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Since That Morning

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“I don’t want to separate from you… I can’t do anything without you… I won’t know what to do anymore, and I’ll start crying in panic…”

Hajime realized he was already crying, quickly reaching to wipe his cheeks with his sleeves. He looked down at his lap, wondering if he said too much already.

Tomoya reached out, fingers lightly against Hajime’s knee, “Come on, don’t cry Hajime.”

Hajime forced himself to look up, and was able to find comfort in the empathy in Tomoya’s face. It’s something he’s always loved about his best friend, how he never just listens to, but understands Hajime. Hajime accepted a long time ago that he was slower than everyone else, that as he grew up he’d have to deal with his peers moving on without him, and he’d have to learn how to deal with everything on his own.

Meeting Tomoya changed that. Meeting someone who was more than happy to slow down, let Hajime breathe and be comfortable even if it slowed Tomoya down with him was a blessing for Hajime.

Hajime had always been very attached to Tomoya, his parents would joke that he was codependent even, but how could he help it? Then the race at school happened, Hajime remembered being certain that he’d be left behind again before being ridiculed when he would be forced to cross the line far behind the others.

Tomoya wouldn’t let him carry that burden by himself. Like every other aspect in their lives, Tomoya stayed by Hajime. They both probably looked so dumb finishing so late, a look Tomoya could have totally avoided, but instead he chose to stay with Hajime.

Hajime loved him. He’d always felt so close to Tomoya, so warm around him, but since that day he knew it was love. He always tried to express his love the best he could, treating Tomoya to tea and sweets and flowers, holding his hand when they walked together, trying his hardest to get better and better, to catch up so that Tomoya doesn’t have to wait for him anymore. All to work up to the day he’d let Tomoya know how he’s felt since that day.

It all came to this; they had a fight. No matter how hard Hajime tried to comply with everything and anything Tomoya wanted up until that day, he got mad at him when Tomoya didn’t comply with Hajime. It was selfish, but after so long of accepting whatever came his way to become the best idol he could be, it was frustrating when it felt like Tomoya of all people wanted to stop him in his tracks. He didn’t want Tomoya to let go of his hand and run ahead, but Hajime didn’t want to do the same to him.

It didn’t matter anymore; the job, who’s in front of who, or whatever was going to happen at the Halloween party. Hajime’s head had been in chaos the last few days, like how it was when he was alone on the race track, before Tomoya came to save him.

In case it ever happened again, in case the two-way road they were bound to face came sooner than expected, he needed to let Tomoya know how he felt. He could manage it all these years, but he was finally at a bursting point, he had to know what Tomoya felt too.

He gave a small smile at Tomoya, who asked him to stop crying for probably the millionth time in the past few years, “Okay. If I ever do something wrong, please scold me like you did just now. Please, just be close enough that I can hear you say it… It doesn’t matter which of our hands is doing the pulling, as long as it’s your hand in mine.” He inhaled a shaky breath, “Please, I’m begging you, Tomoya-kun… I love you.”

The words came out without a second thought, free to do so after being forced to hide for so long. His stomach felt unbearably tight as he waited for Tomoya to respond, but all Hajime was met with when he looked at him was Tomoya staring at him with wide eyes. He wondered if he had startled him too much, if Tomoya was going to end it right here.

“Why are you staring at me?” Hajime asked, hoping his voice didn’t give away how scared he felt, “Is my hair messed up?”

Tomoya blinked before shaking his head, “…Nah. I was just thinking how nice it would’ve been if you were a girl.”

Hajime wasn’t sure what to make of that response, “Huh?! Am I not good enough as a boy?”

“No, it’s fine that you are… But if you were a girl, then even though it’s not what you meant, I could’ve mistaken what you said as something else….”

“Mistaken what I…?” The realization hit Hajime hard. Tomoya responded so indifferently, and Hajime knew in an instant Tomoya didn’t feel even a shred of what he himself had been dealing with for almost three years.

He couldn’t elaborate anymore, couldn’t risk scaring Tomoya away forever after having already come so close to losing him. He cleared his throat, “No! I just meant as a friend! I love you as a friend!”

“Yeah,” Tomoya smiled, and him and Hajime continued talking like nothing happened.

Hajime did his best to listen and respond, despite his chest tightening and his face burning. His eyes hurt, as happy as he was that Tomoya would stay his friend, he really wished he could leave right now.

They made up, even shook on it for whatever reason, “Well,” Tomoya said, “I guess I should get ready, huh? Have we had breakfast yet?”

“No,” Hajime told him, “Why don’t you go ahead? I’ll catch up~”

“Alright,” Tomoya nodded, standing up, “Don’t take too long, I’m sure Nii-chan’s already wondering where we are.”

“Yeah, I’ll be right out, Tomoya-kun.” Hajime said, watching as Tomoya gathered his things to get ready for the day.

Almost as soon as the door shut Hajime let out a sob before breaking down completely. He buried his face in his hands, devastated by Tomoya’s response.

To pour his heart out and just be dismissed like that broke his heart far more than rejection ever could. He didn’t even know why, wasn’t that what he wanted? For things to go back to the way they were?

That’s what he tried telling himself, but he knew why it hurt. He wanted him, and loved relishing in the idea that Tomoya might want him too. Now it was absolute that that could never be true, to the point where Tomoya wouldn’t ever even consider it.

He wiped at his face, realizing he can’t stay here and cry forever. His unit mates and friends were waiting for him after all, he should really join everyone at breakfast before someone comes to check on him. He took in a shaky breath, steeling himself to get up and leave the room.

He walked over several futons before suddenly tripping over the last one in the row. He caught himself on his hands before his face hit the ground, hoping he didn’t yell too loudly. When he looked back, he saw there was a lump under the blanket moving around.

“H-Huh?” He sat up, looking closely at it. He crawled to it but stopped in his tracks when a head popped out.

“T-Takamine-kun!?” Hajime gasped, “You’re still here?”

“U-Uh…” Midori stared at him, dumbfounded, “I was, um, sleeping in.”

“Oh,” Hajime said, “So you were asleep the whole time…”

“...Yeah.”

“...”

“Okay, I heard everything,” Midori sighed, sitting up, “I, uh, always knew you and Mashiro-kun were really close, but I wasn’t sure if you liked him like that…”

“I have for a while,” He confessed, “We’ve always been so close, sometimes it felt like he might feel the same way. But when I confessed that I loved him, he didn’t even consider it was anything but friendship.”

“Yeah, that was kind of mean of him.” Midori said.

“I-It’s fine, isn’t it?” Hajime said sadly, “He likes girls, after all, and we’ve been best friends for so long...It’d be weird to change that now, I didn’t even think about it.”

“He could have just said no instead of pretending like it didn’t happen,” Midori sighed, “I guess it’s not my business though. Um…Sorry for eavesdropping, I really didn’t mean to, I didn’t wanna interrupt.”

“I-It’s fine, but can you not tell anyone this happened?” Hajime asked, “If Tomoya-kun wants things to stay the way they are, then people probably shouldn’t know about this…”

“You’re really selfless, huh Shino-kun?” Midori commented, “Of course I won’t tell anyone, it’d be a bother anyway if people came to me because they think I have gossip.”

“Thank you, Takamine-kun!” Hajime said, “I’m gonna go wash my face, you probably shouldn’t keep the others waiting either.”

“Yeah,” He said, “Um, I know this kind of thing is hard, I wish I could help more...But if you’re still really upset about it…”

“It’s fine, Takamine-kun,” Hajime told him, “This is my problem, not yours. I’ll get over it, and me and Tomoya-kun can continue like we always have. If it’s his hand in mine, I don’t care if he likes me or not, I’m just glad he’s there.”

“If you say so.” Midori said, stretching before taking the covers off, “I’m glad you and Mashiro-kun could make up, the tension was really weird.”

“Me too~” Hajime chirped, getting up and saying goodbye to Midori before exiting the room.

Midori looked down at his phone, scrolling through the thread of messages he and Tetora had sent back and forth as the scene between Hajime and Tomoya unfolded. He sighed, tapping at the keyboard.

Hey Tetora-kun, this might go without saying, but make sure you keep this to yourself