Hiding in the library, as clever as it sounded, was never a good experience for Toono.
Since he came to this school, he had developed the need to get away from the snickering girls and violent boys - he never really understood how they chose who deserved to be made the class’ punchbag but he also got tired of asking questions instead of running as fast as he could.
It was in one of those moments of desperation that he had found a part of the building that was almost never visited and had, without thinking, entered the considerably large room in search of the perfect spot for his small, scrawny body to fit in; finding the in between of the furthest bookshelves was another lucky strike, to which he was grateful for since then. They were never able to find him there.
But still, he never came to the place because he enjoyed reading or found the inconsistent silence - minimally interrupted by the various sounds the librarian made throughout the hours - relaxing; there were always tears in his eyes, that he couldn’t stop from running down his flushed cheeks. In fact, he hated everything about the place: the cold floor in which he had to seat on, the harsh lights that made everything look so devoid of color, the dust that danced around him whenever he accidentally bumped into the old hard copies of dictionaries he wouldn’t ever read.
And now he hated the whole school.
“Toono-kun?” - he froze. Nobody ever seemed to come there, why now? Was this some kind of punishment from the universe? Couldn’t they leave him alone?!
The voice was a bit distant, so he curled up as tight as he could and prayed that his classmate would think it was too much trouble for someone like him, as the others often do; step by step, he could feel his muscles hurt from how tense he got. He felt like he could throw up his own heart, since it now came up to his throat. If he was found, his perfect spot was gone.
Suddenly, there was a boy looking at him and his vision got blurred all over again. Despite his best attempts to not let his tears fall, to put up some of the bravery he never had, his lips trembled as the boy came closer to him with a frown. Please, don’t-
“Don’t cry, please! I don’t like when you do that…” - he didn’t open his eyes to see the other boy’s face, but the tone he heard was sad. He turned his cheek, refusing to give in and be fooled again. A sigh was all he got in response.
There was the sound of someone sitting on the floor rather carelessly before the other boy spoke again. - “I’m in your class, though we never talked too much… I’m Kashima Yuu.” - there was awkwardness in his presentation, and against his own instincts Toono opened one of his eyes to look at the other. He was… looking down his lap while scratching the back of his neck. Embarrassed?
He recognized the name. Kashima Yuu was a tall, tanned boy with unruly dark hair and grey eyes that wasn’t as loud as the boys that hated Toono but managed to smile for the smallest of reasons from what he knew. They never talked, but Kashima had once smiled at him when giving him a paper the teacher had asked to be passed around and it had made Toono blink in surprise, not able to smile back before the boy turned back to his seat.
Toono lifted his head a bit, green eyes peeking at the figure in front of him. - “I know.”
That response made the other boy immediately look at him again, a radiant smile coming with its full force. He seemed happy? - “Y-you do? Ah, I’m glad then.”
Toono blinked, confused beyond anything else. Kashima was… weird. He didn’t want to bring any attention to himself and Kashima though, so he didn’t think he could tell the other to leave. Maybe Kashima wouldn’t go even if he told him to. - “Why are you here?”
Kashima frowned, which made Toono nervous until he noticed the other was also pouting. - “Why are you whispering?”
Because our classmates want to beat me , he wanted to say in the most deadpanned tone he could muster. But Kashima cut him to it.
“If it’s about… they won’t come after you. Not today.” - Kashima’s smile was gentle, but his eyes talked seriously. Toono wanted to believe it.
But he couldn’t. - “How are you so sure?”
“I punched them until they left.”
When he said it, Kashima made it sound easy but Toono’s eyes widened in disbelief. There were at least four boys after him, it wasn’t realistic… then he noticed Kashima’s bruised hands, resting calmly on his lap, and the subtle cuts above his eyebrow and left cheek. His lower lip had been bleeding, but Toono failed to notice it until now and his hand automatically untangled itself from his defensive pose to take out the piece of green, soft fabric he carried around in his pocket to press it against the cut - an impulse that he didn’t want to overthink.
Kashima stared at him like Toono himself looked at fireworks. It made him blush. - “T-thank you. I was… scared. I can’t fight against them when I’m just…”
Toono didn’t dare. He couldn’t lose Kashima too.
“It’s okay, Toono-kun.” - the other boy comforted him, making him freeze at the hand that suddenly messed with his light brown hair. - “Some boys are just too pretty to fight, right? I can do it for you.”
Kashima’s smile was so bright, Toono almost felt himself warm up by looking at it.
“And then, I proceeded to make my words count… for two whole days.” - the man joked, making the small group of people around the table to laugh, even though he had told the same fantastic story countless times; always with the same enthusiasm, smiling to the disapproving and yet amused man at his side who he has come to call by many terms - the most recent of those being ‘husband’.
Rolling his green eyes, Toono took the microphone from his husband’s enormous hand to add his own commentary like he had been doing for the past twenty minutes. - “While scaring me to death by fainting all over me! The way Rizuku-sensei looked at me when he finally found out why there was a kid screaming for help at the top of their lungs…” - Toono winced, remembering the mortifying embarrassment of being found underneath an unconscious Kashima.
His senpais, those bastards, almost choked on their drinks while dying of laughter.
But before he could threaten to shut them up with his own hands, he felt one of those favorites of his make its way around his back to grip his waist and gently pull him closer until he relented with a small sigh, allowing himself to rest against Kashima’s side. He was getting more and more tired as the hours passed, but at the same time he knew that the sight of Kashima in his wedding suit, with his tie loosened up and buttons undone, could keep him on his feet for as long as they needed.
He smiled when his adorably cheesy husband covered the hand holding the microphone with his own, bringing it closer to continue. There was a pout on his perfectly kissable lips. - “Then, Takashi left school and I missed his company for years. Like half of my heart suddenly gained wings and fled, far away from me…” - he paused, taken back to the days he as a boy wondered where the prettiest boy he ever met had gone. How was he?
A kiss on his cheek was all he needed to be brought back, making his face warm up in a soft shade of pink. Toono was never the type to be affectionate in public, and it made Kashima’s heart race; when his lover felt safe and happy enough to not care so much about it. He had found his pretty boy a long time ago. - “But as they say, if you love someone… let them go.”
It was still surreal, for the both of them, how little everything mattered when their eyes met; surrounded by the eccentric senpais they had met in high school, Kashima’s large and supporting family and Toono’s parents in a beautifully decorated afterparty that matched their favorite kinds of flowers with the hanging of their polaroids - Kashima would only have eyes for the subtle roundness of Toono’s jawline and how delicate were the hands that wore the pair to his own silver band, both clicking as they met. Toono’s usual lack of focus vanished whenever he took a moment to notice the faint freckles spread unevenly on Kashima’s nose and prone to blushing cheeks.
Toono couldn’t believe Kashima’s romantic bullshit had made its way into his heart to never leave. All he could do was smile, glad that it did.
“And if they love you back, they’ll find you again.”