As Atobe turned the handle, an unusual weight forced the door inward and Jirou toppled over at his feet.

While it wasn't particularly unusual for people to be falling at his feet, it was usually restrained to the metaphorical happenstance as opposed to the actual.

'Ah, Atobe-san, what are you doing here?' Jirou yawned.

Jirou was exasperating at the best of times, at the worst of times… well he didn't have an adjective ready for that. 'What do you mean, what am I doing here? This is my house.'

'Of course it's your house, Atobe-sama, whose house did you suppose it was?' Jirou rubbed the sleep from his eyes. 'I meant that it's seven-fifteen. You're going to be late for practice.'

While Atobe was reluctant to admit defeat in any situation, he'd come to, over the years, gracefully avoid addressing the strange logic of Akutagawa Jirou.

'Yes, I will be late for practice, but you,' he grumbled helping Jirou to his feet, 'needn't be.'

Jirou looked at him blankly, his jaw slack. 'You're going to be late?'

'Yes, very late,' Atobe replied.

'Very late?' Jirou parroted.

Atobe sighed, feeling somewhat exasperated. 'I'm not going to school today, so yes, I will be very late.'

Jirou's bag met the floor in a loud thump. 'You're not going to school? But you love school!'

It occurred to Atobe that this was possibly the most surprised he'd seen Jirou since his game with Fuji Syusuke at regionals. Then it occurred to him that his mental meanderings had allowed Jirou enough time to recover, remove his shoes and pad down the hallway towards the lounge.

Rule one of managing Jirou, never allow him enough time to think for himself. He should know, he made up the rules.

'Jirou, you're going to be late for school,' he followed the other boy down the hall, rubbing his head.

'Are you sick, Atobe?'


'Did you not finish an assignment? Because I have my notes here you could—'

'I finished all my assignments, I've even had them couriered to the school. Nothings wrong, Jirou.' He sat down on the couch beside the other boy, and rested his head. 'I'm just tired. You should go…'

Jirou shook his head, blonde hair flying. 'I'll stay here with you.'


'You're sick.'

'No, I said I wasn't…'

'You're sick, and I'll stay here with you. I can't go to school without you… so, I'm sick too.'

He was a little surprised, and more than a little confused. 'Why can't you go to school without me?'

Jirou shrugged. 'I wake up in strange places… Shishido draws on me and Mukahi sticks post-it notes to my head… but don't yell at them.'

Atobe frowned, which he generally didn't like to do. There would definitely be yelling.

'You're going to yell,' Jirou muttered.

'Just a little.'

'So,' he asked, resting his head in Atobe's lap. 'Now that we are sick, why aren't you going to school?'

Atobe drew his hand across Jirou's head, fingers trailing playfully through the blonde curls. 'Didn't feel like it,' he replied.

Jirou nose wrinkled, his eyebrows drawing together in thought. 'Because it's your birthday?'

Sometimes Atobe would forget. The disarming grin, the constant sleepiness, he would often forget how clever Jirou was.

'No… because I'm sick.'

Jirou settled farther into his lap with a sigh, 'me too, Atobe.'