Shouldn't I have noticed it?

The way his breath was slightly different than mine, sometimes getting faster or slower, but never his heart beat beating at the same time as mine; the way his face was paler than it usually was, blending in with the winter snow falling down around us; and also the way that he was nervous, forcing smiles here and there as if hiding his own secret… something that he didn't want me to know. Me, being the older, stronger, bigger one here, should have known; should have done something. Instead, my eyes only moved, watching as his chest would sometimes move a little too fast, and sometimes so slow that it was hard for me to catch any breathing at all.

If there was something, anything that I knew, it was that Taro was strong, no matter what.

He was the type who was small, weak, and fragile image, but had the force and defense of a brick wall, blocking every harmful thing coming his way. I couldn't even count how many difficult times or how many difficult things that he's gone through, it's probably a number that I'm not able to count up to without the help of a calculator. It pained me to see him in hard times, but I knew it was a pain that I could never compare to his own. All I could do was hold him, comfort him, catch his tears… knowing that it wasn't enough.

There were times that I tried to do something for him. Times that-for his sake-would cut into my own time, but I would not care. I would just help him…for his sake alone.

I want to help you, Taro, but how?

Every time I try to help you, I fail.

I fail miserably.

I know no one can fix your pain, Taro, but please, just let me try… let me try to help you. I want to fix you; I want to hold you…

And now, as we are sitting together on the bench, in the park, in the middle of winter…you smile. What can I do but smile back?

You lean your head against my shoulder, sighing, as if it has been a long, tiring day and you just wanted to sleep. You wanted to sleep… for eternity.

I take your head in my hand and silently lay you on my lap, so that I am staring down at you and you are staring up at me.

It isn't long before you finally talk, your voice barely able to reach my ears; your voice is cracked and dry.

It stabs my heart.

You can't even open your eyes anymore.

Your breath hitting my face due to closeness soon stops, and I feel nothing but the cold air around me closing in. I can't seem to stop trembling, realizing that I lost you.

Your final words are still whispering inside of my head…

"I love you, Masayuki,"

It was then that I felt cold running down my face. It has been a while since this stabbing feeling in my chest has occurred. I was never able to get used to it…

"I love you too…" I know you are not able to hear me.

It was too late.

Since I can't stop the cold running down my face, I decided to just hold you and let it out.

And so I cried.