The warm water was bliss against his exhausted muscles. He lathered some shampoo in his hair and sighed. He never realized how filthy he had been until all of the dirt and grass-stains had been washed away, leaving him with nothing but a feeling of rejuvenation.
He let his mind wander as he rubbed conditioner into his hair, letting it soak in for a bit. He thought back on the day's events fondly. Shou had called him early that morning, unnecessarily reminding him of their practice match, and then he had an uneventful day at school; breezed through all of his homework during lunch and then gathered his team up to head down to the local football field where Shou waited happily for him with his team.
The match had been surprisingly difficult considering the blow Sakura Josui’s team had taken due to illness. Shou had been playing ferociously, as usual, and had assisted in a few goals, not ever hinting at how he was feeling.
Tsubasa decided in that single moment that Kazamatsuri Shou was an amazing actor.
There was no way any normal person could have pulled off what he did. Aside from being a bit more absent-minded and tiring a little quicker than usual, one couldn’t have found anything wrong with Shou.
The flushed look on his face could easily have been equated with him either blushing, or being excited about playing football, as both weren’t unusual occurrences for the teen. The unfocused look in his eye, however, was. Though he supposed it was no one’s fault that it had gone unnoticed.
He frowned. Had they not collided, they probably wouldn’t have found out Shou had been sick, so that in itself was a good thing. Although, Shou probably wouldn’t have passed out in the first place and would have most likely spent the next day relaxing at home if they hadn’t.
And then there was the matter of that kiss…
Tsubasa blushed ferociously, thankful he was in the privacy of his shower.
He hadn’t meant to kiss Shou. It had just happened -- spur-of-the-moment sort of thing. That’s not to say he didn’t enjoy it. He just didn’t know why.
Shou was his friend – probably his best friend. He never had any thoughts about the boy involving anything other than friendship. In fact, he had never had thoughts about any boy that was anything more than friendship.
So what was different now?
He was disturbed from his thoughts as a shock went through his body. He hastily turned off the shower and gave it the best glare he could mutter through chattering teeth. The hot water had run out, soaking him with icy-cold water instead.
He must have been in there longer than he thought.
Grabbing a towel, he quickly dried himself off and pulled on the clothes he had brought in with him; a pair of old jeans, a green shirt, and a red zip-up hooded sweatshirt. He rubbed his hair with the towel until it was only mildly damp and left it hanging around his shoulders as he exited.
“Took you long enough, Shrimp. We were about to send in a search party.”
“Oh, were you worried? I appreciate the sentiment.”
Ignoring whatever comeback Satou came up with, Tsubasa turned to Mizuno. “Did you get a hold of Kazamatsuri-san?”
“Yes,” he answered. “He said he couldn’t get off any earlier, but that he has ‘full faith in your healing abilities.’”
Tsubasa nodded and motioned to Shou. “Did he wake up yet?”
“Not yet,” replied Fuwa. “This isn’t the first time for him to have slept this long though. He has done it before, and considering that he is ill it would be reasonable to believe that he would sleep longer than he normally does.”
“If that’s the case,” said the red-head, “How about we get something to eat?”
Mizuno’s stomach gurgled and he blushed. Shige laughed. “It’s about time!”
Tsubasa took Fuwa’s relative silence as agreement. “We’re running low on groceries, so you’ll have to deal with noodles.”
“Aww…and I really felt like having some seafood!” whined Satou.
“Too bad for you.”
“It’s better being pretty than being ugly.”
Mizuno sighed and pushed Satou into the hall. “Be quiet, Shige, or you’ll go hungry.”
Fuwa followed and Tsubasa closed the bedroom door gently behind them.
Once in the kitchen, Tsubasa rummaged through the drawers for a few packets of instant noodles and prepared them in a pot of boiled water. He had found some vegetables and eggs to put into the mix as well so it wouldn’t be a completely lackluster meal.
When it was done cooking he poured it into four bowls and set them on the table. There was a quietly murmured ‘thank you’ from both Mizuno and Fuwa. Shige merely began eating, pausing only to give him a thumbs up. He ate his own portion quickly and quietly.
As soon as he had finished, he placed his bowl in the sink and went to check up on Shou.
He opened the door silently and heard Shou ask the room quietly:
“Right here,” he replied from the doorway. “You’re at my house. You passed out and my house was the closest to the field.”
Shou turned to look at him, clearly startled. “Shiina-san! You surprised me!”
His voice was rather raspy, as though he had a sore throat and Tsubasa cringed inwardly, both from how he sounded and from what he called him.
“I thought I told you to call me ‘Tsubasa’?”
Shou was jolted back to reality and stared at him blankly for a moment. He watched in amusement as a blush worked its way onto his face and he murmured a quick apology, though Tsubasa wasn’t sure what it was for; the name, or the incident altogether. He waved it off, instead inquiring as to the boy’s health.
“I’m fine Shiina…err…Tsubasa-san.” Shou replied, correcting himself when he saw the frown on his friend’s face. “How are you feeling?”
Tsubasa gave him a habitual flick to his nose. “I am fine.” He gave him a companionable slap to his back, a smirk adorning his face. “I didn’t receive as much of the impact as you. I guess it’s because I’m taller.” He grinned. “You’d better catch up soon, Shou!”
They both fell uncharacteristically silent and he took this moment to examine his friend, wanting to make sure there were no injuries he left untreated. Satisfied that there weren’t, Tsubasa began to observe his friend closely. He had never really had a chance to before, and now seemed as good a time as any.
His face hadn’t changed much in the years they had known each other. His eyes were still large, still the crisp amber colour, and set in his still rather childish face. His hair was still the dark, chocolate brown colour it had been when they met, though it was a bit longer and had a feathery look to it. He wondered for a moment what it would feel like.
There was a tiny scar, unnoticeable if you weren’t looking for it, above his left eye from the first game they had played each other. He smiled. That had been the first time he had seen the ‘real’ Shou – determined, unrelenting and playing to the point of injury.
Tsubasa’s interest had been piqued, and Shou had done nothing to dissuade it as of yet.
The door swung open loudly, startling them. Mizuno and Fuwa walked in quietly, while Satou cried out a greeting.
“Yo! Puppy! How’re you feeling?”
Shou smiled at him. “I’m feeling fine Shige-san. Don’t worry.”
Tsubasa sent him a look, knowing that he was lying. He assumed the others deduced as much as well considering the doubtful look on Mizuno’s face. Fuwa, ever-observant, wouldn’t miss the signs of illness and Satou remained as unreadable as ever, though he thought he caught a flash of something in his eyes.
Satou frowned and then flashed a cheeky grin. “We’ll always worry about you, Kaza!” He ruffled Shou’s hair. “’Cause if we didn’t, we wouldn’t know where you were, and then we might step on you. That would be an awfully hard mess to clean off your cleats!”
Mizuno sent him a glare that the blond seemed to ignore. “Besides,” he continued. “You’re our friend. It’s our job to be worried!”
Mizuno smiled weakly in agreement. Shou looked at him worriedly, but kept his mouth closed. Tsubasa had an idea about what the boy was thinking though.
“Mizuno, you should rest. You look exhausted.”
Shou sent him a questioning glance. Tsubasa looked at him and he nodded his thanks.
Looking at the clock Mizuno finally conceded. “I suppose you’re right Shiina-san. It is getting late…” He looked at Shou, who offered an embarrassed smile. “Are you sure you can handle looking after him yourself until Kazamatsuri-san arrives?”
“I think he handled Shou pretty well by himself earlier, don’t you think, Tatsu-bon?”
Tsubasa cringed inwardly. Mizuno rewarded the blond with a seething glare, and Shou turned a rather interesting shade of red. Fuwa decided to clarify matters for the blushing teen.
“He did manage to carry Kazamatsuri here fairly well on his own despite his own injury, and then proceeded to tend to him sufficiently enough by himself.” He stated, and then paused, looking somewhat uncomfortable before continuing. “And Kazamatsuri-san did say he would arrive here at approximately , which is only two hours away,”
Fuwa nodded self-assuringly and Shou smiled to himself. Tsubasa glanced at him, noticing the smile slipping off of his face as though he were deep in thought. Satou led Mizuno out, followed shortly after by Fuwa.
Satou called out from the hallway. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do, Shrimp.”
“Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.”
Satou merely laughed flippantly. Tsubasa heard the door shut behind them and sighed.
He looked at Shou questioningly, wondering what he wanted. Shou elaborated.
“…What time is it?”
“It’s almost .”
Tsubasa smirked as he saw his friend calculating how many hours he had been sleeping, absently counting on his fingers. Shou’s eyes widened as his came to the conclusion.
“…Half the day?” He asked thickly.
Tsubasa nodded, “Nearly.”
Placing a hand on the striker’s shoulder in what he hoped was a comforting gesture he continued. “You had a fever as well, Shou.” He kept a tinge of accusation in his voice. Shou needed to learn to pay more attention to himself. “You shouldn’t have been playing with a fever.”
His response was as Tsubasa expected. “I didn’t know I had one.”
He said it so earnestly that he had to smile. He sat down on the bed next to Shou and pushed him back into it so he was lying down again.
“Go back to sleep, Shou. I would make you eat, but there isn’t anything here that your stomach would be able to keep down…” he frowned, noticing the boy’s aversion to the bright lights in the room. “I’ll go get some acetaminophen for your headache. I’ll be right back.”
Tsubasa shut the door quietly behind him and walked to the kitchen, grabbing the headache medicine from its resting place next to the coffee pot. His father often got headaches, probably from drinking so many caffeinated beverages, and kept bottles placed sporadically around the house.
Bringing a palm to rest against his head he opened the bottle, poured himself a glass of water and popped two of the pills into his mouth. He poured another glass of water to bring Shou and exited the kitchen, making sure to dim the bright lights on his way out. He also made sure to grab some medicine for nausea from the bathroom so Shou would be able to eat a bit later on.
When he re-entered the room where he left his friend, he saw the boy looking around the room curiously.
“Is this your room?” He asked, seeing Tsubasa come in. He set the glass of water down on the table next to Shou and proceeded to hand him the pills as he replied.
“Yep,” he looked around as well, “Is it that obvious?”
“Hmm… Sort of, I suppose,” said Shou thoughtfully. “It seems like the type of room you would have. Neat and messy at the same time.” He laughed softly. “Isn’t it strange that this is the first time I’ve been in your room?”
Realizing that it was, Tsubasa couldn’t help but agree. “I guess it never really came to a point where we had any need for it.”
“It’s nice though. A person’s room really says a lot about the person themselves.”
This caught Tsubasa's attention. “Why’s that?”
Shou furrowed his brows in thought, “Well… I guess it says a lot about their personality. A person whose room is really, really clean probably has a lot of worries in their life, while a person whose room is messy may be too busy to tidy it… But…it isn’t really the content of the room, but the feel of it.”
Shou was talking with his hands; using them to emphasize his point or to search for the proper word.
“This room is a lot like you. It’s warm and comforting, sophisticated and… subtly loud if that’s possible.” He laughed. “That probably didn’t make any sense.”
“Not really… but I get what you’re trying to say.”
Shou smiled at him. “That’s good. I never was very good at explaining things, even when I wasn’t sick.”
Tsubasa motioned to the glass of water he brought in. “Take your pills before we forget. Then maybe you can try and eat something.” Shou looked positively green at the thought. He laughed, “Or not.”
Shou took the medicine as he was told.
“Now go to sleep,” he demanded.
“Only if you agree to sleep as well.”
Tsubasa looked at his friend in shock, not used to Shou being so forceful, though he supposed it was only natural. He must’ve rubbed off on the boy. After all, they had been hanging around each other quite a bit over the past year or so.
He consented and flopped down onto his bed next to him. Almost immediately he felt his limbs relax and his eyes drooped. Shou grinned at him.
“Nice try, Tsubasa-san. You look like a walking zombie.”
He replied dryly, “Nice observation, Shou-san.”
“Well, the great black circles under your eyes were a dead giveaway…you’d have to be blind to miss them.”
“Makes me wonder how you managed to see them then.”
They laughed tiredly and Shou arranged the blankets more comfortably around them. Minutes later found them asleep – curled up in the warmth of each other’s arms.