(Dedicated to callingGalaxy: the support I needed to write this)
Beads of sweat trickled down the pale set of cheeks belonging to the baseball player as he nervously dangled his cell phone from his hands. Was it too soon to call him? It had only been a day since he'd last seen the goofy mechanic, but he was already twitching with anticipation at their next meeting. His head was bombarded with negative thoughts, weighing him down until he gritted his teeth and thought, 'What the fuck?! I've always been able to call up chicks without a problem before. What's wrong with me now?'
Although the cerise-coloured hair that belonged to the mechanic was certainly silky smooth, it didn't mean the source of his dilemma was in fact a girl. No way in hell-that Souda Kazuichi was most certainly male. And this circled Leon right back to the starting point, where he frantically asked himself why he couldn't make a simple phone call to the guy. 'Cause how could the notorious womanizer ever fall for a guy? Regardless, he gulped and jammed his finger down on the call button, intently holding his breath at every ring. The faint echo of heavy breathing alerted him to an answer on the other side. It connected!
"Yo, Souda! It's me, Leon," he casually chimed, not wasting a moment to awkward silence. "I was wondering if ya wanted to hang out today." There were a few more deep breaths on the other end, and he could've sworn there was a sneeze or two.
"M'sorry, Kuwata. I've got a cold, and I shouldn't get outta bed today," the weak voice on the other end croaked, and Leon felt his heart wilt in sympathy.
"Gah, ditchin' me already? You're so cruel, dude. But seriously, nah, it's cool! You stay in bed, alright? We can hang out anytime," he reassured the sick mechanic over the phone, his sagging shoulders conveying his disappointment. There went his plans for the day. He'd mustered up all that courage for nothin'.
"Once I get better, I'll make it up to ya," Souda wheezed through the phone, snapping Leon out of his moping. His efforts didn't seem to be in vain, so he cheerfully said his goodbyes to the mechanic and ended the call. A massive sigh escaped from his lungs which contained all his bottled-up nervousness from speaking with Souda. If he wanted to keep his sanity, he really should stop calling him. Nevertheless, his body felt ten times lighter than it had been. In fact, he was feelin' pretty generous.
Wallet in hand, he closed the door to his home and sauntered down the sidewalk towards the downtown area. If he bought some medicine for Souda he might be able to hang out with him sooner-and rack up a few brownie points. There was a tiny pharmacy just around the corner he frequently visited (the chick behind the counter usually gave him discounts, and he had a general understanding on the reason why), and he entered without a moment's hesitation.
There was only a slight problem with his visit here. Since he usually came here for vitamins and didn't get sick often, he had no idea which bottle out of the thousands on the rack was the correct one for a cold. Did he even have the cold? Maybe it was the flu? Just thinkin' about it made his head spin. Still, he was determined to buy the right concoction for his boyfr-mechanic friend. Yeah.
Maybe they'd both caught a cold. Leon couldn't seem to think straight ever since he met Souda. It was like all the girls in the world suddenly lost their attractiveness, or maybe it was his lack of desire for their attractive bodies. Either way, it was actually pretty shitty. He had intended on asking the counter lady out one of these days.
A figure stepped into the medicine aisle as he stared blankly at the rows of medicine. His eyes flickered over to glance at the person and was surprised to see it was someone he recognized. It was the chick from the baseball game! She was the one that accompanied Souda near the end. In almost no time at all, she spotted him and sprinted over. Oh, damn.
"Kuwata-san! It is a pleasure to meet you in such a fascinating place!" she gushed, her body sickeningly close to his. Normally he'd be all over such a stunning beauty, but he himself was ill for some goddamn reason. "What brings you to this shop of wonders? Are you unwell?" she placed a hand on his forehead, comparing their temperatures. It seemed very out of character for this lady to be touching someone so familiarly. Was she one of those fans?
"I'm fine, no worries," he reassured her, scrutinizing her appearance as inconspicuously as possible. This girl had some connection to Souda, and he wanted to find out what it was. Turning up the charm, he lilted, "So, what brings such a lovely lady to this shop? Perhaps you're buying medicine for a friend?"
"No such thing!" she smiled, and Leon's hopes fluttered as he realized he wouldn't have competition in this task. He would be the one to bring medicine to Souda after all! "You see, I am actually purchasing this for my boyfriend." And then his hopes shattered like the time he smacked a ball through his neighbor's garage window.
"Boyfriend…? Would that person happen to be…" he gulped as she gazed at him expectantly. "Souda?" She ecstatically clapped her hands and nodded, remarking on how perceptive Leon was. While the compliment should have boosted his pride, it really had no effect after the shock of finding out Souda and this girl were dating. Resentment and perhaps a bit of jealousy wormed its way into his heart, but he forced it back. There wasn't a legitimate reason for him to hate such a dazzling girl, and this just puzzled him even more. Maybe it was because she was already taken? No, more importantly, she knew where Souda lived (a key point he'd forgotten on his excursion)!
"Er," he struggled to remember her name, not even sure if she told him or not. Luckily, she was keen enough to figure out what he was searching for from her.
"Sonia," she supplied helpfully, and he lightly clapped a hand on her shoulder.
"Sonia-chan! Where does your boyfriend live again? I was thinkin' I'd also like to give him some medicine, y'know, as his friend," he grinned tightly, his friendliness somewhat tentative.
"I shall escort you there, Kuwata-san!" she tugged on his arm, only stopping when he had to pay for the medicine bottle he'd grabbed randomly, the lady behind the counter eying Sonia dirtily. Then they were dashing off again, hand in hand, down the grimy city streets until they suddenly paused at the outskirts of town. At the very edge of the city a garage was erected, a place he imagined where Souda lived and worked, breathing in the polluted air and car fumes.
Just as he suspected, Sonia lead him up to the rusty doors of the garage and strode in without even bothering to knock. There was a noble air to her, he noticed. Like a goddamn princess. How could he compete with that? As royally as he could, he entered behind her so as to not be shown up to the mechanic. When he gazed inside the bedroom attached to the shop, he realized Souda wasn't in any condition to even look at him.
Sweat soaked the sheets of his bed and drenched his quivering body, reminding Leon of his teammates after a grueling game. Sonia immediately began to order him around, telling him to fetch a wet towel while she administered the medicine they'd bought. Scrambling to find the bathroom, he eventually located it and snatched up the towel she requested. Once he returned, he carefully pressed the cloth to Souda's forehead, kneeling beside the bed to examine his flushed face.
Being this close to Souda started up that anxiety he had in the presence of the mechanic, sending his heart palpitating rapidly. Without the beanie on his head, Leon could twirl Souda's pink locks of hair absently and without worry. His hair was coarse, not so much so that it was unpleasant, but definitely strange compared to the girls he'd dated. Even though Souda's face was slick with sweat, for some reason he was enraptured by it. It was completely unintentional for him to space out like that, and Sonia tapped him on the shoulder insistently. Her entire demeanor seemed frazzled and oddly solemn.
"I have urgent business to attend! Take care of Souda-kun!" she barked, hovering over Leon with her hands on her hips. Damn, she was kinda scary! He nodded to show he comprehended what she was saying and she strode out of the door unexpectedly. Was that 'urgent business' really more important than her sick boyfriend? Not that he was complainin'! Just as he was about to settle down and spy on Souda some more, the mechanic stirred.
"Ungh," he moaned, his voice crackled and low as he peered up at him. "Kuwata-kun? What're you doin' here?" he mumbled, and he heaved himself to a sitting position. Even looking like he just climbed out of a gutter he was still smokin' hot! Leon brushed away such thoughts in a hurry and averted his gaze.
"Err, I came to bring you medicine. Your girlfriend brought me here, but she said she had to leave," he scowled, still pissed that she didn't think twice for Souda's health. Even though he thought this, a look of sympathy crossed Souda's face. Was he missin' somethin' here?
"I forgot that was today…" Souda mumbled, wiping his face with the back of his sleeve. It seemed he was thinking about a far-off memory, something he didn't seem too damn happy about. Leon opened his mouth to ask about it, but his question was answered before he could. "Today is the anniversary of her previous boyfriend's death."
There was a long pause as Souda concentrated on his dangling legs and Leon gaped at the news. Her previous boyfriend...died? That would explain her behaviour earlier about her urgent business. She was probably visiting his grave right now before it began to rain tonight. Contrary to Leon's curiosity, Souda cradled his head in his hands.
"Tch, that bastard...just dyin' and leaving Sonia-san all alone," he growled, but there was a deep sadness reflected within his eyes. Tears streamed down through the cracks between his fingers and Leon's heart ached for him. Souda didn't seem to have gotten along with her previous boyfriend, but they probably still had a bond that he couldn't stand to lose like that. It made Leon a little jealous.
Not jealous enough for him to lash out at Souda, though. Instead, he couldn't help but reach up and gently stroke his tear-stained cheeks. It was crazy, here he was comforting a man like himself over his dead rival when he could've been chasing after a domineering beauty.
"Souda-kun," he whispered, wriggling up onto the bed to sit beside him. His arms reached out to envelop him in a hug. Sure, guys didn't usually have this kind of contact, but somehow it just seemed right to him.
Souda's arms squeezed him back gratefully, and Leon smiled at his response. All that echoed throughout the room were Souda's sniffles and hiccups, and they remained in their embrace until the sounds quieted and eventually lapsed altogether. In the silence, music drifted in from the garage radio, lyrics dancing in the air about coffee shop dates and cuddling together under the stars. As sappy as it was, Leon didn't feel it ruined the situation at hand.
And then everything clicked in his mind.
Everything that had happened today, ranging from his nervousness and jealousy and his obsessive thoughts on the pink-haired mechanic. It all made sense now. This must be the moment they describe in those hit songs on the radio...this thing called 'love'.