"Would you like to explain?" Keigo asked first. He knew half the answer, what was contained in the bottle. The wonders of search engines.
Kaoru didn't come any closer and the length of the living room between them seemed to contain a terrible revelation.
He took an unsteady breath before speaking quietly.
"It was a heart defect. They found it when I was twelve. The surgery was a success. I just need to take some medication and monitor my condition."
Factual and devoid of any blemishes.
"Why didn't you tell me?" Keigo demanded.
"It isn't important," Kaoru replied and looked away.
Keigo stood up and said, more curtly than he meant to, "The hell it isn't. Wouldn't all of this give you trouble?"
"The doctors said that my condition wouldn't restrict any physical activities."
Again, only facts.
"That's not what I meant. Not when I am fucking you."
Even Keigo knew that he had gone too far with his words.
It was the horror in Kaoru's eyes which enraged him. As if being sick was his fault. As if Kaoru had caused his own illness.
"Kaoru-" Keigo tried again.
"What do you want me to say?" Kaoru whispered so quietly.
Then the words poured out in a torrent, barely controlled by a tight voice.
"That my parents loved me enough to give up everything to pay for my medical bills? That they ended up indebted to the moneylenders because of the economy? Or that before I could repay them for what they've done, they died in an accident?"
"The police report said that my father must have been so exhausted because he didn't see the oncoming truck," Kaoru carried out listlessly. "They didn't have to work so hard if it wasn't for me. And I've been wondering ever since if it was my fault."
Then those dark eyes, brimmed with unshed tears, looked up and asked, "Is that what you wanted to know, Keigo?"
Keigo stared as Kaoru's face crumpled in resignation and sadness.
He had committed numerous hideous and unkind acts in his life. Threw away words so carelessly more times than he could count.
Never did he feel as contemptible as he did right now.
"I-I should go. Can I have that back please?"
He walked over and handed over the bottle to Kaoru.
When Kaoru's hand reached out, he pulled him into arms. The bottle fell onto the floor.
Kaoru gasped in surprised and tried to push him away.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry," Keigo murmured and held onto him firmly. "It's not your fault. None of it was."
The body in his arms stilled and he could feel tears wetting his shirt.
"You must believe that," Keigo insisted fiercely.
He couldn't remember the last time he had to comfort anyone. Yet Keigo needed Kaoru to stop trembling and to know that he did no wrong.
Kaoru's only fault was to have a conscience and a heart. Not everyone did.
Slowly, carefully, a pair of thin arms circled around his back and hugged him tightly.
They stood like that for a few minutes, quiet with only their breaths speaking.
He had waited to hear those words for so long. For someone, anyone to say them to him. Kaoru hadn't known how much he wanted to be told that it wasn't his doing. Those simple words removed the clamps around his chest and eased his soul.
How did this man, a stranger for all intents and purposes, manage to pry the fact which had haunted him ever since that day out of him? The precise minute he received a call at home from the hospital.
In that moment, Kaoru knew that his defenses had crumbled.
"We can stop this if-if it makes you uncomfortable," he offered, ignoring the painful lurch in his throat. He owed it to Keigo at least.
"Didn't you say that the condition doesn't prevent you from engaging in physical exertion?" Keigo drew back and asked pointedly.
"Yes, that's true," Kaoru answered honestly.
"Are you bored already?"
"No." Kaoru found the question absurd.
"Have you found the love of your life?" Keigo continued.
"N-no!" Kaoru was flustered. It came too close to what he was in danger of.
"Then I see no problem in proceeding," Keigo concluded as if it was perfectly rational before adding softly, "Though we can stop for today."
Kaoru wanted nothing more than to be taken by this man now. When he had unknowingly stolen a piece of his heart. When he didn't show any dripping sympathy but just told Kaoru that he wasn't wrong as if it was an indisputable fact.
He wanted to laugh helplessly at the irony of it all.
"No need," Kaoru whispered.
He tiptoed slightly and kissed Keigo. Quick and soft, it wasn't a kiss of passion. Kaoru simply wanted to because of feelings he didn't dare to put a name to.
Keigo looked surprised but only briefly.
Then he gave Kaoru a wicked smile. "If you insist."
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