A/N: I promised you guys a faster update, so here it is! I'm gonna get to replying to reviews soon, I swear!
ALSO. Fyerigurl – the ah-mazing authoress of TCAFS wrote a companion fic to It's All Greek (ugh ugh and it's amazing and it makes me upset because it's too good to be a companion fic to my IAG), based on Shigohara Minako and Oshitari's story (which is funny, because IAG took Minako from TCAFS, and it's all a circle, look-).
But yes. It's good. It's brilliant. Go read it. Ugh.
ALSO. Please check the A/N at the end of the chapter!
Disclaimer: I do not own PoT.
It's two weeks after Keigo and Nanao have broken up, that Yuushi visits him in his room. Keigo knows that despite the fact that he'd broken up with her, Yuushi was still, in fact, friends with her. Yuushi had quirked a brow at him, as if to ask, is this okay with you, because Yuushi enjoyed Nanao's company but he and Keigo were on a level beyond altogether.
Keigo had waved his hand away. It didn't bother him.
The only reason it ever affected him was when he thought of it, because that meant he thought of Nanao at all.
"I'm worried about you," Yuushi murmurs, and for once, his voice is devoid of any teasing lilt. His eyes are boring into Keigo's and it makes him faintly discomforted.
"Whatever for?" Keigo responds. Yuushi's expression doesn't waver, and Keigo drops the act. "I'm fine. Ore-sama is perfectly brilliant, as usual."
Yuushi narrows his eyes.
They've been friends for damn near six years now, and he'd appreciate it if Keigo treated him like the genius that he was. Keigo isn't fine. To the masses, perhaps, he's the same flawless Atobe Keigo that they adore. To Yuushi, this Keigo – this Keigo, who plays tennis brutally, defeats his opponents in minutes flat, as if there is no joy, only ability; this Keigo, who's stopped making grand entrances and stopped holding school-wide rallies to declare his brilliance – this isn't a Keigo who's okay.
He levels a steady, displeased expression in Keigo's way, who sighs a quiet, barely-there exhale. Keigo busies himself with stirring his tea absentmindedly.
And then: "Have you ever struggled to stay afloat in a body of water?"
Yuushi's eyes flicker to Keigo, who's gazing down at his cup, as though he hasn't even spoken. And then, he continues, "Flailing your limbs and desperately paddling, just barely keeping your head over the water before it consumes you."
"Is that how you feel?" Yuushi murmurs quietly.
Keigo surprises him with a short, humorless laugh. "Is 'feel' the right word? If that's how I've been 'feeling' for the past eighteen years?"
He's on the cusp of survival, strenuously paddling to stay afloat, to fight against the incoming waves. If he pauses – for just a moment – the imminent waves will destroy him, pull him under and wreck him until he comes undone.
Somehow he's come to fool himself that this is the norm, that he's gotten used to it, because this is how it's been for the past eighteen years.
But lately he's been feeling exhausted, as though his limbs are screaming at him to slow down, that they can't keep this up for much longer.
But they have to.
The news arrives on Wednesday afternoon, just as his last class finishes. There's a quiet buzz, and as he leans over to pick up his bag, he realizes his phone is ringing. Keigo picks up his phone and switches it on in one smooth, fluid movement, and the device is against his ear in the next moment.
Something in his expression breaks, then.
The person on the other end of the line is still talking, but the voice enters one ear and doesn't register, because he's already gone. He doesn't hear the rest of the babbling, doesn't register Yuushi's concerned gaze from beside him as he stares quietly ahead, phone still clutched against his ear.
He doesn't register that the person on the other end- "Keigo-bocchama? Young master- Keigo-sama? …Hello?"
He doesn't even realize that he's numbly picked up his bag, but he pauses temporarily to turn to Yuushi and murmur a quiet "Take over tennis practice," because he's Atobe fucking Keigo, and he will hold himself together-
But as soon as Yuushi nods once (without even asking for an explanation – god, Keigo loves that bastard), he's straight back to a sense of all-consuming numbness, unable to register even as Gakuto bounds inside his classroom, yells "Oi oi, let's hurry up to practice-"
He most certainly doesn't register Nanao's wide, worried eyes when he whisks down the hallway.
The waves crash over his head – finally – and everything breaks.
Suddenly, he's drowning, deep, deep, submerged in an ocean that won't let him up for air.
He can't breathe.
"I'd like to visit Kaede-obaa-san."
Atobe Akihiko hardly spares his son a cursory glance, and the only sign that he'd heard Keigo's words at all was the quiet shuffling of papers that he was signing. Silence stretches on for a few moments, broken only by the eloquent scratch of a fountain pen against documents. Keigo remains stone still in front of his father's desk.
At last, Atobe Senior puts his pen – that goddamn pen, Keigo thinks – down to raise a brow at Keigo. And it's such a small expression, but it has him feeling five and childish all over again, as though he's greatly disappointed his father once more. And he's already been disappointing his father a lot as of late, with the small errors in fiscal reports and dropping to second place and-
"Time is money," Akihiko says, and Keigo has to bite his tongue to hold back the scream that's crawling up his throat.
"She's family," he responds, a certain heat to his voice, but Akihiko isn't at all amused.
"Keigo – you are not a miracle worker, nor are you a doctor; your presence is highly irrelevant and will bear no fruit, and you have duties here. So you will remain here, and carry out your duties, and send her a bouquet instead. Is this understood?"
No, he wants to say. She's his fucking great aunt, and a goddamn bouquet of flowers don't mean anything when she's-
Instead, Keigo nods, once, before leaving the room.
Outside, he leans against the wall, slides down when his legs refuse to support him anymore. He crushes his palms to his eyes and breathes heavy, harsh breaths.
That night, Yuushi shows up at his door with dark chocolate and German novels he's found interesting. He steps into Keigo's room without a word, sets the two down on his desk, and wraps one arm around his shoulder in a half-hug.
It's small, but it's more comforting than he'd like to admit.
Yuushi, bless his soul, doesn't even ask. He doesn't have to – by now, Keigo's sure that he'd have heard the news from his parents. Instead, he simply gestures at the items he's placed on Keigo's desk, and he can't help the soft half-smirk that arises on his lips. "I'm not a girl, Yuushi – trying to woo me with chocolates? That hadn't worked on Shigohara, so why would it work on me?"
Yuushi's lips twitch in an answering smile. "So you're admitting that you're like Minako, now?"
Keigo's smile quickly turns sour. "Just go, you heathen." And he's half serious, because as much as he likes and trusts Yuushi, he can't really be around company at the moment.
And Yuushi knows him so well to the point that he knows the underlying meaning behind the harmless joke. He nods softly, once, and leans over to pull Keigo into another hug; these open displays of affection are uncharacteristic between them, but for once, he'd rather not care about appearances at all. So Keigo returns the hug, and murmurs a low "Thank you," in his ear.
"Of course," Yuushi replies, as if he's implying This is only obvious – was there even a chance I wouldn't be here? and Keigo treasures him for it. "If you need anything," he says, and he doesn't even have to finish the sentence.
Keigo understands and nods, a rare glimmer of gratefulness in his eyes as he watches Yuushi leave.
He doesn't go to school the next day.
He trusts Yuushi to have taken care of it and tennis practice, to have everything in order and perfectly pristine for when he returns. Yuushi may be a bastard, but he can also be a bastard for the best reasons – it's hard for Keigo to rely on people, to really let others take care of things for him. He's an Atobe, raised to do things himself if he expects it to be done properly, bred to be frighteningly proficient in everything.
But with Yuushi, he can let the reigns go – at least, for a little while.
And he hates this, hates being in a place where he'd rely on someone else, hates that he's being so weak. But he can't- he can't keep struggling to keep his head over water anymore, because the waves have already pulled him in and now he's drowning, drowning, and he can't find a way up anymore.
It's been a long time coming, he supposes, and he wonders how much of a failure this would make him – that he couldn't even handle things even before he's taken over the corporation. He wonders if this is going to be what cripples him, in the end, because for all of his invincibility, he finds himself feeling as though someone has shoved through his chest with a mighty sword and plunged an axe into his lifeline.
He doesn't feel like he can resurface again.
And deep down, he's okay with this. He's okay with the strange numbness that failure provides, because for all of his drowning, he feels more at peace than when he'd been fighting tirelessly against the waves.
But he needs to climb back up, because here, at the bottom of the ocean, he can't fucking breathe.
At some point he finds himself reaching for his phone and dialing the familiar set of numbers he'd so often typed just a month ago.
There's been a dull ache for the past month, so constant that he'd grown used to it a little ways into it. He realizes that it's missing someone, that it's losing someone that he'd always had with him, that it's no longer having a person who'd occupied such a large part of his life.
But even now, as the ache demands for him to press 'dial,' he can't. He lowers the phone, tosses it into some corner of his room, because he remembers the words she'd said to him, remembers the cutting things she'd thrown his way. And more than that, he remembers the things he'd said to her, and he thinks, he shouldn't call her.
Not when the last time they'd spoken-
You're nothing but a child, trying to match your steps to the big kids but failing miserably – grow up and join us when you're ready to be an adult.
He grows irate when he thinks of the things she'd said, but when he thinks of what he'd said in turn, his blood runs faintly cold, because- he'd known how much they'd destroy her, and it's why he'd said them.
So he doesn't call her, and instead, tries to busy himself in other thoughts.
At 11 PM on Thursday night, there's an incessant knocking on his bedroom door.
He isn't asleep. He hasn't been able to sleep since- for a while, even before the news had arrived. When it had, things had gotten worse. So Keigo is awake, and he'd simply been flicking aimlessly through the channels on his large television screen, leaned against the frame of his bed on the floor.
And for a moment, he's bewildered, because who the hell would be knocking on his bedroom door at this time?
Before he can even get up to answer, the door is practically flung open, and when he cranes his neck to see-
-she's here, standing just inside his doorway, eyes wide and hair windblown as the door closes shut behind her. She's heaving breaths, as though she'd run up all the way here (or at least, from the driveway), and her hands are trembling, her eyes are, too, lashes quivering and lips parted and he's not quite sure, but he thinks those might be tears welling in her eyes-
But she looks good. The ache finally stops, and it's more noticeable now that it's not hurting than when it was, because it had become so constant. She looks pretty even with a sense of desperate devastation in her expression, even when the eyeliner she'd begun to wear when they began dating is smudged, even when she's wearing those god awful cardigans all over again. And it's now when he sees her, that he realizes how much he's missed her – and isn't that ironic?
A few seconds have passed, and the minute she locks eyes on him, sitting in front of his television, he doesn't even have time to get up. Because she's rushed forward, dropped to her knees in front of him and pulled him in with desperate, cold hands and pressed his head to her neck, where when he breathes, all he smells is the faint scent of the lilac her perfume smells of.
"I heard," she whispers, voice ragged, and it clicks in his mind why she's here.
But it's all faintly surreal, and he's still in that numb state he'd been traipsing in and out of, so all he can do is bring his hands up to grasp dumbly at the sides of her cardigan. "I-"
"Why didn't you call me?" she demands, and- he doesn't know what to say. Doesn't know what to say to a girl he'd wrecked, who'd come running and demanded why hadn't he called her when something happened.
God, she's ridiculous.
In the most stunning of ways.
His mind is still suspended in a strange balance between delirium and numb awareness, so all he can do is grasp at the flitting edges of thoughts around his head, and he's just barely registering her presence at all. He tries again. "About the things I said, I-"
Her hands tighten around his shoulders. "It's okay."
No, it's not. He says as much, tries to say "No I'm-"
But he's cut off, because she's slid her hands to press against his cheeks, leaned forward and pressed her lips to his. It's just a press of her lips against his, but it's soft and sweet and the way she trails her hands down to his shoulders as she pulls away is achingly reminiscent. She doesn't go far, though, just enough to lean her forehead against his and when she closes her eyes, he feels her lashes flutter against his skin. "It's okay," she whispers.
And he hears the I'm sorry too in her words, feels it in the way she traces idle circles in the skin above his collarbone, in the way she hugs him as if she thinks that if she hugged him tightly enough, she could somehow ward off everything that's been hurting him.
And it's the way she does this that practically wrecks him, until he clutches at her waist and pulls her in until she's almost in his lap, presses his eyes against her shoulder and takes a few minutes to just breathe with his eyes closed.
He can breathe again.
When they finally pull away, Nanao sits back just in front of him, so close that they're mere inches away. It feels soothing, intimate in a strangely chaste way, comforting to have her so close by – and she reaches over to lace her fingers with his and clutches at them tightly. It's as though she needs him instead of vice versa, even when it's clearly the opposite, and he adores her for it, for doing the things he hadn't even known he'd needed.
She doesn't ask him are you okay, because he clearly isn't, because how could he-
-when the only person who'd shown him what familial love was supposed to be is in a hospital bed in a coma from a wayward car accident?
Instead, she reaches forward to pull him in by the neck again, and he rests his forehead on her shoulder, and they sit like this for near an hour – in perfect, comfortable silence.
When he pulls away at last, he feels like he can start to breathe normally. She doesn't let go of his hand, but when she looks at him – really looks at him, she feels worry bubbling up in her chest.
For all of his flawless façade, there are faint traces of dark circles under his eyes, a tired edge to his image, and she smoothes the hair from his forehead carefully. She remembers that he didn't often sleep much because of things he had to do for school and for his father, because even in the time after, he has a strangely difficult time sleeping sometimes because he has so many other obligations he's thinking about.
It looks as though he hasn't slept in days.
"You're tired," she murmurs, and it's not even a question.
His lips quirk into a small, amused curve. "Ore-sama is flawless," he huffs softly, and Nanao's features soften into a helpless smile, too. But it turns stern the next moment, and she stands up and tries to pull him along with her by the hand.
"You have to sleep, Keigo."
He stands up with a quiet sigh. He doesn't say anything, just lets himself be led to his own bed, where he slips in under the covers without much qualms. She presses a soft kiss to his cheek before slipping away, and she's headed towards the door when-
"I tried to go see her."
She halts. She turns around, and he's not even looking at her, just gazing absentmindedly at the quiet television still left on. But Nanao pads back over, crawls into bed beside him, leans in until they're pressed comfortably against one another and his head is cushioned against hers.
He shifts so that his nose is pressed against her temple, and murmurs a muffled "Perhaps I'll send flowers."
"Yeah," she whispers back. "A nice arrangement of irises."
Irises, she remembers his aunt's favorite flowers, and it's this realization that makes him slip his arms around her and bury his face against her hair.
Like this, they fall asleep, and it's the first time he's slept for an entire night in a while.
He wakes up at eleven in the morning the next day, and it's the latest he ever remembers waking up. He can't remember a day when he'd been able to sleep in like this, because even when he'd had nothing to do, he'd been up and running, sipping tea and reviewing current events because that's just what Atobe's did.
It's Friday, and he supposes that Nanao – the ever law abiding bookworm – has gone to school. The bed is empty and neatly made save for the place he's just awoken in, and Keigo begins to sit up when the door to his room opens.
And Nanao's standing there, a cup of orange juice at her lips and her hair faintly damp from what he presumes to be a shower, in a soft shirt and pajama pants that are slightly too long for her legs. She catches his expression – puzzled and caught off guard – and smiles hesitantly. "I, um- Oshitari-kun said he'd take care of it for me," she murmurs, referring to her attendance record.
This, Keigo finds hilarious, and before he knows it, he's practically doubled over, laughing into his silken sheets.
This, the girl who had been absolutely horrified the first time she ditched school, and even moreso when Keigo may have implied that they had a means to alter attendance records to avoid administration issues. Nanao huffs, but she comes over to sit on the massive bed anyway, cross legged and sipping from her glass of juice.
"When did you become so corrupted?"
Nanao flushes. "I am not corrupted, I just-" I just didn't want you to be alone, she doesn't finish, and instead, swats at his arm. "Just have some juice."
Atobe huffs a laugh (and he thinks that it's been a while since he's laughed so much, because it feels odd, like using a muscle he hasn't in a long time), leans forward to press a sweeping kiss against her cheek with a murmured "Morning" against her skin. He pulls away and leaves the bed without taking the glass of juice from her hand, and instead heads towards the bathroom to shower and complete his morning ritual.
Nanao makes herself comfortable flipping through the channels on his TV and thinks to herself that perhaps she should get one for her own room.
"Where did you even get those clothes?"
"Oshitari-kun dropped them off this morning."
Sometimes Yuushi is frighteningly competent, and Keigo doesn't even want to ask how he knows or what he's done to retrieve Nanao's clothes from her house.
Or when they'd become so close, because Nanao becoming friends with such a sadistic, scheming bastard is something he'd like to not think about for now.
"Let's make waffles," she says as soon as he returns to his room from the adjoined bathroom, a towel draped over his neck.
He levels a dry look at her. "Just have the chefs make it for you."
She frowns at him. "It's not the same," she says, as though it makes sense. And it doesn't to him, because all he can think of is why would he make it himself when people are specifically hired so he won't have to?
"Do you even know how to make waffles?"
"We can use the waffle maker."
A pause. "I have a waffle maker?"
Now Nanao frowns at him. "Yeah. In the kitchen."
"…You've been inside the kitchen? They let you in there?" They didn't even like him in there, even if he was the son of the head of the house; chefs were awfully protective of their domain. Nevermind the fact that the kitchen might as well have been one for a large hotel, fully staffed and full of dangerous, heated equipment.
"…The small kitchen down the hall? There was no one else there," she murmurs, and now she's confused, because what does he mean, did they let her in there?
Atobe's frown deepens. "What kitchen down the hall?" The kitchen was on the first floor – this was the third; there oughtn't be a kitchen here.
Nanao's answering frown perfectly mirrors his puzzlement.
Apparently this house held multiple kitchens – because indeed, there is a small one in the corner of the hallway, fully stocked with two working fridges, ovens, stoves, an island and breakfast bar- Nanao eyes the way the fridges and cabinets are full of food, too, and rolls her eyes. "Kitchens that nobody use with food that nobody eats- Keigo, this is ridiculous."
"What if I get hungry and the kitchen staff are too far away? Obviously, the purpose of this kitchen is to keep everyone properly nourished at all times."
But he's staring at the contents of a cupboard like he hasn't seen any of it in his life before, and Nanao laughs. "You've never even set foot in here, though," she points out, and gets a small pinch at her waist for her snide remark.
She rubs the sore spot with a frown, but Keigo kisses the curve off of her lips as he passes by her to go examine the fridge.
And indeed, there is a waffle maker, sitting innocently – and completely unused – on top of the marble counter. Nanao moves forward to gather bowls and measuring cups and flour and baking soda from various places around the kitchen, then starts to mix them all in certain ratios; Keigo watches, faintly baffled and surprised.
"You know how to cook?" he murmurs.
"Um. I looked it up on the internet this morning on my phone," she responds instead, sheepishly. "I don't know how to cook very well, though."
And he can't help but to find this endearing, so he steps forward from where he'd been leaning against the island counter to stand beside her where she's scurrying about. He doesn't exactly help anything, but he supposes he provides moral support when she spills half of the baking soda across the counter.
The waffles are disgusting.
They're undercooked and he swears he can still taste flour particles in one part and they're burned on one side (he doesn't understand how its undercooked and burned at the same time). But they eat them anyway (at least one waffle out of the five they made, at least), drench it in syrup so it masks the strange taste of burnt flour (is that even a thing?), smear some syrup on each other's cheeks just because.
"That was awful," Keigo declares, and calls for a butler to fetch them some actual food.
They're brought a tray of bagels and cream cheese and omelets and smoked salmon; this they eat cross legged on his bed while watching morning cartoons (because apparently Nanao is still a child and has yet to move on from the particular kid's channel; to be honest, Keigo doesn't mind). She drops a dollop of cream cheese on his thousand thread count silk sheets, and she looks so horrified that he can't even bring himself to mind – instead, he shoves the last remaining bite of his own bagel into her mouth as he calls in a maid to take the tray away and switch out the sheets.
They spend the day doing nothing at all.
He wonders if this is what unproductivity feels like – if this is what common people do in their days off; but then, he thinks, if they were common, they probably wouldn't have the luxury to laze around like this, either.
They migrate in circles between the television screen, the gardens, the library and back again, and they spend several hours lying in bed, shoulders touching and heads tilted towards one another, staring up at the ceiling. They don't speak, don't do anything besides the small interruption of Nanao's small fingers tapping random rhythms on the back of Keigo's hand, where they're joined.
They don't talk about Kaede.
They talk about Nanao's grade in Greek class, about Ohistari Yuushi and Shigohara Minako (because Keigo still hasn't gotten over the fact that Yuushi may just have found himself the one girl who's as pretty as himself – that's what Nanao thinks, anyways), about the upcoming yacht party the Hanazono's were throwing.
Sometimes they talk about quiet little secrets, snippets of their deepest fears, little sentences of-
I don't want to become my parents in twenty years.
I want to do more than be a trophy wife – but I think my parents worry about me, that if I don't become one, I can't be much else.
Sometimes I think of what it'd be like to be poor. They always look so- happy, don't they? Perhaps they've figured out something we haven't.
I think you're surreal.
She stays over again, tucked into Keigo's side and hand clasping his, huddled together despite the fact that there's an empty stretch of sheets and pillows on either side of them.
The next day, Yuushi shows up at the door around 4 PM. It's Saturday, and Nanao had pulled Keigo out to Spain Slope, had taken him to her favorite little corners (the small, unobtrusive café by the bookstore, for one), had stopped by a flower vendor to teasingly purchase him a little rose to tuck into the pocket of his shirt.
They'd traipsed around the city, not really buying things (which was really a big step for Keigo), but instead lacing their fingers together and half-stumbling around streets in laughter and silly jokes. He's not okay, but the stifling ache in his chest loosens a little when Nanao spins around him and the sunlight rests on his cheeks.
They're back by three pm, and an hour later, Yuushi knocks politely on the door and when Nanao opens it, he greets her with a smile before stepping smoothly through the door. She catches a glimpse of the contents of a paper bag he's holding – two bottles of clear liquid – and quietly, with a small glance at Keigo, leaves the room.
Yuushi steps forward, pulls out the first bottle of vodka from the bag with a dark smile and a twinkle in his eyes. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"
And Keigo hadn't even known that he'd wanted to drink until the first taste of the biting liquor hits his tongue, but it feels like the ache in his chest is lightening at last.
He drinks until the liquor isn't bitter anymore, until he doesn't feel the sting as it hits the back of his throat.
Until there's a tingling buzz stretched thinly along his skin, until he starts to feel something numbing at his fingertips, until that numb reaches his chest, too.
Until there's a heady lightness to his head and this thoughts and he's Atobe Keigo, so he can still recite Greek poetry and calculus theorems and the classical words of Shakespeare (all with Oshitari Yuushi, because Yuushi is Oshitari Yuushi), but there's a looser flow to his expression and the lines on his features.
They drink – and Yuushi takes every sip, every shot with him, at least until he decides it's time that they should both stop.
It's been an entire day of drinking, sobering up, then drinking again. They're very adept at maintaining the numbing sensation Keigo craves without actually poisoning themselves with alcohol, and in the back of his mind, he thinks that they really ought to win some sort of scientific field prize for this.
He says as much, and Yuushi chuckles lowly in his ear. "Didn't you say you deserve the Nobel peace prize for being yourself, when we were in the seventh grade?"
It's eleven at night when Yuushi finally goes home. He's probably had enough alcohol to drown a sailor, but he and Keigo have unlawfully high tolerances and perfect facades when they're intoxicated, so he hardly so much as twitches as he descends gracefully down the marble steps and out the door into the waiting town car.
And now Keigo is alone once more.
Keigo is equally intoxicated, but it's already begun to wore off since an hour ago, and now there's just a faint buzzing in the back of his mind. He's thirsty – incredibly so – and so he ambles down to the recently-discovered third floor kitchen, idly wondering if perhaps Nanao would be awake now. Wondering what she'd be doing now if she was awake (probably studying at her desk), if it'd be alright for him to call her now-
-but then, he steps into the kitchen, and finds that there's no need for that, after all.
Because Nanao is there, perched on a stool at the breakfast bar as though it were the most normal thing in the world for her to be there, quietly reading a book with a glass of orange juice beside her on the counter.
He stares at her for a moment, because he's taken aback that she's actually here, and she notices his presence now and looks up. "Oh-" she exclaims, at the same time he asks "You're still here?"
It's been seven hours.
What had she even been doing here for seven hours-?
Nanao looks hesitant, then, a flush creeping on her cheeks in half embarrassment. "Well I just- I thought I might stay and make sure everything's okay, you know, just to-"
She's misunderstood. He's not upset that she's here, or amused, or even curious why- he's just…pleased.
He crosses the room in three seconds and slides his arms around her waist as she's still on the stool, and the book she's been holding drops to the floor as he presses his nose to the side of her neck. He clutches her to himself a little too tightly for it to be casual, but Nanao doesn't say a word, only wraps her own arms around his neck and presses a soft kiss to the top of his head.
I'm glad you're here. She can feel it in the way he rests against her, the way she can feel his heartbeat rumbling steadily in his chest.
There's the distinct scent of alcohol hanging thickly in the air, in his hair and in his clothes, and she's never liked the scent much. It's even slightly alarming to her because it smells as though he's practically doused himself in alcohol, and is that healthy? But she remembers that Oshitari-kun was with him; she trusts him, knows that he wouldn't have let things cross a line.
And Keigo has a high tolerance but he's not completely unaffected either, because there's a desperation to the way he holds her and an erratic rhythm to his breaths that makes her clutch at him tighter in return.
"I'm here," she whispers in his ear, and he just tightens his arms around her.
The storm breaks on Sunday.
He wakes up with an ache in his head he would rather not admit to, a weariness to his bones and a sluggishness he hasn't experienced in a while. This, he thinks, is the reason that he and Yuushi don't drink.
When he turns to the side, there's a glass of water and a bottle of painkillers on the bedside table. He blinks slowly, then shifts his head to the other side- where Nanao's there, still asleep; she must have fetched the things before she'd gone to sleep, then.
He's hardly sat up when Nanao wakes up, too.
The way she wakes up is something else, he thinks, because he watches it all with a soft, amused smile. Her lashes flutter as her eyes part in a tiny sliver, before closing again – and a few moments later, her eyes slowly open fully, and there's a haziness to her normally clear hazel eyes, and it's as though her brain hasn't yet started working, because she simply lays there, blinking slowly.
At last, she seems to have woken up completely, because she catches Keigo staring down at her bemusedly, and turns her head to bury it against one of the pillows on the bed. Her shoulders are shaking slightly, though, so he knows she's huffing a small, sheepish laugh.
The headache grows a little stronger so he reaches over to down the medicine and the water, and leans back against the headboard.
His chest feels looser than it has in a month.
And when Nanao sits up beside him, rests her head against his head and he drops his on top of hers, he can take in deep, clear breaths.
"It'll be okay," she murmurs at last – the words he'd so dreaded hearing the past few days, the words she hadn't said to him.
And this time, he thinks that he can believe it.
A/N: In no way do I endorse or support underage drinking, or drinking to solve your issues, no matter what the age. However, I do recognize that drinking is common in today's society (both the US and Japan) for the age that Atobe and Nanao are (eighteen, final year of high school). Moreover, I used it as a plot device, because for Keigo, it so happens to work; it's not healthy, and it's not the proper way, but if it gets the job done, sometimes people don't care that its unhealthy.
So. Stay in school. Be good. Hahaha.
Love you all!
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