Things would be different today.
Mondo wouldn’t get to walk his best friend to their first class like usual. He had almost skipped, but part of him told him he had to come.
Maybe he just wanted to see him.
The biker ignored the chatter throughout the halls, and didn’t bother with any apologies as he bumped into some of the other students.
He hated them anyways.
He made his way to his own locker and opened it. Something in him wanted to just grab the books that he and Taka would always study together. He wanted to tear the pages to shreds and release all the anger he felt.
He settled for simply slipping them into his book sack, however. He couldn’t stop himself from glancing up at his friend’s locker across the hall.
Even through the crowds of people making their way through, he could tell something was going on.
Kiyotaka wasn’t there, but instead there was a singular janitor, who had just finished painting over the last of something. He placed the paintbrush aside on the rolling table he had next to him before slapping some ‘wet paint’ signs on the surrounding lockers.
The delinquent was tempted to catch up to the janitor who was now retreating to the closet. He wanted to ask what he was doing, yet stopped himself as the elderly man slipped into the same closet where he lost his best friend.
He decided not to follow him, but instead looked forward at the locker that now stood out like a sore thumb. The paint was a lot darker than the other lockers, and it was, no doubt, a last minute fix.
Why did they paint his locker?
Mondo gripped the strap over his shoulder a little tighter before starting towards his first class. Surely, someone would know what happened. He’d figure it out by the end of the day.
The pompadoured teen tried to get rid of that pang he felt. The alarms in his head that told him it was definitely not normal for a student’s locker to just randomly get a new paint job.
Whatever it is, he hoped it didn’t break Taka down too much.
Sure, he was pissed, but he still cared. He’d never not be able to care.
He stepped into the classroom and immediately felt a presence of something, or in better words, a lack of.
Kiyotaka wasn’t in his desk.
None of the other students seemed to pay any mind to it as they talked among each other, laughing and giggling like nothing was wrong.
Mondo hadn’t even noticed that he stopped and that his heartbeat increased a little bit.
He was just being dramatic.
No, it was okay. Taka was okay. He was just a little late, probably upset about yesterday, but he’d be here.
Kiyotaka Ishimaru never missed school.
He made his way to the back of the classroom, setting his stuff down and sitting on the edge of his seat as he waited. He didn’t bother talking to Leon, who was in conversation with the swimmer next to him.
All he did was wait.
He wanted to see the black haired male walk through the door more than anything. He didn’t care how angry or pissed he was, he just needed to know he was here.
He felt his hands get sweaty as more students filled the classroom until finally the tardy bell sounded.
Mondo jumped at the noise and tried to remind himself to stop being so dramatic.
It wasn’t until everyone was finally settled down that people began noticing the empty desk at the front of the room. The teacher began calling roll.
Mondo stared at the closed door.
His eyes darted back to the empty desk.
And back to the door.
Something was wrong.
And suddenly, he didn’t give a shit about anything else except-
The teacher looked up at the unexpected silence.
Mondo stood up.
“Can I be excused?
All eyes were on him.
“Mr. Owada, class just started-“
“I need to go. Now.”
A sigh and a “hurry back” was all Mondo heard as he had already grabbed his belongings and headed out the door. He felt his body shake with anxiety as he sped down the hallway in a rushed walk. He pulled out his phone and found Kiyotaka’s contact before calling his number.
He never cared about getting in trouble, but leaving school without authorization resulted in huge consequences. To Mondo, those consequences didn’t matter right now.
That speedy walk turned into a run as he got closer to the exit. Shoving the doors open, his run became much faster before he hopped onto his bike.
“God fucking dammit, Kiyotaka!”
Mondo never drove so fast in his life.
He had a few close hits by other vehicles, and who knows how many stop signs he ran to get to where he was now. He tried calling a few more times, but it kept going to voicemail.
And now that he was rounding the corner of the Kiyotaka’s street, he felt a stab of realization.
There was only one way Kiyotaka would miss school.
He pulled up to the small grey house and hopped off as soon as he propped up the bike.
He knocked on the door a few times.
“Kiyotaka, open the door, buddy.”
Mondo felt his fist shake as it stilled, waiting for an answer.
“Kiyotaka, come on, we gotta go to school!”
Moments later, and still nothing. Mondo remembered seeing Kiyotaka always reach for the key in the plant next to the door.
He kneeled down, moved around the soil in the pot, but couldn’t find anything. He began cursing to himself and considered straight up kicking the door down.
He took one look and decided to move the entire pot, ready to empty it out. He didn’t have to, however. The reflection of the key caught his attention. It had been under the pot.
He fumbled with it for a moment before getting the door open and pushing in.
He looked around as he waited for an answer. He’d never been in his house, so he had no idea where to start.
“Kiyotaka, where the hell are you at!”
He stepped into the living room and saw no signs of anyone. He gripped the leg of his uniform slacks.
“Kiyotaka, I’m about to call the fuckin’ cops! Where are you!”
He stopped for a moment, and with what little thought he could muster, he had an idea. He pulled out his phone and called the number he had called so many times today.
He stayed silent and for a moment, all he could hear was the fan in the living room along with a ticking clock.
Then he heard the ringtone go off. He headed towards the sound to a closed door. The biker pushed the unlocked door open, and the ringing got louder. His eyes darted around the small and tidy room until he saw the phone on the made bed.
So he was here.
Mondo picked up the phone as it finally stopped ringing. It was cold in his hand.
He walked back out into the hall, after leaving the phone on the bed. He was about to yell out again before he looked further down the hall at another closed door.
A light shown through the crack at the bottom, catching Owada’s attention.
“Kiyotaka, you in there?”
He knocked a few times and waited.
Nothing. Yet he felt the presence.
“Kiyotaka, open the door dude, I know you’re in there! Talk to me!”
The fear he felt was overwhelming, and he didn’t care who knew about it anymore.
“ISHIMARU, OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR!”
And with that, Mondo brought his foot to the door, slamming it open with impact.
The noise it made was loud.
But Mondo couldn’t hear a thing.
He found him.
The memory of walking in on his best friend’s overdosed body stung through his memory more often than he should’ve. The flashbacks of screaming his name and yelling at him to wake up were ones he’d never get out of his head.
They overwhelmed his head as he made his way to the hospital once again.
Mondo felt different this time, and it took him everything he had to go forth with it, because after all this time, he knew he had to give up.
He had to finally say goodbye.
There was no more encouragement anywhere. The students and teachers didn’t ask Owada about Kiyotaka anymore. The nurses stopped going to his room as much as they usually did. Even Takaaki had began to grow quieter.
And Mondo never felt so hopeless and alone.
He parked his bike in the hospital parking lot and reached into his book sack behind him. He pulled out some flowers he picked up after school.
Despite the contrasting way he was feeling, he picked out some bright yellow ones. Kiyotaka loved the color yellow. It made him happy. He always used a yellow highlighter, his book sack was yellow, and on some days, Mondo would ask to paint his nails. When Kiyotaka would agree to let him, Mondo would always ask what color he wanted, but he always knew the answer, and would grab the only bottle of yellow fingernail polish he ever owned.
He put his book sack over his shoulder and gripped the stems of the flowers before heading inside. He hoped he got here before Takaaki today.
He had a lot to say before his time ran out.
He made his way into the hospital as usual-that much stayed the same-and knew exactly where to go. He didn’t bother talking to any of the staff he’d grown to recognize.
He just wanted to be with his friend.
He leaned against the elevator and felt that sick feeling crawling around inside of him. The back of his head pressed against the wall as he waited to hear the doors opening.
He found slight satisfaction in being the only one to use the elevator at the time. Had anyone joined him and tried to speak to him, who knows what he would’ve said.
He couldn’t think of anything else right now besides getting to the room.
When he finally approached the door, he was almost nervous to open it, like something was going to come out at him, but he pushed it open and everything was the same as usual.
The room was the same.
The beeping was the same.
The unmoving form on the bed was the same.
But there was something in the air that was different, and it made Mondo’s chest hurt. He forced a smile as he walked to the bed and sat down, dropping his bag to the floor.
“Hey, bud.” He set the flowers on the table next to the bed. “I brought ya some flowers, your favorite color and everything.”
He reached a hand down to rub his thumb on that thin wrist that was way too pale.
He stared down at that unmoving face that had once been full of life. The face that once brought Mondo so much happiness in this hell of life.
And he didn’t care that tears were forming now, and that his forced smile was quivering.
“The color yellow reminds me of you so much, Kee. Yellow’s a happy color, and you were my happy.” He brought a hand down to stroke his cheek. “It’s cheesy as hell, but I guess you could say you were my sunshine.”
He thumb rubbed up and down his smooth cheek. All the things he planned on saying just left his brain, and he felt that weight in his chest get harder than ever.
“I had a talk with your father. He told me what you thought about me.” He heard his words begin to shake as he continued. “I wish I woulda known sooner.”
He sniffled to try to contain himself from the inevitable, but finally after all this time, he let it go.
A tear slide down his cheek.
“Fuck, see what you do to me?”
A few more slid down.
“I’m weak, Taka. I can admit that now. I’ve tried to stay strong, but...” he paused and tried to catch his breath. “...what the fuck am I supposed to do without you?”
He wiped his eyes and stared out the window for a moment, trying to hold himself together.
But it didn’t matter anymore. He needed to let him know.
“Things coulda been different, ya know...God I wish you would’ve told me how you felt. I wish you would’ve let me fight all those people, and I wish you would’ve let me take the bullets with you.”
He got off the bed and kneeled next to it so he was closer to Kiyotaka. He really needed him to hear this next part.
“I would’ve done anything for you. Wanna know why?”
He reached under the blanket to grab his hand.
“Because I love you, Kiyotaka.”
The tears were falling to the bed now, but it felt good to finally let him know.
“And if you were up, I’d give you the biggest fucking hug of your life to let you know it. And if you let me, I’d kiss you. I’d kiss you like all those damn times I should’ve.”
He looked at their hands, joined together.
“And hell, who knows? Maybe one day I’d even get to put a ring on that pretty little finger of yours.”
He let out a small laugh through his crying.
“I’m movin’ a little fast, I know. But lately everything’s been moving fast, and I’ve learned not to wait, because I waited to let you know how I feel, and now it’s too late.”
He took a deep breath and lifted Kiyotaka’s hand and planted a small kiss on it. He pulled it away and tried to imagine how flustered Taka would get at such an action. He imagined that smile that he had been missing out on for weeks.
And that was enough to break him.
For the first time since Daiya told him his parents weren’t going to be in his life anymore, Mondo pressed his face against the bed and he sobbed.
His grip on Taka’s hand tightened, and he didn’t care who walked in. The air in the room was heavy and he felt his time running thin. Nothing could stop that feeling.
“Fuck, Kee,” he sobbed out. “We coulda been happy dammit! We coulda ran away together! We coulda built our own house and adopted as many dogs as we wanted! You could’ve been mine!”
And all the pain he felt for months and months, he laid right there. It hurt, and it always would hurt.
Because terrible things happened to good people, and Kiyotaka was an example of this.
Mondo wasn’t sure how long he sobbed, but he let go.
He was so loud that he couldn’t hear it at first.