This was it.
It took a lot of searching, threatening, and persuasion, but he had found the abandoned warehouse where his childhood best friend was (hopefully) hiding in. It was off a hidden back road, secluded by an ancient forest that buzzed and swayed around him. There was a strange weight in the pit of his stomach, and he didn't understand why. Was he nervous?
He didn't get nervous.
Though he would never admit it, that explanation seemed to fit.
He started down the clearing, head swiveling around to ensure he wasn't being followed. One can never be too careful. Cautiously, ever so slowly, he opened the old metal door, reddened by rust.
The building had a high ceiling lines with several windows, or what remained of them, through which white sunlight was streaming through, particles of dust seemingly dancing in its glare. He continued into the center of the structure. In the corner were three backpacks accompanied by what seemed to be two makeshift beds, or rather nest-like piles of blankets and clothes on the concrete floor.
Suddenly, he heard a loud squeak and then a thud, and no sooner than he pivots to face the door does he see him, and no sooner than it registers he is bolting towards him at mach speed and pulling him in close in a tight hug.
"Kei!" He laughs, a sound Kei himself had missed immensely.
Slowly, he brought his arms up around Kai to return the hug. This felt... Right, somehow. This felt good.
Pulling away, Kai offered his friend a warm smile, the kind imbued with the light of the sun itself. The kind only Kai could produce. Kei has never realized how much he missed that smile.
"What are you doing here? How- How did you find me?"
Kei didn't answer. Instead he looked the blond up and down, observing how... Thin he had become, and how his bleached hair was growing back in dark brown.
He looked sick.
With a deadpan expression, the dark-haired boy finally spoke up.
"How much have you been eating, Kai?"
" Whatever Kotobuki and I can afford. He had some friends that gave us some cash, but other than that we've had to live off of rabbits and such. "
Even though he was already a delinquent, he wasn't willing to steal. Same old Kai. Knowing Kotobuki, he was probably stealing for Kaito behind his back. He almost chuckled.
Again he asked, "why are you here?"
Kei was still silent because, to be honest, he didn't know.
He didn't know and that scared him.
Maybe curiosity. Maybe regret. Maybe... He just wanted to see him again? No. Kei Nagai did not have feelings. He didn't owe anyone anything, and he most certainly did not have a crush on his childhood best friend.
Feelings were never something the red-eyed boy was very good with. He had always done his best to remain closed off, to distance himself from everything and everyone that deep down he really cared about. Like... Like Kai. And here he was, in all his radiant glory. He's been running his whole life, albeit now literally more than emotionally. And he has decided the second he returned to help Tosaki that he was done running.
"Kei?" The blond's voice snapped him back to reality.
Then, abandoning all reason, Kei took a leap of faith. Closing the gap between them, he pressed his lips to Kai's in a soft kiss. Kai was visibly shocked at first, but before the shorter boy could pull away and apologize, he was kissing back and snaking his arms around him. It was a pure, yet passionate thing that was so simple, yet conveyed everything they both felt during their separation; everything they both never said.
It grew more desperate as the two boys held each other close, fingers tangled in hair, as if they would never see each other again, as if if they let go the other would disappear. When they finally parted, messy hair, wide eyes, and open mouths, breathless and panting, all they did was stare into each other's eyes for a few seconds before Kei pulled the taller boy back in for a tight embrace.
"I'm never leaving you again," he breathed. " Never, " he repeated before diving in for another quick, breathless kiss. Kai did nothing but laugh his angelic, wholesome laugh and kiss back.
The only sounds were the wind in the trees, the occasional giggle, and lips crashing together, again and again, pausing for breath in between. Kai smiled into the kiss, and surprisingly, Kei found himself smiling back. He could stay like this forever, he thought, before it hit him everything he'd put Kai through. Said boy noticed his best friend's smile falter, and with knitted eyebrows asked, "what's wrong?"
Looking anywhere but at him, he stuttered a bit before answering.
"I'm sorry, Kai. I'm so sorry for abandoning you, for putting you through that, all for my own sake. You didn't deserve that and... And I don't deserve you. That's what I came here to say." Shoulders hunched and looking at the ground, he turned as if to leave before hands grabbed his shoulders and forced him to face the golden-eyed boy.
"Kei," he said, with a somewhat stern face. But then it softened.
"I forgive you."
On the verge of tears, Kei pulls him in for another tight hug.
"Thank you," he choked out. " I love you. "
That wasn't meant to slip out, but his anxiety was alleviated when Kai's soft voice replied,
"I love you too, Kei Nagai."