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Sinful Promises (a sin he can not stop committing)

Chapter Text

April 30th, 2017

Everything had finally come together. Everything was finally at its peak. But when things reach their peak, that means that soon everything will come crashing down.

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Takemichi walked out from the back room at the sound of the bell ringing. He was excited by the sight of Kokonoi and Inui, two of some of his most regular customers.

 

"Koko-kun! Inui-kun! How are you today?" He greeted with a wide smile, dusting off flour from his apron.

"I’m great Takemichi, how about you?” Inui replied first.

“Really good actually! I finalised the last payment on the bakery last week so it’s officially mine,” Takemichi said with great excitement. He’d been working really hard for months and months and finally he was the owner of this dainty little bakery.

 

Kokonoi and Inui smiled at his face, Takemichi’s smile really could make anyone’s day better.

 

“That’s amazing, Hanagaki, all your hard work paid off,” Kokonoi praised. He had offered to help Takemichi with the payments because he had plenty of money to spare, but Takemichi only wanted to get the bakery on his own money. He really was a stubborn determined little fucker, but everyone loved that about him. 

“I wouldn’t have been able to do it without you two and the others. Since you all come in so often and buy shit it keeps me in business.” Takemichi said sheepishly.

“Well you do make rather delicious treats, so how could we possibly deny them?” Inui's complement brings a slight blush to Takemichi’s pale cheeks. Pale. They were very pale. 

“Are you feeling unwell, Hanagaki? You look a little under the weather,” Kokonoi asked, gently pressing his hand against the other’s forehead. 

“I’m fine, really!” Hanagaki Takemichi certainly was not fine. “I was up late last night trying out a new recipe.” Hanagaki Takemichi was, however, an excellent liar when times called for it. 

“Okay, well make sure to go to bed early tonight, can’t have you sick.”

“Definitely. Ah, before I forget Inui-kun, Draken-kun wants to meet up later,” Takemichi said.

 

Kokonoi eyed his friend, “Since when are you so close with Draken?”

“Since you ditched me for months because you didn’t want to be friends anymore.”

“Well I’m back now.”

“Guys,” Takemichi interrupted, “can you please not fight in my store?”

“Sorry Hanagaki,” Kokonoi apologised, reaching to ruffle Takemichi’s hair but the raven avoided it.

“I um, haven’t washed it in a couple of days,” he said, offering a convincing smile.

“Oh okay. Well, catch up again?”

“Sure!”

“Bye Takemichi,” Inui waved.

 

He kept his smile until they left before letting out a shaky sigh. God he was so fucking tired. 

 

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Takemichi was blown away by the sight in front of him, “Hina...you look incredible. Mitsuya-kun you did an amazing job.”

“Hmm, thank you Takemitchy.” Mitsuya murmured, doing the final touch up on another dress.

“Takemichi-kun do you mean it? Does it actually look good?” Hina asked, doing a little twirl in the dress.

“I do mean it. Emma-chan’s jaw is going to drop when she sees you.”

“I’m sure it’ll be me doing that for her,” Hina said bashfully. 

“Alright, Alright, Mitsuya-san has to finish Emma’s dress so let’s give him space,” Naoto said.

“Yuzuha, I’m ready to take the dress off!”

“I’ll be there in a minute Hina-chan!”

 

Takemichi and Naoto walked out of Mitsuya’s studio and sat out the front. 

“Hina and Emma-chan are going to look so ethereal,” Takemichi breathed out. 

“Have you told them?” Naoto asked suddenly.

“Well I told Hina she looked good, I haven’t seen Em-”

“I’m not talking about them, Takemichi. You’re friends, family, anyone, about what’s going on?” Naoto stared at him.

“I don’t wanna dim the mood. Hina and Emma-chan’s wedding is in two weeks, everything is supposed to be about them.”

“You said you would tell everyone by the wedding.”

“And I will-”

“Yuzuha and Senju’s wedding, which was three months ago. You said you would tell everyone by their wedding and you didn’t.”

“Again I didn’t-”

“Takemichi!” Naoto snapped and Takemichi flinched.

“You need to tell them. I’m giving you a month, otherwise my sister and I will tell everyone ourselves.”

“Ok, I promise. I still think it’s kinda pointless though.”

“Why?”

“Because I’m not getting better Naoto. Why make my friends sad if they know I’m going to die?” Takemichi asked, smiling. How could he still smile in such a situation? Naoto could never figure that out.

“Don’t say such things! You’re not going to die. And do you think it's better to what? Have me and my sister go around telling everyone you died out of nowhere? You think I want to do that?!” Naoto choked up as his volume increased.

Takemichi patted his back, “I’ll tell them. I promise...just not right now.”

“You promise?”

“I won't break my promise Naoto,” he smiled wider before adding, “I promise!”

 

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Takemichi smiled often, he smiled to his customers, to his friends, to strangers on the street, anyone. He wanted the world to think he was okay, he was living a great life. And he was, aside from the fact he was dying. Takemichi had had many long talks about this with Hina, she may not have liked his approach, but she couldn’t deny that he was right. 

 

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“Takemichi-kun, I love this! The pastry is so buttery and crumbly and just perfect!” Hina exclaimed as she gobbled down the sweet croissant Takemichi had made.

Takemichi smiled and offered her another, which she happily took, “Thanks.”

“Takemichi-kun you’re gonna make me fall in love with you again,” Hina murmured through the food in her mouth.

“I don’t think Emma-chan would like to hear such things from you,” Takemichi teased and Hina turned red. 

“You’re a cruel man,” Hina finally said after licking the literal crumbs off the plate.

Takemichi raised an eyebrow and loosened the apron around his waist, “How so?”

“You only made two of these pieces of heaven and thought it would satisfy me,” she replied, crossing her arms.

 

Takemichi chuckled and shook his head before getting up and walking back into the kitchen.

 

“You are cruel! You’re leaving me to starve!” Hina whined, tearfully. She buried her face into her arms, having a baker as your best friend was a blessing, but also a curse when he didn’t have enough delicious food for you.

 

“Hina?” Takemichi called.

“Don’t talk to me Takemichi-kun, you’ve upset me,” she mumbled, not lifting her head.

“Oh well, I guess you don’t want the fresh ones I’ve just pulled out of the ovennnnn~”

 

Hina’s head snapped up and she was met with a tray of six more croissants, her mouth started watering. She looked up at Takemichi with puppy dog eyes,

 

“Forgive me Takemichi-kun? You are the best baker in the world, no one compares to you, I’ll give you my life insura-”

“Okay that’s enough, you can have them,” Takemichi cuts her off, giggling.

 

At this point, Takemichi is used to Hina’s mood changing, because now she looked like a starving animal that hadn’t eaten in weeks as she scoffed down the pastry treats. He waited until she was done (this wasn’t long), before asking her why she had come by at the end of the day. Usually she’d come mid morning on the weekends, arms linked with Emma. And if she came during the week, it’d be on her lunch break since the elementary school she taught at was only a block away. 

 

“I wanted to ask you a favour. I’m not asking because you're a friend and I think you’ll give me a discount even though that would really help, weddings are expensive, I’m asking because I know you will do it best.”

“And what is that?”

“Will you make the cake for my wedding?” Hina asked.

 

To say Takemichi was honoured was an understatement, making a wedding cake, especially for the people who cared about, was something he always wanted to do, coming from a baker’s perspective, this was one of the most special things. 

 

His face split into a big smile and he reached over the small table, suddenly pulling her into a hug, “I’d love to Hina! Only the best for you and Emma-chan!”

“Thank you Takemichi-kun. I’m so glad you agreed, tell me when you’re available and Emma and I will come by to talk about designs.”

“I’ll be available anytime for you two.”

“Oh you’re too sweet, no wonder your treats taste amazing.”

 

The two chuckled at the corny comment but it was cut short when Takemichi’s phone rang.

 

“Ah sorry, it’s the hospital,” Takemichi murmured before picking up.

 

Hina grimaced, why did such a nice moment have to be ruined. She liked making Takemichi smile, he smiled all the time but she wanted to see the genuine one, the one that changed others for the better, the one that made others fall in love with him in a heartbeat. She saw that smile less and less over the past few months and it was difficult to watch her best friend (and past lover) slowly lose himself to a horrible disease. 

She drowned out Takemichi’s side of the phone conversation, she didn’t want to hear. Was she avoiding the unavoidable? Yes, most definitely. But the more she ignored it, the less real it felt. And that’s what she wanted. For it to not be real. 

The conversation wasn’t long, only a few minutes before Takemichi hung up and looked at her apologetically before smiling. She hated that smile. The smile he’d give her after check ups, appointments, phone calls, the smile that would convince people ‘I’m okay. I’m gonna be okay’ but it didn’t work on Hina, it stopped working a while ago, but she didn’t have the heart to tell Takemichi. 

 

Instead she smiled back, “Everything okay?”

“Yeah, they just want me to come in tomorrow.”

“I’ll come with you, and I can call Naot-”

“It’s fine,” he smiled wider, but his eyes are dim and his forehead is creased, “You have your wedding to worry about, not me. And Naoto has a busy job.”

“It’s okay Takemichi-kun, Emma is going shopping with Senju and Yuzuha anyway. I’m free.”

Takemichi laughed dryly, “I’m sorry for being such a bother. It’s really no biggie.”

“No biggie?! You have brain cancer, Takemichi-kun!” Hina exclaimed, frustrated that her friend is taking it so lightly. 

“That’s because I’ve accepted that I’m going to die. So it doesn’t seem that scary.”

 

Hina’s lips trembled as she tried to stop herself from crying. Takemichi was supposed to be the crybaby, not her. But he was all smiles and laughs ever since he got his diagnosis. 

 

“It is scary! I’m scared, you should be too!”

 

Takemichi took her hand and gently rubbed his thumb over her palm, “It’s normal to feel scared Hina, because everyone dies, just be happy that the life you lived was long. Everyone dies, so they should be happy in their life, even if it ends before it should. I’m going to die soon, but I want you and Emma-chan to be old and have grey hair and still be together. I want the same for Senju and Yuzuha, for Mikey, Draken, Chifuyu, Baji, Mitsuya, everyone! It’s fine to be scared, but I don’t want you to be scared for me, because I’m not. I have a good life, I have lots of friends and I’m happy now, because now is really all the time I have left.”

 

Hina shook in her seat as sobs tore through her body, fat ugly tears falling down. It’s not fair! Why was Takemichi such a good person? It wasn’t fair that his end is destined to be sooner than everyone else's. She doesn’t want to be old and grey with Emma, with anyone, if it means that Takemichi had to die while his hair was still black and young, not a speck of grey. 

 

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With a gentle sigh he flipped the ‘OPEN’ sign to ‘CLOSE’ and turned off the front lights. He couldn’t really describe the feeling he got when he did that every night. Or was there even a feeling at all? Perhaps it was nothing. 

He didn’t live far from the bakery, but since it took several hours to clean up after closing, it was quite late when he’d walk home. He’d like to say he wasn’t scared anymore, but in reality, this is Tokyo, there are many gangs and dangerous people.

He tightened his grip on his keys and continued walking forward. He knew he couldn’t really fight off anyone, not only was he shitty at fighting, but his condition has considerably weakened his body, as much as he doesn’t want to admit it. 

It was safe to say that Takemichi nearly shit his pants when someone suddenly wrapped their arms around him, covering his mouth with one of their own. He nearly shrieked but when he glanced down at the hand covering his mouth, the tattoo proclaiming ‘punishment’, he realised who it was. He stilled and jabbed the person in the stomach, he may be weak, but those things hurt like a bitch. 

 

The person pulled away, groaning at the hit. “Hanagakiiiiii~ you wound me.”

Takemichi turned and faced the person with his hands on his hips, “Hanma-kun, you really need to work on how you approach people. You scared the living daylights out of me!”

“Haha ♥. I noticed~” Hanma teased.

“Well, since you’ve put me on nerve, walk me home?”

 

Oh, an offer Hanma could never refuse, “Of course~” He put his arm over Takemichi’s shoulders and held him by his side as they walked. Takemichi didn’t mind as the nights were growing colder or perhaps because he was getting thinner.

“So why’d ya jump me? I know you get a thrill off scaring people but I thought we were past that point in our friendship,” Takemichi asked as they neared his apartment. 

“We haven’t hung out in a while. It’s been months since we’ve smoked together~”

 

Hanma and Takemichi had formed an unlikely friendship around a year ago. They knew each other previously from conflicts when they were teenagers but other than that, they hadn’t really spoken before that. Mostly, Takemichi avoided Hanma as much as possible because of Hanma’s friend Kisaki, whom he very much disliked. 

But about a year ago, Takemichi was in a really dark place after getting his diagnosis. No one knew of course, not even Hina or Naoto. He had been all smiles for everyone else, but on the inside, he felt this relentless black whole consuming him from the inside out. He thought things such as ‘Well if I’m going to die, I might as well do things to speed up the process’. And that’s where Hanma comes in. Hanma had recently started to visit Takemichi’s bakery (which at the time wasn’t his, he was just an employee). Takemichi knew Hanma smoked so he asked him about it. Asked if Hanma would buy cigarettes for him, he’d give Hanma the money of course. Hanma was intrigued as to why someone like Takemichi would suddenly want to smoke out of the blue but agreed anyway. 

And so, Takemichi started smoking. It wasn’t often, usually after difficult visits to the hospital. He didn’t want to do it regularly enough that his doctors would notice. Takemichi doesn’t remember how he ended up spending his smoking time with Hanma, it just sorta happened. They’d talk about things, all things, nothing particular. Takemichi found that he enjoyed talking with Hanma, it was easy. He knew Hanma was curious as to why he wanted to smoke but didn’t bother him with questions, he was grateful for this. 

But in fear of Hina and Naoto finding out after they made comments that they could smell cigarettes on him (which he brushed off saying it was a customer he’d often have long chats with, was a smoker), he stopped. There were many times where he had craved it, but was too cowardly to send Hanma a text. He felt bad. Hanma was a friend, a strange one, who was also friends with Kisaki, but a friend, a friend who listened.

 

Takemichi offered an apologetic closed eye smile to Hanma, “I’m sorry Hanma-kun. I’ve just been really busy with taking ownership of the bakery recently.” 

“Nah don’t worry about it ♥. Don’t overwork yourself, you've been eating well?”

“I own a bakery called Hanma-kun, of course I eat a lot!” This was a lie, he’d often lose his appetite and would just offer whatever delicious snack he’d make for himself to a customer or friend. 

“Mhm. Well, we’re here. Text me Hanagaki, I’m always free.”

“I will, I’m glad I ran into you tonight, even if you nearly gave me a heart attack.”

“Anytime ♥.”

 

Once Takemichi is in his apartment and flicking the lights on, he’s once again filled with that feeling he can’t describe.

Chapter Text

Watching the sunrise was one of Takemichi’s favourite things. Watching the black change to blue and purple, and the hints of pink (sometimes even flashes of red) before the orange and yellow. Each colour was beautiful. And overtime, ever since he was a middle schooler, he became more and more aware of what each of those colours meant to him. 

Takemichi fell in love easily. He knew that. He didn’t realise it until he was much older, but he knew that every time he was attached to a person, it wasn’t just platonic. 

Sometimes, those colours meant things for several people. 

 

The first person he ever loved was Kaku-chan. Back in the second grade (or was it third?) He only knew Kaku-chan for about a year before the boy left suddenly one day and never came back. He was heartbroken, but when he heard that Kaku-chan’s parents had passed away and he was now in an orphanage, he got mad at himself for being so selfish. He remembered punching himself in the stomach, kicking his foot against the wall. He told himself he shouldn’t have been so selfish when Kaku-chan was going through something so terrible. 

He always thought Kaku-chan’s red eyes were so cool, especially with his black hair. He was the first person Takemichi ever wanted to protect. When he saw Kaku-chan once again when they were teenagers, he almost didn’t recognise him with the big scar and one white eye. But that red eye, and the goofy smile brought him back. It also temporarily brought the feelings back, but once Takemichi found out about Izana, someone Kaku-chan grew up with in the orphanage, he knew he couldn’t compare with that, so he quickly shut those feelings away once again.

They became friends once again, they unfortunately don’t see each other often anymore because after high school, he and Izana moved to the Philippines, where Izana was originally from. But they texted often and when they did visit, he made sure to make their favourites. 

For Takemichi, those slight flashes of red that didn’t appear often and were more common at sunset, reminded him of Kaku-chan.

 

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The second person was Takuya, his childhood friend whom he met a few months after Kaku-chan left. Takemichi didn’t really know how it happened. Perhaps because he was lonely after Kaku-chan left, but Takuya was another person he could protect. Takemichi wasn’t good at fighting, but he was very determined which made up for it, Takuya was an even worse fighter, and had weak resolve. At first, Takemichi just wanted to protect Takuya, like he did with Kaku-chan, but of course, he fell in love easily. However, his love for Takuya didn’t last long, romantically of course. He soon realised he just really loved Takuya but in a platonic way. 

He always really liked Takuya’s hair, watching it grow. He was so excited when it was long enough for him to play with. He always tried to braid it but he wasn’t very good, but Takuya’s closed eyed smiles when he would lie and say it still looked good made him weak. 

And it kept growing and growing, even now, it goes all the way down his back. It’s so pretty, too pretty and Takemichi doesn’t try to braid it anymore, he leaves Akkun for that. 

The time when the sky is just a light golden reminds him of the afternoons after school in elementary school where he’d play with Takuya’s hair.

 

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Takemichi would say his first real love was Akkun, whom he and Takuya met in the beginning of middle school. Takemichi also knew that Akkun was the first person to ever return his feelings. But they simply danced around each other, Akkun wasn’t as good at hiding his love, unable to stop his blushing whenever he was around Takemichi. Akkun was warm in every way, he was so caring. Takemichi knew that Akkun didn’t like his gelled up hairstyle, so he would do it purposefully just to have Akkun tell him off for how stupid it looked. And he’d let Akkun spray him with the hose on the hot summer days in his front yard and ruffle his soaking wet hair. One of those times was when they kissed for the first and unfortunately only time. 

They were wet and panting from chasing each other with the hose. Both of their silly hairstyles down, Akkun’s hair was actually longer than he expected. Akkun had the hose and Takemichi was running away, but Akkun caught up to him and pulled him down, Akkun falling down too. And so Akkun ended up on top of him, his face almost as red as his hair, his wet forehead touching Takemichi’s own. 

Takemichi had never seen Akkun’s eyes up so close before, they were the lightest shade of purple, so beautiful. And he said that, he told him, reaching his hand up to tuck Akkun’s wet hair behind his ear. 

They were 12 and in love, but they were also idiots. 

They were idiots because they kissed each other in the front yard, for the whole neighbourhood to see in the early 2000s. The two ended up getting beaten up by some older teenagers who were passing by. 

They never mentioned the kiss, nor their feelings. They were distant with each other at first, Takuya had noticed and asked him about it. He simply told him he just needed to get over something (someone). Akkun was the first person he never really got over. And he knew Akkun never really got over him either, he always was so terrible at hiding his blush.

It wasn’t Akkun’s hair that the flashes of red reminded him of, in fact, it wasn’t the red at all, it was the faint shades of purple before they turned pink, Akkun’s eyes. It reminds him of that day they were close, so close that Takemichi could have counted Akkun’s eyelashes if he wanted to. The first and only time they kissed.

 

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The next person he fell in love with was Hina, this was in the second year of middle school. Hina really was perfect, he wanted to marry her. He loved Hina more than he loved anyone else before. Her gorgeous smile, unique it was with the small beauty mark just below her lips. 

Being with Hina just felt right, it felt like the final puzzle piece fitting in perfectly. But unfortunately, this feeling didn’t last long for either of them. The introduction of the Toman friend group led both of them into becoming gay disasters. Hina, of course, was the only one who actually was successful.

Her and Emma hung out all the time, and soon developed feelings for each other which they felt really bad about. Hina felt bad because she was with Takemichi and Emma was confused because she thought she loved Draken. 

It took a lot of mini crushes and accidental kisses before the two decided to break it off, but still wanted to be best friends. And it worked. Hina and Emma ended up dating a few months later after fully figuring themselves out and Takemichi tried to ignore the gay disaster he still was. 

Hina was one of the people he didn’t regret giving up on, because he saw all the time how happy she was with Emma. And he would never want to go against that. He still loved Hina very much, for everything that she has done for him since his diagnosis. He couldn’t deny that amongst the deep platonic love there were still hints of romantic, but he kept those hidden away.

Ahh, the gentle rosiness of the sky brought Hina’s hair and eyes to his mind, they really were so beautiful.

 

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As stated previously, the Toman friend group suddenly coming into his life sent him into a never ending spiral of crushes. He fell in love at some point, with nearly everyone.

Chifuyu was one of the people he regretted loving the most. He felt guilty about it all the time. But he and Chifuyu had gotten so close, and were comfortable with things such as holding hands, kissing cheeks or foreheads and cuddling. Honestly, how could anyone not fall in love with that? 

The excited look on Chifuyu’s face as he showed Takemichi his romance manga and other favourite items. And Takemichi, who even at this age, was already really good at baking. If Mikey and Draken weren’t at his house, Chifuyu was. He’d sit on the kitchen bench singing awfully to the music while Takemichi would sway and bake sweet treats. 

But Chifuyu didn’t belong to him, with him. He belonged with Baji and Kazutora in their adorable pet shop. Takemichi was never jealous, because he knew the truth. None of the people he loved ever truly belonged with him. And because it was the truth, he was just fine with that...right?

 

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Draken was always someone he heavily respected and he really valued their friendship. He wasn’t surprised when he developed feelings for Draken, who wouldn’t? He was big, strong, kind, and would do anything for those he loved. But at the time of his crush, he knew Emma liked him and he assumed the feelings were mutual. So he forced himself to get over it.

He still really admired Draken, thinking he was so cool with his dragon tattoo. Sometimes, even now in the present, those feelings resurface, but he locks them away like he did with everyone else. And ever since Draken and Inui got their bike shop together, Takemichi noticed how close they were. Even if he was reading it wrong and it wasn’t romantic, he didn’t want to come in between that.

 

.

 

Takemichi had many more crushes, there was Mitsuya and Hakkai (but I mean, who wouldn’t?). Then there was Souya, who’d come over and cook for him. He may be good at baking, but when it came to regular cooking, Takemichi was a mess. He’d pick up on the little things Souya did, like when his snarl deepened it meant he was being sincere, and when his eye twitched it meant he enjoyed something.

There was Inui and Koko, Yuzuha and Senju, there was those fucking Haitani brothers who were the biggest inconvenience Takemichi had ever known, buying all he had to sell in the morning hours, leaving nothing for anyone else. But they were pretty. Sanzu...he doesn’t like talking about that one, it only lasted a week for a reason. Hell, even Hanma was in there at some point (was he still there now? Who knows, Takemichi ignores his feelings for a reason), Naoto and well- you get the point.

Takemichi had, at one point, a crush on nearly everyone he knew and it drove him insane. But why did everyone have to be so attractive and nice and- or maybe he just had a weak heart, one left unattended so that it could run off to whoever shot him a smile (a smirk or even a slight twitch in the lips). 

 

.

 

But one. There was one. The black in the beginning, before the blues, purples, pinks, oranges and yellows show, there is black. A never ending obsidian abyss that Takemichi couldn’t stop falling into. 

Mikey, Sano Majirou. 

No- he couldn’t. He wouldn’t dare.

Mikey was untouchable, he was the invincible Mikey. 

Mikey was the only person Takemichi didn’t allow himself to fall in love with because he knew if he did, he’d never be able to go back.

 

.

.

 

How did he allow this to happen? He really shouldn’t, not with him, not with the way his condition. But he did, he was weak and it has been months.

When he went into his apartment after Hanma walked him home, he couldn’t stand the idea of being alone, not after running into him again. He had called Hanma and asked him to come back, Takemichi knew what this meant, Hanma definitely knew what this meant and he was more than excited.

“Do you want me to clean ya up?” Hanma asked, his sultry tone still there.

“I’m fine, you can stay or leave, I don’t mind,” Takemichi mumbled before rolling over to get out of the bed. His body ached terribly and a small part of him (a large part really) regretted calling Hanma back.

“Aww come on. You wanted the lights off, wouldn’t let me play with your thighs or chest, and now you don’t want me to clean you up. I’m trying to be a gentleman here,” Hanma complained, lifting his arse off the bed to pull his shorts on. 

Yeah, that was because in the time since their last...encounter, Takemichi had lost an unhealthy amount of weight, his ribs poking through in a disgusting manner and a scattered amount of discoloration flecked his skin from all the medication he was taking. 

“I appreciate that but I don’t need your help with anything else.”

“You’re so cruel, I feel so used. You only want me for plain faceless sex,” he whined playfully. 

“Maybe. What if I’m just insecure Hanma-kun?” 

“Ahh~ but you are too pretty to be insecure,” Hanma sent him a smirk before pulling out a cigarette.

Takemichi crawled back onto the bed after putting an oversized shirt on and leaned over Hanma’s long body. Hanma passed him the smoke and Takemichi drew in a long cancerous breath. He knows he shouldn’t. But he’d already done too much tonight that he shouldn’t be. 

“Come on, leave some for me will ya.” 

Takemichi pulled the smoke away from his lips and put in Hanma’s mouth, “You can leave, I wanna shower.”

“Without me ♥?”

“Get out.”

“So cruel, truly.” He got out of the bed, leaning to give Takemichi one last kiss with his lips that tasted of cheap beer and tobacco.

“You have my number, call me. Don’t leave me in a dry spell for months like last time.”

“As if you weren’t fucking someone different every night,” Takemichi scoffed.

Hanma put his hand over his heart in mock offense, “How dare you assume something so slutty and true! But hey, just say the word and I’ll be all yours.”

“Not happening.”

Chapter Text

May 17th, 2017

“Hina, can you come over?” Takemichi rasped over the phone.

“What’s wrong?! Are you okay?! Oh my god oh my god oh my god-”

“I’m fine! I swear, I was just hoping you could come over to put some makeup on me? Nothing too much, just to cover up some stuff so I don’t have people asking all day if I’m alright.”

“Have you not been sleeping again? You need to take all of your medication, each one is important, Takemichi-kun.”

 

‘Yeah, they’re also the half the reason for why I feel and look so shitty’

 

“Please? Or do you want me to come over?”

“Emma’s home at the moment...but she’s the only one in this relationship who knows how to use makeup,” Hina drawled out on the other end of the line, Takemichi knew what she was hinting at.

“I’m not telling Emma-chan, because she’ll tell Mikey, who will then beat me up for hiding it, while also telling everyone else.”

“Look, just come over, I’ll just tell her that you’ve not been sleeping well and I don’t know, have iron deficiency,” she reasoned.

Takemichi paused and thought it over, that seemed believable enough, “Alright, I’ll be over in about twenty minutes. Thank god I don’t open until 9 today, you’d probably kill me for calling you at 5 am if it were any other day.”

“You’re right, I would. No one is allowed to disturb my beauty sleep except my beautiful fiance,” Hina said dreamily.

Ah Hina, you’re so sweet. Is that Takemichi?” He heard Emma say in the background.

“Yeah, he wants you to put makeup on him,” Hina snickered.

“Hina! Don’t say it like that!” Takemichi whined.

“Ahaha, come on over Takemichi-kun! I’ll have you looking model material in no time!”

“Thanks Emma-chan,” he mumbled bashfully. 

 

.

 

It was Emma who opened the door, with a wide smile that faltered into one of worry when she saw Takemichi.

“Oh, you really don’t look well. I don’t think you should be going into work,” she said, putting the back of her soft hand against his forehead.

“You’re a little warm,” she murmured.

 

Hina appeared at the doorway, her eyes widened. She knew what Takemichi looked like on bad days, but she wasn’t expecting this. His curly back hair stuck out in all different directions from under his beanie which he had been wearing more and more often lately. His skin wasn’t just pale anymore, it had grey undertones, he looked like a corpse. His eyes were dull even if he had a reassuring smile. His lips were almost blue and chapped. His cheeks and under eye bags sunken in and dark. And she knew that under the unnecessarily oversized hoodie and sweatpants, there was just a skeleton covered in skin, she could tell how thin he had gotten just by his face, neck and hands. 

 

It made her feel physically sick in the stomach, how her best friend was literally deteriorating right in front of her. And she knew how much the bastard overworked himself. The bakery was only small, before he owned it, it was only him and another worker (aside from the owner who was never around) employed there. But the other worker was a med student who ended up having to quit just before Takemichi took ownership because she was being located at a hospital in another city. So for the past few months, Takemichi had been the only worker. He wouldn’t bake things the night before because he wanted ‘only the freshest for my customers’, instead, he would spend hours after closing measuring everything perfectly for each menu item so that when he’d come in the morning, two-three hours before opening, he’d start baking everything straight away. 

 

He did this six days a week, Saturday was the only day the bakery was closed. But Saturdays were usually where all of his appointments were crammed in. She had no idea where he even fit in the sleep.  

 

.

 

“Even I’m struggling to cover all of this up, Takemichi-kun,” Emma huffed. Takemichi was concerned since she was a professional make-up artist. 

“Takemichi-kun you should really take the day off,” Hina forced through clenched teeth as she stared at him. 

“Yeah, I don’t have a client until this afternoon, I can take you to the clinic,” Emma offered as she lightly dabbed concealer under his eyes. 

“It’s fine really,” he replied, trying to keep his voice from trembling. He was freezing, but he couldn’t say anything because both Hina and Emma were in short sleeves which meant it wasn’t cold in the room, it was just him. 

 

He was trying to smile, to keep his head up, his eyes open, but it was obvious to the girls that he was nowhere near fine. 

 

“You’re staying home, I’ll call Naoto and tell him to check everything’s locked up,” Hina said, leaving no room for discussion.

“Bu...I really should..” his eyelids were drooping and he swayed in his spot on the couch, it was becoming more and more difficult to keep his body upright. 

“Lay down, I’ll go make some soup,” Emma pushed him gently so he’d fall back, he didn’t even have the strength to resist. She brushed the stray hairs out of his face before getting up and walking into the kitchen. 

 

Hina double checked that Emma was gone before she leaned close and whispered, “How did you let yourself get like this? I’m so worried, Takemichi-kun.” She breathed out shakily, trying to stop herself from crying. She squeezed her eyes shut and bit her tongue before looking at him, “I need to go to work, please, just stay here and let Emma take care of you.”

 

Takemichi nodded weakly, “Thank you Hina,” he whispered softly.

“When I get home, we’re going to the hospital alright? You...You shouldn’t be like this so soon after starting the new round of treatment,” her voice quivered and her hands shook, Takemichi gently grabbed one.

“I’ll be fine Hina, I always am,” she wanted to slap that smile off his face, why couldn’t he just give in, say it, say those fucking words ‘ I’m not okay. I’m not fine. I’m scared.

“I need to go. If anything happens, call me.”

“Yes ma’am,” he replied with a light chuckle. 

“Emma, I’m leaving!” Hina called out.

Emma poked her head out from the kitchen and blew a kiss to her, “Bye bye my love, have a good day.”

“I will, love you too.”

 

She grabbed her purse before looking back at Takemichi laying on the couch, before turning around and walking out mumbling under breath, “I love you too Takemichi...please, nothing happen while I’m gone.”

 

.

 

Mitsuya strolled down the street, Luna and Mana trailing behind him. Sometimes he forgot that they weren’t little kids anymore and were in highschool now. He raised an eyebrow as he neared Takemichi’s bakery, usually there would be people constantly walking in and out, others sitting at the tables and chairs outside. But there was no one, aside from one. 

 

“Oi Peh-yan, what the hell are you doing?” he called out seeing his friend banging on the door of the bakery. 

Peh-yan lifted his head and looked over at Mitsuya who was now only a few feet away.

“I want my coffee and I’m supposed to be taking an apple pie back to Pah, but no ones here!” he exclaimed.

 

Mitsuya looked through the windows at the dark empty bakery with confusion. He turned to Mana, who was on her phone, “What’s the time?”

“Uh 10:30, why? You said I would be able to get my special tea from here, was that a lie?”

“I want cookies!” Luna whined. 

 

Yep, they were still little kids.

 

Mitsuya tried the door but it was locked, he couldn’t see any customers inside, let alone Takemichi. All the lights were off, not even the sign was turned on. 

 

He pulled out his own phone, but there was no message from Takemichi. Usually, if he unexpectedly had to close the bakery (which for some reason, was happening a lot the last few months), he’d send everyone a message because he knew at least one of his friends visited the bakery everyday. 

 

He tried calling Takemichi, but when it went straight to voicemail, he started to worry, his paternal instincts kicking in. He went to the group chat and decided to ask everyone if they had heard from Takemichi.

 

Peh-yan: I haven’t

Mitsuya (me): I know dumbass, ur right next to me

Pey-yan: 😮

Dora-ken: no i haven’t why??

Mitsuya (me) is typing…

Pah-chin: Peh why aren’t you back yet? I really want that apple pie

Pey-yan: I know!! But takemitchy isn’t here, the bakery isn’t open

Mitsuya (me): that’s what i was gonna say

Smiley😄: maybe he just slept in

Mikey: he’s not answering my calls...what if he’s like in a ditch somewhere!

Baji: clma odwn Mikee!

Chifuyu: calm down Mikey**

Mitsuya (me): im sure he’s fine

Inupi: Takemichi has looked a little sick the last few times I’ve come in, maybe he’s just at home

Hakkai (my love): yeah i noticed that too, and he looks tired a lot lately

Senju: the idiot is overworking himself

Yuzuha: stop freaking out because he didn’t come to work, the guy deserves a break

Mikey: …

Mikey: ….well when you say it like that I feel bad

Angry😠: i should make him some meals, the idiot is a mastermind when it comes to sweets but when it comes to normal cooking, he might as well starve

Kokonoi: he has been looking a little thin lately

Pah-chin: fatten ‘im up! 

Mikey: we should drop by his apartment

Emma: I just saw all the messages, don’t worry Takemichi-kun isn’t missing! He’s with me

https://www.pinterest.com.au/pin/636133516121813218/

(but with black hair of course)

Mikey: awww

Smiley😄: see i was write he did sleep in 

Angry😠: why would he ‘sleep in’ at Emma’s house? Wouldn’t he be at his own house dumbass

Dora-ken: yeah why is he there? Have a sleep over with Hina?

Emma: no he came over this morning

Mikey: whyyyyyy, why doesn’t he come over to my house in the mornings

Baji: SHUT UP MIKEY

Chifuyu: Baji-san...why so aggressive?

Kazutora: dumbass probs put all caps on

Baji: HOW DYO YUO TURN IT OFF

Emma: I think Takemichi-kun would be embarrassed if I told you the reason he came over. But he’s feeling sick today so I’m taking care of him

Ran: what? not my Michi😥

Rindou: he should be in the hospital if he’s sick, i should just take care of himself

Mikey: YOUR MICHI?! YOU WANNA GO BITCH

Dora-ken: how tf did you two get into our group chat

Sanzu: I hacked it

Senju: Haruchiyo get yo ass out rn before I roundhouse your ass

Sanzu left the group chat

Yuzuha: you tell him babe

Emma: well anyways Takemichi-kun is like dead asleep so there’s no point coming over. I’ll let you know how he is when he wakes up

Mikey: but Emma

Emma: you want me to call Shin? Or Izana? Tell them you’ve being annoying 😎

Peh-yan: lol get wrecked

Mikey:...no Emma










Chapter Text

May 17th, 2017

By the time Mikey, Draken and Mitsuya had come by Emma and Hina’s house, Takemichi was already gone. 

“Ah I’m sorry, you just missed him. I tried to get him to stay but he was adamant on going to the bakery to put away the ingredients he had pulled out the night before,” Emma explained. 

 

Mikey visibly deflated and Emma chuckled. She thought her brother’s actions were just so adorable, but painfully annoying. She knew that her brother had been crushing on Takemichi since middle school, and made it obvious with his affectionate actions, but never outright said it. Even now, 12 years later, she sees how he looks at Takemichi with pure love in his eyes. And Takemichi, the complete dumbass, somehow doesn’t notice it. Or perhaps he purposefully ignores it. 

 

Mikey wanted to go see Takemichi at his bakery straight away, but he ended up being called into work, something about stocks, Emma didn’t really didn’t understand. Rather, Draken and Mitsuya offered to go and check up on him instead.

 

After Mikey left, she called the two of them aside before they left, she looked at them worriedly.

“I didn’t want Mikey to freak out, so that’s why I’m only telling you this now. But Takemichi isn’t just sick, something is up,” she picked at her lips with her fingers, a habit she’s had since a child, what she would do when she was nervous, “I think Hina knows something about it. I heard her whispering to Takemichi after I left the room this morning. I couldn’t make out what she was saying though.”

 

Mitsuya patted her on the shoulder, “Don’t worry Emma, we’ll check on him.”

“I’ll drag his ass to the hospital if I have to,” Draken added.

Emma smiled gratefully at the both of them, “Thank you so much.”

 

.

 

When the front door to the bakery wasn’t unlocked, they assumed he’d be in the backroom. So they two went around into the alleyway and pounded on that door anyway. The door opened, revealing Takemichi. He was wearing a mask and long sleeved oversized clothes, but just from his eyes they could tell something was up.

 

“Draken-kun, Mitsuya-kun? What are you guys doing here?” He asked, it was now when the twin dragons noticed the flour covering Takemichi’s clothes. 

“Emma told us you were sick, thought we’d come check on ya,” Draken replied, pushing his way past and into the backroom, where he saw a busted bag and flour all over the floor.

“What’s with the mask?” Mitsuya asked.

“Oh, I accidentally busted that bag of flour, it was in the air and it was kinda hard to breathe,” Takemichi mumbled.

 

Takemichi moved out of the way and Mitsuya walked in too, “Jeez, it’s everywhere.”

“Yeah, the fan was on full bull. Didn’t really help.”

“Draken can clean it up, I wanna talk to you,” Mitsuya said.

 

Draken went to protest, the flour really was everywhere, but he noticed the sly look Mitsuya sent him so he didn’t. 

“Yeah, I’ll clean up ‘Mitchy.”

“Are you sure Draken-kun, it was my fault anyway, I dropped it because I’m so weak -”

 

Draken smiled and nodded reassuringly. Mitsuya basically had to drag Takemichi away, he really was so stubborn. The two walked into the front area and Takemichi walked over to the small fridge behind the counter. 

 

“I have some jam drops left in here from yesterday, you want some?” Takemichi asked, poking his head into the fridge.

“Definitely.”

 

.

Takemichi and Mitsuya ate the delicious treats in silence, well it was more Mitsuya eating and Takemichi picking at crumbs. Takemichi had since taken his mask off, Mitsuya tried to not make it obvious he was staring at the boy's sunken cheeks and peeling lips. 

 

“Not hungry?” he finally asked.

Takemichi nodded lightly, “I ate earlier. Emma-chan made me soup.”

“Are you feeling better, she said you could barely keep your eyes open when you showed up.”

Takemichi wavered his hand, almost as if he were dismissing it. “It’s nothing, I just haven’t been sleeping well lately.”

“I could help you out. Mana was always a difficult sleeper so I know how to get someone to sleep,” Mitsuya offered, he was genuinely worried for Takemichi.

“I’m fine, really. It’s just a little stressful since taking over the bakery.”

Mitsuya thought for a moment before proposing, “What if you closed another day a week? Or hire some employees? It would make your life a lot easier.”

“I suppose, but who would I hire?”

“Just put up an advertisement out front, I can put it up at work, there’s a lot of rookie designers looking for work on the side.”

Takemichi smiled bright, lightening his previously dull and dim face, “Really, you’d do that for me?”

“Of course, afterall you have helped me a handful of times,” Mitsuya replied. 

 

Takemichi nodded away, he finally stopped picking at crumbs and pushed the jam drops in front of him away.

“You should eat more, you’ve gotten very thin.”

“I’ve been doing a weight loss thing recently. Don’t wanna ruin it already,” he replied.

 

Mitsuya raised an eyebrow. Someone like Takemichi didn’t have to lose weight in the first place, he should know, he’s taken his measurements a handful of times. But he decided not to push for more, knowing Takemichi wouldn’t tell him. 

 

“So how are things going for you? Any shows coming up?” Takemichi asked, Mitsuya noticed the sudden obvious subject change, but he just went along with it.

“Just a few little ones. But on New Year's Eve, there is going to be a massive one in Paris. It will be displaying designers' works from all over the world, I was chosen,” Mitsuya exclaimed, he was really excited about it, but kept his cool demeanor. 

“That’s amazing Mitsuya-kun! This is going to be so good for your career.”

“Mhm, and Hakkai was also chosen as a model,” he added.

Takemichi clapped his hands together, “Ah, couple goals. When are you going to put a ring on that man’s finger?”

Mitsuya felt his face grow warmer, “Actually, I’m planning on proposing to him when the show finishes, just as it hits New Years.”

“So romantic!”

 

Mitsuya was glad Takemichi had changed the topic, because he looked much brighter now. Better.

 

“Yeah, I want everyone to come, it’s most likely going to be the biggest thing Hakkai and I will ever do in our careers. So you better clear your schedule!”

 

New Years was about eight months away. Takemichi was only expected to live no more than six more months. But he still smiled and nodded.

 

“I promise Mitsuya-kun, I’ll be there!”

 

.

 

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Draken asked for the fifth time.

“Yes, Draken-kun, and once again, thank you for cleaning up all the flour.”

“No problem, just make sure to drop some of your delicious treats by my shop.”

“You mean your and Inui-kun’s shop?” 

Draken bit back a smile (and maybe even a blush) “Hmm, why would I want to share with that bozo?”

Mitsuya snorted at his friend, “Mhm, sure. Anyway, tell him to come by my studio tomorrow.”

“Why?!” Draken asked a little too hastily, which he realised quickly, “I mean, sure I can let him know. But just because he’s a business partner, why does he need to come over tomorrow?”

“He’s going to be in a little show this weekend, just want to double check the measurements and do ajustements if need be.”

“A show? Uh, when will it be, just because I want to support my friend.”

 

Takemichi watched the interaction giggling, he did feel much better actually. Mitsuya teasing Draken was an entertaining thing to watch.

 

“Well I can’t really give a time, you see, Inupi is just so popular because of his beauty, we often go off schedule when we have him,” Mitsuya went on dramatically.

Draken was literally about to pop a fuse, “Fine, I’ll just ask him myself!”

“You just want to spend more time with him~”

“Fuck you!”

“Soz, I’m in a relationship, so no can do. You wouldn’t know what that’s like right?”

“I’m literally going to murder you.”

“But what about seeing Inupi?”

 

Draken turned on his heel and walked out of the bakery, muttering a quick ‘bye Takemitchy’. 

 

“Mitsuya-kun, you tease him so much,” Takemichi laughed.

“Hey, I’m just trying to help him. Him and Inupi have been dancing around each other since they were 18 and got the bike shop together.”

“Yeah, well you should probably go home now. I’m sure Hakkai is waiting for you judging by the fact that your phone keeps vibrating.”

Mitsuya rolled his eyes and chuckled, “He’s like a lost little puppy without me, y’know? Ah, but I love ‘im.”

 

“I guess I should be getting back to Emma and Hina’s place, Hina’s probs gonna kick my ass for leaving.”

“Oh she definitely will. Do you need a ride?”

“No, I’m good just walking, it’s not far.” 

 

Mitsuya could have asked again, he wanted to. But it would be pointless, Takemichi would continuously refuse help from others no matter what. 

 

“Alright then. Make sure to eat and sleep more, don’t want your customers to think you’re a zombie,” he teased.

“Ah, an early Halloween costume?” Takemichi joked back.

“Mhm, I’ll swing by tomorrow with my sisters.”

“See you then Mitsuya-kun!”

 

.

 

His face ached. Maybe it was from smiling a bunch earlier, or maybe it was from Hina pinching them because he left when he was supposed to be resting. But once he explained that he was going to change things around and perhaps hire some employees, she was in a better mood knowing he wouldn’t have to be overworking himself anymore. 

 

Emma made him some more soup even though he declined. He was sure that it tasted amazing, but to him, it was like forcing slime from under the toilet down his unwilling throat. Ever since he started losing his taste buds, he ate less and less because it just felt horrible going down. It made things difficult with the bakery, not being able to check himself if something was right, or when he really wanted to try new recipes but couldn’t taste it for himself.

 

Now, you’re probably wondering why Takemichi went through all the trouble of still taking ownership of the bakery even after his terminal diagnosis. Well the answer is simple, he’s Hanagaki Takemichi, the most stubborn fucker on the planet. And if he starts something, he’s going to finish it, even if it’s pointless in the end. Opening a bakery has been a dream of his since he was young. He started that dream, so he was going to finish it, even if the aftermath wouldn’t last long. 





Chapter Text

May 29th, 2017

"No.”

“C’mon, we’re hard workers,” Rindou pleaded, putting on his best puppy dog eyes.

“We can do any hours,” Ran chimed in.

 

Takemichi just stared at them. He had finally decided to close on Wednesdays as well so he could have a break in the middle of the week. And he was excited when he got two replies for employment and asked them both to meet him Wednesday morning in the bakery. Who he did not expect, were the Haitani brothers. 

 

He didn’t have time for this bullshit, Naoto was coming by soon to pick him up. Another stupid appointment, just thinking about it was putting him in a bad mood.

 

“I just don’t understand why, the both of you are very rich who do modelling on the side. I don’t know why you would want to work at some shitty little bakery,” Takemichi exclaimed, adjusting his beanie, tucking a few stray hairs underneath it. 

“We don’t care about the pay or anything. We just wanna spend time with you,” Ran replied, smirking at him.

 

Takemichi pursed his lips and covered his face, a blush would be so obvious on his pale cheeks. He supposes, that his mood improved slightly...only slightly. He sighed and looked over their resumes just to avoid looking at their faces. Their resumes were obviously complete bullshit,

 

Haitani Ran

30 (Don’t look older than 25 ;) )

Is crowned the hottest man alive every year since birth

Everyone thought my braids when I was younger were really cool

Is the cooler Haitani

Loves children (not in the creepy way)

Blah blah blah



Haitani Rindou

28

No, my glasses I wore when I was younger weren’t just for the aesthetic

Gets way more requests to model than my brother

Is the better Haitani

Ran looked like annabell or wednesday addams when he was younger



He cleared his throat, “Y’know everything on these ‘resumes’ is useless. Have you two never had a real job before?”

Rindou went to speak but closed his mouth before looking at his brother, “Does that count?”

“Mhm, it is a full time job,” Ran added mysteriously.

 

Takemichi just looked at them dumbfounded, with no idea that the full time job they speak of is ‘simping for Hanagaki Takemichi’.

 

“Please, just once chance. We will even be professional and call you Hanagaki-san,” Rindou begged with his hands clasped together.

“Or ‘Boss’. C’mon, let us prove to you that we’re good workers,” Ran said.

His eyes flicked between the two of them before sighing, “Fine. One chance, you hear me. This place means a lot to me and if you two-”

“We won’t ruin anything.”

He glanced down at his watch, Naoto will be here any minute. “I’ll contact the both of you by the weekend. I’ll have to ask Mitsuya-kun if he can make you two some aprons.”

“Thank you so much!”

“We’ll behave!”

 

Takemichi picked his phone up when a notification went off. “Okay, I need to go now, so take your shitty resumes and get out.”

“Where are you going?” Rindou asked, pouting. Ran already saw Naoto waiting outside and scowled. 

“What happened to professionalism? You don’t need to know things about your boss’ personal life.”

 

.

 

“The Haitani’s? Seriously?” 

“You see, I knew you would say something as soon as I got in the car,” Takemichi snapped. His bad mood was back because he knew today's appointment was going to be a bunch of blood tests and he hated needles.  

Naoto just shot him a quick concerned glance before looking back to the road, “They said the next round of chemo is really gonna start making your hair fall out. You won’t be able to hide it for much longer.”

 

Takemichi kept silent. His hair had already started thinning out, it became almost religious to wear the beanie now, especially since all of his friends have a habit of ruffling/playing with his hair. 

 

“I said I’ll tell them after the wedding,” he murmured. 

“Yeah, and the wedding is this weekend. So you better fucking prepare your speech.”

 

The next two days were going to be very busy, Takemichi had Emma and Hina’s wedding cake to make, and it had to be perfect. 

 

/

 

“M-Mikey-kun, what are you doing here?” Takemichi asked after seeing him follow in after Emma and Hina.

“Just making sure my sis doesn’t pick a stupid cake. Not happy to see me Takemitchy?”

“No it’s not that! I just...didn’t know you were coming, that’s all.”

 

Mikey nodded before wrapping his arm around Takemichi’s shoulder, “Well come on then, you’re about to ask two women to make a decision. Better prepare yourself.”

“We can hear you Mikey!” Emma shouted from the dining table. 

 

Mikey just poked out his tongue childishly, he let go of Takemichi so he could sit down. But he moved his own chair closer to Takemichi’s, he pretended he didn’t see the look that Hina and Emma both sent him.

 

Takemichi went through many options with the girls, Mikey propped his head on his hand and just watched him. He really did everything he could to make his love obvious to Takemichi, but the other never noticed. He could always just outright say it, like he did with everything else. But Takemichi was different, he couldn’t find the courage to do so, fearing rejection. So instead, he will just ramble about his cursed love to everyone else. 

 

“Oh Emma, what about this one?” Hina gestured to one of the photos on the table. Emma clapped her hands together excitedly, “Yes! That’s the one. Takemichi-kun, this one please.”

“I’ll do my best!” he said with a smile. 

 

/

 

Takemichi squeezed Naoto’s hand tightly as the needle went in. His eyes screwed shut and his lips quivering. Naoto couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling in his gut, seeing his friend like this, in so much discomfort. 

 

“You need to stop overworking yourself otherwise you’ll be confined to the hospital by next week,” The doctor warned. 

“I know. I’ve hired some employees and taken more days (day) off,” he mumbled, trying to breathe deeply and not vomit. 

“How is your memory?”

“Alright, I guess. It hasn’t really been affected,” yet

“Appetite?”

“Well after losing my taste buds, I can barely even force myself to eat.”

 

Both Naoto and the doctor shot him a look.

 

“If you-”

“Yeah yeah, if I don’t eat, I’ll have to be tube fed, I know.”

“Hanagaki-san, I do wish you would take this more seriously.”

“I am as serious as a heart attack. Ah, wouldn’t that be better than cancer,” he chuckled to himself lightly, ignoring the tightening feeling in his chest.

 

.

 

He always hated this. Sitting in an uncomfortable chair for three hours while the drugs were pumped into his system. Usually, if it were Hina with him, they’d watch a movie on her ipad and eat things from the bakery. With Naoto, it was usually more quiet. Either that or Naoto going off on speeches about how he needs to tell everyone. 

 

Takemichi would joke about how he wasn’t bald yet. Since when he got his diagnosis, the cancer had already spread around his body, and the tumour in his brain was too big, and covering vital parts that it was too dangerous to have surgery. So he never needed to have his head shaved for brain surgery. 

 

Today, it was quiet. Naoto’s hand in his. His own eyes were watching a small child sitting in a chair across from him. They were crying and pulling at their hair which fell out in clumps in their hands. He always thought he was unlucky for getting cancer in his twenties, while there were young children who got it as well. He felt selfish. Everything he did felt selfish. He really wasn’t telling his friends about his condition now because he didn't want to be confronted, didn’t want to have to see their faces because he’d been lying to them for more than a year.

 

“Takemichi, please keep your promise. Promise me you’ll tell them yourself because I don’t want to have to do it,” Naoto finally spoke, he looked at Takemichi with a tearful expression.

He smiled weakly and squeezed Naoto’s hand, “I promise.”

 

Chapter Text

May 30th, 2017

On Thursday afternoon, Izana and Kakucho showed up, in all their glory (and serious jetlag), eager for some treats to replenish their energy and perhaps a sweet smile from the baker. Izana, surprisingly, was the first to notice Takemichi’s off behaviour.

 

“You’re slouching,” the voice might as well have given the poor man a heart attack. He had just closed up and certainly wasn’t expecting someone to be in the same room as him. After an embarrassing yelp, he realised who it was. 

“Izana-kun, Kaku-chan!” He smiled brightly and dusted the powdered sugar off his hands before walking over, Kakucho embracing him in a hug. 

“You’re back for the wedding, how was your flight?”

“It was alright, this idiot took the easy way out and just took sleeping pills,” Kakucho grumbled, pointing to Izana. 

“Emma told me you’re making her wedding cake. You better not fuck it up.” It wasn’t some kind gesture, Takemichi gulped, it was a threat. 

“O-of course not Izana-kun,” he chuckled nervously and tried to avoid the violet gaze.

“I’m serious Hanagaki, this is my little sis’ wedding. It’s always been her dream to be a bride,” Izana added, his voice now softer, filled with sincerity.

“C’mon, don’t scare him. Look around you, it looks like he has a lot of work to do,” Kakucho gestured to the multitude of ingredients and pictures of the wedding cake Hina and Emma had decided on covering the room. 

 

“Kakucho, can you wait in the car, I want to talk to Hanagaki privately.”

“Uh sure. I’ll either see you tomorrow or at the wedding on Saturday Michi!”

“Bye Kaku-chan,” he waved goodbye before nervously meeting Izana’s eyes. 

 

Izana took a step closer, peering at the trembling baker, “Why are you so scared?”

“I-I’m not!”

“C’mon, I’m not that scary. You know I’m just looking out for Emma.”

“I know.”

“What’s with the beanie? It looks stupid.”

“Huh?! Leave me alone,” Takemichi grumbled and self-consciously pulled the beanie down further. 

“Why are you wearing it? Why are you slouching? Why do you look like shit?” Each question felt like a punch to the gut. 

 

He subconsciously scratched the back of his neck, “It’s nothing. Just thought the beanie would be a cool look, it also stops my hair getting into the food I make.”

“Why do you look like shit? You literally look worn down the bone. Better be lookin’ fresh for the wedding, can’t have someone who looks like a corpse in the group photos.”

“I think you should go, Izana-kun. Kaku-chan is waiting. I also heard Shinichiro-san is back in town now, knowing him, he’s probably at Draken-kun’s and Inui-kun’s bike shop. You should go see him,” Takemichi deflected, turning on his heels and walking over to the sink to wash his hands.

 

He could feel Izana’s eyes on him, piercing through him.

 

“Fine. But get some sleep dumbass, maybe then you’ll stop looking like a Tim Burton character.”

 

Even though Izana’s way of showing care was sometimes harsh and a little mean, Takemichi appreciated it, he nodded and gave a light smile. 

 

“I guess I’ll see you at the wedding,” Izana mumbled before turning on his heel.

“Bye Izana-kun.”

 

.

 

It was nearing 11 pm when Takemichi found himself on the ground slumped against the floor. He had spent hours creating all the edible decorations out of fondant and similar things. It was an extremely intricate process, sculpting hundreds of detailed flowers that would adorn the wedding cake in its final form. His fingers ached and he was moments away from taping his eyes open because they kept closing involuntarily. 

 

If he had heard the knocking, he might have jumped out of his skin, similarly to how he did with Izana earlier. But he was in his own daze, solely focusing on keeping himself awake. He still had some decorations left to do. He didn’t have time tomorrow. Even though he was closing the bakery for the rest of the week, he had a lot of actual baking to do. The cake as well as other treats for the wedding on Saturday. He only noticed the knocking, not because of the noise, but rather the feeling. You see, he was leaning against the door that was being pounded upon. The vibrations rippling through his back ripped him out of his daydream state and he got up and opened the door, wondering who the hell was banging on the back door of a bakery at 11pm on a Thursday night. 

 

Sano Shinichiro, that’s who. Perhaps the last person he expected. He knew that the oldest Sano only just returned back to Japan that very day from his vast global traveling. And assumed that he would either be in bed, like a normal person this time of night, or with his siblings. 

 

“Take-kun, are you just gonna stand there like a stunned mullet or are you gonna let me in? It’s freezing out ‘ere.”

“Uh, of course Shinichiro-san!” he moved out of the way, allowing him inside.

 

Shinichiro’s eyes were similar to Mikey’s, obsidian pools, they looked around the back room. Takemichi was nervous, he didn’t really have the energy for another sibling of Emma’s to critique his work. He really was trying his best to make the perfect wedding cake for her and Hina. 

 

“Stunned mullet, ay? What does that mean?” Takemichi asked, breaking the silence.

“Something they say in Australia. They are funny people y’know? With their slang,” he chuckled to himself, remembering his most recent stop before returning to Japan for his sister’s wedding. 

“Ah.”

“These look really good, you’re totally overworking yourself here Take-kun. Emma will love it,” Shinichiro gestured to the already crafted fondant flowers lined up perfectly upon the cold metal bench. 

 

Takemichi, the modest prick, never could deal with praise. He scratched the back of his neck,

 

“They’re not that great, I should have used a different tool and-”

“Stop. They look amazing, don’t question that.”

 

Shinichiro was the kind of person that was everyone’s big brother, and well, he was eleven years older than Takemichi. He was wise, he was warm and he was just the kinda guy who could reassure you with a few words. 

 

Takemichi nodded silently, watching the oldest Sano look around the room, at the pictures pinned to the wall. All of them were of his friends. They were all of the times where Takemichi let them help him bake things. Which meant these photos captured a lot of chaotic moments, but many smiles. 



One, Shinichiro chuckled at, Chifuyu’s face was covered in chocolate cake batter, Kazutora was crying in the corner and Baji was screaming because his hair was on fire.

 

“Ah, Kei never learns, does he?”

“I told him to tie his hair up,” Takemichi replied, walking over to Shinichiro. 

 

There was another, Souya trying to rip out the sticky meringue that was glueing itself to Nahoya’s thick curls. Another, Mikey and Draken screaming at each other over how many chocolate chips were supposed to go into the mix. One with Hakkai running out the door, Mitsuya not too far behind, spatula in hand. There were some not so chaotic ones, Hina and Senju throwing peace signs while Emma was telling off Mikey in the background. One of this faves, was an egg throwing contest. A beautifully drawn picture of Taiju as a monster (thanks Mana), pinned to the wall while everyone (specifically Hakkai and Yuzuha) threw eggs at the picture. 

 

“How come you’re not in any of these?” Shinichiro asked, gesturing to the photo wall.

“Well I was either taking the photos or in the background crying because they were destroying my kitchen,” Takemichi smiled to himself

 

Shinichiro grabbed one of the pictures and looked at Takemichi. It was a picture of Mikey smiling warmly at the camera. 

 

“This is a smile I don’t see often. A real genuine one,” Shinichiro said.

 

Takemichi tore his eyes away from the picture, he couldn’t look at that smile. Shinichiro sent him a quick glance,
“You alright?”

“Just tired.”

“Who took this photo?”

He pursed his lips, “I did.”

“He was looking at you with a smile like that,”

“Please, Shinichiro-san, don’t start.”

“Manjirou cares about you so much.”

Don’t .”

“He calls me nearly everyday and do you know who he mentions every time, without fail?”

 

Takemichi shook his head and squeezed his eyes shut.

 

“I don’t want to have this talk again Shinichiro-san-”

“You. ‘Takemitchy made me dorayaki today’, ‘Takemitchy had flour on his nose and didn’t even realise it’, ‘Takemitchy was so cute tod-”

“Stop! Please!” Takemichi begged.

Shinichiro grabbed Takemichi’s shoulders and made him look at him, “You know, don’t you? You know how Manjirou feels about you.”

“Of course I know! I’m not as oblivious as everyone thinks!” Takemichi snapped. 

“Then why don’t you do anything about it? It’s been 12 years, Take-kun. You’re a great guy but it’s painful y’know? He doesn’t show it, but Manjirou gets really hurt. Can you at least reject him? So he can at least know you don’t feel the same way.”

 

Takemichi knew Shinichiro was trying to be a good big brother. But he truly didn’t understand anything. 

 

“It’s not that I don’t return those feelings Shinichiro-san, it’s that I can’t. I can’t and I also can’t explain it.”

“You know I’m just looking out for him.”

Takemichi nodded tearfully, “I know. You’re a good brother. But please trust me, Mikey would be hurt way more if we were together.”

Shinichiro looked at him in confusion, “What do you mean? You two are perfect for each other.”

“In another life, if things were different, I would have picked Mikey, I would have confessed, I would have allowed myself to return those feelings, a thousand times over. But in this one, in this life, there are things that I can’t change. And because of that, I can’t. I can’t pick Mikey.”

 

Takemichi didn’t expect Shinichiro to smile at him. He expected him to maybe be angry, for spouting such nonsense, for hurting his brother. But Shinichiro smiled.

 

“Since when did you get so philosophical,” he muttered playfully, pulling Takemichi into a side hug.

“You’re not going to question me?”

“Nope. I trust you. You always make the decisions that will affect others the least, you’re a selfless bastard y’know. If what you’re doing will hurt Manjirou less, then I trust you. But please, let him know, the sooner the better. Even after 12 years, he still had hope y’know? That you two could be together.”

“I promise I’m not singling Mikey out. It’s the same for anyone, everyone will be hurt less if I just keep to myself.”

Shinichiro looked down at him, “You sure you’re alright Take-kun?”

For the first time in a long time, Takemichi gave truth to a question like such, he shook his head and smiled lightly, “No, I’m not Shinichiro-san. But it’s okay.”

 

Shinichiro, like anyone, knew Takemichi well enough to not push when he gave answers like that. Because they knew he wouldn’t tell them anything else, he didn’t like others to worry for him. 

“Look after Manjirou for me, will ya? With me and ‘Zana off in different parts of the world, Emma is going to be on honeymoon soon in her lovely married life, and Ken has his own life, do you think you could watch out for him? Even if you can’t do it through a romantic relationship?”

“I promise, Shinichiro-san. I’ll do my best not to hurt him.”

 

.

 

“I’d offer to help but I wouldn’t want to ruin anything,” Shinichiro admitted sheepishly.

“It’s alright, I only have a few left to do then I’m going home,” Takemichi replied, gesturing to the fondant flowers.

 

Shinichiro nodded and said goodbye, making his exit. But Takemichi stopped him, calling out,

 

“Shinichiro-san...would you happen to have a spare cigarette on you?”

“Wanna have a smoke with me Take-kun? Wouldn’t have expected someone like you to smoke.”

“I can be unpredictable sometimes."

Chapter Text

May 31st, 2017

Takemichi did in fact, not end up going home that night. Rather, he didn’t finish the decorations until nearly two am and couldn’t have been bothered to walk home when he would be coming back in a few hours. Rather he laid on the small couch in his tiny office in the back and called it a night (or morning per se). 

 

When he awoke around 8 am with a multitude of texts from both Hina and Naoto reminding him to take his medication and to not overwork himself. He texted Hina back telling her she should be getting her beauty sleep since she was getting married tomorrow. 

 

Hina: 🤜👨‍🍳 

Hina: bitch you think I need beauty sleep?? I’m pretty enough without it

 

Me: ofc ofc

Me: enjoy your last day a free woman bitch

Me: also yes i’ve taken my meds

 

Lies.

 

Hina: if i wasn’t curled up in the arms of my beloved i would be beating your ass rn

Hina: also good job, i’m glad your taking your meds without having to be told

 

Lies.

 

Me: really? Beat the weak guy, real ethical hina

Me: i literally have all the power. I. Will. Fuck. Up. Your. Cake.

 

Lies. Obviously, he wouldn’t do that.

 

Hina: you wouldn’t dare!

 

Me: sleep with one eye open sweetie

 

Takemichi tore his attention away from Hina when another notification popped up.

 

Five (5) unopened messages from Kazu🦁

🖵 Open

🖵 Close

 

✅ Open Selected

 

Kazu🦁: Take, can I come over??

Kazu🦁: r u at home or the bakery

Kazu🦁: fuck i don’t feel good

Kazu🦁: it’s one of those days, i can’t be around Kei and Fuyu

Kazu🦁: im coming to the bakery, your there more than your own house

 

Me: hey Kazu yeah im at the bakery

Me: everything alright?

 

Kazu🦁: oh shit

Kazu🦁: you’re making Emma and Hina’s wedding cake

Kazu🦁: your busy i’m sorry, i’m turning around

 

Me: don’t

Me: it’s fine

Me: come over

Me: i’ll unlock the door for you, come ‘round the back way

 

Kazu🦁: u sure it’s fine??

Kazu🦁: i don’t wanna bother you

 

Me: i already said it’s fine

 

Kazu🦁: okay

Kazu🦁: i’ll be there in a few mins

Kazu🦁: thanks Take

 

Me: np

 

Takemichi forced himself up and off the couch, groaning as every joint cracked at the movement. He made a mental note to drop by his house sometime today to have his medication otherwise he might just literally die. He rubbed the sleep from his tired eyes and trudged over to the bathroom connected to his office. 

 

He, once again, might have nearly had a heart attack, when he saw his appearance. His beanie had come off in his sleep. He grimaced. He had grown so used to wearing it, he forgot what the underneath looked like. It wasn’t that his hair was falling out and there were bald patches (that hadn’t happened yet, he was grateful), but rather his hair was thinning and no matter how many times he washed it, it was greasy. His curls were no longer fluffy and pleasant to run your hands through. He didn’t dare do something like that, terrified clumps of hair would fill his hand if he did so. 

 

He splashed water onto his face, rubbing under his eyes. He could have spent hours feeling sorry for himself, but he had no such time for that. He walked out and unlocked the back door, just as he did so, there was knocking on the other side. Talk about timing. He opened the door with a smile, it dropped when he saw Kazutora sobbing at his doorstep. He ushered the other inside, Kazutora promptly wrapping his arms around the other and pushing his face into Takemichi’s neck. 

 

“Kazu-kun…” he was going to ask ‘are you okay?’, but that was stupid. He obviously wasn’t. Takemichi hated when others asked such a question of himself too. 

“Coffee? How about I make some breakfast for the both of us, hm?”

 

Kazutora didn’t trust his voice and simply nodded into Takemichi’s neck. Kazutora kept himself latched to Takemichi’s thin and frail frame as he walked over to the kitchen, turning the kettle on.

 

“Do Baji-kun and Chifuyu know you’re here?”

Kazutora cleared his throat a few times before saying, “Kei was still asleep and ‘Fuyu had already left for the pet shop by the time I woke up. I sent them a text though, saying I was coming here.”

 

Takemichi hummed, pulling out some eggs and putting bread in the toaster. He had a few breakfast type items in his fridge and pantry aside from the baking ingredients since it wasn’t exactly a rare occurrence for him to stay the night in his office. 

 

“I’ll make some breakfast then we’ll talk. Do you wanna go sit in my office?”

Kazutora gripped Takemichi tighter and the latter winced slightly, having barely any fat or muscle to cushion it, “No...wanna stay here,” he mumbled. 

 

Takemichi nodded and patted the top of Kazutora’s head. They had an unusual friendship. Simply in the way that no one would expect the two to be so close. When considering Baji, Chifuyu and Kazutora, anyone who knew them would assume Takemichi was the closest with Chifuyu. And perhaps, that was the case in some ways. But Kazutora and Takemichi had developed a deep understanding of one another over the years. Kazutora, with his mental illnesses that after several years of therapy were finally under control, sometimes had ‘bad days’. These days, he is overcome with overwrought emotion, distasteful memories of the past and is terrified he is going to hurt someone he loved like he did in the past. 

 

Like the time when he was only 12 years old. He and Baji wanted to get a bike for Mikey for his birthday and in the process of attempting to steal it, he nearly swung a wrench over Shinichiro’s head. Violence had always been his answer for ‘fight or flight’. As he grew older, he felt himself becoming more and more consumed by his intrusive thoughts that one time he couldn’t take it anymore and attempted to act on the one that told him to stab Baji. Thankfully, Mikey stopped him. But he felt so disgusted with himself. Nearly hurting two people in ways that could have been fatal. 

 

Thankfully, since then, it has been 12 years. And Kazutora has gotten the help he needed, looking after the pets and being in a relationship with Chifuyu and Baji is going really well for him. But on those bad days, he nor Takemichi really knew how it came to be, but Kazutora would spend those days with Takemichi. Takemichi would bake him whatever he wanted and let him talk things through. Kazutora loved Baji and Chifuyu with all his heart, but when it came to his childhood abuse and abandonment, they just couldn’t understand and relate like Takemichi could. 

 

Takemichi was the last person Kazutora would have ever expected to be a victim of abuse and neglect. He’d never pay a second glance when Takemichi had injuries, it was normal to expect that they were from gang activities. He didn’t notice it at first, but when he finally did, he realised there were some days where Takemichi was a bit off. It was only slight differences, the slight drop or wince in his smile, the dullness of his eyes, the extra sighs. 

 

But Kazutora still didn’t expect abuse, rather, it was the neglect he figured out first. Anytime he, with or without Toman went to his house, it was empty aside from Takemichi. There were no photos on the walls, no cosy feeling, no memories. It would be Takemichi who would make dinner, who would already be making breakfast when they awoke the next morning after a sleepover. It had been Mitsuya who had first asked about his parents. Mitsuya, a child of neglect too, noticed such things. 

 

“Oh, um well I never really knew my dad. He left before I could even make memories with him and my mum is super busy with work,” Takemichi replied, waving a spatula in hand. 

“So you’re just here alone? No one looks after you?” Draken asked.

“It’s fine Draken-kun, really, I know how to look after myself.”

 

Draken was silent. He didn’t know his parents either, but being raised in the brothel was never lonely. He always had the girls to talk to. They basically raised him. 

 

“Don’t overthink it. My mum comes home, it’s not like she’s never here,” Takemichi chuckled to himself, turning back to the stove. Kazutora didn’t miss the falter in his expression.

 

.

 

Kazutora soon figured out the timelines. Takemichi didn’t let anyone come over the third weekend of every month, nor the Tuesdays and Thursdays of every second week. On those days, Takemichi would either not come to school, or would have a suspicious amount of more injuries than normal. Kazutora was abused himself by his father, it ended a few years ago after he moved in with his mother, but he knew how abused kids acted, how they lied, how they hid things. 

 

It was when they were 16 and 17, when Kazutora was 100% sure, before questioning Takemichi alone. Takemichi of course tried to deny it but when Kazutora revealed himself, his own experience, the blonde (at the time) broke down in his arms. 

///

 

“I know Takemichi.”
“You shouldn’t say such things like that, Kazu-kun. It seems a bit suspicious,” Takemichi giggled to himself. 

“Your mother abuses you, doesn’t she?” Kazutora persisted.

 

Takemichi’s demeanor snapped at that moment. He turned to face Kazutora and stared at him, “What the hell are you talking about?”

“I figured it out, Takemichi. Not only does she neglect you, but when she does come home, she hits you? I know, you’re always more hurt and you act differently on the days she comes home.”

“You don’t know anything,” he snapped, going to walk away but Kazutoa grabbed his arm. 

 

He bit back a wince, Kazutora still noticed. He pulled back the long sleeves of Takemichi’s high school uniform, revealing fingerprint bruises and red lashes fresh on his arm. He hated how he recognised the pattern. When his father would grab him by the arm and drag him around. And the lashes from the ruler when he did something wrong. 

 

“I got mugged, that's all,” Takemichi mumbled, trying to pull the sleeve down. 

“Stop Takemichi! I know because I have been through this! I recognise these things because it’s my life too!” he exclaimed.

 

Takemichi’s eyes were blown wide, quickly filling with familiar tears. 

 

///

 

Kazutora hadn’t been physically abused in years, but he understood the feeling of neglect. His mother, despite begging him to choose her over his father, refused to show him any care. ‘Why would I care for a brat with the same blood as that monster?!’

 

Takemichi had cried in his arms and explained everything. How his mother would come home drunk every time without fail, beating him not for doing anything wrong, but simply for his appearance. He learnt that Takemichi was half English, and that his father had blue eyes and black hair. He explained that was why he started dying his hair blonde in middle school, he had even tried contacts to make his eyes brown but they hurt his eyes too much. His mother despised his mother and would punish Takemichi for looking like him. 

 

That day, it was Kazutora that comforted him

 

But now, it was Takemichi who comforted him, every time. 

 

He kept himself by Takemichi’s side as the latter made himself and him breakfast before the two settled at a table in the front area of the bakery. 

 

“Why were you here so early?” Kazutora asked, stabbing his fork into his egg.

“I uh, slept here last night,” Takemichi mumbled, eyeing his toast with a grimace. 

“Wh-”

“You, Kazu-kun. We’re talking about you right now. What was it this time?” the softness and warmth of Takemichi’s voice always put him at ease. 

Kazutora sighed, his eyes hurt from his crying earlier. “Nightmares, y’know, usual stuff, mum and dad fighting. But, at the end, there was you.”

“Me?”

“You were walking away. I kept calling out to you but you weren’t answering. I thought you were leaving me,” Kazutora admitted sadly.

Takemichi felt his gut drop. But he smiled and grabbed Kazutora’s hand, “Hey, I’m right here, I’m not going anywhere. No need to worry.”

Kazutora sniffled and looked at him with teary sunflower eyes, “You promise? I wouldn’t be able to handle it if you left me, Take.”

“I promise I’ll never leave you, okay? Why would I ever leave you,” Takemichi could feel his insides twisting in ways they shouldn’t. 

 

Kazutora smiled weakly, wiping his tears, “Thanks, I just really needed your reassurance. Those nightmares, they’re so scary. They feel so real.”

“....I know,” Takemichi whispered.

Chapter Text

May 31st, 2017

Kazutora, Takemichi figured out a few months ago, was surprisingly very good in the kitchen. And one of the only people he actually trusted to bake with, aside from Mitsuya and the twins. It was just when Kazutora was grouped with Baji and Chifuyu or Mikey when things turned into havoc. 

 

They worked together well, they didn’t need to talk. Takemichi would hum and Kazutora might tap his foot to the beat. Kazutora helped him with mixing the cake batter and measuring ingredients, it was very helpful. It was a little troublesome, and perhaps a safety hazard, that Kazutora was clinging to him, touching him in some way at all times. 

 

“Kazu-kun, I’m about to put this in the oven, could you let me go? Just for a second?”

 

Kazutora hesitated before slowly unwrapping his arms from Takemichi’s waist. The moment the cake had been put in the oven and the door was closed, Kazutora pounced on him again. Takemichi looked down at him with concern, tucking his long hair behind his ear.

 

“I’m right here, I’m not just going to disappear,” he cooed, brushing the stray hairs back into Kazutora’s ponytail. 

“I’m sorry...I was just so scared,” he mumbled. 

“It’s alright, you can still hold onto me. But I don’t want to hurt you, the oven and stove is on and-” Takemichi cut himself off when he swayed in his spot, a sudden headache washing over him. 

 

If Kazutora hadn’t been latched onto him, he might have just fallen to the floor. That grip, which tightened,

“Takemichi! Are you okay?”

“I’m...I’m fine. I think...Ugh...just need some water, I have a headache,” he groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose. 

“C’mon, you need to sit down.”

“I-I’m fine- woah!” He might have expected Kazutora to walk him to his office, but no, Kazutora picked Takemichi up in his arms and carried him. He placed Takemichi down on the couch and sat beside him, trembling.

“Do...Do I need to call anyone? An ambulance!” 

“No, it’s alright. I uh just haven't taken my iron supplements yet,” Takemichi forced out, squeezing his eyes shut, trying to ignore the pain. 

 

It wasn’t later, he needed to take his medication now. He fished his phone out of his pocket,

 

“Look, I’m calling Naoto to bring me my medication. Can you please turn the oven and stove off?”

“B-but will you be okay?” Kazutora asked frantically. 

“Yeah...I will.”

 

Kazutora looked back at him nervously before jumping up and walking to the kitchen. Takemichi called Naoto,

 

“Hello? Takemichi?”

“Naoto! A-are you busy right now?”

“No, I was actually on my way to check on you. Everything alright?”

“Not really, no. Could you drop by my place and pick up my medication?”

“Why haven’t you taken it yet? And the fact that you’re asking for it means that you’re being affected.”

“Please Naoto, I- god my head hurts so much. I need to get rid of this headache as soon as possible to make your sister's wedding cake.”

“Do you-”

“No, I don’t need to go to the hospital. I don’t have time for that anyway.”

“Alright, I’ll get it. Be there in 15.”

“Thank you. Ah also Kazutora is here, so don’t say anything.“

“If you just told him-”

 

After hanging up he clenched the phone in his hand, his head was throbbing. He felt something cold press against his lips, he opened his eyes with a bottle of water right in front of him, Kazutora looking at him with wide worried eyes. He was still shaking, knowing Kazutora, even though it had nothing to do with him, simply because he was present, he’d blame himself. 

 

“I’m...I’m not going anywhere Kazu, mmk? I’m alright,” Takemichi smiled weakly and held out his hand for Kazutora to hold. 

 

Kazutora basically snatched his hand, squeezing it tightly, rocking himself slightly with closed eyes, he was reassuring himself that Takemichi was okay and that he was right here, that he wasn’t going anywhere. Because Takemichi promised. 

 

It was funny , Takemichi thought to himself, that I’m comforting Kazutora right now. Can it even be called comforting though? Since I’m lying right through my teeth to his face? I have a maximum of six months left to live, it’ll probably be much less than that anyway, since I don’t know how to stop overworking myself.

 

There were words at the tip of his tongue, basically begging to be enunciated, to be said out loud. He had to purse his lips shut, so he wouldn’t just go out and say “I’m dying. I’m not okay. I have cancer. It’s terminal.”

 

But...maybe I could tell Kazutora. He wouldn’t tell anyone if I asked him to...he didn’t tell anyone about my abuse. Kazutora was the person who helped me get out of my abusive home, one of the main people who helped me move into my new house, learn how to overcome trauma.

.

.

.

 

But I can’t. He’s here, trembling beside me, begging me to not leave him. I can’t do that. I can’t tell him. 

 

Footsteps approaching the room notified him that Naoto was here. 

 

“We’re in the office!” he called out.

 

Naoto walked in, he had put the medication in a bag that wasn’t see through, obviously to hide it’s contents from Kazutora. Takemichi petted Kazutora’s head and leaned down to whisper, “I just need to take some pills. Then, can you help me with the cakes? There’s a lot to be done.”

 

Kazutora nodded silently, he couldn’t take his eyes off the bag of pills. Why would he need so many? It didn’t make sense. Nothing with Takemichi ever did. Anyone who knows Takemichi knows that he’s comforting to be around, it’s just his presence. He somehow just always knows what to say and what not to say to make everyone feel better. But there always is this coldness behind his smiles, this slight feeling of emptiness. 

 

It makes you wonder sometimes, perhaps it's late at night but do you even know a single thing about Hanagaki Takemichi? He never talks about himself, and if someone else questions, he has a way with words that makes you think you know his answer but in reality you maybe know even less than when you started. 

 

Kazutora was never the best at reading the room, but he wasn’t stupid. He noticed the looks between Naoto and Takemichi, a big part of him told him to question it. But he knew Takemichi, perhaps even better than himself. He knew things about Takemichi no one else knew but some people knew things he had absolutely no knowledge of

 

He knew Takemichi would simply reassure him that it was just a headache. So instead, he stood up mumbling a quick, “I’ll be in the kitchen,” before leaving the office.

 

.

 

Takemichi avoided Naoto’s intense stare, focusing on swallowing all the pills. God, there were so many. He never used to be able to swallow pills, it was something he always struggled with as a kid. He’d have to either break them into little pieces or put them in a glass of water and drink that. Now, he could swallow several at once, he thought one time since I can now do this...I could easily just overdose. He had more than enough pills in his possession to do that. But he didn’t do it. He was weak and hated the effect of the cancer, but he didn’t want to die. Not yet anyway. 

 

“You promised me that you will tell everyone. The wedding is tomorrow for god sake!”

 

Takemichi stayed silent and gulped the last of the medication. 

 

“You have no idea how infuriating it is to see you wither away like this. Don’t you want your last moments to be surrounded by people caring for you?” Naoto’s tone hushed near the end, knowing Kazutora was just in the next room. He wanted people to know about Takemichi’s condition, but he wasn’t going to tell anyone without his permission. 

 

Takemichi shook his head, “No, I don’t want my last moments to be people pitying me, feeling sorry for me, wishing they could do something to change my premature death. Because that sounds pathetic! I want to spend the rest of my life living my life as usual, my friends treating me as usual and not like someone’s mum’s fragile china plate.”

 

Naoto’s eyes widened. Takemichi was heaving and he clenched his chest. He had never said such things out loud. At that moment, Naoto understood his friend. He truly understood for the first time why Takemichi wouldn’t tell anyone. He knows damn well that if he and his sister weren’t there when Takemichi passed out from an intense ‘headache’ that ended up in a cancerous brain tumour diagnosis, they wouldn’t know about his condition either. Because Takemichi wouldn’t want them worrying for him because Takemichi is just like that. That’s just how he is. He’s too damn selfless for his own good and it makes Naoto want to slap him. 

 

.

 

After Naoto left (it took a lot of Takemichi begging and telling him his sister wouldn’t have a wedding cake and everyone would have to deal with her wrath for him to agree) Takemichi and Kazutora set off for real this time to make the cake bases.

 

It was going to be five tiers, once the cake was finished Takemichi sent Kazutora home since Chifuyu kept texting him.

 

“Are you sure you’re going to be alright?”

“I will be, I feel much better now. And thank you for your help. All I have to do is decorate and it’ll be done,” Takemichi assured.

“And you won’t be sleeping here tonight?” Kazutora asked with a raised eyebrow.

“Nope. I’m spending the night at Senju and Yuzuha’s place, I asked them to do my hair and make me look not so dead for the wedding.”

“So...I’ll see you tomorrow at the wedding,” it was more as if Kazutora was reassuring himself rather than asking Takemichi.

“Yep, stop worrying, Chifuyu is literally blowing up my phone with texts. Go home, Baji-kun will rip my throat out if you’re not home by five.”


Kazutora chuckled and pulled Takemichi in for one more hug, “Goodbye Take.”

“Bye Kazu-kun.”

Chapter Text

May 31st, 2017

“Come oooooon Takemichi! Let me see a picture of the cake!” Senju whined, hanging off his arm.

“He already told you, it’s a surprise. You’ll see it tomorrow anyway, so stop being nosy,” Yuzuha poked her wife with her chopstick, Senju in turn stuck out her tongue. Senju looked up at him with puppy eyes and a pout, her hands put together in the praying position.

“Pretty please Takemichi?” She batted her long eyelashes a few times for flair.

Takemichi snorted, “No Senju. It’s supposed to be a surprise.

“Agruiegdfouewbfouewgfobviu,” she really was quite so dramatic as she crumpled to the floor and rolled around grumbling about how she wanted to see the cake. 

Yuzuha smiled apologetically at him, “Sorry ‘bout her. She’s not the most patient person.”

“It’s alright Yuzuha-chan. Um, thanks for letting me stay the night. I’ll be leaving early in the morning just to make sure the cake gets to the venue alright and then I’ll be back,” he explained.

“All good, try not to pull your back out or anything while lifting the cake,” she joked, kicking Senju lighting on the side who was still on the floor. 

“Ah don’t worry about that, I have strong hands helping me. Draken-kun and the twins.”

“They get to see the cake before me?!” Senju screeched from the floor, fake tears streaming down her face, you’d think you were watching some Shakespeare play right now. 

“Ah no Senju, the cake is all boxed up, so none of them will see it.”

 

She sighed, relieved. She really got worked up over sweet things, she was kinda like Mikey. But never say that out loud, the two for some reason can’t stand being in the same room as each other without going off at each other. 

 

“I think I’m gonna go to bed, big day tomorrow,” Takemichi announced.

“Ah, I’ll get you a futon, Senju, sweetie, get the fuck up.”

“Yes ma’am,” Senju jumped up and did a flip because why not. 

 

.

June 1st, 2017

Today was the big day. And there was so much to do. Takemichi woke early and headed to the bakery. He wanted to ensure everything was packaged properly so it wouldn’t be damaged on the drive from the bakery to the venue. He trusted Souya’s driving, Nahoya’s...not so much. The twins had been kind enough to lend their van to move the cake, but this thing was massive. So that’s why Draken was called in, because they needed real muscle. Takemichi was sure that Mikey would have whined saying ‘I’m stronger than any of them’, but right now, he kind of wanted to avoid Mikey. Not obviously, but...enough so Mikey doesn’t use his crazy x-ray stare and figure out something is wrong with him. He realised that he hadn’t seen Mikey much lately, it was strange, since Mikey would usually drop by the bakery on the daily. He couldn’t say he was exactly against it, as more time went on, it became harder and harder to face Mikey. 

 

He hated the feelings, he hated the surge in his throat, he hated the flutter in his stomach, he hated the gravitational pull between the two of them. He knew what all those things meant and he couldn’t allow it to happen. He couldn’t accept those feelings for Mikey. 

 

“Takemichi, are you okay?” Souya’s soft voice ripped him out of his thoughts.

 

Oh. Everyone was here, he hadn’t even realised. Draken was looking at him, concerned as well, Nahoya was nowhere in sight. He smiled lightly and nodded,

 

“Yeah, all good. Where’s Nahoya-kun?”

“He couldn’t find his bonnet last night and his hair is all messed up. And you know how that shit takes hours to fix, so he’s doing that. He said he was sorry he couldn’t make it,” Souya explained.

“That’s alright, I’m sure we’ll be fine without him, it’s not that heavy.”

 

.

 

“Jesus fucking Christ Takemitchy, what the fuck is this cake made out of? Stone?” Draken grunted.

“It’s a dense cake...there’s a lot of fondant too,” Takemichi forced out, struggling with his corner.

“Just a few more steps,” Souya hissed.

 

They finally made it to the back of the open van, gently (as they could) dumping the big ass box into the back. Takemichi was panting, that was much more weight than what he expected and could handle. 

 

“Uhm well I-” Souya paused to catch his breath, “I better get going, we’re in Summer now, don’t want it melting.”

Draken nodded, “Inui’s texting. Apparently some rude customer showed up at the shop even though we’re closed today so I gotta head out. See you two there.”

“Bye,” Takemichi waved and sent one last nervous glance to the back of the van hoping nothing went wrong, he put his back, soul and sleep into that. 

 

.

 

The drive back to Yuzuha and Senju’s house was short in reality, but he was filled with nerves that made it feel like it was hours away. The wedding cake was always something grand and special, he wouldn’t be worrying so much if it was for complete strangers, but this was for two very close friends of his who specifically asked him. He couldn’t disappoint them. 

 

Senju seemed to have calmed down from last night, she was laying on the couch, hair up in a bunch of curl things that would style her hair heat free. Yuzuha was a hairstylist that worked with high end clients and models, in addition to being Hakkai’s modelling manager. So he more than trusted her with his hair (Shh don’t tell Akkun that he let someone else style his hair). 

 

“You have such beautiful natural curls Take, but you need to look after them! Look at how flat they are,” he watched her gesture with a comb in the mirror, he just chuckled and replied, “I don’t really care too much about my hair. Besides, I wear a beanie all the time now.”

“Tch, you know it’s Summer now?”

“Maybe I’ll start a trend.”

 

He knew he couldn’t expect Yuzuha not to notice his thinning hair, but he hoped she wouldn’t voice her comments aloud. He avoided her in the mirror, looking down so he wouldn’t see the raises in her eyebrows or twitches in her cheeks. 

“Takemichi,” she said slowly.

“Yeah I know it’s thinning, it’s hereditary,” he lied, saying in a light joking manner.

“No...it’s not that,” he looked up and met her eyes in the mirror. Her eyebrows were screwed up, her eyes filled with confusion.

 

His eyes flicked over to her left hand, it wasn’t a comb she held. It was a thick curl of his hair, as if it had been cleanly cut out. His eyes widened, ‘it’s starting’ he thought dreadfully. 

 

“I-I can comb your hair over a bit, the spot isn’t really noticeable!” she reassured but her eyes kept flicking over to the thick curl in her hand, it had just fallen out when she ran her fingers through his hair. That’s not normal. 

“Thanks,” he whispered, eyes trained on the hair in her hand. It made him feel sick. He physically felt sick in the stomach every time the effects of his condition and its treatment made an outward appearance. 

“Are you sick, Takemichi?” she asked suddenly.

 

‘Fuck? She knows. She knows. She knows. I’m screwed!’

 

“What do you mean?” he asked nervously, avoiding her reflected eyes. 

“There are a lot of sicknesses that cause hair loss. It’s really strange that something like a hereditary condition would cause hair loss in someone as young as you. You’re only 25.”

“I turn 26 this month,” he grumbled. 

“Still, are you sure there’s nothing wrong? Have you been to the doctor?”

“I have and I promise you, it’s just a harmless hereditary condition. That’s why I’ve been wearing a beanie so much lately, because I was embarrassed.”

Her gaze softened and she patted him on the head lightly, “Okay, I was just worried that’s all. I have a lot of contacts for realistic wigs and extensions, so just let me know.”

He smiled, “Thanks Yuzuha-chan.”

Chapter Text

Hey everyone, just wanted to let you know that @Similing has starting translating this work into Spanish on Wattpad. For those who would prefer to read it in Spanish, here is the link:

https://www.wattpad.com/story/287844611-lying-is-a-sin-a-sin-hanagaki-takemichi-commits

For those who do read the translation, please do still support this story as it is the original. Have a lovely day/night and the next chapter will be out soon. Just have block exams over the next few weeks so I'm really busy. 

Chapter Text

I'm putting this notice on all of my stories. PLEASE DO NOT COPY MY WORKS ONTO OTHER SITES OR AO3. I only allow translations (if the person asked for permission first). I came across someone who did this on Wattpad and even though they did credit me at the bottom, they didn't ask for permission first (not that I would have said yes). If anyone finds my work on other sites that isn't a translation that has been permitted, please let me know.

On the otherhand, I am moving my stories to Wattpad, my account is https://www.wattpad.com/user/justwhatevs69
Please check out my manga colourings because I would really like some advice on how to improve them.

Sorry for this not being an actual chapter, I just wanted to get my message across.

Chapter Text

Those three words. So simple. It’s just a couple of mouth and tongue movements. But it’s not. Those three words are so much more than that. They’re the most complicated string of words that could possibly be said at one time. Those words could hold the entire world in it’s hands, but at the same time drown in the deepest depths. 

 

Takemichi used those three words carelessly. He said them no matter the meaning. There was nothing holding him back. He said those words even if he didn’t mean them. He said them to those he should hate but doesn’t. He said them whether their meaning is romantic, familial, platonic, unconditional...he said them with ease. 

 

He never noticed the true meaning of those words until he noticed there was one person he could never say it to. He could never even think about it. 

 

*

1991 - 2008

His mother, Hanagaki Jun, a wretched pathetic woman who let her own failed love to fuel her hatred towards him. He loved her still. Even as he cried and trembled while cleaning his wounds, he loved her. Even as her fingers left deep purple bruises on his skin, he loved her. Even as she spoke such harsh words about how much she didn’t love him, he loved her. 

 

He should hate her. He should despise her very being like she does to him. He should say a different three words. Ones that should be much easier to say, ‘I hate you’. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t say nor even think those three words towards anyone. 

 

Even as he laid there, cowering against the wall and clutched his ankle. Even after his mother just pushed him down the stairs and stood before him, glaring in a way that would make anyone feel physically sick...he loved her. And he said it too, through his choked sobs, tear filled eyes and sniffling, he said.

 

“I love you Mum.”

 

Those words were so easy for him to say, even if they were towards someone who was so undeserving of them. He couldn’t stop, even as he cried harder as his sprained (broken) ankle swelled and ached, even then, he kept saying it, ‘I love you’. Even after she had scoffed and walked away, he kept allowing those pathetic words to spill from his mouth. 

 

*

1997 - 2000

When you’re a kid, you say those three words to just about anyone. There’s no long and difficult contemplating process on whether or not you should say it. It was a habit really, saying ‘I love you’ in his goodbyes to friends. 

 

“See ya tomorrow Kaku-chan, I love you!” He’d shout and smile proudly at little Kakucho’s embarrassed face.

 

“I love you Takkun, goodnight,” he’d whisper over the home phone, careful to not have his mother hear.

 

*

Any year

He’d say it, whether it be through text, on call or face to face, he’d say it to his friends. With Akkun, though, he waited a bit after their...incident, until it would just come off as platonic rather than romantic. He’d said it to Hina, shyly at first but grew more confident. He had never felt like he couldn’t still say it to her after they had broken up, because they were still best friends. Even if there was that still bit of romantic undertones lingering, it was thrown around in a friendly manner. 

 

*

2010

But there was one. One person he could never say it to. Sano Manjirou. Mikey had been saying it to him for 12 years, but Takemichi always found a way to brush it off and say something else in response, that is, if he gave one. 



“I’m gonna head on home,” Takemichi announced tiredly, scratching the back of his head. Mikey’s eyes flicked up and looked up at him, pouting slightly.

“Already?” He subconsciously gripped Takemichi’s shirt tighter, “I’ll share my dorayaki with you...please, stay a little longer?”

 

It wasn’t often Takemichi saw Mikey in such a vulnerable state. Takemichi had come over to Mikey’s house, bag of sweets in hand, Mikey hadn’t expected his visit but welcomed it nonetheless. It had been two weeks since Emma had left for France for cosmetology school and as much as he refused to admit it, he had been feeling lonely. 

 

Both Izana and Shinichiro had already left years ago, Shinichiro beginning his travels around the world and Izana in the Philippines. As much as they visited, it was never enough. And now with Emma gone and Grandpa Sano moving to the beachside to relax for the little time left in his life. 

 

Takemichi was still in his final year of highschool, Mikey doesn’t know how he does it. Living alone, having no delicious smell of dinner to greet him when he comes home. Mikey has always had someone, someone there to pick up his messes. But Draken is busy with his shifts at D&D Motors, and Takemichi has important exams. 

 

“I’m meeting up with someone at five, so I need to head out. But I’ll try and swing by tomorrow.”

Mikey perked up and looked up at Takemichi, “Meeting up? With who?” Takemichi chuckled at his possessiveness, “A college first year, he’s tutoring me. Even if my main major is going to be hospitality, I’m still minoring in business so I need to improve my grades in math.” Takemichi explained.

 

Mikey deflated slightly. He didn’t like to hear Takemichi talking about the future. About how he’s going to university and how busy he’s going to be with also picking up shifts at a local bakery. 

 

“Fine, but promise to come over tomorrow? You could cook me dinner!”

“That doesn’t sound as exciting as you think it does Mikey-kun, but I’ll try.”

 

Mikey moved so Takemichi was able to get up and collect his things, he turned around and waved goodbye. 

“Bye Takemitchy, love ya!”

He hoped Mikey didn’t notice how he tensed at those words, even in such an informal matter. He kept walking forward, muttering a low, “Goodnight Mikey-kun.”

 

*

2017

Mikey looked up when he heard Takemichi’s phone ring. The blond had decided to come by and ‘help clean up’ but rather, just eating the leftovers of the day from the bakery. Mikey caught the name of the caller ID, it was Chifuyu, before Takemichi answered. He tried to not make it obvious he was eavesdropping, even if he could only hear Takemichi’s side of the conversation.

 

“Hey ‘Fuyu….hmm...sure I can watch them for you...yeah I understand, Baji-kun can be a little too forward at times...yeah….sure, I’ll make some especially for you!...sure I can swing by after I clean up....okay okay...see you later, love you.”

 

Mikey did his best to hide his frustration, sure he had always been jealous of how close Chifuyu and Takemichi were. But he didn’t like how easily Takemichi could say those words to him, to anyone, everyone but Mikey himself. 

 

Takemichi turned back to him with an apologetic smile on his face, “Sorry Mikey-kun, I have to clean up quickly so could you grab what treats you want and head out please? I’m meeting with Chifuyu, he wants to talk about me looking after the animals at the pet shop while he and Kazu-kun and Baji-kun go away this weekend.”

 

Mikey wavered him off, trying to make it seem like it wasn’t a big deal, “Sure sure Takemitchy. See you later...love.”

 

Takemichi hums in response, not meeting his eyes and Mikey tries to not let his disappointment show. He grabs his bag of treats and heads out, finally releasing a shaky sigh once he’s out of sight.

 

*

June 1st, 2017

Here Takemichi stood, in a deep blue suit that complimented his eyes, his usually messy black curls were neat and shining, Yuzuha really worked some magic on his hair. The cake had been delivered safe and sound and was currently in the venue’s kitchen, awaiting.

 

He was in awe, the place Emma and Hina had chosen was absolutely stunning and he couldn’t wait to see the brides themselves. He had come along with Yuzuha and Senju, the latter already having run off to exclaim excitedly how amazing everyone and everything looked. Hakkai, at the sight of his sister, made his way over, Mitsuya trailing behind along with his sisters.

 

“Yuzuha you look great,” Mitsuya greeted, “And Takemichi, I see the suit is looking a little loose, do you want me to do some quick adjustments?”

“Oh no, it’s fine Mitsuya-kun, really. I’ve just been a bit stressed out the last few days so I haven’t eaten much. But- leaves more room for the delicious food tonight!”

Hakkai chuckled, “And I can’t wait to see this cake of yours, everyone is talking about it. Apparently Pey-yan saw a glimpse of it when he passed the kitchen and told everybody.”

Takemichi grew flustered and tried to brush it off, “It’s nothing, I just hope it meets Emma-chan and Hina’s expectations.”

“You really need to stop brushing off your hard work like it’s nothing.”

 

They all turned around to see Sano Shinichiro, standing there with a goofy grin. Izana to his left and Kakucho not too far behind. 

 

“Shinichiro-san, you scared me.”

“You better have made the perfect cake for my sister,” Izana threatened, staring at him. Shinichiro chuckled and ruffled Izana’s hair, making him grumble in response.

“C’mon, stop scaring the kid.”

“You did it first.”

 

Kakucho met eyes with Takemichi and rolled them in a gesture to the full grown men bantering. Takemichi giggled before catching sight of Naoto, he pretended not to notice the concerned look he sent him. Naoto didn’t need to be worrying about him today, he just had to enjoy his sister’s wedding.

Chapter Text

I just love giving people false hope of an actual chapter *drowns self*, anyway! I finally figured out how to get my images onto Ao3, so I posted my manga colourings. I know that they are shit but I wanna improve so hopefully you lovely wretched people can give me advice! Thanks.

Chapter Text

June 1st, 2017

The ceremony was set to begin in about thirty minutes, both of the brides were in their separate preparation rooms. Takemichi had spoken with several friends and even held a somewhat normal conversation with Hina’s father. Mr Tachibana was more than happy to let his beloved daughter marry such a sweet girl over the silly delinquent that Takemichi was. Takemichi didn’t bother reminding him that he kinda like gave up that life over ten years ago.

 

He hadn’t run into Mikey, but since he also hadn’t seen Izana or Shinichiro since they first got here either, he assumed they were all with Emma. Naoto had a quick conversation with him, checking up on how he was in which Takemichi just smiled and told him to go off to his sister. 

 

As of now, everyone was moving into their seats for the ceremony, as the brides would be coming out soon. There was no clear division between each of the sides since most of the people who knew one of the brides, also knew the other quite well. Takemichi, decidedly sat on Hina’s side, Yuzuha, Senju and the Mizo Crew all around him. He saw Shinichiro and Mikey come back and sit on Emma’s side, he tried to keep his eyes away from the latter, he couldn’t think about Mikey. Instead he took note of the fact that Izana would be the one to walk Emma down the aisle. Naoto joined his side a few minutes later, Takemichi looked at him on confusion,

 

“I thought you were walking Hina down the aisle,” he whispered.

“So did I, but now Dad suddenly decided to be a fatherly figure,” Naoto whispered back. 

 

Takemichi didn’t know how to respond so he kept quiet, gentle music had begun to play anyway, it was about to begin. 

 

People awed and cooed when Luna and Mana walked down the aisle first, wearing beautiful dresses Mitsuya made himself, gently scattering flowers as they walked. The two were no longer the little girls they used to be, Luna fresh out of highschool and Mana in her second last year, but nevertheless, adorable they were. 

 

Everyone stood in their seats when they caught sight of Emma near the entrance, Shinichiro was already sobbing, Takeomi awkwardly rubbing his back. Mikey was smiling wide at his sister, who looked so beautiful. Takemichi had never seen her dress, it was a different style to Hina’s, with it being more close fitting, flowers adorned her purposefully messy bun, her bright honey coloured eyes shining. Izana stood proudly next to her as he walked her down the aisle, arm linked with hers. 

 

They soon reached the altar, Izana pulled her into a tight hug, kissed her forehead before pulling away and joining his brothers in the front seats. A bright smile stretched across Emma’s face as she looked straight forward, to the entrance where Hina now stood. Her dress looked even better than when Takemichi had saw it last, a flowy bottom half with intricate flower designs sewn in, an open back and lace front, she truly was breathtaking. Naoto gasped quietly next to him, whispering under his breath what Takemichi could only make out to be how proud of his big sister he was. 

 

Mr Tachibana, once they had reached the altar, smiled gently down at Hina, before turning to Emma, bowing slightly, offering a tight smile and mumbled what Takemichi assumed to be, ‘take care of her’. 

 

.

 

The service had been lovely, both Hina and Emma had written their own vows which made all those around jealous about why couldn’t they have such pure love like them. Now, people were talking amongst each other, congratulating the brides, presenting gifts, drinking and eating nibbleies until the main meal was ready. 

 

Takemichi had been drinking wine but when a sharp pain in his head almost made him spill his drink, he switched to water. Takemichi had been talking with Chifuyu and Kazutora when he felt someone latch onto his arm.

 

“Ah! Mikey-kun!” he yelped in surprise. Mikey smiled up at him teasingly and booped his nose as if he was a small child.

“Takemitchy, it feels like I haven’t seen you in forever! I felt like I was going to die if you I went one more day without seeing you,” Mikey exclaimed dramatically.

 

Chifuyu and Kazutora exchanged a look at Mikey’s clear love in his eyes and Takemichi’s forced oblivious expression. It was so painful to see the two of them react, they had half the mind to just push the two’s lips together so that magically all the dancing around each other would just stop and they could be happy together. 

 

Mikey poked his tongue out at Kazutora and Chifuyu from the look they were sending him and dragged Takemichi away. Takemichi just sent them a frantic look, hoping one of them would save him.

 

.

 

“Come on Takemitchy, eat it, you’re so thin!” Mikey pushed the small sweet to Takemichi’s lip, but he shook his head in refusal.

“I’m fine, really Mikey-kun, I don’t want to eat too much before dinner.”

“Mikey, leave the poor guy alone,” Draken mumbled. 

 

Inui chuckled beside him, tucking a loose strand of sunflower blonde hair behind his ear, honestly Takemichi thought this wedding was secretly a meeting to gather literally everyone in his life who could be models. He felt out of place. 

 

“At least have something to drink then Takemichi, you’ve been so stressed lately,” Inui offered. 

“I’d rather not make a fool of myself at my best friend’s wedding,” Takemichi replied.

Mikey gaped, “I thought I was your best friend.”

“Mikey-kun, I’m not even your best friend, Draken-kun is. And I have several best friends anyway; Hina, Chifuyu, even though he still calls us partners which when you’re adults, sounds like you’re in a relationship, but anyway. Uh, Akkun, yeah...Kaku-chan, Kazutora...hmm yeah, but I don’t really like to label the level of friendship I have with people. I’m just close with a lot of people.”

Draken patted him on the shoulder in a comforting manner which confused him, “You really shoulda just told him he’s your best friend, look at him, he looks like a kicked puppy.”

 

‘Ah jeez Takemichi, you’re hurting him, you’re not supposed to be doing that!’

 

Takemichi smiled at Mikey and took the sweet Mikey had offered him, “Of course, Mikey-kun, you are definitely one of my best friends as well. And I’ll have something to eat, since this is so delicious.”

 

It was obvious Takemichi was well, being very obvious to cheer Mikey up, but it worked nonetheless and Mikey perked and once again, latched onto Takemichi, dragging him over to where the appetizers were. All this sudden movement made him feel sick, he definitely needed to make a visit to the bathroom soon before he ended up puking all over the floor. 

 

The lights are too bright, his head feels like it’s splitting apart, his stomach is turning in itself and his skin is burning up, but it’s alright. Just smile and wave for the rest of the night and everything will be fine. 

 

It will be fine.

 

It will be fine. Because he’s fine.

 

There’s nothing wrong with him.

 

He doesn’t feel as if the tumour is swallowing him inside out.

 

He doesn’t keep having spots of black fill his vision.

 

He doesn’t keep stumbling.

 

He doesn’t feel like he’s seeing someone who’s not really there, watching him from the corner.

 

None of that is happening because he’s perfectly fine. 






Hanagaki Takemichi was, when the times called for it, an excellent liar. Now, was not one of those times. 




Chapter Text

June 1st, 2017

No.

 

No, that’s not right.

 

He turns away, trying to pay attention to the embarrassing story Mikey is telling about Emma. The bride in turn yelling curses at him to stop, Hina chuckling by her side. He feels a hand hesitantly itching across his thigh, it’s Kazutora. He wants to smile at him, to wipe that concerned look of his clueless adorable little face. But he can’t, his mind won’t slow down enough for him to do something so simple like smile.

 

Instead, he finds himself opening his clenched hand, an offering to Kazutora to hold. That latter does so hastily, entwining their fingers. Ever since Takemichi nearly fainted the morning before in front of him, Kazutora had been even more clingy than usual. He didn’t mind. Kazutora’s company was always welcome. But he didn’t want to worry the poor guy, especially not on a night like this, people are supposed to be celebrating.

 

Kazutora leans closer to whisper, “You keep looking off into the distance...are you okay?”

 

He wasn’t. He was. He was fine. His mind was just playing tricks on him, yeah, that’s all. Just from sleep deprivation, that’s all it was truly. Takemichi finds himself staring at Kazutora instead of answering at first. He tries to stop it, but he can’t. His mind twists and contorts Kazutora’s features. His eyes become more sunken in, the iris’ turning from sunflower yellow to dark muddy brown, ones rather than filled with warmth and concern, are glazed over with disgust and hatred. His hair curls more, and changes from black and blond to light brown. His jaw more soft, his nose more pinched, lips downturned into a snarl.

 

His mother.

 

He couldn’t look away. Couldn’t blink. Couldn’t breathe. His mother was sitting right in front of him, so clear. Before, he kept feeling like someone was watching him, and he’d catch glimpses of a face staring right through him. But it had been fuzzy, and never around long enough for him to recognise who it was.

 

But now it was clear. He was fucking hallucinating. He wanted to shake his head, squeeze his eyes shut, do anything that would make Kazutora come back. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t break the stare he held with her-him (Kazutora?) his mother. 

 

The way she looked at him, it was the same as it was all those years ago. It made him feel sick. No. Yes. No, he was sick. He didn’t just feel it. He had to go.

 

He had to leave.

 

Go.

Go.

Go.

Go.

Leave.

Leave.

GET OUT OF THERE TAKEMICHI!

 

He stood up abruptly, forcing Kazutora’s hand out of his. Wait- Kazutora- He looked down, Kazutora was looking at him, a confused and worried expression adorning his face. He could feel everyone’s eyes on him. 

 

“Uh, I’m sorry, I have to go to the bathroom,” he forced out before rushing off. Both Kazutora and Mikey made the move to go after him, noticing something wasn’t right. But Naoto beat them to it.

 

“I’ll go check on him, he’s been having some uh...stomach issues lately, so that’s probably all it is.” And just like Takemichi, he was gone just as quick leaving those at the table confused and slightly worried.

 

Hina’s grip tightening on her fork and she stared down at the table, her mind running too fast for her to comprehend. But she could make out one thing clearly, Takemichi needs help.

 

.

 

His grip on the toilet seat, his knees on the hard tile floor, his throat, they all ached. He had barely made it to the toilet before he threw up. And he couldn’t stop, his mind kept recreating his mother looking down at him in disgust and it made his stomach churn. He heard the door to the bathroom open and close and he squeezed his eyes shut. Hoping it wasn’t Kazutora, or Mikey or literally anybody.

 

“Takemichi,” It was Naoto. Of course it was.

 

Takemichi didn’t want to leave the stall, terrified that he wouldn’t see Naoto, that he would see his mother again. He couldn’t stop it anymore. He couldn’t stop the loud sob from leaving his raw throat. His tears, drool, snot and vomit, all making a soup of distress in the toilet bowl. He was disgusting. He was pathetic. His mother was right to look down at him in such a way. It was what he deserved. He deserved this shortened horrible life. He deserved this terminal illness. He deserved to be loved by no one. 

 

He heard a sigh and some shuffling before a thump on the other side of the stall door. And then sliding and another thump, Naoto was sitting on the floor on the other side. No, Takemichi isn’t worth that. Naoto shouldn’t be sitting on the dirty floor. 

 

“Na-Naoto...get up,” he croaked out, hands clenching.

“No, not unless you come out.”

“You’re in a suit, get off the dirty floor.”

“You’re on the floor aren’t you?” Naoto shot back. Takemichi stayed silent, the former continued, “Something happened. What is it? And don’t you dare fucking lie to me Takemichi.”

 

He stayed quite some more before he was finally able to swallow the lump in his throat, his hands were shaking but he slowly reached for the flush button, draining his disgusting bodily fluids. His legs trembled and he stumbled at first but he finally stood and hesitantly undid the latch on the door.

 

He almost fell once more but Naoto caught him, wrapping his arms tightly around his shoulders. Takemichi let his body fall limp, he was so tired.

 

“I was hallucinating,” he admitted. He wishes he didn’t have to feel Naoto still. Because both Naoto and he knew what this meant. Hallucinations, psychosis, were all signs of being in the later stages of the illness, of his life. Takemichi didn’t explain further that he saw his mother. Naoto may have known a lot about him, but he didn’t know about his mother. And he wasn’t going to find out. Not now anyway. 

Chapter Text

June 1st, 2017

Naoto refused to leave his side for the next hour, Takemichi didn’t mind exactly, he could barely support himself without Naoto holding him up. When they had returned to the table after a mini crying session, the others were obviously worried, Hina swapping looks with her brother that she wanted to know what happened. Naoto had told him the lie he gave to the others and continued with it, smiling brightly and joking about how he ate something that he thought was expired the day before. 

 

With Naoto now sitting on his left and Kazutora on his right, looking like a lost puppy, both fussing over him he felt suffocated. Everyone at the table was now engaged in their own conversations, he tried his best to participate but he was mostly focusing on not throwing up.

 

Naoto’s hand was behind his back, his hand moving in circular motions, it was really helping with his nausea and he appreciated it. Kazutora was talking with Chifuyu and Baji, but he kept nervously glancing at Takemichi and his hand stayed on the other’s thigh. 

 

“Oi Takemichi!” He snapped to the direction of the voice, it was Baji.

“Yes, Baji-kun?”

“If the cake is as everything thinks it will be, I’ll let ya cater for our wedding.”

“Baji-san, we were going to ask him anyway, you love his sweets,” Chifuyu said, rolling his eyes at his fiancee’s attempt to threaten his partner. 

Kazutora turned to him, sunflower eyes wide, “Can you Take? I know how stressful it was doing Hinata and Emma’s. I don’t want you to go through that again for us.”

 

Being asked such a thing should have filled him with joy. He should have jumped across the table and hugged all of them like he did when Hina asked. But he just couldn’t find that part in himself. But things are different now. When Hina asked, he was only in the early stages. When Hina asked, he didn’t yet have an expiry date. Both Chifuyu and Kazutora had told him about their plans for their wedding; it was going to be in fall next year. Next year he’ll be long gone. 

 

He could feel Naoto’s eyes burning into him, begging him, ‘don’t promise them Takemichi’. But exactly because he was Takemichi, he was going to. Because that’s just what he does now, makes promises that are destined to not be fulfilled. 

 

“I’d love to! I promise to fulfill your wishes and make the most beautiful tasty cake.”

 

A wide smile stretched across Kazutora’s face and he pulled the former into a hug, Chifuyu gave a similar smile and a ‘thanks partner’ and Baji offered a toothy grin. 

 

Why couldn’t he suppress this skin crawling feeling? Why did he feel like he was licking toilet slime when saying such words? They’re just words. 

 

-

 

Dinner came out soon after and to say it was delicious was an understatement. Mikey was looking around sleepily after basically inhaling his and a bit of Shinichiro’s food. He had been trying to not be obvious, not with all his siblings around basically waiting to jump on his case and tease him. But Takemichi just looked so pretty. He hadn’t really seen Takemichi’s hair much lately since it was always tucked under that hideous beanie and he had been looking so tired lately, despite his smiles. But tonight, he noticed whenever Takemichi was under a certain light that he was wearing makeup. Mostly just concealer around his eyes. He wanted to know, to know what has been bothering the man he loves so dearly for the past few months. Despite his boisterous personality, Sano Manjirou, admittedly, was a coward when it came to Hanagaki Takemichi. 

 

If things were different, he would have eaten Takemichi’s plate too, since the latter was only picking at it, rarely actually putting anything in his mouth. But his sunken cheeks, trembling hands and dull eyes were telling an opposing story to his smile that he flashed everyone’s way. 

 

Takemichi seemed to feel eyes on him and lifted his head to meet Mikey’s curious gaze. Takemichi smiled. But it was different, just like everything else. It was weak, small, but it felt more genuine that any of the others he showed others. 

 

“Mikey-kun, did you want my leftovers?” Leftovers was an overstatement, there was a whole meal there, only a few grains of rice less than when it was handed to him. 

 

If things were different, like they were in highschool or middle school, he wouldn’t have even waited for Takemichi to ask. But Takemichi’s overly thin and pale figure prevented him from doing so. 

 

/

 

“Mikey-kun, can you come over this afternoon?” Mikey nearly shattered his phone in his hands in excitement. 

“Yes, of course Takemitchy!”

 

Draken looked over at him strangely before rolling his eyes. Ever since they ended up going to different high schools, they hadn’t been able to see each other much lately. Mikey was effortlessly good at school while Takemichi had to spend hours studying to keep up. Mikey definitely was not jealous of Hakkai or Chifuyu for being at the same school at Takemichi, or how they spend nearly every afternoon and weekend together studying, aside from when Hakkai was modelling, Chifuyu was working at the pet shop or Takemichi was working at the bakery.

 

“Thank you so much Mikey-kun. Also, no one else will be over, I hope that’s okay with you?”

"It’s better than okay! I’ll be right over!”

Mikey-kun...it’s the middle of the day...we both still have school. Was I not clear enough? I’m sorry. But this afternoon please. I should get there before you, Kazu-kun is giving me a ride home.”

 

That bastard ‘Kazu-kun’ was another that was stealing all of Takemichi’s attention away from him. He already had to stop himself from socking Chifuyu in the face everytime he called Takemichi, ‘partner’ so sweetly. 

 

“Why not ride your Babu?” Mikey asked sadly.

 

He was smacked on the back of the head, Draken looking down at him like he was an idiot.

 

“His bike is in the shop at the moment, you dumbass, you’re literally the one who brought it to me.”

“Oh, is that Draken-kun? Hi Draken-kun! Hakkai told me to tell you that Inui-kun was called in for an impromptu photoshoot so he can’t make it to the bike shop tonight.”

“Thanks Takemitchy. Also, can you please kill and bury this annoying little prick when he comes over? Because some people actually have to study,” Draken grumbled. 

 

Mikey glared at Draken, this was his conversation with Takemichi. But his anger washed away when he heard Takemichi chuckle on the other side of the line.

 

“Ahaha I know Draken-kun! We can’t all be as smart as Mikey-kun.”

“He’s more of a dumbass,” Draken shot back.

“Is this bully Mikey hours? You’re so cruel,” Mikey whined. 

“I’ll make it up to you when you come over.”

 

___

 

Mikey was in heaven. Takemichi had called him over to taste his test batches of dorayaki. And he got such a cute show alongside it. Takemichi’s blonde hair (thankfully by high school he learnt what toner was), was tied up in two messy space buns, courtesy of Chifuyu, an adorable pale blue apron tied around his waist that Mitsuya had gifted him the year before for his birthday. 

 

“Mmgh thish is delicious Takemitchy!” Mikey complimented, mouth still full of food. Takemichi smiled and leant forward, to say that Mikey’s heart started racing was an understatement. ‘Was this finally the day? The day Takemitchy would kiss me and confess his undying love for me?’ It was not. 

 

Takemichi’s scarred hand gently cupped the side of his face, his thumb grazing dangerously close to his lips. Mikey thanked all the gods that he didn’t close his eyes and lean in otherwise he would have looked like a complete idiot. Takemichi’s thumb wiped a bit of red bean paste from the corner of Mikey’s lips, it must have squeezed out when he bit into the dorayaki. Then, what Mikey completely did not expect from his innocent oblivious friend, was to put that very same thumb into his own mouth. Takemichi’s eyes lit up and Mikey’s face flushed red, as if it wasn’t already.

 

“You’re right Mikey-kun, it is delicious. I finally got the recipe perfect!”

 

Mikey got down on one knee in the matter of two seconds, his hand with a half eaten dorayaki held up as if it were a ring. 

 

“M-Mikey-kun?”

“Takemitchy, promise me that you will keep making me these incredible dorayaki even when we’re old and grey but I can obviously still kick ass because I am a god.”

 

Laughter erupted from the Takemichi and filled the room, tears sprung in the corners of his eyes and he clutched his stomach, Mikey had never seen a more beautiful sight. 

 

“Yes Mikey-kun! Ahaha I promise!”

“Ah but do you pinky promise?” Mikey stuck his little pinky out suggestively.

Takemichi giggled, “Pinky promise? We’re 16 and 17 Mikey-kun, not children.”

“But a pinky promise is the strongest promise of all, Shin told me that.”

“How old were you when he told you that?”

“Five...but that’s irrelevant! Do you, Hanagaki Takemichi, pinky promise that you will make me dorayaki when I, Sano Manjirou, am old and grey but still able to kick ass?

Takemichi smiled and locked his pinky with Mikey’s outstretched one, “I, Hanagaki Takemichi, pinky promise to make you, Sano Manjirou, dorayaki forever.”

 

/

 

Since when was forever so short?

Chapter Text

14 months ago

April, 2016

Breathe in. Breathe out. It’s simple. Take in the addictive cancerous substance, take out the CO2, or whatever it was. Kisaki Tetta was an asshole. Hanma knew this. Everyone knew this. He was a manipulative bastard who went to stupid lengths just because this girl he knew in his childhood showed him some attention. Even though now, he was over said girl (Hanma didn’t really believe him after finding out that said girl was now engaged to another girl, Sano Manjirou’s sister to be exact, he threw his phone and kicked Hanma out. 

 

To say they were friends was an overstatement, hell even acquaintances was pushing it. Hanma honestly didn’t know why he stuck around. Perhaps because he thought it would be fun? Like it was back when they were in middle and high school. But now, even Kisaki bored him. 

 

His hands clenched around his lighter when he realised his peace was about to be interrupted. Sure, it was an alleyway in the middle of a busy district full of cafe’s, bakeries, coffee shops, hair salons and bookstores. A sweet smell filled his nostrils and he thought back to when he walked into the alleyway, it was next to a bakery. He drew in another hit of his cigarette and allowed his eyes to wander over to the back door which opened. 

 

Someone walked out, their hands full of several black garbage bags. He didn’t see their face at first, just a head of wild black hair, the person grumbling under their breath as they struggled to lift the bags into the dumpster that was nearly double his height. 

 

Hanma chuckled to himself, but it was loud enough for the person to hear. They snapped their head in his direction and Hanma was surprised when he recognised their- his face, his eyes. It was Hanagaki fucking Takemichi. The said man who seemed to be the root of all of Kisaki’s problems when they were younger. The latter always droning on and on about this stupid crybaby hero who had captivated the heart of not only Tachibana Hinata, his girlfriend and Kisaki’s obsessive love, but those of many around him. 

 

Hanma never really understood, nor did he really care. He just wanted to have fun. When he finally met Takemichi though, after Kisaki had finally made a big move to confess to Hinata, who in turn rejected him, he kinda understood. Not fully. No, not yet. The piss coloured hair was off putting to say the least, but if you ignored that, he really was quite pretty. And determined and well, Hanma had been intrigued. 

 

He didn’t see Takemichi often after that at the end of middle school. He was jumping from place to place, turning 18 meant the police could finally come after him for real. But he’d somehow catch glimpses every so often of the hero. As he matured in highschool, learnt what toner was and stopped styling his hair so ridiculously, Hanma really understood. He had never had a direct conversation with the guy, but was almost always by Kisaki’s side when he did. 

 

Nevertheless, he was standing right in front of him now. His hair now black, he assumed to be his natural colour, it suited him, made his eyes stand out more. 

“You need a hand, Hanagaki?” he found himself asking. Why? He didn’t know, but he didn’t really care to look into it. 

“H-Hanma? You recognise me?” Takemichi asked, confused, a trash bag slipping out of his hands and he bent down to pick it up.

“I could say the same for you,” he mused, bringing the cigarette back to his lips.

“Oh um...your tattoo’s.” Takemichi replied, trying to pick up the trash bag, but instead, the rest just fell out of his grasp. 

 

Hanma laughed once more and Takemichi glared up at him for a few moments before huffing and avoiding his gaze, “Can I take you up on that offer? They apparently don’t make dumpsters for normal sized people.”

“Maybe you’re just short.”

“Maybe you’re just tall,” Takemichi shot back. 

“You’re awfully rude to someone who’s just trying to help,” Hanma said, flicking his smoke to the ground and crushing it under his foot.

“Well I haven’t had the best day so just- ah shit, don’t worry about it. Just, can you put the bags in the dumpster? I’ll shout you something in the bakery.”

Hanma raised an eyebrow, “Really? Hmm… I suppose I am kinda hungry,” he drawled out. 

“Hanma-san, I’m very busy, y’know, I’m on work time right now so if you could please just-”

“Sure. Come on shorty, I’ll give you a hand.”

 

.

 

Why? Hanma can’t stop himself from constantly glancing over at Takemichi who was at the register, smiling brightly at the customer he was serving. But something was off. With his smile. Maybe he’s making assumptions about someone he barely knows, but he’s always been good at picking up little things that show a person is lying or is feeling different. 

 

He pulled his hood up further, showing his face so clearly in public wasn’t the best idea, since he assumed that Takemichi was friends with Tachibana Naoto, a detective who likes to drop into the bakery randomly. He was eating a strawberry and vanilla tart, and it was safe to say that it was mouth wateringly delicious.  

 

When Hanma and Takemichi had run into each other, it was 4:40, the bakery closed at 5. Hanma didn’t know why, but he stuck around until closing, Takemichi was the only employee left. Realising that he probably seemed weird for sticking around, he got up to leave.

 

“Ah Hanma-san!” Hanma stopped in his tracks and turned around. He noticed that Takemichi’s face didn’t look so forced anymore, he looked tired. 

“Hmm, Hanagaki?”

“You...you still smoke right?” 

 

It was a question Hanma certainly had not expected, not from Takemichi. But he felt his lips quirk up into that of a small smirk, he wanted to know more about this man. The man who had many devoted their lives to him ten years back, the man whose eyes looked darker and dull, whose smile just didn’t sit right. 

 

“Why of course♡, want one Hanagaki?”

 

Without hesitation, Takemichi took a step towards Hanma, smiling lightly, more genuine, “Yes.”

 

.

 

If he had told his 16 year old self that one day he’d be sitting in an alley behind a bakery smoking, he would have thought of that to be normal. But having The Hanagaki Takemichi, sitting next to him, already on his second cigarette, he would have rolled his eyes and said, ‘Yeah, as if’. 

 

It was silent, yet it was comforting. When Takemichi had taken his first drag, he had coughed a little, Hanma had laughed, but since then, it had been quiet. No sounds other than two men breathing in cancerous fumes. Hanma wanted to ask. He knew Takemichi had noticed too. But something told him not to. He didn’t want to ruin this. 

 

Takemichi’s phone rang, he answered. Hanma tried to focus on his smoke, but he had always been rather observant, Kisaki’s influence. He noticed how Takemichi’s jaw tightened and his fingers clenched around the cig in his hand as he listened to the person on the other side of the line. 

 

“I wish you would stop worrying, I’m fine, Hina.”

 

Hina. Hinata. Tachibana Hinata. Hanma knew that name all too well. Personally, he knew Kisaki never stood a chance with the girl. He thought Takemichi and Hina were a cute couple honestly, but that was back in middle school. To his knowledge, Hina got with Mikey’s sister, Emma, by the end of middle school and have been together ever since. He’s honestly not surprised that someone like Takemichi would still be friends with their ex. 

 

“Right now?” Takemichi lazily glanced over to him, before taking in another drag, Hanma thought it was a beautiful sight, “I’m just dealing with some stragglers. Nobody ever wants to leave the bakery, we’re just that good.”

 

The phone call soon ended, Takemichi apologised, saying something along the lines of, ‘my friend was just wondering where I was’. The two men stood up brushing off their pants, and suddenly, a small wad of cash was pushed against his chest. Hanma looked down at it in confusion. Was Takemichi like Kisaki? Just trying to get rid of him too? It made his heart clench slightly, and he barely even knew the boy! Jeez he was getting soft.

 

“It’s not much, I’m sorry. But...could you buy a pack of smokes for me? I don’t want my friends to catch me, they’d never leave me alone,” Takemichi scratched the back of his neck nervously, looking up at him.

 

Hanma had to stop himself from smiling. This meant they’d get to meet more? He was glad. 

 

Hanagaki Takemichi, someone, for the first time in years, intrigued him. He just had a feeling that he would have fun again soon. 

Chapter Text

The texts were sporadic, Takemichi never called, but when Hanma would reach him, he assumed it was because he couldn’t trust his voice over the phone. Sometimes, Takemichi would be completely blank, eyes looking at nothing and everything at the same time. Other times, Takemichi would either still be crying, or wiping the last tears from his sticky cheeks before smiling at Hanma, snotty nose and everything. 

 

He used to ask, ‘what’s wrong?’. He stopped after he kept getting the same answer. He learned to accept that Takemichi was often lying to him, but for some reason, he didn’t seem to mind. Takemichi wasn’t like Kisaki, who lied to manipulate. Takemichi did everything in his power to make sure others were okay.

 

1 year ago

June, 2016

Even though they only started their little arrangement two months ago, Hanma is on his way to visit Takemichi with his twelfth pack of cigarettes. He doesn’t mind buying them. Because he knows every time he drops them off, Takemichi will invite him out the back and they will smoke a few together. 

 

He came by near closing, like he always does. But noticed there were still a few customers so he pulled his hoodie up, being a fugitive made it difficult sometimes to see...well...his friend. A friend? Is that what Takemichi was? Hanma had never really had friends before. Sure, he was by Kisaki’s side for a long time but he never considered him a friend.

 

When he walked in, he wondered why a wave of irritation washed over him when he saw Takemichi being hugged. He recognised the hugger, it was fucking Draken. Not exactly his most favourite person. He was surprised to see such a sight, he didn’t think of Draken to be the affectionate type. And perhaps he wasn’t, everyone made exceptions for Hanagaki Takemichi. 

 

Not exactly in the mood to be punched in the face, Hanma walked back out and decided to wait in the alleyway out back until the bakery closed. He decided to start on his own and lit a cigarette before putting it in between his lips. 

 

Who was Hanagaki Takemichi? As a person, to Hanma? Takemichi had a way of making you think he’s told you his whole life story so you do the same to him, but really, you know nothing about him. He was so good at it too, Hanma had noticed, there were several times when he had planned beforehand to try and get something out of Takemichi. Only to end up being bewitched by his pretty smile and sapphire eyes and completely forgetting about it. 

 

He was so caught up in his thoughts, that he hadn’t realised the exact person he was thinking about was right next to him. Takemichi had already lit himself a cigarette and was leaning against Hanma’s side.

 

“I thought you were more vigilant, Hanma-kun. Didn’t even notice me did ya?” Takemichi was trying to be lighthearted but Hanma could hear how hoarse and shaky his voice was.

“What happened? Did Draken do something to you?” 

Takemichi looked at him with a surprised expression, “How did you know Draken-kun was here?”

“I see you two...hugging- so I came out here and waited for you,” Hanma replied, hoping the smoke hid whatever stupid expression he was sure he was making. 

“Mhm, you should try to hide your jealousy Hanma-kun, a lot of my friends are very touchy. Jesus, you should see Kazu-kun when he’s having a bad day. Clings to me like a wet shirt, don’t mind it though, he’s cute.”

 

He assumed ‘Kazu-kun’ to be Kazutora. He was one person that he always felt kinda bad for in regards to Kisaki’s manipulation. He knew the kid had a hard home life, and even though he listened to Kisaki rant for ages about guess who? Hanagaki Takemichi who got in the way of his manipulation, Hanma was kinda glad, Kazutora didn’t deserve that. 

 

But nevertheless, he just doesn’t understand why his chest is clenching around something that isn’t there due to Takemichi talking about him so fondly. 

 

“Not jealous, just don’t really like Draken,” he brushed off, turning away.

“Oh, yeah I remember you two fought a lot back then. Hmm, well anyway, he had come by to let me know Mikey’s grandfather had passed away. I started crying because Grandpa Sano was kinda like my grandfather too, he was the only adult I could really rely on in my life when I was younger. And Draken-kun hugged me, I knew he was sad too, he was in a similar position to me, not really having adults to rely on growing up and became attached to Grandpa Sano.”

Hanma snapped his head back in Takemichi’s direction, “Oh god, are you okay?” 

Takemichi was staring ahead, chin wobbling, his entire body trembling, “I will be...I guess. I’ve never really lost someone close to me before- I mean...my parents- ah nothing. I’m just glad you’re here Hanma-kun, if I went back with Draken-kun, it would have just been depressing.”

 

For the first time that they had spoken in those two months, Hanma felt like he suddenly understood Takemichi a whole lot better. This had been the first time he had ever revealed something private about himself that wasn’t just about his friends. And once again, Takemichi was leaving him intrigued, ‘what about his parents?’ he thought. It seemed to be a common thing amongst many of Takemichi’s friends to have family problems so it wouldn’t really be surprising that Takemichi would too, especially since he was so good at comforting and caring for others. Hell, Hanma knew. He had problems of his own, many. Perhaps one day, he’d be able to tell Takemichi and have the latter comfort him too. 

 

10 months ago

August, 2016

Takemichi almost always worked the closing shift, Hanma had asked why once.

 

“Because then I clean for a few hours after. Saves spending the time home alone doing nothing.”

 

For being someone who had many friends ready to bow at his feet, Takemichi was a lonely person. Hanma used to be jealous that Takemichi could make friends so easily when he couldn’t even have a normal bond with someone. But after becoming closer with Takemichi, he didn’t feel that way anymore. There were a few things Hanma came to realise after becoming friends with Takemichi.

 

  1. Hanma was alone, but he wasn’t lonely
  2. Takemichi wasn’t alone, but he was lonely
  3. There is most definitely a difference between being alone and being lonely

 

Tonight was cold. They were smoking inside Takemichi’s office. Takemichi had half the decency to open a window. The two were sprawled on the couch, it was small, Takemichi was almost entirely laying on Hanma’s long body. 

 

Anyone who saw such a sight, two people laying on top of each other, every so often, pressing their cigarettes together to light the other, would think they were in a relationship. That thought made Hanma feel warm. He glanced down at Takemichi, his eyes were fluttering shut, cheeks and nose red from the cold even in the heated room. He leaned forward slightly so take the half finished cigarette in Takemichi’s hand. The movement made him open his eyes and looked up at him, his tongue darting out to lick his lips.

 

Suddenly, Hanma felt like he was sweating in his hoodie with the way Takemichi was looking at him. Whether it was intentional or not, he was still greatly affected. 

 

“You tired?” He forced out, his mouth suddenly dry. 

 

Takemichi just nodded slightly, maintaining eye contact, “Walk me home Hanma.”

 

It wasn’t a question, and Hanma had a feeling that Takemichi was implying more. His heart skipped a beat, and smiled, the slight smirk Takemichi sent back told the whole story. They both knew what Takemichi meant. 

 

.

 

The first kiss had been electrifying, all the tension suddenly bubbled over when they were walking down the corridor to Takemichi’s apartment. From then on, they were stumbling over each other, unable to keep their lips apart. Hanma was savouring this, because he didn’t know if he’d ever get the chance again. 

 

“Ha~Hanma-kun...you don’t have to be so gentle...it’s not my first time.”

“...Mikey?”

“Mmmgh! N-no...my friend-ah! Makoto...fucking horny bastard.”

“Are you...still like that with him?”

Takemichi had shook his head, his eyes squeezed shut, “N-ah~...it was just a few times in highschool, when we were drunk after a party or something.”

“Was he good?”

“Huh? I guess good enough, I don’t have anything to compare it to.”

Hanma smirked and leaned down, capturing Takemichi’s lips, “Now you will...and I better win in comparison.”

“Oh...I’m sure you will, Hanma-kun.”

 

It happened again and again and again. Often their smoke sessions would end up with them back at Takemichi’s place (excuse the few times they did it in Takemichi’s office and the one time on Hanma’s motorcycle in the back alley). 

 

To Hanma, they were more than just friends with benefits. How he feels for Takemichi, is not how you would feel for a friend, not even just a lover, rather, someone you want to spend the rest of your life with. He doesn’t mind if Takemichi is just using him, because as long as he can spend even a little amount of time holding him close, he will cherish it. 

 

8 months ago

October, 2016

He knows Takemichi is emotionally distant with him, he wonders all the time, if Takemichi loved someone else. Hanma had asked once, he’d rather not think about that memory.

 

Takemichi tensed in his arms and slowly turned his head to face Hanma, his eyes wide and displaying an emotion that Hanma couldn’t decipher.

 

“L-love? Why are you asking such things, don’t tell me you love me Hanma-kun?” Takemichi’s tone was begging, he wanted to hear anything but. Hanma pushed through the painful pang in his chest.

“No.” Yes. “I was just wondering if you were like using me as a rebound or something. Not that I mind! I mean, I care about you, but no, I don’t love you. We’re not like that.” ‘But I wish we were’.

 

Takemichi breathed out a sigh of relief before giving Hanma a weak smile, “I love a lot of people, but no, I don’t love anyone romantically...I’m not capable.” Takemichi didn’t elaborate, Hanma wished more than anything that he did. So he could understand.

 

Hanagaki Takemichi was so much more than a kind stubborn person. He was far more complicated than anyone knew, than anyone would ever know. 

 

3 months ago

March, 2017

Hanma has barely seen Takemichi lately. The latter hasn’t texted. Hanma knew that he was in the midst of taking ownership of the bakery he worked at and was really stressed. He just wished he could take away all the stress, he wanted to wipe away those eyebags, kiss a healthy flush back into his pale cheeks. Anytime he does drop by, Takemichi just looks so tired. 

 

He tells himself that he should stop worrying, that he should try and find someone who would actually settle for him. But he can’t. He misses Takemichi more than anything, but he hates himself for his cowardice of never texting or calling first. 

 

A few weeks ago (set when they ran into each other in Chapter 1 and Chapter 2)

April 30th, 2017

Hanma often finds himself wandering the streets around Takemichi’s bakery, newly named, ‘Hana’ , a full new pack of cigarettes in his hoodie pocket, ready to give to Takemichi if he asks. Being a fugitive is rather boring, he feels as though the police have forgotten about him, but the everlasting paranoia shoved into his mind by Kisaki just doesn’t want to leave. 

 

He sits in the alleyway behind the bakery, he knows Takemichi is still there because the lights are on in the back room. He notes the time, Takemichi is staying behind later than usual today. That probably meant a lot of his customers were his friends today, and they always ate all of his food, leaving him to have to make new things every day. Hanma shrinks into the shadows when he hears the back door open, Takemichi walks out. 

 

He is already shivering even though it’s nearing Summer, his thin- too thins arms wrap around himself in an attempt to keep his frail body warm. Hanma waits until Takemichi has walked past and a few moments after that until he sets off to trail after him. He justs wants to make sure he’s okay. Seeing his figure from behind, Hanma can definitely see a clear weight loss. He wants to care for Takemichi, hold him close, keep him warm.

 

He approaches Takemichi, swinging an arm over his shoulder, his hand landing on top of Takemichi’s mouth. He felt him tense under his touch, rightfully so, getting suddenly grabbed at night in Tokyo wasn’t the best thing. But before he knew it, he was bent over, clutching his stomach which Takemichi had so harshly jabbed. 

 

“Hanagakiiiiii~you wound me.” He whined. 

 

Takemichi turned around to face him, hands on his slim hips, pouting, “Hanma-kun, you really need to work on how you approach people. You scared the living daylights out of me!”

“Haha♡ I noticed.”

Takemichi huffed but Hanma couldn’t help but noticed how much he was shivering, ‘was he sick?’ “Well now that you’ve put me on nerve, walk me home?”

 

Usually, when Takemichi asked such a question, Hanma knew exactly what he meant, what he wanted. But tonight, it seemed different. 

 

“Sure♡.”

 

Hanma pressed his side to Takemichi and kept his arm wrapped around his shoulders, an attempt to keep him warm. But his own body couldn’t help but feel how little muscle and fat was on Takemichi’s body. 

 

“You been eating much lately? You look a little thin.” A lot. Very thin. 

Takemichi smiled, it was a reassuring one, Hanma had received it often when ever he asked about Takemichi’s health. And after seeing it so many times, he just couldn’t believe it anymore. 

 

“I own a bakery Hanma-kun, of course I eat a lot.” A lie. He knew it. But he didn’t press further. 

 

.

 

When Takemichi invited him inside, he immediately understood. Despite what many people would think of him, he wasn’t that inconsiderate. He wanted Takemichi to enjoy the sex, even more than himself. But the last few times they have done it, Takemichi just seems so exhausted. He refuses to let the lights be kept on, he didn’t want Hanma to let his hands roam around his body. Wouldn’t let him do anything that would increase Takemichi’s pleasure.

 

Hanma would like to say that he knew Takemichi’s body the best. Even in the dark, he saw how Takemichi’s ribs poke out through almost translucent skin. His thighs and ass, once a few desirable thickness, were now clinging to his bones. He wanted to care for Takemichi, to nurse him back to good health, to plump up his body, to bring that shining light back into his eyes. 

 

Takemichi doesn’t let him clean him up like usual. Usually, they would take a shower together afterwards and would clean each other off, exchanging a few tired chaste kisses here and there. Hanma knew Takemichi didn’t even come this time, and he hated himself for it.

 

Their relationship, beyond friendship, was purely sexual. And that’s because Takemichi didn’t want anything more. But if Hanma couldn’t even provide for him in that area, was he going to be thrown to the side? Just like Kisaki had done before? No- he needs to stop comparing the two. He needs to because he knows damn well it would hurt so much more if Takemichi treated him the way Kisaki did. 

 

He wants to stay by Takemichi’s side forever, it doesn't matter what their relationship or friendship status is. He just doesn’t want Takemichi to leave him, because then….

 

He would have no one. No one at all. 

Chapter Text

June 1st, 2017

After dinner, it was time to dance. The newlyweds went first, each having a hand on the other's waist and shoulder, smiling at each other lovingly as their song played. It was like watching two goddesses dance amongst the clouds at sunrise. Everyone else watched, enchanted, right now, it was their time. Others could dance later. 

 

Takemichi felt someone join his side, he was surprised to see that it was Shinchiro, having expected it to be Kazutora, Naoto or Mikey. Shinichiro smiled down at him and Takemichi could kinda understand the resemblance people saw between the two. 

 

“Beautiful, aren’t they? I’m really glad to see her so happy. She was always so glum before she met Hinata-chan.”

“Yes, I’m really happy for both of them, they deserve the best,” Takemichi replied. 

 

The song soon ended and everyone clapped and congratulated the blushing couple. Then, another song started and others could join in. Takemichi was surprised when Shinichiro held his hand out to him.

 

“Sh-Shinichiro-san?”

“Have this dance with me Take-kun? Takeomi is being an old grouch and refused to join me,” Shinichiro offered, a smile upon his face. 

“I- oh uh ye-”

“Shin-nii, what are you doing?” You could always count on Mikey to fucking materialise out of nowhere when Takemichi was around. 

 

Mikey’s eyes zoned in on Takemichi about to take Shinichiro’s outstretched one and he frowned upon realisation. 

 

“Takemitchy! Dance with me instead, I’m much better than my stinky brother,” Mikey propositioned, clutching onto Takemichi’s side, looking up at him with puppy dog eyes. 

 

Takemichi’s heart clenched at that face, he hated it. Because of him, that face would soon be expressing something else, something much darker. Shinichiro seemed to notice Takemichi’s discomfort.

 

“Sorry Manjirou, but I’m going to be stealing your Takemitchy away, maybe you can get the next song?”

 

Mikey huffed and reluctantly let go of Takemichi, muttering a quick ‘whatever’, before making his way over to the table. Everyone else was dancing with someone. Even Draken, he was fucking slow dancing with Inui in the corner, Mikey rolled his eyes when he saw Draken tuck a strand of Inui’s long hair behind his ear and Inui’s face going bright red. ‘So. Fucking. Adorable.’ His eyes shifted to the mess that was BajiKazuFuyu, it was a little more difficult to slow dance with three people but somehow they were making it work. There was no pattern to it, they were just doing what they wanted. Baji twirled both Kazutora and Chifuyu at the same time and then Chifuyu dipped Kazutora so low that his pony tail grazed the floor. They were having so much fun. Mitsuya and Hakkai, looking comfortable as always, Mitsuya’s head resting against Hakkai’s chest, the two were talking to each other, judging by Hakkai’s blush, it was something sensual. Luna and Mana were near the middle, not slow dancing whatsoever, more like break dancing but somehow, it matched the beat of the song. 

 

Senju was being rather eccentric in her ‘slow’ dance with Yuzuha, constantly twirling her around and even lifting her up a couple of times. Pah-chin and his wife were trying to have a slow dance, but with Pah came Peh. Takemichi’s school friends, the Mizo Gang, had joined in the Mitsuya Girls breakdancing. Emma and Hina were dancing as well, but it was more rocking against each other, Emma’s head resting on Hina’s shoulder. Koko was even smiling, having fun with the date he had brought along. Mikey noticed that only himself and Naoto were the ones who didn’t have anyone to dance with. But he didn’t care, he was not dancing with Naoto. He wasn’t jealous that Takemichi was dancing with Shinichiro, nope. Definitely not. Not at all. He squinted at them, they were talking to each other. He was trying to guess what they were saying by their facial expressions. Shinichiro’s usual goofy smile had dropped and he looked serious, but Takemichi’s back was to him so he didn’t know about his side. 

 

“Stop staring, it looks creepy,” Naoto’s voice ripped him out of his thoughts, he side eyed the Tachibana before returning his gaze to the dance floor. “Look, I know you’re like, in love with Takemichi but-”

“I-I am no-”

“Sano, I’m a detective, don’t try to lie to me. And besides, literally everyone knows and has known for years.” Naoto sighed before fully turning to Sano, “You need to...give up on Takemichi. He’s never going to get into a relationship with you so-”

“What? Are you dating him or something?!” Mikey snapped. 

“Well no-”

“Then shut up. I don’t care if you’re technically like my brother in law, don’t tell me to just ‘give up’ on my feelings for Takemichi. I’ve been loving him for 12 years already, you think I’m ready to give up now?”

 

‘Please. I’m doing this for you. For Takemichi. You will be hurt so much more if you don’t’

 

.

 

‘Take care of yourself Take-kun, stop worrying about others and just focus on you’, that was what Shinichiro had told him. But how could he not worry? Who knows what Mikey will do once he dies. And the others? Everyone is so happy right now, everything is perfect. He didn’t get much time to think about it because as soon as the song finished, Mikey had once again materialised to whisk him away for the next song. 

 

All the movement was making his stomach churn as well as the thoughts about how the newlyweds will react to the cake which will be brought out once the slow dancing time is complete. He could feel Mikey’s eyes boring into him, how his hands on Takemichi’s shoulder and waist clenched every so often, he wanted to ask something.

 

“You look nice tonight Mikey-kun, how’s everything going with the dojo?” Takemichi asked, finally meeting his eyes.

“What the hell is going on Takemitchy? You constantly look sick and that thing before, during dinner, is something wrong with you?” Mikey diverted the conversation in the exact opposite direction Takemichi wanted it to. 

“Just been a little stressed lately, feels weird to be in a more calm environment. That’s all.”

 

Mikey sighed, obviously not believing him, but he, like many, knew Takemichi well enough to not keep pushing because they’d get the same answer.

“I heard you hired the Haitani’s. Let me know if they try anything funny and I’ll beat them to a pulp.” Mikey felt the happiest he had all night when his comment made Takemichi laugh.

“Mhm, I’m sure you will Mikey-kun. Like my knight in shining armour, or rather, midget with an awesome kick?” Takemichi teased.

 

‘Stop it, Takemichi! Stop it! Push him away. Leave!’

 

“Wow, you’re only like two inches taller than me. But if I’m the knight, does that make you the beautiful prince who needs saving?” Mikey leaned closer, waggling his eyebrows.

 

‘Why would you make that analogy Takemichi?! It’s obviously romantic! Pull away, he’s too close.You’re going to hurt him!’

 

‘But I need saving, don’t I?’

 

“Sure, Mikey-kun,” Takemichi replied, chuckling. 

Chapter Text

Hey just putting this on all my stories.

 

I might not update for the next few days, i dont really have an excuse. I mean i am working the entire weekend but other than that, i'm having difficulty writing. Sometimes I get to a point in my depression where I literally don't feel anything. And that makes it difficult to write because I can't put any emotions into it and it's really bland and lifeless and not meaningful. And almost always after the few days of feeling nothing, I feel really overwhelmed for another few days. 

I really do appreciate all the love my stories get and I will be continuing! I just want what I do update to be good quality. 

I think I've mentioned this before in one of my stories, but I do live in a very abusive and toxic household with four younger siblings aged ten and under. 

 

TW: Mentions of self harm don't read if you don't want to!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my brothers has a lot of issues and today he threw scissors and other sharp things at me which left a lot of cuts on me. Seeing such cuts almost made me relapse which I haven't done in months and I think that was the trigger for me suddenly not feeling well mentally.

I will continue writing so don't worry! I just need a little bit of time (and maybe antidepressants that don't make me feel worse lol ;)) 

 

Love you all and I'll be back! 

Chapter Text

June 1st, 2017

Senju was bouncing up and down cheering what could only be assumed as ‘Cake! Cake! Cake!’. Yuzuha pinched the bridge of her nose at her wife’s childish antics but she couldn’t deny that she too was excited to see what Takemichi had created. Everyone was. Everyone knew how hard Takemichi had worked on it, and well, let’s just say his sweet creations never fell short of excellence. The lights were turned off and the cake was wheeled out, everyone waited in anticipation for the lights to turn on. Takemichi was nervously awaiting Hina and Emma’s reactions. 

 

Gentle yellow lights flickered around the cake, illuminating it. Gasps and whispers filled the room, then a squeal Takemichi was positive came from Senju. The cake that Emma and Hina had selected was on three layers and was a pale pink and cream base with flowers iced on. What Takemichi had created was five tiers, the same colours but rather the flowers were all handmade with fondant, edible pearls and gold decorated it. It was far beyond what they were expecting. 

 

The newlyweds turned to him, both having tears in their eyes. Hina pulled him in for a hug first, Emma then joining in.

 

“It’s- oh my goodness Takemichi! It’s beautiful!”

“I love it so much, you did incredible it’s- just wow!”

 

Takemichi’s heart might have just exploded and mended itself all at the same time just then. He swelled with pride and he felt better than he had all evening, they like- no- loved the cake!

 

“Let’s dig in shall we?”

 

/

 

Everyone thought it was beautiful and delicious, Takemichi was red faced for the next hour or so from all the compliments. 

 

“Yuzu, I’m sorry but we need to get a divorce,” Senju declared. 

Yuzuha looked down at her wife with an eyebrow raised, “And why is that?”

“So we can get married again and have Takemichi make our cake!” She exclaimed before shoving another spoonful of cake into her mouth.

Yuzuha rolled her eyes, “I’m sure Takemichi can make cakes for other events too, like birthdays and things.”

“Hey, Takemichi, you should just become our personal baker,” Senju called out.

Takemichi turned around from where he was talking to Hakkai and Mitsuya, “Who’s to say I’m not already? I serve all of you guys more than any of my regular customers.”

 

/

 

Takemichi went to sit down at a table, his energy was really running low and his head was pounding again. He stilled when suddenly someone sat next to him. It was Izana. Surprisingly, a small smile was on his face and it was actually directed towards him.

 

“You made her happy. Thank you Hanagaki.” Izana patted his shoulder awkwardly.

“You can call me Takemichi, Izana-kun. And I’m just glad her and Hina liked the cake,” Takemichi replied, smiling.

Izana nodded and stood up, before he turned, he said one last thing, “Hey...look after yourself Han-Takemichi, there are a lot of people that care about you. Don’t forget that.”

 

Takemichi was left speechless, Izana threw him one last small smile before walking away to join Kakucho. 

 

He didn’t really get the chance to breathe either because two more Sano’s plopped themselves on either side of him. Shinichiro to his right, Mikey to his left, it was suffocating to be surrounded by those two pairs of endless black eyes. 

 

“U-um, hi?”

“We were all going to talk to you, but Emma is still in another world with her wife,” Shinichiro started, confusing him.

“Wha-”

“So anyway, for some reason Shin-nii wants to do something big for Izana’s birthday, so we decided we’re going to surprise him with a cruise around the islands surrounding the Philippines,” Mikey explained. 

Shinichiro scoffed, “It’s not just for any reason, he will be 30. And he’s your older brother, it wouldn’t hurt for you to respect him a little more.”

Mikey rolled his eyes before turning his attention back to Takemichi, “It’s a family trip and we want to invite you Takemitchy. I want you to come.”

 

Why does the universe constantly put him in situations like these where he’s forced to lie. He knew Izana’s birthday was at the end of August, that’s basically three months away. He definitely wouldn’t be in any condition to go. 

 

“I-I don’t you. You said it was a family thing…” he drifted off, hoping they’d understand. But what was he thinking? They’re Sano’s. 

“Everyone is bringing someone who they consider their family too. Kakucho is invited, Emma is bringing Hina-chan along. I’ve even convinced Takeomi to get off his ass and come too. Besides, you’ve always been a part of the family anyway Take-kun,” Shinichiro said. 

 

Takemichi wished his heart didn’t clench and his throat didn’t close up at that. Here he was, hearing how there was actually someone who wanted him to be their family and he was thinking about how to lie to them. 

 

“Grandpa considered you his grandson too. Besides, I don’t have anyone to bring. So, will you be my plus one Takemitchy?” There Mikey was again, pleading with those eyes. 

“Wh-what about Draken-kun? He’s your best friend.”

 

Shinichiro internally smacked his forehead. Mikey didn’t want to take his best friend, he wanted to take his love like everyone else was. As bad as he felt for his brother, his mind kept wandering back to Takemichi’s tearful expression as he begged him to understand why he couldn’t be with Mikey. 

 

“Draken doesn’t really know Izana, so it would be strange. Is it that bad of an idea? To come on a cruise with me? And my-our family?”

 

Takemichi couldn’t say no. Not with Mikey looking so dejected. He couldn’t lie, it sounded like so much fun and he actually had hope that maybe his treatments could pull him through for a few more months. A genuine smile spread across his face.

 

“I’d love to come, I promise I’ll be there getting a killer tan.”

Chapter Text

June 1st, 2017

Everything felt funny. How much had he drunk? He didn’t even remember drinking in the first place. He looked around and remembered they were in the private suite for the after party. It was only the main gang, everyone was drinking or dancing or puking or-fuck was Peh-yan doing all three at once?! Inui obviously couldn’t hold his alcohol well because he was passed out in Draken’s arms. Chifuyu and Kazutora were passionately making out and…was Baji holding scissors to his beautiful luscious long hair? Nuh uh, that is not happening. Takemichi jumped out of his seat on the couch, ignoring how the world was now spinning around him and lunged at Baji.

 

The scissors knocked out of his hands and they both fell to the floor, Takemichi winced in pain since Baji ended up landing on top of him. 

 

“Baji? What the fuck, get off Takemitchy,” Mikey grumbled, yanking the disoreintated drunk and helped Takemichi up. 

“I’m okay Mikey-kun, I just didn’t want anyone to deal with sober Baji’s wrath when he realised he cut off his hair.”

“Ooh! I have an idea! The brides each have to say something embarrassing they did before they met each other!” Senju yelled, clearing drunk out of her mind.

 

The brides themselves were leaving the definition of tipsy and wandering dangerously close to black out drunk, giggling uncontrollably.

 

Hina took another sip of her glass of wine, “Okay! Okay! I want to go first! When I was like six, I saw a cat stuck in a tree and I thought ‘oh! I wanna help it get down!’. So I climbed up the tree and it turned out, it wasn’t a cat! It was a raccoon and it jumped out at me, making me fall.” Hina burst out into laughter, “I didn’t even break anything, just got a scratch on my nose from the raccoon!”

 

Emma giggled and patted her wife’s arm, “That’s not embarrassing, that’s cute! Hmm, let me think, what did I ever do? Nothing obviously since I’m perfect!” Mikey snorted and Baji started rolling around on the ground laughing.

 

Emma suddenly made eye contact with Takemichi and a wave of ‘fuck no’ rushed over him. He knew what Emma was going to say now, and he did not want anyone finding out about that.

 

“This was actually the morning of the day that I met you babe, I, oh, Takemichi-kun, help me tell the story?” She asked, a teasing smile on her flushed face. 

 

He felt people looking at him, Mikey’s eyes boring into him in fact.

 

“I- I’m good Emma-chan, I really think you should think of another story.”

“Oh no, now I’m interested. What did you two do?” Draken asked with a raised eyebrow. 

“Oh I’ll just say it!” Emma hiccuped, took a swig, kissed Hina and then continued, “So at the time I was like, in love with Draken,” strong start “and I wanted to make him jealous! So I went to this karaoke bar that was popular with teens and-”

“Emma-chan! Really, there is no need to continue!” Takemichi interrupted, flustered. 

“What the hell did you do with my sister?” Izana was now suddenly in front of him, fist clenched. Takemichi swore he saw his life flash before his eyes. 

“Anyway! This is my story so shush! Anyway, I saw Takemichi-kun wandering around so I grabbed him and pulled him into my room and-”

“She just started undressing out of nowhere! And then she tried to kiss me and I ran away!” Takemichi shrieked. 

Emma pouted, “I was getting there. Anyway, yeah, I tried to sleep with him because I wanted to make Draken jealous. It was so funny to see Takemichi-kun that night with his beautiful girlfriend who is now my wife.”

“So that was why you called him a wussy boy that night?” Draken asked, trying to wrap his head around this newfound information. 

 

Mikey was fuming at this information while everyone else was laughing. He couldn’t believe his sister had gotten closer to doing anything romantic or sexual with Takemichi than he had. And the fact that this was right after Mikey had declared Takemichi as his bitch, ugh, unbelievable. 

 

“Why were you even there by yourself at a karaoke bar?” Mikey asked through gritted teeth.

“Uh, well I was supposed to meet Akkun there, but he had to cancel at the last minute because he had to look after his little sister. No offence to Emma-chan, but I swear I had no idea that would happen.”

 

“My uncle broke his neck tap dancing once,” Peh-yan confessed. 

Chapter Text

June 2nd, 2017

 

The day after the wedding, many painful headaches, sensitivity to light and extreme hunger; hangover. But everyone gathered from either their hotel room or the floor or the bushes (seriously, are you trying to copy your uncle Peh-yan?) to bid the newlyweds goodbye for their two week honeymoon to a secluded beach in Okinawa to enjoy the summer heat while it lasts. 

 

Nearly everyone got completely shit faced. He shoved his hands further into his sweatpants and found himself glancing over at Mikey, who was hugging Emma and listing off all the fighting tactics he taught her if (or when as Mikey was making it sound) they encounter a land walking shark at the beach where they are staying. His chest tightened and he thought back to last night.

 

.

 

June 2nd, 2017, very very very early in the morning

Right now, everyone is pretty drunk. Takemichi should have stopped a long time ago, no, he shouldn’t have drunk at all. Hell, drinking alcohol with his medications was a dangerous mix but fuck it, he just wants to have some fun. 

 

“Where is the weirdest or the most unconventional place you’ve ever had sex?” Baji asked everyone, wiggling his eyebrows.

“Umm, oh! Emma remember when we went to that festival?”

“Oh and the ferris wheel? Yeah, that was so scary at the same time! I was worried you weren’t going to finish before the ride finished,” Emma giggled.

 

The Sano’s and Naoto made disgusted faces, not wanting to hear about their sisters sex lives.

 

“Shit! Fuyu, Tora, why haven’t we thought of that? It sounds awesome!” Baji exclaimed.

“You’re banned from festivals after you wrestled a clown. Anyway, I would say that the weirdest place I’ve had sex is a areoplane bathroom,” Chifuyu said.

“Oh yeah, same for me, when we went down to Osaka,” Kazutora added.

“What about you Draken?”

Draken subconsciously glanced over to Inui before smiling regretfully, “A bakery bathroom.”

Takemichi gasped and glared at him, “You said Inui-kun was having stomach issues! You- you…oh my god. In my bathroom?!”

“I’m so sorry, our apartment was having repairs and we had no privacy-”

“My bathroom,” Takemichi sobbed. 

 

“Mikey?”

“I’m not doing this,” he grumbled.

“Oh are you still a virgin Mikey?” Izana teased.

“Shut up, I’m not Shin.”

“Excuse me, I’ll have you know that foreigners love me.”

“Gross! Takeomi is the only one who would ever touch you anyway.”

“Keep me out of this.”

 

Mikey had only ever had drunken sex with strangers to try and take his mind of Takemichi. There was no way he was saying that in front of everyone, even if most of them were too drunk to remember this conversation. 

 

“I’d say that little canoe when we were exploring the little islands surrounding the Philippines.” Kakucho admitted, his face going red. Izana smiled triumphantly beside him as he remembered that little trip. 

“I treat my lady the best, only on the comfort of our bed,” Peh yan said.

“You don’t even have a lady!”

“Shut up, I do!”

“What about you Take-kun?” Kazutora asked.

 

Takemichi took another sip of his drink, debating if he should say the time when he and Makoto were so drunk after a party in highschool that they thought a park bench was a bed. Or when he and Hanma went at it on his cheeterprint motorcycle a few months back. He decided on Hanma.

 

“A motorcycle,” he said simply.

 

Mikey spat out his drink and Draken raised an eyebrow. Baji patted him on the back proudly. 

 

“Dame Take, didn’t expect that from you. Was it a good quality bike at least?” Shinichiro asked.

“Didn’t really pay attention.” Takemichi shrugged. 

 

For the nth time tonight, he could feel Mikey’s eyes on him. He avoided his gaze and started a conversation with Kakucho. 

 

.

 

“Oi Takemitchy, can you make sure Mikey doesn’t knock anything over? He tends to get, how do I say this…kicky? Yeah, when he’s drunk. I’m just going to take Seishu up to our-his room.” Draken asked, gesturing to Inui who was asleep on the couch and then to Mikey who was running around the suit, Baji hot on his heels with a bowl of guacamole in his hands.

 

“Sure, but I don’t think I could stop Mikey-kun from kicking anything, drunk or not,” he replied, chuckling slightly when he saw that Baji had finally caught up to Mikey, guacamole dripping from his golden locks. Baji then ran off to grab what he assumed to be another bowl, this one filled with corn chips. 

 

“It’s all good, Tachibana’s are paying for everything anyway. Maybe if Chifuyu and Kazutora pull away from each others faces for five seconds and manage Baji then a murder may not occur when Baji scoops up the guac from Mikey’s head.”

 

Just as he finished, Baji’s shriek filled the room when Mikey tackled him to the ground, throwing crushed up chips into the raven’s eyes. Draken quickly exited the room with Inui in his arms before the latter woke up. With Draken gone, and Pah as well being the only one who matched Draken in strength having left a few hours before with his wife, there was really no one who can pull Mikey off. Emma and Hina were out on the balcony, Shin was an embarrassing drunk so Takeomi had led him out about an hour ago and Izana couldn’t be fucked. He was just lazily sipping on his drink beside a flushed Kakucho watching the scene play out. 

 

He looked over at Chifuyu and Kazutora, they had been basically all over each other ever since they started drinking. Takemichi wasn’t really surprised though, the days following one of his ‘bad days’ he was usually overly clingy with Chifuyu and Baji. But Baji had been terrorising others all night so he was spending all that pent up clinginess on Chifuyu. He didn’t feel like breaking them apart. So he sighed and stood up, he was suddenly overwhelmed with the need to puke, even those few drinks were probably too much. He wasn’t supposed to drink any alcohol but fuck the rules since life decided to fuck him. 

 

He walked over to the wrestling duo, now they were yanking at each other’s long hair, a cat fight really. He stayed far enough back that he didn’t catch a foot to the face or some chip crumbs in his eyes. He just said softly, 

 

“Mikey-kun.”

 

And that was it. Mikey whipped his head up to meet Takemichi’s condescending gaze. 

 

“I’ll take you to my room and I’ll clean you up alright? You’re covered in guac.”

“Okay Mitchy!” Mikey scowled down at Baji below him, “Later loser.”

 

Takemichi led the way with a stumbling Mikey following behind, he opened the door to his room and rushed to the toilet. Throwing up for the second time tonight. Mikey stood at the door with his arms crossed. He seemed angry.

 

“Who did you have sex with?”

Takemichi glared at his mess in the toilet bowl, wiping his mouth, “Who did you have sex with? I know you’re not a virgin Mikey-kun.”

“What if I said I don’t even know their names?” Mikey asked, irritated.

“What if I said the same thing?”

“Stop fucking avoiding the question!”

“Jesus fuck, Makoto alright? But it was years ago in high school. He’s the only person I’ve ever had sex with and I don’t plan on ever doing it with him again.” Takemichi seethed, lying right through his teeth. 

 

Mikey glared some more as Takemichi got off the ground and walked over to the sink to wash his mouth out. His angry glare soon turned to teary eyes and a trembling chin. Why couldn’t Takemichi just love him?

 

“Get in the bathtub, I’ll wash your hair,” Takemichi instructed.

“Will you get in with me?” Mikey asked hopefully.

“You were literally just yelling at me.”

“So were you and now you’re being all kind and offering to wash my hair.”

“Because I’m a nice person and you smell and look gross. Green is not your colour.”

 

Mikey sucked his teeth before taking his skirt off. He went to unbuckle his pants but a hand flung out and stopped him.

 

“Keep your pants on. Once I’m done with your hair, I’ll leave you to shower yourself.” Takemichi said, his hair turned but Mikey could still see the pink flush on his cheeks. He smiled to himself. 



Takemichi’s hands were gentle, he felt like he was in heaven as Takemichi massaged his scalp. He closed his eyes and listened to Takemichi’s quiet humming. He was so in love that it was actually painful. His heart clenched at the fact that having Takemichi by his side for the rest of his life was such a small possibility. 

 

No. He made a decision. On the cruise, he would organise something beautiful and ask Takemichi to be his boyfriend. 

 

Takemichi’s hands suddenly stopped.

 

“M-Mikey-kun…you…you um.”

 

Mikey opened his eyes, he had a fucking boner. 

 

“You can just wash it out and um, I’ll leave so you can uh, fix your problem,” Takemichi said hastily before rushing out of the room.

 

Mikey sighed. He really did have to just fuck up everything didn’t he?

 

.

 

Izana and Shinichiro then took their turns to hug Emma and Naoto with Hina. Yuzuha and Senju then basically jumped the brides with a series of hugs and cheek kisses, (and forehead ones from Yuzuha). Takemichi walked over, giving Emma a quick hug and a pat on the head before turning to the Tachibana’s. Hina pulled him in for a tight hug, clenching his shirt with her hands.

 

“I swear to god Takemichi if anything and I mean anything happens, please call me. I’m so worried something is going to happen to you while I’m gone.”

“I promise Hina, don’t worry. I want you to enjoy your honeymoon and not worry about me.” Takemichi said. 

Hina only pulled away enough to look at her brother, “And you, look after him. Make sure he takes his medications and doesn’t miss any appointments.”

“Roger that.”

Chapter Text

June 3rd, 2017

 

Takemichi’s tired eyes drifted between the two Haitani brothers. Fuck. He had completely forgotten about them. And now they were standing in front of him, expectant looks in their eyes not even a minute after he opened the front door. 

 

“I’m so sorry. I’ve been so busy I haven’t even made you a roster or asked Mitsuya-kun for aprons and-”

“It’s all good Boss. We heard you were at a wedding, a Sano getting married isn’t a quiet thing,” Ran said with a small smile. 

 

Takemichi breathed out a sigh of relief, at least they weren’t mad at him. Or was Rindou? He wasn’t sure, the younger Haitani was much more blank and less talkative.

 

“Okay well, I guess today I’ll just show you how things work and where everything is. Customers don’t usually start rolling in until about 7 so we have an hour.”

 

The brothers nodded and followed behind Takemichi into what they assumed to be his office. It was small with  a desk, a chair, a little couch and a filing cabinet. 

 

“I think I have some spare aprons you two can use, they may be a bit small though since they're my size. And I’ll put in an order for your name badges.” Takemichi murmured, searching through the cabinets of his desk where he knew he kept his spare aprons in case the one he was wearing got dirty. 

 

Out of the corner of his eye he saw Ran go to sit on the couch and he jumped up, way too suddenly for his head to handle, causing him to sway slightly.

 

“Don’t sit on that!” He screeched remembering the time (times) when he and Hanma had…well you know.

 

Ran looked at him confused but stood up and stepped away, Takemichi flushed in embarrassment.

 

“S-sorry, I didn’t mean to yell. It’s just really dirty and-”

“Boss, I think maybe you should take a breather. You seemed really stressed,” Rindou advised calmly. 

 

At that, Takemichi’s eyes widened as he remembered that he hadn’t taken his medications today. Naoto had an early shift patrolling the city so he couldn’t remind him. Shit. And he had an appointment around lunchtime which he also had not planned for. He was a mess. There was no way he could leave the Haitani’s with his bakery alone. God, no, maybe he can just reschedule for a later appointment or maybe one for Wednesday since that was now another day he had off. 

 

But nevertheless, he shook the thoughts from his mind and smiled at the brothers.

 

“I’m all good, here are your aprons and let me show you how the registers work!”

 

.

 

The aprons were most certainly too small. On Takemichi, it was loose and ended half way down his shins. On the Haitani’s, they were tight across their chests and ended above their knees. It was a bit of a ridiculous sight, two grown ass men, one 30 and the other almost 30, wearing pale blue basically child sized aprons. And their galaxy-like dyed hair accompanying the look. But it also was rather cute, Takemichi had to admit. 

 

Customers seemed to like the new faces, the elderly ladies making their sweet intentions very clear. Since most of his customers were elderly, Takemichi would usually go to their table and take their order so they didn’t have to stand in line. Today, he asked Ran to do it. He didn’t know the brothers exceptionally well, but he knew Ran was the more charismatic and sociable one. Takemichi kept Rindou up at the register with him, explaining how the machine worked and things like making edits to an order, split payments and the sorts. 

 

“Alright, I just need to go take something out of the oven and I’ll be right back. Please don’t dislocate any customers joints while I’m gone,” Takemichi told Rindou. He didn’t really need to get something out of the oven, he just had to reschedule his appointment.

 

Rindou on the other hand was internally smiling at the fact that Takemichi remembered his fighting technique. He nodded mutely and turned to take the next person’s order. 

 

Takemichi walked into the kitchen so that his lie seemed true before fishing his phone out of his pocket. 

 

“Hello, you have reached the reception of the Oncology Ward, Tokyo Private Hospital. How can I help?”

“My name is Hanagaki Takemichi, I had an appointment with Dr. Morisuke later today. Something has come up and I won’t be able to make it.”

“Ah yes, I see your file here. Hanagaki-san, are you sure you want to cancel? The appointment is listed as urgent.”

“I’m not canceling all together, I was wondering if he was available some time on Wednesday? It’s my day off.”

“Yes actually, there is an availability at 2:15pm, does that work for you?”

“Yes, thank you. And um, I can’t exactly remember the schedule. What kind of appointment is it this time? Tests or consultation?”

“A consultation sir, Dr. Morisuke wanted to discuss the most recent test results and then schedule your next round of chemotherapy.”

He sighed, “Thank you so much, bye.”

 

He heard someone clear their throat and he slowly turned around, wide eyed, to see Ran standing there.

 

“H-how long have you been standing there?” He asked nervously.

“Just got here Boss, don’t worry. Mrs Chi wanted to know if you had any almond milk and Rin said you were in the kitchen so…”

“Ah, no it’s alright. And yes we do, it’s just in that fridge over there.”

“Thanks Boss, and sorry, didn’t mean to startle you.” Ran apologised.

 

.

 

Around 11, Takemichi said the brothers could take a half an hour break.

 

“Are you sure? We could take breaks at different times so you wouldn’t have to work alone,” Rindou offered.

“I ran this place alone just fine before I hired you two, are you underestimating your boss?” Takemichi asked teasingly, raising an eyebrow.

“No way. So, for our break, is there a room out back or can we just go wherever?” Ran asked.

“Well usually, I don’t take a break, just have a drink or something at the register with me. Um, so there isn’t a break room, you can leave, just make sure you’re back by 11:30.”

 

The brothers nodded but couldn’t help but be concerned that Takemichi doesn’t take breaks. 

 

They decided to go to a small local owned restaurant a block away. Ran was a little off, Rindou had noticed. Although he kept a composed expression, his leg was bouncing under the table and he kept brushing his nose with his hand, a sign that he wanted to say something.

 

“You’ve been acting strange ever since you talked to Takemichi in the kitchen,” Rindou pointed out.

“I overheard him on the phone-”

“You eavesdropped on our boss, Ran? Are you trying to get fired on your first day?”

“I didn’t mean to okay! But I heard that he was canceling a doctor's appointment and it sounded important. He said he was cancelling because something came up today. It’s obviously us! We showed up today and he wasn’t ready but he still allowed us to work. He cancelled because of us, what if it was something really important with his health and-”

“Ran, fuck just calm down. Takemichi is a really responsible person, I’m sure he would do that mature thing. It probably wasn’t urgent if he cancelled at the last minute.”

“But Takemichi doesn’t do anything for himself! You heard him before, he doesn’t take breaks. And he looks so tired all the time." 

 

Ran looked so concerned, Rindou was more used to his teasing and calm expression. Ran and Rindou had been intrigued by Takemichi ever since he was in middle school. Such selflessness and kindness that had stayed with him into adulthood. And a little crush never hurt anybody right? They had jumped at the chance when Takemichi was looking for workers, hoping to get closer with him. Ran was never serious about anything other than his brother, and Rindou didn’t care for much and found it difficult to gain attachment towards people or things. But Hanagaki Takemichi had a way of making people act out of character, in a good way.

 

“Well we are working with him now aren’t we? We can look after him, make sure he eats and urge him to trust us enough so he can take breaks.”

Ran’s eyes lit up and he smiled, “Good idea Rin.”

 

.

 

Takemichi glanced at the clock on the wall, it was 11:25. It wasn’t too busy, Monday’s were usually the most busy earlier in the morning. He’s already had Pah-chin and Peh-yan come in for some coffee and cakes before they headed to their real estate office. Luna and Mana dropped in with some friends to get some cookies and iced latte’s. 

 

Takemichi was wiping down the counter when he saw the lower half of someone’s body, he looked up, his eyes widening slightly at the person.

 

“Sanzu-kun? Uh, nice to see you,” he smiled and hoped his surprise hadn’t been obvious. 

“You don’t have to lie Hanagaki, and um I don’t know if they told you but I’ve actually made up with my siblings. I changed my name back to Akashi Haruchiyo,” He said softly, a gentle smile adorning his scarred face.

 

Takemichi noticed that there was definitely something different about Sanzu- Akashi…Haruchiyo’s behaviour. But he didn’t want to judge, he didn’t know him all that well after all. 

 

“That’s great Akashi-kun, Senju and Takeomi-san really missed you so I’m glad everything is working out!” Takemichi replied with a genuine smile. 

“Ah thanks. And um…I mean, you can uh you can call me by my first name too,” Haruchiyo murmured quietly.

“Sure Haru-kun, only if you call me Takemichi too.”

“Of course.” Haru-kun…he liked that. “Um but I actually came here to apologise.”

Takemichi’s eyebrows furrowed in confusion, “Apologise? What for?”

“When I overdosed in the back alley last year and you dealt with my mess…and well…I wasn’t very nice to you when we were younger.” 

“It’s okay, really Haru-kun. I’ve made friends with people I never thought I would.” Takemichi reassured.

“Well, okay um…the only times that we have ever interacted, I was under the influence of drugs and I really want to apologise for that. I have been working really hard lately and well…I’ve been sober for six months now and I’m making amends with all the people I hurt when I was on drugs.”

 

Haruchiyo stilled when he felt a pair of arms wrap around him, Takemichi seemed to have run around the counter and...hugged him?

 

“That is amazing news Haru-kun, truly. Sobriety is really difficult, I’m so proud of you!” Takemichi beamed up at him and Haruchiyo felt his heart begin to race. 

“Oh um-th-thank you Takemic-”

“Sanzu fucking Haruchiyo, what the hell are you doing here?” Haruchiyo pulled away from Takemichi to see Haitani fucking Ran and Haitani fucking Rindou. What the hell were they doing here?

“Ran-kun! That is no way to talk to anyone that walks in here,” Takemichi scolded, frowning up at the older Haitani. 

“I-I’m sorry Boss it’s just-”

“I don’t care if shit happened in the past, everyone had shit with each other when we were younger, we were in gangs for fuck sake. I’m really disappointed Ran-kun, you’re supposed to be professional and polite.”

Ran bowed, “I really am sorry.”

“You can apologise to Haru-kun too, he was just telling me some great news and now you’ve soured the mood.”

Ran resisted the urge to scoff before muttering a low, “Sorry Sanzu.”

“It’s Akashi,” Takemichi corrected.

“Sorry Akashi.” 

“Rindou-kun, can you please go over to table seven and serve that elderly man there. And Ran-kun, wait for me in the kitchen, I’ll need some help moving bags of flour.”

 

Ran’s head hung low in shame and he nodded slowly before going out back to the kitchen. Rindou went to fulfill the task asked of him too. 

 

“You didn’t have to do that, Takemichi, but I really appreciate it.”

“It’s all good, they need to know not to mess with me, I’m the boss after all,” Takemichi sassed. 

“I um…well, you’re the first person I’ve told about reaching this milestone and I…well I need to apologise for those I’ve hurt and that includes you so…can I take you out to dinner tonight? As an apology?”

Takemichi’s eyes widened, “H-Haru-kun, there’s no need, I don’t want to be an inconvenience.”

“It’s not Takemichi, and I just want you to know I’m not doing this to make a move on you, if that’s what you're thinking, I’d never do that to Mikey.” Haruchiyo said the last part quietly but Takemichi still heard it.

 

Mikey ran a bunch of dojo’s and training centers around Japan, and Haruchiyo worked with him closely. And it seemed that Haruchiyo also knew about Mikey’s feelings for him. 

 

Going anywhere other than home and the bakery probably wasn’t the best idea, especially with how quickly his condition has been deteriorating lately. But Haruchiyo looks so remorseful and like a completely changed man to the one Takemichi once knew, he couldn’t say no. He also didn’t want to. 

 

“Alright, I’ll be there, I promise. I’ll give you my number so you can text me the details.”

 

Sanzu nodded eagerly and pulled his phone out of his pocket.  

 

 

 

and i made this for your souls too

Chapter Text

June 3rd, 2017

The afternoon hours are pretty quiet, Takemichi decided to leave Ran and Rindou out the front for a bit so he could replenish the chocolate cookies. He felt his phone buzzing in his pocket, pulling it out and revealing Haruchiyo had texted him.

 

Haru-kun: hey takemichi

Haru-kun: your shop closes at five right? I want to take you to this newly opened restaurant a few blocks from your bakery

Haru-kun: if you still want to ofc

 

Me: ofc i do haru-kun!

Me: and yes, i close at five

Me: i walked to work today since i only live around the corner, i can give you my address

 

Haru-kun: i can pick you up

Haru-kun: this evening is all about my apology and a part of that is you not walking home alone

 

Me: its really fine

Me: i do it most days since i cant really afford fuel

 

Haru-kun: picking you up at five

 

Takemichi chuckled down at his phone, Haruchiyo seemed adamant and he didn’t want to upset him.

 

Me: alright

 

He pocketed his phone before turning to the ingredients laid out on the counter in front of him. And…he had no idea what to do? No, that’s not right. It was the most basic recipe, he made it everyday off by heart. So why was nothing coming to mind?

 

He reached out for the sugar, one cup? No! That’s too much. Or was it? Most things were one cup right so…yeah, one cup of sugar. NO! That’s wrong, he knows it. But what is it instead? Maybe a different ingredient, chocolate chips, that’s obvious it’s…it’s. 

 

He doesn’t even understand what’s going on before he's hyperventilating on his knees. Why can’t he remember? No! Shit! Fuck! No no no no!

 

Think about things, Takemichi. This morning for breakfast he….this morning for breakfast he…okay…his most popular item is strawberry tart-No! It’s…it’s.

 

His eyes were blown wide. He was forgetting. This was one of the side effects he was trying to avoid the most. It terrified him, having his memory messed up. 

 

Someone is calling out to him but he can barely even hear it. 

 

“Boss!”

“Boss?”

“Boss?! Hey, are you okay?”

“Hanagaki-san?”

He heaves, suddenly taking in too much oxygen, “For fuck sake, stop treating me so politly, you’re older than me!”

 

Rindou is confused, Takemichi had been the one to tell them to be professional. When he had walked into the kitchen to find Takemichi on the ground breathing heavily, he rushed to him, calling out but Takemichi didn’t respond until just then. He looked at the ingredients scattered over the counter, some on the floor.

 

“What’s wrong with me? Why-why can’t I remember the recipe?!” Although Takemichi was calling out, Rindou felt as if he wasn’t actually asking him.

“Hey…Takemichi? It’s okay if you can’t remember a recipe, that’s what they’re there for.” He attempted to comfort but Takemichi just shook his head, his own eyes widened when he realised Takemichi had started crying. His body is shaking, his chest heaving and quiet sobs leaving his mouth.

“Takemichi!”

 

.

 

“What the fuck do you mean you can’t tell us? We brought him here!” Ran yelled, getting all up in the nurse's face.

 

Well, let’s backtrack a bit. After Takemichi had what Rindou thought to be a nervous breakdown, he passed out, which freaked him out. Especially when he didn’t wake up after a few minutes. He had called Ran in and then the rest was really a blur for him. Ran said they would drive him to the hospital, claiming to be faster than an ambulance. Rindou ushered all the customers out before locking the bakery up and jumping in the car with his brother and a still unconscious Takemichi.

 

And now, Takemichi was in a hospital bed, hooked up to several machines watching over his machines, the doctors and nurses kept talking in quiet voices about him, refusing to let Ran and Rindou know anything.

 

“I’m sorry, but Hanagaki-san has particular restrictions over his health status, only two people are permitted to know about it and you two men are neither of them. So I’m going to have to ask you to stop bothering me or I will call security.” 

 

Ran clenched and unclenched his fists several times before he felt Rindou grab his arm and pull him over to the bed. Now that Takemichi was asleep and unable to offer a distractive reassuring smile, the brothers noticed how pale and sickly he looked. How had his friends not noticed such things? Why was he still working, he was thin and frail?

 

Another nurse came to the other side of the bed, needle in hand.

 

“What the hell are you doing?” Ran snapped. 

“Taking blood for testing, Hanagaki-san has consented to such tests in his file,” he replied, tone bored. 

 

When the needle penetrates Takemichi’s skin, his face screws up and winces and his eyes slowly open. God did he hate needles. 

 

“Takemichi!”

 

His eyes blow wide as he looks around, he’s in a hospital bed and Ran and Rindou are right beside him. Fuck. He hoped the doctors didn’t tell them anything. He waits until the nurse leaves before turning back to the brothers.

 

“Why am I here?”

“Y-you passed out and didn’t wake up,” Rindou whispered. 

“There was no need to bring me here, I appreciate your concern but really no need.”

“Stop it, stop brushing it off. You’re clearly unwell.”

Takemichi frowned, “No, I’m fine. Really. I just get bad migraine, that’s all.”

“The nurses wouldn’t tell us anything.”

 

Takemichi had to stop the relieved sigh from escaping his lips.

 

“My friends are nosy and overprotective, I didn't want them to know so my health status is private. I promise they’re just migraines.”

“Then why did they need to take your blood?” Ran asked.

“Um, I take medication for it, they’re just making sure I was taking the right dosage.” He lied.

 

The brother’s nodded, seemingly believing him. 

 

.

 

Emma was touching up her makeup, she and Hina were soon to leave to go to a pool bar, but Hina’s phone just kept ringing, it was annoying. Her beautiful wife was in the shower, but whoever was calling was persistent. She walked over to the bedside table and looked at the screen, her eyebrows furrowing in confusion. Four missed calls from ‘Tokyo Private Hospital’? God it must be important, what if Naoto was hurt and they were trying to contact her. She answered the call and brought the phone to her ear.

 

“Hello?”

“Tachibana-san, we’ve been trying to reach you for some time now.” Emma went to correct them, that not only was Hina not the one talking, but also that her name was now Sano Hinata. But she didn’t get the chance before the person on the other side of the line continued.

“We were unable to get a hold of your brother either, but Hanagaki Takemichi has been brought to hospital. He has only just woken up, but tests on his blood have shown that he has been taking his medication irregularly. Did you know of this?”

Emma was beyond confused but she was also concerned, was Takemichi alright? He was on medication? Why was Hina the one being called about it? But she needed to know more so she played along.

“No, I'm sorry. I’ve been so busy with my wedding recently, what specific medication exactly?”

“Well his blood severaly lacked traces of xxxx, which is vital for his survival. As both you and the other Tachibana-san as his caretakers, it really is important for him to take his medications every day. I’m also informing you that he has an appointment with Dr. Morisuke on this Wednesday, discussing test results and the next round of chemotherapy. I suggest that at least one of you are there with him, the later stages of cancer can be really difficult to come to terms with.”

 

Emma felt like she couldn’t breath, her throat was refusing oxygen. It was that tight. Tears welled in her eyes, the phone clenched in her tight hold. It wasn’t possible, right? There was no way- but it made so much sense. His sickly pale figure, the losing of weight, refusing to eat. Oh my god Takemichi had cancer. Hina walked out of the bathroom, the gentle smile on her face dropped when she saw Emma crying, her phone to her wife’s ear. She realised straight away.

 

“Thank you,” she whispered into the phone before hanging up.

 

“E-Emma you need to understand-”

“Tell me everything, right the fuck now. What the hell is wrong with Takemichi and why the hell were you keeping it from me?”

 

.

 

“Rindou-kun, can you pass me my phone please?”

 

He grew alarmed at the time and the number of missed calls and messages from Haruchiyo. It was 6:35. Fuck. Fuck, fuck fuck. 

 

Haru-kun: im on my way

Haru-kun: it’s only 4:45, why is the bakery closed, everything alright??

Haru-kun: im really worried takemichi, ur not answering

Haru-kun: pls tell me everything is okay

 

His body felt too exhausted to type so he pressed the call button, Haruchiyo answered straight away.

 

“Takemichi?! Are you okay?!”

“I’m so sorry for worrying you Haru-kun, I swear I didn’t intentionally ditch you, I fainted and the brothers’ freaked out and brought me to the hospital.”

“Which hospital? I’m coming.”

“I’m fine Haru, really. I just hadn’t eaten today and fainted from that,” Takemichi reassured, really not wanting to have another person suspicious of him. Haruchiyo was extremely observant. 

“Are you sure?”

“Absolutely, are you free tomorrow? We can get dinner then?”

“Yeah, I’ll pick you up, try not to faint again aye?”

“Of course.”

 

It was selfish and stupid considering the situation but the brothers couldn’t help but feel jealous that Takemichi was getting dinner with Haruchiyo.

 

Takemichi sighed and looked over at the little table beside him, Ran had gotten some food from the cafe downstairs. The brothers looked at him expectantly.

 

“You’re eating.”

 

He decided not to argue and picked up a muffin, just as he pressed it to his lips, he got another message. One that made his heart stop.

 

Hina: im so sorry, emma found out

Chapter Text

trust me, ik its super annoying when the author doesn't post an actual chapter, buuuuuuut, I like validation. So I had an idea, and I want to know if you guys want it as a story once I've finished one of my other already published works. Mmk?

 

So here,

 

Title: When House Becomes Home

 

Summary:

Takemichi moved into a new apartment building with his mother, where he first meets Chifuyu. A seemingly quiet kid who loves cats. Then he meets Keisuke , an eccentric, loud, violent kid…who also loves cats.

The three become good friends, a cute little trio who adore cats more than anything and made it their mission to look after all the stray cats in and around their building. 

However, peace is lost when Keisuke introduces two of his other friends to the trio, Manjirou and Kazutora.

 

AKA: they're all childhood friends that grow up together, jealously, confusion, love and cat loving pursues. 

 

Start of Chapter 1:

 

June 1st, 1997


The walls are off putting, not only in their relation to the colour white, but also in appearance. Either side is too close together, it’s suffocating, the paint is chipped and peeling, revealing a variety of brown stains. The floor creaks with each step, even under his small body, and sticks out randomly, making him stumble. The windows are dirty, the water pressure is weak, the rooms are small, the kitchen smells like burnt rubber; he hates it. He hates his new house, it’s not even a house, it’s an apartment, but it doesn’t feel like home, so he’ll call it the house.

Chapter Text

June 3rd, 2017

Takemichi was discharged from the hospital around 9pm, he hadn't uttered a word since his conversation with Haruchiyo at 6:30. Ran and Rindou were beyond worried, they had to leave the room at 8:45pm so the doctor could discuss things with Takemichi, when he walked out, they saw Takemichi with a solemn expression, his small hands fisting the sheets.

He had many missed calls and messages from people. Hina, trying to apologise and explain but at the same time say it was probably for the best. Emma sent voice memos off crying her eyes out and cursing him, begging to know more and why he hid it. Naoto was questioning where he was, Chifuyu had planned to drop by to grab some treats and found that the bakery was closed, so there were many messages from him which were accompanied by following ones from Kazutora and Baji.

He ignored them all. He wanted to ignore everything. He didn't want to feel, he didn't want to be felt, to be seen, to be heard. Emma knew. Now how long would it be before twenty people rock up at his house, shouting at him expecting an explanation. What's his excuse? 'Oh I didn't want anyone to worry about me' Well shit, they'd definitely be worried.

Ran and Rindou drove him home, they stopped pushing for more, he was grateful for that. But the constant glances in the rearview mirror displayed they still wanted to know. They walked him all the way to his apartment door, Takemichi didn't try to deny them, knowing it would be useless.

"Please eat and have a good rest Hanagaki-san," Ran urged, Rindou nodded beside him.

"Yeah, I definitely hate how that sounds, call me Takemichi." Takemichi replied, speaking for the first time in hours.

"But you're our boss," Rindou reasoned, he didn't want to make Takemichi uncomfortable.

"It's fine really, I prefer people using my first name anyway," he assured, looking in between the brothers before pulling them both into a side hug, "Thank you guys for being so helpful today. Pretty eventful first day, huh?"

Ran chuckled and patted his shoulder, "Definitely."

He pulled away from them, giving a goodbye smile, "I'll organise a roster, okay? So sometimes you can work alone with me, and other times, both of you will."

They nodded. He gave one last tired smile before walking into his apartment and closing the door behind him. His legs almost gave out, without the assistance of Ran and Rindou on either side of him. He leaned against the door, his chest tight, he waited, he waited until he heard their fleeting footsteps before he allowed himself to fall. He fell, and he sobbed, he cried, he didn't hold back, he didn't hold it in, he couldn't.

"Because of your inconsistency to take your medications, the cancerous cells have been multiplying at a much faster rate. Dr. Morisuke will discuss it with you further on Wednesday, but I'm sure he will tell you the same as I will now. You're in no condition to continue chemotherapy and radiation treatment, it's too much for your body. The best thing to do is just take your medications and let life decide. I advise you to begin your goodbyes if you haven't already."

For the first time since he received his diagnosis, he felt scared. He was terrified. He was going to die. He's known this for more than a year and a half, yet until today, it felt like a distant thing to worry about in the future. He's fucking terrified, and frustrated and depressed, why does dying suddenly feel so scary?

.

Hinata (Me): naoto can you check on him

Hinata (Me): emma found out because she answered my phone from the hospital

Hinata (Me): im so worried

Hinata (Me): hes not answering anyones messages or calls

Bro👮‍♂️: fuck, emma? She's a worrywart

Bro👮‍♂️: no offense to your lovely wife, but emma definitely seems like the type to freak

Bro👮‍♂️: i texted him and called him, i wanted to know where he was because he wasn't at the bakery or his apartment but he didn't answer

Bro👮‍♂️: im on my way back again

Hinata (Me): emmas right beside me sobbing, so yeah, id say shes the type to freak

Hinata (Me): ive just spent the last few hours trying to explain to her whats been going on the past year and a half

Hinata (Me): shes not taking it well

Bro👮‍♂️: im pulling up to his building now, ill let you know

Hinata (Me): ok thank you

Naoto tightens his grip on the bag in his hands, he brought dinner, even though it's late, Takemichi doesn't eat unless someone else makes him. He approached Takemichi's apartment, about to knock on the door when he realised he heard crying, on the inside. He pressed his ear to the door, it sounded like heart wrenching, gut twisting sobbing right on the other side of the door.

He whispered, not wanting to startle his pained friend, "Takemichi?"

The crying falters slightly before continuing, but the subtle click of the door unlocking was invitation enough.

 

 

 

 

little colouring by me, super rushed and now that i look it at, it looked way better on my phone than here

Chapter Text

June 4th, 2017

 

“You alright, honey?” Mrs Rika asked, she was an older woman, late fifties, always ordering the same thing. A single jam scone and a black coffee, a lovely lady, always leaving a hefty tip. 

“I’m okay Rika-san, I made the mistake of staying up late watching movies,” Takemichi brushed off with a chuckle as he gave her change. He cursed himself in his mind for not doing a better job of hiding his eyebags and puffiness with the bottle of concealer Hina gave him a few weeks ago.

 

He had cried in Naoto’s arms for the majority of the night before he forced himself to get over it and then spent a few hours making a bi-weekly roster for Ran and Rindou and sending them by email. Rindou would be working with him today, he wasn’t scheduled for him to start until 9 am though.

 

Naoto hadn’t even scolded him last night, which he appreciated, just held him. Perhaps that’s what he’s been missing for so long, someone just holding him as he cried. Naoto didn’t want him to come into work today, but he couldn’t really avoid it. Having the bakery closed two days a week plus also hiring two more people hadn’t exactly been planned into his budget. With how much he made with the bakery, it would normally be more than enough and he would also be able to do much needed renovations on top of that. But the treatments and medications he takes aren’t cheap. So everything the bakery made went into the hospital bills and electricity and water bills for the bakery and then rent for his apartment. Leaving pretty much nothing left. He supposed he would just have to split his personal pay between Ran and Rindou so that they can actually get paid for their work. 

 

When he woke up this morning, he went through the effort of responding to everyone’s messages. Except for Emma’s, he just couldn’t deal with that confrontation right now. He let Chifuyu, Kazutora and Baji know that he just felt a little unwell so he closed up early. He let the Haitanis and Haruchiyo know that he was okay and would be working today, as well as specifically for Haruchiyo saying he was still on for dinner tonight. 

 

“Heya Takemitchy!” There was only one person who pronounced his name that way and with such excitement.

“Good morning Mikey-kun,” Takemichi greeted before he had even turned around. Turning around though, did reveal that there was another person with him.

“Good morning Izana-kun, how much longer are you staying in Japan?”

“Just until Emma’s honeymoon ends, I want to spend some more time with her before I leave again. Kakucho is also paying respects at his parents’ grave. But for now, Shin’s making me spend more time with this bozo,” Izana replied, lazily pointing to his younger brother. 

“No, it’s Shin making me hang out with you, I’m awesome, who wouldn’t want to be around me?”

“No one loser.”

“How much longer is Shinichiro-san staying in Japan?”

“A few more months, he wants to try and make something of his and Takeomi’s relationship but I think it’s pointless, long distance doesn’t work for them.”

“But enough about my stinky brothers! How are you this fine morning, Takemitchy?” Mikey butted in, leaning forward on the counter top.

“I’m alright, just waiting for Rindou-kun so I can clean up a little out back.”

“Oh, so how is it working with the Haitani’s?” Izana asked, curious because from his past experience with them, they were pretty sadistic and only cared about each other.

“I mean, it’s only been a day, but they were really helpful when I felt sick yesterday-” Takemichi cut himself off, slapping a hand over his mouth. Fuck. Definitely not the right person to say that in front of.

“You were sick?! Mitchy why aren’t you in bed? Those bastards better not have done anything to you or I’ll-”

“Mikey-kun! It’s fine, and I’m fine. It was just a headache.” Yeah, that's what they call brain cancer nowadays, right?

“You sure?” Takemichi whipped his head in Izana’s direction, not expecting him to be the one to ask that question.

“Uh yeah, of course.”

“Well then Mitchy, I’ll get three strawberry and vanilla dorayaki. What do you want, Izana? I’ll pay.”

“Oh so gracious, but I’ll just get a cheese and bacon croissant.”

“Coming right up!”

 

.

 

“There’s something up with your little lover,” Izana mused before he bit into his croissant.

Mikey blushed at the name before rolling his eyes, “Don’t call him that. And he says he’s fine-”

“And you believe that? Look at how loose his clothes are, his eyes are puffy and red-”

“Takemitchy cries a lot-”

“Don’t interrupt me. He looks so damn tired that he might just drop any second and you’re telling me you’re not worried? I mean, look at how he acted at the wedding. He didn’t eat, he rushed to the bathroom to what I can only assume to be is throw up.”

“He…he threw up again when he took me to his hotel room after the party. I just thought it was because he was drunk.”

Izana’s eyes widened, “He took you to his room?”

“Uh yeah, nothing happened, I know what you’re thinking. He just cleaned me up after Baji attacked me with guac.” 

“Shame, you’re such a wimp y’know? Can’t even confess to the guy you’ve been in love with for years.”

“Hey! I- I have my reasons. It’s obvious Mitchy isn’t interested in me.”

“And it’s obvious that you’re a dumbass.”

Mikey perked up, “What do you mean? You can’t possibly mean that he likes me that way.”

“I hate heart to heart talk with you,” Izana grumbled, not planning on continuing the conversation further. But he allowed his eyes to wander over to the counter, where now Rindou stood beside a very sick looking Takemichi. Something was wrong, he knew it. 

Chapter Text

June 4th, 2017

 

Naoto approached his coworker who sat at the desk across from him. He was a junior detective, only 22, a little dense sometimes but he was like the little sunshine of the precinct. 

 

“Hey Watanabe.”

“Oh, Detective Tachibana! How are you?” He greeted excitedly, another thing, the kid was a major people pleaser.

“I’m good, I just need a favour.”

“Of course, anything!”

“Can you please search for all Hanagaki’s in Japan, specifically any that have resided here in Tokyo. Maybe just search Hanagaki Takemichi instead, and find all of his relatives.”

Detective Watanabe nodded slowly, “Can I ask what case this is for sir?”

“No case. A personal favour. I want to surprise a friend,” Naoto replied. 

“Okay, well Hanagaki Takemichi you said? Let me put that in…” a few clicks of a keyboard and Takemichi’s information came up.

“Alright, according to his birth certificate, his mother is Hanagaki Jun, and his father is Hanagaki Ito. Is that all you needed sir?”

“Can you now search their statuses and locations?”

“Hmm, oh…oh, Hanagaki Ito is currently in a small graveyard in Yokohama, he passed away from alcohol poisoning 12 years ago. Now Hanagaki Jun…oh it seems that she has changed her surname back to her maiden name, she is now Sato Jun and she lives on the outskirts of Tokyo in a small suburban neighbourhood. Would you like me to send her phone number and address, sir?”

“Yes please, thank you Watanabe.”

 

.

 

“Thank you for your work today Rindou-kun, you can head off.”

He went to undo his apron before stopping and looking back at his boss, “Are you sure Takemichi? I can stay behind and help you clean.”

“It’s fine, everything’s basically spotless already, it’s much easier to have more than just me working here. Besides, Haru-kun will be picking me up any minute now, kinda accidentally stood him up for our dinner last night,” Takemichi replied, chuckling to himself. 

Rindou nodded, “Alright, well I’ll see you Friday right, that’s my next shift?”

“Yep, also tell your brother to not come to work on Thursday in those platform shoes again, he’s freakishly tall enough.”

“Haha, got it boss, see you later,” Rindou waved goodbye but he couldn’t help but send one more concerned glance his way before walking out. 

 

It wasn’t long before he saw Haruchiyo’s surprisingly nervous figure at the front door, although Takemichi had long since forgotten about their troubles, he couldn’t help but still be in shock that he was about to have dinner with him. But at the same time, he was happy, Haruchiyo seemed like a whole new person and he really wished he could have known Akashi Haruchiyo before drugs. 

 

“Afternoon Haru-kun,” he greeted as he walked out, locking the door behind him.

“Hey Takemichi, um, you want to drop by your place right? To change?”

“Yeah if you don’t mind, I’m covered in flour and cookie batter.”

 

Haruchiyo had always been more on the quiet side, Takemichi had barely even heard him speak back in their Toman days, always silent by Mucho’s side. But the difference was back then, his silence was unnerving, but now it was surprisingly calming. 

 

Haruchiyo waited in the car while he went in and changed quickly, he eyed the beanie on his head. Haruchiyo was probably taking him to some nice place, a beanie definitely wouldn’t fit in with that. He hesitantly took it off, his chest tight at the clumps of hair that came with his, he quickly put it back on. 

 

.

 

“Haru-kun, this place must be so expensive, you really didn’t have to,” Takemichi explained in awe as he looked around the restaurant.

“It’s fine, you quite literally saved my life back then.” Haruchiyo said, teal eyes meeting his own as they sat down at their table.

 

February 24th, 2016

 

“Take-nii! I really have to study for an exam tomorrow, can we swap shifts?” Emi asked, she was a university student, and the only other worker at the bakery besides himself, which sometimes made it difficult, especially since their boss refused to actually work. 

“It’s all good Emi-chan, go get those degrees,” he joked, grabbing his work uniform out of the dryer. 

“Thank you so much, you’re my saviour. When I’m a doctor, I’ll give you free healthcare!” 

“Don’t think that’s legal but sure, and thanks for actually giving me a heads up this time rather than calling me at 9 am when your shift had already started like last time.”

“Med school is literally frying my brain right now.  I have no idea how you did both university and working at the bakery with that stingy bastard at the same time. But the old ladies much prefer you anyway, I’m pretty sure they’ve actually sent me glares behind my back because they think we’re dating!”

“I don’t even know how they think that, old ladies really do get possessive.”

“And it’s so funny because I’m literally aromantic and you’re like my big brother.”

“Gross, I’d never want you as my little sister.”

“Hey!”

“I’m kidding, I’m kidding….maybe. But i’ll leave you to do your ‘study’.”

“Why did that sound condescending?”

“Hm? I have no idea what you’re talking about, gotta go!”

 

Takemichi sighed once he hung up, Emi really was like a little sister to him, he’s been working at the bakery part time since he was 16, and now he’s 24, turning 25 this year. Emi is a second year med student, 19 years old and not the brightest spark despite being so intelligent when it comes to academics. Emi started working at the bakery when she was 15 and quickly became good friends with him. She was witty, energetic and had a dark sense of humor that probably added to why the old ladies didn’t like her very much. 

 

.

 

It was a slow day, but he didn’t mind. He’s been having some really bad headaches lately and no matter how much ibuprofen or Advil or literally any painkillers he takes, the pain never ceases. He went to greet the next customer in line when he realised it was a friend.

 

“Pah-chin-kun! How are you?”

“Takemichi, I’m good. I didn’t think you were working today.” He replied, looking at his watch to double check the date.

“Emi-chan and I swapped shifts. How’s the company going?”

“Great, this time of the year is when the market is the most busy. Let me know if you want an apartment upgrade.”
“I can’t afford that but I appreciated the offer. How’s Yumi doing?”

“Anxious about the wedding venue, the owners won’t give us a definite answer whether or not we can use it,” Pah-chin grumbled, he hated people like that and he dealt with many in his job. 

“Just send Peh-yan-kun their way and they’ll agree in no time!”

“Great idea, now I’ll take a slice of pumpkin pie and ooh some….

 

.

 

‘Okay, just need to take the rubbish out back and then I can leave.’ He cleaned his hands of the sticky sweet syrup and gathered several black rubbish bags in his hands before heading out the back door into the alleyway. He put everything in the bin but just as he was about to go back inside he heard pained grunts and huffs. It sounded like someone or an animal was hurt. 

 

He poked his head around the corner, to the darker part of the alley where no streetlights reached. The sound was louder.

 

“Hello? 

 

There was no verbal reply but the grunts continued and he grew more worried. He moved further into the darkness, grazing his fingertips along the coarse brick wall to guide him down. 

 

“Are you hurt?”

 

The sounds grew louder and he winced at the heart wrenching pain expressed through them. He fished his phone out of his pocket and turned it’s torch on, his breath catching in his throat at the sight. Someone on the ground, half propped up against the wall, eyes barely open, vomit scattered all over their clothes. Shit. He rushed towards them, cursing the winter months for making it so dark at only 5pm. But going closer and dropping by their side made him realise he knew who it was. Those scars around the lips, eyes almost identical to Senju’s…

 

“Sanzu-kun?! Are you okay?!”

 

.

 

Haruchiyo had been very reluctant at first to receive help, but in his weakened state he couldn’t fight back as Takemichi dragged him into the bakery. He had recalled some of the things Emi had told him and he recognised the signs and realised Sanzu had overdosed. So he bent him over the sink and made him throw up a few more times before cleaning him up and making him drink a lot of water and eat sugary things to get his blood sugar back up. Takemichi didn’t want to think about what could have happened if he hadn’t found Haruchiyo when he did. 

 

Takemichi couldn’t help but think of Emi as he reminisced, how long had it been since he last spoke to her? She ended up moving to the other side of Japan for an internship a couple of months into him taking ownership of the bakery. They had texted and called each other a lot at first, but he supposed with her being in med school and him taking ownership and oh, well, dying from cancer, they hadn’t gotten in contact. (im sorry i think its so funny to write shit like that)

 

But at the thought of Emi, another memory came to mind.

 

.



August, 2016

 

“Take-nii.”

“Yeah?”

“Would you, it’s probably an inconvenience but…would you be there when I graduated? You’re really like my only family and it would mean a lot to have you there,” Emi asked tentatively. 

Takemichi raised an eyebrow in dramatic disbelief, “Emi-chan! How could you even think I would miss it?”

Emi giggled and rolled her eyes, “No but seriously, I’d love to have my big brother there.”

“I don’t remember adopting you,” he teased.

“You did the first shift we worked together, it was an unwritten but totally official agreement!”

“Of course, totally official. But don’t worry, I promise I’ll be there.”

 

He felt bad for lying, a few months back he got his terminal diagnosis. Emi was only in her second year, medical school takes a long time.

 

.

 

“You really need to learn how to take help when someone offers it though, you nearly punched me in the face!” Takemichi exclaimed.

“I know and I can never thank you enough for that night even if I acted like a dick at the time. I’m so grateful,” Haruchiyo replied sincerely. 



The dinner really had been great, Haruchiyo constantly checking in on him making sure he was okay and comfortable. The food was bearable enough that he could finish most of his plate without the need to throw up, he did avoid alcohol and so did Haruchiyo saying it was a part of his recovery. 

 

“Takemichi, I want to ask you something.”

“Go ahead.”

“Well, you’re a very social person and I just want some advice, I guess? Because of my drug use, Mucho and I had a falling out a couple years back. Now that I’m sober and in recovery, I really want to repair our friendship. I mean, when I wasn’t with my family, he was like a big brother to me,” he explained, his eyes teary. 

Takemichi reached over and held his hand in his own, offering a reassuring smile, “I didn’t know Mucho-kun very well but he seemed like a really understanding and mature guy. Reach out to him and arrange a dinner like this and just talk like you’ve done with me. Trust me, I used to be terrified of you when we were younger and now look at us. Substances can really affect a person entirely, and I can tell how much of a good person you are now.”

Haruchiyo nodded, tears gathering in his eyes, “Thank you Takemichi.”

“You’re welcome. Forgiveness is really important for recovery, I’ve forgiven you and I hope Mucho-kun can too.”

 

Takemichi was going to mention his alcoholic mother so he could show Haruchiyo that he really understood. But how could he really, he left his mother a note saying he forgave her and then never saw or spoke to her again. It’s been ten years and he still doesn’t think he’s ready to face her.

 

.

 

June 5th, 2017

 

Mikey looked around Draken and Inui’s apartment, it’s been a while since he’s been here. Mikey usually lived in the Sano House that used to be his grandfathers and the one he grew up in. But since both of his brothers were staying there for the time being, Draken suggested he could spend the night at his apartment. Drink some beers, watch movies and relax like when they were teenagers. And he here was, when he was younger, he thought him and Draken would hang out on the daily even when they were adults. But adulthood really is different to what he thought, no riding motorbikes without helmets at midnight, no sitting by the river at sunset with a dorayaki in hand. He could obviously do those things if he wanted, but all of his friends are so busy, and himself too. 

 

“Mikey, you wanna a beer?” Inui asked, pulling him out of his thoughts.

“Yeah, uh where’s Ken-chin? He just disappeared.”

“Phone call, clients are oblivious to our business hours,” he replied, grabbing two beers from the small drinks fridge by the couch. 

“Mn, so are you and Ken-chin a thing yet?”

Inui was glad he hadn’t taken a sip of his beer yet because he was sure it would have been sprayed everywhere, “You really are blunt Mikey.”

“Says you, when Kokonoi used to describe you, he said two words, ‘loyal and blunt’.”

Inui rolled his eyes and sighed, “I don’t know really, I mean to the outside we look every bit the couple. We’ve lived together since we were 20 and 21, and owned the bike shop together since 17 and 18. He calls me Seishu even, no one else does. We’ve been more than friends for years but it’s only recently when he’s actually tried other things.”

“Why did you try anything?” Mikey asked.

Inui raised an eyebrow at him, “Says you,” he repeated Mikey’s earlier words, “you’re the last person I want to hear say that. You’ve liked Takemichi for 12 years and you haven’t initiated anything.”

“Leave me alone, it’s different. I don’t even know if he likes boys, he dated Hinata-chan in middle school and no one ever since. I mean he said he and that Makoto guy fucked but-”

“Makoto?! Really? I mean he is much hotter now than when we were teenagers but still. But anyway, how the hell do you think he doesn’t like boys when he told you that he had sex with another guy?” Inui quizzed. 

“He said it happened once and he never wanted to do it again,” Mikey replied. 

“No offense, but how the hell do you not know his sexuality? He told me he was pansexual like seven years ago. I thought you two were like besties.”

“Takemitchy is ‘like besties’ with everyone he meets,” he grumbled sadly. “Anyway, when did this become about me?! I was questioning you and Ken-chin!”

“Fine, I never initiated anything because I don’t want to be hurt. I initiated with Koko because I was an idiot and thought he actually liked me but he still saw me as my dead sister.”

“Wait, so that’s why you and Koko didn’t talk for months?”

“Yeah, I confronted him and told him he needs help, that was what, seven months ago. In that time I got a lot closer with Ken and-”

“Mikey, stop quizzing Seishu. Let’s watch a movie,” Draken said as he walked into the room, pocketing his phone.



It didn’t take long for Mikey to fall asleep.

...

He's falling

He's falling and all he can see is the moon growing smaller as he neared the ground

He's falling but he never hits the ground

He's falling but something grabs him

He's falling and-no 

He's dangling

He's dangling and all he can see is blue

He's dangling yet all he can see is the blue that captivated his heart and-no

He's dangling but there is something wrong with the blue, that's not the blue he fell in love with

He's dangling and the blue is dull- sad

He's dangling and the blue is so so sad

"Manjirou." the blue whispers

"Takemitchy!?"

He's dangling and Takemichi is holding onto him, smiling so tiredly

He's dangling but Takemichi saved him, just like he always said he would

"Takemitchy! Pull me up please, I'm going to fall!"

He's dangling and Takemichi nods slowly, hoisting him up by their connected hands

He's on a solid base, he wants to hug Takemichi

He's on a solid base but Takemichi is falling

Takemichi's falling out of the window, plummeting towards the ground.

"Takemitchy!" he screeches but it's too late

Takemichi's on a solid base, blood is pooling beneath him

 

Before he can scream, he's falling

He's falling once more and all he can see is the moon growing smaller

He's falling but he never hits the ground

He's dangling, Takemichi caught him once more

He's dangling and all he can see is sad tired blue

"Takemitchy, please! Don't fall!"

He's dangling and Takemichi's smiles emptily at him

He's on a solid base and Takemichi is falling

He's on a solid base and no matter how quick he is, he can't catch Takemichi

Takemichi's falling, plummeting towards the ground

"No!"

Takemichi's on a solid base, blood is pooling beneath him

 

He's falling

He's falling and he wants to

He's falling and he can't let Takemichi catch him

He's dangling, he can't stop it

He's dangling, Takemichi caught him again

He's dangling and he cries

He's dangling and he tries to wrench his arm from Takemichi's grip

He's dangling and Takemichi smiles at him

He's dangling and he hates that smile

He's dangling and he looks at Takemichi's hand around his wrist, he had always been much paler than Takemichi

He's dangling and why is Takemichi's hand so pale compared to him

He's dangling and Takemichi is pulling him up again

"Takemitchy, let me fall!" because if he falls, Takemichi won't

He's on a solid base and Takemichi shakes his head

He's on a solid base and Takemichi is falling

Takemichi's falling and he's plummeting towards the ground-

...

June 6th, 2017

"Mikey! Wake up!" Draken shakes him, yanking him out of his nightmare. Tears stain his cheeks and he's sobbing. Draken hasn't seen him like this since his grandfathers death bed.

"Mitchy! Ken-chin, I need to see Mitchy!" Mikey heaves, Draken sends a concerned glance to Inui by his side.

"It's 2am Mikey..."

"I need to see Takemitchy now!"

Chapter Text

June 6th, 2017

1:30 am

 

Takemichi had been off lately, Hanma had noticed. He knew this evening would be different to the other ones they had shared. How did he know? Because Takemichi had called him, Takemichi never called. He always texted. 

 

“Hanagaki?” Hanma asked, making sure he had read the contact that called him right. 

“Fuck just call me Takemichi, we close enough for that aren’t we?” Takemichi’s voice was tight, forced, like he had just swallowed a sob. 

“Takemichi…well you can call me Shuji then. But, is everything okay? You never call.”

“N-no I- fuck, I’m so fucked up Shuji. I’m a horrible person, I’m weak, I’m pathetic, I’m a coward-”

“Hey! Don’t say such things, you are none of those thing-”
“Oh but I am, you know nothing. Nobody knows anything! But I’m too much of a fucking idiot, I’m so selfish that I don’t want to tell anyone.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Nothing Shuji, come over, I need you.”

 

Takemichi didn’t answer the door when he knocked, but it was unlocked so he tentatively entered. He heard quiet sobs coming from the bathroom, his heart clenched at the sight. He was filled with worry, Takemichi was on the ground, arms wrapped around his knees as he sobbed into them. His hair was a mess, he was only in a short sleeved shirt that went to his thighs, leaving his extremely skinny arms and legs exposed. There was a half empty bottle of what he assumed to be alcohol laying on the floor beside him, cap barely screwed on. 

 

“Takemichi?” He crouched down in front of him and cupped the sides of his face, lifting his head. Dark circles surrounded his dull blue eyes, his lips were peeling and venturing dangerously close to looking purple, his nose and cheekbones were so defined due to the extreme lack of fat. He looked like a corpse and that terrified Hanma, no, Takemichi couldn’t leave him. He would have no one. 

 

Takemichi suddenly jumped into his lap, his mouth on his neck. Hanma pressed his hands against Takemichi’s waist, grimacing at the thinness. No, he couldn’t. He would hurt Takemichi.

 

“No, we’re-we’re not having sex Takemichi. You’re clearly unwell,” Hanma said, pulling Takemichi away from his neck. His eyes filled with more tears and Hanma wiped them away.

“So-so now I’m not even good enough to fuck? I’m fucking failing everybody,” he forced out through snotty sobs. 

“Hey, that’s not it. You’re not failing anybody. But you’re clearly in no condition to be having sex.”

“We-we could go gentle,” Takemichi offered.

“No. It’s not happening. Honestly, I should have started saying no a few months ago, you’ve been losing weight, clearly you’re not sleeping enough and-”

“Stop! I don’t need your fucking lecture, I’m already hearing it from Naoto all the time, fuck! Why can’t anyone just give me what I want?”

 

There was definitely something off with Takemichi. For one, he never swore this much consecutively, two, he kept saying strange things like he was a coward and he was failing everybody and nobody knew anything about him. 

 

And there in fact, was something off with Takemichi. The reason in the first place was why he looked like shit but also the reason for the half empty bottle of straight vodka (which he had intended to fully finish). Today (well, it’s now yesterday he supposed) at his appointment (which he had alone since Hina was still on her honeymoon and he didn’t tell Naoto about it) that his original six more months to live had been shortened to a maximum of four months after his last test results came in. The doctor gave him a similar speech, ‘start saying your goodbyes’, how could he do that when they had no idea? Oh yeah, because he was a coward. He was about three weeks away from turning 26, and in a few months, he would be dead. 

 

Takemichi felt Hanma’s arms under his pits, helping him stand by pulling him up. His legs didn’t want to cooperate, or perhaps it was just him who didn’t want to. He didn’t really know what he wanted, well maybe one thing.

 

He wanted to stop being. 

 

He didn’t know if he actually wanted to have sex with Hanma. Maybe he just wanted one last rush of adrenaline because after this point, his body might just give out if they did it then. He just wanted to be distracted, to have anything take his mind off his pathetic life. 

 

He was so deep in his thoughts that he hadn’t realised Hanma had carried him to the living room and was now setting him down on the couch. 

 

“I’ll go make you some ramen,” he murmured, pulling away. Takemichi latched onto his arm, keeping him next to him on the couch.

“Please…Shuji, this-this will be the last time,” he pleaded.

 

‘What?’ Hanma didn’t say it aloud but he was sure his shocked (and pained) expression gave it away. So, not even Takemichi wanted him anymore. No, he wasn’t going to fucking cry, not when Takemichi is clearly troubled. Takemichi definitely doesn’t look like in any shape to be doing that but…this would be the last time. He could go slow, he could be gentle, he could make it the most memorable one of all. He could make love to Takemichi. 

 

Future Hanma was beating his ass right now for what he said next.

 

“Okay.”

 

Takemichi pounced on him again, he never kissed his lips- they didn’t do that, Hanma’s neck, collarbone, jaw- they were all under attack. Takemichi was never like this, he rarely initiated their physical contact, but right now, everything was out of mind. 

 

Takemichi wanted- no needed to forget. He poured every test result, every appointment, every pitying look, every needle, every hour of pain into each kiss against Hanma’s skin. He needed to get rid of it all. And Hanma, he couldn’t refuse Takemichi. He couldn’t, he should, he should stop now. But he ignores the voice screaming in his head to stop as he begins to unbuckle his pants. Takemichi stops momentarily, looking down at Hanma with wet red lips, breathing heavily.

 

“Smoke…I wanna smoke,” he heaved, hands moving down and feeling Hanma’s pockets for cigarettes. 

“I-I don’t think that’s a good idea Take-”

“I need to Shuji,” he hiccups, tears streaming down his face and Hanma stops, pulling his hands away from his belt, “I need to be distracted, distract me Shuji…please.”

 

Hanma squeezed his eyes shut, he couldn’t. He couldn’t give in, Takemichi was sick, he was in pain. He couldn’t let his feelings for Takemichi prevent him from taking note of that. No matter how much Takemichi was teasing him. He shakes his head and moves Takemichi off his lap and onto the couch beside him. He finally opens his eyes,

 

“I can’t Takemichi. You-”

“Why can’t anyone just give me what I want? You won’t fuck me so just give me a smoke for fuck sake!” Takemichi exclaimed, fat tears and suppressed sobs shaking his frail body. His hands reached for Hanma’s pockets once more but Hanma stopped him.

“Takemichi, please just tell me what’s going on! I want to help you.”

“Nobody can help me,” he whispered.

 

They were so engrossed in their conversation they didn’t hear the doorknob turn. 

 

.

 

“Mikey! We can’t just show up 2:30 in the goddamn morning!” Draken exclaimed, trying to keep up with Mikey as he ran up the stairs to Takemichi’s apartment after realising the elevators weren’t open at this hour. 

“You didn’t have to come,” Mikey brushed up, quickening his pace. 

“There was no way I was letting you drive your bike in this state. Is this about your nightmare? Surely you could have seen him later in the day!”

“Something’s wrong with Mitchy, you’re an idiot if you have noticed.”

“Of course I’ve noticed, everyone has but you know the dumbass refuses to tell us anything.”

 

They finally reached Takemichi’s floor and Mikey ran towards his apartment, hand already on the doorknob.

 

“Mikey you can’t just burst in-” He opened the door and abruptly stopped at the doorway. When Draken finally reached him and saw what Mikey opened the door to, he also stilled. 

 

Right in front of them, Hanma Shuji of all fucking people was on Takemichi’s couch. And Takemichi himself? Right next to him, hands clasped in Hanma’s own. Draken couldn’t even wrap his head around the sight in front of him. Hanma and Takemichi finally took notice of their sudden intrusion, Hanma quickly rushing to buckle up his pants which Draken had only just realised was undone. 

 

Takemichi wiped the tears on his face, eyes wide as he looked between Draken and Mikey. He tried to speak but nothing came out. Draken looked down at Mikey and noticed how bad this must be for Mikey. What they walked into was obvious, right? Hanma’s disheveled hair, hickies on his neck, belt unbuckled, Takemichi only in an oversized shirt, lips red and wet. It wouldn’t be easy to see the person you’ve been in love with for more than ten years in such a situation. But what Draken just couldn’t understand, Hanma? How the fuck is Hanagaki Takemichi in this kind of situation with Hanma Shuji?

 

“Mi-Mikey-kun,” Takemichi started but Mikey just scoffed.

“I can’t fucking believe you,” before he stormed out, leaving Draken standing there with one person he greatly cared about and another in which he greatly despised. 

“Takemichi, I think…I’m gonna leave,” Hanma said quietly, very obviously avoiding Draken’s gaze.

“That's the best Shuji. I’m sorry for calling,” Takemichi whispered, eyes towards the ground. 

 

Draken watches silently as Hanma gathers himself before walking past him, their sides brushing. He can’t help but notice how they address eachother by first names, how well did they know each other? Once Hanma is well and truly gone, Draken says the first thing on his mind.

 

“Fucking Hanma Shuji, Takemitchy?”

“I don’t want your judgment, I’m an adult, I can spend my time with whoever I want,” Takemichi snapped, Draken had never heard Takemichi talk like that. 

 

He clicked his tongue and closed the door, walking closer to Takemichi. He needed answers. 

 

“We need to talk, Mikey came here at 2 o’clock in the morning because he had a nightmare and was so fucking worried about you. And he has every right to be, you’ve been so off lately. Has Hanma done anything to you?”

“Hanma is a good guy, everyone needs to stop living in the past. And I’m fine -”

“I hate those goddamn words leaving your mouth Takemitchy because I know damn well they’re not true. Please, Mikey’s not the only one. I care about you a lot, you’re my friend and I need to know what is going on with you,” Draken begged, he had never begged before. But he needed to know what was wrong with his friend.

 

Takemichi breathed in, and then out shakily, it sounded like his whole body rattled along with it. He felt so defeated. This burden on his chest, on his life, was draining him. He can’t keep it a secret from everyone much longer, Emma already knows and Draken…Draken is here begging him. What harm is there in telling someone? He realised that he has never once told anyone about his condition, Naoto and Hina found out alongside him and Emma found out through Hina. But he never once told someone himself. Maybe it would make him feel better? Maybe it would take this weight off his chest and he could finally breathe again.

 

“Sit down,” he whispered, gently patting the couch beside him. 

 

 

 

 

.

 

Here are some meme I made because i was bored, hope you enjoyed the chapter

Chapter Text

June 6th, 2017

3am

 

They sat in silence. Draken was waiting for an answer. Takemichi was waiting for the courage. Draken could smell the alcohol on Takemichi’s breath. Takemichi wasn’t one to drink for the sake of it, he only ever did it at events or parties. He felt like he barely even knew the person sitting across from him, how much was Takemichi hiding?

 

“I…I want to start by saying that Shuji and I are not together,” he said, avoiding Draken’s gaze, keeping his own eyes on his fidgeting hands in his lap, “we just slept together occasionally.”

“How? How did you even choose Hanma for something like that?”

“Shuji never did anything to me, he was just by Kisaki’s side back then. We met about a year and a half back, I asked him for a smoke and somehow we ended up having sex pretty much every time we met up to smoke in the future,” Takemichi supposed if he was going to tell Draken about his cancer, he might as well tell him everything else that happened in the past year.

“You smoke?” Draken asked, flabbergasted. Takemichi nodded silently in response.

“Shuji was just an escape for me, we’re two people who don’t have feelings for each other. It was just easy I suppose, when I wanted to be distracted, if I had a bad day, I’d text him for smokes. Smokes almost always led to sex.”

“So you don’t like him that way?”

“No.” He said firmly. “I know what you want to know, Draken-kun, you’re asking for Mikey-kun.”

“Do…do you like Mikey that way?”

“More than you could ever know.” He did it. Never once had he allowed himself to express his feelings for Mikey out loud. And god did it feel good to finally say it. But-

“However, for reasons I’m about to tell you. You’ll understand why Mikey-kun can’t know about my mutual feelings for him.”

 

Honestly, Draken always had a feeling that Takemichi liked Mikey back, he just never understood why he didn’t say anything. Other than sleeping with Hanma recently, Takemichi wasn’t in any relationship that would stop him from confessing. Same for Mikey.

 

“Draken-kun…what I’m about to tell you…please don’t be mad.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Takemichi sighed, finally turning to meet Draken’s eyes, “I-I can’t be with Mikey-kun, or anyone because…because I-” why was it so hard to say it? He just needed to push those words out, he couldn’t delay the inevitable any longer, “I have cancer.”

 

The silence was deafening, Takemichi could feel the blood pounding in his ears, hear his heart race, hear the way his lungs contracted. Draken’s eyes, they were black endless pools, but unlike Mikey’s, they always held this sense of ease, like gentle waves at night. Now, they were sharp, the waves no longer gently crashing into one another, but rather complete stillness, like a frozen lake that was so thin you wouldn’t dare go near without the fear of falling through into the freezing waters. 

 

“Cancer…” his voice was dry, he didn’t know what else to say. He didn’t know how to feel in response to that word. “How…how long? How long have you known?”

Takemichi swallowed audibly, “I found out around the start of last year,” he whispered.

 

Draken was trying his best, he really was, to stay calm. But how could he? How could he after finding out that one of his best friends has hid the fact that he’s had cancer for a year and a half? But he also hated himself for not questioning Takemichi sooner. His rapid weight loss, refusing to eat, the discolouration of his skin, something almost always covering his hair these recent months. Closing the bakery randomly which he assumed must have been for appointments.

 

“What kind?”

“A tumour in my brain turned cancerous.”

“Well I would have realised if you had fucking brain sugery already, so when are you getting it removed?”

 

Takemichi was quiet once more. Draken awaited an answer. Takemichi didn’t want to give it.

 

“Draken-kun…”

“Spit it out Takemitchy, there’s no point hiding anything from me now that I know… this .”

“I’m not having surgery.”

“Well then is there treatment that you’ve been taking that kills it? What’s it called again, chemotherapy? Radiation?”

 

He squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head, yet tears still escaped from his eyelids.

 

“I’m terminal Draken-kun, I-I found out too late. I’m dying .”

 

Takemichi flinched when Draken slammed his hands on the coffee table.

 

“The fuck you mean you’re dying? You-fuck…you can’t be…”

“I was ignorant of the signs, I just brushed off my pain as regular headaches. I ended up fainting and when I woke up in hospital they ran tests and I found out. The tumour had been growing in my brain for about seven months and by that point, it was so large and interlaced with my brain that surgery to remove it was a death wish. The treatments I’ve been taking since then can’t kill the cells, all they do is slow them down. But they can’t slow down the inevitable.”

 

Each word felt like an acid hand squeezing Draken’s heart. He couldn’t look at Takemichi. How could he look at his friend knowing he’s been suffering for so long and will soon die?

 

“I only have a few month-” Draken put his hand over Takemichi’s mouth and shook his head. He couldn’t stand the idea.

“I don’t want to know when you’re going to die Takemitchy-fuck I…I can’t comprehend this.”

“Draken-kun, I want you to know that I never intended to hurt anyone. I’ve been telling myself that I will tell everyone for months but I keep backing out. Because of the way you’re looking at me right now, I can’t stand to see such an expression.”

“How were you planning on telling everyone then?! An invitation to your fucking funeral?” 

“Calm down…please-”

“Can you seriously expect me to be calm Takemitchy?! Like seriously? I just found out one of my best friends is dying of an incurable disease and you want me to be calm about it?” Draken looked at him incredulously, his chest unbelievably tight.

“The walls are thin,” Takemichi whispered in response. It was 3 o’clock on a Thursday morning. 

“Why? Why hide it?”

“I hate people fussing over me, feeling sorry for me. I just wanted to spend my last moments with everyone treating me like they normally do instead of treating me like I’m fragile. I guess I was being selfish more than anything, I told myself I was doing it to not hurt everyone else but really it was just for myself.”

“Does anyone else know?”

He nodded, “Naoto and Hina, they’ve known since the beginning because they were there when I fainted. And…Emma-chan found out a few days ago, apparently she answered Hina’s phone and found out and then questioned her. Besides them, no one knows, except now you too.”

“Emma? How are you even still alive? I’m sure she would have screamed your ears off through the phone.”

“I’ve been ignoring her calls,” he admitted sheepishly. 

 

Draken sighed heavily, he just let everything Takemichi just told him circle around his mind, it was a lot to take in. He was angry, really angry more so in the fact that the universe was going to take away his friend than the fact that Takemichi hid it. 

 

“I…I understand. I get why you hid it. Fuck Takemitchy I just, I’m just trying to wrap my head around this.”

“Draken-kun…can you…can you promise me you won’t treat me any differently? And that you won’t tell anybody?”

“I won’t treat you differently…and telling others about your cancer isn’t my right. But can you please tell them soon? I’ll be by your side. Shit…how can I keep this from Seishu?” Draken held his head in his hands, Inui adored Takemichi, it would break him to hear the news. 

“I really appreciate it, Draken-kun…um…well we both have work later so I guess you should get going. Um, why did you and Mikey-kun burst into my apartment at 2:30 in the morning?”

"He had a nightmare, I'm assuming you were in it. He felt the need to see you straight away. How are you going to explain Hanma to him? He's really hurt."

"I don't even know. He'll know that I lied to him at the wedding after party. He asked who I slept with and I said Makoto...Makoto doesn't even have a motorcycle."

Draken put his hand on his shoulder, "I think you need to have a talk with him like you've done with me. Whether you tell him about your cancer as well is up to you, but he deserves to know...do you love him? Mikey?"

"I do. I've never let myself even think it before but I do. I love him so much Draken-kun."

 

 

.

 

lol that was an emotional wreck

 

and here is Emi, she will be a more recurring character in the future so I thought you should have an idea of what she looks like (why did i make her so pretty?)

Chapter Text

the story idea I posted about a little while ago seemed to be very well liked so I've written the first chapter and published it. If you'd like, please go check it out on my account. It's called 'When House Becomes Home'. Updates will be a little slow for it at first since I'm focusing on finishing my three main stories first.

Chapter Text

June 6th, 2017

 

Draken had dropped by the bakery three times already. ‘Won’t treat you differently’ well that was bullshit. And the guy didn’t even buy anything the last two times, just sat at a small table near the counter and looked over at him every so often. Anyone other than Takemichi who saw that would definitely think that Draken was stalking him. Ran certainly did, and the giant bastard even still wore platform shoes.

 

“So is he like in love with you or something?” Ran asked, he was supposed to be cleaning out the espresso machine while Takemichi was serving customers, but it was painfully obvious because Draken was sitting only 3 metres away. 

 

“Oh Draken-kun?” Takemichi laughed aloud just at the thought, “No way, he uh, just found out I went to the hospital the other day and is being overly worried. Just like I told you, my friends are really overbearing.”

“Ok, well are you feeling better? You look overly tired today.”

 

Maybe because I was having a mental breakdown until 1 am and then got confronted while I was with someone I really didn’t want anyone to find out about. Oh yeah, now Mikey probably hates me and Draken knows I have cancer, so I’m feeling just peachy.

 

“Had a movie night with a friend.”

 

.

 

“Draken-kun,” Takemichi crossed his arms and raised an eyebrow at his friend who had showed up once again at the end of the day. “Don’t you have a job you should be at instead of checking up on me every hour?”

“Seishu can handle it. Just wanted to make sure you’re alright,” Draken replied nonchalantly as if he hadn’t been acting like some creepy stalker all day. 

“You promised you wouldn’t treat me differently,” he huffed, “you showed up at my store four times, not even buying shit, that’s being different.”

 

Draken sighed, he had gone a little overboard hadn’t he? Seishu had certainly given him strange looks because he kept leaving but didn’t question it. He assumed Draken might have been trying to contact Mikey, because the latter didn’t come home with Draken that morning. But his mind had constantly been reeling ever since Takemichi told him he had cancer. It still didn’t feel real. But now his thoughts were filled with, at any moment Takemichi was just gonna drop dead. 

 

“Sorry Takemitchy, I’m just worried y’know?”

“I get that, but it’s raising questions. Just shoot me a text or something, I really just want to live my life as normally as possible for as long as I can.”

 

Draken didn’t want to know how ‘long’ that would be. 

 

.

 

Mikey unclasped his hands yet he didn’t raise his head. He stayed there, on his knees in front of his grandfather's shrine. He was heartbroken. He had never felt it before. He had felt jealous whenever he saw how close Takemichi was with others, but this empty feeling in his chest, like a black hole sucking everything out of him, it was terrible. 

 

He did the thing he had dreamed about, he drove around Tokyo until the sun rose without a helmet. He didn’t want to stop, because stopping that adrenaline would take his mind back to what he saw in Takemichi’s apartment, who he saw. 

 

And now, as he had been for the past hour or so, was at Sano Sasaki’s shrine. He was trying to find the words, but he hadn’t uttered a sound since he spat those words at Takemichi early that morning. Grandpa Sano was probably looking down at him, disappointed, wishing he could grab Mikey by the scruff of the ear and drag him to Takemichi to apologise. He technically had no right to say that to Takemichi, they weren’t together, they never have been and…and they never will be, he realised now. He always had hope. Hope that Takemichi would see him, hold him, love him. 

 

How long had Takemichi and Hanma been fucking? Years? He scowled at the thought. Was Hanma always the reason Takemichi never looked his way? He just couldn’t imagine the thought. Takemichi should hate Hanma. Takemichi and eventually Hina had been the main brunts of Kisaki’s hateful actions back when they were in school, and with Kisaki, was always Hanma. 

 

Or were Takemichi and Hanma more than that, more than just sleeping together? Or was Takemichi just incapable of loving anyone romantically and Hanma just happened to be the closest person around when he had adult needs to fill? Why couldn’t that be him? He would have settled to just be a sex partner to Takemichi because at least then, he could still be by his side. 

 

He was a coward, he idolised Takemichi, he loved Takemichi more than he could even comprehend. He told waiters straight to their face if he didn’t like the food or the service, he disobeyed his grandfather countless times, he rejected others without remorse, he boldly declared what he thought of others and yet…and yet he was too afraid to confess to the boy he’s been in love with for more than a decade. And look at where that cowardice got him? His face was shoved into the fact that he and Takemichi would never be together. And after what he said, who knows if he’ll even have him as just a friend anymore. 

 

.

 

Takemichi eyed the tobacconist store on his way home, right now, just spending the entire evening smoking, maybe binge watching a TV series sounds like a pretty good way to spend his time. But pretty soon that idea makes his chest feel tight and tears brim in the corners of his eyes. He should apologise to Hanma, he really did care for him as a friend. And Mikey…the look on his face when he saw him with Hanma, he would never be able to forget it. Draken was right, he should talk to Mikey, but how could he? Just imagining his reaction, the way his face would fall and his jaw would tighten, it made him feel sick. 

 

But to take his mind off it, he decided he should call the Sano that already knows.

 

“Hey Emma-chan.”

“Takemichi-kun! You have no idea how worried I’ve been, how could…

 

Rather than smoking and binge watching, spending hours on the phone crying with Emma was how he spent his evening. 

Chapter Text

June 10th, 2017

 

Takemichi had spent the end of the previous week mostly keeping to himself. He exchanged messages and calls with Draken and Emma frequently as they were worried about him, even more so than the Tachibana’s had been at the beginning. Mikey would always swing by constantly whenever he was in town and yet he didn’t visit or even text 50 times a day with memes that were very obviously a flirting tactic that he would play oblivious to. He could understand why, he knew Mikey was in love with him. Usually knowing someone was in love with you would be an ego booster, but rather it depressed him because he knew he couldn’t make Mikey happy. He wanted to, he wanted to make Mikey happy more than anything, way more than his own happiness.

 

But fate was a cunt.

 

And so were shitty customers because of course something he wants to see on a Monday morning is the Haitani brothers seconds away from beating the shit out of an annoying customer. 

 

“We’ve told you, we don’t sell entire cakes, only slices,” Ran seethed.

“Well then just give me a cake and pretend it had been sliced eight times or something!”

“That’s not how it works,” Rindou snapped. 

“I want to speak to your manager! This is unbelievable.”

“What’s unbelievable is your atti-”

“Ran-kun, I believe I’ve told you how to speak with customers,” Takemichi gently butted in, swinging the rag over his shoulder before walking over to the situation. 

“Ah, I’m sorry Takemichi but this guy just won’t listen to us.”

Takemichi sighed, exhausted before turning to the annoying customer and forcing a tight smile, “Hello sir, I’m the owner, what seems to be the problem?”

 

The customer’s eye twitched as he took in Takemichi’s appearance, he was used to it though, he did have more of a baby face for a 25 year old. Although he’s sure that’s changed with how sunken in his features have become over the months. As well as the fact that Ran and Rindou obviously looked older than him. 

 

You’re the owner?”

“Yes sir, I am.”

“Whatever, I just want a full cake but these idiots tell me you don’t do that? How could a bakery not sell cakes?”

“We do sell cakes sir,” Takemichi started, the customer sent a smug look to the Haitani’s but it was quickly shut down, “however, you must preorder them, at least a week in advance. Otherwise, you can buy slices .”

 

.

 

Takemichi was sad. In the midst of dealing with the customer he was overcome with a flood of exhaustion and overall just sadness. He ended up walking away, leaving the brothers to deal with it. It was a bad idea but he just didn’t care. He sat with his head hung, the only sound within his office was his shallow breaths and the occasionally creak of his old chair. 

 

At first he questioned why he felt as such, but then internally scolded himself for being so stupid. Why wouldn’t he feel sad? He now had two more people fawning over him and making sure he was okay and yet he felt more alone than he ever had before. He failed Mikey, he hurt Mikey, he broke his promise to Shinichiro. He scoffed, as if it wasn’t the first of many promises he had made that would be inevitably broken. 

 

He thought back to his conversation with Draken the previous week, he couldn’t believe he actually admitted aloud that he loved liked Mikey. It was something he refused to even admit within his own mind, and now that it was out in the open, he was consumed by it. Now all he could think about was how much he loved liked Mikey and it was driving him crazy and making him depressed all at once. Not only had he admitted it to Draken, but he had admitted it to himself, something he never thought he’d allow himself to do. 

 

His struggle with understanding and accepting his sexuality was a long and hectic process as he entered middle school. Yes, previously in elementary he had more than platonic feelings towards boys, Kakucho and Takuya were included in that. But in his young naive mind, it was completely normal for him to think both boys and girls were pretty and cute. It wasn’t until what happened with Atsushi in the first year of middle school. When they were caught kissing in his front yard. Yes, they were beaten up at that time by passing by highschoolers, but everyday, for months, those same teenagers would harass him as he walked home from the train station. He was terrified to even leave his house because every time he did, at least one of them would be around, quick to call him a f*g. 

 

He hadn’t known what that word meant at first, but they spat it so distastefully that he knew it was bad before he even found out it’s meaning. When he finally asked his mother it’s meaning, it completely changed how he thought.

 

.

 

2004

 

It was the second Tuesday of the month, he didn’t go to school that day. His mother had stumbled in at god knows hour in the morning and was quick to find her way to his bedroom to shake him awake. She demanded him to stay home and look after her, it was routine at this point. And so he had, he did his best to try and sober her up, but it was pointless when she’d just grab another beer from the fridge after finishing her cup of coffee. He had been feeling conflicted recently, he had been avoiding Atsushi solely because he was embarrassed by the outcome of the kiss, but ever since he had been called that word constantly, he had been curious to it’s meaning. He didn’t have a phone and since he thought of it as a bad word, he was too afraid to look it up on the school computers. 

 

So as he sat across from his mother that night, a fresh cut on his cheek and a sensitive scalp from her dragging him along by his hair, he asked.

 

“What’s a f*g?”

 

Her cold brown eyes snapped to him, the clearest he had seen them all day compared to the usual drunken glazed over appearance.

 

“Did someone call you that?” Her tone wasn’t laced in concern a mother should have, nor was it in a protective way to find out whoever called her ‘beloved’ son such a thing. No. It was full of hate and disgust.

 

He didn’t know how to answer, there was no way he could tell her he and Atsushi kissed. But, maybe he could just play it off, so he could just get the definition he needed so he knew how to behave to be called otherwise. 

 

“Uh yeah. I don’t know what it means though, just some older boys in the neighbourhood keep calling me that.”

 

She sucked her teeth before bringing the brim of the beer bottle to her lips, he sometimes wondered if she didn’t look so depressed and hateful all the time, maybe he’d believe the fact that she used to be a model a little more. 

 

“I know you invite those little friends of yours over all the time. If I find out you’re doing any of that repulsive homosexual shit, I will beat you so hard you won’t even be able to crawl away.”

 

.

 

Takemichi wasn’t a genius by any means, but it didn’t take much to figure out that f*g had negative connotations to homosexuals. He knew briefly what homosexuals were, someone who liked someone the same gender as themselves, he had also heard bad things about them from his classmates. He never understood though, why does who someone likes, matter? Takemichi never really thought about it himself before this, he thought the crush he felt towards Atsushi was completely normal, but apparently not. 

 

Did…did liking Atsushi…Kakucho…Takuya, he’s liked them all did that mean he….that he was a homosexual?

 

He shivered at the thought, he couldn’t possibly. No, after what his mother said…she never pulled out on her threats. She had beaten him black and blue before in her drunken rages, not an action he’d like to provoke. No, he had to stop. He…he couldn’t like Atsushi anymore, that was wrong. 

 

.

 

He felt guilty- dirty anytime he even looked Atsushi’s way, Takuya too as he remembered the little crush he had on him in elementary school. He was disgusted with himself, but more it was the fear that filled him that controlled his thoughts. 



2005

 

It took several months before he started to feel normal again. He forced himself to get over the fear as he observed his mother’s behaviour, she didn’t seem to even recall the threat she had sent him. That didn’t diminish it’s probability though, simply lessened at as long as he didn’t do or say anything that would make her thing he was one of *those* homosexuals. 

 

He had convinced himself that his ‘crushes’ on Kakucho, Takuya and Atsushi had simply been nothing off the sort, nothing romantic at all. Because if they were, that would make him gay. He brushed them off as a part of his saviour complex of wanting to protect them particularly more than others. 

 

Besides, he didn’t even need to worry about any of those things anyway, because he had a beautiful girlfriend, Tachibana Hinata. She had confessed to him at the end of the previous year, he knew that she was very kind and smart, alongside her pretty and petite appearance, and asked her to be his girlfriend. They got along swimmingly, she was really an amazing girl, although she was small, she held her ground and was very sure of herself, he liked and admired that. Reminders of how he apparently felt towards his male companions were nothing more than a very, very distant memory buried deep in his subconscious. 

 

Everything was going pretty well actually, he was learning how to stay out of his mother’s way so he was beat less. He had become closer with Makoto and Yamagishi alongside the others. His grades weren’t doing too well, but hey, he had a girl friend. 

 

That was until July fucking 5th, when Sano Manjirou and Ryuguji Ken entered his life. And after then, an abundance of other people, girls and boys who left him confused and scared without meaning to. 

 

.

 

Present 

 

Haruchiyo hesitantly knocked on the door to Mikey’s home office, it was no surprise that he had been off the past few days. He usually would be in his headquarters office, it was a simplistic building right beside the original Sano Dojo created by his grandfather. However, since last Thursday, he had refused to come in and said he would just work from his home office. Haruchiyo had been surprised by this since currently both of his brothers were staying there at the moment, but he didn’t verbally question it after how Mikey sounded over the phone. Izana had been home, and he begrudgingly let Haruchiyo inside. And that led him to where he was now, waiting for Mikey to allow him to enter his office.

 

A quiet ‘come in’ allowed his entry. He wasn’t exactly sure what to expect when he saw his boss. Perhaps some papers scattered across his desk from how stressed he sounded, or several mugs with coffee residue. But rather it was clean. Too clean. Everything was still, in perfect placement like many hours had been spent perfecting the room so it looked like it came from a magazine. And perhaps that is what actually happened judging by the bags under Mikey’s eyes. His own appearance was rough and messy, standing out compared to the room. 

 

“Mikey? You called?”

 

Mikey didn’t answer at first, his eyes didn’t waver, his body hadn’t given any signal he had even realised Haruchiyo was in the room. He closed the door behind him and the sound seemed to pull his boss out of his daze. 

 

“Sit here Haruchiyo,” he gestured to the chair across from himself and Haruchiyo followed the order hastily. 

 

Mikey sighed, pushing away a neat stack of papers with the back of his hand before meeting Haruchiyo’s eyes; they were empty. Haruchiyo had seen those eyes more times than he’d like, but it never ended well. 

 

“Have you ever loved someone, Haruchiyo?” Mikey asked, obsidian boring into teal.

 

The question had surprised Haruchiyo, but it clicked in his head. Something must have happened with Takemichi to make his boss act like this.

 

“Not romantically, no. My perception of life and feelings were warped for the time I was an addict, I’m still recovering from that.”

Mikey sighed once more, “You’re the wrong person to talk to this about. But Izana is annoying, Shinichiro is a love disaster and Emma’s all happy in Wonderland with her wife.”

“What seems to be the problem? Is it not something you could talk about with Baji or Draken?”

“I want an unbiased opinion though, they’ll just tell me I’m an idiot and Takemitchy didn’t do anything. I know you two barely even know each other.”

 

Haruchiyo recalled that he never quite told Mikey that he has actually become friends with Takemichi recently. Nor did he tell him that they had dinner together. Probably not the best thing to mention right now either. 

 

“Yeah, is this about your feelings for him? Have they changed?”

“If anything, they’ve gotten stronger and I don’t understand how?! I should hate him…but I have no right to. After all, we aren’t together so it’s not like I’m allowed to be jealous or anything,” Mikey huffed. 

“Was…Takemichi with someone else?”

“Hah! You could definitely say that. Draken and I walked in on him with Hanma. Hanma? Hanma of all people?! What the fuck?”

 

Haruchiyo certainly had not expected that answer. Hanma Shuji? But Mikey seemed really upset, and although he didn’t know if Takemichi had ever liked or did like Mikey, he was sure that the baker probably felt really bad. He should call him after this to check up on him. 

 

“That’s certainly unexpected, do you think they’re together?”

“It sure looked like it. But ugh, Draken’s right, I have no right to be jealous, we’re not together. But I just love him so much, y’know? I just wish- no I hope, I really do hope Haruchiyo that he could one day love me back, even just a little.”

Chapter Text

2009

 

His friends wasted no time breaking in his new apartment, he’d only told them yesterday and already here they were, spread out across the kitchen and living room which were conjoined due to small space. (He’d actually already been living there for three weeks now, and had help moving in from Kazutora) It was already more homey that Takemichi’s actual home had been, he had never bothered before with decorating because he felt as if nothing could brighten up that damned house of nightmares. But now that he was in a smaller space and didn’t need to worry about his mother drunkenly stumbling in, hand eager to mark his skin. There were some not so subtle hints that Kazutora had helped him decorate, like the cheater print decorative pillow on the couch or the little porcelain tiger next to the kitchen sink, but other than that, the sunflower eyed boy really had taste when it came to interior design. 

 

Friends coming over was an automatic ‘Takemichi is baking for everyone’, but that also meant ‘everyone wants to help out’ and helping out really meant ‘let's eat everything as we go’ . But he loved it. Since the start of highschool, he had let his hair grow out and learnt tips from Kazutora on how to tone his hair. He loved the new look, with pale blond curls just reaching his shoulders, but it was a pain when he was baking. Surprisingly, it hadn’t been any of the girls who had offered to tie his hair up in cute hairstyles, but rather Chifuyu. If anything, Takemichi would have expected Mistuya to do it since he often sees the way he does Luna and Mana’s hair up. Chifuyu’s go to was putting Takemichi’s hair into two little space buns, or just one with strands hanging around his face. He liked it, Chifuyu would often play with his hair at lunch, Atsushi would often complain about that after having since decided he wanted to be a hairdresser when he was older. 

 

Yamagishi is beside him, sleeves rolled up as he very aggressively kneads the dough, his glasses sliding down his nose. Takuya, Emma and Mikey were icing cookies, they were having a little competition to see who could ice the most pride flags, they weren’t getting very far since Takemichi didn’t have a wide variety of food colouring. Draken and Hina were currently on round 17 of thumb wrestling, even though Draken’s hand completely dwarfed Hina’s, the younger girl somehow kept winning and Draken refused to give up. His phone rang, he fished it out of his apron pocket, glancing at the name before answering.

 

“Hey Shinichiro-san!”

“Take-kun, are my siblings alive by any chance?” Shinichiro jokes over the line. 

“They definitely are, they’re in a competition with Takuya over cookies, so y’know, the usual.”

“All good, they weren’t answering they’re phones that’s all. I actually wanted to know your new address, Seishu was here at the shop with me today and he wanted to come over, and I suppose I have to pick those brats up too.”

“Oh! I haven’t seen Inui-kun in so long, it’d be great to have him over. I’m at X apartment block, room 243.”

“See you soon.”

 

.

 

Takemichi chuckled at Mikey’s sleeping figure on the couch, curled up like a cat with cookie crumbs and blue icing decorating his lips and chin. Shinichiro snorts beside him before nudging his brother with his big toe.

 

“C’mon Manjirou, Pops keeps getting on my case when I don’t bring you home on time,” Shinichiro grumbled, Emma snickering behind him. 

Takemichi chuckled before bending down beside Mikey’s sleeping figure and whipping out a red bean paste dorayaki he had secretly baked earlier and holding it under his nose. The smaller teen sprung out of his position, his eyes blown wide and his hand already wrapped around the dorayaki. 

 

Angel .” He whispered before scarfing the treat down and falling back asleep. 

Takemichi sighed and shrugged, “I tried Shinichiro-san.”

Chapter Text

July 11th, 2017

 

“Where are you going?” 

 

Kazutora had planned on sneaking out of his and his partner's apartment; they looked pretty asleep five minutes ago. It’s not like he was sneaking out the cheat, god no, he’d never. But Takemichi had texted him urgently in the middle of the night and by the content of the messages he knew something wasn’t right.

 

He slowly turned and met Chifuyu’s sleepy yet confused gaze. Younger, more naive him would have been glad to see Chifuyu instead of Baji in such a situation, but his current self knew that Chifuyu could be just as scary, even more so sometimes. 

 

“I-I um I-”

“Did you have a nightmare or something? Keisuke and I have told you that you don’t need to distance yourself on your bad days,” Chifuyu muttered, concern laced in his voice as he rubbed the sleepiness from his eyes.

 

Kazutora felt his chest tighten, he loved those two so much and they loved him too. But due to the content of Takemichi’s messages, he couldn’t disclose that with Chifuyu because he was sworn to secrecy and has been since he was 17. 

 

“I- fuck, I don’t want to lie. I’m going to see Take-kun,” he hoped Chifuyu didn’t question his reasoning, but it did look hella suspicious since it was the middle of the night and he was sneaking out to see another guy.

Chifuyu’s eyebrows furrowed, “Takemichi? Is there something wrong?”

“You know how I’ve told you and Kei a few times that there are some things Take-kun and I can only talk about with each other?”

“...Yeah, is this one of those times?”

“Yes, he texted me saying he needed to talk and it sounded urgent.”

Chifuyu sighed and nodded, “Baby please just wake me or Keisuke up if you’re going to leave in the middle of the night, you had me worried.”

“I will, I’m sorry.”

“And, not in a way of invading Takemichi’s private thing, but can you let me know if he’s alright when you come back.”

“Of course.”

 

.

 

Kazutora read over the messages Takemichi had sent him as he made his way to his apartment, it was obvious that he was drunk. He was definitely worried because he knew that Takemichi never drank unless it was at a function and he rarely went past tipsy because if his childhood with his alcoholic mother. He knew Takemichi would get drunk a lot at parties in highschools, but since adulthood, he’s become more aware and made his decisions. The last few messages Takemichi sent were about half an hour ago and they certainly scared him the most.

 

Take-kun: imn sad

Take-kun: inm*

Take-kun: imb*

Take-kun: duck sake…I’m**

Take-kun: im awful

Take-kun: im just like her i am terrified

Take-kun: wut if i hurt sum one

Take-kun: like she did

Take-kun: i wanna talk to u

Take-kun: becuz u understand

Take-kun: but i drank lots

Take-kun: what if i hurt u??

Take-kun: then i will be even more sad

Take-kun: u know, i dun even know if she is alive lol

Take-kun: she probably drank herself to death

Take-kun: i dont wanna die that way

Take-kun: but im gonna die anyway

Take-kun: is that sad kazu-kun?

Take-kun: would any one be sad???????

Take-kun: im so tired kazu

Sent 1:37am

 

Me: 

Im coming over

Delivered 1:52am




It was a little past 2 when Kazutora was standing at Takemichi’s apartment door, his knocks were as quiet as they could be to not disturb other people but hopefully loud enough for Takemichi to hear. He couldn’t stop fidgeting, picking at his fingers after his friend didn’t even read the message he sent. He waits. And he waits some more, but before he can knock again the door swings open revealing a giddy Takemichi. Kazutora had only ever seen Takemichi properly drunk once before, and that was the graduation after party that he, Mikey and several others had snuck into since they had already graduated the year earlier. That was seven years ago, but he could definitely remember that Takemichi had been full of giggles and clinging to whatever was nearby. Another thing he remembered was Takemichi drunkenly making out with his class president and how Mikey had to go and punch a tree a few times because he refuses to hit girls. Takemichi smiled widely when he saw Kazutora before abruptly pulling the older man in and swinging him around.

 

“Ka! Zu! Kun!” Takemichi exclaimed, the smell of alcohol evident on his breath. 

“Take-kun, is everything alright? You seemed upset in your messages,” Kazutora asked, guiding the drunk to the couch.

“Sad? Me? You’re so funny Kazu-kun! I’m so happy right now, I don’t understand why she would hit me when she’d drink. Shouldn’t she be happy like me?” Takemichi burst into another round of laughter before going to play with Kazutora’s hair.

 

Kazutora was deeply concerned, it was upsetting that the only time Takemichi mentioned his mother was when he was drunk, his sober self would never want to mention her and he understood that. He knew that Takemichi struggled to trust himself with alcohol after highschool, he had been the one Takemichi had confided in about how he drunkenly slept with Makoto and kissed a bunch of people he never meant to. He would be an idiot to say he hadn’t noticed Takemichi had been off lately, but he just didn’t know exactly what could be causing him to drink himself to this state at 2 o’clock on a Tuesday morning, especially since he had work today. 

 

“Take-kun, how about some water, yeah?” He offered.

“Can I tell you a secret?” Takemichi whispered dramatically, he leaned closer, “Well it’s not really much of a secret anymore since I told Draken-kun…but I really love Mikey-kun, y’know?”

 

Kazutora’s eyes widened, he obviously knew of Mikey’s feelings, but he was always unsure of how Takemichi felt. 

 

“But I can’t love him, y’know? Well, you don’t actually know. I get so jealous of you sometimes, you have two people who love you so much, and you’re all so happy. Me and Mikey-kun can never be happy if we're together, I want him to be happy though. I want him to find someone who makes him happy, but at the same time, that makes me so mad, because I want to be the one to make him happy. But I can’t,” Takemichi rambled, his mood gradually dimming as he continued. 

“Why can’t you be with Mikey?” Kazutora asks, interested by the sudden confession, but he can’t help but feel he’d taken advantage since Takemichi is drunk and has no filter. 

“‘Cause I’m gonna die,” Takemichi muttered quietly, but Kazutora still caught on, making his heart stop.

“What gibberish are you spitting now?”

“Not gibberish Kazu-kun,” Takemichi lifted his head, their eyes meeting, Kazutora wished the sincerity wasn’t so clear in his eyes, “‘M gonna die.”

 

He tried to brush it off, laughing awkwardly as if it were a joke, it had to be a joke right?

 

“Yeah, everyone dies eventually, Take-kun, but that’s not happening for a very long time. No need to dwell on it now.”

Takemichi sighed before looking away, “Yeah, not for a very long time.” That he would continue living.

“Hey Kazu-kun?”

“Yeah?”

“I promise I won’t tell Mikey-kun I love him, because I don’t think he could ever be happy after that.”

 

Kazutora was confused but nodded anyway, he really was just overwhelmed by what Takemichi had confessed to him. Surely Mikey would be ecstatic if Takemichi told him that, but he wasn’t going to further question him in this state.




He stayed for another two hours to sober Takemichi up before sending him to bed and heading back home to snuggle in his lovers arms.

Chapter Text

June 19th, 2017

 

Emma and Hina got back from their honeymoon last night, and oh so conveniently, today was a Wednesday, his day off. When he awoke that morning with a splitting headache and body pains, he found that he was not alone in his apartment. Emma was in his shitty kitchen cooking up a healthy energy filled breakfast while Hina tidied the remininents of his recent depressive episode. Hina saw him first, he tried to ignore the flash of disappointment in her eyes as she held several empty bottles of alcohol. It wasn’t long though, until Emma noticed his presence and immediately latched onto him. 

 

“Takemichi-kun! Oh…just let me hold you for a bit, yeah?” She murmured into his shoulder.

“...Yeah.”

 

He wasn’t sure how long they stood there, but he does know that it didn’t take long for Emma to begin breaking down in his arms. He couldn’t stop looking at Hina as she cleaned up his mess, guilt overwhelmed him as he eyed the empty bottles of alcohol. He couldn’t believe he had actually drunk so much in just the past week, he hated himself for it. He swore to his younger self that he’d never turn to alcohol when he had problems because he knew what it did to his mother…look at him now. 

 

Even after Kazutora came to comfort him that night a week ago, he just couldn’t stop the surging feeling within him. It had been quite difficult to hide from Ran and Rindou at work, he mostly just stayed in the kitchen or his office so people wouldn’t be able to smell his hangover. He kept drinking, and it was making him feel like shit. He had half the decency to stop taking some of his medications or he might have just actually died from mixing them with so much alcohol. 

 

“-michi-kun…Takemichi!” Hina’s voice snapped him out of whatever daze he was unknowingly in. 

“Huh?”

“Well…whatever, I don't have to hide my concern for you anymore. What the fuck has been going on? Are you taking your medication?” Hina asked.

“I…most of the time,” he muttered.

“You know how dangerous it is to drink large amounts of alcohol with your medication, it could kill you before the cancer does!”

“Hina…” Emma said softly, “I think we should keep this calm.”

“Calm? You have been bawling your eyes out everyday since you found out.”

“Maybe there is a reason why he has been drinking, shouldn’t you be asking about that instead of lecturing him?”

“Please don’t fight, I just feel like shit to say it simply. And I hate myself for turning to alcohol for it but that’s just what happened. I knew the risks and did it anyway because maybe, just maybe I want to just die suddenly so I don’t have to see the reaction of anyone else,” he confessed.

 

Emma and Hina stared at him, their lips trembling and eyes filling with tears. 

 

“People can find out whenever they want, I don’t give a shit, but I refuse to be the one to tell anyone and I know damn well neither of you have the guts to. So please, can I just spend my last bit of my shortened life pretending that nothing is wrong?”

Hina pulled him close, her body was shaking as she tried to hold in her sobs but he could feel how wet his shirt was becoming from her tears, “I love you Takemichi, you know that. And I just want you to be happy.”

“You can be happy too Hina.”

“When I know that you are resting peacefully, without all the struggles you’re facing right now…then I’ll be happy.”

“Emma-chan?” He said.

Emma lifted her head, her eyes red and puffy and her lips quivering, “I want you to take care of Hina for me.”

“Takemichi-”

“I want you to make sure she is happy and I want you to love her forever unconditionally. Can you promise me? Because I know she will ignore her own needs to make sure everyone else is okay.”

Emma nodded, :I-I promise. But you need to promise me something too. You need to promise me that you won’t keep doing anything that will endanger your health even more. Please no more drinking.”

“I promise.”

 

Hina pulled away from him sobbing and Emma replaced her spot, wrapping her arms tight around him, she leant close and whispered something to him so Hina couldn’t hear.

 

“I know about the smoking, growing up with Shin I can detect it. Please try to stop that too.”

“I will try my best, I promise.”

 

.

 

Baji watched as Kazutora continued to fumble the box of cat collars before he finally dropped them. For the past week he had just been off, constantly mumbling to himself and when he was at work he was simply unfocused. Chifuyu told him that Kazutora had gone to see Takemichi one night a week ago, and ever since, he’s been like this and it just makes him wonder what the hell happened. He had been meaning to pop over to the bakery to ask Takemichi about it but he just hadn’t had the time after a bunch of new strays came in. 

 

“Tora, come over here,” he called out, gesturing for his fiance to join him at the register, the store was currently empty aside from themselves and Chifuyu had just gone out on his lunch break. 

“Uh yeah? Didn’t mean to drop the box, butter fingers I guess.”

“Has anything triggered you lately?”

Kazutora’s eyes widened, “What are you talking about?”

“You’ve been so unfocused the past week, did something happen when you went to see Takemichi?”

Kazutora tensed and looked away from Baji’s concerned gaze, “Nothing happened, we just talked.”

“What was so important that he needed to tell you at 2 in the morning?”

“Are you implying something Keisuke? Do you think I cheated on you or something?!” Kazutora exclaimed defensively.

“What? No! I’d never think that of you, I’m just worried, so is Fuyu,” Baji reassured.

 

Kazutora was in fact very worried about Takemichi, he tried not to overthink some of the things he had said in his drunken state. But then again, drunken words are sober thoughts. He didn’t want to invade Takemichi’s privacy, he had been doing a damn good job of keeping his special conversations with Takemichi a secret for almost ten years. But this was his friend’s life he was thinking about, that affected everyone.

 

He sighed shakily before meeting his fiance’s eyes once again, “I think Takemichi might be suicidal.”

Chapter Text

June 19th, 2017

 

After cleaning up and having breakfast with the couple, Takemichi had intended on going over to the bakery and doing some prep. But Emma and Hina were having none of that. 

 

“Don’t even try to say no Takemichi-kun! You are staying in bed, no ifs buts or maybes.” Emma instructed, her arms crossed over her chest. Hina nodded in agreement from the kitchen table where she was marking stories her students had written. 

“Emma-chan, I can’t just lie in bed all day, it makes me feel worse,” he whined.

“Well there is no way either of us are letting you go anywhere near the bakery. You need to rest,” Hina said sternly. 

He sighed and picked up the remote from the coffee table, “Movie marathon?”

 

June 20th, 2017

 

He was forgetting. And not in the way he thought he would. He thought- hoped he would forget about negative memories from his childhood in regards to his mother. He thought he’d just forget stupid things like what his favourite food was when he was seven. But rather, the past was the only thing clear in his mind- overly clear . Constant memories of his mother’s treatment played like a movie in his mind that he was unable to escape. 

 

He was forgetting the present, and that was scaring him. He was struggling to make even his most popular items at the bakery, a recipe was becoming the standard and he hated that. Because he made each dish specially with his own twist that no recipe could offer, and now he couldn’t even remember his twist. He would stand with his hand on the doorknob for ten minutes trying to remember if he even had to leave at all. 

 

Yesterday was nice, he supposed, spending all day just watching movies with Emma and Hina. It took his mind off everything, a good distraction even if the popcorn tasted like slime and his entire body aches from being squished in between the couple on the couch. 

 

He sighed aggressively before walking out of the kitchen, the bakery was pretty empty this time of the day. He looked between Ran and Rindou before deciding.

 

“Rindou-kun, come into the kitchen with me. I’m going to teach you how to bake.”

Rindou sputtered and Ran raised an eyebrow, “Are you sure that’s a good idea? Why would we need to know how to bake if you’re here?”

Because I won’t always be here. “Well, hopefully if one of you knows how to bake, then eventually you two can work without my supervision.”
“That’s a good idea actually.”

 

Rindou followed him out to the kitchen, he was not going to lie, he was very excited. When he was younger, and by younger, only a couple years old before he and Ran were abandoned at 8 and 10, he’d always help his mother bake in the kitchen. He was surprisingly skilled at cracking open eggs at a young age and loved to knead dough. It’s been a very long time since then.

 

“We’re just going to start with something basic, okay? Choc chip cookies are a classic, right?”



It was really nice, calming, Rindou thought, spending this time with Takemichi. He could understand why his boss chose to do such a thing as his job, baking was quite therapeutic. Takemichi was clear in his instructions, although he would constantly pause and think about the next step for a little while. Rindou just assumed it must be difficult to have so many recipes memorised, he wondered if he could ever do that. Honestly, he had been thinking about being serious and staying at the bakery to work. He wasn’t sure what Ran thought, especially since his older brother got irritated with the customers a lot, but he really enjoyed working here at Hana. Takemichi was a good boss, paid well for such a job, obviously he didn’t need the money, but Takemichi ran a very nice environment where customers could feel comfortable and enjoy their time at the bakery. There were always delicious smells around and Takemichi would let them take whatever was left over at the end of the day. 

 

He’s liked it so much that he’s actually refused a few modelling opportunities just to do some more shifts at the bakery. He never really thought modelling was for him anyway, photographers would think it was cool how flexible he was and would make him do weird awkward positions, it wasn’t fun. Constant flashing cameras, limited diets and clothes that sometimes showed more skin than he was comfortable with. With Takemichi, he could eat sweets without any judgement, in fact his boss would encourage Rindou and Ran to eat more since they were so lanky. Rindou had always been bigger than his brother in terms of body fat and muscle, so it was nice to have Takemichi still want him to eat so much even when he wasn’t as lean as Ran. 

 

“Hey Takemichi, I hope you can teach me all there is to know about baking. Working with you is really fun, I hope I can meet your expectations,” he spoke, dusting his hands of the excess flour from his fourth batch of cookies.

Takemichi turned around from where he was standing at the oven, he nodded thoughtfully before smiling, “I promise you’ll be more skilled than me when I’m done with you. I hope I can responsibly leave my duties to you.”

 

Rindou smiled, but he couldn’t help but wonder at the back of his mind that there might have been some ulterior meaning behind Takemichi’s words. 



.

 

Kazutora looked down at his phone in confusion, the name Tachibana Naoto appearing. He didn’t even know he had his number. He was in a jittery mood, especially after telling Baji, who in return told Chifuyu, what he thought about Takemichi’s mental state. His mind jumped to the worst conclusions at seeing Naoto calling him, what if he was about to tell him Takemichi just killed himself? Or tried to?!

 

“Hello!”

“Hanemiya-san? I hope I didn’t startle you.”

“N-no…is something the matter?” He asked nervously.

“No, nothing bad at all. I actually wanted your help with something, in regards to Takemichi.”

“Help?”

“I’m sure you know it’s his birthday at the start of next week, and I know how close you two are. I wanted to know if you could help me out with planning a surprise birthday party for him?”

 

Kazutora released a breath of relief after being reassured that nothing bad had happened to Takemichi. And a surprise party? He thought back to the one Mikey tried to plan for Takemichi’s 18th and how everything just didn’t go to plan, hopefully this time could be better. He would love to see a genuine smile on Takemichi’s face again.

 

“Sure, I’d love to.”

Chapter Text

September, 2012

 

“M’hiring some chick so you can stop with yer complaining,” Takemichi’s boss muttered, not looking up from the newspaper in his fat hands. 

 

He wanted to correct him, he never actually complained to his boss, to his friends, yes. Because it was outrageous that he was expected to basically run the place for the old fat geezer while he was technically only a part time worker who was studying a business and hospitality course at university. He had no time to study and was constantly missing classes. But he did love his job, he loved to bake for people and make them smile when he’d throw in an extra cookie. 

 

“Alright, when will she be starting?”

“Should be ‘ere any minute. Train her, I don’t want any complaints,” he grumbled, turning in his squeaky swivel chair. 

“Yes sir,” he replied through gritted teeth. Great, now on top of everything, he had to find room to train someone else. 

 

.

 

The girl bouncing around in front of him was young, about the age he was when he started working here. But she looked keen, so that was a plus he supposed, it would be difficult to train someone who was very antisocial. 

 

“Hello, I’m Hanagaki Takemichi. I’ll be showing you the ropes around this place,” he introduced himself.

“Very nice to meet you sir! You are very handsome by the way, I was expecting some little old lady.” Well she didn’t have a filter, that’s for one. 

Takemichi flushed at the compliment but quickly focused himself, “What’s your name?”

“Oh! I’m Nishimura Emi, I’m 15.” 

“So are you only here on weekends? Or do you not attend school?”

Emi gaped as if he just insulted her mother, “I’m going to be a doctor, of course I’m in school. But yeah, weekends, and some afternoons.”

 

Takemichi just couldn’t imagine this girl becoming a doctor, but he couldn’t judge, he just met her after all. 

 

“Well Nishimura, there’s about half an hour until we open, I’ll show you how the register works,” he said.

“Okay! Oh, and you can call me Emi. Now let’s get started Takemichi-san!”

 

Well if this girl wanted to become a doctor, she would definitely need to learn a thing or two about respect. Takemichi preferred being referred to by his first name, but a younger person calling an older person by their first name from the get go was pretty disrespectful. 

 

“Ah um, well yeah. Just, come over here please.”

 

.

 

Emi was…not as bad as he thought. She was very energetic and definitely an over sharer, but she was sweet and seemed like a hard worker. Sure she dropped coffee grounds all over the floor and told a customer to shut up when they interrupted her, but other than that she did very well. 

 

“Good job today Emi, see you next time.”

“Thanks for training me, I promise I won’t be rude to a customer again or joke about my dead older sister. It’s just how I cope.”

“That’s okay, but people come here to have a nice relaxing experience, okay? So let’s try and promote that.”

“You got it, Takemichi-san. See ya!”

 

.

 

June 20th, 2017

 

“Takemichi, there is someone out front for you,” Ran said, walking into the kitchen.

“Do you know who it is?” Takemichi looked up from the dough he was kneading with Rindou.

“Can’t remember his name. Long black hair, sharp teeth?”

“Ah, Baji-kun. Rindou-kun, just continue kneading until it is more firm, but don’t over do it, alright?”

“Yep.”

 

He followed Ran out of the kitchen, to be honest, he was surprised to see Baji. The older man didn’t usually come by too often without at least one of his partners. 

 

“Hey Baji-kun,” he greeted.

Baji flashed a toothy smile, a cupcake in his hand, “Aye Takemichi, these are really good. I love extra frosting.”

“Well Rindou-kun actually made those ones, I’ll have to let him know you enjoyed them. Did you want to talk about something with me?”

His eyes flickered over to Ran before moving back to Takemichi, “Uh yeah, can you come sit with me? Just for a few minutes.”

“Uh sure, not too long thought.”

“Won’t be at all.”

 

Takemichi is different. Baji wasn’t the smartest guy, he didn’t hang out with Takemichi too often either, but he knew. Takemichi wasn’t the genuine selfless bundle of inspirational joy that he was when he was a teenager. Yes he was still selfless, more than anyone he knows, and he was really good at making others happy, Kazutora’s mental state has improved so much over the years partly due to the strong bond he shares with Takemichi. But he was still different. Recently his smiles were smaller and tighter, his eyes didn’t crinkle up as much and his laughs were forced. Baji was a very observant person, unbeknownst to many people. And after what Kazutora told him, that he fears Takemichi may be suicidal, he was definitely on edge and felt the need to check up on him. But he didn’t want to be blunt, in case he was wrong and maybe Takemichi just matured differently but was still trying to convince everyone that he was the same as he was when he was younger to keep people happy.

 

“No need to be so nervous, Takemichi, not gonna eat ya,” he joked.

“I’m not nervous.” A lie. “Just surprised I supposed, haha.” A forced polite chuckle to ease the situation. 

“Tora was a little worried about you, but he’s not feeling so well so I thought I’d check up on you.” Kazutora was okay, he was just too shy to confront Takemichi.

“Oh, is he okay?”

“Yeah, Fuyu’s with him. But I’m asking about you. How are you? Don’t lie to me, I might punch ya.” He wouldn’t, by the look of Takemichi, a single punch might actually break him.

Takemichi paled and swallowed audibly, “I’m tired.”

“Tired of what?...Life?”

“Why are you asking these questions Baji-kun? What did Kazu-kun tell you?”

“Just that he’s concerned about your health.” A little white lie.

“I just feel conflicted with myself, it’s affecting my health I suppose.” ‘Conflicted with whether or not I should tell my friends I’m dying.’

“Mental health? Are you seeing a therapist?” They can fix motivation, not cancer. 

“Don’t have the money. Guess you can say the business has made me a little stressed too.” 

“Then fire one of the brothers, then you can still have help but you won’t have to pay as many people. You were doing fine when that young girl worked here.”

“I can’t fire one of them, it would be showing favouritism and that’s not very ethical.”

Baji sighed, “Look, what I’m asking is are you happy with life? Should I, or Tora or Fuyu or anyone be worried?” 

 

Yes. Very much so. Should start choosing which suit you’re going to wear to my funeral.

 

“I am happy, I promise Baji-kun. No one needs to be worried, I’m just tired and stressed is all.”

 

Chapter Text

June 21st, 2017

 

“Ken, if something was up with Manjirou, you’d tell me right?” Shinichiro asked over the phone.

“Is he still sulking?”

“So there is something you know about?”

“He’s upset over Takemichi, he uh, well he saw him with someone else,” Draken mumbled, feeling awkward, especially with certain pieces of information he knew.

“Oh. Is Take-kun happy? In this relationship?”

“Uh…it’s not really a relationship. God, I feel bad for saying it. But uh, Takemichi was hooking up with a guy that we had trouble with when we were teenagers. Mikey and I walked in on them, about to uh, y’know…” he trailed off.

“Hahhhh, I don’t know what to do with him. Take-kun told me a little while back that he wished he could be with Manjirou but there was something he couldn’t explain that was stopping him. I’m guessing it was because he was seeing someone else?”

Draken tensed. He knew damn well Hanma wasn’t the reason, it was the fact that Takemichi had terminal cancer. But he couldn’t tell Shinichiro that, he had promised Takemichi he wouldn’t tell anyone. He just hopes Takemichi does it himself before people find out too late. 

 

“Yeah I guess.”

“I feel bad for him ‘cause he’s my little brother, but you can’t force a relationship and I want Take-kun to be happy too. Don’t know what to do with the little rascal though, Izana leaves to go back to the Philippians in a few weeks and I was planning on heading off not too long after that.”

“L-leave?” He didn’t want them to leave, not with Takemichi, as much as he hates to admit it, about to die.

“Awe, you gonna miss me Ken?”

“No way. I just, don’t you and Takeomi still have things to work out?”

“My love life is doomed, you know this. But is there something else? I’m honestly looking for a reason to stay, so just give me one and I’ll take it.”

 

No, he couldn’t do it. He promised Takemichi. But Shinichiro was so responsible and he could probably help.

 

“I can’t say exactly why, but I think you should talk with Takemichi.”

“Take-kun? I’m not going to convince him to get with Manjirou if that’s what-’
“No, nothing like that. You should talk to him, push him until he tells you something. I know that sounds bad but I can’t directly tell you anything.”

Shinichiro sighed over the phone, “Fine, I’ll go see him later.”

“Thank you.”

 

.

 

Shinichiro looked down at his phone, deep in thought. He wondered what Draken meant exactly. He knew Takemichi’s birthday was in a few days, maybe it was to try and figure out what he wanted for his birthday.

 

.

 

“Detective Tachibana? I prepared the file for you, all good to go and her address is on the front,” Watanabe said, handing the small stack of paper to his superior.

“Thanks Watanabe, I’ll treat you to a meal tomorrow.”

“Thank you sir!”



Naoto entered the address into his GPS, he was doing a good thing, right? He thought it would be really nice for Takemichi to reconnect with his mother on his birthday, especially with his shortened life span. Naoto didn’t really know too much about Takemichi’s relationship with his mother, but from what Takemichi had told them when they were younger and from the state of his empty house, he just assumed that because his mother worked so often, they never got to be close and when Takemichi was old enough, he moved out and lost connection with her. 

 

It was a bit of a drive, but it was nice to see the suburbs. He was typically stationed in the busy city areas within his job, it was so green and quiet out here. He neared the address, it was a small traditional looking home from the outside. He parked and walked up to the door, wiping his feet on the mat before knocking. The door opened a few minutes later revealing a short slender woman. Naoto wasn’t exactly sure what he had expected, he had never seen her before, and there was never any pictures in Takemichi’s old house. But she looked absolutely nothing like her son, assuming that the woman who opened the door was Mrs Han- Ms Sato Jun. 

 

“Good afternoon, sorry to bother you. Are you Sato Jun?” he asked.

The woman nodded, looking up at him in confusion, “Yes I am. Can I help you, officer?”

“I’m here to talk to you about your son, Hanagaki Takemichi.”

Her eyes snapped open wide, “O-oh, it’s been so long since I’ve heard that name.”

“Would you be interested in meeting him? I’m sure you know his birthday is in a few days, and I was hoping to help you two reconnect.”

She nodded slowly, “Right…his birthday…um, why don’t you come in? What was your name?”

“Tachibana Naoto, I’m an old friend of his. My older sister used to date him, do you remember that?”

A flicker of a smile appeared on her thin lips, “Ah yes, I remember him telling me he got a girlfriend all those years ago. I was so glad that he strayed away from hanging out with those boys too much.”

 

Naoto raised an eyebrow but followed the woman in any way. He couldn’t shake this feeling of uneasiness, maybe this wasn’t such a good idea.

Chapter Text

June 21st, 2017

 

Naoto was trained to detect if there was something off about a situation, and alarm bells were the only thing ringing ever since he walked into Takemichi’s mother’s house. There were pictures everywhere, of herself with many men, a different one in each. He couldn’t deny that she was quite beautiful for the approximate age she’d have to be to have a son Takemichi’s age, but the wrinkles in certain spots on her face were indicators of many years spent scowling. 

 

“I’ve just boiled some tea, would you like some officer?” The older woman snaps his attention away from the pictures, he nods hastily as to not appear like he was just sticking his nose in her business.

“Ah yes Ma’am, and please, you can just call me Naoto.”

“Well Naoto-kun , do you take any sugar?” Suddenly it didn’t seem like a good idea to tell her that, he didn’t like the way his name rolled off her tongue, it made his skin crawl. 

“J-just one.”

 

She soon gestured for him to take a seat at the dining table and she brought the two cups of tea with her, sitting across from him.

 

“So why exactly are you here? I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but me and my son have not spoken in a decade, the brat ran away when he was like 16, haven’t seen him since,” she muttered, bringing the cup to her thin lips.

 

Naoto was surprised by her abruptness, and the calling of her son, a brat. He remembered that Takemichi did ‘move out’ into a small apartment at only 16, he had said it was because he didn’t like how empty his house was and decided it would be best to have a smaller space. Did he run away? Is there more to Takemichi’s relationship with his mother?

 

“Um, well Sato-san, Takemichi is actually uh….he’s unwell,” that’s an understatement, “And I thought it would be a nice surprise for him to see you on his birthday since it’s been so long. I think he’d really like to see you.”

“Hm, really?” She peered over at him, he felt tiny and pathetic under her gaze, was this a good idea? Should he continue with this? “I’d love to see my darling son again, it’s been so long.”

His eyes widened, he honestly didn’t think she’d agree, “Oh! Well, do you mind if I have your number so I can inform you of the details for his birthday? It’s ah, it’s a surprise party so…”

“Sure, I can’t wait to see him again,” he nodded and handed her his phone, but her smile left him with an unsettled feeling in his stomach.

 

.

 

Ran wasn’t the best person. He did genuinely enjoy hurting others, especially with Rindou by his side, it made him feel powerful. Sure, he had lessened and controlled those tendencies since his teen years, but that didn’t suddenly make him a good person. He was a model, both he and his brother had the looks and confidence for it, and it provided them with heavy wallets, but he didn’t really enjoy it. Strut the runway, look hot, get paid. Get starved, be blinded by lights, get shamed, but he got paid. It just wasn’t fun anymore, and that is why both he and Rindou decided to go on a hiatus, they had actually accidentally stumbled upon Takemichi’s bakery, it was a surprise to see the now raven working the counter. He never knew too much about Takemichi personally, he knew what he saw from fights, he was stubborn, a shitty fighter, hella inspirational and goddamn unhinged, he was intriguing. But after Toman was all in highschool, they decided to disband and focus on studies, so he never really heard of him again. There had been a few instances at the end of highschool and start of university when they had seen a glimpse of him partying with his friends in one of the clubs they owned in Roppongi, but nothing more. It had been nice to see him properly again in the bakery that one morning, he was still as stubborn as ever, offering one free item to every new customer the first time they came in and Ran had refused and said he would pay for it. Takemichi had aggressively shoved in two free cookies while smiling innocently at him. He was just as intriguing as he was when he was a teenager, and since both he and Rindou had nothing to do, they would come in most mornings and buy an unnecessary amount and watch as Takemichi would twitch and try to contain himself from scolding them due to respect. And when they saw that he was looking for some employees a few months later, they jumped at the chance.

 

Working with Takemichi was fun, it was soothing to constantly be surrounded by delicious treats and sometimes get to watch how calm Takemichi looks when he bakes. He cared for Takemichi, he considered him a friend, yes the fact that he was cute added to that but it wasn’t the priority. He was genuinely concerned about his boss’ health, as much as he tried, he was often unsuccessful in getting Takemichi to take breaks and eat consistently. Takemichi was constantly yawning and whenever he’d take a drink of water, no matter how discreet he tried to be, Ran would see the pills that were swallowed with it. Now Ran did not by any means think that his boss was a drug user, he assumed they were medical, but if they were medical, why does Takemichi never look any better? 

 

“Ran-kun, you’ve added 17 sugars to that cup of coffee, either you’re in your own world or you should be checked for diabetes,” Takemichi said, snapping him out of his thoughts.

He looked down at the cup which was filled with sugar and glanced sheepishly at his boss, “Ah sorry Takemichi, I wasn’t concentrating.”

“It’s alright, we all have those days. Do you want to go on your break now?”

“No I’m right, I can wait another hour. But you can go on yours if you’d like?”

Takemichi sighed before nodding, which surprised Ran, “You know what, yeah, I could use a break. Let me know if anything happens, I’ll just be in my office. Just make sure to check on the croissants in the oven in twenty minutes.”

“You got it.”

“Oh and Ran-kun? Don’t you dare drink that coffee, I’d rather not have to try and start your heart again.”

Ran rubbed the back of his neck, “Whaaat, I had no intention of doing that.”

Takemichi rolled his eyes before snatching the cup and pouring the drink down the sink and washing the drain out before walking off to his office. 

Chapter Text

June 21st, 2017

 

There was a knock at his office door, he assumed it to be Ran so he told the person to come in. To his surprise, it was Shinichiro.

 

“Hey Take-kun, that dude said you’d be in here, I’m shocked to see you actually sitting down for once.” The older joked walking in and closing the door behind him.

“Shinichiro-san, I uh, wasn’t expecting you.” Takemichi was nervous to see the older brother of the guy whose heart he unintentionally broke not too long ago, was he about to be beaten up? No, Shinichiro couldn’t fight, well neither could he. Oh my god was this about a pathetic punch on?

“Just thought I’d drop by, check on ya.”

“Oh, you’re leaving soon again, aren’t you?”

“Originally I was, but some people think I should stay for a bit longer…But anyway, it’s your birthday in like four days, anything you want?” 

Debt to not start piling up with the bakery. A lack of fatigue and overall feeling of shitiness. And perhaps a longer lifespan, all those things would be nice.

“Nothing I can think of really, I mean there’s some things that need fixing in the kitchen, but that’s my problem.”

 

Shinichiro nods, he knew it would be difficult to try and get an answer out of Takemichi since he’s so selfless, but he couldn’t help but think that this wasn’t entirely what Draken had been talking about. It sounded so serious. 

 

“Mind if I take a seat?”

“Of course not, sit down. Would you like anything?”

“No no, I’m the one intruding, besides, I just ate. But uh, Ken-kun spoke to me and he told me to talk to you, and said there was something that would convince me to stay. But he wouldn’t tell me because he wasn’t allowed to or something. I was pretty confused but are you all good Take-kun? Is there something to tell me that will make me stay? Is it about Manjirou?”

Takemichi might just murder Draken the next time he sees him. “There’s nothing to tell you. Draken is overreacting, I’m just not feeling well is all.”

“What way don’t you feel well?”

“Physically, just some migraines and nausea. Nothing.” Takemichi couldn’t even look at Shinichiro, the guilt was overwhelming, all he ever did was lie. But he couldn't. He couldn't tell Shinichiro, not after seeing Emma and Draken’s face, he didn’t want to see that expression again. Not on Shinichiro, not on Mikey, not on anyone. But it was inevitable wasn’t it? No. Yes, it was. But he wanted to ignore it for as long as possible, which wouldn’t be long. He was no longer on his treatment and his medications were just helping him get by each day, but now, it was up to nature to decide when to take him. 

“Well you see Ken-kun told me to push you until you say something. Are you lying to me about Take-kun? Is it something worse than that?” Don’t look at him like that, don’t look so concerned, so worried, so caring. Stop it!

“I mean, it’s been going on for a while, I have to take medication but it doesn’t really help. Nothing helps,” he muttered, still avoiding eye contact.

“Waka’s a doctor y’know? I can take you to see him, I’m sure he’ll find something that’ll-”
“Shinichiro-san, please. Please don’t keep pushing.”

Shinichiro sighed and observed Takemichi’s face, his chin trembling and his eyelids fluttering in an attempt to hold himself together. There was more, he knew it. “Take-kun,” but he would respect Takemichi’s wishes, “I want you to call me once a day, let me know how you’re going, okay? If you don’t call, I’ll burst through your door, don’t think I won’t. Manjirou isn’t the only one that cares about you, you’re like my little brother too.”

“Pr-promise,” came the choked reply. 

 

Chapter Text

June 22nd, 2017

 

Mikey had more than enough money. He wasn’t cocky. Yes he was. But he could buy pretty much anything Takemichi wanted, most likely because he’d only ever want something cheap because he’s so fucking sweet. Kazutora had told him a few days ago that he and Naoto were planning a surprise birthday party for the pretty baker. Obviously he was going to get him a present regardless of that, but he just didn’t know what. He was upset, sure, but he knew it was childish to hold a grudge against Takemichi since he never confessed, and he really wanted to stay good friends with him. He knew how unlikely it was now that they were ever going to be in a romantic relationship, but he didn’t want to lose all the great memories he had made with the other. 

 

But currently, he was standing in the middle of a high class mall filled with designer brands and he felt like he knew nothing about Takemichi. Why the hell was he here? Takemichi would never want some expensive clothes, he’d be grateful nonetheless because that’s just how he was, but it wouldn’t be meaningful. He was sure he looked like an idiot, the mall was filled with people due to it being a Saturday and he was just standing there mindlessly staring at a louis vuitton store. Maybe…maybe a piece of jewellery? Takemichi had once told him a few years ago that he actually really loved to wear jewellery but he could never afford anything that he liked. He fished his phone out of his pocket and searched what the birthstone was for the month of June, it told him three options; pearl, alexandrite and moonstone. Perfect. He’d get a custom made piece of jewellery that had one or two of them and he made his trek to the nearby jewellery store. 

 

.

 

“Ken.”

 

Draken lifted his head, tearing his attention away from the motorbike engine he was working on to see Inui standing a metre away. He appeared nervous, his hair was falling out of its ponytail and he kept picking at the skin of his thumb.

 

“Seishu?”

“Is there…Is there something you’ve been hiding from me?”

 

Draken kept his composure, hoping he didn’t give any reaction that he is, in fact, hiding something. That one of their best friends is dying.

 

“No, everything is normal. Why uh, why do you think that?”

Inui was always confident, he was often stoic even when he was happy, but now, he looked off. His eyes kept darting around the room and he couldn’t even stand still. “Ar-are you happy with me?” He said finally, refusing eye contact.

 

That was perhaps the last thing Draken expected to come out of his partner's mouth in this conversation. Yes, they had never explicitly spoken about a label for their relationship, but he was sure they both knew it was something special. Hell, he was planning on officially asking Inui to be his boyfriend, but learning of Takemichi’s condition had put him off it. He couldn’t verbally make that commitment to Inui knowing he was hiding such a thing. Draken wiped the oil off his hands and discarded the rag before standing up and making a step towards Inui.

 

“Seishu, I’m the happiest with you…why would you think I’m not?”

“I’m just…no, I sound stupid.”

“You don’t,” he moved closer and caressed the side of his face and waited for Inui’s teal eyes to finally look at him, “I want to know what I did to make you even imagine that I’m anything less than happy with you.”

“Well, for the last three weeks or so, you’ve been acting so strange. You just seem so distracted and you barely acknowledge me except when it’s necessary at the shop. If…If you like someone else that-that’s okay, I mean, nobody has ever actually liked me before or-”

Draken’s lips against his cut him off, his hands, god his hands were so big, cupping each side of his face. The distant smell of oil was noticeable compared to Draken’s natural scent of rich vanilla, it was something he had missed being so close to. Draken finally pulled away leaving him in a state of shock, the younger man usually never kissed him out of nowhere, especially not recently.

 

“Seishu, listen to me right now. I only like you, and I have for years, even back in highschool, damn. Hell, I love you. I know Kokonoi hurt you in the past, but I’m not him. I know I have been distant recently, but it is not because I like someone else or I don’t like you anymore. I want to tell you so bad but I made a promise to someone, but you will find out soon. It’s just something that’s taken a bit of a toll on me but it has nothing to do with how I feel about you,” Draken explained, eyes never straying from Inui’s wide ones.

“You…You love me?”

“Is that so difficult to believe? You’re amazing, I love your personality and how smart you are, you’re also the prettiest boy I have ever seen in my life. I’m an idiot for never telling you this before.”

His entire face was burning hot and he couldn’t help the smile stretching across his face, all of his worries had been washed away, “I…I think I love you too.”

 

It was a beautiful moment, really. And Inui looked so beautiful smiling genuinely like this, but Draken couldn’t suppress the guilt swarming his veins knowing that Inui was completely oblivious to the fact that someone he admires so much won’t be around for much longer. 

 

.

 

Kazutora was really excited for Takemichi’s surprise party. Takemichi’s birthday was the upcoming Tuesday, and he and Naoto knew it would be impossible to convince him to take the day off work. So instead, the day would be spent by everyone preparing one of the Shiba’s properties and Kazutora would be the one to pick him up from work and bring him to the location where everyone would be there to surprise him and they’d have a good time. He imagined how Takemichi would finally be relaxed and sincerely enjoying himself, he really wanted that for his friend. Naoto had mentioned to him how he had another surprise prepared but he refused to tell the older the details, he wondered what it could possibly be. 

 

It was currently Saturday evening and he thought it would be nice to visit Takemichi, after all he still hadn’t gotten the other a gift and was hoping to squeeze an answer out of him. He knocked on the door of Takemichi’s apartment, balancing on the balls of his feet until the door opened.

 

“Kazu-kun?” Came Takemichi’s confused greeting. 

“Evening Take-kun, can I come in?”

Takemichi leaned forward and peered into the hallway, “It’s just you?”

“Uh yeah.”

“Alright, come in.”

“What was that about?”

“Hina and Emma-chan keep popping up. I mean I love them, but I need some space,” he murmured, scratching at the back of his neck. 

“Oh, ok.”

 

They ended up on the couch, Takemichi resting his upper half on the arm rest, looking exhaustively over at Kazutora.

 

“What’d you do today?” Kazutora asked cheerfully.

Appointments. Refilled prescriptions. Blood tests. “Nothing much, just trying to catch up on some sleep.”

“Ah, I wish I could have slept all day today, but we got a shipment of pet food in so we spent all day unboxing that.”

“Mhm.”

“What’s wrong?” Kazutora questioned.

“Nothing.”

“Don’t give me that bullshit, you know you can tell me stuff.”

Yeah, about my trauma. Not about my limited lifespan , “I’ve just been having a lot of nightmares about my mother lately, it’s so weird.”

“Well that’s not nothing, Take-kun! Do you want to talk about them?”

“Not really, they're just the same old thing. Memories from the past trying to resurface. But uh, what about you?”

“Well I haven’t had a bad day in a while, so that’s really good! I think this new medication I’m on has really been helping me. And my therapist! Oh I haven’t told you about them yet, well they are just so genuine. Usually they don’t actually care about my problems or just try to send me to a psych hospital for shit that happened years ago.”

“Well I’m really happy things are going well.”

“Ah! It’s your birthday soon, what do you want?”

He hated that question , “Kazu-kun, you know me. But this year, I really want nothing. I just want it to be treated as a normal day.” Treat me like I’m not about to break. 

“C’mon, you can’t expect that. It’s your birthday!”

“I’m only turning 26, that’s not a special age or anything.” 26 is the last age I’ll be, so perhaps it is special in a way.

“You used to be so much fun Take!” Kazutora whined, “Look, a night of drinking,” At this point, that would just disintegrate my liver “Amazing presents,” That will go into some random box in a few months because I won’t be around to use it “And spending time with all our friends in one spot” Sounds like a night of constantly being pestered about whether or not I’m okay. 

“Please, just nothing.”

Chapter Text

June 25th, 2017

 

He woke up with a headache, but what’s new? His alarm blaring in the background, he slowly got out of bed and switched it off before rubbing the sleep from his sore eyes. He struggled to sleep last night, he couldn’t shake this awful feeling nor could he identify the reasoning. Three short knocks at the front door drew his attention away from the thought, he pulled on a pair of pants and headed to the door. Behind it was Chifuyu, a surprise. He only just realised now how little they’ve interacted recently, it was pleasant to see his friend, but he didn’t know why he was here.

 

“Uh morning Chifuyu,” he mumbled.

“Happy birthday partner!” Chifuyu cheered, swinging his keys around his index finger.

“Birthday…? Wait, it’s Tuesday?”

“Yep, of course you’d forget. Well, I know you have work today but I’m going to give you a lift so we can chat.”

Takemichi nodded slowly, still feeling the effects of his shit sleep, “Ok, I need to get dressed…why are you here so early? I don’t start work for another two hours.”

“So I can take you out to breakfast on the way, we haven’t hung out in forever, now chop chop!”

 

.

 

So perhaps this was that strange feeling last night, it’s his birthday today. Today is the last birthday he’ll ever have and he doesn’t like how that makes his gut churn. Each day that goes by just feels like a day marked off on the calendar, getting closer and closer to a particular date that is circled in red proclaiming his death. But he doesn’t know that date, all he knows is that it is soon and nearly every single person in his life is completely oblivious to it.

 

“Takemichi! You look fine, no need to stand in front of the mirror for twenty minutes,” Chifuyu called out, attempting to get out the door quicker. 

 

He doesn’t want to leave. He doesn’t want a bunch of people wishing him a ‘happy’ birthday when all he can think about is the guilt that is dragging him down. 

 

“I’ll be out in a second!” He sighed heavily, grabbing a dark blue beanie and pulling it over his hair. He can do this, right? Just smile, smiling makes everyone think you’re okay. Just have breakfast with Chifuyu, work with the Haitani’s, reply to the birthday messages and come back home to drown himself, not in alcohol or he won’t wake up the next morning, but rather by looking through his photo albums of the past so he can reminisce in the great life he has had so far. 

 

.

 

“Naoto, I mean, I know this is a nice gesture, but is it really something Takemichi would like?” Hina asked her brother.

“He really needs a chance to relax and be happy one last time,” Naoto replied.

“Ah fine, so what's the plan for this afternoon?”

“Hanemiya-san is picking him up from work and will come up with a reason for why they’re not driving straight home, and bring him to the property where everyone else will be waiting to surprise him.”

“God we don’t want to give him a heart attack Naoto, also, why would he agree for Kazutora-kun to drive him? Wouldn’t he have driven his own car to the bakery?”

“Matsuno-san drove him to work this morning, so he would need a ride back anyway.”

“Jeez, you’ve really thought this out. Why don’t you put this effort into your job?”

“I totally do!”

“Well you’ve never had a promotion so…”

“So cruel to me. Anyway, I have a really big additional surprise for him too, I think it will help him with how he’s feeling mentally.”

“Oh, what is it?”

“Secret.”

 

.

 

Ahh, I also forgot that I made this so I never ended up putting it in the specific chapter, but here is a Emma coloured panel I made a little while back.

 

Chapter Text

June 25th, 2017

 

He fumbled with his keys, despite the Summer morning heat he was shivering due to the lack of meat on his bones. He finally got the right key to the door and pushed it in, only to find that the door was already unlocked. He cursed silently for one, going through all the trouble for nothing, and two, someone potentially could have broken into his beloved bakery. He turned around even though he knew Chifuyu had already driven off, well he had no one to accompany him into his potentially robbed bakery. 

 

“Good morning Takemichi!” Takemichi jumped in his spot, slowly turning around to see Ran and Rindou standing behind him. 

“Ah-a morning, both of you.”

“Why are you just standing there? Did you forget your key or something?” Ran asked, peering down at him.

“No, I’m just a bit worried. The door was already unlocked when I got here so…” He trailed off, hoping they got his message.

“Well stand back and wait out here Takemichi, we will go in and check it out,” Rindou assured. Yep, it was successful. 

“Thank you so much.” He didn’t really want to get murdered on his birthday. And Ran and Rindou, they could most definitely defend themselves, right? Yeah. 

 

He stood awkwardly at the front door and decided to check his messages, countless birthday wishes that would usually make him feel all warm inside but rather an overwhelming sense of guilt sent involuntary shivers down his spine. 

 

Hina: Rise and shine! This is going to be the best birthday of your life, I just know it. Happy birthday Takemichi! Make sure to take all your medications, drink lots of water and eat accordingly! Love you <3

 

Emma: Happy birthday!! Love you to bits, hope today is awesome for you! Also, if you overwork yourself I will tear you to bits ahaha!

 

Naoto: Hey, Happy Birthday. Unfortunately I’m really busy patrolling today, but I’ll swing by your place tonight. Have a good day and don’t overthink the future!

 

Draken: Happy birthday, please let me know if you don’t feel well. Worried about you dude. I definitely don’t expect it to happen today, but please, soon. Tell the others. Seishu’s been on my case

 

Hakkai: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Have an amazing day!! See ya later!

 

Mitsuya: Happy Birthday Takemichi. I’m not sure what’s been up with you lately, but I hope you have a genuinely good time today. Luna and Mana don’t have your number, but they send birthday wishes too

 

Pah-chin: Oi oi oi! Make sure to eat up today buddy! Can’t be happy if you’re not eating is what I always say! Happy birthday from me and Yumi!

 

Peh-yan: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOUUUU, YOU LOOK LIKE A MONKEY AND SMELL LIKE ONE TOO

 

Souya: Happy Birthday Takemichi, when you have your lunch break, Smiley and I love to have you over at our restaurant. We’ll treat you to a meal

 

Nahoya: Sure Angry already texted but it’s not actually an option aha. See you at lunch time😁 And Happy birthday!

 

Baji: Happy birthday dumbass

 

Kazu: Happy birthday!! I’ll be picking you up from work if you don’t mind, I know Fuyu drove you in so you don’t have a ride. Have a great day and see you this afternoon!

 

Chifuyu: ik I already saw you this morning but I forgot to tell you, we found this stray puppy the other day. Curly black fur and the prettiest blue eyes, he looks a lot like you. We know we’re not supposed to name the animals but we’ve nicknamed him Michi for the time being. I’ll send you a photo later!

 

Inui: Happy birthday Takemichi. Have a great day, I’ll try and drop by sometime today :)

 

Koko: Swear I didn’t forget, Happy birthday. Love to catch up, we haven’t spoken in a while

 

Akkun: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 26, wow, so old. Aha catch you later Michi!

 

Makoto: So you getting any birthday action? Lols, we should get wasted, its been a while hasn’t it.

 

Yamagishi: I bet you have grey hairs already, happy birthday btw

 

Takuya: Should we just put you in the funeral home already? I mean you’re basically a senior citizen now

 

Kakucho: Happy Birthday, make sure to not stress so much

 

Shinichiro: Hey Happy Birthday Take-kun, I know you’ve been really stressed lately and I want you to have one day where you don’t overthink so much!

 

Izana: Yeah Happy birthday, don’t do anything stupid I guess

 

Haru: I heard it was your birthday through Mikey so Happy Birthday, have a great day

 

Yuzuha: Happy birthday you little gremlin! 

 

Senju: Happy birthday from your favourite gremlin

 

Takeomi: Happy birthday….how old are you again?

 

Emi: Hey Take-nii! Hope you didn’t forget about me. I know we haven’t spoken in like forever and I wish I could be back for your birthday but I have a bunch of exams this week :( Don’t grow too old without me! I’ll be back in Tokyo in no time, happy birthday!!

 

It reminded him of how many people in his life cared about him, so many people who were so oblivious. He was glad to see a message from Emi, and he’d definitely have to give her a call, they haven’t spoken in months. And he couldn’t help but notice how there wasn’t a message from Mikey. He knows he shouldn’t expect one after he broke his heart, but Mikey would always send him a happy birthday message at 12 am every year so he could be the first one. But not this year he supposed.

 

“Takemichi, it's all good, there’s no one here. Oh and happy birthday,” Ran said and he walked out.

“How did you know it was my birthday?” He asked in confusion.

Ran then gestured to the very large bouquet of flowers in Rindou’s arms, “Found this on the counter inside with a happy birthday card addressed to you. Why are you working if it’s your birthday?”

“Yeah, I totally would not.”

 

Takemichi was enchanted by the bouquet, tentatively taking it from Rindou’s arms and bringing it close. It was beautiful, a variety of blue and green flowers with the occasional white one to break it up, his favourite colours, and god it smelt amazing. He felt instantly calmer already. He wondered who it was from. He glanced at the card and his eyes widened, he recognised that messy handwriting from anywhere.

 

“Ah, Rindou-kun, could you plug in the mixer and start up the oven. Ran-kun, there is a bag in my desk, that’s the register money, please fill up the register, there is a piece of paper that tells you how much of everything. I just want a few minutes private.”

“You got it boss.”

“Take as long as you need.”

 

He waited until Ran had left his office with the money bag before going in and sitting down in his chair. He gently set down the bouquet onto the desk and looked down at the card in his hands. He hadn’t opened it yet. Perhaps it said nothing, the message simply was as it said on the front, “Happy Birthday Takemichi”. He knew Mikey wrote this, his handwriting was engraved into Takemichi’s mind. And perhaps Mikey didn’t want him to know that he was the one who gave him this because he wrote Takemichi instead of Takemitchy. He hates that. Not how Mikey wrote his name, but the fact that he knows his handwriting. He knows from the times Mikey would write down his recipe ideas as he thought them aloud. He knows from the “anonymous” love letters put in his locker on Valentines (which was always concerning since Mikey went to a different school). He knows from the silly sticky note messages Mikey would always leave somewhere in his house or apartment whenever he came by. He knows Mikey’s favourite colour is actually orange but he never wears it because he doesn’t think it suits his skin tone. He knows that red bean paste dorayaki became his favourite food because it was the first thing Shinichiro bought him from the money he earned from working at the bike repair shop. He knows Mikey really hates flowers because they make his allergies act up and he sneezes non stop. He knows Mikey is in love with him. He’s known since long before his diagnosis, he had literally nothing stopping him from confessing to Mikey. Except his cowardice. His cowardice prevented him from having an incredible life, from having a loving devoted partner by his side for the years before his diagnosis. And with how Mikey is, he would have made Takemichi go to the hospital in the very begining when he thought the tumour was just a nasty headache and perhaps…per fucking haps, the tumour could have been removed and he wouldn’t be dying at 26. Perhaps if he had been a little braver, his life wouldn’t have gone to shit in the matter of a year and a half. 

 

But maybe he should just open the card, yeah?

 

He flicks it open, he doesn’t know if he’s relieved or terrified to see more writing on the inside.

 

‘Dear Takemitchy Takemichi,

 

Happy Birthday! I hope you like the flowers, I don’t really get the hype but I had a feeling you would really like them. I miss you and I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said what I said. You’re an adult- single at that, you can do whatever you like. I was jealous. I know I’ve never said it out loud but I love you more than a friend. I love you more than I’ve loved anyone, more than myself, a 100 times over. I can’t expect you to feel the same as much as I would love for you to. I wish you the best and I really want you to have an amazing day today, you deserve it. You deserve everything. But you don’t deserve me. You deserve someone so much better. I don’t care if it’s not with me, because what I want is for you to be happy. I haven’t seen you really happy in such a long time. 

 

Please, know that I will always care for you and I will always be here if you ever need me. And if you don’t, well, I don’t think I could force myself to go away.

 

Love,

 

Anonymous.’

 

The small card grew wet and flimsy, tears pouring relentlessly down his face and dripping onto the cheap cardboard. Mikey, despite signing off as anonymous, had made it painfully clear that it was him who wrote it. Mikey was wrong though, he was wrong when he said Takemichi deserved someone better. Because there was no one better. Mikey was the one who he loved, the one he loved for so long. And he will be the last person Takemichi will ever love. 

 

“Boss?” He let the card fall out of his hands and to the desktop, he didn’t bother to wipe his eyes before turning to Rindou who stood at the doorway.

“Yeah Rindou-kun?”

“You all good?”

“No…but it’s alright. That’s just how life is sometimes. I’ll be out in just a second.”

Rindou nodded and opened his mouth to talk but Takemichi cut him off, “Please, I’ll be fine Rindou-kun.”

“Alright then.”

 

.

 

Inui stayed true to his message and ended up coming by not too long after open, Ran had basically shoved him into a chair with the other telling him he didn’t need to work so hard on his birthday.

 

“Inui-kun, how have you been?”

“Ah really good yeah. Things have been going well with me and Ken too. How about you?”

“Same old, same old. Just focusing on the bakery, the market is really shooting up at the moment so I might have to increase the prices of some of my items.”

“Rightfully so, don’t feel bad about it. You’re selling pieces of heaven way too cheap anyway,” Inui assured, making him chuckle. 

“So you and Draken-kun?” He raised a suggestive eyebrow, “You guys got an official label yet?”

“Um, we haven’t actually discussed that yet but…we did say ‘I love you’ to each other!”

“No way! I’m so happy for you! Took long enough.”

“Yeah, but I feel like we just took a big step in our relationship. I have really high hopes.”

“As you should, Draken-kun is a really good guy and anyone can see how much he loves you.”

Inui knew he was probably stepping onto uneasy territory knowing how Mikey feels about Takemichi but, “So what about you? I’m honestly surprised how someone as great as you has stayed single ever since Hinata, unless…” he trailed off.

“Um, well I haven’t been in any relationships since Hina, that’s true. I mean I’ve slept with a few people but nothing serious,” He replied truthfully.

“Okay, but do you like anyone? Any crushes?”

“You know, don’t you?”

“Know what?”

“About Mikey.”

“What about Mikey? Care to elaborate?” Inui asked, acting oblivious.

“That Mikey likes me, you know that, don't you?”

“Well yes, everyone knows. But what about you? Is the feeling perhaps mutual?”

“I’m telling you now Inui-kun, it literally would not matter. Mikey and I can’t be together. Now, as the director of my birthday, I demand we talk about something else.”

Chapter Text

June 25th, 2017

 

The rest of the work day went along as pretty much usual, he did his best to prevent his mind from wandering back to the letter and bouquet. He left Rindou to make some pastry by himself and the latter did an impressive job, he just had to work on his layering. Ran seemed to be becoming more civil and patient with customers which was another plus. Nahoya ambushed him at lunchtime and was basically dragging him to his white van which looked extremely suspicious but he ended up having a delicious spicy free meal and was entertained by the egg juggling tricks Souya had learnt. The day had actually gone a lot better than he thought so far, yes the guilt was ever-present, but he was glad that he had a lot of people to talk to. He wasn’t alone. 

 

He was safely returned to the bakery around 1:30 by Souya and he continued on working. Hina dropped by for a few minutes to give him a tight hug and a kiss on the cheek before moving along saying she had somewhere to be. Later in the afternoon he ended up in his office once more since a Tuesday afternoon wasn’t a particularly busy time and the brothers could handle it just fine. He recently bought a nice journal, it was thick- many pages, and a good quality leather cover. The first few pages had already been filled out, it was his recipes. He knew his memory was slowly depleting and he didn’t want the recipes that had brought so many smiles and praises to die with him. So he had begun writing out as many as he could remember, with all the special touches and ingredients that made them so different. He even pulled out his rusty drawing skills and made labelled diagrams so whoever this book ended up with would have an easy time understanding his instructions (he hoped that perhaps Rindou would step up to the job since he had been doing so incredibly well in his training and he seemed to genuinely enjoy it, but of course, this job was supposed to only be a temporary thing for Ran and Rindou, he couldn’t expect them to stay). 

 

He teared his eyes away from the filled pages and shook his aching hand when he heard a knock on his office door.

 

“Come in.”

Ran walked in, his arms behind his back untying his apron, “We just closed up and we cleaned up everything and Rindou is just about finished with the dishes now. We didn’t want you doing anything like that on your birthday.”

“You two are the sweetest, thank you. And I didn’t even realise how late it was, I guess I was so focused on this. You can head off, see you next shift.”

“Alright, and happy birthday again. Also, there’s someone here, he said he’s picking you up.”

“Ah Kazu-kun, yes, I’ll be out in just a minute. Goodbye Ran-kun.”

“Bye.” The older man waved and tipped an imaginary hat before leaving the room. 

 

Takemichi collected his things, took off his own apron and met Kazutora in the entryway. Kazutora pulled him into a hug immediately, he was basically vibrating from how much and quickly he was moving. 

“Happy birthday! Happy birthday! Happy birthday! Happy birthday! Take-kun! It’s a great day!” He exclaimed.

“Ah yes, happy birthday to me. Why are you so excited?” 

“Why can’t I be happy to see my best friend?” Kazutora played off, he was so excited for the surprise. He was awaiting the shocked expression on Takemichi’s face and how he would smile so much to see everyone there in person. Other than Emma and Hina’s wedding a few weeks prior, it was very difficult to have everyone in one place at once. But Takemichi had done so much for everybody since their teen years and they knew he wasn’t feeling the best lately and they wanted only the best for him. Naoto especially had pushed for it, saying it was something really special. 

“I guess so.”

“Also, I hope you don’t mind. But I want to take you out to dinner tonight, there’s this really nice and secluded place outside the city.” Kazutora said, lying well and easily. 

“I’m so disappointed, you have two fiance’s and yet you want to take me out to dinner. I must say you are quite the greedy one Kazu-kun!” Takemichi joked, pinching the older man’s cheeks.

“Well for one as beautiful as thee, I supposeth I can forget my own concubines,” Kazutora replied in a broken English posh accent. 

“You can barely introduce yourself in English and yet you can speak Shakespearan?” Takemichi asked.

“Yeah yeah, whatever, we gotta head off! I made a reservation!”

“I’m not dressed for a fancy restaurant, can we drop by my apartme-”

“Nope! It’s not fancy, it’s super relaxed. Now we gotta go!”

 

.

 

It was a long drive, but it was easy to keep conversation with Kazutora though, since they were so close. Although he could sense something was off. Not bad in the way he thought Kazutora was going to murder him and dump his body where no one would find it, but rather a key factor was benig kept from him. But he ignored the feeling, Kazutora was doing something nice for him, he didn’t need to overthink everything. 

 

It was nice. He hadn’t been outside of the busy city in a very long time since the hospital he went to and his bakery and apartment were all in the city and he barely had any time outside of those three places. It was comforting of sorts to watch as the clusters of buildings lessened and the spaces of green grew. 

 

Entering six o’clock they finally appeared to have reached their supposed destination. Kazutora pulled into an extravagant driveway which led to an impressive villa. Kazutora looked around quickly, thank god everyone had listened to the plan and had parked their cars around the back so Takemichi wouldn’t get suspicious.

 

“Kazu-kun…you said it wasn’t something fancy…this looks hella fancy.”

“Yeah it does look that way but I promise it’s really nice and relaxing. Great food and drinks and get a whole room to yourself. It’s great,” more and more lies kept babbling out of Kazutora’s mouth but Takemichi seemed to not look so tense afterwards. 

“Um, alright.”

 

As soon as they both got out of the car, Kazutora looped his arm around Takemichi’s, keeping him firm by his side. He could barely contain his eagerness but he couldn’t be acting so suspicious, it was a surprise after all. He had sent a message to the group chat excluding Takemichi to say they were here just before he got out of the car. So everyone should be in position.

 

Kazutora led the way to the front door, his arm still wrapped around Takemichi’s and reached for the door handle. He contemplated whether he should creep it open or swing it open quickly.

 

“Kazu-kun, are you going to open the door?”

“Ah yeah!” He said loudly, giving notice to everyone inside before swinging the door open. 

 

Takemichi was suddenly overwhelmed by bright lights and many shouts.

 

“HAPPY BIRTHDAY TAKEMICHI!” Was the common chorus. 

 

He finally took in the sight in front of him, all his friends were right there. They were smiling and many had gifts and balloons in their hands. He turned his gaze to Kazutora who was smiling sheepishly.

 

“You like your surprise?” He asked eagerly.

There were so many eyes on him, and yes he loved them all but he really just wanted this day to be over. But he couldn’t be selfish, it took a lot of work to get everyone together. He let a smile stretch over his lips, one as genuine as he could muster and turned back to his friends, “Thank you so much everybody. I really wanted to see you all together again.”

 

He was suddenly taken from Kazutora’s grasp by Atsushi who dragged him over to where the rest of the original Mizo Mid guys were. Makoto and Yamagishi already had drinks in their hands and Takuya was rummaging through his pants pockets.

 

“Look who I stole,” Atsushi said, gesturing to Takemichi.

“It’s been ages since we’ve all been in the same vicinity as each other, life really does get in the way,” Yamagishi added before taking a sip of his beer. 

“Damn Takuya, are ya digging for gold there?” Makoto exclaimed.

“I’m sure I have a hair tie in my pocket, I just can’t find it. It’s pretty humid in here so I want to tie my hair up,” Takuya grumbled, half of his arm shoved into his pocket in an attempt to find it. 

“Why didn’t you tie it up before?” Atsushi asked.

“Because the Shibas are that bloody rich I thought there would be decent air-conditioning in here.”

“Wait, Shibas?” Takemichi asked.

“Yeah, Yuzuha and Hakkai offered this place. Apparently their family has many villas and penthouses all over Japan,” Yamagishi replied.

“That's…so nice of them. And it’s probably a bit warm because there are so many people in one room.”

“Ah that makes sense.”

“Oh and Takuya, here,” Takemichi offered a hair tie to his friend, remembering he had one in his pocket.

“Thanks, you’re a lifesaver.”

“Why the hell would you have a hair tie? I mean, there’s literally so many other people in this room that I would expect to have one, but you?” Makoto questioned. The dumbass probably thought Takemichi having a hair tie meant he had a partner with longer hair.

“Oh, well Rindou-kun has longer hair and sometimes he forgets to bring one. No one wants to find purple hair in their cupcake.”

“I completely forgot the Haitians were working there, I haven’t been in for so long.” Yamagishi sighed, he was a very popular journalist that constantly had him all over Japan to report on anything that may be occurring. 

“They’re surprisingly very good workers. I even have Rindou-kun helping me out in the kitchen.” ‘They even took me to the hospital when I passed out.’

“I guess snapping joints isn’t the only thing he’s good at. But anyway, let’s get you a drink, birthday boy!”

 

Takemichi thought that maybe tonight won’t be so bad. One last chance to have fun with everybody. He accepted the beer Makoto handed him to not appear suspicious and took a couple fake sips. He saw Mitsuya and Hakkai approaching him, Hakkai’s arm wrapped around Mitsuya’s shoulder, looking like the sweetest couple. 

 

“Happy Birthday Takemichi. Are you enjoying the party so far?” Mitsuya asked.

“Ah yeah, it’s nice to spend time with everyone, though these bastards stole me away from everyone,” he joked, gesturing to the guys behind him.

“It’s all good, it’s impossible to hide from us anyway.”

“Taka-chan and I wanted to give you our gifts now, might as well beat the crowd,” Hakkai said.

“Ah thank you so much guys,” But another downside, receiving gifts he knows will end up in boxes pretty soon, left to collect dust.

 

Mitsuya handed him a bag, he looked inside and his eyes widened, there was several beanies of different colours and patterns.

 

“I hope you like them. I noticed you’ve been wearing beanies a lot lately so I knit some for you. I promise they’re not itchy ones either. I tested them on Hakkai’s sensitive scalp.”

“It’s true, they’re so soft.”

 

Takemichi smiled, a gift he could actually make use of before he passed. It was also always nice to receive something handmade. He loved how even now that Mistuya was quite wealthy, he never stopped his childhood tradition of making something for someone’s birthday. 

 

“I love them, thank you.”

“And they’re much more fashionable than the ones you’ve been wearing, by the way,” Mitsuya added.

“Thanks for the criticism, I really appreciate it.”

“Always.”

 

.

 

Just about everyone got around to greeting him personally and offering a gift. They all now sat on a table in the corner, he tried to not think about them too much. The only person he hadn’t spoken to was Mikey, he knew he was here, multiple had told him and he had also caught a glimpse of him when they surprised him with their ‘Happy Birthday’, but he hadn’t actually seen the other since then and it had been about two hours. He learnt through Yuzuha and Senju that Naoto and Kazutora had been the ones to organise the party. He had a feeling Naoto started it and roped Kazutora in, but he wasn’t mad at them. He was actually having a decent time. Sure, he had been nursing one drink in his hand the entire time, it was still half full and pretty much warm but he didn’t want anyone to offer him a new one. His recent large intakes of alcohol the past month has been really damaging to his health, his last appointment told him that his liver was barely getting by. So all he had to do was start acting drunk when everyone else did. He had already thanked Kazutora for helping plan it, but he couldn’t find Naoto.

 

“Hey Hina, do you know where Naoto went?” He asked.

“Oh, he left about an hour ago, said he was picking something up, he should be back soon.”

“Okay, thank you.”

 

Takemichi continued on, venturing to find Mikey, he wasn’t going to be a coward about one thing tonight. He wanted to talk to Mikey, obviously he wasn’t going to confess, neither his feelings nor his illness, but so that they can be normal friends again. He missed the impromptu visits and spam text messages. He missed making a mental reminder to make more dorayaki whenever he had a feeling Mikey was going to show up. He missed him. 

 

“He’s sitting in the garden,” Shinichiro spoke, startling him.

“Hu-huh?”

“Manjirou. You’re looking for him? He’s in the garden. You should go to him before he gets himself wasted.”

“Ah, thank you Shinichiro-san.”

“No problem.”

 

He moved past the tispy crowd and out the side door to where he assumed the garden to be. Sure enough, he saw the back of Mikey’s small figure sitting upon a bench surrounded by flower bushes. He approached it quietly and slowly, so as to not alert him. And perhaps he was giving himself time to escape before Mikey saw him. 

 

“Stop sneaking, whoever you are. You stood on a very loud branch minutes ago,” Manjirou muttered.

“Ah Mikey-kun, sorry, I promise it wasn’t my intent to sneak,” He replied (even though it totally was). 

Manjirou turned after recognising Takemichi’s voice, he didn’t expect him, but at the same time, he hoped he would find him, “Takemitchy…”

“Mind if I take a seat?” He asked hesitantly.

“N-no, not at all. Go ahead.”

 

Takemichi walked around to the other side and slowly sat down beside Mikey, his arms wrapped around himself in a poorly subtle way to keep himself warm. They both looked straight ahead, not at each other.

 

“I’m sorry,” Mikey said.

“For what?”

“For getting angry at you when I saw you with Hanma. I had no right.”

“It’s okay, I understand.”

Mikey’s eyes widened, but he didn’t turn to face Takemichi, “You understand? You know about my-”

“Hanma was a bad guy to us when we were teens, I understand why you’d be mad to see me with him,” Takemichi cut off frantically, realising what he said would make Mikey think he knew of his feelings for him. 

“Oh yeah, obviously. But I can’t be mad at you, and I’m not anyway. You’re an adult, you can spend your time with…whoever you want.”

“I’ve missed you Mikey. You are one of my best friends,” he cringed saying that, hoping it wasn’t visible in the dark. Friendzoning hurt himself too. “And I don’t want me hanging out with someone who I also consider a friend to get between our friendship. We’ve known each other for 12 years now, I want to enjoy what we have for as long as possible.” Not very long now. 

“Me too. I missed you too.”

 

.

 

Naoto turned to Ms Sato just before he opened the door to the villa, “I think everyone’s been drinking so I apologise in advance for their rowdiness.”

“Oh it’s all good, I don’t mind a good old whiskey myself.” She replied, smiling to herself. Naoto had for sure still felt very awkward around the woman, she just had an eerie feeling to her. But he couldn’t judge and he had to remain respectful.

“Ah, I’m really excited. I know you haven’t seen Takemichi in quite some time but I really hope you too can become close again,” they were never close in the first place “I think he’d really like to be around a family member again after all this time.”

“I can’t wait to see the look on his face.” Ms Sato said. 

 

Naoto smiled and opened the door, a lot of people turned their attention to them. Most had confused expressions as to who the older woman beside Naoto was.

 

“Hey everyone! Ah Baji-san, please turn the music down, thank you. Everyone, I want you to meet Ms Sato Jun, she is Takemichi’s mother.”

 

Kazutora dropped his drink, thankfully it was in a plastic cup so there was no shattered glass. He stared wide-eyed, finally meeting the woman that led to Takemichi sobbing in his arms so many nights. The one who left the very faint scars on Takemichi’s wrists and left Takemichi pretty much unable to run due to how many times she had sprained his ankles and pushed him down the stairs. The woman who left Takemichi unable to accept his sexuality for years. This was her. And Naoto just obviously brought her here. He scanned the room frantically, he sighed in relief when he couldn’t see Takemichi. But he turned serious again. Some of the people had gone to greet her, he was terrified. Everyone in this room was gay in some way and she was very homophobic, he doubted she changed much in the past 10 years. He marched towards Naoto and grabbed his shoulder,

 

“Naoto, I really need to talk to you.”

“Um, okay. I’ll be right back Ms Sato.” He said before getting dragged out of the room into the kitchen by Kazutora.

“Hanemiya-san, what is going on-”

“Are you out of your goddamn mind?!”

“H-hey, what’s the problem?”

“The fucking problem? Why the fuck would you bring that monster here? There’s a reason Take-kun cut off contact with her,” Kazutora seethed, struggling to keep himself from going out there and slapping that wretched woman right across her gnarly face.

“What do you mean? What happened?”

“She’s a horrible person Naoto. And you know what you just did? You put an extremely homophobic woman in filled with fucking homosexuals!

 

Naoto’s eyes widened, fuck . It made so much sense why Takemichi never spoke about her. Why he ran away from the house he shared with her. Why what she said about him hanging out with boys and how happy she had been when he started dating his sister. It clicked and he realised how bad he fucked up. 

 

“You need to get rid of her right now before Take-kun sees her and she figures out every damn person standing around her likes their own damn gender! Because if I do it, I’m going to prison.”

 

Naoto ran out of the kitchen and back into the living room where Ms Sato was sitting, Hakkai, an excentric gay, on one side of her and Yuzuha, a raging lesbian, on the other. God damn it, they were the most obvious with their sexualities!

 

“M-Ms Sato, can I talk to you outside? Please just for a second,” he pleaded.

“Can I ask why, officer? This lovely young girl was about to tell me about her wedding. I’m sure it must have had to be quite a handsome man since you are quite the catch, what was your name again dear? Yolina?”

“Ah Yuzuha, ma’am, but actually-”

“Ms Sato! Please, just come with me.”

“Naoto, why are you being so disrespectful?” Hina questioned.

 

.

 

“There seems to be a ruckus going on in there,” Manjirou observed after hearing some unintelligible yelling from inside the villa. 

“We should probably go check on them,” Takemichi offered.

“Yeah, we should.”

 

The two stood up and made their way along the stone pathway back to the villa and walked inside. The yelling suddenly become clearer and the scene surprised them. They could see the back of someone unfamiliar and Naoto urging them along but they seemed defiant. Did someone uninvited sneak in? Who could it be?

 

“Hey what’s going on?” He called out.

 

They turned around and Takemichi stilled. He couldn’t move. He was paralysed. He couldn’t breathe, he couldn’t talk, he couldn’t think. The wretched woman smiled and everything. Everything she ever said, ever did, played on repeat through his mind. His legs gave out and he crashed to his knees. Everyone yelling and Kazutora’s screams at his mother were blocked out, like he was underwater and some small child had just dived into the deep end and their family was shouting for them. 

 

 

He knew it. He knew there had to be something, something that would ruin this day. And here it was, his own personal nightmare that he has been doing his best to avoid for the past decade. Someone was tugging on him, another two sets of hands were trying to pull him up. He had no idea who it was, all he could see was that smile that had haunted his nights even to this day. 



 

 

 

 

Is this what hell feels like?

Chapter Text

June 25th, 2017

 

When Takemichi collapsed to his knees, completely unresponsive to everyone’s yells and touches, Mikey had almost never felt this terrified. The only thing beating it was the time Emma was in a hit and run accident that nearly shattered her arm. He didn’t understand what was happening, he didn’t know who this random woman was, he didn’t know why Takemichi collapsed when he saw her, he didn't know what to do. Mitsuya and Pah-chin are beside him within seconds, each grabbing one side of Takemichi and lifting him up. That’s when he finally sees Takemichi’s face, he’s not unconscious, which shocked him, his eyes are wide open, unblinking… blank but yet overflowing with indecipherable emotions. 

 

Nobody knows what to do, Baji and Chifuyu are gripping tightly onto Kazutora who keeps trying to swing at the older woman. He doesn’t know what's going on. Naoto grabs Ms Sato by her wrist and drags her out of the villa, any respect he had for her was shoved out the window. 

 

“Tell me the truth right now, what did you do to Takemichi for him to react like that?” He questioned, he doesn’t give a crap about how loud he is anymore. He hates this woman and he hates himself for not trusting his instincts.

“Nothing the brat didn’t deserve. Forgot the little bastard even existed not too long after he ran away, but I’m glad you brought me here officer. Because seeing an expression like that on his little face is something I’ve missed,” The hag doesn’t get a chance to smirk at her success because her head whipped to the side after Naoto slapped her. 

“You little shit!” She screamed, “I will ruin you!”

“Try me you wretched wrench, just try me and I will press a child abuse case against you.”

 

She sneered, wrenching her wrist from his grasp and walking away, Naoto doesn’t give her the attention to watch her walk away, presumably to call herself a taxi. He hasn’t the strength to keep himself standing any longer and he lets himself fall to the step to the front door.

 

“I’m a fucking idiot.” He muttered to himself, holding his head in his hands. 

 

He felt terrible, all he wanted was to surprise Takemichi and help him. Yeah, he surprised him, and he also probably just traumatised him. He knew there was something off about her but he let his dumbass overlook it. He wasn’t extremely close with Takemichi until near the end of highschool, before that he was mostly just Hina’s little brother who looked three years younger than he was. He knew from his sister when Takemichi still lived in his family home that he was the only one ever there, Takemichi cooked for himself and everyone else, he had mentioned his mother a few times, but only ever to explain that she wasn’t there because she worked a lot. And when he was 16 and moved to that smaller apartment, it was because ‘he didn’t want to live somewhere so big anymore’ and that his mother was okay with him living alone. Thinking back on that now, he knows that it was Takemichi’s escape. His escape from his abusive mother. And he just shoved her in his face. 

 

.

 

Takemichi had been moved to the couch, he had yet to respond to anyone’s questions, simply silently blinking every so often. Those who were aware of his cancer were especially worried and Kazutora’s fiance’s couldn’t understand why he was seconds away from attempting murder. 

 

“Everyone, quit crowding ‘round him!” Takeomi commanded.

“Takemichi, hey…can you hear me?” Hina asked, gently rubbing his arm.

“He’s probably dissociated, can’t fucking blame him,” Kazutora snaped, wrenching his arms from Baji’s hold.

“Do you know something? Because you were about to hurt Ms Sato,” Chifuyu questioned.

All eyes were on him, he’s protected Takemichi’s secret for so long, but no one is going to forget about this, “The cunt was abusive,” he muttered, “I figured it out and confronted him when I was sixteen. Helped him get out of that hellhole and into that apartment…I had no idea Naoto was bringing her.”

Mikey stood up abruptly, Shinichiro did just as quickly, “I know you’re angry Manjirou, but you’re not going after an old lady.”

“Not that stupid. I’m going after Tachibana.”

“Ok, that’s enough! Naoto had no idea, no one else did. Right now, we just need to help Takemichi …Kazutora-kun, do you know how to…bring him out of this state?” Hina exclaimed.

“I can try, but I don’t want to just yet.”

“Why?”

“Because he’s not feeling anything right now, no pain. Seeing her would have been really traumatising for him and it’s his brain’s coping mechanism. I can try soon, dissociating for too long isn’t healthy,” Kazutora explained, knowing from personal experiences. 

“How did we never know?” Kakucho asked, he thought back to when they were kids. Takemichi always had marks on him, he would always say they were from fights with older kids. 

“Takemitchy’s a really good liar,” Draken said.

 

.

 

Naoto felt hands graze his back, startling him. Whoever it was then sat down next to him, it was Hina. She sighed softly and rested her head on his shoulder.

 

“Don’t blame yourself.”

“How can I not?”

“You didn’t know. You were trying to do something nice for him.”

“I shouldn’t have done it regardless, it’s not something he’s ever made clear he wanted. I just wanted to be some saviour.”

“Well I’m not going to lie, that is true. But I know you had good intentions. It’s been difficult, knowing this whole time about his…y’know,” she didn’t say it, because who knows who might be listening, “and you just wanted to make him happy. Wait a bit, then apologise to him, give him a few days.”

“Who knows how long he has left Hina, he stopped doing the chemo-”

“Naoto,” she gave him a look, to be careful of his word choices.

“He stopped all that, who knows if he even takes his meds regularly. He could leave at any time. And the amount of stress I just put him through, what if I-’

“Stop thinking like that. He will be fine…he…he still has some time left.”

Chapter Text

June 25th, 2017

 

His hands were buried deep within his jacket pockets, the right one clutching onto the custom necklace Mikey had made for Takemichi. Hina returned with a distraught Naoto by her side not too long ago, everyone had now moved to different rooms in the villa to process the situation while Kazutora was alone with Takemichi in the living room trying to bring him back to reality. 

 

“I always had a feeling,” Mitsuya muttered into the silence. Several heads turned in his direction, everyone was tired and trying to sober up but it had caught everyone’s attention.

“About-”

“The abuse,” he cut Nahoya off. “But I was never sure, so I kept quiet about it. I’m an idiot.”

“There’s nothing you could have done Taka-chan,” Hakkai reassured.

“He’s right Mitsuya, there’s nothing a bunch of teenagers could have done,” Draken added.

“But Kazutora could help?” Mikey questioned, he just didn’t get it. How could someone as mentally unstable as Kazutora Hanemiya help someone? Don’t get him wrong, Kazutora was a good friend of his, always had been par the times he didn’t talk to him when he nearly lashed out at Baji and Shinichiro during his less controlled state, but he wasn’t going to deny his issues.

“Most of us who knew him earlier knew Kazutora was being abused, physically by his father and emotionally by his mother,” Baji started, “he probably was able to pick up on the signs that we couldn’t since he had experienced stuff like that first hand.”

“Exactly, and we couldn’t do anything to help Kazutora either other than be good friends,” Pah-chin said. 

“Some people just shouldn’t be parents,” Takeomi murmured, pushing some stray hairs out of his face. Senju glanced at him quickly and her grip on Yuzuha’s hand tightened subconsciously. 

“Uh yeah, not everyone has a picture perfect upbringing, but there is nothing we can do now either. We’re all adults who are in control of our lives. Takemichi is in control of his life, okay? He isn’t being hurt anymore,” Senju explained.

 

Several people in the room tensed, exchanging secret glances. The other occupants of the room were still too intoxicated to notice, but Shinichiro did. He knew something was up, from Takemichi’s secrecy and the constant hushed whispers between Hina and Naoto. He knew they knew something. And from the looks of it, Emma too. But what could it be? What could be the thing to prevent Takemichi having a relationship with Mikey and always looking like he was about to collapse?

 

.

 

Kakucho knew that Izana didn’t like many people. It took a very long time for someone to earn his trust and respect, much more for Izana to actually take a liking to them. Izana had always been indifferent towards Takemichi, not particularly liking him but neither disliking him. However, since Emma and Hina’s wedding, being an absolute success with the cake Takemichi made, Izana had become quite concerned about him. There had been multiple times since the wedding that he had remarked to him that he was worried about Takemichi because of his sickly appearance. Kakucho cared for Takemichi very much, obviously, but it still felt strange to see Izana so worked up over finding out about Takemichi being abused when he was younger since he never really knew him too well. Kakucho personally was beating himself up, he knows he shouldn’t, because he wasn’t there for the vast majority of Takemichi’s childhood, but he can’t but still wonder about the times Takemichi would come to school covered in bandages and bruises and would just say it was due to fights with older kids. The two were in the kitchen and Izana kept muttering under his breath.

 

“Izana-”

“Bloody hate child abusers. So many of the kids back in the orphanage had shitty parents like that. Hate those bastards, adults hitting kids, fucking cowards.”

“I know but there is nothing we can do. Takemichi moved out at 16, so he escaped the abuse a decade ago.”

“Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. God why isn’t he a dick?”

“Pardon?”

“I was treated like shit at the orphanage and I’m a shitty person-”

“Izana no-”

“How can he be such a good kind-hearted person? Most of the people I know who were abused ended up crappy themselves, ‘cause it messes with ya.”

“Takemichi is really strong, he always has been. And I’m thankful for that, otherwise he wouldn’t be the person he is.”

“How bad did that hag treat him for him to completely break down and dissociate the moment he saw her? I’m fucking mad Kakucho, I don’t like finding out someone I care about was hurt like that.”

“You think I’m not?”

 

.

 

Kazutora gently rubbed Takemichi’s back, not wanting to make any drastic movements that could startle the younger man. 

 

“Take-kun…come on…everything is okay…you’re safe,” he whispered slowly. There was no response, his eyes still slowly blinking staring straight ahead, heavy drawn out breaths. 

“I’m so sorry this happened…we can talk…we can hold each other while we cry like we used to…she’s gone now…it’s just me and you.”

 

There was a sudden spike in Takemichi’s breathing, so quickly like he had just been pulled above the surface after being submerged. His body shook and it was like he was blinking a thousand times a second.

 

“Take-kun!”

 

His head snapped to Kazutora who was sitting beside him. He should feel glad, happy. But a million things are racing through his mind right now. Reminding him of the situation, he stood up, obviously way too quickly for his body to handle because he stumbled slightly but was able to catch himself before he fell. 

 

“Hey, don’t move to quickly.”

 

He didn’t want to hear another word from him. His mother had been here. He knew that Kazutora and Naoto had been the ones to plan this stupid surprise party after several people told him. Kazutora. Kazutora knew, he knew, he was there after all those nights of sobbing and hyperventilating. He was there. And yet he still did this, his heart felt like it was gaping at the betrayal. He squeezed his eyes shut, he couldn’t even look at him. He knew Kazutora was still talking, trying to comfort him, he had no right after what he did. But he just drowned it all out and walked away, out the front door onto the driveway, swaying slightly with each step. There were hast footsteps following him, he just couldn’t leave him alone, huh?

 

“Take-kun, hey, talk to me. She’s gone now, everything is oka-”

“No, I’m not okay,” he seethed, turning around and glaring at the person he trusted the most. His fists shook and Kazutora just stood there looking at him with that stupid confused expression. He hated it. He had never felt hatred before, but now he did. He trusted Kazutora with his secret, Kazutora comforted him all those nights and now…

“Why couldn’t you just listen to me, Kazutora?”

Kazutora’s eyes widened, “Kazutora?” he whispered, Takemichi hadn’t called him that since before they got to know each other. He didn’t understand why Takemichi was so mad at him.

“I specifically told you I didn’t want anything for my birthday! But you went behind my back and helped Naoto make my mother show up! You knew! You knew how she was and you still did that!” His body shook with each word, he was seething, he was so angry right now. Years of pain, trauma and scars resurfaced all at once because of him.

“Take-kun…I-I swear, I had no idea your mother was coming! You have to believe me!” But Takemichi wasn’t listening, he just drowned it all out and kept walking.

“Leave me alone, Kazutora.”