Ryo, only eight years old, had only recently learned about love. He had always known about the idea; he had seen couples holding-hands as they walked down the street, or kissing where they thought nobody was looking. He had read of it in books and poetry and seen it on television. It wasn't a foreign concept, he just didn't get it. Not until a certain boy took his hand, at least.
He had thought he was sick. He told Jenny he wasn't feeling well.
"What's the matter?" She'd asked him. Ryo wasn't sure. All he knew was that when he saw Akira he felt a strange warmth, like somebody had taken the sun and shined it right in his face. And when Akira spoke, Ryo's heart sped-up like when they ran together. And when he saw Akira cry, he wanted to find the source of his sadness and bash it with a hammer. And when Akira hugged him, he felt so safe and happy and very, very confused.
Jenny had told him not to worry, that it would pass. Ryo wasn't so sure. It had been months, which is an eternity for a child, and he still felt warm around Akira. His overwhelming urge to protect Akira hadn't budged either. When some stupid kids stole Akira's shoes, Ryo had kicked one in the stomach, punched another in the face, bashed the other's face into a table, taken Akira's shoes back and stole all of their shoes to give to Akira.
Akira was the most precious thing in Ryo's life. Something he would do anything for.
"I would kill for you, Akira."
They were laying on their hill. The hill about a twenty-minute walk away from the Makimura household, where they always went to watch the stars. Akira hadn't fully comprehended Ryo's statement, and began spouting off about frogs or something. Not that he was dumb, by any means, he just had grown accustomed to Ryo's odd sayings and such. It didn't faze him anymore.
Ryo wasn't sure exactly when he realized he loved Akira. There was no grand epiphany, just a subtle wave gradually washing over him. When he thought about it, his stomach felt strange. Not exactly butterflies, more like someone was tying knots with his intestines, but it wasn't painful, not physically, at least. His mind was a different story. He hated the way he felt. He thought it was wrong. Akira was pure, like a white-light. Ryo didn't know why, but he felt like he would taint him.
His emotions made him want to scream, but he also felt like he never wanted to make any sound, for fear of attracting attention. He had never been shy, but he felt like he had a horrible secret. So he did what would eventually lead to the downfall of himself and the one person he wanted to protect. He repressed his feelings.