THE REPLACEMENT

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It cut into him deeply, like a knife that had been sharpened just for that one, specific purpose. It hadn't come as a shock. For months now e had been feeling the cold metal of the blade slide across his belly, scraping at his ribs. It was a metaphor he knew, but it felt like he had just been stabbed.

And because he'd known it was coming – he had known for so long it had made him sick – the pain was even worse, intense because it had been drawn out.

It's never a good idea to become involved with your best friend, in any sense of the word. It's never a good idea to compromise that support – because if you do, you'll find that when you need it, it won't be there anymore.

It wasn't that Kaoru was sulking, or even that he was depressed; he just had no one he could talk to.

So the boy sat on his bed, the thoughts running through his mind gathering speed, and becoming more painful each time they circled his brain. It was a small thing really; no one else would even understand why it had hurt him so much.

And Kaoru knew, deep down that he wasn't upset with her. He wanted to be, oh God he wanted to be – but she hadn't done anything wrong. And it was more than that – she was his friend. It was him.

Kaoru knew Haruhi didn't have strong feelings towards Hikaru, knew that she only viewed him as a friend.

He curled up on the blue duvet, blank eyes staring at a spot on the wall. It was Hikaru who he couldn't trust, couldn't depend on. That hurt more than words could describe, that realisation opened him up and the silent tears began to pour down his face before he realised he was crying.

It was stupid, Hikaru had told him he loved him before breakfast, Hikaru had told him he was the best schemer in the world during their lunch period after an incident had occurred that was entirely their fault. Hikaru had told him he was the best brother in the world before they'd gone to sleep the night before, and had held him during the entire club session that afternoon.

It was a small thing really, one that he had been waiting for, for months.

But Karou had still choked when Hikaru had grabbed Haruhi's hand to pull her into the classroom. He had known it was coming.

But it had still been a shock when he realised he was being replaced.