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Koujaku's heart hammered in his chest just from hearing his voice. God, it'd been so long. Even that one, slightly confused word sent his mind reeling.

Aoba was in Germany, he reminded himself, thousands of miles away. They'd probably never see each other again. Even if they did, it'd never be the same.

So why did he still feel the way he did?


Aoba's voice snapped him out of his thoughts. He opened his mouth.

But what was he going to say?

Aoba, please, come home. I need to talk to you. I need to tell you something, I've kept it a secret, but I'm ready to tell you.

Once again, he heard that voice, so lovely, so nostalgic - so painful. Hesitant now, almost concerned. "...Hello?"

His voice shook, but Koujaku forced himself to speak. "...Aoba?"

As if trying to betray all of his feelings, his voice quivered with every one of his barely contained emotions. Above all, he sounded… desperate. Koujaku bit his lip. This was even worse than he'd imagined it would be.

"Koujaku? Is that you?"

He sounded so happy. Koujaku smiled despite himself. "Yeah, it's me. I'm here."

"I haven't talked to you in such a long time! Geez, I've been meaning too, but there's so much going on over here, and-"

"No, no," Koujaku assured him, his smile widening just a bit. "It's fine. I know you're busy. So, what exactly have you been up to over there?"

He could practically see Aoba beaming. "It's so amazing over here, but everything's so different. First of all, everything I've seen has been ridiculously fancy - the food, the house…"

After a while, Koujaku's forced smile became easier and easier to maintain. He just listened to Aoba talk, listened to how excited he was, listened to how much he was enjoying himself.

They spent probably a good two hours on the phone, laughing and telling each other everything that had happened in the months since they'd last seen each other. Koujaku grinned. Aoba hadn't changed a bit.

"...And let me tell you, Koujaku," Aoba laughed, "I swear, I thought caviar was supposed to be good. It's so nasty, I couldn't even..."

The line went quiet for a minute. "Hold on a sec," Aoba said quickly.

Koujaku furrowed his brow, but he complied. "...Alright," he replied hesitantly.

He could hear muffled pieces of a conversation.

'What, Noiz? Huh? ...Now?'

He gritted his teeth, an unconscious action. His grip on the phone tightened and he listened more intently.

'I'm talking to Koujaku. Can't we reschedule?''

'Aoba, you know we can't.' That was Noiz's voice - just the sound alone made Koujaku's blood boil. He didn't deserve to have Aoba.

A sigh on Aoba's part. 'No, I know, I just… okay, fine, let me finish up the call.' There was another short pause, followed by a groan, and then Aoba was back on the phone.

"Listen, Koujaku, Noiz and I have to make it to a meeting. But it was great catching up with you. I have to get ready, so I've gotta go, but we'll talk soon, okay?"

Noiz and I.

That phrase embedded itself in his mind like a shard of glass, digging in deeper and deeper, a slight pain soon growing unbearable.

Noiz and I.

Noiz and I.

His breathing was starting to get a little out of control.

Koujaku swallowed, telling himself that it was okay. It was okay. Everything was fine. He could handle this.

"...Yeah," he agreed, his voice strained. "Yeah, I'll… call you soon, okay?"

No. No, don't go, he wanted to say. Please, I need to talk to you. There's something you need to know. But his voice failed him.

"Sounds good," Aoba replied. "Bye!"

"...Bye," he finally managed, the word nothing but a small croak in his throat. A beep sounded as Aoba hung up.

Koujaku stood still for a moment after the call ended, and then another. He slowly brought the phone down from his ear and stared at it.

He narrowed his eyes, gritted his teeth, and growled.

He hadn't said anything.

He hadn't said a single fucking thing that he'd wanted to.

Why couldn't I do it? What stopped me? What got in my way?

Questions hammered relentlessly in his head.




Why why why why why why WHY COULDN'T I DO IT

It was a while before Koujaku could pick himself off of the floor, and even longer before he could raise his head.

The phone wasn't in his hand.

His eyes slowly moved upwards, finally spotting a mess of cracked plastic and wires at the other end of his room, right by his bed. It had been completely flipped over.

He slowly surveyed the damage, taking in the ripped curtains, the clawed furniture, the floorboards torn up and strewn about carelessly.

The red slowly crept along his hair, and he noticed nothing.