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The surface of the water broiled and broke, and he burst out from it to take in a deep but hasty breath.
Gravity pulled him down again, but he was already surging forward from the momentum provided by his following kick. It was all very methodological.
Hands in front of him, bent outwards at the wrist, then a kick as he pushed the water back with his hands. Another kick—up and forward, but no breath to slow him down this time. Arms rotated in a strong, practiced arch. He went forward once more.
Over and over, he repeated these well-rehearsed motions, done so many times in his swimming career that it was almost as natural as breathing. Water sluiced down his face and past the thin edge of his opened mouth as he sucked in air before delving in again.
The wall was coming up. This was his second fifty. Rin had been holding back a little for this last burst and sped up without reserving any more energy.
He watched carefully as his last pull brought him up to the edge of the wall, and his hands gripped the edge of the pool simultaneously. His left hand pulled back almost immediately, as if burned by the surface, and he twisted around. His feet landed squarely on the tiled pool wall. It was cold and firm beneath his soles, comforting even in its impassivity. He pushed hard against it, not slipping even a little as his hands shot in front of him again, parallel to the pool floor to reduce water resistance.
His whole body undulated, one, two, three, four, five butterfly kicks which brought him almost to the midpoint of the pool in their ferocity before he broke the surface of the water. His arms swept back aggressively to pull himself forward.
Under the water, even the loud cheering of the crowd was lost to him. He couldn't hear anything except for the gurgling of the water as it fell past his ears on every upward stroke, the way it bubbled and sloshed as his hands forcibly dug in and through its pliant resistance, and his sharp, hitching breaths as he inhaled between strokes. It was only him and the water. None of the other lanes' swimmers were fast enough for him to see from his peripheral vision and that was the way Rin wanted to keep things.
He pulled only a few more times, heart pounding hard in his chest as the last fifteen meters floated before him. Once, twice more, he forced his hands through the water, and then, he surged forward and slammed his hands into the wall timer. A wave of water, seduced by his own volition, washed over him as he drew his feet forward and stood. Rin swayed as water sloshed over him repeatedly.
His lungs burned fiercely as he looked at the time board, but the frenzied cheering from the crowd was enough to tell him what place he got. He proudly grinned at the board, which listed him as the first place winner. Rhythmic cheers of "Sa-me-zu-ka!" filled the area from the bleachers, and pride swelled in him.
A few seconds later, the swimmer next to him pulled up, breathing just as hard as he was. He seemed a little disappointed in getting second but wasn't completely crushed. Rin grinned at him and leaned over the lane line, reaching out with his right hand.
"Good job," he said, engaging in a quick and firm handshake with his competitor. He turned to his other side and did the same with the other boy who had barely finished.
All of them waited in the water until the last swimmer reached the wall and the announcer asked them to exit the pool. Rin pulled himself out.
He nodded when the timer for his lane congratulated him. His arms and legs burned, but he was still smiling a little as he grabbed his towel and jacket from the chair behind the starting blocks. Puddles of pool water dripped behind him as he walked.
He headed toward where his team was situated but before he even got there, his teammates swarmed up to him.
"Hey, Matsuoka! You did it again!" one of them called out, throwing an arm around his shoulders and shaking him a bit. "Congrats!"
Run grinned a little. "Yeah, thanks," he said. The other boy patted him on the back and slid off, laughing.
"Matsuoka!" more of his team members called out, all of them offering words of congratulations as he walked by. He accepted the encouragement and spoke shortly with them, exchanging event times and brief news. By the time he got back to their team base, Rin was getting antsy. He looked around impatiently.
"Senpai!" a voice called to him. Rin immediately turned to it. It was Aiichirou flanked by Seijuurou, who was holding onto some papers. His annoyed expression softened slightly when he saw who it was.
"Sorry," Aiichirou said as he approached Rin, smiling. "Captain Mikoshiba caught me and wouldn't let me go. You broke another personal best! Congratulations!"
Rin grunted, but the smile on his face betrayed his actual emotions.
"Here. Your water, Rin-senpai," the younger boy said as he held out a bottle.
"Thanks," Rin said, taking it from Aiichirou's hands and taking a long drink.
At this point, Seijuurou finally spoke up. "Good job," he said, waving the papers in his hand enthusiastically. "You shaved off another point six seconds. And you beat the other guys by at least three seconds. If you keep this up, you'll probably break the school record."
"Thanks," he said, nodding slightly at Seijuurou's praise. "I'll keep working hard."
"Nitori," Seijuurou turned to the youngest boy, "you can take the rest of the meet off. I'll have Sasamura deal with things from here. Good work today, Manager! File these in the folders for me, won't you?" he asked, handing him the sheets. When Aiichirou confirmed the request, he patted the boy on the back and walked off, yelling at someone a little ways off.
Aiichirou watched their captain walk off before looking up at Rin. "You're done for today then aren't you? You didn't join the 200-medley relay this time."
Rin pushed his hand through his hair and answered offhandedly. "Yeah, Nakamura's been training hard to get that spot. He deserved it."
Quietly, Aiichirou chuckled. Rin glared at him. "What are you laughing at?"
"Nothing," the silver-hair boy responded, still smiling.
Rin didn't press further, already aware of exactly what the boy was laughing about. Aiichirou had, on more than one occasion, commented on the gap between Rin's outward attitude and actual personality. It wasn't news to either of them but it didn't mean Rin felt any less embarrassed about it.
"I'm gonna go shower and change out of my swimsuit," he said, silently tacking on a subtle invitation for Aiichirou to tag along.
The younger boy hummed in understanding. "I'll go with you. I need to put these away anyway," he said, holding up the time sheets.
"Let's go then," the redhead said. He glanced down at Aiichirou and smiled faintly.
The younger boy mirrored his expression with more enthusiasm and nodded. He put the papers on his lap and folded his hands over them, patiently waiting. Automatically, Rin placed his hands on the push handles of Aiichirou's wheelchair and began walking.
Rin was always very careful with Aiichirou, constantly scanning for the least crowded and smoothest routes so the boy wouldn't get jostled around. It was another one of those things that didn't quite match up with his "bad boy" aura, but it was what made Rin who he was. He seemed not to be paying attention to what Aiichirou was talking about as he rifled through the data sheets but, whenever the younger boy paused for a breath, he always included his own comments.
"Sakuragi-kun was DQ'd for his breaststroke kick in the individual medleys earlier," Aiichirou said, eyebrows pinching together slightly. "It's too bad! He was doing really well when Nagisa-kun was teaching him the other day."
Rin hummed as he continued pushing the chair. They were almost at the locker rooms. "Did he do a scissor kick again?"
"Yeah. It was right after his turn. His legs didn't come together in time, and he accidentally did a flutter kick too," he said. "Maybe next time!" Aiichirou straightened the stack in his lap. He was so immersed in the team's data and performance that he didn't realize when they went over the threshold of the changing rooms. He let out a startled gasp and grabbed onto his armrests to steady himself when his chair ran over it.
"Sorry," Rin immediately apologized.
"It's okay," the younger boy said, turning his eyebrows up to show him that he wasn't upset.
The rest of the journey was short and smooth. Rin let Aiichirou do his own thing while he hit the showers and changed out of his wet swimsuit. He didn't take long and when he returned to his locker, Aiichirou was leafing through all the record sheets the Samezuka team had accumulated. He had taken off his gloves during the time Rin was gone.
Rin sat down on the bench between the lockers, hair still damp. "Hey," he called out softly.
Aiichirou lowered the files and looked over to him. "Hm?"
The redhead leaned forward and angled his face slightly. Their lips met softly and briefly, and Rin drew back almost immediately. He looked at Aiichirou with a very gentle and open expression, eyes half-lidded and almost sleepy-looking, and then he pushed their mouths together again.
The younger boy opened his mouth before Rin even asked for permission, and they pressed their tongues together lightly. It was almost shy in its gentleness, and Aiichirou was smiling into it while Rin reached for his hand and intertwined their fingers together. Unlike before, Aiichirou's hands were much more calloused and stronger. Even with gloves, they had become hard.
Rin pulled away and rested his head against the crook of Aiichirou's neck and shoulder. The younger boy tilted his head so that his cheek was on Rin's head, still smiling. Rin rubbed his thumb over Nitori's hand absently then tightened his grip and took in a deep breath.
"Wanna go cheer the others on?"
Aiichirou squeezed back. "Mmn. Let's go."
"Good work today!"
"Yeah, see you tomorrow."
Voices called out to each other as the Samezuka team split up to return to their respective rooms. The meet had finally finished, and it was already nine at night.
Rin lingered in the hallway leading to his room as Aiichirou finished up a conversation with one of their teammates.
"Okay! I'll talk to Captain Mikoshiba tomorrow during practice then," he said.
"Thanks, Nitori," the other boy replied, waving and turning around to head back.
Aiichirou let out a small, tired sigh but cheered up when he saw Rin hanging around. "Sorry for making you wait," he said, tugging his gloves back on.
The redhead shrugged and shoved his hands into the pockets of his track pants. "It's your job," he said, giving the younger boy a sly, sidelong glance, "Manager Nitori."
The silver-haired boy rolled his eyes slightly and quirked his mouth to the side. He didn't say anything but only started to roll forward, his hands expertly gripping the hand rims. The sound of the spinning wheel spokes accompanied their otherwise quiet journey.
"You wanna shower first?" Rin asked, keeping pace with Aiichirou.
"Yeah," he replied, letting the chair glide a bit before propelling himself forward again. "If that's alright."
"I already showered at the meet," the redhead said almost arbitrarily. He pulled his hand out of his pocket and took out a cardkey from it. He tapped it against his thigh. His shoes squeaked a little on the floor with each step, and Rin was acutely aware of how he shifted his weight as he walked.
Once they reached their room, he pressed the card against the key reader. The door unlocked with a quiet beep. He reached for the handlebar and slid the door open for Aiichirou. After the boy entered the room, Rin stepped in as well and closed the door again.
Aiichirou was already rifling through his closet for clothing when Rin got in and took off his shoes. While the redhead started pulling out wet things to rinse and hang dry, the silver-haired boy maneuvered himself to the bathroom. The two of them were so well-versed in each other's habits and movements that it was almost like a dance.
Rin instinctively stepped back when Aiichirou rolled by, the wheels of his chair barely missing his socked toes by a few centimeters. The second the younger boy passed, Rin stepped forward again, absentmindedly kicking Aiichirou's closet door closed because he never remembered to shut it.
He threw his wet towel over his shoulder as he walked over to the sink in their room and turned the cold water on. As he rinsed off the chlorine on his swimsuit and goggles, the shower in the bathroom turned on. Rin squeezed out the excess water from the suit and hung it up next to his towel. He draped the goggles over the towel holder as well.
When Aiichirou finished with his shower, Rin was brushing his teeth. Automatically, he moved to one side as the other boy stopped his wheelchair to the side and plugged in the hairdryer. He shifted his weight to one leg and looked at the silver-haired boy in the mirror. His short hair was sticking up in weird directions due to his toweling.
Everything was overwhelmed by the blasting of the hair-blower as Aiichirou switched it on. He ruffled his short hair as he waved the dryer around. Soon, Aiichirou's hair fell back down and smoothed itself out. The two of them finished their respective tasks around the same time. It was then that Aiichirou changed the air to cool and aimed the nozzle of it under Rin's shirt, making the redhead yell in surprise.
Aiichirou laughed over the noise and waved it around at Rin's face so he couldn't really fight back. Finally, Rin was able to grab the younger boy's hand and switch the dryer off. He leaned down aggressively and pushed Aiichirou's arm away and to the side. The silver-haired boy was still laughing when Rin kissed him, his teeth carefully pulling at his lower lip as punishment. Immediately, Aiichirou grew quiet and kissed back.
Rin pulled away shortly after, coaxing his fingers to let go of the hair-blower. "Brat," he said, smirking slightly as he unplugged the dryer and wrapped up its cord. After putting it away, he left the sink so that Aiichirou could brush his teeth. He snagged a magazine off his desk and sat down on the edge of the bottom bunk of the bed. He leaned down to scratch an itch on his ankle before leaning back.
Rhythmic brushing noises and the flipping pages were the only sounds in the room. The water turned on, gurgled, and splashed as Aiichirou finished up. Rin watched him as he released the brake on his chair, backed up, and turned.
As Aiichirou moved toward the bed, Rin glanced at the digital clock on his desk.
"It's only ten," he said, looking at the silver-haired boy as he parked his wheelchair by the side of the bed and locked the brakes. Aiichirou swiveled the armrests down to get them out of the way. "Time for bed already?" Rin continued.
With a soft smile, Aiichirou responded. "If you don't mind. I'm a little tired today."
"Nah," Rin said, standing up and tossing his magazine back on the table. "S'fine." He stood in front of Aiichirou's chair and leaned down. The younger boy's arms curled familiarly around his neck as he reached under his knees and back to pick him up. Rin pressed his nose against Aiichirou's neck and breathed in deeply.
Carefully, he laid Aiichirou down, helping him get comfortable. He slid two pillows behind Aiichirou's back so he was slightly elevated. The silver-hair boy squirmed a bit as he adjusted them. He reached for the drawstrings on his pants and untied the knot. Rin hooked his fingers underneath the band of the loose pajama pants and, with their combined efforts, they were able to get Aiichirou down to his boxers.
Rin settled near his feet at the end of the bed.
He reached out and lifted Aiichirou's left leg slowly before sliding his right leg underneath it and scooting closer. Then he took hold of his bare, right foot and ran his hands against his skin slowly. Neither of them said much as Rin began to gently and firmly rub his thumbs into the sole of Aiichirou's foot, letting his warm hands soothe the muscles there. He rolled his ankle slowly in his hands, constantly rubbing and applying comfortable pressure against the silver-haired boy's foot.
"Good?" he asked, voice low and quiet.
Aiichirou, resting with his hands on his stomach, nodded and hummed in affirmation.
Rin lifted the boy's foot and let it press against the spot between his shoulder and chest while he massaged Aiichirou's calf. He squeezed and stroked his leg, twisting his wrist often to encourage blood circulation. After doing that a few times, he used both hands to push Aiichirou's leg up to his chest. He pressed his palms against the back of the boy's thigh.
"Ah, that's a little too much pressure," Aiichirou said after a second. Rin readjusted his strength and continued the massage.
After repeating the motions up and down the same leg, Rin set Aiichirou down and picked up his other leg. The same procedure was carried out, interrupted occasionally only by Rin who verbally made sure he wasn't hurting the younger boy. Sometimes, Aiichirou moaned in comfortableness. The sound of dry skin rubbing against dry skin lulled them both.
Ten minutes passed before Rin was done. He helped Aiichirou put his pants back and then got off the bed. The younger boy readjusted himself and pulled the pillows from behind his back so he could lie down flat.
Rin turned off the lights and returned to the bed. The curtains were cracked slightly open so that they could see in the dark. Aiichirou had turned so that he was facing the wall. Gingerly, Rin climbed over the boy and settled in the empty spot next to him. It was cramped, since the bunk was only meant for one person and Rin technically should have taken the top one, but neither of them minded. Rin learned to turn in his sleep without flailing his limbs everywhere, and Aiichirou was never an obtrusive sleeper in the first place.
Blue eyes were watching him fondly when he dropped his head on the pillow and kicked up the blankets to cover both of them. Aiichirou's hands were curled up between them, so Rin took hold of one of them and began to massage them too.
Aiichirou's hands were still smaller than his, but they weren't as slender as they were before. As he ran his thumbs over his palm, Rin felt every single one of his callouses. The younger boy patiently let Rin do what he wanted, focusing only on the expression that was on the redhead's face. Bidden by Rin's hands, his fingers curled and uncurled.
Despite how calloused they were, Aiichirou's hands were quite sensitive, so when he let out a small hum from the back of his throat, Rin looked up. Quietly, Aiichirou leaned forward, beckoning Rin to come closer. He did, and they kissed again.
The silver-haired boy squeezed his fingers between Rin's and held onto him tightly. In response, Rin carefully pushed against Aiichirou so that he would roll onto his back. They broke apart and let go of their hands for a second so that Rin could move Aiichirou's legs into a better position, and then they were back together again.
Rin stroked the side of Aiichirou's face as they kissed, and he felt his own hair being yanked on.
As he was with everything else he did, the silver-haired boy was patient as they continued, never rushing Rin beyond what he wanted but matching his pace when the redhead became needier. When Rin caught his lip between his teeth, Aiichirou retaliated by nipping at him afterwards.
It was all very tender, and Rin's heart swelled and dropped as he pressed his legs against the younger boy's still thighs. One of Aiichirou's hands slid down to his side, and his fingers began to slowly rub there.
He could feel the warmth of Aiichirou's leg seeping into his pants, but they were just there, incapable of moving. Against his own strong legs which could still move and support him, it felt so unfair. A bitter feeling began to bloom in Rin's chest as he continued to kiss him.
Finally, Aiichirou turned his head away and laughed a little. "Can't breathe," he said, removing his hand from Rin's hair and resting it on his shoulder instead.
The redhead moved lower to kiss his neck, carefully nibbling at his skin. His bites were never hard enough to leave any marks though. He ran his teeth gently over Aiichirou's pulse. The silver-haired boy breathed in deeply and hummed.
He was always so tolerant and forgiving that it pained Rin.
Even though it had been over a year since it happened, guilt still drilled a new hole in his heart almost every day. He hated remembering. Sometimes, when he woke up in the morning with Aiichirou lying next to him, he'd press his palm against the younger boy's thigh and wait for a response. But he would always just continue sleeping, stomach rising and falling peacefully, completely oblivious to the touch on his legs. And then he'd curl his own toes and take his hand away, his jaw clenched tightly.
Rin always wondered if it was fair for it to be like this, because it was supposed to be the other way around.
The one that the car should have struck was Rin and not Aiichirou. But the younger boy had been too fast, too alert, and too selfless. Without even thinking twice, he had pushed Rin out of the way of the oncoming danger. Rin didn't even register what had happened until he heard the heart-dropping thud of a hard impact and his palms burned with the sudden contact they had with the asphalt. What he saw when he turned around almost stopped his heart.
Everything after that had been a blur.
He remembered calling the police and riding in the ambulance. He remembered sitting in the waiting room of the hospital in complete silence until Seijuurou and the entire swim team burst in with loud and nervous energy. He remembered having to tell everyone what happened over and over again.
He didn't sleep. Not after the surgery ended and the doctor came out to tell them Aiichirou's condition. He was so relieved that the boy was still alive, but what followed that news made him want to die. Aiichirou would probably never walk again. The sudden feeling of vertigo and nausea that hit him afterward was something that still haunted his nightmares. Then, they were finally allowed to visit Aiichirou in small groups. He wasn't conscious.
The entire team stayed at the hospital that night.
He didn't leave the bedside for many, many hours, only blankly staring at the silver-haired boy's pale face. Aiichirou's unresponsive hand was cold as he held it.
He stayed until Aiichirou's parents finally arrived, having taken the earliest flight possible to see their son. Rin wanted so badly to disappear off the face of the Earth when he saw them. He couldn't remember what he told them, but everyone was so emotionally distraught at that moment that it wouldn't have mattered what he said.
The overwhelming sense of guilt for ruining their son weighed on him terribly, and he couldn't stop his hands from shaking for a long time after that.
He remembered a lot but, at the same time, he remembered nothing.
Rin wasn't really able to recall what happened. He just knew, vaguely, in selectively blurry and sharp shards, things that transpired afterwards.
Rin visited Aiichirou every day until he woke up on the fourth. By the time he got there, the doctor had explained the situation to him. His parents were in the room with Aiichirou for hours after that, so Rin just stayed outside, waiting. After a while, they finally left. Both of Aiichirou's parents had given him such an exhausted and defeated look when they passed by each other, Rin didn't know what to do.
They had said nothing to blame him or indicate that they were upset at him, but Rin still felt terrible. He had nodded at them jerkily before walking into the room.
The boy looked awful. Pale and wasted, his face thinned considerably even only after four days. Unlike his parents, whose eyes were red and puffy from crying, Aiichirou only looked sallow and tired. He hadn't cried at all.
His eyes stung the moment he saw the boy sitting up weakly in his bed, but Rin restrained himself. He almost broke down when Aiichirou smiled at him as if nothing was wrong at all.
"Hey," he had said coarsely once he got within comfortable earshot of the boy.
"Rin-senpai," he replied, his voice soft and weak from disuse. He looked a little woozy from the pain medication he was getting intravenously but was alert enough. "I heard that you're okay. I'm glad," he said, "that you're not hurt."
The second he heard that, something in him broke and anger flared in him.
That was the first thing Aiichirou said to him after waking up. It was the first thing he wanted to say after everything that had happened.
I'm glad that you're not hurt.
Rin felt like throwing up again.
More than his own situation, more than the fact that he could no longer stand or walk or swim ever again, Aiichirou was glad that Rin was alright.
He wanted to say a lot of things.
He wanted to yell at the silver-haired boy, Fuck that! Care about yourself! Hate me! You can't walk anymore because of me! I've done nothing but cause you pain, so why did you do that? Why don't you hate me? Don't be glad that I'm fine. Be angry, damnit. Get angry at me!
But he couldn't, because his throat had clamped up so tightly on him that nothing but a strangled yell of despair escaped his mouth as he turned around and slammed the door on Aiichirou.
Rin knew how much he had hurt both of them by doing that, but it wasn't until five days later that guilt and self-loathing and made him return to the hospital.
Aiichirou had said nothing when the door opened and he walked in. He didn't say anything when Rin sat down on the chair next to him silently. But he did jump a little when the redhead suddenly leaned over the bed and hugged him as fiercely as he dared. His warm arms went around his shoulders, which, to Rin, felt more fragile than anything in the world.
Without any restraints, Rin cried into his shoulder, his voice slurring out in hitching breaths and whimpers as he said, "I'm sorry, Ai, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry, it's all my fault—I'm so sorry," over and over again.
It was then that Aiichirou began to sob as well, his days-long, shock-induced calm finally breaking as the frustration and fear of the current situation washed over the two of them strongly.
"I'm scared! I'm so scared, Senpai! What am I going to do now? What's going to happen? I'm so scared. Senpai, please—please, I—"
The only thing that kept Aiichirou from starting to hyperventilate and the nurses from having to make him go to sleep was Rin, who kept holding onto him and refusing to let go of his hand until the younger boy fell asleep again.
That was when he made up his mind and decided.
And then it was another blur again. Things happened so rapidly afterwards, it was as if life had been put on fast-forward for several months.
Aiichirou's parents wanted to take him out of Samezuka and have him transfer to a school closer to them so they could take care of him, but Aiichirou had adamantly refused. They stayed for as long as they could before returning home, though they still visited frequently for the few months following the incident.
They never blamed Rin for what happened.
Aiichirou's life changed drastically after that. He was transferred to another room, and Rin insisted on going with him. Rather than find a caretaker for Aiichirou for the initial months, Rin took over that job. Physical rehabilitation courses taught both of them how to adjust to Aiichirou's new lifestyle.
How to help him get in and out of his wheelchair, how to make sure everything was easily accessible to him, where all the ramps on campus were—Rin learned all of this and more. The redhead started doing so much for Aiichirou that the younger boy actually had to stop him one day and ask him why he was doing it.
"Senpai, I never have and never will blame you for what happened," he had started with, his hand gripped tightly around Rin's wrist. "If you're feeling guilty about this, then please don't be. It wasn't your fault. It wasn't anyone's fault. And I'm not your obligation or responsibility." His hand fell away and went back into his lap. "So don't feel like you have to do this for me," he said, smiling regrettably.
Rin didn't know who or what he was regretting, but as much as it frustrated him that Aiichirou wasn't angry at him, his heart swelled. He didn't know how to put his reasons in words, so he didn't use them at all.
That was when they had their first kiss, and even more changed after that.
It wasn't an easy journey. In addition to having to relearn how to do many things over again because Aiichirou could no longer use his legs, Rin had to work with Aiichirou to figure out the dynamics of their new relationship as well. There were more than a few scuffles involved with the process, but they both came out of it for the better.
And now, they were lying in bed and Rin had stopped kissing him. He was only resting his forehead against Aiichirou's collarbone and breathing. The silver-haired boy was running his fingers through his hair, untangling knots and smoothing the locks down slowly. Sometimes, he stopped moving, and Rin could tell he was drifting off into sleep.
Rin didn't want to think of all those things right now, but Aiichirou was being so soft and tender that he couldn't help it. Tears began to fall from his eyes, completely unbidden. Aiichirou startled awake when he felt his shirt getting damp.
"Senpai? Rin-senpai, are you crying?" he asked, half-propping himself up on his elbows. The concern in his voice was overwhelming. When Rin's arms wrapped around him tightly, he fell back down. He returned the desperate embrace, still stroking the redhead's hair soothingly. "Senpai, shhh. It's okay. It's okay, Rin-senpai…. I'm here."
Not once did he say, "don't cry," or "please stop," because Aiichirou was patient and sympathetic. Never did he make Rin feel bad for crying. All he ever did was keep holding onto him until it was over, but in the end, it only made Rin feel even worse.
It wasn't fair to Aiichirou, because he was the one who should have been crying and Rin should have been the one comforting him. Everything was backwards like it always was, and Rin didn't know what to do.
He didn't know what he ever did to deserve Aiichirou.
No matter how cold and rude he was with Aiichirou, the other boy never resented him. Even after he yelled at him and pushed him away, Aiichirou was only ever understanding and forgiving, and it hurt Rin so much. Regardless of what happened, Rin felt as if the younger boy was constantly putting Rin's happiness before his own. For once, he just wanted Aiichirou to consider his own happiness first. But that just wasn't in his nature.
The silver-haired boy was too kind-hearted and self-sacrificial for that. And Rin didn't know whether or not someone like him deserved someone like Aiichirou.
He didn't know, but he was going to continue and do his best for the boy, just as Aiichirou had always done for him. Now, more than ever, he was going to make sure that Aiichirou would be happy no matter what.
"Rin-senpai," Aiichirou's voice floated to him, "I love you so much."
And Rin started crying even harder until he started laughing and pressed messy kisses against the younger boy, embarrassedly saying the phrase back to him with tenfold more emotions.
"I love you too. I fucking love you so damn much, Ai."
And his heart began to mend piece by piece as guilt fell away to love and affection.
A/N: Written for the prompt: "Could you write a RinTori thing about Nitori losing the use of his legs? I just think it would be nice to see Rin taking care of Nitori and kinda having their roles switched up a bit."