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New Friend and Gentle Smile

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Hospital sucks.

Not only that his grandma can’t visit him that often, he has to share the room with two other boys his age who are both equally rude.

The boy beside him looks kinda cool with bruises covering his face and body. But then when he asked that boy about it, that boy said he just let the other party hit him without punching them back. You should punch them back when they punch you, that’s for sure. He, for one, would definitely pay them back if someone had hit him and wouldn’t let them get away with it. When he tried to talk more to that boy, he got ignored. Okay, that’s the first rude boy.

Then the second boy is one with slit eyes in front of him who won’t even answer when he calls, his eyes are glued to the book in hand. When people call you, you answer, that’s what his mother taught him. After a moment, he realises that boy is most likely the son of that famous local brewer. Everyone knows him, and he had probably seen him a few times before. Having that boy in the same room is like sharing the room with a celebrity. Ah, no wonder he doesn’t even want to answer him, he’s a celebrity.

His first day almost went by just with a few small exchanges with the boy beside him and the doctor’s son who visited once at noon. Both his roommates don't want to talk to him and he’s bored. Bored. Bored.

This sucks.

The illusions he saw before getting admitted to the hospital crosses his mind and he lights up. Maybe they’ll be interested in hearing his story about that. And so, he turns to the boy with bruises beside him and starts telling his story.

About the kappa he saw from the bridge. How it talks funny and looks even funnier.

Sadly, that boy doesn’t seem to be interested. That boy just sighs and looks annoyed, before turning away. The only time he sees that boy lights up is when that doctor’s son visits. Are they friends?

Having given up from having a good time while being hospitalised, he leans back to his bed. And only then he realises the celebrity boy has been listening to his story about his illusion. His mouth hangs open and that boy’s been looking at him with expectant eyes. When their eyes meet, that boy flinches and quickly closes his mouth, wiping off the drool that may or may not be there. With a swift move, that boy pulls up the blanket and hides under it.

Is he being shy?

But not even a moment passes before that boy peeks from under his blanket and finally speaks to him. His voice is soft and gentle, “i-it’s a very weird story. Like drinking ramune and holding them in your mouth, but then you tripped and they spilled from your mouth.”

Okay!

He blinks a few times and tilts his head. He doesn’t really get it, but it sounds gross.

But that boy was clearly shining when he caught him listening just now, so he decides that probably means that boy likes what he hears. And so he grins widely, showing his teeth, “mm-hm!”

He crawls to the edge of his bed and sits there with his legs folded.

“Hey, tell me your name. Mine’s Mizumori Tama.”

That boy finally pulls down his blanket and sits upright, he adjusts the pillow to act as a cushion behind his back since his leg is still hoisted up. That boy gives him a smile again; which he has to admit he likes, and now he wants to see it more. No one around him has a smile as gentle as that boy’s, not even his grandma.

“Suizenji Minato,” that boy responds shyly.

Minato.

Minato. He repeats it a few times. And he even likes how that name rolls off from his tongue. “I’ll call you Minato, since your family name sounds way too stiff,” he grins wide, “let’s be good friends, Minato-kun!”

That boy flinches again after hearing his name being called so casually by him. Of course he would, they’re basically strangers and he’s already acting like they’re good friends.

For the rest of the day, he tells more and more stories about his illusions to that boy. Each and every time, that boy would listen intently to his stories and acts like it’s the best story he has ever heard.

The next morning, he immediately gets up and looks over to that boy. When he sees that boy already awake, once again, he grins and greets that boy good morning.

The doctor’s son comes to visit again and this time he is in the room while he tells his stories. He pays attention to his stories, but never comments on anything.

That noon, his fever has gone down so he is getting discharged.

Right before leaving, he runs to that boy’s bed and whispers loudly in his ears, “I’ll come visit!”

That boy only smiles in response.

He spends the next few days visiting that boy and telling him stories about his illusions. But one day, he wakes up with realisation.

He opens his eyes wide that morning, and sits upright on his futon. His hair and yukata are both messy, but he doesn’t really care about them. “Oh no,” he says to himself, “I’m out of illusions to tell him.”

He walks back and forth in his room until his grandma comes into his room. After telling her about what’s bothering him, his grandma smiles and softly pats his hair.

“If you’re out of stories to tell him, why not make one yourself?”

Make one yourself.

Make one.

Make stories.

Great idea, grandma!

Then, he sets off immediately after saying thanks to her and runs to the hospital. His feet bring him to his old room and he opens the door wide. The nurses complain about him running around the hallway but he doesn’t care. He has a story to tell.

That boy is still in the same condition as the day he is discharged. His leg doesn’t seem to recover yet. So he runs to that boy’s bed, taking a seat at the edge of that big bed.

And starts his story.

It’s a story he thought up as he ran his way here.

It’s his first story.

There are some parts where he stumbled but that boy doesn’t seem to mind. That boy seems to be enjoying his story nonetheless, so it’s okay. He nods along the sentences and his mouth hangs open from concentration again. His expression changes along with the flow of the story.

He enjoys it.

He enjoys it so much. This moment. Seeing that boy’s changing expression just from his story. His story holds that much power. His story could make this boy’s eyes lit up in excitement, make his shoulder tense and his fist clench from the mystery.

And at the end of the story, that boy smiles widely and exhales in satisfaction.

It’s amusing.

He never thought making stories would be this fun.

He wants to make more stories, and tell them. More and more.

Even after that boy is discharged and they can’t meet every day. He would write down his stories. It doesn’t even matter if his handwriting is ugly, as long he can see that boy’s smiling face as he reads his story.

That’s good enough for him.