It all began when he met him. Over time it became clear they were on the same wavelength and pretty much in sync on everything. The dynamic duo – PBG and Jeff.
Or so he thought, until he coughed up white petals nine months ago. At first, Jeff couldn’t believe it, when he saw a few of those in his palm.
The question was – his unrequited love – who was it? He didn’t even realize he was in love.
Time Skip 9 months
A new girl who transferred into Asagao Academy got a lot of attention. It wasn’t just because of her pink hair, she was cheerful and outgoing. Jeff wasn’t the only one who liked those traits in people, as was seen later when the girl, Hana befriended the Normal Boots.
Hana grew close to one of his best friends, which was... mildly concerning. Jeff vividly remembered when Peebs told him Hana is his childhood friend and he loved her since they were little kids. Something painful knotted up inside him; he felt light headed, but tried to appear happy for PBG’s sake.
“That’s great! You can resume your friendship where you left it off.”
PBG scratched his chin and his face was flushed as if he ran a marathon. “Well, you see I’m going to Flower Festival with her. As a r- romantic interest. It’s a date.”
Oh. A date.
That’s when his condition showed its thorns and he excused himself, running to the nearest toilet to throw up those petals. He retched violently into the sink and the sight was somewhat out of horror. The white petals were mixed with red, which he recognized as blood upon feeling the iron taste in his mouth.
His condition got a lot worse. Jeff now fully understood who was the cause of this. He loved PBG, but his love won’t be reciprocated now that Hana’s in the picture.
So this is what having a broken heart felt like.
Jeff cleaned up the mess he made, leaving for his dorm room. Hopefully Ian won’t be around, he couldn’t handle these emotions. He felt like crying until he ran out of tears and became dull to the world. Maybe that would make this disease go away.
He didn’t look at faces, it all became a blur to him; a swirl of faces as he dejectedly dragged his feet to his room. He went in and sunk on his bed, where he let loose of his bottled up feelings.
This helplessness was devastating; there was nothing he could do. Upon learning whom he loved, that person was whisked away by another person.
It’s not fair. Now I can’t even confess, since I know he loves Hana.
Jeff let those silent tears fall, sobbing quietly into his pillow, which was getting soaked. But he didn’t care for anything at the moment.
He smacked into the pillow and sheets a few times in frustration, his despair getting deeper and deeper.
Why did it have to be Peebs of all people. The one who was like my brother.
The hushed sobbing went on until he truly ran out of tears, emptying out his heart, only feelings left were dullness and tiredness.
He stirred on the bed, taking a look around his room. The room was encased in semi – darkness. He must have missed dinner. A bright light shone directly at him. Jeff tried to cover his tear – stained face and puffy eyes, but Ian’s stoic face stared him down with a frown.
Ian held up his phone, using the flashlight on it. He shook head. “Jeff, you look horrible. What happened?” He cut to the chase, expecting answer from the heartbroken boy.
“What happened? I got my heart broken and I’m coughing up bloody petals.”
Ian stood up, crossed the room in three long steps and hugged him on the bed, trying to comfort. “Oh Jeff...”
Drained of energy, he bitterly laughed. “I missed my chance. I missed my chance and now I’m afraid to face him.”
His friend raised a brow at that. It was another guy? But who could it be? “Who is it?” He asked, knowing he won’t probably get an answer.
“It doesn’t matter, he’s happy and that’s what matters.”
Ian scoffed. “Now you’re spouting bullshit. Show a bit of your selfish side for once! Confess and maybe it’ll turn out good.”
“It won’t turn out good.” Jeff spoke softly, when that feeling came up again. He abruptly pushed Ian off and he coughed up the evidence of his illness.
His friend came up to him and patted his back, unsure what to do or say; he never met a person with this rare disease before. But if it was truly as hopeless as Jeff made it out, he should get rid of it.
“Jeff, since when did you show symptoms?”
He threw the petals into the bin and wiped his palms into his pants. Jeff didn’t want to answer, since he felt like a big fool now, for keeping it secret from his friends, especially Ian. But, at least one person ought to know. He glanced at Ian’s feet, unable to handle the mother – hen gaze. “Nine months. I learned only today who it was I loved. And today was the first time I threw up blood.”
“Nine months!? NINE MONTHS!?? ARE YOU CRAZY? YOU CAN DIE FROM THAT!!” Ian’s usual composure was gone and he became vocal with his worrying. He realized he raised his voice and apologized.
“I know I’m an idiot. Hopelessly stuck on a love that will never work out. We’ll never be together.”
“Jeff, it’s getting too dangerous. You have to go to surgery. As soon as possible.”
He stood there, like a lost child left in the rain. “I can’t do that. I’ll lose more than the love, I’ll lose all the memories I made with that person. It was like he and I never met. If I go and have that surgery done; after that we’ll meet and I won’t recognize him. At all. It’s... horrible.”
Ian tried to reason with him. “It’s better than dying! Jeff, listen to me! You can’t do this, this pain is consuming your from inside out. The sooner you get rid of it, the better!”
“I’ll think about it.” Jeff’s tone was definitive, ending the discussion. Ian sighed, knowing there was no persuading him. At least not now. “Fine. I guess you want to keep it between us?”
“You’re impossible. If I find who the guy is, I’m making him take a look at the picture of misery standing beside me and telling him it’s his fault for causing you so much pain.”
“No, it’s not his fault. If someone’s at fault here, it’s me. He deserves better.”
“Really? Is that your disease speaking or your severely impaired rationality?”
Jeff plopped down on his bed, laying on stomach. “Both probably. I’m sorry, but would you mind bunking up with someone else tonight? I want to be alone.”
Ian crossed his arms defiantly, but his thoughts of protesting ceased when he saw Jeff’s face. “Alright, I’ll do what you want, but only tonight.” He grabbed his phone and at the door, he threw one last glance at his friend who just blankly stared at the wall.
He left, shutting the door with a thud. Jeff switched to lay on his side, the numbness consumed him. There were only two options. Suffer a horrible death... or get surgery done. He didn’t want to die, there was so much more he wanted to achieve in life, to see with his own eyes.
How much more until the disease claims him...?
Jeff’s phone buzzed, indicating he received a text message. Apathetically, he clicked into his feed.
PBG – Jeff, I hope you’re okay now. Is your stomach upset? Must be from the stress you’re under. Remember to take it easy and relax sometimes. Gotta go, I’m live on PB&J! :D
He turned off his phone and stood up to lock the door. He laid back on bed with a lot on mind.
Ian was right, it had to be done. No regrets. He has one last talk with PBG tomorrow and then....
I won’t remember him. I will hurt him indirectly when he meets ‘me’ after the operation.
Another wave of sadness rushed him.
I’ll say my final goodbye.
When he gazed at his mirror reflection the next day, he looked as bad as he felt, if not worse. Over night, he packed most of his essentials and the suitcase now stood in the left corner of dorm room like a grim reminder that he has to leave for a while.
There was no point postponing the inevitable. Jeff only changed clothes, shedding off his Hidden Block yellow & black jacket, leaving it slung over his chair.
Jeff had no appetite, but he headed towards cafeteria anyway. PBG would be there.
He entered and spotted him sitting at Normal Boots table, only ones there with him were Satch and Shane. And of course, his club was there, too at the usual table. With a weary smile he approached the table, and all conversations ceased.
“Why do you have casual clothes on? Where’s your uniform?”
“I’m leaving today. Ian will tell you more. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks. I’m sorry...” He bowed and his friends gaped at him, shocked and at loss at words. Ian, however knew a bit more and he had that look of deep understanding.
Now, there was only one matter, he turned on heel and strut to Normal Boots table. Jeff patted him on shoulder to get his attention. PBG looked up from his plate. “Jeff?”
“Can we talk somewhere private?”
PBG’s expression turned from worried to serious, as he nodded and abandoned the table, walking behind Jeff who had to remind himself to put one foot in front of another to keep walking.
Jeff led him to the theater. PBG would lie if he wasn’t intrigued why he wanted to talk in private and in such a desolate location, but he followed after his friend.
PBG shut the door and Jeff halted, standing near the stage. Peebs closed the distance, troubled by Jeff’s odd behavior. “I can feel something’s wrong. Also why aren’t you wearing your school uniform?” He asked.
“I’m not wearing the uniform because I’m leaving. I’ve had the Hanahaki Disease for a while now, but yesterday it got ten times worse. I need to get the surgery done.”
I won’t remember you at all.
PBG heard of that before, but he never thought a close friend would be afflicted. “So that’s why you run yesterday, to... uh... throw up petals...?”
His throat tightened, so he simply nodded. PBG raised a hand, reaching for him, but retreated in the last second. Somehow, he felt the last thing Jeff wanted now from his was empathy.
“But, why are you telling me this?”
Because I love you so damn much it’s killing me.
“You’re my best friend, I thought you should know.” Jeff lied, avoiding PBG’s gaze intentionally.
To his surprise, Peebs wrapped his arms around him and Jeff barely contained his tears.
Don’t cry. Don’t cry...
He wished he could stay in his arms forever, but he had to face the reality; which was he’ll always be a friend. Nothing more. But, just for this moment, just this one last time...
Let me enjoy this moment.
Jeff rested his head on PBG’s shoulder, while the other boy patted his back rather awkwardly. “Is it really that bad? Do you have to leave? Flower Festival is tomorrow...”
“The more I wait, the more I risk it getting worse. I need to book an appointment.” Jeff muttered into his shoulder. “I... I understand. But who is the girl you like? She must be blind not to love you back.”
He chuckled at the irony. “Let’s just say it wasn’t gonna work out between us.” Jeff pried himself off from his chest, turning his back on him.
His knew very well this was the last goodbye. Jeff strut to the theater entrance, he balled up his fists, nails digging into his palms.
“Jeff!” Peebs yelled out when his hands were on the door handle. In that split second, he almost believed it would have a different ending. The desperation in PBG’s voice did a number with his heart.
Cocking head to the side, he got to see him with tears dripping down his cheeks. “Will you be alright after that?”
You dummy, don’t cry or else I’ll cry, too.
Jeff pulled up one his best goofy grins. “Don’t worry about me, I’ll probably be fine.” He sighed, looking outside the door he just opened wide.
It was so sunny and bright.
Goodbye Peebs. I know Hana will make you happy.
He walked out and felt this bittersweet feeling envelop around him as he walked back to Bluebell, tears he didn’t even bother hiding flowed out on their own.
On the train, he wiped his face clean and called his parents, informing them of the situation.
After all that was done, he was exhausted and let the train lull him along.
~ THE END ~