if you’re absolutely sure you don’t mind…,” Komaeda answered right before Hinata managed to argue against him. Komaeda wouldn’t look at him and he seemed to be still against this plan, but he still picked up his pillow and blanket from the floor.

“As, as I said, I really don’t care about stuff like that…,” Hinata answered, a bit bewildered and nervous now. He wasn’t even sure if he had said that or not, but Komaeda at least didn’t say anything about it as he walked to the other side of the bed. Hinata lied down on the bed with his back turned to Komaeda, to hide the fact that he was getting nervous as well. He pressed his lips together as he felt the other’s weight sit on the edge of the bed, trying to ignore the way the sheets got tighter.

It grew harder and harder to ignore the way Komaeda set the pillow next to his, lied down and moved his blanket around. Hinata felt his heart thumping faster despite his attempts to just stay calm, and he clutched his blanket. The other settled down on his place - he was right on the edge of the bed, just like Hinata was, but despite that Hinata felt incredibly conscious of the distance between them. He had been the one to insist on this, but he was starting to fear he couldn’t sleep properly like this.

He felt Komaeda shift slightly, and his heartbeat jumped a notch faster in response.

There was no need to be this conscious about sharing a bed with someone, especially with someone of the same gender but… He clutched the sheets tighter. He couldn’t understand this at all.

Chapter Text

Komaeda crossed his hands over his chest, pressing them against himself like he was trying to stifle the thundering heartbeat. He had his back turned to Hinata, but he was sure the other could hear it since it was so loud. This was bad, he was way too nervous about this. The other had been so insistent on this, but Komaeda was pretty sure he’d actually sleep better on the floor.

He moved his arm just a little bit to have it in a bit more comfortable position, and he could feel the way Hinata flinched on the other side of the bed. Just from that Komaeda felt his heartbeat quicken a little bit, and he squeezed his eyes shut to try and not think about it.

Hinata was so close. If Komaeda just turned around, he’d be right next to him, able to touch him easily. He felt his face flushing just at the thought of it and he shook his head in his thoughts.

He had to forget these thoughts.

“Also, if I wake up in the middle of the night…,” Hinata broke the silence and Komaeda almost jumped out of his skin. “... and you’ve moved to the floor, I will do the same.” Hinata’s voice was barely above hushed whispering, but Komaeda could hear every word clearly.

“O-okay,” Komaeda stuttered out, not sure what else to say. He didn’t want to argue back and upset Hinata more, but this still felt unfair. The other might not mind, but he didn’t really know with what kind of feelings Komaeda was struggling with here. If he knew, he most likely wouldn’t have insisted on this...

Not that Komaeda could tell him. He had to keep these feelings locked away tightly. He pressed his lips tightly together, like he was trying to stop the words leaking out, even though he hadn’t had any intention of saying them aloud… He shut his eyes; he should at least try to rest, even if he couldn’t fall asleep.

“Why did you have insist on this…,” Komaeda muttered without thinking, and he could hear Hinata give a heavy sigh.

“As I said, you would fall sick again. It’s not like you can just say you won’t get sick and not get sick, that’s really not how it works, dumbass,” Hinata said sounding completely frustrated at this topic already. “If… if anything I should ask why did you insist on sleeping on the floor? There’s not any reason to do that.” Komaeda flinched slightly at Hinata’s words; he didn’t really know how to answer this. It wasn’t like he could just say it straight-out that his feelings were making him feel conflicted and scared.

“That’s… Someone like you shouldn’t have to share the bed with someone like me…,” he answered weakly, and he could hear the other groan.

“That’s the part that doesn’t make sense! I don’t understand what’s this about ‘someone like me’ and ‘someone like you’, that’s just weird.” Hinata’s voice sounded strained, like he was doing his best to not shout. Komaeda knew that his questions were completely warranted, even though for him that explanation did make sense, he had learned throughout his life that most didn’t think of it like that… But for him the line was clear, Hinata was someone above him, above sharing a bed like him.

Komaeda really wished it was just that though, if it was this would be much easier. He still wouldn’t like it but at least he could sleep. But as it was now, he was still too nervous to even think about falling asleep…

“I’m sorry Hinata-kun, but I can’t explain it any better than that...” Or at least, not without revealing something he really wanted to keep in. For a moment there was a long silence between them, and Komaeda was already starting to believe Hinata had dropped the conversation when the other finally spoke.

“I can… more or less understand why you don’t want me to sleep on the floor,” Hinata said; it sounded almost like negotiation. “But sharing a bed… it’s not like I care about that ‘someone like me or you’ stuff… You know, if it’s just that, that I make you uncomfortable, then just, you know, say it straight out. Just that, if my presence is disturbing then...” Hinata’s words tumbled out awkwardly like he wasn’t completely sure where he was trying to go with his words.

Komaeda almost jumped up at the words, to protest. There was no way that was the case; if anything, the problem was that Hinata’s presence was something Komaeda yearned for too much and not that he disliked the other but…

He stopped himself right before he did. If he just said that, then maybe the situation would be fixed? If he told the other that he just couldn’t sleep next to others, that it made him uncomfortable, maybe Hinata would let him return to the floor and he could get at least some sleep tonight…? It seemed like he hesitated on his answer long enough that Hinata grew agitated.

“That’s it, isn’t it? You aren’t answering so...,” Hinata whispered, and for some reason Komaeda couldn’t shake off the feeling that the other sounded… hurt, even. This would be so easy, he would just have to say he wasn’t comfortable with sleeping next to people in general and…

“No, you’re wrong. That’s not the case…” He found the words slipping from his mouth before he could even come into a decision, naturally like he was meant to say these words here. “It has just been a while since I’ve shared a bed with someone, I’m just a little bit anxious about it. I’m sorry for making such a scene,” he forced out an explanation to his actions, to support his shaky words. Hinata didn’t answer him right away again, leaving him hanging in the silence with his heart pumping like he was about to die.

“Are you sure…?” Hinata eventually asked, his words hesitant but clearly demanding an answer.

“I’m sure,” Komaeda answered as clearly as he could to assure the other. He’d just have to struggle through the night somehow.

“Alright.” Hinata’s voice was almost meek, especially compared to how he had been shouting just a little while ago. Komaeda tightened his lips as he clutched on the edge of his blanket.


 

Komaeda flinched awake from the sleep he hadn’t noticed he had fallen into. He had been struggling for a couple hours to fall asleep, and it seems it had paid off for some while. He had no idea how long he had slept though, and he couldn’t exactly check. He blinked a couple of times, his eyes feeling heavy from the tiredness. He was just about to catch back onto that dream while he still could, when he felt Hinata turn in his sleep behind him. Komaeda flinched and he was instantly awake again.

He could feel the other breathing calmly, confirming that he was still asleep, and Komaeda moved just slightly to be able to look at him. Hinata had turned to his other side, facing Komaeda now, and he was a lot closer than before… Komaeda could feel his heartbeat quicken and he quickly turned his eyes away. Maybe he should just move to the floor and hope that Hinata wouldn’t wake up before morning…

Hinata sighed in his sleep, and barely, just barely, Komaeda could feel the breath touch the nape of his neck.

He really should go to the floor. But despite his thoughts, he found himself slowly and carefully turning to his other side to face Hinata as well, his heartbeat growing deafeningly loud. Hinata looked calm and peaceful as he slept quietly. Komaeda noticed there were traces of tears on the corners of his eyes; he had probably more or less cried in his sleep. His other hand was resting on the bed.

Komaeda couldn’t help but feel nervous. Looking at the other sleep like this just reminded him of the last night. Hinata had woken up that time, and yet he hadn’t gotten angry. Komaeda couldn’t understand why; the other had had every right to be angry and scared, but… No matter how much he thought, he just didn’t find any answer from his mind to why Hinata had just accepted it.

He really felt like he needed that reason right now, some kind of excuse why it had been fine at that time, something to convince him to turn his back to Hinata again and shut out his thoughts. His lips tightened against each other as he held his breath. Maybe if he just held his breath long enough, he’d just pass out happily, without doing anything he would regret…

But despite his thoughts, very soon his body automatically let his breath go with a long sigh. And just like his reason had escaped along with the air, he slowly moved his hand on Hinata’s, his breathing growing nervous as he feared Hinata would wake up. Hinata’s hand was warm, a lot warmer than his, and it felt like the warmth was slowly spreading to Komaeda as well. He pressed his lips tightly together as he tried to fight against the comfort; he should just turn his back to Hinata again, it was the most logical choice but…

It was like the comfortable sleep Hinata was in was contagious as well, and he felt his eyes slowly close as sleep began to take him away. His thoughts began to make excuses after excuses - he should try to sleep to be completely awake when driving tomorrow, he could just claim it happened without him knowing, either or even both of them might turn in their sleep during the night…

All the excuses and arguments slowly drowned under the heavy blanket of sleep.

 

Chapter Text

Hinata woke up from his sleep slowly, like his dream was trying to reel him back into the safety, the comfortable feeling he had had in his dream. He couldn’t even remember at this point what the dream was, but he knew his hand had been warm like it had been held and everything had felt alright. It was almost tempting to just return to sleep, but at the same time he felt something pushing him awake.

The warm feeling of having his hand held felt like it lingered longer than the rest of his dream, like it was an anchor keeping him still. Eventually, he opened his eyes slowly, blinking a few times before his eyes focused on anything.

But when his eyes finally began to focus and his mind come awake, he slowly started to understand his surroundings. He saw Komaeda’s face and his hair resting on the pillow like some fluff had escaped from inside of it. Hinata thought for a moment that the other was awfully close, and he realized he was still holding someone’s hand despite being awake. It didn’t take long for him to realize he was holding Komaeda’s hand and he jumped to sit up in the bed, pulling his hand away.

For a moment he was scared that he had woken Komaeda up when the other mumbled something, but Komaeda just turned to lie on his back. Hinata sighed quietly and got up from the bed trying his hardest not to wake the other up.

The memories from last night came back to explain why they had been sharing the bed, but… Hinata squeezed his hand in a fist. It didn’t explain that…

He shook his head as he went to the bathroom to brush his teeth. He had probably done it in his sleep, after that dream he had had. It was nothing to get confused about. He should just be glad that Komaeda hadn’t woken up because of it, because while it was just something he had done unconsciously, he still felt like it would have been bothersome for Komaeda.

But well, he was still glad that Komaeda had not escaped to the floor…

He frowned as he stared at his reflection on the mirror. ‘ Happy’ ? He would understand if he just felt satisfied or something but what was there to be really ‘happy’ about? He bit on his toothbrush as he felt frustrated.

So few things made sense lately with his feelings and actions. It was frankly scaring him; there were so many things he couldn’t control in his behavior and thoughts, and he was afraid of losing even more control over himself.

He sighed as he began to spit out the toothpaste. He would have to work harder.


 

The room had been quiet for a while, only the sounds of paper rustling and occasionally people speaking outside disturbing the silence, when Komaeda woke up. Hinata closed his notebook when he noticed this and turned to look at Komaeda.

“Good morning, Hinata-kun…,” Komaeda said, sounding like he was still half asleep.

“Morning,” Hinata answered shortly, feeling slightly awkward now. Komaeda was just staring at his blanket, clearly still in the middle of waking up. He might not have slept well after all if he was this tired… Hinata bit his lip as he felt a pang of guilt for a moment, but then he made himself remember that the other option would have been the floor. This was still better than Komaeda getting sick again.

Komaeda seemed to have woken up completely now, and he was shifting around in the bed with a conflicted look on his face. The air felt heavy all of a sudden and Hinata turned his eyes back to the closed notebook.

“Aren’t you going to get up?” Even to his own ears his voice sounded unnatural and he pressed his lips together.

“Ah, yes. You probably want to get moving soon after all.” Komaeda got up from the bed and walked into the bathroom after picking up his clothes. He passed Hinata on his way there; Hinata clutched his notebook as he did. When the bathroom door closed, Hinata let out a sigh of relief before he began to put his notebook away. He wasn’t really in any rush to leave but then again there was no reason to linger here either. He began to pack the little stuff they had even taken out of the bags.

And when Komaeda came out of the bathroom, Hinata had already packed up everything.

“Would you like to go eat somewhere?” Komaeda asked as he packed his pajamas to his bag.

“Sure.” Hinata decided not to tell Komaeda that he was pretty hungry already, having woken up a couple hours ago already, but instead settle for just agreeing. He had a feeling Komaeda would apologize to him again if he did, and he… really didn’t want that. He frowned at his thoughts.

“There’s a café about twenty minute drive away, is that okay?”

“Yeah, whatever,” Hinata answered a bit more harshly than he meant to, but Komaeda just smiled in response to that, awkwardly like usually. Hinata looked away from him in response.


 

“Did you sleep well…?” They were sitting at the café Komaeda had mentioned, eating sandwiches for their breakfast. They had been mostly quiet before Komaeda had broken the silence.

“Yeah, I slept well… How about you? Did, did you wake up during the night or anything…?” Hinata asked, immediately regretting the way he put that. But the mood had been so awkward the whole day that he was slowly getting paranoid about it, that the word had just slipped out. Komaeda seemed a bit surprised by the question, but soon a familiar smile spread to his face.

“I slept well enough, thanks to you. I’m sorry for making you share a bed with me,” Komaeda answered and Hinata bit his lip. The other had ended up apologizing again. He felt frustrated but he didn’t want to end up yelling again so he decided to keep his mouth shut and take a bite of the sandwich he was holding. Komaeda had ordered a plate of them, but Hinata was starting to suspect they’d have some left over, with how little Komaeda was eating. The other didn’t seem to eat a whole lot in general now in hindsight, but Hinata hadn’t really paid attention to it until now.

Even now Komaeda seemed to be done eating already, despite the fact that Hinata still felt hungry himself.

“Are you sure you won’t eat more…?” Hinata asked and Komaeda seemed taken back by his question. He tilted his head slightly before he answered.

“Um, is there a problem?” Komaeda said slowly, like he wasn’t sure what he was supposed to say. Hinata frowned as he thought why did this whole matter bother him in the first place, when he hadn’t really paid attention to it before. It just kind of… pissed him off. Komaeda would fall sick if he kept this up after all, but if he said that Komaeda would just argue that he wouldn’t cause trouble to him, and that wasn’t what Hinata meant at all…

What he meant was more like…

“It just worries me.”

Komaeda seemed even more taken back by this and he opened his mouth a few times like he was about to say something but decided against it.

“Worry? I’m not planning on doing anything…” Komaeda seemed incredibly confused by his words and Hinata shook his head.

“No, that’s not what I meant. It’s more like that I’m worried about you… or something like that,” he added hastily. Komaeda didn’t answer him for the longest time, instead staring at him like he was having trouble processing what he said. It was making Hinata feel awkward and want to pull back his words to get rid of the weird mood, but he just kept still and tried to focus on eating the sandwich he had.

“I, uh…,” Komaeda stuttered out, and now that Hinata glanced at him again he noticed Komaeda was staring at the table now, and he could somewhat see that his face was red. “I’m so glad to hear you are worried about trash like me, but there’s no need for you to worry about someone like me, I’ll be fine… I’m not one to eat that much.” Komaeda’s voice was really quiet in comparison to normal, and even though Hinata wanted to argue against what Komaeda had said, he decided to just leave it. It didn’t feel right to say anything against it.

“I see.” Hinata didn’t look at Komaeda again, and instead took another sandwich.

Right after him, Komaeda took one as well and began to nibble on it.


 

Hinata leaned against the car window, listening to the quiet music coming from the radio. Today had been so quiet, but for some reason it didn’t feel negative. It was heavy, but there was still something about it that made Hinata still feel a bit comfortable with it.

He glanced at Komaeda, who was leaning back on his seat as he drove, clearly deep in thoughts. There wasn’t even much for Hinata to say to break the silence, so he just returned to looking out of the window. They had been on the move for an hour already, and even though he had been reading books until now it had kind of been causing a small headache for him so he had decided to stop.

It was sort of relaxing to just sit back and listen to music, without speaking or doing anything.

Hinata let out a small sigh. Even though there hasn’t passed that much time yet, he still felt like he had been traveling with Komaeda for a long time. So much had happened that it seemed to have made the time passing feel different from normal. It felt like forever ago when he had almost been driven over by Komaeda, then invading his car and threatening Komaeda to help him.

Even if Komaeda seemed like he appreciated this change, Hinata kind of realized that really in the base of all this, he had forced the other to come with him. He had taken Komaeda away from the life he had had, just to be able to reach his own goals. Without him, Komaeda would still be at his home, going to work as usual and seeing the people he had known back in Kyoto.

Komaeda had said he didn’t miss that life, there was still a part inside Hinata that was telling him that what he was doing was incredibly selfish. Even though he  really couldn’t find it himself to dwell in that guilt after all that had happened, there was still the thought that if he had just taken Komaeda’s money back then and traveled to the north alone, there would have been so much difficulties saved for the both of them.

Especially… since Komaeda had seemed really important for his workplace.

“Was it really okay for you to just leave your workplace behind? I was thinking about what you told me and it seems like there was a reason you were working there after all...” To his surprise Komaeda just chuckled in response.

“No, I didn’t really even need to work at that place. The stocks Togami-san gave me to the company have already made me more money than I could ever use and I keep getting more, so me working in the company was just to have something to do. And even though I say our department dealt with the important customers, I was more like… working with the cases where it didn’t matter if I succeeded. If I did, it’d be good but it wasn’t really a requirement for the company to grow.”

“So… dealing with the yakuza was part of it…?” Hinata asked hesitantly.

“Ah, yes, I suppose… Togami-san didn’t really like the idea, but he felt like it would be useful to have some relations to that side so that everything under him wouldn’t get trouble from that side. So he made me seek out the biggest clan and try to make them allies, to have their name scare everyone who was thinking about causing trouble for Togami corp,” Komaeda explained and flashed him an awkward smile. “It was the ones I got lucky with.”

“Ahh, I see…,” Hinata said. That explained a lot. But it was also making him feel kind of scared. To imagine Komaeda had that much money, so much that he probably couldn’t even imagine the actual amount, was just… mindboggling. And to think Komaeda was just about to let him leave with all that money… He shuddered at the thought of it. That was too much for him to think about.

But at least it also made him feel a lot less about wasting money on the travel. He had felt a bit bad about all the money Komaeda had spent on the hotels and foods and everything, but when there was so much money that it was basically endless, it kind of made him feel like it didn’t matter.

He was now starting to understand how Komaeda felt like about it , probably. There really was no need for him to care about the money they were spending, and Hinata felt like soon he’d be able to adapt the same line of thought, the more he got used to it.

There was some feeling in the back of his mind though, not related to the money, but more like to the fact that Komaeda was explaining about this stuff to him, a feeling that made him feel… a bit lighter. Learning about the other was making him feel nice, but he was also a bit uncomfortable with this feeling because he still didn’t really understand it. Perhaps he was just starting to think of Komaeda more as a friend than just someone he was traveling with.

But for some reason that didn’t feel like the right answer either.

Chapter Text

For some reason the road ahead of him had felt endless the whole time he had been driving. It had been just measly couple of hours in reality but Komaeda was feeling like it was evening already; maybe it was the tiredness he felt after last night. He glanced at Hinata who was staring out of the window, and returned his eyes to the road.

He didn’t know how to phrase it but there had been something… odd about Hinata the whole day. He had been initiating a lot more conversations than usually, and so many of them had been about Komaeda. He had said he didn’t mind answering if Hinata was interested, but there was a weird feeling in the back of his head every time. He wasn’t really that used to talking about himself, and usually he would even try to avoid it, but...

He still felt nervous that Hinata had asked him if he had woken up during the night. He had lied, kind of, but the other didn’t seem to have noticed anything. It hadn’t probably had any meaning to it, but it still made him feel a bit uneasy and even more guilty. He really hadn’t learned anything at all. He bit his lip. If he allowed this to continue, there would rise a risk that his luck would…

“Aren’t we going to stop?” Hinata asked, interrupting his thoughts. They had just passed by a gas station and they hadn’t stopped even once since they left, so Hinata’s question wasn’t at all out of place. But it still took Komaeda a bit by surprise, since he had planned on stopping at the station.

“I’m sorry, I was lost in thought. I’ll turn back as soon as I can,” he said as he began to already think of a place where he could turn the car around. Hinata didn’t answer him, but Komaeda did notice the other was looking at him. It was making him feel jittery. He should just get to the gas station quick.

As he began to slow down to turn, he remembered yesterday and Hinata’s panic attack. He could finally try to find out the source; suddenly all of his thoughts were focused on the magazine and he pressed his lips together. He’d have to be careful about this so Hinata wouldn’t notice. Of course he could just leave it as a mystery and not take the risk of getting caught by Hinata, but he had to know.

He felt a heavy weight on the bottom of his stomach as he thought about finally finding out something about Hinata’s past. They had talked so much about Komaeda’s past life already, but Hinata hadn’t really told him anything about his.

He gripped the steering wheel a bit tighter.


 

As soon as they got into the gas station, Hinata wandered into the bathroom. Komaeda waited until the door had closed behind Hinata before he rushed to the magazine rack. He didn’t have a lot of time; luckily the magazine he was looking for wasn’t hard to find. The blue-haired girl in the cover was a really popular idol so even he was familiar with her face. He took the magazine and immediately went to the cashier to pay for it.

As soon as he had paid, he hid the magazine under his jacket, between his left arm and side. The cashier looked at him a bit funny, but Komaeda just pressed his index finger on his lips and walked off. Most likely the cashier wouldn’t have mentioned anything to Hinata in the first place anyways, but he wanted to make sure of it. Most likely the cashier would just think he was hiding it because it was a gossip magazine.

Hinata walked out of the bathroom pretty soon after that, and Komaeda smiled at him.

“I’ll go to the bathroom too. If there’s anything you want…,”

“Yeah, I know,” Hinata answered, sounding almost bored. Komaeda chuckled, and let Hinata pass by him to the shelves before going to the bathroom himself. As soon as he got in, he took the magazine out and started to browse through it.

As he had expected, most of what he saw was just regular gossip about idols, and for the longest time nothing really sparked his attention. But close to the end of the magazine, he finally saw something that seemed like it could be it.

“Mystery! Where did these popular idols disappear to?!” The headline seemed promising, and he began to read through the article. It went on to describe a lot of idols that just faded away from popularity so subtly that no one noticed, or in some cases even idols who just disappeared without a word. The latter ones sparked his attention more, and he turned to the page showing them. There were three people, but one of them caught his eye since she was the only woman on the list. Hinata had talked something about “ her ”...

The thing that had set Hinata off might have been something else too, but Komaeda somehow got the feeling that she was the one he should focus on. There was just something pulling his attention to her… He frowned as he read the short description of her.

“Enoshima Junko. A popular young model, that raised a lot of attention in the beginning of her career, and went on to shock the whole industry with her energy and charm! But three years ago she just suddenly stopped appearing in magazines. There was no mention of her leaving the industry; and curiously, none of the magazines at the time discussed this at all! What happened to her? Did she get tired of the industry? Did she leave the country? Did she die? We may never know! She hasn’t been seen since then, so something has to be up, but her production company seems to be keeping it under the wraps!”

Komaeda read it through a few times before throwing the magazine into the trash can. If she was the person he suspected him to be, then Hinata most likely had something to do with her disappearing…

He sighed as he left the bathroom. The article had given him more questions than answers. He hadn’t really expected much from an article with a sensationalistic headline like that, but it really had been useless to the information. Only thing he had more now than before was that he knew the possible name of this “her” Hinata had brought up. She had been the one to do something to traumatize Hinata, that much Komaeda could bring together. But if this person really was this Enoshima Junko, then how did her disappearance tie together with Hinata?

Hinata noticed him approaching pretty soon, and for a moment Komaeda thought he saw a flicker of a smile on Hinata’s lips. But almost right away Hinata turned his eyes back to the shelf in front of him, and Komaeda decided it must have been his imagination.

“Is there something we should buy?” Komaeda asked when he reached the other, and Hinata shrugged.

“I guess we should take some snacks and something to drink,” Hinata answered after a moment of silence, with Komaeda waiting next to him with a patient smile. As Hinata had suggested they went on to buy snacks and water, and much to Komaeda’s relief the cashier didn’t say anything and Hinata didn’t decide to return to the bathroom. Hinata hadn’t gone close to the magazine rack as far as Komaeda could tell.

This woman named Enoshima was most likely the reason Hinata ever had appeared in Komaeda’s life. He looked at Hinata, looked at the slightly tired look and remembered the panic the other had been yesterday. In the picture she had been grinning widely, showing a peace sign with her hair in pigtails. It was hard to imagine that a cheerful model like her could be involved in whatever had made Hinata so anxious, but he still had a feeling it was her. There could be much hidden behind her public image.

He gritted his teeth. There was something about her making him feel uneasy, like she was someone to stay away from. The more he thought about her, the more he felt that way. It was weird when he didn’t know her at all, but there had been something in her eyes that made him feel like she held something in her that he despised.

Hinata suddenly stopped and looked at him, and Komaeda realized he must have had a suspicious expression in his face. He quickly molded it into a smile again. Hinata continued walking after seeing that, but Komaeda could tell that the other hadn’t been convinced at all. He felt like sighing; he had kept the magazine a secret for now, but he had still made Hinata a bit suspicious over him.

He shook his head. Things had been odd between them for a while now, ever since Hinata had decided to return instead of leaving, like both of them were constantly gauging the water and trying to figure out what was correct. It was so fragile, and Komaeda wanted to avoid skewing it into a bad direction. He had to keep it together.

They stepped back into the car, Hinata setting the shopping bag by his feet. Komaeda took a second just to get used to his seat, to get off the uncomfortable feeling he had. Sitting in the car made him feel a bit calmer.

They were still here and moving forward. For now, that was most important.

Chapter Text

This inn seemed to be a lot smaller and cozier than the one they had stayed at when they had just met, Hinata noted as they walked into the inn. He preferred that in all honesty; not too fancy like the hotel, but it didn’t seem like it’d get really cold at night like the motel had been. Komaeda had asked him if this place was okay beforehand, and Hinata was glad he had agreed.

Not that he had had any reason not to. Komaeda seemed to be checking everything with him; he probably had been doing it all the time throughout the journey but Hinata hadn’t really paid so much attention to it before. But it was starting to feel weird after some time, having to be the one to always say the last word on what they did. He remembered that when Komaeda took him to the arcade in Tokyo, he hadn’t asked Hinata back then though…

The thought was making him feel a bit weird.

He glanced at Komaeda who was talking with the receptionist. They had talked a bit here and there on the way, but most of the day they had spent in calming silence. Hinata had been trying to gather up his thoughts the whole time, and it seemed like Komaeda had something on his mind too.

Hinata turned to look away from the other again. He didn’t know what the other had in mind, but he felt a bit disturbed that his thoughts had been mostly around Komaeda. He had been trying to rationalize out his thoughts, to figure out his own thoughts.

But it wasn’t really easy. He did have an inkling what it was that was messing up with his thoughts, but… it wasn’t something he wanted to consider in this situation. It would be easier to just settle his questions by saying he was just slowly developing a friendship with Komaeda. But despite him trying to draw that conclusion, the same line of thought popped up in his mind over and over again, like it was forcing him to repeat the question until he gave a satisfactory answer; or more like, the correct answer.

It was nothing short of frustrating. He didn’t want to keep repeating this same thing again and again, and he didn’t want to give in to the idea that his mind was trying to bubble up. It couldn’t be right. He didn’t want it to be right. There was already enough on his mind, enough things to worry about and enough stiff, heavy air between them. He didn’t need anything more to add to his burden.

Not to mention he didn’t need any more weaknesses, not another vulnerability to add to the list of things he had to be careful about. Maybe the answer he kept forcing to the question wasn’t right but he didn’t think the one in the back of his mind was right either. It felt too difficult to handle, but also too easy of a conclusion to draw up.

He sighed; he didn’t want to try and think about what the real answer was. He needed to figure out something to distract him from these thoughts.

“Hinata-kun?” Komaeda asked him suddenly, tilting his head. Apparently he was done dealing with the receptionist. “Is everything alright? You seem troubled...”

“It’s nothing. Did you get the room?” It was a weak way to change the topic, but Komaeda seemed to decide to just go along with it, probably for his sake.

“Yeah, they had vacancy,” Komaeda answered as a young man began to lead them into the inn. “We have a great view of the garden from our room apparently.”

They talked about the inn for the short while that they walked to the room, with the young man leading them chiming in occasionally to tell them more details, and for a moment Hinata could stop thinking about it.


 

“Are you going to go into the bath?” Komaeda asked, and Hinata lifted his eyes from the book he was reading. They had been sitting on the porch watching the garden and then they had just kind of stayed there.

“Oh, should we go?” Hinata asked hesitantly. They had gone into the bath in the beginning of their trip too, but for some reason he felt nervous in a whole different way than back then. Then, he had been convinced that Komaeda was deceiving him, that any moment the police would come to get him and to save Komaeda from him. But now just the whole thought of going into the bath with Komaeda was a bit nerve-wracking.

“Ah, I meant if you want to go. I don’t think I’ll go…,” Komaeda answered looking at the garden, his face not really showing anything. Hinata frowned; the other was probably trying to be considerate of him once again. In a way, it’d be so easy to just accept what Komaeda was saying, and be able to bathe alone without all the stress and worry about it but… Hinata bit his lip. The thought in itself was making him frustrated.

“Huh? Why? We came all the way here so wouldn’t it be disrespectful not to?” Hinata said, his tone once again harsher than he had intended. Komaeda seemed set back by his outburst.

“Eh, that is…,” Komaeda said almost instantly, before falling quiet like he didn’t know how to continue from there. Hinata was getting more annoyed every second, and it didn’t help that his own actions were making him feel annoyed at himself too. He didn’t want to get angry again… They just stared at each other in silence, Hinata with a glare and Komaeda seeming bewildered by the situation.

“Or is there a reason you won’t? Say straight up if there’s something wrong!” Hinata raised his voice, and bit on his lower lip again. They were technically outside so there was even more reason to keep his volume in control. Komaeda flashed an awkward smile at him, like he was trying to soothe his anger somehow.

It didn’t really help.

“There’s no specific reason to it…,” Komaeda started but he shut off as soon as Hinata glared at him.

“You’ve been really uppity in general lately! If you have a problem with me, say it! Don’t think I won’t notice you’re trying to avoid me!” Hinata didn’t really know what was coming out from his mouth, and Komaeda seemed to understand even less.

“That’s not…” Komaeda seemed speechless, the only words coming out of his lips being a feeble denial. Hinata turned to look away, at the garden below them, as he tried to control his thoughts. “Hinata-kun, I’m sorry.”

“For what?” Hinata snapped back instantly, and even though he didn’t look at Komaeda, he knew the other was thrown back. “Look, if you really, really wanted me to leave back in Tokyo, you should have said so back then. Now it’s...” ‘ ...Too late’, was what he was going to add but he stopped himself. Too late for what? What reason there was for him to force Komaeda to stay with him if the other wanted to go back? Maybe all that speaking about his past had made Komaeda reconsider his options. That wasn’t something Hinata could really just selfishly step all over like this.

He pressed his lips together. Why was he even considering this in the first place? He shouldn’t be so considerate over Komaeda at this point anymore. Even with the gun gone now there was still the fact that it all had happened. He had decided to try and understand the reasoning behind Komaeda’s actions that time and before that, but he wasn’t anyhow closer to finding out anything, despite having asked so many questions. It was all just a messy circle in his head.

What was he even supposed to be upset about anymore?

“That’s not the case, Hinata-kun! I absolutely want to see the end of the world with you, and witness all the hope you’ll certainly show that day! There’s no hope for me to witness back in Kyoto, I need to see this with you!” Komaeda protested now, suddenly with much more energy and certainty. But it just made Hinata sigh.

“So that’s the part you finally manage to answer to,” Hinata said defeatedly, and stood up from the porch. “Forget it, I’m tired of this. I’ll go to the bath, you do whatever you want, I don’t care.” Komaeda just looked at him wordlessly, and Hinata stomped out of the room to escape the deafening silence that fell between them.

Essentially, he was still just taking his own anger out on Komaeda without even knowing if the other was the source of it or even anyhow to blame for the confusion in his head. Hinata clenched his hands into fists as he suddenly realized he was frustrated to the point of almost crying. This was just ridiculous.

He was being extremely childish, that much he could say. Throwing tantrums here and there just because he couldn’t understand what was going on in his head. And somehow, it felt like everything went awfully every time after he got upset; it was always easy and relaxing until he just went and got upset. Hinata didn’t know at this point if it was Komaeda’s fault for saying things that made him upset, or maybe he was the one making this all difficult by taking it too hard.

He pressed his lips tightly together.

Just pathetic.

Chapter Text

Komaeda just sat there for a moment, unmoving, staring at the door Hinata had slid close when he left. He had his other hand extended towards the door, like he had been trying to stop the other from leaving, and he pulled it back and clenched into a fist.

He was sure this was his fault. He had managed to make Hinata angry again somehow. He honestly didn’t know what it was exactly that had made Hinata angry, but it must have been something he said. He pressed his lips tightly together as he turned to look back at the garden. He had originally been planning on going to the bath after Hinata came out, but now that plan was a bit difficult to accomplish without making it seem like he was avoiding Hinata.

Now that he thought about it, this probably would count as him avoiding him, so it wasn’t like Hinata was completely wrong in his assumption. But there was no way it was because he had wanted Hinata to leave back in Tokyo… Although, it didn’t change the fact that Hinata seemed to think so, even if Komaeda had tried his best to reassure him it wasn’t so. Hinata didn’t seem to believe him however and Komaeda didn’t really know how to explain it in a roundabout way without making the other even more upset.

He stood up from the porch and started to pace around. Now he wasn’t entirely sure what to do. He could wait here and go to bath after Hinata returned as he had originally planned to do, but it was easy to see how that was a bad option, especially after what had just happened. In a sense, he could probably go to the bath right now and join Hinata, but…

It felt even more difficult now than before. He took a deep breath. Even though it felt difficult, it was probably the option that would make Hinata least upset… He kept pacing around for a while, trying to think all the possible options he had. He could just stay in the room, take a bath in the morning and somehow play it off but he kept getting the feeling that wasn’t going to work as well as he thought it would.

Time was running every second he spent on thinking, and on a spur of motivation he decided to just go to the bath.


 

Komaeda hesitantly slid over the door to the bath. There were a few people inside, but it didn’t take long for him to notice where Hinata was. He was sitting close to the door with his back turned to this direction, so he hadn’t noticed Komaeda yet. The approaching footsteps seemed to alarm him however, since he turned to look back when Komaeda was pretty close. Hinata stared at him for a moment, his face not showing any emotion for a moment.

Eventually Hinata gave him a small glare before turning to look away again. Komaeda walked the remaining distance and slipped into the water, leaving a bit of distance between them.

They were quiet for a while, without looking at each other. A group of young men were making a lot of noise on the other end of the bath, and it kind of made the silence feel even heavier.

“I thought you weren’t going to take a bath,” Hinata eventually shot out, his voice again carrying the harsh tone. Komaeda gave an awkward laugh.

“Yeah, I suppose that’s what I said…,” he said and instantly he could notice Hinata was getting frustrated by his reply. He quickly went on to continue talking, before even getting his thoughts together. “I think you might be slightly correct in saying I’ve been avoiding you. It’s not what I’ve been meaning to do, but I just keep feeling someone like me should keep his distance from someone like you...” Hinata gave a deep sigh at his words.

“Again with the ‘someone like me’ kind of thing?” Hinata said exasperatedly. “Can’t you really explain what you mean by that?” Komaeda pursed his lips, trying to make some sense of his thoughts.

“You’re someone amazing and strong, a person full of potential for hope.” Komaeda stared at the surface of the water, trying to talk quietly so that they wouldn’t attract attention. “And I’m… someone who isn’t really good enough. I keep doing things that upset you, so it’s just natural that I should keep my distance to avoid doing the same. But if that upsets you as well, then I don’t really know what to do.”

Hinata didn’t answer him for a long time. Komaeda presumed the other was thinking about what he had said, and he wanted to give him the peace for it so he didn’t say anything.

“I can’t say I understand any more than I understood before,” Hinata said eventually, but despite his words he didn’t sound nearly as upset anymore. “It’s not like I’m anyhow infallible either. I shouldn’t have gotten so angry over this, for starters. But somehow I get the feeling that there’s no use saying that but... Just be like normal, okay? There’s not much time left anyways, so I don’t think there’s any need to care about being good enough or bad enough at this point.” Hinata seemed to be trying to compromise with him, and even though Komaeda kind of wanted to disagree with some of what Hinata said, he decided not to.

There wasn’t much time left, huh… Komaeda pressed his lips tightly together. The other was saying that there wasn’t any need to care for doing things correctly at this point when there was little time left. Komaeda had kind of thought that made it even more important he did everything right, to make the rest of this time worthwhile for Hinata.

He hadn’t really thought about what this time meant for himself. It hadn’t really mattered to him until now, but…

He had wanted to make himself useful, but the more he kept taking Hinata’s needs and wants into account, the more useless he seemed to be. Maybe there was some truth in what Hinata said. If he wanted Komaeda to be just himself, to not consider anyhow the difference there was between them…

“I’ll try to do that…,” Komaeda said. He knew he wouldn’t be able to do it fully - not with his feelings making him feel so clumsy and awkward - but he could at least try to treat Hinata like he wanted to be treated and make himself useful.

“You better.” Hinata glanced at him after saying that. Komaeda gave him a smile.

“Then, should I wash your back this time?” he asked, remembering the last time they had been in the bath, in the very beginning of their journey together. Hinata had refused immediately back then.

“Wha- Are you stupid?” Hinata raised his voice, clearly surprised by his question. Komaeda just gave him a mischievous smile and Hinata seemed to realize what he was referring to. He shook his head, but Komaeda could see a small smile spread to his lips too. “No thank you,” Hinata answered shaking his head, as Komaeda had expected. He had been joking anyways; he wasn’t sure he would have had the nerve to do that in reality.

But it seemed to have brought Hinata’s mood up a bit, and Komaeda presumed it meant he had done something right.

It was making him feel cheerful as well.


 

Hinata had already gone to sleep, but Komaeda was still sitting on the porch. There was way too much to think about for him to be able to fall asleep. They had been able to talk normally in the bath after all that, but he had let Hinata leave before him. It had felt entirely too much for him to handle to leave at the same time, so he had settled for soaking in the bath and refusing to look Hinata’s way the whole time. The other hadn’t seemed to think it was strange however, since Komaeda had come to the bath later than him.

Komaeda sighed as he leaned back. It was really cold outside, so he would probably have to head back inside soon if he didn’t want to get sick again. But it felt like there had been constantly something going on this whole time, so he kind of wanted to enjoy this small moment of peace and quiet for a little longer.

Hinata had been writing in his notebook again when Komaeda got back from the bath. As soon as he had entered the room though, Hinata had put the notebook away again. Komaeda took this as a sign that he wasn’t supposed to first of all look and probably not ask either. He was growing more curious about it everyday, and if this had been happening some time ago, he probably would have been taking a peek right now. But now he was too scared of the consequences if Hinata found out, after all the times Komaeda had disappointed his trust.

It might contain information on Enoshima Junko though. In fact, it was pretty likely there was at least some mention of her in that notebook, considering how much impact she seemed to have on Hinata and how safely Hinata was guarding the notebook. Just thinking about this was making Komaeda’s fingers tingle; he could understand so much more if he just read that notebook…

Not that it would be easy to get his hands on it though. Hinata usually kept it in the bag he had with him, and Komaeda was pretty sure he had seen Hinata slip it under his pillow before he went to sleep. In fact, the best moment to peek at it would have been earlier today, when Hinata dashed out of the room but… It hadn’t really crossed his mind.

“Enoshima Junko, huh…,” he said quietly to himself, and immediately looked into the room to see that Hinata really was asleep in the room and hadn’t heard him. The other was still asleep, and he sighed both in relief and in frustration at himself. He had to be a bit more careful.

Tomorrow they were going to head into Nagano, and this time they were going to stay for two nights, to be able to see around the city. They had been travelling really slowly until now, traversing through a lot of small towns and villages on the way just to see around. They had said it was because the world was going to end, that they should see as much as possible, but… Komaeda had his doubts that Hinata hadn’t really been able to see Japan a lot before this, at least not for a while. If he was being pursued, it made sense to think he had been held in somewhere before this.

It would at least explain why sometimes Hinata seemed to have trouble remembering what the normal customs were in regular places, why he had been so unfamiliar with arcades and why he wanted to see a lot of places on the way. Of course, at this point Komaeda still had no guarantee this was the case but at the very least it was the theory that made most sense to him right now.

Maybe at some point Hinata would trust him enough to tell about his past. But until then, he was going to try his best to find out as much as he could on his own.

Chapter Text

“Remember…” The voice sounded distant, like someone was whispering it to him from the other side of the room and he couldn’t hear the rest of it. He had a heavy feeling, like he shouldn’t hear what the voice was saying, but at the same time reflexively he wanted to hear it, his curiosity moving him like a mindless puppet. He approached the source of the voice - he couldn’t see anything but it was like he knew where it was coming from.

“They need to...” The next words made him feel even worse, and he wanted to just get away but his feet kept carrying him onward. He felt like he was slowly being engulfed by flames as he got closer to the source of the voice, the heat burning off pieces of his skin away.

“You’ll do this for me, right?”

Hinata snapped awake, cold sweat dripping from his forehead to his blanket. His hands were shaking, and the last words he had heard in the dream kept repeating in his head, making him feel scared and unsafe. He could faintly understand he was about to get a panic attack even in the middle of his chaotic thoughts and feelings, and without really thinking about it he stumbled to the other side of the room and began to frantically shake Komaeda awake.

Komaeda startled awake and instantly sat up, like he was preparing to jump up and run. Hinata desperately clutched on his arm to stop him, and Komaeda turned to look at him, seemingly bewildered.

“Hinata-kun? What’s wrong?” he asked quickly, but Hinata just shook his head without saying anything. He didn’t know what to say, and he couldn’t really remember what was wrong even. The dream had washed out of his mind as soon as he had gotten up, but he was still feeling the vague feeling of fear.

Komaeda gave him a worried look, but Hinata was starting to calm down now that his head was getting clearer as he was waking up properly. He shook his head again, but this time with a bit more resolution.

“Sorry, it’s nothing.” His words didn’t seem to convince Komaeda, but Hinata decided to just leave it for now and he let go of Komaeda’s arm. “Just a weird dream,” he added as he stood up from the floor and wandered back to his side of the room to check the phone for the time. It was early morning; earlier than he had wanted to wake up but not so early as to go back to sleep anymore.

“If you’re sure…,” Komaeda said, getting up as well. Hinata nodded without really looking at Komaeda. He was feeling a bit embarrassed for waking up the other like that, when everything had been fine after all. He was still feeling weird - like he was on the edge - but his hands weren’t shaking anymore so he presumed it was nothing more than just that.


 

Hinata pursed his lips as he seated himself in the car. The feeling from the morning hadn’t really left him, his nerves feeling like a glass of water just about to overflow. Loud noises kept startling him and he had been feeling really conscious about other people and how close they were the whole breakfast. It was making him feel unsettled and nervous, like he was unable to relax.

He was pretty sure Komaeda had noticed something was up, but he didn’t really know what to say. They had talked about their travelling plans during the breakfast, to reconfigure what they were going to do in Nagano and where they were heading after that. Hinata had welcomed the topic with pleasure, since it gave him some break from his messy thoughts.

Komaeda threw the ice scraper into the back seat, and sat into the driver’s seat. Hinata glanced at him from the corner of his eye; they hadn’t really talked anything about yesterday. In the back of his mind, Hinata was slowly starting to understand what the nagging feeling was but he decided it was better to keep it buried under everything else, to make sure he didn’t complicate things between them.

Komaeda noticed him looking and gave him a small, awkward smile. Hinata just turned his eyes to the window. He didn’t want to face these feelings; it wasn’t like anything good would come out of accepting them. No matter what ended up happening between them, the world was going to end soon and take it all away in any case. He bit his lower lip; for some reason that thought felt scarier than it had until now.

He shook his head slightly. He couldn’t allow these thoughts and wishes at this point, there was nothing he could do to stop it from happening anymore. The world was going to end and take everything away… He felt the heavy feeling of guilt building up in the bottom of his stomach as his thoughts wandered to Komaeda again.

This was so selfish.

With a sigh of defeat, he decided to just read something. It would probably be better to just distract his thoughts, to make sure he didn’t end up ruining things by being impulsive. He turned around slightly to reach to the back seat, taking a book out of the bag.

“Oh, what are you going to read?” Komaeda asked as Hinata pulled back with the book. Hinata shrugged in response.

“I just picked something, I didn’t really check…,” he said as he inspected the back of the book. “Apparently it’s a romance novel written by someone named Fukawa Touko… Uh, why did we buy romance…?” Hinata questioned as he read the description of the book. He was starting to feel this hadn’t been a good idea after all.

“Ah, I’ve heard a lot of good about her books so I bought them. She has won a lot of awards and is said to be the best writer of our time, so I’ve been curious what they were like...” Komaeda seemed a bit flustered as he explained. Hinata looked at the book with suspicion; he was kind of intrigued after hearing Komaeda’s explanation, but…

He hesitantly opened the first page and began to read.


 

Hinata ended up being so captivated by the book that he didn’t even notice Komaeda had driven to a gas station before the car stopped. Slightly confused, he checked the clock to see that almost two hours had passed in the snap of a finger while he had been reading. He looked at Komaeda, who gave him a small smile.

“Have you been enjoying the book so far?” Komaeda asked as he began to get out of the car. Hinata set down the book as he got up from the car as well, nodding.

“Yeah, it’s written really well…,” Hinata began to explain about the book, as much as he could without spoiling anything. Despite his initial worries, the book had distracted him a lot better than he had even hoped for. Komaeda listened to him patiently, nodding sometimes and asking questions as they walked into the gas station. Komaeda interrupted him only to ask if Hinata was going to the bathroom - which he wasn’t - but otherwise the conversation stayed in books as they bought some drinks.

His nerves still felt like they were high-strung though, and it bothered him. The book had distracted his thoughts, but it hadn’t really taken the feeling of nervousness away. He felt kind of jittery as they returned to the car.

“There’s not much left to drive,” Komaeda explained when they seated themselves. “There’ll be a few tollgates soon we need to stop at though.” Hinata nodded as he put on his seatbelt. In the beginning of the trip, he had worried about the road tolls but now he didn’t really care about the money they had to pay anymore, knowing how much there was of it.

He glanced at the book, but he decided not to continue reading it for now.

“Where are we going to stay?” he asked after they had left the gas station. Komaeda had asked to borrow the phone from him a couple days ago to reserve the room for them, but he hadn’t really thought about to ask where they were going to stay. Komaeda seemed to lighten up a bit at the question, like he was happy he had asked.

“Ah, I got us a room at this one inn that’s right by the train station,” Komaeda said. “Since it’s close to the station, we don’t have to travel so much to see places this time. I’ve stayed there before too.”

“For work?”

“Well, for work too,” Komaeda said, a small smile on his lips. Hinata pursed his lips; he didn’t really want to ask why else Komaeda had been here, in case Komaeda would bring up his girlfriend. Ex-girlfriend. He had more or less broken them up after all. Hinata bit his lower lip as he considered his… possible feelings right now, and the fact that he had done that.

Gods, he felt like an asshole now. He let a silence drop between them as he looked out of the window. The regrets kept piling up in his mind the further along they went and the more he learned about Komaeda. This wasn’t right, he should have found another way to get to the north than to force someone else to take him there.

But he had been kind of short of options back then, with nothing but clothes and a knife on him.

He noticed Komaeda was slowing down, and he got out of his thoughts for a moment to glance forward. They were approaching a tollgate, and there was a small line in front of them.

For some reason, the line was moving a lot slower than it usually did. Hinata briefly wondered if there was something going on, but then again he didn’t how fast they’d normally process people and how common it was to be a bit slow. He decided to ask Komaeda about it, and the other shook his head.

“I’m not really too sure. My luck usually either lets me pass by quickly or I’ll be waiting the whole day. I think this time it’s just normal slowdown, so I don’t know how common it is,” he explained, sounding apologetic. Hinata shrugged in response; it wasn’t like they were really in any hurry. It was just late afternoon, they had a lot of time in their hands left.

The line progressed slowly in front of them, and Hinata tried to glance around to see if there was any reason for this. Komaeda seemed to be looking too, and just when Hinata took a peek at him, his face turned slightly pale. Hinata gave him a questioning look, but Komaeda didn’t look back at him.

“Ah… They’re having police checks for some reason…,” he answered, and Hinata felt his stomach turn upside down.

Chapter Text

“Did they come to get me?” Hinata stuttered out. Komaeda could tell the other’s breathing was getting irregular, and he bit his teeth together. He could just drive out of the line and get away, but that would definitely attract the attention of the police. Chances were this was just a routine check-up, nothing more, and suddenly trying to escape would just actually make them suspicious.

“Hinata-kun, it’s alright, I’ll take care of it,” Komaeda said, trying to sound as convincing as he could. It didn’t seem to help however, as Hinata started to slowly hyperventilate. They were already the second in line, and there wasn’t much Komaeda could do to calm him down.

More importantly he had to make sure the police wouldn’t suspect them. He quickly took the blanket from the backseat and offered it to Hinata.

“I’m sorry that I can’t do anything to make you feel better and that I’m asking this of you right now but could you please try your best to pretend you’re asleep? This is most likely just a routine check, but just to be safe,” he said. Hinata seemed like he couldn’t really answer him vocally but he nodded and took the blanket. As Hinata covered himself up and turned his face towards the window, feebly trying to keep himself still and quiet, Komaeda drove to the gate.

One of the police officers raised her hand in greeting, and Komaeda returned the notion. The officer then signaled for him to get out of the car. Komaeda gave a glance at HInata before he stepped out of the car and closed the door. He felt horrible for leaving the other alone in a situation like this but…

“Good day,” the officer who had called him out said. She seemed friendly, and had a smile on her lips. Komaeda smiled back at her.

“Good day. Is there something wrong?” he asked. The other officer seemed to be checking out his car.

“Ah, there’s no reason for distress,” she responded politely. “Are you traveling with your, umm… brother? Could you ask him--”

“Ah, no,” Komaeda corrected her without thinking. He should try to stop her somehow, and he supposed this was his only option. Hinata did have his new ID but if they knew what he looked like, this would be pretty bad. Besides, if they checked his ID in the first place, they’d know they weren’t brothers.

She gave him a questioning look, and Komaeda knew he had to come up with an explanation quickly. He could of course say Hinata was his friend, but saying that would probably sound a bit too much like an excuse, too suspicious. It wouldn’t stop her from wanting to talk to Hinata. He gathered his resolve quickly before answering.

“He’s, uh, my boyfriend…,” he said meekly. This should throw the officer off a little. At least he was counting on that element of surprise. If they really were looking for Hinata, they’d probably be on the lookout for suspicious people with no apparent ties, so saying friends wasn’t good. Claiming they were partners would make it seem less like a lie…

Still, Komaeda felt his cheeks heat up at his own words, despite the situation.

Not appropriate, he scolded himself in his thoughts.

The officer seemed a bit taken back by his reply.

“Ah, I see. Uh, where are you and your… partner coming from?” she asked, her composure regained soon. She was tapping her pen on the side of her notebook.

“We’re coming from Tokyo.” Komaeda presumed he shouldn’t mention Kyoto just in case. It wasn’t like he was lying either, they had stayed at Tokyo for a while.

“I see. Were you going to go skiing in the mountains?” she asked and Komaeda tilted his head. “We noticed you don’t have winter tires. I know there’s not much use for them in Tokyo, but I’d really recommend changing into them, especially if you’re going to the mountains,” she clarified. Komaeda felt like cursing aloud. He should have gotten those tired changed in Tokyo, in case this was the reason they had been stopped.

Of course, they really could be looking out for Hinata and this was just an excuse to interrogate them. It would probably be best to pretend to be oblivious…

“Winter tires?” he questioned. “Is there really that much snow?” The officer seemed to relax a little, like she was used to this question.

“There’s not that much snow in the city that you couldn’t necessarily handle yourself without them, but if you’re going to head to the mountains or outside of the city in general, the roads are not too safe with normal tires since they’re not taken care of as much. There has been way more snow this year than usually too, so it’s really recommended to change into winter tires,” she explained while jotting something down on her notebook. Her partner seemed to be done inspecting the car as he returned to her side.

“Ahh, I see! Thank you for the warning, I didn’t think about that when we left,” Komaeda said. The police officer smiled at him and ripped one page off her notebook.

“Here are some places you can contact for getting new tires and changing into them, they do good work,” she explained as she handed the piece of paper to him. On it were the names of a few companies and their contact information, and he nodded before pushing it to his pocket.

“I’ll definitely get to it, thank you for the help,” he said and glanced into the car. He felt like he had been kept here for so long and he was getting increasingly worried about Hinata each second.

“Thank you for being cooperative. You can leave now,” she said after writing down something more. Komaeda noticed she had been purposefully making sure he couldn’t see her notes the whole time.

“Alright, thank you,” Komaeda said. As soon as he could after saying goodbye, he got into the car and started to drive away. He could hear Hinata’s ragged breathing even before the other pulled down the blanket.

“It’s okay now, Hinata-kun,” Komaeda tried to assure him. Hinata seemed to understand; he did nod, but his hyperventilation didn’t of course just end like that. Komaeda pressed his teeth together as he wished he could just pull aside and help the other calm down. But he couldn’t do that right now, so he just offered his other hand for Hinata. “I’m sorry, this is all I can do to help...” He could hear the strain on his voice.

After a few seconds of silence - seconds that felt like an eternity - Hinata shook his head and grabbed Komaeda’s hand with both of his own, grasping at his fingers like his life depended on it. Komaeda just squeezed back, ignoring the pain. Quietly he began to count the breathing for Hinata.


 

By the time they parked in the hotel’s parking lot, Hinata had yet to let go of Komaeda’s hand. Komaeda had somewhat managed to handle the driving with Hinata holding his hand but it hadn’t really been too easy. Hinata seemed to have slowly calmed down by now, and when Komaeda shut off the car, Hinata let go of him.

“Are you feeling better?” Komaeda asked softly, trying his best to resist rubbing his hand. The other had held on a bit too tight the whole time but Komaeda didn’t want to let it show. Hinata nodded in response, looking away from him.

“I’m sorry,” he muttered quietly, his voice rough, and Komaeda shook his head.

“As long as you’re feeling better,” he said, leaning back on his seat. A silence fell between them, and it felt like there was a heavy blanket over them; like the unsaid words were weighing them down. Komaeda had a lot of questions and he was sure Hinata could sense it. But he didn’t want to burden the other with his questions, especially not now. “Would you like to go to the hotel room to rest? Or would you like to go somewhere to eat? We could also order something from room service.”

“I don’t really feel like eating,” Hinata answered. “Let’s just get into the room.”

“Alright.” Komaeda got out of the car and took all their bags from the backseat. He managed to catch Hinata’s bag too before the other even got out of the car. Hinata gave him a confused look but Komaeda just smiled at him before walking towards the hotel. Hinata followed after him without a word. There was a lot of snow here in comparison to Tokyo.

The hotel was warm when they walked into the hall and Komaeda headed to the reception desk right away.

“Hi, I have a reservation under the name Komaeda Nagito,” he said to the woman sitting by the desk. She asked him a few questions as she typed on her computer, presumably registering their check-in. Soon he was given the keys, and he picked up the bags from the floor where he had put them down in the meantime. Hinata had picked his own up while he had been talking, but Komaeda didn’t say anything about that.

Their room was on the second floor, so they took the stairs. Hinata didn’t seem anyhow troubled or exhausted over the stairs; he might not have been as tired from the panic attack as Komaeda had feared.

When they got into the room, Hinata took his shoes and jacket off quickly and walked to the other bed to sit down. Komaeda took his time taking his jacket off, before seating himself on the other bed. For a moment, the silence rested between them.

“What did they say?” Hinata broke the silence eventually. Komaeda was a bit surprised; he had presumed Hinata might not want to discuss this right away, since everything had turned out alright.

“They asked me who I was traveling with, where we were coming from and where we were going,” Komaeda explained. “I told them you were my, friend, and that we were coming from Tokyo, on our way to a skiing resort.”

“Okay…,” Hinata mumbled out a response. “... Wouldn’t it have been better to say I was your cousin or something similar?” he questioned soon after. Komaeda smiled at him, not knowing how to react. Hinata was right, in comparison to the “friends” Komaeda had claimed to have said. Hinata tilted his head when he didn’t answer.

“You’re right, that would have been a lot less suspicious…,” he agreed. What he had really said was in fact better than saying they were cousins, because it had thrown off the officer but… It wasn’t like Hinata needed to know that part. “Sorry,” he added, the slight guilt from lying and having said what he had hanging over him.

“Well, it’s… it’s not like it matters, as long as we got away.” Hinata dropped on the bed and let out a deep sigh, like he was letting all the anxiety flow out of him with it. The conversation seemed to have stopped for now, Hinata clearly wanting to rest, and Komaeda got up from his bed.

“I’ll be back soon, okay?” he said to Hinata who gave him a questioning look when he headed towards the door. Without saying anything, Hinata nodded and Komaeda walked out of the room.

Chapter Text

Hinata stared at the ceiling, resting his hands on his stomach. Feeling his stomach move in rhythm with his breathing felt weirdly calming, and he closed his eyes. It had been a couple minutes since Komaeda left, but he didn’t really have the energy to even wonder where the other had gone, much less worry about it.

He sighed. Somehow, somewhere on the way he had forgotten to be worried over the police finding him; it was like with Komaeda taking care of everything for him and with the new ID, he had started to feel safe. Invincible, even. Like he was in a bubble where no one could find him. But reality was that he was still vulnerable. Very much so.

Hinata felt a squeeze in his stomach and he shook his head. For now, he shouldn’t think about it. Everything was alright for now, so he shouldn’t panic needlessly.

That’s right, just keep calm…, ’ he thought and for a second, he got a feeling like he wanted Komaeda to come back already.

And like he had summoned the other, the door clicked open and Hinata sat up.

“Ah, it’s just me,” Komaeda said to him, with a gentle smile on his lips. Hinata just stared at him, without answering. Komaeda didn’t wait around for it and instead walked over to him and offered him a bottle of water. “I know you said you don’t feel like eating, but I do think you should at least drink something. I hope water is okay with you.”

“Y-yeah, it is,” Hinata said after a small pause and took the bottle. He hadn’t really paid attention to how dry his mouth had been all this time, but as soon as he drank the first gulp he understood how thirsty he had been. He stared at the bottle after drinking almost half of it at once. “... Thank you.” Komaeda gave him a small smile.

“It’s nothing.” He sat on the other bed and opened his own water bottle, taking a sip out of it. “When you feel better, we should go eat something.” Hinata nodded, shaking his bottle slightly and watching the water move. He felt a bit weird… a bit anxious, but in a different way from earlier. Sort of like he couldn’t relax. Komaeda tilted his head slightly and Hinata looked to the side.

“Yeah, we should… You can eat something now though, it might take some time until I feel like eating,” Hinata said while Komaeda still looked at him, a smile still plastered on his face like it had been this whole time. He might have been doing that to help Hinata feel better and safer.

And just a little bit, he felt like that might be working.

“I’m fine, I’m not really that hungry,” Komaeda answered, shaking his head.

“‘That hungry’ just means you are hungry. Just, eat something,” Hinata insisted, flopping back to lie on his bed again. He rested his hands on his stomach this time too, but now he could also feel his own heartbeat faintly with the tips of his fingers, like it was beating a bit louder than before.

“... Okay, if you want me to, I’ll get something small for myself then,” Komaeda answered, his voice softer than before.

“Yeah, do that.”


 

“I think I could eat something now,” Hinata said, breaking the silence between them. It had been a couple hours since they came to the hotel now; Komaeda had gotten himself some snacks from a vending machine in the hotel lobby earlier. They had been reading books ever since in complete silence.

Komaeda seemed to almost… light up from his words.

“Of course! What would you like to go eat?” he asked as he got up from his bed.

“I don’t really have any preference, so you decide,” Hinata said, turning his book upside down on the bed and getting up. Komaeda gave him a slightly sullen look.

“Are you sure there’s not anything you’d like? Or something you absolutely don’t want?” he questioned, and Hinata pursed his lips. For a fraction of a second he was about to snap back, say something close to ‘ that’s what I said ’, but the sight of Komaeda, with his hair drooping in the bath water as he talked to him quietly, flashed in his mind and he held his tongue back. There really was no reason for him to get upset again.

“Really, I’m sure. As long as it’s not sakuramochi,” he said with a small smile, and Komaeda returned it.

“Okay, then how about we go eat sushi? I know a good place near from here…” Hinata nodded and chuckled a bit as they walked to the hall. Komaeda gave him a slightly confused look.

“You just know all these good places everywhere, don’t you?” Hinata explained.

“Ahaha, I guess I do,” Komaeda laughed as he put his coat on. “It’s partly because of my work, but I travelled a lot on my own when I graduated high school. So I got to know a lot of places to stay or eat at.” Hinata listened to the explanation as he put his shoes on.

“Why was that?” he asked while Komaeda opened the door for them. He seemed to ponder his answer for a few seconds.

“I guess I just didn’t know what else to do. There was also the possibility I’d find something or meet someone interesting. Not that I found anything, so I guess in hindsight I could have done something else during that time instead,” Komaeda explained, before seeming to realize something suddenly. ”Although, I suppose all of my actions until now allowed me the possibility of meeting you, so I think it was all worth it after all.”

Komaeda smiled as he talked, and Hinata felt his heart jump. He bit on his lower lip and dropped his head, feeling a little heat rising to his cheeks. This… he probably would have been better off not having heard this, not when he was still struggling to push back the unneeded feelings that were trying to force their way into his thoughts.

“And all I’ve learned and found out during that time has helped me make this trip easier for you, too,” Komaeda added like an afterthought, and Hinata almost told him to shut up as a momentary impulse, but he stopped himself before he did. Komaeda wouldn’t be able to understand why he told him to shut up, and would probably assume Hinata just didn’t want to hear about his past. And that wasn’t it at all, so he just didn’t want to cause another misunderstanding.

“Yeah, I guess it’s useful,” he said instead, and proceeded to try his best to steer the conversation away from this.


 

Hinata leaned back on the bench he was sitting on. They had been wandering around for a little while after eating, until they reached the park he currently was at, and Komaeda had asked him to wait here for a moment. He had been a bit hesitant to stay here alone, but the other had promised to be back as quickly as he could so he had agreed to it.

It was a bit cold to just sit around though, and he warmed his hands with his breath. The gloves weren’t really thick enough to keep the cold out…

Hinata looked up at the sky; they had been talking about all sorts of meaningless stuff today, like Komaeda had been trying his best to keep up a conversation to distract him. Some time ago it would have made Hinata feel suspicious, but if Komaeda had really wanted to turn him over to the police, he would have done it already.

Yes, it was more like Komaeda was doing his best to make Hinata feel better. And just that thought made Hinata feel all restless, making his toes curl up without thinking about it. He was already starting to feel like trying to resist was a futile effort, but then again he didn’t want to just give up. Even if there were some feelings, there was no reason for him to think they were anything else but a passing thought, something he’d forget in a month or so…

Except he didn’t really have that month left to get over it.

The thought made him feel all queasy. Even though he had left on this journey with the goal to just get a few days more, he still felt like he hadn’t really feared the end of the world as much as he did now. Back then the end of the world wouldn’t have really brought any change to his life, but now he felt like there would be regrets left; like there were things he wanted to do before the world ended. That hadn’t been the purpose of his trip at all, the whole reason for this had been to be able to see the world end and maybe do something to stop it.

Instead he was starting to feel drowned in his selfish feelings and thoughts, wishes for something different to happen. He wanted to see so much more, he wanted to be able to do so much more. He just wished so much for the world not to end, to give him a little more time to do what he wanted, and with every passing day it felt like the amount of things he wanted to do kept increasing.

And at the same time, he didn’t want to let them increase by acknowledging these desires and letting them roam free, but at the same time his heart felt heavy thinking he would leave this world carrying the regret of having kept it all inside.

There was so little time left, if he didn’t say everything he wanted soon, he was going to eventually find out all the time slipped through his fingers faster than he could even notice.

He wanted to do so much more, he wanted to talk about so many more things with Komaeda, he wanted to go to so many more places with him and see the places Komaeda had travelled to. Maybe even go back to Kyoto, actually see around the house Komaeda had lived in, see the building the other had worked in, the places he had went on walks.

There were just so many things he still wanted to do.

Before he even noticed it coming, he could feel hot tears flowing down his cheeks at these thoughts. He had already thought he had come into terms with the world ending, that he was ready for any outcome and that there was no point for him to worry about it anymore. He had been okay with the thought, he had accepted it.

But…

He wanted to live a lot longer.

Just accepting that thought to himself made the tears burn his eyes with their intensity, and he rubbed his eyes with his gloves desperately, trying to stop the pain. He shouldn’t cry about this anymore, he had known this was coming for a long time. Just because he had something more to lose now shouldn’t mean he just suddenly found all his conclusions falling apart.

“Hinata-kun?! Is everything alright?” He suddenly heard a voice call, and his heart skipped a beat as he turned to look at Komaeda. The other seemed incredibly flustered and worried as he hurried over to him. “I’m sorry for leaving you alone, did something happen?” Hinata just shook his head in response and pulled the best smile he could. Komaeda had kept smiling at him all this time to make him feel better, it was just right he tried to do his best to return the favor.

“I’m alright, I just got a bit emotional thinking about things,” he said, taking a deep breath as he rubbed his eyes. The tears were slowing down. “Where did you go? Can I hear now?” He tried to sound as cheerful as he could, trying to reassure Komaeda everything was okay.

Because everything was supposed to be that way, after all. This had to be just a momentary breakdown, and he would get it together tomorrow again.

Komaeda didn’t seem convinced at all, but seemingly he decided not to press the issue. Instead he lifted up the small box he had in his hand to bring Hinata’s attention to it.

“I went to buy kusamochi for you, since you mentioned you liked it and I thought it would cheer you up…,” Komaeda said, and Hinata couldn’t help giving him a surprised look; mostly at the fact Komaeda had even remembered it. He had forgotten even telling Komaeda about it until now. He felt his cheeks growing warmer. “Are you sure you’re alright though? I meant to cheer you up, but when I come back I see you’re crying so I can’t help but to feel like I did something wrong...”

“I’m really okay, I think I’m just a bit overemotional since I’m tired,” Hinata reassured him, before looking at the box. “... Thank you, I love kusamochi. It’s been forever since I’ve gotten to eat any…” He pressed his lips together, as his whole body felt warmer now. He might be coming down with a cold…

… or at least, that was the lie he was going to settle on believing for now.

Chapter Text

Komaeda stared at the ground, feeling helpless as he sat on the bench next to Hinata. The other had insisted he was okay and that there was nothing wrong, but Komaeda somehow couldn’t accept it as completely true. It wasn’t that he suspected Hinata of lying to him, but… he had had a panic attack not any longer than a few hours ago, so Komaeda wanted to make sure everything really was alright.

But there wasn’t much he could do if he didn’t know more about why Hinata had cried. And pushing Hinata for information wasn’t really an option he wanted to take.

Hinata was currently pretty cheerful, eating the kusamochi from the box Komaeda had brought. At least that felt like something Komaeda had done well. He just wished he could do more.

He pursed his lips, the frustration of his own inability to do more starting to take over his thoughts. Hinata had been struggling so much today, and all he had managed to do was buy some food… It would be much easier if Hinata demanded more from him, told him what he could do to help.

He wasn’t just that good at knowing what was helpful and what wasn’t.

Wrapped up in his thoughts, he hadn’t noticed snow had started to fall before Hinata pointed it out to him.

“It’s snowing quite a bit, should we head back to the hotel?” Hinata was holding the now empty box in his hands, and Komaeda gave him a smile as he nodded.

“You’re right, let’s head back,” he answered as he got up from the bench, Hinata immediately following his example. As they started to head towards the hotel, Komaeda couldn’t help but notice Hinata was walking a little bit closer to him than usual. Whether it was just his imagination or Hinata seeking some sort of support from him, Komaeda felt a bit nervous about the distance.

He really hoped he had more experience what to do with feelings like these.

“About earlier…,” Hinata said after they had been walking for a while. Komaeda nodded to show he was listening. “I was actually thinking about the end of the world, and I… I just got to thinking about if it, if it scares you at all...”

“Scare?” Komaeda tilted his head, feeling confused by the question. “Why would it scare me? If anything, I’m excited for it! I’ll have the chance to witness a despair so deep that the amount of hope it has to bring out will certainly be immense! Especially in someone as amazing as you!” His earlier nervousness got quickly overturned by excitement as he talked, but there was an uneasy feeling hanging in the back of his head as well.

Hinata seemed a bit strained listening to him, though. He sighed before speaking.

“I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything else…,” Hinata said, staring at the ground. “I suppose that’s a certain kind of strength. But I...” Hinata stopped abruptly in the middle of the sentence, like he had decided against of saying whatever he was about to say. Komaeda looked at him, pondering the situation. If Hinata had brought this topic up right now…

“Does it scare you?” he asked softly, and Hinata flinched just enough to be noticed. He looked away from Komaeda, but instead of the silence Komaeda had expected he did answer him.

“That’s probably the case… It’s been so long that I got used to the thought and prepared for it, but…,” Hinata said quietly, and Komaeda had to lean a bit closer to hear him properly. “But now, even thinking about it makes me feel uneasy. I wish I could be as brave as you and just accept it’s coming like I’ve done all these years...”

Komaeda pressed his lips together, trying to piece together his thoughts to know what he should say. At the same time, he really found it hard to understand why Hinata was so scared, but then again somehow he felt his heart being squeezed like there was some sort of pain, some pain that made him understand what Hinata meant by his words…

“I don’t think it’s about me being stronger than you, because I’m certainly not strong or brave. I suppose it’s just that my luck has taught me to understand everything bad will eventually bring me something good,” he explained, and flashed a smile at Hinata. “Besides, the end of the world doesn’t really scare me that much when I think about the fact that I will be able to be with you when it happens!”

Hinata looked at him after his words, his eyes wide in surprise and Komaeda suddenly felt his cheeks heating up a little bit. That hadn’t come out as he had intended to…

“I mean, of course if you’ll allow me the honor of being with you until that. I’m not going to force you to be with trash like me any longer than you’re willing to,” Komaeda corrected himself, looking down at the ground. A silence fell between them for a moment that felt a lot longer than it probably was.

“I don’t think there’s any reason right now for me to not allow that...,” Hinata answered to him eventually, so quietly that Komaeda almost missed it. “Although, it’s not like there’s any benefit to being with me when that happens but you’re free to do whatever you want.” Komaeda glanced at him to see Hinata looking at the ground, seeming a little bit nervous.

“Thank you, I’m glad to hear that,” Komaeda answered, trying to sound as cheerful and… like he usually was as he could. He had no idea how well that went, but they spent the rest of the walk to the hotel in awkward silence.


 

After making sure Hinata was really asleep, Komaeda sneaked out of their hotel room. It was already pretty late at night, and Komaeda had been waiting for a while to make sure Hinata was in deep enough sleep that he wouldn’t wake up.

There were still a few workers around the hotel, but besides of them the lobby was empty. No one was using the computers either as Komaeda had expected, and he walked to one of them and quickly started up the browser. He had been waiting for a good chance to use the computer ever since he booked the room from this hotel, to finally be able to search up information on Enoshima Junko. He should be quick, since even though Hinata was asleep now and wasn’t probably waking up after how exhausting today had been, he still wanted to be careful to not let the other realize what he was up to.

The lobby was silent enough that the keyboard almost echoed in the room, and it made him feel even more urgent about this. At first, the search mostly prompted nothing but old articles from the years she had been modeling; Komaeda went through a few of those articles to get some information on her, but there was close to nothing exceptional. She was scouted from the streets, started modeling and eventually became popular enough to appear in dramas and television shows. The only thing weird about it was how quickly she rose up to that point, but even that wasn’t really exceptional enough to make it stand out that much.

He was about to give up for the night, when he found a forum discussion on her disappearance. He quickly scrolled through it, trying to look for any signs of new information. Most of it was the same stuff that the magazine had said, just worded differently, and then arguing on theories to why she disappeared. Most of the posters insisted that something happened with her family and that’s why she disappeared. Everything from her father returning from overseas and stopping her modeling to having to return to the countryside to help her family.

The amount of the theories was way too much to go through all of them, and while any of them could be right with the information Komaeda had, he still decided to rely on his hunch and stopping to read only the ones that felt like could be close to it.

After a lot of theories he didn’t read and theories he did read but didn’t feel like they were right, he finally came across a comment in the thread that caught his interest.

Look I don’t think it even CAN be something like that... If she really had just returned to countryside, no matter how far she had gone I think there would have been someone who had recognized her. With all the silence from the media about this I think it has to be something more than that. Something like a criminal organisation kidnapping her, or her getting involved with some serious crime, or government hiding her somewhere for some reasons. Maybe she was actually an agent from another country???

Komaeda leaned closer to the screen as he scrolled down from the comment, but most of the responses were either blaming the person as a conspiracist or people bringing up weird fantasies. The discussion quickly went down from there and Komaeda decided it wasn’t worth looking into any more.

He erased the browsing history before leaving the computer and walking to the vending machines to get a bottle of water. His search had been pretty fruitless, but he couldn’t get that one comment out of his head. He did find the theory of government hiding her just as ridiculous as the people in the forum, but the idea that she might have been involved with some serious crime stuck with him. Because if her disappearance had anything to do with Hinata and considering Hinata’s reaction to her, it wouldn’t feel far fetched to think she had committed some crime.

But the question of what that crime could be was still just as much a mystery as it had been until now. Komaeda bit on his lip. It was pretty likely someone was trying to keep what happened to her as a secret from the public, and trying to find more information with someone hiding it was near to impossible with his resources. If there was just more time, he could hire someone to find out what happened to her but…

He took the bottle of water from the vending machine before walking back to the room. Maybe there was no chance to find out more about Enoshima Junko, but he wasn’t going to give up just yet. There was a chance his luck would help him find something useful.

His luck was the one thing he could count on, after all.

Chapter Text

When Hinata woke up, the sun was just about to rise, making it clear quickly that he had woken up a bit too early. But he didn’t feel tired, so with feelings of disappointment he got up from the bed and dragged himself to the bathroom. Komaeda seemed to be sleeping soundly so he tried to keep quiet; there was no reason to wake up Komaeda just yet.

After closing the bathroom door behind him, he turned to look at the mirror. Frankly, he looked awful. His hair was a mess and judging by his face one would think he hadn’t slept properly in weeks.

“Not that it’s too far away from the truth…,” he muttered as he opened the tap to wash his face at least. After everything that had happened yesterday, he felt exhausted mentally. Even if he had been able to face his thoughts properly and accept them, part of him wished that he hadn’t; maybe then these uncertainties wouldn’t be hanging over him now. He would have been able to live in blissful ignorance of these thoughts and feelings, and…

He wiped his face dry with a towel and gave a dry smile to his reflection. He hadn’t thought that anything would change inside him. His stance on the world ending or his own probable death, or most of all that he would end up developing feelings for someone. But he couldn’t deny any of that anymore.

Hinata gritted his teeth. It was idiotic of him to get his mind so confused by another person, when he knew there was nothing to be done about it. Komaeda wouldn't fall in love with him and even if by some miracle he did, it wouldn't lead to anything… no happiness for them to achieve anymore when there was less than a month left.

“And as if something as convenient as him falling in love with me would ever happen…,” he mumbled before sighing. He should stop even entertaining these thoughts, he was already feeling low enough. More than that, he wanted to make sure they would be able to do something Komaeda wanted to do as well. Hinata wasn’t sure if he was ready to let him return to Kyoto, but the least he could do was to make sure they did something Komaeda wanted to, too, instead of just going along with whatever Hinata wanted.

He looked at the mirror, feeling determined.


 

Komaeda woke up over an hour later, a little after seven.

“Morning,” Hinata said, setting aside the book he had been reading. Komaeda gave him a wide smile, without saying anything and instead blinking his eyes slowly. He seemed to be half asleep and Hinata smiled a little bit.

“Morning…,” Komaeda eventually muttered after spending a little moment to shake off the remains of the sleepiness. “Have you been awake long?”

Hinata shook his head.

“No, I haven't,” he lied, sitting up on his bed. Komaeda just nodded before yawning and getting up from his bed. Hinata couldn’t help following Komaeda with his eyes as the other walked into the bathroom. When the door closed, he sighed. He should try to keep low profile for a while now, until he got his feelings settled to some sort of balance. He slapped his cheeks as he stood up from his bed. They would probably go eat breakfast after Komaeda was done.

He walked to the window to look outside as he waited. There were already a lot of people in the streets, heading to work or school, living their normal life. Had things gone a little differently, Komaeda would be like them right now, peacefully going to work without thinking about the end of the world or having to worry about Hinata.

It was probably wrong of Hinata to take Komaeda away from that life, and now that he was coming to terms with his thoughts he kind of regretted everything. But then again, despite these thoughts he felt like he would do it all over again was he given the chance to start all over. It was probably incredibly selfish of him to want the other beside him despite knowing it might not be the happy option for Komaeda, but…

“Hinata-kun, are you hungry?” Komaeda’s voice interrupted his line of thought, and Hinata turned to look at him. Komaeda tilted his head with a smile, standing in front of the bathroom door. Hinata nodded, turning his eyes to the floor. “Okay, then let’s go eat breakfast!” Komaeda said cheerfully without seemingly taking notice of Hinata avoiding looking at him.

Perhaps he would be able to keep it hidden better than he had expected.


 

“What should we do today?” Komaeda asked him in the middle of their breakfast. Hinata looked at him and gulped down the food he had been chewing on.

“What would you want to do?” he returned a question to the other. He didn’t really know a lot about Nagano in the first place either, so this would be a good moment to take care they did something Komaeda wanted to do. Komaeda seemed surprised by his answer, not answering him for a moment.

“Uh, well I’ve visited most of the places I’d want to visit here so I think it’s better if you decide…,” Komaeda eventually said, sounding confused and a bit hesitant.

“‘Most’ of the places? Where haven’t you gone then?” Hinata insisted, and Komaeda dropped his eyes to his plate in front of him, like he was trying to take a moment to figure out what to say.

“There’s one art museum here, but I never visited it because with my luck, something would end up going wrong and I don’t want any of the beautiful works there to be ruined…,” Komaeda explained, sounding a bit gloomy before he lifted his eyes again, looking a bit more cheerful. “There’s a really famous and beautiful temple here, would you like to see it?” He began to excitedly explain about the temple, like he was trying to change the topic desperately.

Hinata wasn’t sure how to change the topic back to the art museum, so he just went along with Komaeda’s suggestion to visit the temple.


 

Hinata rubbed his hands together in front of his face, trying to warm them up with his breath as they walked in the temple courtyard. There were a lot of people here, more than Hinata had expected. Komaeda had said they should stick close to each other to make sure they didn’t get lost, but Hinata found it a little difficult so he constantly kept shifting a bit farther away from Komaeda.

Komaeda didn’t seem to mind, instead explaining to him about everything they saw in the temple. Hinata listened to him the best he could, the subject interesting him somewhat but it was a bit difficult for him to concentrate fully. The temple was as beautiful as Komaeda had said though, especially now that it had a light snow coat.

Komaeda seemed to be cheerful, but Hinata still had his thoughts stuck on the art museum. He wasn’t really sure how much Komaeda wanted to visit, but he had a feeling the other would really like to go. Like back with the glassware shop, Komaeda had said he would have loved to buy something from there and had apparently been really happy about Hinata buying the marble for him as well.

The marbles... Hinata pushed his hand into his pocket, soon finding the two pieces of glass from there. He didn’t take them out; there was really no meaning in doing so right now. But he really wondered how much Komaeda had actually loved those works, if he had gotten so attached to the marble to ask to see it every once so often. He hadn’t understood it at first, but right now he was kind of getting to understand the feeling, albeit he probably liked his own for a whole different reason.

The marble had been the first thing Komaeda had bought for him, after all. And with that, it was also the first thing of his own Hinata had had in a long, long time. He smiled a little as he thought about it. When had the last time even been…

Engrossed in his thoughts, he didn't even notice the loud crack over the sounds of people talking, and thus let out a surprised yelp when Komaeda suddenly yelled something and pulled him away. Something hit the side of his face, scratched against it painfully right before he fell down on top of Komaeda. A lot of people around them screamed and in the midst of the mess he could barely hear what Komaeda said to him.

“H-Hinata-kun, are you alright?” Komaeda asked, his voice sounding muffled and a little pained, and Hinata quickly got up to let Komaeda get up from under him. As he did, he felt a wince of pain on his temple and he put his hand against it. As soon as he did, he could feel something wet on it through his glove.

“I think I’m okay but it hurts a little bit…,” he said as he looked at his glove to confirm it was blood. It didn't feel like it had cut him deep, and he gave a reassuring smile to Komaeda who seemed shocked at the sight. “Just a shallow cut…” As he said that, a few of the temple staff rushed to them, helping them both up from sitting on the ground, spouting apologies and asking questions from Hinata about his wound.

As he answered the questions, he glanced to his side at the huge branch that had fallen from a tree. Had Komaeda not pulled him aside, it would have fallen on his head and even at the best case scenario would have knocked him out. It would have most likely hit Komaeda too.

“I’m sorry,” Komaeda whispered to him as the temple staff began to guide them inside to get Hinata treated. “It was my fault…” Hinata didn't have time to answer as the monk next to him began to ask questions again.

The staff explained that it had probably been due to the unnaturally heavy snowfall and that the branch hadn’t been able to take the pressure.

Just a case of bad luck that it had broken when they had been under it.


 

“I’m so sorry,” Komaeda apologized again when they walked out of the temple, after the staff had treated Hinata’s wound and made sure they really were okay. Hinata looked at Komaeda to see the other looking at the ground with a pained look on his face. “If you hadn’t been with me, this wouldn’t have happened to you.”

Hinata bit his lower lip for a moment before he talked.

“It’s not like you can affect what your luck will do,” Hinata said firmly. “But you were the one who pulled me from under the branch in time, so if anything I consider I should thank you more than blame you for this. This is just a scratch after all,” Hinata continued, touching the wound pad. It didn’t hurt that much anymore, but Komaeda still seemed guilty when he looked at it.

“But...”

“Thank you for saving me, Komaeda,” Hinata said decisively to stop the other’s words, and Komaeda looked at the ground again. Hinata felt a bit bad about his tone when the other seemed to be upset, but then again he had just said what was on his mind. They walked in silence for a moment, when Hinata realized something.

“This was caused by your bad luck, right?” he asked, and Komaeda looked at him and nodded. He seemed confused by the question and Hinata gave a little smile. “Then we could go to the art museum now, right? If this was bad luck, then next should be good luck?” Komaeda’s eyes widened at the suggestion.

“Ah, but it’s not so sure good luck will follow right after, it’s entirely possible the bad luck will just continue…,” he protested but Hinata shook his head.

“Let’s go. If something bad happens, then it’ll be my fault because I was the one who told us to go, alright?” he said. He was going to be stubborn about this; if the world was going to end, he wanted to let Komaeda at least visit one place he had wanted to visit but hadn’t been able to. Besides, even if something wound up happening to the paintings, it didn’t really matter when the end was so close… Or at least, that was Hinata’s opinion. But he decided not to voice these thoughts since he wasn’t sure how Komaeda would react to them.

“If, if you absolutely want to go then I’m not going to refuse, but…,” Komaeda hesitated, but Hinata didn’t budge and just nodded enthusiastically. He was determined to let Komaeda see those paintings while they still had the chance. Komaeda sighed, sounding defeated.

“Alright, let’s go.”

Chapter Text

Komaeda tapped his fingers nervously on the counter as he waited for the lady on the desk to print out their tickets. The hallway was wide and all the footsteps around echoed faintly from the walls and ceiling. He glanced at Hinata, who was walking around the hallway looking at the paintings they had on display there. The other had insisted on coming here, so he hadn’t refused but…

He felt like Hinata had come here because of him, instead of actually wanting to visit this place, and it was making Komaeda feel weird. He would have much rather gone to where Hinata wanted to go, he was much more used to that than doing things he actually wanted. He looked at the paintings around, feeling a squeeze in his stomach as he thought his luck might end up destroying some of them.

It was already bad enough that they had almost been hit by the branch today, it was a clear sign his luck was being unstable. But at the same time, just the thought that his luck might destroy something also made him kind of excited. If something bad happened now, it would be so horrible and it would also reap so much good luck later… He felt shivers running down his spine as he took the tickets and turned towards Hinata.

‘As long as that luck just didn’t strike at Hinata again ,’ he thought, gritting his teeth.

“Shall we go?” Komaeda asked when he reached Hinata, and the other just nodded. A silence fell between them as they began to walk around the museum. Hinata seemed to be relatively interested in the paintings as well, occasionally stopping to look at some and waiting for Komaeda whenever he stopped.

The museum was quiet enough that their footsteps echoed off the walls, making Komaeda feel really aware of their surroundings. There seemed to be nothing wrong, but he couldn’t help but constantly wait for something bad to happen. Maybe even exactly because it was so calm.

When he stopped to admire one work of art, he could soon notice a pair of eyes looking at him.

“What is it, Hinata-kun? Is there something on my face?” he asked, trying to sound as normal as possible but he could hear his voice betray that he was nervous.

“Ah, no.” Hinata seemed surprised by his question. “I was just wondering, you seem to love art a lot and I was kind of thinking why is that so…,” he explained, and Komaeda smiled widely. This was an easy question to answer!

“That’s because art is full of hope, don’t you think?” he said cheerfully.

“Ahh, it’s hope again, huh…,” Hinata said, with a dry smile on his lips. “I guess I should have guessed…”

“Don’t you think so? Art is something someone has put all their hope and worth, their talent into doing, trying to express their feelings the best way they can, in hopes those feelings will be passed onto anyone who sees it!” Komaeda explained, turning his eyes again to the painting they were standing in front of. “They’ve created something entirely new, something only they could do with their talent, pouring all their hope into it and now they’re here, expressing those thoughts to thousands if not millions of people!”

Hinata had seemed a bit exasperated at his initial response, but with his explanation, he seemed to turn more interested in what he was talking about.

“Expressing their thoughts through art, huh…,” Hinata muttered, looking at the painting as well. “I haven’t really ever thought about it like that…”

And just as the conversation ended, it was like some string snapped and the painting fell off the wall. They couldn’t do anything but stare as it clattered on the floor, on a puddle of melted snow that had gathered there from the shoes of passing people. Not even a few seconds later a the security man rushed to the hall from around the corner, probably having heard the noise.

“What happened?!” he shouted as he ran to the painting, picking it up. Hinata seemed too flabbergasted to answer him at all, and Komaeda answered quickly to dissolve the situation.

“We were just looking at it, when it fell all of a sudden. It might have been loosely set on the wall, for it to fall off so easily…,” Komaeda said, his voice not betraying his emotions. Another staff member rushed to their place, taking the painting from the security guard who began to inspect the spot the painting had been hanging on.

“It seems you are right, mister,” the security guard eventually said, bowing deeply to them. “We apologize for this shameful accident, I hope it didn’t startle you too much...”

Not staying to talk for long, the security guard rushed after the staff member who had taken the painting most likely to be repaired as soon as it could be. Komaeda looked after them for a moment, before turning to Hinata.

“Are you alright?” he asked quietly, and Hinata nodded slowly.

“Shouldn't I be asking that? You said this might happen and now it did…,” Hinata said, sounding regretful. Komaeda smiled.

“You're truly kind to worry about someone like me, but I am fine. I was prepared for this, besides…,” he kept a short pause, hesitating whether to say it when it might upset Hinata… “Just thinking about the feeling of despair the staff must feel right now and how much hope they have to muster up to fix the painting makes me feel excited…!” The words fell before he came to a decision. Hinata didn't seem angry though; instead he lowered his eyes and pursed his lips.

“I'm sorry,” Hinata said, glancing at the now empty spot on the wall. “I do hope they manage to get it repaired.”

“It is still possible,” Komaeda said after a moment if silence, trying to sound reassuring. Hinata was clearly upset about this, and Komaeda wasn't sure what else to say. He felt upset as well,  but at the same time he was sort of excited about all the bad luck he was gathering today. It would reap some kind of reward, surely. So he didn't know what to say to Hinata if he wasn't cheered up by the same thought… “Something good will happen too because of this, I'm sure of it.”

“Because that's how your luck works, right…?” Hinata said quietly. Komaeda nodded and Hinata sighed. “It better be worth it, so that it'll bring something good for you…”

Komaeda smiled awkwardly. There was that weird feeling in the back of his mind again. It was odd to have someone worry over his happiness. It wasn't something that should matter that much in the first place, instead he thought that Hinata’s happiness was what mattered more.

“There is no need to worry about that, my luck has brought plenty of good to me just with having you here with me!” he said cheerfully, hoping this would make Hinata feel better. The other dropped his eyes on the floor, making it hard for Komaeda to see his face but he did nod slightly so Komaeda presumed he wasn't angry at least.

Hopefully he hadn't said anything bad.


 

“Should we go eat something now?” Komaeda asked as they walked out of the museum. Rest of their visit had gone fine, no more accidents. But Komaeda wasn't letting his guard down just yet. Something might still happen… He was a bit hesitant about going to eat now, since his luck might ruin whatever food they went to eat… If he was on his own, he probably wouldn't eat anything for awhile still to avoid food poisoning, but then again he didn't want to keep Hinata hungry.

But just to avoid the worst case scenario, he would make sure to taste Hinata’s food first to make sure it was safe to eat.

“Sure, I'm getting pretty hungry. What do you want to eat?” Hinata threw the decision to him, looking at him with… a curious look? Komaeda wasn't entirely sure, but it seemed like Hinata was awaiting to hear his decision. He felt a bit odd again, and he kind of wanted to throw the ball at Hinata instead.

“Uh, how about pasta…?” Komaeda offered hesitantly, since it was something they had not gone to eat yet. There was one Italian restaurant he knew in the town. And he felt like getting food poisoning from pasta wouldn't be as bad… maybe. Meat would be the worst option to eat in that case, that could potentially be dangerous.

“Okay,” Hinata answered, not really showing any emotion at his answer, making Komaeda feel a little stressed whether the other was happy with the decision… He wasn't sure what Hinata had wanted from him but hopefully this was it. They walked in silence for a moment, and Komaeda glanced at Hinata. To be more specific, he glanced at the wound pad on his forehead. His luck had really struck at Hinata… he had hoped that the little time they had left could pass without any incident to him, but he probably had to pay more attention from now on.

I'm sorry,’ he thought to himself. He may not be able to control his luck, but it was he who had gotten so attached to Hinata in the first place. He should be better at controlling his emotions by now… Especially when they were so dangerous.

Hinata suddenly looked back at him, and it didn't seem to take him long to realize what Komaeda was looking at and he frowned.

“I'm okay, it doesn't even hurt anymore. So stop looking so guilty,” Hinata said and Komaeda dropped his eyes to the ground apologetically. “... It's not your fault as I said. I'm happy to have only this scratch thanks to you pulling me away.”

“But…”

“Nope, no buts. I don't want to hear it. Especially not today.” Komaeda immediately took notice of the latter part. Not today…? Was there something special about this day? And was it related to why Hinata was making him decide everything? Komaeda pursed his lips. But this made it sure something was going on.

He was just thinking about just asking Hinata about it, when they suddenly heard commotion from a side street ahead of them, sounding like two people arguing. The other sounded like a woman. Hinata frowned and took a few quicker steps to be able to see behind the street, and Komaeda followed right behind him. There was a chance this was going to lead something bad and he wanted to be as close to Hinata as possible to protect him.

When they reached the corner, they saw a young woman with brown hair, about their age, arguing with someone who looked like an old man.

“You told me you’d take me to eat steak! I know the place isn't through here,” the woman yelled and the old man clicked his tongue.

“Look, I just want a little bit of compensation for it, it's not that bad, right?” he seemed like he was trying to stay quiet. Komaeda looked at him with  disdain. How disgusting worthless people were… Before he managed to react any more, Hinata walked into the street to apparently help the woman. Komaeda quickly moved to try and stop him.

“I think you should leave her alone…!”

Chapter Text

As soon as he heard what the man had to say, Hinata knew he'd have to put a stop to it. After hesitating just a few seconds, he just walked to the side street quickly and raised his voice.

“I think you should leave her alone…,” he managed to say before he saw the girl knock him over with a roundhouse kick effortlessly. The man dropped to the ground with a thud, apparently having lost his consciousness. Hinata stopped completely still, his mouth gaping open as he stared at the girl in surprise. She turned to look at him and grinned.

“Yo, were you trying to help?” she asked, and didn’t even bother to wait for his reply. “Damn old bastard, he promised he’d take me eat some delicious steak since I didn’t have any money but he turned out to be yet another sleazebag…” She rubbed the back of his head, looking slightly annoyed. Komaeda rushed over to Hinata’s side at the same time.

“Hinata-kun, you should be more careful,” he said and Hinata just looked at him, feeling a bit dumbfounded. The woman didn’t seem fazed at all, instead she looked troubled.

“Is everything okay?” Komaeda asked from her, and like it was responding to him, her stomach grumbled loudly enough that the two of them could hear it too. Hinata glanced at Komaeda, thinking if he could ask him to treat her to some food too. But then again, today was the day he had thought to do everything Komaeda wanted to do… Komaeda looked back at him, and gave him a soft smile. “We were just about to go to eat, would you like to join us?” he asked, like he had known Hinata wanted to ask.

The woman’s eyes seemed to sparkle at these words, and she even seemed like she was about to drool just at the mention of food.

“You’d treat me to steak?” she asked, and Hinata nodded.

“Of course. And no need to pay back either,” he promised without thinking, and glanced at Komaeda right away. Even if he knew how much money Komaeda had, it wasn’t probably still up to him to decide this kind of stuff… But Komaeda didn’t seem to mind, and instead nodded. The woman grinned at them brightly and walked up to them.

“Really, you’re sure? If you want, you can touch my boobs as a thank you,” she offered and quick as lighting, both Hinata and Komaeda refused her offer, Hinata flustered and Komaeda laughing awkwardly as they did.


 

Komaeda guided them to a steakhouse he knew closeby, but although Komaeda was smiling the entire time, Hinata couldn’t help but feel like Komaeda was a bit dissatisfied with something. It didn’t seem to be about her eating with them, but something else…

The woman had introduced herself as Owari Akane, and she seemed absolutely excited about the steak. The excitement was kind of rubbing off on Hinata too, and he ended up ordering a pretty expensive meal. They didn't really talk a lot, and instead just waited patiently… Or a little less patiently in Owari’s case, who was tapping her legs.

Hinata glanced at Komaeda who was looking out of the window next to him. Maybe he should try again tomorrow to do something for Komaeda since today hadn't been really that successful. But he was also worried Komaeda might realize something was going on if he did… Besides, they were leaving Nagano tomorrow so there wasn't much he could do. He really wished they could stay here longer… or maybe it was more correct to say he just wished they had more time to be anywhere in the world at all.

As long as they kept heading north, they'd get at least a little bit of extra time. He didn't even know how much, but for her to specifically say about it had to mean something… He felt a shiver run down his spine just at the thought of her, and he moved in his seat a little bit closer to Komaeda unintentionally. Komaeda gave him a glance but didn't mention anything about it.

It felt a bit embarrassing but he also felt a bit more comfortable this way so Hinata didn't move back.

Soon after the food was brought to their table. Hinata looked at his steak skewers excitedly, the delicious smell making his mouth water already. Owari started to gobble down the food right away, and Hinata was about to follow suit when Komaeda suddenly butted in.

“Ooh, it looks delicious! Do you mind if I taste some of it?” he asked. Hinata gave him a surprised look; he hadn't really expected this question, but then again this was probably the first time Komaeda asked him for something… He pointed the skewer at Komaeda.

“Sure, take a bite,” he answered. Komaeda just smiled at him for a brief second, like he was thinking about saying something, before biting a piece out of the skewer while Hinata was still holding it. Hinata’s eyes widened a bit in surprise.

“Is, is it good?” Hinata asked as Komaeda munched on the meat. Komaeda gave him a wide smile and nodded.

“Really good!” he said after swallowing and Hinata smiled too, before turning to look at the steak skewer. He paused for a few seconds before hesitantly taking a bite, to discover it was just as good as Komaeda had said… Even though he couldn't achieve Owari’s eating pace, he began to munch on it quickly.

Komaeda ate a lot calmer than them, but he didn't seem to be as dissatisfied anymore by whatever had been bothering him before. Instead he looked like his usual cheerful self and Hinata felt relieved. Maybe it hadn't been anything serious.

Despite the feeling of relief, he also felt quite anxious. Komaeda’s luck… the more time passed, the more he felt like he couldn't deny that it was in fact true and not an exaggeration.

Then, would all this bad luck really do something good for Komaeda eventually? And if it did, what did Komaeda even acknowledge as good luck?

Hinata couldn’t understand.


 

“That was really good…,” Hinata said as they were walking back from the steak house towards the hotel. “Owari-san… ate quite a lot eventually,” he added as he remembered the tower of plates she had left behind and the length of the bill. Not that Komaeda had seemed to mind at all… Then again, Hinata didn’t really either now that he knew about Komaeda’s wealth.

“She certainly did!” Komaeda answered, smiling brightly. The other had been in a pretty good mood for a while now, and Hinata was happy about that. “Is there something you’d like to do today still? We’ll leave tomorrow morning after all...” Hinata looked at Komaeda, taking a few seconds to think.

“Where do you want to go?” he asked, and this time Komaeda didn’t seem as much surprised as confused and… conflicted.

“There’s no need to worry about me--”

“Or is there any place you’d like to see?” Hinata ignored Komaeda’s attempt to avoid his question, tilting his head to show he was waiting for an answer. Komaeda looked down on the ground, seeming like he was struggling and for a moment Hinata felt bad for ruining his good mood by doing this. But he just really wanted to do something for Komaeda…

“... Then how would you feel about taking a drive? There’s this lookout spot a bit away from the town with a really pretty view,” Komaeda suggested eventually. Hinata nodded right away.

“Sounds good, if you want to go there,” he said, turning to look forward. Komaeda didn’t answer him after that, so the air between them was filled with only the sound snow crunching under their feet. Hinata kind of felt like he was forcing Komaeda with his actions, but he just didn’t know any other way to make Komaeda be honest about what he wanted to do.

He would just have to try to remember that.


 

The silence between them hadn’t really gone anywhere even by the time they were in the car. The car was humming quietly and the radio played a faint tune, so the silence felt a bit easier to handle now though. Hinata looked out of the window, seeing the city shining brightly against the darkened night sky. The darkness of the night felt like it came a bit earlier with every passing day, and it probably was true. They were going constantly going north and it was getting later in the year at the same time.

He glanced at Komaeda, who seemed to be pretty deep in thought.

… It was entirely possible Komaeda had noticed what Hinata was trying to do. He had hoped to be more subtle about it but that hadn’t seemed to work so he had decided to force the issue, but that in return had made it way too obvious. He wasn’t sure if Komaeda knew exactly what he was trying to do, but he was clearly suspicious.

Hinata bit on his lower lip, gnawing on the dry pieces once again. He was fairly sure if Komaeda confronted him about it, they would end up in a disagreement again.

He just had to take care it didn’t evolve into an actual argument.

As he was mulling over his thoughts, they seemed to have arrived to the lookout spot. It was on the side of a mountain road, so even from the car’s windows you could already see the city with the bright and colorful lights. Hinata took off his seatbelt at first but when Komaeda didn’t turn off the car or take his seatbelt off, Hinata turned to look at him questioningly.

“Komaeda?” he prompted when the other didn’t say anything.

“Hinata-kun, what have you been trying to do today?” Komaeda asked the question Hinata had expected to hear. “If there’s something you want from me, please tell it to me straight out so I can be of use, but right now I’m not so sure what you want…,” Komaeda continued, his voice sounding a bit strained. Hinata leaned back on his seat, pressing his lips together.

“I don’t really want anything… or, if it’s anything I want it’s to do something you would want to do,” Hinata explained. “You’ve been helping me all this time and doing what I want, so I thought it would be fair to do something for you as well.” Komaeda turned to look at him suddenly, seeming almost upset.

“There’s no need to trouble yourself with the likes of me, it doesn’t matter what I want to do! I’m happier doing what you want to do, so please don’t concern yourself with me,” Komaeda almost yelled at him, his voice desperate. “I want to be use of you, so please just do whatever you want and ask for whatever you want!”

Hinata felt his feelings flame up immediately.

“I can’t do that!” he yelled back, leaning away from his seat. “It doesn’t make me happy to use you like, like a servant! There’s not that much time left, don’t you understand?! If we don’t see the places you want to see now, there’s… there’s no chance to see them ever again. You’ll just die without doing the things you wanted to do, and I don’t want that!”

“I already got what I wanted when I met you,” Komaeda argued and took a deep breath. “For me, the greatest happiness would be to be of use to you for the rest of this worthless life, and perish while being able to witness all the hope--” Komaeda’s sentence was cut short when Hinata grabbed the front of his jacket, pulling Komaeda closer.

“That’s not what I mean! There has to be something you want, something you would like to do at least once before you died! And I don’t want to see you die without ever achieving that!” He could feel his body trembling with rage, and in return Komaeda gave him a calm and… almost cold look back.

“But Hinata-kun, what if what I want will inconvenience you or bother you?” Komaeda said, his voice so low that Hinata almost flinched back. The other hadn’t sounded so… almost threatening even once since they had met. But he wasn’t going to give up.

“I don’t care! It’s not like I haven’t inconvenienced you during this journey a lot, or if you haven’t already been inconveniencing,” he said, and Komaeda seemed a hurt for a split second before Hinata continued. “Even if you’re trouble sometimes, I chose to spend the rest of this time with you and it won’t change. The only thing I want to do is at least somewhat repay you in a way that’ll satisfy me. This whole thing about me taking you away from your life isn’t good enough. I need to give something more to you.”

Hinata clenched at Komaeda’s jacket tighter after his rant, realizing he was a lot closer to Komaeda than he had meant to be. But he felt like backing away now would lessen his point, so he kept glaring into Komaeda’s eyes. Komaeda looked at him with his eyes wide, mouth slightly agape like he was trying desperately to think of something to say. Hinata knew he was driving Komaeda into a corner with his actions, but if that was what it took to get Komaeda to be selfish for once, he didn’t care.

When Komaeda finally moved a little bit, Hinata prepared himself to argue back against his arguments. But against his expectations Komaeda looked at him with a serious look, leaning a little bit closer to him and before Hinata managed to react at all, he felt Komaeda’s soft lips pressing against his own dry ones.

In surprise, he flinched slightly away, breaking the connection between them. Komaeda stopped for a small moment, like he was hesitating after having Hinata back away. But when Hinata remained still, his mind completely wiped of thoughts, Komaeda tilted his head slightly and kissed him again. Hinata felt his whole body tense up at the connection, and he closed his eyes.

He could feel a hand against his cheek soon enough, gentle and cool against the heat that was rising to his cheeks. It felt like all his senses were suddenly full of Komaeda’s presence, the feeling of both his hand and lips surrounding him, with the fragrance of Komaeda. He hadn’t been this close to the other so he had never been able to smell him this well and it was making his head spin.

When Komaeda parted his lips as he began to move slightly, Hinata reflexively shut close his own tight. But instead of what he had expected, it felt more like Komaeda was just gently traveling along his lips with his own, like he was trying to burn it in his memories. Hinata could feel his heart pounding so fast that it was hard to hear anything else, but the other seemed almost scarily calm. ‘He must have more experience’, Hinata thought to himself as he slowly let go of Komaeda’s jacket, and instead leaned it against his seat for support.

He hesitantly opened his eyes, only to meet Komaeda’s eyes looking straight at him, like he was observing his reactions. But as soon as Hinata opened his eyes, Komaeda slowly pulled away, looking down from him. The last thing he pulled away was his hand, and Hinata immediately found himself missing the cool feeling against his burning cheeks.

Chapter Text

Komaeda felt regret dropping to the bottom of his stomach like a heavy rock as soon as he pulled back. This was a mistake, he had been supposed to hold these feelings back, he had tried to bury them as deep as he could and yet with just one single moment of weakness he had broken everything he had set out to do.

“I’m so sorry, Hinata-kun,” he said, bowing his head down as low as he could in the car. “I’m so, so, so sorry.” His words sounded heavy within the silence between them, and he felt blood rushing to his cheeks.

Hinata didn’t answer him, and Komaeda didn’t dare to look up at him to see his expression. He didn’t need to see to know; it was certain the other must have been disgusted. To be kissed by someone like him… Komaeda bit on his lip, trying to think of any way he could still make this better, to at least make some sort of excuse for his actions. He absolutely didn’t want to burden the other with the knowledge of his feelings or pressure him with them.

“I’m sorry, I just lost control of my urges…,” he whispered another apology, with an excuse to accompany. It sounded so flimsy to his own ears as soon as he said it; there was no way Hinata didn’t realize it was a lie. But he had to stick with it and hope Hinata would agree to go on with this lie, so that nothing between them would change. They could pretend this hadn’t happened and that Komaeda’s feelings just… didn’t exist.

“A-ah, your urges,” Hinata stuttered out, his voice meek. “Of, of course. Uh, I don’t mind. Yeah.” It was clear that he was really flustered by the situation.

“I’m sorry,” Komaeda repeated again. He could hear Hinata take a breath of air, like he was about to say something before sighing.

“I told you to do what you want to do,” he said, turning to look away from Komaeda. “I don’t mind it. Not at all. So there’s no need for you to apologize.” Komaeda swallowed as he felt the guilt backing up in the back in his mouth in form of more and more apologies.

“It's because of me that you can't meet your girlfriend anymore, too,” Hinata added. “So I… understand why you did that…” Komaeda clenched his hands into fists at Hinata’s words and he wanted to refute them, argue back but if this was the lie Hinata wanted to go with…

“Y-yeah,” he said, the sound coming out of his mouth resembling a croak more than speech. Hinata was still looking away from him, out of the window so Komaeda didn't have any idea of the expression on his face and it was making him nervous. He didn't want to lie like this but if it was easier for Hinata this way then he had to do it. Anything to make Hinata feel comfortable. It was all his fault for developing these feelings in the first place…

He lifted his fingers to his lips briefly. It was all his fault, but still some other feeling asides from guilt was welling up in his stomach, a warm and… fulfilled feeling, like he would be ready for anything now that he had had this one experience. The happiness he felt was making him also feel even lower, creating a heavy mix of emotions that almost made him dizzy with their intensity. His luck had brought him happiness but it had also brought unhappiness by hurting Hinata, and the sheer volume of both the good and bad luck were making his body tremble.

This blend of guilt and joy felt so tempting that it might get addicting…

“Should we go outside to look at the town...?” Komaeda broke the tension between them. Hinata nodded quickly and opened his door right away, like he had been waiting for Komaeda to ask. Komaeda just looked after Hinata for a few seconds as the other walked to the edge of the lookout point, before getting out of the car. It couldn’t be helped if Hinata was afraid of him now…

Hinata was leaning against the fence and looking at the town, and Komaeda decided to stand a little bit farther away from him for now. He sighed as he looked at the sky, and for a few seconds his breath clouded the view of the sky. He could feel the cold biting at his bones; they should probably get proper coats if they were to head even norther.

The end of the world… if Hinata was correct, they'd be able to live a bit longer by heading north. If it was by a few hours or even few weeks, Komaeda didn't know but it was going to give them some extra time… to do what, Komaeda didn't know. But he had an inkling the feeling of despair would be greater the longer they spent time just waiting for it and with that, the hope Hinata had to muster up had to be just that much greater…!

Assuming Hinata was going to let Komaeda stay with him that long after this… especially if he ended up bothering him even more with these feelings. He had to try his best not to, but…

A brief thought passed through his mind, and he walked to the fence as well, keeping a safe distance between him and Hinata to not startle the other. Hinata glanced at him quickly before turning to look back at the town. His cheeks were red, probably from the cold, and he leaned against the fence like he was seeking support from it.

“Hinata-kun, I’m sorry to bother you…” He almost added ‘ again ’, but perhaps it was better not to refer to what had happened just now. “... but could you show me the marble for just a little moment?” The last words came out so quietly that he wondered for a moment if Hinata could even hear them at all. Hinata just looked at him for a moment, before he reached to his pockets and took out the marble.

The marble reflected the moonlight, lighting up slightly like it was an extension of the night sky with the little moon and stars shining inside it. Komaeda felt something in his heart squeeze at him tightly, making him forget the cold for a moment. He hadn’t been supposed to do anything about his feelings, but he had. Perhaps the greatest luck was that Hinata had not decided to leave him because of it.

Hinata was looking at the marble too, his eyes downcast like he was deep in thought. His cheeks were still just as red and his lips tightly shut together. A warmth filled Komaeda looking at him now, and scared of the feeling, he turned his eyes back to the marble. Hinata’s hand holding the marble was safely cupped, not letting the marble move anyhow.

He shouldn’t have ever done anything with his feelings, Komaeda knew this as he looked at the marble. The defenses he had been building up, the careful way he had made sure to lock these thoughts tightly, it was all breaking down now because of this one crack. He should have taken better care of it.

Without thinking, he could feel himself raising his hand towards Hinata’s, not even certain if he was trying to touch the marble or hold Hinata’s hand. He could feel Hinata lift his eyes to look at him sharply, and he stopped his hand just before he had been about to rest it on the other’s hand. He clenched his hand in a fist and pulled it back, biting on his lower lip.

Despite the excitement that was making all his nerves tingle, he could also feel the root of fear in his heart growing. He had already made a crack at the cover he had built over his feelings, and he was afraid it was going to slowly just to shatter into tiny pieces of glass, just like… just like a glass marble breaking.

He shouldn’t touch the marble. He had to take care that his luck wouldn’t ruin it for him, and for the exact same reason he had to make sure to keep these walls untouched, so that they wouldn’t break down any more than this. Perhaps it wasn’t yet too late, maybe there was still a chance for him to repair this damage and make sure these feelings didn’t overflow.

Hinata glanced at him, seeming like was a bit nervous and Komaeda slowly realized some time must have passed. He shouldn’t make the other hold out his hand when it was this cold and he had such light gloves on.

“Thank you, that’s… that’s enough,” he said softly and gave a reassuring smile to Hinata, who just nodded and closed his fist around the marble. For a few seconds Hinata just stared at his fist, before pushing the marble into his pocket again.

“Should we head back…?” Hinata asked hesitantly, and Komaeda nodded. It was probably best to go back to sleep, and hopefully tomorrow they would have both been able to forget about today’s mistake. Hinata turned to walk to the car, and Komaeda took one final glance at the city before he followed after him.

Chapter Text

Hinata looked out of the window, biting his lip. He most certainly should have been sleeping already, but whenever he tried to close his eyes and sleep, the memories from just few hours ago rushed back into his head. And that made his heart thump faster than any sleeping person’s heart would.

So instead he was sitting on his bed, staring at the city from the window next to it. He was quite sure Komaeda was awake too, but he seemed to be trying to pretend he was asleep, so Hinata didn’t say anything to him. It wasn’t like he had anything to say, anyways. At least, anything he could say.

He felt confused. It felt like fate was playing with him, to have Komaeda kiss him right after he had just accepted his feelings, and then realize it was probably just Komaeda missing his girlfriend and… using him as a replacement was a harsh way to put it. Seeking comfort from him?

No matter the way he put it, Hinata didn’t really care. It was just details to explain the same thing. It wasn’t that he had expected to be loved back, but now he was filled with a bittersweet feeling, as he felt slightly shy and happy but there was also a lurking feeling of sadness surrounding it all.

A feeling of false hope was perhaps the best way to put it.

He let out a sigh and lied down on the bed. It would be better to try and sleep a little, instead of worrying. He kept his back turned to Komaeda, in meager hopes it would help him fall asleep faster.

He just hoped tomorrow things would be the same as they had been this morning, but that was probably impossible.


 

Eventually, he wound up barely sleeping at all. There had been brief moments when he had been on the verge of sleep, his thoughts getting blurry like he was dreaming, but his body still painfully awake. Komaeda hadn’t most likely slept much better than him; a few times during the night he had gotten up to pace around the room, walking back and forth next to his bed like he was trying to calm himself. Hinata hadn’t talked to him on any of those times.

And now at the breakfast table, neither of them really said anything either. Hinata’s eyes felt heavy and Komaeda had clearly visible bags under his eyes.

Hinata wasn’t sure if the other was really in a condition to drive for hours. Komaeda already had a third cup of coffee in his hands, and he was a lot less animated than usually whenever he spoke.

I wonder if he regrets it…, ’ Hinata thought and pressed his lips tightly together. Most likely he did, based on how restless he had been during the night. Hinata… didn’t know if he did. To be more exact, he didn’t even know what he thought or felt about all this in the first place. His thoughts felt like a jumbled mess. He… felt hurt, but there was also a quiet whisper saying the exact same as he had said to Komaeda: “ I don’t mind.

He rubbed his eyes. He had to be less desperate, seriously. He had survived without this kind of closeness for almost 22 years, so why did he suddenly long for it so much? It was ridiculous.

But then again, ” a voice told him. “ What’s the harm in taking advantage of this situation? ” And even though he felt like there were many answers to that, he just couldn’t put them into words. Or maybe he just didn’t want to reason against it. He wanted to have a moment of a break from thinking about the possible harm.

What a cheap excuse.

“I was thinking,” Komaeda broke the long silence that had been hanging over them. Hinata lifted his eyes to look at him. “That we should probably go buy proper winter coats before we head any norther.”

“Ah, you’re right,” Hinata answered, shifting in his seat. He was reminded of how cold it had been last night after they had went outside. “Let’s do that before we leave, then.”

Komaeda gave him a cheerful smile, and it took Hinata only a moment to realize the other was happy to have him decide again. That realization made Hinata feel uncomfortable and… upset. He had tried his best to do something Komaeda would want to do, but now he felt really stupid for even trying.

Wasn’t there really anything he could do…?

He didn’t want to just believe that. There had to be something he could do to make Komaeda happy, and he just had to figure that out if Komaeda wasn’t going to tell him.

For starters he had to learn to hide his feelings better; right now the silence between them was apparent and he wanted to restore it to normal.

“I’ll drink just one cup of coffee more, and then we can leave,” Komaeda said as he got up from the table, and Hinata nodded quickly before the other left.

That was already the fourth cup…


 

“Did you choose a coat already?” Hinata almost jumped in surprise when Komaeda talked to him from behind him. They hadn’t been in the store for long but when he turned to look at Komaeda, he was already holding a black coat on his arm. In the meantime, Hinata had yet to even figure out what his size would be…

“No, not yet,” he admitted and Komaeda gave him a patient smile.

“Okay! I was just thinking that while we’re at it, we could buy you some clothes, so you don’t have to keep wearing mine,” Komaeda explained. They had meant to do that back in Tokyo now that Hinata thought about it, but then things had ended up happening…

“Alright,” Hinata answered, turning to look at the coats again. They had washed their clothes at the hotel’s laundry room since they had one, but he couldn’t deny it would be nice to get his own clothes, since Komaeda’s were not only a little ill-fitted but the style was… a  bit weird too..

He grabbed one white coat and looked at it in thought. White clothes got so easily dirty that it was bit of a risk to get one. But then again, it wasn’t like he was going to wear it long enough for it to get majorly dirty, unless something really unlucky happened… He felt the corner of his mouth twitch. Luck, huh. Maybe he should get this coat after all, if just to play with his luck a little bit.

Maybe he was taking bad influence from Komaeda, since the thought sounded a bit thrilling. But it was just a coat, so there wasn’t any harm in this risk and it looked really warm as well, since the hood and the sleeves had a trimming made of fake fur.

Now he just had to figure out a correct size.


 

They ended up eating lunch before leaving, so by the time they left Nagano it was already almost 1pm. Komaeda apparently still had the thermos bottle he had gotten from Sonia, and he had filled it with coffee in the family restaurant they had eaten at.

Hinata leaned against the window of the car as he stared out of the window. He certainly was tired too. Perhaps it would be good to take a nap at some point.

The car’s engine was humming the same tune as it always was, and usually it would have made Hinata feel relaxed. But now it brought back memories from the last night and made him feel a bit nervous… Maybe, just maybe it would have been better for everything to have happened somewhere else than in the car. But then again, it wasn’t like he had known that would happen at all.

The car had grown to be familiar and comforting, but now that it was also filled with these emotions, it was making Hinata feel conflicted about it as well. In some way, he was also happy this car had been the place where it happened, even though he just wished it had… it had had some other meaning to it.

This car was basically where he had met Komaeda after all, and it had been traveling with them all this time. In a way, it almost felt like his home now. It felt silly to think that about a car, but the feeling of belonging when he sat in the car reminded him of what home was probably supposed to feel like.

He let out a sigh as he reached to turn up the radio’s volume a bit. Komaeda glanced at him briefly but he didn’t say anything, much to Hinata’s relief. RIght now the silence felt more comfortable than even the thought of trying to hold a conversation. Especially when his thoughts were this much of a mess, he felt like he would end up saying things he shouldn’t say. He looked at the road ahead of them, watching as it kept moving them forward on a straight line.

It was almost hypnotizing to look at and he could feel his eyes growing heavier. If he slept, he wouldn’t have to deal with these confusing feelings and thoughts just yet. It felt a bit rude to do for Komaeda though, and he thought to stay awake for him but the more time passed the harder it was to resist.

A little bit before sleep took him away, he recalled the first day he had met Komaeda. Back then he had fallen asleep on the car as well. Now that he thought about it, it was kind of weird he had managed to fall asleep in that situation. Maybe he had just been that tired.

Or maybe there really was something magical about this car that made him feel safe. Or maybe what made him feel safe was…

He didn’t manage to finish that line of thought.


 

When Hinata finally woke up, they had stopped on a lookout spot in the mountains. He blinked a few times, taking in the surroundings. He had a blanket covering him, and there was so much snow outside that it felt like the world was colored white. He looked around searching for Komaeda’s white hair and black coat, to see the other standing at the lookout point’s edge, leaning on a fence and looking down.

Hinata stretched his arms before he got out of the car, leaving the blanket on his seat. The sound of him closing the door seemed to alert Komaeda he was there, as he turned his head.

“Good morning,” Komaeda said, even though it was clearly at least late afternoon already by how dim it was. Komaeda smiled, but Hinata felt a little uneasy.

“Hi. What’s up? Why have we stopped?” Hinata asked and Komaeda’s smile twitched a little.

“About that… I’m so sorry, but it appears we got lost from the route we were supposed to take, because I haven’t seen anything or anyone in a long time. I stopped to refuel the car with one of the canisters in the trunk, and thought to take a little breather after that,” Komaeda explained, his smile not faltering anymore like he was trying to reassure Hinata.

It did little to help him though.

“Lost?! Are you sure you know the way away from here? Where are we even?” he asked frantically and Komaeda lowered his head slightly.

“The road split at one point and someone had apparently stolen the signs because they weren’t there…,” Komaeda said. “I was going to wake you up soon though, because I need the phone to locate where we are and where to go.” Hinata still felt just as flustered, but he took the phone out of his pocket quickly and handed it to Komaeda.

“Here,” he said and crossed his arms after the other had taken the phone. Lost in the mountains… He felt a shudder run down his spine. This could be dangerous.

“I’m sorry that my luck did this again,” Komaeda said softly as he began to look up their location from the phone. Hinata didn’t say anything; he wasn’t sure what would be anything good he could say in this situation sincerely. He was feeling so agitated and he was afraid he would snap at Komaeda if he said anything.

A moment passed in silence as Hinata waited for Komaeda. But as it started to feel like way too much time had gone by, he began to steal glances at Komaeda, who looked back at him seeming troubled.

“There’s… no connection. I’ve tried everything already…,” Komaeda confessed, and Hinata just stared at him for a moment before covering his face with his hands. He didn’t even have to ask if this was part of Komaeda’s luck as well, because of course it was. “But, I think we will be fine if we just head back the same way. I remember the route I took to get here,” Komaeda added, smiling again. Hinata nodded; even though going back wasn’t nice since it slowed down their travel, it was still better than getting even more lost.

“Alright, we should probably leave right away then…,” Hinata said, and he himself could hear how strained his voice sounded. This wasn’t exactly something nice to wake up to. Komaeda agreed to his suggestion and they headed back to the car. Hinata threw the blanket to the backseat before sitting down.

“Thank you for the blanket,” he said when he realized Komaeda must have put it on him.

“No need to thank me, I just wanted to make sure you wouldn’t fall sick,” Komaeda answered, smiling gently as he inserted the car key in and turned it. But instead of turning on, the car just coughed before going silent again as Komaeda turned the key back.

“Um...” Hinata glanced at Komaeda worriedly, as the other turned the key again for longer this time, and the car just kept coughing without turning on. Hinata felt a rock fall into the bottom of his stomach and saw Komaeda’s face go pale when the car didn’t turn on on the third nor the fourth nor the fifth try…

“I think the battery is dead…,” Komaeda said so quietly that Hinata almost didn’t hear him. He bit on his lower lip as he began to realize the situation they were in.

“You have got to be kidding me...”

Chapter Text

“Is, isn’t there anything we can do about it?” Hinata asked, sounding distressed. Komaeda wished he could say there was something they could do right now but…

“If we could push the car, we could get it to start that way, but it’s too dangerous since we’re in the mountains,” Komaeda explained and Hinata’s shoulders dropped in disappointment. “But, if we can get someone driving by to help us, we can recharge the battery,” he quickly added, hoping it would salvage the bad news somewhat.

“But we’re in the middle of nowhere, when will someone actually pass by here?! Not to mention us being able to notice and stop them in time?!” Hinata yelled, clearly not soothed by his words at all. Komaeda stared at the steering wheel in thought. He wasn’t particularly panicked about the situation. This wasn’t nearly the worst his luck had done to him, so to him this felt more like an inconvenience than anything else.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure my luck will bring someone to us,” Komaeda said calmly, leaning back on his seat. There was a possibility they would end up spending the night in the car though…

How lucky that they had bought the new winter coats just before leaving, they would keep them warm.

“Your luck is the reason we’re stuck here in the first place!” Komaeda flinched a bit at the other’s words. The other was certainly starting to get tired of his luck haunting them. He pressed his lips together; he wanted to be useful to Hinata so bad but as of the past days, he had been nothing but a hindrance to him. With both his bad and good luck…

“I know. I’m sorry,” Komaeda said quietly, and started to get out of the car. “I’ll see if there’s anything I can do to fix this,” he added as he opened the door. He walked to the front of the car and opened the hood. There was still a possibility that something was just broken, and even though he had limited understanding of cars, it wouldn’t probably hurt to check just in case.

He knew he was kind of escaping the situation here; this was entirely his responsibility, and Hinata was right to be angry at him. He should have prepared for this possibility as well with a spare battery… And this was right after what he had done the previous night. There was really no limit to how troublesome he was, huh…

Hinata hadn’t mentioned anything about yesterday, but considering he had fallen asleep in the car so fast, he hadn’t slept last night a lot either. Komaeda kind of missed his thermos full of coffee now, but there was only enough for a one cup left and he would have to ask whether the other wanted it, since it was the only warm drink they had now.

Komaeda bit his lip angrily. He should have never done what he did yesterday, he had known that from the very beginning. These feelings should have been locked down. There was nothing he could give to Hinata, he wasn’t certainly worthy of the other and yet the fact that Hinata hadn’t gotten mad, hadn’t completely rejected him was making him feel hopeful.

And he hated himself for it. He didn’t have the right to feel this kind of hope.

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the car’s door opening, and soon Hinata’s footsteps neared on him. He kept his eyes fixed to the engine, even though he had long ago looked through all the things he would have known to fix. He still kept rechecking everything, if just to avoid looking at Hinata and seeing the disappointment Hinata surely held.

“I’ve said this before, but it’s not like you can control your luck,” Hinata said after a while in silence had passed between them. “So I don’t want you to apologize for it. What I’m upset about is this situation and, I suppose in that line of thought your luck as well. But I’m not mad at you. Do you understand?”

Komaeda stopped moving for a moment, feeling a rush of emotions wash over him. Hinata was wrong. This was his fault, and he should be angry. Perhaps he couldn’t control his luck, but he could have prepared for this. He could have stopped to think which way to take instead of committing to just driving a road he didn’t know. He could have bought a spare battery before leaving. But instead he had been over his head from being tired from not sleeping, restless from all the coffee and the worst of all, happy about having been able to kiss Hinata before the end, if it was just once.

“Do you understand?” Hinata insisted, and Komaeda shook his head.

“I don’t,” he said quietly, and he could hear Hinata sigh. “This was my fault. But I do understand you’re not angry at me,” he added as he reached up to close the hood. After closing it, he turned to look at Hinata, who had his hands crossed and a mixed expression on his face. Komaeda smiled the best smile he could in return.

“I guess that has to be good enough,” Hinata said when he saw that, and sighed deeply before smiling a bit. “Should we come up with a plan for staking out the possible bypassers?”

“Yeah, let’s do that,” Komaeda agreed. He still felt guilty, but he shouldn’t keep moping around and ruining Hinata’s mood now that it seemed to finally have lifted a little bit.


 

Komaeda yawned tiredly before shaking his hand and resuming looking at the road. They had been stuck here for a couple hours already. Luckily they had a lot of snacks and drinks in the backseat - something he had managed to do right - so they hadn’t starved but it was starting to get tiring.

He glanced back at the car briefly, where Hinata was sitting sideways on the backseat, the door open and looking at Komaeda. He had a bag of snacks that he had been munching on this whole time.

“Hinata-kun, aren’t you getting cold?” Komaeda asked as he turned his eyes back to the road. It felt a bit weird to know the other was looking at him.

“No, I’m okay. This coat is really warm,” Hinata said cheekily. Komaeda was glad that the other was feeling better, but being stared at was still a bit too awkward even for him. He could feel his cheeks grow a bit warmer.

“I still think it would be better for you to close the door instead, so we can keep the cold from coming in…,” he tried to make an excuse. It wasn’t like it mattered at this point; the cold had already seeped in and would have anyways, even if they had kept the doors closed.

“But I’d feel bad for just sitting inside the car when you’re standing out here. You’re the one who said I can’t be the one to stand by the road, so I’m going to at least keep company to you,” Hinata said. They had discussed it for a long time, Komaeda trying to convince Hinata that he should be the one to stand out in the cold instead of letting Hinata get sick, and eventually he had won the argument purely out of stubbornness. But Hinata was clearly dissatisfied with this outcome…

“I just don’t want you to get sick,” Komaeda protested.

“Says the one who was bedridden for days,” Hinata immediately retorted and Komaeda laughed awkwardly. He couldn’t really deny that.

“But I usually don’t get sick again soon after, so it’s okay for me to stand here,” he said and the other groaned.

“And I told you I almost never get sick, I’m a lot tougher than a certain weakly prince here…”

“A prince…? Someone as lowly as me could never be as graceful as a prince, Hinata-kun, I think you’re mistaken,” Komaeda said and Hinata groaned again.

“That wasn’t what I meant…,” Hinata said, but didn’t add anything after that. Komaeda glanced back to see Hinata had lied down on his back, still holding the bag of snacks in his hands. The other was probably bored out of his mind. Even Komaeda was, looking just left and right the road again and again. It was starting to get dark as well;  it would probably be better to stop looking out soon, since anyone passing by wouldn’t even be able to see him.

He looked at the road and decided he would be on the lookout for half an hour more, and then give up for the day. He would have to help Hinata be less bored somewhat… He really wished he was a better conversationalist so that he could keep good company. Maybe they should have bought some board games, or maybe card games…

Komaeda shook his head. No, those weren’t probably a good idea. People always told him it wasn’t fun to play with him with his luck. He didn’t want to frustrate Hinata with his luck anymore than he already did…

He glanced at the road again when he heard the door to the car close. He presumed Hinata had closed the door to warm himself up and he sighed in relief at first, but then he heard footsteps approaching him until Hinata was standing next to him, yawning.

“My legs hurt from sitting so much,” Hinata said bluntly, stretching his legs and Komaeda decided not to say anything. There wasn’t that long left until they’d have to give up for the day, so if it made Hinata feel better he shouldn’t start arguing about it. “Gods, it’s starting to get cold…,” Hinata added, rubbing his hands together.

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay in the car in that case…?” Komaeda said quietly and Hinata shook his head instantly.

“The car is just as cold.” Komaeda was pretty sure that was true. It hadn’t been turned on for few hours already, so any warmth that would have remained must have disappeared. At least they had a blanket with them so Hinata could use it...

His line of thought was cut short when suddenly he felt something bump his shoulder, and soon Hinata nestled right next to him. He could feel his cheeks grow warmer instantly, and he glanced at Hinata who was staring at the road, his lips pursed in a pout and cheeks a bit red from the cold.

“Let me suck some warmth from you,” Hinata said as an explanation.

“A-ah, okay…,” Komaeda said quietly, turning to look the other way of the road. He was starting to feel warmer at the contact, and he buried half of his face into his scarf. At least his growing body heat would help warm the other up…

After they had stood there in silence for a while, Hinata started to talk all of a sudden.

“Hey, Komaeda…,” he started. Komaeda turned to look at him, and suddenly found himself almost face to face with Hinata since the other was looking at him as well. For a brief few seconds they just stared at each other, before both turning their faces away. Komaeda felt his whole head getting warm enough to have his brain almost boil. This… this wasn’t good, he was remembering last night… Hinata had probably remembered it as well, and now Komaeda had brought back bad memories to him…

“Uh, I was about to ask about the blanket we have, but you’re probably going to say I should be the one to use it,” Hinata said, and Komaeda flinched a bit. He could almost feel how much the other wanted to glare at him.

“There’s no way for us to share it either…”

“Well, you’re right about that and I think it’s better for one us to use it but…” Hinata paused for a moment, like he was thinking about something. “But I think it would be better for you to use it. You’re our driver after all, so if one us were to get sick it should be me, so that you can drive when we finally get to leave.”

“But there’s also the possibility no one will stop by before we run out of supplies. In that case, it would be better for you to leave by foot and try to reach the town, walk the road back and you’ll be more likely to reach someone and maybe bring help. While I can stay with the car and wait for someone to pass by, since I can drive the car away. So if anyone were to be sick it should be me, since my only hope is the car but you can walk away and you should be healthy for that,” Komaeda reasoned. Hinata sighed deeply.

“What does that even mean, you could walk just as well as me… Besides, I wouldn’t leave without you, and I wouldn’t really want to leave the car either,” Hinata said softly. “I’m sure someone will stop by eventually. You said that your luck would bring someone to us, right?”

Komaeda looked down at the ground. Now that Hinata said it out loud, he was starting to doubt it. It was entirely possible his luck would just play more tricks on them and he himself might be the only one who got saved. He hadn’t considered that properly.

“Well, my luck will probably someone eventually but…” Komaeda didn’t get to finish his sentence when Hinata suddenly grabbed his arm and shook him excitedly.

“Komaeda! There’s a car!!” he yelled and pointed at the road. There were distant lights approaching them, and instantly Komaeda felt his heart jump in happiness. The feeling of hope was filling his mind, and he couldn’t help but join Hinata in the excited laughter as they began to wave their hands desperately, Hinata jumping up and down.

Eventually a pretty big RV came into their view, and apparently having noticed them waving, its driver pulled aside the road. Komaeda looked at Hinata who looked back at him with a wide grin on his face, and Komaeda returned the grin.

Chapter Text

“I’m really happy we decided to go through this route instead, it would have been awful if you had been stuck here!” the brown-haired girl, who had just introduced herself as Asahina Aoi, said. She was smiling brightly, making Hinata think she really was glad to have come here. “Isn’t that right, Sakura-chan?” Her companion, Oogami Sakura, nodded, looking at Hinata. He felt a little bit intimidated for a moment. She looked really imposing, but she had been nothing but nice to them so he felt like it was rude of him to be scared…

They had invited the two of them into their RV, and Oogami was currently making tea for them. Asahina had taken a box full of donuts from somewhere and told them to eat as much as they wanted. There was a stack of similar-looking boxes in the corner of the van, and Hinata had a suspicion that the box in front of them wasn’t the only one still containing donuts in here.

“We are really indebted to you, thank you so much for helping us!” Komaeda answered her cheerfully. It wasn’t the first time Komaeda had thanked them - in fact not only he but Hinata too had been thanking them for the whole half an hour that had passed now. They had explained their situation and Oogami and Asahina had decided to spend the night here too without hesitating.

Just thinking about it was making Hinata want to thank them again. He looked around in the RV; it was quite spacious for two people travelling.

Asahina seemed to notice he was looking around.

“This is Sakura-chan’s family’s van! They usually travel with the whole family but they allowed us to loan it for our training trip!” she explained cheerfully. “There’s a lot of space, so you can sleep here too! There’s a lot of spare blankets and pillows!”

Hinata felt a bit pushed back by the offer. Even though sleeping here would probably be a lot more comfortable, he still kind of preferred…

“Ah, thank you so much for offering but I wouldn’t feel comfortable sleeping in the same car with two ladies,” Komaeda said with a slightly awkward smile on his lips. “I’ll sleep in my car, but Hinata-kun can--”

“I think the same!” Hinata interrupted the other, knowing what the other was trying to say. “I’ll sleep in our car as well. I’m thankful for the offer but...” Asahina gave them a pout.

“Me and Sakura are strong enough to protect ourselves, so you should sleep here, it’d be much better on your backs…,” she protested and Komaeda glanced at Hinata before turning his eyes to Asahina again.

“I do not doubt that you’re stronger than me, but I still think it would be awkward so…,” he said politely, and Hinata decided to back him up a little.

“We would definitely appreciate if you loaned us the blankets and pillows though,” he offered as a compromise. Asahina didn’t seem satisfied with that answer, but before she managed to say anything more Oogami spoke.

“Asahina, maybe we shouldn’t force them,” she said and Asahina sighed.

“Alright, sleep in the car then… You gotta eat with us though! I won’t accept a no for an answer!” she said, cheering up again. Hinata and Komaeda looked at each other quickly before nodding.

Hinata smiled a bit in relief. Despite how nice and comfortable sleeping in the RV must have been, he still found himself wanting to sleep in Komaeda’s car instead. Gladly Komaeda had had similar thoughts.


 

Hinata walked to the edge of the lookout spot, looking down at the sights below. They really were quite high up… it was really cold here as well. He warmed his hands through the gloves with his breath, as he leaned against the fence. The others were currently charging up the battery for Komaeda’s car. He had thought to help but there wasn’t really much he could do so he had ended up wandering here.

… He really was glad someone had come to their rescue. He had been kind of preparing for the outcome that they would be stuck here for long, maybe even until the end of the year. Maybe something was starting to go weird in his thoughts, since he hadn’t thought that outcome would have been too bad.

But now that they had been spared he was really relieved, so he had probably been just getting a bit desperate with the situation. Or maybe Komaeda’s calmness had kind of affected him as well.

He felt his cheeks get a bit warmer when he remembered what they had been doing before Asahina and Oogami arrived. It was probably bad of him to take advantage of the situation to get to be closer to Komaeda but… maybe there really had been something wrong with his thoughts back then.

He rubbed his face to wipe away these thoughts. As he tried to focus on clearing his mind, he didn’t notice the approaching footsteps before Asahina was already next to him.

“Hiya,” she said. “Can I join your company?”

“Of course,” Hinata said, a bit surprised. Asahina just flashed a smile at him before sitting on the fence. Hinata felt his heart jump a little nervously when he saw that. There was a long drop down if she happened to fall, but she didn’t seem to care about that. Or more like, she seemed really confident in herself so Hinata decided to trust her own judgement.

“It’s a really pretty view from up here! We’ve been travelling on the mountains for a couple weeks now, but I still like looking at the view!” she said and Hinata nodded. The stars could be seen clearer from the mountains, and the world below them could be seen so much farther from up here.

“It is. Even though this wasn’t our plan, I’m kind of happy to be able to see this view,” Hinata answered. Perhaps there was something good to be found from this situation.

“Yeah, it’s good to be positive!” Asahina said excitedly. “Where are you travelling to, by the way? I don’t think it came up in our conversation before.” Hinata tilted his head slightly. Where, huh… He probably couldn’t answer ‘as far north as we can get’ without getting extra question.

“Well, I guess the answer is really nowhere in particular. We’re kind of just taking a road trip around Japan…,” Hinata explained vaguely. It wasn’t like he was lying. But it would be… he would really like it if that was all there was to this trip. Just travelling together to see the world…

He felt his heart ache just at the thought. He shouldn’t be feeling this way, he should resolve himself to the end of the world again but just the hopeful thought that he could just travel with Komaeda, without worries for as long as they wanted, made him feel forlorn. There wasn’t escaping their fate, but… he still found himself hoping that maybe it all had been a mistake. Maybe something had happened to prevent the world from ending, just maybe…

“Oh, I see! That’s nice!” Asahina responded to him, her voice so bright in comparison to Hinata’s thoughts. “We already travel a lot for training with Sakura-chan, but I think it would be nice to someday travel just aimlessly with her! And eat donuts from all kinds of places...” Her eyes seemed to sparkle at the thought, like she was already imagining all the different kind of donuts she could have.

Hinata smiled a bit in response; her company was somewhat easing to the mind. It made him feel… better. But like something was trying to prevent him from feeling any bit better, a thought in the back of his mind reminded him that once the world ended, Asahina would lose her chance to do that.

“Maybe you should go now?” Hinata found himself saying, and when Asahina turned to look at him with a surprised look on her face, he got instantly flustered. He was probably acting weird in her eyes. “Uh, I mean, why not strike the iron while it’s still hot? Or something...” His voice trailed off towards the end. There wasn’t really any good way to convince her without revealing anything, was there…?

But to his luck, Asahina smiled again and nodded.

“You’re right! Sakura-chan has been feeling a bit… down recently, which is why we set out to the training trip to cheer her up, but maybe we should keep travelling a little while longer!” she said, looking a bit sad when she said Oogami had been feeling down. Hinata decided not to ask about it for now.

“Yeah, eat all the donuts you can,” Hinata said, feeling glad his sloppy persuasion had worked. He wanted so much for the two of them to enjoy this time…

“By the way, maybe this is a bit weird to ask but what are you and Komaeda to each other? Are you friends or…?” she asked, seeming curious now. She was so animated compared to Komaeda that Hinata kept getting a bit thrown off. Especially with a question like this… He turned to look away from Asahina, pondering what he should even answer. What was he and Komaeda even…?

“That’s… I suppose that’s a question I wonder myself too, honestly,” Hinata muttered. Asahina gave him a confused look, tilting her head and Hinata just gave her an awkward smile. “I’m sorry, I really don’t know what else to say. I suppose you can think of us being friends, if you want some kind of answer.”

“Okay…,” Asahina said, before giving an awkward smile back. “I guess it’s complicated! I’m sorry for asking something weird.”

“No, it’s okay,” Hinata hurried to say. “How about you and Oogami? Are you friends?” he asked to change the topic, and Asahina’s eyes brightened again.

“We’re best friends! I really love her a lot!” she answered cheerfully, and started to explain how she had met Oogami and how they had gotten to know each other. Hinata listened patiently, appreciating the chance to be quiet for a moment. It felt like nothing he said right now came out right, so it felt a lot better to just listen.

Asahina had already gotten distracted from the original topic and was explaining about something about swimming, when Komaeda walked up to them.

“We’ve managed to charge the battery now,” Komaeda told, smiling. Hinata looked at him without saying anything for a while, his thoughts coming to a stop. Komaeda’s hair was a bit poofier and messier than usual, and for some reason that made Hinata feel a bit warmer inside.

“Oh! Then I guess I should start making food for us!” Asahina said, and Komaeda thanked her. Hinata snapped from his thoughts and he quickly spoke before Asahina managed to leave.

“Oh, would you let me help you?”

Chapter Text

Komaeda sat by the table, silently watching as Hinata helped Asahina cook. He was mostly just cutting vegetables and handing stuff to Asahina, but he seemed to be happy about it. The two of them seemed to be getting along quite well.

Komaeda turned his eyes away from the two of them and looked out of the window. It was already really dark outside, and they would probably head to sleep soon after eating. He had really wished that Hinata would have agreed to sleep in the van, so that he wouldn't fall sick. But there was no reason to start another argument about this.

Maybe it would have been better if he had owned an RV like this as well. It would have been a lot better for travelling and they wouldn't have been so badly off getting stuck in the mountains… They would have been able to cook too, instead of living with just snacks.

Not that Komaeda really knew how to cook. He had mostly stayed away from the kitchen due to his luck. Besides, he had more than enough money to eat out all the time so he had never even thought about learning to cook… But now that he looked at Hinata, he kind of wished he could cook something for the other or even with the other…

He shook his head slightly. He shouldn’t be thinking stuff like this; these were selfish wishes.

Hinata laughed lightly at something Asahina had said, and Komaeda glanced at him again. He smiled when he saw the cheerful expression on Hinata’s face. Despite the fact that his luck had gotten them into this situation in the first place, he was happy that his luck had made it up for Hinata. That was the most important thing to him…

“Oh, it’s snowing outside!” Asahina exclaimed suddenly, and Komaeda looked outside to indeed see snow falling slowly from the sky.  “It’s so pretty…!”

“Will your car be alright?” Oogami asked Komaeda. “If it snows a lot during the night, it might be difficult to leave in the morning…,” she added, and Komaeda pursed his lips.

“We’re going to keep it on for the night so we won’t at least be buried in the snow, but I guess I should turn the car so that it’ll be easier to leave in the morning…,” he said and got up. It would be better to turn the car while the snowfall was still light.

“I see, that’s probably smart. We do have a snow shovel too, so if there ends up being a lot of snow we can shovel a way for it,” Oogami answered, and started to put her coat on. Komaeda gave her a confused look but before he managed to say anything, she was already out the door. He hurried after her, putting his shoes and coat on quickly.

Stepping outside made him remember just how cold it was already. If they really had had to sleep in the car without being able to turn it on…

He didn’t want to think about it now. He rushed to Oogami’s side, and they began to discuss where it would be best to park the car. After they came to a decision, Komaeda hopped into the car and turned the key. The car turned on normally this time, humming quietly and obediently instead of the coughing.

There was already a bit of snow and it was hard to turn the car properly, but it still didn’t take long to position it properly. Oogami signaled for him to stop eventually, and he got out of the car. They had parked it a little away from the road, in case they’d need some space to push it tomorrow morning, but otherwise it was lined towards the road and should be easy to get moving from.

“Thank you for your help,” Komaeda said once again as he got up from the car. Oogami just shook her head.

“It’s nothing,” she said and stood in silence for a moment. Komaeda tilted his head questioningly. “Are you two planning on traveling together for long?”

“Ah, we’re going to keep traveling together until the end of the year,” Komaeda said with a smile. “After that, it depends on Hinata-kun whether we’ll keep traveling or even be together. He might want to go on his way once we reach our destination.” Komaeda glanced at the car as he spoke. Once they got as north as they could, most likely they wouldn’t need the car anymore. And then most likely he wasn’t needed either. After all, he was here just to drive the car, so after the car lost its necessity Komaeda would too. Then Hinata wouldn’t have any need to be with him anymore…

“I see…,” Oogami answered, looking like she was in thought. “In that case, I hope it’s not too intruding of me to say this, but take care to say everything you want and need to say before that.”

“Oogami-san?” Komaeda looked at her and she smiled sadly.

“I feel like it would be better if you said what you wanted to say… No, I suppose it isn’t my place to say. I just lost someone important to me recently, so seeing how you look at Hinata made me feel a bit sentimental. I apologize for sticking my nose where it doesn’t belong,” she pulled back, and Komaeda didn’t really know what to answer to that. He hadn’t thought his feelings were that obvious, but if they really were he would have to work on hiding them better…

Although… that’s exactly the opposite of what Oogami had just said. It wasn’t that there was any need for him to listen to her, but… For a moment he remembered his parents, and even though he had thought he was completely over their passing, his heart squeezed a little when he thought he would pass away without ever saying anything. It would be better to keep these hidden to not be a burden on Hinata but… maybe once Hinata decided to leave him, he could say these feelings aloud without worrying about Hinata having to deal with him after that.

It would probably be a bother to Hinata, but the thought of passing away without ever being able to voice his thoughts...

“I’m sorry for your loss,” Komaeda answered, not knowing what else to say.


 

Komaeda looked at the plate of food in front of him as he took the chopsticks from the table. He hadn’t realized how hungry he was but now that food was right in front of him, he could feel his stomach squeeze. As he began to take his first bite, he could feel a pair of eyes on him. A quick glance told him Hinata was staring at him, for some reason seeming really invested in him eating.

Not knowing how to react, he just took the bite and as he chewed he glanced at Hinata questioningly. The other flinched back a little.

“Ah, uh, is it good?” he asked, and Komaeda nodded. It really was delicious. Hinata looked at him in surprise for a moment, before laughing a little bit. “Okay, that’s good to hear! We’ve almost always eaten at pretty expensive restaurants so…,” his voice trailed off a little.

Komaeda looked at Hinata in wonder. The reason he usually chose higher class restaurants was because they had less of a chance to be spoiled and cause food poisoning, but if he had to say what he actually preferred, he…

“I think I still would like home-cooked food the best,” he said after swallowing. “This tastes a lot better than any of the restaurant food I’ve eaten.”

“Aww Komaeda, you’re being too nice!” Asahina said cheerfully and Komaeda just smiled and shook his head. He was just saying what he thought after all. He glanced at Hinata, who was looking at his own plate of food with a small smile on his lips. Komaeda wasn’t exactly sure what had made the other so happy... Perhaps Hinata was interested in cooking and was glad the food had turned out well?

Probably.

“It’s really good, so thank you so much both Asahina-san and Hinata-kun,” he repeated the compliment. Asahina grinned brightly and continued the conversation on from there smoothly.

Komaeda took another bite of the food, and realized that for some reason he felt a bit light too. Maybe getting to eat food made by someone was making him feel a bit happy too, especially since it was partly made by Hinata… He couldn’t even remember the last time he had had someone make him food. The meal was delicious as he had said, but it also made him feel really warm inside.

And it was making him imagine things he probably shouldn’t imagine. He pulled his usual smile as he started to push those thoughts back.

He should be happy with just this.


 

Komaeda turned the car, and as the humming surrounded them he let out a small sigh. It was already really late, and while he was tired he didn’t feel sleepy at all. He glanced at Hinata, who was looking out of the window in thought. It was still snowing, but compared to before it was a lot lighter so if it went on like this, they should be relatively okay. They had let the seats down as low as they went to make it a bit more comfortable to sleep on.

“The car should get warmer soon,” Komaeda said, and Hinata turned to look at him. “Are you sure you want to sleep in the car? It gets quite uncomfortable...” Hinata immediately shook his head.

“Yeah, I’m sure. I like this car, and it would be awkward to sleep in the same room with people I don’t know too well,” Hinata explained. “I was actually relieved when you said you would sleep in the car, because I probably couldn’t have slept here alone though.” He laughed a little, and Komaeda smiled in response. The other had been quite cheerful ever since they had been saved.

They both lied down on their seats and a silence grew between them for a moment. Komaeda stared out of his window. It was really dark outside, so they had agreed to keep a light on inside the car to be able to see something.

The car was growing warmer, and Komaeda was starting to feel like having both a blanket and his coat still on was maybe perhaps an exaggeration but Asahina had insisted that they do this to keep warm so he decided to just live with it. Hinata seemed to be shuffling around quite a bit, probably trying to find a comfortable position.

Eventually he settled down and Komaeda turned to look to see the other lying on his side, facing towards him. He felt his cheeks grow a bit warmer when their eyes met.

“Hinata-kun?” he asked meekly and the other blinked.

“I was thinking… Today has felt really long with all that happened,” Hinata started, his voice quiet and soft. “But then again, ever since I met you every day has felt a lot longer...”

“Is it a drag to be with me?” Komaeda asked and Hinata shook his head immediately.

“What? No,” he said like it was obvious. “That’s not what I meant, sheesh. I just meant that before all this, nothing really happened in my life and I didn’t even notice the days passing. But now there’s something new happening everyday, both good and bad, and it feels like I’m actually making memories.”

“So it’s a good thing?” Komaeda confirmed, and Hinata gave a soft smile to him that made his heart jump a little bit.

“Definitely. I’m glad I’ve finally managed to make some great memories,” Hinata said, and fell silent for a bit. Komaeda felt like the other was still about to continue, so he decided to wait for the other to finish. “And I’m… I’m happy that I met you, Komaeda.”

“Because I took you away from Kyoto?” Komaeda asked, turning to lie down on his side too since his neck was starting to hurt. Hinata shook his head.

“Or well, that is something I’m grateful for but, what I meant by that is exactly that. I’m happy to know you, and to spend time with you…,” Hinata said, his voice once again trailing off. Komaeda stared at him, his eyes wide open in surprise. A voice in the back of his head told him that Hinata was probably just being nice, but he still felt warmth spreading through his body.

This was more than he deserved.

“Ah, that was probably awkward to say all of a sudden,” Hinata said when Komaeda didn’t answer, seeming flustered. “I just got to thinking about it today, or well recently, that even though a lot of things have happened and some of them… not so good, I’ve still felt lucky to be able to experience them with you out of all people.”

Komaeda could feel his thoughts running in circles as he tried to process everything Hinata was saying to him. He kept trying to figure out what was the reason Hinata was happy it was him; perhaps it was his money? This car? Had he just managed to take Hinata just to the right places to eat? He felt like there had to be a reason for it but his mind couldn’t come up with anything he could trust in; everything seemed to have more downsides to it than good and…

“I’m, I’m happy that I met you too,” he whispered quietly just when Hinata was starting to look worried at his lack of response. “Thank you for putting up with someone like me.” He could feel he was getting a bit choked up. Perhaps… he might not have realized how much he had wanted for someone to accept him despite the way he was. Even now he felt like this was a dream of his, but the way his heart thumped certainly made it clear he was awake.

“Again with that…,” Hinata said in a frustrated tone, frowning for a moment but soon he smiled again, seeming like he was defeated. “I guess I can’t force you to stop thinking that way. But know that I don’t agree with this ‘someone like you’ and ‘someone like me’ talk.”

“But…,” Komaeda started and stopped when Hinata squinted at him. To be so kind to someone like him was definitely too much, but he didn’t want to start another argument so… “Okay. If it bothers you, I’ll try to not say it as often.”

“Well, say it if you really want to. But I just wanted to let you know I disagree with that line of thought…,” Hinata said, his line interrupted by a yawn. It was already closing to 1am so it was no wonder the other was feeling tired. Komaeda himself felt entirely too nervous now to even be sleepy, but he smiled at Hinata.

“I think you should try to sleep, so that you don’t fall sick,” he said gently. Hinata just nodded, before looking at him with a weird look Komaeda wasn’t sure how to interpret.

“It’s kind of cold in here,” Hinata said, casting his eyes away from Komaeda as he did.

“It is?” Komaeda asked, feeling genuinely surprised. He was feeling plenty warm. Hopefully the other wasn’t falling sick and that wasn’t the reason he was getting cold… “Should I turn the heat up warmer?” It was already almost at the maximum though, so he wasn’t sure what he could do to make it better… Hinata shook his head.

“No, it’s okay. But, uh, if it isn’t too much of a bother, I think it would warm me up if, if I could hold your hand…,” Hinata mumbled. “... or something like that, haha...”

Komaeda was too much in shock to respond to that anyhow - even though he did think that Hinata would probably feel even colder having his arm out and holding Komaeda’s cold hands - and he just offered his hand to Hinata, who took it just as silently. Hinata’s hand was incredibly warm in comparison, proving Komaeda’s thoughts about him having cold hands again to be true, but he felt too nervous to say anything about it.

Hinata glanced at him, giving a small smile and Komaeda awkwardly smiled back. The other closed his eyes as soon as he saw that, and Komaeda decided to follow suit. He didn’t feel like he could fall asleep at all but, it was better to try than just lie here staring at Hinata sleeping.

“Good night, Komaeda,” Hinata said quietly, the quiet humming of the car surrounding his words.

“Good night, I hope you sleep well…,” Komaeda answered, squeezing his eyes shut.

He wasn’t sure what was going on with Hinata tonight, but if he could be of any use like this, then maybe it was okay for him to take this moment and enjoy it as well...

Chapter Text

The morning pulled Hinata out of his sleep slowly, the light slowly leaking into the car as the sun rose. Eventually he was woke enough that he couldn’t ignore it anymore and try to keep sleeping, and he slowly blinked his eyes open. As soon as he did, he realized he was still holding Komaeda’s hand and he just had a small smile spread to his lips naturally.

Komaeda was still fast asleep, breathing calmly. Hinata was happy to see the other asleep, since the night before this neither of them had managed to sleep. Hinata had taken a nap in the car yesterday but Komaeda had been driving that whole time… Komaeda was kind of cuddled up, the lower part of his face buried under the blanket.

Hinata himself felt really refreshed, surprisingly considering the car seat wasn’t the best bed even laid down. In fact, he felt like he hadn’t slept this well in a while. He should probably let go of Komaeda’s hand soon but… the other was so deeply asleep that he wouldn’t probably wake up soon, and… He didn’t even have any other excuses, but he wasn’t going to let go of it just yet.

It wasn’t snowing anymore, instead it was a really clear morning with the sun shining and no clouds to be seen. He raised his head a bit to see the snow surrounding them, sparkling in the sunlight like someone had thrown glitter all over the place. It kind of made him not want to get out of the car and ruin the untouched snow but it also really made him want to go walk all over it.

He turned to look back at Komaeda, deciding he should take this chance to stare. It wasn’t probably really good of him, to stare at the other when he was asleep but he was feeling too content to care right now. Komaeda’s cheeks and nose were slightly red, and Hinata squeezed his hand just slightly. Komaeda mumbled as a reaction and it seemed like he smiled just a bit, and Hinata felt like burying his face into his pillow to drown out his own wide smile.

He was kind of starting to debate whether he should still doze off for a little, when suddenly there was a loud knock on the window behind him. He jumped up in surprise, letting go of Komaeda’s hand as he turned to look behind him. Asahina greeted him with a grin and wave of a hand, and Hinata waved back a little. He glanced at Komaeda, who was frowning now and kind of cuddling up into a small ball, and he lifted his finger to his lip to signal for Asahina to be quiet.

Asahina just nodded cheerfully, and Hinata got out of the car as quietly as he could after putting on his shoes.

“Good morning,” Asahina whispered. “Did you sleep well?”

“Good morning. I did,” Hinata answered as they began to head towards the van. He glanced back at Komaeda quickly, to make sure the other was still asleep.

“Great! Are your shoulders alright? Should I ask Sakura-chan to massage you?” Asahina asked and Hinata shook his head quickly. Not only did he not want to bother her but also he was kind of scared about the thought considering how strong she was…

“No, I’m okay. Are you going to make breakfast now? Can I help you?” Hinata asked and Asahina smiled widely in response.

“Hehe, I thought you might want to help with it and that’s why I came to get you! Me and Sakura-chan actually ate breakfast already since we woke up already four hours ago, but I thought fried rice would be good food for us as lunch and for you as a breakfast!” she explained as she opened the door to the van. Hinata stopped for a moment to look at her, not knowing even what to say. She glanced back at him, tilting her head and Hinata smiled.

“Thank you, Asahina,” he said and she just grinned again.


 

Hinata moved the frying pan from the stove, and glanced at Asahina who nodded approvingly. She had made him fry most of the stuff, and had left the decision to him when it was ready. Hinata smiled.

“Okay, you should go wake up Komaeda now! We’ll set the table and such with Sakura-chan!” Asahina said and moved to give way to Hinata to exit the van. Oogami nodded as well, starting to take the plates out and Hinata just nodded as he took his jacket and put his shoes on. It hadn’t taken too long to make the food, granted it had been extremely easy to prepare for, and he was feeling good about it. Hopefully Komaeda would like it this time too…

The snow was crunching under his feet as he walked to the car. He had noticed two sets of footsteps leading from the van to the road, probably from when Asahina and Oogami had gone on their morning jog as Asahina had told him.

When he reached the car, he saw Komaeda inside still asleep, now lying on his other side towards the door. The car was humming quietly too, and Hinata pat it gratefully. It had kept them warm throughout the night obediently. For a moment Hinata wondered how he should wake up Komaeda, and eventually decided to walk to the driver’s side of the car. Maybe it would be better to wake up the other facing him instead from behind his back.

He opened the door slowly, and putting his other hand on the roof of the car he leaned inside the car a little bit. While Komaeda was still asleep, he didn’t seem to be asleep as deeply as before and Hinata felt a bit better about the idea of waking him up.

“Komaeda, it’s morning,” he said softly, but the other didn’t react at all. “Komaeda? The food’s ready already, you should wake up,” he said a bit louder this time, but once again received no reaction.

Pursing his lips, he reached with his other hand to shake Komaeda’s shoulder.

“Komaeda, time to wake up,” he said as he shook him, and this time he received a response. In fact, it seemed to have woken Komaeda up as the other slowly opened his eyes and sat up, staring at him with a sleepy and confused look.

“Hinata-kun? Is everything okay?” he asked as he rubbed his eye.

“We just finished making food, so you should get up,” Hinata said gently and smiled. Komaeda’s hair was even more of a mess than usually, the fluffy hair pointing in every possible direction. It was almost like there was a cloud on top of his head.

“Oh, okay,” Komaeda answered obediently and sat up, starting to put his shoes on. He seemed still half-dozed off. Hinata just stepped back from the car and waited for the other. Komaeda didn’t take long to put on his shoes and he got up from the car, moving almost like he was sleepwalking as he took a few steps closer to Hinata.

“Hinata-kun?” he said, tilting his head.

“It’s nothing. Also, good morning, Komaeda.” Hinata smiled as he started to walk towards the van. Komaeda followed after him, giving him a sleepy smile in return.

“Good morning, Hinata-kun.”


 

“Awww it feels sad to part ways now!” Asahina whined as she and Hinata watched Komaeda drive the car to the road. Oogami was standing on the road, holding her shovel. “We have to meet someday again, okay? Share all the fun stuff from our travels!” Hinata smiled at her.

“That would definitely be nice,” he said. It definitely would, but it probably wasn’t possible…

“Right?! Let’s exchange phone numbers so we can plan for it!” Asahina turned to look at him, pulling out her phone. Hinata flinched a bit, taking out Komaeda’s phone from his pocket. He didn’t really know the number for that phone so if Asahina were to ask for it… Luckily for him, Asahina just took the phone from his hand.

“Hinata-kun?” Komaeda called from the car, and Hinata looked at him and waved his hand.

“I’ll be there in a bit,” he said and Komaeda just nodded. Hinata turned to look at Asahina again, who pretty soon handed the phone back to him.

“There you go! You have to answer me okay?” she said with a grin. “How about Komaeda’s number?”

“Ah, uh,” Hinata said quickly, trying to figure out what to say. “He’s driving most of the time so he doesn’t really have time to answer, so you have to settle just for me.” It wasn’t entirely untrue either, and Asahina didn’t seem to doubt it at all.

“Oh okay!” she agreed. “Also, Hinata,” she added, whispering as she leaned a bit closer. Hinata leaned closer too to listen reflexively.

“What is it?”

“I really think you should talk to Komaeda,” she whispered. “You said you’re just friends, but I don’t know, I just kind of feel like it would be good for you to talk!” She grinned as she said that, and Hinata gave her a bit strained smile back. He… he really didn’t think he should. Asahina was probably thinking the two of them had been just normal friends this far, but their situation was really a lot more complicated than that…

He clenched his hand on a fist, thinking about last night. This should be enough, he was already being really flimsy about the borders he should keep. There wasn’t anything to talk about, anything at least that should be talked about.

“Thank you, I’ll… think about that,” he said, and he knew he wasn’t entirely lying. His mind was already wavering on his resolve, with everything that kept happening. Asahina seemed satisfied with his answer, and grinned widely.

“Hehe, tell me how it goes then!” she said and Hinata nodded. They walked to the car after that, and as Hinata opened the door, Asahina already started to wave both of her hands. “Bye bye, let’s talk often!”

“Thank you two so much for your help,” Hinata said and Komaeda quickly joined him for the thank you. They both told their goodbyes and as Oogami and Asahina answered them, Hinata kind of reluctantly closed the door. It was surprisingly hard to just close the door and leave. Asahina was still waving at them, even as they started to drive away and Hinata waved back at her for as far as he could see her, turned around on his seat.

As soon as he couldn’t see the two of them anymore, he turned to sit properly on his seat again, leaning back on it. The car was working again and they had gained new… friends? He supposed at least Asahina considered them that way. He glanced out of the window, leaning back on the seat. The familiarity of this car was really starting to be his safety.

“It’s kind of sad to say goodbyes,” he said without really thinking, and Komaeda glanced at him briefly.

“Yeah, I suppose it is,” he answered after a moment of silence. “I’m glad they saved us, and I’m really glad that you had fun.” Hinata turned to look at Komaeda, who was smiling softly. He smiled as well as he sunk a little bit on his seat to a more comfortable position.

“It was fun, but I’m really glad to be moving on again,” he said and looked outside of the window again. It had been such a long time since he had hung out like that with a group of people, and he had really enjoyed his time. But there was something comforting and peaceful being just by the two of us, driving in the car.

And he really didn’t want to break that peace anyhow, but still what Asahina had said lingered in the back of his mind. Maybe Komaeda would take it better than he was expecting. Maybe everything would still be as usual, but just with more clarity between them. But then again if he were to lose this secure calmness, this… almost sanctuary of his, he wasn’t sure if he would be able to handle it.

He smiled dryly as he felt his thoughts sink into a mess of mixed up feelings again.

Chapter Text

They had been driving for almost couple of hours when they decided to take a stop at a gas station. Komaeda parked the car and glanced at Hinata. Most of their travel had gone in comfortable silence, other than occasional conversation about the scenery of the sea next to them or talk about what they were going to do in Niigata, but Komaeda couldn’t help but feel that the silence was a bit difficult to handle. It had seemed like Hinata had been deep in thought, so while the silence had been calm it also felt like Komaeda wasn’t able to even break it, making it feel a bit weird.

“Hinata-kun?” Komaeda asked after he had turned the car off. Hinata turned to look at him quickly, like he had been surprised by the question, before smiling awkwardly.

“Ah, yeah. Sorry, I was kind of in thought,” he said apologetically as he began to get out of the car. Komaeda just nodded and got out of the car as well, feeling a bit tense. He had no idea what Hinata was thinking about, and even though he knew he probably shouldn’t try to intrude and guess what the other was thinking about, his mind kept wandering.

Hinata had said that he was happier that they were on the move again, but Komaeda couldn’t help but think Hinata was feeling mixed about it. Of course, the other wanted to keep heading north but it was obvious that Oogami and Asahina would have been a lot better company than Komaeda was. He felt his stomach twist as they began to walk towards the gas station.

Hinata had said… a lot of things last night, things Komaeda thought the other would never say after what he had done, and that thought was making him think that maybe Hinata had thought about leaving back then. That those might have been just polite words to help Komaeda feel better even if he had left… But maybe Hinata had decided otherwise, thinking that he might have been a bother to the other two.

Since Komaeda was the only other one who knew about the world ending… and taking use of his money was the smartest thing to do. There wasn’t really any other reason why Hinata would have chosen someone like him over Asahina and Oogami. Not any that he could think of, at least.

As soon as they entered the gas station, Hinata wandered towards the bathroom as he usually did. Komaeda walked to the magazine rack, starting to browse through one magazine absentmindedly. The magazine that had had the article about Enoshima wasn’t there, much to Komaeda’s relief. He didn’t have to worry about Hinata ending up seeing it…

Enoshima… He still wanted to find out more about her, but he felt like Hinata would be upset if he found out. After all, he was snooping in the other’s background. But if he found out more, he would be able to more of use for Hinata… He really didn’t know what was the right thing to do; everything felt like it was the bad option.

And it made him think what someone socially more adept like Asahina would do in this situation… If he just could be like her, then maybe he would be able to make Hinata smile more, like he had smiled yesterday.

He pressed his lips together as he tried to shake off these thoughts. Thinking of what if’s wouldn’t make things any better. He wasn’t like that and couldn’t be like that, no matter how much he tried.

“Komaeda?” Hinata’s voice snapped him out of his thoughts, and he quickly smiled as he turned to look at Hinata.

“Should we buy some snacks? We still have some left but it seems like it’s better to keep a bigger stock of them, just in case,” Komaeda began to ramble on, keeping the smile up. He didn’t want to sully the mood again after Hinata had been finally cheered up. Especially when he had been the one to cause the mood to get so weird in the first place.

“I guess? It’s not like we have anything in the backseat anyways, so I suppose it doesn’t matter to fill it with food,” Hinata said as they walked to the snack shelves. Well, probably eating nothing but snacks was bad but it was only for emergencies, Komaeda reasoned as they began to get the snacks they wanted.

Compared to the beginning of their journey, it seemed to be a lot easier for Hinata to decide what he wanted now, making it easier. And he had stopped worrying about the money too, now that Komaeda had explained why there was nothing to worry about it in regards to it. It made him think that maybe it should have been better to explain it from the beginning but… He didn’t really want to ramble on about himself, and he didn’t know what information was actually useful to share.

After they had decided on all the snacks they were going to buy, they carried all of it to the cashier who seemed confused by the amount of it, but didn’t say anything. Hinata packed them into bags while Komaeda paid, and when Komaeda was done and turned to him, Hinata gave him one of the bags.

“Here,” he said and Komaeda nodded, taking the bag while Hinata carried the another. Carrying the shopping bags like this felt a bit homely, and Komaeda pressed his lips together as he tried to fight against the feeling of happiness. He shouldn’t think about stuff like that…

They put the bags into the backseat of the car before seating themselves. Komaeda got out of the car soon, after driving to the gas pump, and began to refill the car. The smell of the gas lingered in the air and he glanced at Hinata inside of the car. Hinata had taken the phone out in the meantime, but Komaeda couldn’t really see what he was doing.

He filled the car up and returned to the car, but unlike he was expecting, Hinata didn’t put the phone away or didn’t even try to hide what he was doing. Apparently he was writing an email to someone. Maybe it was okay to ask about it since Hinata wasn’t trying to keep it a secret…

“Are you sending a message to someone?”

“Ah, yeah. I exchanged contact info with Asahina, and she already sent me a mail…,” Hinata explained, before lifting his eyes to Komaeda. “Oh, sorry for doing that without asking you. It is your phone and your info at all…,” he sounded a bit worried, and Komaeda smiled and shook his head.

“No, you can do what you want with it, I don’t mind. I never used it much anyways, so it might as well be your phone now,” he said. The only one who really messaged him ever had been his ex and occasionally Kirigiri about work, so there wasn’t much use of it for him now since he didn’t really have any need to contact anyone either.

“Well, I don’t think it would be right to call it mine either. Asahina asked for both of our contact info after all, and I just told her this one should be enough… So isn’t it more like we’re sharing it? So it’s ours,” Hinata pondered aloud, and Komaeda pressed his lips together. There wasn’t anything wrong in what Hinata had said but he felt a bit awkward about saying “ours”... In a sense, everything was his but in his mind, everything he had was considered Hinata’s because he didn’t feel any attachment to any of it, and he wanted to give as much as he could to Hinata.

Maybe that meant everything he had was both of theirs now, but… thinking like that made him just feel shy.


 

“The sea was kind of pretty at first, but one gets kind of bored looking at it after a while…,” Hinata said, sounding bored as he stared out of the window. Komaeda chuckled a bit.

“Yeah, the novelty of it runs out after some time…,” Komaeda answered. “Well, we will arrive in Niigata soon so we get to see something else.” They had been talking a lot more now, mostly Hinata asking Komaeda questions Asahina had asked from him and the few conversations that had sparked from those questions.

“Will we go eat right away?” Hinata asked, turning away from the window to face forward.

“If you’re hungry.” Komaeda shrugged, and Hinata glanced at him.

“I mean, I’ve been eating snacks this whole time, so I guess it’s better to ask if you’re hungry since you haven’t eaten,” he protested, and Komaeda pursed his lips. He was pretty used to eating only once or twice a day back in Kyoto, so he didn’t really get hungry often. He hesitated for a moment, before explaining the same to Hinata. Hinata was quiet for a moment, and Komaeda felt a bit nervous.

“Well, let’s go eat then,” Hinata decided eventually, and Komaeda sighed in relief. It felt so much easier to have the other decide… They began to discuss what they were going to eat after they had checked into their hotel. Luckily the hotel had been understanding about their circumstances, since originally they had been supposed to check in yesterday. The room had even had vacancy so that they still could stay the two nights they had planned on.

“Can we go to the beach at some point?” Hinata asked, and Komaeda looked at him in surprise.

“I thought you were tired of the sea?”

“Well, I’m tired of looking at it from a car,” he said. “But I would still like to go on a walk on the beach. If it’s okay with you.” Hinata glanced at Komaeda, and he smiled.

“Of course it is. We can go after we’ve eaten, if you want?” he asked and Hinata just nodded, sinking in his seat to an apparently more comfortable position. Komaeda smiled softly as he kept looking at Hinata for a little while, before turning his attention back to the road.

Not long anymore.

Chapter Text

As soon as he had put his jacket on a hanger and taken off his shoes, Hinata went to the closest bed and plopped down on it. It was so soft and comfortable that for a moment he felt like just taking a nap right there. But he sat up after enjoying the bed for just a small moment, looking at Komaeda who was still taking off his coat. Silently he just stared at the other, in thoughts.

Nap would be nice, but they had originally just planned to bring their belongings up and sit for a moment before heading to eat. Komaeda had said he was fine without eating, but that just didn’t sit right with Hinata. Maybe Komaeda was used to eating rarely, but it must not be healthy at all. No wonder the other was so skinny…

“Hinata-kun?” Komaeda interrupted his thoughts, sounding a bit nervous.

“Oh, it’s nothing. Sorry for staring,” Hinata said, getting up from the bed and grabbing his bag to unpack some of his stuff. He could tell Komaeda looked at him for a moment, before taking his own bag to the other bed. A silence fell between them as they unpacked, and Hinata sighed quietly.

Could he be any more obvious…? He should hold back on the staring at Komaeda, especially when the other was awake.

It didn’t take him long to unpack, and he lied down on his bed again since Komaeda had gone to the bathroom. He took out the phone to check if Asahina had sent a mail again. As he had expected, there was one  and it even had a picture of a donut shop attached to it. He started to type his answer, and Komaeda walked out of the bathroom before he was done.

“Oh, I’ll finish writing this message and we can go then,” Hinata said as he sat up.

“Alright,” Komaeda said with a smile, and began to put his coat on already. It didn’t long to finish the message and Hinata joined Komaeda almost immediately.

“Is the place far from the hotel?” Hinata asked as they walked out of the door, and Komaeda shook his head.

“No, it’s pretty close. Back when I was travelling, I stayed at this same hotel and ended up in that restaurant soon after wandering out of the hotel to get food… The smell just pulled me in,” Komaeda explained with a small smile on his lips, and Hinata cheerfully returned the smile. Now he was glad he had chosen this restaurant out of the ones Komaeda had suggested, since it let him find out a little bit more of the other and seemed to make him happy too.

It was like a stroke of luck on his part.


 

Hinata set his chopsticks down and leaned back on his seat. That had been delicious. Komaeda was still finishing his own meal, so Hinata took this moment to look out of the window. It had been pretty windy outside, and with that he wasn’t particularly excited about going back outside since the wind made the air feel even colder.

But then again, he still really wanted to go on a walk to the beach so he wasn’t going to mention anything about it to Komaeda. Otherwise the he might try to move the visit to tomorrow…

Not that there probably was anything bad about that, but Hinata just really wanted to walk today. Somehow just seeing the ocean had made him feel really nostalgic, even though he couldn’t really remember the last time he saw it. There were just vague memories, from a time when his hands been little chubby and his father still carried him to the car after a long day.

He pressed his lips together. All his childhood memories had turned so foggy after… after all that had happened. He could feel his body grow heavy just at the thought. No matter how much he had worked, he hadn’t still been able to remember lot of the details from his childhood; in fact it seemed like they got more clouded as time had went by. Now he could barely remember what his parents had even looked like.

So maybe it was just because of the comparison to his earlier memories, but all his memories from when he had met Komaeda to this day felt crystal clear, and it felt like so much had happened in such a short time.

“Somehow it feels like…,” he said before he even properly realized it. Komaeda lifted his eyes to him from the food, giving him an asking look. “Ah, I was just thinking that somehow the days have felt a lot longer ever since I, we left Kyoto,” Hinata explained his thoughts, and Komaeda looked thoughtful.

“Have you been bored?” Komaeda asked and Hinata quickly shook his head.

“No, not long in that way! More like, it feels like there’s just always so much happening each day, especially in comparison to before…,” Hinata said, his voice fading out towards the end. He hadn’t really ever talked about what his life had been before he met Komaeda, originally because he had been so suspicious of Komaeda and unable to trust him but…

He wondered if Komaeda was as curious about his life before as he had been interested in Komaeda’s life. If so, then maybe Hinata had been slightly unfair but… It wasn’t like Komaeda had asked about it. The topic had been hiding within their conversations a few times, but Hinata had always avoided bringing it up and perhaps Komaeda had picked up on his hesitation to talk about it.

But was there really any meaning to talk about it at this point…? He just didn’t know.

“Ahh, I see!” Komaeda replied to his explanation, tilting his head slightly. “That feeling I can understand as well. Back in Kyoto, my days were really full of nothing but meaningless living, so in comparison to that it feels like I’m truly experiencing all the hope and excitement this world has to offer! And it’s all thanks to you.” Hinata gave a dry smile at the last remark.

Again with this… He still couldn’t understand Komaeda’s view of the world, and of him either. Komaeda’s thoughts and feelings felt like an enigma, which was even more difficult to understand than if Komaeda just plain saw him as a friend. He kind of figured that Komaeda would have to feel normal emotions just as well as anyone, but it was so much harder to read those under all the smiles and worshipping words.

Maybe Hinata could feel with his feelings a bit better if he could just understand Komaeda better. But now, it felt like his feeling were rejected and instead he was being put on a pedestal of some sort of messiah, bringing hope along with him… This wasn’t certainly how he had imagined how his first and most likely last love would go.

“I think those should be my words,” Hinata said, resting his elbow on the table and leaning his head on his hand. “You’re the one who took me away from Kyoto and allowed me to do anything at all except for running and hiding. If that happened to be something you were looking for, then it was purely accidental from my part so I don’t feel like there’s any need to thank me. But what you did to help me, it was purely intentional from your part so isn’t this all thanks to you?”

Komaeda stared at him without saying anything for a while, and Hinata just avoided looking back at him to avoid eye contact.

“But you’re the one…,” Komaeda started, but it felt like he lost the words he was about to say in the middle of the sentence. “You saved me by just appearing in my life.”

“Couldn’t the same be said about you? You kind of saved me as well,” Hinata said. “Besides, if we go by your words it was your luck that made us meet.”

“But… you decided not to leave me behind even though I’m no good,” Komaeda said, seemingly troubled by this conversation. In fact, whenever Hinata brought this topic up, anything good Komaeda had done, Komaeda always grew troubled and restless. Hinata didn’t know if it was his luck that caused him to think so negatively of himself, but these conversations were somewhat satisfying to Hinata. It felt like he was shaking the foundation to Komaeda’s lack of self-worth whenever this happened.

Not that he would probably have enough time to really make Komaeda appreciate himself, but at least he could try to make the other doubt it just a little bit.

… But Komaeda also seemed so troubled right now that he was feeling a little bad.

“Well, I suppose it’s true there are some things I’ve done intentionally as well,” Hinata said diplomatically, and Komaeda seemed slightly relieved by that.


 

They walked out of the restaurant and instantly the cold wind blew across the street, making Hinata shiver.

“Should we go to the beach now?” Komaeda asked. “It’s already six p.m so I don’t think we should visit the hotel in between if we’re going today, since it would be quite late by the time we got back in that case… Unless you want to get the car.”

Hinata shook his head.

“No, let’s go now. It wasn’t that far after all,” Hinata said and Komaeda nodded, starting to lead them presumably towards the beach. Hinata walked next to him, pushing his hands into his pockets. It definitely was cold here, even though there wasn’t nearly as much snow in the town as there had been on the way here.

They hadn’t really talked a lot after the earlier conversation. Hinata didn’t really mind the silence, since it gave him space to organize some of his thoughts that had sparked up because of their conversation. Komaeda seemed really thoughtful as well, so the silence between them felt mutual and calming.

These quiet moments really made Hinata feel safe. There was space for him to think on his own and not be disturbed, but Komaeda was still there right by his side. He hadn’t even remembered silences this comforting existed. The town was relatively peaceful as well in comparison to Kyoto and Tokyo, so he was feeling somewhat invincible even. Everything was peaceful.

It was so hard to even imagine the end of the world might be approaching them soon, or the situation he had been just a few weeks ago, or… or all that had happened couple years ago. If he closed his eyes, he felt like he would be able to settle in this situation completely; the smell of the sea, the snow crunching under their feet and Komaeda’s hand occasionally brushing against his when they had to give way to the people passing by.

“It’s not far away now, just a few blocks away,” Komaeda broke the silence, and Hinata nodded. He glanced at the road ahead, trying to see if he could see the sea yet. But instead of the sea, he could see a police officer walking their way, seemingly on a patrol. It felt like his blood stopped flowing for a bit, and he moved a little bit closer to Komaeda and cast his eyes down on the ground to avoid looking at the officer.

Komaeda seemed to notice this, as he moved to walk a little bit in front of Hinata, like he was trying to cover him up. It was a small gesture, but it made Hinata feel a bit more relieved. Most likely a normal officer patrolling the streets wouldn’t even be looking for him, but the fact that the other was helping him hide even a little bit was making him feel better.

The officer passed by them, and Hinata let out a small sigh of relief. He turned to look at Komaeda and was about to thank him, when he suddenly felt his sleeve being grabbed.

“You’re Kamukura Izuru, aren’t you?!”

Chapter Text

Komaeda could see the officer grab Hinata’s arm and calling out an unfamiliar name to him, and just as quickly Komaeda grabbed Hinata’s hand. Like a bear trap, Hinata’s hand clutched around Komaeda’s immediately in a painfully tight hold. Komaeda smiled at the officer as politely as he could.

“Excuse me sir, who are you talking about?” It took significant effort to keep his voice calm and amiable, even though he could already feel his heart beating intensely. The officer luckily let go of Hinata’s arm, and looked at Komaeda. He had an intense look in his red eyes and he seemed like a very passionate type of person; exactly the kind of people Komaeda couldn’t handle that well.

“Ah, excuse me!” he said, his voice loud like he was shouting. Komaeda could feel Hinata wince a little bit, and he tried his best to squeeze his hand a little tighter. “Your companion here bears a striking resemblance to a man that was reported missing in Kyoto just couple weeks ago!”

“Kyoto?” Komaeda said in fake wonder. “We came here from Tokyo, to have a little vacation together.” It would probably better to make the lie somewhat close to reality; it was a lot easier to fabricate a story close to reality than to make up something completely new. The officer didn’t seem affected, and instead his focus fell to their hands.

“Your friend seems nervous though, if you need to hold his hand even!” Komaeda almost clicked his tongue. The officer was more perceptive than he had expected. He said apologies to Hinata in his mind before answering the officer.

“Ah, he’s not my friend… We’re actually dating…,” he said, trying his best to sound like he was embarrassed to say it. It wasn’t really difficult, although his reasons for it were entirely different than what he was trying to make the officer think.

“Oh…!” The officer seemed put back by the answer. This was already the second time this had worked, but Komaeda was a bit worried in Hinata’s reaction to it. He tried to sneak a glance at him but Hinata’s face looked frozen stiff. The officer coughed. “I will still need to ask for identification, to make sure! Do you have your passport or health insurance card with you?” He turned his eyes to Hinata as he spoke, and Komaeda squeezed his hand again. They had gotten the passport for Hinata, but the other seemed a bit put off from being talked to again.

“Do you have either of them with you or are they at the hotel?” Komaeda prompted softly, and Hinata seemed to realize what was going on. He took the card out of his pocket with his free hand. He seemed to be in shock, and Komaeda pressed his lips together as he hoped the officer would let them go after this.

The police began to examine the card closely, and while he was still distracted with it Komaeda leaned a bit closer to Hinata.

“You’re doing really well, we’ll get away soon,” he whispered as quietly and quickly as he could. Hinata just glanced at him, his eyes clearly showing the fear he was feeling. Komaeda just held his hand tighter again to try and reassure him.

“Hinata Hajime, age 23 and current residence is in Tokyo,” the officer eventually said out loud and handed the card back to Hinata. “There seems to be nothing wrong. I’m sorry for stopping you, these things happen often!” He laughed loudly after his words, and Komaeda gave him a dry smile while Hinata didn’t react at all. All of a sudden the officer’s radio began to make sound.

Officer Ishimaru, we need your help, the Crazy Diamonds are at it again, ” a woman’s voice said through the communicator, and the officer grabbed the communicator.

“As you see, I have work to attend to now! Please enjoy the rest of your evening!” he said before starting to run off, speaking to the communicator as he did. Komaeda let out a sigh of relief as his back disappeared into the crowd, and he turned to look at Hinata who seemed incredibly pale.

“Should we still go to the beach or…?” Komaeda didn’t get to finish the sentence before Hinata nodded already. He was a bit hesitant about heading to the beach after this, but Hinata probably knew better. They continued to walk, and Hinata kept clutching at his hand like he was desperately trying to keep himself together.


 

The beach was empty of people when they arrived. Komaeda led Hinata closer to the sea, and looked around to make sure they really were alone before he looked at Hinata. The other still seemed stiff and there was an empty look in his eyes. Komaeda figured Hinata had gone into some kind of lockdown to keep himself calm.

“Hinata-kun,” Komaeda said softly, and Hinata turned to look at him. “It’s okay now, there’s no one here. You don’t have to force yourself to be calm anymore,” he continued, rubbing Hinata’s hand with his thumb in an attempt to make him feel safer. Hinata just stared at him in shock for a moment, and Komaeda was starting to fear he had made the situation worse.

Suddenly Hinata let go of his hand, and before Komaeda managed to react the other rushed to hug him and knocked him over with the surprise. Komaeda stared at the sky in wonder for a moment, trying to get his bearings when he noticed Hinata was shaking, clutching at him desperately as soon the sound of muffled sobs carried to Komaeda’s ears.

Komaeda felt his heart squeeze in pain, and he wrapped his arms around Hinata, quietly trying to say something, whatever to attempt to make him feel better. He knew that most likely this was just all the tension breaking out at once in the form of tears, but he still felt afraid he would hurt the other accidentally so he chose his words more carefully than ever.

It wasn’t what he was good at however, so he didn’t end up saying a whole lot, repeating the same words over and over again. Once again he felt powerless, with his lack of social skills making his heart feel heavy. He couldn’t be of any use to Hinata once again. He had never been good at consoling others in the first place, and he had never had anyone cry on him this, this helplessly.

It was a heavier burden than he had ever realized from books and movies. There were no magic words he could say, nothing. He could just wait, wait and hope he was doing enough. But it was painful not being able to do anything.

Eventually Hinata’s sobs calmed down - how much time had passed Komaeda didn’t know - but he still didn’t let go, still didn’t get up. Komaeda just accepted it quietly, not really wanting to disturb the other. His back was wet from the melted snow and his other arm was growing slowly numb, but he kept perfectly still. None of that really bothered him right now.

This was probably the moment he should have said something. But his throat felt dry as he just waited for something to happen, maybe some spark of thought telling him what to do, or maybe Hinata saying anything.

And like some kind of bad luck struck him, in the middle of the silence, the cold creeping up on his neck made him let out a sneeze. It startled not only himself but Hinata as well. Hinata slowly got up from top of him, kind of sitting up but still resting his other hand on the ground. Their eyes met, and Komaeda felt the pang of uselessness as he saw the look on Hinata’s eyes.

He looked so… so lost, like he still didn’t know what to do with the swirl of emotions that must have been spinning inside of him this whole time. It was a look seeking for some sort of help, like he was expecting Komaeda to comfort him.

And he had nothing to offer. His heart felt tight as he tried to come up with some words, his confusion most likely clear to see from his face as he struggled to push his own emotions aside to come up with something to help the other. The frustration and sadness was about to bring tears to his eyes and he forced himself to open his mouth.

“Hinata-kun,” he said, the desperation apparent from his voice despite his attempt to hide it. “Are you al-” His sentence got cut off when suddenly Hinata kissed him.

Komaeda’s eyes widened and he gasped in surprise. Hinata had closed his eyes and was desperately seeking comfort from his lips. His teeth kept knocking against Komaeda’s and there were tears in the corner of his eyes still, and Komaeda could feel tears come into his own eyes as well as he returned the kiss hesitantly. Komaeda lifted his hands to Hinata’s hair, entangling his fingers amongst the cold but soft strands of hair, and Hinata was partially holding himself up instead of laying all his weight on Komaeda.

Their teeth still kept knocking ever so often and Komaeda was acutely aware that his nose was running from the cold, but despite the awkwardness of the kiss they still didn’t separate. It was like neither of them wanted to face the silence, the lack of words they both had certainly suffered from.

Instead they escaped into this small solace that they could get from being able to be close to another person.

Chapter Text

Hinata eventually separated from Komaeda, pulling away slowly. He had expected to feel heavy or regretful after the kiss, but instead he felt light, like he was floating. Komaeda had probably just gone along with it, to try and help him or maybe just afraid to refuse, but right now, Hinata didn't find himself thinking about any of that. Komaeda was looking up at him, his eyes wide open, making his confusion apparent. The only word Hinata could find to describe the way he looked was goofy, and he couldn’t stop himself from snorting.

This seemed to snap Komaeda out of his confusion, to some kind of worried look.

“Hinata-kun…?”

“Sorry,” Hinata said as he got up from top of Komaeda, sitting next to him instead. Komaeda sat up almost immediately after Hinata moved. “I… just kind of needed support,” Hinata explained flimsily. There was a small thought in the back of his mind, telling him that he should probably feel guilty for lying just to hide his own ulterior motives, but he just drowned it all out.

“No, it’s okay,” Komaeda said quickly and Hinata looked at him. “If I can be of use to you, you can do anything to me.” Hinata immediately squinted his eyes at Komaeda.

“I’m not going to do that,” he said and turned to look at the sea. “... Well, let’s just say this was a payback for that time.” Since that was the sole reason why Hinata could drown out the weight of guilt and instead still keep his floating for a little while longer. Komaeda laughed awkwardly, his face looking like he was more sorry than actually humored. Hinata bit his lower lip.

They sat in silence for a moment, and Hinata was pretty sure what Komaeda was thinking about. The kiss had distracted the both of them for a moment, but now that they had brushed that aside, Hinata once again felt his hands tremble at the thought of what had just happened. His mind kept relatively calm however since the feeling of safety didn’t pass anywhere since Komaeda was here and no one else was.

But there were great many questions Hinata was sure were spinning around in Komaeda’s head after that encounter. All sorts of things had been revealed and Hinata… Hinata wasn’t sure how he was supposed to approach them. It would be so much easier if Komaeda were to just ask but he was most likely trying to give him space. Usually that was what Hinata appreciated about Komaeda, but right now it would be so much easier to explain if the other asked.

He tried to figure out something to say, some way to start explaining what happened. But he didn’t know where to begin; in fact, he wasn’t even sure what he wanted to explain and what he wanted to still keep a secret. This situation had come too suddenly, he had no idea what information he felt like he could trust Komaeda with, and even more importantly what he wanted the other to know and think of him.

His mouth had gone dry as he thought and tried to figure out some place to begin…

“I’m,” he started, his voice sounding hoarse. “I’m not actually 23 years old. I’m not even 22 just yet, although my birthday will be soon. They just chose that birthdate and year for the new identity...” he explained hastily, after having finally found some topic to start with. He could see Komaeda glancing at him but he kept his eyes fixed to the sea.

“Your birthday is soon? Is it early enough that we get to celebrate it?” Komaeda asked, perfectly accommodating the conversation Hinata had started. It made Hinata feel a bit relieved but also frustrated. He didn’t really need to be catered to this much.

“The first of January…,” Hinata said softly, raising his legs slightly to hug them and place his chin on his knee. What a convenient date for the end of the world, huh… But that date was exactly why he had gotten involved with her. Hinata looked at Komaeda from the corner of his eyes, to see the other smiling.

“Okay, so we should be able to celebrate it!” Komaeda said cheerily, like he was trying to change the mood. Still no proper questions, no prompts for Hinata to continue on.

“And… and my name is Hinata Hajime,” he said firmly. Komaeda tilted his head in confusion. “I mean, I know it’s the name in my current identification but it’s also my original name. That’s why I chose it, because I wanted it back...”

“So should I keep calling you Hinata-kun still?” Komaeda asked a bit hesitantly, and Hinata nodded. Komaeda had probably been confused about that too, after hearing… that name.

“Please do. And about Ka…,” Hinata started to say but immediately choked on his words as he tried to say that name. His whole body immediately went stiff as he tried to fumble the name out, stopping him from saying anything at all. Komaeda seemed to notice this, and he placed his hand on Hinata’s shoulder.

“There’s no need to force yourself, Hinata-kun. I’m not demanding an explanation,” Komaeda said, smiling softly. “Should we head back to the hotel now?”

“I, I suppose,” Hinata managed to answer. He bit his lip as he stood up, and Komaeda followed his example. Hinata looked at Komaeda for a moment, without caring about the fact that Komaeda was visibly getting nervous by his stare. Perhaps he still didn’t feel safe enough with Komaeda if he couldn’t even utter that name aloud.

But he kind of felt like the fear wasn’t as much as what Komaeda would do with the information, but how it would affect the other… He really couldn’t predict Komaeda at all, so it made him nervous to think what the other would think if he found out the truth about his past. As he thought of the possibility of Komaeda leaving after he heard the truth about his past, Hinata felt his whole body turn cold.

He didn’t want that.

“Hinata-kun?” Komaeda asked shyly, staring at his own feet. Hinata snapped out of his thoughts and turned towards the sea, taking out the two marbles from his pocket and looking at them. This was the first time he had looked at them together after he had bought them. He kept them carefully separate from each other on his hand, to avoid them knocking against each other.

He hadn’t really thought about anything back then, he couldn’t even remember why he had chosen the night sky for Komaeda’s marble in the first place. But it felt fitting now, since there was some mystical beauty yet the feeling of ease about the both of them, the night sky and Komaeda.

Meanwhile his own marble… he had bought it as a memento of his old name, but now he had retrieved that name. But there was some other feeling now about the marble, as he looked at the both of them side by side. The sun and the night sky…

He glanced at Komaeda to see him staring intently at the marbles as well, seemingly in thought. Komaeda had constantly refused to hold his own, saying it would surely break with his luck. Hinata hadn’t fully understood why Komaeda would care about some piece of glass breaking back then, but right now he felt like he might be starting to understand that fear. He absolutely didn’t want to lose either of them, so perhaps it was better for him to keep them safe.

He smiled softly at Komaeda as he closed his hand in a fist around the marbles.

“Let’s head back?”


 

Hinata let out a sigh as he finally settled under the blanket in his bed. It was so much more comfortable than the car had been. He rolled to lie on his stomach and rubbed his face against the pillow for a moment, enjoying the softness. He stopped only when he heard Komaeda chuckling, and he turned to lie on his side.

“It will be nice to sleep in a bed again,” Komaeda said amiably, and Hinata nodded. Komaeda had just came out of the bathroom, and was about to turn the lights off. Hinata took the last seconds to stare at the other until the lights were off and darkness fell into the room. Hinata listened to Komaeda walk to his own bed, his footsteps light.

Eventually, he hadn’t said anything the whole evening about… what happened today. Komaeda had talked about a lot of things, telling him about some sights he had seen in the past and books he had read, everything else but anything that had happened today. Once again, Hinata had enjoyed that comfort of being able to avoid everything to do with his past, but he could feel frustration building up inside of him.

In the end, he had dragged Komaeda all the way to here without ever explaining anything. And Komaeda wouldn’t even ask, just for his sake. This kind of pampering had been really comforting and he had enjoyed all the space he had gotten, but at this point it was starting to feel more like distance than space. He had enjoyed hearing more about Komaeda’s previous life exactly because it had made him feel closer to the other.

He just wanted to be closer and closer to Komaeda… He touched his lips absentmindedly. Komaeda hadn’t said anything about that either, of course. Everything had been brushed aside. Starting from when that police had caught them…

Hinata felt chills run down his spine as he thought about the situation. He had been so scared the officer would figure out he was still the same person. Using the same name as he had had before, of course it was stupidly risky. He was just lucky the officer hadn’t apparently received any information about his life past that name at least. There were very few people who knew about that name anymore besides the institute, and none of those were people he’d actually like to meet ever again.

Everyone else… were gone or had probably forgotten all about him by now. He couldn’t remember having that many friends in the first place, but his memories were still a bit fuzzy so he couldn’t tell. Maybe there was someone out there wondering where he had went.

For some reason, that thought made him feel more unsettled than anything else. He really didn’t want anyone out there knowing about any part of the past him, not the him from the time he could barely remember nor the him from after he had met her. It would feel weird if someone knew more about his past than he did.

His parents weren’t there anymore, so with that the only people he actually remembered from his childhood were gone. Everyone else was nothing more than a stranger to him, a blurry face mixed with mumbled words. But those people could be out there, thinking about him, knowing more about him than he did. As far as he knew, some of them could actually know what happened, they could know what he did, what she made him do.

He could feel his hands start to tremble, as anxiety started to fill his mind. He should stop thinking about his past life. There was nothing but fuzzy memories from before her, and if he kept trying to recall the past his mind would just give him memories of her, and everything she made him do. He suddenly realized he hadn’t breathed in a moment, and he gasped for air and sat up on his bed. He had no idea how much time had passed when he tried to think about it, but Komaeda was sitting up in his bed too.

“Hinata-kun? You’ve been a bit weird for a moment, are you alright?” Komaeda asked and Hinata looked at him, still slightly gasping for air as he nodded.

“It’s, it’s okay,” he stuttered. “I’m okay, just a bit… a bit nervous.”

“... You can’t fall asleep?” Komaeda asked softly after a moment of silence. Hinata shook his head and grasped at his blanket. Definitely not in this condition. He hadn’t even thought about sleep, as anxiety was still making his heart beat.

Maybe that was a description to one type of condition of not being able to fall asleep. Back in the institute, he had had a lot of nights like this, but he had kind of gotten used to the idea of not being able to fall asleep properly. In fact, all this time he had been with Komaeda he had been able to fall asleep surprisingly well…

“Hmm… Would you like me to read something to you?” Komaeda asked a question Hinata hadn’t expected to, and he looked at Komaeda in surprise. He could kind of see the other, his eyes used to the darkness, but he still couldn’t really tell his expression. “It’s… I guess it’s something my parents did whenever I couldn’t sleep as a child. So I thought it might help you...”

“B-but how about your own sleep?” Hinata asked, and Komaeda chuckled awkwardly, familiarly.

“I can’t sleep when I know you’re not feeling well anyways. If it will help you, I’ll read you something,” he said and started to get up from the bed. “I’ll turn the bedside lamp on, alright?” he warned, and after waiting for Hinata to nod he turned the light on.

Hinata felt his eyes squeeze shut at the sudden light. In the meantime, Komaeda walked to the bag of books they had and gently inquired him what book he had been reading last time in the car, and what page he had left on. Hinata answered hesitantly, and soon enough Komaeda walked to the side of his bed, sitting down on the edge of it while telling Hinata to lie down on the bed. He did as he was instructed, pulling the blanket back up.

There was something familiar about the weight of someone sitting on the edge of his bed, holding a book in his hand and smiling gently at Hinata, and briefly he wondered if this was another nostalgic feeling from the memories he couldn’t remember. Perhaps his parents had read to him similarly how Komaeda’s parents had read to him.

Before Hinata managed to anyhow think of any reason to protest this - he didn’t really have any other reason but that it felt like a bother to Komaeda and he knew Komaeda wouldn’t accept that - Komaeda started to read the book aloud, starting from the previous page that Hinata had mentioned, probably to give him a reminder where he had left off. Hinata rolled to his side, facing the side Komaeda was sitting on and carefully listened to the other’s voice.

Slowly, it started to calm his heartbeat from the mess it had been. He barely recognized the words Komaeda was saying but just hearing his voice was calming. Now if only, if only…

“Can I hold your other hand?” he asked before he realized what he was saying, and Komaeda looked at him in surprise. Hinata was about to pull his words back when Komaeda offered his left hand to him, placing the book on his lap and continuing reading. Feeling grateful but embarrassed, Hinata held the offered hand and closed his eyes to avoid looking at Komaeda.

If he could stay like this for the rest of his life, he felt like he would have nothing to fear.

Chapter Text

For a while now, it had been completely silent except for Komaeda’s own voice. He glanced at Hinata briefly to notice the other was most likely asleep already, but he kept reading nonetheless. There was a chance the other was just half asleep and him stopping suddenly might wake the other up again. Besides… Hinata was still holding his hand, and it made it hard for him to even want to stop.

It had taken some time to get used to listening to his own voice drone on and on. It must have been boring to listen to, but at least it had helped Hinata fall asleep. Komaeda smiled softly as he glanced at the other again. He was… still a bit shaken from everything that had happened today, but somehow trying to help Hinata calm down had made him feel more at ease as well.

He turned to look back at the book to continue reading properly. His mouth was getting a bit dry from reading, and he presumed he could stop soon.

He hadn’t been able to get his thoughts entirely together just yet. More like, he didn’t even know where to begin. From finding out more about Hinata and the name the officer had dropped, or the… the kiss. Just the thought of it made his heart squeeze. It had been entirely different now that Hinata had initiated it. Hinata must have tried to seek support from him, so it made him feel a bit guilty to be happy for it. But if it was something he could do to help Hinata…

He read one paragraph to the end and then grew silent. Hinata didn’t react at all to him stopping so it was probably safe to assume the other was completely asleep. Komaeda closed the book and placed it on the nightstand, still remaining seated on the edge of the bed.

With all this new information, Komaeda wasn’t sure if he should try to find out more about the name the officer had said, or whether it would be better for him to hold back his curiosity. Hinata had told him already something about it, everything he seemed comfortable talking about right now. So it might be better to wait for Hinata to tell him more by himself.

But… He still wanted to find out more, wanted to know everything he could about Hinata, so that he could be more useful and… and because he wanted to be closer to the other somehow. He rubbed Hinata’s hand with his thumb, carefully, to avoid waking up the other.

He really didn’t know what he should do. He didn’t want to bother Hinata with questions and wanted to give the other time to tell about these things when he was ready… or perhaps not ever, if it were to go that way. Komaeda wanted to do that, trust that Hinata would tell him what he thought necessary and when he was comfortable about it.

But he was also afraid that Hinata never would tell him about any of that. And considering the end of the world was approaching, Komaeda couldn’t help the small fear inside of him that he would never know more about Hinata...

For some reason, that thought made the thought of death frightening to him.

He squeezed Hinata’s hand softly, and the other’s hold seemed to tighten a little too. Komaeda sat there for a moment, looking at the other while he tried to regain his composure. He wasn’t scared of death, he had never been and he needed to remember that so that he could support Hinata with everything he had.

But despite how much he thought, he started to feel just… small, small and vulnerable. He should probably get up and go to sleep on his own bed, but he really didn’t want to let go of Hinata’s hand. In fact, based on how tightly Hinata was holding his hand he wasn’t sure it would be that easy to even let go and leave.

Despite feeling a small pang of guilt for doing it, Komaeda slowly lied down on Hinata’s bed, right on the edge where there was still space. But even then, they were so close that Komaeda could probably count Hinata’s eyelashes. He felt a bit nervous, but at the same time he was starting to feel more peaceful, with the fear slowly flowing out of his mind.

He closed his eyes, ignoring everything else in his head but the feeling of safety.


 

“Komaeda. Hey, Komaeda, wake up, it’s morning,” Hinata’s voice quietly carried over his dreams, and slowly Komaeda opened his eyes. The other was sitting up on the bed next to him, looking down at him. Komaeda quickly jumped to sit up, realizing he was still holding Hinata’s hand as he did.

“M-morning,” he stuttered out quickly. “Did you sleep well? I’m sorry for being an inconvenience to you, I got really sleepy reading and you wouldn’t let go of my hand so-,” Komaeda began to explain rushedly, but Hinata cut him off soon.

“I slept really well. Thank you for helping me fall asleep…,” Hinata said. Komaeda blinked a couple times, having expected to be yelled at but the other just got up from the bed, letting go of his hand as he did. “It’s not like there’s anything bad about it, I don’t mind,” Hinata added, before yawning and stretching his arms.

Komaeda looked at the other for a moment, before realizing he should probably get up was well. As he started to get up, to his surprise he noticed he had half of Hinata’s blanket over him. He must have pulled it over himself during the night at some point, he reasoned. He kind of wanted to apologize for that but it felt a bit too awkward to bring up.

“What should we do today?” Hinata asked suddenly, and Komaeda turned to look at him again.

“What would you want to do?” Komaeda threw the question back, and Hinata looked a bit troubled by it. At first Komaeda thought he had caused that expression, but Hinata seemed to be in thought right after that. “Hinata-kun?”

“Well… I would like to just be, inside today, in the hotel. But it kind of feels like a waste not to go out and see the town before we leave…,” Hinata explained, staring outside of the window with a mixed look on his face. Komaeda pursed his lips as he thought for a moment.

“I think we should stay inside if you don’t feel like going outside. There’s no need to force yourself to go outside either, I don’t think it would be that enjoyable if we did. We can go outside later if you feel like it, or even go ride around the town with the car,” Komaeda said, trying to sound as gentle as he could. Hinata was probably anxious to go outside after being spotted by that police officer yesterday. Or he might be tired too, since a lot had happened these past few days.

Hinata looked at him, his expression open and surprised, making Komaeda’s heart jump.

“You think so?” Hinata asked, sounding genuine and Komaeda nodded.

“Yeah, I think it’s good to take some days to just rest too. I think normally people who travel spend some days resting too.” Or at least, that’s what Komaeda remembered from the few trips he had had with his parents. He sat down on his own bed and smiled. “Should we order some room service for breakfast for starters?”

“Uh, yeah,” Hinata said, seeming a bit surprised. “Are you okay with this?” he asked hesitantly, and Komaeda nodded.

“Of course! I’m okay with anything you want to do,” he said. “Should we read books then? If we had playing cards we could play something… Although, I’ve been told often that playing with me isn’t that much fun with my luck...” Komaeda laughed a bit awkwardly, but Hinata shook his head.

“I think it would be fun,” Hinata said, smiling softly. Komaeda felt his heart jump for the second time of the day, and he quickly looked away from Hinata, like that would make any difference.

“Ah, then I could go get playing cards from somewhere nearby!” he said quickly to distract his own thoughts, and started to get up from the bed to get his clothes and dress up. But before he managed to grab his clothes, Hinata talked to him and stopped him in his tracks.

“Eat breakfast first, at least,” Hinata said firmly, and Komaeda laughed awkwardly again.

“Y-you’re right. Let’s do that,” he said. He could feel his cheeks were a bit flushed and he shook his head slightly. Maybe it was because he had just woken up, or probably even the circumstances of the situation when he had woken up, but he was feeling a bit jumpy. He glanced at Hinata quickly to see a kind of amused smile on his face.

“You just said we could rest the day but here you are trying to sprint to the shop right after,” Hinata said, chuckling a bit. Komaeda couldn’t help but smile back in response, feeling happy to see the other smiling, but it was kind of making him nervous as well.

He really wanted to make Hinata smile more and more, but that wasn’t something he was really that good at.

Chapter Text

Hinata sat on his bed, holding the book from last night. With the other hand he was absentmindedly drawing circles on the cover of the book with his finger. He didn’t really remember most of what Komaeda had read to him last night, not only because he had fallen asleep pretty quickly but also because he had been mostly focused on listening to the other’s voice.

He was glad Komaeda had agreed to stay inside. He somewhat felt like Komaeda would say yes to anything he would say, though… He just hoped the other really didn’t mind staying inside.

… Komaeda really would probably agree to most what Hinata offered. Based on the fact the other wasn’t upset at him about the kiss kind of proved it. Although, the other might have accepted it so easily because Hinata had been crying back then. Hinata wouldn’t be surprised…

Then again, he hadn’t been that upset either when Komaeda had kissed him, but that was a different case since Hinata had feelings for Komaeda. Although, if that was true for Komaeda as well then it would explain why Komaeda hadn’t been upset at all… Hinata shook his head. It was unlikely.

But… Hinata couldn’t really deny it was possible. He pressed his lips tightly together as he set down the book from his hands. And even if it wasn’t like that now, it was still possible that Komaeda would develop feelings for him. Asahina had told him to talk about it too… He really didn’t know how to bring the topic up, however.

They didn’t even have that much time left, so he felt a bit stressful about making this decision. He felt like he might run out of time at this rate, with the days passing by, without being able to make a decision. He really didn’t know what he should do, but perhaps… perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad to try to pursue these feelings.

The more he thought about it, the harder it came to remember why he had resolved not to tell Komaeda in the first place. Komaeda leaving him felt like a hard to swallow thought now, after all that had happened. He supposed this was some kind of trust that had been building up inside of him, but he was starting to think that Komaeda wouldn’t leave him no matter what happened.

More he was starting to be afraid Komaeda would agree even if he didn’t have feelings for him, and Hinata didn’t want that to happen. He would just have to make sure that didn’t happen somehow…

If he even managed to say it, to begin with. He could feel his stomach twist with both excitement and nervousness. The thought that he could stop holding back on these feelings and just be open was making him feel a bit giddy, but he was still afraid of anything that might happen. He had never had any romantic relations with anyone, so the fear of the unknown or the rejection was making his hands tremble slightly.

And thinking about pursuing these feelings despite what Komaeda might feel made him feel a bit guilty. But perhaps there wasn’t anything bad to try and achieve happiness in the time he had left. Even if it didn’t go anywhere, he would still rather do something about these feelings than end up regretting keeping them inside.

He touched his lips, deep in thought. Maybe, just maybe.


 

“Oh, I won,” Hinata said as he put down his cards. Komaeda was staring at them like he still couldn’t believe it. Despite all the warnings Komaeda had given him about how playing cards wouldn’t be fun with Komaeda’s luck, all of their games had been so normal that it was almost weird. They got equally good - or bad - cards and it was always pretty tight which one would win. If Hinata hadn’t already witnessed and decided to believe Komaeda’s luck was real, he might have been suspicious of it now.

Well, perhaps he hadn’t been entirely trusting in the idea, since he wasn’t nearly as shaken by this development as Komaeda seemed to be. Or maybe it went to show how much of an impact it had had on Komaeda…

“This is… absurd,” Komaeda muttered again - Hinata had long ago lost count how many times Komaeda had said something similar - as he took Hinata’s cards and stared at them like they would magically change. Hinata took this chance to open one of the bags of snacks they had brought inside. As he munched on the cookies, Komaeda went through the cards like he was searching for some kind of clue.

“Who knows, maybe I’m just lucky today as well,” Hinata said amiably, offering the bag for Komaeda who hesitantly took one cookie as well and setting the cards down in a neat pile.

“Maybe that’s it…,” Komaeda said, clearly trying his best to sound like he was chuckling as he said it, but he couldn’t hide how distraught he was. Hinata smiled softly.

“Should we go eat something? Other than snacks I mean, we’ve been eating nothing but those since breakfast,” he offered. It was already afternoon so it was quite some time since breakfast. He wasn’t feeling particularly hungry thanks to the snacks but, he presumed it would be good to eat actual food. And maybe keep a pause from playing the cards, since it seemed to be making Komaeda feel confused.

“Oh, if you want to,” Komaeda said, looking a bit worried immediately. “We can also order room service.” Hinata shook his head.

“I think I’d like some fresh air. Let’s go to somewhere close though,” he compromised and Komaeda nodded. Hinata got up and stretched his arms. It had been just as calming as he had thought to sit inside for half a day. Especially… even though the police officer had let him go, if he were to do any further research he might find out the connection between the names Hinata Hajime and Kamukura Izuru...

Maybe it had been bit of a risk to choose this name, but then again he hadn’t wanted anything else but to get his old name back. So if he ever got into trouble for it, then he really had no one else to blame but himself. But the officer hadn’t luckily known anything else but his current name and face. In fact, he wasn’t sure how much information about him had been passed on and just how far. At least based on this officer, who had seemed overly eager at his job hadn’t known any more than his name and face so this might be the extent of what most officers knew.

So perhaps choosing this name wouldn’t lead to too much troubles. At least he hoped so.

He glanced at Komaeda who was putting on his jacket, wondering what the other was thinking about this all again. Komaeda had really saved him in that situation, since hearing that name again had locked him in place. Even though for the past few years, that name was the only one he had been called, outside of Komaeda and the people he had met with him.

And he was slightly afraid of talking about the name Kamukura Izuru to Komaeda, not only because just thinking about the name made him shudder but he just really didn’t want to hear Komaeda say that name aloud. After all that time, Hinata had introduced himself with the name Hinata again and been called by it, and he really didn’t… he really didn’t want to hear Komaeda call him any other name, or at least not with Kamukura.

His hands were starting to tremble slightly as he put on his jacket, making it slightly difficult. Komaeda gave him a worried glance, but he didn’t say anything and Hinata tried to give him a small smile.

He wasn’t particularly worried about the police, not with Komaeda here and knowing they would both be more on the lookout for them, but he was pretty certain Komaeda thought that was the reason for him being nervous. Hinata… really didn’t mind that interpretation, even though it was wrong. It would be too much trouble to explain the real reason, and way too risky as well.

They walked out of the hotel without saying a lot, into the snowy city. It was snowing lightly again, and Hinata pulled his beanie on better to avoid his hair getting wet. But his hair had really overgrown again, and it was almost reaching his shoulders so it was hard to cover it all. Maybe he should get a haircut at some point for the last time…

He glanced at Komaeda when he realized the other still seemed restless. It seemed like Komaeda had been looking at him once in awhile to make sure he seemed alright, and Hinata felt his heart swell. No matter what Komaeda’s feelings towards him were and would be, it still made him happy to know the other cared enough to be worried over him. His hands hadn’t still stopped trembling either, and on the moments impulse he decided to ignore anything the logical side of his brain was trying to say.

“Can I, can I hold your hand again?” Hinata asked, and Komaeda seemed a bit surprised and flustered at the suggestion, but despite that he still let Hinata take a hold of his hand, with the usual “of course you can” that Hinata was sort of getting tired of hearing. But right now it felt comfortable.

Chapter Text

Komaeda was certain his hand was starting to sweat, but gladly he had gloves on so Hinata shouldn’t be able to realize a thing. But he wasn’t quite as sure about being able to hide his nervousness with his expression, however. So instead he tried looking at Hinata, instead glancing around.

It wasn’t entirely just for avoiding looking at Hinata why he was looking around though. He was keeping close attention to their surroundings in case he spotted any police officers. He really didn’t want a repeat of yesterday, even though Hinata seemed to be doing well right now.

Perhaps rest had made him feel better. Of course there was the possibility that Komaeda had managed to do something well to help him, but he was doubtful. Hinata had also seemed to be getting more comfortable and stable in general as they had travelled, so it might just be that he was getting over his initial stress a bit.

Or so Komaeda hoped. He knew Hinata had been on run from the day he had met him. That was why he had been trying his best to not make Hinata talk to strangers or leave him alone in public places for long, since he presumed those kinds of situations were something the other would like to avoid. But based on the meeting with Asahina and Oogami, Hinata was either growing more comfortable with strangers or Komaeda had overthought this matter.

It was possible Hinata had been just more wary of him. Not that Komaeda could blame him. If he remembered right, Hinata had called him creepy when they had first met…

He glanced briefly at Hinata, who was looking around as well. But in contrast to Komaeda, he seemed calm and was even smiling slightly like he was enjoying himself.

Komaeda smiled a bit too. If Hinata was doing well, then it was all good.

They arrived to the restaurant just a moment later. It was a pretty small ramen shop, but it was close to the hotel and if Komaeda remembered correctly the food here had been pretty good. Hinata let go of his hand when they went to the door, his hand slipping away smoothly. Komaeda was ever so slightly disappointed, but he was also a bit relieved.

“Oh, it’s a ramen place,” Hinata said as they walked to the counter, sitting down. There was just a couple customers besides them, so it was relatively quiet.

“Yeah,” Komaeda said. “I guess I forgot to mention. Is it okay?” he confirmed quickly. He usually asked Hinata first but… for some reason he hadn’t now. Weird.

“It is,” Hinata answered nonchalantly, staring at the order list on the wall. Komaeda sighed in relief and began to read the list too, to decide what he was going to eat.

After they had ordered, Komaeda let out a sigh again as he leaned his chin on his hand.

“Are you still wondering about the card games?” Hinata asked him, and Komaeda looked at him in surprise.

“No, or well I am still in shock but it wasn’t the reason why I was sighing really,” he said quickly.

“Oh, then what was it about?” Hinata asked, sounding curious and Komaeda began to play with his fingers nervously as he thought what to answer. He couldn’t exactly just say he had been thinking about Hinata, but he also didn’t want to upset the other by not answering… Apparently Hinata noticed him hesitating, because he turned to look in front of him. “Well, if you don’t want to say it’s alright.”

Komaeda looked at Hinata in surprise, before smiling a bit hesitantly. He was glad about this outcome but… he was now pretty sure Hinata had just tried to bring up some kind of conversation, and he had just effectively killed it.

“Uh, have you always been lucky in games?” he asked to bring up some topic. Hinata looked at him briefly, before turning his eyes away again.

“Huh, I wonder… I don’t at least remember I was, but I’m not too sure…,” Hinata said, a lot more vaguely than Komaeda had expected. “It’s been awhile since I last played. I wasn’t at least lucky when I was playing those arcade games in Tokyo,” he explained and chuckled. Komaeda couldn’t stop the wide smile spreading to his lips at the sight.

“Should we visit an arcade again at some point? I can’t promise I’ll get another high score though...”

“Haha, like one isn’t good enough. Especially if that Usami person is as good as the kids said,” Hinata laughed. The conversation began to flow from there, light and warm. Komaeda was almost overwhelmed by it.

He hadn’t really known before how happy someone else’s happiness could make him, but he hadn’t met someone with such great potential for hope before.

Perhaps Hinata really was the hope he had been waiting for all his life.


 

They ended up going to an arcade after eating. There was quite a lot of people, but still not too much to have at least couple games free. Komaeda let Hinata choose one of them while he exchanged some of his money into coins. Hinata seemed relatively excited to be here, and Komaeda was glad that what had happened in Tokyo eventually hadn’t ruined it for him.

After receiving his coins he turned around to look for Hinata. He didn’t have to look for long because the other was waving his hand at him, just a bit further away. Komaeda walked over to him and saw that Hinata was standing next to a fighting game you could play against another player.

“Up for it?” Hinata asked with a grin, and Komaeda laughed.

“I guess, sure,” he said. Usually he would have warned about his luck but… after the card games, he wasn’t too sure anymore. Besides, he didn’t want to ruin the mood when Hinata was so eager to play. Hinata sat down by the game and Komaeda took the other seat. The seats were close enough that their shoulders would certainly bump. But Hinata didn’t seem to be concerned about that at all as he began to look over the characters, while Komaeda inserted the coins.

“Good luck,” Hinata said jokingly after they had both chosen their characters and the match was about to begin. Komaeda laughed.

“To you too, Hinata-kun.”


 

“How did you do that?” Hinata asked in surprise as Komaeda’s character finished his with last, powerful hit. Their playing had been really equal this whole time too, although if Komaeda had been counting right he had won just a couple times more than Hinata.

“I’m not actually sure, I just pressed buttons and that attack happened,” Komaeda said truthfully. Hinata seemed peeved at his answer, but as he was about to protest he seemed to notice something.

“Should we change the game?” he asked suddenly, nodding ever so slightly to behind them. Komaeda glanced briefly to see two teenagers standing just a bit away from them, glancing at their direction. They probably wanted to play the game for a change. They had been hogging the machine for quite some time after all, with the amount of coins Komaeda had gotten.

Hinata was getting up from his chair to leave, and the teenages were inching closer at that. Komaeda got up from the chair too, but before leaving he decided to load some coins into the machine as an apology. The teens seemed to notice this but before they managed to say anything, Komaeda hurried to follow Hinata.

Hinata was looking at him from the next game he had went to, with a smile on his face.

“I think that was a nice thing to do,” he said. “I think they might have waited for some time after all. And it’s not like we’re lacking any money,” Hinata laughed and Komaeda nodded, feeling a bit awkward.

“We did hog the game for some time... So, do you want to play this one next?” Komaeda changed the topic as he prepared to put coins in.

“Yeah, I thought I’d try my hand at it, it seemed similar to the game I did well on in Tokyo,” Hinata explained. “I mean, I probably can’t get a high score either way but I might as well play the game I’m best at…” He began to play the game as he finished his explanation, and Komaeda leaned a bit against the back of the chair as he watched the game.

“I guess most people end up never getting a high score in these kinds of games,” Komaeda said. There were incredibly lot of normal, everyday people after all, unable to get that kind of achievement. Or honestly, achieving anything significant at all in their life. He smiled widely. “But I’m sure a hopeful person like you, Hinata-kun, can do it! I’m sure of it!”

“Ah, yeah,” Hinata answered, his voice suddenly sounding a lot more mellow for a moment. Komaeda looked at him, feeling puzzled but it seemed like that mellowness passed in an instant as Hinata smiled widely again. “I’ll try my best!”

Komaeda cheered, but he couldn’t help but ponder about that small moment Hinata had hesitated. Had he said something wrong…?

Chapter Text

Hinata splashed cold water on his face and rubbed his eyes for a moment. He could hear the sounds of the arcade, the voices sounding slightly muffled through the bathroom door. He shouldn’t stay here too long so that he wouldn’t worry Komaeda, but he really didn’t feel like going back right away.

He hadn’t made a single high-score, as he had expected. Komaeda hadn’t mentioned anything about it, which was making Hinata even more nervous. Komaeda seemed to look at him and think he was someone amazing, but…

He was normal.

A chill ran down his spine at that thought and he quickly shook his head. It wasn’t a bad thing to be normal, it wasn’t.

It wasn’t… Hinata slapped his cheeks, not too hard because he didn’t want to leave any kind of mark of it but, still hard enough to shake off those thoughts. Komaeda was probably waiting for him already. Today had been such a nice day, and he didn’t want to ruin it. Komaeda hadn’t meant anything with what he had said, so there was no need to worry like this. He walked out of the bathroom, and began to search for Komaeda from the arcade.

Normal… Hinata briefly wondered what that made Komaeda think of his luck, since it was clearly abnormal. Was that something he took pride in since it made him not normal, or…

“Hinata-kun!” Komaeda’s voice called for him, and Hinata turned to look in the direction he had heard it come from. Komaeda was waving at him, from near the entrance. Hinata did his best to smile as he walked to him.

“I feel like eating something sweet,” he said as soon as he got to Komaeda, to bring the topic into something else right away. He didn’t want to talk about the games, really.

“Oh, I think I saw a pancake stall when we were walking, do you want to go there?” Komaeda suggested instantly, jumping on the topic naturally and making Hinata feel more at ease. Maybe Komaeda had already forgotten what he had said… at least Hinata hoped so. If it had been just a casual remark, it would mean Komaeda hadn’t held any expectations of him and had been just joking.

That way Hinata hadn’t disappointed him with how normal he was…


 

Hinata stared at Komaeda quietly. Komaeda was sitting on the end of his own bed, drying his hair with the hairdryer that the hotel had provided for them. He watched as the wet hair slowly poofed up into the usual mess, gaining volume like it was magic. He didn’t even realize that he had been staring at Komaeda quite intently before the other turned off the hairdryer and turned to look at him, seeming surprised.

“A-ah, Hinata-kun? Is there something wrong?” he asked, flustered. Hinata shook his head.

“No, I was just wondering about your hair.”

“My hair?” Komaeda repeated in wonder. “It’s white like an old man’s, right? People always said that at work,” he laughed as he ruffled his hair a bit awkwardly. Hinata joined in the laugh.

“I think any old man would be happy to have hair as thick as you have. I don’t understand how your hair even works to be so… so floofy like that.” Komaeda gave him a confused look.

“Don’t you mean messy?” he asked and Hinata squinted.

“What? No, it’s totally floofy, like… like I don’t know. Clouds? Although I haven’t touched clouds obviously but, I think that’s what they would feel like,” Hinata argued, and when Komaeda still looked doubtful, he got up from his bed and walked over to him. “Just trying it--, actually first, is it alright if I touch your hair?” Hinata asked. Komaeda looked at him for a moment, seemingly speechless.

“Uh, I, I guess it is…?” he said, and given permission Hinata lifted his hands to Komaeda’s hair. It felt like he had put his hands on top of a… piece of wool - or maybe a loose ball of yarn - with the way it slightly gave way to his hand. It was incredibly soft to the touch as well and suddenly Hinata felt a bit embarrassed about what he was doing.

“Yeah, as I said. Soft like the coat of a lamb...,” he said, moving his hands slightly to ruffle Komaeda’s hair lightly. It wasn’t really difficult to mess it up, puff it up completely.

“H-Hinata-kun?” Komaeda’s voice was a bit high pitched as he raised his hands like he was about to resist, but stopping just midway. Hinata wasn’t exactly sure what that meant; whether the other was uncomfortable with it or if it was just a reflex, especially since his ruffling wasn’t that light anymore. It was closer to him just outright messing Komaeda’s hair up, even slightly shaking his head in the process.

But despite the treatment, Komaeda didn’t stop him and instead laughed a little, in a way Hinata couldn’t really decipher the meaning of. But it didn’t seem like he was really uncomfortable with the situation so he presumed he could just do what he wanted for now.

“Uh, I’m glad if you get some enjoyment out of my hair,” Komaeda said, his voice light like he was smiling. Hinata wasn’t exactly sure since Komaeda had dropped his head a little bit while he had been playing with his hair. “But I always thought straight hair like yours looked a lot better. Mine is just a terrible mess.” Komaeda’s voice remained light as he spoke, but Hinata felt a little low at those words. Komaeda was talking himself down again.

“I like your hair,” he said bluntly as he stopped ruffling Komaeda’s hair. He patted it once before walking back to his bed to sit down. Komaeda was looking at him with a mostly surprised look, his hand on top of his own head around where Hinata had patted him.

“... Thank you?” he eventually said, sounding like he wasn’t sure if that was the right thing to say.

“I’m just saying what I think,” Hinata answered, waving his hand. Komaeda seemed so utterly confused that Hinata was starting to feel self-conscious, and so he began to get under his blanket. They had meant to go to sleep now anyways, so he’d rather get to it before the mood got awkward. Komaeda seemed to catch his drift and went to turn the lights off.

“Good night, Hinata-kun,” Komaeda said before he turned the lights off.

“... Good night,” Hinata answered quietly, turning his back to Komaeda’s side of the room. A silence fell between them, and Hinata let out a small sigh of relief. He was looking forward to leaving the town tomorrow. He felt a bit bad though that their trip here had went like this… He pressed his lips together. Komaeda must have had good memories of this town, and Hinata would have loved to enjoy this place as well. But he really just wanted to get out, and most specifically… he wanted to get back into the car, return to that safe haven with just him and Komaeda.

Perhaps their next stop would go better.


 

Hinata jumped up in his bed in the middle of the night. He couldn’t remember his dream anymore, but he could feel his heartbeat racing and sweat dripping from his forehead. Without knowing exactly why, he began to look around in the room to frantically make sure he wasn’t somewhere else and that he really was just in the hotel room.

But no matter how much he looked around, the fear didn’t pass and his heart kept thumping like it was never going to end. He clutched at his chest, feeling his hands tremble as his fingers desperately held onto the front of his shirt. He was safe, he really was safe… He kept forcing his thoughts to calm down, repeating words he hoped would help him feel better. The room was silent - or at least he couldn’t hear anything from under his heartbeat.

He turned to look at Komaeda, briefly wondering if he should wake the other up, ask for his help but for some reason he was scared, like he wasn’t exactly sure what would happen if he did. In fact, he didn’t want to interact with anything; it felt like he would somehow shatter the room, shatter it like it was just an illusion around him.

His ears were ringing; he wasn’t exactly sure if it had just started or if it had been there all along and he just hadn’t noticed from his heartbeat, but it was steadily growing louder and making his head hurt. He bit on his lower lip, and covered his ears in hopes it would help. A memory passed through his mind, of Komaeda telling him to try and breathe in the same rhythm as he did and Hinata began to do it, even though his breathing had been fairly regular to begin with. But maybe it would help calm his heartbeat.

He looked at Komaeda, looking at how his chest kept rising with each breath he took and he imitated that calm, steady space with his own. Komaeda was here, and he was right here with him. Slowly, but steadily his heartbeat began to calm down and he started to feel at ease in the room. He was still on edge, and his heartbeat didn’t exactly return to how normal it usually was but instead remained a bit elevated. But it was enough that he could lie down again and take a deep breath before sighing.

Things were okay. He looked at Komaeda again, now that he could focus a bit better. The other was sleeping calmly, his face partially covered by his messy hair - whether it was that messy from sleeping or from Hinata playing with it, he wasn’t sure. But looking at it was… making Hinata feel a bit warmer, a bit safer where he was.

Komaeda wasn’t going anywhere.

Chapter Text

Komaeda woke up to the sound of a loud conversation coming from outside of the room, judging by the voices it was a young child talking with her mother. He blinked a couple times, wondering if he should just return to sleep. But the more he thought the more he didn’t feel like he would be able to fall asleep again so he got up from the bed.

He glanced at Hinata to see the other still fast asleep. It was probably a bit earlier than they usually woke up… Komaeda yawned and walked to the bathroom; it worked better for him if Hinata wasn’t awake. As soon as he had closed and locked the door, he reached under the sink to take out a small prescription bottle. One could tell just by the sound of the pill clacking around inside that there was only one left.

Komaeda looked at it, feeling a bit stressed. “Take two pills every morning”, the note on it said clearly. He had no idea what would happen if he didn’t take those two; he was one of the first ones to use this medicine after all. He opened the tap and the bottle, dropping the last pill on his hand. Tomorrow he would have none left.

At the same time the thought made him excited - this kind of bad luck must bring something really bad consequences, but in return the good luck would be immense - but right now his bad luck would affect Hinata as well. He took the pill and cupped some water on his hands to swallow the pill down with.

He washed his face as well while the tap was still running, and closed it after he had gotten his toothbrush wet. He stared at the mirror as he brushed his teeth, going through all the side effects they had estimated the pills might have and what it might mean if he stopped it suddenly. There had been only one time in his life that he hadn’t taken the pills every morning and that had been when he was sick in Tokyo. But back then he had been too sick to figure out what had been the illness and what effects from having not taken the medicine.

He could feel his hands trembling just at these thoughts, and he began to quietly hum as he continued to brush his teeth. This could be so, so bad.


 

Komaeda closed the trunk of the car, and instantly remembered he had forgotten to do something. Hinata was standing next to the car, ready to open the door and Komaeda smiled sheepishly at him.

“Sorry, I forgot to return the keys to the reception,” he said and pulled out the keys from his pocket to show Hinata. “I’ll be right back, you can go in the car already.”

“Alright, be back soon,” Hinata said and opened the door. Komaeda nodded before turning around and jogging back to the elevator. As soon as the elevator doors closed he shook his head. They had just taken the elevator straight to the parking hall floor, without stopping by the first floor at all. How clumsy of him to forget…

The elevator binged and stopped at the ground floor, opening the door to the lobby. He walked straight to the reception, not wanting to waste any time getting back. He wasn’t still sure how well Hinata handled being alone just yet and he wanted to avoid making the other unnecessarily stressed.

It didn’t take long to return the keys - the young woman at the desk just took them and marked down on the computer that they had left - and soon Komaeda was back in the elevator again. His heartbeat was a bit faster than usual and his breathing was bit heavy, and he wasn’t sure if it was because of the medicine or because of just rushing. He jogged through the parking hall again to the car, and seated himself in the driver’s seat swiftly.

“That really didn’t take long,” Hinata said as Komaeda turned on the car.

“Yeah,” Komaeda answered, leaning back on his seat as he reversed out of the parking space. “I didn’t want to keep you waiting, after all.” Hinata just hummed quietly in response to him, seeming like he was in thought. He might have interrupted some line of thought Hinata had been in the middle of, Komaeda presumed and decided to keep the silence.

As they eventually got into the road out of the parking hall, Komaeda didn’t notice anything weird going on with his heartbeat anymore.


 

“How long are we going to stay at Sendai?” Hinata asked, breaking off a silence that had been hanging between them for a while now. Komaeda glanced at him quickly, seeing the other staring out of the window. He seemed either in thought or bored.

“Well, I reserved room at the hotel for five nights to begin with, but we can leave earlier too if something happens. Or we can try to extend the time too, but that might not be as easy,” Komaeda said, turning his eyes back to the road. “Oh, but it’s currently the time for Pageant of Starlight, so it should be pretty.”

“Pageant of Starlight? What’s that?” Hinata asked. Komaeda could see him turning to look at him from the corner of his eye, and he smiled.

“Every evening they have all the trees decorated with colorful lights for the whole month of December, and there’s also tents with food and drink at the end of the display… If I remember right it was really popular for families and... couples,” Komaeda explained, finishing the sentence a bit stiffly. He glanced at Hinata, to check if the other had thought it was weird but instead Hinata seemed just intrigued by what he had told him.

“Can we go check that out?” Hinata asked and Komaeda nodded, smiling brightly.

“Of course, if you want to! It’s a really beautiful display, I’m glad to be able to see it again. It’s pretty but then again, I never thought it was worth it to travel all the way to Sendai just for it, so I’ve seen it only that one time.” Komaeda could feel his voice grow a bit stiff towards the end as it felt like he was… out of breath? He took a deep breath, shaking his head. Maybe he had forgotten to breathe in between his words. “I’m happy I’ll be able to show it to you too.”

“Ah, yeah… I’m kind of looking forward to it now,” Hinata said, his voice a bit mellow. “Is there anything else we could do at Sendai to pass the time?”

“Hmm well there’s the,” Komaeda started, but once again he felt like he was out of breath, and he stopped abruptly. Hinata looked at him, seeming worried immediately and Komaeda shook his head a little. “Sorry, I think I have to sneeze,” he said slowly, and began to took deep breaths, trying to disguise it as him about to sneeze. When he felt like he had gotten enough air, he faked a sneeze and immediately glanced at Hinata. The other didn’t seem suspicious, and was now just waiting for him to continue his explanation.

“Sorry about that,” he said awkwardly and Hinata just shook his head.

“Nothing about it. So, you were going to say?”

Komaeda resumed his explanation, but this time he took care to not rush the explanation as to avoid that happening again. It was still hard to explain anything in length, and it made him briefly wonder if this was somehow related to the medicine.


 

“Whoah…,” Hinata said almost immediately after walking into the room. Komaeda walked after him and watched Hinata walk to the window a bit hesitantly. They could see the whole city from the huge window spanning from the ceiling to the floor. Hinata seemed a bit scared to stand next to the window - they were on the 33th floor after all so even if you weren’t particularly afraid of heights, it might still be a bit intimidating.

Or so Komaeda presumed. He walked next to Hinata to look out as well and smiled.

“Ahaha, is it weird to be this high up?” he asked and Hinata nodded without saying anything. He seemed a bit overwhelmed by the sight to even pay attention to the room. This was the first time Komaeda had managed to have enough luck to find a five star hotel with vacancy, so he had been kind of looking forward to Hinata’s reaction to it. And looking at the amazement in Hinata’s eyes, he was quite satisfied already.

“Well yeah, of course,” Hinata answered, a bit snappy. He might have thought Komaeda was making fun of him. “I’ve never had any experience like this...” Komaeda laughed a bit, and began to unpack some of their stuff as Hinata continued to look out of the window. There wasn’t much to put away, so soon he just seated himself on the other bed and sighed.

After that one conversation, he hadn’t had as much trouble with his breathing, and he really hoped this was the extent of it. There wasn’t really that much time left, so if he could just hang on for just a little over couple weeks with the withdrawal symptoms it should be fine. But from his experience with previous medications he had tried, it would probably get worse as time passed.

He rubbed his throat a little bit, to relieve the uncomfortable feeling a bit. It felt a little bit like he had something stuck on his throat, and while it felt a bit perturbing it wasn’t the worst that could’ve come out of this. The medicine had been working a lot better than any previous ones, so it was possible that the symptoms wouldn’t be as severe as with some of the ones before.

Or it could mean they would be even more severe, he didn’t really know. He glanced at Hinata again, seeing the other was looking around in the room now.

“There’s a bathtub in the bathroom by the way,” Komaeda said with a smile. “Although there is a spa in the hotel too if you want to go there at some point.”

Hinata wandered to the bathroom after his words, and Komaeda decided to lie on the bed. He smiled a bit to himself. He was glad to see Hinata so energetic again… their stay in Niigata hadn’t gone too well after all, so he was happy about the change in mood. He couldn’t help feeling like Hinata had been a bit closed off at times and there were many things he had done that Komaeda wasn’t sure what to make of. It felt like the other was trying to create a distance between them but Hinata had also been really, really close to him…

Komaeda pursed his lips. He really didn’t know for sure what was going on. At the same time he wanted to do everything he could for Hinata but with these mixed signals, he wasn’t sure what it was that he was supposed to do. He knew Hinata couldn’t like him the same way as he did, but he seemed to need a lot of support and closeness. Perhaps Hinata was just settling for him, seeing how there wasn’t anyone else he could rely on or seek support from.

And he had to remember that, and not hope for anything… anything more. He was here to support Hinata, and that was all he was going to do. He should keep the medication thing a secret for now too - he didn’t want to upset Hinata with it after all. He was just going to keep doing what he had been set to do from the beginning, avoid making any further mistakes and… keep everything inside him hidden, as to not bother Hinata. He knew his feelings must be nothing but another emotional baggage on Hinata’s mind, and he wanted to make sure these withdrawal symptoms wouldn’t make him even more of a baggage in any way.

He had to be better about this.

When he heard Hinata’s footsteps come out of the bathroom, he sat up again and smiled brightly, before asking whether they should go eat. Just like this, he should do his best to be Hinata’s strength and support, and not expect anything else.

Chapter Text

Hinata couldn’t stop looking around as they walked down the street. The light illustrations were shining brightly, making him forget it was already evening. They were currently walking through a park, the trees around them decorated with the lights. There were quite a lot of people around as well, and warm chattering surrounded them constantly.

They hadn’t really talked much since leaving the hotel to eat, and even in the restaurant their meal had passed mostly in silence. Hinata didn’t always mind it; after spending every day and night together with Komaeda, it would probably drive him insane if he were to stress every silence. It usually felt natural but now he was starting to get the feeling that Komaeda was intentionally more quiet than usual.

He didn’t really have any way to know that was the case, but for a moment now he had just felt like the other was holding back somehow. He didn’t know if it was somehow about him, if he had done something or if Komaeda simply had something in his mind. Other thing Hinata had noticed was that they walked a bit slower than usual, so maybe the other really was in thought.

He began to look around once again as they walked to another part of the park, where everything around them was lit with blue lights. He glanced at Komaeda; he could see the blue light reflect slightly on his white hair, but he didn’t really have a chance to look at it any closer when Komaeda turned to look back at him, tilting his head as soon as their eyes met.

“Hinata-kun? Is something wrong?” he asked with a small smile, and Hinata shook his head.

“Ah, no, I was just looking around and noticed your hair looks a bit blue in the light,” he said, lifting his hand to his mouth as he looked away. “I guess white hair would easily reflect the color of the lights around us...” Komaeda seemed puzzled by his words, and Hinata frowned a bit. It wasn’t that weird to say, was it?

“I guess,” Komaeda eventually said. “I haven’t really thought about that much.” His words sounded a bit flat, and Hinata felt a bit defeated. There went the possible conversation.

“I see…,” he said, not bothering to hide the slight tint of disappointment in his voice. Perhaps he really should have left Komaeda in his thoughts. Well, it wasn’t he who had initiated the conversation to begin with so maybe that was the wrong thing to think but, he still felt defeated.

He didn’t really look at Komaeda, and was just glancing around the lights again after that but almost soon after Komaeda revived the conversation, his voice lighter now than before.

“Well, does the blue color suit me?” he asked, a joking tone to his voice. “Should I think about coloring it?” Hinata looked at him to see a soft smile on Komaeda’s face. He couldn’t help but smile in return.

“Hmm,” he mused as he looked a bit closer now. In the light, Komaeda’s hair was tinted in light blue, and on closer inspection even Komaeda’s pale skin looked a bit blue in the light. He shook his head. “I have to admit, it makes it really stand out how pale you are so I wouldn’t say you should.” He grinned a bit after his words, and Komaeda laughed.

After that, as they continued to walk along the street, now conversing a bit, they stopped at every colored lights to consider how each color looked reflected on Komaeda’s hair. Hinata could notice Komaeda felt a bit… off every time they did, like he was feeling awkward despite the conversation flowing naturally and his calm demeanor. His cheeks were red too… maybe it was embarrassing for him to be stared at, Hinata presumed and made a mental note to not stare so much.

Eventually the lights turned to purely bright, white lights and Hinata glanced at Komaeda. The other, upon noticing this, stopped and gave him an asking look.

“Hmm? These are normal white lights, aren’t they?” Komaeda asked, and Hinata nodded. Komaeda’s hair wasn’t really colored anyhow in this light, other than slightly shining from the light, although the uneven texture of his hair making it seem more like little sparkles of light around his hair. Komaeda had a small confused smile on his face, like he was trying his best to hide his puzzlement to make Hinata feel at ease.

The other did this a lot, didn’t he? Smiled whenever Hinata had expressed any kind of feelings of dissatisfaction or anxiety. Through their journey, he had done his best for Hinata and Hinata really wished he could return that somehow. He suddenly realised he was feeling a bit weird, perhaps the mood around him having affected him a little bit.

There had happened so much in their journey, but Komaeda had been there the whole time for him. There wasn’t really much he could do in return, and while that made him feel a bit guilty, he just brushed off those feelings for now. If he’d start to worry about being selfish again, then he would most likely die with the regret of never having said out loud his feelings of gratitude and… affection.

He lifted his hand to Komaeda’s hair as he grinned.

“I think the white color suits you the best, after all,” he said and Komaeda seemed surprised, either from having his hair touched or from Hinata’s words. Hinata couldn’t really tell as usual; he still wasn’t good at reading or understanding Komaeda. But… he gulped a bit before speaking. “Hey, Komaeda. I just wanted to tell you that…,”

But as he spoke, all of the lights around them suddenly went out, all at the same time. He jumped a bit in surprise, pulling his hand back as he began to look around. As soon as he did though he noticed that most of the people around him didn’t seem the least bit startled by this. And just a few seconds later, he could hear a voice over the speakers, thanking everyone for coming to look at the display. Soon after the voice was done speaking, the lights turned on all at once again.

“Were you surprised?” Komaeda asked, chuckling a bit. “They turn the lights off three times every night, to thank the people. It’s quite an astonishing sight to see the lights disappear and reappear all at once. In the blink of an eye, darkness everywhere and another blink and it’s all light and colorful again...”

“A-ah, yeah. I was a bit surprised but it did look pretty amazing,” he sputtered out, not daring to confess he hadn’t really paid attention at all to the sight. It had mostly snapped him out of his thoughts and he was starting to feel embarrassed.

“Oh, you were about to say something?” Komaeda asked, having seemingly remembered it suddenly. Hinata just shook his head quickly.

“No, forget it. I don’t really remember what I was about to say,” he said, trying to keep his voice steady to not reveal his embarrassment. “Should we get something warm to drink? The cold is starting to get to me.”


 

Hinata glanced around the park while sitting on the bench, waiting for Komaeda to return from one of the stalls. It was a bit chilly to sit still on the cold bench, so he began to shake his legs a little bit to feel warmer. There were quite a few couples around, and Hinata distinctly remembered Komaeda mentioning it was a popular event for couples alongside with families… It was getting fairly late, so most of the people left were couples or a few groups of friends, since all the families with kids had gone home already.

He pressed his lips together and dropped his eyes to his extended feet. Did the two of them look more like friends or a couple to the others…? They were both male, so most would probably think the former, but that probably would depend on the person looking at them anyways.

So there might be some who thought they were a couple. The thought made the tips of his fingers tingle a little bit and he rubbed his cheeks a little bit. Perhaps the amount of couples had been affecting his mood, too. He couldn’t believe he had been about to… he had already decided on it earlier, but he felt like he should plan for it somehow. Think about it, the exact words and prepare for any kind of response.

And not impulsively say it in the middle of the street.

“Hinata-kun.” Komaeda’s voice broke his line of thought and he looked up, to see Komaeda leaning a bit over him. In his hands he had two cups, steam rising from the hot drink against the cold air. Komaeda offered the other to Hinata and he carefully took it with both of his hands.

“Thank you,” he said as Komaeda sat next to him. Just holding the paper cup was making him warmer, the heat radiating through his gloves. He knew they were heading more north constantly so it’d be natural it would be colder but for some reason it felt like it was a bit unnaturally cold. Like the temperature was constantly just a bit lower than it was supposed to be.

Or maybe it was just because it had been a while since he had been outside this much in the winter. It wasn’t like his memories were exactly the most reliable either, so he barely had anything to compare to…

He took a sip of his drink, feeling it burn his tongue a bit. A bit too hot to drink, but it sent a wave of warmth through his body that felt relieving. They should probably head back to the hotel soon. He glanced at Komaeda, who was leaning against the back of the bench, looking at the lights around them. Komaeda had seemed a bit low the whole day, and now he realized it might be also that the other was falling sick.

He had gotten so badly sick in Tokyo too… They really should probably head back after this. They had spent quite some time walking around today, so maybe it really was about time to return to the hotel and rest.

After they had finished these drinks.

“Did you have fun today?” Komaeda asked suddenly, and Hinata turned to look at him in surprise.

“Y-yeah, I did,” Hinata answered. Or at least, he presumed he had had fun. Right now he was just a little bit too occupied with what he had almost done to really remember. But perhaps he had enjoyed being swept along with the atmosphere, since despite logic saying he should be feeling regretful, he instead felt warm and relaxed.

It was a nice change from the last night, when he had woken up from what he presumed had been some sort of nightmare, albeit he didn’t really remember what had happened in it. That had been troubling him on the way to Sendai, but the pure curiosity of exploring the hotel room and now the light display had made him forgot all about it momentarily.

Just thinking about those was starting to make him feel a bit uneasy, so he forcefully wiped those thoughts away to the back of his mind again. He shouldn’t think too much, if he wanted to have even a chance to enjoy his time.

“I really did have fun,” he repeated his answer again, and took a sip of his drink. It had cooled down to not burn his tongue this time, while still being warm. He would just have to push back any feelings of fear and remember what he wanted to do.

“Then that’s good,” Komaeda said softly. He seemed happy with Hinata’s answer. Hinata took another sip of his drink and began to look around again. There was still a lot of couples around, and the constant chattering was still there. But for some reason, it all felt separate from them, like he was watching and listening to the people around them from inside a bubble.

He gulped down the rest of his drink, and crushed the paper cup as he stood up.

“Should we head back now?” he asked from Komaeda, who gave him a bit puzzled look but nodded. After disposing the cups in the trash, they began to head towards the hotel. A silence hung between them, and without a word Hinata took a hold of Komaeda’s hand. He could feel the other flinch a bit when their fingers first touched, but he didn’t resist at all so Hinata decided to ignore it.

If he continued to worry about each and every thing and let that stop him from settling his thoughts and feelings, he couldn’t face the end of the world in peace.

Chapter Text

When they got back to the hotel after their walk, Komaeda sat down on his bed and took a deep breath. He felt exhausted - a lot more so than usually after walking. And it was more specific, like his chest felt tight and he was slightly out of breath - had been for a while now. It hadn’t really helped that he had tried his best to conceal it from Hinata.

Hinata was currently standing in front of the window, looking outside pensively. Komaeda looked at him as he was trying to catch his breath - not that he was making any progress. No matter how much he focused on taking deep breaths, the feeling didn’t pass away. It almost felt like there was something obstructing his breath.

It was probably somehow related to the medicine. Luckily, this was about the only thing he had noticed being weird, so if nothing else came up he would most likely be able to keep this hidden from Hinata.

Komaeda sighed and lied down on his bed. They should probably go to the hotel’s restaurant to eat soon, but it wouldn’t probably hurt if he rested a little bit first. He turned to lie on his side towards the window, absent-mindedly looking at Hinata who was sitting at the couch by the window, still looking outside. Hinata had been a bit weird today, but Komaeda wasn’t entirely sure if it was just that he was reading into things too much. Since he had been paying more attention to it, due to wanting to make sure Hinata hadn’t figured out he was feeling unwell.

But it didn’t seem to be anything negative - at least Hinata had said he had fun, and seemed calm. He had been oddly attentive to Komaeda, maybe. At least it had felt like the other had been paying attention to his actions today. But that also could be just Komaeda reading into it too much.

Although, the whole issue with the light reflecting from Komaeda’s hair… He really didn’t know if it was actually that interesting, so it was a bit odd that Hinata had paid attention to such a thing.

Or maybe he wasn’t just used to it. He turned to lie on his back, staring at the ceiling. The light was pretty bright so after blinking a couple times, he just decided to close his eyes.

Komaeda really wished he understood better what ‘normal’ was. That way he would probably be a lot better company and would know what to do. And he wouldn’t have to ponder over whether Hinata’s actions were normal or not. But his experience of having friends was not much, if even anything at all. It was hard for him to say where the line between being friends and acquaintances went.

Not that he knew even if he and Hinata had crossed that line. He would only presume that Hinata saw him more as a necessity than a companion, someone he saw useful to travel with and if circumstances were different, he wouldn’t have spent nearly this much time with someone like Komaeda.

Someone like him, huh… Hinata didn’t really like him saying that, which Komaeda still struggled to understand why. But maybe it was part of the normalcy he was unfamiliar with.

But it was true, Hinata was someone amazing in comparison to what he was. He had nothing else to his name than his luck.

And Hinata, Hinata was…


 

Komaeda woke up from sleep he had not realized he had slipped into when Hinata called his name. He opened his eyes slowly, to see the other sitting on the edge of his bed.

“Ah, did I fall asleep?” he asked as he sat up. “I hope I didn’t sleep long?”

“It’s been two hours, I think. I’m not sure when exactly you fell asleep though,” Hinata said. “You seemed really tired so I decided to let you sleep. But I just ordered room service so I thought to ask if you wanted to eat as well.”

“Ah, sure,” Komaeda said, feeling sleep still tugging at him. He was a bit surprised that Hinata had ordered room service. It had usually been Komaeda who had done all that sort of things… Hinata got up from the side of his bed, walking to the table in the room and taking a seat. “Sorry for sleeping so long.”

“Hmm? I don’t think that’s something you need to apologize about?“ Hinata questioned and Komaeda didn’t know what to answer to that. “Also I was thinking that we could go buy new books tomorrow. Or some other day too, I still have a few books left to read,” Hinata said as Komaeda got up from his bed and walked to the table as well.

“Oh, yes of course,” Komaeda said as he sat down. “You ended up reading them a lot faster than me.”

“Well, I have a lot of time to read in the car after all.” Hinata shrugged. “And there were couple I gave up on and decided not to finish reading…” His voice trailed off as suddenly the notification sound of a message rang. Hinata took out the phone and after reading the message, began to type an answer. Komaeda just waited quietly; it was probably another message from Asahina.

“How are they doing?” he asked when Hinata eventually set the phone down.

“Pretty well, I guess. They’re currently in Fukui and…,” Hinata began to explain about what they had been talking. Komaeda listened, slightly disinterested even though he had been the one who asked. Although, it seemed like Hinata wasn’t that enthusiastic about it either, so it was more of just a conversation to fill the silence. But at least Komaeda found it slightly relaxing; just talking about something trivial with Hinata.

In the middle of their conversation, the room service arrived. Hinata went to open the door and the young woman brought the trolley in, with plenty of food on top of it. After moving all the food to the table, she bowed to them and left the room.

Hinata sat down again after she left, but he didn’t resume the conversation so Komaeda presumed he wanted to focus on eating. To give the other the peace, he decided to do the same.

Despite the fact that Hinata had talked, Komaeda still felt like Hinata was a little bit distant right now and he wasn’t exactly sure why. It might be just that he was in thought, or maybe he was just tired…

“Are you feeling alright?” Hinata suddenly asked, and Komaeda lifted his eyes from the food. Or Hinata had noticed there was something wrong with him. Komaeda smiled as well as he could and tilted his head slightly.

“Yes, of course! I just didn’t sleep too well last night, so I got a bit sleepy,” he explained. Hinata stared at him for a few seconds, like he was measuring him. Komaeda kept smiling and concentrated on keeping his breathing completely normal. It wasn’t really that quicker than usual that one would notice it, but he wanted to make sure now that Hinata was clearly studying him.

“Well, sleep well then tonight. Don’t fall sick again,” Hinata eventually said, and Komaeda felt like letting out a sigh of relief. But instead he just nodded.

“Yes, I’ll take better care so I won’t be an inconvenience like that!” he said brightly, and Hinata squinted his eyes at him before sighing and resuming eating his food. Komaeda felt a bit awkward - he was happy that he had managed to pass it through but he could still understand he had said something wrong.

He continued to eat as well, although it was a bit difficult. It felt like there was something stuck in his throat, so it made eating uncomfortable. But he knew it must be connected to the withdrawal symptoms so he just did his best to ignore it.

“It’s not really about being an inconvenience that I don’t want you to be sick, you know,” Hinata said, sounding a bit frustrated. Komaeda looked at him, expecting him to continue. “I just want you to take better care of yourself because… because… you know.” It sounded like Hinata had gotten the words stuck in his throat in the between there, and Komaeda couldn’t bring himself to say that no, he didn’t really know.

Because he might spread the sickness to Hinata? Because they couldn’t travel around the town as easily? It brought up bad memories from the time Komaeda had been sick in Tokyo? Komaeda couldn’t figure it out. All those reasons still felt like they were mostly about being an inconvenience or bother…

Hinata was looking at him now, like he was expecting some sort of an answer. But Komaeda didn’t really know what he should say, when he didn’t know what Hinata was trying to say.

“I’ll, I’ll be alright,” he eventually said, smiling once again. He just hoped the withdrawal symptoms wouldn’t get worse and make this statement a lie. And just like as a sign, he suddenly realized his head was starting to ache too. Maybe it was just that he should sleep and the headache would pass by, but he couldn’t help but get a bad feeling that it was there to stay.

“You better,” Hinata answered shortly. The conversation dropped there, and Komaeda returned to his food while rubbing his temple with his other hand discreetly. He really hoped his bad feeling wouldn’t turn out to be true.

Chapter Text

Hinata was lying on his side in his bed, looking at Komaeda’s sleeping form in the darkness of the room. Komaeda had insisted he was just tired, but Hinata had a feeling it wasn’t the case, doubt tugging at his every thought. It wasn’t that he wanted to be distrustful of Komaeda, and really he was starting to trust the other again but… it still didn’t erase this suspicion from his mind. Maybe it was lack of trust, or maybe he had grown to know the other better to notice signs, but he was pretty sure the other was falling more or less sick.

As to why he would lie about it… either Komaeda really hadn’t noticed he was falling sick, or he was trying not to be a bother. Hinata clenched his teeth tightly: he was starting to hate that word.

But he was sure there was something wrong with Komaeda. Even now, he only had to listen to hear Komaeda’s breathing was more or less uneven despite being asleep. It didn’t seem to bother his sleep though so maybe it wasn’t as bad as Hinata feared. He might be just overreacting to all of this.

He sighed and turned to his other side, facing the huge windows. The city outside was still bright and for some reason, that eased his mind. The world was still moving outside.

There was just half a month left until the new year. That wasn’t much time at all, and it was starting to feel like every minute spent was wasted time. There could be something he would be able to do to prevent the world ending. Something. But he couldn’t figure out anything, not as long as he couldn’t even think about her without feeling the sick twist on his stomach, his whole body tensing up and mouth growing dry.

So the only thing he thought he could do was to at least bring everything in his life to an end he would be alright with leaving things at, do at least the things he was able to do anymore.

Other than that, he was powerless and useless. Just like he had been before meeting her as well. But he… he preferred himself that way, in comparison to what he had been with her.

Anything was better than that.


 

“Kamukura, come...” Her voice called for him, sickly sweet, dripping with the poison of her intentions. He looked at his hand briefly. He was… Kamukura, yes. She was calling for him, from the end of the road ahead, after he had stopped… because of why? He could not remember anymore, but as he took his steps towards her, he could feel his feet dragging him down like they were trying to stop him from moving.

But he continued walking down the road. It was a familiar road, that he was sure of. She smiled at him, a wide smile like she was proud of him. And for some reason he did not know, chills ran down his spine. But he didn’t show it on his face, he just continued walking to her and soon, they continued walking down the road together.

At the end of the road, there was a house. He knew that house as well. He tried to push that knowledge off, feeling it grabbing at his thoughts and nerves. That knowledge, the familiarity of the house and the light clapping of her high heels next to him was making him nervous. But he knew that if he could just cut off the connection to the house, if he just completely forgot what it was, this feeling would pass.

He closed his eyes. He didn’t know that house, he had never known it. He just had to keep walking towards it. Her intentions did not matter to him, did not shake his resolve.

They stood in front of the house soon. She started giggling to herself, and he looked at the house. It was familiar. The green curtains on the window of the room on the second floor were familiar.

He clenched his hands in fists. But he didn’t remember the room those green curtains hid, he really didn’t. There were flashes of memories, but none of them tied together, none of them were clear enough for him to have a picture of what the house looked like inside. But those were irrelevant thoughts, he had to understand that and cut the emotional tie that was tugging at him.

“What do you want of me?” he asked, without looking at her. She stopped giggling, and began to take something out of her pocket. And as she did, for some reason he could feel his body growing colder and colder with every inch her hand moved, with every sound of rustling.

She took out whatever it was she was reaching for, offering it to him. And he didn’t want to turn and look, his whole body was resisting turning towards her. But he had to move, and slowly he forced his eyes to her hand, to look what there was.

“You’ll do this for me, right?” The poison dripped from her lips as he looked at the item in her hand. It was a… a small box, it was a… His body was growing ever colder but the air around him was growing hot, like her presence was enveloping him into the burning flames… He opened his mouth to respond, but lips were dry, so dry, and stuck together like glued. It felt like just moving would burn him, but in that moment he suddenly felt something cool against his cold forehead, and he blinked and opened his eyes to see Komaeda looking at him with a worried look.

Hinata blinked again, to make sure he saw correctly. There was no box here, there was no sound of her laughter. There was just a deafening silence around him, Komaeda’s messy hair and worried eyes, and a cool hand against his forehead. He wasn’t standing in front of that house, he was sitting up in his bed in the hotel room.

“Hinata-kun?” Komaeda asked when Hinata kept staring at his eyes, his voice sounding hesitant and nervous. “Are you alright? Your forehead isn’t hot but...” Komaeda stopped his sentence midway as the hot tears began to roll down from Hinata’s eyes and he began to gasp for air. It felt like he hadn’t breathed in forever, and he clutched at Komaeda’s hand as he lowered his head and let the tears fall down to his blanket.

The sobs escaped his lips soon after, mixed in with his frantic attempts to take deep breaths and making him slowly hyperventilate more and more. His grip on Komaeda’s hand was constantly growing stronger, but he barely noticed that and the other didn’t say anything about it. His cheeks felt like they were burning from the tears trickling down and it was making his whole body tremble in fear.

In his panic, he didn’t even notice that Komaeda had slowly moved to sit beside him, before he felt the other’s arm around his shoulders, gently rubbing at his upper arm. Komaeda was saying something, but Hinata could barely make out the words from his own loud sobbing and the ringing in his ears that he began to grow aware of now.

In a desperate attempt to understand what the other was saying, he lifted his head to look at Komaeda, to see he had closed his eyes and was breathing calmly in, and out. Hinata instinctively began to mimic the pace of his breathing, the sobs and gasps disturbing his pace still but he kept trying.

He briefly noticed that Komaeda was moving his hand on his upper arm in the same pace as he was breathing, and using the thumb of his hand that Hinata was clutching to do circles on the back of Hinata’s hand as well. Slowly the calmness began to push away all the heat and fear surrounding him, washing over him like a calming stream of water.

And in the same motion, Hinata’s thoughts and breathing began to stabilize as well, his mind slowly starting to take in his surroundings even more. Some of Komaeda’s hair was on his shoulder, tickling him through his clothes, and his blanket was wet from sweat. There was something squeezing his stomach, and suddenly his thoughts were taken over by physical nausea and he released Komaeda’s hand to cover his mouth with his hands.

“Komaeda, I...” he sputtered out, with the tears still dripping down from his eyes. He could feel the snot on his upper lip now that he had his hands over it. It didn’t take longer than few seconds for Komaeda to realize, and while it was clear he was rushing, he still managed to help Hinata to the bathroom in the same calm manner that he had done everything until now. Hinata stumbled a bit on the way, but Komaeda kept his hand firmly around him and held him up until they reached the toilet seat where Hinata collapsed and threw up.

With the tears burning his cheeks and the vomit burning his throat, it almost felt like he was slowly dying. But Komaeda kept rubbing his back, up and down in a patient manner and he was muttering something. Hinata couldn’t make out the words, but Komaeda’s voice was soft and gentle compared to the silence and the ugly sounds escaping from his mouth.

When he was finally done, Komaeda reached over with a wet towel in his hand that he had taken from somewhere, wiping his face with it.

“Wait, I’ll get a glass of water for you,” he said, finally in a voice Hinata could hear, but despite that Hinata stopped him and slowly dragged himself into Komaeda’s arms and pushing the other to the ground. Komaeda didn’t resist, and sat down, hesitantly wrapping his arms around him as Hinata buried his face into Komaeda’s chest, the exhaustion making him almost slump down into the safety surrounding him.


 

Hinata had no idea how long they had remained like that on the bathroom floor, but eventually when he regained his strength, and the chaos in his mind had finally drifted out giving way for his rational thoughts to return, he took a deep breath. He felt comfortable and safe right here, but now that he was calmed down he began to realize that Komaeda’s other arm was twitching a little bit, like it had lost its feeling.

He slowly got up and looked up at Komaeda. Now that he could look at him closely, their eyes locked to each other, Hinata could see the tiredness in Komaeda’s face along with the same worry as before. The other seemed utterly exhausted, and Hinata couldn’t blame him.

“Are you alright, Hinata-kun?” he still asked, and raised his other hand next to Hinata’s head like he was about to touch his forehead again, but stopped. “Would you like some water now?”

Hinata just looked at Komaeda in bewilderment of his devotion to helping him. His cheeks were still hot from the tears and also from embarrassment now that Hinata was starting to assess the situation. But despite that shame he still reached for Komaeda’s raised, cool hand and pressed it against his cheek.

“I’m alright,” he mumbled, with his eyes closed. Komaeda’s hand felt good against his heated cheeks. He remained that way for a few seconds before opening up his eyes again. “I can take some water myself,” he said as he let go of Komaeda’s hand and slowly backed away to stand up and give way for Komaeda to move as well.

Komaeda followed his lead soon after, getting up from the floor while Hinata turned on the tap to drink straight out of it. It felt like his dry throat was rejoicing as he drank the water. After drinking enough, he began to splash the cold water on his face to both wash it and to cool down the heat prickling his cheeks.

When he was done, he looked up and instantly Komaeda offered a towel for him. Hinata began to wipe his face and couldn’t help but notice that Komaeda seemed to feel a bit… lost? He kept glancing down, seemingly still worried but for some reason he didn’t say anything or do anything. Hinata wasn’t sure what was up with that, but it felt like the other was holding in his worry.

“Thank you, Komaeda,” he said softly as he put the towel down on the counter. “I’m… I’m sorry about that,” he said, referring to… everything.

“Ah, it’s okay! I’m glad if I managed to be of use and help you!” Komaeda said, in his usual tone. His voice lowered however as he continued. “Uh, I’m not sure how much you remember but I woke up to you mumbling something. It seemed like you were deep in sleep, but you were sitting up so I got worried. I think you woke up when I went to test your forehead to figure out if you were feverish, I’m not sure if I should have done that.”

Hinata shook his head.

“No, I’m glad you woke me up.” He made a point to push the certainty in his voice. The dream had almost completely washed away from his mind in the panic, but he could still tell that he much rather woke up from it than let it continue on. He raised his hand to his forehead himself, but it didn’t feel any warmer than usual. “I think it was just a nightmare.”

“Yeah, your forehead didn’t really feel warm back then either.” Komaeda seemed to be a bit more at ease now that they were talking. Hinata briefly wondered if he had said anything clear when Komaeda had heard him mumbling, anything related to his dream… He opened his mouth to ask about it, but before he managed to say anything he decided against it.

It, it really didn’t matter to him right now. He didn’t want to make it seem like he was questioning Komaeda either. He should just trust that Komaeda would have told him.

He sighed as he let his body relax, chills running down his body as he did. His head was aching now that he had calmed down.

“Should we, should we go back to sleep?” he suggested. There was probably a lot they could talk about considering this panic attack, but it all felt irrelevant when he compared it to his desire to rest right now.

“Sure,” Komaeda said, before he seemed to realize something. “Ah, but your bed is… pretty much drenched in sweat. I don’t think you should sleep on it. I can...” Komaeda stopped mid sentence, having clearly realized the same thing as Hinata.

“You’re not going to say you will sleep on it?” Hinata said. Based on the fact that Komaeda had seemed already sick earlier, he wasn’t going to let him sleep in that bed either. Not to mention that he didn’t want the other to sleep in the bed covered with his sweat. They could change the bedsheets but… “It’s okay, the beds are big enough that we can fit two into one. Let’s just share yours,” he said tiredly. Right now, he didn’t really care about anything else than getting back to sleep soon.

Komaeda seemed like he was about to protest, but when Hinata gave him an exhausted look, he seemed to decide against it and nodded in agreement.

Chapter Text

The room was dark, and the only sounds Komaeda heard was his own shaky breathing and faintly under it, Hinata’s calm breathing in comparison. Hinata was clutching on Komaeda’s hands as he slept. Komaeda was glad that the other had managed to fall asleep after that panic attack, whatever had caused it, but like in return for that he himself couldn’t get to sleep anymore. He wasn’t sure how long he had laid there looking at Hinata, but his eyes were starting to hurt from tiredness.

But it was hard to fall asleep with how difficult it was to breathe. Especially since he was trying to keep it calm to not bother Hinata, but it seemed to make it just worse and more uncomfortable.

And… he couldn’t deny the nausea he was feeling himself. These withdrawal effects had already made him feel bad, and watching Hinata throw up hadn’t really made that any better. He kind of wanted to get a glass of water himself but he didn’t want to let go of Hinata’s hands. So instead he closed his eyes and sighed.

He was worried about Hinata, too. He hadn’t noticed anything wrong with him during the day, but despite that the panic attack had happened. It might have been just a bad dream, but still it might have been caused by something that had happened during the day, without him noticing at all that Hinata hadn’t been feeling good.

These symptoms were really hindering him. He had been so glad to have medicine that worked despite the side effects… If he had a chance, he would have to look into getting more of the medicine. And if just possible, without having Hinata find out. He really would rather not have him know of any of this. In fact, barely anyone knew about it other than his doctor and Togami who had introduced him to that doctor in the first place.

And… he had a feeling Hinata would be upset if he found out. And as long as he wasn’t sure why he had that feeling or why Hinata would be upset, he would rather keep it in.

Despite the haunting feeling that he was making some kind of mistake.


 

When Komaeda woke up, the first thing he could hear was an unfamiliar voice, talking about some kind of treasure and he opened his eyes to see Hinata sitting next to him on the bed, still huddled under the blanket. He sat up slowly and looked around to see the television turned on, playing some kind of children’s animation.

“Oh, good morning,” Hinata said when he noticed Komaeda moving. His voice sounded a bit strained for some reason, and it woke Komaeda up. “There wasn’t really anything else playing than news and this,” he explained like he had expected to Komaeda ask about it.

“Good morning.” Komaeda probably wouldn’t have asked, but Hinata’s tone of voice made him wonder if there had been something disturbing him in the news, since he had stressed on that word quite a bit. Or perhaps the news made him uncomfortable to begin with. “Did you sleep well? Feeling better?”

“Yeah. I’m okay,” Hinata said and gave him a faint smile. “Should we get breakfast? It’s almost noon though.”

“However you want. We can go out to get lunch too,” Komaeda offered as he looked at the television. His head was already aching to begin the day with, and he rubbed his temple absentmindedly. Hinata gave him a long “hmm” in response, staring at the television with just as much interest as Komaeda.

“Let’s just get something light to begin with, I don’t feel much like eating right now,” Hinata eventually decided. Komaeda nodded and got up from the bed to order the room service. He could feel Hinata’s eyes on his back as he did, and it was making him a bit nervous. He tried to keep his focus on the order and just breathing calmly. In and out, in a steady rhythm.

“I’ll go brush my teeth,” he said after he finished his call to the room service, and went into the bathroom after getting a nod of response from Hinata. As soon as he closed the door, he let out a sigh. The feeling of something being stuck in his throat was even stronger now, like something was obstructing his breath from passing. Even taking deep breaths didn’t seem to help at all, the air not passing down to his lungs properly.

He turned the tap on to wash his face, hoping the cool water would make him feel better. But as he feared, it did nothing to ease his headache. Only thing it did was make him feel more awake, and even more aware of the fact that if he didn’t come up with something, he soon wouldn’t be able to keep this hidden.

He stared at his face in the mirror for a moment after washing his face. He would have to figure out how to seem like he usually did. He began to brush his teeth, and after he was done with that he walked back into the room, where Hinata was staring at the television with a bit more intrigued look on his face.

“Komaeda, could we go to the zoo?” he asked as soon as he saw Komaeda. “The advertisement said they have even elephants there.” Komaeda blinked a couple times.

“Of course.” He wasn’t really going to say no, and when Hinata had specifically asked to go somewhere and seemed excited about it… “Can I check on the phone how they’re open today?”

“They said it in the advertisement, it’s open until four but the tickets had to be bought at least an hour earlier I think,” Hinata said, getting up from the bed finally and stretching his arms. Komaeda smiled at him, happy to see the other be a bit more energetic. He just hoped his luck wouldn’t interfere with this visit.


 

“Here’s your tickets, I hope you enjoy yourselves!” Komaeda took the tickets from the young lady, thanking her. Hinata was waiting right next to him, seeming eager to get in.

“Let’s go,” he said and Hinata began to excitedly walk into the zoo. Komaeda followed after him after taking one of the maps they had on a stand. He opened it as he walked next to Hinata. “The elephants should be right here, in the same area as the giraffes, zebras and such.” In fact, it was the first place they would see if they just kept walking. Hinata looked at the map and nodded.

“I wonder if they’ll be outside during winter though,” Hinata mused. “They might not be, or many other animals either. Not probably the ideal time of the year to visit, huh?” He chuckled a bit and Komaeda joined him. Hinata seemed pretty calm with that possibility, so Komaeda felt a bit more relaxed. Perhaps his luck interfering wouldn’t be as bad as he feared it would be.

In the car on the way here, Hinata had mentioned that the last time he had visited a zoo had been when he was a small kid, so he didn’t really remember much. Komaeda himself had visited a zoo once couple years ago, and then he had gotten lucky enough to see all kinds of interesting things, like the elephants bathing themselves and the tigers play-fighting.

“Oh, look!” Hinata said when they approached the pen, pointing at the one elephant they could see. It was walking around leisurely, seeming to not really care about all the snow. Hinata’s walking speed quickened, and Komaeda thought at first to try and keep along with him, but he was getting worried about how well he would be able to catch his breath again if he got it too elevated. So instead he followed calmly, smiling as he watched Hinata walk to the fence and lean against it to look at the elephant.

“It’s a lot bigger than I thought,” Hinata said when Komaeda reached the fence as well. “Like, of course I knew it was but… It’s pretty hard to really imagine without actually seeing, huh.” Komaeda nodded, looking at the elephant. It was walking a bit further away from them, seeming not to care about them and the few families around that were looking at it as well.

One kid was excitedly explaining about it to her parents close to them, about what her teacher had said about how well elephants handle cold. Komaeda couldn’t help but notice that Hinata was listening to her explanation too. Komaeda smiled to himself, leaning against the fence and looking around himself. There really wasn’t as much people as he had thought, but then again it was in the middle of the week.

He felt a bit relieved at that knowledge. The more people there were, the more possibilities there were for his luck to turn bad, after all. And he didn’t really like huge crowds of people in the first place, either. Hinata seemed nervous with them too, so this was the ideal… It was a bit too ideal, making Komaeda worried that something might happen to break down that.

He could feel the headache still slowly making him feel worse every passing minute. He could just hope that the withdrawal symptoms would keep still as well.

Chapter Text

“Ooh, there’s a lot more bunnies than I thought there would be,” Hinata said, leaning over the small fence to look at them closely. There was one kid who had a bunny in a small plastic basin on her lap, and her dad talking to her, and close to them a zoo worker, an older woman. He glanced at Komaeda, who just now walked to the pen to look at them.

“Ah, yeah,” Komaeda agreed. Hinata looked at him for a few seconds; Komaeda had seemed a bit distracted the whole day, but at least he hadn’t disagreed on the visit here. Hinata had sort of waited for Komaeda to refuse because of his luck, but that hadn’t happened. Perhaps it had to do with Komaeda seeming like he was about to fall sick again. It wasn’t that long since the last time, and Hinata was a bit worried that it might get as bad again.

He would just have to keep an eye out for his situation. Hinata turned to look back at the bunnies, watching as they bounced around in the pen. They were a lot smaller than he remembered from the last time he saw one when he was… how long ago was that, even? It must have been when he was a kid, since the bunnies had seemed that much bigger back then.

“Would you like to hold them in your lap as well?” a voice called to them suddenly, and Hinata raised his eyes to see the zoo worker standing close to them, a gentle smile on her face. “They’re all used to being pet by people, so you don’t have to worry about anything.”

“Really? We aren’t kids though,” he said and the lady laughed.

“It’s okay, there’s not that much children around this time of the week, you’re not taking anyone’s place. And we don’t have an age restriction to begin with, although children of course do get the privilege usually,” she explained as she began to pick up one of the bunnies to put it into a basin. Hinata glanced at Komaeda, who gave him an agreeing smile.

They went to the benches, Hinata sitting down as the lady brought the bunny to him. It was a small, grey bunny with a black spot around the other eye, and it was looking around until the plastic basin was settled into Hinata’s lap. Hesitantly he began to pet it, and it began to sniff his hand curiously. Eventually it pushed against Hinata’s hand, and he began to pet it a bit more confidently, smiling brightly. He glanced at Komaeda, who was standing next to him with a soft smile on his face as well.

“Would you like to hold one too, sir?” Komaeda seemed a bit surprised by the old lady’s question.

“Ah, uh, I’m…,” he began to stutter, but the lady didn’t listen until the end and went to pick up another bunny.

“They really like getting attention,” she started to explain cheerily as she walked back to the bunch of bunnies, some of them gathering around her instantly. Komaeda gave a look to Hinata that seemed to be asking for him to say something, but Hinata just shrugged. “I guess it’s because they were born here and are used to it, but they really like human contact. There’s a few who tend to be really selective which people they like though, like this one…” She picked up one of the bunnies a bit further away from the others, a white one that seemed a bit smaller than the others.

Komaeda looked still a bit lost, like he was wondering if he should be refusing or if he should just sit down. Hinata shifted on the bench a bit to the side to give him space to sit down.

“Would you like to test your luck, whether she likes you or not?” At her question, Komaeda seemed to tense a little and the look in his eyes got a bit weird. Hinata pressed his lips together; he was starting to recognize that look, that weird obsessive glint in his eyes.

“O-oh, I guess I could,” Komaeda sputtered out, sitting next to Hinata. Hinata couldn’t help but notice that Komaeda left some space between them, seeming almost deliberate. The lady smiled again as she began to put the bunny in the basin to give over to Komaeda. Hinata kept glancing at Komaeda, but decided he’d best focus on petting the one in his lap. It seemed to be dozing off, or at least it had it’s eyes closed while Hinata kept gently petting it.

“Here she is.” The lady came over to them and gave the plastic basin to him, helping him set it down in his lap properly. Now that Hinata saw it even closer, he was certain it was smaller than the other rabbits. It was standing slightly on its hind legs, sniffing the air around. Komaeda raised his hand hesitantly, and Hinata could see his hand shaking a bit as he brought it to the little bunny to sniff.

The bunny sniffed his hand immediately, seeming a bit vary. It took a little while, and Hinata kept watching as Komaeda seemed to tense up and then try to relax only to tense up again soon after. He really seemed nervous…

Eventually the bunny began to push his hand, like it was asking for more attention. And then Hinata saw Komaeda’s face soften up and a sparkle light up in his eyes, as he began to pet the bunny gently. He seemed to genuinely happy and excited, and Hinata couldn’t help the wide smile spreading to his own face.

Honestly, there was only one word he could find to describe the way Komaeda looked right now, and it was cute.

He was glad that he had suggested coming here.


 

They stopped to eat at one food stall in the zoo, Komaeda going over to the stall to order the food and Hinata wandered to a small table nearby to sit down by it. They had been wandering around for over an hour now, and they were going to leave after eating since there wasn’t much left to see. They had been pretty lucky the whole time, like having had one fox walk right to them to look at them and one of the monkeys had waved at them. They even had gotten to see a polar bear splash in a pool of water.

It had been enjoyable to see all the interesting things today - and certainly a lot more special things than Hinata presumed people usually saw on a trip to zoo - but he had also noticed Komaeda growing more tense and withdrawn the whole day, after the visit in the bunny pen. He really had hoped Komaeda could have a good time but he seemed both tired and also stressed, most likely about what bad luck would come after all this good luck.

Hinata… wasn’t that worried, really, for some reason. He did believe in Komaeda’s luck, more or less but… despite that he felt at ease, like nothing that extraordinarily bad would happen. There was no basis for this feeling, but something just made him feel relaxed, feel like everything would turn out just fine. It felt like there was a reason for why he was feeling that way but… he just couldn’t grasp it. It just kept floating there, in the back of his mind, making him feel confident but also unsettled with how strong the feeling was.

As he was trying to figure out the source of his certainty, Komaeda walked over to him with a tray with two plates of food and cups of soda. The food was nothing special: in fact it was a meal set of burger and fries. Quite different from what they were used to - due to eating in more or less expensive restaurants usually - but there was something special about it that made Hinata feel a bit excited. It really felt like they were on an outing, like students on a class trip.

Komaeda set the tray to the table and sat down. Hinata began to separate his plate to his side of the table.

A moment passed in silence as they both focused on eating. Hinata hadn’t really noticed how hungry he was until now; he had eaten nothing but a bite of a sandwich for breakfast due to still feeling nauseous from last night. He felt chills run down his spine as he even thought about it. He couldn’t really even recall anything about the dream, but he still could feel the same fear creeping in the back of his head as he had felt when he had woken up.

It must have been about her, he figured. No one else made her feel quite as bad.

He shook his head a bit to forget about this. He much wanted to actually eat something finally to fill his empty stomach. He forced himself to think about the expressions Komaeda had had when they were looking at the bunnies - in fact, as soon as he started to think about it he found his thoughts peacefully moving away from the previous thoughts.

Komaeda really must love animals, huh…

“Have you had a good time?” Hinata’s line of thought was caught by Komaeda’s question. The other was keeping a break from eating, giving him an expectant look.

“Yeah,” Hinata answered immediately. “It’s been fun. Really took my thoughts away from… everything else.”

“Then that’s good!” Komaeda seemed cheery at his answer, returning to eating what was left of his burger. Apparently Komaeda had been worried about Hinata after last night...

Honestly, Hinata was more worried about Komaeda right now personally. Komaeda hadn’t eaten much at breakfast either, and even now it seemed like he was already about to finish up even though there was still about half left of his meal. In the meantime, Hinata himself was almost done eating all of his food…

But with how hard Komaeda seemed to be trying to cover it up, it was kind of hard to try and talk about it. Hinata sort of knew it might go into arguing, and he really wanted to avoid doing that as much as possible.

So for now he settled for being quiet about it. He just had to keep waiting for a good timing to bring it up, and in the meantime do his best to look out for his condition. Komaeda had started coughing every once in awhile, not the kind of involuntary cough that one most often had, but the kind like he was purposefully trying to clear out his throat.

Hinata finished his plate of food and began to drink the last bits of the soda left in his cup. Komaeda seemed to take this as a cue to stop trying to force the rest of the food down, and pushed the plate a bit aside.

“Should we go now?” Komaeda asked and Hinata nodded. He glanced around quickly to see if there was a place to return the tray, but it seemed like the workers were going to clean it up. They began to walk back to the parking lot, this time in a lot more calmer pace than before now that Hinata thought about it. He hadn’t really thought about it but he had been walking a lot faster today, so maybe that explained why Komaeda had seemed to fall behind so often…

They reached the gate, and after nodding to the worker at the gate who thanked them for visiting, they walked to the parking lot. Hinata was looking around in the mostly empty parking slot, absentmindedly when Komaeda suddenly stopped.

“What is it?” he asked, surprised, and then he turned to look at the car. There were a few long scratches on at least the passenger’s side, and based on Komaeda’s expression when he walked around the car, that went for the other side as well. They were pretty nasty scratches, but other than that it didn’t seem like there was anything else wrong.

“Oh man, it might have been some kids…,” Hinata muttered, walking to the car and softly touching one scratch. He faintly remembered that someone in his elementary school had talked about having scratched their family car with a key. “Uh, what are we going to do about this?”

“We can just take it to a repair shop, it shouldn’t take long to fix these up. Honestly, if I was home I could fix this myself since this isn’t the first time this has happened but…,” Komaeda sighed as he leaned against the car. “Well, it has been a couple years since the last time, so I didn’t really think about taking the tools with me.”

“Alright, then let’s go now?” Hinata asked. Komaeda seemed a bit upset, but honestly after what Hinata had heard about his luck, this seemed a pretty minor setback in comparison to how well the visit had went.

“Yeah, let’s...” Komaeda muttered.

Hinata just nodded and got into the car, just barely missing the way Komaeda clenched his hands into fists as his expression darkened for a moment, before getting into the car.


 

When they parked into the repair shop’s parking lot, Hinata decided to get out of the car as well with Komaeda. He wasn’t sure if he could stay in the car during the repairs, after all.

They walked inside to the shop side instead of the garage, where Hinata saw about what seemed like a dozen people, working on a few cars. In the small shop to the side where they went in, there was an older man sitting by the counter, reading a newspaper.

“Ah, is there anything I can do for you?” he asked as soon as he saw them, setting down the magazine. Hinata moved a bit to behind Komaeda, who began to talk in an unusually harsh tone.

“My car got scratched, can you fix it up?” Hinata looked at Komaeda a bit surprised: he hadn’t really heard the other quite as… snappy before. He had sounded annoyed and frustrated during their arguments before but this sounded like he was just purely… cold. Not upset about anything emotional, just demanding and… sort of superior. Actually, now that he thought about it, he did have a feeling that Komaeda had been similar to this before...

“Of course…,” the old man answered, seemingly unphased by the tone of voice. “I can set you up a time to fix it. Would tomorrow...”

“I’d rather have it fixed now,” Komaeda said. The man at the counter looked at him now, squinting his eyes, and Hinata was looking at Komaeda too. There was… definitely something wrong.

“I’m sorry, but we are already full for today. I can set you up with the earliest time possible...”

“No, I’d really rather have it now,” Komaeda said harshly, and Hinata suddenly remembered what this reminded him of. The time when he had almost been mugged and Komaeda had pulled out the gun. “How much would I need to pay for you to take care of it immediately? It should not take that much time that you couldn’t fit this in there.” As Hinata listened to Komaeda keep talking in that same way, he couldn’t really think of much else but that he was happy to have thrown that gun away.

“Sir, I’m afraid that I can’t...”

“I’ll pay any sum you ask me to, no matter. Would a million yen be alright?” Komaeda offered and the old man seemed to be utterly confused by what Komaeda was saying. He was glancing at Hinata, like he was seeking some kind of affirmation and Hinata could only shrug. Komaeda did have the money… It was unreasonable sum of money, but honestly the way Komaeda was right now was making Hinata feel uneasy as well, so he wasn’t about to say anything.

“Alright, alright, I understand you’re in a rush…,” the old man eventually said. “I can’t accept that kind of payment, but we will charge the standard extra fee for emergency work, that okay with you?”

“Yes, thank you,” Komaeda said, but without any bit of the usual softness to his demeanor. “The car is outside, here’s the keys.” He dropped the keys on the counter, where the old man picked them up.

He then turned to Hinata.

“What would you like to do in the meantime?” he asked, this time a lot less harsher but… it was a lot more apparent now that he was forcing it. There was a strain to his voice, like he was trying his hardest to be calm. Hinata frowned a bit; honestly, this was just enforcing his feeling that there was something wrong. Komaeda had seemed tense the whole day, and now this little ordeal had made him this upset...

He really must be coming sick, or something akin to that.

“I think I’d rather wait here, inside,” he said, glancing at the few chairs in the room that seemed to be meant for clients. The man at the counter seemed a bit displeased at the idea, but he did point them towards the chairs as he walked outside with the keys. Komaeda nodded, forcing a smile as they walked to the chairs.

Komaeda began to talk about something or another, seemingly rambling about whatever came to mind to keep a conversation, and Hinata decided to do the same for now. Komaeda was clearly trying to make things dissipate, and he would rather do that first as well.

The old man didn’t come back to the shop’s side after driving the car into the garage, and Hinata really couldn’t blame him. In fact, he was a bit relieved he didn’t come back, since talking with Komaeda privately seemed to make the tension ease at least a little bit.

Although, despite how long they talked, still everything Komaeda said and did kept seeming forced.


 

Hinata walked into the hotel room after Komaeda opened the door and held it out. The car had been fixed all right, but despite that Komaeda had seemed really stressed the drive back. In fact, Hinata had noticed he had gotten a bit twitchy, his fingers occasionally jerking on the wheel of the car. Despite that, Komaeda had driven safely back to the hotel.

Now he had been quiet for quite some bit. Hinata glanced at Komaeda while he was taking his jacket off, and then he noticed that Komaeda was still standing in front of the door he had closed behind him, leaning against the wall with his other hand. Hinata blinked and took a few steps closer to Komaeda.

“Everything alright?” he asked and Komaeda lifted his eyes like he was shocked - not by the question itself, but more it seemed like he had been surprised from being talked to.

“I’m, I’m sorry,” he muttered. Hinata blinked a couple times, before frowning.

“There’s no need to apologize, just answer my question. Are you okay?” When he repeated the question, he noticed that Komaeda wasn’t… really looking at him at all. Instead his eyes kept wandering around like they were out of focus, and on closer inspection Hinata noticed there was sweat dripping down his forehead.

“Hinata-kun, I’m… I’m sorry,” Komaeda mumbled out again, this time his voice barely understandable. Hinata took a step closer, reaching with his hand to touch Komaeda’s forehead and about to repeat his question once again, when suddenly Komaeda stumbled.

Except, he didn’t steady himself at all, didn’t even try to keep standing. Hinata realized just barely in time that Komaeda had fainted to catch him before he fell, but just late enough that he ended up falling down on his rear, holding Komaeda in his arms to soften his fall.

“Komaeda?” he called but he received no answer other than horribly distorted breathing like Komaeda was barely able to breathe. He tried to push Komaeda up, holding him a bit away from him but his whole body was limp, and he could feel his body run cold.

“Komaeda…?” His feeble voice barely got out of his mouth at all, as he felt unease fill his mind.

He had been right, something had been wrong but… what was he supposed to do now? The panic was quickly taking over and he could feel his own breathing grow uneasy.

Despite that, he began to pull Komaeda up, enough that he could drag him into the room and to a bed. As he carried Komaeda, he could feel his breathing slowly grow into hyperventilation but he kept going until Komaeda was safely on a bed. And only after that, he fell to the side of the bed, leaning against it as he tried to calm down.

He had to calm down and help Komaeda, instead of panicking. Komaeda was lying on the bed, still sounding like he was struggling to breathe. Hinata grasped at Komaeda’s hand close to him, closing his eyes as he felt tears trying to push out.

He would have to calm down and take care of Komaeda; this certainly wasn’t as bad as he feared. This must be just some kind of influenza, he would just have to figure out what to do. Komaeda would certainly wake up after resting a little bit.

He would have to.

Chapter Text

The headache was getting worse. Komaeda kept his eyes fixed forward as he drove towards the hotel. He could notice that Hinata was uncomfortable - in fact he had been clearly growing more and more so during their time at the mechanic. Komaeda knew that, and he tried his best to ease Hinata’s feelings but not only did it feel like the headache was about to split his head open, his whole body and thoughts felt… distant. Like they weren’t under his control.

He really wanted to rest. He wanted to get into a dark room, close his eyes and… sleep. Anything to get rid of the aching and the feeling of being lost.

He glanced at Hinata, to see him playing with his hair and staring out the other window. Komaeda opened his mouth to say something, to reassure the other everything was fine, but it felt like he’d lose his control of his breathing if he tried to speak. He had kept it so neatly under control, so that Hinata wouldn’t notice how out of breath he was constantly and especially the wheezing that kept trying to sneak into his words.

There was a wave of pain, a wince starting from his chest and flowing from there into his entire body and it took everything he had to not gasp for air. Instead, he took a deep, deep breath and sighed after. Hinata glanced at him upon hearing this sigh, and Komaeda just smiled back as brightly as he could.

It didn’t seem to convince Hinata.

Komaeda turned his eyes to the road and ignored the look of concern. He had to make everything seem like it was alright. Then back at the hotel, he would sneak the phone from Hinata for a moment, when the other was bathing or something, and get a refill of his medicine. As soon as possible.

Another wave of pain passed through his body. He wasn’t really sure where the pain began - it might be his lungs or his heart - since it washed over him rapidly, making all his joints ache as well. He tightened his grip on the steering wheel; they were back at the hotel soon. Just few turns and it would be alright. He just had to hang on…

His fingers twitched involuntarily, and his only response was to hold on to the wheel even tighter.


 

When they finally parked the car and started to leave, Komaeda almost stumbled down while getting out of the car. He quickly glanced at Hinata to make sure the other hadn’t noticed, before steadying himself. Moving his legs was difficult as they began to walk towards the elevator: his knees felt weak, like they would wobble down if he wasn’t careful.

Hinata was stealing glances at him, and Komaeda tried to straighten his back and look more lively in response. The wave of pain went over him again, but at this point he was starting to get used to it, his mind merely shutting out the feeling of pain… and in the process, the feeling of everything. It was like brief relief, but also as he did he barely saw and could feel himself almost swaying… falling…

He pressed the elevator button when they got to it. It lit up and then began the slow wait… Komaeda grit his teeth together as time passed on and on, hearing the wires slowly letting the elevator down to their floor and occasionally stopping to let people out.

He felt like punching the door. He was in a hurry . He had to get into the room before he… he…

The bell rang loudly and the doors slid open, and they stepped into it. Hinata went on to press the button and Komaeda realized neither of them had said anything in a long time now. He looked at Hinata, to see his unreadable expression. His lips were slightly pursed and he was staring at the buttons as the elevator began to crawl upwards.

He must be… must be… angry? Afraid? Disappointed? The options were spinning in Komaeda’s head and all of them felt like they made sense, and it was like Hinata’s expression started to change with his thoughts, morphing into expressing the emotions and convincing Komaeda that he couldn’t actually see properly. He turned his eyes away from Hinata, in hopes of being freed from the spinning view but no matter where he looked, everything seemed to be morphing into shapes.

He leaned against the wall, feeling the elevator shake a little as it climbed up. It occurred to him then that he didn’t actually hear the rattling anymore: even when the bell rang again when they reached their floor, the sound was muffled down so much that he barely recognized it. He followed after Hinata out of the elevator, his legs shaking as they walked through the hall.

When they reached the door, he took out the keys to open it but his hands were shaking so much, so much that it felt like a minute had passed when he finally got the key in. No, it felt like a forever had passed since they even got to the elevator, and when he swung the door open and stepped aside for Hinata, a wave of dizziness rushed over his mind. He barely managed to walk into the room before closing the door behind him, and after that he just stood there.

He stood there, he stood there completely quietly, leaning against the wall to support his legs that seemed to have lost their feeling. Everything was spinning around in his head, and he could no longer separate the feelings rushing through his body. Something like pain, or pleasure, or nausea was running through his veins, something felt tight, something felt weak…

“Everything alright?” Hinata’s voice rang through it all so clearly that Komaeda flinched in surprise, turning his eyes up. Hinata was staring at him, his eyes bright and clear while everything around him was blurry. It almost seemed like Hinata had a halo around him, like he was radiating… sense into this world of his.

“I’m, I’m sorry,” Komaeda managed to mutter. He couldn’t keep himself stable anymore, he realized that as he compared the two of them. His whole body felt like it was fluttering away into the wind, while Hinata stood there clear and steady. His consciousness was slipping already from his grip and he felt so, so sorry for doing this to Hinata.

“There’s no need to-,” Hinata’s words cut out in the middle of his sentence, and Komaeda blinked. “-question. Are you okay?” Blinking had been a bad idea. When his eyes opened again, everything looked so out of focus that he couldn’t really even see where Hinata was anymore.

“Hinata-kun, I’m…” It was getting to near impossible to muster any words out, whatever he had meant to say, and only the words “I’m sorry” spilled from his lips before everything went dark.


 

The room is completely dark around him. It’s so dark, that he can’t actually even see the walls, but for some reason he knows they are there, standing as a constraint to keep him in this room. There must be a door somewhere, but Komaeda can’t see it, and he knows that even if he looked for it he wouldn’t find one. He isn’t exactly sure how he knows that when he hasn’t even tried but…

He’s alone, too. That much he can also tell. He’s sitting on the floor, in the middle of the room and there was not a soul in sight. He calls out softly - he can’t make out the word he’s saying but he’s saying something specific, like someone’s name or…

He shudders: the room is cold, and he pulls his legs closer to hug them.

He’s alone and cold, but still this room feels safe. He knows there’s nothing else in the room, nothing to trip over and hurt himself, and no one else he might hurt. It’s just him and the quiet room. And not even in his thoughts there’s anyone: no matter how much he thought, there wasn’t a single person who came to his mind, not a single face, not a single name…

He says something, again, but he still can’t quite make out what he said. It was probably no one important- nothing. Nothing important. Not ‘no one’ but ‘nothing’, he made the distinction forcibly. There were no other people, there couldn’t be any other people.

Because this room was safe. Here nothing bad happened, so there could not be other people. If there were, then they might be hurt like his ------- and they might --- like them. The words kept cutting out as he thought, but it didn’t really bother him. The words weren’t important, or the details. As long as he was in this room.

He closed his eyes. There was no difference if they were open or closed, but for some reason he felt even safer with them closed. It was like he was completely shut out this way, with no way anyone could reach him. As long as he couldn’t see, ------ didn’t exist nor his ------- or his ----, even. There was just him in the room, in the room where no one could get in, and his mind protected by his eyes, so that he couldn’t see anything. He couldn’t see ------.

The cold was still creeping up on his back, sapping all the warmth from him… it wasn’t that he really even felt cold. Even cold couldn’t reach him in this room. But there was still a similar feeling, like he was missing something crucial, something warm and ----. But he had that already, he had ------ in this room, it was all this ---- existed for.

The words were starting to cut out even ---- as he tried to -----. The feeling of ------ was disappearing from around --- and the room was dissolving, forcing him to ---- his eyes, and the darkness wasn’t there but instead...

“Komeda!” A person was leaning over him, really close and Komaeda blinked in confusion a couple of times. It was… Hinata. And this room was the hotel room they had been staying in. It was hard for him to recall his last memories, and he didn’t really have time to ponder about that when suddenly the other threw himself onto him, wrapping his arms around him in a tight hug and… crying against his shoulder? At least Hinata was trembling as he held onto Komaeda.

“Hi-Hinata-kun?” he asked, bewildered. What had happened…? Hinata was holding onto him so tightly that he felt a bit suffocated, and that thought made him realize he could breathe normally again. The warmth surrounding him felt comforting but as he slowly remembered the condition he had been in last he remembered, he felt also his body tighten. He… had probably failed to not bother Hinata.

“Thank god you’re awake now,” Hinata said, his voice muffled against his shoulder. So… he had probably slept some time. He couldn’t really accurately determine how long: from where he was lying he only saw the roof and some of Hinata’s hair.

“I’m sorry...” Hinata pushed himself away from Komaeda after hearing that, and frowned.

“Honestly, you should be sorry. You should have told me, I thought you might, that you might have…” Hinata stopped mid sentence, sitting up properly on the edge of the bed and burying his face into his hands. “I’m just… I’m going to get mad at you later, okay? Don’t think I’m letting you out with just this but… I’m glad you’re awake now.” His voice trembled towards the end, and he took his hands away from his face to give a small, relieved smile to Komaeda.

Komaeda slowly sat up in reaction, and looked around in the room to see a familiar nurse standing a bit away from them, staring at the floor awkwardly.

“I’m, I’m awake… But what happened while I was...?”

Chapter Text

Eventually Hinata’s mind began to calm down - although, he wasn’t sure if he’d call it calming down, or if it was more in the lines of drowning his mind until he didn’t feel anymore. The room around him was so, so quiet outside of the sound of Komaeda breathing, wheezing and weak. Hinata couldn’t understand how he hadn’t noticed this before or how Komaeda had been able to keep this all covered up.

He got up slowly, pushing himself off the bed and checking Komaeda’s condition now that he was calmer. The other was breathing heavily, but it also sounded like he was moaning like he was in pain - or seeing nightmares. Hinata checked Komaeda’s temperature, placing his hand on Komaeda’s forehead but it was completely cold. He tried to shake Komaeda a few times, calling his name in an attempt to wake him up but he didn’t react.

He pressed his lips together as he sat down on the other bed, completely unsure about what he was supposed to do. He… he could call an ambulance, but… the prospect of possibly getting caught by the police made him hesitant to do that. And Komaeda seemed stable for now, so he wanted to figure out if there was anything else he could do… His hands were still trembling and his heart thumping, but he had to concentrate on thinking for now.

He was pretty sure this wasn’t a normal sickness one caught. If it was, Komaeda would have probably mentioned it to keep Hinata away to avoid him catching it. So the only other option was something Komaeda had felt he needed to keep a secret… So either a long-term illness, since then Komaeda would have known what was going on and had maybe thought he could deal with it, or it was something self-imposed, like illegal substances.

Hinata was pretty sure it was the first option; he would have noticed if Komaeda had been taking something behind his back. In fact, they were together all the time, so there wasn’t really any option for Komaeda to go out and buy drugs or anything like that.

Although, that might have been the case if Komaeda had needed something specific for his illness, that he couldn’t get because Hinata was there. But if that was the case, then why didn’t Komaeda just tell him…

Hinata shook his head. That wasn’t relevant now. He had to find out if this was an illness Komaeda had had for a while, and to do that he would have to ask someone who knew him well before… they had met.

And he knew a person like that. Hinata quickly scrambled back to his jacket, to dig out the phone from the pocket. His hands were shaking a little bit as he walked back to the bed, going through the contacts to find the only person he knew from there: Komaeda’s ex. He hesitated for only a split second, realizing that while he had been messaging with her, she had thought he was Komaeda all that time.

But that wasn’t really relevant right now. He pressed the call button and lifted the phone to his ear. Hearing the familiar waiting tone was almost bizarre: it had been such a long time since he had heard it, and it would have made him feel nostalgic if the situation wasn’t like this. So instead it just unnerved him, the piece of normalcy between his state of mind and the current situation feeling like a dream.

Eventually the call went through.

Uh, hi. Didn’t think you’d be calling me again-, ” the woman’s voice started to say, but Hinata quickly cut her off.

“I’m, I’m sorry, I’m not Komaeda,” he clarified. He could hear a sound of surprise from her end before he continued. “I’m, uhm, his… friend. I’m sorry to uh, call you like this but I need help and you were the only one I knew to ask.” As the words slipped from his mouth, he knew that he wasn’t making much sense like this. Her response confirmed that.

I’m sorry but I’m not sure what to take from this ,” she said slowly. “ Is there something wrong with him? And what makes you think I’d be able to help?

“I, uh,” Hinata stuttered out, before taking a deep breath to explain himself in a more collected manner. “Komaeda has been showing some signs of an illness and even fainted, and I think it’s something he has had for a while… and you’re the only one I could recognize from the contacts.”

Could recognize, huh… ” Her voice sounded weary. “ I’m sorry, but I actually can’t help you. I… did figure out that he had some illnesses but he never told me anything.

“R-really…” Hinata’s voice cracked. What was he supposed to do now…? He gripped the phone desperately, trying to figure out something to say when the woman continued.

Uhm, if you want to call someone who might know more, I would try her boss. She’s the only one I know of who he talked to regularly. I think she should be found under the name Kirigiri on his phone ,” she explained, sounding even more tired. “ I think she would know better. I’m sorry I couldn’t do anything else.

“No, this is plenty help!” Hinata said immediately. Any clue was better than nothing. And… listening to her voice, he suddenly felt even more guilty, especially considering the circumstances. “Thank you so much...”

No problem. I hope things go well… ,” she said and before Hinata managed to say anything else, she cut the call. Hinata lowered the phone, staring at it for a few seconds as he felt a wave of weariness rush over him. She had sounded so upset… He shook his head. He could mope about this later.

He began to go through Komaeda’s contacts again. Eventually he stumbled on two names under the surname Kirigiri: the other one a guy’s name and the other girl’s. From what the woman had said, Komaeda’s boss was a ‘she’ so…

Hinata hesitantly pressed the call button and lifting the phone back to his ear.

The call was picked up almost immediately.

Chief Kirigiri from the Kyoto sales department of Togami Corporation .” The voice from the other end was cool and collected, and it made Hinata straighten his back reflexively. “ On what business are you calling me?

“Uhm, I’m sorry…,” Hinata said hesitantly. A calm ‘yes?’ greeted him back immediately. “Uhm, I’m… Komaeda’s friend… I was told by his ah, ex  that you might know about his illness.” He really should have asked for her name.

This is a peculiar call. May I inquire who you are?

“My name is Hinata Hajime,” he introduced himself. There was something about Kirigiri that made him feel really… formal, talking to her. “I’ve been in Komaeda’s company since he left Kyoto. He uh, he fainted today and I think he has some kind of illness he’s been keeping secret from me. So I called his previous girlfriend and she told me to contact you. I’m sorry to bother your work...”

It’s no problem, I’m not at work right now actually.” Her response was blunt, but there was certain gentleness to it. “ I’m sorry to inform you that I do not know much of his illness either. May I inquire you his current situation? Can you not ask him about this?

“He’s… he fainted just now, and now he’s asleep, I think,” Hinata said, feeling his heart drop. If she didn’t know either… If she didn’t know, then probably he would have to go through the contacts in Komaeda’s phone, starting from the people Komaeda had actually mentioned.

Should you not call the hospital, in that case?

“The situation is a bit… difficult right now. I will call the hospital if I can’t find out any information but…,” Hinata said, feeling a bit embarrassed. He just hoped she wouldn’t ask questions.

... I understand. As I said, I do not know much of his illness, but I do know who told me about it. I can contact him for you, and have him send someone over. I just need to know where you are, ” Kirigiri answered after a short silence, and relief washed over Hinata.

“Thank you so much,” he said before he told her the hotel they were staying at and the room’s number. She asked a few questions more - mostly about Komaeda’s current condition to confirm he really was stable right now and making Hinata turn him to his side - before they ended the phone call. Hinata dropped the phone down on his bed and walked to Komaeda’s side again.

Komaeda seemed a bit more restful now, although his breathing was just as bad as it had been this whole time. He sat on the floor by the bed and took hold of Komaeda’s other hand to press it against his forehead.

“I’m sorry…,” he muttered. If… if Komaeda’s condition grew worse because he hadn’t called the ambulance he… Hinata felt tears welling up in his eyes again, and he pressed his face against Komaeda’s bed. “Please, wake up soon...”


 

It was less than an hour later when someone knocked on the door. Hinata lifted his face from Komaeda’s bed, having lied there for this whole time, trying to collect himself together. Which he had deemed near impossible in this situation.

He walked to the door hesitantly and opened it, to see a young woman standing there. She had long, black hair that was cut unevenly, and she seemed nervous.

“Uhm! I’m sorry, might you be Hinata-san?” she asked, her voice almost squeaking from her clear nervousness. Hinata nodded slowly, without even thinking about it. She seemed relieved, letting out a sigh. “Oh that’s good, I already knocked once on the wrong door… I’m um, a nurse, I was sent here to treat Komaeda-kun...”

“Oh, come in then!” Hinata hurried to give way to her, and she gave a hesitant smile before walking into the room. As she did, Hinata noticed a she was carrying a huge bag with her. She seemed to be having trouble taking her shoes off while she was still carrying it, but when Hinata tried to offer to take it from her she shook her head, insisting she was fine.

Hinata watched over her a bit worried as she made her way to Komaeda, but as soon as she reached the bed it seemed like a whole different switch turned on, and she began to treat him calmly and efficiently. Hinata sat on his own bed, not really knowing what to say: although, she seemed so focused that maybe it indeed was better that he didn’t say anything.

The first thing she did was put an oxygen mask on Komaeda. After doing some kind of checkups, taking even a blood sample from Komaeda, she set up an infusion bag for him.

“So, uhm, Hinata-san…,” she said hesitantly eventually, glancing at him almost shyly. “Has he been breathing like this for long?”

“Uhm, it started only when he fainted,” Hinata said. “Before that he was breathing normally, or at least it looked like that. Although, last night his breathing was a bit like this, just not as severe.”

She frowned a bit.

“Is there any reason to believe that he, uh, was trying to hide it from you?” she asked and when Hinata startled at the question, she quickly apologized like on reflex.

“Ah, yes, there is. I think he was trying to keep it from me, so…,” Hinata said slowly, not wanting to scare her more. “Uhm, can I ask you a question, uh…?” She looked at him in confusion for a brief second before realizing what he was trying to ask.

“Uh, I’m sorry for not introducing myself right away! My name is Tsumiki,” she said, bowing slightly to him.

“It’s, it’s fine, no need to apologize. Uh, do you know what’s wrong with him, Tsumiki-san?” Hinata asked and Tsumiki’s face instantly darkened a bit, as she glanced at Komaeda with a worried look.

“Well, I think it was hypercapnia… To put it more simply, he couldn’t breathe well. He’s better now that he’s asleep, but I think trying to control his breathing ended up him not getting enough oxygen and then carbon dioxide started building up, leading to him fainting…,” she explained. Hinata didn’t entirely understand all of her explanation, but he got the general gist of it.

So Komaeda had tried to keep it from him that badly… Hinata felt suddenly tired; he thought they had been already past this point of keeping secrets, but apparently that wasn’t the case.

“So… Can you tell me what caused his breathing to get like this, in the first place?” Hinata asked, rubbing his forehead. He was getting a headache too, now that the panic and stress was slowly drifting away.

“Uhm, I cannot tell you all the details because of confidentiality reasons, but the reason for this is the fact that he stopped taking his medication abruptly and the withdrawal symptoms were causing the breathing difficulties, amongst other things.” Tsumiki let out a sigh after saying that. “I’m, I’m sorry I can’t explain anything more to you.” She sounded upset, and Hinata decided to hold on to the questions he had planned on asking. There was no reason to try and pressure her into giving the answers when she was unable to, but…

“He will be okay, right?” Hinata asked instead, rubbing his fingers in an attempt to make his hands shake less.

“Y-yes! I believe so,” Tsumiki affirmed quickly, holding both of her hands over her chest as she talked. “I, I might not be good at anything else but I would like to think I am a good nurse! So please don’t be upset, he’ll be completely alright as soon as the medication I administered takes effect… It might take a while, even a day or two but he’ll be okay I swear...” It almost felt like she was pleading with him, and it made Hinata feel a bit weird.

“Alright, thank you, Tsumiki-san,” he said and she shook her head.

“You can just call me Tsumiki, it’s alright. Uhm, I think there’s no need for me to be here anymore right now, but I’m going to be here nearby, so you can call me at any point if needed! Komaeda-kun should have me in his contacts,“ she explained as she started to pack her things. “I’ll uh, also come by to check up on him every few hours or so, if that’s no problem to you…? I mean, I have to do it but I hope it won’t be a problem to you?” Hinata shook his head quickly in response.

Really, just the thought that Tsumiki was going to be checking on them regularly was making him feel better. That way someone who was able to help Komaeda would be doing what he wasn’t able to, and also… he was happy that he didn’t have to be completely alone now. He asked Tsumiki for some instructions on what he should do and look out for, before she left the room.

As he seated himself back on his bed after seeing Tsumiki off, he felt suddenly completely exhausted. It was already evening by now, and he realized he hadn’t really eaten or drank anything since their time in the zoo… It felt like a forever had passed since they had been playing with the bunnies. If he had just been more perceptive back then, or if he had just confronted Komaeda about this instead of letting it slide…

Hinata took out the marbles from his pocket slowly, and looked at them. It had been a while since Komaeda had last asked about them. Hinata began to spin Komaeda’s marble in his hand, before holding it tightly. This all time, he had slowly started to take it for granted that Komaeda was there, always helping him and doing everything for him. But now that he sat in the room alone, the only sound surrounding him being the muffled breathing of Komaeda’s, without being able to say anything…

He began to realize how fragile the world around him was, how easy it would be to lose it all. There wasn’t even that much time left, but Hinata wanted to hold onto those few weeks left as hard as he could.

He wasn’t going to let Komaeda drift away from him.


 

Hinata stared at the ceiling in the dark room. It was late, late night - it might be even closer to morning by now - and he hadn’t slept at all. Tsumiki had visited the room a few times after the first, and she had looked increasingly worried about Hinata with every visit, but he had been just slowly growing more and more… disconnected.

Even the exhaustion, that had taken over him and still held onto him, hadn’t been enough to lull him into sleep. Instead, it had just made his body feel heavy and his mind muddled.

He had eaten, though. He had eaten, he had brushed his teeth, changed into his pajamas. But it felt like the more he tried to keep acting as usual and the more he tried to sleep, the more disoriented he grew. It wasn’t that this was anything new to him, this feeling of dissociation but it had been… certainly a while since he had last felt this way.

Hinata sighed, but even that felt foreign, like someone else had made him do it instead of his own mind.

There was a knock on the door, and Hinata got up from the bed to go open it. The sound of his footsteps sounded muffled to his ear, and when he opened the door to see Tsumiki, he didn’t really react anyhow else than just walking back into the room and sitting on his bed. She followed after him - she was clearly nervous again, and as she treated Komaeda, she kept stealing glances at Hinata who was just blankly staring.

“Y-you still haven’t gotten to sleep?“ she eventually stuttered out, not looking at him directly. Hinata startled a little, surprised from being talked to.

“No…” His short answer didn’t seem to satisfy Tsumiki.

“Are-are you certain you’re okay yourself?” She was now looking at Hinata, holding her hands together tightly. “I couldn’t help but notice that you’ve been dissociating… Uhm, if you feel like talking to someone would help, I can stay here!”

“Ah, no…,” Hinata answered and she seemed shocked.

“Oh of course, why would you talk to someone like me, I’m so sorry for intruding,” she began to sputter out. ‘Someone like me’, she said… Hinata frowned.

“That’s not it, I just… All the things I would have to say are something that… I can’t really tell anyone about,” he explained, dropping his eyes to his lap. “Anyways, this is normal to me. It’ll pass, eventually.”

Tsumiki was quiet for a long time, and Hinata was already starting to presume she was going to leave it there before she suddenly broke the silence again.

“Uhm, if you’d like I can uh, take you as my patient, kind of? That way I would be sworn to confidentiality,” she offered, clearly sounding hesitant. “I’m sorry if I’m intruding too much, I just want to help you...”

Hinata pushed himself to smile. The offer was... almost tempting, but then again he had really no guarantee it would be safe.

“Thank you for the offer, but I’m… I’m alright. I’ll try to sleep,” he said. Tsumiki grew silent again, seeming like she was thinking about something. Eventually, she seemed to give up and after a few more words, she left the room.

Hinata sat there for a moment, looking at Komaeda. The other looked really peaceful right now, it was clear that his condition was improving. Tsumiki had even mentioned that his condition was about normal now, but he would still most likely sleep from the effect of the medication and from the exhaustion.

So right now he just seemed restful and calm. Hinata slowly got up from his bed and walked to Komaeda’s to sit down on the side of it. When Komaeda woke up, he would have to talk about his feelings finally. Even though this had ended up not being anything serious, it had still served as a reminder that their time was limited and he couldn’t just keep jumping around it forever.

As he sat there, his thoughts wandered to the night before - even it felt like it had happened a forever ago, him throwing up and Komaeda helping him. Komaeda had been struggling even back then… Yet still he had helped Hinata and allowed him to sleep in the same bed as him.

Sleep in the same bed, huh… The tiredness was probably clouding his judgement, but… he presumed there was nothing wrong with it, if he tried to sleep here. It certainly would feel a lot more safe here. Hinata pondered about it for a few minutes, but as he failed to come up with any argument against the idea, he slowly laid down next to Komaeda and closed his eyes.


 

The next time Hinata opened his eyes, Tsumiki was in the room and it was… probably late afternoon of the next day, based on how rested he felt. He gave a bewildered look to Tsumiki who looked back at him with a shocked look.

“I’m sorry!!” she immediately said, clasping her hands together as she looked almost panicky. “I took Komaeda’s key to the room from him when I left last night… I thought you might fall asleep and wouldn’t open the door. I’m so sorry, please forgive me!” Hinata just stared at her quietly, trying to wrap his head around the situation as the drowsiness was still muddling his thoughts. He should probably take care of the first things first, and since Tsumiki seemed like she was on verge of tears…

“It’s, it’s okay I guess,” he said as he sat up. Komaeda was still sleeping, and his complexion looked better than yesterday. “You could have just said really, I would have let you take it.”

“I’m sorry,” she said, her head drooping. That was when it really registered to Hinata that Tsumiki had seen him sleep next to Komaeda, in fact had been seeing it all night and he began to feel embarrassed. She seemed to notice this, and laughed a bit softly. “Hehe, there’s no need to be shy. I understand.” Her words somehow made Hinata feel even more humiliated and he quickly got up from the bed and grabbed his clothes from yesterday.

“I’ll, uh, go to the bathroom,” he announced before retreating there. Tsumiki just gave him a light okay before he had already closed the door behind him. Now he really didn’t want to go out of the bathroom before she left.

He walked to the sink and looked into the mirror. His hair was messier than usual, too. He really should get it cut soon, it was starting to get to the length where it got in the way. He began to wash his face.

Having slept that well had made him feel a bit better about… about this all. Tsumiki had seemed more chipper than yesterday - well, to the point that she had actually smiled - so he presumed that meant good for Komaeda’s condition. He was still conflicted about his emotions over the fact that Komaeda had kept this a secret, whatever this thing was.

And here he had thought they had gotten a lot closer since the… incident with the gun. He closed the tap and for a moment just stared into the mirror, the water dripping from his hair and face to the sink. Really, after all this time he still really didn’t understand what Komaeda was thinking about, or why Komaeda was so dedicated to him.

He didn’t know anything significant, did he… Although, that had seemed to be the case with his ex-girlfriend too - Komaeda had said that he had never really cared about his relationship with her.

So maybe that was why he hadn’t told Hinata anything either. Komaeda did seem to hold Hinata to a certain pedestal, but perhaps it was just because of the opportunity Hinata had offered him, and had really nothing to with who he was.

He slapped his cheeks. This wasn’t really the time to be thinking about this. He grabbed the towel to dry his face, and listened closely to signs of Tsumiki still being in the room. When he didn’t hear anything, he changed from his pajamas and walked out of the bathroom. Tsumiki indeed had left already, and Hinata walked to the sofa in the room to sit down.

He was about to turn on the television, when suddenly Komaeda’s phone rang. For a moment he didn’t even realize what was making sound - before he located the phone on his bedside table and he went to answer the call. He managed to quickly check the caller’s name before answered.

Hello, ” a familiar voice greeted him: Komaeda’s girlfriend.

“Uhm, hello,” Hinata answered as he went back to the sofa, feeling a bit nervous.

I just called to ask if everything was alright now, ” she asked. “ I couldn’t help but worry after the phone call yesterday.

“Yes, everything is alright now… Thank you so much for your help.” Hinata felt awkward talking to her now that he was… less panicked about the situation and in a calm state of mind. She still sounded so weary, and Hinata couldn’t help but think it was caused by him - he had made Komaeda leave, and he had been the one to send her those messages.

I see, that’s good to hear... ” Her voice trailed off towards the end, and for a moment there was a silence between them. “ Uhm, may I ask your relation to Komaeda? After… after what he said, I just couldn’t stop thinking about it last night. ” Hinata felt his body tense up immediately.

“Ah, uhm…,” he stuttered out. What should he do… back then he had been just annoyed, and had wanted to get rid of her as soon as possible but now that he had started to feel guilty about it, he… “I’m sorry. To, to tell you the truth I was the one who you talked to over those messages.”

There was a long, long silence on the other end of the phone.

... I, I see. Maybe that goes to show how little I did know about Komaeda, since I didn’t even notice anything, ” she eventually said. Her voice trembled a little and immediately Hinata felt bad. “ But what you said about your relations, and the breaking up… I presume Komaeda knows of what happened too?

Hinata couldn’t help but remember what Komaeda had said, how she was probably better off without him.

“Uh, yes. He did mean to break up with you, so… I’m sorry, we’ve done a bad thing to you,” Hinata said softly and the woman was just quiet for long again. These long silences were making Hinata feel even worse and more nervous.

Alright. I understand… I’m sorry, I would want to end the phone call here. I got the answer to my question after all, ” she eventually said, in a strained tone.

“Ah, yes,” Hinata managed to say before the call was cut.

Maybe… that hadn’t been the best thing to do. But at this point, he felt it better to tell the truth - if not for anything else then for his own conscience. Although, he had ended up still lying about his relation to Komaeda but… he presumed it was easier for her to accept as a reason for the sudden disappearance.

He dropped the phone to the sofa and leaned back, letting out a deep sigh.

He just wanted Komaeda to wake up soon.


 

It was already nearing midnight, and Tsumiki was making another checkup visit. Hinata was sitting on the other bed, once again, and talking with Tsumiki. In fact, he had been asking her all sorts of questions whenever she came over, just to have someone to hold a conversation with. So far they had talked about movies - apparently she enjoyed horror movies - and about her work as a nurse.

She had seemed confused every time by the fact Hinata was interested in these things and had even questioned it, but she had still answered his questions. Hinata hadn’t really known how to answer her question as to why - half of it was just to fill the silence, and half of it was just genuinely wanting to be friendly.

Tsumiki had taken the oxygen mask off of Komaeda during her last visit too, saying he didn’t really have need for it anymore.

She had just finished explaining about her club in high school - she had avoided talking about any of her classmates in a very clear fashion, and Hinata had made a point not to ask - when they suddenly noticed that Komaeda was starting to groan. Hinata got up from his bed and walked to Komaeda’s bed to lean over it.

Tsumiki also got to the bed, checking Komaeda’s pulse.

“I-I think he might be waking up,” she said, taking a few steps back after saying that, like she was giving space to Hinata. Hinata looked at Komaeda expectantly, and when the other’s eyes finally started to flutter open he felt relief and excitement washing over him.

“Komaeda!” he called, leaning closer to the other and Komaeda’s eyes slowly opened, blinking a few times in confusion. That was enough for Hinata to burst into tears. Without really thinking about the fact that Tsumiki was still in the room, he jumped on Komaeda and squeezed him as hard as he just could.

“H-Hinata-kun?”

Chapter Text

The first hour after Komaeda woke up was slightly confusing. Not that he wasn’t used to having a nurse take care of him, but the fact that Hinata was right there, sitting next to him and asking him periodically if he was okay and if he needed anything. Hinata had said he would get angry later - honestly, Komaeda had expected him to be nothing but angry, but time kept passing and Hinata didn’t get upset at him.

Eventually when Tsumiki left, saying she’d be back in couple hours, Hinata sighed. Komaeda flinched and straightened his back, expecting a lecture but Hinata just dropped down on the bed, right next to him. Komaeda looked at him in confusion as Hinata closed his eyes and rubbed his head.

“Hinata-kun?” he asked and the other groaned.

“Man, I’m kind of exhausted now that everything is settled down.” Hinata opened his eyes and looked at Komaeda, squinting a bit. “You know, can you promise you won’t faint on me again? It’s not good for my heart when you keep doing this...”

“Oh, do you have a heart condition?” Komaeda asked immediately. If that was the case, he should really reconsider everything he had done until now to figure out what he might have done to worsen Hinata’s condition...

Hinata laughed.

“What? No, of course not. What I mean is that I was worried. And before you go twisting my words, I was worried about you. Your health, your wellbeing. Not if we can continue the travel or for usefulness or something like that,” Hinata said sternly, sitting up again. “Want to eat anything? Because I really do.” He got up from the bed as he said that, heading to the other side of the room to presumably call for room service.

“Um, Hinata-kun!” Komaeda called, and the other looked at him, tilting his head.

“What is it? Is there something specific you want to eat?”

“No, uh… I’m sorry, for being a bother and for… worrying you.” Komaeda really didn’t understand why the other would worry for someone like him, for any other reason than what Hinata had already denied. Hinata squinted his eyes at him for a second, like he was thinking of saying something, before he sighed and smiled.

“You know, I said I would be angry at you but I don’t really have the energy for that anymore,” Hinata said and Komaeda blinked in surprise. “I guess you must have had your reasons for hiding it, and I haven’t exactly been showing off my reliability during the time we’ve been travelling, so… It’s alright, if you didn’t want to tell me. Although, I wish you could at least tell me when you feel so unwell that you would pass out for couple of days.”

“I’m, I’m sorry.” Komaeda dropped his head a bit. Hinata sighed again and walked back to the bed, sitting down.

“Can I at least hear the reason why you didn’t tell me? Not why you felt unwell, I’m pretty sure it’s again that ‘you didn’t want to get in my way’ explanation, but why you didn’t tell me you ran out of medication? We could have just gotten some.”

Komaeda stared at Hinata for a while, wondering how he should put all this. He hadn’t really expected this to go so… calmly, to have the other just ask him why and give him a chance to explain it.

“I was going to take care of it without bothering you,” he confessed. “Originally, I was going to get Kuzuryuu to get me a refill, when we went to get your passport but… then I fell sick and never could go there. I was worried you would be upset knowing I had been planning to do it behind your back...”

Hinata listened to his explanation quietly, his expression completely unreadable the entire time. The lack of emotion was making Komaeda feel nervous, and he fiddled with the edge of his blanket. When he finished talking, Hinata nodded slowly.

“Alright, I get it. Or well, I don’t, really. I still think this is clearly the worse option, but whatever. I guess it’s partly because of me then, too.” He sighed, and got up from the bed once again. “Well, I don’t think I’ve always been in the wrong getting upset, but still. I would rather you tell me things straight out than keep them from me, and I promise to… at least try not to be upset, even if I’m not happy with what I hear.”

“Oh, no, it’s okay for you to get upset with someone like me, it’s probably my fault every time so…” Komaeda shut up mid sentence when he noticed the look on Hinata’s face.

“Don’t say that, okay? Besides, there’s no need for you to fear me being upset that much. I do get annoyed easily but it’s not like I’ll… try to leave that easily again. I already decided once to come back, and also…,” Hinata’s voice trailed off and Komaeda looked at him with an asking look, waiting for him to continue.

Hinata just pursed his lips and frowned. His cheeks reddened a bit, further confusing Komaeda.

“I’ll say it when you’re good enough to get up. I’ll just... order the food for now.”

Komaeda just nodded in confusion. He wasn’t really sure what else he could do but agree, since he didn’t really understand what was going on. But… at least Hinata hadn’t gotten upset, and had said he wouldn’t leave even though Komaeda had been a great inconvenience to him… Perhaps this was his luck compensating for the mess, but it still made him feel relieved and happy.

He watched as Hinata ordered the food, carefully taking in the other’s appearance. He had been asleep the whole time, so of course the time had passed for him more quickly but… it still felt like it had been a while since he had been able to just look at the other, and appreciate him.

“Komaeda?” Hinata asked after finishing his business with the reception.

“No, it’s nothing,” Komaeda said quickly, smiling. Hinata hadn’t asked him about the medicine and what it was for - there was a possibility Tsumiki had told him, or he was trying to be considerate. Of course, it could be that he didn’t have any interest in it either. Komaeda felt like he should probably ask if the other wanted to know at some point, but for now he wasn’t going to intrude this calm moment with a talk about that… “Thank you,” he said instead.

Hinata smiled a bit, before chuckling.

“I haven’t done anything, really. Just desperately tried to help you,” Hinata said, sitting on his own bed this time. “You’ve been the more responsible one and have helped me so much, it’s just… a given I would try to do the same. Although I’m not that good at it, since I haven’t really had the chance to live freely until now. So thank you, for giving me this chance.”

… Komaeda felt like Hinata had just said something big, but it felt bad to pry on it when he was still keeping his own illness a secret. He had a hunch what this was about, but for now he would wait for a better timing.

After all, the food would arrive soon.


 

“I-I think everything is okay now, it’s still best you’re careful and don’t overexert yourself for a couple days but you should be healthy enough to move and go about again,” Tsumiki said hesitantly after giving her final check up - hesitantly enough that if Komaeda didn’t know what she was like, he would have been worried. Hinata did seem a bit worried indeed, but Komaeda smiled at Tsumiki.

“Thank you, Tsumiki-san. I am feeling better, thanks to your help! As expected of a nurse as talented as you!” he said cheerily and Tsumiki shook her head, cheeks red.

“N-no, I’m just trying my best…!” she stuttered as she got up from her chair and took three bottles of pills out of her bag. “H-here’s more medicine, remember to take two every morning as you have until now…!” Tsumiki sounded a lot more more insistent than usual, and Komaeda nodded reflexively.

“I’ll make sure too that he takes them obediently from now on,” Hinata chimed in, sounding cheerful.

“T-that’s good, thank you,” Tsumiki said, before starting to fidget a bit like she was trying to make herself say something she didn’t want to. Hinata and Komaeda both looked at her expectantly and presumably that made her gather the courage. “Um! Hinata-san, could I have a word with you? In the hallway?”

Hinata pointed at himself, looking utterly confused. “Me?” he asked to confirm and when Tsumiki nodded, he got up. “I’ll be back in a bit,” he said to Komaeda, before following Tsumiki out of the room. Komaeda just waved at them with a smile on his face, until he heard the door close. He let out a sigh.

Hinata and Tsumiki seemed to get along, he wouldn’t be surprised if it was a confession… After all, he couldn’t really blame Tsumiki if she had fallen for Hinata, when he had too… Of course, it could just be some secret about his health, that they just didn’t want to share to him, or something Tsumiki had not been supposed to tell Hinata…

… So much negative thoughts. He shook his head: he shouldn’t let himself dwell on these, he didn’t want to get moody again and make Hinata nervous like he had before he passed out…

He sighed as he started to get up from the bed. He really wanted to take a quick shower now that he was alone.

It didn’t take him long to get in the shower, and he closed his eyes as the cool water hit his face. It was a refreshing feeling; waking up in that warm and sweaty bed hadn’t been the most comfortable experience. He wiped his hair from his face before opening his eyes again.

Hinata hadn’t said that much about what had happened while he had been sleeping - only that he had called Komaeda’s previous girlfriend, who had directed him to Kirigiri. Apparently, he hadn’t been told who Kirigiri contacted after that. It had been most likely Togami, since he knew about his illness and she knew that. He snorted as he realized Togami would probably demand a hefty sum from him in return for this “favor”.

But Hinata having had the courage to call those people… He must have really wanted to avoid contacting the hospital directly. He had said that he would have called the hospital if he hadn’t gotten anything out of calling Komaeda’s contacts, but Komaeda was glad it hadn’t come to that. It was probably better this way.

He took the bottle of shampoo from the shelf. He would have to make a note of avoiding hospitals in the future too, so that he wouldn’t make Hinata feel uncomfortable by accident.

… Also he would have to figure out some way to compensate for this trouble, although he had a feeling Hinata wouldn’t allow him to do much… He would just have to think about something small but that might still make Hinata happy.

He finished up his shower, and decided to put on a bathrobe instead of dressing up right away. It was in the middle of the night, but after having slept apparently for a day and a half, he didn’t really feel that tired.

Komaeda walked out of the bathroom, to see Hinata sitting by the small table, eating some of the leftover snacks they had brought in from the car and reading a book.

“Hinata-kun,” Komaeda said, a bit surprised. “You finished your talk with Tsumiki-san already?”

“Yeah,” Hinata said, sounding a bit down. “She gave me a lecture, haha...” Hinata sighed after saying that, setting down his book and looking at Komaeda. Komaeda frowned a bit.

“A lecture?”

“Yeah, for not calling the ambulance when you fainted. Apparently, if you had truly lost your consciousness, it might have… well, it wouldn’t have been good,” Hinata said, his voice a bit strained. “She’s completely right, I’m sorry for my own cowardice.”

“No, it’s okay, Hinata-kun!” Komaeda said quickly, hurrying to the table and pressing his hands against it. “I wouldn’t have wanted you to contact the hospital first either. You made sure that I was okay before doing that, so it’s good. I’m alright, as you can see! And even if you had called the hospital, they might not have been able to help me as well as Tsumiki-san did, since she knew what to do!”

Hinata seemed a bit surprised by his outburst, but he still smiled a bit after that.

“Thanks. It’s good luck that everything turned out fine this time, but if anything happens again, I’ll make sure to call the emergency line first of all,” Hinata said, before suddenly getting up from the chair and straightening his back. “Um, Komaeda. There was a little something I wanted to talk to you about.”

“To me?” Komaeda asked: it was probably about the medicine, but he still felt like he should ask first. Hinata seemed incredibly serious, and now that he was standing up as well, Komaeda realized he had gotten quite close to the other without meaning to. He was about to step back, but Hinata suddenly clasped his shoulders.

“Yes, to you. Uhm, this is something you might have noticed already, or at least I feel like you did…,” Hinata started, frowning as he spoke. He didn’t quite look Komaeda in the eyes, but it was clear he was trying to. Komaeda blinked couple times. Now he wasn’t so sure this was about the medicine. “And I’m pretty sure I know what your answer will be, but… this thing made me realize I really need to say this before… before I don’t have a chance anymore.”

“If, if there’s anything someone like me can help you with, then I’d be glad to help…,” Komaeda said, feeling utterly confused. This was definitely not about the medicine, and he didn’t have any idea what this was about.

“Komaeda, I…,” Hinata muttered, looking down. Komaeda tried to lean down to ask if the other was okay. Perhaps Hinata really did have a heart condition he needed help with, or… Suddenly Hinata looked up at him, and the look on his face made Komaeda stop completely. He… didn’t understand that expression at all. He had never seen anything quite like it, and the next words that slipped out from Hinata were something he had never expected to hear.

“Komaeda, I like you. And before you confuse this with, with whatever your thoughts normally do, I mean that romantically,” Hinata said firmly. His cheeks were red, but the look he had was determined and there was not a single trace of a lie, no sign that any of this was false but…

Komaeda felt his mind freeze and he took a step back, forcibly pulling himself away from Hinata’s grip on his shoulders.

“No,” he muttered, feeling his whole body go cold as fear settled into every corner of his mind.

Hinata seemed shocked at his response, but Komaeda didn’t even properly register that as he shook his head.

“No, it’s not possible.”

Chapter Text

It felt like the whole world outside of him had been blocked out, his hands sweating as he still held them up and his mouth incredibly dry in comparison. Hinata blinked a few times, trying to process what Komaeda had said. The simple ‘no’ he had already understood as a rejection - just that thought made shivers run down his spine as if the warmth was trying to leave his body.

“It’s not… possible…?” he repeated hesitantly eventually, his voice sounding odd to his own ears. Komaeda was covering his ears and looking down at the ground, so Hinata wasn’t entirely sure if the other had heard him. But he didn’t really know what to say or do, more than this, when Komaeda had so clearly pushed him away once already.

“Yes, it’s not possible, this must be a dream, or a result of my luck, it’s not possible that someone like you would care for me,” Komaeda muttered, his voice so quiet and fast that Hinata almost missed what he was saying. He felt anger flare up, hearing those cursed words again.

“What do you mean by that?!” he yelled out, grabbing Komaeda’s shoulders again but this time a lot less gently. Komaeda’s head shot up, and he was… grinning? It was the closest Hinata could describe the expression on his face, but looking at Komaeda’s eyes he saw so much panic that the grin just made his whole body grow cold.

“It’s not possible, you can’t love me,” Komaeda said, trying to shake free but Hinata just tightened his grip. “Please just take it back, you must be mistaken. It’s not too late yet, if you just say it was a mistake...”

Shut up! ” Hinata yelled, feeling his whole body tremble. If it had been just a simple rejection, it would be entirely different but… Komaeda was being so insensible that he didn’t even know what was so wrong anymore. “Just reject me, if it bothers you that much. But I’m not going to take it back, I finally managed to say it!” He could feel tears forming in his eyes and he bit on his lower lip, in hopes that it would somehow stop him from crying.

For a moment, Komaeda seemed to calm down - he was just staring at Hinata, like he was processing what he said. But just when Hinata was about to continue talking, the other began to laugh. In just a few seconds, that laugh broke out into hysteric cackling. Without even thinking, Hinata let go of Komaeda and took a few steps back as the other kept on laughing and laughing, the sound striking straight into the depths of Hinata’s mind and making him shiver in fear.

The laughter reminded him of her. He held on to the front of his shirt to forget that thought. He needed to focus on this situation, on the life he had now .

“Of course!” Komaeda wheezed in between of his laughter, his voice growing hoarse from the laughing. Hinata flinched a bit, waiting for what Komaeda was going to say next as he kept quietly giggling. “Of course my luck would ruin everything like this, now it’s just a matter of time when this all is taken from me, when something bad happens to you...”

Hinata felt his mind stop for a moment as he began to understand what Komaeda was saying.

“What… do you mean…? Does that mean you consider this good luck? Or bad luck?” he asked, and the other shook his head like he was trying to stop him. “Answer me! Which one is it?”

Of course it’s good luck! What else could it be, trash like me having his feelings returned?!” Komaeda yelled, desperation apparent in his voice. Hinata felt his heart stop at the answer. So… it wasn’t a rejection? But… “I’m so sorry, Hinata-kun. I’m so sorry, to have you fall victim to my luck as well… That’s why please, pull back your words. It’s just a mistake, you can’t truly love me. It has to be my luck forcing you to feel that way, otherwise… otherwise…”

Komaeda’s words kept falling out of Hinata’s comprehension. So it came back to the stupid luck again? That’s why Komaeda was so fiercely trying to force him to pull back his words?

“Are you fucking kidding me…,” he muttered before slamming his fist down on the table next to him. “What does it even matter at this point?! Everything will be over in two weeks anyways, so what difference does your fucking luck make?”

“No, you can’t, if you were to die before that time, if your hope would be destroyed by the likes of me and my cursed luck, I would…,” Komaeda protested, but shut up immediately when Hinata hit the table again. For a moment there was just a silence between them, as Hinata tried to fight back every word he wanted to say but wasn’t sure if he should. He wanted to yell and get upset but by now he knew that it wasn’t going to help anything.

“Give me… Give me your wallet,” he eventually said, staring at Komaeda who seemed shocked.

“Are you going to leave me?” His voice was trembling slightly, and Hinata quickly shook his head.

“No, idiot. I’m going outside to cool off, I’ll be back at some point,” he said and sighed in exhaustion. He really just wanted to get away from this situation to figure out his thoughts before he even tried to argue against the incomprehensible stuff Komaeda was trying to say. “And don’t follow me, okay?!”

“E-eh…” Komaeda seemed confused, like he hadn’t expected this reaction at all and like he wanted to protest. But despite that expression, he walked to his jacket and pulled out his wallet from there and handed it to Hinata. “B-but, what if something happens to you...”

“It’ll be alright,” Hinata cut him off quickly, giving him a glare. “I’m going to come back, and your luck won’t stop me from doing that.” Komaeda still seemed unsure, completely different from what he had been just a minute ago. It was… a bit jarring, how quickly he changed back to his usual self. His voice still a bit hoarse from the laughing, the only remnant left of what even had happened.

“See you later, feel free to go to sleep if you’re tired,” Hinata said, as he walked to his jacket to put it on without even closing it, and pushing his shoes on quickly before opening the door and walking out. He could hear Komaeda try to say something, but he ignored it completely and closed the door behind him. He just barely resisted slamming the door shut, out of consideration to the other people in the hotel, and marched off.

As soon as he got into the elevator, he sighed in relief. Just being alone in the elevator, with the quiet music to accompany him, he already felt calmer. This… this wasn’t really how he had expected his confession to go. Not at all. He had expected to feel awful after it, but this was just whole another level. He rubbed his face as he tried to register in all that had happened.

Komaeda liked him back. But he had still gotten rejected, on the basis of that awful luck he was tired of already. Perhaps it was him being reckless or feeling invincible, but he couldn’t really understand how something like that would risk his life. Apparently it had taken the lives of other people in Komaeda’s life before, but… Hinata just couldn’t comprehend that something like that would take his life.

He had so much still to do, after all. If anything, he was more worried for Komaeda himself, since he seemed to be teetering on the edge of living and dying with all these secret illnesses and constantly getting sick. He even looked like a ghost, with how pale he was…

But… he supposed he couldn’t deny the possibility of Komaeda’s luck doing something. Just what was he supposed to do… He felt like it wasn’t right to just give up and pull back what he said, but then again he really couldn’t afford to let Komaeda’s luck to do anything bad.

The elevator reached the bottom floor, and as he walked out he remembered it was in the middle of the night.


 

The bar was surprisingly quiet when Hinata walked in - it had been a bit out of the way of everything, and it seemed to be more of the type where lot of regulars gathered. But he preferred a place like this, with calm and quiet. He cautiously looked around in the shop as he entered, just to make sure there wasn’t… anything, he didn’t really know even what.

There was a couple sitting by one table and an old man by the counter sitting alone, but Hinata’s attention was drawn to a young woman who was sitting alone. She had long, black hair in drills and she was shuffling some playing cards. She seemed to sense Hinata looking at her, and gave him a questioning look. He just hurriedly looked elsewhere and walked to the counter.

“Welcome,” the young man tending the bar said as Hinata took a seat. “What would you want me to serve you?” Hinata flinched at the question. Of course he knew that he would have had to order something but he didn’t really know any of this beforehand. He had presumed there would be a list of things to choose from, but nothing like that was anywhere in sight.

He tried to seem like he was thinking about it, but either too much time passed between him saying something or the bartender realized he was at a loss, since he smiled softly at Hinata.

“Would you like something light?”

“Ah, yes,” Hinata answered quickly. The bartender asked him a few more questions, and made some small talk too. Hinata just sat there, feeling a bit flustered in comparison. But this kind of occurrence was probably something the bartender would be used to. It was relieving, to have someone carry on the conversation so smoothly...

Eventually the bartender placed a drink in front of him - they had been talking about the visit in the zoo for a while now, but now he returned to washing the dishes. Hinata looked around in the bar as he took his first sip - almost no one seemed interested in their conversation. The old man a few seats away from him was browsing something on his phone, and the couple by one of the tables was engrossed in their own conversation.

But when Hinata’s eyes wandered to the young woman with the cards, he couldn’t help but notice that she seemed to be paying attention to their conversation. And again, like she had sensed she was being looked at, she lifted her eyes to Hinata to meet his gaze right away. For a moment, there was something intimidating about her stare but then she suddenly flashed a wide smile.

“Good evening,” she said politely, and Hinata returned the greeting to her hesitantly. “Would you like to play a little game?” She nodded towards her cards.

“Ah, Celestia-san, are you going to gamble with my customers again?” the bartender immediately cut in, like this was an usual thing for him to nag about. The young woman gave a small, sophisticated laugh in response.

“Ah, I was just asking if he might want to play with me. It is up to him if he might want to gamble with me a little bit as we do, and it’s not a given he will lose either.” The bartender sighed at her light words.

“But with your luck…”

“Luck?” Hinata cut in, feeling bothered hearing that word in this context. The bartender was about to say something but Celestia interrupted whatever he was about to say by talking first.

“Yes, it seems I have been blessed with good luck for my whole life, and have never lost a game,” she said, smiling. There was something in her that seemed suspicious, but she also didn’t seem to be lying either. Hinata squinted at her. He had left the hotel to get away from Komaeda’s luck, only to meet someone claiming a similar thing… It was making him frustrated again.

“So you claim to have never lost due to your ‘luck’?” Hinata asked. He tried to keep it calm and not let his annoyance show, but it seemed like she picked up on it and smiled a bit.

“Oh? Would you like to test it?” she said, her voice still calm and polite but somehow Hinata felt like she was taunting him. “We can play a game to test it. We don’t even have to gamble, so you won’t lose anything even if I prove myself right.”

“No, let’s gamble,” Hinata said, picking up his drink and walking to her table. The bartender gave him a concerned look, but seemed to give up on trying to stop this from happening. Celestia began to shuffle the cards, and Hinata dug out Komaeda’s wallet from his pocket. There was quite a bit of cash in there, so he didn’t have to worry about it running out anytime soon.

Celestia seemed pleased as they began to negotiate about the sum they would bet on. Hinata ordered another drink while she began to deal the cards.


 

Eventually, an hour and a few drinks later, Hinata had already wasted all the cash there had been in the wallet. He had suspected Celestia of cheating somehow, and had even dealt the cards himself to counter that, but it hadn’t changed the results. Celestia was smiling, like she was taking pleasure in the situation.

“Goddamnit…,” Hinata muttered to himself as he threw his current cards to the table, leaning back on the seat. Really, if this had been just a regular card game, he wouldn’t have minded losing but somehow the fact that it was her ‘luck’ that he had lost again… frustrated him to no end. He didn’t even care about the money, compared to the amount of money Komaeda had in the bank this wasn’t really anything.

He rubbed his head. He had even won against Komaeda in the card games they had played before, so why he couldn’t win now? Had those victories been because of Komaeda’s bad luck then? Since from what Hinata had understood talking with Celestia over the games, she had mostly just good luck.

So was there really no way for him to affect Komaeda’s luck? Was he going to just back off after all that talk and determination he had had before.

He downed his glass as Celestia began to shuffle the cards again.

As if. Perhaps he really was reckless, or didn’t understand the severity of Komaeda’s luck - or perhaps he was just selfish. But he was going to have both: Komaeda, and his life and goals. He was going to achieve his plans without having to back out on any of his words. He had to reach his destination, and he was also going to keep true to himself.

He wasn’t going to accept this as fate.

“Let’s play one more game,” he said as he placed the wallet on the table. “If I lose, I’ll get out all the money I can from these credit cards and give it to you.“ Celestia seemed slightly surprised, before she regained her composure again.

“And if you win?”

“Then you pay for all my drinks from tonight.” There was really no need for him to get anything else: he didn’t really have a need to win more money. What he wanted was just to win.

Celestia laughed while covering her mouth.

“Making a lady pay for your drinks? Very well, let’s play one more game,” she said and began to deal the cards again. Hinata felt his heart poun