His heart pounded in his chest and his breathing was hard. His lungs were bursting, unable to take in enough oxygen to catch up with how fast his blood was flowing. His bad leg was throbbing from an old injury, screaming in pain from the stress it was being put under, but still he would not stop. He didn't even slow down. He couldn't, someone's life was at risk.
'We found him! He's standing on the cliff by the beachside! You have to go to him before it's too late! GO!!'
Someone important was in trouble...and it was all his fault. He had driven them to that out of his own selfishness and stupidity.
Because even though he cared for this person and led them to believe he was by their side, he had also harbored feelings for someone else at the same time. Someone he thought he would never have a chance at, but when that chance miraculously presented itself, he took it.
He took it...and he was so wrong.
So he ran, harder than he'd ever run before. The dash of a lifetime to make it to that person and right his mistake. Through the pain his body suffered, he ran and ran, and prayed that he could fix what he'd done. If only he could fix it; if only he could get there.
"Wait for me, Yanagi-san!"
Tachibana Kippei gritted his teeth, then pushed to run faster. He was beyond his limit but could not stop. Not until he reached the beachside cliff, with Yanagi Renji's straight back in his sight, did he even slow down.
He wasn't too late.
Approaching the other from behind, he threw his arms around his waist and shoulders, burying his face in the warm neck and holding him so close. "I'm sorry!" he cried out. "I'm so sorry. I was wrong."
"Tachi..." Yanagi's head tilted down, looking into the water so far below him. And then his back stiffened. "You finally got what you wanted."
"You've wanted Tezuka for so long, and now you have your chance. You'd be a fool to give that up."
Tachibana held the other youth even tighter, a quiet vow to himself to never let go. "I thought I did, I thought that was what I wanted, but I was wrong. You're the one I want. The only one. I would be a fool to give you up."
Yanagi lifted a hand, placing it on the arm around his shoulder. It was an intimate gesture, and it gave Tachibana hope that he would be forgiven. But then his heart sank when he asked of him "why should I believe you?"
What could he say to that? He had taken Yanagi's heart and trust and broken them once already. Taken everything they'd built together and crushed it when he forcefully kissed Tezuka Kunimitsu.
Only to find...that kiss was not everything he'd dreamed it would be. It did not fill him up like he thought it would. Did not complete him or give him warm fuzzies like...like Yanagi's kisses did. The body he held down, the hair he ran fingers through, the voice moaning against him when he mashed their tongues together...none of it was Yanagi. None of it was as satisfying as it was with his genius boyfriend.
But it was when he realized this and released Tezuka that he discovered Yanagi had seen everything.
His body slumped, though he still kept his arms around the other. "You...don't have to. I wouldn't expect you to." And he didn't fight it when Yanagi finally broke from his embrace.
Tachibana's face was a mask of resignation. It was easy to read, if one knew what to look for. He was sorry for what had happened, and was ready to accept whatever he'd brought upon himself because of it. So it gave Yanagi a small dose of pleasure to surprise him by saying "I do believe you."
"When you kiss," he went on, "you always keep your eyes closed." And then his lips curved into a smile. "You get lost in it. But at that time your eyes stayed one-third open; you weren't into it. Your mind was...elsewhere."
His black eyes widened a bit, then closed as a smile crossed his own face. He didn't have to say it. Yanagi already knew it, of course he knew, that his mind and his heart had been with him.
He took the other boy's face in his hands and gently pulled him closer, then slowly leaned in for a kiss. A kiss that filled him up and made him feel complete. A kiss that gave him warm fuzzies and made his eyelids slip closed.
That was it - that was right.
"See...if you'd have jumped you would have missed that."
They had stayed there on the beachside cliff long enough to watch the sunset sink into the ocean. Side-by-side they sat, Tachibana's arm around Yanagi's shoulders. The view was beautiful, and they were silent up until that observation had been made.
And then Yanagi's shoulders started shaking, and the other didn't understand until he threw his head back, laughing out loud. "You...you thought I was here to jump?"
"Well...Kamio and the others made it sound like..."
The seizing fit lasted a bit longer, until he was able to get the chuckles under control, briefly wiping a tear from his eye. "I'd have thought you knew me better than that." He chuckled again before continuing. "No, I simply like coming here to think. It feels good, the air and scent of the sea."
".... So I ran all this way , thinking you were going to die or something, when you had no intention...."
"'To win without risk is to triumph without glory.' ..........Pierre Corneille, 1636."
Tachibana shook his head, though he was smiling.